Monday, July 28, 2008

The New Mazda 6 US

The original Mazda 6, introduced in late 2002 for the 2003 model year, made Zoom-Zoom the two most evocative words in the automotive lexicon. This sport sedan was the first Mazda vehicle to benefit from the spirit of a true sports car infused in a five-passenger, 4-door sedan. That revolutionary combination created a commotion in the mid-size class where strict practicality, affordability, and economy of operation usually leave no room for driving enjoyment. The original Mazda 6's vitality is what set it apart from competitors.

Times and tastes change. The all-new 2009 Mazda 6 takes everything learned in that first-generation car, as well as lessons learned from volumes of customer feedback, and proves Mazda's commitment to continuous improvement. Most important, though, this is the first Mazda vehicle designed, engineered, developed, and manufactured on US soil with the intention of surpassing American customer needs in countless categories.

Hiroshi Kajiyama served as program engineer for the new Mazda 6. Kajiyama, who graduated in electrical engineering at the Hiroshima Institute of Technology, brings 21 years of service at Mazda, ample experience with the first generation Mazda 6, and several years of program management to the project. Unlike most engineers, Kajiyama treats the Mazda 6 as a work of art rather than an inanimate machine. That attitude was key to instilling the soul of a sports car in the new Mazda 6.


Over two million US buyers purchase a new mid-size automobile each year. Second only to full-size pickup trucks, the mid-size car segment is greater than that of SUVs, crossovers, minivans, and luxury models by a wide margin. Nearly one out of five American buyers believe that an affordable, mid-size sedan best fits their wide-ranging needs and lifestyles. With fuel costs rising, the mid-size segment is expected to experience strong growth.

Naturally, with such a large volume of cars sold, the competition is intense. There are more than a dozen worthy import and domestic brands and models striving to win the hearts and minds - and wallets - of mid-size customers.

While the original Mazda 6 won many faithful and passionate customers, a larger role is intended for its successor. The new 2009 Mazda 6 is aimed at a broader audience with the intention of offering the Zoom-Zoom experience to customers unaware of what they've been missing. The strategy is to move this vehicle to a distinctly different location on the premium versus sporty positioning map.

The strength of the 2003-2008 model was that its sporty design and demeanor exceeded the character of key competitors - Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry. In other words, the original Mazda 6 was steeped in Zoom-Zoom spirit. This sets the stage for the new Mazda 6 to make its move into uncharted territory. This is the mid-size sport sedan that excels in both premium and sporty directions thanks to its exceptional quality, roomy comfort, high-performance powertrains, aggressive dynamic character, and distinctive appearance. Add to that evolved Zoom-Zoom. The Mazda 6 represents an evolution in how enjoyable a mid-size sedan can be.


While the fresh, attractive design and advanced features of the Mazda 6 are sure to attract a broad audience, this vehicle was designed and engineered with a sharp focus on specific types of customers. The following five profiles don't necessarily define the length and breadth of that constituent base but they do aid in understanding how the Mazda 6 differs from mainstream mid-size models:

Style-conscious individuals anxious to enjoy the Next New Thing. The new Mazda 6 is a trend-setter in several respects, not the least of which is its exterior design. This car is a striking standout at the leading edge of styling trends. The sleek and elegant curvature of the roof, for example, sets the Mazda 6 apart in the mid-size category.

Sophisticated consumers who treasure top-quality possessions. Mid-size car customers have high standards for creature comforts and attention to detail. Mazda is targeting those with highly cultivated tastes because they are less concerned about bargain-basement prices than they are interested in obtaining a carefully made, thoughtfully designed car capable of fulfilling their expectations.

Mature individuals with youthful tastes and attitudes. Age is no longer a trustworthy indicator of buying habits. The Mazda 6 will definitely appeal to customers belonging to all age groups with this common interest: owing a comfortable, attractive sport sedan that's uniquely entertaining to drive.

Hard-core drivers. Mazda's reputation for spreading its Zoom-Zoom sports-car spirit into every vehicle is well known. Driving enthusiasts who shop here are always well satisfied by Mazda's dedication to responsive handling, sharp acceleration, and all-around nimble behavior.

The confident and uncompromising. The new Mazda 6 is distinctive in appearance and unique in fit, finish and dynamics. For many, the larger and more powerful Mazda 6 represents exactly the car they've waited patiently to own.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The New Acura RL

The redesigned 2009 Acura RL luxury sedan made its world debut at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show. Featuring bold, sleek exterior styling, an upgraded interior, advanced technologies and powerful new engine, the Acura RL once again pushes the limits of performance, style, and luxury. The 2009 Acura RL will go on-sale this spring at Acura dealerships nationwide.

The 2009 Acura RL furthers cutting edge technology with the addition of new high-tech items including AcuraLink® weather, AcuraLink® Traffic Rerouting™, a new Note function for XM® Radio, Active Sound Control, and Bluetooth® Audio to an already robust list of features found on the previous Acura RL. To enhance handling, new chassis technology abounds in the drivetrain in the form of improved Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™, a revised steering system, upgraded coil springs, better performing shock absorbers, larger rear stabilizer bar, and more aggressive wheels and tires. Performance improves with the Acura RL thanks to a new, larger 3.7-liter V-6 that incorporates the first ever SOHC use of VTEC® valvetrain actuation for both the intake and exhaust valves.

"RL represents the very best we have to offer in terms of engineering, technology, performance, luxury and safety", said Dick Colliver, executive vice president, sales. "It's designed for a new generation of performance-luxury buyers looking to travel more quickly, more efficiently and more connected to the world around them."

Body and Chassis

To further enhance handling and ride comfort, the new Acura RL retains a fully independent suspension system with front double-wishbone and rear multi-link architecture. For 2009 the Acura RL features higher rate coil springs, larger diameter stabilizer bars, stiffer subframe mount bushings and improved design steering rack components. To further improve handling and looks, new 18-inch diameter 7-spoke aluminum wheels are matched with more aggressive tires (replacing the previous 17-inch wheel/tire offering).


The 2009 Acura RL's new exterior styling is not only more aggressive, but delivers excellent aerodynamics and reduced rear lift at higher speeds. The Acura RL's more athletic style foreshadows the power concealed by the new power plenum front grille and blow-formed aluminum hood. The RL's shape is taut and athletic, and its acceleration and cornering performance allow it to challenge the most capable German and Japanese sports sedans. Comfort, quietness and ride quality are also on a par with performance sedan competitors. For 2009, eight exterior colors are available - 5 of which are new - including a new pearl pigment process that improves luster and shine.

Inside, the 2009 Acura RL features a more elegantly styled interior that includes more room for rear seat passengers, easier-to-use front seat belts, door-mounted pull pockets, softer arm rests, redesigned vents, larger/clearer lettering for HVAC controls, and easier actuation of climate control functions. A revised steering wheel with available genuine wood trim (included with the CMBS package) and metal-look accents is now fitted to the Acura RL along with a matching wood-trimmed transmission shift knob. Complementing the steering wheel are upgraded gauges that incorporate brushed metal accents for enhanced appearance. For 2009, additional insulation, a more high-tech design of Acura's acoustic glass windshield, and a new Active Sound Control (ASC) noise abatement system team to further reduce the Acura RL's already quiet cabin.

