Thursday, January 31, 2008

Volvo XC 60 Prototype winter Testing

These are the latest spy shots of Volvo's XC 60, winter testing. Although the test vehicle is quite heavily disguised, we can still pick out some of the details that will be making it onto the actual model.

The profile of the car shows that the XC 60 will follow the same cab-forward design theme of it's bigger brother, the XC 90. The lower slung bonnet is indicative of the measures taken by manufacturers of SUVs to meet EU crash standards because a tall bonnet does more damage to pedestrians. A good example would be the new X5 compared to the previous generation.

The shape of the bonnet is also inline with showing less superior shape overall, so as to distinguish the smaller models from the larger ones, in the same way the BMW X3 looks lower in the front than the X5 or even when comparing the new GLK and the ML class from Mercedes. Hopefully all of this does not ruin the overall look of the car, taking into account how good the concept looked!

From the rear we can also see that the light clusters from Vovo's recent concept, which points at what the XC 60 will look like, are very similar on the test vehicle. Many feel that this could be a very important model for Volvo and there is no doubt that safety conscious buyers and Volvo fans in the medium sized SUV market are waiting in anticipation for when it launches in 2009.

Related entries:

Volvo XC60 Concept Revealed
Volvo XC60 SUV Images LEAKED

New Twingo Renaultsport Unveiled

Just a day after Renault announce they are to bring the Twingo further to the masses with the launch of their entry-level 'Extreme' model, things have just gotten a whole lot more extrême. It's not the first time that the hot hatch concept has come to the city car, but it's certainly the first time in Renaultsport form. Based largely on the Twingo concept car of 2006, the new Twingo Renaultsport is the third variant to gain the exclusive moniker, joining Clio and Megane hot hatch models.

Designed by Renault Sport Technologies' experts to achieve an affordable city car able both to deliver sports car performance and good day-to-day usability, the Twingo Renaultsport is a car born of a challenge. A 'fiery new' 1.6-litre petrol unit producing 133 hp satisifies the pursuit of an engine suitable in everyday driving and sporting punchiness, while for a refined drive with precise sports handling and responsiveness, the unit is mated to an efficient, balanced chassis.

Twingo Renaultsport is styled to thrill, packaging the compactness of its city car body with more curvaceous, assertive styling. Athletic wider wings, profiled sills and rear spoiler are all suitable additions, while strikingly prominent wheel arches are reminiscent of the previous-generation Clio V6 - a car enthusiasts lapped up with pride. Expect details inside to be similar to those in its siblings', namely optional bucket seats, chromed pedals, and a stylish sports fit and finish.

The new Twingo model was unveiled today near to Paris, France, alongside the international launch of the new R28 Formula 1 car. The F1 car was developed by the same Renaultsport team who developed the Clio, Megane and now new Twingo Renaultsport hatches. The car will make its public debut at March's Geneva Motor Show.

Press Release


Renault Sport Technologies profited from the international launch of the latest R28 Formula 1 single-seater in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris, France, today to take the wraps off Twingo Renault Sport. Renault's new, affordable, high-performance car slots into the Renault Sport range alongside its bigger sister cars, Clio and Mégane Renault Sport.

Twingo Renault Sport is a genuine hot hatch with looks to match and was designed to deliver both enjoyable roadholding and genuine sports performance. Its efficient, balanced chassis has been mated to a fiery but flexible 133hp engine to form a package that is sure to appeal to all those who seek sporting sensations and driving pleasure during everyday motoring.

Unmistakable sporting credentials

Renault has produced an affordable high-performance car which sits alongside Clio and Mégane Renault Sport in the Renault Sport range. Twingo Renault Sport's compact proportions and incisive, assertive styling are redolent of the Twingo Concept show car which was unveiled at the 2006 Paris Show. Twingo's existing lines are underpinned by a more curvaceous, athletic stance and the newcomer's sporty calling is further emphasized by its wider front and rear wings, profiled sills and spoiler.

Driving pleasure and sporting sensations during everyday motoring

Twingo Renault Sport is the response of Renault Sport Technologies' experts to a twopronged challenge, namely to deliver sports performance while at the same time ensuring that the new car is easy to use on a day-to-day basis. Twingo Renault Sport's chassis is both responsive and finely tuned to provide precise, balanced sports handling, while specific work on the pitch of its new 133hp 1,598cc engine reveals its punchy temperament.

The public will have the opportunity to examine Twingo Renault Sport in further detail at the forthcoming Geneva Motor Show.

Related entries:

New Renault Twingo Unveiled

New BMW M DKG Transmission

7-speed double-clutch with DriveLogic

The new BMW M3 Coupe, Sedan and Convertible will be the first to feature BMW's latest technological achievement. The M DKG is a seven-speed double clutch transmission with BMW M's DriveLogic.

The new transmission is capable of even faster gearshifts which result in faster acceleration than the six-speed manual of the new M3, improved fuel economy and reduced emissions. The M3 coupe is capable of a 0 - 100 km/h time of just 4.6 seconds (0.2 seconds faster than the manual) while still using only 11.9 liters of fuel per 100 km.

The transmission comes with an wide array of program choices, 11 to be precise. Five shift programmes in fully automatic mode, six in manual mode which are supplemened by the Launch Control program which will provide maximum use of every last horsepower from the 4.0 liter V8 (309 kW / 420 hp). We will have to wait and see whether this Launch Control is as capable as BMW claims.

As the name says, the M DKG uses two clutches, both are oil-cooled, one is used for the uneven gears and reverse while the other is used for the even gears. One clutch is of course in use while driving, while the other is already pre-engaged. This is the big secret behind the double-clutch system, resulting in almost instantaneous gearshifts.

BMW's Drivelogic system is capable of several different shifting options, ranging from F1 style as-fast-as-possible gearshifts to luxurious and smooth gearshifts for boulevard cruising. The transmission can be used through either a sports selector lever in the center console or aluminium paddle-shifters on the steering wheel.

New BMW M3 owners will be happy to hear that the M DKG transmission is capable of taking some punishment on the racetrack.

Press Release

New seven-speed transmission adds performance, even more refinement to BMW M3

Incomparably smooth, silky gearshifts in the blink of an eye, improved fuel economy and reduced emissions are just some of the benefits of the ground-breaking seven-speed M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic that has been developed by BMW M GmbH for the new BMW M3 Coupé, Sedan and Convertible.

On top of these benefits, the new M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic is able to produce lightning-fast gearshifts that result in accelerative abilities exceeding those of the six-speed manual transmission version of the new BMW M3.

The BMW M3 Coupé with M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic is able to accelerate from zero to 100km/h in just 4.6 seconds, or 0.2 of a second faster than the manual six-speed version, while returning an average fuel consumption of 11.9 litres/100 km.

