Tuesday, December 4, 2012

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Autocar Online - News

Bugatti Veyron forms basis for art car

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 04:48 AM PST

French artist creates unique maths-inspired Veyron Grandsport

A one-off Bugatti Veyron art car has been created by French artist Bernar Venet.

Inspired by his fixation with mathematics, Venet used a Veyron Grandsport convertible as his canvas, daubing the £1 million car with symbols depicting a mathematical equation.

The result is striking, with the burnt orange frontend blending into brown rear haunches.

The interior follows a similar colour scheme, with the equation pattern being applied to the door linings.

The Veyron Grandsport art car will be on display from 5-9 December at the Art Basel show at Miami Beach, Florida.

Daljinder Nagra

Motorists versus cyclists on Britain's roads

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 04:12 AM PST

A fascinating new BBC documentary highlights the uneasy relationship between cyclists and motorists on our streets

A documentary that airs on BBC One at 9pm tomorrow evening makes interesting viewing for anyone who travels to work on either four or two wheels.

Titled The War on Britain's Roads, the programme investigates the often-volatile relationship between motorists and cyclists as they try to co-exist on our streets.

Before I watched a preview of the documentary last night, I was concerned that it might be another anti-motoring tirade, but in fact it is very balanced.

Cyclists, van drivers, cabbies and car drivers speak candidly about their experiences of other road users. We hear about cyclists who ride through red traffic lights – "because it was green for pedestrians" – and see worrying footage of drivers using iPads on the move.

The interviews are interspersed by footage from 'helmet cams', which an increasing number of cyclists are wearing to record the near-misses they have with motorists and the occasional abuse they receive. The footage is compelling and terrifying in equal measure, not least the Glaswegian who has a near-death experience with an inattentive HGV driver on a roundabout.

It is clear that the cyclists are not completely without fault. To me, a couple of the show's main pro-cycling protagonists come across as excessively antagonistic towards other road users. It seems to me that some two-wheeled vigilantes relish going out of their way to propagate conflict and film it on their helmet cameras.

Most, however, come across as sensible, grown-up folk who just want to get from A to B without having their lives put in danger. The prevailing message that comes out of the programme is that most cyclists and motorists are keen to harmoniously co-exist, but the antics of the minority cause bad feeling on both sides.

In my view, the programme is also evidence that bicycles should carry registration plates in the same way that all other vehicles on the road do, as well as factory-fitted lights to a proper, EU-specified standard.

While motorists who commit minor transgressions can be identified on traffic cameras via their car registration plates, cyclists can get away with similar offences in anonymity, a disparity that contributes to the tension between the two groups.

The War on Britain's Roads broadcasts on BBC One at 9pm on Wednesday 5 December

First drive review: Maserati Quattroporte V8

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 04:00 AM PST

Maserati begins a three-year product offensive with a bigger, better Quattroporte featuring a mighty new Ferrari-built turbo V8 It's well past time for an all-new new Maserati Quattroporte. The existing car, although beautiful, has been around more or less unaltered for eight years, which is too long for for most limos. But now there's an all-new edition, revealed last week in Los Angeles and due to reach its first European mainland customers in February and UK buyers next June.Most cars use carry-over pieces, but this new Maser is just about as new as a new car can get: it has a different look, an all-new platform, newly designed engines by Ferrari (entirely different in character to the old ones), considerably different dimensions and even a new role in the marque's future line-up. To cap everything, its launch begins a new phase in the company's history, one aimed at massively boosting total sales from last year's 6200 units to 50,000 units by 2015.

All-new Qashqai to improve on refinement

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 04:00 AM PST

Nissan majors on refinement, not revolution, for its second-generation crossover

Test mules for the Nissan Qashqai, Britain's largest volume production model, have broken cover for the first time ahead of launch in the middle of next year.

The new Qashqai has been styled by Nissan's European design studio in London and engineered at its technical centre in Cranfield. It will improve on its existing brief to mix soft-roader desirability with Golf-class pricing.

The theme has been such a success that more than 350,000 Qashqais are now built each year in Sunderland, more than four times the original number planned.

The new Qashqai is based on a similar footprint to today's model and is understood to feature a new platform with limited carry-over.

The mule caught testing here is said to incorporate the new platform and powertrains built inside a fake body made out of panels borrowed from today's Qashqai.

Given the Qashqai's success, Nissan isn't tinkering with its successful formula. Instead, the focus has been on refining the styling, adding more quality to the interior and improving economy and emissions.

The structure is understood to be lighter, helped by the fact that designers don't need to over-engineer the platform to underpin a heavier +2 model.

The seven-seat +2 is understood to have been dropped. It will be replaced by a seven-seat version of the next X-Trail, shown at Geneva as the Hi-Cross concept. The new Qashqai's styling is unlikely to be influenced by the Hi-Cross.

