Friday, September 30, 2005

First view of VW Polo

Today i saw the most recent VW Polo after the restyling, i saw it on a glance didn't had time to make an opinion, i'll post later when i have something more to say!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Toyota Prius

In the expanding fleet of hybrid cars, the 2005 Toyota Prius finds the best balance of ecofriendliness and practicality to leave the rest of the competition in the dust. Its advanced technology works seamlessly under the hood, making the Prius as sensible as it is economical. Moreover, it satisfies car nuts and tree huggers alike with its lively acceleration, its great fuel economy, and its nearly silent operation, although it hits a few speed bumps: a second-rate stereo, limited driver visibility, and annoying rattles. At a base price of $20,875, the Prius is on a par with Honda's less ambitious Civic Hybrid, but with the option package, our gussied-up test model goes for $26,641. In spite of its quirks, the Prius is a marvel of engineering that effortlessly delivers superior gas mileage without sacrificing comfort or reasonable performance to make it the best hybrid on the road today.

Thanks to a sophisticated drive-by-wire system that connects the gas pedal to a computer to control the two power plants (gas and electric) and variable transmission, the front-wheel-drive Prius stretches a gallon of gas without compromises. Together, the side-by-side gas and electric power plants deliver 110 horsepower that's as smooth and quiet as a purring sewing machine. (Find out more about how hybrid cars work in CNET's hybrid buying guide.) For pulling away from a stop sign, the motor taps into the 500-volt battery pack for pure electric energy. It then switches to the 1.5-liter gasoline engine when needed and uses a combination of fuel and electric power for quick maneuvers. While the electric-to-gas transition generally occurs at about 15mph, if you're careful, you can push it to 35mph. You can watch all the action from the control screen that displays an animated power-flow diagram, which has the look and addictive quality of a video game. But whether you're cruising uphill, downhill, or on a flat road, the computer sees to it that the car has lively acceleration and the battery gets charged through the regenerative braking system.

Nearly silent in its idle state, the Prius goes from 0 to 60mph in 10.3 seconds, a suitable number for an economy car but hardly high performance. Still, that's 1.8 seconds faster than Honda's electrically assisted Civic Hybrid. On the other hand, the drivetrain is short on midrange torque, taking 7 seconds to go from 30mph to 50mph and making for a little on-ramp performance anxiety. With MacPherson strut front and torsion bar rear suspension, the Prius handles well, but you'll feel every bump in the cabin. This car calmly cruises at 60mph and stops in a reasonable 152 feet, although the brake pedal feels soft. The car has other quirks, too, such as the circular dashboard power button that starts the car and the toggle-switch gear lever (see picture below). And as with most hybrids, the engine shuts itself off about a second after stopping at a light--unnerving for those who haven't experience it. Fear not, the gas engine automatically restarts when needed, and the silent operation is actually a sign that you're saving fuel. Despite all these oddities, economy is the Prius's raison d'être, and its gas mileage of 45.8 miles to the gallon is welcome news as nationwide fuel prices hit more than $2.50 per gallon. A tank of gas will take the Prius more than 500 miles.

Shifting gears: the Toyota Prius features a quirky toggle-switch gear lever that operates like a switch.

Make no mistake--the Prius is no cramped econobox. Weighing in at 2,980 pounds, the low, sleek hatchback is a midsize car that has a lot of headroom, can seat four comfortably, and has enough space for a run to the discount warehouse. In addition, the folding rear seats (60/40 split) yield room for skis, a bicycle, or seven-foot-long lumber. Unfortunately, the cloth seats don't provide enough lower back support, and the car suffers from annoying rattles. And to achieve the Prius's enviable aerodynamics, Toyota engineers had to severely rake the windshield, creating a shape that's a conversation starter at the gas pump, but the huge dashboard is big enough for a child to sleep on, and the wiper blades barely reach the driver's eye level. Another complaint: rather than placing the digital instruments close to the driver, they sit at the base of the windshield, and the car's wide front pillar creates a large blind spot on the driver's left that makes for anxious moments; the view behind is obstructed by the split rear window.

