vendredi 5 août 2011

New Brit: New Morgan EvaGT to Launch at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

Change comes very slowly to Britain’s Morgan Motor Company -- but the 98-year-old sports car manufacturer appears to be making good on its promise of debuting a new car every two years, starting in 2010. The first, dubbed the EvaGT, is previewed here, and will debut at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

For the most part, the EvaGT appears to be an evolution of the company’s Aero Supersports model. Unlike that two-seater coupe, the EvaGT is a 2+2, which Morgan hopes allows it to appeal to “young families” along with its traditional customer base. We’ve only been given the rendering above, but the boy looks somewhat similar to that of the SuperSports, albeit it is considerably longer, given the extra pair of seats. The new body is still crafted from superformed aluminum panels, and has been designed to reduce drag with small panel gaps, flush door handles, and hidden windshield wipers.

Underneath that slinky skin is a chassis structure we first saw on Morgan’s Aero SuperSports GT3 racer, before trickling down to the roadgoing SuperSports. The chassis is crafted from bonded aluminum panels, eschewing traditional rivets and fasteners in favor of a strong adhesive polymer. Morgan says the EvaGT’s chassis is an evolution of this design, and offers both increased rigidity and improved handling over the Aero SuperSports.

Once again, a BMW engine winds its way into the slender engine compartment, although it isn’t the V-8 found in the SuperSports. Although it is subject to change before hitting the market, it appears the EvaGT will use BMW’s new “N55” 3.0-liter turbocharged I-6. For now, it seems Morgan is leaving the engine in its stock form, allowing it to deliver 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque -- which should be more than sufficient to rocket the lightweight coupe from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. A standard six-speed manual or an optional six-speed automatic transmission will channel power to the rear wheels.

Morgan’s new EvaGT will first be shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance this August, and the company will begin taking orders and deposits at the show. A £5000 ($7300) deposit is required to reserve a car -- and if you’re interested, you’d better act fast. Morgan plans on building a limited run 100 examples in 2012, with a price tag said to be “competitive for a car of this class.” We’d wager pricing will start just above the Aero SuperSports, which starts at roughly $185,000.

Source: Morgan

mercredi 6 juillet 2011

2011 WRX STI sedan runs 'Ring in 7:55, quickest ever for Subaru

Quick: What's the fastest production sedan in the world? Does it wear a Mercedes-Benz, Audi or BMW badge? What about the Porsche Panamera Turbo or the Cadillac CTS-V? There's no doubt that each of these vehicular behemoths is capable of ripping off some fast times on a race track near you, but Subaru is out to prove that its new 2011 WRX STI sedan has the chops to keep pace with the best from the rest of the world.

To prove its point, Subaru recently sent test driver and four-time World Rally Champion Tommi Mäkinen out to the famed Nürburgring Nordschleife course in Germany with a 2011 STI test car. According to reports, the vehicle used in this testing was equipped with a few significant upgrades including a larger turbocharger that normally sees duty in the Japanese R205 model and some lightweight aluminum bits, but one thing is for certain: the 7:55 lap time is a mighty impressive result.

For those keeping track of such things, the previous best lap set by a Subaru WRX STI was in 2004 at 7:59.41 and the new mark set by Subaru – albeit with a
prototype, not a production car – is quicker than any of the aforementioned competition. Best of all, there's a video of one entire lap around the 'Ring and you can find the in-car footage after the break.

Report: Saab in Talks with BMW on Underpinnings, Engines for Revived 92

It’s no secret that Saab is hard at work on plans to reintroduce its 92, but it’ll need some help to before the car can be produced. The automaker is preparing to enter into talks with BMW to do just that.

Instead of developing a costly platform from scratch, Saab is in talks with BMW to source underpinnings for the car. Saab is reportedly eyeing Mini’s architecture to underpin the new 92. Saab CEO Victor Muller wants the brand’s new model to closely resemble the teardrop shape of the original car, which was dropped from the Saab lineup in 1956.

According to the report, Saab is also looking into sourcing engines and transmissions from Mini. Mini currently offers 1.6-liter naturally aspirated and turbocharged inline four-cylinder engines here in the States, and 1.4-liter gasoline and 1.6-liter diesel I-4 powerplants are available also. Transmission choices are limited to six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes.

