Sunday, 13 April 2014

Honda Activa 125 bookings start in India

Honda showcased the much awaited Activa 125 at the Delhi Auto Expo earlier this year. While the launch was supposed to happen immediately after the expo, it has now been understood that it has been delayed till later this month or next. Honda dealers though have already started taking bookings for the Activa 125. You can book Honda’s first 125cc scooter for India with a down payment of Rs 5,000 with delivery expected as and when the stocks arrive. One dealer on the condition of anonymity told OVERDRIVE that deliveries in a bulk will happen in June. He also told us that the Activa 125 in its top most variant, will retail for approximately Rs 70,000 on-road. This price is around Rs 4,000 more than the Aviator 110 with disc brake.
Honda Activa 125 (1)
The Honda Activa 125 has an 8.7PS/10.12Nm 125cc four stroke air-cooled engine. It has a v-matic transmission which we have seen in the Activa and other automatic scooters. While Honda hasn’t mentioned the fuel efficiency figures yet, we expect the HET loaded scooter to deliver 60kmpl. The front suspension is telescopic while the rear is spring loaded hydraulic type. Honda will roll out two variants of the Activa 125- 130mm drums on both ends and one with front disc (190mm) and 130mm drum at the rear. Both the variants will have Honda’s combined braking system. The Activa 125 will be available in four colours.
Honda Activa 125
On the looks front, the Activa 125 seems inspired by the Hero Maestro and the in house Aviator. It looks muscular and spacious as well. Honda has given the Activa 125 a digital meter, alloy wheels and a large comfortable looking seat.
The Honda Activa 125 will square off against the Mahindra Duro, Suzuki Access 125 and the Vespa.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Bugatti reveals new special Veyron

This is the ‘Black Bess' Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse, the latest run-out special in the manufacturer's ‘Legend Edition' series.

Bugatti tells us that it's inspired by its rickety 1912 Type 18 - nicknamed Black Bess because it was, um, black - which means the GSV's wearing the same monochromatic paint. But with a few details picked out in gold. Not gold paint, but 24 carats of the proper stuff, plating the front grille, wheel caps and filler flap.

Inside is more of the same. The door cards and rear cabin feature several doodles of the Type 18, and some scribbles of a bloke called Roland Garros' aeroplane - a Morane-Saulnier Type H, if you're interested. Unfortunately, they won't buff out - Bugatti's developed a special application process so the they won't be damaged by wear and tear.

As well as new leather finishes, you'll also find more gold accents in the cabin - there's a gilded EB badge and elephant logo, though mercifully, the dial bezels haven't been dipped. The steering wheel's also been fiddled with to tribute the T18 - it's got a red rim inspired by the 1912 model.

Bugatti reveals new special edition Veyron

At this point, you may be wondering a) why you've never heard of a Type 18, and b) what the hell it's got to do with a 253mph, 1183bhp Veyron. Well, there are only three T18s left, and Bugatti reckons it was the world's first super sports car, packed as it did a 100bhp 5.0-litre four-cylinder engine that could shunt it to 100mph. Which isn't bad considering the Type 18 is older than some religions.

Bugatti reveals new special edition Veyron
And the plane? This is where it gets a bit tenuous. Bugatti's founder, the eponymous Ettore, hillclimbed a Type 18, winning the 1912 Mont Ventoux event. On the back of his victory, seven examples were sold, and one went to French aviator, Roland Garros, who owned the Morane-Saulnier Type H pictured. Simple, no?

Bugatti reveals new special edition Veyron

Want Black Bess in your life? She's heading to next week's Beijing motor show. There's no word on price, but just three will be built, so don't expect a bargain.

Bugatti reveals new special edition Veyron

Monday, 7 April 2014

Merc's 911 rival is coming this year

Merc's 911 rival is coming this year

When the head of Mercedes-Benz design tells you that the company's next sportscar will be "the most beautiful Mercedes" his team has ever created, you pay attention.

And when the head of Mercedes-Benz AMG - the skunkworks division responsible for building the company's next sportscar - tells you its new engine will be a sophisticated masterpiece, you stop what you're doing and listen.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the upcoming Mercedes-Benz AMG GT - that's the new sportscar to sit below the outgoing SLS and rival Porsche's 911 - is on its way. And, after some exclusive chats with the men behind it, we're quite excited.

At the Geneva Motor Show, we asked AMG chief Tobias Moers whether the new GT - codenamed the C190 - will come, as rumoured, with a 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 engine. Moers replied: "No, that's not that wrong." Which we're taking as a yes.

