News: Audi ceases plans for R8 V12 TDI

Audi R8 V12 TDI

When Audi’s R8 V12 TDI was unveiled at the 2008 Detroit Motor Show, the automotive world was excited by the idea of a fuel-efficient, torquey and potent diesel vehicle that could rival Lamborghinis and Ferraris in performance. Now sadly new reports say the global industry downturn has claimed the diesel-burning R8 as its latest victim.

At 5.5L and 373kW/1001Nm of torque, the R8 TDI’s V12 engine was a modern and inspiring unit. Based around the company’s dominating Le Mans diesel engine design, the V12 TDI was expected to be a sure hit with high-performance aficionados and diesel lovers. When a second concept was revealed at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show, many thought the car was bound for production.

But the high-tech V12 engine and the research and development that goes into it equate to mammoth costs – costs that are just too high for a road-going car to warrant. Audi is quick to point out that just because the market isn’t currently at a level that could make the car a successful business proposition doesn’t mean it won’t be at some point in the future. And it won’t be letting its diesel racing technology languish in the mean time, so while the R8 V12 TDI may be dead, it could still be part of Audi’s plans for the future.

When Audi's R8 V12 TDI was unveiled at the 2008 Detroit Motor Show ...

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News: Koenigsegg engineer builds a new Volvo P1800

Vox Volvo P1800 fq

Mattias Vöcks is at it again. Back in 2006, the Swedish-born designer who normally spends his days hand-assembling supercars for Koenigsegg used the SEMA show to unveil a custom 1967 Volvo Amazon that was once voted “Sweden’s Hottest Volvo.” Vöcks’ latest creation is based on the classic Volvo P1800 made famous in part as the car driven by Roger Moore in the British television series ‘The Saint’ from the 1960s.

With help from Swedish design firm Vizualtech, Vöcks has added a few modifications to bring the shapely Swedish beauty up to modern standards. Aerodynamics are improved through a rear diffuser, flat underbody tray and a front fascia that’s been smoothed out and extended by 70mm. Powering the bespoke beast is a 4.4-litre V8 borrowed from a new Volvo XC90 SUV it’s turbocharged and puts its 600 horsepower through a six-speed manual transmission to the back wheels.

Apparently this custom Volvo is expected to enter small-scale production at an unspecified date in the future.

Mattias Vöcks is at it again. Back in 2006, the Swedish-born desi ...

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News: Lamborghini Toro tractor concept

Lamborghini Toro fq

Lamborghini, unlike many other carmakers isn’t too proud of its early history, largely because Lamborghini’s roots are actually in agriculture. As any sportscar enthusiast will tell you, Ferruccio Lamborghini started out building tractors and only got into the sportscar business to have a go at Enzo Ferrari. The gap between its tractors and sportscars was bridged only once by the LM002 sport-ute, nick-named the Rambo Lambo. But one aspiring designer is keen to morph Lamborghini’s past and present into one vehicle, and you’re looking at it.

Suitably named the Lamborghini Toro, it’s the brainchild of young Canadian designer Jason Battersby. Taking cues from Lambo’s own agricultural equipment and its supercars, the Toro shows some vision of what an integrated product would look like. Of course at this stage it’s just a series of conceptual renderings, but it has farm boys everywhere dreaming.

Lamborghini, unlike many other carmakers isn't too proud of its ea ...

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News: Porsche Panamera convertible – crazy enough to work?

Porsche Panamera fq

Rumors about a coupe version of the Porsche Panamera have been circulating even before the sedan was officially announced, and a 928 successor is an attractive prospect. Further to those rumours its seems now that a convertible version of the four-door Panamera may be in the works – this isn’t a joke.

According to an interview conducted with Porsche development head Wolfgang Dürheimer, a drop-top Panamera is feasible — if not entirely likely. Dürheimer said “Currently, this topic is not on the agenda. We have other homework to do, such as the six-cylinder. And then the Panamera will also have a hybrid engine.”

If a Panamera convertible reached production it would pack a cloth soft-top rather than a retractable hard-top, in keeping with Porsche’s convertible 911 variants and Boxster. Of course, a Panamera cabrio would be a huge gamble, particularly as the standard sedan hasn’t even gone on sale leaving Porsche unable to gauge reaction to its first four-door model just yet.

Rumors about a coupe version of the Porsche Panamera have been cir ...

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News: Renault releases updated Clio Renaultsport 200

Renaultsport Clio fq

Renaultsport’s latest hot hatch now comes with 200 ponies packed beneath the bonnet. While this is only three more horses than the Clio 197 version on which it’s based and replaces, Renault’s performance and motorsport divisions have worked hard to improve the aerodynamics and cut weight to make the extra power count even more.

Reflecting the mid-cycle facelifting of the entire Clio range, the Clio RS 200 and 200 Cup apparently benefit from Renault’s Formula One program, which brought the aerodynamic expertise implemented on its latest hot hatch. Air passes over the front splitter to feed the the revised 200-hp, 2.0-litre 16-valve four-cylinder engine, but it also surges underneath to the flat rear bottom and rushes out the rear diffuser. The aerodynamic enhancements helps give the car an even more agressive look, while customers can choose from a wider colour palette, contrasting with either black or anthracite-finish trim.

