News: Crystal concept for Volvo S60

Volvo crystal concept

Volvo Cars has engaged Swedish glassworks Orrefors to create a floating centre stack in crystal for the company’s next concept car, which will be a first taste of the next-generation Volvo S60. It will be shown for the first time at the Detroit international motor show in January 2009.

In the concept car the crystal-clear centre stack forms a wave from the instrument panel all the way to the rear seat backrest.

“It almost looks like a waterfall from the instrument panel, flowing through the centre of the car,” says Volvo Cars design director Steve Mattin.

“If you want to explore the full scope of Scandinavian design, Sweden’s glassworks are a natural source of inspiration. Large glass areas are also very much part of modern Swedish architecture, creating the special, light transparency,” says Steve Mattin.

The experts at Orrefors were keen to accept the challenge and the result is one of the most unusual and handcraft-intensive objects in the company’s 110-year history. Producing the stack was in itself a challenge beyond the ordinary – even for experts at Orrefors.

“The full-size crystal piece in the concept car will not be a production feature. However, it does open up opportunities to use crystal on a smaller scale in the future. We’ll have to see how our customers respond,” says Steve Mattin.

Beside the driver’s seat, the crystal console cuts straight through the instrument panel and its upper section forms a navigation screen at the precise height of the driver’s combined instruments.

The gear selector has a versatile new shape. In the horizontal position it offers drive in automatic mode. If the driver is in the mood for sporty manual gear changes, the lever can be flipped up into the vertical position. Beside the gear selector there is also the starter button and parking brake.

“We’ve put the focus on ergonomics and safety. With the combined instruments at the same height as the navigation screen, all it takes is a horizontal eye movement to switch between sources of information. Another example is the controls used when you start and stop driving are a few centimetres from each other near the gear selector,” explains Steve Mattin.

News: New Mitsubishi Pajero – more performance for less

Mitsubishi Pajero 09 fq

The new Mitsubishi Pajero has arrived here in NZ and the new model boasts significantly better performance for less fuel.

“The 2009 Pajero’s 3.2L Direct Injection Common Rail Intercooled Turbo Diesel power plant has seen significant improvement over its predecessor,” said MMNZ general manager of marketing and sales Peter Wilkins. It now delivers 18% more power and 23% more torque, yet boasts a 12% reduction in fuel consumption, traveling 100km on just 9.2 litres of diesel.

“At its maximum power, the Euro 4 engine reaches 150kW. Maximum torque is an impressive 448Nm low in the rev range — perfect for towing boats, floats and automobiles weighing up to 3.3 tonnes,” he said.

Other improvements in the 2009 Pajero include significant sound proofing of the cabin on diesel models and new alloy wheels and body coloured wing mirrors and door handles for the GLS. Both diesel and petrol Exceed models gain a DVD entertainment unit for the rear passengers, auto wipers and headlights and a new front grille.

While the long wheelbase petrol and the short wheelbase GLS models are no longer available, the short wheelbase VRXs can still be purchased on a firm order arrangement.

A high-strength monocoque body and ladder frame chassis provides torsional rigidity for off-roading while incorporating impact-absorbing crumple zones to protect occupants and others in the event of a collision.

Further safety features include side and front dual-stage driver and passenger airbags, plus curtain airbags which help protect occupants in the front and rear seats. Active Stability Control across the range mitigates the consequences of over or understeer, keeping the vehicle balanced and on the drivers intended path.

Enhanced by its torsional rigidity and some of the best ground clearance angles in the segment, Mitsubishi’s All Terrain 4WD Technology (MATT) provides Pajero with strong off-road capability. The inclusion of a rear differential lock and hill hold assist aids serious adventurers when the going gets tough.

With 265/60/R18 tyres, the Pajero Exceed will stop from 100km/h in 42m. Braking is by way of large 333mm front ventilated, four calliper disc brakes on the long wheelbase models and 290mm ventilated discs with two piston callipers on the short wheelbase VRX.

These improvements to the new model Pajero should cement it’s reputation as one of New Zealand’s favorite 4WDs.

News: The Fuoss 01 track car coming

Fuoss Track car fq

Track fanatics over in Europe have a new option vying for their hard-earned cash. Using the same philosophy as vehicles from Lotus, Caterham and KTM, the Fuoss 01 relies on its light weight for acceptable performance. With only a 40-hp, 400cc Suzuki motorcycle engine motivating the 660-pound one-seater, the V-Max is a very limited 150 kph. Regardless, the Fuoss should be an very fun track tool, particularly with its five-speed sequential transmission taken from Suzuki. Just a jumped up go kart really, the driver sits as low as possible and with no heavy roof overhead, centre of gravity is kept down low.

Only ten examples are planned for its first year of production in 2009.

News: AC Schnitzer releases the X6 Falcon

AC Schnitzer X6 fq

It was only a matter of time before AC Schnitzer turned its hand to the X6, and the result has just been released as the BMW X6 Falcon.

