Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Mercedes GLE Coupe: Merc's X6 rival!

The new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe is Mercedes's take on the BMW X6 and it also comes in an AMG variant. After the E-Class, this is the other car to feature the 9-speed transmission as standard. Available with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, the GLE Coupe is slotted between the GLE  which is better known as the M-Class and GLS which was earlier called the GL.
Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé (2014)
Speaking of inside, the GLE Coupe offers seating for five. Once, that'd have been a crucial deal-breaker for buyers dithering over that X6 deposit, but no longer - the BM's ditched its four-seater set-up. That said, the GLE Coupe's ruthlessly sloped roofline means rear space won't be a patch on the ML - sorry, GLE's - and boot space is sacrificed too - 1600 litres in the GLE Coupe plays 2010 litres in the GLE.
 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé (2014)
Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé (2014)

There's a few more months to wait until Mercedes unleashes its AMG GLE 63 complete with the full compliment of bi-turbo V8 political incorrectness, so, in the meantime, the GLE Coupe is the first new Mercedes to spawn an AMG Sport model - a halfway house of lukewarm Mercs inbetween cooking models and the lairy AMG flagships. Think BMW's M Performance range, or Audi's ‘S' cars.

So the GLE 450 AMG brandishes a 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V6, churning out 362bhp and 383lb ft to the car's standard-fit nine-speed automatic gearbox. The AMG Sport model gets a bespoke torque split: 60 per cent hits the rear rubber in normal driving, compared to an even 50:50 in the other versions.

You can have a lesser GLE 400 with 328bhp, using the same 3.0-litre V6. And yes, Europeans, there's a diesel version: the GLE 350d's V6 manages 255bhp and 457lb ft. Fuel consumption figures haven't yet been disclosed, probably because Mercedes knows full well prospective buyers couldn't give a flying monkeys.

Typically for a modern German machine, everything is adjustable. You can tinker with the standard-fit air suspension, gearbox behaviour, engine sound, traction and stability control and the steering response, thanks to Merc's ‘Dynamic Select' gadget. You want options? Have five of 'em: Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual modes for the road, and a ‘Slippery' setting for snow, ice and off-roading. 

The other official figures Mercedes is keeping close to its chest are prices. Expect a diesel GLE Coupe to set you back around £55,000, and the paid-up nutter of an AMG model the thick end of £90k.
Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé (2014)

Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé (2014)

Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé (2014)

Monday, 8 December 2014

Aston DB10: James Bond's new ride!

To finally lay rest to rumours that James Bond will be driving a puny Fiat 500 in his next outing, comes the sizzling Aston Martin DB10, a car more revolutionary than whatever Aston has done till now. 
The DB10 will be Daniel Craig's wheels in Bond's 24th big-screen outing, due next year, continuing 007's affiliation with Aston that helped make the DB5 so iconic.
We love a Bond flick, but needless to say it's the DB10 that's whet our appetites the most. It's described by Aston Martin as "a model developed specifically for the film and built in-house by the brand's design and engineering teams", and will be limited to a production run 10 cars, three of which have so far been built.
But it's fair to say this is no pie-in-the-sky concept. It looks an entirely road-ready vehicle, and its Aston convention-matching name ought to be a deep hint that we're looking at a preview of the DB9's replacement. Aston itself says "the DB10 gives a glimpse to the future design direction for the next generation of Aston Martins".
But an Aston insider tells us it more accurately points towards what we can expect from the next V8 Vantage. As such, a 4.7-litre eight-cylinder apparently sits beneath that svelte bonnet. the DB10's panels are crafted from carbonfibre, as it's the quickest material to work with.
Technical information and gadget details were spared from Spectre director Sam Mendes's unveil, perhaps unsurprisingly. So for now we can only pass comment on how the DB10 looks.
‘Nice' would appear to be an understatement, the tautness of the V8 melded with the longer profile of the DB9, but with much sharper creases and some perfectly housed alloy wheels.
While very recognisably an Aston, there are also inescapable shades of Jaguar F-Type, particularly in side profile and around the DB10's hindquarters. Given the affiliation designer Ian Callum has with both companies, that ought not to be a surprise. And given the F-Type is a stonker, it's certainly not a bad parallel to draw.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Ducati 1299 Panigale and 1299 S

