Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

The rivals: Jaguar F-type v Porsche 911 v Porsche Boxster

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 02:49 AM PDT

Jaguar F-type v Porsche 911 v Porsche Boxster The Jaguar F-type slots neatly between the Porsche 911 and Porsche Boxster. We show you how

The Jaguar F-type sits in a gap in the market that few would have identified: the wafer-thin line between the Porsche Boxster and Porsche 911.

Here we take a look to see how the three variants of F-type compare to Stuttgart's finest sports cars.

Jaguar f-type vs Porsche 911 vs Porsche Boxster

2013 Subaru Forester 2.0D XC first drive review

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 02:35 AM PDT

Subaru Forester 2.0D XC first drive review The fourth generation of the rugged Subaru Forester SUV enters a competitive sector with revised styling, more interior space and improved efficiency Subaru has nailed its colours to the mast as an SUV specialist, and expects the Mk4 Subaru Forester to become its best seller. Sprouting from rough-road estate to mid-sized SUV with the previous model's 110mm leap in height, the Forester now consolidates that stance with a gentler, horizontal swelling upon a platform shared with the XV crossover.Less upright than before thanks to swooping new lines, the Mk4 is still recognisably a Forester, albeit one with generous nods to the comparatively sporty XV including black mesh grille and rear spoiler. External gains in length (35mm), wheelbase (25mm) and width (15mm) are well employed inside, making the cabin even more spacious, with ample legroom and headroom all-round.Door openings are larger and new sill seals keep your gamekeeper's tweeds mud-free. The boot opening is bigger and squarer, and its lip sits flush with the floor. Capacity rises 55 litres to 505 litres, but stowed back seats (folded via switches just inside the tailgate on most models) yield a few litres less than before at 1592, countered by increased under-floor storage.There's a choice of 2.0-litre boxer fours: an improved 148bhp petrol, all-new 237bhp turbocharged petrol (a trademark formula missing from the Mk3), and our car's largely unaltered 145bhp turbodiesel that's expected to win half of sales. The diesel employs a six-speed manual gearbox of long-yet-accurate throw, shared with the atmospheric petrol. An economy-enhancing 'Lineartronic' CVT is optional on the latter but compulsory on the turbo petrol.

Shanghai motor show preview

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 01:00 AM PDT

Shanghai motor show preview The Shanghai auto show 2013 will feature several important reveals, so read our guide to find out about all the latest planned unveils

The importance of the Shanghai motor show - which rotates with the Beijing equivalent each year - shows no sign of dimming. The car market may have slowed in recent years, but it continues to grow, especially in the premium sector.

As such,China is the good news story on car makers' agenda; strike it big in China, and the pain caused by the losses and hardships in Europe can be dimmed. Which is why the showcase motor shows take on such global significance, and why this year's Shanghai event promises to be so exciting.

Read on to find out what you should expect to appear at the show.

Acura crossover concept

Initial concept sketches indicate that Acura's new concept is likely to be a compact crossover. The new SUV is thought to fit in to Acura's range below the current RDX and MDX models.

Audi S3 saloon

The German manufacturer will reveal its new high-performance compact saloon, which is due to go on sale next year for around £33,000. It will feature the same 296bhp engine as the recently launched Audi S3.

BMW Concept X4

The Concept X4 is an X6-inspired crossover which will be offered with a range of petrol and diesel engines, likely including 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre turbocharged units.

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse

Capable of 254.04mph, the Grand Sport Vitesse is the fastest open-top car in the world. A new WRC (World Record Car) version, limited to eight units, will be unveiled at the Shanghai show.

Citroën Wild Rubis

A new luxury SUV, the Wild Rubis concept is reputed to use a modified version of the DS5 platform. Drivetrain options will include a petrol-electric hybrid and a conventional petrol engine.

Ford Mondeo EcoBoost

The next generation of Ford Mondeo will be available with a 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine. The new powertrain, which will be offered alongside two other options, will debut at Shanghai.

Honda MPV concept

Following the debut of the revised Odyssey at the recent New York motor show, Honda will reveal a new concept at the Shanghai motor show.

