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

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Batmobile or Cayman S Porsche Design Edition 1?

Don’t get alarmed guys, the car in the picture is not the new Batmobile from the new to-be-released Batman sequel The Dark Knight. It is just the tangible outcome of Design Edition’s conceptual idea like if the designers were trying to make Batman even cooler. The famous design house is actually behind quite a few Porsche designs since the 1970’s.

Based on Cayman S the Porsche Design Edition 1 is a limited edition of the mid-engine, two-seater coupe of which only 777 are to be put into production. The car, considered by few, nothing more than a big cool-looking add-on to the existing range, may not offer any boost in engine performance, yet the extra details and “limited edition” status certainly add up to a gotta-have-it attitude.

Buyers will feel privileged as being one of the 777 owners who can even identify each other on the seaside or camping as the upgraded pack, soled for an extra £5000, includes a grab bag of Design Studio stuff, including a briefcase, a chronograph watch, sunglasses and pocket knife.

Cayman S Design Edition 1 offers though, more than a camping kit. The difference is clearly on the small details like the dark door handles or the matte-black stripes, running along the car and embossed with the Design Studio logo, visible only in certain light. When you stop staring it while drooling I invite you to take a glance at the interior design, where the black leather dominates the luxurious, almost decadent passenger cabin.

Unfortunately now, the engine option is the same 3.4-liter, six-cylinder engine of Cayman S giving 295 bhp. Though bitter news, it doesn’t come on a surprise. You see, here lurks a potential clash with the 911 if the engine was altered to generate more power and Cayman S Design Edition 1 isn’t here to challenge its big brother... or big sister.

Hold on now, don’t grouchy already. It’s not like you will drive a Peugeot 406 coupe – iconic example for me for looks with no performance. The car is fast, “running” the 0 to 60 in 5.1 seconds and hitting a top speed of 171 miles per hour. Porsche is simply attempting here to offer a different "toy" to its dedicated motorists, so they managed with the small size and mid-mounted engine, plus a weight less than 3,000 pounds, to make it extremely agile and playful.

The Cayman really is a glossy vehicle and well done to the designing team. So, it is looking amazing and is priced below £40,000,but is that enough to give Porsche maniacs a good purchase reason or not? I mean would you go for it if you had the budget?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ford sells Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata, India

Tata is the biggest business group in India, actually it is a multinational conglomerate with interests in various sectors like automotives, communication, power and steel. Tata already runs the former British steel company Corus and recently laid eyes in two other British iconic companies Land Rover and Jaguar.

The Indian giant approached Ford, which owned the two English car manufacturers, few months ago and they have been in negotiations ever since. The final outcome is that the ownership of the two famous companies is to pass to Tata in a deal valued around £1 billion. I am not sure what first impressions this deal will make to motorists and funs of the two companies but the good news are the acquisition will actually safeguard around 16,000 jobs whereas most likely the deal will include a commitment from the Indian company to maintain the style and image of Land Rover and Jaguar.

Tata has nothing further to prove, its mere size does the talking and the fact that it is a fifth generation family owned company which continues to grow its revenues. Personally, I believe that by maintaining Jaguar’s and Land Rover’s personas while improving the small yet so important details, the two car manufacturers can exceed expectations. And you never know, maybe they will manage finally to face their German rivals.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New Peugeot coupe 308 RC Z

Peugeot is finally cooking a stylish coupe. Few final touches for the sleek two-door Audi TT rival, 308 RC Z and it will be ready for production, hopefully sticking to the concept car’s design revealed in Frankfurt last year. Everybody was anticipating Peugeot’s designers to get busy with a new coupe since the release of the lovely looking but outdated 406 coupe.

The French manufacturer’s aim is to keep costs down and 308 underpinnings and interior fixtures and fittings are set to do just that. Peugeot managed to create a genuinely sporty looking interior completing the very stylish exterior - possibly the best looking Peugeot for many years and much more modern that the 406 coupe.

Peugeot likes to withhold advanced releases of technical details and refuses to treat hungry reporters and motorists with early designs of models to be produced. Nevertheless, in Frankfurt’s show quite a few RC Z characteristics were generously shared. Apparently one version will be powered by the 1.6 turbocharged four-cylinder used in the 207 GTI and Mini.

Feeble as it may sounds, bare in mind that if the announced 215bhp engine makes it to production a 0-62mph seven seconds speculation and a top speed of 146mph is very safe to be made. 308 RC Z will also follow the recent trend of eco friendliness thanks to its engine's small capacity, so emissions and fuel consumption are expected to beat typical coupes – Peugeot claims CO2 emissions of 160g/km.

