Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento is already listed for sale at €2M



The Sesto Elemento concept was conceived as a design study, technology and previewing the styling we might expect to see on the next generation of Lamborghini supercars.A few months back, shortly after it was revealed at the Paris Motor Show, reports began to become apparent suggesting that the Italian automaker could put it into production, however limited.

Now the car is listed for sale by an exotic car dealership in Germany. Although the reported original listing on the mobile.de online marketplace is no longer there to be found, it is still up on Auto Salon Singen's website with an approximately €2 million ($2.63M USD) list price – €1.9m before tax, €2.3m after.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Nico Rosberg shows off 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK



The benefits of having an F1 team is that, in the off season at least, you've got some of the world's best professional drivers on call for test driving duties. And promotional detail, too.
Specifically, In this case, we're talking about star driver Nico Rosberg and upcoming Mercedes-Benz 2012 SLK. Michael Scheer-Vehicle engineer riding in the new roadster around Monte Carlo shot some footage as Rosberg brief us of what to expect from the new SLK. Check it out in the video


Wednesday, 15 December 2010

2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon




Brush your long, grungy mop from your eyes, turn down the Nirvana and take a look around. It's the early '90s and an army of sport utility vehicles are flooding the streets. The newest four-wheeled object of America's affection has quickly become the default mode of transportation for everyone from inner city professionals to suburban soccer moms.

Fast forward a couple of decades and although sport utes are still around, they've largely been displaced by the crossover – the SUV's easier-to-maneuver, more fuel efficient and more comfortable unibody progeny. But even after years of refinement, the CUV is still a basketcase of compromises. Which begs the question: Did we have it right back in the day? Is a wagon still the best compromise of size, functionality and driving dynamics? We snagged the keys to a 2011 Acura TSX Sports Wagon to find out.

Needless to say, the TSX Sport Wagon is based on its sedan counterpart, but in addition to its two-box shape, Acura has set it off with a redesigned grille. The new piece looks far less hawk-nosed than the one worn by the four-door, as its been broken up by a thinner frame that creates a slimming effect. The lower bumper also improves front-end styling with a much wider and more aggressive appearance. Seeing the TSX Sport Wagon for the first time is a bit like running into that formerly plain-looking girl from high school who got some work done and now dates a pro baseball player; she looks nearly the same, but somehow better. And she knows it. All of which suggests that Acura's stylists may have been listening to at least some of the criticism they've received over the company's controversial front fascia.

The Sport Wagon's updated nose gives way to that long wagon body, which also benefits from a handful of well-placed styling elements. Noticeable fender bulges wrap around the 17-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels and serve to bookend a razor sharp shoulder crease. A strong character line takes over and works its way around the perimeter of the car. It's a neat visual trick that keeps your eyes moving along the bodywork, and it also helps to hide the extra length the wagon wears – a grand total of about 3.6 inches. The overall appearance, however, is somewhat sportier than the sedan because of how the rotund rear end sets off the car's stance.

2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon side view2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon front view2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon rear view

The driver's perch gives you the chance to enjoy the TSX's dark trim and subtle contrast stitching on its seats. The heated leather front chairs wrap around your body like a mold and while the Audi A4 Avant, BMW 328i Sport Wagon and Volvo V50 might have nice seats, none of them offer standard heating and few are as comfortable. Rear seat passengers are well taken care of, too, as the wagon loses just 0.1-inch of headroom compared to the sedan, while leg, hip and shoulder room all remain the same.

Better still, the rear seats fold down nearly flat with the touch of a switch. The side pockets and lower panels can be removed to reveal even more storage options and the 28-inch height of the rear opening allows for some sizable objects to catch a lift. The 60.5 cubic-feet of rear cargo space is downright cavernous compared to the 50.5, 48.9 and 44.2 found in the Audi, BMW and Volvo, respectively. The closest you'll get to equaling the TSX's cargo hold is the Cadillac CTS Wagon which comes in at 58 cubes with the seats folded flat.

2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon interior2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon front seats2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon rear seats2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon rear cargo area

It's not just comfort and utility that makes the TSX Sport Wagon a near ideal place to log trips over the hills and through the woods. All of the knobs and switches are easy to reach, and the available infotainment system hits the moving target of today's technological standards. With the exception of the bulbous multi-directional controller blighting the center stack, the controls are logically laid out, providing an easy learning curve. Dual-zone climate controls keep more than just the driver happy and even the base seven-speaker sound system provides an enjoyable audio experience. The navigation system and rearview camera, however, only show up on the dashboard if you opt for the Technology Package, but Bluetooth and USB audio come standard.

The base model starts at $30,960 plus $860 for destination and handling, while the TSX Sport Wagon with Tech Package costs $34,610 plus D&H. When upgrading to the latter, buyers also receive a power-actuated tailgate, boosted ELS 460-watt 10-speaker audio system with voice recognition, navigation with real-time weather, traffic updates and dynamic re-routing, and the rearview camera. A loaded Acura TSX Sport Wagon with Tech Package still comes in under the base price of the A4 ($35,940), 328i ($36,200) and comparably-equipped V50 ($35,650). The Caddy? Just over $38,000 in base spec.