The RL's perforated leather front seats now incorporate six levels of heated/cooled ventilation. Moreover, just like the driver's seat, the passenger front seat now has 10-way power adjustability. For 2009, the center panel controls are now more intuitive and are surrounded by a new background color along with improved quality wood patterned panels. These interior upgrades are complimented by advanced electronics that include a satellite-linked Acura Navigation System with Voice Activation™ along with the innovative AcuraLink® satellite communication system with Real-time traffic, AcuraLink® Traffic Rerouting™ and (new for 2009) AcuraLink® weather. The Acura RL is the first vehicle on the market to feature in-dash integrated, continually updated real-time weather information in a single-screen format. The spectacular Acura/Bose® 10-speaker Sound System with DVD-Audio returns but is now upgraded to include Bluetooth® Audio, even richer audio sound, a new Note function for XM® Radio, improved button legibility, and a USB connectivity port.


The 2009 Acura RL retains Acura's extremely rigid Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure that features extensive use of high-tensile steel and lightweight aluminum components to take vehicle construction beyond conventional safety protocols while keeping overall vehicle weight in check. The ACE™ structure's front-mounted polygonal main frame is designed to help prevent cabin deformation by distributing frontal impact forces through multiple load bearing pathways--and away from the passenger compartment. For 2009, to enhance safety a new Active Head Restraint System is built into the front seats to help improve neck and head protection in the event in a rear impact collision. To further aid in safety, the Acura RL includes as standard a passenger seatbelt reminder, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and six airbags. These advances team to make the 2009 Acura RL the strongest, most powerful, best handling, safest and most luxurious sedan Acura has ever built.

The Acura RL earned 5-star ratings (the best possible) for frontal and side crash tests, and for rollover resistance, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The RL is the fourth vehicle in the history of the program to earn the top rating of "5-star" in all three test categories. Government star ratings are part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) New Car Assessment Program. In addition, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the Acura RL its top rating of GOOD in Side Impact Collision Evaluation (SICE) along with a GOOD rating for IIHS' frontal offset crash test. With a new Active Head Restraint System for front seat passengers, the 2009 Acura RL is anticipated to receive a GOOD rating in IIHS rear crash protection evaluation.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Concept: Lotus Hot Wheels

Group Lotus plc has teamed up with Hot Wheels®, the famous global die-cast brand, to design, develop and produce a Lotus Hot Wheels® Concept vehicle. This 1:5 scale model was on display to the world at the annual SEMA Show at the Las Vegas Convention Centre between 29th October and 2nd November 2007, and a 1:64 scale version of the design will become part of the Hot Wheels® product range in spring 2008.

To celebrate its 40th anniversary next year, Hot Wheels® approached Lotus and other world leaders in he automotive industry with the challenge for each company to produce a vehicle that embodies its own engineering philosophy and brand. The result from Lotus is a stunning open-top two seat sports car concept. Russell Carr, Head of Lotus Design said; "This was a dream job for the design team because, for many of us, when we were children, it was Hot Wheels® that first ignited our passion for cars and design.

Lotus Design's international reputation for designing visually dynamic and exhilarating sports cars perfectly fitted the brief for this programme and we relished the opportunity to design a concept that was free from the typical technical and legal constraints of a full size car. In addition the design offered unique challenges because it has to work as a toy and we therefore had to remember how specific views, features and tactile qualities of toy cars fascinated us as children. I am very proud of the final design by Steven Crijns that succeeds in being both instantly recognisable as a Lotus and a Hot Wheels® Car. Steven Crijns, Design Manager at Lotus Design and creator of this concept design explained; "Hot Wheels® cars are barely 75mm long, so specific attention went to create a bold shape that would work well at this scale. Another challenge was to create an exciting design that would work well as a toy. The car needed to be recognisable as a Lotus without having to turn it over to look at the badge underneath, so I took elements from the Lotus Elise and Lotus Exige such as the headlight design, the Lotus 'mouth', the pronounced wheel arches and trademark bonnet graphics. I was keen for the design to express the Lotus philosophy of performance through lightweight: the shrink wrapped body is kept to an absolute minimum to save weight. The dynamic voluptuous curves make the car look agile and fun to drive. Bold aerodynamic aids are incorporated to achieve exceptional Lotus handling. The top exit radiator at the front, a distinctive Lotus design feature, the rear diffuser and a large rear wing all provide down-force helping the vehicle stick to the road. In addition, large side air intakes and an open rear end aid engine breathing. Inside the car, the exposed centre spine is part of the structure and incorporates the switches and gear linkage and supports the rear wing."

Mike Kimberley, Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus Plc said "We are delighted to have worked with Hot Wheels®, who share our passion and enthusiasm for all things automotive. Lotus Design has a global reputation and is responsible for the design of all Lotus cars, including Lotus Europa, Exige and iconic Elise and many designs for our engineering clients globally. The same design team who created this stunning concept is also designing our new range of cars, the first of which, codenamed Project Eagle, will go into production at the end of next year."

Concept: Mazda Kazamai

Mazda will unveil a sporty, compact crossover concept vehicle, Mazda Kazamai, at the Moscow International Automobile Salon (MIAS) on August 26. Kazamai, which means "swirling crosswinds" in Japanese, expresses the powerful yet nimble image of a stylish and compact crossover. The concept is based on Mazda's long-term vision for technology development, Sustainable Zoom-Zoom, which aims to provide a unique balance between sporty driving fun, and superior environmental and safety performance. Mazda Kazamai Concept will be joined at MIAS by the Russian debut of Mazda CX-9 SUV, which was crowned 2008 North American Truck of the Year in February.

The Mazda Kazamai concept further evolves Mazda Nagare design language by fusing Nagare's 'flow' design cues with aerodynamic proportions. The design features panel lines inspired by crosswinds in nature which evoke visual lightness. Its bold five-point grille, accentuated front wheel arches and sleek roof line, combined with large 22-inch wheels, lend it high emotional appeal.

Sporty to look at, Mazda Kazamai Concept is meant to be spirited and fun to drive, with compact dimensions. Mazda Kazamai's four-wheel drive powertrain will consist of a next-generation direct injection engine and a newly-developed transmission. It is also aerodynamic, with an evolved lightweight body structure and enhanced vehicle safety attributes. Were it to be built, Mazda's latest show car would deliver exciting driving dynamics, frugal fuel consumption and greatly reduced CO2 emissions.

The Mazda Kazamai Concept promises to be another ground-breaking show car from Mazda Design, winner of this year's Grand Prix du Design in Paris. Created especially for the Moscow International Automobile Salon, it gives a good indication of where Mazda is going with a possible future compact crossover. And in Russia's growing automotive market, compact SUVs are the second-largest segment, representing about 13 percent of all new car sales.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The New Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin V8 Vantage - originally launched to widespread critical acclaim at the Geneva Motor Show in 2005 - is to receive significant technical enhancements, reaffirming the car's position as one of the world's most desirable and exhilarating sports cars.

