Jumat, 30 Mei 2008

Hot News: 2011 Audi A1

The Audi A1 supermini will go on sale in March 2010, a secret company document has revealed.

The engineering papers, which were sensationally leaked out of Ingolstadt, detail the Audi A1's new line-up of four-cylinder launch engines.

The petrol model range begins with an 86bhp, 1.2-litre petrol engine. Further up there'll be a naturally aspirated 1.4-litre petrol with 122bhp and a high-performance, turbocharged version of the same unit that will yield 170bhp.

New diesel engines include a 1.6-litre common rail injection with 90bhp or a range-topping 2.0-litre common rail unit.

Audi is making no comment about the leaked document, but sources say an internal investigation has been launched.

Kamis, 29 Mei 2008

Spied: 2011 Ford Fiesta

What you're looking at are the first spyshots of the U.S. version of the 2011 Ford Fiesta, which was spotted recently prowling around Ford's Dearborn mothership.

The subcompact Fiesta is the first of a number of new global cars coming from the Blue Oval under the watch of Ford CEO Alan Mulally. The automaker is switching gears toward a smaller, more fuel efficient lineup, and the Fiesta is a major cog in Ford's future North American plans.

The Fiesta will be similar in appearance to the Ford Verve Concept shown at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show and should go on sale sometime in 2010 as a 2011 model, about a year after its European counterpart debuts.

Although it will be offered in Europe as a three- and five-door hatchback, the U.S. version will initially be offered only as a sedan spied here, though Ford has indicated it may bring the hatchbacks here as well if the demand arises.

"Take the five-door Fiesta," says Ford global design chief J Mays, "and graft on the trunk of the Verve sedan concept, and you'll be 99 percent there." Mays' team has reportedly put extra effort, and dollars, into the cabins. The I.P. designs are sweeping, with deep, pod-like gauges, and the center stack has a "personal electronics" feel. "I believe this is one B-car that has C-car amenities," adds Mays.

There's no talk of U.S.-spec powertrains yet, but the Euro Fiesta, which shares front-drive chassis architecture with the Mazda2, runs a 1.6-liter four with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions. It's also possible that the 2.0-liter four from the Focus could a part of the U.S. powertrain mix.

Rabu, 28 Mei 2008

New Car: 2009 Ford Ka

The waiting is over! Ford’s thrilling new Ka has broken cover – and here it is in all its glory.

The newcomer will replace the original 12-year-old Ka, and shares its underpinnings and engines with the Fiat 500. What’s more, it’s being built alongside the hugely successful Italian model at Fiat’s plant in Tychy, Poland.

But the Ka – which is due to hit showrooms towards the end of 2008 – is much more than a simple re-skin of the 500. Privately, Ford says that its engineers are working hard to ensure that the new Ka can match the current model’s composure and pin-sharp handling, while offering greater refinement.

Initially, there will be a choice of 63bhp 1.2-litre and 100bhp 1.4-litre petrol engines, as well as a 1.3-litre Multijet diesel. The latter will be good for 75bhp and 145Nm of torque, while returning more than 50mpg.

There’s no official word yet, but Ford is also understood to be planning a hot ST performance flagship to replace the Sportka. This will be powered by the same 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine as the Fiat 500 Abarth. A chunky bodykit, flared wheelarches and fat 17-inch rims will separate the flagship from lesser models.

The Ka ST is likely to deliver at least 150bhp, will cover the 0-60mph sprint in less than eight seconds and have a top speed of 125mph – ensuring it joins the Abarth as one of the fastest cars in the class.

A series of ‘aftermarket’ extras offered via Ford dealers are likely to boost the model’s appeal even further. The kit will be developed by specialist firm Mountune, which recently produced a tuning pack for the Fiesta ST, and would include suspension and engine upgrades.

The new Ka will make its world debut at the Paris Motor Show in September, and is sure to appeal to Ford fans with its attractive styling. Short overhangs, a steeply raked windscreen and arching roofline mean the Ka looks sporty, while being spacious enough for four.

The interior has taken huge strides forward, too, combining improved ergonomics with better quality materials in a bid to create a more refined driving experience. The gearlever has moved higher into the dashboard, and the radio and climate controls are mounted so they are within easy reach of the driver. The steering wheel now features a multifunction control column, too, while a display between the dials provides trip information.

As with the Fiat 500, Ford is promising that the Ka will be among the most luxurious small cars on the market, while there will be a generous optional equipment list.

Ford isn’t planning a direct replacement for the Streetka roadster, although sources indicate that a 2+2 convertible is being developed in conjunction with Fiat. A mild hybrid is also in the pipeline. This promises to mate diesel-beating economy with petrol refinement and low emissions.

And the Ka’s diminutive shape means a tax-busting electric hybrid could be on the cards, too. This model will have CO2 emissions that fall below the 100g/km tax threshold.

Prices for the new Ka are set to start at around £7,500, rising to £12,000 for the ST version.

Spied: 2009 Subaru Exiga

Japanese giant Subaru is about to get a whole lot more pulling power! This is the company’s new Exiga MPV, caught undergoing testing in California ahead of its unveiling in June.

And Auto Express can exclusively reveal that it could land in showrooms in the UK as early as 2009.

The barely disguised right-hand- drive model has a distinctive sleek profile, with bosses hoping it will appeal to buyers keen to blend sporty looks with people carrier space.

Trading on its rallying heritage, Subaru has also given the Exiga a large bonnet scoop – lifted straight from the Impreza STi – plus a rear spoiler and split twin tailpipes.

Inside, the newcomer is all about space, boasting enough room for seven adults. If the production Exiga stays faithful to the concept, unveiled at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show, it will also sport a panoramic glass roof, flat-panel TV monitors and fold-out tables. And we can confirm that the car will form part of a model line-up for 2009 which includes a new Legacy saloon and Outback estate.

The trio will be powered by newly developed 2.0 and 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engines, although the 3.0-litre unit in the current Subaru stable will be dropped.

The recently launched boxer diesel will be used as a blueprint for maxi­mising the performance and efficiency of the petrol units. The result will be an output of 200bhp from the naturally aspirated 2.0 engine and more than 300bhp from the turbo 2.5-litre.

Subaru is also planning a turbocharged 3.7-litre petrol engine, with close to 450bhp, for a Legacy STi.

Selasa, 27 Mei 2008

Spied: 2011 BMW V3

Here’s BMW’s latest attack on the niche market – the V3 Progressive Activity Sedan (PAS). Following BMW’s most recent crossover, the X6 Sports Activity Coupe, the V3 is a beefed-up estate based on 3-Series Touring underpinnings, designed with both passenger and luggage space in mind.

Our spyshots reveal the V3 PAS features a taller roofline than its 3-Series donor car for improved interior space, though the crossover will be a strict four-seater with two individual bucket seats in place of a rear bench.

Jacked up suspension heightens the ride and bolsters the V3’s rugged, all-terrain credentials, though the V3 is not a strict off-roader – both rear-wheel and four-wheel drive variants will be available. The same xDrive system found in the X5 and X6 will provide all-wheel traction, and expect to see the usual range of four-pot and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines available from launch.

Set for showrooms in 2012, the V3 is part of a new niche strategy for BMW that also includes a V5 crossover, which as the name suggests will be based on the 5-Series platform and will arrive earlier, in 2010.

According to BMW executive Klaus Draeger, all future Progressive Activity Sedans will carry the ‘V’ prefix, just as the letter X is used for SUVs, and Z for sports cars.

First Sketch: 2011 Rolls Royce RR4

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars today revealed the first design sketches of its next new model. Known as RR4, the car is due to be launched in 2010 and will sit alongside the Phantom model line-up. RR4 will be smaller than Phantom and powered by a new engine, unique to Rolls-Royce.

The design was signed off in 2007 and engineering development is now fully underway. The Goodwood manufacturing facilities are being completely reconfigured to accommodate the RR4, with extended paint, wood and leather shops as well as a second assembly line. The company will move to a two shift system next year as it gears up for full production of the new model.

