Audi Centre Canberra acknowledged for excellence

Audi Centre Canberra

The Audi Mark of Excellence awards were held earlier this month and Audi Centre Canberra was named the Metropolitan Dealer of the Year for 2009. This is the third major award for the Canberra dealership after winning the Provincial category for 2007 and 2008. Audi Centre Canberra happens to be my local dealership and after adding one sale to their tally last year I can say that Richard and his team do a great job servicing the Canberra region.

Audi Centre Townsville took out the Provincial award for 2009, a great boon for the dealership after opening a new showroom just over 12 months ago.

Further details after the jump.

Lexus Motorsports

Lexus LF-A returns for Nürburgring 24 hour race

Lexus LF-A

Lexus, in partnership with Gazoo Racing, will return to the Nürburgring 24 hour race this year (13–16 May) with production versions of the LF-A supercar.

The cars will be driven by a mix of Japanese and German drivers, including Toyota master test driver Hiromu Naruse, Takayuki Kinoshita, Akira Ida, Juichi Wakisaka, Armin Hahne, Jochen Krumbach and Andre Lotterer. The driving talent has a great mix of GT racing and proven experience at the N24.

Powered by a 552hp V10 the LF-A certainly isn’t lacking for performance. Indeed, in road-going trim Lexus claim their supercar can reach 100km/h in 3.7 seconds, and is able to exceed 200mph (320km/h+).

Last year Gazoo Racing entered two pre-production models in the 24 hour enduro. They’ll be hoping for better success in 2010 with encouraging, if not spectacular, results achieved in the 2009 race. Only one of the LF-As finished the event, placing fourth in class (from five finishers) and 14th overall, some 41 laps behind the winning Manthey Racing Porsche 911 RSR. The second LF-A managed to complete 106 laps and almost 22 and a half hours of competition before withdrawing from the event.

More after the break.

Motor Shows Skoda

MIMS 2009 – Skoda

Skoda at the Melbourne International Motor Show 2009

Skoda kicked off their presentation at the Melbourne International Motor Show by revealing an updated Octavia range. Matthew Wiesner, Head of Skoda Australia, then introduced Australian cycling legend Phil Anderson to assist with the launch of the Skoda Superb.

Both models certainly look the part and with their Volkswagen DNA they are cars that are not short on substance.

Proving this was a Skoda Scout on display, which recently travelled over 20,000kms around Australia in six weeks.

More pics and press releases below.

Fifth Gear Ford

Fifth Gear drives 2009 Ford Focus RS

Jason Plato from Fifth Gear has been handed a set of keys to the new Focus RS. It’s a pretty wild looking thing, and with 300bhp (225kW) powering the front wheels it sounds like a recipe for disaster. However, thanks to its tricky RevoKnuckle suspension system, which maximises grip, Ford seems to think everything will be okay.

So, it loses marks for lime green paint. It loses marks for hamfisted naming of its technology. But does the Focus RS lose any marks for the driving experience? Not on Jason Plato’s shift, it doesn’t.

Find out more about the Focus RS by downloading this PDF (724kb) or by checking our the website.


Better late than never

Clio Renault Sport F1 Team R27

The Clio Renault Sport F1 Team R27 was first revealed over two years ago in January 2007. Now, finally, we will see this car in Australia at next week’s Melbourne International Motor Show, with sales beginning in April. Although, you may need to get in quick, as only 40 R27s are being imported.

Renault are asking a smidgen under $40K for their hottest of hot hatches, a $3500 premium over the regular Clio 197. If that tickles your fancy, you’ll be able to choose from a palette of three colours; Toro Red, Glacier White and, for an extra $1000, Victory Yellow.

Australia’s newest Clio is powered by the same 2.0 litre engine from the 197 model. So, you get a six-speed manual gearbox, 145kW at 7250rpm, with 215Nm of torque at 5550rpm.

The Clio R27 has the Cup chassis enhancements, which means with stiffer suspension and other tweaks, the more you throw at this little dynamo the more you will receive.

Brembo calipers (312mm front/300mm rear) are wrapped inside some curiously named BeBop anthracite rims. Making sure you can’t forget Renault’s F1 Constructor’s titles from 2005 and 2006 are a series of decals placed over the car, which complete the look.

Inside you get some tasty Recaro seats, saving six kilos over the regular seats. There is also climate control air conditioning and cruise control fitted. Renault’s ESP system helps keep you in check and a plaque individually numbering the car reminds you how special you are.

It’s great that the feisty little bugger is coming down under, but a shame that the feistiest of all Renaults, the Mégane R26.R, won’t be coming to Australia.

Full presser after the jump, plus more pics, including some cool cutaways proving, beyond doubt (haha), the car’s F1 links!

Lamborghini Motor Shows

Gallardo LP560-4 drops its top down under

Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder

The Lamborghini stand at the 75th Melbourne International Motor Show, which starts next week, is going to be a good one. Making its Australian debut will be the Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder. The Gallardo is one of the finest looking supercars money can currently buy, if not the finest. And in soft top form it is just divine. That being the case, then, the sound from its 5.2 litre V10 is like divine intervention. It truly is a message from God!

With a lighter transmission, a reworked V10 engine, new suspension and updated all-wheel-drive system the LP560-4 Spyder can sprint to 100km/h in just four seconds flat. It has a top speed of 324km/h, and to keep Bob Brown happy, has dropped its fuel consumption by 18 per cent and reduced its CO2 emissions to boot.

Joining the Spyder on the Lambo stand will be the Gallardo coupé and the Murcielago LP640. The motor show’s Historic Tribute display will show off supercar royalty in the form of a 1960s Miura. I’m not sure the profile of any supercar has bettered the classic lines of this work of absolute perfection.

