- Seat Leon 1.6 TDI SE first drive review
- Six new Jeep concepts for Easter festival
- Video: Renault Clio RS 200 Turbo vs Toyota GT86
- Renault Zoe EV prices to start at £13,650
- New York motor show: Chevrolet SS
- New York motor show: Dodge Durango
- New York motor show: Mitsubishi Mirage
Posted: 22 Mar 2013 04:13 AM PDT
Good in parts, but the big-selling, low-emissions Leon certainly doesn't offer the best driving experience. A key version of the new Seat Leon. The Spanish car-maker expects this model – specific to engine, transmission and even trim level – to account for more than 30 per cent of UK sales; twice as many as the next most popular model. Which also happens to be powered by its 1.6-litre, 104bhp turbodiesel engine, as it happens.That's because this mid-range, low-emissions model will be the big fleet seller. Like every other Leon SE, it comes with air conditioning, Bluetooth, 16in alloys, cornering fog lamps, cruise control, electric windows all-round and leather-covered steering wheel with audio controls – a healthy offering, in other words.It'll sell on the strength of style and compactness, as much as anything. The new Leon is more than 50mm shorter than the car it replaces, but has a wheelbase that's 50mm longer. Boot space and passenger accommodation are improved, says Seat, but the Leon remains a relatively short, tightly-packaged kind of hatchback, and a particularly handsome one too. This is emphatically not a sensible utility car like its brother Octavia; far from it.
Posted: 22 Mar 2013 02:05 AM PDT
Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, plays host to half-a-dozen off-road concepts modified by Jeep and Mopar
Now in its 47th year, the Easter Jeep Safari is an event attended by thousands of off-road enthusiasts to test their skills on some of the toughest trails in America.
Since 2002, Jeep has been exhibiting concept vehicles fitted with its Jeep Performance Parts. At this year's event, which is being held 23-31 March, Jeep will have six on show.
Of the new concepts, Jeep's President and CEO Mike Manley said, "Off-road enthusiasts will be pleasantly surprised by the range of Jeep models we're bringing to this year's Easter Jeep Safari." Here's a rundown of the cars on show:
Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk II – The Trailhawk uses Jeep's popular new V6 EcoDiesel as a basis for the most extreme Grand Cherokee yet. It rides on 35in Mickey Thompson off-road tyres with 17in rims and features custom bodywork such as special wings and bumpers in order to accommodate the huge tyres. As if they weren't attention-grabbing enough, the Trailhawk concept is painted orange with a contrasting black roof and also features an SRT (Street and Racing Technology) bonnet.
Jeep Wrangler Mopar Recon – The Mopar Recon version of the original Jeep is powered by the 6.4-litre V8 usually found in the Chrysler 300C SRT-8. It makes 465bhp and drives through a five-speed auto 'box and Dana axles.
Again, gigantic (39in) off-road tyres are fitted to signal the Jeep Wrangler Mopar Recon's intent. Mopar options include 'Stinger' bumpers, specifically designed for off-road use, a Warn winch, high-clearance wings and LED headlamps. The interior highlight must be seats made from camouflage material and blankets from the US Navy.
Jeep Wrangler Stitch – The Stitch is a reincarnation of the Jeep Pork Chop, a popular lightweight concept from a previous Easter Jeep Safari. To reduce weight, the Jeep engineers removed the doors, the entire ventilation system and sections of the bodywork. Lightweight components added include seats from the SRT Viper, a carbonfibre bonnet and an aluminium fuel tank. Its overall kerbweight is just 1360kg.
Off-road modifications feature, too: 35in off-road tyres sit at the ends of Dynatrac ProRock 44 axles. King dampers with pneumatic bump stops and Tom Woods driveshafts also feature.
The Stitch is painted black but wrapped in a silver fabric that allows the deleted panels to be 'seen' at some angles.
