The Final Countdown?

July 31st, 2011 by Tim Grimley

Since last putting fingers to keyboard, my world has been rocked by a sudden death. A seriously flawed yet fabulous flame flickered out of existence, taking with it just a little brightness from this world.

Did I hear someone mention Amy Winehouse? I think not. While the tragedy of a young life being gripped and seemingly snuffed out by a cocktail of addictions is definitely something to be mourned, pitied and – if lessons are to be learned – in suitable time scrutinised and criticised, she never really rocked my world.

Instead, I have been touched on an entirely more personal level by the untimely demise of my much loved BMW which suffered from a sudden and terrible loss of coolant atop Auckland’s harbour bridge on Tuesday. Thankfully the force of gravity was enough to see it down the other side where it eventually returned to a temperature on the right side of thermo-nuclear and was tentatively returned to Grimley Towers. And there it remains; forlornly abandoned on the driveway, having managed the ludicrously expensive trick of simultaneously rooting both its radiator and head gasket.

Ordinarily, my head would take control of matters, ask my heart round for a cup of coffee and while it was looking the other way club it unconscious with a decorative table lamp. Then, free of the debilitating influence of emotion, a $1, no-reserve TradeMe auction would be started and the circling vultures of vehicle breakers encouraged to descend. But this is not an ordinary week, because as keen viewers of Prime will have noticed, Top Gear returned to our screens last Sunday. Continue reading “The Final Countdown?” »

Skoda Superb TDI 4×4 Combi 2011 Review

July 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

For most kiwis looking to buy a comfortable and practical family wagon the name Skoda doesn’t immediately spring to mind. But why not? Is it because buyers are still stuck in the eighties when Skoda wore the brunt of naff jokes about quality? Or perhaps because folks know Skoda is European and worry about durability and value for money? Whatever the reason, for many wagon buyers the Skoda Superb isn’t even on their radar. But it damn well should be. Skoda’s med/large size wagon has many of its competitors beat in some key areas and build quality is certainly one of them. With a frugal diesel engine and a four-wheel-drive system the Superb can travel to remote locations and it won’t cost a lot to get there. So does this fringe player deserve a new place as a major force in the wagon market? Car and SUV thinks so, and after spending a week with the newest addition to the Superb range – the 4×4 Combi, we’re ready to tell you why.

Exterior Design
It may not be the sexiest wagon to ever pick up the groceries, but the Superb has everyman elegance and a sleek low look despite its generous proportions. It’s nicely balanced for a wagon without too much rear overhang and a tightly tapered hatch that gives few hints to the expansive cargo space within. It has a neutral face with chrome trim surrounding the corporate grille and acting as teardrops under its wrap around headlights. Bright fog lamps flank a wide lower air intake and a scalloped bonnet line leads into the raked back windscreen. Continue reading “Skoda Superb TDI 4×4 Combi 2011 Review” »

Hennessey Performance builds 1,000 hp CTS-V Coupe

July 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

American tuning firm Hennessey Performance has built a reputation behind building some of the most terrifying muscle machinery available and has just unveiled its latest package for the Cadillac CTS-V Coupe.

Named the V1000, this hardcore version of the CTS-V separates itself from lesser models with a full aerodynamic carbon fibre body kit, massive bonnet vents, a low front splitter, a new rear diffuser and deep side skirts. Mechanical upgrades include lowered sport suspension and Brembo 15-inch carbon ceramic brakes. Step inside and there’s a fully reworked interior with premium leather upholstery and an Alcantara headliner.

It certainly looks the part, but its under the bonnet where the the big changes are found to generate a full 1,000 horsepower. Power comes from a twin-turbo 427 LS V8 which has been upgraded with high-flow cylinder heads, forged pistons, rods and crank, a new crankshaft, upgraded fuel injectors, an intercooler and a revised ECU. This extensive tweaking has resulted in an engine that now pumps out 1,000 hp (746 kW) with 1,286 Nm of torque. Those figures are scary enough but this machine will sprint from standing to 100km/h in just 3.5 seconds, run the quarter mile in 10.9 seconds and go on to reach a top speed of 370 km/h. Continue reading “Hennessey Performance builds 1,000 hp CTS-V Coupe” »

Renault Twingo gets facelift for 2012

July 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Renault has just dropped the first image of its new 2012 Twingo micro car before it officially debuts at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show.