Chief Designer, Ian Cameron, said, "Effortless performance and standard-setting levels of comfort and efficiency, executed with the utmost care and attention, remain fundamentals of Rolls-Royce design. The RR4 has a more informal presence than the Phantom models with a greater emphasis on driving. In design terms this is expressed through its slightly smaller dimensions and more organic form, yet with powerful, purposeful proportions. It is a true and uncompromising Rolls-Royce in every sense."

Further design and engineering details will be announced during the course of 2009.

Minggu, 25 Mei 2008

Hot News: Mazda City Car

Meet Mazda’s new baby! These are the first official sketches of the firm’s forthcoming city car – which will be revealed in concept form at the Paris Motor Show in October.

Likely to be badged Mazda 1 when it goes on sale in late 2009, the urban runabout will rival the Volkswagen up! and Toyota’s iQ.

As you can see from these drawings, it’s the first model to bring the design themes showcased by the company’s Nagare concept to reality. The sporty look of the 2 supermini is evolved with a taller roofline to boost headroom, but key details including dramatic slashes in the bodywork and short overhangs are retained.

The city car concept is likely to feature Perspex panels, plus sliding side doors and seats, which will increase practicality, too.

Peter Birthwhistle, chief designer at Mazda’s European Research and Development Centre, said: “The finished article will be even more radical than the car seen here. It will be aimed at young people and feature the likes of iPod connectivity, sat-nav and Blue- tooth. It will be environmentally friendly, and weigh as little as possible.”

The concept is likely to be powered by a combination of fuel cells and batteries. The firm will also reveal a new 4x4 at the Moscow Motor Show in August, based on Ford’s Kuga, which could make its way here. And it is working on an RX-7 replacement that also follows the Nagare design theme.

Spied: 2010 Hyundai i90

Hyundai is going the whole nine yards with its new executive saloon – or should that be i90?

Our spies caught the i90 undergoing testing as it gets ready to take on Germany’s premium brands. And the Korean manufacturer is promising it will be crammed with the kind of technology usually reserved for Audis, Mercedes and BMWs.

This includes an iDrive-style cabin control interface, as well as a collision mitigation brake system (CMS), which detects an imminent accident and warns the driver to take preventative action. Yet despite the generous standard equipment tally, plus cabin space to match the likes of BMW’s 7-Series, the i90 will carry a similar price to a Ford Mondeo. It will reach the UK in 2009, powered by a petrol V8 with around 350bhp.

Sabtu, 24 Mei 2008

New Car: 2009 Renault Laguna Coupe

This is the long-awaited Renault Laguna coupe, which will be launch at this weekend’s Monaco Grand prix and the Cannes film festival.

In comparison to the Laguna coupe concept, the production car has a higher roofline and has lost some of the show car’s sharp styling. The rear of the door is now a much more conventional straight edge, rather than the concept’s sports car like shape, and the doors themselves are deeper. The bootlid is now higher, too.

The car’s shape is, however, totally different to the Laguna hatch. The front end has new wings, a new bonnet and a new bumper with a wide, Aston-Martin-like single piece intake. At the rear the concept’s narrow LED taillights have made it into production although the shape of the bootlid has changed.

Closely based on the Renault Laguna hatch, the coupe is built on the same platform as the four-door with the same suspension layout. But it’s slightly shorter, lower and wider, at 4.64m long, 1.4m high and 1.83m wide. Higher-spec versions will be available with Renault’s Active Drive four-wheel steering system, as used on the Laguna GT.

The car comes with existing engines from the Laguna range plus a new diesel and petrol V6. The 3.0-litre oil-burner packs 235hp and 332b ft of torque, while the 3.5-litre petrol unit offers 240bhp and 244lb ft; both come with an automatic transmission. The petrol V6 will be the range-topping model and should hit 60mph in under seven seconds.

The coupe will be aimed and priced in between the Peugeot 407 coupe and the BMW 3-Series coupe. That means prices will start at around £22,000, rising to around £27,000 for the range-topping V6 models.

Despite the low sales of upmarket French cars such as the 407 coupe and Renault’s own Vel Satis, Renault claims that the UK is one of the top four markets for the coupe.

Due to be launched at the Paris motor show in October, sales of the new Renault Laguna coupe will start in the UK in November this year. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures)

Jumat, 23 Mei 2008

New Car: 2009 Aston Martin V8 Vantage

When Aston Martin launched its V8 Vantage back in 2005, we had a lot of good things to say about it. We loved the look, power, handling, and solidness of Aston's everyday supercar - and we loved its deep V-8 growl. We also liked the idea of the British firm giving us a car that could take on Porsche's 911 as a direct competitor. Now, three years later, Aston has updated the car with even more of what we loved -- and fewer of the niggling concerns we had.

For example, the engine is still a V-8, but it has increased in size from 4.3L to 4.8L. With thinner cylinder liners, increased bore and stroke, a new forged steel crankshaft and aluminum pistons, a larger cylinder-head intake port and inlet valve, improved oil circulation from the dry-sump system, and an optimized intake manifold, power now comes in at 420 hp and 347 lb-ft of torque. The transmission has undergone some changes, too - well, both of them, actually. The standard six-speed manual and optional Sportshift have been given a modified clutch and flywheel that saves weight, reduces rotating mass, and - in the manual version - lessens clutch effort.

The Sportshift transmission has a few additional changes, including a revised control program for smoother power delivery and Dual Throttle Map software allowing for "Sports" and "Comfort" modes that alter throttle tip in to make around-town driving a smoother exercise while allowing for sharper inputs in spirited driving. Sensitivity to steering and hill decent have also been added, allowing the current gear to be held midcorner and a lower gear to remain engaged to optimize engine braking on steep mountain declines. Combined with the V8 Vantage's increased power, acceleration from 0 to 60 mph is down to a paltry 4.7 sec, while top speed is up to 180 mph. Amazingly, Aston also claims the new engine, when coupled with the revised Sportshift transmission, provides greater fuel economy and fewer emissions despite the increased performance - a refreshing trend.

Despite our praise for the V8 Vantage's handling, Aston also saw it fit to make some tweaks to the suspension to give improved body control and low-speed ride quality. Most of the improvements come directly from the V8 Vantage Roadster, a car that featured a revised suspension over the early coupe. The changes include revised upper shock mountings and bump stops along with stiffer front and rear spring rates (up 11 and 5 percent, respectively). Bilstein dampers are now specified as standard equipment. One of the few complaints we had regarding the original V8 Vantage was its slight lack of steering feel. Aston's addressed that by changing up the steering geometry and stiffening the front lower suspension arm bushings to improve feel - and handling to boot.

Inside the V8 Vantage, another complaint has been addressed - that of complicated, untactful switchgear that we found difficult to use while focusing on the road. That's been revised in the new car with a completely restyled center stack - constructed from die-cast zinc alloy and finished in graphite silver -- containing new controls designed to be easier to operate than their predecessors. A new electronic key fob, dubbed ECU, mimics that of the DBS's glass, stainless steel, and polycarbonate unit, and replaces the old car's traditional key. A new Hard Disk Drive Navigation System allows for faster route processing, improved graphics, and additional features.

Outside, Aston's Vantage is largely unchanged, though a range of new standard and optional 19-in. wheels has been added.

Those looking for ultimate performance from their V8 Vantage aren't likely to be disappointed either. Aston has decided to offer a new Sports Pack on both its Coupe and Roadster, which is designed to appeal to the less-compromising driving enthusiast. All the traditional elements of increased performance are here: Lightweight wheels, retuned dampers with stiffer springs, and a stiffer rear anti-roll bar (Coupe only) all conspire to reward the skilled driver with an even more focused driving experience.

Kamis, 22 Mei 2008

New Car: 2010 Kia Soul

As anticipated, Kia confirms it will go ahead with production of the small but potentially fun Soul compact car after years of teasing with multiple concepts. Look for the Spectra-based C-segment car to go on sale in the U.S. in early 2009.

