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Are older cars better suited to crashes?

There has been some speculation that older cars are safer due to the heavier, more rigid chassis and heavier, more robust parts being used. Modern car manufacture is completely different to old methods of car construction and these days much lighter materials are used.

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The Friday Five – American Muscle Cars

The Friday Five is back with a bang this week, or perhaps more appropriately, a burble and a growl, as we’re talking all things muscle cars! Specifically, American muscle! Whether you love them or loathe them, everyone has something to say about American muscle cars. So, check out our top five muscle cars and let us know what you think by commenting below:

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New Jaguar Hybrid Hypercar

Turbo power is currently the “in thing” within the automotive world and Jaguar are the latest to shout about their next turbo charged creation. The C-X75 hypercar is yet to actually be confirmed for production, however Jaguar are making all the correct noises that point towards the C-X75’s eventual production with the car currently in the development stage.

The Performance

Under the bonnet will sit a small 1.6 litre engine, however attached to this will be, not only a turbocharger, but a supercharger too! This is quite a remarkable setup and the engine itself will rev all the way up to 10,000rpm, which is impressive as well.

Jaguar has confirmed that the innovative engine will push out around 500bhp – so it certainly packs a punch! The impressive engineering and tech doesn’t stop their though as two electric motors will be positioned on the front and rear axle. Jaguar are very confident that their creation will outperform rivals in the hybrid supercar niche.

Furthermore, those working on the project are also sure that a 200mph top speed will be achievable and that a 0-60mph time of under 3 seconds will also be possible.

With that sort of performance, expect the car to be pretty expensive when getting a car insurance quote!

Hybrid Tech

The Jag will also come equipped with a liquid-cooled, 200kg battery pack – the heaviest component in the car. The electric range is suggested to be 60km whilst the car will still reach 60mph, from a standstill, in just 6.0 seconds without needing to resort to the traditional engine.

Jaguar have even employed the efforts of the Williams Formula 1 team with the design of the car as the bonded monocoque, that is formed from a carbon fibre tub and connected rear frame, has been created with the help of the F1 team.

Jaguar have also stated that the C-X75 will be four wheel drive due to the intelligent systems that power all four wheels.

The car is suggested to have a sale price, whenever it reaches showrooms, of between £700,000 and £900,000. Whilst it is an extremely expensive car, it will be fantastic to see it go into production. Jaguar have said that they’d like to build around 200 examples of the car. Good luck to them!

The future of the supercar looks good – doesn’t it?

Ferrari versus McLaren

Last weekend, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Ferrari 458 Spider was showcased and, in our opinion, it’s got to be one of the most beautiful cars ever built. Then, this week, the McLaren MP4-12C Spider has been revealed. It seems these two just cannot escape one another. If they’re not going head to head on the Grand Prix circuit then they’re competing off it with their respective road cars.

Ferrari 458 Spider

The 458 is incredibly stylish with striking angular lines in all the right places and ageless beauty. Whilst looking at the thing, I was quite taken aback. Inside too, everything fits into place perfectly and everything feels just how it should – delicate, precise but strong nonetheless.

When sitting inside the car, the driver is also cocooned by lashings of carbon fibre and fine materials. It’s simply a wonderful place to be!

The car just has a feel of engineering perfection. The metal folding roof for example will enable the car to go from being a hard top to an open top in just 14 seconds. The electric hard top is also 25kg lighter than a fabric hood equivalent.

Under the bonnet lies a 562bhp 4.5 litre V8 powerplant that will propel the prancing horse from a standstill to 62mph in just 3.4 seconds. It will then go on to hit 199mph making it slightly slower than the original 458, but extremely quick nevertheless.

McLaren MP4-12C Spider

So, we’ve heard about the Ferrari, what about the McLaren? What will the lucky few that can afford a car insurance quote on the MP4-12C Spider be able to look forward to? Well, to start with they can expect a slower time between hard top and open top as the electric metal folding roof takes 17 seconds in the McLaren.

However, the McLaren has more power than the Ferrari with 616bhp from a smaller, 3.8 litre V8 engine. Perhaps we can attribute British engineering brilliance to the fact that more power has been extracted from a smaller engine. That’s not a biased point either. If we look at the majority of F1 teams, they are based here in the UK. McLaren, Mercedes-Benz and Red Bull amongst many others, are all based in England.

The added power in the McLaren means it is faster than the 458 with a 0-62mph time of 3.1 seconds, which is astonishing from a convertible. The top speed, without the roof is 196mph, whilst with the roof up, the top speed is 204mph. This, again, is quicker than the prancing horse.

What would you have?

