Audi: Audi RS6 quattro Avant 2008 Review

audi-rs6-fq

The Olympics are on as I write this article. China is in the lead in the medals table (most likely because their lungs are used to Beijing’s air quality). To get to the Olympics you have to be faster, stronger, more focused. It takes dedication, flexibility, a competitive spirit, and the willingness to get up in the morning a good two hours before most of us have finished dreaming about relaxing by the pool with a burger and milkshake.

Could the Audi RS6 qualify for the Olympics? No. It’s a station wagon on steroids; a sports car with a paunch. It’s lost the lithe athleticism that’s required due to an abundance of accoutrements such as an automatically closing tailgate, in-dash TV, and a set of deep, leather-clad, electrically adjustable bucket seats that clasp your torso like fat kid grips a hotdog.

The RS6 is like a prop forward in the 100m dash — comparatively speaking, it’s quick, but it’s never going to beat the true 100m runners. And when it wants to stop, there’s a much larger amount of muscle to decelerate.

But is that a bad thing? Short of airfreight, the Audi RS6 has to be the quickest way to move large boxes and a family around. It’s a supercar you can take on holiday without even having to deflate the beach ball.

Motive power is supplied by a 5.0-litre twin-turbo V10 (derived from the Lamborghini Gallardo’s engine) that bulges out of the engine bay like a weightlifter in a leotard. The stance at the front is all muscle, but it’s not just the front wheels that pull the car along. The quattro system (with electronic stability control and electronic diff lock) keeps the 580bhp and 650Nm in deep communication with the ground via a slick-shifting automatic six-speed dual clutch gearbox, which can also be controlled using paddles behind the steering wheel.

That combination equates to an almost Playstation-esque driving experience. Simply floor the throttle and marvel at how the scenery becomes distorted without you really even realising you’re gathering pace at a rapid rate of knots. Such is the aplomb with which the RS6 insulates you from its potential rawness, that it doesn’t seem anything like 4.6 seconds to 100kph.

Being a station wagon (with a practical 1660 litres of boot space), Audi has included useful movable load anchors, and a cargo net that extends from the top of the rear seats up to the ceiling — good protection against moving loads under braking, especially when you consider the Audi’s cross-drilled discs which are the size of table saws.

The four 20-inch wheels come wrapped in 275/35R20 Rubber — the bulky Audi needs those large contact patches. The suspension can be set to comfortable, dynamic or out-and-out rock solid sporty for rapid motoring.

Driven in a more lethargic manner, the RS6 performs excellently. There’s very little engine noise, the handling manners are perfect, and the Bose Surround stereo is exceptional. Parking is easy too with sensors front and back, and a reversing camera with direction visualisation (lines that change angle when you turn so that you can see where you’ll end up) and parallel park assist.

The large screen also serves as the hub for the entertainment system and satellite navigation. DVDs can be played via the screen while the car is stationary (as per watching the TV), and there’s a 6-CD stacker which is MP3 compatible. The satellite navigation is Audi’s usual option with the almost alluring female voice encouraging you to ‘please turn left in 100m.’ A jog wheel and two buttons facilitate data entry into the unit.

The RS6 left me feeling a bit like watching the opening ceremony at the Olympics. I was wowed, awe-struck, but then I realised there was a lot of electronic trickery, and somehow it felt kind of empty. It’s mercilessly quick, and contains almost every electronic option you’d need (except, surprisingly, tri- or quad-zone air conditioning), but when you buy one, you have to understand that for $251,000 you’re buying performance that is effortless; an inconspicuous super-tourer with which to bludgeon away the kilometres, but not necessarily one you’ll drive just for the hell of it. Now, where’s my beach ball.

