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Showing posts from October, 2007


First Drive: 2008 Maserati GranTurismo


With the GranTurismo coupe, Maserati invites comparisons to the Mercedes-Benz CL550, BMW 6-series, and Jaguar XKR. But mention that the XKR costs some 26 grand less than the GranTurismo’s base price of $114,650, or that the Jaguar is almost 300 pounds lighter than the GranTurismo’s claimed 4150-pound curb weight, and the Maserati folks shrug it off with lots of hand gestures. The same thing happens if you mention that the similarly priced BMW M6 has 95 more horsepower and 44 more pound-feet of torque than the 405 horses and 339 pound-feet of torque that come from the GranTurismo’s 4.2-liter V-8. “Power is not our race,” they say. On the other hand, the GranTurismo has something the BMW and the Jaguar don’t—two back seats with space for standard-sized humans. As does the Mercedes CL550, but the GranTurismo’s claimed 0-to-60-mph time of 5.1 seconds is 0.2 second quicker than what Mercedes estimates for the Benz.The Maserati lacks the electronic gadgets available on the Benz, BMW…

Tokyo show: VW grows up

Japan may be the land of the miniature solution, but VW's up! Concept has grown for its visit to Tokyo.

This is the space up, minivan version of Volkswagen's baby city car we saw back in Frankfurt. Unveiled at the Tokyo show, it sits on a longer wheelbase than its three-door sister, and has grown in length by 23cm and height by 40cm.

However, the space up! (anyone else hating that name already?) is still 15cm shorter than the VW Fox - seriously dinky for a four-seater.

The clean lines (or contrived retroism, depending on your point of view) of the styling remain similar to the original up!, and the engine is still strung out at the rear. VW is still touting the flexibility of the concept, and reckons it could be powered by a petrol, diesel or electric motor.

Insiders reckon we could see two- and three-cylinder engines powering the production up!, depending on the market: expect China and India to get the most frugal, low-cost versions, while Europe could see higher-powered variant…

Now that's what I call an M1: BMW 135i Coupe.

There's been much talk of the BMW 135i Coupe being 'the new M1'. As Piers Ward explained in his first drive of the most powerful booted 1, that's not quite the case... but this Tokyo concept brings the possibility of a properly hardcore 1-Series a lot closer.

Labelled the 1-Series tii - in homage to BMW's 1960s racer of the same designation - it's a stripped-out, lightweight 1 Coupe which, says BMW, gives an insight into what an out-and-out motorsport-focused 1 might look like.

And it looks good. With yards of exposed carbon fibre across the bonnet, wing mirrors and front air intakes, and a Fiesta ST-like blue-on-white colour scheme, the tii brings a bunch more purposefulness to the 1's slightly saggy looks.

That's aided by remodelled side sills and a new front bumper arrangement, as well as a neat-looking pair of 18-inch five-spoke alloys. The inside, predictably, is swathed in Alcantara.

All good, but - what with this being a concept and all - there's…

2008 Lotus Supercharged Elise SC

Lotus is a global high tech company and expanding fast. We are committed to driving forward with technology for both Lotus Cars and our Engineering Clients, spearheading research into ever-increasing fields, such as, hybrids, electric vehicles and renewable fuels.

Lotus Cars now retails its products in 32 countries and is growing quickly in new territories such as Malaysia, Korea and China in South East Asia and the Gulf States in the Middle East. Lotus Engineering continues to provide and develop high technology engineering consultancy for the worlds motor industry.

Lotus powers into the 2008 Model year with the most powerful series production version of the
Elise to date the Supercharged Elise SC and a 240 PS Performance Pack option for the
Supercharged Exige S that further reinforces its credentials as a race car for the road.
But extra performance is only a part of the 2008 Model Year story. There are several other
enhancements that make the Elise and Exige ranges more sophisticated and…

Full Test: 2008 Infiniti EX35. This Crossover Thinks It's a Sport Coupe

We're hammering the 2008 Infiniti EX35 on Mulholland Highway in the mountains of darkest Malibu where the movie people live and we've just passed the Rock Store where bikers profile on weekends. Ahead lies the snakiest mile of the whole road.

