Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jaguar’s Unique Supercar Concept

Jaguar’s Unique Supercar ConceptInside Jay Leno’s expansive warehouse of vintage automobiles sat a vision of the future, Jaguar style. The low, lusciously sculpted form of the silver C-X75 supercar concept was enough to thrill the most jaded of auto journalists gathered in Leno’s collector-car assemblage near Burbank, where Jaguar presented the car before its U.S. debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The beauty of C-X75 is so much more than skin deep, though, with power provided by a most exotic array of sustainable performance components that can propel the gleaming missile to 62 miles per hour in just 3.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 205 mph.

C-X75 is technically an extended-range plug-in hybrid car, but how it performs its task is far ahead of the plug-ins being readied today for consumers. The drive system is comprised of four electric motors, one for each wheel, while two tiny gas-turbine engines provide recharging for the lithium-ion batteries.

“This entire car is an elegant solution, not just its physical beauty but its mechanical beauty,” said Jaguar design director Ian Callum as he introduced the car. “This is as close to a pure art form as a car can get.”

The micro gas turbines, which sit under the rear glass behind the driver and passenger, are key to the design. Replacing any sort of bulky piston engine, each turbine is small enough and light enough to hold in your hands, yet it produces 94 horsepower at a constant 80,000 rpm.

Designed by Jaguar in partnership with Bladon Jets, the groundbreaking micro gas turbines are similar to the giant jet engines on the passenger jets that brought the auto writers to Los Angeles. But instead of providing thrust, they provide the power to spin the generating system for the battery pack.

Jaguar says the C-X75 can run for 68 miles on electric power alone from a six-hour plug-in charge of household current. The gas turbines cut in when needed to supply electrical power to run the four traction motors and recharge the batteries. On a full tank of kerosene or similar fuel, the car has an estimated range of 560 miles before refueling.

“You can happily cruise this car all day at 100 mph,” said Nigel Taylor, project manager for C-X75. At that speed, he explained, one of the turbines is busy feeding electricity to the motors while the other is recharging the batteries. Both turbines are at work at top speeds feeding the motors, and work together at lower speeds for recharging.

The turbine engines are still in prototype form, said Phillip Lelliott, director of Bladon Jets, but they could be mass produced at a reasonable cost. A working example of the turbine was mounted on a small stand, and Lelliot easily lifted it to show the journalists. The four electric motors provide startling power: a combined 780 horsepower and whopping 1,180 pound-feet of torque.
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cygnet is swan hell of a city car

Cygnet is swan hell of a city carThat's affordable by Aston standards, because the Cygnet's starting price of £30,000 is what people usually pay for an executive car. But then only Aston could take a Toyota model and transform it into the world's most luxurious and expensive city car. Their designers have done a clever makeover job on Toyota's quirky IQ model to turn it into a baby Aston Martin.

Although the mechanicals and the basis of the car remain the IQ, every exterior panel apart from the roof has been changed. The transformation is most noticeable at the front where the Cygnet gets the classic Aston chrome grille, plus new headlights. The reshaped bonnet gets Aston air vents that hint at performance that sadly is not under the bonnet.

What is under the bonnet is the 1.3litre Toyota engine, perfectly adequate for a city runabout, but 0-60mph in 11.8 seconds and a top speed of 98mph is hardly Astonesque. On the positive side, no Aston owner will ever have got 58mpg before or C02 emissions of just 197g/km. And that's a key part of what the Cygnet is all about, because if Aston sell the 1,500 a year they expect to, it will dramatically reduce their overall C02 footprint.

But it's on the inside where the designers have really done a brilliant cosmetic job on turning the Cygnet into a true Aston. All the materials and trim are what you find in a "proper" Aston. The leather, aluminium, carbon fibre and wood are all what you would expect to get in a DB9. The Cygnet can transport three adults and a bit of luggage in luxury never seen before in a small car.

