Monday, August 31, 2009

MINI Cooper Coupe:50th anniversary edition

Mini is likely to add a sportier, two-seat hatchback to its lineup, based on a concept car to be shown at the Frankfurt auto show in Germany next month.

The British-based Mini brand is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. German parent BMW revived the Mini brand in the United States in 2002.

Assuming it goes into mass production, the two-seater Mini Coupe would be the fourth body style of Mini’s basic model, the Mini Cooper. The other three, all with four seats, are a two-door hardtop, a two-door convertible, and a three-door hatchback, the Mini Clubman. Mini has also shown what it calls a crossover concept car, with SUV-like styling.

The Mini Coupe Concept does away with the back seats. A lower roof for the coupe replaces the high, squared-off roofline of the four-seater models, especially at the trailing edge. With no rear seats, rear-seat headroom is not an issue for the coupe concept. Nevertheless, the coupe has a decent amount of space for cargo.

The main cause for concern with the Mini Coupe is the exterior styling. The rear roof spoiler seems a bit over the top, and a small spoiler mounted at the bottom of the rear window would probably look a lot more innocuous. Perhaps as a result of this spoiler, the roof itself just looks out of place. The downswell of the roofline after the front door stops your eye from sweeping back, which reinforces the short length of this car. The big plus side on the Coupe’s styling is the windshield, which is swept back and is a welcome change from the vertical windshield of the Cooper. Everything below the windshield and roof is essentially the same as a Mini Cooper.

In addition, the roof in the concept car is made of aluminum, which saves weight and lowers the car’s center of gravity. That’s an advantage for sportier handling.Mini stuffed its most powerful engine under the hood, er, bonnet — a 1.6-liter turbocharged mill. It’s the same engine you’ll find in the John Cooper Works model. It puts down 211 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque, although Mini says that can rise to 206 pound-feet if you hit the “overboost function,” whatever that is. No word on what the car weighs, but Mini says it will offer “perfect axle load distribution and low center of gravity.” In other words, it oughtta handle nicely.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

2010 Chevy Spark

The all-new Chevrolet Spark, makes its world premiere at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, is a small car designed to make a big statement. It's big on style, big on fuel economy and, like all products carrying the gold bowtie, big on value.

With punchy 1.0 and 1.2-liter four-cylinder gasoline engines and a five-door hatchback body format offering surprising versatility, the Chevy Spark is set to light up mini-car segment.

Inspired cabin

The progressive design of Chevrolet Spark's surprisingly spacious cabin has the flair to match its exterior looks. The use of quality materials and an uplevel execution were key interior design requirements, demonstrating that small cars offering big value need not look utilitarian or spartan inside.

Bright and engaging, the interior features an evolution of Chevrolet's signature 'dual cockpit' design. The textured front fascia moldings flow each side of the cabin into the doors, creating a feeling of space that belies Chevrolet Spark's diminutive size.

Exterior bodywork colors are carried through into the lower fascia and door panels. And the main controls are all highlighted in signature Chevy ice-blue, adding to the cabin's youthful looks.

A unique, motorcycle-inspired main instrument pod, incorporating a large speedometer and digital tachometer display, is another striking design feature.

The audio, heating, ventilation and navigation displays are all neatly presented in an integrated center stack. A small floor console includes twin cup-holders, ample storage cubbyholes and a gearshift molding finished in aluminum to match the spokes of the steering wheel.

Chevrolet Spark packs a generous 2,375 mm wheelbase into its 3,640 mm long body, which helps to deliver a cabin with class-leading passenger leg and hip room, front and rear. The seats are upholstered in a range of bright, contrasting fabrics, with top-of-line variants even including uplevel French seam stitching.

Despite its minimal rear overhang for ease of parking, Chevrolet Spark offers an above average 170-liter trunk volume, easily increased to 994 liters by lowering the 60/40 split-fold rear seat-back. All four door pockets are large enough to provide useful onboard storage for oddments. Chevrolet Spark's versatility can be taken a step further by specifying roof rails, a rare option in the segment.

The extensive equipment roster includes: a height-adjustable driver's seat, tilting steering wheel, electrically-powered front windows, heated front seats, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, electrically-powered and heated door mirrors, a trip computer and 'anti-freeze' windshield wipers.

On the move

Newly-developed, all-aluminum 1.0 and 1.2-liter gasoline engines, generating 66 hp/49 kW and 78 hp/58 kW respectively, are expected to offer combined cycle fuel economy of below 5.0L/100 km, together with CO2 emissions of less than 120 g. It is also being heard that GM is devoloping a one litre diesel power plant for this spark.If that happens, it will be a huge hit to Chevy in india and abroad and a blow for other players in this segment.