Using the X5 Falcon as styling inspiration, the X6 variant gets the same stretched out body work, allowing it a 70mm wider track in the front and an additional 80mm in the rear. According to AC, extensive testing was done on the Nurburgring to refine the Falcon’s high-speed capability, helped by a new front lip, air intakes, repositioned fog lamps, side skirts and rear wing. Black or silver 22-inch Type VII wheels fill the arches.

As for power, the only models to benefit from engine tweaks are the X6 3.0d and 3.5d, boosting power to 272 hp (from 235 hp) and 310 hp (from 286 hp), respectively. AC will also be selling custom chrome tailpipes, aluminum interior trim, pedals and floor mats emblazoned with its logo.

News: Kia next to raise NZ car prices

Kia Picanto

Kia Motors is the next car company to raise prices with an announcement this week. Kia stated that the dramatic fall in the value of the New Zealand dollar will mean the price of its new cars will have to rise.

Todd Mcdonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand says prices will increase in the first week of November and will probably be introduced in small increments, as vehicle shipments progressively arrive from Korea. He says rises will vary from model to model and will be between 4% and 11%.

But the good news is that some Kia models will remain at current prices for a few more weeks, until present stocks are exhausted. Most of these are likely to be sold before Christmas.

News: Subaru Impreza sedan arrives in NZ

Subaru Impreza sedan rq

Subaru is expanding its All Wheel Drive Impreza range with the addition of naturally aspirated sedan versions in November.

The Impreza 2.0R and 2.0R Sport sedans complement the existing hatch variants and share the same safety credentials — a maximum 5-star crashworthiness rating for occupant safety from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) along with the maximum 4-star pedestrian ANCAP safety rating. Electronic stability control and six airbags, including curtain airbags, are standard on all models.

Subaru of New Zealand Managing Director, Graeme Woodlands, said: “Impreza sales have climbed by more than 10% since its launch 12 months ago and that has been without any sedans in the range.”We can only see that improving with the addition of the naturally aspirated sedan versions.We expect the Impreza 2.0R Sport sedan to be the more popular model like its hatch sibling.”

The base model Impreza 2.0R sedan features a good specification list for an entry level vehicle including; fulltime Symmetrical All Wheel Drive, 16-inch alloy wheels, six airbags including curtain airbags, electronic stability control, and ABS brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution.

The Impreza 2.0R Sport sedan is differentiated externally by; 17-inch alloy wheels, dual exhaust system with chrome tail piper covers, a mesh sports grille, boot lid spoiler and a sports body kit. Inside, Impreza 2.0R Sport features sports seats, rear privacy glass and different cloth trim. Impreza 2.0R Sport adds six-stack CD player with 10 speakers, climate control air conditioning and leather-bound steering wheel with audio and cruise controls and a leather gearshift.

All naturally aspirated variants offer the choice of five-speed manual or four-speed SPORTSHIFT automatic transmissions. Both models are powered by a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder DOHC Boxer engine developing 110kW at 6,400 RPM and 196Nm of torque at 3,200 RPM.

The turbocharged Impreza WRX sedan is due for launch in December.

Pricing of equivalent Impreza sedans and hatches is identical, giving customers a direct choice between their preferred body style.

The Impreza sedan and hatch pricing is:

Impreza 2.0R manual $26,990
Impreza 2.0R automatic $27,990
Impreza 2.0R Sport manual $31,990
Impreza 2.0R Sport automatic $32,990

News: Techart boosts up Porsche 911 Turbo

Techart 911 fq

Tuning company Techart is at it again on the 997 Porsche 911 Turbo, this time boosting power output of the twin-turbo’d flat-six to a staggering 660 hp and 634 lb.-ft. of torque. Named the Techart GTstreet R this monster Porsche benefits from two new turbos, larger carbon fiber inlet pipes, revised intercoolers and a new cat-back exhaust mated to the a revised manifold which all helps to drop the 997’s 0-60 time to 3.4 seconds when equipped with an auto ‘box and 3.5 seconds with a manual. Top speed is extended to 214 mph.

Keeping the Techart-modified 911 from lifting at speed is a new coil-over kit and 20-inch wheels that work combined with a wind-tunnel-tested body kit and carbon fiber spoiler to add another 22 pounds of down force. If these wild specs weren’t enough to make the vehicle stand out, Techart also offers a replacement hood, carbon fiber headlights, side sills and air ducting for the rear bumper.

Road Tests / Car Reviews: Suzuki Swift Sport WR1 Supercharged 2008 — Road Test

suzuki-swift-sport-wr1-supercharged-fq

The Suzuki Swift Sport is one of our favourite cars read the review here. It has the right proportion of power, handling and looks, and a sweet five-speed manual gearbox that puts you in control. So how can you improve it? If you changed any one of the ingredients, it might risk spoiling it — like putting too much salt in the stew.

