|25 Feb, 2017
Fiesta ST turns to 3-cylinder!
It doesn't sound good. The new generation Fiesta no longer offers any
4-cylinder petrol engines. Even the hot ST model, which used to be our
favourite small hot hatch in the past 4 years, has switched to a
1.5-liter Ecoboost triple! The new engine is derived from the existing
1.0 Ecoboost. It has intake and exhaust continuous VVT as usual but the
fuel injection system has been upgraded to dual injection
(port+direct), and the turbocharger is larger, of course. It loses a
cylinder and 100 c.c. from the old engine, but its output is exactly
the same as the last ST200, i.e. 200 hp and 214 lbft, although in the
old car you can have overboost. The new ST also matches the old ST200
in 0-60 mph acceleration, taking the same 6.4 seconds.
Enthusiasts must be disappointing to see its performance lacks
improvement, but environmentalists and Ford engineers are happy to see
its emission drops drastically from 140 to 114 g/km. This improvement
is contributed by not only the loss of one cylinder but also the
addition of cylinder deactivation technology, which was unveiled on the
100hp 1.0 Ecoboost engine a couple of months ago. At light load it
turns off one cylinder to save fuel. As twin-cylinder engine has a
rough exhaust note (see Fiat TwinAir), Ford equips the car with
Electronic Sound Enhancement (ESE), or I would simply call it
artificial noise synthesizer. Will the triple-cylinder engine
compromise noise and smoothness? We shall see very soon.
As before, the Fiesta ST employs a 6-speed manual gearbox and drives
the front wheels without limited slip differential. A torque vectoring
by brake is added as a cost-effective solution. Its suspension does
without adaptive dampers, but that is normal for the class. The control
system now offers 3 driver-selectable modes - Normal, Sport and Track,
which alter the settings of engine mapping, traction control, stability
control, power steering, ESE and exhaust noise valve. You can turn off
the TC and ESP completely. The car rides on larger, 18-inch wheels shod
with 205/40ZR18 Michelin Pilot Sport tires, guaranteeing better
|25 Feb, 2017
Camaro ZL1 1LE
It seems that GM is not going to build a new Camaro Z/28, so the new
ZL1 with 1LE package is as close as you get for a track-oriented
Camaro. The gigantic, 650hp and 650lbft 6.2-liter supercharged V8 is
retained without changes - it doesn't need to, but the car is available
with only manual gearbox. The 1LE package works mainly on the aero,
suspension, wheels and tires. That carbon-fiber rear spoiler and
additional winglets and front splitters produce 300 pounds (136 kg) of
downforce at top speed. The tires get 20mm wider both front and rear to
305 and 325mm, and they are track-biased Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R,
good for 1.1g lateral acceleration. In order to save unsprung weight,
the wheels are an inch smaller at 19-inch, and made of forged alloy.
The suspension is overhauled with DSSV (Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve)
dampers (supplied by Multimatic). This allows the front ride height to
be manually adjustable. Likewise, the front camber and rear anti-roll
bar are also adjustable. The whole car is 27kg lighter than the
standard ZL1, thanks in part to thinner rear glass and a fixed-back
rear seat. Still, at about 1734 kg it is a heavyweight hitter on the
|25 Feb, 2017
Long-time Lotus test engineer Roger Becker has passed away at the age
of 71. Working for Lotus from 1966 to 2009, he was responsible for the
ride and handling tuning of most great Lotus models we know, including
Esprit, Excel, Elan M100, Elise, Exige and finally Evora. Without his
skill, I think Lotus would not have been famous for ride and handling
until today. His son Matt Becker is now playing the same role at Aston
Aston Martin sales result
Aston Martin sold 3687 cars last year, just 72 cars more than 2015. The
arrival of DB11 at the last quarter adds some hope, but the British
maker should feel the pressure of stiffer competition, thanks to the
addition of McLaren, AMG GT and upgraded efforts of Porsche and
Bentley. Its loss widened to £163 million. More worrying, the
company has not turned a profit for 6 consecutive years.
|24 Feb, 2017
Panamera Turbo S goes hybrid
The last generation Panamera Turbo S was just a more powerful version
of Panamera Turbo. Surprisingly, the new Turbo S becomes a hybrid. It
mates the regular Turbo's 550hp V8 with the E-Hybrid
motor, which is incorporated into the PDK gearbox thus is easily
compatible with any engines. As a result, combined output is a
staggering 680hp and 627 lbft of torque. Even though the electric
motor, inverter and battery add 315 kg to the kerb weight, the Turbo S
E-Hybrid is still good for 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds, two-tenths faster
than the Turbo. Its top speed is lifted slightly to 193 mph.
