Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Video: VW GTI Edition 35


Volkswagen will be bringing 3 special Golf editions to the 2011 Wörthersee show.

The Golf GTI 16S is a racer based on the 1977 Golf GTI developed by KWL Motorsport that comes with a 1.6 liter unit instead of the usual 2.0 liter TFSI. The power plant generates an impressive 215 PS (158 kW / 211 bhp) and is mated to a 5-speed racing gearbox from VW Motorsport.

The 16S also features a Billstein chassis and an 80-liter fuel tank and is a Group 4 competitor at the 24hr race at the Nürburgring.

Speaking of Nürburgring, VW will also be bringing its Golf24 endurance racer to the show.

The real celebratory model to commemorate the Golf GTI's 35th anniversary, though, is the Golf GTI Edition 35 - a model which will actually make it to showrooms and onto the streets.

The Edition 35 comes with more power than the standard GTI via the revised 2.0-liter TFSI petrol engine unit doling out 235 PS (173 kW / 232 hp) instead of the usual 210 PS (155 kW / 207 hp).

The Golf GTI Edition 35 is already available for order in Germany with prices starting at €30,425.

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Audi prepares 503HP A1 Clubsport Quattro for Worthersee


Every year, fans of the Volkswagen Group get together at the Wörthersee festival, held in Reifnitz, Austria, to share their passion about cars. The show is so big that the VW Group’s brands spare no money to develop dedicated one-off models for the event. Audi’s star attraction at this year’s Worthersee Tour (June 1 to 4, 2011), which celebrates its 30th anniversary, is the ludicrous A1 clubsport Quattro.

The one-off show car is a rally-inspired A1 hatch that uses a heavily modified version of the 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder petrol engine found in the TT RS and the RS3 Sportback. The five-pot normally produces 340-horsepower and 450 Nm (331.90 lb-ft), but thanks to the systematic tuning of the turbocharger, intercooler, induction tract and the exhaust, output has been boosted to 503-horsepower and 660 Nm (487 lb-ft) of torque.

Power is transferred to all-four wheels through a six-speed manual transmission and quattro permanent all-wheel drive system, both sourced from the TT RS and enhanced by Audi’s engineers.

Weighing in at 1,390 kilograms (3,064 pounds), the A1 clubsport quattro can go from 0 to 100km/h (62mph) in 3.7 seconds, and from 0 to 200km/h (124mph) in just 10.9 seconds. The 50-70mph (80-112km/h) overtaking can be completed in fourth gear in 2.4 seconds. The car’s top speed is electronically governed at 250km/h or 155mph.

Audi’s engineers also equipped the special A1 with a high-performance braking system that includes six-piston callipers grabbed by perforated carbon fiber-ceramic discs up front and large steel discs at the rear. The car rides on 255/30 low-profile tires mounted on bespoke 19-inch alloy wheels and an adjustable coilover sports suspension.

On the outside, the A1 clubsport quattro is finished in a Glacier White matte paint finish contrasted by high-gloss black roof arches with the roof itself made of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP). The front wings, the doors and the rear side panels of car have been widened by a total of 60 millimeters (2.3-in.), while it also sports a new front bumper and grille assembly, a vented hood, side exhaust outlets, a large roof wing, a bespoke rear bumper with a diffuser and unique mirrors.

Inside, Audi decided to eliminate the rear seats and use the space to place a large crossbar to further stiffen the body as well as two racing helmets. There are two lightweight bucket seats sourced from the Audi R8 GT that feature a carbon fibre chassis and four-point belts. Many areas are covered with exposed, matte-finished carbon fiber while Audi reduced the car’s weight by removing several features such as the infotainment system. In addition, simple loops replace the handles on the doors, the glove box and the covers of the storage compartments.

While Audi has no current plans to introduce a production version of the show car, the A1 clubsport quattro is believed to hint at an upcoming high-performance version sporting either the S1 or RS1 badge.

