Thursday, April 30, 2009

Audi working on new E1 minicar

Even as fuel prices slide back down to pre-crunch levels, the automotive industry knows it's only a temporary respite and continues its gear-up for a new layer of premium small cars. On the German front, BMW is thought to be working on a sub-1-series mini car, Daimler already has its Smart, and soon Audi will join the club with its own fuel-sipping urban warrior.

The latest reports indicate the car will be based around the same platform as VW's up, and will do battle with the likes of Ford's Ka, Toyota iQ and the Fiat 500. The car is expected to be called the E1 and it is to be the entry to a range of new ‘ecological’ models, which will span everything from minicars to performance models.

Power will come from a 600cc turbocharged two-cylinder engine in either petrol or diesel guises. The small engines will certainly be underpowered for extended highway use, but with CO2 emissions under 100g/km and about 80mpg (2.9L/100km) fuel efficiency, according to AutoExpress, the E1 will be an easy to operate, low-tax tool for getting around any major city. An electric powertrain is also being considered, but as yet no details on its capabilities have surfaced.

Positioned below the A1, the E1 would also get a 1.2L three-cylinder, which would be more highway-capable than its two-pot brethren. Nevertheless, the up! based vehicle will still be primarily targeted at younger, affluent, urban audiences with an emphasis on technology and style.

The fact that so much of the Audi city car's competition is gearing up for U.S. sale and/or production hints that the E1 could be sold in America as well, though poor exchange rates, high transport costs and a generally weak economy could conspire against such a decision. Nevertheless, given the expected production time frame, Audi should have several years to makes its decision.

While the VW version of the up! will be hitting the streets in 2010, the Audi variant will have to wait a while, and is not expected until late 2011. Production will be handled at VW’s plant in Bratislava, Slovakia, alongside the up! version as well as Skoda and Seat variants.

World record: G-POWER introduces fastest BMW Coupe with a top speed of 370 km/h

G-POWER was founded in 1983 and concentrates exclusively on the tuning of BMW automobiles. The company celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2008. Today it is among the most reputable brands in the global tuning market. G-POWER sets itself apart from the competition with the most powerful important BMW engines developed in-house.
Now, the G-Power name has become synonymous with extreme BMWs and the company’s latest Hurricane CS based on the M6 Coupe fits in perfectly with that description. After G-Power’s own M5-based Hurricane RS broke the world record for the fastest sedan with a top speed of 367.4km/h (228mph), the German tuner decided to shoehorn the same record-breaking powerplant into BMW’s M6 Coupe. The end result is the all-new G-Power M6 Hurricane CS.

Powered by a twin-supercharged version of the legendary high-rev BMW M V10, the Hurricane CS develops up to 750hp (522kW) and 590lb-ft (800Nm) of torque and has a recorded top speed of 367.4km/h (228mph) – making it the fastest BMW Coupe in the world. To reach this level of performance, engineers needed to install the company’s belt-driven ASA T1-316 superchargers, each providing charge air for one cylinder bank and able to increase the volume of charge air by up to 25%. However, at this level, the engine would theoretically be developing up to 900hp (671kW).

The inner workings of the ten-cylinder four-valve engine are also optimized with forged pistons from Mahle that reduce compression. They have been precisely matched for weight and are much stronger than their production counterparts. The production piston rods and pins also had to make way for special components that can handle the much higher forces.

Further characteristics of the car are the multipart widebody kit, high performance carbon-ceramic brakes, fully adjustable suspension kit and last but not least oversized 21in wheels wrapped with Michelin rubber.

While most of the parts used on the Hurricane CS are available individually, G-Power also sells the package as a complete car starting at €360,000.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mini working on special John Cooper F1 50th Anniversary edition

It’s reported that Mini MINI will be producing a very limited edition JCW just in time for the 50th anniversary of John Cooper’s first F1 car.. The limited-run vehicle will be sold exclusively in British Racing Green, and is expected to be based around the same core as the JCW edition currently on the market.
The car will also get the characteristic white mirrors and roof treatment, plus a custom set of aerodynamics to set it off visually from the pack, reports Mini ethusiast site MotoringFile. Custom badging with the car's 'F1' name will complete the unique look.

No performance mods are planned so expect to see the familiar 1.6L turbocharged four-cylinder from the regular JCW model with 208hp (155kW) and 192lb-ft (260Nm) of torque.

Unveiling is expected to take place at a special event during the UK's Mini United festival at Silverstone, May 22-24. Production volume isn't expected to exceed 100 units, and it will likely be limited in distribution, so don't be surprised if all of us living outside the UK will have to make do with the standard Mini Cooper S, JCW and their Clubman variants - though none will be available in the vaunted British Racing Green.

Subaru pricing for 2010 Legacy (Liberty)

Subaru is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its Legacy (Liberty) sedan with the unveiling of the all-new fifth-generation model this year. Subaru is renowned for its love-or-loathe approach to designing cars, as seen in the frequent revisions to its Impreza line over the years, but the styling of the new Legacy is nowhere near as controversial though we’re sure it will leave opinions divided. The pricing, however, is sure to be regarded as attractive.
Starting at just $19,995 for the 2.5i, or $800 lower than the last Legacy, the new car offers good value for money thanks to a slightly larger size and more standard features. Adding a CVT bumps the price by $1,000, while moving up to a 2.5i Premium trim raises the entry bar to $20,995 as well when equipped with a standard six-speed manual, though it also adds a bunch of features beyond the standard 2.5i, including 10-way power driver's seat, driver's side window with automatic up and down, leather-wrapped steering wheel, instrument storage bin w/door, overhead console with sunglass holder and ambient light, bright exhaust tip, body-colored mirrors and 16in alloy wheels.

The 2.5i Limited starts at $24,995, and adds paddle shifters and a 6-speed manual shift mode, P215/50 R17 all-season tires, 17in alloy wheels, perforated ivory/off black leather-trimmed upholstery, four-way power front passenger seat, All-Weather Package and a Harman Kardon audio system to the 2.5i Premium's feature sheet. The 2.5GT models start at $27,995 and $29,995 for Premium and Limited, respectively. They add larger wheels, exhaust tips and of course the up-rated 265hp engine described below.

Stepping up to the 3.6R models, built around a 3.6L boxer engine that replaces the outgoing 3.0L unit, the pricing starts at $24,995 - $1,600 lower than the previous 3.0R - for the entry model, $25,995 for the 3.6R Premium and $27,995 for the 3.6R Limited. Feature lists follow similar lines to the 2.5i, though all 3.6R models are slightly higher spec, with 17in alloys and paddle shifters standard across the range. Subaru has yet to reveal when the car will be available via retail outlets, however.

The latest 2010 model is the roomiest Legacy yet and like its predecessors the car comes with a choice of horizontally-opposed ‘boxer’ engines and symmetrical AWD. The car also features Subaru’s latest Lineartronic continuously variable transmission, with a special manual model to allow the driver to change gears using steering wheel paddle shifters. A six-speed manual will also be offered for the first time on the full range of Legacy models.

The base Legacy engine is 2.5L unit, which is rated at 170hp (127kW) and 170lb-ft (230Nm) of torque, and this is followed by a 265hp (197kW) and 258lb-ft (350Nm) turbocharged version of the same engine for the Legacy 2.5GT. Filling out the range is the Legacy 3.6R model, which comes with a 256hp (191kW) and 247lb-ft (334Nm) of torque 3.6L engine.

McPherson front suspension and double-wishbone rear suspension are enhanced for increased roll stability, while the front suspension mount points also improve chassis rigidity by tying into the engine cradle.

A distinctive wing-shape embellishment on the front grille shows the Subaru brand identity, and the front bumper designs accentuate flat horizontal surfaces. Embellished with solidly-designed headlamps, the front face of the Legacy is intended to be 'bold and powerful'. The cabin's dynamic design and a shorter deck give the vehicle what Subaru calls 'a sporty appeal', while the size and power of the vehicle are expressed in the rear-end design, which is rounded and capacious and framed by the combination lights.

Both front seats are designed for comfort and support, and their stitched fabric builds on the Legacy’s sporty look. A 10-way driver’s seat, with power lumber support adjustment, and 4-way power front passenger seat are available on premium-grade models.

As previously stated, the new 2010 model offers more space than any previous Legacy and measures up to 35mm longer, 90mm wider and 80mm taller than the outgoing car. While its overhang dimensions are shortened by 45mm, its wheelbase is expanded by 80mm, allowing for additional rear legroom.

