Monday, February 28, 2011

Volkswagen Twin Drive Concept in the flesh at Geneva


Earlier this year, famed design house Italdesign Giugiaro became part of the Volkswagen Group, and the longtime collaborators are are presenting their first joint concepts at the Geneva Motor Show this week.

The Italian design firm calls the Tex an "interpretation of tomorrow's sporty Volkswagen," incorporating coupe-like lines into a hatchback shape. In execution, it looks a bit like the current Euro-spec Honda Civic hatch to our eyes – especially up front. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but if we're honest, we expected something a little bolder from the company that has penned some of the most gorgeous designs of all time.

The Tex Concept is powered by Volkswagen's Twin Drive plug-in hybrid system, which we're told has a range of 35 kilometers (about 21 miles) with just the battery driving the wheels.

Inside, the Tex uses a driver-focused cockpit, and unlike the vast majority of concept cars that we'll be seeing in Geneva, the Giugiaro interior looks nearly production-ready. We like the implementation of the flat-bottomed steering wheel, supportive seats and funky new shift knob.

While the Tex is merely a concept right now, there's no telling if Volkswagen will use this as a basis for a future sports car, perhaps even a Golf or GTI far along down the road.

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Volkswagen Bulli Concept is a Microbus redux


Remember the 2001 Volkswagen Microbus concept? For those who need reminding, it was a new look at an old icon – one that got enthusiasts and the automotive press all hot and bothered right after we ticked over into the new millennium. Sadly, management changes at Volkswagen killed the concept before it could become a reality.

Now, a decade later, VW is trying out the concept again at this year's Geneva Motor Show. This time it's called the Volkswagen Bulli, and like its 2001 ancestor, this one is designed to carry on the legacy of the brand's famous Microbus. This Geneva concept packs a 113-horsepower electric motor drawing power from a lithium-ion battery pack. At full charge, the Bulli is said to be theoretically good for 186 miles before a recharge. When it's time for more juice, VW says the Bulli can be fully charged in less than an hour.

The Bulli's skin stays fairly true to the original Microbus shape, which means a flat load floor and plenty of interior space. Even old-school Samba fans will notice the family resemblance. Inside, VW supplied the Bulli with a removable iPad that controls the stereo, navigation, bluetooth and HVAC from its port on the console.

In a neat touch, the iPad will communicate with a Fender USA-designed stereo system, which should pump out more than enough roar for you and the kiddies.

No word on pricing yet or when the Bulli might be available, but we wouldn't expect it until 2014 if it reaches production at all.

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Video: MTM R8 V10 BiTurbo and TT-RS preview


Here is a quick look from the MTM booth at Geneva.
We can't wait for some action footage of this 777HP beast

Hamann Guardian Kit for the Porsche Cayenne


Hamann wants Cayenne drivers to do more to distinguish themselves and will therefore in Geneva with its latest interpretation of this German SUV show.

This example is based on the Cayenne Turbo , which by default is good for 500 hp. Of course they show the V8 is not alone, they muddle about the engine electronics and a sports exhaust mount. Together with other filters, these operations account for an extra 50 hp while torque rises from 700 to 770 Nm. In short, more fun to drive, and from 0 to 100 km / h acceleration is experienced in 4.4 seconds.

The appearance is transformed into a widebody consisting of a front bumper (including fog lamps and LEDs), side skirts, rear bumper that can accommodate two huge exhaust pipes with a diameter of 120 mm. Furthermore, there are 23 "wheels put under for 35 mm and 30 mm rear outside stabbing. Behind the wheels we see ceramic brakes by MOV'IT.

The interior is decked with carbon fiber goodies on the center console, instrument panel, and steering wheel.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

During a presentation at a technology demonstration at its lightweight research and production plant in Neckersulm, Germany, senior Audi product developers teased an upcoming R8 supercar variant codenamed “NF” that will feature even greater usage of lightweight composites.

Before we go any further, the photos you see here are not the NF. Audi showed journalists a computer rendering of the passenger cell of the NF during a presentation on the progression of carbon-fiber and other lightweight materials in Audi vehicles. The white R8 5.2 V-10 you see depicted is a lightweight prototype we believe is related to the NF project. Audi would not allow cameras into the presentations, instead handing out the approved photos you see here.