So the McLaren has a lot going for it, however, the fact remains that the 458 is just oh so good looking! It’s absolutely glorious and the great thing is the Ferrari can be enjoyed from all angles whilst cruising along at road speeds. The McLaren, on the other hand, just doesn’t have the same appeal. It looks too much like its natural habitat is the race circuit; it looks a bit too serious! The Ferrari, on the other hand, is a car for all occasions that will put a smile on, not only the drivers face, but everyone else’s too at just 30mph!

The BMW i Project

BMW have this week confirmed that they are to increase the production of the Birmingham Hams Hall engine facility. In doing so the new three cylinder turbocharged i8 engine will be produced. This is the engine that is set to power the production version of the innovative and rather futuristic i8 Spyder.

The Story of the i8

The i8 Spyder is set to take the automotive world by storm. Not only will it look like it’s from out of space, but it will be quick too whilst also being extremely economical. The three cylinder engine, largely thanks to its turbocharger, will deliver 344bhp from a petrol-electric hybrid powerplant that will be also be capable of delivering an astonishing 78mpg. So far details of a price haven’t been revealed and it’s difficult to say how much a car insurance quote on such a car would cost at this stage.

However, the performance of the engine is great news. What is also good news is the fact that these fresh new engines will be built over here in the UK as part of a planned £500m investment for UK factories over the next couple of years. This is yet more fantastic news for the UK car industry and the economy in general. Nissan are doing their part for the UK car industry with their wonderful Sunderland plant and now it looks like BMW are helping to bolster the growing car industry in the UK.

Project i

The i8 was originally unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show as a concept and, four years later, in 2013, the first models of this unique and ground-breaking car will roll off the production line. The BMW i8 will be part of BMW’s new brand, BMW i. The “Project i” cars are to be sold separately to normal BMW’s and Mini’s and other i models are sure to follow the i8, including the i3 which is also currently in the pipeline.

The i3 will be a very small city car and is also expected to go into production at some point next year. A prototype of the i3 is set to be showcased at this summer’s 2012 London Olympics, so make sure you keep an eye out for it.

The Future?

With the i8 and i3 we could be looking at one potential future of the automobile. With the i8’s planned top speed of 160mph and a 0-60 time of sub 5 seconds, coupled with turbo power, I am very much interested in the future of the automobile!

Are you excited about the future of the car industry and the future models that are in the pipeline? If so, let us know why. If you’re a bit disgruntled by the seemingly inevitable move away from massive engines and petrol guzzlers, then please also let us know why by leaving us a comment in the box below.

The Return of the Elise

It seems like we can’t get away from the iconic British car manufacturer, Lotus. Everywhere you look these days there’s news and articles about either the financial status of Lotus or a new sports car they’ve released. And today, we are very much talking about the latter.

Another New ‘S’

The 2012 Lotus Elise S has just been released, and it looks to be very much in line with the models Lotus have released in recent months. That is to say the new Elise S is fast and punchy, and will certainly put a smile on your face!

The ‘S’ badge has been slapped on a number of models recently, the Evora S, the Exige S and now the Elise S. What it refers to, naturally, is the supercharger that sits inside the engine bay. The Elise S now packs 217bhp, which is more than enough from something that traditionally weighs so little.

The 1.8 litre supercharged engine will propel drivers from 0-60mph in just 4.6 seconds before going on to a top speed of 145mph. Also, it has to be said, in something so small, such speed will feel all the more intense as the sense of speed will be emphasised thanks to its low centre of gravity and small shell.

Economy is good too, with the Elise S achieving 37.5mpg. This will keep fuel bills down; money that can be put towards that all important car insurance quote!

Handling Capabilities

The Elise S, as usual with a Lotus, handles phenomenally well! It’s easy to drive and you really can put it where you want. Its poky little front end always seems to stick thanks to its abundant amount of grip. The Elise S makes use of Yokohama Advan tyres and non-assisted steering whilst the balance is out of this world!

The handling capabilities coupled with the upgraded engine make the Lotus Elise S a recipe for success!

The Elise S is available to buy from £36,200, whilst if you spec it up, it’s likely to push past the £40k mark. This means it is now mixing it with the likes of the Porsche Boxster. What would you rather have?

Or would you instead look to spend a little bit more and buy the Exige S for around £50k? A dangerous, but tempting thought…

Alfa Romeo 4C Wins Concept Award

It seems we can’t get enough of Alfa Romeo’s here on the MotorMouthBlog, however we’re not the only ones as the new 4C Concept car has won the prestigious concept car award at the Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance.

The Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance

The Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance is an annual event where rare and wonderful cars are showcased before a jury and the public. The event has ran since 1929 as a celebration of rarity and beauty within the motor industry.

This year’s event was held last weekend over the grounds of the Grand Hotel Villa d’Este and neighbouring Villa Erba on Lake Como in Cernobbio, Italy.

