Kia sizes up record sales year in 2011

October 18th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Kia is on target to achieve a year of record sales both in New Zealand and globally as it continues to ship more vehicles to customers around the world.

With Kia sales increasing in growth markets like China (40.9% up in August) and the United States (up 37% in September), Kia Motors is on course to push past the 2 million vehicles sold in all markets in 2010. Global sales were already ahead by 13.8% at the end of August, reaching in excess of 1.6 million units. At the beginning of the year Kia said it hoped to achieve a 12% increase by the end of 2011 and it’s now clear that target will be reached, barring a major sales slump.

Whilst year-to-date sales of Kia vehicles here in New Zealand to the end September are 15% ahead of the same nine-month period last year, they could have been higher if the local company had been allocated more cars and light commercials.

“There is no doubt that our sales have been hampered by a shortage of key models, particularly during the beginning and middle part of the year, but supply issues are now starting to ease and we are hoping to end 2011 with a hiss and a roar and we’re looking forward to an even better 2012,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand. Continue reading “Kia sizes up record sales year in 2011” »

Toyota breaks electric vehicle lap record at the ‘Ring (+video)

August 31st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It was only a few years ago that the electric vehicle lap record at the Nürburgring didn’t mean much to anyone, but the title is now hotly contested. The latest developer of electric propulsion to throw their hat into the ring, at the ‘Ring, is Toyota with its TMG EV P001.

The oddly named but beautifully curved electric Toyota set a new record recently with a run of seven minutes, 47.79 seconds. This new record has smashed the previous time, held by Peugeot’s EX1 by more than a minute. The EX1 clocked a lap time of 9.01:33 and prior to that the Mini E held the record with a time of 9 minutes 51 seconds. To achieve the feat the TMG EV P001 uses a 100% electric powertrain with a top speed of 260km/h and a huge 800Nm of torque.

Toyota’s electric racer record puts it in line with the lap times recorded by petrol-powered hero vehicles like the Porsche 911 Turbo and the Nissan GT-R. But what’s the point of it all? Turns out that Toyota wants to sell the powertrain used in the EV P001 from next year. Expect to see the components in passenger vehicles from 2012 which should mean a welcome improvement in performance of Toyota’s electric/hybrid offerings. Electric cars might just become exciting after all. Continue reading “Toyota breaks electric vehicle lap record at the ‘Ring (+video)” »

Renault Megane RS Trophy claims FWD record at the ‘Ring

June 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Renault has further pushed its claim of having the world’s hottest hatch by lowering its own longstanding lap record for a front-wheel drive production car at the Nordschleife. Renault first achieved this title in June 2008 when its Megane RenaultSport (RS) Trophy special claimed ultimate front-driving bragging rights.

The 197kW Megane RS took just  8 minutes and 7.97 seconds to lap the Nürburgring racetrack beating the time of the previous generation Mégane Renaultsport R26.R by 9 seconds. By comparison, another higher-powered hottest hatch contender the Ford Focus RS took 8 minutes and 26 seconds to complete a lap back in 2009.

The new record was set by Renault Sport’s development driver Laurent Hurgon, who understandably talked the car up, “The carefully-tuned Cup chassis, the dampers, the fade-resistant brakes, the Recaro seats, the power of the 265hp engine, the ready availability of torque between 2,500 and 5,000rpm and the car’s Bridgestone RE 050A (235/35 R19) tyres allowed me to make the most of the car’s enormous potential, especially into and out of the corners.”

The Trophy is a special edition of the standard Megane RS, power is increased by 11kW and torque by 20Nm through engine tweaks. The Trophy also comes standard with Formula 1-inspired Bridgestone Potenza RE050A high-performance tyres which may have made a big difference. Continue reading “Renault Megane RS Trophy claims FWD record at the ‘Ring” »

2012 Nissan GT-R smashes old model’s Nürburgring record (+video)

March 31st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Nissan has just released a video of its upgraded 2012 GT-R breaking its existing record on the Nürburgring-Nordschliefe track.

The video is in Japanese so it’s a good chance to brush up on your skills and we also get to see the full 7 minutes and 24.22 seconds of the GT-R’s track run from inside the cabin. Porsche, as always have been quick to point out that the GT-R’s new time is still slower than its 911 GT2 RS, which ‘apparently’ comes in at 7m and 18 seconds. It also costs tens of thousands dollars more.

The 2012 Nissan GT-R comes packing a twin-turbo 3.8-litre V6 engine and produces 395 kW of power and 661 Nm of torque. It can achieve the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in 3 seconds flat, but the GT-R’s launch control function is needed to get that figure.

The 2012 GT-R beats the 2011 model’s track time of 7 minutes 26.7 seconds by almost 2.5 seconds and has huge amounts of grip through its all-wheel drive system. The GT-R’s chief designer Kazutoshi Mizuno also makes a cameo in the video so keep an eye out.

Check out the GT-R lapping the Nurburgring in the video below. Continue reading “2012 Nissan GT-R smashes old model’s Nürburgring record (+video)” »

Ferrari 599XX breaks Nurburgring 7-minute barrier

April 27th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The Ferrari 599XX has become  the first ever production-derived sports car to break the 7-minute barrier on the classic Nürburgring Nordschleife 20.832 km circuit, lapping in a time of 6 min 58.16 sec.

The new record was set on 21 April 2010 with Ferrari road car test driver Raffaele de Simone behind the wheel, beating a time of 6 minutes 58.5 seconds set by German Touring Car Driver Florian Gruber in another Ferrari 599XX. These times are both faster than Ferrari 312T Formula One car driven by Niki Lauda in a time of 6 minutes 58.6 seconds that put the Austrian legend on pole position for the 1975 Grand Prix , the best ever time for an F1 car on the Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit.

With 154 corners, notorious sections such as Flugplatz, Berwerk and Caracciola Karussell, the Nürburgring Nordschleife plunges through the pine forests of the Eifel Mountains, providing drivers with few reference points and leading Sir Jackie Stewart to christen the track ‘the green hell’ and that he would never do more laps than were absolutely necessary. It remains the ultimate test of a car’s all-round performance ability and, unlike most race tracks, the track produces cars that also perform well on the road. As the home of German motorsport and an international legend, Ferrari have long used the track for racing and testing. It is, therefore a Mecca for Ferrari fans, as shown by the fact that a Ferrari Store was opened at the track in 2009.

The 599XX, which inspired the 599 GTO, is an extreme berlinetta designed for track but not official competition use, and is a veritable technological laboratory incorporating a number of innovative solutions. Some of these will remain the exclusive preserve of the 599XX while others have already filtered down to the 599 GTO, introduced at the Beijing Motor Show. These include the wheel doughnuts derived from F1 which serve two purposes – to reduce turbulence and thus drag, and improve brake cooling.

Powered by a development of the V12 engine used by the 599 GTB Fiorano, the 599XX features Ferrari’s High-Performance Dynamic Concept, a novel integrated design and chassis set-up that uses sophisticated electronics to govern the mechanical limits of the handling for maximum performance.

On the aerodynamics front, the car sees the introduction for the first time of the Actiflowâ„¢ System that increases downforce and/or cuts drag depending on the car’s trim during cornering. This, together with other careful detailing, ensures that the 599XX boasts extraordinary levels of downforce – up to 630 kg at 300 km/h.

Fundamental to the performance of the car was the development of specific components undertaken together with our technical partners: Brembo for the carbon-ceramic brakes, Michelin for the tyres and Shell for the fuel and lubricants.