Monday, July 30, 2007

Opel Donington

Fantasy Worlds

I'm 35 and I love video games. I can't help it. Can you blame me though. My generation grew up with them. I've had them all - Atari, Intellivision, Vectrex (look it up), Nintendo, Sega, PS1, PS2, XBOX, and XBOX360. I think modern games are great. Many are better than a lot of hollywood movies and much more involving since you have control of the action. Lots of people though don't get it and think they are just for kids. I mostly play 3 types of games - shooters, sports games and car games.

The car games are probably my favorite though. Lately, I've been addicted to Forza Motorsport 2 for the XBOX360. I spent about 10 hours playing just this weekend. It's a standard racing game but the amount of detail and customization in the game is great. Realistic damage and physics add to the realism of the game. Hundreds of cars are available and customizable with everything from paint, decals, rims, tires, body add-ons and various speed equipment. It's really amazing. There is racing against game generated opponents and there is also on-line play. There is also an on-line auction area where you can buy and sell your cars.

Another great driving game that I love on the XBOX360 is Test Drive Unlimited. This game isn't just racing, its a whole alternate reality. The game takes place on the island of Hawaii. The creators of the game have mapped all of the roadways on the island and you can "free roam" anywhere you want. The game starts with you arriving at the airport with some money for a house and a car. You grab a rental and head out to make your purchases. As you progress through the game you come across races and challenges that help you earn money to buy more houses, cars, motorcycles and clothes. The best part is the on-line aspect where players from all over the world are all just cruising around on the roads at the same time going about their business. You can challenge each other to races, formal or just a spontaneous drag race or game of highway tag, you can just sit and chat or form a car club. It's great fun and really a complete fantasy world. Right now in the game I've got about 20 houses, hundreds of cars and over $1million in the bank. If it were only real!

I just like the escapism that these games provide. I love playing after a day at work. It helps me relax and forget about whatever has been bugging me for a few hours a day. My wife doesn't get it but it's something I just really love. Plus it helps me bond with my son and that's the best part.

PSX Racing DTM 2002

You missed the Show?
No Problem, here is the full multibc coverage of our Race!

Have Fun!

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Concept Car: Mitsubishi cX

Today Mitsubishi Motors unveiled a new SUV concept which is set to be revealed at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor show. With an emphasis on environmental concerns, the SUV will be powered by a new high-output, 1.8-liter clean diesel engine, featuring a variable geometry (VG) turbocharger for optimum boost control and a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) with diesel particulate filter (DPF) in the exhaust system for compliance with Europe's Euro 5 emission standards.

Just like the forthcoming Evo X, the Concept cX features an electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system and fat 225/45R19 tires. Also as in the Evo X, Mitsubishi's Twin Clutch SST (Sport Shift Transmission) transmits the power, offering performance as well as good fuel economy and low emissions. Mitsubishi is also touting the environmental technologies inside the car, including extensive use of what Mitsubishi calls "Green Plastic," made from bamboo and other plant-based resins. The compact cX is short,. At 161.4 inches, it's 6 shorter than a Volkswagen R32 coupe.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

...more Ferrari Action

Mercedes E-Class AMG Sedan spy photos

Mercedes is preparing the new generation E-Class code named W 212, for release in mid 2009. Although, there is nothing new to report since our last installment of E 63 AMG spy photos, here are the most recent photos of the heavily disguised prototype. Our latest spy photos show an E-Class AMG prototype hammering around the famous Nurburgring racetrack.

The disguise on the test car is still hiding details of the new styling which feature elements from the just launched C-Class, however, we can see the overall shape resembling the new S-Class.

After considerable quality problems with the current E-Class, Mercedes is now striving hard to increase the quality standard of the new model to its highest possible level.

The next E-Class will offer a wide selection of engines, ranging from 184hp 4-cylinder to a 544hp V8 petrol engines, and 136hp 4-cylinder to 354hp V8 diesels. One can expect the usual V6 and V8-engines, plus a normally aspirated, 500+ HP 6.3-liter V8 for the E 63 by AMG.

Mercedes will abandon SBC in favour of conventional brakes, although they will boast features on all variants such as wet-weather disc wiping and wheel-selective cornering brake control. Optional ceramic-composite discs could be introduced top-down.

The next E-class will copy the S-Class's wheel-arch extensions, rising character line below the door handles, massive bumpers, and greenhouse. A more sculpted wide-frame grille, the more geometric nasal air intakes, and the wedge-shaped profile should give W212 a sportier stance. Actually, early styling models show a certain affinity for the most recent efforts from Lexus - such as the rectangular quad headlamps, the C-pillar treatment, and the taillights. This is, of course, ironic given that the Lexus LS is famous for copying Mercedes, but Stuttgart still has plenty of time to hone the shape.

