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John Barrowman and Fifth Gear’s Tiff Needell involved in high-speed crash

Fifth Gear presenter Tiff Needell and actor John Barrowman who was a guest on the show walked away after an 80 mph crash during a race in Powys, Wales. The two were filming for an episode of Fifth Gear and Barrowman was driving a rally-prepped £120,000 Subaru (with Needell as co-pilot) when he lost control of his car, “slid down a verge, flipped four times and almost went into a lake at the bottom of the hill”. Paramedics quickly came out and pulled the two stars out of the car and they were both taken to a hospital, not before shattered glass was removed from Barrowman’s eye.

Barrowman said: “I’m lucky to walk away unscathed. I got a ticking off from my mum afterwards.” What’s really interesting is that Barrowman portrays Captain Jack Harkness in Torchwood, a characted which cannot die.

Images from the crash will be shown in the next episode of Fifth Gear on Channel 5.


Bugatti EB110 wrecked at Moscow racing event

During the 2009 Bavaria Moscow City Racing event which took place these days in the Russian capital, an unlucky Bugatti EB1100 was wrecked when its driver lost control of the car. Everything was going according to scheduled when, during the second supercar parade, the Russian driver of this rare EB110 smashed it into a cement gutter and emankment, causing some serious damage to the car. Fortunately, neither the driver nor the passenger sustained any injuries, but the sight of the wrecked car definitnely hurts to watch.

The Bugatti EB110 was introduced in 1991, celebrating Ettore Bugatti’s 110 birthdate anniversary and it was powered by a 3.5-liter quad-turbo engine that delivers 542 hp and was able to take the supercar from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.4 seconds and up to a top speed of 343 km/h (213 mph). Only 139 units were built, so the car is very rare, currently being valued at around $2 million.


First details on the 2010 Acura ZDX released

Acura has just released the first details on the new 2010 Acura ZDX four-door sports coupe, the car which everyone thought of as the first real competitor for the BMW X6, before its debut at this year’s New York Auto Show in April. However, after we saw the car, we really had doubts that the ZDX will ever be able to compete the incredible car the Germans have built. But that doesn’t mean the ZDX doesn’t have its chances when it will be launched on the North American market this winter.

The first thing one notices about the ZDX is its bold styling with a few design highlights such as the panoramic glass roof, the hidden door handles or the bold fender flares. The interior continues in the same note, with hand-stitched leather dash, panels and sculpted center console. And speaking of the interior, Acura claims the ZDX will offer plenty of cargo space (including an integrated under-floor storage area at the back) which can be increased by removing side panes in the cargo-compartment sidewalls.

As for the drivetrain, the Acura ZDX will be available with a 3.7-liter V6 petrol engine that delivers 300 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque and which will be mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The ZDX will also come with Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. If you’d like to read more details about the new ZDX, check out the official press release.

Photo Gallery: 2010 Acura ZDX


More clear Bugatti four-door teaser image shows up

Last week we showed you a teaser image of the new Bugatti car which will be launched this September at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The image was a scanned invitation to the exclusive launch party but it wasn’t clear. However, now we’ve got a more revealing scan of the same invitation, published by the folks from PistonHeads. Still no official info about the car, but the impressive eight exhaust system might point out to the Veyron’s W16 engine powering the new Bugatti, but that’s only speculation so far. We can also get a better look at those wonderful vertical brake lights and curved rear lights. A lot of rumors also showed up about the car’s final name and some suggest the new Bugatti could be called the Bordeaux, but we’ll have to wait a little more until Bugatti finally decides to release some info about the car.


Great weekend at the Sibiu Rally

La Sibiu cu Citroen 12

I haven’t really been one of the biggest fans of rally racing, but I’ve always considered it to be one of the most fascinating motorsports and I’ve also played a lot of Colin McRae 2 on my PC when I was in college. The way these pilots are able to drive that car is simply amazing and I was able to see that this weekend, when we were invited by Citroen Romania to attend the Sibiu Rally and a couple of special events (Citroen is the official partner of the Rally).

After only two hours of sleep, on Friday morning at around 6:30 a.m. we left Bucharest and drove to Sibiu (which means a 5 hours drive through a very beautiful part of Romania). When we got there, the first event we saw was the super special stage. We weren’t really familiarized with the rules and all, but we did know something…we absolutely enjoyed what we saw and we were really anxious for what was about to happen on Sunday!

