Blogs: Tuning electric cars – ‘amping’

The car tuning industry is still huge (ask the guys over at our sister publication, NZ Performance Car), but it is going to change radically over the next ten years. Bigger exhaust? Well, you won’t need one. Nitrous oxide? Irrelevant. The reason is because we’ll be pimping (or perhaps amping) our electric cars. Some modifications will be purely cosmetic – lighting, etc; but I predict the biggest form of modification will be sound.

Brabus is already in on the act with the Tesla Roadster (see here). There are racing engine sounds, and Beam and Warp.

Xhibit will be presenting ‘Amp My Ride‘, and we’ll be comparing the kilowatt hours of battery power. Because there’s no torque curve (it’s all available from zero revs), torque will just be one figure.

I would expect to see NZ Performance Car’s content start to feature more and more electric cars over the next decade – it will probably take that long, though, for mechanics and auto-electricians to upskill sufficiently to be effective.

The car tuning industry is still huge (ask the guys over at our sister ...

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News: Fiat creates special 500 for 100th birthday

Fiat 500 Abarth 100 fq

A special Fiat 500 Abarth variant has been created to commemorate Karl Abarth’s 100th (born on November 15, 1908) birthday. Not just a styling exercise, the 500 Abarth “DA O A 100″ tribute comes with an upgraded 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Acceleration to 100kmh takes just 7.3 seconds, helped along by shortened gear ratios. Suspension is revised as well, with lowered springs and new 17-inch alloys fitted with low-profile Pirelli PZero Neros.

The ‘100 is shined up with Nuvolari Grey paint along with special silver side stripes and chrome-plated badges and side mirrors. Inside, that color scheme is repeated in leather with contrasting stitching. If you want one, better get your name on the list now, as Fiat’s only planning to build 101 of the unique 500s.

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News: Mansory buys up Rinspeed

Porsche Rinspeed fq

German tuner Mansory has its finger in many automotive pies including doing outrageous things to Ferraris, Rolls Royces, Mercedes, Bentleys and Aston Martins. Mansory has now set its attentions on Porsche, to make things easier on themselves, they have decided to just purchase a firm that already does fine work on the Porsche brand. Mansory has purchased the Porsche-tuning arm of Rinspeed and renamed it Mansory (Switzerland) AG. The deal is a bit complex, but Rinspeed Inc. will continue to operate as a separate entity, and will continue to do additional automotive work in the future, but the Porsche-specific side of the business now belongs to Mansory. So while Mansory will now be able to offer cars like the “Rinspeed” X-treme Cayenne, Le Mans 600, Imola and Indy 4S, Rinspeed will continue to build its wild show cars, like the Splash and sQuba. It’s all a bit confusing but good news for fans of boosted-up Porsches.

German tuner Mansory has its finger in many automotive pies includ ...

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News: Chevrolet Camaro Convertible delayed

Chevrolet Camaro Convertible fq

When Chrysler decided to cease plans for a Dodge Challenger convertible, few people in the industry were surprised. The coupe was never developed with a drop-top variant in mind and it would’ve taken far too much cash to shore up the chassis with the roof removed. Not to mention Chrysler’s financial woes.

Now, reports are coming in that General Motors is delaying the launch of the Chevrolet Camaro Convertible for the same reason, putting off the introduction for another year as the General attempts to keep its head above these financially troubled waters. Spending on such extravagances is hard to justify for both GM and consumers, and if the American federal bailout goes through, it’s safe to assume that legislators would have hard time seeing tax dollars being used to develop such a niche vehicle.

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News: Porsche Cayenne GTS gets welcome upgrade

Porsche Cayenne edo fq

For Porsche Cayenne GTS owners who wish they had sprung for the more expensive Cayenne Turbo, extra performance now comes in the form of an upgrade by edo competition. The German tuning company has created a performance and styling package that helps close the gap between the two models. Edo performance adds another 45 horsepower through the use of high-flow cats, a performance air filter, and a recalibration of the ECU. As a result, the Cayenne GTS puts out 331kW and is capable of reaching 100kph in a mere 6.4 seconds with a top speed of 270kph. Handling and braking is improved with massive 15-inch, six-piston front brakes and an adjustable sport suspension. Other upgrades include 22-inch forged wheels, power dome hood, a new front fascia, and a variety of interior options.

