Thursday, January 31, 2008

Volvo XC 60 Prototype winter Testing

These are the latest spy shots of Volvo's XC 60, winter testing. Although the test vehicle is quite heavily disguised, we can still pick out some of the details that will be making it onto the actual model.

The profile of the car shows that the XC 60 will follow the same cab-forward design theme of it's bigger brother, the XC 90. The lower slung bonnet is indicative of the measures taken by manufacturers of SUVs to meet EU crash standards because a tall bonnet does more damage to pedestrians. A good example would be the new X5 compared to the previous generation.

The shape of the bonnet is also inline with showing less superior shape overall, so as to distinguish the smaller models from the larger ones, in the same way the BMW X3 looks lower in the front than the X5 or even when comparing the new GLK and the ML class from Mercedes. Hopefully all of this does not ruin the overall look of the car, taking into account how good the concept looked!

From the rear we can also see that the light clusters from Vovo's recent concept, which points at what the XC 60 will look like, are very similar on the test vehicle. Many feel that this could be a very important model for Volvo and there is no doubt that safety conscious buyers and Volvo fans in the medium sized SUV market are waiting in anticipation for when it launches in 2009.

Related entries:

Volvo XC60 Concept Revealed
Volvo XC60 SUV Images LEAKED

New Twingo Renaultsport Unveiled

Just a day after Renault announce they are to bring the Twingo further to the masses with the launch of their entry-level 'Extreme' model, things have just gotten a whole lot more extrême. It's not the first time that the hot hatch concept has come to the city car, but it's certainly the first time in Renaultsport form. Based largely on the Twingo concept car of 2006, the new Twingo Renaultsport is the third variant to gain the exclusive moniker, joining Clio and Megane hot hatch models.

Designed by Renault Sport Technologies' experts to achieve an affordable city car able both to deliver sports car performance and good day-to-day usability, the Twingo Renaultsport is a car born of a challenge. A 'fiery new' 1.6-litre petrol unit producing 133 hp satisifies the pursuit of an engine suitable in everyday driving and sporting punchiness, while for a refined drive with precise sports handling and responsiveness, the unit is mated to an efficient, balanced chassis.

Twingo Renaultsport is styled to thrill, packaging the compactness of its city car body with more curvaceous, assertive styling. Athletic wider wings, profiled sills and rear spoiler are all suitable additions, while strikingly prominent wheel arches are reminiscent of the previous-generation Clio V6 - a car enthusiasts lapped up with pride. Expect details inside to be similar to those in its siblings', namely optional bucket seats, chromed pedals, and a stylish sports fit and finish.

The new Twingo model was unveiled today near to Paris, France, alongside the international launch of the new R28 Formula 1 car. The F1 car was developed by the same Renaultsport team who developed the Clio, Megane and now new Twingo Renaultsport hatches. The car will make its public debut at March's Geneva Motor Show.

Press Release


Renault Sport Technologies profited from the international launch of the latest R28 Formula 1 single-seater in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris, France, today to take the wraps off Twingo Renault Sport. Renault's new, affordable, high-performance car slots into the Renault Sport range alongside its bigger sister cars, Clio and Mégane Renault Sport.

Twingo Renault Sport is a genuine hot hatch with looks to match and was designed to deliver both enjoyable roadholding and genuine sports performance. Its efficient, balanced chassis has been mated to a fiery but flexible 133hp engine to form a package that is sure to appeal to all those who seek sporting sensations and driving pleasure during everyday motoring.

Unmistakable sporting credentials

Renault has produced an affordable high-performance car which sits alongside Clio and Mégane Renault Sport in the Renault Sport range. Twingo Renault Sport's compact proportions and incisive, assertive styling are redolent of the Twingo Concept show car which was unveiled at the 2006 Paris Show. Twingo's existing lines are underpinned by a more curvaceous, athletic stance and the newcomer's sporty calling is further emphasized by its wider front and rear wings, profiled sills and spoiler.

Driving pleasure and sporting sensations during everyday motoring

Twingo Renault Sport is the response of Renault Sport Technologies' experts to a twopronged challenge, namely to deliver sports performance while at the same time ensuring that the new car is easy to use on a day-to-day basis. Twingo Renault Sport's chassis is both responsive and finely tuned to provide precise, balanced sports handling, while specific work on the pitch of its new 133hp 1,598cc engine reveals its punchy temperament.

