Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mazda Shinari Concept debuts new face of the brand in style

Mazda Shinari Concept

When Mazda invited us to Milan to see its new concept car, we knew it must be something important. Normally concept cars get their 15 minutes of fame at an auto show, and then it's off to the next press conference to see what the following automaker will introduce. Not so with Mazda's latest styling endeavor. The Japanese automaker wanted our full and undivided attention, with the center of international design and fashion in Italy as a fitting backdrop.

The Shinari concept, which roughly translates to "resistance to being bent," will serve as a the basis for Mazda's new design language, and many of the styling cues will make it to future production vehicles. That means that the Shinari will essentially affect the design of every vehicle coming from the Japanese automaker for the next several years. An important car for Mazda? You bet.

The Shinari was officially unveiled earlier today, and we spent several hours talking with Mazda's artists about the design and how it will affect the automaker's forthcoming vehicles.

The creation of the Shinari Concept starts with Ikuo Maeda, Mazda's global head of design. Maeda was the chief designer of the RX-8 and the Mazda2 and has been with the company for nearly 30 years, but his connection with the brand goes back even further than that. His father, Matasaburo Maeda, headed the design of the first generation RX-7 back in the 1970s. Mazda runs in the Maeda family's blood and there's no one more qualified to define the look of Mazda's next generation vehicles.

While Maeda has had an influence on Mazda design in the past, 2010 is the first year in which he's had full control. The Shinari Concept represents the first styling concept under his new design theme, KODO, which replaces the controversial Nagare them from the past several years. While the Nagare-styled cars were represented by wavy, flowing lines, a trait that looked great on concepts but was tough to implement on production cars (see Mazda3), KODO is more of an organic style that still takes cues from the natural world, but in a much more solidified and powerful sense. Maeda describes KODO as form with a soul, or bringing form to life, with the three key terms defining the theme being speed, tension and alluring. "There are few products of industrial design that can be compared to living entities which convey energetic motion and which invite affection," he says. "It is this intrinsically emotional appeal of the car that I wish to express when creating Mazda cars."

While Maeda created the theme for the new stylistic direction, the development of the Shinari Concept was actually a collaboration between three of Mazda's design centers in Japan, Germany and the United States. The goal was to make the exterior a product of Japan, while the interior was left to the automaker's Irvine studio. However, each team had input on the final product.

Looking at the exterior, it's easy to tell that the Shinari shares little in common with Mazda's recent designs, although like almost every sedan built today, it has similarities to vehicles from other brands. It's almost as if the Aston Martin Rapide and a Mazda RX-8 cued up some Barry White, enjoyed a romantic evening and the Shinari came out nine months later. That's obviously a compliment, as the Rapide is a stunningly beautiful car and the RX-8 – even this far into its lifecycle – is still a looker. However, the Shinari has a much more complicated design, with more intersecting lines and a surface area that's constantly moving and changing depending on the lighting.

Those who dislike the smiling face of the current Mazda lineup will be glad to know it won't be a feature in future models (Huzzah! – Ed.). The Shinari front end features a "signature wing" that will become a new styling cue for the brand. The wing is formed by a thin aluminum band that starts from the bottom of the grille and goes out and up through the headlamps and continues with a bold fender line moving out onto the sides.

The most impressive aspect of the exterior design was the devotion to the theme in nearly every inch of the concept. The various aluminum pieces found on the exterior have a "twisted tension", and even the slots in the disc brakes follow the same theme. In addition, items like the headlights were designed to have a more natural look and fashioned to mimic the iris of an animal's eye. We're also big fans of the stylish rear view cameras in place of the standard mirrors as well as the trick door handles (although "button" might be a more appropriate description) that require only a simple press to open.

While the exterior is certainly a departure from previous designs, the interior is perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Shinari. Easily the most attractive and stylish interior we've seen in a Mazda (concept or not), it's swathed in authentic aluminum trim, leather-covered surfaces and double stitching at nearly every turn and twist. We're again drawn to the Aston Martin Rapide comparison, especially with the design of the deep rear bucket seats. The gauges, modeled after popular watch designs, up the class quotient and the massive glass roof helps make the interior feel open and airy.

