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Ferrari F12 Berlinetta (2012) 29
Posted by Kelly Levinsohn in Automotive News, Autostyle, Super car news on 02 29th, 2012

FerrariF12Berlinettasideview Ferrari F12 Berlinetta (2012)

The new 2012 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, the new 599 successor, will be unveiled at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. The new front-engined V12 supercar from Maranello will be revealed in a glitzy three-layer Rosso Berlinetta paint colour.

The F12 Berlinetta is the most powerful road car ever produced by the Italians with the 6262cc V12 deploying 730bhp at 8500rpm and 509lb ft at 6000rpm. In terms of its actual speed, Maranello quotes ‘over 340kph’ reaching 0-62mph in just 3.1 seconds but Ferrari is making great claims over the dynamics too calling it a ‘mid-front-engined sports car’, with the V12 mounted far back under the bonnet for more neutral handling.

The packaging of the vehicle is as interesting as it styling at 4618mm long, it’s shorter than the Ferrari 599 it replaces, with a stubbier wheelbase and the gearbox slung out back in a traditional transaxle. The engine, dashboard and seats are all lower to reduce the centre of gravity.

Long-time technical and design partner Scaglietti assisted in designing the aluminium spaceframe chassis and bodyshell using a dozen different types of alloy to cut weight by 70kg. Weighing in at 1525kg, with no fluids, Ferrari claims the structure is 20% more rigid, despite being lighter and no need for composites, says Maranello.

Active aero plays a major part in F12′s appearance. Something called the Aero Bridge at the nose generates downforce at the front by channelling air away from the top of the lid and along the flanks where it hits turbulent air from the wheels to decrease drag. Active brake cooling ducts open only at high temperatures to cool the carbon discs, minimising drag by remaining flush for most of the time.

This 6.2-litre V12 has its banks set at 65deg. It’s naturally aspirated – no downsizing here – yet 80% of that 509lb ft torque spike is available from 2500rpm. A twin-clutch F1 transmission promises quick gear changes and clever calibration brings a 30% cut in fuel consumption to around 18mpg, while Ferrari claims 350g/km of CO2.

While no price has been set yet it is expected to be priced somewhere between the GTB and GTO at an estimated £250,000.

View more images below:

FerrariF12BerlinettaRear 150x150 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta (2012)
FerrariF12Berlinettaside 150x150 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta (2012)
FerrariF12BerlinettaFront 150x150 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta (2012)
FerrariF12BerlinettaCabin 150x150 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta (2012)
FerrariF12Berlinettainterior 150x150 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta (2012)

Source: Car Magazine

VW Golf GTI Cabriolet First Pics 29
Posted by Kelly Levinsohn in Automotive News, Autostyle, Popular on 02 29th, 2012

golf cabriolet gti 2012 VW Golf GTI Cabriolet First Pics

This is the new 2012 VW Golf GTI Cabriolet that Volkswagen will unveil at the upcoming Geneva motor show in March. The new model, shown in pictures above and below, is a 208bhp hot hatch-cum-convertible and is essentially what you get when you mix a Golf GTI and a Golf Cabriolet.

VW first unveiled the latest Golf Cabriolet at the Geneva motor show last year and now, a year on, the German car company is revealing its quickest ever open-top Golf with a turbocharged and direct injection 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine producing 208bhp and 206lb ft. It drives the front wheels via either a six-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox and Volkswagen’s locking differential-aping electronic XDS.

Both manual and DSG versions are four-tenths slower to 62mph (at 7.3 seconds), and a little dirtier, the manual returning 37.1mpg and 177g/km to the GTI hatchback’s 170g/km CO2 and 38.7mpg, while the DSG version manages 36.7mpg and 180g/km to the DSG GTI hatch’s 173g/km and 38.2mpg. All the top speeds are just under 150mph.