Driver assistance in general is a major theme for W212. Expect lane-departure warnings, an eye-movement monitor, traffic-sign identification, road-condition sensors, and stability control that accounts for crosswinds, camber changes, and tire wear. We expect the usual V6- and V8-engines, plus a normally aspirated, 500-plus-bhp 6.3-liter V8 for the E63 AMG model.

Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit Spied

It might be the weekend, but Volkswagen�s engineers are hard at work out in the Death Valley sun, likely hoping to get a testing session completed without detection from our spy shooters. Fortunately, the team at KGP Photography recognizes no timetables, and they managed to catch some of the first clear shots of VW�s next-generation Golf/Rabbit hatch. Judging by a certain engineer�s hand signals, we�re guessing that VW was less-than-pleased to see our boys and their cameras.

The new look (or what�s visible below the camouflage, at any rate), is unlikely to jar VW enthusiasts, as it appears to be rather predictable evolution of the current hatch. KGP notes that this prototype does evince �some more involved surface development, with a more chiseled character line running along the car�s waistline.� Given how pivotal this model is for VW (it�s a particularly huge seller in European markets), it isn�t surprising that Wolfsburg isn�t keen to make a daring design statement, but we�re hoping for some interesting front- and rear-end treatments to give this sixth-generation car a more dynamic look.

While no official date has been given for the next iteration of the VW stalwart, the model is expected to see European showrooms in 2008�far sooner than American dealers, who probably won�t see the car until 2009 or 2010. This makes a degree of sense given that the current Mark V model has been on sale abroad since 2003, but only on offer (as the Rabbit) in the U.S. since last summer.

As before, a range of four- and six-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines is planned, with both manual and dual-clutch DSG transmissions on offer.

What the spy photographers saw:

We caught VW engineers in the midst of unloading a prototype for the next-generation Golf (renamed the Rabbit in the U.S.) in the middle of the desert�and they were none too pleased about it. Perhaps they thought that by working weekends, they might get a pass from the car spies, but that wasn�t the case. This new model will represent the sixth-generation of the Golf, and the car�s overall shape remains true to the familiar Golf styling. This prototype displays some more involved surface development, with a more chiseled character line running along the car�s waistline. The door handles no longer intersect with that character line, suggesting that is juts out more abruptly creating stronger belt line shelf. The lower side sills also get a newly sculpted flare that adds a little aggression to the stance. It also appears that the C-pillar gets a more prominent dog- legged kink. It�s not quite BMW�s trademark Hoffmeister kink on the 1-series hatch, but it�s heading a bit more in that direction.

The camouflage on the C-pillar and the rear hatch seems to suggest a new arrangement between the pillar and the rear glass, suggesting that the backlight on the next-gen Golf may have a slight wrap-around effect.

Changes to the Golf have always been evolutionary, and this occasion is nothing different. Earlier reports suggested that VW would be updating the current platform to enable more cost-efficient assembly, meaning some combination of lower price and higher profits. The overall look of this car would suggest that those reports might have been accurate. The new design appears to be a thoughtful massaging of the familiar Golf cues, instead of a revolutionary makeover.

Jeep Cherokee/Liberty production starts!

The All New 2008 Jeep Liberty made its debut earlier this year and now Chrysler Group have announced the start of production at its Toledo North Assembly Plant (TNAP) in Ohio.

The addition of the Liberty to the Toledo Manufacturing line represents a major expansion which will see 2 different models (the liberty and the Dodge Nitro) built on the same production line, allowing Chrysler to bring new models to the market quicker.

Chrysler have parted company with $3.9 billion including $1.2 billion to build the original Toledo North Assembly Plant which opened in 2001 and a further $2.1 billion for Chrysler�s Toledo Supplier Park, home of the all-new 2007 Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited four-door.

The Liberty will feature Command-Trac and the all-new Selec-Trac II. - two Jeep Trail Rated four-wheel-drive systems. The on-road ride and handling have been improved and refined with the new independent front suspension, new five-link rear suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. The Liberty�s exterior has been redesigned, and takes on a more rugged, classic Jeep look that is sure to captivate the attention of current Jeep Liberty owners and broaden its consumer appeal.

