Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Quick news: New Lexus CT grade, SsangYong finance offers

Posted: 07 Nov 2012 07:03 AM PST

Lexus announces new mid-spec grade for its CT hybrid hatchback; SsangYong reveals zero per cent finance deals; Toyota begins Auris production

Lexus has introduced a new trim level in its CT 200h range. The Advance slots above the SE grade and includes, cruise control, reversing camera, folding mirror and rain-sensing wipers as standard. The model also introduces the new MoveOn navigation system, operated from a touch pad. The CT 200h is priced at £24,495, £500 more than SE models. 

The SsangYong Korando and Rodius are available with zero per cent finance. The Korando EX is priced form £169 per month with an £11,305 deposit while the Rodius S is available for £129 per month after a £8,255 deposit. Both models are offered with 5 years free servicing 5 years unlimited mileage warranty.

Toyota has started production of the new Auris at its Burnaston plant in Derbyshire. The factory has seen a £185m investment in the manufacturing process and supply chain, including the recruitment of 800 new workers.

New BMW M6 video review

Posted: 07 Nov 2012 03:58 AM PST

The BMW M6 is now more refined and usable than ever. But is it still fun?

The new 4.4-litre, turbocharged, V8 BMW M6 brings new levels of refinement and usability to BMW's big M coupe. But has it compromised the car's real driver involvement and hardcore enthusiast appeal in the process?

Audi announces shift in design strategy

Posted: 07 Nov 2012 02:32 AM PST

New design philosophy will focus on strong links with technology

Future Audis could look a lot different to the company's current offerings, after head of design Wolfgang Egger announced a shift in design strategy.

Advanced technology, long a pillar of the Audi brand, will feature heavily in the new design language, which is designed to provide greater differentiation to the company's model range.

An advanced preview of this new direction has already been seen in the Audi Crosslane Coupé concept unveiled at September's Paris Motor Show.

"Good design must always express a vision. We need something new without breaking from tradition," said Egger.

Interior and exterior design will be brought closer together to provide greater visual cohesion, again showcased on the Crosslane Coupé, which previews what the next generation of Audi Q cars could look like.

Indeed, the Q range will be the first to benefit from this new styling direction, and will receive a new more three-dimensional version of Audi's trademark trapezoidal grille, which will be a stand-out design feature on the cars.

In addition, Wolfgang Egger's 'studio concept' approach to car design, in which designers are given free reign to explore and share ideas, is proving so effective at its base in Munich, that the philosophy is to be adopted at Audi's main design studios in Ingolstadt.

Daljinder Nagra

UK car registrations up 12.1 per cent in October

Posted: 07 Nov 2012 01:50 AM PST

British buyers buck the trend of declining demand in Europe

The UK new car market grew 12.1 per cent in October, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

This growth is in direct contrast to the rest of Europe, where economic uncertainty is keeping demand for new cars low.

In total the market has grown a total of five per cent over the year to date, with increases in sales in all but one month.

The Ford Fiesta remains the most popular car with buyers, outselling its closest competitor, the Vauxhall Corsa, by over 1700 units in October alone.

Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, welcomed the news but warned that more needs to be done to sustain the growth in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles: "Although the alternatively fuelled vehicle sector represents only a small share of the overall market, it is vital that Government sustains its consumer incentive programme and maximises the benefits available through the vehicle taxation system."

UK's best selling new cars, October 2012

1 Ford Fiesta – 8058 units sold2 Vauxhall Corsa – 62853 Ford Focus – 58344 Vauxhall Astra – 57545 Volkswagen Golf – 41586 BMW 3-series – 37627 Nissan Qashqai – 35678 BMW 1-series – 30299 MINI hatch – 297010 Volkswagen Polo - 2952

Daljinder Nagra

First drive review: Audi Q5 facelift

Posted: 07 Nov 2012 01:06 AM PST

Added grunt and a slightly more forgiving ride improve the Audi Q5, while subtle styling changes won't upset the faithful Now four years old, the Audi Q5 faces increased competition for the soft-road-chic title, most notably from the Range Rover Evoque. A refresh aims to keep it in contention.The telltale exterior difference is that the quadrilateral grille has become hexagonal. Bumper changes are less noticeable, as are rear diffuser and tailpipe revisions. Interior switchgear updates are best labelled 'incremental'.Poverty spec has been abolished, demoting 'SE' to the bottom rung, meaning all new Q5s have leather and rear parking sensors. 'S line Plus' is the new range-topper, boasting navigation and power tailgate.

