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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fast And Furious 4 - The Trailer

Rendered Speculation: Nissan 240/Fairlady Z

By Clinton Deacon
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The Nissan Z-cars usually refers to the sportscars manufactured by the brand, this range currently only has one occupant in the form of the 350Z. We already know this model will go slightly upmarket with its new 3.7 liter engine which will see the model renamed as 370Z, thus it leaves a large enough gap in its portfolio to launch a new model.

An entry level rear-wheel-drive sportscar has been stuck in the rumour mill over the last couple of years and these new renderings from Polish designer Iacoski are only likely to stimulate the discussions once again.

Iacoski's love of the old Fairlady inspired him to create a new modern version, the long front bonnet, short rear end and smooth curvaceous roof profile clearly pays homage to the series. Obviously recent Nissan design styles have influenced the renderings, we can clearly see a front fascia mimicking the design of the GT-R.

Audi Creates GT3 Race Version of the R8 - Power boosted to 500hp

By Clinton Deacon
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The Audi R8 is a race car in itself and it would be wrong to deny it the opportunity to enter into some of the great races of the world. We are now happy to report that within a year the first full GT3-spec race versions of the Audi R8 will be coming out of the factory doors.

"The R8 is the first production Audi bearing the name and genes of a successful racing sportscar and is therefore an excellent base from which to build up our first big customer sport programme,” explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "Ever since the R8 was unveiled we’ve been inundated with enquiries about a race version. With the Audi R8 we will offer customers a racing sportscar equipped with high-calibre technology and the typical Audi qualities, but which is nevertheless easy to handle.”

Power for the model has been boosted to 500hp and the engineers have also digged deep into the technics to conform with GT3 standards. The four-wheel-drive system had to be replaced with a more conventional GT rear-wheel drive system and it is also equipped with a newly developed six-speed sports sequential gear box. Additional downforce is achieved with the huge rear wing as well as a modified front end.

Audi plans to race the model for the first time some time during the 2009 season.

2009 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV Sport

By: James Riswick
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There's a certain type of executive in this country, one who doesn't go to work in a big-city high rise and one who's never going to be interviewed by that screaming guy on CNBC. Instead, this working-class exec has an office attached to the company's frozen food factory or the paper distribution warehouse. He (or she, certainly) makes good money and desires a luxury car, but doesn't want to show up flaunting a fancy-pants Bimmer or Benz in the same parking lot as the employees' Saturns and Sunfires. Or perhaps more likely, the company car policy just doesn't include that Bimmer and Benz.

For our working-class exec, we can think of no better car than the 2009 Nissan Maxima. With all its luxe bells and high-tech whistles, this is an honest-to-goodness luxury sedan for those who don't want or can't have the stigma or price associated with a luxury badge. This is a darn good car that rights the deviated course of a nameplate once dubbed the "4-Door Sports Car." While the 2009 Maxima is not quite the 4DSC its marketers are touting once again, it is a car with few flaws that's one of the best-handling front-drive sedans available — and that's without our test car's Sport package that sullied the ride.

This entire working-class exec concept might seem a little counterintuitive in today's America that's obsessed with designer labels, celebrity restaurants and the biggest wheels they can fit on their ride. So really, it wouldn't be surprising if high-end Maximas like our test car struggle to move from dealerships — a $37,000 price tag on a Nissan will be a tough pill to swallow given that vehicles with more desirable badges are available for the same price. However, those similarly priced cars don't come with all of the Maxima's neat-o toys, while several are quite simply inferior. We just hope there are enough working-class execs around to take notice.

Like all Maximas, our Sport model was powered by a 3.5-liter V6 good for 290 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which provides infinite "gear" ratios that keep the engine in its ideal power band. It also maximizes fuel economy, which is an EPA-estimated 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.

At our test track, the Maxima 3.5 SV Sport test car achieved a 0-60-mph time of 6.3 seconds, which is in the ballpark of top entry-level luxury cars' performance. In the real world, the potent V6 felt equally strong, and unlike other CVTs, the Maxima's is well suited to its engine. Still, those who've never driven a CVT-equipped car may initially feel like the Maxima is stuck in a hopelessly tall 1st gear, but most get used to it. The CVT can simulate six gear ratios that are controlled via steering-column paddles or the console lever. This mode can be quite fun during aggressive driving thanks to its lightning-quick shift response.

