Saturday, January 12, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Lexus LF-CC coupé concept poised for production

Posted: 12 Jan 2013 04:00 AM PST

Production LF-CC expected in 2015 as both coupé and cabriolet

The dramatic Lexus LF-CC coupé, which made its debut at the Paris show last September, is expected to morph into a showroom model by 2015.

Autocar understands that a senior Lexus engineer has been assigned to the project and serious work will start on production engineering this month. A Lexus source said the company wanted to build a car that was "exciting and emotional" and reflected Lexus's intended future image as 'sporting' brand.

The new model is likely to come in both cabrio and fixed-head forms. It is thought to be based on the same rear-drive platform as the new IS and GS models, probably using the IS's shorter wheelbase but the GS's wider tracks. The styling is believed to be close to the LF-CC concept car's. The interior of the concept will be carried over and it will also be seen in the new IS.

The production version will be a hybrid, most likely using a tweaked version of the GS350h's drivetrain, which currently offers 300bhp.

Lexus sources said the company wanted to slot the new model into the space vacated by the old SC coupé-convertible, which was discontinued in 2010. Lexus's first SC coupé, a fixed-head model, was launched in 1991.

Land Rover considering new crossover

Posted: 12 Jan 2013 01:00 AM PST

Land Rover eyes market expansion with new sub-Evoque compact SUV

Land Rover insiders have confirmed that the company is considering a new 'white space' concept — a model that would push it into new sales territory should the car make production.

The model is understood to be a new crossover below the Range Rover Evoque that design director Gerry McGovern is keen to pursue.

Besides being a new offering, this car is said to explore a new design language. It also features undisclosed new technologies that are likely to significantly improve powertrain efficiency and reduce weight.

Land Rover's challenge, however, will be to source a shared platform enabling this cheaper car to be both feasible and profitable. For Jaguar Land Rover to develop a new premium compact platform on its own would almost certainly be too costly and resource-greedy, even if Jaguar also used it.

The visual flavour of the new model could be derived from the DC100 next Defender concept, which Land Rover says has been very well received. That would produce a bold, chunkily clean-cut look offered by no rival.

Giving it Range Rover sub-branding seems unlikely, the car instead supplementing the Freelander and Discovery, which are being redesigned as more sophisticated leisure market offerings.

The new model's concept has been arrived at using the same market research and creative techniques that yielded the LRX concept car, another white space concept that made production as the Range Rover Evoque.

There's no confirmation of when this compact crossover could appear, but when it does it will almost certainly be as a motor show concept, possibly within two years.

New cars 2013: small family cars

Posted: 12 Jan 2013 01:00 AM PST

Expect an influx of versatile new baby SUVs and crossovers, plus a couple of more stylish offerings

Buyers of small family cars have never had so much choice. No longer relegated to hatchbacks, the market has expanded rapidly in recent years to include ever-popular crossovers and practical four-door coupés.

A decision over which model to plump for is likely to be even harder to make in 2013 with new class entrants such as the Vauxhall Mokka and Suzuki S-Cross making an appearance. The Mercedes CLA will also be a seductively styled new entrant at the premium end of the market.

For those on more modest budgets, the Dacia Duster will provide family-friendly transport with a hint of off-road ability for as little as £8,995. Here is our guide to what is coming when.

Mercedes CLA, Summer

Melding edgy styling with a luxury finish and a sleek, compact saloon body, the CLA is designed to turn the heads of younger car buyers as Mercedes shifts further away from its former staid image.

Having levered open a new niche with the CLS, the Stuttgart car firm will be hoping that the CLA can repeat the sales success it has enjoyed with the larger swoopy four-door saloon.    

The Concept Style Coupé (CSC) shown at last year's Beijing motor show previewed the sporty, CLS-inspired styling direction that Mercedes is taking with the CLA.

According to company chiefs, the production model — which we'll see at the Detroit show later this month — is a few millimetres taller and narrower than the concept. Apart from that, the CLA remains faithful the CSC, with external tweaks limited to different door mirrors and headlamp styling.

The CLA is underpinned by Mercedes' new front-wheel drive MFA platform, seen so far on the A-class and B-class. The BMW 3-series is being targeted as the new car's dynamic benchmark.

The CLA will slot below the C-class in Merc's product line-up in terms of price and features offered. However, the CSC show car suggested that Mercedes' new entry-level saloon will be 47mm longer, a considerable 121mm wider and 47mm lower than the C-class saloon. It has a 2699mm wheelbase, which is 59mm shorter than the C-class's but the same as the A-class's.

