- BMW 5-series facelift: new spy shots
- First drive review: Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI S
- Shanghai Auto Show 2013 dates
- Frankfurt Motor Show 2013 dates
- Quick news: Opel management shuffle; new Kia special editions
- Electric racing cars? No thanks
- Picture special: McLaren turns 50
- A major technical breakthrough... possibly
- Land Rover Freelander 3 — latest spy pics
Posted: 26 Jan 2013 04:00 AM PST
New spy shots of the facelifted BMW 5-series saloon and Touring show the car cold weather testing
These are the latest images of the BMW 5-series facelift, which has been spotted cold weather testing in the Arctic circle. A production version is likely to make its public debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September.
While development of the new car still has the good part of a year to run, changes being made to the 5-series appear less significant than those adopted by the new E-class.
Externally, the bumpers are more heavily structured and the lamp graphics revised, but on the evidence of the prototypes caught testing, the existing bodywork is largely untouched. Revisions to both bodystyles are limited to a new grille, lights and front and rear bumpers.
Inside, BMW plans to provide the 5-series with the latest version of its iDrive multimedia system and a configurable instrument display already recently introduced on the facelifted 7-series.
On the engine front, the twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol engine in the 535i is set to gain an added 14bhp, lifting its reserves to 316bhp in the new 540i model.
The twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine in the 550i is also expected to get added firepower. Munich insiders have already confirmed a 43bhp increase to 444bhp.
Posted: 26 Jan 2013 01:00 AM PST
Entry-level Volkswagen Golf offers impressive frugality and standard equipment, but the petrol models make more sense The cheapest Golf in its most frugal format. Historically, Volkswagen buyers eschew the entry-level S trim for the better-equipped SE, but with the standard kit now including the excellent 5.8-inch multimedia touchscreen, DAB tuner and Bluetooth connectivity, the base model deserves closer inspection.In this case it is powered by the manufacturer's 1.6-litre diesel engine, itself freshly updated for installation in the new flagship. The oil burner adds a £2.5k premium to what you'd pay for the petrol-driven 1.2-litre TSI, but for that sum you get 74.3mpg potential and CO2 emissions below 99g/km courtesy of stop-start and all the other eco trimmings that were previously reserved for BlueMotion-branded cars.All reasons to be cheerful, but underneath there is a prospective rub: rather than blessing its entire range with the sophisticated multi-link rear suspension, Volkswagen has opted to save some money by fitting its lower-powered Golf's with a cheaper torsion bar instead.There's also some box-ticking to do right out of the gate. The S trim comes on 15-inch steel wheels as standard, which is essentially like equipping you car with four discs of sell-on price kryptonite. Business buyers and rental companies will turn the other cheek, but if it's your own money going on the deposit, we'd recommend you opt for an £825 upgrade to 16-inch alloys, forcing the price for the five-door model just north of £20k.
Posted: 25 Jan 2013 05:00 PM PST
The next Chinese Auto Show will take place in Shanghai in April 2013
The Shanghai motor show will take place between April 21 and 29 next year.
The biennial show which alternates with the Beijing auto show. China's exploding domestic market means a number of high-profile launches are expected.
Chief of these important launches is likely to be the Audi S3 saloon, which is expected to be a huge seller in the North American market, as well as China.
Autocar will be in Shanghai to bring you the latest up-to-date details of the event. Check back for the latest news.
Posted: 25 Jan 2013 05:00 PM PST
The Frankfurt Motor Show will run through the middle of September 2013
The 2013 Frankfurt motor show opens its doors to the public between September 12 until September 22 2013. Autocar will be reporting live from the event on September 10 and 11 from the show's press days.
BMW will show a gentle re-working of its big-selling 5-series saloon and Touring models.
You can find the Frankfurt Motor Show at Mess Frankfurt, Ludwig-Erhard-Anlage 1, Frankfurt. Autocar's photographers and journalists will be present and bringing you the latest coverage of the event.
Posted: 25 Jan 2013 09:32 AM PST
Vauxhall Motors chairman moves to Opel Management Board and Kia releases special editions of the Picanto and the Soul
Duncan Aldred, managing director and chairman at Vauxhall Motors, has been named acting Opel/Vauxhall vice president of sales, marketing and aftersales, following the resignation of Alfred Rieck. He will also continue in his day-to-day role at Vauxhall Motors.
Kia has added a new colour and a special edition to the Picanto range. The five-door model is now available in Fuchsia Blush for an extra £445. A special edition three-door model called Picanto White has also been launched. It's fitted with alloy wheels, Bluetooth and automatic air conditioning, and starts at £11,745 for the 1.25-litre manual and £12,345 for the automatic.