New 2015 Ducati 1299 Panigale Is A 205-HP Supercomputer
Ducati's latest flagship superbike has all the expected spec bumps. There's more displacement, more power, revised suspension and brakes, and a smatter of subtle design tweaks. But the real story behind the Ducati 1299 Panigale is the amount of computing power orchestrating it all.
New 2015 Ducati 1299 Panigale Is A 205-HP Supercomputer
The new Superquadro V-twin puts out 205 horsepower in both the base and S variants – matching the hyper-exclusive Panigale Superleggera – thanks to a 116mm bore resulting in 1,285cc of displacement. Torque is up to 106 lb-ft and weight is pegged at 395 pounds wet (without gas).

The superbike will fight off with the supercharged Kawasaki Ninja H2, the new Yamaha R1M and the Aprillia RSV4 RR.
New 2015 Ducati 1299 Panigale Is A 205-HP Supercomputer
While the engine is sure to be another screamer, it's the Ohlins Smart EC suspension and the silicon brains behind it that takes center stage. Ducati is calling the electronics controlling it all "event-based", taking inputs from a variety of sensors to change the suspension settings in real-time based on what the bike is doing, not what inputs the rider is making.
New 2015 Ducati 1299 Panigale Is A 205-HP Supercomputer
While braking for a corner, the damping and compression in the front forks increases to boost stability. Mid-corner, the lean-angle sensors detect the bike's angle, releases the damping to improve control and also has a new ABS-setting that can be tweaked for both corner entry and manipulation in the middle of the bend. On the way out, the rear suspension stiffens to provide more grip out back, and wheelie control – also pulled from the Superleggera – lets you dial in the right amount of lift, similar to what's on offer from the BMW S1000RR. There's also a fully-electronic steering damper, along with quick-shifting for both up and down clutchless shifting.
New 2015 Ducati 1299 Panigale Is A 205-HP Supercomputer
But the first question anyone that follows racing is going to ask is what about the displacement regulations for World Superbike? Those are capped, so Ducati is offering a new 1299 Panigale R with the... ummm... old 1,198cc of displacement, complete with a tungsten-balanced crankshaft and putting out the same 205 hp and a few pound-feet less. It also comes equipped with a full Akropovič titanium exhaust, Ohlins, Ducati's data acquisition system, and tips the scales at 406 pounds wet.
New 2015 Ducati 1299 Panigale Is A 205-HP Supercomputer
Deliveries of all three bikes are set to begin this February or March depending on the market, and all that suspension tech is sure to filter down to other Ducati models in the coming years.
New 2015 Ducati 1299 Panigale Is A 205-HP Supercomputer
New 2015 Ducati 1299 Panigale Is A 205-HP Supercomputer
New 2015 Ducati 1299 Panigale Is A 205-HP Supercomputer
New 2015 Ducati 1299 Panigale Is A 205-HP Supercomputer

Aprilia RSV4 RR & RF!

Ladies and gentlemen, the 2015 RSV4 RR is here, as is the RSV4 RF.
Aprilia RSV4-RFWEB[5]
Wow – the RSV4 RF is some bit of kit!
The basics are as follows: an extra 16bhp taking the engine up to 201bhp at the crank, at 13,000rpm. All engine internals have been revised or redesigned. The class-leading APRC electronics package has also been upgraded and refined and includes traction-control, anti-wheelie, launch control and also an auto-downshift blipper.
Brakes have also been upgraded, and features a Race ABS system from Bosch with three adjustable settings. These settings can also be combined with the engine mapping and other electronic settings. With the chassis, weight distribution and general chassis setup has been redefined, the engine is slightly lower and the swingarm lengthened by 14mm. The front fairing is also larger and redesigned, too.
The RR comes with Sachs suspension, but can be upgraded to Ohlins via the race pack, which also includes lighter wheels, a race ECU and lots of other goodies. Or, you can buy the limited edition RSV4 RF, which comes with the full race pack included, and also a special ‘Superpole’ paint scheme. Don’t delay though, there will only be 500 of the RF built.
The big news? The engine mapping and electronics can be tailored on track, corner by corner, via GPS to your preferences. Not only that, the software and support will help you go faster. That’s WSB & MotoGP in your garage – what a brave new world we live in!
It will lock horns with the Ducati 1299, the new Yamaha R1M and the Kawasaki Ninja H2

Yamaha R1 2015!