The CLA will offer the choice of standard front-wheel drive or optional four-wheel drive, although it hasn't yet been confirmed whether the all-wheel-drive versions will reach the UK in right-hand-drive form. Gearboxes will include a standard six-speed manual and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic as an option.

After the standard car has been launched, expect to see a Shooting Brake variant, a four-wheel-drive version and an AMG-tuned sister car to the A-class-derived A45. The AMG version is tipped to appear at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

The CLA is expected to enter production in June and go on sale in the UK a few months later, with prices starting at around £21,000.

Renault Clio SUV, June

Renault will make a late arrival at the compact SUV party with a Clio-based offering derived from the Nissan Juke platform. The as-yet-unnamed car will blend Clio styling with elements of the Renault Captur concept seen at the Geneva motor show in 2011.

The SUV's engine range is likely to mirror that of the new, fourth-generation Clio hatch, meaning a normally aspirated 74bhp 1.2, turbocharged 89bhp 0.9 and turbocharged 118bhp 1.2 petrols will be offered, and an 89bhp 1.5 as the staple diesel.

Fiat 500L, March

Fiat is continuing to develop a '500 family'. The 500L lays the chic styling of Fiat's supermini over modified Punto underpinnings, with a starting price of £14,000-£15,000 anticipated. The arrival of the 500L in February will precede a seven-seat version (codenamed 500XL) in September, a rugged 500L Trekking by the end of the year and, in 2014, a rival to the Mini Countryman dubbed 500X.

Vauxhall Mokka, January

Deliveries of Vauxhall's compact SUV have already started, although most customers will take ownership of theirs during the next few weeks. Crucially, almost all of the cars destined for private hands will have the suspension and steering upgrades specific to the UK, improvements carried out by the manufacturer after Autocar highlighted the dynamic shortcomings of the European-spec Mokka we tested.

Seat Leon SC, July

Seat plans a mighty Leon push for the year ahead, broadening the model range to include three-door and estate variants for the first time alongside the five-door already on sale.

The front end of the three-door, based on Volkswagen's MQB platform, is lower and wider than that of the five-door. It will have a shorter wheelbase and a more sweeping roofline than the five-door, too. Seat says it will be "very close" to the striking IBE concept (right) from the 2010 Geneva show.

Standard versions of the three-door and estate will be unveiled at the Geneva show in March. High-performance Cupra and Cupra R versions of both body styles will follow.

Kia Soul, Winter

The first-generation Soul helped to enhance Kia's growing reputation as a maker of appealing and distinctive cars. Kia is unlikely to tinker with the eye-catching exterior too dramatically for the all-new version. Spy photos of a disguised Soul testing in Europe recently show a five-door car of similar proportions. The interior is being overhauled for a more upmarket feel. Kia has confirmed a full-electric version for 2014.

Suzuki S-Cross, Autumn

Suzuki's C-segment crossover is touted as a rival to the Nissan Qashqai and will combine sporty 4x4 performance with spacious load-lugging capability. First seen in concept form at Paris last year, the S-Cross is built on a new platform that may later spawn a bigger SUV. The S-Cross is part of a product offensive that aims to launch a new or updated Suzuki model in Europe each year for the next three or four years.

Nissan Leaf facelift, April

The first European versions of Nissan's revised all-electric contender will roll off the production line in Sunderland during the spring.

The new Leaf has already gone on sale in Japan, and that version shows the kind of improvements we can expect to get, including a weight saving of about 80kg, more boot space and an increased battery range.

A new entry-level version with a stripped-down specification is regarded as a likely addition to the line-up, and it is hoped that domestic production will enable Nissan to sell the car for a lower price.

Dacia Duster, January

This is the year in which Dacia aims to plant its size nine firmly up the posterior of the new car market with its headline-grabbing low prices, cheap deposits and strict no-haggle policy. Along with the Sandero supermini, the Indian-made Duster is leading the Renault-owned brand's all-new UK assault.

The compact crossover is available in two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive and with a choice of a 108bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine or 84bhp and 104bhp 1.5-litre diesels. With the most basic model starting at £8995, it's little surprise that Dacia reported strong pre-orders for it. Deliveries started yesterday (1 January).