As the world’s first seven-speed double-clutch gearbox developed for a high-torque, high-speed powerplant, the new BMW M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic simultaneously lifts refinement and efficiency to new levels while providing the driver with a wide range of options that adapt the system to the needs of the moment.

The new transmission offers as many as eleven driver-selectable electronically controlled driving program choices.

These include five shift programs in the fully automatic mode and six in manual mode, and are supplemented by a selectable Launch Control program that provides blistering off-the-line acceleration where the power from the 309 kW, 4.0-litre V8 M3 engine is transferred with maximum effect to the road.

The heart of the new BMW transmission is the double clutch system that acts to smooth out gearshifts to the point that they are often only discernible by watching the rise and fall of engine rpm on the M3’s tachometer.

Each oil-cooled wet clutch activates its own set of ratios - one is used for first, third, fifth and seventh gears, as well as reverse, while the other looks after second, fourth and sixth gears.

Gearshifts are effected by the disengagement of one clutch and the engagement of the other, moving seamlessly from the ratio in use to the next, preselected ratio.

The fact that the next ratio is preselected and engaged merely by activation of the clutch is the secret behind the amazingly smooth and efficient transition from gear to gear.

Combined with the BMW Drivelogic system that, as well as offering the driver a choice of seven specific operational modes, is also able to determine the appropriate mode according to the current driving style, the new transmission’s multi-faceted nature allows it to offer anything from rapid-fire F1-style shifting to smooth, luxurious behaviour suited to relaxed boulevard cruising.

The new M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic also incorporates a Low Speed Assistant mode that operates when manoeuvring at speeds less than 5 km/h to significantly increase the smoothness and degree of accelerator control available to the driver.

Gradient detection also means that the new M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic is able to determine the appropriate ratios when travelling up or down hills.

This avoids the "hunting" between gears so often experienced in regular automatics when travelling on undulating roads, while the appropriate selection of lower gears on downhill gradients helps maintain road speed by using the braking power of the engine.

The new M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic also offers the driver the choice of sequential operation via a sports selector lever in the centre console, or solid aluminium F1-style paddles on the steering wheel - right side for upshifts, left side for downshifts.

The range of shift programs available to the driver means it is possible for the M3 to behave with the grace and aplomb of a luxury car, or with the knife-edge rapidity and precision of a racecar - or anything in between.

In fully automatic D mode, the driver can select from five Drivelogic programmes that regulate both the gearshift speeds and the change points right through to the D5 mode where the engine is stretched close to its maximum rpm - depending on throttle position - on upshifts. In D1 mode, the M3 with M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic is able to start off in second gear to help avoid wheelspin in slippery conditions.

In manual mode, six different Drivelogic programmes allow a similar range of characteristics, with the added driver control provided by the ability to choose shift points manually. In S6 mode, the drive can also activate launch control by holding the shift lever in the forward position.

In keeping with the overtly dynamic abilities of the new BMW M3, the M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic, as well as being designed for engine speeds as high as 9,000 rpm, is also able to maintain correct operating temperatures even in the most extreme conditions - including racetrack operation - through its integration with the engine’s cooling system as well as the fact it also incorporates its own oil/air cooler.

The transmission’s interconnection with the engine cooling system also means a quicker temperature rise from startup, which contributes to reduced frictional losses and lower fuel consumption during the warm-up phase.

Faster shifting, smoother, and contributing even more to fuel economy and minimalised exhaust emissions, the new M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic raises the bar for sophisticated, high-performance motoring to new heights.

Related entries:

OFFICIAL: BMW M3 Convertible Revealed
Leaked: BMW M3 Cabrio
BMW M3 Cabrio Spied

BMW (SA) M3 Convertible: price, dates

BMW South Africa, manufacturers and exporters of 3 Series sedans to Japan, Australia, Singapore and other places, announced today the launch date of the new M3 Convertible.

Long spied and photographed - see side links - , M3 Convertible uses a hard folding top as opposed to the ragtop of previous models. It will launch in South Africa in May 2008, the same month as the appearance of the 1 Series Convertible. Not the best of months to let the cold breeze in, but South Africa does get a little warm around midday in winter in most parts, hence the sweaty convertible drivers who never know what time to close the top. Pricing for the sky-view is an “ouch”-inducing R744 500 (about USD 99,000).

Confirmed for the same time is BMW’s new M-DCT ‘box with its claimed quick changes that launch the vehicle 0.2 seconds faster than the manual. It was expected that M-DCT – M Double Clutch Transmission – would change seven times forward, but M Division decided otherwise, and stuck to six, despite some competitors (codenamed Lexus IS-F) even going for eight. M-DCT is a double-clutch system that works by pre-selecting the next gear before a driver selects it, thereby cutting the time it takes for changes to happen. Automatic mode can also be selected for slow traffic driving. The M-DCT option will set South Africans back some R783 500 (USD 106,000) for the Convertible, R702 000 (USD 94,800) coupe and R673 000 (USD 90,945) for the sedan.

We think a lot more South African dads will now be much happier transporting the kids to and from school than before.

Related entries:

OFFICIAL: BMW M3 Convertible Revealed
New BMW M3 Coupe (E92) - In Depth
BMW 1-Series Cabrio Revealed

Mercedes SL Facelift Revealed

Mercedes-Benz has just released details about the reworked SL range. We brought you leaked images of the new model last week, which showed a much more aggressive front end that resembles the headlights on the CLS and the grill of the CL. The new look certainly is more contemporary than before and does fit in well with the rest of Merc’s new range in terms of design but early comments have been the front can look awkward from some angles. Not much has changed at the rear in terms of design.

The SL is the world’s most successful premium roadster and has been in production since 1954 with the introduction of the 300 SL (Gullwing). In total, Mercedes-Benz has produced more that 630,000 SL roadsters. Mercedes-Benz describes the SL as sports car and while that might have been an apt description with the original models, there are those who believe that over the years the SL has grown to be more of a luxurious grand tourer than outright sports car, AMG models aside.

Engine options include two six-cylinder models, the SL 350 and a new SL 280 (170 kW/231 hp). The stalwart SL 500, with a V8 engine, and SL 600, with a V12 engine, will also feature in the new range.

Open-top drivers in cold climates will also appreciate that the SL now features the AIRSCARF system, introduced on the SLK. The interior has also been updated with a greater emphasis on the quality of the materials used. In particular, the more prominent stitching, such as on the console, makes the SL better prepared when compared to direct rivals, like the Aton Martin Vantage Roadster.

News on the handling front is that SL features a new direct steer system. The new system has variable rack ratio, which, compared to a constant ratio steering system, means that the driver does not have to move the steering wheel as much when cornering. According to Mercedes, this means that the car's response is more direct and that means that the drive will be sportier.