Check out the pics, and to find out more about edo competition performance go to www.edo-competition.de

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Honda: Honda Odyssey (2006) Review

honda-odyssey-rq

What’s in a car’s name? Very little it would seem, so often car makers choose mythical creatures or dangerous animals to help give the vehicle a desirable image. However, when manufacturers choose more feminine names it doesn’t discourage buyers and even enthusiasts, look at Nissan’s handiwork with the Silvia or Fairlady Z. It remains very rare that a car named with a single word can offer a genuine clue to its character. Is the Honda Odyssey one of these rare examples?

The Odyssey as an epic poem is largely about separation from family, in contrast the Odyssey vehicle is all about bringing families together. The 7-seat capacity is a huge selling point for larger families, and the Odyssey can fit seven adults or children comfortably into a single vessel.

Visually the Odyssey sits somewhere between beauty and beast, but is without doubt an improvement on older styled MPVs. The roofline is noticeably low and it has a very car-like stance. The exterior shape disguises the vehicles size well, because like the epic poem it’s very long. Blue tinted headlights squint at those in its way and colour-coded skirting sets off sporty 16-inch rims. The Odyssey’s exterior styling package is evidence that Honda has forgotten MPVs are meant to be basic and dull.

Step into the cabin and it is soft leather seating for all, the seats are comfortable and spacious for all three rows with the exception of the middle seat in the second row back which is not full-sized. Good variation in seating layout is a strength of the Odyssey and it can be easily switched between a five-seat station wagon, seven-seat luxury people carrier and a two-seat cargo van. Even with all three rows of seats erected, there is still usable storage space behind the last pew.

There is a lot to see on the dashboard where digital and analogue dials merge together and are lit up fluoro blue. Marble-look detailing gives a feeling of occasion and there is a good blend of hard and soft touch surfaces. When the traffic Gods are conspiring against you the Odyssey has a six-speaker siren-sweet stereo to keep you entertained and multi-zone air-conditioning to keep the crew cool. The centre console between driver and passenger seats can be folded down to provide interior access into the rear which is convenient for retrieving stuff from bags or chastising kids.

When it comes to performance the Odyssey is no thunderbolt but it won’t take you 10 years to get home either. The 2.4-litre i-VTEC engine kicks out 118kW of power and 218Nm of torque, this will take the Odyssey from 0-100km in a respectable 10.8 seconds. The throttle is responsive and the vehicle does feel more rapid than the performance figures suggest.

The driving experience of the Odyssey is slightly tarnished by unresponsive steering which breaks down communication between vehicle and driver, personally I prefer more feedback when at the helm. But run a gauntlet of windy roads in the Odyssey and it responds with agility and poise holding its line well and gives little indication of its long length. The handling is very similar to a wagon with the Odyssey sitting low into the corners and only showing over-steering tendencies when pushed hard. The 5-speed auto transmission works itself well through the gears and a manual shift option is on hand for drivers wanting to squeeze a little more out of it. The driving position itself takes some getting used to; with a lot of dashboard in front of the driver there is a feeling of distance from the motor and front wheels.

The ride is very comfortable and quiet. The benefits of the Odyssey’s low height are noticeable and potholes and dips in the road are eaten up easily. With safety features like ABS, emergency brake assistance and six airbags Ulysses himself would struggle to wreck the Odyssey.

The Odyssey is a master of disguise, in both its appearance and driving ability. It doesn’t feel big when driven around town and on more challenging roads it never lumbers round like a blind Cyclops. Visually it’s far from dull both inside and out and it is very well equipped for its price.

If it’s Homer’s Odyssey or Honda’s Odyssey it’s still all about the voyage, but in Honda’s Odyssey you’re sure to have quick, comfortable and even stylish travels. The Odyssey does exactly what it says on the dust cover; it moves people, up to seven of them and it does this very well. So well that it is very difficult to match in its class. The Honda Odyssey, good name, great vehicle.

