Thursday, February 28, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

New Ferrari Enzo to be revealed at Geneva

Posted: 28 Feb 2013 06:55 AM PST

Italian manufacturer confirms it will unveil new Enzo at Geneva motor show 2013

Ferrari has confirmed that its new Ferrari Enzo will be unveiled at the Geneva motor show.

The announcement was accompanied by a new detail picture of the car.

The new flagship hypercar, which will rival the McLaren P1, will have more than 800bhp and weigh as little as 1100kg according to unconfirmed reports.

Codenamed F150, the Enzo makes sophisticated use of carbonfibre in its construction.

With roots in the 2005 Enzo-based FXX track car, the new Enzo will use a development of the F12's 6.3-litre V12.

This will output 750bhp, with an additional 100bhp and 200lb ft expected to come from an electric motor.

Ferrari has not indicated a price for the new Enzo yet, but it's likely to be around £1,000,000.

Click here for more Geneva motor show 2013 news.

Ford Fiesta ST first drive review

Posted: 28 Feb 2013 05:11 AM PST

The new ST is the first production Fiesta to hit 62mph from rest in less than 7sec, but how does it fare against the Renaultsport Clio? It's the latest fast Ford, the Ford Fiesta ST. The new ST is first production Fiesta to reach 62mph from rest in under seven seconds, which makes it sound particularly sprightly. As well it might: it has 179bhp, which, although around 10 per cent less than the class's fastest, should prove sufficient in a four-metre supermini that will weigh around 1100kg (official kerbweight hasn't been released at the time of writing). That power output – strong but not outstanding – should give you an idea of where Ford intends the Fiesta ST to sit in its range. Unlike Renault or Peugeot, Ford doesn't have one sporting line, it has ST and RS badges to use, with ST the daily drivers and RS the hardcore models. So, like the latest Focus ST, the Fiesta is meant to be enjoyable but not uncomfortable, fast but docile. It costs from under £17,000 and is available in two trim levels – ST1 and ST2, imaginatively, with the latter £1000 more expensive and adding heated, part leather seats, DAB radio and a few other extras.Power comes from a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-pot and drives the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. There's no flappy paddle option, and neither is there a mechanical limited-slip differential – the preserve of RS models, you feel.Instead, the Fiesta gets Torque Vectoring Control, an extension of the stability control that brakes a spinning inside wheel, replicating some of the effects of an LSD. Suspension is 15mm lower than regular Fiestas, spring and damper rates are appropriately a mite stiffer, as is the rear torsion beam, while there are 17-in alloys wearing 205/40 Bridgestone Potenza all round. The power steering is electrically assisted, and is a different, faster (2.4 turns) rack than on regular Fiestas, though remains linear: unlike a Servotronic, system it doesn't get faster as you wind on more lock to increase agility.

New Hyundai i10 prototype spotted

Posted: 28 Feb 2013 03:44 AM PST

Latest prototype of all-new model spotted during testing near the Arctic Circle

The next generation of the Hyundai i10 has been spotted undergoing testing near the Arctic Circle.

Seen being benchmarked against the Volkswagen Up, little is known about the all-new i10 but the styling of the new car does appear different from the previous model. 

Engine options will potentially include revised versions of the current model's 1.0- and 1.2-litre petrol engines, with either a manual or automatic gearbox.

Interior styling is thought to reflect that of the new i40 and i30 models, with the look and feel of the cabin notably improved compared to the previous generation.

The i10's range of equipment and options will probably expand as well, offering more connectivity and entertainment functions.

Production of the new i10 is due to start in late 2013, with sales likely to commence in early 2014.

Geneva motor show: New Lancia Voyager diesel

Posted: 28 Feb 2013 02:06 AM PST

Lancia to unveil new 176bhp 2.8-litre diesel engine for its Voyager at Geneva

Lancia has announced that it will reveal a new 176bhp diesel version of its Voyager MPV at the Geneva motor show.

The 2.8-litre common-rail turbodiesel offers 360Nm of torque from 1400rpm to 3400rpm, reputedly delivering greater flexibility and responsiveness.

A four-cylinder unit, the 2.8-litre engine features four valves per cylinder, dual overhead belt-driven camshafts, a high-pressure common-rail injection system and a variable geometry turbocharger.

Other features include a composite intake manifold, an EGR exhaust gas recirculation system and other tweaks to reduce vibrations and noise.

