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To Hell with That: Fiat Chrysler Denies Chrysler 300 Hellcat Report

Chrysler 300 SRT Hellcat (spy photo)

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ plans to move the next-generation Chrysler 300 sedan to the Alfa Romeo Giulia platform have reportedly been scrapped. However, rumor is that the Chrysler flagship may add a more fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine to the lineup and that, on the other end of the scale, the 707-hp supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 from the Dodge Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcats could show up in the 300 at the end of 2018.

According to Automotive News, the 300 will undergo an extensive refresh for the 2019 model year. The updated 300 will continue to use FCA’s aging LX platform as a base. The company, though, is expected to integrate additional weight-saving technologies to help fuel efficiency. Meanwhile, a rumored four-cylinder 300 would probably use the same turbocharged unit that is slated for the all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler. (The LX-platform-based Dodge Charger and Challenger will also see the 2019 updates before being replaced in 2021, according to the report, with new models based on the Maserati Ghibli platform.)

An FCA spokesperson contradicted that report, telling Car and Driver that the company currently has no plans to produce a 300 variant featuring the Hellcat supercharged V-8. Still, we’ve been misled by FCA before, and we’ve even published spy photos of what looked like a 300 Hellcat test mule. We wouldn’t put money on Chrysler offering a 707-hp 300, but we can’t rule out the possibility. Remember, though, that the SRT version of the 300 still exists only for export markets and is not sold in North America.

Automotive News also reported that the Chrysler brand is expected to add a pair of crossover SUVs to its portfolio by the beginning of the next decade. The industry trade paper reported that a mid-size model based on the Jeep Cherokee platform will arrive for the 2019 model year and that a full-size crossover, due in 2021, will be based on the Pacifica minivan, which is itself due for a refresh in 2020. The larger crossover may revive the Aspen name, which was once used on a Dodge-brand K-car but more recently was the name of a full-size Chrysler SUV that shared its architecture with the Dodge Durango.

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Udacity to Introduce Flying Car Credential

| View Exclusive AAUP Compensation Survey Data |

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Le Hatch Chaud: New Renault Megane RS Debuts; We Want It

2017 Renault Megane RS

European hot-hatch fans rejoice: Renault just unveiled the latest iteration of the Mégane RS. Based on the roughly two-year-old current-gen Mégane hatchback, the RS model returns to represent the automaker in the fiercely contested European sport-compact segment. That means facing off against such storied players as the Volkswagen GTI and the Ford Focus ST, as well as intriguing hot-hatch variants of the Vauxhall Astra, SEAT Léon, Peugeot 308, and other Eurocentric offerings that aren’t available stateside.

The Mégane R.S. is wider (with a wider track to match) than its more civilian counterpart and stylistically is distinguished by its front-end graphics, R.S.-specific 18- and 19-inch wheels, rear diffuser, and trapezoidal center exhaust. A newly available Tonic Orange exterior finish grants its owner extrovert status. The interior features front sport seats with integrated headrests, red stitching, and a choice of fabric or microsuede.

2017 Renault Megane RS

The Megane R.S. will be available for the first time in two versions: Cup and Sport. Both are propelled by a 276-hp turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with direct injection. A full 288 lb-ft of grunt is on hand, delivered to the front wheels via either a six-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Renault’s Multi-Sense system provides five driving modes—Comfort, Normal, Sport, Race, and Personal—to fine-tune steering, throttle, and transmission responses. Of particular note is the inclusion of a four-wheel-steering system called 4Control, which is designed to improve agility and cornering stability at speed. Renault claims it’s a first for the segment.

Another unique feature is the use of rally-inspired hydraulic bump stops that assist the Cup version in delivering uncompromising handling while providing a smooth ride for the Sport version.

2017 Renault Megane RS

The infotainment system is said to be more user-friendly than before—for which we admittedly have no baseline—and, in a defining nod to the intended demographic, includes an Expert mode that allows users to connect a camera to the system and record (presumably on-track) video, which can be played back and analyzed before sharing it on social media.

Addressing buyers who might fear that the Renault Mégane R.S. doesn’t have the stones to hang with hatchback brawlers like the Focus RS and the Honda Civic Type R, Renault also is resurrecting the Mégane R.S. Trophy. Set to arrive in late 2018, it will pack the same engine, tweaked to produce in the neighborhood of 296 horsepower, plus a Torsen limited-slip-differential and other chassis revisions.


