Wheelsandmore Aston Martin DB9 Volante



German tuner Wheelsandmore has some ideas of its own for the Aston Martin DB9 convertible.

First up is a performance upgrade for the 6.0 liter V12 engine with 476 hp and 600 Nm (442 lb-ft) of torque that comes with the production version. Wheelsandmore boosts that by 60 hp while adding 68 Nm (50 lb-ft) of torque too. They've done so by tinkering with the ECU and adding a stainless-steel sport exhaust system with 200-cell sport catalysts and noise-volume valve control.

Suspension-lowering is part of the package with the DB9 sitting 25 mm lower.

The DB9 also gets a new body kit made of polyurethane along with side skirts, front and rear aprons and a rear lid spoiler. The convertible gets fitted with Kahn RS-V 20-inch wheels with Dunlop Sport Maxx performance tires - 255/35/20 for the front 9.0x20 rims and 285/30/20 for the 11.0×20 rear rims.

Prices are €5,999 for the wheel set, €9,000 for the body kit, €8,800 for the exhaust system, €3,400 for the ECU upgrade and €1,150 for the lowering springs.

Project Sartre uses road trains to save fuel on the highway



Road trains that link vehicles together using wireless sensors could soon be on European roads.

An EU-financed research project is looking at inexpensive ways of getting vehicles to travel in a 'platoon' on Europe's motorways.

Each road train could include up to eight separate vehicles - cars, buses and trucks will be mixed in each one.

The EU hopes to cut fuel consumption, journey times and congestion by linking vehicles together.

Early work on the idea suggests that fuel consumption could be cut by 20% among those cars and trucks travelling behind the lead vehicle.

Spanish trials

The lead vehicle would be handled by a professional driver who would monitor the status of the road train. Those in following vehicles could take their hands off the wheel, read a book or watch TV, while they travel along the motorway. Their vehicle would be controlled by the lead vehicle.

Funded under the European Commission's Framework 7 research plan, Sartre (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) is aimed at commuters in cars who travel long distances to work every day but will also look at ways to involve commercial vehicles.

Tom Robinson, project co-ordinator at engineering firm Ricardo, said the idea was to use off-the-shelf components to make it possible for cars, buses and trucks to join the road train.

The goal is to try and introduce a step change in transport methods," he said.

"We're looking at what it would take to get platooning on public highways without making big changes to the public highways themselves," said Mr Robinson.

A system that involved wiring up motorways with sensors to help control the road trains would be prohibitively expensive, he said.

"Each of the vehicles will have their own control and software monitoring system," said Mr Robinson. "There may well be a platoon sensor envelope that collates information and presents it to the lead vehicle so it can understand what is happening around all the vehicles."

The idea is to make platoons active so vehicles can join and leave as they need. Mr Robinson speculated that those joining a platoon or road train may one day pay for the privilege of someone else effectively driving them closer to their destination.

Sartre will run for three years. The project partners are currently doing preliminary research to find out all the elements needed for a working system and the situations in which it might be used.

There were also behavioural elements to consider, said Mr Robinson, such as whether all the vehicles will need to have their hazard lights on while in a platoon.

Also, he said, there had to be a way to ensure the vehicles in a platoon are organised to make drivers feel safe.

"Car drivers do not want to be between trucks," he said.

Towards the end of the research project trials will be held on test tracks in the UK, Spain and Sweden. There are also plans for public road trials in Spain. The first platoon will involve two trucks and three cars.

GM to put electric Cadillac Converj Concept into production



It’s official. Sort of. Cadillac is getting a Volt of its own. Word has it the stunning Converj concept car is slated for production as a series hybrid.

We’ve been hounding General Motors about this car ever since Vice Chairman Bob Lutz revealed it at the Detroit auto show earlier this year, and there have been rumors afoot about its impending production for awhile now. Now, according to the Detroit News, the concept’s been greenlighted. We have to wonder if Lutz wasn’t bending a few arms behind the scenes to make it happen.

The Converj uses the same technology and drivetrain layout as the Chevrolet Volt. The extended-range electric car not only will offer consumers some serious green cred and great mileage in an all-American brand but also put them miles beyond the Toyota Prius when it comes to style.

