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Month: December 2014

Telegram: What’s it all about?

Telegram: What’s it all about?

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Remember when, Facebook (you might have heard of these guys they’re a pretty small startup in the Valley), bought Whatsapp for 22 billion dollars? Of course you do, it was the news story of the year as far as social networking is concerned.

With a user base of over 600 million users, things are looking up for the cross-platform mobile messenger as they continue to operate independently within Facebook. As for now, the only noticeable change as of now is the blue ‘ticks’ which solved the mystery of whether that infamous faded double tick meant that the message sent was read or not.

The other change was that there were a couple of outages, where everyone migrated to ‘Telegram’ in Whatsapp’s downtime, thus propelling it up in the app store charts . Now essentially, Telegram operates the same way as Whatsapp, with the same loveable cartoony wallpapers and that ever-so confusing double tick which no one seems to understand. So, it’s basically just another IM standalone app right?

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Motorola’s first 360 ads bring the class, style, and reality

Motorola’s first 360 ads bring the class, style, and reality

Moto 360 burritor

All tech these days is advertised as yet another productivity tool. A serious tool for a serious man is what they all scream. Take Apple’s iPad commercials, for instance – this one in particular. Men and women are showing using their iPads to do good, to change the world.

The truth is most don’t use it for that, the truth is that most use it to take selfies, browse 9gag, and play Clash of Clans. That’s not exactly up there with discovering Penicillin, and Motorola knows it.

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The Audi Invasion Continues

The Audi Invasion Continues

 

Audi have revealed two brand new cars within the space of a couple of days, the Q7, a car synonymous with over-protective mothers and drug-barons alike, and the RS3, the enthusiast’s car of choice.

Audiq7front

First the Q7. It still is monstrously big, not as big as before but still quite massive. At just over 5 metres in length, the new car is actually 37cm  shorter than the car which went before it. More importantly, like the current generation Range Rover, this latest generation Q7 is significantly lighter than the previous model. At 1970kg, it is a full 325kg lighter.

q7interior

All engines are EU6-compliant and include a turbocharged 3.0 litre V6 diesel engine producing 268bhp ad a supercharged petrol V6 engine producing 328bhp. Interestingly this generation of Q7 also includes rear-wheel steering to improve agility.

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The second car recently launched was the new RS3. This car produces 362bhp from a 2.5 litre five-cylinder motor. 0-62mph takes 4.3 seconds, which is almost supercar challenging.  Four-wheel-drive is also included in the mix, in a bid to dethrone the mighty Mercedes A45 AMG.

All that power is transferred to all the wheels via a twin-clutch gearbox. The new car is also 55kg lighter than the previous generation car. Needless to say, this car will be incredibly rapid.

 

Jaguar wants a ghost car to guide you to your destination

Jaguar wants a ghost car to guide you to your destination

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Navigation in cars isn’t really ideal at the moment. Most have an aftermarket GPS system or smartphone stuck to their windscreen. Newer cars these days have navigation systems built into a screen in the dash, but very few actually have displays built close to the driver’s line of sight, such as in the instrument cluster. Fewer still incorporate navigational directions in a HUD in the driver’s sight line.

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Bond’s New Aston!

Bond’s New Aston!

james-bond-db10

The time for a new Aston Martin has been long overdue. Frankly, their current range just doesn’t cut the mustard any more and is in need of some revitalisation. Now however, at the announcement event of the new 007 film, Spectre, Aston Martin showed off Mr.Bond’s latest company car, the DB10.

For now this is just the latest Bond film, which I find a little odd, considering he is a spy. A would expect a super spy to have a less conspicuous car, not a one-off Aston Martin. However, that tiny detail will not ruin news of a new Aston Martin.

Aston Martin sources strongly suggest that this DB10 is a car which will make its way to consumers very soon, as a rival for the Porsche 911. Its dimensions are very much akin to the V8 Vantage, and in fact the spine of this vehicle comes from the Vantage, the stiffest car in Aston’s line-up. Powering this gentleman’s cruiser is the same 4.7 litre V8 engine as the Vantage, probably still producing 430 bhp.

aston-martin-db10-photos

The fifty year dominance of the 911 seems to be taking quite  a beating recently with the introduction of the F-Type, the Mercedes AMG GT, the upcoming  Maserati Alfieri and now this DB10. Suddenly, buying a sports car has become a whole lot more difficult.

Ferrari FXX K Revealed

Ferrari FXX K Revealed

Ferrari FxxK Front

The FXX programme is back, with the FXX K. Based on the LaFerrari hypercar, the FXX K is a track-only machine designed for a few distinct clients, to test as-yet unseen technologies which could make their way to future Ferraris. Ferrari will only make forty FXX Ks, all of which are sold out.

The K in the name stands for KERS, the kinetic recovery system complimenting the 6.3 litre V12 engine for a total output of 1036 bhp and over 900 NM of torque. Weight is down too, by about 90kg over the standard LaFerrari. Ferrari has yet to reveal the official details of this car, but it said the FXX K is capable of reaching 62 mph in under 3 seconds and a top speed in excess of 217 mph.