2017 Frankfurt Auto Show Full Coverage

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Auto-pedestrian accident in Killeen leaves 1 injured, causes delays

An auto-pedestrian accident left traffic backed up along U.S. Highway 190/Interstate 14 near the Trimmier Road exit early Wednesday morning.

Police officers responded to the scene around 6:40 a.m. after a caller reported an accident. Killeen Police Department spokeswoman Ofelia Miramontez said a man was reportedly hit by a Jeep while attempting to cross the highway after another car swerved to avoid him.

Rescue workers performed CPR on the victim at the scene.

The man’s condition was unknown as of 8:30 a.m. More information will be released as it is made available.

Miramontez said officers had closed off the Willow Springs/Fort Hood Street exit due to the accident, and that traffic was at a standstill from there to the Trimmier Road exit. Traffic is now flowing normally.

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Cops: Orland man dies after shooting at Alsip body shop; 2nd victim …

One of two men shot at an Alsip auto body shop Tuesday has died, police said Wednesday morning.

Mohamed Salhia, 76, of Orland Park, was pronounced dead at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, according to a news release from the Alsip Police Department. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

The second shooting victim, a 43-year-old man, remained at Advocate Christ, where his condition was stabilized, according to police.

The man who allegedly shot the two employees was taken into police custody after a brief pursuit Tuesday, police said.

O’Reilly Auto Parts: An Opportunistic Buy For Consistency And Growth

O’Reilly Automotive’s (NASDAQ:ORLY) sustainable and outperforming business model, valuation metrics pointing to an current undervalued market price, sheer brand power, and position in the American economy make this company a story, quantitatively and qualitatively, worth buying into. O’Reilly Auto Parts has pioneered and mastered their dual-market model strategy over the past two decades, and has become a household name within the auto-part’s world. Erected in 1957, O’Reilly’s first store quickly became a local favorite in Southwest Missouri, and its tremendous growth and commitment to its customers eventually enshrined the entire O’Reilly family as local legends. The company has since sprawled into a gargantuan store network, tallying 4,935 stores in 47 states, as well as one of the largest auto-parts distribution network in the nation. Drawing in and retaining customers with their immense brand power and loyalty, their unique business approach allows customers to tap the expertise of store employees, order their desired automobile or engine parts, and have next day delivery thanks to O’Reilly’s expansive and unparalleled distribution network. Their strength of their infrastructure via distribution centers and hub stores enables them to maintain quick delivery times that are difficult to match by their 3 major competitors. Additionally, O’Reilly has championed the dual market model, taking advantage of both DIY (do-it-yourself) and commercial markets. These elements combine to create a business model hard to match not only by their immediate peers, but also by large conglomerates trying to break into the auto parts market (e.g. Amazon (AMZN)). Their palpable success has filled the billfolds of investors who have continually trusted the leadership and longevity of the rags to riches O’Reilly story.

Historically, O’Reilly has seen immense and unprecedented growth. This has been reflected in their market price, clocking a mind-blowing average trailing total returns of 18.68% over the past 10 years. O’Reilly has never paid out dividends to shareholders, instead opting to enact share buy-back programs and high reinvestment rates which has pumped loads of cash directly back into their business operations. As recently as Friday, September 1st, the board of directors announced an additional and significant share buyback program of $1 billion worth of common stock. Perhaps this signals management’s perception of a current undervaluing of the company, and/or it is an attempt to boost the financial ratios that can have pivotal influence on investor sentiment. In the past, critics have scolded the buy-back moves, claiming that they were done far above their current fair market value. Nevertheless, these buy-back programs have allowed the stock to climb at a tearing pace since the global recession in 2007-2008. According to analyst valuations and expected future growth rates, the most recent buy-back announcement appears like a ripe time to buy, with most estimates undervaluing the stock by at least 15% – 20%.

Here is a look at growth comparisons between O’Reilly and their respective sub-sector. While O’Reilly has recorded average trailing total returns of 18.68% over the past 10 years, their respective sub-sector, specialty retail, has dragged behind at a still-impressive 14.37%.

Source: Morningstar

Here is an additional, longer-term comparison:

Source: Morningstar

Additionally, O’Reilly has eclipsed the SP 500 index for more than 10 years. As the chart below reveals, even the notoriously hot stocks that hog the headlines have had trouble keeping pace with the steadfast nature of O’Reilly (see Disney (DIS), Alphabet (GOOGL), Microsoft (MSFT), Facebook (FB)); it’s growth and perseverance have been kept relatively quiet and out of the mainstream investing discussion for the majority of its lifetime.

