Monday, February 15, 2010

Audi A8 2010 Review

2010 Audi A8 Review
MSRP: From $74,550

Although it may lack the snob appeal of some of its fellow Germans, the 2010 Audi A8 gives up nothing when it comes to luxury, performance and craftsmanship.

Luxurious and handsome cabin, excellent driving dynamics, standard all-wheel drive.

Prestige factor not quite equal to chief rivals, limited engine choice, outdated MMI interface.

What's New for 2010
For the 2010 A8, Audi has discontinued the 12-cylinder engine, making the V8 the only one offered. The standard wheelbase version gets 19-inch wheels and a revised trunk lid with integral spoiler. The long-wheelbase L version now has massaging front seats as standard as well as contrasting stitching and piping for the upholstery.

2010 Audi A8 Vehicle Overview

For many of the wealthy among us, a full-size luxury sedan is more than a way of getting to soirees, art gallery openings and the cottage in the Hamptons. In addition to providing sumptuous, speedy transport, a luxury sedan must also provide prestige. And there are plenty of obvious choices that trumpet that message to the masses loud and clear. But for those who prefer a more understated aesthetic, the 2010 Audi A8 is a compelling proposition, even if it won't necessarily raise as many eyebrows in the country club parking lot.

As it always has, Audi's flagship features an impeccably finished cabin, powerful yet refined performance and polished road manners. Audi's adaptive air suspension handles interstate cruises and serpentine mountain roads with equal ease, while the standard all-wheel drive provides an extra measure of confidence when the weather turns nasty on the way to the ski lodge. Even now, in its last year of this generation (next year brings a redesigned A8), this Audi's timeless styling manages to look muscular and elegant at the same time.

And yet, despite its many charms, including a price tag thousands lower than its rivals, the 2010 Audi A8 trails the BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS 460 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class in the sales chart race. This seemingly illogical situation can likely be attributed to the A8's slight but undeniable lack of cachet compared with its chief German rivals, as well as its inability to compete with the LS 460's sterling reputation for quality. But if one can set aside these mostly perceived deficiencies, the A8 is certainly worth a close look.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Audi A8 comes in two trims: standard and long-wheelbase L (which provides more room for rear seat passengers).

Both A8 models come standard with alloy wheels (19-inch on standard A8, 18-inch on L trim), xenon headlights, a sunroof, Audi's Multi Media Interface (MMI) system, a navigation system, cruise control, leather upholstery, 16-way power front seats, heated front and rear seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a parking system with a rearview camera, keyless ignition/entry, a power trunk opener, power door closers, Bluetooth and a 12-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with satellite radio, iPod connectivity and a CD changer.

The L adds four-zone climate control, ventilated/massaging front seats, contrasting stitching and piping on the upholstery and lumbar adjustment for all passengers.

Options include 20-inch wheels, carbon-fiber interior trim (standard A8), massaging front seats (standard A8), a solar-powered venting sunroof, upgraded leather interior trim, a 1,000-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system and a Technology package that adds adaptive cruise control, a lane departure warning system and a blind-spot warning system.

Powertrains and Performance

Both the standard and L models come with a 4.2-liter V8 that makes 350 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. It comes matched to a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission that drives all four wheels through Audi's Quattro AWD system.

Despite its substantial size, this is a quick luxury sedan. Either version can hit 60 mph in the low 6-second range and cover the quarter-mile in the low 14s. Fuel economy ratings are the same for both at 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.

Standard on all 2010 Audi A8s are antilock brakes, stability and traction control, full-length side curtain airbags, front- and rear-seat side airbags and active front headrests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The interior of the A8 provides first-class comfort, especially in the L version, which boasts a limolike 42 inches of rear legroom. In typical Audi fashion, the fit and finish is superb, with generous amounts of wood, Alcantara and aluminum accents lending a luxurious ambience.

With a 16-way power-adjustable driver seat (including upper seatback angle) and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, finding a comfortable driving position is easy for folks of all body types. The dash is uncluttered by buttons thanks to Audi's MMI, which handles everything from the navigation and audio systems to the adjustment of the driver-selectable air suspension. Though it is intuitive for the most part, the A8 uses the older version of MMI, and cycling through the network of menus remains a labor-intensive process.

