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2006 Honda Civic Hybrid

Published by on Jul 11th, 2006, No Comments

Although the ‘Hollywood-endorsed’ Toyota Prius has dominated the hybrid market for the last few years, Honda are looking to take Toyota head on in this particular market, starting with the 2006 Civic Hybrid.

Just one look at this hybrid is enough to make you realise that Honda are serious this time.
Honda have delved into the hybrid market before with the Honda Insight, the last-generation Civic Hybrid as well as the last-generation Accord Hybrid. This however is set to be the first major contender for the hybrid title.

However, two noticeable downsides to the new car are already apparent:

Firstly, it will not be known as the Civic Hybrid. It will in fact be known by its full name …. “Civic 1.4 IMA ES CVT”. Okay, so it’s not really that much of a downside … I suppose we can always call it what we want.

Secondly, there will only be a 4-door sedan model being released. Okay, I suppose this isn’t much of a downside either, but then – for most of us – a sportier-looking 2-door model would have been appreciated.

Civic Hybrid Interior

Coming in at an estimated R170k – R190k, it’s somewhat cheaper than the Prius, so that may well be a major selling point.
One way or the other, within the next year or two, we’ll know whether or not the Civic Hybrid is going to be capable of knocking the Toyota Prius off of its pedestal.

Fabian Schoonraad

2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Published by on Jul 10th, 2006, 4 Comments

It was only a matter of time. The 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (R-TBA; Fall 2006) is the first 4-door and first 5-passenger Wrangler in Jeep’s 65-year history. The Hummer-like 4×4 is 21-inches longer than the standard Wrangler, and has 46.4 cubic feet of cargo space. It packs a 3.8-liter V6, Sun Rider soft top or Freedom Top 3-piece modular hard top, and has an available 368-watt Infinity sound system with subwoofer.

EA Games announces Need for Speed: Zoopedup edition!

Published by on Jul 10th, 2006, 3 Comments

Ok, not really, but at least I got your attention! The real news is that EA has announced the development of the latest game in the Need for Speed series, titled NFS: Carbon

The game is being developed by EA’s ‘Black Box’ department in Vancouver, British Columbia. That’s in Canada, for those of you who failed Geography in high school. As is usual for games still in the development stage, the press release is pretty tight-lipped about exactly what the new game will include. What we do know is that it will follow a similar thread to that started in NFS Underground 2, only this time it will include police!! Think NFS Underground 2 combined with NFS Most Wanted. For those that enjoyed both games as much as I did (i.e. a WHOLE LOT) this game should be a dream come true.

If you’re anything like me, there are hundreds, if not thousands of mods that you would do to your car if only you had the cash, or, there are dozens of cars you would love to be driving but simply can’t afford. The Underground series and Most Wanted have always satisfied this desire of mine quite comprehensively, and Carbon looks set to do the same: The Black Box team has developed a new technology called ‘Autosculpt’, which EA is calling ‘Ground Breaking’. They’re being annoyingly secretive about what that means for the game, only revealing that it will allow the player more power than ever to tweak the heck out of your car and your crew’s cars.

“Wait just a second there, Random!”, I hear you say, “You just said ‘crew’s cars’!”

Yes, reader, you heard correctly: CREW’S cars! For the first time in the NFS series, it looks like we’ll have some degree of control over several ‘crew’ cars, instead of just our own. So, rather than the whole game being focussed on your own individual progress through the game, it would appear that you will be part of a street racing team whose performance in the various races in which you participate, will ultimately affect your overall and individual progress in various ways.

There are a couple of small screenshots and a teaser video on the game’s home page (see below), and from those come several more clues as to the game’s content-to-be:

Muscle cars seem to be part of the action (should appeal to those die-hard mustang fans out there!)

The game environment will be free-roam and thus similar to Underground 2 and Most Wanted, except if the trailer is anything to go by, the racing will once again take place at night.

Don’t hold me to it, but it would appear that the top marques from Most Wanted, like Porsche and Lamborghini, will be included in the final release of NFS Carbon.

The player, it seems, will have more control over a wider variety of modifications to their vehicle. I personally would love to have more control over the engine modifications to my car in game, but we’ll have to wait and see.

You can be sure that I’ll keep you all updated as and when EA releases more details. The game is scheduled for release towards the end of the year, probably around the same time that the Playstation 3 is released, and it will be available for every conceivable gaming platform out there, so you will have no excuse for not playing it!

Check out the press release here:


Richard Hagan

‘Random Richard’


Montoya out of Formula 1

Published by on Jul 10th, 2006, No Comments

It has been confirmed: Montoya will not have a driver’s seat in the 2007 Formula 1 season.

