- Bentley Continental Flying Spur breaks cover
- Ford Tourneo Custom first drive review
- Peugeot 3008 HDI 115 Allure first drive review
- China’s Geely bids for Fisker
- Autocar magazine 20 February preview
- Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet 1.2 TSI first drive review
- Skoda Octavia estate revealed
- Porsche 911 GT3 - latest spy pics
- Peugeot set to launch 208 FE at Geneva
- Danica fever at NASCAR's blue riband race, the Daytona 500
- Peugeot 2008 Hybrid Air concept
- Quick news: Chevrolet SS, Fisker, Citroën C1, Mercedes S-class
- Volvo to roll out new-generation cars from 2014
- Design students' Alfa Romeo Gloria concept
- Quick news: Ferrari sales climb, new option for Leon, Disco Volante Touring
- Rinspeed microMAX commuter vehicle set for Geneva
- BMW M remains committed to rear-wheel drive
Posted: 19 Feb 2013 05:21 AM PST
Pictures of the Bentley Continental Flying Spur have been leaked online ahead of the car's official unveiling this week
These are understood to be the first official pictures of the Bentley Continental Flying Spur. The images have surfaced on the internet ahead of the car's official unveiling, but show an evolution of the design themes premiered on the latest Continental GT and Continental GTC.
The most radical design changes are at the rear, where the car features slimmer rear light units. The front grille is positioned almost vertically, and revisions to the C-pillars lend a sleeker look in profile.
The interior appears to be an evolution of that installed in the current car. The dashboard panelling now flows into the door cappings, and the steering wheel has been replaced with the unit fitted to the Continental GT.
There is no official word on the engine line-up, although it is expected to comprise of the firm's 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and 6.0-litre W12. A Speed model is likely to join the range next year.
Bentley will premiere the Continental Flying Spur at next month's Geneva motor show.
Posted: 19 Feb 2013 04:45 AM PST
Top-end Transit showcases the modern van's talents, as well as offers nine-seat accommodation If you needed proof that 'White Van Man' is an outmoded concept, the new, £33,000 Ford Tourneo Custom 300 is it. Sure, it's a version of the all-new Ford Transit, easily Britain's favourite van (and definitely available in white) but it's also the ultimate example of how luxuriously specified these vehicles can be. And it shows how impressive they are to drive.The Custom is just one of an enormous and complex range of Transits: you can have high or low roof, short or long wheelbase, jumbo, windows or not, double cab, and a thing called Kombi, which lets you stow the seats to leave a big carrying space. Whatever you want to do, you can do it with a Tranny. Or Tourneo, as Ford calls the ritziest versions.
Posted: 19 Feb 2013 04:31 AM PST
New Grip Control option tackles winter elements without resorting to weighty all-wheel drive system The 3008 crossover is Peugeot's family-friendly answer to the likes of the Nissan Qashqai. It combines a high-rise driving position with a more rounded, MPV-like aesthetic and a spacious, flexible interior, along with a comfortable if uninvolving steer.What the 3008 doesn't get is any conventional form of four-wheel drive (the e-HDi hybrid version has electrically driven rear wheels). Instead we have Peugeot's Grip Control – standard with SR spec, or a £470 option on Active and Allure HDI 115 (as here) and HDi 150 models.
Posted: 19 Feb 2013 04:05 AM PST
Troubled US electric car maker evaluating "multiple proposals"
Geely is not commenting on the reports linking it with Fisker but a spokesman at its headquarters in Hangzhou, China has acknowledged that it recently dispatched a team of engineers to the US electric car maker to evaluate its design, technology and engineering operations.
The as-yet-unconfirmed bid by Geely to rest control of the financially embattled US electric car maker is the second to come to light within the last week, following news that rival Chinese state-owned Dongfeng Motor Group has also made an offer for Fisker. Dongfeng has also refused to comment on the specifics of its bid. However, indications are the Geely and Dongfeng bids are not the only offers on the table for the company behind the Karma saloon.
Fisker spokesman Roger Ormisher says the company has received "detailed proposals from multiple parties in different continents, which are now being evaluated".