Kia has added another special edition to the Soul model line-up. The 'Soul Shaker' comes with air conditioning, reversing camera and Bluetooth. It is available with a 1.6-litre petrol or 1.6-litre diesel engine. Prices start at £15,295.
Posted: 25 Jan 2013 09:25 AM PST
Unless they sound good or find a way to pass each other, electric racing cars are due to fail
Heard of Formula E? It's an FIA-backed race series due to start next year, with 10 two-car teams racing on mainly urban circuits.
Which all sounds nice in theory - 198mph single seaters racing past iconic landmarks in Rome, Rio de Janeiro, and possibly London, Beijing and Los Angeles should the appropriate deals be struck with the relevant authorities – until we get to the elephant in the room.
Noise. Surely the sound of the engines is at least half the fun of watching racing? Formula E is talking about creating a synthesised noise, but I'll eat this blog if they find a way to replicate the scream of a V8 Formula 1 engine, or even a Formula Ford.
I had a first-hand experience with an electric racing car this week when I drove the Nissan Leaf RC. It was impressively stiff and handled beautifully, but its high-pitched drone and whirr from the electric motor sounded rubbish.
It wasn't especially quick either; the torque characteristics of an electric motor might lend themselves nicely to impressive acceleration, but there's no extra shove in the mid or top range. This doesn't exactly bode well for passing.
Nissan seems to have realised this too, quietly dropping plans for the one-make race series that the Leaf RC had been destined to appear in in the US and Japan. The noise – or rather lack of – is privately cited as a big reason why.
So, is Nissan onto something by confirming what we all knew already? Or will Formula E be a success and have me reaching for the salt and pepper?
Posted: 25 Jan 2013 08:32 AM PST
It is 50 years since Bruce McLaren founded his eponymous motor racing team. Autocar takes a pictorial look back at its rise from a tiny racing team to an iconic road car manufacturer and one of the most successful F1 constructors
Founded as Bruce McLaren Motor Racing in 1963 so its charismatic Kiwi founder, already a successful Formula 1 driver, could compete in the Australian Tasman Series, the company first operated from a small south London lock-up.
By the second half of the 1960s, the team was enjoying success on two fronts. In Can Am sportscar racing, McLaren and team-mate Denny Hulme dominated with cars such as the monstrous Chevrolet-powered M6A, M7 and M8 machines.
The team entered Formula 1 in 1966, when Bruce McLaren left Cooper, the team with which he'd won three grands prix, to race cars bearing his own name. The first race was the Monaco Grand Prix in 1966, but McLaren's car let him down in the early stages. The first victory came when McLaren guided his Cosworth-engined M7A to success in the Belgian Grand Prix, while Hulme added two more wins later in the same season.
McLaren had arrived, but tragedy struck when the team's founder was killed in a Can Am testing accident at Goodwood. Teddy Mayer, who had been involved with the running of the team since its early days, took over as team principal and led McLaren to its first F1 constructors' title in 1974, while Emerson Fittipaldi secured the drivers' crown in the same season.
James Hunt secured further silverware for McLaren in 1976, winning the championship in the last race of a controversial and hard-fought season during which the first signs of an intense rivalry between McLaren and Ferrari began to emerge.
Despite a fairly constant stream of race wins, in the early 1980s the team was encouraged by chief sponsor Phillip Morris into a merger with the Project Four Racing concern run by a certain Ron Dennis, who was installed as team principal.
This marked the beginning of McLaren's most successful run in the sport. The team became one of F1's pioneers and was the first to introduce composite structures into the sport. Armed with potent TAG-badged (but Porsche built) V6 turbocharged engines, McLaren scooped the drivers' title in 1984 (courtesy of Niki Lauda) and 1985-86 (thanks to Alain Prost).
A new union with Honda prompted another spell of dominance. Ayrton Senna joined Prost for the 1988 season, when the pair won 15 out of 16 races. Senna won squeezed out Prost and established himself as McLaren's number one driver, adding world crowns in 1990 and 1991 to the one he claimed in 1988.
McLaren started a long collaboration with Mercedes in 1995. Further world titles followed for Mika Häkkinen, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, but by then the company had developed into more than a racing team.
In 1993 McLaren revealed the F1. Designed with the aim of creating the ultimate road car, Gordon Murray's mid-engined supercar pushed the envelope, not just in its outright performance, but also in its design. The first production car to use a carbonfibre monocoque, the F1 also used gold leaf as engine bay heat insulation.
It entered the history books as the fastest-ever production road car with a top speed of 242.95mph, a record that wasn't beaten until 2005 when the Bugatti Veyron reached 253.81mph. And even then, it required four more cylinders, four more turbos and an extra 369bhp than the McLaren. To this day the McLaren F1 remains the world's fastest naturally aspirated car.
