Ford Bronco’s 7-speed manual might be even weirder than you think – Roadshow

Throw in some proper wheel articulation, and you've got quite the rock-crawlin' stew a-cookin'.

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The idea of a seven-speed manual transmission might have been odd a decade ago, but it's been subsequently normalized through its installation in big-name vehicles like the Porsche 911, the Chevrolet Corvette and… OK, maybe just those two. You may have heard a rumor that a seven-speed will turn up in the new Ford Bronco, too, but if a new report is true, it won't be anything like the 7MTs in those other cars.

According to a report from TFLCar, the forthcoming Ford Bronco will contain a seven-speed manual transmission with a "crawler" gear. Without diving into too much detail about angular velocity ratios, let's just define a crawler gear as a first gear designed foremost with low-speed, high-torque applications in mind -- slowly traversing rocky areas being a solid example. It allows a vehicle to move very slowly while producing loads of torque, above and beyond the first gear that you'd find in your average passenger car. That's the long and short of it.

That would give the Bronco some serious off-road capability without demanding a two-speed transfer case or other hard-core hardware designed without a beaten path in mind. Of course, Ford could further bolster its rock-crawling cred by also adding the two-speed 'box, and considering all we have to go on at this time are reports and speculation, the possibility exists that Ford could do both.

While TFLCar's report is the first time we've heard a source mention a crawler gear, it's not the first time it's been mentioned at all. While the 7MT rumors started all the way back in 2018, Hagerty wrote a post in March that dove deep into the available figures for Getrag's new seven-speed manual, and as a result, the outlet posited that the Bronco's potential first gear could potentially have a crawl ratio somewhere between the current and previous generations of Wrangler Rubicon, which would make it plenty potent off-road.

Possible leaks like this can only be truly confirmed by the automaker itself, but I wouldn't count on that happening, at least not today. OEMs, including Ford, routinely decline to discuss future products until the unveiling has taken place, and Ford didn't immediately return a request for comment. For now, all we have is yet another cool little tidbit that could get people even more excited for the Bronco's eventual unveiling -- whenever that happens; it was originally believed to be happening this spring, but now that summer's here, who knows.

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Hyundai and Sony’s new deal could see Spider-Man in a Santa Fe – Roadshow

Peter Parker seems more like a mid-engine-Veloster kind of guy, or maybe I'm just projecting.

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Automaker partnerships with the movie industry are nothing new, the Marvel Cinematic Universe being one of the most obvious in recent memory. It's a simple formula: Take a blockbuster movie, throw in an actual brand or two and hope that results in boosted sales. Hyundai's about to take a big bet along these lines, putting itself into cahoots with a studio that has some big flicks on the horizon.

Hyundai announced this week that it has inked a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment that will put the Korean automaker's products and technologies into a number of upcoming Sony pictures. According to the release, Hyundai's IP will make its way into five different forthcoming movies, including the follow-ups to Spider-Man: Far From Home and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The former is scheduled to release in late 2021, with the latter arriving in late 2022. Other collaborations will be announced at a later date, Hyundai said.

While it's entirely possible my headline could come true, that's likely not the direction Hyundai will take. By the sounds of its press release, it appears this partnership goes well beyond hawking crossovers. The release makes mention of all sorts of things, including "a wide range of opportunities to leverage Sony Pictures IP for marketing content and immersive entertainment, collaborate on infrastructure and vehicular concepts for Sony Pictures movies, co-create virtual reality and gaming experiences, and co-produce events, among other opportunities."

It sounds like there will be a big focus on more futuristic technologies that are often relegated to small-scale models on display stands at trade shows. The release specifically mentions "future mobility," and Hyundai's got plenty to show off to that end. At this year's CESHyundai brought a whole-ass flying car to the show, bolstered by a concept it called "the Hub," a sort of proto-community space centered around using new methods of transportation to get across crowded cities. That's the kind of pie-in-the-sky stuff that'll fit right in alongside the whiz-bang CG of a modern Spider-Man movie.

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2021 Mercedes E-Class steering wheel will know a lot about your hands – CNET

That's one dramatically styled steering wheel.

Mercedes-Benz

We're a couple months past the debut of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan, and we have just a few more days before the debut of the refreshed E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet. To help bridge that gap, the automaker is dishing a few more details on one seriously upgraded component in the E-Class lineup.

Keen eyes might have noticed a fancy new steering wheel in some of the pictures that arrived for the reveal of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan. But there's not just one; there are actually two new designs, one with single-piece side spokes and one with layered double spokes on either side, the latter of which should be exclusive to AMG Line and AMG vehicles.

Both new wheel designs contain buttons, which is nothing new, but they're not actually buttons. Rather, each spoke carries an array of capacitive sensors that tracks where your finger lands. So not only can you tap each symbol on the wheel and get a response, you'll be able to use motions like swiping for additional features, like changing tracks or menus. Current E-Class wheels, by comparison, have two small touch-capable pads on the spokes.

