2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster officially unveiled

May 30th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

After much teasing, prompting, rumour and speculation Mercedes-Benz has released full details and images of its new 2012 SLS AMG Roadster. The much anticipated drop-top will receive an official world premiere at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show this September.

The gullwing doors of the SLS coupe have had to go but even with conventional doors and body stiffening the convertible only weighs 40kg more than the hard top.

The three-layered fabric soft top will not eat in the roadster model’s boot area as its capacity remains the same with the roof either up or down, and is roughly the same to that of the SLS AMG Coupe. The automated top will come in a choice of three colors – black, beige and a classic red. It opens and closes in eleven seconds, and can be operated at speeds up to 50km/h.

Under the bonnet the roadster shares the coupe’s AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that sends power to the rear wheels. The naturally aspirated eight-cylinder engine produces 425kW and 650 Nm of torque. Apparently, even with the slight weight increase the quoted 0-100kph acceleration time for the roadster is 3.7 seconds, down 0.1 second from the coupe’s sprint time. Continue reading “2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster officially unveiled” »

Volkswagen heats up Transporter van with Sportline special

May 27th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

For one reason or another, New Zealand is a ute nation. We love our small trucks and what they can do onroad and off. But in the tarmac covered UK, utes aren’t as popular as full-size vans. So in the same way that we get all funny over a dressed up Toyota Hilux, the Brits are right into their sporty limited edition vans.

The Ford Transit Sportvan is the undisputed king of hot vans in Britain but now VW has thrown its hat into the ring with the new Transporter Sportline.

This special edition van comes packing a 135kW 2.0-litre turbodiesel motor, matched to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG box. Visual excitement is added by a revised front end with a gloss black and chrome grille. There’s also smoked headlights, recessed fog lamps, polished side step bars and 18-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels. No surprises at the rear where there’s a roof spoiler. Continue reading “Volkswagen heats up Transporter van with Sportline special” »

New VF Holden Commodore to save weight with aluminium panels

May 25th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

In 2014 Holden is on track to launch its next-generation VF Commodore and the new model comes carrying serious expectations and some new technology. Fans can expect significant savings in fuel economy, improved aerodynamics, new electric power steering and it will also be the first Aussie-built car to use mass produced aluminium panels in its construction. To remain competitive with vehicles like the Toyota Camry Hybrid, Holden’s Commodore will be saving weight wherever it can.

Total fuel savings will be in the region of 7% off the current figures of the VE Commodore range (pictured). This will drag the 9.1lt/100 km combined rating of the 3.0 L V6 SIDI down to a more acceptable 8.4 lt/100 km. The older 3.6 L Alloytec V6 will drop to 9.1 lt /100 km (26 mpg) down from its current 9.8 lt/100 km. The fuel saving measures are partly funded by the Australian federal government, which has used AU$39.8 million from the discontinued Green Car Innovation Fund.

The entire VF model’s development will apparently cost just AU$189 million which is a huge decrease on the rumoured one billion that was spent on the VE Commodore. Continue reading “New VF Holden Commodore to save weight with aluminium panels” »

The Endora SC-1 – another Corvette based Supercar

May 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

German coachbuilder Endora Cars has decided to dip its toe into supercar waters with a striking retro-inspired machine which it has named the SC-1.

Rendered images have just been released and it’s already clear that the SC-1 borrows heavily from American and European sports cars of the 60′s and 70′s. It’s a mix tape of styles and eras but the most telling design features are lifted straight from the Corvette like the Coke-bottle profile and distinctive rear end. That comes as little shock because the Corvette makes up the SC-1′s platform.

Under the bespoke body lies the chassis and mechanical hardware of the sixth generation Corvette. Endora Cars will offer tempted buyers the choice of three configurations. A base model which comes packing GM’s 6.2-litre V8 with a 325kW output, while a second option is a larger 7.0-liter V8 with 381kW and 636Nm of torque. Topping the range is a supercharged version of the 6.2-litre V8 engine that will put a frightening 482kW of grunt and 817Nm of torque to the rear axle. Continue reading “The Endora SC-1 – another Corvette based Supercar” »

Audi officially reveals all-new 2012 A6 Avant

May 19th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Us Kiwis are suckers for a nice station wagon and Audi has given us all something to admire in its sleek new 2012 A6 Avant. The latest estate model has just been revealed at an event in Berlin, Germany with photos and specs released.

The new A6 Avant is larger with improved interior space but is lighter and more fuel efficient. To achieve the weight-reduction over its predecessor the A6 body is now 20 percent aluminum and also uses a composite construction that integrates high-strength steel for safety. This new lightweight approach to construction means the new A6 wagon is up to 70kg lighter than the model it replaces depending on the powertrain installed. The base model A6 2.0 TDI Avant weighs 1,640kg.

