Ferrari displays first hybrid at Geneva Show

March 4th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Ferrari has displayed its first ever hybrid car at the Geneva International Motor Show this week (4 March 2010) with the Ferrari 599 HY-KERS that cuts emissions and fuel consumption by 35 per cent without apparently affecting the performance traits and driving involvement that Ferraris are known for.

Named the Ferrari 599 HY-KERS vettura laboratorio hybrid project it is a vehicle aimed at ensuring that Ferrari will be in a position to comply with future CO2 emissions standards, particularly in terms of the urban cycle. City driving is traditionally where sports cars are most penalised as their engines are designed for maximum efficiency and performance at high revs, whereas the urban cycle involves low revs and low engine loads.

Ferrari has called on its racing experience to adapt an advanced, lightweight hybrid drivetrain to the 599 GTB Fiorano with the aim of ensuring that vehicle dynamics are unaffected. This was achieved with integration of the hybrid system components, positioning them below the centre of gravity and ensuring that interior and luggage space are unaffected. The flat lithium-ion batteries are positioned below the floorpan resulting in a centre of gravity that is even lower than in the standard car.

Ferrari has also applied its F1 technology to the design, engineering and construction of a new kind of electric motor which helps optimise the longitudinal and lateral dynamics of the car. The motor also features a unique cooling and lubrication system to maintain efficiency under all operating temperatures and loads.

Weighing around 40 kg, the high-voltage electric motor of the HY-KERS is coupled to the rear of the dual-clutch 7-speed F1 transmission. It operates through one of the transmission’s two clutches and engages one of the two gearbox primary shafts. Thus power is felt instantaneously between the electric motor and the V12. The electric motor produces slightly more than 100 hp as Ferrari’s goal was to offset every kilogram increase in weight by a gain of at least one hp.

Under braking the electric drive unit acts as a generator, using the kinetic energy from the negative torque generated to recharge the batteries. As well as managing the power supply and recharging the batteries, the module also powers the engine’s ancillaries (power steering, power-assisted brakes, air conditioning, on-board systems) via a generator mounted on the V12 engine when running 100 per cent under electric drive. It also incorporates the hybrid system’s cooling pump.

The Ferrari 599 HY-KERS is an experimental vehicle at this stage but it sends a clear signal that Ferrari are ready to move toward more economical and environmentally focused sports cars.

Aston Martin Cygnet officially revealed

March 4th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Aston Martin has used the Geneva Motor Show to release detailed information on it’s new luxury mini, the Cygnet.

It was first revealed that Aston was working on a city car based on the Toyota iQ back in June, with initial details and photos released half a year later. Now it’s known that the Cygnet will be powered by a 1.3 litre engine that produces 98bhp. The engine can be mated to either a six-speed manual or a CVT auto.

The idea behind the vehicle is to provide existing Aston owners with an urban tender in which to zip around congested city centers like London. There are three seating configurations available: a 2+2 seating system, a 2+1 or a 2-seater with decent luggage area. Standard specs include a sat nav system, iPod integration and a six-speaker CD stereo.

If you want a Cygnet of your own, all you have to do is buy a real Aston Martin first then you might be able to secure one.

Bertone shows Pandion concept to celebrate 75-years with Alfa Romeo

March 4th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Bertone, one of Italy’s legendary styling houses, is celebrating 75 years of collaboration with Alfa Romeo by showing the Pandion concept car at the Geneva Motor Show. It’s an aggressive yet stunning coupe designed as a tribute to Alfa Romeo’s one hundred year anniversary.

The Pandion is an extreme and controversial sports car in typical Bertone fashion. The size of the concept car (4620 mm in length, 1971 mm wide, 1230 mm high, 2850 mm wheelbase) offers a compact sports car external dimensions with a large sports car interior feeling, all powered by a 4.7 litre, 450 CV 8-cylinder Alfa Romeo engine.

The partnership between Bertone and Alfa Romeo dates back to the early 1930s and is one of the most famous partnerships in the history of car design due to its incisive draughtsmanship. These characteristics have been applied to 23 models, including one-offs and production cars constructed over the last 75 years.

The Pandion is the first car produced by Mike Robinson in his new role as Design and Brand Director at Bertone. A pure ‘dream car’, the Pandion takes its rightful place as a member of Bertone’s historic Alfa Romeo family: cars that have often been style icons, influencing the history of the automobile and Italian craftsmanship in their design quality.

The name comes from the animal world, as Pandion Haliaetus is the scientific name for an Osprey: a sea hawk that nests and lives in coastal areas. The designers, led by Mike Robinson, have drawn inspiration from the wings of this predator to invent the scissor door opening mechanisms, and from the hawks’ facial markings to project the traditional Alfa family feeling into the next era of design.

In almost a century of Bertone tradition, it is not the first time that natural wonders have inspired the names of concept cars. There was the Corvair Testudo (1963) and, by no coincidence, the Alfa Romeo Canguro (1964), Carabo (1968) and Delfino (1983).

Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in concept unleashed

March 3rd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

It’s all about hybrids at this year’s Geneva Motor Show and Porsche has come to the party with its 918 Spyder concept.

With styling that borrows from the Carrera GT, the 918 Spyder is powered by both a 500-horsepower V8 and a pair of electric motors – for each axle – which produces an additional 218 hp or 160kW. At full gallop, the concept can theoretically reach 100 kph in 3.2 seconds and reach 318 kph at the high end. On the flip side, Porsche says it can also achieve 3.62l/100km economy and release just 70 grams of CO2 per kilometer.

