Thursday, November 1, 2012

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Ford appoints Mark Fields as COO

Posted: 01 Nov 2012 07:22 AM PDT

Former head of Ford's Premier Automotive Group, Mark Fields, returns to the Blue Oval as chief operating officer

Ford has appointed Mark Fields as the company's chief operating officer, promoting him from his current position as the head of Ford Americas. Industry watchers say that this increases the chances of Fields becoming head of Ford when current CEO Allan Mulallay steps down.

Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford, also announced that Mulally, who was the head of Boeing before he joined Ford, will remain as the CEO of the company until the end of 2014.

Fields is best-known in the European car industry as the boss of Ford's old Premier Auto Group, which then included Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin, Volvo and Lincoln. He replaced ex-BMW product supremo Wolfgang Reitzle in 2002, whose plan for investing heavily in the PAG Group was rejected by Ford.

Fields left the PAG group in 2006 after which it was slowly dismantled, with Ford selling off JLR in 2006, Aston in 2007 and Volvo in 2008. Critics say that under Fields' direction, PAG did not take advantage of the global move towards premium brands and that the dismantling of PAG under Mulally, after he became CEO in 2006, was a significant strategic mistake — particularly in light of the subsequent success of JLR.


New Subaru Forester to be revealed at LA motor show

Posted: 01 Nov 2012 04:58 AM PDT

Revised Forester gets sleeker, less utilitarian exterior styling and a new range of engines for its US unveiling

A new Subaru Forester will be unveiled at the Los Angeles motor show later this month.

Slightly bigger than today's car, the styling is sportier with a more sloped-back screen and a less utilitarian feel.

Two Boxer four-cylinder engines have been announced – a 170bhp 2.5-litre base engine and a punchier 2.0-litre turbo boasting 250bhp. The 2.5-litre pumps 174lb ft and the 2.0 Turbo a heftier 258lb ft.

Both are launched with standard all-wheel drive and six-speed manual transmissions with the option of a 'Lineartronic' CVT. On the 2.5 the CVT features six-speeds and on the Turbo eight-speeds. US-spec models will feature standard 17inch wheels on the 2.5; 18inch on the Turbo.

There's no word on UK import plans yet, but the Forester is a key element of Subaru's UK line-up.

The main changes for the UK are likely to be engines. The current Subaru Forester features both a two-litre petrol and diesel, engines needed for the UK market.

Neither is it yet clear if the Forester Turbo will make it here. Previous generations of Forester sold successfully with the Turbo engine.

First drive review: Audi R8 V8 S-tronic

Posted: 01 Nov 2012 03:52 AM PDT

Much-improved gearbox and enriched spec makes the Audi R8 even more technically impressive, although it still lacks supercar allure It's a mid-life facelift for the Audi R8 super-sports car. If you want the abridged version, it consists of new LED headlights, a new gearbox, some extra standard equipment and a small price hike. No changes to either engine or suspension, though; Neckarsulm isn't fixing what it rightly considers ain't broke.There are a few exterior styling updates for the R8, of the blink-and-you'll-miss-'em variety. All cars now get a new rear valance design with two large-bore exhaust pipes (previously, you could tell a V8 from a V10 by the smaller quad pipes of the former). There are also new LED taillights with indicators that 'sweep' from one side to the other, instead of blinking. Something done, you suspect, for sufficiently moneyed  David Hasselhoff fans who model themselves on TV's Michael Knight. To everyone else, it'll look a bit naff.Inside the car you'll find a few more matt-finish aluminum trims around the cabin than were there before, and a slightly more generous kit list that now includes iPod connectivity, Bluetooth, sat-nav and heated nappa leather seats.But otherwise it's the same R8, complete with cocoon-like driver's seat, a slightly high but otherwise excellent driving position, and a typically German if slightly conservative cabin ambience.

