Alfa Junior to take first steps

Posted in Alfa Romeo

The wait is nearly over! Alfa Romeo will unveil its eagerly anticipated Junior at the Geneva Motor Show in March, and it’s set to arrive in dealers before the end of next year.

It will share underpinnings with the Fiat Grande Punto, but gets stunning bodywork inspired by Alfa’s 8C supercar, as confirmed by sketches we revealed earlier this year.

The traditional shield-shape grille will dominate the nose, flanked by sleek, projector-style lights. Flagship models get a panoramic glass roof, while performance versions feature a sporty air scoop on the bonnet.

Engine options will include a 1.4-litre petrol turbo and a frugal 1.6-litre Multijet diesel, while there will also be a hot GTA model. The latter will target the Audi S3, with power from a 230bhp unit. It could even benefit from the Q4 all-wheel-drive set-up, with lesser models getting the Q2 limited slip differential to improve traction. The Junior will herald a flurry of fresh Alfas, with replacements for the 147 and 166, plus a new crossover, arriving by 2010. Prices for the Junior have yet to be confirmed, but are set to start at around £13,000.

Two new Fiat models

Posted in Fiat

Is there no stopping Fiat? The once-troubled Italian car maker has let slip that it has two more models winging their way to production – and both have the potential to create a real stir.

Details of the newcomers – dubbed B-Compact and C X-Over – were flashed up on screen for a fraction of a second during a presentation at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Scheduled for a 2009 launch, the B-Compact will sit between the Panda and Grande Punto. Described by Fiat as a ‘modern family car with affordable Italian style’, it comes with three and five-door options and will be a cheaper alternative to the Grande Punto. It will be based on a cut-down version of that car’s platform, and bosses are considering resurrecting the Uno name for the model when it arrives in 2009.

Also heading for European showrooms is the larger C X-Over, a five-door crossover car with two or four-wheel-drive options. The newcomer uses the same platform as the latest Bravo, will slot into the range above the Sedici and go head-to-head with the likes of the Nissan Qashqai and Ford’s new Kuga. Fiat also reveals that the model will be 4.5 metres long and cost £14,000-£18,000 when it arrives in 2010.

Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione – First Drive

Posted in Alfa Romeo

After the latest story about new Alfa Romeo 8C here is one quite comprehensive review of this beauty.
Less than a year out from its return to the U.S., Alfa Romeo has developed a new flagship whose launch will coincide with the revival of the Biscione shield in the world’s largest car market. Development of a high-end niche model like the new 8C Competizione is a risky move for any carmaker, let alone a rejuvenated brand like Alfa Romeo, but with order books filled up and a general consensus that the new 8C is one of the most stunning vehicles in production, it appears Alfa’s gamble has paid off.

Despite being called the ‘Competizione,’ the new Alfa Romeo coupe is more of a grand tourer than an extreme sports car capable of keeping up with the likes of Ferrari and Porsche around a track. Beneath its beautiful carbon-fiber body – its lines evoking memories of Alfa’s glorious race cars of the past – lies a mechanical package borrowed from Maserati’s own GranTurismo coupe. This means there’s a front-mounted V8 engine sending drive to the rear wheels via a two-piece driveshaft and a self-locking rear differential, a set-up that’s sure to satisfy those who love an engaging drive but will undeniably give up some comfort when driving around town.

Interior and Styling
As exciting as the car is to drive, the 8C Competition provokes just as many emotions when standing still. Its gorgeous body, penned by designers at the Alfa Romeo Style Centre, gives the new coupe an instant classic feel and ensures it will remain one of the most beautiful cars on the planet for some time to come. Like the exterior, the cabin is the epitome of refinement and style. Premium materials like leather, aluminum and carbon-fiber are scattered throughout the cabin and constitute a good mix between elegance and athleticism.

Two carbon-fiber buckets covered in sumptuous red leather provide plenty of support but are adjustable only with manual controls. Mounted to the steering column are two sizeable aluminum paddles used for shifting gears, while on the center dash lies buttons for reverse, auto and sport modes.

Despite its performance car credentials, the 8C always remains very practical. The only limit to its usability is the less than average visibility, both up front and in the rear. The car’s low seating position and long hood makes it difficult to know where exactly its snout ends, while the slanted rear window severely limits the visibility out back.

