Thursday, February 14, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Three Mercedes A45 AMG-based models confirmed

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 04:07 AM PST

Trio of cars based on the new hot hatch due in the next year, including an SUV, saloon and shooting brake

Mercedes-Benz is to introduce three further AMG models which will share the underpinnings of the A45 AMG. The new performance flagships are expected to make their respective debuts at motor shows over the next year.

The CLA45 AMG is likely to be shown first, probably at the New York show in March. Following it at September's Frankfurt show will be the GLA45 AMG SUV. The final member of the triumvirate is set to be the CLA45 AMG Shooting Brake; it has been rumoured that it will arrive at next year's Geneva motor show.

All three cars will share the A45 AMG's 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo. By producing 355bhp from 1991cc, the engine has the highest specific output of any 2.0-litre production engine.

Allied to 332lb ft of torque and a seven-speed dual-clutch auto, the A45 is capable of 0-62mph in 4.6sec and a top speed of 155mph.

Expect similar figures for the AMG CLA models, but blunted acceleration in the heavier, less aerodynamic GLA. The A45 AMG returns 34mpg on the combined cycle and emits 161g/km of CO2, again figures likely to be replicated by the three newcomers.

New Kia Cee'd GT revealed

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 03:44 AM PST

Official image from Kia reveals five-door hot hatch for the first time ahead of its Geneva motor show reveal

Kia has released the first image of its upcoming Kia Cee'd GT hot hatch, ahead of the car's debut at next month's Geneva motor show.

The Cee'd GT, alongside the 3-door Procee'd GT, represents Kia's first foray into the realm of performance hatches.

Both cars are mechanically identical and powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged GDI engine. Producing 201bhp and 195lb ft, Kia claims both cars are capable of 0-62mph in 7.9sec.

The Cee'd and Procee'd GT will begin production in mid-May ahead of UK sales in the summer. Expect prices and specs to be confirmed at Geneva, although a figure of around £23,000 has previously been mooted.

Video: Mini GP vs Mini Hayabusa

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 03:13 AM PST

We pitch the fastest production Mini against one with a bike engine

The Mini John Cooper Works GP is the fastest production Mini ever built, according to BMW. They may well be right, but we've found what could be the fastest Mini ever, the Suzuki Hayabusa-engined ZCars Mini Busa.

Bentley Continental GTC Speed first drive review

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 02:28 AM PST

The Bentley Continental GTC Speed is the most powerful car Bentley currently offers. What's it like to drive? Bentley makes much of the fact that the Bentley Continental GTC Speed is the fastest open four-seater in the world. It's also the most powerful Bentley currently offered, thanks to the McLaren F1-teasing 616bhp boasted by its twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre engine. What it's less keen to publicise is that, thanks to a kerb weight just five kilos short of 2.5 tonnes, its power-to-weight ratio is inferior to that of a Porsche Cayman R. Consequently the GTC is everything you don't want in an expensive, fast and sporting car. Which is to say it is both open and heavy.

New pictures of McLaren P1 revealed during Middle East tour

Posted: 13 Feb 2013 10:00 PM PST

Latest pictures of the new McLaren P1 hypercar were taken at official shoot at the Bahrain International Circuit

New McLaren P1 images have been released of the British-built hypercar at the Bahrain International Circuit, ahead of the car's official launch in the United Arab Emirates.

The P1 is currently being taken on a global tour to attract potential buyers. The tour has already visited North America, which will be the car's biggest market. The Middle East is expected to be another vital market.

No more than 500 examples of the McLaren P1 will be built, but the run of the £750k hypercar is yet to sell out.

McLaren Automotive regional director for the Middle East & Africa, Mark Harrison said: "After a successful launch in Bahrain, we are very excited to be bringing the McLaren P1 to the United Arab Emirates." 

The McLaren P1, set to rival the new Ferrari F150 and Porsche 918 Spyder, is designed to be the best driver's car in the world. F1-inspired engineering is utilised throughout, with the P1 featuring advanced aerodynamics and carbonfibre construction.

It's estimated that the McLaren P1 will have a power-to-weight ratio of over 600bhp per tonne, indicating a total power output of around 720bhp. The car will ultilise hybrid technology.

The P1's interior is stripped out and made primarily of carbonfibre. The instrumentation is digital and the car has sat-nav, climate control and a bespoke sound system.

Programme director at McLaren, Paul Mackenzie, says that despite the P1's performance it can still be driven in great comfort and refinement. 

The McLaren P1 will make its debut at the Geneva motor show next month.

Boris’s 2020 vision for clean air

Posted: 13 Feb 2013 11:55 AM PST

The Mayor of London wants to turn the centre of capital into an ultra-low emissions zone. The answer lies with a certain fossil fuel.

This morning Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, announced that he wants to create the world's first 'ultra low emission zone'. 'My vision is a central zone where almost all the vehicles running during working hours are either zero or low emission. This would deliver incredible benefits in air quality and stimulate the delivery and mass use of low emission technology." 

Boris wants Transport for London to work on a feasibility study for just how this idea could be rolled out in 2020. Sounds mad, doesn't it? And Boris won't be the Mayor of London in 2020 (he's more likely to be the leader of the opposition) so surely this is just a PR stunt to fill a cold day in February?

