Wednesday, 29 August 2012

This is the 'Captain America' V16 Coupe

Schmidt Hydra V16 Coupe

Daniel Simon is the designer the car industry couldn't constrain. Formerly at VW, with work at Bugatti also under his belt, the guy's imagination was simply too vast to be stuck doing door handles or dashboards. Galactically vast, you could say, if you've ever checked out the brilliant work on his Cosmic Motors website, which posits an automotive future full of radical visual remixes of Porsche 917s, Can-Am McLarens and more. With girls.

When Hollywood came calling, Simon put his stunning visual imagination to work on the vehicles in Tron: Legacy . Simon has just re-rendered one of those - the almost psychedelically cool Schmidt Hydra V16 Coupe - in a beautiful HD quality short film, which you can watch here.

"Joe Johnston, who directed Captain America, is a huge car fanatic himself," Simon tells us on the phone from his Los Angeles office, "but I was worried that he thought that my work was maybe too futuristic or stylised. But he hired me. The film is set in 1942 and the main villain, Schmidt, has this fanatical vision for the future. So my brief was to dream up something that would have seemed wildly futuristic, but in 1942..."

The result is an awesome steam-punk mash-up of Auto Union Type C and Avus stream-liner, Mercedes 540K, pre-war Bentleys, and the half-track Mercedes G4 staff car favoured by Hitler and his goons in the Wehrmacht.

"We started off looking at the Excalibur [awful ersatz '70s US 540K replica]," Simon says, "but there was just no evil there. The car had to be bigger, and more menacing. So I scaled up one of our designs, and found myself in the parking lot measuring truck wheels and tyres. Which was when I realised this thing was definitely going to be truck-based."
With its 10 wheels and 7.62m length, the Hydra Coupe almost steals the film, though the real thing - which was built on a truck chassis - had a dragster engine but no suspension. As ever with Simon's work, the surfacing is astoundingly real, and the quality of the film allows you to luxuriate in the detail in the car's submarine-inspired interior. "I wanted to show how much love and passion goes into movie production design," Simon says. "You're usually too busy to notice it because you'll be immersed in the story."

It's also a teaser for Simon's next project, due to be unveiled in May 2013. ‘It's my own futuristic automotive franchise,' he says mysteriously. ‘There'll be a book first, and it features all my usual obsessions - speed, racing, heroism...' This interview has taken by BBCtopgear.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

New Toyota Camry

New Toyota Camry :First Drive

Toyota is ready with a refreshed Camry, scheduled for an August 24th launch. We had a first drive of the car and it does come across as a younger model with the way it drives. The older car was every bit a proper limo but Toyota has gone for a bit of more unconventional approach when it comes to the way it drives. Powered by a new 2.5-litre engine mated to a six-speed automatic, the Camry now feels more buzzy without letting go if its pliant ride.
The most significant of those changes is in the ride quality. The suspension has been stiffened mildly and this has firmed up the ride quality sufficiently to reduce body roll. Travelling over bumps and potholes you barely feel a thing. At the same time it isn't as hard as what you sometimes experience in European brands.
The slight reduction of body roll results in better stability, so cornering has improved. I also presume high speed stability should be more composed though we did not get the opportunity to drive this car over any long distances on a highway.

On-road behaviour is still stately. Throw it into a corner and it holds its line well. Ditto, when it comes to a sudden stop. Although bigger and more refined, the new engine doesn’t necessarily make this a faster car. But it is ultra smooth and has a good sound to it when you floor it.

The steering is light but responsive and you don’t have vague moments behind it. It’s the right size too. The genuine leather grip helps to make you feel in control. However, a whopping 87 per cent of Camry sold in India are chauffeur-driven. So not surprisingly, the new car has more in terms of rear headroom and distance to front passenger although exterior dimensions don’t change.

Plus the fit and finish is impeccable. There is nice-touch button to push the front seat forward while seated behind. One wonders though why they haven’t given audio controls in the rear armrest?

Toyota had been silent on its flagship model for quite fresh and attractive to look at. Build quality remains superlative. The equipment list isn’t great but it’s a much better drive now, which kind of forces us to respect it more.