Lancia states that the diesel Voyager is capable of 0-62mph in 11.5 seconds and that its top speed is 120mph. Claimed fuel economy is 36mpg and CO2 emissions are rated at 207g/km.

The 2013 Lancia Voyager now also comes with a trailer sway damping system as standard, which helps prevent against dangerous oscillations when towing.

Click here for more Geneva motor show 2013 news.

Geneva motor show: KTM X-Bow GT

Posted: 28 Feb 2013 02:01 AM PST

The KTM X-Bow GT, which will appear at next week's Geneva motor show, is the first X-Bow variant to feature a windscreen and doors

A new KTM X-Bow, with more focus on on-road driving, will premiere at next week's Geneva motor show.

No official information is available, but these official images show the KTM X-Bow GT features a wraparound windscreen. As a result, the car will also feature windscreen wipers and a method in which to heat it. The X-Bow will also be equipped with doors for the first time.

Power is likely to come from the same 237bhp four-cylinder turbocharged Audi engine, mated to a six-speed gearbox.

It is not currently known how the addition of the windscreen will affect the standard car's aerodynamics, which generates almost 200kg of downforce at 124mph.

Geneva motor show: Land Rover to showcase Defender EV

Posted: 28 Feb 2013 01:30 AM PST

Off-roader gets electric power, 50-mile range and four-hour charging time claimed

Land Rover has created an electric Defender which it will exhibit at the Geneva motor show. It aims to add zero-emission efficiency to the formidable off-road ability the Defender is famed for.

The Defender's regular diesel engine has been substituted for a 70kw (94bhp) electric motor with 243lb ft of torque. The motor is powered by a 300-volt lithium-ion battery that weighs 410kg.

Because all the components of the battery system are air-cooled rather than liquid-cooled, however, weight gain over the standard Defender is 100kg. This puts kerb weight between 2055kg and 2162kg depending on body style.

Land Rover claims a range of more than 50 miles. Used off-road, where speeds are much lower, the battery can last more than eight hours. A portable charger can replenish the battery in ten hours, whilst a fast charger unit cuts this time to four hours.

A single-speed transmission has been incorporated into the Defender's existing four-wheel drive and Terrain Response systems. Moreover, the combination of Hill Descent Control with regenerative braking means up to 30kw of electricity can be generated by the motor and stored in the battery. 

Land Rover claims around 80 per cent of the Defender's kinetic energy can be recovered in this way, depending on conditions.

Predictably, testing of the electric Defender has been rigorous. Not only can it wade through up to 800mm of water, a development car has also pulled a 12-tonne road train up a 13 per cent gradient.

Despite proving its toughness, Land Rover has no plans currently to produce an electric Defender. Instead, the seven EVs will see action in real world trials later this year.

Click here for more Geneva motor show 2013 news.

Matt Bird

Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 first drive

Posted: 27 Feb 2013 09:34 AM PST

Baby Lamborghini gets a subtle refresh in its final year before being replaced Rumour has it that the production line marked 'Gallardo' will glide gently to a halt in August this year to allow tooling for the all-new baby Lamborghini to begin, which may or may not go on sale before the summer of next year depending on (a) who you talk to at Lamborghini, and (b) if you believe what they say to be true.Either way, and despite the imminent ceasing of the now 10-year-old Gallardo's production, this is the last time that Lamborghini will breathe new life into its smallest but biggest-selling car. And as last hurrahs go, this is not exactly one to take your breath away.What we are talking about is a mild redesign of both nose and tail, one that introduces the weirdly triangular, some say slightly vulgar, design themes that appear pretty much all over the Aventador and the limited-edition Sesto Elemento.There's also a new design of 19-inch alloy wheel and larger air intakes have been carved into the bodywork just ahead of the front wheels, again drawing on the sharp-edged visual themes pioneered on Lamborghini's most recent creations.Alongside the bigger rear grille – which, says Lamborghini, "improves the thermodynamic efficiency" of the V10 (without providing it with any more power, torque or ecological credentials compared with what's gone before) – the overall effect, visually at least, is subtle yet dramatic, both at the same time.

Geneva motor show: Alpina B3 Biturbo

Posted: 27 Feb 2013 06:13 AM PST

First look at new BMW 3-series-based performance saloon ahead of Geneva motor show

Alpina has revealed its new Alpina B3 Biturbo ahead of the Geneva motor show.