Icona Vulcano

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

Maserati Ghibli

Designed to help boost the manufacturer's sales to 50,000 a year by 2015, the new Ghibli revives a name last used in 1997. It's based on a shortened version of the new Quattroporte and will rival BMW's 5-series.

MG CS Concept SUV

A sharply styled concept, the MG CS Concept will debut at the Shanghai motor show. A compact crossover, the CS Concept is aimed at rivalling cars like the Nissan Juke.

Mitsubishi Concept G4 saloon

The Concept G4 is a global product, like the new Mirage, that's set to be sold worldwide. Designed to offer effiency and safety, the Concept G4 uses a new bodyshell and a 1.2-litre engine.

Nissan Friend-ME concept

A curiously titled concept, aimed at the rapidly growing Chinese market, will be unveiled in full by Nissan at the Shanghai motor show. The new Friend-ME concept seats four and likely features an advanced infotainment system.

Qoros 3 saloon, Cross Hybrid and estate

The Shanghai motor show will mark the debut of the Qoros brand in its home country. Its 3 saloon is a production model but the two concepts, which will also be on display, appear to be near-production models too.

Skoda Superb facelift

The updated Skoda Superb will make its world premiere at the Shanghai motor show, receiving updated front and rear styling to bring the flagship model in line with the brand's latest design language.

Click here for more Shanghai motor show 2013 news.

Toyota GT86 cabriolet images leaked

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 12:38 AM PDT

Toyota GT86 cabriolet images leaked Patent application shows canvas roof with the coupé's styling largely unchanged

The first images of the Toyota GT86 cabriolet have been leaked from a patent application for its roof design. The pictures come just a few weeks after the debut of the FT86 Open concept, previewing a GT86 cabriolet, at the Geneva motor show.

Whilst depicting a GT86-based car, the patent has been filed under Fuji Heavy Industries, the parent company of Subaru. This would imply a BRZ cabriolet is also being planned.

The images show the GT86 with its canvas roof raised, where it appears little different to the coupé in its styling. The angle at which the boot lid meets the roof is very similar to the coupé, and the cabrio retains the GT86's low-slung appearance. Moreover, by opting for a canvas roof, the GT86 cabriolet should have a smaller weight increase and retain more boot volume than if a folding metal hard top was used.

The powertrain of the GT86 cabriolet is expected to be identical to the coupé's. This means it will be powered by a 2.0-litre boxer engine with 197bhp and 151lb ft of torque. In the coupé, this is enough for a 0-60mph sprint time of 7.4sec and a 140mph top speed. However, the transition from coupé to cabriolet is predicted to add just under 100kg to the GT86's 1235kg kerb weight, so expect these figures to take a small hit for the open car.

A launch date for the GT86 cabriolet has not been suggested but, given it has already been spied testing undisguised, its production debut shouldn't be too far away.