The first Cygnets will be handed over to owners next May and Aston already have more than 200 orders, including a couple of people who have also ordered a One-77. The little car will also help to guarantee production jobs at Aston's Gaydon HQ and hopefully create new jobs next year. It will be the perfect city Aston for nipping in and out of traffic, leaving the big models for the weekend runs to the country.Oh to be rich.
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Spyker Cars to make India debut

Spyker Cars to make India debutThe Netherlands-based Spyker Cars has already shortlisted potential partners to import its vehicles and two dealerships are expected to come in the National Capital and Mumbai. "Spyker is always looking for the right partners in viable markets for the brand and we are discussing with a number of potential partners in many new markets, India included," the Sales Department of the luxury sports car maker told media in an e-mailed response.

The company has conducted a market study and held talks with possible partners in the National Capital and Mumbai, although nothing has been finalised yet, it added. "Spyker has shortlisted the potential partners and we will announce the new retail partner when the arrangements are finalised. It is our intention to launch the Spyker product in 2011," the company said.

Even though the company did not share possible price tags of the models, the marques with hand-crafted body panels will go up to several crores. For instance the C8 Spyder Aileron is tagged at 2,20,000 pounds (about Rs 1.6 crore) in London.

Globally, Spyker sells models like iconic C8 series, one of which was driven by Sharon Stone in the 'Basic Instinct 2'. Other models include LM85, C12 Zagato and D8 Peking-to-Paris.

The company may not have opened retail sales in India yet, but Spyker Cars is not new to India. In 2007, UB Group promoter Vijay Mallya and Dutch entrepreneur Jan & Michiel Mol had jointly acquired the Spyker Formula One team, which was later renamed as Force India. Recently the Indian luxury car market has attracted many global firms into the country with their latest products.

Last month, Volkswagen Group company Bugatti Automobiles launched its super premium sports car 'Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport' with price starting at Rs 16 crore, the most expensive car to hit the Indian roads so far.

UK-based luxury carmaker Aston Martin was also understood to be gearing up to launch its cars in India and tied up with Infinity Cars to open the first showroom in Mumbai. The cars are likely to cost up to Rs 3 crore.
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Drive away from expensive car breakdowns this winter

According to research a third (33 per cent) of serious or fatal motor accidents occur in the dark, and almost 4,500 accidents happened in snowy and icy conditions1, so Britain's number one comparison site reminds drivers to be prepared before they hit the roads to drive in potentially hazardous winter weather. moneysupermarket[dot]com found UK breakdown cover is available from as little as £29.50 a year with RescueMyCar[dot]com and £29.70 a year with The Green Insurance Company2. These policies include features such as roadside repair and recovery to the nearest garage or any UK destination, alternative travel and accommodation costs.

Steve Sweeney, head of car insurance at moneysupermarket[dot]com said: "Last winter the 'Big Freeze' really took us all by surprise. We don't realise how much we depend on our cars until a problem or breakdown strikes. With the colder winter months already upon us comprehensive motor breakdown cover is a must for motorists to avoid being stuck in the cold and dark. With the range of policies on offer at competitive prices , there really is no excuse for motorists to run the risk of being stranded. Breakdown cover really is worth paying for if you want the peace of mind that you will be rescued if your car does grind to a halt.

"With out doubt prevention is better than the cure so it's necessary to stress the importance of regular checks to your vehicle to avoid breaking down while on the road. Taking regular precautionary measures such as checking the oil level, anti-freeze, hazard lights, and tyres for tread depth and pressure, and stowing a spare tyre in the boot of your car are a good idea. I would also advise you store a torch, reflective triangle sign, high-visibility jacket, first aid kit and jump leads in your car to help aid you should you find yourself stuck on the side of the road."
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

AUTOS: Jaguar’s Unique Supercar Concept

AUTOS: Jaguar’s Unique Supercar ConceptInside Jay Leno’s expansive warehouse of vintage automobiles sat a vision of the future, Jaguar style. The low, lusciously sculpted form of the silver C-X75 supercar concept was enough to thrill the most jaded of auto journalists gathered in Leno’s collector-car assemblage near Burbank, where Jaguar presented the car before its U.S. debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The beauty of C-X75 is so much more than skin deep, though, with power provided by a most exotic array of sustainable performance components that can propel the gleaming missile to 62 miles per hour in just 3.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 205 mph. C-X75 is technically an extended-range plug-in hybrid car, but how it performs its task is far ahead of the plug-ins being readied today for consumers. The drive system is comprised of four electric motors, one for each wheel, while two tiny gas-turbine engines provide recharging for the lithium-ion batteries.