With Saab trying to regain market share, this would be a great move for the marque, but the 92 would be a direct competitor of the Mini Cooper. Although producing components in larger quantities would be beneficial to lower costs, we’re not sure it’s a great idea for Mini to bolster its own competition.

Would it be a good move for Mini to help Saab, or would it cannibalize its own sales?

Source: Reuters and automobilemag

vendredi 1 juillet 2011

New Morgan Concept Will be Unveiled at 2010 Pebble Beach Concours

Change comes slowly to the Morgan Motor Company, so it’s rather interesting to learn the British sports car manufacturer plans to show a new model at the 2010 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

According to Autocar, the new Morgan will technically be billed as a concept, but is actually a good look at a new model that will likely reach production in 2012 or 2013. Morgan hopes the car -- a 2+2 -- will bridge the gap between the its traditional models (i.e. the 4/4, +4, and Roadster) and the radical Aero lineup.

Although it dates from 2000, the Aero range is Morgan’s most recent product innovation (unless you count the Lifecar show car). The latest iteration, the Aero Super Sports, was unveiled at last year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and is designed to be street legal in the U.S.

Source: Autocar

jeudi 30 juin 2011

GM Recalling 1.5 Million Vehicles Due To Fire Risks

General Motors Co. is undergoing a massive recall of 1.5 million 2006-2009 model year vehicles to disable a heated washer fluid system that poses a potential fire risk. The recall, slated to begin on June 14, covers 18 models from the Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Hummer and Saturn brands.

The heated washer fluid system was the subject of an August 2008 recall that included many of the same vehicles. Reports were that shorts in the system caused fires; a wire harness, which contained a fuse, was installed as a preventative measure. According to GM, however, the module’s internal thermal-protection device did not function properly and the fire risk remained.

As a result of the continuing fire risk, the automaker will remove the heated washer fluid module and reroute the fluid hoses.

GM said that it has since learned of 5 fires caused by the heated washer fluid system, but is unaware of any injuries or crashes related to the problem. Though there have been a small number of incidents, GM clearly isn’t taking any chances.

"While our analysis shows the number of incidents is very small compared with the number of vehicles on the road, we want our customers to have complete peace of mind," said Jeff Boyer, GM executive director of Safety in a press release.

Vehicles included in the recall are the 2006-2009 model year Buick Lucerne; Cadillac DTS; Hummer H2; 2008-2009 model year Buick Enclave; Cadillac CTS; 2007-2009 model year Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV, Escalade EXT; Chevrolet Avalanche, Silverado, Suburban, Tahoe; GMC Acadia, Sierra, Yukon, Yukon XL; Saturn Outlook; and 2009 model year Chevrolet Traverse.

Approximately 1.4 million of the vehicles under recall are in the United States, but the rest are in Canada, Mexico, and other countries, GM stated.

Because the feature will be disabled, GM has said it will make a voluntary payment of $100 to owners of lessees of recalled vehicles in addition to paying the actual cost of repair.

Owners will begin receiving recall notifications via mail this month, but can contact their dealer at any time for an appointment to have the heated washer fluid system removed.
source by autoblog

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mercredi 4 mai 2011

2010 Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera - Click above for high-res image gallery

2010 Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera - Click above for high-res image gallery

The explosive burble from the V10's exhaust coming off the back straight seems powerful enough to vaporize insects in mid-air. The Howitzer-like concussions shock through the firewall and slam into our spines an instant before the combustive dissonance has time to reverberate off the outside wall and into our eardrums. The menacing acoustics force the other cars on the circuit to back off, while trackside spectators crane their necks to look up and cheer as the Lamborghini rockets by.

We're at California Speedway attending the "The Ultimate Lamborghini Experience." This annual event allows owners to play with their exotics in a controlled environment free of driving citations and other pesky... um, slow cars. Since we don't own an Italian exotic, we have to thank Lamborghini of Beverly Hills for graciously bringing along the automaker's latest and greatest. In this case, it's the Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera.
Lamborghini has made thousands of Gallardos over the past eight years – it's the automaker's best-selling model. The various Gallardo iterations have included the all-wheel-drive Gallardo SE, matte black Gallardo Nera, topless Gallardo Spyder, lightweight Gallardo Superleggera, Gallardo LP 560-4, Gallardo LP 560-4 Spyder, Gallardo Super Trofeo and the recent limited-production rear-wheel-drive Gallardo 550-2 "Valentino Balboni."

