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Small hatch-cross-non-coupe-or-sedan-wagon thing seeks to earn the luxury automaker a new type of customer.

By James_Tate Aug 29, 2013 9:30AM

As anticipation of this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show mounts, automakers are in the final stages of preparing their new concepts for the discerning eyes of the buying public. After teasing us with a concept sketch, Infiniti has released images and information on the never-been-seen-before Q30. It looks good – think Mazda3 with some off-road capability.


Like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class with which it shares a platform, the Q30 doesn’t really fit in a current “class” of automobile – at least that’s what Infiniti is saying. It’s in a class of its own; not a coupe, not a hatchback and not a crossover but a marriage of the three body styles (so, it’s a Honda Crosstour? More on that later). But anyway, this thing is also said to break all barriers — so what, does it submerge, as well?


In the press release, Infiniti expressed high hopes that this coupe, crossover and hatchback will attract a younger audience. Infiniti’s rival to the BMW 1-Series, the Audi A3, and – funny enough – the Mercedes-Benz A-class, is slated for production in 2015. It will be built exclusively in the U.K. at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, reportedly creating 280 new jobs. While applauding Nissan’s eager effort to compete with Honda, one can’t help but wonder if history is hell-bent on repeating itself.


Future vehicle-to-vehicle network that might prevent crashes is expected to cost $60 million per year.

By Douglas Newcomb 17 hours ago

Image by NHTSAAs reported last week, the federal government is taking the first steps toward mandating vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication in all new passenger vehicles. The technology uses radio signals to automatically transmit a car's location, direction of travel and other information 10 times per second, while the same information is received from other vehicles in the vicinity so that drivers can receive audible and visual warnings on potential hazards.

While the government estimates the technology would add $100 to $200 to the cost of each new vehicle for the onboard equipment, the larger question is who pays for setting up and maintaining the V2V network that allows cars to talk to one another. The Department of Transportation wants to move ahead with implementing V2V technology to help reduce accidents, but it hasn’t yet committed resources to building or running the massive system.

"Due to the current fiscal environment, it does not seem plausible," the National Highway Safety Administration wrote in a report on V2V technology released last week along with a proposal to move ahead on mandating the technology. While the federal project has relied on the technical backing of automakers and others, it’s unclear where the financial backing to manage the system will come from, which is estimated to cost about $60 million per year.


Texas is fastest with an average of 78.3 mph, Alaska and District of Columbia are the slowest.

By Douglas Newcomb Mon 12:26 PM

Image courtesy of YouTube.Whether you’re stuck behind a dawdling driver (or two) on the interstate or inching along in an urban traffic jam, it can sometimes seem as if everyone around you is moving syrupy slow. But that could also depend on where you live or drive.

In New York -- the state and not just the city -- you may find yourself going slower since it has some of the lowest overall speed limits in the nation, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Whereas in Texas you may find yourself driving quite a bit faster since the Lone Star State ranks as having the highest overall speed limits in the U.S.

The nonprofit GHSA, a group that represents the highway safety offices for each U.S. state, placed Texas at the top of the list for having not only the highest speed limit in the U.S., 85 mph, but also the highest overall average top speed limits for both urban and rural interstates as well as limited access roads: 78.3 mph. This beats Idaho, the next fastest state with a top limit of 80 mph and an average top speed of 76.7 mph, by nearly 2 mph.


Oscar-winning actor will do whatever he feels like in several unscripted commercials for the new MKC.

By Clifford Atiyeh Fri 11:53 AM
Just months after Matthew McConaughey scored his first-ever Oscar for "Dallas Buyers Club," the actor has now signed a multiyear contract to be Ford's "authentic" pitchman for Lincoln.

Like many of McConaughey's film characters, Lincoln has been dazed and confused with its own image as a luxury brand. At this point even Cadillac, a brand that once seemed doomed to obsolescence, doesn't consider Lincoln to be a real competitor. Its miniscule sales and average products have taken a turn since Ford began marketing it as "The Lincoln Motor Company" in 2012 and put John Slattery from "Mad Men" as its leading man. But Slattery, as with Magic Johnson before him, didn't stay too long.

What Lincoln hopes to do now is channel McConaughey's inner Texan and easygoing, pensive personality into a series of commercials and web videos, some of which will be unscripted.  

Automaker to test safety systems at new 500-acre facility in Sweden that mimics real road conditions.

By Douglas Newcomb Thu 12:27 PM

 AstaZero proving ground. Photo by Volvo.Volvo has set an ambitious goal: building vehicles in which “no one should be killed or seriously injured” by the year 2020. While the automaker, like others, can perform a variety of crash tests and trials in labs and other facilities, real-world scenarios are more difficult to replicate. So the next best thing is to build that world.

The automaker is getting help on this from its Swedish neighbor AstaZero, which has just opened what Volvo calls “the world’s first full-scale proving ground for future traffic safety solutions.” Along with help from universities and suppliers, as well as the Swedish government, it’s where Volvo will develop and test new active safety “driver assistance” systems such as its City Safety with pedestrian and bicycle detection that prevent accidents before they happen -- and will help achieve Volvo's no-death goal in six years.

