Monday, 29 May 2017

APRC 2017: Gaurav Gill Finishes Second Overall At National Capital Rally

2017 APRC National Capital Rally Results

The second round of the 2017 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship held in Australia promised to be an exciting event. An all-new addition to the season, the National Capital Rally promised the unexpected as none of the drivers and teams had any experience racing here.

Ole Christian Veiby, driving a Skoda Fabia R5 for Team MRF, was looking forward to gaining the lead in the championship after losing it with just three stages to go in the previous Rally Whangarei in New Zealand. Meanwhile, Indian Rally Legend Gaurav Gill, also driving a Skoda Fabia R5 for Team MRF, was looking forward to keeping his lead intact in the championship.

2017 APRC National Capital Rally Results

Run over a total race distance of 230km, the 2017 National Capital Rally consists of 13 special stages.

It was not a good start for Mike Young, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, when he crashed out of the rally even before it officially started. A brake failure during a test session resulted in the car rolling over twice, which meant it could not be repaired before the start of the rally.

2017 APRC National Capital Rally Results

By the end of day one, Veiby was already leading the rally by 11 seconds from Gaurav, who in turn was 14 seconds ahead of Jari Ketomaa (Team MPart/Mitsubishi Mirage AP4). Japanese driver Atsushi Masumura was knocked out of the rally when he and co-driver Akiko Nakagawa suffered a puncture and a broken tyre jack.

At the end of the rally, it was Veiby who came out on top, with a slim 0.49-second lead over Gaurav. Team MRF locked out the top two positions in the rally, giving them a clear advantage in the APR Championship.

2017 APRC National Capital Rally Results

"I am happy with the way I drove, this has been our first wet rally in the R5. I was really pushing towards the last stages but eventually had to settle for second. The performance of the car and tyres have been very good." Gaurav Gill said.

In the overall APRC 2017 standings, Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby leads with 70 points, followed by Gaurav Gill with 68 points and Robert Blomberg with 42 points.




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Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Select Plus Launched At Rs 28.9 Lakh

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Select Plus

In the wake of steaming competition in the Rs 20-30 lakh SUV bracket,. The Select Plus is a souped-up version of the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport with a few extra features.

The Select Plus variant is priced at Rs 28.9 lakh for the automatic and Rs 29.3 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) for the manual transmission. That's a jump of Rs 1.2 lakh over the regular trims.

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Select Plus

This special edition brings along a two-tone paint job, which is available in black, white silver and red shades. Improving cosmetic elements of the Select Plus are features like chrome door handles, illuminated scuff plates, daytime running lights, flared wheel arch claddings, black radiator grille and a front crash guard. Other features of the Pajero Sport Select Plus include a cooler for chilling cold drinks, HID headlamps, DVD player for rear seat entertainment and cruise control.

Standard features of the Pajero Sport include dual-zone climate control with a separate compressor unit for rear seat occupants, touchscreen infotainment system with navigation and reversing camera.

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Select Plus

Rest of the elements of the Pajero Sport remain unchanged, and it continues to carry the 2.5-litre turbocharged diesel engine, which is available with both a 5-speed automatic and a 5-speed manual transmission. The automatic is available with front-wheel drive only while the manual is exclusively available with four-wheel drive. Power output stands at 178PS at 4000rpm regardless of what transmission you choose. The torque rating of the automatic variant stands at 350Nm between 1800-3500rpm. Same for the manual transmission with four-wheel drive model is 400Nm from 2000rpm to 2500rpm.

The Pajero Sport Select Plus measures 4695mm long, 1815mm wide and 1840mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2800mm. Its length is shy of the, but the wheelbase sits bang in the middle of the two with 50mm of breathing room on either side. But, just like the other two, it has enough space for seven passengers.




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The Most Expensive New Car In The World Looks Awkward

Rolls-Royce Sweptail

Imagine going to a tailor who has been stitching bespoke suits for over a century. He takes three years to make your suit and it comes out looking a little awkward. But, it also turns out to be reported as one of the most expensive suits ever made. This "haute couture" story is of the one they call Sweptail.

Rolls-Royce Sweptail

On demand of a specific customer, (a gentleman they describe as "A connoisseur and collector of distinctive, one-off items including super-yachts and private aircraft") RR has built a modern 'coach-built' Rolls-Royce which is based on the DNA. The "gentleman" came to RR back in 2013 and requested them to make a car inspired from the past RR coach icons of the 1920s and 1930s. As per the Telegraph, this car costs around andpound;10 million, or $12.8 million. This translates roughly into andndash; and we hope you're sitting down for this - Rs 82.6 crore in Indian currency. Mind you though, RR has not revealed an official figure, or even hinted to an estimate.

