Luxury Cars

"The difference between men and little boys is the price of their toys."

Fast Cars

"Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car."- E.B. White

Car Technology

"And I, I took the road less traveled by. I was using a GPS system."- Robert Brault

Green Cars

"Environmentally friendly cars will soon cease to be an option ... they will become a necessity."- Fujio Cho

Safe Cars

"Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves." - Albert Einstein

Monday, December 22, 2008

Top cars to consider: Audi 07, A3 and A8

If you are thinking about getting a new car, there is one company that is stepping up its game in 2009, and that is Audi. In fact, there are four new Audi's that have actually earned a spot on the Consumer Guide Automotive List. This is a list that informs shoppers which cars they should consider getting.

Three of these cars earned a “recommended” status for the second straight year. These three cars are the Audi 07, A3, and A8. However, this year the “best buy” among sports performance cars was the Audi A5 coupe. All of these cars have proven not only to be affordable, but well worth your hard earned money. Having a car listed on this consumer buying guide is a great thing, but having four cars on it is just flat out amazing.

So what were these cars graded on? For the most part, these four cars where graded on just about everything you can think of, from what cars had the best prices to what kinds of features the cars had. Of course, the price ranges are based on what kinds of options the cars offer, and let's just say that the Audi has a lot to offer you! These cars are also graded on performance testing and, of course, safety.

There are a ton of great luxury vehicles out there, but it's hard to beat out good old fashion German engineering. Audi is a company that has recorded over 12 years of consecutive profit growth. This is something that can only be done when you offer award winning cars like the Audi A5, among others!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Volkswagen - third automaker in the world

Volkswagen's focus on compact, smart cars have paid off. Recent statistics reveal that Volkswagen is now the third largest automaker in the world. This is based on the number of cars manufactured per company. Volkswagen is constantly trailing Ford over the years in terms of volume, but recent increase on the number of cars manufactured last year has placed them a notch higher compared to Ford. The first two largest automakers are still Toyota and General Motors in particular order.

Volkswagen has manufactured 3.31 cars in the first half this year. This figure is 7.2 percent higher compared last year. Ford on the other hand has manufactured 3.22 million cars in the same time frame.

The company was able to overcome financial troubles compared to their American competitor. Volkswagen's innovative designs coupled with reasonable pricing and fuel efficiency were pointed as the reason of their improved sales. Although sales figure is not an indicator, the volume of cars produced is an indicator that sales is actually there. Companies would never have to manufacture cars if they know they will never improve in the industry. Ford on the other hand have been slowed down by recession. It has even come to a point that Ford, along with the big three have asked the US government for financial help. This might be a factor which will continuously slow down production of Ford cars. Along with the other US based manufacturers, they have to take drastic measures or else they will never survive.

The 5th to 10th largest automakers in the world are as follows: Honda, Peugeot, Nissan, Fiat, Renault and Hyundai.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gift ideas: 2008 Dodge Viper

If you’re going out shopping for a new sports car this year and you have $85,000 in your pocket, get the 2008 Dodge Viper. At first glance it looks like a small toy car but under the hood and when you step the gas pedal, the experience will always be exhilarating.

The power of Dodge Viper is based on the fact it has 600 horsepower engine. Even the NASCAR restricted cars don’t even come close to the Dodge Viper’s power (only 470 horsepower). Under the hood features 8.4 liter V-10 engine which means this could be a fuel guzzler without any effort. But then again, it’s not really geared towards those who wanted to be fuel efficient. Unfortunately, a single digit mileage will automatically prohibit you from using it in California (at least on public road).

For the price you pay, the 2008 Dodge Viper will not only give you power but sleek corner control. You can easily manage those u-turns without any challenges at all since it uses one of the world’s most grip efficient tires – the Michelin Pilot Sport 2. The positioning of the tires is also geared towards speed but with grip that will still ensure your safety.

If there’s one thing that will make you hesitate to spend your $85,000, it’s the dashboard. The speedometer is too small to be seen from the driver’s perspective. Checking your speed when you’re flying 100mph is very dangerous as you might need binoculars to know your speed. It will also be a problem to control your speed as this beast will urge you to press the gas even more. But if you can afford the car, you can afford the speeding tickets every now and then

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Automakers sumo: Japan vs. USA

While the big three automakers of US (GM, Ford and Chrysler) are actively seeking out government assistance through billion dollar bail-outs, other automakers notably, the Japanese automakers have relatively less problems and would even cruise through the recession without any major damage. The sales performance of Japanese automakers have assured them of a steady future in this industry. Although they may not increase when the full swing of recession strikes, they will not go down either.

The big three on the other hand, are crossing their fingers for a bail-out or else they may not survive. GM executives even claim that they need $4 billion now or else they might completely shut down.

For observers, the reason why Japanese manufacturers were able to succeed where the big three didn't was because Japanese automakers were looking more into the future. Toyota, Honda and Nissan has spent considerable amount of money in R&D to come up with smart cars and hybrid cars that promotes efficiency while providing better gas mileage.The big three on the other hand, was apparently stuck in their muscle cars.

The American automakers don't really believe that's the source of the problem. They pointed out the "legacy payments" which are the retirement benefits and other support services these companies have to give to their retired workers.

But it all boils down to this: no sales means no earnings. The American automakers weren't able to sell as much cars as they expect compared their competitors and because of that, they are in a lot of trouble today.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

2010 Ford Mustang defies harsh economy

This year is crucial for Ford as a company. They are aiming for a bail-out that has continuously received mixed reactions from US government and the people. Without the bail-out, Ford might not be able to function well or even survive the harsh economy.

But even with such news, Ford did not hesitate to roll out their latest Mustang. The 2010 Ford Mustang was revealed and it’s a beauty.

The exterior of the new Ford Mustang is almost the same to the 2005 but with additional curves in the front and the sides. Aside from additional curves in the back, the size was increased a little bit. The result is a more retro look rather than going for a more progressive trend set by the 2005 model.

The interiors on the other hand have been changed significantly. No longer will new owners have to deal with the cheap plastic feel of the 2005. The new Mustang now has sleeker interiors and better space for the driver especially additional space for the lever and the right knee.

Although the engine has changed a bit (4.6L V8), the torque was significantly improved which could slightly increase its speed since the weight of the 2010 Mustang is still the same. The 2010 Ford Mustang promises to be both a beast and a beauty as it has retained its beauty while pushed for more performance.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The legend is real: Nissan GT-R

There has been a lot of talking regarding the launch control feature of Nissan GT-R. This feature in the GT-R will help the drivers reach 60mph in 3.9 seconds which is a good option for drivers who wanted to control or even slow down a bit. But speed hog, the launch control is a bitter sweet additional feature. Using the launch control in Nissan GT-R will potentially void your warranty in case something happens in your car. Specifically, the transmission could easily break down if the launch control is constantly used. This is a little bit unfortunate for those who wanted to be really fast. It’s like a constant bait to destroy your transmission – use it and risk voiding your warranty.