Source: Yahoo Finance

Despite O’Reilly’s historical prowess, however, they have seen internal warning calls regarding sales, negative market sentiment, and institutional/insider sell-offs leech into their consistently strong market value. A mild 2016-2017 winter led to good conditions for drivers, and therefore bad conditions for the auto- parts industry. This year has presented a period of “soft demand” according to the Q2 earnings call. Yet the fundamentals that have driven O’Reilly’s growth in past years are still present, and are perhaps stronger than they have ever been before. There is strong evidence pointing to a recent bottoming out – after rock bottom at $169.43 during late-July, the stock has rallied and is now trending well above $200.

Source: Morningstar

Additional data suggests that O’Reilly has already taken the brunt of the blow; YTD O’Reilly is down 29.24% while specialty retail is up 37.19%. Within the last month, however, specialty retail has stalled, gaining only 1.78%. O’Reilly, on the other hand, has seen a convincing turnaround – they are trending higher, only down 5.73% over the course of August and following a generally positive earnings call. Its laggard-like traits as of late might suggest that O’Reilly is simply out of gas. This is hardly the case, given their efficient business model, solid fundamentals, valuations, and multiples, as well as their most recent growth relative to their sub-sector. O’Reilly is priced incredibly cheap relative to their historical multiples, and generally as compared to their respective industry.

Internal Success Industry Tailwinds

When we look at the aforementioned data regarding O’Reilly and specialty retail, we see that O’Reilly’s efficient management and sustainable competitive advantages has propelled them eons past their respective peers. And the reasoning behind the unprecedented performance is quite simple: for years now, O’Reilly has been the aggressor in the brick and mortar auto parts world, out-maneuvering its competitors with exceptional management and advantageous acquisitions. Despite sprawling internal growth, operating margins have held steady at an impressive 19.9% (NYSE:TTM), which has been on a steady rise from just 15% 6 years ago:

Operating cash flows have been just as or more steady for the past 4 years:

Their prioritized organic growth (further explained later) and timely distribution network strategies have granted high levels of return on invested capital, in spite of the capital-intensive nature of said strategies:

Current Chairman and CEO Greg Henslee has since stepped down from his presidential role after serving over a decade in the position, but remains CEO and holds a very active role in the company. Newly named co-presidents Jeff Shaw, 54, and Greg Johnson, 51, who have each been with the company for over 25 years, respectively, have taken over more of the day-to-day management and operations. During Henslee’s tenure, and the unique co-president structure, management has taken advantage of strong industry tailwinds, including economic recovery, average miles driven, and average vehicle age. According to NPR, total miles driven on U.S. roads was 3.22 trillion in 2016, which is the fifth consecutive increase since 2011. The average vehicle fleet is nearly 11.6 years old, creating a primed market for O’Reilly’s business model. Current management has relied on a hefty and bold amount of organic growth, opening the doors on 210 new stores 2016 alone. They expect to surpass the 5,000 store mark by year’s end 2017. The comparable store sales, which reflect sales in their newly opened facilities was 4.8% in 2016, a key growth metric of their internal organic growth efforts. Their secondary focus, acquisitions, handed them 48 stores in the Northeast region in 2016 with the acquisition of Bond Auto Parts. Management has articulated that they wish to use both of these strategies to consolidate a fragmented after-market auto parts industry, with the intent of further positioning themselves as a household name and a nationwide powerhouse.

To illustrate O’Reilly’s proven sustainable competitive advantages, here is a keen look at the outpacing O’Reilly has executed in recent years against its immediate competitors:

Source: Yahoo Finance

The fundamentals are just as telling:
This relative valuation points to obvious concerns which we will address later on. At first glance, however, the evidence is clear. O’Reilly has supreme margins and returns on assets, equity, and invested capital. Their ROIC in particular has grown from 20.8% in 2012 to 34.4% in 2016. They have maintained consistent cash flows in spite of their increasingly large debt to equity ratio, and have continued to capture the majority of the auto parts industry market share, now with a slice of pie the size of $25.9 billion. Multiples suggest they are still priced relatively cheap (especially compared to their 5 year average of 25.1 times earnings), and their historical performance is simply unmatched.


To begin, let’s look at a discounted cash flow analysis. Assumptions for the weighted average cost of capital include a trailing twelve month market risk premium of 4.54% (Damodoran), aggregate beta of 0.73 (mean of Google, Yahoo, Reuters, NASDAQ), and risk free rate of 2.02%, the current yield of the U.S 10 year treasury note. We use the 2016 corporate tax rate assessed to O’Reilly revenue, and have calculated cost of debt based on the after tax cost of interest from O’Reilly’s corporate bonds.