The A6 Avant powertrain options include six engines and four transmissions for various global markets but don’t expect all of them to come to New Zealand. The entry-level engine is a 2.0-litre TDI turbo-diesel four-cylinder that produces 131kW, and achieves a fuel economy of just 5.0l/100km combined. There is a larger diesel mill on offer with a 3.0-litre displacement and twin-turbocharging, its available in various power outputs ranging from 152kW to 233kW. In its most powerful form the TDI motor will take the A6 Avant from 0-100km/hper hour in a mere 5.4 seconds. Continue reading “Audi officially reveals all-new 2012 A6 Avant” »

First details on McLaren’s “Mega Mac” F1 successor

May 17th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

There’s been rumours and speculation floating around about McLaren’s new top spec F1 successor since the release of its MP4-12C last year. Now, thanks to fresh reports, key details have been divulged and McLaren’s tasty new supercar dubbed the “Mega Mac” sounds like an absolute monster.

Aimed squarely at the world’s top supercars like the Bugatti Veyron and Pagani Huayra the Mega Mac plans to defeat them all and jump straight into number one spot. To achieve this it will use a 595kW (799 hp) 5.0-litre V8 motor which has been developed in collaboration with Ricardo. The huge amounts of power will be put to the ground through a Graziano seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Keeping light is vital and the car will feature a carbon fibre Monocell, similar to that seen on the MP4-12C. Interior appointments will also put function before luxury in pursuit of a low kerb weight.

With the emphasis on total power and light weight, performance will be nothing short of breathtaking. Early indications expect the coupe to match the Lamborghini Aventador in the 0-100kph sprint, hitting three figures in just 2.8 seconds. While that’s a few tenths slower than the Bugatti Veyron, the Mega Mac will generate more momentum as it goes reaching the 200 mph (321kph) mark in just 20 seconds flat, a full 2 seconds quicker than the Veyron. Continue reading “First details on McLaren’s “Mega Mac” F1 successor” »

Volvo S60 T6 2011 Review

May 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Recently, to prove Volvo is no longer a maker of safety obsessed, vanilla vehicles, pro race driver Jonny Reid lapped Hampton Downs in the new S60 T6 sedan. Big deal you might say. Well he did do it blindfolded (click here to view video).  Some may see this stunt as little more than a cheap promotional trick, but it illustrates the redefining new direction the Swedish carmaker has taken. An awareness, pride and continuation of Volvo’s safety innovations remain but the new top-spec S60 T6 has been given eye-catching, flowing design, serious power output and sporting dynamics. Car and SUV wasn’t given a blindfold, or time on a racetrack but did get a drive in the very same S60 T6 that lapped Hampton Downs. Here are the results.

Volvo’s solid and boxy design language is now almost fully extinct and the S60 shows more curves than a hip-hop video. A dipping front end with two-piece headlights and a broad signature grille give the S60 a modern and distinctive face. A steeply raked windscreen and coupe-like roofline define its low-slung profile. At the back end, wrap around taillights and a subtle boot lid spoiler are features. Contrasting hard plastic cladding is used to good effect on the S60’s lower edges, this helps give it genuine sporty appeal. It also combines with the widened rear panels and high boot deck to create an athletic stance. Like a sprinter paused in their blocks the S60 looks alert, muscular and dynamic. Other signals of go-fast intent include 7-spoke 18-inch alloys and dual, integrated exhaust tips. Any aesthetic concessions aren’t required in owning a new S60. Particularly in T6 form, it’s a sexy machine and Volvo has achieved it without resorting to more generic styling, it’s distinctive but still clear in its origins.

In the cabin, the coupe theme continues with a cosseting sports-inspired atmosphere. A high centre armrest dissects driver and shotgun passenger with all switchgear placed close to hand. The build quality has a bulletproof feel and the materials are mainly high-grade with the exception of some harder plastics. There is a luxury feel in the S60 cabin and while it can’t quite match pricier European brands it’s a step up from more direct Japanese competitors. The waterfall control stack is a highlight being finished in brushed metal and housing the majority of buttons and dials. A recessed 7-inch screen displays all main information in full colour and is positioned high for easy checking on the fly. The control system interface isn’t immediately intuitive but with regular use drivers will learn its ways. The instrumentation is Spartan but effectively designed with two large dials surrounding digital displays that offer vehicle information. Phone, cruise and audio buttons are housed in a thick leather-wrapped steering wheel. Continue reading “Volvo S60 T6 2011 Review” »

Porsche offers another 911 variant – the Carrera 4 GTS

May 13th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Porsche fans could be forgiven for thinking the sports car maker was all done with variants of its 911 models before the next generation is officially revealed. Now it seems those fans are wrong and Porsche has one last sports machine hidden up its sleeve – the 911 Carrera 4 GTS.

The Carrera 4 GTS is an all-wheel drive version of the 911 Carrera GTS which was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show. It will be available in both Coupe and drop top formats and comes packing Porsche’s 3.8 liter inline six-cylinder unit that produces 300 kW of power and a peak torque figure of 420 Nm. The standard transmission offering is a six-speed manual gearbox with the seven-speed PDK double-clutch being an optional extra. The 0 to 100 km/h sprint is canceled out in just 4.6 seconds with the manual box and 4.8 seconds for the Cabriolet variant. Using the PDK auto transmission drops the acceleration numbers down by 0.2 seconds.

Porsche’s high-tech all-wheel drive system uses torque vectoring to send just the right amount of twisting power to the front wheels with a limited-slip differential for the rear axle. The electronically-controlled system gives the Carrera 4 GTS maximum performance and agility on the road. Continue reading “Porsche offers another 911 variant – the Carrera 4 GTS” »