VIDEO: Golf R v A45 AMG v S3

VW Golf R v Mercedes A45 AMG v Audi S3

Now that the new Golf R has been launched in Australia it’s timely to check out this video from Dutch car mag Auto Week. Up against the Volkswagen are the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG and VW stablemate the Audi S3.

Remember, all three cars are all-wheel drive and all three use a Haldex-based system.

When watching the video make sure you turn on the English subtitles, otherwise it’ll just be a series of crackles and farts, plus a trio of double-clutch hot hatces.

[Thanks to John for the tip]

Continue reading →

Horner praises Ricciardo’s “brilliant” start

2014 Malaysian Grand Prix

It could be argued that the start to Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull career should read second, fourth, fourth. That would have netted him a total of 42 championship points and placed him third in the title race behind the Mercedes pairing of Rosberg and Hamilton.

As it stands it’s only Daniel’s well earned fourth placed finish in Bahrain last weekend which he has to show for an otherwise impressive start to the 2014 F1 season. He’s shown great raw pace, often pushing the faster Mercedes drivers, as well as proving on track that he’s in no way intimidated by his teammate Sebastian Vettel.

Ricciardo has impressed his immediate boss Christian Horner, too.

“He has been brilliant,” said Horner. “From first practice in Australia he has been right there, driving extremely well, enjoying it, and he’s always got a smile on his face, whether things are good or bad.

“And his racing, if anybody had any question marks over his ability to move forward through the field, he has demonstrated he is right up there with the best.”

Horner added Daniel’s time with an under resourced HRT and under performing Toro Rosso may have hidden his abilities.

“Sometimes equipment does mask the potential of these guys,” explained Horner. “We knew he was good through what we saw in the testing he did with us, and in the simulator, but how good we weren’t quite sure.

“But he’s demonstrated he is absolutely top drawer.”

[Source: Sporting Life | Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]

BMW coming back to Formula 1?

Robert Kubica,  BMW Sauber, 2008 Canadian GP

A new rumour suggests BMW is readying itself for a return to Formula 1 and it could be back as soon as next year. The source of the speculation is Minardi (yes, that Minardi) and on its website it quotes Gian Carlo Minardi:

…German rumour has it that a BMW Board of Directors has been fixed for the month of May to consider a coming back in F1 already for 2015. The promoter of this project is Steven Althaus, Director Brand Management BMW and Marketing Services BMW Group. A confirmation of BMW’s concrete will to evaluate future projects has been the continuous and steady presence of technicians, both in the pre-season testing and during the first races, gathering important information…

It would seem any return to F1 by BMW return would be in the role of engine supplier, rather than constructor. Despite the controversy over the sound of the new V6 power units, the marketing, research and potential sales benefits of this technology makes it the perfect time for car makers to consider F1. A relatively fuel efficient 1.6 litre turbo V6 hybrid has a lot more relevance to road cars than normally aspirated screaming V8s or V10s.

BMW quit F1 at the end of 2009 ending its ownership of the BMW Sauber team (2006–09), having previously supplied engines to Williams (2000–05). BMW’s best success as a constructor came via Robert Kubica’s solitary race victory in the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix.

In 1983 Nelson Piquet won the world championship with a Brabham BT52, powered by a BMW M12 1.5 litre four-cylinder turbo engine.

[Source: Minardi]

2014 Volkswagen Golf R – Australian pricing & specs

Volkswagen Golf R

Volkswagen Australia has followed the launch of the GTI Performance with the all-wheel drive Golf R. Powered by the same 221kW/380Nm 2.0 litre turbo used in the Audi S3 the Golf R is priced from $51,990 with a 6-speed manual, or $54,490 with a 6-speed DSG.

In the Volkswagen Group stable we think a Golf R with 6-speed manual looms as the value pick. It’s $8000 less than an S3, which does offer a manual gearbox but as a no cost option, that is, a manual S3 is the same price as an S3 with an S tronic gearbox.

The Golf R offers full leather seats as a $3150 option, whereas leather is standard in the S3. There are other spec differences too, but that’s perhaps the biggest standout when comparing the two.

In comparison with its Golf stablemates the R is the only that offers ESP Sport, as the VW press material explains:

When the driver presses this switch briefly, Electronic Stabilisation Program (ESP) switches to the “ESP Sport” mode. In very fast driving with lots of bends—such as on a race track—the ESP system reacts with a delay, which enables even more agile handling properties. When the ESP button is pressed for longer than three seconds, the system is fully deactivated…

More details can be read in the suite of press material available for you after the break, which includes the full Australian press kit.