The vehicle identified as R8 NF was featured on a timeline describing the proliferation of carbon-fiber in vehicles such as the R8 and highlighted the carbon-fiber engine cover on the R8 Spyder, the roof of the R8-based E-Tron and the various pieces found on the limited-run R8 GT, amongst others. Denoted at the 2014 mark was the NF, or more specifically, the passenger section. The image, taken in context, implied that the NF would feature a new carbon-fiber rear bulkhead between the seat backs and the engine compartment and showed the carbon-fiber piece extending into the lower B-pillars. Audi would not elaborate on the image.

Later during a tour of the Audi Lightweight Design Center at Neckersulm, however, the company showed off the white R8 prototype you see here. This car has had multiple pieces of the bodywork replaced with carbon-fiber including the bumpers and the decklid. More significantly, Audi had also replaced the roof and floor pans with carbon-fiber. All told, Audi says, the prototype is 20-percent lighter than an aluminum-bodied R8. Audi engineers then unveiled a crash-tested prototype R8 similar to the white car that also featured carbon-fiber roof rails, an important structural member.

The photo of the video screen shows the crash test results, which reveals that the carbon-fiber floor pan survived the head-on front crash test without incident. Audi also used the same car in both a side-impact crash test with a pole and a roof-crush test, during which the carbon-fiber roof rails intruded minimally into the passenger cabin. The carbon-fiber floor didn’t fare as well in the side-impact test, buckling underneath the seat but with almost no intrusion into the passenger cabin. Audi claims that the intrusion from all three tests was so small that the car meets current crash testing requirements. Audi did not provide pictures of the crash-test car.

The company had another spoiler up its sleeve as well. Later in the demonstration, the company elaborated on the research it has done on the use of carbon-fiber as s structural element. The wavy, corrugated piece of carbon-fiber you see in the pictures was used in a drop test to assess its ability to absorb crash energy. Engineers then showed a simulation in which the corrugated piece was used behind the passenger compartment of a coupe (which looked an awful lot like an R8) for energy absorption during a rear-end crash. This leads us to believe that the company is researching the possibility of replacing traditional metal crumple zones with carbon-fiber in the future to further reduce weight.

Audi’s research into lightweight materials and construction techniques will release more info later this weekend as the event continues.

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

2012 Audi A6 LED headlight details


Audi’s R8 supercar pioneered the way with the first production all-LED headlight units and now the technology is filtering across to more affordable models like the new 2012 Audi A6 sedan.

This will be the first time that all-LED headlights will be used on a sedan--the units on the Lexus LS 600h use both an LED element and regular xenons--though the A7 Sportback and new A8 models get them too. The more familiar halogen or bi-xenon lights will still be offered as well.

The benefits of the LED headlights are numerous. The advanced units emit a strong white light that is similar to daylight, and use just 40 watts of electricity each, helping them reduce energy consumption.

They consist of just four one-chip and five two-chip LEDs to create dipped-beam light, and 24 white LEDs to make up the daytime running lights in each headlight. This keeps power consumption and maintenance down, and assures a good service life.

The new LED headlights also get special adaptive light control and high-beam assist features. The headlight control unit relies on a small video camera in the base of the rear view mirror and routes data from the optional MMI navigation plus navigation system to anticipate changes in ambient lighting. For example, the cornering lights can be triggered before the car reaches a junction or corner to aid visibility on approach.

The high-beam assistant, meanwhile, automatically varies the range and width of the headlights between dipped and full beam according to the road situation. The system also incorporates an all-weather function that uses a camera mounted on the rear view mirror to detect the lights of oncoming traffic and adjust the headlight intensity so that it doesn’t distract other drivers.

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MTM R8 V10 Biturbo set for debut in Geneva


Tuning firm MTM plans to show off their latest version of the Audi R8 V10 Biturbo at the Geneva Motor Show next week, according to the company's website. With a blinding new chrome exterior, the not-so-subtle car will be an easy mark for traffic cops.

However, police cars will have an incredibly tough time keeping up with the highly-tuned machine, which takes advantage of 766 horsepower (571 kW / 777 PS) and up to 888 Nm (655 ft-lb) of torque. The bi-turbo kit is expected to get the car to over 360 km/h (224 mph), once testing is completed. So far, the vehicle has "only" managed 347.6 km/h (216 mph), according to

Other features on the car include 20-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin PS2 tires. Upgraded 8-piston brakes, a new front lip and rear spoiler, and handling improvements have also been installed. The driver controls the four-wheel-drive car by way of a six-speed manual transmission. With any hope the car deliver's an exquisite driving experience, as the car will cost €400,000.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

The next generation Porsche Boxster is continuing its testing in the cold of northern Sweden, as evidenced by this new spy video. The styling is strong but continues with the current model look. Peeking out from under the camouflage we can see new details that characterize the 981 from the present model, with the all-new front and rear LED lights.