But if you’re problem is just the speed, then don’t worry. Nissan GT-R could still reach the coveted 60mph in just 3.9 without the launch control. That means you just have to floor your Nissan GT-R and you can reach 60mph in 3.9 seconds. That also means you can just discard the launch control although this feature could ease the driver’s need to control while increasing speed considerably.

There are those, however, that opted to continue with their launch control feature while being able to enjoy the warranty. If you have been working with the launch control for sometime, you are now able to properly use this feature. With the right timing, you should be able to use the launch control without any problem. But remember, you can achieve the same result if you just floor the gas pedal.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Koenigsegg rolls out with speed and green

Koenigsegg has always been associated with very powerful and equally expensive sport cars. The recent release, the Koenigsegg CCXR boasts of an impressive 4.8 liter, V8 engine. The engine has been engineered to bring out 1004 horse power which will surely blow you away in no time. Floor the gas pedal and in less than three seconds you’ll already be running 60mps (2.9 seconds to be exact). These numbers could only be compared to a highly popular also expensive car, Bugatti Veyron. In fact, the data is even better. Koenigsegg could have a maximum speed of 254 mph while the Veyron could only reach 253mph. Yes, it’s just a mere mile but this will mean that the CCXR could beat Veyron.

But with all these features, the CCXR wants to go out with a message: you don’t have to be a polluter just to experience the thrill of speed. The CCXR’s engine could be used with a mix of ethanol and gasoline. It’s an environment move which is also great for the driver as this will greatly reduce emissions. No one will even smell your smoke when you pass them by at 250mph.

The Koenigsegg hopes to appeal to those who are not only speed crazy but also a nature lover. As we have already said, this is a highly expensive car and will cost no less than £1.5 million (around $2.25 Million). At least its earth-friendly.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lotus Evora Unveiled in US

Lotus Evora was recently unveiled for the first time in US soil during the LA Auto Show. The mid-sized version of Evora was shown to the public with a little less flare compared to the Evora that was in Europe in one of the auto shows. But that doesn't mean it's a lesser because it could stand on its own without lights in the side markers.

The Evora is a mid-sized sports car with an impressive 30mpg but has an engine that could have as much as 276 horse power. 60mph could be achieved in 5 seconds flat with a top speed of 160 while running with 3.5L V6 from Toyota.

But if the numbers don't appeal to you, maybe the insides will do. The sports car is roomy enough for two passengers in front but also has a room at the back for two kids. The interior is all leather and the dashboard has a powerful GPS. Entertainment could never be better which features multi-touch interface - because you just can't get off your hands on the screen. The best part is that you'll never have to be awkward in getting into this car as it doesn't have any fancy doors that will only make you uncomfortable.

The Evora is expected to be available in the US market from November to December. A convertible is also set to be sold later. Automatic shifting features will be available second quarter next year. So if you're looking for a sports car this Christmas, give everyone in your family the thrill of the ride with Lotus Evora.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Nissan 2009 370Z Unveiled in LA Auto Show

Nissan has unveiled their latest sports car during the LA Auto Show. The Nissan 2009 370Z was presented to the public and has generated a buzz because of the previous reception of the 350Z. Although the previous version did had a lot to be proud of, owners have been expressing concerns over the 350Z as there are obvious things that could be improved in the Nissan sports car.

Luckily, Nissan has heard the complaints of its customers and willfully obliged. The 370Z is basically an upgraded version of 350Z with some features were made based on the reviews of the previews 350Z. Clearly, Nissan is aiming for customer satisfaction by establishing features from customer suggestions. But these suggestions are actually feasible, the engineers of Nissan just have to work a little bit harder to achieve them.

The key feature of the 2009 370Z is the reduction of weight. More than 100 pounds were taken from the sports car. The 370Z is now at 3,232 lbs - relatively lighter when compared to its predecessor which was at 3,350 lbs. The weight is based on the manual shifter version of 370Z.

Aside from its weight, the chassis was improved significantly. Although they opted to for the traditional look of a sports car, the chassis were improved in strength. which will naturally improve the performance of the car. The expected base price for the latest Toyota sports car is within the $30,000 range. The Nissan 2009 370Z will be available early next year.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Can the electric car save General Motors?

General Motors is not the only automotive company having problems at the moment but for one reason or another it is the one that has dominated the news despite the fact that all of the Detroit based automobile manufacturing companies are having serious problems when it comes to their bottom line. However, there is something in the works that might be able to save GM and similar companies that decide to do the same thing and it is the electric car.

GM has had many meetings regarding the creation of electric automobiles and at the current moment in time it does appear as though the electric car is going to become real before the start of the next decade in 2011. This is very interesting indeed because not only is the GM electric car going to be completely devoid of anything in terms of a traditional gasoline powered engine, but the small conventional engine that works as a backup in case the electrical engine were to fail has been fine-tuned so that it has an overall fuel efficiency that is on par with the scooters that people have been purchasing as replacements for their cars.

Considering the technological advancement required for such a thing, that is a statistic that is sure to make people sit up and take notice. At the moment we only have GM's word to go on as to the veracity of that statement but the car will be released into the market soon enough and when that does happen everyone will know whether they were exaggerating, bloviating or telling the truth.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Price of gas plummets

One trend that appears to be continuing strongly at the current moment in time is the falling price of oil. After peaking around the $150 per barrel mark this year, the price of a barrel of oil has come down around 65%.

This to some people is a validation of the theory that speculation was the only real thing driving the price of oil whereas to other people it is just an indication that the people controlling the world's oil supplies know exactly when to press the issue and when exactly to back off. While the latter is a bit of a conspiracy theory, the fact that oil increases seem to coincide with maximum complacency in the market combined with the fact that it seems to decrease in price coincidentally with the maximum desire for change in the marketplace has made many people into proverbial UFO believers on this particular issue.

Whatever the reason for this happens to be however, the truth of the matter at this point is that the likeliest future pathway is that nothing is going to happen as a result of this sudden sharp decrease in the price of oil.

People will have an easier time making their purchases at the gas stations and their monthly financial statements will look a lot better as a result, but ultimately the desire for the marketplace to move past gasoline at least in the area of personal automotive transportation has already taken hold in the free markets of the world. Many of the world's top automotive companies already have plans to come out with fully electric cars by 2010 and of course fully electric cars have no reliance on gasoline whatsoever.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Future auto trends: hybrid cars

The craze at the moment as far as the purchase of automobiles is concerned is the purchasing of hybrid automobiles. The Prius is the most obvious and celebrated example of this but the fact of the matter is that everywhere you look people are turning to hybrid automobiles as an answer for their current fuel problems. However, looking at the long term, are they really that good?

Hybrid automobiles are cars that have a conventional combustion engine while at the same time having an electric engine that can share the load some of the time. The usual end result is that fuel efficiency is doubled and therefore gas prices for a person are effectively cut in half. This is a very elegant solution at the current moment in time since it has the practical effect over the course of a month's worth of buying gas of restoring the cost to its location a few years ago.