Along with its physical debut at the Wörthersee fest, the Audi A1 clubsport quattro will also make a brief online appearance in the Need for Speed World where it will be offered to all players as a free in-game rental car from June 1 – 4.

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2012 Porsche Boxster latest details


According to the latest sources, the next-generation Boxster, also known as the 981, is being conceived almost entirely from scratch.

The 981 will feature a new cab-forward design to better distinguish the model from the 911. Its dimensions will grow by 60 mm (2.36 inches) at the wheelbase and 37 mm (1.46 inches) in total length, while the height loses 10 mm (0.39 inches) and the front overhang is reduced by 25 mm (0.98 inches). The new cabin will provide more legroom, 18 mm (0.70 inches), for occupants of its two seats.

Weight comes down too, by 15 kg (33 lbs) to 1320 kg (2904 lbs) for the standard model while the Boxster S will tip the scales at 1340 kg (2948 lbs).

The Boxster will also feature some unique styling cues on its front and rear fascias, its own headlamps and taillights, a new side air intake design and a steeper windscreen. All making the model very different from the 911.

But the real distinct factor will be a new flat-four power plant that Porsche is developing that will be a flagship engine of the next Boxster and Cayman models. The four-cylinder unit will displace 2.5 liters and feature a larger bore than on the current 2.7 liter engine. The 2.5 liter will be twin-turbocharged up to around the 360 bhp (268 kW / 365 PS) and 347 lb-ft (470 Nm) of torque mark.

The 2.7 liter engine stays, with a bump in power from 241 hp (180 kW / 245 PS) to 265 bhp (198 kW / 269 PS) and 280 Nm (206 lb-ft) of torque. The 3.4 liter for the Boxster S will deliver 315 bhp (235 kW / 319 PS) and 360 Nm (266 lb-ft) of torque compared to the current 291 hp (217 kW / 295 PS).

It is also said the new 2.5 liter straight-four will come in various performance stages, which may mean it will eventually replace the 2.7 liter unit altogether.

The new Boxster is scheduled for a debut at the Detroit auto show in January 2012.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Volkswagen to sign major battery contract with Bosch


German automotive supplier Bosch is set to announce a major battery contract with Volkswagen, according to Reuters. By awarding Bosch the contract, VW, which previously inked a battery-related deal with Sanyo, will have at least two massive companies lined up to supply it with batteries for upcoming electric vehicles like the E-Up! and Golf Blue-e-motion. Most automakers are accelerating efforts to electrify many of their vehicles, which means that competition over battery suppliers is quickly heating up.

Volkswagen has said that it will launch battery-powered vehicles in 2013 and expects these zero-emissions automobiles to account for around three percent of its worldwide sales by 2018. Both VW and Bosch declined to reply to Reuters' request for more info on the rumored battery deal.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

2012 Porsche 911 NOT coming with hybrid or KERS


Earlier this month, there were reports the 2012 Porsche 911 would feature a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) across the entire model lineup. We had our doubts, so it comes as little surprise the information has been dismissed as complete "nonsense."

A source has revealed "The new 911 will not be offered with hybrid drive for the foreseeable future. If and when it is, it will most likely happen as a plug-in (hybrid)." The latter part is a tad interesting, because it would require a larger and heavier battery than a traditional hybrid.

Regardless of the final details, the 2012 Porsche 911 will be slightly larger and more powerful than the current model.

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Video: Porsche 911 GT3 R on the Nurburgring


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Porsche 911 China 10th Anniversary Edition


Porsche has unveiled a special edition 911 to celebrate the company's 10th anniversary in China.

Based on the Turbo S, the unique model features a gold exterior with a carbon fiber hood, a carbon fiber rear spoiler and 19-inch Sport Classic wheels.

Inside, the cabin is outfitted with Alcantara sport seats, carbon fiber trim and exclusive sill plates. Other highlights include a Sport Design steering wheel, unique floor mats and special badging.

