Germany

Germany

Let’s face the facts, as automotive reporters, we love to get our grimy hands on the steering wheel of as many cars as possible and see what they can do. The reality of the situation is that some car manufacturers simply don’t let us. They will, however, allow us to do a “ride story” which puts us in the passenger seat while a professional driver from their company shows you what the car can do. Often times, this driver knows the car like the back of his hand and knows precisely how to make it look great.

For that reason, ride alongs often suck and we usually just give it an “Eh, no thanks.” Well, even the likes of Chris Harris sometimes get the “ride story” treatment, but for good reason. This time around, the ride-along opportunity comes in the passenger seat of the yet-to-be-released Porsche 918 Spyder – a car that none of us would decline a ride in. To boot, this ride along is set to take place in the Nürburgring, where the 918 Spyder completed an impressive 7:14 lap time . That’s one ride along that even Chris Harris can’t decline.

The video is extremely telling, as Harris gets the chance to grille one of the folks closely involved in the 918’s production and gets some really good information on its drivetrain, frame, and, most importantly, its awesome engine. We also get a good listen of how the 918 Spyder sounds from the inside, which is just as impressive as the information Harris drags out of the Porsche rep.

By far the most impressive sound from inside the car is when the driver switches this Porsche from “Silent Mode” to “Full-Race” mode. The sound of that flat-plane crank pumping the titanium connecting rods at the push of a button is enough to make any auto buff’s day.

Have a look and listen, it is well worth the time spent!

The last time we saw a G-Powered BMW it was the M5 Hurricane RR , which ended up being the world’s fastest LPG-powered vehicle. Well, G-Power is back for a little bit more, but this time in a much smaller package: the 1M.

If the 1M and its 335-horsepower turbocharged 6-cylinder engine just isn’t enough for you, the BMW 1M G1 V8 Hurricane RS by G-Power just might be the ticket. G-Power took special care of this 1M coupe and brought it to a point that just about any auto enthusiast could be both impressed and scared to death of it at the same time.

What’s awesome, though, is the amount of careful planning that BMW put into the 1M straight from the factory had a direct relationship with the amount of power G-Power was able to crank out. BMW fitted the 1M with the front and rear axles of its M3 counterpart, giving it the clean and stout base that the 1M needs to handle more intense power output.

So, did G-Power earn another gold star with its latest BMW modification or did it fall a little short of the precedent it set with the M5 Hurricane RR?

Updated 11/02/2012: The guys over G-Power took their latest G1 V8 Hurriance RS out for a test drive and the result was impressive: the car was able to hit a top speed of 314 km/h (195 mph). Enjoy the video!

Click past the jump to find out.

We are all waiting with baited breath for the release of the Porsche 918 Spyder and every little bit of information we get is quickly gobbled up and processed. However, we had yet to hear any real track numbers for this awesome hybrid machine. Sure ,we know that it will boast an 795-horsepower drivetrain that uses a 4.6-liter V-8 gasoline engine and a pair of electric motors and will hit 60 mph in just about 3 seconds.

Still, that just is not enough information for us, but we just got our first taste of real life track information on the 918 Spyder and it’s all good. It recently completed the Nürburgring Nordschleife lap and pulled in a time of 7:14. Depending on the fractional seconds, this will place the 918 Spyder as the fifth, sixth, or seventh fastest car to ever take on the Nordschleife lap.

In addition, this puts it a full 18 seconds faster than the touted Carrera GT that it replaced. One thing to keep in mind is that the 918 that tested on the ‘Ring and got the fastest time was equipped with what Porsche calls the “Weissach package.” According to what we hear, this package includes upgraded brakes, a 6-point harness, air-conditioning delete, radio delete, and other weight-saving measures, so don’t go thinking that every 918 Spyder under the sun will lap the bankrupt , yet safe, Nürburgring.

Now with our whistles wet with fresh 918 details, we can rest easy for the day knowing that the 918 at least performs on the track as we have always hoped and expected.

Could Volkswagen AG's Next Victim be Lotus?