“This entire car is an elegant solution, not just its physical beauty but its mechanical beauty,” said Jaguar design director Ian Callum as he introduced the car. “This is as close to a pure art form as a car can get.”

The micro gas turbines, which sit under the rear glass behind the driver and passenger, are key to the design. Replacing any sort of bulky piston engine, each turbine is small enough and light enough to hold in your hands, yet it produces 94 horsepower at a constant 80,000 rpm.

Designed by Jaguar in partnership with Bladon Jets, the groundbreaking micro gas turbines are similar to the giant jet engines on the passenger jets that brought the auto writers to Los Angeles. But instead of providing thrust, they provide the power to spin the generating system for the battery pack. Jaguar says the C-X75 can run for 68 miles on electric power alone from a six-hour plug-in charge of household current. The gas turbines cut in when needed to supply electrical power to run the four traction motors and recharge the batteries. On a full tank of kerosene or similar fuel, the car has an estimated range of 560 miles before refueling.

“You can happily cruise this car all day at 100 mph,” said Nigel Taylor, project manager for C-X75. At that speed, he explained, one of the turbines is busy feeding electricity to the motors while the other is recharging the batteries. Both turbines are at work at top speeds feeding the motors, and work together at lower speeds for recharging.

The turbine engines are still in prototype form, said Phillip Lelliott, director of Bladon Jets, but they could be mass produced at a reasonable cost. A working example of the turbine was mounted on a small stand, and Lelliot easily lifted it to show the journalists. The four electric motors provide startling power: a combined 780 horsepower and whopping 1,180 pound-feet of torque.
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Bugatti unveils the most expensive car ever wrapped at SEMA

Bugatti unveils the most expensive car ever wrapped at SEMABugatti Veryon the most expensive car to be wrapped was unveiled at Speciality Equipment Market Association event. The car that is priced at $1.7 million has shattered all previous records. The wrap of the car is designed by SkinzWraps and Epson Printer has used to take the print out of the wrap.

For those who don’t know about Bugatti Veryon, it is the fastest and the most expensive sports car of the world. Some analysts hail it as the greatest automobile to be driven on earth. Bugatti Veryon is a 2-seater that comes with 16-cylinder 1001Hp engine. It can hit the top speed of 253 miles in a few seconds which is unthinkable in other sports cars that are available in the market. Today, most car makers are coming out with expensive cars to cater to the requirements of the elite class. These cars are a status symbol for the people who love driving fast cars.
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

2011 Honda Civic Coupe Review

2011 Honda Civic Coupe ReviewThe Japanese concern has been peddling Civics since 1972 and a two-door version with a proper trunk since 1992. And since inception, the car has sold rather well. Since its last substantial makeover, for the 2006 model year, the coupe, which forms part of Honda’s eighth generation Civic, continues to find a sizeable number of buyers; people who seem to be looking for a set of wheels that’s dependable, decently put together and can deliver a dash of sportiness without breaking the bank.

After a mild update for 2009, which saw the edition of a new front fascia, more aggressive grille with a honeycomb texture, plus mild rear end tweaks and updated interior features (including a USB interface in the console), predictably, Honda’s junior coupe is little changed for 2011. Trim levels comprise base DX, LX, EX, EX-L, and Si, with prices ranging from a MSRP of $15,605 for the entry level DX, to $21,955 for an EX-L automatic, up to $24,205 for the sporty Si, completed with satellite navigation and performance rubber.

LEFT OF THE MIDDLE

Compared to the seventh generation Civic, which was conventional in every sense of the word, the current car has a few more sci-fi touches – the styling for one. There’s definitely a bit of a spaceship look to it, especially from the front and credit to Honda for giving the car significantly different sheetmetal than the sedan, with unique fenders, doors and roofline. Fit and finish are quite decent in the segment, with Toyota’s Corolla starting to show its age while the new Scion tC as well as the Mazda3 prove worthy rivals.

