Friday, May 30, 2008

The New Renault Koleos

Renault is proud to present Koleos, its first ever 4x4 crossover. Ideal for escaping the everyday routine, Renault Koleos is comfortable, easy to drive and boasts genuine off-road ability. It has been designed to be versatile too, offering the same reassuring drive when motoring in and about town, on open roads and on motorways as it does when it is taken off the beaten track. Meanwhile, Koleos delivers the same standard of comfort as that expected of a hatchback, as well as cabin space worthy of a compact MPV.

Designed by Renault, developed by Nissan and manufactured in Renault Samsung Motors' Busan plant in Korea, Renault Koleos is the fruit of extremely close collaboration between teams from each of these Renault-Nissan Alliance brands. Koleos will be on show at the Geneva Motor Show from March 4.

The launch of Renault Koleos marks a decisive step in the brand's development, not only in Europe but across the world. The release of its first 4x4 crossover is a sure sign that Renault has the capacity to take its own genuine stance and completely fresh approach in segments from which it has traditionally been absent. Renault Koleos offers a unique standard of safety and comfort, a parameter that has become a recognised Renault hallmark which is not only clear for all to see but also highly affordable.

Latest-generation powertrains

Renault Koleos will be available with two types of Alliance engines in the UK. The latest-generation 2.0 dCi Euro 4 diesel engine (M9R) is available in a choice of two power outputs, 150hp or 175hp. The engine has already been seen on Renault's Mégane, Laguna and Espace, Nissan's Qashqai and New X-Trail and Renault Samsung Motors' QM5. It features the very latest diesel engine technologies, including piezoelectric injectors, common-rail 1,600-bar fuel injection, a water-cooled variable-geometry turbo and a periodic regeneration particulate filter. The 2.0 dCi engine is available with a broad, useful rev band, with peak torque of either 320 or 360Nm (depending on version) available from low engine speeds. The dCi 150 can be ordered for either the 4x2 or 4x4 versions and mated with either a six-speed manual gearbox or six-speed automatic transmission. The 175hp version of the 2.0 dCi engine is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and all-wheel drive.

Comfort and space worthy of an MPV

Renault Koleos has everything required to travel in outstanding comfort, and particular attention has been paid to one of the most essential comfort-related preconditions: effective damping of both mechanical and road noise.

The dCi engine represents a benchmark in the domain of minimising vibrations and noise thanks to its balancer shafts and twin-mass flywheel damper. Meanwhile, road noise has been slashed thanks to a package of special features and soundproofing, including an acoustic windscreen and engine subframe filtering, as well as the presence of soundproofing materials between the engine compartment and cabin, under the floor and in the wheel arches. These solutions combine to give Renault Koleos a genuine edge on the acoustic comfort front.

Renault Koleos passengers are also pampered in terms of cabin space, including record headroom and kneeroom for front occupants in the SUV, 4x4 and crossover categories, while rear passengers benefit from a pleasing balance between vertical and transversal space. Given Koleos' contained overall length, access to both the front and rear seats is astonishingly easy, with ample room for legs and hips alike.

The Renault range has long boasted the biggest panoramic opening sunroofs available on the market and the Renault Koleos sunroof features a total, transparent glazed area of 0.75 square metres which is unmatched in the SUV and crossover market. For optimal thermal comfort, the high density-weave sunblind can be pulled shut to any position. The sunroof itself comes with an anti-pinch function and, thanks to the hands-free card, automatically closes if the driver walks away from the car. The combination of a brightly-lit cabin and the promise of wind-in-the-hair motoring with clear views of the sky overhead stand out as one of Renault Koleos' truly appealing features.

To ensure first class travelling comfort for all occupants, Koleos is equipped with an automatic dual-zone heating and climate control system that incorporates specific vents for the rear seats. The driver and front passenger can consequently select the cabin temperature of their choice, while rear passengers, who also benefit from sunblinds, can adjust ventilation using the control located at the rear of the centre console.

Music lovers will be won over by the comprehensive range of audio systems that are available for Renault Koleos, including a top-end system developed by Bose®. Specifically tailored to the acoustic properties of the cabin, it comprises a digital amplifier, seven loudspeakers and a woofer. The outstanding hi-fi quality means that occupants are able to profit from their favourite music whether it is delivered by the radio, the six-CD/MP3-compatabile multi-changer or an external source such as an iPod® connected to the fascia-mounted jack plug.

Driving pleasure is enhanced by an array of comfort-enhancing features, from the front and rear proximity sensors for easier parking to the automatic parking brake which is applied whenever the engine is switched off, and then automatically released when the engine is started. Renault Koleos can also be equipped with a Carminat Navigation and Communication system incorporating three functions: a GPS navigation system with 7-inch, 16/9 screen and DVD atlas, a radio and six-CD multichanger and controls for a hands-free Bluetooth® telephone. The controls for these functions are located within easy reach on the centre console.

For enhanced night-time vision, Koleos is available with bi-xenon headlamps and cornering lights. These additional lights illuminate the inside of corners, thereby permitting the driver to spot a possible hazard or obstacle much sooner. This feature vastly improves the field of vision in risk situations (junctions, corners) and consequently enhances night-time safety and driving comfort.

A new-generation automobile

Evolutions in consumer demand and the world's growing awareness of environmental issues have led carmakers to rethink their leisure vehicle line-ups. The traditional 4x4 vehicle, which tends not to be widely accepted by society, has come of age. As a consequence, so-called 'crossover' vehicles have been gaining ground in recent years.

The presence of SUV-type vehicles can be observed in all segments, in the same way that MPVs spread to other categories in the late '90s. Indeed, the notion of segment is no longer clear-cut in the minds of customers. Today, SUVs account for five per cent of the total market worldwide compared with less than one per cent 15 years ago.

The SUV/compact crossover market is constantly expanding in the top five Europe countries and strong growth in the past five years has seen all-makes sales double from 222,500 to 522,000 vehicles (see appendix). This trend can be observed across Europe: in a total market of approximately 15 million vehicles, the SUV/compact crossover category accounts for almost five per cent, with more than 700,000 vehicles of this type sold in 2007. The sector is extremely competitive, too, with 25 models available. The launch of Koleos, Company's first 4x4 crossover, sees Renault complete its line-up with a new vehicle that benefits from the maturity and expertise of the market's leading players.

European SUV/compact crossover customers come essentially from the C and D segments. The majority of them already own a vehicle of this type (25%), while 22% come from the D segment and 13% from the C segment. Former MPV owners account for eight per cent of SUV/compact crossover buyers.

Renault Koleos is a sign of the group's ongoing international expansion. The newcomer goes on sale in the UK in July and will be available in almost 40 countries on five continents by 2009.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Nissan Maxima gone in full production

Nissan has officially gone into full production of their new 4-door sporty flagship model, the eight generation 2009 Nissan Maxima. Today the first unit rolled off the assembly line at Nissan's Smyrna, Tenn. manufacturing plant.

The new Maxima is built on Nissan's new D-Platform, but is powered by an upgraded 'old' 3.5 liter VQ V6 engine producing 290 hp, 35 hp more than the outgoing model but still less than the new 3.7 liter V6 with 330 hp (as found in the Infiniti G37). The engine is coupled to a new Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) with manual and Ds (drive sport) mode for a more sporty drive.