There has been much speculation in the automotive world about VW looking into buying Proton from DRB-Hicom , and later came the announcement that VW’s labor group would not support additional acquisitions. It looks like - at least the smoke and mirrors make it look like - VW is done buying any more projects for the foreseeable future.

This all comes thanks to a report from Bloomberg, through Handelsblatt, that VW’s CEO, Marin Winterkorn, has said “We have enough to do at the moment in taking our twelve brands to where we want to be” in response to the company possibly buying Proton. He also said “We need to grow in Southeast Asia,” then followed that up with “but that does not mean that we will buy Malaysia’s Proton, like some are speculating.”

In the world of automobile acquisitions, you can always take a CEO’s words with a grain of salt, as they are saying what is true at any given second. At the drop of a hat, that truth can suddenly change, especially if DRB-Hicom decides to offer up Proton at a bargain price. Add in the fact that VW has been very shady with its business tactics lately – avoiding the tax man and sneaking Ducati under Lamborghini’s umbrella to help it meet mpg standards – and you can see why we don’t believe a word of what Winterkorn says.

VW will say what it needs to say in order to keep its labor group happy, but ultimately it is in the automobile manufacturing game to make money. If Proton and/or Lotus are seen as potential profit, VW will tell the labor group to suck it up, as they ink a deal for the Malaysian automotive group.

We’ll keep a close eye on this whole situation and see if VW stays true to it word or reverses ship if Proton falls in its lap.

Source: Bloomberg

So much promise, yet not enough to back it all up. Such is the case with German automaker Melkus who has now filed for bankruptcy in a Dresden district court.

German press sources have told GTSpirit that sales of the Melkus R2000 have fallen short of the company’s 25-models-a-year target, thus forcing the company to file for bankruptcy in a last ditch effort to keep the company afloat, albeit barely.

Since the company was relaunched in 2006, Melkus has produced a total of one model - the RS2000. Not exactly the kind of business Melkus had hoped for after six years of being in the business. Certainly, the car’s combination of performance and price - the RS2000 has an output of 325 horsepower and is priced at close to $200,000 - is pretty insane, especially considering the multitude of more powerful choices you can have for that kind of money, but apparently it was not enough to warrant any sales.

Melkus’ struggles appear to have come as a result of overestimating the market with a car that doesn’t pack the kind of punch warranted by its price. Now, it appears they’re paying a pretty steep price for it.

Source: GT Spirit
Could Volkswagen AG's Next Victim be Lotus?

There have been rumors circulating that Volkswagen AG is interested in Proton, which includes the Lotus debacle, as either minority owners or a controlling stake. But if VW’s labor union officials have any say, this will not take place. Bend Osterloh let the Handelsblatt know that the labor union will not support VW acquiring Proton, Lotus, or any other brand.

Osterloh was quoted saying “We already have 12 brands and we first have to stabilize the group.” Osterloh also agrees that VW needs to increase its presence in Southwest Asia, but the labor union still won’t support VW in this potential purchase.

Osterloh holds a seat on the supervisory board, so he has a little pull in the company, but not that much pull. VW is looking to overtake GM as the world’s largest auto manufacturer by 2018 and we doubt a puny labor union will stop VW. Even the taxman couldn’t put the brakes on VW’s expansion when it purchased, err, restructured Porsche.

We are pretty sure that VW will own at least a portion of Proton before the end of 2013, it just has to figure out how to let its labor union know that it can either come along for the ride or step aside. This should be a pretty interesting one, as we all know exactly how well auto unions and automakers play together, so we may be in for a pretty big power struggle.

Grab the popcorn... We’ll keep you updated.

We pretty much just finished the Museum Secrets Part One video and Porsche has already graced us with part two of this awesome series. The Museum Secrets series is outlining the new storage facility for the Porsche Museum and also showing us a glimpse of some of the most awesome cars that pass through the museum.

