Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

At the New York show Jaguar has pulled the bandages off the XF after its mid-life nip’n’tuck. A significant number of major parts have been changed. Bonnet, wings, headlamps, grille and front bumper are all new. But it was already a looker, so this is no extreme makeover. The changes are subtle.

Mind you, there will be a lot more XFs on the road from now on, because the new 2.2 diesel will be a hot-selling rival to BMW’s seen-everywhere 520d.

The headlamps are slimmer now, with LEDs curling around the border of the module. The grille is bigger and more upright, and the bonnet has more of a power bulge. Are you sensing an XJ there here? Correct.

The maximum-attack supercharged XFR now has three chrome-ringed lower grilles, and the sides get deeper sills. Out back, the tailpipes poke out of a mildly menacing diffuser.

Inside, there are new seats on all models and the switches are easier to read and more finger-friendly. Worthwhile detail stuff.

The main mechanical news is that competitively smooth and quick four-cylinder diesel, tested here.

The New York show was a comparatively quiet event, much of this month’s novelty having been given to the Shanghai show two days earlier. This gave Jag the chance to sweep up the lion’s share of the headlines at the end of the week.

To press home the advantage, it also served up a facelift to the XK, which also runs to new lamps and wings. The headlamps lose their angular corners, and the front wing vents are horizontal not vertical. ‘We always wanted to give it horizontal vents,’ a Jag designer told us, ‘But when the XK was new we were in Ford with Aston Martin, so we weren’t allowed to do the same as them. Now we can do what we like.’

Looks cool, right? Finally, you’re thinking, the police get a righteous car with which to chase down the baddies.

This police liveried Lotus Evora will be making its debut this weekend at the Autosport International show in Birmingham, where UK cops will be using it as an educational tool.

They want to use it as an ice-breaker to teach young scallywags the dangers of speed. That’s right, a 276bhp sports car capable of 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds used for school.

The plan was simple: the TG office decamps to Paris to see an awfully famous Mouse and a Big Tower to wash away the oncoming winter blues. Much cheese would be eaten.

But some internet people speculated that lots of cars would be happening in the French capital. Shiny ones you might be able to buy if you had ‘moneys’, and strange, futuristic ones you’ll never be able to buy, even if you had lots of ‘moneys’.

This intrigued us. We therefore set aside our strict cheese-eating regime, recalculated our TomToms and, despite being quite lost for some time, eventually found what the feverish speculation was pointing to: the 2010 Paris Motor Show.

There will be cars! There will be girls! There will be gentlemen with severe Vitamin D deficiencies who only speak in 0-62mph times!

We are rather excited, partly because of the Maserati GT Stradale above, Lamborghini, Lotus and much more supercars.


Lamborghini Gallardo Blancpain

Lotus Elite

BMW 6 Series concept

Porsche Speedster

Range Rover Evoque

Ford Focus ST

Vauxhall Astra VXR

Audi A1 ‘S-Line’

Kia Pop

Citroen Lacoste

Infiniti Performance Line

Some Bentley sunglasses. The company might also show the new Conti GT.

Excited? You should be, you automotive rascals. Lamborghini is serving up a treat for you, so you better bring your big plate…

What you see above is the Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Blancpain Edition. For the peasants among you, Blancpain make watches. Like, really expensive ones. A Blancpain watch is to a wrist-based timepiece what the Palace of Versailles is to a land-based residence.

Blancpain also sponsors Lamborghini’s lightly insane Super Trofeo race series – the fastest one-make series on Earth – so the good folk at Sant’Agata felt it necessary to smother a Superleggera in carbon fibre and roll out a new Gallardo. All hail the Blancpain Edition!

This Blancpain Gallardo gets a mighty carbon fibre rear spoiler, new engine cover (for ventilation), diffuser, new mirror casings, carbon-ceramic brake discs and calipers, and ‘Skorpius’ wheels.

The seats are stitched in Alcantara with yellow accents and visible carbon fibre, along with the Blancpain logo stitched about the cabin.

