Wednesday, March 6, 2013

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Autocar Online - News

Range Rover Evoque nine-speed automatic first drive review

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 05:00 AM PST

Land Rover adds extra ratios to its Evoque in an attempt to improve economy and drivability It's the Range Rover Evoque with a new automatic gearbox – a nine, count 'em, speed variant that will replace the existing six-speed auto on 2014 model year Evoques. That means you can order it from around June and Evoques with the new 'box will arrive from September.It's the first application of this new ZF '9HP' gearbox. Land Rover has become a lead partner for the transmission, which has been specially developed for transverse engine installations, so gets it first to install in its Evoque. And instead of the 'box having two overdriven gears, as the six-speeder does, four gears are now overdriven towards the top end, and the upper ratios stretch much further than sixth did. At the bottom end, first is even lower than before, too.The main benefits, then, are improved drivability at the bottom when towing or off-roading, and at the top it gives a lazier and therefore – you would think – quieter and more economical cruise.Although the new CO2 rating hasn't been officially sanctioned, Land Rover says it will improve by four per cent thanks to the gearbox alone, but will actually turn out 10 per cent better because the auto Evoque now includes stop-start for the first time.That means a diesel's economy should improve from 43.5 to around 48mpg, with the turbo petrol up from 32.5 to nearly 36mpg.The new 'box is a compact unit – only 6mm longer than before despite the three extra ratios – and some 7.5kg lighter. Some of that weight loss is because two dog clutches are used instead of conventional clutch packs.There's no word on cost as I write – other trim adjustments will likely be made for the 2014 model year, too - but I wouldn't rule out a very modest increase.

Geneva motor show: Alfa Romeo 4C Launch Edition

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 04:43 AM PST

Exclusive 'Launch Edition' 4C to cost £52,000, capable of 0-62mph in 4.5sec

Alfa Romeo has unveiled its 'Launch Edition' model of the new 4C sports car.

Costing €60,000 (approximately £52,000), the Alfa Romeo 4C Launch Edition is distinguished from the normal car by additional carbonfibre trim, white or red paint, distinctive badging, bi-LED headlights, a rear aluminium diffuser with a dark finish and large burnished alloy wheels.

It also includes coloured brake calipers, a racing exhaust system, an aftermarket air cleaner, a specifically calibrated suspension system, additional front air intakes and minor interior changes.

Powered by a 237bhp turbocharged four-cylinder Alfa Romeo 1750 TBi engine, coupled with Alfa's TCT dual-clutch transmission, official figures state that the 4C can accelerate from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds. Its top speed is "in excess" of 155mph.

Only 400 will be available in Europe, Africa and the Middle East; 500 will be sold in North America and 100 in the rest of the world.

Each Launch Edition additionally grants the buyer the opportunity to take part in an event in Italy that includes a driver training session.

The Alfa Romeo 4C Launch Edition is available to order now for around £52,000. Pricing for the standard 4C has yet to be announced but it's thought to be less than £50,000.

Click here for more Geneva motor show 2013 news.

Honda Civic Type R to begin testing

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 02:46 AM PST

New turbocharged Civic Type R set to undergo testing at the Nurburgring

The new Honda Civic Type R will begin testing at the Nurburgring later this year

Although it is not scheduled to be launched until 2015, company officials say that the ambitious performance targets - which include setting the fastest ever front-wheel drive lap time around the Nurburgring - mean that public testing will begin early. 

Honda has confirmed that the car will have between 265 and 300bhp, suggesting power for the new Civic Type R will come from a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine.

The manufacturer claims that knowledge gleaned from its participation in the World Touring Car Championship, using a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, will directly influence its new Type R unit.

The new Honda Civic Type R will initially be sold in Europe only, with non-European sales likely to follow if the car is well received. No prices have yet been announced.

Geneva motor show: Renaultsport and Nismo could share engines

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 02:31 AM PST

Renault chief says hot Renaults and Nissans could share powertrains

Renault and Nissan''s sporting operations are likely to share powertrains in the future, Renault's product boss Tom Lane confirmed to Autocar at the Geneva motor show.

