Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 Balboni CAR review

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Because the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 isn't quite enough for everyone, there's now a less-is-more version. With no front driveshaft and all the power from the 5.2-litre V10 going to the rear wheels, this is the limited edition LP550-2 Valentino Balboni, and a chance to help shift a few more cars, deflect attention from the new Ferrari 458 Italia, and finally silence those whingers who claim that Lambos aren’t real drivers cars. Wonder how many have actually driven one?

So what’s the Balboni bit about in the Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 Valentino Balboni name?Valentino Balboni is Lamborghini’s recently retired test driver, a man who worked under Ferrucio Lamborghini himself when the company was still knocking out Miuras. Just 250 units of this special Gallardo will be made to honour Balboni’s 41 year association with the firm. And since much of his time was spent wrestling with lairy rear-drive supercars, Balboni the car fittingly does without the standard Gallardo’s front differential and driveshafts.

That’s not all it does without, judging by the name. Where did the 10bhp go?

Ditching the front shaft and diff has cut the weight 30kg to 1380kg, although that’s without fluids – say 1480kg measured the conventional way.
That means that the rear-driver still delivers a better power to weight ratio even with 543bhp (550ps) instead of 552bhp. But why reduce it at all? Because Lamborghini doesn’t want the rear driver overshadowing the four-wheel drive car.

And does it?

On paper, no. Zero to 62mph takes 3.9sec, two tenths longer because of the inferior traction and it suffers the ignominy of failing to crack 200mph thanks to the power reduction. Oh, the shame!

Forget all that and remember the power-to-weight ratio. Where it counts, on the road, the Balboni is every bit as rapid as the 560, whatever the performance figures and oddly muted exhaust note suggests. Compared with the Murcielago’s V12, the direct-injection V10 is buttery smooth and was perfectly matched in our test car to an old fashioned six-speed manual gearbox. Don’t be intimidated by the open metal gate – the change is slick and the clutch no heavier than a family car’s. You can still pay extra for the e-gear semi-auto if you wish.


How much? £163,245
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 5204cc 40v V10, 543bhp @ 8000rpm, 398lb ft @ 6500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 3.9sec 0-62mph, 199mph, 20mpg, 341g/km CO2
How heavy / made of? 1380kg/aluminium
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4345/1900/1165mm

2010 Cadillac CTS-V

Saturday, April 17, 2010
Super sport-sedans might just be perfect cars for gearheads and speed-freaks who juggle a family, or need a bit more space for friends, work, or whatever. Generally wolves in sheep clothing, BMW's M5, Mercedes-Benz's E-Class AMG, and Audi's RS6, tell little more externally than slightly different fascia and badges. These cars provoke your inner demons while allowing you to maintain a shiny, perfect "hidey-ho, good neighbor" façade. Don't worry, your secret's safe with me.
The German sedans mentioned above were the only worthwhile games in town; that was until 2004, when GM stepped up to the plate with its first contender, the CTS-V. Utilizing the 400-horsepower V8 harnessed under the hood of the top C5-generation Z06 Corvette, the CTS-V checked all of the performance boxes. Brembo brakes, 18x8.5-inch wheels, Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires, track tuned suspension, and it became the first Cadillac in almost 20 years to be equipped with a manual transmission. Despite checking all the right boxes, quality issues plagued the first generation CTS-V, and sales numbers paled in comparison to its German rivalsThank god that wasn't the end of the CTS-V story.
In 2009, Cadillac introduced an all-new CTS-V, and not only are all the right boxes checked, the checks are as large and dark as possible. Borrowing quite a bit from the new supercar eating Corvette ZR1, the CTS-V is poised to be the king of the super sport-sedan segment. Imagine my delight then, when a Radiant Silver 2010 example rolled into our stable.
Remember my "wolf in sheep's clothing" comment? Yea, the CTS-V is more like a wolf wearing a sheep's costume that's 2 sizes too small. The rippling hood bulge, air gobbling front fascia, and burly 19" alloys do little to hide the beast within this CTS. So much so, that the V badges on the doors and trunk almost look redundant. No hiding this from the neighbor kids, they'll either stare in amazement or run home crying wolf when you rumble home. More like "Hidey-ho, good get the &%*# out of my way".

