Monday, March 29, 2010

Mercedes SL55 AMG brakes with 8-piston front calipers on a 350Z

Met up with some friends last night - one of them owns a Volkswagen Golf R32 and a 350Z.

This is probably the coolest thing that I've seen done to a Z33. He managed to source a pair of SL55 AMG 8-pot vented discs brakes (front) and put it on his Zed.

Stops like nobody's business, as he demonstrated quite well last night and on some pretty wet roads.

And the clearance is actually pretty big! I thought I wouldn't be able to fit my fingers into the space between the caliper and the rim but its actually not tight at all.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Stormtrooper: Enco's bodykit for the Q5

Enco Exclusive, a German tuner, have developed a new bodykit for the Audi Q5. Although parts can be purchased separately, the full kit retails at €11,568 (hm, ouch, about 50 grand).

This new package is similar to the Enco Q7, though there are clear differences between the two bumpers. LED daytime running lights have been incorporated alongside enlarged air inlets, and a new hood sits above it all (not feeling the hood that much with the chrome bits). New sidesills complimented a remodeled rear that houses a distinctive rear spoiler and dual oval exhaust pipes seen on the Q7 (this, to me, the most standout feature of the kit).

As you can see from the last few pics, carbon fiber has been liberally used throughout the interior. Also thrown into the mix are 10 x 22-inch monoblock wheels wrapped in Pirelli Scorpion Zero tires (probably cost a bomb to replace once treadwear is gone). Wheels come standard in silver and can be painted if desired.

I wish Techart would wave their magic wand over the Q5 but this entry is a hit and miss affair.

Source: I Am Audi

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Volkswagen R - Subsidiary Formed to Offer Sports Models

*Woo hoo!* The Volkswagen R GmbH will be the specialist for sporty exclusive models from Volkswagen in the future. Volkswagen AG has bundled the responsibilities and competencies for development, implementations and sales of individualised vehicle offers into Volkswagen R GmbH. For example, its portfolio includes the two new top models, the Scirocco R und the Golf R as well as the dynamic R Line design packages and luxurious Volkswagen Exclusive items.

“Our vehicles contribute to the emotionalisation and growth of Volkswagen brand,” explained Ulrich Riestenpatt gt. Richter, General Manager of Volkswagen R GmbH.

The company’s name, Volkswagen R GmbH, responds to the increased global demand for individualised vehicles with contemporary sportiness and exclusivity. The sporty positioning will be reflected more intensely in the programme of Volkswagen R in the mid and long term. The company has its headquarters in Warmenau near Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen R GmbH employs a staff of more than 350.

Now lets just hope we get those R line models here soon :D

Monday, March 15, 2010

Good Business Week article / debate on whether MBA holders caused the recent financial crisis

Financial Crisis: Blame B-schools

Business schools are largely responsible for the U.S. financial crisis. Pro or con?

Pro: Failure to Promote a Higher Cause

We are facing the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression. There is plenty of blame to go around. But as suppliers of ideas and talent to the business community, business schools need to accept some responsibility.

Ideas and tools—exotic financial instruments, poorly designed compensation plans, models of corporate leadership that value leaders’ charisma over substance, an uncritical embrace of laissez-faire models—were taught to MBA and executive-education students without considering whether these idea and tools would contribute to a firm’s long-term well being or endanger the legitimacy of the U.S. capitalist system.

The elite business schools also shape and perpetuate the business culture and the aspirations of their graduates. For example, even though not all military officers emanate from West Point, the role of West Point is to serve as not only teacher of military tactics but also the conscience of the profession of arms, and at times, to act as a trusted critic. Similarly the leading business schools are the collective conscience of the practitioners of business and finance.

In the runup to the crisis, many business executives were so self-interested they failed to consider themselves as custodians of their own institutions. All of us involved in business education need to ask what our role has been in fostering a culture that allows executives to walk off with millions of dollars while their firms lay in tatters and society is left with the bill.

Now is the time for business school faculties to make the most of this opportunity to consider how they can contribute to the creation of a business culture that better serves the American economy and society.

We must define business leadership in terms of value creation, not value extraction. This would be an important first step toward restoring society’s faith in our future business leaders.

Con: Business Education—We Need More, Not Less

A natural response to crisis is to try to make sense of it—how did we get here, could we have prevented it, and how do we fix it? But sense-making can easily turn into a less productive and more vindictive blame game. While ethical lapses and illegal activities should be exposed and prosecuted, the more urgent question is why financial crises seem unavoidable. Is it really because business schools do not have the right mission statement?

As unprecedented as current events may seem, researchers have documented at least 18 bank-centered crises globally since 1974, and the majority were preceded by runups in housing and stock markets, large capital inflows, rising public debt, and financial liberalization.

