Friday, March 8, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Quick news: Renault Zoe, new Skodas, Ferrari and Apple collaborate

Posted: 08 Mar 2013 04:32 AM PST

Renault's EV supermini gets top Euro NCAP rating, 100 years of car production in Oxford, Ferrari offers optional iPads

The driving licence standards for eyesight and epilepsy have been revised. Class 2 lorry and bus drivers will face a reduced visual acuity test for the "weaker eye" when each is examined. Epileptic car and motorcycle users who have only suffered night-time seizures will now be considered for a licence one year after their last attack, rather than three.

Renault's EV supermini, the Zoe, has achieved a five-star rating in the latest round of Euro NCAP crash tests. Individual category scores of 39/49 in child protection and 24/36 in pedestrian safety contributed to an 82 per cent overall result. The Zoe goes on sale later this spring, priced at £13,650.

Today marks a century of car production in Oxford, where the Mini plant now resides. Since the first Bullnose Morris Oxford was made in 1913, 11,655,000 cars have left factories in the area. A £750 million investment from the BMW Group will keep Mini production at Oxford for the third-generation car.

Alongside the new Octavia, Skoda introduced two new range additions at the Geneva motor show. The Roomster Noire has black wheels and two-tone leather seats, and the Fabia estate is now available in Monte Carlo trim. This apes the vRS with tinted headlights and sports suspension.

Further Apple entertainment options will be offered in upcoming Ferraris, indicating a strengthening of the pair's relationship. The FF can be ordered with iPad Minis for passengers, and the Siri Eyes Free system will also be fitted. It allows voice-activated media control.

Matt Bird

Geneva motor show: The top 10 gallery

Posted: 08 Mar 2013 02:37 AM PST

See the 10 most popular cars from the 83rd Geneva motor show

The Geneva motor show is always an important exhibition on the motoring calendar, and 2013 was no different. Take a look at the most popular debuts from this year's show.

Ferrari's Enzo replacement is called LaFerrari. Styled entirely in-house, it is powered by a development of the F12's 6.3-litre V12 with assistance from a HY-KERS hybrid system. Ferrari will build 499 LaFerraris at £1 million each, and it is rumoured that the allocation is nearly sold out.

The Rolls-Royce Wraith revives a name first seen in 1938. The coupé is lower and shorter than the Ghost on which it's based, and much more powerful with 624bhp. It will cost around £215,000 when it goes on sale this autumn.

Described as a street-legal racing car by Lamborghini, the Veneno is based on the Aventador. Just three will be built, and all are sold at a cost of €3 million each. New bodywork increases downforce, and a power increase pushes the top speed to 221mph.

The 991 generation of Porsche's 911 GT3 made its world debut at Geneva. It features a 468bhp version of the 3.8-litre engine found in the 911 Carrera S, and revs to 9000rpm. Four-wheel steer is also a standard feature.

After being shown as a concept two years ago, the Alfa Romeo 4C was unveiled in production form. The mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive sports car is powered by Alfa's 1750 TBI engine making 237bhp. A 4C Launch Edition was also seen at Geneva; its cost in Europe is €60,000.

Following a preview at the Paris show, McLaren unveiled the production P1 at Geneva. Claimed top speed is 218mph, and extensive windtunnel development creates a maximum 600kg of downforce. McLaren will build 375 P1s, each costing £866,000.

The Kia Provo is the Korean firm's attempt at a Mini rival. It is based on the Rio supermini and features a hybrid powertrain with a 201bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged engine and electric motor. The styling is inspired by small Italian cars of the 1950s and '60s.

Bentley showcased its revamped Flying Spur saloon at Geneva, adding the upgades introduced to the Continental GT recently. Power is up to 616bhp and weight is down by 50kg; the interior has been overhauled also. Expect prices from around £135,000.

Honda previewed the next Civic estate with the Civic Tourer concept at Geneva. It was predominantly a styling exercise as no figures such as load capacity were released. The estate will also have the same torsion beam rear suspension as the Civic hatch.