Click through to the next page to read the full specifications of the Audi RS6

Price: from $251,000. Our test model had the optional load retaining kit ($400)

What we like

  • It has almost everything¦

What we don’t like

  • Except soul
Model
Audi RS 6 Avant
Engine / electrics
Engine type

Aluminium ten-cylinder V90° spark-ignition engine with FSI petrol direct injection, twin turbochargers, regulated high-pressure and low-pressure fuel system

Valve gear / number of valves per cylinder

DOHC cylinder head, roller cam followers with hydraulic valve-play compensation, continuous camshaft adjustment for the intake and exhaust valves, maintenance-free timing assembly via chain / 4V

Displacement in cc / bore x stroke in mm / compression

4991 / 84.5 x 89.0 / 10.5 : 1

Maximum power output in kW / at rpm

426 / 6250-6700

Maximum torque in Nm / at rpm

650 / 1500-6250

Engine management / mixture preparation

Fully electronic engine management, single-rod ignition coils, 2 control units as ‘master-slave’ concept, drive-by-wire throttle control, sequential petrol direct injection, cylinder-selective knock control, adaptive lambda control (per cylinder bank), mapped ignition with solid-state high-voltage distribution, comfort and quick-start system / secondary air system, Bosch ME9.1.2

Exhaust emission control

Single-pipe manifold with 4 integrated close-coupled main catalytic converters, each with pre-catalyst and post-catalyst probe

Emissions rating

Euro 4

Alternator in A / battery in A/Ah

190 / 520 / 110

Drive / transmission
Drivetrain type

quattro permanent four-wheel drive with self-locking centre differential with asymmetric/dynamic distribution of torque
electronic stabilisation program ESP, ASR traction control,
electronic differential lock EDL

Clutch

Hydraulic torque converter with lock-up clutch

Gearbox type 6-speed tiptronic with DSP (Dynamic Shift Program) and Sport program
Gear ratio in 1st gear / 2nd gear

4.171 / 2.340

Gear ratio in 3rd gear / 4th gear

1.521 / 1.143

Gear ratio in 5th gear / 6th gear

0.867 / 0.691

Reverse gear / final drive ratio

3.403 / 3.317

Running gear / steering / brakes
Front suspension

Independent four-link front suspension with virtual steering axis, anti-roll bar, spring/damper unit

Rear suspension

Independent-wheel, trapezoidal-link rear suspension, anti-roll bar

Steering / steering ratio / turning circle in m

Maintenance-free rack-and-pinion steering with speed-dependent power assistance (servotronic) 12.5 / 12.2

Brake system, front/rear

Dual-circuit brake system with diagonal split, anti-lock brake system ABS, brake servo, electronic brake-force distribution EBD and ESP, ventilated brake discs at front and rear, front: six-piston high-performance brakes

Wheels / tyres

9J x 19 alloy wheels in 10-spoke design / 255/40 R19

Performance / consumption / acoustics
Top speed in km/h

250 (governed)

Acceleration 0-100 / 0-200 km/h in seconds

4.6 / 14.9

Fuel type

Unleaded Super, 95 RON (91 RON with slight reduction in performance)

Fuel consumption: urban / extra urban / overall, l/100 km

20.4 / 10.3 / 14.0

CO2 mass emission, g/km

333

Standing / drive-past exterior noise level in dB (A)

84/74

Servicing / guarantee (New Zealand)
Oil Change

15,000kms or 12 months

Audi Cover/ Vehicle/ Paint/ Rust Perforation Warranty 3 years/ 3 years with unlimited mileage/ 3 years/ 12 years
Weights / loads
Unladen weight in kg / gross weight limit in kg

2025 / 2655

Axle load limit at front / rear in kg

1410 / 1380

Roof load limit in kg

100

Capacities
Cooling system capacity (incl. heating) in litres

14

Engine oil capacity (incl. filter) in litres

11.2

Fuel tank capacity in litres

80

Body / dimensions
Body type

Unitary steel body, galvanised, aluminium wings and bonnet

Number of doors / seats

4 doors / 5 seats

Drag coefficient Cd / frontal area A in m2

0.35 / 2.36

Length / width excl. mirrors/ height, mm

4928 / 1889 / 1460

Wheelbase / track at front/rear, mm

2846 / 1614 / 1637

Height of loading lip in mm

630

Luggage capacity in l, acc. to VDA block method

565 – 1660 (loaded up to roof with rear seat folded down)

Notes

1. Car’s unladen weight excluding driver. Optional extras may increase its unladen weight and aerodynamic drag coefficient, in which case the payload limit and top speed will be correspondingly lower.

