Sunday, September 30, 2007

BMW 1-Series Convertible

I want a BMW 1-Series. Not just the way in which I want most of the cars discussed here, but rather a deep, carnal, yearning whose only cure may be purhase. Specifically a 135i Coupe, though I wouldn't mind it in the Tahiti Green pictured below on the newly unveiled convertible variant. Is it just me, or is it damn nice to see a new interesting color on a great new car? Not a lot of people like green cars but I'm gonna go out on a limb with my respect for this one. I'm not alone in my 1-Lust apparently, as BMW has received an unprecidented flood of pre-orders for the car months ahead of its Spring 2008 launch. With the possible exception of the new Nissan GT-R, the BMW 1-Series will be the hottest car of 2008.

[Source: Autoblog, NetCarShow]





Thursday, September 27, 2007

Lexus IS-F: Bad For Tires

Me thinks they're not kidding with this one. This is the first footage I've seen of the Lex-rod and it's freaking badass. Fully defeatable traction control and a limited-slip rearend join forces with the V8 to hang the tail out just as awesomely wide as a certain M-car... it even sounds like it. Listen closely to one of the launches in the second clip as a sharp chirp from the tires on the 1-2 shift signals no shortage of starch in the 8-speed auto.

I wasn't extremely excited for this car until I watched it hang ass around Laguna Seca. Looks like they finally put their pennies where the pie goes.

[Source: Autoblog]





Wednesday, September 26, 2007

2008 M3. Tiff.

Need I say more? I wonder if he'll slide it...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT in the tin

Parked next to this very enticing piece yesterday on my way to the gym. The Sport GT isn't the newest Quattroporte variant; that honor is reserved for the Sport GT S just recently unveiled in Frankfurt. Unlike the GT S with its recalibrated suspension, the GT was mostly a styling package... the standout feature being the stunning 20" alloys draped in gorgeously gummy Pirelli PZeros. This particular car was equipped with the questionable DuoSelect sequential manual transmission, a system broadly chided as unsuitably jerky for a machine of this pedigree. The Quattroporte's gaping maw isn't to everyone's taste (including mine), but the sedan's overall presence is undeniably striking to behold. Amidst my brief droolfest I managed to snap a few pictures before anyone saw how creepy I looked doing it. Enjoy the sensuous Italian curves below (nearly as sensuous as those of the adjacent car in the 3rd shot...)





Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rental Cars

The majority of us gearheads will likely get a bit excited whenever a chance arises to rent an automobile. Unless you're a gentleperson of means that can afford to treat yourself to an exclusive exotic car for hire program during your stay in perhaps Vegas or Miami, you're almost certainly setting yourself up for an inevitable letdown. Case in point:

The girlfriend and I last night sat down to book our hotel and rental car for an upcoming October trip to Chicago. Through her job, she is eligible for 'free upgrades' at various rental suppliers... hence a twinkle appeared in my eye as I hoped we may be able to swing some remotely interesting transportation. Upon inspection of the available iron, my middling hopes stumbled in witness to the fun-squashingly equipped domestic sh*t-kickers.

Since I didn't feel it necessary to pony up for the probably still uninspiring automatic V6 Mustang, our Chi-town steed shall be a base Ford Fusion. Aside from being one of the more interesting looking domestic offerings, it's got halfway decent Mazda 6 underpinnings somewhere up under there that might just offer up something resembling transient response. The engine, a Duratec 4-cylinder funneling 160 hp through an indifferent slushbox to mile-high behubcapped rolling stock, is sure to leave my mind securely unblown. Nevertheless, secret plans exist to steal away and conduct a semi-serious road test for posterity... stay tuned (snore).

