Monday, May 26, 2008

Renault Laguna

Renault has unveiled the coupe version of its third generation Renault Laguna at the 61st Festival International du Film de Cannes, or better known to us at the Cannes Film Festival. A few engines are available - the same as the sedan and estate’s range, but with a coupe body the highlight will be the relatively high powered V6 engines.

The petrol V6 engine puts out 240 horsepower and 330Nm of torque from 3.5 liters of normally aspirated displacement, while the V6 dCi engine produces 235 horsepower but so much more torque at 450Nm.

Both engines are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 2.0 liter petrol and 2.0 liter DCi turbodiesel inline-4 engines are also available.

Despite being a 2-door, the execution of the coupe body on this Laguna doesn’t seem as sleek as some 4-door cars such as the Jaguar XF. The roofline bulges out a tad too high, but who knows, the car may look better in real life. The Laguna Coupe has a wheelbase of 2690mm, a height of 1400mm, a width of 1830mm and a length of 4640mm.

Carbon fiber: the key to better mileage?

A group of Japanese companies which control 70% of the global carbon fiber market want to increase the usage of carbon fiber in automobiles. Carbon fiber can deliver the same strength as steel at just one fifth an equivalent amount of steel’s weight, but carbon fiber applications in automobiles currently account only for less than 1 percent of the carbon fiber production.

Traditionally carbon fiber has been reserved for more expensive cars such as the BMW M3 with its carbon fiber roof, and the NIssan GT-R with its carbon fiber engine underguard and radiator panel. But it may soon trickle down to more mass-production cars - Toyota displayed the Toyota 1/X Concept car at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show last year. It uses a carbon fiber reinforced plastic body frame, has the same interior size as a Toyota Prius, but only weighs one third the weight.

Carbon fiber is expensive because of cost of materials, cost of manufacturing and time needed for manufacturing. It requires lots of energy to heat and treat the fibers, and molding the material takes hours. There is also a relatively high level of wastage. One of the companies - Teijin - intends to speed up the production process via a 10 minute molding process, but this looks like an eternity compared to sheet metal stamping which needs roughly only a second.

With rising gas prices, cutting down vehicle weight is one way to improve fuel economy. Together with gradually improved carbon fiber molding processes, may see more application of carbon fiber in cars.

F149 GT revealed to be new Ferrari California!

Ferrari has unveiled the name of the F149, and as expected its called the Ferrari California. Along with the name announcement, the boys at Maranello have released three photos of the car with its top down, which reveals that it is a convertible. The rear three quarter review also gives us a little glimpse of the car’s interior. It is a Grand Tourer car, with the engine mounted at the front.

The engine under the hood is a 4.3 liter V8 engine making 460 PS at 7,500rpm, which is quite an impressive state of tune because as compared to BMW’s new V8 in the M3, the Ferrari engine produces a similiar horsepower to liter ratio but achieves the horsepower at about 1,000rpm lower. Other neat tricks Ferrari has used to extract the most power out of this engine include direct injection and a “flat crankshaft”.

I’m not completely sure what that is at the moment, but with some Googling I found out apparently a flat crankshaft in a V8 usually refers to a flat-plane crankshaft as opposed to a cross-plane crankshaft with throws spaced 180 degrees apart rather than a cross-plane’s 90 degree spaced throws. This results in a sound that is smoother and of a higher pitch than a typical V8 rumble.

This engine is mated to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission, the first production usage of a dual clutch gearbox in a Ferrari! No shift times have been revealed, but expect this to be known later when the full details about the car is released. What is revealed is the car’s 0 to 100km/h time, which is said to be under 4 seconds.

The Ferrari California also has Ferrari’s F1-Trac traction control system, tuned for a typical GT car’s driving conditions. The rear suspension uses a new multilink setup. Brakes are Brembos featuring carbon-ceramic discs as standard equipment. It is available with a convertible hard top only, with no current plans for a roofed coupe.

More details to be published as they are revealed, but for the moment check out the two more photos of the car after the jump. Check out the rear exhaust design in particular, they look like they took a page out of the Lexus IS-F’s book.

Mazda Biante

Mazda has launched a new JDM-only MPV called the Mazda Biante. It’s an MPV designed to have a very tall interior roof, which is useful for those who have difficulties bending their backs when getting into the rear seats of MPVs with low interior roofs.

Mazda has not released any other information on the Biante other than a few photos, but expect the Biante to use similiar engines as the Mazda 8 and the Mazda CX-7 - this would mean the 2.3 liter turbocharged DISI engine or a similiar engine based on the new 2.5 liter engines which replace the old 2.3 liter engines.

Although the Mazda Biante is currently JDM-only, restyled versions could make it out of the Japanese market if Mazda deems it viable.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Nissan 370Z

Nissan has unveiled details on its upcoming 350Z-replacement: Nissan 370Z at the Nissan 360 press event in Portugal earlier this month. The 370Z will remain a two-seater and will continue the 350Z’s general shape, but will get more muscularly-sculpted body panels to give the car a more aggressive look, using flame surfacing perhaps?

Like you can probably guess from its name, the 370Z will feature the new VQ37VHR engine (shown above) from the Infiniti G37 coupe, producing over 326 horsepower and 366Nm of torque at 5,200rpm. This is 0.1 liter and two turbochargers down from the VR-series engine in the Nissan GT-R, but over 300 horsepower is still a very decent figure. The engine marks the debut of Nissan’s throttle-less VVEL technology.

Autocar also reports that the new car will ride on a new platform that has a shorter wheelbase than the current 350Z, not a big issue since it is a 2-seater, and will likely result in a better driving experience, with the car likely to feel more agile.