An Autocar source with close links to Fisker says the bids are "between $200 million and $300 million".
Teaming up with Geely or Dongfeng would help Fisker to stabilise its finances and provide funds to pay back loans of up to $520 million obtained from the US government for on-going development of its electric drive systems and the purchase of a former General Motors factory in Delaware, USA.
Fisker was forced to halt production of its flagship Karma saloon late last year after its battery supplier A123 Systems filed for bankruptcy. It has also placed plans for its smaller Atlantic model, which was originally due to go on sale in 2013, on indefinite hold.
Posted: 19 Feb 2013 02:48 AM PST
In this week's Autocar magazine: new Porsche Cayman versus rivals; five new Bentleys unveiled; Land Rover's future tech; fastest-ever Mini road-tested and crucial McLaren P1 performance details uncovered
Last week we awarded the second-generation Porsche Cayman a five-star verdict in our first drive, but in this week's issue (dated 20 February) there's an even tougher test in store for Stuttgart's latest coupé.
All three cars fit in the £50,000-60,000 bracket (when the Cayman S is specified with the PDK gearbox) and each of them offers distinct thrills. We pass judgement on them all in our seven-page comparison.
The manic Mini John Cooper Works GP is assessed by our team of expert road testers. The £28,790 rocket is the fastest production Mini ever built and boasts a 0-60mph time of 6.6sec. But can it deliver the sparkle that befits a halo model? Find out in our eight-page road test.
Our news team lifts the lid on Bentley's product plans for the rest of the decade. Five new and revamped models are planned as part of an ambitious expansion plan to lift production to a record 15,000 cars by 2018, and we lift the lid on all of them.
Bentley also stars in one of 'extreme drive' features, as Andrew Frankel takes a 202mph Continental GTC Speed on a trip across California and the vast expanses of Nevada.
There's plenty to talk about in our updates on our long-term fleet, not least because we assess our Volvo V40, which has undergone some manufacturer revisions since our last report. We also report on life with our Seat Mii, Fiat Panda, BMW M135i, Volkswagen CC, Chevrolet Volt and Mazda CX-5.
And last (but least only in terms of cost) our used buying guide focuses on how to bag a deceptively fast Mazda 6 MPS for just £3500.
Posted: 19 Feb 2013 02:17 AM PST
Entry-level Beetle cabriolet significantly undercuts its Golf sibling, but it's too compromised to warrant serious consideration. This is not our introduction to the new Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet - we've already sampled the big-boned soft-top with the 138bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine - but this is our first go with the petrol motor (and six-speed manual gearbox) expected to prove most popular with UK buyers.The familiar 1.2-litre TSI sits at the base of a line-up which includes the punchy 158bhp 1.4-litre and inadvisably muscular 197bhp 2.0-litre variants (the 104bhp 1.6-litre diesel is also available). As it does elsewhere, the dinkiest petrol unit delivers 104bhp and in Beetle drag is capable of returning as much as 46.3mpg while emitting 142g/km CO2.That may leave it trailing in the wake of the smaller diesel engine's figures (62.8mpg and 118g/km) but as it's consistently £1500 cheaper than the oil burner and far more appealing to interact with, the 1.2-litre TSI arguably deserves its headliner status.And for those unconvinced by the Beetle's latest costume change, it's also probably worth mentioning that in entry-level trim the drop-top undercuts the equivalent Golf Cabriolet by almost £3k. We drove it in the slightly more expensive Design format which comes with Bluetooth, air con, MDI interface and the body-coloured dash.
Posted: 19 Feb 2013 02:00 AM PST
Skoda has revealed the Octavia estate ahead of its debut at next month's Geneva motor show
The Skoda Octavia estate will offer a maximum 1740 litres of boot capacity with the rear seats folded flat, comfortably outspacing anything else in its segment. The new model, which will launch in the UK in early June, will offer a standard seats-up capacity of 610 litres.
The new car's wheelbase is 11cm longer than the hatchback, resulting in a 73mm increase in rear passenger room. It is 90mm longer and 45mm wider than the current Octavia estate.
