Babes - Fast Cars

Blog about the car industry and other related car news

Audi R8 convertible

The R8 was already a brilliant looking piece inside and out. Well the R8 is about to spawn a drop dead gorgeous drop top version. So there may end up being too different gas engines [V8 & V10] plus a V12 diesel and now a roadster R8 will join the lineup next year.

Naturally, when you’re going toe-to-toe with a Porsche 911, the king of variants, you need to have a vast lineup of choices to keep your darling on the tips of the tongues around the country club. A couple of speedster-esque peaks rolling back from behind the cockpit and a flowing cut on the side blade reveal the stylistic direction of the roadster.

There’s talk of it being a targa with panels that are removed rather than a straight up convertible with a fabric top or metal folding hardtop due to packaging with the engine. Either way, sounds good to us.

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Aston Martin Vantage GT2

Aston Martin Racing has officially unveiled the Vantage GT2. Its 4.3-litre V8 produces 500bhp and the Vantage GT2 weighs a mere 1200kg. That means it'll be quick, and it needs to be. The Vantage will have the unenviable task of taking on Porsche and Ferrari in the most competitive endurance racing class, GT2. The price? A mere £275,000, plus VAT.

Based on the V8 Vantage road car, the Vantage GT2 racing car runs on either standard race fuel or E85 bio-ethanol.

No other details have been released as of yet but more should come available when it debuts in the Le Mans Series at Barcelona on April 5th.

Alongside the GT2 we’ve also seen the new LMP1 prototype, GT1 and GT3 class cars in action, and driven the GT4 N24 Vantage.

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HUMMER’s first production E85 will be H2 and H2 SUT

Trying to portray a ‘built to do a job’ truck to an environmentally big truck, HUMMER is doing everything it can to get rid of its gas-guzzling image. According to a HUMMER spokesman, HUMMER’s first production E85 models will be the 2009 H2 pickup and H2 SUT. The announcement was made during the opening of the Dallas area dealership’s E85 station. HUMMER said that it is committed to offering biofuel capability on all its vehicles by 2010.

Spending more than $500,000, Classic Chevrolet-HUMMER dealership in Grapevine, Texas, installed nine pumps dedicated to E85, E10 and biodiesel.

“There’s no telling where this might lead,” said Larry Burns, GM vice president of R&D and strategic planning. “Down the road we may even want to consider hydrogen dispensers at dealerships.”

GM plans to offer more than 15 FlexFuel models for the 2009 model year.

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Geely GT Concept

Geely Automobile, automaker from China is reported to reveal the 2008 Geely GT Concept at the 2008 Beijing Motor Show scheduled on 20 - 28 April.

No official details yet on the Geely GT Concept but it does have its styling reminiscent to the Maserati GranTurismo and the Alfa Romeo’s 8C Competizione from the renderings. One more image after the jump.

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Corvette Competition Limited Edition

General Motors Europe will release the limited edition Corvette Competition which is based on the Corvette C6 Coupe in Europe. Delivery will start in April 2008 and order can be done from authorized Corvette dealers as of now.

The launch of the Corvette Competition is in conjunction with the start of the 56th edition of the legendary Sebring Twelve Hours on 15 March, the first race in the American Le Mans Series championship (ALMS).

The Corvette Competition is powered by a 6.2 V8 engine mated with a 6-speed manual gearbox or automatic transmission.

The car features air scoops with honeycomb pattern in the front grill and in between the double twin exhaust pipes at the rear, Z06 rear spoiler, 18 inch 5-spoke alloy wheels at the front and 19 inch 5-spoke alloy wheels at the rear colored in Competition Grey and also the limited edition Corvette Competition will be available only in black.