So, the 308 RC Z is cheap to run, it is stylish and quick and if Peugeot sticks to the plan and manages to keep the price down, undercutting premium models like the Audi TT, BMW 1-Series coupe the new two-door French baby could be a real success.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Captain John Terry Blocks Disabled bay

What’s going on lately with famous people been caught breaking road traffic laws. It wasn’t long ago I came across the Jeremy Clarkson’s case and the storm created by a picture showing him being on the phone while driving. Now it was John Terry’s turn, England’s football team captain to face press.

This time though, the offence was deliberate. John Terry decided the best way to be in close proximity to the restaurant he dinned with his family in Surrey, was to park illegally in a disabled spot. The arrogant move caused outrage to shoppers and by-passers contemning the action especially as a 50p car park was very close. The accused British “raw model”, also seen leaving Stamford Bridge few days ago without wearing a seatbelt, didn’t seem to break a sweat over the £60 parking fine found on his Bentley’s windscreen.

Whereas, I perceive Jeremy Clarkson as being a silly offender who could at least have the courtesy of using a hand’s free device, John Terry on the other hand gives a grand example of social indifference. Disability Association Radar expressed they discomfort for the incident stating “disabled bays are there for disabled people, who need to be closer than other to where they have to go. They should not be abused by people who don’t need them”.

I wonder if Greece’s recent outrageous financial penalties for traffic offenders would bring results in the UK. So, a query for the Minister of Transportation; Sir, I doubt that even John Terry of a £100K per week salary would block disabled bays if the fine was £600, instead of £60, would you agree with me on that?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

No Jaguar for MPs but Toyota Prius Hubrid

The Toyota Prius is a car which created its own category, its own market and people refer to it like Blanco for correcting fluids or Post-it for sticky notes. Success came upon introduction because of its eco friendly characteristics. It wasn’t though, until it was embraced by Hollywood A-listers such as Brad Pitt and Cameron Diaz though, that it became a status symbol for green-conscious celebrities around the globe.

Movie stars may have given very early the bright example to the public but British MPs are still considering whether or not is appropriate to replace the existing government car fleet with green hybrids such as the Prius. News sometimes come in with a twist of irony, as this debate emerges just days after motorists are “bludgeoned” with new taxes.

Although under Whitehall suggestions all ministerial cars should reduce their CO2 emissions below 130gr/km by summer, John Hutton, Business Secretary opposed the move. His argument focuses on the vital need to be seen in a British vehicle, this way supporting domestic manufacturers. Quick question Johnnie boy, the last I recall is Jaguar being Ford’s subsidiary mate. Isn’t that business related, Mr. Business Secretary?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

2008 Road Tax

So, environmental history is written. The Minister of Environment, Heritage and local Government John Gormley delivered recently the first Carbon budget in the history of the State. The budget announcement contains a series of measures aimed at tackling climate change like the new emissions based system for motor tax with significant savings for new low emission vehicle cars and a mandatory environment labelling system for new cars.

The new motor tax, starting at 1 July 2008, is changing from being based on engine size to one based on CO2 emissions. There will be seven bands, A-G ,and the corresponding fees range from €100 a year for the greenest cars, to €2000 for the most polluting. Whereas those gas-guzzling cars will be hit hard the savings for motorists with the lowest emission vehicles will be more than €300.

The new emissions motor tax system will apply to all new vehicles and newly imported cars registered on or after July 1 next year. Existing cars will continue to be taxed on the current basis of engine size. Minister Gormley said: “The clear objective of this new motor tax system is to influence the purchasing decisions of consumers by rewarding the buyers of low-emitting cars and charging a premium on less efficient vehicles. From 1 July, anyone registering a new car can make a choice for the environment by purchasing a low CO2 emitting car, and thus enjoy a lower rate of motor tax. Alternatively, if the choice is to purchase a high CO2 emissions car, a higher rate of motor tax will apply.”

On top of that, an introduction to a mandatory labelling system for cars from 1st July was regarded vital, to show clearly to consumers the environmental impact of every vehicle. This will be accompanied by a public information campaign which will promote the purchase of fuel efficient cars.

Band A: CO2 emissions of under 120grams per kilometre - motor tax rate of €100.
Band B: CO2 emissions between 121 and 140 grams per kilometre – motor tax rate of €150.
Band C: CO2 emissions between 141 and 155grams per kilometre – motor tax rate of €290.
Band D: CO2 emissions between 156 and 170 grams per kilometre – motor tax rate of €430.
Band E: CO2 emissions between 171 and 190grams per kilometre – motor tax rate of €600.
Band F: CO2 emissions between 191 and 225 grams per kilometre – motor tax rate of €1,000.
Band G: top band – CO2 emissions of over 225grams per kilometre - motor tax rate of €2,000.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Gas thirsty cars punished with £5,000 Congestion charge

Soon all band G cars entering the congestion charge zone will pay £25. The price spike is fuelled under the new and long anticipated plans to target the most polluting vehicles, in an urban attempt to tackle climate change.

