Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mercedes SL Facelift Revealed

Mercedes-Benz has just released details about the reworked SL range. We brought you leaked images of the new model last week, which showed a much more aggressive front end that resembles the headlights on the CLS and the grill of the CL. The new look certainly is more contemporary than before and does fit in well with the rest of Merc’s new range in terms of design but early comments have been the front can look awkward from some angles. Not much has changed at the rear in terms of design.

The SL is the world’s most successful premium roadster and has been in production since 1954 with the introduction of the 300 SL (Gullwing). In total, Mercedes-Benz has produced more that 630,000 SL roadsters. Mercedes-Benz describes the SL as sports car and while that might have been an apt description with the original models, there are those who believe that over the years the SL has grown to be more of a luxurious grand tourer than outright sports car, AMG models aside.

Engine options include two six-cylinder models, the SL 350 and a new SL 280 (170 kW/231 hp). The stalwart SL 500, with a V8 engine, and SL 600, with a V12 engine, will also feature in the new range.

Open-top drivers in cold climates will also appreciate that the SL now features the AIRSCARF system, introduced on the SLK. The interior has also been updated with a greater emphasis on the quality of the materials used. In particular, the more prominent stitching, such as on the console, makes the SL better prepared when compared to direct rivals, like the Aton Martin Vantage Roadster.

News on the handling front is that SL features a new direct steer system. The new system has variable rack ratio, which, compared to a constant ratio steering system, means that the driver does not have to move the steering wheel as much when cornering. According to Mercedes, this means that the car's response is more direct and that means that the drive will be sportier.

Speed-sensitive power steering is combined with the new system when driving slowly or parking to make it easier to park or maneuver thanks to the large ratio. We’ll have to wait for the road-tests to see if the new steering works as well in practice as it does in theory. The most interesting new feature is the Intelligent Light System, which provides five different light functions. According to Mercedes-Benz, these functions are designed specifically for typical driving situations and weather conditions.

The different modes include: country mode, motorway mode, enhanced fog lamps, cornering light function and active light function. The variable-control bi-xenon headlamps activate the various light functions automatically. With the motorway mode, for example, is activated in two stages when the speed of the car exceeds 90 km/h and increases the driver's range of vision by up to 60 percent.

Familiar Mercedes-Benz tehnology like the Command and Linguatronic (voice operating) system also feature while convenience features, like Keyless-Go are now standard. The facelifted SL-Class will introduced in March at the Geneva Motor Show and will land in European dealerships in April 2008.

Press Release

Sportier than ever before

Mercedes-Benz will continue its long tradition of producing legendary sports cars when it launches the new-generation SL-Class in spring 2008. The world's most successful premium roadster in its class features a new design with the emphasis firmly on sportiness and effortless assurance. These traits are also reflected in the handling qualities of the two-seater model, which now delivers even more athletic performance thanks to the new direct-steer system as well as offering enhanced comfort and safety. The SL 350 is powered by a newly developed, extremely high-revving sports engine boasting an impressive output of 232 kW/316 hp yet returns a fuel consumption figure that is 0.4 litres per 100 kilometres lower than that of its predecessor (NEDC). The SL range will now feature two six-cylinder models in the shape of the SL 350 and the new SL 280 (170 kW/231 hp) as well as the familiar SL 500 with a V8 engine and the top-of-the-range SL 600 with a V12 powerplant. The Mercedes sports car extends its lead in the safety stakes courtesy of bi-xenon headlamps, included as standard, and the Intelligent Light System whose light functions are designed specifically for typical driving situations. Further new features on board include AIRSCARF neck-level heating. This system - invented by Mercedes-Benz and available as an optional extra - enhances comfort when driving with the roof down, extending the roadster season until well into the winter months. SL passengers are kept informed and entertained by the standard-fit COMAND multimedia system, which has also been fully redeveloped and features additional functions.

The new-generation SL caps a glorious history of Mercedes sports cars, which began in 1954 with the introduction of the legendary 300 SL "Gullwing", followed in 1957 by the launch of the first SL Roadster. To date, the Stuttgart manufacturer has produced a total of over 630,000 SL sports cars.

Like its predecessors, the new-generation SL also merits its "incomparable" tag. No other sports car in this market segment offers such a perfect balance of sportiness, safety and comfort. These three qualities are the cornerstones of highly eventful, active motoring that provides a profound sense of well-being - for hallmark Mercedes refinement at the highest, sportiest level.

New design idiom with unmistakable sporty overtones

When it came to developing a concept and design for the new-generation SL Class, the Mercedes-Benz engineers set out with the aim of accentuating the Roadster's sporty attributes even more strongly than before. This aspiration is reflected in the new front-end design featuring as its centrepiece a wide and, therefore, very dominant radiator grille whose V shape symbolises sporty virtues such as forwards thrust and performance potential.

A horizontal louvre makes the radiator grille appear wider and, in doing so, emphasises the powerful aspect of the SL's front end, making it seem surprisingly new yet also very familiar. By using expressive stylistics in this way, the Mercedes designers are able to forge a link with the SL's history and create a front-end design that is reminiscent of the earlier SL Roadster models, which also expressed their poise and assurance through wide, very distinctive radiator grilles. Hence the front-end design of the new-generation SL shows Mercedes-Benz taking the styling of the legendary sports car to the next level.

The designers also pay homage to the forefather of the SL model series: the two powerdomes on the bonnet and the gill-style air outlets in the front wings are unmistakable hallmarks of the 300 SL from 1954 and have been given a modern interpretation for the new Mercedes sports car.

These classic design features drawn from five decades of roadster tradition are in stylish harmony with new elements of the modern Mercedes design idiom, including the distinctive V-shape of the front section and, above all, the headlamps, which are drawn deeply into the flanks, thus further emphasising the impression of breadth at the front end. As well as giving the SL a highly contemporary look, this striking headlamp design also sees the Roadster continuing its traditional role as a trendsetter. Just like its predecessors, the new generation SL features a front-end design that will serve as a template for future Mercedes passenger cars.

At the rear, too, the new-generation SL demonstrates its sporty nature even more clearly than before. This is achieved above all by a new, diffuser-look bumper which adds a motorsport touch. In conjunction with the equally new trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes this design element emphasises the width of the body, further symbolising the power just waiting to be unleashed by the roadster.

READ MORE - Mercedes SL Facelift Revealed

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Corvette ZR1 Police Car

Imagine cruising in Michigan, going a smidge over the speed limit, when you see through your rear-view mirror a ZR1 with mars lights racing up behind you. If you're anything like us, you would probably need to change your Jockeys after such a sight.

Luckily for us, the Michigan State Police Corvette ZR1 Bob Lutz posted to the GM FastLane Blog earlier today is not exactly a reality. Lutz is the Vice-Chairman at General Motors. We called the Michigan State PD just to be safe, and they assured us that they are not taking possession of any $100,000 cars... no matter how fun it would be to drive.

The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 has a LS9 supercharged 6.2L V8 engine, getting 620 horsepower and 595 ft-lb of torque. With a race hardened six-speed manual transmission, gigantic brakes, suspension providing more than 1g cornering grip, and a dual-disc clutch, you would have a very difficult time outrunning the 5-0. 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds is nothing to take lightly.

"I think Lutz was just having fun," the police spokesman said.

Although it would be cool to see helicopter video of one of these ZR1 chasing down drug runners and human traffickers coming into Michigan after taking a shipment at the Port of Indiana, for now that type of thing will just have to play out on the big screen.

READ MORE - Corvette ZR1 Police Car

BRABUS presents PowerXtra D6 BLUE Kit

When the aftermarket applies its go-faster magic to Mercedes products, it usually focuses on the already-hot AMG versions. BRABUS has set its sights a bit greener with its just-introduced Power Xtra D6 BLUE kit developed specifically for the new E300 BLUETEC. The kit boosts the diesel's output by 47 horses.

The power gain is accomplished by means of an auxiliary engine management system that's designed to work in harmony with the BLUETEC's special catalysts and exhaust filters. The result is 258 horsepower and a stunning 450 ft-lb of torque from the 3.0 liter diesel V6. BRABUS claims a 6.8-second 0-62 mph sprint and a limited top speed of 155. The power gain is accomplished with no loss of fuel economy, as well. A modified suspension, brakes, wheels, body kit and stainless exhaust are also available from BRABUS for the E300, but are not part of the performance package.

BRABUS has been tuning Mercedes' diesels since 2001, when the E V8 became one of the first clean-burning diesel performance sedans. The D6 BLUE kit continues that tradition by meeting EURO V emissions standards set to go into effect in 2011.

Press Release

BRABUS PowerXtra D6 BLUE Power Kit for the E 300 BLUETEC

A powerful engine and exemplary environmental friendliness are not mutually exclusive: The motor engineers of BRABUS have developed the BRABUS PowerXtra D6 BLUE performance kit for the new Mercedes E 300 BLUETEC. It boosts power output of the cleanest diesel car on the market by 47 hp / 35 kW. The new BRABUS tuning technology makes BRABUS the first automobile tuner to meet ultra-stringent EURO V exhaust limits which won’t go into effect until 2011. The Mercedes E 300 BLUETEC with BRABUS PowerXtra D6 BLUE tuning stayed below permissible exhaust limits of EURO V by up to 65 percent.

