Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Hyundai UK expects meteoric growth to slow this year

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 04:00 AM PST

A lack of availability of new cars to sell is to halt Hyundai's staggering sales expansion in the UK market

Hyundai UK has declared its intention to halt its meteoric growth over the past five years in 2013, because it doesn't have enough cars to sell.

The company announced record sales in 2012 yesterday, to just under 75,000 cars, up 160 per cent since 2008. It has become the first Korean manufacturer to break into the UK's top 10 biggest-selling car makers.

However, boss Tony Whitehorn revealed today that, with all of Hyundai's European factories operating at maximum capacity, and demand for more cars being led by China, the USA, Russia and India, the UK was only targeting a repeat of last year's sales rather than continuing its exponential growth because it could not get enough new cars to sell.

"Last year was a watershed, one in which we broke all records," said Whitehorn. "In contrast, 2013 will be about building the brand so that the company name reflects the quality of our vehicles, ahead of a renewed attack in 2014."

As part of that strategy, Whitehorn said it was key to keep new Hyundai owners buying new cars from within the brand.

"Around 75 per cent of our customers have been conquest customers from other brands," he said. "That's great, because it shows an acceptance of what we do, and that we can compete with established mass market brands and premium brands. It is clear austerity has driven people to make rational purchases. What we want to do now is demonstrate that our cars are more than rational purchases, that they are great value cars, but also that they are backed up by great dealers with great staff and a great warranty and aftercare package."

Key to growth in 2014 will be the launch of a new Hyundai i10 late this year. The city car is Hyundai UK's best-selling model, and marketing director Andrew Cullis has vowed the new model will retain the existing car's values.

"It will do all the same things that have made the current car so popular, but it will do them better," said Cullis.

The new i10 and the i20 will be built in Hyundai's factory in Turkey, which is currently being expanded to create extra capacity.

Renault Captur SUV teased

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 03:55 AM PST

The first picture of the new Renault Captur crossover has been shown online ahead of a full reveal

This is the first image to appear of the forthcoming Renault Captur, which is due to make its public debut at the Geneva motor show in March.

Based on the same platform as the Clio, the forthcoming mini-MPV will rival the Nissan Juke when it goes on sale this summer.

The front-end styling borrows heavily from the recently launched Clio, and it is expected that overall, the new crossover will resemble a taller version of the hatchback, as seen in previously leaked sketches.

The Captur's engine range is likely to mirror the new Clio hatch's, meaning a normally aspirated 74bhp 1.2, turbocharged 89bhp 0.9 and turbocharged 118bhp 1.2 petrols will be offered. An 89bhp 1.5 will be the staple diesel.

Daljinder Nagra

Fiat 500e most efficient electric car in the USA

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 03:01 AM PST

Baby Fiat manages best in class range

Fiat's electric 500 has been rated as the most efficient electric car on sale in the US, according to the country's Environmental Protection Agency. It should deliver 108mpge, a measure for determining how many miles an EV can travel on a quantity of battery-generated electricity that has same energy content as a gallon of petrol.

That means it beats the Nissan Leaf by just 2mpge, and the figures give it a range of 87 miles, which Fiat claims is best in class. The figures improve in urban driving, where the Fiat is rated at 122mpge on the US city cycle.

The EPA estimated the 500e's annual electricity costs at $500 (£310), based on predicting the cost of electricity over 15,000 miles . The 500e goes on sale in California only this spring. There are no plans to introduce it in Europe. 

Petrol power for new Audi SQ5

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 02:41 AM PST

SUV gets supercharged V6

Audi will launch a petrol-powered SQ5 at the Detroit motor show, using a more powerful version of the supercharged 3.0-litre V6 from the S5.

Primarily aimed at the North American, Russian and Chinese markets, the new SQ5 delivers 349bhp and 346lb ft, 21bhp and 21lb ft more than the S5's engine. This gives the car a 0-62mph time of 5.3sec and a top speed of 155mph, although that makes it slower than the diesel SQ5. It uses Audi's eight-speed automatic gearbox.