2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon gauges2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon navigation system2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon climate controls2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon shifter

Comparing pricing and amenities never paints a complete picture, though, and that's where driving dynamics come into play. "Sport" is the TSX Sport Wagon's middle name, and after hauling around Southern California for a couple of days, the moniker is well-deserved. If just. The suspension is firm – almost surprisingly so – making this five-door a joy to push hard, at least on SoCal's smooth roads. The rack-and-pinion steering is also tight and responsive, combining neatly with the TSX's stiff suspenders to make for an engaging driving experience.

When the road turns even slightly rough, however, the TSX Sport Wagon transforms into something of a child's moonbounce. While never unsettled, on certain course surfaces we found the Acura to be not unlike navigating a Boston whaler across a choppy harbor. Suspension for this front-wheel drive wagon is composed of double wishbones up front and multi-link setup in the rear, and we suspect the issue lies with the constant-rate coil springs. Perhaps a set of progressive units would help smooth things out, but prospective buyers who live in areas blessed with four distinctly separate seasons should keep the TSX Sport Wagon's stiff nature in mind.

2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon headlights2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon grille2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon grille2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon taillight

Under the hood of the TSX Sport Wagon lies a 2.4-liter four-cylinder producing 201 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 172 pound-feet of torque at 4,300 rpm. That doesn't sound like much, but the powertrain actually provides a surprising amount of motivation for this 3,599-pound premium utility sled and sounds pretty good while doing it.

Power is routed to the front wheels courtesy of a five-speed automatic transmission, while a pair of paddles mounted to the steering wheel allow for manual gear selection. When left alone, the automatic shifts smoothly, though sometimes it plays a game of hide-and-seek when pressing on with authority. If you're not in the mood for the cogbox's automated games, you can always switch the transmission into Sport and use the paddleshifters. Fortunately, whatever speed you build is just as easy to shed thanks to the TSX's well-sorted 11.8-inch ventilated front and 11.1-inch solid rear discs.

2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon engine

A six-speed manual transmission would offer even more engagement, but sadly Acura can't build a business case for one. When pressed why we can't get a row-our-own version, Acura officials indicated that the company expects to sell around 4,000 units per year, or 10 percent of all TSX models sold. The take rate for manual transmissions amongst current TSX buyers is only around two to three percent, and with the wagon already making up a minority of TSX sales, it doesn't make financial sense to offer a three-pedal model.

So where is the V6 that's offered in the sedan? The four-cylinder does a surprisingly credible job, but the 280-hp, 3.5-liter unit available in the four-door would be a welcome addition. Just as Acura was listening to its customers with regards to the front-end design, it's also evidently deferred to market research regarding what engine to plunk in the TSX Wagon's beaky nose. As the theory goes, the average wagon buyer doesn't need 280 hp when 201 hp works just fine, and prospective buyers Acura spoke with placed a higher priority on fuel economy than power. The 2.4-liter is rated at 22 miles per gallon in the city and 30 miles per gallon on the highway, while the V6-powered sedan achieves 18/27 – numbers that would no doubt fall in the heavier wagon.

2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon rear 3/4 view

That all said, why is the TSX Sport Wagon finally available in the U.S.? Because Acura says it wants to provide an SUV alternative for its entry-level customers. The wagon is aimed squarely at those successful members of Generation-Y for whom owning an SUV has become a stigma. Priced below the competition and boasting better fuel economy, the 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon is not yet the near-luxury estate of our dreams, but it's a welcome step in the continued resurrection of the premium wagon.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Brabus brings the girth with Mercedes SLS Widestar

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What's more important, speed or girth? Brabus says can have your proverbial cake and eat it too with its new Widestar kit for the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG.

Upgrading on their previous offering (and sounding like a minivan), the Widestar SLS benefits from a carbon fiber body kit with a 20mm wider rear track, encompassing Brabus Monoblock F Platinum Edition wheels available in a variety of colors and finishes and coated in either Pirelli or Yokohama low-profile rubber (275/30ZR-20 front and 295/25ZR-21 rear).

Brabus is also offering an electronically adjustable suspension with Bilstein shocks and Ride Control system, a titanium exhaust with quadruple tips that squeezes out an extra 10 horses, while the interior can be outfitted with a number of extras you can read all about in the press release


[Source: Brabus]

World Debut at the ESSEN MOTOR SHOW 2010
Custom-Tailored Designer Suit: The BRABUS WIDESTAR Wide Version for the Mercedes SLS

Lending an exclusive automobile an even more dominant presence is the domain of BRABUS. The new BRABUS WIDESTAR wide version represents a custom-tailored designer suit for the Mercedes SLS AMG. In addition to the extravagant high-tech carbon-fiber body program for the gullwing the tuner also offers ultralight forged wheels, an electronically adjustable Ride Control smooth-ride suspension, a titanium high-performance exhaust system with electronically controlled sound management and custom BRABUS interiors.