The engine and transmission combination is the other big change that works positively for the Camry. The 2.4-litre engine used previously has been replaced with a 2.5-litre petrol unit belonging to the 2AR-FE family of engines. This engine displaces 2494cc, features dual overhead camshafts and dual VVT-i as opposed to the older 2AZ-FE which had a solo VVT-i.
Power has been hiked to 181PS and torque is a significantly better 233Nm. This new engine offers better mileage, claimed improvements are to the tune of some 11 per cent. In our previous tests the Camry automatic returned 12.1kmpl and presently ARAI claimed figures stand at around 12.5kmpl, though we are yet to ascertain that figure.
One of its strongest characteristics is its refinement, NVH levels touch a new low and we don't mean that in a derogatory manner. So what you get is an extremely quiet cabin that is only disturbed by the engine once the rev needle stretches itself beyond 5800rpm reaching up to its 6200rpm redline.
Speaking of automatic, the new Camry will be offered with a 6-speed automatic transmission alone though the previous generation car had a manual and automatic to choose between. This new transmission is aimed at providing better fuel efficiency rather than performance. So while the Camry does accelerate quickly to triple digit figures, we did feel that a faster shifting transmission could have worked better in this car.

On the design bit several changes to the exteriors and interiors give it enough of freshness to invigorate its sales in this segment. Despite the Camry sales figures having tanked in the last several months, we do feel it still has some amount of life in it.
It stares at stiff competition from the VW group cars, the Superb and the Passat both of which have a diesel engine option which the Camry does not. It's a big disadvantage but Toyota are banking on the fact that the Camry is one of the most reliable cars in the world.

The biggest advantage that Toyota will enjoy is that they will assemble the Camry in India now on. That means prices will reduce substantially making it more affordable and therefore able to compete against the Superb and Passat. 
The Specs
LxWxH: 4825x1825x1480mm
Ground Clearance: 160mm
Fuel tank: 70 litres
Engine: 2494cc, 179bhp, 233nm
Tyres: 215/60 R16 Tubeless (Yokohama)
Gearbox: 6A with Sequential Shift

Price: Rs 28 lakh (on-road estimated)

Sunday, 5 August 2012

New BMW sixth-generation 3 Series

BMW has launched its sixth-generation 3 Series in India. And if that wasn’t great enough news, here’s some more. The German carmaker has roped in Sachin Tendulkar as the brand ambassador for the BMW cars in India. Not that the 3 Series or any other Beemer needed some marketing push, but getting the master blaster associated with a car brand does attract a lot of attention.

Coming back to the new BMW 3 Series,
The new BMW face, with elongated headlights reaching along as far as the BMW kidney grille, emphasizes the new BMW 3 Series’ sense of width and strengthens its athletic overall profile. The sixth generation of the 3 Series has grown moderately in size compared to its predecessor, with its wide track (front + 37 mm/1.46 in., rear + 47 mm/1.85 in.) particularly prominent, and the car’s length (+ 93 mm/3.66 in.) and wheelbase (+ 50 mm/1.96 in.) also accentuates its sporting allure. Inside the new BMW 3 Series Sedan, the rear passengers will appreciate the noticeable increase in space made possible by the larger dimensions. And the BMW 3 Series range is now also available in a trio of trim and equipment variants – the Sport Line, Luxury Line and Modern Line. Each presents its own individual take on the character of the sports sedan, with exclusive, high-quality material combinations and unbeatable build quality underlining the premium ambience of the new range.

Drive and chassis technology have always been key areas of expertise for the brand, and agility and driving dynamics remain outstanding attributes of the new BMW 3 Series . The car will be offered in four trims a base model (only available in diesel), sport line, luxury line and luxury plus. There will be two engines on offer, a 245bhp 2.0-litre petrol and 184bhp 2.0-litre diesel.

The car is equipped with a host of techno-wizardry like the heads up display, 8.8-inch multi media screen and an integrated navigation system. The new 3 Series is the first model to feature BMW’s new design language. If you want to choose performance then the 328i is the car to get. It does a 0-100kph in just 6.1 seconds and an electronically restricted top speed of 250kph. The diesel is no sloth either, what it lacks in power the 320d makes up in torque, 380Nm to be precise. The 0-100kph is little more than a second slower at 7.6 seconds and a top speed is restricted to 235kph.
The interplay of surfaces and lines fills the interior with life.
The interior of the new BMW 3 Series Sedan is straight out of the BMW design handbook. The driver-focused cockpit wraps around the driver and puts all the important controls within easy reach. The cockpit is angled towards the driver by seven degrees. The ingenious layout of the front cabin incorporates the driver-focused cockpit as part of its natural design – i.e. without excluding the front passenger. The surfaces and lines flow over the instrument panel towards the front passenger side of the cabin, where they form a smooth, protective border. In the driver’s area all the lines converge on a single point behind the steering wheel and guide the eye towards the road.