A follow-up road car didn't appear until the Mercedes-McLaren SLR in 2003. Developed in a joint venture between the two companies, the SLR couldn't have been more different in its design to the highly focused F1. With a 609bhp, 5.4-litre supercharged V8 engine, mated to a conventional torque-converter automatic gearbox and a cabin endowed with the trappings of road car luxury, the SLR was very much a Grand Tourer. It wasn't entirely without performance credentials, however. Its body was fashioned from carbon, as were the brakes. The towering performance from the supercharged motor also ensured the SLR remains the world's fastest automatic production car.
It wasn't until 2011 that McLaren returned to road car manufacture, this time with a completely in-house design. The MP4-12C (now just 12C) marked a return to McLaren's use of F1-inspired technology, including the car's one-piece carbon tub.
As well as a Spider variant, the 12C model range also includes the HS, a limited run of five cars from the McLaren Special Operations Division. The HS differs from the standard model with a re-calibrated air brake and a tweaked aero package, taken from the 12C GT3 race car. Peak power has also been raised 75bhp to 667bhp.
More recently McLaren Special Operations Division has accepted commissions for bespoke one-off creations such as the X-1, which was unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d'elegance in 2012. McLaren is also close to unveiling the P1, its eagerly awaited new hypercar.
The McLaren conglomerate continues to go from strength to strength, branching from its core motorsport roots to other areas, applying its F1 technology and company ethos to areas as varied as healthcare, catering, mass transit and sports equipment.
Posted: 25 Jan 2013 07:52 AM PST
It's one small change for car makers, one, erm, giant leap for car owners
Earlier this week I came up with an idea that has already been adopted by the world's newest automotove brand, and should be taken up by every car maker on the planet. Possibly.
A couple of days ago I was at a photographic studio in Munich for a briefing on the new cars from the start-up Israeli-Chinese Qoros brand. All the details have to be kept under wraps until the Geneva show in early March, but I can say that you'll be more than pleasantly surprised.
After taking a good look around the outside and inside of the cars (they're very slick and impressive in the flesh: the Qoros chief designer is Gert Hildebrand, who oversaw Mini for a decade) somebody flipped the bonnet up.
All of a sudden, a thought I'd had in the back of my mind for months came rushing forwards. As a prelude to making my profound point, I flicked up the cap of the washer bottle… which completely detached, span upwards and then fell down into the engine bay.
'Anyway', I said to the assembled Qoros bosses as the technicians peered down the side of the engine, 'why is the capacity of the washer bottle never moulded into the cap? When they are empty, I never know how much washer fluid to mix up.'
Daniel Backman, ex-Volvo and Qoros's director of product strategy, looked at me and then picked up his phone. I didn't quite notice him walking to the other side of the studio. When he came back, I button-holed Backman and pressed home my point. Backman looked back at me with a serious face and said 'it's done'. Seems he had emailed the Qoros engineers and asked them to change the washer bottle cap moulding so the capacity was displayed. Amazing.
After a bit a thought, I've now refined the idea, so that the amount marked on the cap relates to capacity when the washer warning light comes on. Of course, it's possible that some manufacturers already include the nicety, but I've yet to encounter it. It requires only a tiny effort from car makers, but it's a remarkable omission.
So, what do you think? Significant breakthrough or damp squib?
Posted: 25 Jan 2013 04:00 AM PST
Forthcoming Land Rover Freelander 3 caught winter testing wearing Evoque bodywork disguise
The longer wheelbase and increased ride height reveal this as an early engineering prototype, probably being used to test new suspension components and suspension geometry.
The Freelander is currently the Land Rover marque's best-selling model. It was launched in its current form in 2006 and given a mild makeover for 2013. The third-gen model is expected to go on sale in early 2015. It promises to be a significant step forward from the current Freelander, offering greater wading depth, better interior packaging and improved boot space.
The new Freelander is based on the same LR-MS platform as the Evoque. It was developed from the Ford EUCD platform that underpins the current Freelander, although Land Rover says 90 per cent of the parts are new.
The Freelander 3's wheelbase is expected to be more than 150mm longer than the Evoque's and it's also expected to open the way for a seven-seat version. It will be fitted with JLR's all-new, super-frugal 'Hotfire' four-cylinder engines, which will be built at a new plant near Wolverhampton.
The new Freelander is expected to be made from a mixture of materials, with nearly all of the platform and upper body made from high-strength steel. The roof and bonnet will be aluminium and the front wings and tailgate are likely to be made from composites.
The entry-level, front-wheel-drive Freelander 3 is expected to have a CO2 rating as low as 119g/km.
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