Touring Superleggera revealed a production version of its Disco Volante concept from last year at Geneva. Based on Alfa Romeo's 8C supercar, each Disco Volante will take six months and 4000 hours to build.

Matt Bird

Mercedes-Benz SLS ED first drive review

Posted: 08 Mar 2013 01:22 AM PST

Mercedes' Electric Drive supercar is capable and beautifully well resolved, but its huge weight gain and prohibitive price detract from the overall appeal This is the fastest electric production car in the world. As titles go, it's an impressive one – and the numbers back it up.The new SLS Electric Drive, now the most expensive production Mercedes-Benz at a price of £302,000 plus taxes in left-hand drive European markets where it will be sold for a limited period starting this week, is claimed to hit 62mph in 3.9sec, just 0.3sec slower than the SLS Black Series, before extending to a top speed limited to 155mph.What's really impressive is that it achieves these claims with a kerb weight of 2110kg, some 560kg more than its conventional combustion-engined gullwing sibling. That's thanks to its high-tech 60kWh lithium ion battery pack, supplied by Mercedes-Benz's High Performance Engine division in Brixworth, which weighs 548kg alone.

Mercedes-Benz CLA

Posted: 07 Mar 2013 02:50 PM PST

Pretty four-door saloon spices up the market, but the Mercedes CLA lacks the dynamic polish promised by its looks The Mercedes CLS showed the world that four doors could offer supercar levels of driveway appeal. The Mercedes CLA has been developed to replicate that success. Based on the Mercedes A-class, the CLA is designed to attract new buyers to the brand, and bosses say their number one target is to poach customers from BMW. The four-door coupé offers an appealing blend of sleek looks, reasonable levels of practicality and pokey engines.Mercedes says the CLA is the most aerodynamic car in its class, with a drag coefficient as low as 0.22Cd. To put that in perspective, a decrease of 0.04Cd offers the same fuel economy benefits as reducing the kerb weight by 100kg.Aiding that figure is a front grille with shutters that close at speed, aerodynamically optimised door mirrors, fins in the rear lights and vents in the wheel arch linings. An elegantly contoured coupé shape presumably helps, too.And it's that shape that defines the CLA. It sits alone in its segment, offers a visual appeal that few manufacturers can match and delivers on its promise of appearing like a mini CLS.Predictably that swooping shape has an impact on usability. Rear visibility is limited with a small rear window. It's not a car that will see regular adult passengers in the back: rear headroom is poor and narrow side windows make it feel claustrophobic and compromised rear legroom doesn't help its case.Better is its 470-litre boot – just five litres less than the C-class saloon – and the offer of a split-fold rear seat.The front environment impresses more. The dashboard is shared with its MFA platform brethren – the A-class and B-class – and provides the same premium look and feel. Equipment levels across the two trims, Sport and AMG Sport, also live up to the premium billing.That comprehensive roll-call of kit extends to safety equipment. Like the A-class, Collision Prevention Assist radar-based braking system is standard.Two engines make the launch line-up: the 1.6-litre, petrol-powered CLA180 and the 2.1-litre turbodiesel CLA220 CDI. A lower-power CLA200 CDI will join the range later, alongside a CLA250 and four-wheel drive CLA250 4Matic. Performance fans will be most interested in the CLA45 AMG sports saloon, also to follow later this year.From launch, the CLA220 CDI will be the big seller. Its torquey 2.1-litre engine is flexible, punchy and refined until the rev needle passes the 4000rpm mark. It records an adequate 8.2sec 0-62mph time and a 143mph top speed. Its torquey nature makes short work of overtaking, especially when mated to its smooth-shifting 7G-DGT seven-speed automatic gearbox with software derived from the SLS AMG supercar.The diesel offers competitive running costs, too. Mercedes claims it will manage 62.8mpg on the combined cycle with emissions rated at 117g/km.The CLA180 is powered by a 120bhp engine developed in partnership with Renault, and offers a slightly less than impressive 9.2sec 0-62mph time. Official economy figures rate the CLA180 at 50.4mpg and 126g/km of CO2.A hotter CLA250, to appear later this year, will be the fastest model until the AMG variant arrives. It records a 6.7sec 0-62mph time, but never really feels as quick. The engine lacks the rorty soundtrack oft-expected from the hotter models in attractive Mercedes model ranges. In the 250, the same seven-speed automatic feels markedly more ponderous than the diesel.This engine records 46.3mpg and emits 142g/km, with a small penalty for 4Matic models.The Mercedes CLA is available with the choice of two chassis setups: Comfort and Sport. Sport sees the car sit lower to the tune of 20mm at the front and 15mm at the rear. On the road there is a pronounced difference in ride quality.Don't be fooled by the Comfort tag applied to the softer setup: it is just on the sporting side of firm, but rides imperfect Tarmac far better than the full-on Sport configuration. That model crashed and rocked over bumps on the usually-smooth roads of our French test route, which doesn't bode well for performance in the UK.Either way, chassis control is generally good even if the natural progression to understeer occurs rather more quickly than expected – particularly in the CLA250 4Matic. But most drivers are unlikely to get that far because this isn't a drivers' car. The steering lacks the sporting intent illustrated by those coupé looks and it simply doesn't offer enough communication.For many potential buyers, the lack of dynamic polish won't matter much. The promise of the first car in this segment with Hollywood A-list looks will appeal far more. A likely starting price of around £25,000 should make it a hit with private buyers and company car drivers.Despite its faults, the Mercedes-Benz CLA is a car that offers visual appeal in spades, but is far more attainable than the CLS which inspired it. Love the looks, and you'll love the car.