Technical
Under the carbon-fiber front hood lays an aluminum V8 engine sourced from Maserati, a similar unit to the one found in the GranTurismo. Like the Maserati bent-eight, the new engine is also based on an original Ferrari design, but its displacement is bumped up from 4.2L to 4.7L. Output rises from 400hp to 450hp at 7,000rpm and peak torque rises from 460Nm at 4,250rpm in the Maser to 470Nm in the new Alfa supercar. Continuous variable valve timing on the intake camshafts and optimization of the combustion chamber and engine calibration means that 80% of this torque is available from as low as 2000rpm. The engine’s distinct sound, meanwhile, is courtesy of the electronically controlled exhaust system, which features small valves that modify the flow of gases.

Alfa engineers have stuck with the familiar transaxle mounted gearbox, giving the car a well-balanced feel. By installing the gearbox up back, the engine could be mounted closer to the firewall and in turn improves weight distribution. Shift times for the six-speed semi-automatic gearbox can be customized using a pair of levers mounted behind the steering wheel.
For the suspension, designers went with a double wishbone layout with forged aluminum components. The lightweight metal is also used for the brake calipers and 20in alloy wheels, with chunky perforated and ventilated discs used to bring the coupe to a stop.

On the track
The sound of the engine is very determined and involving, and after pressing the ‘Sport’ button, it evokes a rumble that can rival even the noblest V8s from Maranello. Power delivery is very progressive, with prompt throttle response offered from the get-go. Shift up a gear and the engine lets off a bark before the motor engages and you’re shoved back into the soft leather, the low-end torque doing its job superbly.
The engine’s flexibility allows us to concentrate more on the handling of the car, which benefits from the fast response of our steering inputs. Our only gripe is the light feel of the steering, once again adding to the sense that this is more of a comfortable GT rather than a hardcore track special. The chassis’ superb balance keeps the car in line around curves but ease of the throttle too much and the coupe will begin to understeer. Alfa Romeo’s VDC stability control will cut in when things get too rough but we were surprised at just how hard we could push it before the nanny system steps in.

Firm suspension ensures minimal pitch and roll around corners and, despite this, ride comfort was pleasant although we were only able to test it over the test circuit’s smooth tarmac and not the pockmarked surfaces of the surrounding roads. There’s plenty of grip from the 285mm tires but getting them to slide, even with traction control turned on, doesn’t take much effort.

First impressions
To express a definitive judgment on the new Alfa super-coupe after just an initial drive on Fiat’s test track would be unjust but our initial feeling is that it’s not too dissimilar to the sporting GTs from Maserati. The car is still blisteringly quick, no doubt quicker than any Alfa model in recent history, but it’s more attuned to easy driving than being a race winner.
Only 500 coupes are scheduled to enter production and already there are more than 1,200 orders in Alfa’s books, so, unless you’ve already got a deposit down, your chances of getting one into your garage are next to nil.

Fiat Grand Punto Abarth in action!!!

Posted in Abarth, Fiat

Abarth is now back with a new range of cars for sports car enthusiasts. First car on the list? The Grand Punto Abarth which the company released official images of last week. Today we bring you the video of the Fiat Grand Punto Abarth in action

The Grand Punto Abarth is powered 1.4 Turbo petrol engine that produces 150 horsepower. Abarth also unveiled the new Grand Punto Abarth “essesse” at the Frankfurt Motor Show last week. The “essesse” variant produces a total output of 180 horsepower.

New Maserati GranTurismo Video

Posted in Maserati

We’ve already shown you lots of pictures of Maserati’s new coupe, but this video highlights the beauty of the car while in motion. Designed by Pininfarina, the GranTurismo borrows from historic Maseratis – especially in the concave front grille slats which are reminiscent of 1940s and 1950s-style race cars, and tri-vents on the front guards. Its 4.2-litre V8 engine produces 405bhp (around 302kW) at 7100rpm, and a maximum torque of 460Nm at 4750rpm, of which 75 per cent is already achievable at 2500rpm. Check out the video after the jump.

Alfa Romeo 8C Spider confirmed for 2009 launch

Posted in Alfa Romeo

After a concept version of a convertible 8C Competizione was presented by Alfa Romeo at the 2005 Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance in Monterey, many suspected that one day the car would enter production alongside its coupe sibling. However, until now there’s been no official word of the car being given the green light. Speaking at a presentation to financial investors in New York today, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne finally revealed that the 8C Spider will go on sale in 2009.

Sales of the coupe version kicked off in Europe just this month and should be arriving in U.S. showrooms along with the return of the Alfa Romeo brand in the States by mid next year. The coupe is priced at €165,000 and the convertible is expected to cost around €20,000 more than the coupe, reports Automotive News.

Production numbers for the coupe are confirmed at 500 units and a similar volume is expected for the 8C Spider convertible.

