Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Autocar magazine 3 April preview

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 05:50 AM PDT

Autocar magazine 3 April preview Baby Land Rover revealed: JLR's plans for a new £18k small SUV; Jaguar unveils its fast future; Family 4x4 mega-test; Lotus Exige S full road test

There was little doubt about the identity of the star of the New York motor show – the Range Rover Sport turned the most heads, helped by a cameo appearance from James Bond actor Daniel Craig.

But the Sport represents only part of Jaguar Land Rover's ambitious future plans, and in this week's Autocar magazine, we bring you the news about more of the manufacturer's strategy to dramatically increase its sales during the rest of this decade.

Spearheading that drive is a brand new 'baby' Land Rover model that will make the manufacturer a big player in the growing compact SUV market. Our artists have gone to work to suggest how the small Landie could look, while inside we explain exactly why it is such a crucial model.

Our news team also reviews the best of the other new metal, hard facts and intriguing rumours to come out of the New York motor show.

The Lotus Exige S gets a thorough going-over by our fastidious road test team, while we get the chance to assess the Porsche Cayman on UK roads for the first time. We also offer our first impressions of the revamped Peugeot RCZ, Mini Paceman diesel and Mercedes CLA 250.

To celebrate 100 years of car making at Oxford, Hilton Holloway rides in what is believed to be the first-ever Morris-Oxford 10hp Light Car, built back in 1913. Bringing things bang up to date, we compare and contrast six of the best family SUVs on sale in the UK (and there's a shock new class leader).   

If your fancy has ever been tickled by the entertainingly chuckable Honda S2000, our used car buying guide offers a host of hints and tips for sniffing out an excellent used example. We also ask which represents the better buy: a raucous used BMW M5 Touring or a similarly priced new Hyundai i40 Tourer? You might be surprised by our verdict...

Our long-term test fleet updates include an in-depth report on our much-loved Renault Twizy and the latest news on our Range Rover Evoque, Mazda CX-5 and Fiat Panda

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

Britain moves closer to road privatisation

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 01:32 AM PDT

Britain moves closer to road privatisation Increasing private investment in Britain's roads could bring the advances the Highways Agency are struggling to implement

An overhaul of the Highways Agency is likely to be brought forward in an attempt to bring more private investment to Britain's road infrastructure. The move comes ten years after the M6 Toll, Britain's first pay-to-use road, was opened.

Giving the Highways Agency more financial freedom would address the current criticism that the British economy is suffering because of a poor road network. With funding obtained from the City, the Highways Agency could improve Britain's motorways.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has been encouraging a series of drastic measures for the Highways Agency as the latter faces budget cuts. These have included road privatisation and more toll roads, as contractors are turning away some Highways Agency work.

John Cridland, director general of the CBI, believes it's a case of "when not if" Britain's roads are privatised. He has suggested an entirely new regulator for Britain's motorways, replacing the Highways Agency. This would then offer franchises to the private sector to run sections of Britain's road network. Naturally there are some in the Department of Transport concerned about the ability of the private sector to run this new structure.

An announcement from the transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin is expected later in the year.

Matt Bird

Were you April fooled?

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 01:03 AM PDT

Were you April fooled? A good April fool is tricky to pull off, but is it time car makers stopped their japery?

I know that it's the day after April 1st, but I just wondered whether you were fed up with all the car company japery? 

Several days ago I had some embargoed press releases which made me feel a bit world-weary. I seem to remember that one was about an electric Allegro and China or something. Mind you BL managed to make just about every single day an April 1st with their less than amusing products throughout the '70s and '80s. 

However, one company always did April fool's brilliantly. BMW UK, employed an advertising agency that had one, WCRS, or Wright Collins Rutherford Scott.

Yes, for my sins, I used to work in the advertising industry adding yet another hated professional to my CV, which includes car salesman, merchant banker and journalist. Actually, when I was a car salesman it was BMW's peerless April 1st ads that put me on the frontline dealing with members of public who had been duped.

I took phone calls from customers who really did want to tick the option box for the left hand drive steering wheel from the glove box and the mini wiper fitted to the BMW roundel. I must say that letting them down gently was an art. You really didn't want to make them feel too silly. On the whole they took it in good spirit and no one got indignant and upset. It was a very British jape.

These days though isn't it all a bit tired? Shouldn't we have a few years off? Or perhaps it does show that we have a sense of humour in this country.

So do you like to laugh with your motors?

SMMT launches 'Minute or Two' pre-MOT inspection scheme

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 12:57 AM PDT

SMMT launches 'Minute or Two' pre-MOT inspection scheme Simple visual checks aim to save motorists time and money

The Society of Motor Traders and Manufacturers has launched a campaign encouraging drivers to inspect their cars before the annual MOT test. It follows research indicating 1.5 million cars fail the test every year because of faults that could be avoided through simple checks.

The 'Minute or Two' ten-point checklist is backed by Britain's 5545 franchised dealers, who will assist with the checks if required. It includes items such as a legible numberplate, tyre tread depths and pressures, lights and oil. The full list can be found at

The SMMT scheme comes just a month after new criteria was added to the MOT test, making basic checks even more crucial. Mike Baunton, SMMT interim chief executive, said: "The message that we are keen to get across to motorists is that an MOT fail could very easily be avoided if a simple visual check is carried out beforehand".