Like the standard model, power is provided by a turbocharged 3.8-liter six-cylinder engine that produces 530 PS (390 kW / 523 hp) and 700 Nm (516 lb-ft) of torque. It is connected to a seven-speed PDK transmission, which enables the car to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 3.3 seconds and hit a top speed of 315 km/h (196 mph).

Production will be limited to 10 units, but no word on pricing.

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2013 VW Scirocco rendering


VW will wait until 2013 to bring the facelift Scirocco. New headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights, and the taillights in Golf R fashion are expected. The dashboard is said to stay consistent with that of the upcoming Golf 7.

Until more info is released, enjoy the renderings

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2014 Passat rendering


Here are some recent renderings of what the 8th generation Passat will look like when it hits the showrooms sometime in 2014.

The 2014 Passat will be the first Passat with Volkswagen’s new kit architecture as its underpinnings. The Mk 8 Passat will no longer sit on a platform, but will be built using Volkswagen’s MQB, or Modularer QuerBaukasten. (“Modular Transverse Kit” or more hifalutin, “Modular Transverse Matrix.”) This new kit architecture covers pretty much everything in Volkswagen’s future, from the Polo to the Passat.

The kit doesn’t cover anything higher. Between the B-Class Passat and the D-Class Phaeton is a C-Class sized gap. Rumor had it that this gap would be closed with a Super-Passat (or value-sized Phaeton), a project that has haunted the hallways of Wolfsburg’s Forschung und Entwicklung (R&D Department) under the codename VW 511). This project is said to be off the table, but we don't believe it.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Audi Q7 V12 Diesel abandoned


The Audi Q7 will have one less engine in its line-up soon, as the V12 TDI powertrain gets the flick. The 5.9-liter V12 turbo-diesel produces 500 hp and about 1,000 Nm of torque, and Jens Meiners at Car and Driver says it’s the best SUV he’s ever driven. Still, sales of the Q7 with this particular powertrain have been woeful and so not only is Audi abandoning it, it won’t get a successor and won’t be used on any other model.

Meanwhile a trend set by BMW and Mercedes could be continued by Audi in abandoning V8 diesels, too. The 4.2-litre V8 TDI which is available both on the Q7 and the A8 could also be put out to pasture. The unit makes 340 hp on the SUV and 350 hp on the A8 sedan, but with the three-litre V6 TDI offering 313 hp on the new Audi A6, a bigger unit is no longer required.

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Porsche Boxster E specifications announced


Following its debut earlier this year, Porsche has released specifications about the Boxster E prototypes.

One model features two electric motors that give the car an all-wheel drive system and a combined output of 180 kW (241 hp / 245 PS) and 540 Nm (398 lb-ft) of torque. It enables the 1,600 kg (3,528 lb) Boxster to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 5.5 seconds and hit a limited top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph).

The other two prototypes are rear-wheel drive and have one electric motor that produces 90 kW (121 hp / 122 PS) and 270 Nm (199 lb-ft) of torque. As you'd expect, the performance is less than thrilling as it accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 9.8 seconds and has a top speed of 150 km/h (93 mph).

All three prototypes are powered by a 29 kWh lithium-iron-phosphate battery which enables them to travel up to 170 kilometers (107 miles) on a single charge. When the battery is depleted, it can be fully recharged in approximately nine hours.

Lastly, all three prototypes are outfitted with ceramic composite regenerative brakes, an electric air conditioner, a revised instrument cluster and an active sound system that provides drivers with acoustic feedback.

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Audi Q5 Hybrid Fuel Cell technical revealed


Audi has brought the experimental Q5 Hybrid Fuel Cell (HFC) to the Michelin Challenge Bibendum, an event showcasing sustainable mobility technologies, which took place at the old Berlin airport (Tempelhof) this past weekend (May 18 to 22).

With the Q5 HFC, Audi is exploring the potential of combining hydrogen fuel cell technology with a hybrid drivetrain for greater range and efficiency over a standard hydrogen-power car (which generates electricity to drive the vehicle).

