Rabu, 30 November 2011

Tokyo Show 2011 Highlights: Volkswagen Cross Coupe Concept

Klaus Bischoff, Executive Director of Volkswagen Design, has confirmed that the Volkswagen Cross Coupé concept shown at the Tokyo motor show shows off design themes of all future SUVs friom the company.

"It is the future face of all VW SUVs," he said.

The Cross Coupé also previews the bold new look of its second-generation Tiguan. Sitting on the German car maker’s versatile new MQB platform, the new four-seater, four-wheel drive petrol-electric hybrid is officially described as a cross between a four-door coupé and compact SUV, which has led many to speculate that Volkswagen is considering a second compact off-roader model in the mould of the Range Rover Evoque.

However, Volkswagen sources close to design boss Walter de Silva have confirmed to Autocar that the Cross Coupé has a broader brief in previewing a new design lineage that will be adopted by all of the company’s upcoming SUV models, including the next Tiguan due out in 2014.

“We won’t rule out the possibility of adding a sportier SUV to the Volkswagen line-up at some time. But the main message with the Cross Coupé is its styling, which stands for the future of SUV design at Volkswagen,” Autocar was told.

The Cross Coupé combines front-end styling elements first seen on Volkswagen-owned Giugiaro penned Tex and Go concepts wheeled out at the Geneva motor show earlier this year with heavily sculptured surfaces throughout. It has a highly defined shoulder – or tornado line as de Silva refers to it – higher waistline, shallow side glass, heavily angled tailgate, distinctive wheel arch design and 20-inch alloy wheels shod with substantial 265/45 profile tyres.

The five-door Cross Coupé is both considerably bolder than the existing Tiguan, whose design dates back to 2005 and a former Volkswagen design team headed by Murat Gunak.

Inside, Volkswagen has provided its latest concept with a classy Audi-esque cabin with a sweeping dashboard whose various horizontal design elements mirror those of the exterior, a hi-tech instrument display combining traditional analogue and the latest in computer enhanced graphics. It also has grab handles incorporated into the centre pod and four heavily contoured seats separated by a high set centre tunnel which is used to store a battery that powers the concept’s electric motors.

At 4345mm in length, 1868mm in width and 1523mm in height, the Cross Coupé is 125mm shorter, 58mm wider and a significant 177mm lower than today’s first generation Tiguan. It also rides on a wheelbase that is 26mm longer at 2630mm – allied to tracks that up by 15mm at the front and by 43mm at the rear at 1585mm and 1613mm respectively. Nominal boot space underneath the rear windows is put at 380 litres – or 90 litres less than the Tiguan, rising to 1230 litres when the rear seats are folded away.

Thanks to: Autocar

Tokyo Show 2011 Highlights: Suzuki Regina Concept

The new Suzuki Regina concept, revealed at the Tokyo motor show today, is the Japanese maker’s idea of a new, global small car.

Majoring in low weight and aerodynamics, the Suzuki Regina concept uses an 800cc turbocharged petrol motor, a new CVT transmission, brake regeneration and auto stop-start to achieve its impressive 75mpg claimed combined economy figure.

Weighing just 730kg, the 3.5-metre long, 1.6-metre wide Regina offers 10 per cent better aerodynamics than a Swift and showcases clever new manufacturing processes that utilise curved high-tensile steel elements to reduce the number of parts required whilst improving rigidity. Interior space is also a priority, so it gets a staggered dash to allow the passengers more space without compromising the driving position.

Expect to see this make production, albeit without the concept glitz and quirkiness.

Thanks to: Autocar

Minggu, 27 November 2011

New Car: 2012 Great Wall Wingle CL

Greatwall’s heart is in the truck and SUV business, however in recent years they have successfully broken into the all important small car business to satisfy a strong demand for small cars inside and outside of China. Great Wall has made lots of noise about being in certain Western level markets such as South Africa and Australia before a planned entry into mature markets such as the US. Now to enter the US you need a vehicle that people can look up to and think ‘That’s hell of a truck for the money’, hence Great Wall’s development of the Wingle CL. The CL measures in at (LxWxH) 5550 x 1885 x 1845mm which makes it full size in China, but mid size in the North American market where they like their trucks large, although the truck looks the business the disappointment comes from under the engine where a 2.0L turbo diesel engine is found. The oil burning turbo lump is good for 324Nm of torque and 160Kw of power, a regular diesel lump is good for 110kw and 310Nm of torque. The good news is that the CL comes with an automatic gearbox – a first for a Chinese pick up truck.
Thanks to: China Car Times

New Car: 2012 Lexus IS-F Circuit Club Sport

Toyota’s race tuning division, TRD, has produced a motorsport-inspired version of the Lexus IS-F.

The Lexus IS-F Circuit Club Sport was first shown off as a concept at the Tokyo Auto Salon in 2010, and the finished article is tipped to appear at next week’s motor show in the Japanese capital city.

The IS-F Circuit Club Sport features carbonfibre in place of many of the regular IS-F’s steel panels, on the bonnet, roof, boot, front wings, side skirts and rear diffuser.

The interior has also received a carbonfibre makeover from TRD (Toyota Racing Development), although it hasn’t been revealed how much weight has been saved overall.

TRD hasn’t made many tweaks under the bonnet, with the only major change being the addition of a new lightweight exhaust system, which boosts the V8’s power to 422bhp.

Adjustable competition-spec dampers have been fitted, as well as forged aluminium wheels, larger brakes and a TRD limited-slip differential.

Price and availability of the limited-edition machine has yet to be revealed.

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: Mercedes to Close Maybach

High ranking Mercedes-Benz sources have confirmed to Autocar that the under-performing Maybach brand will officially be killed off in 2013.

The decision to disband Mercedes-Benz’s upper luxury marque comes after lacklustre sales of the company’s existing 57 and 62 limousines and a recent decision from chairman Dieter Zetsche not to push ahead with the development of replacement models – the likes of which were tentatively due out in 2014 – owing to what one insider describes as a "positive move to focus greater attention on the Mercedes-Benz brand."

"We’ve come to the conclusion that it is better to cut our losses with Maybach than to continue into an uncertain future with a brand that has failed to live up to original sales expectations," said the insider. "Plans are already in place to fill the void left by the axing of the Maybach 57 and 62 with the next-generation S-class, which will be offered in three wheelbase variations, including a top-of-the-range S600 Pullman."

Moves to push Mercedes-Benz further upmarket into the segment follows an internal marketing study which came to the conclusion that it has more potential to succeed in the upper luxury segment against competition from the likes of Bentley and Rolls-Royce than Maybach, which despite being revered at home in Germany failed to gain traction in key world markets.

Despite the plan to dump Maybach, both the existing 57 and 62 will be produced through to early 2013, at which point the fifth-generation S-class is due to be introduced.

The Maybach brand was resurrected by Mercedes-Benz in 2002 following its failure to purchase Rolls-Royce and Bentley from then owner Vickers after being outbid by Volkswagen, which then ceded control of Rolls-Royce to BMW.

The original Maybach models, the 57 and 62, were named after their respective lengths of 5735mm and 6170mm. Both were based around stretched underpinnings of the already superceded third-generation S-class, first introduced in 1991.

A recent proposal to involve Aston Martin in the development of future Maybach models was abandoned in early 2011.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2012 MG 3 Xross

These pictures show the MG 3 Xross, a new crossover version of MG’s hatchback that was unveiled at the Guangzhou auto show in China this week.

The front-wheel drive MG3 Xross on display at the show featured a 1.5-litre, 16-valve VTi engine that can come mated to a five-speed manual or automatic gearbox.

Although the regular version of the MG3 – which Autocar sampled in pre-production form earlier this year – is available in China with a 1.3-litre powerplant, it seems it will not be offered in the Xross.