One for 2014: Mini

The third-generation Mini will take the brand into more family-friendly territory than ever before by offering an even wider range of models and body styles. Following the staple three-door hatch due this year will be no fewer than nine spin-offs, including a new interpretation of the Clubman estate and Mini's take on the MPV, which could wear a 'Traveller' badge.

New cars 2013: small cars

Posted: 12 Jan 2013 12:00 AM PST

Cheap and cheerful, or futuristic and premium…the appeal of small cars is about to go through the roof

The most popular car type in the UK, the small car market is due to accommodate some game-changing new models in 2013. Dacia has launched the UK's cheapest new car in the form of the Sandero, available from £5,995. At the other end of the scale is the Volkswagen XL1, which is expected to retail with a six-figure price tag thanks to its futuristic looks and advanced hybrid drivetrain.

The new year will also see class stalwarts the Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio compete against newcomers like the Vauxhall Adam and Nissan Note. It's certainly an exciting year to be in the market for a new compact hatch. Here is our guide to what is coming when.

Dacia Sandero, January

So, £5995, or £69 a month (plus deposit): whichever way you look at it, the new Dacia Sandero is nothing if not cheap to buy or lease, as long as you're prepared to buy it in no-frills spec with black bumpers and UN-issue white paintwork.

But as anyone knows, cheap can often bring compromises and disappointments. The real headline that should be attached to the Sandero and its high-riding crossover brother, the Stepway, is not its price, but the fact that it can deliver a semblance of quality to go with it.

Stay at entry-level prices and you're in the sweet spot of the range. Based on our early driving experiences in Europe, the Sandero is reasonably comfortable, reasonably refined, reasonably economical and even reasonably engaging to drive. The sum of which makes it a more than reasonable purchase proposition — again, provided you're paying something close to the entry-level price. We say embrace the Sandero's stripped-back charm and buy it in the certainty that you'll be having the last laugh, no matter what the pavement snobs might say.

Move up the spec sheet, however, and the inkling that you might be getting a bargain begins to fade. As ever in life, you get pretty much what you pay for, and what appears to be a more than acceptable minimum standard can soon leave you wondering whether you wouldn't be better off with an equivalent Kia, Hyundai or perhaps Chevrolet instead.

The same reasonable underpinnings remain, but as the equipment and trim loads up to the point where it becomes a car that carries a price into five figures, the Sandero is fighting its rivals (and, by our early reckoning, mostly losing) in terms of all-round accomplishment and kit generosity.

For the canny buyer, though, this narrow line between fine and too far is also part of the Sandero's appeal. Anyone in the know (that's you, if you're paying attention) has an opportunity to buy a car that fits these austere times perfectly. So much so, in fact, that plenty of rival manufacturers are queuing up to follow Dacia's lead.

I reckon that you won't just be buying a car; you'll also be part of one of the biggest shake-ups the car industry has seen in quite some time.

Renault Clio, February

It wouldn't be too dramatic to say that Renault needs the Clio to be a commercial success if the company is to prosper again. And from our first impressions in the Clio Mk4, Renault should be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

The Clio Mk4 moves away from the stodgy sophistication of the Mk3 model and back towards the chic looks and fun dynamics of the first two generations.

The real star is the new 0.9-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine. It seamlessly blends zesty turbocharged performance with four-cylinder-like low-speed refinement. The fun-to-drive traits of the engine are carried over to the ride, handling and steering, too. It all bodes well for the Renaultsport version.

Vauxhall Adam, March

An interesting car, the Adam. And not just for its name and looks. It's entering the style-led area of the city car segment dominated by the Mini and Fiat 500, but whereas that pair trade on their heritage, the Adam has no such predecessor to reference.

Instead, it's being pitched on its seemingly endless customisation options. Our tests of early examples revealed a car that lacks the dynamic competency to match its style, which can't be said of the Mini and 500.

BMW i3, Winter

Think of the BMW i-car sub-brand as a way for BMW to focus on extreme economy in the same way that BMW M focuses on extreme performance. The i3, a five-door electric hatchback with a range-extender option, is the launch model for the sub-brand and will be followed in 2014 by the i8 sports car.

A wealth of new weight-saving tech, including its carbonfibre-reinforced plastic body construction, could eventually filter through to BMW's mainstream models.

Nissan Note, September

The British-built Note will switch from a high-riding hatchback to a more conventional supermini in its second generation. The styling of the new model will stay close to last year's acclaimed Invitation concept car, and extensive testing is taking place on UK roads to ensure it's a competent dynamic proposition.