The public will have the opportunity to examine Twingo Renault Sport in further detail at the forthcoming Geneva Motor Show.

Related entries:

New Renault Twingo Unveiled

New BMW M DKG Transmission

7-speed double-clutch with DriveLogic

The new BMW M3 Coupe, Sedan and Convertible will be the first to feature BMW's latest technological achievement. The M DKG is a seven-speed double clutch transmission with BMW M's DriveLogic.

The new transmission is capable of even faster gearshifts which result in faster acceleration than the six-speed manual of the new M3, improved fuel economy and reduced emissions. The M3 coupe is capable of a 0 - 100 km/h time of just 4.6 seconds (0.2 seconds faster than the manual) while still using only 11.9 liters of fuel per 100 km.

The transmission comes with an wide array of program choices, 11 to be precise. Five shift programmes in fully automatic mode, six in manual mode which are supplemened by the Launch Control program which will provide maximum use of every last horsepower from the 4.0 liter V8 (309 kW / 420 hp). We will have to wait and see whether this Launch Control is as capable as BMW claims.

As the name says, the M DKG uses two clutches, both are oil-cooled, one is used for the uneven gears and reverse while the other is used for the even gears. One clutch is of course in use while driving, while the other is already pre-engaged. This is the big secret behind the double-clutch system, resulting in almost instantaneous gearshifts.

BMW's Drivelogic system is capable of several different shifting options, ranging from F1 style as-fast-as-possible gearshifts to luxurious and smooth gearshifts for boulevard cruising. The transmission can be used through either a sports selector lever in the center console or aluminium paddle-shifters on the steering wheel.

New BMW M3 owners will be happy to hear that the M DKG transmission is capable of taking some punishment on the racetrack.

Press Release

New seven-speed transmission adds performance, even more refinement to BMW M3

Incomparably smooth, silky gearshifts in the blink of an eye, improved fuel economy and reduced emissions are just some of the benefits of the ground-breaking seven-speed M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic that has been developed by BMW M GmbH for the new BMW M3 Coupé, Sedan and Convertible.

On top of these benefits, the new M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic is able to produce lightning-fast gearshifts that result in accelerative abilities exceeding those of the six-speed manual transmission version of the new BMW M3.

The BMW M3 Coupé with M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic is able to accelerate from zero to 100km/h in just 4.6 seconds, or 0.2 of a second faster than the manual six-speed version, while returning an average fuel consumption of 11.9 litres/100 km.

As the world’s first seven-speed double-clutch gearbox developed for a high-torque, high-speed powerplant, the new BMW M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic simultaneously lifts refinement and efficiency to new levels while providing the driver with a wide range of options that adapt the system to the needs of the moment.

The new transmission offers as many as eleven driver-selectable electronically controlled driving program choices.

These include five shift programs in the fully automatic mode and six in manual mode, and are supplemented by a selectable Launch Control program that provides blistering off-the-line acceleration where the power from the 309 kW, 4.0-litre V8 M3 engine is transferred with maximum effect to the road.

The heart of the new BMW transmission is the double clutch system that acts to smooth out gearshifts to the point that they are often only discernible by watching the rise and fall of engine rpm on the M3’s tachometer.

Each oil-cooled wet clutch activates its own set of ratios - one is used for first, third, fifth and seventh gears, as well as reverse, while the other looks after second, fourth and sixth gears.

Gearshifts are effected by the disengagement of one clutch and the engagement of the other, moving seamlessly from the ratio in use to the next, preselected ratio.

The fact that the next ratio is preselected and engaged merely by activation of the clutch is the secret behind the amazingly smooth and efficient transition from gear to gear.

Combined with the BMW Drivelogic system that, as well as offering the driver a choice of seven specific operational modes, is also able to determine the appropriate mode according to the current driving style, the new transmission’s multi-faceted nature allows it to offer anything from rapid-fire F1-style shifting to smooth, luxurious behaviour suited to relaxed boulevard cruising.

The new M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic also incorporates a Low Speed Assistant mode that operates when manoeuvring at speeds less than 5 km/h to significantly increase the smoothness and degree of accelerator control available to the driver.

