The Insignia into a slick SUV fighter

Just a week after BMW unveiled a new 5 Series Touring, Opel has turned the Insignia Grand Sport into a slick four-wheel drive fighter. The Insignia Sports Tourer might be blessed with the same good looks and luxurious interior as the sedan launched last year, but there’s even more space for kids, pets and luggage down back. Could it convince you to join the wagon club?

As is the case with the sedan, Opel has trimmed back the fat for a fitter, more engaging Sports Tourer. Depending on trim, the new car is up to 200 kg (441 lb) lighter than its predecessor, which will benefit everything from handling to efficiency. In spite of the impressive weight reduction, the wagon has actually grown in every direction, and now has an extra 100 liters (3.5 cubic feet) of luggage space with the rear seats folded.

Luggage isn’t the only thing with more space, as passengers have also been treated to a more capacious rear seat. There’s an extra 25 mm (0.98 in) of shoulder room, 27 mm (1.06 in) more hip room and 31

The Metris van into a rolling toolbox

Mercedes-Benz had a tough road to the 2017 Chicago Auto Show. How to outdo last year’s mean, green Sprinter Extreme? We’re not sure it’s done it, but it’s definitely made quite an effort with a Metris van all dressed up like a toolbox on wheels, complete with carry handle. This Metris is ready to roll up its sleeves and get serious work done, everywhere work needs gettin’ done.

 

Once again, Mercedes worked with Renntech in designing a flamboyant Chicago show van. This time around, it went a little bit smaller but every bit as bold to showcase the Mercedes-Benz Vans MasterSolutions program it launched last summer. MasterSolutions is a turn-key professional upfitting service that can outfit any Mercedes or Freightliner van for virtually any type of work environment, adding shelves, organizational equipment, refrigeration, shuttle seating and more.

Mercedes didn’t hold back the upfitting with the Metris MasterSolutions Toolbox show van. Beyond its eye-grabbing wrapped exterior, complete with toolbox-style latches and carry handle, the concept van features an interior with removable grip-tile floor and shelves, cabinets and removable cases from Mercedes MasterSolutions partner companies.

The autonomous future will cause major disruption

At BMW Australia’s range day last Friday, members of the motoring press were gathered to drive the full fleet of BMW, Mini and BMW Motorrad products, and spend some time with BMW Australia CEO Mark Werner. Werner had some thoughts on BMW’s future in a self-driving world, and a strong message to send to the Australian government on its lack of support for hybrid and electric low-emission vehicles. Here’s a partial transcript.

Where are you at with autonomous driving, and where does a prestige brand like BMW fit in a future self-driving world?

That’s a very interesting subject. As you might have seen, we’ve recently announced a joint venture with Intel and MobilEye. Mobileye will provide the necessary camera systems for our vehicles, and Intel brings the necessary processors on the software and the hardware side in order to further boost the autonomous driving technology in our vehicles.

The interesting thing is, those cars already exist. We’re not talking about five or 10 or 15 years down the road, those cars already exist, and as we speak they’re already doing some extensive

Rubicon Recon Edition for Fun

As four-wheel drives have taken a turn for the luxurious, the Jeep Wranglerstands tall as a capable, old fashioned off-roader. The regular Rubicon will already go anywhere, but some hardcore enthusiasts want more than just regular – they want to know no road, rock or rut will be able to stop them. The new Wrangler Rubicon Recon aims to cater for these people.

Most of the major changes come under the skin of the Recon, where Jeep has spent its time taking a tough underbody and making it properly bombproof. The front axle has been upgraded with strengthened tubes and heavy-duty end forgings, while the differentials at both ends have been covered with cast heavy-duty covers. Gone are the standard rock rails and in their place is a shorter set, designed to leave room for the gigantic off-road tires.

Although it’s fitted with the same part-time four-wheel drive as the regular Rubicon, the Recon runs with a 4.10 ratio on both axles, while Tru-Lok locking differentials are standard as well. Fitted with the six-speed manual gearbox, the car has a crawl ratio of 73.1:1 for easy rock-crawling.

