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суббота, 3 сентября 2011 г.

Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe (2011) CAR review



By Georg Kacher
First Drives
05 August 2011 09:00
First, some history. AMG has been updating and upgrading mid-size two-door Mercs for much longer thank you might think. The go-faster business began in the late 1970s with the W123 range – it came in three different AMG tuning stages, from the humble 2.3-litre four, past a 2.8-litre six, to the mighty 5.0-litre V8.
However, it was not until 2001 that AMG stopped ignoring the entry-level two-door faction and released the 342bhp CLK55. In 2006, the 5.4-litre unit gave way to today’s 6.2, rated at 474bhp in the CLK63 AMG. Even though high-performance coupes did not come much rawer than this, sales were disappointingly slow, and as a result the proposed AMG versions of the E-class Coupe and Cabriolet were ditched.
To fill the void, the Swabian product planners rushed the C63 AMG Coupe to market as a late addition to the range – it shares its 451bhp engine with the C-class saloon and estate. And if you want more, the familiar Performance Package adds 29bhp to the total courtesy of internals from the SLS supercar. Also part of this kit are beefed-up front brakes, a carbonfibre boot lip spoiler, and a Alcantara and leather-rimmed steering wheel with a squared-off bottom.

What else can you tell me about the new Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe?

With the exception of E36 and C43 on which the AMG bodykit was a delete option, go-faster Benzes have always displayed relatively loud liveries. In the case of the C63 Coupe this means piercing LED daytime driving lights, frame-filling tyres, lowered sports suspension, flared wings with matching macho sills, additional air intakes, spoilers front and rear, bespoke wheels and brake calipers, as well as an overdose of carbonfibre inside and out.
Not wild enough? Then opt for the here-I-come 19in rims and the bi-colour seat trim which was dyed Devil´s red and Hell’s black in the case of our white test car. As one would expect, the cabin is a jazzy cocktail of generously applied hide, laminated lightweight fibres and brushed aluminium.

And what’s it like to drive?

Operated via a one-touch joystick, the AMG Speedshift MCT seven-speed automatic ditches the torque converter in favour of a snappier wet multi-disc clutch. The software includes a Race Start function which burns just enough rubber to catapult you forward with maximum efficiency – and a tortured Michelin soundtrack that is catchy enough to interrupt any conversation.
The C63 AMG Coupe is not only about speed and pace and grunt. It also ticks the boxes labelled excess, experience and emotion. Excess, because as soon as you unlock the chastity belt by pushing the ESP button and holding it down for five seconds, lurid oversteer beckons from dawn to dusk. Experience, because this Merc requires a PhD degree in car control to prevent the tail from wagging the dog. Emotion, because this is a highly emphatic plaything that invariably makes the driver talk to himself in loud, short and clear terms.
The best method to get acquainted with the 442lb ft massaging the rear tyres is to select the Handling mode,  which is MB-speak for 'Caution – the safety net has been slackened!' In the dry, this intermediate stability control setting permits brief sidesteps from 6 to 9pm on the virtual skidpad. In the wet, however, the swept area increases from 6 to 10 or even 11pm, which is audacious to say the least.

Caterham Seven Supersport (2011) CAR review



By Jethro Bovingdon
First Drives
11 August 2011 10:45
Got £20k? Then this lovely Caterham Seven Supersport can be yours. Okay, it’ll be yours as a pile of bits – it’s £19,995 in kit form, but £22,995 fully built – but a Caterham fanatic might describe it as a bargain. So, it’s a bargain then.

Let’s be realistic – what’s so special about this £23k Caterham Seven Supersport?

