Thursday, December 31, 2009

Audi O Sports Car Concept is fuel efficient diesel/electric hybrid drivetrain

Audi O Sports Car Concept

The Audi O concept was designed to fuse a powerful and innovative audio system with a stylish and sporty four-seat hatchback. The exterior design uses several Audi trademark styling themes, especially at the front where the square grille sits neatly between the LED headlights.
Audi O Sports Car Concept

The doors feature glass windows running along the bottom edge which provide an interesting shape to the profile of the car. At the rear of the car the pullout door echoes the design of the squared off Audi grille. The 2008 Audi O concept was designed by Ondrej Jirec, a design student from the Czech Republic who is beginning studies at the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California in 2008.
Audi O Sports Car Concept

The interior of the Audi O concept is bright and airy thanks to a full length panoramic roof which floods the cabin with light. Inside, the passenger compartment has been separated from the engine compartment by a double firewall to help keep out external noise which might interfere with the powerful sound system.
Audi O Sports Car Concept

The Audi O concept features a unique audio system which has internet connectivity for downloading music onto the built-in 650 GB hard drive. When parked up a Bluetooth system can connect two or more Audi O cars to play audio over a wider area. In this situation, a host Audi O is set to be the source of sound and the other vehicles act as speakers.
Audi O Sports Car Concept

The Audi O also features a pullout rear door fitted with a DJ set with mixing decks. The decks can also be removed and used anywhere outside the car.
Powering the Audi O concept is fuel efficient diesel/electric hybrid drivetrain.

Sebring Debut: Corvette Racing boss Doug Fehan confirms new 5.5L V8

Corvette Racing 2009 Review: Doug Fehan Q&A
The First in a Series of Conversations with Corvette Racing

DETROIT – Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan has seen it all in motorsports, and he had to rely on every element of that hard-earned experience to navigate through a tumultuous 2009 season. In the midst of a global economic storm, Fehan steered Corvette Racing to the team's sixth win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the successful mid-year introduction of the GT2 version of the Corvette C6.R in the American Le Mans Series.

Corvette Racing's 10th anniversary season was a year of transition. The championship-winning GT1 Compuware Corvettes secured a seventh win in the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 21, and made their farewell appearance in the ALMS in Long Beach, Calif., on April 18. The curtain fell on the GT1 era on June 13-14 with a GT1 victory in Le Mans, France, as Johnny O'Connell, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia stood on the top step of the podium. Seven weeks later, two new-generation Corvette C6.Rs made their competition debut in the GT2 class at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

As the team conducted a five-race test program in preparation for a unified GT class in 2010, Corvette Racing posted five podium finishes and notched its first GT2 win at Mosport International Raceway on August 30. In the series' final five rounds, Corvette Racing scored more team and manufacturer points than any other GT2 entry, and O'Connell and Magnussen tallied the most points in the GT2 drivers championship. The season ended with fireworks at Laguna Seca as Magnussen walked away from his battered race car after a high-speed crash on the final lap of the season.

Under Fehan's leadership, Corvette Racing has become one of the world's premier production sports car teams. An ardent advocate for the Corvette cause and an icon for legions of faithful Corvette fans; Fehan received the ALMS "From the Fans" award in 2004, 2008, and 2009. In the following Q&A, he looks back at the 2009 season and looks ahead to 2010.

Q: Looking in the rearview mirror, what stands out in 2009?

Fehan: "There were really two parts to the season – our final races in GT1 leading up to Le Mans, followed by the debut of the GT2 program. Our focus was and will always be the 24 Hours of Le Mans. When GM was going through its restructuring, our greatest concern was that some might not understand the importance and significance of that event. It was a heartening moment when we were able to get past that point.

"In spite of many uncertainties, the team focused its energy on running the first round at Sebring, which we knew would be a great test of the engineering improvements we'd made in the race cars. And then going to Long Beach, we fulfilled the second half of our mission, which is marketing the Corvette and Chevrolet brands and representing our team sponsors.

"Everyone felt the importance of writing the final chapter of GT1 at Le Mans. They dedicated themselves to succeed, and it was absolutely amazing to see them embrace that idea. It fueled their fire because they knew the team was undergoing its most significant challenge, and concurrently they were designing, planning and building the GT2 cars. The preparation was almost as much fun as the race."