With Nissan repositioning the current dowdy Micra as a budget car, the Note will become its default Fiesta fighter.

Volkswagen XL1, Winter

The XL1 is perhaps the most interesting small car set to be launched this year. A radically powered and futuristically styled two-seater first seen as a concept car in 2010, the XL1 will be without peer or precedent.

It weighs just 795kg and has a drag coefficient about two and a half times better than a contemporary Golf's. Power comes from a compact hybrid drivetrain. It can travel for up to 22 miles using the 26bhp electric motor and battery, and when charge is depleted a small 47bhp two-cylinder engine kicks in. Combined economy is rated at a startling 313mpg and CO2 emissions are just 24g/km. Production will be strictly limited and the price is likely to be pushing supercar territory.

MG 3, Autumn

The MG 6 is selling in tiny numbers, so the addition of the MG 3 supermini to the range is much needed. Final assembly is tipped to take place in Britain, allowing the 3 to be pushed as a British-built product.

However, it looks like it'll need all the help it can get initially, because just one engine — a 1.5-litre petrol unit — is set to be offered in the line-up.

Renault Zoe, Summer

If electric cars are ever going to take off in the UK, it will be the Zoe that's responsible. The Nissan Leaf and the Renault Fluence and Twizy haven't really troubled the scorers, but the Zoe supermini's blend of great looks, a low purchase price (£13,650) and an operating range that's longer than most (130 miles) gives it the best chance yet of success.

Ford Fiesta, January

Britain's best-selling car has a new look for 2013, and new engines to go with it. The more bulbous front end may not be to all tastes, but the addition of the excellent 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine surely will be to buyers of small cars.

The first tests of the engine in the Fiesta revealed it to combine all that's good about a small petrol engine with the best bits of a diesel. Don't expect the Fiesta to be knocked off its lofty sales perch as a result.

One for 2014: Vauxhall Corsa

A new Corsa is due, but not until 2014. It could be previewed at a 2013 show, though. Expect sharp, Astra GTC-inspired looks, a new range of highly efficient, downsized engines, a continuation of this supermini's fine dynamics and a lighter body.

New cars 2013: SUVs

Posted: 11 Jan 2013 09:30 AM PST

The rise of the 4x4 continues, commencing with the long-awaited arrival of an off-road icon reborn

Despite fierce criticism from some corners in recent years, the SUV market is continuing to grow thanks to rampant demand from Russia and China. A brand new Range Rover brings in a new year full of all new models from class favourites like the BMW X5 and Ford Kuga, as well as new contenders such as the Porsche Macan.

2014 will also see a brand new Volvo XC90, which is finally being replaced after 12 years service. Here is our guide to what is coming when.

Range Rover, January

Two things strike you about the new Range Rover. Before you slip behind the wheel, you wonder how they can possibly improve a vehicle still seen in its present iteration as the best SUV in the world. Then you recall that this machine has already been around for 11 years, which is plenty of time to rethink even the finest of cars.

Of course, this latest model is much improved. The outstanding change, albeit barely visible, is a new bonded, riveted aluminium monocoque chassis, built along Aston Martin lines, which carves out plenty of weight even though the whole structure is stiffer. A new chassis means new suspension, multi-adjustable and by air, of course, but with improved Terrain Response and extra transmission functions.

The weight cuts are impressive, although sometimes overstated. There's a new V6 diesel model, which performs just as well as the outgoing V8 while naturally returning much better economy. If you compare new V6 with old V8, the weight difference is well over 400kg. Compare V8 with V8 and it's more like 230kg. Still, no new model of recent times has had a bigger weight cut, though the Range Rover definitely needed it.  

There's more space, too. Land Rover is determined that the Range Rover should take a bigger slice of the chauffeur-driven market, especially in the Far East and Russia, so the rear cabin is much larger (courtesy of a longer wheelbase, rather than extra overall length) and there's more luxurious switchgear and brightwork for rear-riding plutocrats to play with. The version they'll want has two bucket seats in the rear, not the standard three-person arrangement.

For drivers, the emphasis is on simplification and enhanced quality, with improved materials and more sophisticated colour combinations.

On the road, the Range Rover's reactions and responses are instantly familiar. Which team tasked with replacing such an icon would throw away the commanding driving position, cosseting ride and reassuringly meaty steering? But everything is improved.