Rolls-Royce Sweptail

So a bloke just bought a car worth Rs 82.6 crore. Naturally, we expect it to be loaded with art from the Louvre and technology from the Martians. But instead, what you get is a merger of the modern day Phantom's front with the Sweptail design of the early 1990s. Now, both of these elements are fantastic to look at individually, but the final product might not please all. Don't get me wrong, the panoramic glass room and the muscular front with the flowing back, the wooden interiors, the leather upholstery all look spectacular, but, like we said, only as individual entities.

Rolls-Royce Sweptail

The one-off Rolls-Royce Sweptail is a two-seater coupe. It gets the iconic Rolls-Royce Pantheon grille but this one is crafted out of a single aluminium block andndash; and by hand, because why not? andndash; until it got a mirror finish and then given a brushed aluminium look. This grille is the largest unit fitted to any modern era Rolls. The Sweptail even has a body under-wrap which has no visible boundary to the surface. This was done to mimic the hull of a yacht. The Sweptail also has its registration number '08' mounted on it with the two individual digits being milled from ingots of aluminium and hand-polished to go with the poise of the car.

Rolls-Royce Sweptail

One of the key elements of the car's design remains the panoramic glass roof andndash; the 'largest and most complex' ever fitted on a car. The frame of this glass is made out of polished aluminium rails which extend to the end of the tail of the car.

Rolls-Royce Sweptail

Inside, you will find polished Macassar Ebony and open-pore Paldao, which are different types of expensive woods. And to go with this layout the car has light Moccasin and Dark Spice leathers on the seats, armrests and dashboard top. Since the Sweptail is a two-seater, the rear area gets... you guessed it, wood, and it houses a hat shelf. The car also gets a set of laptop briefcase in the doors and, obviously, a champagne holder with two crystal champagne flutes.

So there you have it, reportedly the world's most expensive new car now resting safely in the garage of its owner. And while he takes it out on a Sunday for a short drive enjoying his champagne, you have a look at the video below and decide whether it makes you feel happy or sad.





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Isuzu MU-X: First Drive Review

Isuwho?


Isuzu MU-X driving on the road

By now you would have heard about this Japanese manufacturer which recently launched the now replaces the discontinued MU-7 SUV that was launched early in 2013. Isuzu will be hoping the MU-X will continue in the footsteps of the popular V-Cross and bring in the sales numbers that its improved dealership network can handle. They are known for their reliable and frugal engines, and with them having just launched the MU-X at a very attractive price of 23.99 lakh (2x4) and 25.99 lakh (4x4), we were curious to see how big a splash it could make in the segment.

Looks

Isuzu MU-X front three quarter

There are some SUVs that make an impression with bold, over the top styling and then there are those that prefer to take big strides quietly. The MU-X prefers the second approach, with some very clean body lines, and even though there is a healthy dollop of chrome in the recipe, it has a certain understated charm to it. A fair share of that chrome is in the front grille and the face that carries forward the looks of the V-Cross fascia, with some subtle differences. The Isuzu badge is now set further back between the first two slats of the grill and that, with the darker background, makes the logo more visible. The two-tone bumper (body colour and black plastic) houses a set of fog lights and the daytime running LEDs as well.

Isuzu MU-X side on

The side profile is a clean look with a straight shoulder line connecting the two slightly flared wheel arches, and from this angle it shows its relationship to the Chevrolet Trailblazer. The 17-inch alloys are quite attractive and come shod with Bridgestone Dueler H/T tyres (Highway Terrain) that hint at the more road-focused intentions of this SUV.

Interiors

Isuzu MU-X Interiors


The all-black dash of the MU-X contrasts rather nicely with the light cream seats and headliner. It's not love at first sight though, and that's mostly down to the fact that almost everything you see is plastic. That said, the plastic is all textured and doesn't feel too bad in use. Climb into the driver's seat and you're greeted with a nice leather-wrapped steering wheel and leather armrests on both sides and you feel your initial impression start to improve. The seats are roomy and comfortable and the driver's side is electronically adjustable for reach, incline and height.

Isuzu MU-X Second row seating

The second row has ample legroom for full-sized adults and though they are only adjustable for recline, I don't see this being something passengers will complain about. The third row, however, will only fit small adults for short journeys with a low-ish seat height and very little legroom. Passengers in the third row will at least remain cool in the heat with their own dedicated rear ac vents in addition to two vents for the second row. The climate-controlled air con functions beautifully too, cooling down the cabin in all three rows fairly quickly on the very hot day of our drive.

