Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New York Auto Show: 2011 Mercedes SLS AMG GT3

Mercedes-Benz introduced a new race car during the New York Auto Show earlier today.  The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 will be used in competition beginning in 2011.

The 2011 Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 is powered by the AMG 6.3-litre V8 front-mid engine with dry sump lubrication coupled with a sequential six-speed racing transmission steering wheel shift paddles. The 2011 Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 also comes with an multi-disc locking differential integrated in the
transmission. The engine and the transmission of the 2011 Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 are connected via a torque tube within which a carbon-fiber shaft rotates at the engine speed, as in the roadgoing version.

The SLS AMG GT3 features a new new front apron with a splitter, the bonnet with central cooling air vent, wider front and rear wings, sideskirts with cooling ducts for the rear brakes, a rear diffuser and the adjustable rear aerofoil.

That light-weight body is made entirely of carbon fiber, with impressive new aerodynamics including a massive front splitter, rear diffuser and enormous rear spoiler. Compared to the road car, the GT3’s bodywork is two inches wider, enough to accommodate some massive center locking 18×12-inch front and 18×13-inch rear wheels with racing slicks. Inside those wheels is a special composite AMG race braking system with six-piston front calipers and four-piston rear calipers.

The 2011 Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 price was not announced yet, but Daimler mentioned that sales will start in autmun 2010.

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Press Release

Automobile fascination paired with spectacular race car design - that is the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. The racing version of the SLS AMG has been conceived as a customer sport vehicle for participation in race series based on FIA GT3 regulations. Meticulous lightweight construction and optimized chassis, brakes and aerodynamics deliver uncompromising dynamics. The extra special SLS AMG will make its race track debut in 2011.

The clean design and breathtaking form of the SLS AMG have been effectively accentuated by targeted modifications to the bodyshell. The new components, made largely from lightweight carbon fiber offer a clear indication of extraordinary race track performance and extensive aerodynamic development work.

From the front, the GT3 race car boasts a new front skirt with enlarged air intakes. The wide opening beneath the characteristic radiator grille bearing the large Mercedes star and the wing-shaped horizontal fins supplies air to the engine oil cooler and brake discs. The same function is served by the two intakes below the vertical bi-xenon headlamps. Downforce on the front axle is provided courtesy of four externally mounted side flics, as well as a carbon front splitter; it runs directly into the smooth underbody panel, which connects to the rear diffuser.

The hood features a central opening for the extraction of heat from the engine, while side openings in the front fenders facilitate air flow through the wheel arches. Weight optimization measures include the application of extremely lightweight polycarbonate for the side and rear windows and, if desired, for the front windshield as well.

The fenders have been widened front and rear to accommodate the large racing tires. With a breadth of 78.3 inches, the GT3 bodyshell is a good 2 inches wider than the series production SLS AMG. The new sills feature openings for cooling the rear brakes, with the smooth underbody visible along the underside of the sills. The B-pillar houses the standardized fuel tank adapter for the rapid refueling system. The 31.7 gallon fuel tank is located centrally behind the driver.

Wide rear carbon spoiler

The rear view of the SLS AMG GT3 is dominated by its imposing width. Above the rear hatch sits a wide carbon fiber spoiler; it is extensively adjustable and facilitates perfect setup to suit individual race track characteristics. The new rear skirt accommodates two openings for extracting air from the rear wheel arches. A further visual highlight is the rear carbon fiber diffuser; it rises smoothly from the rear axle area as a continuation of the smooth underbody, its form adding to the downforce. The overall aerodynamic concept of the SLS AMG GT3 was analyzed and defined through extensive wind tunnel and race track testing.

The black exhaust end pipes deliver a fascinating and, at the same time, characteristic AMG eight-cylinder sound. The regulation rain lamp is integrated into the rear hatch - it must be switched on by the driver in poor weather conditions.

Close to series production AMG 6.3 liter V8 engine

As defined in the FIA GT3 regulations, the AMG 6.3 liter V8 engine is virtually identical to that of the series production vehicle. Thanks to its low weight, the acceleration figures for the GT3 - 3.7 seconds for the sprint from 0 to 60 mph - are considerably below the already excellent figures for the series production vehicle. Depending on gear ratio, the top speed is more than 186 mph.

The AMG 6.3 liter V8 engine uses dry sump lubrication in the racing vehicle, too. The application of a suction and pressure pump, as well as an external oil tank means that the conventional oil sump can be omitted. This technology ensures reliable lubrication of the engine under high lateral acceleration, of the kind usually experienced on the race track.

