Land Rover LRX

  • Looks like: Land Rover wants to take on moon craters
  • Defining characteristics: Two doors on an SUV
  • Ridiculous features: iPhone docking facility
  • Chance of being mass-produced: Not very good; sales are decent, but new ownership may change product planning

The LRX concept is important to Land Rover for two reasons: It shows a new design direction for a very traditionally styled lineup, and it features a diesel hybrid power plant. Since the LRX is just a concept, we're not sure if either feature will make it to production, but a diesel hybrid has yet to hit the streets and an offroad-capable SUV might just be the place for one.

The LRX is nearly 6 inches shorter than the current LR2, which already isn't the largest of SUVs out there. That means this little SUV might compete with a future Mini Cooper SUV — and yes, one is in the works, folks.

Technology is also a big part of the LRX, with lots of features for Apple fans. There are docks just for your iPhone and iPod, plus a cooler we've already seen in production Land Rovers.

2009 Cadillac CTS-V

  • Competes with: BMW M and Mercedes AMG sedans, Lexus IS-F
  • Looks like: The CTS lost all its well-coiffed pretensions and now just wants to run you over
  • Drivetrain: 550-hp (estimated), supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 with six-speed manual or six-speed automatic; rear-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: Late 2008

Even though the CTS is priced to rub elbows with compact sport sedans like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, Cadillac says its CTS-V competes with those cars' respective big brothers, the BMW M5 and Mercedes E63 AMG. Maybe that's because the CTS-V makes an estimated — and just plain stupefying — 550 horsepower and 550 pounds-feet of torque.

Whatever the competitor, the CTS-V looks ready to rip it a new one. Under the hood, GM's 6.2-liter V-8 gets an intercooled Eaton supercharger, and all power goes to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. With the manual, a dual-mass flywheel and dual-disc clutch aim to enhance the left pedal's smoothness, but we hope the stick shift itself has improved over the regular CTS' clunky setup. Like in the regular CTS, the automatic has paddle shifters on the steering wheel, and we're impressed that Cadillac is offering both setups.

The CTS-V adopts the STS' Magnetic Ride Control, which reads the road and varies suspension settings to match driving conditions. An optional Performance Traction Management system aims to optimize traction with an eye toward maximizing acceleration — as opposed to conventional traction control, which mostly just tries to optimize traction. GM's electronic stability control system comes standard and includes a competitive mode that dials back its intrusiveness, allowing you to perform stunts you probably shouldn't try outside a racetrack.

Styling changes from the freshly minted CTS include larger 19-inch wheels, a larger grille and the requisite lower body cladding. The cabin features deeply bolstered Recaro seats with grippier suede-like inserts, as well as dark Obsidian trim and a microfiber-lined steering wheel.

The CTS-V will arrive in the fourth quarter of 2008 with a yet-to-be-determined price tag. With the well-received CTS already selling briskly, don't expect the V to sit on dealer lots for long.

Tucson Motorcycles V-Twin Racer

Tucson Motorcycles Veloce 1 racer

Tucson Motorcycles of France has been working on a new motorcycle for racing against the other twins in Europe. Their plan is light weight and small dimensions to offset any power disadvantage when taking on the Ducatis, Buells and Aprilias raced in the big twin classes. Their first prototype, powered by an SV650 engine, has been out racing and served as a proof of concept before building their BT550 Superleggera which will be powered by an Aprilia V2 550 engine.

Jeff Robert, engineer and owner, sent me a note to say the new Aprilia powered racer is now in the early stages of development. The design, the work of Yann Bakonyi of Bako Design is a very light and minimal racer. The prototype, Veloce 1, is 319 pounds ready to race, which could be shaved even more with a few parts changes, the top of the frame is less than 9 inches wide. They want to get down to near 125cc dimensions with the idea that cornering speed will level the field against their higher powered competitors. This prototype, by the way, is being offered for sale at 15 000 €, to help finance the project.

It looks like a very capable machine and the plan is sound, however, when your strategy is light weight, you have to make sure your rider is equally tiny and light weight, otherwise you lose the edge and I think how well the advantage works depends on the track, short straights and lots of turns would be key. Neat bike.

More photos below:

Tucson Motorcycles Veloce 1 racer

Tucson Motorcycles Veloce 1 racer

Tucson Motorcycles Veloce 1 racer

Beringer 4 Disc Brakes

Beringer quadruple discIn the story about the Tucson Motorcycles racer, you may have noticed the front brakes in the various images and they looked a bit small. Those brakes are only 230mm compared to a more normal 320mm disc. But if you look more closely, you’ll see something else, there’s 2 of them on each side of the wheel for a total of 4 discs.

Why 4 small discs? According to Beringer, the advantages include:

* Power Increase of 20% compared to a single 320mm cast iron disc which allows to the riders to shorten their braking distances significantly. Some comparative tests have shown evidence of this gain as well as a lower temperature of the discs.

Beringer 4 disc diagram* Weight saving is significant compared to the standard systems Cast Iron 320 weight: 1950 g Quadruple Disc 230 weight 1460 g The 980 g saved in unsprung weight improves the grip of the front wheel.

* Reduce the gyroscopic inertia to make turning easier: “The gyroscopic inertia of the Quadruple Disc is 3 times less than the inertia of 320 discs and 30% less the inertia of carbon discs”

The Beringer quadruple discs use a fixed center pad with caliper operated outer pads.

If you’ve been reading The Kneeslider for a while, you may remember another front brake design intended to reduce gyroscopic inertia, the reverse rotating brake rotors from designer Rob Kasten. How well any of these work in practice to reduce steering forces isn’t clear, though anecdotal reports from racers seem to be positive.

I’m not sure how long this Beringer design has been around but it’s available for a number of current sportbikes. Interesting.