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WITH unique styling plus a lively engine, the new Alfa Romeo MiTo makes a play for younger buyers a new comer to the Alfa brand.

But will they care about the dynamic shortfalls of your Fiat Punto-based platform and questionable Italian ergonomics, or will they fall in love with the spirit of La Dolce Vita, meaning 'the sweet life'?

Alfa Romeo estimates that enough Australians will fall for the three-door hatch to account for one-third of all its sales next year, which explains the big MiTo advertising campaign launched in front of its release.

My favorite time of year is right around the corner. I love thanksgiving because it’s both my favorite holiday of the year, and the gateway to holiday season. It’s a time of family and celebration and endless eating and it’s the time of year that you tell the people in your life how much they mean to you. For me, that means meditating on what I should get my wife. As my partner in everything I do, her happiness translates to my happiness and visa versa, so I try to put a lot of thought into what to get her. That also makes this happy time of year a bit stressful as I try to pick out exciting Christmas gifts.

A Car

I already know what I’m going to get her this year. She’s been driving around a 1998 Sentra since, well, 1998 and this year I promised myself that I’d give her an upgrade. She loves that car, but I have no doubt that she’ll love her new car even more. After hours of research and considerable thought, I’ve decided to get her the new Nissan Leaf.

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She and I are both loyal to Nissan because their cars and trucks are superior in performance, safety and design. In high school, I had a Nissan 300ZX and I was certainly all the rage.

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I miss that car. But I digress. I chose the Leaf because it’s entirely electric. It uses no gas! That means we save a lot of money while at the same time contributing to a cleaner environment. If you or your sweetheart is in the market for a new car this holiday season, and if the environment is a priority for you, you really can’t do better than to take one of these for a test drive. If you’re interested, go online to either Nissan Los Angeles or Downtown Nissan and see for yourself.

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My wife and I are two of the busiest people I’ve ever known or hope to. We both work upwards of twelve hours each day, sometimes significantly more. The holiday season is the only time that we can both count on having some time to getaway, so I booked ourselves a reservation for a nice hotel on Catalina Island. It’s just a short ferry boat ride away from San Pedro and it offers the sense of real travel while only being an hour and a half away. There are delightfully quaint restaurants to bond at and sailing and fishing to take up the days. Remember though, during the holiday season, it can get a little bit colder. After all, it is an island. So this holiday season, think of ways to bond with your wife.

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THE new Volkswagen Golf GTI has big shoes to fill, because its MK6 predecessor set the standard for all other circa-$40k five-door hot hatches when it launched in 2009.

Understandably, VW has not messed with the winning formula, using this new Mk7 offering evolutionary styling inside and out, and similar characteristics from behind the wheel - and that is the best thing.

That said, this really is no mere evolutionary product underneath, with a brand new MQB platform, a new EA888 turbo engine as well as a new progressive steering system leading the way.

The GTI, as before, offers something that more hard-edged rivals do not: it can be as comfortable doddling around town as it is on twisting mountain roads.

It is actually still no fire-breathing beast like a Renault Sport Megane 265 - that brief is filled by the $50k Golf R - but it is no doubt the nicest to live with day in, day out.

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Hello, and welcome to another great segment of Gearheads.org. Where in this episode we will look into a few trucks that have been dropped in our laps, and their owners are expecting us to nibble on them up like Mickey. Here we go.

Gearheads.org So, you may already know about how Ford announced their latest and greatest version of the award winning F-150, and the way it proposes to make wanting a new Ford truck even harder to resist, right? Well, it seems like the Ford guys had some extra time on their own hands, and mulled around the idea of dropping a diesel into their tried, and true F-150. As it stands, this wouldn’t have already been the first time the strength techs at Ford contemplated a diesel, but the recession put the kiebasch on that deal. Now here we have been in 2014, and a moderately powered diesel wouldn’t be such a bad idea, especially with it being placed in one of those hard faced F-150's. I mean, why not throw a diesel in a F-150? It already has one of the better engines from the game, and some of the best mileage numbers around. Throwing a diesel motor into the mix would only improve things, and besides there’s another player thinking the same thing.

Now our next player within the Modified Truck game may be the Gm Reaper, and the specs on this truck are as follows: The ability is provided by way of a Ligenfelter Performance V8, that’s connected to a Magnuson TSV1900 Supercharger, which makes 550Hp. Ground control comes by mean of a Fox Racing suspension setup. (The same as the Raptor’s) Other goodies that could be found attached to GM’s Reaper, are 17 inch bead-lock wheels which are wrapped in 33 inch tall off-road tires, a visible skid plate, aftermarket high clearance bumpers, LED lighting, and a Corsa exhaust system. Now let’s look at this Reaper for a minute. Is it me, or does anyone else assume that this GM Reaper has a ghost of your chance of taking out the Raptor? So it took GM a little over 5 years to come up with a truck that might remotely come near to driving like the Raptor. A minimum of the Reaper’s weird looking, bulging front fascia, may help keep buyers guessing on whether they should spend the $50,000 to $65,000 dollars on one of these brilliant trucks. Let me end using this, the GM Reaper is a truck which had been made to help GM feel happier about losing the ongoing struggle in the “Modified Truck” race.

