Friday, 28 February 2014

Audi Reluminates the Sport Quattro Concept with Laserbeam Headlights

The name Audi is synonymous with Quattro. It's the name that Audi gave to its all-wheel drive system and the name of its performance tuning division. But it all started with the 1980s rally and road car. One of the first production coupes with a four-wheel traction, the Audi Quattro dominated the international rally scene and earned its place as one of the most indelible vehicles in Germany's considerable automotive history. And Audi hasn't been able to shake the image since – not that it would want to.

 Audi came to the 2010 Paris Auto Salon with the Quattro Concept that sought to revive the spirit of the original with a reinterpreted boxy shape and a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine. Three years later, the German automaker resurfaced with the Sport Quattro Concept at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, bringing the form one step closer to production and rekindling the public's fascination with the Ur-Quattro.

And early in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, it brought the concept back once again with the Sport Quattro Laserlight.

Essentially the same show car that appeared in Frankfurt last year, the Sport Quattro concept had its carbon-fiber bodywork repainted from yellow to red and its headlamps replaced with advanced laser headlights – similar to the ones Audi uses on its Le Mans Prototype racecars – surrounded by a matrix of LEDs. The laser diodes are both more compact – measured in mere microns – and brighter than conventional headlights, illuminating the road ahead for nearly half a kilometer.

"The new show car demonstrates technical 'Vorsprung' on many levels," says Audi board member Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg. "On-board this car we have e-tron technology with 515 kW of power and 2.5 l/100 km (94.09 US mpg) fuel economy; laser headlights that leave all previous systems in the dark with its higher performance as well as new display and operating systems with cutting-edge electronic performance. We are showing the future of Audi here."

The party-trick headlamps are all well and fine, but what we're really looking forward to is seeing the Sport Quattro concept – with laserbeams or without – make the transition from showcar to showroom in the near future.


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Infiniti Gets Serious About Performance With Q50 Eau Rouge Concept

A truly world-class luxury automaker needs a performance brand. Mercedes-Benz has AMG, BMW has its M division, Audi's Quattro GmbH produces an RS line, Lexus has taken to bestowing its performance-oriented models with the letter F, Cadillac uses the letter V, and Jaguar has R and R-S. But Infiniti has been trying to catch up with the rest of the pack for several years now.

The Japanese luxury automaker started the Infiniti Performance Line in 2010, but in the years since it has only produced two models — and they were both based on the Q60 (or the two-door version of the G37, as it was known then). Thankfully, Infiniti finally turned a new page with the unveiling of their Q50 Eau Rouge at the Detroit Auto Show this year.

If you have even a cursory understanding of French, you'll probably be wondering why Infiniti named its new performance sedan concept “red water” — but that's not from where it derives its name. Eau Rouge is the name of the most challenging corners at one of the most legendary racetracks in the world, Spa Francorchamps (home of the Belgian Grand Prix). Evoking the name draws on the auto brand's ever-deepening partnership with Red Bull Racing, the team that's heading into the 2014 season as the reigning Formula One World Champions for the fourth year in a row.

There's more to the Eau Rouge concept, however, than a name. Although the show car may look mostly like the Q50 sedan you can buy at your local Infiniti dealer, the company's engineers have replaced most of the body panels with carbon fiber. In fact, only the front doors and part of the roof were left unchanged.
"From our shared passion for performance with Infiniti Red Bull Racing grew a collective desire to produce an ambitious and powerful Infiniti Q50 design study," said Infiniti design chief Alfonso Albaisa. "The overall design creates a feeling of refined muscularity."
The lightweight composite body panels give it a wider, more aggressive stance, punctuated by very serious-looking aerodynamic elements and 21-inch wheels at each corner — all of which betray a far more potent engine under the hood than the 328hp, 3.7-liter V6 that comes stock.

So what, exactly, is under the hood? Infiniti isn't saying, probably because like most concept cars, the Eau Rouge design doesn't actually have an engine. At least not for any purpose other than moving it on and off the show stage. Rest assured though, because Infiniti is talking seriously about putting it into production. "If we built this car I would expect it to feature over 500 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque," said Infiniti's President Johan de Nysschen. "The engine we are evaluating for the Q50 Eau Rouge is a big personality, V-cylinder engine with forced induction."

 That sounds very promising indeed, but word has it that the Q50 wouldn't be the only one to get such an athletic makeover. The same formula could be applied across the company's line-up, giving the Europeans a run for their money and Infiniti something to bridge the gap between the luxury automobiles it is known for making and the racing cars it sponsors.