The Prius's center-mounted 6-inch color display controls just about all the car's functions; be sure to set aside some time to read the manual to get acquainted with the system. Also, the screen shows fingerprints as easily as an episode of CSI and blanks out in bright sunlight. Its eight buttons are easier to use than conventional car controls but less versatile than BMW's single iDrive knob. Happily, the most important controls for the stereo and hands-free phone are duplicated on the steering wheel, but its rubberized surface is more suited to a BMX bike than a $25,000 car.

Our $5,065 option package included an antitheft system and an autodimming rearview mirror with a HomeLink universal transceiver for opening a garage door. It also came with Toyota's Smart Key, high-intensity headlights, fog lamps, and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), along with the nine-speaker stereo, voice-activated navigation system and Bluetooth wireless connection for hands-free cell phone use (for a list of compatible phones, visit Toyota's Web site with links to third-party resellers).

Toyota's GPS navigation computer delivers colorful and accurate maps. The car's position is updated frequently as you wheel through the streets, and inputting an address is easier than in most GPS systems with separate screens to enter the destination's number, street, and town; it boasts excellent predictive entry, so you can start with the first few letters and let the computer fill in the rest of the word. It can't create a 3D bird's-eye view of the route, however, and the system tends to generate routes that favor highway driving over more direct back roads. A calm female voice can direct you to your destination, and if you happen to miss a turn, it quietly reroutes your course. Unfortunately, it often warns you so early that there's a risk of making the wrong turn; nonetheless, we like its emergency screen with the locations of the closest police station, hospital, and Toyota dealer.

Despite shelling out extra money for the option package that includes the JBL CD player with nine speakers, the audio on our review car sounds muddy with booming bass. To our chagrin, the Prius has no options for satellite radio, a DVD player, or an emergency communications system such as OnStar. The really bad news is that the radio is not a standard design and can't be replaced unless you go to a custom car shop.

Safety is the Prius's strong suit with air bags up front as well as front and rear-side curtain bags. All told, it scores impressive five- and four-star ratings for the driver and passenger, respectively, and a four-star rollover rating. Should you be in an accident, the Prius has been designed to crumple on impact, and it has a black-box crash recorder that saves data on speed, braking, seat belts, and more. In addition to the car's three-year/36,000-mile warranty, the hybrid parts are covered for six years or 60,000 miles and three years of roadside assistance--appropriate for a hybrid, although Honda covers parts for eight years. Toyota's Web site has a lot of information for Prius owners, including specs, technology primers, FAQs, and even an application that tells you what service is needed. While the era of the backyard mechanic has gone the way of dollar-a-gallon gas, Toyota offers service manuals at reasonable prices and runs a 24-hour toll-free help line. We took the support service out for our own spin, and after about a minute on hold, a technician answered our question correctly.

Friday, September 16, 2005

First view of BMW 530d

If i was 35years old i would certanly have one of those!
What a luxurious car, or limousine as you may call it!
That powerfull, torquy engine gives 204bhp to the rear wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelsss and it's so fun to drive and...When you transport your family if feels like you living room in a car version.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Honda Civic Hybrid

Rather than start from scratch to create an all-new hybrid vehicle as Toyota did with the Prius, Honda took a more conservative route by hybridizing its popular Civic. The company added an electric motor to a downsized version of the Civic's drivetrain to create a mild hybrid that's kinder to the environment. But after putting hundreds of miles on a Civic Hybrid, we think Honda would have done better by starting with a blank slate. True, the Civic Hybrid goes farther on a gallon of gas than its nonhybrid version, but it's slow and, in most areas, comes in a distant second to the Toyota Prius. With a price of $19,900 ($20,415 delivered), the Civic Hybrid with a five-speed manual transmission costs $6,000 more than an entry-level Civic but comes in at about $1,000 less than the Toyota Prius's base price.