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BMW’s GT model could get V10 twin-turbo with 625-hp

After making its rounds at all other major auto shows, the BMW CS Concept has finally made its way to North America and is being displayed at the 2008 New York Auto Show this week. BMW has already confirmed that the CS Concept is a design study outlining the company’s new flagship Gran Turismo model. The car will fit above the 7-Series when it hits markets in 2011, and will compete with other four-door coupes including the Porsche Panamera, Aston Martin Rapide, Audi A7 and the Mercedes-Benz CLS

Gerhard Richter, a member of the management team of the BMW M GmbH, will be assigned project leader on the upcoming Gran Turismo. Of course this means that the Gran Turismo will have massive M-influence from the get go.

Powertrain details are still sketchy. Previous reports say that engine choices will range from a V8 all the way up to a V12. A new report from AutoZeitung says that the new BMW Gran Turismo will get a new V10 twin-turbo charged, direct fuel injection engine that is capable of producing up to 625-hp with a peak torque and a top-speed of 248mph. The report also says an entry level V8 twin-turbo will also be offered producing 450-hp.

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Weak U.S. dollar kills Audi plans of Q7 hybrid

The head of Audi’s brand in the U.S., Johan de Nysschen, said that the weak dollar will force Audi not to sell the Q7 hybrid on the stateside. He said Audi could not make a business case for the electric/gasoline engine hybrid.

“If you look at the way the economics are going, it was a very hard car to make the numbers work,” De Nysschen said in an interview at the New York Auto Show. The Audi Q7 hybrid was scheduled to be launched in early 2009, following the sales of the diesel Q7.

“We will not do the hybrid Q7 as a conventional product offering,” De Nysschen said. “We will have a very low volume of cars available.” He said some Q7 hybrids will be available in the U.S. for ‘commercial’ use.

Audi will most likely offer a hybrid powertrain in the upcoming Q5 crossover which debuts in the U.S. later in 2009.

De Nysschen said that an A4 diesel is also likely to get the green light for the U.S. but won’t go on sale until much after the Q7 diesel. “We also haven’t decided whether we do the V-6 or the four-cylinder diesel,” he said.

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Indians bought Jaguar-Land Rover Company

Ford has finally sold its Jaguar and Land Rover subsidiaries to Indian manufacturing giant Tata Motors. The Blue Oval announced the widely anticipated sale to the US stock markets and employees this morning, confirming it was paid $2.3 billion for the two premium British marques. It has sold them wholesale, rather than keeping a stake as it did with Aston Martin - ending a decade of American ownership.

Ford bought Land Rover from the BMW-Rover break-up in 2000, 11 years after it acquired Jaguar. But over the years it has struggled to make money and its vaunted Premier Automotive Group is now rapidly being disbanded. Read on for our full report of the historic takeover and click here for Gavin Green's analysis of the sale.

Details of Jaguar-Land Rover sell-off

The agreement announced today isn't the end of the wait, however. The deal should be completed by June, subject to regulatory approval which is expected to be granted. And Ford hasn't cut all ties with J-LR. It will continue to supply powertrains, body stampings and other components, and the Blue Oval has pledged to continue offering R&D, finance and even back-office help with accounting to ease the transition to Indian ownership. So don't expect too much change overnight to Jaguar or Land Rover products.

Ford chief exec and president Alan Mulally said: 'Jaguar and Land Rover are terrific brands. We are confident that they are leaving our fold with the products, plan and team to continue to thrive under Tata’s stewardship. Now, it is time for Ford to concentrate on integrating the Ford brand globally, as we implement our plan to create a strong Ford Motor Company that delivers profitable growth for all.'

The sell-off has taken so long as the accountants have worked out how to extract these two companies who are inextricably linked. The bean counters have had to separate everything from the IT networks at the Gaydon headquarters to the intellectual property rights over systems like Terrain Response - as well as negotiating with unions over things like pension funds (Ford is expected to pay £300m into two separate funds). 'These things don't happen overnight,' explained a spokesman.

If you think the deal has attracted a flood of speculation and headlines in the UK, you should see the response to the J-LR deal in India. 'It's been completely mad - we've been fielding dozens of calls a day for the past few months from Indian media,' added the Ford spokesman.