Practical features include a double-sided boot mat, a luggage net, bag hooks and an ice scraper in the fuel filler cap.
Engines are expected to mirror the hatchback's, with a potent vRS version set to follow in the summer.
Skoda will also unveil the new Octavia 4x4 in Geneva. As before, the car will feature a Haldex clutch, but this is likely to be mated exclusively to the 2.0-litre TDI engine.
Posted: 19 Feb 2013 01:47 AM PST
New Porsche 911 GT3 spotted during winter testing
These are the latest spy shots of the new Porsche 911 GT3. Seen here during winter testing, the GT3's new wheels are visible along with the prominent fixed rear spoiler, new bumpers and the integral roll cage.
Porsche insiders have claimed that the new GT3, based on the current 991 platform, will offer 450bhp. Power will probably come from an evolved version of Porsche's 3.8-litre flat six. The standard transmission will most likely be a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
The manufacturer will also offer the GT3 R race car. It utilises the 991 platform but is wider and features a different aero package and a completely redesigned nose. It's set to compete in the FIA GT3 class.
It's thought that the more potent GT3 RS will later return, based on the 991 platform, but not before 2015.
Posted: 19 Feb 2013 01:39 AM PST
Supermini hybrid promises low emissions with hot hatch performance
Peugeot is to reveal a super-efficient hybrid concept based on its Peugeot 208 supermini at the Geneva motor show. The Peugeot 208 FE, which stands for Fun and Efficiency, has been built in collaboration with Total and its subsidiaries.
Based on the 208 1.0 VTI, the FE has been subjected to a thorough overhaul in the pursuit of increased efficiency. The kerb weight has been reduced by 200kg through the use of composite materials in the body panels and windows, whilst modifications to the body itself have reduced the drag co-efficient of the 208 FE. The aerodynamics of the concept are further improved by the fitment of special wheels and tyres.
The drivetrain of the 208 FE combines a reworked version of the standard car's three-cylinder engine with and an electric motor and battery. The one-litre internal combustion engine has a lighter cylinder head, reduced internal friction and a more efficient combustion cycle. An EGC (Electronic Gearbox Control) automated transmission is also fitted to further boost economy.
No power output for the electric assistance has been released yet. However, Peugeot claims the 208 FE will be capable of 0-62mph in 8.0sec while also emitting 49g/km of CO2.
Posted: 19 Feb 2013 01:32 AM PST
Chevrolet's Danica Patrick is the first female driver to qualify on pole for the Daytona 500, and she's expected to be a television ratings winner in the USA
While Formula 1 fans will be watching the testing action this week in Barcelona, over in the United States the NASCAR stock car world is all a-Twitter thanks to the events in qualifying for the Daytona 500 on Sunday.
The 500 is the first round of the NASCAR Sprint Cup and is traditionally the biggest event of the NASCAR year, with a prize fund likely to top $20 million for the first time and a TV audience expected to be at least 30 million and probably more given the excitement that surrounds this year's event.
The viewing figures are likely to go through the roof as a result of Danica Patrick lapping the two and a half mile superspeedway in 45.817 seconds, at an average speed of 196.434mph in her Stewart Haas Racing Go Daddy Chevrolet. She even had the temerity to knock her team boss Tony Stewart off pole.
The 30-year-old from Wisconsin was the eighth of the 45 drivers to attempt to qualify and then had to wait for nearly two hours as the others tried to knock her off pole. To the delight of the mainstream media her challengers included her recently revealed new boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr, who ended up 12th, just ahead of former Formula 1 star Juan Pablo Montoya.
It was a tense wait with several moments when it looked as though the dream would be shattered, notably when multiple NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon became the only other driver to lap the speedway at over 196mph, but his average was only 196.292mph.
Late in proceedings there was another scare when 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne put in an unexpected 195.976mph to grab the third fastest time.
In the end Patrick was unbeatable and became the first female driver to claim a NASCAR Sprint Cup pole position. It was all the more impressive as this will be Patrick's first full season in the Cup.