The new Nissan 370Z will be unveiled at the 2008 Los Angeles auto show in November.

Alfa Romeo Brera S

Alfa Romeo UK has unveiled a special 500 unit run of the Alfa Romeo Brera called the Alfa Romeo Brera S. The Brera S gets a specially Prodrive-tuned suspension using Eibach coils, Bilstein shocks, and aluminium components. The suspension also lowers the car by 10mm. It also gets lightweight 19 inch wheels inspired from the alloys on the Alfa 8C Competizione, and hollow anti-roll bars.

The engines in the Brera S range put out the same power as the normal Brera, but the other improvements will make the driving experience very different. For one, the weight reduction in various components like the suspension system shaves off between 35kg to 100kg depending on model, with the 260hp 3.2 liter V6 model losing the most weight. The other would be better handling thanks to the Prodrive-developed suspension.

Subaru WRC2008 Rally Car

Subaru has unveiled a front and rear shot of their new World Rally Championship car based on the latest generation Subaru Impreza hatchback, Subaru’s first rally-going Hatchback in ages. The new Subaru Impreza WRC2008 features a 2.0 liter boxer turbo engine producing about 300 horsepower. It will be driven in the championship by Chris Atkinson and Petter Solberg.

Notice that the New Subaru rally car loses the livery featuring many yellow stars that we’ve come to expect on every Subaru rally car. The new livery is based on a blue and silver design instead.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Subaru WRX STI 2008 vs Mitsubishi Evolution X

Standard Engine
Subaru WRX STI - 2.5L H4
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 2.0L I4

Displacement (CC)
Subaru WRX STI - 2457
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 1998

Subaru WRX STI - 305@6000
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 291@6500

Torque (lbs.-ft.)
Subaru WRX STI - 290@4000
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 300@4400

Subaru WRX STI -16
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 16

Valves Configuration
Mitsubishi Evolution X - DOHC

Fuel System
Mitsubishi Evolution X - MPFI

Fuel Tank Capacity (gal.)
Subaru WRX STI - 16.9
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 14.5

Fuel Economy City (mpg)
Subaru WRX STI - 17
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 16

Manual Transmission
Subaru WRX STI - 6-Speed Manual Transmission With Overdrive (Standard)
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 5-Speed Manual Transmission With Overdrive (Standard)

Wheelbase (inches)
Subaru WRX STI - 103.3
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 104.3

Length (inches)
Subaru WRX STI - 173.8
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 177.0

Width (inches)
Subaru WRX STI - 70.7
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 71.3

Height (inches)
Subaru WRX STI - 58.1
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 58.3

Track (Front)
Subaru WRX STI - 60.2
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 60.8

Track (Rear)
Subaru WRX STI - 60.6
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 60.8

Minimum Road Clearance (inches)
Subaru WRX STI - 6.1
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 5.3

Headroom (Front)
Subaru WRX STI - 40.3
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 39.6

Headroom (Rear)
Subaru WRX STI - 37.6
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 36.9

Legroom (Front)
Subaru WRX STI - 43.5
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 42.2

Legroom (Rear)
Subaru WRX STI - 33.5
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 36.1

Shoulder Room (Front)
Subaru WRX STI - 54.8
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 54.7

Shoulder Room (Rear)
Subaru WRX STI - 53.2
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 54.3

Curb Weight (pounds) Manual Transmission
Subaru WRX STI - 3395
Mitsubishi Evolution X - 3517

2008 IMPREZA WRX Sedan

Featuring a 224-hp intercooled, turbocharged SUBARU BOXER engine , Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD), Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) , and double wishbone rear suspension, the 2008 Impreza WRX 4-Door is packed with power. Extras like 17 x 7.0-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, XM® or SIRIUS® Satellite Radio capability, and automatic climate control enhance the exhilaration of this totally re-designed rally-racing legend.

Standard Features
· 224-hp intercooled, turbocharged SUBARU BOXER engine
· 226 lb-ft of torque at 2,800 rpm
· Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD)
· Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC)
· Double wishbone rear suspension
· 17 x 7.0-inch 10-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels
· XM® or SIRIUS® Satellite Radio capability
· 80-watt 4-speaker audio system with single-disc in-dash CD player, MP3/WMA capatibility and vehicle speed-sensing volume adjustment
· Auxillary audio jack
· Leather-wrapped 3-spoke steering wheel with cruise control buttons and shifter handle
· 60/40-split flat-folding rear seats
· Available iPod® Interface Kit (Not available with Satellite Radio or Navigation Package)
· Available Bluetooth® hands-free calling (with Navigation Package only)

Premium Package
· Fog lights
· Front lip spoiler
· Aerodynamic side ground effects
· Exhaust system with dual chrome outlets
· Rear bumper ground effect
· Rear spoiler
· Heated side mirrors
· Windshield wipers de-icer
· Dual-stage heated front seats
· Steering wheel mounted audio controls
· 80-watt 10-speaker audio system with 6-disc in-dash CD changer, MP3/WMA capability, SRS Circle Surround Automotive™ audio enhancement, and vehicle speed-sensing volume adjustment

Satellite Radio and Navigation Package
· All Premium Package features (minus the 80-watt 10-speaker audio system with 6-disc in-dash CD changer, MP3/WMA capability, SRS Circle Surround Automotive™ audio enhancement, and vehicle speed-sensing volume adjustment)
· 100-watt 10-speaker audio system with single-disc in-dash CD player and MP3/WMA capability
· Fully synchronized 5-speed manual transmission
· Multifunction screen displaying navigation system information, trip computer (current and average fuel economy, driving range, ambient temperature, calculator and maintenance indicator)
· Touch-screen GPS navigation system with 7" high-resolution L.C.D. screen and auxiliary inputs for portable multimedia devices
· SIRIUS® Satellite Radio

Chana - Benni

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER new Chinese automaker in town. Not many outside China would have heard of Chongqing-based Chana Auto but the company’s resume is impressive – it started manufacturing vehicles way back in 1957 (Geely only began in 1998 and Chery, 1999), and has current joint ventures with Ford and Suzuki.