2. Measured by the VDA test method using 200 x 100 x 50 mm blocks. Second value for Avant: rear seat back folded and loaded up to roof.

3. If not available, Super unleaded (95 RON) can be used; power output will be slightly reduced. Performance and consumption data were taken with SuperPlus unleaded (98 RON).

4. Depending on driving style, road and traffic conditions, environmental influences and the car’s condition and equipment, the fuel consumption obtained in practice may differ from these standard test values.
5.0 V10 FSI quattro Avant
Cubic Capacity: 4,991
KiloWatts/Bhp: 426 / 580
Torque (Nm/rpm): 650 / 1,500 – 6,250
Cylinders / Valves Per Cylinder: 10/4
Fuel Injection System: FSI
Drive Train: quattro
Transmission – Tiptronic With DSP & Sport Program: 6 speed
Servotronic Steering Assistance
Suspension: Dynamic Ride Control, Three Stage Variable Suspension
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (secs): 4.6
Top Speed (km/h): 250
Fuel consumption combined in l/100 km (CO2 emission): 14.0 (333)
Audi Cover Assistance – 3 Year Cost Free Motoring
Galvanised Body – 12 Year Anti-Corrosion Warranty

Safety and Security

ABS with EBD (Electronic Brake Pressure Distribution) and Electronic Brake Assist
ASR Traction Control System, with EDL – Electronic Diff Lock and ESP
Front Passenger Airbag Key Deactivation
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchorages Front & Rear
Active Front Head Restraints
Driver & Passenger Airbags, Side Airbags Front And Rear, and Sideguard Head Airbag System
Head Restraints Front & Rear
5 Auto-Retract 3-Point Seatbelts
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System

Exterior

Alloy Wheels (quattro GMBH desgn): 20″ 5 Spoke Design
Tyres: 275 /35
Aluminium- Look Housing for Exterior Mirrors
Auto Headlight Activation with Rain Sensor, Coming-Home and Daytime Driving Mode
Automatic Dimming Exterior Mirrors – Electric & Heated with Memory function
Automatic tailgate operation (electric open and close)
Black painted brake callipers with RS6 emblem
Bi- Xenon Plus with Adaptive Light
Tyre Mobility System
Headlight Washers
Rear Fog Lights

Interior

Air Conditioning with Sun Sensor & Humidity Sensor
AMI Audi Music Interface For Connection With MP3 & ipod Devices. Operated Via MMI & Multifunction Steering Wheel
Auto Dimming Interior Mirrors
Carbon Styling Package
CD Changer for AMI
Cruise Control
Dash Inserts: Carbon Atlas
Bose Surround System
Driver Information System
Dual Band GSM Hands-Free car phone in MMI
Electric Front Seats with Lumber and Drivers Memory
Electric Windows Front & Rear
Electromechanical Parking Brake
Heated Front & Rear Seats
Height And Reach Adjustable Steering Column: Electric with auto easy entry
Illuminated Vanity Mirrors

Interior Trim

Silk Nappa Leather With Piping
Leather Gear Shift: Perforated Leather
Leather 3- Spoke Multifunction RS Flat Bottom Sports Steering Wheel with shift paddles
Lighting Package
Multi Function Trip Computer with Colour Display
Multi Media Interface (MMI)
Advanced Parking Aid Front & Rear with rear view camera
RS6 Sports seats
RS6 door sill trims
Navigation
Split Folding Rear Seat
Storage Package
TV Reception
Through Loading Ski Sleeve

Words and photos Darren Cottingham


Road Tests / Car Reviews: Skoda Fabia 1.6 16V 2008 Review

skoda-fabia-fq

For those of you not au fait with the greatest band in the world, AC/DC, here is a quick history lesson.