The engine produces 107bhp at 6000rpm and 99lb ft at 4500rpm. The manual car has a top speed of 113mph and returns a claimed 43mpg, while the auto version can hit 111mph and offers 42mpg.

The five-seat Xross is 4079mm long, 1739mm wide and 1528mm high, which makes it 80mm longer than a regular MG3, 11mm wider and 11mm higher. Both versions share a 2520mm wheelbase.

The new crossover version has roof rails, plus bolder front-end styling than the base car, with black plastic side mouldings running the length of the body, wheel rims and bumpers.

Bootspace is 256 litres with the rear seats up, and 938 litres with the seat down. The show car rides on 16-inch wheels.

There’s no word on European availability, but the standard MG 3 isn’t expected to arrive here until 2012.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2013 Toyota GT 86

The long, torturous wait is almost over. The Toyota/Subaru joint rear-drive sport coupe is finally becoming a reality after years of teasing and tantalizing development that has seen three separately badged concept and near-production cars — the FT-86, Scion FR-S, and Subaru BRZ — revealed, driven and otherwise paraded around in one form or another over the past six months. Now, we have yet another moniker, the GT 86, which is what the car will officially be called in Europe.

Toyota says the name GT 86 is a nod to the brand’s GT days in Europe when the Corolla GT (or Levin) AE86, was winning British Touring Car championships and rally events in the 1980s. The GT 86 is taking the stage at next week’s 2011 Tokyo auto show, roughly two years after the first concept took the stage at the 2009 Tokyo show. At this point it’s unclear if the FT-86 name will be used at all, we’ll know more shortly.

In European-spec trim, the GT 86 outputs 197 horsepower at 7000 rpm, and 205 Nm (151 lb-ft) at 6,600 rpm from Subaru’s updated 2.0-liter Boxer four with a12.5:1 compression ratio and Toyota’s D-4S injection technology added on to help better deliver power across the rev range.

The engine will be mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic with paddle shifters and a limited-slip differential will help put the power down to the rear wheels. So far we don’t have any official performance estimates, but the car is rumored to be able to hit 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Jumat, 25 November 2011

New Car: 2012 Guangzhou GS5

As the Guangzhou Auto Show is in Guangzhou Auto’s own backyard, GAC were eager to make the most of the show especially as state owned automotive rivals such as SAIC’s MG and Roewe and also BAIC’s Saab based cars avoided the show. GAC had the full floor to launch the GS5 which quickly became the star of the show, the GS5 is certainly a looker and does not carry the awkward lines of other Chinese SUV’s. Under the hood a 1.8L and 2.0L engine have been sourced from the older Alfa Romeo 159 which should make for some spirited driving and the platform also has some Alfa DNA in it as well. Pricing has not yet been announced, but pricing from 120,000rmb and rising is more than likely for such an SUV. The SUV maybe nice, but the Trumpchi name still sounds rather odd. Does anybody at GAC know what Trump actually means?
Thanks to: China Car Times

Spied: 2015 BMW 4-Series Cabriolet

These first spy pictures of the new BMW 4-series cabriolet in testing reveal that the retractable hard-top roof of the current 3-series cabrio will be retained.

There had been pressure from the US importer for the 4-series cabriolet to switch to a soft-top for greater visual differentiation over the coupe model, but BMW has instead decided to stick with the current hard-top.

Like its coupe sibling, the new 4-series cabriolet, codenamed F33 and due on sale in mid-2014, will ditch the 3-series badge to allow more distinct styling and more exclusive feel over the staple 3-series saloon and estate models.

There’s also likely to be a price hike, too, with engines coming from the higher-end of the new 3-series’ range and an increased level of equipment being offered.

There will also be an M version of the 4-series cabriolet, codenamed F33M. Like the 4-series coupe, this is likely to be badged M4 to create further distance between the M3 saloon and the M4 coupe and cabriolets. The adoption of the M4 badge for the coupe and cabriolet will also allow BMW to get the new M3 saloon to market earlier, with the two-doors not due until late 2014 at the earliest, at least a year after the M3.

Thanks to: Autocar

Spied: 2013 Jaguar XF Sportbrake

Jaguar’s upcoming estate version of the XF (dubbed Jaguar XF Sportbrake) has been scooped in testing for the first time ahead of its 2012 launch. The load-lugging XF will carry the Sportbrake name for production and is set to be revealed at the Geneva motor show in March.

These spy pictures, taken outside Jaguar’s Whitley engineering centre, reveal a gently sloping roofline, sharply raked tailgate and subtle rear spoiler for the Sportbrake to help maintain the sporty profile of the XF saloon. The Sportbrake also looks to be the same length as the 4961mm-long saloon, as the rear overhang has not been increased.

Jaguar engineers are understood to have provided the XF Sportbrake with a load capacity similar to that of the Audi A6 Avant and BMW 5-series Touring, which have figures of 565-litres and 560-litres respectively. The desire to provide the Sportbrake with a sporty profile means it won’t be able to match the class-leading Mercedes E-class estate’s load capacity figure of 695-litres.

The XF Sportbrake is identical to its saloon sibling from the B-pillars forwards. The heavy disguise over the rear lights indicate that Jaguar may be tempted to offer a different styling direction for the XF Sportbrake to give it greater visual distinction over the saloon. Some sources have suggested it may even borrow the rear light design and blacked-out rear pillar treatment from the XJ to bridge the gap between the XF and XJ saloons.

The engine range of the XF Sportbrake is likely to mirror the saloon’s, with the exception of the supercharged 5.0-litre V8 from the XFR. That means 2.2-litre four-cylinder and 3.0-litre V6 diesels will be offered alongside the normally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 petrol.

The XF Sportbrake is only the second estate in Jaguar’s history, after the X-Type wagon. The model was not part of the original XF’s product plan, as the word ‘estate’ was off-limits at Jaguar after the X-Type. But the popularity of premium estate cars in Europe, in particular the UK, has convinced bosses that an estate version of the XF is a necessity.

Another imminent development to the XF range is the addition of all-wheel-drive. Jaguar boss Adrian Hallmark said all-wheel drive XFs, along with all-wheel drive XJs, were “critical”, in particular to the company’s growth in the US market.

“In the snowbelt of America it accounts for 70 per cent of sales, and overall it accounts for 30 per cent of sales, so we are working on it and in the final stages of a decision. It is core to our future offering,” he said.

Thanks to: Autocar

Rabu, 23 November 2011

New Car: 2012 Chang'an Eado

Chinese manufacturers have made a big song and dance about entering the price points that joint venture manufacturers traditionally occupy in the 100,000rmb and rising segment. Traditionally cars priced less than 100,000rmb was the realm of the Chinese, 100,000 and up was foreign territory, territorial lines became blurred over the past 24 months when companies such as Geely, Chery and BYD launched their own mid to high end brands with vastly improved vehicles. Chang’an have arrived late to this party, but if you come late to a party then you have to bring something good with you, in this case Chang’an has not let us down with the Eado. The Eado has had its first airing in China but this is the second time that it has been shown, it was of course shown at the Frankfurt Auto Show earlier.

The Eado was benchmarked against the Hyundai Elantra, one of China’s best selling cars, on the inside Buick type quality was set as a benchmark for the Eado. Western sales are unlikely to begin soon, but Chinese sales are going to begin later this year or in early 2012. Power trains are a real mix, 1.6L, 1.8L and 2.0L, transmissions are the same – 4sp auto, 5sp manual, 6sp auto and 6sp manual, it almost seems that Chang’an are quite desperate to sell this vehicle and make a success out of it, although you cannot blame them as their previous sedan models such as the Zhi Xiang came and went within the blink of an eye.

