Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Ferrari of Station Wagons

The four-seat Ferrari 612 Scaglietti is a great car, but not our favorite Ferrari. Launched in 2004, it’s getting long in the tooth, and the curvaceous body, lacking in tension, never really grew on us.

At this year’s Geneva auto show, Maranello will debut a Scaglietti successor that is not only visually exciting in a way the 612 never managed, but departs from the Ferrari gospel in two tremendous ways: It’s the first all-wheel-drive prancing horse, and it’s a two-door station wagon, or shooting brake.

Say What?!

The Pininfarina-styled four-seater folds futuristic shapes and detailing into classic front-engine proportions. The front end is dominated by a hood and headlights that are inspired by the 458 Italia, while the greenhouse sits far aft and flows into to a rear end with recessed taillights and a low tailgate. It is long (193.2 inches), wide (76.9 inches), and relatively low (54.3 inches), and to our eyes, it is absolutely stunning. The FF, says Ferrari, seats four comfortably and offers ample space for luggage.

2012 Ferrari FF
2012 Ferrari FF

The FF moniker stands for "Ferrari Four" in reference to the fact that all four of the wheels are driven. Ferrari claims that its all-wheel-drive system, called 4RM, is 50 percent lighter than comparable systems, but provides no details on how this was achieved. (RM stands for ruote motrici, so 4RM just means “four-wheel-drive” in Italian.) Regardless, the Italians have managed to keep total weight down to 3,946 pounds, no small feat given the size and power of the car. (The last 612 Scaglietti we tested was nearly 200 pounds heavier, at 4,123.)

Fifty-seven percent of that weight is perched over the rear axle. Curiously, British manufacturer Jensen built a four-seat, all-wheel-drive supercar by the name of FF in the late Sixties. The acronym then stood for Ferguson Formula, Harry Ferguson Research being the supplier of its all-wheel drive system.

Business as Usual

The shape and drivetrain layout may be unusual, but the engine is pure Ferrari: a 6.3-liter, naturally aspirated 65-degree V-12 that produces 651 hp at a screaming 8,000 rpm and 504 lb-ft of torque at 6,000. The power is channeled through a dual-clutch transmission and performance, as you would expect, should be extraordinary. Ferrari claims that zero to 60 mph will take just 3.7 seconds—we suspect that is a highly conservative guess—and top speed will be a lofty 208 mph. Magnetorheological shocks will help the FF handle, and Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes will halt it. Fuel efficiency is rated at 15.3 mpg in the European combined cycle, which is invariably more optimistic than the EPA cycles in the U.S. So don’t expect the FF to be the green Ferrari we’ve been expecting.

2012 Ferrari FF 2012 Ferrari FF

Ferrari history is peppered with Shooting Brake conversions. At the Turin auto show in 1968, coachbuilder Vignale unveiled the 330 Special. A few years later, Panther created a shooting brake based on the 365 GTB/4 Daytona. Swiss coachbuilder Felber got in on the fun with its 365 GTC/4 “Break,” introduced at in Geneva in 1977, and followed that a few years later with a conversion of the Ferrari 400 called Croisette. And, in the mid-’90s, Pininfarina built a few four-door station wagons based on the Ferrari 456 for the Sultan of Brunei. From the looks of it, though, the FF is getting the history of the official Ferrari shooting brake off to a spectacular start.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Second international auto show kicks off in Bangalore

Bangalore, Jan.7 (ANI): A four-day-long International Auto Show 2011 (IAS-2011) began at Bangalore's Palace Grounds on Thursday.

The expo is one of the biggest car events in the region that happens once in every two years.

Cyril Pereria, Managing Director, International Auto Expo, said that biggies from all over the country and abroad have taken part in the expo and the expo is expected to fetch business of Rs 200 crores (USD 4,40,577).

"At the International Auto Expo we totally have 140 companies from all over India participating in the show. This is totally for four days, beginning from today (January 06) for the next four days. We are expecting around 40,000 business visitors to come to the show and (Rs) 180-200 crores worth business to take place in the next four days. So I am sure all the exhibitors are going to be busy with the prospects and visitors," said Pereria.

The expo has the wide variety of automobiles on display ranging from Rs 2 lakhs to Rs 1 and half crores (USD 4,407 - 330,507).

Many automobile majors including Jaguar, Land Rover, Toyota, Skoda, Mahindra and Mahindra, Honda and Tata participated in the expo amongst others.

