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3:06 AM

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Suzuki unveils 2010 Kizashi sedan

Rafay Ansar

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It's official. Suzuki confirmed its next midsize sedan will be called the Kizashi, and it is set to launch in the United States at the end of this year.

The company pulled the cover off the production version of the Kizashi on Thursday. It will have a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine. Horsepower and torque ratings were not revealed. A hybrid version is also planned.

It's based on the Kizashi 3 concept shown at the 2008 New York auto show. The line of the car drops in the front, and the circular headlights standout a bit and have projector beams offering 30 percent better illumination than halogens, Suzuki says.

This sedan also offers all-wheel drive, which can be deactivated with a switch. It measures 183.1 inches in length, 71.7 inches in width, 58.3 inches in height and has a 106.3-inch wheelbase. Look for the car to get better than 30 mpg on the highway.

The sedan will have a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable transmission with paddle shifters.

The company says the Kizashi will have sporty yet comfortable handling, in an effort to attract enthusiast buyers. There will be 16-, 17- and 18-inch wheels offered. Key competitors include the Mazda 6, Nissan Altima and Volkswagen Passat.

We haven't driven it yet, but we did sit inside the Kizashi. The interior was decent with quality plastic materials filling the dash and center console. The cylindrical gauges give off a sporty vibe and are backlit by LED lighting. The three-spoke wheel is available leather-wrapped.

Suzuki wants to lure younger buyers, and the Kizashi offers plenty of technology, including an optional 425-watt audio system, Bluetooth technology and MP3 connectivity.

Pricing will be released closer to launch, and it's expected to be competitive in the midsize segment.

7:39 AM

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Ford Mustang to enter NASCAR

Rafay Ansar

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The Ford Mustang has never set a set of slicks onto the high banked ovals of the NASCAR circuit, that is until now. Brian Wolfe, the director of Ford North American Motorsport division has announced that things area bout to change. For the 2010 season, Ford will debut a NASCAR spec Mustang as part of the sereis’s “new car” limited rollout for the 2010 Nationwide Series.

“We had been talking with NASCAR for some time about Mustang as part of its vision for a muscle car rollout for the Nationwide Series. We both saw it as a way of differentiating the series from Sprint Cup,” said Wolfe. “We loved the idea, so we jumped on the chance to extend Mustang’s racing legacy to a new series reaching a huge and loyal audience. Mustang has dominated other forms of racing, including NHRA drag racing, Grand-Am Cup road racing, and Formula D drifting, and now it’s coming to NASCAR Nationwide.

Even if it will only be a Mustang body shell and not a complete race car it is still a step in the right direction for both companies. Ford hopes to take advantage of the old win on Sunday, sell on Monday strategy; while NASCAR needs to step away from the current trend of every car looking exactly the same, aside from the decal package. However it would be nice to see some of that racing technology make its way into a production version, just like the famed Ford 429 Cobra Jet V8 from the 1960s.

1:24 AM

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Carlsson Mercedes GL RS

Rafay Ansar


The German tuning firm Carlsson has just launched a new package for the Mercedes Benz GL SUV called the RS-Kit. The customization program features a lowered hanging front lip spoiler, a larger bolder grill featuring a lot more chrome than came from the factory, a pair of power bulges placed on top of the hood, enough driving lights to illuminate a soccer game, more mesh grills in the side skirts and of course a set of signature Carlsson rolling stock wrapped in high performance rubber.

Never ones to leave well enough alone, the tuners at Carlsson have upgraded the GL500’s output thanks to an optimized engine electronics unit and a high flowing sport air filter. The engine now produces a total of 435 HP and 442 lb-ft of torque. The diesel powered GL 420 CDI has also been tuned to produce a maximum output of 354 HP and the GL 320 CDI has been raised to 269 HP.

If you are looking to add a significant amount of additional muscle, both aesthetically and performance wise, perhaps a Mercedes Benz GL dressed up with Carlsson’s RS-Kit is just what you are looking for to set you apart from ordinary GL drivers.

1:40 AM

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Project Kahn SLR Carbon based on the McLaren super car

Rafay Ansar


The aftermarket manufacturer Project Kahn is no stranger to getting the most out of big money exotic vehicles. More recently the tuning firm has revealed a new customization kit for the most exclusive Daimler super car built to date, the Mercedes McLaren SLR. This modified Mercedes is called the SLR Carbon, and as the name suggests features a healthy diet of the lightweight wavy black stuff. Even the F1-X Carbon wheels, built for performance, are made up of a carbon fiber rim and a lightweight magnesium face. The result is an extremely attractive rim that tips the scales at around 25 pounds, allowing for the ultimate reduction of unsprung mass.

