Trendsetting, but at a price…

It's not often I feel sorry for motoring hacks whose horizons are filled with Ferraris, Maseratis, Lamborghinis and Porsches - but today this is a thought that ran through my mind.

1988811111I've driven both the new Toyota iQ and the new Tesla electric sports car on the same day, and it has provided a fascinating view of the future.

I'm not suggesting that the industry will suddenly turn to cranking out cars like these and nothing else, but the comparative speed of their appearance makes it clear that there could be sizeable rump of these new-wave cars on the market quite soon - provided you and I support them.

There's the rub. Each is these is a truly exciting car, but each has drawbacks.

19888101548The iQ strikes me as a classic early-adopter's car, something which costs too much for what it delivers. I say this from the standpoint of someone who became so obsessed with the original Smart that he bought one (for far too high a price) straight off the motor show stand, several years before Mercedes started selling them here.

I've got similar enthusiastic thoughts about the iQ, which is far more practical and better supported, but also too expensive (as we've said) against the likes of a Hyundai i10, plus bulkier and not quite as cute as a Smart. But it's secret weapon is that alongside it everything else seems ordinary.

I was preparing to dislike the Tesla. The price is ridiculous, if you know as much as we all do about the price of an Elise, which provides its chassis and running gear. And it has a nice Toyota engine.

16199104822569356x236Then I drove the Tesla precisely 3.7 miles: out of the office car park, right and left, up to a convenient large roundabout (two quick circuits) and back. In that time my mind was completely changed.

It was easy to drive, precise to steer, flat-riding, refined - and ridiculously fast. The acceleration reminded me of something Martin Brundle once told me about driving an F1 car: before you've finished pushing the accelerator down, the car's accelerating.

You suddenly realise that road-going internal combustion engines, all of them, have to ingest a column of gas before they can go. Electric motors just go. And really, really fast.

16199104650726356x236Is it a toy? Certainly. It's another car for the early adopter (a rich one, in this case). But it's no more of a toy than the Caterham in many a garage, which takes its owner out for an urgent 50-100 miles on the weekend, then gets put away again.

The Tesla would fit that mould perfectly - and it has many other points of interest besides. Track days? Make sure the track's nearby - or take it on a trailer. But you'll be the life and soul (and one of the quickest out of corners) when you get there.


Bugatti! Lamborghini! Ferrari! Tata!

From Lamborghini to Lotus, 2008 has been a bumper year for motorshow motors...Vijay Pattni looks at the very best.

Read the full story now.


9ff hits the dusty trail with Cayenne Vantage GTR

9ff has established itself as a serious player in the pursuit of toppiling OEM's top-speed records, but the German tuner's range of modifications for Porsches spans the spectrum from mild to wild. Wild, in this case, includes the 9ff Vantage GTR. It's based on the Cayenne SUV and has nothing to do with the 911-rivalling Aston Martin, but the 9ff sport-ute packs a mighty punch. With a whopping 725hp on tap, the Vantage GTR leaves other modified Cayennes in its dust – make that a big cloud of dust – and straight into Gemballa territory, which is an insane place to spend any amount of time.

9ff Porsche Cayenne Vantage GTR

To match the power output, 9ff has decked out this Cayenne in Tumbler-worthy bodywork and sinister matte black finish, and is apparently even offering a revised front end to replace the stock model's angular headlights with round 911 units. See for yourself in the gallery below.

[Source: autoblog.nl via Motorpasion]


Avions Voisin new supercar concept

Just as Volkswagen Group's veyro supercar revived the longstanding Bugatti label, Portuguese-based designer Ernesto Freitas from Luso Motors envisages his new Voisin concept injecting some life into France's forgotten carmaker, Avions Voisin. At the moment his new Voisin Concept remains just a 3D simulated model but Freitas has plans to create a full scale model and hopes to display it at several international car shows.

Avions Voisin was a carmaker based in Paris, which built a number of luxury cars from 1919 up until 1939. During its prime Voisin was competing with the likes of Bugatti and Bentley but the label eventually experienced some financial strife and a number of its key engineers were lost to fellow French carmaker Renault.

Freitas' latest design draws obvious inspiration from the Bugatti Veyron and has been designed to accommodate a V12 powerplant in its engine bay. The designer's choice would be a V12 Audi diesel but for now it remains just a dream.


