Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Quick news: New trims for A3 Cabriolet; BiTurbo power for Zafira Tourer

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 05:36 AM PST

Audi A3 Cabriolet production ends after special edition announced; Vauxhall Zafira Tourer gains BiTurbo diesel

A limited run of the Audi A3 Cabriolet has been announced as the model ends its production run. The A3 Cabriolet Sport Final Edition and S-line Final Edition models replace the standard Sport and S-line trims and are priced from £23,775 and £30,615 respectively. Both models feature a range of extra equipment as standard, including leather seats.

The Vauxhall Zafira Tourer is now offered with the firm's BiTurbo diesel engine. The 2.0-litre, 192bhp engine delivers an 8.5sec 0-60mph time and a top speed of 135mph. Vauxhall claims 50.4mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 149g/km. It is priced from £27,685 with cars arriving in showrooms in the spring.

A survey commissioned by Volvo has found that more than half of motorists would be willing to own a car that drives itself, while 45 per cent want pedestrian protection technology featured on all cars. Volvo announced the findings on the 30th anniversary of mandatory front seatbelts. 


Government report says UK's road fuel market is in good shape

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 04:33 AM PST

Price rises not related to a lack of competition among suppliers and retailers

The UK's petrol and diesel market does not need action taking against it to increase competition and change pricing, according to a government report.

The Office of Fair Trading road fuels report has found that increases in the price at the pumps is due to rising oil prices and tax, rather than a lack of competition among suppliers and retailers. It also says that the UK has some of the lowest fuel prices in Europe before tax.

"We recognise that there has been widespread mistrust in how this market is operating," said the OFT's chief executive, Clive Maxwell.  "However, our analysis suggests that competition is working well, and rises in pump prices over the past decade or so have largely been down to increases in tax and the cost of crude oil."

Since 2003, the average cost of a litre of fuel has risen from 80p to £1.36, with the tax element rising from 59p to 81p and oil prices from 13p to 44p. The retailer margin on a litre of fuel has risen from 8p to 11p.

The report also looked at what is known as "rocket and feather pricing," the perceived notion that prices are quick to rise with the wholesale price but slow to fall when it drops. It found "very limited evidence to support such claims."

The OFT did find that fuel is often more expensive at motorway service stations, and that drivers cannot see prices until they've left the motorway. It recommended that the Department for Transport looks at installing roadside signs displaying prices.

First drive review: Citroën C3 Picasso 1.6 HDi 115 Exclusive

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 03:41 AM PST

Facelifted C3 is a let down for its driver, and yet still a very sensible small family car Citroën's 'funky' C3 Picasso, just driven in the UK in facelifted form for 2013.Not that the 'funkiness' matters much. A great deal of importance is often mistakenly ascribed to the quirky looks of this car when accounting for its popularity – and there's been plenty of that over the past four years. The truth is that the C3 sells because it's the largest car in its class (more than 1500 litres of maximum boot space) and because it's also among the cheapest. You'd pay a grand more for an equivalent Ford B-Max, and a purse-puckering three grand more for a like-for-like Vauxhall Meriva. And that's at list price – before Citroën's typically generous discounts are measured against those of its rivals.Since neither the new Ford nor the Vauxhall have threatened either of the C3's outstanding selling points, there's been little pressure on Citroën to update the car – hence the somewhat steady-Eddie mid-life nip and tuck. A new front bumper replaces the somewhat simple old one, LED daytime running lights and fog lamps with a cornering function have been added to mid and high-spec models, there are a couple of new paint colours and seat upholsteries, and there are one or two equipment level tweaks.

Alfa 4C spied winter testing

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 02:18 AM PST

New mid-engined coupé to relaunch brand in the US this year

This is the car that Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne wants to resurrect Alfa Romeo with, and to relaunch the brand in the US later this year.

The new 4C will go on sale during the second half of this year and is charged with starting the task of increasing Alfa Romeo's global presence. Although sales are likely to be fairly low – Fiat plans 2500 4Cs a year – it will provide the brand with a halo car that will hopefully be more visible than the 8C.

The rear-wheel drive coupé is mid-engined, with a 1742cc (likely to be badged as 1750, in keeping with Alfa's heritage) turbocharged four cylinder producing over 300bhp.

The 4C is built on a bespoke carbonfibre and aluminium frame, which helps to keep the car's weight down to under 1000kg. Although expensive to engineer and produce, the shell will find its way into other Fiat group products, potentially a new, small Maserati. Maserati is building the car for Alfa Romeo at a facility in Modena.  

The production 4C will be unveiled at the Geneva show in March, and production will begin in May.

Journalist faces £120,000 bill after blowing up Porsche 917

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 09:36 AM PST

Judge finds against Mark Hales in controversial case

Racing driver and journalist Mark Hales is facing a £120,000 bill after he was sued for blowing up the engine in a £1.25m Porsche 917.

