Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

First drive review: Fiat Panda 4x4 TwinAir

Posted: 17 Oct 2012 07:27 AM PDT

New four-wheel drive Panda is unique in many ways, and brilliant in even more A pretty hard car to think of a rival to. Put simply, it's a new all-wheel drive version of our current favourite city car, the Panda. But the Panda 4x4 is unique in a number of ways, chiefly that it's the only car in its segment in offering four-wheel drive and it has an off-road pedigree that makes it more SUV than city car.Visually, the Panda 4x4 is differentiated from the Panda Lounge on which it is based by its chunky body cladding, special 15in alloys, a ride height raised by 47mm and an air intake raised by 700mm. But the changes run much deeper under the skin, and a quick glance at the spec sheet reveals it to be more Land Rover than Panda.The permanent all-wheel drive transmission is called 'Torque on Demand'; this fully automatic system features two differentials and an electronically controlled coupling. It sends traction to the front wheels, rear wheels or a combination of both depending on road and grip conditions.The Panda 4x4 also gets an electronic-locking differential to work with the electronic stability control system below 31mph, proper mud and snow tyres and a shorter first gear for the manual gearbox on the TwinAir version. A new six-speed manual also makes its debut on the Panda 4x4.To best illustrate that the Panda 4x4 is a car with more in common with small crossover SUVs than city cars it's worth looking at its key off-road stats: the approach, breakover and departure angles are all greater than those on the Mini Countryman and even the Nissan Qashqai.

Latest Lexus IS spied testing

Posted: 17 Oct 2012 01:00 AM PDT

The third-generation 3-series rival has been out on American streets for final development

The third-generation Lexus IS has been testing on the streets of America for the first time. Our spy shots show a heavily camouflaged prototype of what appears to be an almost production ready car.

The Japanese BMW 3-series rival will likely share the new company face and L-finesse design language, recently introduced by the new GS and LS models.

The Lexus LF-CC concept shown at last months Paris motor show is the best clue to how the next IS will look. The concept's boot is raised above the shoulder line similar to the previous BMW 6-series; a design feature the disguised IS seems to share.

A production IS will likely be unveilednext spring. An all-new 2.5-litre four-cylinder hybrid powertrain is rumoured to feature in the new IS alongside a six-cylinder petrol and four-cylinder diesel common to the current range.

Vauxhall Cascada: full details revealed

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 11:00 PM PDT

New four-seat Cascada drop-top goes on sale next March; bigger and plusher than previous Astra TwinTop; priced from £25k

Vauxhall's new car blitz has continued with the unveiling of its fourth all-new model in new market segments in less than 12 months. The Vauxhall Cascada is a full-size four-seat convertible that's bigger than an Audi A5 cabriolet.

The new Cascada will reach UK showrooms in March 2013, where it will join the other new Vauxhall nameplates - Adam, Ampera and Mokka - in the firm's expanded line-up.

Despite being almost 71mm longer than an A5 cabriolet at 4626mm in length, the Cascada is set to significantly undercut the £29,455 A5 cabriolet by costing from around an estimated £25,000 in its entry-level form.

Indeed, the Cascada will be the cheapest full-size convertible in the marketplace; it's a class bigger than the Peugeot 308 CC, Volkswagen Eos and VW Golf cabriolet, and slightly larger still and set to be significantly less expensive than the Volvo C70.

The Cascada will become the flagship model of Vauxhall's expanding range, offering a premium interior with even higher quality materials than Vauxhall's current range-topper, the Insignia. 

The two-door departs from Vauxhall's previous convertible offering, the Astra TwinTop, by ditching a retractable hard-top roof in favour of a soft-top. The fabric top can be opened and closed in 17secs at speeds of up to 30mph. It is controlled using an interior button or a key fob.

Underpinning the Cascada is a platform that incorporates elements from both the Astra and Insignia. The front suspension is Vauxhall's torque steer-reducing HiPer strut system, first seen on the Insignia VXR. The rear suspension is of compound crank beam axle design.

The Cascada can be equipped with Vauxhall's FlexRide adaptive chassis technology, which features three selectable driving modes.

Vauxhall says the Cascada is 43 per cent stiffer torsionally and 10 per cent more resistant to bending forces than the smaller Astra TwinTop. NVH levels are also said to have been improved significantly thanks to extra underbody reinforcements.

As well as being 221mm longer than the Astra TwinTop, the wheelbase is also 71mm longer at 2700mm. It is 1840mm wide, and the front track is 56mm wider and the rear 70mm wider than Vauxhall's previous convertible. Wheels of between 18 and 20inches in size can be fitted. The front brake discs are 326mm in diameter, the rear's 325mm.

The engine range includes the first of the engines to come from Vauxhall's MGE (Mid-Size Gasoline Engine) range. The turbocharged 1.6 SIDI ECOTEC petrol unit gets 168bhp at 1650-3200rpm and 206lb ft of torque in its initial application, but Autocar understands a higher-powered version of the engine with 197bhp and a lower-powered version with around 148bhp will be added to the Cascada line-up in due course. This engine will initially only be offered with a new six-speed auto' gearbox.

