News: Orcon adds MINI Clubmans to it’s fleet

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Orcon New Zealand has added three MINI Clubmans to its fleet to capitalise on the small cars economy over the aging Commodore fleet currently used by the company.

Orcon CEO Scott Bartlett says: “Not only do the Clubmans look great, they will also save us money.”

Fuel consumption for the Clubman Cooper S is a quoted as a thrifty 5.8L/100kms — almost half that of the Holden Commodore’s Orcon became renowned for.

Orcon is phasing out the Commodores as their leases come up for renewal, starting with three new MINIs due to hit the streets later this month. The MINI Clubman revives the iconic 60’s panel van and offers the space and legroom that Orcon’s team need.

“They are fantastic machines, and fit with Orcon’s personality,” says Bartlett. “They are peppy, sporty, smart, and punch above their weight — just like us.”

Bartlett says adding the MINIs to the fleet is the perfect move in these times: “Businesses now realise they need to take responsibility for their carbon footprint and cut costly fuel bills,” he says. “While the MINIs are a fun little car, they enable us to take our corporate citizen responsibilities seriously.”

News: Pininfarina Hyperion delivered to new owner

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Pininfarina has presented the Hyperion, a one-off custom-built car derived from the Rolls-Royce Drophead Coupe which made its world debut at the Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach, America’s most important competition for historical classic and one-off cars and a prestigious annual event.

The car is named after Hyperion, one of the Titans of Greek mythology, to underline its architectural and figurative power.

It is not the first time that the Pininfarina Special Projects Division has designed a unique car from a standard production model. In the recent past Pininfarina has reinterpreted Ferrari engineering, as in the case of the P4/5 of collector Jim Glickenhaus, or Peter Kalikow’s Scaglietti “K”. In the case of the Pininfarina Hyperion, Roland Hall, a collector and the owner of a Rolls-Royce Drophead Coupe, asked Pininfarina to create a custom-built car that would evoke the appeal of the sumptuous cars of the 1930s. It might seem paradoxical, but today more than ever before, there is a desire on the part of a very elite clientele to return to the idea of the car as an artistic expression. As it was in the 1950s.

With the Hyperion, the team of designers and engineers of the Special Projects Division was able to express its creative skills and to apply Pininfarina expertise without limits, save that of coming as close as possible to the type of car that our customer had in mind. The result was a custom-built unit that is firmly rooted in the values of the Pininfarina and Rolls-Royce brands, with lines and dimensions that are hard to find in a 21st century model. The Hyperion takes up the legacy of other Rolls-Royces designed by Pininfarina, the Silver Dawn saloon of 1951, for example, or the Camargue coupe of 1975.

The history of Pininfarina offers plenty of examples of special cars built on “noble” bases. Which is why the company naturally welcomed Roland Hall’s proposal to work on a Rolls-Royce floorpan. For the new Pininfarina one-off, however, the Special Projects Division wanted a new idea, something absolutely unique, which only an individual in love with the car as an abstract, and not merely utilitarian, concept could appreciate. And so the Hyperion project was born, in the Autumn of 2007.

In terms of the styling, the first brainwave came when thinking of some of the cars of the 1930s, with their majestic, regal bonnets, and a body that surrounded the driver and a single passenger. Distinctive features of a car which, thanks to its strength and elegance, does not need to move to draw attention to itself.

Like all the cars designed by Pininfarina, the secret of the Hyperion lies in its absolute harmony between masses and volumes, and the perfect balance of every proportion. Structurally, Pininfarina moved the driving position further back (400 mm) and took out the rear seats. It also designed a new hood, which folds behind the seats under a wood-lined cover. In front of the windscreen it created two compartments for small items or for sports equipment, such as Mr. Hall’s hunting rifles.

The bodywork is made of carbon fibre, while the details are applied using a technology adopted in boat building. The doors were made of solid wood by craftsmen who specialise in creating components for luxury boats. This is another aspect of the programme of Pininfarina special cars: offering customers unique stylistic and technical solutions that are not possible on mass produced cars.

Some of the best international firms contributed to the realisation of the project: Re Fraschini for the carbon, Isoclima for the glazed surfaces, Proxi engineering for the drawings of the car, Triom for the lights and headlights, Fondmetal for the wheel rims, and Materialise for components created using fast prototyping.

News: Renault to launch new model in Moscow

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Renault will shortly be releasing a new model named ‘Symbol’ at the forthcoming Moscow Motor Show which opens on August 26.

The range of sprightly petrol and diesel engine is at the market’s leading edge when it comes to low fuel consumption, while the suspension and running gear have been engineered for comfort and efficiency.