We first saw a concept version of the Soul at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. We were further teased earlier this year, at the 2008 Geneva Auto Show, with three customized Soul concepts—the Soul Burner, Soul Searcher, and Soul Diva—that were accoutered with items such as huge, 19-inch wheels, garish paint schemes, gold trim, and wild graphics.

The production Soul, which will debut at the Paris auto show in October, appears to be tamer, but Kia is hoping buyers of the five-door hatch will “express their psyche” by personalizing their Soul with custom colors and accessories—essentially taking a page from Scion’s playbook. And the boxy Kia is reminiscent of the Scion xB.

The front-wheel-drive Soul is an all-new addition to the Kia lineup and, with an expected fuel-efficient 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, joins the growing fleet of small cars for North America in response to escalating oil prices and increasing environmental awareness.

The Soul will compete with other small newcomers including the Ford Fiesta due in 2010. A direct competitor is likely to be the equally boxy Nissan Cube that will go on sale in North America in the spring of 2009 as a 2010 model.

The Soul initially was to go on sale later this year, but the launch was pushed back to early next year. Officials say only that delays happen.

Kia has a lot planned for the platform. After the Soul, a new Spectra is due for 2010, and the Korean automaker showed a coupe concept at the 2008 New York auto show with the less-than-imaginative name of Kia Koup. While production has not been confirmed, we see no reason why it won’t be greenlighted.

New Car: 2009 Lexus IS250 SR

If you’re a Lexus fan, but your budget can’t quite stretch to the IS F super-saloon, help is at hand in the shape of the IS250 SR.

The newcomer is designed to offer some of the range-topper’s sporty touches without the price tag or running costs. Based on the standard IS250, the SR features a chunky bodykit with a deeper front bumper and a subtle bootlid spoiler. The exterior package also includes profiled side skirts and new 17-inch alloy wheels, with 18-inch ‘Tsuki’ rims available as an option.

Inside, the SR carries all the usual IS250 equipment, including 10 airbags, climate and cruise control, keyless entry and LED interior lighting, but adds aluminium scuff plates and pedals, plus heated front seats. Yet while the updates have a distinctly racy flavour, the SR is powered by the same 2.5-litre petrol V6 that appears in the rest of the range. It delivers 204bhp and can propel the SR from 0-60mph in 8.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 140mph.

Lexus claims that if customers were to spec up a standard IS250 to the level of the SR, it would cost more than £3,500. However, at £24,990 for the manual version and £25,800 for the automatic, the SR is only £1,000 more than the normal model.

Rabu, 21 Mei 2008

Hot News: Fiat Topolino Reborn

Say ciao bella to the Fiat 500’s little brother! This compact city car is aiming to repeat the success of the rec­ently resurrected classic by offering buyers plenty of style – but in an even smaller package.

Codenamed ‘Topolino’ after the original model, which arrived in 1937 and was one of the smallest cars in the world at that time, the newcomer is Fiat’s answer to a raft of forthcoming micro machines. These cars, such as the VW up! and Toyota iQ, are all aimed at reducing the average CO2 outputs of manufacturers’ ranges.

With a body length of less than three metres, the Fiat will also rival current cars such as Smart’s ForTwo.

As you can see from these pictures, produced using insider informa­tion, the Topolino takes some styling inspiration from Fiat’s existing range, with large, bold headlights and a neat lower grille. However, its tiny dimensions mean that elsewhere it’s a radi­cal departure for the firm and represents a new design direction.

It also features a new layout. As with the up!, the Topolino will be rear-wheel drive and have its engine mounted underneath the boot. This allows engineers to maximise interior space and ensure the car complies with crash regulations. Power will be taken from Fiat’s forthcoming 900cc two-cylinder petrol engine.

The unit was first previewed by the Panda Aria concept at last Septem­ber’s Frankfurt Motor Show, and will debut in dealers in the 500 later this year. While the 500 is likely to come with two versions of this engine – a 105bhp turbo or a normally aspirated 65bhp unit – it will be the latter that powers most Topolino models.

This is mated to a VW DSG-style twin-clutch gearbox, while the car is also equipped with a stop-start sys­tem, which can switch off the engine when it’s not needed in traffic. As a result, the Topolino should return fuel economy of more than 80mpg and emit less than 90g/km of CO2.

The latter figure will give the car a key role in cutting Fiat’s overall car­bon output, helping it comply with Euro­pean Commission plans to impose an average 120g/km limit on the model ranges of all firms selling cars across the Continent by 2012.

What’s more, Auto Express has already reported on Fiat’s hybrid plans (Issue 1,009), and engineers are working on a petrol-electric version of the new two-cylinder unit, which could see the Topolino boost its economy and slash its CO2 emissions even further. Inside, the newcomer is set to feature a flex­ible seating arrangement, taking the ‘3+1’ layout first seen on the brand’s Trepiuno concept car – which previewed the 500 at the Geneva Motor Show in 2004 – into production.

It will feature a front passenger seat that can be slid fore and aft to increase or decrease legroom, in addition to an occasional flip-down ‘fourth’ seat in the rear.

With all seats apart from the driver’s capable of being folded flat, the Topolino promises to offer amazing flexibility and space for its size. Fiat has yet to confirm exactly when the model will be launched, but it’s likely to hit showrooms in 2010.

Hot News: BMW 5-Series Hatchback???

An amazing split-boot version of the 5-Series executive is on the cards at BMW, Auto Express can reveal.

The ‘TwinDoor‘ feature, similar to the one seen on the new Skoda Superb, means you can use the car like a saloon or a hatchback for greater practicality. Set to debut on the all-new evolution of the 5-Series, which is due to be launched in 2010, the system is still officially under review, but is understood to be a key element on the next car.

And while the current saloon model’s 520-litre boot means that storage has never been a problem, the versatility created by the hatchback option will add at least 80 litres to its capacity, making it comparable to the X5 SUV.

Split-folding rear seats will allow owners to easily carry awkward items, too. The hatchback model will slot into the range between the saloon and Touring estate variants. Our spies have already spotted the next-generation 5-Series testing near BMW’s headquarters in Germany. The prototype in our pictures is wearing heavy black cladding, but judging by the angle of the rear window, it’s clear that a hatchback version is entirely feasible.

Given the acclaim Skoda received for the Superb, it’s likely to prompt a wave of split-boot saloons in the future.

Hot News: Honda Hybrid Confirmed

Honda has confirmed it will start selling a standalone hybrid model next year, along with a production version of the CR-Z concept, a new Civic hybrid and a hybrid version of the Jazz.

The new car will be a five-door hatchback with five seats, and Honda expects to sell 200,000 examples a year. It will be based on a new platform that will also be used as the basis for the forthcoming hybrid sports car based on the CR-Z.

Honda’s bespoke hybrid will not use lithium-ion batteries, under development by most car manufacturers for the next generation of electric cars; the firm’s engineers are said to be concerned about their reliability and longevity. Instead it will use conventional nickel-hydride batteries.

However, Honda has managed to slim down the battery pack to reduce weight and make the car cheaper to produce.

The battery and power control unit (the module that controls the charging and the amount of power needed to propel the car) will be fitted at the rear of the vehicle, under the boot. The accompanying petrol engine is said to be the 1.4-litre four cylinder used in the Honda Civic IMA.

There¹s no word on pricing yet, but Honda said the car will be “affordable”. That could mean that it will undercut the next Prius, also due to be launched next year; expect Honda’s prices to start at around £16,000.

Hot News: Infiniti's Drop-Top is on the Way

Infiniti's going topless! Hot on the heels of the arrival of Nissan’s premium brand in Europe, the American market is set to gain a drop-top version of the stylish G37 coupé.

And to maintain the car’s elegant looks, the new convertible will feature a metal hard-top which will fold away at the flick of a switch. UK sales have yet to be confirmed, but it seems odds on to come here.

The Infiniti cabrio forms part of Renault-Nissan’s plans for expansion in 2008/09, which will see the launch of nine new models globally. Along with Infiniti’s arrival, British buyers can expect the Qashqai+2, 370Z and the new Cube supermini by the end of the 2008 financial year. Looking further ahead, Ghosn outlined a long-term plan called Nissan GT 2012. His pledge is that Nissan will launch 60 new models in five years, including a zero emissions electric car.

