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Friday, July 31, 2009

MUGEN tunes the 2010 Honda Insight

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An exciting piece of news for hybrid sports car fans: MUGEN, the experienced Japanese tuning firm responsible for years of Civics and Accords miles in front of their stock counterparts, has developed and released a tuning program for the as-yet-unreleased Honda Insight.

While the Insight is similar to the Prius in nearly every way, including styling and powertrain, the very idea of a TRD Prius sounds completely ridiculous. MUGEN's relationship with Honda is longstanding, think Ford and Roush here in the States, and you can bet that if a MUGEN-tuned Honda Insight is making such a loud entrance, it is fully sanctioned by the Insight's builder.

Specifics under the hood are nothing fancy by tuner car standards. A new performance intake is paired with an oil cooler to supposedly keep the gasoline and electric motors stoked and cooled, and larger, wider alloys should make a huge difference on the road.

If Honda's current product line is any indication, a factory Insight should prove more agile and spirited in driving than its Toyota hybrid counterpart. MUGEN would not be putting their name in front of the car without some degree of confidence that the Insight tuning package makes a tangilble performance difference.

The new MUGEN Honda Insight even features an aero kit MUGEN claimes significantly improves the Insight's already-stellar aerodynamics, complete with rear spoiler. What?

The MUGEN-tuned Honda Insight is not expected to be offered as a standalone model in the United States, but enterprising tuners will of course get their hands on the parts. A Ronn Scorpion, Tesla or Fisker is one thing, but a sub-$20,000 hybrid car with real tuner potential?

Depending on critical reception to the 2010 Honda Insight's driving dynamics, the MUGEN Insight may seem like one of the greatest business decisions in the entire energy efficient car industry, or a big joke.

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ITALIA - Ferrari’s innovative new V8

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The 458 Italia is the latest incarnation of the mid-rear engined berlinetta and will be unveiled at the next Frankfurt Motor Show

Maranello, July 28th 2009 – While it’s true that every Ferrari is innovative by definition, it’s equally true that in the course of the Prancing Horse’s history, certain cars have marked a genuine departure from the current range. This is very much the case with the Ferrari 458 Italia, which is a massive leap forward from the company’s previous mid-rear engined sports cars.

The new model is a synthesis of style, creative flair, passion and cutting-edge technology, characteristics for which Italy as a nation is well-known. For this reason Ferrari chose to add the name of its homeland to the traditional figure representing the displacement and number of cylinders.

The Ferrari 458 Italia is a completely new car from every point of view: engine, design, aerodynamics, handling, instrumentation and ergonomics, just to name a few.

A two-seater berlinetta, the Ferrari 458 Italia, as is now traditional for all Ferrari’s road-going cars, benefits hugely from the company’s Formula 1 experience. This is particularly evident in the speed and precision with which the car responds to driver inputs and in the attention focused on reducing internal friction in the engine for lower fuel consumption than the F430, despite the fact that both overall displacement and power have increased. However, Ferrari’s track experience makes its presence felt in the 458 Italia not only in terms of pure technological transfer but also on a more emotional level, because of the strong emphasis on creating an almost symbiotic relationship between driver and car. The 458 Italia features an innovative driving environment with a new kind of steering wheel and dashboard that is the direct result of racing practice. Once again input from Michael Schumacher - who was involved from the very start of the 458 Italia project - played an invaluable part.

The Ferrari 458 Italia’s Pininfarina design provides further evidence of the complete departure from the past that this new car hails. The Ferrari 458 Italia has a compact, aerodynamic shape, underscoring the concepts of simplicity, efficiency and lightness that inspired the project. As with every Ferrari, the car’s styling has been very heavily influenced by the requirements for aerodynamic efficiency, as can be seen from the downforce of 140 kg at 200km/h generated by the new model. The front features a single opening for the front grille and side air intakes, with aerodynamic sections and profiles designed to direct air to the coolant radiators and the new flat underbody. The nose also sports small aeroelastic winglets which generate downforce and, as speed rises, deform to reduce the section of the radiator inlets and cut drag.

The new 4499 cc V8 is the first Ferrari direct injection engine to be mid-rear mounted. It has a very low piston compression height typical of racing engines which contributed to achieving its compression ratio of 12.5:1. Equipped with the traditional flat-plane crankshaft, the engine delivers 570 CV at 9000 rpm and, with an outstanding power output of 127 CV/litre, sets a new benchmark not only for the whole Ferrari range and the history of company, but also for the entire market segment. Maximum torque is 540 Nm at 6000 rpm, over 80 per cent of which is available from 3250 rpm. Specific torque is a record 120 Nm/litre. However, what is truly extraordinary is the amount of torque available while still maintaining high levels of power at low revs.

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