All the GTI styling is included in this Cabriolet with the honeycomb grille and iconic red frame, full GTI bodykit and twin exhausts. The interior offers tartan trimmed seats. The roof fabric is the same as the GTI and takes 9.5 seconds to open and 11 to close which it can do at speeds of 19mph.

golf cabriolet gti 2012 closed top 150x150 VW Golf GTI Cabriolet First Pics
golf cabriolet gti 2012 rear 150x150 VW Golf GTI Cabriolet First Pics
golf cabriolet gti 2012 side 150x150 VW Golf GTI Cabriolet First Pics
golf cabriolet gti 2012 interior 150x150 VW Golf GTI Cabriolet First Pics

Source: Car Magazine

Chevy Sells A Third Of The Sports Cars In The U.S. 28
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, car sales, Chevrolet, Chevy Camaro, Chevy Corvette, Kurt, News on 02 28th, 2012

Chevy's Corvette ZR1 and Camaro ZL1

In 2011, the Chevrolet Camaro earned a 37-percent share of the sports car market in the United States, while its Corvette sibling picked up 28-percent of the luxury sports car market. Some 88,249 customers took delivery of a new Camaro last year, while 13,164 buyers snapped up a Corvette. The Camaro’s closest rival was the Ford Mustang, which sold 70,438 units last year, followed by the Dodge Challenger, which sold 39,534 copies. The Corvette, on the other hand, more than doubled the sales of its closest competitor, the Porsche 911, of which just 6,016 examples were sold.

GM’s North American president, Mark Reuss, attributes the success to the cars’ flexibility, saying, “Unlike many competitors’ performance cars, the Corvette ZR1 and Camaro ZL1 are appropriate for both daily drivers and track use from the factory – with standard coolers for brakes and drivetrain.” In other words, both cars can be used to win on Sunday, commute on Monday.

Chevy has even bigger goals for 2012 with the launch of the Camaro ZL1, which packs some 580 horsepower from a supercharged, 6.2-liter LSA V-8. At Virginia International Raceway, the ZL1 recently shaved six seconds off the published lap time of a 2011 Shelby GT500 Mustang, but don’t expect the ZL1 to be top dog for long. Ford is bringing a 650 horsepower Shelby GT500 to market in 2013, and we expect it will rise to the challenge of beating the ZL1’s lap time.

At the end of the day it’s academic, since there are Ford guys and there are Chevy guys. Regardless of which car is faster, we doubt performance will be enough to change a hardcore fan’s mind.

Kia Takes Wraps off of new (K9) KH Concept Flagship RWD Luxury Sedan 28
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in Automotive, Kia, Kia K9, Kia KH, News on 02 28th, 2012

In the realm of automotive game changers and earth shakers, Kia has received their official membership with the introduction of their all-new Kia flashship sedan (code named K9 and KH). Following several leaked sketches and teaser images, Kia has taken the wraps off of what will launch the Korean car brand into the cutthroat large Luxury sedan segment.

The new Kia luxury sedan, being Kia’s very first rear-wheel-drive large sedan, gets a new level of features and technologies to offer extreme value over its competitors. Being that the large-sedan luxury market is filled with several prestigious automobiles with a long lineage; the new Kia sedan will have its work cut out for it when it comes to the initial perception.

Having its underpinnings shared with the Hyundai Genesis and Equus, the new Kia will have an excellent base to work off of. The big 5.0-liter V8 powerplant as well-as the BMW-reminiscent looks won’t hurt things either. An official name for the new Kia has yet to be determined. The name K9 has been mentioned in some areas of the world while KH was its official code name. Kia wants Facebook fans to help them think of a name. You can do so by heading over to the official Kia Facebook page and give them your name selection.

First Camaro ZL1 Crashed At Virginia International Raceway 28
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2012 Camaro ZL1, Automotive, Chevrolet, Crashes, Kurt, News on 02 28th, 2012

The first non-GM crashed Camaro ZL1. Image: Aaron Gold

There is an unwritten rule in automotive journalism that says, “though shalt not stack the press fleet cars.” While the rule applies to any car you’re given the keys to, it applies to a higher degree with pre-launch cars rolled out by automakers to get good press prior to availability. Stack a pre-launch car, and you reduce the population for other journalists to drive. You also become “that guy,” and no one wants to be “that guy.”

