Monday, December 24, 2012

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Ferrari Enzo V12 and KERS details revealed

Posted: 24 Dec 2012 02:23 AM PST

Ferrari officially confirms F150 hypercar powertrain details; KERS tro reduce 0-124mph time by 10 per cent

The new Ferraro Enzo will be powered by a V12 engine supplemented by an F1-style KERS system, the company has finally confirmed.

In its official company magazine, Ferrari confirmed the car, which is codenamed F150, will be powered by an engine evolved from the 730bhp 6.3-litre V12 that powers the F12 Berlinetta. It will be mated to the HY-KERS electric hybrid system, which Ferrari says will cut the 0-124mph (0-200kph) time by 10 per cent and official emissions by 40 per cent; unconfirmed reports suggest the KERS system adds around 120bhp to the engine's 800bhp.

This means a combined power output of more than 900bhp and a 0-124mph time estimated to be just over eight seconds. Ferrari also says the KERS system and its ancillaries do not affect the power to weight ratio, as the power benefit is equal to the additional weight.

Ferrari also says the new Enzo will be no taller than the Ferrari 458 Italia, nor have a longer wheelbase. So far, Ferrari F150 teaser images have revealed only shrouded details of the car.

The final production car is expected to be revealed at next year's Shanghai motor show, although reports also suggest it could be seen slightly earlier, at the Geneva motor show.

McLaren P1 to stay true to concept

Posted: 24 Dec 2012 01:36 AM PST

Spokesman tells potential customers only front bumper and side grille will change

The McLaren P1 production car will stay true to the concept car's looks, with only the front bumper and side grille designs changing significantly.

The news was revealed during a presentation to potential customers in New York, which was filmed and has been posted online. Spy pictures of the production P1 car testing had previously suggested changes from the concept car were likely to be minor.

During the presentation, a McLaren employee confirms: "This car is a production car. This is 97 percent of the car that you will be able to order. The only thing that we will add are some vents to the bumper to get some of the warm air from the radiator coming out from the side."

Top 12 cars of 2012: Volkswagen Golf

Posted: 23 Dec 2012 10:00 PM PST

The tried and trusted Golf formula excels again in the new seventh-generation model

People stopped in the street for this car. I had far less reaction in the new Mercedes SL or Audi RS4 this year, so it seems the Mk7 Volkswagen Golf is a real head-turner.

On three different occasions while floating around the scenic edges of Sardinia in it, putting a video together, passers-by stuck their head through the window and said, "Nuovo Golf?" Then they proceeded to talk some more in Italian, but since they weren't ordering coffee or pizza, I couldn't understand them. Suffice to say that the hand waving and admiring noises suggested they were seriously impressed.

And rightly so. The new Golf is painfully well executed. It's bigger but lighter, more efficient but faster, more heavily equipped but no more expensive.

Of course, it is still predictably evolutionary. It's a Golf, after all. But it does feel of the class above, at least in the maxed-out spec of our 1.4 TSI GT test car. In particular, the optional eight-inch colour touchscreen, which senses your hand movements before you've even touched it, gives the impression of a real, upmarket, executive car finish.

It does things that only the Mercedes S-class & Co would have done a couple of years ago, including offering a wi-fi hotspot in conjunction with your smartphone.

And if all that isn't enough to earn it acclaim, the powertrain certainly is. I played a game for a full hour where I tried to find the flaw in the fuel-saving cylinder deactivation technology. I never managed to; it is almost irritatingly good. And the tech also serves to further improve refinement, which is a truly outstanding element of this car and another characteristic stolen from one or two classes above.

It doesn't stop there. You even get adaptive dampers on the Golf. It doesn't transform the ride and handling, but I came away convinced that it is a good thing on a car used in such a broad variety of countries. What it doesn't do is suddenly make the Golf hugely entertaining. I wasn't thrilled by its scintillating handling, more in awe of its capability overall.

So the Golf is still a little dull, but it's less anodyne than it was. And it is even more faultlessly complete than I had expected – the Swiss Army Knife of everyday cars, with desirability, attainability, efficiency and outstanding refinement all wrapped up in a subtly sharper design.

You could almost resent Volkswagen's relentless success – if only it didn't make such good cars.

New look for Range Rover Sport

Posted: 23 Dec 2012 10:00 PM PST

Forthcoming SUV will have a new style to distance it from the Range Rover

The new Range Rover Sport will have much greater visual differentiation from the standard Range Rover than before, design director Gerry McGovern has revealed.

The second-generation Range Rover Sport is due to be revealed in the middle of 2013 before going on sale at the end of the year.

McGovern said the new car "would be given more personality than before" and it would be "separated a bit more" from the Range Rover.

Insiders have revealed that the new Range Rover Sport line-up will include a seven-seat option for the first time, a model that should sell particularly well in one of the Range Rover Sport's biggest markets, North America.

