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Freestream T1 roadster produces 480 bhp and weighs just 465 kilograms

February 7, 2006 The Freestream T1 is ultra lightweight 2-seater with wind-tunnel aerodynamics, a composite construction, a 480bhp 2.4-litre V8 and one of the lightest weights of any road car in existence - just 465kg. Built by a team of engineers who were part of the elite team that designed and developed the iconic McLaren F1, the T1’s 1,000bhp/tonne power-to-weight ratio will offer 3g cornering, and braking and acceleration performance approaching that of a Formula One car. Though it could well be the ultimate track day car, the T1 will be road registerable and is expected to cost in the vicinity of UKP150,000 when it goes on sale later this year.  Read More

Audi’s US$6,300 Concert-Level B&O Sound System

February 6, 2006 What’s the one automotive accessory that is used close to 100% of the time a car is occupied? The answer is of course, the sound system. So when Audi set out to build its flagship A8 and S8 sports limousines, it decided to offer an optional, state-of-the-art flagship audio product to match. In order to create the system, Audi teamed with Danish audio specialist Bang & Olufsen and the design pays heed to the actual acoustic characteristics of the car interior, such as internal space, shape and materials used, driving speed, the corresponding wind effect and the friction between asphalt and tyres are also taken into account. The system uses fourteen active high-end loudspeakers, B&O Acoustic Lens Technology and two sets of amplifiers (a high performance amplifier and a Digital Signal Processor) to supply a combined output of more than 1,000 watts. When the system is activated, two lens speakers automatically emerge from the dashboard, giving perfect sound to every seat in the car with precisely aligned horizontal emissions.  Read More

Marcus Gronholm

February 6, 2006 Ford has many reasons to celebrate overnight for Marcus Gronholm's win in the Uddeholm Swedish Rally in Karlstad; it was Ford’s 50th win in the World Rally Championship, Gronholm’s 20th WRC win (moving him to equal fifth on the all-time list) and it happened on his 38th birthday. The Finn admitted that he isn't so interested in his age anymore but his second win of the season in the Focus WRC06 was the primary reason to celebrate, having dominated the event and led from the first stage. However, of more interest to Ford its lead in the drivers championship and the manufacturers championship. It was a particularly sweet victory for Ford as despite its long and illustrious rally history (the Zodiac, Zephyr, Falcon, Anglia, Cortina, ad infinitum), the last time the marque won in Sweden was in 1978, with Bjorn Waldegard at the wheel of the Escort RS1800, when the WRC was just five years old. Gronholm’s win, and the exclusion of the third of the big three competitors in WRC, Subaru’s Petter Solberg, the bookies have now firmed Gronholm to 2.25 (5/4) clear second favourite for the drivers championship, though current world champion Sebastien Loeb remains odds-on favourite for the title at 1.70 (approx. 6/4 on). Solberg has now drifted to 8.00 (7/1) and Subaru’s Australian prodigy Chris Atkinson is fourth favourite at a staggering 80/1. Clearly the championship is a three-horse-race after just two events of the 16 event series.  Read More

Renault Altica sporty estate concept car

February 4, 2006 Renault has taken the wraps off its latest concept car, Altica, a sporty estate car with a spacious interior. Described by Renault's Senior Vice President, Corporate Design, Patrick le Quement, as “a successful balance between flowing and sporty lines,” the Altica is designed to combine the practicality of an estate car, the sports appeal of a coupe and a high standard of travelling comfort. The interior of the car is where most of the advanced concepts are employed, with a suspended drive station held in place by four profiled rods that hint at the world of Formula 1. Similarly, the seats are fixed, and the drive station and pedal assembly adjust to match the driver's physique via a motorized mechanism. Altica's sports pedigree is reinforced by its scissor doors, the form of which ensures easy access to this low vehicle.  Read More

Toyota mini SUV Urban Cruiser concept

February 4, 2006 Toyota is set to show a concept it is billing as an Urban Cruiser at this month’s Geneva Auto Show. The futuristic mini SUV is a design exercise by ED2, Toyota’s European design studio with the concept car drawing heavily on Toyota’s heritage in Sports Utility Vehicles but also adding its own dynamic flair and rugged originality. The Urban Cruiser will also feature a fresh interior style inspired by trendy furniture.  Read More

PSA Peugeot Citroen unveils Peugeot 307 and the Citroen C4 Hybride HDi cars offering 3.4 l...