Mercedes-Benz claims the switches on the wheel can handle temperatures above the boiling point of water, so they should work perfectly fine after the car's been sitting in the sun for some time. You know, just in case you were worried about that. You were worried about the thermal hardiness of your steering wheel switches, right?

The steering wheel's trickery doesn't end there. Back in the old days (which are still ongoing, considering the new E-Class isn't on sale yet), when the car's driver-assistance systems yelled at you to have your hands on the wheel, you had to give it a bit of a wiggle to let the torque sensors know your hands are where they're supposed to be. That won't be an issue any longer, as each side of the wheel also carries capacitive sensors, so a firm grip is all that's necessary to keep the electro-nannies from blaring in your face. If you're a rebel and ignore the system's gripes, it'll activate a system that just pulls the car over. Good luck trying to fool it with a stupid lump of plastic.

The automaker didn't pick this week to unveil these details just because it looked good on a calendar. Instead, Mercedes-Benz is preparing to debut the refreshed 2021 E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet, which will likely carry many of the same tweaks as the sedan, like updated fasciae and the introduction of MBUX, the automaker's latest and greatest infotainment system. Both these variants will be introduced to the world on May 27 at 5 a.m. PT in a digital world premiere on M-B's website.

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Kia Stinger’s future could be electric after an upcoming refresh – CNET

It's hard to believe the Stinger has been out for a couple of years now.

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The Kia Stinger is a lovely hatchback with some darn decent performance chops. Its grand-touring nature makes it great for long slogs to nowhere in particular, and you'll have a hoot in the process. But while it's certain that the Stinger makes for a good time, its future is a little less certain as Kia's priorities evolve and as buyers' tastes do the same. Thankfully, it appears Kia isn't ready to label the Stinger as a one-off kind of proposition.

Like nearly every other car that exists these days, the Kia Stinger will receive a midcycle refresh, according to a new Top Gear interview with Karim Habib, the automaker's head of design. "We just wanted to strengthen a few things," Habib told TG, and specifically mentioned the lighting, which means new headlights (or different internals) are likely on order. As with other midcycle refreshes, it wouldn't be obscene to assume some visual nips and tucks in addition to maybe a new feature or two, but it's unlikely Kia will go too crazy in the process.

This is the first time that we've heard confirmation of the Stinger's pending face-lift, but it's not the first we've heard about it altogether. In April, a report from Australia claimed that the Stinger refresh will include a bump in power, although it's unclear if that includes both the base 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 and the 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6. Then again, there's also a rumor that the 2.0-liter might fall by the wayside in favor of a fresher, 2.5-liter design that will also see duty in the updated Kia Optima.

But what of the Stinger's future beyond this mild series of tweaks? Well, it's anyone's guess at this point, but Habib's optimistic that the Stinger laid the groundwork for future Kia vehicles, whether they carry the same badge or not. "I definitely hope that the spirit of the Stinger stays at the core of what Kia is as we change as a brand," Habib told Top Gear. "As the technology goes toward EVs and as the world and its appetite for these kinds of cars changes, the concept probably has to evolve as well … But the sporty, affordable, beautiful sculpture -- I really believe that's something that needs to live on in the brand."

For those of you hoping for an electric Stinger, the timing is in your favor at the very least. Kia announced earlier this year that it intends to release 11 electric cars by 2025, the first of which should be arriving next year. While the OEM hasn't explicitly said which vehicles will be included, it's not crazy to imagine some of these being electric variants of its current lineup (like the Soul EV or Niro EV), while others can be stand-alone models, and you bet your bottom dollar there'll be some crossovers in the mix, too. The company has mentioned a planned $25 billion investment to make this happen, so let's hope there's some wiggle room for something that's more exciting than the rest.

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2015 Toyota Sienna offers all-wheel drive and lots of space – CNET

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It might not be the most fuel efficient van on the market, but it's well equipped, and its used-car value makes it hard to beat.
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2020 Honda Civic Type R went through the knife sharpener – CNET

In the 2020 refresh, Honda enlarged the grille to let more air across an improved radiator for better cooling in high-performance situations, but that had the downside of reducing downforce, so the automaker also adjusted the front spoiler to make up for that.

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2021 Porsche 911 Targa debut has us flipping our lids, too – CNET

When is a convertible not a convertible? When it's a 911 Targa, duh.

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Porsche loves the slow burn. Even though the 992-generation 911 has been out and about for some time, the automaker didn't immediately introduce every single possible variant that will exist for the remainder of the generation's life. Instead, it's trickled out new models here and there, and today, it's time for the Targa to take the spotlight.

On Sunday, Porsche unveiled the 992-generation 911 Targa. The car's electronically operated roof panel can retract or deploy in about 19 seconds using a button in the cabin. Like Targa models of yore, the 2021 911 Targa retains the support bar that spans the width of the car, looking not all that different from the outgoing Targa model. Otherwise, the 992 Targa picks up the same exterior updates as the rest of today's 911 lineup, including revised front and rear ends with sharper lighting elements. The interior keeps it in the family, too, adopting the latest layout that goes heavy on the screens while still offering plenty of materials that owners can customize in various ways.

