2010-02-28: Final Geneva preview with new Fiat Abarths, hybrid Lotus and Mercedes-Benz styling concept ...
Three years after making a grand return, Fiat Abarth will reveal its second generation Punto at the upcoming Geneva International Motorshow. Based on the new Punto Evo, the hot hatch features a sophisticated 1.4 litre four cylinder engine, which produces 165 bhp and 250 Nm of torque. Despite a 10 bhp and 20 Nm hike in power, the turbo-charged unit is more efficient and cleaner than its predecessor. All this power is transferred to the front wheels through a six speed gearbox. The Fiat Abarth Punto Evo will share the 'Scorpion's' stand with a modified version of the 500C with its roll-back convertible roof. It shares the engine with Punto Evo but equipped with a different turbocharger, it produces 'only' 140 in the smaller Fiat-based machine.
After releasing a teaser picture a few weeks ago, Lexus have now revealed all details of the CT 200h. The all-new Lexus is the first hybrid car in the premium compact market segment. In addition to the petrol-electric engine, the small CT 200h also features a CVT transmission. Its styling is directly derived from the LF-Ch Concept shown last year in Frankfurt.
At last month's NAIAS in Detroit Mercedes-Benz had an unusual sculpture on their stand. It turns out it was a full-size teaser of the F 800 Style Concept that will star in Geneva. It serves to showcase future technology and also as a preview for the new generation CLS. The F 800 is built to accommodate both a hybrid drivetrain and a fuel-cell.
One of the most interesting cars in Geneva will most definitely be the Lotus Evora 414E Hybrid. Based on the Evora road car, this concept is powered by two electric motors. A specifically developed petrol engine can be used to generate additional electricity. The copper-coloured Lotus is packed with sophisticated technology, which is all ready for production. A single picture of the drivetrain is all we can show but we will surely capture every angle of the car this week.
A detailed and well illustrated report will be published here from the show-floor later in the week.
2010-02-25: 935 'Moby Dick' in Porsche and Joest guises ...
Ever since the first rules were made to sanction racing, manufacturers have tried to explore them to the fullest. One of the most spectacular examples of creative rule interpretation is the Porsche 935/78. Based on a 911 Turbo, it was developed by some very clever engineers at Weissach, with Norbert Singer at the helm. It was still homologated as a 'Group 5' GT-racer despite sharing only the passenger compartment with the road car. The front and rear of the car was formed by space-frames and the car was powered by a trick turbocharged engine that produced well in excess of 800 bhp. The dramatic shape of the heavily flared body earned the 935/78 the nick-name 'Moby Dick' after the white whale in Herman Melville's famous novel. Porsche had high hopes for the car and even believed it could win at Le Mans outright. Unfortunately the 935/78 only managed to score a debut win in the Silverstone 6 Hours, suffering from mechanical problems in all of the subsequent races. After a single season, Porsche abandoned the project. The engine first used in the flawed machine did score many more major wins in the 956 and 962 prototypes.
It is believed that Porsche built three examples, which were all retired from service and stored at the end of the year. Joest, one of the German manufacturer's best customers did manage to pry the drawings for the chassis from Porsche a few years later. They were used to construct the 935/81 'Moby Dick'. The two cars built were used with some success by various privateers, with a class victory at Le Mans as the highlight. Joest's incarnation of the inspired design struggled against the competition as it lacked the four-valve engine used for the original cars. Sadly one car was completely destroyed in a fatal accident that took the life of Rolf Stommelen. Ironically, he had piloted the original 'Moby Dick' at Le Mans a few years earlier. The sole surviving Joest car, and the only 'Moby Dick' in private hands, was recently acquired by a French enthusiast. He had it restored to full running order and raced it during several rounds of the CER championship in 2009. This provided us with ample opportunity to get a closer look at this phenomenal machine. The result is a 18-shot gallery with action and detail shots of the car. Hopefully it will be back out this year for the Le Mans Classic in July.
2010-02-22: Audi RS5, Citroen DS3 Racing, Opel Flextrem GT/E and more news from Geneva ...