"We set out to create one of the best performing front engine, front-wheel drive sedans in the world," said Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan division, Nissan North America. "The Maxima delivers on all levels offering the value, quality, and exhilarating performance consumers have come to expect from Nissan."

The Nissan Maxima was first introduced in the US back in 1981, and today four of every five sold are still on the road today. The new 2009 model will come in two guises, the Maxima 3.5 S and Maxima 3.5 SV. Pricing will announced before the sales start in early summer 2008.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The New Aston Martin DB9

Aston Martin introduced a revised version of the company's critically acclaimed DB9 at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show, which includes significant enhancements to standard specification.

These changes include a revised version of Aston Martin's 6.0 litre V12 engine to deliver improved power and torque. Peak power of 470bhp (350kW) - increased by 20bhp (30Nm) - is now reached at 6,000rpm, resulting in a power to weight ratio of 267bhp per tonne (199kW/tonne) - an increase of 11bhp per tonne over the existing Aston Martin DB9.

Peak torque of 600Nm is delivered at 5,000rpm, providing even more accessible power for the driver, as well a greater performance feel overall. Accordingly, top speed is now 190mph (306km/h) and the benchmark 0-60mph time improves by 0.3 seconds for the Touchtronic transmission - which benefits from a new valve box and integrated transmission controls to achieve quicker gear shifts - to 4.6 seconds and by 0.1 seconds to 4.6 seconds for the manual gearbox.

The latest Aston Martin DB9 also incorporates a series of chassis developments for both the Coupe and Volante derivates. Bilstein dampers are introduced in addition to revised upper suspension arms and retuned suspension bushes to deliver improved ride quality; aiding greater refinement in the Volante and an enhanced sporting feel in the Coupe. The Aston Martin DB9 Volante also benefits from revisions to the front shear panel which increases torsional rigidity by 10%, further improving refinement.

The Aston Martin DB9 manages to combine all facets of style, quality and usability of a traditional Aston Martin without relying on retrospective detail or design. Accordingly, styling changes to the revised Aston Martin DB9 are subtle, reflecting the car's timeless design and understated elegance.

Exterior styling changes include the introduction of a new standard 19'' 10-spoke alloy wheel, new door mirrors and a revised anodised aluminium five-bar grille. In the cabin changes include a new centre console constructed from die cast zinc with a painted iridium silver finish and the introduction of a new Emotion Control Unit (ECU) - first seen on the DBS in 2007. The ECU - constructed from glass, polished stainless steel and polycarbonate - replaces the key used previously for the DB9.

The innovative Aston Martin DB9 introduced an exciting new era for Aston Martin. The 2+2 sports car set new standards in its class due to its astonishing combination of technology, agility and design. The car marked the beginning of a new era for Aston Martin and became the first car to be hand-made at the company's state-of-the-art facility in Gaydon, Warwickshire.

Sales of the Aston Martin DB9 started in spring 2004, and to date, more than 10,000 examples have been produced and delivered to customers around the world - surpassing the DB7 as the most successful Aston Martin of all time.

Deliveries of the updated Aston Martin DB9 begin during quarter two 2008, with prices from £113,950 for the DB9 Coupe and £122,950 for the DB9 Volante.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Concept: Audi TT clubsport quattro

An open cockpit, an engine producing more than 220 kW (300 hp) and a host of technologies borrowed from the world of motorsports - the Audi TT clubsport quattro is an uncompromising driving machine. Audi is presenting an updated version of the spectacular showcar and sensation of 2007 at the Wörthersee Tour, the big meet for Audi and VW enthusiasts in Reifnitz (Kärnten), Austria, from May 21 to 25.

Purism at a premium level - this was the goal that the designers and engineers set themselves for the Audi TT clubsport quattro. The low windshield is extremely flat. The A-pillars are nearly invisible, making the continuous window strip appear to be a single casting. Instead of the compartment for the soft top there are two humps behind the passenger compartment - the lines of the showcar painted in Suzuka Gray, pearl effect are intensely evocative of a speedster. Mounted in front of the humps are two massive rollover bars, which together with the strong A-pillars protect the driver and passenger if the car should roll over.

The front end is dominated by the powerful single-frame grill painted in high-gloss black. Beneath the headlamps, which feature a strip of LED daytime running lights, are large air inlets covered by horizontally split black grills.

A distinctive spoiler lip optimizes downforce. When viewed from the side, the sharp contours in the sill area are every bit as striking as the boldly accentuated wheel wells, which house impressive (polished) 9x19 inch wheels shod with 255/35 tires. The track was widened by 66 millimeters (2.60 inches) versus the production TT. The rear bumper is designed as a diffuser. The fascia between the two large tailpipes of the stainless steel exhaust system emphasizes the horizontal lines and makes the car look even wider from behind.

The purist style of the exterior carries over to the interior of the Audi TT clubsport quattro. The newly designed sill area emphasizes the width of the vehicle. The driver and passenger sit in racing bucket seats that offer excellent support even in extreme driving situations - on the race track, for example.

Typical Audi: aluminum in the interior

Typical for Audi is the generous use of aluminum in the interior of the showcar. The clubsport quattro sports a high-grip version of the flat-bottomed steering wheel from the production TT with aluminum shift paddles. The door pull handle and door opener are also made of aluminum, and their cut-out appearance emphasizes the lightweight design character of the concept car. The pedals also shine with aluminum.

The second distinctive feature of the interior of the TT clubsport quattro is the color orange. Leather in this color provides bright highlights to the arm rests, the sides of the center tunnel, the backs of the bucket seats and the instrument cowl. The orange and white graphics of the instrument cluster clearly distinguishes it from its counterpart in the production model.

The Audi TT clubsport quattro is a true sports car, and technology borrowed directly from the world of motorsports emphasizes this character. Even more power has been coaxed out of the 2.0 TFSI engine - the turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine breaks the magic 300 hp barrier. The exhaust system was designed to be particularly easy-breathing, and a powerful racing sound exudes from the oval tailpipes.

Audi high-tech: S tronic und quattro

The two-liter engine delivers its full power to an S tronic transmission. Thanks to its dual clutch, gear changes occur extremely quickly without interrupting the flow of power and thus go virtually unnoticed. The driver can change gears manually using the shift lever or the paddles on the steering wheel, or can choose a fully automatic mode. The quattro permanent all-wheel drive system transfers the power to all four wheels.

The powerful brake system from the new Audi TTS provides the stopping power. Its ventilated discs measure 340 millimeters (13.39 inches) up front and 310 millimeters (12.20 inches) at the rear.

The Audi TT clubsport quattro is a purist driving machine combining the performance of a sports car with the unique design language of Audi. Small-series production of this model cannot be ruled out.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tuning: Gemballa Avalanche 600 GT2 EVO

The tuning scene is booming in Europe, the USA and Japan, with more and more tuning companies as a result but few are regarded as highly as Porsche specialists Gemballa. Today the German tuning house bursts onto the scene with a 600 bhp Porsche GT2 (or Porsche 997 Turbo) conversion that can hold its own with the Maranello and Sant'Agata-Bolognese in-crowd.

Gemballa has a few tweeks in store for your unsuspecting GT2 or 997 Turbo like a power kit that will boost power to 600 bhpn (442 kW) with 840 Nm of torque, body kit, sports exhaust, coilover suspension, 20 inch 'Racing' wheels and a luxurious interior. The new power can propel the car from stand still to 100 km/h in just 3.5 seconds.