Dry sump lubrication also facilitates a low mounting position for the V8 power unit - one of the key technological highlights of the SLS AMG. The solution - installing the eight-cylinder as low as possible and as a front mid engine behind the front axle, combined with a transaxle transmission layout - results in excellent weight distribution.

Six-speed racing transmission with sequential shift

In contrast to the series production vehicle, the SLS AMG GT3 is equipped with a six-speed racing transmission with sequential shift. Thanks to its compact construction, the race-tested transmission offers considerable packaging benefits - ultimately, the GT3 version has less ground clearance than the series production vehicle. The driver shifts gear using two shift paddles on the steering wheel. The transmission is mounted directly on the rear axle and connected to the V8 engine via a torque tube, which has a very high degree of flexural and torsional stiffness. This delivers considerable benefits when it comes to dynamics, as this sophisticated solution enables the entire driveline to be laid out with significantly less play. Alongside the traction control, a multi-plate locking differential integrated into the transmission delivers outstanding acceleration characteristics. Inside the torque tube, a drive shaft rotates at engine speed. As in the series production model, and in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class DTM touring car, the shaft is made from carbon fiber.

With its long wheelbase, low center of gravity and wide track, the SLS AMG vehicle concept was predestined for the race track - its strengths include precise turn-in characteristics, first-class agility, low inertia under sudden changes of direction and a high cornering limit.

It required only minimal modification for perfect race track performance. The lightweight aluminum chassis with double wishbone suspension at all four corners has modified kinematics to take into account the lower vehicle height. The array of adjustability options facilitates optimal modification to suit individual race track characteristics and varying weather conditions. As well as the ability to vary the spring and damper setup, there is also the freedom to adjust track and camber, vehicle height and the stabilizers on the front and rear axles.

Like the series production SLS AMG, the GT3 version is also equipped with rack and pinion steering with speed-dependent power assistance. The more direct input ratio facilitates even greater handling agility on the race track.

AMG race braking system using composite technology

Shortest stopping distances, highest stability and optimal control are guaranteed by the AMG race braking system. All four corners feature brake discs in motorsport-tested composite technology. Gray cast iron axial and radial floating discs are fixed to an aluminum hat via stainless steel composite elements. This sophisticated technology enables perfect heat dissipation and thus reliable stability. The SLS AMG GT3 is also equipped with precisely calculated cooling channels - openings in the front skirt and ahead of the rear wheels direct cool airflow over the brake discs. All four brake discs are ventilated, slotted and drilled. Six-pot fixed calipers on the front axle and four-pot fixed calipers at the rear, finished in anthracite with the AMG logo in white, provide plenty of brake pad surface. An anti-lock brake system with special race track settings is fitted as standard. Due to space restrictions, the AMG high-performance ceramic composite brake system, available as an option on the series production vehicle, is not compatible with the 18-inch wheels prescribed by FIA regulations.

The AMG center-locking alloy wheels - 12x18 inches front and 13x18 inches rear - are fitted with racing tires in formats 11.3 x 26.9 inches (front) and 12.4 x 27.9 inches (rear). Depending on the application, the tires are available as profile-free slicks, intermediates or wet weather tires. The classic multi-spoke design aids ventilation of the braking system. Fast pit stops and wheels changes are ensured by the pneumatic lift system integrated into the underbody. Four pneumatic rams raise the GT3 race car by around 7.5 inches, enabling the pit crew to change the racing tires in double quick time.

Interior with racing bucket seat and race steering wheel

On opening the gullwing doors, the SLS AMG GT3 displays a functional interior with a distinctly race car feel. The driver sits in a racing bucket seat fitted with a six-point harness and the HANS system (Head and Neck Support) that fixes the helmet in place in the event of an accident, thus minimizing the risk of injury. Additional safety comes courtesy of the steel roll cage, which also serves to further stiffen the aluminum spaceframe.

A steering wheel with a diameter of 13 inches facilitates perfect vehicle control. Because it is open at the top, the driver always has a perfect view of the central display, which provides all relevant information such as road speed, engine speed, operating temperatures, lap times and gear selection. The steering wheel is fitted with a quick-release mechanism that makes entering and exiting the vehicle considerably easier. The switches on the steering wheel hub enable the driver to activate additional functions such as the pit radio, headlamp flasher and the drink supply. Further operating elements are mounted on the center console and include the start/stop function for the AMG V8 engine, the traction control, reverse gear and - just in case - the integrated fire extinguisher. The control for adjusting brake balance is located on the torque tube tunnel.