Q: And the highlight of the GT2 portion?

Fehan: "The win at Mosport. Watching the new cars' first laps at Mid-Ohio and knowing that we'd be competitive was certainly exciting, but the victory at Mosport was overwhelming. It happened much sooner than we expected, and it showed ALMS fans what they have to look forward to in 2010 with competition between Corvette, Ferrari, Porsche, Jaguar, BMW, and Ford.

"I think by any measure, the GT2 Corvette introduction was successful. Our objective was to focus on Corvette Racing's core strengths: preparation, durability and reliability. We've learned that is what scores points – it's not always the fastest car that wins races and championships. In five events, we had zero mechanical issues, and the cars were on pace. That was very encouraging."

Q: Surely one of the highlights of 2009 was your stunning victory over Jan "The Flying Viking" Magnussen in the Tour de Road America Bike Ride to Fight Cancer?

Fehan: "That certainly ranks right at the top, but in a different category (laughs). We had some fun, and the race benefited a good cause, the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I challenge the pit crews to improve continuously, and the bike race demonstrated to our drivers that there is going to be continuous improvement in their level of physical preparation as well. I mean, they ought to be able to keep up with the program manager!"

Q: On a serious note, what were the lessons learned in Jan's last-lap crash at Laguna Seca?

Fehan: "Unfortunately the hardest lessons you learn in this sport are always safety related. You never want to put your safety systems to the test, but when that moment arrives, it's very reassuring to know that they are validated. That's what we learned at Laguna Seca.

"Initially we had concerns about running an aluminum chassis, and we had concerns about how the roll cage was integrated into the chassis. The force of the impact exceeded 50 g's, and yet Jan walked away. When we analyzed the chassis after the crash, the safety systems worked just as they were designed, and the aluminum chassis did a marvelous job of absorbing the energy and protecting Jan from serious injury.

"The extent of Jan's injuries was a broken tailbone, which we attribute to the seat design. We have redesigned that part to prevent a reoccurrence in the future, so that is the upside of the incident. Despite the severity of the crash, the crew had the No. 3 Corvette repaired and fully operational within a couple of weeks."

Q: What is the status of the GT-spec Corvette customer car program for 2010?

Fehan: "We currently have two customer cars under construction, but we don't yet have confirmed buyers for them. There has been tremendous interest in the GT-spec Corvette C6.Rs, and we think with continued improvement in the global economy, the interested parties will be able to make a commitment. We'd be delighted to see more Corvettes racing in the ALMS or overseas."

Q: While there will be a single GT class in the ALMS in 2010, GT1 will continue in the FIA series and at Le Mans. What's your perspective on the two classes?

Fehan: "A year ago, there was general agreement regarding a unified GT class, which we will see in the ALMS in 2010. The intention at that time was to base the FIA GT1 class on GT cars, with limited modifications to the engine and aerodynamics. Since then, however, Europe has encountered the same economic issues that we have faced in the U.S., and many members of the racing community understandably wish to retain their current cars for financial reasons. Consequently some of the older GT1 cars will now be converted to the new regulations, including several privately owned Corvette C6.Rs, and the ACO has invited these cars to participate at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the economic climate improves, I hope that the decision makers will recognize the benefits of running one GT class at Le Mans and other venues."

Q: Corvette Racing will introduce a production-based 5.5-liter small-block V-8 engine in 2010 in place of the 7.0-liter and 6.0-liter engines used previously. What's the outlook for the engine program?

Fehan: "GM Powertrain has completed the initial dynamometer tests of the 5.5-liter small-block V8, and the race team has conducted the first track test with the new engine. We are quite satisfied with its performance level at this point. We plan to continue development and introduce the 5.5-liter engine package in competition at Sebring."

Q: What are Corvette Racing's goals for 2010?

Fehan: "The ALMS GT championship and victory at Le Mans."

Corvette Racing's next event is the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla., on March 20, 2010. The classic 12-hour endurance race will be televised live on SPEED starting at 10 a.m. ET.
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Hartge upgrades their kit for the 2010 BMW Z4

For the exterior, Hartge has created a new front apron that covers the air inlets, carbon fiber mirror caps, a discreet boot lid spoiler, a wind deflector, pin stripes and a four-piece exhaust system.