New Car: 2010 Audi TT Clubsport

This is our first look at the Audi Clubsport Quattro, which will go into production later this year powered by a 300bhp version of the firm’s 2.0-litre TFSI turbocharged petrol engine.

The car was unveiled today at the Lake Worther Tour, an annual gathering of VW and Audi enthusiasts held in Austria. The Clubsport Quattro is a near-production version of the Clubsport Speedster concept shown at last year’s Essen Motor Show.

The Clubsport Quattro does away with a roof, and replaces the windscreen with low-level speedster style glass and unusual sloping side windows. The body is 60mm wider than that of the standard TT to cover the wider front and rear tracks.

The TFSI engine drives all four wheels via Audi’s new seven-speed S-tronic dual clutch gearbox, which can be operated in both automatic and manual modes with paddles behind the steering wheel.

The unusual 19-inch turbine-blade design wheels are covered by 255/35 tyres, and behind them is the uprated braking system from the recently-launched TTS.

Inside the Audi Clubsport Quattro gets aluminium pedals, instrument bezels and door handles, wraparound race-style seats and tan leather trim.

Details of pricing – and the exact markets the Clubsport will be offered in – will be revealed later. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Selasa, 20 Mei 2008

Hot News: Peugeot 207 SUV

The Peugeot 207 is venturing into the rough! Auto Express spied this SUV sister car for the popular supermini, which is to join other forthcoming compact off-roaders such as the MINI Monte and Vauxhall’s Corsa 4x4 on sale next year.

And Peugeot will again link up with Mitsubishi, just as it did for the Outlander-based 4007 SUV. The 2007 promises to be one of the most car-like SUVs in its class, with agile handling and plenty of grip, thanks to the Mitsubishi-developed 4x4 system.

It will be based on the CX concept first seen at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year. But it is set to have a look all of its own, based around large headlights and a trademark bold grille. Inside, the five-seater will offer plenty of versatility, while a wide range of optional extras includes a panoramic glass roof and satellite navigation.

Power is to come from 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines. And, as you can see from our spy shot (top), early production prototypes have already been caught testing.

The newcomer will go on sale in the UK towards the end of next year. Before that, though, Peugeot is planning to take the wraps off the 308 CC at this year’s Paris Motor Show.

Revealed in the form of a thinly disguised concept, it will be virtually identical to the production car, which arrives in the UK next summer.

The front end is similar to that of the RC Z concept which, as we reported in Issue 1,010, has been given the green light for production. Options are set to include a leather-trimmed interior, while the engine line-up will be topped by a 1.6 petrol turbo unit. Prices for the 308 CC should range from £17,000 to £22,000.

Another show-stopper at the French expo will be the sixth-generation VW Golf, which makes its worldwide debut at the October event. Highlights should include the GTI and Bluemotion variants.

Spied: 2009 Acura TL

The 2009 Acura TL is still months away from its debut in the fall, but the magic 8ball is already saying "outlook not so good" for the latest Acura to get a redesign based on these recent spyshots.

Looking pretty inoffensive from the front, the 2009 TL bears shape and proportions similar to those of the current Nissan Maxima. Though the camouflage bra hides the front end well, it does reveal the shape of Acura's now-signature "dynamic power plenum" grille and headlight styling that look to be close to the mug found on the 2009 TSX.

Things take a turn for the ugly in the rear, however. Acura decided that the trapezoidal shape of its new grille would work great in the rear as well as it does in the front and superimposed it on the trunk lid and part of the rear fascia. The unconventional trapezoidal shape not only makes for a small trunk opening, it's disproportionate to the relatively small taillights.

The presence of large dual exhausts is a telltale sign that a V-6 lurks under the hood. Rumors leaked out of a recent dealer meeting suggest the present TL's 3.2-liter six will be dropped, with the 3.5-liter in the TL Type-S becoming the base engine in either front or all-wheel-drive configurations, with an available, range-topping 3.7-liter with 300 horsepower and AWD becoming the new Type-S engine option.

We'll know much more leading up to the new TL's auto show debut, which should take place at either this November's Los Angeles auto show or the 2009 Detroit show.

Senin, 19 Mei 2008

Spied: 2010 Maserati Quattroporte

The Maserati Quattroporte looks set for a more extensive facelift than we were expecting, if these latest spy shots from Italy are anything to go by.

Our spies say they’ve not seen such heavy cladding on a Quattroporte prototype before, which suggests that the 2010 model’s front end will be heavily reworked. A new-look grille should bring the Quattroporte’s looks in line with that of its more aggressive sibling coupé, the GranTurismo.

Meanwhile, bigger front air intakes will feed a new direct-injection engine, likely to be related to the unit that powers the recently unveiled Ferrari California.

Further camouflage around the rear end of the 2010 Quattroporte indicates changes there, too. We’re expecting LED rear lights and a third brake light added on the bootlid lip.

Maserati will face stiff four-door competition from the likes of the Aston Martin Rapide and Porsche Panamera come 2010, so it needs to keep the Quattroporte competitive until an all-new version arrives in 2012. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Minggu, 18 Mei 2008

Spied: 2011 Mercedes Gullwing

Our spies were on hand in Germany at the Nürburgring to take these exclusive shots of the new Mercedes Gullwing test mule undergoing some handling tests.

Since AMG announced last July that Mercedes and McLaren had discontinued their co-operation on the development of a smaller mid-engined SLR follow up, the German firm has been using their own in-house performance branch AMG and HWA Racing, to develop the new sportscar.

The proportions of this prototype would appear to put to rest any of the McLaren F2 mid-engine rumours that had been swirling around Mercedes’ next supercar effort.

The mule uses some Dodge Viper body panels at the rear, but any similarities end there, as this Gullwing car mule has a longer wheelbase which closely matches that of the SLR, and it clearly displays a long hood and cab-rearward stance.

Despite previous reports of the Gullwing car being a smaller SLR, based on the R230 SL class platform, it now seems unlikely judging by the overall dimensions of this test mule. As a result, some uncertainty as to the true nature of this vehicle is starting to circulate.

The source of the confusion comes from the first spy photos of the Gullwing car which showed a suspicious looking R230 SL-Class wearing dramatic body treatments which suggested a super high performance vehicle. Instead, it is our interpretation that the highly modified SL was just a host body for the purpose of engine testing. Which engine they were testing, however, remains to be confirmed.

First Sketch: Audi A3 Clubsport

Here’s a hot hatch that’s all torque! The Audi A3 Clubsport Quattro is the latest barnstorming diesel to be unleashed from Audi’s Ingolstadt HQ. Hot on the heels of the R8 V10 TDI and the stripped-out TT Clubsport, Audi has given the Clubsport treatment to a humble A3 2.0 TDI hatchback and turned it into an almost unrecognisable monster.

Resplendent in a beefed up body kit and red and white livery, the A3 Clubsport shows yet again that diesel is a serious performance option these days, not just the choice for those with fuel economy and carbon emissions in mind.

The stats speak for themselves – 221bhp and a tyre-shredding 332lb ft of torque mean a 0-62mph time of just 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 149mph. But that only tells half the story, because peak torque comes at a lowly 1750rpm, endowing the TDI Clubsport with astonishing in-gear flexibility and punch.

And to nail the performance message home, the Clubsport A3 is decked with performance upgrades inside and out, from the deep front grill and massive flared wheel arches to the flat-bottomed steering wheel and bucket seats in the cabin.

It isn’t just an aesthetic exercise either – the car features multilink suspension at the rear and carbon-ceramic brakes inside the huge 20” alloys for fade-free stopping power. Even the interior door handles are hollowed out to save weight!

Audi is tight-lipped on whether this full-blown Clubsport will make production, but our sources tell us many of the features you see here will appear in a hot S3-rivalling A3 TDI Clubsport, set to be unveiled in late 2009.

