Friday, February 8, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Mercedes CLA is world's most aerodynamic production car

Posted: 08 Feb 2013 05:06 AM PST

New Mercedes CLA180 is more slippery than a Toyota Prius

Mercedes-Benz claims its new CLA180 BlueEfficiency Edition is the world's most aerodynamically efficient series production road car, with an overall drag co-efficient of 0.22.

The saloon forms part of a five strong line-up of CLA models set to make their public debut at next month's Geneva motor show. In comparison to the CLA's cD figure, Toyota's Prius is rated at 0.25 and the BMW 320d EfficientDynamics at 0.26.

The key to the car's wind cheating properties is a relatively small frontal area (2.21m2) and a series of small but effective refinements not found on other CLA models. These include a reworked front apron, improved sealing for the headlamps surrounds, an adjustable radiator shutter and serrated spoilers to guide air into the wheelhouses.

Powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine developed with Renault, the CLA has 120bhp and 147lb ft of torque. It reaches 62mph in 9.9sec and has a limited top speed of 118mph.

Combined fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are put at 56.5mpg and 118g/km. The standard CLA180 is rated at 52.3mpg and 126g/km.

Mercedes-Benz is planning to extend its aerodynamic development work with the opening of a new wind tunnel at its Sindelfingen R&D facility. It includes a rolling road as part of a 19m long floor area and is capable of providing measurements at speeds up to 165mph. Until now, Mercedes-Benz has relied heavily on the University of Stuttgart's wind tunnel, which celebrated its 70th anniversary earlier this week.

More aggressive look for new BMW X6

Posted: 08 Feb 2013 04:30 AM PST

Lighter, sharper second-gen BMW X6 to spearhead an expanding range of sporty four-wheel-drive BMWs

BMW is planning to introduce a new BMW X6 within the next 18 months in direct response to a raft of similarly conceived four-wheel-drives already confirmed by rivals such as Audi, Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz.

Sister car to the third-generation X5, the second-gen X6 forms an integral part of an expanded range of sporting four-wheel-drive models currently under development at BMW's engineering headquarters in Munich.

Joining the high-riding luxury SUV in the German car maker's burgeoning line-up from the middle of the decade will be the smaller but more affordable X2 and X4 models ― a move that is set to bolster BMW's number of dedicated four-wheel-drive models from four today to six by 2016.

The new X6 is set to adopt an even more aggressive appearance than that of today's model, which has proven popular in markets such as China, North America and Russia.

BMW design sources have indicated to Autocar that the new model will move further away from the X5 not only in shape but also in detailing. One source said: "We want to give our sporting models a more individual look, separating them more visually from the more practical models in our line-up."

A marginal rise in length ― from today's 4877mm to about 4910mm ― is aimed at providing the new X6 with added levels of interior space, something that BMW sources identify as a weak point with the first-generation model, which has been on sale in the UK since 2009. The overall packaging is also helped by the adoption of a reconfigured chassis with a longer wheelbase and wider tracks.

The new X6 is based around a shortened version of the newly engineered monocoque platform found beneath the next X5, which is due for UK launch later this year. Described by insiders as being more sophisticated than that used by the first-generation X6, the composite steel structure is claimed to bring significant weight savingsdue to the use of a higher percentage of hot-formed high-strength alloys.

More weight saving has been achieved through the adoption of new axle assemblies, which are said to be shared with the 5-series. Unlike today's model, which receives a mechanical torque-vectoring system, the new one is set to adopt an electronic system in a move that, insiders suggest, brings further weight reductions.

Lower-end models will ride on steel springs while top-end X6s will continue with self-levelling air suspension. The dampers will offer three levels of stiffness, with hydraulically operated anti-roll bars set to be made available as an option.

Further developments include a state-of-the-art electronics platform that forms the basis of a new 'FlexRay' system that, Autocar can reveal, will provide the scope for electronic upgrades during the life of the car by allowing the central processing unit to be easily upgraded.

The new electronics platform not only enables electronic chassis upgrades to be undertaken but also ensures that the new X6's various multimedia systems can be updated when new software packages become available.

