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General Motors has claimed that 124 deaths were the result of faulty ignition switches. The number is almost 10 times more than the 13 deaths the company admitted to about a year ago, but 214 short of the total 338 death claims filed. The findings come from an internally appointed review team that considered over 4,300 death and injury claims.

As you might expect, not everyone is satisfied with GM’s findings. The Detroit Times spoke with the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, Clarence Ditlow, who said the “burden of proof on the individual consumer was always too high,” and that it was impossible for some would-be claimants to produce sufficient documentation.

“The entire program was designed to get [sic] help get Congress and the Justice Department off GM’s back,” Ditlow told The Detroit Times. “The one thing is clear that we will never know how many people were killed or injured because it goes back so far.”

In addition to the death claims paid, the General Motors compensation fund will also pay out 274 injury claims, but says there are still a few left to review. Of the 4,342 total claims filed, 338 of which were for deaths, about 91 percent were rejected. So far, GM has paid about $280 million in claims and expects that number to climb to $625 million. Several claims have been rejected or not yet accepted.

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Source: Detroit News

The quest to set the first new electric vehicle land-speed record since 2010 is ongoing. The 2014 Venturi Buckeye Bullet 3 hit a one-mile average speed of 240 mph, which was good enough for a new category record, but well short its estimated top speed of 373 mph.

The attempt took place at the Bonneville Salt Flats where conditions have been difficult for the last three years or so. The long-running SpeedWeeks event was cancelled this year due to heavy rains in July, which left standing water on the track. Conditions didn’t improve much in August for VBB-3 and driver Roger Schroer. "In eleven years here I have never driven on such a difficult track,” said Schroer in a press release. “The car was sliding on the surface from one side to the other due to soft spots and bumps."

Preparations at the track started on August 15th, with speed testing beginning a few days later. Poor conditions caused by flooding meant the track was shortened from 12 to 10 miles, but even the shorter distance was still wet and bumpy in places. Initial runs were hampered by severe vibrations, causing components to rattle loose and disrupt the drivetrain. Finally, during the last attempt on the 21st, the front cooling system tank was punctured, and the team decided to pack it in and try again another day.

The Venturi Buckeye Bullet is a joint project between Venturi Automobiles in Monaco and the Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research (hence ‘Buckeye’ in the name). VBB-3 is the fourth electric streamliner built by the two partners, and is powered by two electric motors that produce a combined 3,000 horsepower, making it the most powerful electric car in the world.

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Standing out in the world of compacts is no easy feat. The corner-cutting measures it takes to offer a product at a competitive price in this segment can quickly demote a car to drab background filler. Throw in the customer’s demand to “do it all,” from sporting fun to commuting practicality, and what you’re left with can often feel like too much of a compromise. That’s not the case with the Mazda3, which combines standout styling, top-notch safety, cutting-edge interior appointment and fantastic driving dynamics into one cohesive package, all for an aggressive price. For 2016, Mazda kept all those characteristics, but upped the ante with a variety of new features, both standard and optional.

The 3 was originally introduced in 2003 as a replacement for the Protégé, with a second generation unveiled five years later. Now in its third gen, the 3 continues to be one of the best compact cars on the market. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that Automotive News reports annual U.S. sales of the Mazda3 have overtaken gains in the compact market as a whole, with growth of 5.2 percent compared to a 3.1 percent average for all other segment models.

So then – what makes it so good?

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Mazda3.

Citroen’s Cactus lineup has done nothing but make headlines since the 2013 Citroen Cactus Concept turned a lot of heads at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show . It’s hard to believe that it’s only been two years, but in that span, the Cactus lineup has given rise to a production model (the 2014 Citroen C4 Cactus ), a separate prototype (the 2015 Citroen Aircross Concept ), and the title of 2015 World Car Design of the Year at the New York International Auto Show back in April 2015. One might even say that the success of the model played a huge part in Citroen’s decision to build a new prototype, called the Cactus M Concept. And in a nice twist of fate, it’s also making its in debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show on September 17, 2015.

Not much is known about the Cactus M Concept at this point, apart from a very brief description from Citroen, describing the model as a fresh take of the C4 Cactus that also pays homage to the Mehari, a light utility vehicle the French automaker produced from 1968 to 1988.

The allusion to the Mehari is a nice starting point on how I imagine the M Concept is going to look like. Spanish car website Actualidad Motor then followed that up by publishing images of what appears to be the Cactus M Concept right smack in the middle of a promo shoot.

