Posts Tagged ‘News


AK recap: Pirellis, ‘Rings and a Fiesta!

Here’s what’s going on over at

Pirelli replaces Bridgestone as exclusive tire provider for Formula 1

2011 Infiniti M – Pics and Specs

Pagani Zonda R Rips the ‘Ring


AK Recap: apps, gullwings, and GT’s

Here’s whats going on over at

SYNC AppLink Debuts on 2011 Ford Fiesta

In Depth: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3

New Hotness: Audi R8 GT


Aston Martin Rapide: at a glance

It’s been known for some time that a few of the more luxurious sports car brands have been mulling around the idea of adding a 4-door sedan to their coupe-heavy lineup, with various degrees of progress. Only whispers of Ferrari’s interest have wafted from Modena, and Lamborghini had constructed the Estoque concept. Porsche was the only company to follow through to actual production, but the Panamera has an official contender with the official announcement of the Aston Martin Rapide.   One of the most eagerly awaited cars of the year at the 63rd Frankfurt Motor Show last September, The Rapide, is touted to be a  functional yet luxurious 4- door sports car that will seat four full bodied adults and still provide the engaging driving experience synonymous with all Aston Martins.

As the marque’s first production four-door sports car, Rapide encapsulates core values of Power, Beauty and Soul; four ‘swan wing’ doors provide access to cosseting sports seats both front and rear bestowing occupants with ample accommodation. A 317 litre (11 cubic ft.) luggage compartment affords generous space for the active lifestyle equipment of four people, creating an Aston Martin which can be enjoyed on any occasion, anytime, anywhere.

Rapide’s rear environment has been desinged to be a place where passengers feel a part of the driving experience, with clear views to the front and sides. Comfort and support is supplied in the form of two hand trimmed individual seats and a personal face-level heating and air conditioning system. Aiding the practicalities of everyday use, the luggage compartment features a movable bulkhead to permit access from the rear cabin while the rear seats fold flat at the touch of a button to create a flat loading space increasing the luggage compartment from 317 litres to 886 litres (31 cubic ft).

The bellowing heart of this Aston Martin is an evocative, hand-built 6.0-litre V12 engine producing 470 bhp (477 PS / 350 kW) with peak power being delivered at 6000 rpm and 600 Nm (443 lbft) peak torque at 5000 rpm. A specifically tuned six-speed Touchtronic 2 automatic transmission features as standard, allowing the driver to change gear automatically or manually via the steering column-mounted magnesium paddles.

First shown in 2006 in concept form at the Detroit Auto Show, the Rapide project received an immediate green light from Aston Martin’s new shareholders in mid-2007 following the sale of the marque by the Ford Motor Company. In a little over two years, Aston Martin’s design and engineering team have delivered a new car from the ground up. Rapide has been developed from the ‘V/H Architecture’ platform which already forms the backbone to Aston Martin’s critically acclaimed line-up: the DBS, DB9 and Vantage.

Chief Executive, Dr. Ulrich Bez said: “Rapide is the culmination of the Aston Martin range of sports cars, a car that seals the revival of a truly admired marque. There is now an Aston Martin for every taste and for every use.

“With Rapide, the entire family can enjoy their Aston Martin together in unison, in an invigorating yet comfortable environment, sitting low, with plenty of visibility from every seat and with new levels of comfort, refinement and entertainment.”

Director of Design, Marek Reichman who led the in-house design team which penned the Rapide said: “Like a race horse standing still, you can see its power and elegance, the shape of Rapide’s rear haunches are muscular conveying the power that lies beneath while its low stance produces a powerful look.

“There is a real sense of proportion with this car, akin to a tailored suit; the new double grill gives more presence on the road while the iconic signature side strake has been lengthened through to the rear doors to enhance its lateral proportions in a subtle, yet elegant way. The car’s purity makes it look right from every angle.”

Customer deliveries will commence at the beginning of the second quarter of 2010.