As with the diesel, the car is lowered by 30mm with stiffer suspension, and it comes with 20-inch wheels as standard — 21-inch wheels are an option.

It will go on sale in the US this autumn, but there are no plans to launch the car in Europe, where the diesel SQ5 will remain the range topper.

Autocar magazine 9 January preview

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 01:36 AM PST

This week's Autocar magazine: Baby BMW Z2 to spearhead new model blitz; 23 new BMW and Mini models revealed' new Maserati Quattroporte vs Jaguar XJ; full road test: Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake

This week's Autocar gives the exclusive inside line on a new front-drive, £15,000 roadster from BMW. Tentatively called the Z2, it is part of a 23-strong line-up of BMW and Mini cars that could be run off the firm's new front-drive UKL platform, and Autocar has the first details on them all.

Other news includes the first images of the new Mercedes CLA, which have leaked out in a sales brochure ahead of its unveil at the Detroit motor show, the latest news on Caterham's sports car ambitions and analysis of the UK's rising car sales in 2012. Taking the new Vauxhall Adam as inspiration, we also investigate what difference a car's name can make to its sales success.

Our drives are led off by Steve Sutcliffe's comparison of the new Maserati Quattroporte and the Jaguar XJ, with the British car's credentials as the best driver's car in the class put under serious threat. The first drive review section is led by the Caterham R600, plus a first UK drive of the Bentley Continental GT Speed, the UK verdict of the Porsche 911 Carrera 4, a UK drive of the new Kia Sorento and a first test of the facelifted Mitsubishi ASX.

The full eight-page road test puts the Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake under the microscope, delivering the verdict on whether the style-led estate measures up against the opposition.

In our bumper features section, Andrew Frankel takes a look at the brilliant-to-drive cars that could make you money in the long-term, taking a trip down memory lane in a Ford Sierra RS Cosworth and then making predictions for potential future classics. Matt Prior visits Radical to get the lowdown on its new Le Mans-inspired RXC road car, while Steve Cropley names the alternative must-do events in the motorsport calendar, in an amusing and informative feature entitled 'Not the British Grand Prix'.

Cars on our fleet reviewed this week include the Caterham Seven Supersport, Ginetta G40R, Seat Mii, Range Rover Evoque and Mazda CX-5, while bargain hunters can find out how to pick up a Citroën C5 family runaround from as little as £350.

First drive review: Volvo V40 Cross Country D3 SE Nav

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 01:16 AM PST

Never mind off-roading – top model apart, the V40 Cross Country only means rugged décor and raised suspension for Volvo's hatchback What you need to know first about this, the Volvo V40 Cross Country, is that unless you order it as a top-of-the-range, £33,975 T5 petrol with a 247bhp petrol turbo engine, it comes only as a two-wheel-drive car, and is therefore no more able to cross a ploughed field than the standard V40. Unless its raised right height happens to prove advantageous.Sill protectors and plastiminium skid plates you may get, but this is barely a mild off-roader, never mind something for venturing mud-wards when the asphalt runs out. However, there is a useful advantage to choosing the faux off-roader version of the Volvo V40, which we'll come to. The Cross Country package costs £1000 more for the two-wheel-drive car, for which you get a car that rides 40mm higher and looks a little tougher than the stock V40, what with its standard-fit roof rails, a rear bumper with in-built (plastic) skid plate, a front bumper flaunting a much more emphatic lower air intake, upright LED running lights and plastiminium sill extensions. Inside, there's attractive upholstery of rather more robust texture than usual, but little else to differentiate this Cross Country species. All of which looks rather slight compared with the reconfiguring of the bigger V70 Cross Country that established the genre back in 1997, that car providing standard all-wheel drive and a generally more thoughtfully provisioned specification. Consider the Cross Country package as merely a dress-up kit for the V40 and you'll be less disappointed.