Tata: Worlds fastest-growing car company

Indian conglomerate Tata will now be working out how best to incorporate Jaguar and Land Rover into its growing global portfolio. Eponymous chairman Ratan Tata told CAR that the new owners would respect the working practices at the two British car makers and promised to 'nurture and grow them' rather than start afresh. For now, production will remain in the UK, but who'd bet against foreign-built Jags or Land Rovers in the next decade?

'We are very pleased at the prospect of Jaguar and Land Rover being a significant part of our automotive business,' Tata added. 'We have enormous respect for the two brands and will endeavor to preserve and build on their heritage and competitiveness, keeping their identities intact. We aim to support their growth, while holding true to our principles of allowing the management and employees to bring their experience and expertise to bear on the growth of the business.'

At a stroke, the Ford sale has confirmed Tata as an even more serious player in the automotive sector. It has a dominant position in the fast-growing Indian market, the clout of the world's cheapest car - the Nano - and now two prestigious, but under-performing, premium brands.

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Red Hot Dodge Challenger

Lucky US buyers can now get behind the wheel of a Dodge Challenger for less than $20,000 (about £10k). The base model is the 250bhp 2.5 V6, described as an ‘economy car’ because of its 25mpg, then there’s an RT with a 370bhp 5.7-litre Hemi, and then, of course, there’s the one everyone really wants, the 6.1-litre SRT-8. As is the tradition at Chrysler, the RT also offers an optional Track Pak.

All the models keep the bulging power hood, but only the SRT-8 has the dramatic twin stripes. The RT has an option of front-to-tail single side stripes though, very much in the classic MOPAR tradition. All three will feature plenty of infotainment and convenience goodies. It’s clear, however, Chrysler hopes owners of the poverty models will dig deep to personalize them with the many MOPAR accessories being offered.

COO and joint president Jim Press was clearly delighted to be unveiling these beauties: ‘People ask me about the move from Toyota, the last six months have been than best time of my life!’

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Dramatic Suzuki Kizashi 3

The third car of Suzuki’s dramatic Kizashi trilogy had its world debut at New York, and we’re told this handsome sports sedan is close to the production vehicle. When it arrives in the US this Fall, the powertrain will be a 3.6-litre DOHC V6 delivering 300bhp via a six-speed auto’ with paddle-shifters. No price has been announced, but it will offer ‘good value’.

From the side, the Kizashi 3’s lines are simple and could be European (if it weren’t for the show car’s incredible 21in wheels). The front is distinctly Asian, with headlamps like the eyes of a Samurai in a Japanese print, and a deep U-shaped grille similar to the face furniture of the Kizashi 1 and 2.

The three cars showcase the new look of Suzuki. In Japanese, the word Kizashi conveys the feeling that something great is coming, and we’re promised that all Suzuki vehicles in future will be ‘dynamic, athletic, purposeful and will have real-world capability’.

Gene Brown, VP of marketing and PR says that for now, Suzuki is not aiming for high volume sales. Brown says Suzuki aims to be a ‘boutique brand’, higher in status if not price or volume to the Korean manufacturers. The Kizashi will go on global sale from 2010.

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Saleen S5S Raptor

Saleen is best known for its red-hot Mustangs, but at New York it revealed an American supercar concept to rival the Europeans. Its S5S Raptor is around the same size as a Ferrari 430, and should be close to the same price, but boasts 175bhp more. It’s powered by a Saleen-built supercharged 6.0-litre V8, that will run on ethanol (like an increasing number of race cars).

Saleen has recently bought ASC, a well respected Detroit styling house, and it’s used the Raptor to show off ASC’s roof-length all-glass electric sunroof, also offered on the production Mustang.

Iconic racer and team owner Dan Gurney was on hand to launch the Raptor and Saleen’s Dan Gurney Signature Edition Mustang, featuring Gurney Eagle-style graphics in red, white or blue.

