Monday, October 22, 2012

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Sao Paulo 2012: Nissan Extrem crossover

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 04:46 AM PDT

Nissan has launched a new small crossover called the Extrem at Sao Paulo show

The Nissan Extrem small crossover concept has been revealed at the São Paulo motor show.

The new concept, which was teased last week, is based on the Nissan March (Micra) and is a crossover between a SUV and a small sports car, Nissan design chief Shiro Nakamura told Autocar.

Nakamura said that Nissan's Brazilian operation has led development of the concept, and the build of it took place there. The design work was undertaken by Nissan's Design Studio in San Diego.

The Extrem is smaller than a Juke, and is billed by Nakamura strictly as a concept in its current guise.

He also distanced the concept from reports claiming it was intended to preview a modern day successor to the Nissan 240Z sports car.

Autocar understands the concept previews Nissan's intentions to launch a small three-door crossover for markets including Brazil. Indeed, one source said the firm "never did show cars that are flights of fancy".

As well as using March mechanicals, the concept also features front-end styling inspired by the model, a move which is intended to link the March, which was recently introduced into the Brazilian market, to the concept.

Initially, certain design flourishes from the Extrem are expected to carryover into future production models, such as the headlight design.

But further off, should the concept be well received by the Brazilian show public, then Nissan is poised to launch a small three-door crossover for the market that's smaller than the Juke but inspired by the Extrem.

Sao Paulo motor show: full gallery

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 03:32 AM PDT

Autocar is live in Brazil and will be bringing you all the latest images

The doors of the 2012 Sao Paulo International Motor Show have opened this week, and Autocar is reporting live.

Given Brazil's status as a rapidly emerging economy and a growing market, the show's importance has never been greater.

Autocar is one of the few British publications in Sao Paulo for the 27th Brazilian Motor Show and we will be bringing you a gallery of the show as it happens.

Chevrolet's Onix, Hyundai's HB20 and Toyota's Etios are all produced in Brazil and are making their debut this week. Nissan's mystery concept, which was partially revealed to us last week, is another car with a Brazilian connection and will be revealed in full at the show.

Volkswagen, which has a long-term relationship in the country, will be exhibiting both its Taigun concept and Gol hatchback - another car for the local market.

Renault will be debuting the latest incarnation of the Clio 2, the Clio Mercosur. Also set to feature at the show is a facelifted version of the Ford Fiesta saloon and a small crossover from Honda.

Dan Cogger

Sao Paulo motor show: Volkswagen Amarok Canyon

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 03:27 AM PDT

The Volkswagen Amarok Canyon, first seen in Geneva earlier this year, has been signed off for production

A new Canyon version of the Volkswagen Amarok will go on sale in spring 2013, and the large four-door pick-up could make it to the UK.

The Argentinian-built Amarok Canyon was first seen as a concept six months ago, and its positive response and feedback has led to Volkswagen bosses signing it off for production.

VW Commercial Vehicles chief Eckhard Scholz, unveiling the production version at the São Paulo motor show, said the Canyon was supposed to combine "a working machine with a sporty lifestyle vehicle".

Features of the Canyon include a bright red paint finish, special alloys, a row of four roof lights, roof bars and sledges stored in the flat-bed. 

Sao Paulo motor show: Volkswagen Gol

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 03:16 AM PDT

Volkswagen has revealed the three-door version of Brazil's best-selling car, the Volkswagen Gol

A new three-door version of the Volkswagen Gol, Brazil's best selling car has been revealed at the São Paulo motor show.

The locally produced Gol has been Brazil's best selling model in each of the last 25 years, and is on track for a 26th in 2012. More than seven million units have been produced in that time.

The Gol is closer to a current Polo than a Golf in size, and although VW officials wouldn't confirm its exact underpinnings in relation to a more familiar European model, it has been upgraded to be given the VW Group's latest electrical architecture and design.

The engine line-up is made up of FlexFuel units, which can run on petrol, ethanol or a combination of both.

The Gol is such a success for VW in Brazil, a market expected to expand to 5 million sales per year by 2018, that if it was a brand by itself it would be the fourth largest in Brazil with a 10 per cent market share.

Sao Paulo show: New Octavia set for November unveil

Posted: 21 Oct 2012 11:49 PM PDT

The next Skoda Octavia will be based on the MQB platform and is set for a Geneva reveal

The first images and details of the new Skoda Octavia will be revealed next month, a full four months ahead of its motor show debut at the Geneva motor show in March.

Speaking at a presentation in Brazil on the eve of the São Paulo motor show, Volkswagen Group's production chief Michael Macht confirmed the Octavia's imminent launch and that it would be the fourth VW Group brand to launch a model based on the new MQB modular platform.

The Octavia will be one of 27 new production cars the VW Group has revealed this year, and the fourth MQB car following the new VW Golf, Audi A3 and Seat Leon.

At around 4.8 metres in length, the third-generation Octavia will be the biggest yet; it's growing larger in size to allow the new Rapid saloon room to breathe in the Skoda line-up. It will use the long-wheelbase version of the MQB structure.

Sales of the staple Skoda are set to start soon after its official Geneva unveiling, at prices not far above today's model, despite the increase in size. The unveiling of a performance vRS version is to follow at the Goodwood Festival of Speed next summer.

Sao Paulo motor show: VW confirms 'Dacia' plans

Posted: 21 Oct 2012 11:40 PM PDT

A budget brand is being considered by VW bosses as it was revealed it is following Dacia's growth intensely

A senior Volkswagen Group official has exclusively confirmed for the first time that the firm is considering launching a low-cost brand to rival Renault's fast-growing budget arm, admitting it is "following the Dacia story very intensely".