The BMW 3-series-based model will reach the UK in the summer in both saloon and Touring body styles. Pricing is yet to be confirmed.

Power comes from a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six engine that produces 404bhp and 442lb ft of torque. Mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the engine helps propel the rear-drive B3 from 0-62mph in 4.2sec and onto a 190mph top speed.

Economy is rated at 37.2mpg and CO2 emissions are 177g/km in the saloon.

A host of familiar Alpina chassis and styling upgrades have also taken place on the B3 over the 3-series. An all-wheel-drive version of the B3 is also planned, but not in right-hand drive.

Maserati to launch four-seat GranTurismo MC Stradale

Posted: 27 Feb 2013 04:08 AM PST

Standard GranTurismo luxury to be combined with MC Stradale's racer vibe

A four-seat version of the Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale will be unveiled at the Geneva motor show. It follows the original MC Stradale, shorn of the standard GranTurismo's rear seats, which arrived in 2011.

The range flagship, the MC Stradale carries an array of modifications over the standard GranTurismo. The exterior features a carbonfibre bonnet with central air scoop, forged 20-inch alloy wheels and a new rear bumper arrangement. Maserati claims the interior includes "new materials and style".

As with the two-seat version, the new GranTurismo MC Stradale is powered by a 4.7-litre V8 producing 453bhp, which now also features in the GranTurismo Sport. It is paired with an MC Race Shift six-speed automated manual transmission.

The GranTurismo MC Stradale's claimed top speed is 188mph, with 0-60mph expected to take around five seconds. Improvements in efficiency have also been announced, although no figures have been released. Stopping power is provided by Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes.

There is no word yet on pricing for the four-seat MC Stradale, although expect a figure in the region of the two-seater's £110k. Next week's Geneva motor show will also mark the European debut of Maserati's Quattroporte saloon.

Nissan reveals future motorsport plans

Posted: 27 Feb 2013 04:04 AM PST

Nissan begins a major motorsport update; it intends to compete in numerous events with both current and new cars

Nissan's in-house performance brand, Nismo, will lead Nissan's newly expanded motorsport program.

Carlos Ghosn, boss of Nissan, announced that Nissan intends to return to the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2014, Australia's V8 Supercar series and to increase the competitiveness of the GT-R in the GT3 and Super GT Series. 

Nissan also continues to grow the GT Academy series, with the latest graduates set to compete in a GT-R in the FIA GT Series and the Blanpain Endurance series.

The attack on the Super GT Series GT500 class will be led by four special Nissan GT-Rs. Called GT500 GT-Rs, they use 3.4-litre V8 engines and have received various modifications, including rear aerodynamic upgrades.

Nissan said: "Specifically, we were able to maintain extreme levels of downforce while drastically cutting down drag via the distinctive 'shark teeth' rear design and by modifying the underbody."

The 3.4-litre V8 engine will continue to be used. Nissan plans to maximise the engine's output and its flexibility by modifying its characteristics to match the layouts of different racetracks. Fuel efficiency will also be addressed by decreasing friction within the moving components of the drivetrain.

Kunihiko Kakimoto will continue as the Executive Team Director of the teams driving GT500 GT-Rs.

Nissan has also revealed its intent to race for the first time in Australia since the 1992 Touring Car Championship. The Japanese maker saw various victories previously, which it hopes to repeat.

Four of its new Altima V8 Supercars will lead the factory team for 2013, two of which will be driven by James Moffat and Michael Caruso, while the other two Altimas will be driven by brothers Todd and Rick Kelly.

The team are currently preparing for the opening race of the 2013 V8 Supercars Championship, which will be at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide Parklands in March.

Darren Cox, who is Nissan's Director for Global Motorsports and the global lead for the company's racing programs said: "Nissan sees Motorsport as a key element in building our brand globally."

"Our focus is providing motorsport fans access to our innovative and exciting programs from around the world; from V8 Supercars to Super GT in Japan and the global sensation that is GT Academy. These will be complemented by surprises on and off track as we explore more innovative approaches to motorsport."

Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn recently opened a brand new Nismo facility, and the manufacturer has also announced its intent to return to Le Mans with a pioneering all-electric race car. Nismo also plans to build an "ultimate" version of the GT-R, the GT-R Nismo.

