Saturday, July 14, 2012

Nissan Invitation Concept, 2012

  •  Nissan Invitation Concept, 2012

The Nissan has revealed the first details of a head-turning hatchback concept which previews the company's next generation compact car, a mainstream B-segment contender to be sold alongside the Micra city car and innovative JUKE B-segment crossover.

Called Invitation, the dynamic concept shows some of the innovation and excitement promised for the new model, which is due to be launched in Europe from 2013.

Design dynamism
Nissan Invitation is an energetic design, bringing fresh style, innovation and excitement to the mainstream market. The clean fluidity of the silhouette hints at its dynamic potential and showcases class-leading aerodynamics for enhanced efficiency.

The side of the car is dominated by a distinctive character line, namely the 'Squash Line', which adds a powerful dynamism to its profile with distinctive sculpted front and rear design giving Invitation a confident stance.

Inside, a refreshingly open cabin combines practicality and modernity with impressive levels of quality and purposeful technology features.

Fran├žois Bancon, Deputy Division General Manager of Product Strategy and Product Planning Division, said: "The name we have given to this concept is self-explanatory... the key benefit of this compact car is to be inviting.

Class-leading performance and efficiency
Combining advanced engine technology, Nissan's acclaimed lightweight platform and an aerodynamically efficient body mean Invitation achieves class-leading levels of fuel efficiency and emissions. Nissan is aiming for an ultra-low CO2 emission target of under 100g/km for the best model and with all versions eligible to wear Nissan's PURE DRIVE badge.

At the same time, responsive agile handling will ensure that when it comes to driving dynamics, Nissan Invitation will compete with the top performers in the segment.

Like the new Micra, Invitation uses Nissan's new light-weight V-platform, which has been engineered to deliver optimum rigidity for excellent handling characteristics coupled with a refined ride, but at the lowest possible weight for enhanced performance, strong fuel efficiency and low emissions.

The suspension layout sees an independent front end by MacPherson struts with coil springs and a compact torsion beam rear axle designed to minimise intrusion into the luggage area. Both suspension systems are mounted on sub frames to help isolate road noise, vibration and harshness. Invitation's has overall dimensions of 4150mm in length, 1740 mm in width and it's 1470mm tall

Advanced safety technology
But Nissan Invitation is more than just a great looking car that's fun and frugal to drive. The concept packs some of the most advanced technology ever seen in the B-segment, all of which is designed to help drivers to be safe..

Among the features is Nissan's advanced Around View Monitor (AVM) safety technology - seen for the first time on a B segment car - which makes reversing and parallel parking as stress-free as possible. In addition, Invitation also incorporates Nissan Safety Shield Technologies, which interact with the driving environment keeping the driver aware of what is happening around the car.

Invitation's combination of energetic exterior style, thoughtful interior, advanced safety features and class-leading emissions, fuel economy and dynamic performance demonstrates Nissan's commitment to offering innovation and excitement to all car buyers, no matter what type of car they are looking to buy.
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Friday, July 13, 2012

Lancia Stratos Concept, 2010

  •  Lancia Stratos Concept, 2010

The legendary Lancia Stratos HF was without a doubt the most spectacular and successful rally car of the 70s. With its thrilling lines and uncompromising design tailored to rally use, the Lancia Stratos not only single-handedly rewrote the history of rallying, it won a permanent place in the hearts of its countless fans with its dramatic performance on the world's asphalt and gravel tracks - a performance which included three successive world championship titles.

For Michael Stoschek, a collector and driver of historic racing cars, as well as a successful entrepreneur in the automotive supply industry, the development and construction of a modern version of the Lancia Stratos represents the fulfillment of a long-held dream. Back in 2003, the dream had already begun to take on a concrete form; now, at last, it has become a reality.

In November 2010, forty years after the Stratos' presentation at the Turin Motor Show, the New Stratos was publicly presented for the first time at the Paul Ricard Circuit - the legend returns.

A retrospective.
It all began in 1970, at the Turin exhibition stand of the automobile designer, Bertone. The extreme Stratos study on display there - a stylistic masterpiece by the designer Marcello Gandini - didn't just excite visitors, but caught the attention of Cesare Fiorio, Lancia's team manager at the time… and refused to let go.