Jeep Wrangler Sand Trooper II – This Mopar Jeep is an evolution of the first Sand Trooper launched at SEMA 2012. To combat Moab, it features uprated Mopar eight-lug front and rear Portal axles for added ground clearance and the tyres are 40 inches in diameter. Further modifications include a Trailside winch kit, off-road driving lamps and rock rails.The Sand Trooper II is powered by a 5.7-litre Hemi V8, which makes 375bhp and 400lb ft of torque.
Jeep Wrangler Flattop – The standout feature of the Flattop is its windowless hardtop. Combined with the removal of the B-pillar and the shaving of 2in from the windscreen, it creates an unrivalled open-air experience.
Further external modifications include LED lights all-round, a Warn Zeon winch and TeraFlex spare tyre carrier. It also features tweaks to improve its off-road prowess such as TeraFlex sway bars and Full-Traction control arms.
Jeep Wrangler Slim – Another lightweight option from Jeep. The most road-orientated of the six concepts, the Slim features conventional doors and roof as well as 17in wheels and tyres. It does feature some Jeep Performance Parts, however, including a Mopar cold-air intake and two-inch lift kit.
Posted: 21 Mar 2013 08:29 AM PDT
Steve Sutcliffe pitches the new Renault Clio Renaultsport 200 Turbo against the Toyota GT86
Renault's new Clio RS 200 is unlike any before it, and not just because it dispenses with a manual gearbox. How does it fare against rear-drive coupes like the Toyota GT86? Steve Sutcliffe heads to the hills to find out.
Posted: 21 Mar 2013 07:56 AM PDT
Electric supermini goes on sale in June with three trim levels available. Battery rental costs from £70 a month
Renault has announced prices and specifications for its new Zoe EV supermini ahead of its arrival in British showrooms on 7 June. It will be offered in three trim levels and joins the Twizy, Fluence and Kangoo in Renault's electric range.
Orders for the Zoe are being taken now, with prices starting at £13,650 for the Expression model inclusive of the government's plug-in car grant. The two Dynamique models cost £14,750 once the grant has been deducted. However, a Renault price rise, active from 5 April, will increase these prices to £13,995 and £15,195.
Moreover, battery rental must be considered in the Zoe's purchase price. That costs from £70 a month, based on a three-year contract with a mileage limit of 7,500 annually. Increasing the mileage threshold adds more to the monthly rental; a limit of 9,500 miles pushes the rental to £77, 10,500 miles is £85 and 12,000 miles is £93.
Furthermore, reducing the length of the contract by a year adds £10 a month to the rental charge. So for example, a one-year battery rental contract on a Zoe with a mileage cap of 10,500 miles would cost £105 a month.
Every Zoe is powered by a synchronous electric motor producing 86bhp and 162lb ft of torque. Top speed is limited to 84mph. The batteries that supply the motor are charged through Renault's 'Chameleon' charger, which is adaptable to any power supply from 3kw to 43kw. That means charging times vary from 30 minutes to nine hours.
Renault claims 80 per cent of the Zoe's energy can be restored through a 30-minute charge at a 43 kW AC power source. The NEDC range is 130 miles, although Renault states 90 miles is a more accurate real-world prediction.
The Zoe will be available in entry-level Expression trim and Dynamique Zen or Dynamique Intens, the latter two being identically priced. All Zoe models feature Renault's R-Link infotainment system with seven-inch touchscreen, an Eco mode to extend the range and regenerative braking.
Renault has also fitted the Zoe with 'ZE Voice', a sound-emitting device to warn pedestrians of the Zoe's presence. It operates between 1mph and 18mph, and features 3 different noises. ZE Voice can also be disabled by the driver.
Over the Zoe Expression, the two Zoe Dynamique models feature larger 16in alloy wheels (up from 15in, but with all models wearing Michelin Energy E-V tyres), an uprated stereo and My ZE Interactive. This allows control of the battery charging and ventilation remotely through the owner's smartphone to conserve energy on the move.