Though Sunday went by pretty fast (we attended the official finish and the press conference), we had some great news, which was announced by Ovidiu Mazilu, president of the Romanian Motorsport Federadion: starting next year, the Sibiu Rally will be a stage in the IRC (Intercontinental Rally Challenge), the world’s second rally championship.

And finally Sunday came and the event we were really, really waiting for, which was a ride in the Citroen C2R2 Max. So, for a few laps, we were co-pilots for Phillippe Bugalski, one of the most experienced pilots in the Citroen racing team. He was a really amazing guy, really funny and the ride was…one the coolest things we ever did. Lately, I was considering taking racing driving courses with one of our best pilots here in Romania, but after the Citroen experience this has definitely went up in my priorities list. I can’t imagine how much fun it is to be behind the steering wheel.

Anyway, it’s been a great weekend, we had a lot of fun, we met a lot of new and cool people, including Simon Jean Joseph, former two times European Champion and Citroen’s current Customer Competition Director (he told us a lot about Citroen Racing Trophy, a really amazing European competition for not-so-professional drivers) and we also got a lot of memories and new goals. We’ll also be posting soon interviews with Simon and Phillippe, so stick around, because this will definitely be interesting.

La Sibiu cu Citroen 8
Vlad Balan (me), Simon Jean Joseph, Bobby Voicu and Phillippe Bugalski

There’s a small problem with our server, so we can’t upload photos right now. Check out some of the photos on my flickr account, here.


Audi A5 Sportback officially unveiled

After about a month ago Audi has released teaser photos and a few details on the Audi A5 Sportback and after the car was scooped in the University of California campus, today the car was officially unveiled by the German car maker. According to Audi, the third member of the A5 family (after the Coupe and the Cabrio), the A5 Sportback combines the sporty look of a coupe with the comfort of a sedan and the practicality of a station wagon.

Though we really dig the car, we can’t help wondering if Audi isn’t making a mistake with this model. I mean, the A4 was already a big car, very close to the A6, so we have the feeling the Ingolstadt car maker has three models (A4 Sedan, A6 Sedan and now the A5 Sportback) addressing to the same target. We sure hope they know what they’re doing.

Under the hood, the Audi A5 Sportback will initially be available with six engines (three gasoline and three diesels), with three more engines scheduled for 2010. The gasoline units include the 2.0-liter TFSI delivering 180 kW (132 kW) or 211 hp (155 kW) and the 3.2-liter V6 with a 265 hp (195 kW) output. Diesel choices include the 2.0 TDI which delivers 170 hp (125 kW) and achieves a fuel consumption of 5.2 liters/100 km (45 US mpg), a 190 hp (140 kW) 2.7-liter TDI and the 3.0 TDI unit which produces 240 hp (176 kW). All engines are highly-efficient direct injection models (complying Euro 5 emissions standard) and, beside that, all models are equipped with a recuperation system that recovers energy during braking and deceleration and stores it temporarily in the battery.

Models powered by the petrol units and by the 3.0 TDI will benefit from Audi’s quattro permanent all-wheel drive system, while the two most powerful engines are optionally available with a newly developed sport differential, which variably distributes power between the rear wheels. But customers wanting to order the 2.0 and the 2.7 diesels shouldn’t be envious, because these two models will come with Audi’s new ESP stabilization program with electronic front differential lock, increasing agility and preventing understeer.

The first Audi A5 Sportback will be delivered in September, with orders being already accepted at a starting price of 33,650 Euros ($47,500) in Germany. Audi also mentioned that a specially-priced model will be available next year, which will make the A5 Sportback the entry-level model in the A5 range.

Full Photo Gallery: Audi A5 Sportback


12V portable pizza oven: stupidest gadget ever created?

I’ve been looking at this “product” for about 5 minutes and I still can’t think of a way this 12V portable oven could be useful in any way, except for setting your car on fire or getting yourself involved in a crash. So, who the hell cooks while driving? I assume no one. Then it must the passenger who does the cooking, right? But why? I mean, how much in a hurry can you be not to stop for a few minutes somewhere and get something decent to eat? The only real use I can find for this is when you go camping and you can use it to quickly cook something to eat. Still, I think this is one of the worst ways you can spend $36, because this is how much this costs and you can find it on Stupidiotic.