Just one year later, the Lancia Stratos assumed its final form when the midmounted V4 engine from the Lancia Fulvia was replaced by the significantly more powerful Ferrari Dino V6 engine. The road version of this "flounder" was just 1.08 meters high, mounted on a short steel chassis, and its aerodynamically sophisticated body was molded from reinforced fiberglass. The Lancia Stratos' low weight, ideal weight distribution and excellent dynamics provided the optimum conditions for spectacular performance on the international rally tracks, which at the time were still dominated by Alpine and Porsche. However, the results were not so immediately gratifying.

It was only when Lancia works driver Sandro Munari and British Formula 1 driver Mike Parkes got behind the wheel of the ruthless driving machine that success finally materialized. And it did so at lightning speed: in 1973 Sandro Munari took home the first victory for the Lancia Stratos HF, and the victories just kept coming in throughout 1974. By the end of 1976, the Lancia Stratos had pulled off a hat trick, winning three World Cup titles in a row.

The Italian "flying wedge" also enjoyed success beyond its works deployment: top driver Bernard Darniche brought home an incredible 41 victories in his Lancia Stratos - the majority of them for the private team, Chardonnet of France.

The Fiat group's dramatic reduction of the Lancia racing budget in 1979, in favor of the Fiat 131 Abarth, was the death knell for the Stratos works team. From then on, only dedicated private teams took to the track competing against works cars - as in the 1981 Monte Carlo Rally.

Even today, there's hardly any other vehicle that excites audiences at worldwide motor sport events like the Lancia Stratos. Michael and Maximilian Stoschek have also shared in this enthusiasm for many years - not, however, as spectators, but as active motor sports enthusiasts - and they have made the creation of a modern interpretation of this legendary automobile their goal.

The project initiators.
The contemporary New Stratos is a non-commercial project by Michael Stoschek and his son Maximilian Stoschek. Together, they played a fundamental role in determining the technical concept and design of the one-off vehicle. Construction of the car has been underway since autumn 2008, at Pininfarina in Turin, Italy.

A keen sportsman, Stoschek won the Carrera Panamericana in 1999, 2001 and 2004, and the 2006 FIA European Rally Championship, driving a 1971 Porsche 911 in both races. The Lancia Stratos Group 4 has a special place amongst the historic rally cars that Stoschek employs for rallies and hillclimbing. Sporting a Marlboro design, the vehicle has been restored over more than a decade, according to the specifications of the 1974 Tour de Corse Andruet/Biche works car.

The decision to develop and build a new, ready-to-run Stratos was inspired by a meeting with Chris Hrabalek, with whom Michael Stoschek became acquainted at the 1986 World Stratos meeting organized in Alta Badia by Stoschek. This was also the impetus behind Stoschek's involvement in the Fenomenon Stratos project, presented at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show, as well as his co-acquisition of the Stratos trademark rights.

In September 2008, Michael and his son Maximilian Stoschek commissioned Pininfarina to build a one-off vehicle. Currently, the New Stratos is one of a kind. Michael and Maximilian Stoschek hold all rights to the vehicle as well as ownership of the tools. Production of an exclusive, limited run under their license is planned.

Design as challenge.
Classic products remain forever style icons. Bertone's Lancia Stratos, with its avant-garde design, is as inimitable now as ever. A modern interpretation of such a classic presents a particular challenge for a designer. It can be difficult to find the right balance between the problem of, on the one hand, drawing too much from the original and, on the other, departing too much from the initial concept.

The design of the New Stratos' body and interior was devised in constant consultation between the clients, Chris Hrabalek and his staff, as well as renowned car designers such as Luca Borgogno, from Pininfarina.

Stoschek himself specified that, "because the design of the Lancia Stratos was characterized by the contrast between round and rectilinear elements, I wanted to see that tension to be carried over into the New Stratos as well."

The assignment was to find a contemporary interpretation of all the quintessential design characteristics of the Lancia Stratos; distinctive features such as the wedge-shaped body, the semi-circular windshield, the striking front end with its central radiator, the rear end with the round tail lights, the roof and rear spoiler and the five-star rims.

After the design direction had been defined, a number of steps were necessary to make the New Stratos a fully-functioning, road-ready sports car. This complex and comprehensive process included not only the production of a prototype, but also the overall development of the car via mathematical modeling, design implementation and verification of each individual component up until the wind tunnel test.

