Thursday, March 28, 2013

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Autocar Online - News

Video: Meet the ancestor - Aston Martin Vanquish

Posted: 28 Mar 2013 05:43 AM PDT

Which is best? The new £190k Vanquish, or the brutal original?

The new Aston Martin Vanquish is a real delight, but how does it fare against the brutal original. Has time been kind to the old car? Can its charms compete with the brillance of the new car? Steve Sutcliffe finds out.

Porsche Cayman S UK first drive review

Posted: 28 Mar 2013 04:58 AM PDT

Porsche Cayman S UK first drive review We put the 320bhp Porsche Cayman S through its paces on UK roads The new Porsche Cayman, in all its glory and in the UK for the first time. Aside from putting the steering wheel on the correct size, not much has been altered for the coupe's channel crossing so we'll gloss over the salient details. Suffice it to say that Porsche's UK line-up will start at £39,694 for a base 271bhp 2.7-litre car, and rise to £48,783 for the 320bhp Cayman S driven here.For many if not most, those prices will be jumping-off points for the kind of option-box ticking that keeps the brand in the black; our test car, equipped with extras such as Active Suspension Management, mechanical rear locking diff, carbon-ceramic brakes and bucket seats, came to £64,374.In contrast to the seven-speed PDK S model we drove abroad, this car also featured the six-speed manual gearbox, with detrimental effect to both performance and efficiency. In stick-shift form 0-62mph slows to 5.0sec from 4.7 while CO2 emissions grow to 206g/km from 188.

Solving the riddle at Red Bull

Posted: 28 Mar 2013 03:54 AM PDT

Solving the riddle at Red Bull Here are some suggestions as to how Christian Horner & Co could make Red Bull's troubles go away

1. Stick Sebastian Vettel in the Toro Rosso in China as penance for his naughty behaviour, and give Daniel Ricciardo a run in the big car next to Webber. That way Vettel would get to realise the error of his ways, Red Bull could take a good look at Ricciardo and see if he's good enough to replace Webber next year, and Toro Rosso could hang out with their old driver for a few days and gauge how good a job – or otherwise – their current pedallers are doing.

Probability rating: 2 (out of 10). Entertainment factor: 7. Might it happen? Not a chance.

2. Employ celebrity hypnotist Paul McKenna to eradicate the incident completely from the minds of Vettel and Webber, then let them carry on totally unaware that anything untowards has happened for the rest of the season. This would provide us viewers with the most extravagant Truman Show on wheels spectacle the world has ever seen, but it would also enable Red Bull to get its house in order – again – and get some concrete team orders in place. We could all then wait to see if Sebastian Vettel really is as disobedient as he appears.

Probability rating: zero. Entertainment factor: 10. Might it happen? Worth a try in this day and age, surely?

3. Have stern words with them both behind closed doors, pointing out what's what regards the team being bigger than the drivers, then quietly suggest to Vettel that he subtly give the next race back to Webber, no questions asked. And for the rest of the season make them both aware that, as far as the championship is concerned, it is, as they said in Vietnam, SNAFU (Google it and stand well back).

Probability rating: 8. Entertainment factor: 5. Might it happen? It's the only way forwards.

4. Fit both cars with mattresses front and rear (which could be festooned with Red Bull branding, of course) and hope for the best. The performance of the cars would be compromised somewhat by their new (un)aerodynamic additions, true, but they're so much quicker than the rest of them anyway that it probably wouldn't make much difference overall.

Probability rating: zero. Entertainment factor: 9. Might it happen? Unlikely all things considered, but then you never can tell in F1.

So then, are there any other ways – feasible or otherwise – in which you'd like to solve the riddle that is the Red Bull F1 team?


Compact rear-wheel-drive Renault concept spotted

Posted: 28 Mar 2013 03:35 AM PDT

Small rear-wheel drive Renault concept spied New Renault caught being filmed for an advert, could rejuvenate the spirit of the 5 Turbo

A new small Renault concept has been spotted in Madrid. From the footage that has been captured, it appears to be a rear-wheel-drive, mid-engined supermini.

The car is believed to be named TwinRun, or TwinFun. It was caught being filmed for an advert, and believed to have a three-cylinder engine.

Its mechanical layout could, potentially, hark back to classic Renault models such as the Renault 5 Turbo and Clio V6.

Should the TwinRun/Fun make production, it would most likely be as a rear-wheel-drive Alpine version of the next Twingo.

