Friday, November 9, 2012

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

First drive review: MG6 SE DTi

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 04:11 AM PST

A new diesel engine makes the Longbridge-built MG6 a serious fleet contender at last. This is the MG6 diesel we were promised. When this first of Chinese-owned MG's all-new range hit the UK market 18 months ago, only optimists reckoned it would make any impact. Why? Because there wasn't a diesel option, and in the Focus-Mondeo market segments the car aimed to straddle, petrol sales account for not much more than ten per cent. It drove nicely, and we were told a diesel was in development, but for now it was barely relevant to the UK market.

Qoros Auto to launch at Geneva

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 02:58 AM PST

New Chinese car brand aims to cater to European tastes

An all-new car maker, Qoros Auto, will launch at next year's Geneva motor show with a Ford Focus-rivaling saloon car. It is expected to go on sale in Europe late in 2013.

Qoros says the as yet unnamed car, which has been penned by BMW Mini designer Gert Volker Hildebrand, will be the first of a product offensive. The company is expecting to launch a new model every six months after the initial unveiling.

This rapid proliferation of models is down to the Qoros's 'advanced modular architecture', which will underpin all of its forthcoming vehicles, including planned hybrid and electric cars.

Aiming to appeal to discerning European buyers, Qoros is claiming its new saloon will feature high levels of technology and receive maximum ratings in Euro NCAP safety tests.

"We are a new company without any legacy or previous history, which gives us a great advantage because we are operating with a clean sheet of paper. By recruiting experts in all the essential fields of our operation, we can create a globally competitive product that is designed to fit the lifestyles of modern metropolitan customers," said Qoros vice chairman Volker Steinwascher.

Headquartered in Changsu, China, Qoros is aiming for an initial annual production volume of 150,000 units, rising to a potential maximum volume of 450,000.

Daljinder Nagra

Too many car makers?

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 01:01 AM PST

A new car brand - Quros - launches next year. Question is, do we need yet another car manufacturer?

This time last year I was putting the finishing touches to launching a new brand of car. No really I was. It may only have involved putting a badge on what someone else had built and bringing them over in containers, but that would have been good enough for me. Obviously, nothing came of it, because I'm still here writing nonsense, rather than berating Autocar for trashing one of my inadequate, badly finished and frankly dangerous products in their road test. It's a long story and I may well bore everyone by writing a book about it one day.

Only this week I notice that the Qoros car brand will launch in Geneva next year. Meanwhile Stateside, Suzuki is no more. Clearly there isn't a demand for well made hatchbacks and 4x4s. Which all begs this week's question, are there too many makes of car?

In some respects there can never be enough and the world is a richer place because of Radical, Aerial, Westfield and Morgan. As for Perodua? No one would miss them if they packed their bags and cleared off. Ford? Makes very good cars but no one likes the badge anymore and would rather have a low spec 1 Series than a full house Titanium Mondeo. All Ford needs is to rebrand. I might buy a Mustang Mondeo or a Thunderbird Fiesta.

So the question is, who would you kill off? Who would you rebrand, and for a bit of fun what would your company make and what would it be called?

Eterniti Artemis revealed in production spec

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 12:17 AM PST

Eterniti has revealed its Artemis 'super SUV' in its final production guise at the opening of its first showroom

The Eterniti Artemis has been revealed in its final, customer specification. The Artemis is described as the first "super SUV" offering a combination of "supercar performance and limousine comfort", which is desirable in its core Chinese market.

Its premiere was made as the firm opened its first showroom in Park Royal, north west London.

The Artemis is priced at £210,000, plus taxes. Eterniti says it will appeal to buyers who may be considering the forthcoming Bentley EXP 9F, Lamborghini Urus and Maserati Kubang SUVs, but don't want to deal with a large company.

It also claims a virtually limitless range of customisation options.

