Blogs: Alternative fuel hoaxes surprisingly quiet

Oil’s done its stratospheric rise. Now it’s going to seep its way down to around $100 (and probably even $70, which is where the long term uptrend is). But that’s all conjecture and speculation – there’s nothing harder to predict than the future.

So, we should turn our attention to the complete lack of plausible hoaxes for alternative fuel. With oil being so expensive, where are the nutcases coming out of the woodwork with their spaghetti-powered tricycles? Looking into the pasta [sic] we see plenty of patently ludicrous ideas for powering cars – water being the main one, despite the fact that this will most likely violate at least one of the first or second laws of thermodynamics.

Where’s the new stuff? Where is the Russian who has created a nuclear-powered pickup truck? Where’s the hillbilly who claims aliens implanted renewable fuel secrets in his brain the last time he was ‘probed’? Where is the Swedish scientist who runs his Volvo on sweat collected from the saunas of his fair nation? Maybe they’re still out there, but with all the noise and publicity generated by the big car manufacturers and their own alternative fuel wars (hydrogen vs. hybrid vs. biodiesel vs. compressed air, etc), perhaps they’re drowned out. I certainly am not hearing about them! Send me your ideas.

News: Porsche 911 Targa hits the road


With the introduction of the new 911 Targa this autumn, Porsche is completing the fastest ever generation change in the 911 model series. Two new power units with Direct Fuel Injection (DFI) improve both the performance and economy of the car, the fast-shifting Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) – or double-clutch gearbox – replaces the optional Tiptronic S automatic transmission, and electronically-controlled Porsche Traction Management (PTM) takes the place of the former viscous-coupling all-wheel drive system.

The latest addition to the new generation 911 line-up comes as before in two variants; 911 Targa 4 and 911 Targa 4S. The Targa 4 version is powered by a 3.6-litre flat-six engine developing maximum output of 345 bhp (254 kW) and giving the car a top speed of 176 mph. The power unit featured in the Targa 4S displaces 3.8-litres, developing maximum output of 385 bhp (283 kW), and accelerates this outstanding sports car to a top speed of 185 mph.

The visual highlight of the 911 Targa remains the distinctive 1.54-square metre glass roof made up of two segments; the elegant sliding roof above the occupants and the versatile top-hinged tailgate. When opened completely, the roof slides beneath the tailgate within seven seconds to offer an open space above the passenger compartment of 0.45 square metres. The sliding roof comes as standard with a new electrically-controlled sun-blind, which offers increased shading than that fitted previously. When closed, this spans the entire area of the sliding roof, and can be opened and closed independently of the roof itself. The glass roof and the tailgate are manufactured from specially-treated glass designed to deflect the sun’s glare, thereby protecting the occupants even in bright sunshine from UV radiation and excessive heat.

As their designation implies, the 911 Targa 4 and Targa 4S remain exclusively available with four-wheel drive. For the new generation models, the all-wheel drive is now provided via electronically-controlled Porsche Traction Management (PTM), which replaces the viscous multiple-plate clutch arrangement fitted previously. The superior PTM system was first developed for the 911 Turbo and has been modified for the Targa models. The transmission delivers an even higher level of driving stability, traction and agility, further enhanced by the mechanical limited slip differential also now fitted as standard to the rear axle.

PTM feeds exactly the right amount of engine torque in each situation through an electronically-controlled multiple-plate clutch to the front wheels, supplementing the flow of power to the rear wheels. Combined with the highly dynamic PTM control system, this clutch precisely delivers a distribution of power and torque to the front and rear axles as road and driving conditions change. With the previous viscous clutch, up to 40 per cent of torque could be directed to the front axle. In contrast, the new electronically-controlled PTM system delivers an infinitely variable torque split, and is able to distribute up to 100 per cent of traction to the front or rear wheels.

PTM provides a faster and more precise transmission of power in all driving situations, and this offers not only excellent stability at high speeds, but also increases further the level of responsiveness of the car to the driver.

The 911 Targa 4 models share their all-new flat-six engines with Direct Fuel Injection (DFI) with the sister models in the next generation 911 line-up. With the launch of the new 911 Carrera model series, Porsche is introducing direct fuel injection in the company’s range of sports cars. The advantages are an increase in engine power by up to 8.5 per cent, a reduction in fuel consumption by 11.2 per cent, and a decrease in CO2 emissions by 13.6 per cent, depending on the respective model and its features. Specifically, output of the 3.6-litre power unit is up by 20bhp to 345 bhp (254 kW). The improvements on the 911 Targa 4S with its 3.8-litre power unit are equally significant, with maximum output up by 30bhp to 385 bhp (283 kW).