Citroen also released a teaser photo of a surfboard being sprayed in a paint booth. The M Concept doesn’t make an appearance in the teaser photo but piecing together everything I’ve seen and been told about this concept, I’m putting my money on a topless concept vehicle that’s meant to be used on beach trips and other outdoor activities.

Continue reading for my full review of the Citroen Cactus M Concept.

Before I start, let me admit one thing: there are no really bad cars anymore. The era of the true crapcan went out around 10 years ago, and any new car or truck you can buy these days is, at heart, a decent vehicle. It may not always seem like it, but we’re currently in the middle of an automotive renaissance of sorts. Like most other categories of cars, it’s been evolve or die for SUVs and crossovers. The competition is stiffer than ever, and that has driven dramatic improvements in the power, handling, ride, design and capability of these vehicles.

That doesn’t mean that some vehicles aren’t behind the curve, of course. And in some cases, they’re way behind the curve.

So why do some SUVs fall short? Sometimes it’s a matter of taste. Consumer desires can shift practically overnight, and it’s easy for a manufacturer to get caught out. When gas prices spiked a couple of years ago, large, V-8-powered sport utes became overnight liabilities. Similarly, the rollover controversy that struck the Ford Explorer in the late 1990s was bad news for tall, body-on-frame sport-utes. In recent years, consumer preference has turned toward more car-like crossover vehicles that split the difference between SUVs and cars, offering the best of both worlds — a move that must have folks at Suzuki and Isuzu (who attempted similar vehicles before it was popular) shaking their heads.
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Labaton Sucharow Lawfirm out of New York and Hagens Bermen law firm out of California has filed a class-action lawsuit against 10 major auto manufacturers. The purpose of the lawsuit it to obtain a court order requiring Mercedes-Benz , Kia , Honda , Nissan , Hyundai , Bentley , Volkswagen , BMW , Toyota and Ford to install an auto-shutdown feature on models that have a keyless ignition system. According to Martis Alex – the head attorney at Labaton Sucharow — cars that don’t have an automatic shutdown feature pose a risk of carbon-monoxide poisoning if a forgetful driver leaves the vehicle running in a garage.

The lawsuit goes on to state that automakers have known about this risk for years. It states that some have begun equipping new models with an automatic shutdown feature, but have done nothing to rectify the situation with older models. Apparently, according to some sources, there has been a total of 13 deaths related to carbon-monoxide poisoning from vehicles with keyless ignition systems. We’re not sure how this one is going to turn out, but keep reading to hear my thoughts on the issue.

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Kia has been caught in the midst of testing its next generation Sportage crossover on the frozen roads of Northern Sweden. Our spy photographers grabbed several clean shots of the South Korean automaker’s latest refresh of the Sportage, though it was covered in heavy camouflage. Despite the black padding, there are plenty of details showing through.

This marks the Sportage’s first major refresh since 2011 – itself a major renewal of the crossover thanks to Hyundai /Kia’s hiring of Peter Schreyer, Audi’s former designer. Now for 2016, the fourth generation Sportage appears to be receiving an updated interpretation of Schreyer’s “tiger nose” design. The side profile and roofline of the Sportage seems to be unchanged, with the front and rear fascias getting the bulk of attention.

The new design appears to be heavily influenced by the KX3 concept. That’s especially true in the 2016 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S -like headlights and the lower grille’s larger opening. The Sportage’s rear end gets LED taillights while keeping its bumper-mounted turn signals and backup lights.

Updated 08/28/2015: The 2016 Sportage’s exterior has already been revealed in official photos, but our spy photographers also sent us a batch with the model caught completely undisguised on the road. Check them out in the gallery!

Continue reading to find out more about the 2016 Kia Sportage.

No manufacturer has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans more times than Porsche . But Porsche’s dominance of top-tier endurance racing through the ’70s and ’80s (as well as a bit in the ’90s) gave way to the company concentrating its efforts on GT3 and GT2 racing, leaving outright wins to Audi . Half of the field in any given GT3-class race is now made up of Porsche 911s , but it seems that Porsche has gotten bored with this, as the company came back to LMP1 racing last year and took a 1-2 win at Le Mans this year.

The question following this win was whether Porsche was making a serious return to LMP1 or if this was just to prove that Porsche still had what it takes to win, sort of like what Bentley did in 2003. Porsche has now given official word that the LMP1 racing program, centered around the 2015 Porsche 919 Hybrid prototype , will continue until 2018. Porsche is surely pushing for those three more seasons to translate into three more outright wins at Le Mans, but Audi is definitely going to have a thing or two say about that, and we’re likely to see some very close races in the next few years.
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