The News, citing unnamed sources familiar with the General’s inner workings, says the Converj is as real as a heart attack. Cadillac officials are said to have presented the production plan to GM’s board of directors last week.

It’s no secret “Maxium” Bob Lutz has been a big supporter of the Converj, nor is it any secret that what Lutz wants, Lutz pretty much gets. He’s said the production model would look similar to the concept pictured above. The show car was bold and striking, like something from Giorgetto Giugiaro, not Detroit. It’s as sexy as the Volt is mainstream. Sultry sheet metal aside, though, the two cars probably will be essentially the same.

“The car still is slated to share much of its drivetrain with the upcoming Chevrolet Volt,” according to the perennially perky Motor Trend. Others, including unnamed GM insiders, echo that claim. If so, look for a 1.4-liter four-banger up front and a big honkin’ lithium-ion battery pack providing juice to an electric motor. It should have the same 40 mile range before the gasoline engine kicks in to drive a generator that will keep the electric motor turning.

Still, we’re talking about Cadillac, so look for some upscale touches.

Slapping a Cadillac badge on a Chevrolet Volt is a smart move because it will help the General recoup some of the money it’s spent developing the innovative drivetrain — when we drove a Volt mule, GM told us it’s sunk close to a billion dollars into the Volt. The margins are, after all, much higher on a premium marque than a Chevy.

“You can charge more for a Caddy than a Chevrolet. It’s one of God’s immutable laws,” auto analyst Jim Hall told the News.

You can look at the upcoming Converj as being the exact opposite of Honda’s Insight. Where the Insight went down market to go up against the industry leading Prius, Caddy’s Converj is heading up to where the Haute Living set like to chill out. Cadillac is staying tight-lipped about how much cash the Converj will demand, but with the General desperately trying to keep the Volt under $40,000, figure the Converj will clock in north of that.

XFR, XKR: Jaguar launches R Performance



If you recently purchased a 2010 Jaguar XFR or an XKR and are looking for some high-speed driving lessons, Jaguar has just announced the launch of its R Performance Academy. Beginning December 1, Jaguar will offer sessions at Homestead Miami Speedway, which features 2.21 miles of challenging asphalt and 14 turns.

Starting 2010, the Academy will visit various tracks, including the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Monticello Motor Club in Monticello, New York and the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA, among others, on a quarterly basis.

The 2010 Jaguar XFR and the XKR are powered by a supercharged V8 engine making 510-hp, allowing for a 0-60 mph time of 4.7 seconds and 4.6 seconds respectively

Press Release:

Jaguar Announces Launch of R Performance Academy

High Performance Driving Academy Allows Customers to Satisfy Their Need for Speed

MAHWAH, N.J., Nov. 9 /PRNewswire/ — For some, a day at the track driving the fastest Jaguar with some of the world’s most renowned driving instructors is a dream. For those lucky buyers of a 2010 Jaguar XKR or XFR, it will be a reality. Jaguar Cars announced today the launch of its R Performance Academy, beginning December 1, with a session at one of America’s premier racing facility, the Homestead Miami Speedway, which features 2.21 miles of challenging asphalt and 14 turns that provide a rewarding challenge to even the most experienced racers.

The R Performance Academy is complimentary with the purchase of a 2010 XFR, the ultimate Jaguar sports sedan, or 2010 XKR, the new generation of Jaguar’s sports coupe, and offers an exhilarating, experiential adventure for the ultimate auto enthusiast. Both the XFR and XKR are powered by a supercharged, 510-hp V8 engine, and boast accelerations from 0 – 60 in 4.7 and 4.6 seconds, respectively. The Academy is designed to help drivers explore the capabilities of these special automobiles and develop the skills and techniques needed to safely experience their high-performance dynamics.

“Our all-new R Performance Academy was specially developed to ensure that our customers can responsibly enjoy the full potential and incredible capabilities of the dynamic XFR and XKR,” said BJ Colaric, General Manager, Sales Operations for Jaguar Cars. “The security of having a world-class professional driving instructor by your side on an enclosed, high-speed track creates the perfect setting for both education and appreciation.”

