Nissan to begin self-driving taxi trial in Japan

The Car Connection News Feed - 2 hours 46 min ago
Nissan will begin trials of a new autonomous taxi service in Japan starting March 5. Called Easy Ride, the service offers users of the app a “robo-vehicle” that also behaves like a concierge, making suggestions along its route. The service was co-developed with DeNA, one of Japan’s largest mobile app and e-commerce platform...
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Mercedes-Benz E400 All-Terrain 4×4 Squared Review (W/Video)

Motortrend News Feed - 4 hours 45 min ago

When I was 12 years old or so, I used to fantasize about jacking up my family’s brown Pontiac station wagon on huge off-road tires. I also believe a big-block 454 and a flame job were part of the daydream. There’s a Pee-Chee folder rotting away at the bottom of some Southern Californian landfill with my exact design scribbled on it.

Now, I’m not accusing Mercedes-Benz of digging through my old trash, but when I first saw the E400 All-Terrain 4×4 Squared, my immediate, incredulous thought was, “Wow, I’ve been dreaming of this thing for 30 years.”

What on planet Earth is it? Mercedes builds a wagon it doesn’t (yet) sell to Americans called the E-Class All-Terrain. Think of it as Benz’s Audi Allroad version of the E-Class wagon; the grille is off the GLE SUV, the wheel arches are flared, there’s a skidplate, and it has increased ground clearance, thanks to adjustable air springs.

Now, suppose you were to take that soft-roader and insert honest-to-goodness portal axles underneath it, giving the finished product 17 inches of ground clearance? Well, you’d have this serious, go-anywhere luxury off-roader that Mercedes is calling the E400 All-Terrain 4×4 Squared.

The how and the why are simple. A Mercedes engineer named Jurgen Eberle thought it would be cool to put a station wagon on portal axles. Portal axles allow for massive ground clearance because the half shafts enter the top of the wheels rather than the center. Think Hummer H1. Mercedes has a long tradition of utilizing portal axles dating back to the first Unimog in 1946. Recently, Mercedes put portals on the iconic G-wagen, creating the G500 4×4 Squared. A key difference with the E400 version is that the axles are independent. They’re also designed from the get-go to bolt right into the E-Class chassis. Jurgen got an engineer buddy of his to 3-D print the bigger fenders.

There’s only one in the world, and once teleported to a dingy Swabian rock quarry, I got to drive it. With all that ground clearance, the 4×4 Squared wagon can go anywhere, and it does so in near-perfect luxury. Imagine driving over pillows. Huge piles of pillows. That’s what you feel from behind the wheel. Herr Eberle “wanted people to like it,” so he ditched the All-Terrain’s diesel engine in favor of a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6. Should the odd beast go into production, expect to see Mercedes’ new M256 inline-six under the hood. After driving over essentially every muddy, rocky, fallen-log, and water-trap obstacle I could, I strongly advocate that Benz hog-tie the accountants in a broom closet and build this lovely mutant.


The post Mercedes-Benz E400 All-Terrain 4×4 Squared Review (W/Video) appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Volkswagen says it’s Going to Build a Convertible Crossover

Motortrend News Feed - 11 hours 45 min ago

If there’s one thing automakers love to do, it’s chase trends. So even though Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet sales never really took off, Land Rover now sells the Range Rover Evoque Convertible. And today, Volkswagen announced plans to build its own convertible crossover coupe based on the new T-Roc. Expect it to go on sale in the first half of 2020.

The sketch shown above is the only image we have so far, and from what we can tell, it doesn’t look horrible. At least as far as two-door convertible crossovers go. And considering how popular CUVs are these days, it will probably sell better than the struggling Buick Cascada. Then again, based on how few Evoques were sold in the U.S. last year, we have a hard time imagining more than a few thousand of those were convertibles. So maybe the demand isn’t really there.

Volkswagen says the decision was made as part of a new focus on SUVs and that it’s ready to spend $98 million (€80 milion) bringing the T-Roc Cabriolet to market.

“Volkswagen is evolving into an SUV brand,” said CEO Dr. Herbert Diess. “The T-Roc is already setting new standards in the compact SUV segment. With the cabriolet based on the T-Roc, we will be adding a highly emotional model to the range.”

At the moment, there’s no word on pricing or U.S. availability, but in this case, no news may be good news.

Source: Volkswagen


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Refreshing or Revolting: 2019 Volvo V60

Motortrend News Feed - 13 hours 45 min ago

After spending all of 2015 with a Volvo V60 long-termer, we came away seriously impressed by the Swedish wagon’s do-everything capability. It was fun to drive, comfortable, offered plenty of cargo room, and could even handle some light off-roading. It never sold in huge numbers, but the V60 was a great little wagon. Now, however, there’s a new V60 that’s been given a complete redesign and a brand new look. The question is, how does the V60’s new styling compare to the wagon it replaces?