To give the SLS an even more muscular appearance the BRABUS designers have developed custom-tailored BRABUS WIDESTAR components for the rear axle. Like all other body components they are made from extremely light yet very strong carbon fibers identical to the ones used in Formula 1 racing. The add-on parts for the rear fenders and the rear fascia create an even more spectacular look and make room for special wheels that widen the rear track by 20 millimeters for even further improved driving dynamics.

The suspension engineers developed custom-tailored versions of the ultralight BRABUS Monoblock F PLATINUM EDITION forged wheels in sizes 9.5Jx20 in front and 11Jx21 on the rear axle for the wide version of the SLS. These wheels are available with a brushed-design or ceramics-polished surface and can also be painted in any desired color. The staggered wheels with 20- and 21-inch diameters on front and rear axles further emphasize the wedge-shaped look of the sports car.

Despite the wheels' bigger size they deliver a weight reduction of up to 12 percent compared to the SLS production wheels. The reduced unsprung weight further results in even more agile handling. BRABUS technology partners Pirelli and YOKOHAMA supply the optimal high-performance tires in sizes 275/30 ZR 20 and 295/25 ZR 21.

The wide version is rounded out by aerodynamic-enhancement components developed in the wind tunnel. All BRABUS aerodynamic-enhancement components are made from carbon fibers and are available with a matte or glossy clear-coated finish for a true racing look. Optionally these components can be painted in body or contrasting color.

To further reduce lift on front and rear axle BRABUS equips the SLS with a front spoiler for the production front fascia, a rear spoiler and a rear diffuser. Together these components create an even better aerodynamic balance. Two BRABUS covers for the upper air dams of the bumper and side air outlets for the rear fascia are further visual details of the BRABUS WIDESTAR version.

The work of the BRABUS designers also gives the sides of the gullwing more profile and further improved aerodynamic efficiency. The rocker panels were sculpted to optimize the airflow between front and rear axle and to create a perfect transition to the WIDESTAR components on the rear axle. Integrated entrance lights ensure safe entering and exiting of the vehicle in the dark.

The BRABUS air outlets for the front fenders add more of sporty touches. At night they draw attention with their integrated blue-illuminated BRABUS logos that are activated via the keyless fob or by pulling on a door handle.

The ride-height lowering by up to 30 millimeters (1.2 inches) also plays an important role in the striking appearance of the BRABUS-modified SLS. The BRABUS suspension is height-adjustable and was developed in cooperation with technology partner BILSTEIN. At the push of a button its integrated Ride Control function also offers a smoother ride than the production car. From the cockpit the driver can at any time - even while driving - switch between damper settings that offer a more comfortable or a sportier ride than the production car.
For sporty-minded SLS owners BRABUS offers stiffer sway bars for front and rear axle that reduce body roll for even more precise handling.

The BRABUS high-performance exhaust system with four slanted exhaust tips with diameters of 84 millimeters (3.3 inches) is somewhat atypical for traditional tuning. Its sound management, controlled by the driver and activated by a pneumatic flap, includes a 'coming home' setting that is quieter than the production exhaust. In 'sport' mode the 6.3-liter eight-cylinder engine produces an even more powerful exhaust note than with the production exhaust. The BRABUS exhaust system is manufactured from extremely lightweight titanium and weighs 12 kilograms (26 lbs.) or 40 percent less than the production exhaust. Another welcome by-product of this exhaust is an increase in power output by 10 hp / 7.4 kW.

BRABUS offers a multitude of exclusive custom interior options for the two-seater car as well. Carbon-fiber inlays in any desired color and matte anodized aluminum pedals and foot rest add sporty highlights.

The ergonomically shaped sport steering wheel is made from a combination of leather and Alcantara and provides especially good grip for further improved road feedback. The speedometer with 400-km/h scale (250 mph) already hints at the car's future performance with BRABUS engine tuning.

The BRABUS upholstery shop offers a sheer endless multitude of colors and designs for the masterfully crafted SLS interiors made from the finest leathers and Alcantara. These interiors can be custom-tailored to suit each SLS owner's personal taste down to the last detail.

Cadillac CTS-V, Jeep Grand Cherokee named 2011 Internet Car and Truck of the Year

http://www.sportscarsfans.com/images/script/image.php?id=2FCA_4CF8884D

The Internet Car and Truck of the Year voting jury has just announced its pair of winners for 2011, and top honors go to both the Cadillac CTS-V and Jeep Grand Cherokee. For 2011, the CTS-V is offered in a trio of body styles, all of which boast a 556-horsepower supercharged V8 and seriously good driving dynamics. Likewise, the 2011 Grand Cherokee remains one of the best off-road vehicles in its class, and points the way forward for the "new Chrysler."

