Saturday, February 2, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Bristol to unveil hybrid supercar

Posted: 02 Feb 2013 01:00 AM PST

British luxury car marque Bristol is to reveal an all-new hybrid electric model this year

Bristol Cars, famous for 67 years of 'gentleman's GTs', is close to unveiling an all-new hybrid supercar, perhaps as soon as July's Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The new car will use a range-extended powertrain devised by Bristol's associate company Frazer-Nash, the Surrey-based research firm run by Indian tech entrepreneur Kamal Siddiqi, who also owns the rights to the Wankel rotary engine.

The Bristol is believed to send permanent electric drive to all four wheels, with a petrol engine — probably a compact rotary — powering a generator to feed a bank of lithium ion batteries. Frazer-Nash sources are secretive about the car's precise layout and looks, but say an outside consultant will style the car.

In 2009, in co-operation with Turin-based design house Italdesign, Frazer-Nash showed the Namir range-extended supercar concept, which used its own-design system of separate motors for each wheel, plus what Fraser-Nash engineers call 'digital differentials' to deploy torque intelligently. The car had an 813cc Wankel engine driving a generator to charge lithium ion batteries mounted in the spine of the chassis.

Frazer-Nash has given no indication when it plans to put the Bristol into production, but talks of its "responsibility as custodians of the brand", and has confirmed its "firm intention" to build the car.

Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC EX: UK first drive review

Posted: 01 Feb 2013 09:28 AM PST

New 1.6 turbodiesel engine raises the Civic's game in the UK Our first steer on UK roads in a Honda Civic you'd consider buying with your head as well as your heart: the 1.6 turbodiesel-powered Civic, with wallet-friendly 78.5mpg and 94g/km headline economy and emissions figures.Truth is, at present the Civic's oddball looks would instantly turn off many looking for an economy-minded hatchback, and even if they win you over, only petrol engines and a larger 2.2-litre turbodiesel could be found in the line-up until now.That's all changed with the arrival of the new smaller engine, which has been five years in the making.Honda hopes the new engine's economy figures and performance will thrust the Civic back into the heartland hatchback arena in the UK and the rest of Europe.

Tough times for F1 teams and venues alike

Posted: 01 Feb 2013 07:50 AM PST

While teams scratch around for sponsorship cash, the Nürburgring's financial struggle continues

The world is a very small place these days, and there is now very little point in attending F1 car launches, except perhaps to be seen to be there. There was a time when new Formula 1 cars looked different and there were exciting new concepts to be explained to the fans, but the restrictive regulations (and the laws of physics) mean these days all the cars look very much the same, and the differences in performance come only from the invisible flows of air that are so complex that only a few aerodynamicists – and seriously pretentious members of the media – can claim to understand them. On top of this, the talking heads of the teams can no longer be chatted to quietly in a corner, as they are being scurried from one TV camera to the next by PR armies. YouTube, Twitter and Instagram beam the story around the world so quickly that the old style keyboard-beaters are not even rolling up their sleeves when race fans in Guam, El Salvador, Kyrgyzstan and Namibia know all the details.

About the only thing one can see at a launch is whether or not the team in question has any new sponsorship deals. This year these have been rather thin on the ground. Ferrari has managed to sign a four-year deal with Weichai, a Chinese company that specialises in the research, development, manufacturing and sales of diesel engines. One presumes that either there will be some technology transfer going on as Ferrari embarks on hybrid vehicles, or that the Weichai brand is deemed suitable to help impress wealthy Chinese folk they should buy themselves a Ferrari.

The new McLaren looked decidedly too silvery, while the Lotus had big red spaces which were obviously designed for Honeywell, but are currently filled with in-house names Genii and Kimi, at least until the negotiations are completed with the US technology corporation.

It is not altogether surprising that some of the F1 teams are struggling to find money given the global recession, and the increase in the number of drivers supported by sponsors (a nice way of saying 'pay-drivers') is another reflection of the current situation. Yet F1 continues to refuse to come up with sensible budget-capping regulations.

Although the number of German drivers in F1 has dropped significantly this year, from five to three, the German Grand Prix seems to be going ahead as planned at the Nürburgring, despite the fact that the legendary circuit in the Eifel hills is in deep financial trouble because of a hare-brained scheme five years ago to create a theme park to exploit its brand. There is no doubt that the track has great pulling power thanks to its history and heritage, but the problem is that it is too remote to attract sufficient visitors on a day-to-day basis. The crowds still turn up for the big events, but the money raised is not enough to pay off the huge debts. The German Grand Prix still has a considerable economic impact in the region, reckoned to be around £47 million, but the regional government is now a coalition involving the Green Party and that means that they don't want to put money into a motor race, whether it is good for the economy or not.

There is another scheme that has been discussed that would help to keep the Nürburgring brand alive. Last summer it was suggested that the original 14-mile Nordschleife should be reproduced exactly in the mountains of Nevada, just outside Las Vegas. The idea was put forward by Bruton Smith, the man who runs Speedway Motorsports Inc, one of the US's largest track-owning companies – and he was being serious. He argued that a Nürburgring located ten miles from Las Vegas would have a good chance of attracting some of the 39 million people who visit the city each year, and that could make him a lot of money.

And the Germans could cash in as well, with fees to allow Smith to licence the name!

Quick news: World Car Awards finalists; Geely buys Manganese Bronze

Posted: 01 Feb 2013 05:05 AM PST

Geely saves London taxi maker, World Car of the Year finalists revealed and special editions from Alfa Romeo, Dodge and Suzuki

The World Car of the Year finalists for 2013 have been shortlisted. They include the Audi A3, Land Rover Range Rover, Mazda 6, Mazda CX-5, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Peugeot 208, Porsche Boxster/Cayman, Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT 86, Volkswagen Golf and Volvo V40. The winner will be announced at the New York motor show in March.

Manganese Bronze, manufacturer of London's black cabs, has been bought by Chinese carmaker Geely Auto. Production will be kept in the UK and the acquisition has secured jobs that were previously in jeopardy after Manganese Bronze went into administration in October.

Alfa Romeo has launched a limited edition Mito called the Quadrifoglio Verde SBK. Equipped with a 170bhp 1.4-litre MultiAir engine, it comes fitted with Bluetooth, air conditioning and rear parking sensors, along with a leather interior with carbon detailing. Only 28 examples will be sold in the UK, priced from £21,595.

Ken Ramirez has been appointed managing director of Renault UK. A former area chief for Nissan in Latin America and the Caribbean, Ramirez will be leading the launch of six new Renault and Dacia models this year.

Suzuki has launched a special edition of the Suzuki Swift supermini called the SZ-L. Based on mid-range SZ3 model, the new car adds a roof spoiler, tinted windows, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control and free metallic paint. Prices start from £10,599.

Dodge has announced a new addition to its Challenger muscle car range. Based on the standard Challenger R/T, the R/T Redline features graphical detailing and 20-inch black chrome wheels for a more distinctive look. It is fitted with a 5.7-litre V8 engine developing 370bhp and 410lb ft.

Matthew Burrow

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