Powerful and clean tuning for diesel engines is a long BRABUS tradition. The BRABUS E V8 Diesel from 2001 was the first diesel car ever to be equipped with a particulate filter. It met today’s EURO IV emission limits even long before they became law.

Using state-of-the-art test-bench technology in the company-own R&D center the BRABUS development team has developed a special auxiliary module for the electronic engine management system of the E 300 BLUETEC. BRABUS mapping is specifically calibrated to the environmentally friendly BLUETEC concept that features an oxidation catalyst, particulate filter and BLUETEC SCR catalyst.

After the conversion operation, which any authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer can perform, the engine produces 258 hp (255 hp SAE net) / 190 kW at 3,700 rpm. The engine’s torque grows by a healthy amount as well: Between 1,600 and 2,400 rpm the torque curve reaches a new high of 610 Nm (450 lb-ft), up from standard 540 Nm (398 lb-ft). Thus powered the BRABUS-tuned car sprints from rest to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 6.8 seconds and reaches an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph).

In everyday driving the 3-liter V6 engine with BRABUS D6 BLUE kit harmonizes perfectly with the seven-speed automatic gearbox. The engine delivers excellent performance with even further improved pulling power from low engine speeds, which benefits overall fuel economy. Despite the improved performance fuel consumption remains on the low level of the production car.

The BRABUS PowerXtra D6 BLUE power kit for the E 300 BLUETEC is available for 1,790 Euros MSRP. Like all BRABUS components the kit is backed by the one-of-a-kind BRABUS Tuning Warranty® of three years, up to 100,000 kilometers or 62,000 miles (see BRABUS warranty conditions as of November 2006). BRABUS also offers a power kit for the E320 BLUETEC model available in the USA and Canada.

An efficient complement to the BRABUS D6 BLUE power kit is the BRABUS sport exhaust system with four polished tailpipes. The fully stainless-steel exhaust system lends the common-rail diesel engine a throatier exhaust note and optimizes power yield.

To add sporty emphasis to the elegant lines of the W 211-series E-Class the BRABUS designers have developed a sporty aerodynamic-enhancement kit, manufactured from Pur-R-Rim in OEM quality.

BRABUS one-piece and multi-piece light-alloy wheels for the E 300 BLUETEC are available in four different designs and in sizes ranging from 8.5Jx17 to 10.5Jx20. The optimal tires in any size come from technology partners Pirelli and YOKOHAMA, up to the largest possible tire sizes for the E-Class, size 245/30 ZR 20 in front and 295/25 ZR 20 on the rear axle.

Also available for the E-Class sedan are custom-tailored BRABUS suspension solutions such as lowering modules, sporty yet comfortable complete suspensions, a special control module for the optional air suspension, and sport stabilizers that reduce body roll during cornering.

BRABUS high-performance brake systems for the Mercedes E-Class are available in three different versions.

Another BRABUS specialty is the creation of luxurious customized interiors. The range of products includes stainless-steel scuff plates with illuminated BRABUS logo, various types of ergonomically shaped sport steering wheels, and even an exclusive BRABUS interior crafted from a combination of especially soft yet durable BRABUS Mastik leather and Alcantara.

READ MORE - BRABUS presents PowerXtra D6 BLUE Kit

BMW X5 by Hamann

After a long series of mods on several BMW models, HAMANN has now created a series of pretty special X5 models, clad with a range of 20, 22 and 23-inch wheels, smoked to perfection, HAMANN style.

Pimping this car stylistically hasn’t been the only thing on HAMMAN’s minds though. Touches have gone beyond the ordinary, with changes visible from flat-bottomed, velvet-covered (aka alcantara) steering wheel, foot pedals clearly meant for performance purposes and extensive I.C.E. options.

This being a HAMANN, as opposed to a Versace conversion, performance has to match the talk. And in this regard the four engine plants fitted in the standard car have received treatment that goes a little beyond what Munich intended. At the forefront is the 4.8i V8, which, under normal circumstances, makes “only“ 265kW/ 355 bhp. HAMANN then gives it 278kW/ 373 bhp. It may not look like much on paper, but the 4.8i is already a quick one off the mark anyway. Next is the 3.0sd, upped from 210kW/ 286 bhp to 235kW/ 320 bhp and a stonking 660Nm of torque. Should be a crowd puller of note.

Down another notch is the 3.0d, turbo diesel as well, pulling off 195kW/ 265 bhp and 600Nm. We suspect the next upgrade on the production 3.0d will bear pretty close to this power figure, although torque may be lower. Lastly, but not least at all, is the petrol/gasoline 3.0si, now pushing 210kW and 335Nm.

While passengers enjoy the I.C.E. provided, driver can roll down his window and listen to deep notes from the rear, courtesy of sports headers, sports metal catalytic converters (for the petrol/ gasoline engines) and a silencer.

So what does HAMANN call all this? Simply, Flash. Not just because it’s all flashy, but also because that’s about the same sensation you will feel as it, well, as it literally flashes by.

Press Release

New BMW X5 with wide body modifications from HAMANN
Wide body-aerodynamic parts “Flash” for brawny appearance
Increase in performance for 3.0si, 3.0d, 3.0sd and 4.8i;
Agile road handling through sport springs; sport brake system in front and rear
Four wheel designs available in three sizes

One of the most successful cars of its class is the BMW X5. BMW only recently introduced its latest successor and HAMANN has already put together a complete program for the new X5. Hardly any area has been left untouched. Whether it’s suspension, wheels, performance, interior or aerodynamics, the Laupheim German specialists provide clear individualisation launching far above the norm. Wide-body-parts arrange an especially brawny appearace, making the X5 become the HAMANN “Flash”.

Quite flashily-dressed

New aerodynamic components are mandatory hence HAMANN begins with a new, wider front spoiler that lends the SAV X5 a significant powerful feature. In back HAMANN added a rear apron seizing the design of the front spoiler to match. Between front and rear, HAMANN adds fender extensions, which complete the wide body “Flash” looks. A further sporty accent shines through with the HAMANN roof spoiler, providing a stabilizing effect. It marks the icing on the cake of this extremely impressing “Flash”.

With such a large vehicle, every miniscule of power counts. For this reason, HAMANN reprogrammed the series-produced Motronic. The X5 3.0si received subsequently a power boost to about 14 bhp/10kW and 25 Nm more torque. The X5 3.0d (stock power: 235 bhp/173 kW) is raised by the tuners to 265 bhp/ 195 kW and 600 Nm, the X5 3.0sd (stock power: 286 bhp/210 kW) to 320 bhp / 235 kW and 660 Nm. The 8-cylinder model 4.8i jumps by 18 bhp/ 13 kW for more power and torque increase as well.

Not an easy choice!

Pondering over wheel choices will require the majority of customers´ time. Here are four designs of choice for the “Flash” including PG3, Anniversary I and II as well as Edition Race.
The noble tuners from Laupheim present a multi-pieced wheel PG3 available in silver finish with high-polished flange. It´s characterized through the sporty five-spoke design.
The one-pieced wheel Anniversary I portrays a light footing with its´ multi-spoke design. HAMANN supplies these in silver or black matt finish with INOX stainless steel lip flange. The multi-pieced light alloy wheel Anniversary II exhibits a multi-spoke design as well projecting a feeling of pure motor sports. The silver rims with high-polished flange reflects both nobility and luxury simultaneously.
The appearance of the three-piece, ultra light forged wheels Edition Race in crossing spoke design and black wheel spider is identified through its´ nine main spokes double-attached, branching and continually double-crossing towards the outside rim. Its´ stirring design becomes particularly noticeable through Titan studs. The high-polished flange is icing on the cake to complete this luxurious look.

PG3 and Anniversary I are available through HAMANN for the X5 in 20 and 22-inch, Anniversary II in 22-inch and the wheel Edition Race comes in an impressive 23-inch. Naturally HAMANN offers the wheels in form of complete wheel sets.

Typical wheel / tire combinations:
Edition Race: FA/RA 10,5 J x 23 315/25R23 102Y XL
PG3: FA /RA 9,5 J x 22 295/30 ZR 22
PG3: FA/RA 9,5 J x 20 295/40 ZR 20
Anniversary II: FA/RA 10,5 J x 22 295/30 ZR 22
Anniversary I: FA/RA 10,5 J x 22 295/30 ZR 22
Anniversary I: FA/RA 10,5 J x 20 295/40 ZR 20
Anniversary I: FA/RA 10,5 J x 20 FA 275/40 ZR20 / RA 315/35 ZR 20

By using a set of progressive suspension springs, HAMANN reduces the center of gravity for the X5. For those vehicles that have level regulation, it is lowered to about 40 mm in front, and for vehicles without level regulation or air suspension to about 40 mm in front and about 30 mm in back. Through this, the X5 receives a bit of agility back which, in contrast to its´ predecessor model, had suffered somewhat due to its bigger size.

