Blogs: Hybrids are everywhere

It seems like everything with an engine has been made hybrid. Even the humble lawnmower has become a hybrid (and this one is a hybrid, plus being radio-controlled.)

Volvo has just released a hybrid front loader (think enormous digger) which saves 10% fuel over a conventional diesel one. There are even electric dragsters like this motorbike:

News: 9ff has big plans for Porsche Panamera

9ff Panamera s

Not being content with simply turning a regular Porshce 911 GTS into a 400kph capable monster, performance tuning company 9ff are set to try their hand with the new Panamera.

9ff tune all types of Porsches. and they are particulary excited about the new Panamera despite it not even being released yet.  There are no real details or photos but early images show how the modified sedan may look. The new car will be a stong performer without doubt, but 9ff have marked their intentions to push it out far further.  If enough early orders come in 9ff will have set themselves up to develop perhaps the quickest, most dastardly family car ever.

Pre order your 9ff Panamera now at www.9ff.de

News: 9ff has big plans for Porsche Panamera

9ff Panamera s

Not being content with simply turning a regular Porshce 911 GTS into a 400kph capable monster, performance tuning company 9ff are set to try their hand with the new Panamera.

9ff tune all types of Porsches. and they are particulary excited about the new Panamera despite it not even being released yet.  There are no real details or photos but early images show how the modified sedan may look. The new car will be a stong performer without doubt, but 9ff have marked their intentions to push it out far further.  If enough early orders come in 9ff will have set themselves up to develop perhaps the quickest, most dastardly family car ever.

Pre order your 9ff Panamera now at www.9ff.de

News: Falcon set to become less Australian

Ford Falcon XR8 FG fq

The iconic Falcon is set to lose its national identity as Ford look toward a more international stance for their vehicle range.

Ford’s vice president of product development Derrick Kuzak admitted recently to Drive that the next-generation Falcon will likely share components (and possibly design elements) with other Ford vehicles, such as the American Taurus and the entire vehicle could be lended to other models under the Ford umbrella.

“When we work globally and we look at vehicles that are similar in terms of the market segments and the customers we’re trying to serve, you’re absolutely correct that large sedans and large utilities like Falcon and Territory have similar needs and customers to vehicles like Flex and Taurus in North America,” says Kuzak “So when we look to the future that’s exactly what we’re doing — [trying to work out] how do we serve both markets and both sets of vehicles in one way.”

The Falcon has become an Australian icon, with the model being unique to Australia, with the exception of some low-volume export markets including New Zealand). But Ford is now pushing toward globalisation and a “One Ford” world, where complete cars and all components can be shared accross models and countries to reduce research and development costs, and cater to different economies.

Further changes may be iminent for the Falcon with Ford’s global president Alan Mulally saying recently that a decision had not been made on whether the Falcon would switch to a front-wheel drive layout which has advantages with reducing weight and allowing for more interior space — or continue with rear-wheel drive.

We have reviewed the Falcon XR8, G6 and FPV variants. Check the related items below.

News: Bentley Arnage says farewell with final series

bentley-arnage-fq

Since its debut in 1998 the Arnage has been the four-door flagship of the Bentley range. Over the last decade the car has undergone a process of constant refinement to its body, design, chassis and powertrain to maintain its strong position in the high luxury market.

To celebrate 10 years of the Arnage, 50 years of its V8 engine and 90 years of the marque, Bentley Motors launched its limited edition model at the Paris Motor Show this week.

Called the Bentley Arnage Final Series, the new model features a revised specification, combining the performance of the 500 bhp Arnage T with the refinement of the Arnage R and design elements from the Brooklands coupe, for a traditional expression of British luxury and power in a four-door saloon — a true grand finale.

Hand crafted at Bentley’s Crewe facility, the Final Series is an exclusive run of 150 cars, a unique example of the marque’s flagship created to bid ‘farewell’ to the Arnage line in the most appropriate manner and style. Bentley Chairman and Chief Executive, Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen says,”For 10 years, Arnage has enjoyed success at the pinnacle of the luxury saloon market. The Final Series is a celebration of the Arnage era as Bentley prepares for the next generation of its flagship model.”

The Final Series will retain Arnage T powertrain with 6 ¾ litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, producing 500 bhp and 1000 Nm of torque. This will be matched up to a Six-speed ZF automatic transmission. Luxury additions include a retractable ‘flying B’ bonnet mascot, four bentley umbrellas, and a rear cocktail cabinet with stainless steel flask and shot glasses.

News: New Kia Sportage goes on sale

kia-sportage-fq

Kia is injecting more competition into the crossover market with the release of a new entry-level 2.0-litre petrol Sportage that has just gone on sale in New Zealand for $30,990.

The Kia Sportage 2.0 Urban comes with an automatic transmission and front-wheel-drive only, aimed at city drivers who want a roomy wagon, but don’t require the extra traction of a 4×4.