The driver benefits from a further advantage of direct injection every time he touches the throttle pedal: with fuel being injected fractions of a second prior to combustion, the engines respond more directly and spontaneously to even the slightest movement of the driver’s right foot. This is not only the case when accelerating, but also when lifting off the throttle, for engine speed drops more quickly and smoothly since there is no residual fuel left in the intake manifold which might otherwise prolong the combustion process.

Depending on engine load and speed, fuel is injected into the combustion chamber at a pressure of 120 bar. The big advantage is that unlike conventional intake manifold injection, direct fuel injection serves to form the fuel/air mixture directly in the combustion chamber. This better mixes the air and fuel in the cylinder, establishing an important prerequisite for clean and complete combustion. This ensures the ‘homogeneous’ operation of the power unit with a consistent balance of the fuel/air mixture in the combustion chamber at all times and under all running conditions. Such smooth operation guarantees optimum combustion and maintains low emissions, across a range of fuel qualities.

The new generation 911 Targa 4 and 4S are available for the first time with the new Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK), literally Porsche double-clutch gearbox. Offering no less than seven forward gears, the new gearbox combines the driving comfort of a torque converter-equipped automatic transmission with the dynamic manual gearshift functionality of a sequential racing gearbox. PDK also boasts an entirely automatic gearshift function, and replaces the Porsche Tiptronic S automatic transmission offered previously. Through its optimised and adaptive gearshift programmes, PDK further improves the acceleration of the 911 and reduces fuel consumption to an even lower level.

In principle, the PDK consists of a conventional manual gearbox and a hydraulic control system divided into two separate transmission units. Two wet clutches in radial arrangement, controlled hydraulically, and using oil for both cooling and lubrication, form the heart of the transmission. One clutch is for the first transmission unit with the uneven gear ratios (1,3,5,7) and reverse, and the other clutch is for the second transmission unit with the even gears (2,4,6). Via a number of pressure valves, the hydraulic control unit masterminds both the wet clutches and the shift cylinders activating the transmission ratio required.

The gearshift perceived by the driver comes not from the gears actually changing, but from the change of positive clutch engagement. In this case, the clutch on one transmission opens or disengages while the clutch on the other transmission closes or engages in a simultaneous process. The big advantage is an even faster gearshift than with a conventional manual gearbox or torque converter automatic transmission. The gears are already ‘in mesh’ when shifting and the power of the engine need not be interrupted in the process.

PDK also reduces to a minimum transmission power loss courtesy of the high standard of mechanical efficiency in the double-clutch, and this manifests itself in fuel economy improvements of approximately 13 per cent compared with a conventional Tiptronic S transmission. PDK also offers an advantage in terms of weight — despite two additional gears, it weighs 10kg less than Tiptronic S.

To use the various functions of the double-clutch transmission, the driver can either shift gears by means of sliding toggles on the spokes of the new steering wheel, or via the new gear selector lever. The driver can press forwards to shift the gears up, and press them from behind to shift downwards. Alternatively, pushing the gear selector lever forwards shifts up a gear, and pulling it back shifts down.

This PDK gearshift principle was first developed by Porsche for motor sport 25 years ago. Porsche works drivers benefiting from this technology were able to accelerate faster than their competitors and keep both hands on the steering wheel while changing gears, thus avoiding even the slightest distraction while shifting.

The seven-speed PDK shifts gears up to 60 per cent faster than a conventional automatic transmission, and naturally, gives the new 911 Targa models even better performance.

For example, with the manual six-speed gearbox, the 911 Targa 4 accelerates to 62mph (100km/h) in 5.2 secs and the even more powerful S-model completes the same exercise in 4.9 secs. The optional Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe shifts gears even faster to set an even higher standard, the 3.6-litre Targa 4 with PDK accelerating to 62mph in exactly 5.0 secs, the Targa 4S offering an even faster and more dynamic 4.7 secs.

And those in search of optimum driving dynamics have the option to combine PDK with Sport Chrono Package Plus, now featuring Launch Control.