In addition to the vehicles picked by the Internet Car and Truck of the Year jurors, the motoring public was able to cast its vote for the "Average Joe" awards. Unlike the professional jury, the public voters named the 2011 Ford Mustang GT as Car of the Year, its new 5.0-liter V8 and reworked suspension geometry making it more of a true sports car than a stereotypical muscle car. However, both the "Internet Pros" and "Average Joes" saw eye to eye on the Truck of the Year award, with the Grand Cherokee taking the cake from both segments of voters.

http://www.sportscarsfans.com/images/script/image.php?id=C9CA_4CF8884D

Vehicles aside, the ICTOY jury also honored recently deceased and legendary automotive journalist Jerry Flint with the 2010 Journalist of the Year award. Flint, who died on August 7th of this year, covered the automotive beat for over 50 years, and was once named one of the 100 most prominent business reporters of the 20th century.

[Source: Internet Car and Truck of the Year]

INTERNET PROS AND AVERAGE JOES PICK THEIR FAVORITE NEW CARS AND TRUCKS

Jerry Flint Posthumously Honored as Internet Automotive Journalist of the Year


Boston (Dec. 1, 2010) - The Internet Car and Truck of the Year website has announced the winners from the Internet Pros and Average Joes votes for their favorite new cars and trucks. Domestic brands swept all four categories.

The winners, announced from the New England International Auto Show today, are:

Internet Pros:
Car of the Year: 2011 Cadillac CTS-V
Truck of the Year: 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Average Joes:
Car of the Year: 2011 Ford Mustang GT
Truck of the Year: 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Internet Pros are comprised of a select team of 15 online writers from some of the leading automotive Internet sites, while the Average Joes consisted of thousands of votes from the motoring public. Complete biographies of the jury members are available at www.internetcarandtruckoftheyear.com.

So while the Internet Pros and Average Joes agree on the Truck of the Year (for the second year in a row) they have slightly differing opinions when it comes to their favorite car. The Pros like their speed in the form of a luxury sports car with the Cadillac CTS-V while the Average Joes voted for classic American muscle with the Ford Mustang GT (with only a 1 percent margin of victory over the Cadillac CTS-V). However, both groups demonstrated their respect for the vastly improved Jeep Grand Cherokee by wide margins.

Internet Automotive Journalist of the Year

The Internet Automotive Journalist of the Year award was given to Jerry Flint for his long body of work in automotive journalism, most recently as a columnist for Forbes – both in print and online. It will be presented to his widow, automotive journalist Kate McLeod, at the Dec. 9 International Motor Press Association meeting in New York City.

A prolific award winner, including the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism in 2003, for his Forbes "Backseat Driver column," Flint was not afraid to point out when the Emperor was wearing no clothing. That insight, and his grasp of the automotive industry, earned accolades that included his naming by Business News Reporter as one of the 100 most prominent business reporters of the 20th Century.

The 2010 Automotive Journalist of the Year was John Neff, editor of Autoblog.

The Internet Car and Truck of the Year awards were created by Keith Griffin, the Guide to Used Cars for About.com, a writer for TorqueNews.com, and the National Hyundai Examiner for Examiner.com, as well as a print automotive journalist and vice president of the New England Motor Press Association.

2012 Buick Verano details and pricing leaked in dealer letter?

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Following the launch of the Regal, Buick will be introducing its next all-new model sometime in 2011. Set to launch as a 2012 model, the Verano compact will slot in beneath the Regal sedan, though we've been told on several occasions that it will not share a platform with General Motors' other new small car, the Chevrolet Cruze.

According to the infomongers at GM Inside News, the automaker recent sent a letter to its Buick dealers inviting them to participate in an order study in an attempt to gain knowledge about what pricing and trim levels would be most attractive to potential buyers. The details, available after the jump, reveal that the Verano will be powered by a 2.4-liter inline-four (same as the Regal) that produces 180 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and will be initially offered in four trim levels.

If the letter is to be believed, the base Verano 1SB (the alphanumeric likely being an internal designation) is estimated to start at $20,900. From there, the 1SD model adds Bluetooth, automatic climate control and remote start, and will be priced from around $22,100. 1SG models add a power driver's seat, heated mirrors and rear park assist and should command roughly $23,300. Top-trim 1SL Veranos will have heated leather seats, premium audio, a heated steering wheel and 18-inch wheels. Expect the top-rung 1SL to retail for around $25,600, with pricing reaching as high as $26,200.

We don't expect GM to reveal official Verano specifications and pricing until closer to its launch date, with the car being officially debuting sometime in the early 2011 auto show season. Top tip, Ed!

[Source: GM Inside News]

Monday, 22 November 2010

Mitsubishi plug-in hybrid coming in 2013Mitsubishi plug-in hybrid coming in 2013




Autoweek reports that Mitsubishi will wade into plug-in electric waters in 2013. The automaker's head of electric vehicles, Yoshikazu Nakamura, said the vehicle will be an SUV similar to the 2009 Px-MiEV Concept and that the production version is already nearing the final stages of development. The concept got its pep from a tiny 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine working in coordination with two electric motors and a battery pack. Mitsubishi pegged the Px-MiEV as being able to travel for up to 30 miles one pure electric go-go, so there must be some pretty hefty battery technology onboard as well.

