De Tomaso is back! With a… crossover

February 11th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

De Tomaso the Italy-based sports car manufacturer is back from the grave and comes bearing not a radical supercar but a luxury crossover.

Quick history lesson: De Tomaso was founded by a Argentinean former racing driver named Alejandro De Tomaso. The small car company built a reputation for its quirky models during the 1960s and 1970s like the famous Pantera, the company then went under the radar for many years before going bankrupt in 2004. It was purchased five years later by ex-Fiat marketing executive and Lancia CEO Gian Mario Rossignolo, who has decided to breathe life into the once iconic brand. Now, the Italian businessman’s plan is coming together, and the reborn automaker is planning to unveil a Pininfarina-designed premium crossover concept at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.

Codenamed SLC (Sport Luxury Car), the design study is apparently designed as a competitor for the likes of the BMW 5-Series GT and Lexus RX-450h.

The SLC will have a lightweight aluminum body, a four-wheel drive system and come with three engine choices – a 550 HP V8 and 300HP V6 petrol engines, plus a 250-horse diesel unit.

De Tomaso is planning on building around 3,000 examples of the crossover annually, and if everything goes well a luxury sedan and a coupe are set to follow.

Interestingly, the cars will be manufactured at a former Pininfarina plant, using an innovative new technology called ‘Univis’ which is said to simplify the manufacturing process. Continue reading “De Tomaso is back! With a… crossover” »

Nissan reveals futuristic Esflow concept (+video)

February 10th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Nissan has revealed details on its latest concept vehicle, an eco-friendly sports car concept called the Esflow. This space-age-styled concept is set for a debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show next month.

The released batch of images show a vehicle with traditional sports car proportions, but with economy and ecology on its mind there may be no big burnouts and drag racing on the cards.

The Esflow uses similar technology used in the popular production Leaf EV hatchback. However, the concept makes use of a separate motor to turn each rear wheel and can sprint 0-100kph in under five seconds. The laminated lithium batteries are fitted low down in the vehicle to keep the centre of gravity low and can achieve 240 km on a charge. While the energy storage system may be heavy it is offset by an rollbar-integrated aluminum chassis and a composite shell.

It seems very unlikely a high-tech, high-cost machine like the Esflow will reach production but it’s good to see electric tech finding its way into Nissan’s sportier offerings. While the Leaf might be the current champion for Nissans EV program, the future could see the Japanese brand lead the way in affordable electric sports cars.

Check out a short promo video and images of the Esflow concept below. Continue reading “Nissan reveals futuristic Esflow concept (+video)” »

Ssangyong Actyon SUT 1 concept is Korea’s latest ute

February 9th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

With the recent success of Kia and Hyundai it’s all too easy to assume that they are the only Korean carmakers out there. But it’s not that simple with Ssangyong now making a play for some of the action.

To show what they can do Ssangyong has just revealed the first sketches of its upcoming concept vehicle set for a Geneva Motor Show debut. Named the SUT 1 this Korean ute is a concept in name only and is set to go on sale in international markets from early next year. With Ssangyong dealerships reopening in NZ we may see it here in 2012.

If it comes to NZ, it could be available with manual or automatic transmissions, in either two- or four-wheel drive, mated to a 2.0-litre diesel engine that produces with 114kW of power and 360Nm available. Maximum torque will be available from just1,500rpm. Continue reading “Ssangyong Actyon SUT 1 concept is Korea’s latest ute” »

2012 Volkswagen Tiguan facelift model – revealed

February 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Following on from recently leaked photos, Volkswagen has released official details and photos for the 2012 Tiguan facelift.

The Tiguan is the latest in VW’s range to receive updates after the 2011 Passat and Eos convertible, making it one of the few Volkswagen models to be updated rather than replaced by an all-new model.

In terms of styling the 2012 Tiguan is given the newer VW corporate face with a new headlight design, grille and at the rear new sleeker tail-lights.

In the cabin the Tiguan appears largely unchanged except for a new steering wheel. But the production model could sport more major updates.

Mechanical specifications will be revealed when the updated Tiguan debuts at next month’s Geneva Motor Show. Continue reading “2012 Volkswagen Tiguan facelift model – revealed” »

Toyota to take Yaris HSD hybrid concept to Geneva

February 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It’s no secret that Toyota has big plans to get into the growing market segment for hybrid powered small hatchbacks in Europe. But what has been just revealed is that a first look at Toyota’s efforts is on the cards for the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.

The Japanese manufacturer has just confirmed that it will unveil its Yaris HSD Concept at the March event. Toyota is keeping its card close to its chest for now on the Yaris concept so there’s little information on what kind of powertrain or fuel economy the car will achieve when it debuts. However, Toyota has said that the Yaris HSD Concept design will have some hybrid-specific features, so expect some serious Prius influence in the sheetmetal.

