Saturday, February 23, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Video: Range Rover v Porsche Cayenne tested on-road

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 10:38 AM PST

The new Range Rover takes on the Porsche Cayenne

The all-new Range Rover is an epic machine. But is it better than the sportscar-on-steriods Porsche Cayenne. Steve Sutcliffe takes to the road to find out.

Why, exactly, is the new Porsche Cayman such an astonishing car?

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 09:26 AM PST

The previous Cayman was pretty special, we know that, but this one is downright extraordinary. Why?

Last week I was up at Silverstone, talking to some loyal readers, attempting to explain to them why the new Porsche Cayman S that I'd been so completely blown away by just a couple of days previously, is as fantastic as it is. They wanted to know how and why, basically, it could be so much better than the previous model, which was in itself more than a little bit tasty.

So I thought about it for a while and then replied; "Two reasons mainly. One, Porsche claims it's 40 per cent stiffer than before, and that's phenomenal. Two, at the same time it's 30kg lighter. And actually there are three reasons, the third being the PDK gearbox that was fitted to the car I drove, which is 110 per cent incredible in what it does."

One of them, an engineer by trade, had actually driven a previous-generation Cayman not long before, and he simply couldn't believe that the new car could be 40 per cent stiffer than the old. But the thing is, Porsche doesn't just make this stuff up. Were the latest Cayman's shell to be a mere 39.4962 per cent stiffer than of old, then that's precisely what it would claim. 

Porsche, probably more than any other car manufacturer I can think of nowadays, plays with a bat that is straighter than the creases on a Gieves and Hawkes shirt, fresh off the peg. Yet at the same time the attention to detail it pays to what goes on beneath the skin, away from the headlines but where it tends to bear the greatest significance, is unparalleled in my experience. Which is why Porsches tend to be head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to the Things That Matter Most.

And in the new Cayman's case they, Porsche's designers, also happen to have cracked it on the styling side of things, too. Which is another reason why, subliminally or otherwise, the new car seems to feel so much better than the old – because it just looks great; looks right. And that's not something many folks said about its predecessor.

In summary then, the reasons why the new Cayman is such an astonishingly good car are; it is eye-wateringly good to drive, it is heart-thumpingly good to look at, it is technically in another stratosphere compared with most other cars at the same price level, and yet it's also quicker than before but burns less fuel than its already excellent predecessor.

I feel sorry for Jaguar, though, because unless the new F-Type is two-times-off-the-dial good to drive, it doesn't stand a chance against a car as well resolved, or as downright brilliant, as the latest Cayman. And that's before you even mention that it costs 10 grand more in the first place, even in entry-level form. 

I hope desperately that I'm proved wrong when we come to compare them in a few weeks' time. Right now, however, it is genuinely hard to see that being the case.

Vauxhall Zafira Tourer BiTurbo 2.0 CDTi Elite first drive

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 08:34 AM PST

Seven-seat MPV gets a boost thanks to 192bhp twin turbo diesel Ever since the original Zafira shook up the market with its ingenious seven-seat compact MPV design, car companies have been striving to provide us with different niche models to fulfil the role of family transport.Today, those niches seem to be fighting for every little corner of the market, ensuring that all bases are covered with the right engines and the right trims. Of course the Zafira is no different, and as such Vauxhall has introduced a new engine into the Tourer in order to provide a fast but frugal flagship model. Now in its third generation, the car has evolved into an upmarket MPV with a smart interior almost contrary to the car's practical, family transport-orientated nature. However, when we previously road tested it, one of the Zafira's weak points was its range-topping 2.0-litre, 163bhp diesel powerplant, which we deemed rather old-school compared to the rest of the package.Vauxhall hopes it's answered such criticism with this more sophisticated and faster 192bhp BiTurbo powerplant. In fact, it's the most powerful diesel engine ever installed in a compact seven-seat MPV. Even our class favourite, the Ford Grand C-Max, can't match the new BiTurbo, with the Ford offering just 168bhp in its most potent form.Vauxhall also aims to be just as competitive with its least-powerful diesel Zafira, as come the Geneva motor show it's launching a 134bhp engine capable of 68mpg while only emitting 109g/km of CO2. Both cars look like promising prospects to top and tail the range.

Volkswagen Group's profits climb during 2012

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 08:11 AM PST

Operating profit rises to £9.95 billion, vehicle deliveries increase to 9.3 million

The Volkswagen Group has released its financial data for 2012, revealing an increase in profit from £9.78 billion to £9.95 billion.

Total sales revenue for 2012 totalled £166.8 billion, 21 per cent up on 2011's £137.9 billion.

Professor Dr Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the board of management of the Volkswagen Group, said: "The economic environment for our business became noticeably more difficult as the year progressed. Nevertheless, we succeeded in meeting the targets we set ourselves for 2012."

The Group delivered a total of 9.3 million vehicles during last year, representing a 12.2 per cent increase on the previous year's nine million. 

It is not only profit and vehicle deliveries that have climbed. The number of employees rose from 501,956, in 2011, to 549,763 in 2012.

With the recent acquisition of Porsche, and a myriad of new models due in 2013, it's likely that the Volkswagen Group's growth will continue.

Winterkorn was quietly confident about 2013: "We, too, are not completely immune to the intense competition and the far-reaching crisis in key European markets."

"Nevertheless, we see good opportunities for the Volkswagen Group to once again outperform competitors this year thanks to our sound financial strength and earning power."

The Volkswagen Group expects its 2013 sales revenue to exceed the 2012 figures, thanks to a wider and more attractive model range. 

Given the ongoing economic uncertainty and increasing competition, however, it is aiming for its 2013 profit to match 2012's.

The group currently consists of 12 brands, including Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, Skoda, Bugatti, Lamborghini, and Porsche.

Hyundai Grand Santa Fe set for Geneva motor show reveal

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."

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