New SEAT Leon Cupra R

Die hard Seat fans have waited a long time for the return of the Leon Cupra R, but with an expected release in 2010 at around £20,000 it may have been worth the wait.

For a little more than the price of a current Seat Leon Cupra owners will get a fettled 2.0 16V T FSI engine producing 263bhp, a 0-62 mph time of 6.1 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph.  Midly impressive compared to the Cupra’s 236bhp, 6.2 second 0-62 and 153 mph top speed.  The tweaks help more than the performance though as the Cupra R gains an extra 1mpg over the current Cupra’s 34mpg on a combined cycle.  There is no indication whether Seat have managed to drop the CO2 emissions however.

Aesthetically the Cupra R will be splashed with liberal amounts of Cupra and R motifs inside and out… just in case you forget what your driving.

I’ve always liked the new Seat Leon, I would have had one too if I wasn’t about to be a father and my Mazda wasn’t such a steal.

Gallery

Seat Leon Cupra R Exterior
Seat Leon Cupra R Exterior
Seat Leon Cupra R Exterior
Seat Leon Cupra R Exterior
Seat Leon Cupra R Exterior
Seat Leon Cupra R Exterior
Seat Leon Cupra R Exterior
Seat Leon Cupra R Exterior
Seat Leon Cupra R Exterior
Seat Leon Cupra R Exterior
Seat Leon Cupra R Interior
Seat Leon Cupra R Interior
Seat Leon Cupra R Engine
Seat Leon Cupra R Engine

GM Continues to Advance Fuel Cell Design

While most of the world follows the Lithium-Ion battery based electric car design there are some others that still believe in the Hydrogen Fuel Cell. GM have recently improved their fuel cell design further by halving the size of the fuel cell and reducing the cost of production.

The size of GM’s fuel cell is now comparable with an average four cylinder engine whilst still maintaining the same 93 kW (125 BHP) power output as previous designs. The test-bed Chevy Equinox fuel cell vehicle has a maximum range of 150 miles and a top speed of 100mph, if they had used a smaller model then I expect these figures would have been better.

Production costs have been cut by halving the amount of platinum used in the fuel cell, with further reductions expected in the future. With production planned for 2012 the only concern is the costly drive train which will need refining in order to make the cost of the car viable.

Whilst there is still a carbon cost associated with producing hydrogen it is still by far the cleanest of current alternative fuel designs.  My main concern is that a hugely expensive infrastructure will be rolled out to accommodate the recharging of popularised Lithium-Ion cars.  Nobody is going to want to repeat the process for Hydrogen refilling stations.

Further reading:

Fiat and VW set to enter WRC

The Motor Report wites:
THE WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP could be set for a massive boost after it was revealed Fiat and Volkswagen are poised to enter the series next season.

WRC has struggled in the wake of the global financial crisis, with Suzuki and Subaru withdrawing from the championship at the end of last season, leaving the series with only two manufacturers, Ford and Citroen.

However, if the arrival of Fiat and Volkswagen eventuates, the two companies can be expected to give the series a massive boost thanks to their resources and huge global supporter base.

News of the potential new entries into the world of WRC was confirmed by Neil Duncanson, Chief Executive Officer of series owner North One, a British television production company.

“I’ve got one or two (manufacturers) who I think will come in. I don’t want more than four (manufacturers competing in total) because any more than that and they can’t win,” he said to the Financial Times.

Although the reduced cost of competing in WRC compared to Formula 1 is an attraction to manufacturers, Duncanson believes the reason for the arrival of up to two new manufacturers lies in the close resemblance between rally cars and their on-road counterparts.

As a result, Duncanson said the marketing potential of rallying for surpasses that provided by most alternative racing categories.

“The manufacturers find themselves in a much better position because we are selling the real cars,” he said.

The arrival of Fiat in WRC may also have real ramifications for Formula 1 as rumours surrounding the future of Kimi Raikkonen refuse to subside.

Ferrari is believed to have secured the services of Fernando Alonso and sponsor Santander next season, but is unable to announce any deal until a buy-out agreement is arranged with Raikkonen.

However, with the prospect of a factory WRC seat with Fiat a real possibility, Raikkonen may be persuaded to accelerate his move to rallying, while remaining under the company’s corporate banner.

Interestingly, Raikkonen competed at the recent Rally Finland at the wheel of a Fiat Grande Punto S2000.

via WRC Poised For Arrival Of Fiat And Volkswagen | The Motor Report: Auto News And Reviews.

Porsche 911 Hybrid

Auto Express have gotten hold of photos of what appears to be a Porsche 911 Hybrid in testing.

Luke Madden writes:
Here’s a shocking revelation – it’s an electric hybrid version of the Porsche 911!

With the announcement of hybrid versions of the Cayenne and the Panamera, it was only a matter of time before the brand’s performance models received the same treatment.

These photos show a 911 prototype with an interesting bulge on the bonnet carrying a lightning bolt sticker. Our photographers noted that the prototype seemed unusually quiet as it pulled away.

The position of the bulge suggests the electric motor will be located at the front of the car, powering the front wheels whilst a boxer engine at the rear will drive the back wheels.

This technology could offer the option of a front-wheel drive, all electric vehicle or, when performance is needed, a four wheel drive petrol-electric hybrid.

Porsche purists may be sceptical as weighty batteries in the front will balance out the trademark rear-heavy 911, however, a high-mpg, high performance supercar may prove to be a winning formula.