The driving force behind Honda's hybrids--Civic, Accord, and Insight--is a technology called integrated motor assist (IMA), wherein a small electric motor gives the car's 1.3-liter gasoline engine a little help. It's different from a full hybrid power train; unlike the Prius--which has two power plants (gas and electric) that work alone or together--the Civic's gas engine is the star, and the electric motor is a supporting actor who occasionally takes the stage. In other words, the motor is as an electric turbocharger that boosts the Civic's gas engine from 85 horsepower to 93 horsepower when needed.

When you take the car out of gear at a stoplight, the engine shuts itself off to save gas. As soon as you press the clutch, it calmly comes back to life, and you're ready to go. On hills or when accelerating, the electric assist smoothly comes online to give the engine a little boost, and the drivetrain acts like a generator to charge the battery pack during braking. The whole IMA process is seamless and barely perceptible to the driver. Plus, the nice mix of analog and digital gauges that reside behind the steering wheel shows you not only the basics but how much battery assist you're getting, whether the battery is charging, and its charge level. This superb blue-backlit instrument panel is much better for a quick glance than the Prius's video-game-like screen.

The IMA concept seems straightforward and sensible on paper, but on the road, the Civic's gas engine doesn't produce enough torque at low engine speeds, even with the assistance of the electric motor. As a result, to get going, you have to gun the engine and gingerly slip the clutch pedal of the five-speed transmission out so as not to stall it. The Civic's engine freely revs to its 6,000rpm redline and has a throaty exhaust note that will thrill car buffs, especially compared to the Prius's quiet efficiency. The Civic Hybrid can get to 60 miles per hour with a little wheel spin in a leisurely 12.1 seconds--1.8 seconds slower than the Prius--but compensates by being able to go from 30mph to 50mph in 4.9 seconds (the Prius took 7 seconds). Its MacPherson strut front and double wishbone rear suspension hug the road, but at 60mph, the car registers an annoyingly loud 75dBA (decibels adjusted), with a lot of road noise transferred into the cabin. Equipped with rear drum brakes, the Civic stops in just 135 feet from 60mph, a good 20 feet shorter than the Prius, which can be the difference between an accident and driving away. Our real-world fuel economy test yielded 41.6mpg, much better than the standard Civic, which is rated for 36mpg and 44mpg (city and highway, respectively) by the Environmental Protection Agency, but well off the pace set by the Prius; the Prius can go for a 550-mile journey on a tank of fuel. Honda also makes a model with an electronically controlled continuous variable automatic transmission that better uses the engine's available torque, but it's even slower and eats up 4mpg of the hybrid fuel economy advantage.

The 2,750-pound Civic is rated as a compact car by the EPA, and despite weighing 100 pounds less than the Prius, the Civic Hybrid is actually slightly longer than its Toyota counterpart. Since the Civic sedan has a trunk, it can't hold as much as the Prius hatchback, particularly because the hybrid batteries reside in the back--thus, you can't fold the rear seats flat. Still, there's room for five adults to ride in moderate comfort. The car's upright design can't touch the Prius's sleek aerodynamics, but it doesn't look out of place among traditional cars and has a better line of sight than the Prius, which makes for more confident driving and parking. In spite of a nice cruise-control system with handy steering wheel adjustments, the Civic is greatly lacking in creature comforts and expansion options. There's an optional six-disc CD player, but the stock radio and single-CD player in our test model sounded tinny and harsh. If this is your car of choice, our advice is to have a car tuner graft on custom entertainment and navigation equipment. That said, there aren't too many more options--no satellite radio, DVD player, or emergency communications system, such as OnStar. Honda doesn't even offer a GPS navigation computer or a Bluetooth cell phone kit, both of which you can get with Toyota.

The Civic Hybrid is tops in the safety department. It has air bags stashed in the steering wheel, the dashboard, and the sides of the front seats. They are smart enough to inflate based on the severity of the accident, and the side-impact bags use sensors in the seats to monitor the size and position of the occupant; they won't deploy for a child or a small adult who could be injured by the inflating bag. The car's front and rear have been designed to crumple on impact, and the car has achieved five-star ratings for both the driver and passenger on frontal impact as well as four stars on side impact and rollover protection.

