2007 Vauxhall VXR8 Looks Like the 2008 Pontiac G8 to Us

You can tell that they're itching to mention cricket. And we're absolutely certain that more than once over the next three days a muttered "Pommie bastard" will be bitterly gulped back.But we're down here in Australia to drive the Vauxhall VXR8, and we're not going to let the Aussie contempt for an English writer like us get in the way of driving this 411-horsepower sedan. It spins its rear tires hard enough to choke the boys from Down Under with tire smoke, and we can't wait until it's magically transformed into the 2008 Pontiac G8.

So we'll get through the smack about cricket from the Aussies and just drive the car. At least the Aussies like beer, so we should get along when the driving is all done.

The Sun Never Sets on the (GM) Empire
GM's Bob Lutz promised everyone at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show that a version of this Australian-built car is coming to the States next year as the 2008 Pontiac G8, and we're betting that the Vauxhall version meant for Britain might give us some clues about the way GM will refine the package for America.

2007 Vauxhall VXR8

The fundamentals of the 2007 Vauxhall VXR8 are based on the all-new Holden Commodore VE, a car designed from scratch inside Holden HQ at Fisherman's Bend just outside Melbourne. The Commodore was launched last year in Australia and has subsequently been draped with laurels by the local rags. But the Commodore is merely the foundation for the VXR8, something like your basic 5 Series or E-Class before all the good stuff is added.

The final car is the Holden Commodore SS, a product of Holden Special Vehicles (HSV), the Aussie firm's version of BMW's M Division or Mercedes-Benz AMG. Visually, the front end gets flared wheel arches with distinctive vents stuck to the trailing edges, an Opel styling device we've seen lately on the Saturn Vue. At the back, the VXR8 has ultrabright LED rings for the brake lights. There's also a rear aero diffuser and a big rear wing, although these are more style statements than technology honed in the wind tunnel. (What do you expect from the Aussies?)

Although the VXR8 looks a bit narrow like so many Aussie big sedans of the past, you get inside and you've got as much elbow- and legroom as a 7 Series or S-Class. The interior has clearly stolen some "inspiration" from Audi in the design of its switchgear, and this extends right down to the ignition key. And yet the VXR8 still doesn't give you the tactile quality of its German competitors, although the flat-bottomed steering wheel is very nice to hold and feels just the right size.

Everything Seems Bigger in Australia
The VXR8 gets GM's 6.0-liter LS2 V8 and that's a very good thing. It's a splendidly bullish engine, big and powerful by nature and utterly different from the lean, toned, European-built V8s. You can't help but like it. This V8 pumps out 411 hp at 6,000 rpm and 405 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm.

Despite the abundance of big, V8-powered super saloons in Australia, they seem largely pointless because the speed limits are tighter than Dame Edna's undercrackers. (She's on Aussie TV, you know.) The test route takes us down the Great Ocean Road, the most fabulous stretch of swooping, cambered tarmac. It rises and falls behind the beaches (one of them Bells Beach, where they filmed the last scene of surfing in Point Break), and along the cliffs of Victoria's coastline.

2007 Vauxhall VXR8

But we're in convoy, about eight cars nose to tail, pootling along at a gnawingly painful 50 mph. Everyone is understandably slightly nervous after the repeated warnings about police potentially skulking around every corner, but it still feels as distressing as drinking alcohol-free lager.

After one particularly fantastic stretch, we decide that enough is enough. We haven't seen a cop for the last 10 miles and caution seems due for throwing to the wind, so we duck out of our place in the middle of the queue, make a swift U-turn and head back along the empty road.

Shrink To Fit
As you begin to attack a road rather than just cruise, the VXR8 instantly does a very impressive trick; it seems to shed half its bulk and shrink around you.

The steering is key to this. It's wonderfully precise and accurate, giving you real confidence in the front end, which tacks into corners with remarkably little inertia given that there's a whacking great bent-8 in front of you. The steering effort feels a touch light once you dial in some lock, but there's plenty of feel for what the 19-inch Bridgestone RE050s are doing. You've got big, black 245/40R19s in front and big, black 275/35R19s in the rear. (More money brings you optional 245/R3520s in front and 275/30R20s in the rear.)

2007 Vauxhall VXR8

The Tremec M10 six-speed manual remains a chunky gearbox but the lever throw between ratios now seems considerably shorter and less ponderous. The only slight complaint is that 2nd gear feels just a little too short. Sixty mph comes up in 4.9 seconds, and the smooth six-speed auto only dents the acceleration time by a tenth.

No Cliff Diving, Please
Cliffs are a constant presence on the Great Ocean Road, either as a huge, unyielding red barrier against which to wipe out, or as a huge, vertical precipice from which to drop off. Confidence-inspiring brakes are a must. Happily, the VXR8's vented, grooved discs are big, with 14.4-inch rotors in front and 14.2-inch rotors in the rear. The four-piston calipers come from AP Racing.

The brakes need a little heat in them to do their best, but they never once grumbled in 20 minutes of wiping chunks of speed from 4,037 pounds of hard-charging Vauxhall. They look good, too, amply filling the 19-inch cast-alloy wheels. Given the somewhat narrow parameters of the road, it's also amazing how friendly the VXR8 is. It eats straights alarmingly quickly, but when you arrive at the corners you never worry about the fact that you're hustling and sliding nearly 2 tons of car.

2007 Vauxhall VXR8

Barrel into a corner on the limit and the front will push a little to let you know where you are, but after that it's up to you. You can make the car flow, shimmying across the surface through direction changes. Or if the chance is there, you can light up the rear tires and indulge in a chassis that's wonderfully easy to powerslide. It's fluid, poised and predictable, reminiscent of BMW's best, and gives you the confidence to really grab it by the scruff of the neck.

Even Better With Magna-Ride
The only time the VXR8 starts to struggle is when you really load up its suspension. On some wickedly cambered corners, the progressive-rate springs can start to feel overwhelmed as the suspension travel is used up. Also, small imperfections in the pavement make you think there's more of a party going on under the wheel arches than there should be.