News: Fiat Grande Punto Abarth now in the UK: 500 Abarth to come (+specs)


Fiat has relaunched the Abarth brand and has given the Grande Punto the Abarth treatment.

Grande Punto combines space, accommodation and flexibility with state-of-the-art technology and a rewarding driving experience which lends itself perfectly to Abarth engineering.

But that’s only the start: an Abarth version of Fiat’s new 500 supermini has just been launched in mainland Europe, and is scheduled for a UK introduction early next year.  And there are further exciting plans in the pipeline. Abarth’s fast-paced roll-out has initiated an expansion of its production capability in the division’s new home at the Mirafiori plant in Turin, Italy. These new premises group together Abarth’s manufacturing, motorsport, engineering, design and management departments.

Three versions of the Grande Punto Abarth will become available in the UK later this year: the 1.4 T-Jet priced from £13,500 on-the-road, and two further upgrade offers promising even more driver involvement. The first tuning kit, known as Assetto, is designed to enhance the chassis of the car, including the brakes and suspension. The kit includes ventilated and cross-drilled front brake discs, and cross-drilled rear discs, high performance (softer) front brake pads, special shorter (-15/20 mm) springs and 18-inch white painted alloy wheels fitted with 215/40 ZR18 Pirelli P Zero tyres.

The second option — known as the esseesse (SS) kit — primarily increases the power of the engine, and is only available in conjunction with the Assetto kit. It adds several components including a special air filter, a larger Garrett turbocharger, new injectors, larger diameter freeflow exhaust system, and a revised engine control unit with esseesse software. All of this boosts engine performance from 155 bhp to 180 bhp. Visually, the £3,500 esseesse kit includes unique logos for the tailgate, wing mirror covers and engine cover.

Compared with the standard Grande Punto, the Abarth’s track has been widened by 6 mm; it is equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels and the option of contrasting striping bearing the Abarth name along each side. The front bumper has been specially redesigned and houses the headlights set in a dark surround, while the larger air intakes, adapted to cater for the turbocharged engine’s cooling requirements, are enhanced with an exclusive Abarth design.

The sideskirts, wheel arch rims and black plastic underbody complete the fairing on the lower section, which is profiled to boost aerodynamic performance and extends as far as the tapered rear bumper. The Abarth badge is clearly visible, positioned in the centre of the front grille, the rear hatch, and on both flanks, at door handle height.

Inside, the Abarth touch is equally apparent. The charismatic Abarth scorpion badge is positioned on the passenger side of the dashboard, for example, while the ‘carbon effect’ central console is decorated with a textured cube motif. The car’s instrument panel has been given a sporty new design, and the same smart finish is used for both the steering wheel and gear stick — black leather with red stitching.

Driver and front passenger seats have also been designed to capture the style and driving experience of Abarth. Both have built-in head restraints, lumbar support and excellent lateral thigh support. On request, the seats and central dashboard section can be finished in full grain leather.

A comprehensive equipment package includes a host of safety and comfort-enhancing features. Safety features include window airbags, side airbags, height adjustable driver’s seat, Blue&Me hands-free communications system, foglights, rear head restraints, ABS and ESP. The importance of safety is also shown by the fact that ESP comes as standard and cannot be deactivated. Equipment designed to enhance comfort includes a radio/MP3 player, fully adjustable steering wheel, air conditioning, dark tinted windows, electric front windows, Dualdrive electric power steering and cruise control.

The launch of the Grande Punto Abarth is a tribute to an ‘army’ of small Fiats from the 1950s and 1960s, that were given a tough, dynamic and sporty edge by the ‘magic hands’ at Abarth. They were ‘scorpions’ with a real sting in the tail, igniting the passion of thousands of drivers with a taste for challenge, speed, and Italian flair. Today, the Grande Punto Abarth is the first of a series of road and competition cars aiming to bring back those former glory days of excitement, success and high performance.

The Grande Punto Abarth is fitted with a 1.4 turbo (T-Jet) petrol engine, delivering 155 bhp. Combining with a 6-speed manual gearbox, the engine gives the car a top speed of 129 mph, and a 0-62 mph acceleration time of just 8.2 seconds. The Grande Punto Abarth is not just a high performing small car — it is also safe, and respectful of the environment. Safe because the tuning is not limited to the engine and the aerodynamics: the car’s brakes and chassis set-up have also been upgraded and professionally engineered to cope with the improved performance.