The engine range of the new Boxster should see the current six-cylinder boxer increase from 2.9 and 3.4 liters, updated with some more horsepower and better fuel consumption. But the real news will be made by the debut of a brand new 2.5-liter four-cylinder which might be proposed in turbocharged variant.

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Video: Audi A7 90 second review


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Porsche Cayman R review


What does the Porsche Cayman R have that the Porsche Cayman S doesn’t?
Aluminium doors (pinched from the GT3) for a start, which trim 15kg from the Cayman R’s kerbweight, along with lightweight 19in alloys from the Boxster Spyder that save another 5kg. Bucket seats save another 12kg, as does the lack of air-conditioning. There’s no radio either, and a smaller 54-liter fuel tank pilfers the pounds.

Other additions to spice up the new 2011 Porsche Cayman R include a new front bumper and fixed rear spoiler, and together with black wing mirrors, black headlamp surrounds and ‘Porsche’ decals, it’s a cohesive little package that makes the R looks much more aggressive than the S.

There’s 20mm lower suspension, itself tweaked to take the weight reductions into account, and there’s a proper locking rear diff. Unfortunately you also lose the slick cupholders that slide out of the dash and the dashboard is low-rent plastic rather than leather-covered. Such are the sacrifices you make in the name of performance chez Porsche.

Any other changes to the new Cayman R?
Some tweaks are less intense, but still welcome: the direct-injection 3.4-litre flat six is now in Boxster Spyder-spec, with power increased by 10bhp at 200rpm higher. Our car had the optional twin-clutch, seven-speed PDK gearbox, but whether you opt for it or the six-cog manual, the 0-62mph time drops by two tenths, to 4.9sec for the self-shifter and 5.0sec for the enthusiasts’ favorite.

The top speed for either ‘box is up a few inconsequential mph, but the weight reduction means both versions of the Cayman R are a little cleaner and greener than the Cayman S that sits below: thirst and emissions tumble from 28.8mpg and 230g/km to 29.1mpg and 228g/km for the manual; the PDK-specced one drops from 30.1mpg and 221g/km for the Cayman S to 30.4 and 218 for the Cayman R PDK.

What's the Cayman R like to drive?
Brilliant. The R's steering is beautifully weighted and detailed, it’s more exploitable and friendly than a 911, and with the car’s sports exhaust there’s a proper hair-erecting howl. The seats are great, offering excellent support without the back-breaking hardness of Porsche’s most extreme buckets.

This car had pretty much every option on it, including the PDK ‘box and ceramic brakes. There’s never been much wrong with regular Porsche stoppers, but the PCCBs are relentlessly strong, have great feel, and will stand you in good stead if you intend to take your R on a few track days. You might prefer the Cayman's precise manual transmission, but the double-clutch PDK unit is slick when you’re cruising around, and the optional Sport Chrono Pack has buttons to sharpen the throttle response and turn the PDK gearbox into a super-sharp unit when you’re on it. It’s got a proper set of paddles, too.

The Cayman R is an excellent sports car: fast, fun, and all the changes make it a little sharper and more incisive than the regular Cayman S, already a favorite around these parts. Our ideal spec? The bigger 64-liter fuel tank is a no-cost option we’d definitely have, air-conditioning is a necessity, and many buyers will pick sat-nav. Then you’ve got a Cayman that’s faster and more focused than the Cayman S and edging ever closer to that entry level 911 Carrera.

The Cayman R is a great example of Porsche doing what it does best.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Video: Porsche Sport Driving having fun in the snow


Volkswagen unveils the new Golf Cabriolet


Revealed in Geneva, the new Golf Cabriolet is back with an all new upgraded soft top that opens in 9.5 seconds.

Following design cues from the Golf hatcback, this cabriolet has an obvious low profile with racked A pillars. LED's will come standard on both the headlights and tailights. Also standard is an automatic deploying roll-over bar, front airbags, side head/thorax airbags, knee airbag for the driver and ESP.

The new convertibles top is driven by hydraulic drive. It can also be opened or closed during driving at speeds of up to 30 km/h.

A full range of turbo engines will be available along with BlueMotion.

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