2007 Vauxhall VXR8

There is a potential answer to this. Higher-spec Commodore HSVs come with Magna-Ride dampers, like those used by the Corvette C6. They give you the option of two settings: one for comfort on Sunday mornings and the other a track mode in which the damping is controlled with more satisfying conviction although you lose a smidgen of feel.

Coming Soon to Pontiac
GM's Bob Lutz first let the world know that Australia's Holden Commodore SS will be transformed into the 2008 Pontiac G8 back in January. We gathered more details at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show and confirmed that the Holden-developed, rear-drive Zeta chassis that underpins the Commodore will become the core of not only the Pontiac G8 but also the 2009 Chevy Camaro.

Now that we've had a chance to drive two versions of the new car — the Holden Commodore SS and the Vauxhall VXR8 — we're even more convinced that the 2008 Pontiac G8 will prove to be worth waking for.

2007 Vauxhall VXR8

We'll let those Aussies get away with anything as long as they build cars like this.

[source: Edmunds]


Honda’s running robot makes European debut

The latest generation of Honda’s humanoid robot, ASIMO, has made its European debut in Barcelona. The new ASIMO incorporates several significant technological advancements over its predecessors, including a more streamlined design, even more fluid and quick movements and the ability to run at almost 6 km/h (4 mph). The agile robot also has several other new mobility and intelligence capabilities. “The previous generation of ASIMO amazed people with the fluidity of its movements,” said William De Braekeleer, Corporate PR Manager, Honda Motor Europe. “The new ASIMO takes this mobility and interaction with people to the next level and moves Honda one step closer to its ultimate goal of developing a robot that can be a helper to people in need.”ASIMO is developed by Honda engineers in a variety of locations across the globe, but Honda’s European Research Institute is making a particularly significant contribution to enhancing the robot’s intelligence capabilities. Based in Offenbach, Germany, the Honda Research Institute currently works in partnership with 17 European universities and research centres in the development of intelligent systems and cognitive intelligence. The European debut was held during II Jornades de Robòtica at the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park and organised in partnership with the Barcelona City Council as part of the city’s ‘Year of Science’ activities. The new ASIMO will be in Barcelona until 29 September where it will be performing a number of special shows for the general public and the city’s school children. On 28 September, the robot’s educational role in inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers will be highlighted at Nit de la Recerca, the European Commission’s ‘Researchers in Europe’ event, which aims to raise the profile of European researchers and scientists.


New Mondeo is latest Ford model with top safety rating

The new Ford Mondeo has won a 5-star rating for adult occupant protection in the latest round of Euro NCAP safety testing announced today. The test result for Mondeo was one of the top 10 ever recorded in the respected independent crash testing evaluations.Mondeo joins three other Ford models – Focus, Galaxy and S-MAX – on the Euro NCAP top 10 list, reinforcing Ford of Europe's position as the manufacturer with the highest number of vehicles in the top 10 for adult occupant protection. Mondeo scored 35 points for adult occupant protection to win its 5-star rating, the maximum rating awarded by Euro NCAP. Mondeo also achieved a very good 4-star rating for child occupant protection, and was designated 2-star for pedestrian protection. “With each new model, our quest is for the ultimate safety performance. This latest Euro NCAP 5-star rating for the new Mondeo is a further validation of our holistic approach to engineering safety into Ford vehicles, and the strength of our Ford Intelligent Protection System,” said Gisbert Gaeb, Manager, Vehicle Safety, Ford of Europe. “It demonstrates emphatically that the work we devote to optimising the safety of Ford vehicles really pays off where it counts in a family car like Mondeo with significant protection for adults and children alike.”


Peugeot hasn’t moved the game on in as many areas as we’d hoped

The Peugeot has a very well judged blend of ride and handling, even on models with wide 17-inch wheels. The steering is taut, it’s capable through corners and feels one of the most mature cars in its class. It’s just not much fun, and the drivetrain needs to be slicker to be genuinely user-friendly; the gearbox is extremely poor, with a vague shift, and the clutch bite is high. We’d also advise choosing a diesel-engined 308; both 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre HDi units are smooth and torquey, whereas the non-turbo petrol units are gutless. Even the 1.6-litre 120 (developed with BMW and used in the MINI Cooper) fails to feel alive or even slightly energetic, though it does remain composed and quiet. Much more impressive is the 1.6-litre turbo 150, particularly as it’s also able to officially average 40mpg.

The 308 is an example of evolution, not revolution. It’s virtually identical to its 307 predecessor, and they also share the same floorpan and wheelbase – it’s not an all-new car. it’s a little larger than the 307, but most of the gains have been added to the nose. Peugeot offers the family hatch in three-door and five-door guise, with a line-up of Urban, S, SE, Sport and GT models; there are two different designs for the front and rear, depending on whether the trim is ‘classic’ or ‘sport’. Fierce competition comes from the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, Vauxhall Astra and Honda Civic, while national rivals Citroen and Renault will also deal hard on the C4 and Megane.

Peugeot 308

Peugeot concentrated on improving interior quality for the 308 – and it’s been successful. The centre console, white dials and shapely steering wheel give a sense of quality, while the soft-touch plastics are smart. However, rear passenger room is little better than the 307, while the boot sill is very high and the 348-litre load volume disappointing. In order to fold the rear seats, the front chairs have to be slid forward; it’s clear practicality was not at the top of Peugeot’s agenda. However, with the glass roof that’s standard on SE and Sport models, the cabin is beautifully light and airy; the effect is best experienced from the rear. Sadly, the Peugeot’s running costs let it down. It’s expensive, retained values aren’t great and fuel economy of hard-driven petrol engines is poor. At least service intervals are lengthy – up to 20,000 miles between checks.
Peugeot 308 Peugeot 308

[source: AutoExpress]

