2011 Bentley Mulsanne “I have been in this industry for 30 years and I have done a lot of cars,” said Bentley CEO Franz-Josef Paefgen at the reveal of the all-new 2011 Bentley Mulsanne at Pebble Beach. “And this,” he said, pointing at the elegant champagne-colored Mulsanne in front of us, “is all I can do.” For Paefgen and his senior management team, including engineering chief Ulrich Eichhorn, and designer Dirk van Braeckel, the new Mulsanne represents nothing less than the sum total of their considerable automotive knowledge, experience, and car-guy passion. The Mulsanne is a car that was never meant to be. While Paefgen and his team fought hard to keep the Arnage alive after Volkswagen Group’s purchase of the storied British marque, there was never a plan -- nor the money -- to replace the flagship Bentley with an all-new vehicle. As recently as four years ago, the Arnage successor was to be a pumped up Continental Flying Spur. Paefgen was never completely happy with the idea, and when the reworked CFS fared poorly in clinics, he abruptly canned it, and sold the VW Group board on developing an all-new vehicle that retained two key elements of the Arnage’s DNA -- rear drive with the front axle centerline pushed as far forward as possible, and a 6.75-liter pushrod V-8 with twin turbochargers. You can fit the number of Mulsanne components carried over from the Arnage in a reasonably sized briefcase, say Crewe insiders. Despite rumors the new big Bentley would be based on the forthcoming A8, its platform is unique; a mixture of high-strength steel and lightweight aluminum. The engine shares its basic architecture with the Arnage’s legendary L410 V-8, whose design dates back half a century, but apart from the two turbochargers, every single component is new. The Mulsanne’s V-8 is lighter, more powerful and much more fuel efficient than the L410, and drives the rear wheels through an eight speed automatic. Dirk van Braeckel’s elegant exterior design looks deceptively simple. A strong, sharply creased bone line defines the car’s profile, emphasizing the prominent hips over the rear wheels. The Mulsanne’s bodysides are clean and simple below that line; above it, however, are complexly rendered surfaces that give the car an emotional presence Rolls-Royce’s new Ghost sedan doesn’t have. There are also strong elements of the Brooklands coupe in the low roofline and rakish C-pillars. The most controversial styling elements are likely to be the front bumper and giant inboard headlights, though there’s no mistaking the front end graphic for anything other than a Bentley. Standard wheels are formal looking 21 inchers; sportier five-spoke 22s will also be available.
Audi e-tron Concept Although photos of the Audi e-tron concept leaked onto the internet days before its official debut at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show, Audi managed to keep a tight lid on its technical details until the cover was taken off at the show. From a design standpoint, the e-tron looks like an R8 that has gone backwards through the concept-to-production process, receiving futuristic-looking headlights, taillights, and wheels on the outside and a spartan, futuristic cockpit featuring an LCD display in the middle of the gauge-cluster inside. At 167.7 in. long, 74.8 in. wide, and 48.43 in. tall, the e-tron is slightly smaller than the R8 and its 102.4-in. wheelbase is slightly shorter. Powering the 3527-lb all-electric sports car are four electric motors generating a combined 313 hp and a semi-truck-like 3319 lb-ft of torque, which propel it from 0-62 mph in 4.8 seconds though top speed is limited to just 124 mph. Power for the motors comes from a lithium-ion battery rated for 42kWh that provides a range of approximately 154 miles.