Source from:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cadillac to replace BLS with global model based on Epsilon II platform

Cadillac knows its future lies in small cars, especially if it wants to be considered a global player, but GM’s financial woes means the company has had to pare back some of its more ambitious plans. In the latest viability plan, GM CEO Fritz Henderson revealed that Cadillac would have to scale back on its European expansion plans, while development of new diesel models plus a RWD 3-series rival have been put on hold. Instead, the GM luxury division will focus on its performance in existing markets, including North America, parts of Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, as well as the development of a sub-CTS model based now on the FWD Epsilon II platform.

Epsilon II is a global platform, which underpins cars like the upcoming 2010 Buick LaCrosse and Opel Insignia, and according to MotorTrend it will also be used for a replacement for Cadillac’s poor selling BLS. Codenamed GM 166, the new car will be available in both FWD and AWD and will be priced somewhere between the LaCrosse and CTS. Expect pricing to fall around the $34,000-$35,000 mark, pitting as a prime target for the Lexus ES 350.

This sub-CTS model is expected to be Cadillac’s highest volume model but it won’t be just another BLS. Instead, the car has been described as a brand new global model with “dedicated architecture and content.”

According to the source, GM 166 will be bigger than its LaCrosse and Insignia cousins and will arrive sometime in 2011. The bad news is that the much-hyped 3-series rival, rumored to be based on a brand new RWD platform called Alpha, is most likely dead.

Source from:

Spy shots: Renault confirms Twingo CC for 2010

French automaker Renault has officially confirmed through its deputy vice president of small vehicle models, Yves-Eric Morel, that the company is readying a new cabriolet model----Twingo CC,which could be unveiled as early as the Frankfurt Auto Show in September with sales starting sometime during the first half of 2010. Unlike the conventional Fiat 500 and MINI droptops, the French automaker's cabrio be much more than just a Twingo without a rooftop as Renault's goal is to create a 'niche' model that will stand out from the crowd.

First shown off as a concept at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show, Renault's Twingo CC (coupe-cabrio) was expected to make it to production in 2008. Delays have hit the little car's development, but Renault is adamant it will be launched by the end of next year.

"We are working on a small convertible for 2010," Renault's deputy vice president of the small-car segment Yves-Eric Morel revealed to Automotive News. "It's going to be a niche vehicle, and like any niche vehicle, the objective will be to do something different, that gives a boost to the brand's image." This means that the car will have its own unique styling and won’t simply be a standard convertible version of the Twingo minicar.

Recent spy shots reveal a car that very closely resembles the original 2007 concept in both proportion and in the few details that are visible underneath the camouflage. That's not hard to imagine, considering the concept itself looked almost production-ready.

Based around the Twingo hatchback, the new convertible will likely get a retractable hard top roof (a cheaper manual roof is still possible), a two-seat layout and power from a 1.2L engine expected to develop 120hp (89kW). Down the road, an RS variant with a slightly tuned-up version of the same engine could also be in the plans. Prime competitors will be the Peugeot 207 CC, Opel/Vauxhall Tigra TwinTop and upcoming Fiat 500C.

GM Saturn, sell or drop?

What’s the future of GM’s Saturn? Sell or drop?

The ailing Detroit carmaker confirmed in its most recent viability plan that it accelerate the demise of the brand to the end of this year, with either a sale or cessation of business marking the end of General Motors' involvement with Saturn. Earlier this month we heard about a new investment group by the name of Telesto Ventures reportedly planning to buy Saturn outright and source its own models from several overseas suppliers, though the accelerated time table may make that difficult to achieve.

GM manager Jill Lajdziak revealed to Automotive News that the struggling Detroit 3 carmaker is trying to find a new vehicle supplier for Saturn by September 1. The announcement was also made to Saturn dealers, who at this point are still confused and uncertain as to the direction the brand will take. Beginning next month, Saturn executives and GM higher-ups will listen to different proposals and choose the best deal for both companies. The bottom line is clear, however, with GM saying in its latest viability plan, "If a sale of Saturn does not occur, we intend to phase out the Saturn brand by the end of 2009."

Some of the proposals coming in would alter Saturn's retail operations dramatically. One of the most popular is the previously mentioned Telesto option. Under this proposal, the overseas models sourced by Telesto would not be branded as Saturns, but would rather be sold under various brand names. A Telesto spokesman explained that the Saturn brand would become "similar to a Best Buy model in that customers deal with Best Buy because of the customer experience not because they are the only place to buy a Samsung or a Sony TV".

Presumably there will also be foreign carmakers vying for the brand itself - creating brand recognition in the crowded U.S. market is difficult for foreign start-ups, and having the Saturn brand as a launching pad may seem very attractive to certain manufacturers.

A somewhat mysterious coalition of Saturn's dealer-run Franchise Operations Team and an unknown partner - possibly Telesto - has also revealed plans to take over Saturn if the brand is abandoned by GM. Only time will tell what result is final, but with 2009 nearing its midpoint it won't be long.

Build your own Porsche Panamera(Porsche launches configurator for Panamera Sedan)

It’s very charming that, you can build your own Porsche Panamera from Stuttgart to your own specs with the launch of the Porsche Panamera configurator.

The example above - a well-outfitted $143,110 example of the Porsche Panamera Turbo - shows that there's a lot of flexibility in the online design tool. There are some limitations as well, however.

It will give you a photo of the car you've built updated with the trim level, exterior color, wheel option and interior choice, but smaller adjustments - such as painted intakes, diffusers or rear apron - aren't included, leaving your imagination to fill in the details.

In total, however, the tool is a handy way to explore the options the Panamera offers, all the way from the $89,800 base S model to the $93,800 4S and on to the $132,600 Turbo. Options can quickly boost those prices, however, with a full slate of options bumping the base model up to $150,000 and beyond. How much for a fully-optioned Turbo? Open up that wallet, because it will run you right up against the $200,000 mark.

A wide range of options are available inside and out, including a choice of birch, mahogany, aluminum and carbon fiber interior elements, a range of custom and premium paint colors, four sets of wheels and more audio equipment than you could shake a 300-CD case at.

To see for yourself, and build your own Panamera, check out the Panamera's model page and click the 'build your own' link for the model you want.

BMW’s next X3 will grow in size but prices will remain the same

It seems that virtually every nameplate grows in size with every new iteration, and the 2010 BMW X3 SUV will be no different.

BMW's X3 is often derided as a poor man's X5, a comparison that will become much more credible once the next-generation model rolls in early next year. The new model will be almost as big as the original X5 and better equipped, but thanks to increased competition in the small SUV segment pricing will remain similar to the current X3.

This increase in size and a greater range of equipment means the 2010 BMW X3 will be moving upmarket, but its prices will hover at their current levels to stave off competition from the Audi Q5 and the Mercedes Benz GLK, both of which undercut the current X3 by around $2,000 and $6,000 respectively.

That means the new X3 will likely be priced no higher than the $40,525 sticker for the current model. The GLK, meanwhile, starts at $34,775, while the Q5 quattro starts at $38,025.

The information comes from BMW’s U.S. chief, Jim O'Donnell, who told Automotive News that cost savings will be made from building the X3 at the Spartanburg plant in South Caroline rather than importing it from Europe as is the practice with the current model.

Even with more features and no price hikes, BMW is still remaining realistic about the vehicle’s sales performance. Last year, the company sold close to 18,000 X3 SUVs, but this year sales are barely expected to reach one-third of that figure.

Podio Moto GP Japón 2009 Lorenzo,Rossi,Pedrosa.

Jorge Lorenzo Japón 2009 Moto GP.

Jorge Lorenzo Japón 2009 Moto GP.

Podio 125cc. Japón Iannone,Simón,Espargaro.

Stoner Japón 2009 Moto GP.(Tipo Wallpaper "pulsa para ver mas grande y descargar")

Marco Melandri Hayate Racing Japón 2009 Moto GP.

Valentino Rossi Japón 2009 Moto GP.

Stoner Japón 2009 Moto GP.

Moriwaki Japón 2009 Moto2.

Jorge Lorenzo Japón 2009 Moto GP.

Hayden magullado Moto GP 2009

Stoner Japón 2009 Moto GP.

Dani Pedrosa Moto GP Japón 2009

Moto2 en el CEV Albacete. 2009 Laglisse

Ducati GP-9 detalles

Ducati GP-9 detalles

Ducati GP-9 detalles

Moto2 en el CEV Albacete. 2009 Laglisse

Moto2 en el CEV Albacete. 2009 (Pulsa sobre la imagen para ver mas grande)

Moto2 en el CEV Albacete. 2009 (Pulsa sobre la imagen para ver mas grande)

Moto2 en el CEV Albacete. 2009

Iannone Japón 2009 125cc.

