Sunday, December 23, 2012

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Geneva motor show: VW Jetta-rivalling Qoros GQ3 unveiled

Posted: 23 Dec 2012 06:45 AM PST

China's answer to the VW Jetta will be the first in a series of models from Chinese start-up car maker

China's newest car company, Qoros, has revealed its first model three months ahead of its debut at the Geneva motor show. The Qoros GQ3 is a C-segment saloon to rival the Volkswagen Jetta and will be sold in Europe as well as China.

The GQ3 is the first in a series of models from Qoros, which will be unveiled at six month intervals. The Chinese company describes the GQ3 as having a "unique style matched by high quality materials and finish", with a "spacious interior with high-spec infotainment as standard".

The car has been engineered to achieve a five-star rating from Euro NCAP for safety, and a similar performance in the Chinese equivalent.

Former Mini chief designer, Gert Hilderbrand, heads the Qoros design team that is split between Munich and Shanghai.

The GQ3's low and wide stance is highlighted by its long wheelbase, a sloping roofline that blends into the C-pillars, and a width of 1839mm, one of the widest in the class. Alloy wheels of up to 19inches in diameter can be fitted to the GQ3.

The GQ3's front face will be rolled out across the rest of the Qoros line-up to create a family look. The triple eight-spoke standard alloys will be another Qoros hallmark.

Qoros said the interior was comparable in quality and equipment to its European rivals. Much of the interior's functions are controlled via the standard 8in touchscreen in the centre console, reducing the need for buttons and switches. This screen is also the portal to the car's in-car internet connectivity, and offers full smartphone integration alongside a state-of-the-art navigation system.

The Qoros brand will be targeted at younger buyers, according to deputy chairman Volker Steinwascher.

"During the development of the Qoros GQ3, we directed all our efforts towards the needs and expectations of today's young, aspirational customers," said the former Volkswagen North America man.

"They are very sensitive about design and quality, are highly sophisticated users of technology, and insist on the very best safety standards.  As an entirely new brand, we have the advantage of being able to focus our efforts, without compromise or distraction, on meeting the demands of these customers."

What does Santa drive?

Posted: 22 Dec 2012 10:00 PM PST

Space for presents and somewhere to put Rudolf's food are two of the requirements Santa has for a car. But what would he drive?

Not what would Santa drive. You see, Santa is as real to me as Sir Steve Cropley. I also reckon after all these years he is planning to give Rudolf and his mates a bit of a rest. If that concept is a bit hard to swallow for you ultra traditionalists, then maybe this is what he drives when he isn't delivering prezzies.

The only rule is, it has to be a secondhand car, or a well used classic, as I reckon Santa is a bit of a Bangernomicist.

According to a younger member of my household Santa only needs two doors and it must, be a convertible, just like his sleigh. Most important of all though it has to be quick. So for that reason we can think along the lines of a Jaguar XKS. Mind you a Carrera 4 would be a tad more grippy at the North Pole. 

However, my gut feeling is that Santa has a proper old two door Range Rover. It's a 1972 job so the road tax is free but the tailgate is obviously very, very rusty.

So come on, let's have a bit of fun at this time of the year and put me out of what does Santa drive.

Oh and just in case you wondered, Steve Cropley and Santa have never, ever been seen in the same sleigh together...

Top 12 cars of 2012: Ford Focus ST

Posted: 22 Dec 2012 10:00 PM PST

The latest performance car from the Blue Oval offers mega-hatch performance for the price of a VW Golf 1.4

The new Ford Focus ST wouldn't have had to be good for it to stick in the mind. Fast Fords, teased from the firm's vast machinations only sporadically, are event cars in Britain.

No other brand of hot hatch, save the VW Golf GTI, extracts as much ink from us, and no other brand, save perhaps Renault, earns as much praise.

The ST was different in that it wasn't solely intended for the enthusiastic UK market. The car was largely developed in the US, and rather than throwing its considerable weight behind trick chassis items, Ford's SVT division kept the Focus ST relatively simple and the costs small.