In fact, it's a smart political that opens up the opportunity to - finally - have a proper conversation about Co2 and the real meaning of emissions and pollution. So here's my submission to TfL…

Dear Transport for London

Ultra-low emissions zones. Sound pretty cutting edge doesn't it? But we need to make sure everyone understands the difference between 'pollution' and 'emissions'. I've been banging on about air pollution since the ridiculous Congestion Charge was introduced in 2003. Co2 emissions are not locally harmful to human health. Pollution such as particulates and nitrogen oxides, for which there are EU legal limits, are harmful and are responsible for thousands of early deaths each year.

And please don't go galloping off on wild green goose chases. The UK's hydrogen fuelling network is over a decade away and battery-powered vehicles will remain expensive, short-range, affected by cold weather and inconvenient to recharge. Moreover, most of the vehicles that will be subject the ultra low emissions zone will be owned by the self-employed and private business for whom every penny counts. These people will want affordable, robust and cheap-to-service ultra-low emissions vehicles, like the conventional diesel vehicles they drive now.

The answer, as you might have guessed, is gas power. Gas is the lowest Co2 fossil fuel but produces virtually no pollution when it is burnt. Ever wondered why you can have open gas flames in your kitchen without being poisoned? 

VW estimates that there is 231 years of gas supply in the world and the British Geological Survey thinks there's enough shale gas under the UK to heat all our homes for 1500 years and that we should be able to easily extract 300 years' worth. There's 13.7 kWh of energy in a kilo of Compressed Natural Gas: just 8.9 kWh in a litre of petrol.

Commercial vehicles can be easily adapted for mass production, with tweaked petrol engines (so less urban noise pollution) and roof-mounted gas tanks. The new owners of the Black Cab company can re-engineer the old bus to accommodate gas tanks. Single-deck buses can use roof-mounted gas tanks (the whole Californian bus fleet is powered by CNG, as are Hong Kong's taxis). Refuelling points can be accommodated at existing petrol stations. 

Even wind turbines are part of this solution. Artificial Methane can be made by using wind power to 'crack' seawater into hydrogen and oxygen. Combining the hydrogen and Co2 creates the methane gas. The Mayor also says that building site machinery creates 12 percent of all the capital's Nitrogen Dioxide pollution. The only solution is gas-powered machinery, like the gas-powered forklifts already used in warehouses.

As you can see, there is only one sensible, cost-effective, real-world way to create an 'ultra low POLLUTION zone'. The reward is clean city air and quieter streets. And if London gets it right, the rest of the country will surely follow.

Yours Sincerely 

Hilton Holloway

Quick news: Zafira Tourer diesel; Lexus IS price; Ferrari F150 detailed

Posted: 13 Feb 2013 06:56 AM PST

Cleaner diesel for Vauxhall's MPV, Lexus IS hybrid to be sub-£30k and speculation over the price of the Ferrari F150

A new diesel engine is being introduced to the Vauxhall Zafira. On sale here in the summer after a Geneva motor show debut, the 1.6 CDTI Start/Stop is the first in a new family of four-cylinder diesels from Vauxhall. It offers 134bhp and 236lb ft, while returning 68.9mpg and 109g/km.

Lexus has announced prices and specs for its new IS saloon. British sales begin this summer, with the IS 250 SE starting at £26,495. The hybrid IS 300h SE is available from £29,495 with CO2 emissions of 99g/km. Each is also available in Luxury, F Sport, and Premier specifications.

A price and production run number have been mooted for the upcoming Ferrari F150. Maranello's McLaren P1 rival is expected to be limited to 499 units with each costing around €1.2 million (£1.04 million). A name comprising numbers and letters, unlike its Enzo predecessor, has also been suggested.


Lamborghini readies Ferrari F12 rival

Posted: 13 Feb 2013 06:41 AM PST

A front-engined, four-wheel drive Lamborghini GT is set to be revealed at the Geneva motor show

Lamborghini looks set to steal the Geneva motor show headlines with a front-engined V12 GT that's designed to rival the Ferrari F12.

Company chairman Stephan Winkelmann has told Autocar that Lamborghini will reveal "something truly extraordinary that's based on the V12" at Geneva next month. The concept will form part of the company's ongoing 50th anniversary celebrations.

According to Winkelmann, the car will have two doors, two seats and a V12 engine — but its underpinnings will not be based on those of the Aventador. This means that it will be a front/mid-engined car, just like the Ferrari F12, but featuring Lamborghini's staple of four-wheel drive and forged carbon construction.

Autocar understands that the new Lambo will be a concept for future consideration, not a model that is confirmed for production.

Winkelmann has admitted that his main focus right now is persuading the board of the Volkswagen Group, which owns Lamborghini, to green-light the Urus SUV. "Everyone at Lamborghini wants this car to happen," he told Autocar. "But now the decision is largely out of our hands.

"We would need to sell between 3000 and 4000 examples a year for the Urus to justify its financial investment, and I'm confident that we could do that. It's a decision they [the VW board] will, I hope, make very soon."

If given the go-ahead by VW, the Urus will sell for "approximately the same amount as a Gallardo" so expect £140k-£160k.

Although Winkelmann told Autocar that naturally aspirated engines remain key to Lamborghini when it comes to sports and supersports cars (like the Aventador and next-generation Gallardo, due in 2014), the situation would be different with an SUV. "In a car like that, a hybrid turbo would make more sense," he said. 

It remains to be seen if the Volkswagen Group will allow Lamborghini to bolster its 50th anniversary celebrations at Geneva by announcing that a new third model will indeed be added to the range.

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