Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Audi plans more digital showrooms

Posted: 23 Jan 2013 07:05 AM PST

Audi to roll out new digital showrooms after its first store posts significant sales results

Audi is set to roll-out more versions of its digital showroom in the UK and elsewhere in the world, after its pioneering store in Piccadilly, London recorded remarkable sales results in its first six months.

The showroom, which allows visitors to digitally view the entire Audi range, as well as see the exact car they spec, uses large computer screens that fill much of the showroom's floor space.

Details such as drivetrain, bodyshell or LED tech can also be presented using interactive software that Audi feels is best able to explain the technology involved.

The showroom, which has been open just over six months, has already recorded a doubling of sales year-on-year, according to Audi UK boss Martin Sander, with 80 per cent of customers new to the brand, 80 per cent of the digital showroom's customers buying without taking test drives of their car and the kit levels of the cars ordered rising substantially.

"Traditionally, that showroom sold cars to people who lived in the area, but now it has a far wider customer base, and the digital experience is really capturing the imagination of customers," said Sander.

"It is an experience we hope we can take to other dealerships on a smaller scale, as well as in to major cities elsewhere globally."

The next full digital showroom is expected to be in Beijing. Audi estimates that it will have opened 20 city-centre stores worldwide by 2015.

Quick news: VW and Seat range updates

Posted: 23 Jan 2013 06:06 AM PST

New trim specs for the Seat Mii and Ibiza; Volkswagen cuts CC prices

Volkswagen has introduced a range-topping R-line trim specification to the Touareg model line. Starting from £44,025, R-line models get 20-inch alloy wheels and unique front and rear bumpers and sporty interior trim highlights for a more aggressive look. VW has also dropped the price of its CC four-door coupé, with every model now at least £470 cheaper than last year.

Seat has added a new Toca specification to its Mii and Ibiza ranges. Based on the SE trim level, Toca models come with Seat's Portable System, a touch-screen device that includes sat-nav, Bluetooth connectivity, trip computer and Micro SD music storage. Prices for the Mii Toca start at £8,995, while the Ibiza Toca is available from £9,995.

New Kia concept points to Juke rival

Posted: 23 Jan 2013 03:00 AM PST

Two-door hatch will influence design of future Kia models

Kia could be planning a new hatch to rival the likes of the Nissan Juke and previewed by this new concept car, due to be unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March.

These are the first pictures of the as-yet-unnamed concept, and they show a car with deeply sculpted styling, especially around the wide rear wheelarches and the front bumper. The two-door hatch has twin rear tailpipes and what appear to be carbonfibre elements in the rear diffuser.

The styling of the concept will also influence future Kias, and it's thought that the strongly styled rear arches and front end design will be seen on production Kias – the next Sportage, due in 2015, could be the first to feature the look.

Kia has been steadily moving itself upmarket in the last five years, and the addition of a car designed to appeal to younger, more affluent buyers would fit well with the company's aspirations.  

Bentley enhances Mulsanne specification

Posted: 23 Jan 2013 02:07 AM PST

Increased luxury, more tech and new colours for Bentley's flagship Mulsanne limousine

The Bentley Mulsanne is to benefit from a new range of luxury features. The new specification will be unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March.

A new Comfort Specification adds new head and footrests and a number of duck-down filled loose cushions. Electrically operated privacy curtains are also available as part of the package, which integrate neatly into the doors and rear windscreen surround.

Entertainment Specification sees the Mulsanne kitted out with twin eight-inch LCD monitors, incorporating a 20GB hard disc and DVD player. Rear picnic tables designed to incorporate an iPad and wireless keyboard are also fitted.

Internet connectivity is provided by the Mulsanne's new wireless hotspot capability.

Other additions include three new paint choices – Dark Cashmere, Portofino and Damson Red – and a range of bespoke fitted luggage.

The new options will be available to order from April. The Bentley Mulsanne starts at £225,900.

Daljinder Nagra

Aston Martin Rapide S revealed with 550bhp

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 03:00 PM PST

Four-door Aston Martin Rapide is given a significant mid-life makeover that includes an 80bhp power boost

The Aston Martin Rapide has received a considerable power hike as part of a comprehensive mid-life refresh for the four-door saloon.

The extra power is reflected in the Rapide's new name - it's now known as the Rapide S - and means that the emphasis is now fully on making it a four-door sports car rather than a more luxurious, everyday GT.