Chana’s debut model in Singapore is the Benni, a compact five-door hatchback. If you can’t get past the odd-sounding name, just remember it’s called the Ben Ben in China…

It breaks no new ground in styling, but neither does it try too hard to be distinctive and end up looking laughably weird like some other Chinese cars.

There’s clean, smooth styling lines that will probably keep the Benni looking fresh for some time to come, with the detailing around the bonnet, headlamps and front bumper being particularly neat. It certainly doesn’t come across as a sub-$40K car at first glance.

But the standard wheels look a little undersized, especially since the car is taller than average and sits quite high off the road. Bizarrely, Chana not only lists ground clearance figures in the brochure but also the approach and departure angles. They must have some monster road humps in Chongqing.

As of now you can have any powertrain configuration you like, as long as it’s a 1,301cc engine with a five-speed manual gearbox. An automatic version arrives later this year.

The engine has impressive on-paper specs: all-alloy construction, twin camshafts, 16 valves and a 84bhp power output. But does all this translate to a good drive?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Perodua Nautica 4WD

The Perodua Kembara was launched in 1998, and as one of the cheapest 4WD SUVs in the market, it took the lion’s share of the SUV market - 60% by 1999. The Kembara’s successor - the Perodua Nautica 4WD was launched today and Perodua seems to be approaching it differently, bringing it as a premium product imported from Japan (a first for a Perodua) with only one variant priced at RM89,900 OTR with insurance. While the Kembara took 60%, Perodua only intends to take 5% of the current SUV market, with sales of about 150 to 200 units monthly.

The Perodua Nautica is essentially a Perodua-badged version of the short wheelbase Daihatsu Terios/Toyota Rush. The front bumper and grille is different, and these along with the rear bumper are made locally in Malaysia, while the rest of the car comes completely assembled from Japan. For lighting, you get foglamps and twin projector halogen headlamps (a step up from the highline Toyota Rush which has a single projector) while the rear brake lamp cluster use conventional bulbs.

The chassis is based on a derivative of the Toyota Avanza platform but has additional reinforcements to make it 30% stiffer than its derivative models. The suspension design consists of MacPherson struts at the front and a live axle at the rear.

The longitudinally mounted 1.5 liter DVVT engine is the 3SZ-VE producing 109hp at 6,000rpm and 141Nm of torque at 4,400rpm. This engine is also found in the Rush and Avanza 1.5. It is mated to a single overdrive 4-speed automatic, and a full-time 4WD system which has a centre differential lock which can be activated from a button on the dashboard. It locks so that the front and rear axles rotate at the same speed.

The shifter for the 4-speed automatic is located in a more conventional position between the two front seats, unlike another more premium-looking design which is available which positions it at an angle more towards the dashboard, allowing it to be much more closer to the steering wheel so that hand movements between the steering wheel and shifter is minimal.

Time for some dimensions - the Perodua Nautica weighs 1,200kg, is 4115mm long, 1695mm wide and 1740mm high. Interior space is 1800mm long, 1385mm wide and 1240mm high. The width between the front passengers is 700mm, and seat height is 740mm. The wheels are 16 inch alloys with 215/65R16 tyres. The cargo area takes 380 liters, and the rear seats can be folded down for more luggage capacity.

Additional niceties include electrically adjustable and flipping wing mirrors and a multi-info display on the meter panel which displays a clock, average fuel consumption, external temperature and remaining travel range.