The AstaZero proving ground is located near Volvo’s world headquarters outside Gothenburg, Sweden, and will allow the creation of a multitude of environments, from urban to rural roads to multilane highways. “You can simulate all types of real-world traffic scenarios,” Pether Wallin, CEO of AstaZero said in a statement. “At most proving grounds, the options are more limited.”


Feature of car’s Performance Data Recorder locks storage compartments, disables the radio and videos joy rides.

By Douglas Newcomb Aug 20, 2014 1:18PM

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Valet Mode. Photo by Chevrolet.It’s a typical question in the minds of many car owners -- and especially those with high-performance cars -- when they hand the keys to a parking valet: What will they do with my car that I won’t know or see?

You have some clues if you get back in your car and the radio station has been changed and the stereo is cranked or there’s extra miles on the odometer. But you don't always know if they’ve pilfered items from storage compartments or took your car for a joy ride.

Now owners of 2015 Chevrolet Corvettes can keep their cars safe and also capture most of what happens with the Valet Mode that’s part of the optional Performance Data Recorder. It not only locks the car’s storage compartments and disables the radio, but also records video, audio and vehicle data even while the owner is away from the vehicle.

“Think of it as a baby monitor for your car,” Harlan Charles, Corvette product manager, said in a statement. “Anyone who has felt apprehension about handing over their keys will appreciate the peace of mind of knowing exactly what happened while their baby was out of sight.”


VW’s super Golf is faster than a GTI -- but is it more fun?

By James_Tate Aug 20, 2014 12:56PM

You’ve probably seen the 2015 Volkswagen Golf R in photos by now, which means you know it looks a heck of a lot like the 2015  Golf GTI. There are a few visual tweaks here and there, granted, but does the Golf R bring something like 10 grand more goodness than the GTI?

Volkswagen hasn’t announced pricing, but the previous R was around $35,000 and the GTI starts at around $10,000 less than that. See, the GTI is a hell of a good car by any standard, and as you may have expected, the Golf R and the GTI share a lot in common -- even the engine is a couple ticks short of the same.


The Golf R makes substantially more power thanks to a larger turbocharger, different pistons and a revised cylinder head design, and unlike any other Golf, it comes standard with all-wheel drive. There are a few styling cues that set it apart from the GTI both inside and out, but it hardly feels like a completely different car when you swing the door open and plop buttocks in the seat. The shift action is shorter and more positive, and there are blue things smattered about, like the gauge needles and the ambient lighting. There are gigantic quad exhaust pipes, a lot like those that can be found on Audi thundercars (I already miss the center-exit system of the previous R).


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration takes first steps toward mandating V2V technology on new vehicles.

By Douglas Newcomb Aug 19, 2014 1:59PM

Image by NHTSAFollowing a yearlong, 3,000-car trial of vehicle-to-vehicle communications, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is taking the first steps toward mandating the crash-prevention technology on new vehicles.

NHTSA and the U.S. Department of Transportation have released a proposal and extensive research report on V2V technology that includes analysis of the yearlong field trial in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and other findings in the areas of technical feasibility, safety benefits, privacy, security and estimates on costs.

NHTSA said it would issue another report this month before DOT officials "begin working on a regulatory proposal" to be issued before President Obama leaves office in just over two years. NHTSA is also seeking public input on its research “to support the Department’s regulatory work to eventually require V2V devices in new light vehicles.”


Automaker’s 'hacker princess' heads to Def Con to hire 20 to 30 security researchers

By Douglas Newcomb Aug 19, 2014 8:38AM

Tesla Model S. Photo by Tesla.As cars become more connected and potentially leave their electronics exposed to hackers, Tesla is using the time-honored "if you can't beat them, join them" approach to battle the threat. Or, more specifically, have them join you. That’s why the cutting-edge electric vehicle automaker was at the recent Def Con security conference in Las Vegas to recruit hackers.

The annual event is where the world’s top network security experts and good-guy “white hat” hackers gather to network, discuss the latest security flaws and devise ways to keep malicious “black hat” hackers at bay. It was also the site of the release of a much-publicized list of the top 20 most hackable vehicles by a team of security researchers.

Tesla felt it was fertile ground for recruiting people to help to keep its cars from being compromised, especially after white hat hackers at the SyScan 360 security conference in China last month revealed that they were able to bypass the security protocols of a Tesla Model S to remotely operate the door locks, sound the horn and open the sunroof.



  • Cliff Atiyeh

    Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Raised in Volvos, he has grown to love fast, irresponsible vehicles of all kinds. He is the senior news editor at MSN Autos and also reports for Car and Driver, Road & Track, The Boston Globe and other publications.
    In the garage: 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (not his)

  • Doug Newcomb

    Doug Newcomb has covered car technology for over 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and technology.
    In the garage: 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS, two 1984 Chevrolet Blazers, 2008 Honda CR-V

  • James Tate

    James Tate learned to drive stick at age 13 in a 1988 Land Cruiser - in La Paz, Bolivia. He's since been a mechanic, on a pit crew and has wrenched on every car he's owned since his first 1989 Honda CRX Si (and won't stop until the car is a 1973 Porsche 911 RS). His work has appeared in Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Automobile and others.
    In the garage: 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera, 1988 BMW M5

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