Other launch engines include a base turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol with 138bhp and 162lb ft, and a 163bhp, 280lb ft 2.0-litre CDTi diesel. Vauxhall's new 192bhp, 295lb ft 2.0-litre BiTurbo diesel engine is also tipped to be added to the line-up.

Styling inspiration comes from "luxury touring cars of a bygone age". Familiar Vauxhall design features include 'blades' on the doors, the wing-shaped rear lights and the signature chrome grille. The bonnet features a distinctive power dome, and a new headlight design features LED daytime running lights.

The fabric roof can be chosen in one of three colours; 10 exterior colour choices are offered.

The Cascada's basic interior design is recognisable from the Insignia, but it features higher quality materials and more premium options, including Nappa-leather trimmed seats. Vauxhall claims the cabin is spacious enough for four adults.The boot capacity is 280 litres with the roof down and 350 litres with it up. The split rear seats can be folded 50:50 to increase loading capacity.

In the event of a roll-over accident, spring-loaded bars automatically spring up from behind the rear seats.

Dacia Sandero to cost £5995

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 04:01 PM PDT

New supermini will be the cheapest car on sale in the UK; Clio 4 engines in January launch line-up

The £5995 Dacia Sandero will be Britain's cheapest car when it is launched in the UK in January. The cut-price Ford Fiesta rival will join the £8995 Duster SUV in Dacia's UK launch line-up.

Despite the low pricing, the Sandero will not skimp on technology or equipment. Engines, for example, come from the new Renault Clio range and include the latest 0.9-litre three-cylinder petrol.

The base £5995 Sandero Access model is only available with a normally aspirated 74bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine. Kit includes 15-inch steel wheels and black bumpers.

An extra £800 upgrades to Ambiance trim. This adds, among other features, body-coloured bumpers, remote central locking, electric front windows and Bluetooth connectivity.

The Clio 4's 89bhp 0.9-litre petrol engine is also available with Ambiance trim, as is the latest 89bhp 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine, costing £7595 and £8595 respectively.

Top-of-the range Laureate trim costs £1100 more than Ambiance and can be had with all three engine options. Extra kit includes air-con, cruise control and front fog lights.

Metallic paint is a £475 option on Ambiance and Laureate models, along with 15-inch alloy wheels for an extra £425. Rear parking sensors (£175), sat-nav (£175), leather seats (£600) and a front centre armrest (£90) are available on Laureate models.

A top-of-the-range Sandero Laureate with a 1.5 dCi engine and every option ticked costs £11,630, compared to £11,795 for an entry-level 69bhp 1.4 diesel Fiesta in Studio trim.

First drive review: McLaren MP4-12C Spider

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 04:01 PM PDT

No wonder McLaren expects 80 per cent of customers to choose the MP4-12C Spider. If you're in the market for a 12C, you'd be mad not to go for the Spider The MP4-12C Spider, McLaren's unashamed attempt to provide an alternative to the Ferrari 458 Spider, and also the Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder and Porsche 911 Turbo convertible. It was planned in to the engineering process from the word go by McLaren, and as such suffers zero compromise when it comes to torsional rigidity or overall stiffness compared with the coupé MP4-12C. And it costs £195,500, undercutting the Ferrari 458 Spider by a small and not especially significant £3436.Just like the Ferrari, the 12C Spider's roof is a folding hard-top that disappears gracefully into the rear bodywork at the press of a button. It takes 17sec to go from fully closed to fully open, and the roof can be raised or lowered at speeds of up to 25mph. All-up, the Spider weighs mere 40kg more than the coupé, with an overall kerb weight of just 1474kg, a class best according to McLaren.Also new for the Spider is an upgraded version of McLaren's 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, featuring more power (up from 592bhp to 616bhp), fractionally better economy (24.2mpg v 24.1mpg on the combined cycle) and exactly the same CO2 emissions as before (279g/km). Peak power arrives 500rpm higher than before, adding to the sense of acceleration at the top end, claims McLaren, while removing nothing from the flow of torque, which peaks as before at 442lb ft.Key modifications to the software of the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox have further improved the speed and quality of the gear changes, says McLaren. In its most aggressive settings the shifts are faster than ever, while in auto mode they are smoother and more intuitive than before. Not that there was a whole lot wrong with the way the MP4-12C performed or shifted gear previously.Elsewhere, the Spider 12C is identical to the coupé in its engineering. Same steering, same suspension set-up, same brakes, same everything. And in case you were wondering, all of the various engine, gearbox and ECU upgrades applied here will become available on the coupé for the 2013 model year. Owners of earlier models will also be able to get the upgrades installed for free by taking their cars to one of McLaren's 38 worldwide dealers.

Skoda Fabia Super 2000 Rally Car review

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 09:48 AM PDT

Sutters takes on Goodwood in a Fabia S2000

Steve Sutcliffe takes on Goodwood's unbelievably tight and twisty rally track in this 260bhp, 4WD Skoda Fabia Super 2000 rally car. Watch here as Steve threads his way through the course, completely lost for words...