The English based design studio is also offering a few accessories to go along with your customized exotic import. Like a lightweight golfing umbrella complete with carbon fiber shaft and Kahn keyring, as well as a glossy piano black steering wheel or one finished in carbon fiber. If you want a little more go to accompany all that show, the tuners can squeeze an extra 60 HP out of the supercharged V8.

5:56 AM

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Ford creates one-off, aviation-inspired ‘Dearborn Doll' Mustang

Rafay Ansar

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Some versions of the 2010 Mustang feel fast enough to get airborne. And with that in mind, Ford tricked out one of its pony cars with an over-the-top aviation theme and will auction it for charity July 30.

It's called the AV-X10, or “Dearborn Doll,” and is based on a Mustang GT. There is just one of them, and it was created by a team of Ford's top engineers and designers.

Power comes from a supercharged 550-hp, 4.6-liter V8. Ford Racing performance modifications include a handling pack, tuned exhaust and exhaust tips, and the ride height is lowered one inch.

The aviation theme is evident at first glance. The front end and rear wing are painted yellow like the nose and tail of a plane, and the body is silver--similar to a fuselage. The 19-inch Shelby GT500 wheels are silver with yellow propeller tips.

It's nicknamed the “Dearborn Doll” in reference to World War II-era fighter planes, and the car gets white accents to play up the connection to that epic period of aviation. The all-glass roof has an Air Force graphic.

Inside are leather and khaki materials, furthering the cockpit feel. The Mustang will be autographed by a number of car and aviation fans. Ford said the list could include Carroll Shelby, Jack Roush, Harrison Ford and Edsel Ford II.

The car will be sold to benefit the Young Eagles program, a group that inspires aviation among youth. It's part of the Experimental Aircraft Association, which is having its AirVenture Oshkosh event July 27- Aug. 2 in Oshkosh, Wis. It's expected to draw more than 500,000 aviation enthusiasts and 2,500 aircraft.

Another aviation-inspired Mustang, the “AV8R,” raised a record $500,000 in 2008 at the event for the Young Eagles.

“Although it will be hard to top the AV8R, the Ford team is committed to delivering another extraordinary vehicle of interest for all enthusiasts and collectors for EAA's Gathering of Eagles,” Ford board member Edsel Ford II said in a statement.

6:03 AM

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SLS goes electric

Rafay Ansar

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Mercedes has confirmed that it will build an all-electric version of its gullwing SLS supercar.

This is exciting news. We've already had a quick drive in a petrol-powered prototype SLS, and it's set to be one of the cars of the year.

So the SLS could be the first true all-electric hypercar: it'll be powered by four electric motors - one for each wheel - putting out a combined 526bhp and a whopping 649lb ft of torque. The V8 petrol SLS develops 563bhp and 479bhp.

Which means the electric SLS will be quick. Merc says it'll hit 60mph in four seconds flat, which slaps it straight into genuine hypercar territory. Because it's four-wheel drive, it should be grippy, too - Mercedes engineers say that, despite the added weight of the batteries, they have managed to keep the centre of gravity as low as the petrol SLS.

We don't know how far it'll go on a single charge, but it has a slightly lower battery capacity than the smaller, less powerful Tesla Roadster, so we reckon you'll struggle to top 200 miles.

Speaking of Tesla, Daimler recently invested $50 million for a 10 per cent stake in the Californian company, enabling it to utilise Tesla's battery technology. Mercedes hasn't confirmed when we'll see the electric SLS, though the Tesla deal should enable the German firm to roll out the technology within the next year.

1:31 AM

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2010 Chevrolet Camaro gets Transformers special edition

Rafay Ansar

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Sports-car fans who fantasize about being an Autobot can now make their dual fantasy a reality--with the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro Transformers special edition.

Essentially, the car turns the character Bumblebee from the movie into a road-going option package for an extra $995. Just as on the silver screen, the Camaro is yellow with a black rally stripes on the hood, and is available on the LT or SS models, with the RS appearance package an additional option.

The Transformers edition also includes Autobot shields (Autobots are the good guys in the movie) on the side panels and the center caps of the wheels, as well as an embroidered shield on the center console. The Transformers logo shows up on the sill plates and hood stripes.

General Motors announced the package on Wednesday in San Diego. It's available for order now through dealerships.

The Camaro appeared in the 2007 Transformers movie, and returned for an encore performance in this summer's flick. The Bumblebee Camaro also was shown at the Chicago auto show.

“When the first Transformers movie was setting box-office records, we had countless customers asking to purchase the ‘Bumblebee' Camaro,” Karen Rafferty, Chevrolet product marketing director, said in a statement.