When it hits the market the Eado will likely be priced high, we can guess that prices will be in the 110,000rmb at the low end although even this seems too low for a car of this quality. The Eado really is a benchmark for which the rest of the Chinese manufacturers can place themselves on in terms of materials and design. It seems Chang’an will be going places.

Thanks to: China Car Times

New Car: 2012 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack

Audi’s third-generation A6 Allroad Quattro has yet to make its public launch, but its cousin – the new Volkswagen Passat Alltrack – will make its official debut at next week’s 2011 Tokyo auto show.

Based off the new Passat wagon, the Passat Alltrack employs much of the same formula Audi established with its Allroad series. All-wheel-drive? Check. Raised stance? Check. Macho dress-up kit? Check.

Though it does without the adaptive air suspension deployed on the A6 Allroad, the Passat’s ride height has been raised. As a result, ground clearance is increased from 5.3 inches to 6.5 inches, while approach and departure angles have increased to 13.6 and 12.8 degrees, respectively.

VW says the stainless-look front and rear skidplates serve as protective armor for underpinnings, but they – along with flared rocker sills trimmed in a similar finish – will likely serve as little more than cosmetic flair. Other exterior revisions, including flared wheel arches, large “snowflake” wheels, pronounced roof rails, and chunky lower bumper trim, attempt to lend the Alltrack wagon more visual heft.

Predictably, the Alltrack employs Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. In most situations, 90 percent of the engine’s power is sent to the front wheels, but a Haldex clutch pack can send all of that power to the rear axle. A new off-road mode not only triggers a brake-based hill descent control, but modifies the ABS programming for off-road use and adjusts the threshold of the electronic differential locks.

Whether owners will actively use the car off-road remains to be seen. Less uncertain are the Alltrack’s chances of heading stateside. Seeing as we only get the U.S.-produced Passat sedan here in North America, it seems unlikely that the Alltrack will reach our shores.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Selasa, 22 November 2011

New Car: 2012 Chery QQ

The QQ maybe a common car in China, but its outing at the 2011 Guangzhou Auto Show was a rare event indeed, you see Chery never shows the QQ at major events. We’re not sure why Chery don’t like to show the QQ, perhaps due the QQ’s murky past as one of the first Chinese cloned cars where the QQ had a striking resemblance to the then Daewoo Matiz/Chevrolet Spark. However, for 2012 the QQ has had a slight makeover ahead of a new generation coming in 2013/14, which will leave the below car to soldier on for a few more years. The exterior has received a black ‘Triumph style‘ safety bumper around the front end but the rear end seems largely the same. The interior has had a workover and seems a lot less rough than before.

Engines for the new QQ will be the same as the old QQ, so a basic 800cc rising to a range topping 1.3L with a 1.0L in the middle.

Even though the QQ is now nearly a decade old, we think it will still continue to be Chery’s bread and butter car.

Thanks to: China Car Times

New Car: 2012 Hyundai i10 Blue Drive LPG

Hyundai has launched an LPG variant of its i10 hatchback, called the i10 Blue Drive.

This model comes with a factory-fitted LPG kit that has a 34-litre LPG tank while the conventional petrol tank has a 35-litre capacity. According to Hyundai, the LPG-kit is ARAI certified and is impact resistant as well. It is also certified by DOE (Department of Explosives). The LPG-kit is also backed by a two year warranty.

The i10 Blue Drive is priced at Rs 4.2 lakh for the Era while the Magna LPG variant is priced at Rs 4.31 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).

Thanks to: Autocar India

Hot News: Lexus to Releas Small Hybrid for GS

Lexus is developing a small hybrid engine to allow its new GS luxury car to compete with more economical European rivals.

Speaking to Auto Express, Koji Sato, deputy chief engineer, product planning said: "We are working on a number of solutions to offer low CO2 emissions and these include a small hybrid."

The new GS launches in the UK in the summer but the only models will be a range-topping GS450h with a 338bhp 3.5-litre V6 hybrid and an entry-level GS250 with a 206bhp 2.5-litre V6.

A small economical and low-emissions hybrid would allow the new GS to compete against big-selling models like the BMW 520d and Audi A6 2.0 TDI, as Lexus has no plans for a diesel version. "Lexus has a strong association with hybrid and we want to continue to develop this," Sato added.

Although there are no details on the new powerplant, it is likely to sit at the entry point to the range and is likely to be a four-cylinder petrol engine mated to an electric motor. Combined power output should be around 180bhp.

Sato said the engine would have to boast fuel economy and CO2 emissions on a par with the BMW 520d, so expect the model to emit around 120g/km of CO2 and return around 50mpg.

With considerable gains in fuel economy and significant savings in tax thanks to low emissions, the new model could open the door to huge sales in the UK and Europe, allowing the firm to attract more company car drivers.

A decision is 'imminent' said Sato on the exact specification of the new hybrid engine, with an announcement expected ahead of the launch of the GS in the UK next summer.

In related news, Sato also said there is a strong desire within Lexus to produce a high performance BMW M5-rivalling GS F model, following in the footsteps of the IS F. "The GS has an all-new chassis with wider tracks, double wishbones at the front and a mulit-link rear set-up. It would make a very good base for a performance car," he added, although admitted that there are no official plans for one just yet. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Hot News: Infiniti Plans to Show Eco Roadster at Geneva Show 2012

Luxury brand Infiniti is dipping a toe into the water of the sports car class with a new zero-emission, mid-engined roadster.

The car is set to debut at March’s Geneva Motor Show, and could take styling cues from the Essence concept that was seen at Geneva in 2009. It’s expected to be the size of a Porsche Boxster and feature EV range-extending technology.

Batteries will power electric motors, while the engine will be used only to top them up. If the public reaction is good, Infiniti may hunt for a technical partner for the project. Likely candidates include Red Bull Racing and Mercedes.

Infiniti will be using Mercedes’ 2.1-litre diesels in its M executive car in 2013, while the BMW 3 Series-rivalling G will launch with the same engines later that year.

Also, an Audi A3-sized coupe/crossover, based on the Etherea concept from this year’s Geneva show, should arrive in 2014, sitting on the new Mercedes A and B-Class platform. This could be the brand’s first European-built car, too. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2012 Tata Nano

The diminutive Tata Nano may has received a slate of minor changes for the 2012 model year, but Tata Motors has promised one thing won’t change: the price.

The world’s cheapest automobile is back for this year with some tweaks that should provide more value for the rupee. For starters, the 624cc two-cylinder engine has been updated to deliver more power and run more efficiently. It now produces 37 horsepower and 38 lb-ft of torque, an increase of roughly 3 hp and 3 lb-ft, respectively. Tata says the new Nano also gets 58.8 mpg, 3.3 more than before.

The Nano keeps its super-small-car street cred, however. At just 122 inches long, the Nano is 17.6 inches shorter than a Fiat 500. It does lose to the Fiat in top speed, however: the Nano reaches its limits at 65.24 mph, while the U.S.-spec Fiat’s 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine propels it to a maximum speed of 113 mph.

The Nano is available in a basic Standard model, a mid-level CX model, and a premium LX level. For 2012, all models now receive booster-assisted brakes as standard, the suspension setup has been adjusted and given a new front anti-roll bar, and Tata says a “racier sounding exhaust note” gives the car “a more assertive road presence,” if that’s possible. There are eight new colors, ranging from Mojito Green to Neon Rush, and the upper two trim levels now have a passenger-side mirror included as standard equipment.

Prices are unchanged from last year, so standard models will start at the equivalent of $2683, while the mid-level CX model (which adds half-wheel covers, better colors, and available a/c) costs $3257. Feeling spendy? Splurge for the LX model, which comes with premium beige fabric seats, central locking, front power windows, and a rear spoiler. That will run you a cool $3756. To put that in context, the price for that entire car is about equal to the optional Designo Matte Silver paint offered on a Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG.

