Thursday, 13 August 2009

Top 10 Coolest Cars of 2009

10. Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1

GM may be in some trouble at the moment, but that didn't stop them outdriving the Astons at Le-Mans and begin production on a new GT2 car for next year's ALMS series. The C6 ZR1 is based on the former of those feats and so comes with a huge gas guzzling 6.2L V8 capable of 0-60 in 3.3 seconds! Unfortunately it still uses the old C5/C6 design and for that reason it places 10th on our list.

9. Jaguar XJ X351

The new XJ interior gives a stunning look which can beat even the toughest of competitor. Powered by a V8 engine which has been upgraded to 5.0 litres, the output horsepower will top just over 300 bhp. For the power-hungry, a supercharged version will also be released outputting around 500 bhp.

The interior is where this car really shines, with sleek black leather and a state of the art control system. As Mike Cross, Chief Engineer at Jaguar says: “It’s a great car to be driven in, but it’s an even better car to drive”.

8. SSC Ultimate Aero 2009

This is the 2009 version of Shelby Super Cars' insanely fast Ultimate Aero. With a top speed of 257.41 mph it's officially the world's fastest road production car - thats 4 mph faster than the Bugatti Veyron and around 50 mph faster than a 2009 F1 car.

The stats don't stop there. The specially-built 6.3L V8 produces a whopping max 1287 bhp, making it the most powerful emissions-legal road car and an overall kg/hp ratio of 0.97 (the Veyron has less than 0.5!). Insane.

7. BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo

The new 5 Series is an improvement on an already near-perfect car. Mixing a four-door coupe body with raised, sliding rear seats like an MPV and a Skoda Superb-style twin-door hatchback, the Gran Turismo enters a new sector for BMW, targeting buyers who want a flexible luxury car, but one that’s not an estate or an SUV.

Debuting the ‘face’ of the next generation 5-Series ? which will be revealed in 2010 ? with larger kidney grilles and new lights similar to those of the CS concept car, the Gran Turismo sits on a new modular rear-wheel-drive platform that will also underpin the next generation 5-Series.

6. Lamborghini LP550-2 Valentino Balboni

The first ever Lamborghini with a racing stripe, this tribute to the former chief test driver Valentino Balboni is limited to a run of 250 units. Other features include re-calibrated optional e-gear transmission, redeveloped 45% limited slip differential, full leather black upholstery with white colour strips, polar white centre console and badge below the left side window that bears the signature of Valentino Balboni and the production number of the car.

5. Mercedes SLR Stirling Moss

The new SLR Stirling Moss is characterised by a breathtaking design which reinterprets the SLR legend. With 650 BHP the SLR Stirling Moss accelerates its V8 supercharged engine from standstill to 60 in less than 3.5 seconds, and has a top speed of 205 mp/h.

No other series-production car is at the same time so open and so fast. Limited to 75 cars each costing 750,000 Euros, this car is the perfect tribute to a racing legend.

4. Pagani Zonda Cinque Roadster

Zonda is THE car every 10 year old boy wants. It epitomises cool with its silver sleek design. The last of the Zonda line, the Cinque is a road legal version of the ultrafast Zonda R.

With a 0-60 in 3.4 seconds and a boosted top speed of 220 mp/h this is the fastest car ever produced by Pagani.....the catch? There's only 5 of them.

3. Spyker C8 Aileron 2009

A car built around style and luxury rather than speed, the Spyker C8 has the perfect blend of classic and contemporary, retaining the signitaure aircraft influence. That isn't to say it can't handle a street race - nought to 60 in 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 187 mp/h. With one of the most loyal fan clubs in Europe, this one is sure to be a big hit.

2. Ferrari FXX Evoluzione

The fastest ever road car produced by Ferrari, the FXX Evoluzione is a 2009 revision of the FXX Program (which in itself is an evolution on the world-famous Enzo) Only 30 were ever produced, with customers hand-picked by Ferrari and each paying a $2.5m pricetag.

It comes only in Ferrari red with a racing stripe - the exception being Michael Schumacher's which is all black - a present for his contribution to Ferrari F1. The 6.3L V12 engine on this badboy produces a whopping 848 BHP - a whole 200 more than the Enzo. For that reason, this takes the second spot.

1. GT by Citroen

Originally starting as a concept car, this creation of sexiness is a collaboration between Citroen and the Japanese guys behind Gran Turismo - Polyphony Digital. Really there's not much more to say than WOW!

A limited run of only 6 will be produced, each costing $2.1m and producing 780 BHP from the four onboard fuel cells. A car like this is sure to go down in the history books as one of the most beautiful ever built. Officially the coolest car of 2009!