The recipe for change in this case addresses the car holistically: engine modifications to give the Swift more poke, suspension and brake modifications to cope with the extra power, and a body kit to tell the world you’re packing more than just the standard 1.6-litre four-banger.

The Swift Sport has always been a car that’s possible to bling out, with go-faster stripes and bigger alloys; this takes it to a new, official level with a factory warranty.

The extra urge is made available by a discrete supercharger that sits at the back of the engine. You’d barely notice the modifications if it wasn’t for the large Supercharged sticker across the rocker cover and the chrome GReddy pipe that leads to a bright yellow air filter.

The supercharger sucks in the air through an Airinx air cleaner that uses two layers of three-dimensional urethane foam. The whole engine can be tuned to perfection with the GReddy ECU. Power at the flywheel is up from 111PS to 145PS at 6800rpm. Torque is up from 138Nm at 5000rpm to 171Nm at around 3800rpm. The power is all usable, making the Swift more responsive down low. It doesn’t turn it into a screaming, torque-steering ride, though. It’s delivered in an unfussy way, with a helping of supercharger whine.

While we didn’t test a 0-100kph time, my seat-of-the-pants meter reckons it’s in the late seven-second bracket, down about a second from the standard car. To get the most poke out of the car you need to turn ESP (electronic stability control) off because it robs the WR1 of a lot of power. This doesn’t turn it into the tyre-smoking maniac that you’d expect, though.

You may have all this extra power, but it hasn’t affected fuel economy because the Power Extreme II twin exhaust system has less back pressure and improves fuel economy. The Swift Sport has an official figure of 7.5l/100km, whereas this supercharged WR1 has a quoted fuel consumption of 7.2l/100km. It’s also not overly noisy with the modified exhaust. You certainly hear the supercharger while accelerating, but while cruising it’s only marginally louder than a standard Swift Sport.

Brakes can be GReddy four- or six-pot units with aluminium callipers and can be specified as full competition units, but weren’t fitted to our test car. Springs are Tein, and the suspension has 32-level damping, monotube structure and adjustable pillow ball upper mounts. An optional in-car control unit is available separately.

The rest of the Swift Sport is as standard. There’s a perfectly adequate (but not stellar) stereo with WMA/MP3/CD.

If all the extra power is surplus to your abilities, turn the ESP back on. There’s also ABS, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist for the emergency stops. But it’d be a rare occasion you’d need them, because the Swift’s handling is so superb you would have to enter a corner at a fairly ludicrous speed.

Modifications don’t come cheap for the Swift, and you can expect to part with around $40,000, depending on what specification you choose. This makes it a valid alternative to a Mini Cooper or Cooper S read the review here. But it doesn’t have the power of a Mini Cooper S, something I was a little disappointed in. Sure, you get the supercharger whine, it’s definitely quicker and it handles superbly, but I expected it to be much more¦umm¦swift in a straight line. Perhaps to maintain the balance of the recipe it doesn’t need to be.

The Swift Sport as a standard car is brilliant; the WR1 just gives it that little bit extra.

Click through to the next page to read the full specifications of the Suzuki Swift Sport WR1.

Price: Around NZ$40,000

What we like

  • More perky
  • Supercharger whine
  • Excellent stopping power
  • Great handling
  • Better fuel economy

What we don’t like

  • Can start to get expensive with all the options
  • Optional livery won’t be everyone’s cup-o’-chai
  • Limited internal storage

Suzuki Swift Sport WR1 Supercharged (2008) – Specifications

DIMENSIONS
Overall length mm 3765
Overall width mm 1690
Overall height mm 1510
Wheelbase mm 2390
Tread Front mm 1460
Tread Rear mm 1470
Ground Clearance mm 140
Minimum turning radius m 5.2
WEIGHTS
Curb weight kg 1090
Gross vehicle weight kg 1500
ENGINE
Type M16A
Cylinders 4
Number of valves 16
Displacement cc 1586
Bore X stroke 78.0 x 83.0
Compression ratio 11.0 : 1
Maximum Output (EEC net) PS/rpm 145/6800
Maximum Torque (EEC net) Nm/rpm 171/3800
Fuel distribution Multi-point injection
Fuel type 98 Octane
Fuel consumption (L/100km) Urban – 9.3
Extra urban – 6.4
Combined – 7.2
CO2 emissions (g/km) 179
TRANSMISSION
Type 5-speed Manual – close ratio all synchromesh
Gear ratio 1st 3.250
2nd 1.904
3rd 1.407
4th 1.064
5th 0.885
Reverse 3.250
Final gear ratio 4.388
CHASSIS
Power assisted Steering Rack and pinion
Suspension Front Custom
Rear Custom
Brakes Front Custom
Rear Custom
Tyres 195/50R16
CAPACITY
Seating 5
Fuel tank (unleaded 91) Litres 43
Capacity Rear seatbacks raised 213
Rear seatbacks folded 562

Words and photos Darren Cottingham