The GT also definitely, definitely won't come with a manual either, Tobias making a hand gesture to suggest stirring a manual is unnecessary. "Even the new Porsche GT3 isn't a manual," he says. Nor will the GT come with AMG's four-wheel-drive system. Ever.

On the subject of turbochargers, however, Tobias was clear. "It's necessary now for us because you don't get that compromise between fuel efficiency and power output. Supercharging is, thermodynamically, not very good, because the power output into the supercharger is too high.

"The thing is, everybody at AMG loves the big, naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8, but trust us, the new V8 in the new sportscar will have excellent throttle response. Everybody will be happy."

The GT also marks the end of big, naturally aspirated engines for Mercedes AMG full stop, because - barring the SLK 55 AMG's free breather - the rest of the range is all turbocharged. The SLS? Every last model is sold out, and it's now been killed. Tobias admits that the death of the current SLS does leave space later down the line for another big supercar, though not anytime soon. "Another SLS? It was only ever supposed to have a three-year life cycle, end of story, so we'll see another one later rather than sooner. I think the SLS should stand on its own now for about five or six years maybe, we haven't decided anything just yet."

The SLS' engine is also only a last hurrah in the C63 AMG too, but, Tobias confirmed that "yes, that [new V8] engine could be a possibility for our new C63. It will be very competitive".

Competitive, yes, but on the subject of competitors, although engineers on the new Honda NSX took out every likely rival to see where the market was at, Tobias isn't so sure that's the AMG way.

"For sure, we have some 911s - a Turbo and two standard cars - as well as a Jaguar F-Type, a Corvette... we've got all the competitors. But that's the big difference between the Japanese methodology and ours. They can do it better than we, because we've tried it in the past and it didn't work for us.

"I think the new NSX will be a really good car, and we know how the Porsche handles, how the ‘Vette handles - how our competitors handle. But what we try and do is have fun with our cars. And in the past, it's worked that if we are happy with our package, our customers are happy." Anyone familiar with the Black Series SLS can attest to that.

Speaking of which, there will be a Black Series AMG GT, too, "along with many, many more variants," Tobias said. "The new sportscar which is in a new segment - price wise it's lower than the SLS - gives us a lot of room for spreading the portfolio out. A much wider range of models."

A wider range with very distinct lines, too, according to chief designer Gordon Wagener. "The new sportscar will not necessarily have the same features as the Vision GT [that we saw at the LA show last year - the car built for Gran Turismo 6] but it will definitely have a similar language. The essence of that car you will see on a future sportscar." We ask whether the GT will be a gullwing too. Wagener laughs. "I cannot tell you that."

"I think in each and every sportscar we do, there will be an element of our racing heritage. Every Mercedes sportscar is like a Silver Arrow, and the next one coming is maybe the most beautiful, maybe other than the 300, that we have ever done.

"But - I was misquoted last time. What I actually meant when I said the AMG GT will be the most beautiful car we have ever done, is that it's the most beautiful car we - that's my team and me - have ever designed."

So how close to finished is it? "It's done," Gordon smiles. "The design of that car is finished."
We'll see the Mercedes AMG GT before the year is out, and it'll be on the market by next year. And we can't wait.

Mercedes unveils the new SL400

A day after blitzing the field with its impressive V6 turbo in a really quite thrilling Bahrain GP comes the news that Mercedes is replacing the SL350's engine with... a V6 turbo. Meet the new SL400.

The new-number SL gets a new engine in the shape of a biturbo, 3.0-litre V6, here producing 333bhp and 354lb ft of torque - 27bhp and 81lb ft more than the SL350 it replaces.

It's got direct injection utilizing spray-guided combustion, Piezo injectors that enable up to five injections per power stroke (steady at the back), and multi-spark ignition. This system, while allowing for up to four sparks per millisecond, also allows us to use the world plasma; it creates a plasma with a larger spatial expansion, we're told.

Which is all very interesting, but we're sure you want to know how this new found engine translates into Things You Can Argue About With Friends: 0-62mph in the new SL400 takes 5.2 seconds, while top speed sits at 155mph.

Outside of the engine stuff, there's a new ‘Frontbass' audio system that turns the SL400 into a ‘concert hall', while the Magic Vision Control wash-wipe system takes water from the wiper blade to the windscreen. Snazzy.

