automobile

Built for Bond – The All New Aston Martin DB10

Built for Bond – The All New Aston Martin DB10

Staring at the new Aston Martin DB10, set to debut in next year’s James Bond film Spectre, is apparently like gazing into a crystal ball that contains visions of the storied-but-struggling British brand’s future.

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When they unveiled the DB10 at a film event in London yesterday, Aston Martin offered precious few details about the car itself, except to say that they’re only building 10 of them as a special bespoke product intended specifically for the movie. All 10 examples will be used in filming.

Today, we have a little more information, care of Automotive News. First of all, the car is kind of old-school, mechanically. It doesn’t use the new platform Aston is developing for its next generation of sports cars, but rather the older VH (vertical/horizontal) platform first used on the 2004 DB9.

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Also, the car has a V8, not a V12 as we originally suspected. It’s the older 4.7-liter V8 from the Jaguar/Land Rover days that sees still duty in the Vantage. 5

As they develop a new platform set to debut in 2016 at the earliest, Aston Martin will also start shifting their engine range away from their current V8 and V12 toward newer turbocharged engines bought from AMG.

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As gorgeous and potent as Aston Martin’s cars are — and they just closed out an enormously successful racing season in WEC, too — the company has had a rough patch over the past few years. AN reports they announced a pre-tax loss of 25.4 million pounds ($40 million) for 2013. Hopefully, an injection of new product will fix some of these woes

Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang Gets Roaring Good V8 and Lots of Technology Firsts

Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang Gets Roaring Good V8 and Lots of Technology Firsts

As many automakers downsize and turbocharge engines, Ford is doing the exact opposite, sticking with a big, traditional V8 in its highly anticipated Shelby GT350 Mustang, unveiled this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The burly muscle car is a more powerful version of the recently released, all-new 2015 Ford Mustang GT. It features sophisticated upgrades never before seen on a Mustang, such as a MagneRide suspension similar to systems used in the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, Ferrari 458 Italia and Porsche 911.

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The Shelby GT350’s high-revving 5.2-liter V8 produces 500 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, which is 64 horsepower more than the regular Mustang GT and the same amount of torque. This engine recalls the 4.7-liter V8 from the original 1965 Shelby GT350 Mustang, a classic that marked the start of a long association between the Mustang and iconic performance tuner Carroll Shelby.

“If you drive a ’65 GT350, there is such an incredible emotional response you get out of hearing the 289 [cubic-inch V8 engine], and that was just an emotional thing that we needed to reproduce with this car,” said Jamal Hameedi, Ford’s global performance vehicle chief engineer, in a one-on-one interview following the debut at the L.A. auto show.

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Contrast that with the downsized and turbocharged engines of the new BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz AMG GT. Such engines are proliferating because they produce as much power as larger non-turbocharged engines — or sometimes even more — yet get better fuel economy. The tradeoff is that turbos can create a lag in power delivery, and they dampen the distinct engine sound driving enthusiasts relish.

The crankshaft in the Shelby GT350’s V8 is flat instead of circular, which saves weight and thus allows the engine to rev faster than usual so it can develop more horsepower. It’s the first time that Ford is using a flat-plane crankshaft in a production V8.

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But there are other important advances on the Shelby GT350, perhaps most notably the sophisticated suspension system, which uses magnetic currents to vary the ride stiffness based on road conditions and how the car is driven.

“It’s reading all of the sensors every 8 milliseconds and it can react every 10 milliseconds, so it can adjust one single damper to help your turn-in response before the car can even react to it,” Hameedi said.

This is the first time such a system has been used on a Mustang. Paired with the new independent rear suspension system — which debuted on the standard 2015 Mustang — it takes the car’s handling potential to a whole new level. The old joke that American muscle cars can only go fast in a straight line no longer applies to the Ford Mustang, and especially the Shelby GT350.

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Another way the Shelby GT350 mimics the latest high-end sports cars is by offering five driver-selectable modes that vary the suspensions stiffness, throttle response, steering feel, traction control and other parameters.

The specially designed front and rear bumpers have inlets and diffusers to channel air and increase aerodynamic downforce, which helps the car better grip the road. There’s even a tray under this track-oriented Mustang similar to ones used on race cars, which adds more downforce.

All of the body panels on the Shelby GT350 ahead of the windshield are different than those on the standard Mustang. Here again is another contrast from Ford’s past efforts: Whereas former Shelby Mustangs featured raised hoods with so-called “power domes” to accommodate bulkier engines, the new Shelby GT350’s hood is actually lower than that of the regular Mustang.

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This isn’t for looks, but to compensate for the wider front fenders, which increase aerodynamic drag. Making the hood lower offsets the added surface area of the fenders.

“One of the big priorities of the car was that we wanted to create downforce front and rear, which is not an easy feat to do when you’re given a platform and it’s a front engine car,” Hameedi said. “To create downforce on that kind of a car without creating huge drag is pretty challenging, so aerodynamics were a key theme in the beginning of developing the car.”

The only transmission available on the Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang is a six-speed manual, the driving purist’s choice. The massive, cross-drilled brakes are among the most powerful in terms of stopping power of any Ford to date, with the idea that the Shelby GT350 is truly meant to be thrashed on race tracks. To that end an optional Track Pack offers oil and transmission coolers.