Ohter Peugeot Cars
+ Car Review: Peugeot 308 2.0 HDi 136 GT
+ In Flux: Peugeot Flux concept coming to 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show
+ 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show Preview: Citroen C5 Airscape - full details, hi-res gallery
+ Drive Experience: Citroen C-Crosser Exclusive HDi
+ Peugeot asks, "Parlez-vous TT?" with 308 RC Z Coupe Concept
+ Peugeot's 4007 Off-Roader Has Car-Like Handling And A Torquey, Refined Engine
+ Citroen's 2CV is back!
+ First Drives Experience-Peugeot 207 GTi

Alfa Males Choose Scarlett Johansson for the Dream Drive

Film beauty Scarlett Johansson and the stunning Alfa 8C Competizione supercar have both come top of a poll carried out by the prestige and performance motor show MPH ’07 and the 4Car website, to find the perfect car and passenger of our dreams. Johansson received 23% of the vote and narrowly beat the recently crowned sexiest woman in the world, Jessica Alba (22%), to the passenger seat. Renowned for their unbelievably sexy and curvaceous looks, it seems that the Lost in Translation star and the new Alfa 8C Competizione are a match made in heaven but unfortunately most of us are unlikely to get our hands on either.It seems that when it comes to the perfect passenger, women truly are on top, with the first five positions being taken by female passengers – third place Jodie Kidd (14%) was followed by Cameron Diaz (13%) and fifth place Eva Longoria (10%). The crown for most popular male passenger was shared by MPH ’07 presenters Jeremy Clarkson (7%) and The Stig (7%), who were the victors over heartthrobs Lewis Hamilton (2%), David Beckham (1%), and Daniel Craig (1%). The Alfa 8C Competizione blew its competition out of the water, scooping a remarkable 30% of the vote. Its closest rivals included the 253mph Bugatti Veyron (13%), the hardcore Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera (9%) and the iconic McLaren F1 (11%). All of which are planned to be on show at this year’s MPH Motor Show at London’s Earls Court and Birmingham’s NEC in November. Under the control of the troublesome trio – Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May - MPH ’07 promises to be one of the main highlights of any petrol head’s calendar this year, bringing outrageous motoring theatre action together with arena parades and galleries bursting with the fastest and most prestigious cars on the planet.


Kia cee’d five-star winner is a real Safety Car

The Euro NCAP five-star rated cee’d has proven it’s a safe car in more ways than one – it has been employed as an official Safety Car at a number of motor racing circuits around the UK. The job of a Safety Car is to intervene in serious and dangerous incidents during races to control the pace of the cars or motor cycles until the incident is resolved. It’s a tough role, but the Kia cee’d is up to it.Building on the inherently stiff and dynamic chassis, few changes were needed to make the cee’d more circuit friendly. Uprated suspension and a wheel and tyre package have made the cee’d Safety Car even more dynamic than the acclaimed standard package. The UK’s Motor Sports Association (MSA) has detailed regulations for the lighting fitted to Safety Cars. Consultation with vehicle lighting specialists, Vision Alert, resulted in an ultra hi-tech and low weight amber LED based package which met the MSA criteria. Despite having good road manners and independent suspension all round, a rare attribute within the C-segment, the cee’d Safety Car was upgraded further to help with the high speed demands of the job. The suite of modifications also lowers the car by around 20mm with the help of leading suspension company, Eibach. A colour-coded rear spoiler and black 18-inch Rimstock alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport tyres complete the look. The standard cee’d braking system was initially earmarked for upgrades to cope with the increased speeds and repeated harsh braking of circuit life, however initial tests proved that the standard disc brakes fitted to each corner are more than up to the task. The cee’d Safety Car package has recently been seen at Silverstone and Castle Combe making safe numerous situations during car and motor cycle races. Spokesman for Castle Combe race circuit, Rodney Gooch, said: ‘The cee’d has proven extremely popular with the Safety Team, competitors and spectators alike. The car has been called into action quite a few times already and it has earned its wings in extreme conditions proving to be quick and dynamic in the most demanding of situations. No doubt – this is a very capable car.’ Paul Philpott, Managing Director, Kia Motors (UK) Ltd, said: ‘Thanks to the independent suspension cee’d lends itself to the dynamic circuit environment quite easily. The Safety Car is a demonstration that if a ‘warmer’ cee’d came along it would certainly have The Power to Surprise.’

Brabus Ultimate 112 based on smart fortwo 2008

(from Brabus Press Release) The exterior is custom-painted a flaming mother-of-pearl/orange color, the interior is upholstered in black BRABUS leather and Alcantara with orange seams, and it has lots of power under the hood: BRABUS (www.brabus.com) presents the limited-edition special model BRABUS ULTIMATE 112 at the Frankfurt International Auto Show IAA 2007. The ULTIMATE 112 is based on the smart fortwo and is a true city sports car. And as such it represents a unique combination of extravagant equipment, sporty performance and agile handling.

2008 Brabus Ultimate 112 based on smart fortwo2008 Brabus Ultimate 112 based on smart fortwo 22008 Brabus Ultimate 112 based on smart fortwo 32008 Brabus Ultimate 112 based on smart fortwo 4In addition to the custom paint the BRABUS ULTIMATE 112 sets itself further apart with a muscular body kit that includes a front spoiler, rocker panels and BRABUS WIDESTAR fender flares front and back.

The large wheel houses offer ample space for a tire/wheel combination that is highly unusual for a car of this size: The glossy black BRABUS Monoblock VI double-spoke wheels are mounted on the front axle in size 7Jx18 with size 205/35 R 18 high-performance tires. In the rear 8.5Jx18 wheels with size 235/30 R 18 tires provide plenty of grip to transfer the power of the engine to the road.

Specially calibrated to these ultra-low-profile tires and the wider track is the height-adjustable BRABUS coil-over suspension that combines direct, safe and sporty handling with great ride comfort.

With these modifications the ULTIMATE 112 offers the perfect platform for the powerful BRABUS three-cylinder turbo engine. As the exclusive special model’s name reveals, the engine produces 112 PS (110 hp) / 82.4* kW at 5,750 rpm. Even more important for everyday driving is the for this vehicle class exceptional peak torque of 150 Nm (111 lb-ft), available over a wide rev range from 2,800 to 4,200 rpm.

