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Archive | November 2013

Downshift Autos is Live From the Los Angeles Auto Show!

At last, the Los Angeles Auto Show is here, and it seems that vehicle manufacturers have saved a few tricks up their sleeves before the year runs out and they scramble to pull out the big guns for Detroit. I’ve always had a fondness for the LA Auto Show, and despite the typical absence of Lamborghini and Ferrari, dozens of automakers show up and unveil new and concept cars, and the basement is flooded with vehicles from the myriad tuning shops in Southern California. This year was no different, with Jaguar, Honda, BMW, and Mercedes all showcasing some serious hardware. We have the best performance autos in the photo gallery below:

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Vettel Sets Record With United States Grand Prix Win

Sebastian Vettel - Lifestyle

Nary a race goes by when 2013 World Champion Sebastian Vettel doesn’t set some ridiculous new record in Formula 1. With the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Vettel has again proven his dominance of the sport by winning his 8th consecutive race, something that has never been done before in a single season (Alberto Ascari holds the record at 9, accomplished during the 1952-53 seasons). It was the second Grand Prix hosted at the purpose-built Circuit of the Americas, and Vettel’s first win at the track. That means that Vettel has finished in first at every track on the 2013 F1 calendar at one point in his career except for Hungary.

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Is Formula E the Future of Motorsports?

Formula E Car Profile

2014 will see the advent of a brand new class of open-wheel race cars, as the FIA-sanctioned Formula E series debuts next September. As its name implies, Formula E is all-electric, and the cars themselves bear more than a passing resemblance to current F1 racers albeit with much less complicated aero work. The chassis for the Spark-Renault SRT_O1E is developed by Dallara, which also provides the backbone for IndyCars; the powertrain and electronics will be coming courtesy of McLaren Electronic Systems. Rounding out the list is Williams, who supplies the 200kw (270hp) motor. These being electric vehicles, noise generated by the motors is virtually nil, which presents a problem not only from an entertainment perspective, but also from a safety standpoint, as the pit or track crew will have little audible warning of fast-approaching cars. For the fans, there’s a high pitched, futuristic Jetsons-like whine, while an artificial rumble will be active in the pits to warn crews. The tire supplier chosen for the 10-race series is Michelin, so hopefully the cars won’t be shod in rubber purposely designed to be shredded à la Pirelli in F1.

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Ken Block Runs Circles Around Lamborghini Aventadors in Gymkhana 6

Gymkhana 6 Screengrab

Ken Block’s highly anticipated Gymkhana 6 has finally been released, now with corporate sponsorship to promote the new Need for Speed or Burnout game or something like that. While not as undeniably badass as tearing through closed off streets in San Francisco like some sort of unholy offspring of Frank Bullitt and Raoul Duke, there’s still plenty of jumping ramps sideways, dancing around police officers on Segways, and avoiding a gigantic spiked wrecking ball. Navigating through the obstacle course is rally driver extraordinaire Ken Block and his trusty 650hp Ford Fiesta. 1080p slow-mo car pornography is the entrée du jour, so sit back on your lunch break and enjoy Block destroying a set of Pirellis.

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F1 Update: Räikkönen Ends 2013 Season, Massa to Williams in 2014, and Kevin Magnussen Replaces Pérez at McLaren

Raikkonen Win Austrailia

Much to the disappointment of the Formula 1 faithful, Lotus frontrunner Kimi Räikkönen will sit out the last two races of the season (Sunday’s US Grand Prix and the Brazilian GP on November 24) due to back surgery scheduled for this week. That means his third place seat in the drivers’ championship is under fire more than ever, with current fourth place racer Lewis Hamilton only 8 points behind; with 26 points separating Lotus from Ferrari, the British team is expected to throw in someone else to try to advance its position in the constructors’ championship (Racer postulates that Lotus reserve driver Davide Valsecchi will take Räikkönen’s spot). In other Formula 1 news, Felipe Massa, who is dropped from Ferrari after this season, will land back on his feet at Williams, where he will replace Pastor Maldonado; he will undoubtedly pull Williams out of the bottom of the barrel that Caterham and Marussia typically swim in. Also out is Sergio Pérez, who has had a less than stellar season with McLaren. He will be replaced by 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 Champion Kevin Magnussen amid McLaren’s apparent disappointment over Pérez’ results this season, which have contributed to the team’s distant 5th place standing in the constructors’ championship.

Forza Motorsport 5 to Ship With Fewer Cars and Tracks Than Forza 4

Lotus F1 Turn 10 Forza

This week, disappointment is making the rounds for fans of the Forza Motorsport series, as the newest iteration of Microsoft’s answer to Gran Turismo will feature only around 200 cars, compared to the 483 from Forza Motorsport 4 and far less than the 1,196 promised by GT6, out December 4. A likely reason for the major cuts to the number of tracks and cars available on the disc is Forza 5‘s status as an Xbox One launch title. Having a hard release date set by Microsoft and not the developer, combined with the immense amount of work the team had to do to bring the Forza series to a next-gen system, surely limited how much the team could pack into Forza 5 on launch day. That being said, Forza 5 is launching in a ridiculous number of varieties on November 22, all of which are designed to entice players to fork over more than $59.99 for the standard game, and all of which add cars that are already modeled and work in Forza 5. Here’s a full list of the cars in Forza 5, and how much you can expect to pay for them.

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Ford Gives Me the Keys to the Focus ST and Fiesta ST, Tells Me to “Have Fun”

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There is nothing better than driving someone else’s car. That is my new constant in life, developed after I was invited to test some of Ford’s newest cars. Although standard automobiles like the new Explorer and C-Max MPV were ready to go with keys in the cupholder, I was drawn toward the ST hatchbacks brought for sampling like I was caught in an Imperial tractor beam. After taking a second to adjust the leather Recaro seats and mirrors to fit my lanky 6’4″ body, I exited the parking lot in a brand new Focus ST with a route to the Long Beach, CA annex of Signal Hill laid out not on the Microsoft Sync nav system, but on good old fashioned paper. No traffic on the 405 and a tank full of gas that I didn’t have to pay for meant my right foot got more exercise than usual. After all, why grab a sporty car and not stretch its legs a little bit?

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