Pumped-up Mercedes GLK prototype spied

Pumped-up Mercedes GLK prototype spied

Pumped-up Mercedes GLK prototype spied

Our spy shooters recently caught this early prototype of the next Mercedes-Benz GLK, and it appears that the boxy little crossover, well, isn’t. The very familiar two-box, upright design of the current model (that we all rather like, by the way) looks to be going away in favor of something that’s a bit more streamlined and fluid.

That’s probably just as well, since the new GLK is expected to grow in size in order to better separate it from the recently unveiled GLA-Class. And with a more curvaceous body, the larger dimensions of the next GLK will likely be better masked.

The next GLK will share its platform with the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and thus, powertrains will likely be shared between the two. That means gasoline, diesel, and possibly hybrid power will find its way to the GLK, a vehicle that is currently only available with a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 or a brand new 2.1-liter turbodiesel inline-four.

Mercedes will show the next C-Class at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show in January, with sales starting in August of next year. Look for the GLK to show its face sometime after that.

Nissan Qashqai gets the Juke R treatment

Nissan Qashqai gets the Juke R treatment

Nissan Qashqai gets the Juke R treatment

It would appear that we’re a little behind the times on this one, but a UK-based tuner of the Nissan GT-R is creating its own take on the lustworthy Juke-R starting with the Nissan Qashqai crossover. Severnvalley Motorsport claims to be the leading authority for tuning of the current GT-R in Europe. The outfit is now turning its attention to stuffing the drivetrain of a GT-R under the body of a Qashqai+2 – a seven-passenger compact crossover similar in size to our Nissan Rogue – resulting in the Qashqai-R.

The project started back in March when Severnvalley took delivery of a new Qashqai. After stripping the crossover down to its bare essentials and building a custom jig to support the body shell, it was then transferred onto an awaiting GT-R chassis. The crew aimed to keep Qashqai’s appearance as stock as possible, but fender extensions and hood vents were required to accommodate the sports car underpinnings.

The white Qashqai-R seen above will be tuned to produce 900 horsepower, while a black version will get bumped up to 1,000 hp. And, looking at the build photos, we surmise that this project will take nothing less than a herculean feat of supercar determination before it’s through.

Boy Wonder of Supercar Sales talks Lamborghini

Boy Wonder of Supercar Sales talks Lamborghini

Boy Wonder of Supercar Sales talks Lamborghini

 

Brett David has a pretty darn good life. At 26 years old, he’s the CEO of Prestige Imports in Miami, which puts him at the wheel of the largest Lamborghini dealership in the US. Prestige also happens to have moved more Audis than any other dealer in three years.

CNBC’s Squawk Box had him on for a sitdown in a segment it called “Secret Lives of the Super Rich,” where the network highlighted the burgeoning demand for Lamborghinis. Besides talking about the recession-proof Lambo market and his new-age clientele, David explained how he sold his first Lamborghini. At 17. To Missy Elliot.

Fiat-based baby Jeep spotted testing in US and Europe

Fiat-based baby Jeep spotted testing in US and Europe

Fiat-based baby Jeep spotted testing in US and Europe

Details remain scarce, but our spy photographers have managed to capture the upcoming Jeep B-segment crossover for the first time, testing in both the Alps and in the US. Shown here as a cobbled-together Fiat 500L mule, the new Jeep model is expected to arrive for the 2015 model year and act as a replacement for the current Compass and Patriot models.

According to our shooter, the new “baby Jeep” will share a platform with the Fiat 500X, and both models will be built on the same assembly line in Turin, Italy. We can’t tell much from these images, but the added length apparent on this 500L mule would seem to dispel the recent speculation that the new entry-level Jeep model would be sized closer to the Ford Fiesta – since the 500L is already considerably larger than the Fiesta. Powertrain options will likely mirror other Fiat/Chrysler collaborative vehicles like the Dodge Dart, but this Jeep will also try to live up to its off-road roots with an optional all-wheel-drive system.

Two out of five Chevy Corvette Stingray owners going manual

Two out of five Chevy Corvette Stingray owners going manual

Two out of five Chevy Corvette Stingray owners going manual

Chevrolet began delivering its Corvette Stingray in earnest last month, and some interesting early trends are developing. Unsurprisingly, Chevy spokesman Monte Doran tells Autoblog that essentially 100-percent of all early customer orders have been placed by the Corvette faithful – that is, buyers that already have another Crossed Flags keychain in their pockets.

Given that the early adopters are disproportionately enthusiast buyers (even among sports car enthusiasts), it’s no surprise that the cars being ordered have a high option count. Some 38 percent of Corvettes built so far have been equipped with the brand-new, 7-speed manual gearbox. That may sound like a low percentage to the uninitiated, but it’s actually the highest three-pedal percentage of any car in General Motors’ stable – well above the company’s low-30s estimate for the Camaro, for instance.

In addition, 75 percent of all orders thus far have specified the Z51 Performance Package, which includes features like dry-sump lubrication, electronic limited-slip differential, auxiliary coolers for the brakes, transmission and differential, along with larger brakes and some additional touches. Of those Z51 buyers, 54 percent have also selected the company’s excellent optional magnetic ride suspension system.

GM expects for the high option levels of new Corvette orders to taper off as hardcore enthusiasts get their cars, and it also expects for the percentage of manual transmission orders to shrink over time, with more people selecting the six-speed paddle-shift automatic. Doran notes, “As the first orders get out of the system and it starts settling down, what you’ll see is that the take rates on the performance options will go down and stabilize.” Doran cites the launch of the fifth-generation Camaro as an example, wherein a disproportionate number of early orders were equipped with V8 engines and high option counts.