The pictures, which were released on an internet blog site, show how many elements of the car's design hint at those of the previous Renault 5 Turbo.

Matt Bird

Nissan Leaf production begins at Sunderland

Posted: 28 Mar 2013 02:03 AM PDT

Nissan starts Leaf production at Sunderland Nissan adds a third production facility for the Leaf EV; revised car boasts a 124-mile range

Nissan has begun production of the facelifted Leaf in Sunderland. It follows a four-year investment in the factory and a new battery plant costing £420m.

The decision to produce the Leaf in Britain has created 2000 new jobs, 500 of them directly with Nissan. This raises the total staff number to 6100 at Sunderland.

Nissan's executive vice president, Andy Palmer said "The Leaf is our most technically advanced car yet and the launch of this new model, built along with its batteries in Sunderland, is a huge boost not only for the plant but for British manufacturing".

Visiting the new production facility, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "Nissan's record breaking year last year is a success story for UK volume car manufacturing and demonstrates how our automotive industry is thriving in the global race".

Nissan's second-generation Leaf features a improvements over the original. The car's range is increased to 124 miles from 109, and the battery can be recharged in half the time. A series of suspension changes aim to improve the Leaf's composure on European roads whilst the introduction of an entry-level Visia trim will bring the price close to £20,000 with a Government grant. Overall, Nissan claims a total of more than 100 changes for the 2013 Leaf.

There are now 55,000 Leafs on the world's roads, being produced at three factories; Sunderland, Smyrna in America and Oppama, Japan. Nissan plans to further extend its EV range with an electric NV200 and an Infiniti model.

Matt Bird

Why the Jaguar XKR-S GT is mad, but utterly loveable

Posted: 28 Mar 2013 01:32 AM PDT

Why the Jaguar XKR-S GT is mad, but utterly loveable For some, the limited-run Jaguar XKR-S GT defies logic; for others it's the latest must-have

As a sight, it was a wonder to behold. On the opening day of the New York motor show a visitor, invited by a manufacturer, saw the Jaguar XKR-S GT and wanted to buy it. On the spot. He wanted to drive it off the show stand, and take it home with him. And here were his bank details, thank you very much.

I didn't hang around to listen to the artful diplomacy that was no doubt being wheeled out by the Jaguar dealer in attendance, but as far as I''m aware, the XKR-S GT remains on the show stand. And it''s for this very reason that you have to celebrate these sorts of limited edition specials.

On paper, the XKR-S is slightly mad. It''s expensive at £135,000, it''s got niche appeal because of its track bias and it''s more than a touch brash when compared to, say, the Ferrari 458 Italia, which it will lap the fabled (but over-quoted) Nürburgring in the same time as. Mad, but utterly loveable.

You have to admire Jaguar for having the balls to produce such a car. While management insists the project is profitable, it also has to be considered something of a labour of love, a lot of effort for a very small sales return. But then again, if you''re Jaguar and you want to make a splash at a key motor show, setting yourself apart from your more mainstream opposition, what better way is there to do it than with a Boy''s Own race car for the road?

If I had the money, I''d have joined the queue behind the wannabe buyer. Daniel Craig might have popped in to New York in a Range Rover Sport, but I''d bet my last dollar that his alter ego would have chosen the Jag.

Vettel announced as Infiniti's Director of Performance

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 02:27 PM PDT

Vettel announced as Infiniti Director of Performance Sebastian Vettel is to extend his involvement in the development of future Infiniti models

Infiniti has announced that Sebastian Vettel is its new Director of Performance.

The announcement, made at the New York motor show today, sees the reigning F1 world champion extend his relationship with Infiniti.

Infiniti says that Vettel has been "central to the development of the Infiniti Q50 from its early stages", providing with feedback on the vehicle's chassis dynamics, performance and handling. He will become more involved in the development of future Infinitis.

Both he, and Red Bull Racing test driver, Sebastien Buemi, were involved in the early stages of Q50 development at the Nürburgring, and during pre-season F1 testing at the Spanish Circuit de Catalunya.

Infiniti boss, Johan de Nysschen said: "Sebastian's talent and ability behind the wheel is unquestionable and his role in developing Infiniti vehicles has already proven invaluable."

Vettel said: "I am really happy to extend my relationship with Infiniti and become their Director of Performance. Helping to develop the Infiniti Q50 was a very different type of driving duty for me but I approached it in exactly the same way as I do my Formula One car.