Speed-sensitive power steering is combined with the new system when driving slowly or parking to make it easier to park or maneuver thanks to the large ratio. We’ll have to wait for the road-tests to see if the new steering works as well in practice as it does in theory. The most interesting new feature is the Intelligent Light System, which provides five different light functions. According to Mercedes-Benz, these functions are designed specifically for typical driving situations and weather conditions.

The different modes include: country mode, motorway mode, enhanced fog lamps, cornering light function and active light function. The variable-control bi-xenon headlamps activate the various light functions automatically. With the motorway mode, for example, is activated in two stages when the speed of the car exceeds 90 km/h and increases the driver's range of vision by up to 60 percent.

Familiar Mercedes-Benz tehnology like the Command and Linguatronic (voice operating) system also feature while convenience features, like Keyless-Go are now standard. The facelifted SL-Class will introduced in March at the Geneva Motor Show and will land in European dealerships in April 2008.

Press Release

Sportier than ever before

Mercedes-Benz will continue its long tradition of producing legendary sports cars when it launches the new-generation SL-Class in spring 2008. The world's most successful premium roadster in its class features a new design with the emphasis firmly on sportiness and effortless assurance. These traits are also reflected in the handling qualities of the two-seater model, which now delivers even more athletic performance thanks to the new direct-steer system as well as offering enhanced comfort and safety. The SL 350 is powered by a newly developed, extremely high-revving sports engine boasting an impressive output of 232 kW/316 hp yet returns a fuel consumption figure that is 0.4 litres per 100 kilometres lower than that of its predecessor (NEDC). The SL range will now feature two six-cylinder models in the shape of the SL 350 and the new SL 280 (170 kW/231 hp) as well as the familiar SL 500 with a V8 engine and the top-of-the-range SL 600 with a V12 powerplant. The Mercedes sports car extends its lead in the safety stakes courtesy of bi-xenon headlamps, included as standard, and the Intelligent Light System whose light functions are designed specifically for typical driving situations. Further new features on board include AIRSCARF neck-level heating. This system - invented by Mercedes-Benz and available as an optional extra - enhances comfort when driving with the roof down, extending the roadster season until well into the winter months. SL passengers are kept informed and entertained by the standard-fit COMAND multimedia system, which has also been fully redeveloped and features additional functions.

The new-generation SL caps a glorious history of Mercedes sports cars, which began in 1954 with the introduction of the legendary 300 SL "Gullwing", followed in 1957 by the launch of the first SL Roadster. To date, the Stuttgart manufacturer has produced a total of over 630,000 SL sports cars.

Like its predecessors, the new-generation SL also merits its "incomparable" tag. No other sports car in this market segment offers such a perfect balance of sportiness, safety and comfort. These three qualities are the cornerstones of highly eventful, active motoring that provides a profound sense of well-being - for hallmark Mercedes refinement at the highest, sportiest level.

New design idiom with unmistakable sporty overtones

When it came to developing a concept and design for the new-generation SL Class, the Mercedes-Benz engineers set out with the aim of accentuating the Roadster's sporty attributes even more strongly than before. This aspiration is reflected in the new front-end design featuring as its centrepiece a wide and, therefore, very dominant radiator grille whose V shape symbolises sporty virtues such as forwards thrust and performance potential.

A horizontal louvre makes the radiator grille appear wider and, in doing so, emphasises the powerful aspect of the SL's front end, making it seem surprisingly new yet also very familiar. By using expressive stylistics in this way, the Mercedes designers are able to forge a link with the SL's history and create a front-end design that is reminiscent of the earlier SL Roadster models, which also expressed their poise and assurance through wide, very distinctive radiator grilles. Hence the front-end design of the new-generation SL shows Mercedes-Benz taking the styling of the legendary sports car to the next level.

The designers also pay homage to the forefather of the SL model series: the two powerdomes on the bonnet and the gill-style air outlets in the front wings are unmistakable hallmarks of the 300 SL from 1954 and have been given a modern interpretation for the new Mercedes sports car.

These classic design features drawn from five decades of roadster tradition are in stylish harmony with new elements of the modern Mercedes design idiom, including the distinctive V-shape of the front section and, above all, the headlamps, which are drawn deeply into the flanks, thus further emphasising the impression of breadth at the front end. As well as giving the SL a highly contemporary look, this striking headlamp design also sees the Roadster continuing its traditional role as a trendsetter. Just like its predecessors, the new generation SL features a front-end design that will serve as a template for future Mercedes passenger cars.

At the rear, too, the new-generation SL demonstrates its sporty nature even more clearly than before. This is achieved above all by a new, diffuser-look bumper which adds a motorsport touch. In conjunction with the equally new trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes this design element emphasises the width of the body, further symbolising the power just waiting to be unleashed by the roadster.

Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG - the demonstation of the power

Mercedes Benz S-class is sometimes told as a symbol of luxurious limousines. A combination of first class comfort, enough power under the elegant design has many fans. Where maximalist approach is wasting of money, in this class it‘s necessity. But it’s not because of its top position in Mercedes’ range, but it’s a member of family that doesn’t allow any compromise like its competition or demanding customers.

Mercedes-Benz S 65 AMG
The top of the class was very challenging for constructers of Mercedes AMG, a traditional producer of perfect vehicles. But they took the challenge responsibly and now they can proudly present the most powerful stock saloon in the world.

Mercedes-Benz S 65 AMG had its premiere at NAIAS 2006 motor show in Detroit (8th – 22nd of January 2006). The capital city of American automotive industry was a witness of demonstration of the German manufacturer for which is this market primary.

„Demonstration of the power“ – there’re no other words to name the possibility to manufacture a car that’s potential to abash producers of sport cars meanwhile it can please you with the highest comfort in the class. The highest credit of AMG vehicles is especially based on top aggregates.

Every 12-cylinder engine of S65 is handmade and installed in accordance to AMG’s philosophy of „one man-one engine. “ That means every engine is a work of one of few technicians leaving his signature on the engine.

The AMG engineers valuated their long tradition of presence in top racing competitions. A precious balanced crankshaft is made of ultra-tough materials; forged pistons are extremely resistant against pressure and heat. Every piston is also cooled by individual oil jet. Temperature of oil is maintained by a powerful oil cooler that is suitable also for extreme conditions. A cooler of pressured air is about 70% bigger than in S 600 and also turbochargers parts are bigger. They’re producing 1.5 bars of pressure. A reworked fuel system works with variable pressure in range of 3.6 – 5 bars. The V12 biturbo engine has and 450kw (612hp) between 4750-5100rpm. It has a breath-taking torque of 1000Nm available between 2000-4000rpm! But not only is the value of torque excellent. It’s very linear and a lot of torque is available practically from idling revs – 570Nm at 1000rpm and 750Nm at 15000rpm!