Kamis, 15 Mei 2008

Spied: 2010 Audi TT Clubsport

Here’s one Audi TT that’s really mean and roofless! Our spies have the first pictures of the stunning new Clubsport version of the German roadster. The special, stripped-out model boasts aggressive new looks and a powerful 300bhp motor.

As you can see, the newcomer is showroom-ready and takes its design cues from the concept that wowed crowds at the Essen Motor Show, Germany last November.

As a result, the Clubsport will certainly turn heads. At the front there is a deeper front bumper than the standard car, while bulging wheelarches and deep side skirts feature down the sides.

But the big news is above the waistline. Like the classic Porsche Speedster of the Fifties, the drop-top Audi gets a chopped down windscreen and distinctive sloping slide glass. Behind the cockpit are rollover hoops for driver and passenger, while the cover for the fabric hood features eye-catching ‘speed’ bubbles.

Underneath the exciting bodywork is a turbocharged 2.0-litre motor from the S3 hatchback, tuned to deliver 300bhp. Connected to the firm’s grippy Quattro all-wheel drive transmission it promises to offer blistering performance.

No launch date has yet been revealed, but expect to see the first production examples appear later this year.

Rabu, 14 Mei 2008

Hot News: Opel/Vauxhall Corsa 4WD Shapes Up

It's the latest 4x4 that’s promising to take Vauxhall on a journey into uncharted territory... These are the first pictures of the eagerly anticipated four-wheel-drive Corsa, a supermini SUV which is set to follow in the wheeltracks of the Antara when it goes on sale early in 2010.

We first revealed plans to produce the go-anywhere model in Issue 964, but we’ve had to wait until now before we got to see it in the flesh. The rugged-looking newcomer, spied in prototype form on this Spanish transporter, is set to join a growing band of similar cars – including still-secret rivals based on the Ford Fiesta and Peugeot 207.

Our pictures reveal the new machine’s beefed-up width and elevated ride height. These are expected to give greater off-road ability without ruining the standard car’s nimble, secure manners on the tarmac.

However, as our original scoop shows (below), the production version of the vehicle will also get tough looks, including rugged bumpers and body armour. There will also be under-body protection, along with a unique alloy wheel design.

All of this is unlikely to come cheap. The newcomer will sit at the top of the firm’s supermini range, next to the replacement Meriva, which was unveiled as a concept at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Despite the new Corsa’s SUV tag, bosses are keen to ensure that it is viewed as a frugal, low-emission car, rather than a gas-guzzling 4x4. As a result, it will bring together the firm’s most efficient powertrains, including a new diesel and a range of low-capacity, high-economy petrol turbos. In addition, the firm’s excellent 1.3 and 1.7-litre CDTI oil-burners will be tuned for low-down torque and refinement.

What’s more, the car may be among the first to offer GM’s long-awaited hybrid technology. Although this could make it expensive, a ‘mild’ system that combines a stop-start facility with regenerative braking and a small electric engine could improve economy and emissions.

The set-up could also be used to support the new car’s innovative transmission. Vauxhall insiders have revealed that engineers and designers want the car to deliver genuine off-road ability, with a proper 4x4 gearbox. While a cheaper front-wheel-drive variant will be available, flagship versions should carry this all-wheel-drive technology.

Such an arrangement would be too expensive to fit to a simple derivative model, so it may be shared with at least two other cars to help control costs. The first to get to grips with the system is likely to be the new Meriva. But a spokesperson hinted that sister brand Chevrolet will also use the set-up, in a 4x4 model based on the T2X concept.

Meanwhile, GM bosses have revealed that both the Corsa and Chevy could be built in the manufacturer’s state-of-the-art factory in Antwerp, Belgium. They have also said that buyers should expect a first glimpse of the Vauxhall model at a major motor show in 2009, before sales start 12 months later.

The vehicle should soon become a familiar sight on UK roads, as it is thought GM would like to sell 120,000 units annually.

Spied: 2010 Renault Megane

We've already taken the wraps off the new Megane – and now, we can bring you spy shots of it testing on the road for the first time.

Behind the disguise of this prototype lies a head-turning new look for the Ford Focus rival. Inspired by the latest Laguna, with detailing from the Mégane Coupé concept displayed at the Geneva Motor Show in March, the car is set to be one of the boldest in the class. Even the five-door spied here will have a distinctive panoramic glass roof, while flagship editions get an upmarket interior, complete with silver-rimmed instruments, keyless go and sat-nav.

The three-door will have an even sportier appearance, with a sharply rising window line and a tapered roof. Engine options will be carried over from the current Mégane line-up, with the range being topped by a 230bhp turbo Renaultsport hot hatch. The new Mégane will debut at the Paris Motor Show in October, with UK sales starting in 2009.

Spied: 2010 Mercedes E63 AMG

These latest spy shots from Germany reveal the 2009 Mercedes E63 AMG in closer detail than ever. Benz’s next super-saloon, also depicted above in Autocar’s exclusive rendered image, will be powered by the company’s 6.2-litre V8 when it debuts at the Frankfurt Motor Show in autumn 2009 and should offer in excess of 550bhp.

However, Autocar has also learnt that a debate has been raging between Mercedes bosses over the continued use of the big-bore V8 in the face of increasingly stringent emissions laws. Many at Benz are concerned that BMW is getting the upper hand in the race to go green, thanks to technology like its Efficient Dynamics systems. AMG has plans to clean up its act with future models, which will feature turbocharged smaller-capacity engines, diesel motors and even hybrid tech. The E63 could even be the company’s last new big-bore super saloon.

The E63 AMG saloon will be followed closely by an estate version and both will go on sale in the UK in early 2010 for around £70,000, as a direct competitor for the following year's BMW M5.

Mercedes claims next year’s E-class is the biggest step forward for its enduring executive saloon since the hallowed W124 version appeared back in 1985.

As well as concentrating efforts on giving the new car a sharp new look, a great deal of work as been focused on the chassis, which shares various components with the critically acclaimed C-class in a move aimed at providing greater levels of production efficiency.

This is good news for AMG, which has vowed to make the new E63 a more dynamic drive than today’s model. In fact, AMG engineers have been involved in the development of the new E-class since its inception.

This has allowed AMG to tune the E63 with far fewer compromises than in the past. The ultimate E-class is said to feature a widened front track, a unique steering ratio, and MacPherson strut and multi-link suspension with variable damping control that, like all AMG models since 2002, has been tuned during exhaustive tests at the Nürburgring.

One unknown quantity is the rear differential. Autocar can confirm that AMG has been running E63 prototypes with a newly developed electronic rear diff. But while the early signs look encouraging, insiders say there has been no final decision on whether it will form part of the production package.

Selasa, 13 Mei 2008

New Car: 2010 Vauxhall VXR8 Wagon

It looks like Vauxhall is ready to load up on performance. This teaser image is the first glimpse of what is set to become the scorching VXR8 estate.

Boasting a 425bhp V8, scintillating performance, a sporty rear-wheel drive chassis and a projected price of less then £40,000, it has the much more expensive BMW M5 Touring firmly in its sights.

Like its saloon counterpart, the newcomer would essentially be a rebadged version of the Australian-built HSV R8 of sister company Holden. As you can see, the model gets the same aggressive nose as the four-door version, complete with a deeper bumper, wider wheel arches and extra cooling vents in the front wings.

But from the B-pillars back, the VXR8 gets a practical new rear. Being based on the standard Commodore Sportwagon means this high performance version majors on versatility. The tailgate gets an extra wide opening as a result of being hinged deep into the roof panel, while folding the backbench flat frees up 2,000litres of luggage space.

But fans will be pleased to hear that performance hasn’t been sacrificed in the search for practicality. Under the bonnet is the familiar 425bhp 6.2-litre V8. Connected to a six-speed manual it should allow the VXR8 to sprint from standstill to 60mph in around 5.0 seconds.

The car will also feature the same uprated suspension as the saloon, boasting stiffer springs and dampers. However, the rear will be beefed up still further to cope with the possibility of heavier loads.