Matt Bird

Jaguar F-type V6 S first drive review

Posted: 16 Apr 2013 04:01 PM PDT

Jaguar F-type V6 S first drive review The mid-spec Jaguar F-type offers multi-dimensional talent to underpin its sizeable price tag This is the new Jaguar F-type sports car, here in its mid-range V6 S flavour. It's the launch of the year, this, the sportiest Jaguar since the XJ220. And the F really is a sports car, they've told me, at some length. It ain't like any other Jaguar, they say. You'll notice "within 50 metres, not 50 kilometres," says Ian Hoban, the F-type's line manager.What makes it so different to a 'normal' Jaguar, then? The F-type, like the XK, is built from aluminium alloys and both are front-engined, rear-driven roadsters with two seats (excusing the XK's token rears). But the F-type's shell is 30 per cent stiffer, torsionally, than an XK's. It's shorter by a foot, wider by a thumb-width and lower by 120mm as its driver sits. Among its rivals Jaguar counts not the Mercedes-Benz SL, but the Porsche 911 cabriolet, Audi R8 Spyder and Aston Martin V8 Vantage roadster. Only, Jaguar says, the F is about 25 per cent cheaper than those. It has a graph to prove it. A graph on which Porsche's Boxster, mind you, is notable by its absence at a lower price still, but that's a question for another time. It looks like Jaguar has indeed identified a little gap between the Boxster and 911 where you wouldn't have believed one existed. No F-type variant epitomises that identity more than our test car: a mid-table, 3.0-litre supercharged F-type V6 S, which brings with it 375bhp and 339lb ft. Like all F-types, the V6 S's motor is longitudinally mounted under the front and mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. Not a dual-clutch unit, mind, but a traditional auto, albeit one with a torque converter that locks up so early that it spends all its time above crawl speeds directly linked to the rear wheels, slush free. What is unlike other F-types is that the V6 S gets a conventional mechanical limited slip differential. The base V6 does without a locking diff, while the Jaguar F-type V8 S has an electronic locking one. The 15kg weight penalty the V8's 'e-diff' brings would spoil what Jaguar claims is the V6 S's 50 per cent front, 50 per cent rear weight distribution. It also claims 0-60mph in 4.8sec and a top speed of 171mph for this version, which sounds plenty quick enough to me. The price is £67,500, which sounds plenty too.All in all, though, it's a reassuringly heady, old-school, burly mechanical set-up whose promise is further enhanced by double wishbones all round and hydraulic, rather than electric, assistance for the power steering, and to hell with the economy and emissions (which, for the record, are claimed at 31.0mpg combined and 213g/km for the V6 S). The last time Jaguar launched a car like this, though, its steering was of course unassisted. Think E-type, or perhaps Austin Healey, Triumph TR6 – maybe even TVR. That's the kind of vibe that the F-type emanates.Except, of course, that it combines all that with a touch of 21st century luxury. This is a well appointed and well trimmed car, with an interesting cabin and some pleasing materials and neat touches. I could live without the rising centre air vents (they only pop out when there's more serious cooling or heating to be done) if it meant I could have a higher quality feel to the gearshift paddles on the steering wheel, but generally, you have to admit, it's a pretty well finished cockpit. It's not that sensible, though; Jaguar even calls the F-type a 1+1 because of the way the cockpit's feel is divided into two, with the driver getting the more 'technical' surfaces. The truth is that if you wanted to carry anything more than a couple of squashy bags, you'd end up using the passenger space, too. This isn't a terribly practical car. It might be cheaper than a 911, but the Porsche has +2 rear seats, and their benefit isn't negligible.

Used car buying guide: Jaguar XJR (X350) (2003-2007)

Posted: 16 Apr 2013 03:50 PM PDT

Like the S-Type, the Jaguar XJ hid modern architecture beneath an old-fashioned exterior. The XJR is no different, but a great super-saloon nonetheless.

Driving one of the last generation Jaguar XJRs is like going to a party and discovering the fat bloke who was sat in the corner only a minute ago is now dancing everyone else off the floor. It doesn't seem possible that something so apparently portly, and unathletic can move the way it does. But appearances do not deceive…

Three things combine to give the XJR (X350) its unlikely speed and agility. First and perhaps most obviously, a 4.2-litre supercharged V8 giving 389bhp and, even more significantly, 400lb ft of torque made sure it would not be lacking in power. Next a revolutionary all aluminium body and monocoque dropped weight from the old (X308) XJR's reasonable 1837kg, to a snake-hipped 1665kg.

Then all that was needed was a sprinkle of Jaguar's customary chassis engineering excellence. The result: a staid, upright saloon that looks like it can't get out of its own way, that will hit 60mph in well under 6sec and handle better than many allegedly sporting car.

But it was not the success Jaguar hoped for. Customers didn't just want to go fast and have fun, they wanted to look the part too, and however replete with talent the XJR may have been at these first two disciplines, it was unable to fulfil the third and perhaps most important part of the contract.

Prices started to fall and have kept going ever since, to the point where the technical revolutionary can be yours for a lot less than a new Hyundai i10. But does that make it a good buy?

