Archive for the ‘Worldwide News’ Category
Wednesday, July 27th, 2011
Aston Martin Lagonda SUV
A new Lagonda, which is really a Mercedes M class, but with the heart, and XXL clothes of an Aston Martin. Confusing, but wait, it gets worse.
A quick rundown for those unfamiliar. Lagonda was a car company founded in 1899, the first production car was built in 1909 by an American in England. David brown, owner of Aston Martin, in 1947, bought Lagonda, because he wanted the use of the Lagonda engine, which was designed by Bentley. Confused? Good, me too.
This is the auto industry, of course, so unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few decades you are probably at least a little familiar with “badge engineering”, which, from my point of view, is not the villain some make it out to be. It’s simply a fact, in our global marketplace this type of platform sharing should go on, and yet for the most part Aston Martin has been able to side step the practice. There are those that say Aston rebadges its own cars, and with their latest offering, the Virage, I couldn’t agree more. However, the biggest “cheat”, without a doubt, is the Cygnet. Basically a Toyota iQ that runs you around $50,000.00 to start. Emissions compliance? Must be, but who buys these? Moving on.
Aston Martin, some might say, may be having a bit of an identity issue, and from the look of the Lagonda it doesn’t appear to be getting any better. With one glance at the Lagonda, it would seem that Aston is keeping a tight grip on their current design idealism, and while many would bemoan that fact, it could be a welcome fact, if for no other reason than to be able to point out an Aston, and know for sure which one it is. For those who love them, you could never talk them out of it, but the pulse of the industry really does have Astons look, bar maybe the One-77, as getting a little long in the tooth. There’s little doubt, they are beautiful cars, but they were the same kind of beautiful 10 years ago.
Aston says the SUV will be going to markets where the Lagonda brand may be remembered, and as luck would have it, those same countries, basically Russia and China, have expanding luxury SUV market share growth. Under those circumstances, the idea doesn’t appear to be so crazy after all.
Aston is bringing back the Lagonda name, and they are pooling their resources to do it. No crime there, and I’ll give Aston an “A” for effort, but can they get people to buy an SUV that costs as much or more than a DBS, but looks more like a Cygnet on steroids? That’s the real question. I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping Aston can pull this off, most of us want to see Aston win in the end, and who knows, with an influx of cash, they just might design something that doesn’t look 10 years past its “sell by” date.
The latest word is Aston have taken on-board a lot of criticism about the proposed Lagonda and put it on hold, with plans instead to build a Lagonda sedan based on the current Rapide model. If this is true and they do indeed scrap the plans they currently have for the Lagonda, then they will save themselves a lot of time, money and reputation, and hopefully build something else much more likable.
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
2011 Audi R8 GT Spyder
How do you take a brash supercar such as the 2011 Audi R8 GT coupe and make it even more spectacular, more appealing and just plain more? Adding the moniker Spyder to the name is a hint, and following through with what that implies is the answer. Yes, the newest car in the R8 line-up has gone topless and with this car, Audi has rounded out their supercar stable quite nicely.
As a proper supercar, the new R8 GT Spyder features some very competitive numbers. The 5.2-liter V-10 pumps out 560 bhp and 398 lb-ft of torque, meanwhile 0-60 times clock 3.6 seconds. Rarefied numbers indeed, and the way the car achieves this stunning performance is no secret, given the fact that each horsepower has less than six and a half pounds to shove around.
It’s almost a given in the automotive world that the moment a manufacturer decides to take the top off a car, said car, will see a substantial weight gain, not so the R8 Spyder. According to Audi, the new car should weigh in at roughly the same weight as the coupe, an astounding feat considering all of the added stiffening and bracing equipment the new flagship requires. Putting the car on a diet was not a simple measure as the R8 was already rather svelte.