Posted by Alt at 9:01 AM
2010 Aston Martin Rapide Don't call it a sedan. The 2010 Aston Martin Rapide is, according to company insiders, "the world's most elegant four door sports car". And for once the PR hype is right -- the first production Rapide, unveiled at a private party the night before the first press day at the Frankfurt Show, looked damned elegant under the lights at the hip Roomers Hotel. And it is a sports car. Let's cut to the chase: The Rapide's back seats are nowhere near as roomy as those of the Porsche Panamera. Elegance has a price -- whereas my 6'2" frame will fit behind a driver's seat set to my optimum driving position in Porsche's four-door with an inch of kneeroom to spare, my knees are brushing the backrest in the close-coupled Aston. Surprisingly, I have an inch or so of headroom in the Rapide, but that swoopy greenhouse means I can't see much out the side window without stooping. And getting my big feet out from the deep footwells involves some ungraceful contortions. Okay, so it's not like a limo back there. But does that mean the Aston Rapide is a failure? Not for a moment. The reality is that the Rapide, like most S-class Benzes and 7 Series BMWs, will only occasionally carry four adults, and then only for relatively short trips. "This is perfectly okay for a half hour trip to a nice restaurant," says Aston CEO Ulrich Bez of the Rapide's rear cabin. And he's right. The rest of the time, the Rapide owner can bask in the warm glow that, unlike the Porsche Panamera, his fast four-door is turning heads for all the right reasons. You can bet he won't be spending a lot of time explaining why the Aston looks the way it does. It's viscerally gorgeous. The car is built on Ulrich Bez's clever VH flexible architecture, which means it shares a lot of hardware under the skin with existing Astons. Front and rear suspension is similar to DB9. Only one engine -- the 6.0-liter V-12, tuned to develop 470 hp and 443lb ft of torque -- will be available, driving the rear wheels through an upgraded "Touchtronic 2" version of the ZF six-speed automatic.
Posted by Alt at 8:48 AM
2010 Porsche 911 GT3 RS
The Porsche 911 GT3 RS may have been one of the best road-legal sports cars on the market, but that didn't stop Porsche from making it even better. For 2010, Stuttgart tweaked GT3 RS, giving it more power, better handling, and reducing its weight, making it an even meaner street and track machine.
Starting in the back, Porsche punched-out the previous GT3 RS's 3.6L naturally aspirated flat-six to 3.8L, resulting in a 15-hp increase for a total of 450 hp. A revised six-speed transaxle features shorter throws and closer ratios for increased performance and, like the outgoing model, the entire exhaust system continues to be built from lightweight titanium.
Moving forward, Porsche widened the front and rear tracks to fit nine-inch-wide wheels in front and 12-inch-wide wheels at the rear wrapped in 245/35 ZR 19 and 325/30 ZR 19 tires respectively. Porsche Active Drivetrain Mounts are standard and minimize drivetrain weight transfer in hard cornering.
Other changes include a lowered ride height, a larger carbon-fiber rear wing, new bodywork to reach around the wider tires, new paint and graphics schemes and an optional lithium-ion battery that is more than 22 lbs lighter than a standard lead-acid battery.
The updated Porsche 911 GT3 RS is slated to go on sale in Europe following its Frankfurt debut and in the U.S. next year. In the states, pricing will start at $132,800 before delivery and other charges.