The basic Camaro specs remain. The base car comes with a 304-hp V6 and a manual or automatic transmission. The 400-hp V8 is paired with an automatic, and the top-shelf 426-hp version comes with a manual or automatic.

5:57 AM

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Porsche CEO likely to bow to pressure to leave, report says

Rafay Ansar

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Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking is likely to bow to pressure from the Porsche family to step down, a German newspaper report said on Wednesday.

Business daily Handelsblatt said that the two parties had already reached agreement that the chief executive should go and that a formal decision could come by Thursday when the company's supervisory board meets.

The newspaper also said, however, that Wiedeking would fight to keep his job.

A spokesman for Porsche said: "Wiedeking will present his business concept for Porsche to the supervisory board on Thursday."

Porsche's supervisory board last week denied German media reports that the company's production boss, Michael Macht, will replace Wiedeking as CEO of the sports car maker.

Wiedeking has come under fire for allowing Porsche's holding company to amass debts of more than $12.7 billion (9 billion euros) during a failed attempt to take over VW.

He also is opposing a plan by Ferdinand Piech, VW's chairman and a part owner of Porsche, for VW to take control of Porsche to reduce Porsche's debt burden.

1:46 AM

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Redesigned Chevrolet Equinox is competitive with the best in class

Rafay Ansar


The result: The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox.

Say again? The Equinox?

That's right. General Motors expects its all-new, 2010 Equinox to put a serious dent in the draw of the traditional best-selling compact crossovers. That's a tall order. Chevy has moved just 21,000 of the little utes so far this year, compared with Toyota selling 52,000 RAV4s and Honda selling 65,000 CR-Vs. But now that we've driven the new Equinox, we'd say it has a shot.

The task: Take on two of the most popular small SUVs, the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V.

For Starters Its Good And Unique Too Chevrolet always comes in New Model And Be Hit.The 3.0-liter V6 develops 264 hp and 222 lb-ft, will get 25 mpg on the highway and reaches 60 mph in 7.8 seconds. Both engines come with six-speed automatic transmissions; the four-cylinder has an eco mode, which adjusts shift points for better mileage.

Just Looks At The Specs Of 2010 Chevrolet Equinox.

2010 Chevrolet Equinox


BASE PRICE: $23,185

POWERTRAIN: 2.4-liter, 182 hp, 172 lb-ft I4; FWD, six-speed automatic

CURB WEIGHT: 3,770 lb

0-60 MPH: 8.7 sec (mfr)


1:37 AM

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Lutz deflates talk of new Chevy Caprice

Rafay Ansar


Well, that was fast.

Just four days after Bob Lutz, General Motors' new marketing honcho, raised the possibility of the Pontiac G8 living on as a new Chevrolet Caprice, he shot it down.

"The G8 will not be a Caprice after all," Lutz wrote on GM's Fastlane blog on July 16. "I'd mentioned it, and said we were studying it, giving it a serious look, because a car like the G8 was just too good to waste.

"That's all still true. But I have to say that, with my new 'marketing' hat on, upon further review and careful study, we simply cannot make a business case for such a program. Not in today's market, in this economy, and with fuel regulations what they are and will be."

There had been talk that GM wanted to keep a version of the rear-drive G8--which is built by GM's Holden subsidiary in Australia--in the U.S. market to make a pitch at police agencies.

Lutz the car guy says he's not happy that the G8 is going away. But Lutz the marketing guy says it doesn't make sense.

"With budgets being what they are for the time being, the resources must be allocated elsewhere," he said.

The move is not a sign that GM will back away from rear-drive performance vehicles, Lutz said. "We have a tremendous RWD team in Australia that gave us the beloved G8, a team that we will tap into at some point again in the future for its expertise and sheet metal."

5:50 AM

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2010 Jaguar XJ - image gallery from London presentation

Rafay Ansar

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Jaguar has unveiled a new image gallery from the XJ’s presentation in London, where the host of the show was Jay Leno. And with Claudia Schiffer next to him, the car look even better.

The 2010 XJ is the first Jaguar model built on Jaguar’s aerospace-inspired aluminum body technology. It will be available with a choice of new ultra-efficient Gen III petrol and diesel engines: 3.0-liter V6 diesel, 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 and 5.0-liter supercharged V8.

6:28 AM

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BMW S.X. Concept

Rafay Ansar

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Remember the Lamborghini Insecta Concept that was designed by Iulian Bumbu, a 28 year-old Romanian designer that received a Masters in Car Design from the Scuola Politecnica di Design Milano? Well here is the up and coming artists latest creation. If the German automaker hasn’t already gotten a hold of these sketches and made plans for a future concept car then they will be very sorry when another manufacturer picks up Mr. Bumbu to add some fresh styling to their lineup of vehicles.

