- Ford to introduce Mondeo 1.5-litre Ecoboost
- Should Jaguar make a 3-series rival, or something more radical? Discuss...
- Next BMW X6 to be bigger and more aggressive looking
- Video: Mini Paceman JCW vs BMW M135i
- Nissan Juke Nismo UK first drive review
- Ford's 'Aston Martin' grille: what do you think?
- 2013 Nissan Leaf first drive review
Posted: 12 Apr 2013 03:55 AM PDT
Ford is poised to introduced the fifth engine in the Ecoboost family. The 1.5-litre unit will premiere in the Chinese-market Mondeo at the Shanghai motor show
Although the final powertrain line-up in UK-specification Ford Mondeos is still to be confirmed, a spokesman said the 1.5-litre Ecoboost will be available from launch, alongside the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder Ecoboost unit and a 2.0-litre petrol hybrid.
Ford will introduce the 1.5-litre engine in the Chinese-market Mondeo this month, followed by the American-market Fusion and European Mondeos.
The new powerplant will be the fifth Ecoboost unit and will ramp Ford's production capacity for the engine series up to 1.6 million annually. The engine will initially be built at Ford's plant in Craiova, Romania, with more locations to be announced.
Like other Ecoboost engines, the 1.5 will feature turbocharging, direct fuel injection and variable valve timing. It will borrow the integrated exhaust manifold from the 1.0 and will be the first Ford engine to use a computer-controlled clutch on the belt-driven water pump, reducing warm-up time.
Power and torque figures are claimed to be similar to the 148bhp and 177lb ft developed by the 1.6-litre Ecoboost, but with improved fuel economy and CO2 emissions.
Ford says the engine is a strategic choice for global markets offering tax incentives for buyers who choose engines of 1.5 litres or less.
Posted: 12 Apr 2013 01:51 AM PDT
Unless Jaguar spends a quite phenomenal amount of money on its new 3-series rival, it will most likely fail. So why not make something less predictable instead?
BMW has been making, and therefore perfecting, its version of the ubiquitous 3-series for a very long time now. And in the meantime, Mercedes and Audi, and more recently Lexus, too, have all been honing their own versions of this iconic car at great expense, and have been fairly successful in the main.
The result is that all four of these major manufacturers now produce small saloons that are achingly good at what they do, but also deeply similar to one another in their design ethos. If and when they move the game on, they do so only in minute steps. The formula is now so well established that to ignore it would be unthinkable in the extreme.
But for Jaguar, it's different. Jaguar has made but one foray into the 3-series market in the last 20 years – the X-type – and that car was notable only for its mediocrity. So why does Jaguar now think that it can re-enter this heinously competitive market with an all-new car without suffering the same ignominy it did last time?
Two reasons. One, it has a lot more money to spend on the project now than it did then. Two, it no longer has to rely on creating a car from Ford underpinnings, which, let's face it, is what hampered the X-type from the word go last time round (the X-type was based unashamedly on the Mondeo, remember, and was doomed from the outset as a consequence).
Given the sheer quality of the opposition it will face and the rigid design formulae that any serious 3-series contender must adhere to, why is Jaguar even bothering to take this market on? To make a credible 3-series rival will cost them billions, literally, at the end of which there will be no guarantee of a return. And to make a BETTER car than the 3-series (or C-class or A4) would be virtually impossible – and even if they did, there would STILL be no guarantee of a return, because it will have cost them the earth to do so in the first place.
What Jaguar could – and possibly should – build instead of a conventional 3-series rival is a car that's smaller and more radical than a conventional three-box saloon; something that's desirable not for its size but for its style and quality of design. The four-wheeled equivalent of an iPhone, if you like, but with sufficient practicality to appeal to the more adventurous 3-series customer in the process.
I'm not talking about some kind of Aston Martin Cygnet alternative, but something more along the lines of Audi's brilliant but ahead-of-its-time A2, only a touch bigger, and with an interior that's a bit like a baby Bentley.
By doing so – effectively creating a new niche market in which to operate – Jaguar could express itself as a true design innovator and avoid having to spend billions trying merely to match what already exists in the form of the established opposition. And in the process it could, potentially, clean up in an area of the market that's crying out for smaller cars that are less predictable, but more desirable, than a plain old 3-series.
Or it could just toe the line and have yet another crack at building a 3-series rival, and spend zillions trying to produce a car that's already on sale in every BMW, Audi, Mercedes and Lexus dealer throughout the land.
If you were in charge of Jaguar and had just secured several billion pounds of investment for a new smaller car of the future, what would you be asking your designers to produce?
Posted: 11 Apr 2013 06:54 PM PDT
More spacious replacement model due on sale in late 2014; plug-in hybrid expected in 2015
The exact timing for the new SUV's UK introduction remains under wraps, but the new X6 is likely to make its world debut at next year's Moscow motor show, with sales starting during the third quarter of next year.
Based on the same platform as the next X5, the new X6 will follow the form of today's model but with even more aggressive detailing.
"We want to give our sporting models a more individual look, further separating them visually from the more practical models in our line-up," an insider revealed.
The new X6 will also be slightly longer to provide it with added rear legroom.
Engines will include in-line six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, plus V8 petrol units, with a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid set to arrive in 2015.
