31st October 2010

2011 Mazda2 Video













Launched internationally in 2007, the Mazda2 is finally released stateside as a 2011 model. Typically, a subcompact car such as this can have unpleasant ride and handling and not a lot of room for passengers or cargo, but the Mazda2 surprises in both respects, according to Cars.com editor Bill Jackson. Watch as Bill takes as through the pros and cons of both the automatic- and manual-transmission models.

2011|Mazda|Mazda2


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31st October 2010

The Night Of The Living Dead Brands


TTAC has long interpreted the industry’s trend towards global product lines and component-sharing as requiring a few strong, focused brands rather than the scattershot approach defined over several decades by General Motors’ mess of poorly-defined brands. But the industry wasn’t always marching to the beat of the fewer, better brands drummer. Once upon a time, the American car market teemed with foreign and domestic brands of all sizes and persuasions, offering consumers a nearly unfathomable level of choice. And though we know we’ll never return to the days that saw Borgwards and Crosleys sold alongside MGs and Matras, we do sometimes long for a return to those Wild West days when there were more brands than anyone knew what to do with. And since we’re approaching the corpse-exhuming-est holiday of the year, we’ll go ahead and ask: if you could resurrect a dead brand through a dark and unholy ritual, which would it be and why?

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31st October 2010

Bentley to diversify Continental line-up

It’s kind of amazing how Bentley has managed to stay on top of its game despite having only one model to work with: the Continental. Sure, the Mulsanne has come and arrived, but for the longest time Bentley was a one-model company. That is if you don’t include the number of alliterations the Continental has come in.

According to Autocar, now that the 2011 Continental GT is here, the boys at Bentley have bigger plans for the new model.

To diversify the new Continetal model, Bentley is looking into following in the blue print Porsche has constructed with the 911. That means different variants of the model offered in different derivatives, including special editions.

For their part, Bentley is looking at keeping interest in the brand and keeping drastic sales fluctuations at a minimum, thus the intention of spreading the brand’s volume more evenly than in the past. “We’ve learned that we need to smooth fluctuations,” said Bentley marketing chief Aladair Stewart.

The move is expected to bolster sales of the brand and keep its line-up fresh. There’s something to be said about the formula Porsche uses with the 911. Now, Bentley is looking to follow suit with the new Continental.

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31st October 2010

Report: Israel orders million-dollar armored Audi A8

Report: Israel orders million-dollar armored Audi A8

by Noah Joseph (RSS feed) on Oct 30th 2010 at 8:01PM


2011 Audi A8L – Click above for high-res image gallery

The President of the United States may be the highest target for assassination in the world – hence Cadillac One, his custom, leather-lined tank – but there’s no shortage of people in the Middle East who’d bite that the opportunity to take a shot at the Prime Minister of Israel. (The recently commemorated assassination of late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is evidence enough.) It comes as no surprise that the Shin-Bet – Israel’s national domestic preventative security force – has ordered a new armored limousine to transport the country’s head of government.

The duties had been carried out until now by a motor pool of American and German vehicles, accompanied by Japanese SUVs in leapfrog formation (it’s a wonder to behold if you’re ever seen them in motion), but will soon be taken over by a specially-commissioned Audi A8 Security.

The car is reportedly based on the Audi A8 (likely the long-wheelbase version) with the 450-horsepower, 6-liter W-12 engine, Quattro all-wheel drive, B6+ and B7 ballistic protection, run-flat tires, an independent oxygen supply for the cabin, a fire-suppression system, explosive charges to free the doors in case of shockwaves, a DVD entertainment system, drinks fridge and humidor (Netanyahu’s a known cigar aficionado). Those, of course, are just the features we know about, and given Israel’s leading position in security equipment, we don’t doubt there’s plenty more that remains undisclosed. The car is said to cost around $700K from the factory, but add the country’s incredibly high taxes – which the government still has to pay, but not on the security equipment – and you’re looking at a cool million.

Gallery: 2011 Audi A8 L

[Source: Globes]

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31st October 2010

How to clean the windows on a $2.6 million Veyron Super Sport

So the Veyroniest Veyron is pretty sweet, eh? Four turbos, sixteen cylinders, 1106 pound feet of twist and a single digit quarter-mile time. Indeed the Veyron 16.4 Super Sport is a 1200 horsepower show stopper, a $2.6 million dollar panty dropper – with one exceptionally ridiculous problem.