Renaultsport and Nismo are both undertaking aggressive growth programmes, but Lane said the firms, which are alliance partners, will do everything they can to cut costs of developing new cars.

Going forward there will be some opportunities for synergies between Renaultsport and Nismo," said Lane. ""The costs involved in powertrain development are enormous, for example, yet we have to acknowledge that the sales volumes involved in Renaultsport and Nismo are relatively modest.

"Because of that I'd say there is some scope for shared powertrains in the future. There's no point in each division developing its own 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine separately, for example.""

The Nissan Juke Nismo was recently released to critical acclaim, while Renaultsport''s tuning prowess is well established.

New McLaren and Ferrari set to sell out quickly

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 01:50 AM PST

The McLaren P1 and the LaFerrari will be sold out within weeks, according to company insiders

The McLaren P1 will be sold out within weeks, it has been confirmed, with the company selling a further six cars on the opening day of the Geneva motor show.

The £866,000 hypercar was revealed in production form for the first time in Geneva, but customers have been placing orders since the near-identical concept car was revealed at last year's Paris motor show.

An insider told Autocar that since Paris the company had been evaluating around 700 serious expressions of interest. Having initially pledged to sell less than 500 cars, representations were made by early buyers to reduce the number of cars sold to make them more exclusive.

"The price and performance are secondary to the exclusivity for many buyers," said the insider. "The last thing a buyer of this kind of car wants is to pull up to a hotel and find someone else has an identical car, and they also want to know that the exclusivity is there to make it likely the cars will appreciate in value in time."

McLaren has also sought to avoid selling cars to people buying them as an investment. "We want them to be used for the purpose they have been engineered for," he said. "It isn't just a case of writing a cheque – there is a process of evaluation to go for."

Likewise, the £1m LaFerrari has yet to sell out, although marketing boss Nicola Boari says it is likely to be a formality. 

"We are in the process of talking to our 700 most exclusive customers, and when that process is over we expect to have sold all 499 cars," he said. 

Click here for more Geneva motor show 2013 news.

Entry-level Land Rover is 'under evaluation'

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 12:11 PM PST

A model under the Freelander is being considered along with many others

Land Rover is evaluating plans for a new entry-level SUV company boss John Edwards has confirmed – but he has stressed that it is one of many possible new models, and that work has yet to begin on any of them.

Speculation on Indian television had suggested that a new manufacturing plant could be built in the region, in preparation for manufacturing a new entry-level model that would be priced under the Freelander.

The source suggested it would be Land Rover's smallest model yet and would have an engine of around two litres in capacity. If the plans were to go ahead, the new Land Rover could form the basis of a co-operative effort between Land Rover, Tata and Chinese partner Chery.

"We continue to look at opportunities for a smaller, cheaper Land Rover," said Edwards. "But we are also clear that we are looking at many opportunities for Land Rover to expand, in different segments, different price points and so on. We want to grow, but we have to evaluate where the best opportunities are."

Edwards also confirmed that any new Land Rover models would almost certainly be manufactured for sale in all global markets, suggesting speculation that the new small car would be for emerging markets only was misplaced.

Moreover, a sub-Freelander model could prove popular in Britain where sales of such cars are booming. The Mini Countryman is evidence of this and surely a fact acknowledged by Land Rover.

Can the Corvette Stingray convertible match Europe's best?

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 10:40 AM PST

An interview with the new Corvette's designer shows promise for the latest C7

Maybe it's in the passionate way its makers speak about it, the promise that it's been very much designed with Europeans in mind, or just in the way it looks so good, but there's something about the new Chevrolet Corvette Stingray that does it for me in the way no other big American sports car gets close to.

I caught up with its designer, Ed Welburn, at the Geneva motor show today and the way he spoke about the car was enough to put a big smile on any petrolhead's face: he is a man that loves cars, knows all about cars, loves designing cars and is passionate about designing great cars.

