News: Toyota to bring back the MR2?

Toyota mr2

Toyota recently announced it’s considering bringing the MR2 name back, but for a all new sporty hybrid model. Many die hard fans of the light-weight giant killer will be dissapointed who want to see the MR2 return in a revised form.

There is hope, though. Toyota Executive Vice President Masatami Takimoto said the car should cost around $28,000 USD and boast a 7.5-second 0-100kmh. Not an  exceptional time by anyone’s measure, but the vehicle should be a rear-driver with a modified Prius drivetrain. Wait and see.

Toyota recently announced it's considering bringing the MR2 name b ...

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News: Volvo to only make four-cylinder engines

Volvo

Carmakers are all get busy and downsizing engines and embracing efficient technologies, but one company is set to go further than just offering a few hybrid models in their lineup to please the greenies. Anonymous sources at Volvo have confirmed that in the near future, the Swedish carmaker will exclusively use four-cylinder engines – making Volvo the first to take this bold step.

This is as simple as it sounds; no more five, six or eight-cylinder engines at Volvo.  The mysterious company sources are claiming that their new four-cylinder models will be just as powerful as the older models with a greater number of cylinders. You know what that means… forced induction.

The move makes sense at this point in time, with future EU regulations bringing the allowable emissions levels down to averages of just 120g/km by 2015, and a long term goal of reaching 95g/km by 2020. Adapting early to these regulations will save Volvo time and money, and allow it to strengthen up other aspects of product development for the future.

Carmakers are all get busy and downsizing engines and embracing ef ...

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News: Ferrari records record profit for 2008

Ferrari records profit

Following a record first-quarter profit for Ferrari, the global economic slowdown and a tightening credit market threatened to ground what had looked like a promising year to a halt. There was talk of tough times at Ferrari. But Ferrari’s ledger book has stayed strong according to the company, with a 17.6% return on sales.

That signals a 1.6% upturn over 2007, an amazing result considering the industry’s turmoil. Ferrari credits its cost-cutting measures as much as its wide range of cars and relatively strong sales with the against-trend result. Research and development budgets increased over the year despite the economic downturn, rising to 18% of revenues.

Total revenues for 2008 totalled €1.921 billion, up 15.2% from 2007, largely due to sales of the 430 Scuderia and strong continued performance from the 612 Scaglietti and 599 GTB Fiorano. Total sales volume was 6,587 cars, up by 2% or 122 cars from 2007. North America was once again the largest market for the Prancing Horse, accounting for 1,700 cars of the total.

Following a record first-quarter profit for Ferrari, the global ec ...

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News: Spyker owner shot in assasination attempt

Spyker D12 fq

Reuters is reporting that Alexander Antonov owner of flamboyant Dutch supercar company Spyker, has been seriously wounded in an apparent assassination attempt while leaving his Moscow home. The Russian billionaire, who is also the chairman of the board of the Konvers Group (a banking concern), was shot along with a bodyguard.

According to Reuters, Antonov has survived the attack and his injuries have been identified as non life-threatening, although he remains in intensive care after being shot five times in the stomach and has lost a finger to another bullet. The security guard also wounded in the gangland style shooting took a bullet in the leg and is also in intensive care but is expected to survive.

Moscow police are now investigating the crime, although they have yet to make any arrests they apparently suspect that the shooting is related to Antonov’s business dealings.

Reuters is reporting that Alexander Antonov owner of flamboyant Du ...

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News: Rolls Royce may exhume Silver Ghost

Rolls Royce 200EX fq

Rolls-Royce continues to call its 200EX a concept, the vehicle that debuted at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month (read news item). In reality, the 200EX is a thinly disguised future production model that is rumoured to be possibly reviving the Silver Ghost nameplate from the early 1900s. According to European sources, the regal brand may be considering expanding the new downsized range with coupe and convertible versions that would all be based on the same architecture and platform that’s been borrowed from the latest BMW 7 Series.

This move would follow the same pattern that RR took with its larger Phantom range. Expectation is a production model based on the 200EX concept will be unveiled later this year at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Rolls-Royce continues to call its 200EX a concept, the vehicle tha ...

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Blogs: The most wins now takes the championship

Formula 1. In recent years its tedium has only been matched by its level of expenditure, but that might all change because consistent driving is not the name of the game anymore; winning at all costs is.

Of course, this also means that the title will be (at best) a 3-horse race, but at least we might see some proper racing and not just safe and tidy processions in order to preserve team points. The points system will be preserved to resolve a tie, but as long as one driver has more wins than any other at the end of the season, it’ll be a clear-cut decision.

I can’t help but think, though, that the FIA may be creating a problem for itself. Ever since Jackie Stewart first started his noble push for improved safety after his scary accident at Spa in 1966, the FIA has gradually made racing safer and safer. The unfortunate by-product of this (and aerodynamic advances) has been that racing drivers overtake less. I want to see cars which create huge slipstreams running on tyres that aren’t that grippy so that we have the level of overtaking that motorbike racing has.

Motorbike racing still has inherent danger because one crash and there’s no roll cage to protect the rider, and there’s overtaking all the time because of the different lines through the corner.

If F1 really wants to reinvent itself it needs to look to its past – not in terms of driver mortality, but in terms of creating the kinds of heroes that future generations aspire to. Heroes in those days weren’t in it for the money (because it wasn’t huge like it is today),  they were in it for the challenge and the love of it. Let’s bring back the heart and passion of motor racing.

Formula 1. In recent years its tedium has only been matched by its lev ...

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News: Audi RS3 could become a reality

Audi RS3

In a recent report, Michael Dick, a member of Audi’s board of management, said the company is considering the development of an Audi RS3 model based on the A3. With the recent anticipation and arrival of the Focus RS, it’s becoming far more plausible that Audi will create a direct competitor within its ranks.

The Audi RS3 might get the direct injection 2.5-litre turbo engine that currently powers the Audi TT-RS. With this engine, the Audi RS3 will deliver 340 hp and 450 Nm torque. Talking into account that the Audi RS3 will weigh around the same as the TT-RS, expect a 0 to 100 km/h acceleration time of around 4.6 seconds and a top speed of more than 250 km/h.

Audi plans to launch the next generation of the A3 around 2011, which means the Audi RS3 is a few years away, if it ever happens.

In a recent report, Michael Dick, a member of Audi's board of mana ...

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News: SsangYong to unveil C200 Eco crossover in Korea

ssangyong c200 fq

SsangYong first unveiled its C200 concept crossover at the Paris Motor Show last year, and it will now release a toned-down version that’s nearly production-ready at next month’s Seoul Motor Show. The Korean automaker has had major financial issues and was given up for dead by the motoring press, but is still fighting. Ssangyong says its new  C200 is similar in size to the Honda CRV and Toyota RAV4, a class of vehicle that’s growing very quickly in SsangYong’s home market.

The ItalDesign-penned CUV concept is powered by a new 175-horsepower, 2.0-liter diesel engine (torque figures have not yet been released), and four-wheel drive is expected to be available when the C200 reaches showrooms later this year.

SsangYong also expects to show off a new diesel-hybrid version of its Kyron SUV, which it says will result in at least 30% better fuel efficiency and at least 50% fewer emissions. Little is known about the powertrain, but SsangYong says the system will involve a direct-injection diesel engine along with a proprietary Torque Split Device that governs use of the electric motor, as well as the usual tricks like regenerative braking and start-stop technology.

Expect more Korean vehicles to be unveiled ahead of the Seoul Motor Show.

SsangYong first unveiled its C200 concept crossover at the Paris M ...

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