There is more than a hint of Nissan in the new Twingo with styling cues share with the Juke and it rolls on the same platform as the previous-generation Micra.

The new model features refreshed front a rear ends with an enlarged Renault badge on the front fascia and a rounder, wider grill. This limited refresh will need to carry the baby Renault for a few years but its nothing new for the model line. The first generation Twingo was in production for a staggering fifteen years from 1992 to 2007 when the second-gen model was initially introduced. Continue reading “Renault Twingo gets facelift for 2012” »

Ferrari details 458 Italia hand-built engine assembly (+video)

July 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The meaning of ‘hand built’ may seem obvious but what does the process really involve? Ferrari has decided to show the world how it builds an engine by hand with a video detailing the process of assembly for the 458 Italia’s 4.5-litre V8 engine.

The 458 Italia motor is produced at home in the company’s Maranello, Italy factory and the thorough nature of the staff is amazing. Wearing surgical gloves it is an exact process for the hands and also the high-tech machinery involved.

The 458 Italia engine produces 419kW of power and 540Nm of torque, it comes mated to a dual-clutch, seven-speed gearbox.

The video is in Italian with English subtitles, it’s an interesting watch, check it out below. Continue reading “Ferrari details 458 Italia hand-built engine assembly (+video)” »

Maserati details ambitious plans for new model range

July 28th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Maserati has detailed its ambitious plans to shift up a gear and increase annual sales to 50,000 units. There are new products that will push the growth with concepts scheduled to debut at the upcoming Frankfurt motor show.

What Maserati expect to become its volume seller is an all-new entry-level sedan (code-named the M157) it may be launched as early as next year and will compete directly with the Audi A6, BMW 5-Series and Mercedes E-Class. Expect luxury appointment on the inside but a Chrysler-sourced engine under the bonnet. The rumoured power source is a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 – based on the current Chrysler 3.6-litre V6 and alternatively, a 224 kW 3.0-litre V6 diesel currently shared with the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The new sedan is expected to cost between €55,000 to €70,000. Continue reading “Maserati details ambitious plans for new model range” »

Chrysler’s SRT8 models may receive supercharger option for 2012

July 28th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

A new horsepower war is brewing in the States between GM and Ford with their retro-inspired pony cars. Chrysler, in a bid to keep up with the big boys is now planning to step things up a notch with a new top tier of SRT vehicles featuring upgraded powerplants. If recent rumours come to fruition later this year, the Dodge Charger SRT8 and Chrysler 300 SRT8 will be made available with an Eaton-sourced supercharger. This blower will boost the output of these machines to somewhere around 540-570-horsepower.

The supercharger option may be a dealer install job and will be offered on 2013 model year cars. What’s more, Chrysler may fit its new eight-speed auto transmission to its four-door sports cars from next year. Continue reading “Chrysler’s SRT8 models may receive supercharger option for 2012” »

Daimler posts record $2.5 billion USD profit

July 28th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Daimler, the company who owns the Mercedes-Benz brand has just posted a record net profit of $2.5 billion USD for the second quarter of 2011. This has exceeded estimates and marks a 30 percent increase over the same period last year.

The results come from a much increased demand for Mercedes-Benz product, with sales increased to 357,600 units in the quarter, an increase on last year’s already record level of 342,500 units.

The big sellers for Mercedes were the freshly facelifted C-Class range, the S-Class flagship sedan and the new SLK roadster. The Chinese market has also become a gold mine for Mercedes-Benz where demand is currently greater than supply. Continue reading “Daimler posts record $2.5 billion USD profit” »

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