This big portion of power and torque needs to be safely transferred to the wheels do the engineers developed new clutch discs made of high quality metal and also its drive shaft is completely redesigned. Five-speed automatic transmission AMG SPEEDSHIFT allows you to shift directly under the steering-wheel (F1 style). The shift knob with traditional PRND modes is now situated on the steering-column as a lever. Its former place is now used as a controller of transmission and suspension styles – Sport, Comfort and Manual.

Mercedes-Benz S 65 AMG Dynamic potential of S65 AMG needs no compromise in case of braking system. Innovative double brake calipers combine advantages of flowing construction – lower heat stress and cultivated work with performance of massive calipers.

Composite brake discs has 390 and 365mm and their ventilated technology is beautiful behind 5-spoke 19“ AMG alloy wheels. Optimal contact with roads is provided thanks to tires with these dimensions: 255/40 ZR 19 in front and 275/40 ZR 19 at the back.

Aerodynamic modifications of bodykit and four exhaust tips reveal that you’re looking at the top model of the class, but individual character is noticeable in the interior. After door opening the AMG logo appears and covers the speedometer of 360kmph.

Sportsmen enjoy special gauges such as oil temperature, voltmeter and special gadget called Racetimer. This function process time spent on the circuit – fastest lap, average or top speed, remaining distance etc. Racetimer can bea easily accessed with buttons on the ergonomic sporting-wheel.

Tuning the Ford Mustang ECU

You've got a late model Ford Mustang, and you really want to fine tune its performance, but doing a physical engine modification is a bit beyond you. What do you do? You start by tuning the ECU - the electronic control unit - but to do this, you need either a chip or a tuner. How do you choose? Each type of programming device has merits; each has flaws. Here's a brief rundown of some of the major options:Ford Mustang Chip
Using a chip, such as the 4-Bank SCT Eliminator Chip, can be the most straightforward choice, because a chip plugs directly into the J3 port on the ECU that came with your car.

  • Retains your stock tune, but also holds settings for four custom tunes
  • Has a switch that allows for instant tune changing (say, if you're about to be in a drag race).
  • Can be fitted with a bezel so it will mesh with the look of your car.


Has to be removed from car and returned to manufacturer in order to add or edit installed tunes.


Ford Mustang Tuner
Unlike chips, these are handheld devices that overwrite, or "flash," the existing tuning settings in the computer of your Ford Mustang , much like flashing the firmware on an mp3 player or PC. These tuners are plugged into the OBD II port, which is found on the driver's side of the car, beneath the dash. They come in two basic types, "strategy" and "custom."

Custom Tuners Custom tuners like the Livewire, X-Calibrator 2, and X3 Powerflash allow a certified programmer to adjust as many as 3,000 different variables (depending, of course, on the specific model and year of your Mustang), each of which is created specifically for your car. Each tune will take into account any previous modifications you have done, so even highly modified used and new cars, even those that have been turbo-charged, can be custom tuned to your desired specifications.

Custom tuners include the ability to make end-user adjustments to things like gear ratio and Air/Fuel ratios, and can also be adjusted very precisely to accommodate specific weather or road conditions.

For your safety, most custom tuners retain your original settings (downloaded the first time you plug it in), for later reversion. They also lock to the VIN number on your car, so no one else can use them.

The downside of custom tuners is that they only hold three tuning profiles, and they have to be programmed by licensed SCT programmers. As well, if your Mustang is turbo- or super-charged, you need to find an SCT programmer with a dynamometer.

Strategy Tuners Strategy Tuners, on the other hand, contain a selection of popular stock tuning profiles, for Mustang drivers who need control, but not custom settings. They have fewer end-user settings that can be adjusted, but if you have experience with Mustang tuning you can still accommodate settings for your bolted-on modifications. They also allow some adjustment for weather, road, and fuel injection changes.

The cons of selecting this kind of tuner include the fact that you really need to know what you're doing before you make changes. However, they can be moved from car to car - so if you bought a tuner for one car, and have since purchased a new one, as long as the first car was flashed back to it's original tuning, you can re-tune your tuner for the new Mustang in your possession.

Sources like also offer hybrid tuners that merge some of the features of both custom and strategy tuners, and can be easier for beginners to use. Selecting a tuner, or choosing chips over a tuner, is only just one step toward a truly customized Mustang. Still, by starting with the computer, you can get a taste of customization both quickly and cleanly.

2008 Dodge Challenger exposed

2008 Dodge challenger
The original Dodge Challenger was a late introduction to the United States pony car market, and was first launched in the 1970 model year, as a direct competitor of the Mercury Cougar, and derived from the Plymouth Barracuda, though it was two inches longer and had completely different lines. Following the recent trend of retro-muscle cars being re-imagined, the 2008 Dodge Challenger, which will be released later this year, joins Ford's redesigned Mustang and Chevy's upcoming 2009 Camaro as a modern muscle car.

The concept form of the 2008 Challenger debuted at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show, and since then it's earned a fair share of buzz both online and in print media, garnering more than a few magazine covers along the way. Dodge is clearly hoping that this Challenger will give its performance image a boost.

Based on the same platform also being used for the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger Sedan, a modified version of the Chrysler Group's LX platform, the initial Challengers will be offered with rear-wheel drive, and only one choice of engine: a 6.1 liter Hemi V-8 that pushes out 425 horsepower in cars where it's already in sue, like the Charger, Magnum, and 300. While Dodge is clearly intending this to be a limited edition vehicle, critics worry that limiting production to one engine design may hurt sales, especially since the competing Ford Mustang and planned Chevy Camaros both offer V-6 options.

While there is only one engine, purchasers of the 2008 Dodge Challenger will have the option of either a six-speed manual transmission, or a five-speed automatic, which will combine with the 6.1 liter engine and comparatively low curb weight to allow acceleration from zero to 60 mph in under 5 seconds. As well, it's got fat tires supporting it's modern suspension system, antilock brakes and an aggressive anti-skid system.

Cosmetically, the 2008 Challenger stays true to the original car from the '70's, with a nose and tail taken directly from the older car, and sides that are reminiscent of the Barracuda from the same year. As well, this vehicle is a true hardtop - there are no central roof pillars - and Dodge doesn't seem to be planning a convertible version.