"The 'Vette has such a wonderful history, and I don't want to be the designer to screw it up," he told me on how he went about the project. "You start by understanding the history and what makes the 'Vette so iconic. But you also need to understand how to make it relevant today and into the future, thinking differently but without forgetting the past."

The Stingray makes all the right noises on the contemporary front: "lighter, leaner, more athletic, more youthful looking, more aerodynamic" are some of the words Welburn uses to describe the design brief for the new C7.

Once that had been decided on, Welburn, who oversees design at every single General Motors brand, challenged every one of his 2000 or so designers in 10 GM design centres around the world to submit a design for the 'Vette.

"This helped us see what the new car should not be as much as what it should be," he said. "It was fascinating to see what the car means to different designers around the world."

Welburn pinned "hundreds and hundreds" of sketches on the walls of where his "core" design team in Detroit were tasked with coming up with the final look. "This was not an easy project, but it was smoother than most," he said. "We had challenges, but I think we've created something really special here."

Welburn is particularly proud of the interior – "there was lots of improvement" over the old C6 here, Welburn noted.

Is he concerned the more contemporary look of the car would be a switch off to the 'Vette's passionate following? "You can still design for a new audience and keep the fans happy," he said. "We certainly didn't want to alienate the fans in appealing to a wider, bigger audience. But we've shown it in public to current owners and they love it – the reaction has been great and we couldn't be happier so far."

The global debut of the convertible version in Geneva has just passed, along with talk of a big part of its development taking place at the Nürburgring, was a deliberate ploy to show just how serious GM is about enhancing the 'Vette's appeal outside of the US. "We did research on what European sports car buyers want, and had strong input from our designers in Europe," he said.

The Chevrolet brand is gaining traction in Europe, and it's hoped that this new "icon for the brand", as Welburn puts it, can have a positive effect on the looks of the rest of the range. "This will have a very healthy influence on the rest of the Chevrolet range," said Welburn.

As ever, the proof in just how 'iconic' the new 'Vette is will be in the way it drives. But if the engineering department has had as much passion for the new car as Welburn's design team, then the 'Vette has its best chance ever at going global.

Why real fun can't be found on the specification sheet

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 10:26 AM PST

Stats may make for impressive reading at motor shows, but the real test remains out on the road

What, then, makes a better driver's car? Is it the difference between 903 or 950 horsepower? Is it 1255kg dry‚ versus 1400kg at the kerb; or is it 0-186mph in 15.5 versus 17sec, lapping the northern loop in under seven minutes and, I think you'll find, a few seconds faster than the other car? No, it isn't.

Is that stuff amusing? yes. Fascinating? Kind of, in a playground spat or internet forum kinda way. But relevant? No.

You can define quite a lot with statistics, but not how good a car is to drive. Some stats will give you a clue to how a car will react, obviously: weight, width, where power and torque are produced or weight distribution. But once you're into the realms of hoofing fast‚ the minutiae of differences in 0-186mph times or top speed becomes all but an irrelevance, compared to how a car feels and flows, how it rides, steers or sounds.

If you'd heard the tone of some of the proclamations emerging from the McLaren and Ferrari stands at the Geneva motor show today, you'd think that they couldn't care more about some of these statistics. But the truth is they couldn't matter less. The stopwatch gives you definable absolutes, but it's no arbiter of the tactile qualities of a road car.

Is the industry experiencing a hypercar hangover?

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 10:13 AM PST

New hybrid hypercars have stolen the show at Geneva, but their success isn't guaranteed with post-recession buyers

When the green light was given to the LaFerrari, the Porsche 918 and the McLaren P1 around four or five years ago, the global market for what Lamborghini calls 'exclusive super sports cars' had hit buoyant 35,600 units in 2007.

By 2009, at the bottom of the credit crunch, that figure had dropped to 20,200. The following year, annual global sales bounced back up to 26,900 units. Supercar makers might have expected this market to have been back above 36,000 units by now. In fact, since 2010, it's been gently downhill for this most niche of automotive markets.