Ferrari FXXK Side

The main thing though, is its design. It is designed with a specific purpose of obliterating any sort of track, but besides that, it just looks brilliant. It looks like it was designed by a nine year old, with giant splitters and massive wings everywhere. All those wings apparently improve downforce by as much as 50%, compared to the LaFerrari. All these modifications mean that the FXX K can lap Ferrari’s Fiorano test track a full five seconds faster than the LaFerrari.

The infamous ‘manettino’ switch, which controls the traction control on all modern Ferraris has been modified for this car to include four new settings. These are Qualify Mode, which provides the maximum power for a small number of laps, Long Run, which sets the car up for longer stints, Manual Boost Mode, which delivers maximum torque instantly, and finally Fast Charge which can recharge the car’s battery. Clearly, the new system has been designed specifically for track use, and it is not entirely clear how this will be translated on to future future road cars. The FXX K isn’t homologated for any race series, but is intended to be a technical showcase for future Ferrari road cars.

Ferrari FXXK Back

Price, you ask? An eye-watering 2.2 million euros. You spend all that money and you don’t even get to take the car home with you. Ferrari keeps the car and every so often it organises a race event for you to drive the car. That is to ensure that clients do not sell the car’s latest innovations to other brands.

While this will not technically have any rivals as the FXX K will be restricted to track use, this car is comparable to Mclaren’s P1 GTR, which produces 986 bhp, and is also a track-only vehicle.  Hopefully, one day, when neither Ferrari nor Mclaren are looking, someone will race them against one another. Here is to hoping.

What to do with a Company like Lotus?

What to do with a Company like Lotus?

Picture-of-Black-Lotus-Car

Is there even place for this company any more? I am talking about actual viability in today’s market, where it is a genuine competitor to today’s established brands, and not remaining the quirky sportscar of choice for those stuck in the past.

Let’s face it, Lotus cars are not up to the standard of  the established brands. Finding out someone has opted for a Lotus over a Porsche is not only surprising, but also a little silly. Sure, Lotus may be an undiluted driving experience, but look at what you are sacrificing in order to go round a corner half a second faster than everyone else. You’ve got no comfort, no in car technology, not even a proper cup holder!

This would be fine if the cars were relatively cheap, but they aren’t  cheap. You don’t even get bulletproof build quality. It still has the feeling of being built by  a couple of ex-RAF pilots in a shed somewhere in Norfolk.

The problem isn’t even that it is still a cottage industry. If it maintained some sort USP, like Morgan or Ariel, it would be fine, but as it stands the Lotus cars are a little anonymous. I, for the life of me, cannot come up with a reason, either logically or emotionally, to buy a Lotus. They are too behind the market to be considered relevant any more.

The last time we were wowed by Lotus was during the reign of Dany Bahar, when he showed up with five concept cars, proudly proclaiming that he shall be bringing Lotus up to the standard of Ferrari. That was over four years ago, and since then Bahar has been relieved of his duties due to a questionable performance. Then there was a minor crisis involving potential investors, which eventually died down, followed shortly by the appointment of ex-PSA chief, Jean-Marc Gales.

Lotus-Lineup
A Bahar future which never came to fruition.

Now, yet again, there is talk of new cars to go toe-to-toe with Porsche. There are strong hints of an SUV and a saloon a la Cayenne and Panamera. Which would be fine, if it weren’t for the choice of engines they seem to interested in. Basically, they are looking to Toyota for engines. Now there is nothing wrong with Toyota engines, but they are not comparable to Porsche’s engines. For them to be even remotely considered they have to either be backed by a big company willing to provide engines (like BMW does for Morgan), or follow Alfa’s lead, put their heads down and create an engine of their own.

But before they dip their toe into the premium market, they want to milk everything out of the current range, with endless special editions. Will it work? I doubt it. If people aren’t buying Lotus cars now, special paint jobs and automatic gearboxes will not tempt buyers. Their cars are sub-standard. Why spend £50k on a Lotus, when for the same money you can buy something as beautiful as a 4C or as technically perfect as the Cayman. It appears to me, that Lotus do not have a clear direction of where they are, and where they should be going. They are in a state of limbo, unable to progress with the current crop of cars , and unable to progress unless they sell some cars.

So what is the solution? Well a BMW-Morgan relationship would have some serious potential to Lotus.  A company like Mercedes could take Lotus to great heights, providing them with engines, gearboxes and infotainment systems, whilst allowing Lotus to grow and thrive in the sportscar market. As it stands Mercedes hasn’t got a share of the sportscar market, so a potential partnership with Lotus could be  beneficial to both. Mercedes would get a toe in the market,  as well as key knowledge from Lotus on weight saving and chassis development. Lotus would gain a sugar-daddy with enough resources to make them viable.  Then, Lotus may finally become a viable car manufacturer with a future.