The Civic coupe’s aura of low drag sportiness continues on the inside. The fairly expansive and aggressively sloped windshield gives the car a somewhat cab-forward look. It can be a little intimidating to some when they first get behind the wheel, but after a few minutes, the expansive dash becomes barely noticeable, especially once you’re under way. Like the exterior, the cabin is quite well put together. Acres of plastic abound, but there’s a feeling of integrity not found in many small cars and the controls have a feel of precision.Perhaps what surprises most is standard digital instrumentation (save for the analog tachometer). Although it can often be a love it or hate it proposition for many drivers, Honda’s seems to work better than most. The speed and fuel displays prove easy to read at all times and again, like the somewhat futuristic dash, it is easy to adjust to them.

Hondas, especially Civics, are generally known for their low to the ground stance and when you sit in the current Civic coupe, the feeling is much the same, though the driver’s chair is height adjustable and the tilt and telescoping steering column makes it fairly easy for most drivers to get comfortable. In our LX, the cloth seats, although plain in appearance, offered a surprising amount of support in a car of this price range. Thigh support and lumbar are also particularly good, plus unlike the chairs found in some other recent Hondas (namely the Accord), they prove comfortable over longer journeys.

In back, most people will find it a bit of a squeeze. The coupe’s doors are fairly short, which means, even with the front seat backs moved forward it’s a bit tight to get in. Also, the fairly small rear quarter windows give the back a bit of a cave-like feel. It’s fine for short distances, but nobody deserves to spend any length of time there.

The trunk is actually quite spacious for a car like this, able to swallow 11.5 cubic feet and the rear seat also folds, for those slightly bigger objects, lending a surprising practicality.

Civic coupes are fairly well equipped, with standard power windows and mirrors, A/C and an AM/FM CD stereo. LX and up models get speed sensitive volume control and that USB interface, plus cruise control, power locks, 16-inch wheels and a few other small items. Sadly Sirius/XM satellite radio is not a standard feature and in order to get it you need to opt for the navigation system, that’s only available on EX-L and Si models, a bit awkward considering many cars now offer it as standard, even on the lower trim levels.

We also have to take issue with the excessive number of trim levels with a total of nine packages, plus sub-packages like the LX-S that add alloy wheels, upgraded interior fabric, a leather steering wheel and some nice outside features like a rear spoiler and chrome exhaust tip.

SMALL ENGINE STILL A WINNER

In terms of the mechanicals, Civic coupes come with a standard 1.8-liter single overhead cam, four-cylinder engine, teamed with either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic. The little engine cranks out 140 horsepower at 6300 rpm and 128 ft-lbs of torque at 4800 revs. In operation, the engine is fairly smooth, but like past Honda fours (and sixes come to think of it), it somewhat lacks throttle response at low rpm. And precisely for that reason, it works best with the slick shifting five-speed manual gearbox – the ability to hold the car in every gear allowing you to extract the most from its fairly peaky powerband. The auto, while fairly seamless in operation, seems to hold the engine back under acceleration, though at cruising velocity, as four-cylinder powertrains go, the little engine is actually quite hard to fault.

While the Civic Sedan is just starting to lag in the fuel economy wars with new 40-mpg entries from Chevy and Ford, in the less-competitive coupe segment the Civic still comes out on top. With a rating of 25/36-mpg (city/highway) for the automatic or 26/34-mpg for the manual, both come out to a 29-mpg average and are well ahead of the Forte Koup. And with the Scion tC boasting significantly more power, a fuel economy comparison would hardly be fair.

Si models do come equipped with a larger 2.0-liter dual overhead cam four cylinder, pushing out 197 hp at a very peaky 7900 revs and mandatory six-speed manual, but given the differences in character that engine brings, the Si deserves its own, separate entry.

GOOD REFLEXES

Another thing that has characterized recent Civics is a fairly firm, go-kart like ride and the 2010 coupe is no exception. The current car uses MacPherson strut front suspension with a fully independent multi-link rear. Combined with the standard (on LX) 205/65/16 tires, it can be a bit jarring, particularly on rough Michigan roads, which we experienced during our test. It can get a little tiring over longer distances, as can the fairly noticeable wind noise, but with seat comfort a step above most small cars, the annoyance factor is somewhat reduced.

