Monday, January 28, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar RSS Feed

Autocar Online - News

First drive review: Volvo V40 T5 R-Design Lux Nav

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 07:30 AM PST

Smooth, refined and quick when needed, but Volvo's hot hatch isn't quite hot enough and too expensive to tackle its more established rivals The hot hatch treatment for Volvo's new V40. And quite a hard hot hatch to pigeonhole at that. The V40 T5 R-Design's 251bhp from its turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder ranks alongside the likes of the Ford Focus ST and Renaultsport Megane. But the £30k-plus price and more luxurious cabin ranks alongside the BMW M135i and Audi S3, despite giving away plenty of poke to the German pair.And that's even if you want to call it an out and out hot hatch at all. All its rivals get a bespoke badge and halo positioning at the top of the range, but the R-Design is more a sporty trim level that can be had with the potent T5 engine, thus creating a model to sit at the top of the standard range.

Nissan, Mercedes and Ford team up to develop fuel cells

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 03:00 AM PST

Three brands want to speed up commercialisation of fuel cell tech

Ford, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler have announced the formation of a partnership aimed at accelerating the commercialisation of fuel cell electric vehicle technology.

Together, the three car makers plan to develop a common fuel cell system to be used in what they describe as "highly differentiated, separately branded fuel cell electric vehicles" as early as 2017.

The companies say they plan to help define global specifications, component standards and develop the infrastructure solutions necessary to allow fuel-cell electric vehicles to be mass-marketed.

Powered by electricity from hydrogen and oxygen, fuel-cell electric vehicles emit only water while driving. Electricity used to power electric motors is produced on-board in the fuel cell stack where it is generated following an electro-chemical reaction between hydrogen, which is stored in a high-pressure tank, and oxygen from the air.

"We are convinced that fuel cell vehicles will play a central role for zero-emission mobility in the future. This co-operation will make technology available for many customers around the globe," said Thomas Weber, head of R&D at Daimler, at today's announcement.

Confirmation of the partnership between Ford, Nissan and Daimler for fuel-cell electric vehicle technology comes less than a week after BMW and Toyota announced they had entered into a similar joint venture.

The World's Fastest Cars - Autocar collector's edition

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 02:32 AM PST

Autocar's new World's Fastest Cars magazine celebrates the best of the planet's quickest supercars

Aston Martin, Ariel, Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani, Porsche – the list of fast car manufacturers is long and varied, but who has really made the fastest cars of the past decade, and what are they like to go to the limit in?

Autocar is one of the very few magazines in the world to have access to the answers, having been trusted by the world's best manufacturers to drive and ride in the very fastest cars ever produced.

As a result, we've produced a special collector's magazine to celebrate the very quickest of them.

The 164-page magazine features the 40 fastest cars we've tested, with drive and ride impressions direct from the cabins of everything from the £2million-plus Bugatti Veyron Super Sport onwards, using our exclusive road test and first drive experiences and data.

The magazine also includes a look ahead to the upcoming supercars and hypercars of the near future.

Written by our expert road testers and complemented by the world's best car photography, the magazine is available from all good UK newsagents now, priced £5.99.

Kia unveils its first hot hatch

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 01:59 AM PST

New 200bhp Procee'd GT to go on sale in June

Kia's first attempt at a hot hatch will arrive in showrooms this June, with a turbocharged 201bhp engine.

The Procee'd and Cee'd GT (the hot hatch treatment will be applied to the three and five-door cars) will both be unveiled at the Geneva show in March. Both cars are fitted with a new turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine.

In addition to the 201bhp, the engine has 195lb ft of torque, meaning it has no direct rivals - the next Golf GTI has 217bhp, while the likes of the Astra VXR and Renaultsport Mégane have 276 and 261bhp. The GT's 0-62mph time of 7.9sec is also slower than the more powerful hatches, and more on a par with Vauxhall's 177bhp Astra GTC SRi.

The transmission is a six-speed manual, driving the front wheels (which are 18-inch as standard). Expect a retuned suspension to cut roll and improve handling over the standard Cee'd, with a lower ride height.

A deeper front bumper with enlarged air intakes, LED running lights and red trim help set the GT apart from the standard Cee'd. At the rear the car gets twin tailpipes and a deeply sculpted, diffuser-style lower bumper. Inside there are Recaro seats with red stitching, red GT badging and alloy pedals.

