e-Wolf shows off Italian inspired electric car

September 30th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

e-wolf e2 fq

Shortly after revealing its Lotus Seven like e1 electric sportscar at the Frankfurt Motor Show, e-Wolf has just released images and details of its next model, the e2. Unlike the open-topped e1, the German carmaker’s e2 follow up will feature a shape clearly inspired by any number of supercars from Italy, most noticeably the Lamborghini Reventón and Ferrari Enzo. If you have to copy another car, might as well make it the best.

Currently existing in theory alone the electric supercar will be powered by one 134-horsepower electric motor per wheel for a total of 536 green horsepower and an impressive 1,000 Nm of torque. The run to 100kph is expected to be handled in well under four seconds, though the top speed may be capped at 250 kph.

Energy storage will be taken care of by a lithium ion battery pack composed of 84 flat cells. No details have been released on the pack’s exact capacity, but e-Wolf suggests that range could be as high as 300 kilometers per charge after a recharge of just 30 minutes — to achieve this a extra-strong specialised charger would be required. Production is currently planned for 2011.

Brabus creates the ‘Ultimate’ smart car

September 21st, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Brabus Ultimate R fq

Smart cars aren’t known for their performance pedigree but who couldn’t use a bit more power. German tuner Brabus has come to the party and unveiled its Ultimate R smart fortwo art this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

The go hard Smart fortwo is powered by a turbocharged 3-cylinder engine that develops 82.4 kW at 5,750 rpm and 150 Nm of torque between 3,300 and 3,900 rpm. Brabus claims it has shortened shift times in comparison to the standard model. The official performance numbers state the Ulitmate R can reach a top speed of 170 km/h and do the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in 9.5 seconds.

The Ultimate R is fitted with a custom coil-over sport suspension that lowers the ride height by 30 mm and gas-pressure shock absorbers.

Featuring a special gun metal paint job and carbon fibre components the Ultimate R will be available in both coupe and convertible forms.

VW may take stake in Suzuki

September 21st, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Volkswagen logo

The rumours of a potential match between Suzuki and Volkswagen just keep coming. Last month, reports emerged that Volkswagen AG was interested in a small slice of Suzuki Motors. more recently a Suzuki executive at the Frankfurt Motor Show mentioned that an agreement between the two automakers would be in place by the end of the year.

What at first seems like an unlikely match makes total sense, for Suzuki and VW this connection would be a win-win situation. Suzuki would have access to a variety of VW’s technology, while Volkswagen would have a solid supporting leg in India and Southeast Asian markets.

Neither party has any official word on the matter. However, last Monday Martin Winterkorn, VW’s Chief Executive, said the product portfolio of the Japanese automaker would fit well with his company.

Mini Roadster concept revealed in Frankfurt

September 17th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Mini Roadster concept fq

Mini has officially revealed the Roadster Concept alongside it’s new Coupe Concept (read news item) at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Like its hardtop stablemate the Roadster is strictly a two-seater with a chopped roofline and tilted back windscreen. This is almost certainly set to be the second new model that will be produced at MINI’s Oxford UK assembly plant alongside the Coupe.

Also like the Coupe, the Roadster makes extensive use of Mini family design cues and appears pretty much unchanged from the belt-line down compared to existing Minis. For the Roadster, the roll-bar structure has been moved forward so it sits directly behind the seats. This should improve the coupe’s structural rigidity, helping make the Roadster a more competent handler.

The front air dam of the Mini Roadster Concept looks seriously performance ready. And it should be, considering that Mini’s 175 horsepower turbocharged 1.6-litre engine will be even more willing to please in the smaller Roadster. Weight distribution has been improved, shuffling a bit more weight over the rear axle for more neutral behaviour. The slightly shorter layout and lower weight also helps handling, while power-to-weight ratio is improved, too.

Another functional advantage of the Roadster is increased boot space thanks to the missing back seat. The volume increases and the opening is now usably large, extending over the rear deck and down to the bumper. A lockable pass-through gap also allows a passenger to reach items banging round in the boot.

Aesthetically, the concept’s houndstooth-and-leather seating and gold striping show the concept won’t be all about performance.

A new multi-function screen display offers five new gimmicky indicators: the Nature Guard (how eco friendly you’re driving), Highspeed Shifter (when to shift for maximum power), Gravity Indicator (lateral and g-forces), Heart Beat (engine speed visualized by beating heart) and Buddy Radar (shows where other Mini drivers are).

It’s cute, it will go reasonably hard and there is no reason why the new Roadster won’t be a sales success when it reaches production.

Ford to develop 10 models off C-segment platform

September 17th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Ford C-Max fq

This week’s Frankfurt Motor Show marks the beginning of a new generation of Ford’s new C-segment platform with the debut of the new C-Max.

Apparently Ford, is planning over the next few years to take the new compact platform global and to develop as many as 10 different vehicle variants around the world. In addition to the C-Max, the next Focus will be available as a four-dour sedan, three- and five-door hatchback and convertible. That still leaves a number of other possible vehicles that Ford hasn’t announced yet, which probably means some crossovers and perhaps even sports variants will be coming over the next few years.

