Rabid Rabbit - ExclusiveWhen Volkswagen decided to bring the Rabbit back into production, they searched through the archives to see what made the Rabbit so popular. In their journey, Neuspeed name came up time and time again. So when it came time to build a concept Rabbit for its debut in the 2006 SEMA show, Neuspeed was the obvious choice as a performance partner. During recent conversations with representatives from the VW camp it was clear that this new Rabbit is not a one off concept, but more of a display of aftermarket parts that will be made readily available to consumers. VW wanted to combine their option-loaded economy base car with performance modifications that could compete with top end luxury cars. They wanted to show that the Rabbit could be transformed into something more than just discount transportation. The new Rabbit concept will be resurrected in the form of a 2007 Rabbit 2-door 2.5L. Its Candy White exterior will be showcased by ghost graphics with a topographical theme, keeping in line with VW's new urban edge design, but with a retro feel.Exterior & InteriorVolkswagen showcases its next evolution in exterior styling with a full body kit comprised of a front bumper, side skirts, rear valance, and roof spoiler. The Rabbit concept will not incorporate the large single frame grill that seems to dominate the current Volkswagen models. The front bumper replacement will utilize a large center opening flanked by matching side openings, giving the vehicle a very aggressive face. The side skirts are simple, straightforward and serve to insure the fluidity of the body line without distracting the eye. The rear bumper has an integrated center diffuser from which a pair of 100mm tail pipes is mounted dead center. This unique center-mounted exhaust design, borrowed from the MK5 R32, adds a distinctive touch normally found only on high-end exotics. Some of the design elements used on the previous generation Rabbit will be kept alive, and, as such, the new Bunny will be fitted with retro-inspired, newly designed one-piece gold anodized 5-spoke mesh wheels in 19x8 inches. The standard Rabbit interior was redecorated in favor of a retro GTI setup with leather sport bolstered seats and centers with checkered tweed. Borrowed from the current GTI line is the 3-spoke leather wrapped flat bottom steering wheel. The interior accents and dash trim are said to be made of unique silver Kevlar, which serves to complement the white faced gauges of the instrument cluster.
Neuspeed's Performance UpgradesNeuspeed has been developing and testing a bolt-on Garrett GT-series ball bearing turbo kit for the 2.5-liter engine. The Neuspeed kit in a low boost configuration is said to run 6psi and when coupled with a Neuspeed front mounted intercooler, fuel injectors and software will bring the car from 150 to 210 bhp. The Bunny's stock brakes will be replaced with Brembo four-piston calipers and 355mm rotors in the front and MK5 R32 310mm in the rear. A set of Bilstein PSS9 coilovers and Neuspeed front and rear swaybars will give the new Rabbit an aggressive stance and superior handling.
DealerPenske AudiThe buzz is getting louder about Penske's new Audi store in West Covina, California. With a grand opening planned for March 2007, it promises to be a great spot to shop for your new Audi or to modify your existing ride. Don't expect the usual "What'll it take to put you in a car today?"-but do expect good things: An in-house independent professional tuning shop with a bevy of wheel and performance options, a stack of free copies of your favorite magazine (european car, of course), and maybe even a slushee machine. Oh, and a lot of smiling faces. With its famous customer handling tradition and a gold standard for honest dealing, you can expect to enjoy a hassle-free experience at Penske's Audi West Covina dealership.www.audiwestcovina.com.
Seat TimeAston Martin VantageA Rip-Snorting, Cultured StallionUntil I drove the V8 Vantage, I never really bought the Aston Martin hype. Sure, the brand has a long and storied history and today produces some of the most dynamic designs on the road. But it is part of struggling Ford Motor, and I had my doubts about the overall package-especially the details therein. Would corners be cut? Would performance really be all that spectacular?
It's not an easy car to drive smoothly, but this is something that actually adds to its character. Despite the surprisingly long gear throws, there is something distinctly satisfying in ramming the lever home then jumping back hard on the throttle. And the noises this 4.3-liter V8 makes are downright scarifying. There aren't many cars that sound this raw, yet so dang right.
Considering it's assembled by hand, I thought the fit and finish were particularly striking. And using the word "striking" to describe the car's styling really only gets half of the job done. I think it's safe to say Aston produces some of the most incredibly aggressive yet visually appealing automobiles on the planet, characteristics stretched across the company's three-model product line.