HAMANN Lamborghini Gallardo Victory with 520hp

Posted in BMW, Lamborghini

HAMANN unveiled their Lamborghini Gallardo Victory last week at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Making the already beastly car more aggressive, HAMANN added their Victory wide-body kit along with a few performance upgrades.

HAMANN’s Victory wide-body kit consists of a new front apron, front spoiler, an adjustable Cup racing-spoiler lip, fender extensions, wide body-side sills, a new rear apron, a four part rear wing, a rear diffuser and an air scoop on the roof.

The HAMANN engineers reprogrammed the ECU and added a new exhaust system extracting an additional 20 horsepower from the Lamborghini Gallardo for a total of 520.

The HAMANN Lamborghini Gallardo “Victory“

* spectacular wide body-version “Victory” / Wing doors
* power upgrade through reprogramming of the ECU and/ornew exhaust system
* alloy wheel program with highlight „Edition Race“ in 20” and Hankook tyres
* sports brake system

Lamborghini – the brand is synonymous with sporty automobile pleasure for the street. And when you see the Gallardo, you also know why. 520 hp is at work inside this attractive and, most importantly, airflow-optimized body. For owners, who think it leaves not enough impression on its beholders, can order the brandnew wide HAMANN body-kit “Victory”, making the Gallardo the ultimate head turner. Various HAMANN power upgrades promise better perfomance.

Officially Official: Fiat Grande Punto Abarth

Posted in Abarth, Fiat

A glorious past becomes the present, an all-conquering passion that is as strong today as it ever was: this is the inspiration behind Fiat Group Automobiles’ plan to re-launch the Abarth name. Always synonymous with tough, spirited cars, challenges, passion and thrills, Abarth is back with a new range to whet the appetites of all sports car enthusiasts.

The novelty lies in the modern-day interpretation of everything that Abarth used to do in the past – starting with motor-racing, followed by prototypes and vehicle conversion kits, and even fashion accessories representing the Abarth style. An expression of the ultimate racing lifestyle, the new company will be active on several fronts: firstly, in the world of motorsport, an environment strictly related to competition, one-make trophies and cars prepared for private customers. Second, the commercial environment, including tuning – hence the production of conversion kits – not forgetting the extensive licensing and merchandising operations.

In short, Abarth is creating a world all of its own, a world that revolves around the core values that led to its great success in decades gone by: innovative design, state-of-the-art materials, and love for detail. Behind it all is an absolutely genuine passion for motoring, not to mention the company’s human and technological assets, and the professional pride of the thousands of people – technicians, workers and executives – who have come and gone from the factories, offices and race tracks.

The target of Abarth’s first project, later to be extended to other models, was the Grande Punto – on sale in Italy from September. It will be on the market in Switzerland by the end of the year, and will also be available in other countries during the course of 2008. There will hardly be time to draw breath between each launch: between now and the end of 2008, no less than four new product launches have been planned. The brand’s development plans will force it to expand its production capability in the short term, and within a few months, Abarth’s new home will have been completed at the Mirafiori plant. The new premises will group together the company’s manufacturing, design and management divisions.

This fast pace explains the decision to give Abarth its own brand, managed by an independent company (Abarth & C. S.p.A., 100%-owned by Fiat Group Automobiles) whose distribution is entrusted to an exclusive commercial organisation covering four levels: flagship service centres, dealers, specialised tuners and workshops.

Agile and quick off the mark (in the best Abarth tradition), Abarth & C. S.p.A is in the hands of Chief Executive Officer Luca De Meo, and covers three areas of activity: Business Operations, Engineering & Manufacturing Operations and Racing Operations. The first division, led by Antonino Labate, has the task of designing the products and services for the customisation and tuning of standard sports cars, organising the sales and service network, and managing Abarth’s merchandising and licensing operations.

The second area, Engineering & Manufacturing Operations, is headed by Paolo Ollino. He is responsible for technical development and production, together with the tuning and servicing of competition cars, and developing the car customisation and tuning products. The division works in partnership with the Engineering & Design division of Fiat Group Automobiles (led by Harald Wester).

Finally, the Racing Operations division, led by Claudio Berro, has the task of coordinating Abarth vehicles’ entries in national and international motorsport competitions, organising the championships reserved for private customers, and managing relations with racing and rallying clients and sponsors.

Last but not least, Abarth can rely on the assistance of Paolo Martinelli, director of the Engine Division (Racing Operations) at Ferrari until October 2006, and currently head of the Petrol Engine Development Division at Fiat Powertrain Technologies.

Source: Fiat