So we drive even faster. The hard-edged 297-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 spins a little quicker while the front suspension occasionally chatters a little in the hairpins, and a short time later we get to the top in the kind of a rush that makes a whole day of driving worthwhile.

Then we look over our shoulder and realize that there's a whole backseat behind us, plus the big cargo compartment and we realize again that we've just done the whole Mulholland drive in some kind of crossover-utility thingy.

It's a little unseemly. Who knows what the locals thought? Probably figured we were some kind of Malibu catering service running a party platter to some screenwriters. But of course the 2008 Infiniti EX35 really isn't any kind of cros…

2008 Porsche 911 GT2

Presenting the new 911 GT2 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart, is proudly launching the most powerful 911 so far homologated for road use.

Through its striking design with large air intakes at the front and the rear wing so characteristic of this very special model, the new 911 GT2 expresses the power and performance potential of the fastest-ever 911 right from the start even at a standstill. Available exclusively with rear-wheel drive and a manual six-speed gearbox, this high-performance athlete accelerates to 100 km/h in just 3.7 seconds and reaches a top speed of 329 km/h (204 mph) on average fuel consumption of just 12.5 litres/100 km (equal to 22.6 mpg imp) in the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), thus offering a level of fuel economy regarded as quite impossible in this performance class just a few years ago.

The power unit of the new 911 GT2 is based on the six-cylinder boxer engine of the 911 Turbo, with air supply by two exhaust gas turbocharge…

2008 Toyota Camry Solara Review

What's New for 2008
The 2008 Toyota Camry Solara coupe and convertible are unchanged.

Usually, the two-door variants within a model line are flashier and sportier than their four-door counterparts. This was true of the Toyota Camry Solara coupe and convertible right after they were redesigned back in 2004. Since then, though, they've been upstaged by the Camry sedan, which grew more powerful in last year's overhaul. The injustice continues into 2008, as the Solara siblings stand pat while winds of change swirl around them. Rival import-brand manufacturers have launched better-performing, edgier-looking coupes, and relatively affordable hardtop convertibles are crowding into soft-top Solara price territory.

The Solara's diminishing appeal is due at least in part to its exterior styling, which although curvy and sophisticated, has never come across as trendy or youthful. This is particularly true when you look at the car from the back, as the rear deck appears t…

2008 Mercury Mariner Review

What's New for 2008
The 2008 Mercury Mariner gets a makeover inside and out. A more aggressive attitude marks the exterior design, and the cabin is more attractive and functional. The chassis and powertrain are virtually unchanged, however, meaning this "redesigned" Mariner has the same running gear as before.

Something of an anomaly in the marketplace, the compact but upscale Mercury Mariner SUV gets a not-so extreme makeover for 2008. The Mariner debuted three years ago as a more luxurious version of Ford's Escape. And like its relative, the Mariner's "top-half" revamping for this year means new sheet metal and a revised interior but no significant revisions to the chassis or running gear.

The changes in the looks department include a bolder grille, taller beltline and higher hood, all of which give this junior sport-ute a more aggressive curbside presence. Inside, the changes are more functional, including such touches as a multifunction dis…

2008 Jaguar S-Type Review

What's New for 2008
Jaguar's midlevel sedan enters its final year with several tweaks, all of them cosmetic. V6 and V8 models upgrade to standard 18-inch wheels and adapt the front bumper design of the S-Type R. The R, in turn, upgrades to 19-inch wheels.

The Jaguar S-Type has a fairly significant place in automotive history, signifying the first real fruit of the Ford-Jaguar partnership and the first step from either brand into the midsize luxury segment. The 2008 Jaguar S-Type represents the ninth and final year of production for this midsize, rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan.

