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Archive for May, 2013

Toyota Auris Touring Sports Black, RAV4 Premium and RAV4 Adventure concepts debut in Geneva

 Toyota Auris Touring Sports Black, RAV4 Premium and RAV4 Adventure concepts debut in Geneva

Toyota Auris Touring Sports Black live in Geneva

Visual changes only

The Toyota Auris Touring Sports Black, RAV4 Premium and RAV4 Adventure concepts have arrived in Geneva.

The special Auris comes with a Night Sky black metallic paint with 19-inch red alloys and red inserts for both bumpers. The front grille sports a red trim, while at the back we notice darkened LED lights and twin chrome exhaust pipes. Other styling tweaks include the piano black privacy glass and roof rails.

Inside it gets a similar color theme with black leather, red stitching, as well as new carpeting and bespoke sports seats covered by black leather with perforated red Alcantara. The latter was also used for the roof lining and interior pillars.

Moving on to the RAV4 Premium, this shows a Deep Bronze bodywork, redesigned bumpers, integrated tailpipe design and brushed aluminum skid plates. It rides on 20-inch wheels and has aluminum roof rails. Inside it has received leather upholstery, black piping, two-tone double stitching, while the instrument and door panels have a grey and black leather combo.

Lastly, the RAV4 Adventure is distinguished by dark red paintwork, muscular wheel arches and 20-inch alloys. Both bumpers were restyled, while the back brings twin exhaust pipes fully integrated. Rounding off the changes is the dark-tinted privacy glass and machined roof rails.

Aston Martin Rapide S world debut celebrates 100th anniversary [video]

More powerful and more efficient than its predecessor

Aston Martin’s lineup continues to evolve as the company has introduced the Rapide S in Geneva.

Essentially a facelifted version of the outgoing Rapide, the S is distinguished by a new front fascia that complies with pedestrian safety regulations. While it won’t appease everyone it includes a new front bumper, a revised hood and an enlarged grille that retracts upon impact.

The interior also receives some minor updates including additional sound deadening material and a darker instrument panel surround. New options include two-tone perforated leather seats, piano black trim and a bespoke design service called “Q by Aston Martin.”

Under the hood, there’s a naturally-aspirated 6.0-liter (5,935 cc) V12 engine that develops 558 HP (410 kW) and 620 Nm (457 lb-ft) of torque – an increase of 81 HP (59 kW) and 20 Nm (15 lb-ft). It enables the model to accelerate from 0-62 mph in 4.9 seconds and hit a top speed of 190 mph (305 km/h). Despite the increased performance, the engine is more efficient as it averages 19.9 mpg UK (16.5 mpg US / 14.1 L/100 km) with CO2 emissions of 332 g/km.

2012 Audi TT RS Roadster review

New Audi TT RS

Audi’s TT RS apportions 360 horsepower to all four corners while the Carrera 4 shares 345 horsepower among its four.

The RS version of Audi’s TT Coupe is an amazing machine that’s unlike any TT I’ve previously experienced; this is a racecar parading itself as an upscale sports car.

One could also refer to the most powerful TT ever as the modest man’s R8, but that would be an injustice to the TT RS. You see, it’s faster to 100 km/h than the V8-powered Audi R8 4.2.

Whatever the label, the TT RS will live up to it, and then some.

The heart and soul of this car is its turbocharged 2.5L TFSI 5-cycliner 20-valve engine. Along with 360 hp @ 5,500 rpm, this renegade cranks out 343 lb-ft of torque from just 1,650 rpm, maintaining the full juice through to 5,400 rpm.

While I have bemoaned 5-cylinder engines in the past, Audi’s version leaves me breathless. Never would I have expected such outrageous performance from a mill with an odd number of cylinders whose total displacement is only 2.5 litres.

This powerplant is a significant accomplishment in the world of stock production engines. And it likes to boast about its credentials through an exhaust note that would send shivers down the spine of Lambo owners.

Hard to believe that the howl produced by TT RS at full throttle doesn’t belong to something from Italy with twice as many cylinders.

And to make the experience just that much more visceral, there’s a button next to the shifter with an “S” on it.

The TT RS is a wild beast with a gentle streak; that is, until you hit the “S” button. Activating the Sport Mode revises throttle mapping, steering response, suspension calibration, and exhaust channeling.

Suddenly, any sense of benevolence is lost. The car sounds angrier, rides harder and reacts with the immediacy of a racecar. Simply feathering the throttle produces astounding performance accompanied by an intensified auditory experience.

Deactivating Sport Mode returns the TT RS to a slightly more civilized machine cloaked in a thin veil of normalcy. This is actually a car that one could live with day to day. While its ride quality remains on the taut side and it’s not the quietest of sports cars, it is tolerable.