As is standard for its special editions, Jeep has given the Recon

Corvettes cabin into new AeroWagen

Callaway Cars previewed its AeroWagen Corvette shooting brake way back in 2013 before the C7 Corvette had even hit the market. It took a little longer to launch than originally planned, but now the AeroWagen is here and ready to give Corvette drivers a bit of extra luggage space.

When we published a look at the AeroWagen sneak preview, sentiments were somewhat polarized but leaned more toward “put it in my driveway now,” with only a hint of “not a chance in hell” sprinkled in. Most commenters seemed to dig its combination of sportiness and added practicality. And now those folks that dig it enough finally have the chance to own it.

While the AeroWagen’s stretched cabin is a dramatic visual departure, Callaway’s package is fairly simple. It doesn’t make any changes to the chassis or interior and even keeps the targa roof intact and operational.

The package is a part-for-part replacement for the original equipment rear hatch and relies on the same hinge, latch and seal hardware. The tempered safety rear window glass includes defogging hardware, and since the kit is essentially plug and play, the owner can choose to reinstall the standard factory hatch should the shooting brake

The Citroen C Aircross Concept

Citroen has found its feet again in recent years, returning to its roots with comfy, quirky cars for people who think a bit differently. Along with the funky C4 Cactus, the C3 hatch runs with a unique look, and we’re not even going to start talking about the brand’s range of minivans. If the C-Aircross Concept is anything to go by, that range will soon be growing to include a (handsome) compact four-wheel drive.

There are a lot of words you could use to describe the current Citroen design language (depending on who you are, they’ll range from interesting to ugly), but the focus on circular detailing and contrast colors means those words certainly don’t include tough. The C-Aircross aims to change that, with its pumped-up ride height and plastic cladding. Although it’s only 4.15 meters (13.6 ft) long, 1.74 meters (5.7 ft) wide and 1.63 meters (5.3 ft) tall, the designers have done a good job of making the car look big and imposing, while the 18-inch wheels add a touch of flair.

As well as being a bit more butch than your average compact four-wheel drive, the concept is also a bit smarter. Citroen has a long history

CNG trucks can go the distance

elivery trucking is a dirty business, but the companies that rely on it are working to clean things up. Along with the push toward electric trucks and vans, compressed natural gas (CNG) is emerging as a useful alternative to our reliance on diesel power. In the UK, Scania has created a fleet of biomethane fueled trucks for Waitrose, which is looking to reap the rewards with lower running costs and less emissions.

To make sure the trucks can stand up to the rigours of delivery driving, Scania has collaborated with American firm Agility Fuel Solutions. The fuelling system relies on two 26-inch carbon fiber tanks, which store enough gas to cover between 300 and 500 miles (483 and 805 km) without refuelling. The biomethane – which is up to 40 percent cheaper than diesel and emits 70 percent less C02 – is stored at 250 bar of pressure, 25 percent higher than conventional CNG vehicles like the Audi A3 g-tron.

The clever tanks are already in use in America, but the fleet of Waitrose lorries is the first to make use of them in Europe. They’ve been adapted and certified for European roads, and save a claimed 500

Durango SRT is a muscle car in SUV clothing

Once wild animals full of wanderlust, SUVs have long been domesticated into quiet, loyal family haulers used for bringing home groceries and shuttling sports and spectator gear to the field. Dodge believes that there’s still some feral nature left in these still-formidable beasts and it’s drawing it out in a big way with the all-new Durango SRT. Dubbed the “Dodge Charger of the full-size SUV segment,” the new Durango packs power and performance previously unimaginable for a factory Durango.

We’ll have to wait until the New York Auto Show in April to see the all-new Challenger SRT Demon, the “ultimate performance halo” Dodge has been teasing for weeks in a series of videos. But Dodge won’t be limping into this week’s Chicago Auto Show without an exciting muscle car debut. Only this muscle car is an SUV, a three-row SUV Dodge calls the fastest, most powerful and most capable out there.

The first Durango SRT ever becomes the larger brother of the ever-exhilarating Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. Like the Jeep, it’s powered by a 6.4-liter HEMI V8. That engine makes 475 hp at 6,000 rpm and 470 lb-ft (637 Nm) of torque at 4,300 rpm.