Shifting in the BRABUS ULTIMATE 112 is done either automatically or with steering-wheel paddles just like in Formula 1 racing. The paddles are mounted to an ergonomically shaped BRABUS sport steering wheel.

With sprint times from 0 – 60 km/h (0–37 mph) in 3.9 seconds and 0 – 100 km/h (0-62 mph) of 9.5 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 170 km/h (106 mph) the convertible also sets the performance benchmarks in its class.

This performance is accompanied acoustically by the BRABUS stainless-steel sport exhaust and its dual tailpipes made from cast aluminum.

Exquisite highlights also abound in the interior of the ULTIMATE 112: The especially soft and breathable black BRABUS Mastik leather is stitched with orange seams.

The BRABUS interior concept includes embossed BRABUS emblems as well as instrument panel, instrument bezels, tach, speedometer, clock, turn-signal lever and door handles, all color-coordinated with the exterior. Stainless-steel foot pedals with anti-slip padding together with an aluminum shifter and emergency brake lever add touches of racing atmosphere.

A climate control system, radio and a navigation system are also part of the standard equipment of this open two-seater.

The BRABUS ULTIMATE 112 is being built in a limited-edition series of just 112 cars, each sporting a consecutively numbered placard in the interior. The BRABUS ULTIMATE 112 sells for 45,900 Euros MSRP.

© Source: seriouswheels
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VW Tiguan the whole Story.


Vivienne Westwood and Bentley Motors join together again for a spectacular exhibition at the Palazzo Reale in Milan

At first sight, a couture dress and a luxury car might not seem to have much in common, but they share the spirit in which they were both created: a passion for detail and craft, a sense of personality and style and a visionary quality grounded in an understanding of tradition. So it is no small surprise that England´s great fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and Bentley Motors were destined to meet. Both brands first joined forces last year for the exhibition “Vivienne Westwood Shoes 1973 – 2006” held at the Castello Visconteo Sforzesco of Vigevano, just outside Italy´s style capital Milan.This year these two quintessentially British marques have joined once again to create a fascinating venue blending extravagance and elegance, on view during the upcoming Milan Fashion Week. Vivienne Westwood and Bentley Motors will collaborate for the designer’s highly anticipated exhibition at the Palazzo Reale in Milan from 26 September 2007. This show, representing a singular retrospective of her work to date, was first shown at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and is now on tour. The special bond between the doyenne of English fashion and Bentley Motors could recently be admired during an exclusive event celebrating the exhibition sponsored by the sophisticated car manufacturer in Düsseldorf during the German Fashion Week, enhancing a partnership based on individual flair and a sense of daring lines that has since enjoyed a resounding success with lovers of high fashion and high performance cars alike. At the event to be held in Milan, Bentley Milano will showcase a magnificent bright yellow 1992 Bentley Continental convertible in the Piazzetta Reale, presented in front of the Palazzo Reale. This timeless, enticing and exclusive motor car will provide a fitting highlight to the unconventional spirit, so often ahead of its time, that is the signature of Vivienne Westwood’s creations. For the duration of the designer’s visit to Milan, the British car manufacturer will offer Vivienne Westwood a Bentley Continental Flying Spur to use when she is in the city, and she will also be able to take a seat in another acclaimed icon of car couture from Bentley, the Continental GTC – the latest cabriolet launched by the legendary car maker and in itself a study in stylish mobility. The exhibition will open with the Women’s Fashion Week and will close with the Men's Fashion Week in February 2008.

Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi Premium

It's the company which gave Land Rover a fright when it launched the Freelander-rivalling Sante Fe. Now Hyundai is seeking to do the same to the Focus with the new i30.Auto Express has already driven the entry-level version of the Korean compact family car, but this is our first chance to put the 1.6-litre diesel to the test.

Setting itself apart from its sister car – the Kia Cee’d – the i30 gets a unique grille, neater headlights with snappy blue-rimmed bulbs and bold tail-lights that stretch to the roofline.

Compared to Peugeot’s 308 and Fiat’s Bravo it won’t win any prizes for beauty, but its respectable looks are a big improvement on ageing Hyundais such as the Accent and Elantra.

Brightening things up further are the 17-inch alloy wheels of the range- topping Premium specification model tested here. Entry-level Comfort versions get 15-inch alloys, while mid-spec Style offers 16-inch wheels.
Although the 17-inchers look good, together with the firm suspension they help to make the i30 feel rather stiff over bumps.
Hyundai i30 Hyundai i30
However, the pay-off is decent handling, with good grip and limited body roll. In fact, only the steering lets things down – it has a strong self-centring effect and is sloppy around the straight-ahead. Still, there are no problems under the bonnet. The all-new 116bhp 1.6-litre CRDi turbodiesel is the best engine in the range, which also includes 1.4 and 1.6 petrols and a 2.0-litre diesel. The smaller oil-burner has lots of torque for overtaking, decent refinement and excellent economy at 60mpg.

Inside, the Premium model is brimming with equipment, including climate control, reversing sensors and heated front seats. And like all i30s, it gets a USB port for iPods and other MP3 players, too. However, while the dashboard and centre console are clearly laid out with neat dials and blue-backed displays, some of the plastics feel hard to the touch and the leather is cheap and has a shiny finish.

Space is generous, though, with as much room in the rear as a Focus or Vauxhall Astra. There’s also 340 litres of bootspace, made even more usable thanks to a standard luggage net.

So is it worth shelling out the extra for the Premium? That depends on how much kit you need. The Style version does without a few of its luxuries but it still comes with essentials such as air-conditioning, a punchy stereo and, of course Hyundai’s five-year unlimited mileage warranty. And it costs £13,995, which is £1,600 less. The only potential fly in the ointment is the Cee’d, which has a seven-year warranty. Apart from that, there is nothing to touch the i30. Which means manufacturers like Ford should be very worried indeed.
Hyundai i30 Hyundai i30
Even in entry-level Style trim, which offers few of the luxuries that come as standard on the i30, the Focus costs £15,795. And although its leads the way in terms of dynamics and quality, it can’t match the Hyundai’s warranty.