2012 Audi TT RS was equipped with Audi’s 6-speed manual gearbox, which made me ecstatic. While the S tronic dual-clutch automatic-shifting transmission is an amazing piece of F1-inspired technology, I relish the occasional opportunity to mix my own gears. Besides, the automated gearbox isn’t offered in the Canadian-spec RS.

More Pictures of 2012 Audi TT RS

2012 Audi TT RS design

2012 Audi TT RS Images

2012 Audi TT RS

Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione gets tuned

Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

Alfa Romeo planned the 8C Competizione model to make forays in the upmarket automobile section. The car was designed to provide an exotic design to consumers alongside the beautiful designs of Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

The car has a beautiful design and the body is constructed from carbon fibre on steel spaceframe chassis. The Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione review indicates that the car comes with a powerful 4.7 litre V8 petrol engine. This engine can deliver power of 441 bhp at 7000 rpm along with peak torque of 480 Nm at 4750 rpm.

The length of the car is 4381mm and its width is 1894mm while its height is 1341mm. The car can seat 2 individuals. The car enjoys perfect weight distribution as the gearbox and the differential are mounted at the rear of the vehicle. The car has double wishbone all round suspension and Brembo disk brakes. The car also comes with a 6-speed manual transmission system.

The car has top speed of 292 km/hr and can reach 0 to 100 km/hr in just 4.30 seconds. The brake system of the car is extremely responsive and this ensures that the car slows down easily even as it is cruising at high speeds.

The Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione review indicates that the car has extremely stylish interiors and the cabin employs top class materials used for the interiors. The steering wheel of the car feels slightly heavy. The interiors of the car are tastefully done. The car has comfortable carbon fiber seats that are ergonomically designed. The car has automatic climate control feature and the driver’s seat can be electrically adjusted. The car also has top class audio system.

The safety features in the car include airbags, fog lamp and parking sensors. The car also has traction control, antilock brake system, electronic brake force distribution feature and electronic stability program.

More Pictures of Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione Images

New Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

Alfa Romeo 8C spider

BMW presents five-door M135i models

2013 BMW M135i

The performance potential of the BMW M135i is reflected in its individual exterior and interior design features, which are integral parts of the series equipment in this BMW M Performance automobile. The body details are typical of a car designed to handle the aerodynamic requirements associated with dynamic, high-performance driving situations – it is such details that convey the unique M style and flair. The front apron is typical of M styling that reflects the car’s firm and responsive road handling, with the large air intake vents needed to meet the cooling demands of a high-performance straight six-cylinder engine, auxiliary units and oversized brakes. The competitive character of the car can also be seen in the three-dimensional flaps on the outer air vents, a detail inspired by automobile racing. These air inlets take up the space reserved for the fog lights in the other versions of the three-door BMW 1-Series. They are separated by horizontal struts in Ferric Grey metallic – a design detail that distinguishes BMW M Performance cars.

This power plant enhances the wide selection of engines available for the new compact three-door BMW 1-Series. At the same time, it is an essential component of a portfolio that positions BMW M Performance automobiles at the top of the performance segment. The BMW M135i is powered by a straight six-cylinder engine with M Performance TwinPower Turbo technology, which is known for its spontaneous performance and high revving, plus a level of efficiency that is remarkable in this performance class. The technology package includes a TwinScroll turbocharger, direct High Precision Injection with central multi-hole injectors, VALVETRONIC variable valve control and Double VANOS variable camshaft timing. This 3.0-litre engine delivers a maximum power output of 235 kW/320 hp at 5 800 rpm. This impressive power results from the maximum torque of 450 Nm that is available between 1 300 and 4 500 rpm.

The BMW M135i sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.1 seconds (automatic: 4.9 seconds) and reaches a top speed of 250 km/h – the top limit permitted by the vehicle’s electronic speed control system. Average fuel consumption in the EU test cycle is 8.0 litres (7.5 litres)/100 km, and the CO2 emissions level is 188 grams (175 grams) per kilometre. The exclusive power train for the compact BMW M Performance car also features a customised cooling system, M performance control and engine sound tuning, plus a newly developed six-speed manual transmission with dry sump lubrication. A dynamic eight-speed automatic sports transmission with gearshift paddles integrated in the steering wheel is available as an option.

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BMW M135i concept

New BMW M135i

BMW M135i images

Renault Alpine Leaked

Renault Alpine

No, Renault won’t officially unveil its long-awaited conceptual tribute to the fabled Alpine-Renault A110 until later this week – but a Web site in Europe claims it has the first leaked photo of the Alpine reincarnate.

French publication MotorSport Magazine, which first broke the images, says what you’re looking at is the real concept deal, much, as does fabled BBC publication Top Gear. If true, it looks quite a bit like Renault’s 2010 DeZir concept – which, ironically, we noted bore a vague resemblance to vintage Alpine-Renault sports coupes. This new image appears much like a DeZir, albeit one cranked to eleven. Dramatic wheel flares, preposterously large wings, and gaping air intakes trigger flashbacks to Group 4-prepped A110s. Incroyable.