Aidan Rennie-Jones

Quick news: Skoda Citigo Sport, Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell, Mazda production rises

Posted: 27 Feb 2013 03:25 AM PST

Racy makeover for Skoda's city car, Hyundai's hydrogen-powered SUV and more Mazdas being built and sold

A Sport package is now available for the Skoda Citigo. Based on the 1.0 MPI SE, the Sport gains 15in 'Auriga' alloy wheels and sports suspension that lowers the car by 15mm. A bespoke interior and three unique paint schemes also feature. The Citigo Sport costs from £10,290.

Hyundai has become the first mass producer of fuel cell vehicles. Its factory in Ulsan, Korea has begun building the hydrogen-powered ix35 SUV, and plans to make 1000 before 2015 for private and public leasing. The ix35 Fuel Cell has a range of 369 miles and a 100mph top speed.

Mazda has released its production figures for January. Compared to January 2012, this year saw the Japanese firm produce 100,244 vehicles, a rise of 3.8%. Demand for the new 6 family car in foreign markets and domestically meant exports and Japanese sales increased also.

Porsche Cayenne Turbo S first drive

Posted: 27 Feb 2013 02:35 AM PST

Uprated 542bhp version of the Cayenne Turbo packs 911 Carrera S pace Consider the facts. Here's a car that weighs 2215kg and yet it can dispatch the benchmark 0-62mph sprint in just 4.5sec – a time that matches that of the latest Porsche 911 Carrera S. With less than flattering aerodynamics, it also manages to achieve a top speed of 176mph.The latest of Porsche's second-generation Cayenne models can also hold its own off-road. It comes with multi-stage air suspension that gives 273mm of ground clearance in its highest setting and some impressive four-wheel drive hardware, including the latest in electronic torque vectoring to juggle drive between individual wheels at the rear.Among the Cayenne Turbo S's true highlights is a lightly reworked version of the blown V8 petrol engine found in the standard Cayenne Turbo – a potent proposition in its own right. The same unit also sees service in the monstrously fast Porsche Panamera Turbo S.There are other subtle power-enhancing tweaks, with the 4.8-litre, 90-degree direct-injection unit receiving a more free-flowing inlet manifold, increased turbocharger boost pressure and remapped electronics. Power climbs by 49bhp, peaking at 542bhp to make this not only the fastest but also the most powerful iteration of the Porsche off-roader to ever see series production. Torque is also up by 37lb ft at 553lb ft – developed on a band of revs between 2250 and 4500rpm.Unlike in the Porsche Panamera Turbo S, which uses a seven-speed, dual-clutch PDK gearbox, the heady reserves are channelled through an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with a conventional torque converter to all four wheels. 

Geneva motor show: Chevrolet Captiva facelift

Posted: 27 Feb 2013 02:09 AM PST

Large Chevrolet Captiva SUV receives a mid-life refresh comprising cosmetic and equipment upgrades

Chevrolet will launch a revamped version of its Captiva at next week's Geneva motor show. The  SUV features a raft of cosmetic and equipment upgrades to keep it competitive in a crowded market sector.

From the front, the revised Captiva is marked out by restyled foglamps, a lower bumper and new grille. At the rear, chromed tailpipes and LED tail lights feature, alongside a redesigned bumper. The cosmetic makeover is completed by new 18in wheels.

The Captiva's interior features updated trims and fabrics, with leather upholstery and seven seats optional. New equipment on certain specifications includes keyless start, heated rear seats and dual-zone climate control.

This spring also sees the arrival of the Chevrolet Trax in Britain. The Vauxhall Mokka twin will be offered with either front- or four-wheel drive, and three engines. The 128bhp 1.7-litre diesel is expected to be the biggest seller in Britain, with the two petrol engines (a 1.4-litre turbo with 138bhp  and a 114bhp 1.6) claiming the rest.

The Trax will be offered with Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system, which streams smartphone content to a seven-inch touchscreen. It also offers compatibility with the iPhone Siri voice-assistance system.

Geneva motor show: Nissan Leaf facelift

Posted: 27 Feb 2013 12:00 AM PST

Leaf receives an array of updates, and new basic trim means entry-level car is only £20k

Nissan has extended the range and cut the price of its Leaf electric car as part of a host of changes for a new British-built version.

All cars for Europe will now be built at Nissan's plant in Sunderland, with deliveries expected in June. It will be seen in public for the first time at the Geneva motor show.