“We’ve called it the Urban, because that is where this particular Sportage is destined to spend its life, on city or town roads and the highway,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager for Kia Motors New Zealand. “The Urban has been introduced in response to demand from people who require space, functionality and ease of access, but don’t need off-road capability. “Typically, these buyers are young urban-dwelling families, business people and also older buyers looking for a wagon that has the benefits of an SUV — higher seating position, a practical interior at an affordable price.”

The Sportage Urban includes features such as climate air conditioning, leather steering wheel and gear knob, burglar alarm, trip computer and Electronic Stability Control (including ABS brakes and traction control). The package also includes power windows and mirrors, 16″ alloy wheels , a CD stereo system with MP3 compatibility, front and rear fog lights, Tiptronic-style auto transmission and 6 airbags (front, side and curtain).

The Sportage Urban is powered by Kia’s 16-valve DOHC, CVVT, 2.0-litre petrol engine, delivering 104kW of peak power @6000rpm and 184kW of torque @4500rpm, and a combined fuel consumption of 9.2L/100km (compared to 9.9L/100km for the 4×4 Sportage auto).

The new Urban spearheads the introduction of the facelifted Sportage range, with the remainder of these models to be introduced later.

The two diesel Sportage models – a 6-speed manual 4×4 and sportshift auto 4×2 —will land later and have some detailed changes to the common rail diesel engine, such as an upgraded variable geometry turbocharger that lifts the power output 27% to 104Kw @ 4000rpm and boosts torque by 25% to 305Nm @ 1800-to-2500rpm.

Other improvements include an upgraded diesel particulate filter that delivers even clear exhaust emissions.

The four-wheel-drive system on all 4×4 models continues unchanged, efficiently and effectively delivering torque to the rear wheels when the system detects slippage in the front wheels for improved driving on adverse road surfaces. Additionally, both axles can be locked to provide greater traction when conditions become more slippery — ideal for driving snow covered ski field roads.

Blogs: It’s a van that saves lives and the environment!!

Apparently Mercedes is going to release a van that’s not only going to cure cancer, but will clean up the world’s waterways and stop the felling of the Amazon.

OK, I’ve read into the ‘saves lives and the environment’ tagline a bit too deeply, perhaps. Being understandably cagey about the whole launch, Mercedes’ PR firm wasn’t letting on anything other than it would move people. Did they mean ‘move’ as in ‘emotionally’? Who knows? I’ve never been to a van launch before, so I’m hoping in this case that ‘van’ is a euphemism for G55 AMG…ok, that probably won’t save the environment with a 507hp V8.

More news on 14 October when we’ve been to the event

Mercedes-Benz: Mercedes-Benz CLC 200 Kompressor 2008 Review

mercedes-benz-clc-200-kompressor-fq

The road to Port Waikato is a special mix of long straights, smooth sweeping bends, and tight blind corners that are perfect to test what a car is really like. Especially a sporty coupe like the CLC 200. To get there you have to travel forty-five minutes south of Auckland.

A quick stop by the cheese shop at Mercer gave me the opportunity to try some cheese that had aged nicely. And that’s really what this Mercedes has done. It’s based on a platform that’s at least seven years old, but fortunately that platform was fairly sound to begin with. Add to it some updated electronic trickery, a new engine range, a revised interior (but not the latest C-Class one) and the latest C-Class styling with its harder edges and you get the entry point to the Mercedes-Benz rear-wheel drive experience.

I’m not going to try to decipher Mercedes’ extensive selection of brand monikers, but just when you thought they’d exhausted every combination of letters, what was the outgoing C-Class Sports Coupe has now become the CLC.  At a shade under sixty-grand with the Evolution kit as standard ($10,000 cheaper than the outgoing model) you can join 320,000 other owners worldwide who have plumped for the sporting pretensions in its previous guise as the Sports Coupe.

Our 200 Kompressor test car develops 135kW, up 15kW from the previous model, and consumes 8.4l/100km, down 0.6l. It sports a 1.8-litre supercharged engine (not a 2-litre as you’d expect from the model name), and will do the dash to a hundred in a respectable 8.6 seconds (though it feels slower because of a less than sprightly take-off while the supercharger gets going.)

Any modern sports car must feature a manual mode, and the CLC 200 does, with paddles on the steering wheel for the five-speed auto, or the ability to flick the gear lever left and right. There is a sport mode as well which changes down earlier and up later.

The biggest change in driving dynamics, though, comes with the new direct steer system. It is based on speed-sensitive powering steering, giving a variable rack ratio which changes with steering angle. The system minimises the requirements for huge steering inputs, and can make the car’s reaction time quicker in the case of taking evasive action.

The interior environment includes two-tone leather fully electric front seats, functional rear seats (often not the case in a coupe), and a smattering of alloy inserts on the dashboard.

Mercedes’ intuitive speed limiter/cruise control is included, but as always, the stalk is where the indicator should be, and the indicator stalk is too low.

Manoeuvring is made very easy with the Star Trek-esque proximity sensor Parktronic readouts on the dash and in front of the rear window, representing the front and rear of the car respectively.

Dual climate control is standard, as is a reasonably comprehensive trip computer and crisp 6-disc audio system.

Thrown in to the safety list are the usual ABS/EBD combination, traction control and ESP, and acres of airbags.