While the universally distinctive and award-winning shape of the Aston Martin V8 Vantage is retained, the car benefits from a number of technical changes which include significantly up-rated engine performance from a new 4.7 litre power unit in both Coupe and Roadster variants. Other changes include revised dynamics to take full advantage of increased power and torque availability, improved Sportshift™ transmission software and a new sports suspension option.

The 4.7 litre V8 engine has a power output of 420bhp (an 11% increase on the previous 4.3 litre unit) and delivers peak torque of 470Nm (15% increase), providing the Aston Martin V8 Vantage with new reserves of mid-range performance, an improved 0-60mph time of 4.7 seconds and top speed of 180mph (288kph). Combined European fuel economy and CO2 emissions are also improved by 13% (Sportshift™).

Inside, the changes include a new centre console and revised switchgear and the introduction of an ECU replacing the previous V8 Vantage key. Externally, the acclaimed Aston Martin V8 Vantage design appearance is enhanced with a range of new standard and optional 19'' alloy wheels.

Aston Martin Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ulrich Bez said: "Continued development and evolution of our unique VH (Vertical-Horizontal) architecture has brought even higher levels of refinement and dynamic performance to our whole range.

"With the new 4.7 litre engine and associated changes we have taken the Aston Martin V8 Vantage to new levels of performance to produce an even more desirable sports car.

"The Aston Martin V8 Vantage is now the most successful Aston Martin in our history and we are confident these changes will continue its appeal and driving enjoyment for both new and existing customers."


Improvements in performance have been achieved through a number of carefully developed changes to Aston Martin's acclaimed V8 engine.

The cylinder bore and stroke has been increased from 89mm to 91mm and 86mm to 91mm respectively, giving a total displacement of 4735cc.

The increase in cylinder bore is facilitated by a move to cylinder liners that are pressed into the pre-machined aluminium alloy block, allowing a thinner liner than was possible with the cast-in design of the 4.3 litre engine.

The new forged steel crankshaft provides the 91mm stroke and incorporates new holes in the counter weights for reduced rotating mass and improved inter-bay breathing. New forged steel con-rods and cast aluminium pistons complete the capacity-related changes.

Other key changes include efficiency improvements to the dry sump lubrication system, including a new sump casting with oil pick-up points moved from the front and rear to the sides of the sump. The cylinder heads are modified with a new intake port and an inlet valve size increase from 34.9mm to 35.9mm. The intake manifold has been modified to match the new port to optimise air flow.


The Aston Martin V8 Vantage transmissions have also undergone changes to improve performance and to handle the increased levels of power and torque. Both the standard manual stick-shift gearbox and the optional Sportshift™ transmission benefit from a modified clutch and flywheel, reducing clutch pedal efforts and delivering a 0.5kg weight saving, reducing the rotating masses within the powertrain, and hence increasing engine responsiveness.

Aston Martin's Sportshift™ transmission has undergone a series of specific changes to broaden the capabilities of the gearbox to offer customers enhanced comfort and convenience with sporting capabilities. Changes include a revised control strategy, allowing the transmission, rather than the engine, to dictate how best the engine torque should be deployed to optimise performance and deliver power smoothly and consistently.

'Dual Throttle Map' software is also featured. When 'Comfort' mode is selected the engine reacts in a smoother more progressive manner to driver throttle inputs and in the default 'Sports' mode the throttle mapping is more aggressive, delivering a more dynamic and sporting feel.

Sportshift™ now also has the capability to take inputs from the steering wheel enabling the current gear to be held when the car is negotiating a corner and hill descent detection, allowing a low gear to be held, maximising the effects of engine braking.


A series of improvements are introduced to the Aston Martin V8 Vantage chassis and suspension setup to deliver improved body control and low speed ride quality; enabling the driver to take full advantage of the increased performance potential.

A number of the improved components originally introduced on the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster are now carried over to the Coupe, including revised upper damper mountings and bump stops. Additionally, the front spring rates are stiffened by 11% at the front and 5% at the rear.

Steering geometry is also modified to improve steering feel, while the front lower suspension arm compliance bushes are stiffened by 22% to provide enhanced steering response and handling.

The Aston Martin V8 Vantage also now benefits from Bilstein dampers as standard; these low-friction dampers provide improved levels of dynamic capabilities and further improve ride quality.

Design & Optional Equipment

Also introduced as an option for both Coupe and Roadster variants is a new Sports Pack which comprises forged lightweight alloy wheels aiding a lower unsprung mass, re-tuned Bilstein dampers with improved dynamic response, up-rated springs and a revised rear anti-roll bar (Coupe only). The Sports Pack is intended to offer greater agility, high speed body control and precision feel for the most enthusiastic of drivers.

Although the award-winning exterior design of the Aston Martin V8 Vantage remains largely unchanged, a new 20-spoke 19'' alloy wheel is introduced as standard, with either diamond turned silver or graphite finishes available as options, affording customers maximum choice. Alternatively, as part of the Sports Pack option, a 5-spoke lightweight aluminium wheel will be provided.

In the cabin, a new centre console constructed from die cast zinc alloy with a graphite silver finish is introduced along with a new ECU - first seen on the Aston Martin DBS in 2007. The ECU - constructed from glass, polished stainless steel and polycarbonate - replaces the key used previously for the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. The revised car also includes a new Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Navigation System offering faster route processing, additional features and improved graphics. Full ipod/MP3 integration is retained as standard equipment.

First shown as a concept car at the 2003 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Aston Martin AMV8 Concept caused a worldwide sensation as it allowed Aston Martin to enter a new sector of the premium sports car market with a genuine alternative to other cars on offer. Deliveries of the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Coupe to customers began in late 2005, joined by a convertible sibling in 2007 when the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster was launched. The car is hand built at Aston Martin's Headquarters at Gaydon, Warwickshire, UK and to date more than 10,000 have been delivered to customers around the world.


  • Max speed: 180mph (290 km/h)
  • Acceleration: 0-60mph 4.7 seconds
  • 0-100km/h (62mph) 4.8 seconds
  • Max power: 313kW (420bhp) @ 7000 rpm
  • Max torque: 470 Nm (346 lb.ft) @ 5750 rpm

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

BMW 6-Series from Hamann

When it comes to exclusively refining BMWs, Hamann-Motorsport is one of the first addresses. Again, the Laupheim-based company gives proof to this by introducing its latest refinements for the new BMW 6-series. By developing an entire tuning programme not only for the coupé, but also the convertible, Hamann-Motorsport renders an additional sportive and individual touch to the facelift already applied by BMW.

Already the design elements create this impression and increase the aerodynamics as well. The front- and rear spoiler reduce the buoyant forces of the Hamann BMW 6-series which has a significant effect on the car´s handling and agility. This is also achieved with an additional pair of side skirts which significantly calms the air flow between both axles. The roof- and rear spoiler also ensure the necessary surface pressure on the asphalt. Mainly on country roads with winding sections, the Hamann-aerodynamic package unfolds its strengths and generates pure enjoyment of driving.

