Mini Roadster officially revealed

October 31st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mini is continuing to expand its model family. The latest addition to the range is the Mini Roadster, this convertible variant is the sixth model in the brand’s current line-up and the first open-top two-seater in its history.

The two-seater features a manually-opening soft-top roof and plenty of unique packaging to appeal to Mini fans. As you’d expect it offers the high-handling abilities expected of a Mini and broad scope for individualisation.

The three-box body structure has a stepped rear end and a sweeping roadster look thanks to heavily raked A-pillars and a waistline rising up slightly along the length of the body towards the flat rear end. The Roadster sits 20 millimetres lower than the standard Mini Convertible.

The Roadster pushing its handling credentials with a bespoke chassis set-up, low centre of gravity, torsionally rigid body and optimised aerodynamic properties. Electronic tech includes Electric Power Steering and DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) as standard, DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) with EDLC (Electronic Differential Lock Control) optional. There’s also roll-over bars in polished stainless steel and an active rear spoiler that extends automatically at 80 km/h. Continue reading “Mini Roadster officially revealed” »

Lexus to produce striking LFA Roadster

August 5th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Lexus LFA coupe has established itself as one of the most coveted super cars in the world and with a production run of just 500 models this beast from the east is certainly exclusive. But when production of the LFA coupe finishes in 2013 an even rarer variant looks like it will built – the LFA Roadster.

According to recent reports in mid-2014 the LFA roadster is scheduled to debut with a price tag only the mega rich can afford. This is the first new news on the roadster since it was teased in a stunning concept version (pictured) back in 2008. Strangely, there is expected to be a one year gap between the end of LFA coupe production and the beginning of LFA roadster production.

The roadster will headline a whole gang of new or updated models Lexus plans to unleash in the coming years to help it fight key players like BMW and Mercedes-Benz in global markets. Continue reading “Lexus to produce striking LFA Roadster” »

Nissan developing all-new sports car to challenge MX-5

August 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

According to recent reports coming out of Europe, Nissan has entered into full development of a new budget sports car that will challenge the Mazda MX-5’s dominance in this market.

Apparently the sporting model will use a completely new platform that may be sourced from Daimler. This is the same platform pegged for the next-gen Nissan 370Z. Nissan is also in discussions with Lotus to collaborate on the car’s handling.

Engine options and power outputs remain a mystery for now but there are rumours Nissan may use either hybrid power or a fully electric system for this new machine. Continue reading “Nissan developing all-new sports car to challenge MX-5” »

Audi R8 GT Spyder let off its chain – expect 418kW

June 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Audi has let the latest version of its hardcore R8 GT supercar off the chain with details and images released of the new convertible version. It was only two months ago that Audi announced it would build a top tier roadster version of the R8 and already it appears to be completed.

Like the coupe variant, the R8 GT Spyder will use a tweaked version of the regular R8 V10’s 5.2 litre engine, boosting power to 418kW with 540Nm of torque.

The power is sent to all four wheels through Audi’s R tronic sequential automatically-controlled manual transmission and the well-proven quattro all-wheel-drive system.

Performance claims peg the R8 GT Spyder at hitting 100km/h in just 3.8 seconds, compared to 3.6 for the hardtop R8 GT and 3.9 seconds for the regular R8 5.2 FSI V10.

A range of weight-saving measures help the R8 GT Spyder achieve its performance figures with the special model weighing 85kg less than the standard version. Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic chips in for shedding the kilos and makes up the cover for the soft top, the rear spoiler and the rear bumper. However, the most effective weight-saving measure is the seats, which drop off 32kg. Continue reading “Audi R8 GT Spyder let off its chain – expect 418kW” »

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster officially unveiled

May 30th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

After much teasing, prompting, rumour and speculation Mercedes-Benz has released full details and images of its new 2012 SLS AMG Roadster. The much anticipated drop-top will receive an official world premiere at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show this September.

The gullwing doors of the SLS coupe have had to go but even with conventional doors and body stiffening the convertible only weighs 40kg more than the hard top.

The three-layered fabric soft top will not eat in the roadster model’s boot area as its capacity remains the same with the roof either up or down, and is roughly the same to that of the SLS AMG Coupe. The automated top will come in a choice of three colors – black, beige and a classic red. It opens and closes in eleven seconds, and can be operated at speeds up to 50km/h.

