Friday, October 26, 2012

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Sports car winter tyre test

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 06:48 AM PDT

Steve Sutcliffe tests winter tyres on a Porsche 911

You can now get winter tyres in 20- and 21-inch sizes, but is it worth fitting them to the sports cars that predominantly use this size of tyre? Steve Sutcliffe finds out how effective winter tyres can be, even on a Porsche 911 in the snow.

'Pure and timeless' theme for next S-class

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 04:33 AM PDT

The design themes previewed on Mercedes' 'Aesthetics S' sculpture in Paris will be translated into a concept car

A new concept car that will preview the next-generation Mercedes S-class will be unveiled early next year, design chief Gorden Wagener has confirmed. 

Mercedes revealed a virtual 'Aesthetics S' sculpture at the recent Paris show that first previewed the new S-class, and its themes are expected to be translated into a physical concept car.

Wagener said the design of the new S-class would be "pure and timeless", combining traditional and new design ethics.

Meanwhile, Mercedes is cutting production of the current S-class in the wake of falling sales as it prepares for the launch of the all-new model later next year.

BMW 5-series to receive gentle reworking

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 04:23 AM PDT

Our spy shots of the facelifted BMW 5-series show the car will receive new bumpers and lights

BMW is already testing a mildly reworked version of its Mercedes E-class-rivalling 5-series, a model likely to make its public debut at the Frankfurt motor show next September.

While development of the new car still has the good part of a year to run, changes being made to the 5-series appear less significant than those adopted by the new E-class. 

Externally, the bumpers are more heavily structured and the lamp graphics revised, but on the evidence of the prototype caught here testing in Munich, the existing bodywork is largely untouched. 

Inside, BMW plans to provide the 5-series with the latest version of its iDrive multimedia system and a configurable instrument display already recently introduced on the facelifted 7-series. 

On the engine front, the twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol engine in the 535i is set to gain an added 14bhp, lifting its reserves to 316bhp in the new 540i model. 

The twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine in the 550i is also expected to get added firepower. Munich insiders have already confirmed a 43bhp increase to 444bhp.

Aston Martin Cygnet V12 possible

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 04:14 AM PDT

Aston's V12 could be installed in the Cygnet city car to create a Nissan Juke R-rival

The Aston Martin Cygnet city car could be sold with the firm's V12 engine if there is sufficient customer demand.

Sources suggest that a feasibility study has already been completed, and that the 6.0-litre V12 from its range-topping cars will fit the tiny city car's engine bay without extensive modifications.

Other upgrades to allow the Toyota IQ-based Cygnet to handle the weight, horsepower and torque of the powertrain are said to be "significant but not insurmountable". It is likely, however, that the V12 would have to be detuned significantly from the 510bhp it produces in the new DB9 and Vantage models.

The Cygnet is currently sold in one state of tune, powered by Toyota's 97bhp 1.3-litre petrol unit.

If Aston gives the go-ahead for a production Cygnet V12 it is likely to be sold as a project car much like the Nissan Juke R has been. The Juke R, which fits the Nissan GT-R's running gear into a Juke supermini body, sells for around £400,000. It was put into limited production, mainly for the Middle East market, following a positive reaction to the concept car's creation.

Alfa Romeo 4C here next year

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 03:34 AM PDT

Geneva motor show reveal for the 300bhp, 1000kg hardcore 4C sports car aimed at true Alfistas

The Alfa Romeo 4C will be launched at the Geneva motor show next March before going on sale later in the year, Autocar has learned. Sources have confirmed that the new sports car is at an advanced stage of development and is set to stay true to the concept first seen at last year's Geneva show.

The 4C will be powered by a new aluminium version of Alfa's 1742cc turbocharged petrol engine, producing around 300bhp. A claimed kerb weight of less than 1000kg will give the mid-engined 4C one of the best power-to-weight ratios in its class — one of the key targets of the project.

The 4C sends power to the rear wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which sources have confirmed will be the only transmission on offer in the new sports car.

Styling and proportions are also expected to keep faith with the acclaimed 2011 concept. Although it is intended to be a global car, the 4C will be built only in Italy. Production will not be capped at a certain number; rather, it will be "built to demand", sources claim. It is a "hardcore Alfa designed to appeal to the true Alfistas", our sources added.

Doubts had been cast over the 4C's launch date because Alfa's own relaunch in America has been pushed back. There is also continued uncertainty about the Fiat Group's model plans ahead of an announcement on 30 October.

The 4C, however, is very much at the forefront of Alfa's model plans, and will be the headline car at the brand's US relaunch in 2013-2014. An open-top version of the 4C will follow in 2014-2015, sources have confirmed.