Ford have a lot of eggs in this new C-segment basket and with the increasing importance of the compact segment, all of these variants will play a big part in Ford’s future.

Citroen Revolte concept – suitably named

September 17th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Citroen Revolte concept fq

After once staging a famous revolution and now, chain smoking while eating snails the French certainly know the meaning of the word “revolt”. It’s not surprising that French carmaker Citroen knowingly used the word — with an extra ‘E’ for its latest concept car unveiled this week in Frankfurt.

The REVOLTe concept is a throwback Citroen’s iconic 2CV, which celebrated its 60th anniversary last year. The REVOLTe simply borrows the basic shape of its forbearer and gives it a modern take. The modern part comes in the form of an unspecified small-capacity conventional combustion engine combined with an electric motor and a battery re-charging function. Measuring just twelve feet long, the REVOLTe has seating capacity for three — one offset up front and two in the back — accessed by suicide doors.

No output or performance figures have been officially released for the REVOLTe but according to the press release it is a ‘lively performer with strong acceleration’. It may just need that speed to evade the rioting masses angry at this polarizing new take on the much loved 2CV.

Fastest VW Golf ever produced – The Golf R

September 16th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

VW Golf R 20 fq

The most powerful and fastest-accelerating Golf ever produced — the Golf R — has been unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show.  Developed by Volkswagen Individual, the special projects wing of Volkswagen, and following on from the Mk IV and Mk V Golf R32 models, the Golf R is equipped with a 2.0-litre TSI four-cylinder engine developing 198kW and four-wheel drive.

Not only is the new engine 35 kg lighter and 15kW more powerful than the 3.2-litre V6 found in the outgoing Golf R32, it’s also more efficient.  Economy rises from a combined 10.7 l/100km to 8.5 l/100km while CO2 emissions fall from 257 g/km to 199 g/km.  Despite the gains in efficiency the Golf R is faster than ever — the new car can accelerate from rest to 100 kph in just 5.7 seconds.  Equipped with a six-speed DSG gearbox, this figure falls to 5.5 seconds while top speed is limited to 250 kph.

The 1,984 cc, four-cylinder EA113 engine (as opposed to the EA888 fitted to the current Golf GTI) is derived from the Mk V Golf GTI.  To extract the extra power the block has been reinforced with an entirely new alloy head, uprated pistons, conrods  and high pressure injectors. An uprated turbocharger generating 1.2 bar of boost is joined by a new intercooler to cope with the extra heat generated.  The result is 270 PS developed at 6,000 rpm and 258 lbs ft of torque at 2,500 rpm.

New 345 mm diameter front brake discs (rear: 310 mm) and callipers are joined by uprated suspension that’s been lowered by 25 mm with revised spring and damper rates and new anti-roll bars.  The Electronic Stabilisation Programme (ESP) has also been revised for the Golf R with two stages designed for track use.  Finally, the electro-mechanical power steering system has been tweaked to sharpen responses.

Unlike the four-wheel drive system fitted to the R32 that relied on differing wheel speeds between the front and rear axles to engage the four-wheel drive, the system fitted to the Golf R uses a pre-charged hydraulic system that’s able to react more quickly while also limiting the torque being channelled through either axle to reduce wheelspin.  In extreme cases up to 100 per cent of the torque can be channelled to the rear wheels if required.

To set the Golf R apart from a conventional Golf or GTI it’s fitted with new front and rear bumpers complete with LED running lights at the front and a gloss black diffuser at the rear housing a pair of central exit exhausts.  A set of Xenon headlights and a new black grille and wing mirrors extend back to a set of sill extensions framed by 18-inch five-spoke wheels complete with 225/40 tyres as standard — 19-inch wheels with 235/35 tyres are optional.  At the back, unique rear light units lend the Golf R an aggressive look — the high-intensity LED bulbs hidden behind smoked lenses.

The changes continue inside the Golf R — a set of distinctive aluminium ‘R’ kick plates are joined by new seats finished in grey Alcantara contrasted against high-grip black mesh cloth. Gloss black highlights throughout the interior are matched with electric blue needles in the revised instrument column.

Audi unveil e-tron concept at Frankfurt show

September 16th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Audi e-tron concept fq

When it became known that Audi was unlikely to ever build a production version of its R8 V12 TDI torque lovers were disappointed. Now the automaker has come back with a new R8-based concept that puts the diesel to shame. The new e-tron packs four electric motors and a lithium-ion battery pack this outputs 313 hp but an amazing 3,319 lb-ft of torque. The sprint to 100 kph takes 4.8 seconds, but rolling acceleration from 60-120 kph takes just 4.1 seconds thanks to the e-tron’s massive lashings of torque.

Audi acknowledges that electric vehicles are still far from economically viable volume production vehicles, but is nonetheless working on electric technology, both for hybrids and pure EVs. The battery pack sports a 53kWh capacity of which 42.4 kWh is usable. The pack weighs in at 469kg out of a total vehicle weight of 1,600kg and is mounted in front of the rear axle and liquid cooled. Each of the axles sports two electric motors allowing the e-tron to retain Audi’s signature quattro all-wheel drive.