The refreshed Nano is already available for sale at Tata dealers.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet

The first volleys of what will soon become a crushing salvo have landed. Following the introduction of the 2012 911 at the Frankfurt auto show, Porsche is starting the rollout of the full 991 family with the Carrera and Carrera S Cabriolets.

Aside from the retractable fabric top, the cabriolet differs little from the 911 coupe. When raised, the softtop even mimics the hardtop’s roofline better than past 911 cabrios. To cut down on wind noise and help the cloth top maintain its shape, Porsche fitted a hard composite panel between the layers of cloth above the front seats. The new softtop may be somewhat sleeker, but the outgoing car’s bustle butt remains—there’s only so much room behind the passengers for the 911’s engine and a lowered roof.

Mechanically, the Carrera and Carrera S cabriolets are identical to their roofed counterparts. That means the Carrera gets a 350-hp, 3.4-liter flat-six and the S a 400-hp 3.8-liter. In both cars, a seven-speed manual transmission is standard and Porsche’s seven-speed, dual-clutch PDK unit is optional. Porsche claims the Carrera cabrio can hit 60 mph in 4.4 seconds on its way to a top speed of 177 mph, while the S drops that time to 4.1 seconds and can reach 187 mph. Both cars’ stated performance figures are just a hair or two off of those of the coupe, and we predict they’re somewhat conservative based on our first drive in a 2012 Carrera S coupe. When Porsche launched the coupe, it made a big deal about the car’s enhanced fuel efficiency. It did the same for the cabriolet, but official EPA numbers aren’t yet available; figure on 19 to 20 mpg in the city and close to 30 on the highway, the latter figure abetted by the newly available seven-speed manual transmission.

The topless 911 Carrera will start at $94,650 and the S at $108,950, increases of $3600 and $5000 over last year’s models. Furthermore, both base prices are $11,600 more than an equivalent hardtop’s. At least cabriolet fans won’t have to wait too much longer than coupe buyers to get their hands on the new car—it will hit dealerships in the spring, not long after the hardtop goes on sale in February. A plethora of 911 variants is sure to follow: Turbo, Turbo S, all-wheel-drive Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S, harder-core GT models, you name it. Brace yourself.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Sabtu, 19 November 2011

LA Show 2011 Highlights: 2013 Lincoln MKT

Just like the Ford Flex with which it shares its platform, Lincoln’s big MKT is receiving a mid-cycle refresh for 2013. The three-row crossover gets a restyled grille that’s less mouthy than before, a power bump for its base V-6, and a host of new luxury and technology content. As if to emphasize the MKT’s newfound style, Lincoln is debuting it—along with the refreshed 2013 MKS sedan—at the 2011 L.A. auto show.

The 2013 MKT’s biggest stylistic departure is its tweaked split-waterfall grille that now features thinner, more-elegant slats than before. The move is both expected—recent spy photos revealed the slimmer slats—and welcome. The previous MKT’s slats bore an uncanny resemblance to teeth, which, combined with the shape of the grille openings, gave the MKT the countenance of a certain Pinocchio-swallowing sea mammal. The new grille doesn’t cascade quite as far down the front bumper and lacks any horizontal elements, noticeably reducing the visual height of the front end and giving the MKT a wider and lower look. Other than a more prominent crease down the middle of the hood and new wheel designs, the rest of the MKT’s exterior styling carries over unchanged.

In addition to the 2013 MKT’s styling tweaks, there are a few notable mechanical updates. Lincoln had already pared the MKT lineup to two trim levels for 2012—a base front-driver powered by the 3.7-liter V-6 and an uplevel all-wheel-drive version powered by the 355-hp, EcoBoost V-6—and this scheme carries over to the 2013 car. However, the 3.7 now pumps out 300 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque, increases of 32 hp and 8 lb-ft over last year’s figures. City fuel economy remains at 17 mpg, while the highway figure rises by 1 mpg to 25. The twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 goes unchanged, which is fine by us: a 2010 MKT with the burly mill was able to rocket to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds in our testing. Fuel economy for the EcoBoosted all-wheel drive MKT is the same as last year: 16 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway.

We never had any qualms with the MKT’s ride, which was already fairly buttoned down for such a cushy and smooth setup, but Lincoln took things a step further for 2013. EcoBoost-equipped MKTs now have a standard adaptive suspension along with Lincoln Drive Control, which is Lincoln’s fancy name for selectable suspension and drive modes. Drivers can select Normal, Sport, or Comfort drive settings. The first two are selected not by a button on the console but by moving the shift lever into either Drive or Sport. In a somewhat convoluted manner, Comfort is selected via the Settings menu in the MKT’s updated MyLincoln Touch interface. Among the three drive modes, Normal is the baseline setting. Sport mode calls up firmer damping, quicker throttle response, a more-aggressive shift map, and higher steering effort from the electric power steering. Comfort does the opposite, injecting some lethargy into the MKT experience by softening the dampers and reducing steering effort.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

LA Show 2011 Highlights: 2013 Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 Spyder

Lamborghini is adding another two-wheel drive Lamborghini Gallardo into its range, two years after the Valentino Balboni edition first introduced the idea.

The Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 Spyder uses much the same technology as the Balboni — dispensing with drive to the front wheels to make the Gallardo into a rear-driven mid-engine supercar — but matches it to an open-top bodystyle.

“This is a purists model that adds another dimension of driving fun,” says Stephan Winkelmann, Lamborghini’s president, “this will appeal in particular to a very special group of customers that enjoy a spirited driving style and also like to experience the sheer pleasure of open-air driving."

Power comes from Lambo’s 542bhp V10 driving the rear-wheels through a choice of six-speed transmissions – a conventional manual or an e-gear, robotised manual version.

Acceleration from 0-62mph is 4.9secs and the top speed is 198mph, according to the company. The new model will carry a £158,797.60 price tag.

Autocar can confirm that orders placed now for the Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 Spyder will result in first customer deliveries in spring 2012.

Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 Yellow Jacket

These Dodge special editions - revealed at the Los Angeles motor show - have been created to celebrate the company’s Street and Racing Technology (SRT) division.

The Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee and Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 Yellow Jacket have received cosmetic changes from the standard cars on which they’re based.

That means they are both powered by 6.4-litre V8 Hemi engines producing 464bhp and 470lb ft of torque.

The Challenger also has 20-inch alloys, an assortment of exterior logos and graphics and interior modifications including silver stitching and yellow graphics.

Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee

These Dodge special editions - revealed at the Los Angeles motor show - have been created to celebrate the company’s Street and Racing Technology (SRT) division.

The Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee and Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 Yellow Jacket have received cosmetic changes from the standard cars on which they’re based.

That means they are both powered by 6.4-litre V8 Hemi engines producing 464bhp and 470lb ft of torque.

The Charger is available in three colours and with a series of special edition stripes and graphics on the bonnet and boot, plus unique 20-inch alloys. Inside, there’s a three-spoke steering wheel, embroidered logos and silver stitching on the seats.

Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2011 Highlights: 2013 Lincoln MKS

Call them revisions or call them fixes; either way, Lincoln has done a good amount of something to the 2013 MKS. This is not a remake, but instead a heavy refresh like those applied to several Ford and Lincoln products of late. (See 2011 Ford Edge/Lincoln MKZ and 2011 Ford Mustang.)

The hard part for the team making over the MKS had to be dealing with just that: hard points. In this platform’s evolution from Volvo S80 to Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego to current Taurus and MKS, it has underpinned a lot of big sedans and crossovers, few of them stylistic successes and none of them knockouts. It’s almost as if the MKS is only now exiting puberty—although its bones still don’t quite match its role in life. And so the awkwardly tight rear compartment, tallish cabin, and high beltline remain. With a structure like that, engineers and designers can do only so much.

