Honda Motorsports

VIDEO: Helter Skelta at Pikes Peak

Jeff Denmeade, 2012 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

It’s often said if you want a job done right you have to do it yourself. And after featuring not one, but two videos of home grown lads getting it all wrong at Pikes Peak we can thank Aussie Jeff Denmeade and his Honda powered Skelta for showing the locals how it’s done.

After the break there are two videos showing Denmeade and Catherine Hammond climb their way to the top of the demanding Pike Peak course. The first from inside the cabin, the latter from the roof of the Australian-built Skelta.

We have to tip our hats to Jeff and Catherine, too, not only for making the return trip to Colorado, but with a time of 11:19.722 they also managed to finish third in the Pikes Peak Open Class (23rd overall). A very tidy effort considering the rain and sleet they encountered as they neared the summit.

Thanks also go to long time AUSmotive reader Stu for bringing our attention to these videos. Stu now lives in the States and was actually in Colorado for the event. A multiple Targa Tasmania competitor, he included this note:

I know why people who are not from the area get there a week before to acclimatise. The bottom of the mountain is already 1600m above sea level and by the time we drove to the top we were feeling quite light headed. Even driving a hire car up at slow pace its quite unnerving as you just have these sheer drop offs!

[Thanks to Stu for the tip | Pic: Jason Odell]

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2012 Detroit Motor Show photo gallery

2012 Detroit Motor Show

Here we have a selection of images from the floor of the Detroit Motor Show, or more correctly, the North American International Auto Show.

Unlike Tokyo late last year there’s a noticeable lack of weird and wonderful concept creations, but we certainly applaud the appearance of the Honda NSX Concept. It’s easily the clear star of the show in our eyes.

Not so fortunate is the Chevrolet Code 130R concept; a BMW 1 Series Coupé that somehow turned out all wrong. So, too, the Chrysler 700C. Seriously, does anyone actually look at these things before they are put on the stand. And if they do, then we’ll have some of whatever it is they’re smoking please.

Equally, we can’t quite understand the fascination the North American audience has had with the Ford Fusion. Its poor mans Aston Martin-like grille is an embarrassment.

Anyway, there’s 50-odd pictures for you after the break. Why don’t you be the judge and tell us what you like and don’t like.


OFFICIAL: The new BMW 1 Series hatch

BMW 1 Series hatch (F20)

Here are the official words and images for BMW’s new world order 1 Series. For now, we’re still in rear-wheel drive mode, but don’t forget there is a front-wheel drive 1er is on the way, too.

The slightly bloated F20 1 Series is 85mm longer and 17mm wider than the E87 model it replaces. Overall height remains the same. Other measurements of note to change include the wheelbase, 30mm longer, and, significantly, the front track is now 51mm wider and the rear track has had 72mm added. All that means there’s now an extra 21mm legroom for rear seat passengers and the rear cargo area now offers 360 litres of space, up from 330 litres.

Five four-cylinder engines are offered in this initial release and, for the first time in the compact class, an 8-speed auto is available. The 135kW 120d is the quickest model announced to date and can reach 100km/h in 7.2 seconds. You can thank a generous 380Nm of torque for that.

There are two other diesel engines provided, as well. The 118d has 105kW/320Nm and reaches 100km/h in 8.9 seconds. The entry-level 116d offers 85kW/260Nm and requires 10.3 seconds to reach the speed limit. All feature common rail injection, TwinPower Turbo technology and use around 4.5 litres of diesel per 100km.

Completing the engine range is a 125kW/250Nm 118i (7.4s 0-100) and a 100kW/220Nm 116i (8.5s 0-100). Like the diesels, the petrol engines rely on forced induction and boast fuel consumption in the high 5s per 100km.

So far it looks like the new 1 Series isn’t winning many fans for its looks. We’re still convinced feelings will soften once we start seeing the 1er on the road, but tend to agree it’s certainly not the prettiest car BMW has ever made.

After the break there’s a concise press release and a massive image gallery of 85 pics to help you get used to the new look.

UPDATE: The press material released by BMW Australia only lists info on the 118i, 116i and 118d; surely giving a hint to their model plans for the F20. They’ve also offered a far more detailed press release, which has now been added below.

