Motor Journalist Is Moving!

•November 25, 2009 • Leave a Comment

After reading MotorJournalist automotive news and reviews, UltimatelyUrban.com have asked me to join them as motoring editor.

All news, car reviews and road tests can now be found at: http://www.ultimatelyurban.com/lifestyle-channel/motoring

Please check it out thanks!

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New Alpha Romeo 169 Designs Could Worry Germany

•November 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment
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Latest alpha 169 shape could upset the market

There comes a time when the barrage of German executive efficiency saturating our auto market becomes a little tedious. It seems there will always be a new German luxury saloon being far better than all its competition, always better built, always out-selling. We live in an age of expectancy. If the gearbox can’t be customised to play Cheryl Cole on a down-change we make a face and if I can’t put my fake Ray Bans in an aviator shaped cubby-hole I’ll bloody well send the impractical  thing back.

Almost every day somebody lurking about in bushes next to the ‘Nurburgring’ sends in a mobile phone picture of the next BMW 5 Series or the new Audi A4. They exclaim with great enthusiasm how the latest model is ’the best looking yet’, how it ‘speaks to a new audience’, and how ‘living on the edge of a race track has its social barriers.’

The truth is, reporting on new German executive and luxury saloons rarely changes from year to year. They get better, there are more devices to hold fresh ground coffee on the dashboard, there are options to produce fresh ground coffee on the dashboard; ultimately they get more refined and people buy them. It is only when something quirky enters the market that being a business manager really becomes exciting.

Take for instance the Jaguar XF. It is so quintessentially British that you could be forgiven for thinking the interior wood came from the Duke of Edinburgh’s public presence and the seats were covered in Stephen Fry. The Jaguar’s 502hp V8 may not be as sophisticated as the BMW or Audi units, but the sound it produces coupled with the way it delivers its torque make the XF far more desirable.

Unfortunately this desirability doesn’t reflect on sales, in the business world where these cars are sold in their thousands, flair and design comes second to MPG and year-on-year performance.

Luckily though, Italy has been hard at work trying to upset the German party too, with their new Alfa Romeo 169. The car was first showcased at the Geneva Motor Show in 2004, where the 169 was a mere concept, nearly being fully released this year. Recession pushed things back for Alpha Romeo, who now thinks it could be released in 2011.

Alfas have always come from pure Italian passion for design, compromising on reliability maybe, but never falling short of delivering an exquisite driving experience. The picture above shows the latest proposed 169 shape and it should be enough to challenge the German car manufacturers for their huge market share. The 169 will be in direct competition with the 5 series and XF, with rumours of a 450hp V8 engine being more than enough to put this car in a strong position for the future.

New Zenvo ST1 Promoted

•November 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment
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Keeping the supercar alive

When I heard that Denmark, the first country ever to introduce environmental laws upon its people in 1973, was to launch a 100% home-grown super car I almost ate my metal horn-bearing hat. Yet they have and just from looking at the pictures I’m excited about it. Announced last year, this Zenvo ST1 has just been further promoted with videos and hi-res pictures, showing a car that has enough power to take on even the Bugatti Veyron.

The styling is unique but attractive, rather like the product of a dinner date between Skeletor and a Lotus Elise that went very well indeed. Zenvo Automotive are very keen to stress that every aspect of the new car is local. They have tried wherever they can to use Danish engineering and design, which they say has produced a supercar that is ‘purposeful and practical’, while remaining ‘powerful, drivable and user friendly.’

Now, let us stroll through the automotive archives of attempts to blend ‘power’ and the notion of being ‘user-friendly.’ The Bugatti Veyron for instance, one of the world’s most impressive cars both technologically and in terms of pure capability. However, it costs nearly £1m to own, does such a small number of miles to the gallon you could count them on your forearm and ‘opening her up’ will drain a £100 fuel tank in twelve minutes.

The Ferrari Enzo; supreme Italian engineering encased within its 6.0 litre V12 that shrieks out 651 hp from just behind your balding cranium. Here comes the ‘but’, it’s so low to the ground that getting in requires a more than average interest in Karma Sutra, the rear visibility is poorer than the Royal Bank of Scotland and you can only ever do four full throttle starts before its racing clutch explodes in a cloud of red diamonds.

