Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

McLaren shows glimpse of P1's interior

Posted: 06 Feb 2013 05:00 AM PST

McLaren P1 hypercar has digital dash and track-focused Race mode

McLaren continues its slow reveal of the new P1 hypercar with this glimpse of the car's instrumentation. The full interior won't be shown until the Geneva show in March, but these images show that the car will have digital instrumentation, and a Race mode.

Race mode, designed for track use, incorporates a set of F1-style shift indicators in the dash. They start off green, change to red and then to blue.

Race mode also controls the P1's rear wing, which extends by 30cm and changes its pitch into what McLaren describes as "an optimal aerodynamic position." The double element structure of the wing was designed using techniques learnt from McLaren's F1 business.

The P1 will cost from £750,000 when it goes on sale later this year. Expect a series of performance-oriented option packages to be boost the price beyond £800,000. 

Sleek BMW 3-series GT shapes up

Posted: 06 Feb 2013 03:41 AM PST

Third BMW 3-series variant trumps Touring for cabin and boot space; engines to be performance-focused

BMW is poised to reveal its new 3-series GT later this week, ahead of its Geneva motor show debut.

Undisguised pre-production prototypes of the GT, the third model in the new 3-series lineup after the saloon and estate, have already been spotted on the roads around BMW's Munich headquarters. They have revealed a car with more resolved looks and proportions than the larger 5-series GT.

Insiders have also divulged much of the BMW 3-series GT's technical secrets ahead of its official unveiling online tomorrow (Thursday). At around 4825mm in length, the new model is set to be some 200mm longer than the 3-series Touring on which it is based, with 110mm of that increase within the wheelbase. Height is set to increase by around 80mm to 1510mm, with width getting a small 20mm gain to around 1830mm.

Those increased dimensions result in a more spacious cabin. The driving position is raised by around 60mm for a more commanding view of the road, while legroom for rear passengers has been increased by as much as 70mm.

Boot capacity is said to trump the 3-series Touring by around 25 litres at 520 litres.

The engine range, which will consist of five choices at launch, is understood to focus on the more powerful units from the 3-series range. Petrols will include a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder in two states of tune in the 320i and 328i, and a 3.0-litre, six-cylinder turbo in the 335i range-topper. A 2.0-litre turbodiesel will be offered in two different states of tune via the 318d and 320d.

The 3-series GT is set to reach the UK in late spring, commanding premiums of around £1500 over the equivalent 3-series Touring.

Rugged Vauxhall Adam Rocks concept previewed

Posted: 06 Feb 2013 03:03 AM PST

Vauxhall Adam Rocks concept is rugged interpretation of the firm's new city car

A crossover concept based on the Vauxhall Adam city car has been previewed in these official sketches, ahead of the car's world premiere at next month's Geneva motor show.

The Luton manufacturer describes the Vauxhall Adam Rocks as 'an urban mini-crossover'. Compared to the production version of the Adam city car, the concept's chassis has been raised by 15mm and it has been given a 20mm wider stance.

The sketches also suggest the Adam Rocks will feature hard-wearing body cladding on the wheel arches and bumpers, front and rear skid plates and a central exhaust.

The Adam Rocks also possesses a fabric retractable roof in a similar style to the Citroën DS3 Cabrio and Fiat 500C. Vauxhall/Opel sources recently confirmed to Autocar that a cabriolet version of the Adam is under development.

Vauxhall says the new concept's purpose is to highlight the myriad personalisation options available on the Adam.

"With even bolder design than any other Adam, the Rocks shows the vast potential for personalisation our stylish urban-chic newcomer offers. It combines the toughness of a crossover with the coolness of open-air driving," said Malcolm Ward, lead design director for Vauxhall/Opel.

Suzuki S-Cross readied for Geneva debut

Posted: 06 Feb 2013 02:32 AM PST

Geneva reveal confirmed for the production version of Suzuki's S-Cross concept

Suzuki has revealed the production version of its new S-Cross crossover ahead of its official debut at the Geneva motor show.

The as-yet unnamed model, which Suzuki currently refers to as 'all-new C-segment crossover', looks to have stayed true to the S-Cross concept revealed at last year's Paris motor show, judging by the initial darkened images that have been released.

The new model is an addition to Suzuki's range rather than a replacement for the Grand Vitara.

Official details on the new model remain scarce, with Suzuki revealing only that the new model will have optional all-wheel drive in addition to standard front-wheel drive and have one of the largest loading areas in the segment.