Top 10 Mystery Novels of 2009

Some may say that mystery, crime and thriller novels have suffered in the last few years. However 2009 proved a turnaround, with names big and small contributing with rivetting novels. Sit back this summer and enjoy!

Below are what we think are the top 10 must-reads of 2009.

10. Clockers - Richard Price

Rocco Klein, veteran homicide detective, has had enough of life on the edge. When a warm summer night brings yet another drug-related murder, he has no sense that the case is anything special. A young black man steps forward to confess but a little digging reveals that he's never been in any kind of trouble, whereas his half-brother, Strike, runs a crew of street-corner coke dealers 'clockers' in a nearby housing project. Soon Rocco is sure that Strike is the real killer and suddenly Rocco's appetite for the job is back. With a vengeance.

9. The Price of Love - Peter Robinson

When DCI Alan Banks arrived in Eastvale his life was every bit as much of a mess as it is now. But he is holding an envelope that could change everything he understood about the events that sent him north twenty years ago. Walking again the narrow alleys and backstreets of his mind, he remembers the seedy Soho nights of his last case - dubious businessmen in dodgy clubs, young girls on the game. And a killer on the loose. The Eastvale Ladies' Poker Circle finds that murder may be just another game of risk. Is a suitcase of cash worth a man's head on a plate? And tragedy leads a young boy to learn the price of love ...

8. The Calling - Inger Ash Wolfe

Detective Inspector Hazel Micallef has lived all her days in the small town of Port Dundas, Ontario and is now making her way toward retirement with something less than grace. Hobbled by a bad back and a dependence on painkillers, and feeling blindsided by divorce after nearly four decades of marriage, sixty-one-year-old Hazel has only the constructive criticism of her mother (the former mayor) and her own sharp tongue to buoy her. But when a terminally ill woman is gruesomely murdered in her own home, Hazel and her understaffed department must spring to life. And as one terminally ill victim after another is found, Hazel finds herself tracking a truly terrifying serial killer while everything around her spins out of control.

7. The Scarecrow - Michael Connelly

Jack McEvoy , a crime reporter who's job is coming to an end, has a few days left on the job. He wants to write one last, great story in hopes of winning an award. Jack focuses on a subject that claims to have murdered someone. He decides that this is the subject that he is going to center his last story around. Jack later comes to find out that his subject is not the killer and the actual killer is much closer to home...

6. The Associate - John Grisham

The associate is vintage Grisham. If you're a Grisham fan, prepare for another great read. I found this novel exciting to read, but it is number six in this list for a reason. The plot twists are exciting, but predictable, and Grisham does occasionally stretch the limits of credibility almost to the breaking point. Nevertheless, the Associate is still a great way to pass one of those hot summer days.

5. Medusa: A Novel from the NUMA Files - Clive Cussler

The world is in danger again, and only N.U.M.A.'s Kurt Austin can save the day. Kurt and team must thwart Chinese gangs, save a rare Jellyfish, and stop a deadly virus. Clive Cussler fans will certainly recognize most plot elements, but he does manage a couple new twists with this action packed thriller. While the novel is not likely to win any awards, it does provide very entertaining reading.

4. The Lovers - John Connolly

John Connolly is one of our favourite authors and the reason we like him so much is that he injects his crime novels with a fair old dose of supernatural adrenalin. His writing has an edge, a darkness, it's on the borderlands but with The Lovers Connolly has crossed over to the darkside. The supernatural elements don't remain in the background here they are at the forefront, indeed without the spectre of the occult this book could not exist.

3. The Bourne Deception - Eric Van Lustbader

Based on Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne series, this summer mystery novel stays true to Ludlum's vision with an action packed mystery complete with the intrigue, deception, and action that made the series so famous. Jason Bourne must survive an assassination attempt and track down who ordered the hit, all while overcoming his personal demons and trying to prevent a world war. Be careful reading this one on the beach, as it's hard to put down and can result in some serious sunburn!

2. Gone Tomorrow - Lee Child

Jack Reacher is back, spying a potential terrorist on a subway train and tries to stop the detonation of a bomb -- if only it was that simple. In true Lee Child style on come the twists and turns and red herrings to keep your eyes bolted. Overall an excellent thriller which lands it second place.

1. The Girl Who Played with Fire - Stieg Larrson

The second chapter of the Millennium trilogy looks more in depth into the character of the hacker Lisbeth Salander. The plot is as intricate and captivating as in the previous Millennium book ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"); Mikael ("Kalle") Blomkvist and Salander join forces again to uncover a story of sex trafficking, which will shed light on Salander's past. We're not overly excited by sequels in general - but this one beats the previous chapter of the trilogy! That's why this one takes the top spot as the best thriller of 2009.