According to Lamborghini's figures, only 25,000 super sports cars were sold globally in 2012. This squeeze of 10,000 units - or nearly 30 per cent below the 2007 peak - will have a serious impact on the prospects of the three eco-hypercars that will be launched this year. As Aston Martin found with the (admittedly very expensive) One-77, it takes time and a lot of customer contact to shift the production run of a hypercar.

Rumours are circulating that Porsche is some way from allocating all 918 examples of its hybrid hypercar and Ferrari and McLaren are engaged in the most public of PR scraps as the LaFerrari and the P1 look set to go on sale within months of each other.

The fact that McLaren has reduced the planned production run from 500 to 375 units comes as no great surprise. Ferrari, which plans 500 units of the flagship, says that they are not all sold as of its unveiling in Geneva. These two makers are, of course, fighting for the same small band of customers. Jaguar recently canned its own eco-hypercar, the C-X75, probably judging that it could only come fourth in a four-way fight with Porsche, McLaren and Ferrari.

And it's not just the shrunken market that is a challenge. All these new cars have complex hybrid electric drivetrains, a complete departure from the supercar norm. Who is to say that supercar buyers will be seduced by 'green' technology that probably looked like the essence of the future back in 2008? Rapidly rising auction prices also suggest that some of those in the market for the most expensive supercars might be increasingly turning to the old masters, rather than the most modern machines.

These eco-hypercars will all have price tags of £866,000 (P1) and above (£1m for LaFerrari). By contrast, Lamborghini's Aventador, with its reassuringly conventional 690bhp V12 costs £250,000. No wonder, then, that Lambo shifted over 920 examples last year alone, a number expected to rise with the arrival of the roadster this year.

Keeping your hypercar simple might be the best plan of all.

Hyundai could delay i20 WRC debut

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 09:48 AM PST

Korean manufacturer to potentially delay i20 WRC car's competitive debut to allow further testing and development

The Hyundai i20 WRC was shown in its second generation at Geneva, but the new team boss admits that a third development step is required before he can consider whether the car is ready to make its much-rumoured debut on this year's Rally GB.

The Korean manufacturer is gearing up to a full WRC assault in 2014, but rumours continue to suggest that it could make a competitive debut this year in order to gauge its progress. The season-closing Wales Rally GB, which runs from 14-17 November, is said to be the preferred choice.

However, Hyundai's new rally team boss Michel Nandan says the team will not decide on a debut until it starts testing a further development of this car in earnest - and that won't happen until the summer.

Interestingly, though, the Geneva car's styling is said to have been approved by Hyundai and Kia design chief Peter Schreyer - a clear sign that it is closer to the competitive specification than the original prototype that was revealed last year.

"We are still setting up the team," Nandan told Autocar. "We have 25 people there now, and by this time next week it could be, say, 27. The goal is to have 100 or thereabouts; we will have our own engine dynos and so forth, but they are not installed yet.

"The first car that was shown at Paris last year was a prototype built in Korea; now we have this generation shown here, which has work to the bodywork, cooling and aerodynamics. We will do some testing with this car but the serious testing won't start until the summer; by that point we will have a further step that will look different again."

No decision has been taken on which drivers could conduct the development programme - although names like former world champion Petter Solberg and Briton Kris Meeke have been linked with the project.

Nandan, the man responsible for designing the Peugeot 206 and 307 WRCs from the late 1990s and early 2000s, has been tempted back into competitive motorsport from a role at the French governing body, the FFSA.

"Hyundai is an exciting challenge, because we're starting from zero," he said. "That is what appealed. There is real enthusiasm for the company and they want to make the motorsport side a big part of what they do."

Skoda aims at three model SUV line-up

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 09:23 AM PST

Slow-selling Roomster is likely to be replaced by a crossover, and a seven-seat SUV could sit above the Yeti in Skoda's expanding range

Skoda is likely to replace the slow-selling Roomster MPV with a compact SUV model, according to company chairman Dr Winfried Vahland.