The strategy, condemned in Kensigton and Chelsea, concerns vehicles of Band G, producing more than 225 gramms/km of CO2. TFL’s view on the charges remains over generalised and unfocused. “The proposed new charges would apply only to the largest and most polluting vehicles. The overwhelming majority of these are in Band G. Some of the worst examples produce two or three times as much greenhouse gases as the average family car”. TFL argues the plan’s mere intention is to encourage people to drive less-polluting vehicles.

Furthermore, the new legislation will “nick” motorists, residenting within the charging zone, of their discount and the price will inevitably rise from 80p to £25. This will affect around 19,000 people currently registered for the congestion charge resident's discount. On the other hand, least polluting vehicles in bands A and B are rewarded with a 100 per cent discount.

Transport for London will earn an extra £100m a year and spokesman Nigel Wonnacott expressed his certainty that measures “Will eventually be extended to all of London so motorists all over the capital should beware”. Unfortunately, claims that the higher charge will affect larger families who needed to use bigger cars and would make very little difference to the environment remain unchallenged. Council deputy leader Daniel Moylan said it was 'spiteful', adding: “The Mayor is suggesting that one person would pay 30 times more than their neighbour with a slightly less polluting car.”

Friday, March 14, 2008

Lightning GT-Electric Supercar

Does your knowledge on electric cars ranges only from G-Wiz to Toyota Prius? Then there is a whole world which will unfold for your eyes only starting from these few humble lines. Before you start wondering what electric cars have anything to do with the astonishing model in the photo you can’t recognize, stop thinking for a second.

When back in 2006 The Lightning Car Company announced a project on developing electric technology for a British supercar most people thought they are having a laugh. "Let them laugh" said those environment considerate maniacs and went on and designed Lightning GT. The name might be slightly on the tacky side but I couldn’t care less.

Lightning GT is an electric supercar, powered by NanoSafe™ and is proud to present features such as 700 bhp, 0-62 mph in less than 4’’ and top speed of over 130mph. Dressed up in classic British sports car outfit, racing technology and state of the art battery power & engine technology this car is years ahead. It is actually designed and developed thoroughly in the UK, showing of looks attracting even those arrogant Jaguar XK drivers. The Lightning GT produces NO emissions, it charges up in 10’ sufficient for 250 miles and is equipped with some kind of alien technology charging up the battery when braking, slowing down or travelling downhill!!

You are stubborn tough cookie if I haven’t talked you into selling your Ferrari yet. Oh, forgot to add in the packet no congestion charge or road taxes, rewarding a absolute A grade green rating and driving costs 10 times cheaper that its petrol running rivals. Need more? Right, sorry I forgot the satellite navigation and iPod interface and for those weirdoes who love the engine sound Lightning GT comes with virtual engine sound and no danger of the tank blowing up!!

Yeah, now get rid of that Ferrari; I think Lightning comes in red as well.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Top Gear-Jeremy Clarson Drive on Mobile

There has never been such a fuss over driving and talking on the phone as the recent incident involving poor Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson. Allegedly, Jeremy was caught on a mobile camera being on his mobile phone while driving. Apparently the incident took place in Oxfordshire, where he lives. The BBC broadcaster was driving a rare 1970s 6.3-litre green, left-hand drive V8 600 Grosser Mercedes on 70mph on the M40.

Adam Blake, 22, and Hayley Byford, 21, reported to Mirror newspaper they say Mr. Clarkson on the phone will overtaking them in his car. "We could not believe that we'd caught him out." Mr. Blake's girlfriend was the one who noticed the incident and took the picture with her mobile, quite conveniently as the car Jeremy Clarkson was supposed to be driving was a left-hand drive.

Jeremy Clarkson denied his involvement in the incident, while a Top Gear spokesperson refused to comment, dealing with the matter as external to BBC. Drivers caught using mobiles while driving face three points on their licence and a £60 fine. I can see though, how focused on the street would be an inexperienced 22 year old driver, when his girlfriend goes hysterical looking for her mobile phone trying to take a picture of a 48 year old famous presenter - one the most experienced drivers in the world - who is overtaking them on 70mph.
Don't you guys have anything better to do while driving?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Car-Radar

The idea of radar use in the automotive industry isn't not hot news. The main issues depriving the industry of this technology have been size and cost but as we speak automobile manufacturers are closing up on developing devices more suitable for commercial car use.