At next week's Geneva Motor Show Audi will showcase the all new RS5. It is the latest addition to the much praised A5 model line and features a potent direct injection V8. The high-revving eight cylinder engine produces a hefty 450 bhp, which is enough to propel the big coupe to 100 km/h in well under 5 seconds. It can be distinguished from the other versions by a deep chin spoiler and a small spoiler on the tail that automatically rises at speeds in excess of 120 km/h. Whether the RS5 will also become available as a drop-top is not known at this point.
High performance at a slightly more modest level is offered in Geneva by Citroen's new DS3 Racing. This hot hatch features a 200 bhp version of the 1.6 litre turbocharged engine that is shared between Peugeot/Citroen and MINI. The chassis has also been updated to cope with the additional power. The DS3 Racing will be joined at the Swiss show by another new hot hatch; the Volkswagen Polo GTI. Its small four cylinder engine uses a turbocharger and a supercharger to produce 180 bhp. This is transferred to the front wheels through a seven-speed, twin-clutch gearbox.
One of the stars on the Opel stand will be the Flextreme GT/E Concept. This striking coupe uses the same sophisticated hybrid drivetrain, which debuted on the Chevrolet Volt. The Flextreme is capable of speeds in excess of 200 km/h and it can run on batteries for 60 km. After that a small petrol engine is used to generate fresh electricity for the motor.
Geneva also attracts many of the non-mainstream manufacturers and designers. One of these is Malaysian Bufori, who will reveal the MKVI sedan. Although we have only received a sketch, it looks set to be one of the most unusual cars of the show.
2010-02-19: Four Decades of Williams in Formula 1 and more on Bertone's new Alfa ...
Late last year we had the rare privilege to visit the Williams Collection. Located inside the Williams Conference Centre, the beautiful museum features one example of each car built since Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head created Williams Grand Prix Engineering in 1977. The partnership that has lasted to this scored its first victory at the 1979 British Grand Prix and has since been one of the frontline teams in Formula. Using engines from Ford (Cosworth), Honda, Renault and BMW, Williams scored well over 100 Grand Prix wins and propelled 7 different drivers to the World Championship. In 2009 Frank Williams celebrated his 40th year as a Grand Prix entrant and the team marked the 30th anniversary of that famous first win. Our visit to the museum has resulted in an exclusive 50-shot gallery, which serves to illustrate a concise history of Williams' four decades in Formula 1. Like the museum, our article is divided by engine supplier.
A few weeks ago we already reported that three of Italy's leading design houses would celebrate Alfa Romeo's 100 anniversary with show cars at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. Bertone have now released the name and the first pictures of the Pandion, which represents the company's return to Geneva after a two-year absence. Named after a particular species of Osprey, the striking machine combines organic elements with a lot of glass. The grille areas in the nose and many of the interior structures are reminiscent of a bird's nest while the rear-end was clearly inspired by the feather's on a bird's tail. The compact coupe is powered by a 440 bhp version of the V8 engine found in various Alfa Romeo and Maserati models. We will certainly have a much closer look at this intriguing machine at Geneva.
2010-02-17: More powerful XKR, more poised M3, more affordable Panamera and more ...
Launched to universal praise back in 2006, the current Jaguar XKR will be superseded this year by an improved version. Dubbed the XKR 5.0, Jaguar's revised top-of-the-line sports car is set to be revealed to the public at Geneva in a few weeks. Cosmetically relatively little has changed but under the long bonnet a much more potent engine can be found. Now displacing five litre, the supercharged V8 is good for a hefty 510 bhp; up 90 bhp compared to the outgoing model. With the optional 'Speed Pack' fitted, the new XKR is good for a 280 km/h top speed while the 'Black Pack' gives the Jag a more aggressive appearance. For now we only have details on the Coupe but we expect the Convertible to follow soon after. Also in Geneva, French manufacturer Peugeot will showcase the 5 Concept, which serves as a preview of the 508, which is set to replace the 407 and 607 models.
BMW have revised the M3 line-up with the Competition version. This optional package provides a lower and more poised suspension to further improve the BMW's handling. Also new for this year on all M3s is the Auto Start-Stop system, which gives a better fuel mileage.