Like the V6-powered E-Hybrid, its 14.1kWh lithium battery gives an EV
range of 50km. Using 230V/32A fast charger, it takes 2.4 hours to
The rest of the car is virtually unchanged from the Turbo.
|24 Feb, 2017
As you might remember, 7 years ago Giorgetto Giugiaro sold 90 percent
stakes of his company Italdesign to Volkswagen group. He completely
withdrew in 2015, so Italdesign is now wholly owned by Volkswagen group
via Audi / Lamborghini. Currently, the company's revenue comes from
engineering consultancy services (60%), prototype building (24%) and
design (16%), and 90% of which comes from Volkswagen group. As the
group is cutting R&D expenses due to dieselgate crisis, Italdesign
needs to diverse its business portfolio and seek more revenue from
outside the group. That is why it has established a new division,
Italdesign Automobili Speciali, to build custom supercars for the very
riches. The first act is this mid-engined supercar,
whose name is yet to be revealed.
The car is built around the chassis and powertrain of Audi R8, using
the same 5.2-liter V10 and 4WD system. Likewise, its chassis is
constructed from aluminum spaceframe and carbon-fiber, but the custom
bodywork is fully carbon-fiber. Unsurprisingly, it quotes the same 205
mph top speed and 0-60 mph time of 3.1 seconds as the top R8.
While the mechanicals are virtually the same as R8 and Lamborghini
Huracan, its styling is very different from both siblings, but probably
complicated for my taste. Moreover, you can see some hints of Nissan
GT-R from front quarter angle. It is designed under the direction of
Filippo Perini, who oversees the design departments of both Lamborghini
As the car sells for exclusivity, Italdesign will build only 5 cars by
hands, each for an eye-popping €1.5 million plus tax. This is only the
beginning. The company plans to introduce a new exclusive model like
this every 1.5 to 2 years.
|24 Feb, 2017
sales hit new low
Proton sold only 72,290 cars in Malaysia last year, or a sharp 29%
decrease from a year ago. Its market share dropped to only 12.5%,
handing its number 2 position to Honda for the first time. Both numbers
are new lows. Currently PSA and Geely are bidding to buy Proton, so
hopefully DRB-Hicom will forget its pain soon.
|17 Feb, 2017
The new generation Hyundai Accent is built on the platform of i20 and
Kia Rio. As before, it will be available in 5-door hatchback or, as
pictured here, 4-door sedan form. As before, the car will be sold in
the global market except Europe, which is taken care by i20.
Compared with the old car, the new car car shows subtle changes. It is
just barely longer, wider and runs a 10mm longer wheelbase at 2580mm.
Like Sonata, it wears a formal hexagonal grille but overall the
appearance is a little conservative and predictable. Its body-in-white
is made of 54.5% of advanced high-strength steel (AHSS), up from 41.5%
of the old car. In addition to the use of more structural adhesives,
these lift its torsional rigidity by 32 percent.
In USA, the Accent is served with only the carried-over 1.6 GDI engine.
It is detuned to 132 hp and 119 lbft, but gains a little bit more
low-end torque and 7 percent improvement of fuel economy. The engine
mates with either 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic gearbox. In
Korea, the 1.6 GDI engine is likely to be joined with the company's
100hp 1.4-liter petrol and 136hp 1.6CRDi diesel, just like the outgoing
generation. Nothing catches the attention of car lovers.
|16 Feb, 2017
812 Superfast replaces F12
Ferrari is replacing its flagship model F12 Berlinetta with a modified
version, but instead of F12M, this car is called 812 Superfast. The
Superfast name was used on the 1964 500
, Ferrari's best luxurious grand tourer in the 1960s.
