October 9th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham
The 3 Series was once the smallest car in BMW’s range, but it’s put on some serious weight over the past few generations. So to meet demand for smaller vehicles, BMW has put a lot of work into creating smaller models to slot in below it. Reports now indicate that BMW is preparing a new 0 Series to bridge the gap between the 1 Series and the Mini.
According to recent reports, BMW will base the new 0 Series on the next Mini’s platform, which means it will break with company convention and go front-wheel-drive.
The new 0 Series is expected to arrive in three- and five-door hatchback body styles, and possibly be the base for a compact roadster as well. One reason for the 0 Series is to help the company bring down its environmental impact overall, while also offering premium buyers a smaller, more efficient package.
September 22nd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham
Porsche has never been a high volume automaker, and it probably never will be. But Porsche management feels it can go better than the disappointing 75,200 sales it had last year (ending July 2009), but the potential increase may be larger than many expect. Porsche CEO Michael Macht said in a recent interview that he believes Porsche could sell 150,000 vehicles per year, but sales won’t double on the backs of the current model range.
There are currently five vehicles in the Porsche lineup, with the four-door Panamera being the newest. Getting to 150,000 units would mean Porsche would have to create some all-new models. One way Porsche could increase volume is to finally build an entry-level sub-Boxster roadster that has been rumoured on several occasions over the past few years. The base model Porsche could bump sales by a considerable amount, but even more vehicles could be on the way.
One vehicle that Porsche is working hard on still has some time before it could affect production totals. Macht says the company is working an electrically-powered Porsche, but the automaker won’t release a battery-powered vehicle until it could recreate the sporty driving characteristics of Porsche’s petrol-powered vehicles.
September 17th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham
Mini has officially revealed the Roadster Concept alongside it’s new Coupe Concept (read news item) at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Like its hardtop stablemate the Roadster is strictly a two-seater with a chopped roofline and tilted back windscreen. This is almost certainly set to be the second new model that will be produced at MINI’s Oxford UK assembly plant alongside the Coupe.
Also like the Coupe, the Roadster makes extensive use of Mini family design cues and appears pretty much unchanged from the belt-line down compared to existing Minis. For the Roadster, the roll-bar structure has been moved forward so it sits directly behind the seats. This should improve the coupe’s structural rigidity, helping make the Roadster a more competent handler.
The front air dam of the Mini Roadster Concept looks seriously performance ready. And it should be, considering that Mini’s 175 horsepower turbocharged 1.6-litre engine will be even more willing to please in the smaller Roadster. Weight distribution has been improved, shuffling a bit more weight over the rear axle for more neutral behaviour. The slightly shorter layout and lower weight also helps handling, while power-to-weight ratio is improved, too.
Another functional advantage of the Roadster is increased boot space thanks to the missing back seat. The volume increases and the opening is now usably large, extending over the rear deck and down to the bumper. A lockable pass-through gap also allows a passenger to reach items banging round in the boot.
Aesthetically, the concept’s houndstooth-and-leather seating and gold striping show the concept won’t be all about performance.
A new multi-function screen display offers five new gimmicky indicators: the Nature Guard (how eco friendly you’re driving), Highspeed Shifter (when to shift for maximum power), Gravity Indicator (lateral and g-forces), Heart Beat (engine speed visualized by beating heart) and Buddy Radar (shows where other Mini drivers are).
It’s cute, it will go reasonably hard and there is no reason why the new Roadster won’t be a sales success when it reaches production.
September 14th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham
German automaker Wiesmann has been busy making drop-tops in 2009. It began with the 367-hp V8-powered MF4 Roadster unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show back in March. Now, Weismann is bringing another open-aired creation to the Frankfurt Motor Show, and it’s released a teaser shot in an attempt to get us all worked up before the big day.
Powered by the BMW M5/M6-derived V10, Weismann says the 507-hp MF5 Roadster will get to 100kph in under 4 seconds — the same as its fixed roof sibling — and can blast to a top speed of 308 kph.
Aside from the cloth roof, the body remains unchanged and all the standard equipment carries over to the Roadster, including the dual airbags, ABS and stability control. Weismann is only planning to produce 55 examples, so there’s little doubt they’ll find their way into enthusiastic collector’s garages.
September 11th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham
With all the leaked images and details leading up to the Frankfurt Motor Show, it’s not surprising this much anticipated model just popped up. The Audi R8 Spyder has arrived and it looks surprisingly good in a brave chocolate brown hue.
Currently there is no official information to accompany the images so many details are unknown but Audi will only be offering the Spyder with the Lambo-derived 5.2-liter V10, putting out 525 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque.
On the styling side, there’s not too much difference from its hard top sibling. Along with the removal of the roof, the sideblades have been dispatched in favor of a large set of scoops ahead of the rear wheels, while the windshield gets framed in brushed aluminum and a set of vented bulges trail backward from the two seats.
No images of the R8 with the top up are out yet, but more will be revealed at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show.
September 11th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham
It’s shaping up to be an all-out supercar showdown next week at the Frankfurt Motor Show. With the new McLaren MP4-12C and the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG — not to mention the Ferrari 458 Italia all being unveiled. Not to be left out Lamborghini will reportedly be showing off the roadster version of its million-plus dollar ReventÃ³n.
Images of the much anticipated drop-top have fond their way on to the web before the big show. Sporting the same stealth fighter-inspired angular bodywork as the hard top ReventÃ³n that was unveiled two years ago in Frankfurt, the new topless Lambo will reportedly make use of its all-wheel drive system to help the run to 100kph in just 3.4 seconds. Top speed is expected to be well over 320 kph, as expected from an Italian supercar packing a mid-mounted 650-horsepower V12 powerplant.
Check back for more official details as the Frankfurt show approaches.
September 7th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham
Mini has just announced that the Mini Coupe and another Mini model to be premiered at the Frankfurt Motor Show will go into production at the company’s Oxford plant. The currently unknown Mini is believed to be a new Mini roadster, but will be unveiled in the next couple of weeks.
The recently revealed Mini Coupe was designed to be the most agile model of the brand and is powered by the 1.6-litre turbocharged MINI John Cooper Works power train. It is strictly a two-seater with a low roof line and perfect axle load distribution.
UK Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said: “The production of the two new MINI models is very good news for Oxford, and for the UK car industry. It is a demonstration of BMW’s long term commitment to the UK as it celebrates its 50th birthday this year. “British drivers have had a long love affair with the MINI and I’m sure that this will continue for many years to come.”
Check back for more details on the new Mini Coupe and possible Mini Roadster when they are unveiled in Frankfurt.
August 21st, 2009 by Darren Cottingham
With the Frankfurt Motor Show only happening only once every other year, Germany’s automakers are sure to be there in full force to showing off their latest goods. Among the new Porsches and BMWs, niche automaker Wiesmann will also be debuting its new limited production MF5 Roadster.
Taking the best attributes from the MF4 Roadster and the MF5 GT, the MF5 Roadster utilises the 507-horsepower V10 engine from the BMW M5 and M6 and jams it into a lightweight retro-style roadster body for what promises to be an exciting driving experience. The sprint to 100 km/h arrives in only 3.9 seconds before the light-weight roadster tops out at 310 km/h.
Only 55 examples will be built, and sold at a list price of â‚¬189,500.