All-new Range Rover Sport for 2013

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 12:34 AM PDT

Dynamic look for all-new Sport, due next year; Lightweight aluminium platform sheds 300kg; Hot V8s, diesel V6 and diesel-electric hybrid models; Prices set to rise 10 per cent

Land Rover is putting the final touches to the new Range Rover Sport ahead of a showroom debut a year from now. It is thought that the Range Rover Sport will make its public debut in the spring at the Geneva or New York show.

The new model is based on the same riveted and bonded aluminium monocoque as the new Range Rover and is expected to follow it closely in terms of specification.

Today's car is priced from just under £50,000, but with the switch to a much more sophisticated aluminium platform, all-new suspension and improved features, insiders expect a price hike of at least 10 per cent for the new model.

The new Sport is expected to weigh the same as its sister model, which means that the entry-level V6 diesel variant should hit 2160kg — 300kg lighter than the current entry-level model. This in turn will ensure that the new Range Rover Sport is a markedly more dynamic proposition than the current model.  

The range will kick off with the new-generation 255bhp, 442lb ft turbocharged V6 diesel engine. The familiar V8 supercharged motor is good for 504bhp and 461lb ft in its standard application, but with Porsche having just unveiled the 542bhp Cayenne Turbo S, Land Rover bosses may see fit to launch a new extreme-performance version.

The new Sport is also expected to get the option of the 335bhp twin-turbo V8 diesel engine. With 516lb ft on tap from just 1750rpm, this engine could outrun the petrol V8 for through-the-gears acceleration.

Also new to the Range Rover Sport range will be a V6 diesel-electric hybrid model, which has a claimed combined 333bhp, a 0-62mph time of 7.4sec and CO2 emissions of just 169g/km. It's thought that the Sport hybrid will be on sale from launch. 

Judging by the spy shots on which our artist's impression is based, the Sport uses the same under-structure and even the same doors as the new Range Rover. Although the windscreen and windscreen angle are also common to the two cars, Land Rover designers have used a number of visual tricks and relatively inexpensive changes to give the Sport a much more dynamic appearance.

The bonnet tapers more sharply to its leading edge and the roofline slopes more aggressively towards the tailgate. The rear overhang is shorter than that of the new Range Rover and its tailgate glass is raked more steeply. 

Another trick to give the Sport a more dramatic appearance is the use of deeper door skins, which make the side windows shallower and, along with the big sill extensions, give the car deeper body sides. At the front, the headlights will be more aggressive than on the Range Rover and the bumpers will be blockier. 

The interior has more of a slope to its dashboard and centre console than in the Range Rover, but almost all of the switchgear is shared. The Sport also gets an upright automatic shift lever, something that will be shared with the Jaguar F-type. 

The interior will be aiming for Range Rover levels of luxury but will feature a more sporting treatment. One source said that Bentley-style quilted leather upholstery will be offered as a trim option. 

The Range Rover legend grows

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 12:09 AM PDT

The new Range Rover comes as the British car industry goes from strength to strength

When Land Rover launched the Range Rover, 42 years ago, and changed SUVs forever, the car was received with such rapture that its debut because a huge nationwide event. The excitement, and the unprecedented buyer demand, went on for well over a year. 

We believe the hoop-la is about to be repeated, for the very good reason that the new Range Rover, which promised so much when its radical, weight-saving specification was revealed a couple of months ago, has proved in our first road testing to be just as much of a rule-breaker as the hallowed original.

For the first time, our testers say, the Range Rover loses weight, and its handling and its all-round efficiency show big benefits as a result. For the first time, the words "impressive fuel consumption" can be associated with a Range Rover, a machine which not so long ago was tantamount to OPEC's best friend.

Best of all is the mighty benefit the Range Rover's driving success brings to this country and its car industry. At a critical time for the economy, our luxury car creators display again their pre-eminence. Everyone knows we can design great cars; this new model shows how brilliantly we can test, develop and build them to please customers.

Insiders say UK dealers already have half a year's stock allocation in firm orders, and they're probably understating the case. In Britain, we've had plenty of reasons to feel proud this year: here's another to match the best.

