Pore over the song titles on rapper Ludacris’s 2015 album, Ludaversal, and some themes emerge that are seemingly tailored to modern-day Acura. “Grass is Always Greener” could describe Acura’s abandonment of storied nameplates like Legend and Integra for alphanumerics; “Not Long” could refer to its belief that a seat in the full-luxury pantheon is just around the corner; and “Beast Mode” could be a nod to the upcoming NSX supercar. In reality, the album’s sepia-toned cover art, which depicts the rapper’s 1993 Acura Legend sedan parked beside a private jet, is the only connection to Acura. Yes, Ludacris owns a Legend—and it was recently in an accident, so Acura is going to fix up the car and bring it to this November’s SEMA show.
It seems Ludacris is among that rare subset of celebrities who keep old cars around even after they’ve made enough money to buy literally anything else. (And the even rarer niche of those who have had their old car restored by its original maker.) We don’t doubt that Ludacris owns other cars, but keeping a ’93 Acura Legend? That’s keeping it real. Proving that he—or someone—still drives the thing is the recent (and unfortunate) incident that left the Legend with a badly damaged rear door and quarter panel.
The car will undergo repairs at the Acura Design studio in L.A., and a few modern embellishments will be added by Acura’s global creative director, Dave Marek. (The process can be followed on social media, via the hashtag “LegendaryDuo.”) There’s no indication of what, precisely, Acura plans to add to the now-22-year-old sedan, but as Marek puts it, “We wanted to put our own stamp on the Legend while retaining the essence of the original that Ludacris has worked so hard to maintain over the years.”
Could the iconic, but slow-selling, Dodge Viper be headed for its final off-ramp? That’s the implication buried in the proposed FCA/UAW contract, which has the boisterous muscle car’s Detroit assembly plant shutting down in 2017.
The news about the Conner Avenue facility, where the Viper is largely hand-built, comes from the obsessive Mopar watchers at Allpar. Conner Avenue has been the home of the Viper since its launch in 1992 and also built the Plymouth Prowler.
Will the VW diesel-emissions scandal permanently derail diesel technology for passenger cars in the United States? “No way,” says Mark Reuss, GM’s Executive Vice President of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. Speaking at a recent press event, Reuss said that both the upcoming Chevrolet Cruze Diesel and the diesel program for Cadillac are safe.
Chevrolet has officially confirmed a diesel version of the redesigned 2016 Cruze, which is larger but lighter than its predecessor. The diesel is set to join the lineup for 2017, and Chevy hopes it will build on the performance of the outgoing Cruze Turbo Diesel. Chevrolet is sticking with the plan, said Reuss: “The Cruze Diesel is too good not to do it.”
The spy shots suggest the styling tweaks for the facelifted car will be subtle, with a revised grille and air intakes. Black cladding partially obscures the new LED headlights, while the redesigned fascia creates a smoother overall shape, with particular focus paid to the front wings.
The bluff rear of the Mulsanne’s bootlid has also been made smoother, with minimal changes to the rear lights and bumper. The most noticeable alterations for the long-wheelbase version are the elongated rear doors and extended glasshouse.
The twin-turbocharged 6.75-litre V8 engine, which was completely refreshed for the Mulsanne when it was launched in 2010, is expected to remain unchanged, with 505bhp and 752lb ft of torque. Bentley remains tight-lipped on details about the facelift, but with a hybrid Bentayga SUV already confirmed for production, a hybrid powertrain is likely to appear in the Mulsanne too, as previewed in 2014 in the Mulsanne-based Bentley Hybrid Concept.
When Ford’s all-new 2017 F-150 Raptor made its debut at last year’s Detroit auto show, it was in stubbier extended cab “SuperCab” form. But the truck will also be offered as a larger SuperCrew cab with four forward-hinged doors, and these photos of an undisguised prototype give us our best view yet at what the new four-door version will look like.
