Rpmgo.com – Read the latest auto news and opinions, see the coolest cars – Part 98

The problem of texting, or worse speaking on the phone while driving, has been talked about for quite some time. Recently the US government held a public debate on whether or not texting and cell phone usage should be banned for truck or bus drivers, as they jeopardize the safety of other traffic participants.

This has generated some pretty negative reactions from truck drivers, which said that their whole business depends on staying in contact with headquarters or the client. But to no avail, as the government has passed the bill which effectively bans the use of a mobile phone while driving big machinery.

Those found guilty of such a crime will support a fine of up to $2,750. The Department of Transportation also revealed that other legal remedies will be researched in the following time period so that road safety will be increased and accidents due to driver distraction will become less frequent.

Read More: “USA bans texting and cell phone usage for truck and bus drivers”

Mazda has just unveiled the newest facelift made to its mid-size sedan, the Atenza, as it is known in Japan, or simply Mazda6, as it is known everywhere else in the world. The new restyle closely follows the Zoom-Zoom philosophy, and borrows from models like the current Mazda3.

The changes aren’t extremely noticeable, but fans will definitely observe the new five-point grille, giving the car a sportier feel, and will also be able to check out the revamped rear spoiler, and choose from 17 or 18-inch wheels. Two new colors were also added: Clear Water Blue Metallic and Midnight Bronze Mica. On the inside, piano black trim will now be available for the center console, gearshift knob, and doors, giving the Mazda6 a classier look.

In terms of engines, the company announced that a new 2.0-liter DISI direct-injection gasoline unit, which will comply with all the latest emissions regulations, and will also be joined by a 1.8 and 2.5-liter units of the same variety. Diesel engines will be able to choose from three flavors of the 2.2-liter engine, offering anything from 129 and 180 HP.

Other changes were made under the body, with upgraded suspension, chassis and steering, so that customers can enjoy a better ride.

The Mazda Atenza will soon be available on the Japanese Domestic Market, while the Mazda6 will be shown during the Geneva Motor Show and launched later this year in all other territories.

Read More: “Mazda unveils facelifted Atenza/Mazda6 for Japanese market, European version arriving in Geneva”

The guys at Brabus haven’t missed any new Mercedes-Benz model and offer a wide range of customization options and upgrades for almost all vehicles in the lineup. The latest to get such a treatment is the GL Class, with the big, heavy SUV getting a new engine, courtesy of the ML 63 AMG, and various other enhancements.

The engine has been modified to deliver 650 HP with 850 NM of torque, enough to propel the SUV to a top speed of 186.4 mph (300 km/h). 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) is achieved in a pretty reasonable 4.7 seconds. The engine is also coupled with a modified Speedshift 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox, which channels its power to all four wheels.

Other upgrades include a new intake and exhaust, upgraded brakes, suspension and a set of 23-inch wheels, wrapped in performance tires. Brabus offers its Widestar exterior design package, which includes 3cm wide fender flares, a new front apron, bigger air inlets, LED daytime running lights, underfloor lighting and four new extra headlamps. For the back, a new roof spoiler, restyled front apron, a rear diffuser and a set of quad-pipe exhaust were also fitted.

On the inside, customers will be treated to new materials such as Mastik leather, Alcantara, and a choice of either wood or carbon fiber inserts. There are plenty of colors to choose from, and LCD screens can be installed for the rear passengers with DVD playback capabilities.

The cost for this bespoke luxury? Just €368,000 ($517,849).

Read More: “Brabus unveils Mercedes-Benz GL 63 Biturbo”

BMW is still quite confident in its X5 M and X6 M performance models, and has just released the third part of its Snow Action web series, in which the cars are thrown around various winter challenges, like drifting, going up and down a hill and now, in the latest video, gaining traction in slippery conditions like ice.

To do this, the company took the two cars on an ice skating rink. The same recipe is also used, with the BMW drivers showcasing the electronic systems of the X5 and X6 M models, which can get traction even on the ice from the skating rink, and then those systems are turned off, and the guys unleash the power of the big SUVs.

Hit the jump and see the BMW X5 M and X6 M pirouette on the ice like big, heavy, mechanized figure skaters.
Read More: “Video: BMW takes X5 M and X6 M on the ice skating rink”

The horse power race has been going on for as long as we can remember, but during recent times, when fuel consumption and emissions regulations are becoming stricter and stricter, not only do we see engines getting smaller and adopting turbo or superchargers, but also a certain point for the HP of new supercars.

For Lamborghini, such a point is around 700 HP, according to its CEO, Stephan Winkelmann, which has revealed to AutoWeek that the company will begin researching weight saving techniques and material for future cars, instead of increasing the engine size, the output or the top speed.