It was a rainy night in Milan, but that in no way dampened the mood at Yamaha, which trotted out MotoGP star Valentino Rossi to ride the long-awaited 2015 YZF-R1 onto stage at the big launch party held the night before the EICMA motorcycle show opened. And what an impressive bike this new R1 appears to be, a seriously sporty new Yamaha flagship that goes on sale in February/March priced at $16,490.

This bike is a big leap forward from the older R1 and trumps the V-twin Ducati 1299 and the mad supercharged Kawasaki Ninja H2.

For that sum, you’ll be getting a potent and highly capable motorcycle that can throw down some fast laps at your local track day and then be ridden home. And it’s in that role as a street-legal race bike that the new R1 will almost certainly shine, thanks to a lightweight aluminum chassis (with a magnesium subframe) and an all-new 998cc four-cylinder engine that puts out “approximately 200 horsepower” at the crankshaft. Yamaha, of note, makes it clear that the 200 mark is reached without any ram-air effect. Also, good, linear torque is reported throughout the rev band.
Neat details abound: The R1’s connecting rods are titanium, and their big ends are fracture-split, which assures a perfect circle. The cylinder head, with reshaped ports and larger valves (33mm intakes, 26.5mm exhausts), has 13.0:1 compression, and its narrower valve angle allows for a more compact pent-roof combustion chamber. And, in page borrowed from MotoGP, the crankshaft is a crossplane design with 270°/180°/90°/180° firing sequence that gives each piston and con rod its own individual and separate movement for power pulses that improve acceleration traction and offer a most excellent great exhaust growl.
2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 side view from EICMA motorcycle show
Another note about the R1’s crankshaft: Yamaha says it has 20 percent less inertial moment than the previous crank, which dramatically improves throttle response. And a lightweight primary coupling balancer has weights positioned near the outer cylinders for strong acceleration and consistently high torque.
Lightweight forged aluminum pistons are also part of the R1 recipe. Cooled by oil jets from below, these pistons are lightweight but strong, and their low-tension piston rings, together with a diamond-like carbon coating on the wristpins, helps reduce internal friction. Similarly coated is a new rocker-arm mechanism that provides a higher valve lift than the cam height to reduce load on the cam and further cut internal friction.
One of Yamaha’s main design thrusts was to increase air intake volume while reducing power losses. The airbox on the new R1 is a voluminous 10.5 liters, 23 percent larger than the previous box. Yamaha’s Chip Controlled Injection, with long and short funnels electronically activated for optimum power output and torque, remains in use, while new two-directional, 12-hole injectors spray fuel at the back of the larger intake valves.
Valentino Rossi introduces the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 at EICMAWHAT DOES THE DOCTOR SAY?
Valentino Rossi evidently played a role in the development of the new 2015 R1. He said he wanted the bike to have the agility of his M1 race machine, but, at the same, be more comfortable to ride and have a “better feel” over the front end. He also worked with the R1’s new electronics, which feature, among other things, lean-sensitive traction control, slide control, and ABS, plus various power modes, a quickshifter, wheelie control and launch control. “All of the electronics in MotoGP have improved a lot,” said Rossi, a nine-time world champion. Electronics now work in a very natural way. It’s like normal riding, but easier.”
With cast magnesium wheels, lightweight LED lights, and a titanium 4-2-1 exhaust, the new 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 tips the scales at a claimed 439 lb., in fully wet, ready to ride form. Its wheelbase is down by almost 0.4 inch, and its swingarm has been reduced in length by 0.5 inch. Rake and fork offset are unchanged, and an inverted 43mm fork is complemented by a link-type single-shock rear.
2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 rear view from EICMA motorcycle show
Also notable: The 2015 R1 is the first Yamaha supersport model with ABS and Unified Braking. With the latter, the operation of the front brake generates a corresponding brake force at the rear. And when the rider operates both the front and rear brakes, UBS controls the balance applied to each brake. The only time UBS has no control is when only the rear brake is used.
LED headlights reside in the leading edges of the side cowling, not in the center of the fairing, which gives the new 2015 R1 has a race-ready look. This is backed up with an exceptionally strong technical package should keep this Yamaha busy on weekends at racetrack and on roads around the world.