Eterniti says the Artemis, which is based on a Porsche Cayenne Turbo, is the first of a number of models from the brand. A second Cayenne-based SUV will launch within 12 months, although there is no word on whether this will be positioned above or below the Artemis.

A supercar will be launched "sometime" after that. Eterniti bosses confirmed this will be developed from scratch.

London-based Eterniti says around 90 per cent of its sales will be in China, and it is in the process of establishing a dealer network there. Wholly-owned dealerships will open in Beijing, Shanghai and Taipei, and a site in Hong Kong is scheduled to open early next year.

The firm is backed by a number of Asian investors. Former F1 driver Johnny Herbert heads the development team, which also includes general manager and Le Mans driver Tim Sugden. Ex- Jaguar XJ220 and Jaguar Group C senior engineer Alastair Macqueen, and Land Rover's former chief interior designer Alan Mobberley, are also behind the project. 

Seat boss confirms new SUV

Posted: 08 Nov 2012 09:54 AM PST

IBX concept inspired crossover gets the green light from VW Group heads

Seat will put its first SUV into production by 2015 at the latest, company president James Muir has confirmed to Autocar.

The new SUV would be in the Volkswagen Tiguan and Nissan Qashqai class, and be previewed as a close-to-production concept at a European motor show "within the next two years", according to Muir, and it would be on sale "within the next three years". 

The look of the new SUV is expected to be inspired by the IBX concept Seat revealed at the 2011 motor show. That concept, said Muir, was created "to show how our new design language would look on an SUV".

But while the IBX was very much a concept car, Muir said the next Seat SUV concept would be "a production statement of intent that will inspire you that Seat can make such a car".

"We will bring an SUV as quickly as we can," said Muir. "After the concept in the next two years, it will be a short time before it comes to market."

Muir said the SUV project had been "signed off in principle" by Volkswagen Group bosses, and "investment is already planned".

He expects annual sales of around 100,000 units for the SUV. Seat's total sales in 2011 were 353,000 units, although that figure should improve from 2013 with an expanded Leon range.

Muir believes an SUV "is a much better brand fit" for Seat than a four-door saloon, a comment that raises questions over whether the Exeo will be replaced in the future.

A smaller SUV based on the Mii and closely related to a production version of the VW Taigun concept is also on Muir's "wish list". "It's on a white cloud at the moment, but it's going to happen."

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series unveiled

Posted: 08 Nov 2012 09:11 AM PST

Hardcore limited-run SLS coupé teased before LA motor show debut

Mercedes-Benz has revealed its new 622bhp 6.2-litre V8-powered SLS AMG Black Series ahead of the powered-up gullwing coupé's debut at the Los Angeles motor show later this month.

Sporting a series of aerodynamic and mechanical developments brought over from the SLS AMG GT3 race car, the headlining AMG model is the fifth in a series of limited production Black Series models.

As tradition dictates, the SLS AMG Black Series is outwardly distinguished by series of exterior styling changes that serve to provide it with a distinctly brawnier appearance than the standard SLS AMG – all in keeping with its circuit bred lineage. Carbonfibre is used extensively for the more aggressive bodywork, including the deep front spoiler, bonnet and rear diffuser. An aerodynamic package is optional, which includes a lathe fixed rear wing.

The rear bulkhead and centre tunnel are also fashioned from carbonfibre, changes which help shed the Black Series' kerb weight by 70kg over the standard SLS AMG to 1550kg.

At the new car's heart is a heavily tuned version 6.2 V8 developing 59bhp than the standard SLS AMG and 41bhp more than the recently introduced SLS AMG GT, with 622bhp delivered at 7400rpm. Torque, on the other hand, has dropped by 11lb ft over both existing gullwing models, with 468lb ft arriving at 5500rpm.

Carryovers from the GT3 racer to the Black Series road car include a larger inlet manifold, high lift camshaft, revised valve tappets, revised oil system, lighter bearings and stiffer conrods. The rev limit is raised from 7200rpm to 8000rpm.

