New Mazda RX-9 could use Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain

May 26th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda’s next rotary powered machine is often the subject of rumour and speculation with claims that the RX-Series of vehicles may end with the RX-8. But fresh reports are suggesting that there will be an RX-9 and what’s more, it will use a hybrid drivetrain borrowed from Toyota.

These latest rumours have some weight behind them because last year an agreement was signed between Mazda and Toyota that would have the Zoom-Zoom company licensing the same hybrid tech that powers the Prius. Back then, Mazda announced that its first hybrid vehicle would reach the market in 2013. But nobody really thought it would come in the form of an RX-9.

Naturally a rotary engine will still spin under the vehicle’s bonnet, but it will likely take on a low-powered form with the hybrid system adding extra grunt. Doesn’t sound so flash right? Well not when you consider the rotary motor’s traditional design flaws of weak torque at low rpm, leaky seals and high fuel consumption. If the borrowed hybrid system can solve these issues it may be what saves the rotary engine from production car extinction. Continue reading “New Mazda RX-9 could use Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain” »

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” »

Honda drops images and details on its CR-Z Mugen

May 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Honda’s promising CR-X successor, the hybrid CR-Z could still be the excitement machine badge fans have been hoping for. Honda’s tuning arm Mugen is preparing to come to the rescue with a high performance version named the CR-Z Mugen and the first official photos of this hot hybrid hatch have been dropped.

Being prepared for a official debutl at the UK’s Goodwood Festival of Speed this July the hotter CR-Z looks suitably staunch but it’s the performance ability that Honda fans want to know about. While exact details haven’t been released, Honda has revealed that early tests with a prototype car based on a standard CR-Z and a mid-tuned engine has given a 0-100km/h sprint time matching that of the  European market Civic Type R at 6.6 seconds. But that wasn’t enough, and Mugen has pushed on by increasing output a further 15 percent and reducing the chassis’ weight by 50 kilograms, overall performance is now expected to be more rapid than the Type R’s.

That seems a fair result form the CR-Z’s supercharged 1.5-litre i-VTEC four and electric assist motor. The CR-Z Mugen will also get tweaks like upgraded brakes and suspension, a carbon fibre bonnet and forged alloy wheels. For styling, there is a new body kit with a high rear wing and diffuser to improve dynamics. Continue reading “Honda drops images and details on its CR-Z Mugen” »

Jaguar sending C-X75 hybrid supercar into production

May 9th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Jaguar has officially confirmed that its striking and environmentally friendly C-X75 supercar prototype will be taken into production.

The hybrid model first debuted as a concept at the Paris Motor Show last year and many thought that’s as far as it would go, but Jaguar have other ideas. The C-X75 is a hybrid supercar that produces less than 99g/km of CO2 emissions but for performance can rival the best supercars in the world and boasts a top speed of over 322 km/h (200mph).

The C-X75 will be an all-wheel drive machine with a “downsized, highly-boosted petrol engine coupled with two powerful electric motors,” says Jaguar, although the automaker is staying tight-lipped with any more details than that.

Jaguar will team up with the Williams F1 team to build the C-X75 and with Formula 1 preparing to switch to four-cylinder engines by 2013, it is possible that the C-X75′s powertrain will use similar or the same technology being developed for the Williams F1 team.

As a concept car the C-X75 used four 145-kW electric motors (one at each wheel) with two small turbine engines to create electrical current. But the production C-X75 will likely opt for a more conventional setup. Continue reading “Jaguar sending C-X75 hybrid supercar into production” »

Honda restarts next-gen NSX development

April 26th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Good news for fans of Honda’s long-dead NSX supercar with fresh reports that the model line is on the way back from oblivion.

At the recent Shanghai Auto Show the Japanese automaker revealed plans for the development of a new hardcore sports car that will become spiritual successor to the iconic NSX.

Honda Motor Company president, Takanobu Ito brought the big news and said the new car won’t feature the stonking V10 engine that had been planned for the next NSX, as the company scrapped this project back in 2008. But Ito did promise that the future NSX would be “exhilarating to drive and also environmentally friendly”. With those words in mind,  it’s likely the car will use an electric motor to boost power for a conventional gasoline engine, much like the CR-Z sport hybrid. But unlike the limp CR-Z, the NSX successor will be positioned as a full-blood high-performance hybrid vehicle.