The court case, in which Hales was sued by David Piper, the owner of the 917, concluded with the judge in the High Court finding that Hales had over revved the engine, causing its failure. The car, a replica built from genuine Porsche parts, was subsequently repaired and sold for £1.25m.

Hales and Piper had a verbal agreement that the car needed to be kept under 7000rpm and that if the Porsche was damaged it would have to paid for.

The case and the outcome has caused controversy as it could affect the way magazines drive and test rare and exotic machinery. Insurance against such mechanical failure is hard to come by and many valuable vehicles are not covered. With a successful litigation case against a journalist, others may be less keen to take the risk of potentially damaging a car while owners could now be more likely to pursue damages.

A fund to pay for Hales' costs has been started at  

Volvo V40 T5 Cross Country SE Lux Nav AWD: first drive review

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 07:53 AM PST

All-wheel drive V40 is soothing and confidence-inspiring to drive, if a little too expensive to wholeheatedly recommend Despite the high-riding, pseudo soft-roader looks of the new Volvo V40 Cross Country, only one of the engines in the new range can be equipped with four-wheel drive. And it's not a volume-selling diesel model you might think; it's the T5, a potent 251bhp turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder petrol engine.The Cross Country rides 40mm higher than a standard V40 and gets a special Hill Descent control (on the T5 version only), but the mechanical changes end there. There are bigger wheels and tyres and a bespoke look for the front and rear end, plus the usual contrasting bodykit for lower sections of the body, sill protectors and kick plates.

Lamborghini Aventador outruns jet airliner

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 07:12 AM PST

Lambo launches new Roadster as part of 50th anniversary celebrations

Lamborghini has launched the Aventador Roadster by running five of the £300k cabrios down Miami airport's runway at 210mph, exceeding the take-off speed of a passenger jet aeroplane.

With a top speed of 217mph, the Roadster is capable of outrunning the fastest passenger jet's take-off speed of 180mph. It can hit 60mph in 3.0sec.

The Roadster goes on sale in the UK this summer, during Lamborghini's 50th year in business. The firm's celebrations culminate on the weekend of 7 May, when cities across Italy will host Lamborghini events to mark the start of work on the Sant'Agata factory back in 1963.

Qatar motor show - picture gallery

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 06:32 AM PST

All the action from the third annual Qatar motor show in Doha

Start-up Arab car maker W Motors has stolen the headlines at the third edition of the Qatar motor show in Doha with its new £2.16 million Lykan Hypersport.

The 740bhp model has been designed in Beirut, Lebanon and is the first bespoke Arab supercar designed and built from scratch. Just seven units will be produced.

McLaren, Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Mercedes and Porsche are among the scores of manufacturers exhibiting high-performance supercars and SUVs at the fast-growing annual show, which was attended by more than 120,000 people in 2012.

The strong manuafcturer presence is due to just how well high-performance models sell in places like Doha. More than 1000 Porsches were sold at its Doha dealership last year, for example.

Stars of the show in the oil-rich Arab state — apart from the futuristic-looking Lykan Hypersport — include the new Lamborghini Aventador Roadster and Bentley Continental GTC, both of which were getting a debut of sorts.

The Aventador roadster's appearance was actually a motor show debut for the car, the firm having only displayed it previously at events away from show halls as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations.

A live action element also features as part of Qatar motor show, with stunt displays from both cars and bikes, and a supercar display through the streets of Doha.

Qatar motor show: new £2m supercar

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 04:47 AM PST

Just seven examples of the new W Motors Lykan Hypersport will be built

A £2.16million supercar has been revealed at the Qatar motor show. Just seven examples of the W Motors Lykan Hypersport will be made.

Beirut-based W Motors has equipped the radically styled Lykan Hypersport with a mid-rear mounted, twin-turbocharged flat-six engine producing 740bhp and 737lb ft of torque. The engine is understood to have been supplied by German-based specialist Porsche tuner RUF.

This helps propel the car from 0-62mph in a claimed 2.8sec and onto a top speed of 245mph. That top speed is just 22mph shy of the speed achieved by the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport in setting the fastest-ever speed achieved by a production road car.

The car is the work of company chairman Ralph R Debbas, who studied on the Automotive Design course at the Coventry University School of Art and Design.

W Motors describes itself as the maker of the "most exclusive, luxurious and technologically advanced high-performance sports cars ".

To back the luxurious side of this claim up, features of the Lykan Hypersport include diamond-coated LED headlights and gold stitching for the lather seats. Buyers will also get a special Cyrus Klepcys watch with their purchase, which is worth more than £130,000.

There's no word on where the car will be built, but it's previously been indicated by W Motors that Austrian automotive specialist Magna Steyr is involved in the project.

A 'Supersport' version of the car is also understood to be in the works.

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