Developed to combine the sporting performance and low NVH characteristics of a high-tech petrol engine with fuel economy comparable to a diesel unit, and CO2 emission levels which readily comply with increasingly stringent European regulation, the 1.4 litre T-Jet engine in the Grande Punto Abarth is already a well proven, durable and responsive engine.

Through cubic capacity downsizing allied to the adoption of a small turbocharger, this remarkably responsive 155 bhp 1.4 litre T-Jet engine delivers a performance equal to or better than a conventionally aspirated 2.0 litre engine with a reduction of between 10% and 20% in fuel consumption and emissions.

Employing state-of-the-art computer aided design and calculation systems to simulate unit stress under turbocharging, every aspect of this latest 1.4 litre powerplant has been re-evaluated. Three-dimensional computational fluid-dynamics studies of the entire thermodynamic cycle, injection phase and the engine cooling circuit, as well as thermo-mechanical analysis of cylinder head, block and piston stress, resulted in comprehensive redevelopment of the combustion system, intake and exhaust manifolds, camshaft profiles and phasing, intake system, engine coolant circulation and spark plugs.

Compared to the superseded 1.4 FIRE engine from where it traces its lineage, the Grande Punto Abarth’s 1.4 T-Jet engine features optimised intake port and manifold design; a revised injection system and a bespoke spark plug design to improve knock resistance and pre-ignition; a reduction in both inlet and exhaust valve lift time to optimise air mass flow; a reduction in compression ratio from 11:1 to 9.8:1; piston, connecting rod and crankshaft redesign; a new, reduced volume exhaust manifold for maximum exploitation of the exhaust pulse energy, and improved engine cooling efficiency through a revised coolant path and a redesigned water pump impeller.

Excellent combustion characteristics have allowed for the adoption of a notably small turbocharger. With a turbine diameter of only 33 mm, this highly compact and responsive unit is located directly above the exhaust manifold, with the attendant catalytic converter close-coupled to the turbine exit.

Via a ‘drive-by-wire’ throttle system, the 1.4 litre T-Jet engine provides outstanding low-end torque, almost entirely devoid of the lag in power delivery traditionally associated with turbocharger installations.

Via a Sport Boost button located in the centre console of the Grande Punto Abarth, the engine will deliver an impressive 169 lb ft of torque at 3000 rpm, (152lb ft in normal mode), endowing the vehicle with a 0-62 mph acceleration time of 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 129 mph. Notwithstanding such strong performance, this superbly responsive powerplant will nevertheless return over 40 mpg in the combined cycle and restrict CO2 emissions to just 162 g/km.

Additionally use of the Sport Boost function modifies the amount of steering effort required by the driver, so as to give a sportier feel.

Grande Punto Abarth is eco-friendly because, despite having far more horsepower than the model on which it is based, it complies with the same legislation on noise and emissions (Euro 4 approved engine). Developed by Abarth’s team of specialist designers and engineers, along with the technicians who produced the Fiat Grande Punto (one of Europe’s most successful cars), the Grande Punto Abarth is factory-built, and is subject to all the regulations and rigorous checks applied to standard models.

For top stopping power the car is equipped with disc brakes all round; the front brakes being ventilated and equipped with powerful Brembo fixed four-piston callipers.

The Grande Punto Abarth’s suspension is based on the tried and tested set-up of the Fiat Grande Punto, which means MacPherson struts and anti-roll bar at the front and torsion beam suspension at the rear, but it is significantly modified. The anti-roll bar has been thickened (diameter 19 mm), the front springs are 20 per cent stiffer, and the ride height is lowered by 10 mm. With this combination in place, the car provides impeccable road holding and enhanced driver involvement while maintaining a high standard of comfort.


The Assettoand esseesse kits, which are delivered to customers packed in original wooden crates — in keeping with Abarth tradition — may only be sold and installed by the official network of Abarth Assetto Corse tuners on a Grande Punto Abarth 1.4 Turbo T-Jet 155 bhp. This conversion must take place within one year or 20,000 km (12,000 miles) from its first registration. Conversions are covered by a two-year Abarth warranty from the installation date.