Quick news: Countryman revised; Maserati '4C' possible

Posted: 31 Oct 2012 09:08 AM PDT

Mini makes Countryman Euro 6 compliant; Kia Cee'd cabrio possible; Maserati could built an 4C-based sports car; Toyota to push styling boundaries; F-type benchmarked against 911

The Mini Countryman range has been tweaked for the 2013 model year. Manual version of the One and Cooper Countryman will be fully Euro 6-compliant. Revisions have been made to the interior detailing, and the window switches have been moved to the doors. The revised models go on sale next month.

Kia sources say one more bodystyle will join the five-door hatch, Sportswagon and three-door coupé in the Cee'd line-up next year, along with the new GT performance version. It is thought to be a cabriolet, based on the recently unveiled Procee'd three-door.

BMW doesn't expect to see any impact on its vehicles' residual values as its Olympic fleet is released on to the used car market. It says it increased the lifecycle of its employees' company cars to starve the market in order to avoid tumbling residuals when it released 3200 Olympic cars to dealers.

Maserati boss Harald Wester has conceded that a sports car based on the Alfa Romeo 4C was possible for the firm in future. "We made the MC12, so there is the possibility," he said. "However, it will not just be a 4C. We would have to do something different. 

Toyota Europe's product planning chief says he "is past worrying" if the forthcoming new Auris's bold new styling will put off some existing Toyota customers. Karl Schlicht wants the firm to "push the boundaries more" with its styling, and says buyers will soon accept the look once they've seen it a few times.

Jaguar insiders are reluctant to give much away about how the new F-type drives, beyond saying it is the "best-handling Jaguar today". However, one revealed that it was benchmarked against the previous-gen 911 on handling, because Jaguar considers its hydraulic Servotronic steering system better than the new 911's electric set-up.

Jaguar Land Rover to share platforms

Posted: 31 Oct 2012 08:20 AM PDT

Jaguar and Land Rover is planning to reduce the number of platforms it uses in order to reduce development time and costs

Jaguar and Land Rover are planning to share platforms. The two companies aim to rationalise seven largely unrelated platforms to just two or three.

The shared platforms will serve around 70 to 80 per cent of the marque's core models by volume.

Land Rover currently offer models based on four distinct platforms: Defender, Freelander/Evoque, Discovery/Range Rover Sport and Range Rover. Jaguar currently has bespoke platforms for its XF, XJ and XK ranges.

It is looking to Volkswagen's fully scalable MQB platform as a case study. But Jaguar's global brand director, Adrian Hallmark said: "it won't happen overnight. VW's MQB platform will take seven years to roll out across the models it will underpin".

The Volkswagen Group has begun sales of MQB-based cars, including the Golf and A3, but the recently introduced second-generation new Beetle is still based on the PQ35 platform which formed the basis of the Mk5 Golf, launched in 2003.

Jaguar and Land Rover already share a number of costly parts, including infotainment systems, seats and drivetrains.

Mercedes A45 AMG for Geneva debut

Posted: 31 Oct 2012 07:31 AM PDT

The hottest A-class yet, the Mercedes A45 AMG, will make its public premiere at the Geneva motor show next year

Mercedes-Benz's AMG off-shoot has confirmed the upcoming A45 AMG will make its world debut at the 2013 Geneva motor show - a year after standard versions of the German car maker's new A-class first appeared in public.

The BMW M135i rivaling hatchback marks AMG's first ever foray into Europe's toughly fought hot hatch market, with Mercedes-Benz officials confirming right hand drive UK sales are planned to get underway in July 2013.

Pricing is yet to be announced but Autocar understands the A45 AMG will sell for around £36,000, with an optional performance package set to add a further £3000.

Pictured here in final prototype form wearing only light disguise across the lower section of its front bumper, the A45 AMG's appearance has already been previewed by the AMG Sport styling package available on all new third-generation A-class models. Helping to provide the new car with an added touch of visual aggression is a set of standard 18-inch multi spoke wheels shod with 235/40 profile Dunlop Sport Maxx tyres, lowered ride height and twin trapezoidal shaped chromed tail pipes.     

Powering AMG's first ever hatchback is a new turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder direct injection petrol engine developed by AMG engine boss, Fritz Eichler. Known under the codename M132, the new unit is based around parent company Mercedes-Benz's M274 engine of the same capacity – as used in the recently launched A250 CGI. 

