News: New Limited edition Smart Fortwo

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Smart is offering enthusiasts searching for that certain something extra an exclusive smart fortwo special edition – the ‘limited two’.

Based on the popular 71bhp smart fortwo passion this special edition will be available in coupe and cabrio body styles when it goes on sale in September in Europe.

The limited two’s frugal fuel economy of up to 4L/100km on the extra urban cycle is complemented by a lavish interior featuring cognac brown leather heated seats, a three-spoke leather sports steering wheel with gearshift, leather gear knob and velour floor mats with leather trim. A rev counter and clock are also added.

As well as limited two badging and six-spoke alloy wheels with 15-inch tyres, the newcomer is distinguished by its special light blue metallic paint finish which displays subtle silver and beige tones depending on the prevailing light conditions.

Owners can also choose to enhance their car’s impressive specification with a trio of optional extras — electric power steering, a lockable glove compartment or a smart sound system.

New Zealand sales are yet to be confirmed.

News: Nissan/Infinity G37 convertible for the States and Europe

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Infiniti has released the first picture of the new G37 Convertible which will receive its global debut at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show in November. Sales have been confirmed initially for the US market where it will be launched early in 2009.

Based on the G37 Coupe, the G37 Convertible promises beautiful styling and the dynamic performance worthy of an Infiniti G. The G37 Convertible will feature a three-piece automatic retracting hardtop, to keep a coupe-like roofline, and the option of a unique interior treatment. Audio and air conditioning systems have been tuned to operate perfectly with the top up or down.

The G37 Convertible is under study for launch in Europe where it would join its sister G models, the G37 Sedan and Coupe, in Infiniti Centres which begin opening across the Continent from October. Plans for the car to see the Southern Hemisphere are yet to be announced.

News: Ford Ka to cameo in latest ’007′ film ahead of Paris debut

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The highly-anticipated new James Bond adventure, ‘Quantum of Solace’, will feature a cameo appearance from the all-new Ford Ka ahead of its official Paris debut.

Ford’s new small car will make its screen debut alongside the film’s beautiful but feisty leading lady, Olga Kurylenko. Kurylenko plays Camille, a woman with her own personal mission and who quickly becomes an unlikely ally for Bond.

The ‘Quantum of Solace’ Ka is unique with metallic gold paint and an exclusive exterior graphics and interior trim combination.

The special ‘Quantum of Solace’ Ka was created by Ford of Europe’s Design team, in collaboration with the movie’s Oscar award-winning production designer, Dennis Gassner.  The Ka’s cameo continues Ford of Europe’s relationship with the James Bond films, following the debut appearance of the latest Ford Mondeo, in the 2006 blockbuster, ‘Casino Royale’.

The new model retains all the qualities which made the Ka so popular — compact size, great looks, lively dynamics and fun personality — but presents them in a fresh new package. Further technical details of the new Ford Ka will be revealed closer to launch later in 2008.

‘Quantum of Solace’ opens in the UK and France on October 31st, then across the rest of Europe during November 2008 with New Zealand set to follow.

The all-new Ka enjoys the spotlight of its own at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, on October 2.

Blogs: And another game is launched

My job superficially seems appealing to 16-year-old boys. In fact it could probably only be superficially enhanced by the compulsory consumption of chocolate and beer, and the ability to work on bikini photoshoots (as the director, not the model). It’s because I get to drive fast cars and design computer games. We’re launching the latest car-related online game this afternoon. We’ve already gotDrift Legends and Jetsprint Legends, and I wanted to do a shoot ‘em up. Midnight Sting was born. Born, actually, from the frustration of having a nice car and having to be careful where you park it for fear of thieving scum half-inching either the whole thing or just bits of it.

The idea is that you’ve placed your pride and joy as a ‘honeypot’ – bait for the thieves. You sit there, out of sight with a large gun ready to exact retribution. I’m sure many a person has had this fantasy, so here you can indulge it virtually.

It launches at 3pm today (Friday 15 August). Then I’m onto the next game (and using a large stick to beat off the legions of 16-year-olds that want to take my job).

News: New Zealand to receive 2008 HSV W427 soon

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Holden New Zealand has announced that production of the HSV W427 has been confirmed for New Zealand, with seven vehicles available in New Zealand in 2008.

The RRP for HSV W427 is NZ$194,500 (including GST).

Option Pricing
DVD Player  $2,000
Sunroof  $2,700
Sat Nav$2,900

With only seven examples of the W427 being brought into New Zealand for 2008 you’d better be quick if you want one.