Inside, new upgrades are available, starting with a new set of aluminum pedals, instrument cluster and Hartge branded floor mats

Customers can also give the hardtop roadster an even sportier stance with the addition of Hartge's alloy wheels that are available in numerous designs in sizes 18- to 20-inches, and a suspension lowering kit.

After showing us its initial offerings for the new BMW Z4 that were limited to a few alloy wheel options, a dual-pipe exhaust system and a new speedometer, Hartge has taken one step further by releasing a new set of upgrades for the hardtop roadster.

No engine upgrades are available at the moment, but expect next year to see a new engine kit.


Spyker would preserve Saab product plans, could sell own supercars in select dealers

In a far-reaching interview with AOL Autos this morning, Spyker Cars CEO Victor Muller revealed some interesting tidbits about his company's plan for Saab if they can successfully negotiate for its purchase from parent company General Motors.

In news that will surely be welcomed by Saab dealers and customers, Muller says Spyker has decided it would not pursue plans to winnow Saab's U.S. dealer network from 218 showrooms to 137. In fact, the Dutch businessman suggests that it would be reasonable to expect Spyker to sell its own cars within Saab showrooms in the future (they are presently distributed through Bentley and Lamborghini outlets). Down the road, Spyker's supercars could benefit from Saab's all-wheel drive expertise, among other things.

In a product plan that sounds distinctly like those previously floated by Saab executives in Sweden, the Dutch supercar builder would have Saab rebuild its brand around the 9-3, new-for-2010 9-5, and the 9-4X crossover. An entry-level 9-1 model would not be a consideration, although Muller admits he'd still love to build a production version of 2006's celebrated Aero X concept (shown above). If Saab were to go that route, Spyker's experience in building low-volume supercars would clearly be an asset in bringing it to market.

Naturally, all of this future product discussion will be moot if Spyker and its investors can't get GM to hand over the keys to the perennially embattled brand. A newly extended deadline for sales negotiations to be completed was set by GM on Wednesday, and we should know not long after January 7 what fate awaits the brand.

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WCF Top 10 Production Cars of 2009

2010 Saab 9-5
2010 Saab 9-5

1. 2010 Saab 9-5 - 267,642 visits
The most popular production (intended) car of 2009 is the second generation Saab 9-5. It's ironic as we await news of the brand's survival as GM evaluates prospective offers to buy the brand but continues to phase out operations. It has been reported today that GM will commence production of the all-new 9-5 but on a tentative scale to only fill orders already placed.

2010 Mercedes-Benz S-Class facelift - 1280
2010 Mercedes-Benz S-Class facelift - 1280

2. 2010 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Facelift - 266,127 visits
As evidence of how visually conscious Mercedes enthusiasts are for their beloved S-Class, the facelifted full-size premium sedan takes the number 2 spot on the list. Surprising, as this is not a new model but just a minor cosmetic remodeling of the S-Class which has been on the market since 2006.

Ferrari 458 Italia
Ferrari 458 Italia

3. 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia - 258,815 visits
The core model of the Ferrari empire, the all-new mid-rear engined 458 Italia replaces the much loved F430. Power comes from a new direct injection 4499cc V8 engine that produces 570 bhp (425 kW / 578 PS) and 540 Nm of torque. As the pop-star of the supercar world, the F458 is guaranteed to grace the bedroom walls of teenagers the world over.

2010 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG
2010 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

4. 2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG - 255,027 visits
January saw the debut of the 2010 Mercedes E-Class, yet another leader in the mid-size premium sedan segment. Surprisingly, it did not make it to the top 10 list as a result of numerous leaks which diffused its impact leading up to the official release. However, the top of the range E 63 AMG variant captivated readers with its menacing looks and 518bhp (386kW) 6.3-liter (6208cc) V8 engine. The 2009 E 63 AMG sedan was unveiled at the New York International Auto Show in April.