With help from a launch

the next family Expedition smarter and lighter

They might have a reputation for being thirsty old dinosaurs, but big family four-wheel drives are getting smarter with every generation. The new Ford Expedition has grown in every direction, but an aluminum-intensive body and smarter powertrain options mean it uses less fuel, tows more weight and handles better than before.

Although it shares an EcoBoost badge with the current car, the new Expedition drops the old twin-turbo V6 for the smarter second-generation EcoBoost V6 found in F-Series trucks. It makes 375 hp (280 kW) and 637 Nm (470 lb.ft) of torque in that application, but given the different roles of the two cars, you can expect those figures to change slightly when Ford unveils the full spec. The new engine is hooked up to a 10-speed automaticgearbox, which is more capable with a load on the back thanks to short bottom ratios, but more efficient on the highway thanks to its three overdrive gears.

Efficiency benefits aside, the new powertrain should also be more capable off-road when it’s hooked up to the optional electronic limited-slip differential and smart four-wheel drive system. Drivers are able to choose the type of terrain they’re on using a console-mounted rotary controller, and

Bugatti lifts curtain on Chiron production line

Building and testing any production car is a fiendishly complex undertaking, but some cars require more time and attention than others – Bugatti’s new supercar, for example. Production of the Bugatti Chiron has officially started in Molsheim, and the company has peeled back the curtain to show the world how 1,800 individual parts come together to make someone’s dream a very, very expensive reality.

The production process starts, as you’d expect, with the customer nailing down the final specification of their car. Potential owners sit down with a consultant from Bugatti and run through the full range of options, choosing from a huge palette of standard paints and eight different carbon fiber weaves for the exterior before moving to the interior.

Here’s a hot tip: if you’re not good at making decisions, don’t try and configure the cabin of a Chiron. As if choosing between 31 different types of leather and eight shades of suede wasn’t enough, you can select a dizzying array of carpet, seatbelt and stitching options. And if that still isn’t enough, the team at Le Maison Pur Sang is able to make an owner’s most intricate fancies come to life with custom paint finishes, interior

Paris collectible car auctions

The Paris round of collector car auctions begins later this week, and in close to a perfect setting, the three tier 1 auctions are just some of Retromobile’s many highlights. The auctions run February 8 (RM-Sothebys), February 9 (Bonhams) and February 10 (Artcurial) and though the auction world record price won’t be under threat this year as it was last, some very important and wonderfully storied automobiles will grace the auction block this week.

 

1 – Nuvolari’s Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo Tipo B P3

Estimate: €3.8 to €5.0 million (US$4.1 to $5.4 million) | Auction Link

Look closely at this rare 1934 Alfa Romeo and on the bonnet you’ll see the Prancing Horse logo made famous by Ferrari Scuderia. More than a decade before Enzo Ferrari started making cars under his own name, he ran his own race team and became the pseudo Alfa Romeo works team. The car is an Alfa Romeo Tipo B P3, one of just seven built, the first single seater in Grand Prix racing, briefly dominant in it’s time, and the first to appear at auction for a decade.The car is even more significant when you realize it was campaigned by Scuderia Ferrari, and driven

Pop top camper bus with accessorized Atlas

The Chicago Auto Show starts on Thursday, and Volkswagen will brighten up midwinter in the Windy City with a taste of summer road-tripping. The Weekend Edition concept adds some strategic accessories to the new Atlas SUV, transforming it into a shuttle set for family recreation and adventure with room to pack the kids, gear, suitcases and even the family dog up for a long weekend on the road.

Revealed last October, the new Atlas will hit US roads this spring. Volkswagen is marketing it as an active lifestyle vehicle that it hopes inspires people to “live a life as big as their imaginations,” and the Weekend Edition better illustrates what it means, for those that might not have the biggest imaginations.

The Weekend Edition designation recalls the “Weekender” packages once offered on classic Vanagon and Eurovan pop-up campers. Unfortunately, the Atlas package doesn’t get a true pop-up roof or overnighting amenities of its own, but it does get a distinctive roof box that Volkswagen imagines as a modern version of the pop-up roof.