All pale on a race circuit when compared to the all-new 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera.

Metamorphosing into the highest-performing Lamborghini Gallardo model to ever leave the assembly line in Sant'Agata Bolognese wasn't easy. Using a 560-4 as a base, Lamborghini painstakingly made dozens of changes to lighten the chassis, improve aerodynamics, refine the suspension and tune the ten-cylinder engine for more power. When it finally debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in early 2010, the newest Gallardo flagship was nothing short of spectacular.

At a glance, the 570-4 Superleggera is physically differentiated by its reworked front bumper with deep trapezoidal frames around the air intakes, a V-shaped nose and LED daytime running lamps. Lamborghini says the new fascia is functional, as it increases engine cooling and adds downforce to the front axle. The underbody, featuring a full belly pan, has new side sills, new tailpipes and a redesigned diffuser to improve aerodynamics. A small spoiler is standard, but a large wing for even more downforce is optional. There are new graphics on the sides and the ever-important identifying "LP 570-4" emblems in front of each rear wheel.

Under the paint, things are a bit more radical. As mentioned, the 570-4 Superleggera is based on the Gallardo 560-4 (itself a lightweight 3,108-pound platform). The new model retains aluminum spaceframe and body panels, but replaces many of the exterior components with lighter composite structures. Carbon fiber has been used on the rear spoiler, sills, diffuser, exterior mirror casings and underbody panels. Composites are also used extensively in the cabin. The center tunnel cover, door panels, transmission surround and sport seat shells are all carbon fiber (our model had an optional carbon fiber package that adds even more "lightness" to the cockpit). Even the "heavy" natural leather has been replaced by lightweight synthetic Alcantara. Still seeking to save more weight, Lamborghini fitted the 570-4 Superleggera with polycarbonate rear and side windows, and a polycarbonate panel over the engine. While the engineering team went seriously unhinged when it came to weight loss, the air conditioning and power windows were deliberately retained (one must not sacrifice comfort, says Lamborghini).

The aluminum double-wishbone suspension is left in place, but the shock absorbers are firmer, the anti-roll bars are stiffened and the mounting points have been reinforced. Standard brakes are huge iron rotors with aluminum calipers. However, our test car was fitted with Lambo's optional carbon-fiber ceramic brake package with 15-inch discs and six-piston calipers in the front, and four-piston units at the rear. The wheels are 10-spoke forged aluminum beauties secured by featherweight, but very strong, titanium wheel bolts. Special Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires are 235/35ZR19 in the front and 295/30ZR19 at the rear.

Mid-mounted in the 570-4 Superleggera is a direct-injected 5.2-liter V10. The engine features an aluminum crankcase, dry sump lubrication and a cylinder angle of 90 degrees (to help lower the center of gravity). With a compression ratio of 12.5:1, and several new engine software tweaks, the powerplant is now rated at 570 horsepower and 399 pound-feet of torque. The exhaust gasses go out quad pipes that are coated with a matte-black heat-resistant ceramic finish that keeps temps in check to avoid the lower panels from melting. The horsepower is sent through the automaker's six-speed single-clutch "e-gear" sequential automatic transmission connected to a permanent all-wheel-drive system, but if rowing your own is a requirement, a six-speed manual transmission is a no-cost option. The powertrain utilizes a central viscous coupling and a 45-percent limited-slip differential on the rear axle. Under normal conditions, the torque is split 30:70, although the bulk of the power is usually directed at the rear wheels.

Lamborghini says the Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera will crack 62 mph in just 3.4 seconds. Even more astonishing is the fact that 0-124 mph falls in just 10.2 seconds, and this high-powered projectile won't run out of horsepower until it hits a tire disintegrating 202 mph.