Fitted with the full esseesse kit, the Grande Punto Abarth has more than twice the power of the basic Fiat Grande Punto model (a statistic repeated throughout Abarth’s history: the Fiat 500 from 1958 had 13 bhp, while the Abarth-modified car boasted 26). With the full Abarth treatment and fitted with a 1.4-litre 16v turbo engine enhanced to 180 bhp (at 5750 rpm) and with a maximum torque of 272 Nm at 2750 rpm, (200 lb ft), the Grande Punto Abarth esseesse can achieve a maximum speed of 133 mph, accelerating from 0-62 mph in just 7.5 seconds. The modifications to the brakes and suspension contained within the kit mean the Grande Punto Abarth is more than capable of transmitting all this power to the road in a usable, safe and enjoyable manner.

The finishing touches to the kit include 18-inch alloy wheels and various mechanical modifications to alter the car’s dynamics, for example: the special set-up (both the front and rear suspension are lowered by a further 20 mm compared with the standard Grande Punto Abarth), and the enhanced braking system (the front discs are cross-drilled and fitted with softer, high-performance pads).

An integrated product, the esseesse kit is also safe, since the engine cannot be tuned unless the brakes are enhanced and the set-up is modified at the same time. All this will only be possible at Abarth tuning centres.

As a first step up from the standard Grande Punto Abarth, a handling (Assetto) kit is offered, which includes springs that lower the ride height by 15-20mm, special front brake pads, cross-drilled front disc brakes and alloy wheels with very low profile tyres. The full kit, comprising engine and chassis modifications (esseesse) includes: Garrett GT 1446 turbocharger which increases boost pressure from 1.3 to 1.5 bar, new water and oil pipes to the turbo, new exhaust manifold, heat shield, complete injector rail, MAP sensor, boost sensor, modified catalytic converter, larger diameter exhaust, new intercooler pipework, adapted radiator pipe, new water pump, wastegate valve, and new engine ECU.


The second car to receive Abarth’s exceptional engineering work is the iconic 500, which set the motoring world alight following its launch in July 2007. Faithful to the ‘small but wicked’ phrase coined for Abarth cars in the 1950s, the new 500 Abarth, which is making its mainland Europe debut this summer, is a small car with stunning performance. Powered by a similar 1.4-litre 16-valve Turbo petrol engine, it delivers a maximum 135 bhp at 5500 rpm and peak torque of 206 Nm (152 lb ft) at 3000 rpm in ‘Sport’ mode. In ‘Normal’ mode the maximum torque becomes 180 Nm (132 lb ft) at 2500 rpm.

The new 500 Abarth is rapid but also environmentally aware: just like the regular Fiat 500, it is built to Euro 5 standards well in advance of forthcoming legislation. The Abarth version also features the new TTC (Torque Transfer Control) feature which improves the transfer of drive torque to the wheels but, above all, ensures that the car behaves impeccably while cornering, making it even safer and more entertaining to drive when travelling at speed.

Like its Grande Punto stablemate, the 500 Abarth is no mere styling exercise. The assertive yet practical design is driven by the need to improve the 500 Abarth’s performance. Perhaps the best demonstration of this set-up is the particular care and attention that went into the aerodynamics and functionality of certain elements of the car. Compared with the basic car’s body, for example, the 500 Abarth has improved dynamic performance thanks to the extension of the roof with a large fin spoiler, and a ‘slide’ from the underbody to the air intakes, taking in a large section of the rear bumper. Two tailpipes are fitted on either side of this ‘slide’, placed symmetrically at the outlets to a single silencer positioned transversely. (They also have the Scorpion logo, just like they did in the 1960s.)

The front of the car also clearly demonstrates the 500 Abarth’s sporting credentials. There’s a triple air intake — the central one being larger than on the series model — and a much broader opening above the number plate. Additionally, two symmetrical ‘nostrils’ on each side of the bumper correspond exactly to the position of the two identical intercoolers, which can be seen through these apertures, guaranteeing optimum intake and airflow.

The nose, with its Abarth logo, has also been extended forwards to make space for the turbocharger, which gives the 500 Abarth a more pronounced, dramatic side profile, in keeping with the best Abarth tradition. On the old 850 TC and 1000 TC models, the external elements that made them so collectable were highly visible and recognisable as characteristics of the brand.