-Alex K-


Lotus Returns to IndyCar Series

Prepare to see more green and yellow this year. Lotus and Cosworth have partnered with IndyCar copetitors KV Racing Technology to run in the 2010 IndyCar series.

Lotus competed for a number of years in the IndyCar Series in the 1960s, winning the Indianapolis 500 race outright in 1965 with the pioneering Lotus Type 38, driven by Jim Clark, and narrowly missing victory to come second in 1963.

Jim Clark in his type 38 with the Lotus Indy 500 team, 1965 (photo:IMS PHOTO)

Dany Bahar, CEO of Group Lotus plc said, “Racing has always defined Lotus and on many occasions in motorsports history Lotus’ numerous innovations have re-defined racing. It’s only fitting that as the Lotus Racing name re-enters Formula 1, we will also race and innovate again in IndyCar. The Lotus name will, once again compete in the top two open-wheel racing series for the passion and enthusiasm of car fans around the globe.”

The return to the IndyCar Series follows on from the recent announcement by Lotus and Cosworth are to become closely associated through a strategic partnership looking at the opportunity to develop high performance engines for Lotus cars.

Driving the Lotus-Cosworth IndyCar will be the former F1 driver Takuma Sato.

The 2010 IndyCar Series starts with the Sao Paolo Indy 300, Brazil on the 14th of March 2010.


First Look: 2012 Ford Focus

Sat in an empty assembly plant in Dearborn and told to expect news about the Focus, I can’t say I was enthused. It’s a good car, but I’ve regarded it with indifference since the U.S. was never going to have a Focus as good looking and interesting as the RS. When the sheet was pulled back, I, prepping for a very long presentation and in “subtle-nap” position, sprang up in pleasant surprise.

The next-gen incarnation (2011? 2012? the press release says” goes on sale early 2011″  but I’m being corrected. weird.) has been re-worked by a global team of specialists to make a sporty, stylish car that meets their targets of fuel economy and driving quality. The 2012 Focus is also the first car to be created under the ONE ford approach, a strategy to create and design cars that appeal to all markets. Indeed, the new Focus will be nearly identical in all markets, with 80 percent parts commonality around the world.

“The new Ford Focus is a clear demonstration that our ONE Ford strategy is providing global consumers with great products that harness the best of Ford Motor Company,” said Alan Mulally, Ford’s president and CEO.

The 2012 Focus continues Ford’s kinetic design initiative and giving the car a sporty feel that will be eye catching worldwide.  The lower trapezoidal grille is divided into 3 sections, which is the first detail immediately noticeable in the car’s expressive form language. The Focus features an athletic profile and a great stance on both the 4-door sedan and the 5-door hatchback. The interior will be equally sleek and will have the recently announced MyFord Touch interface incorporated into the design.

The Focus brought improved levels of agility and responsiveness to C-segment cars, and the new Focus plans to raise the bar even higher with refining the precision and ride control of the driving characteristics.  Engineers have updated suspension concepts from prior models and optimized the multilink rear suspension and the semi-islolated front and rear subframes. The chassis design will be complemented by an Electronic Power Assist Steering system, which will aid in precision at high speeds and adjust itself accordingly to be maneuverable for actions like parking.

Cornering stability and agility have been enhanced with the introduction of an advanced Dynamic Cornering Control system, which uses “torque vectoring” to transfer power between the drive wheels to reduce understeer, allow better turn-in, and improve traction.  These characteristics will be the same across the globe, using identical chassis and suspension architecture in all markets, except to meet minor regional specifications such as tires.

The power behind the 2012 Focus for the North American market will be a completely new 2.0-liter engine that features direct injection and Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT)  for enhanced fuel efficiency and performance, the same engineering to be used in the Mustang GT 5.0.  The 4-cylinder engine looks to produce an estimated HP of 150+, and 145 ft-lbs of torque.