Press Release:

Addition of all-new 2008 Jeep� Liberty part of major expansion in Chrysler Group�s Toledo Manufacturing capabilities:

Flexible manufacturing allows multiple products to be produced at one plant. Chrysler Group today announced the production launch of the all-new 2008 Jeep� Liberty which is being built at Chrysler Group�s Toledo North Assembly Plant (TNAP) in Toledo, Ohio. The all-new Jeep Liberty is being built alongside the Dodge Nitro which began production in August 2006.

The 2008 Jeep Liberty continues Chrysler Group�s expanding Flexible Manufacturing Strategy (FMS), allowing the Company to bring new vehicles to market quickly and efficiently; and enable its assembly plants to manufacture multiple products on one assembly line.

The Toledo North Plant was extensively retooled to manage the complexity of building two different models on one production line. Investments included multiple plant upgrades, improving quality, productivity and worker ergonomics. Last year, more than 160,000 square feet were added to the plant floor to enhance body and assembly processes. The all-new Liberty carried an investment 85 percent less than previous products. The vehicle is the second model of a two-model flexible manufacturing process implemented at TNAP.
The retooling of TNAP is part of $3.9 billion spent on Toledo manufacturing capabilities that include an original $1.2 billion to build Toledo North (opening in 2001) and $2.1 billion for Chrysler�s Toledo Supplier Park, home of the all-new 2007 Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited four-door.

�With two new modern plants and four new products, Toledo has become a focal point of Chrysler Group�s flexible manufacturing capabilities,� said Byron Green, Vice President � Truck and Activity Vehicle Assembly, Chrysler Group. �For years Toledo has been the home of Jeep, with the legendary Jeep Wrangler and the all-new Wrangler Unlimited. Now, the all-new Jeep Liberty continues the Jeep tradition.�

All-new from the ground up for 2008, the Jeep Liberty remains true to its legendary 4x4 heritage by offering two Jeep Trail Rated� four-wheel-drive systems � Command-Trac� and the all-new Selec-Trac� II. On-road ride and handling have been improved and refined with the new independent front suspension, new five-link rear suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. The Liberty�s exterior has been redesigned, and takes on a more rugged, classic Jeep look that is sure to captivate the attention of current Jeep Liberty owners and broaden its consumer appeal. Inside, cargo and storage space increases and seat comfort improves. Making its world debut is the new Sky Slider� full-open canvas roof, an industry-exclusive; giving the Jeep Liberty that �Only in a Jeep� open-air experience. Remote start, rain-sensing wipers, memory seats and mirrors, and express up/down windows are added to the vehicle�s ever-growing list of available features and options. There are two models � Jeep Liberty Sport and Jeep Liberty Limited.

Flexible Manufacturing Strategy (FMS):

Chrysler Group Flexible Manufacturing Strategy allows the Company to produce a higher quality product faster and for lower cost. To balance production with demand, the FMS approach allows the Company to efficiently build vehicles that take advantage of a market niche, and to quickly shift production volumes between different models within a single plant or among multiple plants.

FMS is being implemented product by product and plant by plant across the Chrysler Group. New investment is introducing state-of-the-art technology to Chrysler Group plants, enabling the company to produce more than one vehicle on a production line and conduct rolling launches of new models. Additionally, Chrysler Group workforce is becoming more flexible with the implementation of team concepts and an increased emphasis on supporting assembly line operators.

The Liberty assembly process has the capability of being installed and launched without facility downtime due to innovative 2+1 flexibility implemented with the introduction of the Dodge Nitro. The innovative technology allows the production of two different upper bodies to be produced simultaneously on the same assembly line.


At the core of the new manufacturing process is a body shop comprising 150 new robots instead of the vehicle-specific heavy tooling that was previously used. The door, hood and lift gate assembly system is new, as are the side aperture assembly systems. Only the robots� end effectors, or �hands,� need to change in order to build the different models. That tool change is done automatically, within the time it takes to cycle from one vehicle to the next. TNAP is flexible enough to vary production mix between two products anywhere from 0 to 100 percent of each model. A third model can also be piloted � or test-built � at the same time, helping reduce the time needed to make new-model changeovers.

Material Flow:

New methods of material flow are being implemented to manage the complexity of two models being built on one assembly line. An inbound part sequencing center is housed in the adjoining Stickney complex and manages more than 1,600 different parts that are used in the Dodge Nitro, Jeep Liberty and Toledo Supplier Park Jeep Wrangler two-door and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited four-door build processes. In addition to sequencing, this center provides parts metering, kitting and container management to both Toledo North and Toledo Supplier Park Assembly Plants. Additionally, a significant portion of the TNAP facility is fork-truck-free, as dollies provide materials to production areas, improving both employee safety and productivity measurements.