What I am trying to get at, is that supercars are not meant to be user-friendly. They are there to be loved for what they are and that is humankind pursuing the limits of what is possible on four-wheels. Pale, bearded men smelling of Worthers and piss can moan on all they want about electricity, the future and the death of the supercar; this Zenvo ST1 is exactly the boost performance motoring needs.

It comes with a 7.0 litre supercharged and then turbocharged V8 producing 1104 hp and 1430 Nm of torque. The six speed gearbox sends the ST1 from 0-60 mph in under three seconds, but you will have to be quicker than that to get your hands on one because there are only 15 units being made.

New Volvo S60 Pictures Released

•November 10, 2009 • Leave a Comment
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Exciting design is keeping Volvo attractive

Whenever a new Volvo is released, that usually means a mind bending piece of safety technology is also let loose on the motoring world. Sure, the Mercedes Benz S-class is often a showcase for the future of automobiles but there is a reason that the brand Volvo is immediately associated with big, safe and sometimes rather uninteresting.

It is amazing how seeing a Volvo estate on the road can make you feel, a real spectrum of emotions. A glance in the rear view mirror that reveals a V70 estate brings a sense of calm. If the worst driver on earth t-boned a V70 at 167 mph flipping it upside down and causing a minor explosion, the middle classed gentleman and his perfect family would still be in their gilets, with the ubiquitous Labrador fast asleep albeit in the foot well.

On the other hand, when you see a Volvo 240 estate behind you there begins an intense feeling of dullish boredom. Looking like some Swedish Big Ben lying on its side, the 240 appears solid and it is, leaving the car with the agility of the clock it resembles.

Calm and boredom seems attractive compared to seeing a V70 estate with blue flashing lights however. The police have always liked the V70 for its unrivaled space and quality engineering, not to mention the 2.3 litre 250hp T5 Volvo engine providing more than enough power to send down tracksuit-wearing Astra drivers up and down the country.

These days, Volvo has been working to change its boring image by stepping up its design ethic. To be quite honest the box-on-wheels approach served them very well over the years but looking at their latest addition, the new S60, futuristic vision working for the Swedes very well indeed.

Right on cue, as the S60 is revealed, so too is an amazing new feature called ‘Pedestrian Detection.’ The Mercedes S-class has already showed us that it is possible for cars to brake themselves, but the new S60 will be able to recognise pedestrians as well as other traffic. I’ve ordered mine with the very reasonable ‘Jordan and Peter’ optional extra, disabling the pedestrian detector if it recognises either money-grabbing media-merchant crossing the road.

The pictures are an exciting insight into Volvo’s continuing efforts to change people’s opinions about their cars. They will always have brand loyalty from some, but tapping into the BMW and Audi lovers’ wallets might take a bit more than exciting design.

The 2010 Corvette Grand Sport

•November 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment
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The revolution of American performance motoring

We have all heard about American cars being rubbish. In the luxury sector carmakers such as Cadillac do succeed, using steel girders, bits of cow and highly polished tree as its main interior components. This means although luxurious, Cadillacs have never been able to make their way around corners, with most paramedics so appalled at your lack of taste they often leave you to die in the coppice you over steered dramatically into.

So America could just about do luxury, but couldn’t make anything turn left or right because it used technology like the bouncy-castle to design its chassis and suspension. What America could do was make things sound extremely loud and go incomprehensively fast in a straight line. Hence the Chevrolet Corvette.The early Corvettes were glorious to look at and the gurgle of its V8 played with my senses like the gurgle of Italian coffee through a percolator.

It was a great car for blasting down long American roads but deadly on a meandering country b-road over in the UK with so much power being sent to the rear. There was so much power under the throttle in fact that just a single sneeze could mean missing four junctions on the M25.

Thankfully, today the Corvette has been made into a great car through various improvements to its comedy suspension and woeful steering. A 7.0 litre V8 still provides plenty of get up and go, but ventilated disc brakes all-round and independent suspension systems keep it in line when turning in.

Earlier this year Chevrolet confirmed that 2010 would see the latest Grand Sport version of the Corvette, now we have been issued with the pictures and specs. It will be a track-orientated deign, featuring wider wheels and tyres and a 0-60 mph time of under four seconds. Despite this, Chevrolet reckon it will still give 26mpg if driven sensibly, they also revealed how it will pull 1.0 G on the skid pad making the first bit of information somewhat irrelevant.