What lurks beneath the skin of la nouvelle Alpine, however, is allegedly wildly different from the original concept. Don’t look for the DeZir’s fancy electric powertrain; according to TopGear, the Alpine concept is built atop the mechanicals of the wild Renaultsport Megane Trophy race car. As such, a 3.5-liter V-6, placed aft of the cabin in keeping with Alpine tradition, could provide about 450 hp to the rear wheels.

We’re anxious to learn more about the concept itself – but we’re even more interested in learning exactly what plans Renault has in store for its Alpine brand, which has essentially laid dormant since the discontinuation of the A610 in 1995. Over the past several months, we’ve heard Renault officials insist they’re serious about resurrecting the brand. Rumor has it they’re certainly planning on launching a new sports coupe – perhaps atop a platform shared with Nissan and Daimler – that, could pack a 300-hp punch. Executives have also mulled selling the vehicle in both China and North America to amortize costs. If so, and if it continues to wear the Alpine name, it would be the first Alpine-Renault to be officially sold in North America, since plans to sell the GTA in our market in the late 1980s were ultimately scrapped.

For now, it’s a wait-and-see process. The first step, we’re told, is to wait until Friday, when more images and details are expected to emerge from Renault.

More Pictures of Renault Alpine

Renault Dezir

Renault Alpine A110

Renault DeZir Alpine design

2013 Fiat 500 Abarth

2013 Fiat 500 Abarth

I’m happy that Fiat loaned me one of these, because, really, this was the car that started it all. It was about a year ago, and I had just gone on my first press drive. It was for the Fiat 500 Abarth, and I was pretty smitten. The little car had just that right mix of fun and usefulness without taking itself too seriously. So when I got home, I told my wife that if I had to get a modern car to, you know, make it less likely I’d kill our baby, I thought the 500 Abarth seemed like an interesting option.

She gave me the look she gives me when she feels I’m being an idiot. Most people just think it’s her normal face, at this point. She thought there’s no way a baby seat would comfortably fit in a 500. I was sure it had to, because there’s LATCH system hooks and whatnot in there, right? So this whole Will It Baby thing really came out of an argument about the Abarth.

And, I’m pleased to say for the first time since Sally and I met, I’m right. It feels soooo good, if a bit confusing and unfamiliar. Yes, the Abarth will absolutely baby/toddler, and it does it surprisingly well.

Now, this may come as a shock to many of you, but the car is quite small. If you have a newborn, with that metric ton of newborn-support equipment, this could be a challenge. Newborns and 747s I think take about the same level of maintenance and equipment, but a 747 may be a bit easier because no busybodies call the cops if you leave it outside an airport overnight.

A baby of, say, 6 months and up should be fine, and for toddlers, this car is terrific, I think. While it’s small, the egg-like proportions mean it’s tall as well. So getting a kid in the back is much less of a chore than it was in, say, the Mustang. It was such a non-issue I didn’t even have any pictures taken of my contortions because there really weren’t any. I’m able to stand outside the car, and spare the world seeing my butt crack again.

The car is small enough that you can mostly get the kid in while standing outside. Open the door, swing/slide the seat forward, and plop him in the seat. You can reach in to buckle, and you’re good to go. It’s too small to have the kid in the middle of the seat, so you do this by the passenger’s door. Easy.

The luggage room in the 500 series isn’t exactly cavernous. In fact, it has the most absurdly small package shelf I’ve ever seen. The thing looks like a grey felt baguette or something. So that’s why this was the most shocking thing: I was able to fit our biggest stroller, the bike-wheeled jogger, in the car.

To do so, I did have to fold down the unoccupied half of the back seat, so this will only work for single-child families. But, it works. Which Sally also said would never work. I’m two for two on this one!

So, cramming-wise, you can pretty easily get the kid in there, along with the biggest stroller. There’s some door pockets and cupholders, but not really that many, so it’s not great there, and its interior layout is such that anything the kid drops or throws is pretty much lost in the netherworld of the floor until you stop and send a spelunking team down there to find the orange rubber car and Hot Wheels Baja Beetle he so desperately needs all of a sudden. Other than that, it’s much better than its size would suggest.

With a forward-facing seat in place, the front passenger-side legroom was quite reasonable. Not vast, but for most people I’d think fine. It’s worth testing out if you’re really tall, but there’s enough headroom in there that I suspect if you can accept a more upright seating position, you’d be okay. There will be some seat-back kickery, though.