Whether or not the production SUV will use a similar drivetrain remains to be seen. We can say with some certainty that Mitsubishi is likely to simplify the vehicle's name considerably. The automarker has already scrapped the i-MiEV moniker for the somewhat more palatable name of "i powered by MiEV" in the States. We can't wait to explain that one to the fine people of the DMV.

[Source: Autoweek]

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Rolls-Royce and Bijan team up for custom Phantom line




Rolls-Royce has announced a partnership with Beverly Hills-based designer Bijan Pakzad. Bijan will work closely with the super-luxury automaker to turn out a handful of special edition Phantoms, complete with the designer's own personal touches. So far, we've been left in the dark about exactly what kinds of changes to expect, though Rolls-Royce says that Bijan will lay out a host of specifications for the company's craftsmen to meet. Considering that the designer's personal car is a bright yellow Phantom Drophead Coupe, we can bet that the new Phantoms will be anything but subdued.

Rolls-Royce and Bijan made the announcement at the Bijan Boutique in Beverly Hills – nicknamed the most expensive store in the world – just before this year's Los Angeles Auto Show got underway.

[Source: Motor Authority]

Thursday, 11 November 2010

SEMA 2010: Dodge Charger Redline Concept




Among Chrysler's homage to the storied past at this year's SEMA Show is this 2011 Dodge Charger Redline Concept – the Charger that Mopar Underground would build if it could. The crimson four-door sits an inch lower to the ground over 22-inch Super Alloy wheels, all the better to keep your eyes on the black roof. Other trim pieces include the black spoilers fore and aft, tinted head- and taillights and a black side scoop to take you back to the 1970 Dodge Charger R/T.

Under the aluminum hood is a 5.7-liter Hemi wearing Mopar headers, as well as a cold-air intake and exhaust. Come shimmy and shake time, things are kept in better check by a Mopar strut tower brace. A black and red interior fills out the theme, aluminum bezels and Katzkin leather keeping it swish and prototype paddle shifters keep it truly conceptual.

SEMA 2010: Hyundai Genesis Coupe





The Hyundai Genesis Coupe is a tuner favorite at SEMA. GogoGear showed off its racing Genesis Coupe, while ARK Performance has created a performance Genesis Coupe more appropriate for cruising the Vegas Strip. There's even a bit of overlap between the two, as GogoGear's entry uses a carbon fiber bodykit, headers, shocks and coilovers from ARK Performance. Getting the rest of the coupe ready for kerbs are the upgraded V6 churning out 380 horsepower, carbon fiber roof, 18-inch Konig Kilogram lightweight wheels and a Racepak IQ3 data logger dash.

ARK Performance went street with a carbon grille, hood and rear diffuser, with ARK SFX bumpers, skirts and fenders. Stoptech brakes scrub the speed, and Alpine, Apple and Infinity provide the audiovisual buffet in the cabin. JsDesigns can be thanked for the little guy on the hood, and his rear is warmed by the heat of a supercharged 3.8-liter, 585-hp engine with 330 pound-feet and dual headers and downpipes.

SEMA 2010: Ford's 2011 Mustang




We've seen Explorers, Fiestas and even an F-Series Super Duty, but of course, the car with the biggest showing on Ford's SEMA stand is the Mustang. In fact, the automaker is displaying nine examples of its pony car, showing a wide range of customization options.

Starting things off in-house, Ford has provided us with a glimpse of what is possible through its Vehicle Personalization program. The VP 'Stang wears wheels, rear window louvers, a rear spoiler and a handful of other items that are all for sale at FordAccessoriesStore.com. Besides the in-house car, Ford handed the Mustang off to Funkmaster Flex and Team Baurtwell, MRT, Creations n' Chrome, Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords, Mobsteel, Raceskinz, Street Scene Equipment and Tjin Edition.

Funk Flex, who at this point probably holds an executive position back in Dearborn, designed his Mustang for rapper Snoop Dogg. MRT envisioned the car as a tough street warrior. Creations n' Chrome partnered with the American Cancer Society to raise awareness for breast cancer, and painted its car Pink Chrome. Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords stays true to its name, adding a supercharger kit to the 5.0-liter engine under the hood. Mobsteel goes a different, yet similar route, by turbocharging a V6 example.

This is only a small taste of what the assorted tuners have done to the 2011 Mustang, and that's only limited to what Ford has in its display.

SEMA 2010: Vortex F1 makes world debut




There's certainly a lot of hot metal on the floor at this year's SEMA show, and while we're always keen to see customizations and special editions of some of our favorite vehicles, we can't help but give special attention to automakers who debut brand new products. Seattle-based Vortex Motors indeed captures our attention this year with the world debut of its F1 track car. Watch your back, Ariel Atom – the Vortex F1 is ready for battle.