Thanks to its very strict diet, the new "superlight" Gallardo is 154 pounds lighter than the Gallardo LP 560-4. That's right kids; the new Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera tips the scales at a mere 2,954 pounds, making it the lightest road-going model in the automaker's range. Lamborghini says there is no other model in its lineup that's as close to a true racecar.

And as you'd expect, none of this comes cheap. The base price of a 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera is $237,600 (plus $2,995 destination and $2,100 in gas-guzzler fees). With a window sticker in hand, our test vehicle was equipped with the following options: Anti-theft system ($800), Superleggera Rear Wing ($6,500), Carbon Ceramic Brakes with black calipers ($15,600), Multimedia/NAV ($3,250), Rear View Camera ($2,600), Superleggera Floor Mats ($750), Carbon Fiber Engine Bay ($4,235), Travel Package ($750) and the Interior Carbon Fiber Package ($4,150). Punched into our solar-powered $3 calculator, the as-tested price is $281,330 (plus tax). You just had to ask.

With that out of the way, it's time to get back down to the business of driving.

The LP 570-4 Superleggera is low – silly low. Standing next to it, with both arms down to our side, it barely comes up to our elbows. With an open-face helmet capping our dome, we drop our six-foot, two-inch frame into the Lamborghini's exquisitely detailed womb. Our rear is firmly planted in the buttery-smooth Alcantara-covered cushion, while the top of our flat-black helmet presses firmly against the Alcantara headliner – we're literally wedged in place (for the record, we fit much better when we take a spin sans helmet later in the day). With our vertical movement apparently secured, we snap the three-point belt firmly to restrain forward movement. There's very little room for our left foot, but since this particular LP 570-4 only has two pedals, it's not a problem for both of our feet to share the tunnel's limited real estate.

The layout of the cabin is familiar to the Gallardo faithful, but the appointments have been upgraded. Snug in the lightweight Lamborghini's cockpit, it takes restraint to not run your fingers over the glass-smooth carbon fiber center console, the suede-like synthetic on the dashboard or the cross-hatch finish on many of the switches. The craftsmanship is stellar. Do not wear driving gloves while piloting the LP 570-4, lest the palms miss out on one of the most exquisite part of the machine: the deliciously shaggy thick suede sport steering wheel.

A traditional key slots into the right side of the steering column. With a twist, the 5.2-liter V10 spins to life. The "e-gear" takes a bit of instruction, but that's why we have Davy Jones sitting in our passenger seat (the 1996 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, not the lead singer for the Monkees).

As mentioned, we are sharing the track today with "The Ultimate Lamborghini Experience." As a result, there are dozens of Lamborghinis (mostly Gallardo and Murcielago models) in the paddock waiting for their turn at the circuit. The organizers are kind enough to let us out before the masses.

Without hesitating further, we press the "S" button on the center console and pull the right column-mounted paddle back to engage first gear (there's an "R" button to the left of the wheel, but since we are in the hot pits at California Speedway, we only need to go forward). The 570-horsepower engine, sitting about a foot behind our ears, resonates smoothly as we rumble past the observers and make our way to the hot track.

Our first few laps are under yellow as the corner workers get into place. We are familiar with the "Roval" at Cal Speedway, but or path today is awkwardly restricted by bright orange cones mid-point on the banked oval to keep everyone's speed down. Wisely, we use the first five minutes orienting ourselves with the Lambo's basic mannerisms. Except for a lack of outward visibility, it seems surprisingly docile and easy to drive at low speeds.

Green flag up. Accelerator pedal down. Responding to our right foot, the sequential automatic abruptly drops a gear and a deep roar emanates from behind our backsides. We are pressed and molded into our seatbacks like warm Play-Doh as the tachometer spins towards its 8,500 rpm redline. The second-to-third upshift is harsh and not particularly quick when compared to the best dual-clutch gearboxes, but it keeps us pinned in our seat grinning ear-to-ear as our velocity increases.

No more than 20 seconds later, we run out of banked oval as Turn 1 starts to fill our windshield. Strong on the brakes and the speed bleeds much faster than we anticipate (the huge ceramic discs like very firm pressure – the feel of the pedal perfectly mimics a race car). The 90-degree left is easy, as we are now going too slowly. We need to increase velocity for the upcoming right so we get back on the throttle. Caught off guard by our right foot again, the e-gear drops abruptly down to second gear and the back wheels momentarily break loose under the sudden increase in torque. The LP 570-4 Superleggera squirms a few times, and then briefly drops a wheel into the grass as we input corrective steering. This requires serious concentration.