Two brothers, Angus and Malcolm Young, start a rock band in 1973, write some of the best songs ever and are immortalised on the bedroom walls of 13 year-old boys around the world.

Now here’s the thing. Both brothers play guitar, but in 35 years of the band performing and recording, Malcolm has never played a guitar solo. Not a single, solitary note.

Angus has always been the school uniform-clad demon, writhing around like a dying cockroach while ripping out face-melting solos on his Gibson SG guitar. Malcolm, on the other hand, has stood quietly in the background, holding the rhythm solid and going largely unnoticed for 35 years.

The Skoda Fabia is also the ignored sibling of a famous family, always a distant second in the Volkswagen Group to either the pert Polo or popular Golf.

Unlike Malcolm, it seems that Skoda has finally stepped out of the shadows with a new platform for the Fabia (shared with SEAT) and delivered a solo worth listening to.

The new Fabia platform is a little bigger than the previous model which puts it between the Polo and Golf size-wise

Price-wise it is a different story as the Fabia has a unique position as there is not an equivalent engined Polo model to match on price, and the Golf range is more expensive.

However the forthcoming Polo could well be based on the Fabia platform and share closer pricing.

At the moment though, the Fabia starts at $27,990 for the 1.4 diesel rising to $29,990 for the 1.6 auto version as tested.

There are quite a few things to like about the Skoda Fabia. The interior is probably one of the best in its class with a real air of quality about all controls and surfaces, something that is very hard to find in the sub-$30,000 bracket.

The seats are firm and give decent support, while in the back there is a good amount of leg room even for tall people. While a band’s roadies won’t like the diminutive size, the interior is quite spacious both for groupies and luggage.

The only real problem with the interior is the centre arm rest which while providing storage, obscures the hand-brake but it can be folded out of the way.

The quality feel inside also translates to ability on the road where the Fabia shows enough competence to make it an interesting proposition to drive. The ride is compliant and the car feels quite solid though a little high when pitched into corners. Work the suspension hard and it starts to feel a little rubbery and roll through corners is evident but it still gets along back roads quickly with a minimum of road noise and a good amount of feel through the steering wheel and seat.

The engine growls like a would-be rock singer when you give it an audition and produces a good amount of power to back up the noise. The best word to describe acceleration is ‘brisk’ but it does get the job done. The 6-speed auto is well-sorted and the manual shift option helps to make the performance sportier.

Economy is not bad either with a combined total of 8L/100km on my various trips, while a long suburban run at 60km/h saw a best of 6.8L/100km

Aesthetics aren’t really the Fabia’s strong suit — the back and side are very non-descript — but it’s redeemed slightly by a moderately handsome front end and the MINI-style white roof.

While the Skoda Fabia doesn’t have the cachet of its savvy, cafe latte, Volkswagen brethren it is just as solid inside and as likeable to drive.

It won’t set the world on fire with solos that will inspire every teen to take up the guitar but it will, like Malcolm Young, provide a quality rhythm without fuss.