Only Patrick and Gordon are assured of their starting for the 500, while the other grid positions will be decided by the two 150-mile Budweiser Duel qualifying races that will take place on Thursday. The first of these will be for the drivers who qualified in odd-numbered positions (first, third, fifth, seventh etc) and the second for those who ended up in even-numbered places in the list of qualifiers (second, fourth, sixth, eighth etc).
The result of the two races will then decide grid positions from three to 32, with the other qualifiers being the four fastest drivers who did not finish the qualifying races and a mixture of those with automatic starting slots based on performances last year, and the last NASCAR champion who did not qualify for the race. In total there will be 43 cars at the start of the 55th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday.
Not so much fun for Katherine
While Danica Patrick remains the darling of US racing, Britain's Katherine Legge, who hoped to be competitive in the IndyCar Series this year, has found herself without a drive after Dragon Racing and her sponsor TrueCar decided to dump the Guildford driver in favour of Colombian Sebastián Saavedra.
Legge signed a two-year deal with TrueCar as part of its 'Women Empowered' campaign, designed to assist women to be successful in motorsport. This all went wrong when Dragon Racing boss Jay Penske (son of billionaire race team owner Roger) decided to use the unsuccessful Lotus engines. He got out of that deal but could only get hold of one Chevrolet engine and so Legge had to share her car with Sébastien Bourdais for the rest of the year.
Legge says that things were not helped when Penske and his brother Mark were arrested at the swish Nantucket Yacht Club in the summer after two women challenged them for urinating in the Club parking lot and claimed to have been assaulted.
"This was highly embarrassing, especially with the message that we were trying to portray regarding the empowerment of women in motorsport," said Legge.
The Penske brothers got away with a year on probation, with instructions to avoid alcohol – and 50 hours of community service.
Posted: 19 Feb 2013 01:14 AM PST
Compressed air hybrid launches in a 2008 concept as part of PSA's CO2 reduction plan
Peugeot is to introduce its first concept using the PSA Hybrid Air technology at the Geneva motor show. The 2008 Hybrid Air crossover is part of Peugeot's plans to reduce the average CO2 output of its range to 116 g/km by 2015.
Hybrid Air comprises a conventional petrol-powered internal combustion engine, mated to a bespoke epicyclic automated transmission, assisted by a hydraulic motor that's powered by compressed air. The motor and a pump are positioned in the engine bay on the transmission, fed by a compressed air tank underneath the car, running parallel to the exhaust. The motor and pump can refill the tank with air through harnessing the energy of regenerative braking.
The 2008's internal combustion engine has been extensively reworked to further boost its efficiency. The 1.2 VTI uses 'Diamond Carbon' coating on its components to reduce friction by 30 per cent and split-cooling to reduce warm-up time. It is also 21kg lighter than in previous installations.
The Hybrid Air system is able to run in three modes; in Air (ZEV), the hydraulic motor powers the car using the compressed air stored in the tank; the petrol engine isn't active. As the air depressurises, it displaces a corresponding amount of oil, which runs the hydraulic motor.
The 2008 Hybrid Air can run on petrol power alone, typically when out of urban environments. Combined mode uses both the petrol engine and hydraulic motor to power the car when increased performance is called for. The hydraulic motor can be driven off the compressed air reserves of its pump.
Peugeot claims the technology is capable of a 45 per cent improvement in urban fuel consumption, as a Hybrid Air-equipped car would be running in Air mode for 80 per cent of the time in town. In a B-segment car such as the Citroën C3, emissions of just 69g/km and fuel economy of 97.4mpg have been claimed. The PSA group aims to use Hybrid Air technology to develop a 140mpg car.
The Geneva motor show also marks the debut of the standard Peugeot 2008.
Posted: 19 Feb 2013 12:56 AM PST
New Chevrolet SS, Fisker seeks investment, low-cost Citroën insurance, new S-class option
The new Chevrolet SS is the first high-performance V8 rear-wheel-drive saloon the manufacturer has offered since 1996. It's powered by a 6.2-litre LS3 V8, claimed to output around 415bhp and 415lb ft, coupled to a six-speed automatic gearbox. The SS is stated to complete the 0-60mph sprint 'in around five seconds' while a sport-tuned chassis reputedly delivers 'incredible grip and handling'.