The biggest changes for the Rapide S are to its naturally aspirated 5.9-litre V12 engine. Power is up by 80bhp to 550bhp and peak torque jumps by 20lb ft to 620lb ft. Low and mid-range torque is said to have been improved considerably more than the headline peak figure suggests.

The extra power means that the claimed 0-62mph time for the Rapide S is 4.9sec, which is 0.3sec quicker than the outgoing Rapide, and top speed is up from 188mph to 190mph.

Despite the extra performance, fuel economy has improved by 0.9mpg to 19.9mpg. CO2 emissions drop from 355g/km to 332g/km.

Exterior styling changes are minimal, the most recognisable differences being a new front grille and a rear lip spoiler. A Carbon Exterior Pack can be specified, which means that the front splitter, rear diffuser, exterior mirror housings and rear lamp infills are made from carbonfibre.

Minor interior tweaks include a new piano black trim and optional 'Duotone' red and black leather upholstery. The rear seats can be folded flat to almost treble the load volume to just shy of 900 litres.

Like the rest of Aston's range, the Rapide S is based on its familiar VH structure. This gets the latest 'Gen4' modifications, including updated adaptive dampers with three distinct modes (Normal, Sport and Track), revisions to its DSC system and adjustments to meet the latest safety regulations. The engine is also mounted 19mm lower than before.

The new Rapide S goes on sale next month, at prices expected to be close to the current car's £150,000 despite the increase in performance.

Quick news: Free Mitsubishi 4WD upgrade; Nissan Leaf price cut

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 08:18 AM PST

Mitsubishi offers free four-wheel drive on selected ASX models; Nissan cuts £2500 from the price of a new Leaf

The price of a new Nissan Leaf has been reduced by £2500. The Leaf is now available from £23,490, or £239 a month on Nissan's new 9.6 per cent PCP and HP deals.

Mitsubishi is offering a free four-wheel-drive upgrade on its ASX crossover. Available on mid-range and top-spec ASX3 and ASX4 models, the upgrade is worth £2,150. Priced from £18,359, the Mitsubishi ASX is also available with interest-free finance.

The Skoda Yeti range has grown to include a new top-spec trim level. Called Laurin & Klement – after the marque's founders – the new model features an additional £4000 of extras fitted as standard over the previously range-topping Elegance trim. Additional equipment includes inscripted front mud guards, 17-inch polished alloy wheels, leather upholstery, Park Assist, panoramic sunroof, sat-nav and DAB digital radio.

Seat has introduced two high value Copa trim levels to its Altea and Altea XL models. Called S Copa and SE Copa, they add up to £1,500 of additional equipment over base models at no extra cost, including Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, front fog lights, DAB digital radio and a five-inch colour touchscreen display, depending on which variant is chosen.

Daljinder Nagra

Peugeot-Citroen unveils compressed air hybrid tech

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 07:31 AM PST

PSA-developed Hybrid Air system which replaces electricity with compressed air for 81mpg

Peugeot Citroën PSA has unveiled a new hybrid drivetrain that uses compressed air instead of electricity to provide a secondary source of propulsion. Called Hybrid Air, the new technology could allow a car the size of a Citroën C3 or a Peugeot 208 to emit as little as 69g/km of CO2.

Hybrid Air consists of a conventional petrol-powered internal combustion engine, mated to a bespoke epicyclic transmission, assisted by a hydraulic motor that's powered by compressed air. The motor and a pump are positioned in the engine bay, fed by a compressed air tank underneath the car, running parallel to the exhaust. Using regenerative braking to generate energy, the motor and pump can refill the tank with air.

It can run on the petrol engine or air power alone, or a combination of the two. Air power would be employed solely for urban use, automatically activated below 43mph, and available for "60 to 80 per cent of the time in city driving," claims PSA. Three drive modes are provided: full petrol engine, combined (ICE and hybrid) and zero-emission.

The system adds about 100kg to the weight of a traditional ICE powered small car, which is around half that of a conventional hybrid system. PSA claims it uses very simple, serviceable parts, with no rare metals like lithium-ion. The goal is to devlop a 'global' system that's cheaper than existing hybrids to appeal to China and Russia as much as European markets.

The firm also cites a 45 per cent improvement in fuel consumption over a conventionally powered car with an equivalent power output, and a 90 per cent increase in range. 