The result is a £22k body blow to its rivals. For the same money that buys a new 1.4 TSI Golf, you can have a 247bhp ST that seats four and hits 62mph in 6.5sec and 154mph, yet managed 40.2mpg on our road test touring run.

But figures, no matter how heart-warming, don't do the Focus justice. Ford has cast its abilities wide, yet somehow managed to prevent them from spreading thin. Strong-willed but soft-edged is how we described it at our Britain's Best Driver's Car event (where it was the only front-wheel-drive model deemed worthy of a place) and that almost says it all.

6.5sec There's mega-hatch pace and dauntless, dynamic handling at one end – fired by 250lb ft of torque from 1750rpm and a zealous variable steering rack – and considerate, tightly manipulated comfort at the other. Under the road test microscope, the beguiling mix earned it 4.5 stars. With any luck, the other half star will be where the next Focus RS goes.

First drive review: Porsche Cayenne GTS

Posted: 22 Dec 2012 10:00 PM PST

Responsive and tactile, the Cayenne GTS is one of the best-driving SUVs anywhere The Cayenne may already be one of the most sporting of all SUVs, but, Porsche being Porsche, there's always room for an even more driver-orientated version, right? The new GTS version of the current Cayenne – driven for the first time on British roads – revives a formula that proved popular in the previous generation, slotting into the line-up between the standard petrol V8 S and the ballistic Turbo models with a more focused chassis set-up that promises to make it the best of the lot to drive.With a body kit that includes the Turbo's big-intake front bumper and a sizeable roof spoiler, as well as blacked-out exterior trim, the GTS is as close to handsome looking as a Cayenne is ever likely to get, and unmistakably a Porsche when specified in a bright exterior colour with black wheels. Inside, the cabin is covered in leather and Alcantara with contrasting stitching, including the superb sports front seats, while the rear bench is shaped to seat two rather than three.

2012's most important news stories

Posted: 22 Dec 2012 10:00 PM PST

A look back at the top 10 most popular news stories on over the past 12 months

From the most powerful Ferrari in history to brand new Saabs being sent to the crushers by receivers, the car industry had enough big news stories in 2012 to stay firmly in the headlines in spite of a Diamond Jubilee and a home Olympics.

Web traffic on Autocar this year has smashed all previous records, and below are your top 10 most viewed news stories outside of motor shows from the last 12 months.

New Range Rover pictured

The new Range Rover was by far and away the biggest news story and most in-demand new car on the Autocar website this year (three of the top five most looked at news stories had 'Range Rover' in the headline). After frequent spy shots throughout the first eight months of the year gradually stripped away the camouflage and Land Rover bosses teased info on what was to come, the new Range Rover was finally officially seen at the Royal Ballet School in Richmond Park in August before its full reveal at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

VW gets radical with new Mk7 Golf

Intriguingly, it was the details of the Golf's new MQB platform and engine line-up in February that was looked at more by Autocar readers than the full reveal of the car at the Paris motor show in September (although there wasn't much in it). February's news story revealed for the first time the sheer scale and adaptability of the MQB platform, something that will underpin the core of the Volkswagen Group's small to mid-size models for a decade.

New McLaren P1 £800k supercar revealed for Paris show

For almost two decades we have waited for a successor to the iconic McLaren F1, a supercar widely regarded as perhaps the finest of all time. That moment arrived in the weeks before the Paris motor show, when, the first pictures and sketchy initial details of the P1 were released. Subsequent spy pictures have revealed the design of the P1 concept will largely carryover to production, but we'll have to wait until the Geneva motor show in March to find out just what lies beneath the P1's skin.

Porsche Macan blasts in with 370bhp

The Macan has to yet to be seen beyond official Porsche design sketches, but Autocar's scoop in April revealed some of Porsche's new Audi Q5-based SUV's secrets. The highlight beneath the bonnet of the Macan will be a new twin-turbo V6 petrol engine in the range-topper with as much as 370bhp. At the other end of the engine range will be four-cylinder units, not seen in a Porsche since the 968 in the mid-1990s.

