News: Pagani releases details on Zonda R

Pagani Zonda R fq

The Pagani Zonda R has been unveiled and the company has released more technical information and details on the new version.

The Pagani Zonda R is powered by an AMG 6.0 litre V12 engine that outputs a massive 750 hp and 710 Nm of torque. with this engine the Pagani Zonda R manages a 0 to 100kph acceleration time of 2.7 seconds and an incredible top speed of 350 km/h. The Pagani Zonda R comes with rear wheel drive, a self-locking differential and a 6 speed sequential gearbox. To try and keep things safe in the beast, Pagani have given the Zonda R a Bosch Motorsport traction control system and ABS.

A total of 16 Zonda Rs are planned, with 15 being offered to the public (the ‘extra’ model will stay in company hands) at a tidy €1.4M.

The Pagani Zonda R has been unveiled and the company has released ...

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News: Mitsubishi create Colt TWR Walkinshaw Edition

Mitsubishi Colt TWR fq

Like many manufacturers Mitsubishi is pulling out of its motorsports campaigns, but this doesn’t mean the automaker is going to limit the development and sales of its performance models. The Lancer Evolution X FQ400 is due for release later this year and in addition to the Colt Ralliart Version R, Mitsubishi is planning another special version of the hot hatch.

The Colt Ralliart TWR Walkinshaw edition, which gets its name from touring car legend Tom Walkinshaw, will come equipped with a new suspension, lowered ride height and more aggressive body kit. The 147 hp, 1.5-litre engine will carry over, along with the close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox. Time will tell if the special Colt is going to come to NZ.

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News: Honda to unveil Accord Euro ‘Type-S’ at Geneva

Accord Euro type r fq

Honda has announced that in addition to the S2000 Ultimate Edition (read news item), it will unveil the new Accord Euro “Type-S” at next month’s Geneva Motor Show.

The upgraded Accord will be available in both sedan and wagon variants, powered by a 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel that puts out 180 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque — an upgrade of 30 hp and 22 lb-ft over the standard model. The output gains are thanks to a revised turbocharger and cylinder head design, along with a larger intercooler. The Type-S comes equipped with 18-inch wheels, special badging and clear indicator covers, along with two special colours: White Pearl and Basque Red. Sales will begin in Europe later this year.

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News: Nissan still tweaking GT-R’s launch control

Nissan GT-R f

The Internet has been rampant with speculation ever since it was revealed that Nissan had updated the software that governs the GT-R’s launch control. Nissan is busy instructing all of its dealers to reprogram every vehicle in dealer inventory that had yet to be sold with the new software in a bid to keep additional transmissions from self-destruction.

The changes limit the maximum RPM that the car will sustain with the VDC switched off to around 3,500, a big reduction from the 4,500 limit of the old programming. Additionally, the software update adds a new, safer form of launch control that allows takeoffs at 3,000 RPM while the VDC remains active. But everyone wants to know if the GT-R still goes hard?

During testing a totally stock GT-R with the reprogramming has been timed at 11.34 @ 120.85 MPH with an excellent 1.69-second 60² time. That result compares rather favorably with quarter-mile runs recorded by cars with the initial launch control programming.

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News: Aston Martin reveals V12 Vantage

Aston Martin V12 fq

The Aston Martin V12 Vantage has arrived and it’s evolving the styling and engineering exercise Aston unveiled in 2007 and set for a Geneva Motor Show debut. Early claims by Aston is that the V12 Vantage is the most driver-focused sports car the automaker has ever produced.

Power is thumped out by a 6.0-litre V12 making 510 hp and 420 lb.-ft. of torque. The Vantage’s grunt is sent through a carbon fibre driveshaft to a rear-mounted six-speed manual gearbox. The transmission benefits from an oil cooler and a new rear diffuser helps cool the LSDl. Aston claims a 0-100kph time of 4.1 seconds and top speed of 305kph.

Independent double wishbones are mounted front and back, while six-piston calipers work 398mm carbon ceramic disc brakes in front and four-piston units clamp down on 360 mm ceramic rotors in the rear. The front wheels measure 19×9-inches and the rears 19×11-inches, each wrapped in Pirelli P Zero Corsa rubber sized 255/35 and 295/30..

Inside, carbon fibre door pulls join a host of standard features, while lightweight, carbon-kevlar seats, personalised sill plates and a premium audio system are all options.