A particular bright spot in the generally shining 2009 Nissan Maxima is the wonderfully light and precise steering that should be appreciated by both driving enthusiasts and casual commuters alike. With its combination of low-friction weighting and high feedback, the Maxima's steering can be manipulated with the delicate touch of one's fingertips on the well-formed steering wheel as every nuance of the road is transmitted from tires to skin. This, in combination with a taut chassis derived from the Altima, produces impressive handling that should please all but the most demanding enthusiasts
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

First Drive: 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

By Shaun Bailey • Photos by Marc Urbano
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This is not a happy day for other exotic-car owners. The $103,000 super Vette, the ZR1, is out. Its 638 horsepower was unleashed on a select group of journalists at GM's Milford proving grounds near Detroit for a controlled drive. A testament to the ZR1's civility and balance is the fact that no one crashed, although a few orange cones were sacrificed to Jake. Who's Jake, you ask? He's the evil-eyed skull mascot for Badboy Vettes that's emblazoned on the C6.R racer and has made his first appearance on a production Corvette, worn proudly on the ZR1's intake ducting.

Rather than see journalists jeopardize their driver's licenses by letting Jake out onto the street, GM had us drive their new baby around what is commonly referred to as the Lutz ring — a technical track whose corners simulate those from great circuits the world over. The focus is testing driveability. Most notable is the bowl-turn that simulates the Nürburgring's famous carousel.

For our limited drive, we were kept off the bowl and our speeds were hampered by a mid-course cone chicane. Even so, our top speed was well above 100 mph and nearly the entire track could be done in 3rd gear. With the massive twist of 604 lb.-ft. of torque on tap, it behooved us to avoid dropping to 2nd gear, except for the slowest of corners.

As expected, the supercharged LS9 superbly blends the Z06's raucous LS7 with the smoothness of the modern LS3. At idle there is only a hushed V-8 warble, yet get to 3000 rpm with intent and a pleasant snarl emanates. Knowing that there is an extra 133 horsepower on tap, beyond the already terror-instilling Z06's 505, I worked my way up to applying full throttle. Surprisingly, the ZR1 is far superior to the Z06 in driveability, refinement and speed.

Everything we gripe about in the Z06 — aside from the unsupportive seats — has been remedied. The twitchy rear end is gone, thanks to Magnetic Ride Control that allows for softer springs and heavier anti-roll bars. At times on the track I'd think, If I were in a Z06, I'd never go flat over this rise, but in the ZR1 the confidence and road-holding abilities are there.

Surely, the custom-made run-flat Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires have something to do with the car's confidence-inspiring grip, but really it's a combination of all the things the Corvette Team has done, like losing 22 pounds of unsprung mass. Unfortunately this savings didn't make up for the additional 182 lb. on board as the ZR1 weighs 3325 lb., 160 lb. more than the Z06.

Even with the extra weight, the carbon-ceramic Brembo brakes with the new Bosch brake controls are fantastic. Not as light feeling as the Z06 pedal, the ZR1's takes a heavy linear pressure, but rewards with consistency and repeatability. A new non-linear steering rack gives improved response that necessitates fewer steering inputs, but doesn't result in a heavy or quick off-center feel. Bending the car through the corners is easy and doesn't induce a lot of sweat. At the limit in steady-state flat cornering, the ZR1 exhibits light understeer; surprisingly, it doesn't step the rear end out easily under quick transitions or overly aggressive throttle inputs.

This is likely due to the intelligent damping system of the Magnetic Ride Control and smooth torque delivery. The MRC system is transparent, but adapts to driving situations. For example, drag launches are recognized and the system optimally sets the rear dampers to full soft. There is no launch control — yet. With two nominal settings of Touring and Sport being manually selectable, the driver can adjust ride harshness, making the trip to the track more livable than in a Z06.

There's something ridiculous about a street car that can do 66 mph in 1st gear and has a tight-ratio 6-speed that allows for a top speed in excess of 200 mph. Who can afford the gasoline or the speeding tickets? However, it must be noted that for "social responsibility," said Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter, there is an electronic limiter set for 210 mph. Yet if one disabled the limiter and managed to turn up the boost beyond 10.5 psi, the ZR1 runs out of gear at 215 mph. It's only a matter of time before a tuned ZR1 breaks that barrier.

So, if you own a Viper, Ferrari, Porsche or other supercar that typically picks on the Corvette, let this be a warning — as it might have a little Jake lurking under the hood.