At Hamann-Motorsport, the individual wishes of our customers are also top of the list. This has been taken into account when designing the tuning package for the BMW 6-series. Due to the large interest in different optical programmes, our designers developed another aerodynamics package called EDITION RACE. This turns the BMW in an impressive sports car, as it consequently emphasizes the broadening components. New front wings, 4-part wing broadenings in the back and enormous side skirts transform the BMW 6-series into an automobile which looks like a race car from the German Touring Car Masters or other touring car championships.

But there is even more to the Hamann sport tuning elements under the bonnet. When developing the Hamann BMW 6-series program, our technicians rather concentrated on evolution instead of revolution. Basically, the sport limousine has a good motorisation, therefore we put a special focus on the performance enhancement for the 630i, 650i and the diesel BMW 635d. Adapting the motor management with up to 21 hp more and the powerful torque increase can be felt immediately when accelerating. Moreover, Hamann customers can look forward to the Vmax abolition. This enables the BMW 650i to boost the maximum speed from 250 to 270 km/h.

The Hamann sport exhaust system renders an earthy and impressive sound. The stainless steel muffler with its four round tail pipes can be optically perked up with metal catalysts, sport fan manifolds and a middle pipe set.

The rim programme is also impressive in terms of dimension and diversity. No matter if you are looking for something sporty, elegant or noble - Hamann offers varying wheel-designs and sizes. The designation HM EVO reveals a one-piece wheel with 20 inches. Its modern style is underlined with its black-lacquered varnish, diamond-grinded hub star and a discreet recess. Five extended and vaulted triple spokes display the optical and technical finesse. The recommended front wheel-tyre combination is 8,5Jx20 inches with tyres measuring 245/35ZR20 and 10,5Jx20 inches with 285/30ZR20 tyres in the back.

One of the technical highlights of the offered tuning programme is the 21-inch model called HM EVO "FORGED". Manufactured in forge technology, it is extremely light and improves the handling, acceleration and braking characteristics by its reduced unsuspended masses. The front wheel-tyre combination is offered in 9,0Jx21 inches with tyres measuring 255/30ZR21 and 10,5Jx21 inches with tyres measuring 295/25ZR21 in the back. Prices starting at 7,620 euros.

Hamann recommends high performance tyres type S1 EVO from its technology partner Hankook.

The extended product programme of HAMMAN´s sport accessories includes progressively coiled chassis springs for lowering the chassis, a height adjustable coil-overs and a sport braking system. Hamann tunes the interior with a 3-spoke sport steering wheel with an air-bag, a black instrumental dial with a scale up to 300 km/h as well as matching pedals, leg rests and hand brake handles made of aluminium.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The New Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series

Sensational appearance, unique performance data, with light-weight design throughout and total exclusivity - that's the new Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series. This high-performance coupé is a motorsport engineering thoroughbred, opening up new drive dynamic vistas to sports car enthusiasts. The AMG 6.0 litre V12 biturbo engine, with a maximum output of 493 kW/670 hp and 1000 Newtonmetres of torque, guarantees super sports car level performance. The powerful two-seater was developed in the AMG Performance Studio and represents the continuation of the highly successful Black Series strategy pursued by AMG, the Mercedes-Benz Cars Performance brand.

Broad, muscular and ready to pounce - that's the new Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series. Even when stationary, the coupé's superlative dynamism can arouse great passions. The strikingly broad mudguards, the retractable rear spoiler and the rear apron with diffuser fins point unmistakably to its motorsport origins, part of the Mercedes-AMG corporate philosophy for more than 40 years. One glance at the new Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series and you are reminded of the successful AMG racing sports cars like the present DTM C-Class or the 1997 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR from the FIA-GT series.

Unique performance thanks to attractive power-to-weight ratio

The extraordinary engine specifications, which make the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series the most powerful AMG model yet, help to produce unique performance data: from a standing start, it takes just 3.9 seconds to reach 100 km/h; 200 km/h is attained after 11.0 seconds. The top speed is 320 km/h (electronically limited).

Equally responsible for its excellent dynamics is the attractive power-to-weight ratio of only 2.79 hp/kg, resulting from the comparably low unladen weight of 1870 kilograms, according to EU standard measurement. This makes the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series some 250 kilograms lighter than the Mercedes-Benz SL65 - a respectable weight saving due specifically to the use of lightweight construction. Numerous bodywork components are made of high-strength and particularly light carbon fibre composites (CFRP), a well-proven motorsports technology. The 14 centimetre wider front mudguard, the front apron with the visible carbon front splitter, the bonnet and the boot lid are all made from CFRP. Large apertures in the bonnet ensure that excess heat is reliably ducted away from the engine. "V12 Biturbo" lettering on the front mudguards gives an indication of the engine's power.

New CFRP roof with integral roll-over bar

The whole CFRP roof shell has taken on a completely new design. Not only does it now have an integral roll-over bar but, by no longer having the typical SL vario roof installed, the roof line has a significantly flatter profile. This is also evident from a glance at the bigger rear window, now placed at a less sharp angle to the boot lid. The CFRP rear spoiler, concealed in the boot lid, automatically extends twelve centimetres at 120 km/h, effectively reducing the lift force on the rear axle at high speeds. Looked at from the rear, the conspicuous feature is the new rear apron with its visible carbon diffuser. Concealed within it is the active cooling system for the rear axle locking differential.

New, weight-optimised, twin-spoke design, AMG forged alloy wheels - 19 inch wheels at the front and 20 inch at the rear - impressively occupy the whole of each wheel housing. With their black paintwork, high-sheen surface and matt finish, they lend a note of extravagance to the side profile.

Power transmission with double-declutch function and four transmission modes

Matching the outstanding performance potential and the versatile drive dynamics, the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series also displays its power pack and suspension at their best. An AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS five-speed automatic gearbox transmits power to the rear wheels. There is a choice between four transmission modes: "C", "S", "M1" and "M2" which has gearshift times 25 per cent quicker than the "M1" mode. The torque converter's lockup clutch guarantees extremely direct gearshifting in all driving situations right from first gear. The automatic double-declutch function not only makes shifting down a more pleasurable task, it also ensures that the load alteration effect is reduced.

AMG adjustable coil spring sports suspension and 3-stage ESP

As for the suspension, the AMG experts have put their trust in a new design. The AMG sports suspension has been designed on adjustable coil spring lines; this well-proven motorsports solution allows the shock absorbers' rebound and compression stages, the ride height, wheel alignment and camber to be adjusted. This means that the driver can adjust the suspension to suit his own personal specifications when driving on racing circuits. The spring links, camber struts and pull/push rods on both axles are new developments and each axle has a weight-optimised aluminium wheel carrier. Compared with the standard Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG, the Black Series front axle track width is 97 millimetres wider and the rear axle track width 85 millimetres wider. The new front axle kinematics produce an 8 per cent more direct steering ratio; and the completely re-designed elastokinematics ensure noticeably greater steering precision. A multiple-disc limited-slip differential on the rear axle with a 40 per cent locking effect guarantees optimum traction.

