Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Redesigned 1-series GT spied testing

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 06:43 AM PST

BMW's first front-drive car now has production-ready design

BMW appears to have redesigned the forthcoming 1-series GT since the last test cars were seen on the streets of Munich earlier this year. These pictures of the car show a vehicle with a new glasshouse, incorporating a front quarterlight missing from the original vehicles, and a more steeply rising waistline.

The changes are consistent with the design of the Active Hybrid Tourer concept seen at the Paris show in September. It closely previewed the production 1-series GT, which is due to go on sale in 2014 as the first of BMW's front-wheel-drive cars.

It will give BMW a rival for cars such as Mercedes' B-class, with its high roof line and spacious interior, although it is slightly smaller than a B-class, and has a shorter wheelbase.

The car will use BMW's 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine, currently undergoing prototyping, and recently tested by Autocar in a 1-series. To be launched next year in the new Mini, the three-cylinder will also appear in the i8 sports car.

Autocar subscription service down

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 05:20 AM PST

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Mini Paceman JCW leaked

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 05:05 AM PST

The Mini Paceman JCW will feature a range of bespoke styling upgrades and a 215bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged four

These are the first photos of the new Mini Paceman John Cooper Works. 

The hottest Paceman has more exaggerated styling than the Cooper S on which it is based. These pictures, shown days before the model's expected official announcement, show more intricate side skirts and larger tailpipes.

Inside, the Paceman John Cooper Works receives some branding but appears otherwise identical to the Cooper S.

No performance data has been released, but the car will share the same 1598cc turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine as the Countryman Cooper S. Engine upgrades have reportedly increased power by 34bhp, and torque by 30lb ft to 207lb ft over the standard Cooper S. That model produces 215bhp and 207lb ft for a 7.0sec 0-62mph time and a 140mph top speed.

The standard JCW is thought to be offered in a front-drive configuration, with four-wheel drive as an option.

2-series to join BMW range

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 04:45 AM PST

New model to replace 1-series coupé and cabriolet in 2014

The successor models to the existing first-generation BMW 1-series coupé and cabriolet have been spied testing just over a year before their planned UK showroom debut.Set to adopt a new 2-series nameplate as part of BMW's plans to provide greater differentiation between its volume-selling saloons and hatchbacks and their coupé and cabriolet siblings, the new two door pairing, codenamed F22 and F23 respectively, have been extensively re-engineered in a move that sees them grow incrementally in size, providing them with increased levels of interior accommodation and luggage capacity together with improved safety credentials.The heavily disguised prototypes caught here testing in Germany provide few clues as to the look of the 2-series coupé and cabriolet, although BMW sources suggest they will follow the example of the recently unveiled 4-series by adopting a more individual appearance than today's models, albeit with various exterior design elements from the second-generation 1-series hatchback. One obvious design element is the retention of a fabric hood on the cabriolet pictured here.The 2-series coupé and cabriolet are based around the same mechanical package as the second-generation 1-series hatchback, alongside which they will be produced at BMW's Leipzig factory in Germany. Key among the changes is the adoption of a modified platform. It uses a 30mm longer wheelbase and supports front and rear tracks that have been extended by a significant 55mm and 60mm respectively. It has also been engineered to support both standard rear- and optional four-wheel drive.Among the engines set to power the new 2-series are turbocharged 1.6- and 2.0-litre four-cylinder direct-injection petrol and 2.0-litre four-cylinder common rail diesels together with a turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder, which in range-topping form is expected to provide a 235i M Performance range topper with 320bhp.

Happy landings: how to jump a rally car

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 04:00 AM PST

What goes up must come down. So how do rally drivers tackle a jump and how do cars survive it? We find out

Blame Bullitt and The Dukes of Hazzard, but most self-respecting petrolheads love to see a car flying through the air, all four wheels off the ground. For rally drivers, launching into a low-altitude orbit is as much part of their skill set as executing a perfect handbrake turn.

On jumps like Colin's Crest on the snow-covered roads of Sweden, and Yellow House on the famous Ouninpohja stage in Finland, professional drivers really earn their crust, hitting the crests at 100mph, flying for more than 40 metres and somehow remaining in control as their car crashes back to earth.

But behind the madness there is method. Jumping a rally car is more than disengaging your imagination and flooring the throttle.

"A jump is a very technical situation where not all rally drivers can really evaluate what is going to happen when they land," says Mario Fornaris, Skoda Rally Team Italia Rally operations director and technical support at Skoda UK Motorsport.

"From a technical point of view, the first thing is to make sure the lower part of the car does not get destroyed when it is landing. The front underside of the car needs protection so that all the energy goes through specific reinforced points and then through the chassis, because that is really the strongest part of the car."

The team's engineers can also influence the Fabia's attitude during flight and ensure that it lands smoothly by altering the set-up.

"With damper settings, we can partly control the angle the car adopts when it takes off," says Fornaris. "Probably the most important thing is to assess how much energy we need to absorb from the landing through the dampers. We can calculate this from the height of the jump and the mass of the car, and with some equations we can decide how hard the dampers must be and how progressive they must be to be able to absorb all the energy before reaching the bump stop, when all the damper stroke is used. Then in testing we can validate the calculations.

"The driver can influence the jump angle too. By braking a little bit just before the jump or accelerating and lifting, he can partly choose if the car is going to land with all four wheels together or first on the front wheels or first on the rear wheels."

Cars built to Super 2000 specification tend to be quite capable over jumps because the technical regulations allow for plenty of suspension travel.

"The Fabia itself is very good," says Fornaris. "Due to its weight balance, the natural tendency of the car is to fly in a flat and even way, so it has not been difficult to tune it [for rally jumps]."