Smart Manufacturing:

A new workplace organizational model, called Smart Manufacturing, is increasing the flexibility of the TNAP workforce, while fostering greater creativity and innovation from plant employees. This model is being implemented throughout the Chrysler Group Manufacturing organization. In addition to extensive training, the new workplace model lets employees design their own workstations. These changes provide a better work environment for employees and give increased support to assembly line team members.

"With the all-new Jeep Liberty and the new Dodge Nitro that was introduced here last year, the employees of TNAP are pleased to be contributing toward the Chrysler Group�s goal of world-class operational excellence" said Luis Rivas, Plant Manager � Toledo North Assembly Plant, Chrysler Group.

Toledo North Assembly Plant The Toledo (Ohio), Complex, made up of the Toledo North Assembly Plant and the Toledo Supplier Park, has built Jeep-brand vehicles since the 1940s. The Toledo North Assembly Plant is 2.14 million square feet and builds the all-new Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro. The Toledo Supplier Park location is 1.502 million square feet and builds the all-new Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Both plants are represented by United Auto Workers Local 12.

Commitment to the Community Chrysler Group has a significant impact on Toledo and the state of Ohio with 6,238 employees statewide who generate $465 million in annual wages and provide more than $26 million in taxable income to the state. Chrysler Group, a good neighbor good citizen, sponsors various community events through its philanthropic arm, the DaimlerChrysler Corporation Fund, including the Art Tatum Jazz Heritage Festival, Toledo Urban League, City Youth Entrepreneur Program, Toledo Opera, the Toledo Museum of Art, Valentine Theatre and the Diamante Awards.

New Car: 2008 Mini Clubman

This is the new Mini Clubman and although we�ve been snapping prototypes testing around the world for a few years, the official photos are still a bit of a shock.

The Clubman will look like nothing else on sale when it�s launched on 10 November, though you�ll be able to see it at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

As this photo shows, the Mini Clubman will have van-style twin rear doors, each with their own wiper and a cut-out that frames the rear light cluster. This avoids the expensive problem that BMW encountered with damping the headlights on the first-gen new Mini.

Indeed it does, but you can just make out the 240mm longer body. And if you look closely you can also see a rear suicide door, as per the Rolls-Royce Phantom and Mazda RX-8. But like the RX-8, and unlike the Rolls, the self-styled Clubdoor can only be opened when the front driver's door is open. This is for safety�s sake, apparently.

However, the Clubman has clearly been developed for left-hand drive markets, so the suicide door is on the right-hand side. This means that UK drivers get the short straw and both doors will always open into traffic for any passenger drop-offs. Mini says it couldn't engineer doors on both sides, because of the fuel filler arrangement. A shame.

Like the regular Mini, the Clubman will come in Cooper D (110bhp), Cooper (120bhp) and Cooper S (175bhp) guises. All engines will also come with BMW�s brake regeneration and stop/start technology � all aimed at lowering emissions and fuel consumption.

Mini has taken customisation a step further with the Clubman, and whilst you can�t have wooden panels (though who would bet against them appearing soon?), the rear pillars are now the same colour as the roof. The roof comes in silver and black as standard, though you can pay for a different colour, but it remains to be seen what hue they pillars will be if you have the Union Jack option.

BMW will charge �1200 more for the Clubman over the hatchback, meaning that the cheapest Clubman is the petrol Cooper costing �14,235; the priciest is the turbocharged Cooper S at �17,210.

Audi A7 sketch leaked!

Ingolstadt's slinky answer to the Mercedes CLS. The A7 is due to land in showrooms in September 2009 and will be previewed by a concept at the 2008 New York Auto Show.

For any manufacturer to launch a successful model against the CLS, it must turn heads like a scantily-unclad A-list catwalk model. So the A7 will be a sleek, four-door based on the mechanical package of the next A6. And our world exclusive official design sketch, leaked to CAR Online by Audi moles, shows precisely how the Audi will look, with a low-slung profile and a gracefully swept-back stance.

Audis are slowly garnering a reputation as better drivers' cars, after a succession of smash hits (RS4, R8... is the jury still out on the A5?) and from what we know about the new A6/7, it looks like they should be more alert handlers than today's exec. Like on the new A4/A5 family arriving this year, the A7 will get a new steering rack, multi-link suspension and a rear-bias quattro system to quell the apex-busting understeer that's blighted Audi saloons for decades.

Four-cylinder power is off limits in the A7, and so is W12 propulsion. Six- and eight-cylinder power is flavour of the day, with as many as six different engines expected: 3.0-litre V6 and 4.2-litre V8 FSI petrols, topped by Lambo-sourced V10 in normally aspirated and twin-turbo form for the S7 and RS7.

