Opel Astra OPC hot hatch debuts in Europe

November 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Opel has unveiled its new Astra OPC known as the Vauxhall VXR in some markets. OPC stands for Opel Performance Centre and is the Euro brand’s in-house tuning division so this is the hottest Astra in the range.

The performance hatch is powered by a 2.0 litre turbocharged engine producing a huge 206 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque. These figures make it the most powerful Astra ever built and allow it a top speed of 250 km/h.

The large dose of power is sent exclusively to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. To help the hot hatch put that grunt to ground there’s a mechanical limited-slip differential on the front axle. The front suspension is a version of Opel’s ‘High Performance Strut’ suspension package and the car also comes with Opel’s adaptive suspension system FlexRide which includes a sports setting.

Visually the VXR is distinguished over its lesser kin by an aggressive body kit that includes aerodynamic front and rear bumpers, deep side skirting and a hatch spoiler. There’s also integrated dual exhaust outlets and XL-size alloy rims.  Continue reading “Opel Astra OPC hot hatch debuts in Europe” »

2012 BMW 3-Series – Officially Unveiled

October 17th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

After many rumours and great anticipation BMW has revealed its all-new 2012 3-Series at an event in Munich. Codenamed F30 the new model is the sixth generation of BMW’s luxury sedan. Since 1975 the 3-Series has sold more than 12 million units and has become the benchmark in its segment. So the stakes are high for this new model.

In terms of size the new 3-Series has grown by 93mm in length and the wheelbase (50mm) and track (37mm-47mm) have also seen increases. The design remains familiar and similar to the outgoing model but with noticeable progressions. There’s a sharper and longer character line running from the front wheel guard through to the rear tail-light and there’s a  higher, coupe-like rear deck with an upwards flick to the boot lid. Facial changes include a larger twin-kidney grille that meets the headlights for a more continuous appearance.

Inside the larger body allows for 15mm more legroom and 8mm more headroom for rear seat passengers. Cargo capacity in the boot is also increased but despite the larger body, numerous weight saving measures mean the new 3-Series is 40kg lighter (depending on version). Continue reading “2012 BMW 3-Series – Officially Unveiled” »

Kia Optima EX 2011 Review

September 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

First there were the days of Kia vehicles being a no-frills low cost alternative to the major Japanese brands, but that didn’t last. Kia then became a genuinely viable option against Japanese competitors albeit at a lower price point. But Kia isn’t content just to stop there and with models like the new Optima it’s making an ambitious play at moving ahead of the pack. However, getting the formula exactly right in medium sedan segment comes with a high degree of difficulty. Medium sedans aren’t increasing in popularity in this country so Kia is hedging its bets with a single model offering; the well equipped EX. Does this Korean cruiser have the mechanical package to back up its striking looks? After a week piloting the 2011 Optima, Car and SUV thinks so – here are the reasons why.

Exterior Design – Dead Set Stunner
The Optima’s dimensions and wheelbase are larger than its predecessor but its styling is much tighter. There’s plenty of Euro influence, from the chrome trim around the window line to the vents on the front wheel guards. The Optima also showcases the best elements of Kia’s current design language lead out by the now distinctive ‘tiger nose’ grille. Bordered with chrome the grille sits above a wrap-around lower intake, recessed fog lamps and LED running lights. A coupe-like roofline and scalloped lower door panels define the Optima’s flanks. Upswept C-pillars and an advanced stance finish off the dynamic bodywork.  Filling the guards are distinctive 18-inch alloys retained from the concept version of the Optima, they will divide opinion but are unique and certainly add extra bling. Continue reading “Kia Optima EX 2011 Review” »

Audi releases first images of A2 concept

September 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Audi has revealed the first batch of computer-enhanced photos of its electric A2 concept before its unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The eco-friendly concept is expected to provide the base for a production version scheduled to go on sale in the next two years.

Details are thin at this stage but it is thought that the new A2 will be built with both full electric and conventional petrol powerplants.