Your average launch press conference is an extremely dull (if often useful) affair. Words like ‘emotion’ and ‘sportiness’ are thrown around with optimistic abandon and then an engineer will delve deep into the specification – active lane departure, stop/start tech, brake regeneration, sat-nav informed by Google maps, dampers with limitless and nanosecond electronic adjustability… It’s head-spinning and tedious in equal measure. So it’s wonderful that on this occasion I don’t have to regurgitate any of that nonsense, nor will I mention bloody CO2. How liberating. This is the Caterham Supersport. It’s marvellous and it doesn’t come with a windscreen. Or paint.
What does come as standard is genuine dynamic brilliance, a rorty 1.6-litre Ford Sigma engine with 140bhp driving through a sprint ratio 5-speed ‘box, a limited slip differential, lightweight flywheel and wide track front suspension. At each corner are Bilstein shocks and sticky Avon CR500 rubber on dinky 13-inch wheels. The Supersport isn’t quite as wild as the Superlight series, but shares much of their track-focused chassis tuning with a less manic but still punchy little engine. It’s a hilarious little package and weighs just 520kg.

Presumably you’re a bit … exposed?

With just an aeroscreen in place the Supersport requires a helmet unless you love grit and stones being shot at you at ballistic speeds. That might sound absurd (and to be honest I’d wuss out and opt for a windscreen), but when you pull on a tight-fitting Arai, snuggle down into the hard-shelled seats and fire-up the Supersport it feels entirely natural. Shuts out the real world, too. You’re immersed in the sights, smells and sensations buzzing back through the floor, pedals and steering wheel.
I haven’t driven a Caterham for too long and I’m almost shocked by how much fun it is and how much information pelts you from all angles. The ride is very firm, the tiny steering wheels shimmies and tugs, the engine shouts at you. But what’s incredible is how everything you do has an instant and absolutely precise effect on the car. Another millemetre of throttle brings a surge in power, another half degree of steering lock and the Caterham snaps onto line… nothing else offers such instant gratification. Nor such an intimate sense of what’s going on down where rubber meets tarmac. You sit almost over the rear wheels and the Supersport is very, very rear-drive, so every shift in balance happens just behind your hips and you know about it in real time.

What’s the Supersport like to drive?

On the road the Supersport grips tenaciously, you drive it with tiny steering inputs and a real sense that your right foot is just as effective as that steering wheel through corners both fast and slow. A smidge of turn-in understeer is easily cancelled under power and then anything from neutrality to gorgeously progressive oversteer is yours for the taking. Even through 4th gear corners you can feel the rear axle pointing the front of the car to the apex and on the cusp of sliding. It’s intense, physical, occasionally a bit scary and a total riot.
Complaints? The 5-speed ‘box is stiff to operate, erm, it’s a bit windy and… well, sooner or later you’ll start to want more power. Not that the Supersport isn’t terrifically balanced, it’s just that when you’ve felt a Seven sliding under power you want more and more of it.

Land Rover DC100 concept (2011) - it's the new Defender



By Tim Pollard
First Official Pictures
31 August 2011 00:01
The new Land Rover DC100 concept car, ready for a 2011 Frankfurt motor show arrival - points to the company's planned replacement for the Defender 4x4.
Land Rover has now confirmed officially that it'll launch a successor to the Defender in 2015, and the DC100 provides plenty of clues to what we could expect.

So the Land Rover DC100 is the new Defender?

Hang on a minute. Not quite. Land Rover today kicks off a process of deciphering what a Defender should stand for in the new millennium.
The current Defender has changed little for decades, and dwindling sales suggest that Gaydon needs to reinvent the hardcore 4x4 DNA to keep it relevant in these carbon-crunched times.
Insiders suggest that Land Rover must keep the honesty and purity of the Defender, so it appeals to core markets such as the agricultural and country communities, as well as rescue services and third-world buyers.
But how should it stretch up to appeal to car owners more used to creature comforts? That is the challenge that Land Rover faces.
The DC100 is one interpretation for how a future Defender could look. It's short, squat and modern. Are we alone in spotting a hint of Skoda Yeti in the side profile and glass treatment?
At the front, there is a new chopped-circle headlamp graphic, and a fresh design to the Land Rover honeycomb grille. The mud-plugging photo suggests that Land Rover will make sure the DC100 and future Defenders can cope with the brown stuff as well as before.