PSA is looking to develop the technology for B- and C-segment cars, with petrol engines between 82 and 110bhp, as part of its drive to develop a car with 2l/100km (117mpg) fuel consumption by 2020. It also wants to use Hybrid Air in small vans. The first production models are planned for 2016, but both Peugeot and Citroen could display cars fitted with the technology at the Geneva motor show.

We’re going to need a bigger tractor…

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 07:01 AM PST

Four-wheel drive? Winter tyres? Sometimes there's no substitute for a dirty great big piece of agricultural equipment

I know everyone has their snowed-in, stuck-in-a-10-foot-drift, built-a-20ft-snowman story, but I think I can trump the lot.

Last night, a 40-foot articulated lorry came to stay. It was seven hours late and had a Slovakian driver who was keen to unload. That was fine, but there was a major language barrier. So instead of reversing into the drive like it says in the Heavy Goods Vehicle Driver's Manual, he drove onto an ice and snow covered incline.

You can guess the rest. Well you can't. First of all he couldn't move. Then I offered to hitch up the Land Rover Series 3. There was smoke, the smell of a disintegrating Landie clutch and actually a bit of movement in the right direction. Unfortunately he then decided to drive a tad further forward off the Tarmac and onto the grass. Admittedly under snow, but he should have realised having scouted around the front first, so obviously the cab sunk in.

I have a low-quality video of my Land Rover pulling the lorry, basically a set of small lights failing to shift the fairly lit bed. I probably won't bother YouTube with it. That meant the Slovakian spent the night in our drive occasionally firing up the engine to warm his cab.

At first light, 7am, there was more bad news, the diesel pipe had been dislodged by the off-road excursion and there is now goodness knows how many litres off the stuff on my lawn. With a torch, a pair of pliers and a cable tie we managed to stem the flow.

When my farmer mate turns up with his tractor, he shakes his head and I utter the line, "We're going to need a bigger tractor". Lucklily his neighbour has just that, but sadly I missed the massive four-wheel drive doing it's stuff on account of the school run. Apparently it took just a couple of seconds to pluck the lorry from its resting place.

And the moral of this story is? Don't let a lorry drive onto your drive? Learn Slovakian? Nope, always make sure that you know someone who at least knows someone else with a bloody great four-wheel-drive tractor.

So snowbound Autocarists, top that…

Volkswagen Beetle 2.0 TSI Turbo Silver DSG: first drive review

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 05:40 AM PST

New GTI-engined Beetle lacks the refinement and handling finesse of its European siblings A new addition to the VW Beetle's UK range. This turbocharged 2.0-litre model adds a little bit of pace and pep to the line-up, with 197bhp and 206lb ft of torque, not to mention an independent multi-link rear suspension system in place of the torsion beam you'll find on any less powerful Beetle.

Volkswagen Up ASG: First drive review

Posted: 17 Jan 2013 09:58 AM PST

Automated manual gearbox changes the Volkswagen Up's character almost beyond recognition This is a two-pedal UP. On the face of it, the VW Up's five-speed automated manual gearbox – labelled ASG, the German initials for 'single-clutch automatic' – seems a very enticing choice for the acclaimed city car.According to VW, it improves combined fuel mileage of the 74bhp model by better than four per cent and shaves three per cent off the already low CO2 output, while damaging neither acceleration nor top speed. It carries a reasonable-sounding premium of £595.

Volkswagen Golf

Posted: 16 Jan 2013 09:48 AM PST

The Volkswagen Golf, Europe's best selling car enters its seventh generation The new Golf, then. One of the few cars that can simply be itself, and one of the few that defines a genre. It's not 'Hyundai/Ford/BMW/whoever's new Golf rival'; instead, it simply is what it is: the epitome of the small family car and the one by which others are judged.It arrives here in Mk7 form, a new Golf generation on a platform that carries great responsibility for the Volkswagen Group at one of the most challenging times in the industry's history.The immediate forecast for the European economy is gloomy, and while weight and emissions must come down, customer expectations of perceived quality will not be allowed to fall with them.Developing cars is as difficult and expensive as it has ever been, and few car makers are able to dedicate the same resources to it that VW can. The latest Golf, therefore, doesn't arrive like a desperate lunge from the punch-drunk; it is instead the dominator reinforcing its position of power.Thus far our first drives and group tests have suggested as much but, here for the first time in right-hand-drive form and full UK spec, how will it fare in the toughest test in the business?

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