The close relationship between the GT3 and its series production sibling is demonstrated by the instrument cluster, with its powerfully taut wing profile providing visual breadth. Integrated into the dash are the highly distinctive air vents galvanized in "Silver Shadow" and with adjustable cross-shaped nozzles - their form evocative of a jet engine.

Deliveries of customer vehicles to start early 2011

The new SLS AMG GT3 has been developed in accordance with FIA GT3 regulations and is entitled to participate in all GT3 race series - including the popular 24-hour races in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, and on the Nürburgring in Germany. Interested customers can order the vehicle starting in autumn 2010, with delivery scheduled prior to the start of the 2011 racing season. Homologation will be completed in March 2011.

New York 2010: Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

Ford’s Lincoln brand revealed its first hybrid—the new mid-size 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid—during the press preview to the New York International Auto Show. Lincoln’s premium hybrid is expected to deliver at least 41 mpg US (5.7 L/100km) in the city when it goes on sale this fall.

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. The combined gasoline engine and electric motor provide 191 net horsepower (142 kW). The pure electric mode on the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid extends to 47 mph (76 km/h). The 2011 MKZ Hybrid also offers a new implementation of FOrd’s SmartGauge with EcoGuide. The interactive technology provides real-time information to help drivers maximize fuel efficiency, and coaches drivers on how to optimize hybrid performance.

These are the SmartGauge with EcoGuide known as the successful interactive technology provides real-time information to help drivers maximize fuel efficiency but also the Lincoln SYNC (Lincoln-exclusive voice-activated communications and entertainment system), 10-way power passenger seat, power driver memory seat settings, heated and cooled front seats, genuine wood trim, reverse sensing system, keyless entry keypad, easy fuel capless fuel-filter, personal safety system, MyKey, integrated spotter mirrors and acoustic laminated windshield.

The PRs at Ford have also prepared an impressive list of standard features and technologies on the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, which are either not offered on the Lexus HS 250h or are available only at an extra cost.


2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

Press Release

  • New 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid expected to be most fuel-efficient
    luxury sedan in America
  • Lincoln MKZ Hybrid takes SmartGaugeTM with EcoGuide to
    next level, offering drivers enhanced positive feedback on long-term
    fuel efficiency and driving performance
  • More standard luxury, technologies and segment-exclusive safety
    features in the new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid help it top its nearest
    competitor, the 2010 Lexus HS 250h

NEW YORK, March 31, 2010 - Lincoln today introduces its first hybrid -
the new 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid - a premium midsize car poised to be the
most fuel-efficient luxury sedan in America.

Ford Motor Company - America's largest domestic hybrid seller - is
further broadening its aggressive electrification plan and second generation
of hybrid technology with the new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. The vehicle is
revealed today at the New York International Auto Show.

"Lincoln's hallmarks are design, technology and comfort. Now, Lincoln
also delivers the best fuel efficiency of any luxury sedan in America," said
Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas.

Lincoln's first-ever hybrid is expected to deliver at least 41 miles per
gallon in the city when it goes on sale this fall.

The new premium midsize sedan hybrid joins Ford Motor Company's growing
lineup of hybrids, including the Ford Fusion Hybrid - 2010 North American
Car of the Year and America's most fuel-efficient sedan - plus the Ford
Escape Hybrid and Mercury Milan and Mariner Hybrids.

Introduction of the new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid also complements Ford's
aggressive global electrification plan. Ford is introducing five new
electrified vehicles by 2013. They include the Transit Connect Electric in
late 2010, the Focus Electric in 2011, a next-generation hybrid electric
vehicle and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) in 2012, followed by
another next-generation hybrid electric vehicle in 2013.

The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid's projected fuel economy tops its nearest
competitor - the 2010 Lexus HS 250h - by 6 mpg. It also trumps the Lexus
with room for one more passenger and more standard luxury and
segment-exclusive safety features.

"Today's luxury customers do not want to make sacrifices. Lincoln has
found a way to deliver a luxury sedan with the comforts they expect, the
technology they want and the environmental responsibility society demands,"
said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president, Global Product Development.

The 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid uses Ford's second-generation hybrid
technology - the 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle I-4 hybrid engine, named one of
Ward's 2010 "10 Best Engines."