Mercedes A-class - full picture gallery

The Mercedes A-class was one of the stars of the Geneva motor show in March, and interest in the new Audi A3 rival certainly didn't wane in the weeks and months after the show. In late March, we published full spec details and a comprehensive picture gallery of the new hatch, which went onto become the most read A-class news story of the year. On this evidence, expect the AMG version – the A45 AMG due for reveal in March – to make the news highlights of 2013 list.

Saabs on way to crusher

Fresh from Saab's demise in late December, a succession of bad news stories followed in January as the company was carved up by receivers. It was news that up to 100 Saabs were to be sent to the crushers that prompted the biggest response from readers, both in terms of web traffic and outpouring of emotion on the Autocar forum. Among the new Saabs that met an untimely end were examples of the 9-5 estate and 9-4X SUV.

Ferrari F12 revealed

The F12, successor to the Ferrari 599, was one of the supercar hits of 2012. In its public debut a few days before the Geneva motor show in March, Autocar readers ogled over its looks and drooled over its spec sheet on the forums like few other cars this year – more than 200 comments were passed on the new 730bhp V12-powered F12. Buyers liked it to, as Ferrari reported taking more than 360 deposits on the car on the Geneva motor show stand, before any test drives.

New Jaguar F-type revealed

It was the sole first image released by Jaguar of the new F-type that got the greatest response from online Autocar readers this year on Jaguar's decades-in-the-making sports car. An early reveal of the F-type on a US website forced Jaguar into making official a sole image of the car, although full details were to remain a mystery until the Paris motor show a week later. Most loved the looks, a few didn't, but what wasn't questioned was the idea of a contemporary Jaguar sports car making a return to showrooms after a near 40-year hiatus when the iconic E-type departed.

16 new Land Rovers revealed

Hilton Holloway dramatically laid bare every new Land Rover model due over the next decade, which will help the firm double its sales by 2020 as part of the biggest investment the UK car industry has ever seen. More Range Rovers, a new Defender family and expanded Freelander line-up were among the biggest revelations, with the most intriguing new model perhaps a new four-metre long baby Range Rover.

Alfa readies 3-series rival for 2014

This year has been a quiet one for Alfa as it gears up for the launch of the 4C next year, the start of a new model blitz that will give Alfa's model line-up much needed strength in depth beyond its current tiny two-car range. The most important of all the models will be a BMW 3-series rival currently known as Giulia. Extensively detailed by Hilton Holloway in August, the new Giulia will be offered as both a saloon and an estate and is now close to being finally signed off by Alfa bosses following lengthy delays.

Ford Ka unlikely to be replaced

Posted: 22 Dec 2012 10:00 PM PST

End of the line for Ford's Ka city car due to lack of global compatibility

The Ford Ka is highly unlikely to see a third generation. According to Ford of Europe design boss Martin Smith, the city car "produces absolutely no profit" and doesn't fit in with the firm's global 'One Ford' ambitions.

"It won't pass a US crash test, it was designed too narrowly to suit European tastes and it's only built in one place. It'll get a light mid-life refresh but, as things stand, I can't see a life for the car much beyond that," he said.

However, Smith did hint that there was a great deal of interest internally in a more diverse range of superminis that could be used to return Ford of Europe to profitability.

"[Ford president and CEO] Alan Mulally's favourite kinds of car of the moment are small cars with global reach that we can create a high yield from," Smith said. "The Ecosport is the perfect example: it's simple, cheap to make and could sell the world over."

Will it drift? Jaguar XKR-S - blindfolded

Posted: 21 Dec 2012 04:08 AM PST

Can Sutcliffe drift an XKR-S blindfolded?

The Jaguar XKR-S is an eminently driftable machine, but is it so easy to get sideways that you could do it bllindfolded? Steve Sutcliffe gives it a go.

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