Isuzu MU-X infotainment screen

The 7-inch touch screen infotainment system is a bit of a let-down, with poor sound and a slightly complicated user interface. Isuzu has thrown in a 10-inch dropdown video screen for the second and third rows and this brings some 'wow' factor to the experience, for passengers at least.

Isuzu MU-X glove box storage

There are some really practical touches to the design and ergonomics. It is packed with convenient storage spaces all round and the way the rear seats fold down to allow access to the third row and even the ease at which you can drop or fold up the third row shows that it is a well thought-out, practical SUV. Unfortunately, it's no match for the likes of the Fortuner and Endeavour in the luxury department and this is where we think that Isuzu have made a mistake. Internationally, there is a new, facelifted MU-X (with improved interiors) on sale and this could have been a better bet considering that the major players in the segment have recently moved the bar up a few notches.

Engine and drivetrain

Isuzu MU-X engine

Both the 4x2 and four wheel-driven MU-X get the same 3-litre, four cylinder, turbodiesel mated to an automatic transmission. The engine puts out 177PS and 380Nm of torque and has sufficient grunt for most situations on the road, letting you make smooth progress. The diesel burner drives forward in a linear manner, with a variable geometry turbo helping smooth out the power delivery. But while smooth and powerful, both in town and on the highway, there is a lot of engine noise that creeps into the cabin as revs increase, but more on that later.

Isuzu MU-X rear three quarters

The way the gearbox behaves took some getting used to for me. The thing I found a little strange was, when you lift off the accelerator at speeds of up to around 60kmph, the transmission seems to disengage and the engine, now unloaded, drops to idle (800rpm). There is no engine braking at all and it feels like you're coasting along in neutral. The transmission has been designed like this to boost the fuel efficiency I believe, but it also means that you can't lift off to slow down in traffic; you have to move from throttle pedal to brake to slow down. Or you could shift into sequential mode and it will then hold the gear you select. It's not something to be worried about and it does help drive efficiency up to a claimed 13.8kmpl. That's quite impressive for a three-litre engine and a near-three-tonne SUV. There is an intelligent adaptive grade logic control that cuts in on ascents and descents, holding gears on the way up and providing engine braking while coming down slopes.

Isuzu MU-X Action

The four wheel drive system is a switch-on-the-fly one between 4x2 and 4H (up to 100kmph if needed) while shifting to 4L needs you to be in Park before you can select the low ratio mode. Look out for a complete road test soon with more off-road running to really comment on how the 380Nm of torque pushes the two and three quarter-tonne SUV around when the going gets mucky.

Ride and handling

Isuzu MU-X Action

For a ladder frame chassis the MU-X is a fairly composed beast. There is a fair deal of body roll when taking corners but there is a healthy bit of understeer built into the chassis too. So it prefers to drift wide (the safer alternative) rather than want to come around on you when pushed over the limit. Over small and big bumps the suspension is well composed, absorbing the impacts with not much pogoing after. The suspension is also very quiet and there is no crashing coming from the wheel wells even on really large bumps or speed breakers. The cabin is also super quiet when on the move and the engine revs are low, but as soon as revs cross 1800rpm which is where the engine starts producing its peak torque, the cabin is filled with the drone from the engine.

Isuzu MU-X Action

The steering is a little vague at the centre point but manoeuvring in traffic is easy with the light weighted wheel. As speeds go up on the highway the steering weighs up well though the vague feeling lingers on at the central position.

Verdict

Isuzu MU-X

Isuzu has proved that it can make a reliable off-roader with the V-Cross, which has been lauded for its reliability and durability in the markets it runs in. More proof came early this year as a nearly stock V-Cross finished third in the 2017 Desert Storm - a rally raid famous for being a gruelling test on machinery. So there is no reason to believe that the MU-X won't bring this reliability to the table. It's a very practical package too, with well thought out design and feel to the bits inside. The Fortuner and the Endeavour may have moved the goalposts quite far away for the competition but the MU-X does undercut the big players in the segment by nearly 3 lakh rupees at their starting prices and a whole lot more for the automatic versions, gaining points for value for money. But we feel that the facelifted (new interiors and 6-speed transmission) MU-X on sale in other markets may have been better suited to take the fight to the competition.

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Camless Engines - The Next Big Thing?

Camless Engine Technology

Internal combustion engines of today are more advanced than ever before, but there are some components that have been difficult to improve because of both engineering challenges and costs - one such important component is the camshaft.

