One of the best ways for automakers to conceal upcoming products during testing on public roads is to use so-called development or test mules that hide a new or modified chassis and drivetrain components under a fake body shell, typically sourced from a model currently in production.
This is the case with a new Renault prototype captured by our spy photographers this week in Northern Europe undergoing cold weather testing.
The modified body shell is borrowed from the facelifted Renault Fluence, but it's evident from the photos that the car is sitting on a longer wheelbase and wider platform. It also rides on a taller suspension.
At this point, however, we are not aware if the French brand is working on a new SUV / Crossover or a sedan / station wagon model, but the upcoming Geneva Motor Show in March of 2014 may provide some answers to what's concealed under the sheetmetal.
Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher is fighting for his life after suffering a severe head injury in a skiing accident in the French Alps on Sunday. The German underwent brain surgery and remains in critical condition, with the doctors refusing to comment on his prognosis.
The former Ferrari and Mercedes driver was skiing with his 14-year-old son and others in an off-piste area between two marked runs above Méribel when he fell on Sunday morning and banged his head against a rock.
Despite the fact that he was wearing a helmet, the shock was powerful and by the time he arrived in hospital in Moutiers he went into an induced coma. After being stabilized, he was moved to a larger hospital in Grenoble, where he underwent brain surgery.
Professor Jean-Francois Payen told reporters that if Schumacher had not been wearing a protective helmet “he wouldn’t be here now.” Doctors explained they had to operate him urgently to release some pressure in his head. “We cannot tell you what the outcome will be yet,” the doctors told reporters on Monday morning. “All we can do is wait,” they added. According to neurosurgeon Stephan Chabardes, a post-operative scan had shown “diffuse haemorrhagic legions” on both sides of Schumacher’s brain.
The seven-time Formula 1 champion is kept in a coma at low temperature to facilitate his recovery. Schumacher’s spokeswoman said in a statement: “We ask for understanding that we cannot give out continuous information about his health. He was wearing a helmet and was not alone. No one else was involved in the fall.”
Schumacher retired from Formula 1 racing in 2012 and this year has become a brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz and its “Intelligent Drive” safety and comfort systems.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Formula 1 legend and his family during these very difficult times.
Michael Schumacher PHOTO GALLERY
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have your own Le Mans racing car and to be able to drive it on the street? Well, the guys from the video you’re about to watch are living this dream – literally.
These three men from Japan each own a Le Mans racing car that has actually participated at least once at the 24 Hours of Le Mans! Furthermore, two of them somehow received approval to drive them occasionally on the street, which means each and every one of their outings is impossible to ignore.
The cars are the Mazda 767B (yes, the one with the four-rotor engine), Jaguar XJ220LM and Porsche 962C, and the video was put together by Motorhead magazine.
There's not much to add that the video itself doesn't explain, so without further ado, turn up the volume in your speakers and enjoy the show.
More cars and trucks built in the U.S. have been exported this year than ever before as markets worldwide are bouncing back from the recession.
According to a Detroit News report, U.S. auto exports could reach 2 million units this year, with more than half of them to be made up by Ford, GM and Chrysler. The other half is sourced from American plants owned by Japanese, Korean and German automakers.
Last year, automotive exports totaled $132.7 billion on approximately 1.8 million exported cars and trucks, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. That is $27 billion more than the next highest manufacturing sector in the U.S., aerospace.
However, auto imports to the States are still way larger than exports, with the automotive trade deficit sitting at more than $100 billion. Roughly, half of all U.S. exports are to Mexico or Canada, but the biggest growth in exports is to countries outside North America.
Back in 2004, vehicles shipped to Mexico or Canada made up 80 percent of all U.S. vehicle exports – now that number is 49 percent and falling. Exports to China have increased six-fold since 2009, with one in nine vehicles shipped from the U.S. going to China.
Most of the exported vehicles are models already sold in the U.S., with one of the most successful being the Ford F-150 pickup truck, shipped to 49 countries around the globe.
You’ve probably heard that Audi is planning to launch 11 new models in the following years, and now we have an idea of what these models will be. A series of recent Audi trademark registrations and applications discovered by British magazine Autocar suggests that most of these new models will be crossovers.
For instance, Audi registered the “SQ2” name, which hints at a high-performance version of an upcoming compact SUV that could be called the Q2. If you’re wondering what will the Q2 look like, Audi’s 2012 Crosslane Coupé concept(pictured) may offer an idea.
Audi has also trademarked the “SQ4” moniker, which would designate a high-performance variant of the upcoming Q4, said to be a rival for the Range Rover Evoque. There’s even an application for the “Q9” nameplate, which could hint at a large luxury crossover that would sit above the Q7 in Audi’s range. Whether there will also be a Q8, remains to be seen.
The “f-tron” name has also been trademarked by Audi, hinting at a possible fuel cell-powered production model. The f-tron would add to existing e-tron and g-tron models, which designate electric/hybrid vehicles and natural gas vehicles, respectively.The fact that Audi applied for these names doesn’t necessarily mean they will all be used on production models, as carmakers sometimes apply for trademarks to protect their intellectual property. Audi didn’t comment on the trademark applications and registrations.
Audi PHOTO GALLERY
Many may make fun of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s failed military experiments (and his hair), but what the media doesn't usually focus on is the over 24 million people that live in the country, and what they think of it.
Vice tagged along for a motorbike expedition through the single party-run country, seeing the (admittedly pretty) sights along the way, and taking in all of the stories too.
It’s one of the most insightful incursions into the state by outsiders, and proof of its importance are the excessive security measures the New Zealand-based crew is put through as it tries to gain entry into the country, from Russia, as well as the permanent escort that never strays from the set path – they see what they are meant to see, and no more.
A lot was probably edited out in the end, but what you have below is a 16-minute cultural and social lesson that is hard to come by nowadays, both because of the logistical problems facing such a trip and the reticence towards sharing details about the inner workings, in a country where even close relatives of the leader can be accused, trialed and killed at a moment’s notice if they in some way are thought of as a threat to the regime.
To the delight of photo manipulators, all three major German premium carmakers, including Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, are very predictable (to the point of tediousness sometimes) when it comes to the appearance of high-performance versions of their regular models.
As such, imagining the styling of upcoming cars like the next Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG sports saloon is a pretty straightforward process – change the grille, lower the ride height, add model-specific front and rear bumpers, side skirts, bigger alloy wheels and trim details, and you're all set.
Before we leave you to take a closer look at Virtuel Car's digital-made photos of the car, let us tell you that, unlike the latest BMW M3 and M4 that swapped their predecessors' naturally aspirated V8 for a force-fed inline six, Mercedes will continue to offer a V8, but instead of being naturally aspirated, the new 4.0-liter unit is reported to employ the use of twin-turbochargers for close to 500-horses.
2015 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Sedan PHOTO GALLERY
Do you remember the Spyker B6 Venator Coupe Concept from this year's Geneva Motor Show in March? If the answer is yes, then you won't have a hard time imagining what a convertible version will look like, if not, you can head below the jump to see a gallery of photos of the coupe iteration and put your creative mind to work. Read more »
Cars that once belonged to former Formula 1 world champions don’t surface that often on the internet, so when one does it’s always something special. One could say it’s even magical, like this 1992 Honda NSX that was allegedly driven by none other than Formula One legend Ayrton Senna when he stayed in Portugal.