That having been said, what happens in the future when gas prices double? When gas prices double, people that have purchased hybrid automobiles will be in the exact same boat they were in just before purchasing the hybrid to begin with. Of course one would hope that technology would progress in the time and that the person would have enough cash to unload their hybrid and switch to something else when the time comes, but if we are unlucky enough to see gas prices double in the next year that does not seem like a financial reality for most people.

Monday, November 03, 2008

2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe revealed

Hyundai has opted to release the specs for the 2010 Genesis Coupe. So far, the data is pretty impressive as the soon to be released coupe has the fuel efficiency of 30mpg.

Genesis Coupe will come in two models: Track and GT models. The latter model will have more features compared to Track models. The GT model will feature powerful 360-watt speakers, sunroof, GPS and power adjuster in driver’s seat. The less slick Track will not have the flashy chrome design of GT but will feature classic leather seats with powerful 13.4 and 13.0-inch breaks in front and rear disks respectively.

Available also are the turbocharged, standard and premium model. Turbocharged are geared towards speed as it features six speed option. Weighing considerably less compared to other coupes (3,303 lbs compared to 3,402 lbs for standard), it could reach 220hp when used with premium fuel.

The standard edition of 2010 Genesis Coupe on the other hand is geared towards leisure or daily comfort drivers. The car features the standard brakes in front and rear while featuring a decent entertainment system such as docks for iPod and other MP3 players, six speaker sound system, as well as Bluetooth capability.

The premium model upgrades the entertainment experience of the standard edition as it comes with a more powerful 10-speaker 360-watt sound system. There is also an integrated Homelink and navigation system.

Although the specs are impressive, the 2010 Genesis Coupe will be pushed as a two-door car. Apparently the lightweight cars of Hyundai have to sacrifice space to ensure fuel efficiency.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

R57 Mini spotted by “carparazzi”

The car’s debut is planned for this winter at the Detroit Auto Show in January next year. However, images with the new model are available due to a tipster. The images meant for an official brochure apparently went into the hands of a kind and sharing employee who distributed them on the Internet.
Then some “carparazzi” spotted the convertible with the top up and down, during some tests.

The car will also have a wider colour range with two new colours: one non-metallic and one non-metallic, called Interchange Yellow.

R57 will be a based on the model R56 and the top of it will be an upgrade of R52, but having a larger glass rear window. The car could be bought starting with next spring.

Images with the car appeared in MotoringFile,, AutoExpress and more.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chysler's Electric Car

Chrysler, the third largest US automaker, and the second largest in Canada, has announced on Tuesday plans to sell a plug-in electric car in 2010, in the United States.

"[We're] looking at a full line of electric vehicles," Chrysler chief executive Bob Nardelli said on the CNBC TV network. "We've made huge commitments, both from a resource standpoint and from a financial standpoint."

Chrysler displayed a working prototype of the electric vehicle outside its company's headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The vehicle resembles a sports car but has a lithium-ion battery that powers it for 150 miles on one single full charge, the company claimed.

Is Chrysler behind the game perhaps? General Motors Corp., the world's bigger automaker, displayed the production version of its own Chevrolet Volt electric car just a week ago, at a ceremony marking its one hundred years history as a corporation. Other automakers have also been working night and day designing their own electric cars, including Toyota Motor Corp. and BMW AG.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Crunching times at General Motors

As the US economy is heading for worst, it seems to be drugging along the once automotive giant, General Motors. The company is celebrating it's 100th year but the current financial status has never been at such low.

It is said that 'too little too late' had become the company moto and any good ideas were well behind the fierce global competitive market.

It has to be said that this is an earthquake in the automotive industry as GM owns many brands including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Hummer, Pontiac, SAAB, Opel, Vauxhall and Daewoo amongst others.

Conversations are continuing and industry analysts are wondering if the United States government will bail out the large car manufacturers to avoid a deepening of the economic crisis with increasing rates of unemployment.

One way or the other, things are never going to be the same for General Motors.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Electric car wars at London Motor Show

Well the age of the electric car is definitely here and there is no denying it if you have been to the London International Motor Show. Lightning Car automakers have revealed their Lightning GT, the first British all electric sports car with zero emissions that can go from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds, and has a top speed of more than 130 mph.

Its performance is impressive, beating the Jaguar 4.2 XKR by 1 second in the 0-60 challenge, and providing 700+ bhp, in comparison to the Jaguar's 420 bhp. It is also far more impressive than the current top selling hybrid, Toyota's Prius, which does 0-60 in more than 10 seconds and only gives you 76 bhp. It also receives an A in its green rating, which puts your carbon offset cost at £0.0, my favourite price, and that is only the beginning of where it saves you money. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on one of these beauties, it would cost you 2.2 pence per mile, you would save £300 on road tax, £1,920 in congestion charges from 48 working weeks, and another £10,000 if it is a company car through lower company car tax and company fuel benefit tax.

But there is of course its competitor, Tesla Motors' Roadster, and it does have a few evident advantages. For one thing, it is already in production and the company aims to be popping 100 of these babies a month by December. Then there is the range it can travel. The Lightning GT can do 200 miles per charge in comparison to the Tesla Roadster's 220.

But perhaps the biggest difference is the price. The Tesla Roadster is shipping for about $100,000 (around £50,000) and that is a huge difference to the Lightning GT, which has a £15,000 deposit just to preorder. The estimated price tag will be somewhere around £135,000, more than twice what the Roadster costs.

There are only two characteristics that can tip the scales in favour of the Lightning GT and those are its longevity and British pride. Lightning Car claims that the batteries in the car will last up to 12 years before you have to replace them, and maintain 85% capacity after 15,000 charges. Unfortunately the websites for each car provide information relevant to their market (US and UK) which makes it difficult for a more detailed comparison. In my mind, with such a high price tag it does really all come down to British pride. This is a beautiful piece of machinery, just like its competitor, but lets see if pride in our country's own product will be enough to make it viable.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Audi TT 2.0T - The Mini Supercar

When Audi came around the concept of a new compact sports car the whole motoring world hold their breath patiently until that glorious day back in August 1998 when the new Audi TT coupé was released. And then everyone exhaled in disappointment.

What Audi came up with as a great production idea was to create a coupé car based on the failure model VW Golf 4 and they might have done so as they refrained from producing a coupé model for a long time. Not inconceivably of course, the first Audi TT was so flabby in feeling and numb in handling that not only failed to impress as a sports car but also it proved dangerous, forcing Audi to recall all models, revive the set-up and let it out again in various different versions. Personally I thought it to be a strange looking little car, resembling an object that integrates characteristics of a woman’s breast and a futuristic armored army vehicle.

The first version was somewhat a commercial success, particularly in the UK, nevertheless after 8 years of constant questioning of the odd design a second version with the code name Typ 8J was revealed on April 6, 2006. The new Audi TT looks in a sense unarguably similar to the old tit-on-a-battle-tank like 1999 design. The new Audi TT admittedly appears to very much be in accordance with the new and familiar by now Audi design persona, showing of its longer, muscled bonnet and an overall lower, more aggressive posture.