Friday, May 09, 2008

2009 Nissan GTR Full Review and Test Drive

For a few seconds, you give in to the spectacle of driving a 2009 Nissan GT-R. This car attracts its own entourage and then takes you along for the ride. It's not just the Skyline mystique, either. It's the fact that even in production sheet metal, the R35 GT-R looks like a one-off concept stolen from a Southern California design studio. It has as many hard contours as a Porsche 911 has soft curves. You have the key fob, and still you ogle it.
Soon, though, you point the GT-R down an on-ramp and plant the throttle. The effortless brutality with which the 2009 Nissan GT-R gathers speed is what you'll describe to your friends — once everyone's tired of talking about the styling, that is.
What you won't tell them is that you suspect your supercar might be a sociopath. It doesn't flow around corners like your E46 BMW M3 did, nor does it transmit feedback through the steering wheel for the sheer pleasure of it.
Instead, the 2009 Nissan GT-R bends asphalt to its will. When it talks to you about tire grip, you get the feeling it's only bothering because you're part of its great plan to break free of the Earth's orbit. Should it ever achieve this, you imagine that its conversation will cease and it will simply expel you into the airless void. Until then, though, you have the conn.
Old Friends
We already know something of the 2009 Nissan GT-R's character. We've lapped Japan's Sendai Highland Circuit in a production Japanese-spec model, tested a second JDM-spec GT-R with full instrumentation on an airstrip outside Tokyo, and strapped the first R35 GT-R to reach American shores to a dynamometer. Then we lived out your ultimate automotive fantasy by driving a U.S.-spec GT-R from L.A. to Reno, with stops at a dry lake, a drag strip and Utah's Miller Motorsports Park during a 2,000-mile adventure.
So there's a sense of familiarity as we slide into this full-production, U.S.-spec Nissan GT-R. The suede seating surface grabs hold of our jeans and cinches us down into the proper driving position. These seats with their prominent bolsters haven't gotten any wider over the months, so if you're much past 200 pounds, it might be time to go back on Atkins. And although it's assembled with care, the R35 hasn't gotten any more opulent, either. If you want leather or wood, you're better off loading up the options on a base-model Porsche 911.
At nearly $76,000, our test car is the most expensive Skyline GT-R you can buy, thanks to its $3,000 Super Silver paint, which is applied in seven coats, baked five times and then polished by a real human being at Nissan's assembly plant in Tochigi, Japan. It's also a Premium model, which means it has heated seats, Bose speakers and side airbags, not to mention 255/40ZRF20 front and 285/35ZRF20 rear Bridgestone Potenza RE070A run-flat summer tires (in lieu of the Dunlop summer run-flats on the base model, which are not quite as sticky).
My Finger Is on the Button
We reach for the red ignition button and find the initial startup tumult worthy of the twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V6, rated (at last) by the factory at 480 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 430 pound-feet of torque from 3,200 to 5,200 rpm. But the engine settles into a low-frequency dirge that's nowhere near loud enough. There's no choice, so we shut the V6 off and start it a couple more times just to hear the engine come to life until our friend in the passenger seat (who owns an Evolution IX) is ready to kill us.
We drive slowly at first, letting everything warm up, and notice that the Nissan GT-R's six-speed, dual-clutch transmission is smoother than most automated manual gearboxes. It's one of the few that actually feels normal in automatic mode.
That's not to say it's completely without side effects. You can't really creep at low speeds amid all the automated clutching and declutching, so forget about multiple tries at parallel parking.
Also, the transmission tends to bang off upshifts like it just don't care, even when you're going easy. Car-guy friends comment on the positive shift quality, but the uninitiated ask, "What's that thud coming from the back of the car?"
The Whole Point
Before you can answer, you're deep into throttle, looking at triple digits on the auxiliary digital speedo, and then hauling down for the stop sign 500 feet ahead. Your passenger breaks into a light sweat. Only a few seconds have gone by.
You never feel turbo lag or even a power peak. You never even hear an exhaust note, just a lot of intake whoosh instead. And though you take the trouble to work the shift paddles, it all happens so quickly that you struggle to remember it later.
On a warm, sunny day at our Southern California testing facility, our Super Silver Nissan GT-R finds a little more traction than the Solid Red JDM-spec car we tested on the bumpy airstrip in Japan. With launch control engaged, it hits 60 mph in 3.5 seconds (or 3.2 seconds with one foot of rollout like on an NHRA drag strip), while the Japanese GT-R needed 3.6 seconds (or 3.3 seconds with rollout).
Our U.S.-spec R35 loses its edge over the JDM GT-R by the quarter-mile mark, though. It runs an 11.7-second quarter-mile at 116.8 mph, while the Japanese car goes through in 11.6 seconds at 120.9 mph. Note that these latest numbers reflect our transition to reporting NHRA-style trap speed, which is the average of a car's speed over the last 66 feet of the quarter-mile. (The idea behind the switch in our testing protocol is that you can take your car to any drag strip and directly compare your time slip with our numbers; look for a feature story in the next couple of weeks on how we do our instrumented testing.)
Even if you look at the U.S.-spec GT-R's instantaneous quarter-mile speed of 117.7 mph, there's no denying it's slower than the JDM GT-R. The reason is, it's making fewer horsepower while running on our inferior 91-octane gasoline. The red GT-R benefited from the 94-to-95-octane fuel that's readily available in Japan.
So on this day, the 2009 Nissan GT-R does not beat the Porsche 911 Turbo, which recorded an 11.6-second quarter-mile at 118.5 mph during an '07 test. But it's still faster than every other production car on the planet.
Other Records Will Be BrokenThe R35 GT-R stops shorter than any other car, too. Think about a 60-mph-to-0 braking distance in the double-digits.
Really. Ninety-eight feet. On the eighth run. That's a new Inside Line record, a title previously held by the 2008 BMW M3, which stops in 100 feet.
And yet the GT-R is not a lightweight car. Our Super Silver GT-R Premium weighs in at 3,900 pounds. Its 15-inch rotors are steel, not lightweight carbon ceramic. At the test track, everyone's asking, "What happened to the laws of physics?"
Even in normal traffic, you can tell these brakes are something special. The bite is immediate and powerful, yet response never feels too aggressive.
And Still Others Threatened
As you turn onto your favorite back road, the Nissan GT-R shrinks around you, leaving you just enough air to breathe. You're cornering faster than you usually do, even through the tight stuff that shouldn't be suitable for a car of such girth.
You feel the seriousness with which the R35 GT-R approaches the mission. It doesn't roll. It doesn't fumble over midcorner bumps. And its steering, which is quick and loaded with feel, is also quite heavy. Hope you like it heavy.
We also hope you like cars with four driven wheels, because the GT-R's ATTESA E-TS all-wheel-drive system exerts huge authority over this car's cornering behavior.
Sometimes the 2009 Nissan GT-R acts like it's a rear-wheel-drive car, but more often, the AWD system is moving power between the wheels (up to an even split of 50 percent front/50 percent rear) to keep the R35 on the proper line. The system even determines a target yaw rate based on steering input and makes adjustments in the torque split using actual real-time data from the car's yaw and lateral-g sensors.
There's similar technology featured by the Mitsubishi Evo X, but the GT-R's execution feels very different, and not just because it's built from rear-drive platform architecture and aimed at a more elite crowd. It doesn't really give its driver a chance to make mistakes. It finds the fastest way through a corner no matter what.
Of course there's a flip side to this sophistication. The GT-R doesn't play. If you revel in the way a 911 can be tossed into a corner, or the way a Corvette Z06 loves a powerslide, or the way a CLK63 Black Series abuses corners of all persuasions, the R35 GT-R can seem cold, perhaps even too narrowly focused on the efficient physics of performance.
Then you watch the GT-R go through the slalom at 74 mph (1 mph faster than the JDM-spec car thanks to better surface conditions) and wonder how you could think such a thing. This is only 0.2 mph slower than the '08 Dodge Viper and that car wears ridiculously huge 345/30ZR19 rear meats.
Only on the skid pad do the 2009 Nissan GT-R's considerable mass and slight stubbornness become liabilities — and only if the goal is 1.0g. The GT-R pulls 0.96g, just the same as the 2,000-pound Lotus Exige S.
Best Car Ever?
Depending on your drive to work, you might have some words for Nissan about the GT-R's ride quality. There's a center-stack switch for adjusting the Bilstein adaptive dampers, and after bludgeoning our first expansion joint, we waste no time selecting "Comf." But comf never comes. We can't detect any change in the damping at all.
Maybe this means we're not hard-core enough to drive a 2009 Nissan GT-R. Or maybe it means a grand-touring suspension package will turn up in a few years. But there's an easier solution if you want in on the R35 Skyline GT-R experience. Don't take the freeway to work. Use the back roads instead.
You'll drive them faster than you ever have before. Maybe you'll never know exactly what the GT-R is up to behind the scenes, but when you can out-accelerate, out-handle and out-brake anything short of a Formula 1 car, do you really care?