Fed up with the e-gear's abrupt "logic," we find manually shifting via paddles to be much more effective, even if they are small and a bit hard to find in the heat of battle. Downshifts are accompanied by a super-sexy ten-cylinder throttle blip that takes your breath away (the lightweight acrylic windows let all the right sensations in), while upshifts are instantly delivered on command. Thanks to a center of gravity that requires a spatula to get under, the LP 570-4 lacks anything even remotely resembling body roll. Corner transitions are completely flat and quite mechanical, but the Lamborghini gives very palpable and welcomed feedback through its controls. Nothing is artificially overboosted.

It takes about five laps before we are comfortable. By then, we think we've figured it out.

The LP 570-4 Superleggera prefers to go in hot and take advantage of its huge brakes to bleed speed just before turn-in. It rewards light throttle in the corners, to keep the rear wheels at the limit of their adhesion, then generous power in the exits to utilize cat-like all-wheel-drive grip to pull hard out of the corners. There is plenty of available power. Oversteer is just a quarter-inch of throttle travel away at nearly any velocity. This is bloody fun.

And 45 minutes later it's over. They pry the keys from our hands. We weep.

Back in the pits, two impressions have stuck. First, the lack of mass helps immeasurably during initial high-speed turn-in. Whistling past the start/finish line at 150+ mph, we needed to drop down to 60 mph and make a tricky off-camber turn to get through the cone "barricade." Nearly every car we've ever had on this track needs to be handled with kid gloves when shuffled at those speeds. If not, the back end continues in its original trajectory. Not so in the LP570-4 Superleggera. We could grab the brakes and initialize our turn without worrying that the rest of the machine wasn't going to follow. Credit its low mass, low center of gravity, sticky tires and a wide stance. Second, it drives much smaller than it appears. We've had big cars on road circuits that seem to swell up when flogged (the Dodge Viper and Challenger SRT8 come to mind). The Lamborghini seemed to shrink. While it's no Lotus Exige, the Lambo's girth never prevented us from putting the tires exactly where they needed to go.

Lamborghini owners will scoff at this, but we half-expected the Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera to drive like an Audi R8 5.2 V10 (no hiding the truth that they are heavy DNA-sharing cousins). In fact, most cynics will say that you can put the aforementioned Audi in your driveway for $100,000 less with nearly the same performance. Not so fast. The Audi R8 is damn near perfect, but it's no Lamborghini. The 570-4 Superleggera is lighter (by a staggering 761 pounds), shorter in height (by 3.4 inches) and in length (by 1.9 inches). The R8 5.2 is also down 45 horsepower (costing the Audi two full seconds in a timed race to 124 mph against the Lamborghini).

In all fairness, the R8 5.2 is a trophy-toting beauty queen while the LP 570-4 is an international supermodel – but let's ignore the ocular comparisons for now. The Audi is amazingly easy to drive fast, and just as easy to drive slowly. The German is comfortable, roomy and well-mannered. The Lamborghini is harder to drive, but faster and more rewarding at speed. The Italian is impeccably finished, but raw by design. To be more concise: The Audi can waltz, but the Lamborghini grabs you and does an R-rated Rio tango.

The Audi doesn't really compete with the LP 570-4 Superleggera, nor does the Aston Martin DBS or Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, for that matter. However, the upcoming Porsche GT2 RS may put up a good fight. We didn't check with Animal Planet, but our current research says the only true natural enemy of the LP 570-4 Superleggera could be the stunning Ferrari 458 Italia. Owners need not worry, as this Lamborghini will most likely never cross paths with any worthy adversary.

The 570-4 Superleggera is unquestionably the most talented Lamborghini on the road today. Fusing a highly-tuned powerplant and a sophisticated drive system to a lightweight chassis is what real sports cars are all about. Unlike its predecessors that seemed to possess more panache than event-winning medals, the all-new 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera delivers astronomical performance that will not only land the coupe on the red carpet, but more often than not, on the top of the podium.

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