News: Audi RS6 sedan revealed

Audi RS6 Sedan 2009 fq

We’ve driven the station wagon RS6 (the Avant) – brutally quick, well-appointed, but lacking in soul. Here’s what the sedan will look like when it arrives possibly in 2009.

It will be officially unveiled next week at the Paris Motor Show. Until then you can read our road test of the RS6 station wagon here.

News: Higgins-Aube Energya

Higgins-Aube Energya fq

Higgins-Aube, a young Canadian company, has shown early images of its latest creation, the Energya (no, we don’t know how to pronounce it), a three-wheeled vehicle. The Energya is designed as a light, high performance vehicle. Similar to a sports car where the driver and the passenger are seated side-by-side, the Energya motomobile has a rear engine that drives the single wheel at the back, with the idea that it feels, drives and behaves mostly like an open wheel racecar.

Mechanically, the Energya motomobile will be powered by a motorcycle engine having a six-speed sequential manual transmission. It will feature an aluminum frame with inboard front suspension using superposed unequal A-arms. The dampers slightly protrude through the front cowling, both as a design statement and for cooling reasons.

Particular attention has been given to reduce the mass of the non-suspended components and to centralising most of the mass closer to the vehicle’s centre of gravity for enhancing dynamic performance. The cockpit is typical of a racecar with only the essential instruments for the road, and figure-hugging seats. Half-doors are provided to ease access to the cockpit while providing side-impact protection.

A three-wheeled vehicle is considered, in many jurisdictions as a motorcycle. Since the vehicle may do without many of the mandatory systems and components required on an automobile, the motomobile may consequently be made lighter, advantageously influencing its performances. As Higgins-Aube shares the philosophy of late Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus Cars, reducing weight was indeed the cornerstone that led to the choice of this type of vehicle. Furthermore, a three-wheel vehicle having two wheels at the front, contrarily to having a single wheel at the front, is dynamically stable.

Performance targets are set high: achieve 0-100km/h within 4 seconds and lateral acceleration in excess of 1 G . Expect an engine in the neighbourhood of 200 hp and an approximate vehicle weight of 350kg.

But you’re only looking at computer renders here: given appropriate financial backing, production units of the Energya motomobile could hit the market within 18 months, and it could be offered as an electric vehicle.

News: Honda develops an even safer airbag

Honda has developed an even safer airbag – the world’s first driver-side i-SRS airbag system – that continuously stages the volume of airbag-inflating gas, thereby combining enhanced occupant protection with reduced occupant impact. Honda plans to implement the new continuously staged inflation i-SRS airbag system on the driver’s side of the Life minicar to be released in Japan in November 2008.

A Honda innovation, the new i-SRS airbag system features a spiral-shaped seam structure and gas release control valve to control airbag deployment and pressure for faster deployment, reduced occupant impact and a longer period of inflation and occupant protection. As a result, the new system accommodates a broad range of occupant positions and potential collision situations.

Honda first began fundamental airbag research in 1971, and in 1987 became the first to introduce a driver-side SRS airbag system in an automobile manufactured in Japan. In 1990, Honda was the first automaker to introduce a passenger-side SRS airbag system in a vehicle manufactured in Japan. In 1998, Honda introduced the world’s first inflator with a two-stage deployment system, as well as an i-side airbag system with an occupant position detection sensor. Continuing its tradition of innovation, Honda continues to be a world leader in researching, developing and introducing new automobile safety technologies.

News: Audi Travolution project gets your car talking to traffic lights

Audi Travolution traffic management

Frustrating, fuel-sapping stops at red traffic lights could soon be the exception rather than the rule thanks to a new initiative being championed by Audi aimed at streamlining urban traffic flow and reducing CO2 emissions.

The experimental ‘Travolution’ system, developed with Audi support by traffic management experts in the brand’s German home town of Ingolstadt, will not only improve synchronisation and phasing of traffic light networks to reduce stopping times, but could also dramatically reduce the number of actual stops needed by creating a communications link between cars and the traffic light network.

Communications modules built into each traffic light are able to send messages to cars in the vicinity, alerting them to the time remaining until their next green phase. The car’s onboard system is then able to calculate the speed which the driver must maintain in order to pass through the light during this green phase, and displays this via the Multi Media Interface display.

A network of 46 of the ‘intelligent’ traffic lights has been installed in the centre of Ingolstadt, the software to which they are all linked optimising their phasing to bring stopping times down to a minimum, reducing fuel consumption and pollution in the process.

Of the 46 light gantries, three have been upgraded to enable communication with the specially modified A5 and A6 Avant models provided by Audi as part of the 1.2-million Euro pilot project. A further 20 cars and 50 light installations are to be incorporated as the project evolves.

Peugeot: Peugeot 308SW 2008 Review


More than once my Scandinavian heritage has let me down in the face of the harsh solar rays. It’s meant that my days driving convertibles have been limited to the winter months. But the Peugeot 308SW gives you the feeling of driving in a convertible without the hassles of bad hair, pollution-caked lungs or melanomas. How does it achieve such magic? With the aid of a full-length panoramic glass roof and retractable blind.