The body kit consists of the Avalanche body kit, a GT hood, Avalanche front skirt with additional cooling openings, GT2 front spoiler lip, GTR EVO tailgate skirt with diffuser and hot air outlets and GT2 EVO rear spoiler. All in all, the car looks fast even when standing still.

Of course power is nothing without control, so Gemballa also fits a variable ride height coilover suspension and a performance brake system with 380/350 mm or 405/380 discs. Inside you will find plenty of aluminum details, sports steering wheel (F1 shift paddles optional) and a leather interior overhaul if your donor vehicle didn't have it already. But if you have something else in mind, Gemballa will be happy to cater to your fancies.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The New Alfa Romeo Brera S

Few sports cars are developed specifically for Britain's roads. Those that have been tend to become true 'driver's cars'. Alfa Romeo is planning for the new, limited edition Alfa Romeo Brera S to join those ranks.

After a year of intensive suspension and chassis development at Prodrive, the world-leading motorsport specialist, the result is a sports coupe that subtly enhances all that is good about the original Alfa Brera, while bestowing it with outstanding driver feedback and handling.

Distinctly different from the rest of the line-up, this unique addition to Alfa Romeo's UK range includes refined styling changes, inside and out. And to ensure ultimate exclusivity, production of the Alfa Romeo Brera S will be limited to just 500 individually numbered models.

Power comes from a choice of two existing direct injection petrol engines - the 185 bhp 2.2 JTS and the 260 bhp 3.2 V6 JTS.

Marketing director at Alfa Romeo UK, Nicholas Bernard, says: "Significantly, the Alfa Romeo Brera S isn't simply about brute force, it's about how the available power is transferred to the road and how the road surface is communicated back to the driver to bring new levels of sports handling and driver-focused confidence and involvement."

Briefed to make the Alfa Romeo Brera S less of a long-distance tourer and more sporty on UK roads, the engineering team at Prodrive developed a unique suspension set-up. Prodrive engineers meticulously experimented with spring rates and ride heights to match the reduced weights of the 2008 model year Alfa Breras. Then followed an extensive damper tuning exercise to achieve the desired ride/handling balance and steering response required by driving enthusiasts in the UK.

At the same time, the suspension static geometry has also been revised to optimise steering and handling. These changes, together with new 19" alloy wheels and Pirelli PZero Nero tyres, have created a more responsive turn-in to corners, with increased driver feedback, allowing the driver to explore the dynamic limits of the car.

To further enhance suspension geometry, the cars have been lowered by 10 mm front and rear. This lower centre of gravity helps reduce roll and improve cornering and braking performance. In addition, the lowered suspension gives the Alfa Romeo Brera S a more purposeful stance.

At each corner of the Alfa Romeo Brera S, unique Alfa 8C Competizione-inspired, lightweight 19" alloy wheels have been fitted. Although the wheels are eye-catching, the all-new design was commissioned by Prodrive primarily for performance, rather than just cosmetic appeal. The reason is unsprung weight - the weight carried by the car on the 'road side' of the spring and shock absorber. This plays a significant role in the way the car steers, handles and transmits feedback to the driver.

The lighter the wheel, the better it tracks undulations in the road surface without requiring heavy damping to control it. The unsprung weight has been further reduced by the adoption of hollow anti-roll bars and aluminium suspension components from the Factory.

As a result, the weight of both Alfa Romeo Brera S models is lower than the rest of the range. The front-wheel drive 3.2 V6 JTS is almost 100 kg lighter than the Q4 version and the 2.2 JTS version weighs 35 kg less.

The Alfa Romeo Brera S also sounds different from the standard range. The original characteristic growl of the V6 has been enhanced by careful redesign of the rear silencers. Thanks to a Holmholtz resonator connected in tandem with each silencer, the 2.2 JTS model now emits a sportier yet refined burble.

The exhaust has been altered to mirror the shape of the rear lights. Finished with chrome embellishers, they feature a Prodrive logo on the tailpipe exterior. This is just one of several subtle exterior enhancements to the award-winning Alfa Brera, including Prodrive branded front stone deflectors, and a bespoke red 'S' or 'SV6' on the C-pillar.

Inside the 3.2 V6 JTS Alfa Romeo Brera S, changes are more obvious. Not only are the supportive sports seats upholstered in soft black Frau® leather with red stitching, so are the dashboard fascia, door panels, steering wheel and gearlever. The centre console and instruments are faced in a dark finish. This interior can also be specified on the 2.2 JTS version.

Foot pedals are fashioned from drilled aluminium and the headrest recess houses a limited edition Brera S aluminium plate, featuring the flags of Italy and Britain.

For the record, the 2.2 JTS and 3.2 V6 JTS Alfa Romeo Brera S can reach 62 mph from rest in 8.6 and 7.0 seconds respectively, on the way to maximum speeds of 139 and 155 mph.

The transition from Alfa Brera to Brera S takes place at Alfa Romeo UK's dedicated import centre, near Bristol, and is overseen by Prodrive.

Nicholas Bernard says: "The standard Brera is well loved and delivers a great all-round driving experience. But the Alfa Romeo Brera S is deliberately honed, tuned and fettled for British roads and aimed directly at a dedicated audience of driving enthusiasts."

The New Audi S3

The dynamic range-topping member of the A3 family sports new features, too. There is now a second top model on the market, with the Audi S3 Sportback joining the three-door Audi S3. Both versions are equipped with the same engine, the reengineered 2.0 TFSI with an output of 195 kW (265 hp). With 350 Nm (258.15 lb-ft) of torque available constantly from 2,500 to 5,000 rpm, the direct-injection, two-liter turbo catapults the three-door model from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 5.7 seconds (Sportback: 5.8 seconds); the top speed is limited electronically to 250 km/h (155.34 mph). Yet the S3's fuel consumption is astonishingly low, at an average of 8.5 liters per 100 km (27.67 mpg).

A six-speed manual transmission handles the business of getting the power from the engine to the standard quattro driveline; 18-inch wheels provide a firm grip with the road. The sport suspension holds the body 25 millimeters (0.98 in) lower and integrates lightweight aluminum components. Black brake calipers act on 17-inch disk brakes. Audi's compact premium sports model offers the reflexes of a top athlete. It reacts spontaneously to steering movements and its handling remains stable, precise and almost neutral right up to its physical limits. When coming out of a bend it veritably seems to dig its claws into the tarmac, enabling the driver to start accelerating again at the earliest possible moment.