If you thought the freeway was thrilling, exiting can get downright raunchy. Tickle the suspension button into sport mode, and the ride firms up, ready to play at ten-tenths. Gripping the perfect size, seductive suede steering wheel provides you with more feedback than you've ever felt from a GM vehicle as you push through turns. With laser precision in every caress, you feel the front tires as if they were your own hands while the sticky 19" Michelin Pilot Sports effortlessly claw to heed your command. Sport mode results in very flat cornering, absorbing bumps and undulations in the pavement with ease. Never does the car feel unsettled, unsure, or ambiguous. This is truly a supercar, with ample room for 4.While other manufacturers play with acronym-happy, dual-clutch automated manual transmissions, Cadillac chooses instead to refine the tried-and-true conventional torque converter automatic. As with the Camaro, the optional 6-speed automatic in the CTS-V, can be summed in one word: excellent. Somehow, the transmission always knows what gear you want to be in. It does usually take two downshifts to hit the right gear for optimal acceleration, but those shifts are fast and purposeful. It's still not automated manual fast, but fast none-the-less.

Some buyers may find the performance of the CTS-V a bit raw and unrefined for a $68,445 (as-tested) sport-lux sedan. But, for the driving enthusiast who prefers performance over plush, it's hard to find a better alternative. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi have been building their respective sport sedans for years, every iteration a bit more luxurious than the last. The Cadillac stands out for not compromising sport for luxury, at a significant price-advantage to the competition.
That said, the CTS-V might be a tough case for some. To truly love the CTS-V everyday, you need to have a hankering for a true 4-door super sports car with a dash of luxury. At the end of the day, however, the CTS-V might be the most practical, potent, passenger vehicle you can buy. And starting at $60,720, it's a relative steal.

Like being scolded by mom when stealing a cookie from the cookie jar, the V is no passive creature. The engine barks and settles down to a gentle burble while gauges dance, lights flash and the Cadillac logo whizzes around on the extended navigation screen. The start up sequence is theatrical to say the least. With 556 horsepower awaiting the beckon call of my size 13 Puma's, the time to drive is now.Heavy on the throttle, the CTS-V roars with sounds that Zeus sets as his ringtone, while a relentless monsoon of torque makes your vision blur when 60mph passes in 3.9 seconds. I'm not sure it's an internal combustion engine under the hood, or an unstable nuclear reactor. The spec sheet reveals however, a 556-horswpower 6.2 liter V8 based off the herculean 638-horsepower, LS9 V8 found in the Corvette ZR1. Merging on the highway incites lunatic giggles as the spiky-haired guy you just passed in a similarly priced M3 picks his jaw off the floor.
Settling in at cruising speed, the CTS-V quickly shows its colors as an excellent gran tourer. The suspension, featuring magnetic ride control, offers both normal and sport mode, and gliding in normal mode offers a ride that's firm yet supple, erasing any and all memories of grandpa's cherry '77 Eldorado with boat-o-matic suspension. The only gripe that crept up was that at 60 mph, the exhaust note emits a headache-inducing resonance throughout the whole cabin. After 30 minutes of 60 mph traffic, I really wished Zeus' phone could be put on silent. It can be though, if the state law and traffic permits, 70 mph reduces the tone to a pleasant, soft rumble.
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Inside, the theme turns to luxury. Chrome rings around the gauges and vents, optional "midnight sapele wood trim", ebony black plastic, "leather" stitched dash, suede seat inserts and steering wheel, all come together for a busy interior that feels like it's trying too hard. The suede steering wheel is brilliant, like holding hands with your first high school crush, but the ebony black plastic in our tester already had fine scratches all over, and with only 2,900 miles on odo, we can only imagine what the plastic will look like after 40,000 miles.
When equipped with the optional Recaro high performance seats, adjustable thigh and back bolsters assure that a perfect cocoon of performance solitude is but a few adjustments option Cadillac should make standard on the V. Front leg room is ample, and even when adjusted for my 6'4" frame, there was still plenty of room behind the front seat for back seat passengers. Trunk space was adequate, with plenty of room for Sunday Costco runs.Aside from the pimp-my-ride-slick raising and lowering nav screen, the dash was quite confusing. There are far too many buttons, all with the same shape. Even after a week with the car, we were still hunting for simple things like changing the radio station, or moving around the navigation system. The Bluetooth pairing process was even more infuriating. Generally, I can pair my phone without consulting the manual, but with the CTS, the manual was my best friend. When equipped with navigation, as all CTS-V's are, the Bluetooth pairing process is only completed with aural prompts, which would be fine...if it worked. I was able to get my phone paired (I think), but when it came to making a call, the system somehow repeatedly misinterpreted my "Dial" command as "help". After 20 minutes of yelling "DIAL" in as many different tones and inflections I could think of, I just gave up trying to make my call. The Camaro we had last week was much simpler, and cost a third of the price.
The Bose 5.1 10 speaker audio system helped ease my frustration though, as it sounds absolutely stunning. On XM, FM, CD, or AUX, the sound system was fantastic at converting the stereo source to surround. Very few systems can complete this process accurately. Overall, there are certainly positives and negatives with the interior, but it's all merely a trace of memory as soon as you twist the ignition knob.
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The 'grand new Bentley' – CAR spy photos of 2010 Arnage

Friday, April 16, 2010
Bentley Arnage RIP. CAR's scooped the 2010 Bentley Arnage replacement – these world exclusive spy photos reveal Bentley's new limo in production guise. They were smuggled out of the company's Crewe headquarters weeks ahead of the new Arnage's debut expected later in summer 2009.