News: Vauxhall to debut Insignia Estate at Paris Motorshow

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These are the first official shots of Vauxhall’s new Insignia estate, which will debut at the Paris Salon in October.

Known as the Sports Tourer, it will be available to UK buyers in the second quarter of 2009 and will feature two new engines — a more powerful turbodiesel and a smaller capacity turbocharged petrol unit — in addition to the five powerplants available from launch in the saloon and hatchback models. An ecoFLEX Sports Tourer with competitively low emissions and fuel consumption will also be available in the near future.

New Zealand will not be receiving the Insignia any time soon as plans to put a Holden badge on the car have yet to be finalised.

Designers gave the rear of the Sports Tourer a unique, yet cohesive appearance by pulling the wraparound tailgate deep in to its flanks and accentuating it with large, fully integrated tail lights.

Inside, as with the Insignia saloon and hatch, the Sports Tourer has ample room for five adults and one of the best loadspace volumes in its class. Despite this, Vauxhall has retained the hatch and saloon’s wheelbase (2,737mm) and added around 80mm to its length.

The new petrol and diesel engines available in the Sports Tourer will complement the Insignia’s existing line up of three petrol and two diesel units, including the 130 and 160PS 2.0 CDTi which achieve 4.8L/100km on the extra urban cycle, the 220PS 2.0i Turbo, and the 260PS 2.8i V6 range-topper, capable of powering the Insignia from 0-100km/h in 6.7 seconds.

Like the Insignia hatch and saloon, the Sports Tourer will also be available with front- and all-wheel drive, as well as Vauxhall’s FlexRide system with its Adaptive Stability Technology.

The new estate model will also benefit from the high levels of technology showcased at Insignia’s launch, such as Vauxhall’s latest generation Adaptive Forward Lighting (AFL), with its nine light beam settings, and the Front Camera System, which can read and memorise road signs and alert drivers if they unintentionally veer off the road.

News: DiMora concept car to feature new material made from rock

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Barotex Technology Corporation (BARX), inventor and producer of ‘Barotex’ inorganic fiber, has announced that it has become the newest Technology Partner to work with DiMora Motorcar to develop and produce the Natalia SLS 2 sport luxury sedan.

Barotex materials have characteristics that make them superior to carbon fiber, fiberglass, Kevlar, and other advanced materials in a variety of applications.

Barotex starts as volcanic rock, widely available throughout the world. “In contrast, carbon fiber products are petroleum-based, and we know about the challenges that involves,” said Lilo Beuzieron, CEO of Barotex Technology Corporation and inventor of Barotex. “Not only is lava rock more abundant, but our manufacturing process requires far less energy. It is friendly to the environment, and the automobiles built with Barotex are lighter, so they use less energy every mile traveled.”

“We recently received our patent for the proprietary process used to produce Barotex,” noted Beuzieron. “We are delighted that the first production automobile to integrate this technology will be DiMora’s Natalia SLS 2.”

News: Demand rising for alternatively-fueled vehicles

BCA (British Car Auctions) has issued a report examining the relative price performance of petrol, diesel and alternative powered cars in view of the prevalent economic conditions — particularly rising fuel prices — seen in 2008.

BCA analysed data on volume product from the fleet & lease sector and found there is an increasing demand for alternative fuelled and hybrid cars, although volumes remain small.

The price differential between diesel and petrol has remained fairly constant throughout 2008, with diesels selling on average for around £1,000 (NZ$2600)more. With fewer numbers of LPG/hybrid cars reaching auction, there is less of an obvious pattern with this fuel type, and the price is subject to more peaks and troughs.

However, looking at the price performance of the fuel types versus CAP Clean suggests there is growing demand for alternative power, despite these vehicles generally being older and higher mileage at the time of sale.

Values for LPG have consistently outperformed guide prices — often by a considerable margin — with the exception of April, where values just dipped below the 100% mark. The June figure was exceptional, averaging over 115% of CAP Clean figures. The relative scarcity, linked to an obvious — and potentially rising — demand is keeping values for alternatively fuelled cars much higher than the market norm.

In contrast, CAP figures for used diesel and petrol have declined steadily during 2008.  In June diesel values at 92% were approximately 3.5 points down on January’s figures, while petrol values were three points lower in June at 92%.

Of the two dominant fuel types, however, used diesel has consistently outperformed used petrol in terms of performance against CAP, by around two points.  The exception to this was in February, when petrol values outperformed diesel against CAP.  It is tempting to think that this may have been stimulated by the widely reported news in January that crude oil had reached US$100 a barrel for the first time and has continued to climb ever since.