We’ve tested several cars in the C-Class range, including the excellent C220 CDI, which is undoubtedly a class above the CLC 200, but is also $13,000 more. But, there is a C200K, which at $69,900 ($10,000 more) could represent a step in the right direction as you’ll be getting all the best from the excellent C-Class range.

Don’t get me wrong — the CLC 200 is quite a good car. It has solid underpinnings and if all you are going to do is gentle driving around the city or on the highway, you won’t be disappointed with its road manners, comfort and interior appointments. Push it on the tight and twisty stuff, though, and you’ll wish you had a proper C-Class with its much more composed ride and involved drive.

Click through to the next page to read the full specifications of the Mercedes-Benz CLC 200K.

Price: from $59,900 (based); $64,100 as tested with panoramic sunroof

What we like

  • Much better quality interior than the previous model
  • Optional sunroof is worth it
  • Comfortable drive
  • Realistic price

What we don’t like

  • Rear visibility
  • Lethargic on take-off

Technical Data: Mercedes-Benz CLC 200 KOMPRESSOR

Engine

No. of cylinders/arrangement 4/in-line, 4 valves per cylinder
Displacement cc 1796
Bore x stroke mm 82.0 x 85.0
Rated output kW 135 at 5500 rpm
Rated torque Nm 250 at 2800-5000 rpm
Compression ratio 8.5 : 1
Mixture formation Microprocessor-controlled petrol injection with hot film air mass measurement (HFM), compressor supercharging

Power transfer

Transmission Five-speed automatic transmission
Ratios Final drive

1st gear

2nd gear

3rd gear

4th gear

5th gear

Reverse

3.07

3.95

2.42

1.49

1.00

0.83

3.15

Chassis

Front axle Three-link suspension, McPherson system with coil springs and gas-filled shock absorbers, stabiliser, anti-dive
Rear axle Multi-link independent suspension, coil springs and gas-filled shock absorbers, stabiliser, anti-squat and anti-dive
Braking system Hydraulic dual-circuit brakes with brake booster, stepped master brake cylinder, internally ventilated disc brakes at the front, solid at the rear, drum-type parking brake at the rear, ABS, Brake Assist, ESP®
Steering Rack-and-pinion power steering
Wheels 7.5 J x 17 (front), 8.5 J x 17 (rear)
Tyres 225/45 R 17 (front), 245/40 R 17 (rear)

Dimensions and weights

Wheelbase mm 2715
Track width, front/rear mm 1505/1476
Overall length mm 4452
Overall width mm 1728
Overall height mm 1405
Turning circle m 10.77
Boot capacity* l 310 — 1100
Kerb weight acc. to EC kg 1480
Payload kg 470
Perm. Gross vehicle weight kg 1950
Tank capacity/reserve l 62/8

Performance and fuel consumption

Acceleration 0-100 km/h s 8.6
Max. speed** km/h 210
Fuel consumption comb. (acc. to ADR 81/01) l/100 km 8.4
CO2 output g/km 195

*acc. to VDA measuring method

** electronically limited

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

echnical Data: Mercedes-Benz CLC 200 KOMPRESSOR

Engine

No. of cylinders/arrangement 4/in-line, 4 valves per cylinder
Displacement cc 1796
Bore x stroke mm 82.0 x 85.0
Rated output kW 135 at 5500 rpm
Rated torque Nm 250 at 2800-5000 rpm
Compression ratio 8.5 : 1
Mixture formation Microprocessor-controlled petrol injection with hot film air mass measurement (HFM), compressor supercharging

Power transfer

Transmission Five-speed automatic transmission
Ratios Final drive

1st gear

2nd gear

3rd gear

4th gear

5th gear

Reverse

3.07

3.95

2.42

1.49

1.00

0.83

3.15

Chassis

Front axle Three-link suspension, McPherson system with coil springs and gas-filled shock absorbers, stabiliser, anti-dive
Rear axle Multi-link independent suspension, coil springs and gas-filled shock absorbers, stabiliser, anti-squat and anti-dive
Braking system Hydraulic dual-circuit brakes with brake booster, stepped master brake cylinder, internally ventilated disc brakes at the front, solid at the rear, drum-type parking brake at the rear, ABS, Brake Assist, ESP®
Steering Rack-and-pinion power steering
Wheels 7.5 J x 17 (front), 8.5 J x 17 (rear)
Tyres 225/45 R 17 (front), 245/40 R 17 (rear)

Dimensions and weights

Wheelbase mm 2715
Track width, front/rear mm 1505/1476
Overall length mm 4452
Overall width mm 1728
Overall height mm 1405
Turning circle m 10.77
Boot capacity* l 310 — 1100
Kerb weight acc. to EC kg 1480
Payload kg 470
Perm. Gross vehicle weight kg 1950
Tank capacity/reserve l 62/8

Performance and fuel consumption

Acceleration 0-100 km/h s 8.6
Max. speed** km/h 210
Fuel consumption comb. (acc. to ADR 81/01) l/100 km 8.4
CO2 output g/km 195

*acc. to VDA measuring method

** electronically limited