Juan Pablo Montoya

Montoya, after a very quick negotiation with Chip Ganassi has decided to leave the Formula 1 paddocks in favour of NASCAR in 2007.

Montoya has driven for Ganassi in the past, helping him take the CART (now Champ Car) title in 1999.
Ganassi was reported as saying, “It’s nice to have somebody in your car that wants to be there, wants to be with your team, wants to be a part of it.

Although I’m certain there are countless female spectators wiping tears out of their eyes, I’m equally certain that most F1 fans will be glad to see the back of the ‘pretty-boy of Formula 1′, Juan Pablo, if only based on his tendency to drive dangerously and with little concern for the safety of other drivers on the circuit.

Fabian Schoonraad

Formula 1 – What is it and why is it so popular?

Published by on Jul 9th, 2006, No Comments

Formula 1. What’s it all about?
Well, this is something I’ve spent a lot of (some would say “too much”) time thinking about.
First and foremost, Formula 1 is about passion. Either you have it or you don’t.
Hopefully this article will provoke more people to at least give the sport a try, but we’ll see how things go as we progress.

F1 Racing

This is going to be a little lengthy, so stop right here, go to the kitchen, make some coffee and grab a bite to eat. Then, come back and allow me the opportunity to initiate you into the world that is Formula 1.

Back so soon? Okay then ……… let us begin.

If you ask any non-Formula 1 fan what it’s all about, the most common answer is, “A bunch of cars riding around in a circle for 2 hours.”
Well yes, it is a bunch of cars riding around in a circle for 2 hours. The same as how soccer is a bunch of guys kicking a round thing to each other inside a rectangle for 90 minutes.

No, F1 is more than just the obvious. It’s a heck of a lot more complicated and technical than most people imagine.
F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport. In fact, until recently it was the one place where you could go to see all the latest technological advances in the automotive industry. I say “until recently” because the FIA (Fédération Internationale de I’Automobile) has tightened its grip on the sport in the last two years and many ‘technological advancements’ are rated as being ‘dangerous’ because they increase the speed at which these cars race around in that ‘circle’.
But more on that later…….. Let’s get back to the basics.

I think, to begin, we should start with the cars. A Formula 1 car is not just a car. Actually, it’s probably more appropriate to liken it to sitting in a deck-chair with a rocket strapped to your back. The only thing that sets an F1 car apart from a rocket-propelled sunbathing apparatus is the fact that you’re probably a lot safer in the chair.
No, I’m just kidding. First and foremost, an F1 car is designed for safety. The cockpit is probably the most important aspect of a modern day F1 car. The reason? What good is a car if the person driving it has an expected life-span of less that 1 year? Each and every driver has at least one accident (major or minor) during the course of a single season. While the rest of the car is designed to crumble (to lessen the impact force) the cockpit is designed to enclose the driver in what is effectively a cocoon of safety.

With around 950bhp, revving at over 19,000rpm and drinking about 75 litres of petrol in 100km, the engine of a Formula 1 car is designed for optimum performance and is only expected to last for no more than 2 races (That’s a life cycle of about 700km) after which a new engine is built. A Formula 1 car can launch itself from a stationery position to 100km per hour in under 3 seconds. (Remember that deck-chair we were talking about earlier? Now it’s a little easier to understand the comparison.)

Aerodynamics (without which, you’re once again strapped into that rocket-launcher/deck-chair) also plays an integral role in the design of an F1 car. Aerodynamics allow the car to reach those horrendous speeds while turning corners without becoming an unexpected single-seater jet.

Tyres play an important role as well, for obvious reasons. (Without them, the car is nothing more than a 2 million dollar paperweight.)
Tyre manufacturers strive to have the lightest, yet most reliable tyre. The lifespan of a tyre in F1 is about 200km and each tyre costs in the range of about $60,000.
The three tyre types are ‘dry’, ‘intermediate’ and ‘wet’. The fundamental difference between these is basically the softness/hardness of the tyre and the amount of grooves in said tyre.

But, what good is a car that can go very quickly without the ability to stop it eventually?
In order to lessen the risk, it was decided that adding breaks to the cars made more sense than simply crashing the car into the closest wall.
The breaks on an F1 car are so advanced that they are capable of stopping an F1 car doing 160km/h in just over half the distance that a normal car can stop from 100km/h.

