Thursday, April 1, 2010

March Supercars

Hennessey Venom GT

Including the Geneva Motor Show, March was an impressive month for supercar launches. Today we catch up with Hennessey's Venom GT which was announced this morning. The car is scheduled for production and will now use the LS9 V8 in a modified Lotus platform. Price is expected to be around $600,000 USD.

Many new racing cars have been unveiled for the upcoming season. Audi have set their hopes on an updated R15 TDI for LeMans. It was just recently tested at Sebring with many new aerodynamic updates including a split nose. We also have two new new GT3 contenders: the BMW Z4 GT3 and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. With almost every manufacturer competing in GT3, these upcoming races should be very entertaining to

Geneva Preview: Mercedes-Benz F 800 Style a sneak peek at next CLS-Class

Mercedes-Benz F800 Style - Click above for high-res image gallery

The Mercedes-Benz F800 Style concept car that'll debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month is highly-touted by Mercedes-benz's press release scribes for its green-car tech, but what's probably of greater interest to most of you is its styling, which is everyone's first peek at what the next-generation CLS-Class sedan is going to look like. To that end, get ready for a nose section whose grille apes that of the SLS AMG, plus enough flame-surfaced bodywork to make one envision Chris Bangle, sporting a set of Groucho glasses to mask his true identity, clandestinely moonlighting at Benz. The rear doors are sliders, because it's a concept, and you need to give the people a clear view into the swoopy, sci-fi passenger cabin. Props to Mercedes PR for gamely making it sound as if there's an actual practical application for those doors, though (see the attached press release).

Mercedes-Benz also touts the concept's flexible powertrain platform. The realistic option is a plug-in hybrid system that's basically an offshoot of the V6 light-hybrid setup found in the S400 sedan. Mercedes says this new plug-in gas-electric system, which is good for over 400 combined horsepower, gives the car an EV-only driving range of 18 miles. The automaker has announced that a new plug-in system is headed to the next-gen S-Class, so don't dismiss the F800's hybrid setup as trendy green pandering. Save that cynicism for the concept's other powertrain option: a compact fuel cell/electric setup evolved from the one used in the current F-Cell cars. We have no doubt that the technology itself is genuinely impressive, and we're sure news of its development will be a hit with all the jet-setters at the next snowbound global warming conference. From a mass-production, real-person's-car standpoint, expect to see the fuel cell system in Benz showrooms right after Mercedes intros a 700-horsepower inline 3-cylinder that runs on unicorn milk. Alas, we digress.

The F800 concept also introduces two new technologies that will doubtless appear in upcoming models. Distronic Plus Traffic Jam Assistant is an enhanced version of Mercedes' active cruise control system, which can now steer the car through curves as long as it's traveling under 25 mph. Neat. Also new is the Pre-Safe 360-degree system, which expands the existing Pre-Safe collision detection/mitigation system to the rear of the car. Now, if Pre-Safe senses that a rear-end impact is imminent, it'll apply the brakes in a bid to keep the car from getting into an additional chain-reaction accident involving other cars or pedestrians.

We'll be in Geneva to see the sheet come off the Mercedes-Benz F800 Style in person, and will have plenty of firsthand observations and live photos then. For now, feast your eyes on the gallery below, and check out the Mercedes PR included after the jump.

the Year 2010: VW Polo wins the match

11 / 30 / 2009

The Volkswagen Polo is the Car of the Year 2010. It won a close contest with the Toyota iQ. Just ten points, 347 to 337, separated the two leading contenders, while the Opel/Vauxhall Astra took third place, with 221 points.

The Polo, a car which in the eyes of many jurors looks and feels like a scaled-down Golf, has been even more appreciated than its bigger stable-mate, which took third place last year. In fact, it is the first Volkswagen CotY winner in 18 years, following the win in 1992... by a Golf. All the 59 Jury members from 23 European countries gave points to the winner, and 25 of them chose it as their favourite. The iQ received points from 58 jurors, with 20 top marks. The Opel/Vauxhall Astra was voted by 55 Jury members, with five of them giving top points.

Even if the VW model is shorter than a number of competitors in the B segment, this generation of Polo is fully capable of accommodating at least four adult people in comfort. Room, performance, refinement and a reasonable cargo space endorse that affirmation. As well as practical reasons, the small VW appeals for its fine exterior design and the impeccable execution of the cabin, which has a level of perceived quality unprecedented in this category.

Energy efficiency is also an important point for potential customers, with the current trend for downsizing. The Polo offers an interesting line of engines, and also the pleasant-to-use DSG automatic/sequential transmission, with two clutches. The new 1.6 litre TDi diesel engine perfectly suits the size of the car, while among the petrol engines is a lively 1.2 litre TSI with turbo which also balances performance and fuel economy. The Polo is offered in two kinds of Blue Motion derivatives, both with diesel engines. The 1.2 litre three-cylinder engine with 75 HP is homologated for an average fuel consumption of 3.3 litre/100 km, equivalent to an emission of 87 g/km of CO2.