Like the A3, the S3 has been optically modified and is clearly distinguished by a number of striking lines, for example on the radiator grille, on the bumpers and on the roof spoiler, as well as by the aluminum-look exterior mirrors. Inside, the driver and front passenger are greeted by sport seats with cloth, Alcantara/leather or all-leather upholstery; Audi exclusive bucket seats are available as an option. Aluminum pedals, three different styles of inlay and a black or silver headlining create an exclusively sporty look. Deluxe automatic air conditioning, an anti-theft alarm and xenon plus headlamps with LED daytime running light extend the range of standard features.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The New Mercedes-Benz SL 63 AMG

Limited edition model offered in cooperation with IWC Schaffhausen: SL 63 AMG Edition IWC: Exclusive AMG Roadster with Choice Interior Appointments and Compelling Technological Features

The AMG PERFORMANCE STUDIO has developed a new limited edition vehicle, the exclusive SL 63 AMG Edition IWC. Limited to a total of 200 units, the new roadster features an eye-catching designo magno Kashmir white finish as well as an AMG Exterior Carbon package with a matte surface. In keeping with the exterior appearance, the vehicle's interior is fitted with Carbon matte trim as well as Tobago Brown nappa leather upholstery that creates additional visual and tactile highlights. In addition, the vehicle features the AMG Performance package to ensure unparalleled handling. All SL 63 AMG Edition IWC vehicles will be delivered to customers along with an exquisite "Grosser Ingenieur" (Great Engineer) watch from the renowned Swiss watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen.

The SL 63 AMG Edition IWC will be the first vehicle to be offered with the all-new designo magno Kashmir white finish. An interesting contrast to this color is formed by the components with a Carbon matte finish: the trailing edge , the diffusor insert in the lower back panel, and the side air vents on the front apron. In stylistic sync with these components is the Carbon matte trim on the center console and the interior door panels.

They are harmoniously augmented by the Tobago Brown nappa leather upholstery on the electronically adjustable AMG sports seats, which feature multicontour and memory functions, heating, an AMG-specific perforation pattern, a special design, and AMG badges. The vehicle's limited edition status is discreetly emphasized by black AMG floormats with Tobago Brown leather piping, AMG door sills with white illuminated AMGlettering, and the IWC logo on the lid of the center console.

To ensure that the driver remains in perfect control of his or her vehicle, the two-tone AMGPerformance steering wheel has a reduced diameter, a rim that's flattened at the bottom, and silver-finish aluminum gearshift paddles. The steering wheel is part of the Performance package, which also includes forged 19-inch AMG light alloy, double-spoke wheels with a titanium gray finish and polished surfaces. The 8.5-inch and 9.5-inch rims sport 255/35 R 19 and 285/30 R 19 format tires, respectively.

The front axle is equipped with internally ventilated, perforated composite disc brakes (390 x 36 mm) that keep braking distances to a minimum and ensure the vehicle is extremely resistant to fading. Handling is further enhanced by other technical features from the Performance package, including a rear-axle, multi-disc limited-slip differential with a lock factor of 40 percent, as well as an AMG Performance chassis equipped with Active Body Control.

AMG naturally aspirated V8 with 6.3 liters displacement and 386 kW/525 hp
The drive system of the SL 63 AMG Edition IWC will provide motorists with an exhilarating driving experience. Boasting a top output of 386 kW/525 hp and a maximum torque of 630 Nm, the AMG 6.3-liter V8 engine is augmented by an extremely responsive partner in the shape of the all-new AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT seven-speed sports transmission. The SL 63 AMG Edition IWC accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds, while its top speed is electronically limited to 300 km/h.

Mercedes-AMG and IWC Schaffhausen: A luxurious partnership
Along with the vehicle, buyers of the SL 63 AMG Edition IWC will also receive a limited edition model of IWC's "Grosser Ingenieur" watch. This precious chronometer has a stainless steel housing measuring an impressive 45.5 millimeters in diameter. The design of the watch's wristband and face compliment the vehicle concept. In addition, the watch's bottom is made of sapphire glass that reveals the intricate mechanical clockwork with its automatic Pellaton winding system.

Mercedes-AMG has been collaborating with the time-honored Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen since 2004. In October of that year, the two companies presented their first jointly designed vehicle, the CLS 55 AMG "IWC Engineer."

Customers will be able to order the SL 63 AMG Edition IWC beginning in fall 2008 , and vehicle deliveries will commence in November 2008. The model will be limited to 200 units.

Concept: Audi A3 TDI clubsport quattro

A TDI from Audi is more than just another diesel - it is, in fact, a dynamic power unit and a rich source of driving pleasure. At the 27th annual Lake Wörther Tour being held in the Austria province of Carinthia from May 21-25, Audi is demonstrating the potential of TDI technology with a very special concept study: the Audi A3 TDI clubsport quattro is powered by an engine delivering a whole 165 kW (224 hp) from its displacement of two liters. And with a torque of 450 Nm (331.90 lb-ft), it endows the premium compact model with the pulling power of a sports car.

The Audi A3 TDI clubsport quattro qualifies as an uncompromising sports machine in all other technical respects too. A six-speed transmission channels the engine's power to the quattro all-wheel drive. 20-inch wheels keep the drive force glued to the road; behind the wheels at the front can be found brake disks made from carbon-fiber-reinforced ceramic. Using the Audi drive select driving dynamics system the driver is able to adjust the throttle response and exhaust sound characteristics, the steering's power assistance, the ESP control and the damper characteristics as desired.

The dynamic image presented by the scintillating A3 study is rounded off by spectacular body styling and a high-class, sporty interior. Parts such as bolt-on wheel arch extensions and a large rear spoiler lend lasting impact to the exterior's looks; the interior is dominated by the racing bucket seats in the front and the open aluminum gear lever gate.

The drive train

The high-performance TDI under the bonnet of the Audi A3 TDI clubsport quattro is like nothing that has gone before it. From its displacement of just 1,968 cc, it summons up an output of 165 kW (224 hp). Torque - the true measure of effortless motoring ability - peaks at an exhilarating 450 Nm (331.90 lb-ft), which is on tap from just 1,750 rpm; in other words, the very bottom of the rev range. As for in-gear flexibility, the diesel model leaves its gasoline-powered rivals standing.

The mighty TDI bestows the Audi A3 TDI clubsport quattro - which tips the scales at just 1,475 kilograms (3251.82 lb) - with pulling power befitting of a sports car. The sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) is over in a fleeting 6.6 seconds and the speedometer needle keeps rising all the way to 240 km/h (149.13 mph).

The four-valve sports engine is smart too; it responds spontaneously to the throttle and pampers the occupants with the low-vibration running of its mechanics. On an acoustic level, however, it proudly proclaims its abilities for all to hear: the exhaust system is a new development, with controllable resonance chambers on both tailpipes to amplify the rich, sonorous sound.

The engineers took as a basis the undersquare engine (bore x stroke = 81.0 x 95.5 millimeters) with an output of either 103 kW (140 hp) or 125 kW (170 hp), depending on the configuration, and added to it an optimized turbocharger. The advanced design of its blades allows it to supply more air; as in the series-production version, the variable geometry of the turbine's blades ensures spontaneous response.

The 2.0 TDI, which is managed by one of the most sophisticated control units currently available on the market, is brimming with high tech. Fuel injection is handled by a common-rail system with piezoelectric injectors and eight-hole nozzles. The high-precision metering of as many as five injections of fuel per power stroke has the effect of audibly reducing the noise level. The system operates at a pressure of 1,800 bar - this results in extremely fine atomization of the fuel which, together with the revised piston geometry, makes the combustion process a highly efficient one.

The engine's intake manifold houses swirl flaps that generate a tumbling action in the inflowing air; electric motors regulate the flaps' position so that this tumbling motion is always perfectly suited to the current load and engine speed. Two balancer shafts in the engine reduce the degree of vibration in the crank drive. The drive unit for the belt that propels the two camshafts has also been reworked with a view to improving the engine's acoustics.