Up front, the V60 borrows heavily from Volvo’s S90-based wagon, the V90. The headlights, grille, and even the T-shaped running lights all look very similar to the ones on the larger wagon, but the V60 differentiates itself with larger, more pronounced lower intakes that give it a bit of a catfish-like appearance. We can see a few subtle design cues carried over from the old V60, but you have to look very closely to see them.

In profile, the new V60 looks much more sculpted and stylish than the wagon it replaces. So while the old V60 made a great sleeper, the new one will probably get a lot more attention. The side view is also where you start to see more differences between the V60 and the V90. For example, the liftgate on the V90 is more steeply raked, while the V60 gets more pronounced hips. Out back, it’s clear the new wagon has evolved, but unlike other angles, the rear view retains a number of the older design cues.

Inside, the new V60 could not possibly look more different from the model it replaces. In place of the altar to buttons that was the old V60’s center console, Volvo added a huge touchscreen infotainment system like the ones it uses across the rest of its new lineup. Really, the entire cabin looks like it could have been pulled out of any of the recently redesigned Volvos. We love the new interiors, so that’s good news to us, but fans of the old wagon’s buttons may disagree.

At the moment, pricing is still unavailable, but look for that to be announced before the 2019 Volvo V60 goes on sale this fall. What do you think of Volvo’s new smaller wagon? Tell us on Facebook.

The post Refreshing or Revolting: 2019 Volvo V60 appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

This Shadowy Video Shows More of the A6 Than Audi Intended

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 22:00

It hasn’t been redesigned since 2011, but the Audi A6 is still stylish, comfortable, and relatively fun to drive. It also has one of the best interiors in the midsize luxury segment. Today, Audi released a new video teasing the next-generation A6. At first glance, it doesn’t look like there’s much to see, but despite the close-ups and quick cuts we got an early look at Audi’s new BMW 5 Series competitor anyway.

For example, the clear shot of the grille (above) looks a lot like the one on the new A8. Thanks to the magic of Photoshop, though, we were able to uncover several more blurry-but-revealing shots that Audi probably didn’t want us to see.

In this shot, we can’t quite see the entire car, but the shape of the headlights and the outline of the grille are definitely visible. We see a little more A7 in the headlights, but the chrome grille looks very A8-inspired. If you parked all three cars next to each other, their differences would probably be more obvious, but good luck telling Audi’s new sedans apart on the street.

This angle is even more shadowy, so it’s hard to pick out specific details. That said, the taillights look different than what we’ve seen on both the A7 and A8. It also looks like the A6 keeps a lot of the outgoing car’s sharp styling. The roofline isn’t as coupe-like as the A7’s, but from what we can see, it will still be an attractive car.

Audi hasn’t said when it plans to debut the new A6, but the video does promise more teasers in the near future. With both the Geneva Motor Show and the New York auto show taking place next month, don’t be surprised to see an official reveal in the next few weeks.

Source: Audi via YouTube

The post This Shadowy Video Shows More of the A6 Than Audi Intended appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

From the Ashes: Project Phoenix is Jon Olsson’s Stunning New Audi RS 6 Wagon

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 21:11

A few years ago, Swedish freeskier Jon Olsson’s highly customized Audi RS 6 Avant achieved internet stardom thanks to its wild DTM-inspired look and more than 900 hp on tap. It was sold to a new owner and subsequently stolen at gunpoint only to be found burned to the ground. Though it was no longer his car, Olsson was understandably saddened to see the destruction of something he spent hundreds of hours making his own. He vowed to “follow this build up with something just as good,” and now he has. Together with renowned Audi tuner ABT Sportsline, Olsson unveiled his second Audi RS 6 wagon, appropriately named “Project Phoenix.”

Olsson worked with the ABT Individual team to put together this one-of-a-kind Audi that makes 725 hp and 679 lb-ft of torque. That’s less power than the last car had, but it’s still impressive. The custom build is based on ABT’s limited-production RS 6+, which itself is based on the 605-hp RS 6 Performance. In addition to the power upgrades, Project Phoenix sports a unique Two-Face-like black and white paint scheme that’s split down the middle. It also gets dark tinted headlights and a front lip, side skirts, mirror caps, fender vents, and rear spoiler all made of carbon fiber. Among Olsson’s favorite touches are the staggered prototype ABT aero wheels painted in black, white, and orange.