What is Land Rover chasing

Posted: 07 Nov 2012 12:33 AM PST

Product planners have divided the market into three main sectors, with the leisure and utility segments representing the biggest potential for Land Rover

Land Rover admits that its internal predictions for the shape of the global SUV market in 2020 is only a best guess, but it does show the huge potential for the company. Land Rover estimates that the global SUV market will reach 22 million units by 2020. If so, this means that Land Rover could be a profitable premium-brand maker without selling regular road cars.

The chart above was flashed up by the company at the recent Range Rover presentation and shows where the biggest SUV markets are expected to lie. 

In the super-luxury SUV segment — presumably with prices in six figures — the global market runs to just 116,000 units. One notch down, however, and there are 453,000 sales to fight for, making it fertile territory for the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.

Full report: 16 new Land Rovers revealed

According to Land Rover sources, the new aluminium production line at Solihull could produce 150,000 models per year at full stretch, which is the most profitable operating position. With the new Range Rover shifting just over 40,000 units and the Sport about 60,000, it leaves room for a range-topping aluminium Land Rover in a luxury leisure segment that should be able to steal 50,000 of the 682,000 available global sales.

Perhaps the biggest area where Land Rover can make headway is in the mid-market 'leisure' sector, where six million annual sales are up for grabs. As Land Rover's future line-up shows, it needs to build a family of cars in the sector where the current Freelander and Discovery compete. 

This, along with the desire for a city-sized Range Rover, means that Land Rover will probably need to develop its own scalable steel platform, which would probably come in two sizes, covering vehicles from 3.9m to 4.3m in length and those from 4.3m to 4.7m. 

Although the new 'leisure' range would be partly built in the UK — suggesting that Halewood will need to expand significantly in a few years — the new Defender family will probably be built mostly in India, with European versions using a significant number of Indian-sourced sub-assemblies. 

There's no news on what will underpin the new Defender, but a modified version of the Discovery's T5 platform, with a lighter structure and simplified suspension, looks most likely. With 10 million sales globally, there's a huge incentive for Land Rover to fight its way back into the traditional SUV market that it partly invented.

Onwards and upwards: Vauxhall Maloo sets hillclimb record

Posted: 06 Nov 2012 11:23 PM PST

A V8 Vauxhall Maloo driven by Steve Cropley earns its place in the 107-year-old record books at Shelsley Walsh hillclimb

It was the phrase "epic V8 super-truck" that did it. When Vauxhall launched the E3 version of its £51,500 Maloo pick-up last year, it used those stirring words to switch us on to its British-badged, Australian-built 'Holden ute' – longer than a Mercedes S500, as powerful as a 6.2-litre Chevy Corvette and pretty nearly as quick as either. 

The Maloo was never going to be a big seller, even if business users were promised a VAT-free purchase at about £42,000. The expected few dozen copies found their way on to UK roads – built to special order – and all too soon it was time for the much-photographed chrome yellow demonstrator to be sold. However, before it drove off into the sunset, Vauxhall was determined to give it a rousing send-off, with Autocar's help. The famous Shelsley Walsh hillclimb – world's oldest motor racing track still in use – had never had a record for commercial vehicles in its 107-year history. How about using the Maloo to establish one?

