Thursday, October 11, 2012

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

New Ariel Atom 3.5 revealed

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 09:34 AM PDT

A host of chassis and design tweaks has improved the Ariel's road and track abilities

The Ariel Atom 3 has been updated with a chassis derived from the V8 and Mugen editions to improve stiffness and torsional rigidity.

Ariel claim revised engine mounts and new dampers work with the improved chassis to give a more compliant on-road ride and better balance and traction on track.

Ariel calls the updated car the Atom 3.5 and has further sharpened the lightweight sports car with a new digital LCD dashboard display with gear-shift lights, a restyled bonnet, twin projector headlamps and LED turn, stop and tail lights. A data logger can be added to the driver's display to show lap times and G force.

The normally aspirated 2.0-litre Honda iVTEC engine is unchanged in 245bhp tune, while the supercharged version has had an increase to 310bhp – up from 300bhp – afforded by changes to the intake, mapping and fuel system. More mid range power is the result.

The Atom options list is also lengthened and Ariel says each customer can tailor their car for their individual needs.

Simon Saunders, director of Ariel said: "Whether it's a fast road car, the ultimate track-day weapon, a fun weekend car or a combination of all three, we can make a car that is personal and individual to that particular customer".

Mercedes SLS GT3 "45th anniversary" edition

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 08:44 AM PDT

Mercedes has announced it is to build five SLS AMG GT3 special edition models to celebrate 45 years of Mercedes-AMG

Mercedes has announced a special-edition, limited-run version of the SLS AMG GT3 customer race car in order to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Mercedes-AMG.

Limited to "no more than five models", the SLS AMG 45th Anniversary will be hand built in Affalterbach, while its 6.3-litre V8 engine will be installed into the car with the help of record DTM champion and AMG brand ambassador, Bernd Schneider. 

Separating the 45th anniversary model from its GT3 counterparts are a number of exterior and interior modifications, including a unique 'designo mango graphite white' paint finish, AMG alloy wheels (finished in a matt graphite) and a "45 years of driving performance" logo on the car's gullwing doors. A special "1 of 5" logo can also be found on both the seats and centre console. 

With 49 SLS GT3s delivered to customers to date, the gullwing model has already established itself as a hugely successful race car, winning a total of 26 races as a customer car alone.

The 45th Anniversary model is priced at £359,195, an £8000 premium over the standard GT3.

Ford and GM in deal to build nine and 10-speed autos

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 03:49 AM PDT

Rivals join forces to create a new range of efficient 9- and 10-speed autos

A new family of super-efficient, multi-speed automatic transmissions is being jointly developed by Ford and GM. It will be launched in front and rear-wheel-drive cars sold worldwide beyond 2015.

The programme, which began early this year, follows a period of 'first principles' research that suggests a new generation of conventional automatics can match the much-praised efficiency and versatility of the range of dual-clutch gearboxes adopted almost wholesale by the Volkswagen Group marques over the past five years.

Reports from the US suggest Ford will be in charge of developing a 10-speed transmission range for use in trucks, SUVs and performance cars, while GM will be responsible for a nine-speed gearbox suitable for more compact, transverse front-wheel-drive applications.

The gearboxes will be made unique to each maker's separate model range thanks to unique control software.

Insiders working on the project say that the multi-speed designs will bring "new and worthwhile" cuts in CO2 and fuel consumption, while maintaining good performance from downsized engines.

In most modes of use, the multi-speed automatics are expected to be virtually as fuel efficient as — and much smoother than — conventional manual transmissions.

The GM-Ford gearbox project is expected to mean that existing hardware using different technology (such as Ford's dual-clutch Powershift gearbox) will remain current for the next three or four years, but will not be joined by similar gearboxes in the future.

The cooperation is expected to bring considerable design and development savings to both Ford and GM.

In the first half of 2013, Chrysler will begin to roll out a ZF-developed nine-speed automatic across its range. Honda is also understood to be working on its own nine-speed transmission.

Volkswagen Polo R to coincide with WRC effort

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 03:25 AM PDT

The Volkswagen Polo R will pack a 225bhp version of the MK6 Golf GTI engine

The Volkswagen Polo R will be revealed in final production form at the Geneva motor show in March, R&D chief Ulrich Hackenberg has confirmed. The launch of the new 225bhp hot hatch will coincide with VW's entry into next year's World Rally Championship.

Power for the Polo R, which was first previewed as the WRC Street concept at the GTI Treffen festival in Austria last year, will use a tuned version of the Mk6 Golf GTI's 2.0-litre turbo engine.

The new model will be front-wheel drive only but is set to be offered with a mechanical limited-slip differential. A 0-62mph time of about 6.0sec has been mooted, along with a top speed of 150mph.

Hackenberg revealed that a Polo R was not in the supermini's original launch schedule, but VW's rally engineers wanted to produce a road car to help promote the rally car and, having come up with the WRC Street concept, bosses were convinced of the need to closely link the road and rally car programmes.

A Golf R model is also in development, according to Hackenberg, and is due in 2013-2014. He said it would get a "good, powerful 2.0-litre engine", likely to be a 276bhp version of the Mk7 Golf GTI's new 2.0-litre turbo unit.

First drive review: Twisted French Edition Defender 110 CSW

Posted: 01 Oct 2012 02:36 AM PDT

The Twisted Land Rover Defender offers tasteful and considered mods which do the right things to improve the eccentric old Brit 4x4 The Twisted French Edition Land Rover Defender 110 County Station Wagon. Or, to put it another way, a new long-wheelbase Landie, modified by a little-known company in North Yorkshire, to the tune of £80,000.Why spend that much on something intended for battering across fields and up wintery hillsides, and to be used and generally abused? Because the Twisted Defender is a bit of a rarity among tuning-house makeovers: an unpretentious and entirely justified improvement on a creditable but undeniably flawed standard product.What Twisted does, in essence, is address the yawning gap between the appealing theory and not-so-appealing practice of real-world Defender ownership. There are plenty of reasons you might like the idea of owning a proper Land Rover, after all. Whether or not you buy into the gentrified, anti-consumerist, singularly English image that the car has come to project, anyone can see the appeal of a full-sized 4x4 with such abundant practicality. One that's cheap and easy to maintain, super-durable, holds its value better than most, and that really will go pretty much anywhere you point it – come what may.For so many, it's the reality of owning one of these old-school off-roaders that spoils the picture.  Defenders are everything that large modern SUVs aren't: they're not luxurious, nor refined, nor comfortable. And though they can be fun, they're never particularly easy to drive.Through Twisted, you can put a few new-age manners on your old-fashioned Landie. The firm has been offering packaged upgrades for Defenders since 2007, but has recently released several of its own modified 'editions' of the car. They're available from about £45k, and amount to much more than a paint job, an ECU re-flash and some bull-bars.

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