First drive review: Toyota Auris Hybrid

Posted: 07 Jan 2013 10:00 PM PST

More spacious and cheaper to run, but the hybrid Auris is an average drive A relocated battery pack, improved refinement and sharper styling boost the appeal of this second-generation Auris Hybrid.The battery now lives under the rear seat, freeing up the boot while still allowing it to be elongated by dropping the backrests. Toyota modified the Auris's carry-over platform to achieve this. The roof (and therefore the centre of gravity) has also been lowered and the steering is quicker than before in the quest for sharper responses, which should be better handled by this version's double wishbone rear suspension. Lesser Aurises have a twist beam.

Detroit motor show: Hyundai HCD-14 concept

Posted: 07 Jan 2013 07:29 AM PST

The Hyundai HCD-14 will the latest in a line of Californian-designed concepts when it receives its first public outing at the Detroit motor show

The luxurious Hyundai HCD-14 concept will receive its world premiere at the Detroit motor show next week.

No information has been revealed, aside from this single teaser image, but Hyundai says it provides "a glimpse into future Hyundai premium vehicle design, advanced 3D gesture-based technology controls, and spirited driving dynamics".

The HCD-14 is the latest in a line of concepts which stretches back to 1992 with the HCD-1. Like its predecessors, the HCD-14 has been designed at the Hyundai California Design facility, which has provided the concept its name.

Hyundai will unveil the concept car at 8pm on January 14. Check back to for the full story.

Mastretta MXT-R set for Autosport show - updated gallery

Posted: 07 Jan 2013 05:55 AM PST

Latest iteration of Mexican Mastretta MXT to be previewed at Autosport International show in Birmingham

The Mastretta MXT-R, the latest version of Mexico's sole sports car, the MXT, is to make its public debut at the Autosport International Racing Car Show this month.

Making a special appearance on the Autocar stand for the duration of the show, the MXT-R is a new addition to the model range, designed to sit between the current road car and forthcoming track-only MXR race car.

The MXT-R will use the 2.0-litre Ecoboost engine from the Ford Focus ST, developing around 285bhp, which replaces the current turbocharged 2.0-litre Duratec unit. It will wear the race-car's aerodynamic package, including a front splitter and pronounced rear wing.

It is otherwise unchanged from the current MXT road car, with Mastretta not wanting to compromise on the car's day-to-day liveability.

The car being shown at Autosport International will be a well-used development mule. Currently there is no word on performance figures or prices, but customers can register an interest with Mastretta to be kept informed of updates.

Daljinder Nagra

Audi's ugly duckling is nothing of the sort

Posted: 04 Jan 2013 02:54 AM PST

Car makers shouldn't send up their iconic or influential models to push sales of new cars

Christmas meant consuming more TV advertising than I'm used to. Some of the adverts were good. Others attempted to sell the services of no-win, no-fee lawyers, payday loans, or an operatic car insurance salesman.

It's easy to love or hate an advert; that's so often what makes them memorable. The latter, I suspect, is the reason for that opera singer remaining on our screens. 

Oddly, the advert that struck me most was also the one which left with the most mixed feelings: the Audi A5

The story goes thus: weird-looking old car snakes through a wintery wonderland, parks up and turns into an A5. A kind of modern-day, automotive ugly duckling.

My bone of contention is that to my eyes, the 'ugly' duckling is nothing of the sort. It appeals directly to my love of engineering and aero-led design. The Auto Union concept 'duckling' was penned by Paul Jaray, one of the most significant designers of the era.

He was among the earliest proponents of automotive aerodynamics and streamlining, a look that defined the futuristic look of many cars in the 1920s and 1930s.

He cut his teeth streamlining airships before turning his hand to cars. The Ley T6, Audi K 14.50 and Dixi 6/24hp came in 1923. Jaray's design raised the Dixi's top speed from 49 to 62mph purely by fully understanding aerodynamics. Naturally, they never caught on.