2015 Yamaha YZF-R1M at EICMA motorcycle showSPECIAL-EDITION: THE YAMAHA YZF-R1M
Near the end of the Yamaha press conference in Milan, we were in for a surprise treat: The R1M, a limited-edition R1 for riders or professional teams who plan to go racing, essentially a homologation special in the spirit of the YZF-R7 of 1999. To that end, this special R1M has Electronic Racing Suspension (ERS) from Öhlins, carbon-fiber bodywork, a Communication Control Unit (a data logger) and stickier Bridgestones. Price: $21,990. Fewer than 500 will be built.

Thunderbird LT 2015

The Thunderbird LT is a ‘light tourer’ that Triumph built to break the strangle hold that Harley-Davidson have on the American cruiser market and it’s targeted squarely at the HD Road King Classic in particular. This battle finds a new stage in India now but that’s fodder for a comparison that we’ll bring you at a later date. For a first impression we took the Thunderbird LT for a ‘small’ 400 kilometre spin to find out what this stunning Brit brings to the cruiser loving Indian market.
Triumph Thunderbird LT  (2)
Try spotting Varun’s reflection in all that chrome
Like the classic tourer that it hopes to better, the beautiful Triumph has clean lines with large fenders, cushy seat, tall wide bars and a sea of chrome that make taking detail shots a photographer’s nightmare. In the flesh it’s a really large motorcycle that begs for your (and everyone else’s) attention. The tall windscreen, pillion back rest and leather saddle bags clearly state that this is a motorcycle for the open road. It’s also one of those motorcycles that urge you to keep them clean, just so you can spend hours looking at your reflection in all that chrome or admire the gloss of the two tone Caspian Blue/Crystal White paint job – obsessive compulsive cleaners and Parsis, you have been warned. You may spend more time with this motorcycle stationary than out on the road.
Triumph Thunderbird LT  (6)
The 270 degree firing order does give the twin a distinct v-twin like off beat note but it’s a fairly soft tune
Swing a leg over the low seat (700mm) and your nether regions are cupped in a nice wide comfortable berth. Triumph have made the seat out of multiple density foam layers that they say offer great support and comfort. The riding position is generous though shorter riders might find it a little too stretched out. For my 5’9” frame it was fairly comfortable. Thumb the starter and the 1699cc parallel twin sparks to life with a burble. The 270 degree firing order does give the twin a distinct v-twin like off beat note but it’s a fairly soft tune. I’d prefer the soundtrack to my ride to be turned up a few notches on the amp.
Triumph Thunderbird LT  (4)
The twin 310mm discs are great stoppers
Pull away and you’d be hard pressed to believe that this is a large powerful cruiser, that is at least from the throttle response perspective. The progressive throttle gives a smooth and gentle response at low speeds making it a very easy motorcycle to control and you won’t find yourself lurching forward in traffic every time you get on and off the throttle. It does feel a little heavy at low speeds despite the wide handle bars though nowhere as intimidating as its 380 kilogram kerb weight sounds. Thankfully the low seat height allows you to plant both feet flat on the tarmac so things never get out of hand.
Triumph Thunderbird LT  (5)
Large dials are simple and easy to read
The Thunderbird LT loves the open road and once the traffic on the way out of Delhi cleared, I was able to let all 94 horses out to play. The engine revs smoothly with just a few vibrations kicking in near the top and quite un-cruiser like, there is a little top end kick to reward you for accelerating through the gears. Once in the tall sixth gear, things calm down and I found a sweet spot around the 110-120kmph mark where the whole package felt happiest. It can hold faster speeds but I found that over 140kmph, the vibrations and the wind noise started to become a distraction. The large windscreen kept the wind off my shoulders but my head did get some light buffeting, not enough to make it a concern though. The positive trade off is that you can see the road over the tall windscreen rather than having to look through it, which is great in general and crucial in the rain.
Triumph Thunderbird LT  (1)
For such a large motorcycle, the Triumph handles really well but like all cruisers, it grinds its floor boards way too soon. With this long and heavy a motorcycle, it’s no surprise that it’s stable too. In fact, when leaned over it has a slight eagerness to right itself. Not so much that you feel like it wants to run wide but just enough that you lose all fear that it will tip over in the corner. Another confidence inspiring trait is the brakes. The 310mm dual front discs bring things to a stop surprisingly easily. There’s not too much feel from the lever but it would require a really heavy hand to activate ABS. The rear brakes bite nicely too but I hardly needed to use them on the ride.
The Triumph scores great on comfort and I have to say that the multiple density cushion seat is one of the most comfortable perches I have experienced on a motorcycle. I had no aches and pains after the first day of riding, having covered a good 400-odd kilometres and just stopping twice, once to refuel and then, for a snack. It’s not just down to the seat either, the dual rate springs of the Showa shocks absorb all but the sharpest of bumps and made for a comfortable ride. The large 22 litre fuel tank gives the LT a nice 300 kilometre range and you’ll be comfortable enough in the saddle to ride all of them without stopping. Our photographer, Varun also spent some time on the pillion perch as we searched the outskirts of Ajmer for a place to shoot and he rates it as one of the best he’s had to sit on.
Triumph Thunderbird LT  (3)
The best seats in the business?
At Rs 15.75 lakh ex-Delhi, it’s quite a stretch for the Indian cruiser enthusiast but at that price you do get a great comfortable long distance cruiser that will keep you entertained both on the road and parked in your garage. Just be prepared to answer the never ending stream of “how much?” and “mileage?” questions whenever you do pullover.