These efficient, Euro 5 compliant, 16-valve motors are mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. The 1.2-liter engine is expected to deliver zero to 100 km/h acceleration in a brisk 12.4 seconds.

Apart from fewer visits to the filling station, Chevrolet Spark also delivers a level of running refinement and NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) typical of a larger car. A three-level noise suppression program focused on effective insulation in the floor, the front bulkhead and inner body panels. The chassis is based on McPherson strut front suspension, with a space-saving torsion beam set-up at the rear. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) will be offered as an option.

Standard safety equipment includes driver, front passenger, side and curtain airbags. The front seatbelts are equipped with pre-tensioners and there are three, three-point belts for rear passengers. Chevrolet Spark is expected to achieve a high EuroNCAP crash test rating.



Las Vegas, Nevada, November 4, 2008 Conquest Vehicles Inc., the Toronto-based company that specializes in the design and manufacturing of fully armoured, ultra-luxurious, handcrafted sport utility vehicles has unveiled its flagship vehicle, the KNIGHT XV at the 2008 SEMA show in Las Vegas, announced William Maizlin, President, Conquest Vehicles, Inc.

Inspired by the Gurkha military vehicle, the KNIGHT XV is an ultra-luxurious handcrafted, Bio-fuel powered fully armoured SUV. The KNIGHT XV is powered by a V10, 6.8-litre engine and sits on a super duty Ford modified platform chassis. It provides 400 hp and 498-ft lbs of torque.

The KNIGHT XV is priced at $310,000 USD. Only 100 will be made available as a limited first run. Each vehicle takes 1,500 hours to build by hand.

Our goal with the KNIGHT XV is to deliver an ownership experience that is unrivaled in todays marketplace. The KNIGHT XV offers the very best in security and luxury while ensuring that the environment is positively impacted when the vehicle is on the road, said Maizlin.

The KNIGHT XV offers interior appointments including Wilton Wool luxury carpeting; Andrew Muirhead leather; 6-way electric leather boardroom-style seating; Tandem sunroof glass with privacy shades; Personal side-mounted lap top stations; LED cabin lighting; Alpine AM, FM, CD, DVD
navigation and Bluetooth equipment; TV Monitors; Night vision and rear op camera system and Playstation 3 (PS3). The cabins 283-cubic-foot interior is larger than the interior of most SUVs on the road today and can comfortably seat six professional basketball players.

We believe that the combination of the secure exterior appointments and ultra-luxurious interior will appeal to high-profile individuals w
ith discriminate tastes that place security and luxury at the top of their list when it comes to acquiring a bespoke luxury vehicle, said Maizlin.

The KNIGHT-XV is built using ballistic hardened steel making it fully armoured including ballistic fiberglass fenders, bumper and up to 64 mm. (2.5 inches) transparent armor (glass).

The KNIGHT XV is 240 in length, 98 in width with a ground clearance of 14 and stands at 100. Its wheelbase is 141 and has an armoured curb weight of 10,000 pounds. The vehicle holds 40 gallons of fuel and sits on four, LT40X13.50R20 Mickey Thompson Baja Radial ATZ tires with ballistic run flats.

Additionally, the KNIGHT XV contains an E-85 Ethanol conversion system (Flex Fuel) with California emission certification, thereby making it certified
in all 50 States.

We designed this vehicle with three goals in mind. To provide the ultimate in security and luxury while ensuring the vehicle is environmentally friendly, said Maizlin.

About Conquest Vehicles Inc

Conquest Vehicles Inc., specializes in the design and manufacturing of ultra-luxurious, fully armoured, handcrafted sport utility vehicles. The company, headquartered in Toronto, Canada, is comprised of the automotive industrys most respected talent whose award-winning experience in engineering, fabrication, design, armouring and customization combine to create one-of-a-kind SUVs unrivaled and unmatched in todays automotive marketplace. Conquest Vehicles Inc., also provides auto customization and after-
market design for luxury vehicles.

For more information about the KNIGHT XV or Conquest Vehicles, please visit

Just compare the sizes of the 2 monsters on road-The Hummer and Knight V.


-- The 2010 Ford Flex will offer an available 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, the first gasoline direct-injection twin-turbocharged engine produced in North America
-- EcoBoost is a key Ford Motor Company initiative to deliver significant advancements in fuel economy – up to 20 percent – without sacrificing th
e performance customers want. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine delivers an impressive 355 horsepower and a responsive 350 lb.-ft. of torque across a broad rpm range, simultaneously giving Ford Flex the power of a normally aspirated 4.6-liter V-8 while enjoying V-6 fuel efficiency
-- The 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 is the first in a wave of EcoBoost engines coming from Ford as part of a strategy to bring major fuel-efficiency improvements to millions. By 2013, more than 90 percent of Ford’s North American lineup will be available with EcoBoost

DETROIT, Jan. 11, 2009 – Ford Flex turns heads with its distinctive design – and in 2009, the unique full-size crossover becomes even more noteworthy, thanks to an available twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine.