The new model is based on a new platform, and will be manufactured at Suzuki's Hungarian plant. Petrol and diesel power will be offered, with the diesel engines coming from Fiat as part of Suzuki's relationship with the Italian firm.

At 4310mm long, 1840mm wide and 1600m high, the S-Cross concept is 20mm shorter, 60mm wider and 15mm lower than a Nissan Qashqai.

Full details of the new model, which will be launched in the UK later this year, will be revealed in Geneva.

UK posts healthy rise in new car registrations

Posted: 06 Feb 2013 02:28 AM PST

New car registrations in the UK increased by 11.5 per cent in January compared to the same month in 2012

The UK car market made a positive start to 2013, with new car registrations posting an 11.5 per cent rise compared to January of last year. The Ford Fiesta continued its reign as the nation's best-seller, followed by the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.

A total of 143,643 new cars were registered in January, assisted by a 15.9 per cent increase in private registrations during the month.

The encouraging start to the year has prompted industry organisation the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) to revise its full-year forecast to show modest growth in 2013.

"The new car market has started the year confidently," said Mike Baunton, Interim Chief Executive of the SMMT.

"Lifted by a solid rise in private demand, the new car market posted its 11th successive month of growth with motorists attracted to forecourts by the latest models and competitive deals on offer," he elaborated. "Building on a strong performance in 2012, SMMT has increased its market forecast – we anticipate a modest rise over the year, followed by further growth in 2014."

The market for alternatively fuelled cars enjoyed a healthy increase, with registrations for electric vehicles and hybrids rising by 7.9 per cent year-on-year.

However, the overall market share remains very low, with alternatively fuelled vehicles now accounting for 1.6 per cent of the market, compared with 50.7 per cent for diesel and 47.7 per cent for petrol.

The UK's best-selling cars, January 2013

1 Ford Fiesta 7906 units

2 Ford Focus 5794

3 Vauxhall Astra 5462

4 Vauxhall Corsa 5178

5 Nissan Qashqai 4280

6 Volkswagen Golf 3335

7 Peugeot 208 2959

8 Volkswagen Polo 2885

9 Nissan Juke 2522

10 Mercedes C-class 2356

Geneva debut for Sergio Pininfarina concept

Posted: 06 Feb 2013 01:33 AM PST

Pininfarina's Geneva show star will celebrate one of the greatest car designers

Pininfarina will exhibit a tribute to its former chairman Sergio Pininfarina at next month's Geneva motor show. Pininfarina died in July 2012, having headed the company since 1964.

The concept, named Sergio, is said to renew the "spirit of the extraordinary achievements born from Sergio Pininfarina's pencil". No further details have so far been released.

Pininfarina was revered globally during his time as a designer, especially for his ability to adapt from the coachbuilding methods of his early career to the modern day. His design successes spanned six decades, from the Lancia Aurelia Spider of the 1950s through to the Ferrari 458 Italia.

Matt Bird

Honda Civic Wagon concept set for Geneva reveal

Posted: 06 Feb 2013 01:18 AM PST

The Honda Civic Wagon will be among three debuts from the Japanese manufacturer at next month's Geneva motor show

The first sketch of the Honda Civic Wagon has been released, ahead of the concept's debut at the Geneva motor show next month.

Honda says the concept strongly hints at the production version, which will be built at the firm's plant in Swindon. The car is likely to go on sale towards the end of the year.

The sketch shows the concept will retain the hatchback's hidden rear door handle to create an almost two-door shooting brake look. The car's rear-end styling echoes that of the larger Accord Tourer.

The production version of the Honda Civic Wagon is tipped to be the most spacious Civic yet. It will feature the hatchback's range of petrol and diesel engines, but sales are likely to major on the recently launched 1.6-litre diesel.

The latest iteration of the Honda NSX concept and the new Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC will also make their European debuts at the Geneva show.

The battery car is dead: Long live the fuel cell

Posted: 05 Feb 2013 12:53 PM PST

Industry and academe have all but given up on battery-powered cars and are preparing the way for Hydrogen to become the fuel of the future

My colleague James Ruppert will be pleased to hear that yesterday, in the basement of the Institute of Civil Engineers, I had an automotive revelation. I was at a meeting of what's called UKH2Mobility, an umbrella name for a government-sponsored gathering of industry and academia, all of whom are working to make Hydrogen a serious fuel of the future.

Michael Fallon, the government Business and Enterprise minister, made soothing noises about £400m in public money being used to, er, oil the wheels of the future Hydrogen fuel network. The money will also be used to make sure that the UK is developing the technologies needed for a gradual switch to cars powered by fuel cells.