In very (very) simple terms, the camshaft controls the air and fuel mixture that enters and exits a cylinder. In the modern age of the car, it is one of the few components which is more or less fully mechanical, unlike other parts which are increasingly being controlled digitally. Why is a camshaft so indispensable even today? Mostly because there have been few viable alternatives for it.

Until now.

Camless Engine Technology

The next big innovation for internal combustion engines in cars will be removing the camshaft altogether The latest and most promising of 'camless' designs has been showcased in the Qoros 3 GT development car.

The Qoros 3 GT, a cross-sedan from Chinese manufacturer Qoros usually features a 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol motor developing 156PS/230Nm. The same car powered by a 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder, turbocharged 'QamFree' camless piston engine develops 233PS of maximum power (49 per cent increase), 320Nm of torque (39 per cent increase).

Camless Engine Technology

Developed by Freevalve, a subsidiary of Swedish sportscar manufacturer Koenigsegg (builders of cars such as the Agera, One:1, Regera etc.), this engine is also claimed to be 15 per cent more efficient, reduce emissions by 50 per cent, is 20kg lighter and can be cheaper to manufacture on a large scale. Lesser mechanical parts also mean lower losses because of friction. And hence, apparently engine maintenance is also going to be simpler.

What does a camless engine use instead of a camshaft? Each individual valve is controlled by an actuator, powered either electromagnetically, hydraulically or pneumatically. This allows the valves to be operated optimally with ease - allowing for the best air/fuel mixture depending on the demand. Camless systems also allow cylinders to be activated/de-activated at will - a four-cylinder engine can easily act like a two cylinder motor at low RPMs for better low-speed torque or shut down up to three cylinders for the best fuel-efficiency at high-speed coasting.

Camless Engine Technology

What is stopping every car manufacturer in the world from adapting this technology? For one, the system is still undergoing real-world trials. Second, the technology will be expensive to implement at first because of it being all-new. Third, all companies who want to adapt this technology will have to pay royalties to companies like Freevalve - an investment which very few will be ready to undertake.

Camless piston engines may be quite a while away from mass implementation, but the fact that such a technology is being developed should be good news for purists - the roar of the internal combustion engine is not going away anytime soon.




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BMW Announces Le Mans Comeback With M8 GTE

BMW M8

Soon after showcasing hotness-on-wheels, the has shown the 8 Series' curves and creases inside-out, but the M8 is still under wraps. Literally. That tells us that even though there will be design similarities between the two siblings, the M8 could look even hotter than the regular coupe.

Engine options are still top secret, but the car is going to pack some serious firepower under its belly. Based on the engine and exhaust notes, it looks like the car will get a thoroughly reworked 4.4-litre twin turbo V8 for better power-to-weight ratio instead of the V12, which could power the 8 Series coupe. BMW has also announced that a race-spec variant of the M8, called the M8 GTE would mark the German automaker's return to the granddaddy of all endurance races, the 24-hours of Le Mans.

BMW M8

BMW is accelerating the engineering efforts so that the M8 GTE could test the waters and its endurance with the 24 Daytona Hours. The race takes place on 27-28 Jan 2018 at the Daytona Speedway, Florida, USA. With the car primed for a long run, the BMW M8 GTE will return to the 2018 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans held in France.

Launching a car with a trophy on the Le Mans track boosts its credibility and desirability ratings among the brand's prospective buyers. Ford followed a similar schedule and tasted success with two podium finishes at the Le Mans. If it weren't for the Ferrari 488 taking the runners-up spot, the podium would've been just red, white and blue. A debut like that has put the mass market carmaker on the same list as its long-time Italian adversary, Ferrari.

BMW M8

BMW is hoping to write a similar success story for the M8 by winning the 2018 Le Mans with the M8 GTE.




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Sunday, 28 May 2017

Fourth victory for the Audi R8 LMS in the Nürburgring 24 Hours


Audi Sport Team Land wins the biggest motor race in the world for the first time Audi Sport Team WRT completes the podium success for Audi Sport customer racing with third place Class success for the LMS Engineering customer team Fourth victory in five calendar years: After 2012, 2014 and 2015, the overall victory in [...] More »


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Nurburging 24 Hours – Land Motorsport snatches victory from the jaws of defeat


Endurance racing isn’t always nail-biting in the latter hours of the race, but this year’s Nurburgring 24 Hours certainly was. It began cleanly for all of the Audi R8s entered in the event, but especially for the #29 Land Motorsport/Montaplast car. The Audi Sport Team Land drivers Christopher Mies, Connor De Phillippi, Kelvin van der Linde, [...] More »


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