The real downside is its price. At around $107,000 base, even this baby Aston is unabashedly expensive. You'll get about the same performance as a Porsche 911 for a fairly significant premium. Still, there's the whole matter of exclusivity, something these traditional British brands have been able to carry into the modern era over a lot of their German competition. And, of course, there's the whole "handbuilt in England" thing, if that's the kind of stuff that makes you giddy. -Karl Funke
From The HipFerocious exhaust note, styling both beautiful and bellicoselots of $$$ for this level of performance
2006 Aston Martin V8 VantageLayoutLongitudinal front engine,rear-wheel drive
Engine4.3-liter V8, dohc,four valves per cylinder
PerformancePeak Power: 380 bhp @ 7300 rpmPeak Torque: 302 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm0-60 mph: 4.9 sec.Top Speed: 175 mphFuel Economy: 13 city/19 hwy
Price as Tested: $119,340
Seat TimeAudi A8 4.2Livin' Like The CEO Today I drove myself to work in the lap of luxury, supported by a beautiful lounge-like 16-way adjustable leather driver's seat, and surrounded by an upscale version of Audi's renowned interior design. From this position, one's sight and touch are continuously fed inputs which create a profound state of relaxation and comfort. The interior incorporates a very intuitive and logical layout, expertly finished in high quality leather, alcantara, exotic wood, and brushed aluminum. Tactile senses are satisfied by grasping the leather-wrapped steering wheel or when operating a high quality button or switch for the many features included. Steering provides a sufficient level of feedback from the road surface and varies realistically with speed.
The most endearing aspect, however, is the A8L's ride quality, credited to its long wheelbase (up 5.1 inches from the standard A8's) and dynamic air suspension system. Not only do these attributes create a smooth compliant ride in "comfort" mode, but when set in "dynamic" mode the air suspension delivers firm flat cornering and an (almost) sporting attitude. Slipping Tiptronic into "S" mode affords enhanced engine response and longer, sharper shift points. However, the standard "D" mode is perhaps most fitting to this luxurious vehicle, as it provides near seamless shifts even when pushed. The 4.2-liter V8 provides ample power to propel this 4,400-pound vehicle with authority, refinement and a nicely muffled intake growl, while the famous Quattro all-wheel drive system works invisibly in the background. Progression is slowed or halted by a commendable braking system with superb feel and easy modulation.
In all, it's an impressive all-around package of luxury, space, performance, technology and safety. I guarantee you will feel just like the privileged executive types Audi designed it for, minus the extended job description. -Doug Neilson
From The HipSuper-luxe cabin,huge backseatlegroom Get in that back seat, you'll never leave
2006 Audi A8LayoutLongitudinal front engine,all-wheel drive
Engine4.2-liter V8, dohc,five valves per cylinder
PerformancePeak Power: 335 bhp @ 6500 rpmPeak Torque: 317 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm0-60 mph: 6.3 sec.Top Speed: 130 mph (limited)Fuel Economy: 18 city/24 hwy
Price as Tested: $81,95
Seat Time2006 Volvo C70More Than Meets The EyeThe thirty second process it takes to change this hardtop two-door into a drop-top is so impressive that you'll find yourself singing the Transformers theme song. Inside, it's quiet and comfortable enough for four, making the car almost unidentifiable as a convertible. Outside, the styling is so integrated and subtle that the car looks just like the S40 sedan with two doors and some serious junk in the trunk. That junk is the power-retractable steel hardtop that makes a seemingly boring sedan into a flashy photo-op. The button is pressed, motors whir, and the roof lifts off in three tiers in an exciting disappearing act. It's so impressive you'll want to jump out of the car and ask someone else to push the button, just so you can watch it happen.
Less exciting, but also noteworthy, is Volvo's typical attention to safety. Once the steel is missing from above your head, you can take comfort knowing there's a Rollover Protection System (ROPS) with pop-up rear roll bars, and an improved Side-Impact Protection System (SIPS) to keep you cozy in a roll. If it's just a flat tire, however, remember that the top uses more than half of the trunk space so there's no room for a spare tire. Run-flat tires would be a necessary option.
Of course, with the retractable top comes all the mechanics and reinforcements to make it work. Volvo used the top engine option V50 wagon and S40 sedan, giving the C70 a 2.5-liter inline turbocharged powerplant with 218 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. It doesn't blow your hair back, but priced at $44,075, it sure does as a convertible.-Amanda Savercool
From The Hip A trick power retractable steel hardtopHow long until the top breaks
2006 Volvo 2 Door ConvertibleLayoutFront-wheel drive
Engine2.5 Liter, 5-cylinder, Turbocharged with DOHC variable-valve timing
TransmissionSix-speed manual transmission
PerformancePeak Power: 218 hp @ 5000 rpmPeak Torque: 236 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm0-60 mph: 7.6 sec.Top Speed: 150 mphFuel Economy: 21 city/29 hwy
Price as Tested: $44,075.00
First LookIroc ConceptThe Next VW Sport Coupe?Volkswagen introduced the first Scirocco at the Geneva auto show in 1974 and had an instant classic on its hands. Now, more than 30 years later, the company has finally introduced a probable successor to that distinguished lineage, the IROC concept. Intended as an "attainable dream car" like its predecessor, the IROC incorporates dynamic, progressive styling elements, seating for four and the best of VW's new technology, including the peerless DSG sequential gearbox and its Twincharger TSI engine, which incorporates both a supercharger for low-end grunt and a turbo for power delivery at the top end of the rev range.