Gradient detection also means that the new M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic is able to determine the appropriate ratios when travelling up or down hills.

This avoids the "hunting" between gears so often experienced in regular automatics when travelling on undulating roads, while the appropriate selection of lower gears on downhill gradients helps maintain road speed by using the braking power of the engine.

The new M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic also offers the driver the choice of sequential operation via a sports selector lever in the centre console, or solid aluminium F1-style paddles on the steering wheel - right side for upshifts, left side for downshifts.

The range of shift programs available to the driver means it is possible for the M3 to behave with the grace and aplomb of a luxury car, or with the knife-edge rapidity and precision of a racecar - or anything in between.

In fully automatic D mode, the driver can select from five Drivelogic programmes that regulate both the gearshift speeds and the change points right through to the D5 mode where the engine is stretched close to its maximum rpm - depending on throttle position - on upshifts. In D1 mode, the M3 with M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic is able to start off in second gear to help avoid wheelspin in slippery conditions.

In manual mode, six different Drivelogic programmes allow a similar range of characteristics, with the added driver control provided by the ability to choose shift points manually. In S6 mode, the drive can also activate launch control by holding the shift lever in the forward position.

In keeping with the overtly dynamic abilities of the new BMW M3, the M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic, as well as being designed for engine speeds as high as 9,000 rpm, is also able to maintain correct operating temperatures even in the most extreme conditions - including racetrack operation - through its integration with the engine’s cooling system as well as the fact it also incorporates its own oil/air cooler.

The transmission’s interconnection with the engine cooling system also means a quicker temperature rise from startup, which contributes to reduced frictional losses and lower fuel consumption during the warm-up phase.

Faster shifting, smoother, and contributing even more to fuel economy and minimalised exhaust emissions, the new M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic raises the bar for sophisticated, high-performance motoring to new heights.

Related entries:

OFFICIAL: BMW M3 Convertible Revealed
Leaked: BMW M3 Cabrio
BMW M3 Cabrio Spied

BMW (SA) M3 Convertible: price, dates

BMW South Africa, manufacturers and exporters of 3 Series sedans to Japan, Australia, Singapore and other places, announced today the launch date of the new M3 Convertible.

Long spied and photographed - see side links - , M3 Convertible uses a hard folding top as opposed to the ragtop of previous models. It will launch in South Africa in May 2008, the same month as the appearance of the 1 Series Convertible. Not the best of months to let the cold breeze in, but South Africa does get a little warm around midday in winter in most parts, hence the sweaty convertible drivers who never know what time to close the top. Pricing for the sky-view is an “ouch”-inducing R744 500 (about USD 99,000).

Confirmed for the same time is BMW’s new M-DCT ‘box with its claimed quick changes that launch the vehicle 0.2 seconds faster than the manual. It was expected that M-DCT – M Double Clutch Transmission – would change seven times forward, but M Division decided otherwise, and stuck to six, despite some competitors (codenamed Lexus IS-F) even going for eight. M-DCT is a double-clutch system that works by pre-selecting the next gear before a driver selects it, thereby cutting the time it takes for changes to happen. Automatic mode can also be selected for slow traffic driving. The M-DCT option will set South Africans back some R783 500 (USD 106,000) for the Convertible, R702 000 (USD 94,800) coupe and R673 000 (USD 90,945) for the sedan.

We think a lot more South African dads will now be much happier transporting the kids to and from school than before.

Related entries:

OFFICIAL: BMW M3 Convertible Revealed
New BMW M3 Coupe (E92) - In Depth
BMW 1-Series Cabrio Revealed

Triumph Recreates Vintage Steve McQueen T-Shirt

UK motorcycle manufacture Triumph is paying tribute to Steve McQueen with the re-creation of a vintage t-shirt that was worn by the renowned actor while racing his Triumph motorcycle. The t-shirt is the first in a series of casual products that have been officially licensed by Steve McQueen's estate. If you’re interested, you’ll have to wait a bit as Triumph will launch the t-shirt on the 24th of March, the anniversary of McQueen’s 78th Birthday. It will be available in black and white, in both men's and women's sizes, from all Triumph Motorcycle dealers.

