Saturday, October 20, 2012

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Mercedes-Benz SLS Black Series and anniversary edition

Posted: 20 Oct 2012 03:45 AM PDT

Pictures of the SLS Black Series show Nurburgring testing while Mercedes also celebrates AMG's 45th anniversary

The Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series is continuing to shed its disguise, just over a month before its world debut at the Los Angeles motor show.

The latest pictures of the Black Series, caught here testing at the Nürburgring, reveal its more aggressive front end with new air intakes and angled lower front bumper, and a new, fixed rear wing.

Power from the SLS AMG's 6.2-litre V8 is understood to have been raised to around 650bhp. It sends power to the rear wheels through a beefed-up seven-speed transaxle.

Chassis changes include wider tracks, a lowered ride height and a reworked suspension system. Larger brakes are also fitted.

Mercedes is also celebrating the 45th anniversary of AMG with a special edition of its SLS AMG GT3 race car. Features include the same matt paint finish as the SL65 AMG 45th Anniversary model, and a 6.2-litre V8 that's signed and even, in part, installed by Mercedes' multiple DTM champion, Bernd Schneider. Just five examples of the SLS GT3 will be produced.

Renault ponders hot Clio estate

Posted: 20 Oct 2012 03:00 AM PDT

Renault are looking at producing a Renaultsport version of the Clio estate

The new Renault Clio estate could receive a Renaultsport makeover, exterior design chief Anthony Lo has revealed.

The popularity of the Clio estate in certain markets and the potential expansion of the Renaultsport-developed line-up makes a hot version of the baby load-lugger a realistic addition to the current three-strong Renaultsport range.

"It's down to planning," said Lo. "We could easily do it. We have all the bits and it's something we're looking at."

The Clio estate is not currently destined for the UK, so a Renaultsport version would be highly unlikely to make it to UK shores if produced.

First drive review: Fiat Panda Trekking

Posted: 20 Oct 2012 01:00 AM PDT

New Trekking is a front-drive Panda with 4x4 looks and genuine off-road ability to back them up Another niche-busting Panda from Fiat. Fiat describes the Panda Trekking as a 'city utility vehicle'; so a versatile city car for during the week and a pseudo off-roader for the weekends.Ignoring what the marketing department says for a minute, in practice the Panda Trekking is a front-wheel-drive version of the new Panda 4x4. It gets the 4x4's raised ride height, increased suspension travel, mud and snow tyres and funky body cladding, but it does without the 4x4's all-wheel drive and has a five-speed manual gearbox instead of a six-speeder.To give it some off-road ability to match its looks, Fiat has given the Trekking a clever electronic and stability control system called Traction +. This mimics an electronic locking differential by controlling the brakes when slip is detected in either of the front wheels, directing traction to the wheel with more grip. Traction + can be used at speeds of up to 18mph.The Trekking can be had with one of two engines in the UK: a 84bhp 0.9 TwinAir petrol unit and a 74bhp 1.3 MultiJet diesel.

Picture special: Morgan Motors factory revealed

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 09:09 AM PDT

With Morgan on target to set an all-time production record this year, Autocar takes a look inside its Malvern factory

Morgan, the longest-surviving British-owned sportscar maker, will set a production record in 2012 with nigh-on 1600 cars assembled at the company's Malvern works.

Production has been on a climb ever since Morgan went back to its roots last year and launched a modern day 3 Wheeler, powered by a punchy US-built vee-twin.

The 3 Wheeler will make up around half of production in 2012 - its first full-year - largely thanks to buoyant demand in the US.

The 3 Wheeler is the only vehicle Morgan can sell in the US. Even the latest alloy-bodied Supersports and Plus 8 can't meet Federal requirements for dual-stage airbags.

Seeing workers lovingly assemble cars at Morgan is a thing of beauty. A visit to Morgan's warren of brick-built assembly buildings at Malvern ought to be on every enthusiast's wish-list.