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Scion Hako Coupe concept

Welcome to the Scion Hako Coupe concept. Hako is Japanese for box, but if this is a box, then it’s Tupperware that’s been melted on the stove.

The concept is designed to express the love of all things retro-American in Japan. That explains the droopy rear end reminiscent of a 1940s’ lead sled, the ‘Frenched’ lamps and the vertical windscreen (admittedly curving over at the top) like a '20s/'30s hot rod.

Inside, one infotainment screen is no longer enough. The Scion Hako Coupe has two, and cameras on the outside record where you’ve been for today’s Facebook entry. The videos can then be edited on even more screens mounted in the doors.

This two-door coupe has been tipped as a replacement for the tC Coupe, but Scion insists it’s purely a concept. The company is investigating ways to expand its range without losing its exclusivity or its enviable average age of 30 (for the tC it’s 24). Scion VP Jack Hollis says that the brand may expand from three to five or even six models. Scion may also grow and sell across the globe, but there are no solid plans to offer it in the UK. So far the most interest has come from Australia, according to Toyota spokesman Mike Michels.

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Pontiac Solstice Coupe

The Pontiac Solstice Coupe has a fairly simple brief in life. This is the car for anyone who likes the styling of the Roadster but doesn’t have the degree in origami needed to fold the flying buttresses and get the roof down. But the Solstice Coupe has a sunroof, so you can still get some wind in your hair.

The Coupe looks even better than its sister, currently the top-selling roadster in America. It seems to hug the ground more, even though we’re assured the suspension and powertrain remain the same. No changes were needed because the roof has been made using a lightweight magnesium panel weighing just 31lb (14.2kg) and an aluminium frame. It’s likely to be a bit stiffer, though, and it’ll be fun to experiment and find out whether that makes a difference.

Much of the interior remains the same, but there’s a storage tray behind the seats. You get at the luggage area by opening a glass tailgate – and this time it won’t have the roof in it.

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Acura TSX

The Acura TSX sports saloon has a Marmite face that you either love or hate. The deep v-shaped grille has a self-satisfied smirk and the airdam forms two strange little prongs at the corners. It works better in the metal than you’d guess from the pictures, and PR chief Chuck Schifsky tells us that reaction has been positive. Would he say anything else?

The aim of the new family face is to separate Acura from both European rivals and the Honda range. A version was seen on the RL at Chicago and some customers apparently hated it, but apparently new customers like it.

The TSX sports sedan will be the second generation of Acura’s entry-level sedan and promises improvements in performance, styling and safety. It’s also a few inches bigger width and length wise. Power is from a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 198bhp.

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Avro Mirage 720 Ford GT

Avro’s 720 Mirage Ford GT is the supercar for when one limited edition just isn’t enough. Just ten of these Roush-tuned Fords will be made, and yes, the 720 signifies the horsepower output.

In 2007 Avro and Roush unleashed the 600bhp 600RE Ford GT. Just ten were made (and we’ve already seen one wrecked example) but Roush realised there was more to come from the engine. At the request of Brooklands-based Avro Motor Cars a further 120bhp has been found over and above the 600RE. And that’s 170bhp more than this Ford GT had when it left the factory.

The increase to 720bhp and 601lb ft comes mainly thanks to a larger Whipple supercharger. To make sure the 720 Mirage stays on the road the tracks are 5mm wider front and rear, there is adjustable KW suspension - that mean the car sits 25mm lower - and AP Racing brakes.

Perhaps the best feature though is the removal of the car’s American-spec rear bumper. Avro says it saves weight, but is also gives the Ford GT a clean, uncluttered look. And if you want the car to stand out, there’s the orange paint and black wheels. Yours for £179,400.

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Sporty Alfa Romeo Mito

Welcome to the Alfa Romeo Mito. This is Alfa’s new baby, with a name inspired by the cities where the car was designed (Milan) and will be built (Turin). Only the Italians could get away with something like that.