All hope for the prospective driving vacationer is not lost however. I managed to be thoroughly entertained by a Nissan Micra during a week in Ireland last year. If it's your first time driving in Europe, no matter what you end up with, you're thrust into a completely alien driving environment forcing you to learn everything backwards pretty much immediately to avoid death. I recommend an oddball little car like my Micra or some dodgy Fiat that offers the novelty of driving something not even available in the US. Despite resembling an atrophied bee trapped in snot, the Micra proved a lightweight and admirably tight little car that made the most of what felt like 15 hp. Throw in an honest manual gearchange for your left hand and it's like being 16 all over again.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Carlsson Aigner CK65

Remember the f*ck-ugly AC Schnitzer GP3.10 Concept I posted a few days back? That was an example of adventurous design gone horribly, cancerously wrong. A similarly audacious exercise it indeed is, the Carlsson Aigner CK65 has been wrought with a keener eye for good taste.

Now I'm not a huge fan of two-tone cars unless they're from before 1960 and handle like greazed arse, but here the effect is quite dramatic, and not at all unappealing. The work-of-art Carlsson 21" forged aluminum wheels set off the exterior, upon which the only aesthetic blunder appears to be the the Strut-esque pimp-my-crapwagon chrome mesh lower grill.

On the inside you'll find just a pinch more red, as the Aigner in the car's name refers to Etienne Aigner, a supplier of fine leathers who was charged with upholstering the interior. The effect is either daringly bold or vomitously garish depending on your tastes, and for me it's just the right tint to achieve the former. If I'm not mistaken, this car's primary stylistic influence had to be the Pagani Zonda F. The black of the exterior recalls the tinted glass canopy and numerous carbon fiber elements of the F; the vivid crimson/oxblood interior's inspiration is obvious upon comparison.
(See for yourself below)

As it's based on a CL65 AMG, this is the last car that needed any engine tuning but they've gone and made the Biturbo V12's hefty ballz even bigger to the tune to 700bhp and 811 lb-ft of torque. There's also a trick active suspension, sports exhaust, and a full carbon fiber body kit.. along with innumerable bespoke doo-dads and gee-gaws guaranteed to put your wallet on weight-watchers.

[Source: WorldCarFans]






Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bugatti EB 16.4 Veyron Pur Sang

For the money I'd take this over the Lamborghini Reventon in a heartbeat. Pur Sang means 'thoroughbred', and this very special edition of just 5 cars for the entire world comes completely stripped of paint leaving the spectacular aluminum and carbon fiber body structure of the Veyron exposed. Those unique alloys are absolutely drop dead. If this car were a woman it would be naked Monica Bellucci holding a cheese steak and a Guinness. Aside from looking like it's MSRP, it's actually lighter than a standard Veyron; paint weighs much more than you'd expect. I'll try to see if i can detect the weight loss when I personally roadtest a Pur Sang against a standard Veyron next week not.

[Source: Autoblog, WorldCarFans]



Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Weapon of Mass(ive) Erection

Lamborghini's rumored super expensive Murcielago derivative is named Reventon, and it's truly the stuff of kids' posters. Only 20 people get to pay the 1 Million Euro to own one, and if they manage to change the oil and avoid immovable obstacles they're sure to make their money back someday, and then some. It also features some seriously neat glass-cockpit fighter-jet style gauges.

It's wicked nasty rotten awesome yes, but the mechanically identical (save 20bhp) Murcielago LP640 is $700,000 less. That fact is a waste of typeface however, because which would you rather have up on your wall?


[Source: Autoblog, InsideLine, NetCarShow]





BMW X6 'Concept' unveiled at Frankfurt

The Frankfurt International Auto Show finally got underway yesterday in Germany and there was no disappointment in the quantity of new products and concepts. I am but a lowly blogger and cannot even fathom being able to comment about everything that's coming out of the show (this isn't my job unfortunately), but I will do my best to show you my favorites.