The S.X. concept is Iulian’s personal vision as to what the future luxury sports coupe will look like. The concept features a minimalist design that appears to focus more on cutting through the air with efficiency than finding a place to position decorative ornaments around the car. The body is mainly made up of a pair of bold arches over the front wheels, a pair of broad shoulders that will most definitely be visible in the rear view mirrors and a windshield that is so slanted back that it almost continues the slope of the hood into the roofline.

The S.X. fits into BMW’s range just above the full sized sports coupe, the 6-Series. The S.X. is planned to have a longer wheelbase than the 6, but will be slightly shorter in overall length than the premium luxury coupe. The S.X. concept features the same styling language as the current range of BMWs, but adds a high mounted brake light which is almost incorporated into the edges of the rear window and just below them rest a pair of vertical tailpipes while up front there are a pair of lateral vents that let hot air escape from just behind the front wheels. If this concept ever does make its way into production, we expect for BMW to have quite a success on their hands.

7:02 AM

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Peugeot RCZ (2011)

Rafay Ansar


n September 2007, at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Peugeot unveiled a concept car which left no observer unmoved: the Peugeot 308 RC Z Concept. The desire to turn it into a commercial reality soon became overwhelming. However, to achieve the transformation from dream to reality required real determination, daring, and a lot of inventiveness.

The stylists and engineers worked together to ensure that the whole vehicle was in keeping with the expectations created by the exterior styling.

If the first wish was to keep the purity of the original styling, in spite of the challenges imposed by its production and commercialisation, the stakes went even further.

In fact, some very ambitious objectives were set in terms of driving dynamics and build quality in order to give the car its own, extremely strong identity.

The objective behind this compact 2+2 Coupé is for it to become an exclusive vehicle, full of emotion, aimed at enthusiasts who are particularly discerning with regards to driving enjoyment.

Its name, RCZ, symbolises this special and unique position within the Peugeot range, as it is the first car which does not use the usual zero or double zero numbering system.

The Peugeot RCZ, therefore, acts as an illustration of all of Peugeot's key values; values which move with the times but are still pure and always in keeping with today.

Another challenge faced by the project team was to complete the development of this new vehicle in a particularly short period of time. This was achieved as, just two years after the concept car was first shown, the Peugeot RCZ will be revealed for the first time to the public, in its final form at the 63rd Frankfurt Motor Show.

A real challenge in the current economic climate, the Peugeot RCZ will go on sale in Spring 2010.

5:38 AM

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Nismo adds fun to the Nissan 370Z

Rafay Ansar

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Badges, we don't need to see no badges to separate Nissan's Nismo 370Z from its cult-car predecessor or a stock 370Z. Just toss it into turn two at Willow Springs International Raceway, and the difference--along with the tail--will quickly come forward.

During our walk-around tour of the 2009 Nissan Nismo 370Z, we spotted plenty of visible evidence, besides all the badges, to erase any notion of it being merely a badge-engineered special 370Z.

Clues also reveal it to be a more seriously track-oriented machine than the previous limited-edition (1,500 units from 2007 to 2008) Nismo 350Z. Most obvious is that rather than simply resculpting the front-end styling to achieve more downforce and enhance airflow, Nissan North America's Special-ty Vehicles Group, with conversion partner Autech Japan, grafted on a new nose that slopes down lower and about six inches farther. It contributes to an overall length of 174.3 inches, nearly seven inches longer than a 370Z (the wheelbase remains at 100.4 inches).

The rear diffuser may appear less aggressive than that of the Nismo 350Z, but it is more effective when combined with the new front end, side skirts and revised dual-plane rear wing to manage airflow underneath the car. Downforce increases significantly compared with both the 370Z and the Nismo 350Z, while maintaining the stock 370Z Cd of 0.30.

Under the hood of the new nose resides a 3.7-liter VQ-series V6, uprated to 350 hp at 7,400 rpm from 332 hp at 7,000 rpm. Torque also gets a bump from 270 lb-ft to 276 lb-ft at 5,200 rpm.

The increased body rigidity of the stock 370Z means that additional bracing, à la Nismo 350Z, was not needed beyond stiffening the strut-tower bar. A front and rear body damper was added to manage vibrations for improved handling and stability.

Suspension changes involve increased spring rates (15 percent front, 10 percent rear) and front/rear stabilizer rates (15 percent/50 percent). Shocks are 40 percent stiffer in front and 140 percent stiffer in the rear.