The GT brand is set to be used as an optional trim package for other Kia models. It is also likely to be expanded with the possibility of a quick diesel Kia, and a more potent version of the Cee'd, with more power. 
Kia is not confirming prices for the GT models, but expect the Procee'd to cost around £22,000 and the five door Cee'd to start at around £24,000.

Jaguar's BMW 3-series rival edges closer

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 01:00 AM PST

Jaguar compact saloon poised for production as planned crossover is pushed back

Jaguar is close to giving the go-ahead to a range of compact and lightweight rear-drive models that will spearhead a significant sales expansion for the brand.

However, the new line won't be an obvious rival for established premium cars such as the BMW 3-series and Audi A4, according to senior sources. It will attempt to outpoint the German opposition by emphasising its lightweight aluminium construction and cutting-edge, super-frugal four-cylinder engines.

The global market for compact premium cars of all body styles is heading for two million units annually, and Jaguar bosses have decided to chase serious volume by competing in this still-growing segment. The British maker has sales of less than 60,000 units globally and is still an automotive minnow. It needs to more than double its output in the medium term to secure its future alongside sister company Land Rover.

The junior model range will be based on a new set of components that will also be scaleable enough to be used for the next-generation XF and XJ models. This will allow the company eventually to produce "90 per cent" of all production from one common components set, according to Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar's global brand director.

Building all three model ranges on the same highly scaleable Premium Lightweight Architecture (PLA) aluminium platform — which made its debut under the Mk4 Range Rover — will allow Jaguar to drive into sustainable profitability by running its Castle Bromwich plant at full capacity.

Although targeting the 3-series would be an expected move for the new small Jaguar, Hallmark said the company wouldn't be taking the most obvious route.

"The 3-series is an easy simile for where we could go, but it's not the only gig in town," he said. "All the cars are good in that segment. All have the blend of performance and efficiency, as well as very sophisticated equipment.

"It took Audi 20 years to build up to where it is. For us to come in and go to the top of the league is impossible, so we have to find ways of expanding our business profitably and we're well developed in that process. We are undergoing creative analysis of competitors and consumers."

Hallmark pointed out that the competitiveness of this premium sector made the move very difficult.

"Trying to find a gap to exploit is a real challenge," he said. "Nobody is waiting for another competitor to enter a segment. For us to enter… we have to have a winning proposition. It has to have a twist, something relevant to the consumer. But the Jaguar brand should define everything."

He also hinted that the new model would expand into a full line-up of body styles. "All makers in that segment have a successful strategy of different versions: coupés, cabrios, estates, engines. You have to be flexible in that segment."

The decision to forge ahead with the compact saloon means the proposed new Jaguar crossover has been put on the back burner.

"Even though the SUV market is growing, the saloon market is still twice the size, especially in the US," said Hallmark. "A crossover would make more noise for us than a saloon, but we already have SUVs in the company and we're not in a rush to add to that. You might not make as much profit on a saloon as an SUV, but you don't expect the likes of Audi to stop making the A4."

Hallmark also said that although the PLA can be spun into a front-wheel drive format, Jaguar did not have a front-drive car planned. "But there's no reason why not in the future, as it's totally scaleable and flexible," he said.

Ian Callum, Jaguar's design chief, gave further clues about why Jaguar is zeroing in on a big-selling compact saloon. "The world is downsizing in many areas," he said. "I think downsizing can only go so far. Then it comes down to the efficiency of the vehicle. Mass, rather than size, is something we have a big lead on with our aluminium construction. Downsizing is not off our radar and we have to take it seriously. But we've got the head start on mass.

"I think Jaguar has to do something different. The challenge is to do this across a whole range of vehicles. Some our rivals have four-door coupés, which we'd love to see. The Mercedes CLA could be a template for a smaller Jaguar, but that's not what we'd do.

"A Jaguar needs to work as a Jaguar, with a set of components to match our mould," Callum said. "Jaguars have a rational, pragmatic set of values. They are styled a bit differently but need to be conventional enough to be usable. It's Jaguar's turn [after Land Rover] to grow next. We will grow and could become formidable if all goes well and we get the planning done properly."

Hilton Holloway, Mark Tisshaw

No comments:

Post a Comment