Power is sourced from an upgraded version of General Motors' turbocharged 2.0-liter Ecotec inline-four running through a six-speed manual transmission. In the standard model, the F1 Turn Key, output is rated at 290 horsepower and 340 pound-feet of torque, but Vortex will also sell an Ultimate version, bumping those numbers up to 330 and 360, respectively.

The body is constructed out of a mix of fiberglass and aluminum, with carbon fiber available as an option. The Turn Key weighs in at a feather-light 1,400 pounds, and thus, Vortex is targeting a 0-60 time of just 2.7 seconds and a quarter-mile run of just 10.5 seconds at 130 miles per hour. Vortex has fitted 17-inch wheels at all four corners, riding on 275/40-series tires up front and beefy 315/35 rubber out back.

The whole package can be yours for $49,995 for the Turn Key or $69,995 for the Ultimate. In addition to adding more power, the Ultimate also uses a fully carbon fiber body, upgraded brakes, wheels and tires, improved steering, carbon fiber seats and a sequential six-speed gearbox. Vortex says that it is also planning a fully electric version of the F1, with a targeted weight of only 1,300 pounds. We'd gladly pit it against a Tesla Roadster in a drag race any day.

SEMA 2010: Toyota brings some swagger to Sin City




Seven million. That's how many times Toyota's much-loved Swagger Wagon rap video has been viewed on YouTube. Well, actually, it's 7,154,749... but who's counting? With that in mind, it's not surprising that the Japanese automaker has chosen to outfit its official SEMA floorspace with a customized Sienna dubbed, appropriately enough, Swagger Wagon Supreme.

Actor Brian Huskey, otherwise known as Swagger Dad, was on hand to introduce the stretched and lowered metallic blue Sienna minivan. He started his speech from inside the Wagon, which is decked out with a nicely finished wood floor along with plenty of cabinetry, televisions and computer paraphernalia.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

SEMA 2010: Custom Ford Fiesta models invade Sin City




Perhaps the biggest (or smallest) champion car for Ford this year has been the 2011 Fiesta. The fizzy little sedan and hatchback duo are drawing a lot of attention to Blue Oval showrooms, and thus, Ford has a whole flock of Fiestas represented at this year's SEMA show.

A host of aftermarket tuning companies have put their touches on the pint-sized Ford – modified Fiestas from 3DCarbon, H&R Springs, Steeda Autosports and FSWerks are all on hand, just to name a few. Our favorite, though, might be the automaker's own Ford Racing Performance Parts Fiesta, powered by a modified version of FoMoCo's 2.0-liter EcoBoost four (bumped to 2.3 liters), that produces a staggering 350 horsepower. We'll take two.

SEMA 2010: HRE Wheels homers with the Oakley Design 458 and a Gumpert Apollo




HRE had a trio of cars parked in its booth, one of them being a Ferrari 458 Italia tuned by British aftermarket house Oakely Design. The car was showed off for the first time in June, and in white, and Oakley said it would build just five. The production was upped to the seven, and this one here comes in a hue red rich enough to make Sleeping Beauty want to take another bite.

The carbon fiber lip up front boosts downforce by more than 50 pounds, and the sliver of a rear spoiler adds about 48 more pounds of aero downforce to the rear axle at 150 miles per hour. A carbon fiber roof panel, mirror housings and 20-inch HRE wheels complete the coupe's Jenny Craig makeover, with the rims subtracting 11 pounds at each corner. Performance mods tune the car to 632 horsepower, and a reflashed ECU is meant to make the most of it. Oakley's work is said to reduce the 0-62 mph time to three seconds and top speed is a lofty 208 mph.

Just in front of that was a Gumpert Apollo, rarely seen on the big-rim circuit, wearing a set of single-lug-nut HRE's, and a Porsche GT3 RS with some fire-engine red multi-spokes.

SEMA 2010: Ford Police Interceptor Stealth Concept will haunt the dreams of speeders everywhere




While we should be excited to see Ford show off a new, updated cop car, the Police Interceptor Stealth Concept already has us checking our rear-view mirrors. Seeing it under the bright lights at SEMA only serves to kick up the nervous anxiety to 11.

The man behind the car, Ford designer Melvin Betancourt, says he drew inspiration from the SR-71 Blackbird stealth plane. The blacked-out finish and hidden blue and reds, coupled with the potential for hosting a 365-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 under the hood are more than enough to cause speed-limit scofflaws to think twice about pushing harder on that gas pedal.

It's not only the outside that incorporates the idea of stealth design. The interior features a police radio hidden in the console, along with the on-board computer and the glove box has a hidden space to hide weapons.

