Mini Roadster officially revealed

October 31st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mini is continuing to expand its model family. The latest addition to the range is the Mini Roadster, this convertible variant is the sixth model in the brand’s current line-up and the first open-top two-seater in its history.

The two-seater features a manually-opening soft-top roof and plenty of unique packaging to appeal to Mini fans. As you’d expect it offers the high-handling abilities expected of a Mini and broad scope for individualisation.

The three-box body structure has a stepped rear end and a sweeping roadster look thanks to heavily raked A-pillars and a waistline rising up slightly along the length of the body towards the flat rear end. The Roadster sits 20 millimetres lower than the standard Mini Convertible.

The Roadster pushing its handling credentials with a bespoke chassis set-up, low centre of gravity, torsionally rigid body and optimised aerodynamic properties. Electronic tech includes Electric Power Steering and DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) as standard, DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) with EDLC (Electronic Differential Lock Control) optional. There’s also roll-over bars in polished stainless steel and an active rear spoiler that extends automatically at 80 km/h. Continue reading “Mini Roadster officially revealed” »

Lexus produces LFA supercar ‘making-of’ video

October 31st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It’s not everyday that a mainstream automaker decides to try its hand at building a world-class supercar. But when one has the motoring world has been given some of its most interesting machines like the Honda NSX, the Ford GT, the Dodge Viper, and more recently the Lexus LFA.

Any supercar takes years of development with fine-tuning and extensive testing. Toyota learned its lessons with the Lexus LFA and spent year’s and millions preparing the supercar for its debut. Now, to show the world just how tough making a supercar really is, the Japanese automaker has released a ‘making-of’ video. Continue reading “Lexus produces LFA supercar ‘making-of’ video” »

BMW starts new 3-Series production in Munich

October 31st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The new sixth-generation BMW 3 Series is officially on its way, with news that manufacturing has begun at its Munich plant.

To prepare for the new model BMW invested around €500 million into the Munich facility and safeguarded the jobs of around 9,000 workers. A portion of the money went toward the purchase of a new press that can operate at speeds of up to 17 strokes per minute and process up to 600 tons of steel per day. That means the plant could process all the metal in the Eiffel Tower in just 12 days.

In terms of cars the plant will be able to roll out over 900 units per day once it’s fully functioning.

Big Is Good. If It’s Small

October 29th, 2011 by Tim Grimley

As the advertising gurus working on behalf of Mitre 10 Mega are keen to remind us, big is good. And in many aspects of life, the grand certainly does tend to eclipse the diminutive. Not too many headlines are made about people celebrating small lottery wins, Hollywood blockbusters are rarely made about the lives of small-time celebrities and in the entire history of the internet the number of spam e-mails featuring promises of a reduced gentleman’s department totals precisely zero.

So you would imagine the boys and girls at Audi would have been delighted this week when the 10,000,000th example of the 80/A4 model rolled off the production line at their Ingolstadt plant. But seeing as the celebration largely consisted of making a grunt from the shop floor hold up a hastily assembled sign up in front of the vehicle which took them through the milestone – which, despite being the sporty S4 version, was essentially no different to any of the others – it seems not.

A sign of the times

I would like to think that thanks to their inherently sensible Teutonic nature, the four-ringed wonders had actually worked out that their ‘achievement’ was really nothing much to shout about; after all, despite some badge familiarity, they hadn’t made ten million of the same car.

Any claim that the current S4 is in some way linked to the original 80 which clunked and whirred its way out of the factory in 1966 is nothing short of ridiculous. The performance, safety and comfort are so many leagues apart, that the only real connection between the two is that they perform the same basic function. And that is like BAE Systems celebrating a billion Challenger Tanks because they’ve counted all the horses and elephants that served as heavy weaponry in wars before technology came along. Continue reading “Big Is Good. If It’s Small” »

Honda Accord Euro L 2012 Review

October 28th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It would be a difficult task tracking down a kiwi that has never driven or been a passenger in a Honda Accord. There are few models of car as entrenched in our land as the humble Accord, almost 900 are for sale right now on the Trade Me website. So after 35 years and eight generations how can Honda keep the Accord fresh and appealing? Splitting the model line into the Accord V6 and Accord Euro has gone some way to adapting to different tastes. But true success can only be found by continuing the Accord’s traditional strengths of style, affordability and all-rounder ability. Car and SUV spent some time with the facelifted 2012 Honda Accord Euro to see what’s new and what has stayed the same.

The Accord Euro has received fresh styling tweaks that include a new two-bar chrome grille, re-sculptured front bumper, foglight surrounds and reworked headlights. The taillights have also been replaced and there’s a splash of chrome detailing on the boot grab point. Our tested high-spec Euro L model was elegantly finished with twin chrome exhaust outlets, silver door handles and newly designed 17-inch 5-spoke wheels. All up, it’s a fairly tame facelift but the Accord Euro remains one of the more stylish entries in the mid-size sedan segment. Its clean lines and wide, athletic stance continue to have broad appeal. Continue reading “Honda Accord Euro L 2012 Review” »

Audi builds 10 millionth 80/A4 models

October 28th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

For any type of car 10 million is a big number to produce, but when it comes to luxury sedans that number is absolutely huge. Audi has a right to celebrate as it’s now produced 10 million A4/80 models.

Audi first produced the A4′s predecessor, the Audi 80, back in 1972 and the model line has stayed popular ever since. The 80 went through four-generations until it was replaced by the A4 in 1994. The A4 is now in it’s fourth generation and has seen over 5 million units produced.

The 10 millionth 80/A4 built was a red Audi S4 with a black and alabaster-white interior which rolled off the assembly line earlier this month.

The A4 is assembled at Audi’s plant in Ingolstadt, Germany with some models produced at the automaker’s Neckarsulm plant near Stuttgart. The current A4 comes in several variants including the sports-focused S4 models and has recently been facelifted.

New Ford Ranger is first ute to earn 5-Star safety

October 28th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The latest round of Euro NCAP safety testing has revealed that Ford’s new Ranger is the first pickup to achieve the organisation’s highest five-star rating. The 2012 Ranger finished with an overall score of 89%, which is the best ever recorded by a pickup truck in the European testing.

To break it down, the Ranger scored 96 percent for adult occupant safety, 86 percent for child occupant safety and 81 percent for pedestrian safety. The pickup’s “safety assist” systems also achieved a 71 percent score. The most impressive figure here is the 81 percent for pedestrian safety, this is the best rating ever for pedestrian protection among the cars tested by the Euro NCAP since it was established in 1997. A surprising result for a high-riding ute.

Euro NCAP secretary general Michiel van Ratingen, said: “With such good pedestrian protection, the Ford Ranger is undoubtedly raising the bar of safety in the category of pickup trucks, which had until now not proven to be the safest.” Continue reading “New Ford Ranger is first ute to earn 5-Star safety” »

Subaru BRZ rumoured to have more power than Toyota FT-86 brother

October 27th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The joint development of a lightweight sports coupe between Subaru and Toyota has provided much rumour and speculation. While Toyota has shown its hand at every opportunity with its FT-86 concepts, much little is known about Subaru’s mysterious BRZ. But with both cars set for world premiers at next month’s Tokyo Motor Show, interest has reached fever pitch.

Up until now, Toyota has tantalized us with three versions of its RWD coupe, while Subaru has revealing only a transparent concept in Geneva and Frankfurt with very little details.

Now Subaru, which has performed most of the engineering work providing the 2.0-litre flat-four engine that will power both cars, has revealed some very interesting facts in a recent interview. Continue reading “Subaru BRZ rumoured to have more power than Toyota FT-86 brother” »

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