New Renault Clio Cup racer for 2013

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 09:41 AM PDT

Renault has announced the fourth-generation Clio Cup race car will be available next year

Renault has announced the introduction of the fourth-generation Renault Clio Cup racer. The new car will first compete in the 2013 Clio EuroCup, with British racers sticking with the third-generation Clio for one more season. Our domestic Clio Cup series will see the new car introduced for the 2014 season.

Testing began in August, Renaultsport having so far covered 3500km at a variety of French circuits. Renault claims the car produces 220hp and 199lb-ft of torque and laps most circuits one second quicker than its predecessor.

Like its road-going counterpart, the Clio Renaultsport 200 Turbo, the new Cup uses a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, in place of the earlier 2.0-litre naturally aspirated unit. The gearbox remains a six-speed sequential but with shift paddles now available as an option.

Other additions include a new design of rear spoiler – producing 40kg of downforce at 125mph – and a roof scoop, alongside 17in Speedline Corse alloys and 320mm AP racing brakes. One-way adjustable dampers, a full roll cage and race seat also feature.

Over 700 third-generation Clio Cup cars were sold, forming a sizeable percentage of Renaultsport's output, and it is expected most teams will choose to upgrade to the new model. The new Clio Cup is set to cost 37,800 euros plus VAT, with deliveries to the UK commencing in September 2013.

Josh Woodcock


Facelifted Lamborghini Gallardo shown

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 09:27 AM PDT

Weeks after a revised coupé was shown, Lamborghini has released the first pictures of the facelifted Gallardo Spyder

The refreshed Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder has been announced. The raft of cosmetic changes mirror those made to the Gallardo LP 560-4 coupé at the Paris motor show last month.

The Gallardo Spyder has a more angular, aggressive look by creating a number of sharp, triangular shapes in the front bumper. The design is echoed more overtly at the rear. Other changes include large air intakes ahead of the front wheels and a new design of standard-fit alloys. The 19-inch 'Apollo' wheels are offered in black and polished metal finishes.

Like the Coupé, the Spyder can be ordered with a Style Package, as seen in our photos. This sees the front and rear grilles, underside of the front spoiler and parts of the rear trim painted in gloss black. Further personalisation will be available through the 'Ad Personam' programme.

The updated Gallardo Spyder will arrive in UK showrooms from late November, shortly after the Coupé. 

Josh Woodcock

New Nissan concept for Sao Paulo

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 09:20 AM PDT

Nissan has published pictures of a concept built for the Sao Paulo motor show

Nissan has released teaser images of a new concept car that the firm is going to debut at the Sao Paulo International Motor Show later this month.

Nissan has created the car especially for the Brazilian motor show, which runs from 24 October to the 4 November. The pictures appear to depict a two-door coupé similar in style to Honda's CR-Z, although Nissan is yet to release any technical or design specifications.

Nissan has said that the "high-character concept will introduce a unique new genre to the automotive world".

Dan Cogger

Nissan Juke R ready for delivery; Nismo edition on the way

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 03:49 AM PDT

Nissan's first road-ready Juke R is ready for delivery with the Juke NISMO being prepared for 2013

Nissan has announced that the first production Juke R is ready for delivery. The concept was first seen in Dubai in January 2012 and has been in development since.

Initially a one-off technical exercise, Nissan received three genuine expressions of interest for versions of the car, which is built to order in a limited edition run. Each car will be tailored to customer requirements at a starting price of £400,000.

The Juke R borrows heavily from the Nissan GT-R, using its 545bhp 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 and suspension system. Nissan has also fitted an FIA-specification roll-cage to the Juke R in light of its 3.0-second 0-60mph time and top speed of 170mph.

Preparation for the Juke Nismo is underway for its launch in early 2013. The Juke will be the first Nissan to carry the Nissan Motorsport badge in the European range and will be powered by a 197bhp version of the company's 1.6-litre DIG-T petrol engine. No prices or features are yet confirmed, but it is said to be "superbly equipped".

Dan Cogger

Ford C-Max gets 1.0-litre engine and new Titanium X trim

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 02:23 AM PDT

Both C-Max and Grand C-Max models will be available with Ford's award winning 1.0-litre engine and range-topping Titanium X trim

Two versions of Ford's 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine will be available in both the C-Max and Grand C-Max models later this month. Customers will be able to specify either the 99bhp or 123bhp engine with the C-Max returning 55.4mpg and 117g/km CO2 and the Grand C-Max achieving 54.3mpg and 119g/km CO2.

The engine, which received the 2012 International Engine of the Year award, already makes up 25 per cent of Ford's new car orders. The 1.0 EcoBoost C-Max and Grand C-Max models will cost from £17,695 and £19,795 respectively.

To coincide with the new engine, Ford is also introducing the Titanium X model trim to the C-Max models with many extras, such as part-leather seats, new style 17-inch alloy wheels and a panoramic sunroof as standard. Prices for the Titanium X range start from £22,195 for the C-Max and £23,595 for the Grand C-Max.

Dan Cogger

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