"I am looking forward to working closely with Infiniti in developing more of their road cars into the future."

New York motor show: Kia Soul range could expand

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 12:18 PM PDT

New York motor show: Kia Soul range could expand Kia says some of its Soul-based concepts could yet see production

The new Kia Soul could spawn a family of vehicles, according to the head of Kia's California design studio Tom Kearns.

Kia showed convertible, pick-up and sport three-door concept versions of the last Soul, but none of them made production.

However Kearns, speaking to Autocar at the New York motor show, hinted that "one or two of those concepts remained very serious proposals" for how Kia could expand the Soul line-up.

"But I can't say which ones," added Kearns, although he hinted a convertible previewed by the Soul'ster concept would likely be the biggest commercial success.

"Kia has a good track record of making a lot of concepts we come out with. The Soul concepts have already shown there are more possibilities for the car."

New York motor show: Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 11:16 AM PDT

New York motor show: Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Chevrolet has shown the Camaro Z/28, which is claimed to be the fastest production Camaro yet

Chevrolet has revealed what it claims to be the most "track-capable" Camaro yet at the New York motor show. The Camaro Z/28 is lighter, features a range of aerodynamic aids to increase downforce and receives modified engine internals.

The Camaro's chief engineer, Al Oppenheiser said his team "set out to make the fastest road-racing Camaro possible that was still street-legal." The Camaro Z/28 weighs 136kg less than the supercharged ZL1 through reduced equipment and sound insulation, a lighter battery and thinner glass.

Along with the rest of the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro range, the Z/28 features a more aggressive nose and rectangular rear light clusters replacing the rounded unit in the current car.

The Camaro Z/28 receives a full aero kit, comprising a front splitter connected to an underbody panel which reduces lift. Wheelarch extensions, a rear wing and functional diffuser complete the external package. Heavily bolstered sports seats are among the interior changes.

Power comes from the 7.0-litre, naturally aspirated V8 introduced in the Corvette ZO6. The engine was chosen due to a wide torque band, which requires fewer gearshifts per lap. The dry-sumped engine has been co-developed by Corvette Racing, and uses titanium intake valves and rods, ported aluminium cylinder heads and a high-lift camshaft.

Chevrolet says the engine develops "at least" 500bhp and 470lb ft of torque, which is directed to the rear wheels via a Tremec TR6060 six-speed, close-ratio manual gearbox.

The Z/28 is claimed to deliver 1.05g of cornering grip, and uses race-bred dampers which are adjustable for both bump and rebound. Unsprung weight is reduced by 19kg through use of lightweight 19in alloy wheels, which also lower the centre of gravity by 33mm. It is also the first production application of Pirelli PZero Trofeo R tyres.

Brembo carbon ceramic brakes, gripped by six piston callipers are capable of achieving 1.5g in deacceleration.

The small super-saloon makes its comeback

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 11:09 AM PDT

The small super-saloon makes its comeback The original Japanese 4WD rally rockets may have fundamentally altered, but their spirit seems to live on in two new cars from Mercedes and Audi

If the four-wheel performance saloon seemingly met its demise just before Christmas last year, then it's made a timely comeback in time for Easter at the New York motor show.

Just before Christmas, Subaru announced the end for the Impreza-based WRX in the UK. Imports of the Mitsubishi Evo also ended in the UK late last year, with the new model set to be a diesel hybrid of all things.

There is of course a new Subaru WRX concept at New York, but it's hidden out the way until when tomorrow most of the world's media has already gone home. And even if you do stay, it's hidden in a hall off the beaten track; hardly a fitting fanfare such a model once earned.

So with a very different kind of Evo planned and no prospect of the new WRX making it to the UK, due to the fact there are no plans to bring the latest Impreza model on which it is based here, a small but lively corner of the performance market, the four-door performance saloon, appeared over.

Until the Germans intervened, that is.

At New York we have the new Mercedes CLA45 AMG and the confirmation of the new Audi S3 saloon, a car we only have to wait a couple of weeks to see at the Shanghai motor show.

The models offer even more power than their Japanese fore bearers, but crucially address their two biggest failings - the quality of the interior and the economy and CO2 emissions issues.

Quite if they can live up to the sense of driver involvement, off-the-scale grip levels and explosive power the Japanese models offered with such gusto are the questions that only driving them can answer, but for now we should rejoice: the compact four-door performance saloon has made a timely resurrection.