VW executives lashed around the Audi designers so as to not repeat the same mistakes, so the poor Audi designer’s brainstormed for endless nights, squeezed their little insomnia-affected brains until they came up with not one but two brilliant mechanical innovations. The first one and for most is the awing achievement of successfully integrating a front aluminum part with a steel rear, a solution proven dreadful historically. The second one is the optional magnetic suspension. The technology implements essentially shock iron-filled absorbers that react when exposed to electric currents.

The new Audi TT is a sparkly little sports car, graceful when cornering growling like an aroused lioness with a very descent performance even from the basic 4 cylinder Audi TT T2.0 which will bring you from stance to 62 in 6.4 seconds and will stop accelerating at 149mph.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Alfa Romeo 8c Competizione - Black Dream

Ok, I am officially fixated with the new Alfa Romeo 8c Competizione. It isn't longer than 2 weeks ago that I proudly published my first tribute upon this dream-of-a-car and here we are again...

As mentioned last week over my views of the 2004's Alfa Romeo GT everyone will be gawping at Alfa Romeo's stand in a few days at the British Motor Show Many long-expected Alfa’s, including the top-notch hatchback MiTo expected into production in 2010, will be lined up flashing their Italian curves for our eyes only.

Nevertheless, the purpose of today's entry is merely to share with you a the Alfa Romeo 8c Competizione in its saturday night black gown after a responsive comment I had to reflect upon. So, there we are. And where does that leaves as? Nowhere! Many will love the black, many will adore the red.

Nevertheless, I got a call from Christian Bale just now, requesting, in light of my expertise upon the 8c Competizione, how can he get hold of one like the above to arrive tonight at Leicester Square for his UK opening of the Dark Knight. So, I will have to do my best then, shouldn't I?

Friday, July 18, 2008

VW takes over Scania

Europe's largest car manufacturer, Volkswagen, has announced that it has received the green light to go ahead with the takeover of Swedish bus and lorry manufacturer Scania, which will add the company to VW's extensive collection of brands, which includes Bentley, Skoda and Audi.

VW has had sole control in Scania since March 2008, however it had to get approval from the EU for the move and also had to deal with anti-trust cases in several European countries. Final voting stakes should be acquired later in the month in a move that is estimated to cost VW 2.8 billion euro, and which could eventually lead to a merger between VW and MAN.

Some might think it a strange move for VW to acquire a company that makes large vehicles when oil prices are constantly climbing and sales in larger vehicles are dropping, but I think we can be sure that truckers will only stop trucking when the last drop of fuel disappears into the atmosphere.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Alfa Romeo GT - Achievement or Failure?

Just a couple of days ago I was glorifying the Alfa Romeo 8c Competizione, soaking my keyboard in a concoction of drool, as I strain my eyes trying to memorize every curve, every detail of this carbon fiber body, and tears, as I am, most probably, never going to lay my eyes on one.

Well, I will actually and quite soon really. One of them beauties will be anticipating my appearance through the great doors of ExceL for the British International Motor Show coming up in 10 days. Thus, I can carry on now, living my pitiful life knowing that whatever I do, no matter how much money I earn there is no chance I will ever buy one; and that is simply because the 8c Competizione should not be classified as a car but as a piece of art and 500 of them will remain locked in collector’s garages.

So, in light of my anticipated meeting with my dream car I thought to look into the Italian familia of stunning models in order to go beyond the mere lunacy tag and drill into the genuine reasons of why people actually buy Alfa Romeo cars.

And that brings as to Alfa Romeo GT which made its big debut in 2004. When I saw it, and I believe I can speak on behalf of most car enthusiasts with a common sense of taste I thought this is a great looking car. I mean, few could argue that it slightly resembles the Renault 406 Coupe from certain angles and to be perfectly honest I would agree. But only from very specific and actually very few angles. Alfa Romeo GT has an edge, created by straight lines and sharp angles forming a buzzy exterior with tremendous amounts of energy and tension that the Renault lacked. Plus, the Renault 406 Coupe is a utterly pointless car whereas this one... well, at least not utterly!

Unfortunately the Alfa Romeo GT carries on its back a treacherous legacy, the same legacy that made the brand infamous throughout motorists globally. The 2.0JTS version stands its ground in the market from an equipment perspective, offering for its £21,495 list price gizmos like leather upholstery, cruise control and unexpectedly an Bose stereo. The 2.0 litre engine, although producing 165 very promising Italian bhp, won’t achieve a 0-62mph performance better than in 8.7sec while when forced up to 134mph the stallions will seize gulping further. And don’t get me wrong, most probably everyone would be thrilled to put all these aside if it was for the stirring to compensate. But no! Alfa Romeo GT’s stirring will fail to compensate, as the engine performance failed to impress and as the handling failed to disguise another front-wheel-drive failure of a car while Alfa Romeo’s funs receive blow, after blow, after blow...

And this is were I need to raise my voice all the way to Turin, Italy, as a loyal Alfa Romeo fun and cry for attention, cry for someone to reflect on my inability to comprehend why this great Italian manufacturer, while failing consistently to produce a decent front-wheel-drive car, don’t they go back to their dusty sketching archives locked behind doors made in the 60’s and 70’s and unearth how Alfa Romeo’s designers, 30-40 years ago, managed to write brilliant car manufacturing history with a humble pencil and a dirty rubber...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Van hire, avoiding moving pains

I have been moving house ever since I can remember. I don't think my family ever lived in one place for more than 6 years at a time, and since I moved out of the "family home", I have stayed at 8 different flats in 4 years, that's an average of moving every 6 months. In the majority of the cases I was just renting a room or moving in with a girl, so the only things I had to move were the books, DVDs and clothes I own. However, recently, came move number 9, and for that particular move I had furniture and decorations to take with me, and I was moving in with very good friends who were also leaving their old flats. So we needed a big van to move all the stuff around.

Due to bad communication we ended up with a Ford transit, which of course could not fit all the gear of three young professionals. So we had to run multiple trips. On the upside, we knew the move was going to take all day and the van filling up gave us an excuse to stop for lunch after we unloaded the first two sets of boxes. So we took a couple of hours off and then headed out for the last of the things. Even though the transit had served us well in central London and we were able to navigate between all the parked cars, we came to a standstill during rush hour in a suburb where 2 lanes become one. I counted 14 buses ahead of us. But we were in no rush, switched the engine off, turned the radio on, and one of us jumped out into the immobile traffic and went to the shop for sweets and soft drinks. We felt like proper van drivers, looking below us to the puny cars surrounding us and the driver would chat with anyone in a convertible brightening everyone's day.

Initially, I had been against the transit because I thought it would have been too small and had recommended something a bit larger. But if you would rather take a break half way through the day and don't feel comfortable driving a Luton (they are pretty big) perhaps that is the type of vehicle you should consider. It is also a good idea to hire your van from a company that has several drop off locations, as we managed to save a couple of hours (and a lot of petrol) the following day by dropping off van at the branch that was near our new flat.