Price: from $27,990. As tested $29,990

What we like

  • Raspy engine note
  • Interior quality
  • Auto transmission

What we don’t like

  • Armrest is too high and interferes with gear changes/handbrake operation
Performance
Acceleration (0-100km/h) 11.5 seconds
Performance
Engine Power – KW 78.3@5600
Engine Torque – NM 153@3800
Performance
Top Speed 185km/h
Tyres
Alloy Wheels Yes
Engine and Drive Train
Camshaft Double-Overhead (DOHC)
Catalytic Convertor Yes
CC (Cubic Capacity in cm3) 1598
Emissions
CO2 (g/km) 180
Engine and Drive Train
Compression Ratio 10.5:1
Engine Orientation IN-LINE
Cylinders 4
Cylinders – Bore (mm) 76.5
Cylinders – Stroke (mm) 86.9
Engine and Drive Train
Engine Orientation FRONT TRANSVERSE
Engine and Drive Train
Fuel Delivery MULTI POINT FUEL INJECTION
Weight and Capacities
Fuel Tank (Litres) 45
Engine and Drive Train
Number of Gears 6 SPEED
Weight and Capacities
Gross Weight (kg) 1630
Emissions
HC (Hydrocarbons) 0.062
HC+NOx N/a
Vehicle Dimensions
Height 1498
Height (mm, inc. roof rails) N/a
Vehicle Dimensions
Length (mm) 3992
Weight and Capacities
Luggage Space (Litres, Seats Down) 1163
Luggage Capacity (Seats Up) 300
Load Weight (kg) 515
Roof Load (kg) 75
Towing Weight, Braked (kg) 1000
Towing Weight, Unbraked (kg) 500
Min Kerb Weight (kg) 1115
Number of Seats 5
Emissions
Noise Level dB(A) 74
NOx (Nitrogen Oxides) 0.032
Engine and Drive Train
No. Valves 16
Tyres
Space Saver No
General
Special Edition No
Special Order No
Emissions
EU Emission Standards EURO 4
Engine and Drive Train
Transmission Type SEMI-AUTO
Weight and Capacities
Kerb-Kerb Turning Circle (metres) 10
Tyres
Front Tyre Size 205/45 R16
Rear Tyre Size 205/45 R16
Spare Tyre Size 205/45 R15
Spare Tyre Size 205/45 R16
Wheel Style ATRIA
Wheel Type 16″ ALLOY
Vehicle Dimensions
Wheelbase (mm) 2462
Width (mm) 1642
Width (mm, inc. mirrors) N/a

Words Ben Dillon, photos Darren Cottingham

News: Suzuki Alto coming to New Zealand in 2009

suzuki-alto-fql

The new generation Suzuki Alto mini-car is set for a New Zealand launch next year.

The stylish five-door hatchback goes into production in October and makes its world debut at the Paris international motor show the same month.

Destined to be a significant international car, the new front wheel driven Alto is the fifth world strategy car from Suzuki, following the success of the Grand Vitara, Swift, SX4 and Splash models.

Suzuki expects annual production of the Alto to reach 960,000 by 2010, with around 100,000 units destined for European markets.

As the smallest world car yet from Suzuki, the highly efficient Alto is totally in tune with today’s needs.

The thrifty car is characterised not only by low running costs but also for its strong styling and European flair.

Prominent ornate headlights, a bold front end with a deep grille, teardrop roofline, high metal-to-glass ratio and flared wheel arches provide a highly distinctive look for the new Alto.

“This fresh styling creates a sense of dynamism even when the car is stationary,” said Tom Peck, General Manager of Marketing for Suzuki New Zealand Limited. “We have every reason to be highly enthusiastic about the arrival of this new car which we expect to have here by mid 2009.”

The new Alto is based on the funky A-Star concept car, recently shown at a number of international motor shows.

Powering the latest Suzuki passenger car will be a Euro 5 compliant one-litre engine with CO2 emissions lower than 109 grams/kilometre.

The lightweight, aluminium K10B engine displaces 996cm3 and has three cylinders.

Alto was a pioneer of mini-cars in New Zealand, with the first generation version going on local sale in 1979.

The early models were built in many countries worldwide and were also assembled in New Zealand into the eighties.  Alto played a significant role in establishing the brand locally as an automobile manufacturer.

Suzuki is the leading international manufacturer of mini-cars in the world and the twelfth largest motor manufacturer.  The marque is represented in 190 markets and has achieved nine years of consecutive growth.

In addition to the unveiling of the new Alto in Paris, Suzuki will also display two hydrogen fuel-cell models — the SX4 FCV and the Crosscage which has an air-cooled fuel-cell system.

News: Dodge Journey coming to New Zealand soon

dodge-journey-fq

The soon to be released in New Zealand Dodge Journey looks set to provide affordable seating for seven.

The front-wheel drive Dodge Journey has 5+2 seating as standard across the range and loads of family-friendly features including a tilt and slide flexible seating system; spacious under-floor storage bins and under-seat storage areas; rear doors that open to 90-degrees for easy access when installing child seats; a rear conversation mirror and climate control that operates in all three rows.