We know many of these elements won't make it into a production car, but Mazda's North American director of design, Derek Jenkins, who oversaw the development of the Shinari's interior, says it's Mazda's goal to add sophistication to future models. "Mazda is really an aspirational type of brand," he says. "Even though we are a mainstream brand we have a customer that wants a little bit more. We monitor premium segments, we monitor premium trends, and the question is ultimately how can get some of that feeling into a more affordable vehicle. We think our customer wants a little bit more sophistication."

One thing that can definitely be seen in future Mazda interiors is a driver-focused cockpit. A close look at the Shinari's interior reveals an asymmetric design that snugly surrounds the driver's seat while leaving the passenger seat more open and relaxed. Jenkins says this will be theme of upcoming Mazda vehicles and help set the brand apart.

Finally, the Shinari also features quite a bit of technology that looks forward to the new applications of driver-automobile interactions. The Human Machine Interface (HMI) is split up into three modes: Business, Pleasure and Sport. Potential uses range from looking up bios of a business contact before a meeting to a rally-style co-pilot feature that could alert the driver of the characteristics of upcoming turns. It's nothing too far-fetched given the current levels of technology, and we wouldn't be surprised to see some of it implemented in the near future.

But more than the tech and the attention to detail, it's the Shinari's overall cohesion that impresses the most. Unlike other pie-in-the-sky concepts, the Sinari is a smart, well executed styling exercise that should be a solid design platform for future models. The muscular lines should translate well into a production car, and customers will always appreciate a more sophisticated interior. And what about the potential of a four-door sports coupe like the Shinari making it to production? Mazda wouldn't tell us whether one is in the works, but they did mention that the "business side of it" was considered when the Shinari was under development. That definitely means there's a chance, and we sure like the sound of a Mazda RX-9.

2011 Honda CR-Z

2011 Honda CR-Z

Okay, so the 2011 Honda CR-Z isn't exactly the modern-day CRX redux that we were all hoping for. Mildly upsetting, yes, but perhaps this disappointment tarnished our initial impression of this newest hybrid offering from Honda. We still have many questions about its form and function, but need to accept the fact that times have changed, Honda's product strategies have been realigned to the times and the CRX shall remain a modern classic – especially the Si. Besides, this little two-seat hybrid isn't really all that bad. Really.

What we have here is an inherently good vehicle that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It only has two seats and its EPA fuel economy numbers are underwhelming. A Ford Fiesta, for example, is more functional, less expensive and gets nearly the same combined fuel economy – at least compared to a manual-equipped CR-Z like our tester.

But don't write off the CR-Z completely. It may be a tough sell when looked at from a big picture perspective, but on its own, it's a pretty good little whip.

After spending a week with our North Shore Blue EX test car, we grew to rather like the CR-Z's design, though it is a bit awkward at first take. The oversized front maw doesn't really match up with the short, wedgy proportions of the rest of the car. What's more, the side profile highlights the fact that the front overhang is noticeably longer than the rear, and from most front three-quarter views, the CR-Z looks rather nose-heavy.

Out back, however, things are a little more put together. The split glass rear hatch and triangular taillamps are reminiscent of the original CRX, but we can see a bit of its larger brother, the Insight (both the original and new one), as well. Interestingly, though, the rear view seems to be the most polarizing among the general public. Within the span of 30 minutes, we had one passer-by make mention of the CR-Z's "butt-ugly butt" and another commented on how modern and high-tech it looked. To each their own, but we're quite fond of the rear design, even though the split in the glass cuts right through the middle of your rear-view mirror sight-lines. Even so, it's no worse than trying to look out the back of a properly winged Subaru STI.

Visually, the only difference between our loaded-up EX tester and the base CR-Z are the addition of front foglamps. All models get the same set of 16-inch alloy wheels you see here, though Honda does offer an attractive set of 17-inchers as a dealer-installed accessory. The larger wheels would better fill out the relatively large wheel wells, not to mention add an extra dose of sportiness, since Honda is, after all, trying to convince us that the CR-Z is a sports car... of a kind.