No confirmation on UK prices, but it'll go on sale in Germany with a tag of €97,282.50 (inclusive of Germany's 19 per cent VAT). That's around £80,500.

While SL400 undoubtedly sounds cooler than SL350, we're sure the Merc you're really waiting for is the upcoming, 911-rivalling AMG GT. We've got more on that car at the link below...

Merc GT

This is the BMW M4 Convertible

BMW has revealed the first official details and pictures of the new M4 Convertible; the drop-top version of the new M4 Coupe. Pictures are above. The details? There are many.

The first of which entails that new top. The M4 Convertible gets a three-part metal roof some 2dB quieter than that of the outgoing M3 Convertible, one that can be raised or lowered at speeds of up to 8mph in 20 seconds.

Then there's BMW's take on the Mercedes ‘air scarf', here labelled ‘Air Collar'. It's a fan mounted between the head-rest and upper seat bolster to keep your neck warm when the roof's down.

The whole car is 60kg lighter than the outgoing, V8-engined BMW M3 Convertible, though still clocks the scale at a not-inconsiderable 1,750kg - the standard M4 Coupe weighs 1500kg - despite the liberal use of aluminium (the bonnet, front wings and some chassis components), along with carbon-fibre reinforced plastic for the propeller shaft and strut brace.

There's nothing liberal about the engine, mind. It's the same twin-turbocharged, 3.0-litre straight-six as the new M4 Coupe and M3 Saloon, producing the same 431bhp and 406lb ft of torque.

Obviously that weight penalty means there's a mild performance deficit: 0-62mph in this Convertible M4 takes 4.6 seconds with the standard-fit manual gearbox (4.3s for the Coupe), or 4.4s with the optional, £2,645 dual-clutch auto transmission (4.1s for the Coupe). Should you care about such things, BMW claims 32.5mpg and 203g/km of CO2 for this auto box. The manual gearbox fares a little worse.

You get an active differential, DSC - including an M dynamic mode - and adaptive M suspension with three modes (Comfort, Sport and Sport+), though there's no mention of the Coupe's Smokey Burnout function. Yes, that's a real Thing.

Inside there are electrically adjustable heated leather seats, an M steering wheel, individual rear seats, and some boot space: 370 litres with the roof closed, 220 litres with it open/stowed. Outside there are 19in wheels, that ‘powerdome' bonnet, a really shouty front apron, side gills and air breathers and of course, the quad exhaust pipes.

Prices start at £60,730, and it'll go on sale in the UK on 6 September 2014. Want one?

Infiniti’s 560bhp super-saloon is coming

Good news for fans of super-saloons: Infiniti has built a full running prototype of its 560bhp, BMW M5-rivalling Q50 Eau Rouge concept for ‘evaluation' purposes. And the man doing the evaluation is four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel of course, is Infiniti's Director of Performance, and the affable German has been fettling the Eau Rouge in a series of performance and handling tests at Bedfordshire's glamorous Millbrook facility. 

The aim? Infiniti remains schtum at the moment, but it'd be safe to assume the Q50 ‘Eau Rouge' is heading for a limited production run. If so, this promises to be a very interesting proposition.

Because, as we told you at the Geneva Motor Show, the Q50 ‘Eau Rouge' packs the 3.8-litre, hand-built turbocharged V6 engine from the Nissan GT-R, piped through an Infiniti-spec 4WD system with a standard 50:50 torque split front and rear.

And the Eau Rouge has plenty of torque to split, too, producing a very healthy 443lb ft that, together with a seven-speed automatic gearbox (no dual-clutch here) manages a 0-62mph time under four seconds, and an estimated top speed of 180mph. Bearing in the mind the GT-R does the benchmark sprint in under three seconds, and we reckon Infiniti might be erring on the conservative side with those numbers.

The front and rear tracks are 20mm than those of the standard Q50, there are huge brakes, 20in lightweight forged aluminium alloys, a bespoke carbon fibre bumper, and a one-piece carbon fibre rear bumper with a very cool touch: a rear LED brake light lifted straight from the Red Bull F1 car.

Speaking of Red Bull, maybe we've got this ‘Eau Rouge' concept to blame for Vettel's comparatively slow start to the season? Maybe he's taking his ‘Director of Performance' job a little too seriously? Maybe not...

Anyway, we'll get more details when the prototype makes an appearance at the upcoming Beijing Motor Show on 20 April. No word on price, but a couple of months back, Infiniti told us to expect a tag of around £70k.