McGovern didn't confirm it for production but said it would be a "challenge" to make a seven-seat Range Rover Sport. "It's a sporty car with a sleek profile," he said, "so creating it would be a challenge if it is successfully to carry extra seats."

Under the skin, the new Range Rover Sport will be closely related to the new Range Rover. The two will share Jaguar Land Rover's Premium Lightweight Architecture (PLA), a riveted and bonded aluminium monocoque that should help shave about 300kg from a base V6 diesel, taking it to about 2160kg.

An even lighter kerb weight would be achieved by fitting a four-cylinder diesel engine. Insiders have confirmed that this option is under evaluation for the new Range Rover Sport (but not the Range Rover).

Despite the close relationship under the skin, a greater visual differentiation between the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport will come from a more sharply raked roofline, shorter rear overhang, deeper body sides and more aggressive treatment for the front and rear detailing.

Launch engines are likely to include a 255bhp V6 diesel as the entry-level unit, and a 334bhp twin-turbo V8 as the most potent oil-burner. A 503bhp V8 petrol is likely for the Supercharged variant.

The economy champion will be a V6 diesel-electric hybrid, which should have a claimed combined 333bhp, a 0-62mph time of 7.4sec and CO2 emissions of just 169g/km.

Autocar's greatest photos of 2012

Posted: 23 Dec 2012 10:00 PM PST

As the shutters come down on another year, our staff photographers pick their favourite images captured by their own moving shutters

Autocar's world-beating photography is one of the ingredients that keeps Autocar ahead of the competition. Our road tests and features are shot by our very own snappers, Stan Papior and Stuart Price, alongside the best contributors in the business.

Here, Stan and Stuart take a look back through their archives to deliver their favourite shots of 2012.

Meet the snappers:

Stan Papior - Chief photographer Stan recently celebrated 25 years as an Autocar lensman - a remarkable achievement given the gruelling weekly schedule of motor shows, press launches and group tests. He's been responsible for some of the most iconic images ever to grace the pages of this magazine.

Stuart Price - Stuart is never happier than when he's dangling precariously from the boot of a moving photographer's car in a bid to capture that perfect tracking shot. When he's not sharp shooting, he's a long-suffering Aston Villa FC fan and enjoys expounding his theories about the mysteries of the universe.

Storming Skoda is unstoppable in any language

Posted: 23 Dec 2012 04:00 PM PST

Skoda's modest ambition when Volkswagen took it over was to rival Rover and Volvo. These days the Czech brand is a global success story

A couple of weeks ago I was in a snowy (and -8c) Czech Republic to see the unveiling of the all-new Skoda Octavia and, on the following day, sample a two versions of the new car.

Skoda has developed into a huge success for the VW Group. When VW first took a financial stake, the company was relying on the Favorit, a boxy, Bertone-styled hatchback which was pretty crude and underdeveloped, an example of how the countries behind the Iron Curtain had failed to keep up with Western Europe. Its cheapness and basic ruggedness, however, meant that the Favorit did sell in some numbers in the West.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, VW swept in and bought a stake in Skoda in December 1990. Work started soon after on the Felicia, an updated version of the Favorit. By 1993 work had started on the first Skoda Octavia, which was to be based on the Golf 4, but few would have held out much hope for the Skoda brand to amount to much in Western Europe.

At the 1995 unveiling of the Octavia in Prague, the company declared the Octavia would 'compete with Rover and Volvo'. Incredibly, Skoda underestimated its situation. Rover had disappeared ten years later and, today, Skoda is outselling Volvo by a factor of at least 2:1.

According to the latest figures, Skoda sold 873,000 cars between January and the end of November, up 7 per cent on the 817,000 units sold over the same period last year. 2012 sales are up 4.3 per cent across the first 11 months in Western Europe (including up 15 per cent in Germany and a remarkable 30 per cent in the UK. China took 226,000 cars in the first 11 months, a seven per cent jump. The Octavia remains the company's biggest seller, shifting around 400,000 units globally, just less than twice the number of Fabia superminis made.

With a total of around 930,000 sales pencilled in for 2012, Skoda is well on its way to hitting 1.5m units by 2018. Indeed, it could well hit that target early, especially with production of the new Skoda Rapid ramping up and the Europe-only Citigo getting into its stride.

The new Octavia, which is now rolling off the production line at Mlada Boleslav, will add a huge impetus to Skoda in 2013. Only the oddball Roomster is dramatically under-performing in the showroom. Its replacement will add another significant boost to Skoda sales.

One Skoda staffer told me that the Octavia was 'only just outside' the global top-ten best selling cars in the world and that the new model should finally get into the big league. If you have told me that 17 years ago on that evening in Prague, I'd would have confidently declared you barking mad.

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