2008 Dodge challenger Inside the car, which comfortably seats four people, the black upholstery is a lean contrast to the bright orange exterior, though it is accented with silver, as well as narrow bands of orange on the seat backs. Principal interior designer Alan Barrington even cites the 1970 model as a source of inspiration, telling reporters last summer that, "…we wanted to capture the memory of that car, but expressed in more contemporary surfaces, materials and textures." What they wound up with is an instrument panel that sits high in the car and is intersected by a cluster of three circular gauges, and a fourth, larger gauge (really a computer display) that allow the driver to monitor overall speed, quarter-mile speed and time, and the top speed for each gear.

Those in the know say that the production vehicle of the 2008 Dodge Challenger looks exactly like the concept car, inside and out. Dodge's website has a link to information about the auction of the very first Challenger, but the rest of us will have to purchase one. The starting MSRP, at your local new car dealer, ranges from $37,320 to $40,095.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Corvette ZR1 Police Car

Imagine cruising in Michigan, going a smidge over the speed limit, when you see through your rear-view mirror a ZR1 with mars lights racing up behind you. If you're anything like us, you would probably need to change your Jockeys after such a sight.

Luckily for us, the Michigan State Police Corvette ZR1 Bob Lutz posted to the GM FastLane Blog earlier today is not exactly a reality. Lutz is the Vice-Chairman at General Motors. We called the Michigan State PD just to be safe, and they assured us that they are not taking possession of any $100,000 cars... no matter how fun it would be to drive.

The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 has a LS9 supercharged 6.2L V8 engine, getting 620 horsepower and 595 ft-lb of torque. With a race hardened six-speed manual transmission, gigantic brakes, suspension providing more than 1g cornering grip, and a dual-disc clutch, you would have a very difficult time outrunning the 5-0. 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds is nothing to take lightly.

"I think Lutz was just having fun," the police spokesman said.

Although it would be cool to see helicopter video of one of these ZR1 chasing down drug runners and human traffickers coming into Michigan after taking a shipment at the Port of Indiana, for now that type of thing will just have to play out on the big screen.

BRABUS presents PowerXtra D6 BLUE Kit

When the aftermarket applies its go-faster magic to Mercedes products, it usually focuses on the already-hot AMG versions. BRABUS has set its sights a bit greener with its just-introduced Power Xtra D6 BLUE kit developed specifically for the new E300 BLUETEC. The kit boosts the diesel's output by 47 horses.

The power gain is accomplished by means of an auxiliary engine management system that's designed to work in harmony with the BLUETEC's special catalysts and exhaust filters. The result is 258 horsepower and a stunning 450 ft-lb of torque from the 3.0 liter diesel V6. BRABUS claims a 6.8-second 0-62 mph sprint and a limited top speed of 155. The power gain is accomplished with no loss of fuel economy, as well. A modified suspension, brakes, wheels, body kit and stainless exhaust are also available from BRABUS for the E300, but are not part of the performance package.

BRABUS has been tuning Mercedes' diesels since 2001, when the E V8 became one of the first clean-burning diesel performance sedans. The D6 BLUE kit continues that tradition by meeting EURO V emissions standards set to go into effect in 2011.

Press Release

BRABUS PowerXtra D6 BLUE Power Kit for the E 300 BLUETEC

A powerful engine and exemplary environmental friendliness are not mutually exclusive: The motor engineers of BRABUS have developed the BRABUS PowerXtra D6 BLUE performance kit for the new Mercedes E 300 BLUETEC. It boosts power output of the cleanest diesel car on the market by 47 hp / 35 kW. The new BRABUS tuning technology makes BRABUS the first automobile tuner to meet ultra-stringent EURO V exhaust limits which won’t go into effect until 2011. The Mercedes E 300 BLUETEC with BRABUS PowerXtra D6 BLUE tuning stayed below permissible exhaust limits of EURO V by up to 65 percent.

Powerful and clean tuning for diesel engines is a long BRABUS tradition. The BRABUS E V8 Diesel from 2001 was the first diesel car ever to be equipped with a particulate filter. It met today’s EURO IV emission limits even long before they became law.

Using state-of-the-art test-bench technology in the company-own R&D center the BRABUS development team has developed a special auxiliary module for the electronic engine management system of the E 300 BLUETEC. BRABUS mapping is specifically calibrated to the environmentally friendly BLUETEC concept that features an oxidation catalyst, particulate filter and BLUETEC SCR catalyst.

After the conversion operation, which any authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer can perform, the engine produces 258 hp (255 hp SAE net) / 190 kW at 3,700 rpm. The engine’s torque grows by a healthy amount as well: Between 1,600 and 2,400 rpm the torque curve reaches a new high of 610 Nm (450 lb-ft), up from standard 540 Nm (398 lb-ft). Thus powered the BRABUS-tuned car sprints from rest to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 6.8 seconds and reaches an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph).

In everyday driving the 3-liter V6 engine with BRABUS D6 BLUE kit harmonizes perfectly with the seven-speed automatic gearbox. The engine delivers excellent performance with even further improved pulling power from low engine speeds, which benefits overall fuel economy. Despite the improved performance fuel consumption remains on the low level of the production car.

The BRABUS PowerXtra D6 BLUE power kit for the E 300 BLUETEC is available for 1,790 Euros MSRP. Like all BRABUS components the kit is backed by the one-of-a-kind BRABUS Tuning Warranty® of three years, up to 100,000 kilometers or 62,000 miles (see BRABUS warranty conditions as of November 2006). BRABUS also offers a power kit for the E320 BLUETEC model available in the USA and Canada.

An efficient complement to the BRABUS D6 BLUE power kit is the BRABUS sport exhaust system with four polished tailpipes. The fully stainless-steel exhaust system lends the common-rail diesel engine a throatier exhaust note and optimizes power yield.

To add sporty emphasis to the elegant lines of the W 211-series E-Class the BRABUS designers have developed a sporty aerodynamic-enhancement kit, manufactured from Pur-R-Rim in OEM quality.

BRABUS one-piece and multi-piece light-alloy wheels for the E 300 BLUETEC are available in four different designs and in sizes ranging from 8.5Jx17 to 10.5Jx20. The optimal tires in any size come from technology partners Pirelli and YOKOHAMA, up to the largest possible tire sizes for the E-Class, size 245/30 ZR 20 in front and 295/25 ZR 20 on the rear axle.

Also available for the E-Class sedan are custom-tailored BRABUS suspension solutions such as lowering modules, sporty yet comfortable complete suspensions, a special control module for the optional air suspension, and sport stabilizers that reduce body roll during cornering.

BRABUS high-performance brake systems for the Mercedes E-Class are available in three different versions.

Another BRABUS specialty is the creation of luxurious customized interiors. The range of products includes stainless-steel scuff plates with illuminated BRABUS logo, various types of ergonomically shaped sport steering wheels, and even an exclusive BRABUS interior crafted from a combination of especially soft yet durable BRABUS Mastik leather and Alcantara.