Further engine changes centre around the exhaust system which switches from steel to titanium construction – a move AMG claims not only provides a 13kg reduction in weight and reduced back pressure but an even more striking exhaust note.

Channeling drive to the rear wheels is a modified six-speed double clutch transaxle, set 10mm lower than in the standard SLS to reduce its centre of gravity. Shifts are now faster and more aggressive and torque loading is increased.

Additional driveline developments include the adoption of an electronically controlled differential lock in place of the existing mechanical arrangement. The ESP and race start systems are also revised.

The Black Series can crack 0-62mph in 3.6sec and reach a 196mph top speed, 0.1sec quicker than an SLS AMG GT to 62mph but 3mph slower at the top end due to its increased downforce.

Chassis developments include wider front and rear tracks and a firmed up coil-over suspension system, which also includes greater manual adjustment for the dampers.

Also new are its lightweight 19in front and 20in rear alloy wheels and the adoption of carbon ceramic brakes.

First drive review: Toyota GT86 Evolution

Posted: 08 Nov 2012 06:57 AM PST

Making the Toyota GT86 'better' is a tricky path. More grip and speed isn't necessarily more fun It's our current favourite driver's car. But, great as it is, inevitably the Toyota GT86 will evolve during its production life. More power? Chief engineer Tetsuya Tada hints at a supercharged version, pointing out there's no room for a turbo because the flat-four engine sits too low.Much more imminent, though, are the various options offered by Toyota Racing Developments (TRD), due in the UK early next year, and a possible harder-edged production GT86 with chassis and aerodynamics changes.That's the dark blue car, unofficially called Evolution, you see here, which we've sampled at the scenic ParcMotor track outside Barcelona. An orange TRD car, specced-up with some expensive chassis modifications, made an intriguing comparison.In all, that TRD car had around £16,000-worth of kit including KYB dampers adjustable for ride height and damping force, a 15mm-power ride height on springs stiffened by 20 per cent, an extra carbonfibre front brace for the suspension towers, bigger brakes clamped by Brembo monobloc calipers, a four-tailpipe exhaust system, 225/40 Michelin Pilot Sports on 18in wheels and a racier interior with extra gauges and a concave-topped gearlever knob. Revised spoilers and valances finished the job.Result? It sounds deeper, revs a little better, stops with firm-pedalled authority and goes round corners faster, with sharper steering and a flat, planted feel. Which may be what some owners will like, but the standard GT86's delightfully accessible progression from grip to drift has suffered. It's almost too good, and part of a GT86's point has been lost. In this form it's simply a very precise, very grippy sports coupé, and if you do get it out of shape it gives you less time to think about sorting it out.

Aston Martin Vanquish Volante in development

Posted: 08 Nov 2012 02:42 AM PST

These are the first photos of the Aston Martin Vanquish Volante, which has been snapped during development trials at a test track

The Aston Martin Vanquish Volante has been spied for the first time. 

It is thought the drop-top Vanquish will launch in the first half of 2013, little more than a year after the coupé version went on sale.

Changes to the coupé's lines have been minimal, save for an extended rear spoiler necessary to achieve the same levels of high speed stability as the coupé. That model features advanced aerodynamics, which reduce the need for a bold rear wing.

The Vanquish Volante also appears slightly taller than the coupé. A folding soft-top has been used to reduce weight and lessen the impact of a bulkier rear.

Power will come from the same 5.9-litre naturally aspirated V12 as the coupé. Together with a mild increase in weight, the Volante is expected to provide a 0-62mph time of around 4.5sec and an 180mph top speed. A near-£200,000 price tag is likely.

The Vanquish is based around the fourth-generation VH platform. It makes extensive use of carbonfibre and is said to offer huge torsional rigidity, reducing the need for additional bracing.

The second variant of the new Vanquish underlines the importance of the model to Aston Martin in the face of surging sales from rival Ferrari.

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