Karl Baumer, President of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Esta and Director of BMW Group Classic, explained before the event: “Our aim is to preserve this exclusive ambience while at the same time welcoming further enthusiasts who are keen to experience the Concorso. That’s why we want to extend the public day into a classic weekend.”

A full set of the winners can be found on the event’s official website; however, when looking at the Alfa Romeo 4C, it’s easy to see just why it came out on top of its concept and prototype class.

Worthy Winner

The Alfa had to beat the Aston Martin Project AM310 concept car to the award, which is no easy task! The 4C was originally planned to go into production next year, however, it is now more likely to launch at the 2014 Detroit Motor Show. This will therefore celebrate the brand’s return to the US market.

The 4C is set to head up a range that is expected to grow over the next two years in order to include the five-door Mito, the new Spider, the Giulia saloon and estate, a new compact SUV and the new flagship 6C. All mentioned models are sure to be Alfa-Romeo-pretty! Will you be looking for a car insurance quote on one of the aforementioned models?

Who’s with us in thinking the 4C was the worthy winner of the concept car award and would you like to own one?

The Friday Five – Top Alternative Fuels

Now more than ever the world is looking to limit its negative impact on the environment. Pollution levels are rising and cars are one of the main culprits. Enter alternative fuels, which allow vehicles to be more environmentally friendly. Here is the Friday Five on our favourite alternative fuels.

1. Electricity

The most famous and increasingly common alternative fuel in use. The advantages of electric cars include a considerable reduction in emissions and empowering a country to become less reliant on foreign oil. However they aren’t perfect because they need regular recharging, but having it in hybrid form is the next best step to tackling car pollution. Lots of car manufacturers are producing both 100% electric and hybrid vehicles that are growing in popularity for regular people and businesses. What’s more, the UK government are endorsing them with plug in grants which will reduce overall expenses for drivers, especially if they find a cheap car insurance quote.

2. Bioalcohol

This fuel is a combination of alcohol (usually ethanol) and gasoline. Ethanol is made from a variety of crops, most notably corn, which does risk having a negative affect on supplies and prices, resulting in inflation of corn based products. However this hasn’t stopped the USA and Brazil being the largest producers and users of ethanol fuel. Cars that run on this aren’t easily available because special engines are needed to cope with the corrosive liquid. So there are a few speed bumps in the way to having this fully commercial, but the notion of possibly one day buying a bottle of alcohol and pouring it into your car is quite entertaining. (WARNING! Don’t do that.)

3. Biodiesel

Similar to bioalcohol, biodiesel is diesel blended with vegetable oils or animal fats. The benefit of this fuel is that it can already be used in regular diesel engines. Due to this great attribute, a large number of companies like Virgin Trains, Disneyland and Volkswagen are using this fuel in some of their transport vehicles. Sounds like a winning alternative fuel but one of the main difficulties with it is if it gets too cool, it can crystallise and gel. Therefore countries with naturally cooler temperatures would need vehicles to be fitted with extra components to make the engines compatible.

4. Hydrogen

This fuel is highly eco-friendly as earth has a plentiful supply of it and when it’s used in an engine, minimal pollution occurs. So why aren’t more hydrogen vehicles being used commercially? The research and development that goes into making the engine and fuel cells is extremely technical and there are still many obstacles to overcome. So much so that Ford and Renault cancelled all production into hydrogen cars, while General Motors have moved their developments onto the back burner as it costs too much. This is quite a shame as NASA have been launching spacecrafts with hydrogen engines for years. Imagine a car reaching speeds of 0 to infinity and beyond!

5. Liquid Nitrogen

Now this fuel isn’t commercially available, but it looks so cool in science experiments! The engine heats liquid Nitrogen causing the pressurised gas to propel a car forward. The benefits of this alternative fuel are somewhat similar to electric vehicles which have low emissions, except they wouldn’t need batteries to operate and re-charge. However it seems unlikely this will be used long-term because, as with some other alternative fuels, a large amount of energy goes into production. Also the safety risks are extremely high due to nitrogen possibly escaping which removes oxygen from a room with poor ventilation and the requirement for specific, pressure tank storage.

The Friday Five – Top Technologies

This week our Friday Five is all about swanky car technology! From phone chargers to robotic cars, we’ve listed the five most advanced technologies in the automotive industry! Check ‘em out:

1. Fingerprint Starter

Losing your keys will never be a problem if your car starts with the scan of a fingerprint, yours to be specific. This technology has been available for a few years now and it can be used as a security measure as well as a key. With fingerprint identification technology, only authorised drivers can start the engine and enable/disable the alarm. One of the most respected brands of this technology is “Identisafe” whose head office is located in the birthplace of many advanced technologies, Silicon Valley.