One of my favourite things about the company we hired from, SixT, is the safety tips for people who have not driven a van before, which I wish we had looked at before driving, as we did not know about blind spots and the such. Still we all got to our new flat safe and sound and did not cause any havoc of the roads.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

GM job cuts revealed

It was a long time coming, what with the way things have been going in the US car industry. With sales dropping and oil prices rising General Motors found themselves in unfamiliar territory, when their customers switched from larger SUVs to smaller fuel efficient cars and sales in trucks and semis dropped throughout the US.

And as GM's shares reached their lowest point in the last 50 years, the car manufacture giant announced the closure of 4 factories that produce its larger vehicles, as it opted for the production of what consumers seem to be going for; smaller cars, that are cheaper in the short run and the long run.

GM desperately needs to cut back on costs if it is to remain viable, although executives in the company insist that they do not just want to remain viable, but come out "winners". So, the company is selling its Hummer, it has promised to cut its white collar cost by 20% and is selling assets and borrowing in order to reinvigorate its finances. Meanwhile, GM's stock value has dropped by 60% this year.

I wonder if GM will be able to survive what seems to me like the end of an era, the time of the easy rider. Is it over so soon?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Alfa Rome 8c Competizione - Collection Super Car

Finally, after years and years of mechanically moderate or even rubbish models, perfectly designed as they might were, Alfa Romeo storms back in the super car arena with 8c Competizione. But hold your horses mates, this is going to be an one-off class demonstration unfortunately, as Alfa Romeo has no plans to adapt, implement or be inspired from this rear-wheel drive beauty for any future models.

To be honest, I love the brand. My father owned an 1.8 Alfa Romeo Alfetta which he says it was driving amazingly, obeying his commands before leaving the soft matter of his brain! So, I hope I don’t sound harsh when saying that many Alfas have proved fairly quick and fun to drive while the majority are superbly designed but I have never heard from anyone coming to me and saying: you know what mate, I am driving the best car in the world, I am driving an Alfa Romeo. And I blame for that big daddy Fiat, which in an attempt to tackle soaring complaints for rustiness, unreliability and continuous electrical failures decided to nick some of Alfa Romeo’s glamour and doom it to mediocrity.

Up until now... its like a dream come true... The Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione is an Alfa loyal to both the brand's extroverted design and the superior mechanical heritage. 450bhp is the fierce outcome of a 4.7 liter V8 engine, resting quietly under the carbon-fiber dressed body of this Italian Prima Donna.

On a theoretical basis the price is around £100,000 but practically every single one of the 500 8c Competizione has been pre-sold a long long time ago. So, if you are lucky enough to come across one of the 41 sold in Great Britain take as many pictures as possible, fornicate with it you may but whatever you do don’t leave it out of your site for as long as it stays in vision... cause you won’t be seeing one any time soon.

By the way, is it only me or it could really be Batman’s on-the-pull-car if you paint it black?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Never get stuck in traffic. Well, at least improve your chances.

It's terrible, driving down the A40 or whatever is the motorway you take, when you've planned it for a day with no traffic, so you can get from point A to point B with the minimum of hassle and time, and then suddenly, BANG! It all stands still. Cars as far as the eye can see...

So with my upcoming house move I am really happy with this new digital radiostation that has been launched by the Highways Agency. Apparently, this Traffic Radio will be broadcast 24 hours a day, giving us the information on traffic, emergency incidents and roadworks. Seeing as we will have to move 4 peoples' stuff in one day (keeping the budget tight), Central London to North London, then to Southwest, just below the river, and then all the way to West zone 6, this service will be invaluable.
Apart from traffic news, the radio station will also provide us with national headlines and it utilises information from more than 3,500 road sensors and 10,000 CCTV cameras, as well as road staff, police, helicopters and planes, and will be updated every 10 minutes during peak traffic periods.

For the moment Traffic Radio is available on digital radio covering around 80% of England and will become more widely available over the next two years. At present Transport for London and the Highway Agency are running the programme, but their aim is to include traffic agencies in Scotland and Wales in order to provide a service for the entire country.

Of course if you do not have a DAB radio in your car you should check the station's website before you leave or if you have mobile access, take a break and have a look. Whatever the senario, it is a welcome programme for any of us driving around the capital and the rest of the country.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

GM King of the Hill

The hype over the last month has been that the future is held by car manufacturers who make smaller more fuel efficient vehicles, however it was General Motors who came out on top, with the highest sales in June. There had been fears that with plummeting auto sales and skyrocketing oil prices, GM's position would be taken over by Toyota, with its fleet of smaller efficient cars.

Nonetheless, GM managed to pull through with an 18% drop in sales in comparison to June last year, mainly due to a clearance sale with very favourable financing options, which boosted their sales near the end of the month. In relative terms, GM's sales were only down 8%, as June 2008 had 3 less sale days than June 2007. And with that GM managed to push through to first position in sales, ahead of Toyota, which was down by 21% in sales.
It is something of a surprise, seeing as the trend over the last month has been declining sales for most companies and a tendency to market more efficient vehicles, however this small decrease in sales may be what Honda was hoping for, as it is the only company that is increasing its production of pickup trucks and vehicles of that size category.

Will this decline end? Even though sales aren't dropping as much as one would expect, is it really viable for us to continue to use cars at the same rate and in the same way we have been doing for the last 100 years, especially with the developments in oil and raw material prices ?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Surely, there's a ceiling somewhere...

As if soaring oil prices were not enough we now have to deal with a dramatic increase in the price of the raw materials required for the manufacture of cars. This rise in raw material, in conjunction with the oil price crisis, has caused care manufacturer stock to drop and has led companies to state that they will have to raise prices in order to remain profitable.

Despite the difficulties they would face, Toyota statements last Friday read that they may have to increase the prices of their passanger cars to cope with the situation. According to the Japanese media, Toyota may raise the price of all domestic vehicles in one go. If so Nissan is sure to follow, as they have made similar statements themselves, but would have to wait for the market leader to increase their prices before they could do the same and remain competitive.

One of the reasons for the surge in raw material prices is the fact that China has agreed to pay 95% more for steel from its Australian suppliers than it did last year. That automatically affects the prices for everyone and it would seem that China's developing economy is doing better than the US, as far as cars are concerned at least.

At least car manufacturers are still trying to make cars lighter and with less parts, which affects both petrol consumption and the amount of raw material involved in the construction of the cars.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Suzuki is getting bigger, while everyone else is going smaller

Over the past few weeks we have seen company after company go for the manufacture smaller cars, especially in the US where truck sales are dropping. Nevertheless, Suzuki seems to be doing just the opposite. Despite the fall in truck sales, Suzuki has started introducing their own pickup trucks to the US. It seems to me that there is someone in a boardroom in Japan saying, "It's just crazy enough to work!"

The first car they will introduce to the US in 2009 us the Equator compact pickup truck, which will be built for them in the US by Nissan. In 2010 they will introduce an as of yet unnamed (in the US) midsize car, which will feature the Malibu's 3.6 litre engine and Suzuki's all wheel drive. The next car to make an appearance, or to be more exact, a reappearance, will be the Suzuki swift in 2011, which left buyers unimpressed the first time round. However, this time it will be available with a 1.6 litre engine and 124 horse power.