Skoda UK driver Andreas Mikkelsen says jumps are one of the most challenging aspects of any event. "I might not know if the crest is going to be a jump or not; I am just following the pacenotes," he says. "And from the recce, we don't always know if a crest will mean a big jump, small jump or no jump. It can be hard to anticipate. In fact, that is one of the worst feelings in a rally car: when you take off where you weren't expecting it. Something that looks small on the recce can kick up, and then you really know it is going to hurt."

With the Fabia's seats set low in the car to optimise the centre of gravity, even six-footer Mikkelsen says jumps are a voyage into the unknown.

"I sit so low that I can't see so much over crests," he explains. "In fact, if you watch on-board video footage, you'll often see me tilt my head up a little as I approach a crest, as if I'm trying to look up and see over.

"Even then, I am concentrating on getting the line right – not what's to come once I am in the air, but how to make sure we take off on exactly the right line. It's no good just hoping you hit a crest right, because if you get it wrong, you'd better prepare for something crazy when you land."

Remarkably, Mikkelsen's navigator, Ola Fløene, admits that he can't always tell whether the car has even left the ground because he's concentrating so hard on calling the pacenotes. Makes you wonder if that might be for the best…

Three of the longest rally jumps:

Sébastian Loeb - Rally of Turkey, April 2010: 85 metres

Evgeny Novikov - Rally of Finland, August 2009: 66 metres

Markko Märtin -  Rally of Finland, August 2003: 57 metres

Renault-Nissan increases Lada stake

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 03:45 AM PST

New joint venture allows Renault-Nissan to take majority stake in Russian's largest car maker Avtovaz

The Renault-Nissan Alliance has acquired a majority shareholding in Russia's largest car maker Avtovaz.

The deal to takeover Avtovaz, better known as Lada, has been done through a new joint venture between Renault-Nissan and the Russian Technologies State Corporation.

Renault-Nissan is to invest £461 million into the deal, acquiring 67.13 per cent of the joint venture, which will hold 74.5 per cent of Avtovaz.

"The joint venture will help accelerate our Russian market offensive. It will support the competitiveness of Avtovaz, Russia's auto industry leader," said Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of Renault-Nissan.

The joint venture is hoping to have a manufacturing capacity of at least 1.7 million cars in Russia by 2016. Production will take place at a new facility in Togliatti – which is already producing the Lada Largus and Nissan Almera – as well as further sites in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Izhevsk.

The Renault-Nissan alliance sold 878,990 cars in Russia in 2011, 578,387 of which were Ladas – a market share of almost 33 per cent.

Daljinder Nagra

First drive review: Audi RS5 cabriolet

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 02:03 AM PST

The Audi RS5 cabriolet has undeniable appeal, but the drop-top M3 is still our choice Well, it's got four seats, four-wheel drive, 444bhp and a fabric roof. Only quattro GmbH could possibly assemble that kind of heavyweight concoction: that's right, it's the RS5 cabriolet, the new £68,960 A5 range-topper.With BMW's 4-series line-up destined to land next year, it's probably appropriate that Audi has offered up a musclebound reminder as to why its major rival decided the differentiated badging was necessary in the first place.The three-door A5 has proved a major coup, and even if the alfresco RS5 is unlikely to add much to the overall sales volume, it's a potent halo to have in the showroom.Inevitably it shares much with the coupé variant. The high-revving 4.2-litre V8 engine remains up front, still shackled to the seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The union, in conjunction with a launch control program and the familiar, highly sophisticated quattro all-wheel-drive system, delivers a brusque 0-62mph time of 4.9sec.Up top the roof has made way for a lightweight, triple-layered soft top that, up to 31mph, can be shed in 15 seconds or almost as swiftly lowered in 17. Impressively, the hood only requires 60 litres of boot space to stow, meaning there's a class-leading 320 litres left to brim with clutter.

Radical launches Le Mans-inspired road car

Posted: 11 Dec 2012 04:01 PM PST

Road biased RXC features Ford-sourced 3.7-litre V6 and 422bhp per tonne

Radical has announced its most road-biased model yet – a 175mph two-seater that the Peterborough sports car company describes as "a Le Mans-inspired racer for the road".

The Radical Xtreme Coupé, or RXC, is powered by a Ford-built 3.7-litre V6 engine producing 380bhp at 6750rpm and 320lb ft at 4250rpm.

Road and race versions are being built and, like Radical's previous street-legal offering, the SR3 SL, European type approval is being sought. This will allow Radical to sell the car across the EU, where its models have proved popular.

While the race car will be eligible to compete in international GT and sportscar championships, Radical hopes the road-going RXC will be used for "road trips, trackdays and race weekends".

The coupé weighs just 900kg, giving it a power-to-weight ratio of 422bhp per tonne and a 0-62mph time of 2.8sec. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a seven-speed Quaife gearbox with paddle shifters.

The RXC is Radical's longest and widest model to date, measuring 4300mm long, 1960mm wide and 1127mm high. The body is made up of composite body sections, under which lies a tubular steel spaceframe with FIA-spec front and rear crash structures and double wishbone suspension front and rear.

A full-width carbonfibre bi-plane rear wing and front and rear diffusers mean the RXC can produce 900kg of downforce at maximum speed.

The RXC features gullwing doors, power steering and air conditioning, as well as an adjustable steering wheel and pedal box and a heated front screen. Race-specification Corbeau seats with six-point harnesses are also fitted.

Braking is via six-pot calipers with 330mm discs at the front and 310mm discs at the rear, although carbon-ceramic discs will be an option. The road variant of the RXC rides on 17-inch wheels and tyres.

A race version of the RXC will be unveiled during the Autosport International show at Birmingham NEC on 10 January, with the type-approved road car scheduled to go on sale next summer at a launch price of £89,500.

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