Summary: Volkswagen diesels cheated in emissions tests, GM gets a slap on the wrists, a V6 Ferrari is in the works and more.
On the Radar
The Latest in Motoring News
The US government has ordered Volkswagen to recall half a million diesel-powered cars after it was revealed the manufacturer installed illegal software (called a “defeat device”) in their cars in order to get around emissions testing standards. The software could detect when the car was undergoing emissions testing and turn on emissions controls, but would shut off under normal driving, releasing up to 40 times the amount of smog measured in the tests. The cars affected are the Volkswagen Beetle (2009-2015), Golf (2009-2015), Jetta (2009-2015), Passat (2014-2015) and Audi A3 (2009-2015) with the company’s four-cylinder diesel engine.
Volvo’s Still Got It
The completely redesigned XC90 just underwent IIHS crash testing and aced it, most notably the new “small overlap test” designed to replicate a head-on collision at the front corner of the car. That’s not a huge surprise, but since the test was added to the IIHS protocol in 2012, as Jalopnik points out, car makers have had a hard time passing it as they try to update their safety tech. (Note that the old version of the XC90, essentially unchanged since 2003, did exceptionally well in the test too.) The XC90 received a Top Safety Pick+ rating, making every current model in the Volvo lineup a recipient of the rating, the only brand in the industry to lay claim to the achievement.
GM and DOJ Reach Settlement over Ignition Switch Scandal
GM has agreed to a $900 million settlement with the Department of Justice in regards to a lawsuit over faulty ignition switches. The debacle has lead to the recall of 2.4 million cars and 124 deaths. However, the deal has been criticized by victims, safety advocates and lawmakers for not prosecuting the individuals at GM who knew about the defects for over a decade and kept the issue quiet. Though GM’s debt to the government is resolved, GM still faces a potential $575 million in settlements in civil lawsuits.
A New Ferrari Dino?
A Top Gear interview with Ferrari engineer Amedeo Felisa and a company engineer has revealed that the Italian supercar company is putting forth serious efforts to refine V6 technology for future use in Ferrari cars. Currently, Ferrari is working to squeeze about 200 horsepower per liter out of the V6 engine, while maintaining durability (relative to Ferrari, of course). When TG asked Felisa if the engine would be used in a smaller car he said, “You wouldn’t do a bigger one with a V6.”
Making It Train
The US lags behind other world powers in terms of high-speed rails. Now, a new venture between a Chinese Railway Group and American company XpressWest should see a new high-speed railway built between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The railway line would potentially get riders between the two cities in about 80 minutes (compared to a four-hour drive) and would reach speeds of up to 150 mph.
Will BMW and Toyota Seal the Deal?
BMW and Toyota formed a partnership back in 2012 to collaborate on fuel-cell tech, lightweight components and possibly a new sports car. According to Toyota’s head of European operations, Johan van Zyl, the project has been going swimmingly so far, but the new sports car is still up in the air. Zyl states that by the end of the year, the two brands will confirm if the car will happen or not.
A Good Weekend for Ferrari
After a two-week hiatus, F1 returned to action in Singapore, with Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel taking first place and teammate Kimi Raikkonen taking third. Mercedes has been the dominant force in F1 so far, and this marks the first time in the season that Mercedes did not make the podium. Lewis Hamilton, suffering a loss of turbo boost, had to bow out of the race, closing the gap between him and his teammate Nico Rosberg in the season standings. Meanwhile, American driver Alexander Rossi made his F1 debut, and while he only finished 14th, he drove well and beat his Marussia teammate Will Stevens.
Reviews and Buying Guides
Advice from the Crew
The Best of the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show
Hop into the Bentley, Bugatti, BMW, Ferrari, Porsche, Rolls Royce (and more!) unveiling party. It’s a gas — and a touch electric. Read the Story
The Silverado Is the Best Small Truck in the West
Truck envy set in within an hour of crossing the Wyoming state line. But the Silverado never backed down. Read the Review
What to Buy, Now
1978 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40
With a “Buy It Now” price of $84,500, this 1978 Land Cruiser may only be a dream for a lot of us, but few vintage FJ40s come as well sorted (or as well photographed) as this one. Restored by FJ40 specialist Scott Gesik in Oregon, it boasts OEM suspension bits and a fully rebuilt 4.2-liter inline-six.
Motoring Stories from Around the Web
If you’ve seen David Letterman’s episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, you know Paul Newman owned a Volvo 940 wagon with a Ford V8 stuffed in it. Turns out he had a VW Beetle with a Ford V8 as well.
Honda raised some eyebrows when it announced a $184,000 street-legal version of its MotoGP bike with a tunicated power output. People have had trouble seeing the value, but Tom Roderick of Motorcycle.com thinks it might be worth the exorbitant cost.
What We’re Driving Now
Tip or Submission? Comments or suggestions? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. You never know, you might get something in return.