Hats off to Suzuki for a bold move, but is it the right move? With the declining sales in the truck and pickup truck market, is it viable for Suzuki to try and sell what no one is buying at the moment? It might be, if they know something we don't and truck sales pick up (no pun intended) in the next couple of years.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Innovative approach to increasing fuel prices

Surprisingly enough, an innovative, greener way of travel in cars is being pioneered in the US. Unsurprisingly, it is an idea that is most popular and originates from the west coast, specifically the San Francisco Bay area.

To be honest, it is not that new an idea, however with fuel prices what they are it has become increasingly popular. In a culture where the pursuit of happiness is often symbolized by the lone rider on the open road, a more attainable form of happiness is being on the special fast lane for car poolers and getting to work in a third of the time it takes everybody else, skipping the traffic jam and the poll booths.

Apparently, car pooling has its own etiquette, however it differs between the two types of car pooling, the organised steady car pooling partnership and the random passenger car pooling. If you have standard car pooling partners (coworkers, neighbours, kids, etc.) then you must not be late, you must agree on an amount to pay to the driver for the upkeep of the vehicle and you must be careful of how much perfume you put on that morning.

That last rule applies to the second type of car pooling, although what is more important is, apparently, not speaking (unless the driver starts the conversation), and naturally no eating, drinking or smoking.

Strangely enough, car pooling has not picked up very much in Europe, although there are websites for car pools in certain European countries. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it. It's cheaper and usually faster than any other form of transportation (if everyone is doing it or there are incentives similar to those in San Fransisco). Maybe this will be the next step in our adapting to our new needs in the face of diminishing oil reserves and increasing prices.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Volvo cutting its losses

Volvo's recent announcement that it will be sacking 1200 employees in Sweden and that it will be dropping an additional 300 jobs overseas, along with 500 contractor cancellations, has reignited talks of the company moving towards a potential sale.

Volvo is the last of the original Premier Automotive Group left in Ford Motors, after it sold Aston Martin, Land Rover and Jaguar. It denies that it is going to move to the sale of Volvo, and claims that these layoffs are part of its multimillion pound cost cutback. Ford sold the aforementioned companies to Indian automotive conglomerate Tata in order to focus on its declining sales in the US market.

We saw that this slump in sales in the US has affected other companies as well, such as Toyota, whose sales of trucks and lorries has dropped so sharply that they are having to focus more on their fuel efficient smaller vehicles, a trend that is very unlike anything the American market has been like historically.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Toyota to lower sales goal

Yet another consequence of increasing oil prices has struck at Toyota. It is the Japanese car manufacturer that has to adjust to the times, just as other automotive producers. Soaring oil prices have caused a drop in the demand for high consumption vehicles. The world's second largest carmaker has been confronted with diminished demand in the US.

The US is Toyota's biggest market for lorries and long haul vehicles and thus the company will have to review their 2.64 million vehicle target that was set for this year. The meeting is set to take place next month and a new target is most probably going to be set.

Unfortunately for Toyota, even though they lead the market in fuel efficient cars, it has not been enough to keep them unaffected from what seems to be a global crisis for the automotive industry. The drop in car sales in the US has had a knock on effect on Toyota's share prices. US auto sales has dropped by 13% this year and Toyota lorry sales have dropped by more than 7%. This is all thought to be due to the $4 a gallon oil price tag.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ford going for smaller, more fuel efficient cars

Not much of a surprise really, more like common sense. With oil prices what they are, even the proudest of American car fans will have to admit it makes sense to drive something small and economic rather than a huge gas-guzzling pickup or SUV. And few people are prouder of the American automotive industry than Ford execs.

So it is quite impressive that they are delaying their new pick up truck's release by a couple of months and that they are increasing the output of their smaller vehicles. Apparently, this is in response to demand, seeing as more customers are opting for the fuel efficient smaller cars.

Naturally, this will have a knock on effect to their employees, and as production and demand drops, so will the number of shifts available to workers, and the number of workers themselves. It seems as though the pride of the big engine that rumbles down the endless stretches of American highways, through deserts and forests, is coming to an end in the shadow of the ever increasing cost of fuel.

The pursuit of happiness will have to take place in a smaller car it seems.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Japanese reliability surpasses all

Japanese cars have come top of the list in reliablity charts posted by Which? magazine in a study they carried out on 90,000 cars from around the world. Honda, Toyota, Daihatsu, Lexus, Mazda, Subaru and Suzuki took the top 7 places in reliability, however Honda's Civic didn't do quite that well coming close to the bottom of the list (for medium sized cars).

That is not to say, however, that European car manufacturers were left completely out. As far as most reliable brand is concerned, Skoda was praised for theirs, outdoing the likes of Mercedes, BMW and Audi.

Top cars in reliability in their own class: Honda Jazz/Skoda Fabia, Skoda Roomster, Volvo C30, Honda Civic Hybrid, Mercedes Benz E Class, Honda FR-V/Seat Altea/ VW Golf Plus, Lexus RX, Audi TT/Mazda MX-5.

Last in reliablity in their own class: Fiat Grande Punto, Suzuki SX4, Honda Civic/Citroen C4, VW Passat/Citroen C5, Ford Galaxy/Ford S-Max, Land Rover Discovery 3, Mercedes-Benz SLK.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Oil prices affecting the way we drive?

Just as air travel is reverting to prices of the past, with airlines cutting their budget travel offshoots , the spike in oil prices is starting to affect the way people drive. As it becomes more and more expensive to go to work, take the kids to school and go shopping, people are having to find new ways of dealing with the current situation. And with certain analysts predicting that it is not out of the question for oil to reach $200 a barrel things seem to be staying that way. An even scarier prediction was made by Russian Gazprom, which stated that oil prices could reach $250 a barrel by 2009.

So what effects is this having on the population? Well, more and more people are using public transport, riding bicycles or, in some extreme cases, stealing diesel from farmers (diesel theft has been on the rise since May). Unfortunately, as prices do not seem to be dropping, it will become more and more difficult to use cars.

This increasing cost may be the real reason behind all the research and development being piled on by car manufacturers into lighter, lower emission, electric, and hybrid vehicles. If things keep going this way cars will once again become a luxury. A solar panneled luxury in fact.

Thank God for Segways.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tata creating jobs for Jaguar and Land Rover in UK

When Ford was forced to sell Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata Motors earlier this month so that it could concentrate on it's US business that has been taking losses, Tata executives had stated that they were looking to extend their full support to both Jaguar and Land Rover so that they may achieve their competitive potential.