UPDATE 6 June: BMW Australia is expected to launch the new 1 Series some time after October this year.

Volkswagen WRC

Volkswagen to announce WRC plans next month

Volkswagen Motorsport - Dakar 2011

Autosport brings word that Volkswagen are set to announce their intention to enter the World Rally Championship in 2012. It is understood Volkswagen had hoped to launch their new program ahead of Rally Portugal, however, final sign off was not achieved in time. It is now expected VW will confirm their WRC entry prior to Rally d’Italia on Thursday 5 May.

Following the path set by MINI and Prodrive, Volkswagen will run a reduced program in 2012 before tackling the full WRC calender in 2013. Indeed, earlier this year, it was Prodrive chairman Davie Richards who gave us the biggest hint yet that VW were serious about WRC.

It is believed Volkswagen will use the Polo as the basis for its WRC car. Petter Solberg, 2003 WRC champion, and Nasser Al-Attiyah, reigning Dakar title holder, are two names being considered for a place behind the wheel.

[Source: Autosport]


2012 Audi A3 revealed in sketch form

Audi A3 sketch

Five sketches have emerged detailing the look of the new Audi A3 hatch and sedan. Next year the third generation A3 hatch will be released; it will be the first model built on the platform which will underpin the Golf VII and many other Volkswagen Group products. In 2013 the A3 sedan will follow, which we know will be launched in the US and Germany. We can only assume the sedan model will reach other markets, but this is yet to be confirmed.

We don’t really see anything in these sketches that we shouldn’t expect. The lines have been sharpened up a bit, but really, we’re seeing an evolution of the current 8P shape here, rather than revolution. Of course, we were given a big preview of what to expect with the A3 concept “notchback” at Geneva last month.


MINI WRC Team officially launched

MINI WRC team launch

The MINI WRC Team was officially launched in Oxford overnight. To celebrate the occasion, one of the team’s works drivers, Kris Meeke, took to the Plant Oxford forecourt and performed a motorkhana display in his new MINI John Cooper Works WRC. Amateur video footage of that run can be seen below.

It’s all about development for the MINI WRC in 2011 and they will take part in a reduced program competing in just six of the 13 rallies on the WRC calendar. From 2012, though, the MINI WRC Team will be hoping the lessons learnt this year will allow them to challenge the established teams from Ford and Citroën. Meeke will be joined by Spanish rally ace Dani Sordo, so the driving roster should be up to the task at hand.

Rally Jordan takes place this weekend, then in early May, the MINI WRC will debut at Rally d’Italia in Sardinia.

David Richards, Chairman and Chief Executive, Prodrive Group, can’t wait for the team’s first race, “We have been working towards this moment for more than two years and it is truly exciting to be launching the MINI WRC Team and what I believe is the most stunning car in World Rallying, the MINI John Cooper Works WRC. We have an experienced team, a talented driver pairing and, most importantly of all, a strong partnership with MINI. We are now eagerly looking forward to demonstrating the performance of the car on its debut in Sardinia in just a few weeks.”

More detail below from MINI motorsport, including a link to download the team’s full media kit. There’s over 30 pages of info to keep you interested. You can also keep abreast of MINI motorsport activities by checking out their website, which includes links to various social media.

[Thanks to Aaron for the video tip]

Motor Shows Volkswagen

Detroit 2011: Volkswagen Passat (US market)

Volkswagen Passat (US market)

Bigger is better. At least that’s what Volkswagen is telling its North American audience after creating a unique Passat just for them. To clear any confusion the European Passat is our Passat and should be in Australian showrooms sometime after March. Meanwhile, the ‘mericans will have to wait until August to get their hands on their Passat.

The Euro Passat, revealed last September, is too slim for the Yanks. This New Midsize Sedan, then, gets 91mm added to its wheelbase, an extra 13mm to its girth and a whole lot more bland added to its styling. And that’s saying something; the Passat is hardly the most exciting model Volkswagen has ever produced.

If anything their Passat looks like an upsized Jetta. And, let’s face it, if it has been upsized, it must be better. That said, their Passat has also been produced to a price. Starting from US$20,000 their Passat is several thousand bucks cheaper than the old model. Partly helped by the fact their Passat will be made in the US at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant.