To maximize the performance and fuel economy , the engine is mated with a dry-clutch six-speed Ford PowerShift automatic transmission.  Based on manual gearbox technology, torque converters, planetary gears, and  oil pumps will be out, and electronically controlled twin clutches will shift gears for optimal torque flow and ease of operation.

now with radial blur!!

The new range will start production simultaneously in Europe and North America late this year, and is expected to go on sale in early 2011 and will be revealed in person at the North American International Auto Show.

Head over to Autosavant to read this news with the E-I-C’s contributions as he’s on hand at NAIAS to compare it in person with the competition.

-Alex K-


Mustang Madness! 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 and BOSS 302R

You may have heard rumblings about Ford’s engineers in Dearborn tinkering away at something special, but now we can say without a doubt: the 5.0 is back. In 2011, the Mustang GT will be powered by an all new 5.0 liter V8 that will deliver 412 horsepower and 390 ft-lbs of torque. The naturally aspirated feat owes much of its efficiency to the 4-valve Twin independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT), producing a substantial amount of power while still upping the fuel economy to 25 miles per gallon.

This double-overhead-camshaft configuration employs two camshafts per cylinder bank – one camshaft to operate the intake valves and one camshaft to operate the exhaust valves. Ti-VCT rotates the camshafts to advance or retard the cam timing, based on several measures including throttle opening. An element unique to the Mustang GT 5.0-liter V8 is that Ti-VCT is actuated by camshaft torque, with assistance from pressurized oil. Using camshaft torque energy should provide faster throttle response and maximize use of existing energy, aiding fuel economy.

An additional element is the increased capacity and baffling of the deep-sump stamped steel oil pan to enable sustained high-rpm use and keep the oil change interval at 10,000-miles. Piston-cooling jets also were incorporated for performance-minded customers and for faster oil warm-up on cold start.

Specially designed tubular exhaust headers were developed to maximize exhaust pulse separation and improve flow. This was a response to customers immediately swapping the headers out for 3rd party replacements for an easy performance boost, so the engineering team sought to make them the best from the get-go.

To manage all the new grunt and help along the miles per gallon, the Mustang GT will gain a new 6 speed transmission. With the automatic, the estimated miles per gallon is 25 highway and 17 in the city. The manual will match the current estimated 24 mpg highway and 16 mpg city numbers, but getting an extra 112 horses with no compromise is very much getting your cake and eating it too.

Driving dynamics have been sharpened up as well, as Stabilizer bar diameters, spring rates and dampers all have been tuned for improved dynamics, and a Brembo brake package will be finally available, something that Mustang enthusiasts have been itching for. The package will include the 14-inch vented front discs from the GT500, 19-inch alloy wheels and summer performance tires. Hopefully I can get Ford to slap a pair on this guy.

The look of the Mustang GT won’t change dramatically from the recent refresh, but 2011 GT’s will proudly sport 5.0 fender badges, as well as a host of new colors such as Yellow Blaze Tri-Coat, Race Red and Ingot Silver.

Inside, the driver will notice the speedometer increased to 160 mph, and the tach redline is upped from 6,500 to 7,000 rpm.

Those who may feel left out of the V8 party shouldn’t fret, as with these developments, the 2011 Mustang V6 will have its horsepower increased to 300, matching the current V8.   and if that weren’t enough, there’s more:

Hot on the tail of the news of the 2011 5.0 Mustang GT is the announcement that Ford Racing is returning the road racing legend back to the track.

Dubbed the BOSS 302R, this factory-built race car is set to go fro Grand-Am, SCCA, and NASA classes.  “From Shelbys to Bullitt, Mach and Cobra Jet, it is now time for BOSS to join the list of America’s most coveted Mustangs’ says Jamie Allison, director of For North America Motorsports.  The BOSS 302R will come equipped with the new 5.0 –liter 4-valve engine like the 2011 GT, a 6-speed manual transmission, roll cage, race seats, harness, data acquisition, and race dampers/springs, plus a Brembo brake and tire package. I had a brief chance to hop inside one, and I’m so very much looking forward to sitting in one on the move.