Driving Impressions

Whether taking off from a stoplight or jetting up to cruising speed on the freeway, the 2010 Audi A8 always puts a solid rush of power on tap. Moreover, the powerful and easily modulated brakes have no problem reining in this luxury liner. While the air suspension works just fine in automatic mode, the "Dynamic" setting tightens up body control considerably, making the A8 feel more like a sport sedan than a large flagship luxury car.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dodge Viper SRT10 2010

At the heart of the 2010 Dodge Viper SRT10 remains the venerable 8.4-liter (510 cu. in.) V-10 engine that produces 600 (450 kW) horsepower and 560 lb.-ft. (760 Nm) of torque. Benchmark performance numbers, including 0-60 mph in less than 4 seconds, quarter-mile time in the mid 11-second range and 0-100-0 mph in 11 seconds flat, and a top speed of 202 mph, continue to prove how the serious, race-inspired, street-legal two-seater performs without apology.

Stopping power is another carefully developed part of the Viper SRT10 equation, with 14-inch brake rotors gripped by Brembo 44/40 dual-opposing piston calipers in the front and Brembo 42/38 dual-opposing calipers in the rear. This system results in world-class braking performance of 60-0 mph in less than 100 feet.

With the introduction of two new exterior colors–Toxic Orange Pearl Coat and Bright Silver Metallic Clear Coat–Dodge Viper SRT10 is now available in 12 different colors – the most regularly available choices in one model year. And with six stripe options in the new wider configuration, five different interior color combinations, four different wheel choices and three available interior bezels.

Numerous special, limited-edition models are planned for the 2010 model year, including the Dodge Viper ACR 1:33 Edition, which will pay tribute to the new production car lap record set on Nov. 24 at Laguna Seca raceway. The unique two-tone Black Clear Coat/Red Clear Coat exterior color scheme on this model is the opposite form of the original Viper ACR. Interior highlights include piano black console bezels with red gauge highlights complemented with red accent stitching in the seats. Only 33 cars will be produced as 1:33 Edition Viper ACR models.

The 2010 Vooodoo-edition Viper ACR will feature an all Black Clear Coat exterior with a Graphite Driver’s Stripe outlined in red. Only 10 cars will be produced with the unique striping on both the exterior, as well as on the steering wheel.

Additional special edition models will be announced closer to their individual introductions. Pricing on the 2010 Dodge Viper lineup also will be announced at a later date.

Carlsson C25 Super-GT Concept 2010

Carlsson presents an own developed automobile at this year’s Geneva Motor Show – the Carlsson C25 Limited Super-GT. The concept of this Super-GT is based on the vision of combining maximum driving performance with an entirely new design and high exclusiveness. The result is a breathtaking and beautiful sports coupĂ© with 753 hp in a limited edition of only 25 cars world-wide.

The performance data of the six litre V12 Bi-Turbo is impressive. The high-performance aggregate with a motor management optimisation patented by Carlsson renders 753 hp (554 kW) and allows fast acceleration as well as smooth travels at lower speeds. Also responsible for the perfect performance evolvement is the elaborately developed stainless steel exhaust system with ends in four edgy pipes at the back. The power catapults the C25 with a torque of 1320 Newton metres at 3750 r.p.m. which is electronically limited to 1,150 Newton metres from 0 to 100 km/h in only 3.7 seconds and achieves a maximum speed of 352 km/h.

The Carlsson C25 Super-GT Concept also comes with an ultra-light and forged wheels 1/10 UL in the dimensions 9,5×20 and 12×20 inches have been especially designed for the C25 and are equipped with high performance tyres measuring 265/30 at the front and 325/25 at the rear live axle.

Infiniti FX Limited Edition 2010

Infiniti has unveiled the new limited edition of FX37S and FX50S called, simply, the Infiniti FX Limited Edition. The Infiniti FX37S Limited Edition is powered by the 3.7-litre V6 engine that develops 320PS which the Infiniti FX50S Limited Edition is powered by a more potent 5.0-litre V8 which outputs 390PS. The Infiniti FX Limited Edition comes with an Obsidian Black paintwork as standard, but the Moonlight White pearl is offered as an option.

Based on the already dramatic looking FX37S and FX50S, the Limited Edition features striking Black Obsidian ‘Scratch Guard’ paintwork as standard, with equally distinctive Moonlight White pearl metallic available as an option. Unique 21 inch ‘Turbine’ design alloy wheels are finished in dark Graphite, as are the radiator grille, air vents and roof rails.

The Infiniti philosophy of Modern Luxury is exemplified in the Infiniti FX Limited Edition’s stylish and comprehensively appointed interior. From the supple Graphite leather upholstery complete with quilted stitching, to the opulent Alcantara® trimmed headlining and roof pillars and wool carpets, only the finest natural materials are used. Illuminated ‘Infiniti’ door entry guards are also unique to the Infiniti FX Limited Edition.