Maserati 250F is voted the greatest racing car ever

Traffic in London's Pall Mall came to a halt today (Thursday January 15th) when the "world's greatest racing car" driven by rock legend Nick Mason from Pink Floyd called into the Royal Automobile Club.

The club welcomed the car after thousands of readers from Octane, one of Britain's top motoring magazines, had voted for the car which had been nominated by Sir Stirling Moss.

Nick Mason said: "The accolade is well deserved. To many the 250F is the archetypal Grand Prix car and, apart from being one of the most beautiful, it is one of the most progressive and forgiving of racing cars to drive. Who can forget what must be the most iconic of motor racing images – Fangio in a full power-slide at the French Grand Prix in 1957, with battle scars evident on the nose? (The car that is, not the driver…)."

He added: "It was a great idea from Octane to get readers to vote for their favourite racing car and I am delighted that the 250F beat its rivals."

The 250F competed between 1954 and 1958, during which time it won 55 races. It first raced in the 1954 Argentine Grand Prix in the hands of Juan Manuel Fangio, who won the first of his two victories before he left for Mercedes Benz. Sir Stirling Moss raced his privately owned 250F for the full 1954 season. In 1956 he won the Italian Grand Prix and the Monaco Grand Prix in his private car.

In 1957, Fangio drove to four more championship victories, including his legendary win at the Nürburgring where he overcame a 50-second deficit in just 20 laps, passing the race leader on the final lap to take the win.

The cars were nominated by famous motor racing drivers and personalities, including Brian Redman, Damon Hill, Derek Bell, Carroll Shelby, Andy Wallace and Bobby Rahal. The Maserati 250F was put forward by Sir Stirling Moss, who said: "I have great affection for the 250F because it was the car that gave me my first proper break in Formula One."

Now 79, Sir Stirling Moss is one of the best-known racers of all- time. He won 194 of the 497 races he entered, including 16 Formula One Grand Prixs.

Ben Cussons, Motoring Committee Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club, said: "We are delighted to have the winning car featured outside the Club. The Maserati 250F combines the very best in both automotive design and racing car engineering of the era. Its style and appeal are timeless."


Video: Maserati GranTurismo S MC Sport Line

Maserati has released new video material from the Bologna Motor Show where the Italian carmaker debuted its new MC Sport Line customization program - a series of options that enhance the sporty performance and look of the vehicles. The first model in Maserati's line-up to benefit from the MC Sport Line program is the GranTurismo S which gains a...

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Sport coupe MC Sport Line from Maserati

It seems, company Maserati has thoroughly decided to undertake independent manufacture of special versions of own models, and start has been given on a motor show in Bologna where Italians have presented version MC Sport Line. At the heart of this car model GranTurismo S which experts Maserati have improved front and rear spoilers from carbon fiber, lateral aerodynamic panels with black inserts on the centre, carbon cases for the side view door mirrors, new door handles, and black glossy 20-inch wheel disks is put. Besides, the Italian engineers have increased productivity of a coupe. The car suspender has received more rigid springs, new absorbers and stabilizers. A novelty have equipped also with the new software for system Stability Program from Maserati which, by words to developers, gives to the driver «more freedom». As works were made directly by experts Maserati, it is necessary to notice that all is executed with very good taste. For this reason get the similar car very few fans of the Italian coupes can to themselves. Though version MC Sport Line is constructed on the basis of model GranTurismo S, company Maserati asserts that in due course will give to all series GranTurismo of line of package Sport Line, and after and to all lineup Maserati.

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Maserati celebrated its triumph in the 2008 International FIA GT Championship

Maserati celebrated its triumph in the 2008 International FIA GT Championship

For the first time in its history, Maserati celebrated its triumph in the 2008 International FIA GT Championship at the Viale Ciro Menotti headquarters in Modena. The occasion was marked by an amazing display of driving put on by Andrea Bertolini and Michael Bartels. The pair, FIA GT champions in 2006 and 2008, played out all [...]

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Maserati GranTurismo Elite Carbon!

The American firm Elite Carbon has told about the new tuning package developed by its experts for magnificent coupe Maserati GranTurismo which will appear on sale from the midpoint of 2009. Promising to improve not only appearance of the car, but also its aerodynamics, the body-whale from Elite Carbon includes a new front bumper with sticking out edge from carbon fiber and bores for cooling of brakes, an accurate rear spoiler, lateral weather-cloths, and also the rear choke tube. The American tuning package for the Italian coupe also contains a number of other external elements, such as 21-inch cast wheel disks put in sports tyres, the sports final system, the chromeplated tips of an exhaust, a modifed braking system. Some elements of the interior which has become carbons have been subjected changes also.