Bosses at Vauxhall have not yet decided whether this rapid estate car will find its way onto UK soil. If it does get the green light, then expect to see the first examples hit showrooms in early 2009.

Senin, 12 Mei 2008

Hot News: Luxury Renault to Take On R-Class.

Renault is getting ready to reveal a luxurious new seven-seat ‘crossover’ car that could feature a hi-tech hybrid powertrain.

The newcomer is likely to be based on the Egeus concept (above), which made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2005.

Sitting above the new Koleos compact SUV, it will rival the Mercedes R-Class. The seven-seater will have a four-wheel-drive transmission like the German challenger. This will be tuned to deliver sharp on-road handling, rather than serious mud-plugging.

Speaking about the new vehicle, Renault spokesman Emmanuel Bonvier said: “We want the car to enhance our presence at the upper end of the sector. It will offer excellent handling, together with a practical interior layout. But it must also deliver low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

To achieve this, we will optimise our existing engine technology, while exploring the possibility of a hybrid drivetrain.”

It is likely that the new crossover will be built alongside the Koleos at the firm’s Samsung factory in South Korea.

Although no firm production plans have been made, Bonvier predicted that showroom-ready cars should be ready by 2012.

Minggu, 11 Mei 2008

Hot News: 2010 Nissan 370Z is Better, Smaller, Faster

The highly-successful Nissan 350Z is getting long in the tooth, and rumors about its replacement have been circulating for some time. Expected to arrive in sometime in 2009 as a 2010 model, the new 370Z, codenamed Z34, will be smaller, lighter, and more agile than the current model.

Changes begin with the shortened wheelbase and reduced overall length. The wheelbase will be shrunk by about four inches to just over 100 inches, with length dropping by some five inches to around 164 or so. Sources indicate the wheelbase was shortened by removing the the strut tower brace that dominated the rear cargo area and by shrinking room behind the seats.

These dimensions will make the 370Z roughly the same size as a Porsche Cayman or BMW M Coupe. Styling will be more aggressive, with heavily flared fenders, rocker panels and new fascia with updated lighting. The cabin will likely feature better materials and improved ergonomics.

On the engine side, the extra 0.2-liters of displacement are going to translate into a substantial power boost on the order of at least 45 horsepower, giving the 370Z at least the 330 horses under the hood that the Infiniti G37 coupe has, possibly more. Transmission choices will include a six-speed manual and a seven-speed automatic.

Additionally, there is word that Renault is considering the possibility of using the new Z platform to resurrect the defunct Alpine brand, with technical aid from Porsche.

Sabtu, 10 Mei 2008

Spied: 2009 Opel/Vauxhall Insignia Hatchback

These spy shots show a completely undisguised version of the new Vauxhall Insignia hatchback.

Expected to account for as much as 75 per cent of Insignia sales in Europe, the hatchback variant of Vauxhall’s Mondeo rival looks very similar to its saloon sibling.

These shots show that the hatch can be differentiated only by its more angled D-pillar and some subtly different shutlines.

The hatch will use the same engine line-up as the saloon, which means a petrol range stretching from a 138bhp four-pot up to a 258bhp, turbocharged V6. The 2.0-litre common-rail diesel engine will be the best-seller, though; it will be available in 128bhp and 158bhp versions. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Jumat, 09 Mei 2008

Hot News: New Toyota Prius Grows Up

The third-generation Toyota Prius hybrid is getting the finishing touches before its debut at the Detroit motor show next January. It will go on sale in the UK late next year.

Sources say that the new hybrid will be larger than today’s car but still be recognisable as a Toyota Prius. Crucially, though, it will be greener and better to drive than today’s globally successful model.

The hatchback will be about 10cm longer and 3cm wider than today’s car and, to cope with the bigger size, the engine will move up from 1.5 to 1.8 litres. Power should increase to 100bhp.

Toyota says it can achieve this higher output while still improving economy and lowering emissions. Sources in Japan claim that Toyota is aiming for a 12 per cent improvement in fuel consumption, leading to a combined economy of over 70mpg and C02 emissions of just over 90g/km.

Toyota’s trademark hybrid system will be more tightly packaged and efficient, ensuring that the car is able to run longer on pure battery power.

At launch the Prius will stick with the current style of nickel metal hydride batteries, but the ‘smarter’ style of lighter, high output lithium-ion batteries may arrive by 2010. The first plug-in versions of the Prius are likely to go on limited release at the same time.

The Prius hatchback pictured here will be part of a range of hybrid models that Toyota intends to launch to with a Prius badge.

One of these could be a minivan based on the Hybrid X concept from Geneva 2007. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures)

Spied: 2010 Porsche Small SUV

Porsche's new baby has taken its first steps! This is a forthcoming little brother for the Cayenne SUV – which we've spied testing at the Nurburgring circuit in Germany for the first time.

Based on platform architecture shared with Audi's Q5, the compact SUV is the next logical step in the expansion of Porsche's range. Buoyed by the success of the Cayenne, the smaller version will compete with BMW's X3 and Land Rover's Freelander, offering a sportier driving experience than both.

As you can see from these spy shots of a prototype wearing a Cayenne body as a disguise, the new model is shorter and narrower. It will feature four-wheel drive and will share engines with the Q5, including a 3.2-litre V6 petrol and even the possibilty of diesel power for the first time too.

The new model is expected to go on sale next year with a price tag of around £40,000. For more details, see the May 14th issue of Auto Express.

Kamis, 08 Mei 2008

Hot News: New McLaren Due in 2011

The countdown to the launch of McLaren’s long-awaited second supercar has begun. Early prototypes of the final design began shakedown tests in mid-April.

Codenamed P11, the first of a number of versions of the new McLaren is expected to roll into showrooms in March 2010, although it’s expected to be unveiled in autumn 2009. The P11 will be followed by both open-top and hardcore versions of the base model.

Insiders say the mid-engined car will be pitched as a rival for the £130k Ferrari F430. The P11 is also said to be noticeably lighter and more compact than the competition.

It will be powered by a 550bhp V8 engine which some sources say will be built by Mahle (which bought out the old Cosworth business) in Northamptonshire. It’s thought that the McLaren engine will be based on an existing Mercedes unit.

Insiders in Germany say that production of the Mercedes McLaren SLR will be closed down by the middle of next year. This will clear the way for the P11 production system to be installed at McLaren’s Woking facility.

The Spider version of the P11 is expected to appear in March 2011. There’s scant information on this model, which is still in the development phase, but it is expected to have a proper folding fabric roof.

The summer of 2011 should see the ultimate expression of the new McLaren supercar going on sale. Project P12, which should cost around £250,000 in today’s money, is said to be a much more hardcore, driver-focused interpretation of the P11. It’s also likely to be the version closest to the spirit of the iconic McLaren F1.

According to internal McLaren documents finalised last year, a V10 engine delivering over 600bhp will power the P12. The rest of the car will be stripped down and re-engineered for ultimate weight saving. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures)

Hot News: New E63 AMG Will Keep Huge V8

The next Mercedes E63 AMG will continue to use the company’s 6.2-litre V8, in spite of increasingly stringent emissions laws. Sources privy to the car’s details revealed to Autocar that the next hot E-class is a “clean-slate design” that uses the current 6.2-litre V8 engine. “Only the engine is brought over. The remainder has been either heavily reworked or is completely new,” said our source.

The new E63 will be unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show, just six months after the new E-class has been revealed. The E63 saloon will be closely followed by an estate version and both will go on sale in the UK in early 2010 for around £70,000 and is a direct competitor for the following year's BMW M5.

Mercedes claims next year’s E-class is the biggest step forward for its enduring executive saloon since the hallowed W124 version appeared back in 1985.

As well as concentrating efforts on giving the new car a sharp new look, a great deal of work as been focused on the chassis, which shares various components with the critically acclaimed C-class in a move aimed at providing greater levels of production efficiency.

This is good news for AMG, which has vowed to make the new E63 a more dynamic drive than today’s model. In fact, AMG engineers have been involved in the development of the new E-class since its inception.