Wider Nismo five-spoke, forged-alloy, 19-inch wheels (9.5 inches front, 10.5 rear) wear Yokohama Advan Sport rubber (245/40 and 285/35, respectively). Nismo Sport Brakes (14.0-inch front with four-piston aluminum calipers and 13.8-inch rear with two-piston aluminum calipers) combine with a variable-ratio brake pedal for improved feel and confidence.

A close-ratio six-speed manual with synchronized downshift rev matching is the sole transmission.

Snugging into the sport seat, we put all these goodies to work on the nine-turn, 2.5-mile Willow Springs circuit. Having warmed up with a 370Z and a Nismo 350Z, we noted how much of the old Nismo evolved into the new Z's handling.

In the Nismo 370Z, we expected more of the same. What we got felt more like a drift car than a race car as we accelerated around the long, sweeping second turn and the tail came alive. It's intimidating until you realize how easily this rotation can be played with steering and throttle action. Then it's great fun. Add in the engine's fondness for the redline, and things can get very busy, very quickly.

You can see for yourself when the Nismo 370Z arrives this month for less than $40,000.


2009 Nissan Nismo 370Z


BASE PRICE: $39,850

DRIVETRAIN: 3.7-liter, 350-hp, 276-lb-ft V6; RWD, six-speed manual

CURB WEIGHT: 3,300 lb

0-60 MPH: 5.2 sec (est)


1:40 AM

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Chrysler rips ‘for sale’ sign off Dodge Viper business

Rafay Ansar

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The Dodge Viper has received a reprieve.

After nearly a year of trying to sell the iconic sports car business, Chrysler said Friday it will continue to build the Viper SRT10.

Production was expected to end at the Connor Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit, known as the “Snake Pit,” in December.

But the new Chrysler has reversed its decision after a review of the company’s products, and top executives found the Viper to be a viable business going forward. The current lineup, including the ACR and competition versions, will continue.

“It’s off the table,” a spokesman said.

Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in June, and the new company is led by Fiat. The Viper plant was the first to re-start production.

More than 25,000 Vipers have been built since the car launched in 1992. The current SRT10 is powered by an 8.4-liter, 600-hp V10 that can hit 60 mph in less than four seconds. The fourth-generation model hit the market in 2008.

A pet project of then-Chrysler executive Bob Lutz, the Viper debuted as a concept at the 1989 Detroit auto show.

“The Dodge Viper has successfully captured the hearts and imagination of performance enthusiasts around the globe,” Mike Accavitti, CEO of the Dodge brand said in a statement.

“We’re extremely proud that the ultimate American-built sports car with its world-class performance will live on as the iconic image leader for the Dodge brand."

In June, AutoWeek reported a Michigan businessman made several offers to buy the Viper business, and rumors had been swirling as to other potential suitors.

8:54 AM

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Works continues on new deal with FIA, Formula One teams

The FIA has thrown some light on progress with the new Concorde Agreement, the contract that deals with the commercial arrangements between the governing body, the Formula One group that holds the rights for the next 100 years, and the participants.

The previous such document expired at the end of 2007 and FIA president Max Mosley has since then been resisting efforts by Formula One and the teams to finalize a new contract giving them more influence in the governance of Formula One.

Formula One's majority owner, CVC Capital Partners, is increasingly anxious to get team signatures on a firm contract, and new proposals have been coming from the Formula One Teams Association.

An FIA statement on Thursday continued criticism of the teams.

"The deal that the FIA reached with FOTA in Paris [on June 24] was to extend the 1998 Concorde Agreement with some minor amendments to the governance section. This would have put in place a Formula 1 Commission to deal with future rules with any major question going to the FIA Senate. However, on June 25, instead of the 1998 Agreement with some minor amendments, the FIA received 350 pages of a completely new Concorde Agreement. It being wholly impractical to involve the Senate in such detailed negotiations, the contract was handed over to FIA lawyers, who worked on it tirelessly over the weekend June 27-28 and gave comments during a three-hour conference call on Monday, June 29. Then the 350 pages of June 25 turned out not to be the final FOTA/FOA version and elements of a new version appeared, partly on July 2, partly on July 3. Again, FIA lawyers worked over the weekend on July 4-5, as did FIA president Max Mosley and FIA deputy president for sport Nick Craw. Further comments were then given on a three-and-a-half-hour lawyers' call on Monday, July 6 and again in a conference call yesterday, July 8, following the circulation of further drafts. Further significant progress was made yesterday evening in yet another conference call. At present it seems probable that a final draft of the 2009 Concorde Agreement will be agreed and ready for signature in the coming days."