Clive Kirton of Peterborough-based Nene Jaguars has a refreshingly robust view of them. As someone who spends his life finding, fixing and moving these cars on, you might expect him to champion their cause. In fact he is entirely realistic: 'I don't feel that they're terribly unreliable but I'd not be being honest with you if I said they didn't have any issues…'

The good news is that the XJR (and its extremely scarce long-wheelbase Daimler Super V8 alter-ego) is no more tricky to look after or likely to go wrong than a standard XJ8. While the supercharged motor does put extra stresses through the system, it has all been designed to cope, so if you can afford the purchase price and, of course, the fuel, there's no reason to steer clear of the XJR on these grounds.

Deciding how much to pay is a tricky subject. Though you can find cheaper examples, Kirton is adamant that spending less than £7000 retail is a false economy. 'Cars below that level always need work, usually running into some thousands of pounds.' And regardless of where you jump onto the ladder, but particularly on the lower rungs, always have a couple of grand up your sleeve. 'So many people have a budget and spend it all on buying the car. But I see very few that don't need at least some work and if you've spent it all buying the car,  this can blow your budget to bits.'

Is this code for avoid at all costs? Absolutely not: Kirton says a properly maintained XJR is not only a fast and friendly device, but also perfectly sensible proposition. The secret, as ever, is finding a car that is right and then setting aside enough money each year to keep it that way.

What to look out for:

Kirton says a full service history is merely the first thing to ensure, not the be all and end all. Don't even consider a car without one.

The bearings of the rear lower wishbones break up and the only fix is the replace the entire assembly at the cost of about £500 per corner.

Parking sensors are known to fail and can be surprisingly pricey to replace – budget around £300.

To search for a used Jaguar XJR for sale on PistonHeads, click here

Used car buying guide: Lexus IS-F (2008-)

Posted: 16 Apr 2013 03:50 PM PDT

Quick, luxurious and reliable, the barnstorming Lexus IS-F saloon is great value second-hand, if you can stomach the running costs.

A three-and-a-half-star performance in Autocar's 2008 road test was commendable for a new entrant to the super-saloon market, and the verdict was delivered with constructive feedback suggesting the addition of a limited-slip differential and tackling of the slightly skittish ride would be good improvements to the Lexus IS-F.

As we'll see, both were to be addressed later, but what of that original IS-F as a used bet? Were it not for the comprehensive all-round talents of the BMW M3 and Mercedes C63 AMG, the Lexus would have capitalised more on its brilliant V8 engine and sweet chassis setup. Nonetheless, we ranked it above the Vauxhall VXR8 and Audi S6 – both praiseworthy scalps for a newbie.

At launch, the IS-F matched the C63 on price (the M3 was £1700 cheaper), and embarrassed Hamleys with standard toys including sat nav with Bluetooth, adaptive cruise, high-end stereo with six-disc changer, heated front seats, reversing camera and more. Tick the £800 sunroof box and the spec sheet was out of ideas.

Martin Ghost of Lexus Woodford in Essex acknowledges that depreciation is usually heavy for this breed of car, but says the IS-F is a particular bargain: "Pick an earlier example and you'll benefit from generous performance and equipment that's excellent value versus others in the sector".

Indeed, according to Ghost, a higher-mileage car that providing servicing schedules have been adhered to, should be a model of reliability: "I recently spotted a 70,000-mile IS-F, and would have happily snapped it up at the right price".

Choose a four-door M3 or C63 of similar vintage to a IS-F, and you'll spend about three and seven grand more respectively. Interestingly, you'll only find about as many E90 M3 saloons on the market as IS-Fs, which is testament to the Lexus's competitiveness as a performance four-door.

That diff we longed for was added in March 2010, claiming to shave 2sec off the car's lap time at Fuji (the circuit that put the 'F' in 'IS-F'), mostly by way of improved exit traction.

The accompanying price hike to £56k was also partially justified by an improved multimedia system with better sat nav, 10Gb music storage, digital radio, USB input and streaming Bluetooth, while white leather and split-spoke alloys became no-cost options. Although alternatives from Munich and Affalterbach were a massive five grand cheaper, a 2010 IS-F is already far less expensive today, not to mention winning economy that reaches 30mpg when cruising.

During our test of the LSD-shod car, we lamented that Lexus had failed to concurrently improve the IS-F's suspension. Six months later and we'd used up two of our wishes as the springs and shocks were revised, while the rear suspension geometry was tweaked, all to improve stability under load. Strips of LED running lights mark these cars out, along with interior tweaks.