The 3-stage sports function ESP is a by-word for maximum driving pleasure and outstanding drive dynamics: The driver can choose between "ESP ON", "ESP SPORT" and "ESP OFF" by pressing the ESP button; the AMG instrument cluster will then show whichever mode is currently activated on the central display.

Sports tyres and composite disc brakes for best performance

The wheel-tyre combination chosen is also responsible for a superb performance by the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series on racing circuits. 265/35 R 19 tyres are fitted to 9.5 inch wide AMG light-alloy wheels on the front axle. The impressive format for the rear axle is AMG 11.5 x 20 light-alloy wheels with 325/30 R 20 tyres. Dunlop, DTM's motorsports partner, supplies the "Sport Maxx GT" sport tyres which provide particularly good grip and permit astonishing cornering speeds.

The large AMG high-performance brake system can be seen through the filigree structure of the AMG twin-spoke light-alloy wheels. Internally ventilated and perforated disc brakes engineered in particularly strong composite materials are employed all round. On the front axle, braking is undertaken by six-piston fixed callipers and 390 x 36 mm discs; on the rear axles, this task is carried out by four-piston fixed callipers and 360 x 26 mm discs.

A functional and lovingly designed interior

Nappa leather, Alcantara and carbon: the interior of the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series provides the perfect ambience to set the pulses of sports car enthusiasts racing. The interior, entirely in black, exudes the functional atmosphere of a genuine racing sports car while the lovingly designed details have the power to captivate.

Newly developed AMG sports bucket seats made of CFRP (ECE version only) provide perfect lateral support for the occupants when taking bends fast. The seats without side airbags are upholstered in fine-grained nappa leather and Alcantara with embossed AMG lettering in the head restraints. With its 15 millimetre smaller diameter, flattened lower profile and with both sides perforated for easier grip, the AMG Performance steering wheel provides maximum vehicle control. The silver-coloured aluminium shift paddles allow manual gear selection.

Additional highlights in the centre console are the high-quality carbon trim parts, the gleaming matt start/stop button, the new selector lever with carbon inlay and the AMG logo with "Black Series" lettering. Matching features are the carbon door centre panels with embossed AMG lettering, together with the roof lining and the A and C-pillars upholstered in Alcantara anthracite.

The AMG instrument cluster is a completely new design. The black speedometer with its scale reading up to 360 km/h has also been re-designed; and the same is true of the white rev counter which has four integral LEDs to advise the driver of the optimum gearshift points.

Exhaustive development in all the world's climate zones

Exhaustive development and testing of the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series began in 2006. AMG engineers and technicians test drove ten prototypes and experimental vehicles in all the world's climate zones. Whether it was fast circuits of the Nürburgring, high-speed test driving in Nardo (Italy), wind tunnel testing, intensive test driving in summer heat or the cold of the Arctic or actual crash testing - the new AMG high-performance coupé had to prove its production readiness under all conditions. In total, the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series was test-driven for roughly 30,000 kilometres on various circuits, 15,000 kilometres of which were on the Nürburgring north loop alone, acknowledged to be the world's most difficult race circuit.

Like the SLK 55 AMG Black Series and the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series before it, the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series was also developed in the AMG Performance Studio, which opened in 2006. The first vehicles will be delivered to customers, starting in November 2008.

Technical specification

  • Configuration and number of cylinders: V12
  • Valves per cylinder: 3
  • Cubic capacity: 5980 cm³
  • Bore x stroke: 82.6 mm x 93.0 mm
  • Compression ratio: 9.0: 1
  • Power output: 493kW (670hp) at 5400 rpm
  • Max. torque: 1000 Nm at 2200-4200 rpm (electronically limited)
  • 0-100 km/h: 3.9 s
  • 0-200 km/h: 11.0 s
  • Top speed: 320 km/h (electronically limited)

The New Peugeot 308 CC

As the pioneer of "folding roof cars" with its elegant 401, 601 and 402 "Eclipse" models from the 1930s, Peugeot has never lost its desire to give motorists the freedom to drive in either the coupé or cabriolet configuration through the "magic" of a rigid roof that folds into the boot.

It's now almost a decade ago, at the Geneva Motor Show in 1998, that this innovative motoring concept was launched in the form of the 20-heart concept car.

This concept soon evolved into the Peugeot 206 CC and the Peuogeot 307 CC, popularising a concept which was considered, until then, only for the elite. The heirs to these successful first generation vehicles have already taken to the road in the form of the Peugeot 207 CC and the soon-to-be launched Peugeot 308 CC.

By the end of May 2008, Peugeot had produced nearly 632,000 coupé-cabriolets for enthusiasts of this "lifestyle" motoring concept, making Peugeot the world leader in this body style:

  • 457,500 Peugeot 206 CCs and 207 CCs with their 2 + 2 architecture in the small car segment (B)
  • 174,500 Peugeot 307 CCs with four full size seats in the medium car segment (M1)

Since the launch of the 307 CC in 2003, the structure of the lifestyle market has undergone a number of profound changes. Recently, cabriolets with a retractable rigid roof have become more popular than vehicles with a more vulnerable "soft top".

For the majority of customers, the 307 CC was the household's main car. It was chosen for the intelligence of its design and for its elegance but was also greatly appreciated in daily use for its comfort, specification and ride quality.

The Peugeot 308 has already taken the place of the Peugeot 307 in its hatchback and its SW versions, offering all the benefits of its successful forerunner while, at the same time, imposing its new identity, modern feel and strong personality.

In the same vein, the Peugeot 308 CC with its four full size seats capitalises on the genetic codes of the 308, embodying the "307 CC spirit" and Peugeot's coupé-cabriolet expertise. Above all it promises enthusiasts of "lifestyle" motoring a unique and genuinely attractive offer.

An attractive design

The Peugeot 308 CC stands out by the superb fluidity of its style, both in its coupé and cabriolet configurations. From the badge to the end of the roof, from the door to the lower rear panel, the graphic style of its profile is emphasised by light reflecting contours. Chrome detailing further enhances this elegant profile.

Low slung and firmly planted on its wheels, the Peugeot 308 CC has a prominent shape and spectacular LED rear lights that use "red light curtain" technology to create a unique signature for the car by day and by night.

The passenger compartment has an undeniable personality. Particularly striking in the "cabriolet" version, it has a different feel from the hatchback and creates the impression of a grand touring car.

The sculpted front seats with their integral head restraints have inbuilt air vents which diffuse warm air around the occupants neck. The rear seats mirror this distinctive design and offer rear accommodation surprisingly generous for a cabriolet.

The door panels also have an exclusive design, incorporating an elegant yet dynamic and robust metallic inner door handle. The sporty steering wheel, the special finish of the instrument panel and the "black lacquer" centre console complete this theme.

In terms of the "sporty" "haute couture" feel of the car, the Peugeot 308 CC is clothed with dynamic fabrics, simple leather or even an "integral leather" trim. This now extends to the entire passenger compartment which is usually unseen in this segment. In Black, Vintage or Beige, the attractive interior trims differ according to the range of body colours: Fashionable pearlescent black, subtle "terre d'ombre" and also the established favourites: blue, red, black and grey are available.