Continue reading →

“Faster than an original McLaren F1”

Chris Harris drives the McLaren 650S

Chris Harris is taking a week off from his Drive duties, which means we can bring you up to speed with what he did in his last video. You may have already seen it, but if not here he is waxing lyrical about the McLaren 650S. As is customary now, we get a bit of behind the scenes technical talk which is much easier to take in than reading press releases word for word.

We only see the car on the track but that’s still enough to make us think we wish we were there too. Just watch the super slo-mo of the 650S slicing through some esses at the 10:00 mark.

But before you do watch the video take a moment to read and take in the quote we’ve used to title this post. Then look out for it in the commentary and also ponder how nonchalantly Harris delivers those words.

Continue reading →

Golf GTI Performance – Australian pricing & specs

Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance

Volkswagen Australia has just launched the Golf GTI Performance. It’s a more highly specced model than the regular GTI and is priced from $48,490. That’s $6500 more than the cost of an entry-level GTI (with 6-speed manual). For the extra cash you get the following standard equipment:

  • 169kW/350Nm engine (+7kW)
  • 6-speed DSG
  • 340mm/310mm ventilated brakes (front/rear)
  • Front differential lock
  • Bi-xenon headlights
  • 19″ Santiago alloys
  • Plus other cosmetic enhancement

Further information can be read below and be sure to download the press kit for more official detail on that front diff lock. Briefly, Volkswagen explains the effect of the diff lock like this:

When accelerating out of a bend, the drive torque is increased at the wheel on the outside of the bend. This produces an asymmetrical drive torque distribution that matches the dynamic wheel load distribution… This lets the driver apply much greater force to the accelerator pedal at the apex of a bend, which in turn results in significantly higher exit speeds of the Golf GTI Performance out of bends.

Continue reading →

It’s party time for Ferrari workers!

Ferrari production line

Ferrari workers in Maranello will be hitting the town’s bars with real intent this week after it was announced they have scored themselves bonuses totalling €4096 (AU$6040).

It’s the largest bonus scheme Ferrari has handed out to its workers and comes thanks to a record 2013 which saw the prancing horse enjoy record profits.

Despite plenty of black in the balance sheets the production schedule is actually in the red, with Ferrari taking a deliberate move to cap total production below 7000 cars annually in a bid to maintain exclusivity of the brand.

So far it seems to be working well.

Continue reading →

Ferrari Racing Days in Sydney this weekend

2013 LaFerrari

Starting on Friday the Ferrari Racing Days event will be taking over Sydney Motorsports Park right through until Sunday afternoon. This is how event organisers are describing the show:

For the first time in Australia, fans will be able to witness the Ferrari 458 Asia Pacific Challenge series and experience the thrill of the official Ferrari F1 show. For three days the circuit at Sydney Motorsport Park will erupt into life with the sound of the 458 Challenge cars, and the unmistakable roar of Ferrari Formula One cars.

In addition to the on-track racing, the weekend will also be ‘Festival of Ferrari’ with multiple showroom spaces being created to house some of the most priceless and classic Ferrari’s the world has ever seen.

Some of the models expected at the event include the F40, F50, Enzo and the world’s fastest car the LeFerrari—which will be seen in-person for the first time ever in Australia.

It’s pretty cool that a LaFerrari will be at the show, although we understand it may only be on static display, rather than spending any time on track. Still, the roar of scarlet red F1 cars screaming around Eastern Creek, among all the other attractions, is sure to drag an impressive crowd along.

If you’re keen, check out the event website for more information.

VIDEO: BMW M235i v Lexus IS-F drag race

BMW M235i v Lexus IS F

This video is like popcorn. It’s crap and you know it’s crap. You hate yourself for enjoying it, but you just can’t help yourself.

So, then, a six-cylinder turbo down on power up against a free revving normally aspirated V8 with a significant horsepower advantage. A straight line, of course, they’re in the US after all, who’s going to win? The BMW does have the benefit of lighter weight.

After you’ve watched the unedited video below, if you really want to assault your ears, and maybe your intelligence too, watch this.

Continue reading →

Mercedes-Benz GT AMG to target 911

Mercedes-Benz GT AMG rendering

This rather nice looking rendering has been created by Autocar and accompanies its story on the Mercedes-Benz GT AMG.

So what is this GT AMG thingy, then? Think of it as a sub-SLS sportscar which has been created to target what seems to be the default industry benchmark, the Porsche 911. It’s due to be revealed at the Paris Motor Show in October, with Euro sales to commence about a year from now.