Click through to the next page to see specifications for the Honda Odyssey

Price: from $44,500

What we like:

  • Comfortable for all crew members
  • Well powered
  • Good style for its breed
  • Excellent turning circle for a long car

What we don’t like:

  • Unresponsive steering
  • Erratic parking sensors

Words Adam Mamo, photos Darren Cottingham

Honda Odyssey (2006) – Specifications

Engine

Engine Type: 16-valve PGM-Fi

Maximum Power – kW: 118 @ 5,500rpm

Maximum Torque – Nm: 218 @ 4,500rpm

Transmission Type: Automatic 5-speed transmission with SportShift, Grade Logic Control and Transmission Lock-Up Control

Steering – Gear Type: Speed sensitive power assisted rack and pinion steering with VGR

Suspension – Front/Rear Independent double wishbone with coil spring and front and rear stabiliser bars

Wheels

16″ Alloy wheels. 16×6.5JJ AL (VTIL and VTIL-S)

17″ Charcoal Alloy wheels. 17x7JJ AL (VTI-L X, VTI-LS X)

Tyres

215/55 R17 tyres (optional on VTIL-S)

215/60 R16 tyres (VTIL and VTIL-S)

215/55 R17 tyres (VTI-L X, VTI-LS X)

Braking System – Front

300 mm ventilated discs

Measurements

Exterior Length (mm): 4,780

Exterior Width (mm) / including door mirrors(mm): 1,800/2,068

Exterior Height (mm): 1,550

Interior Length (mm): 2,790

Interior Width (mm): 1,535

Interior Height (mm): 1,220

Wheelbase (mm): 2,830

Track – Front / Rear (mm): 1,560/1,560

Ground Clearance (mm) empty / laden: 119/110

Turning Circle(metres) / Radius (metres): 10.8/5.4

Boot capacity (VDA litres) rear seat up: 245L

Boot capacity (VDA litres) rear seat down – second and third rows / third rows. (Up to window line): 1056L/674L

Kerb weight (kg): 1670

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Blogs: Be generous – buy a motorbike

There are a great many advantages to owning a motorbike – you’re not at the mercy of traffic jams if you’re able to deftly weave in and out of gridlocked cars; you use less fuel; you don’t find it hard finding a parking space; and eventually you’ll likely make a very poorly person very happy due to your generous organ donation (assuming the crash isn’t that bad).

But the advantages don’t just lie with the owner of the bike, because for every bike on the road it’s one less car, and that means less congestion. For every bike on the road it’s less steel smelted and less shipping oil burned. That means bikers are not polluting the factory areas of China and Japan quite so much. Yay for the Yangtze Dolphin (if there are any left.)

And, if you’re really ‘cool’ you can buy a scooter. Scooter-folk are different to motorbike folk. Most people buy a scooter for the purpose of getting to and from a place they have to be, like work, or the mosque. Many people buy a motorbike for the purpose of riding with no purpose of place – just the sheer exhilaration of thumbing your nose at your maker.

If you’re particularly generous you could instigate ‘motorbike-pooling’ – not as catchy, it has to be said, as ‘car-pooling’, and it requires a passenger with the same fear of life. But, what’s the point in motorbike-pooling? People car pool to avoid traffic and save money on parking and petrol. Seeing as these are barely a concern with a motorbike, perhaps it’s ok to be a bit selfish sometimes!

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Blogs: The best rock band in the world never really sung about cars

Heaps of rock bands have sung about cars. Mostly it’s American nostalgia, and if your Daddy didn’t take your T-Bird away, or you ever managed to get your Chevy to the levy, you may have been able to tune into the radio and listen to The Who. I’m a bit of a Who fan – I’ve just bought VIP tickets to their March 09 concert in Auckland. As far as I’m aware, the only song really to feature a vehicle is Magic Bus (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).

Public transport is not quite as compelling as touring Route 66 in a muscle car, but England didn’t really do the ‘car culture’ thing like the US did. The Who certainly liked their cars – Keith Moon even parked a rather expensive one (a Cadillac) at the bottom of a Holiday Inn swimming pool. Moon also had a soft spot for Bentleys and Rolls-Royces. He owned a lilac Rolls, painted with house paint – making an upper-class icon a working class icon.

Car culture and rock ‘n’ roll have gone hand-in-hand, but it wasn’t necessary to propel the Who to become undoubtedly one of the most influential rock bands in the world.

Heaps of rock bands have sung about cars. Mostly it's American nostalg ...

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