Monday, March 25, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

New York motor show: Shelby Mustang GT500 S/C 1000

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 04:31 AM PDT

New York motor show: Shelby Mustang GT500 S/C 1000 The fastest production version of Ford's iconic coupé receives a huge power boost; production will be limited to 100 units

Ford and Shelby will launch a modified Mustang GT500 at the New York motor show with nearly twice the power of the standard car. The GT500 S/C 1000 reputedly produces 1200hp (1183bhp).

The car is a development of the 1100bhp GT500 S/C shown at last year's New York show. Over that car, this Shelby GT500 features a raft of engine updates, most notably a capacity increase to 5.8 litres from 5.4. Stronger pistons and rods as well as a new crank are used to withstand the power increase.

The suspension is fully adjustable but it appears the Mustang's infamous live rear axle remains. Ford has also uprated the brakes for the GT500 S/C, but exact details of the specification have not been released.

As standard, the 653bhp Mustang GT500 reaches 60mph in 3.5sec and has a claimed top speed of 202mph. It seems unlikely the S/C 1000 will be quicker to 60mph given the inherent traction issues of transmitting nearly 1200bhp to the road through two driven wheels. Expect the top speed to rise fairly significantly, however.

Just 100 GT500 S/C 1000s will be made by Ford and Shelby. Each will cost $154,995 (£101,000 at the current exchange rate).

Matt Bird

New York motor show: Buick LaCrosse and Regal

Posted: 22 Mar 2013 08:13 AM PDT

New York motor show: Buick LaCrosse and Regal Buick, GM's American luxury arm aims to launch five new or significantly revised models in 2013

Buick will present updated LaCrosse and Regal saloons at the New York motor show. The facelifts are part of GM's strategy for Buick which will see the latter unveil five new or revised models in 2013.

Judging by the most recent spy shots, the revisions for the 2014 model year LaCrosse appear largely cosmetic. It gains reprofiled bumpers front and rear, a more prominent grille, larger headlamps and additional chrome detailing.

Inside, a large touchscreen dominates the centre console and replaces the buttons found on the current LaCrosse.

The Regal saloon is based on the Vauxhall Insignia. It will incorporate a similar mid-life revamp as the British variant.

As the Insignia adopts more dynamic styling in line with new Vauxhalls such as the Cascada, so also will the Regal. Expect more a more aggressive grille, tweaked bumpers design and new lights. As with the LaCrosse, the Regal's interior will gain a larger touchscreen in place of buttons.

In Britain, the Insignia will gain GM's new 1.6-litre turbocharged 'mid-sized gasoline engine' and diesel powerplants. It's unknown whether these will be available in the US-market Regal. Revised suspension, which aims to improve ride quality, is likely to feature on all derivatives of the Insignia.

Further details of both saloons will be announced by Buick at the show.

Matt Bird

Seat must 'double its sales' to survive

Posted: 21 Mar 2013 02:18 AM PDT

Seat must 'double its sales' to survive Only a doubling of current sales volumes will guarantee Seat's future, suggests boss James Muir

The long-term future of Seat will only be secured when it has at least doubled sales from its current position, according to its boss James Muir.

Last year Seat sold 320,000 cars, and Muir has targeted a doubling of that figure as a minimum for sustainable success. Longer-term, he says car makers will have to sell nearer one million cars a year to be sustainable.

"We have to bring volume to the table as well as profits," said Muir. "In the short-term that means the investment we have received for the Leon family needs to translate into sales. Then every bit of investment we get thereafter needs to pay off. With that, we can shout louder within the Volkswagen Group to get more investment."

Seat is believed to have an MQB platform-based Nissan Qashqai rival under development. In common with many car manufacturers Seat is looking to expand in to every area of the crossover market.

Fiat stops 500 range expansion

Posted: 21 Mar 2013 02:00 AM PDT

Fiat to limit 500 range expansion The last 500-badged model will be a 500X SUV as Fiat turns to Panda variants to expand its line-up

There is "a limit" to the amount of models that can wear the 500 badge "without risking the value and genes" of the core model, according to Fiat brand chief Gianluca Italia. He has instead earmarked the Panda range for growth along the same lines as the 500 line-up has been expanded.

Responding to the suggestion that Fiat risked losing some of the allure of the 500 name with an expansion to mirror that of Mini, Italia said: "We're talking about a few models with 500 that leverage on the asset, not several. Mini is a brand, 500 isn't. Fiat is the brand so the 500 does not need to be. There is a limit."

Fiat has recently added the 500L five-seat MPV to the 500 line-up, with a seven-seat 'XL' version with two occasional-use seats in the boot to follow in September. Italia also said a new Italian-built small SUV known as 500X was "in our plans", with a 2014 launch mooted.

Italia said the 500X would "be our way to tackle the C-segment in an effective way", effectively replacing the Bravo.

But, he said, no further models would be added to the 500 line-up beyond that, explicitly ruling out coupé and roadster models.

That leaves the expansion of the Panda range to tackle Fiat's need to replace the Punto. Italia said there "were all sorts of possibilities" with how the Panda could evolve, and a model subtly larger than the current car would be a natural fit in the B-segment as a Punto replacement.

"Whatever we do with the Panda, it will always remain functional and accessible," said Italia.

Fiat has been heartened by the success of the new Panda, particularly the new Trekking and 4x4 versions. "We've never sold so many in the UK," said Italia, who hinted that a successor for the 100hp cooking hatch was also in the works.

New Vauxhall boss to address image problem

Posted: 20 Mar 2013 07:32 AM PDT

Vauxhall/Opel image story New boss Karl-Thomas Neumann plans to revive Vauxhall with a refreshed brand image and an expanded product line-up

Opel/Vauxhall's new boss Karl-Thomas Neumann says improving the brand's image is key to his strategy for turning around its fortunes.

Prior to Neumann's appointment, Opel embarked on a ten-year recovery plan called Drive 2022, which involves refinancing, restructuring, a targeted return to profitability by mid-decade and an ambitious roll-out of new cars and engines.

On top of this, the former president of Volkswagens' Chinese operations has outlined his own priorities for helping the company's turnaround.

After driving Opel's current product line-up, including new vehicles such as the Mokka, Adam and Cascada, Neumann said:  "The vehicles are not the problem. The opposite is the case; we have the strongest product portfolio for many years.

"Still, people don't buy enough of them and that has a lot to do with the Opel brand and specifically with the bad news that we kept on generating.

Neumann said the repositioning of the brand would involve continuing the push into new segments and building "innovative and emotional" products. Opel is planning to roll out 23 new cars and nine new engines as part of Drive 2022.

"I know there is a lot I can build on," he said. "Opel is a mainstream manufacturer. It is innovative and emotional and is capable of moving into new segments, even creating segments. The Cascada is a good example – we have to go this way.

"If the brand could shine like it did ten or 15 years ago, then with the product [we have] I would have no worries about our future, even in such a difficult market."

Neumann added that his two other priorities were cutting costs in line with the Drive 2022 plan and changing the Opel's culture to make it "proud of its products and the brand".

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