[Image Credit - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwRd1cDRmfA]

2. Touch Screen Dashboards

With smartphone apps and access to countless sources of entertainment and information within reach of many people’s fingertips, car manufacturers are now creating ways for drivers to access practically everything from their car. These dashboards of the future do so much more than their predecessors. They allow drivers to easily view the status of their car (i.e. battery and fuel level), access the internet, use voice activation and navigate the roads, eliminating the small battle of sticking a satnav to your windscreen. It has reinvented the interior appearance of a car and makes small, bright LCD screens an increasingly common sight in everyday life. These dashboards are still under development to include even more tools and functions, so there’s no telling how much they can potentially do.

[Image Credit - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hVd_ABhNBA]

3. Semi-Autonomous Driving

This technology is surely bringing us one step closer to robots. For many years companies have been trying to create cars that essentially drive themselves with little input from the driver. The SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project has been funded by the European Commission to develop a semi-autonomous driving system that reduces congestion, fuel consumption and journey times in Europe. Using video and radio technology, a lead truck is driven which keeps a line of vehicles behind it that follow its entire journey. This allows drivers to sit back and read a book, enjoy a snack or simply watch the world pass by. SARTRE is reaching the final stages of development and should be completed at the end of the year.

In addition, the autonomous Google car has, just this week, been launched in Las Vegas – this literally is one big robot as it can drive itself. It makes use of a Toyota Prius with some very advanced tech. Will you be looking for a car insurance quote on a robotic car anytime soon?

4. Wireless In-Car Charging

There has been talk of cars featuring wireless charging for a while now but Mopar have made it a reality. The new 2013 Dodge Dart is the first car to feature a wireless charging area for compatible smartphones. The car dashboard includes a small charging bin with a wireless grid that charges your phone once the two are touching. Little has been revealed on the more specific details of this handy technology but it certainly looks like a promising feature. The fear of leaving your charger at home would no longer be an issue and it begs the question if wireless charging will be introduced to the home at some point.

5. Active Seat Belt Buckle

Now it’s not the most exciting technology, but it’s a practical one which increases passenger safety. It was developed by Mercedes-Benz and the buckle has a small motor that allows it to extend out of the seat and retract back into it. It activates during critical driving situations as well as when the rear doors open, so passengers can easily locate and lock-in their seat belt. The motor in the buckle will force the seat belt to reduce the amount of slack around the pelvis and thorax during moments of possible collisions, making passengers more firmly secured in their seat. It also lights up which is pretty cool!

[Image Credit - Mercedes Benz]

Audi R8 to be Revealed in Moscow

The Audi R8 is a supercar that certainly divides opinion. Many people think it’s one of the prettiest looking cars on the road whilst others will certainly think quite the opposite. Its styling isn’t for everyone, however, personally, I think it’s a fantastically stylish and sleek looking supercar.

Subtle Styling

I love it’s cutting lines and wide body. The way it sits atop its bespoke rims whilst being hunkered down and close to the ground. The LED lights in the front headlights also add a nice touch that Audi have replicated throughout much of the range.

It’s also a supercar that is notoriously easy to drive; one that you really could use everyday perhaps. Well, now there looks to be an update on the horizon.

New Direction

A facelifted and re-engineered Audi R8 has been spotted testing at night clad in non-reflective paintwork. The car is due to be publicized at the Moscow International Motor Show at the end of August this year.

Pleasingly, for me, the bulk of the changes have come under the skin as it’s just an update rather than an entirely new car. So here’s hoping the R8 remains as stylish as its predecessor.

Updates for the R8 include a new seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission which has required an entirely new rear structure to the car. The transmission is one of those areas that the rest of the car has to, in many respects, be moulded around due to the fact that it’s such an integral part of any car – especially a performance car!

Redesigns

Therefore, Audi have redesigned the rear tub, engine carrier and suspension in order to allow for the much wider and heavier dual-clutch transmission. An extensive rear end rebuild has had to take place as Audi have realised the demand for a self-shifting gearbox. Something the original R8 was never designed to accommodate and also something that meant sales for the R8 were not as high as they could have been as people were reportedly put off buying the R8 due to the lack of a self-shifting gearbox. With these updates, more and more people are expected to invest in a car insurance quote for a new R8.

Thus far it’s not been made clear whether it will be offered with both the V8 and V10 engines. Those of us who are petrol heads will quite rightly be hoping the V10 is an option as the current Audi R8 makes use of, what is essentially, a Lamborghini V10 which produces around 525bhp. However, if the V10 does get offered, it’s likely to be increased in power for the updated car to further add to its appeal.

So, what does everyone else think of the R8? Do you agree with me in thinking it to be a very stylish and pretty supercar? Or is it not really your cup of tea?