This week, “that guy” is Aaron Gold, who just happens to be the vice president of Los Angeles’ Motor Press Guild, as well as a producer at Top Gear USA and an editor for About.com Cars. In other words, lapping VIR in a Camaro ZL1 wasn’t Mr. Gold’s first time on a track in a high-powered car. We don’t know what his driving background is exactly, but as Gold explains on About.com, the accident wasn’t caused by pushing the limits at high speed.

Instead, rain began to fall on the track, bringing oil to the surface. Approaching a corner, Gold was admittedly off-line and fed on too much throttle at the apex. The result, as anyone who’s ever driven a high-horsepower, rear-wheel-drive car in the rain will tell you, was throttle-on oversteer. To his credit, Gold admits that a more talented driver probably could have kept the car off the tire barrier, and GM claims the damage to the press fleet ZL1 was minimal.

What can we learn from Gold’s off-course excursion? First, most of us tend to over-rate our driving abilities. On a track, in a fresh rain, a 580 horsepower car demands instant respect, and everything must be done to keep the car balanced. We’re guessing that Gold was lapping with the electro-nannies turned off, which makes for impressive, tail-out power slides through corners on dry pavement, but ups the penalty for a mistake in the rain exponentially. A higher gear, as Gold admits, probably would have been a better idea, as would sticking to a clean part of the racetrack (staying on line).

We’re off to drive the Nissan GT-R at Palm Beach International Raceway tomorrow, so Gold’s lesson will be fresh on our minds. Gold’s time in the “that guy” seat will be limited, but we sure as hell don’t want to be the journalists who displace him.

Pininfarina Cambiano Concept Leaked 28
Posted by Kelly Levinsohn in Autostyle, Concept car news, Green Auto, Super car news on 02 28th, 2012

pininfarinas cambiano concept front Pininfarina Cambiano Concept Leaked

Named for the city that Pininfarina calls home, its Cambiano concept may just be the sexiest plug-in diesel hybrid ever created. While the vehicle will make its official debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show, Pininfarina chose to release some of its concept shots in advance.

The Cambiano is powered by batteries, a diesel-fueled turbine or both and propelled by an electric motor at each wheel. The car gives a maximum output equivalent to 816 horsepower and can sprint from 0-100 km/h in just 4.2 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 155 mph.

While showing-off a supercar performance, the Cambiano was primarily designed to be environmentally friendly and so emits just 45 grams of CO2 per km which should be clean enough for the car to be compliant with future Euro 7 emissions standards.

The turbo-diesel powered supercar is the first to be designed by Pininfarina’s new CEO Fabio Filippini, who came to the design firm from Renault. Filippini admits that the  inspiration for the Cambiano’s design came from the 1957 Lancia Florida II, and that the design attempts to create a pure form with a strong impact, evident by its minimalist and clean exterior.

The interior completes the car’s environmentally friendly design with recycled oak used on the floor, lower door panels and center console.

pininfarinas cambiano concept side 150x150 Pininfarina Cambiano Concept Leaked
pininfarinas cambiano concept rear 150x150 Pininfarina Cambiano Concept Leaked
pininfarinas cambiano concept interior 150x150 Pininfarina Cambiano Concept Leaked

Source: Motor Authority

Infiniti Emerg-E EV Supercar First Official Pictures 28
Posted by Kelly Levinsohn in Automotive News, Concept car news, Super car news on 02 28th, 2012

infiniti emerge Infiniti Emerg E EV Supercar First Official Pictures

Images of Infiniti’s new electric supercar called the Emerg-E have surfaced ahead of its official debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. The images appear to be the official renderings for the Emerg-E showcasing a vehicle that is both sleek and sporty.