Powered by a 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 engine (M177) producing 500hp, give or take, depending on the tune, it will be rear-wheel drive only and coupled to a 7-speed double clutch transmission. The two-seater, codenamed C190, will be wrapped in an aluminium body and is expected to weigh 1480kg.

The GT will be similar in size to the SLS, but will feature conventional doors and a more accessible opening rear hatch.

Production for the SLS is about to end and the GT will partly bridge the gap until the next-gen SLS arrives in coming years. Gorden Wagener, head of design at Mercedes-Benz says the GT will have a more modern appearance than the SLS and will cast a new visual language for other models to follow.

“It makes the SLS look dated,” Wagener claimed.

[Source: Autocar]

Pencil in 2016 for BMW M2

BMW M235i Racing

The BMW M235i Racing will inspire the M2 according to a new report which claims the model will be launched in 2016.

Boasting flared guards and other model-specific styling is expected to follow the path of its predecessor, the 1 Series M Coupé, by stuffing a host of M3/M4 parts beneath its finely sculpted exterior.

The majority of speculation so far focuses on the M2 being powered by a 3.0 litre turbocharged straight six-cylinder engine producing around 300kW (400hp). However, we think you should be very open to the idea of the M2 being powered by a four-cylinder.

After all, Porsche reckons they can make 300kW from a four-pot, so why can’t BMW?

[Source: Left Lane News]

2014 Bahrain Grand Prix in pictures

2014 Bahrain Grand Prix

It took almost 58 years for Mercedes to repeat its 1-2 podium result from 1955. And after doing so in Malaysia last week it took just seven days to do it all over again in Bahrain, a world away from the era Juan Manuel Fangio once ruled.

Lewis Hamilton collected his second win on the bounce and it seems the only thing that can stop the two Mercedes AMG drivers will be each other. If they keep up that spectacular on track dicing it won’t be too long until the pair come to blows.

After the break you can relive the first night time race in Bahrain and the 900th grand prix of the modern era.

Continue reading →

MINI slashes Australian pricing for F56 introduction

MINI Cooper (F56)

MINI Australia will be rolling out the new F56 range across the country this month and has announced it has slashed pricing compared with outgoing R56 models.

“The new MINI receives the latest technology and features for a much higher level of refinement,” said MINI Australia GM, Kai Bruesewitz. “At the same time, we’ve retained the engaging ‘go-kart’ driving style this iconic vehicle is known for.

“But the best news for Australian MINI fans is that we have been able to reduce the pricing of the all-new MINI, making it more accessible than ever before.”

At launch there will be three models on offer:

  • MINI Cooper – $26,650
    (1.5 litre 3-cyl petrol engine, 100kW/220Nm, 4.7l/100km, 0–100km 7.9s)
  • MINI Cooper D – $31,800
    (1.5 litre 3-cyl diesel engine, 85kW/270Nm, 3.7l/100km, 0–100km 9.2s)
  • MINI Cooper S – $36,950
    (2.0 litre 4-cyl petrol engine, 141kW/280Nm, 5.9l/100km, 0–1006.8s)

Lined up against old pricing, the Cooper D has dropped $3000, the Cooper S $3750 and the Cooper has had $5000 slashed from its list price.

Further details are available below, including a brief overview of included equipment. Full specs will be available closer to launch.

Continue reading →

“Whoa! What was that?”

Esteban Gutierrez gets flipped off my Pastor Maldonado

The most spectacular incident from this morning’s Bahrain Grand Prix happened when Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado drove into Esteban Gutierrez and flipped over the young Mexican and his Sauber C33.

Gutierrez, bemused immediately after the impact and now resting back on his wheels, asked over the radio: “Whoa! What was that?”

Thankfully, we can laugh about it now because Gutierrez was not hurt.

After the break we have a series of photos captured by those watching the race and shared with the world via twitter, starting with the image above from the BBC.

For his troubles Maldonado received a 10-second stop-go penalty and will also incur a five-place grid penalty after qualifying at the next grand prix. And, yes, in case you were wondering, that is in no way commensurate with the 10-second stop-go penalty and subsequent 10-place grid penalty for harming nobody after driving 100m down pit lane or so with a loose wheel handed down to our Daniel!

Maldonado has also been handed 3 points against his Super Licence, which could lead to a race suspension if he accumulates 12 or more points this season.

UPDATE: Thanks to Scott for the YouTube link, which has been embedded below.

Continue reading →