And that’s not the only sorcery this practical Peugeot conjures up. It’s one of the quietest diesels I’ve driven in a sub-$100,000 car. No clattery horridness, no tickety- tickety- tickety at the lights. Even the exhaust smells quite clean due to Peugeot’s use of a FAP (particulate filter).

A friend of a friend used to work for David Copperfield doing rigging and work on set for his magic shows. Copperfield is famous for making things disappear (like the Statue of Liberty), and the Peugeot is good at making the kilometres disappear quickly. Too quickly sometimes. The engine is smooth and torquey, and the gearing quite low, and I found on many occasions I’d be inadvertently doing almost 70kph in a 50kph zone (you didn’t hear that, officer). That has to be taken with the caveat that the previous week I’d had a Ford XR8 which has significantly more engine noise, and that I avoided using Peugeot’s very intuitive speed limiter (more about this later).

The two-litre HDi turbo diesel engine’s 340Nm of torque (in sport mode on overboost) and six-speed Tiptronic transmission give it an urge in excess of what you’d expect from just 100kW. But that’s likely what makes it so efficient, recording 7.1l/100km on the combined cycle — not bad for a car that weighs the best part of 1700kg. Peugeot’s environmental leanings also result in Euro 4 emissions compliance, and 99% of this car is recyclable.

There’s an optional third row of modular seats. All the second and third row seats can be removed completely from the car leaving a large cargo space. So, it’s a people mover and small van in one.

Two rear-seat passengers have the luxury of pop-up trays, and the seats in the back slide forwards and backwards and recline.

Seven airbags (driver, passenger, front-side, front to rear curtain and knee airbags), a five-star Euro NCAP rating, ABS, ESP and other electronic assistants will kick in if the brakes (which are very keen on our test model), don’t haul you up in time.

Peugeot’s driving position is much better of late. The seats are firm and supportive. Classic-style white-faced dials sit astride an orange LCD which gives trip computer and cruise control/speed limiter readouts. The cruise control/speed limiter is very intuitive, allowing the driver to set a specific speed quickly using a stubby wand on the steering column. The speed limiter is great for the motorway, but impractical around town where I found I really needed it to curb my inadvertent lead foot.

The front seats have storage bins underneath them, which goes a little way to making up for the small central binnacle and almost non-existent glovebox. Door pockets are big enough to take a 750ml bottle, and there are two cup holders centrally mounted in front of the gearstick. A few other small receptacles are dotted around, but the 308SW really needs some kind of bigger cubby hole to make it more practical for longer trips.

While the engine is quiet at idle, it certainly lets you know it’s there when you need it to perform, sounding a little harsh (as four-cylinder diesels often do) when under heavy load. You can drown that out with the six-speaker, MP3-compatible stereo. It’s not the best stereo in the world, but is perfectly adequate.

Considering the large glass roof, noise from the road and engine is very low at cruising speeds. With excellent visibility and the large amount of ambient light entering the cabin, the 308SW is magic in the late winter sunshine — a stylish, practical and economical family wagon with a few tricks up its sleeve.

Click through to the next page to read full specs on the Peugeot 308SW

Price: from $45,190 base model (our test car had the optional third row of seats)

What we like

  • Save on suntan lotion — it’s spacious and airy in the cabin, without being a convertible
  • Smooth, quiet and effortless cruising
  • Practical load space

What we don’t like

  • You might need that speed limiter until you get used to it
  • Styling at the rear doesn’t quite work for me
  • Other than the gigantic boot, interior storage options are scant

Peugeot 308SW Specifications


High-pressure Direct Injection turbo diesel, 16 valve

Cubic capacity (cc) 1997

Max Power kW @ rpm 100 kW @ 4000 rpm

Max Torque (Nm @ rpm) (overboost) 320 Nm (340) @ 2000 rpm


Alloy wheels 215/55R 16

Spare tyre full size


Ventilated front discs with sliding calipers 286 x 26mm

Rear solid discs 249 x 9mm


Front Inverted Pseudo McPherson strut with

linked anti-roll bar

Rear Rear torsion beam, two suspension arms

and an integral anti-roll bar


Length (mm) 4500

Width (mm) (excl wing mirrors) 1815

Height (mm) 1555


Kerb weight (kg) 1675

Braked trailer towing weight (kg) 1650

Unbraked trailer towing weight (kg) 750

Fuel tank (l) 60


Combined l/100km 7.1

Emission Control EURO 4

Emission of CO2 by weight 187g

European End-of-Life Vehicles Directive Recyclability 99%

Combined active carbon / pollen fi lter


Remote central locking

Rolling code transponder immobiliser

Visible VIN number

Security coded in-car entertainment

Auto lock doors/boot over 10km/h

Dark tinted tailgate screen


LCD display of digital odom & trip

Dial Background colour – White

Multi function display screen

Warning light display

On-board Computer

Distance to next service indicator


17″ alloy wheels

Electrochrome mirror/exterior folding mirrors


17″ alloy wheels

Factory leather seats


Interior chrome detailing

Electrochrome mirror/exterior folding mirrors




5 star Euro NCAP rating

7 airbags – driver, passenger, front side,

front to rear curtain, knee airbag

ABS (with EBFD & EBA)