While the technical specs on the Emerg-E have yet to be revealed, the Emerg-E is expected to be a range-extended electric car similar to the Chevrolet Volt. This means that it will be a plug-in hybrid that has a gas engine that acts as a backup generator.

The engine will be mid-mounted for better weight distribution and improved handling, while the electric portion will be similar to the Nissan LEAF’s drivetrain but probably a more advanced battery with greater capacity.

infiniti emerge rear interior 150x150 Infiniti Emerg E EV Supercar First Official Pictures
infiniti emerge side 150x150 Infiniti Emerg E EV Supercar First Official Pictures
infiniti emerge rear 150x150 Infiniti Emerg E EV Supercar First Official Pictures

Source: Slash Gear

BMW Explains The M550d xDrive’s Three Turbo System: Video 27
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, BMW, BMW M550d xDrive, Kurt, Technical, Turbocharging, video, Videos on 02 27th, 2012

Forced induction, in the form of supercharging or turbocharging, coaxes more horsepower out of an engine by cramming in more air. Both methods have fans and detractors, and both methods have their strengths and weaknesses. Superchargers are typically belt driven and therefore scavenge a small-but-measurable amount of power from the engine to operate. Turbochargers use spent exhaust gasses to drive a turbine and compressor, and therefore offer essentially free horsepower.

Turbochargers, however, have their limitations as well. Generally speaking, a smaller turbo, with a low-mass impeller, will spool up quickly but can’t produce significant power beyond midrange. Larger turbos take longer to spool up, (thus producing turbo lag), but typically generate more boost and produce a broader range of power. Twin-turbo systems, which have been in use for years, generally employ both small and large turbos to optimize power delivery across the broadest range possible.

If two turbos are better than one, then three turbos, if properly sized and sequenced, are better than two. That’s the thinking behind the TwinPower Turbo system (which, ironically, uses three turbos) that BMW is employing on the new, diesel-powered M550d xDrive sedan. At low engine speeds, a small turbo provides near-instant boost, before handing the force-feeding duties off to a second, slightly larger turbo. At high engine speeds, a third small turbo comes on line, ensuring that the additional power is delivered seamlessly across an engine’s speed range.

If you get the feeling that the system is complex, you’re correct. As the video below, courtesy of BMW Blog, demonstrates, the plumbing linking the turbos to the engine is complex, and the two smaller turbos benefit from variable geometry compressors. When working optimally, the system should produce impressive power and torque, delivered across an engine’s entire speed range. When something breaks out of warranty, however, owners may not have the option of taking the car to a local mechanic for repairs.

It’s a moot point for those of us on this side of the pond, anyway, since BMW isn’t importing any of the three-turbo diesel models to these shores. That’s probably a good thing, since it allows our Euro neighbors to fully de-bug the system before it comes to the United States. If it comes to the United States.

Video: Jay Leno Takes Spin in 800 Horsepower 2010 Nissan GT-R 27
Posted by Darryl in Automotive, Jay Leno, Jay Leno's Garage, nissan, nissan gt-r, SP Engineering, Tuners on 02 27th, 2012

Jay Leno is an avid fan of keeping many of his cars in their respectful stock form. It isn’t that often that Jay becomes an instant fan of “tuner” cars or those who have been heavily modified. SP Engineering brings Jay a tuned 800 horsepower 2010 Nissan GT-R to check out and take a ride in.

In the exclusive Jay Leno’s Garage video below, Jay explains how Nissan really never had anything that excited him until the GT-R came along. Check out how the 800 horsepower Nissan GT-R, aka Godzilla, puts a smile on Jay’s face and changes his perspective of Nissan. Enjoy!

Land Rover Evoque Convertible 27
Posted by Kelly Levinsohn in 4X4, Autostyle, Concept car news, Popular on 02 27th, 2012

landroverevoqueconvertiblefront Land Rover Evoque Convertible

Land Rover is exploring a convertible version of the Evoque and will make a production decision ‘within six months’. Design director Gerry McGovern unveiled the concept, that will make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month, at Pinewood Studios.