This all-new engine gives Flex V-8 power and performance feel with the fuel economy of a V-6.

The twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 produces an estimated 355 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 350 foot-pounds of torque at 3,500 rpm. In addition to the power upgrade, the 2010 EcoBoost Flex boasts segment-leading fuel economy among full-size performance crossover vehicles with 22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.

The 2010 Flex has unsurpassed fuel economy in the full-size crossover segment with 24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined, one of a number of new Ford products delivering the best or among the best fuel economy.

“We are committed to delivering fuel economy leadership in every new vehicle,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group president of Global Product Development. “We do this with affordable technology that can be applied to the widest number of vehicles. EcoBoost is an important component of that goal.

“The beauty of EcoBoost is that it enables us to downsize for fuel efficiency, yet boost for power. We’re able to decrease the size of the available engine – such as installing a V-6 versus a V-8 – yet boost the power using turbocharging to deliver similar power and torque of that larger engine.”

The twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine requires all-wheel drive and will be available on well-equipped SEL and Limited models of the 2010 Flex, packaged with several high-demand customer features.

“People who drive the Flex want to make a statement, and the new twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 is very much in keeping with that attitude,” said Ron Heiser, chief engineer of the Ford Flex. “We’re proud and excited to add Ford’s most advanced engine, which is the first V-6 direct-injection twin turbocharged engine produced in North America, to the Flex line.”

The addition of the EcoBoost engine builds on what already is a strong package for Flex.

“We know that there are customers who are looking for the power and performance of a traditional V-8 but are not willing to sacrifice this for fuel economy,” said Kate Pearce, Flex marketing manager. “No one else in this segment offers this level of performance and versatility, and when you wrap it up in Flex’s unique package, we believe that it will offer a compelling buy in the crossover segment.”

The EcoBoost program is part of Ford’s ongoing and wide-ranging initiative to deliver fuel-efficient powertrain systems with power and performance found in larger-displacement engines.

“EcoBoost engines offer more power and better fuel economy,” said Brett Hinds, EcoBoost design manager. “It’s all part of Ford’s strategy to bring adaptable powertrain technology to all kinds of vehicles and all kinds of lifestyles. This technology is affordable and applicable to all gasoline engines.”

Hinds said the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 will handle any tasks Ford Flex drivers ask of it. “The drivability of EcoBoost engines is superior and it just generates a lot more confidence in your Flex – it goes where you want it to go,” he said. “You’re rewarding yourself as a driver.”

The twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 also will arrive in the Lincoln MKS and MKT in 2009. Although these are three very different vehicles that serve different needs for customers, the EcoBoost engine can handle the roles seamlessly and effectively. The 2010 EcoBoost V-6 MKT, for example, provides segment-leading fuel economy, exceeding the V-8-powered Audi Q7 by 4 mpg on the highway.

“A key element in our EcoBoost strategy is the efficiency we gain by employing a common control unit across a wide variety of vehicle applications,” said Craig Stephens, EcoBoost powertrain control system manager. “All the driver should notice is the seamless power delivery and terrific fuel economy.”

The key to the EcoBoost system is the harmony between the twin turbochargers and the direct injection fuel system. The turbochargers recover energy from the exhaust that otherwise would’ve been wasted and put it back in the engine to gain efficiency. Simply, the turbocharging system puts more air into the engine for more power. A compressor increases or “boosts” the pressure of the air entering the engine. An intercooler reduces the air temperature before it enters the engine.

The twin parallel turbochargers, which are water cooled and operate simultaneously, combine with a direct-injection fuel system to produce power when the driver pushes down on the gas pedal. The high-pressure fuel pump operates up to 2,175 psi – more than 35 times the norm seen in a conventional V-6 engine. The high-pressure pump is a cam-driven mechanical pump with a single piston and an electronic valve that controls how much fuel is routed into the fuel rails to the injectors.

As demands on the twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine are increased, the control system responds to maintain optimal combustion, timing and injection duration.

On each stroke, six individual jets spray fuel directly into the combustion chamber, mixing with the incoming air. “By bringing the fuel injector right into the combustion chamber, there’s no delay from the time you inject the fuel to when it’s used by the engine,” Hinds said.

The fuel injectors are located on the side of the combustion chamber. When the fuel is injected into the cylinder, it evaporates and cools the air that’s been inducted into the cylinder. “Another benefit of our direct injection method is that it cools the air right where you’re going to burn it,” Hinds said. “This action both improves the breathing of the engine and minimizes knocking.”