Lamborghini reckons the Gallardo’s performance is enhanced by these carbon-fibre details, but the specs are equal to the standard 570-4 Superleggera: the 5.2-litre V10 generates 565bhp and propels the Gallardo, its owners and their soon-to-be-emptied stomachs from 0-62mph in just 3.4 seconds and on to a top speed of over 200mph. Sant’Agata also proudly trumpets the Blancpain’s weight boasts no more than 1,340kg – the same as the Superleggera.

Still, this be no bad thing indeed. 570bhp in something weighing the same as a Focus diesel is a Good Thing. Like it?

And now, rather spuriously, is some more Lamborghini goodness. US tuner Underground Racing has tweaked the mighty, meaty and magnificent Murcielago LP670-4. And by tweaked, we mean wig-splitting, ice-cap melting tweakery. They’ve pumped the Murci’s power from 670bhp to 1,100bhp using two turbochargers.

Range Rover Evoque

Posted: September 25, 2010 in Uncategorized
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The LRX wowed us; Victoria Beckham pouted it at us; liveried warriors marched off into the world for us…

and now it’s here.

Land Rover has officially announced the arrival of its smallest model, the Evoque, which will be offered like a sacrificial goat to the public at the Paris motor show.

The Evoque is as close an interpretation of the LRX concept possible, and is the lightest and most efficient Rangie ever.

And it looks pretty good, ‘innit? While some of the Top Gear office regard it as a two-doored, two-wheel drive metropolitan abomination of all that we hold dear about this company’s utilitarian past, even they can’t deny that it’s going to do very well. Expect it to be the ride of choice for all Fulham/Cheshire-based wives from next summer – much as the Audi TT and Mini have dominated that market in the past. As Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern says, the Evoque is a “bold evolution of Range Rover design”.

Underneath that handsome face lurks some clever tech. You get the option of front-wheel drive for the first time in a Range Rover, together with adaptive dampers and something called a ‘Terrain Response’ system on the four-wheel drive. We like the sound of that…

The base engine is a 148bhp, 2.2-litre diesel which returns 58mpg and creeps under 130g/km of CO2 (in the front-wheel-drive model), while a 2.0-litre, 238bhp petrol engine offers up a 0-60mph time of 7.1 seconds.

You get loads of techie bits like park assist, blind spot monitoring, surround camera system with digital cameras, TV, DVD and keyless entry. We’re still waiting to see if it’s got something called ‘electric windows’, so check back for updates…

Land Rover is offering the Evoque in three design themes: Pure (brushed aluminium trim, soft-touch materials), Prestige and Dynamic. Prestige gives you ‘sparkly metallic details’, while Dynamic gets you 20-inch rims and Big Respec’.

This little crossover SUV will cost from £30,000 when it goes on sale in summer 2011. And it’s Made In Britain. It’s split the Top Gear office fairly cleanly down the middle, so we want to know what you think. A hideous betrayal aimed at milquetoasts from the chattering classes, or the latest stroke of genius from Gaydon?


Lotus Elite: First pics

Posted: September 20, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Lotus’s DB9 rival revealed

Under new boss Dany Bahar, Lotus has big plans. Many big, fast, expensive plans.

And this is perhaps the biggest, fastest and most expensive of the bunch. This is the Lotus Elite (read it carefully), a front-engined, 2+2 super-coupe to rival the Aston Martin DB9 and due to launch in 2014.

The Elite will be officially revealed at the Paris Motor Show next week, and spearheads a slew of new Lotuses aiming to take on Porsche, Ferrari and Aston in the next few years.

That’s a big aim, but the Elite has some big credentials. Under that long bonnet, though behind the front axle, is a Toyota-sourced 5.0-litre V8 – the engine found in the mighty, and mighty sounding, Lexus IS-F – developing 610bhp at 8,000rpm. And, unlike the IS-F version, which is awesome enough, this one is supercharged. Lotus says it’ll haul to 62mph in around 3.5 seconds which, if true, puts the Elite in some pretty serious company.

