Friday 31 January 2014

The TVR Tuscan Speed Six Holiday Paradise !!

The TVR Tuscan Speed Six went into production early in 2000 and since then TVR have been making inroads into the initial order bank of 1600 deposits in order to bring the waiting list down to manageable proportions. While many of those orders were from TVR's existing customers, a far larger proportion than ever before were from people who decided to transfer their allegiance away from mass manufacturers. Recently TVR have updated the range with two versions - a 3.6 litre car with the engine that is also used in the Tamora and a 390 bhp 4.0 litre car which is designated Tuscan S.

The TVR Tuscan Speed Six is in essence a convertible in which two people and their luggage could go on holiday for a month with creature comforts like air conditioning and power steering but without the car weighing much more than 1000kg. It has TVR's own straight six engine and has a novel roof design whereby, despite looking like a fixed head coupe, it is able to stow its roof and rear window in the boot, while still leaving room for luggage. No computers have been used in the styling of the car and TVR's team of stylists, led by Damien McTaggert but with the close involvement of Chairman Peter Wheeler, took two years sculpting the shape of this future classic.
There are a number of advantages in designing a car in the manner that TVR does. Sculpting and developing the shape solely by hand is an inordinately time-consuming business. Just as one only truly appreciates the lines of a car when one washes it, so it is TVR's belief that one can only really get to grips with the design of a car over a long period of time. Furthermore, it is impossible to control a surface as subtly on a computer screen as when sculpting the car by hand. It is with this in mind that one should view the new Tuscan. When a vehicle is mass-produced the tooling takes longer to develop than the styling but that is categorically not the case here. The whole philosophy at TVR is that the shape of the car comes first so the constraints of conventional industry thinking have not been an issue.
As such, the philosophy behind the styling of the car has been that function and form have been combined and the result has been left on show. Many of the features that make this car extraordinary are there for sound engineering reasons but the simplicity and elegance of their form enhances the overall look of the car. For instance, the unusual bonnet arrangement, whereby the main piece of the bonnet is bolted into the car, is there for the reasons that it is in most racing cars. It is actually lightly stressed and means that one is able to duct the airflow very precisely. Furthermore, it is bolted into place and therefore can be manufactured lighter. One of the notable features of the car is the way that the shutlines run along the top of the car so that if you draw them, you draw the shape of the car. This shows its lines off to the best advantage but also gives a far bigger boot opening to make the roof much easier to stow in the boot.
While it might be possible to say that the exterior design of the car is relatively extravagant in concept, TVR has taken a minimalist approach to the interior. The very highest quality components have been used and once again, function has determined form. The curved aluminium top to the dash, for example, actually acts as one of the transverse strengthening beams for the car. The pedal box, again hand made from extremely high quality components, is left on show as it would be a shame to hide craftsmanship like it and it also serves to make individual fittings for customers that much easier.
The original thinking of TVR's team of engineers and designers has also manifested itself in the instrument binnacle, again manufactured in house by TVR. The advantage of this is that it enables one to link it to the engine management system which, combined with a number of other sensors, results in an extremely comprehensive range of instrumentation being available. Most immediately noticeable is the use of aluminium and brass which is a combination not seen in a car for many decades and which gives a sensation of warmth in the car without using walnut. It is also notable that a revcounter is not among the analogue gauges. This goes against the long-standing trend that in sports cars the revcounter should be to the forefront. However, with today's engine management systems and the far wider rev ranges of modern powerplants, it is no longer necessary to monitor the engine speed all the time. Indeed, nowadays, even in racing applications, road speed is far more important. Yet for those who wish it, the graphical LCD display in the middle of the binnacle displays engine speed with just the two salient digits clearly visible, Formula One style.
Alternatively, a myriad of further readouts is easily selectable via a rotary knob and so, while the binnacle is extremely sophisticated, its appearance and operation is simplicity itself. These readouts include road speed, engine speed, fuel level, oil level, water temperature, oil temperature, ambient air temperature, oil pressure, fuel pressure and battery voltage. Minimum and maximum readings are recorded. Furthermore, on the top of the instrument binnacle is a graduated shift light which again takes its inspiration from Formula One racing cars. This whole binnacle adjusts up and down with the steering wheel so all the gauges are always visible. The jewellers' quality of the exterior is matched by an extremely high tech interior with mapped stepper motors operating the water temperature and fuel gauges which learn as they go along and an aircraft grade stepper motor controlling the speedometer so that the instrument can keep up with the performance of the car.
All the rest of the switchgear is in the driver's line of sight and once again is simple and elegant. With the exception of the heater and window controls, all these extremely expensive switches, as well as the radio, are mounted high up on the dashboard. A lot of thinking has also gone into the design of the seats which have the seatbelts built into the backrest so that the buckle always falls easily to hand. Furthermore, it is impossible to build a seat height adjuster into such a low car so the squab is removable. This is primarily so that the many TVR owners who take their cars on track days can more easily get into the car with a crash helmet on while benefiting from increased lateral support.

