News: Lotus working on more efficient ‘Omnivore’ engine


Lotus Engineering has announced a collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast and Jaguar Cars Ltd to develop an engine which maximises fuel efficiency when running on renewable fuels. The OMNIVORE concept will employ novel engine architecture to achieve a high thermal efficiency when fuelled on any alcohols or gasoline.

The project is sponsored by Defra (Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs) and the DOE NI (Department of the Environment Northern Ireland) through the Renewable Materials LINK Programme. Lotus Engineering is currently undertaking a design study and the build of a single cylinder research engine for completion in January 2009. Vehicle modelling will validate the reduction in vehicle CO2 emissions. Queen’s University of Belfast’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering will be adding its world leading expertise in engine simulation, with Jaguar Cars Ltd a consultative partner at all stages of development.

This engine design is expected to significantly increase fuel efficiency for sustainable bio alcohol fuels. The architecture features an innovative variable compression ratio system and uses a two-stroke operating cycle with direct fuel injection. The OMNIVORE engine will be ideally suited to flex-fuel operation with a higher degree of optimisation than is possible with existing architectures.

Mike Kimberley, Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus Plc said: “The automotive industry is now focusing on its environmental obligations to reduce CO2 emissions and improve efficiencies and we are seeing the high technology capabilities of Lotus Engineering being in strong demand. Not only does our brand value of ‘performance through light weight’ fit perfectly with the necessary direction of the industry to produce lighter, more efficient vehicles, we are also working on all aspects of future fuels, investigating alternative powertrains to accommodate alcohol fuels as they enter the market.”

Kimberley continues: “Alcohols possess superior combustion characteristics to gasoline which allow greater optimisation. Taking full advantage of the benefits of sustainable bio alcohols will ensure a greater percentage of vehicle miles will be travelled using renewable fuels. We are delighted with the investment from DEFRA which will assist this partnership in taking forward research development and the demonstration of this environmentally conscious transport solution.”

The OMNIVORE programme complements the recently unveiled Lotus Exige 270E Tri-fuel as part of Lotus’ research to understand the complex combustion process involved in running on mixtures of alcohol fuels and gasoline, which will be important for a successful transition from today’s fuels to the sustainable, synthetic fuels of the future.

Blogs: Motorsport has no place in the Olympics

Every year another few sports make it into the Olympics. I’m certain that eventually the egg and spoon race will be a major attraction in track and field. For me, the essence of the Olympics is one person against several others primarily using their own motive force to achieve a win. Therefore, I can accept BMX racing, but I think soccer shouldn’t be there. I have a bit of a grey area when it comes to team sports – should coxless rowing pairs be allowed, what about the 4x100m relay?

Anyway, I won’t lose any sleep over it, but by my own rules, motorsport is excluded. It’s the kind of sport where the chequebook has too much of an influence on the final results. I’m not saying that this doesn’t also count in sports such as swimming (with the Speedo suit), or cycling, but the costs are negligible compared to haring around a track burning fuel and breaking gearboxes.

One thing I would like to see, though, is an anything-goes, steroid-fueled Olympics. I want to see someone run the 100m quicker than 7.2 seconds. I want to see bursting veins, stratospherically high pole vaults and swimmers that can create a wake like a mini tsunami. And they can carry an ostrich egg on a chopstick for a kilometre.

News: New Hyundai Tiburon to be revealed in 2009


Hyundai’s next small coupe to replace the aging Tiburon is set to be revealed at the Frankfurt Motorshow next Septmeber.

The looks of the new Tiburon are said to have been influenced by the Velostar concept that was shown at the Seoul Motorshow last year.

Dimentions are reported to be similar to the last generation Toyota Celica (the Tiborun will be built on the i30/Kia Forte’s platform), leaving the Genesis to be the ‘big’ coupe of the forthcoming Hyundai range.

News: Sporting options available for M6 and 6-series BMWs


The BMW 6 Series Coupe and Convertible are now offered with a new sports package aimed at enhancing driving dynamics and adding a more sporting appearance.

Available on all non-M derivatives, the Edition Sport package comprises a new contoured bonnet for an aggressive look, bespoke 19-inch light alloy wheels and M anti-roll stabilisation system for improved handling. The suspension enhancement will benefit Edition Sport model customers with the insertion of stiffer anti-roll bars for a 10 per cent firmer front axle and a 30 per cent firmer rear axle rear. This results in improved handling and a more composed ride during enthusiastic driving.

A Brushed Aluminium interior, Extended lighting and the opportunity to specify one of seven colours, of which Imola Red and Carbon Black are new to the 6 Series range, completes the offering. Building on this specification, BMW 650i Edition Sport Coupes and Convertibles also come with a Sports exhaust for enhanced engine breathing and aural pleasure.

The BMW M6 Coupe is to be offered with a competition package aimed at offering enhanced driving dynamics. The new package features a revised suspension configuration comprising a 12mm lower front end and 10mm lower rear, retuned Dynamic Stability Control and ABS settings, and a modified Variable M differential for greater cornering capability.

Visually, a competition package-equipped M6 Coupe has a new bonnet with precision lines for an increased sporting look and M double-spoke light alloy wheels with wider rims that are shod with new Pirelli P Zero Corsa System tyres.