Actually, when you consider the current market rates, maybe the joke is on us. We can’t imagine getting our Passat on the roads here for anything less than about AU$45K.

More after the break. Including a really weird video—that fireball is straight from the Jeremy Clarkson school of daft marketing.


Forget the S1, would you believe RS1?

Audi RS1 rumour

The Audi rumour mill has well an truly hit over drive in regards to the hottest version of its A1 platform. First, it was all about the S1. But Audi pulled the pin when they said they couldn’t fit quattro to the little pocket rocket and the car formerly known as the S1 simply became known as the A1 1.4 TFSI. Then, supposedly, Audi said it’s okay everyone, we can fit quattro into the A1, so there will be an S1 after all.

Or so we thought.

Now, the latest word from German rag Autobild says there will be no S1 – the famous Ur Quattro rally-spec name could be protected – instead, there will be an RS1. Only a few weeks ago we had an RS1 rumour pushing a 180kW 1.6 litre turbo theory. Today’s speculation says the RS version will be fitted with the 155kW 2.0 litre from the Golf GTI and, of course, a quattro drivetrain as well.

The RS1 is not due any time before 2012, so it looks like we’re in for at least two more years of will they/won’t they dramaz; probably in line with the RS3 storyline. Oh joy!

[Source: Autobild (translated)]


Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake given green light

Mercedes-Benz Shooting Break Concept

Mercedes has just announced its very cool CLS Shooting Brake concept will become a production reality in 2012. The concept was first shown in April this year in Beijing at the Auto China show.

Now that the four-door coupé is set for production Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars is a bit excited, “In 2004, Mercedes-Benz established a new vehicle segment with the four-door Coupé CLS and created a design icon. 170,000 customers around the globe show how enthusiastic this car has been received by the market. The decision to build the CLS Shooting Brake underscores the leading role of Mercedes-Benz in regards of innovative passenger car concepts and design – and that is exactly what the customers expect from us.”

The Shooting Brake will be built on the same production line as the CLS and the E-Class sedan at Sindelfingen.


New BMW 1 Series (F20) hatch under development

BMW 1 Series (F20) hatch

Development of the next generation (F20) BMW 1 Series hatch is well underway as this video from the Nürburgring shows. There appears to be at least five development cars at the company’s Nürburg facility.

Aside from the evolutionary development of the love it or hate it five door hatch body style there’s not much else to learn from this clip. BimmerFile tells us the F20 1er will be seen in or near production ready form by the end of next year.

Check out the clip after the jump.



Volkswagen confirms Golf VI Cabrio

Golf VI Cabrio rendering

The Motor Report brings word that Volkswagen has confirmed production for a Golf VI-based cabrio. They’ve even come up with this rendering to show how such a car could look. The soft-top Golf will be built in Osnabrück at the former Karmann factory, which Volkswagen picked up after the body specialists filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

Production should commence in 2011 with deliveries for late that year or possibly beginning in 2012. Following a near decade-long hiatus the re-introduction of the Golf Cabrio would likely signal the end of the Eos convertible. Check out the source link below for more.

[Source: The Motor Report]

UPDATE 4 November: A press release from Volkswagen AG has been added below, which confirms a new Golf Cabrio will be built at Osnabrück.

Formula 1 Volkswagen

Volkswagen rejects move into Formula One

Daniel Ricciardo in Volkswagen powered F3 winning car

According to a report in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech has decided against entering VW into Formula One. Such a move was previously intimated by a number of sources, including brand ambassador Hans Stuck.

Volkswagen enjoyed open wheeler success last year by powering young Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo in his Red Bull sponsored Carlin Motorsport machine to the 2009 F3 title. It was understood new engine rules for F1, to be introduced in 2012, would provide an ideal opportunity for VW to move into motorsport’s premier category as an engine supplier. Reportedly there was interest from Red Bull Racing and even McLaren to partner with VW.

However, it now appears the Volkswagen Group may focus its motorsport endeavours on the WRC and Le Mans 24 hour race through its Audi and Porsche brands.