Do You Know This Man? Aussie Cops Searching For Crazy BBQ Motorcyclist

We’re not in the habit of snitching on anyone, but come on; this motorcyclist poses a serious danger not only for himself, but also for others. A passing motorist took this photo of the unknown biker last Sunday as he was traveling on the Eastern Freeway in the Kew area. According to the guy that took the pics, the biker was going around 100 km/h or 62 mph with a barbecue strapped to his body and a steel grate covering his whole face! Australian Police have checked out the photos and confirmed that they will investigate the matter.

Via: Herald Sun – Thanks for the link Simon!

2008 Dodge Challenger: Production Versions Spotter at Roush

One of readers sent us this picture earlier today featuring a pair of production Dodge Challengers sitting in front of the workplace of Ford Tuning specialist, Roush. We’re not jumping to any hasty conclusions but if anything else, the fact that the two Challengers where spotted there, does raise a few questions.

Thanks for the pic Oot!

Blue lexus

Blue lexus
2007 LA autoshow, originally uploaded by Dark Civic.

Geneva Preview: Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Officially Revealed

Unless you’re not one of our regular viewers, we don’t have anything more to say about the facelifted Mercedes-Benz SL-Class than what we’ve already told you in our previous posts. However, just for the sake of any newbies, here are the most significant changes: redesigned front end with new bi-xenon lights, bumper and grille, restyled rear bumper, seats with AIRSCARF neck-level heating, optionally available direct-steer system, new-look steering wheel, restyled instrument cluster and modified COMAND system.

As for the engine range, the 2009 SL is offered with a new entry-level version, the SL 280 fitted with a 230 HP 3.0-liter V6 engine while the SL 350 gets a newly developed 3.5-liter V6 unit delivering 316 HP. The SL 500 with a V8 engine and the top-of-the-range SL 600 with a V12 powerplant remain without changes. Sales in Europe start this April –Details and high res images after the jump


Mercedes-Benz will continue its long tradition of producing legendary sports cars when it launches the new-generation SL-Class in spring 2008. The world's most successful premium roadster in its class features a new design with the emphasis firmly on sportiness and effortless assurance. These traits are also reflected in the handling qualities of the two-seater model, which now delivers even more athletic performance thanks to the new direct-steer system as well as offering enhanced comfort and safety.

The SL 350 is powered by a newly developed, extremely high-revving sports engine boasting an impressive output of 232 kW/316 hp yet returns a fuel consumption figure that is 0.4 litres per 100 kilometres lower than that of its predecessor (NEDC). The SL range will now feature two six-cylinder models in the shape of the SL 350 and the new SL 280 (170 kW/231 hp) as well as the familiar SL 500 with a V8 engine and the top-of-the-range SL 600 with a V12 powerplant.

The Mercedes sports car extends its lead in the safety stakes courtesy of bi-xenon headlamps, included as standard, and the Intelligent Light System whose light functions are designed specifically for typical driving situations. Further new features on board include AIRSCARF neck-level heating. This system - invented by Mercedes-Benz and available as an optional extra - enhances comfort when driving with the roof down, extending the roadster season until well into the winter months. SL passengers are kept informed and entertained by the standard-fit COMAND multimedia system, which has also been fully redeveloped and features additional functions.

The new-generation SL caps a glorious history of Mercedes sports cars, which began in 1954 with the introduction of the legendary 300 SL "Gullwing", followed in 1957 by the launch of the first SL Roadster. To date, the Stuttgart manufacturer has produced a total of over 630,000 SL sports cars.

Like its predecessors, the new-generation SL also merits its "incomparable" tag. No other sports car in this market segment offers such a perfect balance of sportiness, safety and comfort. These three qualities are the cornerstones of highly eventful, active motoring that provides a profound sense of well-being - for hallmark Mercedes refinement at the highest, sportiest level.

New design idiom with unmistakable sporty overtones

When it came to developing a concept and design for the new-generation SL‑Class, the Mercedes-Benz engineers set out with the aim of accentuating the Roadster's sporty attributes even more strongly than before. This aspiration is reflected in the new front-end design featuring as its centrepiece a wide and, therefore, very dominant radiator grille whose V‑shape symbolises sporty virtues such as forwards thrust and performance potential.