Two 911 Targa variants will be offered. The "regular" Targa 4 will utilize a 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged flat-six gas engine producing 379 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque. The Targa 4S will be a bit meatier, with the same engine producing 443 hp and 390 lb-ft, improvements of 23 and 22 (respectively) over the previous generation. A seven-speed manual transmission is available on the Targa 4S for a little more driver involvement, with the de facto cog-swapper being Porsche's excellent PDK dual-clutch automatic. The Targa 4 is expected to reach 60 mph in just 4.0 seconds, with the 4S dropping that time to 3.4 seconds -- with the optional Sport Chrono Pack, natch.

Of course, there's more to the car than just a peppier flat-six. The 911 Targa gets Porsche's PASM two-mode adaptive dampers are standard, and the 4S also gets a standard electronic limited-slip rear differential (optional on Targa 4). Porsche's new Wet Mode, which uses sensors to detect the presence of water on the road, is also included. 330-millimeter brakes are standard on the Targa 4, growing to 350 mm on the Targa 4S, and as always, Porsche's ceramic-composite brake system is available for a hefty upcharge.

The 2021 Porsche 911 Targa is slated to hit dealerships in late 2020, but order books are now open for eager Porschephiles. Prepare to pay the piper, though: The 2021 Targa 4 starts at $120,650 including destination, while the Targa 4S commands a lofty $136,550. 

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Hertz seeking to avoid bankruptcy after missing lease payment, report says – CNET

No travel, no rentals.

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Quarantines and other recent coronavirus measures have decimated travel, both globally and domestically. Of course, this has a ripple effect on tangential industries, as well, like car rentals. As developments continue, one report claims that a car-rental giant might be facing some big financial issues.

Hertz has failed to make a lease payment and is exploring a possible bankruptcy, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing sources familiar with the matter. In a statement to Roadshow, Hertz confirmed its financial situation: "We are reducing expenses, deferring capital expenditures, and adjusting fleet levels and staffing based on the significant decline in travel demand," said a Hertz spokesperson via email. "Importantly, conversations with our lenders are ongoing and we remain in discussions with the US Treasury for support."

Money is at the heart of the matter, obviously. With fewer travelers and, thus, fewer car rentals, companies like Hertz are left staring down bills for fixed costs like vehicle payments. The WSJ's report claims that Hertz is currently working with its biggest lenders and "certain holders of its vehicle finance subsidiary's notes" to slow down payments while the company adjusts to the current market. According to a statement Hertz provided the WSJ, however, it has not yet received the support for a payment waiver.

According to the WSJ report, Hertz is currently holding $17 billion in debt, an overwhelming majority of which is attributed to car notes on its rental fleet. Hertz, like competitors such as Enterprise, have laid off staff and tried to get the money together to continue operating during these lean times.

Hertz is still under a payment grace period, which ends May 4, at which point the company may need to take other measures.

First published on April 29.  

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2016 Dodge driver racks up 180-mph speeding ticket on Michigan freeway – CNET

It's a miracle nobody got hurt.

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The stretch of I-75 around Sigler Road in Michigan, between Detroit and the Ohio state line, is one of the straightest segments of highway in that area. That doesn't mean it should be used as a testing ground for land-speed records, but one dingus sure didn't heed that advice, and they racked up one major speeding ticket in the process.

Michigan State Police this week posted a serious speeding ticket on its Twitter account. The tweet, which has since been deleted to protect the driver's identity, showed that this individual was cited on April 19 for going 180 miles per hour in a 70-mph zone at 11:45 p.m. local time. That's 110 mph over the speed limit, or 2.6 times what Johnny Law would prefer. MSP usually let you get away with 80, which is the average flow of traffic in Southeast Michigan, but 180 isn't really within error tolerances.

According to MLive, which caught up with the Michigan State Police following this extraordinary traffic stop, the driver did comply and pull over, thanks to multiple troopers posted ahead of the officer who first noticed the serious speeder. It's unclear whether the driver was simply cited and told to appear in court or if more serious measures, like impounding the vehicle, were taken. The Michigan State Police did not immediately return a request for comment.

With quarantine orders keeping most people in their homes, some car enthusiasts have taken the lack of traffic as a sort of green light to hit the road and perhaps engage in more extralegal activity than usual. It's worth noting that there have been some dips in reported crimes during this period, which means there will be more idle police officers hanging out, if anything. In fact, as a Detroiter myself, I've seen plenty of MSP dutifully patrolling the area. Save it for the drag strips -- when they open back up. In the meantime, drive safely, the last thing first responders need is more unnecessary crap to deal with.

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2020 BMW M8 Competition is a proper performer – CNET

While the 8 Series is technically considered a grand tourer, the 2020 M8 Competition leans hard on the last part of its name, making many GT-flavored cuts in order to squeeze out every inch of performance.

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