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BACK SEAT DRIVING - MARCH 2009

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Thu, Mar 5, 2009

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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HOT WIRES For hot and tender news wires on the car culture, see LA Car's Hot Wires For its R8, Audi plays the race card The European Fords are coming! Men have cleaner cars The next advancement in mobile satellite TV Is there a second 2010 Prius for the USA? Car clubs honored for community service  

 

 

That's the race version on the left 

NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING For the first time, Audi Sport will offer a racing sports car specifically developed for customer use in the form of the powerful 500 hp plus GT3 version of the Audi R8 which will be available from autumn 2009. The logistics and factory space required for the AUDI AG customer programme will be created over the next few months in Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm and Györ. "The R8 is the first production Audi bearing the name and genes of a successful racing sportscar and is therefore an excellent base from which to build up our first big customer sport programme," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "Ever since the R8 was unveiled we've been inundated with enquiries about a race version. With the Audi R8 we will offer customers a racing sportscar equipped with high-calibre technology and the typical Audi qualities, but which is nevertheless easy to handle." The Audi R8 conforms to the production-based GT3 regulations allowing the car to be fielded in numerous national and international race series. Because the GT3 regulations prohibit the use of four-wheel drive the Audi R8 comes with the typical GT rear-wheel drive. The power is transmitted via a newly developed six-speed sequential sports gearbox. The suspension uses almost exclusively components from the production line. A comprehensive list of safety equipment guarantees the highest-level of passive safety. A modified front end and a large rear-wing generate the required downforce for the race track. The Audi R8, which bears the project name "R16" within Audi Sport, was developed under the direction of Audi Sport. Mid August, the first prototype successfully completed a roll-out in the hands of Audi factory driver Frank Biela. The first test races in various European racing series are scheduled for the 2009 season. Delivery to the customers is planned from the autumn of this year. The customer cars are manufactured together by Audi Sport and the quattro GmbH, which is also responsible for production of the Audi R8 street version, and Audi Hungaria Motor Kft. (Györ).      

 

 

 

 

 

NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING THE EUROPEAN FORDS ARE COMING! In an earlier entry in Back Seat Driving, I gave seven reasons why Ford has the best chance of surviving the current automotive crisis among all the USA-based car companies. Reason No. 7 is the anticipation of several new, small offerings from Ford of Europe. Among the possible offerings are the new Fiesta, C-MAX and S-MAX. One exceptionally appealing potential offering has just rolled off of the assembly line at Ford of Europe's Saarlouis plant in Germany. It's the newest version of the never-in-America Focus RS, and there is heavy speculation that the car will be built in the USA alongside the European version of the non-RS Focus.

The RS was created by a small team of engineers, under the direction of Jost Capito, Ford of Europe's Vehicle Line Director for Performance Vehicles. For performance road car enthusiasts, the new model marks a welcome return for the Ford RS badge. This will be the second Focus model to carry the RS mantle. The RS lineage spans 40 years, beginning in Germany in the late 1960s and gained momentum across Europe with the launch of the 1970 Escort RS1600. "We want the new Focus RS to be a serious high performance car - as much a car for driving enthusiasts as the one before it and classic Ford RS models of the past" says Capito. "We're staying true to the core RS principles of an exciting, yet affordable performance road car you can live with every day."

At the heart of the all-new Focus RS is a specially developed, turbocharged version of the Duratec 2.5-litre 5-cylinder engine. Significantly revised for high performance, this powerplant is targeting an impressive power output of 300PS and over 410Nm of torque. Early performance testing indicates a 0-100km/h (0-62mph) time of under six seconds. "The Ford Focus is an excellent base for a high performance car - agile, responsive and stable" explained Capito. "We studied at length how best to enhance these qualities for a high performance model. As you would expect, we gave all-wheel-drive careful consideration, but by combining and tuning these elements and learning from Ford's expertise in industry-leading handling, we have managed to eliminate the weight of AWD from the car and still have been able to target a class-leading balance of traction, handling and performance."