BMW X5 by Hamann

After a long series of mods on several BMW models, HAMANN has now created a series of pretty special X5 models, clad with a range of 20, 22 and 23-inch wheels, smoked to perfection, HAMANN style.

Pimping this car stylistically hasn’t been the only thing on HAMMAN’s minds though. Touches have gone beyond the ordinary, with changes visible from flat-bottomed, velvet-covered (aka alcantara) steering wheel, foot pedals clearly meant for performance purposes and extensive I.C.E. options.

This being a HAMANN, as opposed to a Versace conversion, performance has to match the talk. And in this regard the four engine plants fitted in the standard car have received treatment that goes a little beyond what Munich intended. At the forefront is the 4.8i V8, which, under normal circumstances, makes “only“ 265kW/ 355 bhp. HAMANN then gives it 278kW/ 373 bhp. It may not look like much on paper, but the 4.8i is already a quick one off the mark anyway. Next is the 3.0sd, upped from 210kW/ 286 bhp to 235kW/ 320 bhp and a stonking 660Nm of torque. Should be a crowd puller of note.

Down another notch is the 3.0d, turbo diesel as well, pulling off 195kW/ 265 bhp and 600Nm. We suspect the next upgrade on the production 3.0d will bear pretty close to this power figure, although torque may be lower. Lastly, but not least at all, is the petrol/gasoline 3.0si, now pushing 210kW and 335Nm.

While passengers enjoy the I.C.E. provided, driver can roll down his window and listen to deep notes from the rear, courtesy of sports headers, sports metal catalytic converters (for the petrol/ gasoline engines) and a silencer.

So what does HAMANN call all this? Simply, Flash. Not just because it’s all flashy, but also because that’s about the same sensation you will feel as it, well, as it literally flashes by.

Press Release

New BMW X5 with wide body modifications from HAMANN
Wide body-aerodynamic parts “Flash” for brawny appearance
Increase in performance for 3.0si, 3.0d, 3.0sd and 4.8i;
Agile road handling through sport springs; sport brake system in front and rear
Four wheel designs available in three sizes

One of the most successful cars of its class is the BMW X5. BMW only recently introduced its latest successor and HAMANN has already put together a complete program for the new X5. Hardly any area has been left untouched. Whether it’s suspension, wheels, performance, interior or aerodynamics, the Laupheim German specialists provide clear individualisation launching far above the norm. Wide-body-parts arrange an especially brawny appearace, making the X5 become the HAMANN “Flash”.

Quite flashily-dressed

New aerodynamic components are mandatory hence HAMANN begins with a new, wider front spoiler that lends the SAV X5 a significant powerful feature. In back HAMANN added a rear apron seizing the design of the front spoiler to match. Between front and rear, HAMANN adds fender extensions, which complete the wide body “Flash” looks. A further sporty accent shines through with the HAMANN roof spoiler, providing a stabilizing effect. It marks the icing on the cake of this extremely impressing “Flash”.

With such a large vehicle, every miniscule of power counts. For this reason, HAMANN reprogrammed the series-produced Motronic. The X5 3.0si received subsequently a power boost to about 14 bhp/10kW and 25 Nm more torque. The X5 3.0d (stock power: 235 bhp/173 kW) is raised by the tuners to 265 bhp/ 195 kW and 600 Nm, the X5 3.0sd (stock power: 286 bhp/210 kW) to 320 bhp / 235 kW and 660 Nm. The 8-cylinder model 4.8i jumps by 18 bhp/ 13 kW for more power and torque increase as well.

Not an easy choice!

Pondering over wheel choices will require the majority of customers´ time. Here are four designs of choice for the “Flash” including PG3, Anniversary I and II as well as Edition Race.
The noble tuners from Laupheim present a multi-pieced wheel PG3 available in silver finish with high-polished flange. It´s characterized through the sporty five-spoke design.
The one-pieced wheel Anniversary I portrays a light footing with its´ multi-spoke design. HAMANN supplies these in silver or black matt finish with INOX stainless steel lip flange. The multi-pieced light alloy wheel Anniversary II exhibits a multi-spoke design as well projecting a feeling of pure motor sports. The silver rims with high-polished flange reflects both nobility and luxury simultaneously.
The appearance of the three-piece, ultra light forged wheels Edition Race in crossing spoke design and black wheel spider is identified through its´ nine main spokes double-attached, branching and continually double-crossing towards the outside rim. Its´ stirring design becomes particularly noticeable through Titan studs. The high-polished flange is icing on the cake to complete this luxurious look.

PG3 and Anniversary I are available through HAMANN for the X5 in 20 and 22-inch, Anniversary II in 22-inch and the wheel Edition Race comes in an impressive 23-inch. Naturally HAMANN offers the wheels in form of complete wheel sets.

Typical wheel / tire combinations:
Edition Race: FA/RA 10,5 J x 23 315/25R23 102Y XL
PG3: FA /RA 9,5 J x 22 295/30 ZR 22
PG3: FA/RA 9,5 J x 20 295/40 ZR 20
Anniversary II: FA/RA 10,5 J x 22 295/30 ZR 22
Anniversary I: FA/RA 10,5 J x 22 295/30 ZR 22
Anniversary I: FA/RA 10,5 J x 20 295/40 ZR 20
Anniversary I: FA/RA 10,5 J x 20 FA 275/40 ZR20 / RA 315/35 ZR 20

By using a set of progressive suspension springs, HAMANN reduces the center of gravity for the X5. For those vehicles that have level regulation, it is lowered to about 40 mm in front, and for vehicles without level regulation or air suspension to about 40 mm in front and about 30 mm in back. Through this, the X5 receives a bit of agility back which, in contrast to its´ predecessor model, had suffered somewhat due to its bigger size.

The specifically developed HAMANN brake system for the front axle with slotted and ventilated brake discs sized 405x34 millimetres, aluminium disc chamber, sports brake linings and steelflex brake pipes. The six-piston fixed calliper disc brakes in silver complete the system and apply a powerful grip. At the rear axle an four-piston brake system with slotted and ventilated brake discs sized 345x28mm plus the same hardware as above support the system working at the front.

The growling thunder matching the name “Flash” is generated by a HAMANN-exhaust system. It consists of sports headers (gas engine), sports metal catalytic converters (gas engine) and a sports rear silencer. Last mentioned can be ordered either as 2-pipe (oval, 145mm in diameter) or as 4-pipe-variant (round, 76 mm diameter) made from stainless steel.

Interior modifications per request

Large vehicles such as the BMW X5 are tailor-made for travel. Due to this, HAMANN also modified the interior. Travellers should have the drive be as comfortable as possible and additionally should provide a feast for the eyes. HAMANN´s accessories such as an exclusive foot mat flooring in black, a foot pedal of aluminium or even an aluminium foot rest enhance the cockpit of the X5. Naturally HAMANN also modifies each BMW X5 for personalized customer requests. For example, extravagant leather decor is available in a variety of colours or an elaborate multimedia alterations including DVD, TV and Play station.

