News: NZ to see Cadillac CTS Coupe in 2009

Cadillac CTS Coupe fq

The Cadillac CTS Coupe will join the CTS sedan in the New Zealand Cadillac line-up in 2009. Premiering last week at the 2008 Australian International Motor Show, the concept version of the Cadillac CTS Coupe extends the design of its sedan predecessor to cast a striking road presence.

The CTS Coupe Concept, which was unveiled at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in January, has a classic 2+2 interior layout, highlighted by black leather and microfibre trim that is complemented by yellow ochre-coloured seat inserts and leather stitching.

It is designed to accommodate a range of engines, including Cadillac’s popular 3.6L Direct Injection V-6.

Highlighting all-new sculpted bodywork from the front fenders back, the CTS Coupe projects a unique profile unlike anything else on the road. Its fast-rake styling (it has the same wheelbase as the CTS, but an overall height that is approximately 51 mm lower and an overall length that is 51 mm shorter — blends sculpted bodywork that bulges around the wheels, giving the vehicle a ready-to-pounce stance.

As is the case with its design, the CTS Coupe extends the capabilities of the sedan in terms of performance technology. The CTS Coupe ascertains the sedan’s 3.6L V-6 engine, including the 227 kW Direct Injection power plant but has also been designed to accommodate other engine variants. A six-speed manual transmission backs the engine, sending torque to an independently sprung rear axle.

Behind the chrome, split-spoke, aluminium alloy wheels is a set of high-performance brakes, featuring cross-drilled rotors. Six-piston callipers clamp down on the front rotors, while four-piston callipers grab the rear rotors.

The Cadillac CTS Coupe is expected to go on sale in New Zealand in late 2009 and pricing is yet to be determined.

Blogs: Celebrating six lanes

Growing up in England, I spent a bit of time on the UK’s largely excellent roading system. Well, it’s excellent at 3am when there’s no one else on it, but it can be slower than a village idiot in a math’s quiz during rush hour, an accident or when the ubiquitous roadworks are in full swing.

Seeing as the car is now well and truly over a hundred years old you might have expected motorways to have been around for the majority of that, but that’s not the case.

December 5, 2008 is the 50th Anniversary of the opening of Britain’s first motorway, the Preston By-Pass, now part of the M6 in Lancashire. Championed by the then Transport Minister, Harold Watkinson, and opened by the Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan, this new-style road marked the start of a new era of safer, more reliable road travel for people and goods – an event as significant in the UK’s economic history as the invention of canals, steam power, railways and the internal combustion engine itself.

The opening of the Preston By-Pass on 5th December 1958 was followed by a large section of the southern M1 in November 1959 giving reality to our new motorway era. Guided by early experience in Europe and America, British engineers in the 1950s refined and improved design standards to better fit British needs and perfect what are now Britain’s safest roads, carrying 20% of all traffic including 42% of heavy goods traffic.

Because roading bureaucrats lead a fairly boring and thankless life, any excuse for a knees-up is welcome, so the 50th anniversary of the coming of the motorway era will be celebrated with a series of events and activities, co-ordinated by a steering group of logistics and professional bodies. Sounds like a lot of slightly overweight people with one half of their shirts untucked talking passionately about how they manage their ‘flow’.

If you want to partake in a bit of tarmac partying, details of anniversary events and plans will be published on the 50th Anniversary Website -www.50yearsofmotorways.org. This site will advertise events as they are finalised, and provide a mine of information on the history of the system and prospects for its development.

News: Caterham RS Levante is a sell out

Caterham Levante fq

Despite a recent worldwide decline in car sales, all of the £115,000 ($323,000 NZ) Caterham-based Levante supercars scheduled for production have been sold.

Launched earlier this year, the Levante is the most powerful production Caterham ever, with only eight being hand-built by Hertfordshire-based RS Performance in association with Caterham Cars.

The Levante boasts RS Performance’s in-house designed supercharged 500+bhp 2.4 litre V8 engine, housed in a modified version of the lightweight Caterham SV chassis. With close to 1000bhp-per-tonne, the figure is nearly double that of the Bugatti Veyron.

With its modern and aggressive interpretation of the Seven’s classic looks, the Levante possesses a modern electronics package, including traction and launch control, to allow drivers to get the most from the incredible machine.

All new owners of Caterham RS models are required to attend a two-day advanced driving course on delivery of their machines.

Caterham sales & marketing director, Andy Noble, commented: ‘The fact that all eight Levantes have been sold so quickly comes as no surprise. Over the last 51 years, the Seven has created a demand for those searching for a pure driving form.

News: Skoda Superb arrives in New Zealand

Skoda Superb fq

The first of the all new Skoda Superb have reached New Zealand shores and will be in dealers across the country in the coming days.  The New Zealand Superb model range will consist of an all-diesel range with two versions — the 2.0 TDI 103 and the 2.0 TDI 125.