The specifically developed HAMANN brake system for the front axle with slotted and ventilated brake discs sized 405x34 millimetres, aluminium disc chamber, sports brake linings and steelflex brake pipes. The six-piston fixed calliper disc brakes in silver complete the system and apply a powerful grip. At the rear axle an four-piston brake system with slotted and ventilated brake discs sized 345x28mm plus the same hardware as above support the system working at the front.

The growling thunder matching the name “Flash” is generated by a HAMANN-exhaust system. It consists of sports headers (gas engine), sports metal catalytic converters (gas engine) and a sports rear silencer. Last mentioned can be ordered either as 2-pipe (oval, 145mm in diameter) or as 4-pipe-variant (round, 76 mm diameter) made from stainless steel.

Interior modifications per request

Large vehicles such as the BMW X5 are tailor-made for travel. Due to this, HAMANN also modified the interior. Travellers should have the drive be as comfortable as possible and additionally should provide a feast for the eyes. HAMANN´s accessories such as an exclusive foot mat flooring in black, a foot pedal of aluminium or even an aluminium foot rest enhance the cockpit of the X5. Naturally HAMANN also modifies each BMW X5 for personalized customer requests. For example, extravagant leather decor is available in a variety of colours or an elaborate multimedia alterations including DVD, TV and Play station.

READ MORE - BMW X5 by Hamann

Alfa Romeo Spider by Novitec

Novitec has added some finishing touches to the new Alfa Romeo Spider, just in time for the cabrio season. The open two-seater was voted Cabrio of the Year 2006 after its launch at the Geneva Motor Show that year.

Novitec has designed a new front bumper and rear diffuser to underline the aerodynamics and to make it stand out from the factory spec Spiders. Novitec also bolted on a new stainless steel rear silencer accentuating the sound, while the four tailpipes (115x85 mm ovals) add some aggressiveness to the back end.

Novitec also supplies some new footwear for the Alfa Spider, 20 inch N9 multi-piece rims wrapped in Pirelli 255/30R20 rubber while the suspension, adjustable in height from 35 mm to 75 mm and ride stiffness, ensures optimum grip.

READ MORE - Alfa Romeo Spider by Novitec

BMW 320d Cabrio and 125i to Debut at Geneva

Today, BMW UK spilled the beans on their Geneva world debuts, the ones they want us know about in advance. No big surprises yet, BMW will show the new BMW 320d Convertible and 125i Coupé to an eager audience at the Geneva Motor Show starting March 4 alongside an EfficientDynamics Concept car.

The BMW 320d Convertible uses a 2.0 liter engine, also found in the other 320d models, producing 177 hp and 350 Nm of torque. The cabrio will accelerate from stand-still to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 8.6 seconds, has a top speed of 139 mph (224 km/h) and manages a very respectable 53.3 mpg. The 320d Cabrio will go on sale in March 2008 priced at GBP 33,110 in the UK (approximately 44,500 Euro) while the M Sport model is priced slightly higher at GBP 35,735 (48,00 Euro).

The BMW 125i is the fourth model in the new BMW 1 Series line-up, following the 135i M Sport, 120d and 123d. The BMW 125i is equipped with a 218 hp 3.0 liter engine which propels the small coupe to 62 mph in just 6.4 seconds only to stop accelerating at 152 mph (245 km/h). The two-door coupe also features BMW's EfficientDynamics ensuring a 35.8 mpg. The 125i goes on sale in March and also comes in two guises, the 125i Coupe SE priced in the UK at GBP 23,195 (31,200 Euro) and the M Sport with 18-inch alloy wheels, sport seats and body kit priced at GBP 25,050 (33,700 Euro).

As always we expect to see a surprise concept from BMW at the major European shows, but we will have to wait and see what it will be. Stay tuned for our Geneva coverage this March.

Press Release

The new BMW 320d Convertible and BMW 125i Coupé

  • New Convertible and Coupé models make world debut alongside EfficientDynamics concept car and M3 Convertible at Geneva Motorshow.
  • New BMW X6 makes European debut at Geneva Motorshow.
  • BMW 1 Series, 3 Series and X3 receive specification upgrades.

BMW UK has announced additions to the 3 Series Convertible and 1 Series Coupé ranges. The new BMW 320d Convertible and 125i Coupé will receive their world debuts at the Geneva Motorshow in March alongside an EfficientDynamics concept car and a raft of other new models.

Highlight of the BMW stand at the Geneva Motorshow will be a concept car showcasing the outlook and future direction of BMW’s innovative EfficientDynamics programme. It will appear alongside the worldwide debut for the forthcoming BMW M3 Convertible with M Double Clutch Transmission. The new BMW X6 and 1 Series Convertible also make their European debuts.

The new BMW 320d Convertible

Following the announcement of the new BMW M3 Convertible at one extreme of the open-top car spectrum, BMW introduces the most frugal Convertible in the 3 Series range, the 320d. Available in both SE and M Sport guises, the new 320d uses the same 1,995 cc engine from other 320d models in the 3 Series range to offer 177hp and 350Nm of torque.

This single-turbocharged two-litre diesel engine propels the 320d Convertible from zero to 62mph in 8.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 139mph. EfficientDynamics plays a part in the car’s performance with stop-start technology on manual cars, a second-generation common-rail injection engine, and a Diesel Particulate Filter fitted as standard. These technologies ensure that the new 320d Convertible is BMW’s most frugal open-topped 3 Series, delivering an impressive 53.3mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of just 140g/km.

The 320d SE Convertible is priced at £33,110 OTR with the M Sport model priced at £35,735 OTR. Both models go on sale in March 2008.

The new BMW 125i Coupé

The BMW 1 Series Coupé range has been strengthened with the addition of a fourth derivative. The six-cylinder 125i joins the twin-turbo 135i M Sport, the four-cylinder 120d, and the 123d that features the world’s most powerful four-cylinder diesel engine in a production car.

Generating 218hp from its 2,996 cc engine, the new 125i Coupé accelerates from zero to 62mph in 6.4 seconds and achieves a top speed of 152mph. EfficientDynamics ensures that this level of performance doesn’t compromise the car’s consumption and emissions with the two-door Coupé delivering 35.8mpg on the combined cycle and emitting 190g/km of CO2.

The new 125i Coupé SE costs £23,195 OTR while the M Sport derivative, with its 18-inch alloy wheels, sport seats and body styling, costs £25,050 OTR. The new BMW 125i Coupé goes on sale in March 2008.

Other Geneva Motorshow introductions

The new BMW M3 Convertible

The new BMW M3 Convertible is the fourth generation of BMW’s open-topped M3 and the first M car to feature a Retractable Hard-Top. It is also the first car to feature BMW’s new seven-speed M Double Clutch Transmission (M DCT) as an option. Changing gear using either paddles on the steering wheel or the gear lever, the new M DCT gearbox has the next gear pre-selected in readiness and changes gear in just a few milliseconds. The M DCT-equipped car also outperforms the manual gearbox car in terms of outright performance, economy and emissions.

The new M3 Convertible’s engine develops 420hp at 8,300rpm and 400Nm of torque at 3,900rpm from its 3,999cc V8-power unit. When equipped with its standard six-speed manual gearbox, this engine powers the car from zero to 62mph in 5.3 seconds and on to an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph. However, even with these supercar levels of performance, BMW’s EfficientDynamics programme ensures that economy is not compromised with the car delivering 21.9mpg on the combined cycle.

The new BMW X6

The new BMW X6 Sports Activity Coupé is the latest in BMW’s X family of Sports Activity models. It’s also the first time that BMW has combined the safety and convenience of the command driving position with the on-road performance of a sports car, all wrapped in a coupé body style.

In another BMW first, the entire model range is turbocharged with the X6 offering a quartet of forced induction power plants. The range flagship is an all-new twin-turbocharged V8, the X6 xDrive50i, producing 408hp. The configuration of the new V8 engine is unique too. It is the first engine in the world to locate twin-turbochargers and a catalytic converter within the vee of the engine.

The V8-engined car is joined by the 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged six-cylinder petrol-engined X6 xDrive35i producing 306hp.

The X6 will also offer two turbocharged diesel-powered derivatives. The BMW X6 xDrive30d is powered by a single-turbocharged six-cylinder diesel engine featuring third-generation common-rail fuel injection and producing 235hp. The BMW X6 xDrive35d uses an award-winning twin-turbocharged six-cylinder diesel engine to produce 286hp.

BMW specification enhancements

From March, all BMW 1 Series, 3 Series and X3 models receive floor mats and front seat ISOFIX child seat fixings as standard.

Purchasers of BMW 3 Series Saloon and Touring models now also benefit from navigation and visibility value-added packages. Media Package – Business offers customers Business navigation (complete with map and arrow view), Bluetooth mobile telephone connectivity and BMW’s ConnectedDrive Assist and Online for a package price of £1,645 (£2,115 on ES). This represents a significant saving of up to £635 compared to the individual option pricing.

Media Package – Professional upgrades Business navigation with Professional navigation (complete with its widescreen format and perspective map view), and adds Voice Control, all for a package price of £1,935 (£2,405 on ES), saving up to £745.