There have been more than 100 changes over the previous Japanese-built model, including an increase in range from 109 miles to 124 miles.

Nissan has also tweaked the styling, improved the luggage capacity, boosted cold weather performance with a new heat pump, retuned the ride and handling and added an optional fast-charger that cuts recharge times from eight hours to four.

A new entry-level Visia trim should bring the price of the Nissan Leaf down closer to £20,000, including a £5000 government grant.


Geneva motor show: Range Rover Evoque nine-speed auto

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 04:01 PM PST

Evoque will become first regular production car with advanced nine-speed gearbox

The Range Rover Evoque will be the first regular production car to be fitted with a nine-speed automatic gearbox.

The new ZF-supplied 9HP transmission initially will replace the existing six-speed unit across all-wheel-drive versions of the Evoque, with "significant improvements in fuel economy and a corresponding reduction in CO2 emissions" promised.

The closer ratios are said to improve shift quality, refinement and acceleration response, and reduce noise at higher cruising speeds.

The top ratio in the torque converter gearbox is particularly tall to improve fuel economy, while the bottom ratio is much lower than that in the current six-speed unit to improve the Evoque's off-road ability.

A 'skip-shift' function is also included, so gears can be skipped under rapid deceleration or firmer throttle use. The gearbox can also recognise driving styles and detect when more urgent shifts are required or when a relaxed shifting style is desired.

The Range Rover Evoque's new gearbox is 6mm longer but it weighs 7.5kg less than the outgoing six-speed transmission. It will premiere at the Geneva motor show next week.


Geneva motor show: Volkswagen Golf GTI

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 03:00 PM PST

Mk7 version of the GTI to be offered with 217bhp or 227bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre engine

Volkswagen has made its new Golf GTI Mk7 faster and more powerful than ever, ahead of its UK launch in June.

The final specification of the production car has now been confirmed ahead of its Geneva motor show launch next week, and the hot hatch is nearly identical to the 'concept' version shown last autumn.

Two versions of the car will be offered: a 217bhp standard car and a 227bhp Performance Package version, a first for the Golf GTI. A turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine with 258lb ft is used in both cars.

A six-speed manual gearbox is standard in both cars, with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic available as an option. The standard GTI can crack 0-62mph in 6.5sec and reach a 153mph top speed. 

Both cars share the same 47.1mpg combined economy, 139g/km CO2 emissions and 1276kg kerb weight.

The Performance Package cuts 0.1sec off the 0-62mph time and adds 2mph at the top end.

The GTI gets a lowered sports chassis, twin exhaust tailpipes, 17-inch 'Brooklyn' alloys and a body kit with wider sills and integrated rear diffuser. Cabin features include a sports steering wheel and pedals, plus traditional plaid sports seats.

Standard models get 314mm ventilated front discs and 300mm rear unventilated discs. Performance Package versions feature ventilated disc brakes all round, 342mm at the front and 310mm at the rear.

Prices for the new VW Golf GTI are yet to be confirmed but are expected to start at around £26,000 for the three-door manual version and £27,500 for the DSG-equipped version.

Five-door models will likely command a premium of around £650, while the Performance Package should cost in the region of £1,000.

Volkswagen has also confirmed the specification of a new GTD model, which largely shares its looks with the GTI. Power comes from a 181bhp, 280lb ft 2.0 TDI engine.

Equipped with a standard six-speed manual gearbox, it can crack 0-62mph in 7.5sec on its way to a 137mph top speed. Combined economy is rated at 67.3mpg and CO2 emissions are just 109g/km.

F1 2013 form guide: it's now slightly clearer than mud

Posted: 25 Feb 2013 04:16 AM PST

It's not long until the F1 season starts but it's still not clear which teams or drivers stand to do well

F1 fans are beginning to get excited about the new season that kicks off in the middle of March, and while some of the internet sites seem to think they know who is going to be winning this year, in the pit lane the story is rather different.

"No-one is massively standing out," says Jenson Button. 

In Barcelona we had the odd situation in which Nico Rosberg said that Mercedes can win this year, while his team-mate Lewis Hamilton said on the same day that the team is not ready for success. Figure that out!

What is quite interesting is that in the eight days of testing that have taken place in the course of February, at the Jerez and Barcelona circuits in Spain, there have been eight different drivers who have set the fastest times each day. The only pattern is that the eight have come from four teams: McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes-Benz.