The new Dodge comes with a choice of a 2.4-litre petrol engine or a 2.0-litre diesel engine. The diesel engine is available with either a manual or dual-clutch automatic gearbox and will return up to 6.5L/100km (combined cycle).

The entry-level SE model will come with three-zone climate control; a tilt and telescope steering wheel; tyre pressure monitoring; power-folding and heated wing mirrors; electric windows and six-disc CD with MP3 compatible sound system all as standard.

News: Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon debuts at Pebble Beach

cadillac-cts-sport-wagon-fq

The 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon made its world premiere at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, in Monterey, California over the weekend.

The new CTS Sport Wagon has a distinctive and dynamic presence. The first view of the car’s intricately sculpted rear profile demonstrates Cadillac’s commitment to cutting edge styling and its “Art and Science” design philosophy, so successfully implemented on the CTS luxury sport saloon and the CTS Coupe Concept.

The right-hand drive 2010 CTS Sport Wagon is expected to arrive in Cadillac’s UK showrooms in the autumn of 2009. No news as yet on New Zealand imports.

The new model’s striking profile communicates a performance-oriented character in tandem with high aerodynamic efficiency. It rides on the same wheelbase as the CTS sport saloon and is 7 mm shorter overall, yet still offers a generous luggage capacity of 720 litres behind the rear seats.

Design highlights include:

* Signature V-shaped tailgate motif

* Large, vertical taillamps with light-pipe technology

* Power-opening tailgate (via key fob or in-vehicle button)

* High-mounted rear brake light integrated in subtle roof spoiler

* Integrated roof load management system with cross bars for a seamless appearance

* Interior luggage management system with flexible in-floor space

* New 19-inch alloy wheels

* Optional panoramic rear sunroof

The CTS Sport Wagon will include features such as a fully integrated infotainment system with 40-gigabyte internal hard drive and pop-up navigation screen, and a hand-cut-and-sewn leather interior.

US models will be available with 3.6-litre V6 engines, and an efficient 2.9-litre turbo-diesel engine is being developed for CTS models primarily for European and Asian markets. It is a compact, dual overhead cam, V6 engine from GM’s family of diesel engines that delivers optimal fuel economy as well as reduced emissions and noise. The engine is rated at 250 ps.

One of the more interesting integrations of form and function is found in the seamless roof load management system. Rather than abrupt stanchions, brackets and cross bars that protrude above the roof line, the CTS Sport Wagon’s system blends with the roofline, maintaining an uninterrupted appearance.  The central section of the roof panel angles downward inside the roof edges, allowing an unobtrusive placement of the cross bars — and creating a subtle fin effect at the trailing edges of the rear panels.

News: Revised Peugeot 407 for 2009

peugeot-407-2009-fq

A new 2009 Peugeot 407 with revised specification that goes on sale in Europe this September introduces a number of exterior and interior enhancements, a new RT5 satellite navigation system, a new ‘SR’ model to the range and a new HDi 140 diesel engine producing 150 g/km of CO2.

Since its launch the 407 range, which includes Saloon, SW and Coupe body styles, has been recognised in its segment for its stylish design, advanced technology features and high levels of road holding. One of the attractions of the 407 is its feline appearance, which initiated the latest ‘house style’ of Peugeot cars that has inspired the appearance of ranges that followed.

Characterised by a more distinctive design at the front, the new air intake fits perfectly both in terms of technical performance and its bold design. The rear bumper now incorporates a diffuser style number-plate surround.

The interior, where the driver environment is so important, has been enhanced. SE and GT models now feature the new ‘piano black’ finish which is applied to the door handle and air vent surrounds and to the centre console.

The dynamic characteristics of 407, including exceptional road holding, are the result of a number of technical solutions and Peugeot’s expertise in fine tuning of the suspension that benefits both ride and handling. In anticipation of the changing expectations of its customers, Peugeot has strengthened the appeal of the 407’s engaging dynamic performance even further.