The 2010 Corvette Grand Sport will keep the original car’s good looks, with additional accessories to make it that bit more special. For Chevrolet, this model will continue to revolutionise the old Corvette’s image, placing it in direct contention with the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini.

Barabus TKR May Overtake the Bugatti Veyron

•November 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment
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Its V8 produces a trouser-wetting 1800hp

When a new car makes its way into the public arena, there are usually a few areas which must immediately be addressed. Firstly, who produced it. If Daewoo came up with it, we can safely assume it won’t be a bad car…think of it as a really good bicycle. However if Bentley took the time to design it, we can rest assured a man dressed in white overalls spent day and night polishing the hand crafted motor, only pausing to removing sections of his own skin upon running out of Chamois leather.

That decided, we need to know the facts and figures. How fast from 0 to 60 mph? Top speed? Gadgets and toys? What helpless animal is the seat covered in? No car has made such an impact with these figures since the Bugatti Veyron. While other carmakers were deciding what radiator to install and which top speed to cut the engine at, Bugatti just put ten radiators in, strapped in four turbo chargers and let it reach 253 mph. No other car had been sold at such a loss purely for the advancement of automotive capability.

But it seems the lunacy of producing 1010hp from an 8.0 litre W16 engine – if that is what it can be called, I prefer ‘biblical combustion chamber’ – is not enough. A man called Tony Keating from Britain hopes his new car named the Barabus ‘TKR’ will surpass the 253 mph top speed of the Bugatti, carrying on all the way past 300. They already clocked 260.1 mph on the Bonneville Salt flats in October, hoping in September 2010 to reach the target under the eyes of the Guinness Book of Records.

The current car has already seen four sales, one in the UK, one in America and one in Australia. The revised machine is powered by a 7.0 litre bi-turbo V8 producing a casual 1800hp, so much power in fact that the first 260.1 mph effort from the current car caused the driver to be physically sick.

Suddenly the pursuit of ultimate speed and power doesn’t sound so appealing. Personally, popping down to the shops with chunks of last-night’s roast spattered on my jumper isn’t worth having the fastest car money can buy – that money amounts to £250,000 by the way. The car is currently on show at the MPH car show in London giving people a chance to see what could be the world’s new fastest production car. If you look closely enough inside, you can still see Bonneville salt mixed with diced carrot.

New Porsche Boxster Spyder for 2010

•November 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment
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The Boxster has been made cool again

When it comes to the Porsche Boxter, there has always been confusion about who would buy it. It seemed if you had quite a bit of money then you would invest in the heritage and image of a 911, leaving the Boxster branded as the ‘poor man’s’ Carerra.

That’s fine if you are a stuffy, beard-bearing toff who can afford to have such views, but the truth is the Boxster stands as a hero. It offers exquisite driving pleasure to those who should have tried harder at school and that should be celebrated.

It’s still not cheap at around £35,000 new, yet second hand these cars give normal people a chance to own and enjoy real engineering prowess that wont break the bank, or their marital vows.

Exciting it is then that today Porsche have revealed the new Boxster Spyder, billing it as the lightest mid-engine Boxster yet. Before, the thought of driving a Boxster and seeing a 911 at the lights didn’t bear thinking about. People started sticking car-rental logos on the back and loudly but sheepishly saying  “I know, look what I got stuck with…again!”, to the faces of a 911 owners hidden behind up-turned noses.

Not anymore though, because with this latest model and indeed the latest Boxster in general, there is no reason for embarrassment. Weighing in at just 1,275kg and producing 320hp from its 3.4 litre straight six engine, the Boxster is offically lighter and faster than any Boxster before it and John Prescott.

Leaving all the facts and figures to one side though, to look at the Spyder is a wonderful thing. One can forgive Porsche for their reserved nature when it comes to design; often it is the little tweeks they make and subtle curves and bumps they craft which prove so successful.

It is expected that the Boxster Sypder will cost around 63,400 Euros to buy and for the money you get a lot of car. It will be debuted at the Los Angeles Motor Show in December with sales starting worldwide in February 2010. When these hit the second hand market in a few years time it will mean bargain performance motoring all over again.