News: Lamborghini aborts Estoque development

Lamborghini Estoque fq

The worldwide collapse of car sales has had a dramatic impact on most manufacturers, and super-expensive high-end cars are no exception. With no immediate signs of either a general economic recovery or an auto sales boost on the horizon, it’s not really the ideal time to develop an all-new exotic sedan. With that in mind, Lamborghini reportedly has chopped its plans to build the Estoque, which debuted as a concept at last year’s Paris Motor Show. Given the positive response it received, Lamborghini had started feasibility studies aimed at producing the new four-door. Instead, the company will focus on new versions of both the Gallardo and Murcielago, with a particular focus on weight reduction which is proving very popular among manufacturers at present.

R&D boss Maurizio Reggiani is also apparently rejecting calls for a dual clutch gearbox to replace the current e-gear automated manual. Reggiani says the DCT is too smooth and lacking in the hands-on drama Lambo owners desire.

The worldwide collapse of car sales has had a dramatic impact on m ...

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News: BMW 1 Series vs V8 Supercar vs F1 racer

BMW Tii fq

BMW’s 1 Series has proven itself to be an excellent performer that can keep up with nearly anything else it’s likely to face on the road. But put against a V8 Supercar and BMW’s own Formula 1 racer you wouldn’t back it.  Regardless, these three vehicles are going to face off at the F1 season opener in Melbourne. To level the playing field, each vehicle will start with a handicap, so the real excitement will begin near the end of the lap when the three cars close in on one another as they sprint to the finish line.

The 1 Series that’s taking part in the event will be equipped with the German automaker’s blazing 3.0L twin-turbo inline six and will wear 18″ alloys hooked up to a specially tuned suspension set up with cross-drilled brakes. A set of tii decals and a full BMW Performance aerodynamic body kit will top things off. The race will be repeated 5 times starting this Thursday, March 26th.

BMW's 1 Series has proven itself to be an excellent performer that ...

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News: Production time for Mr Norm’s Super Challenger and Cuda

Mr Norms Challenger fq

At last year’s SEMA Auto Show legend American Dodge dealer and car tuner Mr Norm showed a seriously upgraded Dodge Super Challenger. It was a total success and became one of the highlights of the show. Now, Mr Norm’s latest addition to its long-running ‘Super’ line of cars is based around the new Dodge Challenger, more specifically the high-performance SRT8 model. The Super Challenger and the Super Cuda have just begun full production at Mr. Norm’s facilities in Florida, USA.

The Super Challenger takes its inspiration from the original 1971 Mr. Norm’s Super Challenger Super Fuel Funny Car. The show car featured a black paint scheme with red stripes and ‘Mr. Norm’ labeling on the front fenders. Inside, the Super Challenger gets custom Katzkin leather trim, a Hurst pistol grip shifter, and special door sills.

Exterior upgrades include 22in forged wheels by Rodtana, Pirelli Scorpion Zero tires, a Hotchkis suspension kit, a Mopar ‘Six-Pack’ hood, and a SSBC eight-piston brake package. A new front spoiler and side scoops by Hurst Customs provide the finishing touches.

Modifications to the car’s 6.1 litre HEMI V8 include a Corsa Performance cat back dual exhaust system and a Kenne Bell supercharger system with a front-mount intercooler. The end result is a claimed 900hp (671kW) output. For those that don’t want to speed around with their hair on fire there’s a tamer 650hp (485kW) kit available too.

The Super ‘Cuda’ features similar mods to the Challenger but has been designed to resemble the original AAR Cuda from the 1970s. It’s intended as a modern interpretation of the classic Cuda grille and tail panel, coupled with an aggressive front spoiler and black body stripes. The Super Challengers are available in a range of colors but the Super Cuda is available solely in Hemi Orange.

At last year’s SEMA Auto Show legend American Dodge dealer a ...

