Europe

Europe

Infiniti Etherea

Since its launch in 1989, Nissan’s luxury division, Infiniti, has been more of a BMW and Mercedes-Benz alternative rather than a competitor. Typically, Infiniti buyers want a luxury car, but don’t want the costs or stigma that comes with owning its German counterparts. For these reasons, Infiniti has really been more of a background luxury lineup, even when compared to Lexus .

Infiniti feels that now is the time to change and it plans on starting this change right in BMW BMW and Mercedes’s back yard: Europe. According to Renault Renault -Nissan Nissan CEO, Carlos Ghosn, by 2016, Infiniti is expected to sell 100,000 units in the European market, nearly 10 times the cars it sold in 2011. The plan is to build a lineup around the 245-horsepower hot hatchback that Infiniti teased via a concept car dubbed the Etherea in Geneva. This hatchback, which is due out in 2014, is expected to account for at least 50 percent of the 100,000 total sales.

As we said, these are very lofty goals for a car company just hitting a certain market, especially one as crowded as the European one is. Add in the fact that the hatchback segment is especially crowded in Europe and you have one heck of a difficult task to undertake. Given Infiniti continues to produce high-quality cars, it is attainable, but it will require some heavy advertising to overtake other makes in the market.

In the same breath, Ghosn also stated that Infiniti plans to increase global sales to 500,000 units by 2016. That seems slightly more realistic, as it is only an increase of 146,000 total sales. For now we’ll just say that we’re skeptical that Infiniti will actually hit the European sales number. We definitely wish the best to Infiniti, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on this situation.

The thing with people who love cars and have the money to splurge on them is that if they’re not impressed with the stock model, they can go crazy with aftermarket enhancements.

Take this particular Rolls-Royce Ghos t for example. Built by Polish interior specialist Carlex Design, this project called "Ghost Save the Queen" isn’t your typical interior enhancement because as Carlex Design puts it, "we are not afraid of challenges and seek original solutions, which produce stunning interior innovation and unique solutions."

With that in mind, Carlex Design backed it all up with an exterior that has been painted in a stunning Deep Green paint finish. The luxury limousine was also given a number of upgrades, including the use of luxury ostrich and kangaroo leather, the presence of a royal crown embroidered in the seats, plenty of chrome parts, and wool rugs that have a pile length of 2.5 cm.

The embroidered royal crown, in particular, is an ode to the Queen, something that you would’ve probably guessed considering that the name of the program is, after all, "Ghost Save The Queen."

All told, the entire build took two months to complete, and certainly, if a picture did paint a thousand words, it would be foolish to underestimate how far these guys do take the phrase "unique solutions" seriously.

Saab 9-4X

We reported just a few days ago that despite twice being bumped out of the bidding war for Saab, Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile, reentered the bidding with a $552 million bid. Apparently, this was still seen as an unsafe bid and the Chinese firm was again stuck with the highest bid, but no car company to show for it.

This time around, it looks as if Saab has finally found itself a home. Sweden-registered and Hong Kong-based firm, National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB, has been awarded the folded automaker and what’s left of its assets, according to a Swedish newspaper. The winning bid is estimated to be between $208 million and $250 million. That is less than half of the last reported bid by Youngman, which really shows that the Chinese firm was either demanding the parts operation, which the NEVS AB deal does not include, or just not seen as a trusted bidder.

The deal is expected to be finalized and pen is expected to hit the “Sign Here” line in about a week, if the reports are accurate. After that, NEVS AB can take complete ownership of what’s left of Saab, which is little more than an S, a pair of As, and a B. We are not aware of NEVS AB’s plans with Saab, but we can say with a lot of certainty that it will involve alternative fuels (i.e. electric, hydrogen, hybrid, etc.)

We have yet to receive official confirmation on the deal, but this looks to be the real deal, FINALLY. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available on the ongoing Saab saga.

Posted on by Alexander + 2

Ever wonder what it would be like to sit in the wings as the newest, hottest supercar desperately tries to conceal its newest generation? Feel at home with a camera in your hand and money in your pocket? PistonSpy Tours is now offering a few lucky people a chance to do just that as they embark on a trip through some of the most popular testing grounds in the world for the opportunity to catch these cars in action.