Its length of 4.26 metres and height of 1.43 metres ensure nicely balanced proportions, while the design of the headlamps emphasizes the front end’s styling. The side view is that of a prestigious saloon, while the robust lines of the rear are also suggestive of status. The presence of chrome trimming for the grille and rear panel adds a further note of refined distinction. The newcomer’s seductive appeal and perceived quality are immediately apparent inside the cabin, too. New Renault Symbol also provides generous boot space which is as ideally suited to professional use as it is to a weekend in the country.

New Renault Symbol is powered by a range of latest-generation engines, all of which combine performance, low fuel consumption and respect for the environment. These powerplants — whether petrol or diesel — are the most fuel efficient of this three-box car’s category and make it truly economical to run. The front end’s distinctive looks point to the vehicle’s outstanding on-road performance and travelling comfort. New Renault Symbol benefits from the same suspension as Clio II which is acclaimed for the quality of the balance it strikes between comfort and roadholding and the quiet ride it delivers.

New Renault Symbol will be sold in Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Turkey and the Maghreb countries. New Zealand is not expected to receive the new model.

The first public airing of the latest addition to the line-up outlined in the Renault Commitment 2009 plan will be the forthcoming Moscow Motor Show, which opens its doors on August 26.

Blogs: Should drivers be further penalised?

A report, Managing Transport Challenges When Oil Prices Rise, which was commissioned by the Government’s New Zealand Transport Agency, is recommending that drivers should pay more fees to use roads, and higher car park costs so that the Government has more money in its coffers to fund public transport.

Because I haven’t read the detail of the report, I’m just going to make spurious accusations and moderately defamatory remarks about it…mainly because it makes me feel better.

Anyway, the report predicts petrol prices will be $2.80 in 2014. Well, if you do the maths, that only equates to approximately 5% a year, which is somewhere around the real rate of inflation – big deal.

Other recommendations include narrowing roads and making them more pedestrian-friendly. This is pretty ridiculous. The current rate of increase in the number of cars means that many of our roads are already too congested. Making them artificially more so will simply increase pollution, reduce economic productivity, increase frustration (which often makes the roads less safe), and ultimately potentially drive industry out into areas where there aren’t these restrictions. Whole areas that had previously experience economic abundance could find themselves short of workers to patronise the cafes that sprung up to service them.

80% of the NZ population travels by private car, but do we have a target for what this should be? In Auckland and Wellington surely the figure is less because we already have buses and trains (or trams). In provincial towns it’s likely to be more.

Let’s just get back to the higher car park costs. I already often avoid going into the city to see a movie, favouring a suburban cinema where the parking is easier. I always avoid going shopping in the city, and I don’t work in the city (even though I’ve recently moved very close). In fact, I work 2km from home now, but if I took public transport I’d need to take two buses and it would take me over half an hour. Perhaps I should walk, but 2km is a bit extreme in winter, carrying a laptop and other things.

So is the report the solution? I’m a great believer in the market meeting the requirements of a population, but I also agree in a small amount of intervention to kick-start things. The northern busway is a great idea, park and ride is a great idea, and so on. But with an economic downturn assured over the next couple of years, penalising motorists will compound an already grim-looking situation.

It’s easy for these reports to make blanket assumptions and propose broad, sweeping changes (just as it’s easy for me to sit here and write why I disagree with some of the points). Any government that tries to sell in the recommendations of these reports will certainly meet with some resistance.

News: Trident Iceni diesel sports car claims supercar speed with supermini fuel economy

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Trident Performance Vehicles has designed and produced a two-seater sports car that it claims can reach over 320km/h, get from 0-100km/h in under 4 seconds and deliver up to 3L/100km.

The Trident Iceni offers current technology that is available now which reduces fuel consumption and therefore reduces emissions.

It’s a diesel sports car and if you’re able to obtain any kind of biodiesel, this can be used without any invalidation of warranty, adjustment to the engine or affect on performance.

Its fuel economy is achieved through technology called torque multiplication and it can be applied to all diesel cars (the popularity of which is growing year on year versus petrol cars), buses, lorries and trains. It’s available now, requires no further research and development and can make an immediate difference to the amount of emissions diesel vehicles produce. In short, Trident has the solution to what we’re told is a huge problem.

So serious is the concern about carbon reduction, the UK Government affiliates itself with a number of organisations that exist to provide grants to people and/or companies that can contribute to or offer a solution, all of which refused to give any grants to Trident.

The team at Trident have invested £2.3m (NZ$6 million) in the project which has enabled the completion of all the development needed to get the Iceni into production. They’re now seeking funds to make this happen and satisfy their growing bank of customers.