However, the 812 Superfast is a very different car. Like F12, it is a
front-mid-engined 2-seat super sports car. Highlight is the new V12,
enlarged by 234 c.c. to 6496 c.c., matching Lamborghini Aventador. It
is also added with Ferrari's F1-derived variable intake trumpet system
(taken from F12tdf) and a higher-pressure, 350-bar direct injection.
Its output is lifted to a full 800 horsepower at 8500 rpm, 60hp more
than both its predecessor and the new Aventador S, and 20hp more than
even the TDF. Apart from the LaFerrari's unit, this is the most
powerful V12 ever built in Maranello. Maximum torque is improved
by 20 lbft to 529 lbft at 7000 rpm, which seems
peaky, but at least 80 percent of that amount is available from 3500
rpm. The V12 is linked to a 7-speed twin-clutch gearbox with revised
ratios and updated software for even faster shifts.
The car's 1525 kg dry weight, or 1630 kg kerb weight, is unchanged from
the existing F12 Berlinetta but 110 kg heavier than the stripped-out
F12tdf. However, it is lighter than Aventador by 50kg. The new engine
seems to be slightly heavier, as front-to-rear weight distribution is
changed slightly from 46:54 to 47:53, still a remarkable figure. As for
performance, Ferrari doesn't change the top speed claims of "more than
211 mph", while 0-60 mph is said to be improved by 0.2s to 2.8 seconds,
or the same as the TDF.
Also like the TDF, it is equipped with active rear-wheel steering to
improve handling. The SSC side slip control system is updated to the
5th generation. However, the most shocking is perhaps the switch from
hydraulic to electric power steering, which is integrated with many
other electronic systems. Will it worsen the communication between
driver and machine? We shall see.
Outside, the 812 Superfast's body work has received many changes,
although they are not necessarily better looking. Ferrari doesn't talk
much about aerodynamics, so it is unlikely to see big improvement. For
a mid-life refresh, the more powerful engine, EPS and 4WS are already
|15 Feb, 2017
Normally, we are not too interested in an open-top version of supercar,
because the conversion must sacrifice some lightness, rigidity hence
performance. However, the same cannot be said to the Pagani Huayra
Roadster. Weighing 1280 kg dry, the Roadster is 70 kg lighter than the
Coupe (Pagani claims 80 kg, but in our record the Coupe weighs 1350
kg). How is this achievable? The car's chassis and body are now made of
not only carbon-titanium but also carbon-Triax HP52, which is said to
be even more advanced than those adopted on F1 cars. Besides, its
suspension control arms are taken straight from last year's
track-oriented Huayra BC, which are made of HiForg instead of Avional
thus are 25 percent lighter.
Meanwhile, the AMG 6-liter twin-turbo V12 has been boosted from 730 hp
to 764 hp, now released at a healthier 6200 rpm (up from 5800 rpm).
Maximum torque remains at 738 lbft (1000 Nm), whose appearance is
lifted slightly from 2250 rpm to 2400 rpm. The Xtrac 7-speed automated
manual gearbox remains, but like Huayra BC, it gets redesigned
electro-hydraulic actuation system and new carbon synchronizers. Pagani
has yet to provide performance figures, but judging from the 10 percent
higher power-to-weight ratio, the Roadster is easily faster than the
Coupe. Moreover, the new chassis materials guarantees increased
torsional rigidity, thus handling should be improved as well. Both
front and rear wheels grow an inch larger (to 20 and 20-inch
respectively), and they wear new Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tires.
While the Coupe's look doesn't gel with me, the Roadster seems more
charming after losing the roof. Its flying buttresses incorporate some
stylish louvers. The fabric soft roof (with carbon cover) can be
attached and detached manually and stored inside the car.
Alternatively, you can install a rigid, carbon-frame glass roof so that
it looks and works just like the Coupe.