Mercedes has released a special 'AMG Sport Edition' of the S-class, which features an extended range of equipment and AMG-specific detailing. Based on the petrol-engined S 350 BlueTEC, the new edition primarily adds an AMG body kit, 20-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic roof, unique interior trim, keyless start and an upgraded media and entertainment system. The S350 BlueTEC AMG Sport Edition costs £69,995.
The American hybrid car manufacturer, Fisker, is considering bids that could result in the manufacturer being controlled by another company. Production of its own car, the Karma, halted after its battery supplier went bust. New investment would help the company resume production and properly establish itself. Reputedly Chinese manufacturer, Dongfeng, has put forward an offer that would result in ownership of 85 per cent of Fisker. This would grant Dongfeng majority control.
The new Citroën C1 Connexion, a special edition from the French firm, is claimed to be the first car to be offered with 'black box' insurance as standard. Designed to reduce the cost of insurance, particularly for younger drivers, the system monitors driving habits to ascertain the renewal price. The Connexion edition C1 is based on the 1.0-litre VTR specification model and comes with 'Scarlet Red' detailing.
Posted: 18 Feb 2013 09:36 AM PST
All-new XC90 SUV will be unveiled next year, followed by a big saloon, estate and 2+2 coupé
Volvo will roll-out four, all-new, range-topping models from 2014, starting with the replacement for the ageing XC90. The XC90 will be followed by a new S80 saloon, a V80 estate car and, eventually, a new shorter-wheelbase 2+2 coupé expected to be called C80.
All the cars are based on Volvo's new, home-grown, Scaleable Platform Architecture and will be powered by Volvo's new family of VCA four-cylinder diesel and petrol engines with a choice of two manual transmissions or an eight-speed auto. The new four-cylinder petrol engines will offer between 140 and 280bhp and the diesels between 120 and 230bhp.
Volvo will not offer V6 or V8 engines in the future and says that extra performance and all-wheel drive will be offered by the optional hybrid transmission, which uses an electric motor driving the rear axle. A conventional mechanical all-wheel drive system is also part of the SPA plan. The S80 and V80 are expected to arrive in 2015 and will be sister models like the S and V60. The new coupé will be shorter than the 80-series cars, but is expected to have the same wider cabin.
The XC90 will not stray too far from the formula that underpins today's car but, like its future sister cars, will feature a distinctively tall and bluff front end design and very short front and rear overhangs. The SPA architecture is similar to the MQB architecture launched by VW by using an identical engine bay, bulkhead and pedal position, while the front overhang, rear overhang and passenger cell can be varied in size. SPA also allows for different wheel track widths.
However, SPA will only cover future models from the S60 replacement to a future long wheelbase S80. An eventual replacement for today's V40 (which uses a Ford-derived platform) will be based on a platform shared with another car maker, Volvo sources say.
The Swedish maker expects to book sales of 420,000 cars in 2013 and is aiming to increase sales to 800,000 globally shortly after 2020.
Posted: 18 Feb 2013 09:27 AM PST
Students working with the Alfa Romeo Style Centre produce their own interpretation of a new Alfa Romeo saloon
A joint effort between the Alfa Romeo Style Centre and design students has produced the 'Gloria' concept.
The project saw Master in Transportation Design students give "their completely independent interpretation of a new Alfa Romeo saloon", according to head of Fiat & Chrysler Design Lorenzo Ramaciotti.
Although merely a styling exercise, the dramatically designed Gloria will be showcased on the European Design Institute display at next month's Geneva motor show.
While taking design features from both modern and vintage Alfa Romeos, the Gloria maintains typical saloon car dimensions with specific focus on passenger comfort and space. Power would come from state-of-the-art V6 or V8 bi-turbo engines.
Lorenzo Ramaciotti said: "During development, we commented, discussed and guided the projects in order to get the most from their spontaneous expressions of creativity. The result was stimulating and marked by professional and creative excellence."