The Urban Loader cargo box looks like a hard-shell roof-top tent, but it only provides space for resting gear and cargo, not resting campers. The box expands

Take the dashboard with you

As cars become more connected, a range of clever apps to interact with them has popped up. BMW offers up a clever personal assistant, and Volvowill let you lock your car, check the fuel level and activate the heating using an Apple Watch. Now, Volkswagen will let you keep track of all servicing using the (inventively named) My Volkswagen app.

At its core, the My Volkswagen app is all about keeping a handle on what’s happening in your car. Families with multiple VW cars in their garage are able to see all their vehicles in the one place, and even track cars that haven’t arrived as they progress from the factory to the dealer and, eventually, their driveway.

The real benefit of a system like this comes when it’s time to get the car serviced. Rather than having to consult the service book to work out when it’s time for a service, the app is able to keep a detailed log of all services and government checks carried out on the car in its history. Buyers can also use the app to book services, and receive warnings about when the car might need a check up based on mileage

GT Sport is a hot i30 by any other name

Hyundai has used the Chicago Auto Show to unveil its newest play at American hatchback supremacy. Europeans might know it as the i30 but Hyundai likes to do things differently in the US, launching the warmed-over Elantra GT Sport with a 200 hp (149 kW) engine and purist-pleasing six-speed manual gearbox. The Golf GTI won’t be losing any sleep, but the good-looking warm hatch bodes well for the incoming i30N.

When it came time for the team at Hyundai America to turn the regular European i30 into the hotter Elantra GT Sport, the formula was relatively simple. Rather than running with the range-topping 138 hp (103 kW) 1.4-liter turbo on offer elsewhere, the GT Sport is fitted with a 1.6-liter turbo punching out 201 hp (150 kW) of power and 265 Nm of torque. Sure, they’re not full “hot hatch” numbers, but they make the car a more practical hatchback alternative to the VW Jetta GLI or Hyundai’s own Elantra Sport.

Power is put to the road through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, but purists (and those with restless left legs) will want the six-speed manual.

Of course, for the Elantra GT Sport to be considered a true member of the

Trucks cut costs and emissions at Skoda

Hot on the heels of supermarket chain Waitrose unveiling a fleet of compressed natural gas delivery lorries in the UK, Skoda has whipped the covers off four CNG-powered trucks for its factory in Mlada Boleslav. The lorries will be used to ferry parts around the factory site, promising to cut costs and carbon emissions in the process.

Having subjected the trucks to a two-month trial, three of the compressed natural gas lorries have been put into full-time service at Skoda HQ in the Czech Republic, while another completes a 120-km (75-mi) journey from the factory to Stráž nad Nisou 12 times per week. According to the company, this helps save 16 tonnes (17.6 tons) of CO2 compared to a standard diesel truck running the same route.

The 25-m (82-ft) lorries are able to carry 150 m3 (5,297 cu.ft) of goods, 50 percent more than a regular truck. That allows the drivers to make 18 fewer trips along their 292-km (181-mi) route every week, which equates to 250,000 fewer km (155,343 mi) driven over the course of 12 months – emitting 200 tonnes (220 tons) less CO2 in the process.

Not only do they emit significantly less CO2

Highlights from the 2017 Chicago Auto Show

The annual Chicago Auto Show is the most consumer-driven of the automotive spectacles that happen in the United States. Always fun to visit, the CAS also has more floor space and ride-and-drive events included than any other show. This year, along with blacked-out trim packages, famous race cars and new reveals, there was also something for Star Wars and Lego fans.

The 2017 Chicago Auto Show officially opened to the general public on Saturday, February 11. Here’s what you can look forward to if you attend CAS this year.

The Chicago show isn’t well-known as a big showcase for manufacturer’s new wares or concepts. Those are usually left for the Detroit and New Yorkshows and, more and more, the Consumer Electronics Show. Tucked in between these shows, CAS tends towards the consumer rather than the “wow!” Yet there are still some surprises in store.