First drive review: 2013 Range Rover 3.0 TDV6 Autobiography

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 04:30 PM PDT

The TDV6 does almost everything you could ask of it, does it for longer, and does it for less The last time Land Rover dropped a six-cylinder diesel engine into the Range Rover looking for better efficiency and a lower entry price, it was owned by BMW and the short-lived result was less than perfect. Even if Ford's subsequent takeover (and the development of the cheaper Sport) hadn't killed it, the paucity of performance - 60mph took a life-sapping 12.7 seconds - meant that the TDV6 was never likely to live for long as a luxury SUV offering.That was not the engine's fault. BMW's 3.0-litre unit was an award-winning, oil-burning marvel in the right setting. It was simply overwhelmed by the heavyweight burden at hand. Now, with that load lightened by aluminum and significantly more power available from six cylinders, JLR has revived the bright idea in its comely new car.2013 Range Rover 4.4 TDV8 Autobiography review2013 Range Rover 5.0 V8 Supercharged Autobiography reviewIn 2012, a 3.0-litre V6 (already used in other guises across the road at Jaguar) delivers 255bhp and 442lb ft of torque from 2000rpm. Had Land Rover not ushered a single solitary gram from the latest Range Rover's ample body it would still likely prove adequate, but the TDV6 version is its pound-for-pound champion - when it mentions a 420kg weight-saving, it's this model it is referencing.With a comparatively spartan 2160kg to shift, the car inevitably boasts other compelling figures. It is capable of a very un-Range-Rover-like combined figure of 37.7mpg and its CO2 emissions tumble to a highly credible 196g/km. Performance actually rivals the outgoing V8 model: it will get to 62mph in just 7.9 seconds and top out at 130mph.That's as well because there's certainly no reduction in price for the loss of two cylinders at the entry-level. The new TDV6 in its lower Vogue trim lands in the UK at £71,295. Land Rover's latest Adaptive Damping setup and ultra-clever automatic Terrain Response system are standard, but the transformative anti-roll Dynamic Response isn't currently available with the smaller engine.

First drive review: 2013 Range Rover 5.0 V8 Supercharged Autobiography

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 04:30 PM PDT

The new 5.0-litre V8 is thirsty, fast and excessive. An option open only for those with a suitably huge budget Diesel power may account for the majority of Land Rover sales in Europe, but there are still plenty of places where petrol is king - making JLR's voracious Range Rover V8 the variant of choice for everywhere from the dust of the Middle East to the Day-Glo-green grass of suburban America.In the UK, the supercharged 5.0-litre car is deservedly thought of as the high-price pinnacle of an already expensive range. The latest model doesn't disappoint: Land Rover's coffers swell by £98,395 whenever anyone signs for an Autobiography (the only trim level available).For that you get the same eight-cylinder motor as before, turning out the same 503bhp and 461lb ft of torque. Land Rover says the new model gets an improved engine management system, but the biggest mechanical change is that the whole unit is now mated to the eight-speed ZF transmission already enjoyed by the rest of the range rather than its predecessor's six-speeder.2013 Range Rover 3.0 TDV6 Autobiography review2013 Range Rover 4.4 TDV8 Autobiography reviewTwo additional super-slippery ratios bring their own reward - primarily in the efficiency stakes - but the notable statistical bump enjoyed by the latest car is better attributed (as elsewhere) to the 250kg that has been pruned from its kerb weight. CO2 emissions are reduced by 7 per cent to 322g/km and, more importantly for its buyers, its 0-62mph time has fallen from 6.2 seconds to 5.4.

First drive review: 2013 Range Rover Autobiography TDV8

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 04:30 PM PDT

The new Range Rover is much like the old one. Just much better. This is the fourth and easily the best all-new Range Rover to see the light of day since the iconic original appeared in 1970 and changed off-road vehicles forever. That first Range Rover's aspirations were modest by today's standards - to make traditional work-based Land Rovers more versatile - and in that it succeeded brilliantly. That original model looked so great, drove so well and was so quickly recognised as a fine machine simply to spend time in that over the years successive models came to be viewed as viable rivals to traditional luxury saloons like the Mercedes S-class.The new 2013 Range Rover extends the rivalry. To the expected more imposing looks and sumptuous interior it adds a new, weight-saving aluminium chassis, a more efficient engine line-up that for the first time includes a high efficiency diesel V6 (still with 442lb ft of torque) that emits less than 200g/km of CO2, a very frugal figure in SUV and especially Range Rover terms. 2013 Range Rover 5.0 V8 Supercharged Autobiography review2013 Range Rover 3.0 TDV6 Autobiography reviewAnd for the first time a Range Rover offers a truly spacious and luxurious rear package, increasingly important in fast-expanding export markets like China and South-East Asia. In short, this new edition is just like a Range Rover, only better.