Nevertheless, Jaray pushed on. He set up shop in Switzerland licensing his streamlined designs to manufacturers. Tatra used the concept until 1975. Maybach was another car maker to embrace the style and BMW developed a Jaray-penned concept.

But it was Audi with which he is most closely associated. The 1923 Auto Union streamliner concept sadly no longer exists; a faithful replica was built and is the one used in the A5 adverts. Jaray's influence can also be seen on Auto Union's 'Silver Arrows' race cars.

The '23 streamliner may be many things, but ugly it is not.


Detroit motor show: Mercedes E-class coupé and cabriolet

Posted: 04 Jan 2013 12:01 AM PST

Revised two-door Mercedes E-class models join the recently announced saloon and estate

Mercedes-Benz has revealed a facelifted version of the E-class coupé and cabriolet. The new models will receive their first public outing at the Detroit motor show.

Following hot on the heels of the facelifted E-class saloon and estate, the two door duo eschew the quad headlamp treatment of the outgoing model for a more cohesive look that brings a pair of larger headlamps configurations. The grille has also been made larger and now boasts Mercedes-Benz's latest propeller-inspired look for a cleaner appearance.

The engine line-up for the facelifted E-class coupé and cabriolet continues to mirror that of the standard E-class saloon and estate with a single petrol and two diesel units. All are carried over from the outgoing model with detailed upgrades that are claimed to provide incremental improvements in fuel economy and emissions.

The entry-level turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder direct-injection petrol engine develops 181bhp in the E200 and 208bhp in the E250. It is supported by a 2.1-litre four-cylinder common rail diesel with 168bhp in the E220 CDI and 201bhp in the E250 CDI.

Topping the range is a 3.0-litre V6 common rail diesel unit that endows the E350 with 248bhp. It receives urea injection to reduce emissions and ensure all engines comply with upcoming EU6 emission standards.

The E500 coupé, with its twin-turbocharged 4.6-litre V8 engine, has been deleted from the UK line-up.

As with their predecessors, Mercedes-Benz's new mid-range two door models also offer the choice of two gearboxes, depending on which engine they run. Included is a six-speed manual and an updated seven speed automatic with a steering wheel column mounted shift lever. Both gearboxes come with standard stop/start and brake energy recuperation systems.

Mercedes-Benz is flagging up increased levels of standard equipment, too. Collision prevention assist (a radar-based collision warning system, with the ability to brake the car in order to reduce the severity of an impact) and attention assist (a system used to detect drowsiness) are fitted as standard.

In line with Mercedes-Benz's aim to further consolidate its reputation as a leader in safety technology,  the new E-class coupé and cabriolet also receive an optional stereo multi-purpose camera that provides a three-dimensional view up to 50 metres in front of the car. The camera also permits the inclusion of a range of hi-tech anti-collision systems, including Distronic Plus with Steering Assist, which helps to keep the car centred in a chosen lane and tracks traffic in tailbacks. And with Brake Assist Plus with Junction Assist, the car is able to detect cross traffic and pedestrians and can boost the braking power if the brakes are insufficiently applied by the driver to avoid an impact.

Mercedes-Benz is yet to confirm pricing for the new E-class coupé and cabriolet but expect the E200 coupé to land at close to £33,000.

New cars 2013: extreme performance

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 08:08 AM PST

With some very exciting supercars confirmed for 2013, the battle lines are drawn for an extreme performance showdown

In an age of austerity and downsizing, it's heartening to see the supercar still alive and well. 2013 promises to be an exciting year for performance cars, with new models from Mercedes and Aston Martin, as well as the groundbreaking Lamborgini Sesto Elemento and Porsche 918 Spyder. Old rivalries are set to be re-ignited too, with the release of two F1-inspired supercars, the McLaren P1 and Ferrari F150. Here's our guide to what to look out for and when.