The initial plans for an NSX successor were cancelled by former Honda president Takeo Fukui, who told fans it was a cost-saving measure. Before the project was shelved the new car was expected to have a front-mounted V10 engine pumping out at least 500 ponies. It was this drivetrain, in concept form, that was later used by the Honda HSV-010 GT racecar. Continue reading “Honda restarts next-gen NSX development” »

Honda Insight S 2011 Review

April 1st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Honda’s new Insight hybrid is a little like the Terminator – a character made famous by the sci-fi films of the same name. Like the staunch film figure the Insight is here on earth to terminate something – excessive fuel usage. And like the film’s character the Insight isn’t the first model but is stronger, and more advanced than its predecessor. But unlike the Terminator we’ve seen on screen, the Honda Insight isn’t going to be killed off after two hours. The Insight represents a genre of vehicle that is here to stay and while Toyota’s Prius may be winning the battle so far, it feels like the hybrid wars are just beginning. Honda’s Insight is a machine that’s important for the future so Car and SUV enlisted for a test drive today.

The first generation Insight, a two-door coupe is a rarity on NZ roads, but is easily spotted because it looks odder than a $3 note. For the sequel, Honda has opted for a more practical four-door hatchback body shape and few of its predecessors styling cues remain.

Up front, Honda’s corporate face is accented by blue-tinted headlight lenses and a grinning front bumper with recessed fog lamps. Along the flanks, flattened wheel arches are partially filled by 15-inch 7-spoke alloy wheels – standard on our tested S spec model. At the rear an almost flattened rear windscreen works into a tinted vertical glass panel in a look that’s reminiscent of the second generation CR-X. Despite the aggressive styling, the windows are large and visibility is very good all around, including its radical rear. There are clear similarities in wedge like shape between the Insight and Toyota’s Prius caused by both cars’ designers chasing down optimum aerodynamics. Continue reading “Honda Insight S 2011 Review” »

Next-gen BMW 3-Series teased in first promo video

March 25th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

BMW has released a promotional video that gives us our first official glimpse of its redesigned 3-Series sedan.

While the clip doesn’t give too much away, it does show the upcoming car’s exterior as well as an X3-inspired cabin.

The new 3-Series will be slightly larger than the current model and adopts plenty of styling cues from the larger 5-Series. Engine options are top secret for now, but petrol options are expected to include a turbocharged 1.6-litre mill with 110 kW, a turbocharged 2.0-liter motor with 180 kW and a high-power turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-six that will pump out around 225 kW. BMW wants to cover its bases so a hybrid powertrain is also on the cards with a petrol engine paired to a 40 kW electric motor.

The 2012 BMW 3-Series is scheduled to be officially revealed later this year, with a possible debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Check out the promo video below. Continue reading “Next-gen BMW 3-Series teased in first promo video” »

Porsche announces pricing and details for 918 Spyder Hybrid Supercar

March 22nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It will still be at least two years before Porsche’s new 918 Spyder hybrid supercar reaches production, but that’s not stopping the German carmaker from putting a price tag on it and opening the order book.

The 918 Spyder is to be the most expensive model ever built by Porsche with European prices starting from €645,000 ($1.24m NZD). That’s a large chunk of change to say the least but for the money buyer’s will get the latest hybrid tech and the natural successor to the iconic Carerra GT.

Production of the 918 Spyder will take place at Porsche’s Zuffenhausen plant in Germany starting from September 18, 2013, with first deliveries to commence in November 2013. Porsche plans to limit production of the two-seater model to no more than 918 units worldwide.

The 918 Spyder is closely modeled after the concept study seen at last year’s Geneva Motor Show. However, the production version will not have a full open-top look, instead it will go with removable roof panels that can be stowed in the front luggage compartment. Other differences from the concept include the addition of exterior mirrors and the removal of the side exhaust tail pipes. Continue reading “Porsche announces pricing and details for 918 Spyder Hybrid Supercar” »