Thursday, January 24, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

GM and Peugeot Citroën to develop next Zafira together

Posted: 24 Jan 2013 04:30 AM PST

Agreement between two firms includes Zafira, Meriva successor and 3008 replacement

More details of the alliance between General Motors and PSA Peugeot Citroën have emerged, including which of the two firms will be developing crucial future products such as the next Zafira.

Answering questions at a meeting in Brussels, GM Europe boss Steve Girsky and PSA chairman Philippe Varin said that PSA would be responsible for providing a platform for "the C-segment MPV for Opel Vauxhall." That car is the next Zafira.

Peugeot is also planning a "C-segment crossover utility vehicle," potentially as a replacement for the 3008, which is likely to be based on the new Zafira platform.

GM will take charge of developing the successor to the Meriva, although it will be based on a PSA platform. It will also create a new B-segment MPV for Peugeot Citroën to sit below the 3008.

Both firms will work jointly on a new generation of low-emission vehicles to occupy the B-segment, as well as a family of high-performance three-cylinder petrol engines based on PSA's EB powerplants, currently used in the 208. 

Nissan Leaf Nismo production confirmed

Posted: 24 Jan 2013 03:21 AM PST

Aesthetically modified Nissan Leaf EV gets the green light, but is unlikely to be sold in Europe

Nissan's performance arm Nismo has created a tuned version of the Leaf – but the model is unlikely to make it to Europe.

Nismo previewed the Nissan Leaf Nismo at the recent Tokyo Auto Salon, and Nismo chief Shoichi Miyatani told Autocar that the model would be going into production in Japan this summer.

The Nismo upgrades to the Leaf include an aerodynamic body kit with styling influenced by the electric Leaf RC racer, new alloys and interior tweaks, but no extra power or performance for the all-electric drivetrain.

Miyatani said the firm would gauge reaction to the model in Japan before committing to a European launch, but added the small volumes would make it hard to justify.

Miyatani also spoke of the future of the Leaf RC race car, which was first revealed at the New York motor show in 2011. The model had been destined for a one-make race series, but Miyatani admitted this was now unlikely.

McLaren reveals official P1 development pics

Posted: 24 Jan 2013 03:04 AM PST

Images of the disguised P1 production car released by McLaren ahead of the Geneva motor show in March

McLaren has offered the first glimpse at the production-ready McLaren P1 – but the model remains completely shod in camouflage ahead of its reveal at the Geneva motor show in March.

The firm has given nothing specific away on the P1, apart from the sole announcement that "a remarkable vehicle is emerging" from its development.

The images do confirm that earlier spy pictures were correct in revealing the design of the production car will stay true to the dramatically sculpted concept first shown at the Paris motor show last autumn.

Design sources have previously stated that the concept is "more than 95 per cent" representative of the production car.

McLaren's legendary attention to detail is evident in the XP-codenamed prototypes, now they can be viewed up close and in detail: the camouflage features the outlines of famous race-tracks from around the world that hold significance to McLaren.

Sources have revealed that power will come from a modified version of the 12C's twin-turbo V8 mated to an F1-style KERS hybrid boost system, with a total power output of about 720bhp. The power-to-weight ratio will be more than 600bhp per tonne.

McLaren has said it is not interested in making the world's fastest or most-powerful production car. Instead, it wants to make "the best driver's car in the world".

The P1 will be left-hand drive only and be offered in a limited production run. It will be priced from £700,000 to £800,000 when sales start later in the year.

New Mini Clubman special edition

Posted: 24 Jan 2013 02:33 AM PST

Mini Clubman Bond Street gets unique detailing and improved standard equipment

This is the Mini Clubman Bond Street, the latest Mini special edition, which is due to be unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March.

Based on the Clubman estate, the Bond Street edition is available with four engine options: 120bhp Cooper and 181bhp Cooper S petrols, and 110bhp Cooper D and 141bhp Cooper SD diesels.

The Bond Street edition is finished in Midnight Black metallic paint with champagne-coloured detailing on the C-pillars, wing mirrors and roof. It sits on black 17-inch alloys with champagne rims and is adorned with 'Bond Street' logos on the door sills and by the indicator repeaters.

The interior is upholstered in Carbon Black leather and features champagne inserts on the dashboard.

Standard equipment includes climate control, an on-board computer with Bluetooth connectivity, automatic wipers and headlights and the Chrome Line interior package.

Production of the Mini Clubman Bond Street commences in March and the model will be available for a limited period only. Prices start at £20,275 for the Cooper Clubman Bond Street, rising to £24,045 for the Cooper SD.

Matthew Burrow

BMW and Toyota confirm co-developed sports car plans

Posted: 24 Jan 2013 02:18 AM PST

A proposal for a co-developed BMW/Toyota sports car is set to be completed by the end of 2013

BMW and Toyota have signed a binding agreement to co-develop a new sports car. The agreement is a joint venture first outlined in a memorandum of understanding in June 2012, which also includes fuel-cell development, research into lightweight technology, and lithium-air battery technology.

The two firms have agreed to "define a joint platform concept for a mid-size sports vehicle" by the end of 2013.