2007 Hyundai Genesis Coupe Concept

- Replacement for the Tiburon based on shortened version of the Genesis rear-wheel drive platform, six-speed manual, limited-slip differential
- Hopped-up 3.8-liter V-6 from Veracruz making more than 300 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque, 0-to-60 mph in less than six seconds

- Brembo twin-piston calipers front and rear

- Concept that closely mirrors production coupe, which will arrive in the spring of 2009

Hyundai says: "The mission for Concept Genesis Coupe was to create a pure performance car with a design that would capture the imagination of hardcore automotive enthusiasts," said Joel Piaskowski, chief designer at the Hyundai Design Center in Irvine, Calif. "With its aggressive look from just about any angle, I think we have been able to do that."

We say: We're not sure we love the droopy rear-side window treatment, but the Genesis Coupe Concept sure does look menacing. And don't forget that Hyundai has also promised a turbocharged four-cylinder for even less money. Can you say "drift machine?"

SEAT Ibiza to get 3-door body variant

The new SEAT Ibiza was first introduced as the SEAT Bocanegra Concept car, which was a nice evil-looking 3-door car. The production Ibiza that was launched later was a 5-door. It didn’t look too bad, but it was obvious the 3-door looked alot better.

The good news is SEAT has just announced it will be producing a 3-door variant of the Ibiza as well, and a twin-charged 1.4 TFSI Cupra hot hatch version will feature more design cues from the Bocanegra Concept like the bumper, grille and headlamps.

Hyundai i800 Launched !

Hyundai has unveiled the Hyundai i800, which is actually the UK market name for the Hyundai H1 Starex. It will go on sale on the 20th June 2008 onwards for £19,495.

The i800 moniker most likely refers to its ability to carry 8 people comfortably with 851 liters of boot space remaining even when all 8 people are on board. Each passenger has their own individually controllable overhead vent. Admittedly it is a minibus-style MPV, but Hyundai says they have tried to give the i800 a more car-like ambiance.

The Hyundai i800 is 5,125mm long, 1,920mm wide and 1,925mm tall, and has a turning circle of 5.61 meters. Under the hood is a 2.5 liter CRDi turbodiesel engine with a variable geometry turbocharger producing 170 PS and 392Nm of torque. Hyundai says with its 75 liter tank filled with diesel, the i800 can achieve more than 900km of mileage.

A lower powered, lower spec version for more industrial usage will come later at a cheaper price.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Audi A4 Hardcore Marketing in Singapore

Audi Singapore has spent a big sum in launching the new 2008 Audi A4 saloon.
With confidence to capture the market with this new beauty, let see what A4 about.

Antonov Dual-Speed Supercharger

UK-based Antonov Automotive Technologies is advocating the use of a dual-speed supercharger (which they are already producing and continuously improving) for the current trend of downsizing displacement and force inducting engines in efforts to improve fuel economy and emissions.

"Car makers are increasingly looking at superchargers to enhance the performance of small engines. Unlike turbochargers there are no heat issues to manage, and the study of exhaust gases can then be assigned to energy recovery systems,” says Antonov operations director Chris Baylis.

According to Antonov, a dual-speed supercharger which can run faster at low engine RPMs for that instant “kick” and run slower at high engine RPMs to extend the boosted torque curve across the rev range can be much cheaper than complex combinations of a supercharger and turbocharger like the Volkswagen 1.4 liter TSI’s twin-charger.

Vauxhall VXR8 Gets 6.2L LS3 V8 Engine

Vauxhall has updated its UK-market Vauxhall VXR8, a badge-engineered version of the Holden HSV Clubsport. The Chevrolet LS2 engine under the hood has been replaced by the latest LS3, which is larger in displacement at 6,162cc versus the LS2’s 5,967cc.

Other than just raw displacement, the LS3 also has other advantages over the LS2 such as high-flow cylinder heads, and an enhanced valvetrain design.