Toyota-Tacoma_TRD_Pro_Series_2015 Our third contender comes from the business that “Pulled the Space Shuttle” quite some time ago, and apparently, they’re still patting themselves on the back for that event of sorts. Toyota, makers of the Camry, the Corolla, and the CPU that hurdles your car forward without your permission have finally chose to join the Modified Truck Game. It feels like the Toyota Racing Department. Alternatively, TRD for short wanted in of what Ford is enjoying over the past few years. That would be the sweet taste of victory my girlfriends. Be that as it may, Toyota put their racing development squad into action, and locked them in a room until they produced something promising, or at least worth talking about. Then end result is, the 2015 TRD Pro Series trucks, and off-roaders. It sounds a little bit corny, but whatcha gonna do? Here’s the reduced down. Toyota inducted these three of their vehicles into the fray by giving them a slight boost in the suspension, and looks departments. So, basically they made them a little more fascinating to the average buyer. Oh, anyway, I’m not mistaken once i said all three. The FJ Cruiser will never be a part of the Toyota line-up by year’s end. Go here for the story. Any who, the Pro Series gives these Japanese upstarts some TRD labeled Bilstein shocks that add between 1 to 2 inches of travel all around. “Yeah! ” There’s some shiny new skid plates, newer and more effective wheels, and off road tire packages, a new low pressure, cat-back exhaust, and wrapping it all up are some nifty, and cool looking TRD badges, and logos that are scattered about the vehicles, to add a certain amount of flair. Toyota is looking to capitalize on the absence of competition for that Ford Raptor, although there hasn’t been any hardcore announcements on pricing as of yet. If anyone features a fair chance at doing something worth mentioning, it would be these guys, though i’m not saying that this new Pro Series is going to undertake it. I mean, they did pull a 165,000 pound space shuttle hull around as a promotional gig right?

So, I’m likely to sign off now, and as always LIKE us Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, and leave your comments below. Have fun, be secure, keep it in between the rails, and most importantly, Thanks For Reading.

Driving when you are extremely tired is extremely dangerous – some experts say that it is every bit as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. That doesn’t stop thousands of people every day from setting off on a long distance road trip. Whether it’s for business or for pleasure a long road trip may start out as a fabulous adventure but pretty soon it can be quite boring.

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The first rule is, of course, to stay safe. If you really do feel that you are so tired that you can’t keep your eyes open a moment longer then pull over and take a nap – there really is no shame and it’s more important to arrive safely at your destination than to risk driving when you’re sleepy and not making it at all.

Here are a few more things you can do to ward off that inevitable snooze feeling:

• Drink coffee, and lots of it. It’s been doing the trick for decades and is probably responsible for keeping millions of drivers awake across the years. The darker, blacker and stronger the better – proper gas station style.

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• If you have a travelling companion talk to them . . . and make them talk back. It sounds obvious doesn’t it but it’s surprising how many passengers gently drift away into the land of nod and the drivers let them. Okay, so it might make you tired sitting in a car for periods of time but you do have a job to do – keeping the driver awake. It doesn’t matter what you talk about – the latest episode of your favorite sit com, the ever increasing price of car insurance or the terrific motor your Mom just bought from Ford Redlands - just keep talking.

• Make sure that you stop plenty of times, even if it’s just for a few minutes. It gives you the opportunity to get out of the car, stretch your legs, take a coffee or even grab a 15 minute power nap. These regular breaks really can help to keep you awake for another 100 miles or so.

• Keep on munching, even if you’re not really hungry, the act of eating is enough to keep you busy and, more importantly awake. The more things you have to do to enjoy your snack the better (just so long as you can drive safely) – sunflower seeds are brilliant, there’s an awful lot of messing about just to enjoy a small, albeit extremely tasty seed. Sour sucking candy or even extra sour apples are good too – not only do they awaken your taste-buds but they awaken your whole body.

• Keep the temperature nice and cool to stop you from falling asleep and if it really is cold outside then don’t be afraid to wind down the windows for a minute or two every few miles to give yourself a refreshing blast of cool fresh air. Anything which shakes you up and wakes you up for a few minutes can help you to keep going that little bit longer.

• Pump up the volume on the radio – play something loud and sing-a-long with it. Don’t be tempted to play your favorite relaxing ballads because that’s just asking for trouble. Some people like to listen to audio-books on road trips which are another really good idea too.