McGovern said that “Land Rover has a history of creating new segments; with the convertible, we believe we have an opportunity to do it again. It’s another twist on the Evoque story.”

The Evoque convertible concept has a powered soft-top roof with a glass rear screen, which is stowed  in a recess below the rear deck. The boot is re-engineered to fold down like the original Mini’s tailgate, while pop up rollover protection would be packaged behind the rear seats.

McGovern and his team were able to neatly package the roof with the help of the Evoque’s waistline, which rises to the rear of the vehicle. The convertible gets a bespoke alloy-wheel design and a pimento red leather interior to contrast  the causeway grey exterior paint.

An engineering team under David Mitchell will look at the underbody stiffening required to compensate for the now convertible roof as there is still some conditioning to do – McGovern is looking into lowering the suspension to drop the body down which ensures that the rear end doesn’t look too bluff and the Evoque’s agile handling is still maintained

After Geneva, Land Rover will show the Evoque convertible at the New York show to gauge reaction in the US market which is critical for convertible sales.

landroverevoqueconvertibletop 150x150 Land Rover Evoque Convertible
landroverevoqeconvertibleside 150x150 Land Rover Evoque Convertible

Source: Car Magazine

The 2012 Hyundai Azera And Equus: Bookends Of Luxury 27
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2012 Hyundai Azera, 2012 Hyundai Equus, Automotive, Car Reviews, Hyundai, Kurt, Luxury Sedans on 02 27th, 2012

The 2012 Hyundai Azera sedan.

When Hyundai entered the U.S. market 25 years ago, few critics took the upstart Korean automaker seriously. Back then, Hyundai was a value brand that offered new cars for less money than the competition, and in 1986 the automaker claimed just 1.1 percent of the new car market. Fast forward to 2011, and Hyundai is now a full-line automaker that produces everything from legitimate sport coupes through luxury cars. It’s shifted from a value brand to a valuable brand, and now accounts for 5.1 percent of new car sales in the United States.

That makes Hyundai the sixth best-selling automaker in the U.S., and the brand currently enjoys a 64 percent retention ranking, the highest in the industry. Last year, its cars sold at an average of 96 percent of sticker price, and the company moved from seventh in residual value to third. Put another way, with modest marketing and very little fanfare, Hyundai has moved from an ancillary brand in the industry to one of its key players.

2012 Hyundai Azera

Part of Hyundai’s success comes from building both gateway vehicles (like the Veloster, Elantra and Sonata) and aspirational vehicles (like the Azera, Genesis and Equus). In fact, the original Azera was the first Hyundai model sold in the U.S. to top the $30k price point, paving the way for Hyundai to launch additional upscale models like the Genesis and Equus sedans.

2012 Hyundai Azera. Image: Hyundai Motor America

As significant as the Azera was, the original version never sold particularly well. It may have offered luxury amenities at a near-luxury price, but interior and exterior styling was best described as “uninspired.” Worse, the model was never actively marketed by Hyundai, who wisely imported only a handful of Azeras each year.

2012 Hyundai Azera. Image: Hyundai Motor America

Despite this, Hyundai believes the market has room for a luxury sedan in the Azera’s price bracket, so it’s introducing an all-new Azera for the 2012 model year. It’s also borrowing a page from Honda’s playbook: rather than launching multiple models with confusing option packages, the Azera will come in just two variants: Base, and with Hyundai’s Tech Package.

2012 Hyundai Azera. Image: Hyundai Motor America

Even base models come surprisingly well equipped. Leather upholstery is standard, as are heated seats for both front and outboard rear passengers. There’s a segment-first standard nav system with back-up camera, dual-zone climate control with rear vents, cooled glove box and manual rear side window sunshades, too. Opt for the Tech Package, and the content list includes 19-inch alloy wheels (up from 18-inch on base models), a panoramic sunroof, HID headlights, a power rear sunshade, and Infinity premium audio system, power adjustable steering wheel, driver’s seat memory, driver’s seat cushion extension, ventilated front seats, parking sensors and ambient interior lighting.