The system combines the best attributes of the gasoline engine and
electric battery-driven motors to deliver optimal performance and fuel

Industry-leading fuel economy comes without sacrificing power. The
combined gasoline engine and electric motor provide 191 net horsepower.
Plus, the pure electric mode on the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid extends to 47 mph -
compared with the Lexus HS 250h battery-only mode, which reaches just 25

More standard luxury

The 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid comes standard with features and technologies
that are either not offered on the Lexus HS 250h or are available only at an
extra cost. They include:

  • SmartGauge with EcoGuide - Ford's highly successful interactive
    technology provides real-time information to help drivers maximize fuel
    efficiency, and coaches drivers on how to optimize hybrid performance.
    Lincoln takes SmartGauge to the next level of engagement by giving
    drivers enhanced positive feedback on long-term fuel efficiency and
    driving performance through the "growth" of virtual small flowers on the
    system's right-most screen. Lincoln's white flowers, inspired by apple
    blossoms, remain permanently unless long-term fuel economy is reset.
  • Lincoln SYNC® - The Lincoln-exclusive voice-activated communications
    and entertainment system provides an omnipresent link to contacts and
    information. In addition to Bluetooth® phone, audible text and MP3
    player capabilities, Lincoln customers also can access Vehicle Health
    Report and 911 Assist
  • 10-Way Power Passenger Seat - This seat is designed to accommodate a
    diverse group of passengers. Memory functions enable passengers to
    fine-tune and recall their positions.
  • Power Driver Memory Seat Settings - The driver seat memory feature
    helps ensure personal seating preferences anytime, with the touch of a
  • Heated and Cooled Front Seats - This uniquely engineered system
    delivers exceptional heating and cooling comfort.
  • Genuine Wood Trim - In addition to their exquisite appearance, the
    Swirl Walnut and Olive Ash wood trims offered in the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
    are eco-friendly as well. The veneers come from well-managed forests, as
    defined by strict environmental, social and economic standards, and from
    other rigorously controlled sources.
  • Reverse Sensing System - This system senses what drivers might not
    see behind them and relays an audible alert if objects are near, which
    increases in frequency the closer a driver gets.
  • Keyless Entry Keypad - This Lincoln-exclusive feature provides
    secure entry at a driver's fingertips. A personal combination holds a
    memory for driver preferences. So if an owner is out for a run and
    doesn't want to take the keys along, the vehicle can be opened with the
    touch of a few buttons.
  • Easy Fuel® Capless Fuel-Filler - This Lincoln-exclusive feature uses
    an integrated spring-loaded flapper door to eliminate the need for a
    fuel tank screw cap. That means no more fumbling to remove and tighten
    the cap and less fuel odor on a driver's hands at the pump.
  • Personal Safety SystemTM - A Lincoln-exclusive suite of
    seven protection technologies works together as a system to help protect
    vehicle occupants. The system includes dual-stage front air bags and an
    occupant classification system to sense whether the passenger seat is
    occupied. It tailors - or suppresses - air bag deployment to help
    provide an appropriate level of protection. It also features the Ford
    Belt-Minder® system to remind front-seat occupants to buckle up.
  • MyKeyTM - This Lincoln-exclusive feature allows parents
    to program a key to limit speed and audio volume to encourage teens to
    drive safer and improve fuel efficiency. It also encourages seat belt
    usage, provides earlier low-fuel warnings, and can be programmed to
    sound chimes at 45, 55 and 65 mph.
  • Integrated Spotter Mirrors - The traditional side-view mirrors are
    designed with a secondary convex spotter mirror in the top outer corner,
    which provides a view of the driver's blind spot. When traffic enters
    the driver's blind spot on either side of the vehicle, it is visible in
    the secondary convex mirror, alerting the driver of obstacles.
  • Acoustic Laminated Windshield - This windshield features a layer of
    sound-absorbent vinyl sandwiched between two sheets of glass, which
    enhances interior quietness.

The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid also includes standard Bridge of Weir leather
seats. The world-renowned luxury leather from Scotland is unembossed,
allowing the natural beauty and character of the grain to shine through. The
leather is milled for up to 12 hours to ensure a soft hand, and Bridge of
Weir uses a chromium-free tanning process, which makes it easier to recycle.