Alfa Romeo Spider by Novitec

Novitec has added some finishing touches to the new Alfa Romeo Spider, just in time for the cabrio season. The open two-seater was voted Cabrio of the Year 2006 after its launch at the Geneva Motor Show that year.

Novitec has designed a new front bumper and rear diffuser to underline the aerodynamics and to make it stand out from the factory spec Spiders. Novitec also bolted on a new stainless steel rear silencer accentuating the sound, while the four tailpipes (115x85 mm ovals) add some aggressiveness to the back end.

Novitec also supplies some new footwear for the Alfa Spider, 20 inch N9 multi-piece rims wrapped in Pirelli 255/30R20 rubber while the suspension, adjustable in height from 35 mm to 75 mm and ride stiffness, ensures optimum grip.

BMW 320d Cabrio and 125i to Debut at Geneva

Today, BMW UK spilled the beans on their Geneva world debuts, the ones they want us know about in advance. No big surprises yet, BMW will show the new BMW 320d Convertible and 125i Coupé to an eager audience at the Geneva Motor Show starting March 4 alongside an EfficientDynamics Concept car.

The BMW 320d Convertible uses a 2.0 liter engine, also found in the other 320d models, producing 177 hp and 350 Nm of torque. The cabrio will accelerate from stand-still to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 8.6 seconds, has a top speed of 139 mph (224 km/h) and manages a very respectable 53.3 mpg. The 320d Cabrio will go on sale in March 2008 priced at GBP 33,110 in the UK (approximately 44,500 Euro) while the M Sport model is priced slightly higher at GBP 35,735 (48,00 Euro).

The BMW 125i is the fourth model in the new BMW 1 Series line-up, following the 135i M Sport, 120d and 123d. The BMW 125i is equipped with a 218 hp 3.0 liter engine which propels the small coupe to 62 mph in just 6.4 seconds only to stop accelerating at 152 mph (245 km/h). The two-door coupe also features BMW's EfficientDynamics ensuring a 35.8 mpg. The 125i goes on sale in March and also comes in two guises, the 125i Coupe SE priced in the UK at GBP 23,195 (31,200 Euro) and the M Sport with 18-inch alloy wheels, sport seats and body kit priced at GBP 25,050 (33,700 Euro).

As always we expect to see a surprise concept from BMW at the major European shows, but we will have to wait and see what it will be. Stay tuned for our Geneva coverage this March.

Press Release

The new BMW 320d Convertible and BMW 125i Coupé

  • New Convertible and Coupé models make world debut alongside EfficientDynamics concept car and M3 Convertible at Geneva Motorshow.
  • New BMW X6 makes European debut at Geneva Motorshow.
  • BMW 1 Series, 3 Series and X3 receive specification upgrades.

BMW UK has announced additions to the 3 Series Convertible and 1 Series Coupé ranges. The new BMW 320d Convertible and 125i Coupé will receive their world debuts at the Geneva Motorshow in March alongside an EfficientDynamics concept car and a raft of other new models.

Highlight of the BMW stand at the Geneva Motorshow will be a concept car showcasing the outlook and future direction of BMW’s innovative EfficientDynamics programme. It will appear alongside the worldwide debut for the forthcoming BMW M3 Convertible with M Double Clutch Transmission. The new BMW X6 and 1 Series Convertible also make their European debuts.

The new BMW 320d Convertible

Following the announcement of the new BMW M3 Convertible at one extreme of the open-top car spectrum, BMW introduces the most frugal Convertible in the 3 Series range, the 320d. Available in both SE and M Sport guises, the new 320d uses the same 1,995 cc engine from other 320d models in the 3 Series range to offer 177hp and 350Nm of torque.

This single-turbocharged two-litre diesel engine propels the 320d Convertible from zero to 62mph in 8.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 139mph. EfficientDynamics plays a part in the car’s performance with stop-start technology on manual cars, a second-generation common-rail injection engine, and a Diesel Particulate Filter fitted as standard. These technologies ensure that the new 320d Convertible is BMW’s most frugal open-topped 3 Series, delivering an impressive 53.3mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of just 140g/km.

The 320d SE Convertible is priced at £33,110 OTR with the M Sport model priced at £35,735 OTR. Both models go on sale in March 2008.

The new BMW 125i Coupé

The BMW 1 Series Coupé range has been strengthened with the addition of a fourth derivative. The six-cylinder 125i joins the twin-turbo 135i M Sport, the four-cylinder 120d, and the 123d that features the world’s most powerful four-cylinder diesel engine in a production car.

Generating 218hp from its 2,996 cc engine, the new 125i Coupé accelerates from zero to 62mph in 6.4 seconds and achieves a top speed of 152mph. EfficientDynamics ensures that this level of performance doesn’t compromise the car’s consumption and emissions with the two-door Coupé delivering 35.8mpg on the combined cycle and emitting 190g/km of CO2.

The new 125i Coupé SE costs £23,195 OTR while the M Sport derivative, with its 18-inch alloy wheels, sport seats and body styling, costs £25,050 OTR. The new BMW 125i Coupé goes on sale in March 2008.

Other Geneva Motorshow introductions

The new BMW M3 Convertible

The new BMW M3 Convertible is the fourth generation of BMW’s open-topped M3 and the first M car to feature a Retractable Hard-Top. It is also the first car to feature BMW’s new seven-speed M Double Clutch Transmission (M DCT) as an option. Changing gear using either paddles on the steering wheel or the gear lever, the new M DCT gearbox has the next gear pre-selected in readiness and changes gear in just a few milliseconds. The M DCT-equipped car also outperforms the manual gearbox car in terms of outright performance, economy and emissions.

The new M3 Convertible’s engine develops 420hp at 8,300rpm and 400Nm of torque at 3,900rpm from its 3,999cc V8-power unit. When equipped with its standard six-speed manual gearbox, this engine powers the car from zero to 62mph in 5.3 seconds and on to an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph. However, even with these supercar levels of performance, BMW’s EfficientDynamics programme ensures that economy is not compromised with the car delivering 21.9mpg on the combined cycle.

The new BMW X6

The new BMW X6 Sports Activity Coupé is the latest in BMW’s X family of Sports Activity models. It’s also the first time that BMW has combined the safety and convenience of the command driving position with the on-road performance of a sports car, all wrapped in a coupé body style.