This calculation gives us a WACC just above 5% at 5.07%. In order to compute the most accurate cash flow analysis, and to air on the side of caution, we aggregated alternative WACC’s from Morningstar and Guru Focus, at 6.49% and 8.00%, respectively. Additionally, we assume 3 years of high growth and a 2% terminal growth rate (based on current Federal Reserve macroeconomic predictions). Here is our fleshed out DCF model:

Our growth rates are based on an aggregate of the 5-year growth forecast from Morningstar at 14.6%, and the return on invested capital multiplied by the TTM equity re-investment rate, yielding us a more conservative 11.23%. Seeing that O’Reilly has remarkably outpaced this aggregated rate of 12.9% throughout recent history, and given their strong, consistent cash flows, this is a very reasonable growth rate for the company. We also weight FCF at a lofty 90%, since we believe FCFE is highly overstated, as it does not account for enough of the debt O’Reilly’s has undertaken in recent years. This model gives us an upside of nearly 35%, at $283.41, making it an advantageous value play in a generally overpriced American market.


Due diligence suggests we need to add in some additional valuation methods to smooth out this seemingly aggressive and heightened DCF analysis. A P/E multiples approach shows a still affirmative report about the undervalued nature of O’Reilly. We can first take the TTM EPS of O’Reilly of $10.97. The 5Y average P/E multiple for O’Reilly is 25.1, and the forward P/E sits at 14.9. If we weight each at 50%, we get our P/E multiple of 20. This seems reasonable given recent slowing growth patterns in the entire auto parts industry and potential market share threats from online like Amazon and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), but concurrently aware of the historical performance and market pricing of O’Reilly.

If we conservatively weight each valuation method at 50%, this gives us a fair value estimate of $251.30, retaining a still impressive 20% upside on the stock.


Amazon has proven to be the new house status-quo skeptic, sending ripples of fear into every industry it even mentions entering into. While O’Reilly and its peers, without a doubt, have targets on their backs, it will be difficult for Amazon, eBay, and others to snatch any significant portion of the already existing market share. When it comes to after market auto-parts (DIY) and professional service provider customers, the demographic that O’Reilly, Advanced Auto Parts (AAP), and Autozone (AZO) serves has not proven to be overly price sensitive; their products are relatively inelastic. Adding to this, customers find that there is tremendous value in the expertise, superior customer service, parts availability, and convenient locations that O’Reilly offers. The efficiency and reliability O’Reilly has fostered and enhanced is second to none, and has formed exceptional intangible value to customers. While low-cost competition could find its way onto the playing field, these facets of O’Reilly’s business model will simply be hard to navigate and/or mirror by the supposed looming threats of Amazon and eBay.

Perhaps there is a larger threat from electric and natural gas-powered car manufacturers. Integrating new parts, knowledgeable staff, and geographically advantageous stores will prove difficult as O’Reilly, along with the entire global economy navigates this dramatic shift in automotive trends. Companies like Tesla (TSLA) have already proved capable at bypassing the age-old car dealership business model – what says they can’t do it with parts and service, too?

Another point of concern is one of O’Reilly’s key growth metrics: comp sales. While comp store sales were nearing 5% in 2016, second quarter results yielded a measly 1.7%, well below initial 3%-5% guidance. Management has also lowered their guidance for the remainder of the year to a more bleak 1% – 2%. They have also lowered their guidance for revenues and sales for the remainder of 2017, mostly due to overall auto-parts market headwinds.

Insider sell-offs are also a point of concern as of late. For years, the O’Reilly clan has commanded the reigns of the auto-parts store, holding a majority of insider shares. Within the last year, however, several of the long-time figureheads of the company have sold off massive amounts of shares:

Perhaps since this trend is seen amongst several family members and figureheads all at once, it signals a gradual exit process of the long-time company stalwarts. Nevertheless, it is a legitimate concern that needs to be addressed in greater detail, especially since these individuals have been apart of the company since its founding mid way through the 20th century. This will put the company in a place it has never been before as they plan to pass the torch on to the next generation, blood relatives or not.

With oil prices trending higher over the latter part of summer, reduced domestic capacity due to a relentless hurricane season in the Southern U.S., and OPEC meetings indicating potential further loosening of oil well spickets, gas prices could continue to rise and therefore discourage consumers from setting yet another record year of miles driven on U.S roads. O’Reilly and its respective industry would thus be disadvantaged by this very likely macroeconomic trend. However, with oil prices near or at $50 a barrel, fracking technology in the continental U.S. can enjoy comfortable margins not seen when oil was at rock-bottom prices. This factor could potentially offset the aforementioned upward pressures on oil, and thus decrease the potential threat to O’Reilly’s future growth.