The track organiser, the Midland Automobile Club (MAC), agreed to muster its best timekeeping marshals under clerk of the course Dave Nursey. On a quiet, sunny Wednesday, Vauxhall's Simon Hucknall, late of Autocar's road test team, brought the big yellow beast from the company's Luton stable to the track, where I – an occasional and none too distinguished competitor at Shelsley – would have a go at setting a respectable time.

In bald description, the Maloo is not the ideal racing car. Its 5.1-metre length and 1800kg kerb weight put it dimensionally on a par with a Jaguar XJ, and most of its mass is carried over the front wheels – not ideal for off-the-line traction. But it also has strengths: an ultra-docile Yankee V8 whose plentiful peak power (425bhp) and torque (405lb ft) are delivered low in the rev range, a fuss-free six-speed manual gearbox with heavy-duty clutch, and an electronic launch control that utilises the ABS paraphernalia and a mechanical limited-slip differential to tame rubber-frying wheelspin. Actually, the Maloo's power-to-weight ratio isn't so different from that of the Corvette C6, which is why its healthy 0-60mph time of 4.9sec compares quite well with the sports car's 4.4sec.

Shelsley Walsh is a short, steep hillclimb of just 1000 yards (914 metres) and seems deceptively easy to drive at first. But the closer you look and the quicker you go, the more of a challenge it becomes. There's a steep uphill start, so you must get your car's departure position and engine revs just right. After the hint of a right kink, the road disappears left between banks into Kennel Bend – easy in a road car as long as you feel okay about giving it full throttle into a blind bend. Then it goes left again into Crossing, a corner that goes on longer than you expect and needs both precision and bottle, because a powerful car like the Maloo is accelerating hard all the way through, so its chassis balance is changing all the while and there's no room to stray off line. 

Beyond Crossing, the track opens and you start climbing steeply into Bottom Ess, an unnerving place because as the car gets quicker – something like 80mph in the Maloo – you're confronted by what seems an impossibly high bank, shaded by trees and peppered with seats that, I've always believed, provide spectators with the finest vantage point in Britain for watching competitors getting it wrong. 

In fact, you can accelerate hard right into the shadowy jaws of Bottom Ess because the braking area is so steep that it washes off speed amazingly quickly as soon as you stop accelerating. Apex late, briefly hug the left-hand bank, then jink right to apex in Top Ess just beyond a geometrically important drainhole cover. Then it's as much poke as you can muster (avoid climbing Top Ess's high outside bank) for the straight-line blast up to the finish. At the line, you've climbed 328 feet (100 metres) on an average gradient of just over one in nine. Regulars know Shelsley as a power hill with no margin for error.

With the 'no margin' bit in mind, Nursey asked Simon Durling, a long-time Shelsley competitor at the highest single-seater level, to sit in with me for some shakedown runs. Learn the line and drive it, he impressed on me. Get off the start line cleanly. Carry speed into Bottom Ess, where most people are inclined to go slower than they need. Apex late. Never concede speed you don't have to. It was all very helpful. With Simon on board, I did a brisk 45.88sec run to show that I could find the line. Then he stepped out.

The Maloo's launch control is simple to use. Push a button on the console ahead of the gearlever. Give the engine 4700rpm, where peak torque is delivered, pop the clutch and it'll maintain traction with a judder but very little wheelspin until revs match speed. If you have time, you can press the 'Track' button again to reinstate the disconnected stability control, but I didn't have time. My first serious run was a reasonable 41.81sec as I found the right gears: first off the line, second, then the long-legged third out of Crossing for the sprint to Bottom Ess, which needed a swift change back to second under brakes. Then third out of Top Ess for the finishing straight, crossing the line just this side of 90mph. The car felt hearteningly stable, strong under power and brakes and turned in with surprising ease. No serious wheelspin, either.