A horizontal louvre makes the radiator grille appear wider and, in doing so, emphasises the powerful aspect of the SL's front end, making it seem surprisingly new yet also very familiar. By using expressive stylistics in this way, the Mercedes designers are able to forge a link with the SL's history and create a front-end design that is reminiscent of the earlier SL Roadster models, which also expressed their poise and assurance through wide, very distinctive radiator grilles. Hence the front-end design of the new-generation SL shows Mercedes-Benz taking the styling of the legendary sports car to the next level.

The designers also pay homage to the forefather of the SL model series: the two powerdomes on the bonnet and the gill-style air outlets in the front wings are unmistakable hallmarks of the 300 SL from 1954 and have been given a modern interpretation for the new Mercedes sports car.

These classic design features drawn from five decades of roadster tradition are
in stylish harmony with new elements of the modern Mercedes design idiom, including the distinctive V-shape of the front section and, above all, the headlamps, which are drawn deeply into the flanks, thus further emphasising the impression of breadth at the front end. As well as giving the SL a highly contemporary look, this striking headlamp design also sees the Roadster continuing its traditional role as a trendsetter. Just like its predecessors, the new‑generation SL features a front-end design that will serve as a template for future Mercedes passenger cars.

At the rear, too, the new-generation SL demonstrates its sporty nature even more clearly than before. This is achieved above all by a new, diffuser-look bumper which adds a motorsport touch. In conjunction with the equally new trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes this design element emphasises the width of the body, further symbolising the power just waiting to be unleashed by the roadster.

Direct-steer system: consummate sporty driving pleasure

The SL name is synonymous with driving pleasure as well as design. These Mercedes sports cars have always offered a scintillating driving experience that does not deal in compromises - neither in terms of handling dynamics nor by any means when it comes to comfort or safety. It was under this premise that the Mercedes engineers modified and perfected the SL technology, one example being the new, optionally available direct-steer system, which is as simple as it is ingenious and provides a whole new driving experience when cornering.

This new development is based on the familiar standard-fit speed-sensitive power steering system with lower steering forces - the benefit of which is noticeable above all when driving slowly, manoeuvring or parking. New features include a variable rack ratio, which adjusts in line with the steering angle, increasing sharply as soon as this reaches five degrees. All of which means that, compared to a steering system with a constant ratio, the driver does not have to move the steering wheel as much when cornering. The car's response is therefore noticeably more direct, allowing the driver to steer more spontaneously or, in other words, more sportily.

When driving slowly or parking, the new technology combines with the speed-sensitive power steering to provide even more comfort than before because the large ratio further reduces the steering effort required.

In addition, the SL still offers some of the very finest chassis technology available in the shape of four-link front suspension and multi-link independent rear suspension. Meanwhile the Active Body Control (ABC) system, specified as standard for the SL 500 and the SL 600, is a unique masterpiece. It compensates pitch, roll and yaw on the part of the body and adapts the suspension settings automatically to suit the current driving situation. This makes for excellent agility on the one hand and optimum driving stability on the other, without compromising the car's super levels of comfort. Mercedes‑Benz has further fine-tuned the ABC shock-absorber settings for the new-generation SL in order to bring a whole new quality to this unique blend of sportiness, comfort and safety.

Size 255/45 R 17 wide-base tyres and 17-inch light-alloy wheels are fitted as standard on the new SL 280 and SL 350 models, whereas the V8-powered SL 500 Roadster runs on 18-inch wheels shod with 255/40 R 18 tyres. And the exclusive character of the twelve-cylinder SL 600 model is accentuated by 18-inch ten-twin-spoke light-alloy wheels with 255/40 R 18 tyres at the front and 285/35 R 18 tyres at the rear.

Engines: new, extremely sporty six-cylinder powerplant

Mercedes-Benz is extending the SL-Class line-up by introducing an attractive entry-level model in the shape of the SL 280 developing 170 kW/231 hp. The six‑cylinder powerplant delivers its peak torque of 300 Nm from 2500 rpm and accelerates the roadster from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.8 seconds, whilst fuel consumption (NEDC) is just 9.4 litres per 100 kilometres.

