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2015 Toyota Yaris (EU)

Toyota first launched the Yaris in 1999, though that model was sold in the North America as the Echo. The second generation arrived in 2005, replaced by the third in 2011. Sometime next year, Toyota is expected to roll out a new Yaris for North America, to be built in Mexico on the same platform as the next Mazda2. But before that comes to pass, Toyota has introduced a mild facelift for the Yaris in markets other than ours.

With styling cues borrowed from the new Aygo and the Yaris Hybrid-R concept, the new Yaris (for Europe) and Vitz (for Japan) are distinguished by updated styling front and rear. Though the European model bears a more aggressive look than the JDM version, both feature the new X motif that seems to be the new look for the whole family - particularly for small hatchbacks.

The back end has also been revised to incorporate new LED taillights and a (faux) diffuser in the bumper. The cabin, meanwhile, has been redesigned to feel roomier and quieter with upgraded equipment. The suspension has also been refined, and in Europe at least, Toyota will continue to offer the Yaris with a choice of 1.0- or 1.3-liter gasoline engines, 1.4-liter diesel or hybrid powertrains.

We'd tell you more about the varied specifications, but Toyota, in all its worldwide wisdom, oddly released one photo and a press release for the EU-spec Yaris, a whole mess of photos but no press release for the JDM-spec Vitz, but videos for both. There's also a performance-oriented G's version for Japan in the gallery above. As for the North American version, we're still waiting for official word from Toyota USA, so stay tuned.

Continue reading Toyota launches updated Yaris in Europe, Vitz in Japan [w/videos]

Toyota launches updated Yaris in Europe, Vitz in Japan [w/videos] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 23 Apr 2014 07:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Wed, 23 Apr 2014 07:59:00 EST

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Hyundai 70 movies video

Hyundai i10 ShortCuts 70 films in 10 minutesIt's not often we can use the term "trippy" to describe anything we post here at Autoblog, but this German video, promoted by Hyundai and starring the brand's European-spec i10 is trippy, surreal and totally bizarre. And we love it.

Movie buffs will appreciate this ridiculous mix of classic movies into a strange mishmash that makes no sense at all. From Silence of the Lambs to the Terminator series to Pulp Fiction, The Godfather and 300, there's the list of films parodied in this spot is wildly diverse. We've watched a few times, and while we can name the vast majority of classic films shown, we have no idea what the actual point of the video is.

Take a look below and let us know what you think in Comments. But beware, there is some NSFW language.

Continue reading Hyundai presents 70 movies in 10 minutes... and it's very strange

Hyundai presents 70 movies in 10 minutes... and it's very strange originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 22 Apr 2014 20:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tue, 22 Apr 2014 20:01:00 EST

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Ferrari LaFerrari

In automotive journalism, we deal with embargoes on a regular basis. For the uninitiated, these are agreements between publications like Autoblog and manufacturers. While news embargoes (where pubs are provided with information and images and agree to hold until a predetermined date) are fairly common, today, we're focusing on drive embargoes. These are what we generally end up signing when we attend a vehicle launch. Generally, these are in the media's best interest. As drive programs are spread out over a week or two with multiple different "waves" of media, drive embargoes put the biggest and smallest publications on level footing when it comes to publishing reviews.

According to a report from Autocar's Steve Sutcliffe, Ferrari has taken its drive embargo for the LaFerrari hypercar a bit too far. See, initial reviews from the few publications that attended the drive event for the hybrid-powered monster can hit the newsstand or internet on April 30. Originally, syndicated stories - those sold by freelancers or publications to other outlets - couldn't be published until May 12. These syndicated reviews are big money for larger magazines and, in the case of freelance journalists, are a primary source of revenue. Inexplicably, though, Ferrari has pushed the syndication embargo back to May 26, which is bad news for everyone involved (aside from Ferrari).

This could have been nothing more than an annoyance. The stories would still get sold (although it might be for a bit less coin, considering the initial reviews will be nearly a month old) and you'll still be bombarded by reviews of the LaFerrari not once, but twice, just as Ferrari planned.

What's truly weird, though, is what Ferrari is doing to try and enforce its syndication embargo - the Scuderia is threatening to fine journalists 50,000 euro ($69,000 at today's rates) if their embargoed copy or images are published before May 26. Let's keep in mind, this isn't a leak of driving impressions - those are almost certainly going to be published at 12:01 AM on April 30 by every publication that attended the drive program - it's merely the secondary publication of an old review.

Not only is the reasoning for this absolutely bewildering - Ferrari doesn't seem to gain anything by limiting secondary publishing of LaFerrari reviews - but as Jalopnik's Matt Hardigree points out, it basically puts a price tag on breaking an embargo. Publications that aren't invited to drive the LaFerrari but can afford to pay the $69,000 fine have no reason to follow the embargo (they obviously weren't invited to drive the car, so why worry about angering Ferrari?).

Sutcliffe has a more concise breakdown of the entire affair over at Autocar. Have a look, and then head back here and let us know what you think.

Ferrari threatening to fine journalists $69,000 for breaking LaFerrari embargo? originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 22 Apr 2014 19:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tue, 22 Apr 2014 19:15:00 EST

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Lexus IS 250

"All show, no go." That's how I described the 2014 Lexus IS 250 F Sport that you see above, when I reviewed it back in November. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot to like about the new IS, but the 204-horsepower, 2.5-liter V6 in the IS 250 is not on that list. In my review, I suggested that Lexus ought to get on the bandwagon of offering a small-displacement, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine in its base IS (like its rivals), and now the folks at Motor Trend are furthering that discussion.