BMW 3 Series Saloon and Touring customers can also specify the Visibility Package. Ideal for motoring in the dark winter months, the package contains Adaptive Xenon headlights, Headlight washers, Rain sensor with automatic headlight activation and BMW’s innovative High-beam assistant. Priced from £605, this package saves the customer up to £270 compared to ordering the individual options.

Buyers of twin-turbo BMW 123d and 135i models can opt for an automatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddles for £1,505.

Finally, prospective owners of 1 Series cars now have a significantly wider colour choice. Jet Black, Crimson Red, Monaco Blue metallic, Bluewater metallic, and Sparkling Graphite metallic are being introduced on Convertible models at its launch. Bluewater metallic will also be available on 1 Series Coupé, 3 and 5-door Hatch models, with Tahiti Green metallic also available on the Hatch.

READ MORE - BMW 320d Cabrio and 125i to Debut at Geneva

Monster Motorbike For Motor Show

The Australian monster will be on show at the Melbourne Motor Show which runs from 29 February. What’s the Australian monster, you might ask? Is it a mutant kangaroo? No. Is it perhaps a pet Tazmanian devil? Wrong again. It’s a 13 ton/ 28 660 pound two-wheeler devised by Ray Baumann, a man who used to make a living out of trying to stop his own living. He was a stunt driver who has also driven trains, among other lifestyle activities.

Powered by a Detroit Diesel truck engine, mated to a 6-speed Allison automatic, this thing stands almost 9 metres/ 29.5ft long and more than 3 metres/ 9.8ft high. In fact, as seen in these pics, a full grown man doesn’t even stand up to one of the Monster Motorbike’s wheels. Caterpillar provided these wheels straight from their front-end loader, a beast on its own, used to terrorizing the earth in all manner of sorts.

"We did stunt driving for quite a few years, broke a few records and broke my back a few times, so this is a way of taking a bit more care," says Baumann.
"Now we crush things, which is definitely less risky than jumping them - we still do jump things, but not at the Melbourne Motor Show."
The thrill it appears, comes from rolling over smaller objects like school buses or trucks like a Ford’s F 150 for instance.
READ MORE - Monster Motorbike For Motor Show

Ford developing turbocharged F-150

Dodge started a trend with the mighty (flawed) V10-powered Ram. Ford is now rumoured to be reenacting that scene with a turbocharged F150. says the Raptor, as it is codenamed, will be longer than the standard vehicle. Lower suspension, wider track, uprated brakes, Fox Racing-developed shocks, are just some of the “improvements” expected. Standard tyre size will range between 30 and 35 inches, thus stupefying almost anything else next to it.

A V8 turbo is not out of the question, something in excess of 500 bhp/ 373kW, and top speeds not normally associated with an event of this magnitude. Looks will be vastly different from the pictures you see of the standard vehicle.

We are by no means averse to such a development; as car nuts we get sweaty palms over such news. Yet we cannot help but ask ourselves, where on earth would this Raptor be driving at high speeds? California maybe. Autobahn? Probably not. Definitely not in mainstream Australia. These aren’t earth-shattering questions, but come from sheer curiosity.

- Note: an early version of this story reported that the vehicle might come to 12m in length. What were we smoking? Please disregard this gross editing error. These green gremlins are everywhere!

READ MORE - Ford developing turbocharged F-150

Sunday, January 27, 2008

2009 Hummer H3T

It is time to reveal the new pick truck, which will be presented to the public in the next Chicago Auto Show. It would take a little longer for us to have the official images, but the magazine Truck Trend broke the embargo date (February 1, 2008) in its last issue.

The Hummer H3T is build on the Chevrolet Colorado /H3 architecture. Although based on the SUV, the H3T’s wheelbase is 8,6 cm larger, reaching 3,41 m and allowing the presence of a pretty reasonable separate bed, with 1,5 m. The crew cab ca carry up to five passengers.

Engine options range from a Vortec 3.7L I-5 with dual overhead cams and variable valve timing that generates 245 bhp at 5,600 rpm and 328 Nm at 4,600 rpm, mated to a five-speed manual transmition or an optional four-speed automatic gearbox, to the Hummer H3 Alpha’s engine, a 5.3-liter small block V8 that delivers 304 bhp and 433 Nm. For this option, the four-speed automatic transmition is standard, as well as the towing capacity of 2,676 kg.

If the H3T owner wants to use it in difficult terrains, the off-road capabilities of the new Hummer pickup truck can be maximized with the Off-Road Adventure suspension package. Besides front and rear locking differentials, unique in the midsize pickup trucks segment, it also offers 33-inch tires, 4.03:1 low-range gearing in the transfer case and crawl ratios of 68.9 with the manual transmission or 56.2 with the automatic. The standard suspension package, the Z85 Heavy-Duty Handling and Trailering, uses 32-inch tires.
READ MORE - 2009 Hummer H3T

New Mercedes-Benz CLC-Class

Mercedes-Benz has released the first official pictures of the new C Class Sport Coupe, or else, the CLC, the name the company has decided to give to the hatchback version of the C-Class. In fact, if the German manufacturer had kept the same name, it would be no problem, since it has already kept the old architecture.

The CLC will be produced in Brazil, in the Juiz de Fora plant Mercedes-Benz built to produce the A-Class. With the end of its production, this facility almost closed its doors before the company managed to find out what to do with it. The solution was the production of the C-Class Sport Coupe, what in part explains why the company has decided to keep the previous platform structure for the CLC. Boot capacity, for example, is the same: 310 liters.

The new CLC, as the company’s press release states, has only had its front and rear end redesigned, in order to follow the sedan's visual identity, but Mercedes-Benz underlines almost 1,100 components have been newly developed or enhanced. We will only know what it means when we drive the car, but the German automaker says the uprated engines (especially the four-cylinder 1.8-liter that pushes the C200 Kompressor and now delivers 184 bhp) and a direct-steer system will provide a much sportier behavior.

The direct-steer system consists of a variable rack ratio associated with a speed-sensitive power steering. To sum up, this means that the driver will be able to turn less the wheel in corners, what may be interesting at high speeds.

There will be six powerplant offers for the car: two turbodiesel four-cylinder engines and two four-cylinder and two six-cylinder motors that run on gasoline. They range from 122 bhp to 272 bhp. Fuel economy has been reduced by up to 10.8%. A six-speed manual transmition will be standard to all models, with two automatic options, a five-speed for the four cylinder engines and the 7G-TRONIC for the six-cylinder powerplants.

Press Release

The new Mercedes-Benz CLC: Sports Coupé with fun factor

Stuttgart - Mercedes-Benz has unveiled a stand-alone model series in the guise of the new CLC, the compelling entry-level model in the Mercedes-Benz coupé family. The Sports Coupé's design, technology and equipment meet the discerning requirements of young drivers looking for an athletic car that gives an involving drive, while at the same time delivering the hallmark Mercedes quality standards in terms of safety, comfort, environmental compatibility and functionality. Compared with the previous Sports Coupé, the Mercedes engineers have newly developed or enhanced over 1100 components. Engineering highlights of the CLC include a new direct-steer system for even more agile cornering, state-of-the-art infotainment systems featuring a colour display, Europe-wide DVD or hard-disc navigation and media interface, as well as an uprated four-cylinder engine that now develops 135 kW/184 hp. Fuel consumption has been reduced by up to 10.8 percent compared with the outgoing model.

The compact body dimensions and the muscular lines emphasise the sporty appearance of the new CLC. The Mercedes designers have completely redesigned the front and rear so that the Sports Coupé embodies the contemporary Mercedes design idiom with its distinctive coupé radiator grille featuring a large Mercedes star in the centre, and the new projection-beam headlamps. The S-Class, the luxury CL-Class Coupé and the C-Class provided the stylistic models. The redesigned large tailgate conceals a variable boot with up to 1100 litres of luggage capacity. The new tail lights, the long row of LEDs which make up the third brake light unit and the rear bumper subdivide the rear and emphasise its width.

The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz CLC is akin to a contemporary tailor-made suit - custom-fit and comfortable. Sports seats with better lateral support than ever, a three-spoke multifunction steering wheel, automatic climate control and brushed aluminium trim elements form part of the standard specification.

A choice of seat covers in black, alpaca grey and a particularly stylish combination of black and red are available to give the interior its individual colour scheme.

Sports package with new direct-steer system and 18-inch wheels

Mercedes-Benz has put together the sports package for drivers looking for sporting flair. It includes exclusive engineering innovations and equipment extras such as 18-inch light-alloy wheels, wide-base tyres, headlamps with black inner surrounds, sports suspension with lowered body, leather sports steering wheel and dark brushed aluminium trim elements. Another special feature which the CLC inherits from its racing car counterparts is the instrument cluster with red needles for the speedometer and rev counter. Once the engine is switched on, these needles spin once around the dial before returning to their start positions.

The standard specification for the sports package includes a new direct-steer system, which further enhances the agile driving experience of the CLC while adding an important boost to safety. This new feature is based on the speed-sensitive power steering and also offers a variable rack ratio which changes as a function of the steering angle so that the driver only has to turn the wheel slightly when cornering; the Sports Coupé therefore responds far more spontaneously to steering commands and offers even sportier handling. As a result, the direct-steer system also improves handling safety in critical situations - for instance when taking sudden evasive action - as the field tests conducted by the Mercedes engineers demonstrate.