For the SL 350, the Mercedes engineers have developed a V6 powerplant that brings the sporty qualities of the new SL generation right to the fore. The term "sports engine" could not be more apt: through a process of meticulous engineering, the Stuttgart specialists have further enlivened the temperament of the six-cylinder unit, enhancing its dynamic response dramatically. The engine responds instantaneously to movements of the accelerator pedal and can rev up to 7200 rpm in order to make full use of its power reserves in certain driving situations. Compared to the previous 3.5-litre engine, the output has been boosted by 16 percent to 232 kW/316 hp (at 6500 rpm), while the peak torque has been increased by 10 Nm and now stands at 360 Nm. This powerplant accelerates the new SL 350 from 0 to 100 km/h in a mere 6.2 seconds, making it 0.4 seconds faster than the outgoing SL 350.

In this case, however, the extra power does not come at the expense of fuel economy: with a consumption figure of 9.9 litres per 100 kilometres (NEDC), the new SL 350 undercuts the previous model developing 200 kW/272 hp by 0.4 litres per 100 kilometres.

The sporty character of the V6 power unit is also clearly audible. Its powerfully sonorous sound is the result of meticulous work carried out by sound designers. So these specialists also contribute to the sporty driving pleasure. In this respect, the standard-fit seven-speed automatic transmission also has an important role to play: on the one hand by allowing fast multiple downshifts when accelerating, on the other hand by providing a new double-declutching function that is activated during manual downshifts. As well as producing a sporty sound, this function also enhances comfort and safety as the double-declutching equalises the rotational speeds of the crankshaft and transmission. This set-up gives the driver the advantage of even more harmonious gear changes. Plus there is a noticeable reduction in load-change reactions.

The flagship engines in the SL line-up remain the eight-cylinder unit in the SL 500 developing 285 kW/388 hp and the V12 powerplant in the SL 600, which develops 380 kW/517 hp thanks to its twin turbochargers. The Mercedes engineers also worked meticulously on these models to further reduce fuel consumption by up to 0.4 litres per 100 kilometres.

Safety: lights for every driving situation, whatever the weather

For five decades, Mercedes sports cars have been setting the pace when it comes to innovative developments in active and passive safety for open-top cars: in the 1960s the SL was the first sports car to feature a safety body based on Béla Barényi's principle, while in the 1970s the SL pointed the way ahead with its three-point inertia-reel seat belts fitted as standard. These developments were followed by ABS and the airbag in the 1980s, while the automatic roll-over bar and the robust integral seats celebrated their world premieres in the early 1990s. The comprehensive range of safety equipment available for the Mercedes sports car was rounded off in 2001 following the introduction of innovations such as adaptive front airbags and head/thorax sidebags.

The new-generation SL continues this tradition, the main focus of the engineers' efforts this time being to improve driving safety at night and in fog. Hence the sports car is equipped as standard with powerful bi-xenon headlamps, which are considerably more powerful and more energy-efficient than comparable LED headlamps. In addition, the optionally available Intelligent Light System provides five different light functions designed specifically for typical driving situations and weather conditions: country mode, motorway mode, enhanced fog lamps, cornering light function and active light function. The variable-control bi-xenon headlamps activate the various light functions automatically. Motorway mode is activated in two stages when the speed exceeds 90 km/h, increasing the driver's range of vision by up to 60 percent.

When the active light function is activated, the headlamps pivot to the side in line with the steering angle when the driver enters a bend, allowing them to see around 25 metres further into a long bend than is the case with conventional dipped beam. The cornering light function is activated automatically at speeds below 70 km/h when the driver steers and/or indicates. This means that, as well as enhancing safety when turning at junctions or on slip roads, this light function is also active when cornering at low speed and improves illumination of the areas at the side of the carriageway. The enhanced fog lamps ensure better illumination of the verges, making it easier for drivers to get their bearings. The intelligent headlamp technology installed in the SL can therefore make an important contribution to road safety.

Interior: sporty ambience and hallmark Mercedes comfort

A look inside the new-generation SL shows what Mercedes designers mean when they talk about the "balance of sportiness and comfort". The integral seats, the new-look three-spoke leather steering wheel and the completely restyled instrument cluster immediately make it clear that this is a thoroughbred sports car. Everything fits perfectly, all the controls are easy to see and within just as easy reach. The speedometer and rev counter sport a classic chronometer design with new-look dials that promise unerring precision.