Monday, 17 February 2014

Rolls-Royce Empowers the Ghost V-Specification With V12 Engine & Twin Turbochargers

If you were buying a Rolls-Royce a couple of decades ago and inquired about how much power it produced, the official answer you'd receive was “adequate” — or, in the case of a turbocharged model, “perfectly adequate.” But those days are far behind, because while Rolls-Royce continues to produce engines with over six and a half liters of capacity — a size that would put most muscle cars to shame — the amount of power they produce keeps climbing. Especially when it comes to its newer, smaller models.

Of course “smaller” is a relative term, and the comparatively compact Ghost is still larger than most luxury sedans. And to motivate it, parent company BMW developed a 6.6-liter V12 engine with twin turbochargers that produce a gargantuan 563 horsepower. But even that massive output was dwarfed when Rolls-Royce turned the Ghost saloon into the Wraith fastback coupe, in which the same engine has been retuned to produce an even more prodigious 624 horsepower. Those looking for the accommodations offered by the Ghost, combined with performance approaching that of the Wraith, will be pleased by the arrival of the new Ghost V-Specification.

"This limited series celebrates one of Ghost's defining characteristics; the exquisite 6.6 litre Rolls-Royce V12 engine," said Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös. "Since its introduction in 2009, an extraordinary marriage of assured presence and remarkable driving dynamics has endeared Ghost to a new generation of highly discerning businessmen and women, ensuring the car's position as the statement of choice for a growing band of successful entrepreneurs around the world."

Offered on both the standard and long-wheelbase versions of the Ghost sedan, the V-Specification upgrades to 593hp — evenly splitting the difference in output between the base Ghost and the more powerful Wraith. As a result, the V-Specification model can reach 60 miles per hour from a standstill in just 4.7 seconds.

Along with the boost in output, this model is distinguished by 21-inch wheels, a hand-painted coachline, special treadplates, embroidered leather, a unique clock in the dashboard, and five exterior color choices selected specifically for the V-Specification design. Of course, buyers can still choose from the 44,000 colors offered in the Rolls-Royce catalog should the unique shades of black, grey or white prove anything less than adequate.


Saturday, 15 February 2014

Wider 42: The Transformer of the Sea

The Wider 42' yacht may remind some of a transformer, only it's way cooler because it's real (sorry, kids). Developed on an idea by Wider President Tilli Antonelli, and interpreted by yacht designer Fulvio De Simoni, this day cruiser is versatile with a very open design scheme — so open that the sides extend out in case you want to have a dance party on deck.

 Wider calls their 42' yacht a "fusion of strength, cutting-edge technology and design excellence." With twin 480hp Cummins engines giving her a top speed of 44 knots (around 50mph), this vessel is apparently pretty lightweight — thanks to the carbon hull and deck.

All you have to do to expand the sides, which only takes 12 seconds, is to push a button on the panel. Once extended, the deck ends up being nearly 22 feet wide. Not only does this give you and your friends more room to relax, it also gives the boat extra stability, which could come in handy when you're grilling streaks thanks to the outdoor galley. The multi-pad system found at the stern starts as a sun pad but can take on four additional layouts: one for diving equipment, stowing tender, a jet ski, and a fight chair for fishing big game.
There is also a kitchen, living room with sofa bed, bathroom and a bedroom all onboard — pretty impressive for being only 43 feet long, despite what the name implies.


Friday, 14 February 2014

Lamborghini's First SUV Supercar Urus is Prepping For 2017 Release

Having already celebrated its 50th anniversary at full throttle, Lamborghini is now preparing to launch its first SUV supercar in 2017 — the Lamborghini Urus. Though the Urus isn't the brand’s first SUV, as reported by the AutoGuide, it will be the first one since the the company produced the LM002 model  in the 1990s — which was discontinued in 2003 when it was unable to penetrate the European military market for SUV-type vehicles.
 Lamborghini’s goal is to capitalize on the burgeoning luxury SUV market, according to Stephan Winkelmann, the CEO of Lamborghini. Winkelmann has also stated that up to 3,000 Urus models, the prototype of which was initially introduced at the 2012 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, could be delivered yearly.

The news received almost as much publicity as the event's organizers garnered for hiring so many scantily clad female models to pose with the cars.

According to Lamborghini, the premium SUV will feature about 600 horsepower and a super-deluxe interior. The Urus will be available in several markets, including America, China, Germany, the Middle East, Russia, and the United Kingdom. The famed Italian auto brand isn't the only one to add a luxury SUV to its line up, as Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Porsche, and Maserati all plan to do the same soon.
In other Lamborghini news, their newest flagship model of the Huracan (which replaces the Gallandro) begins production in the second half of 2014.