Camouflaged prototypes of BMW's X6 have been the darlings of auto-spy photographers in recent months and we finally get to see it in its final form, mostly. BMW loves to show off cars they label as Concepts, when in reality the production version is 100% finished. They make the wheels a little different, a little shinier perhaps; fit fancier exhaust pipes and/or head and taillights... but it's 99.99% what they'll unveil very soon after as the production model. They did it with the E46 M3, the E90 M5, E92 M3, and it's exactly what they've done here. It just seems like a waste of energy on their part. Between here and the dealerhship, I foresee the X6's wheels changing ever so slightly, and the exhaust exits to lose a bit of their sparkle and melt into a more conventional shape.

Although this thing exists only to make money (not to refine the illustrious pedigree of BMW), I do think I like it. The X5 was always near the top of my list of ownable SUVs and though this is mostly just a less practical version for surely more money, it would look awful nice in my post lotto-victory 30-car garage serving as a foul-weather people-mover.

Engine choices are more interesting the those of the current X5 with the mouthwatering 3.0L Twin Turbo 6-cylinder at the bottom end, and talk of a new 4.8L Twin Turbo V8 at the top. An engine that's supposedly been under development for the next generation 7-Series.

I'm sure they'll sell every one of these they intend to... just not to me unfortunately.

[Source: Autoblog, NetCarshow]


Monday, September 10, 2007

Brabus Madnus

More pre-Frankfurt goodies... this time from Mercedes/Smart steroidist Brabus. First the Ultimate 112 is a tarted up Smart ForTwo with a sportier suspension, 18" wheels, an up-luxed leather interior, and Carrot-from-Chernobyl paint. The 112 denotes both the limited quantity of production, and the power output in PS from it's modified turbo 3-cylinder. 112PS is about 110bhp, and just fine for your average blang'd out dork buggy, but a little shy for one that costs 49,000 Euro...



Remember the Brabus Rocket, the fastest sedan ever, capable of 225.18 mph? Meet the C-Class based Bullit. Basically the Rocket's engine (all 730 biturbo'ed vee-twelvey bhp of it) wrapped in less 225mph-tree-impact-absorbing-metal. You also get scoopies galore, reupholstered interior (including swanky quilted leather floor) and the de rigeur alloys. For consistency, they might as well drop this engine in the Smart and the S-Class while they're at it. Call 'em the Spitball and the ICBM...

[Source: WorldCarFans, NetCarShow]




I'm rooting for them... I really am

Today we get a little more info on Saab's upcoming Turbo X version of the 9-3. This car will be the debut of sorts for the new XWD system, even though you'll be able to get it on regular 9-3 Aeros eventually. Saab is in a pretty meager state of affairs right now, but those who've sampled this new all-wheel drive system are pretty taken by it, claiming that it effectively quells the significant understeer common to this chassis. The standout feature being an electronically controlled limited-slip differential fitted at the rear that properly distributes torque to the outside wheel in corners, similar in effect to Acura's highly praised SH-AWD. The 2.8L turbocharged V6 that's been around for a year or so has already proven itself a strong performer. It was even chosen as one of Ward's Ten Best Engines of 2006 (a honor shared by my GTI's FSI Turbo 4-blaster btw;) The new drivetrain looks promising so hopefully they've finally gotten it right. The only botch I see is that the US market Turbo X won't be available with the attractively distinctive 19" alloys fitted to the car pictured below. We instead get undoubtedly dumber 18s.

I've always had a soft spot for the 9-3... in particular the slick Sportcombi wagon. There's something cool about Saab, even if the 9-3 is this only Saab that has it. The archaic 9-5 is a turd that needs to be flushed, and the 9-7x... well, who cares. The 9-3 so far has never really stacked up well against its competitors on paper, or the road. Still, every time I sit in one I want it a little bit. Or maybe I just want to want it. Like I said, I'm rooting for them...

[Source: TrollhattanSaab.net via Autoblog]


Friday, September 7, 2007

AC Schnitzer officially on acid

If the Z4 Profile Concept earlier this year wasn't enough to convince you that ACS has gone off the esthetic deep end, then the new GP3.10 Concept will surely ease any doubts. It takes the combined efforts of many people to turn out a concept car like this, and that not one of them involved with this one stood up to say "Um, this thing blows" is what worries me about the company as a whole. The quality of ACS's craftsmanship is not in question here, but the simple fact that there exists persons within the corporation who think that this car looks sweet is enough to keep me from ever becoming a customer. Whoever would want to fork over the certainly enormous sum of money for this colossal eyesore is beyond me, but somebody must be keeping them in the fugly business.