No further details on the sports car have been revealed by either party, but Toyota is known to be keen to launch a successor to the Celica as a bigger brother to last year's GT86. And by the time the co-developed model would make it to market, a replacement for BMW's Z4 would be due. The recent mid-life changes to the Z4 were understood to be minor due to falling sales in the segment making little business case for substantial investment in the current model.

The sports car will make use of the lightweight technology development also outlined in today's agreement. The research will look at vehicle bodies made of "cutting-edge materials such as reinforced composites". The technology is also earmarked for other BMW and Toyota vehicles in addition to the co-developed sports car.

The fuel-cell development project is a long-term one, with the aim of getting the technology to market by 2020. The two firms will co-develop a fuel-cell stack, hybrid system, hydrogen tank, electric motor and battery as part of a complete system. Toyota and BMW also plan to jointly assess hydrogen infrastructure and setting industry standards.

The battery development outlines plans for the firms to co-develop lithium-air battery technology. This has a greater energy density than existing lithium-ion batteries, so the new fuel cells will be smaller and able to store more energy.

BMW and Toyota have a number of other agreements in place as part of their wide-ranging strategic partnership. These include BMW supplying diesel engines for Toyotas in Europe, and a long-term outlook to "next-generation, environment-friendly vehicles and technologies".

Toyota Verso Icon 7-seat 2.0 D-4D - first drive review

Posted: 24 Jan 2013 02:07 AM PST

Facelifted Verso MPV gains appeal with a new look and successful Europe-specific revisions A mid-life facelift of the Verso – the mid-sized, seven-seat MPV Toyota launched in 2009. A styling brush-up brings the model in line with the latest family face – a tweaked nose, sleeker door mirrors, new wheels and integral rear diffuser are the standout alterations – while the interior receives the customary trim material and fabric bump for better perceived quality.The subtle – though highly successful – redesign means the Verso is 20mm longer than its predecessor, but the 2780mm wheelbase (and platform) are unchanged. Adjustments underneath are intended to make the car quieter and more comfortable, with improved sound damping between the engine bay and cabin, and a reduction in wind noise (hence the smaller mirrors, too).Dynamically, the MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension setup has been treated to revised damper settings, and the steering control software rejigged for a more linear response. More definitively, there are now more weld points at the back and extra reinforcement in the front suspension mountings to enhance rigidity.The engine lineup is kept simple: two Valvematic petrols (a 130bhp 1.6 and 145bhp 1.8) are carried over from previous car, as is the 122bhp 2.0-litre D-4D, although the latter has undergone tweaks. They include the introduction of a new variable nozzle turbocharger which helps to deliver an improved 228lb ft of torque 200rpm earlier, as well as various detailed improvements intended to boost fuel economy and refinement.Range-wise, the Verso is carved up into three trim levels: Active, Icon and Excel. A five-seat configuration makes a return, but only in the poorly-equipped base trim. As usual, the middle specification (driven here) offers the best compromise of kit for cash, with 16-inch alloys, Bluetooth, rear-view camera, dual-zone climate control, retractable door mirrors, cruise control and a DAB tuner all appearing as standard.

McLaren P1 shows off its underside

Posted: 23 Jan 2013 12:28 PM PST

Images show McLaren P1's high-tech underbody aerodynamics for the first time

Potential buyers of the forthcoming McLaren P1 have been given a preview of the car at a private event in Los Angeles, where these pictures were taken as the car was hoisted into the hotel location.

The images reveal some of the P1's complex underbody aerodynamics with what looks like a flat underside made entirely from carbonfibre, and two enormous twin diffuser outlets at the rear. A double diffuser also has a pair of inlets under the car to control airflow more efficiently.

The P1's active aero kit is rumoured to include active flaps in the front of the car, ahead of the front wheels. These will open and close to influence airflow under the car depending on its speed.

Much of the car's exterior is designed to maximise airflow through the vehicle to improve cooling, hence the enormous intakes behind the doors. It is also likely to feature air pumps to push air over areas of the car, and adjustable ride height for track use to improve downforce.

The event, held a few blocks away at the McLaren Beverly Hills, previewed the car ahead of its public reveal the production P1 at the Geneva motor show in March. The finished vehicle is expected to look identical to this "design study" but the interior, hidden by the blacked-out windows, will be visible.

Thank you to Dirk A. Photography, owner and photographer at

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

First drive review: Citroën DS4 HDI 160 auto DStyle

Posted: 17 Jan 2013 10:12 AM PST

Super-smooth new diesel drivetrain brings the DS4 more into focus The DS4 is a hard car to figure out. The stylish DS3 supermini makes its own case and the DS5's dramatic styling – inside and out – marks it out as truly individual. The DS4, however, doesn't really paint a clear picture of its intentions.Olivier Vincent, head of the DS4 exterior design, says that the DS4 is meant to have the look of an urban vehicle that can "tackle obstacles" but a car that is also agile. Based on the plain-Jane C4 family hatch, the DS4's differentiation extends as far as virtually all-new body panels (the bonnet and headlights are shared), but the styling is perhaps the least convincing of the DS range.

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