Red Bull Racing, which has won both F1 titles for the last three years, has not been quickest on any single day of testing, and yet the team does not seem to be in any sort of panic. If one looks at the list of drivers who have been second fastest on each of the eight days, one finds Red Bull drivers twice, Force India twice and even Sauber.

Compare this list to the finishing order in the Constructors' Championship of 2012 and you can see that the same teams ranked first to seventh in the Constructors' title: Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, Lotus, Mercedes, Sauber and Force India.

It is quite possible that we will find out that nothing much has changed when the F1 circus turns up in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix. It might even be that we have a sequence of races with different winners, as happened at the start of last year.


Formula 1 has always been rather forgiving of circuits in countries that are needed to give the sport its global flavour. The tracks in Canada and Brazil have very poor quality facilities compared to all the fancy venues in Asia and the Middle East, but Bernie Ecclestone has not been able to strong arm the Canadians and the Brazilians into doing a better job - because they know that he needs them as much as they need him.

There was a similar problem for many years with Monaco before finally the Monégasques were bamboozled into spending some money.

With F1 now looking at a growth spurt in the Americas, both Canada and Brazil probably need to buck up their ideas. There is increasing noise from Mexico City about the revival of the F1 track there, now that there are two Mexicans in Grand Prix racing.

There are plans too for a second US race, this one being in New York City (or at least that is how it will look on TV, even if the race track is actually in New Jersey). And there is even mumbling about the Long Beach Grand Prix switching from IndyCar back to Formula 1, if the money can be found.

IndyCar is not the draw it used to be, and while the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach has been trying to bolster crowd numbers by adding the American Le Mans Series, drifting and even the Robby Gordon Stadium Super Trucks off-road series to the programme, there are still questions about whether it might be more successful if the city dug deep and paid for F1. 

The goal of the IndyCar race has long been to fill the city's hotels and restaurants, and to use TV to promote Long Beach as a holiday destination. F1 would cost a lot more money, but it would spread the word far wider than IndyCar can do.

In the meantime the folk of Montreal are scrabbling to figure out how to raise the $40 million that they need to upgrade the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to F1 standards.

Geneva motor show: Ford EcoSport

Posted: 25 Feb 2013 01:00 AM PST

Ford's new compact SUV to come with range of advanced features, including emergency communications systems

Ford has unveiled its new European market Ford EcoSport, a compact SUV with a range of advanced equipment and options. 

The EcoSport, due to be launched at the 83rd Geneva motor show next month, is Ford's second offering into the SUV market. It sits just below the freshly updated and larger Kuga in its product range on the B-segment platform, sharing underpinnings with the Fiesta. It will host a range of frugal petrol and diesel engines, topped off by a 123bhp EcoBoost petrol unit. 

Ford is set to introduce several innovative new technologies on the upcoming EcoSport crossover, including smartphone-car connectivity, as well as emergency communications systems in the event of a crash, called 'SYNC Applink' and 'SYNC Emergency Assistance'.

The technologies, which base around integrating the smartphone craze into the driving experience using in-car connectivity, were showcased at the Mobile World Congress, Barcelona. The MWC is an extremely important mobile technology show, featuring the most current updates and announcements from technology firms and their affiliates; an ideal place for Ford to show off these new ideas.

Ford's 'SYNC Applink' is a feature which will allow the driver to connect their smartphone to the car's internal systems, and activate apps via voice-control. Not only is this useful for drivers, it reduces the risk posed by drivers illegally using their mobile phones at the wheel considerably. These features allow the driver to "enjoy the same level of connectivity in their cars as they would do at home" said Ford's vice president of research and innovation, Paul Mascarenas.

Also to feature on the new Fiesta-based crossover will be 'SYNC Emergency Assistance'; a safety application which allows the driver to contact the emergency services after a crash. The system also relays information about the whereabouts of the vehicle to the local authorities, in the appropriate language for where the car happens to be; meaning more rapid response times from emergency teams as the language barrier is removed from the situation. 

A similar concept has featured on BMW's iDrive system, as well as cars from PSA and Volvo, however, Ford says that the EcoSport will be one of its first to offer SYNC technologies, as the brand introduces them across its model range.

These technologies are just some of the options available on the EcoSport, as the car is claimed to boast a 'comprehensive package' of safety and driver assistance features. 