For the second run, I shaved off a promising 1.8sec (40.03sec), then for the third I gave it all back as I muffed a gearchange into the Esses. For the fourth, I was rubbish off the line and slower still; for the fifth, I finally cracked 40 seconds (39.73sec), deemed by MAC's all-knowing marshals as the threshold of respectability. The last run was the best: 38.65sec, with the Maloo standing on its nose into Bottom Ess and power oversteering a bit more than seemed healthy out of the top one. For the sake of the Vauxhall's hoped-for auction price and my own reputation as a non-crasher, I decided to leave it there. A decent driver could have done a 36.

Thus Shelsley's first official hill record for commercial vehicles stands at 38.65sec, set by a Holden ute. I predict its early eclipse. Still, I reckon I touched 80mph into Bottom Ess and probably tickled a true 85-86mph over the line. To put this into perspective, the current record, set by Martin Groves in an F1-style 600bhp Gould, stands at 22.58sec. His speed into Bottom Ess was 140mph. He crossed the line at 147mph.

This clearly leaves the rest of us room for improvement.

But then, in hillclimbing, that's always the way.

Vauxhall Insignia VXR to outgun M5

Posted: 06 Nov 2012 04:01 PM PST

Vauxhall's Insignia VXR SuperSport will hit 170mph and cost just £29,995

Vauxhall is relaunching its range-topping Insignia VXR as the most affordable car to boast a supercar-rivalling 170mph top speed. Badged 'Insignia VXR SuperSport', its top speed is boosted by the removal of the speed limiter, which adds 15mph to its V-max.

At the same time, Vauxhall is slashing nearly £4000 off the Insignia VXR's price by dropping it to £29,995.

There are no direct rivals to the VXR SuperSport as no other relatively affordable four-door saloon boasts a supercar-grade top speed. The Cayman S two-seater is the closest performance and price rival, with a 172mph top end and costing from £48,000. 

Four-seaters with a 170mph top speed are even thinner on the ground. Autocar's favourite BMW M5 boasts a 155mph top speed in standard form, and a £73,000 price.

The VXR SuperSport is not the first time that Vauxhall has launched a sledgehammer performance saloon. In 1990, when Vauxhall parent GM also owned Lotus, it turned the rear-wheel-drive Carlton executive saloon into a 176mph super-saloon.

Power came from a 377bhp twin-turbo 3.6-litre straight six. It was priced at £48,000, making the VXR SuperSport look good value in comparison.

The VXR SuperSport is powered by a 2.8-litre V6 engine, which gets a forged steel crank and alloy sump. It is equipped with a single twin-scroll, turbocharger. 

The engine develops 320bhp and drives a torque-sensing all-wheel drive system. The car has adaptive damping and the sophisticated HiPer strut suspension at the front end in place of the conventional MacPherson struts fitted to mainstream Insignias. 

The SuperSport can sprint from zero to 60mph in just 5.6sec and is identified by the blue 'Brembo' lettering on the brake calipers and a recalibrated speedo.

Orders are being taken now at VXR dealerships.

16 new Land Rovers revealed

Posted: 06 Nov 2012 04:01 PM PST

Land Rover's line-up is set to expand to 16 models by 2020 - and we've got the details of them all, including a 4m baby three-door, and BMW X5 rival and a five-car Defender family

Land Rover has embarked on a massive new model blitz that could more than double its annual sales by 2020. It is almost certainly the biggest investment that the UK car industry has ever seen. Land Rover's future model line-up will fully cover the three main areas of the booming global SUV market — luxury, leisure and utility.

According to Land Rover's design director Gerry McGovern, the brand is set to expand all three of its model families. The plans include additional models for the Range Rover line-up, a new Defender family and a radical expansion of the Freelander range that will create four new 'leisure' SUVs during the next seven years.

Land Rover sources refuse to estimate the potential size of the car-maker once the seven-year plan has been introduced. However, market data suggests the global SUV market will reach 22 million units by 2020. If, by radically expanding its line-up, Land Rover captured around three per cent of that market, it would be close to producing 600,000 vehicles annually.

Hilton Holloway: What is Land Rover chasing?