A Formula 1 driver is also considered to be at the forefront of motorsport and he requires a super licence in order to officially race. Gaining a super licence is no small feat either. A driver has to clock at least 1000 hours in a Formula 1 car to obtain his licence and as such, many drivers started their Formula 1 careers as test drivers.
Apart from being highly skilled, an F1 driver also has to be pretty darn small. The cockpit of a Formula 1 car is minute and most normal-sized men would be hard pressed to squeeze themselves into one.
Although only slightly larger than your average 12 year old, an F1 driver has to be incredibly fit in order to race.
As hard as it may seem to believe, F1 drivers are among the most highly conditioned athletes in the world.
“How hard can it be to drive a car?”, I hear you ask?
Well, if you consider that these drivers have to withstand anything up to a sustained 3.5 g while cornering …. and if you consider that most drivers will lose up to 3kg of body fluid during a single race, I think it’s fair to at least give them the benefit of the doubt.

So now that we’ve looked at the cars and the drivers, lets take a gander at that ‘circle’ they ride around in……
A Formula 1 track is not just a twisty, turny stretch of tarmac. No, it is a specifically designed track made to test and utilise all the driving skills required from an F1 driver as well as all the abilities of the Formula 1 car itself. With fast corners, slow corners, hairpins and straights, it’s physically and technically demanding on the driver and car and is designed to punish even a momentary loss of concentration.
Interesting fact: All Formula 1 tracks have to use FIA approved tar on the circuit.

Now that we’ve gotten all that technical stuff out of the way, let me go back to what I was saying about the FIA tightening its grip on F1.
The FIA is the governing body behind Formula 1. They make all the rules and regulations around the sport.
Of late, the FIA has started becoming concerned about two things:
1. Cost: Formula 1 is an expensive sport.
2. Safety: Formula 1 is also a dangerous sport.
In order to control both of these things, they’ve been very tight-fisted about what can and can’t be done on the race track. They’ve inhibited growth and curbed technological advancements to such an extent that some say that F1 is no longer the pinnacle of motorsport but is instead, just another form of track racing.
I for one agree but my passion runs deep and I will forever be a fan.

Unfortunately, Formula 1 (like any sport) can not fully be explained in words. Like the Matrix, you have to see it for yourself.
So, do yourself a favour ………. take the ‘red pill’ and see how far the rabbit hole that is Formula 1 goes.
(Okay, so maybe I took ‘The Matrix’ thing a little too far…………..

Fabian Schoonraad

Bridgestone selected as sole tyre supplier for F1 2007

Published by on Jul 9th, 2006, No Comments

When the FIA announced in May that they were planning on implementing a rule in 2008 stating that only one tyre manufacturer may supply tyres to the F1 teams, many people were hoping that they’d change their minds along the way.

Bridgestone Tyres

It appears however that this will not be the case.

The FIA announced on Thursday (6th) that Bridgestone will be the sole tyre supplier for the 2008, 2009 and 2010 Formula 1 seasons.

Currently, tyres are provided by Bridgestone and Michelin with Michelin providing tyres for 6 of the 11 Formula 1 teams.
The FIA were expecting both manufacturers to bid against each other in order to retain their place in F1.
However, Michelin, on hearing the news, opted out of providing tyres for the 2007 season as well, stating that they were in the sport for the purpose of competing against a rival tyre manufacturer. “There’s no point in being competitive if you’re the only competitor.”

The FIA’s decision to allow only a singly manufacturer is based on the fact that they’re trying to reduce the cost of competing in F1 and also to minimise risk. “Two competing manufacturers increases the risks they take by enabling cars to corner at higher speeds. This is unnacceptable.”

So it seems a ‘Goodbye’ is in order. With only 8 races left in the 2006 season, I personally hope that Michelin can end off with their final year with a bang.

Fabian Schoonraad

Computers used to steal cars

Published by on Jul 8th, 2006, No Comments

Computers are apparently being used to start cars, in a new wave of vehicle thefts. Three men out on bail for a vehicle theft case were arrested on Wednesday on new charges of vehicle theft, said North Rand police.


EXPOSED: All-new Merc C-Class

Published by on Jul 8th, 2006, No Comments

We believe that our artist impression of the all-new C-Class, which is based on the most recent spy photos and some insider info, is pretty close to the real thing.The newcomer is to break cover at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2007 and South African sales will probably kick off about three months after that.

The C-Class will be rear-wheel-driven but 4MATIC all-wheel-drive derivatives will also be available.

Naturally Mercedes will also give the engine range a boost and it will come with a variety of four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines.

Rumours have it that the range topping AMG model will get Merc’s 378 kW 6.3-litre V8 engine, positioning the high-performance C-Class an edge above arch rivals such as the Audi RS4 and upcoming BMW M3.