Gone is most of the dive under braking and the body roll during fast cornering. You still sit high, but the Range Rover now feels as planted as a saloon as it glides over bumps. It turns more briskly, and the off-road specialists say it goes better than ever where there are no roads at all. In fact, the only thing left to wonder at is how on earth they'll be able to improve it in another dozen years' time.

Porsche Macan, Winter

Porsche will be hoping to replicate the huge success of the Cayenne with its second SUV, the Audi Q5-sized Macan, at the end of the year. Although it's loosely based on the Q5, the Macan has been heavily re-engineered to make it handle and steer like a Porsche.

It will use four-cylinder engines, although the range-topper is likely to be a 370bhp twin-turbo V6. Expect at least two diesels — a 190bhp four and a 250bhp 3.0-litre V6 — and possibly a third, a 350bhp twin-turbo V6.

Porsche reckons the Macan will be capable off road, although it doesn't have a low-range gearbox. It will use finely tuned traction control systems instead, in the same manner as the Land Rover Freelander.

Subaru Forester, Summer

Unlike the new Impreza, which is not destined for the UK, we will get the new Forester here. It's all-new and a little larger than the current car.

Three engines will be on offer: a 150bhp diesel with a six-speed manual gearbox, a 150bhp petrol with the manual 'box or a CVT, and a new turbocharged petrol producing 275bhp and fitted with the CVT.

BMW X5, Winter

An all-new, third-generation X5 is set to be launched at the Frankfurt show in September. The styling isn't expected to stray too far from the current car, and a third row of seats will again be on the options list.

Under the skin, the new X5 will be closely related to the X3. The big news under the bonnet will be a new four-cylinder diesel engine option.

Toyota RAV4, March

The original compact SUV enters its fourth generation with an all-new car. It's a bit less compact these days — 830mm longer than the 1994 original and 205mm longer than the current model. Even so, Toyota claims to have cut the RAV4's weight.

Engines will be a 122bhp 2.0-litre diesel, 148bhp 2.2 diesel and a 149bhp 2.0-litre petrol with a CVT.

Mercedes-Benz GL, March

It's not entirely new — it's still based on the last GL's shell — but Merc's Range Rover rival offers massive refinement, even if the entry-level G350 CDI feels a little underpowered for the GL's considerable bulk.

Later in the year there will be an AMG GL for the first time, using a 557bhp V8. It will cost £91,680 and dispatch 0-62mph in 4.9sec.

Ford Kuga, February

Ford's US-market Escape has been heavily restyled and retuned to create the new Kuga. It addresses the outgoing Kuga's lack of rear passenger room with a longer wheelbase.

Four engines are offered: a 1.6-litre Ecoboost petrol with 148bhp or 178bhp, and a 2.0-litre diesel with 138bhp or 161bhp. Four-wheel-drive Kugas can have a dual-clutch automatic gearbox; front-drivers get a six-speed manual as standard.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Summer

The Outlander PHEV is the first plug-in hybrid SUV to come to Europe, and the first plug-in hybrid that isn't a stand-alone model, like the Chevrolet Volt. This is just a regular Outlander with electric motors and a battery, so it's big and it's practical.

It's claimed to return the equivalent of 172mpg combined, with CO2 emissions of 49g/km. With an electric motor on each axle plus a 2.0-litre petrol engine, it's quick enough, too.

Range Rover Sport, Winter

Based on the new Range Rover's aluminium chassis rather than Discovery underpinnings, the new Sport is going to be lighter and larger than the current model. That also means it will be more expensive, starting at around £55,000, but it's going to be much more sophisticated.

Engines will mostly be shared with the Range Rover, but an emissions-friendly hybrid version is expected from launch. There's also talk of a four-cylinder Sport at some point in the life cycle.

Much of the cabin will be shared with the Range Rover, but the car will keep its high centre console. A seven-seater will follow the five-seat launch models.

One for 2014: Volvo XC90

It seems like it has been around forever, but 12 years on, the XC90 will be replaced. It will be the first Volvo to use the firm's scaleable architecture (so different models can be built on the same line). All versions will use four-cylinder engines exclusively.

Autocar's best drifts

Posted: 11 Jan 2013 09:28 AM PST

The best drifts from the Autocar video archive

Take a walk through Autocar's video vault for the greatest and most extravagant drifts in some of the world's most exotic - and unlikely - cars.

No comments:

Post a Comment