As indicated by accounting ratios and steady, new developments in the balance sheet, liquidity and financial health is a serious point of concern with O’Reilly. Both debt to equity and leverage can be explained by aggressive growth strategies and additional share buybacks. Nevertheless, they still pose obvious concerns, at 3.00 and 8.45 in the latest quarter, respectively. No major debt is due until 2021, and management is well within their planned strategy and bounds. As indicated by the qualitative factors influencing the company, as well as an affirmative, forward-looking valuation, O’Reilly can overcome these looming threats with their simplistic approach and sustainably competitive business model that has worked for so many years.

Economic Outlook Recommendation

There are a few critical macroeconomic factors that ultimately will determine the overall success of the entire auto parts industry. Ultimately, every U.S. corporation will be affected by potential tax reform, but O’Reilly will stand to benefit more than the aggregate, given their small/mid-cap size and therefore notably high tax rate. The American economy, while perplexed with new and aged challenges alike, appears healthy and strong. This is an environment that O’Reilly in particular has shown great success in the past, and without a doubt will do so in the future, too.

O’Reilly’s aforementioned robust history, sustainable and outperforming business model, multiples relative to the industry, and position in the American economy make this company a story, quantitatively and qualitatively, worth buying into.

Disclosure: I am/we are long ORLY.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Executive LWB (2017) review

 Porsche Panamera Executive review
 We test the new long-wheelbase saloon
 Designed for China, sold in UK too

Yes, you can now buy a long-wheelbase Porsche Panamera Executive – the long-wheelbase version of the sports saloon with a chunky 150mm extra grafted into the wheelbase.

Does this make the Pan-am more of a rival to the Mercedes S-class and BMW 7-series LWB limousines? Sort of, but it’s worth stressing the four-door Porsche remains a sporting saloon at heart.

The ‘Executive’ bit of the badge is what gives the game away, heralded by the chromed kickplates as you climb in through the significantly bigger rear doors.

Does the long-wheelbase Porsche Panamera Executive work? Is it roomy back there?

You bet. The longer back doors make a huge difference. Rather than squeezing through and dropping down into the individual chairs, you now slide through into the rear captain’s seat.

Porsche Panamera Executive long-wheelbase side profile

Ours was equipped with the full-shebang massaging and individually adjustable rear pews. Having driven 10 hours back from the 2017 Frankfurt motor show in one blast, we can confirm they are very comfortable indeed.

Choose from Stretch, Wave, Shiatsu, Lumbar and Shoulder massages, selected on a six-inch digital infotainment screen. Our preferred back treatment? The vigorous Stretch – perfect for rubbing away the excesses of the IAA.

Is the Panamera LWB practical?

Legroom is properly comfy. Even with quite tall front-seat passengers, there’s plenty of space in the rear and the boot remains a very usable 405 litres (enough for four Frankfurt showgoers’ luggage), rising to 1391 litres with the rear seats folded. 

Ours also came with some of the most exquisitely engineered aircraft-style pop-out tables. Now we know where those Porsche turn-of-the-millennium cupholder engineers have been deployed for all those years.

Glitches? The lack of any USB ports in the rear is a surprise omission. We couldn’t find a single one in the rear compartment of our test car…

How does the Porsche Panamera Executive drive? Does the extra weight blunt performance?

Hardly. We tested the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Executive, with the perky petrol-electric system. Around town, it’ll slip along city roads in a whispered hush for up to 30 miles on EV mode; plug in for extra juice if you commute daily and you’ll rarely have to fill up with fuel if you do mostly short hops in the week.

Digital screens in new Porsche Panamera Executive LWB: a very slick, modern cabin

On a high-speed cross-Continental cruise, we averaged a more mediocre 26mpg, so don’t go expecting miracle fuel economy. Certainly not the claimed combined average of 113mpg. But your tax bills will be remarkably reasonable with CO2 emissions pegged at a (still-risible) 56g/km.

This is a Porsche, though. So stomp the right pedal, and 0-62mph is dispatched in 4.7sec and top whack is 173mph. You’ll never want for performance in the E-Hybrid. That 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine is twin-turbocharged, don’t forget – producing 326bhp and 332lb ft of torque, which is supplemented by a particularly punchy 100kW, or 134bhp, electric motor. It’ll sprint to 40mph in EV mode in just 5.9sec, dammit.

