Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gas prices rise along with interest in motorcycles

Click on the image for more high-res shots of the Night Rod Special

As you may have noticed, we've been featuring more two-wheeled content lately as interest in motorcycles and scooters has risen rather dramatically along with the increase in fuel prices. While we can appreciate the reduced cost of operation that sometimes goes along with choosing a motorcycle over four-wheeled transport, the enjoyment some of us get from bikes easily eclipses our desire to save at the pump. After all, this particular blogger has been riding since the days of buck-a-gallon gas. Still, the growing trend of drivers dropping half their wheels in the name of gas conservation deserves close examination and has even caught the attention of Consumer Reports. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the group has found that a staggering 26-percent of respondents have considered downsizing from four wheels to two. According to CR, their team is intently studying this two-wheeled phenomenon in an effort to become acquainted with the products on the market, how often they are ridden and the newly-found fuel savings of their riders.

Naval architects float designs for nautical Range Rovers

Luxury sport-utes and yachts go together like champagne and strawberries. The good folk at the Volkswagen Group know that, which is why they came up with the VW Touareg North Sails and Audi Q7 V12 TDI Coastline concepts. But the British aren't about to leave all the wet n' wild fun to ze Germans, so they're cooking up a few sailing-themed SUVs of their own.

In cooperation with Land Rover, luxury yacht broker Edmiston has commissioned seven of the world's top yacht designers to participate in the Superyacht Range Rover Design Competition. The results of the design regatta will be put to sea (figuratively speaking) at the Monaco Yacht Show next month, at which point the obscenely wealthy may place orders for these bespoke SUVs at prices ranging from $300,000 to $1.2 million.

Autoblog drives the 2009 Corvette ZR1! (but we can't talk about it yet)

Click above for high-res gallery of our ride in the Corvette ZR1

Chevrolet officially kicked off series production of the 2009 Corvette ZR1 at its Bowling Green KY assembly plant this week and decided to celebrate by inviting the media out to drive the new "King of the Hill". Since there are still several more waves of writers scheduled to drive the cars over the next week, we can't tell you what we thought of how it drives just yet. We can, however, share some photos of the cars we drove today around the Lutz-ring at General Motors' Milford Proving Ground. Stay tuned next Wednesday, August 20 for our full evaluation. In the meantime, enjoy the gallery and refresh your memory with our intro to the ZR1 from earlier this year.

Gallery: First Drive: 2009 Corvette ZR1

High School students build enclosed electric motorcycle

Click above for more shots of the Saint Thomas EV

BMW once came up with the idea to enclose a scooter and add some safety equipment to it. Crash tests showed surprisingly favorable results, but the idea never seemed to catch on and the C1 is no longer for sale. The fact that it already proved unsuccessful on the commercial market once hasn't stopped others from considering the idea. One such group is the Saint Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights, Minnesota. A group of students at this high school has created an enclosed electric motorcycle which uses sixty volts worth of lithium phosphate batteries powering a Briggs and Stratton ETEK pancake-style permanent magnet electric motor.

The current configuration is said to be good for a top speed of sixty miles per hour and a range of forty miles. The chassis is constructed from chromoly tubing. The body is made from a carbon fiber and Kevlar composite and should therefore prove very strong. The full seat even features a seatbelt. We are not certain that anything quite like this will ever be available for purchase again, but its good to see it in concept form at least.

2009 Acura TL

3 months ago the new Acura TL was caught in camo on road testing. Today we have a first official photos of the all-new 2009 TL Sedan.

The new Acura TL is larger than the outgoing model as it rides on a 1.4-inch longer wheelbase and is longer and wider thus promising to offer improved interior space. The 2009 Acura TL will be offered with a choice of two powertrains.

The entry-level 2009 TL is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine, which producing 280 HP and 254 lb-ft of torque. According to Acura, the FWD TL has projected EPA fuel economy ratings of 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.

The top-notch TL SH-AWD is equipped with Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system while power comes from a beefier 3.7-liter V6 engine delivering 305 HP and 275 lb-ft of torque. Projected EPA fuel economy ratings for the TL SH-AWD are 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. Like the basic FWD version, the TL SH-AWD gets a Sequential SportShift 5-speed automatic featuring steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters.

Corvette ZR1 does epic burnouts, we have proof

Click above for high-res gallery of the ZR1 doing burnouts

The Corvette ZR1 has some sick, nasty, evil power. Hitting the pedal will propel you to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, and in the hands of a skilled professional, this blue-collar supercar can lap the 'Ring in 7:26:4. There is no question that 638 horsepower and a 3,300-lb curb weight is good for getting you somewhere in a big fat hurry, but in the right hands it can also get you nowhere fast. One particular Development Engineer is the General's number one burnout artist, and we captured video of him creating two 300-foot works of art. We love the rubber-ripping smoke storm and sound of the LS9 at full tilt, but we're not so sure this unsuspecting set of Michelin Pilot Sport 2s shares our excitement.

Follow the jump to view video of both burnouts, and click on the gallery below to see the high resolution stills.

Gallery: Covette ZR1 burnouts