For a fee ranging from £700 to £1100, these lucky folks will be able to tour either Germany, Italy/Alps, or Sweden with a guide to take pictures or videos of vehicles that have not been introduced to the market just yet. The tour will last four days and will include pick up/drop off at the airport, fuel used during the trip, hotels/guest houses, breakfast and evening meals, and the vehicle that will be shared during the trip.

At the end of this adventure, guests will be able to take home a gallery of their shots and will also get the chance to sell them to the automotive press to make some extra cash. All in a day’s work during this remarkable working vacation!

This trip is only being offered for a short time and only 1-3 guests will be able to join the guide, so make your reservations quick! Contact pistonspy.mobile@gmail.com for more information.

Source: PistonSpy

Monaco is pretty well known as the land of supercars, as it has arguably the highest concentration of supercars roaming its streets than any other country in the world. With all of these supercars, it makes life a little difficult for law enforcement to catch speeders. Often times, cars are simply flagged down by foot patrol officers, because Monaco officials know that chasing down a high-powered Lamborghini is fruitless.

Another thing about Monaco, which we know from the Grand Prix of Monaco, is that its roads are chock-full of crazy twists and turns, so agility may be even more important than overall speed. So what are the Monaco Police to do when they finally decide it is time for a crackdown on these crazy drivers? Well, buy one of the most lightweight and agile supercars in the world, the KTM X-Bow R by MTM, of course.

This MTM-tuned KTM X-Bow R pumps out a low-for-a-supercar 400 horsepower from its 2.0-liter engine. It makes up for this relative lack of power by being the Calista Flockhart of supercars and weighing only 1,700 lbs. To give you a better idea of how awesome this car is, it only has 4.25 lbs per horsepower, which is drastically better than that Lamborghini Aventador’s 4.96 lbs per horsepower and the Ferrari 599 GTB’s flabby 6 lbs per horsepower.

The only supercar to beat the KTM X-Bow R by MTM in weight-to-power is the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 , which comes in at 4.15 lbs per horsepower. Now that is some impressive company to be in.

If you still don’t believe us that the KTM X-Bow R by MTM is the car to be chasing down supercar speeders in Monaco, have a look at the video of the police testing it after the jump. That should be plenty to convince you that it is one bad-ass supercar killer.

A few weeks ago, we let you know that the Ferrari P4/5 Competizione became the hottest thing to lap the Nürburgring, as it crushed the old Ferrari record around the Ring by over 7 seconds. Well, the Ferrari P4/5 Competizione was again the hottest thing on four wheels on the Ring, but this time in the literal sense. Yup, while in the pits at the Nürburgring, a small amount of fuel hit the red hot engine and… Well, you can fill in the blanks.

Needless to say, the rear end of the Ferrari became quite the fireball, thanks to racing fuel meeting the freshly raced engine. Fortunately, the picture of the fire makes it look a lot worse than it actually was, as the team was able to douse the fire and get the car back onto the track. We guess that all part of the typical pit crew day, huh?

What’s even more impressive is following this fire, the team managed to regroup and end up taking 1st place in the Alternative Energy Class in the 2012 24 hours of Nürburgring, which it entered as a hybrid, and 12th overall. Good job to the team for their racing and fire-fighting abilities!

Arrinera Venocara Concept

Okay, so we wrote a nice review about the Arrinera Venocara supercar hailing from Poland and we make the observation that this car “looks a hell of a lot like a Lamborghini.” Apparently, the Polish media thought the same, as Jacek Balkan outright accused Arrinera of building this new supercar from a Lamborghini kit available through Polish kit car manufacturer Bojar. Later, Arrinera’s CEO Lukasz Tomkiewicz adamantly denied all accusations and even addressed the usage of an Audi A6 C5 air conditioning panel and instrument cluster.

We can admit that the resemblance between the Lambo and the Arrinera Venocara is striking, but the automotive world is chock-full of copycats and information sharing, so it may just be happenstance. We are not prepared to pass judgment until we put all three of the vehicles in question, the Lamborghini Reventon , the Bojar El Toro Kit, and the Arrinera Venocara on trial in TopSpeed court.

We will closely examine all of the evidence on each car and come to our final ruling as to whether or not this truly is a slightly modified kit car to help boost the blossoming company’s stock, or simply a case of copycatting gone too far.

Click past the jump to view the entire TopSpeed trial…

Following in the trail blazed by the likes of the Savage Rivale GTS and the Spyker C12 Zagato comes another super car bearing the proud colors of the Oranje.