There's little to worry about maintenance-wise, and warranty claims are a rarity. While servicing, consumables and road tax are pricey, at least they're known quantities, allowing you to plan accordingly.

What to look out for:

Uneven tyre wear isn't uncommon – Lexus Woodford charges £150 to realign the wheels, or £100 during a major service.

A space-saver is standard but costs around £180 to replace if missing.

Lexus history is recommended, but if official parts are used, a VAT-registered independent won't spoil the warranty. 10k-mile service intervals essential, though.

Keen drivers can easily spot a car with LSD – the steering wheel base sports blue leather.

To search for a used Lexus IS-F for sale on PistonHeads, click here

Used car buying guide: Range Rover Sport (2005-2013)

Posted: 16 Apr 2013 03:50 PM PDT

The Range Rover that took the fight to the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne needn't be as troublesome as you might expect

The Range Rover Sport is an odd beast. Most people not in the know would assume that it's a based on a Mk3 Range Rover, lowered and re-styled. Actually the Sport uses the Discovery 3 platform, which means a combined monocoque and ladder chassis for a mix of strength from the traditional frame and solidity from the monocoque.

The R-R Sport's wheelbase is 14cm shorter than the Disco's but it uses much the same running gear including the air-suspension that drops or raises the ride height by 10cm. Although it's unlikely that many Sports will be used off-road, Land Rover fitted the car with all its technology including a low-ratio transfer gearbox, hill descent control and the extremely canny Terrain Response control which gives a choice of five different settings for which the brain works out the best differential, ride height and engine configurations. It's very clever and very effective.

And quite complicated. And here we get to the nub of any discussion about used Land Rover products (and new ones, for that matter): will the thing be reliable? Land Rover has performed shockingly in customer satisfaction surveys appearing embarrassingly low down the JD Power index on many occasions. It's something Land-Rover is working full tilt to sort out.

The good news, according to independent Land Rover specialists James French, is that the Discovery 3 and R-R Sport marked a turning point for quality. 'Thanks to the unreliability of the old P38 Range Rovers and the Discovery 2 we've got a fantastic team of engineers and technicians working for us,' says James French, 'who had plenty of experience sorting out those cars. Our business was founded on those models needing plenty of attention.'

French isn't keen on 'blinged up' Sports not least because the catchment area for his Oxford business tends to be more 'pheasant shooting than drive-by shooting,' as French succinctly puts it. One clue for damage is from looking at the bolts that hold the bonnet and doors on. If the paint on them is cracked and broken it means that the panels have been off and there's usually only one reason for that.'

Diesel engines are also strong but will always need new EGR valves when they've gone past 40,000 miles. Surprisingly there are no horror stories about ECUs going phut. It can happen of course, but not with the worrying predictability of earlier Range Rover models.

The suspension is tough but bushes will wear out. 'Main dealers often steer clear of the job because it's heavy work,' explains French. 'A bit blacksmith engineering but we have a big lad who owns a heavy lump hammer who does the job for us.'

What to look out for:

Avoid heavily modified cars. The trade doesn't like them and parts such as 22in alloys cause problems.

Wheel alignment is almost always out. Have it sorted and gain as much as 50 per cent extra tyre life.

Listen for knocking suspension bushes over speed bumps. It's a job that main dealers like to avoid doing.

Look for signs of crash repairs. Paint missing on door fixing bolts and bonnets is a good sign that surgery has taken place.

To search for a used Range Rover Sport for sale on PistonHeads, click here

Used car buying guide: Rolls-Royce Phantom (2003-)

Posted: 16 Apr 2013 03:50 PM PDT

As majestic today as it was a decade ago, the Rolls-Royce Phantom still represents the very pinnacle of luxury motoring. Now it's on offer for less than £100,000.

Tick a few options boxes on a flagship Range Rover and you're tempting a £100,000 invoice. Point your readies at the used market, though, and you can attain similar elevation, a whole new level of luxe, and even more presence, for the same money buys a first-generation Rolls-Royce Phantom – a 6.1m extended wheelbase one at that.