If you’re heading to show, make sure you check out the best Sant’Agata has to offer. I doubt you will be disappointed.

More pics after the jump. To download the press document from the 2008 LA Auto Show, including full specs; right click, save as HERE (100kb PDF).

Formula 1 Honda News

Will Honda be saved by F1 virgin?

Will Honda still be f**ked if saved by Virgin?

With just six weeks to go until the 2009 F1 season begins in Melbourne time is fast running out for the former Honda Racing team to find a buyer. The BBC reports that there is hope with several buyers sniffing around the back of the Honda garage. One of those has been confirmed today as being Richard Branson. “We are negotiating with several buyers and one of these parties is the Virgin Group,” a Honda spokesman said.

While the team could be sold for as little as £1, the new buyer would have to stump tens of millions each year just to get to the grid each weekend. It is understood that Honda is willing to offer some cash if a buyer can be found, as this will be cheaper than paying out contracts of the 700-strong workforce.

The F1-Team-formerly-known-as-Honda has negotiated a deal to use Mercedes-Benz engines for the 2009 season, but the German giant has put a deadline in place for the deal to be finalised. According to the BBC report it is expected that deadline could end within a week.

Since Honda announced their withdrawal from Formula One speculation has been fairly constant that buyers are on the lookout for a deal. There was a strong rumour in late December that Mexican telco billionaire Carlos Slim Helú was prepared to be Honda’s saviour, but that proved false.

Also in BBC’s report is speculation that three Honda Racing executives could partner with current team bosses Nick Fry and Ross Brawn to form a consortium prepared to bail out the team.

With the season approaching fast, and the F1-Team-formerly-known-as-Honda still needing to undertake much needed track and crash testing before they get to Melbourne, I guess we will find the answer to this story sooner rather than later.

Source: BBC

Mazda Motor Shows

Mazda3 MPS marching towards Melbourne

2009 Mazda3 MPS

The all new Mazda3 MPS will be on show at the Melbourne International Motor Show from Wednesday 4 March.

Mazda Australia is rushing the 3 MPS down under for display just hours after the car’s worldwide debut at the Geneva Motor Show. The newly scooped pocket rocket will be in Australian showrooms some time after October this year.

For more on the Mazda3 MPS, read this earlier AUSmotive article.

Mazda Motor Shows

All new Mazda3 making moves for Melbourne

New Mazda3

In addition to the facelifted MX-5, Mazda will give an Australian premiere to the all new Mazda3 at the Melbourne International Motor Show, starting on 27 February.

Two Mazda3 models will be on show, a Sunlight Silver Mazda3 Maxx Sport sedan and an SP25 hatchback in Celestial Blue. Doug Dickson, Mazda Australia Managing Director said, “The new-generation Mazda3 has a more expressive and emotional design that emphasises dynamism, and has the driving excitement and agility to back it up.”

Last month the current Mazda3 topped the Australian sales charts. An amazing effort really for a hatchback, and for a manufacturer outside of the more traditional Holden, Toyota and Ford.

Mazda Motor Shows

Mazda MX-5 to refresh MIMS

2009 Mazda MX-5

Mazda revealed its facelifted MX-5 at last year’s Paris Motor Show. Now, it has released a full suite of images of the updated NC model. The refreshed MX-5 will have its first Australian preview on the stands of the Melbourne International Motor Show later this month. It will go on Australian sale in late March.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the iconic roadster. Affordable drop tops are all the rage these days. However, back in 1989 the possibility of a rear wheel drive convertible for sub $30K was not so common.

Amazingly, Takao Kijima has been involved in all three generations of MX-5, “I have been involved with the Mazda MX-5 since the project was first approved in 1986, and was lucky enough to be a chassis engineer on the first model that established the MX-5 roadster’s reputation as an exciting and affordable lightweight sports car.

“I was honoured to succeed Toshihiko Hirai as MX-5 programme manager in 1995 and lead the team on the second and third generation MX-5.”

Still the only “affordable” rear wheel drive roadster on the market the current MX-5 is available with six speed manual or automatic transmissions with a 118kW 2.0 litre four cylinder engine. A traditional rag top is the entry level option, or a folding metal roof can be yours if you choose.

More facelift images after the jump.

Formula 1

Red Bull RB5 explained by Sebastien Vettel

Red Bull racing new boy Sebastien Vettel talks us through the the new Red Bull RB5 which he and our own Mark Webber will use to tackle the 2009 Formula One Season. It’s a very cool clip with the rule changes for the 2009 season explained and accompanied by clever graphics. Vettel promises the rule changes will return more responsibility to the drivers and increase overtaking. Let’s hope he is right.

You can also see the clip direct from the Red Bull Racing website.

(Thanks to Wes for the tip.)

Carmageddon Motorsports News Porsche

Australian Carrera Cup series fails to launch in 2009

Australian Carrera Cup series cancelled 2009

On Thursday it was announced the Australian 2009 Porsche Carrera Cup season would be cancelled due to a lack of cars to fill the grid.

Porsche Cars Australia managing director, Michael Winkler, said “to enter the season without a robust grid of cars is simply not viable for all the major stakeholders. Motorsport is an integral part of Porsche’s activities in Australia so this decision is not taken lightly.

“We have already spoken with the Confederation of Australian Motorsport (CAMS) as the governing body of Australian motorsport and will proactively work with them to ensure existing owners of 997 GT3 Cup Cars are given the opportunity to race in other categories.”

There was an eight round program scheduled for 2009, with the first race planned for the Clipsal 500 later next month.

This news is a real sign of the global financial crisis biting hard at home. It will be interesting to see if those teams with financial backing are able to find alternate series to race in. It will also be interesting to see if the Carrera Cup will return in 2010, or indeed, at all in the near future.

Source: – image courtesy of (Thanks to Richard for the tip.)