How on earth do you clean that rear window?

Here’s the problem: One of the most prominent upgrades to the Super Sport is that smooth new NACA-ducted roofline which Bugatti claims improves aerodynamics and helps the big V achieve its 268 mph land speed record. But know what else it does? It puts the rear window in a dark little cave, out of reach of the even the longest arms of a professional automotive detailer.

And even though it is protected from rain and birds and random blasts of road grime, wind vortices swirling off the back end do draw in a bit of dust and moisture.  Enough to coat the back glass with a fine layer of dust during a short stint of driving I had in sunny and dry Seville.

The solution? One of the most fantastic, Rube Goldbergian contraptions I have ever seen – but you’ll have to pay close attention because its operation is a bit confusing.

But let’s examine the problem.  The window we’re talking about is the vertical slice of back glass that separates the cabin from the engine bay. At first, the problem looks pretty simple, except when you realize that a long arm won’t reach and even if it did, the who ever is reaching in runs the risk of burning himself if the car has been running for even a short while.

Simply using a long stick with a chamois on it won’t work either, as it lacks the dexterity and leverage to clean the edges or any serious grime on the outside window. Plus, c’mon, a stick and chammy for a THE baddest Bug?

No. Bugatti is working on a better solution and showed us a prototype at the introduction of the car in Spain. The device in question was developed by one of Bugatti’s engineers who also just happens to be a hardcore fish freak.  After careful consideration of the problem he came up with a solution that utilizes technology aquarium fanatics use for cleaning hard to reach areas in large fish tanks. Magnets!

As I explain how it works, you’re going to need to refer to photos – trust me.  The device has three major parts: a lightweight telescoping arm and two cleaning pads.  Each of the three parts has at least one magnetic element embedded inside.  On the tip of the cleaning wand is a semi-strong magnet that allows it to hold firmly to the back of the half spherical cleaning pad.  Under the chamois-like cleaning cover and padded face of the half sphere is another stronger magnet (or perhaps a piece iron, I’m not exactly sure) that allows it to stick to another cleaning pad (the black knobby one in the pictures).  The flat faces of these two pads are kept separated by a simple ring of plastic, so that the cleaning cloths are kept apart and the pieces are relatively easy to separate. Got it?

You will once you see how it works, which is so deliciously complicated it requires two people. First, the three-piece gadget is separated into two pieces: the two pads are separated from each other, with the half spherical side left attached to the telescoping wand. That knobby half is given to a fella who then gets into the cabin of the Super Sport and waits.  The guy outside of the car then extends the three section arm to position the face of the half sphere on the back window.  Now here is where it gets tricky: the guy on the inside of the glass aligns the face of his cleaning to match the face of the one on the outside.  Because they are magnetized, both pads lock into place with the glass sandwiched in between.  Since the magnetic force is stronger between the two pads, the guy holding the arm can just pull back, leaving the outside half sphere magically (if you’re an ICP fan) stuck to the outside glass.

And because both of these pads are covered in a cleaning cloth, the guy inside can clean the inside and outside glass quite quickly with some vigorously applied elbow grease.  Much quicker that it takes to explain the process, in fact. Once the cleaning is complete, removing the pads is as simple as reversing the attachment process.  The tip of the arm magnetically attaches to the outside half sphere and the guy on the inside gingerly twists off his section.  The outside half then releases from the glass and all is right again in your super luxurious world.

Does it work? Absolutely, I saw it with my own two eyes and even messed with it a bit.  Ridiculous? God yes. The thought and effort that went into solving this somewhat minor issue created by the new Veyron is only slightly less staggering than the Super Sport itself. And it is such a complicated, yet efficient solution, it could only come from Germany.

Downsides?  Well it’s not finalized yet. Bugatti is still working out kink, like where to store the damn thing. The tiny front trunk of the Veyron is completely filled by its car cover and there is little room in the cabin for even a fully collapsed wand. And given that the device is used to service Bugatti’s baddest Bug, the device will likely cost an extra $50,000.

In America, I think we’d keep the money and use a powerwasher for the dirt and blast the glass dry with leaf blower.

















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30th October 2010

Robust 2nd quarter ups Honda’s profit forecast

Honda Motor Co. raised its full-year profit forecast Friday, after reporting a surge in earnings for the July-September quarter on the back of higher sales.

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