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Also in keeping with its singular focus on track performance, the Shelby GT350 Mustang is not loaded up with amenities. Features such as dual-zone climate control, power-operated leather seats, hi-fi audio system and an eight-inch touchscreen must be ordered with the optional Tech Pack. Even the bright chrome accents available on the regular Mustang are expunged from the Shelby GT350, so as not to risk creating distractions with glints from sunlight.

The seats are a big step up from those in the regular Mustang. They are newly designed by Recaro, an Italian company that specializes in making racing seats. They can be upholstered with faux suede, just like in a race car. (Seats in general are getting a lot of attention in performance cars lately; we were very impressed with the ones in the newly redesigned Chevy Corvette, as discussed here.)

Ford has not released full specs for the Shelby GT350 Mustang, but expect a 0-to-60 acceleration time and pricing somewhere between that of the regular 2015 Mustang GT and the previous-generation Shebly GT500, which has a larger supercharged V8 that puts out an astounding 662 horsepower.

“We had a really great successful run with the GT500,” Hameedi said. “We kind of wanted to do something a little different. If we had done a GT500, it would have been nose-to-nose with the [Dodge Challenger] Hellcat. Instead, this is kind of in a white space we think in terms of technology and purpose.”

The Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang, which goes on sale next year, competes directly with the Chevy Camaro Z28, another track-focused muscle car with a non-turbocharged V8 engine.

2016 BMW X5 M is big and bold, not beautiful?

2016 BMW X5 M is big and bold, not beautiful?

Awesome as it is, the BMW X5 M has never really been an attractive machine. Big and bulgy are the themes here, and that’s only more pronounced with the X5’s most recent refresh. But no matter, the X5 M has never been about looks – for this machine, it’s all about performance, and BMW’s hi-po crossover absolutely delivers in this regard.

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Under the hood is the familiar 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V8, though power has been boosted to 567 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque – healthy increases of 12 and 53, respectively, compared to the outgoing model. Hitting 60 miles per hour is said to take just four seconds, which is damn impressive considering this thing weighs well over 5,000 pounds.

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But the X5 M has always been shockingly good to drive, with limits you’ll never reach except in the most hardcore track scenarios (which we’d really like to see, by the way). It’s not the prettiest thing ever, but that’s okay. It’s not exactly cheap, though, with prices starting at $99,650. Woof.

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Tesla P85D is world’s fastest-accelerating sedan

Tesla P85D is world’s fastest-accelerating sedan

Palo Alto automaker Tesla Motors Inc. now builds the quickest-accelerating sedan on the planet, according to a first test by Motor Trend.

The automotive magazine said in a review of Telsa’s Model S P85D, a higher-performance version of its flagship sedan, that the electric car does zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.1 seconds, a tenth of a second quicker than the accepted times of Audi AG’s RS 7 and McLaren Automotive’s F1.

Tesla has said the P85D accelerates at 3.2 seconds with dual motors, but Motor Trend said it clocked the acceleration at the even faster speed of 3.1 seconds.

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The Model S P85D base price is $105,670.

The price of the version Motor Trend tested is $120,170, the magazine said.

“Wall Street suits haven’t ridden in the Model S P85D,” Motor Trend said in a review on its website. “And best they don’t if they want to keep their Brooks Brothers slacks dry, because we’ve just tested it, and as insane goes, it makes Charlie Manson look like Charlie Rose.”

Motor Trend’s high praise comes amid intensified competition for Tesla, whose shares slid roughly 15 percent in the past two months.

The Renovo Coupe by Renovo Motors Inc., a Campbell company which says its sports car is the world’s fastest rear-wheel-drive electric vehicle, does zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.4 seconds and reportedly goes for $529,000.

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Earlier this year, NanoFlowcell AG introduced its Quant e-Sportlimousine, a sports car that tops out at 217.5 mph and runs on a saltwater-based battery.

Most Powerful Audi Ever: R8 V10 Competition

Most Powerful Audi Ever: R8 V10 Competition

Audi R8 “competition” is the most powerful Audi production vehicle ever made, with a factory-certified 0-60 MPH time of 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 199 MPH. That alone should be enough to lure 60 US buyers to Audi dealers to place orders in the next ten days. This car is the final flourish, the finest example of the R8 species. An all-new R8 should arrive in 2015.

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Powered by an uprated version of the Audi 5.2-liter V10, the R8 competition puts 570 horsepower through a 7-speed transaxle. That’s 20 more horsepower than the R8 V10 Plus, and 45 horsepower more than the R8 V10. Stopping power comes from ceramic discs. The car’s appearance is distinguished by matte carbon aerodynamic elements including a broad rear wing, and carbon trim inside. Buyers can access Audi’s evolving personalization program and commission an R8 competition that will be utterly unique in the world.

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Though anticipation of the new holds appeal, buying the final and most spectacular evolution of a car brings many benefits. Any minor quibbles the R8 might have had—the bumpy low-RPM shift action characteristic of a Graziano single-plate transaxle was the most significant issue with early V8-powered R8s—are sorted and resolved. Volumes are low, with only 60 examples coming to the US, which should slow initial depreciation and buoy long-term value. For anyone who wants to own the best possible example of the car that demanded immediate answering salvos from the lads over at Porsche, this R8 is the one.

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R8 competition formally debuts at the LA Auto Show in mid-November, but customers can place orders starting next week, and expect a completed car early in 2015, a perfect way to begin the new year.

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