Posted by Alt at 8:16 PM
Electric Love: Renault DeZir EV Sports Coupe Coming to Paris Renault's new DeZir all-electric sports concept is a "passionate" signal of the French automaker's new design direction, thanks in large part to the efforts of Laurens van den Acker. The Dutch designer recently left the top design post at Mazda to take a similar position at Renault, and the DeZir is his team's first showcase effort. DeZir, which will make its world debut at the upcoming 2010 Paris motor show, is a two-door, all-electric-powered sports coupe with a unique gullwing door setup. Several automakers have trotted out sexy-looking EVs lately, and not surprisingly, Renault says the DeZir "is proof that electric vehicles and a love of cars are by no means incompatible." Renault says the DeZir, which drew inspiration from Renault's past, is also the first of several concepts to production vehicles that will further explore the brand's new, more expressive design direction. DeZir reportedly features front end design cues that will find their way to future production Renaults. The DeZir's electric motor is rated at 110 kilowatts (150 horsepower) and 166 pound feet of instantly available torque. It's a minor evolution of the setup found in Renault's zero-emission Z.E. series of cars, which employ roughly the same powertrain as the Nissan Leaf thanks to the Nissan/Renault alliance. The motor of the rear drive DeZir is mounted in a mid-rear position to optimize weight distribution. The DeZir's vertically mounted 24kWh lithium-ion battery pack is located behind the seat. Renault says the DeZir can shoot from 0 to 62 mph in 5 seconds flat onto a top speed of 112 mph. The 1830-pound car's range is pegged at 100 miles and charge times vary depending on connection In order to keep weight down, the DeZir's body is made from Kevlar and its sleek shape scores it a drag coefficient (Cd) of just 0.25. Its tubular steel frame is similar to the setup of its Megane Trophy race car, as are elements of its double wishbone suspension. DeZir also employs a kinetic energy recovery system along the lines of the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) from Formula 1. When the car decelerates, kinetic energy is recovered and stored. When enough energy is available, the driver can get a temporary power boost by pushing a button on the steering wheel. Van den Acker was one of the chief architects of Mazda's Nagare design language (which the Japanese automaker is reportedly abandoning), and there are some similarities to recent Mazda concepts, such as lots of flowing lines all over the car from front to back. And then there are the cross-drilled aluminium side panels that evoke the Audi R8. But the DeZir has plenty of its own character, including the left- and right-hand opening gullwing doors that Renault says symbolize a "ying and yang-style amorous harmony." There are the requisite 21-inch concept wheels, roof and headlight "eyelids," and a Renault logo designed to float in the middle of the grille. The front and back lines are supposed to be reminiscent of ripples on water. Its bright red color is contrasted by a white and red interior that Renault says evokes "the idea of an amorous encounter" (no, we're not making this up, read the press release below) and features a unique white bench seat with red ripples. Under the leadership of Laurens van den Acker, Renault's Design Department has taken its inspiration from the brand's new signature 'Drive the Change' and explores Renault's styling roots to express the company's powerful human dimension via a new strategy founded on the notion of the 'life cycle'. This vision also builds on the bonds that are gradually forged between the brand and its customers at watershed moments of their lives, such as when they fall inlove, begin to explore the world, start a family, begin work, take time out to play and gain wisdom. This approach coincides with the introduction of a new Renault design language that takes its inspiration from the three keywords which communicate the brand's vision, namely 'simple', 'sensuous' and 'warm'. In keeping with this strategy, Renault's concept cars will progressively express this vision, paving the way for a product plan based on a range of rational, user-friendly cars. To implement this, Renault Design has revised its methodology, and a single team of designers will now be responsible for each new concept car and for the subsequent production model it previews. DeZir is the first project to be led by Laurens van den Acker and exemplifies the brand's new philosophy with regard to design. It also marks the implementation of the strategy based on the notion of a 'life cycle'. The first step involves falling in love, an experience that is perfectly illustrated by DeZir's powerful, sensuous styling and bright red finish; red being the colour associated with passion. "DeZir is a statement of our new formal design language which conveys notions such as movement, sensuality and emotion through ideal proportions, in much the same way as an object whose forms have been honed by nature. The result is a warm, stimulating design that says 'Renault'," explains Axel Breun, Renault's Director of Concept Car and Show Car