Home » February 2012
Lamborghini MLC SUV to debut in Beijing

According to a report in Auto Express, Lamborghini has finally admitted that it will be revealing an early take on its new model, an SUV, at the Beijing Auto Show in April. Said to have "a high-rise version of the Estoque" front end, two doors and punched-out rear wheel arches, it will sit on the same platform as the Volkswagen Group's other premium SUVs from Audi, Porsche, VW and possibly Bentley.

A bit of oddity is that Auto Express pegs the name as the MLC. If such is the case, perhaps its a return to the only other SUV naming convention Lamborghini's had, the alphanumeric LM002, but "MLC" strikes us as a bland, sexless waste of a chance to append something brutishly and memorably taurean.

Speculation all along has been that the MLC would get a retuned version of the V10 from the Gallardo. If the output of the MLC's mill is 584-horsepower as per the report, that would be 41 horses beyond the Gallardo. A hybrid model to follow would get that over the 600-hp mark. Production is rumored to happen in 2015, with an estimated $200,000 price tag putting it well above anything that isn't from Bentley or Russia.

And for those who still dream of an Estoque, the MLC might not be the only Lamborghini borrowing a platform. The arrow-nosed four-door Estoque is said to remain under consideration, and just as the Cayenne led to the Panamera, a production Estoque could be prepared based on the next-generation Panamera's underpinnings.

2012 BMW M6 is revealed

It's the second M car to get the very highly pumped 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine and therefore boasts 552bhp and 502lb ft of torque. That's more power than the Jaguar XKR-S. Power, naturally, goes to the rear wheels via a seven-speed M double clutch gearbox with launch control.
As such, BMW quotes a 0-62mph time of 4.2 seconds for the Coupe, and 4.3 seconds for the Convertible, 0-124mph in 12.6 seconds (13.1s for the drop-top) and the option of a 189mph top speed with the ‘M Driver's Package'.
Despite this herculean power and acceleration, BMW still reckons the Coupe will return 28.5mpg, though we suspect anyone achieving this hasn't really got the point of a twin-turbo V8. There's a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic roof for the coup', start-stop, and other Efficient Dynamics stuff, which brings CO2 emissions to 232g/km (239g/km for the convertible).

There's an M differential between the rear wheels for better traction and stability during "dynamic lane changes and accelerating out of corners", and as expected, you get the full menu of dynamic damper control, DSC, lightweight brakes (with an option for M carbon-ceramics), and the customary Big Fat Button Of M, to call up previously stored car setup configurations. Set it to maximum and then sellotape it.

The Big Six gets a modelled lower air intake, flared arches - to compensate for the 30mm extra track width over the standard car - M gills, a rear apron with diffusers, twin exhausts and 19in wheels. 20s are an option. Inside, there's lots of M badging, some leather, carbon fibre strips, illuminated sills and some digital assistants including lane departure warning, surround view, night vision with pedestrian recognition (do you really need a computer to tell you what a human looks like?) and Internet access. 

To aid your ruminations, consider the price: the Coupe costs £93,795 and the Convertible costs £98,995. Both will go on sale in the UK on 15 September 2012.

Latvala wins Rally Sweden

Jari-Matti Latvala has taken his second Swedish triumph, his sixth career WRC victory.

After an early day 2 scrap with former team-mate Mikko Hirvonen, and despite a puncture on SS22, Latvala controlled from the front on day 3 to defeat Hirvonen by 16.6 seconds. In addition to picking up his first 25 points of the season, Latvala also picked up one point for third place in the Power Stage, which was won by Sébastien Loeb with Peter Solberg taking two points for second best time.

No one argue that this win was a long time coming for Latvala who has matured into a proper championship contender. Ford’s lead driver scored his first WRC victory in Sweden in 2008 and today he returns to the top step of the podium in the gorgeous white winter land.  "I won this rally four years ago and now I have won it again” said an ecstatic Latvala. “I am really happy for the team and Petter did a very good job. We still have a lot of work to do, but we want to fight with Citroen this season. It is really special to win here, four years after I won my first rally here. This is the first rally I have won two times. We had a lot of pressure following Monte-Carlo and this takes all that pressure off. I think we are going to really challenge Citroen, because we are working so hard," concluded the happy Finn.

