Saturday, October 27, 2012

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Picture special: History of the Volkswagen Camper

Posted: 27 Oct 2012 07:00 AM PDT

Autocar looks back on the life of the VW Type 2 'Camper' as it prepares for retirement next year

Volkswagen has confirmed that after 63 years, production of the van we know as the iconic Camper will stop at the end of 2013. The news comes after a change in Brazilian regulations for car safety in 2014.

The Type 2 is the van's official name, so it is easy to frustrate  purists by referring to all Type 2s as Campers. Type 2s were available in more than a dozen body styles and spanned three generations, the T1, T2 and T3, with the later T4s and 5s adopting the official 'Transporter' nomenclature.

Type 2 production started with the first-generation T1 model in March 1950, complete with its infamous split-screen front window and rear-mounted engine. T1 production continued until as late as 1968 in Europe, but until 1975 in Brazil by which time almost two million had been built.

The Type 2 received its second-generation appearance as the T2 as early as 1967, taking off from where the T1 had ended with only a handful of visual tweeks. In Brazil T2 production started in 1976, three years before European production stopped, and with few visual changes won't cease until new year's eve 2013. The Brazilian made Type 2s have been given the 'Kombi' name.

We tested a brand new Kombi in Sao Paulo recently and although its ability left much to be desired, the though of a world without it is a sad one.

The T3 Type 2 was available as early as 1979 until the early '90s and, having ironed out the T2's round lines, was often referred to as the 'wedge'. The T3 was the last 'Type 2' VW and one of the last VWs to have an air-cooled engine. Rare Synchro models have genuine off-road talent.

The T1s and 2s are the more familiar and arguably more iconic Type 2s, and are among the world's most recognisable vehicles. A favourite of hippies and The Who, Type 2s have racked up sales of over four million worldwide.

Dan Cogger

New Nissan hatchback targets Focus

Posted: 27 Oct 2012 01:00 AM PDT

Nissan set to build on the Qashqai and Juke's European market success and re-enter the family hatchback class with an all-new Golf and Focus rival

Nissan will launch a direct rival to the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf in 2014, and will build it in Sunderland. It will be the first time the Japanese manufacturer has offered a new car in the European small family hatchback class since 2006, when the Sunderland-built Almera was withdrawn.

Since then Nissan has marketed the Qashqai crossover, after it concluded in the early 2000s that it could only compete in the family car segment by offering something different. 

It subsequently applied the same formula to the supermini segment, launching the Juke in 2010 to further sales success. 

Following the success of those two models, company officials have said the firm has the confidence, and European market share, to offer a more mainstream model again.

The decision to go with a mainstream C-segment hatchback was made 18 months ago, according to Nissan's head of product planning Andy Palmer, but the model is still two years from completion.

The new hatchback is expected to look similar to the current and next-generation Qashqai, as well as the production version of the Invitation concept - shown at the Geneva show earlier this year - which replaces the Note. "The designers have created a very emotional design that draws on the Qashqai," said Palmer. "It's a little bit cheeky."

According to Palmer, Nissan will invest the car's content and character with a mix of "innovation and excitement for everyone", twin themes that are intended to resurface in every future model. He also said the car will be "beautifully designed, with exciting technology".

Features are expected to include Nissan's around-view monitor, a self-parking option, affordable satellite navigation and live music streaming. 

The engine line-up is likely to include Renault's recently revised 1.5 dCi diesel and downsized petrol power units, the three-cylinder 1.2 supercharged DIG-S potentially being among them.

Meanwhile, just a five-door bodystyle will be offered.

Nissan needs a new Focus rival if the company is to maintain its impressive momentum, which is currently over-dependent on the Qashqai and the Juke. Nissan's UK sales were up almost 10 per cent in the first nine months of 2012, while its European share has also grown modestly.

The new hatchback should also offset the possibility that the next-generation Qashqai will fail to maintain the growth of the present model. Palmer admitted that replacement of the Qashqai is a challenge. "There's always a risk, because you tend to be conservative when you're replacing a successful model," he said. "We need to create Qashqai-ness and be bold." 

The next Note should aid Nissan's advance, too. "The Note is our B-segment play now, not the Micra," said Palmer. "It's designed to compete with the Fiesta. The Micra is a sister product that's more grassroots and price sensitive."

Like the current Note, the new model will be built at Sunderland alongside the Qashqai, Qashqai+2, Juke, Leaf and the new Focus rival.

Bizarre cop cars

Posted: 27 Oct 2012 01:00 AM PDT

Ford bringing a Focus ST estate up to police spec has got me wondering what other cars would get the nod for the boys in blue. A Morgan? A McLaren?

I am pleased to report that after my review of The Sweeney several weeks back, Ford, probably as a direct result, has decided to logo up a Focus ST estate for demonstration purposes only. 