While most Americans will associate the IROC moniker with stock car racing or a mid-'80s Camaro, look closely at the word Scirocco and you'll see where the designation for this project came from. Undoubtedly, like the first Scirocco, it makes a pretty bold statement. If they built it, would you buy it?www.vw.com
First LookBmw X5Sav ReduxThe original BMW X5 was a brand-new type of vehicle: an SUV with performance and capabilities befitting a sports car, albeit with a much higher center of gravity. And now the next generation is upon us. The new X5 will be powered by a 3.0-liter inline six cylinder or a 4.8-liter V8 capable of 350 bhp. Naturally, a host of other innovative technical features and engineering wizardry abound. A new patented suspension design, new rack-and-pinion steering system, and, of course, full-time, electronically controlled variable all-wheel drive are all part of the package. Active steering is available for the first time on a vehicle of this type, as well as a new system called AdaptiveDrive, a combination of Active Roll Stabilization and Electronic Damping Control. Look for a full driving impression in an upcoming issue.www.bmw.com
First LookVolvo C30 ConceptHot Shoe Apply HereIt appears Volvo is stepping up its contribution to the world of custom cars. In association with Evolve, ipd and Heico Sportiv Volvo has commissioned the construction of three highly modified C30s for display at this year's SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Each tuner is building their C30 in line with their corporate philosophy. The Evolvo C30 is "what would happen if you placed a C30 and an F1 car into a blender. "The Heico Sportiv car is slanted towards the active/outdoor lifestyle group. The ipd C30 is all about high horsepower and canyon carving capability wrapped in an bold package. We find this interesting as several of our younger staffers been asking when the C30 is slated to arrive. Will the C30 be enough to lure them from their modified Civics? Let's hope so.www.vw.com
First LookKoenigsegg CcxOne Stink-Fast SwedeThe latest iteration of the Koenigsegg CC family, the CCX features a completely revised set of body and interior components specifically designed to meet American federal highway regulations. It runs the same engine used by the previous CCR, a cast-aluminum, 32-valve V8 that develops an amazing 806 bhp at 6900 rpm and 678 lb-ft of torque, while retaining the ability to run on crappy, low-octane American fuel and meet emissions restrictions. Acceleration to 62 mph (100 km/h) can be achieved in 3.2 pavement-wrinkling seconds; the manufacturer claims quarter-mile runs beneath 10 seconds and a heady top speed in excess of 245 mph. Michelin Pilot Sport 2s on center-locking magnesium alloy wheels, 19s up front and 20s in the rear, are the standard running gear. Other standard equipment includes hydraulic ride height control, five-stage traction control, a car cover and massive six-piston brakes with 14-inch rotors.
So, you know of any really, really long, really flat, really smooth and straight roads? The base model CCX will set you back about $540,000; fully equipped with options like carbon rims, ceramic brakes, a custom colored leather interior and navigation, its price climbs as high as $610,000.www.koenigsegg.com
TunedMTM Bentley Continental GTThe Quintessential High-Speed RollerDubbed the "Birkin Edition," MTM's Continental GT is the world's fastest Bentley, topping out at 331 km/h (205 mph). At least that's what they told us. For those lucky enough to drive a CGT, Motorentechnik Mayer (MTM) has a comprehensive tuning program to titillate your senses-or was it scare you senseless?-and possibly bring your Bentley grand touring machine up to world record status. Engine tuning programs range from tweaking the existing management software to complete overhauls of the 6.0-liter W12, with outputs as high as 650 bhp and a staggering 586 lb-ft of torque. MTM also offers an electronic suspension-lowering module, 21-inch wheels, matching Dunlop tires, and a sport brake system for both the front and rear axles.www.mtm-online.comwww.hoppenmotorsport.com
TunedJE Design Audi Q7More Muscle For The Latest Sport SUVStraight outta Leingarten, Germany, JE Design has turned out the first modified Audi sport-ute we've seen. It has been fitted with a muscular widebody styling kit, which incorporates fender flares, vents, spoilers, and new headlamps. JE Design "361" wheels, no less than 22 inches across, are sold separately, adapted specially for the widebody kit. AZEV "R-Wheel" rollers are also available for this setup; aluminum track extensions are available to extend the front axle by 60mm and as much as 80mm in the rear. Cars with air suspension can benefit from an electronic lowering module. Sadly, the JE Q7 is saddled with the V6 TDI, great for Europe, but not the US. Performance on the powerplant has been tweaked using revised software and pushes peak power about 50 horses to a peak of 285, and torque by approximately 36 lb-ft to a maximum of 405.www.je-design.de
TunedNovitec Enzo FerrariIn Case You Still Don't Stand Out EnoughA tuned Enzo? Well, sort of. Novitec Rosso, the company that believes every Ferrari can be improved upon in some way, is now ready and willing to personalize your Enzo, if you're fortunate to somehow be part of this most elite of customer bases. As Novitec's marketing department points out, the Enzo is already a superlative, and treatments are limited to a sport exhaust, which Novitec claims enhances the timbre of the 650-bhp V12, and black-out taillight treatments. The company also offers interior appointments to suit any individual taste, including fine leather upholstery and carbon trim. Just in case you don't feel driving a factory Enzo separates you far enough from the peasant masses, Novitec has you covered.www.novitecrosso.comwww.cecwheels.com