Carbon fiber, of course, is de rigueur in some form or another for cars in this price range but with the R8 Spyder, it’s not just for show. Making up portions of the convertible assembly, soft top compartment, front spoiler, rear spoiler, rear bumper, windshield frame, and even the brakes, it’s apparent that while some of these are here for show, the window frame for instance, Audi has put forth plenty of effort to keep weight to a minimum.
The Audi R8 GT Spyder is so good in fact that it’s a real shame the vast majority of us will never get to drive one, and with a price tag well north of $200K count yourself lucky if you ever see one for that matter.
Tuesday, June 14th, 2011
2011 Renault Megane RS
Europe has always been the fashion frontrunner. Their clothes, colognes and architecture leave the rest of the world in the dust. Countries from around the globe attempt to mimic Europe’s ideas, but with little success.
So it’s not surprising that Europe continues to pump out the hottest, most audacious vehicles on the planet, like the Renault Megane R.S.
The Renault Megane R.S. looks like a cross between a race car and a family vehicle. Known as “hot hatches” (shortened from hot hatchback), these sleek, compact speedsters are daring on the road and decorative in the driveway.
Originally modeled after family-orientated body types, the Renault Megane R.S. has become as common on the racetrack as it is in the suburbs. Striking features make it recognizable everywhere. It has the signature black roof, innovative rear lip spoiler and customized decals. The car sits atop 19-inch Gloss Black STEEV wheels with original red piping. Colors come in Etoilé Black, Glacier White and Cassiopée Grey.
What passes for “special” in most parts of the world is simply normal in Europe. The Renault Megane R.S.’s sporty cabin is achieved with Recaro bucket seats in fabric or leather and a central display system with advanced electronics and communications.
The Renault Megane R.S. features leather upholstery, front carpet mats and a powerful 4x15W RDS radio with 6 speakers and MP3 capability.
Despite its small class, the Renault Megane R.S. boasts unusual power. Its supercharged 254 hp engine has a peak torque of 360 Nm. The car can unload at 0-60 mph in 6.3 s (0–100 km/h in 6.5 s), reaching a top speed of 149 mph (240 km/h).
With a car this pedal-friendly, safety is paramount. The Renault Megane R.S. features 8 airbags, xenon headlights, Anti-lock Breaking System (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Brembo brake discs, the same ones used in Porsches. The Renault Megane R.S. has an MSRP starting price of $51,120. Car lovers often have to choose between being stylish and being sensible. With the 2011 Renault Megane R.S., the choice has been made for them.
Wednesday, May 18th, 2011
2012 BMW M5
The new 2012 BMW M5 without a doubt carries on the legacy of its predecessors in true M fashion. It’s new, upgraded power plant is a twin-turbo V8 engine with a cross-bank exhaust manifold, and fully variable VALVETRONIC valve control. It puts out 560 hp at 6,000 – 7,000 rpm 502 lb-ft of torque sweeping from 1,500 to 5,750 rpm. That massive thrust launches the driver to 60 from a standstill in 4.4 seconds.
Average fuel consumption is approximately 28.5 mpg with CO2 emissions at about 232 g/km. BMW’s engineers have managed to increase power by 10%, torque by 30%, while reducing overall fuel consumption by over 30% compared to the previous M5 model.
This efficiency and improved performance is vastly due to the newly designed V8 engine, coupled with a smooth 7-speed M Double Clutch Transmission and auto start-stop system. The M5 also employs a slew of technologies designed to make the car as driver-friendly as possible. Electronically controlled dampers, compound brakes, stability control with “M Dynamic Mode”, and Servotronic steering specific to M models are just a few features employed in balancing the M5’s power and making it a safe, but thrilling drive.
The M5’s stance is that famous M-series combination of elegant and aggressive. It looks sharper and more poised than the previous model; with a gaping front fascia and lightly flared side skirts, the car’s solid stance and aggressive looks speak volumes about what it can do.