One area where the Civic coupe can’t be faulted concerns the car’s driving dynamics. The power assisted rack and pinion steering is razor precise for a small car and the Civic feels, taut and nimble, particularly in city driving. Cornering is also exceptionally good – very neutral for a front-driver, with little body roll and good controllability. Even on slippery surfaces, where most FWD cars tend to run wide, the Civic demonstrates fairly sharp turn in and good feedback.

DX and LX models feature standard front disc and rear drum brakes, with ABS. The rear units are small and stopping ability is about average for the class. Four-wheel discs are fitted to EX-L models, but why Honda chose to fit drum brakes to the rear of DX and LX models in this day and age is just an offensive level of cost cutting.

Also only available on top-level EX models are traction and stability control.

THE VERDICT

Although the Civic has remained a perennial bestseller for decades and continues to draw a loyal audience, the small car segment is now more competitive than ever. With the ninth generation Civic due out soon, it will be interesting to see how Honda plans to stay on top.

In the meantime, the current car, while lacking slightly in design and with competitors starting to catch up in the fuel economy race, represents a serious rival to even the more potent Forte Koup SX and Scion tC by nature of its fun-to-drive dynamics.
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Friday, November 5, 2010

BlackRock says gold not pricey given fundamentals

BlackRock says gold not pricey given fundamentalsEvy Hambro, who manages the 2.8 billion pound ($4.5 billion) Gold & General Fund for the world's largest asset manager, said gold production has largely been flat over the past decade, while the costs of bringing a new mine on stream have risen.

"That supports the price on its own, and then you have to say the inflation-adjusted price for gold to have kept pace with purchasing power is over $2,000 an ounce. So those are your reference points around the gold market right now, and gold is within that range and I don't think it's gone too far at all," he said, although he could not comment on a price target.

The gold price, which is within a few dollars of a recent record high at $1,387.10 an ounce, has gained 1.5 percent this week. The U.S. Federal Reserve said on Wednesday it would spend $600 billion on buying government bonds as a means of injecting cash into a struggling economy. The dollar has fallen by nearly 10 percent against a basket of major currencies in the past two months as investors increasingly prepare for a long period of low U.S. interest rates.

The gold price has gained 11 percent in the same period as it has become less expensive to non-U.S. investors, many of whom have ditched the greenback in favour of higher-yielding currencies such as the Australian dollar. "Gold is not a paper currency, it is nobody else's liability, it is not a promise to pay by a bank and it's something you can't print, whereas dollar bills and other paper currencies you just turn the printing press on," Hambro said.

"What we're seeing now is a general shift in people's attitude towards things that are going to preserve their purchasing power over time, and gold is a natural beneficiary of this kind of activity in the market."Investor flows into precious metals have risen this year, as reflected by increases in holdings of metal in exchange-traded funds and in open interest in New York precious metals futures.

Part of the attraction of gold is its property as a hedge against inflationary pressures as, unlike returns from stocks or bonds which are eroded by inflation, it increases in value along with consumer prices. Investors see the potential for a pick-up in inflation as the money supply increases when the Fed resumes its programme of purchasing short- to medium-dated Treasuries and returning cash to the financial system.

"The central banks would like to see some growth and inflation coming back, and the activities they're undertaking are designed to engineer this," Hambro said. "Whether (inflation) it is far out, or medium term, or near term, I think that is what they're trying to engineer, and the precious metals, and gold in particular, and the other industrial metals are responding to it."
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

World's Most Expensive Barbie Sells for $300,000

World's Most Expensive Barbie Sells for $300,000Did the anonymous bidder that snapped up the diamond-choker wearing Barbie spend the money in the name of breast cancer research or to make all of his or her other Barbies back home realllllly jealous?

The pricey Barbie, created by Australian fine jewelry designer Stefano Canturi, wears a black strapless evening dress and a bejeweled choker, complete with a one-carat square-cut pink diamond.

She was sold at an auction at Christie's in New York City to an anonymous bidder for $302,500. The one-of-a-kind Barbie was estimated to be worth between $300,000 and $500,000. Even though the bid came in at the low end of that range, she is still the most expensive Barbie ever sold.

The previous world auction record for a Barbie was $17,091, set in 2006, according to the BBC. All proceeds from the sale will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, in conjunction with breast cancer awareness month.
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