Mads Ostberg made the most of a puncture from Petter Solberg as well as putting in a spirited drive on Sunday to complete the podium, his second such performance two-years running in Sweden after he took second in 2011. Solberg had to settle for fourth place ahead of Evgeny Novikov, who takes his second top five result of the season.   

Sébastien Loeb had a long weekend, including time lost with spin, getting caught in a snow bank and punctures, and had to push hard on Sunday to overtake Henning Solberg for sixth place. But he retains his lead in the championship thanks to his best time on the Power Stage. Patrik Sandell was the only Mini to finish in the points, after the engine in Dani Sordo’s JCW WRC gave out on day one. The Sweden gave his countryman something to cheer for with an eighth place showing. Martin Prokop scored points for a second consecutive round in taking ninth, while Eyvind Brynildsen scored a world championship point in his maiden WRC outing.

1 Loeb 3pts
2 P. Solberg 2pts
3 Latvala 1pt

1 Latvala
2 Hirvonen +16.6s
3 Ostberg +38.8s
4 P. Solberg +1:14.3s
5 Novikov +2:41.4s
6 Loeb +2:55.0s
7 H. Solberg +3:49.5s
8 Sandell+5:08.9s
9 Prokop +5:30.0s
10 Brynildsen +6:27.1s

1Loeb 39 points
2 Hirvonen 32
3 P. Solberg 29
4 Latvala 26
5 Novikov 21
6 Sordo 18
7 Ostberg 15
8 Delecour 8
9 Campana 6
= H. Solberg 6 

Aston V12 Zagato reaches production

It first made waves at the Villa d'Este last May; from there it raced as a prototype in June at the gruelling Nürbürgring 24hrs, and last September made an appearance at the Frankfurt motor show. All as a full-blooded, big-winged cabin-less race car.

Next week, in Kuwait, Aston Martin will finally reveal the road-going production version of its lightly expensive and gently unique Aston Martin V12 Zagato. And it will look like this.

The new V12 builds on just over 50 years of history between the British and Italian firms, the first DB4 GTs with Zagato bodies appearing as racecars in 1961. Think of the new V12 Zagato as Aston's Golden anniversary present, to itself.

Aston Martin's chief, Dr Ulrich Bez, said: "Our relationship with Zagato stretches back more than 50 years. Together in that time we have created a series of very special cars. The first - the DB4GT Zagato - is a true icon: fast, beautiful and incredibly desirable. In the V12 Zagato I believe we have captured the spirit of that car and combined it with a confident twist of modernity to give it a character all of its own."

Each Zagato takes around 2,000 man hours to complete, and is constructed from hand-crafted aluminium and carbon fibre, just like the One-77. The car sits on a V12 Vantage platform with that body, complete with 'double-bubble' roof, bonded to the aluminium structure of the base car, designed by Aston Martin design chief Marek Reichmann's team in Britain. In fact, the Aston designer insists the new Zagato takes cues from the past, but forges a new design language for future Astons.

There's also a lovely bespoke interior, and the major hardware of the donor Vantage remains unchanged, so you're looking at a 6.0-litre V12 with 510bhp and 420lb of torque. Just 150 are being built, and they'll cost £330,000 plus taxes.

Audi R8 GT Spyder priced at $211,200

Audi released last week pricing for the 2012 R8 GT Spyder. The all-wheel-drive, Lamborghini-V10-sporting convertible will sticker for $211,200 with destination. Only 333 examples will be built, with just 50 coming to the United States. Audi built the same number of hardtop GTs, with 90 coming stateside.

Output goes up to 560 hp in the open-top R8 GT, with 398 lb-ft of torque. The 5.2-liter, direct-injection V10 will sprint to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, with a top speed of 197 mph.