Unlike Maybachs, Phantoms have only dipped below the £100k mark relatively recently, says Tom Hartley Jnr of independent specialist Tom Hartley in Derbyshire. "From late 2008 to early 2011, depreciation was limited due to shortages caused by overseas demand," he comments, "but greater supply and less appetite for conspicuous consumption mean Phantoms are now better value than ever."

Against preconceptions, most buyers of the standard 5834mm car drive themselves – Hartley estimates only 1 in 15 are chauffeur-driven – and the average age of buyers is dropping: "We've sold lots to customers under 35, largely thanks to pop culture exposure – alternatives like the Bentley Arnage lack that appeal."

Most buyers of the EWB (from 2005) are passengers, but Hartley reckons the extra 250mm of legroom is redundant if the shorter car is equipped with individual rear seats. Rear access is better in the EWB via rear suicide doors that open to 90deg rather than 80deg, but the larger footprint and extra 75kg increase body roll. Nearly £50,000 separated the two versions when new, but used prices have converged since, so there's value in the stretched car if you insist on it.

Rolls-Royce's Bespoke programme offers you-name-it customisation, but initials embroidered onto leather or etched into wood obviously limit a car's secondhand appeal. Both can be switched for fresh trim, but re-spraying the exterior to hide a party-frock paint job is suicide for residuals. For such a finish-sensitive car (Hartley says black and darker silvers and blues are the only safe bets), bright colours significantly soften the price, including special editions, while more sober issues like 2006's Phantom Black (black inside and out with wine cooler and rear DVD screens) add value.

Sought after options include 21in alloys (which became standard with 2009's light bumper-smoothing, grille-shortening facelift), sunroof, rear DVD screens and mesmerising starlight headlining that was prohibitively pricey when new. A rear bench was standard-fit and is Hartley's recommended configuration, while the cost option of two individual rear seats actually sheds........

What to look out for:

A high-pitched whistling from the manifold signals engine breather valve problems.

Test the retracting Spirit of Ecstasy. It can get stuck in early cars.

Give the air springs a work out via a dashboard button. Lopsidedness or unhealthy noises will be obvious.

A qualified workshop inspection is wise when buying from a non-specialist. Rybrook charges £400.

Chrome on the door handles and grille can deteriorate. Goodwill replacement outside of warranty is........

To search for a used Rolls-Royce Phantom for sale on PistonHeads, click here

Used car buying guide: Maserati Quattroporte (2004-2012)

Posted: 16 Apr 2013 03:50 PM PDT

One of the most beautiful saloons of all time has suffered huge depreciation, but make sure you budget for running costs also.

The cheap Maserati may be a tempting proposition, but models like the Bi-turbo have plummeted to such affordable levels for a reason. There'll be no shortage of excitement, but not all of good.

Ferrari sorted Maserati out though, when Maranello took full control in 1999 and brought their production excellence to bear, first on cars like the GT Coupe and then the Maserati Quattroporte. The fifth generation of which Maserati started making in 2004.

Although the Quattroporte needs regular attention – service intervals are every 6000 miles - very little bad news surrounds the cars in the trade. According to a JD Power audit carried out in 2009, Maserati is now achieving less than one reported fault per car produced, which is astonishing for cars of this complexity, especially given the company's former inconsistency.

Maserati marketed the Quattroporte as a sweetheart in town and stallion in the country, but a choppy ride and the electrically shifted DuoSelect semi-automatic gearbox lack absolute urban refinement, making the car hard work in fully automatic mode, regardless of trim level: base, Sport GT or Executive GT.

Flick to manual shift on faster country roads, and the Quattroporte's dry-sump Ferrari DNA is revealed. There few cars of any class that sound more inspiring than an a hard pressed Quattroporte, and certainly no four-door saloon. However the thrills aren't limited to aural delights. With the rear mounted transmission giving the chassis a 47:53 front-to-rear weight bias, the Quattroporte is one of the best handling saloons at any price.

But with no diesel option, you can forget Bavarian luxobarge comparisons. This is motoring con brio.