Land Rover design chief Gerry McGovern on the DC100

'Replacing the iconic Defender is one of the biggest challenges in the automotive design world; it is a car that inspires people worldwide,' he said. 'This isn't a production-ready concept but the beginning of a four-year journey to design a relevant Defender for the 21st century.'
John Edwards, global brand director Land Rover, added: 'Loved the world over for its simple, honest and distinctive design, we are determined that the new Defender will be true to its heritage, while meeting the requirements of a changing global market.
'We plan to engage with existing and potential customers to help us finalise the details of the new vehicle. One thing's for sure, it's going to be an exciting journey, and we can't wait to get going.'

Porsche Cayenne Diesel (2011) CAR review



By Tim Pollard
First Drives
16 August 2011 09:00
The Cayenne is the Porsche we all loved to hate. But is the Cayenne SUV now firmly accepted in the Porsche firmamentr? After all, most now understand the well worn argument that it funds the sports cars we all love. Porsche has built twice as many 4x4s as any other single model line so far this year, for crying out loud.
So it is that the Cayenne has been upgraded again. We're into Mk2 Cayenne territory now, and a series of minor mid-life revisions made in summer 2011 added extra zip to keep it competitive against the likes of the new VW Touareg and updated Range Rover Sport. We drove the Cayenne Diesel, the only realistic model you'll buy in Britain unless you're employed by BP.

Porsche Cayenne Diesel: the tech spec

Cayenne prices start at £42,990 for a petrol V6 these days and you'll pay a four grand premium to step up to the diesel model. There's a familiar 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel under the high bonnet but pepped up with a new turbocharger, revised injectors and improved internal friction for slightly more power at 242bhp and a stout 405lb ft, the latter wafting you along everywhere from 1750-2750rpm.
A quick look at the crucial figures confirms why the diesel is so popular: performance is just 0.1sec away from the base petrol in the 0-62mph sprint –  in a warm-hatch bothering 7.6 seconds – while CO2 is stacks lower at 189g/km (petrol V6 manual = 263g/km) while economy averages 39.2mpg (plays 25.2mpg).With the upgrades Porsche has managed to knock six grammes off the carbon emissions total.
Yes, yes – the diesel is cleaner than the Cayenne S Hybrid. The petrol-electric Porsche SUV manages 193g/km and 34.4mpg, which tells you exactly where the hybrid is aimed at: non-petrol markets, such as the US and Middle East.

Porsche Cayenne Diesel: first impressions

First, some aesthetics. Am I alone in finding the new Cayenne much easier on the eye? The original Mk1 Cayenne was, in the CAR vernacular, a bit of a spudder. The new one is like a bar of soap that's had its hard edges gently washed away, for a softer, more pleasing form.
Slide sideways into the cockpit – it's such a tall, imposing car that access is incredibly easy – and you plonk into an Airbus-style cockpit. We're still not sure about the buttonfest that has befallen modern Porsche cabins; you could be forgiven for thinking you'd ended up at an air museum such as Duxford or the Fleet Air Arm Museum judging by the wall of switches you face. I hope this doesn't ruin the new 991-era 911 Porsche is about to launch at the 2011 Frankfurt show.
But there's no denying the chunky quality on offer. The Cayenne is beautifully assembled and feels hewn from solid. Thankfully you can ignore most of the switchgear festooning that giant centre console, and the large touchscreen is blissfully easy to operate.

The road test bit

The Cayenne Diesel shrinks around you when you drive off. This remains a big car, but it's easy to negotiate city roads thanks to that bluff design and good visibility.
Brim the Cayenne and the trip computer's range soars beyond 600 miles, which is a welcome sight in a big 4x4 in 2011. The dials themselves are a constant reminder you're in a Porsche, and the Cayenne by and large delivers on that promise.
It's swift enough, although you'd never rev the V6 turbodiesel just for the hell for of it. It's a quiet, refined lump and made all the smoother by the incredibly tall gearing of that eight-speed auto. Left in automatic mode, shifts are smooth and slur away in the background; tap into manual override, and I was left with the same feeling I have when riding my 21-speed mountain bike: do I really need all these ratios? And which bloody gear am I in?