[source: AutoExpress]


Frankfurt Motor Show 2007: Small Cars and a Big Mini

Suddenly, being small is big news at the Frankfurt auto show. And like surly subway riders during the morning commute, car manufacturers are busy elbowing their way into the city-car market.

In a prelude to the brand’s arrival next year in the United States, Mercedes-Benz’s Smart division showed new diesel and electric-powered versions of its two-passenger Fortwo model.

Volkswagen introduced the Up! concept car, a sign that it’s officially returning to its small car roots. VW was light on the specifics of this 135.8-inch hatchback, but the company did admit that the four-passenger Up! is rear-wheel drive. Should the Up! reach production (and this seems very likely) it would be the first rear-wheel drive small Volkswagen since the original Beetle.

Small car fever isn’t limited to the Germans. Fiat has an elaborate display dedicated to its successful new 500 model, and Toyota unveiled its edgy iQ concept car. Even beleaguered Ford is displaying a stylish new small hatchback called the Verve. A size or two larger than cars like the Fortwo and Up!, the handsome Verve shows that Ford is serious about revamping its small cars – at least in Europe.

Mini Clubman

Ironically, as all these manufacturers jostle to introduce tiny cars, the auto company whose name is synonymous with small is now thinking big.

BMW’s Mini brand is using Frankfurt to showcase the production version of the new Mini Clubman, a pint-size wagon. At 156.4 inches long, the Clubman is roughly 10 inches longer than the regular Mini Cooper. The Clubman has a novel split “barn door” rear tailgate, rather than the single-piece hatch of the Mini Cooper. Each of the Clubman’s two rear doors has its own wiper and exterior handle. There is even a passenger-side-only, rear-opening half-door. Mini calls this the clubdoor. I call it a smart idea, as it allows easier access to the roomier back seat. With all these clever doors, does the Mini Clubman qualify as the world’s first 4.5-door wagon?

More importantly: Why Mini would risk sacrificing its “think small” brand ethos by introducing a less-mini Mini. The answer: bigger sales and profits. According to Mini, the Clubman wagon will help push yearly sales of all Minis past 240,000 in 2008. The Clubman arrives in showrooms later this year.

[source: nytimes]

More Excellent Car in 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show:
+ Frankfurt Motor Show 2007: Huffenpuff Edition (Random, funny and cool stuff)+ Frankfurt Motor Show 2007: Mercedes-Benz A-Class Edition 10 anniversary edition+ Frankfurt Motor Show 2007: Volkswagen's production Tiguan graces the stage+ Frankfurt Motor Show 2007: Carlsson Aigner CK65 Eau Rouge+ Frankfurt Auto Show 2007: Novitec Ferrari F430 TuNero+ Frankfurt Auto Show 2007: Fräuleins of Frankfurt

Chinese cars crash tests (videos)

One of our visitors sent us a crash test video of the new Chinese car called Brilliance BS6. The car in the crash test was completely destroyed and it achieved only one of possible five stars in the Euro NCAP safety rating. So, we've decided to dig deeper and find out how other Chinese cars crash tests look like. We were stunned how these cars crash, it's like they were made out of paper. A person crashing any of these car at 40MPH would likely not survive. 2007 Brilliance BS6 crash test Chery Amulet crash test Jiangling Landwind crash test Jiangling Landwind crash test - Cabin View Chery QQ crash test


Bentley Continental GTC Birkin Edition from MTM

Bentley Continental GTC Birkin Edition from MTM
The Bentley Continental GTC is One of the most beautiful ways to drive "topless". Nevertheless, Motorentechnik Mayer has a number of tuning measures up its sleeve which accentuate its strenghts without distorting its character. For example, besides a compact attachment at the rear, no measures are implemented that might detract from the elegant appearance of the Continental GTC. MTM was not looking to alter the characteristic and unmistakable shape. To add the finishing touch, the Bavarian tuning specialist equips this British car with a set of chunky 21 inch bimoto alloy wheels. However, a great deal more is going on beneath the bodywork of a Bentley Continental GTC from MTM. For this reason the Continental GTC is not only one of the most beautiful ways but also one of the fastest ways to drive „topless".MTM supplies various performance kits. The spectrum ranges from optimized programming of the control electronics through to the complete conversion of the engine unit. All the versions have been developed by MTM on its proprietary dynamometers and thoroughly tested in road and racing use. 560 bhp as standard and a top speed of 318 km/h should actually suffice for the highways of this world. But MTM always aspires to the maximum. In an initial power class, MTM boosts the power of the 12 cylinder engine by recalibrating the engine electronics to 635 bhp / 467 kW and the torque to an impressive 780 Nm. With the second performance kit, MTM conjures up to 650 bhp / 478 kW out of this large 6-liter W12 engine, which then generates a staggering 795 Nm with ease instead of the already impressive 650 Nm of the production version. The 2.5 ton blockbuster converts this increased torque in 4.2 seconds for the sprint from "zero to hundred" (series: 4.8 s). A small world lies between the series and MTM top speed. On the high-speed Nardo oval in Italy, where the 300 km/h+ elite meet up every year for a showdown, the MTM-modified coupe version of the GTC, the GT, produced proven 331 km/h, making it the fastet Bentley ever built! Given the same power, the MTM Continental GTC is therefore one of the fastest ways to drive „topless". The Continental GTC is allowed to make this increased power public by means of an MTM exhaust system from the catalytic converter, including a center and end muffler with throttle control. The exhaust system is included in power class II. The MTM exhaust systems are developed on a dyno. The crucial factor in the development is to ensure a maximum level of throughput and performance whilst abiding by the legally prescribed noise limit values. By means of an intelligent choice of material, namely high-grade, polished stainless steels, MTM achieves a low-weight design, which offers maximum durability at the same time.
Bentley Birkin Edition
A 4-pipe rear apron visual effect is available both for the sound-optimized MTM exhaust system and for the standard-fitted exhaust system. When it comes to suspension systems, Bentley has always drawn on unlimited resources. Nevertheless, to lend this high-performance car a sportier look, MTM is offering an electronically lowered suspension by means of a complex reprogramming of the software. In this regard, the calibration developed in Nardo and Hockenheim ensures a maximum level of ride comfort and the necessary residual spring travel is retained by the solution offered by MTM. The sportier look obtained by lowering the suspension harmonizes perfectly with the MTM "bimoto" wheel rims, which MTM supplies for the front and rear axle in the dimension 10.5x21" ET40 LK 5x112 in the variants "Diamond Cut" and "shiny silver". Needless to say, MTM also supplies the rims as a complete set of wheels. They are combined with Dunlop tires in the size 285/30. The MTM alloy rim has been developed to ensure the problem-free fitting of the MTM sports braking systems.
MTM Bentley Continental