February 3, 2006 PSA Peugeot Citroen has unveiled two demonstrator vehicles featuring a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain: the Peugeot 307 and the Citroen C4 Hybride HDi. Average diesel consumption for these two cars is 3.4 litres per 100 kilometres (83 mpg) with 90 grams of CO2 emitted per kilometre - a record for compact cars. This is some 25% better than a similar vehicle equipped with a petrol hybrid system, or as much as a litre per 100 kilometres (20 mpg) in combined urban and motorway driving. PSA Peugeot Citroen’s Hybrid HDi technology comprises a 1.6-litre HDi diesel engine, a particulate filter system (DPFS), the latest generation Stop & Start system, an electric motor, inverter, high-voltage battery pack and dedicated control electronics. The cars are also equipped with an electronically managed manual gearbox.  Read More

Rossi shines in Formula One testing

February 2, 2006 Italian MotoGP star Valentino Rossi is already a phenomenon and seems destined for an even greater share of the media’s attention over the coming year now that he has stepped into the limelight of the world’s biggest spectator event – Formula One. Yesterday he stepped out in his new capacity as an official Ferrari F1 test driver alongside team leader Michael Schumacher and amongst most of the major Formula One drivers on the same track – the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia, Spain. Driving a 2004 Ferrari F2004, Rossi finished eighth fastest of the 15 drivers, completing 53 laps, with a best time of 1.12.851. Schumacher covered a total of 71 laps, setting the third quickest time of the day at 1.11.814. Rossi was faster than a number of established F1 stars on the day, including Red Bull’s David Coulthard, Williams’ Mark Webber and Toyota’s Jarno Trulli. Rossi has been linked to a move to Formula One in 2007, with his Yamaha MotoGP contract expiring at the end of 2006. This article looks at the parallel careers of Rossi and the only person to have won both the F1 and MotoGP championship - John Surtees.  Read More

Fiat and Microsoft launch Blue&Me in-car communications & entertainment system

February 2, 2006 Fiat and Microsoft will launch Blue&Me based on Windows Mobile for Automotive at the 2006 Geneva Motorshow later this month, marking a significant milestone in the evolution of in-car communication, infotainment and entertainment systems and providing all vehicles in the Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Fiat Commercial Vehicle ranges with a competitive advantage. Blue&Me will be the first product seen from the long-term strategic partnership inked in July 2004 with the objective of co-designing innovative automotive telematics systems. Blue&Me is an all-new system which will be software upgradeable and compatible with most mobile phones, digital media players and other mobile devices so they can be replaced without compromising compatibility with the car. The voice-activated system, the complete integration of steering wheel control buttons and information on the dashboard display will allow users to utilize any Bluetooth-based mobile phone. Thanks to a modern voice-recognition system, no preliminary voice training is needed, and even incoming SMS messages are read aloud to the driver. Among audio functions, it is possible to listen to music stored on a mobile phone, in the newest smart phones, and in MP3 readers or USB removable sticks via a USB port in the glove box.  Read More

Rotating Cylinder Valve (RCV) engine unveiled

UK-based RCV Engines is best known globally for its range of model aircraft engines but the unveiling yesterday of a prototype 125cc Rotating Cylinder Valve (RCV) scooter engine could put it on the map in a far more significant way. The RCV engine is ideally suited to sub-250cc applications such as motorcycles, scooters and power tools where it offers 100PS/litre performance and manufacturing costs akin to those of a two-stroke, with the emission levels and fuel consumption of a four-stroke. International demand for small motorcycle engines is massive with the Chinese, Indian and Indonesian markets accounting for 22 million small capacity engines annually – traditionally, these have been two-stroke engines but with the advent of exhaust emission regulations the bulk of production is now represented by larger, more expensive and less powerful 4-strokes. The RCV engine offers a particularly attractive solution for this large and growing market sector and also has application in chain saws, leaf blowers, strimmers and the emerging Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) market. Better still, RCV engines run well on alternative fuels such as kerosene and bio-fuels and significant further potential remains for this engine concept in areas such as variable valve timing, variable compression ratio and supercharging which could improve already impressive performance to new heights.  Read More

The EDAG Biwak – the Beetle Estate Wagon inspired by the grunge movement

February 2, 2006 EDAG Engineering + Design regularly comes up with interesting automotive concepts and has once again surprised us with the Biwak concept it will display at the Geneva Motor Show later this month. Like the Porsche Chopster SUV it showed last year, the Biwak is a derivative concept based on an existing design, though this time, it's based on Volkswagen's iconic Beetle. In this case, the classic, half-rounded beetle shape has been converted into an estate silhouette, creating extra room for various new professional and leisure applications. Now if you think the exterior treatment is provocative, wait until you get to the rationale. The EDAG Biwak look is “inspired by the spirit of the grunge movement of the early 1990s.” EDAG describes the Biwak thus: a daring mix of materials in the interior and exterior, and patina instead of a high-gloss finish dominate the appearance of the avantgarde Beetle, which signals understatement and individuality for a new generation of vehicle owners. The vehicle will be unveiled at a press conference on March 1, 2006.  Read More

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