First drive review: Tesla Model S

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 03:00 PM PDT

The range-topping electric Tesla Model S has BMW M5 troubling pace, but how does it shape up in other areas? This is the Tesla Model S, the first bespoke creation from PayPal creator Elon Musk's stable, which we tested in Germany, the first time we have driven the car in Europe. The car was production ready save for a couple of parts, such as rear headlights, which are still being prototyped for European homologation.The 2106kg Tesla S's body structure is aluminium, with steel used only to add strength in key areas. Tesla says the resultant stiffness has allowed it to bestow the car with good dynamics despite its size and weight (over two tonnes) and even on 21-inch wheels.The car sits on double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension. Our test car – as with all Tesla S models except the entry-level version – sat on air suspension.Tesla also makes the case for aluminium's increased strength in the event of an accident, a claim it backs up with eight standard air bags and a frontal crash structure it says has far more effective crumple zones than in a 'standard' car, simply because there is no engine to consider.The company says it has wilfully made the Tesla S look like a conventional car, to the extent of fitting a dummy radiator grille, so as not to scare off customers wary of buying an electric vehicle.The batteries – developed by Pioneer and also used by Toyota and Mercedes - sit under the floor of the car, running the length of the space between the axles in a 10cm deep stack, keeping the centre of gravity low, while the electric motor sits on the rear axle. Weight distribution is claimed to be 48%/52% front/rear.Tesla has already taken 13,000 deposits for the S and is planning to sell 20,000 cars a year from 2013. It will go on sale in the UK next autumn.

Next Corvette to get new V8

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 09:35 AM PDT

Chevrolet has announced that the next Corvette will receive the new LT1 V8 engine with an estimated 450bhp

Chevrolet has revealed the new LT1 V8 engine, which will power the next Corvette when it arrives late next year.

Although official figures haven't been released yet, it is expected to produce 450bhp and power the car from 0-62mph in less than 4 seconds, which makes it not just the most powerful standard Corvette, but also the quickest.

The engine is the first of the Gen 5 family of small block engines, and it combines direct injection, Active Fuel Management and variable valve timing to support the all-new advanced combustion system.

The engine has already been race-tested earlier this year in the Corvette Racing C6.R. The team beat Ferrari, BMW and Porsche to sweep the manufacturer, team and drivers' championships in the American Le Mans Series GT class.

Mary Barra, senior vice president, Global Product Development, said "Our objective for the development of the all-new LT1 was to raise the bar for performance car engines. We feel we have achieved that by delivering a true technological masterpiece that seamlessly integrates a suite of advanced technologies that can only be found on a handful of engines in the world".

Sam Davis

2013 Seat Leon begins production

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 08:02 AM PDT

The new Seat Leon has begun production after a €800 investment in the Martorell plant

Seat has started production of the new Leon hatchback. The five-door hatch is the first of the new Leon range, which by 2014 will include a three-door variant and a five-door estate.

The new car is a result of a £650 million (€800 million) investment into vehicle research and development and production facilities. The production of the car at the company's Martorell plant in Spain ensures 1,600 jobs on the production line, plus more than 6,000 throughout the supply chain.

The new Leon is 90kg lighter and 52mm shorter than the previous model and yet it has more passenger space and luggage capacity. Every new car will be equipped with stop-start technology for greater fuel efficiency.

Dr Andreas Tostmann, Seat executive vice president for production, said:  "With the new Leon we have increased productivity by 10 per cent and become more flexible, thus guaranteeing optimisation of production costs".

"The 800 million euros investment in the new Leon consolidates our leadership position as Spain's number one industrial investor in R&D. The Leon, together with the Ibiza, represents the very essence of SEAT. It is a vehicle that projects strength, and exudes precision and quality".

The Leon will go on sale in the UK in early 2013.

Sam Davis

First drive review: Volkswagen Kombi

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 07:48 AM PDT

Classic VW can still be bought brand new in Brazil, but get it while you still can You already know: it's the Kombi, the classic camper van from Volkswagen that's been around since 1950. And it's still in production in 2012 in Brazil at a rate of 251 units per day and on sale in South America markets. In Brazil, it'll cost you 48,150 Real, which works out at around £14,800.The Kombi hasn't really changed a lot over the years: it's still rear-engined and rear-drive, has a sliding side door to enter the nine-seat cabin in three rows of three, and the looks haven't been messed with, the exception being a large black grille at the front.What has changed is the engine, which is a 1.4-litre water-cooled unit adapted to run on both petrol and ethanol, or a combination of both, something that's crucial in the Brazilian market. The engine is a version of the normally aspirated 1.4-litre petrol VW sells in the UK in the Polo. The engine is hooked up to a four-speed manual gearbox.

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