According to what McGovern describes as a "holistic approach" to its future range, Land Rover plans to extend the Range Rover line-up to six models, including an 'Evoque XL', which slots into the hole that currently exists between the Evoque and the new Range Rover Sport  and a convertible Evoque. A baby three-door Range Rover just 4m long is also being considered.

The new Land-Rover-badged 'leisure' line-up will have at least five new models, kicking off with an entry-level Freelander similar in size to today's Evoque. The Freelander itself will be reinvented in five-seat and seven-seat forms. The range will be topped by a new Discovery, which could switch to an aluminium platform, and be offered as a flagship to rival the successful BMW X5.

In the 'dual purpose' or 'utility' segment, Land Rover's plan indicates that a production version of the Evoque-based DC100 is heading for the showroom, as well as the long-discussed replacement for the Defender. 

McGovern's plan shows outline drawings for five-seat and seven-seat new Defenders as well as a crew-cab pick-up.

This dramatic expansion will put a huge strain on the investment and engineering capabilities of Jaguar Land Rover. JLR boss Ralf Speth has already spoken about 40 new JLR product launches in the next five years. He has pledged £2bn a year to underpin this, with the £10bn investment funding at least one new platform, plus increased capacity in the UK. 

However, not all of this investment is expected to be focused on the UK. JLR is wisely spreading its production footprint around the world to take advantage of booming global markets. 

Reports from China in early October said that the JLR joint venture with Chinese car maker Chery gained approval in record time from the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission. 

About £1.8 billion will be invested in a new Chinese plant that will, in the first stages, have the capacity to build 130,000 vehicles per year, about 60 per cent of which will be Land Rover models.  

Reports say that Land Rover sales in China hit 47,975 units in the first eight months of the year, 85 per cent up on the same period in 2011. Its 96 Chinese dealer outlets will also soon be expanded by a further 47 showrooms. 

China is now JLR's second biggest market, just behind the UK, and Chinese tastes are increasingly turning away from conventional luxury saloon cars towards SUVs.

Buyers of premium vehicles in China and Russia are also pushing for the opportunity to buy more limited-edition vehicles and customised styling packs, an opportunity JLR's design teams are eager to capitalise on.

Back in the UK, JLR has put the finishing touches to its new aluminium press shop at Solihull and has just completed a new quality inspection building for the new Range Rover and its future sister vehicles. 

Work is also underway on the new JLR engine factory to be built in the West Midlands/Staffordshire area, while much of the research work into a new generation of super-frugal four-cylinder 'Hotfire' engines is being carried out by UK universities, including Warwick and Loughborough. 

Halo wireless charging trial launches

Posted: 06 Nov 2012 10:05 AM PST

Induction charging tech aims to simplify the electric vehicle ownership experience

Electric vehicle technology today took a step towards greater convenience, with the launch of the Halo Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging trial.

Operated by wireless technology firm Qualcomm, the trial involves the use of the company's induction charging system, which eliminates the need for a physical connection between the car and power source.

By creating a magnetic field using an induction loop in a pad installed in the floor, electric current can be sent safely and efficiently to an opposing pad connected to a vehicle's battery.

The system is claimed to be no slower and only marginally less efficient than using a physical connection. It is not the first time the technology has been seen, as it has also been used for smartphones and electric toothbrushes, as well as used on a number of prototype cars, including the Rolls-Royce Phantom EE.

Qualcomm hopes the increase in convenience will tip electric vehicle uptake towards a critical mass, where it will see the volumes needed to make the venture a success.

The two-year scheme will assess the feasibility and the commercial viability of a national rollout.

In the first phase, privately run test vehicles will operate in the capital. These will be Delta E4 Coupés – designed by Silverstone-based motorsport outfit Delta – specially fitted with the wireless induction technology.

In 2013, Renault will join the scheme with its Fluence saloon. The project is of particular importance to the French manufacturer, which has invested heavily in electric drive.