Jimi Beckwith 

Geneva motor show: Bertone Jet 2+2 Aston Martin Rapide shooting brake

Posted: 24 Feb 2013 04:01 PM PST

Bertone has created the Aston Martin Rapide-based Jet 2+2 shooting brake for the Geneva motor show

Italian design and coachbuilding firm Bertone has created this exclusive shooting brake concept version of the Aston Martin Rapide.

The concept known as Bertone Jet 2+2 has been created for the Geneva motor show to celebrate both Aston's centenary and 60 years of collaborations between Aston Martin and Bertone.

The Jet 2+2 follows the Jet 2 concept car from 2004, which was a shooting brake version of the Vanquish. It has been commissioned as a strict one-off by an Aston Martin collector and has the Gaydon firm's approval. 

The elegant Jet 2+2 retains the same mechanicals as the Rapide, and the same dimensions also. Power comes from a 470bhp version of Aston's 5.9-litre V12 taken from the current Rapide, rather than the more potent 550bhp version from the upcoming Rapide S. That model also makes its debut in Geneva.

The biggest change from Rapide to Jet 2+2 is its altered shooting brake-style body. Stretched, muscular lines help accentuate the car's sleek, elegant shape.

Bertone says the C-pillars are bent forwards and connected to the tall, muscular wheel arches to create a perception of movement even when the car is stationary. A sharply raked tailgate and pronounced rear end with a full-length LED light strip running through it helps complete the transformation from saloon to shooting brake.

Inside the 2+2 cabin are four individual seats. Headroom is increased for rear passengers over the Rapide saloon thanks to the switch in bodystyle. The two rear seats fold flat and can be covered by a sliding cover to create a sizable luggage space, access to which is aided by a wide loading area when the tailgate is lifted.

Special wood, aluminium and two-tone leather trims have also been fitted to give the car the feel of that of a fine-tailored suit.

Geneva motor show: Hyundai Grand Santa Fe

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 07:16 AM PST

New Grand Santa Fe to help Hyundai meet rising demand for larger SUVs in Europe

The new Hyundai Grand Santa Fe will be unveiled at the 2013 Geneva motor show.

First seen at the 2012 New York motor show, the Grand Santa Fe is a large SUV offered in six- or seven-seat configurations. It won't be coming to the UK, however, as it will only be available in left-hand drive configuration.

It will join Hyundai's European range alongside the new Santa Fe. The Grand Santa Fe is both taller, wider and longer than the Santa Fe, offering more interior and boot space.

The differences aren't limited to the Grand's dimensions. Further distinguishing it from its smaller counterpart is a reshaped grille, a different front bumper and fog lamps and a restyled rear quarter. It also features bespoke 18- or 19-inch alloy wheels.

Improving the look and feel of the cabin is a full-length panoramic sunroof with no centre beam. Standard equipment will include three-mode adjustable steering and a 4.3-inch touch screen.

Hyundai has calibrated the European market version of the car's handling specifically, claiming that it will offer the "more damped, responsive driving experience expected by European buyers."

The Grand Santa Fe will be offered with a single powertrain option, a 2.2-litre diesel engine coupled to a six-speed automatic gearbox. It will output 194bhp and emit 192g/km of CO2.

Allan Rushforth, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Hyundai Motor Europe, commented: "The addition of Grand Santa Fe to the Hyundai portfolio will help meet the rising demand for E-segment SUV models in Europe."

Geneva motor show: Citroen C3 facelift

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 04:00 PM PST

Mid-life facelift for Citroën's five-door Ford Fiesta rival at the Geneva motor show

Citroën has given its Citroën C3 supermini a mid-life nip and tuck ahead of a UK launch in late spring. It will be shown in public at the Geneva motor show next month.

The revised look for the curvy five-door includes new lights and bumpers front and rear, plus the option of a 'Zenith' front windscreen that runs back into the roof to improve visibility.

New 67bhp 1.0 and 81bhp 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engines from the Peugeot 208 make it into the C3.

Fuel economy is improved by around 25 per cent and CO2 emissions cut by a similar amount over the old 1.1i, 1.2 VTi and 1.4 VTi engines they replace.

A 118bhp 1.6-litre petrol is also offered alongside four diesels, with a CO2 figure as low as 87g/km from the e-HDi 70 version.