Chrysler to keep the Viper brand and vehicles

As we’ve reported several times in the past, Chrysler has been trying to find a buyer for the Viper brand, but the best offer they received was a $5.5 million bid from Devon MotorWorks. Since the Detroit car maker was not pleased with the offers, they’ve decided to keep the brand, which was transferred to Fiat after Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy. “We’re extremely proud that the ultimate American-built sports car with its world-class performance will live on as the iconic image leader for the Dodge brand,” Dodge brand President and CEO Mike Accavitti said in a statement.

InsideLine has also spoken with a Chrysler spokesman (who asked not to be named) about what Viper versions will be built in the future (the both the Viper SRT10 coupe and roadster were slated to cease production in December 2009) and he added: “My sense is that, since we did not mention any exceptions, we’ll build both models, plus the ACR package.”

I’m sure this is great news for car enthusiasts, because the Viper has been an iconic name in the sports cars market for the past decades and it would’ve been a shame to go down like that. Good to have you back, Viper!


Party invitation teases new Bugatti model

One of the highlights of this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show will defintely be the new Bugatti, a car the whole world has been waiting for a while now. The German show will be around the same time the French car maker will celebrate its 100th anniversary, so the new car launch couldn’t have happened at a better time. And here’s a scanned invitation to the party where the car will first be shown, allowing to get a glimpse of what to expect from the new super Bugatti.

Unlike other car maker, Bugatti has managed to keep the car a secret, so all we have is pure speculation. Judging by the scanned invitation, the new car looks like a modern interpretation of classic Bugatti cars, with that awesome vertically mounted LED CHMSL (Center High Mounted Stop Lamps). This proves Bugatti will remain in the ultra luxury market, where it will compete the Phantom range from Rolls Royce and the upcoming Grand Bentley flagship, which will debut next month at the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance. And it seems this will be some kind of fratricide war, because according to some rumors, VW Group will use the Bentley platform for the new Bugatti, instead of creating a whole new one for the new model. But, like I said, this is only speculation and we hope that, as the launch date approaches, Bugatti will get more sloppy and more details about the car will leak.


Top Gear Season 13 Episode 4

Top Gear Season 13 Episode 1

Last night I finally had time to watch the latest Top Gear episode which was really entertaining, as usual. The episode debuted with Jeremy presenting the new Ford Focus RS, which seems to be an incredible car. I remember reading about it in the Top Gear magazine and Jeremy was very impressed with it. But of course, Richard must mess with Jeremy’s tastes, because he challenges him and his RS to race a Renault Megane R26R. After a few laps where they also exchange cars, they both agree both cars are fun to drive, with a little plus for the RS (even though the Megane was faster around the track), which is much more practical than the Renault. Watch this part here.

After the news part, Richard and James went on and tries to raced the Royal Mail service in the new Porsche Panamera. How exactly did they do that? Well, they sent a letter from the Scilly Isles (the most south-westerly part of Britain) to Orkney Islands, up in the north and then tried to see if they could beat it in the Panamera. We’re gonna let you watch the race (part 1 and part 2) and see who won.

After this part, it was time for the “celebrity in a reasonably priced car” part, where Jeremy had the fastest man on Earth, Usain Bolt, as his guest. Bolt, which is a big car fan, was very funny and he even talked about his BMW M3, which we wrote about some time ago and about the recent crash he was involved in. Watch this part here.

As for the final part of the show, there was Jeremy racing a Mitsubishi Evo VII (this one) against some “creatures” from the British army. I don’t know why, but I didn’t really liked this part as it seemed to be a little too staged for my tastes. Still, this part was also pretty entertaining and you can watch it here (part 1) and here (part 2).

Below is the Focus RS presentation and the race against the Megane R26R. Enjoy!