SEMA 2010: The Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG




The Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series isn't short in the tooth, but gussied up correctly it can still make a worthy meal for the autophile – even when it's dressed in everybody's-doin'-it matte gray. Continental tire's SEMA booth, showcasing its ExtremeContact DW and ExtremeContact DWS rubber, had this light-eating creature from Platinum Motorsports glaring from the corner. 'Roided-up skirts and splitters with carbon fiber trimmings abound, and every transparent plane has been remedied by the liberal application of tints. We'd buy that for it for a dollar, no doubt.

There was something else under covers that we'll be bringing you later. For now, the SL65 AMG was left to preside over a back-up band consisting of a Bentley Continental GT, a Maybach as black as the intergalactic void itself, and a BMW racer with a set of slick slicks.

SEMA 2010: Chevrolet Camaro SSX Concept




Chevrolet has made it clear that the company has a strong interest in helping owners get the most out of vehicles like the Corvette and the Camaro on a race track. While the epic Corvette Z06X Concept was seemingly envisioned as the Bow Tie answer to the Dodge Viper ACR-X, Chevrolet is showing the Camaro similar love via the SSX Concept. The car makes use of a host of carbon fiber in places like the trunk lid, hood, fenders and doors to keep weight as low as possible, and while the company isn't saying exactly how many pounds it managed to shed compared to the standard SS, we've got to imagine that the figure is far from insubstantial.

In addition to putting the Camaro on a diet, Chevrolet also took it upon itself to play havoc with the 6.2-liter under the hood by bolting on tricks like new CNC aluminum cylinder heads, sliding in a new camshaft and swapping in a dry-sump oil system. Make no mistake, with around 524 horsepower on tap, this dog will hunt.

SEMA 2010: Chevrolet Corvette Z06X Concept




Chevrolet was kind enough to give us a sneak sampling of what the company has planned for SEMA 2010, and the star of the show looks to be the car you see above. Called the Corvette Z06X, the bruiser is effectively a race-ready behemoth with a host of suspension tweaks and a slew of weight-reducing materials on board. Built by the Corvette legends at Pratt and Miller, this Satin White machine started its life as a Z06 with the CFZ carbon-fiber package. Throw in an adjustable rear wing borrowed straight from the C6R along with a full SCCA roll cage and you've got the bones for go-fast trackday goodness.

Under the hood, the standard LS7 V8 benefits from a new low-restriction intake and a more robust coolant system. The suspension wizards at PFADT were so kind as to supply a set of mono-ball control arm bushings, adjustable stabilizer bars and a complete coilover suspension, too.

Chevrolet has also bolted on a new raised carbon-fiber hood along with carbon headlight housings to shave a few pounds. The biggest weight savings, however, has to come from the polycarbonate rear window which is also lifted straight from the C6R.

SEMA 2010: Dodge Challenger SRT8 392




One of the 1,492 Challenger SRT8 392s that Dodge says it's going to build next year is menacing the corner of the Mopar booth at this year's SEMA show. With a new 6.4-liter V8 offering 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque under the hood, this muscle machine appears ready to tame the road.

The SRT8 392 should prove to perform significantly better than previous Challengers thanks to quicker steering, revised suspension settings, beefier shocks and added downforce. The wheels are also a treat. Plus, you'll get better gas mileage than in the 2010 Challenger – that is, if you manage to scoop one up before everyone else.

SEMA 2010: Chevrolet unveils custom 2011 Camaros




The Red Flash Show Camaro is a look-at-me V8-powered coupe that will certainly grab your attention out on the road thanks to its modified intake and exhaust system. On the other end of the spectrum is the XM/Accessory Appearance Package V6 Camaro that goes for a more subtle, not-so-flashy styling upgrade. The Synergy Series Camaro is the second version of a once-per-year limited-edition, and it features interior and exterior colors not available on any other model in the Camaro range. Finally, the SSX Track Car Concept rumbles on to the SEMA floor to tease us with the idea of a purpose-built track-day machine

SEMA 2010: 1955 Chevrolet E-Rod LS3 Pickup




While the wicked E-Rod LSA found its way into a Superformance Grand Sport Coupe at this year's SEMA show, General Motors decided to plop the company's new E-Rod LS3 into something a little more traditional. GM yanked the sheets off of an expertly-crafted 1955 Chevrolet pickup street rod. The project started by mating a minty-fresh Dynacorn body with the chassis of a Trailblazer SS. Throw in a 315-horsepower, 335-pound-feet of torque E-Rod LS3 and you've got the basic ingredients for one very lust-worthy pickup.

GM says that the new E-Rod LS3 will command a price tag of $7,150 when it arrives in 2011.

SEMA 2010: LSA E-Rod powered Superformance Grand Sport Coupe



General Motors has grown its E-Rod family by two, adding a 505-horsepower 7.0-liter LS7 and a 556-horsepower 6.2-liter LSA to its line of emissions-friendly V8s. The General chose to show off the new forced-induction engine by plopping the mill in a Superformance Grand Sport replica. With a feathery light curb weight of just 2,500 pounds and a potent 551 pound-feet of torque on tap, this machine should be an absolute tarmac terror. Behind that supercharged small block sits a Tremec six-speed manual transmission and a four-wheel disc brake system designed to bring the whole party to a stop in a hurry.