Yeah, I know. We've heard it all before. Brave new low-Co2 world and all that. However, it was just a throw-away remark by Toyota's Akihito Tanke that electric cars had not been received by the public as well as had been hoped.

It was then that I realised the car industry has pretty much given up with battery-powered - though not electrically-driven - cars. Slow EV sales in the US - which was expected to be a big early-adopter market - have left bosses with an expensive sinking feeling. Just under 15,000 EVs were shifted in 2012, a vanishing small percent of the 14m new cars that arrived on the US roads.

I've now spoken to enough people in the industry to realise that the EV is never going to become a serious force in the market. And I've personally experienced the reasons why when I ran a Nissan Leaf long-term test car. 

First, you can't change your mind. I was hurtling towards Gatwick, late for a flight. Expecting to miss it, I thought I would find a flight from another airport. But the Leaf couldn't get me to Luton or Stansted. Secondly, the terrible range in cold weather was a serious problem. On a snowy weekend it dropped to just 41 miles on a full charge. I get the sense that this issue is killing the EV anywhere outside Orange County.

At first glance, you might say the same for the long-promised Hydrogen revolution. But I heard some very intriguing ideas at the conference. It's claimed that a fuel cell is twice as energy-efficient as a conventional engine and refuelling for a 300-mile range should take three minutes. A network of fuelling stations will be rolled out along the country's busiest routes.

It was also pointed out to me that charging even three or four electric cars puts a huge load on the local power network, which might require expensive upgrading. Hydrogen, by contrast, will be its own, bespoke, fuelling network. 

Can it work? Well, I've had the fortune to drive a number of fuel cells vehicles (including the Merc B-Class and the Honda FCX, which I drove to London's City Hall) and they are a compelling proposition. Like all electrically-driven vehicles, they are quick, smooth, torquey and very refined. Looked at just from a driving point of view, electrically-driven cars are a goal absolutely worth pursuing.

We've got a good decade left of the internal combustion engine reigning supreme. As one UKH2Mobility delegate put it to me, by 2025 'every last drop of energy efficiency will have been wrung from conventional internal combustion engines' and the world really will be ready for a leap into the future. But it won't involve battery-powered cars.

'Electric cars won't catch on' – former Volvo boss

Posted: 05 Feb 2013 08:13 AM PST

Stefan Jacoby says hybrid solutions are the only alternative powertrain likely to achieve significant sales in the next 15 years

Pure electric vehicles will not become mainstream sellers within the next 15 years, according to former Volvo boss Stefan Jacoby.

"I have made myself unpopular before by saying this, but I do not believe they have a mainstream application in the foreseeable future," said Jacoby, who left Volvo late last year and is currently pursuing other opportunities in the automotive sector.

"The reasons are clear: the price, the uncertainty of what happens to the batteries as they lose charge-holding capacity and the emotional distrust of a car that can leave you stranded on a highway in traffic and 40-degree heat are all problems.

"Think how you feel when your mobile phone runs out of charge and there's nothing you can do – the feeling of sitting in a car that has run out of charge would be much worse."

Jacoby added that electric cars, such as the Nissan Leaf, would likely only thrive in niche areas of society. "Some countries have adopted them energetically, and legislation means that some niche applications will take off, such as with short distance taxis, but overall I do not believe electric vehicles will have a role in the next 10-15 years.

"Instead, I believe we'll see hybrid vehicles dominating in different forms. Today an 89g/km car is a reality without much assistance, and that would have been thought impossible even five years ago. The industry is pushing improvements that are affordable and convenient, and that is how I see the future of electric cars developing."


Dacia Sandero Access 1.2 16V 75 first drive review

Posted: 04 Feb 2013 03:57 AM PST

The cheapest Dacia Sandero - indeed the cheapest new car on sale - offers plenty of appeal, but it's hard to consider it a rival for the likes of the Ford Fiesta Its full name is the Dacia Sandero Access 1.2 16V 75, but in simpler terms it is the base model in the budget range, priced at £5995.This particular model breaks through that budget cap via the addition of a £250 stereo and £50 spare wheel, but neither should detract from our first opportunity to sample this headline-grabbing base model.That means that it only comes in United Nations-spec white with black bumpers, 15-inch steel wheels and with a mainly no-frills approach to standard kit. In basic terms everything you need is here, plus you get ABS, ESC, traction control, ISOFIX, power steering, split-folding rear seats, a driver's airbag, side airbags, an immobiliser and an audible warning if you leave the lights on.The list isn't generous, but nor is it needlessly sparse. The only likely gripe of real substance is the absence of an adjustable steering column.

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