In 2007, Maserati relented to reviewers criticisms of the Duoselect gearbox and slid a ZF automatic onto the back of the V8, necessitating a redesign of the floorpan, and forcing the engineers to fit wet sump lubrication. "It made the drivetrain slightly more forgiving of the average driver", says Simon Harvey of specialist Greypauls, himself the owner of a much-enjoyed Ferrari 348, "but for outright driving pleasure, the DuoSelect is hard to beat, once you tune your inputs to its dynamic qualities."

Two years later came the Sport GTS version, which lifted power to 433bhp, the rev limit to 7200rpm and lowered the suspension. It also ditched the adjustable Skyhook dampers in favour of more sporting passive ones. Although the most expensive Quattroporte, and the least cosseting, the GTS is the most rewarding to drive. And that's in no small part down to the sports exhaust, which with it's active flaps open sounds truly wonderful.     

So if you can add another zero to that three grand budget, you'll be getting a car with all the excitement of the Biturbo hooligan but with far fewer headaches.  And that's a combination few could resist. Not just for taking the mother-in-law out, or glitzing up the school run, but for the joy of saying "what do I drive? Oh, I've got an old Maserati: the proper one with the Ferrari engine."

What to look out for:

Quattroportes need servicing every 6,000 miles so a full history is vital. Every 10k means one missed in every 20k miles. Ferrari engines don't like that.

The operation of the DuoSelect 'box can mean earlier clutch replacement: 40k miles is a suggested interval but depends on use. Check it!

The discs and calipers on a Quattroporte are slightly smaller than those fitted to lighter competition to they get worked hard. Check brake condition and only fit genuine replacements.

To search for a used Maserati Quattroporte for sale on PistonHeads, click here

Vauxhall-Opel radically updates powertrain technology

Posted: 16 Apr 2013 02:51 PM PDT

Vauxhall-Opel radically updates powertrain technology All-new petrol and diesel engines and new transmissions aim for class leadership

Vauxhall is to launch three all-new engine families between now and 2016 which will see a total of 13 individual powerplants being launched and a full 80 percent of the company's engine portfolio replaced. Sources at the maker admitted that the company's current engine range was far from class-leading, especially in diesel engines, which is a vital market in Europe.

General Motor's European arm has also completely re-designed the company's five- and six-speed manual gearboxes for much slicker operation and is to introduce a new eight-speed torque converter automatic 'box. An automated manual 'box is also on the way for the Adam city car and a conventional double-clutch transmission is also 'under development' by the company.

Two of the new engines will be launched this year, a 1.6-litre, four cylinder, turbocharged petrol and 1.6-litre turbocharged diesel. Despite the headline similarities, the two engines share only minor components. Later in the year a new 'small displacement' engine family will arrive, which is expected to be three-cylinder versions of these new petrol and diesel units.

The new, aluminium, 1.6 SIDI turbo-petrol engine has direct injection, a single-scroll turbo, twin balancer shafts and comes in two flavours.  The' Eco' version develops 168bhp at 4250rpm and, in boost mode, 206lb ft of torque from a diesel-like 1650rpm. The 'performance' version of the engine, which gets a slightly lower compression ratio and different pistons, develops 197bhp from 4700rpm (a specific output of 125bhp per litre) and 221lb ft of torque from just 1700rpm.

The eco version of the new 1.6-litre petrol engine is already available in the new 1700kg Vauxhall Cascada convertible, where it delivers 45mpg and 148g/km of CO2. However, the engine's economy is expected to be noticeably better - possibly around 139g/km - in the much lighter Astra. In any case, Vauxhall is claiming 10 percent lower CO2 and an increase in torque of around 30 percent over the current 1.6-litre turbo engine.

Vauxhall-Opel engineers freely admit that the company is well behind the class-best when it comes to diesel technology, having previously used engines developed with Isuzu and Fiat. However, GM Europe retained its Turin-based powertrain development centre when its partnership with Fiat ended in 2005 which was the centre for the diesel engine development. All told, 1000 GM engineers were globally involved in the diesel engine project, which aims to be 'class-leading' for power density and a 'benchmark' for refinement.