New York motor show: Mercedes-Benz B-class Electric Drive

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 10:51 AM PDT

New York motor show: Mercedes-Benz B-class Electric Drive All-electric Mercedes B-class to offer 115-mile range, full recharge in four hours

Closely following the launch of the Mercedes-Benz SLS ED is the reveal of an all-electric B-class.

The Mercedes' motor, which was co-developed with Tesla, outputs 134bhp and 230lb ft of torque.

Power comes from a battery pack mounted under the floor, which is claimed to be rechargeable from flat in four hours. 

Despite the motor's relatively high output the B-class is claimed to have a maximum range of 115 miles. Nissan's recently updated Leaf, however, offers a maximum range of 124 miles. 

Mercedes states that a two-hour charge will grant the B-class a range of around 60 miles, useful for those who intend to use it regularly.

Inside, the B-class remains much unchanged - but drivers do benefit from additional readouts for the vehicle's power system. The Mercedes also gets a smartphone integration system that allows owners to control functions like preheating.

Mercedes sales boss, Joachim Schmidt, said that he was "Convinced more and more people see zero emissions cars as making sense"

He also commented that "electric vehicles will be a major part of sustainable motoring".

The new Mercedes-Benz B-class Electric Drive, which will be offered in the US initially, will be available to order in the autumn. Sales are expected to start in early 2014. 

New York motor show: Wonder Woman Kia Sportage

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 10:31 AM PDT

New York motor show: Wonder Woman Kia Sportage Kia-DC Comics collaboration turns its attention to the Sportage crossover

Kia has taken the wraps off its latest car based on DC Comic's Justice League characters.

The Wonder Woman-inspired Sportage launched at the New York motor show is the seventh in an eight-model run, the last of which will incorporate all the previous heroes.

Previous Kias have included a Superman-themed Optima, a Soul based on the Green Lantern and the Aquaman Rio. All have been created to raise awareness of DC Entertainment's "We Can Be Heroes" relief campaign, bringing aid to those affected by the food crisis in the Horn of Africa.

Kia America's executive vice president of marketing and communications, Michael Sprague, said "The Wonder Woman portrays an impressive balance of power, agility and confidence, all of which are inherent characteristics of the Kia Sportage crossover".

The Sportage's exterior is inspired by Wonder Woman's outfit, with red and blue paint accented by stars. The star design is repeated on the five-spoke alloy wheels, whilst gold trim evokes Wonder Woman's 'Lasso of Truth'.

Further design highlights include blue headlight beams and a 'gold tiara' windscreen banner. Wonder Woman's eagle chest emblem replaces the Kia logo on the Sportage's grille.

The colour theme is replicated inside with red upholstery and blue LED lighting. Wonder Woman's logo is embroidered on the seats and the eagle logo can again be found in the boot.

Click here for more New York motor show 2013 news.

Matt Bird

New York motor show: Smart Fortwo Electric Drive

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 10:25 AM PDT

New York motor show: Smart ForTwo Electric Drive New Smart Fortwo will go on sale in the US, priced from $25,000

Smart has confirmed that the all-electric Fortwo ED will go on sale in the US.

Priced from $25,000 (approximately £16,500), the Smart will be offered in hatchback and cabriolet body styles.

This means that the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive will be the only electric convertible on sale in the US.

With the electric motor generating 96lb ft instantly, the 0-62mph sprint is dispatched in under 13 seconds.

The Smart's maximum range is claimed to be in the region of 90 miles.

Click here for more New York motor show 2013 news.

Evoque to receive regular design updates

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 08:58 AM PDT

Evoque could change Land Rover's design processes Land Rover's design boss wants to introduce a continual design improvement process and more Evoque derivatives

The Range Rover Evoque is likely to usher in a new style of updating cars for Land Rover, according to design boss Gerry McGovern.

Speaking at the New York motor show, McGovern said he was trying to change the established practice of introducing mid-life product updates for a process of continual improvement.

"With the Evoque in particular, I don't want to be in a position where I have to change the front end for the sake of it," said McGovern.

"We have to keep it fresh, but that doesn't mean changing the design necessarily, it could mean offering different finishes, materials, technology and so on, in a series of updates when they become available."

McGovern also confirmed a need to keep the Evoque relevant by launching new derivatives. Although he played down the likelihood of the Evoque cabrio concept making production imminently, he suggested a hot version of the baby SUV was likely.