McLaren P1, September

The term 'F1 car for road' has been much abused over the years. Perhaps the original McLaren F1 is the closest that's been achieved. Ferrari's extreme Enzo-based FXX was, perhaps, even nearer to the genuine F1 experience, but owners were restricted to using it on circuits.

Today, McLaren and Ferrari are racing to deliver the road-going F1 experience. McLaren's P1 was the first to be shown in public, at last year's Paris show, with deliveries expected at the end of the year.

Programme director Paul Mackenzie says the P1 is designed to feel like a "proper racing car" at the push of a button, which could then be driven home in "great comfort and refinement". But while McLaren has shown the finished styling, the technical details remain vague.

The McLaren will have a power-to-weight ratio of more than 600bhp per tonne when it goes on sale. Some kind of hybrid energy recuperation system will be fitted to the car. Interestingly, the rear wing intakes close to the wheels are called 'clutch' scoops, raising the possibility that they might be used to cool some kind of KERS-type flywheel system.

The car's 'jelly mould' engineering package was created primarily by aerodynamic concerns and the desire to shrink the exterior to an absolute minimum. The P1 uses a one-piece carbonfibre 'tub' derived from the MP4-12C, and features a skin made from "extraordinarily thin" carbonfibre panels, which are moulded in large sections.

It is claimed the P1 can generate 600kg of downforce at a pace "well below" the car's maximum speed, a figure that is around five times more than that generated by the 12C. The P1's huge double-element rear wing can automatically adjust by up to 300mm rearwards on a race track and by up to 120mm on the road.

The P1 will have three different ride height modes, with the lowest for track use. This latter track mode ensures that the car's side skirts and rear diffuser work properly, but it also means the diffuser's carbonfibre strakes are just a couple of inches above the track surface.

If anyone can finally deliver an F1 experience to the privileged few, it should be McLaren.

Lamborghini Aventador Roadster, Summer

Its maker says the open-top Aventador will be "the most exciting Lamborghini ever built". With a 690bhp V12, a 217mph top speed and 0-62mph in 3.0sec, that claim is at least backed up on paper.

The Aventador Roadster addresses the main failing of its Murciélago predecessor. With the fabric roof on, that car was limited to just 99mph. The Aventador gets a targa-style two-piece carbonfibre roof that weighs just 6kg and can be easily removed and stored on board. Roof on or off, top speed remains the same.

New aerodynamic aids are also added to the £290,000 open-top Aventador over the coupé.

Ferrari F150, Autumn

McLaren and Ferrari have matched each other blow for blow recently with the MP4-12C and 458 Italia ranges, but their road car rivalry will be taken to next level with Woking and Maranello each launching a new F1-inspired road car.

McLaren has shown its hand first with the P1 concept, but we only have to wait until March to see the Ferrari Enzo replacement, codenamed F150.

It will weigh around 1100kg and will be powered by a mid-mounted V12 engine, mated to an F1 KERS-style hybrid system for a combined output of more than 800bhp.

F1 tech packed into the F150 will include a race-car driving position moulded to the owner, advanced active aerodynamics and extensive use of carbonfibre, including the 70kg tub.

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, March

Until the F150 arrives, the F12 Berlinetta is Ferrari's fastest and most powerful production road car ever.

Its V12 produces 730bhp — some 119bhp more than the F12's successor, the 599GTB, and the largest power hike for a new Ferrari over the model it replaces. It can crack 0-62mph in 3.1sec and reach a top speed of more than 211mph. Want one? The F12 can be yours for £239,736.

Aston Martin Vanquish Volante, Winter

The open-top version of Aston's Vanquish is gearing up to be the firm's big centenary model. A Pebble Beach reveal in late August is likely before deliveries later in the year.

Expect a near-£200,000 price tag for the range-topping Aston, which will share its 565bhp 5.9-litre V12 engine with the Vanquish coupé.