And oh, that styling. We’ll let you form your own opinion, saying only that we think it’s better than it was. Everything forward of the A-pillars has been re-skinned. The new grille and hood lessen the buck-toothed look with wider upper intakes—filled with finer chrome slats that before—and smaller headlights. The hood now reaches deeper between the grilles and houses a smaller Lincoln badge. A new decklid, which is supposed to improve the car’s compromised trunk access, is flanked by Jaguar XJ–esque taillights. The 2013 MKS gets new 19- and 20-inch wheel designs. Again, they’re better, but we wouldn’t exactly call them pretty.

Inside, the biggest news is the installation of the latest MyLincoln Touch system, which places a pair of screens in the gauge cluster, a corresponding pair of directional pads with which to control them on the steering wheel, and a large touch screen in the dash. As in other MyLincolnTouch applications, knobs and buttons are replaced on the center stack by touch-sensitive nubs and sliders.

Optional multi-contour front seats use a host of air bladders to adjust to and massage the bodies in them, and a heated steering wheel is now optional. New interior wood choices (Prussian Burl and Brown Swirl Walnut) as well as new Bridge of Weir leather hues (Hazelnut and Light Dune) all sound like different ways to say brown.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

LA Show 2011 Highlights: 2013 Infiniti IPL G Convertible

The Infiniti Performance Line was launched late last year with but a single model, a sharpened and slightly more powerful version of the G37 coupe called the IPL G coupe. In August, Infiniti showed us what an IPL G convertible would look like and announced—to no one’s surprise—that the convertible also would make it to dealers. Now Infiniti has debuted the production IPL G for extroverts at the 2011 Los Angeles auto show.

Like the IPL G coupe, the 2013 IPL G convertible adds a pinch of this and a dash of that to deliver what Infiniti calls “total vehicle performance” when compared with the standard G37 convertible. (This implies, of course, that the regular G models deliver incomplete vehicle performance.) As with its fixed-roof counterpart, the IPL G convertible gets a new nose, rocker-panel extensions, obscenely fat exhaust tips, and gorgeous, lacy 19-inch wheels. It is available in only two hues: Malbec Black (a deep wine color) and Moonlight White.

The interior is likewise limited to two colors—Stone and Monaco Red—and features red-stitched leather upholstery, “Silk Obi” aluminum trim, aluminum-capped pedals, and IPL-embroidered seatbacks and front floor mats.

IPL’s efforts to recalibrate the G’s VQ-series 3.7-liter V-6 and fitment of a true dual exhaust system yield the same boost in output as found with the IPL G coupe, adding 18 hp and 6 lb-ft of torque. In the convertible, this brings total output to 343 hp (at a lofty 7400 rpm) and 273 lb-ft of torque. Sadly, the coupe’s six-speed manual and its short-throw shifter are not available in the convertible; the only transmission offered is Infiniti’s seven-speed automatic, which comes with magnesium shift paddles affixed to the steering column.
Thanks to: Car and Driver

LA Show 2011 Highlights: 2013 Honda Fit EV

Introduced at the Los Angeles auto show, the Honda Fit EV joins the Scion iQ, Fiat 500, and Chevy Spark in the tiny-cars-that-have-been-converted-to-run-on-batteries brigade. But the Fit EV's rollout, set to begin next summer, will be small and contained: Honda expects to produce and distribute only about 1100 of the cars over the next three years, first in California and Oregon, and then in six to-be-announced East Coast markets.

The production model shown at the Los Angeles auto show is, as expected, very similar to the concept that debuted one year ago at the same show. Contrary to our predictions, the glowing charge port remains, as do EV-specific decals, although the latter's size and garishness have been reduced. The aerodynamic rear spoiler and unique rocker panels remain as well, while the front fascia has been modified slightly to incorporate a chrome smiley face and less-obvious cooling apertures. The car will be offered only in the color seen here: Reflection Blue Pearl.

The Fit EV is powered by a 123-hp electric motor that's based on the one in Honda's FCX Clarity fuel-cell electric sedan, and is fed juice by a 20-kWh lithium-ion battery. Honda claims the onboard 6.6-kW, 32-amp charger can top off the pack in less than three hours on 240-volt power. That's slightly better than the claimed time for Ford's Focus Electric, which should need a little longer to charge its slightly higher-capacity battery. (Both should beat the Nissan Leaf's charge times.) Honda projects a 123-mile city range and a combined-driving total of 76 miles on a full charge.

Like Honda's hybrids, the Fit EV will have three driving modes—Normal, Sport, and Econ—that govern the behavior of the accelerator pedal and other systems. A full telematics suite (not unlike the one Nissan packages with the Leaf) will allow monitoring of the vehicle's state of charge, charge scheduling, and climate-control pre-conditioning via smartphone or computer. Honda also will include a remote control that can display charge and climate-control status, initiate and terminate charging, and switch on the A/C. It only works within a 100-foot range of the vehicle, though, so its usefulness will mostly be limited to saving the driver trips out to the garage when the car is parked at home.

While most changes to the interior are minimal-bio-fabrics used on the seats, colored gauge illumination to match the driving mode-stuffing the batteries under the floor necessitated a couple of big changes. The Fit's trick flat-folding rear seat is gone; now the back cushion folds, but the bottom is fixed. And the floor is two to three inches higher in the EV than in conventional Fits, which raises the H-point—how high off the ground the driver's hips are—and reduces headroom. Luckily, the Fit is well-endowed in that measure.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

LA Show 2011 Highlights: 2013 Honda CR-V

This is the new Honda CR-V, which has made its debut at the Los Angeles Motor Show. It is a rival for the Ford Kuga, which was also revealed at the US show.

It's set to go on sale in the UK in Autumn 2012, and has been updated with a mildly facelifted body. Despite being a bit shorter and lower than the car it replaces, Honda says there is actually more space inside, as the windscreen has been moved forward and the floor lowered.

As well as being more practical, the CR-V has also moved upmarket, with a redesigned dashboard that features better quality materials.

Honda has stripped some weight from the CR-V, and along with improved aerodynamics, electric power steering and taller gearing, the car is expected to be slightly more economical and have lower emissions. For the UK, engines will be carried over from the current model with a 2.0-litre i-VTEC petrol and 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel, with the latter returning around 45mpg. There are currently no plans for a hybrid version.

Variable four-wheel drive is carried over from the current car. This is capable of sending up to 100 per cent of power to the front or rear wheels, depending on which have the most grip.

Gadgets include Bluetooth, a rear parking camera, USB connectivity and a system that allows the driver to text from Blackberry phone.

Honda says a version 'developed and designed specifically for the European market' will arrive later next year. Expect Honda to tweak steering and suspension settings, while the new CR-V will also be built at Honda's Swindon plant.

The US market is crucial for the CR-V, where Honda aims to sell around 200,000 models every year, making. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

New Concept Car: Volkswagen eT

Is Volkswagen getting closer to launching a new Microbus van inspired by the 1950s original? This electric-powered concept, called Volkswagen eT, could hint at a Microbus-inspired shape for the next-generation of VW’s Transporter commercial van.

The significant styling change is a shorter nose that gets closer to the original Type 2 van, now a classic design. VW has had several previous attempts at engineering a new Type 2 — a concept in 2001 and the Volkswagen Bulli in 2011.

The Bulli is rumoured for production as a Polo-based five-seat minivan. Currently the Transporter is in its fifth-generation, T5 version. A new T6 van is pencilled in to the product plan for 2014/15.

The innovative Volkswagen eT shown here, features new design ideas to ‘simplify’ the working day, including a ‘follow me’ function.