The new Ford Focus RS will soon be available in more than 20 European countries including Russia, with the UK, Switzerland and Germany expected to be the highest volume markets. Ford has not announced whether the Focus RS will make its way Stateside. - Roy Nakano      

 

 

 

 

NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING MEN HAVE CLEANER CARS LeaseTrader.com released the results of its Spring Cleaning Clean Car Survey, with Audi A6 drivers having the cleanest cars in America. The online survey of more than 2,000 also found that Honda Accord drivers have the most clutter in their vehicles. To acknowledge the annual "Spring Cleaning" season, LeaseTrader.com polled customers and asked drivers of each major vehicle brand a series of questions relating to the amount of clutter found in their vehicle at any given time, as well as the frequency and time in between cleanings of the exterior and interior of their cars. Minivan and SUV drivers were not included since these vehicles are more often used for families that have a higher propensity for clutter. Other points of interest:

  • Survey taken by an equal amount of men and women across all car models.
  • 35 percent of men claim they wash their car once every two weeks; 22 percent for women.
  • Majority of men claim to have "a few extra papers and limited household items" for car clutter.
  • Majority of women have "multiple household items, makeup and paperwork" for car clutter.
  • Household items" for this survey include pens, CDs, snacks, etc.

Top five cleanest vehicles today in America:

  1. Audi A6
  2. BMW 5 Series
  3. Mercedes C Class
  4. Infinity M35X
  5. Lexus ES

About LeaseTrader.com LeaseTrader.com matches car shoppers with individuals looking to escape their auto lease. For more information visit www.leasetrader.com.      

 

 

 

 

RaySat satellite TV unit on a Grand Cherokee 

FUHRMANN: BACK SEAT DRIVING THE TRANSFORMER OF SATELLITE TV The Next Advancement in Mobile Satellite TV Has Arrived Remember the original cell phones that were about the size of the WWII communication backpacks to send in air support? Thank heavens the yesteryear monstrosities have been replaced with some cell phones as small as a credit card and with more bells and whistles than NASA's Space Shuttles. In a similar context, has anyone ever had a satellite TV system that mounted to the rooftop of your car or SUV that weighed about 50 pounds, grotesque and only received a few channels? As with cell phones, the latest creation in satellite TV for the automotive industry is wonderfully small, and weighing only three pounds. With circular dimensions of 1.3L x 10.3W x 4.3H, it will be barely noticed wherever mounted on your vehicle. And how is this satellite antenna attached to the rooftop of an auto? A magnet attaches the satellite antenna. No drilled holes in your car or super glue, just a very strong magnet. What is this cool innovated satellite antenna? It's from a privately held Dallas based company known as RaySat Broadcasting Corporation - a company with the goal to bring state of the art automotive entertainment to the market via its partnership with AT&T CruiseCast. The great technology with AT&T's CruisCraft is the unlimited ability to add channels to the network. With buffering technology, the signals are less frequently lost when going through tunnels and around buildings. And to keep the kids busy for those long trips, there will be 22 channels of satellite TV and 20 satellite radio stations to be available in the spring of this year. More channels, including HBO and other premium channels are anticipated. AT&T and RaySat are a strong combination of inspiring people. By having the right people backing this state-of-the-art enterprise, it helps to bring confidence to all markets. Avis Budget Group, we learn, will be providing Satellite TV from RaySat to rental cars. Hopefully, this technology will soon be an OEM option when you buy your new car, truck or SUV. The possibilities seem unlimited for this combined synergy between AT&T CruiseCast and RaySat Broadcasting. I look forward to seeing where these companies take the automotive entertainment world in the near future. - Kurt Fuhrmann For more information please see www.cruisecast.com For more information about Raysat, go to www.raysat.com      

 

 

 

 