"Renault's eggs are all in the electric basket, and wireless charging is the key to ensure it is a success. These trials are very important, as they will allow us to gauge buying and usage habits in the future," said Renault spokesman Simon Tibbett.

Renault is viewing wireless charging as a complementary option to tethered charging and the battery swapping facility it currently offers. It will be joined by minicab firm Addison Lee, which will introduce a number of EV taxis to the streets of the capital in 2014.

Chargemaster, the company behind the installation and operation of the current 'POLAR' network of conventional tethered charging posts, is to install wireless pads at six sites in and around London. It is hoping that with sufficient demand it will be able to install wireless charge points at each of its 4,000 sites, for no additional cost over conventional charging posts: around £3,000, with a domestic outlet projected to cost around £700.

Qualcomm's ultimate aim is to introduce dynamic charging, in which the induction circuits are built into stretches of road, allowing for charging on the move, without the need for a physical connection.

The company insist that this is feasible today, but there are significant infrastructure and regulatory barriers to negotiate before. As such, don't expect to see dynamic charging any time in the near future.

Daljinder Nagra

End of an era for Skoda motorsport

Posted: 06 Nov 2012 08:42 AM PST

As the curtain comes down on the IRC, the team's top driver eyes WRC stardom

There was a great deal of laughter, back-slapping and hugging going on in the Skoda service area in Cyprus's picturesque Paphos harbour on Sunday evening as the Skoda UK Motorsport team celebrated clinching its second straight drivers' and manufacturers' titles in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

Second place for Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Floene on the season-ending Cyprus Rally meant everyone in the team could relax and let their hair down, in the knowledge of a job well done. 

The sense of relief and satisfaction was palpable as they joked around in the service park, waiting for their star driver and co-driver to appear for a quick celebration prior to heading off for the official prizegiving ceremony in the town centre. For a bit of light entertainment, they were also getting ready to carry out a final service on Mikkelsen's Fabia Super 2000, the difference being that this time all the jobs would be handled by the team bosses, with their efforts being judged by the real service crew. 

Team principal Pierfrancesco Zanchi was given the task of changing the left front wheel. But he had a problem: someone had made off with the battery needed to power his wheel gun. Amid a fresh burst of laughter, the battery materialised from behind someone's back just in time for him to clip it into place as the Fabia rolled into the service area.

After Mikkelsen and Floene had emerged from the car to the cheers and applause of everyone in the crowd, the temporary service crew went to work, changing the wheels, downloading data and giving the car a quick clean prior to its appearance on the podium in the town centre.

The judges' scores were generous in the extreme for all but Zanchi's wheel-changing efforts; still struggling with his wheel gun, he earned plenty of light-hearted ribbing and came away with a score of just three out of 10. The temporary team co-ordinator, relishing the chance to bark out orders, had just demanded a gearbox change when the fun had to come to an end, because Mikkelsen and Floene were due at the prizegiving ceremony.

A win on the notoriously rough, car-wrecking Cyprus event would have been a great way to finish off the season and was entirely on the cards, because Skoda UK Motorsport's closest rivals, Jan Kopecky and Juho Hanninen, driving identical Fabias, had chosen not to take part in the event.

But Mikkelsen's hopes were dashed by a series of punctures and damage to his suspension on the rocky gravel stages that make up most of the rally and he had to settle for second place behind the turbocharged 1.6-litre Ford Fiesta of Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah, the Cyprus event also being a round of the Middle East rally championship.  

On one stage on the final day, Mikkelsen also had to contend with a dim-witted local who was bumbling along the road in his 4x4, oblivious to the fact that the Fabia was bearing down on him at high speed. Frantic shouting and gesticulating by spectators finally alerted the local to the situation and he got out of the way with just seconds to spare.

Amid all the post-rally celebrations, there was also a hint of sadness and a strong sense of finality among the team, because whatever they do next, it will be in a new-look championship and without Mikkelsen and Floene. The curtain has been drawn on the IRC – a series that has lacked strength in depth since Peugeot pulled out at the end of 2011 – and a new European Rally Championship is taking its place, featuring cars built to the new, cost-capped 'R5' spec like Nasser Al-Attiyah's Fiesta.