Today we publish our second instalment of Bentley scoop photos – with the first glimpse inside the new Arnage successor. Click 'Next' below to read today's latest updates on the powertrain and interior of the most important big Bentley for decades.
What's the new Bentley Arnage successor going to be called?
That's still shrouded in mystery, but we hear the Grand badge is mooted. While the name might be uncertain at this stage, our pictures leave little of the look and shape to the imagination. It's being developed under the Project Kimberley codename.At first glance, the car is much more modern than the outgoing Arnage, which is essentially a Rolls-era limo. The new saloon has been developed entirely under the watch of new masters Volkswagen – and takes a technological leap forward accordingly.
New Bentley Arnage (2010) – the design story
The new Arnage is clearly aimed squarely at the Rolls-Royce Phantom end of the market. There's an imposing front end, the visage dominated by a huge mesh grille bisected by a chrome upright and bordered by a pair of lights. Each lamp is ringed by a corona of LEDs and there's a matching mini chicken-mesh grille below.
Bentley's official teaser photo above confirms the snout in high-res, and confirms there will also be a pop-up mascot, missing from our unauthorised photos of the production car.
Note the curvy tension built into the Arnage replacement's bonnet; there's real form, and the swelling peaks and troughs of the bodywork hark back to the 1950s R-type and other classic Bentleys.
Is the new Bentley Arnage a saloon?
Yes, although styling chief Dirk van Braeckel's design team has spirited in the feeling of a long, luxurious coupé. It's not clearly visible on these shots, but the rear door handles will be hidden and the bootline arcs downwards with a decidedly retro flourish.

Mercedes C-class Coupé (2011): the full story

Mercedes is readying a new coupé version of the C-class for launch in 2011. Aimed squarely at the Audi A5 and BMW 3-series Coupé set, the new 2011 C-class coupé will revive the CLK range which many had written off after the arrival of the new E-class Coupé.
In line with the new CL being rebranded S-class Coupé, the new two-door C will be badged C-class Coupé. It's due for launch in March 2011.

So it'll be a mini E-class Coupé?
Pretty much, yes. Our sources claim the two models will look quite different, despite sharing plenty of hardware under the skin. In fact, they're more more closely related than Mercedes would like us to know. How close? Well, why don´t you check out the wheelbase which is an identical 2760mm for the C-class, the C-class Coupé and the E-class Coupé?
Although beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the C Coupé promises to be much prettier than the overstyled two-door E-class. We haven't yet seen the car, but the main image above show an early design sketch for the two-door E-class – giving a flavour of current coupé thinking in Stuttgart. The front and rear ends will be adopted from the C-class saloon/wagon which are to be facelifted early in 2011 anyway. This explains the more sculptured bonnet, the restyled lights and the enlarged nasal air intakes.
Will the 2011 C-class Coupé be a two-pairs-of-pants-and-a-toothbrush weekend-away car?
Far from it, our sources suggest. The boot of the new two-door C-class holds the same 475 litres as the four-door model. And the revised interior happens to be almost identical in space to the C and E coupés.
Inside you'll find major improvements over today´s C-class. There's a repositioned and enlarged sat-nav monitor, an easier to use Comand system and a host of extra-cost driver assistance systems such as lane guidance, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, traffic sign recognition, night vision, automatic parking aids, cornering lights and cruise control with brake actuation.
The 2011 C-class Coupé range in full
Prices will start at around £2000 above the equivalent C-class saloon. Pick from the following five models:
• C180 CGI 1.8litre/156bhp
• C250 CGI 1.8litre/204bhp
• C350 CGI 3.5litre V6/306bhp
• C220 CDI 2.2litre/170bhp
• C250 CDI 2.2litre/204bhp
The proposed C-class Cabriolet is on ice. The attractive soft-top was mothballed to protect the barely roomier but notably more profitable E-class Convertible.

