Launch Edition launched at NYAS

Alfa Romeo debuts with Launch Edition in two colors - Alfa Red and White

Italian marque Alfa Romeo is finally selling cars on US shores again, though it will be a limited number of a rather expensive model only.

Alfa has previewed its 4C Launch Edition at the 2014 New York Auto Show, revealing it will sell 500 of the mid-engined, turbocharged sportster in the US shortly after its European launch later this year (more may follow, but this is the allocation set for the first run).

We will get three colours (Alfa Red, Rosso Competizione or Madreperla White), and the cars will sport US-spec only additions such as unique forged alloys and carbon fibre spoilers and inserts.

Of course, Alfa is keeping mum about the price for now, thoguh it should hover between $54,000 for a base model up to about $70,000 for all the goods. We will know by June.

OFFICIAL RELEASE: All-new Alfa Romeo 4C Debuts at the 2014 New York Auto Show, Marks the Iconic Italian Brand’s Return to North America

2014 New York Auto Show debut of all-new 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C coupe and limited-edition 4C Launch Edition marks the Italian sports car brand’s return to the North American market
Mid-engine proportions and inspiration from the brand’s racing traditions highlight Alfa Romeo 4C’s purposeful design for maximum performance
Alfa Romeo engineers leveraged advanced materials and technological solutions from Formula 1, including a carbon fiber monocoque, aluminum chassis structures and a composite body shell for an ultra-lightweight coupe with supercar-level performance
State-of-the-art powertrain technology: all-aluminum 1750 cc direct-injection turbocharged engine with intercooler, dual variable-valve timing and advanced scavenging technology is paired to a blistering fast Alfa TCT twin-clutch transmission
Alfa DNA selector optimizes the Alfa Romeo 4C’s powertrain and chassis control calibrations to the level of driving performance and capability needed
Excellence made in Italy: Alfa Romeo 4C combines the best technical and manufacturing competencies of two brands, Alfa Romeo and Maserati
Available this June and designed for America’s “Alfisti,” the Alfa Romeo 4C Launch Edition includes unique appointments and is limited to 500 serialized coupes

April 16, 2014 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - Marking the Italian brand’s highly anticipated return to North America, the all-new 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C makes its New York Auto Show debut – a mid-engine design inspired by the brand’s legendary racing history, state-of-the-art carbon fiber monocoque and all-aluminum turbocharged engine influenced by Formula 1, and advanced technological solutions, all to deliver supercar-level performance and driving exhilaration. Read the rest of this entry »

The Prancing Pony switches trainers

If your eyes were peeled at last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, you would have seen Luca di Montezemolo’s face after the start, watching the Mercs and Red Bulls pull away, and leaving Ferrari in their wake. he diodnt just look disappointed, he actually turned and walked off in disgust.

It may come as no surprise to eagle-eyed viewers that Stefano Domenicali, the long-serving team principal of Ferrari’s F1 team, has resigned.

Domenicali has been at the head of the team for six years, and began his career with a constructors’ title in 2008. However in recent years the team has faltered, finishing up last year with a dismal result to the Merc and Renault-engined cars.

More embarrasing is that the problem is clearly not the drivers; Massa was outed in preference of Raikkonen, who won his fair share of podiums last year for Lotus. Now, Massa is further up the field than either Raikkonon or Alonso; in a Williams no less!

With all the money spent on the sport of F1, it is simply not feasible for the Prancing Pony to continue without results, though it is hardly Domanicali’s fault.

Marco Mattiacci will move up form Ferrari North America to the role from this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.

F1 jockeys starving themselves for hundredths

Along with engines, turbos and ERS, the Formula One changed its minimum weight limit for driver and car combinations for the 2014 season. The minimum weight was raised, now at 692kg, but on the ultra-competitive world of F1, it seems the weight is still not high enough.

It would seem the rules have forced some drivers to go into an extreme diet to keep their weight down, despite the strength and endurance needed for the top sport in auto racing.

The hardest hit are the taller drivers. Jenson Button may run marathons, but the man looks to have aged about 20 years from last season, he is so thin now.

And now, according to Motorsport.com, Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Jean-Éric Vergne ended up in hospital between the Australian and Malaysian Grands Prix last month after trying to shed those last few kegs.

Vergne is 6′ in height and 152 pounds, while his new teammate Danny Kvyat is 5′11″ and 134 pounds.

“The weight difference between myself and my teammate was making me lose four tenths (per lap),” Vergne told French local media.