"It's about picking the derivative that will have the most impact," he said. " It's true that we have more ideas than capacity, so it's important to focus on what meets our ambitions best."

New York motor show: Jaguar race return "obligatory but not imminent"

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 08:46 AM PDT

New York motor show: Jaguar race return "obligatory but not imminent" Jaguar's design boss confirms his brand's motorsport aspirations will focus on the F-type

Jaguar boss Adrian Hallmark has described the return of the brand to racing as "obligatory but not imminent".

Speaking at the New York motor show Hallmark also confirmed that any race activity would focus on the new Jaguar F-type.

"Our ambitions at the moment focus on volume growth, and going racing wouldn't impact on that in the type of way that makes it something we must do in the next three to five years," said Hallmark.

"But, for all that, Jaguar should be racing, just as it should have a sports car at the heart of its range. It will happen, and it will be authentic in that it will be with an existing product rather than a prototype or single-seater, but the actual date for it remains some way off."

New York motor show: Kia Forte Koup

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 06:54 AM PDT

New York motor show: Kia Forte Koup Kia reveals all-new Forte Koup, engine options to include 198bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol

Kia has taken the wraps off its all-new Forte Koup, which is also known as the Cerato in some markets.

It joins Kia's American range alongside the Forte saloon and the Forte five-door hatchback. Kia claims that it boasts European-inspired design and performance; it won't, however, be coming to the UK.

Engine options include a turbocharged 1.6-litre direct-injection petrol unit that outputs 198bhp and 195lb ft of torque. Models with this engine are, consequently, the most powerful Forte Koups ever.

"The Forte Koup is arguably the sportiest vehicle in our award-winning line-up, and it has helped raise Kia's brand awareness significantly among automotive enthusiasts," said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of marketing and communications of Kia Motors America.

Kia's new coupé will be offered in two trim levels, SX and EX, and buyers will be able to pick from two engines and transmissions. EX versions get a conventional 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and the SX gets the potent 1.6-litre turbocharged engine. 

Both engines should prove reliable as Kia's durability testing means that test engines are run for 300 continuous hours at redline under full load, then for an additional 20 hours at 10 per cent above redline under full load.

EX models feature a six-speed manual gearbox, while the SX is available with either the six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox with wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

In line with the rest of the Forte range, the Koup comes with a substantial standard equipment list that includes alloy wheels, a rear view camera, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control and LED running lights. Higher-specification SX models get larger alloy wheels, a body kit and different trim.

Optional equipment on offer includes upgrades like a sat-nav system, a heated steering wheel, leather trim and dual-zone climate control.

Sprague added "Its rakish design, premium specification and powerful turbocharged engine set it apart from the competition. With the debut of the Forte sedan and five-door earlier this year, and now the Koup in New York, the Forte line-up has been completely revamped from top to bottom."

The Kia Forte Koup is due to go on sale in the US in autumn.

Vauxhall VXR8 Tourer announced

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 06:41 AM PDT

Vauxhall VXR8 Tourer announced Vauxhall has announced the introduction of its third VXR8 variant

An estate version of the Vauxhall VXR8 is to be introduced. The Vauxhall VXR8 Tourer is the third model in the VXR8 range, which also includes the saloon and Maloo pick-up.

Vauxhall says the 6.2-litre, 425bhp VXR8 Tourer has the largest load volume of any estate car sold in the UK with 895 litres of room. It is also the most powerful estate in its history.

Official figures state the £49,500 VXR8 Tourer will reach 60mph in 4.9sec and is capable of reaching an electronically limited 155mph. The rear-drive estate is offered with the choice of an MM10 six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox working through a mechanical limited-slip differential.

The VXR8 Tourer shares its MacPherson strut with progressive-rate coils front arrangement and its multi-link rear suspension setup with the VXR8 saloon and Maloo. Launch control is fitted as standard.

Other standard kit includes full leather trim, HSV sports seats, 20in alloy wheels and Vauxhall's Enhanced Driver Interface system, already fitted to the VXR8 saloon.

New York motor show: Full gallery and report

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 01:33 AM PDT

New York motor show: Full gallery The most important developments from the New York motor show, which opened its doors this week

Jaguar and Mercedes tried the hardest, but the New York motor show was about just one car, the Range Rover Sport.