The Infiniti FX37S Limited Edition price starts at 55,855 GBP while the Infiniti FX50S Limited Edition price starts at 62,035 GBP.

Mazda MAZDA5 2010

National Base Price

Mazda MAZDA5 2010
Sport 4dr Minivan (2.3L 4cyl 5M)

National Base Price (excludes destination charge)
MSRP $17,995 Invoice $16,865

The 2010 Mazda 5 is a smart alternative for families interested in trading a full-size minivan's substantial utility for a lower price tag, greater maneuverability and lower fuel costs.

More nimble and maneuverable than full-size minivans, convenient sliding doors, manageable size for small families, low price.

Kids-only third row, no seven-seat option, engine can run out of steam when fully loaded.

Driving Impressions
The 2010 Mazda 5's four-cylinder engine is adequately powerful with a driver and youngster aboard, but when fully loaded, the 5 can start to wheeze. However, the 5 exhibits a nimble nature that will have it running tight little circles around conventional minivans. The sharp, communicative steering is particularly impressive. However, the 5 is still a tallish vehicle, and it certainly feels more top-heavy and tippy than the compact sedan on which it's based. The 2010 Mazda 5 gains stability and traction control as standard equipment.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Monster Ford Fiesta Ready for Rally Race Debut

Ford has unveiled the Fiesta rally car for the Monster World Rally Team.

While details are limited, Ford stated the car is "based on the race-winning European Rallycross Fiesta prepared by Olsbergs Motorsports Evolution." Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter Duratec engine which is capable of producing over 490 hp (365 kW), but due to a series-required turbo-inlet restrictor, the Fiesta will only be able to crank out 330 hp (246 kW).

Set to be driven by action sports figure, rally driver and DC Shoes co-founder, Ken Block, the Fiesta will compete in seven Rally America events this year. According to Block, "I am very excited to finally be in the Fiesta.

Ford has a great platform with the Fiesta, and I can't wait to see what I can do in the Rally America championship and at the X Games later this year."

Honda Begins Operation of New Solar Hydrogen Station

Honda has launched a new solar-powered hydrogen fueling station capable of refilling fuel cell electric vehicles overnight. The device, under development for ten years, could theoretically be installed in the home garage of any future customer.

The single-unit station produces 0.5 kilograms of hydrogen over an eight-hour period. Sadly, many consumers would likely not find this to be purposeful in many situations. 0.5 kg of hydrogen will only move the Honda FCX Clarity a total of 30 miles.

Honda's new home station is not meant to replace commercial filling stations, which will still be necessary to fully fill a vehicle quickly, often in less than five-minutes. The slow-fill home-based station would be used to reduce costs to the end user.

A full "fast fill" at a commercial location would provide the Honda FCX Clarity with a 285-mile range, according to a press release. However, the FCX Clarity's range is listed at 240 miles on the official website for the vehicle.

Honda claims the fuel is produced more efficiently in the new home station than previous solar units, with enough hydrogen created for a typical urban or suburban commute. This efficiency was increased by 25% thanks to a smaller and lighter "high differential pressure electrolyser," replacing a system made up of an electrolyser and separate compressor.

Because the system is missing a storage unit, the station will only produce hydrogen when a vehicle is connected. Although some would no doubt prefer to refuel quickly by tapping into a storage tank, the tank would likely prevent the system from being installed at many homes due to land-usage and zoning rules.

The system's solar panels hook up to the grid, sending electricity during daylight if a vehicle is not hooked up. Honda says most customers would use off-peak electricity to power the station when recharging overnight.

Ford stricken with Toyota's pedal recall

Ford stricken with Toyota's pedal recall - halts production of Transit in China
Ford has initiated a stop work order on a full-size van because it uses the same gas pedal believed to be the cause of sudden, uncontrolled acceleration in several Toyota models. Roughly 1,600 Ford Transit Classic diesel vehicles for the Chinese market have been assembled since production began in December.

Production was frozen on the Transit Classic, which is built by a joint venture with Jiangling Motors Co. The van's accelerator, sourced by Indiana-based firm CTS Corp., is a part alleged to be the leading factor in 20 deaths and 2,000 complaints in Toyota vehicles dating back to 2005.

The decision by Ford and Jiangling is a preventative measure, as no complaints have yet been filed about the van. "We have not determined whether we have a problem there yet," said Ford head Alan Mulally in an Associated Press report. "What we do know is we found a similar design."

The Chinese-spec Ford Transit Classic is believed to be the only Ford vehicle that uses an accelerator produced by CTS.

"That's part of our routine process. When a company has a recall, you conduct a review and determine if you share any of the same vendors, design, parts," a Jiangling spokesman said.

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