John Surtees awarded the Segrave Trophy

Posted: 07 Mar 2013 09:21 AM PST

Legendary Formula 1 and motorbike world champion commended for his outstanding career

John Surtees has been awarded the Segrave Trophy by the Royal Automobile Club.

The Formula 1 and motorbike world champion was awarded the trophy for his "outstanding career in two- and four-wheeled motorsport, including seven motorcycle world championship titles, culminating in the unique achievement of being the only man to win a motorcycle world championship and the Formula 1 World Championship."

The recipient of the Segrave Trophy is selected by a panel of experts that includes leading figures from the automotive and aeronautical worlds. The Trophy was first awarded in 1930, in memory of Sir Henry Segrave, who was a leading fighter pilot, grand prix race winner and world speed record holder on land and water.

Surtees said: "I am honoured, as I approach the 50th anniversary of my Formula 1 World Championship title, to receive this prestigious trophy on behalf of not only myself but also the world of two- and four-wheeled motorsport."

Past winners of the Segrave Trophy include Malcolm Campbell, Stirling Moss, Donald Campbell, Bruce McLaren, Jackie Stewart, Roger Clark, Barry Sheene, Mike Hailwood, Richard Noble, Nigel Mansell, Colin McRae, Damon Hill and Lewis Hamilton.


Win the chance to break the 200mph barrier in a supercar

Posted: 07 Mar 2013 07:11 AM PST

Autocar is offering you the opportunity to exceed 200mph in a Lamborghini Aventador and a Noble M600

Autocar is offering you the opportunity to break the 200mph barrier in a Lamborghini Avendator and a Noble M600.

Best of the Best, the airport supercar competition company, will be announcing its 200th winner at the end of March.

To celebrate, we're giving you the chance to attend a special event where you'll take to the track with the aim of exceeding 200mph.

The winner of the Autocar competition will get to drive three supercars. First, you'll have a warm-up run in a Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4.

Next, you'll make your first proper attempt at 200mph in the 690bhp Lamborghini Aventador.

If you don't break 200mph that time, then fear not. You'll get a second attempt at 200mph in Noble's M600.

The event will take place on 21 March 2013 at Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire. 

Want to enter? Simply click here.

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