“I did a diet this winter, but you get to certain limits that the body can no longer take. Actually, I was in hospital between the Grands Prix in Australia and Malaysia because of a lack of water and a little bit of lack of everything. I was very weak.

“Frankly, this (situation) is stupid,” he insisted. “Formula one cars are very difficult to drive and we need all of our skills. Being forced to lose weight is not good.”

Schumacher stirs

Former F1 champ Michael Schumacher is reportedly showing “moments of consciousness and awakening,” according to an official statement released by his agent, Sabine Kehm.
This follows an horrific skiing accident last December, where Schumacher hit his head and cracked his helmet, putting him a coma. Originally medically induced, doctors hve been trying to ‘wake’ Schumacher for the past two months.
“Michael is making progress on his way,” said Kehm. “He shows moments of consciousness and awakening. We are on his side during his long and difficult fight, together with the team of the hospital in Grenoble, and we remain confident.
“We would like to thank you all for the continuous sympathies. At the same time we again ask for understanding that we do not intend to disclose details. This is necessary to protect the privacy of Michael and his family, and to enable the medical team to work in full calmness.”
After recent news of Shumacher’s wife shelling out $1.6 million to turn several rooms of their home into a palliative care suite, this may be the best news yet of a possible recovery.

Warehouse playhouse

There’s some cool infoblogs and undercover vids out there oN the web - in fact, you have to wade through the really dreadful stuff to dig out the bits of gold like the fellas who have brought us “How To Build A Drift Car For Under $5,000″.

Their latest video encompasses any self-respecting car fanatic’s dream - a rear-drive ca, a flat piece of concrete and full creative licence to cut sick.

The driver is Chris Forsberg, and the car is his demo V8 Infiniti M45. Enjoy it HERE.

Paul Walker crash findings point to speed - and old tyres

The Porsche Carrera GT of Fast & Furious franchise star Paul Walker, who died while sitting shotgun in the vehicle beside friend and racing driver Roger Rodas, was travelling at double the posted road limit when the car crashed and ignited, taking both of their lives.

It’s less than the media beat-up of over 100 miles an hour, but they were still speeding. The single car collision happened at about 3:26PM on Saturday, November 30, 2013 in the city of Santa Clarita. The posted speed limit in the area of the collision is 45mph.

More interestingly is the findings about the super-rare GT. While the car itself has been ruled out of fault in the accident, it’s demise may have something to do with the tyres it was shod in at the time, whicvh were nine years old. Nine years to perishable rubber which is brought out on the odd specialoccasion and treated to high levels of sudden heat and cooling is, well, a recipe for disaster.

It does raise another question - how many other examples of precious metal on our roads, used only on weekends or the odd blat to clear out the pipes, would have similar shoes?

OFFICIAL RELEASE: Cause of Collision that claimed the lives of Paul Walker & Roger Rodas

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s traffic collision experts have determined the speed of the vehicle driven by Roger Rodas, that claimed his life and the life of Paul Walker, was between 80 and 93 Miles Per Hour (MPH) at the time the car impacted a power pole and several trees.

“Investigators determined the cause of the fatal solo-vehicle collision was unsafe speed for the roadway conditions,” said Commander Mike Parker, North (County) Patrol Division, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Read the rest of this entry »

Flat four for Boxer, Cayman… 911?

The old rumor a four-cylinder engine for the compact mid-engined Porsche Boxter has reared again. It’s an oldie but a goodie, on the table for more than a decade when the Boxter idea first became a reality.

However, according to Automotive News, Porsche is finally preparing to launch a new flat four, based on the six but shortened and centered. Reducing the cylinders should enable both cars to handle and brake more efficiently, plus it cuts manufacturing costs and R&D.

Porsche has confirmed the report that both the Boxter and the Cayman will indeed be available for the first time with flat-four boxer engines soon. It’s not an alien prospect - Porsche offered a flat-four engine from 1938 to the mid 1970s (and the 944 inline four-cylinder engines of the 1990s).

Porsche chief Matthias Muller indicates that the new engine could produce as much as 395 horsepower, 55 horses more than the current Cayman GTS figures.

The big rumor now is: will it make it to the 911?

The One Ring is sold - and will stay

After a year of worry and rumour, it is with great relief that we report one of world’s greatest racetracks, the Nurburgring in Germany, will remain open, running, and in German hands. Phew!

This time last year, we reported that the Ring was for sale for $160 million. it sold for far less - Düsseldorf-based Capricorn Development bought the track for 77 million euros ($106.8 million), and it’s promising to invest a further 25 million euros ($34.7 million) into repairs and revisions.