Despite quite a few modifications, power goes up only by 14 PS, with the V8 now rated at 431 PS at 6,000rpm. Thankfully emissions and fuel consumption are rated the same as the outgoing LS2. Translated to road times, the VXR8’s 0 to 100km/h sprint time drops by 0.1 seconds to 4.9 seconds.

Other changes include a standard gearbox oil cooler for models with an automatic gearbox, and a new colour called Heron White

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Munich/Cernobbio. To mark the 30th anniversary of the BMW M1 super sports car, BMW Group Design is presenting a homage to this legendary model as part of the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2008. The BMW M1 designed by Giorgio Giugiaro was a car of superlatives and a highly emotive vehicle that was uncompromisingly primed for the race track. Spawning this development was the BMW Turbo by Paul Bracq, a revolutionary concept car which, in addition to its groundbreaking functional design, also boasted a raft of technical innovations. It is from these two unique vehicles that the BMW M1 Homage takes its cue - a design study that pays tribute to its forerunner models and an embodiment of the competence, creativity and potential of the BMW Group Design team.

"For BMW, heritage is always also a living heritage. Drawing inspiration from your own past and thereby reinventing yourself - that is exactly what the BMW M1 Homage demonstrates in impressive style."

Dr Klaus Draeger, BMW Group Board Member, Development
A particular forte of BMW Group Design is to draw on its own powerful history and actively feed this into the design of the future. The BMW M1 Homage is a design study in the tradition of a BMW Turbo that represents a contemporary take on the BMW M1 and the mid-engine concept. This tribute exhibits an emotional design that showcases technology and integrates it into the overall aesthetics of the vehicle.

The Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este provides the perfect backdrop for the BMW M1 Homage. Here automotive beauties from the past meet the concept cars and design studies of the future. It is in this dynamic field of tension between past and present that the BMW Group Design team affords insights into its own perspective on a historically inspired automotive future.

Homage to the BMW M1.
"For a company as for a product, it is important to be aware of one's roots. In the spirit of Giugiaro and Bracq, the BMW M1 Homage unites the BMW values of design and technology in a highly emotional and exciting interpretation."

Christopher E. Bangle, Director Design BMW Group
The BMW M1 was an utterly uncompromising super sports car oozing passion; its forerunner, the BMW Turbo by Paul Bracq, displayed innovative technical solutions that found their expression in emotional design. It is precisely this blend - of technology and design, rationality and passion - that the BMW M1 Homage embodies. It presents an exciting and authentic interpretation of the BMW M1 and the mid-engine concept from a present-day perspective, and the legacy of the BMW M1 Homage is obvious at first glance. Unquestioningly it takes up the graphic play of the hallmark BMW M1 colours black and orange and interprets them anew. The Liquid Orange paintwork exclusively developed for the BMW M1 Homage cites the classic BMW M1 colour, yet surprises with its powerfully iridescent play of colour and brilliant depth. It shapes the extrovert surface language and strikingly highlights the eloquent interplay of convex and concave surfaces.

Mention the BMW M1, and another feature that immediately springs to mind is the characteristic twin logo at the rear, on the right and left edge above the tail lights. For BMW, this particular arrangement of its emblems has always signalled a mid-engined model. In the development stage of the BMW M1 this dual emblem was the first styling element to be approved even before the initial sketches were drawn. Likewise, it was confirmed from the outset that the BMW M1 Homage would feature the same twin badges. Other specific styling cues taken from the BMW M1 are the air vents in the bonnet and the louvres on the rear windscreen, as well as the black cutline dividing the roofline from the rear section of the body. Overall, the exterior dimensions of the BMW M1 Homage are in keeping with those of the BMW M1; only the extended wheelbase indicates a larger passenger cell.

Emotional design at the flashpoint between tradition and modernism.
The BMW M1 Homage takes long familiar elements from the BMW Design repertoire, reinterprets them and couches them in a new context. Its design brings together past and present, expanding the observer's perception through new design solutions that find their expression in typical BMW style. If the contrasting colours were a dominant design theme for the BMW M1, this contrast is perpetuated in the BMW M1 Homage through its surface styling. Familiar elements, such as the trademark proportions, are combined with new and exciting lines, surfaces and details to create an up-to-date interpretation of the BMW M1, which remains to this day an extraordinary car.

Shunning the strong wedge shape of other mid-engine cars, the BMW M1 Homage consciously opts for BMW's characteristic proportions. A relatively long engine compartment, a clearly defined transition into the A-pillar and a stretched window line featuring the "Hofmeister" kink instantly give it away as a bona fide BMW. The horizontal flow of lines lowers the car's visual centre of gravity and lends it an air of sovereignty.

Though the BMW M1 already boasted extremely harmonious and sporty proportions, its surface design was not yet an explicit styling issue and was dominated by high-contrast graphic themes. Today, however, next to the car's proportions, it is primarily the unusual surface styling that determines the strong recognition value of a BMW model. For some years now, all BMW vehicles have exhibited a striking and unique design language. The sculpting of the surfaces demands substantial experience and craftsmanship at the highest level. Only through the combination of craft skills, state-of-the-art technology and a sure sense of the personality of each BMW can designers and modellers achieve the overall sculptural effect that lends a BMW its unique character. The BMW M1 Homage systematically melds the proportions and graphic themes of the BMW M1 with the surface language of the new BMW look - a combination that imbues the vehicle with an exciting, sporty and authentic emotionality.