The engine: low on emissions, high on efficiency

In its high-performance 165 kW (224 hp) version, the 2.0 TDI unit is still able to make use of a high proportion of recirculated and sharply cooled exhaust gas to achieve cooler combustion with lower oxygen levels - this brings about a substantial reduction in untreated nitrogen oxide emissions. The four-cylinder power unit already complies with the limits of the Euro 5 emissions standard, which is not due to come into force until September 2010 and whose foremost aim is to cut NOx emissions.

The ultra-efficient two-liter engine attains a power-to-displacement ratio of 83.8 kW (113.8 hp) per liter, and torque-to-displacement ratio of 228.7 Nm (168.68 lb-ft) per liter - figures which comparable gasoline engines are simply unable to match.

The Audi A3 TDI clubsport quattro has been designed strictly in accordance with the principle of maximum efficiency. Power is transferred by a compact, transverse-mounted six-speed transmission whose casing is made from lightweight magnesium. The short-throw gear lever can be moved swiftly and precisely through a classic open gate made of aluminum. The transmission ratios have been adjusted and the components reinforced to make allowance for the TDI engine's extremely high performance.

The engine's power is transferred to the road with virtually zero losses thanks to the quattro all-wheel drive. The system's key component is a multi-plate clutch which is positioned at the rear, thereby further optimizing the weight distribution. Under normal driving conditions, the electronically controlled and hydraulically operated clutch directs the engine's drive power to the front wheels; whenever necessary, however, an infinitely adjustable proportion of the propulsive force can be diverted rearwards.

When altering the power split, the plates inside the clutch are subjected to high oil pressure, pushing them together - a procedure which is completed in a matter of milliseconds thanks to a newly designed pressure reservoir for the pump. The quattro drive constitutes the perfect power transmission system for the mighty two-door model, significantly enhancing traction, handling characteristics, stability and straight-line running, whatever the weather.

The chassis

The Audi A3 TDI clubsport quattro comes equipped with a sports suspension that is more than capable of handling the formidable power. The front suspension - a classic McPherson layout - is pivoted on a light, high-strength aluminum subframe. A rack-and-pinion steering system with a direct ratio produces a sensation of close contact with the road. Power assistance is generated by an electromechanical drive unit for high efficiency, and its level decreases as the speed increases.

The rear suspension comprises four links per wheel which fulfill all manner of tasks. The trailing links absorb the propulsive and braking forces. As an aid to ride comfort, their configuration is relatively soft. The connections to the three transverse links, on the other hand, are rigid in order to direct transverse forces into the body with absolute precision. In this instance, the coil springs and shock absorbers are also kept separate from one another. The set-up is decidedly firm, while the body has been lowered by 36 millimeters (1.42 inches) compared to the standard production version.

The Audi A3 TDI clubsport quattro rides on impressive ten-spoke wheels measuring 9 J x 20, which are in turn shod with size 265/30 ZR 20 tires.

Whereas the brakes at the rear wheels were borrowed from the series-production A3, their counterparts on the front would not be out of place on a supercar: six-piston calipers exert a vice-like grip on brake discs measuring 356 millimeters (14.02 inches) in diameter. The discs themselves are made of a material which has been of tremendous value to the aerospace industry, consisting of high-strength carbon fibers embedded in hard silicon carbide.

They have a lightweight construction, can withstand extreme levels of strain, are corrosion-free and have a service life in the region of 300,000 km (approx. 186,400 miles).

TDI engines - the superior drive force

Power, refinement and efficiency - ever since they first made their debut in 1989, the TDI engines from Audi have been synonymous with a sophisticated and smart form of sportiness, blazing a trail for the rest of the motor industry to follow. The triumphant advance that the diesel-engined Audi R10 TDI racing car has been enjoying for two years now on race tracks around the world has delivered a powerful demonstration of its potential.

The R10 TDI has been causing a sensation since spring 2006, with its twelve-cylinder diesel powerplant ushering in a new era in the world of motor racing. The 5.5-litre TDI develops in excess of 1,100 Nm (881.32 lb-ft) - a torque figure that positively eclipses its gasoline-powered competitors. Its output of 650 hp translates into a top speed of around 330 km/h (205.05 mph).

One of the fortes of the R10 TDI is its low fuel consumption. And fewer fuel stops means a higher average speed - the car's high efficiency was one of the key factors in its two successive victories at the Le Mans 24 Hours. Frank Biela (Germany), Emanuele Pirro (Italy) and Marco Werner (Germany) won in 2006 and 2007 in emphatic style. It is a similar story in the American Le Mans Series, where the diesel race car bearing the four Audi rings has racked up a string of successes, easily securing the constructors' title in the large LMP 1 category in both years.

For the first time ever, superior TDI power from the race track can now be experienced in a series-production sports car - both the Audi TT Coupé 2.0 TDI quattro and the Audi TT Roadster 2.0 TDI quattro feature a diesel engine. The two-liter four-cylinder unit delivers dynamic thrust, with a power output of 125 kW (170 hp) and 350 Nm (258.15 lb-ft) of torque. Despite this, the TDI engine in the Coupé burns just 5.3 liters of fuel per 100 km (44.38 mpg) on average - a benchmark value in the sports car segment.

Also on show at the Lake Wörther Tour is the Audi R8 TDI Le Mans, whose drive train technology is closely related to that of the R 10 TDI. The high-performance sports car is driven by a six-liter V12, whose 368 kW (500 hp) of output and 1,000 Nm (737.56 lb-ft) of torque propel the world's most powerful series-production TDI model to a top speed far in excess of 300 km/h (186.41 mph).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The New BMW X6

In 1999 BMW broke the four-wheel-drive mould when it launched the X5 Sports Activity Vehicle. With a bias towards excellent on-road performance combined with a dynamic design and a premium interior, the BMW X5 was an instant success. And it's a winning formula that has, unlike most other models, led to increasing sales during its lifecycle with the biggest annual UK sales coming in its penultimate year. The timing of the BMW X5 was perfect and it reflected buyers' lifestyles and their desire for something unique in the marketplace.

The introduction of the BMW X6 is a logical next step in the process of anticipating customer demand. The BMW X6 sets a new performance benchmark with the world debut of its innovative Dynamic Performance Control rear differential and advanced stability systems to ensure a new dimension in 4x4 car-like driving capabilities. The drivetrain, incorporating BMW EfficientDynamics technologies, ensures the X6 delivers excellent emissions and fuel consumption figures in conjunction with impressive output and acceleration figures. All that in a dynamic coupe-like body shape and interior that is unique in the premium segment. The BMW X6 is a bespoke proposition, but one that competitors look set to copy…just like the BMW X5.

The concept of the new BMW X6 is best considered in relation to the link between the BMW 3 Series Saloon, Touring, Coupé and Convertible. People buy all four versions of the 3 Series depending on their circumstances and needs. The same will be the case for the BMW X6 compared to other BMW X models.

The BMW X6 is undeniably a niche car with BMW UK expecting to sell approximately 1,600 X6s in its first year - by comparison an average of 7,000 X5s are sold every year. Research has shown that three key buyer profiles exist:

  • Buyers who want the command driving position an X product provides, but who also aspire to the sporting style of a Coupé.
  • Early adopters. BMW broke the mould when it launched the X5 and the interest for that model came from early adopters looking for something unique in the market. Early BMW X6 customers are expected to come from a similar demographic.
  • The BMW X5 or other Sports Activity Vehicle owner whose family has left home and still desires a similar car, but one that doesn't scream 'family'.