Audi A8 W12 LWB (2010): the first official photos

AudiAudi today announced the new long-wheelbase A8 L. Due to be unveiled at the 2010 Beijing motor show, the stretched Audi A8 will be popular with the chauffeur crowd and the extra 130mm in the wheelbase liberates oodles of space for back-seat loungers, judging by these first official photos.
The new A8 L now tops 5267mm in length and Audi points out that makes it longer and wider than any of its LWB rivals.
The new W12 spec Audi A8
It's excess all areas with the new A8 L – Audi's previewed it with the group's W12 petrol engine. It's now 6.3 litres in capacity, fitted with FSI direct injection and develops 493bhp and 461lb ft. Enough for 155mph and 0-62mph in 4.9sec.
The previous 6.0-litre W12 was behind in every area: 443bhp and 12% thirstier (the new A8 L W12 averages 21mpg). Why does VW persist with this idiosyncratic layout? It says the W12 is more compact than a similar capacity V8, thanks to the four rows of three cylinders with a 15deg bank.
How can I spot the W12 when it muscles past me with its scowling LED face?
The W12 is distinguished by a black-gloss finish to the single-frame, goatee-beard grille, chromed door mirrors and air inlets and new bespoke exhaust trims.
Other A8 toys are present and correct: optional LED headlamps are the world's first all-diode front lights and A8 L can now order rear seats that move in every which way and a full-length console which houses a fold-out table and even a fridge.
And check out the massaging services on offer – 10 air pockets inflate and pummel away the aches and strains of hiring and firing for busy executives, and even the footrest is electrically operated.

Ferrari 599 GTO Makes World Debut

The Ferrari 599 GTO is a 1495 kg (3296 lbs) supercar with a 0-liter V12 engine that produces 661 hp (493 kW / 670 PS) and 457 lb-ft (619 Nm) of torque.The 599 GTO will mark its next appearance at the International Automotive Exhibition in Beijing which takes place April 25 to May Starting price for the 599 GTO will be €319,495 ($426,843 / £285,053).The Berlinetta clocks the 0-100 km/h sprint in at 35 seconds and has a top speed of 208 mph (335 km/h).
Ferrari chief Luca di Montezemolo presided over the first public introduction of the flaghip model.

Deliveries are expected to begin later this year.The limited edition Ferrari 599 GTO was premiered yesterday in a ceremony at the Ducal Palace at the military academy in Modena, Italy.Powerful, yes.We've created a wonderful car, the most powerful in our history, an exclusive car I wanted to give a historical name like GTO, because it deserves it," said di Montezemolo.The 599 GTO will be (appropriately) limited to only 599 units, three of which were on hand here at the model's unveiling.

BMW M5 F10 Renderings are Scarily Convincing

Here is a fine example of what the upcoming BMW M5 F10 could look like. Bimmerpost forum member Alpine325ci painstakingly photoshopped bits and pieces of existing photos taken at the Geneva Motor Show to create these amazingly realistic renders.
The new M5 will feature a downgrading in engine size, with BMW dropping the 5.0 liter V10 in favor of the 4.4 liter bi-turbo V8 already in use in the X5 M and X6 M. But that engine will be tuned to a more powerful rating than both the original V10 and its variant in the two X models. Power on the M5 will be boosted to 578 bhp with the torque rating climbing to 720 Nm (531 lb-ft) - a whopping 40 percent more than the previous M5.

Astoundingly, BMW says the M5 will consume about 30 percent less fuel than its predecessor thanks to the Bavarian brand's EfficientDynamics technologies. A kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) may also be made available in the new M5.
The next M5 is expected to be introduced sometime near the end of this year. Market launch will likely be sometime around the spring of 2011.

Chevy to Offer 500 Examples of 2010 Camaro Indy 500 Pace Car Replica

Thursday, April 15, 2010

For the fourth time in the history of the Camaro, GM will sell a replica of a Camaro Indianapolis 500 Pace Car. The last time Chevy offered a replica of the pace car was in 1993. Fittingly, Chevrolet plans to build a total of 500 units with up to 200 of those to be made available through 187 of the top-selling Camaro dealers based on 2009 retail sales.

"We set out to build a collectible vehicle that will appeal to the die-hard Camaro and Indianapolis 500 fan," said Jim Campbell, U.S. Vice President, Chevrolet Marketing. "We believe we've done just that with the 2010 Chevy Camaro Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Limited Edition."
The limited production replica is based on the Camaro 2SS model with the RS appearance package and a 400HP V8 paired to a six-speed automatic transmission, but adds some extra features unique to the actual pace car to be driven by Robin Roberts, anchor of "Good Morning America," during the this year's Indianapolis 500.
Available exclusively in 'Inferno Orange' with full body white pearl decal rally stripes, the replica comes with 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, an Inferno Orange heritage front grille and engine cover, special floor mats with accent colors and 2010 Indianapolis 500 event logos on the front fenders, the door panels and embroidered on driver and passenger headrests.

According to GM, the manufacturer suggested retail price of the Camaro pace car replica is $41,950 (includes $850 Destination Freight Charge).
Check out the gallery below for the list of dealers that will have allocation for the replica.