The new Superb sports a transversely mounted engine which creates more space inside the car. At the front greater space has been achieved by moving the gear position. The central tunnel has been designed in a much leaner form. And, in the rear, leg room has been increased by 19 millimetres.

The new Superb now has a tailgate with a patented TwinDoor variable boot opening. The driver can choose from opening just the boot lid for loading smaller items into the car or the entire tailgate with a press of a button.  An added bonus of TwinDoor is that for those in hot or cold climates, the cool or warm air is not lost from the cabin if only the boot lid portion is opened.  With rear seat backs in an upright position, the boot can accommodate 565 litres of luggage — more than 85 litres more than its predecessor. With rear seats folded, the volume increases to 1,670 litres.

The chassis of the new Superb uses Skoda’s modular strategy where modules from the existing Octavia (Golf) and Passat chassis have been combined. However, Skoda has taken these modules, and adapted them to give the car its own driving character.

Nine airbags are standard on the Superb – two front and two side airbags combined with front and rear head airbags provide protection whilst the driver knee airbag and side airbags in the rear further improve the effectiveness of the restraint systems. Pyrotechnical belt tensioners and belt force limiters also help reduce impact in a collision.

A number of systems are in place to help prevent an accident. Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) is standard in both versions of the new Superb. The hill hold function on the 2.0 TDI 125 prevents the car from rolling backwards when the brake is released therefore helping with starts on hills.

The entry level diesel engine is the 2.0 TDI PD, producing 103 kW. Its peak torque is 320 Nm between 1,800 and 2,500 rpm, propelling the car from 0 to 100km/h in 10.2 seconds and reaching a top speed of 205 km/h. The combined fuel consumption figure of 6.8 litres per 100 km is very moderate and CO2 emissions equal 177 g/km. Comprehensive acoustic finishing touches reduce the noise level of the two pump-injector units.

The top of the range 2.0 TDI diesel engine works with common-rail direct injection achieving 125 kW, powering the car to a maximum torque of 350 Nm between 1,750 and 2,500 rpm. Consumption is 6.7 litres per 100 km in combined traffic conditions and CO2 emissions of 169 g/km. Top speed is 220 km/h with acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.0 seconds.

Both diesel engines come with an automatic six-speed DSG transmission as standard.  A diesel particle filter is supplied in both versions as standard.

Standard specification on the Superb 2.0 TDI 103 includes features that offer drivers and passengers a good level of safety (9 airbags, ESP, a vehicle immobiliser with alarm, fog lamps, automatic lights, multifunction steering wheel and Isofix fittings throughout); a high level of comfort (dual-zone climate air conditioning, auto dimming heated exterior door mirrors, maxi-dot information display and leather steering wheel); and convenience and good styling (16″ alloy wheels, cruise control, rear parking sensors, an 8-speaker CD stereo with input for an iPod and many different storage features).

The Superb 2.0 TDI 125 offers further equpiment that includes (amongst other items): Bi-Xenon lights with AFS, full leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, electric front comfort seats, 17″ alloy wheels, parking sensors in the front, tyre pressure monitoring, integrated 6-CD touch screen stereo with 10 speakers and front fog lamps with corner function.

The 2.0 TDI 125 is being distributed to dealers throughout October, whilst the 2.0 TDI 103 is expected to arrive in New Zealand in January of next year.

The confirmed pricing for the new Superb is:

Superb 2.0 TDI 103    $51,990
Superb 2.0 TDI 125    $59,990

News: Mazda’s hydrogen powered rotary goes to Norway

Mazda RX7 Hydrogen fq

Mazda Motor Corporation announced today that is has introduced the Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE (Rotary Engine) vehicle to Norway’s public roads in collaboration with the Hydrogen Road of Norway, (HyNor) project. This marks the first time that a Mazda hydrogen rotary vehicle has been put into regular use on public roads outside Japan.

HyNor is a national project in Norway that aims to establish a clean energy transport system based on hydrogen fuel. Beginning in the fiscal year 2009, Mazda will provide approximately 30 RX-8 Hydrogen RE vehicles for the HyNor project under commercial lease contracts.

The RX-8 Hydrogen RE validation vehicle is being delivered in advance so that Mazda and HyNor can jointly assess its driving performance in Norway. It will also be exhibited at environmental and other events for potential customers who are interested in leasing a hydrogen vehicle.

“Up to now, real world use of Mazda’s hydrogen rotary vehicles has been limited to Japan.  Participation in the HyNor project marks our advancement to the next stage,” says Akihiro Kashiwagi, Mazda Program Manager in charge of hydrogen RE development. “After we validate the first vehicle on Norwegian roads, we intend to deliver 30 more units under commercial lease contracts.”

HyNor is a unique Norwegian initiative to demonstrate the implementation of a hydrogen energy infrastructure along a 580 km route from Oslo to Stavanger in Norway. Hydrogen filling stations are being established along this transport corridor to enable refuelling of hydrogen vehicles. The project aims to revolutionize transportation in Norway by encompassing buses, taxis and private cars, and varying types of transport systems, including urban, inter-city, regional and even long-distance transport.