Though it’s not the same wagon he lost to theft and arson in 2015, this new Audi RS 6 Avant is arguably just as impressive. Watch Olsson drive his new custom wagon for the first time in the video below.

Source: ABT, Jon Olsson via YouTube



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Categories: Property

Porsche Promises the Next 911 Won’t Go Electric

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 19:30

After showing off the gorgeous Mission E concept at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, Porsche waited only a few months to confirm plans to put the electric sports sedan into production. It’s currently scheduled to go on sale in 2019, and Porsche’s said it expects to sell about 20,000 a year. But as serious as Porsche is about taking on the Tesla Model S, don’t expect the Mission E’s electric powertrain to make it into the 911 anytime soon.

Porsche released a few next-generation 911 teasers today, essentially showing off the entire car. As you can see, it looks a lot like the current 911, but after more than 50 years of incremental updates, that’s to be expected. The significant changes are almost always hidden under the sheetmetal. But while we may eventually see an electrified 911, the next generation will definitely not drop its internal combustion engine.

“Just to preclude any misunderstandings: the Porsche 911, Type 992 is not an electric sports car. But it could be an option somewhere down the line,” Porsche said in a press release.

When it comes to electrification, 911 boss August Achleitner said he’d had a change of heart. “Two years ago I’d have said no way. Today I wouldn’t categorically rule it out,” said Achleitner. “I drove the prototype of our coming electric sports car, the Mission E, and it was a very compelling experience. And the performance of the Porsche LMP race cars with hybrid drive systems is quite simply sensational.”

But even if he’s open to the idea of electrifying the 911, Achleitner also promised that the 911 will be one of the last cars to adopt autonomous driving. The way he sees it, “Even when it comes to the individual assistance systems, they have to fit with the 911. Those are convenient and useful things. But the customer has to make the choice to use them and, above all, be able to switch them off when they’re not desired.”

Just as the first teaser hit the web, our spy shooter sent shots of the 992-generation 911’s interior. Check it out along with a few past spy shots in the gallery below.

Source: Porsche, CarPix

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Categories: Property

5 things I learned from the 2018 Honda CR-V, America’s favorite crossover

The Car Connection News Feed - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 18:25
It’s as American as the strip mall parking lots where you’ll find its cupholders loaded up with Ultra Maximum Super Grande Big Gulps. It’s the 2018 Honda CR-V. If you don’t own one, you certainly know someone who does—statistically, at least. MORE: Read our 2018 Honda CR-V review After all, the Honda CR-V is...
Categories: Property

Best Places to Work in Property 2018: Work-life balance critical to diversity, says Green & Black’s founder

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 17:48
Enabling staff to have a good work-life balance is critical to helping women succeed in business, Jo Fairley, the co-founder of Green & Black’s, told the Best Places to Work in Property 2018 event today.
Categories: Property

Sony's taxi-hailing, Audi S6 Avant, Tesla charging stations: What’s New @ The Car Connection

The Car Connection News Feed - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 15:30
Sony to enter taxi-hailing app business Sony is using its considerable technological weight to get into the mobility app game in Japan. However, in a country where Uber and Lyft are not widely used and taxis are readily available and affordable in urban centers, the software will use AI to predict the movements of cab fleets. Diesel is dead at...
Categories: Property

Anthology secures £47m for Deptford development

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 12:00
Residential developer Anthology has secured further funding to deliver a 276-unit development.
Categories: Property

BNP Paribas Real Estate posts 20% rise in profits

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 11:54
BNP Paribas Real Estate’s profits before tax rose 20% year on year to €187m (£134m) and revenues increased by 15% to a record €811m for the company for the year ended 31 December 2017.
Categories: Property

BNP Paribas posts 20% rise in profits

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 11:54
BNP Paribas Real Estate’s profits before tax rose 20% year on year to €187m (£134m) and revenues increased by 15% to a record €811m for the company for the year ended 31 December 2017.
Categories: Property

Almacantar wins Centre Point fee battle with Sir Robert McAlpine

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 11:20
Property developer Almacantar has won a legal case against Sir Robert McAlpine over a £1m construction fee dispute for work on the £100m redevelopment of the Centre Point tower in London.
Categories: Property

Sony to enter taxi-hailing app business

The Car Connection News Feed - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 11:00
Sony is using its considerable technological weight to get into the mobility app game in Japan. However, in a country where Uber and Lyft are not widely used and taxis are readily available and affordable in urban centers, the software will use AI to predict the movements of cab fleets. As reported by The Nikkei Asian Review, Sony is partnering...
Categories: Property

2018 Buick Regal GS Review: Muscle Memories

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 09:00

The driver-focused 2018 Buick Regal GS is returning as more than just an appearance and chassis-tuning package. This time the Sport quotient gets Gran’er by two cylinders and 60 horsepower relative to the base Regals. That’s 310 total for you numerologists. Standard all-wheel drive ensures that all those hooves dig in. Keen observers will note that Buick has essentially shoved the LaCrosse’s 3.6-liter all-wheel-drive powertrain into the Regal GS.