The B-segment remains one of the most popular market segments in Europe but it won’t be easy for Toyota’s hybrid offering to compete with high-efficiency diesel engines. The other barrier comes with price as hybrids command a price premium. So Toyota will need some smooth moves to make the hybrid Yaris a viable competitor in Europe. Continue reading “Toyota to take Yaris HSD hybrid concept to Geneva” »

2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG – officially unveiled

February 2nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

After months of leaked info and speculation, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG has been made official, complete with images and speculation. The car will be given its official debut at the upcoming 2011 Geneva Motor Show.

The C63 AMG has been revealed in two body shapes – a sedan and wagon but a coupe is also rumoured but unannounced.

Under the bonnet, the C63 AMG keeps the naturally-aspirated 6.2-litre V-8 engine, this stonking motor produces 336kW of power or 358kW with the optional AMG Development Package.

Power is sent through the AMG SpeedShift MCT seven-speed transmission, which comes with four different driving modes ranging from comfort to a full manual setting. There’s also a Race Start function that provides for rapid launches off-the-line. Gear changes are performed in just 100 milliseconds, and the transmission automatically rev-matches.

When it comes to performance the C63 AMG is definitely no slouch and will accelerate to 100kph in 4.4 seconds with a limited top speed of 250kph.

In terms of design the C63 took plenty of inspiration from the SL63 AMG and features an aggressive front look with an aluminum bonnet, a single-bar grille, and new headlights with LED indicators. Other features include a modified rear bumper with integrated diffuser, revised tail lights, and special 18-inch alloy wheels.

The interior is dressed up with a new dashboard design and integrated TFT display screen. There’s leather upholstery and aluminum trim, some gloss piano black surfaces and there are a mass of customisable options. Continue reading “2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG – officially unveiled” »

Volvo taking V60 plug-in hybrid to Geneva Show

February 1st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Volvo is well known for it’s progressive stance on safety but soon it may become known for it’s fuel economy. To prove it Volvo is preparing to unveil a V60 Plug-in Diesel Hybrid – a virtually production-ready car with carbon dioxide emissions below 50 g/km and a fuel consumption of 1.9 l/100 km, at next month’s Geneva Motor Show.

By next year Volvo Cars will be the first manufacturer on the market with this new breed of hybrid – which is the result of close cooperation with the Swedish energy supplier Vattenfall.

The first of the new V60 sports wagon which will be conventionally powered diesel and petrol models will arrive in New Zealand in April this year.

The V60 Plug-in Hybrid features some new tricks including being able to drive up to 50 kilometres on pure electricity alone.

“This second-generation hybrid is the perfect choice for the uncompromising buyer who wants a superbly carbon dioxide-lean car packed with driving pleasure,” says Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volvo Cars.

The front wheels of the V60 Plug-in Diesel Hybrid will be driven by a five-cylinder 2.4-litre D5 turbo diesel, which produces 215 horsepower and maximum torque of 440 Nm.  The rear axle features ERAD (Electric Rear Axle Drive) in the form of an electric motor producing 70 horsepower, which receives its power from a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The car features a six-speed automatic transmission. Continue reading “Volvo taking V60 plug-in hybrid to Geneva Show” »

Ferrari reveals radical new FF fastback with four-wheel drive and four seats

January 24th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Ferrari enthusiasts have been hanging out for a replacement to the 612 Scaglietti and it has finally come in a most radical form. Taking over as Ferrari’s flagship grand tourer the new beast is named the FF, which is an acronym for Ferrari Four. The new FF is quite possibly the Italian company’s most practical-focused production model ever featuring seating and luggage space for four occupants, a new all-wheel drive system and a shooting brake body style. Only three photos have been released for now with the model scheduled for debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show with sales to follow later in the year.

Penned by famous design house Pininfarina, the FF is a large sports car measuring almost 5 meters in length and 2 meters in width. The long roofline, rear quarter styling and the car’s general proportions are classic in shape bringing to mind the legendary Ferrari 250 Breadvan. But under the sheetmetal it’s all modern and while there is no photos of the interior yet apparently the FF can take four occupants and offers 450 litres of cargo space in the hatch which expands to 800 litres with the rear seats folded down.

There is also various custom options for the FF including six model-specific exterior colors and interior trims.

It’s not just the styling that has tongues wagging with the FF introducing Ferrari’s first ever production four-wheel drive system. Named 4RM, it is said to weigh 50 percent less than other four-wheel drive systems, meaning a near perfect weight distribution of 47:53 has been maintained.

Under the long bonnet the FF is powered by a brand new 6.3-litre V12 engine with a direct injection set up and Ferrari’s HELE tech including a stop/start system. The 12-cylinder motor delivers 492kW at 8,000 rpm and comes mated to a dual-clutch F1 gearbox. In terms of performance Ferrari claims the FF can sprint from 0-100km/h in just 3.7 seconds and push on to a 335 km/h top speed, while returning a combined fuel economy of 15.4 l/100km. Continue reading “Ferrari reveals radical new FF fastback with four-wheel drive and four seats” »