New Audi models for the stars of FC Barcelona

As players of one of the world’s best teams, Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi or Thierry Henry are not easily shaken. But whenever they receive the keys to their new cars from vehicle partner Audi the eyes of even these seasoned football stars start shining. Today was another such occasion: At the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona Ralph Weyler, Member of the Board for Marketing and Sales of AUDI AG, handed their new “company cars” over to the athletes. Audi and FC Barcelona have been partners since the past football season. The favourite product chosen from the sporty model range of the brand in Ingolstadt was again the Audi Q7.Before the official hand-over of the vehicles in Barcelona, where the DTM is staging its penultimate race on Sunday, the footballers experienced the fascination of the Audi models in a special way: They had the chance to complete a few fast laps in the new Audi R8 sports car and proved to be as sporty as safe in their driving style. No wonder, after all, the two Audi factory drivers Mattias Ekström and Tom Kristensen had shared a few tips and tricks with the footballers. The favourite for the champion’s title from Sweden and the seven-time winner of Le Mans accompanied the driver safety training which Audi had arranged for the players of FC Barcelona and chauffeured part of the team around the circuit in an Audi A4 DTM race taxi. The footballers and the racers had already met the night before: Mattias Ekström and Tom Kristensen attended the Champions League home match of FC Barcelona against Olympique Lyon at Camp Nou, Europe’s largest football stadium. “To watch this team play together with a crowd of 80,000 was an impressive experience,“ raved football fan Kristensen after the home victory.


Britain's newest supercar entrant: Farbio GTS

Farbio. Not sold on the name, but we're sure there's a good reason behind it. Someone from the English sports car maker will email us and tell us that it's the maiden name of owner Chris Marsh's beloved grandmother or something, so we won't mock it, just state that it doesn't roll off the tongue. Besides, why would we want to upset the maker of such a nicely turned out car as the Farbio GTS?

There are two versions of the mid-engined sportster: fast and faster. Fast is the 262HP GTS, which can run to 60MPH in 4.8 seconds thanks to its 3-liter V6. Faster sees the V6 fitted with a supercharger, boosting the horsepower by over 100 to 384, and shaving 9 tenths off the 0-60 time, which drops to 3.9 seconds. No new ground is broken when it comes to styling, but that's not to say it's ugly, either. The GTS is reminiscent of several of our favorite cars, and the lines are trim and simple. Inside the carbon fiber shell is plenty of comfort with leather and alcantara, a nav system, and enough room for a 6' 6" driver in the Sparco seats. There's even decent storage space in the rump, so you could go grand touring for a weekend with actual luggage. Orders are backed up for the next 8 months, so you'll have time to save.
Farbio GTS

Farbio GTS Farbio GTS Farbio GTS Farbio GTS Farbio GTS Farbio GTS Farbio GTS Farbio GTS Farbio GTS Farbio GTS Farbio GTS Farbio GTS
[Source: World Car Fans]


Frankfurt Motor Show 2007: Mazda RX-8 Special Edition

Mazda presented yet another commemorative version of the RX8 in order to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Mazda Rotary Engine. To be honest, most people –Carscoop included, were occupied with the new Mazda6 and no one gave any attention to the Special Edition RX8, which features minor visual and chassis refinements. Available exclusively in two exterior colours (Metropolitan Grey & Crystal White Pearl), the Special Edition RX8 gets new 10-spoke 18-inch alloys, blue- light fog lamps and 40th anniversary emblems. On the inside, the Special Edition RX-8 features bi-color seats ( light grey Alcantara in the centre and black leather at the sides), parking brake lever and shift lever cover with special stitching and a new silver shift knob center. Additionally, the Special Edition also has body shell cross members ?lled with polyurethane foam for more quiet operation than the original and a sports suspension with special springs and Bilstein dampers.Mazda RX-8 Special Edition

Mazda RX-8 Special Edition Mazda RX-8 Special Edition Mazda RX-8 Special Edition Mazda RX-8 Special Edition

Mazda RX-8 Special Version

Celebrating Mazda’s Rotary Tradition

? Two special body colours, wheel design and 40th anniversary emblem

? Special seat/trim materials, leather stitching and silver shift knob

? Foam-?lled cross member and sports suspension with Bilstein dampers

As it did with the MX-5 roadster in 1989, Mazda changed customer expectations of what an affordable sports car should be when it launched the Mazda RX-8 in 2003. It rede?ned the Mazda sports car with a strong and sporty Zoom-Zoom design that visually shows its performance potential. It created a new class of four-seater sports cars by resurrecting the centre-opening door system – a feature that is just as fresh and innovative today as it was four years ago. And under the bonnet was the naturally- aspirated RENESIS rotary engine. This engine won the International Engine of the Year award in 2003 along with three other category awards in both 2003 and 2004.

Since Mazda RX-8 came to market, Mazda has dominated sales in the European non-premium sports car segment with a share consistently around 18 percent (combined RX-8 and Mazda MX-5 sales).

The Special Edition RX-8

Based on a special version concept presented at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and following the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the rotary engine, Mazda Motor Corporation is issuing a Special Edition RX-8 (depending on market) that adds components to the chassis and body shell, and exterior and interior features , all of which raise the bar on affordable sports cars once again.