As with Grande Punto Abarth, the Abarth coat of arms appears on the flanks, pierced by a tricolour lightning bolt, just like on the Abarth 595 and 695 from the 1960s, symbolising the brand’s racing heritage. Sideskirts envelop the curves of the car, creating a more vertical profile and improving the Cd. Lastly, the 16-inch or 17-inch wheels come in a variety of different styles, including a multi-spoke and a holed version (a clear reference to certain stylistic features of forged wheels in the 1970s).

Inside, the 500 Abarth has a decidedly sporting feel, with special instrumentation and an analogue turbo pressure gauge. The main instrument panel has sporty graphics and includes a boost gauge/gearshift indicator, while the three-spoke steering wheel features special thumb-grips and is ‘flat’ at the base to make it easier to adjust. The distinctly ‘racing’ feel is also in evidence in the pedals, which are aluminium with rubber inserts, in the gear lever knob (upholstered in leather with a sporty, more ergonomic grip) and in the ‘unified’ seats with head restraints built into the seat backs. Lastly, the roof lining and side trims are black, giving the cabin an appropriately sporty look.


* 4 cylinders in line, 4 valves per cylinder, 1368 cc
* Power: 155 hp at 5500 rpm
* Max torque 206 Nm at 3000 rpm (230 Nm at 3000 rpm Sport Boost mode)
* Drive-by-wire throttle with no mechanical connection
* Garrett IHI RHF3-P10.5 fixed geometry turbocharger
* 6-speed gearbox
* Dual cable external gearbox drive
Suspension and steering
* MacPherson strut front and anti-roll bar
* Torsion beam suspension at the rear
* Lowered sports suspension
* Electric power steering with Sport Boost mode
* Fixed front calliper: Brembo M4x40, four piston
* Ventilated front brake disc ø 305 mm x 28 mm
* Rear calliper with piston ø 54 mm
* Rear brake disc ø 264 mm x 11 mm
* Deepened front and rear bumpers
Wheels & Tyres
* Aluminium alloy, 7″ x 17″
* Tyres: 215/45R17
CO2 emissions
* 162 g/km
Fuel consumption
* Urban consumption: 29.4 mpg
* Extra-urban consumption: 53.3 mpg
* Combined consumption: 40.9 mpg
* length 4041 mm
* width 1721 mm
* height 1490 mm
* 1185 kg
* Top speed 129 mph
* 0-62mph 8.2 secs


* Four cylinders in line, 4 valves per cylinder, 1368 cc
* Output: 180bhp at 5750 rpm
* Max torque 272 Nm at 2750 rpm
* Drive-by-wire throttle with no mechanical connection
* Garrett GT 1446 fixed displacement turbocharger
* 6-speed gearbox
* Dual cable external gearbox control
Suspension and steering
* MacPherson strut front and anti-roll bar
* Torsion beam suspension at the rear
* Lowered sports suspension
* Electric power steering with Sport Boost mode
* Fixed front callipers: Brembo M4x40, dual piston
* Ventilated front discs ø 305 mm x 28 mm
* Rear callipers with piston ø 54 mm
* Rear discs ø 264 mm x 11 mm
* Deep front and rear bumpers, spoiler, sideskirts
Wheels & Tyres
* Aluminium alloy, 7″ x 18″
* Tyres: 215/40 ZR18
* Top Speed 133 mph
* 0-62 mph 7.5 secs

500 ABARTH 1.4 16V TURBO T-JET (135 BHP)
* 4 cylinders in line, 4 valves per cylinder, 1368 cm3
* Power output:  135 bhp at 5500 rpm
* Peak torque: 206 Nm at 3000 rpm in Sport Boost mode
* Fixed geometry IHI RHF3-P turbocharger
* 5-speed gearbox C510
* Front: MacPherson strut and anti-roll bar
* Rear: Torsion beam with anti-roll bar
* Lowered sports suspension
* Dualdrive Electric power steering with SPORT mode
* ZPH 4.1.2 floating front calliper, ø 54mm piston
* Ventilated front brake discs, ø 284 x 22 mm
* CII 34 floating rear calliper, ø 34 mm piston
* Rear brake discs, ø 240 mm x 11 mm
Wheels & Tyres
* Standard: 6.5″x16″ aluminium wheels. Tyres: 195/45 R16″
* Option: 7″x17″ aluminium wheels. Tyres: 205/40 R17″
Ecology level
* Compliance with the Euro 5 CEE-F5 standard
CO2 emissions
* 155 g/km
Fuel consumption
* Urban consumption: 33.2 mpg
* Extra-urban consumption: 52.3 mpg
* Combined consumption: 43.4 mpg