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News: Alfa Romeo preparing MiTo concept for AutoRAI show

Alfa Romeo Mito concept fq

At next month’s AutoRAI tuning show (April 1st through 11th), Alfa Romeo will wheel out another racy MiTo concept to display the hatch’s tuning potential. The Alfa Romeo MiTo Veloce is packing the stock turbocharged 1.4-litre unit, but output has been increased to around 180 hp through some secret tweaks and the 0-100 kph time has dropped to 7.5 seconds. Koni shocks have been fitted on all corners along with a custom set of wheels, and the exterior gets glammed up with a new carbon fibre front diffuser and graphics package.

It’s not quite as extreme as the MiTo GTA unveiled in Geneva, but its further proof that Alfa’s hatch has plenty to offer hot hatch enthusiasts.

At next month's AutoRAI tuning show (April 1st through 11th), Alfa ...

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Road Tests / Car Reviews: Toyota Yaris RS 2009 Review

toyota-yaris-rs-fq

New Zealand summers leave little reason for complaint, with the exception of the variety of insects that enter homes around the country. Flies terrorise potato salads, mosquitoes cause sleepless nights and the infamous weta solicits squeals from unlikely sources.  Even though we take these insects out with jandals and rolled up magazines it’s still hard not to be a little impressed at how something so small can at times affect us so dramatically. Insects aren’t the only tiny things that can impress us; cars can too. The new Yaris is the smallest member of the Toyota family and fits firmly into the subcompact bracket. Many models in the subcompact class are criticized for being gutless, featureless and only suitable for use by those happy to trundle along at a snail’s pace. The 2009 Yaris RS is out to prove it’s a creature all its own, and one with a sting in its tail.

Walking around the test specimen quickly reveals a vehicle that has been force-fed large doses of character and it’s worked a treat. The Yaris’ stumpy front end is aggressively styled with massive bug-eye headlights pushing back nearly as far as the raked windscreen. An ascending belt-line runs along the sides stopping at a thick rear pillar, giving the Yaris a look of height at the back and subsequently a pouncing stance. The RS variant has received sports upgrades with a chiseled and chunky body kit, fog lights, tinted rear glass, colour coding on the mirrors and door handles, and a matching front grille. The look is polished off with stylish 17-inch rims wrapped in 205/45 Yokohama tyres. Overall, the Yaris’ styling is modern, overtly aggressive and fun, the RS additions work well together and offer enough over the standard model to create a unique buzz.

Open up the Yaris and some of the funky exterior styling is carried into the cabin. The dashboard looks like someone has grabbed either side of it and pushed its entire contents together into the centre. The climate controls, stereo and all instruments are neatly stacked above the gearstick. This makes for a tidy and symmetrical dash layout, and frees up space for some useful cubby holes, but it also creates vast areas of plain dark plastics that could benefit from being broken up with contrasting trim. The instruments are large and well illuminated but being mid-mounted aren’t my preference. I don’t mind a mid-mounted speedometer like in the new Minis, but I definitely prefer my tachometer straight in front.. Aesthetics aside, fit and finish is very good in the cabin, the plastics are firm to touch and it has the trademark Toyota level of cockroach toughness.  The interior also benefits from some RS upgrades; a leather-surrounded steering wheel and gear knob, chrome door handles and sports-style seats. The equipment list includes a useful smart keyless entry system and a push button start fires the Yaris up.

Interior space is very good considering the Yaris’ dimensions, with impressive rear headroom and decent width between the two front seats. Understandably this comes at a price with limited luggage room in the hatch. The rear compartment is equipped with a handy false floor for separating valuables, but is very shallow even for a subcompact. With the rear seat pushed down luggage space grows dramatically, but if you have 4 passengers with gear, nesting it all in the hatch would be very challenging.

The Yaris’ oversized front fascia results in a tiny bonnet but shoe-horned beneath is Toyota’s 1.8 Litre, 16-Valve, Variable Valve Timing intelligent (VVT-i) motor. This is a tight-fit but a good-fit for the Yaris, putting out 98kW of power and 173Nm of torque. The power isn’t enough to attract boy-racers or terrify passengers, but it is definitely lively and useful. The Yaris gets up to speed with relative ease but the 4-cylinder snatched from the Corolla isn’t peaky in its power delivery instead opting for smooth acceleration through the range. To extract the best performance from the Yaris the revs need to be kept high and the gears worked thoroughly. Luckily the 6-speed manual transmission worms it’s way through the gears easily and matched up with a suitably manageable clutch makes for a rewarding drive.