Development of the New Stratos throughout the entire design phase proceeded in conjunction with tests in the Pininfarina wind tunnel - first, in order to validate the basic shape of the car, then, during the last test phase, to refine the aerodynamic details.

Among other things, the body was configured to different height values and pitches, and the effect of these on the perfect balance of the contact pressure between the front and rear axles was measured on the wind tunnel's "rolling road", at speeds between 140 and 200 km/h. The effect of different types of front, roof and rear spoilers on the front and rear downforce was extensively studied and resulted in the current design. Furthermore, various spoiler lips were tested on the underbody, in order to increase the downforce on the front axle. The efficiency of the air intakes and outlets, the cooling system forward of the engine and the brakes were optimized using flow visualization techniques and pressure measurements.

Engineering the New Stratos.
The goal for the development of the Lancia Stratos HF's successor was to once again create a mid-engine sports car with a short wheelbase, low weight and superior agility.

Just as the Lancia Stratos, with its Ferrari Dino V6 engine, was nevertheless a distinct sports car in its own right, the New Stratos is also a distinct development, using components of the Ferrari 430 Scuderia. Almost all of these components have been modified and, as necessary, customized to their new purpose. However, it should also be emphasized that the Ferrari Scuderia already sets the standard amongst the current super sports cars and, as such, provides an excellent basis for further development.

The aluminum chassis was shortened by 20cm and welded to a roll cage made of 40mm-thick FIA FE45 steel. This method significantly increases rigidity, and this, combined with the shifting of the center of gravity towards the front, provides the basis for the vehicle's extraordinary handling characteristics. Both the body - which is 33cm shorter than the Scuderia's - and the interior are constructed entirely of carbon fiber and aluminum. All of the body components of the shell and interior are made of visible carbon. This places especially high demands on the quality of the processing, which was accomplished by Re Fraschini.

The centerpiece of the New Stratos is the 4.3L, light alloy V8 engine from the Ferrari F430 Scuderia, which accelerates the high tech sports car to a speed of 200 km/h in 9.7 seconds. The high performance engine which draws its intake air from the roof spoiler's side openings, has been equipped with a new control unit and a high-performance exhaust system by Capristo, including manifold and sports cat exhaust system; it delivers 540 hp and provides a torque of over 500 Nm.

The sequential 6-speed transmission received a new mechanical Drexler differential lock, and the modified control electronics now allow for extremely fast gear changes.

The chassis was completely reengineered by the ZF Sachs engineers, including integration of new electronic damper calibration, adjustable via the steering wheel, modified springs and optimized camber and toe values. The 9 and 11-inch wide by 19-inch center lock wheels are fitted with Dunlop Sport Maxx tires, sizes 265/30/19 and 315/30/19.

To fully reap the benefits of the lightweight, torsionally stiff, well-balanced vehicle, the height, camber, toe and caster were changed completely, and, above all, the whole setup.

To this end, stiffer suspension springs were employed alongside new damper calibration with greater differentiation of damper stiffness, adjustable via the steering wheel, as well as an optimum wheel/tire combination identified via testing of various tire brands, sizes and rubber composites.

The Brose-sponsored, Portuguese WTCC and former Formula 1 driver, Tiago Monteiro, was instrumental in the chassis development, working in close collaboration with the engineers from ZF Sachs.

The Brembo brake systems, comprised of 398mm-diameter ceramic discs and 6-piston calipers at the front axle, and 350mm-diameter and 4-piston calipers at the rear axle, are equipped with Brembo racing brake pads and steel flex lines.
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Toyota Prius V, 2012

  •  Toyota Prius V, 2012

The new Toyota Prius V, with "v" expressing the vehicle's versatility, will meet the needs of growing families with active lifestyles while providing the same attributes traditionally found in the Prius DNA. It will share the current generation Prius' platform and Hybrid Synergy Drive technology. Featuring a compact exterior yet spacious interior, the Toyota Prius V will feature over 50-percent more interior cargo space than the current Prius.

With a balance between outstanding spaciousness, refined style, and smooth aerodynamics, Toyota Prius V has a low 0.29 coefficient of drag, which does not inhibit the vehicle's convenient packaging. It is a new vehicle designed from the ground up, with a shape that evolved from Prius rather than being an elongated version.