The styling of the car has been very much influenced by the fact that it has a straight six mounted between the front wheels and it is this engine which is the heart of the car. Straight sixes have somewhat gone out of fashion because they cannot be mounted transversely, be it in the front, middle or back of the car. However, TVR's adherence to the true course of sportscar manufacture, i.e. mounting the engines in the front to drive the rear wheels, makes it possible to use this most classic of sportscar engines. However, while one eye has been on the past in terms of the tradition of the layout, the other has been resolutely forward as the engine is very much up to date. Gruelling tests over the last three and a half years have shown its performance and reliability in Tuscan prototypes as well as the Cerbera Speed Six. Furthermore, in its doubled up, twelve cylinder form, the engine has seen competition in the mighty Speed Twelve.


Thursday 30 January 2014

Chevrolet Corvette Seventh Generation

Last year's lead-up to the unveiling of the seventh-generation Chevrolet Corvette, all new for the 2014 model year, has been filled with equal measures of hype and hope: can the new Corvette live up to its legend?

The wait, at least, is now over. With an edgy new design that's still instantly recognizable as a Corvette, a new engine line, and the promise of even better handling and performance thanks to weight reduction, improvements to the chassis, and more, the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe and Convertible have the right stuff for sports car fans all around the world.

At the heart of the 2014 Corvette Stingray is a new LT1 V-8 engine. While it displaces the same 6.2 liters as the previous base Corvette’s LS3, the LT1 is lighter, more powerful, and more fuel efficient. Rated at 455 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, the 2014 Corvette Stingray is about 5 percent more potent than the last car--but it's lighter, too.

In fact, when fitted with an available Z51 Performance Package, which adds a host of upgrades, Chevy boasts its latest 'Vette can accelerate from 0-60 in just 3.8 seconds and achieve more than 1 g in cornering grip. For comparison, that’s almost quick as the previous C6’s Z06 trim.

The Z51 Performance Package is designed for track enthusiasts and includes an electronic limited-slip differential, dry-sump oiling system, plus integral brake, differential and transmission cooling, as well as a unique aero package that’s said to further improve high-speed stability.
In practice, the Z51 package seriously sharpens the Stingrays already nimble reflexes, as well as giving it the cooling capacity to handle hard use on a hot summer day at the track. Adding the optional magneto-rheological (MR) dampers gives the Stingray a more mellow street ride while preserving the flat, firm handling you want when driving hard.

Balanced and easy to control even near the limit even with the Performance Traction Management system engaged in Track mode (and Race sub-mode), the Stingray can be a bit harder to control with all of the aids off, though it still exhibits remarkable traction and balance. In fact, the Corvette Stingray can realistically run with sports cars costing twice its price.

The interior of the 2014 Corvette Stingray has also been substantially upgraded from the C6. Improved materials, more modern design, and significant upgrades to technology such as the Drive Mode Selector and latest-generation Chevy MyLink infotainment help bring the Corvette on par with European and Japanese offerings in the highly competitive, but relatively low-volume super sports car segment.

Source :


Wednesday 22 January 2014

TVR Griffith the British Sport car !!

The TVR Griffith is possibly the most important British sports car since the Jaguar E-Type. If it had failed the future of TVR would have been uncertain. But it didn’t and TVR have gone on to build some of the fastest and most uncompromising sports cars in the world.

Powered by a high performance Rover V8 the early 4.0 litre cars produced 240bhp, respectable in a car weighing just 1060Kg. But that was only the start, soon the engine grew to 4.3 litres and power leapt to 280bhp. Aware that owners still craved more power TVR offered a BV (big valve) version, squeezing 300bhp from the 4.3 litre. With small numbers of the BV version produced they have become very sought after and represent a virtually depreciation proof investment.