When it’s time to hit the open road and escape the hive the RS comes into it’s own. When many small cars are found wanting the Yaris excels and cruises comfortably around the speed limit with genuine overtaking capabilities. Shift on to twisting B-roads and the Yaris is as light as a hornet and as sure-footed as a centipede. Sports tuned suspension helps the RS harness the extra power and the result is very impressive. The Yaris sits flat on turn-in and has an awesome level of grip. Torque-steer isn’t an issue with the front wheels staying glued to the tarmac in most situations. The electronic steering is accurate and well-weighted capping off a package that has the ability to embarrass more powerful vehicles on windy roads.

Ride quality is compromised by the firm suspension, not uncomfortably so but possibly enough to dissuade those looking only for a cheap city run-about. Despite the larger motor and wheels, wind, road and engine noise all remain acceptably mellow.

Keeping the RS contained are safety features far beyond a snail’s shell, including Traction Control (TRC), Stability Control (VSC), ABS braking and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD). The RS is the only Yaris that currently offers Stability Control. There is a swarm of airbags complete with side airbags, front/rear curtains and a driver’s knee airbag. The Yaris also has kid-friendly credentials with sash seat belts for all three backseat passengers and an on/off switch for the passenger airbag.

The Yaris RS was designed and built in Europe and has come to NZ spinning a web of good reasons to consider it in the subcompact segment. If you’re crawling along city streets or flying through open-road corners the Yaris RS is a spirited and fun drive. Its styling upgrades are tasteful but still strong enough to see it stand out from the rest of the Yaris colony. It’s reasonably priced has a long equipment list and class-leading safety features, combined with Toyota’s reputation for reliability and durability make it a very strong new car option.

Click through to the next page for a list of specifications.

Price: from $26,490

What we like:

  • Sporty exterior styling
  • High handling abilities
  • Fun to drive¨Safety features

What we don’t like:

  • Minimal Luggage Space
  • Engine could use a touch more power
  • Dash configuration an acquired taste

Toyota Yaris RS (2009) – Specifications

ENGINE & TRANSMISSION

* In-line, 4 Cylinder, 16 Valve, DOHC with Dual Variable Valve Timing-intelligent (VVT-i)
* 1.8 Litre
* 98kW @ 6000 rpm
* 173Nm @ 4400 rpm
* Fuel consumption is 7.2 L/100km (based on EU durective 70/220/EEC (combined))
* 6 speed manual transmission

WHEELS & BRAKES

* 6.5JJ x 17″ Alloy Wheels
* 205/45 R17 Steel Belted Radial Ply Yokohama Tyres
* Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Brake Assist (BA)
* Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD)
* Traction Control (TRC)
* Vehicle Stability Control (VSC)

DIMENSIONS

* 3800 mm long
* 1695 mm wide
* 1530 mm high
* 42 litre fuel capacity
* Seating capacity for 5
* 272 litres of boot space
* Gross vehicle weight of 1545kg

EXTERIOR

* Body Coloured Electric Exterior Rear View Mirrors, door handles and front and rear bumpers
* Chrome Exhaust
* Front Fog Lights
* Rear Spoiler
* Side Skirts
* Sports Style Front Grille

INTERIOR

* Driver and Passenger Front, Side, Drivers Knee and Front/Rear Curtain Shield Air Bags
* 3 Spoke Sports Style Leather Steering Wheel
* AM/FM Radio and Single Disc In-Dash CD/MP3 Player with Audio Input Jack, 6 Speakers and Security System
* Chrome Plated Inside Door Handles
* Engine Immobiliser
* Leather Gear Shift Lever
* Smart Entry and Start System
* Sports Style Front Seats with Slide and Recline Functions

Words and Photos, Adam Mamo

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News: BMW M Division shifting to smaller turbo engines

BMW M3 2009 fq

With new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards coming in the future, most automakers are in the process of developing engines that strike a balance between ultra-efficiency and high-performance. Well aware of the hard road ahead, BMW has begun development of the next generation 3 Series and 1 Series, both due for a new model in 2013.