This has allowed AMG to tune the E63 with far fewer compromises than in the past. The ultimate E-class is said to feature a widened front track, a unique steering ratio, and MacPherson strut and multi-link suspension with variable damping control that, like all AMG models since 2002, has been tuned during exhaustive tests at the Nürburgring.

One unknown quantity is the rear differential. Autocar can confirm that AMG has been running E63 prototypes with a newly developed electronic rear diff. But while the early signs look encouraging, insiders say there has been no final decision on whether it will form part of the production package. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures)

New Car: 2009 Mercedes SL63 AMG IWC

Here's a new Mercedes to watch out for. Based on the scorching SL63 AMG range-topper, it's a joint venture between the German giant and famous Swiss watchmaker IWC.

Just 200 examples of the Edition IWC will be made, each getting an exclusive Kashmir white paint finish. Elsewhere the newcomer is fitted with the same matte-finish carbon fibre bodykit as the standard car, which includes a deeper front bumper, side skirts and prominent F1-style diffuser at the rear.

Inside, you'll find Tobago Brown Nappa leather upholstery covering the seats, door trims, dashboard and steering wheel. Look closer and you'll clock the discreet IWC logo on the carbon-finish centre console.

Underneath the eye-catching exterior hides the SL63's 517bhp 6.3-litre V8, which is connected to a seven-speed semi-auto transmission. Performance is blistering, with the sprint from standstill to 60mph taking 4.6 seconds.

Like the AMG it's based on, the IWC gets hi-tech Active Body Control suspension, powerful composite brakes and chunky 19-inch alloy wheels. The car's handling is further improved by a limited-slip differential.

Finally, when owners pick-up their new motor, they will also be presented with a special 'Grosser Ingenieur' (Great Engineer) wrist watch from IWC.

No prices have yet been revealed, but the first examples of this limited edition will hit showrooms in November.

Spied: 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt

Under the camo is Chevy's all new Cobalt sedan, scheduled to debut as a 2010 model. Codenamed GMX071, the next-gen Cobalt will begin production at GM's Lordstown plant in July or August of next year. A coupe version will also be available.

These pix reveal a contemporary new design direction for the Cobalt. The now-familiar two-tier Chevy grille dominates the front end, and the bodyside is delineated by a sharp boneline rising to the rear below a twisting concave surface that hints of current BMW 5-series. The trunk is well hidden, but the logical extension of the bodyside treatment suggests a raised central section and mild shoulders over rear wheel openings.

But what's more important is what's under the skin: The new Cobalt is one of the first cars to come off GM's new global compact vehicle architecture, which will also underpin the next gen Saturn Astra and the Chevy Volt. More than just new hardware, the global compact vehicle architecture represents a new approach to product development for GM.

The global compact vehicle architecture will replace five GM small car architectures worldwide by 2014, generating huge cost savings in materials and product development. One of the key attributes of the architecture is its high degree of dimensional flexibility, which allows GM to build vehicles as diverse as coupes and crossovers on the same assembly lines using many of the same parts.

Not only will the global compact vehicle architecture enable GM to get more products to market more rapidly -- company insiders hint more than 30 new models will be launched worldwide off the architecture in just four years -- but it allows easier sharing of powertrains and other advanced technologies.

Which is good news for GM. With gas prices continuing to rise and the subsequent boom in small car sales, the Cobalt is likely to be even more of a major player in the U.S. market than originally planned. GM now has the ability to rapidly expand the Cobalt range to include hatchbacks and crossovers if customers demand, and easily install diesel engines and other gas-saving technologies such as electric power steering.

Rabu, 07 Mei 2008

Hot News: 2011 BMW M5

Work on the new BMW M5 is gathering pace, industry sources have revealed to Autocar. M division is collaborating closely with the team developing the next 5-series, and plans to take the supersaloon fight to Mercedes’s doorstep with an all-new, fifth-generation 550bhp M5 in 2011. Mercedes is currently working on a ground-up redesign of the E63 that will appear in 2009.

The new 5-series, due in 2010, will be an obvious evolution of today’s design, and the new M5 is expected to use the current V10, bored out to 5.5 litres. It is also likely to get a direct injection, turbocharged unit, to reduce emissions. The engines will be available with either the six-speed manual gearbox or the new seven-speed M DCT double-clutch transmission.

Further improvements in fuel economy would result from the use of the company’s stop-start technology. BMW has already emphasised that it wants to reduce the emissions of the new 5-series through the Efficient Dynamics programme and it’s unlikely that the M5 would sidestep this technology. The part-time alternator system, for example, which is branded as regenerative braking, boosts power and economy without in any way affecting performance. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures)

Hot News: MG TF is Back!!

It's the roadster revival of the decade! Auto Express can exclusively take the wraps off the car that’s sure to get British fans hot under the collar: the new MG TF.

Emerging from the ashes of the famous company, the roadster is the first sign that the spirit of MG is alive and well, even though the brand is in the hands of Chinese owners.

This stunning model is set to replace the existing TF – production of which is back on track at MG Rover’s old home of Longbridge in the West Midlands – and will go on sale around 2010. And there’s not only a convert­ible planned, but a coupé, too!

The new TF is based around the Roewe 550 compact hatch, which made its debut at the Beijing Motor Show (Issue 1,009). It will feature a rear-wheel-drive version of that model’s platform – and this should ensure it has plenty of appeal for enthusiasts.

Although it will be slightly bigger than the Mazda MX-5, the MG will be targeting the Japanese convertible, as it’s likely to carry a similar price tag. However, also in its sights are the likes of the Alfa Romeo Spider, Audi TT Roadster and Volkswagen Eos.

If it looks a little familiar, that’s because the new TF takes some of its styling inspiration from the MG SV supercar and X80 concept. Those models were both based on the Mangusta – a sports car from Italian maker Qvale, which MG Rover bought in 2001.

As you can see from our pictures, produced using insider information, the new TF updates that shape with a striking front end incorporating a deep-set four-piece radiator grille and quad headlamps. At the rear, the curvy tail completes the look.

Under the skin, the TF features a chassis based on a design that was created by MG Rover – one which would have underpinned a replacement for the 45/ZS, had the company not gone into receivership.

When Shanghai Automobile Corporation (SAIC) bought the rights to the 25 and 75, it also acquired projects such as the unfinished 45. It has since produced the Roewe 550 and the 75-based Roewe 750.

There has always been the desire within SAIC to build a replacement for the TF, but with rival Nanjing Automobile Corpor­ation (NAC) owning the rights to the MG badge, there was never any chance of it wearing the famous octagon emblem – until the two Chinese giants joined forces.

Featuring a rear-wheel-drive platform dev­eloped in conjunction with British engineering expert Ricardo, plus MG Rover-based engines – including a 1.8-litre turbo and 2.5-litre V6 – the TF will deliver a great driving experience. And as SAIC-NAC are looking to form a UK Roewe dealer network in 2010, the stage is set for the TF’s comeback

Unofficial Picture: 2010 Renault Megane

The French revolution starts here! Auto Express has the pictures that prove Renault is ready to reclaim its reputation as the world’s most daring designer of family cars.

This is the new Mégane, revealed for the first time in all its glory. We’ve spied undisguised versions of both the three and five-door versions, which are being prepared at the firm’s HQ.

And our inside information also means we can reveal what drivers can expect from the line-up when it hits the UK early next year.

With a sporty looking coupé and practical five-door hatch under dev-elopment, Renault plans to come out with all guns blazing in the fight against the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. The range of head-turning cars also promises class-leading levels of equipment and refinement, too.

Due to make their public debut at the Paris Motor Show in October, the two models are inspired by the new Laguna, and use detailing first revealed by the Mégane concept, which Auto Express drove in Issue 1,006.

However, as you can see in our pictures, the similarities between the cars are limited. While they get pan-oramic glass roofs and distinctive headlamps, in profile they are very different. Both have unique rear ends and individual wheel designs.

The three-door is a coupé and has a dramatic nose, tapered roof and sharply rising window line. At the rear, wide haunches and a steeply raked glass area provide a purposeful stance, which reflects the car’s promised handling prowess.