Kawasaki Ninja H2 to be launched in India in 2015

The Kawasaki H2R is easily the most talked about motorcycle in 2014. The supercharged litre class beast produces a record 300PS and is more powerful than any other production motorcycle in history. However, the H2R is a track only machine that is going to be produced in small numbers and cost a very big number to own. Fortunately, Kawasaki also has a street version of this motorcycle in the H2 that also runs a supercharged litre engine but in a lower state of tune (that still produces over 200PS). The 998cc motor uses a centrifugal supercharger that can run upto 1,30,000rpm and generate upto 20.5psi of boost pressure.
Kawasaki Ninja H2
The H2 will be available in India at a price we believe will be close to the Rs 30 lakh mark.  The H2 comes with a comprehensive electronics package that includes traction control, launch control, engine brake control, anti wheelie and more to help the rider manage the manic power. The frame is a trellis type while the massive 330mm front brakes help slow the machine down with ABS providing security.
The H2 is available with an advanced mirror coated black paint.

Ferrari FXXK!

The brilliantly-named FXX K is based on the LaFerrari – the quickest road-legal production car ever made by the Italian manufacturer.
But for some wealthy customers, the 217mph LaFerrari isn't quite quick enough – so lab boffins in Maranello, northern Italy, decided to make it more extreme.
Tearing up the rulebook for road and race cars, Ferrari has built a "completely uncompromising" vehicle designed to give "an unprecedented driving experience".
On track: The FXX K is expected to make its global debut in Abu Dhabi next week
The FXX K now has more than 1,000bhp and will be able to accelerate from 0-62mph in less than THREE seconds.
It has been designed for lapping a racetrack as quickly as possible and has a 50 per cent increase in downforce to boost cornering.
The 'K' in the name is a reference to the "KERS" kinetic energy recovery system which boosts track performance.
It will also have a deafening roar, with engineers removing the silencers from the hybrid racecar's exhaust system.
Red for danger: The new car is built for the track and breaks all the rules for suitability for roads
Ferrari announced the first details of the FXX K today before it makes its global debut in Abu Dhabi next week.
A Ferrari statement said: "Unfettered by homologation and racing regulations, the FXX K will never be used in competition.
"It was, in fact, developed to be completely uncompromising, incorporating technological innovations that will guarantee an unprecedented driving experience to the exclusive group of Client-Test Drivers with whom the Prancing Horse will roll out a test programme over the coming two years."
The manufacturer refused to reveal pricing, but the limited edition track car is expected to cost in excess of £2million.