News: Hyundai Genesis Coupe performance figures released

Hyundai Genesis Coupe fq

The Genesis Coupe has been launched in South Korea this week, and Hyundai have released performance numbers for the well anticipated RWD coupe, and it also included information for the turbocharged 2.0L base model variant. Hyundai is claiming a sprint to 100kmh takes just 6.3 seconds for the top model V6 Coupe.

In the Korean domestic market, the turbo-charged 2.0L base model will achieve 223 hp and 220 lb-ft with premium fuel, and 210 hp with regular. The turbocharged nature of the 2.0L means peak torque is hit at a low 2,000 RPM. Hyundai claims the base Coupe’s 0-100 time is a rather leisurely 8.3 seconds, but there will be enthusiasts that will make some mods to greatly boost those numbers.

Korean market pricing starts at 23,200,000 Korean won for the base model and 33,920,000 won for the top of the line V6 model. That’s $30,200 and $44,200 NZ dollars, but Hyundai have made no announcement yet on pricing and if the Genesis will be coming to NZ.

News: Roock RST 600 LM: we like.

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The Roock RST 600 LM was built to commemorate the Roock Racing victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Roock’s extensive tuning program for the 997 Turbo RST 600 LM includes modified twin-turbochargers, titanium exhaust, proprietary fuel maps and engine management software. These exclusive upgrades allow the Roock RST 600 LM to produce a mindblowing 602 horsepower and a maximum torque of 611 lb-ft (827Nm), while maintaining daily drivability. Roock’s RST 600 LM charges from 0-60 in 3.1 seconds, topping out at 212 mph (341kph).

That’s just the beginning of the story. ROOCK has also added a carbon racing clutch for precise shifting and a tuned suspension that is fully adjustable in jounce and rebound. To ensure ultimate stopping power, ROOCK has equipped the RST 600 LM with new cross drilled and vented 380mm rotors, carbon swivel brake lines and 8-pot calipers. The revolutionary new 4-pad design improves brake “bite” while increasing brake control.

The interior is specially equipped with custom designed carbon fiber trim to order. The silver accented center console is modified to include an oil and temperature gauge and an exclusive push start button. Exclusive Roock-designed 4-point harness seats are adjustable with side support to further enchance the daily drivability, while keeping you legal on the track.

Elegantly designed body styling parts have been added to the exterior that include the original Roock front splitter, rear diffuser and Roock Le Mans rear spoiler. The RST 600 LM is fitted with new Roock F1 Ultra super-light aluminum racing wheels with custom Roock signature carbon fiber center caps, and high performance tires.

Roock AutoSport, based in Atlanta, GA, is the only German-owned Porsche tuner with a U.S. headquarters. Roock offers unique, high quality products and performance systems for the Porsche Boxster, Cayman, Cayenne, all 911 models, Carrera GT, and is currently developing a Roock  version of the soon-to-be-released Porsche Panamera.

News: UK motorists allowed to drive on the motorway hard shoulder

Motorists will benefit from faster journeys when hard shoulder running is in operation on the M42 near Birmingham with the speed limit being raised to 60mph (96.5kph) following a successful test.

The increased speed limit, which will take full effect from tomorrow (16 October), will apply to the whole Active Traffic Management stretch between junctions 3A and 7 of the M42 to the south east of Birmingham, with electronic overhead signs clearly displaying the speed limit. Drivers may see sign changes as the new limits are introduced today.

The Highways Agency undertook a test earlier in the year which found that increasing the speed from 50mph to 60mph improved journey times by up to 8% with no discernible impact on safety.

Roads Minister Andrew Adonis said:

“Hard shoulder running has proven to be a great success in cutting congestion and we have already announced our plans to look at similar schemes on other motorways across England.

“We don’t want to slow drivers down unnecessarily so, after closely monitoring the test to make sure safety was not compromised, we are from tomorrow increasing the speed limit while the hard shoulder is in use to 60mph. This will maximise the benefits of this innovative scheme and further improve journey times for motorists.”

Highways Agency Director of Traffic Operations, Derek Turner said:

The Active Traffic Management scheme, which allows road users to drive on the hard shoulder during busy periods, has shown significant benefits for motorists, the environment and the economy. Use of the hard shoulder in peak periods saw average journeys fall by more than a quarter on the northbound carriageway and drivers’ ability to predict their weekday journey times improved by 27%.

Alongside these results, fuel consumption reduced by 4% and vehicle emissions fell by up to 10%. Importantly, road safety was not compromised, with the personal injury accident rate falling from an average 5.1 per month to 1.8 per month on this section of the M42.

Work has recently started to extend Active Traffic Management on to other motorways around Birmingham. Two new stretches of hard shoulder running will be added on the M6, with variable speed limits to be used on parts of the M42 and M40.

Sounds like common sense to us, but do you think it will come to New Zealand in the near future? No, we don’t either.