Speaking to Autocar ahead of this week's Sao Paulo motor show, R&D chief Ulrich Hackenberg said the VW Group was "always looking at new segments building up in global markets", and it had identified huge potential for launching cars "below prices we currently sell at".

"There is now a big segment growing below us," he said. "In China for example, we're selling cars for less than ever for 8000 euros but there are brands selling for 6000 euros. It makes sense to rival these brands, we're analysing it and pre-thinking it."

Hackenberg said the Group was well placed to launch budget models as it would be able to use pre-existing mechanicals from models that have just gone out of production or are nearing the end, rather than develop new underpinnings for the brand from scratch.

"We have technology that has been invested in and improved over time, and it is easy to share costs with parts that are already available," he said. "So you don't need to make new investments in the technology."

Hackenberg stopped short of confirming what models would be launched in the new sub-brand, which would become VW Group's 13th nameplate if it chose to launch the models under a new badge, but it is understood a saloon, estate and MPV are all being investigated.

On Dacia's success, Hackenberg said he was "not surprised" by how well it was doing, but hinted that VW's response could yield even greater success. "Dacia is not in big markets like China," he said, "so there is a lot of space to grow more."

Next Renault Mégane to smarten up

Posted: 21 Oct 2012 10:57 PM PDT

Renault has said that its next Mégane must smarten up to compete in the competitive hatchback sector

Renault will never make a radical replacement for the Mégane, but officials admit something needs to be done to counteract the advance of Audi, BMW and Mercedes into the family hatchback segment.

The French firm's exterior design chief, Anthony Lo, said the Mégane "could never change too radically", because it is needed in its current conventional form in both developing and mature markets, but Renault "needed to compete against low-cost premium German cars" if it is not to lose market share.

Lo ruled out the Mégane growing any bigger than its current size as it would increase the weight and negate its aerodynamic efficiency, so instead the firm would focus on improving the "perceived quality" of its products, particularly with its interiors.

"We need to get smart," Lo revealed. "Perceived quality is what it's all about now, touch and feel being so important. We need to think how we can make our cars more 'French', injecting lessons learned from France's many brands associated with luxury."

Quality key for Renault Initiale brand

Posted: 21 Oct 2012 01:00 PM PDT

Renault need to focus on the quality of their future Initiale Paris models if the brand is to be a success

Renault's luxury Initiale Paris sub-brand can only be success if it has a clearly designed message as an alternative to German premium makers, a senior Renault designer has revealed.

Models to launch in the Initiale Paris sub-brand, a public goal of Renault chief Carlos Tavares, are currently in digital development in Renault design studios, according to exterior design chief Anthony Lo.

"We're doing a lot of concepts," said Lo, "but we need to create what our message will be for this brand in 20 years time if it is to succeed. We need to then create a range of cars to follow this message, not the other way around. The world needs to be created and the models to be launched into them otherwise it's not believable."

Lo pointed out that French luxury goods are revered in boom markets like China, but the same buyers would choose a German luxury car over a French one. For that reason, he believes it is possible that Renault could collaborate with a luxury French fashion brand to create a car.

"Why shouldn't we collaborate with a fashion brand?" he said. "We don't always have to tie-up with car brands, and it would help our cars be seen more as a luxury good rather than a product."

Lo's boss, chief designer Laurens van den Acker, said French luxury brands Louis Vuitton and Hermes have told him "people aren't into innovation in the luxury segment", as instead it was all about quality. "So we need to really concentrate on that, as well as on a typically French kind of elegance," he added.

Van den Acker said he could envision a company in the future where Dacia is the budget brand, Renault is the core brand and there are separate sporting and luxury brands, potentially Alpine and Initiale Paris.

First drive review: Peugeot 208 1.6 e-HDi Feline

Posted: 21 Oct 2012 01:00 AM PDT

Range-topping 208 has a great engine and some nice interior touches, but it doesn't feel special enough to justify the outlay Ignoring the special Ice Velvet launch edition, this is the most expensive Peugeot 208 you can buy until the 208 GTI hot hatch and more luxurious 208 X&Y arrive in the UK next year.For your £17,445 (excluding the £1165 worth of options fitted to our test car) you get the most potent 114bhp version of the familiar 1.6-litre e-HDI diesel engine in top-of-the-range Feline trim, which includes sports seats wrapped in part leather-effect trim, a panoramic glass roof, stylish 17in alloys and plenty of other goodies with 'electric' or 'heated' prefixing their names.

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.

Sao Paulo motor show: Hyundai HB20

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 01:48 AM PDT

The Hyundai HB20, which has been designed and built in Brazil, has been shown in Sao Paulo

The Hyundai HB20 has been shown at the Sao Paulo motor show. Hyundai describes the HB20 as "the first Hyundai strategically developed and exclusively produced for the Brazilian market".

It says HB stands for Hyundai Brazil, and 20 is the global nomenclature for this size of platform. It is understood the HB20 shares its basic architecture with the European i20.

Nine trim levels will be offered alongside a choice of 1.0-litre and 1.6 litre flex-fuel engines, which can run on petrol or bioethanol. A five-speed manual gearbox is fitted as standard, while a four-speed automatic is available with the larger engine.

The HB20 will initially launch as a five-door hatchback, while saloon and SUV variants will launch in 2013.

All models feature dual front airbags and air conditioning as standard.

The domestically developed supermini will be built at Hyundai's first plant in Brazil. The new $600m Piracicaba plant is the seventh factory to be built outside of Korea and will provide employment for more than 20,000 people directly and in the plant's supply chain.

Josh Woodcock

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