Klaus Kibsgaard, the new Managing Director of BMW (UK) Ltd, said: "People have questioned why we should launch such a car, but these doubters are the same who said a BMW X5 wasn't a true BMW and that we shouldn't produce that. The BMW X5 3.0d has gone on to be the third biggest selling new car in our portfolio and is one of the most searched for used cars too.

A quartet of turbocharged engines

For the first time in BMW's history a model range has been launched solely powered by turbocharged engines. The BMW X6 xDrive35i is powered by the twin-turbocharged 2007 and 2008 International Engine of the Year winner that produces 306hp. This powerplant is capable of propelling the X6 xDrive35i from zero to 62mph in 6.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 149mph. The 2,979cc-engined X6 is still capable of achieving a combined 25.9mpg and a CO2 figure of 262g/km.

The BMW X6 xDrive30d and the BMW X6 xDrive35d also both have award-winning powerplants under their bonnets. The former, a single turbocharged unit produces 235hp from its 2,993cc block, while the latter ups the ante by offering 286hp from the same capacity engine but aided by twin-turbochargers.

The BMW X6 xDrive30d, which is likely to become the biggest selling X6 variant over time, reaches 62mph from zero in 8.0 seconds before going on to a top speed of 137mph. Emissions and economy figures are equally impressive, recording 217g/km and 34.4mpg respectively. The low CO2 output is enough for the car to qualify for a lower Vehicle Excise Duty band, compared to rival products, and continue to be an £8-a-day Congestion Charge vehicle in London should current proposals become statute.

The BMW X6 xDrive35d sprints from zero to 62mph in 6.9 seconds before going on to a top speed of 147mph. It too sits under the 225g/km higher Vehicle Excise Duty and Congestion Charge strata. The twin-turbocharged diesel records an emissions figure of 220g/km, while also being capable of 34.0mpg.

Completing the awesome foursome of powerplants is a new twin-turbocharged, high-precision direct injection, 4.4-litre V8 engine producing 408hp. This all-new engine, not seen in any other BMW product before, is the most powerful production non-M BMW V8 engine ever and makes the flagship X6 the most powerful production X product. It can reach 62mph from standstill in 5.4 seconds - quicker than a Porsche Boxster - before going on to an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph.

All four X6 models utilise facets of BMW EfficientDynamics technologies. Brake Energy Regeneration is standard across the range and combines with active aerodynamics and low viscosity fluids in the steering and transmission systems. Third-generation common-rail technology diesel-engined cars and high-precision direct injection on the petrol models both serve to optimise the combustion process.

A new high in dynamic capability

The power of the BMW X6 is harnessed by an advanced chassis that incorporates Dynamic Performance Control for the first time on a BMW. Dynamic Performance Control offers drivers class-leading cornering ability courtesy of a complex multi-clutch differential that, effectively, helps drive the vehicle around a bend.

A conventional differential wastes power through wheelslip during cornering. A limited-slip differential locks out an unloaded wheel to transfer drive to the wheel with most grip - but the locked wheel can act as a drag on performance. However, Dynamic Performance Control improves on the traditional, performance oriented limited-slip differential. It allows an inside wheel to still deliver power and provide drive, while at the same time sending more drive to the outside wheel that has more grip. The result, combined with one of the most advanced stability control systems available, is a vehicle that out performs the current benchmark BMW X5 and some sports cars in terms of dynamic capability.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The New Ferrari California

The first official photographs have been published of the Ferrari California, the latest addition to the new generation of Ferraris launched in 2004 with the 612 Scaglietti and added to more recently with the 430 Scuderia.

The Ferrari California joins the Prancing Horse's 8-cylinder family which has always been defined by power and performance. It also flanks the flagship 612 Scaglietti in the prestige sporty Grand Tourer segment.

The new Ferrari California will satisfy even the most demanding of owners in term of its superb vehicle dynamics and driving pleasure. The new model will be available exclusively as a convertible with a folding hard top. Both chassis and bodywork are aluminium, in line with the rest of the current range. The California will be powered by a new V8 engine mounted for the first time in the marque's history in the mid-front position.

In line with Ferrari tradition, the new model also features several innovations. Apart from its folding hard top, these include the original 2+ concept which guarantees exceptional versatility of use in the rear of the car. The California's 4,300 cc V8 engine features direct fuel injection and a "flat" crankshaft. It generates 460 CV at 7,500 rpm with a torque curve that enhances vehicle dynamics and provides maximum driving pleasure which is typical for Ferrari.

As per the traditional Ferrari transaxle layout, the engine, which allows the Ferrari California to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 4.0 seconds, will be coupled to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission that boosts the car's performance while enhancing the driving pleasure, improves ride comfort and reduces fuel consumption and emissions (c.310 g/km CO2). The comfort is further enhanced by a new multilink rear suspension system. The Ferrari California is also equipped with the exclusive F1-Trac traction control system which made its debut on the 599 GTB Fiorano and has been further honed to suit the typical driving conditions expected for this new GT. Brembo brakes featuring carbon-ceramic material discs as standard guarantee superbly efficient braking.

In addition to sporting the marque's classic styling cues, the cabin has also been beautifully trimmed using quality materials by Ferrari's own skilled artisans. New accessories and equipment, such as the seats, steering wheel, instrument panel and infotainment system, together with optimised aerodynamics ensure that this is a highly ergonomic and enjoyable car to drive regardless of whether the top is up or down.

The Ferrari California is aimed at owners who desire a car which embodies everything the Prancing Horse represents in terms of sporty design and innovation, but also seek a car with greater versatility than ever. The car will be officially unveiled to the public at the Paris International Car Show. However, over the coming weeks, new photographs and further details about it will also be published.

BMW 1-series Cabrie AC Schnitzer

Viewed from its roof construction, the new BMW 1-series Cabrio is a classic softy. But under its soft shell lurks a hard masculine cornering machine which isn't pushed aside by anyone: especially in the AC Schnitzer version. As honed as a high performance athlete, the car cuts a fine figure even in the car park. The Aachen-based BMW-tuners have transplanted the muscles visually to the right places. In the end, the vehicle is an agile sprinter and not a bodybuilder who can scarcely move for power. At first glance, the new front skirt strikes you - it is less rounded than standard and runs into a slight taper. This, in combination with the diagonal grille insert, ensures a far more dynamic appearance. And naturally the Cabriolet not only has a neat front, but also a strong rear: The AC Schnitzer rear skirt lip or insert (for M-Technik version) provides an extra cross contour in comparison with the original, and hence a more "powerful" look. Underneath, a diffuser element highlights the sporting heritage of the vehicle. The final touch is given by the chromed tailpipe trim in "Racing" design, available for the 118i, 120i, 125i, 120d and 123d.

The fact that the sporting appearance is more than just Show & Shine becomes evident to the driver from a glance in the rearview mirror. Because the car behind grows smaller at record speed when you put your foot to the floor. In both petrol and diesel engine variants, the Aachen tuners inject any amount of power into the compact cabrio. Extra horsepower is available for the 135i, 120d and 123d. And because the standard speedo is sometimes overloaded with so much "unbridled" power, AC Schnitzer upgrades it to 320 km/h.