Radar rivals devices like laser and infrared vision currently equipped extensively on various car models with main advantage being its ability to operate effectively with rain, fog and snow.

Primarily car radars will provide the following functions:
  • Navigation - indication of route ahead
  • Collision warning - appropriate action when unavoidable collision
  • Cruise control - constant speed or car distance
  • Airbag pre-crash sensing - airbag set off prior to collision
  • Stop and go' functionality - for dense city traffic in low speed

Nevertheless, there are still vital problems to be overcome before the technology is suitable for practical use. One of the most important one being the device's ability to "see" both big and small targets. Radars use the echo received from objects when beaming electromagnetic waves, so accurate readings become a task even more complex when in a tunnel where concrete walls reflect the echo used by radar. Another issue being dealt with hot air or water puddles reflecting radar waves as they reflect light. The radar totally confused receives an upside-down mirror image resulting for example a puddle on the road to be mistaken for a very deep hole.

Finally, the most important feature lacking from car radars is warning against police radars. Bats have developed definitely more sophisticated radars, which function perfectly even when thousands of them fly together. Maybe radar manufacturers should work with Sir David Attenborough and try to figure out what they are doing wrong.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

"Auto Brake" by Volvo

Frankfurt Motor Show will host Volvo with its new Collision Warning with Auto Brake. This is a warning system which automatically pre-charges the car brakes in case a rear end collision ahead is about to happen.

The system will be an option offered with Adaptive Distance Alert on and Cruise Control in the Volvo V70, S80 and XC70 and will cost about 1,300 pounds.

The function of this system is based on a radar and camera that detects vehicles ahead whether stationary or moving. Once it detects anything suspicious, an audio signal sounds to alert the car driver while on the head-up a light display flashes. Subsequently, the brakes are pre-charged and then activated automatically if an imminent collision is detected by the system.

Adaptive Cruise Control is offered with the option of maintaining a steady distance from the car ahead while cruising.

Moreover, Distance Alert helps the driver to keep a safe distance to the vehicle ahead even though the Adaptive Cruise Control is not activated, by simply displaying visual information on the head-up display.

British weather though may cause problems to the system's function as fog, poor light or snow make the system unusable.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Blame my Blackberry for car accident

Few months ago, a random car accident took place in Illinois, USA. Quite trivial on first glance – an unfortunate 70-year-old woman driving a small car was hit by a van; nothing special really. The story though, unfolded by US media, revealed the inevitable consequence of a recent frenzy in blackberry usage.

The driver, an electric company employee, consulted his blackberry device in order to navigate himself, as he was completely lost. Regrettably for him and the poor old woman, he didn’t care to pull over in order to plot his route efficiently, resulting into him running through a red light, in broad day light on a clear day and ramming the lady’s vehicle. The victim underwent five surgeries as a result of the crash, 2 of which on her neck. The case was settled with a staggering $4.1 million compensation, covered by his company’s insurance.

On this side of the ocean, a similar in stupidity accident took place in cosmopolitan Mayfair, London a few weeks ago. A 43-year-old male was driving a black Jaguar on Piccadilly heading west, fiddling with his BlackBerry and completely ignorant to believe traffic ahead on Piccadilly might come to a stop. What followed could have gone horribly wrong. He crashed in the rear of a van, causing an accident involving 3 cars with the later ending the “crash race” smashing into bus route 8 carrying 12 passengers. There were no serious injuries reported in this incident, nevertheless the accident led the London traffic authorities to conduct a study and consider intensifying penalties for lawbreakers.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

German legend relives - VW Sciroco

The 70's legendary Volkswagen Scirocco has returned. Born from the divine hand of Giorgetto Giugiaro back in 1974, Sciroco landmarked a major part of the most important era in automotive design and technology.
Practical sport cars and coupe vehicles for everyday use started emerging in the European market targeting an extensive consumer group. It was an excellent choice for all those new drivers anticipating to put their newly acquired skills into test, or should we say onto the asphalt. But it was also a tempting sin for the matures drivers bored of their heavy sedan and fancy something more... perky.

The all new Sciroco is here. Based on IROC, a model first introduced to the public in Paris Motor Show 2006, the new model will be arriving the European markets fairly soon. Sciroco will be available with three TSI (gasoline direct-injection) engines of 122, 160 or 200 hp and a TDI of 140 hp. I was surprised by the hi-tech gizmos in the control system but it was for the 17-inch alloy wheels that put a smile on my face. Sciroco's design does pay tribute to its 70's ancestor, though it certainly looks sharp and stylish. You may notice the elongated roof, providing a little extra legroom for those poor back seat passengers. From a front angle it resembles - and pardon the blasphemy - the new Evo X. It sounds crazy I know, but it does. In the end of the day, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder".


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