And it seems they were being honest as 600 new jobs are being created at Jaguar and Land Rover. Tata Motors believe that both companies have great potential for global growth, due to the respectability and fame of the brands. These 600 new employees will be working on new technology to lower emissions and perhaps make the brand more attractive. £700 million will be invested in sustainable technologies to improve the environmental performance of vehicles, including lightweight materials and hybrid power trains

In an age when most plants are being moved to developing nations to lower costs and staff is made redundant in a flash it is a relief to see that what are two essentially British brands will continue to be made in Britain and that India is creating jobs in the UK.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mazda's crossover concept car to be revealed in Moscow

The Moscow International Automobile Salon will play host to a new and exciting vehicle, the as of yet unnamed new Mazda concept car. It's been a good year for Mazda, in fact they set their all time record for sales in a fiscal year (April 07 - March 08) and set their all time record for sales in one month in March, and now they will once again attract the spotlight with what looks to be a magnificent design, if the CX-7 and CX-5 are anything to go by.

Nagare, which according to a Mazda press release on the vehicle, means “flow” in Japanese, represents a new approach to expressing movement in car design, taking as inspiration the flow patterns of natural elements, such as the wind. Russia is one of Europe’s fastest-growing markets and is rapidly becoming the region’s largest automobile market. SUVs are particularly popular in Russia, with a segment share of about 20 percent. Mazda’s latest concept car is designed to appeal particularly to younger SUV owners who have a strong sense of style.

The Moscow International Automobile Salon media days are on August 26 and 27, whereas August 28 caters for industry and trade specialists. The show is open to the public from August 29 through September 7. The new show car will be unveiled at the Mazda press conference at 10:15 on August 26 at the Mazda stand.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Honda hydrogen cars hit the road

The first time I read about the potential to build a hydrogen powered car, one that was to emit water vapour as its exhaust fume, I was ecstatic. Obviously, we were only a decade or so away from the flying Delorian, and you all know what that means... hoverboards!

Seriously though, it was a beautiful image, to have a car that runs normally and the only mark you leave on the environment is water. So Honda have now become the first car manufacturer to commercially produce of a hydrogen fuel cell powered car. I say produce commercially, there will only be about 200 cars and those are to be leased over the next three years, mainly in Japan and California. This is primarily because of the refueling problem, as refueling stations for hydrogen fuel cells are very few and far between. That, and the high cost of producing the batteries themselves.

On the other hand there is the concern of how the hydrogen itself is produced. Surely energy will be consumed in order to produce energy. So, even though I love the idea of a car exhaust dripping water, I still remain a bit skeptical about the whole thing. In fact after skimming over The Hype About Hydrogen I tend to agree that hybrid cars may be a more realistic alternative for now, especially with all the research being done in diesel hybrids and reducing weight by redesigning cars. Will the Hydrogen car actually help our environment?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Diesel for professionals, diesel for racecars, diesel for everyone

Without even looking I can tell if a taxi has pulled up. It's that rumbling diesel engine pulling up to he curb but never switching off. Most people, including myself until recently, thought that diesel meant smelly, noisy and (worst of all) slow. But the popularity of the diesel engine in two very important sectors of driving raises the question of whether or not it is in fact inferior to other engines.

Car racing and professional car fleets are two areas that use diesel engines. At the upcoming Le Mans 24 Hour endurance motor race Peugeot and Audi will be entering cars with diesel engines, reports the BBC. At the same time, diesel remains the most cost effective fuel for company cars, according to a press release from All In One Leasing Limited, one of the UK's largest and longest established automotive companies. So diesel engines are used in everything from high speed racing to rented executive cars and one can even find diesel supercars

The reasons for diesel's popularity is its low cost, in the face of increasing oil prices, and its high mile per gallon average. Now in order to keep with the eco-friendly trend in cars, there are plans for a diesel-electric hybrid. Peugeot and Volkswagen both have diesel hybrids, in the case of the VW Golf it has the added bonus of cutting your road tax to zero.

Furthermore, there is a chance that in next year's Le Mans there will be diesel-electric hybrid's racing. For the moment the combination of the two technologies would make cars too heavy (seems to be everyone's concern these days) albeit more fuel efficient, but as technology progresses, the diesel-electric model should become all the more popular and easy to achieve. And when that happens I won't be able to tell when a taxi has pulled up. Because the hybrids are quiet.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Vauxhall Insignia to take on Mondeo and premium rivals

After two posts about redesigning cars to save on costs and lower prices, I think it's time we talk about a new design aimed towards luxury. Vauxhall recently published pictures of the interior of the Insignia, the car to replace the Vectra, and they look impressive.

The Insignia is an attempt to overtake the Ford Mondeo as the favourite family car and challenge more luxurious opponents, such as Audi A4. Vauxhall's unique design language spreads into the cabin of the Insignia, bringing new levels of luxury, style and quality. The dashboard's top-pad wraps around from the instrument panel to the door, creating a unique wing-shape and embracing the occupants. Ambient lighting radiates a warm, luxurious aura. Much emphasis has also been put into the development of the seats, which set the highest standards in ergonomics, comfort and safety.

"The Insignia is one of our most ambitious projects to date, and we will be revealing the full extent of our technological progress when the car is officially launched at the British International Motor Show in London on July 22," says Andy Gilson, Marketing Director, General Motors.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tata Nano, getting on the competition's nerves

It was only yesterday I was discussing how Professor Gordon Murray was talking about redesigning the car and reducing parts, and after watching an online interview with the designers of the Tata Nano, he is not the only one. Apparently Tata motors designers and engineers had the same idea and after designing and redesigning the car several times they have managed to reduce the number of parts used for the production of the car (car door handle, wheel bolts, etc).

This is one of the reasons for the outrageous $2,500 price tag and is probably why the CEO of competitors Bajaj Auto is evidently upset in his online interview at the BBC. Tata have undercut the competition by 50% and Indian economy is booming. It looks to me like the VW of the East. I wonder if it will catch on? I can see it now, psychedelic designs on the hood and full purple shag carpeting interiors with a gigantic peace sign hanging from the rear view mirror. Or not.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Former McLaren F1 Designer: My Design Will Shake Up The Industry

Designer of the McLaren F1 and many other Formula One cars, Professor Gordon Murray, has been working on a new design for a car, “rethinking the car as we know it” that will shake up the industry, according to his statements to the BBC.

After years of experience on the track and in the office designing some of the fastest cars in the world, Professor Murray has taken to the design of a new aspect in motoring. Lowering emissions. Nothing new there, you might think, and you made a green post yesterday, but give the man a second

He is not dealing with creating a more fuel efficient engine or a new hybrid or electric car. There are plenty of those around. He is dealing with weight. Professor Murray claims that the entire design of the car needs to be rethought, that everything from the bolt holding the wheel to the car, the energy used when the bolt is shipped, and even the energy used to create the bolt is being checked. That and the weight of the car seem to be his two main concerns, as car companies seem to be making bigger and heavier green cars, which automatically makes it harder for them to move, thus more expensive. He aims to design a new car in every sense of the word.

It is as though we have been trapped in this image of the car and find it hard to think of any other shape than a loosely rectangular or oval shape with four wheels attached. I’ll be looking forward to what the man that used to design the fastest most efficient cars in the world has in mind. A light, fun and efficient vehicle. And something tells me it’ll corner like it’s on rails.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Who said hybrids were slow?