It’s tempting to view this as a classic muscle-car play—like when the original midsize 1965 Skylark Gran Sport packed a 401 Nailhead V-8 plucked from the full-size Wildcat. But this Regal is just 3 inches shorter in wheelbase and a mere 44 pounds lighter than its full-size Epsilon platform cousin (down from 11 inches and 650 pounds for those ’65s). So does the Regal GS drive like a LaCrosse with a half-empty fuel tank?

Nope. True, the hardware is essentially the same, and with near identical weight-to-power and equivalent gearing, they might photo-finish the drag race that will never happen. But this hardware set offers a lot of “knobs” that can be turned to distinguish the more stately and luxurious LaCrosse from the flatter cornering, more buttoned down Regal GS—especially when the drive mode selector is set to its full “Howitzer with windshield wipers” GS mode (to quote a ’65 Gran Sport ad headline). The all-wheel-drive system combats understeer (and torque steer) by sending way more torque aft, the Continuous Damping Control shocks tense up quicker to combat pitch and roll, and the steering assist is reduced by 25 percent relative to the default touring mode (Sport mode steering gets 15 percent less assist). The intermediate Sport setting is programmed to split the difference between the default tour and GS mode settings, but its transmission, suspension, steering, and AWD settings can be customized.

Those spool-valve-type CDC shocks can assess conditions and alter damping rates 500 times per second, though in practice conditions never demand that they make that many changes in a single second. When asked to give specifics about the damping rate changes between modes, chief engineer Martin Hayes explained that there’s no set percentage difference between modes. Rather, it’s the strategy about when and by how much an individual wheel’s motion is curtailed that changes. And although the standard Regal Sportback’s ride quality was sort of the target for the GS’ default Tour mode, the 19-inch rolling stock give the GS its own unique feel. Note that the fancier HiPer strut front suspension was no longer deemed necessary, with standard all-wheel drive, as that design’s biggest benefit is in torque-steer reduction.

During a romp through some delightful rolling, twisting byways north of Atlanta, the Regal GS demonstrated a quiet, composed competence. The car’s nine-speed automatic instinctively selected the correct gear for each corner exit, downshifting instantly to land at the perfect spot on the V-6’s broader torque curve. Those four-piston Brembo front brakes bite down on their 13.6-inch discs smoothly and confidently. These bigger brakes are shared with the high-performance Opel Insignia OPC. The 19-inch wheels (down from the last GS’ 20s) and 245/40 Continental ProContact TX tires deliver brand-appropriate ride compliance—even in GS mode—with minimal tire squeal—except when executing a J-turn (which we were encouraged to do!). We never noticed the engine’s cylinder-deactivation “V-4” mode, and the auto-stop/start system did its thing unobtrusively

It’s interesting to note that despite these fuel-saving features and the fact that the Regal GS is lighter than the LaCrosse 3.6 with AWD, the GS earns a lower EPA fuel economy rating: 19/27/22 mpg city/highway/combined versus the bigger Buick’s 20/29/23 mpg. Hayes explains that the LaCrosse has a wider range of tire sizes and optional equipment that allows a bit more latitude in test car selection, whereas the Regal GS is a stand-alone model with few options, so it is stuck with a wider standard performance-biased tire. Those aggressive fascia scoops are great for cooling the brakes, but they also exact an aero hit.

Styling upgrades include all the yoosh—aggressive flared-nostril front and diffuser-enhanced rear fascias, 10-spoke wheels, a rear spoiler, and GS badging. Inside are spectacularly supportive 14-way power thrones swathed in perforated leather that provide heat, ventilation, and massage and do much to justify the GS’ $5,200 price premium over an Essence AWD model (roughly double the 2017 premium). The pedals get metal covers, and the steering wheel has a flat bottom to make Audi S4 trade-in buyers feel at home.

We’re sorry the clock ran out on the Verano—a GS 3.6-liter AWD one of those would be rad.