A year after unveiling the V8-engined Panamera versions in Beijing, Porsche will return to the Chinese capital for the launch of the base version of the four-door sedan. The Panamera and four-wheel-drive Panamera 4 will be powered by an all-new V6 engine, good for 300 bhp. The two new Porsches will hit German showrooms in May and around the world soon after.
Depending on the market, Honda offers a wide variety of Civic Type Rs. The best of the bunch is probably the British-built version, which is even exported to Japan as the 'Euro Type R'. With the help of Japanese Honda-tuner Mugen, the Brits have now created the Civic Type R Mugen 200. As the name suggests, it will be built in a limited run of only 200 examples.
2010-02-15: First Lotus F1 car since 1994 and the latest from Geneva ...
At a ceremony in London on Friday evening, the new Malaysian backed Lotus F1 team revealed the T127. Powered by the Cosworth CA V8 engine, it is the first Lotus labelled Formula 1 car built since 1994. Apart from the name there are no direct links with the legendary Team Lotus, ran with great verve by Colin Chapman for the better part of three decades. The british racing green and yellow livery is a nice tribute to the cars used by Team Lotus in the 1960s like the 25 and the original 49, which coincidentally brought Cosworth into Formula 1. The new car has come from the pen of of former Toyota designer Mike Gascoyne. Seasoned drivers Jarno Trulli and Heiki Kovailanen will pilot the T127. With the wealth of experience available, Lotus F1 has a good chance of becoming the most competitive of the four new teams set to join the sport this season.
Judging from the sheer number of releases already previewed, the upcoming Geneva Motor Show will be another classic. Citroën will display the DS High Rider Concept, which could indicate an expansion of the 'DS' range launched to great acclaim recently. Also expanding its range in Geneva is Japanese luxury manufacturer Lexus. The compact CT 200h is aimed squarely cars like the BMW 1-Series and the Audi A3. Unfortunately Lexus have only provided a shot of the tail light. Hyundai will preview its new 'D-segment' sedan by virtue of the i-flow Concept. The show car has been designed at the company's European styling centre in Germany.
Like Lexus, Subaru also released a tail-light-only picture of an upcoming Impreza version. More important is the word found underneath it; Cosworth. It actually reads STi Cosworth, which sounds very promising. More information is expected ahead of its market introduction in March.
2010-02-11: Porsche's original 993 GT1, latest Hybrid 997 GT3 R and the new Red Bull RB6 ...
With the introduction of the all new GT1 World Championship this season, we felt it was time to take a look at one of the prime examples of the first generation GT1 cars; Porsche's 993 GT1. The result of an astute interpretation of the regulations, it was basically a combination of a 993 (911) road car front end with the drivetrain of the Le Mans winning 962s. By building at least 25 examples, including road going versions, Porsche managed to homologate the car as a GT. Ultimately the Porsche GT1 racer built around the steel road car monocoque was not a success. The program did finally yield results in 1998 when an all-carbon version of the car won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. At last year's Modena Trackdays we caught up with the first customer 993 GT1, which was raced with considerable success in the British GT Championship, scoring several victories. Our 12-shot gallery includes on-track footage as well as all engine details.
Porsche's current racing program is focused mainly on production based machinery. At Geneva early next month, the German manufacturer will unveil the 997 GT3 R Hybrid, which will be raced at the upcoming Nürburgring 24 Hours. It features a hybrid drivetrain that is capable of producing an additional 120 kW for 6-8 seconds after each charge cycle. The 24-hour race mainly serves to test the system for future (racing) applications.
Although Red Bull Racing did not make its testing debut until yesterday, its influence could be felt all along the pit-lane at last week's session at Valencia. To some extent, all new cars incorporated some elements of Adrian Newey's highly successful RB5, which was driven to six wins last years. Red Bull opted to spend more time in the wind-tunnel before launching the successor of the innovative 2009 machine. Early yesterday morning they finally unveiled the RB6, which at first sight looks like a subtle evolution of the Grand Prix winning design. There are many interesting changes to the aerodynamics and the unique pull-rod suspension has been carried over. With a largely unchanged package and two very talented drivers, Red Bull Racing should be among the front-runners again this year.