Simoncelli Japón 2009 250cc.

Simoncelli Japón 2009 250cc.

Iannone Japón 2009 125cc.

Iannone vs Simón Japón 2009 125cc.

Bautista carrera Japón 2009 250cc.

Dani Pedrosa Moto GP Japón 2009

Hayden Japón 2009 Moto GP

Hayden Japón 2009 Moto GP

Hayden Japón 2009 Moto GP

Hayden Japón 2009 Moto GP

Hayden Japón 2009 Moto GP

Hayden Japón 2009 Moto GP

Melandri Hayate Racing Japón 2009 Moto GP

Xaus Assen BMW SBK 2009

Checa vs Spies Assen SBK 2009

Haga Assen SBK 2009

Checa Assen 2009 SBK

Ferrari 599XX officially unveiled

The 599XX is being highly praised by Ferrari as an extreme vehicle which, as it appears, has not undergone any road-oriented changes. The car, which is a technical study, was first shown at the Geneva last March and is patterned after the 599 GTB Fiorano. However 599XX is not developed for F1 competition but its for a series of dedicated track events for existing customers to experience how extreme a Ferrari road car can get.
The final product has not yet been revealed but a 599 Scuderia is not out of the question. The 599XX is equipped with 700hp that it reaches at 9,000rpm and an aerodynamic system that significantly boosts downforce to 280kg at 200km/h and 630kg at 300km/h. The vehicle’s Actiflow system consists of fans at the rear that conduct air under the car to a couple of grills at the back and artificial jets ensure smooth airflow and drag reduction. The performance on the car is maximized through the ‘High Performance Dynamic Concept’ which reduces the mechanical limits of the car to electronic controls. Carbon fiber components maintain the lightweight design of the car and shift times have been lowered up to 60 milliseconds as a result of gearbox tuning.

Pricing has yet to be announced but there will be a limited units produced for the super rich people.

Wald releases new photos of Nissan GT-R Black Bison

Japanese tuning house Wald International has a wide range of styling and performance kits for nearly every major luxury car brand on the market, but this time the company has focused its attention on a humble Nissan, albeit one of the fastest Nissans ever produced. The car is the Nissan GT-R, a vehicle whose lines and shape were dictated almost exclusively by the drive for optimal aerodynamics. New photos reveal the car in more detail than ever before, highlighting Wald's precision work.

Improving on the original design would be a tough task for any tuner, and not surprisingly most of the aftermarket kits we’ve seen thus far, such as the Zele and Arios, appear almost completely stock. Wald’s new Black Bison kit sets out to change all this by including a full bodykit, new wheels, and plenty of carbon-fiber accessories.

Wald has given the GT-R a new look through a custom carbon-fiber front lip spoiler, a custom nose cover, a carbon-fiber engine cover, a new rear wing, and some low-drag duct covers also made out of lightweight composite.

All of the accessories can be had in a choice of either wet or dry carbon fiber - wet being the glossy-look material most people are accustomed to, and dry carbon fiber being the dull grey material that wins races and goes into space. The price differential between the two is accordingly as huge as the appearance differential: including taxes, the full wet carbon kit is priced at ¥1,039,500 ($11,620), while the dry kit runs ¥2,362,500 ($26,410).

Surprisingly, no power-adding modifications were revealed, though with the reported difficulty in tuning the GT-R's engine and the obvious benefits of an extensive carbon-fiber-replacement program, the Wald take on GT-R modification may be one of the most successful.
Source from:

Chrysler shows off new Fiat-based sedan at special dealer presentation

Chrysler has showed off several of its planned models at a special dealer presentation held this week at the carmaker’s design dome in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Among the new models was the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2011 Chrysler 300 sedan, and according to the Wall Street Journal a compact sports sedan from Fiat that will form the basis for a new Chrysler version.

The proposed alliance between Fiat and Chrysler still hasn’t been finalized and with the government’s deadline for restructuring falling at the end of this month dealers understandably are nervous. Add a looming bankruptcy to the mix and stress levels for most dealers will likely be going through the roof. The show off may settle tensions a little and offer some hope.

On hand at the event was Chrysler’s design chief Ralph Gilles who confirmed that the Chrysler version would use the Fiat chassis but will have unique exterior sheet metal. Chrysler doesn’t have a compact sedan in its lineup at the moment and has lacked one ever since the Dodge Neon was discontinued back in 2006. With consumers in the U.S. continuing to downsize to smaller vehicles, even with fuel prices back at the $2 per gallon mark, Chrysler needs to fill the gaping void in its lineup.

There’s been no mention of which Fiat model was shown at the presentation but Chrysler has previously revealed that it will build a sedan based on the Italian carmaker’s C-Evo platform, which currently underpins cars like the Fiat Bravo and Lancia Delta.

Chrysler, in its original viability plan submitted to the U.S. Treasury back in February, showed that it could expand its lineup for very little cost by borrowing several future Fiat models. The alliance will possibly see up to seven new Fiat and Alfa Romeo models sold in the U.S., including some that will be produced in North America for the first time.

Monday, April 27, 2009

BMW 5-Series Review

The first generation of the famous 5th series of simulated group (factory index body E12) debuted in September 1972.2008 BMW 5-SeriesBMW 5-SeriesSedan middle class had classical layout with characteristic nasal lining sink with a negative slope been very robust and reliable, but there have not been as popular as the Mercedes-Benz, which is very useful for the buyer concerning the price.BMW 5-

BMW 1 Series 3 Door

The BMW 1 Series 3 Door is a truly exclusive car to catch unique design, providing it from the crowd. The long hood and lateral lines drawn emphasize sports car silhouette.2008 BMW 1 Series 3 DoorBMW 1 Series 3 DoorDecent interior, compelling momentum, incomparable efficiency. By applying the principles of the unique BMW Efficient Dynamics, BMW 1 Series 3 Door demonstrated excellent performance

Lumma Design upgrades the BMW 3-Series Coupe to M3

LUMMA Design, the tuning arm of BMW, has the knack of getting men excited.The quality of his products are personally guaranteed by Horst LUMMA, demonstrating that cars like the BMW E92 and E93 are in the best place for a transformation.

The BMW 3-series Coupe has a lot going for it - price, performance and features are all at a sweet spot for the market. That makes it a prime candidate for aftermarket add-ons, as owners of the popular car seek to differentiate their particular example. Enter Lumma Design with a tasteful set of upgrades that won't set off the 'spaetzel' detectors of most critics.

Homing in on what makes most 3-series Coupe owners tick, Lumma offers only appearance upgrades for the car so far, including chrome exhaust pipes, a front, rear and side skirt kit, plus a trunk-lid spoiler, roof spoiler. If that's not enough, you can add special composite front fenders with M3-esque ducts and 19in alloys.

The total price of the upgrade package is €4,149 ($5,500) without the wheels or €9,049 ($11,990) with them. That's a pretty big pill to swallow by American standards, but compared to the European price of the car, it's not unreasonable. And it's one of the few kits that won't flag you as a 17-year-old spending Daddy's money.

BMW 116i 3d

2008 BMW 116i 3dMaximum speed (km / h) - 204Acceleration 0-100 km / h (s) - 9.8Acceleration 0-1000 m (s) - 31.2Urban consumption (l/100 km) - 7.5Extra consumption (l/100 km) - 4.8Average consumption (l/100 km) - 5.8CO 2 (g / km) - 139RT - 4.75%2008 BMW 116i 3dSize, weight, capacityBody Type - TourismNumber of doors - 3Length / width / height (mm) - 4239 / 1748 / 1421Wheelbase / Front track - rear

Aston Martin returns to Nurburgring 24-hour race with V12 Vantage

Aston Martin will return to the starting grid of Germany’s Nordschleife for its fourth consecutive year of the Nurburgring 24-hour endurance challenge, at May 23 and 24. The carmaker will be using its latest super-sports car, the all-new V12 Vantage coupe, which will be kept in near-standard specification for the event.

‘Rose,’ a yellow V8 Vantage that was first entered the race in 2006, will be the most current car to join the brand’s model lineup. Leading this year’s production effort and attempting to repeat the spotless record of Aston Martin in finishing the 24-hour race, will be the newest V12 Vantage in almost standard specs and will be piloted by Dr. Ulrich Bez, the CEO of the company, and representatives from its engineering team.

Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show last month, the V12 Vantage is the ultimate resurrection of the Vantage range that features a 6.0 liter V12 unit generating 510bhp (417PS) and 570Nm (420lb-ft) of torque. With slight revisions, the standard vehicle is being prepped to participate in the most grueling endurance competitions. This will be the fourth successive time that Dr. Bez will be driving the 24-hour race. This will be the ultimate engineering durability test for the V12 Vantage program, he said. The car will be subjected to the toughest evaluation to date under public examination just like what the company did with the previous N24 program.

The carmaker has a proven track record at the Nurburgring with road cars that came with limited modification and this year they will commemorate the 50th year anniversary of gaining the victory at the ADAC Nurburgring 1000 km with a DBR1. Coming only with essential safety revisions, lowered weight and retuned suspension with absolutely no extra aerodynamic improvements, the V12 Vantage race car will be near to production standard. Pirelli, production tire partner of Aston Martin, has chosen P Zero Circuit Racing polished tires to improve performance guaranteeing consistency and to offer concrete performance connection to the V12 Vantage road car.

The carmaker is expecting several customer teams to join the V12 Vantage on the starting grid of the race. Having clocked up four 24-hour race finishes and in excess of 20,000 miles on the endurance course, the yellow V8 Vantage called ‘Rose,’ and the inspiration for the N24 and GT4 program, will also return to the Northern Loop. Aston Martin considers the N24 and GT4 program as a big success up to this time. From its beginning in 2006, no standard N24 from the factory or customer team has failed to complete the 24-hour race in 13 global starts, a strong tribute to the Vantage’s durability.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

BMW pricing X5 M and X6 M performance SUVs in U.S.

Recently BMW has revealed pricing for the new X5 M and X6 M SUVs, which will start at $85,400 and $88,900, respectively, when they go on sale in the U.S. in the second half of the year. Full pricing and options, as well as pre-order sales, will be available from next month onwards.

BMW admits that it would like to draw customers away from vehicles like the Mercedes Benz ML63 AMG and Porsche Cayenne, and in an effort to make its M SUVs more appealing has fitted the pair with standard 20in wheels, sports seats, red needle gauges, and Merino leather trim.

Both models are powered by a newly-developed 4.4L V8 M engine delivering 555hp (412kW) at 6,000rpm and 500lb-ft (677Nm) of torque from a low 1,500 to 5,650rpm - enough to send the vehicles from 0-60mph in just 4.5 seconds.

This new M engine is the world's first with a pulse-tuned exhaust manifold encompassing both rows of cylinders combined with high-performance twin-scroll twin turbo technology. Two low-mass twin-scroll turbochargers are positioned together with the catalytic converters in the "V" section between the two banks of cylinders. By reversing the flow of gases through the engine from traditional arrangements, the intake and exhaust ducts are shortened and widened. The result is that pressure losses on the exhaust side are minimized.

This configuration, known as Cylinder-bank Comprehensive Manifold (CCM), offers quick turbo spooling, a linear build-up of engine power, and a broad, consistent torque curve by feeding each of the twin turbochargers with a "charge pulse" at approximately every 90 degrees of crankshaft rotation, rather than the more traditional "irregular schedule" of charging. Maximum boost pressure is set at 1.5bar (21psi).

BMW M engineers have also reworked the full drivetrain and chassis, adding new M-specific adaptive suspension, an uprated intelligent xDrive AWD system, and newly-developed Servotronic power steering.

Also featured for the first time on an M model is a six-speed automatic transmission, which for the X5 M and X6 M also comes with an electronic selector on the center console and offers three different driving modes – Drive, Sport and M Manual modes for absolute control of gear selection.

Corvette Grand Sport is back

The Grand Sport name last appeared on the Corvette in 1996, commemorating the end of the C4 era. Only 1,000 copies were built, all painted Admiral Blue. It also pays homage to five hand-built racing Corvettes from 1963 ordered up by chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov .Now, the Corvette Grand Sport is back!!
Set to roll in later this year as a 2010 model in both coupe and convertible bodystyles, the new Grand Sport combines the standard Corvette LS3-based powertrain with widebody styling and a race-bred suspension, and gives Corvette fans a new performance option between the standard model and sexy Z06.

The Grand Sport replaces the Corvette's previous Z51 package and brings a greater degree of handling performance, with wider wheels and tires, revised shocks, new stabilizer bar and spring specifications and new gearing. The equipment enables cornering capability of up to 1.0g, as well as a 0.2-second improvement in 0-60mph acceleration versus the standard LS3-powered models.

The engine’s output has been kept at 430hp (321kW) and 424lb-ft (575Nm) of torque, however, an optional two-mode exhaust system boosts output to 436hp (325kW) and 428lb-ft (580Nm).

Grand Sport coupe models equipped with the manual transmission are outfitted for race track competition, too, with a dry-sump oiling system, differential cooler and a rear-mounted battery. The manual transmission also comes with specific gear ratios, while automatic models get a modified rear axle ratio.

Specific modifications for the Grand Sport coupe and convertible include wider front and rear fenders with unique badging, a Z06-style front splitter and rear spoiler, new brake ducts, unique 18in wheels with 275mm tires up front and 19in units shod with 325mm rubber in the rear, Z06-spec brakes include 355mm rotors with six-piston calipers up front and 340mm rear rotors with four-piston calipers.

All of the Corvette's exterior colors are offered on the Grand Sport and an available ‘Heritage’ package adds iconic front fender hash marks offered in four colors, as well as two-tone seats with Grand Sport embroidery.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Audi Q3 will be launched in 2011,along with the Audi A1

Recently Audi released some details about the upcoming Q3, that will join the “Q” family in 2011. The Q3 will further expand the Q family. Around the same time we should also see the small city car A1.

The Q3 will be the third model in the Q series belonging to Audi, following the Q7 - recently facelifted and presented at the Shanghai Auto Show - currently manufactured in Bratislava, Slovakia, and the Q5 launched last year and produced in Ingolstadt, Germany.

Audi Q3 production site will be the SEAT site in Martorell, Spain. Manufacture will begin in 2011 with an annual production capacity of up to 80,000 units. The total investment will amount to around €300 million.

“Following in-depth consideration of all relevant factors and an extensive international comparison of various sites, we selected Martorell,” explained Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management at AUDI AG. This decision enables Audi to continue its strategy of growth and internationalization. Mr. Stadler added: “We are counting on this Spanish site’s efficiency, the excellent quality of the Production department, and its highly trained staff. We will use the Group’s synergies to sharpen our competitive edge and help protect around 1,200 jobs. The decision furthermore safeguards workplaces at other Audi locations.”

Having agreed that the Q3 will be manufactured in Spain, a decision about production in the USA has been postponed. Mr. Stadler: “We will systematically explore our options in the context of the current market crisis. Audi is in a good position. There is currently no urgent need to select additional sites.”

Q3 will be a coupé-like five-door SUV with characteristic of a typical SUV. According to Audi, the Audi Q3 will stand out thanks to a supremely sporty driving experience.

Toyota working on a hybrid version of the RAV4

According to Toyota’s managing officer Mr. Koei Saga at an industry conference in Shanghai, Toyota is planning to produce a hybrid version of the RAV4 SUV. No exact dates were given, but as Toyota plans to introduce 10 new hybrids globally by 2012 we expect RAV4 Hybrid to hit U.S. dealerships by 2011.

Mr. Saga also added: “I believe Toyota needs to accelerate the 2020 goal to hybridize all the Toyota models.”

RAV4 Hybrid would use Toyota’s third-generation hybrid system. Toyota RAV4 SUV/Crossover was introduced first in 1996 and during 1997-2003 it was also produced as an electric vehicle. Around 1,5000 RAV4 EVs were produced. It had a range of 100 miles and a top speed of 80 mph.

For some strange reason most of the cars were destroyed, but 328 examples made it to customers. At the time they were priced from $42,000. Today they are very rare and cost more than $70,000 if you can find one.

Gemballa Tornado 750 GTS: the 750 hp beast based on the Porsche Cayenne Turbo

The high-performance SUV is something of an oxymoron at first blush, but anyone that's taken the wheel of a Porsche Cayenne Turbo or Mercedes Benz ML-Class AMG knows it's possible. Gemballa takes the concept to the next level, dropping over 550lb (250kg) from the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and boosting power to 740hp (552kW).

The weight savings are perhaps the most welcome change to the highly tuned SUV, since most tuner kits add weight through more elaborate interiors and bulkier aero packages. Slashing over 550lbs of weight from the vehicle while bringing a full Alcantara and carbon-fiber interior to the table is an impressive feat, and a serious improvement over the stock vehicle and even its own limited-edition Tornado GTS.