Alfa Romeo is claiming the Mito draws styling inspiration from its stunning 8C Competizione supercar. Namely the frameless doors, distinctive nose, and LED taillights. You’ll never know that underneath the Mito shares parts with the Fiat Grande Punto. Compared to its sister car the Mito is longer and wider, and a little lower, to emphasize the sportiness.

To make the Mito even more sporting, all cars will come as standard with Alfa’s new DNA chassis system. Three settings – Dynamic, Normal and All-Weather – adjust the engine, brakes, steering, suspension and gearbox to suit the conditions.

As well as having sporting pretensions Alfa Romeo is also making sure the Mito is highly customizable. Having watch Mini’s success, and learns lessons from Fiat’s launch of the 500, the Mito will come with a large options list. Even the headlamp and taillight surrounds will be switchable so, Alfa says, you’ll be able to give your car ‘eye-liner’.

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Pininfarina Sintesi at Geneva Motor Show

Italian coachbuilder and design house Pininfarina showed another stunning concept at Geneva Motor Show to follow the 2005 Maserati Birdcage and 2004 Nido. The 2008 Sintesi is strictly an ‘ideas concept’ imagining a future vehicle that can communicate with other cars to avoid traffic and accidents and thus reduce the need for current passive safety requirements – like longer and heavier front noses to meet pedestrian impact laws. More compact future active safety technology and electronics will also reduce weight and size and allow a more aerodynamic shape – the Sintesi has a 0.27 Cd drag coefficient.

Its fluid exterior lines – reminiscent of a moebius strip – and generous low-down interior room for four passengers are also possible because of fuel cell propulsion. Four cells are spread out at the base of the vehicle – one for each wheel – and in sport mode muster the equivalent of 215bhp and a 7.5-second 0-62mph.

Other great touches include four butterfly doors and an opaque white honeycomb structure poly resin instrument panel formed out of one piece of Poly1500 resin.

But don’t write all this off as just pie in the sky. Remember that Pininfarina is also behind the design of the Ferrari F430 and 599 GTB Fiorano and also the production of the Ford Focus CC.

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The first images of the all-new Lola B08/60 LMP1

Lola Cars International Ltd announces the addition of the latest generation of LMP Coupe to its vast ancestry of world-beating sportscars. Lola also releases the first images of the all-new Lola B08/60 LMP1.

The car will compete in this year's Le Mans 24 Hours and Le Mans Series in the hands of existing Lola sportscar customer Charouz Racing System, who will race the new design with an Aston Martin V12 engine and engineering support from Aston Martin Racing.

The Lola B08/60 LMP1 Coupe is the result of over 12 months research, design and aerodynamic testing at Lola's renowned technical base in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. Utilising significant upgrades in CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and windtunnel equipment, Lola is the first constructor to get a customer LMP Coupe on to the track.

As well as a full programme for the LMP1 Coupe this year, Lola has also agreed to supply a Lola B08/80 LMP2 version of the design to Speedy-Sebah Racing Team. This entry is planning to battle with Lola's open-topped sportscars to ensure a fifth consecutive class success at Le Mans in 2008, Lola's 50th anniversary year.

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Aston Martin Rapide

Aston Martin has announced that they will collaborate with its Austria based partner, Magna Steyr, to build the new 4-door Aston Martin Rapide sports car.

The Rapide will be built at Magna Steyr plant in Graz, Austria. The new Aston Martin Rapide is expected to go into production late 2009 with 2,000 units to be sold annually.

The reason why Aston Martin has to outsource the production of the Rapide is due to the plant in Gaydon has exceeded its production capacity with the production of other Aston Martin cars such as the DB9, DBS and V8 Vantage. Apart from that, Magna Steyr has the capability and experience in producing luxury cars such as models from Mercedes-Benz and also BMW. There are no details yet about the Aston Martin Rapide but the concept car was first unveiled at the 2006 Detroit Motor Show which was powered by a 6.0-liter V12 engine producing 480 hp (358 kW).

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