6:13 AM

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Mercedes touts future safety with research vehicle

Rafay Ansar

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In 1980, when several automakers began to use airbags, there were people who thought that cars couldn't possibly get any safer. Karl-Heinz Baumann, a safety researcher at Mercedes-Benz AG in Stuttgart, was not one of them.

"We said, 'No, it cannot be all,' and we kept doing more research."

The results of that research are presented on the company's most recent Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESV), on display now in the Mercedes Museum in Stuttgart. Baumann led a walkaround for us.

There are 27 innovations presented on the car, ranging from more clever use and placement of airbags to simple reflectors.

The ESV has bright orange reflector strips running down the sides, to show where greater use of that technology could be made. Production versions of the tape would be invisible except when headlights reflected on them.

Infrared cameras mounted within the ESV's headlight clusters scan for potential hazards such as pedestrians and animals. When one is detected, a bright LED light flashes onto the target.

Increased automatic car-to-car communications alert following drivers when another car's emergency flashers or electronic stability program are activated. The system also alerts the driver to approaching emergency vehicles. At a conference last month, the Mercedes ESV was able to communicate with a BMW and a Smart car.

One of the more unusual functions on the ESV was the Braking Bag, an large, rubber-footed, airbag-deployed skid plate that lifts the front of the car off the ground 100 milliseconds before a frontal collision, slowing the car enough to lessen both damage and impact speed. Baumann said deploying the bag has the same effect as adding 7 inches of front structure.

To save weight, the metal side-impact beams in the doors inflate using the same propellant found in airbags, making the beams larger and stiffer. Imminent collisions would be recognized by side-mounted radars.

"It's like a Coke can," said Baumann. "You can crush it when it's empty but not when you fill it with 20 bar [290 psi] of pressure."

However, the system saves less than 5 pounds per car.

Inside the ESV are other protections.

Exactly 200 milliseconds before a side impact, the outboard side bolster of the front seat inflates to push the occupant 2 to 3 inches inward, away from the impact. To avoid front-seat passengers bonking heads in a side collision, another airbag inflates between them to absorb those potential blows. For rear-seaters in side-impact crashes, a central console deploys electrically. This console can also be deployed during normal driving to act as a headrest.

In a frontal collision, tethers inside the front airbags unspool to adjust airbag size based on readings of occupant size, a solution more accurate than today's two-stage airbags.

At all seating positions, inflatable seat-belt airbags double the surface area across which the belt pulls, reducing potential injuries from the seatbelts. A new child seat shown in the ESV consists of side bolsters and a seat bottom but no seat back, increasing the amount of rear legroom for the kids.

Those are just the highlights. No decisions have been announced yet about which of these systems will make production.

You can see the car yourself, including all 27 innovations, at the enormous Mercedes Museum. The car will be on display there through Aug. 16. You also will be able to see a couple of ESVs from 40 years ago, back when we thought cars couldn't get any safer.

8:55 AM

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AMG makes a Mercedes-Benz E-class for the racing family man (or woman)

Rafay Ansar

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Say you need a practical, roomy luxury sedan to use as a family car or for hauling business associates to big lunch meetings. But when no one's in the car with you, or when those present appreciate a nicely sliced apex as much as you do, you would really like something that can rise to the occasion. You have what we call a conundrum.

May we suggest the new E 63 AMG luxury performance sedan, coming to the United States in October.

“It behaves like the calm Dr. Jekyll or the hot-blooded Mr. Hyde,” said Volker Morhinweg, AMG's CEO.

This split personality is made possible by three new features: a mighty 6.2-liter engine, the multiclutch, seven-speed transmission and a three-mode electronically controlled suspension.

The suspension, stiffened up to begin with over the stock E-class, can be cranked up to three different settings: comfort, sport or sport plus. Twisting the console-mounted knob varies the flow of fluid through the shocks that control the three-link front coil springs and multilink, air-spring rear. The ECU uses 11 sensors to determine speed, roll, lateral acceleration and driving style, then adjusts the stiffness of the shocks accordingly with what AMG calls, appropriately, “lightning speed.” Combined with speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering and a 26 percent faster 14:1 steering ratio, and the car could easily come alive in your hands.

We found the comfort setting just right for soaking up road whallops while approaching the car's 155-mph electronically limited terminal velocity on the autobahn, as well as for just driving around town. Topping 100 mph in sport or sport plus was too harsh. For winding Schwabian forest roads, we twisted it all the way around to sport plus and immediately felt the decrease in roll as well as greatly increased feedback through the wheel and the seat.