Exterior – Special Body Features for Sporty Sophistication

The normal Mazda RX-8 combines classical sports car aesthetics described by its original designers as “athletic tension” that visually communicates performance potential. It is dynamic and sporty with short overhangs, striking fenders and bumpers, and a unique bonnet line. For the Special Edition RX-8, these exterior features are enhanced to celebrate Mazda’s rotary engine history with two specially designed exterior colours – a newly-developed Metropolitan Grey that gives the RX-8’s sporty form a strong touch of sophistication; and Crystal White Pearl that will set it apart on European roads. Enhancing the Special Edition’s look of sporty sophistication is also a new ten-spoke, bright- grey wheel design, new blue-light fog lamps and a 40th anniversary emblem at the back of both front fenders .

Interior – Special Seat/Trim Materials and Cockpit Enhancements

The Mazda RX-8 is known for having a stylish and premium interior ambience that is both sporty and modern. It has four sport seats with superior long-trip comfort and good side support for sporty driving, and headrests in the form of a triangular rotary. In front of the driver is a leather-covered steering wheel and parking brake lever, a triangular rotary- shape shift knob and a tachometer scaled to 10,000 rpm to re?ect the high-revving characteristics of it RENESIS rotary engine. For the Special Edition RX-8, the interior has several enhancements that celebrate the car’s premium look and feel. These include seat materials developed for the Special Edition RX-8 with light grey Alcantara ? * in the centre and black leather at the sides , combined with special trim materials in matching colours. For an extra touch of quality, the steering wheel is black leather – to match the sides of the seats – with light stitching to match the colours of the seat middle. And the shift lever is covered in the same black leather with light stitching and features a silver shift knob centre .

Special Foam-Filled Front Suspension Cross Members and Bilstein Sports Suspension

The Mazda RX-8 is one of the best handling cars in its class. It features a front-midship engine layout and rear-wheel drive, which results in a perfect 50/50 weight distribution over the front and rear axles. It also delivers outstanding torsional rigidity with a unique transmission tunnel structure where the upper side of the tunnel is a rigid, closed-section high-mount backbone frame that is joined to the mainframe front and back. For the Special Edition RX-8 – which comes standard with the High Powered RENESIS engine producing 170 kW/231 PS at 8,200 rpm , maximum torque of 211 Nm at 5,500 rpm, 18-inch aluminium wheels, and the short shifting six-speed manual transmission – front suspension cross members are now ?lled with polyurethane foam for even more quiet operation and sharper handling than the original. And further enhancing the RX-8’s acclaimed handling characteristics is a sports front suspension with special springs and Bilstein dampers all around – only available for the Special Edition – that provides even more sporty driving fun.

[source: Carscoop]

More Excellent Car in 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show:

+ Frankfurt Motor Show 2007: Huffenpuff Edition (Random, funny and cool stuff)
+ Frankfurt Motor Show 2007: Mercedes-Benz A-Class Edition 10 anniversary edition
+ Frankfurt Motor Show 2007: Volkswagen's production Tiguan graces the stage
+ Frankfurt Motor Show 2007: Carlsson Aigner CK65 Eau Rouge
+ Frankfurt Auto Show 2007: Novitec Ferrari F430 TuNero
+ Frankfurt Auto Show 2007: Fräuleins of Frankfurt
+ Own an Aston Martin DBS, get a watch... for another $34,500
+ Frankfurt Motor Show 2007: Le MANSORY Convertible
+ Frankfurt Motor Show 2007: Citroen C5 Airscape - Oh, that was here?
+ Frankfurt Motor Show 2007: Deutschland Americana - Geiger C6 Biturbo
+ Frankfurt Motor Show 2007: Mercedes has an answer for Lexus with S-Class Hybrids
+ 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show: Awaiting our inheritance, Part Deux - Aston Martin DB9 LM
+ 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show: Ferrari F430 Scuderia debut almost scrubbed

Rolls-Royce convertible debuts in Middle East

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has today unveiled the new Phantom Drophead Coupé for the first time in the Middle East, presented by the company’s official importer in Qatar, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Doha. This two-door, four-seater convertible combines the latest in light-weight engineering technology with the finest hand-crafted materials. It features several unique design options, like a stainless steel bonnet and teak decking – inspired by sailing yachts. Each car is individually built by highly skilled craftsmen and women at the company’s world headquarters in Goodwood, on the south coast of England.Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Regional Director for the Middle East, Peter Schoppmann, said, “We have seen exceptional customer interest in the Phantom Drophead Coupé around the world and are pleased to show the car for the first time in this region. It is appropriate to unveil the car in Qatar as our dealer here has contributed particularly strongly to our continued development in the Middle East.” Mr Omar Alfardan, President of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Doha, said, “We are honoured to be the first country to unveil the new Drophead Coupé in the region; the extremely high level of customer interest in the new Rolls-Royce convertible began in 2005 with the Middle East tour of the Experimental Car 100EX. This superb and worthy addition to the range continues the wonderful legacy of Rolls-Royce and we very much welcome it in our market today.” Production of the Phantom Drophead Coupé at Goodwood is ramping up and first deliveries to customers in the Middle East have just begun. With the addition of this new car to the range Rolls-Royce now offers three models including the Phantom and Phantom Extended Wheelbase.

Priaulx Looking for Brands Boost

On Sunday (September 23), BMW Team UK driver and double World Touring Car Champion, Andy Priaulx will be looking for home victory at the British round of the FIA WTCC 2007 championship at Brands Hatch. Priaulx will arrive at Brands Hatch in the thick of a super-competitive championship battle, trailing team-mate, Augusto Farfus (BMW Germany) by just one point in his bid to secure a hat-trick of consecutive world crowns. With just three rounds of the championship remaining, the title looks set to be decided once again on the streets of Macau at the season climax on November 18.In front of a hugely partisan crowd, Priaulx will be determined to give the fans something to cheer about. Speaking at a media event in London yesterday, he commented: “I'm really looking forward to racing in front of a home crowd - the atmosphere at Brands is going to be amazing. We’re set for a close fought weekend but hopefully I can secure some decent points to keep me in contention for the last two rounds.” “By winning two world titles I feel I have proved it’s not luck, but the competition is getting ever fiercer and you have to raise the bar each year. With the championship this tight, nobody can afford to have a bad day. ” Priaulx will be determined to avoid the disappointment of last year, when he went off at Paddock Hill Bend in torrential conditions, whilst leading the second race. Ironically, the corner remains one of his favourite racing challenges: “Paddock Hill Bend is one of those corners you never drive anywhere else in the world. It’s unconventional - and at the end of the turn you expect to fall from the end of the world. You have got the feeling that you will go off every time you go through it. I love this corner.“ Guernseyman Priaulx, 33 (Team BMW UK), will be driving his works BMW 320si WTCC car run by Bart Mampaey’s Team RBM. Others piloting the same car include: Jorg Muller (Ger) and Augusto Farfus (Bra) of BMW Team Germany, Alessandro Zanardi (Ita) and Felix Porteiro (Esp) of BMW Team Italy – Spain.