He goes on to say that after a certain point, an increase in HP, like Lambo did with the new LP670-4 SV (pictured above) from the LP640, is hardly felt, but the loss of weight the new car experienced, around 220 pounds, was immediately experienced by drivers.

As such, Lamborghini will begin using composite materials, with anything from carbon fiber to titanium or aluminum and anything in between, in order to shave the pounds and improve acceleration times. Winkelmann also revealed that Start-Stop technology is being researched, but it’s not that easy to adapt it to big engines like the V10 or V12 units Lamborghini uses on the Gallardo or Murcielago.

I tend to agree with the Lambo CEO, while it’s nice to brag about how your car has x amount of HP or it can reach x mph, it’s how it gets there and how you feel in it that makes a difference. What do you think?

Read More: “Lamborghini will decrease weight rather than increase power in its future models”

Saab is once again thrown into the spotlight of the automotive media during these last few days, as reports were coming in yesterday about how GM and Spyker may have reached an understanding in regards to the Swedish brand.

But those rumors were quickly debunked by GM’s new permanent CEO, Ed Whitacre, which revealed that there are no big news to announce in regards to Saab. Now, Spyker has also released a statement in which it revealed that talks with GM are still ongoing and no outcome has been reached as of yet.

New rumors have also appeared about Spyker changing the investor group behind it, the Russian Convers Group, which wasn’t approved by GM, with that of Dutch billionaire Marcel Boekhoorn, in order to please the American company which didn’t want any of its technology from Saab to fall under Russian influence (somebody might want to tell them that the cold war is over).

While yesterday an end to the Saab odyssey might have been in sight, things are once again quite blurry. Stay tuned for more details as they will be revealed.

Read More: “Saab negotiations are still underway, Spyker reveals”

Besides unveiling the new livery which will be featured by its race cars during the 2010 season of Formula 1, Mercedes GP has also presented a video with its drivers, cars and a brief history of what happened during recent months, after Mercedes-Benz bought the Brawn GP team and brought in famous driver Michael Schumacher.

In it, both Schumacher and his teammate, Nico Rosberg, share their feelings about the new team and the upcoming season, with Schumacher saying that the goal is to win the championship, something which is easier said than done.

Hit the jump to enjoy the footage with Mercedes GP.
Read More: “Video: Mercedes GP Formula 1 team presents itself”

Citroen is very busy promoting the upcoming DS3 premium hatchback model, which not only will revive the DS moniker, but also mark the brand’s entry into a more premium segment, in order to take the fight to rivals like Mini or the upcoming Audi A1.

But according to some new reports, Citroen is also considering a hot hatch version of the DS3, in order to rival the Mini Cooper S. And what’s more interesting is that it will do it with the same 1.6-liter BMW engine, as the company is currently sharing units with the German brand.

The current top-of-the-range DS3 will extract 154 HP from the 1.6-liter four-cylinder, meaning the hot hatch will output much more, with some voices pegging it at around a whopping 200 HP, although it might just have around 170-180.

Overall, with this new hot DS3, the current Mini Cooper S, the upcoming Audi S1 and quite a few other compact hatches, things are definitely heating up.

Read More: “Citroen considering DS3 hot hatch to rival Mini Cooper S”

Porsche has always been associated with powerful sportscars, and in recent times with heavy SUVs and powerful albeit controversially-designed sedans. But with the new generation of the Cayenne, it will also be associated with hybrids, as the model will boast a petrol-electric hybrid version based on the Cayenne S edition.

Not much was known up until now, but the guys at Autocar had a recent go in it, and have revealed some very interesting things. First off, the car will use an Audi-sourced supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine, capable of 325 HP and 324 lb-ft of torque, coupled with an electric motor capable of 38 kW and 184 lb-ft, which generate a combined output of 375 HP, 20 HP short of the regular Cayenne S which uses a 4.8-liter V8.

The battery powering the electric motor is located under the boot floor, and can allow the car to use the electric motor for just 1.2 miles and under 31 mph. A few other fuel saving systems were added, like a lighter Torsen four-wheel drive system, similar with the one used by the Audi Q7, and the eight-speed automatic gearbox will be decoupled from the engine, at speeds up to 98 mph, enabling the heavy SUV to “sail” according to Porsche.

All of these tricks will enable the Cayenne S hybrid to be the most fuel efficient vehicle in the whole Porsche lineup, averaging 34.5 mpg and emitting just 193 g/km of CO2. Performance won’t be sacrificed, with the German company promising a 0 to 62 mph time of 6.5 seconds and a towing capacity of 7,700 lb (3,500 kg).

Its drivers will be able to constantly monitor the hybrid drivetrain through a touchscreen monitor which displays the percentage of electric drive used while driving.