2010 Venom GT Hennessey Supercar Concept

Hennessey Performance Engineering today announced that it is introducing the company's first concept car - The Venom GT. Penned by British auto designer, Steve Everitt, the Venom GT would incorporate Hennessey's potent Venom 1000 Twin Turbo Viper V10 powerplant into a light weight mid-engine chassis weighing "under 2,700 lbs". Power would be run through a 6-speed transmission or optional sequential gearbox. With a power to weight ratio of just 2.7 lbs per bhp Hennessey estimates that the Venom GT could attain 0 to 100 km/h times in less than 2.5 sec. and a 0-300 km/h time of around 14 seconds.
Venom GT Hennessey Supercar
The Hennessey Venom GT weights less than 2,400 lbs (1,071 Kg) and to stop the Venom GT, Hennessey added Brembo brakes with 6-piston calipers up front and 4-piston calipers in rear clamping down on 15-inch carbon ceramic rotors. Hennessey plans on building 10 units of the Venom GT annually and four have already been sold at around $600,000 a pop. That means there are only six units left from the first allocation.
Venom GT Hennessey Supercar
SEALY, TEXAS & SILVERSTONE, ENGLAND, March 29, 2010 - Hennessey Performance is pleased to introduce the first official images of its Venom GT supercar. Based upon the Lotus Elise, the Venom GT combines a high-tech, lightweight British chassis with a powerful American V8.
Venom GT Hennessey Supercar
“This is not the first time that Britain and America have joined forces to produce a weapon of mass propulsion”, said company founder and president, John Hennessey. “Over fifty years ago the American-built P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft was flown into history powered by a British Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. Today the Hennessey Venom GT promises to set a new standard of power to weight ratio in the rarefied air of today's supercar market.”
Venom GT Hennessey Supercar
In the case of the Venom GT, less weight means more performance. The Venom GT will have a production curb weight of less than 2,400 lbs (1,071 kilos) aided by its lightweight carbon fiber bodywork and carbon fiber wheels. Stopping power is delivered via Brembo brakes with 6-piston calipers up front and 4-piston calipers in rear clamping down on 15-inch carbon ceramic rotors.
Venom GT Hennessey Supercar
The Venom GT’s base power plant is the supercharged 6.2 liter LS9 V8 (the same as in the Corvette ZR1) tweaked by Hennessey to 725 bhp. The company will also be offering 1000 bhp and 1200 bhp twin turbo V8 engine variants. The mid-engine V8 will transmit its power to the rear tires via a Ricardo 6-speed gearbox.
Venom GT Hennessey Supercar
Hennessey plans to manage power output by using a programmable traction control system. CFD (computational fluid dynamic) tested bodywork and down force will also help keep the Venom stable at speed. An active aero system with adjustable rear wing will deploy under varying conditions on both the road and racetrack. An adjustable suspension system will allow ride height adjustments according to speed and driving conditions. Finally, power will be put to the ground via massive Michelin PS2 tires.
Venom GT Hennessey Supercar
Hennessey will be building the power plants at its Texas facility. The engines will then be air freighted to the company's assembly facility near Silverstone, England where the Venom GT is built and tested. Venom GT buyer will be offered a 1-day driver orientation and instruction program by a Hennessey factory test driver, at a track in the UK or USA prior to delivery.
Venom GT Hennessey Supercar
Hennessey plans on building 10 units of the Venom GT annually and four have already been sold at around $600,000 a pop. That means there are only six units left from the first allocation. The company plans to establish a network of Venom GT dealers and distributors in the Middle East, Europe, Russia, Australia and Asia.

Ford Australia's Falcon Wagon to Bite the Dust in June, Replaced by Mondeo Wagon

In an ominous sign for the rest of the Falcon range, Ford Australia announced that the Falcon Wagon will be axed in June. Ironically, the announcement comes a few months before the company celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Australian Falcon that was launched onto the market in June of 1960.

Many Australians had anticipated the demise of the RWD Falcon Wagon after Ford's decision to tweak the older BA/BF version instead of presenting a new model based on the latest FG Falcon series.

"It's time to retire the Falcon wagon," said Ford Australia president and CEO Marin Burela said. "We have moved on."

And by "moved on", the Ford exec means that the company's Australian / New Zealand division will concentrate on the new FWD Mondeo station wagon.

Wide-body 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX Sedan and Hatch Live from New York

Subaru is closing the styling gap between the Impreza WRX and STI models with the release of the wide-body 2011 Impreza WRX sedan and hatchback that had their world premiere today at the New York auto show.

By adopting the styling lines of the high-performance STI with the wider body look, including a wide track front and rear as well as beefier 17-inch alloys and 235/45R17 tires, the 2011 Impreza WRX boasts a more aggressive road presence than its predecessor.

Both the four-door sedan and 5-door hatchback models continue to be powered by a 265-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer engine teamed with a 5-speed manual transmission.

In the U.S., sales of the revised 2011 Impreza WRX are schedule to start in the summer.

[Photos by Phil Alex]