As soon as the ignition is switched on, the cockpit instruments grab the driver's attention: the red speedometer and rev counter needles are aroused from their "six o' clock position", rotate once around the dials to their maximum values and then revert to their zero positions. The message these needle movements convey to the driver is unmistakable: "start your engine".

A wide range of colours and materials allows Mercedes customers to design and appoint the interior of the new-generation SL to their individual tastes. There are two types of leather to choose from, as well as five different aluminium or fine-wood trims and five colour combinations. The interior looks especially luxurious and refined when specified with the new natural beige/black colour scheme and the new wood trim elements in pale burr walnut with a high-sheen finish.

The SL 600 underlines its top billing in the SL line-up even more clearly than before. Inside the passengers are cosseted by extremely soft Exclusive nappa leather and trim elements in elegant poplar wood. V12 emblems on the seat backrests, on the centre steering wheel spoke and on the door sills, as well as the uniquely designed interior door panels round off the refined twelve-cylinder ambience perfectly. On the outside, the flagship SL model is distinguishable by its exclusive 18-inch ten-twin-spoke light-alloy wheels and discreet yet highly effective detailing such as the matt-silver-painted louvres of the side air outlets and the centre divider in the trapezoidal exhaust tailpipe trims. Mercedes-Benz has upgraded the already extensive standard-equipment package by adding the KEYLESS-GO system and a remote-locking boot lid.

AIRSCARF: Mercedes invention extends the open-air season

The long list of systems that help to provide an outstanding level of comfort in the roadster includes a further innovation in the new-generation SL. AIRSCARF - the neck-level heating system developed and patented by Mercedes engineers - is so called because it distributes air at just the right temperature through the head restraints, forming a warm, invisible "scarf" around the driver and front passenger.

This Mercedes-Benz invention allows the occupants to enjoy open-air driving pleasure for longer and even more often than before. The roadster season lasts until well into the winter months as AIRSCARF provides the SL occupants with all the warmth they need.

The optionally available heating system, which celebrated its world premiere in the SLK Roadster in 2004, has been modified by the Mercedes engineers for the new SL generation. Now the blower and heating are incorporated in the head restraints of the integral seats: two small ventilators suck in air behind the head restraints and channel it through the electric heating element to ensure rapid heating. The temperature-controlled air then flows out of special openings on the front of the head restraints and warms the occupants' head and neck areas. Both driver and passenger can select the heating temperature using a three-position switch in the door lining; the system then controls the desired temperature automatically depending on the speed at which the car is being driven.

Infotainment: latest multimedia technology in the centre console

The new-generation SL is also fit for the future when it comes to information, entertainment and communications: Mercedes-Benz has further modified the standard-fit COMAND system, equipping it with additional functions. The result is infotainment par excellence: the multimedia device combines a car radio including a dual tuner with telephone controls, a CD/DVD changer and a slot for SD memory cards. Further new additions include a Bluetooth receiver, which connects a mobile phone to the standard-fit hands-free system wirelessly, and a large colour display (6.5"), which enhances user-friendliness and serves as a high-resolution screen for playing DVD films - although not whilst the car is being driven, for obvious safety reasons.

An even wider range of high-tech electronics is available ex factory: Mercedes customers can now order the optional COMAND APS system. Its additional features include a Europe-wide navigation system whose data are stored on a hard disc and therefore allow extremely fast route calculations. For playing music, there is an integrated six-disc CD/DVD changer and a Music Register for around 1000 MP3 tracks. A saved database enables automatic recognition of the music tracks and their artists. This information is then posted on the colour display.

The standard COMAND APS package also includes the latest-generation LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system, which controls the navigation, telephone and audio systems based on its ability to recognise entire words. This system is of great benefit as drivers no longer need to spell out their commands. Instead, they simply say what they want, whether it be a destination for the navigation system, a radio station or a name in the stored phone book.