A typical CC specification

Meticulously designed to enhance the day-to-day comfort and convenience of its occupants, the Peugeot 308 CC offers a multitude of "everyday" benefits.

The fully automatic retractable roof can be magically transformed in 20 seconds and the operation can be viewed on the colour display, turning the car into a dynamic coupé or an elegant cabriolet according to the mood of its occupants.

A coupé-cabriolet with four full size seats, the Peugeot 308 CC benefits from wider tracks and a wider body compared to the 307 CC, as well as a front seat structure which offers both generous leg room to the rear occupants and provides a good amount of space.

Two dynamic and flexible engines power the Peugeot 308 CC through a six speed manual gearbox. unless an automatic gearbox is preferred. They are the 1.6 litre THP 110 kW (150 bhp) turbocharged direct injection petrol engine and the 2.0 litre HDi FAP Euro 5 103 kW (140 bhp) diesel engine, the latter being also particularly environmentally-friendly.

The car combines both motoring enjoyment with efficient road holding. The wide tracks, the lowered ride height and high-performance suspension specially developed for this body style give the Peugeot 308 CC excellent potential, together with a real sense of security for the driver. The large 302 x 26 mm disc brakes are an equal match to the performance of the engines. This is combined with an ESP system that watches over the occupants at all times.

Inside the Peugeot 308 CC an excellent structural rigidity wards off any vibrations that might affect steering, rear vision or seat comfort. This is the result of carefully placed structural reinforcements: dampers that pacify, braces ready to take the strain.. In short, the Peugeot 308 CC offers a highly rigid structure and excellent vibration damping demonstrating Peugeot's coupé-cabriolet expertise.

An indispensable ingredient of comfort and convenience inside the car, the low interior noise levels of the Peugeot 308 CC in its coupé configuration will clearly set the vehicle apart from its competitors.

The Peugeot 308 CC is designed to create a real sensation of tranquillity in the passenger compartment. The structure is robust and designed to withstand and dissipate front and side impact energy. It is also supplemented by innovative and intelligent means of restraint that the cabriolet body shape dictates. They include a chest/pelvis side air bag built into the front seats and exclusively a side head air bag which is a world first, guaranteeing effective protection of all parts of the body regardless of seat position.

Within a few milliseconds of the risk of a rollover being detected (less than the blink of an eye), rear "pop-up" pyrotechnic roll-over protection bars create a passenger survival cell with the strengthened windscreen pillars designed for this purpose.

The aim of all this important safety work is to obtain 5 stars in the EuroNcap test for the protection of adult occupants of the vehicle.

In harmony with the seasons. The cabriolet configuration can even be enjoyed in cold weather, whether it's making the most of early spring, saying no to winter or driving with the roof down in beautiful snow bound landscapes. Peugeot offers all these pleasures to the occupants of the Peugeot 308 CC, thanks to its protective architecture, its intelligent air conditioning (which adapts its operation to the cabriolet body shape), heated seats, its windstop and. its remarkable "Airwave" system built into the front seats, which acts like a scarf by diffusing warm air adjustable for temperature/flow and direction.

Following are further typical CC features and equipment testifying to the ability of the Peugeot 308 CC to anticipate its occupants' needs.

  • Automatic remote-control locking of interior storage compartments (glove box and storage under the central armrest)
  • Centralised control of all four windows.
  • The special "rear seat access" function with electrically-operated seats.
  • Deadlocking of doors and selective unlocking.
  • LED courtesy lighting in the door mirrors.

Not forgetting a usable boot with dedicated storage spaces (including one under the boot carpet for the windstop), laid out to resemble a presentation box. Its capacity (VDA method) is 403 dm3 in the coupé configuration and 226 dm3 under the windstop in the cabriolet configuration (or 465 litres and 266 litres respectively in "water" equivalent).

Finally, to make the journey even more pleasant a wide range of WIP (World In Peugeot) options are available on the Peugeot 308 CC:

  • WIP sound, MP3 CD audio system
  • WIP Bluetooth, MP3 CD audio system, USB Box and hands-free kit.
  • WIP Nav, a user-friendly satellite navigation system offering a MP3 CD audio system, Bluetooth functionality and satellite navigation with a retractable 7" 16/9 colour display.
  • WIP Com 3D, a top-of-the-range satellite navigation system with a 30 GB hard disc and a Juke Box function, MP3 CD audio system, integral mobile phone, Bluetooth functionality, USB connector and a retractable, high-resolution 7" 16/9 colour screen with a 3D display.
  • The JBL Hi-fi pack with 10 speakers offering made-to-measure sound which recognises and adapts to the cabriolet configuration.

The New Peugeot 407 SW

The new Peugeot 407

The Peugeot 407 has an elegance that truly stands out in its segment, in keeping with the Peugeot 207 and Peugeot 308.

Its excellent resale value and reliability are combined with competitive running costs, as confirmed by surveys carried out recently in Germany.

In terms of handling it excels, combining active safety, driving involvement and comfort of a high level.

Incorporating the very best technical solutions, this recognised expertise will be referred to as Peugeot Road Touch Tech in communications to the general public.

This summer however, in anticipation of customer expectations, Peugeot strengthens the appeal of this model by raising its status even more. The new Peugeot 407 has enhanced fundamental features of the 407 that are key sources of enjoyment for its users.

Subtle visual improvements updating a design that is just as dynamic and bold as before but now features more in terms of elegance, robustness and high quality, both externally and internally.

New enhanced comfort equipment increasing the appeal of the different versions by offering even greater specification and well-being to its occupants, particularly onboard temperature control and new telematics systems.

New equipment like front parking assistance enhances the car's world-wide reputation for ease of driving and dynamic performance.

It is available with a choice of four- and six-cylinder engines featuring the latest technology, particularly on the HDi Diesel versions, the most popular engine specified in the Peugeot 407.

These include an uprated 2.0-litre HDi engine with a 6-speed manual gearbox which develops a power of 103 kW (140bhp), an increase of 3kW (4bhp). It also benefits from a fuel consumption of 5.6 litres/100km (42.0mpg) and CO2 emissions reduced to 150g/km. This engine is approved in accordance with future Euro 5 regulation standards. This new specification testifies Peugeot's ongoing commitment to achieve the best possible environmental performance on the new Peugeot 407.

For example, after the standard fitment of an additive-enhanced diesel particulate filter system (FAP) on HDi Diesel powered 407s and following the introduction of the 1.6-litre HDi FAP engine (110bhp), particularly well suited as a fleet vehicle thanks to its low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions (only 140g/km for the Saloon and SW), a new 2.0-litre 'Bioflex' engine operates on E85 fuel and will be available for destinations where road tax incentives favour biofuels, with their environmental benefits.

To summarise, Peugeot has seized a great opportunity during the summer of 2008, to strengthen the appeal among motoring enthusiasts with the attractive new Peugeot 407 in the Saloon, SW and Coupé versions.