2012 Hyundai Azera

Under the hood, all Azera models get a new Lambda II 3.3-liter V-6 engine, good for 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque, mated to a Hyundai-designed six-speed automatic transmission. At 88.8 horsepower per liter, the engine’s output is best-in-class, yet its combined fuel economy of 23 mpg ties for best-in-class with the Toyota Avalon and Acura TL. According the EPA, the Azera will deliver fuel economy of 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, thanks in part to its Active ECO system that smoothes throttle response and boosts fuel efficiency by up to 7 percent.

2012 Hyundai Azera

All Azera models use a MacPherson strut front suspension and in independent, multi-link rear setup. Sachs “Amplitude Selective” dampers are used to smooth out the ride over rough surfaces, while still delivering crisp turn-in and minimal body roll in corners. We’d stop short of calling the Azera a sport sedan, but it definitely delivers a sporty-but-comfortable ride.

The Azera’s exterior styling now uses Hyundai’s “fluidic sculpture” language, and we say that’s a good thing. Designers incorporated wing styling elements in the front grille, while strong character lines and a rising beltline give the Azera a distinct presence in profile. Out back, wrap-around taillights and exhaust outlets embedded in the rear fascia give the car a modern and upscale appearance.

2012 Hyundai Azera. Image: Hyundai Motor America

Inside, the wing theme carries over to the center stack and dashboard, and the driver’s space is designed to have a cockpit-like feel to it. Interior attention to detail is impressive, with a sculpted crash pad of soft-touch vinyl, metallic trim surrounding the instruments and driver information display, and premium carbon-fiber-look trim. Buyers get a choice of three interior colors as well, including camel, graphite black and chestnut brown.

2012 Hyundai Azera. Image: Hyundai Motor America

On the road, the new Azera accelerates with reasonable authority, turns in quickly with minimal body roll and provides good feel from both steering and brakes. Noise isolation is impressive, and we’d definitely call the Azera luxury-car-quiet at highway speeds. The Sachs dampers are more than just marketing hype as well, delivering a remarkably smooth ride over broken pavement.

2012 Hyundai Azera. Image: Hyundai Motor America

At a starting price of $32,000 for the base Azera ($36,000 for the Azera with the Tech Package), Hyundai’s entry-level-luxury sedan delivers solid value, and will likely give the Nissan Maxima and Toyota Avalon a run for their money. We wouldn’t be surprised to see the Azera pull in a few Acura, Lexus and Infiniti shoppers as well, and we’re sure that Hyundai will have no trouble selling all the Azeras it imports.

Hyundai's Equus flagship sedan. Image: Hyundai Motor America

At the opposite end of Hyundai’s luxury lineup is the 2012 Equus, which is a legitimate competitor to cars like the Lexus LS 460 and the Mercedes Benz S550. New for 2012 is Hyundai’s 5.0-liter Tau V-8, rated at 429 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque, now mated to a Hyundai-developed eight speed automatic transmission.

The 2012 Hyundai Equus. Image: Hyundai Motor America

The Equus’ new drivetrain solves the only issue we had with the original car, which came with a 4.6-liter V-8, good for just 385 horsepower. The original Equus felt down on power compared to rivals from Japan and Germany, while the new version pulls equally hard when you step on the gas. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that fuel economy really hasn’t suffered: the previous Equus was rated at 16 mpg city, 24 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined, while the 5.0-liter V-8 Equus gets a rating of 15 mpg city, 23 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.