The V12 Vantage mill weighs almost 90kg more than the V8, but after the Aston got done tweaking the Vantage, the overall increase was a paltry 40kg. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but expect each of the 1,000 V12 Vantages Aston plans to produce to go for top dollar.

The Aston Martin V12 Vantage has arrived and it's evolving the sty ...

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News: Eight different drivers have been the ‘Stig’

There have been a whole slew of reports lately on the true identity of Top Gear’s ‘Stig’. Some ridiculous reports say he’s Lewis Hamilton, while others say he’s the late Graham Hill. We previously reported that he’s stunt driver and former racing journeyman Ben Collins. What’s known for sure is that the best part of keeping someone’s identity a secret by masking his face is that you can switch him around any nobody would really know.

The latest reports suggest that the Stig, in all his white suited glory, is an identity assumed by a variety of professional drivers. Although the Stig who drives the power laps around the Top Gear test track may be the same guy every episode, his duties may have been taken over by others at various points. When the Stig drove a Renault F1 car? That may have actually been Heikki Kovalainen, who spent two seasons at Renault before moving to McLaren. And again when the Stig rode a snowmobile off a ski jump it was actually Swedish snowmobile champion Dan Lang, according to reports.

All up some eight individuals have been identified as having donned the famous white suit for the cameras, including former GT driver Chris Goodwin and former Tyrell and Lotus F1 pilot Julian Bailey.

Who knows, perhaps our own Scott Dixon or Greg Murphy may have a chance at playing Stig for a special challenge.

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HSV (Holden Special Vehicles): HSV R8 Tourer 2008 Review

A few years ago it was my dream to run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Unfortunately, through circumstance and fear I never realised that dream, but I did attend a bullfight in Madrid. I remember being entranced (if not a little disturbed) by the deadly dance between matador and bull, and thinking that it was more than just a spectacle of danger and death it was an exercise in raw power and control. A bullfight isn’t something easily forgotten, but neither is it something I thought of much¦ until I jumped into the drivers seat of the HSV R8 Tourer.

The R8 Tourer runs at full strength with the Chevy LS3 engine, a 6.2-litre V8, producing a whopping 317kW and 550Nm of torque. At full throttle all senses quickly realise the Tourer has capabilities far beyond any other similar priced wagon on family detail.

On first inspection it’s impossible to miss the pouncing stance, and staunch HSV bumpers that give the Tourer its menacing charm. Sports styled ‘E-Vents’ are branded into the body behind the front guards sitting purposeful in appearance but sadly only for show. Large cross-drilled brakes with bright red callipers set off chunky 19″ deep-dish rims. The finishing all looks sharp and the coupe-like roofline lends itself well to the body alterations. HSV missed a trick at the rear end, making no changes over the SS Sportwagon except for the 317 boasting badge. Customers probably wouldn’t want an oversized rear-wing, but a little something extra could only charm. Overall the Tourer is dressed with suitable flamboyance leaving no doubt it has come to play.

Before rousing the beast, a check over the interior equipment reveals white HSV driver instruments and matching triple gauges in the centre binnacle displaying oil temperature, oil pressure and voltage. At night the cabin lights up with a taunting red glow that illuminates from all gauges and buttons. A six-disc in dash CD player with DVD and sat nav-capable display screen works as the Tourer’s control centre.

The interior atmosphere is pleasant but a little dark and uninspired; some of the plastics have a cheap feel, particularly the additional piece of trim to house the extra gauges. The tested model had the optional leather upgrade which provides soft wide seats that cosset driver and passenger firmly. The rear passengers are also well treated with good legroom and superior headroom over the R8 sedan. With the rear seats up or down the Tourer has more space to load items than almost any other vehicle that can match it for power, with the exception of $150k plus european estates. This extra capacity naturally gives added value to families, tradesmen and anyone who dared dream a muscle car could also be practical.

Fire up the motor and you’re treated to a great V8 engine note, thunderous when pushed and grumbling at idle. At only 100kg heavier and running the same LS3 power plant the R8 Tourer is no watered down version of its sedan sibling. With so much torque on tap, power is delivered effortlessly and the Tourer will charge from 0-100kph in around 5 seconds.

The tested model had the Tremec TR6060  6-speed manual gearbox which is interestingly also used by Ford’s Falcon. It has a short throw and responds with a reassuring click when shifting. The gearbox is stiff at times but if treated firmly it’s not a problem. Combine the no nonsense gearbox with a light clutch action and the Tourer is easily kept docile at low speeds and in traffic.

