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Automotive

C4 Picasso MPV with vast panoramic windscreen

August 4, 2006 Citroen has revealed first details of its new seven-seat compact MPV, the C4 Picasso, a new people carrier that will make its world debut at the Paris Motor show next month. The C4 Picasso’s versatile family car features include: a vast panoramic windscreen that contributes to outstanding all-round visibility, a new 6-speed electronic gearbox system and imaginative dashboard design, class-leading amounts of space in both the passenger compartment and boot, an original seat-folding design, allowing quick and easy reconfiguration of the seats, the highest levels of interior comfort and refinement, with zonal air conditioning, soundproofed windows, air quality sensor and the use of innovative interior lighting, impressive ride comfort, with air suspension at the rear.  Read More

The new Audi S3 – luxury compact hot hatch

August 3, 2006 The hot hatch segment gets more crowded every day, and Audi’s new premium compact class contender the S3 spans several segments. It runs a specially developed version of Volkswagen’s 2.0 litre Turbo FSI engine featuring a new turbo charger with an enlarged turbine and compressor rotor and modified intercooler to produce 265 PS @ 6,000rpm and 350Nm of torque from 2,500rpm to 5,000rpm running through a six-speed manual gearbox to the quattro four-wheel-drive system. First deliveries are expected in Europe in January 2007 at UKP27,000 OTR. The new S3 will run 0-100 km/h in 5.7 seconds with a top speed limited to 155mph.  Read More

Hydrogen Z.CAR with speed adjusted wheelbase

August 1, 2006 The Z.CAR is a three-wheeled two-seat city car by prolific Iraki designer Zaha Hadid and it’s one of the most interesting new designs we have seen in a while, using the hinged rear suspension to facilitate a variable (speed adjusted) wheelbase so the car can be better at both country and city driving. In town, the drive-by-wire Z.CAR sits more upright to offer the driver a better view in traffic and to make parking easier - a shortened wheelbase requires less space. At higher speeds the pod lowers around 10 degrees, on the hinged rear suspension, lengthening the wheelbase for greater high speed stability, moving the car’s centre of gravity closer to the road for better handling and tilting the teardrop shape backwards for lower frontal area and improved aerodynamics. The lightweight carbon-fibre composite Z.CAR is hydrogen powered by design, but “there is a functional prototype in development with a British manufacturer, with the fruits expected to be unveiled within 7-12 months” according to inside sources. We think the Z.CAR is ready for prime-time, but not in hydrogen format – there are alternatives but let’s hope a path to market is negotiated because this vehicle promises much. The projected price of the Z.CAR is said to be approximately UKP35,000 (US$65,000).  Read More

BMW redefines Safe Parking

August 1 2006 BMW drivers will soon be able to garage their cars by remote control and boost child safety at the same time. The prototype BMW Remote Park Assist allows drivers to stand beside their car while it parks itself in their garage. The car can be reversed from the parking place with the driver monitoring pedestrian traffic, removing the risk of reversing into children or pets. Vehicle guidance is controlled via the key fob and the car moves at 2.5 km/h, half walking speed. As soon as button on the key fob is released the car stops moving. Guidance is controlled via sensors and a special mirror mounted in the garage. The car is retrieved from its parking space in an exact reversal of the parking manoeuvre. Sensors detect obstructions and guide the car around them. BMW Remote Park Assist is ideal for restricted inner city parking spaces such as town house developments and apartment buildings. The prototype system was revealed in Munich at the BMW Innovations Day last month.  Read More

The all-new turbo-charged 128 kW MINI Cooper S

July 31, 2006 The full reveal of the next generation MINI is just one month away, but MINI has provided a sneak preview of the new car’s mechanical package at a final pre-production shake-down in Holland. Lightly camouflaged next generation MINIs were driven by European media earlier this month and the expectation of a turbocharged MINI has materialised. The next generation MINI will be powered by new British-built engines, featuring for the first time, turbocharged induction, and the news that every part of the powertrain and chassis has been thoroughly revised or updated. Engines and transmissions, suspension and steering, brakes and safety systems are new from the ground up. Engineers were tasked with enhancing the legendary agility and control delivered by the go-kart-like MINI handling. The first of the next generation MINI models to reach the international market will be the MINI Cooper - equipped with an 88 kW four-cylinder naturally-aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine with the turbo-charged 128 kW MINI Cooper S following then the MINI One and MINI One Diesel will follow later in international markets. The MINI Cooper S features an ‘Overboost’ slingshot torque feature for super fast acceleration.  Read More

Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina

July 31, 2006 Feast your eyes on this beautie - it’s the Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina and will debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The car is a one-off commissioned by James Glickenhaus, the American collector with a yen for the legendary racing cars of the Sixties. Starting from a Ferrari Enzo, the aim was to produce a sole vehicle inspired by sport racing cars with extreme vocations: not just a show-car but a vehicle to be enjoyed on the road. Using CAS modelling, more than 200 components were specifically developed through constant interaction between styling and design for the mainly carbon fibre, very mobile sculpture. It's no show pony alone, as it it was wind-tunnel tested along the way to deliver function as well as the equisite form.  Read More

An in-car Macintosh-based PC

When it comes to the disciplines of performance, handling and spectacular body design, the world’s most exclusive sports cars rarely leave anything to be desired. That changes when it comes to the interior as many of their discriminating owners wish to customize according to their own, often very personal tastes. German company Mattes Interieurtechnik specializes just in interior automotive design for ultra luxury cars. Every detail of how the interior will be customized is discussed in a personal conversation with the customer and there is no limit to the colours the customer can choose from, regardless of whether it's the leather or Alcantara used, the floor and trunk carpeting or the thread for the stitching, or one’s choice of personal computer. Until now all existing multimedia and business systems on wheels were based on PC technology. Mattes Interieurtechnik responded to the request of many of its customers who prefer Apple computers and developed a high-end in-car system based on an Apple iMac G5, whose entire hardware in turn is integrated into the 17-inch monitor that is only 5 centimeters thick. The iMac G5 multimedia system can be integrated into any car, though it is pictured here in the new Mercedes CLS where it'll set you back around UE 3,500. The computer comes covered in the finest magnolia-colored leather and is installed on the driveshaft tunnel behind the front seats. By unplugging one cable and unfastening the locking mechanism the computer can be removed from the car in less than an a minute for use at home or in the office.  Read More

Caterham Seven Roadsport delivers 131 miles per gallon

July 28, 2006 Caterham is famed for producing some of the fastest cars in the world, and we tend to give the cars regular coverage because they offer a bang-per-buck factor that’s right up there with their power to weight ratio. So what happens when you take a Caterham and refocus its 550 kg weight towards achieving efficient fuel consumption rather than in getting there quickly? A modified Caterham Seven Roadsport 1.6-litre 16-valve K Series sports car was entered in the recent Shell Eco-Marathon. A bit of aerodynamic modification and a set of narrow low rolling resistance tyres were the main changes alongside some economic driving techniques to ensure it maximised every drop of fuel. The sportscar was the only road registered car in the event and the team was hoping for 100mpg. On the day, it recorded 131 miles per gallon.  Read More

Instant Man in Your Glove Box

July 27, 2006 It’s a sad fact but despite thousands of years of civilization, it just takes a bit of frustration on the roads and otherwise law abiding citizens can get very ugly and threatening. A poll in the UK shows that nearly one in three female motorists admit to having been the victim of road rage or intimidation when travelling alone, which is why new UK car insurance company Sheilas' Wheels is offering a new device that aims to make women feel safer when driving alone after dark. 'Buddy on Demand' is a blow up man that inflates at the flick of a switch if and when a passenger is needed. It is designed to help women deter road-rage attacks, car jacking and intimidating behaviour by other motorists - especially at night - by giving the appearance of two silhouettes in the front of the car, instead of a single, female figure behind the wheel. The 'Buddy on Demand' was designed and created by Inflate, builders of the Office in a bucket and a range of other remarkable inflatable structures.  Read More

Formula One Car for the Road - the Hulme SuperCar

Conceived as a Formula One car for the road, and named after famous Kiwi racing driver Denny Hulme, the Supercars NZ Hulme is a new contender in the UKP300,000 plus European exotica category. Unveiled to the local New Zealand media in mid 2005, the company had its initial European tour-de-force over the last few weeks at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the ultra-exclusive Salon Prive. The Hulme SuperCar is powered by a BMW M5 V8 producing 550brake horses running through a six speed sequential gearbox, and weighs in at the curb with all bodily fluids topped up at a very slim 1175 kilograms. The body is a carbon fibre shell and will be produced in limited quantities of up to 30 a year in the Koeniggseg and Pagani category of high end exotica.  Read More

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