Inside, the new Qashqai will feature a little more cabin and luggage space, but the main improvements will focus on higher-quality trim, plastics and switchgear.

Engineers at Cranfield are also understood to be packing connectivity technology into the electrical architecture in line with the high percentage of buyers opting for top-spec N-tec+ trim, which features sat-nav, Bluetooth and the 'Around View' 360deg reversing camera system.

The powertrains will be upgraded with downsized petrol engines drawn from the Renault-Nissan range and new Euro6-compliant diesels.

Today's best-selling 115bhp 1.6 petrol is likely to be replaced by a 113bhp 1.2 turbo, while a 1.6 turbo is tipped to take the place of the 140bhp 2.0-litre petrol.

The relatively new 1.6 dCi diesel will carry over unchanged but will have to be upgraded to Euro6 spec, probably with urea-injection NOx after-treatment, a few years after launch.

The ageing 1.5 dCi will eventually be replaced by a  new small-capacity diesel that is under development with Mercedes-Benz.

Facelifted Citroën C3 Picasso on sale

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 03:57 AM PST

Refreshed mini-MPV now in dealerships

The refreshed Citroën C3 Picasso MPV, unveiled at September's Paris motor show, is now on sale.

The new model features a tweaked front bumper and the latest design of the Citroën logo. VTR+ and Exclusive models also receive new daytime LED running lights, while VT versions get a new design of hubcap.

Two new paint finishes have also been added to the range: Ink Blue and Pearlescent White.

Inside, new 'Mistal Mixou' cloth seat upholstery is available as standard on VTR+ models. Full black leather is also available as an option with the Exclusive trim level.

Citroën's eMyWay sat-nav system has been added to the options list. It can be specified in conjunction with a reversing camera and rear parking sensors to aid manoeuvrability in tight spots.

In addition, the HDi 110 diesel engine has received a very slight power increase from 110 to 113bhp, with no fuel economy or CO2 penalty. It has been renamed HDi 115.

Daljinder Nagra

Ford Kuga priced from £20,895

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 03:31 AM PST

New crossover available for less than outgoing model

Ford has announced price and specification details for the forthcoming Kuga crossover. The range will start from £20,895 – £1,000 less than the current model – and rise to £29,795.

It will be offered with Ford's 1.6-litre Ecoboost petrol engine in 148 and 178bhp states of tune. A 2.0-litre TDCi Duratorq diesel is also offered with either 138 or 161bhp.

A six-speed manual gearbox is fitted as standard, with Ford's Powershift automatic transmission available on four-wheel-drive diesel models.

As before, three trim levels will be available: Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X.

The best-selling 161bhp 2.0 TDCi in Titanium trim is available for £25,545, £355 less than before. It's fitted as standard with reclining rear seats, adjustable load floor, Ford SYNC with audible text messaging and Emergency Assist, four-wheel-drive monitor, Hill Start Assist and cruise control.

Options usually seen on more expensive executive saloons can also be specified, including a hands-free tailgate and intelligent four-wheel drive with Torque Vectoring Control.

The new Kuga marks the start of a new Ford SUV line-up for Europe. It will be followed by the Ecosport and much larger Edge, which is already on sale in the United States.

Order books are open now, with the first cars expected to arrive in dealerships early in 2013.

Daljinder Nagra

Kia Cee’d GT engine specs announced

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 02:50 AM PST

Highly anticipated Korean hot-hatch will arrive this summer

Kia has announced engine and performance details for its forthcoming Cee'd GT hot hatch, which will go on sale in June.

Available in both five-door Cee'd and three-door Pro_cee'd guises, the GT uses a revised version of the company's 1.6-litre GDI petrol engine. Featuring a twin-scroll turbocharger and strengthened internal components, the motor develops 201bhp and 195lb ft.

Mated to a six-speed manual geabox, Kia is aiming for a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds.

Revisions to the chassis and suspension will also be made, although Kia has yet to confirm what these will be.

The GT models will get sporty exterior styling to differentiate them from the rest of the range. New grilles and headlamp clusters are fitted within more aggressively sculpted bumpers, while red brake callipers sit beneath unique 18-inch alloy wheels. New paint finishes and LED running lights complete the new look.

The interior benefits from Recaro sports seats, alloy-finished pedals and a unique dashboard surface treatment.

Production of the Kia Cee'd and Pro_cee'd GT will begin in May 2013. Full price and specification details will be announced closer to its on sale date.

