California banning black cars?!

In a move that will likely get California’s consumers in a huff, impending legislation may soon restrict the paint color options for Golden State residents looking for their next new vehicle. The specific colors that are currently on the chopping block are all dark hues, with the worst offender seemingly the most innocuous color you could think of: Black. What could California possibly have against these colors, you ask? Apparently, the California Air Resources Board figures that the climate control systems of dark colored cars need to work harder than their lighter siblings – especially after sitting in the sun for a few hours. Anyone living in a hot, sunny climate will tell you that this assumption is accurate, of course. In fact, legislation already exists for buildings that has proven successful at reducing the energy consumption of skyscrapers.

So, what’s the crux of the problem… can’t paint suppliers just come up with new, less heat-absorbent dark paints? According to Ward’s, suppliers have reportedly been testing their pigments and processes to see if it’s possible to meet CARB’s proposed mandate of 20% solar reflectivity by 2016 with a phase-in period starting in 2012, and things aren’t looking good. Apparently, when the proper pigments and chemicals are added to black paint, the resulting color is currently being referred to as “mud-puddle brown.” That doesn’t sound very attractive, now does it? Windshields, backlights and sunroofs are also slated to get reflective coatings starting in 2012.

Aston Martin One-77

At the Geneva Motor Show this week, Aston Martin publicly showed its limited-edition One-77 super-car for the first time. While the design is certainly attention grabbing, the machinery sitting next to it was perhaps even more so. On the first of two press days, the Aston stand was dominated by the first complete One-77 chassis laid bare for all the world to see. Resplendent in carbon-fiber and cast, forged and extruded aluminum, the skinless One-77 is an engineer’s dream.

Chris Porritt, Chief Program Manager for the One-77, took a few minutes to give us a guided tour of this remarkable example of engineering art. The mechanical bits of the One-77 are built more like the guts of an Le Mans Prototype racer than any typical production car. Of course, calling this a production car is a stretch anyway given that only 77 examples will be produced. Major automakers typically produce more prototypes than that for a new vehicle program. Follow the jump for a walk through of the One-77.

A high-performance car relies on several key elements. Obviously, a great propulsion system is a prerequisite and the One-77 has that, but we’ll come back to that later. Large quantities of power don’t mean much without a chassis that’s able to manage the dynamics of spirited driving. Doing that requires keeping the rubber in contact with the road at all times and knowing where the wheels are relative to each other. That requires a rigid structure that minimizes the physical motion of the suspension mounting points as the car corners, accelerates, brakes and follows the contour of the road.

The New Lamborghini LP 670-4 SuperVeloce!

The Lamborghini Murciélago LP 670-4 SuperVeloce. Bologna’s best automaker has just released official info and pics on its latest mighty Murc, and this one tops them all. Lamborghini says the LP 670-4 SuperVeloce is “exceptionally purist”. The description fits as the LP 670-4 SV is more powerful, lighter and therefore faster than the already pretty quick LP-640. As its name suggests, the LP 670-4 SV boasts an increase in power to 670 hp and 487 lb-ft of torque for Lambo’s 6.5L V12, all of which was achieved through simply optimizing the engine’s valve timing and tweaking the air intake system.

Combine those extra bulls under the bonnet with a weight decrease of 220 lbs and performance figures begin to fall fast. 0-62 mph is now achieved in just 3.2 seconds and top speed is 212 mph with the standard, small spoiler. A larger “Aeropack Wing” offering more downforce is also available, but the additional drag drops top speed to 209 mph.

The LP 670-4 doesn’t look like your average Murciélago, either. It’s design is simple and brutal compared to the mess of angles that make up the Reventon. Up front the air intakes have been made larger for better brake cooling and the front spoiler extends much farther out. The new engine cover, meanwhile, is a marvel of design with three hexagonal transparent polymer plates supported by a carbon fiber framework. The interior has also been upholstered entirely in Alcantara and features stitching that matches the exterior color of the car.