The Honda Civic Hybrid is covered by a three-year/36,000-mile warranty, augmented by an eight-year/80,000-mile extension on the hybrid parts, two years longer than Prius's extended warranty. Honda's Web site provides all the basic information such as specs, FAQs, and explanations on how the hybrid works, but it goes a step further with Owner Link. This secure minisite can tell you about the car's maintenance requirements, how to keep it running like new, and how to get parts, and it provides a link to the nearest dealer for extra help. Honda also has a 24-hour toll-free support line; in our tests, a technician was available in less than a minute and correctly answered our question about the car.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Fiat Punto

The first generation of the Punto Fiat appears in 1993, second is born in 1999, being I coat for the last time has about one year and way. The third generation of the Punto will go to be available in the chasses of 3 and 5 doors, have a bold image, being well-known the influences of the "older brother" Chrome, and the increase of its dimensions. Its compact aspect, the enormous vidradas surfaces, the front lighthouses in almond form, and new logótipo in the back (where ` P ' of Punto remembers a person in conduction position), is some of the distinguishing characteristics of the new model. As we know, also its rivals Renault Clio and Toyota Yaris see developed its platforms and consequentes interior quotas, in favor of a superior habitability. The Auto Fiat did not disponibilizou photos of the interior of the new model but, certainly the quality of the materials will have been reviewed, and, the Italian style and the porting environment certainly will on board not be forgotten.
For Punto III, the appositive transalpina mark in five motorizations, two the gasoline and the three gasóleo, folloied for four equipment levels. Block 1,2 starts to debit 65 CV, while the great newness is the estreia of new block 1,4 of 77 CV. Later, in the case of the engines diesel, known the 1,3 Multijet will be commercialized with the power of 75 and 90 CV, while most powerful Multijet of 120 CV is the 1,9.
In one second phase, in the 2006 end, an engine 1,6 Multijet of 100 CV is waited, while the version Punto GT will receive the Abarth assignment and a propellant with a power next to 180 CV.
E if in terms of engines exists some new features of weight, constructed Punto III in the plant of Melfi, where also the Lancia Ypsilon is constructed, it bets everything in obtaining good results in the EuroNCAP tests, and, clearly, in being vendido the concorrenciais prices. The Fiat has notion of the importance that this model has for its current accounts.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

New Mini

BMW got the resurrection of the Mini right. Being a third larger than the original, this thoroughly modern Mini could hardly be a slavish copy of that Issigonis-designed vehicle in which everyone from rock stars to the Royal Family (all behind darkened windows) darted about London in the swinging '60s of the century past. Nonetheless, designer Frank Stephenson caught the sassy, can-do attitude of the first Mini and made the new one a striking statement in style when it was introduced in 2002 as well as an e-ticket carnival ride. Not to mention a serious vehicle that can tote more than seems likely, can dry out wet pavement with its excellent handling and can stimulate more smiles than a precocious three-year-old at a grown-up party.

And that's just the Mini Cooper. The Mini Cooper S is even more fun with its higher levels of performance, though you're hardly "settling" with the base model.

In both models the Mini Cooper delivers sports car handling and acceleration. It offers the cargo convenience of a hatchback and decent passenger seating for four, all stuffed into the shortest footprint on the road. It's a high-quality piece with BMW engineering, as solid as any German sedan. Its retro styling is as endearing as a bulldog (which inspired the design).

Furthermore, with its multitude of passive and active safety systems, the Mini Cooper has been called the safest small car on the world's highways. All this starts for less than $17,000.

That's if you can find one. The reception of the new Mini has exceeded expectations. The number of BMW dealers who sell the Mini is being expanded, however, though slowly and meticulously to assure, BMW says, that its standards continue to be met. For the same reason, changes since 2002 have been incremental, refinements and added options more than anything.

For 2005, however, Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper S are available as convertibles. All models get a few interior enhancements for 2005, including new interior lighting, storage space and new trim options. Revised headlamps and tail lamps and a new grille subtly freshen the looks of the 2005 Mini. The Cooper and Cooper S get new manual gearboxes with revised gearing for improved acceleration, and the S gets a slight bump in power to 168 horsepower.