The experience begins with a reception the night before the driving day where coaches will explain the program and share some of their racetrack experiences. The next day, guests arrive at the track bright and early for a driver orientation and a full day of driving in Jaguar R Performance Academy cars. The lessons learned on the racetrack are made relevant to everyday, real world driving by the instructors and will leave Jaguar owners more aware of their vehicles’ abilities and feeling more confident behind the wheel. This program features unique and exciting driving activities:

* maximum acceleration using various Jaguar Drive Control settings
* braking – and experiencing complete ABS stopping
* emergency lane changes
* Dynamic Mode and DSC Off mode handling
* cornering
* autocross (slalom course)
* full laps at speed with driving coach and hot laps with racing drivers

In 2010, the Academy will visit various tracks, including the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Monticello Motor Club in Monticello, New York and the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA, among others, on a quarterly basis. Invitations to attend this unforgettable driving adventure were distributed nationwide to 2010 XKR and XFR customers who purchased a 2010 XFR or XKR through September. To learn more about the all new R Performance Academy, visit www.jaguarperformanceacademy.com.

Renault Gordini Return Confirmed



We’ve known this was on the cards for a while – the return of the Gordini badge – and we reported last week that Renault were going to announce their plans for a new Gordini range this week. And they have.

Aimed straight in the sites of Fiat’s Abarth and MINI’s Cooper badges, the Gordini badge will signify the ‘Sporty’ Renaults, sitting one notch down from the Renaultsport models, which are expected to become even more hard-core as the Gordini mops up sales from less enthusiastic buyers.

Sadly – unlike Cooper and Abarth – it looks as if our belief that Gordini will be cosmetic rather than performance is right. Expect to see the iconic white stripes reappear and liberal doses of blue Gordini paint jobs. Throw in a body kit and some loud alloys and you pretty much have the recipe for the new Gordini.

First of the new Gordini range will be the Renault Gordini Twingo RS which Renault are planning on launching on 25th November on the Champs Elysees. You can expect to see Gordini versions of the Megane and Clio following before too long.

Nissan will launch the 2010 Qashqai and Qashqai+2 in March 2010, with engine updates, a new nose and trim upgrades.

A camouflaged 2010 Nissan Qashqai caught testing recently

Nissan will launch the 2010 Qashqai and Qashqai+2 in March 2010, with engine updates, a new nose and trim upgrades.

The Nissan Qashqai has been a big success for Nissan. A very able crossover / Estate / SUV thingy, it has certainly made its mark since its introduction in 2007. And – in Qashqai +2 guise – it actually makes a decent fist of being a people carrier. But it’s remained pretty much unchanged since it was introduced – apart from the addition of extra models like the n-tec – so its time for a change. Bring on the 2010 Nissan Qashqai.

The spy shot at the top shows a 2010 Qashqai running around in disguise recently. The camouflage is restricted to the front end an the rear lights, which indicates that the 2010 Qashqai is going to get a new nose and some tweaks and tidies round the back. Trim updates will also come in to play and Nissan are likely to drop a bit of ‘Green’ fairy dust on the powerplants to up the output, improve the economy and lower emissions.

So when are these changes going to happen? Last news we had was that the 2010 Qashqai would hit the roads in the UK in the summer, with the Qashqai +2 following on in the Autumn. But we had some info in this morning that shows Nissan are ahead of the game plan.

The 2010 Nissan Qashqai and Qashqai+2 will launch in March 2010. Early next month (December) Nissan will be releasing full details on the 2010 updates, including prices. January will see the order book open and the first 2010 Qashqais will be in dealers by mid February, with customer deliveries starting on 1st March 2010.

The current Qashqai has had a good 2009, increasing its market share by 65%. Even with the new model now confirmed for launch in March the current Qashqai is still a good buy. But you should be able to screw a decent discount on the run-out model if that’s the route you want to go.

But we’re told that stocks are quite low, and dealers expect to run out of the current model by December. Get your skates on if you want one.

New S60 shapes up to beat 3-Series!



Meet the curvy compact exec that aims to build on Volvo’s growing reputation for creating stylish, exciting cars.

These are the first official pictures of the new S60, and while no image of the rear is available yet, drivers clearly have a great deal to look forward to.