Meanwhile, Mikkelsen seems certain to be joining Volkswagen as the junior driver in its new works team in the World Rally Championship in 2013, and at the same time he is parting company with his super-experienced co-driver, Floene, who has played such a big part in the 23-year-old Norwegian driver's rise to stardom. In a fitting tribute to his contribution to the team, Floene got to do the driving on the final stage of the rally – and set a highly competitive time.

It may be the end of an era for Skoda UK Motorsport in its current form, but it has been the dominant force in the IRC for the past couple of years and has successfully propelled Mikkelsen onto the world stage. For the double IRC drivers' champion, nothing less than the WRC title will do now.

First drive review: Vauxhall Adam 1.4 Slam 99bhp

Posted: 05 Nov 2012 04:01 PM PST

The cute, small Vauxhall Adam hatchback enters the fashionable supermini fray majoring on style, not heritage Vauxhall has taken a long look at the sales success, profit potential and showroom durability of the current crop of sub-superminis – led by the Mini and Fiat 500 – and decided it badly needs a slice of the action to spruce up its small-car range and boost its bottom line. The result is its chic new Adam, a 3.7-metre-long three-door hatchback that splits the difference between premium and mainstream, takes to the road this week and is expected in UK showrooms next March. Unlike the Mini and 500, however, it has no connection with the past. While working on the idea, Vauxhall rapidly recognised its immediate difficulty was that it lacked an iconic car from a bygone era that could provide the convenient Mini-style heritage to help justify higher prices. Marketing men therefore decided on a three-pronged strategy to compensate. The first was to choose an off-the-wall name that would be easily remembered and would provide 'cut-through' in the market segment. The second was to pitch the car as all-modern, in contrast to its rivals. "Adam bucks the trend for retro-based design," says the new Vauxhall's launch document, "offering a fresh, bold, striking look." Read our review of the low-power Vauxhall AdamThird, it decided to give the Adam new levels of configurability. Within three fairly similar-priced trim levels – £11,255 Jam, £12,650 Glam and £13,150 Slam – the number of décor and option combinations for the Adam is "almost limitless". For wheels alone, for example, buyers have a choice of 20 sizes and styles. There are also 12 body colours, three different interior treatments and an enormous selection of interior accents, headliners, mirror caps and even Extreme packs – simulated paint blots on mirrors and runs at the bottom of pillars. Throw in an Urban pack (LEDs and chrome bits), a Style pack (coloured roof and shiny alloys) and a Technical Pack (connectivity and rear parking sensors) and you've got as much individuality as most buyers could ever dream of. Some say there are more than a million variables, but no one is counting.

First drive review: Vauxhall Adam 1.4 Glam Ecoflex 86bhp

Posted: 05 Nov 2012 11:38 AM PST

The Vauxhall Adam is creative, but not good enough in terms of its performance or handling It's the new Vauxhall Adam – the latest addition to the style-conscious supermini sector. Vauxhall has tried to find some clear air in the class by positioning the Adam between the Fiat 500 and more expensive Mini and Audi A1 in pricing, and also by opting for a brand new rather than retro design.Sitting on a heavily modified version of the current Corsa's platform, the Adam is a touch wider than a Mini but gets a shorter wheelbase of 2311mm, and a marginally shorter body. It's powered by three engines: a 69bhp 1.2 petrol and 86 or 99bhp versions of the 1.4-litre petrol. Here we're testing the mid-range 86bhp 1.4, also finished in mid-range Glam trim, which comes in at just over £13,000 when equipped with the optional (at £295) start-stop system as fitted here.Read our review of the high-power Vauxhall AdamAny cars that come with 17 or 18-inch wheels get a firmer sports chassis set-up as standard, as does our test car. It rides on 17-inch alloys and Continental ContiEcoContact rubber.

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