The five-door has a more conventional front, plus a larger glass area and bigger tailgate to improve practicality. The tail-lights are different, as is the rear bumper. The addition of a pair of back doors has altered the roofline to provide greater headroom for rear seat passengers.

Inside, flagship versions of both models get an upmarket interior which includes silver rimmed instruments, keyless go and satellite navigation.

An advanced airbag system is expected to complement a range of safety features that includes traction and stability control. Details of the engine line-up are not so clear, but both petrol and diesel powerplants will be available, including a 230bhp turbocharged Renaultsport version, which is designed to replace the performance oriented R27.

Prices for the newcomer are yet to be announced by the company. However, as both models will mark a major step forward in both design and engineering, a small increase is likely. Entry-level models should start from around £13,000.

The launch of the two Méganes will not affect the recently revised Scenic and Grand Scenic compact MPVs, both of which will continue until at least 2010.

However, Renault has hinted that a convertible Mégane could be on the cards to replace the current metal- roofed C-C. And estate and saloon var- iants are also due to join the line-up.

Unofficial Picture: 2009 Renault Laguna Coupe

The picture confirms it will be very similar to the concept unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year. Only the lights and position of the number plates have changed. A 205bhp four-cylinder turbo, 3.5-litre 230bhp V6 petrol, 185bhp four-cylinder diesel and 230bhp 3.0 V6 oil-burner will be offered. Four-wheel steering will appear, and the interior will have a similar blend of comfort and sportiness as the Laguna GT hatch. The Coupé goes on sale before the end of the year, from £27,000.

Selasa, 06 Mei 2008

Hot News: GM's Sigma and Zeta to be Converged

General Motors' Cadillac-only Sigma platform (CTS, SRX, STS) proved too expensive for cars like the Pontiac G8 and Chevrolet Camaro. Now GM is merging the Sigma architecture with its other RWD platform, the G8/Camaro's Zeta, in time for the urgent 2011-model-year Cadillac STS/DTS convergence. Cadillac has locked in the new flagship's design. We hear designers are reworking the nose because the flashy headlamp design turned out to be too busy.

A rear-drive Chevrolet Impala is all but off the table. GM is unwilling to give up sales of the front-drive full-size sedan, which isn't ceding sales to the popular new Malibu. The Impala competes directly with Ford's Taurus, and the division already has a Zeta-based model, the Camaro, on the way. Because the only other car on the Impala's aged W platform, the Buick LaCrosse, will soon be replaced with the Epsilon-based Invicta, the next Impala probably will ride on a stretched Epsilon II platform. Will an optional V-8 fit? Doesn't matter, as new Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards start to take effect in the 2011 model year, same as the next Impala's arrival.

The converged Sigma/Zeta platform will encompass six versions on three wheelbases:

Coupe: Next-gen Chevy Camaro, although Holden is still pushing hard for a Monaro version, and Pontiac may want a G8 coupe, too.

Coupe premium: Next-gen CTS. Same wheelbase, but gets forged-aluminum suspension for premium road feel, handling.

Midsize: 114.8-inch wheelbase, including Pontiac G8/Holden Commodore and possibly a Chevy sedan, but not the next Impala.

Midsize premium: Next-gen CTS. Also shares 114.8-inch wheelbase (a 1.4-inch stretch over the current car), but gets the upscale forged-aluminum suspension.

Large: 118.5-inch wheelbase for Holden Statesman/Buick Park Avenue (China), Holden Ute/Pontiac G8 ST, and maybe RWD Lucerne replacement.

Large premium: New STS/DTS replacement. Same 118.5-inch wheelbase as the large sedan, but with forged-aluminum suspension and longer overhangs.

But that's not the entire GM rear-drive story: The company is also working on a small rear-drive platform, primarily for Cadillac's forthcoming 3 Series-fighter, desperately needed to establish the brand in Europe. Speculation suggests this may be split into premium and regular versions, as well, with Holden/Pontiac/Chevy getting the regular models.

Spied: 2010 Ferrari F149

Some of the best spy photos we've seen yet of the new upcoming entry-level Ferrari (known internally as the F149) have cropped up on Ferrari enthusiast forum, FerrariChat. The photos, apparently taken by an unnamed member of a U.K.-based forum, show the F149 making its way through Maranello city streets still wearing some camouflage, but not nearly as much as in previous photos.

Overall, the car has lost some of its 599GTB-like features (previous shots showed a car almost identical to the 599), though the long hood and shorter tail fairly well mimic Ferrari's flaghship V-12 entry. As mentioned by FerrariChat forum members, we too can see a little more of the previous generation 550/575 in this development mule (horse?).

In any case, you can expect the F149 to finally make its debut at the Paris Auto Show later this year with a version of the 4.7-liter V-8 found in the Maserati GranTurismo and Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione. The car is expected to be a front-engined 2+2 with a retractable hardtop and seven-speed dual-clutch gear box. Click the link below to see the rest of the photos.

Spied: 2010 Citroen C3 MPV

Citroen's new supermini-MPV is loaded with style! The upcoming people carrier, which bosses at the French company are confident will go straight to the top of the class, was snapped this week virtually undisguised by our spies in France.

And the distinctive high-mounted tail-lights which mark out the newcomer are clear to see in our picture. Rumoured to be badged Monospace, the MPV will be based on the same platform as the all-new C3 hatchback, which was revealed by Auto Express in Issue 1,008.

The Monospace takes its styling cues from the C4 Picasso. The front end will feature large headlights, chunky bumpers and the trademark double-chevron grille, while at the rear the screen opens independently of the tailgate. A central instrument binnacle will dominate the dashboard, and expect interiors to feel bright and airy, thanks to the panoramic windscreen and clever use of numerous cabin lights.

Engines are shared with sister firm Peugeot’s 207, and the range comprises 1.6-litre normally aspirated and turbocharged petrol units, plus punchy HDi diesels. These are mated to manual, automatic or clutchless SensoDrive transmissions.

The C3 supermini-MPV will debut next year, and take on the Renault Modus, Vauxhall Meriva and Nissan Note when it goes on sale in 2010.

Senin, 05 Mei 2008

New Car: 2009 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart

It looks like tuner Ralliart is downsizing! Mitsubishi’s official performance division has worked its magic on the Colt – and this is the result.

Ralliart is famed for its fire-breathing modifications to sporty cars such as the Lancer Evolution and FTO coupé, but the limited edition Version R Special is based on Mitsubishi’s five-door supermini.

It features an uprated 154bhp, 1.5-litre petrol engine. That’s only 7bhp more than the flagship CZT, but the chassis has also been stiffened with seam welding around the door openings to improve handling.

It can go from 0-60mph in seven seconds, and hit a top speed of more than 130mph. Extended wheelarches, tinted windows, a tweaked exhaust pipe and black alloy wheels also set it apart from lesser models.

Only 300 examples of the limited-run design will be produced, but there are no immediate plans to bring it to British showrooms.

Jumat, 02 Mei 2008

Hot News: New SEAT Gets Audi's Face

Seat’s new family car, due for launch at the Paris Show in October, will be a thinly disguised version of the just-superseded Audi A4, company bosses have revealed – and they don’t care who knows it.

These official sketches show how the car, codenamed Bolero but unlikely to use that name in production, will have a fascia from the Audi A4 cabriolet. It will use a selection of the latest Audi-VW engines, but its proportions, greenhouse, chassis, suspension, doors and glass will be recognizably Audi.

“This may not seem a conventional approach to car design,” said Seat design boss Luc Donckerwolke, who has worked at Audi in the past, “but we believe the Seat brand will become established much faster in this highly competitive sector if the first model we offer has a proven record of quality and reliability. With the A4-based model, there will be no room for doubt.”

Seat will start building the car in December in a new production line inside its Barcelona plant, aiming at a March launch and volume of 40,000 cars per year. The company is coy about pricing, but insiders say it will be similarly priced to the Skoda Superb, offering sportiness and performance where the Skoda offers space. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Custom Search