Speaking at Geneva, where Skoda unveiled the third generation estate version of its best-selling Octavia, Vahland admitted that the Roomster's avantgarde styling had polarised opinions, limiting sales.

In 2012 just 35,000 Roomsters left the factory. Vahland also said that the MPV market was 'slipping a little' while the compact SUV segment was growing strongly. Frank Welsch, Skoda's head of technical development, also told Autocar that Skoda was looking closely at a seven-seat flagship SUV to sit above today's Yeti.

Skoda is also considering building a new, more spacious, budget family hauler which could be based on the long wheelbase VW Caddy, though no final decision has been yet made on the proposal.

Vahland also said that work was underway on a replacement for the Superb flagship. 'It will be a milestone, and I don't say that lightly. It is more than an evolution of the current car' he told Autocar.

Skoda sold 930,000 cars globally in 2012, with China the biggest market at 240,000 units, followed by Germany and Russia. The medium-term aim is for Skoda to sell 1.5 million cars by 2018, with significant growth in Russia.

It also aims to hit 500,000 sales per year with the third-generation Octavia. A new MQB platform factory being built 60 miles south west of Shanghai will supply the MK3 Octavia to the Chinese market.

Click here for more Geneva motor show 2013 news.

Alpine-Caterham sports cars at 'advanced design stage'

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 08:44 AM PST

Laurens van der Acker cites Alpine A110 as a strong influence while Caterham's design will bear no similarity

The jointly developed Alpine and Caterham sports cars will look completely different when they are launched in 2015, according to Laurens van den Acker, head of design for Renault.

Design work for both projects is said to be at an advanced stage, with Alpine boss Carlos Tavares and Caterham owner Tony Fernandes said to have approved designs that will push the £50,000 Porsche Boxster rivals in different directions.

"This is not a project that will create two cars that look the same, like the Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ," said van den Acker. "What we plan to create is two cars that will look completely different. People will not recognise them when they are parked together."

Renault marketing boss Steve Norman has previously told Autocar that the Alpine will have DNA that is "French and not German".

"It must be light and look different, and have a touch of French dash," said Norman. "It's not a car for dandies, though. We know who the buyer is: he's either French or a Francophile. And the car has technical innovation as part of its DNA."

The Alpine A110 will also play a key role in shaping the reborn brand's new car according to van den Acker. "It is the car that sparked the dream of rebuilding the brand," he said. "To not acknowledge that in my design would be to disappoint the dreams of these enthusiasts."

Geneva motor show: Audi hypercar under evaluation

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 08:37 AM PST

Audi's technical boss has confirmed proposals for a Le Mans-inspired hypercar are underway, with an update due at the Frankfurt motor show

Audi is poised to outline its plans to launch a Le Mans-inspired road car at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

Speaking to Autocar at the Geneva motor show, Audi technical chief Wolfgang Dürheimer said that the proposed Audi hypercar was in the "product evaluation" stage of its development, but he hinted that the car was looking good to be followed through to production.

"We run product evaluation on different ideas, looking at market positioning, brand image, development cost and time to market," said Wolfgang Dürheimer. "Once this is done we will have a clear decision on what happens next. I would expect an update on this project in September at Frankfurt.

"It is still alive and I'm pushing for it."

Dürheimer is keen to closely align the Le Mans programme with a road car as it "can have a tremendous boost for brand kudos" and people "would go crazy for it". 

The Audi hypercar is likely to have a radical diesel-electric hybrid powertrain, to link it to the set-up in the Le Mans car.

He wouldn't be drawn on the exact capacity of the powertrain or the platform for the car, but said that all the technology already existed within Audi and the firm would not have to develop anything bespoke from scratch. A plug-in hybrid is likely, however, as Audi continues to push the technology.

Dürheimer said that there was still room for another car maker to create a hypercar, following the launch of the McLaren P1, LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder, but he hinted the volumes would be tiny.

"The market for these cars is fairly limited, but they are so important for brand image and perception," said Wolfgang Dürheimer. "For these cars, these should be the main focuses.

"I think we need to do this car and show clearly where racing goes."