The Q5 HFC features two high-pressure cylinders where the hydrogen is stored at a pressure rate of 700 bar (10,153 psi). The fuel cell is made of a polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) and has an output of 98 kW (133 PS / 131 bhp). A 1.3 kWh lithium-ion battery is also able to store energy while two electric motors mounted close to the wheels, with a combined output of 90 kW (122 PS / 121 bhp) and up to 420 Nm (309.78 lb-ft) of torque, drive the Q5.

Audi did not provide further details on range or fuel-economy but the model is still in the very early stages of testing.

All hydrogen-powered cars are zero-emission vehicles, emitting only water, but this Q5 HFC may make the real-world viability of a hydrogen fuel cell car far more of a possibility.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Porsche Panamera Stingray GTR by TOPCAR


TopCar has released the first details about their new styling package for the Porsche Panamera.

Dubbed the Stringray GTR, the body kit features new bumpers, widened fenders and modified doors. Additionally, there's a new hood, extended side skirts, an aggressive diffuser and a massive rear wing. The GTR kit was created to satisfy client's requests for more aggressive and "charismatic" styling compared to the original Stingray kit.

Besides the styling enhancements, customers can order a bespoke interior and two performance packages for the Panamera Turbo. The first option enables the twin-turbo 4.8-liter V8 to produce over 600 hp (447 kW / 453 hp) thanks to a new intake manifold, a high-flow air filter and a sports exhaust system. Turning things up a notch, there's also a 700 hp (522 kW / 710 PS) package which has more "sophisticated" modifications.

Regardless of the options, the styling package is priced from €45,000 and production will be limited to 25 units.

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Video: A Day in the Life of an Audi Driver


Video: Driving the Audi A3 e-tron


Monday, May 23, 2011

VW Golf BlueMotion Review vs Toyota Prius


The Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion uses just 3.8 litres of diesel per 100km. That’s less than the Toyota Prius and without all the fancy hybrid

Buying a current-generation hybrid has all of a sudden become an almost pointless exercise. You can now buy a German built Golf that uses less fuel and costs thousands less.

The Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion is the most fuel efficient Golf of all time. Its 1.6-liter, four-cylinder turbo-diesel 77kW engine (250Nm of torque) uses 0.1L/100km less fuel than the all-mighty Prius and it doesn’t even need to carry around batteries and an electric engine.

Volkswagen may be building hybrid and electric vehicles in the near future, but while it perfects that technology the German powerhouse has managed to showcase just how fuel efficient conventional vehicles can be if the right supporting technologies are applied.

Previously the most fuel efficient Golf was the Golf 77TDI, using 4.9L/100km. The BlueMotion essentially makes use of the same underpinnings except it harnesses fuel-saving technologies such as better aerodynamics, start-stop engine system and brake energy recuperation.

As a vehicle, the Golf BlueMotion is just a Golf. It drives like a Golf, it handles like a Golf and is just as practical as one. Volkswagen’s entire marketing campaign for the BlueMotion is based around the tag line “You don’t have to be enviro-mental when you can be enviro-normal”. A clever play on words that is meant to highlight the fact that the Golf BlueMotion is not a car that compromises on features and practicality just to be fuel efficient.

The German company will not be advertising the BlueMotion against the Prius. It believes the BlueMotion can stand on its own feet and prove its credentials without needing to put down the competition directly.

Available as a five-door, five-speed manual only, the Golf BlueMotion is likely to only attract certain buyers. It will no doubt lose sales as a result of not being available as an automatic (DSG) and may also be disadvantaged by lack of multimedia support. Volkswagen says the idea of its BlueMotion cars is to be as fuel efficient as possible and that the 3.8L/100km figure was only achievable with a manual gearbox.

If you’re wondering why it’s not a six-speed manual, it’s due to the more appropriate gear ratios of the five-speed manual. Its fifth gear is so tall that it’s actually more fuel efficient in the BlueMotion application than the standard six-speed generally fitted to the Golf range.