The shape is by a team operating under Lotus’s new head of design, Donato Coco. He began at Lotus in January 2010, and it’s no coincidence that he came from Ferrari, where he was head of Concept Design & Development. No coincidence for two reasons. One, the boss of Lotus, Dany Bahar, also came from Ferrari. Two, Coco was at Ferrari when the California was taking shape.

There’s tech here, too. The full 610bhp Elite will, says Lotus, use an optional full complement of hybrid gubbins – integrated electric motors and an F1-style ‘KERS’ regeneration system. In hybrid guise, it weighs 1,650kg, about 100kg less than the DB9 but portly by Lotus’s own featherweight standards.

The Lotus is 10cm shorter than the Aston, but the most significant gap between the two cars comes in the form of the CO2 emissions: the Elite is predicted to cough out just 215g/km of CO2, a massive 40 per cent less than the DB9.

One more ambitious figure for you: £115,000. That’s the price that Lotus has tagged on the Elite, and a clear indication of its intention to head upmarket, although note that’s the base price for the non-hybrid version, which is predicted to put out a slightly meeker 550bhp (to be fair, that’s still officially “a lot”). The Norfolk firm will have to raise its game hugely in terms of interior fit, finish and cabin gizmos to justify that price tag and tempt buyers away from their Porsches, but Bahar sounds confident.

“Make no mistake, there’s a definite market requirement for the Elite,” says the ex-Ferrari man.

“It’s the ultimate sports car feel with comfort and space. There will always be those who believe Lotus should stick to small sports cars, but we didn’t take the decision to design something like the Elite lightly. This sector has been very successful for us in the past, and now the Elite raises the benchmark higher still.”

What do you reckon? Can Lotus really take on the big boys at their own game? Or should it stick to lightweight, no-frills track monsters?

Somewhere in Coventry I saw Aston Martin V12 Vantage Le Mans 2010 from Aston Matrin Racing group. I had to share it with you.

Power Lap Times from 09|2010

Veyron SuperSport 1.16.8

Gumpert Apollo 1.17.1
Ascari A10 1.17.3
Koenigsegg CCX (with Top Gear spoiler) 1.17.6
Noble M600 1.17.7
Pagani Zonda F Roadster 1.17.7
Caterham R500 1.17.9
Bugatti Veyron 1.18.3
Pagani Zonda F 1.18.4
Maserati MC12 1.18.9
Ferrari Enzo 1.19.0
Lamborghini LP670 SV 1.19.0
Ariel Atom 1.19.5
Lamborghini LP560 1.19.5
Ferrari Scuderia 1.19.7
Nissan GT-R 1.19.7
Lamborghini LP640 1.19.8
Porsche Carerra GT 1.19.8
Koenigsegg CCX 1.20.4
Corvette ZR1 1.20.4
Ascari KZ1 1.20.7

Top Gear

Posted: August 28, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Top Gear Top Gear is an Emmy award winning BBC television series about motor vehicles, primarily cars. It began in 1977 as a conventional motoring magazine show. Over time, and especially since a relaunch in 2002, it has developed a quirky, humorous style. The show is currently presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, and also features a test driver known as The Stig. The programme is estimated to have 350 million viewers worldwide. First run episodes are broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC Two, and since Series 14, also on BBC HD. Top Gear is also shown on Dave, BBC America, BBC Canada, RTÉ Two in Ireland, Canvas in Belgium, Nine Network and GO! in Australia (previously on SBS One who showed the programme until the end of the 13th series aired in 2009), Prime TV in New Zealand, and a number of other television channels around the world. The popularity of the show has led to the creation of two international versions, with local production teams and presenters for Australia and Russia. Episodes of the Australian version premièred on 29 September 2008 and NBC was holding the American version for broadcast in February or March 2009, as a possible mid-season replacement, but later dropped it from their schedule before production resumed. The show has received acclaim for its visual style and presentation, as well as considerable criticism for its content and comments made by presenters. Columnist A. A. Gill described the show as “a triumph of the craft of programme making, of the minute, obsessive, musical masonry of editing, the french polishing of colourwashing and grading”.