* Top speed: 127 mph
* 0-62 mph: 7.9 secs

Passive Safety— as for Fiat 500
Active Safety— ABS, ASR, ESP etc
Standard Equipment — Grande Punto Abarth

* Radio/MP3 player
* Rear spoiler
* Sideskirts
* Window airbags
* Red Brembo brake callipers
* Side airbags
* 17-inch alloy wheels
* Height adjustable driver’s seat
* Fix&Go tyre repair kit
* Blue&Me
* Audio hi-fi system
* Remote central locking
* Adjustable steering wheel
* Air conditioning
* Electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors
* Dark tinted windows
* Foglights
* Leather steering wheel and gear knob
* Locking petrol cap
* ABS anti-lock braking
* Electric front windows
* Dualdrive electric power steering
* Rear head restraints
* Cruise control

Other standard features:

* Six-speed gearbox
* Body-coloured door handles
* Lowered suspension
* Chrome tailpipes
* Sports instruments
* Immobiliser
* Electric internal boot release
* Illuminated boot
* Trip computer
* Passenger airbag deactivation

News: Subaru Impreza WRX by Prodrive

Subaru Impreza Prodrive

Subaru has shown off some tasty UK only tweaked models of the new Impreza WRX at the recent British Motorshow.

All receive Prodrive engine upgrades plus comfort and styling tweaks, giving enthusiasts an unprecedented choice of sporty Subarus.

Still in concept stage is the 380 PS Impreza WRX STI 380S which could become available within the next six months pending positive customer response.

View the press release below.
Impreza WRX-S Offers More Power And Style
Based on the new Impreza WRX, the ‘S’ model offers £4,500 worth of extras for a £2,500 premium, costing £22,495 OTR.

Banbury-based Prodrive has re-programmed the 2.5 litre ‘boxer’ engine’s ECU (electronic control unit) and modified the exhaust system. This sees power leap from 230 PS at 5,200 rpm to 255 PS at 5,400 rpm while the torque improvement is even greater, growing from 236 lb.ft at 2,800 rpm to 287.6 at 3,000 rpm — a staggering 51 lb. ft more.

Maximum speed remains at 130 mph but the 0-60 mph time drops from 6.1 seconds to 5.5 seconds. Naturally, in-gear flexibility is greatly enhanced.

The new Impreza WRX-S also boasts 18×7.5 ins anthracite GT1 alloy wheels with 225/40 tyres, an STI front grille, STI front lip spoiler and STI rear wing and body-colour tailgate moulding.

Also standard is a MOMO ‘Air-Race’ gearknob while the colour choice is between San Remo Red, WR Blue Mica, Obsidian Black Pearl and Satin White Pearl.

Standard equipment on the Impreza 2.5 WRX-S includes front and rear spoilers, side skirts, a rear diffuser, leather-covered steering wheel, all-wheel drive, a rear limited-slip differential with Subaru Vehicle Dynamics Control, 10-speaker, six-disc radio/CD player and xenon headlamps.

Impreza WRX STI 330S Brings Back The Burble
The new Impreza WRX STI 330S also benefits from a Prodrive Performance pack with modified ECU and exhaust system — this time with paired twin 90 mm diameter stainless steel exhaust pipes to bring back the burble so loved by ‘scooby’ fans.

Power goes up to 330 PS at only 5,400 rpm compared to the 300.5 PS at 6,000 rpm of the standard model.

Torque is boosted from 300.2 lb ft at 4,000 rpm to 346.6 lb ft at a lower 3,400 rpm making for an even swifter, effortless driving experience.

Top speed is the same 155.3 mph but the 0-60 mph time drops from an already swift 4.8 seconds to only 4.4 seconds.

Expected to be priced at around £30,000 OTR, the new Impreza WRX STI 330S has an especially luxurious specification — even compared to the already well-equipped standard STI which costs £26,595 OTR.

Upgrades include leather-covered Recaro front seats, satellite navigation, Smart-entry and push-button start.