Geneva motor show: Volkswagen Golf hybrid

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 07:01 AM PST

New eco-friendly Volkswagen Golf set to go into production in 2014

This is the Volkswagen Golf Mk7 plug-in hybrid, which will go on sale in 2014. It uses the same drivetrain as the Audi A3 e-tron, also announced today.

This means a combination of a 148bhp 1.4-litre TFSI petrol engine and a 100bhp electric motor for a combined 256lb ft of torque, a 138mph top speed and a 0-62mph sprint time of 7.6sec. According to the official EU test cycle, the Golf achieves 188mpg or a CO2 rating of just 35g/km.

The MQB platform has been engineered to have a modular rear structure into which a number of different drive systems can be fitted into the same space, including all-wheel drive, natural gas tanks and the battery packs for the hybrid version.

The hybrid transmission combines a petrol engine and electric motor with a six-speed e-S Tronic transmission. This Golf will run on petrol only, electric only and with the two motors combined.

The latter mode is called 'boosting' , while the drivetrain can also go into fuel-saving 'coasting' mode when both motors shut down. In pure electric mode, the Golf can travel up to 31 miles and has a maximum speed of 81mph. It will make its debut at the Geneva motor show next week.

Geneva motor show: Volkswagen XL1

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 03:00 AM PST

Revolutionary new two-seater diesel-electric hybrid has CO2 emissions of just 21g/km and real world economy of 127mpg

This is VW's radical, lightweight, VW XL1 which promises an EU-certified economy of 314mpg and 21g/km CO2 emissions when it goes into limited production later this year follow its Geneva motor show reveal next month.

Powered by a 47bhp two-cylinder 800cc TDI engine backed up by a 27bhp electric motor and 5.5kWh battery pack, the two-seat car is claimed to have a Cd rating of just 0.189.

The upshot is that the plug-in hybrid XL1 is probably the most economical and most aerodynamically efficient production car of all time.

First shown as a running concept two years ago, the carbonfibre-bodied XL1 is being built at the VW-owned Karmann factory in Osnabrück, alongside the VW Golf cabriolet and the new Porsche Boxster.

Weighing just 795kg, the XL1 is some 3.8m long and 1.66m wide, which means it is only marginally smaller than a VW Polo supermini. However, it is only 1.15m high, some 129mm lower than a Boxster. VW says the XL1 has its top speed limited to 99.4mph, but that it can hit 62mph in just 12.7sec. It uses aluminium double wishbone front suspension, a semi-trailing link suspension at the rear, carbonfibre reinforced plastic anti-roll bars and ceramic brake discs.

The XL1 can travel for 31 miles just on battery power alone and has a claimed range of 310 miles on diesel and battery power combined, despite having a tiny 10-litre fuel tank.

Rough calculations suggest that the XL1 is capable of a real-world 127mpg in ideal conditions, a product of the car's 795kg kerb weight, its very slippery body and wind-cheating and low resistance narrow tyres on magnesium wheels, which measure just 115/80 at the front and 145/55 at the rear. A guide to the XL1's efficiency is that VW claims it requires just 8.3bhp to be able to maintain a steady 62mph cruise.

The hybrid system's electric motor and its dedicated clutch are fitted between the 800cc two-cylinder diesel engine and the XL1's seven-speed DSG gearbox. The lithium-ion battery is mounted in the nose of the car and can be recharged when the car is braking and coasting.

In pure electric mode, the engine's clutch disengages and the motor shuts down. The engine is brought back to life via what VW calls 'pulse starting', where the electric motor spins up to high speed and is coupled back to the engine, accelerating the idled engine to the revolving speed required for smooth starting.

The extreme weight-saving measures include using carbonfibre reinforced plastic for the body, the skin of which is just 1.2mm thick. Aluminium crash structures are used front and rear and as crash beams in the doors, to absorb impact forces. 

The windscreen is just 3.2mm thick. VW says the XL1's construction breaks down into a 227kg drivetrain (including the battery), 153kg running gear, 105kg electrical system, 80kg of on-board equipment, such as seats and instruments, and a body that weighs 230kg. Even the dashboard is made from a lightweight wood fibre material that's just 1.4mm thick.

The first production run will be of 50 cars, which are fully homologated for sale in Europe. After that, sources say the XL1 will be built to meet demand, though VW has yet to give any clue about the likely price.

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