Engines: fuel consumption reduced by up to 10.8 percent

Mercedes-Benz offers four four-cylinder and two six-cylinder engines with power outputs ranging from 90 kW/122 hp to 200 kW/272 hp for the new CLC. The 135 kW/184 hp powerplant in the CLC 200 KOMPRESSOR now develops an extra 15 kW/20 hp while consuming just 7.8 to 8.2 litres per 100 kilometres in the NEDC cycle - the equivalent of up to 0.7 litres less than before. In consumption terms, with its advanced turbodiesel engines, the CLC falls into the five-litre category: the CLC 200 CDI returns a consumption of 5.8 to 6.1 litres per 100 kilometres in the NEDC cycle, up to 10.8 percent less than the outgoing model. The CDI models boast operating ranges of over 1000 kilometres with a full tank (62 litres).

The six-speed manual transmission comes as standard with all engine variants. Mercedes-Benz can also supply a five-speed automatic transmission for the four cylinder units, and the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission for the V6 models. In combination with the sports package, the driver can use gearshift paddles on the steering wheel to select the gears of the automatic transmission manually and make optimum use of the engines’ high power reserves when the driving situation calls for it.

Infotainment: state-of-the-art technology for navigation and musical enjoyment on wheels

The Mercedes engineers have developed a new generation of infotainment units for the CLC, bringing luxury-class cutting-edge technology to the Sports Coupé as of September 2008. Three units are available, offering a superb combination of colour display, twin tuner, speed-sensitive volume control and Bluetooth mobile phone interface. An iPod, USB stick or other external audio devices can now also be connected to the infotainment system. A new universal media interface (optional extra) links these devices to the on-board electronics and the Sports Coupé's control system, allowing the iPod tracks to be displayed in the instrument cluster and on the colour screen in the centre console. Tracks can then be selected conveniently using the buttons on the multifunction steering wheel.

The new Audio 50 APS and COMAND APS units come with a Europe-wide DVD or hard-disc navigation system. The LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system, which Mercedes-Benz has upgraded with a new whole-word recognition capability, is fitted as standard if the integrated six-disc DVD changer is specified. LINGUATRONIC enables the driver to conveniently operate the telephone, audio and navigation system.

Success story: Sports Coupé with extensive conquest potential

The new CLC is the successor to a successful Mercedes model that boasts some 320,000 drivers around the world to its name since 2001. The majority of these were new Mercedes customers. Its high conquest rate of some 70 percent made the Sports Coupé one of the most successful models in the Mercedes strategic product initiative. With the help of a compelling two-door model, the Stuttgart-based car maker has managed to fire customers' imagination over the long term. Over 40 percent of buyers opted for a larger Mercedes model after the Sports Coupé and are currently driving an E-Class, CLK or an SLK.

Thanks to its sophisticated design, high-quality equipment and appointments, and enhanced technology, the new Mercedes-Benz CLC offers even more conquest potential than its predecessor. The public will get the chance to take a close look at the Sports Coupé for the first time at the European Mercedes sales and service outlets and authorised dealerships in May 2008

READ MORE - New Mercedes-Benz CLC-Class

Is BWM 1 Series tii ready for production?

Few BMW vehicles have been more cherished than the 2002 tii. That is so true since BMW had chosen the car to demonstrate it could rebuild one of its classic vehicles only with spare parts, in 2006, and also used it as the inspiration for the BMW 1 Series Coupe tii Concept, presented at the Tokyo Motor Show. Natural decision, since this is a car BMW fans are eager to buy again. The good news is that it seems the production version of the concept car has been spotted in Germany by the website

Although there is no information along with the pictures, many features are exactly the same the BMW 1 Series Coupe tii Concept first presented, such as the wheels, the sports bucket seats with Alcantara cover, the rear air dam and the gurney flaps. Some may think all of this equipment could have been bought from tuners, but not the steering wheel with the small screen on the top. It was discreetly presented in Detroit, according to the original topic. Considering the auto show ends today, no one would have had time to develop a similar steering wheel so quick.

No technical specs has been released for the BMW 1 Series Coupe tii Concept besides the size of the wheels (18 inches) and a little mass reduction, in order to make the car run faster, but we can bet on the same engine used by the 135i, a six-cylinder inline biturbo that delivers 306 bhp. Maybe BMW fans won’t have to miss the 2002 tii anymore…
READ MORE - Is BWM 1 Series tii ready for production?

Tesla Roadster Receives U.S. FMVSS Certification

The green-minded enthusiasts who have put down deposits on Teslas have one less concern weighing on their minds today. In the wake of recent organizational upheaval, Tesla Motors released some good news for those eagerly awaiting the electric sports car's pending introduction. After a final round of crash tests, the Tesla now meets U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). With that hurdle cleared, the car officially meets DOT and EPA requirements to be sold in the United States. Production is scheduled to begin March 17 of this year.

According to Malcolm Powell, Vice President of Vehicle Integration with Tesla, crash testing was only part of the gauntlet of tests the Tesla had to pass: windshield defrosting, mirror coverage and EPA Clean Air Act requirements were also necessary. Specific details of how well the carbon-fiber-bodied Tesla crashed haven't been released, but the company announced that it did pass and that the car has been approved for U.S. sale, thereby keeping the company on track to begin delivering cars as scheduled. Currently, the only mechanical change to the Tesla is a one-speed transmission that will be used on early production models. Acceleration is limited, from the blistering 4.0 second 0-60mph time promised to a more sedate 5.7 seconds, but the single-speed gearbox is reportedly more durable than the two-speed transmission that was originally planned. Tesla is in the process of developing the faster transmission for production but plans to begin limited production on schedule with the interim transmission.

Press Release

First production 2008 Tesla Roadster Imported – Series Production Begins in March

0. Tesla Motors has received all regulatory approvals to import the first production Tesla Roadster (“P1”) for sale. This includes all necessary EPA and DOT approvals, including completion of all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS.)
0. P1 will arrive at Tesla Motors headquarters next week for delivery to customer Elon Musk, Chairman of Tesla Motors.
0. Series production of the Tesla Roadster is scheduled to begin March 17th, 2008.
0. As communicated previously, early production units will be equipped with an interim transmission that meets durability requirements but limits acceleration to 5.7 seconds from 0 to 60 mph.
0. Separately, Tesla Motors engineers have designed a permanent solution for mass production that supports the original specification of 0 to 60 mph in 4 seconds.
0. The planned solution has some very positive benefits for our customers. Instead of a complex 2-speed transmission design, Tesla will achieve the original performance goals with a simpler one-speed unit mated to a higher rated Power Electronics Module (PEM.) The existing motor will be modified to have advanced cooling capabilities to handle the additional power. The permanent transmission unit will be engineered to handle the higher torque of the powertrain.
0. The planned solution reduces program risk, provides better efficiency, lower weight, equal or better range, better thermal performance and quicker quarter mile acceleration due to the elimination of the need to shift gears.
0. The planned solution incorporates the latest developments of our powertrain team which has been continually improving on Tesla’s core technology.
0. Early production will proceed at a limited rate and then ramp up to full production when the permanent powertrain solution is production ready later this year.
The upgrade from the interim solution to the higher power, permanent solution will be provided to our customers free of charge when available later this year.

READ MORE - Tesla Roadster Receives U.S. FMVSS Certification

n2a Motors 789 - A Corvette with Impala touches

What can you expect from an automaker that calls itself n2a, or No Two Alike? A very exclusive vehicle, no doubt about it. And what could be more exclusive than an automobile built over the Corvette C6 platform, but inspired by the 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air and the 1958 and 1959 Chevrolet Impala? At this point, no answer would be easy, but we can provide the right one to you: look at the pictures on this article and consider yourself introduced to the n2a Motors 789.

The name of the car, 789, refers to the model years of the Chevrolet vehicles that inspired the creation of n2a. And you can spot the influences pretty easily. Check out the “hooded eyes” and the grille of the 1957 Bel-Air, the middle section and the tri-toned interior, typical of the 1958 Impala, and the rear end, a 1959 Impala key feature, with its”bird in flight” tailfins.

n2a promises its clients no car will be similar to any other, what will be easy to achieve, considering there are 10,000 different combinations for the interior, the paint schemes can be fully customized and that the company intends to produce only a limited series of 100 units. Although it appeals in a special way to classic car lovers, the 789 presents all the comfort and safety features modern vehicles offer. One of the most interesting ones is doubtlessly the V8 engine producing more than 400 hp. Since owners may choose whatever they want for the car, the LS9 engine from the ZR1 is also a possibility. What may not be accessible for most will be the price: US$ 135,000 for the “entry-level” turnkey 789.
READ MORE - n2a Motors 789 - A Corvette with Impala touches

Buick LaCrosse Eco-Hybrid

Shanghai GM, the Chinese arm of the (still) biggest automaker in the world, has announced its “Drive to Green” strategy in order to have a cleaner way of producing cars, as well as cars that pollute even less than the current ones. To prove wrong the ones that may think this is just a statement and nothing else, the company has also presented the first product from the strategy, the Buick LaCrosse Eco-Hybrid.