Convertible Mercedes Benz E Class spotted at Nurburgring

Some time ago we were invited to a Mercedes Benz event were, among others, we had the chance to see and drive the new E Class Coupe. We didn’t get the chance to completely see what this car can do, but we were really impressed with its look. It’s an almost perfect mix between sporty and elegant and for the first time since the A5 was born we had the feeling something’s about to change in our wishlists for Santa. And while Audi has waited a few years before launching the cabrio version of the A5, it seems that Mercedes have their homework done, because here is a recent set of spy photos showing a convertible E Class almost completely undisguised doing some high-speed testing on the Nurburgring track.

Mercedes hasn’t released any official info on the car so far, but the engine line-up will probably be the same from the E Class and the E Coupe and rumors keep showing up about Mercedes launching an innovative new wind protection system on the E Cabrio. As for the AMG version, Mercedes is still saying there won’t be any (for the E Coupe or Cabrio) but that doesn’t mean we can’t go on hoping they’ll change their minds someday.

Meanwhile, check out more spy photos on World Car Fans.


74 yo Chinese man fights unsafe drivers with brick

Yan Zheng-Ping is a 74 year old retired literature teacher from the Qilihe district in Lanzhou, China who has decided to take a new approach in protesting against drivers who drive through red lights…he used a brick to vandalize 30 vehicles that broke the law and passed through the red lights. That’s a little odd, but I guess the situation must be kinda desperate over there, because in an interview for the Beijing Times, the man said that during the past 6 months, 6 people had been killed by cars on the city’s zebra crossings.

What’s interesting is that there weren’t any angry drivers to get out of their cars and beat the crap out of him, as I imagine it would’ve happened in any other country. However, what he did was pretty risky and he didn’t get away without a few scratches: “That evening when I smashed cars, one vehicle rushed behind me wildly, scrapping my body. I turned around and wanted to throw the brick at it, but I couldn’t raise my arm as it had been injured.”

You can read more about Zheng-Ping, what made him do this and the consequences in a full interview by Beijing Times.


Peugeot RCZ teaser photos released

There are still two whole months until the Frankfurt Motor Show will debut, in September, and we’ve already got a few great cars whose debut is scheduled for the German show. After yesterday we wrote about the Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Gullwing and the Kia Cee’d facelift, today we’ve got another one, the Peugeot RCZ. Exactly two years after the 308 RCZ concept debuted at the Frankfurt show, Peugeot will now introduce the production version of the concept, a 2+2 Coupe which the French car maker promises to be “full of emotion, aimed at enthusiasts who are particularly discerning with regards to driving enjoyment.”

So far there’s not much official info available about the car, but we’ve seen several spy shots in the past and now these teaser photos and we can tell Peugeot has managed to keep the car’s styling pretty close to the original concept, which is really great. As for the engine range, there are some rumors about the RCZ being powered by the high-end units from the 308 range, but that’s only speculation; we’ll know more when Peugeot will release further details, closer to launch date.

Full Photo Gallery: Peugeot RCZ teaser photos


New leaked images of the upcoming Mercedes SLS AMG Gullwing

German magazine Autobild has unveiled a new set of official images leaked on the web of the new Mercedes supercar, the SLS AMG Gullwing. These photos show the new uber-Merc undisguised from almost every angle, including a small glimpse of the car’s interior. However, Mercedes has already showed official images with the interior, so we can say the car is basically completely unveiled and we know what to expect in September at the Frankfurt Motor Show when the car is scheduled to make its official debut.

I don’t know about you, but the car, which is a modern interpretation of the 1954 Mercedes 300 SL looks absolutely amazing and I can’t wait for September to get to the auto show and see it live. And I also have a feeling it will also be a blast to drive, because under the hood there’ll be a large 6.2 liter V8 engine which will deliver 571 hp (420 kW) and 650 Nm (479 lb-ft) of torque, enough to take the SLS from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.8 seconds and up to a top speed of 315 km/h (196 mph).

Photo Gallery: Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Gullwing leaked photos


First images of the 2010 Kia Cee’d facelift show up

One of the best selling cars in Europe, the Kia Cee’d has been around for some time now, so the Korean car maker decided to give the Cee’d range a fresh look, which will be first seen at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. From what we can see in this first official photo, the car’s front part has been almost completely redesigned, with restyled headlights, new front grille and new front bumper with new rectangular foglights. The restyling was performed under the guidance of Kia’s Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer and will include all the models in the Cee’d range: the 5-door version, the Sporty Wagon and the 3-door pro_cee’d.


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