[Source: Autoblog, NetCarShow]




Thursday, September 6, 2007

Supercharged Corvette named ZR-1

The highly anticipated super-ultra-├╝ber-Vette has a name, and it's not SS or Blue Devil. It's ZR-1. I'm quite surprised nobody saw this coming, but it's plenty cool if you ask me. Loosey-goosey chassis notwithstanding, I always thought the C4 ZR-1 was pretty special with it's Lotus engineered aluminum block DOHC LT5 V8. That cutting edge 400bhp powerplant stood in my mind as a shining mechanical jewel amongst the rest of the (pardon my truth) CRAP that GM was peddling some 17 years ago. The new one, if you don't already know, will be sporting a supercharged version of the 6.2L LS3 (not the 7.0L Z06 V8) purging forth at least a half-dozen hundred horsepower. Significant weight savings will be accomplished through the use of various carbon fiber exterior panels. Also, it will be damn near close to $100,000. If you have the cash to get one, you might as well sink some of it into Goodyear stock. The rear end of this sucker will consume more rubber per capita than Canada.

[Source: Autoblog, Popular Mechanics]


2008 Mazda 6 Unveiled Early

With the Frankfurt International Auto Show just days away, juicy new info on all the freshest metal is pouring constantly into our clutches. Today we have the redesigned Mazda 6 and I must say, it's a stunner. The style and detailing of this car, inside and out, exude a high-end allure until now absent from this segment. It's easy to see inspiration, or at least the resemblance of a little MB CL in the front end, a dash of Lexus IS350 in the flanks and C-pillar, and even a hint of Chrysler Sebring in the taillights (the Mazda's being infinitely superior in execution). The overall effect is dynamic and elegant at the same time, and it looks expensive. This car will feature a new 3.5L V6, undoubtedly a version of the engine offered across the range in Ford's 2008 lineup... and word is that it's a powerful, refined piece that thankfully, requires only regular gas. If all this weren't good enough, Mazda went to the trouble of making this car lighter and more fuel efficient than its predecessor... something that the industry is just now starting to see the urgent need for. It even emits less harmful pollutants. For all its slick beauty and premium touches, the new 6 should come in at a price comparable to the Accord and Camry... two cars that when parked next to this one, will be all but invisible.

[Source: Autoblog]





Wednesday, September 5, 2007

2008 Audi RS6 Avant Leaked!

Hot on the heels of yesterday's unveiling of Mercedes' C63 Estate, are leaked specs and pics of the outrageous 2008 Audi RS6 Avant. Ingostadt's newest bahnburner boasts a twin-turbo version of the S8's 5.2L FSI V10 generating a fearsome 580bhp and 480 lb-ft. of torque. I'm loving every inch of this thing, from the bulging bodywork glistening in gorgeous blue pearl... to the stellar drivetrain that's sure to pick up where the brilliant RS4 leaves off... in both performance, and manhood-deflating price.

[Source: Auto Motor und Sport via AutoBlog, NetCarShow]






Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Mercedes Benz C63 AMG Estate

I love hot wagons. Pity then that the US market isn't worthy of their charms. The freshest face to enter the small niche is MB's C63 AMG. You get everything that makes the sedan worthwhile (457 bhp V8/newly blippy downshifting Speedshift 7G-Tronic/and re-engineered front suspension) plus a ton more room for all that junk you insist on carrying with you. All the extra room costs you is a tenth to 60... and probably a couple thousand clams. This goes on my if-i-were-rich-and-moved-to-Europe shortlist right under the Audi RS4 Avant.

[Source: Autoblog, rsportscars.com]