Dürheimer added that hybrid technology would be accepted if these new breed of hypercars prove that the technology can make the cars go faster.

"I am convinced that if a hybrid can cut lap times and increase performance then this will be a breakthrough," he said. "You might think a race car is a long way from a road application, but the hybrid technology in racing has been transferred to the road cars already."

Click here for more Geneva motor show 2013 news.

Geneva motor show: AMG to offer more S models

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 08:00 AM PST

More AMG models will receive performance upgrades in future

Mercedes' AMG performance offshoot plans to offer even more potent S-model variants of its cars in its future line-up.

AMG boss Ola Kallenius revealed that the S-model variants would become a staple part of AMG's line-up in the future on the eve of the Geneva motor show.

The first Mercedes AMG S-model, the E63 AMG S-model, is making its European debut at the Geneva show. The E63 AMG S-model produces 577bhp from its twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 engine, as opposed to the 549bhp from the standard E63 AMG's engine. 

Kallenius said that the next models to get the S-model treatment would be the CLS63 AMG and CLS63 AMG Shooting Brake models.

The S-model badge is effectively a replacement for the 'Performance Package' offered on AMG models. With S-model, it is now marketed as a standalone model rather than as a feature of the options list.

Click here for more Geneva motor show 2013 news.

Autocar magazine 6 March preview

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 07:49 AM PST

In this week's Autocar magazine: All the latest news from Geneva; Mercedes SLS Black Series first drive; Renault Clio road test; Dacia Sandero against its used rivals

This week's Autocar front cover stars the replacement for the Ferrari Enzo. The new LaFerrari costs £1m, develops 950bhp and will reach 62mph in less than 3sec. On paper, at least, it looks like it could give the McLaren P1 a bloody nose.

Elsewhere, the extra large news section is jam-packed with all the major car reveals from Geneva. That includes the €3m Lamborghini Veneno, Rolls-Royce Wraith and Mercedes A45 AMG. Other reveals of yet-to-be-seen cars include the Kia Provo, Spyker B6 Venator, Honda Civic estate concept, Renault Captur and more. In total, more than 100 new cars will be revealed at the show.

We've also driven some top-notch new machinery, with the Ford Fiesta ST and Mercedes SLS Black taking centre stage. Other reviews include the Mini JCW Paceman, Seat Leon SC and the Renault Clio, which gets the full eight-page road test treatment.

The features section has a budget car feel, with James Ruppert taking our £5995 Dacia Sandero out in to the real world to discover just how good it is, and how well it will sell. Touring round his local garage, a second hand car dealer, some mainstream dealers and a car supermarket, James takes readers further under the skin of Britain's cheapest car.

That feature is complimented by a special investigation by Hilton Holloway, who analyses how manufacturers are scrabbling to follow Dacia's lead in the budget car market, and push technology as hard as they can to further reduce the costs of new cars for emerging markets.

The used car section is led off by a three-page buying guide to the Kia Sorento, which provides big space for surprisingly little money or reliability concern, while that man James Ruppert returns to cast a critical eye over the rights and wrongs of buying a BMW 1-series.

Our long-term test fleet updates include the Caterham Seven, Audi A6 Allroad, Subaru XV and Vauxhall Astra VXR.

Autocar magazine is available through all good newsagents, and available to download from Zinio and the Apple iTunes store.