The exterior styling is sleek, rounded and bold, with an extended roofline that allows the vehicle to retain the triangular silhouette symbolic of Prius. The trapezoidal-shaped front features sharp-edged headlamps, wind-slipping aero corners for improved aerodynamics and an enlarged under grille, which all help create a unique design evolving from the current Prius. Toyota Prius V's rear styling is highlighted by a refined backdoor panel, intricate combination taillights and a specially designed roof spoiler that improves air flow.

Inside, the Toyota Prius V emphasizes overall proportion with spaciousness and flexibility for active families. Comfortable interior space and good visibility has been assisted by a high seating position, ample head room, and an impressive 38-inch couple distance, providing generous rear legroom. A low, wide-opening rear hatch reveals 34.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, making it the most spacious dedicated hybrid vehicle on the market and better than some compact SUVs.

Comfortable seating for five is specifically designed for young families. Sliding second row seats allow for easier ingress and egress and rear-storage flexibility, with a 45-degree recline for greater comfort. The 60/40 split, folding rear seats present four different seat arrangements that provide excellent usability for passengers and luggage, while a fold-flat front-passenger seat allows for extremely long cargo.

Also available, and a Toyota-first, is a resin Panoramic View moonroof with power retractable sun shades that provides an open atmosphere in the cabin with a 40-percent reduction in weight as compared to conventional glass roofs of the same size, and excellent heat insulation performance.

Up front, instrument-panel controls, including a single-dial air-conditioning control and a center-mounted digital combination meter, provide an advanced look and user-friendly command. The driving controls - including the Push Button Start, parking switch, electronic shift lever, and driving mode selection - are distinguished by silver trim.

Despite the spaciousness of a family friendly midsize vehicle, the Toyota Prius V will deliver estimated EPA fuel economy ratings of 42 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 40 mpg combined, the best fuel economy ratings of any SUV, crossover, or wagon on the market. It will also emit 66-percent fewer smog-forming emissions than the average new vehicle.

Like the current generation Prius, the Toyota Prius V is a showcase of technology that will include many of the same standard features. Four driving modes (Normal, Power, Eco and EV) satisfy a variety of road conditions and driver preferences. A Smart Key System with Push Button Start, an electronic shift lever, Hill Start Assist Control (HAC), and a back-up camera are standard. Available options include energy-efficient LED headlamps, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with a Pre-Collision System (PCS), and Advanced Parking Guidance System.

For a high level of safety, there are seven airbags, a high-strength cabin and an energy-absorbing body structure with impact beams, cross members and leg absorption pads. New driver and front-passenger seat design helps lessen possible whiplash injury during a collision.

Like all Toyota models, the Prius V will feature Toyota's Star Safety System™ standard, which includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. It also features the standard Smart Stop Technology brake-override system.

Toyota Prius V will be one of the first Toyotas with the Entune™ multimedia system. For the first time ever in an automobile, this innovative new system leverages the mobile phone to provide a richer in-vehicle experience with fully integrated and wireless upgradeable navigation, entertainment and information services.

Toyota Entune debuts the first-ever support for engaging mobile apps, such as Bing, OpenTable, and, along with accessing useful travel-related services, such as live weather, traffic, fuel information (location and price), stocks, news and sports.

Toyota Entune brings the largest selection of music options available to a vehicle, including iheartradio's 750+ stations, Pandora's personalized music, the driver's personal songs from portable media players and iPods (via USB or Bluetooth audio streaming), and more than 170 stations from XM satellite radio.

Featuring a best-in-class, advanced conversational voice recognition system that helps the driver to stay focused on the road, Toyota Entune eliminates the need to memorize thousands of voice commands and helps reduce driver distraction.

Entune will also allow for audio read-back and replay capabilities for text messages, with the ability to respond by pre-set "Quick Reply Messages."

Toyota Prius V will combine Entune with a standard Display Audio system rich with dynamic entertainment and communication features. The system will include HD Radio with iTunes tagging for future purchase; XM radio, weather, sports, stocks and local fuel pricing; Bluetooth hands-free phone and wireless audio; and full iPod integration including music and video.

A new evolution in hybrid vehicles with excellent cargo space and Prius' heritage of environmental performance and fuel economy, the 2012 Prius V will go on sale in late summer 2011.
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