2010-02-09: New Shelby GT500 lighter and more powerful, Swiss electric car and new Volvo S60 ...
Following the updated base and GT Mustangs, Ford have now reworked the top-of-the-range Shelby GT500. The very potent 'pony car' features a new version of the supercharged V8 engine, which for the first time is completely constructed from aluminium. The result is weight reduction of a startling 102 pounds or 46 kg. Despite the lighter construction, the 5.4 litre V8 produces 550 bhp; 10 bhp more than the outgoing model. This has been achieved by the use of a new, two-row intercooler. In addition to the performance improvements, the creature comforts have also been addressed. Compared to the outgoing model, the road noise has been lowered by 20%. One of the most interesting option is a sizable glass roof on the fixed-head model. As always, the GT500 Mustang is available as a Convertible and a Coupe.
The next major auto show is the all important Geneva Motor Show, which will open its doors to the media on March 2nd. One of the most unusual cars to be displayed on the Swiss show floor is the LAMPO2 Concept, built by the local Protoscar company. It is powered by two electric motors that produce a combined 402 bhp and 640 Nm of torque. The fully functional show car is part of an initiative to get the number of electric vehicles in Switzerland up to 15% by 2020.
Joining the bright yellow LAMPO2 in Geneva is the all new Volvo S60. The luxury sedan features bold, styling inspired by the most recent Volvo concept cars. Particularly the nose treatment is a stark departure from the current range of Volvos. The most powerful version uses a 304 bhp version of the turbocharged six cylinder engine. Four and five cylinder engines (diesel and petrol) will also be available.
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2010-02-08: Porsche 997 Turbo S with 530 bhp and 7-Speed gearbox ...
Porsche have just released the first details of the all-new 997 Turbo S. The first 'S' in five years is based on the 'standard' Turbo and features performance upgrades across the board.
The twin-turbocharged six cylinder engine has been tweaked to produce a hefty 530 bhp; up 30 bhp from the Turbo. Despite the rise in power, the consumption figures are identical, making it a particularly efficient machine. Available exclusively on the Turbo S is a brand new seven-speed 'Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe' or 'PDK' twin-clutch gearbox. The top speed is 315 km/h (195 mph) and the all-wheel drive manages to get to 200 km/h (124 mph) in just over 10 seconds.
To keep all that power in check, Porsche have fitted the Turbo S with carbon ceramic discs and a mechanical differential lock on the rear end. The 19-inch wheels are inspired by the dominant RS Spyder LMP2 racer. As is more than appropriate on a top-of-the-range model, the new Turbo S' interior is fully equipped with the latest technology and all the luxury appointments.
The Turbo S will be available as a Coupe and Cabriolet. In Germany the Coupe is priced at 173,241 Euro before taxes while the Cabriolet comes at a 10,000 Euro premium.
2010-02-07: A detailed look at the Ferrari 250 GTO Pininfarina Coupe ...
Last week we learned that for the first time in a long time a Ferrari 250 GTO has come onto the open market. Generally considered one of the most valuable cars in the world, these Ferrari GT-racer usually change hands in complete privacy. Rumour has that for one of the most recent 250 GTO sales around $30 million was offered in return. Many of these rare Ferraris are safely locked away in prominent collections, so this is very much a unique opportunity to acquire a prime example of the quintessential Ferrari GT-racers. The chassis that has now come to the market is offered by RM Auctions as a private treaty sale for its current, Japanese owner. This particular chassis is one of the seven in existence today with the 'Series 2' style body and one of four converted by the factory to the later specification in period.
This exciting news inspired us to dive into our archives for shots of all four of these cars, resulting in a spectacular 30-shot gallery. All four of these machines started life with the more common 1962 style body and were refitted over the 1963/64 winter with the more aerodynamic body styled by Pininfarina. In addition Ferrari built three new chassis for the 1964 season. It was very much a stop-gap solution for the Italian manufacturer as they struggled to get the mid-engined 250 LM homologated as a GT car. The Pininfarina lines are also clearly inspired by the shape of the 250 LM. This is most obvious in the design of the rear half of the car, particularly the roof. The four converted 250 GTOs were all owned by prominent Ferrari privateers and raced with considerable success. On their long list of successes are class honours at the Targa Florio, numerous victories in Italian hill-climbs and notable wins in the hands of the likes of Graham Hill, Mike Parkes and Innes Ireland.