Any pursuer's hopes of overtaking the agile 1-series on the next corner are soon deflated by the AC Schnitzer suspension. The spring kit alone allows transverse acceleration which seems to go beyond the laws of physics. But fortunately physics doesn't issue penalty notices! Obstacles can be evaded more quickly and precisely with the complete sports suspension, or even circled completely with the height-adjustable racing suspension. The comfortable 3-spoke sports airbag steering wheel from AC Schnitzer, and the further refined controls, always ensure that the car is a joy in your hands. All that remains for the final touch is a set of attractive wheels, and the 1-series will be dressed to take centre stage not just on twisty roads but also in front of the latest trendy café or bar. The 18" Type VI with its exciting re-interpretation of the classic Y-spoke design is an ideal choice of decor for the cabrio, as is the delicate but sporting Type IV in either 18" or 19", in silver or "BiColor". Or take your pick from a wide range of other styles in 17", 18" or 19". With the 1-series, the only thing left open by AC Schnitzer is the roof - not your dreams.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The New Jaguar Advanced Lightweight Coupe

The Jaguar Advanced Lightweight Coupe is not just a show car. It is a company personified. Like the iconic Jaguar XK120s and E-types that preceded it, the Jaguar Advanced Lightweight Coupe heralds a new generation of stunning sports coupes and saloons; cars that will remain true to Jaguar's illustrious past but more importantly will see the company leaping confidently forward into the future.

Created by Jaguar's advanced design team under the watchful eye of renowned Design Director Ian Callum, this high-performance show car is indicative of more than just the company's evolving design direction - the Advanced Lightweight Coupe represents the future of Jaguar, as an ambassador for a marque whose reputation was founded on beautiful and dynamic sports cars.

The Jaguar Advanced Lightweight Coupe is a physical expression of Ian Callum's direction for the next generation of Jaguar cars which, like this 2+2 show car, will have purposeful and seductive exteriors that bring Jaguar design firmly into the 21st century. And with the lightweight aluminium body architecture technology that was introduced with the new XJ saloon, in production form the Advanced Lightweight Coupe would be as dynamic and agile as it is desirable.

"This company has had many ground-breaking moments," says Joe Greenwell, Chairman and CEO, Jaguar Cars. "The XK120 was a ground-breaker and of course the E-type and XJ6 saloon in the 1960s helped to change the face of motoring. These were events in automotive design history that have stood the test of time and I would like to think that we will look back on the Advanced Lightweight Coupe as another of those moments in Jaguar's lineage."


What if we let our minds wander for a moment? What if this show car was a road-going reality? Well, the Jaguar Advanced Lightweight Coupe would be the most potent 2+2 the company has ever created. Thanks to a technologically advanced aluminium architecture - which is around 40 percent lighter and 60 percent stiffer than a standard steel body - and renowned V8 powertrain assembly, the car would be capable of compelling performance, reaching 60mph from standstill in less than five seconds and breaking the 180mph mark at maximum velocity.

Yet it is not simply straightline speed that would make the car so notable. It would also demonstrate an agility that reaffirms Jaguar's commitment to producing the best-handling sports coupes and saloons in the world.

"The Advanced Lightweight Coupe is the sort of Jaguar we want to build," says Joe Greenwell, Chairman and CEO, Jaguar Cars. "But that means we must do much more than just come up with a beautiful design, we must have the tools in place to turn that creative spark into something tangible. What people should recognise is that we have the people in place to allow this to happen. The company's engineering team is as strong as it has ever been and this new generation of engineers is all set to follow in the footsteps of great names from Jaguar's past.

"Today's team, with extraordinarily talented people such as Phil Hodgkinson, Jon Carling, Russ Varney and Mike Cross, will drive Jaguar's product direction. These are the people who will take Ian Callum's designs and ensure that the end products are as desirable as the concept cars that precede them."

The engineering excellence that abounds at Jaguar is reflected in this car's impressive technical specification. An aluminium chassis similar to that used in the new XJ saloon is constructed using many of the same advanced technologies. It is not just lightweight but also incredibly strong and stiff, which is of immense benefit to a car's handling and ride as well as fuel economy and exhaust emissions. The lighter body also means responsiveness is improved whether you are talking in terms of steering feel, traction or power delivery. Jaguar's V8 engines are admired as much for their impressive low-down torque as their peak power outputs and with a lighter aluminium body to propel, that torque is even more noticeable.

"The next generation of Jaguars will be remarkable drivers' cars," says Phil Hodgkinson, Director, Product Engineering. "Whether you want to relax behind the wheel on a long journey or head out simply for the pleasure of driving there will be no need to compromise. Our cars will be the perfect blend of performance and luxury."

Jaguar's array of intuitive technologies - features that make life easier for the driver, not more complicated - also sit easily with the Advanced Lightweight Coupe ethos. Dynamic aids such as Computer Active Technology Suspension work in conjunction with safety systems such as Adaptive Cruise Control and the Active Restraint Technology System - all features that Jaguar already has on its production cars.

And like Jaguar's XJ and S-TYPE saloons, this car has an adjustable pedal box to ensure that drivers are seated in optimum comfort. As with all Jaguar's technologies these systems operate discreetly, without intruding on the unparalleled Jaguar driving experience - they are there when you need them but never impose themselves.


In summary, the Advanced Lightweight Coupe is a beautiful, fast Jaguar that is true to the brand's past and heralds an exciting future. It combines the talents of Ian Callum and his design team with brilliant engineering expertise - a combination that will ensure every upcoming Jaguar model delivers both dynamically and visually.

"This car is as clear a statement on the strength and confidence of the company as we could possibly make," concludes Joe Greenwell, Chairman and CEO, Jaguar Cars. "Its design is assertive and pure - a perfect symbol for our 21st century cars - and beneath that beautiful body lies the heart and soul of a true Jaguar sports car."

"The Advanced Lightweight Coupe marks a return to the core values of Jaguar," says Bibiana Boerio, Managing Director, Jaguar Cars. "There is a determination in every department of this company to produce a new range of cars that provides the total Jaguar experience and this car is the first evidence of that determination.

"Aspirational and exclusive, with contemporary design and stunning performance, the Advanced Lightweight Coupe is conceived as a special car for special people. It represents the unique position that Jaguar holds in the market place - and even more it tells the world that we are set to make another bold leap forward. For Jaguar, the future begins now."

Friday, May 9, 2008

The New Volvo V70 R-Design

The best-selling Volvo V70 becomes the fifth Volvo model to be offered with the sporty factory-fitted R-Design option pack. This further cements Volvo Cars' aim to offer unique products to particularly discerning customers.

The Volvo V70 estate car is for many people the very essence of Volvo: practical, safe and exuding Scandinavian elegance. The R-Design pack spotlights a new dimension: impassioned, extrovert and challenging.

"Increasing numbers of customers want cars that express individual taste and style. Volvo Cars has therefore created the R-Design option pack to add a refined sporty look to the other attractive characteristics of our products," says Gerry Keaney, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Sales and Customer Service at Volvo Cars.