Power for the new X6 will come from a range of new or upgraded twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol, sequential twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre diesel and tri-turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder engines, as well as revised twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 petrol units in both standard and M division guises. All will benefit from incremental increases in power over today's units and be mated to a standard eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Also under development is a plug-in X6 ActiveHybrid, which combines the twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor mounted within the gearbox housing and a lithium ion battery sited within the floor of the boot.

Chicago motor show: show report and picture gallery

Posted: 08 Feb 2013 03:48 AM PST

New metal from Kia, Nissan and Volkswagen

It's not the world's biggest car show but the influence of the Chicago Auto Show is growing, and this year Kia used the event to unveil its new Cross GT concept, a larger crossover that the firm is using to gauge opinion on a new vehicle that would sit above the Sorento.

Designed in the US, the Cross GT is 4897mm long, 2000m wide and 1658mm tall making it longer, wider and lower than a Sorento.

Powered by a hybrid drivetrain consisting of a 3.8-litre V6 and an electric motor sited under the rear floor, the Cross GT produces 400bhp and 500lb ft, with an electric-only range of 20 miles. It's four-wheel drive, with an eight-speed automatic 'box. Kia also wheeled out a Superman-themed Optima styled in collaboration with DC Entertainments.

Volkswagen revealed a limited-edition Beetle, resurrecting a 1973 special called the GSR. The 2012 GSR uses a 210hp turbocharged 2.0-litre with a six-speed manual or a DSG gearbox, and will reach 60mph in 6.6sec, making it more than just a styling exercise. VW also had a limited-edition run-out Golf GTi, called Driver's Edition, with extra kit and unique wheels.

Nissan gave the Juke Nismo its US launch and updated the US-only 370Z Nismo with some light cosmetic upgrades. The Nismo-tuned 370Z has more power (350bhp) than the standard car, with stiffer suspension and comes with a set of bespoke 19in alloys.

The firm also showed the GT-R Track Edition, a stripped-out (no back seats) track-focused GT-R with new suspension and carbonfibre aero kit.

The US domestic manufacturers restricted their efforts to a new diesel Cruze from Chevrolet, with a 2.0-litre 148hp four-pot, and a Ford Fiesta race car that will be driven by Ken Block in the Global RallyCross. Dodge launched a new option package for the Challenger and a range of Ram-badged vans based on the Fiat Ducato, along with lower-priced SRT Challenger and Charger models.

Toyota GT86 TRD confirmed for UK

Posted: 08 Feb 2013 01:50 AM PST

250 Toyota GT86s will be tweaked by Toyota Racing Developments, priced from £31,495

A limited run of the Toyota GT86 will receive a raft of upgrades from Toyota's motorsport arm. The GT86 TRD (Toyota Racing Developments) will be the first official Toyota sold in Britain with TRD parts when it goes on sale next month.

Just 250 TRD-tweaked GT86s will be made. Modifications over the standard coupe include 18in 'TF6' alloy wheels, more aggressive bumpers front and rear, a diffuser and a new quad-tailpipe exhaust. TRD branding can be found on the fuel filler cap and gear lever.

The engine of the GT86 TRD is unchanged from the standard car, meaning the same 197bhp and 151lb ft outputs. This is sufficient for a 0-62mph time of 7.7sec and a top speed of 140mph for the manual car. The TRD is also available as an automatic, which drops these figures to 8.4sec and 130mph.

The GT86 TRD will be offered in either GT86 black or Pearl White. The TRD goes on sale on 1st March, with the manual costing £31,495 and the automatic £32,995.

Ferrari F150 set for Geneva

Posted: 07 Feb 2013 11:00 PM PST

Low-slung, carbonfibre-intensive, tech-laden Ferrari F150 hypercar enters final testing ahead of March reveal

This is the Ferrari F150, the firm's new flagship hypercar, spied in the final stages of testing and just a few weeks away from its expected debut at the Geneva motor show in early March.

Codenamed F150, the car is widely regarded as the new Ferrari Enzo, and will be the marque's technological flagship and the most extreme road-legal car the company has ever made. Although Ferrari remains tight-lipped about the car's exact specification, the F150 will have a V12 engine backed up with a HY-KERS hybrid system.