A variety of vintage car were also on display in the expo.

Automobile engineer students also participated to display their concept cars in the show.

Other innovations included a multi-purpose farming vehicle designed by Vikas Chaitram Shinde, farmer from Jalgaon district in Maharashtra. His innovation, originally a motorcycle, furrows the field, cuts grass and ploughs the soil.

Apart from India, delegates from Japan and Russia participated in the show.

The exhibition has emerged as a forum to connect buyers from all over the country and abroad in the field of automobile industry.

Besides vehicle and its component display, seminar and conferences on automobile industry were also held.


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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Russia: Top Europe's Auto Market by 2014

Russia intends to become the largest car market in Europe in 2014 with increased sales of economic recovery, Trade and Industry Minister Viktor Khristenko said on Wednesday.

"In mid 2013 the market will return to pre-crisis volumes, and in 2014 will be the number one market in Europe, with more than 3 million vehicles sold," Khristenko told lawmakers that the government here in the question session and answers.

He added that the ministry expects vehicle production to reach 1.3 million units in 2010, with sales expected to top 1.7 million vehicles.

Two years ago, analysts predicted that Russia will be in Europe, "the biggest car market by 2010. This was before the global financial crisis has squeezed demand, removing two years'rapid growth.

Russian lawmakers on Wednesday raised its planned spending on roads and road construction projects in 26 percent more in an effort to improve the acquisition of machinery.

New vehicles and light commercial vehicles sales grew by 55 per cent to 185,953 units in September compared with the previous year, according to the Association of European Business. Sales of new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in Russia in January-September rose 18 percent to 1.32 million units compared to the same period in 2009.

The number of foreign automakers, including Nissan and Chevrolet has plans for further improvements in their opportunities to increase production in Russia. Chevrolet is planning to launch a total of 37,000 cars this year compared with 23,000 vehicles a year earlier.

AEB Automobile Manufacturers Committee forecast last month that a total of 1.8 million cars will be sold in Russia this year.

"It is clear that the Russian automotive market has rebounded in 2010 with our latest forecasts, suggesting an increase of almost 20 percent,"David Thomas, president of the AEB Automobile Manufacturers Committee, said.

"Despite falling almost 50 percent from 2008-2009, in 2009, the market for 1.5 million cars and light commercial vehicles is still a very important market ".

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hybrid cars for Commonwealth Games

Maruti Suzuki on Tuesday handed over first lot of hybrid cars - 2 Maruti Suzuki SX4 Hybrid and 1 'Eeco Charge' -  for use during the Commonwealth Games, while another lot of eco-friendly cars will be handed over to the Delhi Government soon. 

Maruti Suzuki has made ready a lot of 14 future technology vehicles for use at the Commonwealth Games. These include 10 Maruti Suzuki SX4 Hybrid Cars and 4 Maruti Suzuki ‘Eeco Charge’ vehicles.
Hybrid cars for Commonwealth Games by Maruti Suzuki
“I am happy that engineers at Maruti Suzuki have developed these future technology vehicles. This project has helped our engineers to increase their knowledge and enhance their research and design capability. We are grateful to the government for their leadership to promote green technology in automobiles. We are happy to be associated with the Commonwealth Games national initiative, through these vehicles,” said Maruti Suzuki India Limited Managing Director and CEO Shinzo Nakanishi. 

The demonstration of the fleet of SX4 Hybrids and ‘Eeco Charge’ vehicles at the Commonwealth Games is in line with the ambitious the National Hybrid Propulsion Programme (NHPP) and High Energy Density Battery Development Programme. The development of hybrid and electric vehicles is one of the exciting initiatives undertaken by Maruti Suzuki to enhance its R&D capabilities and gear itself for greener technologies, he said.
The hybrid system used in the SX4 features an electric motor and twin clutch arrangement with advance Lithium-ion battery technology. This concept combines a 1.2 litre K-series petrol engine and a 50 kW electric motor along with 5-speed automated manual transmission. 

The SX4 hybrid offers 25 per cent more fuel efficiency compared to conventional gasoline vehicle. Similarly, ‘Eeco Charge’ is a zero-emission, pure electric vehicle. It is powered by a 50kW motor and a 24kWh Lithium-ion battery. On full charge it promises a driving range of around 100 km and attains top speed of 100 km per hour. 


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