Maserati Launches MC Sport Line In Bologna With Special Edition GranTursimo S [Bologna Motor Show]

The lack of SEMA-worthy accessories holding you back from purchasing a Maserati? No longer. The automaker will now sell you a carbon fiber bodykit, lowered suspension, carbon mirror covers, a carbon steering wheel, and carbon side skirts straight from the showroom. We're actually digging this white and black Maserati GranTurismo S, but we'd probably say "no thanks" to the tacky carbon bolt-ons.

The official press release follows:

The MC Sport Line customisation programme focuses on Maserati's racing heritage fresh from its latest international triumph in the FIA GT championship with the Bertolini-Bartels duo in Argentina, the land of Juan Manuel Fangio.

Maserati has developed a special series of new options named "MC Sport Line", which make their worldwide debut at the Bologna Motor Show, with new content that adds to Maserati's already extensive range of personalisation options. The "MC Sport Line" is designed to enhance the sporty DNA of Maseratis for those customers who like to express their passion for racing through dynamic styling and a choice of technical solutions that increase driving fun without compromise.

The name "MC Sport Line" sums up the on-track experience gained by the Maserati Corse department, whose contribution to the design of the functional components has been invaluable. The world of motor racing also inspired Maserati's designers when it came to styling, hence the extensive use of carbon fibre, exceptionally popular among racing enthusiasts thanks to its direct links to racing.

The GranTurismo S, the ultimate expression of Maserati's performance, was the model chosen to first present the "MC Sport Line" catalogue to the public, which will be extended to the GranTurismo range and then will ultimately encompass the entire Maserati line-up during the course of 2009.

From early 2009, GranTurismo S customers will not only be able to enhance the sporty look of their vehicle's exterior and interior — but different technical solutions will also be available.

Aerodynamics can be modified thanks to the addition of front and rear carbon-fibre spoilers, which benefit from track tests conducted on the GranTurismo MC Concept; the new aerodynamics not only optimise the vertical load but give the car a very distinctive appearance, as do the side skirts with the central panel finished in matt black, adding a dynamic edge to the side view.

The sporty look of the exterior can be completed with carbon fibre mirror housings and door handles. The same dark shade is reflected in the glossy black 20" wheel rims that perfectly match the dark line of the exterior.

The carbon fibre door sill bearing the words "MC Sport Line", tells you that you are entering a different environment, in which carbon fibre characterises the door panels, dashboard and central tunnel.

The steering wheel rim is also made from carbon fibre, as are the paddle shifts for the electro-actuated transmission and the body of the instrument panel, dashboard and door panels, featuring carbon moulding. Looking at the central tunnel, carbon fibre dominates the entire section, acting as a backdrop to enhance the brilliance of the chrome.

The "MC" pedal block complete with kickplate to the left is machined from solid aluminium.

Under the "skin", the suspension has been stiffened thanks to new, stiffer springs, shock absorbers and anti-roll bars; the new suspension set-up is synchronised with a specific Maserati Stability Programme software, allowing the driver more freedom. The car is now 10 mm lower than the GranTurismo S, resulting in on-road performance that is absolutely uncompromising in terms of handling and driving enjoyment.

All the features listed are available either as part of the customisation package, following the indications of Maserati designers; or individually, to cater for the personal tastes of each customer.



Lamborghini, Ferrari and McLaren ? in one

An ambitious modifier inspired by the designs of the Lamborghini Reventon, Ferrari Enzo and McLaren F1 has created this ? the unique Predator Xtreme.

Photographed in California, the Predator Xtreme features a front similar to the Enzo ? Ferrari?s most extreme and expensive production car ever ? with an F1-inspired nose.

The air vents sit beneath the headlights and resemble those first seen on the Lamborghini Reventon hypercar, but which have now been used on the Gallardo LP560-4.


Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 Goes Walking In A Winter Wonderland [Super Cars In Snow]

What happens when you take a soft top Lamborghini Murciélago LP640 out in the snow? Other than hanker for the hard top, we've no idea. But we really wish we did. [via autogespot]


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