Ferrari 458 Speciale A revealed

Ferrari 458 Speciale A

The Ferrari 458 has always been one of the best examples of car design, where aggression and elegance are given equal footing. And this convertible version of the incredibly capable 458 Speciale helps to further prove that theory.

You can’t really look this 458 Speciale A and say it is a beautiful car in the same way you can with pretty much any Aston Martin built in the last 15 years or so. The 458 just looks angry, fast and screams “don’t mess with me!” It’s not until you take a closer look at the details that the purity and elegance of the 458 begin to shine.

For example, look at this Speciale A in profile view and admire the way the bodywork creases and folds where the door begins to meet the rear wheel arch. Or in front three-quater view, look at the lower corner and the detailing of the aero package. And, of course, on this open air model, those evocative rollover hoops make this one of the few car designs where you’d be happy to take the convertible over the hardtop. The McLaren 12C Spider is another.

So what of this 458 Speciale A, then, and what is that A for? A is for aperta, Italian for open. Based on its tintop sibling the Speciale A carries over the same fearsome 445kW/540Nm normally aspirated V8, which makes this the most powerful spider Ferrari has ever made. The aluminium roof opens in 14 seconds and the overall weight gain has been kept to a respectable 50kg compared with the regular Speciale.

The 458 Speciale A will be limited to 499 models and I dare say neither you nor I will be one of the lucky owners. More’s the pity.


2015 Audi TT Roadster revealed

2015 Audi TT Roadster

Ahead of next week’s Paris Motor Show, Audi has revealed images and details for its new TT and TTS Roadster models. This follows the launch of the third-generation TT at Geneva in March this year.

That means, with the exception of the open air view, we already know what to expect with this latest TT example. So let’s focus on the convertible roof for a moment. Made from magnesium, aluminum, steel and plastic the roof weighs 39kg, which is 3kg less than the previous model.

You need just 10 seconds to open the electronically controlled roof and the same amount to close it. You can do this while the car is motion, too, at speeds up to 50km/h. All you really need to do is decide which colour you’d like your fabric roof to be. You can choose from the obvious black, the less obvious titanium gray and and the positively funky sounding jive.

The TT Roadster goes on sale in Europe later this year and you can expect to see it in Australian showrooms after mid-2015.

There’s more details for you after the break, including images of the TTS Roadster; it’s the yellow one. As you would expect the TTS has a slightly more aggressive body kit to complement its range-topping 228kW/380Nm 2.0 litre TFSI engine.


Audi S3 Cabriolet revealed

Audi S3 Cabriolet

For the first time ever Audi is giving the world an S3 Cabriolet. But do we really want one? Audi seems to think so and good luck to them.

Under the bonnet it’s the same S3 221kW/380Nm engine and quattro drivetrain we’ve seen before, which just leaves the roof, or lack of, as the major point of difference.

The top is an electrically folding fabric arrangement and opens in 18 seconds. It can be opened at speeds up to 50km/h and is available in three colours. Although, Audi neglects to tell us what those three colours are. Our guess will be black, a dark grey and a light grey. If Audi feels a bit flighty a red roof might be an option too.

As you can probably tell, while being fans of the S3 in general, a soft-top version doesn’t really do it for us. How about you?

UPDATE: This just in from Audi Australia, “The S3 Cabriolet is confirmed for Australia and will arrive in the fourth quarter of 2014.”


BMW 4 Series Convertible revealed

BMW 4 Series Convertible

If you insist on your 4 Series Coupé being a convertible, BMW has now answered your prayers. Available at launch in 420d, 428i and 435i (pictured above) designations, the F33 4 Series convertible features a three-piece roof that can be opened in 20 seconds at speeds of up to 18km/h.

Pretty much everything else is the same as the coupé, so knock yourself out below with the pics and press guff BMW has supplied.


BMW 4 Series convertible given unofficial preview

BMW 4 Series convertible

BMW’s F33 4 Series convertible has been given an early viewing thanks to a series of images leaked by a Belgian source. Based on the F32 4 Series coupé there’s no real surprises here and you’ll get your official look at BMW’s latest convertible at the LA Auto Show next month.

Although, don’t be surprised if Munich responds in the next day or two with official images and information.

Like the old 3 Series convertible the 4 Series version sticks with a metal folding roof and Australian buyers should probably look towards the coupé for an idea of the likely engine line up and specs.

[Source: BMW Blog]


Ferrari SA APERTA revealed ahead of Paris


Ferrari has lifted the lid on its latest 599 incarnation, otherwise known as the SA APERTA. The SA badging is a nod to Sergio and Andrea Pininfarina whose company has strong links with Maranello. Further honouring Pininfarina is the fact the SA APERTA will be limited to just 80 examples, acknowledging the 80th anniversary of the Italian styling house.

In basic terms this car is 599 GTOBarchetta” and features a 6.0 litre V12 engine. That engine is good for 670PS (500kW). A soft top cover is available, but it sounds like it will be more use for giggles than serious protection.

We’ll see more of this car at the Paris Motor Show in a week or so. Oh, if you would like to buy one of these stunning SA APERTAs, well, you can’t. They have already sold out.


MINI release details of latest model refresh

MINI Cooper S

MINI have just given their model range a bit of a spruce up. Part mid-cycle model refresh and part counter-attack to the Audi A1 and its ilk, the new MINIs probably don’t look terribly different to most punters. Lucky, then, that MINI gave us some really big pictures of the bits that have changed.