How exactly can a supercar have such range? The 918 Spyder concept is what’s called a parallel hybrid like the now struggling Toyota Prius. That means that both powertrains, gas and electric, can operate together or separately to shift the wheels into motion. There are four modes in total that configure the powertrains for anything from maximum efficiency to maximum performance and measures inbetween. The E-Drive mode means pure electric power, and the car can reportedly last up to 25 kms  electricity alone. Then there is Hybrid mode, which uses both motors and would probably be the mode for everyday around town driving. The Sport Hybrid mode again uses both powertrains, but tips the needle a bit more towards performance with most power reaching the rear wheels.

Finally, the Race Hybrid mode means everything is going for all-out performance. There’s an even a handy push-to-pass button that adds a bit of Electronic-boost and regenerative braking plays its part.

The concepts interior is also a point of interest with Porsche saying it will offer a glimpse at future interiors for the automaker.

Audi releases details on A1 e-tron Concept

March 3rd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Luxury German brand Audi has just unveiled the latest edition to its all-electric e-tron range of concept vehicles, this new machine is the A1 e-tron, and it’s arrived with a few suprises.

Like the first e-tron concept based on Audi’s R8 platform, the A1 e-tron is powered by an electric motor producing 45kW and offering a driving range of around 50km in city traffic. That’s just not enough power so when more grunt is needed, the electric motor can generate up to 75kW in short bursts. This allows the A1 e-tron a lazy 0-100km/h time of around 10 seconds.

The A1 e-tron’s electric motor draws power from a lithium ion battery pack with a capacity of 12kWh, major weight-saving has gone into this area and the pack weighs a mere 150kg.

The big news is the inclusion of a standard combustion engine to kick in when the electric motor’s battery energy is depleted. But it’s the choice of engine that’s interesting, Audi will use a range-extending single-rotor 254cc Wankel engine and an electric generator that works to recharge the battery, boosting the A1 e-tron’s driving range by an additional 200km. The Rotary engine will weigh just 70kg including the intake, exhaust and subframe. The strengths of using the rotary engine come with low-vibrations, quiet operation, and small size.

Although it’s currently difficult to measure the true economy of extended-range vehicles the A1 e-tron apparently offers a fuel consumption figure of 1.9 l/100km.

Bentley Continental Flying Star unveiled

March 3rd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

A bespoke Bentley named the Continental Flying Star has been unveiled today at the Geneva Motor Show. It’s a shooting brake version of the 2-door coupe and features an expanded roof line with more expansive interior dimensions.

The Flying Star is based on the chassis of the Continental GTC and is powered by Bentley’s 6.0-litre, W12 engine that develops 560HP and 650 Nm of torque. Interestingly the Flying Star can also be built on the base of the GTC Speed which develops 610 hp and 750 Nm of torque. The special vehicle retains the all-wheel drive system and also the 6-speed automatic transmission and can reach a top speed of 322 km/h with a 0 to 100 km/h sprint time of 4.8 seconds.

Pricing hasn’t been announced yet.

2011 Lamborghini Gallardo 570-4 Superleggera ready for Geneva reveal

March 2nd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The 2010 Geneva Motor Show is about to start and one of the big cars to be revealed early on is the 2011 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera. It’s the first variant to the original Gallardo Superleggera (meaning “superlight” in Italian) that debuted in 2007 and will take its place at the top Gallardo range.

The new 570-4 Superleggera is 70 kilograms, lighter than the Gallardo Superleggera 560-4 below it. Its dry weight is just 1,339 kgs, which itself is below the last superlight Gallardo at 1,430 kgs. The outgoing model was powered by a 5.0 litre V10 fury packing 530 horsepower but the new 570-4 model is motiovated by a direct-injected 5.2-litre V10 of the same origin making its namesake 570 hp. Add the lighter weight to the increased power and you get a 0-100 km/h time of 3.4 seconds and top speed of 325 km/h.

Liberal doses of carbon fibre help lighten the special Lambo, while 19-inch forged aluminum wheels wearing Pirelli P Zero Corsa rubber, optional carbon ceramic disc brakes, permanent all-wheel drive and a six-speed e-gear transmission finish off the high-tech performance hardware.

Skoda presents Fabia vRS at Geneva

March 2nd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Skoda is presenting its new Fabia vRS at the Geneva Motor Show this week.

It’s the second sports-tuned car after the Octavia vRS and will be powered by a double-supercharged four-cylinder petrol engine providing 132 kW of power, despite a capacity of just 1.4 litres.

A new compressor-and-turbo combination increases the engine power, making a maximum top speed of 224 km/h possible and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in just 7.3 seconds. With fuel consumption of 6.4 l/100 km, the Fabia vRS offers very good fuel efficiency, as well as some environmental credentials.

The Fabia vRS boasts an aggressively designed front bumper and integrated fog lamps that can optionally be fitted with daytime running LED lamps. The vehicle’s unique position in the Fabia portfolio is underlined by 17″ lightweight alloy Gigaro wheels developed specially for the vRS, red-painted brake callipers, tinted windows, a new rear bumper with a diffuser and a double exhaust tip. Depending on the colour of the body, the roof, the rear spoiler and wheels for the Fabia vRS will be available in three different shades: black, white and silver.

The vehicle’s sports-tuned chassis with ESP, ABS and ASR is designed for a mix of power and safe driving performance. A tyre pressure monitoring system and an uphill start assistant are also part of the standard equipment.

The Fabia vRS is expected in New Zealand later in 2010 at which point pricing and specification will be announced.