Designed by the same team who created Frankfurt's NILS concept, the VW eT is powered by electric wheel hub motors. The Volkswagen eT’s innovative ‘follow me’ function allows the van to follow the delivery person from house to house. Alternatively, the ‘come to me’ function recalls the van on command. As a third option, the driver can also direct the car from the passenger seat via a ‘drive stick.’

The eT also features a wide, electrically opening sliding door that opens to two different stages. VW says the door offers quick access inside and makes ‘unnecessary walking movements around the vehicle a thing of the past.’

VW’s commercial vehicles spokesman Dr. Wolfgang Schreiber added that the eT showcases “what is the maximum feasible technology for electric vehicles in the commercial market today with a special design that systematically addresses future customer needs.”

No further details have been revealed, but VW has hinted at a production version for the latter half of the decade.

Thanks to: Autocar

Sneak Peek: Infiniti EV Sport Concept

Infiniti has hinted at the styling of the new electric sports car it is developing in two ‘teaser’ pictures.

The manufacturer is planning to show off its new creation – first announced in September – at the Geneva motor show in March 2012.

The car is part of Infiniti’s plan to extend its range of hybrids and explore high performance, low emission electric cars.

Infiniti spokesman Andy Palmer said: “At the Geneva show next year, we will present our vision for a totally new kind of inspired premium performance car. Infiniti already has hybrid and clean diesel models on sale. And with an all-electric saloon on the way, the natural next step was to push the boundaries where performance and the environment intersect.”

Infiniti could use the same technology that is currently being used in the Nissan Leaf, more notably the one-off racing version, the Leaf Nismo RC.

The RC features a low roofline, a carbonfibre tub and a mid-engined, rear-drive design while housing a completely standard Leaf powertrain, including its batteries.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2013 Audi A1 Sportback

Audi has unveiled the promised five-door version of its A1 supermini, and plans to have it in UK showrooms early in 2012. Called Audi A1 Sportback, the five-door is identical in size and style to the three-door, but designers have found an extra 6mm in both height and width, which they say improves rear-seat room, one of the few major points of criticism in the three-door.

The Audi A1 was an instant success when launched late last year, exceeding a planned annual sales rate of around 18,000 cars. The company believes volume should increase further with the launch of the Audi A1 Sportback, which should eventually account for about 70 per cent of total sales.

At launch, the Sportback will be offered with the same four-level engine with which the three-door began life: three petrol engines (ranging from a normally aspirated 1.2-litre with 84bhp to a turbocharged and supercharged 1.6-litre with 184bhp that comes as standard with a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox). The diesel is Audi’s economy showpiece, a 1.6-litre four producing 103bhp that emits just 99g/km of CO2.

Next summer the A1 Sportback will get the 141bhp, 184lb ft 2.0-litre “performance” diesel recently introduced to the three-door range. Its 0-62 time acceleration is 8.5 seconds, yet its combined cycle economy is an impressive 68.9mpg.

The A1’s kerb weight of 1065 kilograms is a relatively modest 25 kilograms ahead of the three-door figure. The entry-level Sportback 1.2 SE five-door costs £13,980, a premium of £560 more than the corresponding three-door. Audi dealers are taking orders now for delivery next spring.

Thanks to: Autocar

Jumat, 18 November 2011

LA Show 2011 Highlights: 2013 Ford Mustang

A new volume knob on the radio represents big news to Mustang loyalists, and so we are preparing for a virtual meltdown in the online Mustang community. Ford is debuting the 2013 model at the Los Angeles auto show this week before the car hits dealerships in early 2012, and it has undergone some significant changes.

Most important for aesthetes, the Mustang gets a nose job. There's a more-prominent grille, an aggressive front splitter, new headlights with outboard LED light pipes, and a new hood with functional heat extractors. The rocker panels are now body color, and out back, the signature sequential taillamps also are ringed in LED light "ropes," with the lenses themselves tinted. A gloss-black panel spans the width of the rear and encircles both taillights. Also look for new wheel designs in 17-, 18-, and 19-inch sizes, including mean-looking gloss-black 19s only available on the GT. Two new paint colors join the lineup for 2013: Deep Impact Blue and Gotta Have It Green, and those with the itch for kitsch will be thrilled with the inclusion of "pony projection lights" that cast the Mustang logo on the ground below the mirrors when the doors are unlocked.

nside, the Recaro front seats currently found inside the GT500 and the Boss 302 are available on the rest of the lineup, too, with either cloth or leather upholstery. Thankfully-and unlike most recently refreshed Ford products-the Mustang does not adopt Ford's maligned MyFord Touch controls. Its infotainment system does incorporate a version of Ford's Sync system, however, which is operated via steering-wheel controls and spoken commands. Two new sound-system upgrades also are available for 2013.

Even bigger news is the addition of a new Track Apps option for versions of the V-6, GT, and Boss 302 that are equipped with the Premium package. Like the Performance pages offered on Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep SRT8s but with richer presentation, Track Apps shows various performance data on a digital display tucked in the IP. Specific screens present acceleration times, lateral-acceleration information, and braking performance.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

LA Show 2011 Highlights: 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302

Set your time machine to 1970. Mirroring the differences between the 1969 and 1970 originals, the changes Ford makes to the 2013 Mustang Boss 302 will be mostly cosmetic. We’re okay with that, since we called both the original and its 2012 redux the best-handling Mustangs Ford had produced yet.

Differentiating between the 2013 and 2012 will be just like separating the 1970 Boss from the 1969. The first-year cars wear C-shaped side striping and large black-out hood panels, while the 1970 and 2013 have “hockey stick” side markings and a center stripe on the hood. Like those on the original Boss, the 2013’s decals will be reflective.

Along with the rest of the Mustang lineup, the Boss gets revised front and rear trim for 2013. Those are functional vents on the bulgier hood, which terminates at a larger, more-GT500-esque grille. Whereas last year’s in-grille fog-lamp covers were molded in and just for looks, the 2013 piece has removable caps that open up to provide better engine cooling. They’re flanked by standard HID headlight units, which have faux slats that recall the outboard vents on the 1970 model. The taillights now are recessed into the sheetmetal, with LED surrounds and a gloss-black panel bridging them.

As another nod to the car’s past, Ford will offer School Bus Yellow paint that matches the color on Parnelli Jones’s 1970 Trans-Am championship car. Color options for the regular Boss 302 include that hue, Grabber Blue, Gotta Have It Green (which we’re told is an electric/neon shade), Performance White, and Race Red. The Laguna Seca will be available in SBY or black, both of which will have gray-trimmed spoilers, mirror caps, grilles, wheels, and interior cross-braces instead of last year’s garish red accents. Both the Boss 302 and Laguna Seca lose their contrasting-color roofs for 2013. We’re okay with that, too.

There are no chassis or powertrain changes for 2013, which, again, is just fine with us. Sync, which wasn’t available in last year’s Boss, is now standard. A wrench to remove the side-exhaust restrictors is not, but it’s the only entertainment-system-adjustment tool required in the Boss. It produces this sound. You’re welcome.

The current Boss 302, like the original, will only have a two-year run; 2014 will bring a new Mustang to coincide with the car’s 50th anniversary. That does, however, pave the way for a Boss 351 in the future. We’d be cool with that.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

LA Show 2011 Highlights: 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

The new, 200mph Ford Shelby GT500 ‘takes muscle car performance to new heights’ and is the ‘ultimate’ version of the car, according to Blue Oval chiefs. The 2013 model of the Ford Shelby GT500 was unveiled on the eve of the Los Angeles motor show and, Ford claims, the headline figures of 650bhp and 600lb ft from the 5.8-litre supercharged unit make it the most powerful production V8 engine on the planet.

The power output of the 1750kg machine is a boost of more than 100bhp over the current, 5.4-litre engined version, which you can read more about here.