Power is the real story here, however, with over 750 horses straining to break out from under the hood. The twin-turbo V8 cranks out a massive 740hp (552kW) or 750 metric horsepower - hence the name. Torque tops out at 775lb-ft (1,050Nm), and that's enough grunt to scoot the big - but now relatively light - vehicle to 62mph (100km/h) in just 4.3 seconds. That's near-supercar territory, as is the 186mph (300km/h) top speed.

Keeping the shiny side up is a custom supsension that allows the ride height to be adjustable by 70mm, suiting purpose and conditions with ease. Big 22x12in wheels at all four corners wrapped in 335/25 aspect tires helps keep the power and momentum under control. When the whole show needs to come to a stop, a set of six-piston brakes paired with 420mm discs up front and 380mm discs out back provide ample capacity.

The end result is impressive in every respect, including its impact on your wallet. Only 50 of the special-edition Tornado 750 GTS Cayenne Turbos will be built, at a price of €400,000 ($521,880) - yet another way that the Tornado delves into supercar territory.

Mercedes-Benz celebrates 100th anniversary of trademark with special-edition CL 500

To celebrate one hundredth birthday of the Mercedes three-pointed star and the Benz emblem, the company launched an exclusive edition of the CL 500 Coupe called “Trademark Centenary”.

The CL-Class has been acknowledged as a masterpiece of automobile engineering since its inception. It combines the comfort of a prestigious luxury saloon with the dynamism of a sports car, with a captivating design and trailblazing high-tech features. With its exclusive appointments, the special “100 years of the trademark” model underlines the special status of the CL.

The special-edition CL 500 gets a unique metallic graphite paint finish from Mercedes' 'designo' custom collection, an AMG sports package, top-grade, partly hand-stitched aniline leather, piano black lacquer trim elements and examples of the trademarks set into the center console. Power comes from the same 388hp (285kW) V8 found in other CL 500 coupes.

The AMG package includes a set of front, side and rear fascia treatments plus sport pedals and painted brake calipers. Special 20in split-spoke wheels in titanium grey - unique to the CL 500 Trademark Centenary edition - are shod with 255/35 rubber up front and 275/35 treads out back.

The 100th birthday of the Mercedes star is actually yet to come, however - it was first registered in June 24, 1909 by Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft. Just over a month later, on August 6, 1909, August Benz & Cie. registered the 'Benz' mark ensconced in a laurel wreath. The two marks didn't join forces until a year before the merger of Daimler and Benz, which took place in 1926.

By the way, the special “100 years of the trademark” model can be ordered with immediate effect, and will be available from 26 June as the CL 500 and CL 500 4MATIC. The extra price for the extensive and highly desirable additional appointments is 17,850 Euro incl. 19% German VAT.

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Audi launches new A4 2.0 TDI e

Diesels are getting more and more fuel efficient. Audi will launch A4 2.0 TDI e in Europe in June, with the first cars will be delivered. Pricing starts at €30,800. But Audi hasn't yet announced any plans to bring the car to the U.S.

Billed by Audi as the most efficient standard-sized sedan on the market, the A4 2.0 TDI e rates a healthy 51.13mpg US (4.6L/100km) in the EU's combined cycle. That works out to 119g/km of CO2 emissions - just 10g/km more than a second-gen Toyota Prius - and puts it head and shoulders above its petrol-powered competition at Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus - or even other Audis.
Diesels are getting more and more fuel efficient. Audi will launch A4 2.0 TDI e in Europe in June, with the first cars will be delivered. Pricing starts at €30,800. But Audi hasn't yet announced any plans to bring the car to the U.S.

Billed by Audi as the most efficient standard-sized sedan on the market, the A4 2.0 TDI e rates a healthy 51.13mpg US (4.6L/100km) in the EU's combined cycle. That works out to 119g/km of CO2 emissions - just 10g/km more than a second-gen Toyota Prius - and puts it head and shoulders above its petrol-powered competition at Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus - or even other Audis.

BMW and Mercedes both offer competitive diesels in Europe, but Audi thinks its A4 package will prove the most efficient. Even if it doesn't, Audi has shown over the last year that it has something special for the market, taking the sales title in its home market of Germany. The company even has plans to take over all of Europe by next year.

Power ratings of the 2.0L TDI engine sit at 136hp (100kW) - enough to shove the sedan to 62mph in 9.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 133.6mph (215km/h). A range of special efficiency-enhancing technologies have been employed on the TDI e model, including a start-stop function and neutral idle function, which together account for 2mpg (0.2L/100km) in fuel savings, or about 5g/km CO2.

For all the little details on how Audi managed to bring the fuel consumption to such a low level, take a look at the press release below.

A4 2.0 TDI e: Audi Unleashes the Most Efficient Standard-Size Sedan
• The new diesel-powered Audi A4 consumes a mere 4.6 l/100 km (51.13 US mpg)
• Emissions of just 119 grams of CO2 per kilometer (191.51 g/mile)
• Market launch in early June at a price of 30,800 euros
• A4 Avant also available as an ‘e’ model
Audi will soon launch the most efficient standard-size sedan. The Audi A4 2.0 TDI e will be available at dealerships starting in early June. Equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission, this sedan sips 4.6 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers (51.13 miles per U.S. gallon). It consequently emits a mere 119 grams of CO2 per kilometer (191.51 grams per mile): the best value of any vehicle in its class. “Efficiency is standard in every Audi. The A4 2.0 TDI e is particularly persuasive proof that efficiency, outstanding performance, comfort and driving enjoyment are not mutually exclusive,” says Michael Dick, Board of Management Member for Technical Development at AUDI AG. This ‘e’ model develops an output of 136 bhp (100 kW); it reaches 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 9.5 seconds and swiftly tops out at 215 km/h (133.59 mph). The sedan can be ordered now and costs 30,800 euros. This remarkably efficient A4 is also available as an Avant.

The combined impact of several features facilitates the vehicle’s increased efficiency. The standard start-stop system is especially effective during city driving. As soon as the vehicle comes to a stop, the shift lever is in neutral, and the driver removes his or her foot from the clutch pedal, the system turns the engine off. The engine then turns back on as soon as the clutch pedal is depressed.

The start-stop system functions extremely quietly, smoothly, and quickly. While the driver is stepping on the clutch pedal to shift into first gear, the engine instantaneously returns to its idle speed. In the standardized driving cycle, the start-stop system reduces fuel consumption by some 0.2 liters/100 km, which equates to about 5 grams CO2/km (8.05 g/mile).

Furthermore, this ‘e’ model features a 6-speed manual transmission with a final-drive ratio of the rear axle higher by five percent — enabling a reduction in engine speed in each of the six gears. The engine-management system has also been modified for maximum efficiency. The fuel-saving low-resistance tires (205/60 R 16) improve rolling resistance and are exclusive to the A4 model line’s ‘e’ model. Standard equipment also includes the recovery of braking energy. Aided by intelligent alternator regulation, this system converts surplus kinetic energy to electrical energy during a vehicle’s braking phases. This electrical energy is temporarily stored in the electrical system’s battery. When the vehicle resumes acceleration, the battery supplies this stored energy to the vehicle’s network — reducing the load on the alternator and thus saving fuel.

An on-board computer with efficiency program is also part of the standard-equipment package. The driver information system with gearshift indicator and efficiency-data display notifies the driver when it is sensible to shift gears to conserve fuel. The on-board computer displays all fuel-efficiency data on the center screen. These recommendations enable drivers to conserve fuel to the tune of 30 percent — simply by modifying their particular driving habits. Audi’s efficiency program continuously analyzes the vehicle’s energy consumption and gives the driver situation-specific advice on how to optimize fuel efficiency based on the given driving situation or driving style.

The A4 2.0 TDI e also consumes less fuel thanks to enhanced aerodynamics made possible by additional aerodynamic-drag optimizations such as an underbody trim panel, the partially enclosed radiator grille, and the reduction in ride height of 20 millimeters (0.79 inches) facilitated by the sports chassis.

The A4 2.0 TDI e is also available as an Avant. Its combined fuel consumption amounts to just 4.9 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers (48.00 miles per U.S. gallon). This Avant consequently emits 129 grams of CO2 per kilometer (207.61 grams per mile). The basic price for the Avant is 32,800 euros.