McLaren MP4-12C Spider tested on road and track

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 08:27 AM PDT

Does removing the roof make the McLaren MP4-12C even better?

The McLaren MP4-12C has been criticised for a shortage of emotion, so can the MP4-12C Spider - which retains the same torsional rigidity as the coupe and gains only 40kg in weight - rectify that? Steve Sutcliffe finds out.


Seat Leon Cupra R scooped

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 08:12 AM PDT

Seat's 280bhp hot hatch range topper spied ahead of Frankfurt show reveal

Seat is preparing to launch a 280bhp Leon Cupra R, revealed here in prototype form for the first time during testing. The hot new Cupra R is expected to make its world debut at the 2013 Frankfurt motor show.

The prototype of the new Seat, scooped by Autocar's spy photographers, is based on the Leon FR recently revealed at the Paris motor show. A new front bumper with functioning air ducts, larger brakes, new 18-inch wheels and a lower ride height give away the mule's identity as the Cupra R.

Power will come from a version of the Volkswagen Group's 'EA888' 2.0-litre turbo engine, tuned to deliver about 280bhp, some 19bhp more than the current Cupra R. Torque is set to remain at 258lb ft, but its peak should arrive lower in the rev range.

The front wheels will be driven through a standard six-speed manual or optional six-speed dual-clutch gearbox. All-wheel drive is being considered for some Leons, but not initially on the Cupra R.

With more power and less weight than before, thanks to its lighter platform, the Cupra R is set to have a 0-62mph time of less than 6.0sec and be reined in at 155mph.

Positioned beneath the Cupra R will be a Cupra, with 240bhp from the same engine.

In a bid to broaden the performance Leons' appeal, Cupra and Cupra R models will be offered as three-door hatchbacks and estates. Standard versions of the three-door and estate will be unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March.

A high-riding, four-wheel-drive version of the Leon estate is also set to be launched in early 2014, Autocar can reveal. Body cladding will be offered on the tougher-looking new model, which is designed to bolster the Leon's sales in northern Europe.

Clio SUV on sale next year

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 07:58 AM PDT

Captur concept-inspired compact crossover with Clio 4 underpinnings for Geneva show reveal

A new Renault Clio-based compact SUV is to go into production next year. Renault officials are now speaking openly about a production version of the model that was first previewed as the Captur concept at the 2011 Geneva show, and it could return to that show next March in production guise.The as-yet unnamed Clio SUV will be based on the Renault-Nissan Alliance's B platform, also found beneath the new Clio and the Nissan Micra and Juke. It is likely to share its platform dimensions with the new Juke, meaning it will be around 4.1m long.

The styling will borrow more from the Clio 4 than the Captur concept, as our artist's impression indicates. The Clio's grille and headlight outline will carry over, with Captur influences seen in the lower front bumper, sloping tailgate and rear detailing.

Speaking at the Paris motor show, Renault design chief Laurens van den Acker said the "Clio crossover" would give Renault a chance "to come back in a big way" in a fast-growing segment that it has so far failed to capitalise on.

He added that experiences at Dacia with the Duster would help Renault get the Clio SUV right. "It's ironic for me that, with Dacia, we made a fantastic crossover," he said. "So it's not for a lack of capability or knowledge that Renault doesn't have one."

The ex-Mazda man refused to give much away about the styling, other than, like all Renaults, it would be "more latin, sensual, sporting. The crossover will be sexy".

The SUV's engine range is likely to mirror the new Clio hatch's, meaning a normally aspirated 74bhp 1.2, turbocharged 89bhp 0.9 and turbocharged 118bhp 1.2 petrols will be offered, and an 89bhp 1.5 as the staple diesel.

Although its platform is compatible with four-wheel drive, the Clio SUV is likely to be offered with front-drive only. However, a Renaultsport version could be on the cards — or at least a version with the new Clio RS 200's 197bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine — as a performance flagship for the new range.

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