Slow and boring? I think not, as US based Hybrid Technologies has announced plans to put a hybrid supercar into production by the end of 2009. This stylish lithium-ion sportster holds claims of keeping up with a Porche or a Ferrari and the ability to deliver a minimum of 220 mpg.

According to Hybrid Technologies, they will also make available a fully electric version of the car allowing for up to 180 miles per charge. Executives within the company have promised this car will provide a “wild experience”, however no one in the media has been given a chance to test drive the vehicle.

Additional features adding to economy, eco-friendliness and handling are the car’s regenerative braking (recharging batteries while braking) and movable aerodynamic aids, changing as appropriate to the speed.

Friday, May 23, 2008

New 20mph Urban Speed Limit

In 2007 UK streets took their toll of more than 3,000 human lives, including passengers, cyclists and pedestrians. Thus, the government was harshly confronted once again for not implementing a solid strategy to reduce those pointless deaths. And so, the government’s response came thunderous this time with plans, not only to reduce the speed limit to 20mph but also measures like lower drink-drive limit, six penalty points for serious speed limit breaches and harsher on seat-belt policy.

The strategy’s ultimate goal is to eventually reduce the number of fatalities from 3,000 down to 2,000 by 2020. Ambitious as it may be, at least there is a clear-cut target to be reached; implementation of new techniques such as digital road signs signifying allowed speed to drivers when closing up to schools and cameras detecting a vehicle’s average speed instead of road humps was therefore judged as compulsory for bringing results.

The fact is that research from the Department for Transport proves that 1 in 40 pedestrian car accidents at 20mph will result into mortality, whereas it is actually 1 in 5 at speeds of 30mph. On 40mph the survival rate plunges to a sad 10% chance.

So, on one hand it’s the annoying 20mph limit for residential roads and harsher penalties for alcohol consumption and seat belt issues, but on the other hand there are less speed humps and more integrity.

But come on, if 1mph in a vehicle’s average speed reduces the mortality rate by around 5% doesn’t a fellow human’s life worth a few more minute of your time?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New Vauxhall Agila - Just for city drive

Vauxhall has been more often than not succesfull and intuitive in creating automotive benchmarks with their creations. What it lacked from the German manufacturer's range was a smart and practical city car, thus the new Vauxhall Agila was "summoned".

The first edition of the model, although not competing for its good looks, was a commercial success throughout Europe as much as for the practical interior and ergonomics as for its competitive pricing. The new Vauxhall Agila was bound to a facelift before anything else, so the end product shows off funky-looking exterior to the point that many characterize it as a attention magnet. The interior is in accordance with Vauxhall's new mentality where new, quality materials and colourfull combinations create a causy yet practical environment with plenty of cubby holes next to as many drink holders.

That was as far as the good news go, because when getting down to performance the Vauxhall Agila, specifically the top 1.3 litre version, will probably dissapoint even the most chilled-driving clientele. Strangely the 1.2 litre engine feels perkier, somehow more willing to follow up with you on playful glimpses with the accelerator.

The new Vauxhall Agila is a very stylish little city car considering the dreadful looking predecessor, though I fail to understand how it can stand a change against the Fiat 500 or Renault Twingo. And with that I mean the price of course; it offers nothing more than the other two, on the contrary. As part of a link-up with Suzuki, the Vauxhall Agila is virtually identical to the Splash but £1,000 more expensive lacking a few of gadgets as well.

Thus the question remains, if the humble basic edition 1.0 litre Agila costs more than car such as the brilliant 1.2 litre Fiat Panta - former car of the year - do you think it stands a chance?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fiat 500 cute and stylish

The trend of reviving classic successful cars of the past shouldn't be regarded as commercial safety valve for car manufacturers whose design houses are drained out of ideas. VW was to first that got busy reshaping the ultimate classic Beetle who reined streets since 1938. The same path was followed by Ford giving us the new GT and BMW relenting the expensive yet brilliant Mini. It was about time Fiat to answer back and what an answer they gave motorists last year with the sparkling Fiat 500.

Fiat's newborn has nothing to do with the dull Fiat Cinquecento of the 90's. The original design dates back to 1957 when Dante Giacosa responded to an increasing demand for a practical and inexpensive city car by placing the engine at the back very much like the VW Beetle. Fiat 500 was on production until 1975.

The new Fiat 500 was previewed exactly 50 years after the first design was presented, featuring a sexy retro-look reflecting the design legacy of the original. All petrolheads though lay their eyes upon the 1.4 liter Fiat 500 Abarth whose turbocharger will feed the sparkling little gem with 135 bhp and incredible ammounts of torque.

The looks are actually so wonderful, almost in a trecherous way, to make you ignore few flaws the car has. It is actually the basic 1.2 liter engine which will let down a bit and the car's response to speed bumps, holes and all sort of everyday obstacles we come across everyday and will make the ride quite frappe!

From a handling point of view though Fiat 500 unfolds all characteristics one would seek from a small city car, with a cheeky but safe response when pushed a bit harder while it is definitely very practical without being boring. It should be an instant success, a new classic is born since the car is so well placed in the market, targeting a big group and priced around £3,000 less than the cheaper BMW Mini its hard to go wrong.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Land Rover 60th Birthday

The year is 2008 and Land Rover celebrates its 60th birthday party actually coinciding with the dusk of a glorious automotive manufacturing era and the dawn of a new one. I feel obliged here to pay a small tribute to the company's manufacturing history of producing its famous 4x4 vehicles.

I was right after the victorious end of World War II that Land Rover "borrowed" Rover's chief designer Maurice Wilks who kicked off straight away with designing vehicles inspired by the World War II Jeep. The first car spawned from this coalition came off the production line in 1948 and was baptized "Huey" actually based on Jeep's chassis.

Originally the term Land Rover was used to describe one specific vehicle, a revolutionary civilian all-terrain utility vehicle presented on April 30, 1948, at the Amsterdam Motor Show. Such was the popularity of the name that was later used as a brand for several distinct models, all four-wheel drive.

Many Land Rovers have been altered for a range of civilian an non purposes, with vivid examples being the Defender 6x6 model, frequently converted into a fire vehicle or the Series IIa used extensively as an ambulance. It is actually true that Land Rover still supplies vehicles to the Red Cross since 1954, the reason being that according to valid estimation about 70% of all Land Rover's produced are still in use in various activities. Maybe hard to believe, nevertheless, the Series I Land Rovers sent to Costa Rica to be utilized in coffee plantations in the 1950s are still in operation today.

So, going through Land Rover's history we admired the indestructible English-produced vehicles setting new automotive benchmarks throughout European narrow streets, to Latin America's plantation, armouring them up for Police use, fire fighting and hospital needs. That brings us to the present and the Detroit Auto Show in January 2008 where the astonishing futuristic LRX Concept car (right) was revealed. Nowadays Land Rover is reining no more but keeps on reporting loses cornering its parent Ford to sell it to the Indian conglomerate Tata in a £1.15bn ($2.3bn) deal.

What will the future of Land Rover be is difficult to say...


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