It’s inspired by the concept which debuted at the Detroit Motor Show in January, and features the same swooping coupĂ© roofline and neatly rounded edges. It’s even finished in the same copper paintjob!

Inside, the cabin is set to be equally dramatic, with LED lights and a swooping dashboard, incorporating an LCD instrument panel.

Volvo has announced that the showroom-ready S60 will be unveiled at March’s Geneva expo – and that production will start early next summer at the firm’s plant in Ghent, Belgium.

Bosses have also promised that the newcomer will be equipped with the innovative Pedestrian Detection system – a groundbreaking safety feature that can sense people in the road in front of the car, and apply the brakes automatically if the driver doesn’t react.

Although the engine line-up has yet to be confirmed, buyers are set to be offered an all-new 1.6-litre direct-injection EcoBoost petrol turbo unit, delivering 180bhp. A 1.6-litre diesel is also on the cards – this is likely to power an ultra-efficient DRIVe model.

It’s uncertain whether a high-performance R version of the new S60 will be produced. Sources close to the project say they want to emphasise the car’s eco credentials instead.

A hybrid is in the pipeline, though. This will be developed from experimental work Volvo carried out with an all-electric C30.

Prices for the newcomer have yet to be finalised, but it’s expected to cost less than the larger V70 estate. The range could start at around £22,000.

Read more: http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/news/autoexpressnews/244684/new_s60_shapes_up_to_beat_3series.html#ixzz0WY2jm7eJ

The New Citroen C-ZERO Electric City Car



Zero fuel consumption, zero CO2 emissions and zero engine noise: with the Citroen C-ZERO, Citroen is broadening its compact vehicle range with a 100% electric offering.
The new city car is designed to make urban mobility easier - thanks to its compact dimensions, rapid charge and generous range for day-to-day car journeys. And all of this in a silence that makes occupants forget about the noise of the city. The Citroen C-ZERO combines technology and creativity to meet tomorrow's challenges today.

Having already produced more than 5,500 electric vehicles, Citroen has the experience vital to being a front-runner in a market segment that is set to grow significantly in the coming years.

Due for launch in the last quarter of 2010, the Citroen C-ZERO is developed in collaboration with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.

The Citroen C-ZERO is a full-electric vehicle powered by a permanent magnet synchronous motor delivering 47kW or 64bhp EEC from 3,000 to 6,000rpm. Maximum torque of 180Nm is available from 0 to 2,000rpm. Power is transmitted to the rear axle via a single-speed reduction gear.

The motor is powered by a latest-generation 330-volt lithium-ion battery system comprising 88 50Ah cells (for onboard energy of 16kWh), mounted in the centre of the vehicle. Lithium-ion technology keeps battery weight down compared with conventional technology, while offering equivalent performance. It is also resistant to partial re-charges, which have no impact on battery longevity.

Re-charging the Citroen C-ZERO's batteries could not be simpler. Owners plug the supply cord into a 220-volt socket. A complete charge takes six hours, while an 80% charge is possible in just 30 minutes using an external station with a single-phase current of 125A at 400V, for power of up to 50kW.

Using the car is equally simple. When the driver turns the ignition key, a beep confirms that the car is running. The Citroen C-ZERO drives like a regular car with an automatic gearbox. The traditional fuel gauge is replaced by a battery charge indicator.

The Citroen C-ZERO is perfectly adapted to the needs of all kinds of users - including public sector operators, local authorities, smaller businesses and company fleets - and also to those of private customers looking for a car with exceptionally low running costs.

With four real seats - thanks to a 2.55m wheelbase - and a 166 litre boot, the Citroen C-ZERO is impressively quiet to drive and boasts a plethora of comfort and safety equipment. Original-fit features include power steering, ABS, traction control, ESP, electric windows, six airbags and air conditioning.

The Citroen C-ZERO's compact exterior dimensions - 3.48m long - and a 9m turning circle, make it a cinch to nip in and out of city traffic. And with a top speed of 80mph, acceleration from 0-62mph in 15 seconds and 37-56mph in 6 seconds, along with a range of around 80miles, over a standard combined cycle, it is also fully at ease out on the open road.