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It really can be tremendous fun to go on a road trip but driving for long hours can take its toll so remember these tips. Pop into Fairview Ford and check out the great deals they’ve got for your next road trip.

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Turn left. Now, turn right. Ever wonder how your steering system works? Naw, most people don’t care, as long as they get to work on time. However you, you really want to learn. On older cars, the machine is surprisingly clunky along with a little dysfunctional in terms of design. On newer cars, it’s practically “invisible.” Here’s how it all works so that you can get to work, or home, or to your kid’s baseball game.

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Mechanical Steering

Nearly all cars on the road today have a mechanical steering system, where a linkage runs from the controls down to a steering rack, and then to the wheels. Once you turn the steering wheel, it turns the vehicle one way. Whenever you turn the steering wheel another way, the car responds. It’s like magic, except it’s not.

It operates on very old and sound engineering principles. However, the device itself is clunky. There’s a whole lot that can go awry, and often does, on older vehicles. “Slop” in the controls can be brought on by failing rubber bushings inside the steering system, and the actual steering column has the potential to impale the motorist in a head-on collision, at the very least theoretically.

There’s also the problem of steering ratio. The steering ratio, in simple terms, determines how many turns of the wheel are required to buy it to “lock.” You’ve probably heard the term “lock to lock.” It also determines the “twitchiness” in the steering within the vehicle.

With a mechanical steering system, you obtain one ratio. You have to design around that ratio. It’s likely to have twitchy steering if it’s a sports car. Twitchy steering is simply going to be annoying - especially on the highway if it’s a minivan.

Steer-By-Wire Systems

Infiniti Steer-by-Wire system

Steer-by-wire systems are like throttle-by-wire systems for the reason that the mechanical linkage between your steering wheel along with the actual gear down by the wheels is taken off. Instead, the steering column connects to sensors that then feed information to some computer about where you need to go. There’s a clutch that will reconnect you to the steering gear for manual control if there’s ever a catastrophic failure from the system. Very clever.

It does open up the possibility for electronic add-on systems that may, though that doesn’t necessarily make the steering inherently safer in any way. In addition, it gives the driver precise control over how the car is moved. Steering ratios are also a moot point as they can be electronically adjusted and controlled now.

So, if you’re feeling a little ambitious on a back country road, you can switch on a “sport mode” and also have at it. On the highway, you are able to switch straight back to lazy driver mode which means you don’t have to bother about the vehicle responding to 1cm of movement.

The New Magic

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It’s no longer an evaluation of Q50 vs G37 when it comes to handling anymore. The newest Q50, by way of example, comes using these new-fangled electronic steering units, and potentially 500 horsepower.

So, going forward, expect to see those horsepower and torque numbers rise as manufacturers learn how to give you better control over your car, and make it safer that you should zoom around. It means more choice, faster vehicles, more pulling power, more towing capacity, and potentially safer steering systems. Who wouldn’t want that?

Infiniti Q50 Rear View

Robert Navarro is an enthusiastic car connoisseur. After years of research and tracking innovations and trends, he greatly enjoys blogging about all things cars.

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BMW will test the ActiveE, its second non-production electric car, in New York metropolitan area (including New and Connecticut Jersey), Los Angeles (including San Diego, Ca), Northern California (greater San Francisco and Sacramento) and the Boston area in mid-2011.

The four-passenger ActiveE will depend on the 1 Series Coupe and has a 32-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Introduced with the Detroit auto show in January, the ActiveE has a 100-mile range per charge. It takes 8.5 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour and has a maximum speed 90 mph.

BMW’s Mini E, its debut electric vehicle, was deployed worldwide and today including over 600 test cars within its second year. The ActiveE is scheduled for testing only in america.

Finding the perfect motor for yourself and your family is an important decision which should not be taken too quickly or too lightly. There are so many different sizes, styles and types of motor to choose from these days – at Nissan Montclair for example they have a great selection of new and used motors with everything from Sedans to Hatchbacks to Station wagons to SUV’s to Sports cars – but which is right for you?

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Try to take a test drive on a familiar route so that you don’t have to worry too much about an unfamiliar route or finding your way around and can really concentrate on the actual motor. If you have small children it’s probably not such a good idea to take them with you – far too distracting – but it is a great idea to take their car seat or booster cushions with you to make sure that they can fit snuggly and safely.
Before you even start out on a test ride you’ve got to make sure that there’s enough storage or trunk space to fit in everything you need on a daily basis. A family car must be able to transport not just the family but also the stroller, bicycles, travel accessories and other items which are a regular part of the paraphernalia you take on your family outings. You should also check out the available storage space in the actual interior of the car – if there is not enough storage space the interior of the car will soon resemble a garbage dump.