Audi dropped 187 pounds from the R8 V10, which not only improves acceleration but increases fuel economy. The engine cradle is made from ultralight magnesium, while the soft-top cover and rear side panels are made from carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer. The fixed rear spoiler is carbon fiber as well.

The GT Spyder is 10 millimeters lower than the R8 V10, and the suspension has a stiffer calibration. XYZ ventilated and cross-drilled rotors provide stopping power, with 19-inch wheels at all four corners.

Visual cues on the GT Spyder include a larger rear diffuser, front splitter and a fixed rear spoiler. The interior is black, only. Accent stitching can be ordered in gray or red. Alcantara trim adorns the seat inserts, flat-bottomed steering wheel, parking brake and windshield frame.

Deliveries begin this month.

Ferrari reveals 2012 F1 car

 Here's the new one, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa's 2012 contender, launched just now. And what can we say? Possibly that it's best viewed from above?

Actually the plan photograph does show it to be an incredibly tidy design with an extremely narrow rear thanks to magical gearbox shrinking technology. The sidepods are also significantly abbreviated with some cute little aero tricks at the leading edge.

Unlike the McLaren, Ferrari is saying the F2012 is an evolution of last year's not-ever-to-be-called-the-F150. Like the McLaren, it massively borrows from the Red Bull book of making quick F1 cars quicker by going one step further in switching its rear suspension concept from ‘push-rod' to ‘pull-rod', all in the name, once again, of making the car clean in front of the rear wing.

Then there's the nose. The explanation for McLaren avoiding the blight of the platypus snout is apparently that the boffins at Woking have always followed a lower nose aero-concept, so making the tub work with this year's new 7cm lower nose was less of a challenge.

The F2012 won't be getting any shakedown miles any time soon. Fiorano is under a ton of snow. Next week, however, is the first official F1 test of the season. More significantly, Monday is the launch of the Red Bull RB8. It's going to be interesting to see if Adrian Newey goes ugly, too. We somehow doubt it.

TOYOTA TS030 Hybrid - Onboard with Alex Wurz

BMW X6 M50d (2012) leads facelifted X6 range

BMW is facelifting its most controversial model, the X6. And what better way of tidying up this coupe-cum-SUV than adding a diesel M version?

The new X6 M50d is among the first of a new range of stop-gap M models to slot between the full M GmbH cars and the trim-level M Sport models. It'll sit alongside the new BMW M550d xDrive also unveiled today.

It has a new upgraded version of the same 3.0-litre straight six TwinPower turbodiesel, with greater boost from three turbochargers to deliver 376bhp and a monstrous-sounding 546lb ft of torque.
It's the most powerful diesel BMW has ever built.

It's the most powerful diesel BMW has ever built. 

So the new BMW X6 M50d (2012) is quick, right?
Oh yes. This is another fast four-by-four to spark fierce debate in chartrooms up and down the land. It hits 62mph in 5.3 seconds - enough to embarrass many Porsches.
BMW defends such high-riding lunacy by pointing out that the new X6 M50d also averages 36.7mpg and CO2 emissions stand at 204g/km. 

And what's all this about the X6 being facelifted?
BMW has indeed refreshed the X6. As you'd expect from any of Germany's premium car manufacturers, this is a modest facelift. Any untoward blinking, and you may indeed miss it.
The chrome grille is a little wider and the detail bars are new; the foglamps are repositioned; active LED headlamps are now available; out the back, you'll find a rear lamp cluster with subtly different graphics and those now-trademark horizontal light bars that make the latest 5-series so distinctive at nighttime.
It's not all cosmetic. Much of the front-end tidy-up in fact improves engine cooling and breathing, while new flaps beneath the front apron are designed to boost stability.
And if the X6 M50d isn't fast enough, can I still waste my money on an X6 M?
Naturally. If you've got a spare £85,680 lying down the back of the sofa for an X6 M. The new super-diesel SUV-coupe-thing X6 M50d costs considerably less at £62,260, landing in UK dealerships on 16 June 2012.
You can order the same spec X5 M50d for a couple of grand less; it wears a price tag of £60,325 and has the same breathed-upon 3.0-litre twin-turbodiesel.