VW Scirocco R - 1600
VW Scirocco R - 1600

5. 2010 VW Scirocco R - 254,315 visits
Marked with an R designation, the Scirocco revival was finally granted VW's highest level of power output of 265hp via the same 2.0-liter TFSI engine found in the Audi S3 and Golf R. As VW's sportiest coupe since the Corrado, enthusiasm runs high for this model. The result of 5th most read article on WCF in 2009 proves it.

2011 BMW 5-series F10 Sedan
2011 BMW 5-series F10 Sedan

6. 2011 BMW 5-Series - 251,211 visits
The mid-size premium sedan segment has always been a top attraction on WCF, and the all-new sixth generation BMW 5-Series is no different. Surprised it didn't make it to the top half of the list, the 2011 5-Series plays down the baroque stylings of it's predecessor with a more traditional BMW approach. As a result, comparissons have been made to the hallowed fourth generation E39 5-Series of the late 1990s.

2010 Jaguar XJ
2010 Jaguar XJ

7. 2010 Jaguar XJ - 241,324 visits
Pegged as Jaguar's breakthrough vehicle after three generations and over 40 years of XJs all cast from the same mold, the 2010 XJ signaled a new design direction. Unveiled during an exclusive event at London's Saatchi Gallery in July, hopes run high as the executive XJ attempts to ignite a new customer experience.

BMW 550i GT
BMW 550i GT

8. 2010 BMW 5-Series GT - 225,083 visits
The only vehicle to make both WCF Top 10 lists, the 5-Series GT in production form was offically revealed in May with much controversy. As a "mixed-breed" of various passenger car formats, the 5-Series GT captured WCF visits for both fandom and morbid curiousity.

2010 BMW 760i
2010 BMW 760i

9. 2010 BMW 760i and 760Li - 208,708 visits
BMW's flagship model with a new top of the range all-aluminum 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 was unveiled in April. Directly aimed at the 5.5-liter biturbo V12 Mercedes S600 with 380 kW (517 hp) and 829 Nm (612 lb-ft) of torque, the new BMW 760 has more horsepower but less torque. Nonetheless, BMW fans and cynics alike put this story as the 9th most read story on WCF in 2009.

Mosler MT900 GTR XX by IAD
Mosler MT900 GTR XX by IAD

10. 2009 Mosler MT900 GTR XX - 204,291 visits
Revealed exclusively through WCF, the production based car gave a crushing blow to enthusiasts worldwide with a proclaimed 2500hp. Nicknamed "The Land Shark," the car is a stripped down and rebuilt Mosler MT900 GTR XX which weighs a full 250 kg (551 lbs) less than the already lightened GTR XX coming in at 861 kg (1898 lbs) with its fuel tanks full. The specs presented for such a concept are impressive to say the least, but left us feeling doubtful. Check out the story to see why.

2011 Honda CR-Z Hybrid Coupe: New Video Shots of Production Model

Continuing the saga of leaks, new photos of the production version of Honda's hotly anticipated 2011 (or 2010, depends on the market) CR-Z hybrid coupe have made their way onto the web. This time, we have a series of screen shots from a video that we have yet to discover. In JDM spec, the 21st century CR-X comes with a hybrid powertrain that combines a 1.5-liter four-cylinder petrol unit with an electric motor.

According to the official brochure that was leaked earlier this month, the petrol unit makes 114ps (84kW or 113 HP) at 6,000 rpm and a peak torque of 145Nm (107 lb-ft) at 4,800 rpm, while the electric motor, 14ps (10kW or 13.4 HP) at 1,500 rpm and 78Nm (58 lb-ft) at 1,000 rpm.

It doesn't sound much, but at least customers will have the option of a six-speed manual transmission in addition to the more traditional for a hybrid model, CVT.

The Japanese version of the CR-Z is said to accelerate from standstill to 100 km/h (62mph) in an uninspiring 9.7 seconds.

In the leaked leaflet, Honda mentions that the CR-Z will return 25.0 km/lt (58.8mpg US or 4.0 lt/100km) and 22.5 km/lt (52.9 mpg US or 4.5 lt/100km), but as we noted then, we are not sure what the numbers refer to.

Japan will first be the first market to receive the production version of the CR-Z in February 2010, with Europe and North America to follow later in the year.

Via: Gazoo