Turbodiesel Touaregs And The Baja 500
*Volkswagen and Baja: two names that have become intertwined since the inception of the Baja 500 in 1967. That year, entrants competed in clapped-out air-cooled Beetles and buggies and returned with stories of triumph and adventure. Nearly 40 years later, the company whose air-cooled Beetle helped launch an off-road revolution announced its sponsorship as the Official Vehicle of the Baja 500 and SCORE off-road racing series.
The 39th annual event, which took place in Ensenada, Mexico, also marked Volkswagen of America's first official factory entry in the now-legendary desert racing series with the fielding of its Dakar Rally Factory Team. Although dominated by powerful and highly sophisticated Trophy Trucks and equally impressive sand rails, each built with massive amounts of clearance to withstand the grueling desert and mountain terrain, the two turbo-diesel Volkswagen Race Touareg 2s came away surprising a record field with top 20 finishes.
Driver and co-pilot Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford clinched class victory ahead of their VW/Red Bull team-mates Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz. In the overall classification of the 273 competing vehicles, Miller/Pitchford took 11th, and de Villiers/von Zitzewitz 16th. Powered by modern TDI diesel technology in 2.5-liter five-cylinder engines, the two Race Touaregs were the only vehicles to complete the 420.11-mile race, considered the world's toughest one-day rally, without a single refueling stop. With no time to make important chassis and clearance alterations to better adapt to course conditions, the Race Touaregs competed with no modifications following their success in the Dakar Rally (which enforces suspension travel restrictions) with fourth and 11th finishes overall.
"It's fantastic how well our Race Touaregs were running on this tough terrain," said Miller. "The fact that we achieved this success with a diesel engine that is relatively quiet, but develops incredible torque and, what's more, without having to refuel even once while the US vehicles had to stop for fuel two or even three times, is a milestone in the long history of Baja and proves how advanced TDI technology is."
Volkswagen and its air-cooled engine wrote the book on desert racing. Perhaps, the TDI will turn a new chapter. Look for Wolfsburg's finest to return next year to contest the series championship, which includes the sister rally, the almighty Baja 1000.
2008 Saab 9-3
Aero X marks the spot
*Drawing influence from last year's Aero X concept car, the new 9-3 model range will feature bold new styling for greater visual appeal. This includes an all-new front end with a new fascia, grille and surfacing themes derived from the Aero X, along with the re-introduction of the classic clamshell hood design first seen in the iconic 1967 Saab 99. Revisions also include 'signature' lighting, new door panels and a revised rear end. "We are introducing significant developments across three key areas: design, performance and handling," says Jan Ake Jonsson, managing director of Saab Automobile worldwide. New technical advancements will also be introduced to enhance the driver's experience, including an uprated 280-hp turbo V6 and an advanced all-wheel drive system. The new 9-3 portfolio will include the Sport Sedan, SportCombi and Convertible models.
VW GTI W12-650
What are those wacky Germans up to now?
*This is the most powerful GTI ever produced by Volkswagen, three times more powerful than a conventional model. It may also be the ultimate engine swap. VW took a 6.0-liter W12 all-aluminum engine, strapped on two turbo-chargers so it produces 650 hp at 6000 rpm and 553 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm, and mid-mounted it on a special aluminum subframe to drive the rear wheels. The three-door body is now wider by 6.3 inches to accommodate the engine, drivetrain and side-mounted cooling systems. The roof is carbon fiber and features an integrated cooling scoop to channel air into the rear-mounted radiators. Redesigned floating C-pillars aid cooling. The sprint from standstill to 62 mph takes just 3.7 seconds. A potential maximum speed of 201.8 mph is made possible by a 2.75-inch lower ride height and extensive underfloor aerodynamic aids, including a diffuser that negates the need for a large rear wing. The engine is linked to a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, while the car runs on 19-inch wheels, styled to mimic standard GTI wheels, but wrapped here in 295-section tires. Why? The GTI W12-650 is a one-off design study built by VW to mark the annual GTI festival in Worthersee, Austria, the biggest event of its kind in Europe.
Dealing in precious metal
*In the luxury car game for about a decade, the company performs the usual high-end bolt-ons but takes it one step further for a personalized fit and finish. The signature 'Platinum Touch' aims to bring the car's unique lines and features to the forefront, bringing all the pieces together for a stunning work of automotive art. Enhancements include color-treating different pieces for contrast and full interior work. Platinum prides itself on providing cutting edge design, customer service and overall satisfaction to its global clientele. If you can dream it, Platinum can build it.
Go big or go home.
Platinum has a tuning package to give a sleeker cleaner look the A8, Audi's big battle cruiser comprised of 22-inch Agetro diamond cut wheels, tinted windows, eight-piston Brembo brakes, Platinum's own lowering module, S8 front and W12 rear bumpers made of durable polyurethane. Underneath, Platinum's stainless steel cat-back exhaust system and Stage II ECU upgrade for an additional 55 horses. The Platinum Touch completes this car with black painted contrasting roof, moldings, grilles and exhaust tips for a sleek, aggressive look.
Bentley Continental Flying Spur
Your Bentley not individual enough? Platinum has modified the Spur's looks and driveability to make it a singular ride among its ultra-exclusive brethren. The cabin is covered in a complete custom red interior with black sheepskin floormats. Platinum Edition PT2 wheels sized at 22 inches are shod with Pirelli P Zeros measuring 295/25. The body is augmented with a full Mansory body kit including front and rear bumpers, side skirts and lip spoiler (made from high quality composite). Platinum's own stainless steel exhaust system frees the spent gas out of Mansory's unique exhaust tips. A Platinum Stage III ECU upgrade is good for an additional 50 horses from the 6.2-liter bi-turbo W12 powerplant. The Platinum Touch includes: color treated roof, bumper lips, window moldings and grille-all in high-gloss black. The Spur is also equipped with a thundering stereo system comprised of JL Audio hardware.