Under the bonnet the roadster shares the coupe’s AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that sends power to the rear wheels. The naturally aspirated eight-cylinder engine produces 425kW and 650 Nm of torque. Apparently, even with the slight weight increase the quoted 0-100kph acceleration time for the roadster is 3.7 seconds, down 0.1 second from the coupe’s sprint time. Continue reading “2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster officially unveiled” »

Mini to get new chief designer – how hard can it be?

December 3rd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Mini as a brand is strongly driven by style. Naturally, Minis are also solid performers and score highly in fun-to-drive tests but it’s the styling which remains the brand’s biggest selling point.

It was Alec Issigonis who first penned the iconic shape and design but it was a man named Gert Volker Hildebrand, who reinvented the Mini with its modern design language. That means Hildebrand is responsible for the reborn Cooper from 2001 and the varinats that followed – the Convertible, Clubman and Countryman. He also oversaw the designs of the Mini Coupe and Roadster (pictured) concepts from 2009, which are now on the verge of full production.

It won’t be an easy act to follow for Mini’s new chief designer, and who has the tough task? Hildebrand’s replacement will be Anders Warming, who currently serves as head of Exterior Design, BMW Automobiles. Warming is already used to big projects and is responsible for some recently updated models from BMW that include the Z4, 5 Series and, most recently, the 6 Series Concept Coupe.

Smart Roadster set for possible comeback

July 26th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The internet has been ignited with rumours and speculation that the recent partnership between Mercedes-Benz and Renault may mean the long dead Smart Roadster will be revived. Apparently a source within Smart says the company has had its eyes on bringing the roadster back to market for some time now. Smart could be looking at branching out from its city car roots and the recent partnership with Renault may help things along. Renault has a host of experience producing inexpensive small cars that Smart could use to its advantage.

There’s no word on which Renault model Smart could use as the platform for the reborn Roadster, but there’s some indication that other products may be part of the company’s plans as well. There may even be a potential Mini Countryman competitor in the works, meaning that Smart could break into the CUV market. Either way, any new blood in the Smart portfolio is bound to help. Many drivers still aren’t prepared to make the kind of sacrifices that the Smart ForTwo requires, but an ultra-compact convertible may see serious sales.

Nissan 370Z Roadster 2010 Review

June 7th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Nissan’s Z cars have a lengthy history that’s been groundbreaking, if not always successful. It all kicked off back in the late 1960s when the 240Z was launched and changed the way the world viewed Japanese performance cars. Before this break-through vehicle Japanese sports cars were often seen as too small, uncomfortable and worse — underpowered. The 240Z threw that perception into its six-cylinder engine and burnt it up, but not every Z car since has been as well received. Now the new 370Z is the sixth vehicle to wear the iconic ‘Z’ badge and the coupe has received raving reviews, but can the roadster variant keep pace? Car and SUV spent some time with the 370Z’s soft-top sibling to find out if it’s pure Japanese sport car or just a very expensive hair dryer.

From the outside the Roadster isn’t a large departure from the Coupe: it’s brawny, bold and, while curvaceous, isn’t at all feminine. The 370Z has ironed out much of the awkwardness that the preceding 350Z was criticised for. The shark tooth look up front is purposeful and a long bonnet with raked back headlight clusters ooze style. At the rear it’s big booty time with a high deck and wide swollen guards that are pinched off by a nearly vertical rear bumper. With so much visual mass at the rear the 370Z is athletically stanced and possesses massive road presence. The look is finished off by perfectly matched 19″ Rays alloys and a Z badges on the front guards that moonlight as indicators.

When it comes to the roof, the 370Z looks better with it dropped, but it remains a commendable effort. It’s longer and tapers off more gradually than the roof on the 350Z roadster. It also uses a lined high-quality fabric rather than vinyl and houses a glass rear window. To lower or raise the roof requires no latches or manual input and is done with the push of a button by an electro-hydraulic system. It’s a busy affair as the roof clunks through its movements. It can also be performed from the outside of the car by holding down the door unlock button. There is a solid feel to the roof and its mechanism, once in place, up or down, there is no creaking or noise from any joining points.

Continue reading “Nissan 370Z Roadster 2010 Review” »

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