Looking inside, the whole "hybrid sports car" theme is nicely presented. The futuristic dash display speaks to the eco-mindedness of the CR-Z, and the nicely bolstered, supportive seats and short, nubby six-speed manual shifter are sporty visual cues. Furthermore, all of the car's controls are canted toward the driver, and we're big fans of the smaller-diameter steering wheel. Especially with the navigation screen in place, the interior looks great when lit up at night, though Honda is long overdue for an upgrade to its infotainment display technology – things are starting to look a bit pixelated onscreen.

The CR-Z's hatchback design would lead you to believe that it's relatively functional, and we don't have any complaints about the 25.1 cubic feet of cargo space. Instead of fitting a second row of seats, Honda has opted for clever storage compartments and a divider that can be folded flat to accommodate larger haulables. Would we prefer a two-plus-two seating arrangement? No. We can't imagine that those rear seats would be used for anything except shopping bags and the original CRX didn't have rear seats, anyway.

But while the phrase "hybrid sports car" works for the interior design, it's not as well played out when it comes to the CR-Z's on-road manners. Power comes from Honda's Integrated Motor Assist technology, pairing a 1.5-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder engine with a small electric motor. The gas-powered mill is good for 122 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque and the electric motor churns out 13 hp and 58 lb-ft, though unlike most parallel hybrids, the CR-Z is a mild hybrid and can't be powered by its electric motor alone. Honda says that maximum torque thrust is available as low as 1,750 rpm, but these i-VTEC four-pots aren't known for their low-end twist – it's all about the high-revving power here, which goes against the point of a hybrid powertrain.

Because of this, fuel economy is meager for a hybrid – our six-speed manual-equipped tester is only rated at 31/37 miles per gallon city/highway (CVT-equipped models hit a more respectable 35/39 mpg). A larger Ford Fusion Hybrid will net you 41 mpg in the city, and even a standard gas-sipping Hyundai Sonata will get you 35 mpg. This proves to be the CR-Z's biggest selling hurdle, as consumers expect cars with a hybrid badge to be substantially more fuel efficient than similarly equipped cars powered solely by an internal combustion engine, and mild hybrids like the CR-Z don't meet that expectation. We wish we could report that real-world fuel economy is better than expected, but we only averaged about 33 mpg during our test.

We drove the CR-Z in all three of its driving modes (Eco, Normal and Sport), though left the car in Normal mode for the majority of the week. Sport mode is nice, as it tightens the steering and improves throttle response, but fuel economy will suffer under these conditions. Eco mode isn't a total bore, though – Honda's light, involving steering rack still keeps things interesting, though the reduction in power delivery makes the CR-Z feel extremely sluggish off the line. There's really no perfect blend of sport and efficiency, though the CR-Z still has enough moves to keep things entertaining on the road.

The CR-Z isn't quite a canyon carver, but its firm suspension and adequate steering feedback are enough to provide an engaging experience for the driver. It's certainly more engaging than your run-of-the-mill Prius, but a Volkswagen Golf TDI will is more enthusiastic, not to mention more fuel efficient. The do-it-yourself gearbox is super smooth, allowing you to fire off quick, slick shifts while still keeping the revs planted in the CR-Z's powerband. Honda's start-stop system works well with this application, with the engine firing up instantaneously when you click the shifter into first gear. Having six cogs to work with means plenty of shifting is required to keep the car hustling, but good throttle feedback and a linear clutch action make for happy cogswapping all day long. As mentioned earlier, the CR-Z can be had with a continuously variable transmission, though we've yet to find a CVT that's preferable to a manual if given the choice. If you just want the CR-Z with the best fuel economy, however, the CVT is the clear winner.

Overall, the CR-Z isn't worthy of a sports car badge, but it is by far the best-driving low-cost compact hybrid we've come across. It feels less like an appliance (Prius) and more like a focused driver's car, even though you won't have much to show for in terms of sheer performance or mileage numbers. And this is where the CR-Z starts to lose its appeal. As soon as you consider the larger scope of what the Honda hybrid is trying to accomplish, your disappointment will start to outweigh any of the good vibes felt from behind the wheel.