With all the weight and power does the Tourer handle like it’s in a china shop?  No¦ not really. It can’t evade feeling like a large car, but it doesn’t pitch or dive when braking, and body roll is acceptable. The steering is well balanced and keenly responsive. Agility was never going to be this beast’s strong suit, but cornering at speed isn’t terrifying and the Tourer won’t oversteer without conscious provocation. If you do go sliding into the dust, the ESC (Electronic Stability Control) is eager to pick up the slack. The ESC can, of course, be disabled, but you’d want the courage and skill of a matador to do so.

HSV stiffened up the suspension tune for the Tourer, which keeps it settled when driven enthusiastically but does little to help overall ride quality. The body sits so low and flat that most road bumps and dips are passed on to vehicle occupants. The Tourer’s hard ride is the most obvious yet understandable giveaway of the vehicle’s Jekyll and Hyde persona.

If the balance of power shifts suddenly and things turn sour the Tourer has active safety systems that make appropriate changes to give command back to the driver. Six-airbags are fitted and the showpiece 4-piston brakes enable rapid stopping power if needed.

Overall, the Tourer is an effective option for those who want the brute force of an angry V8, but require the practicality of a wagon. There may also be some who fall in love with the shape or crave something a bit different. For owners to get the most from the Tourer they would need to value its performance over the extra carrying space that could be found in a much cheaper vehicle. With a 15.2l/100km fuel economy it’s no economical family run-about, and the throbbing V8 never stops provoking the driver to let it charge. Only 120 cars are scheduled for production in the first year, so HSV is showing some trepidation, but the Tourer should have enough presence and raw power to be saved by admiring fans.

Click through to the next page for a list of specifications

Price: from $82,090

What we like:

  • Exceptional Acceleration
  • Improved practicality over Sedan
  • Good steering and handling for size

What we don’t like:

  • No real styling changes at the rear
  • Cheap interior plastics
  • Ride quality

    Words and Photos, Adam Mamo

    HSV R8 Tourer (2008) – Specifications

    Engine

    317 kW 6.2 litre LS3 Generation 4 Alloy V8
    Capacity (cc): 6162
    Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
    Power (DIN kW): 317kW* @ 6000rpm
    Torque (DIN Nm): 550Nm* @ 4600rpm
    Recommended petrol octane rating: 98 RON PULP. Note that using 95RON (PULP) or lower will not cause any problems, but will result in slightly less engine performance and economy.

    Exhaust

    Exhaust system Stainless steel, high performance quad outlet

    Handling

    Linear Control Sports Touring Suspension with Electronic Stability Control
    Electronic Stability Control (ESC) incorporating: Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) – Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) – Electronic Brake Assist (EBA) – Traction Control System (TCS)
    Suspension Front: MacPherson strut Direct acting stabiliser bar. Progressive rate coil springs
    Rear: Multi-Link independent rear suspension (IRS). Progressive rate coil springs. Stabiliser bar
    Steering Variable ratio rack and pinion
    Track (mm) Front: 1592
    Track (mm) Rear: 1590
    Turning Circle (kerb to kerb, m): 11.4
    Wheel Base: 2915

    Brakes

    Front: 365mm ventilated discs. Four piston calipers
    Rear: 350mm ventilated discs. Four piston calipers

    Transmission

    6-speed Manual Transmission or 6-speed Automatic Transmission with active select

    Limited Slip Differential with HSV specific ratio

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    News: Mazda announce launch date for Mazda3 MPS

    Mazda3 MPS fq

    Mazda announced today that the eagerly anticipated 2009 Mazda3 MPS will be premiered at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. The Japanese manufacturer released little information on the launch of the 2009 Mazda3 MPS except the fact that it will be powered by the MZR 2.3 DISI Turbo engine.

    The 2009 Mazda3 MPS Program Manager, Yoshiyuki Maeda, said the new version will add more value and that it will be a step ahead in terms of driving performance and environmental technology.

    The carmaker also released three images of the European version of the 2009 Mazda3 MPS and said the new version will have improved fuel economy and that it will be compliant with the Euro 5 emissions standard. We’ll have more details on the 2009 Mazda3 MPS at the time of the Geneva Motor Show, on March 3rd. Check out the images in the gallery below.

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