First Drive

Man vs Machine: I raced against Audi’s self-driving RS 7

Man vs Machine: I raced against Audi’s self-driving RS 7

When it comes to proving the potential of self-driving cars, you can go big or go home, and in the case of Audi that means it's racing time. This track day is unlike any other I’ve been on, simply because this is the first time in history where I or any automotive journalist has had the opportunity to take a hot lap inside what Audi calls a “piloted driving” vehicle or, to the rest of the world, an autonomous car. Taking autopilot smarts to a level never done before, Audi modified two RS 7 sedans with race car driver-like levels of intelligence, and then challenged me to beat them in a hot lap.

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SlashGear to race against piloted Audi RS 7 at Hockenheimring

SlashGear to race against piloted Audi RS 7 at Hockenheimring

Automobile development has traditionally progressed on separate paths that only ever so rarely dipped into another's territory. That is most especially true when it comes to developments in driver assistance and autonomous driving technologies, more often than not geared towards sedans and consumer models. Audi, however, is pushing the boundaries with the RS 7, the world's sportiest piloted driving car, which it will put to the test at the Hockenheimring track. And SlashGear's Vincent Nguyen will be getting an exclusive first-hand experience before anyone else, in a race that will pit man against machine.

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2015 Ford F-150 First Drive: The big aluminum risk

2015 Ford F-150 First Drive: The big aluminum risk

The stakes are high when you're redesigning the best-selling vehicle in America, and you could've perhaps forgiven Ford for taking a low-key approach to the 2015 F-150. Instead, however, the new truck aims for a trio of improvements (and companion challenges): an all-new aluminum body and box that needs to convince traditionalists that steel isn't the only metal; a new 2.7L EcoBoost engine that has to compete with the de facto V8; and lashings of tech at odds with the "simple workhorse" many expect. Ambitious, then: read on to find out whether Ford's new star succeeds.

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2015 Honda CR-V first-drive: Small SUV, Big Evolution

2015 Honda CR-V first-drive: Small SUV, Big Evolution

The CR-V is a big deal for Honda, and the compact SUV’s redesign for 2015 reflects that. Described as “the most ambitious mid-cycle update in the car’s history,” this is no simple facelift: new engine, new interior design, and a splash of new safety and convenience tech mean that much of the best-selling car has changed. In a competitive segment, however, you need to bring your A-game, so has the 2015 CR-V evolved sufficiently?

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2015 Ford Mustang First Drive: Pony Car rebooted

2015 Ford Mustang First Drive: Pony Car rebooted

Being an uncontested icon in the automotive world is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, there’s the cachet and instant attention that comes with legendary status. The flip-side, as Ford has discovered with the brand new 2015 Ford Mustang, is that it’s incredibly tough - if not impossible - to please every fan, every time. Hell hath no fury like a Mustang enthusiast scorned, so has Ford done enough to escape that wrath?

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2015 Kia Soul EV First-Drive: A new city-car star

2015 Kia Soul EV First-Drive: A new city-car star

Kia’s 2015 Soul EV may look cute, but the company isn’t playing around when it comes to its first all-electric car for the US market. Based on the hit Soul city car, but dumping the gas engines for a torquey electric powertrain, the Soul EV may be following the Leaf, 500e, and Focus EV to market, but its clearly used that extra time to learn from what they got right - and how to avoid their mistakes.

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2015 Audi S3 Sedan First-Drive

2015 Audi S3 Sedan First-Drive

You can’t accuse Audi of playing it low-key with the A3 series. From the core sedan, fundamentally designed to tickle American tastes, comes a car family that spans electric-gasoline hybrids through to this, the performance S3 Sedan. Hottest of the range, and certainly the most striking in appearance, the S3 pairs Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel-drive with a 292 HP 2.0-liter turbo engine. So, after our time with the A3 and the A3 Sportback e-tron, how does the S3 Sedan compare?

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Happy Hydrogen: Up close with Toyota’s 2015 FCV

Happy Hydrogen: Up close with Toyota’s 2015 FCV

Toyota isn't quite full of hot air with its latest car, but it's not far off. The Toyota FCV relies on hydrogen - a gas, but not gasoline - for its get-up-and-go, and though the commercial release isn't expected until next year, that hasn't stopped the new sedan from starting a quiet tour in eco-conscious California. It brought along some old friends, too, including one of the SUVs Toyota first used to prove the fuel-cell technology would work.

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2015 Audi A3 e-tron First Drive

2015 Audi A3 e-tron First Drive

Say hello to the newest member of Audi’s A3 lineup for 2015: the A3 Sportback e-tron. Sure, at first glance it may look just like a regular A3 Sportback, but don’t let that fool you: this one’s special. As with many things in life, two is better than one; so, aside from a regular 1.4 TSFI engine there’s also a 75 kW electric motor. In a nutshell, this is Audi’s first production implementation of a plug-in hybrid, and the future of driving that, according to the company, is without compromise.

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2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat first-drive

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat first-drive

Before I tell you about my driving experience with the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, I’m just going to get this off my chest: this is one powerful, fast and, yes, chest-poundingly badass car. Your knee-jerk reaction might be “holy cow, $60k+ is a lot for a Challenger!” While that might be true, for a car even Dodge’s own CEO describes as a “science project”, in many respects the 700 HP Lamborghini Aventador I drove months ago was equally badass, but how many of us have got half-a-mil to drop on a supercar? From that perspective, the Challenger gives you the performance, a great looking car, creature comfort driver-focused cockpit and a decent fuel economy. But that’s now what you care about. You want to hear how the Hellcat roars.

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