The spec differences between Dynamique Zen and Dynamique Intens are largely cosmetic; the Intens features a rear parking camera and 'dark interior ambience' whilst the Zen 'recalls purity and wellbeing'. Its standard features include 'Zen Take Care by Renault', which comprises Teflon seat covering, a toxicity sensor and a scent diffuser.
Options for the Zoe include larger 17in wheels on the Dynamique models, metallic paint finishes and European mapping for the sat-nav.
Posted: 21 Mar 2013 05:49 AM PDT
Chevrolet's first performance saloon of this century will also be offered in Australia as the Holden Commodore SS V
This SS marks the return of the performance Chevrolet saloon, a feature that has been absent from its range for 17 years. For 2014, it is powered by a 6.2-litre LS3 V8 with 411bhp and 415lb ft of torque. Chevrolet claims a 0-62mph time of "about five seconds". The pictures show an automatic-equipped SS, and that's believed to be the only transmission choice.
The SS is underpinned by a combination of MacPherson strut (front) and trapezoidal multi-link (rear) suspension. Chevrolet claims a low centre of gravity for the SS, as well as near-50:50 weight distribution.
Other notable features include electric power steering and Brembo brakes with 335mm front discs.
GM's global executive engineer David Leone said the dynamics of the new SS give "a more comfortable highway ride without sacrificing handling or driver confidence".
Chevrolet will launch the SS in America this autumn, with prices to be announced closer to the time.
Posted: 21 Mar 2013 05:16 AM PDT
Revised US-market SUV receives updates from Jeep Grand Cherokee
A facelifted Dodge Durango SUV will make its global debut at the New York motor show. It will incorporate changes recently introduced to the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Cosmetic modifications are likely to include refreshed front and rear bumpers and an interior updated with new materials and instrument displays.
The new Durango is to be offered with the VM Motori-supplied 3.0-litre V6 diesel also found in the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300C. It will be mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which should benefit economy.
Dodge will begin production of the revised Durango in May, with the car going on sale in June for the 2014 model year in America.
Posted: 21 Mar 2013 04:46 AM PDT
Colt replacement features three-cylinder engines, 65mpg-plus economy and sub-100g/km CO2 emissions. Priced from £8999
The new Mirage is constructed using Mitsubishi's RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution) architecture, which uses high-tensile steel for a strong monocoque chassis. As well as boosting the Mirage's safety credentials, the construction keeps weight down. At its lightest, the Mirage weighs 845kg.
Read our first drive review of the Mitsubishi Mirage
Mitsubishi claims the Mirage's design was shaped through extensive wind tunnel research that has made it the most aerodynamic supermini available, and more slippery than a Porsche Boxster. Its aero efficiency is further boosted by low rolling resistance tyres and regenerative braking.
The Mirage range comprises two engines, three trim levels and a pair of transmission options. Both engines are three-cylinder units of 1.0 and 1.2 litres.
The entry-level Mirage '1' is only available with the smaller engine. The 1.2-litre Mirage is offered in either '2' or '3' specification, both with standard stop-start. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard-fit, but Mitsubishi's INVECS-III CVT transmission is an option on the Mirage '3' 1.2. Every Mirage emits less than 100g/km of CO2, and fuel consumption ranges from 65.7 to 68.9mpg.
Mitsubishi has designed the interior using a 'Zen' theme to ensure it is elegant and practical. Standard equipment on all Mirages includes a USB-compatible stereo, side airbags and front electric windows. The '2' spec adds air conditioning, remote central locking and electric mirrors. Alloy wheels, keyless entry and front fog lights are fitted to the Mirage '3'.
The Mitsubishi Mirage will cost from £8999 for the 1.0-litre '1' entry-level model. The 1.2-litre cars start at £10,999 and the most expensive, CVT-equipped Mirage 1.2 '3' will cost £12,999.
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