The launch of the Giulia saloon will be followed by an estate variant, much like the Giulia's predecessor, the 159. It will share its underpinnings with the Giulietta hatch, and Dodge Dart, but will be the largest model of the three.
The Giulia makes up part of Alfa Romeo's expansion plan into Asian and North American markets. Boss of Fiat-Chrysler, Sergio Marchionne, hopes to boost global sales from 100,000 units last year to 300,000 by 2016, in an attempt to recreate the success of rivals like the Audi A4, Mercedes C-class and BMW 3-series.
Posted: 18 Feb 2013 08:38 AM PST
2012 proves to be a good year for Ferrari, new discount tech pack for Seat Leon, Italian coach-built car on show at Geneva
Last year proved to be the best financial year in Ferrari's history to date. The company delivered 7,318 cars in total during 2012, earning a net profit in excess of £210m. Ferrari is experiencing record sales in China, Germany, the US and Great Britain. Other sectors of the business, including retail and e-commerce, have grown substantially, too.
Seat has released a £500 'Technology Pack' for the new Leon that adds sat-nav, LED headlights and DAB radio. The manufacturer states that the individual options would otherwise cost £1,915. The addition of sat-nav also means that buyers benefit from a 5.8-inch colour touchscreen. The pack is available on all Leon SE and FR specification cars until 31 March.
Touring Superleggera, an Italian coach builder, will unveil the first rolling version of its Disco Volante Touring at the Geneva motor show. Based on an Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione, the two-seat grand tourer was first seen as a static demonstrator last year. Touring Superleggera, which offers in-house design and production, believes that specialist coach building still has a place in the market.
Posted: 18 Feb 2013 06:53 AM PST
Rinspeed's MicroMAX concept uses cloud technology to revolutionise car sharing in cities
Swiss manufacturer Rinspeed is to launch its microMAX concept at the Geneva motor show in March. Billed as a 'network swarm car', the microMAX aims to combine the best parts of public and private transport to be the ultimate commuter vehicle.
By using a new app developed by Harmon for the microMAX using cloud technology, Rinspeed claims it will revolutionise urban travel. Members of the 'urbanSWARM' community can access the travel information (including, routes, speed and passengers) of any microMAX and have their journey planned and executed through the microMAX community and the Harmon app.
The interior of the microMAX features a coffee machine, fridge and wi-fi connectivity. Passengers travel in upright seats and Harman NFC (Near Field Communication) identifies drivers and passengers. The driver controls the majority of the vehicle's functions via a 19-inch touchscreen.
The microMAX is powered by an all-electric forklift drive system. Rinspeed intends for the concept to be charged at urban recharging stations. Harmon's HALOsonic technology is used to ensure the microMAX can be heard by pedestrians.
If the microMAX concept is put into production by Rinspeed, it would cost between €5000 and €10,000 depending on materials and features.
Posted: 18 Feb 2013 01:58 AM PST
BMW says manual gearboxes are expected to stay if the demand remains
BMW M division plans to stick with rear drive, despite the new Mercedes E63 and CLS63 AMG offering 4Matic all-wheel drive to left-hand-drive markets and Audi's recently revealed quattro-equipped RS6 and RS7.
BMW M boss Friedrich Nitschke reiterated his stance to Autocar at the Detroit motor show last month. "Our philosophy in regards to steering feel and precision is that rear-wheel drive is the best solution," he said. "xDrive brings an 80-90kg weight penalty and the M differential is the industry's best rear-drive set-up."
He also discussed the future of manuals. The M5, M6, and new M6 Gran Coupé are available with a six-speed manual 'box in the US. "From a production aspect, it would be much better to only offer the dual-clutch gearbox," said Nitschke. "But as long as there is demand, we'll offer the manual."
Regarding the move away from naturally aspirated engines, Nitschke said: "It's not a change in philosophy, it's a change in technology. Turbocharging is better for fuel savings and CO2."
He also confirmed there were no imminent plans for an M3 version of the 3-series GT. "At the moment, we have an M3 coupé, saloon, and convertible. We do not see additional variants at the moment. But it depends on market requirements."
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