Design. Fluidity was an overriding theme from the initial preliminary sketches, and was expressed by a blend of simple forms and generous volumes. "My early source of inspiration stemmed from the liquid sensation, wave-like movement and contrasts in light associated with certain rippled surfaces," observes Yann Jarsalle, who was in charge of DeZir's exterior styling. "By directly laying out volumes and not just joining together a number of surfaces by lines, I felt more in tune with the world of sculpture than with that of architecture." The result is a two-seater coupe which is both sculptural in spirit yet perfectly harmonious. DeZir's shape features prominent wheel arches that accommodate 21-inch wheels, the design of which took its inspiration from the notion of movement. Meanwhile, the sides feature a combination of flush and recessed forms that play on contrasting light patterns. The 'Z' in the name DeZir is a direct reference to Renault's zero-emission Z.E. signature, and several features of its design are suggestive of two qualities readily associated with electric mobility, namely advanced technology and light weight. Indeed, the recessed, linear styling of the front air intake and the entire rear-end convey an impression of lightness in addition to efficiently channelling battery-cooling air from the front to the rear. To provide rhythm and balance to the overall package, this smooth, fluid skin contrasts with the ripple effect seen on the aluminium side panels, roof and headlight 'eyelids'. The design of these features alludes to the ripples which can form when a breeze blows over water, while the geometric pattern adds an unmistakable high-tech feel. The prevailing bright red colour of the body interacts with the graphical forms of the cross-drilled aluminium side panels which equally exude a sense of light weight and technology. The geometric forms of the glazed areas also contribute to DeZir's overall design and are reminiscent of a fighter-plane cockpit or certain endurance racing prototypes. The absence of a rear window is overcome by the fitment of two rear-facing cameras which provide the driver with a panoramic view of what is happening behind the car. The creative thinking behind the design of the front end was aimed at recalling Renault's styling heritage, while at the same time paving the way for the design trends of the brand's forthcoming models. DeZir's front end features a full-width air-intake which strikes out either side of a large, vertically-positioned Renault logo that proudly displays the car's brand pedigree. Meanwhile, the chrome finish of the lozenge contrasts with the dark aspect of the grille to express the statement still further. The air scoops situated at the outer extremities of the front air intake are a legacy of Renault's formal styling language and form an integral part of the air intake's design, as do the headlights which sit above these scoops. The front-end design previews the new front-end identity that is poised to become a feature of all Renault models in the future. The headlights take the form of backlit prisms, which make them a highly graphic feature. The perforated 'eyelids' add to this high-tech feel and contribute to DeZir's specific lighting signature. Rear lighting is provided by an illuminated, seemingly floating strip that extends across the full width of the car. The Renault logo is highlighted by backlighting through the fins of the grille and consequently appears to hover in the middle of this space. The gull-wing doors are another feature that embody automotive passion and reveal a refined interior, while the fact that the left- and right-hand doors open in opposite directions symbolises a ying and yang-style amorous harmony. The interior design also suggests lightness. "Love is a sentiment that lifts you; gives you wings," says Stephane Maiore, who was in charge of DeZir's interior styling. "Inside DeZir, you feel like you're floating on a cloud," adds Stephanie Petit, Colours and Materials Designer. The forms are soft and light, while the predominant colour is white, although there are also echoes of the same passionate red used for the exterior. The materials employed for the interior, like the senses they awaken, are precious, with white leather upholstery and trimming for the seats, dashboard and floor, along with a red lacquered finish for the console and accessories. The one-piece, two-seater front benchseat provides cocoon-like comfort. To emphasise the sensation of shared passion and lightness, it comprises a number of interlocking elements trimmed in white leather, with a quilted pattern on the passenger's side, and a contrasting uniform finish on the driver's side, as if to suggest an inexorable attraction between the two. The embroidered pattern on the leather is based on a graphical representation of the Renault logo and is an example of refined of couture a la francaise. This technique also provides an indication of the forthcoming trend for future production models. The interior styling takes its inspiration from the idea of an amorous encounter and is based on a coming together of opposites: the cockpit-style driver's environment contrasts with the ethereal lightness of the