29th February 2008

2008 Volvo V70

The V70 is Volvo’s midsize wagon that is all-new for 2008 in both appearance and under the skin, with distinctive styling that draws cues from the Volvo S80 sedan. Still built as a safe family car, the V70 now has a powerful, sporty look with a raised hood and a roof line that slopes down at the rear. Now in its third generation, the new V70 is intended to be more differentiated from the more rugged XC70 built on the same platform, and evolved from the 850 Wagon when it was introduced for the 1998 model year. The 850 wagon marked a change in direction for the company, from previous products that were thought of as safe and sturdy but somewhat stodgy. The V70 Cross Country was added for 2001 as an SUV alternative and became a separate model for 2002, now known as the XC70.

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29th February 2008

V8 racers must keep cool

Round 2 of the V8 Supercar series at Eastern Creek needs to be a little less heated that it was at the Clipsal 500 last weekend..

New V8 Supercars driving standards observer Tomas Mezera will be under pressure to keep a lid on tempers in round 2 of the Championship Series at Sydney’s Eastern Creek, starting on Friday week.

Several collisions and controversial passes triggered an unprecedented level of trash talk among drivers and team owners at the Clipsal 500 at Adelaide last weekend.

The normally measured David Richards, team principal of Ford Performance Racing, was seething after his driver Mark Winterbottom’s race ended when he was an innocent victim of the Craig Lowndes and James Courtney incident.

Stewards investigated the incident between the pair at turn 10 and declared there was no breach of the rules.

Mezera, at his first V8 meeting in the role, had been unfairly blamed for letting Clipsal winner Jamie Whincup’s forceful pass on Winterbottom in Saturday’s opening 250km race go without reprisal.

Most thought Whincup’s move, which resulted in minor side contact forcing Winterbottom wide, hard but legal.

“This mess was endorsed on Saturday,” Richards fumed.

“It leads to someone getting seriously hurt and that is a disaster for the championship and we are all victims in this at the end of the day.

“The sponsors don’t want it and the car manufacturers don’t want to see their cars smashed up every day.”

Richards plans to approach Mezera, who has stepped into the policing role this year to replace Colin Bond, to address the driving standards issue.

Points: 1 Jamie Whincup (Ford) 300, 2 Lee Holdsworth (Holden) 258, 3 Rick Kelly (Holden) 192, 4 Steven Johnson (Ford) 186, 5 Todd Kelly (Holden) 180.


- The Courier-Mail

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29th February 2008

Economy runner

The bright orange-and-white TNT Hino Dutro delivering packages around Sydney suburbs for the past 18 months might look like any other light-duty truck, but this one has been providing TNT and Hino with a glimpse of a cleaner, greener future.

The Dutro in question is the first diesel/electric hybrid truck to enter service in Australia. It has been running regular parcel delivery duties alongside similar diesel-powered trucks as both TNT and Hino assess its potential to reduce both greenhouse gases and fuel consumption. Hino claims the Hybrid Dutro reduces fuel consumption by 30 per cent while cutting NOx emissions by a huge 66 per cent and CO2 by 25 per cent.

To date, the truck has accumulated 44,000km — and according to TNT’s national fleet and equipment manager Paul Wild, it hasn’t given a moment’s trouble. Wild says that while the fuel consumption is reduced, the saving isn’t likely to be sufficient to cover the extra cost of purchasing the truck. Even so, he says the benefits it delivers in reducing greenhouse gas emissions must be considered against the extra outlay.

Because companies such as TNT are becoming more community-minded and have a greener outlook, the extra cost is readily justified by the benefits of reduced greenhouse gases and particulate emissions, Wild says. It’s of particular benefit in city and suburban areas where this truck is operating. The Hybrid Hino is a fourth-generation diesel-electric truck that has been in production in Japan since 2003.

It uses a combination of a normal turbo-diesel engine and an electric motor, which combine to provide the motive power in the most efficient manner depending on the mode of operation at any time.

At four litres, the 110kW four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine is smaller than what would normally be used to power a similar-sized truck; the 243Nm electric motor makes up for the performance loss because of the smaller main motor.

The diesel engine powers the truck when it is at its most efficient, which is when the truck is cruising.

It’s then using less fuel and emitting less toxic gases from the tail pipe, but when the truck is accelerating and the diesel motor is at its least efficient and its most toxic, the electric motor chimes in to provide extra punch, reducing the load on the diesel and providing the zip to keep up with the traffic.

With both motors working in tandem, the overall result is 30 per cent lower fuel consumption, while NOx is down 66 per cent and CO2 is down 25 per cent. To keep the nickel-hydrogen batteries replenished, the electric motor becomes a generator when the truck is decelerating and charges up the power pack.

Brake wear is also reduced through the use of regenerative braking, which uses the electric motor to assist in the braking effort. Not only is the brake life extended, but the emission of brake pad dust into the environment is significantly reduced, further enhancing the Hybrid’s environmental credentials.

The TNT drivers who have been assigned to drive the future freighter have all warmly embraced the technology in the truck. The only aspect they’ve had to become accustomed to is the engine stopping while they’re stationary.

It’s one of the quirks of the hybrid, but one that makes a huge contribution to its fuel saving and reduction emissions. Whenever the truck comes to rest, the engine stops instead of idling but it takes time for drivers to get used to the idea that there is nothing wrong, that when they engage the clutch when the light goes green, the engine will start immediately and they can move away normally.