Capable of running 12 km/l of petrol, instead of the 10.2 km/l the regular version is able to achieve, the LaCrosse Eco-Hybrid is, according to Shanghai GM, the “first mainstream hybrid model in China’s upper-medium vehicle segment with volume production”. It offers almost an increase of 20% in fuel economy, but still nothing to be impressed with, especially considering the additional cost a hybrid vehicle offers. The real deal, the two-mode hybrid system, will be reserved to another vehicle, yet to be defined. Anyway, the fuel economy intended for this new product will be significantly better: 50%.

Besides the new cars, Shanghai GM has also announced three new engines for 2008. Although one of them is a total mistery (no information about it), the other two are the 1.2-liter S-TEC and the HFV6 3.6-liter SIDI dual mode direct injection engine, possibly the same one used on the Saturn Vue Green Line. The S-TEC generates 85.2 bhp and spend one liter of fuel every 16.7 km. As for the V6, its direct injection system enhances power and torque respectively in 15% and 8%. Fuel consumption is improved by 3%.
READ MORE - Buick LaCrosse Eco-Hybrid

Bertone Reveals First Rescue Plans

Bertone Group’s fate has been given a direction last January 23, 2008, when Lilli Bertone and Domenico Reviglio, owner of the Gruppo Prototipo and turnaround specialist, finally signed a contract that will put Stile Bertone S.p.A., Bertone S.p.A. and Carrozzeria Bertone S.p.A under Reviglio’s control. According to the statement Bertone has released yesterday, 35% of the shares will remain in Ms. Bertone’s hands, while the other 65% will be assigned to Reviglio.

“I am fully satisfied with this agreement,” said Lilli Bertone: “It represents a fundamental starting point on the basis of which our work to kick start all our activities, from styling to production, can begin. I have fought long and hard for this result, and I have had to steer my way round a veritable obstacle course in the form of people pursuing interests that have nothing to do with the company’s industrial mission, completely ignoring the interests of the workforce, stirring up controversy for instrumental purposes, and exploiting the incomprehensible willingness of certain newspapers to publish falsehoods”, said Bertone’s matriarch.

“Fought” is not a mere way she found to express herself. Barbara Bertone, Lilli’s daughter, was the general director of the company and has been suspended from her functions little before the companies were sold. According to Automotive News, Barbara and her sister, Marie Jeanne, claim their mother did not own all the shares she sold to Reviglio. They also intend to take legal action against the sale.

Among the recovery measures Reviglio intends to take is the production of electric vehicles, just like Pininfarina has announced. He expects the Bertone Group to generate € 39.1 million in revenue in 2008 and € 62.2 million in 2009, according to Automotive News.

Press Release

This morning Lilli Bertone and Domenico Reviglio put their signatures to a contract to purchase shares in Stile Bertone S.p.A., Bertone S.p.A. and Carrozzeria Bertone S.p.A with the aim of injecting new industrial life into the Bertone Group. The agreement executes the terms of the purchase option presented by Dott. Reviglio and confirms that a new company will be set up in which 35% of the shares are assigned to Ms Lilli Bertone and 65% to Dott Domenico Reviglio.
“I am fully satisfied with this agreement,” said Lilli Bertone: “It represents a fundamental starting point on the basis of which our work to kick start all our activities, from styling to production, can begin. I have fought long and hard for this result, and I have had to steer my way round a veritable obstacle course in the form of people pursuing interests that have nothing to do with the company’s industrial mission, completely ignoring the interests of the workforce, stirring up controversy for instrumental purposes, and exploiting the incomprehensible willingness of certain newspapers to publish falsehoods. Now is the time to turn over a new leaf. The new Bertone begins today. For me this is a personal commitment and I intend to accompany this prestigious Italian brand towards its one hundredth anniversary, restoring it to its rightful place among the great brands of the world.”
READ MORE - Bertone Reveals First Rescue Plans

Friday, January 25, 2008

Dodge Challenger SRT8 coming soon

The embargo dam has broken on the hugely anticipated Dodge Challenger SRT8 production version, scheduled for its official unveiling at the Chicago auto show next month.

Hitting the streets nearly 40 years after the original was first produced, the Challenger will be built atop the LX platform, which also underpins the Chrysler 300C and Dodge Charger.

So does it have a Hemi? Yes, Mopar fans, it certainly does: a 6.1-liter V8 to be exact, the same motor found in other SRT models. Producing 425hp and 420lb-ft of torque, this modern interpretation of the iconic muscle car will blast to 60mph in the low five-second range, transmitting power to squealing rubber via a six-speed automatic transmission.

The Challenger’s 116-inch wheelbase and four-piston Brembo brakes will surely add to the dynamic driving appeal.

READ MORE - Dodge Challenger SRT8 coming soon

Suzuki ready for first full WRC season

With Finish driver Toni Gardemeister and Swedish driver Per-Gunnar Andersson Suzuki is ready for their first ever full World Rally Championship season. After running in the Corsica and Great Britain rally races last year, Suzuki team is ready to go for the 2008 competition. Andersson won the Junior Rally Championship in a Suzuki Swift 1600 last year.

Starting with the Monte Carlo Rally this week, Suzuki will be vying for a a top slot in each of the 15 rally races this year. Awards for the Monte Carlo will be presented on Sunday. Suzuki has ran the race in Monte Carlo six times, but only in the Junior class. This will be their first run in the historic WRC event.

Each of the rally teams will use Pirelli control tires with the same tread pattern and compound. If needed, drivers may cut the tires by hand to help them race on water and gravel. Short studs can also be used, since icy roads are not uncommon in this race.

Suzuki is also running two cars in the same race for the first time ever. They are expected to do so for the entire season, barring any unforseen incidents.

Driver Toni Gardmeister played down the team's chances of winning, saying, "It’s fantastic for me to be back in the World Championship with Suzuki, and if things go well for us in Monte Carlo I think we can come away with points. The car is still new, so we’re not going to be on the pace of the frontrunners yet, but the overall set-up and reliability is good."

Press Release:

Following two test events in Corsica and Great Britain last year, the Suzuki World Rally Team now embarks on its first full season of world rallying with two new drivers: Toni Gardemeister from Finland and Per-Gunnar Andersson from Sweden, the reigning Junior Rally Champion with Suzuki.

The first of the 15 rounds that make up the 2008 World Rally Championship is the legendary Monte Carlo Rally, the oldest and most prestigious event of the series. Just like the roulette games played in the Principality’s famous casino, the outcome of the rally can be a lottery. Conditions can vary many times in the same stage, and it is not uncommon for a stage to start off in bright sunshine and end with snow and ice.

For the second consecutive year, the Monte Carlo Rally will start off in the town of Valence, in the Ardeche region of France, with two night stages on Thursday evening. The route takes in 12 more stages in the area on Friday and Saturday, before moving down to Monaco for four classic stages over the Col de Turini and a super special stage using part of Monaco’s famous Grand Prix circuit. The prize-giving ceremony will take place in front of Monaco’s Royal Palace on Sunday at 15:30 (CET).

As usual a wide range of conditions are expected on this year’s event, making Monte Carlo one of the most difficult rallies on the entire calendar. As well as varying weather, crews face a huge variety of road conditions: from bumpy, broken asphalt with reasonable grip to sheet ice like a skating rink. In total, the rally consists of 365.09 competitive kilometres.

Car news – Suzuki SX4 WRC n.11 (Gardemeister) and n.12 (Andersson):

This will actually be Suzuki’s seventh Monte Carlo rally, thanks to a successful Junior World Rally Championship campaign that resulted in two titles, but it is obviously the first time in the Principality with the all-new SX4 WRC.

The SX4 WRC sports a striking new white and yellow livery for 2008, and it has already racked up a number of testing kilometres in the region following a pre-Monte Carlo test at the end of last year with both drivers. Using the valuable experience gained from the two test events in 2007, the SX4 WRC features new differential and suspension settings for Monte Carlo, as well as a raft of other improvements under the skin.

Like all the other cars, the SX4 WRC will run on Pirelli’s all-new control tyres introduced for this year. These tyres are not permitted to have anti-deflation mousse, and only one type of tread pattern and compound is allowed per event, in order to reduce costs. However drivers are permitted to hand-cut the tyres to help disperse water or loose gravel, and for Monte Carlo a short stud can also be used if necessary, to find grip in icy conditions.

The entire Suzuki team is eagerly awaiting the unique challenge of Monte Carlo, and the whole 2008 season.

Driver news:

For the first time, the Suzuki World Rally Team will run two cars, as it will over the rest of the season. The 32 year-old Toni Gardemeister starts his ninth Monte Carlo Rally this year, and it is one of his favourite events. The Finn was on the podium as recently as 2006, and he has finished in the points on five occasions. His co-driver this year is Tomi Tuominen, who knows the SX4 WRC well after partnering Sebastian Lindholm on the Rally GB last year.

Gardemeister said: “It’s fantastic for me to be back in the World Championship with Suzuki, and if things go well for us in Monte Carlo I think we can come away with points. The car is still new, so we’re not going to be on the pace of the frontrunners yet, but the overall set-up and reliability is good.