The eight-speed PDK automatic slushes through the ratios with an oily precision; one of the few flies in the ointment is the way it can cog-swap unnecessarily, especially at an M-way cruise, between seventh and eighth. You almost sense the complexities of juggling twin power supplies, its 0rpm ‘gliding’ off-throttle and changing gear are too much for the electronic ECU brain at times.

Whatever, the 150mm wheelbase stretch has little discernible effect on ride and handling. Ours rode on large 19-inch alloy wheels suspended by air springs and proved very comfortable, with just enough of a controlled edge to the damping to remind you’re in a Porsche and not a comfort-biased German limo.

Which Panamera models are available in long-wheelbase?

The 150mm stretch is available on the following models:

  • Porsche Panamera Executive
  • Porsche Panamera 4 Executive
  • Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Executive
  • Porsche Panamera 4S Executive
  • Porsche Panamera Turbo Executive
  • Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive

However, it is not currently offered on the Sport Turismo shooting brake bodystyle. Read our Panamera estate review here.

Prices, specs and review: we test the new 2018 Porsche Panamera Executive LWB

Price? The LWB Panamera costs £5k over the regular saloon. Yes, that’s nearly a grand per inch!

Build quality is first-rate throughout and the rest of the Panamera package is as per the regular four-door. So you get the rather brilliant new digital screens to control most minor functions, fewer buttons than in the Mk1 and a great driving position.


The long-wheelbase model is a welcome addition to the Panamera range. It’s long been sports saloon of choice in this sector, and the latest Mk2 edition adds sweeter looks (the stretch doesn’t affect style, to these eyes) and lashings more practicality.

What’s not to like? Steep price aside, it gives the Porsche Panamera an even more rounded capability and gets the CAR seal of approval.

All our Porsche car reviews under one roof

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‘Project Cars 2′ game review: Start slow

As opposed to working up through the ranks, you’ll probably want to do what I did and jump right into the highest racing levels of “Project Cars 2” — IndyCar, WEC, RallyCross, or maybe you’ll just want to rip a LaFerrari around Circuit of the Americas.

That would be a mistake. This simulator, combined with my newly acquired Logitech G29 wheel and pedal setup, has so much more realism and sensitivity that I had to relearn how to control a (virtual) race car at speed. I ran into the same issue when I blew the dust off the first “Project Cars” after I got the new rig. Lift off the gas at the wrong time? Oversteer. Too much gas too early on corner exit? Oversteer. Too much turning input at entry? Loads of understeer.

“Project Cars 2” out Sept. 22 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and XboxOne, is a full racing simulation by Slightly Mad Studios — love the name — who also brought us “Need for Speed Shift” and “Shift 2,” as well as “Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends.”

The new game features 182 cars from 38 manufacturers, including Porsche (no Ruf), Ferrari and Lamborghini, and 46 tracks with 121 layouts total, including a few point-to-point drives in California, France and Germany. Legendary circuits like Road America, Sonoma, the Nurburgring and Circuit de la Sarthe, aka Le Mans, all make an appearance.

“PC2” features rally as a discipline for the first time. That means you can jump into a VW, Mini or Renault on famous RallyCross tracks around the world, or even practice at DirtFish rally school.

Project Cars 2 trailer

Like its predecessor, “PC2” is gorgeous and sounds unbelievable. The lighting, shadows and weather are perfectly rendered, and as soon as I sat in the Porsche Cayman GT4 and pulled out of the pits, I could hear the 3.8-liter flat-six blatting its grumbly exhaust note.

It’s harder to get the hang of than “Gran Turismo Sport,” but easier than “Dirt 4,” and as always, you’ll need a wheel controller to get the full effect either way. It also pays to spring for the good wheel with force feedback; all games are getting better and better with using it, and “PC2” might be the new king.

The curbing makes the wheel shake, as expected, but going off course is also met with a loose wheel in the gravel or grass; the kicker is during hard braking. You can press the left pedal hard, but once you hit lockup, it almost feels like the wheel moves forward and back, simulating that lockup/unlock feel one gets during a holy-crap-there’s-the-turn situation.

Everything difficulty- and control-related is adjustable. You can set the opponents’ aggression and skill level, as well as your own traction control, driving line access, brake and steering help, and restart availability.

Gran Turismo Sport video game driving simulator review

As for tuning, there’s more than anyone who’s not an engineer could ever need. Camber, caster, brake bias, gearing, aero and more can all be set up. Alternately, you can talk to your race engineer, who will ask you what the problem is. For example, “it’s not fast enough” or “it oversteers too much” — the game will tell you what needs to be changed. It’s an obvious and elegant solution to a problem that’s been around since the original “Gran Turismo.” Most of us aren’t engineers, so we don’t know how little aero tweaks or camber adjustments will affect the car’s balance.

