Hearse power

AMS Madness Hearse 9.94 Second World Record
Photo via AMS Performance.

The world’s fastest hearse is being upgraded for 2015. A turbocharged 6.0L V8 Chevy Caprice named ‘Madness’, which still has its original stereo and coffin-carrying capabilities, it’s capable of 0-100km/h in just 2.26 seconds, with a top speed of 220kph.

Holding the world record for the quarter mile for a hearse since 2013 (9.94 seconds), this year sees the madness (pun intended) become even greater, with a new forged engine and a bigger turbo, resulting in a somewhat staggering 1,300hp. That’s on par with the one of the fastest road legal production cars, the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Supersport, which boasts 1,200bhp and goes from 0-100kph in 2.5 seconds.

Wherever they’re going, they’ll get there fast.

Mansory Madness

MANSORY MB S-Klasse-front

There are two types of car people, we think. Those who look at a beautiful, powerful machine and think, ‘I’d like that.’ And those who look at the same car and think ‘I can make this even better.’

Tuning company Mansory definitely belong to the latter group. We’ve got something of a soft spot for them – they’re a bit like Brabus, specialising in taking nice, high-powered cars and applying their madness until a monster emerges. They’re not really known for holding back.

Their take on the Mercedes S63 AMG is no different. On the outside, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is only a sportier version of the original model. The exterior hasn’t been changed too much – Mansory have only added roof and rear lips, adapted daytime running lights and a new bonnet cover, widened front wings and new side skirts.

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Lotus take on two wheels

Photo from thelotusforums.com

We here at Car Craic aren’t really the biggest fans of motorbikes, mostly because we can’t drive them, and also because of an unfortunate incident involving a bicycle when we were six. Still, there’s something undeniably cool about the C-01 – the first ever motorbike from Lotus.

Lotus aren’t the first car manufacturer to produce a motorbike – Caterham have already got in on this act – and on first glance, it doesn’t appear as though they’ve done a terrible job. It’s not quite modern in its style – more of a blend of a drag racer and early motorised bikes. It’s early days yet, however, and until the design comes to life and our roads, we can’t really tell if you’ll look really cool, or a like a twat.

Designed by Daniel Simon of the VW Group – the man behind the design of large parts of the Bugatti Veyron and a futuristic Tron motorbike – the C-01 will be powered by a 4 stroke 200 bhp V-Twin engine, while weighing in around 181 kg. There’re no official figures available just yet on how fast this thing will go, but expect the surrounding countryside to blur into oblivion. Only 100 units of the limited edition motorcycle are going to be made, which instantly makes two things clear – it’ll be in huge demand, and it will undoubtedly be expensive.

Now that Lotus have dipped their toe in unfamiliar waters, perhaps it’s time for Lamborghini and Ferrari to take things in a different direction? For now, a prototype of the C-01 has been built, equipped with 200 bhp to tear along the roads in test mode. Keep an eye out on a ditch near you.

Volkswagen’s XL1 baffles New Yorkers, petrolheads

Drivers and onlookers around NYC today were probably wondering if some futuristic car had time-traveled from 2050, and got caught up in traffic on their way to find some trash to fuel their Mr Fusion energy reactor. Actually, and a little disappointingly, this is the VW XL1, one of the latest of a line of more unconventional vehicles from Volkswagen, which made its debut as a prototype way back in 2002 and was confirmed for production ten years later.

This isn’t the first out-there automobile from VW; the German car maker has a reputation for building limited-run, expensive cars, often at a loss, as exercises in engineering to prove a technology’s viability, like the Bugatti Veyron (€1.4 million) and the Golf Design Vision GTI (€4 million). But while the Veyron has an 8.0L 987bhp engine, and there’s 3.0L 500bhp on tap in the superpowered GTI, resulting in some pretty frequent trips to the petrol station, the XL1 is a test of a different kind. That’s because it’s a diesel-electric hybrid with an electric range of 31 miles and overall mpg figures of 261. That’s right. 261.

The Golf Design Vision GTI: this is what happens when scientists have too much time on their hands, and start feeding steroids to cars.

Got your attention now? That’s like five times better than your average run around. Take that, Prius.

Boffins at the German company have really outdone themselves this time; combining an incredibly efficient hybrid engine, a lightweight carbon fiber structure and the most aerodynamic body of any production car in existence. It has a 48 bhp two cylinder diesel engine combined with a 27 bhp electric motor and a 5.5 kWh battery, but don’t let the small figures fool you; it’s not the fastest car you’ll ever drive, and 0-60 takes around 11 seconds, but you can still cruise comfortably along at 60 miles using only 8 horsepowers. That’s actually amazing. Somebody’s surely getting a bonus.

One of the failings of many electric cars is that they’re just so damn ugly – I’m looking at you, Nissan Leaf. Hang your battery-powered head in shame. The Tesla Model S is one of the first to realise that you can have an electric car that is astoundingly good looking while using to force of electrons to whisk you from A to B. I’ll stop short of calling the XL1 a beautiful machine – sure, the front end is captivating, the best of the new Golf/Passat face glaring at you to get out of its way. But the further down you go, the less sure you are about its design – VW decided against side and rear windows to keep those mpg figures as high as they could. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great either.

It’s almost as if the designer forgot to finish his drawing, and handed it in anyway.

Apparently 50 of a 250 run have been built already, with 200 to be sold to the public in 2014. Don’t get your hopes up – the registration process closed in October and in any case, pricing starts at around €111,000. Like the Tesla Model S, Volkswagen presume the first buyers to get their hands on the XL1 will be early adopters; tech heads with plenty of money and concern for the environment. For the rest of us, we’ll just have to make do with watching our fuel gauges visibly dropping as we resolutely hang on to our love of petrol and, logically speaking, distaste of disposable income. It’s a cruel world.