Part One focused mainly on the storage facility and Porsche’s overall history, then showed us just one car, which was the first ever 911 Turbo. Part two, thankfully, focuses a lot more on the storage facilities contents – a ton of rare Porsches. The guys at Porsche outlined seven cars for us, some of which we never knew even existed.

The video’s pretty sweet and the cars are absolutely awesome, so check out the video. If you would like a quick peak at what’s in the video, click past the jump and you’ll see our quick summary on each car shown.

The Famed Nürburgring is in Financial Trouble

There are some very strange things going on between the Nürburgring and F1 right now. Just a few weeks ago, we reported that Bernie Eccelstone was willing to step up to the plate and help the Ring out of its issue. One report stated that Eccelstone would even waive his standard sanction fee for all Nürburgring F1 events in 2013. Just days later, a report emerged that Eccelstone said he will not waive fees, but was instead interested in purchasing the famed raceway .

A report from our friends over at World Car Fans is stating that the Nürburgring cannot afford to host any F1 events in 2013, as it cannot foot the sanctioning bills. That totally negates the rumors about Ecclestone waiving fees or he has rescinded or simply forgotten that offer. According to the report, Nürburgring officials and F1 will go into talks soon to try and keep F1 racing at the `Ring.

Either way, we feel that Eccelstone needs to step up and waive these sanction fees, so that racing can continue at the Nürburgring. The `Ring without F1 racing, just doesn’t quite feel right to us. Nürburgring officials are confident and vow that they can still turn a profit without F1 races, but we are fairly certain that if they miss any races, they are going to have trouble continuing the recovery process.

We will keep a close eye on this whole situation and try to figure out what in the world is going on between the Nürburgring and F1.

Audi officially buys Ducati

Okay, for ease of understanding we always just place Lamborghini under Volkswagen AG’s umbrella, but in reality, VW owns 99 percent of Audi AG who in turn owns Lamborghini ... got it? In a third party, back-door kinda way, yes, VW does own Lamborghini... sort of. So earlier in the year, we mentioned that Audi had secured the Italian motorcycle builder, Ducati, for about $1 billion.

According to Audi’s financial report, it is not the owner of Ducati . How in the world does that kind of error slip through the cracks, right? Well, apparently, Audi follows the same school of thought as its parent company, Volkswagen AG, and tries to push the bounds of legality to get things done, a la Porsche getting a share of VW to exempt VW from paying taxes on the buyout .

Instead of Audi buying Ducati, Lamborghini actually bought it. This does two things for VW, Audi, and Lamborghini. First, it allows it to retain its Italian roots and secondly, it helps push Lamborghini’s overall fuel economy and emissions closer to the European standards that have plagued it in recent years.

So VW has found a way to slither its way through the EU rulebook and find a way around a very important law. Touché, VW, we bow to your supreme rule-bending abilities and the way you do it without us even noticing sometimes.

The Famed Nürburgring is in Financial Trouble

In the 11th hour, German officials have come through for their famed racetrack, the Nürburgring . The Ring had been in a bundle of issues, mostly caused by the decision to use public funds to build a roller coaster and a hotel in the vicinity of the track. This loan ultimately went into default and the European Union was, and presumably still is, investigating the legality of these funds.

This latest loan was provided by the German state Rhineland-Palatinate (RLP) and totals €254 million ($312 million at the current exchange rate) to help keep the track afloat and ultimately assure that its original loan is paid back.

The Christian Democrats (CDU) were strongly opposed to the loan and even went as far as to say it violates the EU’s competition laws. The German finance minister rejected the CDU’s questions of legality and continued on with the loan.

So for now, we can consider the Nürburgring safe, but for how long? If it spiraled toward bankruptcy once for reasons that appear unresolved, what’s going to prevent it from doing so again? For now, we’ll just have to wait and see.

We are also interested to see if Bernie Eccelstone will hold true to his offer to help the Nürburgring by offering sanction-free F1 races next year. With the condition of worldwide road racing leagues deteriorating, we are willing to bet that Eccelstone forgets his promise pretty quickly now that the Ring is not in immediate danger.


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