I’m not quite ready to rank all of the new driving games. Within the past few months, a bevy have gone on sale, with “Forza 7” and the official “Gran Turismo Sport” release dates still to come. We’ll get a bunch more seat time in all of these simulators in the next few weeks and come back with a hard verdict after those next two juggernauts go on sale this and next month. Stay tuned.

Jake Lingeman

Jake Lingeman

– Jake Lingeman is Road Test Editor at Autoweek, reviewing cars, reporting on car news, car tech and the world at large.

See more by this author»

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Porsche Cayenne SUV (2017) first ride review

CAR experiences third-gen Cayenne
We ride shotgun in new SUV
Available to order now

If you’re after a posh or performance SUV, you’ve never had it so good. The booming posh-roader market has meant those with fat wallets and an image to maintain now have more brands to choose from than ever, so Porsche needs to up its game to stay afloat.

Typical Porsche Cayenne buyers not only have the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Volvo XC90 to tempt them away but the Range Rover Sport (or even the Velar), Bentley’s Bentayga and even the upcoming Lamborghini Urus, too. Bearing in mind that three of the Cayenne’s direct rivals are based on similar underpinnings (step forward Q7, Bentayga and Urus), Cayenne v3.0 needs to make sure it stands out from the pack.

We travelled to an ADAC test facility near Dusseldorf to have our first go in the latest Cayenne, albeit from the passenger seat. Here are our findings…

It’s still not a looker…

…and it doesn’t look hugely different from its predecessor, either. In fact, if you parked one alongside its forebear and looked at them from a dead-on front angle, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference. It’s only when you get to the rear that there are significantly noticeable changes, design-wise; the rear light bar graphic has been carried across from the Panamera and the 718 range, for example.

Porsche Cayenne 2017

Still, Porsche’s engineers assured us no panel is the same as its predecessor. It’s made from a mix of aluminium and steel like before, but the construction now has a much more aluminium-rich recipe to the tune of 47%.

Plus, Porsche claims that the hotter Turbo model is the first SUV with active aerodynamics, as not only do the vents in the grille move to better direct airflow but it has an active rear spoiler that can deploy at speed, or act as an airbrake.

Are there more changes under the skin?

Beneath the aluminium panels and not-so-different design lies the same basic VW Group ‘toolkit’ derived from the current Audi Q7 and Bentley Bentayga. Your new Cayenne comes with a 48-volt electrical system for suppressing body roll, can be fitted with rear-wheel steering and Porsche-specific three-chamber air suspension, and weight saving measures applied to every nook and cranny mean it’s 65kg lighter than before.

One of the most pertinent innovations in Porsche’s deck is a brand new brake option that makes its world debut on the new Cayenne. Called ‘Porsche Surface Coated Brake’, the new system comprises regular cast iron discs that have been coated in tungsten carbide, alongside beefy 10-piston calipers at the front and four-piston ones at the rear.

Porsche Cayenne 2017

Christoph Bittner says that the PSCB system has ‘all of the benefits of cast discs with the braking power of ceramics’, as the coated discs fade far slower than regular ones and make for ‘more reliable pedal feel’ when you’re hard at it. Another claimed benefit is an approximate 90% reduction in brake dust production, so Porsche specifically painted the calipers white to highlight how clean they would be even after hard use. They’re standard on Turbo models, or available as an option on Cayenne and Cayenne S for £2105 – around a third of the price of a set of ceramics.

Clever… how about inside?

Been inside the latest Panamera? It’s an incredibly similar dashboard layout, with a very clean design. Gone is the button-fest (to both celebratory cheers and grumbling derision, depending on who you talk to) and has instead been replaced by a massive 12.3-inch full HD infotainment display, haptic feedback touch buttons and more gloss black panelling than Alice Cooper’s Steinway piano.

So what were your findings?

We had the chance to ride in two different versions of the new Cayenne. The first was on road, in a hot V8 Turbo model, which has Porsche’s new Surface Coated Brakes as standard, while the second was a standard Cayenne S without the beefier brakes and on regular steel springs.

They were both pre-production development cars, so there was the disclaimer from our test drivers that some features were a little mismatched as to what will actually end up on the full production run. Plus, bear in mind our rides only consisted of around 10 minutes each.