Ford says every part of the powertrain has been optimised for producing the additional horsepower, including a larger, more efficient supercharger that is a unique design for the Shelby GT500’s engine.

The clutch, transmission and axle have all been upgraded and the Ford Shelby GT500 also gets a new carbonfibre driveshaft, cross-drilled block and heads and updated camshaft profiles. The gearing of the six-speed manual transmission has been revised to manage to torque and power delivery.

Other tweaks include a new downforce-generating front grille, a redesigned splitter that is designed to make the car feel more planted at speeds of 160mph-plus and a new quad exhaust system. The cooling system has been uprated and features a larger, revised cooling fan and more efficient air cooler.

Stopping power comes from six-piston Brembo calipers, revised pads and larger front and rear rotors to reduce brake fade. The Shelby GT500 runs on 19-inch front and 2-inch rear wheels coupled with Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G tyres.

An optional, track-oriented Performance Package offers Bilstein electronic adjustable dampers and a Torsen limited-slip differential. On top of that, a Track Package is also available for even more extreme performance.

The price of the new Ford Shelby GT500 hasn’t been set, although the current version is available on import to the UK for between £40-50,000.

Ford’s Los Angeles motor show muscle car line-up also includes a refreshed, 2013 model year version of the Mustang Boss 302, which comes with new retro paint options and design details.

Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2011 Highlights: Land Rover DC100 Concept

An evolved, more rugged version of the Land Rover Defender DC100 concept will be shown off at the Los Angeles motor show today.

The revisions – which include optimised off-road 20-inch alloy wheels shod with Cooper all-terrain tyres and expedition accessories such as a raised air-intake 'snorkel' for wading and a roof rack – have been made to assert the go-anywhere looks and off-road credibility of the Land Rover Defender DC100 concept, which will appear alongside the open-topped DC100 Sport at Los Angeles.

Land Rover wants to return the new Defender to its roots and connect with the third world. Land Rover boss John Edwards told Autocar that the new 4x4 “must be capable, usable and abusable and appropriate for the third world market.”

As well the DC100s at Los Angeles, Land Rover had another variant at the recent Dubai motor show that featured all-terrain wheels and tyres better suited to desert driving.

Edwards wants to assert the off-road cred of the new Defender after criticism that the first two DC100 concepts focused on ‘lifestyle’.

“Sometimes we talk too much about Californian surfer dudes and not enough about the Red Cross, Zambia or the Australian Outback,” said Edwards. “If we happen to be able to sell it in California as well that’s nice, but that’s not the most important bit for us.”

Both concepts feature a suite of off-road technological aids aimed at reducing the workload on the driver. These include Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, which optimises the car for any conditions without driver pre-selection.

In addition, a new Terrain-i system creates a map of the topography in front of the car, identifies potential hazards and suggests alternative routes. A new Wade Aid system utilises sonar sensors mounted in the bumpers and wing mirrors to measure water depth and optimise the car for water crossings.

The Land Rover DC100 concepts also feature an intelligent twin-solenoid stop/start system mated to the latest eight-speed automatic gearbox and a ‘driveline disconnect’ system, which sends power to the front-axle only unless conditions demand all-wheel drive.

Edwards has developed a three-pronged brand strategy, focusing on utility, leisure and luxury. While the new Range Rover will place the emphasis on luxury, the Defender will maximise the utility. According to Edwards, this strategy will allow Land Rover to develop “a whole family of vehicles” catering to different needs.

It also leaves the door open to the continuation of the existing Defender models when the new 100 model goes on sale in 2015. Autocar understands that the existing Defender can comply with emissions and crash legislation up to 2017.

Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2011 Highlights: 2013 Mercedes ML63 AMG

This is the new, 518bhp Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, which will go on sale in the UK next spring after its world debut at today's Los Angeles motor show. It is powered by AMG's new twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 engine.

Compared with its predecessor's normally aspirated 6.2-litre V8, the 5.5 brings a gain of 15bhp and a 51lb ft hike in torque to 516lb ft, delivered from just 1750rpm.

The AMG engine - which gets stop-start as standard - takes the ML to a governed top speed of 155mph and enables it to cover the 0-62mph sprint in just 4.8sec.

An optional AMG Performance Pack (which adds a carbonfibre engine cover, red brake calipers and an AMG steering wheel) pushes the engine¹s output to 550bhp and 560lb ft, although it shaves the 0-62mph sprint back by only a tenth of a second. Economy and CO2 emissions are the same for both versions of the engine: 23.9mpg and 276g/km.

The powerplant drives all four wheels through the AMG 7G-Tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission and specifically designed transfer case, which distributes the engine's torque in a ratio of 40 per cent to the front wheels and 60 per cent to the rear.

The suspension set-up - based around Airmatic suspension, auto damping, speed-sensitive steering and auto-levelling - gets the Active Curve System, which uses active anti-roll bars to reduce body roll in corners.

The ML AMG line began in 1999 with the ML55, powered by a 347bhp 5.5-litre AMG engine, followed by the ML63, which had a 503bhp 6.2-litre V8. Since 1999, 24,000 AMG SUVs have been sold.

Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2011 Highlights: 2013 Ford Escape/Kuga

Ford has revealed its first-ever ‘unified’ SUV, to be known as the new Ford Kuga in Europe, at today’s Los Angeles motor show.

The compact five-seater is destined to replace the US’s best-selling Escape and will hit European showrooms next year as an all-new, considerably larger Kuga. It will also be launched in China later next year.

The new SUV’s styling closely follows the European-designed Vertrek concept unveiled in Detroit at the beginning of the year. It is the latest fruit of Ford chief Alan Mulally’s ‘One Ford’ philosophy, which has already made a success of European models such as the Fiesta and Focus in the US, and will bring even more unification to Ford’s world markets.

Product development boss Derek Kuzak claims fuel economy for the new Kuga/Escape will beat all comers in its class, reducing real-world consumption by 5-6mpg. He also claims the car has 11 convenience features not offered by any rival, including a hands-free powered tailgate that swings upwards if you aim a gentle kick at the underside of the rear bumper.

Among other refinements, the car comes with internet connectivity and improved aerodynamics, including grille slats that close when maximum cooling is not needed. This cuts aerodynamic drag and reduces fuel consumption.

US models will get a normally aspirated 2.5-litre engine, as well as Ford’s turbocharged 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre petrol Ecoboost units. European versions get Ecoboosts plus a diesel line-up already familiar in the third-generation Focus. There may also be small-capacity three-cylinder models within a year.

Compared with the outgoing model, the new Kuga is around 100mm longer, with most of the extra length concentrated in the wheelbase. Ford admits one current point of customer dislike is the current Kuga’s small boot and rear passenger accommodation.

Although a new Mondeo is due next year, the Kuga will probably be Ford’s most important launch of 2012 in volume terms. Demand for mid-size SUVs has increased three-fold in a decade, Ford says, and 60 per cent of America’s new car buyers now consider either a mid-size saloon or SUV.

“More people every year are looking for cars like Escape,” says Kuzak. “We want to give them many reasons to buy.”

Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2011 Highlights: Ford Fiesta ST 5-Door Concept

Ford has revealed its future high performance US-specific five-door Fiesta with this Ford Fiesta ST concept, which has been shown at the Los Angeles motor show today. A three door ST variant for Europe was previously shown in Frankfurt.

The hot Fiesta ST is powered by Ford’s 1.6-litre Ecoboost petrol engine, which is tuned to produce 178bhp and 177lb ft of torque. Power is transferred through the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. The most powerful factory Fiesta currently on sale is the 132bhp 1.6 in the special-edition Fiesta S1600.