Overall, the Porsche Cayenne S hybrid sounds pretty good. What do you think? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

Read More: “New details on Porsche Cayenne S hybrid appear”

Even though yesterday it was speculated that GM and Spyker might have reached an understanding in regards to the Swedish brand Saab, during today’s press conference, the company’s former interim CEO, now permanent CEO Ed Whitacre revealed that there is nothing to announce.

“We have not changed our direction on the wind down of Saab’s operations,” he said. “There have been advanced talks with Spyker but we have no deal to announce this morning. If and when we do we will let you know and that’s my only comment on the issue.”

He also commented on his new status of permanent CEO, saying that his company needs stability. “I don’t think going permanent will change much going forward, I am just trying to do the right thing for this company and its people. What this place needs now is stability.”

Read More: “GM says it has no new Saab announcements, names Ed Whitacre permanent CEO”

The Mini Countryman is certainly a welcomed change in the current Mini lineup according to many of its fans. After it was teased by a couple of concepts and even some funky camouflage footage, we now have two new videos of the recent addition to the Mini family.

In case the new car got you really excited, then you can just hit the jump and indulge yourselves in these two new videos. Enjoy!
Read More: “Mini Countryman presents itself in two new videos”

It’s been almost 55 years since Mercedes-Benz had its own Formula 1 racing team, as up until recently it has just partnered up with other teams, like McLaren, now, after it has bought reigning F1 champion team Brawn GP, you can be sure it will definitely promote the new team, Mercedes GP Petronas.

The first step was yesterday’s unveiling of the 2010 season livery, which will be featured by the cars the team will race, piloted by Nico Rosberg and an older guy, going by the name of Michael Schumacher. As you can see, it brings back the classic silver theme, which earned Mercedes and Auto Union Formula 1 cars the name Silver Arrows during the 1950s.

The MGP W01 2010 race car is set to be unveiled next week during the tests scheduled to take place in Valencia, when we will see if Schumacher, Rosberg or Mercedes can perform as expected. Until then, we can enjoy the new livery.

Read More: “Mercedes GP unveils its 2010 Formula 1 livery”

Without a doubt one of the greatest riders in recent history is Valentino Rossi, managing to win an astounding six MotoGP titles and will be targeting a seventh one during the 2010 season. But while he isn’t busy riding on two wheels for Yamaha in MotoGP, the Italian has also honed his skills with four-wheel vehicles.

And don’t think any regular car, as the bike rider went straight to Ferrari and asked to borrow its Formula 1 race car and take for a few laps on the Jerez circuit. The performance of the Italian impressed everyone, as he managed to constantly improve his lap times.

This has really given its Yamaha manager Davide Brivio something to worry about, as he has just declared that such performance in another sport might make him change his profession. “I have to be worried about these excellent times because Valentino really could get the desire to change sport. The greatest danger is Ferrari (not MotoGP rivals Ducati),” said the team boss.

Ferrari has expressed interest in Rossi, but according to the team manager, Stefano Domenicali, such a possibility would exist only if a third car was eligible to race in future Formula 1 seasons.

Read More: “Yamaha fears it might lose Valentino Rossi to Ferrari”

The Tata Nano has become nothing short of a phenomenon in the last few years, even though it is present on its native Indian market for just a short amount of time. This popularity was largely generated by its extremely low price of around $2,000, in its standard spec.

With plans to release it in other markets, like Europe or North America, you can be sure that Tata will make some changes to the Indian-spec model, and add more features, in order to attract customers from those markets, changes which will definitely increase the asking price.

Now, according to a new report, that asking price might be as high as $8,000 when the car will eventually hit North America sometimes next year. Why the triple price? Tata Technologies president, Warren Harris explains:

The structural changes that would need to be made, the changes that would be required as far as emissions are concerned, and some of the features that would be appropriate to add to the vehicle for the North American market, obviously that would drive up the price point.

You can also expect to see a more powerful engine in the Nano, with the two-cylinder 600cc unit being replace with at least a 1-liter engine, capable of taking the small city car to 90 mph, which is blazing fast as opposed to the current 65 mph limit of the Nano.

Would you still be interested in a Tata Nano even though its price is much higher? Leave a comment below.

Read More: “US-spec Tata Nano to cost as much as $8,000”

During the last episode of season 14 of Top Gear, presenter Jeremy Clarkson took the BMW X6 model in a variety of places in order to test it out. One test proved it can’t go up grassy hills, while another showed it can’t even handle properly on snowy roads.

But now, with the second part of its Snow Action series, which features the X5 M and X6 M, BMW has proved Clarkson wrong, and tasked two of its drivers to take the models up and down a certified ski track.

Ironically, the drivers went up the hill by using a typical Clarkson recipe: send all the power of the engine to the wheels and floor it.

See the whole video by hitting the jump.
Read More: “Video: BMW proves X5 M and X6 M can go up snowy hills”