Based around a carbonfibre monocoque weighing just 70kg, the whole car is expected to weigh little more than 1100kg. With the engine developing more than 750bhp and the hybrid system expected to deliver around 100bhp in bursts, the F150 will undoubtedly be one of fastest production cars ever made. The hybrid system ― which uses an electric motor mounted on the tail end of the transmission housing ― is also part of a torque-vectoring system, which should improve the hypercar's agility.

These latest spy shots also give the best clues yet as to the final form of the F150. The side elevation shows the car's long deck and comparatively small passenger cell. The high seating position (drivers will sit with their feet high, race car-style, on a fixed-position seat) and large sills mean that 'swan-wing' doors that cut into the roof are needed to allow the driver to step down to access the tiny cabin.

The V12 engine is packaged hard up against the rear of the passenger cell, as are the battery packs. This helps offset the weight of the electric motor, which sits at the extreme rear of the F150. It's also clear from these shots just how low the car's upper surfaces are relative to the road surface, especially the shoulders of the extra-wide doors and the area in front of the windscreen.

Formula 1 is back on track… and very, very reliable

Posted: 07 Feb 2013 09:33 AM PST

Marvelling at the reliability of F1 cars straight out of the box; the return of Rubens to F1; a shrewd move by Timo Glock

One thing that never ceases to impress me is the ability of the Formula 1 teams to build complex prototype machinery that go on track and almost immediately are able to complete 100 laps without a glitch.

There are inevitably some teams that do have "teething problems", but the majority of them run perfectly from the start. Even allowing for the many rigs and dynos that exist at F1 factories these days, this is still an impressive achievement and a tribute to the precision engineering skills of those involved, both the designers and those who are manufacturing the cars to the tiniest of tolerances.

One can argue that the reliability of the modern F1 cars is one of the things that detracts from the spectacle of the sport, because even 30 years ago there were still relatively high attrition rates, with leading cars retiring unexpectedly and creating completely new scenarios. That just does not happen these days, at least not on a regular basis. The number of drivers who score in race after race after race is impressively high.

The return of Rubens Barrichello

When Rubens Barrichello arrived in F1 at the age of 20, he was racing against 39-year-old veteran Riccardo Patrese, who had begun his F1 career on the day before Barrichello's fifth birthday. By the time Rubens left F1 at the end of 2011 he was in the same situation as Patrese had once been in.

Now 40, Barrichello spent 2012 in America, after the Williams team decided to take drivers with sponsorship and potential rather than relying on a known quantity such as Rubens. His season in the IndyCar Series was not a great success and Barrichello has decided that he prefers to do something else this year and so has signed a deal to race in the Brazilian stock car championship with Maurício Ferreira's Full Time Sports, which runs Peugeot 408s, sponsored by the Medley Indústria Farmacêutica company, which is an offshoot of France's Sanofi-Aventis.

Ironically, the opportunity came about because the team's former driver Marcos Gomes failed a drugs test! This year, if rumours are to be believed, Rubens will be back in F1 again taking part in 10 grands prix as a television commentator with Brazil's Globo TV. He will share the job with his longtime mate Luciano Burti.

Falling on a lucrative sword

Despite the departure from F1 of Bruno Senna, who is off to race for Aston Martin in GTs, Brazil will have two F1 drivers this year following the announcement that Luiz Razia has signed to drive for the Russian-owned Marussia F1 team.

Walk into Marussia F1 headquarters in Banbury and start speaking Russian and you are likely to get some nice tea and biscuits (because they will assume you are someone important), but you are unlikely to find anyone who will understand a word you say, as the accent inside the team is rather more Sheffield than it is Schevchenko.

It is a team that has its feet firmly on the ground and it was this that led to the decision to ask Timo Glock to stand down to allow the team to get the money it needed to complete its 2013 budget. Glock had a contract but the team could not sensibly afford to pay him when there was a great deal of money on offer from elsewhere.