TechArt GTstreet - One of the most potent street-legal machines ever.

By Matt DeLorenzo, Photos by John Lamm
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Aftermarket tuners, especially German ones, simply love the Porsche 911 Turbo. TechArt is no different, turning its considerable talents to Zuffenhausen’s 997 edition of the 911 Turbo to create one of the most potent street-legal machines ever.

The GTstreet edition turns up the boost on a pair of BorgWarner Variable Turbine Geometry (VTG) turbochargers to add an extra 150 bhp, extracting a total of 630 bhp and 605 lb.-ft. of torque from Porsche’s 3.6-liter flat 6 engine.

This massive infusion of power produces some stunning performance figures. According to TechArt, the GTstreet is capable of 0-62 mph acceleration of just 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 214 mph. In just 10.9 seconds, the car can reach 124 mph.

In addition to the engine modifications, the GTstreet is equipped with carbon- ceramic brakes with 6-piston front and 4-piston rear calipers. The all-wheel-drive system with its factory installed stability-control system is retained.

Extensive wind-tunnel testing resulted in a striking body design. The GTstreet has larger front openings, a front splitter and lower, wider side rockers that channel air upward into the rear intakes. At the rear is a large wing set at an optimum angle to generate the downforce needed to counteract lift when the car is at top speed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Heffner Lamborghini Gallardo Spews 930 BHP

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Violent explosions heard at the Heffner home aren’t of three blonde bombshells posing for pictures. That’s a different Heffner. This one’s in Florida and them explosions are real enough, happening beneath the surface of a Lamborghini Gallardo’s bonnet. Thereupon they make a stupid 694kW at the wheels and peak torque of 1032Nm, which is just as dumb. Even dumber is the possibility that Heffner Performance will ‘disable’ the car’s standard AWD system to put traction responsibilities solely at the feet of the rear wheels.

The twin turbos mated to Gallardo’s 5.0-litre V10 have ensured excellent performance credentials at the feet of the supreme commander; the driver. Mods to suit the package are extensive, including polished crankshaft journals, steel cylinder liners, a heavy-duty clutch to cope, uprated fuel and water pumps and a water-cooled intercooler. The exterior is fitted with carbon-fiber decklid at the rear, a diffuser and spoiler Superleggera-like.

2008 Carlsson S 600 CK65 RS Blanchimont

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Following the Carlsson Aigner CK65 RS Eau Rouge, automobile manufacturer Carlsson, a firm that specializes in refinements for Mercedes Benz, has introduced its next limited edition luxury car: the Carlsson Aigner CK65 RS Blanchimont. Conceived in collaboration with the leather and lifestyle brand Etienne Aigner AG and developed by the Carlsson engineers, this luxury limousine, produced in an exclusive small series, catches the mood of an international clientele precisely. Inside the car the fine leather fittings, offset by a combination of selected woods, Alcantara and aluminium, bewitch and beguile. On the outside, the Blanchimont is discreet, sporty and seductive, with exclusive two-colour paintwork.

The fragrance of Etienne Aigner leather permeates the interior

The vehicle’s interior trim and upholstery were created by the world-famous lifestyle brand Etienne Aigner. A combination of the renowned Aigner leather and Aigner Alcantara invite the viewer to climb inside and savour the ambience. The highest level of workmanship characterises the newly-created interior. The ergonomic design of the Carlsson sports steering wheel in leather and in Alcantara turns driving and controlling the Carlsson Aigner into a particularly enjoyable tactile experience. Carlsson aluminium sports pedal pads, illuminated door sill protectors and further visual touches all point the way into a world of luxorious elegance.

It goes without saying that the Carlsson Aigner CK65 RS Blanchimont is only supplied fully equipped with all comfort and safety features. Navigation system, automatic air-conditioning system, ventilated seats with memory function, Carlsson multi-function steering wheel, Distronic, Parktronic, Comand, TV function, KeylessGo and many other inclusive options round off the appointments of the luxury coupe. Moreover, the interior colour scheme can be chosen from more than 30 different combinations. Processing the natural materials is time cosuming and calls for the highest degree of perfection and quality. The Aigner leather, the Aigner Alcantara and the matching wood trim are fitted exclusively by hand. Hence, in the view of the fact that the individual stages call for cooling and setting phases, the production and installation of the entire interior takes over two weeks.

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