dashboard and the feel of the white leather bench seat the driver's door features a bright red lacquered finish, while the panel of the passenger-side door is trimmed in white leather the dashboard, too, features contrasting finishes, with one part trimmed in white leather and another which exudes a more high-tech feel, with a rippled effect the white benchseat seems to float on a red-hued bed of light which, once again, symbolises passion. This lighting gently pulses to a rhythm that suggests a beating heart But couples also seek to protect one another, and the forms of the interior are suggestive of this notion of protection: the centre console houses the transmission-mode selection lever the housing of the transmission-mode selection lever reveals luminous petals which indicate the selected mode the steering column is shrouded in a red housing that extends up to the steering wheel hub itself DeZir is powered by an electric motor mounted in a mid-rear position to optimise weight distribution over the front and rear wheels. The vertically-mounted 24kWh lithium-ion battery is located behind the benchseat and provides the car with a range of 100 miles. Batterycooling is ensured not only by the air channelled from the front to the back of the car, but also - and above all - by the flow of air that enters through the lateral scoops concealed behind the aluminium panels on either side of the body. The basic motor is the same as the unit used for Renault's production electric cars, although an evolution has enabled its power and torque to be uprated to 110kW (150ch) and 226Nm respectively. Three battery-charging methods can be employed: a standard charge using a conventional household plug (fully charges the battery in eight hours) a fast charge using a 400V three-phase current (charges the battery to 80 per cent of its capacity in 20 minutes) a fast battery exchange thanks to Renault's Quick Drop technology In order to optimise range and dynamic performance, Renault Design's technical teams have kept DeZir's weight to a minimum: its body is made from Kevlar, while its tubular steel frame is similar to that employed for the Megane Trophy race car. DeZir's suspension also shares certain features with that of Megane Trophy - including a double wishbone arrangement - to deliver a particularly high standard of handling precision. DeZir's aerodynamics have been carefully honed, too, thanks to full underbody fairing and a rear diffuser. The result of this work is a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.25, as well as outstanding acceleration, with DeZir capable of accelerating from rest to 62mph in just five seconds. DeZir's energy efficiency package also includes the recovery of deceleration energy. The technology it employs is based on the same principles as the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) seen in Formula 1. When the car decelerates, kinetic energy is recovered and stored in the battery. In the case of DeZir, this energy can then be employed by the driver to provide a temporary power boost at the moment he or she chooses, using a button located on the steering wheel. Driving pleasure is further enhanced by the design of the driver interface. The dashboard visually mirrors the sensations felt at the wheel by means of a graphic display of data received from the accelerometer and speed sensors. The central touchscreen display incorporates a smart navigation system that synchronises journey information with the driver's diary in order to optimise task management and itineraries. Software incorporated in the dashboard provides drivers with a real-time indication of their energy management ability via a fun interface that uses video-game style graphics.
Posted by Alt at 7:36 PM
Lamborghini reventon roadster
At this very same Frankfurt show two years ago, Lamborghini unveiled the Reventon -- the Raging Bull's stunning, range-topping super model. With all 20 copies of the Reventon gone and the Murcielego nearing the end of its long lifespan, Sant A'gata Bolognese has one more trick behind the curtain in the form of the Reventon Roadster.
In all, the Reventon Roadster is essentially a Reventon with a removable roof. It's powered by the same 6.5L V-12, though it now makes 670 hp and 487 lb-ft of torque and can hit 62 mph in just 3.4 secs and a top speed of 205 mph, but this time with the wind in your hair. A dry-sump oiling system keeps the engine lubricated and mounted as low as possible for optimal weight distribution, which, at 42/58 front/rear is optimal, according to Lamborghini. Lamborghini's E-Gear single-clutch six-speed automated manual transmission sends power to all four wheels and, when the rear wheels are just spinning, can send up to 35% of the power to the front.
Like other Lamborghinis, the Reventon is a carbon-fiber masterpiece. The main tub is made of carbon-fiber with steel reinforcements while the bodywork is all carbon-fiber, save for the steel door skins. Lamborghini found that the structure of the original Reventon was so strong that minimal reinforcement was needed when they removed the roof. As a result, the Reventon Roadster checks in at 3,725 lbs, just 55 lbs heavier than the original.
Posted by Alt at 6:45 PM