Glock agreed that it was in the best interests of the team for him NOT to race for it and agreed to a sensible settlement and then landed a lucrative BMW DTM contract for the season ahead.

At 30, Timo was realistic enough to recognise that his career with Marussia is not really going to take him anywhere in Formula 1 and that it was best to look ahead for work which will potentially keep him busy for the next ten years.

Corvette Stingray convertible confirmed for Geneva

Posted: 07 Feb 2013 07:54 AM PST

Chevrolet makes official announcement on Corvette Stingray Convertible following emergence of online images

Chevrolet will launch a convertible variant of its new Corvette Stingray at the Geneva Motor Show in March. The official announcement follows recently leaked pictures that appeared to show the convertible undisguised.

As yet, Chevrolet has released no further details on the seventh-generation Corvette convertible. The unofficial images show a flush rear deck, suggesting this convertible will follow its Corvette C6 predecessor in having a fabric roof rather than a folding metal one. It should also be noted the convertible loses the coupé's full-width rear spoiler.

The Corvette was designed as an open car from the outset, so should require little modification to create a convertible. With the roof not integral to the Corvette's structure, there should be little dynamic sacrifice as a result of losing the roof.

Expect an identical mechanical specification to the coupé. This means it will be powered by a 6.2-litre V8 with 450bhp and 450lb ft, mated to either a seven-speed manual or six-speed automatic.

Following its debut at Geneva on 5 March, the Corvette Stingray convertible should go on sale next year. As there will be no official UK imports of the coupé, it is unlikely the convertible will be sold over here, either.

New Citroen C4 Picasso previewed in Technospace concept

Posted: 07 Feb 2013 07:44 AM PST

New Geneva motor show concept offers the first look at the new C4 Picasso

Citroen is offering a thinly veiled look at the next-generation C4 Picasso with a new concept car for the Geneva motor show.

Called Technospace, the new concept car directly previews the new C4 Picasso that will be unveiled in April ahead of a UK launch in May.

The model will be the first to be spun off Citroen's new 'Efficient Modular Platform 2' (EMP2). Thanks to the lighter weight of the platform, the new C4 Picasso will weigh around 70kg less than the current model. And this lighter weight, in combination with more efficient engines, will allow for CO2 emissions of just 98g/km in its most frugal guise.

The Technospace concept is 4430mm long, 1830mm wide and 1610mm high, with a wheelbase of 2783mm. That makes it 40mm shorter than the current C4 Picasso, but with a 55mm longer wheelbase than the current car, cabin space will be improved. Boot capacity is said to be lass leading, at 537 litres.

The fundamental silhouette of the C4 Picasso is recognisable from before, albeit with altered proportions due to the new dimensions. The overhangs are reduced for a more compact look, and excellent visibility should be offered from the split A-pillars.

The split headlights at the front are the one of the more striking design features. Citroen's new 3D-effect rear lights also feature.

Inside, the concept gets the first application of Citroen's new modular infotainment system, which includes a large 12in touchscreen to control many of the interior commands.

Volkswagen Golf R cabriolet details released

Posted: 07 Feb 2013 06:32 AM PST

261bhp flagship will be the fastest open-top Golf ever produced by VW

Volkswagen has announced the prices and specs for its upcoming VW Golf R cabriolet, the long-awaited flagship for the open-top Golf range. The existing Golf cabriolet, based on the Mk6 hatch, will continue alongside the recently launched Mk7 Golf.

The cabriolet is mechanically similar to the Golf R hatchback, meaning it's powered by a 261bhp, 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This enables the R to sprint from 0-62mph in 6.4sec, aided by a standard-fit six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Top speed is limited to 155mph.

The R is identifiable from lesser Golf cabriolets through its gloss-black grille with 'R' logo, chrome tailpipes, a black diffuser, smoked rear headlights, a unique front bumper and a smattering of  'R' badges, including on the brake calipers. The Golf R cabriolet sits 25mm lower to the road on 'Talladega' wheels in either 18 or 19in diameter.

The electric folding cloth roof can be operated at speeds of up to 18mph. It takes 9.5sec to fold away and 11.0sec to be raised.