According to Ludwig Willisch, BMW’s M division CEO, new turbocharged engines are on the horizon for the next M3 and 1 Series M.

This will see the M3 return to six-cylinders albeit turbocharged, replacing the current 4.0-litre V8, although BMW hasn’t decided if it will use a straight-six or a V6 powerplant.

Willisch said the new engine won’t be based on the current 3.0-litre inline six currently employed on the 335i and 135i, and it’s still too early in the development process to say which configuration will be used. BMW realises the inline-six’s light weight is a benefit when chasing fuel economy, but limited bonnet space may required the use of a V6.

Either way, the next M3 will be wider, but Willisch states, “Engines don’t need to be more powerful for the next car. As long as you have less weight, you have better performance.” The hardcore BMW purisits may gawk at the idea of a V6 powered Beemer, but there is a growing acceptance of the importance of weight reduction.

As for the 1 series, there won’t be an M version as such, but BMW’s in-house tuning division wants to relive the glory of the original E30 M3 by creating a smaller, lighter coupe to enter the range below the next M3. A twin-turbocharged four-cylinder will likely power the new coupe, and according to Willisch, the automaker is aiming for something that puts out around 300 hp and is lightweight.

Traditionally, the M variants arrive about a year after the new models are introduced, so expect the next M3 and 1 Series M to debut sometime in 2014.

With new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards coming in ...

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News: Caparo T1 Race Extreme – for rich nutters

Caparo T1 Extreme f

The motoring world is in a consensus that the Caparo T1 is a fairly radical and reckless vehicle. But the team at Caparo thought the T1 just wasn’t extreme enough and have released a new version of the car, aimed towards the “high end of the track day market” – the Caparo T1 Race Extreme.

The Caparo T1 Race Extreme is powered by an aluminum, normally aspirated, fuel injected V8 engine that outputs 620 bhp at 10,500 rpm in a body that has a dry weight of just 550 kg. The Caparo T1 Race Extreme rockets from 0 to 100 kph in 2.8 seconds and to 160 kphin 5.8 seconds and it won’t stop till it reaches 335kph. Total madness.

The Extreme edition also comes with a full list of racing upgrades: a fully adjustable suspension and aerodynamic package, ultra light brake callipers with titanium pistons, ceramic discs and pads and a fully tunable ECU.

Pricing has not been announced, but its safe to say you will have to sell your house… and rob a bank.

The motoring world is in a consensus that the Caparo T1 is a fairl ...

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News: Audi planning new A3 variants

Audi planning new A3

Audi has pushed back the arrival of its next-model A3 by one year as it tackles the development of several other all-new models such as the A1 hatch and Q3 soft-roader. Originally touted to arrive at the end of the year, the next A3 will now hit the market in the first half of 2010 in a basic three and five-door hatchback models. A little later Audi will add a new Convertible model and Sportback wagon, and according to latest reports there may even be a four-door coupe as well as an Allroad soft-roader.

The stategy is to help the new A3 compete with BMW’s 1-series range as well as other European rivals. The new A3’s platform will again be shared with VW’s Golf, which means Audi’s latest modular platform design has been ruled out. Compared with the current model the replacement A3’s footprint will grow in size with a more raked profile. .

Likely engine options for the A3 range of cars include a series of four-cylinder powerplants ranging from 1.2 to 2.0L in capacity. The base engine will be a 1.2L TFSI with 105hp and 175Nm of torque and this will be followed by a 1.4L TFSI with 125hp and 200Nm of torque and a 1.8L TFSI with 160hp and 250Nm of torque. Rounding out the four-cylinder family will be a 2.0L TFSI with 211hp and 350Nm of torque. For the performance S3 model, expect to see a new turbocharged four-cylinder motor.

Audi has pushed back the arrival of its next-model A3 by one year ...

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