You can’t argue with a car that’s faster, lighter and more powerful than its predecessors, and the Lamborghini LP 670-4 SuperVeloce is certainly not a car we’d want to argue with. Check out the gallery of high-res images just released by Lamborghini and stay tuned for our own gallery of live LP 670-4 SV shots when we hit the show floor soon.

Infiniti’s version of the GTR?

Without doubt one of the most striking unveilings at this year’s Geneva
Motor Show, Infiniti’s all-new Essence Concept has been revealed in
full today and is expected be one of the most important designs for the
luxury brand for some time to come. The new concept car is called the
‘Essence’ and it has been designed in part to celebrate Infiniti’s 20th

The vehicle’s chief stylist Mamoru Aoki has described it as an
“exploration into the brand’s future” so hopefully we can expect to see
some of its muscular proportions and elegant design traits filter
across to Infiniti’s production cars. Like BMW’s Concept CS from a few
years back, the Essence is a brand icon.

The dramatic
design, technology and performance statement is a 592hp (442kW)
petrol-electric hybrid coupe. The vehicle is built around a
front-engined RWD chassis. It stretches 4.7m in length and has been
designed to seat only two.

When designing the vehicle, Infiniti looked at who its potential
customers would be. The profile the design team came up with was an
uncompromising, risk-taking 42-year-old passionate about the best
things in life, but equally passionate about not flaunting them. In
keeping with this profile, the styling has been made overt yet it is
still powerful and perfectly proportioned.

The bonnet is long and the rear deck short. Together with a flowing
wave profile between muscular front and rear wheelarches, the Essence
has all the classic sports car design cues. The side windows appear to
be resting on a ledge, with sharp lines in contrast to the concave
sweep of the upper body, and these are matched with concave scoops at
the rear. One of the most distinctive details is the trim around the
side air vents. The simple shape is based on the “kanzashi” – a hairpin
used by women when wearing the kimono.

More familiar Infiniti cues include the lights. At the front the
signature L-shaped modules taper back on to the bulging guards, picked
out at their top edge by a row of LEDs. Also at the rear is a spoiler
finished in stainless steel.

The drivetrain is where the Essence really shines. The hybrid system
delivers a healthy 592hp (442kW) of power. It features a
twin-turbocharged 3.7L V6 engine mated to an electric motor, which can
work independently or together as a “parallel” hybrid system. At low
speeds, the Essence will emit zero emissions. The engine by itself
produces up to 446hp (333kW) thanks to the turbos as well as a new
direct-injection system.

The Essence also previews a new type of electric motor, called 3D
Motor, that was designed to meet tough requirements on size and power
output. The result is a particularly slim, disc-shaped motor that has
twice the torque of a conventional unit. Its design was achieved by 3D
magnetic field analysis to optimise the layout of the electromagnetic
coils and permanent magnets.

The motor is positioned between the engine and transmission. It draws
its power from a compact lithium-ion battery pack in the boot area.

Optimized energy useage across the widest possible range of driving
conditions is guaranteed by two separate clutches which “switch in” the
motors as required. It is a system that needs no torque converter,
further enhancing responsiveness.

For the interior, designers have gone for a minimalist look but have
also called upon luxury brand Louis Vuitton to help complete it. The
asymmetrical cabin is divided into two areas separated by a large
curving console between the seats that sweeps around to merge with the
centre of the dashboard. The result is two very distinct cocoons. The
driver’s side is themed black, the passenger’s “cocoon” an earthy red.

A flat-bottomed steering wheel and chronometer-style dials provide a
sporty look and is matched with a pair of paddle shifters located
behind the wheel. Materials used for the cabin include leather,
Alcantara, hand-painted wood and plenty of aluminum.

Safety features include Infiniti’s new Safety Shield, which adds
Distance Control Assist and Lane Departure Prevention systems. There
are also nanny systems for side and rear collisions, as well as a
pre-charge braking system.