Inside the Golf R, four individual sports seats are trimmed in 'Vienna Cool Leather', while further 'R' logos can be found in the headrests. Aluminium inlays and pedals, alongside contrasting grey stitching on the steering wheel, handbrake and gear lever, complete the interior makeover.

Orders will be taken by VW for the Golf R cabriolet from the spring, with prices starting at £38,770.

Kia Cross GT shows large premium SUV intentions

Posted: 07 Feb 2013 03:48 AM PST

Kia Cross GT is a new concept from the Korean manufacturer and features four-wheel drive and a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain

Kia has hinted at plans to produce a large premium SUV to be positioned above the current Sorento by unveiling the Kia Cross GT concept at the Chicago motor show today.

The Cross GT, which is based on the same chassis as the striking Kia GT concept displayed at motor shows since 2011, is larger but lower and wider in stance than the Sorento SUV.

The concept is 4897mm long (213mm longer than the Sorento) and has a 3099mm wheelbase (399mm more than the existing production SUV). It is also wider, but 41mm shorter, giving it a low roofline that's redolent of many crossovers.

The Cross GT is a hybrid, with power coming from a 3.8-litre V6 petrol engine and an electric motor. The two power sources combine to produce about 400bhp and 500lb ft of torque, which is delivered to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Kia says the concept has an all-electric range of 20 miles.

The four-person cabin is designed to be light and airy – a sensation that's emphasised by the multi-panelled skylight with hexagonal glass inserts. It features dual rear-hinged 'suicide' doors for easy access to the back bucket seats, while the boot opening incorporates a traditional glass hatch and a tailgate.

Although Kia stresses that the Cross GT is purely conceptual, it hints that the car and the hybrid powertrain could inform a future production model.

Kia president and chief of design Peter Schreyer said: "The debut of the GT in 2011 heralded a new frontier for Kia, both from a design and a business perspective. It beautifully illustrated to the world that the brand was ready to explore the possibility of perhaps one day offering a full-size rear-wheel-drive luxury saloon. The Cross GT, with its raised stance and large cargo area, allows us to envision the GT in the form of a full-size luxury crossover."

Unlike the GT, which was designed in Frankfurt, Germany, the Cross GT is the work of the Kia's KDCA design centre in Irvine, California. If the Cross GT spawned a production model, it seems likely that it would be angled at the US market.

Vauxhall Adam

Posted: 05 Feb 2013 06:51 AM PST

Is the Vauxhall Adam special enough to provide an answer to the Fiat 500 and Mini, or merely an exercise in style and marketing? Thank Mini and Fiat, but today's small cars are aimed squarely at urban fashionistas. In a market where image is everything, it's a fine line between funky and failure. Impressively, the best of breed are able break out of this narrowed and clichéd demographic, too.Prior to the introduction of the Vauxhall Adam, it was a market unknown to Vauxhall, especially as the model represents an effort to climb from the volume to semi-premium market.On paper, the Adam certainly shows promise. It is certainly eye-catching, although perhaps not cute or attractive enough to bother Fiat or Mini's stylists. It also offers huge scope for customisation. That's important, because a couple of thousand pounds' worth of stickers, wheels and trim substantially increases profit margins.But its styling is too wide of the mark to give it enough visual punch to steal too many sales from the Fiat 500. Nor, as we shall see, does it offer enough dynamic flair to bother the Citroën DS3. And it certainly doesn't have the all-round driveway appeal of the Mini.And then there's the name. It is so-called in homage to the founder of Opel, Vauxhall's sister company, Adam Opel. That works with the Ferrari Enzo, but here it sounds a little odd. Even more unusual are the three core trim levels: Jam, Glam and Slam. Each, predictably, come with their own party pieces, but loosely the Jam is the base model, Glam has a little more glitz, while Slam sits at the sporty end.Where the Adam scores well is with a range of customisation options that make it entirely possible that you'll never see two identical models. There's bags of space in the cabin and its economical, too – no model in the range drops beneath 50mpg on the combined cycle.But in a market that is overwhelmed with unique subtleties, objective ability doesn't necessarily equal appeal. Read on for our full verdict.

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