The 2012 Hyundai Equus. Image: Hyundai Motor America

As with the Azera, Hyundai’s Equus will be a value-leader in the segment, Base models, called “Signature” in Hyundai-speak, will start at just under $60,000, with Equus Ultimate models priced around $66,000. If you’re in the market for a large, premium-luxury sedan, we’d seriously recommend you give the 2012 Hyundai Equus a look.

BMW’s M135i Concept Bows Before Geneva Debut 24
Posted by Kurt Ernst in auto show, Automotive, BMW, BMW M135i, Concept Vehicle, Geneva Motor Show, Hot Hatchbacks, Kurt on 02 24th, 2012

BMW's M135i hot hatch. Image: BMW AG

BMW’s M Performance line was announced last month, and so far the sub-brand’s focus has been on turbodiesels. That changes with the Geneva debut of the M135i hatchback concept, which, for the record, we want very, very badly to see in the United States. We’re fans of the hatchback, and we question the automakers’ assumption that “Americans won’t buy hatchbacks.” We say they will, especially when they come packaged as nicely as the M135i.

BMW's M135i hot hatch. Image: BMW AG

We like the aggressive 19-inch M-branded wheels, and we appreciate the M Performance striping down the side and on the hatch. We’re confident that the M-tuned suspension will meet out expectations, as will the Twin Power Turbo 3.0-liter inline six under the hood. BMW says the engine is good for “more than” 300 horsepower, which should prove to be plenty entertaining in a car with the M135i’s dimensions.

BMW's M135i hot hatch. Image: BMW AG

It’s very likely that BMW will build and market this car in Europe, but it’s hatchback layout makes it a long shot for the U.S. market. We hope we’re wrong on this, because the car, if priced right, has tremendous potential to bring new buyers into the BMW brand. Last year’s 1-Series M was priced beyond the reach of enthusiasts on a budget, but the M135i doesn’t have to be. We say build it, and bring it to this side of the pond; as long as the car isn’t optioned out with things we don’t need (like leather seating or an automatic climate control) our checkbooks are ready and able to throw down a deposit.

2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Introduces Faster-Shifting TapShift Automatic Transmission 24
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in 2012 Camaro ZL1, Automotive, Chevrolet, Chevrolet Camaro, video on 02 24th, 2012

Technology has become the pinnacle of making cars faster, stronger, safer and more efficient. There is no denying how the automobile has advanced just in the past decade mostly due to major advancements in technology. We have state-of-the-art stability control systems, magnetic suspension dampers, dual-clutch transmissions, new hybrid technologies, direct fuel injection and the list goes on.

General Motors, recapturing the title for the largest automaker in the world, has been at the forefront of adopting and innovating many of these new technological advancements. To further emphasize new technological advancements in the automotive industry, Chevrolet is offering new Camaro ZL1 with an optional TapShift automatic transmission. The TapShift function takes the optional six-speed automatic transmission in the ZL1 to new heights by improving tap-shifting response times to as much as 60%.

The TapShift innovation in the new Camaro ZL1, thanks to new software algorithms, will essentially stage hydraulic pressure in the clutch for the next gear change. This will help reduce shifting delays for 1-2, 2-3, 3-4 and 4-5 shifts accordingly by 200 to 300 milliseconds. This will ultimately make the Camaro ZL1 automatic transmission version about a tenth of a second faster than the 6-speed manual. That means getting the most out of the 580 horsepower 6.2-liter V8 engine and laying down a solid and consistent 0-60mph time of 3.9 seconds.

With today’s automotive enthusiasts, every millisecond means the world to someone who wants to carry around the title for having baddest, and supposedly the fastest, sports car on the road amongst his or her peers. Some enthusiasts will argue that you can’t beat a manual transmission and others will back the case that you simply cannot outrun a computer. Either way, it seems Chevrolet will have something to contribute for both ends of the spectrum by offering an advanced TapShift automatic transmission and capable 6-speed manual in the new ZL1. In my opinion, Chevrolet could have joined the dual-clutch bandwagon and equipped the new ZL1 with a transmission that rivals Nissan’s Godzilla (GT-R) as an option.