Our detailed article includes a general history of the 250 GTO as well as a detailed look at all four chassis. The cars are captured around the world with sparkling action photography from events like the Le Mans Classic, Goodwood Revival and Monterey Historic Races. Chassis 4675GT that is currently on offer by RM Auctions is captured at the 2004 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance where Ferrari was the featured marque. We are not privy to the asking price but it must be in excess of $20 million.
2010-02-03: Bertone's Alfa tribute, drop-tops headed for Geneva and the latest F1 cars ...
Last week we already looked at Pininfarina's upcoming Alfa Romeo concept and now it's time to highlight the second of three show cars headed for Geneva to celebrate Alfa Romeo's 100th anniversary. This is a Bertone styled Coupe that will bring the Turin based design house back to the Swiss show for the first time in three years. Designed by Mike Robinson, it is powered by the familiar 440 bhp, 4.2 litre V8 engine. For now all we have is a sketch but we will keep a close eye on this one.
Five years after launching the original concept, Renault will finally reveal the production version of the Wind in Geneva. The small two-seater has a foldable metal roof and will be pitched against cars like the Peugeot 207 CC. Mazda will celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of its most iconic models, the MX-5, with a limited edition version of the sports car. Based on the base model, it mostly sports tweaks to the exterior like bigger wheels. Production of the Europe only version is limited to just 2,000 numbered examples.
Today the first Formula 1 group-test concluded at Valencia. The Ferrari proved to be the quickest car, followed closely by the surprisingly fast Sauber C29. Powered by the Ferrari engine, it is the 2010 BMW car that never was. The C29 will be driven by Kamui Kobayashi and Pedro de la Rosa. While most of the established teams were already out testing, Virgin Racing was the first of the newcomers to reveal their car. Dubbed the VR-01, it has been designed exclusively using Computional Fluid Dynamics by Nick Wirth. His company's previous project was the ALMS Championship winning Acura LMP1 car, which was also developed in its entirety on the computer. The Cosworth-engined Virgin VR-01 has a very distinct look and a very appealing livery.
2010-02-01: Formula 1's class of 2010 and the Daytona 24 Hours winning Riley ...
After a particularly eventful winter, the 2010 Formula 1 season unofficially kicked off this morning with the first day of testing at Valencia. Due to the huge restrictions on testing, this was the first opportunity for the teams to sample their new cars. Originally a joint launch of all cars was planned at Valencia but in the end the teams could not agree. Nevertheless many of the 2010 Formula 1 machines were only revealed today.
Most eyes in the paddock were on the Mercedes Grand Prix, which, de facto, is the defending world champion and has seven-time world champion in its ranks. The new W01 was seen for the first team when the door of the pit box opened early this morning. The former Brawn team have produced a very attractive car with some hints of Adrian Newey's very effective 2009 Red Bull design. The most appealing part of the car is the heavily sculpted air-intake. Schumacher was third quickest today in the Mercedes-Benz W01. Other cars debuted this morning were the Toro Rosso STR5 and the Williams FW32. This Cosworth engined machine is a radical departure from last year's FW31 and unlike most other new cars, it does not follow Newey's lines. Renault already revealed their R30 last night. To be piloted by Robert Kubica and the first Russian in F1, Vitaly Petrov, it sports a very retro yellow and black livery.
Over the weekend the first major endurance race of the year, the Daytona 24 Hours, was held. In one of the fastest editions in history, the established teams were upstaged by a debutant team. Piloted by Joao Barbosa, Ryan Dalziel, Terry Borcheller and Mike Rockenfeller, the Action Express Riley featured an independently developed Porsche Cayenne engine. Built by the Lozano Brothers Porting, the V8 outclassed the 'official' GT3 derived flat-six as well as all other works engines. The Riley Mk XX was run by last year's winners Brumos racing, who were not so lucky this year with their own flat-6 powered Riley.