Comprehensive package

The R-Design pack for the Volvo V70 boasts a wide range of eye-catching features. For example door mirror housings and grille detailing in silk metal finish, chrome exhaust tailpipe and specially designed 18-inch aluminium wheels. On the inside it is primarily the purposeful, sporty leather-clad seats in black and cool Nordic Ceramic Light that catch the eye - together with the various aluminium details. From the instrument panel's aluminium inlays to the centre console and door sides, there is a milled circular décor pattern that spreads like ripples in water.

Optimised sports chassis

Volvo R-Design not only offers visible detailing, it packs properties that simply have to be experienced out on the road. The sporty chassis offers plenty of driving pleasure and immense control in every situation. The sports chassis has been optimised with the help of features such as stiffer anti-roll bars and bushings and lower ground clearance for more direct road contact and more responsive and rewarding steering feedback.

"The big challenge with this project the R-Design chassis was to combine crisp driving pleasure with Volvo's renowned secure properties in poor road conditions such as heavy rain or snow. I'm convinced we've found exactly the right balance," says Ekkehard Schwartz, Vice President Chassis and Vehicle Dynamics.

The whole package - Volvo V70 R-Design

  • Grille in silk metal finish with R-Design emblem.
  • Foglamp décor at the front in silk metal finish.
  • Door-mirror housings in silk metal finish.
  • Five-spoke 18-inch aluminium wheels - Cratus.
  • Black anodised window mouldings made of aluminium.
  • Tailgate spoiler in the same colour as the body.
  • Chromed visible exhaust tailpipe, 90 mm diameter,
  • Rear colour-matched spoiler with black insert.
  • Sports chassis: lowered 20 mm front and 15 mm rear.
  • 11 exterior colours to choose between.
  • Sports seats reinforced with extra foam padding in the seat and backrest cushions for added stability and comfort.
  • Combined instrument with blue dial faces unique to R-Design cars.
  • Sports steering wheel trimmed in perforated leather and R-Design emblem.
  • Sports pedals made of aluminium.
  • Upholstery of smooth leather in Off-Black and Ceramic Light colour combination, embossed with the R-Design emblem in the backrest.
  • Specially designed centre console and unique décor pattern.
  • Gear selector trimmed in perforated leather.
  • Off-Black sports mats.

To further emphasise its sportiness, the car has no rails on the roof. These are however available as factory options for those buyers who wish to specify them.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The New Brabus Mercedes-Benz SL

Rejuvenated by a substantial model update the fifth generation of the Mercedes SL now starts yet another chapter in the unparalleled success story of the popular Mercedes roadster. The corresponding exclusive sport program comes from BRABUS. Powerful increased-displacement engines with up to 730 hp (720 hp SAE net) / 537 kW of power, a striking designer suit, high-quality light-alloy wheels with diameters of up to 20 inches, professional suspension tuning and custom interior design: The BRABUS program leaves nothing to be desired.

The top-of-the-heap BRABUS power source for the SL 600 is the BRABUS SV12 S Biturbo engine, developed originally for the BRABUS ROCKET, the world’s fastest sedan. 730 hp (720 hp SAE net) / 537 kW of power and a whopping peak torque of 1,320 Nm (973 lb-ft), electronically limited in the car to 1,100 Nm (811 lb-ft), are the result of numerous modifications. During the displacement increase from 5.5 to 6.3 liters the engine’s interior is completely reworked. In addition the engine is fitted with a more efficient turbocharging system and a stainless-steel high-performance exhaust system with metal catalysts. Power is transferred via a reinforced five-speed automatic transmission and a special BRABUS limited-slip differential that is available for all SL models.

A sprint time of 4.0 seconds from rest to 100 km/h (62 mph), 10.5 seconds to 200 km/h (124 mph) and – depending on final drive ratio and tire speed rating – an electronically limited top speed of 350 km/h (219 mph) make the BRABUS SV12 S Biturbo roadster one of the world’s fastest sports cars.

BRABUS tuning is also available for the SL 65: The BRABUS T 12 S performance kit increases power output by 40 hp (DIN and SAE net) / 29.4 kW. The BRABUS T 65 S power kit bumps power output to 715 hp (705 hp SAE net) / 526 kW and peak torque to 1,100 Nm (811 lb-ft).

The SL 63 AMG also receives some added power with BRABUS B63 S tuning. Sport air filter, high-performance metal catalysts and newly programmed engine electronics add 40 hp (DIN and SAE net) 29.5 kW to the power output of the fast-revving V8 engine, and increase top speed to 320 km/h (200 mph).

The four-valve-V8 engine of the SL 500 (US: SL550) with BRABUS 6.1 S displacement increase produces 462 hp (456 hp SAE net) / 340 kW of power at 6,200 rpm and a peak torque of 615 Nm (453 lb-ft) at 3,100 rpm. The BRABUS 4.0 displacement engine with 332 hp (327 hp SAE net) / 244 kW of power and 420 Nm (310 lb-ft) of torque is available for the V6 four-valve engines of the SL 280 and SL 350.

The stainless-steel BRABUS sport exhaust system with four chrome-plated tailpipes is a must for all BRABUS high-performance engines. But it is also the answer for all SL owners wishing for a sportier exhaust note and for a more striking rear appearance of their two-seater.

To add sporty emphasis to the elegant lines of the new Mercedes SL series, the BRABUS designers went into the wind tunnel to develop a strikingly styled aerodynamic-enhancement kit.

The front of the SL receives some added pizzazz with the BRABUS front apron that replaces the production bumper. It features LED daytime running lights as well as auxiliary high beams and fog lamps, and reduces lift on the front axle at high speeds.

The elegantly shaped BRABUS rocker panels each have three entrance lights integrated into their underside. The lights are activated with the keyless fob or by pulling on an inside door handle. The LED lights illuminate the ground on either side of the vehicle and help avoid unfortunate missteps into puddles or holes in the dark.

The BRABUS design package for the latest SL-class is rounded out by a rear component that integrates environmental lighting, a centrally mounted rear reflector and two cutouts for the sport exhaust system.

Just as important for a customized look are one-piece and multi-piece BRABUS Monoblock light-alloy wheels, which can be mounted on the new roadster in four different designs and with diameters of 17, 18, 19 and 20 inches. The largest possible tire/wheel combination on the new SL features BRABUS Monoblock VI, E or S wheels in size 9Jx20 in front with size 255/30 ZR 20 tires. The rear axle rolls on size 10.5Jx20 wheels with size 305/25 ZR 20 tires. BRABUS recommends high-performance tires from Pirelli and YOKOHAMA.

To further improve the already potent handling capabilities of the new Mercedes SL, BRABUS has developed special suspension solutions. For the SL 280 and 350 models with conventional suspension BRABUS offers its sport springs. For all SL models with ABC active suspension BRABUS has developed an electronic module that lowers the ride height by some 25 millimeters. Sport sway bars reduce body roll.

BRABUS high-performance brake systems for the SL-Class are available in four different versions. The largest one features vented and cross-drilled front discs measuring 375 x 36 mm (14.8 x 1.4 inches), and 12-piston fixed calipers. The rear discs measure 355 x 28 mm (14.0 x 1.1 inches) and come with six-piston fixed calipers.

BRABUS also customizes the interior of the two-seater by upping the level of luxury. The list of products includes scuff plates with illuminated BRABUS-logo, an ergonomically shaped sport steering wheel with shift paddles, and an exclusive BRABUS custom interior crafted from an exquisite combination of especially soft yet durable BRABUS Mastik leather and Alcantara.