In power and power delivery, the car is certainly in league with the competition. The E 63 gets AMG's naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8 (the “63” in the name is only a model number, says AMG, it does not refer to displacement, which is 6.2; maybe they thought no one would notice). The engine peaks at 518 hp at 6,800 rpm and doesn't redline until 7,200 rpm, a 900-rev increase over the E 55. But being naturally aspirated, it is far from peaky. To quote AMG, it has “powerful power delivery.” It pulls as strongly as any naturally aspirated V8 we've ever pulled on, and its exhaust note can only be described as “sonorous.”

While AMG lists 0-62 mph at 4.4 seconds, two-tenths quicker than the supercharged E 55 it replaces, it is during autobahn passing that the E 63 feels strongest, launching with a roar as it pulls into the passing lane and slowing down only when we ran out of room or will.

It even gets 12 percent better fuel economy than the engine it replaces, thanks to a number of small improvements throughout.

One of those improvements is the fact that it's attached to a new seven-speed automatic. The transmission has been dubbed a “Speedshift MCT 7,” with the MCT standing for multiclutch technology. It has a wet startup clutch in place of a torque converter, making shifts nearly instantaneous, as quick as any smooth operator could do it. You have a choice of four shift maps, selectable by twisting another console-mounted knob.

The first knob position is “C,” but in this case, it doesn't stand for comfort. The “Controlled Efficiency” mode upshifts quickly and at lower revs for better fuel economy. “S” increases gear-shift speeds by 25 percent while “S+” increases those by another 25 percent. At wide-open throttle in S+, shifts take just a tenth of a second. The final mode is “M,” for manual. You can engage manual either with the knob or by pulling on the wheel-mounted paddles.

Downshifts are really fun in the top three modes as the ECU blips the throttle through the gears. In M mode, the transmission stays in the gear you select.

These all promised an aggressive, sporty drive. Unfortunately, we never had a road worthy of the E 63's promise and we never got the car onto a racetrack.

“Few if any owners will ever take this onto a racetrack,” said a Mercedes representative.
A view from the back of the new E 63 AMG.
A picture of A view from the back of the new E 63 AMG.

A view from the back of the new E 63 AMG.

That's a pity, since this is just crying out for one of those Mustang-versus-Camaro, jet-versus-Vette comparos with the M5, the RS6, the G8 or something. As it was, we never even played with the three-stage ESP that, in theory, allows you to slide it all over the place in full off mode as long as you don't touch the brakes.

Ah, the brakes. The standard brakes are pretty impressive by themselves, with six-piston front, four-piston rear vented 360-millimeter discs hauling the 4,058-pound autobahn bruiser down to the ground. But there is a ceramic-brake option that adds 42 millimeters to the front rotor should anyone actually take this beast to the track and wail on it. However, as with other ceramic setups we've tried, the low-speed, squeaking, cold-faded shortcomings tend to outweigh the 40 percent weight savings and Le Mans-capable cooling and durability benefits of these things, and we wish they'd just fade off all manufacturers' options lists. At what we estimate will be a $10,000 option price, you'd really need to race every weekend to make them worth it.

But even if you didn't race every weekend, you could drive around as if you were racing, which often is just as fun.

No price was released, but expect the car to sell for a little more than the 80-something price of the current model.

2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG

ON SALE: October

BASE PRICE: High $80,000s, low $90,000s (AW est)

DRIVETRAIN: 518-hp, 465-lb-ft, 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8; RWD, seven-speed automatic

CURB WEIGHT: 4,058 lb

0-60 MPH: 4.4 seconds (mfr)

FUEL ECONOMY: 16 mpg (mfr est)

6:40 AM

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BMW X1 confirmed for United States

Rafay Ansar

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One of the worst-kept secrets in the car world has been confirmed: The BMW X1 is coming to the United States in 2011.

It likely will come with rear-wheel and all-wheel drive and a variety of gasoline and diesel engines. BMW said it would announce the powertrain specifics closer to the launch as it factors uneven fuel prices in the United States.

The X1--as the name implies--is an entry-level utility vehicle to round out BMW's lineup, and could help the company against stiffer federal mileage rules to take effect for 2016.

The small ute is arriving in Europe this fall with four engine options, a gasoline and three diesels. A diesel-powered version got the equivalent of 45.2 mpg across the pond and can hit a top speed of 124 mph.

BMW is taking its time bringing the X1 to the States because it wants to launch the second-generation X3 here first, which is going further upmarket. The X1 is a five-seater and a sister vehicle of the Mini Crossman.

2:10 AM

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Hot Girls Car Broken

Rafay Ansar


A sexy babe has broken down in her Jeep! You drive past and thank god for your luck and take these pictures before any help is offered to her...nice.