Notably the front and rear bumper assemblies have been tarted up. So too the lighting visuals, with de rigueur LED rear tail lights now available. Those chrome trimmed scoops on the lower front grille actually feed air to the brakes to aid cooling. That’s a nice touch.

For the more frugal minded folk out there in MINI land you’ll be pleased to know there’s some new diesel engines on the way too.

The market launch of the model updates is not scheduled until mid-September so we can deduce that a) this early release of information shows MINI is keen to remind buyers not to forget them while they’re busy checking our Audi, Alfa Romeo and Fiat dealerships and b) that we may not be seeing these changes in Australia until early 2011.

Full details in the form of MINI’s press release can be read after the jump. Also included is a brief video and a Cooper S image gallery.


Night whiter

Volkswagen Eos Night White

Given yesterday’s news of the New Compact Coupe this special edition Eos model announced by Volkswagen Australia, called the White Night, looks like a bit of an afterthought.

Featuring a Candy White body with a Deep Black roof the convertible can be optioned with a 147kW TSI petrol engine ($55,990) or 103kW TDI diesel ($53,990).  Pricing for the White Night special edition is $3,500 more than the corresponding series model.

The White Night is only available with a 6-speed DSG transmission. There’s black leather with light contrast stitching, specially painted 18″ “Budapest” alloys, lowered sports suspension and an extra splash of black paint on the grille and wing mirrors.

Volkswagen call this a limited edition model, but at this stage are unable to put a number to the expected sales run. I dare say, if you want one, you’ll get one. So, you know the drill, head on down to your local dealer and ask a few questions.


BMW Z2 scheduled for 2011?

BMW Z2 - Auto Motor und Sport

German publication Auto Motor und Sport reckons BMW are on track to reveal a baby Z2 roadster by 2011. If this rendering, prepared by Mark Stehrenberger, is anything to go by it will be as stunning to look at as it will be to drive, no doubt.

Best guesses would indicate a mostly four cylinder engine line up, with the possibility of some type of hybrid engine in the range, as well. Although, if you’re anything like me, you’re already thinking how good it would be to have the 225kW twin turbo inline six cylinder from the 135i wrapped inside this gorgeous shell.

Here’s hoping this rumour grows in momentum and we see something concrete on the Z2 in 2010.

Source: Auto Motor und Sport via autoblog


More convertible tom-foolery

Following the earlier story about the European launch of the MINI Convertible comes this viral video of the roofless MINI being taken through a car wash. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to do this. I need wonder no more.

More on this can be seen at the MINI United website.

Source: MotoringFile


MINI keeps motoring journalists in the cold

MINI r57 Convertible launched in snowy conditions

In true MINI fashion, the European media launch of their new convertible recently took place in the Austrian alps. Of course! After all, it is a perfect location for a roof down soirée! I admit -6°C temperatures would present a challenge to MINI’s “Always open” idiom, but I’d like to think I’d give it a go.

Newly launched website did just that, and was there to file a report. Of particular interest is how the new generation compared to the previous MINI convertible…

“Having previously driven, reviewed, and even lived with both the second generation MINI Cooper S and the previous generation of MINI Convertible, the questions we really wanted answered were how well had MINI spliced these two cars together to produce a better, more complete MINI Convertible. How was the handling? How much did the new pop-up rear roll-over bar improve visibility? How much improved was the new hood? And for how long could we keep the roof down in the challenging, chilly environment.

On just about every account, the MINI acquitted itself admirably. The only yardstick of any true value had to be the first generation MINI Convertible, which although a real pleasure to drive, did have several shortcomings that were all too obvious for owners, as well as casual observers and reviewers, if entirely forgivable for any fan.”

Follow the link below for the full story.

Source: theSwitchback


Volkswagen Concept BlueSport picture gallery

Volkswagen Concept BlueSport

The Volkswagen Concept BlueSport made its world debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last night. It’s a stunning looking car, but perhaps the most notable feature for a car in this segment is it’s mid-mounted efficient diesel engine.

The BlueSport roadster, fitted with six-speed DSG transmission, has a 2.0 TDI with 132kW powering the rear wheels. Being a turbo diesel, there is plenty of torque, too, all 350Nm of it. The BlueSport weighs a relatively light 1200kg and is capable reaching 100km/h in a GTI-beating 6.6 seconds, along to a top speed of 226km/h. When driven more sedately Volkswagen claims fuel consumption as low as 4.3l/100km. Its CO2 emissions are 113g/km.

“The BlueSport proves to be a compact and passionate car with a clear Volkswagen signature. The car offers pure dynamics with a powerful 180 PS Clean Diesel engine that is combined with the characteristic Volkswagen philosophy of efficiency,” confirmed Volkswagen’s Chairman of the Board, Prof. Martin Winterkorn in Detroit.

The BlueSport features an Eco mode which uses stop-start technology and an energy regeneration mode to help lower fuel consumption. Although, Volkswagen are claiming a relatively small benefit of just 0.2l/100km in normal city driving.

Some of the technology in this car may new for Volkswagen, but there doesn’t appear to be anything earth shattering under the roadster’s gorgeous metalwork. Although, a mid-engined diesel sports car is kind of cool and very now.

Update: Wallpaper sized images of the Volkswagen Concept BlueSport (click an image to load 2000px super image), along with video footage and the official press release are now available below.

Update 15 January: German Car Blog suggests the BlueSport won’t hit the roads until 2012 (that’s if it goes into production). I’ve also added a small clip below from Car and Driver’s YouTube channel.