Sure, having James Bond behind the wheel helped generate the sort of global headlines to make marketing mean leap for joy, but that shouldn't be allowed to overshadow the triumph of the all-new Sport. Like it or loathe it, the off-roader that owners love to drive in sprawling cities is a car that demands attention.

What's remarkable is just how far Land Rover has pushed the Sport. Lighter, faster, more efficient, stiffer, more agile…...the list of improvements is long and the margin of the improvements, on paper at least, hugely significant. Make no mistake, Land Rover could have done less and earned more, but this is a thriving company that can smell an even brighter future; taking liberties with its halo products isn't something it's about to do.

Jaguar''s presence was minor by comparison, but you had to admire the way it went about generating a buzz with its small selling but high impact XJR and XKR-S GT  Here, you sense, is a company biding its time, putting in the groundwork for an explosive future. For now, projects that push the boundaries of existing cars are fine, but once the F-Type is bedded in, we should expect the upcoming small saloon and SUV to deliver booming sales. In New York, though, it was probably satisfying enough to have cash buyers on the stand demanding immediate delivery of the GT.

Of the rest, the Mercedes CLA45 AMG provided an amusing diversion, dampened slightly by the slightly muted drive verdicts of the standard car, the new Kia Soul looked great but seems likely to continue to mystify European buyers slightly, and the Subaru WRX''s potential impact was muted by its maker's insistence on keeping it under wraps until the second day of the show.

Elsewhere on the show floor, it was a case of where your tastes took you. Not even Daniel Craig got the crowds whooping and hollering as loudly as the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, while the new Jeep CherokeeChrysler 200, SRT Viper TA and Shelby Mustang GT500 S/C 1000 all had their fair share of homegrown chutzpah.

No matter. Every show only needs one star to shine. And in New York that star was straight from the A-list.

Click the image above to launch our New York motor show gallery

For more New York motor show 2013 news, click here.

New York motor show: Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 01:03 PM PDT

New York motor show: Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG 4Matic The wraps have officially come off the high-performance four-door in advance of its UK arrival in October

Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the second in a trio of new price-leading AMG performance models that will go on sale this year: the CLA45 AMG 4Matic. 

Sister car to the recently unveiled A45 AMG 4Matic and upcoming GLA45 AMG 4Matic, the rapid 355bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-door saloon is inspired by the larger CLS63 AMG. The new CLA45 AMG is scheduled to go on sale in the UK in October at an estimated price of £40,000. 

The transversely mounted engine is identical to the turbocharged four-cylinder unit used in the A45. Its 355bhp is produced at 6000rpm, and 332lb ft of torque is available between 2250rpm and 5000rpm.

Drive is channelled through a standard seven-speed dual-clutch AMG Speedshift gearbox and Haldex multi-plate-style clutch to all four wheels. The AMG Speedshift offers three driving modes - C (comfort), S (sport) and M (manual), as well as launch and double-declutching functions.

Official performance figures suggest that it will storm from a standstill to 62mph in 4.6sec — just 0.4sec slower than the 451bhp 6.2-litre V8-powered C63 AMG saloon. The top speed is electronically limited to 155mph. Combined fuel economy of 40.9mpg and average CO2 emissions of 161g/km are claimed. 

The CLA45 is distinguished from less powerful CLA models by a series of exterior design changes, including new bumpers, alloy wheels, wider sills and larger air intakes. Mercedes-Benz admits that the changes were aimed at providing it with a clear resemblance to the significantly more powerful CLS63 AMG. 

Inside, there's an upgraded interior, with standard AMG instruments, part-leather sport seats up front, red seatbelts, AMG multi-function steering wheel with shift paddles, AMG sill panels and aluminium dashboard trim, among other unique styling touches.  

Underpinning the CLA45 is a heavily reworked version of the CLA250 Sport's MacPherson strut and multi-link suspension. It receives unique springs and dampers, additional camber and a reduction in ride height. 

As with the A45, buyers will be able to choose between two states of tune: standard and Sport. The ESP (electronic stability program) has been recalibrated to take into account the CLA45's added performance potential. The system provides three modes: On, Sport and Off. 

Also included is an additional Curve Dynamic Assist function, which is aimed at providing added agility without any premature stability control intervention. Further chassis changes — including the adoption of stiffer steering knuckles and unique software mapping for the electro-mechanical steering — are aimed at sharpening responses.

The brakes feature 350mm front and 330mm rear steel ventilated and cross-drilled discs.

