Tuesday, 31 January 2012

2013 Porsche Panamera GTS - First Drive

Porsche’s Panamera is now available as eight versions in the U.S. You can, for example, slide in at $75,200 for a 3.6-liter V-6 Panamera and get to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds. Or you can leave that in the dust with the $173,200 4.8-liter Turbo S, which hits 60 in 3.6 sec. Or perhaps you would like better to tip your green-tinted hat as you drive by in your $95,000 S Hybrid.

So where does that put the newest variation, the $109,900 GTS. Porsche calls it, the sportiest of all Panamera models. That assert seems odd given the Turbo’s spot at the top of the horsepower and image list, but once you’ve driven the GTS, Porsche’s announcement makes sense.

We were at the Ascari circuit in Spain to try the 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS, which was popping its split-second PDK shifts as soon we accelerated uphill away from the pits. You would need much of the Panamera schedule there to make back-to-back comparisons, but reasonably rapidly you can sense this one has a firmer edge. Point the nose to a summit and there’s a split second of confidence-inspiring under steer, but then the car sets and responds. Not that Panameras are known as leaners, but this one is even less so. You almost forget there are two supplementary seats behind you.

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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Chevy to improve Volt after battery fires

Federal regulators have permitted a General Motors Co. proposal to revise the configuration of its Chevrolet Volt to reduce the hazard of an electrical fire.

The redesign was prompted by a formal protection defect investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety organization into the Volt's lithium-ion sequence pack, after two fires that followed crash tests, Wired.com reported.

GM has defended the Volt, which has received a five-star wellbeing rating, but said the amendments will make the car safer. The Volt has always been safe to oblige. Now, we will go the extra mile to ensure our customers' peace of mind in the days and weeks following a severe crash, Mary Barra, senior vice leader of global product enlargement.

In June a Volt caught fire three weeks after a side-impact collapse that punctured the battery pack and caused coolant to leak, eventually causing a short circuit, GM said.GM said it would toughen part of the Volt's underbody to enlarge protection of the pack in a ruthless side collision.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Nissan to produce Merc four-pots in US engine plant

The latest development of Daimler-Benz’s collaboration with the Renault-Nissan Alliance is a deal that sees the Nissan powertrain assembly plant in Decherd, Tennessee help build Merc’s four-cylinder petrol engines.

Production is set to commence in 2014, with the plant able to churn out 250,000 engines at full capacity. The Decherd plant was commissioned by Nissan in 1997, and today it serves to manufacture a range of engines for various Nissan and Infiniti models.

The plant houses its own crankshaft forging and cylinder block casting operations and produced more than 580,000 engines in 2011. Among the first recipient of Tennessee-built Merc engines will be units of the C-Class rolling out from Daimler’s plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Ferrari Celebrates 60 Years of Formula 1 Wins with “60F1” Limited Edition of 599 GTB

Scuderia Ferrari is the only team that has been present in Formula 1 since its conception in 1950. On July 14 1951, it scored its first-ever F1 victory at the British Grand Prix held at Silverstone with a 375 F1 driven by Froilan Gonzalez.

Six decades later, on July 10 2011, Fernando Alonso won Ferrari’s sole Grand Prix in the 2011 F1 season. To celebrate the event, Ferrari has launched the 60 Years of Victories in Formula 1” [60F1] package for the 599 GTB Fiorano equipped with the HGTE handling package.

Clients who opt for this special edition of the 599 can choose from a list of exterior and interior modifications that are part of Ferrari’s Tailor-Made program, which was launched today in Maranello by Ferrari CEO Luca di Montezemolo and creative consultant for the Tailor-Made program, Lapo Elkan.

The bodywork of the 60F1 is available in three liveries. The first one is the 375 F1, which is the same darker red color used by the Scuderia for its first F1 cars. The second is the Ferrari 150o Italia, inspired by this year’s F1 car with white strips on the front bumper, mudguards, A-posts and buttresses, and the colors of the Italian flag painted on the rear. The third model is the 150o Italia 2, which is almost identical to the previous scheme but without most of the white-painted parts.

All three versions get the Scuderia Ferrari shield on the front wheel arches painted as in the competition cars, 20-inch diamond-finish forged alloy wheels and a satin-finish aluminum fuel cap.The interior gets seats made by Sabelt in the European version and Recaro in the North American model upholstered in Alcantara  with extra-grip Superfabric material in areas that come in greatest contact with the driver’s body, the Scuderia Shield stitched on the headrests and red and blue four-point safety belts.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Caterham F1 to set sights higher

Team Lotus, now officially renamed as Caterham F1, have set their sights on starting to beat the more experienced teams in 2012.The name change marks the formal end to the dispute over the Lotus name in F1.Chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne said: "It's time to take the fight to the more established teams and start beating them.

The outfit have finished 10th of 12 teams in the two seasons since they entered F1.Team Lotus beat HRT and Virgin, but they have been unable to bridge the gap to the back of the midfield apart from on a handful of occasions.But two consecutive seasons of finishing 10th ensures them a greater share of F1's prize money and the team, in their new guise, are confident that can be the springboard to beating the lower midfield runners, such as Williams, Toro Rosso and Sauber.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Red Bull set to dominate?

To some, the decision of Red Bull and Ferrari to pull out of the Formula 1 Teams' Association, the umbrella group that represents the teams' interests, could look innocuous enough. In reality it could have far-reaching consequences.The F1 teams have put a brave public face on it, but behind the scenes there are serious concerns that it could lead to a period of Red Bull domination about which their rivals can do little.

The move by two of F1's most powerful teams was provoked by continuing distrust about whether all of the competitors were adhering to the terms of a document called the Resource Restriction Agreement.

The RRA sets out limits on the amount of staff, external spend and aerodynamic research teams can employ and covers work on the design of the car - with drivers' salaries, marketing and engines excluded.It is not a budget cap per se, but it does have the effect of keeping costs under control, to the point that the biggest budgets have dropped from in the region of £300m in 2008 to an estimated £150-200m in 2011.

To cite just one example, the RRA limits the amount of hours a team can dedicate to wind-tunnel testing - a key way of honing an F1 car's aerodynamics, the single biggest performance differentiator.And the more wind-tunnel hours you do, the less simulation of aerodynamics on a computer is allowed .Because there is only so much of this work that a team can do, there is only so much money they can spend.The problem that has arisen is that some of the teams - led by Ferrari and Mercedes - believe Red Bull have been exceeding these limits since 2010, the first of their two consecutive title-winning years.