Land Rover Defender Electric first drive review

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 02:00 AM PST

Battery-powered Defender won't make production, but the concept shows real promise as a zero-emission 4x4 It's a Land Rover Defender (there's lovely) whose motive force is supplied by electric motor rather than internal combustion engine.It's not a production vehicle and won't be any time soon, but Land Rover has built seven and is putting them through various trials because, well, the electric drivetrain in many ways suits the Defender, and because it's a flexible platform to drop this stuff into.The idea first came around when a reserve in South Africa contacted Land Rover to commission an electric vehicle for game-watching. That car could touch 40mph (both forwards and, handily if being charged by an angry animal with big teeth, backwards) and would happily mooch around the reserve all day before needing to be recharged. An electric Land Rover would hopefully be quiet enough to approach the game so as not to disturb them, too.This time around the 110-wheelbase Defenders are rather more sophisticated. The 300v, 27kWh lithium-ion battery pack sits where the diesel engine would usually be, where it's relatively easy to keep cool, with a 94bhp Switch Reluctance motor between (and beneath) the front seats, where the gearbox would usually go.A power inverter also sits in the engine bay, with an ECU unit beneath the passenger footwell and a single reduction gear behind the motor, so the system would be, effectively, fixed ratio. However, the four-wheel drive transmission retains its low-ratio transfer and locking differentials, so you get two ratios, although given the Defender's agricultural nature, swapping between them still requires stopping and hauling on a small lever.In addition to its 94bhp, the motor generates 250lb ft from zero rpm, which makes it, unsurprisingly, very effective off-road. It is also – and this is quite important – fully waterproofed, to the extent that its wade depth is 800mm – up from 500mm on the standard car. Theoretically, you could drive it submerged, were it not for a fuel-fired heater in the cabin which requires an air inlet. And, y'know, drowning.The range is ostensibly 50miles, with a 12.5mile reserve; just in case you're being stalked by a tiger and need to shake him off. The top speed is limited to 70mph. Land Rover thinks that, in off-road use, the charge should last for around eight hours, given regenerative braking and the relatively low speeds involved. Recharge time is 10 hours, or four with a fast-charger.

Geneva motor show: Subaru Viziv

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 11:14 PM PST

Subaru Viziv concept hints at future design language and hybrid powertrain technology for the brand

Subaru unveiled a new crossover concept at the Geneva motor show that points towards the brand's plans for hybrid vehicles, as well as its future design direction.

The two-door Viziv applies shooting brake design cues to a crossover that is 4320mm long, 1900mm wide and 1510mm high, with a wheelbase of 2640mm.

Propelling the Viziv is a plug-in hybrid system what the manufacturer describes as 'a proposal to the future of Subaru power units'. The front axle is powered by a two-litre boxer diesel engine and an electric motor, while two independent electric motors drive the rear wheels. 

A continuously variable transmission provides the drive and the powertrain automatically switches between electric power only for low-speed and city driving and the diesel engine for higher-speed travel.

The Japanese manufacturer remains committed to the all-wheel-drive philosophy that has underpinned its products for generations, but the Viziv's use of electric motors to drive the rear wheels eliminates the need for a propshaft and increases space in the four-seat cabin.

No prospective emissions figures have been issued for the concept.

Subaru is preparing to launch its first hybrid production model in its home Japanese market, with an announcement about which model it will use 'not far away'. That car is also likely to reach US, the manufacturer's second strongest market, while its prospects of coming to Europe are still being evaluated.


Geneva motor show: Mercedes to begin previewing SLS replacement

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 03:17 PM PST

Mercedes has revealed its intention to replace the SLS supercar with a Porsche 911 rival

Mercedes will preview its intention to replace the SLS AMG "very soon" with a new concept car, according to a senior company official speaking ahead of the Geneva motor show.

The new concept is likely to pave the way for the new 'SLC AMG', as the hotly tipped SLS replacement has become known.

Rather than replace the SLS with a like-for-like replacement, the new model is set to be smaller and compete more directly with the Porsche 911.

A much wider range of variants, however, should allow the front-engined, rear-drive coupe and cabriolet models to compete with myriad rival performance cars between the mooted £80,000-£120,000 bracket.

Our source indicated that the SLS AMG still had several years left on sale yet, but its replacement was shaping up to be an "iconic" design for the Mercedes brand.

Before the new sports coupe is shown, Mercedes is gearing up to show replacements for its current S-class and C-class ranges. The S-class will be shown first in the next few months, with the C-class to follow early next year.

The look of the new S-class is said to pave the way directly for the C-class with what's described as a "sporty and elegant" look for the new BMW 3-series rival.

Click here for more Geneva motor show 2013 news.

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