Running a twin scroll turbocharger with a maximum 1.8 bar of boost pressure, the transversely mounted engine is claimed provide the A45 AMG with 349bhp at 6600rpm together with 332lb ft of torque - an increase of 141bhp and 111lb ft over the A250's less heavily tuned powerplant. By comparison, the M135i's turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine kicks out 316bhp and the same 332lb ft.

Power is channeled to all four wheels via a seven speed dual clutch gearbox conceived and produced in-house at Mercedes-Benz's gearbox plant near Stuttgart in Germany. It works in combination with a multi-plate clutch four-wheel drive system developed in co-operation with Austrian based production and engineering specialist Magna. 

Mercedes-Benz officials suggest the A45 AMG will reach 62mph from standstill in 5.1sec with top speed limited to 155mph in standard trim and 168mph when running the optional performance package. Combined average fuel consumption is said to be above 40mpg.

Underpinning the new entry level AMG model is a modified version of the standard A-class's MacPherson strut (front) and multi-link (rear) suspension. It has been lowered by around 25mm and receives thoroughly reworked elastokinematic prototypes, with new springs, dampers, bushes and anti-roll bar tuning. The A45 AMG also adopts the same front-end layout used by the A250. It uses different wheel bearings than other third-generation A-class models to provide a wider track.

Renault Zoe now available to order

Posted: 31 Oct 2012 06:05 AM PDT

New EV from Renault can be reserved for its spring 2013 arrival

Renault's first bespoke all-electric car can now be reserved for £49, ahead of its launch in the spring of 2013.

The Zoe will cost from £13,650 after the government's electric car grant has deducted. The Zoe is significantly cheaper to buy than other electric vehicles, due to Renault's battery rental scheme, whereby owners pay £70 per month for the battery and avoid the cost of replacement.

Renault claim the battery motor will give the Zoe the longest range of any electric vehicle on the market, with 130 miles possible on a full charge.

The French automaker says this is its first electric vehicle on the market to be designed as such and not and adaptation of an existing model. Renault's Fluence ZE and Kangoo ZE have been developed from existing platforms and the Twizy is classed as a quadracycle.

Dan Cogger

SEMA Show 2012: Full show gallery

Posted: 31 Oct 2012 02:27 AM PDT

Autocar's pick of the crop at this year's SEMA Show

The doors of the SEMA show opened in Las Vegas this week to thousands of domestic and international buyers, maintaining its status as the world's largest custom car show.

The expo, which also offers educational seminars and product demonstrations, exhibits a vast range of after-market modified cars with some ideas making it to production.

The Vegas show, normally the preserve of out-of-house tuners, is gradually gaining manufacturer support.

GM, Ford and Lexus are among the big manufacturers in attendance, with the latter showcasing six cars to mark the firm's sixth visit to SEMA.

Although not open to the public, SEMA is important in demonstrating the good, the bad and the ugly of 'modding'.  Here is a gallery of what we found of interest.

Dan Cogger

SEMA show 2012: Lexus display custom cars

Posted: 30 Oct 2012 05:04 AM PDT

Lexus is exhibiting six customised, concept and high performance cars at this week's SEMA show

To mark the sixth visit to SEMA by Lexus, the automaker is exhibiting six custom cars at the Las Vegas show.

Making its US debut is the LF-CC Concept, which was premiered at the Paris motor show and features new hybrid technology.

View our full SEMA gallery

Alongside the LF-CC are the LS 460 F Sport by Five Axis design studio and the Supercharged GS350 F Sport by VIP Auto Salon. Both feature a handful of technical modifications, but the majority of changes are cosmetic.

Also on display are two LFA supercars with one in standard trim and the other with the Nürburgring Package.

The final car Lexus is showing is the IS F CCS-R, a Peaks Pike International Hill Climb car with a 416bhp 5.0-litre V8.

The SEMA Show is on until the 2 November at the Las Vegas Convention Centre.

Dan Cogger

No comments:

Post a Comment