Lexus pulled the wraps off its new NX 200t crossover at the Beijing show recently, and it'll be the first vehicle in the company's lineup to use a brand-new - you guessed it - 2.0-liter turbo-four. With 238 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque on tap, that represents a healthy increase over the 204 hp and anemic 185 lb-ft currently being offered with the 2.5-liter V6, and we imagine the fuel economy gains will be rather significant, too. For comparison, the Lexus' four-pot power numbers are very close to the 240 hp and 255 lb-ft offered in the same-sized engine that BMW uses in the 328i.

Motor Trend also posits that Lexus may consider changing the base IS' name from 250 to 200, or perhaps 200t, to properly reflect the new engine's displacement. Of course, that's assuming Lexus doesn't pull a BMW or Mercedes-Benz, and no longer has its alphanumeric names properly reflect the size of the powerplant found underhood.

Assuming Lexus does throw the 2.0T into the IS - the company said it plans to use this engine in several of its other vehicles - Motor Trend says it should show up around 2016. All I know is, that day can't come soon enough.

Lexus IS 250 to get new turbo four? originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 22 Apr 2014 18:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tue, 22 Apr 2014 18:29:00 EST

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2014 Chevrolet Impala

General Motors' recent recall woes may only be getting worse. According to The Detroit News, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into 60,000 2014 Chevrolet Impala models over concerns relating to the sedan's emergency braking system.

The News reports that the NHTSA probe comes on the heels of a single complaint, citing "inappropriate activation of the emergency braking system." The official complaint states that the driver "alleges that the driver assist system inappropriately activated emergency braking bringing the vehicle to a complete stop under what the driver considered to be full braking force."

NHTSA reports that the driver "heard three to four beeps from the forward collision avoidance system" in the vehicle in question (a rental 2014 Impala with just 2,500 miles on the odometer), and that "this was immediately followed by an autonomous brake activation resulting in their vehicle being struck from the rear by another vehicle." No police report was filed following this incident, and there were no injuries.

A General Motors spokesperson told The Detroit News that the company is fully cooperating with this preliminary investigation. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

2014 Chevy Impala being investigated over braking issue originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 22 Apr 2014 17:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tue, 22 Apr 2014 17:44:00 EST

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Hot Rod Magazine: Roadkill

Have you read Mike Harley's awesome write up of the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible yet? The car Harley tests is the polar opposite of what you see above. Yes, the boys from Hot Rod Magazine's Roadkill series are back, and this time they're driving the world's worst Corvette from Florida (where else?) to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY.

Their mission? To put this god-awful car into the sinkhole that swallowed up a number priceless Vettes at the museum back in February. Now, you may be looking at the photo above and thinking, "Hey, that doesn't look that bad. I mean, sure, the headlights are wonky and is that a bald eagle on the trunk?" Trust us, it is.

The two hosts face all manner of challenges - as per usual - along the way, from a run-in with Don Schumacher that nearly sends the pair to Las Vegas instead of Kentucky, to encounters with the local police to your typical batch of mechanical gremlins. It all makes for a seriously entertaining 22 minutes of video, all of which you can see by scrolling down.

Continue reading Watch the boys from Hot Rod hoon a Corvette worthy of a sinkhole

Watch the boys from Hot Rod hoon a Corvette worthy of a sinkhole originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 22 Apr 2014 17:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tue, 22 Apr 2014 17:02:00 EST

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Saturn Ion

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has closed its investigation into faulty electric power steering motors affecting 334,728 Saturn Ions from 2004-2007, because General Motors has issued a recall for them. The group's research found that the part failed at a high rate in the vehicles.

GM recalled over 1.3 million vehicles a few weeks ago, including the Ion, because the power steering could suddenly fail. If broken, the cars could still turn, but it took greater effort. The automaker is also covering 96,324 2003 Ions with a lifetime warranty for their motors, but it's not immediately replacing them.

NHTSA opened its investigation into the motors in September 2011, and it found 4,787 complaints and 30,560 warranty claims that showed failure for the Ion alone. It estimated a complaint rate of 14.3 incidents per 1,000 vehicles and warranty claim rate of 9.1 percent. The investigation also found evidence of 12 crashes caused by loss of steering, two of which resulted in injuries.

According to The Detroit News, the Ion wasn't initially going to be included in the recall. During the House's hearing into GM's ignition switch recall, it presented an email from October 2011 to Mary Barra that notified her of the bad steering motors and said the "Ion data did not justify being included" in the recall. At some point, the automaker apparently changed its decision. NHTSA's investigation report can be downloaded as a PDF.

Saturn Ion steering probe closed by NHTSA originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 22 Apr 2014 16:26:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tue, 22 Apr 2014 16:26:00 EST

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Subaru WRX

It's fair to see we're rather fond of the new Subaru WRX. That's not to say we don't have a number of issues with the budget sports sedan, though. Foremost among those complaints is that it's short exactly one door.

Yes, the sedan-only WRX is just fine, but we'd be lying if we said we weren't missing the long-roofed, five-door model of years past. More pressing than our sentimentality, though, is the business case for a WRX wagon - half of the 2013 WRX and STI models sold had five doors. As a general rule, ignoring half of your former customers isn't the best strategy for long-term success.

There was some hope, as recently as a few weeks ago, though, that Subaru would right this wrong and offer a real, five-door WRX. An Australian reporter managed to corner project manager Masuo Takatsu, who said strong interest from the US meant that the Subaru mothership was considering a WRX with a hatch rather than a trunk.

Sadly, that doesn't seem to be the case, as Subaru USA is dashing any and all hope of a second body style. According to Motor Trend, the company's US arm reached out to Japan and, despite the statements made by Takatsu, confirmed that there were no plans for a WRX wagon. Sigh...

Subaru WRX hatchback back off the table originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 22 Apr 2014 16:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tue, 22 Apr 2014 16:01:00 EST