1:54 AM

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The Carz-Arena: Top 10 Movie Cars

Rafay Ansar

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10. Eleanor from Gone in 60 Seconds

Our take: The 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 was Memphis Raines’s unicorn and the final piece needed to complete Raymond Calitri's car order. After eluding the police in the thrilling final car chase through the streets of L.A., Raines misses the delivery deadline and Eleanor is sadly crushed.

9. Harry’s Dog Grooming Van from Dumb and Dumber

Our take: A highlight of this 1994 cult classic is watching Harry’s grooming van soaring over a hill mid-air.

Harry: So you got fired again, eh?

Lloyd: Oh, yeah. They always freak out when you leave the scene of an accident, you know?

Harry: Yeah, well, I lost my job too.

Lloyd: Man, you are one pathetic loser. No offense.

Harry: No, none taken. You know what really chaps my ass though? I spent my life savings turning my van into a dog. The alarm alone cost me $200.

Lloyd: Hey, chicks love it. It’s the shaggin’ wagon.

8. Lightning McQueen from Cars

Our take: This might not even qualify as a car, since McQueen is sort of a person, too. But then, being two-dimensional, he might not be either. Nonetheless, McQueen has some great lines and in the end, he gets the girl.

7. The Deathmobile from Animal House

Our take: D-Day: Hey, quit your blubberin’. When I get through with this baby, you won’t even recognize it.

Otter: Flounder, you can’t spend your whole life worrying about your mistakes! You f***ed up--you trusted us! Hey, make the best of it! Maybe we can help.

Flounder: [crying] That’s easy for you to say! What am I going to tell Fred?

Otter: I’ll tell you what. We’ll tell Fred you were doing a great job taking care of his car, but you parked it out back last night and in the morning, it was gone. We report it to the police, your brother’s insurance company buys him a new car. D-Day takes care of the wreck.

Flounder: Will that work?

Of course it works, and the boys exit Faber College in fine style.

6. The Minis from The Italian Job

Our take: There were two Italian Job movies, and we couldn’t decide which to pick, so we give this spot to both. The first film, starring Michael Caine, was set in Turin and features original Minis driving through sewers, drainage culverts, rivers, narrow streets and down concrete staircases to escape. The second was set in Los Angeles and is sort of the same. We don’t know whether we like the cars, the driving or the stunts better, but it doesn’t matter--1969 or 2003, new Minis or originals, they are fun movies.

5. The Bluesmobile from The Blues Brothers

Our take: Why the Bluesmobile? Because “It’s got a cop motor . . . cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks. It’s a model made before catalytic converters, so it’ll run good on regular gas. What do you say, is it the new Bluesmobile or what?”

Damn straight. We like The Blues Brothers not so much for the plot--which had something to do with getting five grand to the Penguin before the orphans’ school was foreclosed--but because of dialogue we all wished we could use every day.

Elwood: It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses.

Jake: Hit it.

4. Milner’s Coupe from American Graffiti

Our take: This car represents hot-rodding both to those who know the hobby well and to those who are only barely aware it exists. The five-window '32 Ford is a rolling American icon, and its movie driver-owner, small-town hero John Milner, is the good guy played the way we all imagine a good guy should be played. Every small town in America had one car that everybody knew was the fastest. No car in any movie did a better job playing that role than the yellow Deuce.

3. Bullitt’s Mustang from Bullitt

Our Take: The bad guys ate it in the end. And Bullitt got Jacqueline Bisset. What a cool guy. What a cool car.

2. The Porsche 917 from Le Mans

Our take: There is almost no dialogue in this movie, and there doesn’t have to be. In a man movie such as this, dialogue just gets in the way. When the pesky reporter bugs Steve McQueen with a question about “the accident,” McQueen doesn’t even speak to him, just gives him the stink eye, which says volumes. Everything we love about Porsche, racing and McQueen all rolled into a single movie and a single car. We should all learn to speak so little.

1. The DeLorean DMC-12 from Back to the Future

Our take: Marty McFly: Wait a minute, Doc. Ah . . . Are you telling me that you built a time machine . . . out of a DeLorean?

Dr. Emmett Brown: The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style? Besides, the stainless-steel construction aids in the flux dispersal--look out!

This car clearly is the most iconic car used in movie history. The DMC-12 was chosen as Marty McFly’s time machine in the trilogy and later was upgraded with a Porsche engine in movies two and three. Producers claim that the DeLorean was chosen for a gag when Marty arrives in 1955 and his car is mistaken for an alien spacecraft.

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