Prefer filling up at the black pump? Then expect 3.0-litre V6 and 4.2-litre V8 TDI units. Pricewise, the natural home for the A7 is the middle ground which separates the A6 from the A8, so the bulk of the models should be positioned in the �35,000-�50,000 bracket. Naturally, in this niche-filling, expansionist era at Ingolstadt, there could be a soft-top, too.This single image, leaked from top brass at Audi exclusively to CAR Online, suggests Audi could have an attractive big coupe on its hands. But it won't have it all its own way; Mercedes is readying a facelift for the CLS in 2008, before an all-new replacement arrives in 2011.

Source: CAR Magazine

Ferrari F2007

Thursday, July 26, 2007

F1 2007 N�rburgring

Chrysler Changes To Lifetime Powertrain Warranty

Autoweek is reporting (link to article) that the Chrysler group, on the verge of becoming an independent company again, is changing their powertrain warranty coverage to extend the lifetime of the vehicle for all 2006, 2007 and 2008 vehicles. Unfortunately diesels and SRT vehicles will be excluded. The article does not mention this but I have read elsewhere that this will only apply to the original owner and will not be transferable. The rest of the vehicle will still be under the 3-year/36,000 mile warranty. This is apparently a response to GM's 5-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty.

If any manufacturer needs something like this, it's Chrysler. Real or imagined, I think most people seem to see them as the least reliable of the American manufacturers. I know I do. This is partly because at one time they pretty much were. Though the mid 70s through the 80s were a low point for all American auto manufacturers, which they are all still trying to live down, Chrysler in particular was stand out bad. I remember my father buying the only new Chrysler product he would ever purchase in his life, a 1980 Reliant K. Yes the K car which was supposed to resurrect Chrysler and did for the most part because it was cheap. And cheap it was. It was the only new car I have ever seen that would run poorly when it rained out. The sunroof leaked, the doors at times would not latch closed, it was brand new and it was a mess. The worst car decision my father has ever made. Interestingly enough, someone was stupid enough to steal it.

Luckily for them though, Chrysler does seem to have some of the best designers in the business. Cars like the Viper, Magnum, 300C and upcoming Challenger are fantastic designs and sell in spite of these perceived quality issues. This change in warranty coverage can only help sales.

Teaser: 2009 Kia Mohave/Borrego

Kia Motors have released some official teaser pictures of their all new full sized SUV. Because we weren't expecting the new SUV to be unveiled so soon it could have a world debut at the Detroit motorshow in 2008.

Teaser: 2008 Kia Pro-Cee'd

Kia Motors Corporation has released the first preview image of its exciting new Kia three-door hatchback model which will make its World Premiere at this year�s Frankfurt International Motor Show on 11 September. The new model will be named Pro-cee�d.

Based closely on the earlier �pro_cee�d� concept shown at the Paris Motor Show in 2006, the new production model has been developed by Kia�s design team in Europe under the direction of Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer.

�Longer, lower and lighter than its five-door sister car, the new Kia Pro-cee�d is going to be a great drive,� enthused Mr Jean-Charles Lievens, Senior Vice President Kia Motors Europe. �Combining real style and genuine practicality, our new three-door cee�d is sure to delight existing Kia customers and attract a new group of European consumers who have not yet considered our brand.�

Manufactured in Slovakia, Pro-cee�d will be the third member of the Kia cee�d family, joining the popular cee�d five-door and the soon to be released cee�d SW models to make Kia an especially strong challenger for C-segment sales in Europe.

Production of the Pro-cee�d model range is scheduled to begin in November with first customer sales during the early months of 2008.

Fiat 500 production expands

Fiat�s got Europe whipped into a frenzy over its new 500 supermini, so much so that it�s just announced a plan to increase the number it can make by 20,000 cars a year.

Turin�s re-imagined city car is proving a sales phenomenon. Fiat took 10,000 deposits on the car on the first day it went on sale. To date it has 57,000 dealer orders from Italy and France, the only territories where you can currently order one; that means almost all of the cars Fiat was intending to produce this year have already been snapped up.

So understandably, Italy�s biggest car-maker is going to ramp up the 500 factory in Tychy, Poland. It will now knock out 67,000 units this year, and 140,000 units in 2008. It could rise even further in 2009, by which time the 500 sister car, the new Ford Ka, will be on sale.

The order books open for us Brits on 15 September, and the increase in production will mean we stand at least a distant chance of getting a new 500 sometime in 2008.
Source: Autocar UK