In the US the CLA45 AMG will become the entry-level AMG model, with prices starting at $47,450.

Sales boss Joachim Schmidt said that the CLA45 AMG is designed to "Appeal to the young and young at heart"

Click here for more New York motor show 2013 news.

New York motor show: Infiniti QX60 Hybrid

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 05:29 AM PDT

New York motor show: Infiniti QX60 Hybrid The new Infiniti QX60 Hybrid is the most efficient version of the firm's best-selling SUV

The Infiniti QX60 Hybrid has become the third petrol-electric model in Infiniti's line-up. The model, formerly called the Infiniti JX35, has premiered at the New York motor show today.

Infiniti claims the QX60 Hybrid, the second variant of the firm's most popular crossover, is capable of achieving the equivalent of 31.2mpg on the US combined cycle (37.5mpg UK). That represents a 24 per cent improvement over the 3.5-litre V6 non-hybrid model.

The Infiniti QX60 Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-litre supercharged four-cylinder petrol engine and a 15kW motor, which draws its power from a lithium ion battery. Combined power is rated at 250bhp and 243lb ft, slightly less than that offered by the non-hybrid V6.

Infiniti says the hybrid powertrain is positioned to retain the car's flat rear floor, resulting in no reduction in interior space.

The engine and motor is mated to a CVT gearbox. The Hybrid is offered with front-wheel drive or intelligent all-wheel drive.

In reference to the car's appeal in the North American snow belt, the QX60 Hybrid has a drive mode selector which features standard, sport and eco modes, as well as a snow-specific function.

Infiniti's President, Johan de Nysschen, said "We have clarified our brand and product vision as an aspirational, global provider of premium design and craftsmanship, relevant performance, innovative technology and Japanese hospitality."

Icona Vulcano set for Shanghai motor show debut

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 08:37 AM PDT

Icona Vulcano set for Shanghai motor show debut New Italian supercar combines V12 petrol engine and electric motors to produce 950bhp

A V12 hypercar from a brand new manufacturer will debut at the Shanghai motor show. According to its makers, the Icona Vulcano brings "the beauty and the beast together" with its design and engineering.

Icona is an Italian design house based in Shanghai with the Vulcano being its first completed project.

Icona has employed former Ferrari powertrain technical director Claudio Lombardi to work on its V12 engine, an indicator of its serious intent with the Vulcano. Following his successes in F1, Lombardi has recently founded AIPA to work on hybrid powertrains.

It will be his job to ensure the Vulcano delivers on its 900bhp promise. Icona has claimed a top speed of about 350km/h (217mph) and a 0-200km/h (124mph) time of under 10 seconds.

The Icona design team is led by Samuel Chuffart, formerly of Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan. The styling of the Vulcano will be an evolution of themes first explored on the Fuselage concept of 2011.

Matt Bird

Kia CUB concept unveiled at the Seoul motor show

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 05:06 AM PDT

Kia CUB concept set for Seoul motor show debut Compact coupé previews Kia's potential range expansion

Kia has taken the wraps of the CUB concept at the Seoul motor show. The four-door, four-seat compact coupé hints at the design of a future Kia performance flagship and follows the well-received Provo supermini.

The car has been styled at Kia's Seoul studio, under the direction of design head Peter Schreyer. The CUB features familiar Kia themes such as the tiger grille and wraparound front intake but also introduces new design touches, like the lack of conventional B-pillars and rear suicide doors.

Kia says the CUB has been designed with aerodynamic efficiency in mind. To that end, it features extremely sleek mirrors, 'turning vanes' on the sills, touch-type door handles and flush window glazing. Large 19in wheels and broad tracks contribute to the CUB's squat stance.

Power is provided by the same 1.6-litre GDI turbocharged engine set to feature in Kia's GT hot hatches. It produces 201bhp and 195lb ft of torque, sufficient for a 143mph top speed and a 0-62mph sprint time of 7.7 seconds.

As yet, no interior images have been released of the CUB, but Kia claims it offers a 'unique ambience' with four individual seats trimmed in black leather with yellow accents. A Driving Information System (DIS) is linked to a gesture sensor in the CUB's cabin to remove the need for conventional switchgear.

Kia suggests the driver can configure each menu on the central display with a set of 'well-defined motions'. The CUB's minimalist interior could pave the way for future Kias.

Despite its apparently production-ready design and running gear, Kia has no plans to make the CUB.

Matt Bird

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