Developed and engineered at Ford Special Vehicle Preparations (SVP) in Earls Colne, Essex, and equipped as a compact traffic car, it meets the latest National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) standards for fast response vehicles inside and out. The light bar on the roof is all-LED, and the dashboard is fitted with a mobile data terminal (MDT) and screen to illustrate the Focus ST's versatility for multi-role police use.

So I just wondered, in the absence of a truly British cop car, what would get your vote for blues and twos duty. I'm thinking a Morgan 3 Wheeler panda, or an Aero Supersports for the traffic boys.

Actually, I can't believe that McLaren hasn't seized the PR initiative in the way that Lotus used to do. Imagine what an MP4-12C would be like in retro jam sandwich colours?

Am I mad, or do others harbour thoughts of wildly inappropriate police vehicles?

First drive review: 2013 Range Rover 5.0 V8 Supercharged Autobiography

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 04:30 PM PDT

The new 5.0-litre V8 is thirsty, fast and excessive. An option open only for those with a suitably huge budget Diesel power may account for the majority of Land Rover sales in Europe, but there are still plenty of places where petrol is king - making JLR's voracious Range Rover V8 the variant of choice for everywhere from the dust of the Middle East to the Day-Glo-green grass of suburban America.In the UK, the supercharged 5.0-litre car is deservedly thought of as the high-price pinnacle of an already expensive range. The latest model doesn't disappoint: Land Rover's coffers swell by £98,395 whenever anyone signs for an Autobiography (the only trim level available).For that you get the same eight-cylinder motor as before, turning out the same 503bhp and 461lb ft of torque. Land Rover says the new model gets an improved engine management system, but the biggest mechanical change is that the whole unit is now mated to the eight-speed ZF transmission already enjoyed by the rest of the range rather than its predecessor's six-speeder.2013 Range Rover 3.0 TDV6 Autobiography review2013 Range Rover 4.4 SDV8 Autobiography reviewTwo additional super-slippery ratios bring their own reward - primarily in the efficiency stakes - but the notable statistical bump enjoyed by the latest car is better attributed (as elsewhere) to the 250kg that has been pruned from its kerb weight. CO2 emissions are reduced by 7 per cent to 322g/km and, more importantly for its buyers, its 0-62mph time has fallen from 6.2 seconds to 5.4.

First drive review: 2013 Range Rover Autobiography SDV8

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 04:30 PM PDT

The new Range Rover is much like the old one. Just much better. This is the fourth and easily the best all-new Range Rover to see the light of day since the iconic original appeared in 1970 and changed off-road vehicles forever. That first Range Rover's aspirations were modest by today's standards - to make traditional work-based Land Rovers more versatile - and in that it succeeded brilliantly. That original model looked so great, drove so well and was so quickly recognised as a fine machine simply to spend time in that over the years successive models came to be viewed as viable rivals to traditional luxury saloons like the Mercedes S-class.The new 2013 Range Rover extends the rivalry. To the expected more imposing looks and sumptuous interior it adds a new, weight-saving aluminium chassis, a more efficient engine line-up that for the first time includes a high efficiency diesel V6 (still with 442lb ft of torque) that emits less than 200g/km of CO2, a very frugal figure in SUV and especially Range Rover terms. 2013 Range Rover 5.0 V8 Supercharged Autobiography review2013 Range Rover 3.0 TDV6 Autobiography reviewAnd for the first time a Range Rover offers a truly spacious and luxurious rear package, increasingly important in fast-expanding export markets like China and South-East Asia. In short, this new edition is just like a Range Rover, only better.

Marrakesh Express: Gaydon to Morocco by Range Rover

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 07:23 AM PDT

A 2000 mile, continent-crossing journey by Autocar is the baptism of fire for the all-new Range Rover. Join us on the journey...

There's never been any way of evaluating the performance, dynamics and comfort of an important car than driving a big mileage.

To discover the truth about the all-important new Range Rover an Autocar expedition comprising Stan Papior and I set off from the Land Rover's Gaydon headquarters last week to deliver a silver Range Rover Autobiography SDV8 to its own press launch, 2000 miles to the south in Marrakesh, Morocco. 

We drove 120 miles to Portsmouth, took the 24-hour, 650-mile journey across the Bay of Biscay to Santander in northern Spain, then drove the length of that country to Algiceras in a day to catch the ferry to Tangier.

From it was 350 miles on unfettered Moroccan roads to the destrination on the outskirts of Marrakesh. 

The Range Rover was flawlessly quiet and comfortable, and impressively economical. Our crew drove reasonably briskly, but reached Marrakesh with the fuel computer reading 29.7mpg.

There wasn't a single blemish on its flanks or wheels - until a chauffeur managed to collide with one of Marrakesh's half million motorcyclists, thankfully doing no physical damage but scratching the front bumper. It polished out...


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