2008 Green Car of the Year(R) Will be Announced at Los Angeles Auto Show

The winner of the 2008 Green Car of the Year(R) (GCOY) award will be announced on Nov. 15 at the Los Angeles Auto Show during the show's Press Days. Green Car Journal, the leading automotive environmental magazine, initiated this annual award in 2005 and it has continued to grow in significance as consumer demand for more fuel efficient and environmentally positive vehicles has increased exponentially. "We choose the LA Auto Show each year to make this important announcement because California -- and especially the greater Los Angeles region -- has historically been the epicenter for both automotive and environmental innovation, and that's what this award is all about," says Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal.The Green Car of the Year(R) award is designed to recognize environmental achievement in the automotive industry. After considering scores of new vehicle models that raise the bar in environmental performance, five nominees will be identified in advance of the press conference. The winning vehicle will be chosen by a select jury of highly knowledgeable experts drawn from relevant fields such as transportation technology, automotive design, environmental protection and others. This year's jurors include leaders of the nation's most recognized environmental groups, including Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club; Christopher Flavin, president of Worldwatch Institute; Jean-Michel Cousteau, president of Ocean Futures Society; and Jonathan Lash, President of the World Resources Institute. Automotive icon Carroll Shelby joins four Green Car Journal editors to round out the 2008 GCOY jury. GCOY Selection Process
Green Car Journal staff narrow down all the eligible vehicles to a short list of five finalists based upon research and the driving experience. Jurors, including independent experts and Green Car Journal staff members, weigh the merits of each finalist vehicle and its relevance to motorists. The winning vehicle must be a production automobile that will be on sale by Jan. 1, 2008. "In judging the Green Car of the Year(R), emphasis is placed on vehicles that advance overall efficiency and functionality while decreasing environmental impact," says Cogan. "All current models are eligible for consideration, although 'newness' is a factor, as well as the impact that a vehicle and its environmentally positive technologies are likely to have in the marketplace." Last year, the 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid was named Green Car Journal's 2007 Green Car of the Year(R), with jurors noting that Toyota's seamless integration of its Hybrid Synergy Drive in a mass market model was of particular importance. The inaugural 2006 Green Car of the Year(R) distinction was awarded to the 2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid. In addition to the Green Car of the Year(R) Award, many of the world's leading automakers are placing increased emphasis on the LA Auto Show to help introduce "green" technologies. Last year, General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner announced the automaker's major new plug-in hybrid program at the LA Show and this year's show promises to deliver significant advanced technology and alternative fuel vehicle news as well. About Green Car of the Year(R)
The GCOY award is an important part of Green Car Journal's mission to showcase environmental progress in the auto industry. Since 1992, Green Car Journal has focused on the intersection of automobiles, energy, and environment, first with an industry newsletter and then with an award-winning auto enthusiast magazine. Today, the magazine is considered the premier source of information on high fuel efficiency, low emission, advanced technology, and alternative fuel vehicles. Green Car of the Year(R) is a registered trademark of Green Car Journal and RJ Cogan Specialty Publications Group, Inc.

Hyundai’s green ‘i’ is no monster

If you spot a new Hyundai i30 with a green ‘i’ badge on the front wings, you’ll have every reason to be ‘green-eyed’ with jealousy. Not only is the owner driving a desirable hatchback, but they are saving hundreds of pounds in tax – and helping to lower CO2 emissions. The new version of the highly acclaimed i30, available from January, will have an official CO2 emission figure of just 119g/km. That drops the new model into VED Group B, cutting the cost of an annual tax disc from £115 to £35.But it’s business drivers who will see the really impressive savings. From the 2008/09 tax year a new company car band will be introduced for diesels producing less than 120g/km which will drop the rate from 18 to just 13 percent, saving higher rate tax payers hundreds every year. There’s even better news for drivers who live or travel into the London Congestion Charge zone, as the i30 would be entitled to a 100 percent discount from 4th February 2008 if the mayor’s proposals are approved. This could save drivers entering the capital daily a massive £2,080 each year. The new version of the i30 uses a 90PS version of the current model’s advanced 115PS 1.6-litre CRDi turbodiesel engine. To prove that it’s not just the headline CO2 figure that matters to Hyundai, the ‘green’ i30 also features a diesel particulate filter to remove ‘soot’ from the exhaust gases. Unlike some rivals, the i30’s advanced design means there has been no need to resort to measures such as skinny tyres, expensive stop-start systems, long gearing or lowered suspension to achieve the low CO2 figure. This ensures that the i30’s roadholding, drivability, ride and equipment levels are unaffected. The new model remains affordable too, with prices starting below £13,000 despite an enviable equipment list that includes ESP, air conditioning and alloy wheels as standard on all versions. As with all new Hyundai models, the i30 is also covered by a five year, unlimited mileage warranty. For those who want to ‘go green’ before January, both Getz diesel models also fall into VED group B with a CO2 output of 118g/km, while the Santa Fe was named as the ‘greenest’ large 4x4 by What Car? magazine recently. Full prices for the new i30 CRDi will be announced nearer the car’s launch.

Frankfurt Motor Show 2007: Huffenpuff Edition (Random, funny and cool stuff)

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