Born as the classier-looking sibling of the Lincoln LS, the S-Type also enjoyed a higher-grade interior and more potent versions of both the V6 and V8 engines.Regardless of the prodigious power at the top of the lineup, the S-Type as a whole has become known more for walking the middle ground between performance and comfort. Its V6 delivers weak performance for this class, and even decked out in …

2008 Chrysler 300 Review

What's New for 2008
Significant changes are in store for the 2008 Chrysler 300. An updated interior includes new soft-touch surfaces, revised instrument panel and console designs, and available LED accent lighting. New luxury-oriented options include adaptive cruise control, a surround-sound audio system, a dedicated iPod interface, Sirius Backseat TV for the rear entertainment system and a new hard-drive based MyGIG multimedia system with optional navigation.

Safety has been enhanced with new front seat-mounted side airbags added to the 300's available side curtain airbag system. Wrapping everything up is freshened front and rear exterior styling and Chrysler's new limited lifetime powertrain warranty.

Mold-breaking cars don't come along very often. But that's exactly what happened when the Chrysler 300 debuted four years ago. Previous to the 300, modern full-size cars provided plenty of interior room and comfort but typically generated all the pizzazz an…

2008 Maserati GranTurismo Review

What We Know
The 2008 Maserati GranTurismo, a two-door coupe to complement the Quattroporte sedan, is yet another Italian beauty, this one penned by Pininfarina's Jason Castriota.

Successor to Maserati's Guigiaro-designed coupe and spyder, the upcoming GT is built on a shortened version of the Quattroporte's chassis. The GranTurismo is powered by a 405-horsepower version of the same Ferrari-sourced 4.2-liter V8 found across the Maserati range. In a nod toward the crucially important American market, where Maserati hopes to achieve significant sales gains with the GT, power is sent to the rear wheels through the ZF-built six-speed automatic transmission that just became available in the Quattroporte. With a platform converted from the rear-transaxle configuration necessary for the automated manual gearbox to the front-mounted automatic transmission, the GranTurismo should provide enough rear-seat space to make it something more than a cramped 2+2. Nevertheless, we expect a we…

World Debut of Audi Metroproject quattro, Not So Big in Japan

Show-goers size up new Audi sub-compact hatchback design study in Tokyo. Highlights:
• Latest in a long line of Audi design studies, many of which have entered series production virtually unchanged
• 3,910mm in length (A3 3dr 4,214mm), 1,750mm width (A3 1,765mm), 1,400mm high (A3 1,420mm)Audi Metroproject quattro• Combines new, more powerful 150PS version of 1.4 TFSI petrol engine with 30kW / 41PS electric motor driving rear wheels which reduces fuel consumption and emissions by around 15 per cent
• Capacity of lithium-ion batteries makes a range of up to 62 miles possible without petrol engine intervention. Batteries rechargeable via mains socket
• With engine and electric motor operating simultaneously a torque maximum of 440Nm (petrol engine 240Nm, electric motor 200Nm) is made available. 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds, 124mph top speed, 57.6mpg, 112g/km CO2
• Interior features innovative Audi mobile hand-held device offering mobile telephony, MP3 and video playback and GPS navigation Driver ca…

2008 Nissan GT-R

New Dimensional Multi- Performance Supercar Available in Early DecemberTOKYO (Oct. 24, 2007) - Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., today announced the launch of the Nissan GT-R, a new multi-dimensional performance machine that lives up to the concept of "an ultimate supercar for anyone, anywhere, at anytime". The Nissan GT-R features a newly developed Premium Midship package, including the world's first independent transaxle 4WD developed independently by Nissan. 2008 Nissan GT-RThe Nissan GT-R will be available in Japan mainly through Nissan High Performance Centers nationwide from December 6th.The 2008 Nissan GT-R was developed with a new understanding and appreciation of the Earth's natural forces - gravity, inertial force and aerodynamics - and translates those forces into a completely new design, maximizing tire grip and airflow.Basic vehicle dynamics and integration with the driver have also been examined, resulting in new componentry and creating a Human-Machine Interface…