In another BMW first, the entire model range is turbocharged with the X6 offering a quartet of forced induction power plants. The range flagship is an all-new twin-turbocharged V8, the X6 xDrive50i, producing 408hp. The configuration of the new V8 engine is unique too. It is the first engine in the world to locate twin-turbochargers and a catalytic converter within the vee of the engine.

The V8-engined car is joined by the 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged six-cylinder petrol-engined X6 xDrive35i producing 306hp.

The X6 will also offer two turbocharged diesel-powered derivatives. The BMW X6 xDrive30d is powered by a single-turbocharged six-cylinder diesel engine featuring third-generation common-rail fuel injection and producing 235hp. The BMW X6 xDrive35d uses an award-winning twin-turbocharged six-cylinder diesel engine to produce 286hp.

BMW specification enhancements

From March, all BMW 1 Series, 3 Series and X3 models receive floor mats and front seat ISOFIX child seat fixings as standard.

Purchasers of BMW 3 Series Saloon and Touring models now also benefit from navigation and visibility value-added packages. Media Package – Business offers customers Business navigation (complete with map and arrow view), Bluetooth mobile telephone connectivity and BMW’s ConnectedDrive Assist and Online for a package price of £1,645 (£2,115 on ES). This represents a significant saving of up to £635 compared to the individual option pricing.

Media Package – Professional upgrades Business navigation with Professional navigation (complete with its widescreen format and perspective map view), and adds Voice Control, all for a package price of £1,935 (£2,405 on ES), saving up to £745.

BMW 3 Series Saloon and Touring customers can also specify the Visibility Package. Ideal for motoring in the dark winter months, the package contains Adaptive Xenon headlights, Headlight washers, Rain sensor with automatic headlight activation and BMW’s innovative High-beam assistant. Priced from £605, this package saves the customer up to £270 compared to ordering the individual options.

Buyers of twin-turbo BMW 123d and 135i models can opt for an automatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddles for £1,505.

Finally, prospective owners of 1 Series cars now have a significantly wider colour choice. Jet Black, Crimson Red, Monaco Blue metallic, Bluewater metallic, and Sparkling Graphite metallic are being introduced on Convertible models at its launch. Bluewater metallic will also be available on 1 Series Coupé, 3 and 5-door Hatch models, with Tahiti Green metallic also available on the Hatch.

Monster Motorbike For Motor Show

The Australian monster will be on show at the Melbourne Motor Show which runs from 29 February. What’s the Australian monster, you might ask? Is it a mutant kangaroo? No. Is it perhaps a pet Tazmanian devil? Wrong again. It’s a 13 ton/ 28 660 pound two-wheeler devised by Ray Baumann, a man who used to make a living out of trying to stop his own living. He was a stunt driver who has also driven trains, among other lifestyle activities.

Powered by a Detroit Diesel truck engine, mated to a 6-speed Allison automatic, this thing stands almost 9 metres/ 29.5ft long and more than 3 metres/ 9.8ft high. In fact, as seen in these pics, a full grown man doesn’t even stand up to one of the Monster Motorbike’s wheels. Caterpillar provided these wheels straight from their front-end loader, a beast on its own, used to terrorizing the earth in all manner of sorts.

"We did stunt driving for quite a few years, broke a few records and broke my back a few times, so this is a way of taking a bit more care," says Baumann.
"Now we crush things, which is definitely less risky than jumping them - we still do jump things, but not at the Melbourne Motor Show."
The thrill it appears, comes from rolling over smaller objects like school buses or trucks like a Ford’s F 150 for instance.

Ford developing turbocharged F-150

Dodge started a trend with the mighty (flawed) V10-powered Ram. Ford is now rumoured to be reenacting that scene with a turbocharged F150. says the Raptor, as it is codenamed, will be longer than the standard vehicle. Lower suspension, wider track, uprated brakes, Fox Racing-developed shocks, are just some of the “improvements” expected. Standard tyre size will range between 30 and 35 inches, thus stupefying almost anything else next to it.

A V8 turbo is not out of the question, something in excess of 500 bhp/ 373kW, and top speeds not normally associated with an event of this magnitude. Looks will be vastly different from the pictures you see of the standard vehicle.

We are by no means averse to such a development; as car nuts we get sweaty palms over such news. Yet we cannot help but ask ourselves, where on earth would this Raptor be driving at high speeds? California maybe. Autobahn? Probably not. Definitely not in mainstream Australia. These aren’t earth-shattering questions, but come from sheer curiosity.

- Note: an early version of this story reported that the vehicle might come to 12m in length. What were we smoking? Please disregard this gross editing error. These green gremlins are everywhere!

Fisker Karma Revealed in Detroit

Karma: a term describing that of cause and effect. And so it is appropriate that Fisker Automotive's first production car is so named. Dubbed as a vehicle allowing consumers the good practise of automotive karma, this environmentally-friendly plug-in hybrid is a new breed, bringing the extreme comfort and style of the luxury automobile category to an eco-friendlier one.

Cutting-edge technology features at the new Karma's heart. Developed exclusively for Fisker Automotive by Quantum Technologies, Q-DRIVE provides a small petrol engine in turning a generator for power to its lithium-ion battery pack. The technology will be used to power future derivatives under the Fisker brand. Regenerative braking will be employed to regain power otherwise lost from braking, while an optional solar roof will charge the battery and maintain partly self-contained climate control when parked.

Offering emissions-free driving of up to 50 miles per charge, Fisker are keen to point out that with more than 60% of Americans and Europeans driving less than 50 miles on their daily commutes, household fuel dependency could drop with a Karma on the drive. "If this 60% of commuters would drive a plug-in hybrid like the Fisker Karma, we could see the fastest possible reduction both in oil consumption and emissions - all without sacrificing their daily driving habits."

A sleek, elongated design, the result of an all-new chassis built specifically for the development of the new powertrain, places the battery pack in the centre of the vehicle - improving weight distribution and dynamics. Proportional in height to Porsche's 911 and in length to the Mercedes CLS, the Fisker Karma makes extensive use of lightweight aluminium for its body panels and structure, producing impressive performance statistics - sprinting to sixty in just six seconds and continuing 'beyond' 125 mph.

Luxury exudes from the Karma's 'first class' four-seater cabin, with modern sophistication and a spacious luggage capacity the overriding features. The Karma's electronic aides include a Navigation system in the front with DVD player and integrated seat back displays in the rear. Two modes of driving are selectable: "Stealth Mode" and "Sport Mode". The former tweaks the car's setup for quiet economy mode and the latter, a mode to access the full extent of the car's power.

The design is final and will be put to market in the form seen next week at Detroit, with the first 99 examples to be numbered and signed by Henrik Fisker - produced in the colour and trim of the show vehicle. The Fisker Karma will hit Detroit January 14th, with first deliveries starting the last quarter of 2009.