Visually, the new special-edition sports new five-spoke 18×8.5 ins alloy wheels wearing 245/40 R18 tyres. It will be available in the full range of STI colours.

Standard equipment on the Impreza WRX STI includes a six-speed gearbox, Si-Drive giving three different engine response modes, a Multi-mode Driver Control Centre Differential, Subaru Vehicle Dynamics Control and — of course — symmetrical all-wheel drive with front and rear limited-slip differentials.

Show-Stopping WRX STI 380S Concept
Sure to be a crowd-puller is Subaru’s range-topping special edition Impreza WRX STI 380S which previews at the London International Motor Show.

Dubbed a concept, the STI 380S could reach dealers within six months pending positive response. Its final specification will be finalised following customer input and will be hand-built to order.

The STI 380S will include a complete engine rebuild by Prodrive with many up-rated components to reliably achieve the target 380 PS.

Improvements over the standard Impreza WRX STI will include uprated suspension and exhaust system plus an enhanced body kit.

Other visual changes will be the option of either gold or silver-coloured 18×8.5 ins BBS alloy wheels with 245/40 tyres.

News: Fiat 500 vs. Audi Q7 in crash test (+video)


While small cars like the Fiat 500 and MINI are tempting many people away from bigger, thirstier machines, a fact that is often unconsidered is what happens when a small car collides with a much larger vehicle?

Germany’s biggest car club, ADAC carried out this crash test to see what would happen when the 5-star Euro NCAP Fiat hit an Audi Q7 SUV.

Whether this video is indicative of a real crash scenario or not is up for argument.

Blogs: Which Ford is better in a severe storm?

Saturday and Sunday saw some pretty extreme weather. Horizontal rain, huge swells in the harbour, a boat washed up against the Harbour Bridge, trees down and power out. The Metservice warned people to only venture out if they really had to. Excellent, that means the roads will be nice and clear, then! So, I tried the two Fords we’ve got in the Car and SUV garage to see which one had the best extreme weather stability.

First up was the Mondeo XR5. It’s the top of the range as far as Mondeos go, and it has a turbo. The turbo doesn’t give it anywhere near enough power to be satisfying, but it’s definitely quicker than a standard Mondeo.

I took a drive to Silverdale and back with the rain coming sideways. The Mondeo was solid as a rock, hardly affected at all by the blustery and inclement meteorology. The stereo even had enough grunt to rise above the pummeling rain.

Next up was the 1.6-litre Focus station wagon. A taller car, with narrower tyres, this could prove to be a challenge in a side wind! Again, I used the same route. All wasn’t quite so composed in the Focus. Where the Mondeo tracked in a straight line, the Focus was blown frequently off course, requiring constant steering input.

You may think that this means that I didn’t like the Focus. On the contrary – I like having to ‘drive’ a car. My only criticism of the Focus is that it’s so slow.

But ultimately the Mondeo (which is significantly more expensive than the Focus) wins out as the car of the two to have in a storm. It has seat warmers with 5 settings, a great sound system and keyless start/stop.

There’s another storm forecast for tomorrow. The Focus went back today, so all we’ve got left is the Mondeo and the Fiat 500…and unfortunately I’ve got the Fiat 500…

News: Renault to revive Alpine name with Nissan underneath

It has been rumoured that Renault could launch a great-grandson of the original hot French rally car, the Alpine A110, based on the forthcoming 370Z platform

The fact that the A110 had the engine mid-mounted and the 370Z (successor to the 350Z) has the engine in the nose is a convenient detail left out of the rumour circuit, but if the new Alpine continues the bloodline of the Alpine-Renault A110/GTA/Spider it can’t be a bad thing.

With Renault increasingly going for hot FWD hatches, like the Megane R26.R, it would be great to see some track-focused RWD cars.

News: Ronn Scorpion hydrogen-petrol sportscar. Supercar performance, supermini fuel consumption


Ronn Motors of Texas has released details on a planned hydrogen-petrol sportscar to be known as the Scorpion.

The Scorpion is set to use a 3.5 litre V6 VTEC from the Honda Accord in turbo guise to produce 450bhp.

Interestingly the Scorpion will feature an ‘on demand’ hydrogen system which draws hydrogen through the intake manifold at a mix of up to 40% with petrol to improve fuel consumption.
Ronn claims fuel economy could be as good as 5.9L/100km. Incredible for a 450bhp sportscar.