The front-end styling of the BMW M1 Homage adopts many of the graphic design themes of the BMW M1: the contrast between the black, recessed surfaces and the car colour, the small, squat kidney grille and the "invisible" headlamps. And yet the front of the BMW M1 Homage is an absolute novelty for BMW. Each element assumes a function: the hallmark twin kidney, for example, is not only a distinguishing feature of the BMW brand but combines aerodynamic, cooling-air routing and safety solutions. The design of the headlamps, meanwhile, is a new iteration of the retractable headlights of the BMW M1. Like the lamps on the historic model, those on the BMW M1 Homage are only visible when switched on. When not in use they are discreetly integrated into the front-end design and "disappear" into the recessed black cutline, almost like pop-up headlights.

Along the side of the car all the lines, surfaces and details lead the eye from the front end along the stretched engine compartment and clearly defined A-pillars before converging at the centre of the vehicle. Two expressive lines are drawn from the front along the flanks of the vehicle towards the engine compartment area. The flow of lines begins in a straight, disciplined fashion at the front end, lowering the optical centre of gravity of the BMW M1 Homage and highlighting its low-slung stance. From the middle of the car, however, the lines break up. The power of the design is focused precisely where the power of the vehicle also lies - at the engine. Strong, sensuous sweeping lines accentuate the car's mid-engine concept, the design emphasising the mechanics behind it, the engineering skills and the engine expertise of the BMW Group.

The roofline of the BMW M1 Homage is flatly tapered, extending into and around the rear. In so doing it draws a continuous line and forms a link between the two sides of the car. It is on this line, above the tail lights, that the hallmark twin BMW logo can also be found.

"Engineering is beautiful - let's show it!"
The overall design is driven by functionality and each detail has its purpose. Aspects such as aerodynamics, cooling-air routing and safety lend the BMW M1 Homage technical substance and make it a genuine BMW. A telling symbol of this is the kidney grille design of the BMW M1 Homage, fulfilling as it does several functions at the same time. The twin kidney isn't just a signature BMW feature, it is also part of the car's honed aerodynamics: it guides the air to the engine cooling as well as constituting the front section of a crash box, similar to the monocoque chassis of a Formula One race car.

Inspired by aircraft design, the car as a whole also boasts sophisticated air ducting through the body. For example, the cooling-air routing for the engine is positioned below the roofline, in the black recessed cutline along the side of the vehicle behind the window graphic. Small flaps and openings guide the air stream into the engine compartment to ensure an adequate supply of cooling air.

Vision and inspiration.
"The BMW M1 Homage clearly manifests the creativity and potential of the BMW Design team. A project such as this is a valuable source of inspiration for our day-to-day work."

Adrian van Hooydonk, Director Design BMW Automobiles
The BMW M1 Homage holds great significance for the BMW Group Design team, its genesis epitomising both a living tradition and an innovative future. This vehicle is designed as a source of inspiration; it sets out to challenge us to question and rethink what we see around us. The BMW M1 Homage pays eloquent tribute to the BMW Turbo and the BMW M1, which in their design were well ahead of their time. Originally slated as "merely" a design study or small series, their influence remains very palpable today - 30 years on.

Toyota Displays Its Largest Beijing Show Lineup Ever

TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announced today that it is displaying a total of 50 production and concept vehicles at the 2008 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, held from today until April 28 at the new China International Exhibition Center in Beijing, China.

The display—aimed at responding to the rapidly diversifying Chinese market—is the largest and most-varied Toyota/Lexus exhibit ever at the biannual Beijing event. Production models shown include the compact Yaris (to be built in Guangzhou, China from the end of May) and the new Vios and Lexus LX570 SUV, both introduced in China earlier this year. The most-ever concept cars on display for Toyota/Lexus at the Beijing show—seven, including six appearing in China for the first time, such as the iQ compact and the personal mobility i-REAL, indicate Toyota's direction regarding the environment and energy diversification.

The display also highlights advances in environmental and safety technologies, with cutaway models of the Prius and LS600h hybrids and the GOA (Global Outstanding Assessment) collision-safety body represented by a crash-tested Camry and Crown, models that both received a five-star safety rating under the C-NCAP (China New Car Assessment Program) introduced in 2006.

In addition, at a press conference at the show today, TMC President Katsuaki Watanabe elaborated on Toyota's vision and initiatives for contributing to the achievement of sustainable mobility in China and elsewhere.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Upcoming RWD Subaru coupe causes worry

Subaru is worried that its upcoming “AE86 spiritual successor” rear-wheel drive coupe that it will share with Toyota may erode its image as a niche all-wheel drive specialist, according to Subaru’s overseas marketing chief Masatsugu Nagato.

Its marketing team also has to figure out how to differentiate its own version of the car from the Toyota product, as it is very likely that there will be many major markets where both cars will be sold side by side as there will not be Toyota-only or Subaru-only designated markets.

Then again, we can look at Audi, a car manufacturer that is much older than Subaru. Audi is now rather famous for its quattro all-wheel drive system despite having many front-wheel drive models in its line-up. Is rear-wheel drive for the new small Subaru really a cause for worry? At least it still uses a horizontally-opposed engine! As long as it is a fantastic drive, they should do fine. After all, the rear wheel drive boxer engine specialist image already has another car to "taint” it - the new Subaru Justy.

According to Autocar UK, the Subaru boxer engine in question will be a normally aspirated 2.0 liter inline-4 boxer putting out 175 horsepower for the base model, with a turbocharged 2.5 liter model to come later, possibly with all-wheel drive. Autocar says they have viewed top-secret sketches of the car and have produced the artist impression shown in the thumbnail above based on those sketches. You can click the thumbnail to view the full image. It looks rather like a Scion tC crossed with a Hyundai Coupe.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Swift Crash !