Once the kid and related crap are all in the car, all the things that made this car a blast on the track absolutely help it as a kid car. Because, let’s face it, if mom or dad is having fun driving, the kid’s having fun, and everyone’s happier and much less likely to freak out when the toddler dumps a full juice box right into your pants. And then no one believes you when you try and explain you didn’t piss yourself.

And then there’s the sound. We’ve mentioned before how the Abarth has one of the best sounding four-bangers you can buy, and Otto loved it as much as I did. “Vroom vroom!” he’d scream, and I’d blip the throttle, and Otto and Abarth would have a little loud conversation. Plus, it offers some great opportunities for confusing people. While driving spiritedly through the windy hills of Silverlake, that brappy little engine shouting, I saw some people do a really satisfying double-take as I rounded the corner. The mental picture conjured up by the noise was clearly very, very different than the shiny black bowling ball that came around the bend.

Windows down, on the highway, the engine noise can get a bit tiresome, but rolling up the windows deadens the sound surprisingly well. This car is happiest with a pretty heavy foot, since there’s a good bit of turbo lag and the power doesn’t really kick in until the revs are up, so you end up hearing the engine a lot.

And, while the Abarth is a fun car, at 160 HP it’s not the monster that the Mustang or Panamera was, so you’re a bit more likely to stay out of jail. Except for maybe noise complaints. You can have a great time in this car at relatively sane speeds of 30-60. You’ll feel like you’re being much more crazy than you are, and that’s good. The Mustang was fun, but 60 came and went like a red light camera’s flash. Before you knew it, you’d be in license-confiscating territory, and I just don’t need that. The Abarth doles out driving fun in a much less lethal dose.

The gas mileage was pretty good as well, hovering around 27-30 MPG or so for the week I had it, and I wasn’t trying to drive economically. It’s fabulously easy to park, being just a bit longer than the Scion iQ I tried out a while back. And a hell of a lot more fun.

If you have a kid, and your overall space needs aren’t the primary concern, or this is maybe the second car, I can’t think of a reason why you wouldn’t want an Abarth for your kid car. Really, it’s pretty easy to manage a kid with, easy to park, nimble, good on gas, and is just fun, period. At around $23,000 to start, it’s pretty reasonable, too. Having a kid becomes an excuse to buy toys again, and, really, there’s no reason why that should stop when you’re looking for a car.

Spyker releases B6 concept final teaser

 Spyker releases B6 concept final teaser

Spyker B6 concept teaser photo 04.03.2013

Debuts tomorrow

Spyker has published the last teaser photo with the B6 concept set for a public unveiling tomorrow in Geneva.

We have already seen the front of the car via a leaked photo and now Spyker is showing a portion of the B6 concept’s rear end. The car will be known as the B6 Venator and will be approximately the size of a Porsche Boxster.

Under the hood will get a mid-engine V6 generating 375 hp (280 kW) wrapped around in a carbon fiber body and aluminum chassis, with an estimated weight of less than 1,397 kg (3,080 lbs). CEO Victor Muller said the car will cost between 160,000 USD and 200,000 USD.

Check back tomorrow for the full story on the Spyker B6 concept.

Koenigsegg Agera S Hundra filmed at Geneva Motor Show

Celebrating the firm’s 100th production vehicle

This is Koenigsegg’s Agera S Hundra created to celebrate the company’s 100th production car.

A short while ago we posted a video with the McLaren P1 at the Geneva Motor Show and now we bring the Agera S Hundra. Both clips were recorded by well known supercar spotter Shmee150 who will hopefully show us the Ferrari F70 tomorrow.

The Agera S Hundra is wearing a clear carbon fiber exterior with 24-carat gold leaf inlays. An official press release is not available for the moment, but sources say it has a V8 5.0-liter twin-turbo engine packing 1030 hp (768 kW) and 1,100 Nm (811 lb-ft) of torque.

Check back tomorrow for full details.

Mercedes enlists Usher to promote the A45 AMG

 Mercedes enlists Usher to promote the A45 AMG

Usher with the Mercedes A45 AMG 04.3.2013

Will be on hand for the Geneva debut

Mercedes’ man crush on Usher continues as the company has invited him to test drive the A45 AMG and build an engine for his own SLS AMG.

The Grammy Award winning singer said he “can hardly wait to get behind the wheel” of the A45 AMG because it’s “so absolutely cool and sexy.” Unsurprisingly, the pop star will be talking about his experience on Facebook which means this is more about marketing than anything else. Regardless, Usher already owns a few Benz’s including a CLS 63 AMG and a Sprinter which he “enjoys driving” for family duty.

As we have previously reported, the A45 AMG features a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 360 HP (265 kW) and 450 Nm (332 lb-ft) of torque. It is connected to a seven-speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT dual-clutch transmission which sends power to an all-wheel drive system. This enables the hatchback to accelerate from 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) in 4.6 seconds, before hitting an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h).