2011 Porsche Cayenne S

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2011 Porsche Cayenne S

Camry hybrid a top performer

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What’s Toyota’s Camry hybrid like to drive? Rob Maetzig takes the top model out for a spin.

It could be said that the single outstanding feature about Toyota’s Camry hybrid is that there isn’t anything outstanding about it.

For all intents and purposes, it is just another Aussie-built Camry. It drives like one – albeit more powerfully and frugally than the others – and from the perspectives of specification and passenger space, the only real difference is that it has less room in the boot because that’s where the hybrid’s battery pack is stored.

But that’s the intention behind this car. It is intended to be as mainstream as any other vehicle on the new-car market today, and in doing so, garnering increasing acceptance of hybrid technology as just another means of achieving the improved fuel consumption and lowered exhaust emissions that are increasingly being demanded of the world’s vehicles these days.

It’s all part of a grand plan by Toyota Motor Corporation to introduce up to eight more new hybrid models over a reasonably short period of time, with 90 per cent of them emphasising the importance the marque is placing on the vehicles being cars first, and hybrids second – in other words, marketing them as nothing other than conventional vehicles.

And, after just having spent a week behind the wheel of a top-of-the-line Camry i-Tech hybrid, I have to say that this is exactly what this car is.

There are only minor differences.

The first is when you climb into the sedan and hit the ignition button. In typical hybrid fashion, nothing happens – because initially there’s no need for the hybrid system to fire up the petrol engine. So you reverse out of your parking lot in total electric-vehicle silence, and only experience the engine cutting in when more power and torque is required for acceleration.

The second is a collection of various meters and displays that are there to assist the driver achieve the best use of the hybrid system – not that it’s necessary, because the whole point of petrol-electric hybrid technology is that its pretty well idiot-proof anyway.

But this Camry does have what is called an Optitron combination meter that constantly advises what the fuel consumption is, when the driver is in a so-called “eco” zone, and what is happening to the car’s energy flow.

This is all partly replicated in a visual display in the Camry i-Tech’s centre console which can show a choice of an energy monitor, fuel consumption indicator, or even a past record of fuel use. I’ve got to admit that I ignored everything, preferring instead to have the car’s standard satellite navigation system beaming out at me from the visual display in the centre console, and relying only on the information from the speedometer in the Optitron system.

Really, now that hybrid technology has been part of the New Zealand motoring scene for several years, I can’t see the point in having too much of this information on display at any one time. It’s almost a distraction from actually driving the car, and therefore not necessary.

But, at least in the Camry hybrid, all this is not as overpowering as it is in, say, that other Toyota hybrid, the Prius.

There are two Camry hybrids on the market in New Zealand. The base model has been introduced as a replacement for the GLX petrol model and retails for the same $48,990. And then there’s the i-Tech that sits on the top of the Camry lineup at $54,990.

While, on the face of things, that’s quite a bit of money for a four-cylinder car, the i-Tech is well specified and includes full leather upholstery, full electrics, climate-control air conditioning, power glass sunroof, seriously good stereo system, and the satellite navigation.

And of course, it is also a hybrid, which means that while ostensibly it is a four-cylinder car, the petrol-electric combo means it in fact offers 20 per cent more power, but a 30 per cent improvement in fuel economy.

The petrol-electric hybrid system aboard the car is essentially the same as that in the third-generation Prius, but there are differences in size, dimensions and packaging to fit inside the conventional Camry bodyshell.

For example, the series-parallel hybrid system in this car delivers 105kW from the electric motor alone whereas the Prius delivers 60kW, and it provides an instant 270 Newton metres of torque at the wheels from a standing start.

When combined with the car’s 2.4-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine, the system delivers a maximum of 140kW, making the hybrid the most powerful Camry in New Zealand.

I think it is also the best-handling Camry.

Not only is the car the only Camry with electric power- assisted steering, which means it has been able to be uniquely tuned for improved steering feel, but the suspension has also been specially calibrated to cater for the heavier vehicle weight.

Springing and damping is considerably more robust than a standard Camry and there is a new front stabiliser bar. All this combines to let the hybrid feel more like a larger V6-powered Aurion.

But it doesn’t have anywhere near the Aurion fuel economy. Toyota claims the average six litres per 100 kilometres consumption figure is more like a small Yaris hatch, and that this is sufficient to allow an owner to save up to $5000 worth of fuel over three years.

Is that claim enough to convince a prospective owner to stump up the extra cash to buy this hybrid model instead of a standard version?

That all depends on whether low fuel consumption and associated reduced exhaust emissions are considered important.

There are certain things you don’t get with the Camry hybrid – particularly the same amount of boot space as a standard Camry, which is always an important consumer consideration with a car this size.