Sound familiar? One possible explanation, supported by recent neuroscientific studies, is that fear and greed are hardwired into human behavior. Periods of great prosperity breed complacency, and risks seem remote and unlikely until we overextend our financial reach and experience a rude awakening. Then fear kicks in and we rush to safety—presto, instant financial crisis! And the bigger the bubble, the louder it bursts.

The only refuge from this emotional seesaw is our intellect. Real disaster comes not from losing money—which entrepreneurs have been doing since the dawn of innovation—but rather from not being properly prepared for it.

The current crisis highlights the growing complexity of the financial system and underscores the sea change in business education from the generic to the specific, from the old boys’ network to the global financial network, and from boardroom tactics to risk analytics. By training tomorrow’s leaders to manage the risks of the financial system effectively and ethically, we’ll have a fighting chance of surviving even the largest crises. This is what business schools do, and we need to do more of it, not less.

Opinions and conclusions expressed in the BusinessWeek Debate Room do not necessarily reflect the views of BusinessWeek,, or The McGraw-Hill Companies.Opinions and conclusions expressed in the BusinessWeek Debate Room do not necessarily reflect the views of BusinessWeek,, or The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Source: Business Week

Some funny adverts :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Brought the 350Z in for a wash ...

... and my Fairlady met two lovely bellas in red :)

A Series 3 Alfa Romeo Spider:

And a Ferrari Dino GT:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Spotted: An Audi RS6 and a Bentley Continental GT

After finishing work yesterday ...

... lo and behold, an Audi RS6 (5.0ltr V10 FSI bi-turbo)
in Brilliant Black (UK spec). The car is in good nick, no visible stone chips on the bonnet:

In another parking bay was this Bentley Continental GT (6.0ltr W12 twin-turbo) in Moroccan Blue, UK spec judging from the dealer plate holders. No actual road tax - theres a sticker placed on the dashboard, but the rego number does not match the ones on the car's Malaysian plates. In good condition like the Audi.

There are other nice rides here but this post would be too long if I were to put them all up. I'm sure the owners got shafted when paying for these babies however - like three times as much of what they are actually worth.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lamborghini lead test driver gets his very own Gallardo series as a retirement gift


Valentino Balboni was the former chief test driver at Lamborghini. He retired in 2009 due to Italian government work regulations after working for the luxury sportscar maker for the past 40 odd years. Valentino Balboni has reportedly driven about 80% of all Lamborghinis ever built! To pay tribute to a long serving employee, Lamborghini, in occasion of Balboni's retirement, has labeled the latest addition to the Gallardo line-up, the LP550-2 Valentino Balboni.

The car is powered by a 5.2-liter V10 has been tweaked to put out 550 hp and thanks to the Gallardo's reduced curb weight (3,042 pounds), the LP 550-2 can sprint to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds and top out at 199 mph.

So unlike the cliche of giving a retiring salaryman an ordinary gold pen or watch, Balboni was given the honor of having his name forever enshrined in the hallowed halls of exclusive supercars. Pretty cool eh?

Oh and did I mention that the Gallardo’s all-wheel drive system has been removed from this series? The car is rear-wheel driven and all that power is going to be sent to the hindquarters!

Below is a youtube link to a documercial about the LP550-2 and what Balboni wanted to incorporate into the 250 cars that will bear his name (awesome video, worth watching):


Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni – Driving fun with absolute precision

He has long been revered as one of the many legends surrounding the world’s most uncompromising sports car brand – Valentino Balboni, a remarkable test driver with his own personal cult status. Automobili Lamborghini now presents a model in his honour and bearing his name – the Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni.

The latest version of the Gallardo, Lamborghini’s most successful model of all time – overall, more than 9,000 units of the model range have already been produced – boasts not only its own distinctive design and exclusive equipment, but its technology is unique too, as indicated by the model badge: the 550 stands for the power output in hp and the 2 is for rear wheel drive.

For several decades, Valentino Balboni has had a distinct influence on the character of the super sports car bearing the sign of the bull. With his fine-tuning and testing work, he has helped to shape many automotive legends, from the Lamborghini Miura of the 60s through to the current Gallardo and Murciélago models. Balboni was hired in 1967 by company founder Ferruccio Lamborghini himself. From early on, it was evident that the young Balboni had a special feel for cars, that most sensitive of all instincts that connects to the ‘life blood’ of an automobile and defines the soul of a test driver.

“A Lamborghini must always combine the precision of a race car with the reliability of a good friend,” says Balboni. Since 1973, he has sat at the wheel of every prototype built by the brand, and even most production cars have passed through his hands before being delivered to their customers. This has turned Balboni into one of the most important representatives of the brand, with an outstanding reputation and status among the brand’s fans and customers worldwide.