The Most Efficient Audi Models
The A4 2.0 TDI e is the fourth Audi ‘e’ model. Another ‘e’ model is the Audi A3 1.9 TDI e, available as a three-door hatchback or a five-door Sportback. It consumes 4.5 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (52.27 miles per U.S. gallon) and emits 119 grams of CO2 per kilometer (191.51 grams per mile). As a three-door model, the Audi A3 1.4 TFSI with start-stop system also achieves outstanding values, with fuel consumption at 5.7 l/100 km (41.27 miles per U.S. gallon) and CO2 emissions of 132 g/km (212.43 grams per mile). In the business sedan segment, the Audi A6 2.0 TDI e, available as a sedan and Avant, emits just 139 grams of CO2 per kilometer (223.70 grams per mile) while consuming just 5.3 l/100 km (44.38 miles per U.S. gallon). The Audi A8 2.8 FSI e was the first luxury sedan to remain under the threshold of 200 grams of CO2: 199 g/km (320.26 g/mile) at 8.3 l/100 km (28.34 miles per U.S. gallon). Although there is no ‘e’ in the model designation of the Audi TT 2.0 TDI quattro, it has attracted a lot of attention as a diesel sports car. The coupé’s fuel efficiency of 5.3 l/100 km (139 g/km CO2) [44.38 miles per U.S. gallon (223.70 g/mile CO2)] sets a benchmark in the sports-car segment. It accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in just 7.5 seconds and reaches a top speed of 226 km/h (140.43 mph).

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Audi rules out U.S. production for now, needs more local sales

Audi currently has no assembly or production facilities in North America but was reportedly considering starting a local operation to help avoid currency fluctuations from importing popular models from overseas. The company has announced today that it is postponing its decision on a North American plant for now, due mostly because of lack of volume in the market and a need to develop a suitable supplier network to source parts locally.

Audi's parent company, Volkswagen, is currently in the process of building a new plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and it’s possible, although unlikely for the near future, that Audi could use this plant for local production of its own models. Scheduled to open in 2011, the new plant makes sense for Volkswagen's "economies of scale" but does not oblige Audi to use its facilities in anyway, according to the current president of Audi of America, Johan de Nysschen, who spoke recently with Automotive News.

Furthermore, the VW plant will be mounting engines transversely for the VW platforms it will be working with, while Audi's engines must be mounted longitudinally - thus diminishing the efficiency of the plant overall and making the case for not producing Audi vehicles locally until more sales have been notched up.

Nysschen also stated that it’s possible the carmaker could purchase an already existing production facility, but before any steps are taken in this direction the volume of sales for Audi has to be increased. Last year Audi sold nearly 90,000 vehicles in the U.S., but the German carmaker is aiming to more than double this figure to 200,000 within the next 9 years. Should this goal be achieved then we might see Audi talking more seriously about production in North America.


Porsche Panamera hybrid and V6 models coming soon

We have reported that the new Porsche Panamera made its world debut at Shanghai Motor Show two days ago. For now, the four-door Porsche will only be offered in various V8-engined guises, but more economical engines are expected to be arriving soon - including a hybrid model.

Currently, Porsche has a Cayenne SUV prototype that uses a 3.0L V6 hybrid engine sourced from Audi, and it wouldn't be surprising if this engine found its way into the Panamera for the more environmentally conscious Porsche buyers out there.

Porsche purists may balk at the idea, but there is also expected to be a conventional V6 engine for the new Panamera - in other words, Porsche's famed flat-six won't likely be making an appearance in the new four-seater model.

Porsche's head of research and development, Wolfgang Durheimer, explained to Drive that the flat-six engine doesn't fit in the front of the Panamera because of the particular shape of the engine bay, as well as the fact that the suspension would get in the way.

A V6-engined variant will certainly bring down the cost of the cheapest Porsche Panamera, which for now resides with the Panamera S that starts at a little under $90,000. Assuming a petrol-powered V6 becomes the entry-level model, with conventional suspension rather than Porsche's air suspension system, we could see the Panamera drop a large amount of that $90,000 price tag.

An exact date hasn't been set for when the two variants will arrive, though they are expected to be launched by the end of the year. Until then, there's always the completely electric Porsche 911 from Ruf, although unfortunately it only features two seats.

Spy shots: 2010 BMW 5-series Touring

The 2010 BMW 5-series Sedan is set to arrive later this year as a 2010 model and heavily disguised prototypes have been seen testing around the streets of Munich on a number of occasions. These latest shots give us a look at the Touring model, which is expected to arrive roughly 12 months after the launch of the Sedan.

Under the car's new sheet metal, BMW will continue with its love of turbocharging. The new 4.4L twin-turbo V8 from the X6 is expected to appear in a range topping model, while more turbo-diesel variants are expected to join the lineup as well. BMW is currently developing its second generation common rail system for its diesel powerplants, which will operate at greater pressure for improved performance. The transmission systems will include a six-speed manual and a six-speed Steptronic semi-auto gearbox, however a new eight-speed unit from ZF is also expected to be available.

Performance will also be improved thanks to the extensive use of lightweight materials including carbon-fiber and aluminum. The car’s construction will be a hybrid of an aluminum spaceframe for the front section, and a traditional steel monocoque for the passenger compartment and rear. This will ensure a favorable front-to-rear weight distribution and improved handling. Up front will be an independent suspension with MacPherson struts, with a multi-link layout for the rear. High-performance models will include carbon-fiber body panels to shed even more weight.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Citroen revealed C4 Sedan facelift at Shanghai Motor Show

The Citroen C4 Hatch and Coupe underwent a mild facelift late last year as part of its mid-cycle update. The updated sedan has made its debut at Shanghai Motor Show (20 April 2009).

Picking up a new name for the Chinese market, C-Quatre, the version shown in China is a preview of the C4 Sedan that will be sold in Europe by the end of the year. The new model can be distinguished by its restyled front end and updated interior, while the engine lineup should mirror that of the standard Hatch.

Designers have added new upholstery and a new grain on several trim parts, and incorporated the rev counter in the middle of the dashboard. Engine-wise, the C4 Sedan is available with two new petrol engines co-developed with BMW under the EP family guise. The first unit, the VTi 120, replaces the 1.6i 16V engine and delivers 120hp (88kW) from its 1.6L displacement. The second unit, the VTi 150, features a turbocharger and delivers 150hp (110kW). VTi stands for “Variable valve lift and Timing Injection”.

The HDi diesel engine range remains, featuring 92 (69kW), 110 (82kW) and 140hp (104kW) outputs.

Inside, the new C4 Sedan boasts a richer array of telematics equipment, notably a new-generation navigation system that comes with a Bluetooth function and can be connected to portable electronic devices.

The European-specific model will make its debut at September’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

The Shanghai Show also saw the debut of the new Citroen corporate identity, which will roll out across Citroen’s 217 Chinese dealers this year through the 230 cities cover by Citroen in China. Citroen dealers employ 3100 staff in China and these are supported by 12 technical training schools and two sales training schools in Chengdu and Wuhan. The development of Citroen’s Chinese dealers has seen their position in JD Power customer service survey rise to fourth place in 2008.

Buick Business MPV concept makes debut in Shanghai Auto Show

Buick has been positively welcomed in China as a rival to Lexus and other established luxury brands. And at the 2009 Shanghai Auto Show, Buick release its amazing Buick Business MPV concept, which was intended to target China’s upper class. Unlike the handsome Buick Riviera Concept we saw at Shanghai a couple of years ago that was built in collaboration with GM's Chinese and American operations, the new Business concept has been penned and engineered completely by GM's Pan Asian Technical Automotive Center (PATAC).

While the Buick Business may not appear to be much from the outside apart from an MPV with a Buick grille slapped on the front, the old adage of not judging a book by its cover comes into play when you learn what the vehicle holds in store for its occupants - namely a mobile boardroom.

Inside the concept viewers will find rotating seats that can face one another, tables and other features to help the concept live up to its 'Business' moniker. Capable of holding up to six passengers, the car also features some flashy electric sliding doors, 20in wheels (presumably to intimidate any potential business partners) and a glass roof.

Driven by a 2.4L four-cylinder engine, the Business concept also features an electric motor, as is now the norm these days with major manufacturers, to represent Buick's commitment to electric power and saving the environment. In this vein, the concept also features a stop-start system and regenerative braking.

While it’s unlikely this sort of vehicle will ever make it to the U.S., Buick is big business for GM in China. Thus, there is speculation that this concept may just be the beginning point, or a general design direction, for a number of Chinese built and designed vehicles for that market.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ford's Fiesta became the most popular car in Europe in March

Figures from industry analyst firm JATO Dynamics said that Ford's Fiesta model has ousted the VOLKSWAGEN Golf, topped the list of most popular cars in Europe. According to JATO, it is the first time in a year that the Golf has dropped from top of the most bought car list.