In terms of size the A2 concept is taller than Audi’s current A1 hatch but is shorter at 3,800mm and also narrower at 1,690mm. Despite its small dimensions Audi claims the A2 will be a genuine four-seater thanks to a flat floor, ultra-thin seats and the absence of a traditional dashboard with lower console. Continue reading “Audi releases first images of A2 concept” »

Volkswagen reveals single-seater Nils concept

September 6th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Volkswagen Group is backing small electric cars in the future with the proof being two ‘pod’ style concepts unveiled before the Frankfurt Auto Show.

Audi’s Urban concept features a two-seat configuration but VW’s recently revealed Nils concept is strictly a single seater. The tiny concept uses two polycarbonate gullwing doors (plus a rear hatch) in a unique shape that envisions a future style of transportation for European commuters.

The Nils weighs just 450kg and rides on four exterior wheels with individual guards. The concept is powered by a 15kW electric motor that allows a range of around 64 km, but it has a overboost feature which takes output up to 25kW. This can move the Nils from 0-100kph in 11 seconds, top speed is rated at 128kph. Continue reading “Volkswagen reveals single-seater Nils concept” »

Ford Evos Concept heralds future design language

August 31st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

After plenty of speculation, Ford has shown the special concept it will debut at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show. Named the Evos Concept, Ford has released images and details on this fastback coupe.

At this stage the Evos Concept is a design study but shows the aesthetic influences that Ford will take into its next-generation of products. Expect to see Ford’s headlights go smaller and more discreet, the grille become more vertical and body shapes to be even more raked back and sleek. The concept uses four gull wing doors to get access to the four-seat cabin.

“We wanted the Ford Evos Concept to give a clear message about where Ford design is heading – shaping vehicles that are fun to drive, have a strong premium visual appeal, and above all, are stunningly beautiful,” said J Mays, group vice president, Design and chief creative officer.

Inside, the concept there are hints at Ford’s upcoming interior design with a driver-oriented instrument panel and an inverted ‘L’ climate system. It’s more of a cockpit feel than previous Ford vehicles with touch-screen displays and individually adjustable sports seats. Continue reading “Ford Evos Concept heralds future design language” »

Mercedes-Benz unleashes C63 AMG Coupe Black Series

July 26th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mercedes-Benz has revealed details of the most potent C-Class ever built, the new C63 AMG Coupe Black Series.

The hardcore version of Mercedes’ C63 AMG Coupe shares the models same naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 engine but with plenty of mods. There’s forged pistons, conrods and crankshaft a larger oil cooler and a new ECU.  The end result is 380kw of peak power, 22kW more than the C63 AMG with Performance Package and max torque of 620Nm. Acceleration from 0-100km/h is crossed off in 4.2 seconds.

Power is sent to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual clutch AMG Speedshift transmission. The gearbox has four modes and a gear change time of just 100 milliseconds.

Mercedes has equipped the C63 AMG Coupe with an adjustable AMG coil-over sports suspension and upgraded AMG brakes. Filling the guards are  titanium grey forged 19-inch light-alloy wheels. An available option is the AMG Track Package which includes sports tyres and active rear-axle transmission cooling, plus the AMG Aerodynamics package that includes a specially tuned front splitter and an adjustable carbon-fibre rear aerofoil. Continue reading “Mercedes-Benz unleashes C63 AMG Coupe Black Series” »

Chevrolet’s hardcore Camaro ZL1 to come packing 425kW

July 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It looks like the horsepower wars are far from over in the States and may see Chevrolet’s new Camaro ZL1 released with a higher power output than was originally planned. The ZL1 (pictured) won’t reach American car dealerships until early next year, but fresh reports are claiming that power output for the pony car has been bumped up to more than 570 hp (425 kW).

When the ZL1 officially debuted at the Chicago Auto Show, GM said the supercharged 6.2-litre engine would have a max power output of approximately 550 hp (410 kW). That was all good until word came out that the 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 was expected to use a supercharged 5.8-litre V8 with up to 620 hp (462 kW). With Ford now throwing down the challenge, Chevrolet was left with little choice but to upgrade its hardcore ZL1, just to stay in the fight. Continue reading “Chevrolet’s hardcore Camaro ZL1 to come packing 425kW” »

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