With the Griffith a success and sales of over 700 cars in just 2 years TVR now had the resources to deliver the ultimate Griffith, the 500. Powered by a 5 litre V8 and developing a lusty 340bhp these cars were capable of reaching 100mph in less time than most cars take to hit 60mph.

Despite changes to the Griffith engine, cosmetically the cars styling has remained almost unchanged and with early cars available for as little as £12,000 they look both good value and fresh faced. But spending a couple of grand more will get you into a post 1994 Griffith 500 so it’s probably money well spent.

TVR technology is more akin to track cars than road cars so weight is reduced through the use of composite bodies and tubular steel chassis’s. With this in mind power steering was deemed a luxury and was not even an option until 1994; even then many owners prefer the feed back afforded by the non assisted system. Air condition too was considered a little ‘girly’ by the boys at the factory and with customers having to pay extra large numbers of cars left the factory without it.

But the Griffith 500 is not about luxury it’s about power, it’s organic and aural. The burble and pop from the engine as you change down through the gears on over run will have you grinning from ear to ear. Accelerate hard in second gear and you will laugh like a banshee. Short of riding a racehorse blind folded through a forest there are few experiences that can both delight and terrify as much.

But don’t imagine that the Griffith wants to hurt you; it’s just that it exists in a world where levels of grip and performance exceed the comprehension of most mortals. And like all forces of nature they have there faults, Griffith owners will describe their cars as a hobby not a daily means of transport.

When you’re buying a used TVR Griffith the list of items to check runs to several pages so unless you’re a previous TVR owner my advice is to buy from a TVR dealer. They will check the car over thoroughly and provide a comprehensive warranty.

Most commonly faults are with the electrics so check windows, mirrors, alarms and gauges all are prone to failure or intermittent problems. The hoods are also susceptible to water leaks although it can be difficult to spot as most cars are garaged. Engines and gearboxes are strong but check oil pressure which should sit between 25lbs and 30lbs when the engine is warm. Any smoking from the exhaust is a bad sign as is a lumpy idle. With big disc brakes all round and only 1060Kg to halt brake wear is not particularly high.

TVR customers  were able to specify any colour they wanted for there new car and many went wild so watch out for loud body and trim combinations and don’t buy anything hoping that the colour will grow on you, it won’t.



Thursday 9 January 2014

Mazda Cx-5 Class Car by Mazda on 2013 !!

One of the major points of newness to the CX-5 is its styling. It's the first Mazda vehicle to bring the company's new Kodo design language to production, and you'll want to get used to this new corporate face – it'll quickly spread throughout the entire lineup. The swoopy-smiley Nagare design has been ditched in favor of "Soul in Motion" styling that incorporates a more aggressive trapezoidal black grille with subtle wings that extend into the wraparound headlamp clusters. From the side, the CX-5's Kodo styling features a prominent shoulder line that rises up towards the hind quarters, complemented by an accent line above the rocker panel to further draw your eyes upward as they move along the rear doors. Combined with relatively short front and rear overhangs, Mazda says this makes the CX-5 look like an animal up on its haunches, ready to pounce.

Hyperbole aside, at 178.7 inches long, 65.7 inches tall and 72.4 inches wide, the CX-5 is nearly identical in size to the redesigned 2012 Honda CR-V, but because of its more aggressive design, the Mazda looks decidedly more compact. To further that point, know that the CX-5 rides on a wheelbase that is a full three inches longer than the CR-V. Just by looking at the two CUVs, it's not immediately noticeable. Sport (read: Base) and Touring models come standard with 17-inch wheels, while Grand Touring models (what you see in the pics) ride on handsome 19-inch alloys that fill out the large wheel wells nicely

