Tag Archive | "GM"

Bucking The Trend

These days the trend is increasingly toward cars with small engines and low emissions and they have become the primary considerations when it comes to buying a new car. We, the drivers, are encouraged and cajoled to put our personal preferences to one side and buy the cars we are meant to buy. It has become almost a form of green bullying.

Thankfully there is a small but determined band of enthusiasts out there who still passionately pursue power for power’s sake and require their drive to a bit special and, hopefully, unique. This means that there is still a market for cars that stick their tongues out at accepted thinking and slap the thighs of EU politically biased green-o-crats. One such car is the Vauxhall VXR8 GTS.

This mighty vehicle has been with us for a while but has now undergone a bit of a makeover. In a manly way, obviously. Not content with the addition of a bit more horsepower the company have coaxed an extra 150bhp from the supercharged 6.2L V8 which now delivers an adequate 576 horses and 0-60 in under five seconds. This is essentially the same engine as is found in the recently launched Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

The rear-wheel drive VXR8 GTS is the most powerful car to ever have emerged from the Australian continent; it is made by General Motors and sold under the Holden Special Vehicles badge down under as the Gen-F GTS. The car can be ordered now for delivery at the end of the year and will set the buyer back around £55K. This is peanuts compared to the price of similarly powerful cars from European manufacturers.

At the heart of the engine is an Eaton supercharger rather than a turbo. This apparently provides stronger and more linear performance right across the rev-range and works in conjunction with an array of improvements to the power plant. The new front end of the car is designed to emphasise aggression, width and stance, like a pugnacious boxer. There is, it seems, some 130,000 square millimetres of open frontal surface, which is needed to cool down the beast within.VXR2 Bucking The Trend

The VXR8 sits on twenty inch ‘Blade’ forged alloy wheels and sports a performance spoiler at the back to augment the other aero body parts. Inside, the cabin has undergone changes to make the incumbents as comfy as possible and offer a premium feel that belies the brutal nature hidden beneath. All the expected and latest safety features and gadgetry come almost completely as standard. The bad news is that this is rumoured to be the last of the line. GM are considering – the horror – front wheel drive for the next version. Not the same thing at all.

Technically, this is a car for the outback. The Thunder from Down Under. It is likely to be a bit of a handful on our crowded third world roads but don’t let that stop you though. If you want to buck the trend and go for power, you go right ahead – you little ripper!

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Ford And GM Collaborate On Gearboxes.

Across the pond in the USA – Michigan to be precise – the Ford Motor Company and General Motors have been putting their corporate heads together to come up with a deal to develop a new generation of automatic gearboxes for cars, SUV’s and commercial vehicles. The interesting thing is that these transmissions will have nine or ten ratios and there will be variants for both front and rear-wheel drive. The thinking is that these gearboxes will enhance the search for continuing improvement in both performance and economy in the vehicles of the not too distant future.

The design and engineering work is already underway and builds on the previous collaborations by these automotive giants. This will be the third time in the last ten years that the two companies have worked together on transmissions, most recently on a shared six-speed FWD (pictured) which is found in many of the popular products from both manufacturers. Each company will assemble their own but will use shared components.

This cooperation will help Ford and GM to maximise efficiencies and develop economies of scale – a concept that is increasingly occurring in the motor industry as the new ideas go global. This benefits customers, not only in terms of economy but also in value as sharing technology and parts in this way helps to keep prices competitive and shareholders happy.

The question is – do we need ten speed gearboxes? How many ratios are effective within the limited rev range of the average engine before they all start getting in each others way? Drivers with experience of seven speeds – the VW DSG ’box for example – are finding that, around town at least, they can be a bit irritating as they shift about in auto mode.

Certainly in the wide open spaces and long, straight, empty highways of America a ten-speed might make sense but in the UK and much of Europe we don’t have that luxury. Road and traffic conditions can change dramatically in the space of a few miles on this crowded island and a gearbox that is perpetually hunting around for just the right ratio might begin to grate.

However, few technical details and applications have been revealed to date. Both Ford and General Motors have said that more information will be forthcoming nearer launch time, so we’ll all have to wait and see just how good these transmissions are. Certainly there is no doubt that many of the technological advances made to new cars in recent years have benefited motorists greatly, but is there a limit to how far these advances can go?

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