Inside the Clio has a compact steering wheel with perforated leather trim with a yellow strip to show when it’s centered, and Recaro seats are available along with leather upholstery. The new Clio Renaultsport 200 starts selling next month in the UK at £16,570 ($43,000 NZ), while hardcore enthusiasts can get the stripped-down Cup version for £15,750 ($40,930 NZ).

Renaultsport's latest hot hatch now comes with 200 ponies packed b ...

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News: Rumours surround possible hybrid Nissan 370Z

NISMO 370Z fq

It took the Tesla Roadster to prove to the automotive world that electricity and sport can mix, but so far there’s been little capacity for hybrids among performance spec vehicles. Lexus and Mercedes Benz are beginning to use hybrid systems for additional power on their larger sedans, but sports cars have been overlooked for hybrid assistance. That could all change according to the latest rumors surrounding the Nissan 370Z.

Talk is emerging from Japan that the newly updated Z-car could sport a high-performance plug-in hybrid system at mid-cycle in 2011. If the hybrid Z does hit the market by 2011, it would be the first hybrid sports car ever.

The same 3.7L VQ-series engine that powers the car now would still provide the main source of grunt, but would reportedly be supplemented by a lithium-ion battery pack and electric motor using a two-clutch system, the transmission would be automatic-only. With the high-capacity lithium battery pack and plug-in capability, the car could almost half it’s current fuel usage and offer the clean-green feel good factor while still having performance on tap.

It took the Tesla Roadster to prove to the automotive world that e ...

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News: Does bankruptcy for Chrysler mean death for Viper?

Dodge Viper SRT10 fq

With Chrysler officially bankrupt things are now looking more dire than ever for the iconic Dodge Viper. Chrysler has been looking to sell the Viper line for a while and several potential buyers were reportedly being considered, but months down the line no deal has been announced. Now, Chrysler has announced it will be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy before restructuring in a new partnership with Fiat. But what’s to happen to the Viper?

According to recent reports from Detroit, Viper could face the axe, for real. Chrysler says it is still considering offers on the Viper line, but an early analysis of the company’s restructuring strategy suggests that the Viper is a financial liability for the company and will be dropped during the bankruptcy process. The Conner Avenue Assembly plant where 115 workers build the Viper is one of several earmarked for potential closure, along with many other Chrysler facilities. Fiat may not be too keen on keeping the Viper alive considering it’s a bad asset and Ferrari is a Fiat subsidiary.

It’s not only the Viper’s head on the chopping block with several trucks — including the Dodge Ram, Dakota and Jeep Wrangler facing the axe as Chrysler aims to streamline.

With Chrysler officially bankrupt things are now looking more dire ...

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News: New wireless cellphone earpiece for sale in NZ

Yada wireless earpiece

A new wireless cellphone earpiece that charges itself whilst sitting in a car dashboard cradle has just come on to the NZ market and is aimed at encouraging more kiwis to put their mobile phones down and drive more safely.

The Bluetooth-equipped Yada earpiece and cradle has been released in NZ by automotive accessory specialist Griffiths Equipment, which says there is nothing else like it in the market.

“Cellphone earpieces are not new, but the way this one works is likely to encourage more people to go hands-free, because it is not only wireless, but is always charged and ready for use,” says Bruce Walker, of Griffiths Equipment.
“It’s the sort of simple, break-through that will attract both the tech-savvy and the average driver because of its sheer convenience and the result should be fewer holding a phone when driving and being less distracted.”

The tiny earpiece — it’s only 4.5cm long — can be matched up to any brand of mobile phone via Bluetooth technology and the user is then able to make and receive calls whilst still keeping both hands on the steering wheel, or undertaking any other activity, and keep the phone in a pocket or handbag.

There are no leads, because it is powered by a battery that recharged every time it is returned to the cradle, through a 12v or 24v power outlet in the car. The cradle/charger, which is included in the kit, can be clipped onto an air vent or attached to the dashboard. The cradle is a universal holder that most cellphones will fit into.

To answer calls the wearer pushes a small button on the front of the ear-piece and talks into a in-built microphone. If you want to transfer the call to the mobile phone itself, just push the ear-piece button during the call. It is even compatible with mobiles phones that have voice activation. A small bar button on the side of the ear-piece controls the volume.

Fully charged, the earpiece has up to 6 hours talk time and 105 hours standby, so can also be used away from the vehicle and charger.

Another earpiece made by Yada is also available claimed to be the lowest price on the market, retailing for just $96. It has the more conventional design with a clip that wraps around the ear, but is also wireless and connects to any cellphone in the same way. It also has 6 hours talk time and 100 hours standby and is recharged via a lead that plugs into the vehicle’s cigarette/auxiliary outlet, Yada is part of the US-based Winplus stable that provides a range of automotive accessories under the Type S brand, which have sold in New Zealand in recent years.

The Yada hands-free mobile headset/ear-piece and other products are available from auto accessory retailers with various kits available retailing from $96.00 to $158.00

A new wireless cellphone earpiece that charges itself whilst sitti ...

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