For the first time, it is also possible to connect an iPod, USB stick or other external audio device to the COMAND system thanks to a newly developed, universal media interface in the centre console (optional). This UCI (Universal Consumer Interface) is more than just an electronic "socket", however; it also includes an ECU that links the external music memory to the SL's on-board electronics and control system. In this way, the iPod music tracks can also be indicated on the instrument cluster and on the COMAND display in the centre console. Plus they can be called up easily using the buttons on the multifunction steering wheel. The audio device's battery is charged for as long as the portable music memory is connected to the car via the UCI.

For a complete in-car music experience, Mercedes-Benz can equip the new-generation SL with the Harman Kardon "Logic7" sound system (optional extra), which is also used in the S-Class and whose performance has been confirmed in numerous tests. The sound system has an output of 510 watts and converts the SL interior into a mobile concert hall - whether the vario-roof is up or down - courtesy of ten high-performance loudspeakers and state-of-the-art surround technology.

The new-generation SL-Class will make its public debut in March at the International Motor Show in Geneva. It will then appear at Mercedes-Benz outlets and dealerships in Europe from April 5, 2008.

Nissan Navara Outlaw: Limited Edition Version Launched in Australia

Nissan Australia just announced that it's enhancing the Navara’s line-up with the addition of a limited edition version dubbed “Outlaw”. Based on the Navara ST-X with the 2.5-liter, 168 HP diesel engine, the Outlaw adds 17 inch alloy wheels, chrome side steps, chrome bonnet protector, alloy nudge bar, fog lights, Bluetooth connectivity, soft tonneau cover and an Outlaw decals. -Continued

The Navara Outlaw also comes with an upgraded stereo system comprising a six stack CD with AM/FM radio, MP3 compatibility and an auxiliary audio jack. Available with a choice of special Outlaw Red or Midnight Black paint schemes, the Navara’s price is set at $47,990 AUD or exactly $2000 over the standard ST-X diesel's price.

Volkswagen Tiguan Goes On Sale in The UK

The German carmaker’s first compact SUV is available from today at Volkswagen Retailers across the UK. From launch, the Tiguan is offered with two engines options – a 1.4-litre TSI 150 PS petrol and a 2.0-litre TDI 140 PS diesel – plus four trim levels, S, SE, Sport and Escape, all of which have standard 4MOTION four-wheel drive.

Escape models differentiate themselves from the rest of the range thanks to a front end treatment which is biased towards off-road applications, as well as a number of other features suited to venturing off the beaten track. Prices for the Tiguan start in the UK at £19,370 ($38,500 or €26,000) for the S 1.4-litre TSI manual. -Continued

Standard equipment levels on all models include alloy wheels, air conditioning, MP3 compatible stereo and CD player, ABS and ESP, plus twin front and side airbags and a curtain airbag system.

Old School Dodge

Official: Isuzu Abandons North American Passenger Vehicle Market

We had been hearing various rumours about Isuzu leaving the North American market the past few months, but now its officially-official; as from January 31, 2009, Isuzu will stop distributing new passenger vehicles in North America. Although the Japanese carmaker will cease supplying passenger vehicles, they will however continue to provide service support to their customer base and dealers for years to come. -Continued after the jump

In the official press release, Isuzu Motors America said it is leaving the North American market because General Motors may discontinue the Ascender Sport Utility Vehicle, and the i-290 and i-370 pickup trucks in the near future. Of course, the fact that Isuzu’s sales in the States fell from 103,997 units in 1999 to 7,098 in 2007 may have something to do with that decision.

Via: AN (Sub. req.)

Geneva Preview: 2008 Renault Twingo RS

European consumers searching for an affordable hot hatch will soon be able to add one more car to their list as Renault today took the wraps off the long-awaited Twingo RenaultSport (RS for short). Inspired from the Twingo Concept that was unveiled at the 2006 Paris Motor Show, the Twingo RS car slots into the Renaultsport range alongside its bigger sister cars, Clio and Megane RS.

Apart from the relatively aggressive bodykit that includes wide fenders, new front and rear bumpers along with larger alloy-rims, the Twingo RS also features a new 1.6-liter engine delivering 133 HP along with various chassis refinements (suspension, brakes etc.). Unfortunately, that’s all Renault decided to share with us for the time being. We’ll have more on the new Twingo RS closer to the car’s debut at the 2008 Geneva Show in early March. -Image gallery after the jump