The Roadster is priced at €2.28M plus tax. Pagani will build 100 cars,
and all of them have been sold already. This will keep the small
Italian factory busy for the next two years.
|15 Feb, 2017
may sell Opel/Vauxhall to PSA
Shocking news: GM and PSA confirmed that they are in discussion of a
possible sale of Opel/Vauxhall to the French group. It comes as a
surprise as the operating results of Opel/Vauxhall has been improving a
lot, even though it still made a loss of $257M last year due to weak
pound. Both companies have their business concentrated in Europe, as
are their manufacturing plants and workforces, so I doubt the synergy
of the merger. If it comes true, Opel/Vauxhall could suffer from a lot
Jaguar introduces Ingenium petrol engines
Until now, Jaguar's Ingenium engine family is limited to a 2-liter
turbo diesel with either 163 or 180hp. Now the Ingenium family is
expanding to petrol. The 2-liter turbo petrol offers either 200hp or
250hp - the latter is comparable to BMW, Mercedes and Audi's 2-liter
engines, if not as good as Alfa Romeo Giulia (280hp). Maximum torque is
236 lbft and 269 lbft respectively. Both engines feature a twin-scroll
turbo and, most importantly, a Continuously Variable Valve Lift system
(like Valvetronic?). Meanwhile, the
2.0 diesel is added with a new 240hp / 369 lbft version.
|2 Feb, 2017
W1: the ultimate Australian sports sedan
As you know, production of Holden Commodore will come to the end in
October this year. A couple of weeks ago Holden introduced its last
version, Commodore Motorsport edition. That's only the last "regular"
Commodore though. The ultimate Commodore has to be an HSV, of course,
and there are two. The headline car is this GTSR W1. It employs the
6.2-liter LS9 supercharged V8 from the last generation Corvette ZR1,
whose goodies include dry-sump lubrication, titanium con-rods and
intake valves and a 4-lobe Eaton supercharger. Although not as advanced
as the LT4 unit on the new Corvette Z06 (e.g. no direct injection, VVT
and cylinder deactivation), it is not short of power and torque: 636 hp
and 600 lbft. This necessitates new gear ratios and a heavy-duty input
shaft for the Tremec 6-speed manual gearbox to handle. It should be the
most powerful and the ultimate Australian performance sedan!
To fit into the engine bay, the LS9 is given a new carbon-fiber airbox.
Since the engine ran out of production long ago, HSV could source only
300 units from the stock of GM, which is also the number of GTSR W1
will be built. Priced at A$170,000, the car is more expensive than even
Mercedes-AMG C63 S in Australia.
If that is too expensive to you, you may opt for the A$110,000 GTSR.
This car is not quite as special. In fact, it is not a big departure
from the existing Gen-F GTS
using the same LSA supercharged V8 (from old Camaro ZL1) to produce
585 hp and 546 lbft of torque. It also employs the same Magnetic
adaptive dampers. Surprisingly, W1 has these advanced dampers replaced
with track-oriented "Supashock" fixed rate dampers. Both cars feature
the same AP brakes. Up front, 6-piston monobloc calipers serve 410mm
discs (up from 390mm of the GTS). The GTSR employs 255/35ZR20 and
275/35ZR20 tires, while W1 has them upgraded to 265/35ZR20 and
295/30ZR20 Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R, which is obviously designed for
|1 Feb, 2017
Is this Leon Junior? The new generation Seat Ibiza has a styling almost
the same as its bigger brother, just made in a smaller scale. Compared
with the outgoing car, it keeps the same length and height but its
width and wheelbase gain 87mm and 95mm respectively. The latter has
been stretched to 2564mm, allowing rear passengers to enjoy 35mm more
legroom. Front and rear headroom gain 24mm and 17mm respectively.
Predictably, the new car is built on the new MQB A0 platform, which
will form the basis of next VW Polo and Skoda Fabia. Its chassis is 30
percent stiffer in torsional rigidity, also lighter thanks to the use
of more high and ultra-high strength steel.
The engine range consists of:
- 1.0 TSI 3-cylinder DI turbo, 95hp or 115hp;
- 1.5 TSI EA211 Evo with virtually everything (DI, VTG turbo, ACT,
Miller cycle), 150hp;
- 1.6 TDI turbo diesel, 80hp, 95hp or 115hp.
Gearboxes include 5 or 6-speed manual and 7-speed DSG.
|1 Feb, 2017
Phantom VII production ended
Rolls-Royce has ended production of Phantom, its flagship limousine.
The Phantom (now known as Phantom VII) was born 13 years ago when BMW
took over the brand from Volkswagen group, so it has well passed its
best time. In particular, its naturally aspirated V12 was short of
power compared with the turbocharged unit of its smaller sister, Ghost.
The next generation Phantom, or Phantom VIII, will arrive next year.