Notably this year, Nissan unveiled its latest (and last) version of the Titan XD pickup truck that’s been trickling out over the past year or so. This one is a king cab configuration, ready for the jobsite or the driveway. With the expected suicide door configuration popular in this cab style, the king cab finishes the gamut

Challenger lights the birthday candles for Mopar

The Chicago Auto Show might not have produced the same stack of big-ticket reveals as Detroit, but that doesn’t mean McCormick Place was completely devoid of cool new cars. Along with the Hyundai Elantra GT Sport and Toyota RAV4 Adventure, the show played host to the Dodge Challenger Mopar, a two-tone special designed to celebrate 80 years worth of big wings, hood scoops and antifreeze from Mopar.

In the Mopar Challenger, power comes from the same 392 HEMI V8 you’ll find in a base Challenger R/T 392 with the Scat Pack, which means it makes 485 hp (362 kW) and 644 Nm of torque. The motor is fitted with the Shaker Hood package which adds that gorgeous retro bonnet and badging to the nose. Dodge also says the pack provides “performance gains” compared to cars without it, but there’s no mention of any extra power or torque on the spec sheet, so we’re a little skeptical of just how much extra performance you get.

Although the Challenger isn’t really known as a sharp handler – in the muscle car world, it’s a good old fashioned straight line bruiser compared to the (relatively) light-footed Mustang and Camaro – Dodge has still

Maybach G650 Landaulet

When it came time for Mercedes to create its latest ultra-luxurious Maybach model, it had a few options. Having transformed the S600 Pullman and S650 Cabriolet, it would have made sense to move onto the S-Class Coupeor maybe even the E-Class, but sometimes the world just doesn’t make sense. Need proof? Just take a look at the Maybach G650 Landaulet.

On the surface, the G-Class isn’t the most logical base for an ultra-luxurious special edition. The current version has been in production since 1979 and, although it’s been treated to a few choice improvements since, very little has changed. That means the car is still built on a ladder frame chassis, still has the aerodynamics of a brick, and handles like a baby giraffe on stilts.

Measuring up at 5,345 mm (17.5 ft) long and 2,235 mm (7.3 ft) tall, with ground clearance just under half a meter, the G650 doesn’t really fit into any existing class of car. It doesn’t get any easier to pigeonhole when you take the funky roof into account, either – rather than a full convertible top, Maybach has fitted a soft top that uncovers the two rear seats, while the driver (chauffeur) and passenger

Bugatti Type 52

Ettore Bugatti’s engines set world speed records for cars, boats, trains and airplanes and his Bugatti Type 35 became the most successful racing car in history, propelling the Bugatti name to revered public recognition. Now his cars are doing it all over again on the auction block and the baby of the fleet is performing beyond expectations.

In the years between WW1 and WW2, Ettore Bugatti became one of the lions of France, showcasing world’s best practice in everything he did. Bugatti’s cars were not just for racers. They were also the most outrageously proportioned and sumptuous for the rich and famous.

The Bugatti Royale Berline de Voyager set a world record of US$6.5 million in 1986 and another Bugatti Royale (the Kellner Coupe) broke that record in 1987 with a sale of $9.9 million, then remarkably held the world record price for a car at auction from 1987 until 2010.

The Type 35 won the 1926 Grand Prix World Championship and the Targa Florio for five consecutive years (1925-1929). In the hands of racers across the world, the production Type 35 racing car averaged 14 race wins per week at its peak, eventually winning more than 1,000 races.

That’s Ettore’s first son, Jean

Mobileye harness the swarm

Autonomous cars are being put through thousands of miles worth of testing every month, but specialised self-driving prototypes aren’t the only vehicles able to provide crucial information for the future of safer, smarter cars. Although we still need to drive them, sensors and cameras mounted around modern cars can still be used to further the self-driving breed. VW and Mobileye plan to do just that, creating a detailed map using cameras and sensors on new cars sold after 2018.

One of the biggest changes made to cars recently is the introduction of connected features. Now, rather than steering you straight into heavy traffic, some cars are able to gather live traffic data and work out the best possible route around it. You can also lock/unlock Jaguar, Volvo and BMW vehicles from an app, while the new Mercedes E-Class is able to warn other cars fitted with the same Car-to-X technology of accidents farther up the road.

There’s also a huge array of sensors fitted to most new cars, including cameras and radars for auto-emergency braking. Using its new Road Experience Management system, Mobileye plans to take the data being gathered by sensors to be installed on Volkswagens from 2018,