Trident claim that a 4.1L/100km at a constant 110km/h fuel economy figure was the first recorded test at Millbrook Proving Ground. Trident says the figure naturally improves at lower speeds — and at 50km/h, Trident’s initial tests returned the highlight 3L/100km figure.

The Trident Iceni is a traditional grand tourer which it claims with a full tank of diesel, you can expect to travel around 3200km without needing to fill up.

The boot has space for luggage and golf clubs — enough for a two week holiday.

The chassis is made from stainless steel and is guaranteed against corrosion for 100 years and the body is made from composite and can therefore never rust or degrade.

Trident Iceni — specification

On the road price £75,000.00 (NZ$195,500)

0-100 km/h
3.7 seconds

Top speed
320km/h+

At constant 110km/h
4.1L/100km+

Wheelbase (mm)
2650

Front track (mm)
1650

Rear track (mm)
1690

Overall length (mm)
4200

Overall width (mm)
1950

Overall height (mm)
122

Kerb weight (kgs)
1480

Engine 6.6 TD V8

Max power
550bhp@3800rpm

Max torque
1280Nm@1800rpm

Specific output
83bhp per litre

Power to weight ratio
402bhp per tonne

Installation
Longitudinal, front, rear-wheel-drive, rear gearbox

Construction
Alloy heads and iron block

Valve gear
4 per cylinder

Ignition and fuel
Bosch sequential injection, fly-by-wire throttle

Gearbox type
8-speed automatic

Final drive
2.56

Suspension
Front & rear double wishbones, coil springs, anti- roll bar

Steering
Rack & pinion, power assisted, 2.7 turns lock to lock to lock

Brakes front dia (mm)
365

Brakes rear dia (mm)
320

Wheels front
20″ x 9.5″

Wheels rear
20″ x 11″

Tyres front
255 x 35 x 20

Tyres rear
335 x 30 x 20

News: Chevrolet Cruze to feature on the GM stand in Paris

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Here are the first pictures of Chevrolet’s all-new compact family car the Cruze, which is set to make its debut at the Paris Motor Show in October.

On sale next year, Chevrolet says that the four-door model is “an entirely global car, which will go on sale across all continents as one of Chevrolet’s core new models” though we doubt very much that we will see the car here, with or without a Holden badge.

Inside, the car features a twin-cockpit design, with a distinct centre console dividing the front into separate areas for the driver and passenger — a styling cue taken from various iconic Chevrolet performance cars.

At launch, three engines will be offered — 1.6-litre 112PS and 1.8-litre 140PS petrol units, both with variable valve timing for optimal power, fuel economy and exhaust emissions, or a 2.0-litre 150PS common-rail turbodiesel.

The Cruze heralds a new era for Chevrolet in Europe, which is set to be built upon even further over the coming months with the introduction of even more new models, including the iconic Camaro.

News: Revised Honda Civic for 2009

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Honda has unveiled a slightly facelifted Civic for 2009 with enhancements inside and out including new exterior styling, colours and features like Bluetooth, HandsFreeLink® and a USB Audio Interface 1. An exclusively-equipped Civic LX-S Sedan debuts with alloy wheels and sportier interior styling. A new Civic DX Value Package (DX-VP) Sedan builds on the Civic DX Sedan’s standard features by adding air conditioning and an audio system.

All 2009 Civic sedan and coupe models boast redesigned exterior styling features, including a new front bumper cover and grille design and new headlight and taillight color combinations, featuring clear turn indicator lenses with amber bulbs. New alloy wheel designs are introduced on the Civic EX, Civic EX-L and Civic Si models, along with the addition of fog lamps for the Civic Si model.

Interior enhancements come by way of technology-friendly additions. Bluetooth, HandsFreeLink is added to Navigation-equipped models and a USB Audio Interface added to Civic EX, EX-L, Hybrid and Si models. The Civic Hybrid gains the option of leather-trimmed seating surfaces with heated front seats and side mirrors. Additionally, new cloth materials and patterns on seats, door linings and armrests (when equipped) have been updated to further enhance the interior’s look and feel.

News: Lexus LS 460 AWD to debut at Moscow Motor Show

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The new Lexus LS 460 All-Wheel Drive will make its world premiere at this year’s Moscow International Motor Show.

The LS 460’s outstanding performance, sure-footed dynamic abilities and advanced active safety systems have been further strengthened by the addition of permanent all-wheel drive.

The all-wheel drive system is a three differential configuration featuring a highly compact TORSEN® Limited Slip Differential (LSD) — shared with the LS 600h – which distributes drive torque between the front and rear axles with a 40:60 rear axle bias in torque distribution.

The LS 460 AWD will go on sale in Europe from early 2009 but no word yet if the LS 460 will grace New Zealand shores.