A Grand-Am Homologation Package (M-FR500-BOSS R1) will also be ready to compete in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at Daytona on January 29th, 2010, where five BOSS 302R’s will be delivered for the opening race.  These will feature a sealed high-output race engine with an upgraded cooling system, a close-ratio six-speed transmission with integral shifter, a seam-welded body, race suspension/KONI dampers and ABS brake tuning, race performance exhaust and a high-speed balance one-piece driveshaft.

The BOSS 302R will be replacing the highly successful Mustang FR500C (this one)that has won three Triple Crown championships in five years in KONI competition, and has also seen success in FIA GT4, winning the driver’s championships in ‘07 and ‘08.

“Racing has long served as a technical proving ground for production engines,” continues Allison, who echoes the belief of many that great road cars stem from excellent race cars.  The great part is, you don’t have to be left out of the action: the BOSS 302R is available through any Ford dealer. While obviously not street legal, anyone can walk in, go straight to the Ford Racing performance parts counter, and place an order for their track day or SCCA races. The base package starts around $79,000, while the Grand-Am packages will start at about $129,000. It’s best to get a move on, however, as only 50 will be built this year, so if you have the means and the proper forum for make this car shine, now is the time to get a hold of one.

Read this post and more over at Autosavant.

-Alex K-


2011 Audi A8: News and Pics

We’re at the tail end of ’09 and already Audi has planted the seeds of excitement for 2011 with the reveal of the new Audi A8. While not all of us can take trips to Miami for the big reveal, we still have some details and pics for your enjoyment here.

The 4th Generation of the A8 looks to continue the trend of sophistication and engineering that Audi has come to be known by, judging by the looks of the aluminum body built with the Audi Space Frame architecture, that maintains modern strength and safety demands while still being light for the sake of sporty agility and fuel efficiency. Official numbers on this are scarce as of yet, but the 2011 A8 is expected to weigh as much as the current gen model (3,682 lbs), despite being a few inches wider and longer.

Under the hood is a 4.2 FSI V8 that produces 372 hp, a 22 hp increase as well as 328 ft-lbs of torque. Fuel efficiency has been increased by 15% due to thermal management and kinetic energy recuperation systems. This promises a 0-62 time of 5.7 secionds and is electronically limited to 155 mph.

The transmission is an 8 speed tiptronic shift-by-wire setup with a dynamic shift program (DSP) that handles it all in cruise and sport mode. an interesting note is that the DSP communicates with Audi’s MMI navigation system, and if route data is supplied, it will incorporate this data as you speed along, intended to avoid unnecessary gear changes.

AWD is of course standard as the A8 sports Audi’s current quattro AWD system that features the 40/60 torque split with rear wheel bias. The sport differential is an option as well if you plan to truly give the A8 the business, as well as dynamic steering. This all sits on an adaptive air suspension with adaptive damping to give the optimum ride comfort and smoothness depending on the situation.

On the inside is the quality styling we expect from Audi, with an emphasis on giving the interior a more spacious feeling than its predecessor. The latest MMI navigation and console will be incorporated, which displeased me in the R8, but came to appreciate with more current incarnations. A prevailing design element is the “wrap-around” curve that forms “an elegant belt line as on a yacht” and that the instrument panel is “neat and tidy” and “shaped like a gentle wave,” descriptions which I can conjure James May in my mind saying aloud and then following with “I don’t know what all that means, but I quite like it.” In any case, the interior is to be just as stylish and comfortable as current models, if not better.

Expect pricing details to effervesce nearer to the fall of 2010 when they will begin to appear in dealers in the U.S., but have in mind that it will be one of its factors in competing with cars like the Mercedes-benz S Class and Jaguar XJ. As always, of the utmost importance is the experience behind the wheel, and if Audi’s latest offerings are anything to go by, the 2011 Audi A8 should be one hack of a ride.


-Alex K-