Ford Evos concept car (2011) news and pictures



By Guy Bird
First Official Pictures
31 August 2011 06:00
Ford launched its new Evos concept as no less than its new global design direction at a pre-Frankfurt show event in Berlin yesterday.
Pay attention to the new Evos - it sets a blueprint for life after the Kinetic design language that has shaped Fords for the past few years.
All its design big guns were in attendance to reinforce the Evos’s worldwide significance from overall design chief J Mays to his two regional executive design directors, Martin Smith and Moray Callum. Mays declared: 'The Evos gives a clear message about where Ford design is heading – shaping vehicles that are fun to drive, have a strong premium visual appeal and are stunningly beautiful.'

So how has Ford’s face changed with the new Evos concept car?

The big, inverted trapezoidal front grille already seen on the Fiesta and Focus has moved higher up the car and replaced the extra moustache-like slim grille above. The Blue Oval is smaller, less dome-like and now tucked on the bonnet. Much slimmer and more angular front lights complete the look and, Mays boldly said, will make the cut on future production cars with scant change. 

The side of the Evos looks pretty special too...

The fastback, four-door proportions of the Ford Evos feature two straight and taut side feature lines and a pumped-up rear wheelarch akin to the best-looking coupes but Mays reassured that these details along with the raked-back window graphic will be scalable up or down across Ford’s whole range – from sedans to crossovers.

Isn’t there more than a hint of Aston Martin about the design cues on the Evos though?

Head of the exterior team Stefan Lamm begs to differ. 
He told CAR: 'It’s a compliment to be compared to such premium brands but the inverted trapezoidal grille is definitely part of Ford’s DNA.'  

The quadruple gull-wing doors look great too but won’t make production. Remind me of the point of the Evos again?

Martin Smith told CAR that the Evos is 'a deliberately ambiguous format about the length of a Focus Estate with the track of a Mondeo,' and purely designed to show a new design direction.
A more pre-production concept set to debut at Detroit in January 2012 and heralding the next Mondeo/Fusion will reveal more.

Infiniti FX designed by Sebastian Vettel (2011)



By Tim Pollard
First Official Pictures
01 September 2011 12:59
This bespoke one-off Infiniti FX has been designed by reigning F1 champion Sebastian Vettel - and it'll be at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show.
Vettel, who drives for Red Bull Racing, is also an ambassador for Nissan's upmarket car division. Infiniti is a sponsor of RBR, and so Vettel is often seen at Infiniti events. You can watch him discussing his car with Nissan design chief Shiro Nakamura at the 2011 Geneva motor show in our video below.

So what's new on the Infiniti FX Sebastian Vettel?

It's the fastest, lightest FX yet, says Infiniti, and it'll top 186mph.
Infiniti has taken a regular FX50S and made a raft of - as yet unspecified - changes to the engine, suspension and body.
Red Bull Racing has also put the FX through its wind tunnel to tweak up the aerodynamics. These first official photographs reveal a carbon-effect rear diffuser and a high-mounted boomerang spoiler.

So it's the next Infiniti special edition?

Probably. Infiniti wants to get the full benefit of its association with Red Bull, and we've already predicted Red Bull-badged performance versions in the spirit of the Renault Clio Williams.
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn recently told CAR why Infiniti had ploughed considerable sums of money into the Red Bull sponsorship deal. 'Infiniti has a very low level of awareness, that’s one of its big problems. When people hear about the car, when people walk into showrooms, practically 50% are transformed into customers. Which means our problem is awareness.
'People need to know what an Infinti is, what products it sells. What is the best way to make people aware of a brand? Well, Formula One is a great place. So we started to look at F1... 
'I was told by my team that awareness in Europe for Infiniti was about 2%. We are expecting that after the first year of F1, it’s going to move to 4%. That is going to continue to increase.'
The full story of the FX by Sebastian Vettel will be issued closer to the 13 September 2011 press day at the IAA, or Frankfurt motor show as we call it round these parts.