The bold and interesting part of a fairly industry-standard plan is that, to begin with, the firm has opted not to leap on the expensive and complicated hybrid bandwagon, but instead refine and gently rethink the conventional internal combustion blueprint.
That might raise eyebrows among other Japanese car makers who have nailed their colours firmly to the hybrid mast. But on the surface it appearsMazda could be on to something: official figures as low as 119g/km and 61.4mpg on the combined cycle are impressive for anything, never mind a high-riding SUV.
Those figures are derived from the CX-5’s low-power diesel engine driving the front wheels through a manual gearbox. Compared to that, the rest of the range seems costly to run, although next to its rivals it remains pretty parsimonious.
At the heart of the CX-5 range sits an advanced 2.2-litre diesel engine, which has an exceptionally high compression ratio resulting in improved fuel efficiency and torque. A similarly advanced petrol engine is also offered, but is destined for niche appeal on these shores.
Both engines are mated to either a compact and lightweight six-speed manual gearbox or an efficient auto. Power is transferred to the front or all four wheels, depending on specification.
No preview of coming attractions would be complete without a few gripes. We noticed ample wind noise in these early prototypes in addition to the aforementioned boomy engine. (In contrast, the diesel demonstrated model behavior except for some idle rattle.) The front headrests are mounted in annoyingly close proximity to your head to ensure that they protect against whiplash in a severe rear collision. And although we were impressed by the tenacious grip of the V-rated 19-inch summer tires fitted to the all-wheel-drive CX-5 prototypes, a slight downgrade to four-season rubber will be inflicted on U.S.-market models. (The base front-drive version rolls on 17-inch wheels and tires.)
So the CX-5 is not only a major stride forward for Mazda but also a compelling reason for die-hard SUV haters to reconsider whether fun and function can co-exist in one vehicle.



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Friday 3 January 2014

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Worthful Cars of 2013 : Ram 1500

For several years, it seemed all we ever talked about with trucks was torque and tow ratings. Things have changed, with truck buyers' expectations reaching a long way off the farm or job site. There's no single magic bullet that will meet every truck owner's needs, so even an entry payload model range like the Ram 1500 has to have far more breadth and depth than its forebears of a decade ago did. To demonstrate its half-ton's ability to cover the entire market, Ram delivered a V-6-powered SLT on the efficient and luxurious side and a V-8 powered Sport leaning toward power and performance. 

While Ford may be using smaller forced-induction engines for the sake of efficiency, Ram is refining its powertrain options by offering more efficient engines bolted to a new, optional eight-speed transmission. Replacing the old 3.7-liter V-6 is the much-celebrated Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6, which offers 42 percent more horsepower and 13 percent more torque. A new eight-speed transmission is standard on V-6 models and will be optional on the V-8. At launch, V-8s will be available only with the current six-speed automatic, with the new transmission coming at a later date. 

 While the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 isn't all-new, it is updated with variable valve timing. It is bolstered by more efficient systems within the truck including a revised cooling system, electric power steering, and an electrical system with pulse width modulation that more efficiently uses power to lessen load on the alternator. These technologies combine to allow Ram to claim best-in-class fuel efficiency in the V-6 and V-8 segments. It should be noted that, since the Ford EcoBoost is considered a V-8 alternative, it's lumped into the V-8 segment. While many people focus on a truck's powertrain, that may be the least significant improvement in the 1500.

The addition of air suspension is a giant leap for half-ton trucks. While coil springs are a big advancement over leaf springs, trucks have to be able to carry such a range of weight loads, from a single person to five passengers and a bed full of cargo, that a single spring rate just doesn't seem adequate. Although the Ram's air suspension may cause as much concern as Ford's turbos on the reliability front, we can tell you these modern air springs use materials that are more resistant to tearing and puncture, and they resemble those used on modern luxury cars that can easily weigh as much as smaller trucks

As well as compensating for varying loads an air suspension can provide adjustable ride height. Two off-road modes will lift the truck 1.2 inches and 2.0 inches, respectively, while an aero-mode lowers the vehicle 0.6 inch. Lowering the vehicle at highway speeds improves aerodynamics, which improves efficiency. Besides the ride height, optional active shutters in the grille can close at highway speeds helps move air around the truck instead of under it. This combines with the redesigned body to lower the 1500's coeffecient of drag from 0.39 to 0.36, to net a 6 percent increase in aerodynamic efficiency.

The interior has received as much attention as the outside. While the styling will be familiar to those who have driven previous-generation trucks, the technology inside is new. Chrysler's Uconnect is brighter and shinier than ever. The main infotainment screen now measures 8.4 inches, the system is upgradable with apps, and it can provide an in-vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot. While we like its new look, we had some of the same problems we've had with the system in the past. It was at times slow to respond, and the navigation system occasionally seemed to lose the truck while in motion, believing we were bounding along a few hundred yards off the highway we were traveling. That's not a huge problem when it thinks you're barreling along through dirt, but it's not good when the system thinks you're on side roads and is giving directions based on those turns.



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