This new 1.6 CDTi unit has a single, variable geometry, water-cooled, turbo, an aluminium block and the option of twin balancer shafts. The injection system has a maximum pressure of 2000 bar and uses eight hole injectors. There are as many as a 10 individual fuel injections per cylinder cycle. The company is also claiming very low internal friction levels. Engineers say the engine will meet the super-stringent European EU6 emission regulations with the addition of Urea-injection or a Lean Nox Trap system, depending on the size of the vehicle.

The first version of this unit - which makes its debut in the Zafira Tourer - develops 134bhp between 3500-4000rpm and 236lb ft at 2000rpm. Officially, this new engine will drive the 1600kg Zafira Tourer from 0-62mph in 11.2sec but will also return 69mpg, or 104g/km of CO2.

Although these new engines and transmissions will be flowed into the wider Vauxhall range over the next year or so, the whole suite of petrol and diesel engines, the new manual and auto 'boxes should all be optional on the facelifted Insignia, which is expected this autumn.

Jaguar F-type video review

Posted: 11 Apr 2013 10:13 AM PDT

We put the highly anticipated Jaguar F-Type sports car through its paces

The new Jaguar F-Type is finally upon us, after what feels like decades of speculation. Steve Sutcliffe takes to the road – and to the track – to find out if its has really got what it takes to rival other high-performance sports cars.

Jaguar F-type V6 first drive review

Posted: 11 Apr 2013 08:26 AM PDT

Jaguar F-type V6 first drive review The least bombastic model in the Jaguar F-type range also has the sweetest handling balance This is the entry-level version of the much-anticipated new Jaguar F-type sports car, and at £58,500 it has raised more than a few eyebrows with its price. However, now that we've driven the F-type in all of its various guises and realised that it is more than just a little bit good, that asking price now makes if not perfect then reasonably decent sense.What Jaguar has produced, even in this basic model, is a not a car that sits beside the Porsche Boxster as an obvious rival. It sits above the mighty Porsche (but beneath the 911 in this instance), which is why its pricing strategy now just about adds up.What you get with the basic V6 model is not exactly a basic car. The supercharged V6 engine produces a rousing 336bhp at 6500rpm and 332lb ft between 3500-5000rpm, and the gearbox is the same eight-speed Quickshift from ZF that you get in both the more expensive F-types. All up, the largely aluminium F-type V6 weighs just 1597kg.You lose the diffs from the more expensive versions (mechanical in the F-type V6 S, electronically controlled in the V8 S), and the wheels and tyres shrink to mere 18s, but the V6 doesn't feel like it is missing much on the road.

Jaguar F-type V8 S first drive review

Posted: 11 Apr 2013 08:01 AM PDT

Jaguar F-type V8 S first drive review Sledgehammer performance makes the Jaguar F-type V8 S more like an old-school hotrod The fastest, most powerful, most expensive model within the new Jaguar F-type range, and although it costs a whopping £79,950 and looks all but identical to the lesser versions, it's a proper old-school hotrod and no mistake.Like all the other F-types, the V8 S sits on a rear-wheel-drive aluminium chassis that features all-round double wishbone suspension, plus the same basic cabin architecture from which to survey the world. It has the same electric hood as the lesser models (12sec up or down), the same driving position, the same decently sized boot (200 litres) and even the same multi-function steering wheel (available with either a flat bottom in Alcantara or rounded and in leather, which is nice).But in most respects, that's where the similarities between the V8 S F-type and the V6s end. For although there's the same eight-speed Quickshift gearbox through which to deploy the V8's thunderous extra power and torque (489bhp and 364lb ft), it feels like a completely different animal on the road.Partly this is because that's the way Jaguar wants it to feel, hence the reason there's an electronic diff (rather than a mechanical limited slip diff as in the Jaguar F-type V6 S) in order to manage the V8's extra flow of power.But at the same time there are also bigger brakes, 20in wheels, quad exhausts and a yet more sophisticated Dynamic Drive system that allows you to fine-tune the steering weight, throttle response, gearchange speeds and even the exhaust noise. All of which endow the V8 S with a very different personality on the move.

No comments:

Post a Comment