Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

First drive review: 2013 Aston Martin DB9

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 06:36 AM PDT

The new Aston Martin DB9 might cost a great deal more than the car it replaces, but it is able to ask serious questions of the £190k Vanquish This is the car that marks the end of the road for the short-lived Virage but, claims Aston, also fills the gap "perfectly" between the entry level V8 Vantage and the new Vanquish at the top of the range. It's a heavily revised but also more expensive version of the DB9, it costs an eye-watering £131,995 and it boasts a rousing 510bhp at 6500rpm.That's good enough to send the new, 1785kg DB9 to 62mph in just 4.6sec and on to a top speed of 183mph. Compared with the previous car, CO2 emissions have dropped a touch to 333g/km, which is useful, although the capacity of the V12 remains at 5935cc with torque rising slightly to 457lb ft at a 5500rpm.The styling upgrades are as obvious as they are beautiful in the metal. Overall the new DB9 has more than a whiff of the Virage about it visually, and there's not a lot wrong with it for that (unless you were one of the 1100 or so buyers who invested in a Virage, in which case you mightn't be quite so delighted by the latest DB9).Aston's designers and engineers are particularly proud about the pedestrian protection that has been achieved despite the car retaining its endearingly long, low-slung bonnet. They've also introduced adaptive damping to the all-round double wishbone suspension, which features three different modes – Normal, Sport and Track – that help "transform" the DB9 on the move.Perhaps even more significantly, carbon-ceramic brakes now come fitted as standard – as they did on the Virage. They help reduce the DB's unsprung weight while improving its braking performance and longevity, and all without removing any feel at the pedal. These alone help justify the jump in list price compared with the outgoing model.

Autocar magazine 17 October preview

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 02:00 AM PDT

McLaren MP4-12C Spider driven; Mercedes A-class tested against the new Audi A3 and BMW 1-series; Audi RS4 get the full Autocar road test treatment

This week's Autocar stars our first drive review of the McLaren MP4-12C Spider, the second production car from the Woking-based firm's burgeoning road car department. Driving impressions are embargoed until Wednesday, but readers can get unrivalled insight into the firm's latest Ferrari challenger from Steve Sutcliffe.

We also have a first test of the new Mercedes A-class against its premium hatch rivals, the Audi A3 and BMW 1-series. Competition in the class has never been closer, and the test throws up a surprise winner and a twist. Read Andrew Frankel's story in the magazine to discover more.

The full eight-page road test is dedicated to the new Audi RS4, a car that delivers the extremes of compliant touring and near rally replica levels of performance with seeming ease. Other first drive verdicts include the new Renault Clio, Vauxhall Mokka and Bentley Continental GT Speed.

Our news section is led off by the first official pictures of a new Vauxhall, plus full details of the fastest ever Porsche Cayenne, Britain's new cheapest car, and the lowdown on the next generation Skoda Octavia.

Highlights of our feature section include a four-page investigation in to Ford's Caterham project car, which is fitted with the firm's new 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine, and a look at supercar noise levels and how they contribute to the overall ownership experience. Hilton Holloway also takes a trip down memory lane to admire some of Citroen's greatest past cars, and ponder how they could help shape the company's future.

James Ruppert kick's off our used buying section with a look at Mercedes C-class bargains, discovering solid examples can be had from as little as £495. At the other end of the scale, we whet appetites with the discovery that a used Ferrari 599GTB can be now had from £85,000.

Ford follows Mini out of the WRC

Posted: 15 Oct 2012 08:41 AM PDT

Ford announces withdrawal of title sponsorship of M-Sport's WRC team, while Mini has also quit its factory involvement in the series

Ford has confirmed that it will pull out of the World Rally Championship at the end of the current season. The announcement comes within a week of Mini also declaring the end of its works WRC endeavour.

Roelant de Waard, Ford of Europe vice president of marketing, sales and service, said the decision was made after a review of the company's European business in the current economic climate.

De Waard added that Ford had decided it was best for the company to "reduce the WRC commitments and deploy their resources in other areas," but hasn't said if it plans to enter another motorsport series.

Although withdrawing as a title sponsor, Ford is in discussions with its long-term partner M-Sport over continued vehicle and engineering support. Cumbria-based M-Sport, owned by Malcolm Wilson, has run the Ford WRC team since 1997 and plans to continue rallying Fiestas in the WRC.

M-Sport said that it "understands that tough decisions have had to be made and looks forward to continuing a strong technical partnership [with Ford] into the future".

Ford's news follows last week's announcement from Mini that it has ended its works involvement in the World Rally Championship. However, the firm has committed to supporting its customer teams running Countryman WRC models.

Mini will compete in the remaining rounds of the 2012 WRC calendar – Italy and Spain – to ensure the Countryman is fully homologated for WRC rallies. BMW Motorsport has committed to continued development of the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine used in the car and working with Prodrive, which has a contract to run, service and sell Countryman WRC cars with the manufacturer's blessing.

The Countryman has been relatively successful, scoring three podiums on WRC events.

Dan Cogger

Quick news: 88g/km Vauxhall Corsa; Volvo C30 axed; Tata Nano for US

Posted: 15 Oct 2012 04:56 AM PDT

Corsa revisions include cleanest model yet; Volvo production cuts; new Hyundai i30 range-topper added; DVLA tax changes; Tata Nano set for US launch

Vauxhall has anounced that the new Corsa 1.3CDTi ecoFLEX now achieves 85.6mpg and emits 88g/km of CO2. The 2.4mpg and 6g/km improvement over the 2011 model has come from a revised transmission, adjustments to the engine mapping and low rolling-resistance tyres. The 1.3 CDTI is the lowest CO2-emitting diesel engine the company has ever made. Vauxhall has also made changes to the chassis and suspension system for improved ride and comfort.

Volvo is to stop production for one week from 29 October due to falling demand for new cars in Europe. "Europe is the main market for Volvo and the continued recession is naturally affecting the demand," acting CEO Jan Gurander revealed. Volvo has also officially ended production of its hatchback C30.

Hyundai has launched a new Premium trim level to its i30 range, costing from £19,995 for the hatchback and £23,095 for the estate. Premium line cars come with either Convenience and Individual packs, as well as leather upholstery, keyless entry and 17-inch alloy wheels as standard. Premium Tourers are available with a 1.6-litre diesel engine with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions. Hatchbacks can be specified with a 1.6-litre petrol engine with manual transmission only.

The DVLA is planning a removal of the insurance check for car tax. In a move to 'get rid of unnecessary red tape'. The DVLA says its Continuous Insurance Enforcement rules regularly check for uninsured drivers anyway. While insurance remains a legal requirement, the new proposal means that renewing car tax will be a quicker and easier process.

The Tata Nano will be launched in the US within three years, company boss Ratan Tata has confirmed. The Nano, billed as the world's cheapest car when it launched in India in 2009, will be redesigned for the North American market in time for its launch, Tata told Automotive News. He said the US-market Nano would be "more sophisticated" than the Indian version, meaning it's likely to be twinned with a version for Europe, which has been previewed by the MegaPixel concept.

Volkswagen has introduced the Highline model for the Passat range, starting at £20,970. The Highline replaces the popular SE with a more generous standard specification – Volkswagen claims £1,680 of extra kit for a £500 increase in list price. Features include touch-screen sat-nav, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control and 17-inch 'Sao Paolo' alloy wheels. The Highline will be available with any engine/gearbox combination currently offered for the Passat.

Dan Cogger/Josh Woodcock

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