Posted: 11 Apr 2013 10:25 AM PDT
The £30k Mini Paceman JCW matches the BMW M135i on price. Which is best?
The Mini Paceman JCW packs a 215bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged engine and four-wheel drive. But at nearly £30,000, it is priced identically to the brilliant BMW M135i. The question is, can the Mini's go-kart handling justify its price tag?
Posted: 11 Apr 2013 10:21 AM PDT
Nissan's relaunched Nismo model shows dynamic promise, but it's no substitute for a proper hot hatchback on handling. A car about which there's a whole heap of pressing questions to answer: the Nissan Juke Nismo, just landed in the UK. Is this a 'proper' hot hatchback? Is it quick enough; serious enough? Is it really meant for petrolheads like you and me – to be taken as seriously as the more obvious ways to spend your £20k amusement budget?You won't have long to wait for some clarity, supplied as usual by a full Autocar road test. For now, we'll zoom in on just the one query, because it's the most important: here, on British roads, is it enough fun?It certainly could be judging by the ingredients. This car has been developed out of Nissan's technical centre at Cranfield, Bedfordshire. Its 197bhp 1.6-litre turbo motor is bang on the competitive mark for a fast supermini at the moment, kerbweight is only about 150kg north of that mark, and its price is between £1000 and £2000 more than you'll pay for an equivalent Fiesta ST or Peugeot 208 GTI.There's even a four-wheel drive option, married up (regrettably) to Nissan's CVT - although our test car was a six-speed manual front-driver.
Posted: 11 Apr 2013 09:21 AM PDT
Have your say on the new grille adorning Britain's best-selling car, the Ford Fiesta
But it's its appearance on the revised Ford Fiesta, Britain's best-selling car, that's really got people talking.
So handsome and contemporary did this generation of Fiesta look when it first arrived that it was one of those cars you struggled to see how they'd improve upon – or even bother trying to – for a facelift.
But rather than stick, Ford twisted for it and came up with something that's reignited interest in a car that hardly needed reigniting.
I'd say it's the one thing all of my non-car-loving friends have an opinion on at the moment. Some like it, but the majority seem to be against it, particularly those who've bought a pre-facelift Fiesta for themselves.
Me? My slight indifference at first has grown into me really rather liking it. You certainly know what it is that's approaching in your rear-view mirror. Change isn't always good or necessary, but Ford has won me over with the look of the revised Fiesta.
The Aston question is one I put to Ford of Britain's managing director, Mark Ovenden, this morning. "I love it," was his response. "In a previous life I was part of the team that developed the pre-facelift car and as such have a huge affection for it.
"I thought it'd be hard to improve it, but I think it has been made even better. The Fiesta always had good ride and handling, value and packaging, and now it looks more premium."
And with tongue in cheek, Ovenden noted the Aston comparisons. "But I'd call it a Fiesta grille…" he added.
So is the Fiesta the Aston Martin Cygnet you'd actually want to buy? Or a small-car masterpiece that was best left alone? Let me know what you think below.
Posted: 11 Apr 2013 07:22 AM PDT
The re-engineered Nissan Leaf boasts improved dynamics and an increased driving range between charges This is the new all-electric Nissan Leaf, which is now not only built at Nissan's Sunderland plant but has also been given a significant overhaul. Under the skin there are around 100 engineering changes and there's a new pricing structure that allows buyers to either buy the Leaf and battery outright, or buy the car and lease the battery.The are three trim levels, starting with Visia, followed by Acenta and Tekna. Including the government purchase grant for electric cars, the cheapest Leaf is the Visia bought with the battery on lease, which costs £15,990.There are five battery-lease deals, based on annual mileages of 7500, 9000, 10,500, 12,000 or 15,000 miles over 12, 24 or 36 months. Agree to keep your annual travel down to 7500 miles over 36 months and the battery lease costs £70 month. 10,500 miles costs £85 and 15,000 miles £109. The most expensive way of buying a new Leaf is to choose the range-topping Tekna with the battery pack, which will set you back £25,490 including the government grant of £5000.The Leaf Visia has a fairly stripped-out specification: it doesn't have sat-nav, a reversing camera, folding mirrors or auto wipers, but does have steel wheels and a four-speaker stereo. More seriously, the real-world range of the Visia is unlikely to match that of the more expensive sister cars because it does without the new pump-driven heating system, which engineers say is up to 70 per cent more efficient than the current Leaf's heater.Buy the mid-range Acenta and you'll get all that kit as well as alloys, a six-speaker stereo and niceties such as the Car Wings application that allows the car's heating and charging to be controlled remotely.Go up to the Tekna and you'll benefit from all-round vision cameras (including cameras in the front and under the wing mirrors), a Bose sound system (with a boot-mounted subwoofer), LED headlamps and a new 'Cold Pack' that delivers heated seats front and rear as well as a heated steering wheel. There's also the option of a 6.6kW charger, which could half the full charging time of eight hours with a typical 10A charger.More important are the engineering changes, which have changed the character and usability of the Leaf considerably. Starting at the rear, the battery charger has been relocated from the boot, reduced 30 per cent in size and mounted on top of the engine. The electric motor is said to have reduced inertia and is now around five percent more efficient.
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