In Japan, a second 2010 Prius revealed 

NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING A SECOND 2010 PRIUS In Japan, Gen 2 Becomes 2010, Take Two     Sales of Honda's new Insight has been strong in Japan. The low price of Honda's five-door hybrid sedan has been particularly attractive to car-buyers. In response, Toyota has decided to continue selling the current second-generation Prius as a lower priced alternative to the new, third-generation Prius. This second 2010 Prius will compete head-on price-wise with the new Insight. So, why would anyone want to buy Toyota's five-year old design over the new Insight? For one, the second-generation Prius still gets better gas mileage. Second, it offers more room. Last, but not least, it's a full hybrid, with the ability to accelerate from a standing start in full electric mode. A Toyota representative acknowledged that a similar proposal is being considered in the USA, but a final decision is pending. The idea of selling a previous generation model alongside the current generation model is not far fetched. Volkswagen decided to sell freshened versions of the Mark IV Golf and Jetta alongside the Mark V versions in Canada. The older cars go by the name City, and account for a significant percentage of VW sales in Canada. - Roy Nakano    

 

 

 

 

ALEX LITROV: BACK SEAT DRIVING FLYING LIKE AN EAGLE Eagle One Honors Four Car Clubs For Outstanding Community Service Programs For the past 16 years Eagle One's Golden Rule Awards have confirmed that there is more to car clubs than cars. The driving force for most clubs is providing great support to community and charitable causes. Car clubs in four regions of the U.S. have been selected winners of the coveted Eagle One Golden Rule Awards for conducting the most outstanding community service program in their region during 2008. Winning clubs were: West: Rogue Valley Street Rods, Medford, OR; Midwest: Southern Cruzers, Lakeview, MN; East: Corvette Club of Delaware Valley, Philadelphia, PA; South: Victory 7 Mustang Club, Richmond, VA. The Victory 7 Mustang Club was selected as the Grand Prize winner, an honor accorded for performing the most compassionate achievement among the four winners. The club organized a Back To School Rally at which 10,000 K-12th grade students were provided with note books, paper, book bags and other educational material. It also organized a Cancer Prevention Health Screening for 800 men. In recognition of their achievements, Eagle One and co-sponsor Valvoline will make a combined donation of $1,500 to a favorite charity of the Victory 7 club. A donation of $500 will be made to a favorite charity of each of the three other winners. In addition to the cash donations, each club will receive a custom-designed award and a generous supply of Eagle One appearance care products and Valvoline products for fund-raising events. Eagle One is a member of the Valvoline family of brands. "Eagle One has been proud to recognize and reward club clubs for the outstanding work they perform in their community while actively engaged in the preservation of one of our country's greatest heritages, the automobile," said Lorna Willis, Eagle One brand manager. - Alex Litrov    

 

 

 

A JOURNAL OF LOS ANGELES & ITS CAR CULTURE

LA Car

That was LA Car's subtitle when it started back in 1997. It's original website address was about five times the size of lacar.com. Since then, La Car became LA Car. Its subtitle became Reporting From Car Culture Ground Zero, then From The Heart of Car Culture, to today's The Cars and Culture of Southern California. At all times, however, we aimed to chronicle the Southland's automotive spirit - much like one's own journal or diary. LA Car has always been a great source to come back to from week-to-week, to see what articles and reviews have been added to our rather staggering database. With Back Seat Driving, a.k.a. BSD (note the similarity to two well-worn abbreviations, BS and BFD) and Hot Wires - Hot & Tender News From the Car Culture (co-located with Back Seat Driving, and updated at least daily), we give you some reasons to come back more often (all opinions, by the way, are those of the respective author). So, go ahead and bookmark www.lacar.com. We'll be sure to always provide a link to Hot Wires and the latest Back Seat Driving blog entry. In the meantime, welcome to the journal and journey from the heart of the car culture. - Roy Nakano 

For past Blog entries, click the following: February 2008 January 2008 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 July 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 August 2006 July 2006 June 2006 May 2006 April 2006 March 2006 February 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 October 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 May 2005 April 2005 March 2005 February 2005 January 2005 December 2004 November 2004 October 2004 September 2004 August 2004 July 2004 June 2004 May 2004 April 2004

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