The survey found there has been a particular growth in car sales in Germany and Italy, where scrappage schemes have been introduced by the governments.

"Germany and Italy are big markets for new cars and we're really seeing the commercial benefits brought about by the new incentives," said David Di Girolamo, head of JATO.

He added: "We will track the markets with interest as it will be important to understand if this is a short-term reaction by consumers or if it will have a prolonged effect on the market."

The results could encourage more people to buy used cars from Ford. The company has recently revealed its used car sector is performing well.

A recent sale of its new Ka and Fiesta models in the used car market saw the vehicles sold for an average of 85 per cent of their original cost.

The Ford Fiesta picked up the Car of the Year for 2009 and the Best Supermini accolades at the What Car? awards recently.

VOLKSWAGEN pricing New Hot Diesel Golf GTD in the UK

A new brother of the Golf GTI but powered by a diesel engine----the Golf GTD. Volkswagen has revealed pricing for this performance diesel vehicle. The new model is available to order at Volkswagen Retailers in the UK, with the first ones being shipped in June this year.

Prices will start at £21,850 RRP ‘on the road’ for the three-door, six-speed manual model. There is a £585 premium for the five-door model and a £1,305 for the six-speed DSG automatic gearbox.
Powering the new GTD is a refined 2.0-litre (1,968 cc) common rail TDI engine, producing 170 PS and a substantial 258 lbs ft of torque channelled via a six-speed manual or automatic DSG gearbox. This translates to effortless performance with the ability to accelerate to 62 mph in 8.1 seconds and a top speed of 138 mph. Combined with CO2 emissions of just 139 g/km and average fuel consumption of 53.3 mpg and a range in excess of 640 miles on a single tank of fuel, the GTD is a frugal yet exciting hot hatch.

The Golf GTD’s appearance differs significantly from the standard Golf. A new front bumper from the GTI sits below a honeycomb grille element framed by chrome horizontal fins and a prominent ‘GTD’ badge. At the rear, full body-coloured bumpers make the GTD appear lower and wider than it really is, while the Golf’s standard wheels are replaced with unique 17-inch ‘Seattle Black’ alloys.

Inside, the main contact points are unique to the Golf GTD – a flat-bottomed steering wheel, a leather gearshift and a standard tartan interior. The tartan finish is unique to the GTD and is subtly different from that found in the GTI, being grey, white and black, rather than red, white and black.

As with the entire Golf range, the new GTD will feature class-leading levels of safety with ABS, ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Programme) and seven airbags, including for the first time a knee airbag, all standard. Volkswagen's Golf was recently awarded the prestigious World Car of the Year 2009 at the New York International Motor Show, demonstrating the model's quality.

However, despite its success at the event, figures from industry analyst firm JATO Dynamics found that for the first time in a year, the model has been knocked off top spot in the European sales charts.

The Fiesta was the most popular car in Europe during March, the study found.

Opel launches 2010 Insignia OPC

Opel’s new Insignia OPC will make its world debut at the Barcelona Motor Show with the first deliveries to begin this fall, ten years after the launch of the first OPC model.

Packing 325hp (242kW), a sophisticated AWD chassis and a sub-six second 0-60mph time, it is set to take the midsize performance saloon market by storm. OPC, which stands for ‘Opel Performance Center,’ is the name given to models developed by GM’s official in-house tuner in Europe, and in the past has been used for cars like the Astra and compact Corsa hatchbacks.
OPC cars typically feature minor engine and handling mods as well as styling and performance upgrades such as bigger wheels and sporty bodykits. In the UK, the car will be known as the Vauxhall Insignia VXR.

The new Insignia OPC is the first model from the performance division to be offered with AWD and is available in hatch, saloon, and wagon bodystyles. Highlights are a ‘HiPerStrut’ (High Performance Strut) front suspension system, an adaptable AWD system with an electronic Limited Slip Differential and a 10mm reduction in ride height over the standard Insignia.

The HiPerStrut system is unique to the OPC model and serves two primary functions: firstly, to reduce torque-steer, but also to maintain negative camber during cornering, thereby improving ultimate grip levels in wet or dry conditions.

Complementing these features are standard 19in alloy wheels (20in lightweight forged alloys are optional), revised bushing and damper settings on both axles, and Brembo brakes with color-keyed calipers and vented and cross-drilled discs.

Drive comes from a 2.8L V6 turbocharged engine rated at 325hp (242kW), which is enough to send the car from 0-60mph in 5.8 seconds and an electronically controlled top speed of 155mph.

The sporting theme continues inside with Recaro front seats, a new steering wheel, gearknob and unique moldings, as well as different instrument graphics and sill plates.

GM’s Cadillac Converj given production green light

One of the most exciting cars from January’s Detroit Auto Show was the Cadillac Converj concept car, which General Motors used to showcase its plug-in hybrid technology in a luxury platform. Despite the concept featuring one of the most striking designs we’ve seen in a while, GM vice chairman Bob Lutz said it was designed so that any eventual production version would look “exactly like” the show car, hinting that we may eventually see such a car in showrooms.
The company’s financial state, however, says the opposite, but there remains a chance the Converj may make it out of the economic storm. GM in its viability plan presented to Congress in February outlined plans for two new plug-in hybrid vehicles, and today MotorTrend is reporting that the stylish concept has been given the green light for production.

According to an inside source, the new model will be on the road by 2011 if GM’s financial situation improves. The car would be based on the same Delta platform as the upcoming Chevrolet Volt, and power would also come from the same Voltec plug-in hybrid system. The source also revealed that a seven-seater MPV plug-in hybrid was in the pipeline – already previewed by the 2008 Chevrolet Orlando concept.

The Cadillac plug-in hybrid would feature extra batteries to power a higher-output electric motor than the one in the Volt. The styling of the vehicle would also be slightly different to the Converj concept as much of internal structure, such as the firewall, would need to be sourced from the taller Volt.

GM has consistently stated that its Voltec plug-in hybrid system would be used in other models to spread the investment costs as much as possible, and reports of a Cadillac plug-in hybrid date back as far as last August.

Source from:

Next-Generation Jaguar XJ Sedan Teased in Shanghai, Set to Debut in July

At 2009 Shanghai motor show, Jaguar released some new details about the automaker's highly-anticipated next-generation XJ sedan along with a teaser image and new video. Jaguar's managing director Mike O'Driscoll announced that XJ sedan will debut this July 9 in London before going on sale by the end of the year.

The new XJ will be the first model feature the next-generation of Jaguar's aerospace-inspired aluminum body architecture, and it will be available with the carmaker’s latest 3.0L V6 turbodiesel and 510hp 5.0L supercharged petrol V8. A plug-in hybrid variant is also rumored to be launched one year after the regular model, though no confirmation has been made on this yet.
As indicated by this new teaser, Jaguar designers have focused on alleviating many of the current XJ’s criticisms – namely the outdated styling and lack of engine options. One insider who had seen concept sketches for the car described it as looking like the C-XF’s features had been draped over an Aston Martin Rapide.

Previous spy shots revealed that the headlights will likely share some XF traits, though the rear could get fully-modern LED units of a unique design, possibly sharing hints of the Bentley Continental GT Flying Spur – one of the cars Jaguar would eventually like to rival with its new XJ.

High-tech features inside are said to include pressure sensing buttons, combined with backlit glass panels and the retracting transmission selector knob used in the XF.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Jeep Lower Forty and Wrangler Overland Concepts

The Mopar Underground design team is at it again, offering up such fantasy vehicles as the Jeep Lower Forty and Wrangler Overland Concepts. Recently, while Jeep rocked the house at this year’s New York auto show with its all-new 2011 Grand Cherokee, then it headed to Moab with a couple of extreme Wranglers to show at the 43rd Annual Moab Jeep Safari.

Jeep Lower Forty
The most extreme-looking of the two is the Jeep Lower Forty. Resembling the caricatured offspring of a Jeep Wrangler and a dune buggie, the Lower Forty in reality isn’t all that wacky. In fact, other than the modified body and enlarged fenders, the most extreme aspect of the Lower Forty are the massive 40x13.5-inch tires mounted on Mopar-designed 20-inch forged aluminum wheels. Under the skin, the Lower Forty is little more than a stock, two-door Wrangler Rubicon with a raucous 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 supplying 380 hp and 404 lb-ft of torque—no suspension lift. “The team’s goal was to achieve added ground clearance without altering the vehicle's center of gravity,” said Chrysler.

