• Renault Megane sets Nurburgring front-drive record [VIDEO]

    June 16, 2014
    A track-focused version of the recently-unveiled Renault Mégane RS 275 Trophy has lapped Germany’s famed Nürburgring Nordschleife track in 7:54:36, setting a new record for a front-wheel drive car. The previous front-drive record was held by the SEAT Leon Cupra 280 that managed to clock a time of 7:58:4 earlier this year.

    Called Mégane Trophy-R, the record-setting car is up to 220 pounds lighter than a stock RS 275 thanks to Recaro-built polycarbonate front seats and an optional lithium-ion battery. Renault has also removed the rear wiper and all related hardware, the radio, the A/C unit, the bulk of the sound-deadening material and the rear seats in order to bring the car’s total weight down to 2,821 pounds.

    Renault has not made any modifications to the RS 275′s engine, meaning the Trophy-R is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder mill that sends 275 horsepower and 265 lb-ft. of torque to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission and a limited-slip differential. Upgraded brakes help bring the hatchback to a stop.

    Visually, the Trophy-R stands out with a two-tone paint job, a model-specific front splitter, bespoke graphics and emblems all around as well as 19-inch Speedline Turini wheels painted in either red or black. Alcantara inserts add a discreet premium touch to the cockpit.

    The Mégane Trophy-R is scheduled to go on sale across Europe in the coming weeks. Production will be limited to just 250 examples, and pricing information will be published closer to its on-sale date.

  • One-off Ferrari F12 TRS unveiled

    June 16, 2014
    The first alleged images of a one-off Ferrari called F12 TRS have surfaced on the web. The car was built at the request of a wealthy collector whose identity remains unknown.

    Designed by the automaker’s Special Projects Division, the F12 TRS is based on the F12berlinetta coupe but it gains a targa roof, heavily-tinted windows and a more shapely rear end. The front fascia is fitted with a race-inspired splitter, and the car appears to wear bespoke alloy wheels.

    The F12 TRS is reportedly powered by a gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain consisting of a 729-horsepower 6.2-liter V12 engine that works jointly with a Formula 1-inspired Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) made up of an electric motor and a high-capacity battery pack. Not available on the stock F12, the hybrid system is expected to propel the F12 TRS from zero to 62 mph in under 3 seconds and on to a top speed of over 210 mph.

    Sources indicate the F12 TRS cost its owner $4.2 million, considerably more than even the range-topping LaFerrari. The car will remain an exclusive one-off and it will not be added to the Ferrari catalog.

    Ferrari is expected to publish a full set of details about the F12 TRS once the roadster has been delivered.

  • Audi wins 24 Hours of Le Mans

    June 16, 2014

    For the fifth year in a row and after a hard fought battle between Toyota and Porsche, Audi has won the 2014 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

    Audi’s R18 e-Tron Quattro scored a 1-2 finish, with the No. 2 car of Mark Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Trelyuer crossing the line first, and Felipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi and Oliver Jarvis’s No. 1 following three laps behind.

    Toyota, with a pole position qualifying run by Kazuki Nakajima, seemed like a strong contender in their pair of TS040 Hybrids. After taking an early lead with one of their LMP-H racers, Toyota held it until hour 14 when the the car stalled out due to what the team is reporting as a failure in the electrical loom. The No. 7 Toyota driven by Anthony Davidson, Nicholas Lapierre and Sebastien Buemi, despite a minor crash at the beginning, finished third after some quick repairs.

    Fan favorite Porsche returned to Le Mans after a 16 year absence, fielding a pair of 919 Hybrids. After challenging Audi and Toyota early on, fell by the wayside. For a while, it seemed as Porsche might take the overall win, leading the pack with four hours left to go. However, mechanical maladies took out the lead car with only four hours remaining in the race.

    This is the third victory for Audi’s R18 e-Tron Quattro and the fourth checkered flag for Joest Racing, the team running Audi’s Le Mans program.

  • Toyota Camatte concept invites children to customize, learn about cars

    June 16, 2014

    For the third year in a row, Toyota has gone to the Tokyo Toy Show to introduce the latest version of its Camatte 57s concept.

    Powered by a wholly electric drivetrain, the Camatte is a skeleton frame upon which various body panels can be attached. Its purpose, Toyota says, and the reason why it’s displayed at a toy show, is to pique children’s interest in cars.

    The latest iteration features a hood covered with an array of LEDs. Children can customize the car by drawing pictures that are scanned an translated into pixels. A second Cammate 57s Sport is displayed without panels, so that children can see how its steering, differential, and accelerator work.

    Past versions of the Camatte have included a minimalist roadster in the vein of the Lotus Super 7, a dune-buggy-like off roader, and coupe whose roof, windshield and cowl swing open like a jet fighter’s canopy. All of them employ a triangular 1+2 seating layout, configured so that an adult in the right rear seat can steer or brake in the event of an emergency or overzealous budding speed demon.

    So far these are concepts only, but the interchangeable panel design will be put into production this summer on the Daihatsu Copen roadster. Daihatsu is a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota specializing in kei cars.

  • South Korean company previews electric sports car

    June 16, 2014

    A South Korean startup named Oullim Motors has published preliminary details about a battery-powered sports car set to make its debut at next year’s edition of the Geneva Motor Show.

    Dubbed Spirra, the coupe will be powered by an electric motor mounted behind the passenger compartment linked to a high-capacity battery pack. Oullim has not revealed whether it will design and build the drivetrain in-house or if it will purchase it from another company, but it has promised the motor will send power to all four wheels.

    Although the Spirra’s design is still being finalized, the company expects the coupe to boast a highly-aerodynamic body crafted out of carbon fiber and to ride on a lightweight tubular frame. The Spirra will be assembled by hand in a new facility located in the Netherlands and distributed in select European countries.

    Sources close to the company indicate the Spirra will carry a base price of approximately €200,000, a lofty sum that converts to over $270,000. A full set of technical details will be published in the weeks leading up to the car’s debut in Switzerland.

    South Korea’s sports car

    In its home country of South Korea, the Spirra is powered by a mid-mounted Hyundai-sourced V6 engine that puts out anywhere between 172 and 492 ponies depending on tune. The most powerful version of the coupe is capable of reaching 62 mph from a stop in just 3.5 seconds before going on to a top speed of 195 mph, statistics that hint at what to expect from the electric variant.