It's a tough sell, this CR-Z, but with prices starting below $20,000 and topping out just above $23,000 with a CVT and navigation, Honda will attract a few buyers who are sold on the car's appearance and unique positioning within the marketplace. It's a relatively pleasant car to drive, the interior looks and feels great and its forward-facing design should easily stand the test of time, but we'd be fools not to consider a raft of other options before deciding upon a CR-Z. Your $20-23K may be better spent on a base Mini Cooper, Ford Fiesta or Honda Fit – all three cars are just as good if not better to drive as the CR-Z, and their similar fuel economy and far more practical shapes far outweigh our desire to break the mold of the traditional subcompact set. So take off your rose-colored glasses, CRX fans. This is the future, though it really isn't so bad.

Maybach will soldier on, gain hybrid

2011 Maybach Range

We've all but assumed Maybach was a goner. With the economic downturn and sales hovering around the 300-unit mark annually, Mercedes-Benz' rebadged uber-lux brand makes a hard business case for itself. However, Automobile reports that Maybach may be down, but it's not out, and a range of new products are on the way.

With the S-Class due to be replaced in 2012, the range-topping Benz will offer up its revised platform for five new Maybach models. The standard 57 and 62 will benefit from upgraded sheet metal, interiors and electronics, while a CLS-like four-door "coupe" will be added to the line-up along with the oft-rumored long-wheelbase convertible – a sort of mash-up between the 62 Laundaulet and Mercedes' Ocean Drive concept from 2007.

Despite M-B's ongoing issues with CAFE standards, motivation will continue to be provided by the same 6.0-liter V12 powering current Maybachs, although horsepower is expected to rise, torque output could crest 850 pound-feet and Mercedes' seven-speed automatic will be part of the package.

More intriguingly, Automobile says that with the new transmission, an electric motor could be fitted, boosting output by 20 hp and allowing the massive sled to drive in full electric mode for up to 10 miles. There's also talk of a new nine-speed automatic transmission being fitted and fuel economy rising by around 25% – so figure around a 2-3 mpg improvement for both the 545-hp and 630-hp versions.

In order for Maybach to survive, it has to be more than just a reworked S-Class and to that end, an insider told Automobile that future models will be "jewels on wheels and at last worthy of the brand." We shall see...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Last week we had more Zero kits collected from the GBS factory that were both being exported to Belgium and Italy. Mark Baxter came over from Italy and collected 2 Zero kits from us, and another was all wrapped and packaged ready to be exported to Belgium. Mark sent us over some photographs he took in Italy of his other Zero that he has built.
For any enquires about the Zero Kits and Export please call us 01623 860 990, or take a look at our new website for more information.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Zero customer Ron Bryant came to the GBS Factory today to purchase some more parts to help complete his build, which he collected from us at the beginning of June and is making good progress with his build. Ron showed us a few photographs of his build so far, to view more of Ron’s build photos please visit his photo bucket gallery that he has created.

We love to hear from all of our ‘Zero’ customers. If you would like your ‘Zero’ to feature on our Blog then please get in touch via email and we will show case your kit car online. Or if you are passing be sure to pop in and we can take some photos for you.

For more information about the Zero kit please call 01623 860 990 or visit our website

2011 Ford Edge begins shipping to dealers as model hits 400,000 units

2011 Ford Edge Sport

It goes without saying, but we're going to go ahead and say it anyway: Crossovers are so hot right now. According to data compiled by Ford, the CUV industry has expanded 220 percent since 2006, which is the year the Blue Oval introduced the world to the Edge, its main player in the hotly contested market.

Ford also contends that the over 400,000 Edge CUVs have sold since late 2006, making it the best-selling mid-size crossover over that period of time. Don't expect that growth to slow down any time soon, either, as Ford projects the CUV segment will increase another few percentage points in 2011. In fact, the market for CUVs will grow to be as large as that of full-size pickup trucks.

In order to meet the increased demand it expects for CUVs, Ford has sharpened its Edge (sorry, couldn't resist) for the 2011 model year. Of special note are the two new drivetrain choices that join the standard 3.5-liter V6 engine, a 2.0-liter EcoBoost with 285 horsepower and a 3.5-horsepower 3.7 Ti-VCT V6 in the newly beefed-up Edge Sport.