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Try to think ahead a little too – if you are a new Mom then remember that your tiny, light baby will soon grow into a heavier, wriggling toddler so make sure that there is good access in and out of the car and that you won’t have to bend down too far. Look about how wide the doors open so how much accessibility there really is. Trying to maneuver a heavy toddler through a small doorway and into a low seat can result in a bad back. Thinking ahead a couple of years and you could have a toddler and another new baby with all of the paraphernalia which that entails.
Make sure that you are comfortable behind the wheel of the car – some cars just seem to “fit” a driver and in others, no matter how much you adjust the seats, the seat belts and the rear view mirror you can never really get comfortable. You need to be able to reach all of the controls quickly and easily and see out in all directions whilst you are driving for maximum safety.
The interior of your car is important – not only are some interior fabrics and materials easier to keep clean (which is nice for you) they also retain their “newness” which makes them easier to sell on when you’ve outgrown your motor or feel that it’s time for a change. Leather seats are easy to clean which can be a godsend if you have a messy toddler in the back of your car. You might want to invest in a set of washable car seat covers which is a double whammy – for one thing they are easy to take off and wash as necessary and for another thing they protect the original car seats keeping them looking as good as new for when you come to re-sell the vehicle.

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Metro Nissan Redlands has a wide selection of motors and are happy to give you every consideration to ensure that you get the right vehicle which is perfect for your needs both now and in the future.

Mercedes-Benz is staging the globe premier of a Sprinter E-CELL battery-electric van at the 2012 International Motor Show (IAA) for commercial vehicles. The prototype of the Sprinter E-CELL at the IAA is a chassis version with driver’s cab and the middle wheelbase of 3665 mm. The premiere at the IAA will function as a test of customer reactions before a determination is made about possible series production.

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Mercedes-Benz used the expertise gained through the small van Vito E-CELL (earlier post) for the creation of the large van Sprinter E-CELL. After beginning deliveries two years ago, approximately 500 Vito E-CELL vehicles are now already in use; the electric van is already available in more than fifteen European countries. The recent introduction of the Vito E-CELL crewbus, which has space to seat seven, increased the vehicle’s potential fields of operation.

The Sprinter E-CELL multiplies the possibilities for electric transport, because it is just as suited to use as a chassis cab as it is for use along with attachment bodies. This is of particular importance to spacious delivery vans for supplying inner cities, pedestrian precincts, or towns with restricted vehicle access, Mercedes-Benz notes. The Sprinter E-CELL is equally suited to use as a drop-side body with double cab for use in landscape gardening within green zones.

The technology of the Sprinter E-CELL is comparable to that of the Vito E-CELL. It had to be adapted to the specific characteristics of the weight class as well as to a completely different chassis with rear-wheel drive, however.

The permanent magnet synchronous motor in the Sprinter E-CELL can reach a constant output of 70 kW (short-term peak output of 100 kW); torque is 220 Nm (162 lb-ft) torque (short-term 270 Nm / 199 lb-ft). The Sprinter E-CELL is powered by two lithium-ion battery packs, each with 93 cells and a combined capacity of 35.2 kWh.

The charger in the Sprinter E-CELL supplies 22 kW with a current of 32 amps. When attached to a 400-volt power source, the batteries may be charged in just two hours. This considerably extends the possible areas of use of the Sprinter E-CELL, since it does not require time-consuming overnight charging. Battery charging socket is on the driver’s side, at the bottom of your B pillar instead of the usual tank filler neck.

The developers of your Sprinter E-CELL have made consumption of synergies within the company: for instance, in the Sprinter E-CELL the batteries from the smart electric drive are utilized.

The top speed of the Sprinter E-CELL has limitations to 80 km/h (50 mph) in favour of an extended range. This means it is not only suited to inner city areas but can also be used for inter-city journeys or short motorway stretches. Its preferred area of use, however, is inner cities and towns. The range was made with this in mind.

With an NEDC energy consumption of 27 kW/h, the range is approximately 135 km (84 miles). This can be sufficient for almost all uses, as customer tests with the Vito E-CELL have indicated. Daily journeys of up to around 100 km (62 miles), as are most typical in short-radius distribution, the trades and the service sector, can be completed risk-free by the Sprinter E-CELL.

Neither the luggage compartment of your closed Sprinter nor its good body-mounting ability are impaired, as being the batteries are located in containers between the axles and underneath the frame. Having a maximum permissible gross vehicle weight of three.5 tonnes, the payload of the Sprinter E-CELL may be up to 1200 kg, according to the body. Ground angle and clearance of approach are not restricted.

The Sprinter E-CELL, just like any other Sprinter, will be fitted with the newest generation in the ESP Electronic Stability Program with all its functions. Furthermore there is a high level of protection of the high-voltage power system.

The design of the Sprinter E-CELL is suitable for many other variants: with the long wheelbase, like a double cab and with numerous bodies. There are also the closed versions, equally with a multitude of bodies. Other weight variants might also be regarded.