Sunday, April 29, 2007

Biodiesel supercar is Brit first

British firm Trident has broken the supercar mould with its new Iceni, by marrying stunning performance with economy and eco-friendliness.

The key to this triple achievement is the V8 diesel engine that Trident has sourced from GM to power the car, coupled to some clever gearbox engineering to make best use of the engine's monster torque.

The result is that, once installed in a lightweight sportscar as opposed to the Isuzu pick-ups in which the unit is usually found, the 6.6-litre 375bhp V8 can propel the Iceni from 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds, and on to 170mph.

So far, so supercar.

What's different is that this can be achieved while running the car on biodiesel, making the car capable of a planet and wallet-friendly 60mpg.

To prove their point, this month Trident is sending a car from the firm's Norfolk base to Monaco - on one tank of fuel.

Together with required engine service intervals at only every 100,000 miles, a three-year powertrain warranty and bodywork guaranteed against corrosion for life, the Iceni is set to be by far the cheapest supercar to run.

Trident also hold out the prospect of an 'R' model, developing the engine further to achieve a Ferrari-beating 550bhp and top speed of 230mph, cutting the car's 0-60 time to around 3 seconds.

So how much for a stunning 170mph supercar that does over 60mpg? The Iceni's a snip at £60,000 (or £75,000 for the Iceni R). That's the same price as a basic Porsche 911 or half a Ferrari F430.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Global warming?

Interesting story over on the EUReferendum blog today, contrasting the dire predictions from the "global warming scare industry" with problems being caused by unusually thick pack ice off Newfoundland's northeast coast.

While politicians would like to use the outpourings of the likes of Al Gore to justify hitting car users with extreme tax rises and putting unreasonable demands on the car industry, contradictory evidence such as this is seriously undermining their case.

Read more here.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Size no obstacle to safety

The latest version of Land Rover's smallest 4x4 model, the Freelander 2, has been awarded the maximum five stars for adult passenger safety by independent car safety experts Euro NCAP.

It also achieved an impressive four marks for child protection.

Land Rover claims the recently-launched Freelander 2's success is down to its special inner 'safety cell', which is protected by crumple zones front and rear and ultra high-strength door beams.

Occupants also benefit from seatbelt pre-tensioners and seven airbags.

The Suzuki Grand Vitara, also recently tested by NCAP, fared similarly well. Suzuki's compact 4x4 achieved a four star score for adult safety.

The Vitara also performed exceptionally well at pedestrian protection. Its three star score means it leads even many superminis in the pedestrian safety it provides in the event of a collision.

The results are a major set-back for the claims of anti-4x4 campaigners that cars like the Freelander and Vitara are unsafe simply because of their bulky styling or, even more irrationally, because they are driven through four wheels rather than two.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Brit-built Astras to stay

General Motors has confirmed that the next-generation Vauxhall/Opel Astra will be built in the UK.

GM's new 'family' of compact cars - to include the Astra, upcoming Saab 9-2 and a Saturn-badged model to go to North America - is scheduled for 2010, and will be made by Vauxhall's 2,200 employees at their Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire, as well as at plants in Germany, Poland and Sweden.

However, production at GM's plant in Antwerp, which currently makes Astra variants including the estate and coupe-convertible, will be discontinued. Around 1,400 people will lose their jobs in Antwerp this year as Astra production is wound down.

Cowley builds millionth Mini

This month, the millionth 'new' Mini has been built at the brand's plant in Cowley, near Oxford.

The car in question was a Cooper S model in Pepper White, with a unique Almond Green roof and matching leather upholstery (pictured). It will be sent to Mini owner BMW's Mobile Tradition heritage division for use in promotional activities.

BMW currently employs over 4,700 people at the Mini factory in Cowley, where it has the capacity to build 200,000 cars a year. Production is set to increase to 240,000 when the new Clubman estate goes into production later this year.

Nearly 80% of Minis are exported. Mini sales continue to rise since the launch of the Mk2 version last November; 7,854 were sold last month, an all-time record.