Subtle visual improvements update a design that is just as dynamic and bold as before but now offers more in terms of elegance, robustness and high quality, both externally and internally. New enhanced comfort equipment increases the appeal of the different versions by offering even greater well-being to its occupants, in particular on-board temperature control and new telematics systems.

New equipment like front parking assistance enhances the car’s world-wide reputation for ease of driving and dynamic performance. It is available with a choice of four- and six-cylinder engines featuring cutting edge technology, particularly on the HDi Diesel versions, the most popular engine in the 407.

These include an updated 2.0-litre HDi 140 engine with a 6-speed manual gearbox which develops a power of 140 bhp – an increase of 4 bhp over the HDi 136. It also benefits from low fuel consumption of 5.7L/100km and CO2 emissions reduced to 150 g/km. This engine, which complies with anticipated future Euro 5 emission standards, testifies Peugeot’s ongoing commitment to achieve the best possible environmental performance.

For example, an additive-enhanced diesel particulate filter system (FAP) is standard on all HDi Diesel powered 407s, following the introduction of the 1.6-litre HDi 110FAP engine. That is particularly well suited as a fleet vehicle due to its low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions (only 140 g/km for the Saloon).  All Peugeot HDi engines, back to 1998, can operate on B30 (Biodiesel at a 30% mixture).  A new 2.0-litre ‘Bioflex’ engine operating on E85 fuel will also be available from November, maximising the environmental benefit.

News: Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport debuts at Pebble Beach

bugatti-veyron-open-rq

The new Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport with a unique removable roof has been unveiled at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the US over the weekend.

In response to customer demand, significant modifications have been made to the vehicle’s complex structure to make possible open-top driving, thereby adding a new dimension to this high-performance sports car. Incorporating a host of new and innovative safety and equipment features, it is the world’s fastest and most exciting roadster. It is immediately recognizable as a result of its slightly higher windscreen, stylized daytime running lights, and lightweight, transparent polycarbonate roof.

The main challenge in developing the new Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport with removable roof resulted from the unique structure of the fixed-roof Bugatti Veyron. An optimum combination of rigidity and lightweight engineering ensures the monocoque passenger cell of the original model is extremely strong while weighing an absolute minimum — it is a central element of the vehicle’s structure. As the roof is an integral part of this, removing it meant the load paths had to be completely redesigned to maintain the vehicle’s rigidity and crash safety, and to offer additional protection from side impacts and rolling.

As a result, the monocoque structure has been reinforced around the side skirts and the transmission tunnel. The B-pillars have been cross-stiffened using a carbon fibre support, and a central carbon plate has been positioned beneath the transmission tunnel to ensure the vehicle suffers from less torsional flexing than any other roadster.

The doors of the new Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport are made of carbon fibre, and house an integrated longitudinal beam.

In the event of an accident, this transfers the load from the A to the B-pillar, thereby dissipating impact energy. Furthermore, the two redesigned air intakes for the 16-cylinder mid-engine now feature 10-centimetre wide carbon-fibre elements to offer protection should the car roll.

Along with moisture-resistant, backstitched leather, a range of new equipment features has been added to the interior, including a reversing camera with 2.7-inch monitor in the rear-view-mirror, and the “Puccini” sound system with digital signal processor. When the roof is closed, the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport can reach 407 km/h, while speeds of up to 360 km/h are possible with roof off. Should it rain, an innovative folding roof stored in the luggage compartment can be opened up like an umbrella at any time. When this
folding roof is in place, the car can travel at up to 130 km/h. Assembled by hand at the company’s headquarters in Molsheim, Alsace, the Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport will be available from March 2009 at the price of 1.4 million euros (excluding tax) (NZ$). Just 150 examples will be made, with the first 50 of these going exclusively to registered Bugatti customers. The first vehicle is certain to be highly sought after, and Bugatti has taken the decision to donate this specific car to charity. It will be sold to the highest bidder at the Pebble Beach Auction presented by Gooding & Company.

News: New Limited edition Smart Fortwo

smart-fortwo-limited-fq

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.