Externally, the Fiesta ST concept mirrors the styling used on its Focus ST bigger brother. Similar design features include a large, distinctive trapezoidal grille as well as side skirts, rear diffuser and spoiler and twin chrome tailpipes. Flared arches filled by 17-inch alloys complete the package.

Ride height and suspension geometry is also revised compared with the standard car to ensure better, more focused driving dynamics that can “flatter less-experienced drivers while rewarding those seeking to push the limits of the Fiesta ST's sports performance,” according to Ford.

Derrick Kuzak, global product development vice president said: "The Fiesta has a rich history of high-performance models so a new ST performance model is a logical next step in our performance vehicle strategy for our global small cars."

Ford director of global performance vehicles Jost Capito added: "With the Fiesta ST Concept, we are demonstrating that our global performance plan has legs.

"The Fiesta ST Concept shows in the most dramatic way possible that the qualities that define an ST are not limited to one model."

Much like the forthcoming Peugeot 208 GTI, the Fiesta ST will recall the model’s more iconic iterations such as the Fiesta XR2i, RS1800 and RS Turbo.

Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Hyundai Azera

The latest car to feature Hyundai’s fluidic sculpture design language, the Hyundai Azera saloon, has been unveiled at the Los Angeles motor show today.

The Hyundai Azera – which is based on the same platform as the Kia Cadenza – is the latest vehicle to adopt Hyundai’s new design language, currently used on its i40 and ix20 models.

It is also the last car in Hyundai’s ‘24/7 version 2.0’ product initiative, which has resulted in seven new models being released in the past 24 months.

In the US market the Azera will compete against models such as the Nissan Maxima, Ford Taurus, Lexus ES350 and Buick LaCrosse V6.

The saloon will be offered with a 3.3-litre, V6 GDI (gasoline direct injection) engine and six-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual control. The engine produces 293bhp at 6400rpm and 255lb ft at 5200rpm.

Azera's powertrain has an active eco mode, which modifies engine and transmission control for improved fuel economy. It produces a combined 23mpg on the combined US cycle.

The Azera, which weighs 1638kg, is fitted with a MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link independent rear suspension. It rides on a 2844mm wheelbase, with an overall length of 4909mm and width of 1859mm – dimensions that pitch it between the Sonata and Genesis models in Hyundai’s US range.

The Hyundai Azera goes on sale in the US early next year, but there are no indications that it will reach the UK market.

Thanks to: Autocar

Kamis, 17 November 2011

LA Show 2011 Highlights: Subaru BRZ STi Concept

This Subaru BRZ Concept STI, revealed at the Los Angeles motor show today, could form the basis of a hardcore version of the manufacturer’s forthcoming sports car.

The concept shown at the American event marks the first time the rear-wheel drive Subaru BRZ has been seen fully clothed, although it still doesn't have an interior. Toyota, which is building the car as a joint-project with Subaru, has shown off its version, the FT-86, with bodywork, but the BRZ has only been seen in less-finished form.

The car displayed at Los Angeles bears the name of STI, Subaru’s performance brand, and could end up forming the basis of a ‘hotter’ BRZ variant, rather than the standard car.

In tandem with the unveiling of the car, Subaru issued some more details of the BRZ Concept STI.

The ‘boxer’ engine in the BRZ has been installed as low as possible, enabling the car to feature a low hood and sleek roofline. The hexagonal lower front grille, hawk eye headlights and fin-shaped fog lamps are designed to evoke other cars in the Subaru family.

The lower front spoiler and rear wing are STI-made, as is the carbonfibre roof that keeps the weight and centre of gravity down. The bold rear design features rear fender flares, a large rear-diffuser, and twin dual tailpipes to enhance the performance feel.

The Subaru's rear lights feature more aggressive square-edged styling where Toyota uses curvier shapes, also more clearly distinguished by clear lenses. And it gets quad exhaust pipes on the Subura, compared with the pair in the Toyota.

The car is finished in WR Blue Pearl II, similar to the colour feature on many of Subaru’s world rally cars in the 1990s and 2000s.

The two-litre horizontally-opposed four-cylinder direct fuel-injection gasoline engine has been developed exclusively for BRZ. The engine has been designed with a square bore and stroke of 86x86 mm. It is combined with Toyota's D-4S direct injection technology.

Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2011 Highlights: 2013 Jaguar XKR-S Convertible

The new Jaguar XKR-S convertible is being billed as “the most powerful and fastest open-topped GT model” that the company has ever built. The Jaguar XKR-S convertible has made its public debut at the Los Angeles motor show today and joins the XKR-S coupé at the top of the XK range. Although it weighs 1800kg, the XKR-S can sprint to 62mph in just 4.2sec and has a (limited) top speed of 186mph.

The cabrio has the same aerodynamic changes as the coupé, including the new nose, revised sills and prominent rear wing. The interior has the same carbonfibre trim, too.

Like the XKR-S coupe, it uses a 5.0-litre V8 fitted with a Roots-type twin-vortex supercharger and breathes through twin intercoolers. It develops 542bhp and 502lb ft of torque, up 38bhp and 40lb ft on the XKR’s engine, and drives the rear wheels through an active differential.

Jaguar says the car is also the stiffest in its class (at 16,500Nm per degree), which has allowed it to carry over the uprated suspension system used on the coupé.

The new aluminium front steering knuckle, revised steering, stiffer springs and dampers, and revised rear suspension geometry is re-utilised, although the cabrio’s rear damper mounts have been further stiffened to offset the lack of a roof structure.

Mike Cross, head of vehicle integrity and Jaguar’s chassis guru, said, “Because the XK was designed as a convertible, it has great structural integrity. This allowed us to apply the XKR-S coupé’s sporting suspension settings to create a convertible with no compromises.”

Jaguar predicts the price will be about £103,000.

Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Volkswagen Passat CC

A facelifted version of the Volkswagen CC has been unveiled at the Los Angeles motor show. Volkswagen wants the revised CC to take a significant step upmarket. The car features new front and rear styling and an extended range of standard equipment.

The new version will be known in Europe as the VW CC, dropping the Passat monicker. In making that move, VW in Europe has followed the lead of its US marketing department in a bid to raise the car’s appeal.

“The CC is a premium, design-led desirable car and that doesn't sit comfortably with the more utilitarian Passat models,” an insider told Autocar. “The models are separated on price, so separating them by name made sense. Many in the company wish we had never emphasised the CC association.”

A choice of three direct-injection petrol engines will be offered, producing 158bhp, 208bhp and 295bhp. The first two will have an option of a dual clutch gearbox and the most powerful variant will have the dual clutch ‘box as standard, and all-wheel drive. All petrol engines have battery regeneration functionality.

Diesel options include 138bhp and 168bhp units, both of which are equipped with stop-start and battery regeneration. The 138bhp variant will return 60.1mpg and 125 g/km when mated to a manual six-speed gearbox, with the DSG-equipped car will offer 53.3mpg.

The new version will be known in Europe as the VW CC, dropping the Passat monicker. In making that move, VW in Europe has followed the lead of its US marketing department in a bid to raise the car’s appeal.

“The CC is a premium, design-led desirable car and that doesn't sit comfortably with the more utilitarian Passat models,” an insider told Autocar. “The models are separated on price, so separating them by name made sense. Many in the company wish we had never emphasised the CC association.”

A choice of three direct-injection petrol engines will be offered, producing 158bhp, 208bhp and 295bhp. The first two will have an option of a dual clutch gearbox and the most powerful variant will have the dual clutch ‘box as standard, and all-wheel drive. All petrol engines have battery regeneration functionality.

Diesel options include 138bhp and 168bhp units, both of which are equipped with stop-start and battery regeneration. The 138bhp variant will return 60.1mpg and 125 g/km when mated to a manual six-speed gearbox, with the DSG-equipped car will offer 53.3mpg.

Thanks to: Autocar

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