So, what’s so different about the Golf BlueMotion and the Golf 77TDI that it replaces. For a start, it sits 10mm lower on sports suspension, comes with a modified radiator grille, bumpers and side skirt extensions in R-Line styling and rides on 15-inch alloy wheels with low resistance tyres (195/65 – no spare wheel for weight reduction). All of this is done for better aerodynamics. It makes use of start-stop technology, which means the Golf will turn itself off when it’s stopped in traffic. It will only turn the engine off if the BlueMotion is stationary, gear is in neutral and the battery is operating normally.

Start-stop technology has been available in many other vehicles for some time, but for the majority of first-time users it will come as a bit of a shock when their vehicle turns itself off each time it stops. It will take a few hours to get used to, and the most important thing to know is that it will instantly turn back on when you engage the clutch. It does this so quickly that there is no need to wait for the engine to re-engage before driving away. By the time you’ve engaged the clutch and selected first gear the Golf BlueMotion is ready to go. Given how long one can spend in traffic, this system helps save fuel when stationary but can also be switched-off if needed.

When the Golf BlueMotion is decelerating via the brakes, brake energy recuperation technology uses the kinetic energy of the vehicle to charge the battery. By doing this more intensely when the vehicle is decelerating as opposed to at all times, it eases the load of the engine which has to keep the battery charged. It’s unclear just how much fuel each one of these technologies saves individually, but it’s the total as a whole which manages the remarkable 3.8L/100km figure.

The BlueMotion will also suggest perfect gearshift times for maximum fuel efficiency when driving. This goes a long way to helping you get the maximum fuel saving.

Visually the Golf BlueMotion is an attractive vehicle. There are small BlueMotion badges on the grille and tailgate which, from a distance, can make the car appear to be a special-edition sports model. The lower stance and the more aggressive styling (thanks to the bumpers) make the BlueMotion look much sportier than it really is. If the 15-inch wheels didn’t give it away so easily, it could actually look rather mean – for a hybrid-beater. The rear is also home to smoked lights and a roof edge spoiler in GTI design.

Sit inside and you’ll instantly tell this is a Golf. There are no gimmicks that will tell you how many trees you’ve saved or whether a penguin is thanking you from the North Pole. It won’t even draw smiley faces if you drive economically. It’s all just serious business. A typical Golf.

Nonetheless, the no nonsense approach means soft-touch plastics around the dashboard and doors, comfortable seats in a unique BlueMotion cloth trim, a leather steering wheel and low tyre pressure indicator. Like all Golfs, it can comfortably fit four adults for long distance drives and five if necessary. It’s also as safe as they come thanks to all the electronic nanny controls you can think of (ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, EDL, ASR & ESP) plus seven airbags.

The Golf BlueMotion makes use of an RCD310 multimedia system which has no support for Bluetooth phone connectivity or audio streaming. Given that there are no options available for the model, it also misses out on iPhone/iPod/USB support, which is surprising given the ‘no-compromise’ nature of the BlueMotion’s marketing campaign. Not having Bluetooth available even as an option is disappointing. To be fair, it does have an auxiliary jack which allows nearly all music players to be connected the ‘ancient’ way.

All practicality and features aside, the BlueMotion displayed an average fuel economy of just 3.9L/100km. Only 0.1L/100km higher than the official figure. A positively surprising result.

Unlike the Prius which takes someone with a PhD in aerodynamics and engineering to get the official 3.9L/100km figure, the Golf BlueMotion can easily achieve its quoted figure by an average driver.

The BlueMotion sports surprisingly good ride and handling characteristics. It’s comfortable on rough surfaces but its low sports suspension allows for lively cornering and the 250Nm of torque provide adequate pull for out-of-corner acceleration. A lot more fun to drive than any other super fuel efficient car we’ve ever found ourselves in.

If you can look past the manual-only disadvantage and the fact that it lacks Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity or native support for iPod/iPhones, the Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion is not only the most fun you can have in a fuel efficient car, but it’s also practical, cheap, attractive and a lot more engaging than its competition.

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