ESP (with ASR, CDS-stability)

5 x 3-point seat belts with warning

Pre-Tensioning/force limiting front seatbelts

Force limiting outer rear seatbelts

Height adjustable front seatbelts

Isofi x on front passenger and rear outer seats

Electric rear child door locks

Fuel cut off inertia switch

Wrap around front/rear head restraints

Auto hazard warning lights

Collapsible steering column

Door/boot ajar warning


Cruise control with speed limiter

Rear park aid

Internal operated central door locking

One-touch front electric windows with anti pinch

Electrically operated and heated door mirrors

6 Speaker RD4 Radio / CD player

MP3 Compatible

Steering wheel remote controls

Digital Dual Climate Control airconditioning

Airfl ow vents to row 2

Leather steering wheel

Shopping bag hooks in boot and boot net

12 V plug row 1, 12 V plug boot

Storage drawers under front seats

Panoramic glass roof with electric blind

Front centre storage between seats – sliding

Satin chrome roof rails

60/40 split folding 3 x rear seats

Flip up tables on back of front seats

Toughened side windows

Sunglass holder above driver’s door

Lumbar adjust driver


High level third brake light

Accoustic laminated front windscreen

Auto headlamps

Front and rear fog lights, reverse lights

Rain sensative wipers with auto lights

Intermittent rear wash/wipe

Parking light function

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

News: Lorinser beefs up the Mercedes-Benz SL500

Mercedes-Benz SL500 Lorinser fq

SL originally stood for Sport Light. Cars have got heavier and heavier as manufacturers have improved both safety and the interior comfort. Lorinser, though, has attempted to take back the driving pleasure implied in the letters SL wth its SL500.

The front is shaped by a new spoiler bumper that is characterised by three giant openings with racing grill inserts as well as a blade shaped spoiler hung below in the middle. The integrated end-to-end lip flows seamlessly into the widely flared Lorinser fender. Its slanted, larger air inlets represent the aura of the original even more strongly than the already successful series version.

Additional distinctive elements of the side line are the new side skirts that are also characterised in the rear part by large air openings. In addition, its contours take in the swing of the doors and bring the SL optically nearer the ground in combination with Lorinser’s lowering.

Wide tyres and light-alloy RS 9 wheels provide a theme that is carried through to the rear of the car: while the Mercedes-Benz series model tends to appear rather simple here, the Lorinser spoiler bumper draws a great deal of power from its strong contours. The observer here not only immediately notices the diffuser inset with sporty grille, but also the sculpturally moulded semi-gondolas. They house the end tips of the exhaust system with their four openings.

Drivers that aren’t satisfied with potent series engines can soon look forward to an optimisation from Lorinser engineers.

News: MTM Audi R8R – supercharged R8

MTM Audi R8R fq

MTM versions of Audis products have been on the market for more than 20 years, and now it has launched what it possibly it’s most extreme Audi yet: the twin-screw supercharged Audi R8R. This gives 552hp from the 4.2-litre V8, pretty much matching the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 for grunt.

MTM R8R Technical Data:
V8 compressor, twin-screw supercharger, belt-driven
Capacity in ccm 4163 cm2

Bore and stroke in mm 84,5 x 92,8 mm
Compression ratio 12.5:1
Gearbox: 6-speed manual
Power (max.) 560 PS (412 kW) at 7,750 rpm
Supercharging pressure (max.) 0.55 bar at 7,750 rpm
Torque (max.) 580 Nm at 5,500 rpm
Vmax limited (unlimited) 301 km/h (315 km/h)
Acceleration 0 -100/200 km/h: 3.9 sec./12.5sec
All-wheel drive quattro
Brakes front 380 x 34 cross-drilled, ventilated, rear 356 x 32 perforated, ventilated
Rims front MYM Bimoto Forged 9 x 20″ ET 42, rear MTM bimoto Forged 11 x 20 ET 50

Tyres front Michelin Sport Cup 245/30-20″, rear Michelin Sport Cup 315/25-20″

News: Revamped Mazda RX-8 launched at Pukekohe

Mazda RX-8 launch 1

The new Mazda RX-8 sees better fuel economy, more power, new gearboxes (6-speed auto, or the 6-speed manual derived from the MX-5), and is a full $6,500 cheaper than the outgoing model.

Improvements to the chassis have given the RX-8 an excellent mix of track aggression and road manners as the 1300cc rotary howls away or purrs gently, depending on the angle of the throttle.

We’ll have a full review of the RX-8 in a few weeks when we’ve had a chance to drive it on the road.

In the interim, our sister publication NZ Performance Car features the RX-8 in its latest magazine, in the shops now.