The House that Henry Built is also quick to point out that its next-gen Edge will come with a full suite of technology options, including Sync and MyFord Touch. So, will all of this added goodness equal a worthwhile improvement to the hot-selling previous-generation Edge?

General Motors and SAIC to jointly develop small engine and dual clutch transmission


General Motors has reached an agreement with one of its primary Chinese partners, Shanghai Automotive Industries Corp. (SAIC), on the joint development of powertrains for small vehicles.

GM and SAIC will develop and produce a family of four-cylinder engines ranging from 1.0- to 1.5-liters with direct injection and turbocharging. The GTDI engines should cut fuel consumption by around 20 percent compared to similarly-sized engines with equivalent output.

The engine will be used in GM and SAIC vehicles in China and around the world, and to go along with the new engine, the partners will also develop a small dual-clutch transmission that should provide a 10 percent boost in efficiency over current six-speed torque converter automatics. Work on the engine and transmission will occur at GM's powertrain engineering center in Pontiac, MI and the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center in Shanghai.

GM has yet to announced when the new powertrains will debut in production, but mid-2011 is a safe bet.

[Source: General Motors]

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Leaked! 2011 Mercedes-Benz CLS peeks out before official debut

2011 Mercedes-Benz CLS leaked shots

Whoops! The men and women in Stuttgart weren't planning to unveil the new Mercedes-Benz CLS just yet, but the crew from eMercedesBenz snagged these leaked images showing the new four-door coupe in all its production-ready glory.

As expected, the new CLS takes a lot of its styling cues from Benz's Shooting Break concept (they're name, not ours) notably the upright grille and more aggressive front fascia. The sectioned-off headlamp design has also remained intact, and from these photo-realistic renderings, it looks like someone shot the CLS in the eyes with lemon juice. Still, we're eager to see how this mix of LEDs looks out on the road at dusk. The CLS also uses the more shapely rear hips of the Shooting Break concept, rounding out the revised rear end. It's certainly more stylish than the outgoing CLS, which says a lot.

Inside, the CLS continues to use its four-seat arrangement with a center console that extends the full length of the cabin, and we fully expect the overall refinement to fall somewhere between the E-Class and S-Class sedans. Plush stuff, we're sure.

When the CLS launches, eMercedesBenz reports that a new 3.5-liter direct-injected V6 will be offered, as well as a twin-turbocharged 4.6-liter V8 good for around 430 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Of course, an AMG version won't be far behind with the all-new 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 underhood.

Now that these leaked shots have hit the web, don't be surprised if the official images and details are published in the very near future

[Source: eMercedesBenz]

2012 Saab 9-4X confirmed for LA debut in November

Saab 9-4X Concept

We've been expecting this announcement to come sooner or later, though we didn't exactly count on it coming from the LA Auto Show's own Twitter page. But there it is anyway, straight from the horse's mouth: "Saab has confirmed that the 9-4X Crossover will make its world debut at the LA Auto Show this Nov."

We're also expecting some sort of official word that the new crossover 'ute, which will share its Theta Premium underpinnings with the Cadillac SRX, should hit the market sometime in the spring of 2011... perhaps around April.

While we're on the subject of expectations, we'd also imagine that Saab will offer its premium crossover with the same powerplants as the recently released 9-5, which means we could see a 2.0-liter turbocharged four and a 2.8-liter turbocharged six, both likely mated with a six-speed automatic transmission and available all-wheel drive. We'll apparently find out for sure soon enough.

[Source: LA Auto Show's Twitter]

Friday, August 13, 2010


Today we had James Booker and Pete Burton come and collect their Zero Zetec kit from the GBS factory……. For more information about the Zero kit please call 01623 860 990 or visit our website where you can download the Zero Brochure.

Also our brand new factory built Zero demonstrator is almost ready for test drives, so if you would like to book a test drive please give us a call. Great British Sports Cars will also be attending Stafford Kit Car Show in September where we will be showing the Zero and have a wide variety of parts and spares available to buy.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


At the weekend we had Dave Dodd and Trevor Jackman come and collect their Zero kits from the GBS Factory......... For more information about the Zero kit please call 01623 860 990 or visit our website where you can download the Zero Brochure.


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