Brawn meets brains in this vehicle through BMW’s iDrive control module. One of its two trademark silver control knobs is seated adjacent to the shift panel, the other is in the rear of the cabin. The front iDrive controller gives the driver access to air conditioning, music, suspension settings, navigation, and BMW Assist, while the rear module allows passengers to use entertainment, climate controls, and GPS. BMW’s iDrive is nothing short of brilliant in its ability to connect driver and car.
While the 2012 BMW M5 is a far cry from all of its previous models, it flawlessly continues the M-series tradition of class, elegance, ingenuity, and perhaps most importantly, stunning performance.
Thursday, April 21st, 2011
2012 Audi A6
The 2012 Audi A6 has been totally redesigned for 2012, resulting in it resembling a slightly smaller version of the popular A8 sedan from the outside. The make-over does not stop with cosmetics. Inside and out, the engineers left almost nothing on this mid-size, luxury sedan untouched.
The hybrid steel and aluminum unibody underwent significant changes, enabling the new model to weigh less than 3,500 pounds. This lighter weight improves the ride and handling. The wheelbase has been increased nearly three inches, giving the interior added roominess. Exterior options include 20 inch wheels and tires and LED headlamps.
A front-wheel drive chassis and an efficient CVT transmission are paired with a 2.0 liter, 4-cylinder with 211 horsepower engine. The more powerful 2.0 TFSI® and 3.0 TFSI engines are available as options. The award-winning 3.0 TFSI engine comes with quattro drive and a 7-speed, S-tronic, dual-clutch transmission.
The luxurious Audi heritage is obvious in the interior of the vehicle. Massaging seats, top-of-the-line Bang & Olufsen audio system, and ambient lighting are all available along with your choice of wood veneer or metallic trim.
Technology includes a Multi Media Interface Plus with a touch pad, enabling it to perform character recognition tasks. This provides users with another means of text input for phone, navigation and audio system functions by allowing them to spell words with just a fingertip stroke. The MMI is powered with an updatable computer chip. A cellular data plan will be available, capable of connecting up to eight devices to its WiFi signal.
This technology is of great benefit to the optional navigation system. The standard graphical navigation map can be enhanced with overlays of Google Earth maps, route instructions and traffic information in real time. It is also capable of 3D graphics modes.
Other hi-tech systems that will be available on the 2012 Audi A6 are:
- Active lane assist
- Side assist
- Park assist
- Adaptive cruise control
- Adaptive air suspension
- Adaptive headlamps
- Dynamic steering
- Night vision and pre-sense safety
Overall, the 2012 Audi A6 combines classic styling, impressive performance and cutting-edge technology in a spacious, comfortable vehicle.
Monday, March 28th, 2011
Mercedes Benz A Class Concept
It’s been sometime since the boffins at Mercedes have done something a little well, out of character, now it seems they have been keeping themselves busy with the Mercedes Benz A Class and thinking long and hard about how the next generation may look, and the results look pretty impressive.
The A Class concept, shown in the image above, is apparently set to be unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show in April, and if in the flesh it looks anything like it does in the concept sketch then its going to a pretty major jump for the A Class, and a pretty substantial change to the target market which Mercedes is trying to appeal to.
Current A Class buyers are not especially young, not especially into sports motoring, and definitely not into having their car’s hi-fi playing at full volume as they cruise at 15mph through the local shopping district, the concept we see here though would seem to appeal to exactly those type of buyers.
If their production model does look as the sketch suggests then it’s hard to think of a model from any manufacturer that has made such a complete turnaround in terms of their target demographic, indeed its incredibly hard to imagine any driver who would choose a current A Class model as ever picking up something that looks like the concept we being shown.
All that aside though, the sketch looks mouthwateringly enticing, and we cant wait to see the car itself, and while we feel sorry for the average A Class buyer who will need to scratch their head for a while thinking about what other model they can buy instead, we cant help but applaud such a move from Mercedes to make such a dramatic change, it’s brave, and the way we see it, a real step forward.