2008 Lexus IS F Sport Sedan

The 2008 Lexus IS F high-performance sedan is the first production model to wear the brand's new "F" marque. Based on the robust IS sport sedan platform, the 2008 IS F will deliver 416 horsepower from a specially engineered 5.0-liter V8 engine and will accelerate from zero-to-60 mph in 4.6 seconds when it arrives at Lexus dealerships in early 2008. 2008 Lexus IS F Sport SedanIn addition to the exclusive V8, the 2008 IS F's performance credentials include racetrack-developed suspension and braking, and a specially calibrated version of the advanced Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system. Much of the IS F development took place at racetracks around the world including Germany's legendary Nurburgring Nordschleife, Circuit Paul Ricard in France, Japan's Fuji Speedway and the Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Japan. In fact, Fuji Speedway is the IS F's home circuit, and the shape of turn one was the inspiration for the F-logo design.The 2008 Lexus…

The Fiat 500 Wins the Prestigious “EuroCarBody 2007” Award

The new FIAT 500 has won the EuroCarBody 2007 award, the world’s most prestigious prize for car bodies. The ninth edition of the Forum organised by Automotive Circle International was held in Bad Nauheim/Frankfurt from October 16 to 18, attended by about 600 experts in the development of the design, materials, processes and manufacture of car bodies. 2007 Fiat 500The 600 specialists, from 15 international carmakers, gave the award to the Fiat 500, assigning it 38.33 points out of a possible 50. This enabled the “small” Fiat – the only segment A model present – to defeat the other 11 candidates from Japan, the United States, Europe and Russia.The experts particularly appreciated the contribution made by the innovative bodyshell to the car’s NCAP 5-star rating (with a total score of 35 points), and class 11 “Insurer Impact” assessment: this is a record that puts the Fiat 500 at the top of its class in the safety field, and is even more extraordinary if we remember that it has been achie…

2008 Ford Escape Hybrid

2008 Ford Escape Hybrid SUV Receives a New Look Inside and Out with Performance and Safety ImprovementsThe Ford Escape Hybrid is still the cleanest and most fuel-efficient SUV in the world, combining the fuel economy and emissions benefits of a full hybrid with the go-anywhere capability, toughness and spaciousness of the Ford Escape – America’s favorite small SUV.2008 Ford Escape HybridHighlights:
* Outstanding fuel economy. The 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid achieves up to 34 mpg in city driving – an improvement of nearly 14 percent compared to the 2007 model.
* Environmentally Friendly. All-new interior features the industry’s first fabric seating surfaces made from 100 percent recycled material.
* Upscale Appointments. New interior features Ford-first features such as “top of dash” information display, Ice Blue lighting and redesigned radio and climate controls.
* Outstanding performance. Acceleration performance is similar to a V-6, but with a smaller gas engine.
* Innovative technol…

Mercedes-Benz at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show 2007

Powerful, economical and clean diesel engines for the motherland of petrol hybridsStuttgart/Tokyo -- Oct 24, 2007 -- At the 40th Tokyo Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz is underscoring its position as the leading premium brand with a veritable pageant of compelling new models and innovative drive solutions. Among its motor show highlights in the homeland of the petrol hybrid, the inventor of the motor car and the diesel passenger car will be showcasing highly efficient, clean BLUETEC HYBRID versions of the C-Class and S-Class.
Hans Tempel, President and CEO of DaimlerChrysler Japan and Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show This unique modular drive concept, due to be launched shortly in various models and versions, will be premiered in the new E-Class in 2010. * E 320 CDI: first and only diesel passenger car approved for Japan * BLUETEC and BLUETEC HYBRID: cleanest, most economical diesel engines *…