The SX4 has a very compact wheelbase so it changes direction quickly, which will be very useful on the fast and twisty roads of Monte Carlo. This is always an unpredictable event, but I think that mixed conditions could actually work in our favour. I’m particularly looking forward to the Col de Turini stages on Sunday: these are unique stages and I’ve always had a very good feeling with them.”

For 27 year-old P-G Andersson, co-driven by Jonas Andersson, Monte Carlo will be his first-ever World Championship event in a World Rally Car. The young Swede has completed around 500 kilometres of testing with the SX4, so he still has to climb a steep learning curve. Nonetheless, the Monte Carlo Rally is not entirely new to him as he competed on the event in 2004 and 2005 with an Ignis Super 1600.

“I can’t wait to get started!”, said P-G. “Obviously getting to the finish and gaining more experience will be the priority for me. Going from a Super 1600 car to a World Rally Car is quite a big jump as everything happens so much quicker. It’s also important to get the pace notes right: there are some corners that you wouldn’t even bother noting in a Super 1600 car but in a World Rally Car you really feel them!”

Team news:

For the entire Suzuki team, the Monte Carlo rally opens a new chapter in the manufacturer’s prestigious history. New arrivals at the team this year include Shusuke Inagaki as technical director and Akira Kawada as team manager. Prior to the rally, the team will take part in this year’s official World Rally Championship launch on Sunday 20 January in Monte Carlo before the drivers start the recce.

Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima, principal of the Suzuki World Rally Team, commented: “As we embark on our full first season, our goal is to make steady progress by taking one step at a time. Results are obviously important, but we cannot get ahead of ourselves either. In our debut year, it’s only natural to expect a few minor problems and we’re grateful to have a driver of the calibre of Toni Gardemeister to help us improve.”

READ MORE - Suzuki ready for first full WRC season

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wallpapers 5

READ MORE - Wallpapers 5

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

AC 3000ME a Sports Car Coupe Ford V6 engine

AC 3000ME

AC 3000ME a Sports Car Coupe Ford V6 engine
The AC 3000ME Prototype was powered by a Ford V6 and clothed in a grp body.The AC 3000ME was first introduced at the 1973 Earls Court Motor Show. It wasn't until 1979 that the first production AC 3000ME's were delivered, and the price had almost tripled since its initial showing. The AC 3000Me continued to be manufactured for six years with production moving to Scotland before the company ran into financial trouble in 1985 and the 3000Me was discontinued.The AC 3000ME was a 2 door, 2 seat, coupe with a mid-engine layout, perimeter steel chassis, 4 wheel independent suspension and superb handling

READ MORE - AC 3000ME a Sports Car Coupe Ford V6 engine

AC 3000ME a Sports Car Coupe Ford V6 engine

AC 3000ME

AC 3000ME a Sports Car Coupe Ford V6 engine
The AC 3000ME Prototype was powered by a Ford V6 and clothed in a grp body.The AC 3000ME was first introduced at the 1973 Earls Court Motor Show. It wasn't until 1979 that the first production AC 3000ME's were delivered, and the price had almost tripled since its initial showing. The AC 3000Me continued to be manufactured for six years with production moving to Scotland before the company ran into financial trouble in 1985 and the 3000Me was discontinued.The AC 3000ME was a 2 door, 2 seat, coupe with a mid-engine layout, perimeter steel chassis, 4 wheel independent suspension and superb handling

READ MORE - AC 3000ME a Sports Car Coupe Ford V6 engine

AC 3000ME a Sports Car Coupe Ford V6 engine

AC 3000ME

AC 3000ME a Sports Car Coupe Ford V6 engine
The AC 3000ME Prototype was powered by a Ford V6 and clothed in a grp body.The AC 3000ME was first introduced at the 1973 Earls Court Motor Show. It wasn't until 1979 that the first production AC 3000ME's were delivered, and the price had almost tripled since its initial showing. The AC 3000Me continued to be manufactured for six years with production moving to Scotland before the company ran into financial trouble in 1985 and the 3000Me was discontinued.The AC 3000ME was a 2 door, 2 seat, coupe with a mid-engine layout, perimeter steel chassis, 4 wheel independent suspension and superb handling

READ MORE - AC 3000ME a Sports Car Coupe Ford V6 engine

AC 3000ME a Sports Car Coupe Ford V6 engine

AC 3000ME

AC 3000ME a Sports Car Coupe Ford V6 engine
The AC 3000ME Prototype was powered by a Ford V6 and clothed in a grp body.The AC 3000ME was first introduced at the 1973 Earls Court Motor Show. It wasn't until 1979 that the first production AC 3000ME's were delivered, and the price had almost tripled since its initial showing. The AC 3000Me continued to be manufactured for six years with production moving to Scotland before the company ran into financial trouble in 1985 and the 3000Me was discontinued.The AC 3000ME was a 2 door, 2 seat, coupe with a mid-engine layout, perimeter steel chassis, 4 wheel independent suspension and superb handling

READ MORE - AC 3000ME a Sports Car Coupe Ford V6 engine

AC 3000ME a Sports Car Coupe Ford V6 engine

AC 3000ME

AC 3000ME a Sports Car Coupe Ford V6 engine
The AC 3000ME Prototype was powered by a Ford V6 and clothed in a grp body.The AC 3000ME was first introduced at the 1973 Earls Court Motor Show. It wasn't until 1979 that the first production AC 3000ME's were delivered, and the price had almost tripled since its initial showing. The AC 3000Me continued to be manufactured for six years with production moving to Scotland before the company ran into financial trouble in 1985 and the 3000Me was discontinued.The AC 3000ME was a 2 door, 2 seat, coupe with a mid-engine layout, perimeter steel chassis, 4 wheel independent suspension and superb handling

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Fisker Karma Revealed in Detroit

Karma: a term describing that of cause and effect. And so it is appropriate that Fisker Automotive's first production car is so named. Dubbed as a vehicle allowing consumers the good practise of automotive karma, this environmentally-friendly plug-in hybrid is a new breed, bringing the extreme comfort and style of the luxury automobile category to an eco-friendlier one.

Cutting-edge technology features at the new Karma's heart. Developed exclusively for Fisker Automotive by Quantum Technologies, Q-DRIVE provides a small petrol engine in turning a generator for power to its lithium-ion battery pack. The technology will be used to power future derivatives under the Fisker brand. Regenerative braking will be employed to regain power otherwise lost from braking, while an optional solar roof will charge the battery and maintain partly self-contained climate control when parked.

Offering emissions-free driving of up to 50 miles per charge, Fisker are keen to point out that with more than 60% of Americans and Europeans driving less than 50 miles on their daily commutes, household fuel dependency could drop with a Karma on the drive. "If this 60% of commuters would drive a plug-in hybrid like the Fisker Karma, we could see the fastest possible reduction both in oil consumption and emissions - all without sacrificing their daily driving habits."

A sleek, elongated design, the result of an all-new chassis built specifically for the development of the new powertrain, places the battery pack in the centre of the vehicle - improving weight distribution and dynamics. Proportional in height to Porsche's 911 and in length to the Mercedes CLS, the Fisker Karma makes extensive use of lightweight aluminium for its body panels and structure, producing impressive performance statistics - sprinting to sixty in just six seconds and continuing 'beyond' 125 mph.

Luxury exudes from the Karma's 'first class' four-seater cabin, with modern sophistication and a spacious luggage capacity the overriding features. The Karma's electronic aides include a Navigation system in the front with DVD player and integrated seat back displays in the rear. Two modes of driving are selectable: "Stealth Mode" and "Sport Mode". The former tweaks the car's setup for quiet economy mode and the latter, a mode to access the full extent of the car's power.

The design is final and will be put to market in the form seen next week at Detroit, with the first 99 examples to be numbered and signed by Henrik Fisker - produced in the colour and trim of the show vehicle. The Fisker Karma will hit Detroit January 14th, with first deliveries starting the last quarter of 2009.

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2009 Mitsubishi Lancer RalliArt at Detroit

The Lancer Ralliart model is the latest addition to the sporty Lancer compact car family. This new model reinforces the sporty identity of the Lancer lineup (Lancer, Lancer Ralliart and Lancer Evolution) with aggressive styling and driving performance to be well positioned between the Lancer and the Lancer Evolution models.

Lancer Ralliart is powered by a new 2.0-liter DOHC MIVEC intercooled and turbocharged engine that develops an estimated 235 horsepower. The engine is mated to Mitsubishi's Twin Clutch-SST gearbox that delivers highly-efficient power transmission while enhancing the sporty driving qualities of the vehicle with lightning-quick, silky-smooth, paddle-actuated shifts or programmed fully-auto modes. The Lancer Ralliart's full-time 4WD driveline features Mitsubishi's Active Center Differential (ACD). The ACD unit employs an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch center differential, vectoring drive torque to the front and rear according to different driving conditions to realize the best balance between steering response and traction characteristics on Tarmac, Gravel, or Snow surfaces. Lancer Ralliart is also equipped with a front helical and rear mechanical limited slip differentials.