But, by the same token, there are certain things you do get – very good performance, combined with a chance to do your little bit towards saving the planet.

All in a car that is about as conventional-looking as can be.


RoboSteel Sculpture Car

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A unique, specially commissioned sculpture of an ‘alien-like’ supercar of the future is being built by RoboSteel using parts taken from hundreds of different cars for the 2010 MPH The Prestige & Performance Motor Show.

Based in Ireland, RoboSteel is an innovative company that creates sculptures from recycled steel and the concept supercar will be the first to roll off their production line.

The sculpture will be unveiled at Earls Court, London, between 4 and 7 November 2010 and at the NEC, Birmingham between 11 and 14 November 2010. The car will then be auctioned to raise money for charity.

To create the sculpture the components will be welded together, the sharp edges will be smoothed and polished and then the completed car will be coated with several layers of lacquer to protect it from the elements.

The finished artwork will weigh in excess of 500kg, stand at over one metre tall and will comprise of thousands of individual parts.

The sculpture will take approximately 750 hours to complete and will be shipped to the UK from Ireland in four separate pieces, before being reassembled in Earls Court in time for the first show on Thursday 4th November.

Piyanuch Chanphet, the owner of Robosteel said: “This is the first time we’ve used our design concept to create a supercar. The initial design for the car was created by our art designer Toonrama. The RoboSteel concept supercar is based on the complex designs and structures of south Indian temples and the Kirtimukha sculptures that are positioned at the entrance to these temples. Dave Murphy from Dublin Ink has added an Alien theme to a second design drawing. RoboSteel will use both drawings to craft the Alien Supercar and we are really looking forward to this project.

“All of our previous projects have been focused on building alien and futuristic creatures but we’ve been involved with the MPH Show for a couple of years now and it feels like the right time to develop our style, and design a concept car. This sculpture when completed will be one of a kind and destined to become a museum piece in the future.”

MPH The Prestige & Performance Motor Show featuring Top Gear Live will take place at Earls Court from November 4-7th and the NEC in Birmingham between November 11-14th.

For further information about the show please visit

You can also keep up to date on the concept supercar design and construction process by visiting

COE bid deposit reinstated to $10,000

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The bid deposit for Certificate of Entitlements (COE) in Categories A, B, C and E will be restored to $10,000 from $5,000 for each application.

This takes effect from October’s first bidding exercise starting on Oct 4.

The COE bid deposit is intended to deter frivolous or speculative bids which deny genuine bidders from getting a COE.

In August last year, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) reduced the COE bid deposit by 50% from $10,000 to $5,000 per COE bid application for one year as a temporary relief measure to help businesses and prospective vehicle owners during the economic downturn.

This 1-year temporary reduction, valid for the COE bidding exercises conducted from October 2009 to September 2010, will expire in end September 2010.

As the bid deposit of $200 for Category D is significantly lower that the other COE Categories, no change to the deposit for vehicles in Category D was made.

All other terms and conditions for bidding of a COE remain unchanged.

Information on the COE bid deposit will also be available online at the One Motoring website (

Review: Holux GPS Smile 62F

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Review: Holux GPS Smile 62F

By Yeong Ah Seng

CAR GPS systems have come a long way. It used to be that they provided only road navigation. They can now offer real-time information, including that on traffic conditions, parking availability and weather conditions.

Quantum Inventions, a spin-off from the Centre for High Performance Embedded Systems at Nanyang Technological University, has come up with navigation software, Galactio V8 and Galactio V8 HD, that caters to the requirements of Singapore motorists.

Taking feeds from a RDS-TMC service, information on traffic and road conditions, ERP rates, weather data, flood warning and even parking availability, is fed to the GPS device.

The driver is thus totally clued in on what is happening.

When a pop-up warning of a road accident or closure ahead appears on the GPS screen, the driver can take an alternative route, instead of being sucked into the vortex of an endless jam, which is what many hapless motorists experience.

Information such as parking- space availability and ERP rates and ERP minimalisation (routing to reduce ERP charges) is most useful to motorists who have to contend with growing challenges to their ability to move freely around Singapore.

Yes, they cannot evade the ever- widening net of traffic restrictions but, if there is a smart way to lessen the pain, it would be nice to have.

Holux’s GPS Smile 62F is an affordable accessory with a fairly intuitive user interface. And, compared to built-in navigation systems, software upgrades can be installed easily.

If only a bigger screen version were available, that would be even better.

How much: $199 for GPS unit and $69 for a two-year subscription to RDS-TMC service

source :

AutoMoneyBack thoughts: This is totally cool. If every GPS system actually have live, reliable updates, we might be able to avoid accident caused related traffic jams. However it would totally be still useless for jams that occurs daily due to peak hours

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