Daljinder Nagra

First drive review: Seat Leon 1.2 S

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 02:20 AM PST

Perky, well equipped and spacious, and only let down by a gloomy dash It may be the cheapest model in the range, and a keenly priced base version at that, but this third-generation Leon can crack 62mph in 10 seconds dead, return a claimed 57.6mpg and cruise motorways as quietly as cars costing £10,000 more.

First drive review: Dacia Sandero 0.9 TCE Laureate

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 01:33 AM PST

Flagship version of the Dacia Sandero shows the importance of staying true to your roots. Not bad - but much better, we hope, as a proper £6k car Perhaps the most superfluous first drive review of 2012. Does it really matter how the new Dacia Sandero drives? This is a full-sized five-door supermini, after all, with five seats, four wheels, an engine and a practical boot, that's coming brand new to the UK next January for less than £6000.For those old enough to remember when that seemed a perfectly normal price for a four-metre hatchback, consider this: the list price on an entry-level five-door version of the Vauxhall Corsa, not-so-long ago the most popular car in the Sandero's class in Britain, currently contains five figures. And it starts with a '12'.That being the case, you may think, it's vastly less important how well the Sandero serves its purpose functionally and dynamically than that it simply performs at all. This is a new breed of supermini, you could say. One that, for the time being, is in a class of one on sheer value for money. If you like a bargain, how could you possibly find fault with a deal like that?

Nissan's new supermini spied

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 01:00 AM PST

All new hatchback aims to be a dynamic rival to the Ford Fiesta

Nissan's new British-built supermini is undergoing final chassis testing on UK roads ahead of its launch next year.

An intensive UK road testing program has been budgeted as part of the car's engineering effort to ensure it competes dynamically with Ford's class-leading Fiesta.

Nissan's executive vice-president, Andy Palmer, has previously said he has been "nigh on fanatical" about tuning the hatch's ride and handling to British tastes.

"Hand on heart, I believe it's a credible Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo rival," he said at Geneva in March when the Invitation concept, on which the hatch is based, was revealed.

The photos above, snapped by an Autocar reader, appears to back that up. The lightly disguised prototype was testing on roads close to Nissan's European technical centre in Bedfordshire.

The resemblance to the concept is clear, but with show car features such as the bulging rear wheel arches and twin trapezoidal exhausts toned down for production. However, the car does appear to retain the concept's muscular front wheel arches and intersecting styling lines.

Nissan is understood to have an autumn launch next year in mind for its new hatch, possibly after a Frankfurt show reveal. The Invitation name isn't confirmed for production.

Subaru Forester shines in Euro NCAP safety test

Posted: 03 Dec 2012 09:11 AM PST

Forthcoming SUV awarded full five stars

The new Subaru Forester has been awarded a five-star safety rating by Euro NCAP.

The Forester rated highly in most categories, scoring 91 per cent for both adult and child occupant protection, 86 per cent for safety assist – which assesses on-board safety technology – and 73 per cent in the pedestrian protection category.

It performed particularly well in protecting occupants from whiplash in a rear-end collision, and also from injury in side-impact collisions.

The new Forester, now in its fourth generation, is due to go on sale in the UK in the summer of 2013.

Matthew Burrow

Dacia Sandero Stepway confirmed for May launch

Posted: 03 Dec 2012 07:04 AM PST

Model line-up to include Sandero Stepway crossover

Dacia has confirmed it will launch the Sandero supermini and the Duster SUV in the UK market in January 2013. The newly announced Sandero Stepway crossover will join the range in May 2013.

The Duster and Sandero are now available for pre-order with delivery in the new year. Order books for the Stepway opens on 1 January. All three are aiming to be the cheapest cars in their respective market segments.

The Sandero Stepway is a crossover version of the Sandero hatch. It features cosmetic changes such as wider wheel arches, a chrome grille, front and rear scuff plates and roof bars. It also benefits from an increase in ride height of 40mm.

It will be available with the Renault group's  0.9-litre three-cylinder petrol and 1.5-litre diesel motors. The diesel unit emits 105g/km of CO2 and does 70.6mpg while the petrol manages 52.3mpg and 125 g/km.

The Sandero Stepway is available in two trim levels: Ambiance and Lauréate.

Ambiance models get body-coloured bumpers and mirrors, Bluetooth, metallic paint and a radio/CD player.

Lauréate models are further specified with air-conditioning, full electric windows, heated door mirrors, cruise control, rear parking sensors and Dacia's MediaNav system that features sat-nav and Bluetooth audio streaming.

All Sandero and Sandero Stepway models come as standard with ESC, ABS with emergency brake assist, day-time running lights, driver, passenger and front side airbags and a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty.

The Sandero Stepway range starts at £7,995, risng to £10,795. Owners have the option of extending the warranty to five-years/60,000 miles or seven-years/100,000 miles for £395 and £850 respectively.

Matthew Burrow

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