The new 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will start arriving at dealerships this spring with a price starting at $54,095. The TapShift transmission will be available as a $1,185 option on the ZL1. Other vehicles receiving the improved TapShift automatic feature will be the new Cadillac CTS-V and Corvette automatics.

The video below demonstrates the improved TapShift transmission from Gabe Gibson, a Performance Car Calibration Engineer at GM.

Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse 24
Posted by Kelly Levinsohn in Automotive News, Autostyle, Popular, Super car news on 02 24th, 2012

1BugattiGrandSportVitesse2012front Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse

Possibly the world’s fastest convertible is the recently revealed 2012 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse that will make its official debut at the Geneva Motor Show. The vehicle is essentially what you get when you combine the open top body of the Veyron Grand Sport with the powerful 183bhp powertrain of the Veyron Super Sport.

As for the name, Vitesse means ‘Speed’ in French and it’s a much more interesting name than the Grand Sport and Super Sport. As for what the name reflects in its performance, the Vitesse has an 8.0-litre engine, with the cubic capacity split between 16 cylinders (in a ‘W’ formation) and fed air by four turbochargers, hence the 16.4 moniker. The Vitesse has also had the same tweaks as the Super Sport which means enlarged turbochargers, bigger intercoolers, a modified chassis to handle the extra power and new front and rear bumpers as part of a tweaked aerodynamic package.

Bugatti president Wolfgang Dürheimer said that ‘The rapid success of the Super Sport convinced us to increase the performance of the Bugatti roadster. Once again our engineers worked hard to demonstrate that Bugatti is able to constantly redefine the boundaries of what is technically feasible. We gave our all to transfer the achievements of the Super Sport over to the Grand Sport, thereby turning open-top driving itself into an extraordinary experience at high speed.”

While Bugatti has yet to release any acceleration or top speed figures for the Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse, the Veyron Super Sport currently holds the world speed record for a road car at 269mph, though it’s limited to 259mph to protect the tyres

Bugatti only built 30 Veyron Super Sports and it is likely that the Vitesse will be even more exclusive.

2BugattiGrandSportVitesse2012rear Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse

Source: Car Magazine

Chris Harris Spends Five Days With McLaren’s MP4-12C: Video 23
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Chris Harris, Drive Channel, Kurt, mclaren, McLaren MP4-12C, video, Videos on 02 23rd, 2012

Conventional wisdom says that supercars cannot be daily drivers. Most lack good outward visibility, and many have a ride comfort that’s best described as “punishing.” Modulating their power output at low speed can be challenging, which makes driving them around town more of a chore than something to look forward to. Sadly, the impracticality of most supercars limits their use to the occasional track day, or the Sunday-early-morning run up and down your favorite canyon road.

The McLaren MP4-12C isn’t your average supercar, and Chris Harris presents a pretty good case for its appeal as an everyday driver. Thanks to an adjustable suspension and ECU, the car can be docile when you need it be, offering up a ride that Harris equates to a Rolls Royce. Outward visibility is quite good, and a pair of oversized (by supercar standards) side view mirrors means you can see what’s behind you as well.

Set the car up correctly, and the MP4 can be a daily driver. It’s even got enough luggage room for a weekend trip, as long as you and your passenger understand the virtues of packing light. Dial up the Track mode settings, on the other hand, and the MP4-12C becomes a “frothing monster,” capable of terrifying even the stoutest of passengers.

In the real world, could you drive an MP4-12C everyday? The answer may be “yes,” but you wouldn’t want to. Supercars bring their own baggage with them, and any Ferrari owner can recite horror stories of close calls caused by inattentive drivers angling for a closer look. Speaking for ourselves, parking an MP4-12C anywhere but our own highly-secure garage would be an exercise in paranoia, so we’d have to factor the cost of an armed guard into ownership.

While the McLaren MP4-12C may be the most livable supercar ever built, it’s still a supercar.