We guess that a low center of gravity was also part of why they chopped three inches of height from the windshield and increased its rake by 10 degrees. Other changes include a new domed carbon-fiber hood and a drop-down retro-style tailgate stamped with the Jeep logo. Inside, a shorter roll cage was installed, and the spare tire relocated to the cargo area, while the occupants, sitting on two-tone Katzkin leather seats, face a color-matched center console and instrument panel. Finally, the whole thing was painted “Red Eye No. 3,” which was custom-developed by the Mopar Underground team specifically for the Lower Forty.

The build team turned to the Mopar catalog for the vehicle’s mechanical upgrades. Beyond the 5.7-liter Hemi engine, the Lower Forty features a Getrag six-speed manual transmission. Mopar supplied a Dana 44 front axle and a Dana 60 rear axle, both equipped with 5:38 gears and Dynatrac-prepared ARB air lockers. We wholeheartedly approve.

Jeep Wrangler Overland
While the Jeep Wrangler has the “rock-crawler” market locked up as tight as its center differential in four-low, the “expedition” and “trekker” markets are all but ceded to Land Rover, which until very recently has offered larger, more practical, and far more comfortable vehicles to those that want to go not just anywhere, but everywhere. But now that the long-wheelbase, four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is here, a slog through a Belizean jungle or a camping expedition in New Mexico’s Rock Garden are possible as demonstrated by the super-versatile Wrangler Overland. It’s dolled up with a snorkel, a constellation of ancillary lights, and huge, 35-inch mudders at each corner, as well as a rigid painted roof and an all-new ARB two-person Simpson II rooftop-mounted tent and touring awning mounted to the cargo rack.

To increase cargo capacity for hauling gear, the Jeep Wrangler Overland’s rear seats were replaced with a flat, rubberized utility floor. The interior of the Jeep Wrangler Overland features water-resistant Mopar front-seat covers, slush mats, and a Daystar dash bin and lower switch panel.

A Mopar 2.5-inch suspension lift and a full-traction rear sway bar increase capability. American Expedition Vehicles’ steel bumpers are fitted front and rear and a Warn 9.5ti winch is bolted to the nose. And anyone that’s ever tried to push a winch-less Range Rover through two-foot-deep Belizean trail mud will appreciate that.

Working in Moab—Tough Gig
When asked about production feasibility, Chrysler spokesman Scott Brown admits that neither of these vehicles are destined for a Jeep showroom near you (“I don’t think you’ll see 40-inch tires from the factory,” he said wryly). Nonetheless, Chrysler maintains that the Mopar Underground design team is in the business of creating vehicle concepts meant to showcase performance parts, accessories, and customization possibilities. According to the chief designer at Chrysler’s Jeep/Truck design studio, Mark Allen, who oversaw the design of the Jeeps, “these vehicles are built with pride and passion for the Jeep brand by a small group of dedicated engineers, designers, and fabricators to explore and demonstrate the many facets of off-roading.”

As for introducing the concepts at Moab and not New York, it should be relatively obvious: “Moab Jeep Safari provides a great venue and works as a proving ground to test Jeep vehicle concepts driven alongside Jeep brand enthusiasts, who can provide immediate feedback at the event,” Allen said. “As a result, we use knowledge gained at this off-road event to explore new directions for Jeep platforms and to develop Mopar Performance parts and accessories to suit these vehicles.”

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Facelifted Mercedes Benz S63 and S65 AMG details

As Mercedes-Benz’s S-class gets a refresh for 2010, the high-performance AMG models will be updated as well. Executive limo accommodations, supercar power and sleeper-no-more looks are the key ingredients to Mercedes Benz's newly facelifted pair of S-Class AMG sedans. Photos and details released today reveal the S63 and S65 AMG sedans, both of which are now even more appealing thanks to a series of subtle fine-tuning measures.

LED accents abound, with the high-tech illumination powering daytime running lights, fog lights and tail lights. Inside it's the usual array of fine wood, leather, high-grade plastics and reserved color combinations.

The same engines as the current cars can be found once you pop the bonnets, since this is just a mid-cycle freshening. That means the S63 will be cranking 518hp (386kW) from its 6.2L V8 mill, while the S65's 6.0L V12 will spin up to 604hp (450kW) and 738lb-ft (1,000Nm) of torque. All that twist necessitates use of a 5-speed automatic transmission instead of the 7-speed unit found in the S63.

The new S63 capable of accelerating to a speed of 100km/h from rest in 4.6 seconds, while the S65 will do the same in just 4.4 seconds. Both saloons are electronically limited to 250km/h. Despite no changes having been made to the engine data and performance values, it has still been possible to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 3%.

The price is formidable, too. In Germany, pricing for the S63 AMG starts at 144,823 euros, S65 AMG starts at 221,221 euros. US pricing for the S63 AMG is likely $135,225 and $202,825 for the S65 AMG.

Carrera Qatar 2009

2010 Porsche Panamera makes world debut at Shanghai Auto Show

In a move that underscores the growing importance of Asian markets, Porsche send a "powerful message" about its commitment to Asian markets. Today, Porsche unveiled its new Panamera grand tourer at the Shanghai Auto Show, ahead of its official European sales launch scheduled for September. The car will arrive in U.S. showrooms just one month later, although only the V8 variants will be offer initially.

These include the naturally aspirated Panamera S, AWD 4S and the flagship Turbo. The Panamera S is powered by a 4.8L V8 developing maximum output of 400hp (294kW). Power is transmitted to the rear wheels as an option by Porsche’s seven-speed Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) double-clutch gearbox. Acceleration to 100km/h comes in 5.4 seconds and top speed is 283km/h.

The Panamera 4S features the same powerplant but thanks to AWD traction only needs 5.0 seconds to sprint to 100km/h. The range topping Panamera Turbo, meanwhile, sports a twin-turbo 4.8L V8 engine with a healthy 500hp (368kW) on tap. When equipped with the PDK the car will accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 4.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 303km/h.

All models will be available with PTM, Porsche Traction Management, and a unique new high-volume adjustable air suspension will also be available, offering a wide range of performance options including a Sport Plus mode that lowers the car even further, stiffens effective spring rates and lowering the center of gravity. The standard steel suspension is also available on all models.

The Panamera S will start at $89,800, while the AWD 4S will start at $93,800 and the flagship Turbo from $132,600. Later this year Porsche will introduce an entry-level V6 model and a petrol-electric hybrid.

Porsche made a last minute decision to swap the debut of the Panamera from last month’s Geneva Motor Show to this week’s Shanghai event. The decision for the shift was due to the increased importance in the Chinese market, in addition to rapidly growing neighbors such as India and Russia.

More than 8,190 Porsches were sold in China last financial year, and this was more than double the number of sales made the previous year. At the same time, sales in established markets, such as Germany, dropped by more than 5% over the same period.

Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking said he is hoping for "new market opportunities" and a "stronger presence" in regions like China and the Middle East.

Porsche has set a firm production rate of 20,000 Panamera per year, but if demand drops the rate will be reduced. "In no case will we produce too many," Wiedeking explained. "In that case, I would intervene myself."

Ford : F-150 SVT Raptor start from $38,995 in U.S.

With only about $3,000 more than a well-equipped F-150 FX4 model, one can buy a Ford F-150 SVT Raptor in U.S.

Ford has revealed pricing for the latest addition to its F-150 pickup truck line, the new 2010 F-150 SVT Raptor, which will start at $38,995. The pumped-up pickup is a purpose-built off-road version of the popular F-150 workhorse and first went on display at last year’s SEMA Auto Show in Las Vegas.

Utilizing experience gained from competing in the Baja 1000 desert race series, Ford has put together a comprehensive off-road package based around an all-new suspension set-up. The F-150 SVT Raptor comes with 13.4 inches of usable travel in the rear suspension and 11.2 in the front. Engineers changed the axle, added a new upper A arm, new lower A arm, new tie rod, and new half-shaft joints. The vehicle also features a seven inch wider track, electronic locking differential, and a hill descent control system.

In addition to this, the F-150 SVT Raptor also boasts a unique position sensitive damper system that allows its shock to become significantly stiffer as it travels, preventing the truck from bottoming out. The wheels are 17in cast aluminum units shod with 35in tires.

Power comes from the current 5.4L Triton V8 three-valve engine, which delivers 320hp and 390lb-ft of torque. A new open-valve fuel injection strategy improves the air-fuel charge conditions in the combustion chamber, allowing greater spark advance at higher loads and engine speeds. This delivers increased horsepower during towing and higher rpm operations, lower emissions and more efficient use of fuel. A new 6.2L V8 engine will be available after launch.

The F-150 SVT Raptor is built alongside the standard F-150 at Ford's Dearborn tuck plant in Michigan.