As regulations on CO2 emissions become ever stricter, the hybrid 911 could open the floodgates for other high-performance hybrids. Competitors such as Ferrari are rumoured to be working on a hybrid version of the recently announced 458 Italia.

via Porsche 911 hybrid | Auto Express News | News | Auto Express.

I’m not entirely sure why companies are diving at hybrid concepts when it has been shown that the CO2 and power output of Hybrids such as the Prius and Insight can be matched or bettered by diesel engines.  I expect the main reason for us seeing this hybrid before a 911 diesel is the perceived image. I don’t think that diesels have yet escaped the dirty, noisey, farm machinery stereotype that has plauged them for so long. When compared to the current trend for space aged, eco warrior hybrid engines and drive train its obvious which would be easier to market.

Its a shame really as I think it would be a better idea to use tried and tested diesel technology now and spend the big money researching hydrogen fuel cells, batteries, electric drive trains and transmissions.

Return of the Spyder

Auto Express reveals that Porsche are set to bring back one of their most iconic sports cars: the Spyder.  Based on the VW Bluesport the Spyder will be smaller and more efficient than any of the current crop of Porsche models, being more of a roadster than its nearest sibling the Boxster.

Due to its size power will be drawn from an efficient mid mounted 4 cylinder engine, most likely to be the 200bhp Volkswagen/Audi 2.0 TFSi with a tuned version likely to arrive shortly after its release in 2013.

Read more at Auto Express

2009 Mugen Honda Civic Type-R

The current Honda Civic Type-R has been a bit of a let down for fans of the previous model, its a little tamer and suffers badly from cost cutting exercises such as the loss of independant rear suspension.  However it seems die hard fans can look forward to an even hotter version.

Mugen are to release a tuned version of the Type-R in the UK complete with an aggressive in-your-face aero kit.  Little is known about what Mugen have done to tune the car but it is unlikely they’d leave it at just a dress-up kit.  There is speculation that power will be similar to that of the JDM Civic Type-RR sedan with potentially 237bhp and 160lbft being tweaked out of the 2.0l petrol engine and driven through a six speed gearbox.

Additional rumors include no rear seats, big Brembo brakes and larger 18″ alloys to house them.

Further information

Top Gear’s Stig Revealed?

It would seem Top Gear have decided to reveal the Stig, and in the first episode of there new series.   Stop reading now if you prefer not to know, and definately don’t watch the video!

In the show on Sunday night the Top Gear team revealed the stig as none other than Michael Schumacher!  Now far be it from me to cry hoax, but it seems very convenient that Top Gear revealed Schumacher as the stig at the same time as they had a £1.3 million Ferrari FXX on the track, black just like the one gifted to Schumacher by Ferrari back in 2006.

I would suggest that Schumacher was simply Stig-for-the-day, he drives his own car round the track whilst also providing the Top Gear production with a sensational ‘joke’ aimed firlmy at the press and bloggers who are constanly trying to name the Stig.  And I think they’re right to do it, its a nice two fingers to all the know-it-all keyboard warriors out there desperate for a bit of fame at the expense of our enjoyment.

Knowing the identity of the Stig spoils all the fun, I don’t care if its Damon Hill, Lewis Hamilton or the Top Gear Dog!  Not knowing is what the Stig is all about, its also handy if their usual driver has the sniffles or is half way round the Nürburgring and we’re none the wiser.

Of course, if it has been Schumacher all along it won’t bother me, his (or her) identity is apparently an open secret within the motorsport community anyway.  The press will hopefully now move on to discovering the identities of Big Stig, Rig Stig and the Stig’s African cousin.

Formula One Teams Threaten Breakaway Championship

After discussions with the governing body of Formula One, Eight out of the current ten F1 teams have threatened to break away and form their own F1 championship.   The teams; BMW Sauber, Brawn GP, Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull Racing, Renault, Toro Rosso and Toyota have all submitted conditional entries to the 2010 Formula One Championship.  The two remaining teams; Force India and Williams have submitted unconditional entries and are locked into the agreement regardless of whether the other eight follow through with their threat or not.

It seems to me that the eight teams are bluffing, even though they may hold all the cards.  If the eight were to leave it would have wide ranging repercussions for the Formula One brand, it may be one of the most popular sports in the world but if the big teams were to leave it would be akin to watching 3rd division Irish football teams playing in the English Premiership.  Sponsorship would dry up, fans would leave in droves and F1 would soon be relegated to late nigh slots on Motors TV.

The eight breakaway teams strength lies in the group, for it to work they would all have to hold strong.  As a group in a new championship they would retain a lot of the prestige of F1, the familiar teams would also make it easier for fans to migrate.  The remaining Formula One championship would be limp, the FIA claim there are a host of smaller teams (most of whom have already had the entries rejected) that would be willing to step in.  However,  without the prospective draw of the bigger teams there would be less revenue from sponsorship, TV rights and ticket sales; these smaller outfits would struggle.

I may sound like I’m all for a new championship but I’m not… I’d rather watch Formula One in its existing format.  What I suspect is happening is an attempt by the eight teams to force a change in the FIA management, which may or may not work.  I suspect we’ll all find out shortly.

Nissan’s New 200SX Silvia aims at MX-5?

Auto Express reports that Nissan is considering a two seater roadster as a successor to the S15 200SX. If tru then it looks as though Renault may yet let Nissan return to making a good old affordable sports cars.  With the 350Z and now the 370Z and GT-R proving to be extremelly popular why not keep giving the customers what they want?
Continue reading Nissan’s New 200SX Silvia aims at MX-5?