GM says that it is currently working closely with the California Air Resources Board to ensure that the E-Rod LSA can be used in pre-OBD-II vehicles, allowing specially constructed cars like the Superformance Grand Sport to receive CARB certification.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

SEMA 2010: Bisimoto Honda CR-Z is a 533-horsepower madhouse



The team from Bisimoto has taken to curing the Honda CR-Z hybrid of its anemia by prescribing massive doses of forced induction. The stock 1.5-liter four-cylinder was extracted and rebuilt using Arias pistons and a Bisimoto valvetrain, but the star of the show is that massive billet Turbonetics turbo. It shoves ample amounts of air through a 70-millimeter custom throttle body at a rate that has to rival most jet engines. The whole kit and caboodle is good for a staggering 533 horsepower, which helps explain why a car that started life with a 0-60 mph time of 10 seconds now requires a parachute to reduce its inertia.

Is this proof positive that the CR-Z has the kind of tunability that made the CRX legendary, or simply an example of cash conquering all handicaps?

SEMA 2010: Stasis holds its own with Signature Series S4 and S5




This may be Audi's first year at SEMA, but that doesn't mean other tuning houses haven't worked up some four-ringed hotness just for the Vegas show. Stasis, for example, shows off its Signature Series S4 and S5 which get by with 'just' 410 horsepower and 370 pound-feet of torque from their supercharged V6s, otherwise normally rated at 333 hp and 344 lb-ft.

Stasis says the 25 percent boost in power comes from nothing more than an ECU tune and its own free-flow exhaust that uses "cross flow pulse scavenging technology." The wheels are pulled from the Stasis well, either 20-inches of lightweight, cast spokes or the same diameter in ultra-lightweight forged spokes. Together with the power and the Yokohama rubber, both cars are said to be capable of achieving 1.0 gs in the corners. Suspension and brakes get some love as well.

SEMA 2010: Honda brings a surplus of custom CR-Zs





Honda has a grand total of 12 different CR-Zs on display at this year's SEMA show. In addition to the Mugen and Hybrid R we showed you earlier, the Japanese automaker has created the CR-Z with Genuine Honda Accessories and HPD CR-Z Racer, and eight other companies have put their spins on the compact hybrid hatch.

Big name companies like Bisimoto Engineering, DSO Eyewear, Eibach Springs, Fortune Motorsports and Konig Wheels have created their own one-off CR-Zs, accounting for a little less than half of Honda's overall showing. Two special project CR-Zs are on hand, as well, done up by the folks from Honda Tuning Magazine and the Los Angeles Auto Show.


[Source: Honda]

SEMA 2010: Local Motors puts five Rally Fighters on display




Just like it promised, Local Motors has come to the 2010 SEMA show with five ready-to-rock Rally Fighters. The crowd-sourced design is paying off, because LM says that another five should be done before we switch the calendar over to 2011.

On hand are the two prototype vehicles, known as Beta 1 and Beta 2, while the other three Rally Fighters represent the first vehicles going to customer homes. Jay Rogers, CEO of Local Motors, naturally scooped up the first example and he uses it as his daily driver. (Awesome.) The other two customer cars are going to face two very different lives; the one going to Jay Zuppardo and his family will be turned into a sand rail, while the other going to John Domolky will be used as a daily driver vehicle in his hometown of Boston.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

SEMA 2010: Stasis R8 V10 Spyder and Autonomous Audi TTS say hello to Vegas



What happens when tuners cast eyes on the Audi R8 is symptomatic of the basic and inherent awesomeness of the R8 proposition, both design- and driving-wise. See, there isn't much that happens on any tuned Audi R8 – all of them look like Audi R8s, maybe with a little more carbon fiber and a new set of wheels. There is simply nothing else to be done to it that could make it better, or, at least, we haven't seen it, and so almost all hyped R8s are known by their rims.

Stasis has joined that club, with an R8 Custom Spyder blessed with up to 7.5 psi of supercharger boost good for 710 horsepower, some suspension mods and a 20-inch set of its trademark wheels. An independent cooler keeps the supercharger chilled, and a lighter, more open exhaust runs out of larger tailpipes. It certainly looks good, and that's mostly because the R8 looks good on its own.

Of all of the high-dollar cars in Audi's first-ever space at SEMA, only the autonomous TTS was behind a barrier and untouchable. Pikes Peak dust still coated its antennas and inertial sensors, and the open hatch revealed just how much computer hardware is necessary to replace a human.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

2011 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid to hit U.S. dealers in November



2011 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid will be arriving after a few more days. It will carry a $21,000 premium over the V6 Porsche Cayenne, but for your $67,700 you will hold onto the performance and gain a economical help. The six cylinder supercharged, 333 horsepower with the help of battery does 0 - 60 in 6.1 seconds and it gives 25 miles per gallon. In addition, you will get a max speed of 37 mph in electric operation.