Sue Robinson, National Franchised Dealer Association Director, added, "The 'Minute Or Two' checks are easy and simple to perform and will save motorists time and aggravation when taking their vehicle for its annual MOT test".

Matt Bird

Tesla Motors to announce record profits

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 12:41 AM PDT

Tesla Motors to announce record profits Record sales of Tesla's Model S push share prices to value the firm at more than $5bn

Tesla Motors will announce its first quarterly profit, it has been reported. The news saw its share price rise yesterday, valuing the company at more than $5bn.

Last year the firm launched its second model, the Model S. In the first quarter of the year, it had delivered 4750 units to customers, around 250 ahead of its forecast. The success of the electric four-door saloon means Tesla expects to report a profit for the first time.

According to the FT, Wall Street analysts had predicted a loss of seven cents a share.

Tesla has also announced it will focus on more upscale variants of the Tesla Model S. It has dropped the entry-level version of the car, equipped with a 40kWh battery as it represented just four per cent of sales. 

The Wall Street Journal reports Tesla will honour sales of the 40kWh model by providing a 60kWh version with software limiting the battery's output to the lower level, although it will remove the restriction upon request.

Customers ordering a 60kWh Model S now will get the technology required for the cars to charge using the firm's Supercharger solar powered charging network. The feature was previously an option on 60kWh models, but standard on 85kWh versions.


Citroën C4 Picasso revealed

Posted: 01 Apr 2013 11:46 PM PDT

Citroen C4 Picasso revealed The new Citroën C4 Picasso will be lighter and more economical than the car it replaces

Citroën will bring a new engineering focus to mini-MPV models with lightweight body construction and more economical engines in an all-new Citroën C4 Picasso, on sale in September.

Based on the new PSA Group 'EMP2' platform that will also underpin the new Peugeot 308, the C4 Picasso features high-tech weight-saving measures like alloy body components and a composite rear floor to save up to 140kg in kerb weight model-for-model.

Included on the weight-saving menu is an aluminium bonnet and composite tailgate, which together contribute to 70kg of reductions.

"The result is a new C4 Picasso that weighs as much as a C3 Picasso,' says Citroën.

The new platform also brings a usefully wider, shorter footprint, which Citroën says lends the new C4 a "dynamic styling effect that is both forceful and intense".

Whatever the reality, the new platform recasts the C4's proportions with a 40mm shorter overall length and a 70mm shorter front overhang, yet wider tracks, 83mm bigger at the front and 31mm at the rear. Interior space is boosted by the 55mm longer wheelbase.

Practical in-service features in the interior include a fold-forward front passenger seat back that extends carrying space to 2.5m for objects like surf boards or lengthy DIY loads, while the second row of seats features fore/aft adjustment.

New or revised HDi diesel powertrains are aimed at cutting tailpipe emissions and fuel consumption.

At this early stage Citroën has only confirmed three diesels — an 89bhp 1.4-litre and two 1.6-litres, one with 114bhp and another with 148bhp.

The 89bhp e-HDI 90 is the most economical, promising 98g/km and 74mpg when equipped with the latest ETG6 version of Citroën's clutchless six-speed manual.

Mated to the same clutchless manual transmission, the larger capacity 1.6-litre e-HDI 115 emits 104g/km and records 70mpg.

Citroën is also joining the ranks of car-makers who use 'blue' to denote a green model.

The BlueHDi 150 features a 1.6-litre diesel with NOx emissions brought under control by a new SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) cat and promising CO2 emissions of 110g/km.

A conventional six-speed auto will also become an option, but possibly not at launch in the autumn.

Concept car styling for new Peugeot 308

Posted: 28 Mar 2013 07:34 AM PDT

Peugeot rethinks new 308 Styling inspired by Onyx concept and a new modular platform are set to transform Peugeot hatch

Peugeot's next 308 will be "very different from the current car", with a fresh shape that will pitch it more directly against the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.

Peugeot product boss Laurent Blanchet told Autocar that the new car would look more like a conventional hatchback than the current 308, which he described as being halfway between a saloon and a hatch.

Set to be unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show in September, the new model will sport a design influenced by the Onyx concept car, especially at the front. Peugeot design boss Gilles Vidal hinted that the 308 would use a front end derived from the Onyx, but inspired by the classic 504 Coupé, too.

It will also be the first Peugeot to use PSA's new EMP2 platform. Similar in concept to Volkswagen's MQB architecture, it's of a modular design and intended to be used in PSA's C and D-segment cars, which make up more than half of the group's production. It can employ either multi-link or torsion beam rear suspension.

Blanchet said the new platform would give the next 308 a planted, wheel-at-each-corner stance, with shorter overhangs for a more dynamic appearance. Lower engine mounting positions allow for a more aggressive, sharper front-end design with a lower bonnet than seen on the current Peugeot range. The lower stance should also improve the driving position.

A saving of around 70kg over the current car will reduce the entry-level model's weight to around 1300kg.

The name won't change, as part of Peugeot's new strategy to use '8' as the suffix digit in the badges of all of its cars for existing territories and '1' for models built specifically for developing markets.

Dan Stevens

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