The Lancer Ralliart exterior is distinguished by its more aggressively styled front bumper design, rear bumper cover, dual outlet muffler and a lightweight aluminum, ducted hood that delivers cooling air to the turbocharger. The interior design places greater emphasis on function and vehicle control. Lancer Ralliart is equipped with FAST key, hands free telephone interface, the same Twin Clutch-SST shifter used on Lancer Evolution, and easily accessible steering column mounted paddle shifters.

Available equipment and options to include: Recaro seats, HID headlights, 650 watt Rockford Fosgate 9-speaker audio system, Sirius satellite radio, power sunroof, and a 30 GB Hard Drive Navigation system.

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Corvette ZR1 at Detroit

Chevrolet officially announced the 2009 Corvette ZR1 – an American supercar that brings the technology and engineering refinement of carbon-fiber, ceramics and electronics together in a distinctive design.

“Chevrolet’s goal with the new ZR1 is to show what an American supercar can deliver, at a price that trumps exotics that cost two, three or four times as much – and does so with exceptional driveability,” said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager.

The ZR1’s basic stats:

  • All-new LS9 supercharged 6.2L V-8 targeted at producing at least 100 horsepower per liter, or 620 horsepower (462 kW), and approximately 595 lb.-ft. of torque (823 Nm)
  • Six-speed, close-ratio, race-hardened manual transmission
  • New, high-capacity dual-disc clutch
  • Higher-capacity and specific-diameter axle half-shafts; enhanced torque tube
  • Specific suspension tuning provides more than 1g cornering grip
  • Twenty-spoke 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels
  • Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires – P285/30ZR19 in front and P335/25ZR20 in the rear – developed specifically for the ZR1
  • Standard carbon-ceramic, drilled disc brake rotors – 15.5-inch-diameter (394-mm) in the front and 15-inch-diameter (380-mm) in the rear
  • Larger brake calipers with substantially increased pad area
  • Standard Magnetic Selective Ride Control with track-level suspension
  • Wider, carbon-fiber front fenders with ZR1-specific dual vents
  • Carbon-fiber hood with a raised, polycarbonate window – offering a view of the intercooler below it
  • Carbon-fiber roof panel, roof bow, front fascia splitter and rocker moldings with clear-coated, exposed carbon-fiber weave
  • ZR1-specific full-width rear spoiler with raised outboard sections
  • Specific gauge cluster with boost gauge (also displayed on the head-up display) and 220-mph (370 km/h) speedometer readout
  • Only two options: chrome wheels and a “luxury” package
  • Curb weight of approximately 3,350 pounds (1,519 kg)

The specialized components of the new ZR1 work harmoniously to deliver the most powerful and fastest automobile ever produced by General Motors. Performance estimates will be announced closer to vehicle’s summer 2008 launch.

“Preliminary testing shows the ZR1 builds on the highly respected Corvette Z06 in every performance category, from acceleration and braking, to cornering grip and top speed,” said Peper. “It all boils down to the power-to-weight ratio and the ZR1’s is exceptional – better than the Porsche 911 GT2, the Ferrari 599 and even the Lamborghini LP640. In fact, the ZR1 is expected to be the first production Corvette to achieve a top speed of at least 200 mph.”

Supercharged LS9 engine

The new LS9 6.2L small-block engine is the power plant the supports the ZR1’s performance capability. The enabler of the LS9’s performance and refinement is a large, positive-displacement Roots-type supercharger with a new, four-lobe rotor design. It is augmented with an integrated charge cooling system that reduces inlet air temperature for maximum performance.

A sixth-generation supercharger developed by Eaton helps the LS9 make big power and torque at lower rpm and carries it in a wide arc to 6,600 rpm, as it pushes enough air to help the engine maintain power through the upper levels of the rpm band – the area where supercharged performance tends to diminish. Heavy-duty and lightweight reciprocating components enable the engine’s confident high-rpm performance.

The LS9 is hand-assembled at GM’s Performance Build Center, in Wixom, Mich., and incorporates specialty processes typically seen in racing engines to produce a highly refined and precise product. For example, cast iron cylinder liners are inserted in the aluminum block and are finish-bored and honed with a deck plate installed. The deck plate simulates the pressure and minute dimensional variances applied to the block when the cylinder heads are installed, ensuring a higher degree of accuracy that promotes maximum cylinder head sealing, piston ring fit and overall engine performance.

Transmission and axle

The LS9 engine is backed by a new, stronger six-speed manual transmission and a twin-disc clutch that provide exceptional clamping power, while maintaining an easy clutch effort. ZR1-specific gearing in the transmission provides a steep first-gear ratio that helps launch the car, and top speed is achieved in sixth gear – a change from the fifth-gear top-speed run-outs in the manual-transmission Corvette and Corvette Z06.

As the term implies, the twin-disc clutch system employs a pair of discs, which spreads out the engine’s torque load over a wider area. This enables tremendous clamping power when the clutch is engaged, while also helping to dissipate heat better and extend the life of the clutch.

The twin-disc clutch system also contributes to the ZR1’s exceptional driving quality, with smooth and easy shifting. The twin-disc system’s design enables a 25-percent reduction in inertia, thanks to smaller, 260-mm plates, corresponding to a pedal effort that is similar to the Corvette Z06’s 290-mm single-disc system.

The rear axle also is stronger in the ZR1 and features asymmetrical axle-shaft diameters that were developed after careful testing to provide optimal torque management. The axles are also mounted on a more horizontal plane that correlates with the wider width of the rear wheels and tires.

Ride and handling

The ZR1 is built on the same aluminum-intensive chassis as the Corvette Z06 and features similar independent SLA front and rear suspensions, with aluminum upper and lower control arms. Where the ZR1 differs is the suspension tuning, which was optimized for the car’s steamroller-wide front and rear tires.

Magnetic Selective Ride Control is standard and tuned specifically for the ZR1. The system’s ability to deliver a compliant ride with nearly instantaneous damping adjustments enabled engineers to develop a surprisingly supple ride quality in a supercar that still delivers cornering grip of more than 1g.

From a high-performance perspective, Magnetic Selective Ride Control helps the rear axle remain planted during launch for smooth, hop-free acceleration. It also helps suppress axle movement when cornering on broken or uneven pavement.

Brakes, wheels and tires

Commensurate with the ZR1’s engine output is the braking system, which is headlined by carbon-ceramic brake rotors. Found on only a few exotics and more expensive supercars, carbon-ceramic brake rotors are made of a carbon-fiber-reinforced ceramic silicon carbide material . Their advantage comes in low mass and resistance to wear and heat. In fact, the rotors should never show any corrosion or require replacement for the life of the vehicle, when used in normal driving.

The vented and cross-drilled rotors on the ZR1 measure 15.5 inches (394 mm) in diameter in the front and 15 inches (380 mm) in diameter in the rear – making them among the largest carbon-ceramic rotors available on any production vehicle.

Clamping down on the high-tech rotors are six-piston front calipers and four-piston rear calipers, each painted a ZR1-exclusive blue. The front pads are equivalent in size to the largest on any production car with a single-pad design – double that of the Corvette Z06’s 70-sq.-cm. front pads.

The brakes are visible through the ZR1’s exclusive wheels: 20-spoke alloy rims that measure 19 inches in diameter in the front and 20 inches in the rear. They come standard with a bright, Sterling Silver paint finish and chrome versions are optional. The wheels are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires developed specifically for the ZR1, measuring P285/30ZR19 in front and P335/25ZR20 in the rear.

Exclusive exterior

The ZR1 is instantly recognizable, with perhaps the most identifiable feature a raised, all-carbon-fiber hood that incorporates a clear, polycarbonate window. The window provides a view of the top of the engine’s intercooler, with the legend “LS9 SUPERCHARGED” embossed on the left and right sides, and an engine cover with the Corvette crossed flags logo debossed at the front.

The underside of the hood has an exposed carbon-fiber-weave. Exposed carbon-fiber is used on the roof, roof bow, rocker molding and front splitter. These exterior components are protected by a specially developed glossy, UV-resistant clear coat that resists yellowing and wear.

Widened, carbon-fiber front fenders with specific, dual lower vents, and a full-width, body-color rear spoiler incorporating the center high-mounted stop lamp, are also unique to the ZR1. All of the exterior features of the car were developed to enhance high-speed stability and driver control.

Interior details

The ZR1’s interior builds on the brand’s dual-cockpit heritage, with high-quality materials, craftsmanship and functionality that support the premium-quality experience promised by the car’s performance. The ZR1’s cabin differs from the Corvette and Corvette Z06 with the following:

  • ZR1-logo sill plates
  • ZR1-logo headrest embroidery
  • Specific gauge cluster with “ZR1” logo on the tachometer and a 220-mph (370 km/h) readout on the speedometer
  • Boost gauge added to the instrument cluster and Head-Up Display
  • The “base” ZR1 (RPO 1LZ) comes with accoutrements based on the Z06, including lightweight seats and lightweight content. The uplevel interior package includes unique, power-adjustable and leather-trimmed sport seats (embroidered with the ZR1 logo); custom, leather-wrapped interior available in four colors; navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity and more.
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