The company will take over full ownership on January 1, 2015.

Beer saves the day!

There’s a lot riding on the new pairing of Thierry Neuville and Hyundai. After a lacklustre debut that has seen the promising young Belgian and codriver Nicolas Gilsoul well into the third round of the year without a finish due to mechanical woes, the pressure was on at last weekend’s Rally Mexico.

Running in second place, with all the hard work and stages done, Neuville was suddenly struck by another gremlin, the radiator leaking out all over the road on the last liaison back to the ceremonial finish.

Perhaps they had opened the beers too early - but it was lucky that they had. A huge liter-plus glass bottle of Corona had been handed to the competitors at the final check point of the last competitive ‘power stage”.

It was enough to top up the radiator by the side of the road, and get them to the finishing line.

Ironically, Neuville doesn’t actually drink… Yay for beer!

Seat’s Leon Cupra is a surprisingly hot hatch

Seat has revealed its new Leon Cupra at Geneva, the car that was rumored to be the new FWD Nurburgring title holder.

The rumors have now been confirmed by the carmaker, its hot hatch cracking the 8min barrier with a 7:58.4, nearly 10 seconds faster than the previous record set by the Renault Megane RS Trophy (8:07.97) in 2011.

Given the Cupra shares much of the Golf’s skeleton, and shares a four-pot 2.0-liter turbo, it may be high time for VW to crack its Golf R into gear and aim for the title itself. The best a Golf has done at the ‘Ring is a 8:36 back in 2009, and that was a Mk5 VW R32 DSG.

OFFICIAL RELEASE: Leon CUPRA sets new Nürburgring record

Geneva, 04/03/2014. - SEAT presented its ‘Leon CUPRA Performance Pack’ at the Geneva Motor Show today. The Leon CUPRA has already proven its incredibly sporty performance on the Nürburgring, the world’s most demanding race track. It lapped the famous Nordschleife circuit in a time of 7:58.4 minutes, beating the previous best time for front-wheel-drive vehicles by around ten seconds. The thorough, painstaking work done at the German circuit has been applied by SEAT to its series-production model, another of the brand’s attractions at the Geneva Motor Show, where its performance, compelling design, everyday usefulness and top-quality places it in a class of its own.

The Spanish brand is also putting the new Leon Cup Racer on show at Geneva, the competition vehicle developed and built by SEAT Sport, and which will be the major player in the Leon Eurocup, to begin in May. Another attraction on the SEAT stand is the new Mii by MANGO, a fashion edition city slicker created in collaboration with the design label MANGO, present in 104 countries around the world.

SEAT is currently demonstrating impressive performance in its sales figures. With 355,000 vehicles delivered worldwide, the Spanish manufacturer achieved growth of 10.6% in 2013, in a market that shrank by 1.8% in Europe. In Germany, for instance, SEAT achieved a market share of 2.8% following growth of over 22%, placing it in the top ten. In United Kingdom, registrations of the brand increased around 17% and close to 8% in its home market of Spain. The new Leon family made a major contribution to this success. No less than 102,000 new SEAT Leon were marketed in 2013, 44% more than in the previous year.

“SEAT clearly has positive sales momentum. The new Leon family is a key contributor to this growth. We are about to create a second strong pillar of business next to the Ibiza family. We expect to continue this success with the new Leon ST launched in the past months. First customer reaction is very positive, with over 20,000 factory orders already since launch period. We have momentum and plan to continue our growth path in 2014,” states Jürgen Stackmann, President of SEAT S.A. “SEAT is a young spirited brand made in Barcelona. This young spirit is defined by two dimensions: we are design driven and we are dynamic. Our ultimate expression of the successful Leon formula is the all new Leon CUPRA. It is the fastest and the most powerful car we have ever built and yet is a comfortable family car. The CUPRA is our new icon.”

State-of-the-art technology and stunning design, coupled with compelling performance and perfect everyday usability – the new Leon CUPRA embodies SEAT’s brand values in the best possible way. With up to 206 kW / 280 PS, the new CUPRA is not only the clear top model in the exceptionally successful Leon family, it is also the brand’s most powerful ever series-production car. And the fastest, too. The Leon CUPRA’s drive and chassis guarantee precision driving fun of the highest order. With its extensive equipment and excellent quality, the new CUPRA represents exceptionally good value-for-money. This new sports icon from the SEAT range is offered for the first time as a five-door and as the Leon three-door Sport Coupé.