2018 Buick Regal GS BASE PRICE $39,990 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback ENGINE 3.6L/310-hp/282-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6 TRANSMISSION 9-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT 3,800 lb (mfr) WHEELBASE 111.4 in LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 192.9 x 73.3 x 57.3 in 0-60 MPH 5.9 sec (MT est) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 19/27/22 mpg ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 177/125 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.88 lb/mile ON SALE IN U.S. Currently AGR-Certified Seats

Buick made a big deal about the new 14-way adjustable seats in the GS having been certified by Germany’s Aktion Gesunder Rücken, or Campaign for Healthier Backs. Earning the AGR seal of approval occurs only after an independent testing committee of experts from various medical disciplines evaluate the product’s various back-friendly design elements. In addition to car seats, the organization certifies furniture, beds, bikes, upholstered furniture, shoes, satchels, furniture for children and youngsters, home workstations and more. When evaluating car seats, special attention is paid to the seat structure and foam firmness with a premium being placed on a high level of adjustability so that the seat can be made to fit a wide range of body types. Seat heating is also important. The Buick Cascada’s seat is similarly certified, as are the multi-contour seats in most Mercedes-Benz cars, and the 14-way adjustable ergoComfort driver seat in the Volkswagen Arteon to name a few. The full list is available halfway down this page.

The post 2018 Buick Regal GS Review: Muscle Memories appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

2017 Jaguar F-Pace Long-Term Update 3: Coconut Juice Eco Mode

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 09:00

“Hey, sorry but I spilled a coconut drink in the Jaguar, and after cleaning it up, it still kinda smells fruity. Sorry! I can take it to get detailed if you want.”

That was the text social media editor Carol Ngo shot me on a recent Thursday. I think she might have added an upside down happy face emoji. Accidents happen, so I thought it was no big deal. I noticed the smell, but not much else. I spotted a few rogue fruit flies in the car. I thought it was weird and possibly related to the smell. But I just parked it in the garage and left the window cracked to air it out over the weekend. But Monday morning I got into the Jag, and OMG, a swarm of fruit flies!

I texted Carol: What’s up!? What did you spill? There must be some leftover fruit bits. The car doesn’t really stink, and I’m not grossed out; it’s just the last time I dealt with drosophila melanogaster was in college.

Carol replied with an apology: You’re kidding?! It was a cup of coconut and sugar cane juice and it didn’t really fit in the cup holder (note to Jaguar, make better cupholders). I made a turn, it toppled over onto the passenger-seat side. I took out the floor mat, washed that and vacuumed as much as I could, and scrubbed the hell out of the carpet with a towel over and over.

In the end, an expensive trip to a car detailer was not needed. Carol made another pass with a rag and off-the-shelf cleaning supplies, and after a couple more days of parking with the windows cracked (in cooler weather), the fruit fly pestilence abated. The slightly sweet smell of coconuts persists, but there are no complaints there.

Right around the time this happened, at about the 5,000-mile mark on the odometer, I started to explore the other side of the F-Pace’s performance toggle switch. Not the checkered-flag, speedster setting, but ECO mode, which is one tap of the right-arrow key away from Normal mode, just before the snow-driving mode. As with ECO modes of other brands, Jaguar’s system alters transmission shift points and accelerator pedal response with an eye toward lower fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions. Elements of the climate control system, such as seat heaters and an optional heated windshield, are also restricted to conserve energy.

To those who love spirited driving, ECO mode usually means a neutered, no-fun experience. I’m happy to report that, relative to other systems I’ve tested, our F-Pace’s green driving experience is not a total killjoy. In fact, whatever performance reduction measures Jaguar engineers deployed are not immediately noticeable. Yes, the car feels a touch slower, but it’s hard to determine where in the cascade of inputs and responses the slowdown occurs. Is it in the gas pedal’s initial sensitivity? Maybe. Or is there a quickening of upshifts through the eight-speed transmission. Perhaps.

There are no obvious performance gaps or dead spots, so it’s hard to confirm; in fact, I’d argue that a driver new to the vehicle would be surprised to find that ECO mode wasn’t actually Normal mode. We’ll continue to monitor our F-Pace’s performance in ECO and other modes and revisit its ride quality and utility as a surf vehicle in our next update.

Read more about our long-term 2017 Jaguar F-Pace:

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Categories: Property

Persimmon execs hand back chunk of controversial payout

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 08:53
Persimmon’s three leading executives have agreed to hand back a chunk of the shares awarded to them under a controversial bonus scheme that led to them netting a combined payout of £232m.
Categories: Property

Rightmove posts 10% rise in annual profit

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 08:34
Pre-tax profit at Rightmove rose 10% in 2017 off the back of an 11% rise in revenue, the group reported this morning.
Categories: Property

Barratt leads fallers as FTSE ends in the red

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 08:21
Barratt Development was the FTSE 100’s biggest faller on Thursday despite revealing record first half figures earlier in the day.
Categories: Property