Riding shotgun in the Turbo was all about on-road performance. We first set off in Normal mode for a sighting lap of the ADAC facility, and we found the ride was firm even on the track’s smooth surfaces but bumps were well damped, as if they had a rounder edge to them. Opening up the taps in Sport showed just how muscular the V8 felt even at five tenths and, to our ears, it sounds pretty evocative.

Sport Plus was where we spent most of our time on road and revealed the adaptive air suspension working hard to keep the car flat; there was very little roll and turn-in was sharp. The Turbo also had the Cayenne’s new rear-wheel steering system fitted, and it showed; there was a tactile sense that the hefty SUV was almost pivoting around the corner from a central point.

Porsche Cayenne 2017

Our Turbo driver, Thomas Reithmüller, also took full advantage of the facility’s skid pan to get the tail out quite considerably. In Sport Plus, the Cayenne allowed the rears to slip on the wet hairpin to produce a progressive slide, then engaged the fronts to pull the big Porsche out of trouble when the steering centred. Porsche calls its all-wheel drive gubbins a ‘hang-on’ system – apt.

We then hopped into a Cayenne S for our off-road gallivant, first using the gravel setting on the off-road submenu of the drive select system to traverse a shingle-strewn track, which the regular suspension mode handled without difficulty.

The next challenge consisted of two extremely steep rocky climbs. Switching into Rock mode unfortunately doesn’t start an Aerosmith concert but primes the suspension for sudden camber changes and properly aggressive terrain. The first steep hill was dealt with in minimal time and with minimal fuss from the all-wheel drive system, as the road tyres maintained their composure through up the rutted and steep terrain. It also gave our off-road test driver, Jochen Möchl, the chance to activate the hill descent control.

Porsche Cayenne 2017

The second incline was… less successful. The incline was similarly steep, but the crest of it was off camber and angled to the right. The same procedure was engaged, so our Cayenne girded its loins and progressively tackled the craggy track… right up to the crest. A wheel-consuming dip in the track brought our Cayenne to a juddering halt, and Jochen’s self-admitted heavy presses of the loud pedal only made our SUV crab backward.

If nothing else, it proves that Porsche’s go-anywhere utility vehicle can still be caught out; it doesn’t prove the Cayenne isn’t good off-road; instead it shows how much the driver still needs to exert their technique to get the most out of it when tackling the roughest terrain.


At face value and from the wrong side of the car, our brief demonstration showed that the Cayenne can still (mostly) tackle a light sprinkling of rough stuff, and that the Turbo feels like a bit of a weapon. But we’ll obviously have to drive it for ourselves to give you our definitive verdict – sorry.

Check out the rest of CAR’s Porsche reviews here

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Tencent Partners With Guangzhou Automobile Group To Break Into Automotive Industry

Tencent Holdings Ltd. has signed a strategic partnership agreement with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Ltd. to discuss possible cooperation in automobile e-commerce, automobile insurance and new energy vehicles, according to a statement issued by Guangzhou Automobile Group.

The agreement with Guangzhou Automobile Group, whose shares traded on Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges soared on the news, indicates Tencent’s intention to break into the broad automotive ecosystem in a more prominent way. The announcement came after Tencent bought a 5% stake of U.S. electric car maker Tesla Inc for roughly US$1.78 billion earlier this year.

Guangzhou Automobile has developed a supply chain covering research and development, whole vehicle and vehicle parts manufacturing, as well as business and financial services. The company also owns an automobile e-commerce platform called and an automobile insurance provider Urtrust Insurance Co, Ltd.

In 2015, Tencent partnered with Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd., also known as Foxconn Technology Group, to invest in EV start-up Future Mobility Corp., a company founded by Carsten Breitfeld, formerly vice president at BMW Group, and Daniel Kirchert, ex-managing director at Infiniti China. But Tencent and Foxconn withdrew from the investment later for reasons that have not been made public.

China’s two other Internet giants, Baidu and Alibaba, are also making strategic investments in the automobile market. The connected vehicles are expected to be the next important battle field for technology companies to compete on everything from operating systems, content distribution, entertainment, smart devices and more.

Baidu has said it plans to roll out a partially self-driving car by the second half of 2019 with its new partner, Chinese state-owned car maker Anhui Jianghuai Automobile (JAC). Baidu is also pushing to have more car makers utilize its Apollo autonomous driving platform.

In 2015, Alibaba and Chinese automaker SAIC Motor Corp Ltd. jointly developed an operating system for connected vehicles called YunOS for Car. The Roewe RX5, a compact SUV made by SAIC Motor was introduced as the first connected car powered by the YunOS in 2016.

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