The direct injection of fuel into the cylinder also helps provide a well-mixed air-fuel charge, increasing engine efficiency. Direct injection provides several benefits in terms of fuel burn and lower emissions.

“Because the fuel is directly introduced into the combustion chamber, you don’t get fuel wetting the combustion wall like with port fuel injection, you don’t saturate the ports and you don’t get droplets that might recombine and add to saturation,” Hinds said. “By injecting fuel directly into the combustion chamber and under high pressure, the fuel can be directed to exactly where we want it to be for a given combustion cycle.”

The spray pattern for the fuel was optimized after extensive modeling work, with the angle of how the fuel is sprayed key to the process.

“The better combustion process is a big advantage of direct injection,” Hinds said. “In a port fuel system, at key off it’s possible to have fuel on the walls of the intake port, which migrates to the top of the valve and puddles. So when you key on, you get that emissions spike. Direct injection is much cleaner from that standpoint.”

Turbo lag virtually eliminated

The simultaneous turbocharger operation paired with the direct-injection system help to virtually eliminate turbo lag, one of the main reasons turbocharger technology was not previously more widely used.

The dual-turbocharger setup has several advantages over previous turbocharging systems, including:

-- The turbochargers are smaller, resulting in more-compact exhaust manifolds, which don’t generate as much heat
-- Turbochargers are packaged adjacent to the cylinder block and have improved mounting providing NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) improvements
-- The dual turbochargers spool up quicker, allowing the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine to reach peak torque faster. The turbochargers spin at approximately 170,000 rpm. By comparison, the redline for the engine is approximately 6,500 rpm

“Our two turbochargers both operate identically over the speed range of the engine – one is responsible for the left bank of the engine and the other is responsible for the right bank,” Hinds said. “Both spin immediately and produce boost, even at low engine speeds.”

The turbochargers are designed for a life cycle of 150,000 miles or 10 years.

“Our testing is far, far more harsh than could be achieved in the real world,” Hinds said. “In an extreme situation, a customer might be able to hit peak power for about 10 seconds – probably not even that much. We test at peak power for hundreds of hours to ensure we can reach our durability and reliability goals.”

The turbochargers are only about the size of an orange, but help provide a big performance advantage to customers. Hinds describes the torque response in terms of linear acceleration – power whenever you need it.

“You get peak torque across a very wide engine speed range,” he said. “It’s available when you pull away from a stoplight or pass someone on a secondary road at a comparatively low speed. You don’t need to wind up the engine to get performance out of it. It’s there all the time.”

Turbocharger “whoosh” is mitigated by electronically controlled anti-surge valves, which proactively relieve the boost in the intake, which can range up to 12 PSI. Precise software calibrations manage the pressures in the intake manifold.

“We control the boost to make sure that customers don’t recognize when the boost is building,” Hinds said. “As the turbochargers spool up, the electronic control system takes over. Our active wastegate control along with the throttle controls the boost and torque levels very precisely and the customer perceives a continuous delivery of torque.”

Extensive durability tests on the twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine ensure it will excel in all conditions. Start-up tests, with a wide variety of fuels, were made in conditions ranging from minus 40 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Altitude testing up to 12,000 feet in Colorado also was performed.

“The direct-injection fuel system allows us some real opportunities in terms of optimizing cold start for both emissions and robustness,” Hinds said. “We have multiple injections for each combustion event, and we can essentially tune where those injections should take place to deliver the strongest start possible with the lowest emissions.”

Mated to the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine is the 6-speed 6F-55 SelectShift automatic transmission, which is dedicated to the twin-turbocharger engine.

The 6F-55 transmission was developed from the successful 6F-50 transmission to specifically respond to the increased torque demands of the EcoBoost V-6 engine. Upgrades were made to the transmission’s friction material in response to the higher shift energies, and a new torque converter has been optimized for performance and fuel economy.

Additionally, the 6F-55 transmission operates more efficiently. The transmission team was able to reduce the fluid level in the transmission, which in turn reduced weight and drag torque on the system. Upgrades to the transmission’s thermal valve mean the system warms up quicker, reducing gear-spin losses.

“We’ve upgraded the gear sets to handle the increased torque,” said Joe Baum, powertrain team leader. “We’ve also adjusted the final drive ratio and matched the gear ratios to provide the optimum performance and fuel economy.

“Our final drive ratio is 2.73. With a lower final drive ratio, the engine spins lower at highway speeds, which helps save fuel. And with all the torque, the Ford Flex still delivers good low-speed launch performance.”

One harmonious system

Careful powertrain system management ensures the engine, turbochargers and transmission work together harmoniously.

“The Flex is a hit with our customers, bringing new customers to Ford,” Heiser said. “Adding the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 is just more great news.”