Unlike the four-door Raptor prototype that we saw testing off-road, this version wears the production model’s new front fascia (instead of a regular F-150’s nose), with “F-O-R-D” once again spelled out in the center of the Raptor-specific all-black mesh grille, the slatted hood, the unique front bumper that allows for steeper approach angles, and the front skid plate clearly visible underneath. The prototype also clearly shows the Raptor’s unique front and rear fenders, and the knobby off-road tires on black, six-spoke wheels.
The SuperCrew has the same 5.5-foot cargo box as the two-door SuperCab, and naturally it also will share the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 (promised to out-muscle the previous, 411-hp 6.2-liter V-8) and ten-speed automatic.
German regulators, long criticized for having a too-cozy relationship with the German auto industry, have decided that Volkswagen—which had proposed a voluntary recall of its emissions-cheating diesel vehicles—will face a mandatory one instead.
In a press release, Volkswagen said it “welcomed the swift decision by the [Federal Motor Transport Authority].” Uh, right. The German government’s decision has implications for the rest of Europe, as VW has announced that it is recalling not just the 2.4 million diesel cars in Germany, but a total of 8.5 million throughout Europe. The recall covers Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, and Škoda brands.
The Volkswagen Golf Cabrio is set to return to the U.S. market, for the first time since 2002. According to a source close to the project, the next-generation Cabrio will be sold here alongside the Beetle convertible and will fill the gap that will be left when production of the Eos ends in a few months.
Positioned slightly below the Eos, the upcoming new Golf Cabrio’s concept will closely mirror that of the current car (pictured), which is still based on the Mark VII Golf and was just treated to a minor update for 2016.
Based on the VW Group’s MQB architecture, the new Golf Cabriolet will likely come with a plethora of powertrain options; we suspect that the TDI models, which have been popular in Europe, will be kept off the U.S. market.
Five years after being purchased by Geely, Volvo is well on its way to eliminating all remnants of previous owner Ford. The Swedish company recently announced its second Volvo-designed modular platform and is emphasizing its embrace of hybrid and electric powertrains. As Michael Fleiss, Volvo’s VP of powertrain R&D told us: “All future Volvo products can and will be electrified.”
The Volvo XC90 is the first drivable example of the firm’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) modular architecture (shown above in PHEV form), which very soon will spawn an S80-replacing large sedan called the S90. In the longer term, the platform will underpin new vehicles in the “60” family (S60, V60, XC60). The only fixed measurement in SPA vehicles is that between the dashboard and the front axle.
Now the company has detailed a new, smaller platform, called Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), that will be the basis of the next generation of its 40-series vehicles as well as some Geely products. The old S40abandoned our market in 2011, but CMA-based compact Volvos will return to the United States sometime in 2017. Like SPA vehicles (and MQB products from the Volkswagen Group), those riding on CMA underpinnings will have a fixed dash-to-axle length but will be extremely customizable in wheelbase, track width, and body size and shape. As we’ve previously reported, future Volvo engines will have no more than four cylinders.
Some future Volvos won’t have any cylinders at all. SPA and CMA were designed from the start to accommodate both hybrid and full-electric powertrains in addition to traditional gasoline and diesel engines. This reflects Volvo’s new focus on electrification. The company expects that by early next decade, at least 10 percent of its overall production will be plug-in hybrids. (This, executives say, will amount to roughly 80,000 vehicles globally each year.) It appears as though all SPA vehicles will be available with all-wheel drive; CMA cars all will be front-wheel drive, at least in the near term. SPA plug-in hybrids will have a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, 9.2 kWh of battery capacity, a 27-mile EV-only range, and an 87-hp electric motor; CMA PHEVs—which likely will carry T5 badges—will use a 1.5-liter three-cylinder in tandem with a 74-hp motor and a 9.7-kWh battery, for 31-plus miles of emissions-free driving. While SPA PHEVS utilize an eight-speed automatic transmission, CMA PHEVs will have an unusual seven-speed dual-clutch automatic setup, which in EV mode will use only the even-numbered gears. This may sound strange, but remember that most electric cars have single-speed transmissions. (Even in non-PHEV form, the CMA’s three-cylinder will develop close to 200 horsepower, we’re told.)