Upgrades to exterior style

At the front, the new Peugeot 407 Saloon and Peugeot 407 SW models benefit from a redesigned air intake. This important stylistic signature has been improved in terms of visual quality and elegance, but also has a stronger and more technically refined appearance.

Lateral black components adopt a new design that blends harmoniously with the lines of the transverse black beam. A new delicately curved grille rounds off the air intake assembly. It consists of a triple row of horizontal chrome bars crossed by a vertical chrome bar. Their cross section and inclination capture the light, adding presence to the grille and making mechanical assemblies more opaque without adversely affecting their cooling performance.

To protect the car from knocks and provide even more convenience to Peugeot 407 owners, front parking assistance system has been added to the rear parking assistance. As a result, the front bumper now discreetly incorporates the four sensors that gather information for the system.

The centrepiece of elegance and distinction of the entire range, the body protection mouldings are finished in body colour and accompanied with a chrome trim finisher.

The rear of the new Peugeot 407 Saloon draws inspiration from the natural sporting personality of the Coupé and its individual character.

The entirely redesigned new lower rear panel incorporates a protective capping decorated by a chrome bead. The lower part with its elaborate 'diffuser' adds to the car's dynamism, while the upper part of this new lower rear panel forms the basis of a redesigned boot sill.

This new shape of the lower rear panel accentuates the robust image of the rear of the Peugeot 407 Saloon while at the same time improving quality of style, due to the reduced clearances and the integration of four rear parking assist sensors in the bumper itself, making them particularly discreet.

The rear lights are entirely redesigned and add a new touch of originality by day and by night. With a ruby red housing and a crystal white finish on the reversing light and direction indicator, the daytime look appears noticeably different.

By night, the reflector function now moves from the lights to the 'diffuser' in the form of two small horizontal bars on either side of the registration plate.

The new volume of the lights, their transparent red reflector with chrome surround and peripheral textured finish, improve the quality appearance due to the high quality production procedure.

The rear of the new Peugeot 407 SW is also enhanced stylistically with a new lower rear panel and new lights.

The new rear volume is aligned harmoniously with the front of the SW. This enhances the effect of a monolithic sculpture and adds to the image of robustness and its high quality finish, which ensures flush-fitting components and minimal clearances, meticulous in every detail.

The new shape of the lower rear panel has a more pronounced curve, and gives a new visual identity to the rear design, which now incorporates edge protection mouldings enhanced with a chrome trim finisher, as well as recessed parking assistance sensors. In the lower section, its discreet diffuser effect adds a further touch of dynamism.

The new rear lights, in the upper section, exhibit a pronounced diode effect similar to that of the Peugeot 407 Coupé. The new reflector has a red lacquered finish giving the car a refined visual appeal by day. A collimator baffle with multiple prisms directs light to 'drop' zones where it is then diffused. In the lower light section, the reflector zone rotates elegantly.

External dimensions

Developments in style have resulted in a slight increase to the rear overhang, which sees the Saloon retain an overall length of less than 4.70m:

  • Saloon: 4691mm (+15mm)
  • SW: 4765mm (+2mm)

Other dimensions are unchanged and add to the aesthetic and dynamic balance of both versions.

Upgrades to interior style

The luxurious passenger compartment of the Peugeot 407 features new decorations and trim, creating an upmarket elegant atmosphere in a new execution that enhances perceived quality.

A spectacular 'lustrous pearlescent black' decoration similar to the finish on a high quality piano decorates the centre console, air vent trims, door handle inserts and door panel trims, creating a visual link between the door panels and the fascia panel. This enhances the ambience of the passenger compartment and is underlined by 'Square' metallic or 'Carmin burl' wood finishes on the Saloon and SW or an 'Alcane Grey' trim on the Peugeot 407 Coupé.

Entry level versions feature an 'iridescent (light affected) dark grey' decoration on the centre console and a 'silver satin' trim on the fascia panel and door panel mouldings.

Even more chrome

Accompanying these improvements are new rotary buttons and circular controls on the air conditioning, radio and telematics equipment have chrome surrounds, as do the control pads of the new satellite navigation system (see section entitled 'interior communication') and the CD player.

New trims

Adding significantly to the elegance and comfort of the passenger compartment and complementing the specification and style of different versions, the seats are available with high-quality cloth or leather trims.

The New Renault Scenic

The Renault Scenic range has been revised with a view to making it more efficient and streamlined, as well as to enhance its appeal on the highly competitive compact MPV market. The new Renault Scenic line-up focuses on six equipment levels: Emotion, Latitude, Carminat, Exception, Conquest and Jade. These changes combine with evolutions to the model's interior and exterior styling, as well as upgrades for the different equipment levels and the introduction of option packs.

Styling changes

The new Renault Scenic range features a number of evolutions to the model's exterior styling. For enhanced appeal, all versions except the Conquest equipment level are now equipped with satin-chrome foglamp surrounds and trims, grille and door handles, plus Gloss Black lower headlamp masks.

Inside, all versions now come with a leather gearlever knob and steeringwheel. The Latitude, Carminat and Jade versions feature light beige for the dashboard and upholstery, while the Emotion, Exception and Conquest equipment levels are delivered with a dark charcoal interior trim.

A simplified range structure and additional equipment

The Renault Scenic range has been streamlined to make it easier to take in. In response to customer demand, the new structure is based on six equipment levels (compared with 10 previously), namely Emotion, Latitude, Carminat, Exception, Conquest and Jade.

The simplified structure has been combined with equipment upgrades, while three option packs - including two that are identical to those currently available for the 2008 Renault Mégane range, and which represent a customer saving of up to 28 per cent - have been incorporated in the catalogue:

  • Voyage Pack: opening rear screen and baggage separation net (customer saving = 21 per cent);
  • Techno Pack: Audio Connection Box and hands-free Bluetooth telephone controls (customer saving = 27 per cent);
  • Premium Pack: tyre pressure monitoring system and Xenon headlamps equipped with headlamp washers (customer saving = 28 per cent).

The New 2008 Renault Scenic Range in detail

The Scenic and Authentique finishes have been dropped in favour of the Emotion equipment level which sees a marked upgrade. This includes the addition of foglamps, a dark charcoal leather gearlever knob and steeringwheel, the same dashboard as the former Dynamique equipment level, comfort-adjustable headrests, a lumbar-adjustable driver's seat and a forward-tipping front passenger seatback. Despite all this additional equipment, the price has been reduced by €300 compared with the former Authentique version.

The Expression version is no longer available, but the Latitude equipment level (a former limited edition) has been carried over. Compared with the specification of the limited edition version which the latter replaces, this new, emblematic equipment level also features the same dashboard as the former Privilège version with no impact on its price.

The Carminat limited edition keeps its appellation and is equipped with the former Privilège dashboard plus a beige leather gearlever knob at no extra price.

The Dynamique version has been removed from the catalogue. The Exception limited edition appellation remains, however, and becomes one of the new line-up's six equipment levels. It features the introduction of a fixed glass sunroof and a 4x15W radio-CD with MP3 playback (instead of the former 4x15W radio-CD). Despite this upgrade in terms of additional equipment, the price of the Exception equipment level has been cut by €50 compared with the former limited edition of the same name.