This new piece of four-wheeled exoticness goes by the name of Vencer Sarthe, a hand-built model by the fine folks of Vencer, who apparently want to break into the growing super car market of the European country.

Despite looking a little bland for a super car - the rear end looks like a boring mess of blah - the Sarthe boasts of the finest materials that are "supercar worthy." For example, the entire body is made out of carbon fiber - always a good thing - while also carrying a space frame chassis that’s been built of steel and chrome-moly tubing. It rides on a new set of either 19" or 20 alloy wheels. Again, that’s cool to know.

More than that, the Sarthe’s calling card - as with any other exotic for that matter - is its power train. Packing a mid-mounted V8 engine, the Dutch super car is capable of producing 503 horsepower and 480 lb/ft of torque while mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Those figures translate to a 0-62 mph time of just 3.8 seconds with an impressive top speed of 202 mph.

As with most niche super car models, don’t expect a mass produced Sarthe anytime soon. Vencer has already said that production will be very limited and we’re not about to start questioning that decision.

After all, for a company that’s still looking to break into an extremely competitive industry, testing out the waters sounds like a pretty good idea.

As always, the Grand Prix of Monaco provided a fairly spectacular showing, likely one of the few in this year’s F1 series. As most would expect, Circuit de Monaco lap-time record holder and five-time winner, Michael Schumacher took the pole position, but officials forced him back five grid positions after he caused a collision during qualifying. With the technical nature of Monaco, that pole position is very important and Schumacher’s penalty was an ominous sign that this would not be a good race, as he retired due to fuel issues 63 laps in.

Schumacher’s penalty propelled Red Bull’s Mark Webber into the pole position. Webber held onto that pole position, despite a lead change during a pit stop, and took home the checkered flag on a rain-coated Circuit de Monaco. As we said in our preview of the 2012 Grand Prix of Monaco , this race had some serious overall points influence, as the leaders were only separated by a few points each.

This victory for Webber places propels him up to a second place tie with Sebastian Vettel at 73 points and puts Fernando Alonso, who finished third, in the points lead at 76. An impressive run by Nico Rosberg placed him in second, just behind Webber, proving that his wide margin of victory in China was not just a one-time deal. This superb finish by Rosberg jumps him up two slots to fifth place overall.

From the looks of it, this season is shaping up to be a rather close points race with a few new faces near the top. Unfortunately, the leader board, for the most part, looks identical to the 2011 and 2010 seasons. The lack of parody in F1 has really been its Achilles heel in recent history. An overall points victory by Nico Rosberg would certainly be a push in the right direction for F1, so we’ll keep a close eye on his performance.

Click past the jump to see the complete placement board for the 2012 Grand Prix of Monaco and the overall points standings.

One feature that automakers have teased us with and even installed on concept cars is an LED screen and camera in the place of the old-style rearview mirror. With all of the cameras placed all around cars these days, like Subaru Subaru ’s EyeSight system and the various backup cameras, we are surprised this hasn’t become a reality. The assumed reasons for rearview screens not taking the place of rearview mirrors are NHTSA and DOT regulations.

Honestly, we don’t see why the NHTSA and DOT would think a hunk of glass glued to the windshield is safer than a crisp LED image from an HD camera. Then again those two government offices – as with all government offices – make strange regulations. Apparently an LED screen and camera are plenty for Audi’s future Le Mans cars, as the automaker has just announced, via a press release, that its closed LMP prototype will run with an AMOLED screen in place of the mirror and a rear-mounted camera feeding the images to the screen.

The main reasoning behind this is that the LMP prototype’s cabin is fully closed, with exception of the front windshield, so a rearview mirror would display nothing but the rear wall of the cabin. So, if this technology is good enough for racecars, why are we not seeing it installed in street cars yet? Well, we just very well might, as you likely do not remember, but the rearview mirror was not used on motor cars until Ray Harroun’s Marmon “Wasp” used one in the first Indianapolis 500, in 1911. It later became standard per NHTSA regulations for all cars to come with this item, thanks to its overwhelming success in racing.

Odds are that if this system is successful in racing that the NHTSA will adopt it, especially given the fact that rearview cameras are soon to become mandatory on all vehicle.

Click past the jump to read the full press release.


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