The upcoming XC90 T8 is the first Volvo hybrid that’ll be available on American shores, but in other markets, Volvo has sold diesel PHEVs since 2012 (the V60), and this year they released a Chinese-market, Chinese-built S60 hybrid. A fleet of 400 full-electric C30s began traversing (mostly European) roads in 2010. Volvo promises an SPA-based “high-performance, long-range, fully usable, quick-charging” electric car by 2019. What does “long-range” mean? 500 kilometers, or 310 miles.
We also experienced the first U.S.-market step in Volvo’s electrification plan—the plug-in-hybrid XC90 T8—and we found it to be well-behaved and powerful (not to mention great-looking, spacious, and comfortable, like all XC90s). The brakes are a bit grabby, especially when you initially push the pedal, but they’re no worse than most hybrids. Volvo says this is the “performance product” of the XC90 lineup, but it feels much more akin to a BMW X5 xDrive35i than an X5 50i, let alone an X5 M. Still, this is the most-powerful non-Polestar Volvo ever, and its so-called Twin Engine setup (there’s actually one gasoline engine and two electric drive motors, and none of them are twins) creates 400 horsepower in total. Its maker says the 5000-plus-pound SUV is good for a 5.3-second sprint to 60 mph.
Volvo considers our market to be the biggest for the XC90 T8, and we look forward to testing one on our home soil. The first T8s should reach U.S. dealers around Thanksgiving. No one knew quite what to expect when Volvo was sold to Geely, but the coming years look to be quite interesting for Sweden’s only remaining major car company.
It’s that time of year again, when Ford swamps SEMA with factory-authorized modded pickup trucks. After previewing seven SEMA Edge and Explorer SUVs, we turn our attention to the SEMA F-150s—lifted, lit up, and generally made to out-macho the 600,000 other Americans that buy one of these pickups each year. Here’s a sneak peek.
There hasn’t been a notable half-ton pickup with a manual transmission since the 2006 Dodge Ram SRT-10, the Viper-powered chainsaw that proclaimed itself the world’s fastest production pickup. MRT, a shop in Plymouth, Michigan, is reeling in those years—and a Tremec six-speed that otherwise would have slipped into a Viper ACR. The stick shift teams with an EcoBoost V-6 of unknown power, along with a lowered suspension, a limited-slip differential, and a roll cage, which in a perfect world would make this F-150 eligible for the Nascar Truck Series. That’s not our world, though, so don’t expect to see this stock F-150 on a Nascar oval or a Ford showroom anytime, probably ever.
Leer Edition Outdoorsman
Leer has been synonymous with fiberglass bed caps and tonneau covers since the 1970s, and this side-windowed, paint-matched example is no different, aimed at guys who who’d like their Crew Cab F-150 to resemble the old Excursion SUV. A six-inch lift, 22-inch off-road tires, LED rock light kits, a leather interior, and a 1000-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo complete the package.
Automaker promotions using the ride-sharing service Uber aren’t new, but this may be the first instance where the taxi alternative’s name dovetails with a promotional partner’s German heritage. However you spell it, BMW is giving free Uber rides in its 2016 7-series sedan to folks in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Chicago, starting at noon local time today.
Besides offering Uber users a chance to skip the ubiquitous—Uber-quitous?—Toyota Prius and try something several magnitudes classier, the free-ride promotion is a logical way of getting potential customers’ butts in the 7’s spacious back seat. This being an “ultimate driving machine,” BMW didn’t merely stop at rides—this weekend it actually enabled Uber users to set up test drives of the new 7 via the service’s app. Even among those not looking to buy an $82,295 luxury sedan, or even drive one, a ride in the 7-series is sure to generate plenty of warm fuzzies toward BMW—if only because it isn’t another damn Prius.