The Conquest version has been carried over and now includes a height-adjustable front passenger seat and a 4x15W radio-CD with MP3 playback (instead of the 4x15W radio-CD) with no impact on its price.

The Privilège version has been dropped from the catalogue, while the Jade version remains. The latter continues to be extensively equipped and now incorporates the Carminat Bluetooth CD navigation system complete with 4x15W radio-CD with MP3 playback and fingertip remote control for a price increase of only €400.

The revised range structure means that the Latitude, Exception and Jade equipment levels all feature a fixed panoramic sunroof.


In addition its simplified equipment level structure, the New Renault Scenic Range has also seen a reduction in the number of powertrain options. The number of Renault Scenic variants has consequently come down from the 84 versions previously available to 37. The number of five-seat Renault Grand Scenic versions has been reduced from 74 to 27, while the number of seven-seat Renault Grand Scenic versions has been cut from 71 to 27.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The New Lotus Eco Elise

The Lotus Eco Elise project promotes a different perspective on "green", one which does not revolve solely around tailpipe CO2. This holistic approach is in keeping with the progressive Lotus culture, driving Lotus to become the world's green automotive consultancy.

Sustainable materials, hemp, eco wool and sisal have been developed for body panels and trim and, combined with hi-tech water based paint solutions, showcase new affordable green technologies. The green credentials of the technology on show in the Lotus Eco Elise have been analysed throughout the lifecycle of the car.

A green gear change display has been integrated into the dashboard to promote greener driving as well as a weight reduction programme, illustrating the holistic approach taken. The energy expended to manufacture the car has been evaluated, working to the 3R's - Reduce, Re-use and Recycle.

Mike Kimberley, CEO of Group Lotus plc commented "This Eco Elise is a great example of the advanced and affordable green technologies Lotus is developing. We are at the cutting edge of environmental technology and are determined to push forward with our green agenda. The Lotus brand values of lightweight, fuel efficient, and high performance are more relevant today than they ever have been. We are keen to ensure that Lotus as a company and its products offer an ethical, green option that appeals to our customers".

The project focuses on developments in:

  • Sustainable materials
  • Cleaner manufacturing processes
  • Renewable energy generation
  • Reducing carbon miles
  • Efficient driving techniques
  • Weight reduction

The renewable materials have been incorporated into the project, with hemp, eco wool and sisal providing natural, biodegradable engineering materials. Cleaner manufacturing processes have been sought, utilising the latest water based paint technology. Using this paint system saves energy and reduces emissions of solvents from the paint shop. Solar panels have been set into the hemp hard top to help power the electrical systems and give a means of renewable energy generation.

With the use of locally farmed hemp, the carbon miles to produce the Lotus Eco Elise are reduced, in keeping with the holistic approach to this vehicle. The Lotus Eco Elise puts an emphasis on efficient driving techniques by using an "economy" gear change display to improve fuel efficiency and promote greener driving. The car has undergone a weight reduction programme to add a little extra lightness, assisting in more economical, greener driving.

Sustainable materials

Sustainable hemp technical fabrics have been used as the primary constituent in the high quality "A" class composite body panels and spoiler. The renewable hemp has exceptional material properties that make for a very strong fibre. Historically hemp has been used in the manufacture of rope, illustrating the great strength of the material.

The hemp fibres have also been used in the manufacture of the lightweight Lotus designed seats. An additional benefit of using hemp is that it is a natural resource that requires relatively low energy to manufacture and absorbs CO2 whilst growing as a plant through natural photosynthesis. This hemp material is used with a polyester resin to form a hybrid composite, however it is hoped that a fully recyclable composite resin will be viable in the short-term future.

The Lotus Eco Elise seats are upholstered in a durable yet, biodegradable woollen fabric that has been given the EU Flower certificate to exemplify its environmental credentials. This new material is ethically produced and does not use any dyes or harmful processing. In fact the colour is created from the selection of sheep breeds used to produce the wool for the yarn, which increases the natural feel of the wool and reduces the processing of the cloth.

Sisal is a renewable crop that, like hemp, is used for its strong material properties. Sisal has been used for the carpets in the Lotus Eco Elise, as it is a tough, abrasion resistant material. The use of these materials illustrates the capability at Lotus of utilising new, advanced materials and the flexibility of the manufacturing facilities.

Cleaner manufacturing processes

Whilst improving the green credentials of the Lotus production facilities, the Lotus Paint Facility, in partnership with Du Pont has developed a totally water-based paint system. This paint solution includes primer, colour coat and lacquer, and it is the first time that it has been possible to hand spray a water based "A" class production paint finish.

In using this progressive water based technology, Lotus is able to achieve impressive savings in energy consumption due to the low cure temperature this paint requires. An additional benefit of this paint system is the reduction in emissions of solvents, all of which contribute to substantial cost savings for Lotus. This is a result of the unique collaboration with Du Pont in pushing forward low-volume paint spraying technology. This technology is anticipated to be available in production cars in the near future.

Renewable energy generation

The hemp hard top on the Lotus Eco Elise has two flexible solar panels neatly embedded in the roof, contributing power to the electrical systems and saving energy that would be drained from the engine.

The solar panels have been integrated into the hard top to illustrate the feasibility of applying this technology. This application shows the installation of solar panels into a composite "A" class panel with a double curvature. Using this technology on a greater number of panels would make it possible to provide more power, especially on a larger vehicle.

Reduction in carbon miles

The hemp fibres have been farmed in East Anglia, thus reducing the carbon miles incurred in the production of this Elise. Lotus Manufacturing has component manufacturing facilities and a paint facility at its headquarters in Hethel, Norfolk, with another manufacturing site a short distance away in Norwich. The company operates a carefully managed logistics system operating between sites to improve efficiency, reduce costs and carbon miles. This is a Kanban driven barcode system that has been adopted by key suppliers. The process also uses packaging that is recycled many times over to eliminate waste.

Efficient driving techniques

Lotus cars have red shift lights to help drivers extract the maximum performance from the engine. However for the Lotus Eco Elise, Lotus designed software has been developed to assist drivers in maximising the fuel efficiency of the engine. A green gear shift display has been integrated into the instrument panel to ensure that gears are changed at the optimum point to reduce emissions and save fuel.

Weight reduction

"Performance through light weight" is so synonymous with Lotus. The reduction in mass improves the handling and braking performance and also reduces the effort required to accelerate the car. The weight reduction philosophy has even extended to the audio system with an exceptionally lightweight stereo and speaker system from Alpine saving 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs). The system uses MP3/ iPod technology in a sleek modern design.

The Lotus Eco Elise uses special lightweight wheels that reduce the unsprung mass and contribute a weight saving of approximately 15.8 kg (34.8 lbs) over the already super light Elise wheels. The weight saving programme for the Lotus Eco Elise has resulted in a total saving of around 32 kg (70.5 lbs) over the feather light Elise S, which reduces the fuel required to drive the car.