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, Winter

Lamborghini's striking 999kg lightweight special is coming later this year, although a precise launch date has yet to be confirmed. Just 20 Sesto Elemento models will be built, each with a price tag in excess of £1.5 million.

Lamborghini claims the Sesto Elemento will hit 62mph from rest in just 2.5sec thanks to its 562bhp V10 powerhouse, but its extreme nature, spartan, stripped-out cabin and highly experimental forged carbonfibre construction make it likely that the car will be restricted to circuit use only.

Mercedes SLS Black Series, May

The SLS AMG coupé is the latest model to be given the extreme, powered-up and pared-down Black Series treatment. Black Series enhancements for the SLS include a 59bhp increase for its 6.2-litre V8, taking it to 622bhp, and a 70kg weight reduction, down to 1550kg.

In June, another new SLS will be launched: the Electric Drive. This gets four electric motors producing a combined 740bhp and a €416,500 (£335,000) price tag in Germany.

Porsche 918 Spyder, September

The third significant entry into this year's hypercar stakes will be the Porsche 918 Spyder. The 918, which enters production on 18 September, has already lapped the Nürburging 10 seconds faster than the Carrera GT.

Porsche is the only one of the trio of hypercar makers so far to put some official figures on its range-topper. The 918 will produce more than 784bhp from its hybrid drivetrain, which consists of a 4.6-litre V8 engine and twin electric motors. It will hit 62mph in 3.2sec and have a top speed in excess of 199mph. It will also be able to travel up to 15 miles on electric power alone, return a claimed 94mpg combined and emit just 70g/km of CO2.

The price has been set at €645,000 plus taxes (£624,000 including VAT).

One for 2014: Audi R10

Audi will be the fourth car maker to launch a hybrid supercar, but unlike its rivals, the R10 will be a diesel-electric hybrid rather than petrol-electric. The R10 is a road-going version of the Le Mans-winning R18 e-Tron quattro. Audi first floated the idea of a diesel supercar with 2008's R12 V12 TDI.

First drive review: Mitsubishi ASX 1.8 Diesel 4WD '3'

Posted: 02 Jan 2013 04:00 AM PST

Styling and quality updates consolidate the Mitsubishi ASX's place among the better alternative crossovers The 2012 Mitsubishi ASX: a car that deserves a bigger following than UK customers have given it over the past two years. Frugal, comfortable, practical and well-priced, this real-world crossover's most critical shortcoming seems to be that it's not a Nissan Qashqai.If anything, you could say that a slightly drab cabin lets the Mitsubishi's down. But in acknowledgement, Mitsubishi has updated the interior as part of a 2012 facelift.There's a new steering wheel design, new seat fabrics and a new-look stereo system to admire now. Well, perhaps not admire. If you didn't know they'd been changed, you probably wouldn't think they looked new. But you wouldn't think they looked old, either. The ASX's cabin has a typically Japanese, functional, unembellished appearance. Plastics are still hard and shiny in places, but they're far from offensive. A Qashqai is a slightly more pleasant, stylish, 'premium' environment in which to travel, sure. So's a Kia Sportage or a Peugeot 3008. But there's little wrong with the way the Mitsubishi's cabin works, and fit and finish levels are decent enough.On the outside, in a similar bid to make the ASX more of an urban sophisticate, there are new body-coloured bumpers front and rear, and a slightly different grille design. It's a subtle tweak, and tough to appreciate in pictures of our black test car, but it does make the ASX look less like a niche SUV and more like something from the mainstream, which is a sensible move.Prices survive the update unchanged, as does the ASX's engine range, which consists of a 115bhp 1.6-litre petrol and Mitsubishi's own 1.8-litre 114bhp turbodiesel, on offer with or without four-wheel drive. Our test car was the all-paw diesel, yours for less than £23k at list price. And for those who do want a four-wheel-drive diesel, that price puts it in quite a strong position in the segment.

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