It's a common test-driving practice to attack a corner a bit aggressively and "see what she can do." A swan dive was the answer a driver in India received from a four-door Suzuki/Maruti Swift DZire during a test session.
The car skidded out of control, hit a large rock, and then tumbled into the Shambhavi River. The attempt to emulate the Amphicar wound up more like an impression of Alvin, unfortunately. All four occupants were injured and ended up in the hospital, while the car itself appears to be a total loss upon its winching to shore. Reckless driving has been cited as the cause, although with a name like Swift, it's possible the driver was just trying to follow instructions. We wonder if driver training in India is as dismal as here in the United States, and judging from the looks of the car, we're inclined to think that the injuries were due to a lack of seatbelt use.

Nissan 360: the Otti and the Moco

Kei cars. To know them is to love them, or to tower over them in Gulliver-like wonder. Both the iridescent colored Moco and Otti feature the 0.66-liter engines common to the Kei class, meaning each also boasts 54 thundering mares beneath their ridiculously tiny hoods. Once up to speed, they run nicely, and they're pretty quiet. But these are not cars to take when you're late for anything.

They have lots of room inside and enough controls to operate them on public roads. They are both fine cars. The Otti adds to that with a chic little IP featuring good looking materials and colors, a power rear sliding door on the passenger side that you can open from the driver's seat, a seriously neat set of cupholders, and the world's smallest tailpipe

Regarding the Moco, a rebadged Suzuki MR Wagon, Nissan says "the current generation model features a stylish exterior and interior." The Otti is Nissan's version of the Mitsubishi eK Wagon. It's described as a minicar "for daily living," and "has experienced extremely strong sales in the Japanese market." Yes. What they said.

Toyota - High-Tech Simulator Helps Racecar Safety

THE FIA INSTITUTE and TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) have combined technology and expertise to help improve safety in high-speed racecar accidents.

TMC has developed a computer simulation which recreates high speed accidents and their effects on human physiology. Using the new system called Total Human Model Safety (THUMS), the FIA Institute and TMC have been able to study the kind of serious injuries that are difficult to measure with conventional crash-test dummies. The results of the new study are in the process of completion.

The FIA Institute targeted this technology specifically to help study high speed rear impact crashes in the FIA Formula One World Championship and Indy Racing League (IRL). The THUMS technology has proved a very effective system in analyzing the complex interaction between the driver's body and the car in a high speed accident.

The FIA Institute and Dr Terry Trammell, a fellow of the FIA Institute and consultant to IRL, have provided TMC with data on such accidents and information on racecar seat structures. TMC has been using the data and information to carry out virtual collisions using THUMS and to simulated racecar seat designs, which have succeeded in replicating spinal injuries from high-speed rear impact collisions.

This cooperative effort has led to a determination of the mechanism for spinal-stress buildup — the result of a combination of g-forces and the unique seating position used in F1 and IRL racecars. The research has prompted considerations for measures to reduce stress on the spine during rear impact collisions.

The FIA Institute expects this effort to lead to improved safety for F1, IRL and other single-seater racecar championships.

SIC Offers 50% Discount on Super GT Tickets

Sepang International Circuit (SIC), promoter of the Super GT International Series Malaysia 2008, has announced a 50 percent discount on the race tickets for the first 10,000 purchases with immediate effect.

“This offer is to kick off our promotions for the race, which will be held in June. The offer is limited to the first 5,000 purchases of the Main Grandstand tickets and another 5,000 for the K1 Grandstand. So, in total, it will be 10,000 special priced discounted tickets for the fans,” says SIC Press Officer Azhar Ghazali.

Azhar said the offer would be the first phase of the event’s promotion, which would include the Super GT nationwide tour featuring GT Queens from Japan and the official launch of the event in Kuala Lumpur in May.

To be held at Sepang Circuit from June 20 to 22, the 2008 Super GT International Series Malaysia is also Round 4 of the series, which would run in nine rounds. All the others rounds are held in Japan, making the Sepang round very special for the drivers and teams.

With the offer, prices of the Main Grandstand tickets have been reduced to RM75 against its normal price of RM150 for a full two-day package to enjoy the event. The first 5,000 purchases of tickets for K1 Grandstand would be only RM40 for entry on both Saturday (June 21) and Sunday (June 22) as compared to the normal price of RM80.

The 50 percent promotion tickets, however, are only available at the ticketing counter at SIC in Sepang and the SIC Ticketing Office at KL Sentral, Kuala Lumpur.

“Alternatively, the offer will end on May 15 if there are insufficient takers. But, I am very confident that these special priced tickets would be sold out fast. So, racing fans, don’t waste your time and get these tickets now,” Azhar added.

Immediately after all the offered 10,000 tickets are taken up, ticket purchasers would be entitled to a 10 percent discount if they buy them before May 31. As such, the tickets would be priced at RM135 and RM72 for the Main Grandstand and the K1 Grandstand respectively.

Entry for Friday on June 20 is free for seats at the Main Grandstand. Friday’s race programme would feature the practice session of the Super GT International Series drivers and programmes for the five support races –Asian Formula Renault Series, Asian GT Challenge, Aston Martin Cup,Formula V6 Asia and the Asian Touring Car Series.

According to Azhar, SIC was also offering a student package, which provides a 50 percent discount for purchases of the Main Grandstand tickets. This offer would stand until June 22.

“A family package is also being offered which provided Main Grandstand tickets for two adults and two children above seven years old at RM375 only. Entry for children below seven years old is free,” he said.

Passes for Sunday’s Pit Walkabout and the Circuit Safari Experience are priced at RM100 only while parking charges are priced at RM2 for bikes;RM5 for cars and RM20 for buses.