BMW in New Zealand has yet to advise us as to whether we will be seeing any upgrades to the 6-series here.




Zero to 100km/h Seconds

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Combined L/100km

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BMW 630i Edition Sport Coupe







BMW 630i Edition Sport Convertible







BMW 635d Edition Sport Coupe







BMW 635d Edition Sport Convertible







BMW 650i Edition Sport Coupe







BMW 650i Edition Sport Convertible








News: New Audi A3 Convertible can park itself


The new Audi A3 Cabriolet now has the added ability to now park itself, thanks to what Audi calls the ‘Parallel Park Assist system’.

Working in conjunction with the A3 Cabriolet’s sophisticated in-dash Driver’s Information System (DIS) – a standard feature of Sport and S line versions – the new Parallel Park Assist system is available as an optional extra.

Using ultrasonic sensors, the system monitors longitudinal parking spaces at speeds below 30km/h, and if it detects that a space is sufficiently large to reverse into, the driver is alerted via the DIS. If the driver then engages reverse gear and touches the accelerator pedal, the Park Assist system takes over the electromechanical steering and automatically steers the car into the space in one manoeuvre. The driver can hand over complete control of the steering wheel to the car, and only has to operate the accelerator, the clutch and the brake for obvious safety reasons. Audible chimes which increase in frequency depending on proximity to cars in front and behind allow the driver to position the car perfectly in the space once the ‘hands-free’ steering input has been completed.

Power for the A3 Cabriolet range comes courtesy of five responsive petrol engines, including the 1.6-litre 102PS four-cylinder petrol which has just been introduced, the 160PS 1.8 TFSI petrol and the 200PS 2.0 TFSI petrol, and in the diesel camp the 105PS 1.9 TDI and the 140PS 2.0 TDI with common rail piezo fuel injection. These are combined with either a five or six-speed manual gearbox, depending on version, or the option, for all models bar the 1.6 and 1.9 TDI, of the acclaimed six-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission.

Practicality has been considered as carefully as optimum performance, the A3 Cabriolet not only converting to topless mode and back extraordinarily rapidly, and at speeds of up to 30km/h, but also comfortably accommodating four passengers without ruling out impressive luggage capacity that is expandable thanks to the standard split/fold rear seat. An ingenious Z-fold mechanism eliminates the need for a deep stowage compartment for the roof within the body of the A3 Cabriolet, and therefore also eliminates the compromise in boot space that is often required.

News: Peugeot releases ‘Blue Lion’ identifying label for greener cars

To assist customers in identifying the cleanest and most environmentally friendly vehicles in its model range, Peugeot has introduced a new identification system for its cars named the ‘Blue Lion’ standard.

The standard will be awarded to all models which meet a list of set criteria:

* CO2 emissions that are lower than or equal to 130 g/km for vehicles that use fossil fuels

* Manufactured in an ISO 14001 certificated production facility

* Designed so that, at the end of its life, the vehicle is 95% recyclable (provide recycled materials and energy)

Choosing a Peugeot Blue Lion Car can also significantly reduce day-to-day running costs.

Not only does it bring down the environmental cost but, it also reduces on-going fuel costs by increasing the vehicle’s fuel economy.

Blogs: What’s it like to drive a $250,000 car?

Today I had to part with the Audi RS6 that had adorned the driveway of the Mexican hacienda-style house that I live in. Beautiful as the house is, the driveway painfully narrow and there’s virtually no chance of turning around at the end. Therefore I was forced to reverse a $250,000 car (sometimes at night) using only the mirrors. With the foliage (i.e. trees) so close to the car the reversing sensors were having a techno party, and therefore were no use, and the reversing camera couldn’t tell you whether you were about to rip the mirror off with an unfortunate car vs. trunk episode.

My nerves survived and I found the RS6 quite interesting to live with; interesting, but not stellar. There was the time when I had to wait for a friend and I ended up watching Dr Phil in the in-dash TV. Then where was the morning that it was 4 degrees Celsius (6-stage seat warmers were welcome.) When I had to pick up a TV, the RS6′s capacious luggage space was useful – and it even had an integrated cargo net from the top of the rear seats up to the roof.

But, with all the weight (think automatically closing boot, heated wing mirrors, etc), a twin turbo 580 horsepower V10 just wasn’t enough. It’s like the technology removed you from the driving experience, and sound deadening removed you from the noise. Sure, it’s rapid on paper (and I have no doubt that the performance figures can be backed up, but it didn’t feel that way). So what do you buy if you want a rapid station wagon and have a quarter of a million  sitting around idle? I haven’t driven the E63 AMG (which is available as a station wagon) for about the same money, but if it’s every bit as good as the C63 AMG (in terms of sound and features), it’s going to give the RS6 a serious run for its money.

News: Porsche Cayenne to feature diesel power courtesy of Audi

Hybrid Porsche Cayenne_400

Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking has confirmed that the Cayenne will feature a diesel engine option and arrive sometime in 2010.

The diesel unit is expected to be dropped into the Cayenne unchanged from its Audi Q7 origins so that means the 3.0-litre V6 TDI derv unit will have around 240bhp and 540Nm of torque.

In addition to this the money that Porsche has saved in buying-in an engine is reportedly being put into a hybrid system that could see duty on the Cayenne in around 2010.