Hino is currently in the process of having the Hybrid Dutro approved for sale and expects to have it on the market here in September.

- The Daily Telegraph

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29th February 2008

MIMS 2008: a model for every niche

To typically loud music and an even louder showcase of colours and cars, Audi unveiled no less than five new models and concepts this morning at the Melbourne motor show.

Let’s start at the baby of the range, the new A3 Cabrio, which is a dedicated four-seat soft top to rival BMWs newly-launched 1 Series Convertible.

Click here to go to our Melbourne Motor Show page.

It certainly punches above its weight. Audi has followed sister company VW and its Golf/Passat based Eos in choosing strong turbocharged engines for heavier drop-top convertibles. While an entry-level 1.6-litre manual will probably struggle, the 1.8 TFSI auto and 2.0 TFSI manual and auto are well suited to this style of car – and its buyer demographic.

Power is delivered through the front wheels only. This allows for more boot space, and lessens the compromise of AWD or (BMWs) rear drive architecture.

The soft-top, which claims to fold away completely in just nine seconds, is available in either a semi-automatic or a soundproofed fully-automatic version.

This saves on boot space, which is a reasonable 260L, or can open up to 674 litres with a unique 50:50 fold down rear seat arrangement – rare for a Cabrio, let alone one of this size.

The A3 Cabrio should start below $60K, and 120 cars will arrive after July, landing around the same time as a top-shelf TT Cabrio and Coupe

The TTS sees the first S-line performance variant in the iconic TT Coupe’s 10 year history. The drivetrain is essentially an uprated S3 combo: AWD quattro matched to a DSG transmission and Audi’s effective 2.0-litre turbo powerplant.

Audi is claiming 200kW, but in the past models like the S3 had four kilowatts knocked off to ensure reliability in our higher temperatures.

The S-Line sprints from 0-100km/h in 5.2secs in the coupe, 0.2secs more in the cabrio.

Low profile rubber and 18-inch alloys look bottom-clenchingly firm, but standard magnetic dampers may alleviate some of the shockwaves felt when travelling on our potholed roads.

This is an issue which will hopefully be addressed across Audi’s big seller, the A4. The 2008 A4 sedan range is on sale from today, and steps into showrooms in April.

It boasts a completely new platform and suspension setup first seen here in the A5 and S5, and was developed to alleviate the overly firm ride and reactive handling of the previous generation (particularly the more sporty cars on thinner rubber – fine on the German autobahn, but not on Aussie roads).

The base A4 is a 1.8 TFSI starting at $50,900, a 2.0 TDI DSG costs $54,900; and the top-spec 3.2 FSI quattro tiptronic tips the scales at $88,500. A 2.7-litre TDI diesel at $67,900 will arrive in June, and S-Line and RS line variants will hopefully follow soon after.

Which brings us to the ultimate RS car, and flagship of Audi’s Melbourne show line-up.

The second-gen RS6 Avant will retain the hyper wagon’s reputation as the ultimate Q-car, or wolf in sheep’s clothing. Despite its back end suggesting that family take priority, the kiddies certainly take a back seat to its 426kW/650Nm twin-turboed V10. It will sprint from one end of the school car park to the other in 4.6secs, and muscle in to the supercar club with a $259,000 price tag.

And finally, the Cross Coupe Concept showed off another possible niche-filler for Audi’s future. It runs a four cylinder TDI engine, which claims just 5.9L/100km, and a full folding cloth sunroof lightens the load of the ‘compact’ four-seater.


- Carsguide

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28th February 2008

Holden Reveals HSV Commodore

GM’s Australian holding Holden is launching the fastest, most powerful, most expensive road car ever made in Australia at today’s Melbourne International Motor Show. The HSV (Holden Special Vehicles) Commodore is based on the company’s rear-wheel-drive Commodore platform (headed to the states in Pontiac G8 form). Hand-assembled at the Holden Team Racing headquarters, the new HSV Commodore boasts the Corvette Z06′s 7.0-liter, dry-sump V8. With over 500 horses on tap, the Aussie supersedan has more horsepower than any of GM’s stateside four-door offerings… at least until the ’09 CTS-V arrives with 550 supercharged ponies. But is a $150k, premium-slurping V8 monster going to sell in the land of Mad Max with oil likely over $100/barrel for good? Unsurprisingly, HSV boss Scott Grant reckons so. More surprising is the rationale he gave the Sydney Morning Herald: “Holden and HSV have had record sales of V8s over the past 12 months and we believe there is definitely a market for this car.” Whether there’s a non-fleet market for V8′s in Australia now, or after a few more years of rising gas prices, remains to be seen.

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28th February 2008

Volkswagen Scirocco – first official image

After Volkswagen confirmed the launch of the long-waited Scirocco at the Geneva Motor Show, here’s the first official image. According to Volkswagen’s press release, the vehicle offers room for four adults, making it a sports car that can be used on any day of the year.

The Scirocco is driven by a selection of four high-torque, low-consumption TDI and TSI engines of between 90 kW / 122 PS and 147 kW / 200 PS. This new sports car will come with a choice of numerous innovative technologies, such as an adaptive chassis control.

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