Limited to 250 units

After over 40 years with Lamborghini, Balboni is now officially retired. Yet, Valentino Balboni continues to travel to many countries around the world as an ambassador of the brand.
The special exclusivity of the Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni is guaranteed – it is limited to 250 units.

Light-footed yet extremely safe

With this latest version of the Gallardo, Lamborghini is honouring its long-standing test driver in a very special way. The LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni was conceived in line with his own thinking, and it meets many customers’ requests for a model with a unique character, which offers a very special kind of active driving fun. The Balboni model is the only current Lamborghini that delivers its power to the road via its rear wheels alone.

Rear wheel drive has a special appeal to those sports car drivers who enjoy a particular driving style. Thanks to the eminently powerful V10 driveline, controlled oversteer is no problem – naturally always to the extent defined by the driver – because refined road manners and perfectly tuned assistance systems mean that the Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni is an exceptionally safe sports car to drive.

Driving fun with unique character

In order to shape this unique character that combines driving fun and safety, the engineers at Sant’Agata Bolognese have incorporated extensive modifications into the LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni. It was not simply a question of moving the transmission to the rear axle, the vehicle had to be adjusted and tuned in every element of its driving dynamics. This includes springs, dampers, stabilisers and even the tyres. The aerodynamics were also adjusted to take account of the change to the power flow.

The rear axle differential, with a 45 percent limited slip, was also redeveloped, as was the calibration of the e-gear transmission. One significant point was the adjustments made to the ESP system. While the standard program is focused on high stability, the CORSA program permits greater drift angles, thus enabling drivers to enjoy the dynamics of the LP 550-2 to their full extent.

Outstanding performance is guaranteed

Adjustments have also been made to the very heart of the Gallardo, the 5.2 litre ten-cylinder: the perfect synthesis of hi-revving pleasure, pulling power, a constantly exuberant temperament and a powerful symphony played in all keys. In the Valentino Balboni, the compact and lightweight power unit generates 405 kW (550 hp). At a dry weight of only 1,380 kilograms, this guarantees outstanding performance: the LP 550-2 is catapulted from 0 to 100 km/h (0-62mph) in a breathtaking 3.9 seconds, while the top speed of 320 km/h (199 mph) guarantees its place among the ultimate in super sports cars.

Powerful elegance in its distinctive design

The Valentino Balboni is not only unique in terms of its technology: its design and equipment reinforce its exclusivity. Its classic sporting character is emphasised by a colour strip in white and gold running from the front panel over the roof and parts of the engine cover all the way to the rear spoiler, with inspiration from the classic sports cars from the ’70s. This colour treatment underscores the powerful elegance of the Gallardo and emphasises the unique Lamborghini design DNA. The Special Edition is available in eight colours, from Bianco Monocerus through to Verde Ithaca, or Arancio Borealis to Nero Noctis. The Scorpius wheels retain their dark grey finish, while the brake callipers come in black, orange or yellow, depending on the exterior paint finish.

Classic sporting look for the interior, too

The characteristic colour combination is repeated in the interior. The basic colour of the full leather upholstery is black. Both seats, however, feature the colour strip in white. The centre console is completely upholstered in Polar white leather to create a powerful accent. A badge below the left side window bears the signature of Valentino Balboni and the production number of the car.

The exclusivity of the Valentino Balboni is augmented further by its extensive equipment. Alongside several new leather features in the interior, there is also the transparent engine cover, the rear view camera, the navigation system with Bluetooth and the lifting system for the front axle that makes it easier to drive over obstacles. In addition to the extensive standard equipment, a list of further options is available including e-gear transmission and carbon ceramic brakes.

Suggested retail price – without taxes
162.000 €

137.900 £

219.800 $

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Audi's Mini Fighter - The Audi A1

[Source: USA Today]
I'm not feeling Audi's upcoming A1.

The way the roof tapers off into the back end, just doesn't sit right with me. Feels very "meh". I'm sure a nice body kit and some aggressive rims will help but still, the back is really underwhelming. And whats with the two-tone exterior color scheme? Screams chicks' car.

Lets hope they put the 2.0TFSI engine into it and create a S and RS line-up. If they put the 1.4TSI (utilizes a turbocharger and a supercharger) that is used in Volkswagen's new Polo GTI, then you would be taking sales from the A1. Why would you pay a premium for the same performance? The same sort of problem that people had with the A3 2.0TFSI - why get a more expensive car, when you could get a cheaper MK5 Golf GTI with the same engine and better driving dynamics?

That is unless you wanted the A3 2.0TFSI with Quattro =) Only comes in manual though...

Audi says that it will offer the A1 with these three engines - petrol 1.2T, petrol 1.4T and a 1.6 diesel engine, all mated to Audi's 7-speed DSG transmission.

Heres a video of the car in motion, being tested by Audi DTM (German Touring Car Championship) driver, Markus Winkelhock.