Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Quick news: New V6 for Mercedes CLS; Cadillac ELR to be built in Detroit

Posted: 18 Dec 2012 06:38 AM PST

Cadillac invests $35 million into ELR production, BMW admits it needs its i brand to meet CO2 targets and the Mercedes CLS range gets a new twin-turbo V6

A new 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine will be added to the Mercedes-Benz CLS, CLS Shooting Brake and next-gen S-class ranges in the UK next year. The 328bhp twin-turbo unit will go in models badged CLS400 and S400. It makes its debut in the facelifted E-class, but this model will not reach the UK. Another E-class not for sale here is the all-wheel-drive E63 AMG 4Matic.

The Cadillac ELR range-extended coupé will be built at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck plant alongside the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera. GM is to invest $35m in the plant. The Volt/Ampera-based model will go on sale in late 2013.

It is "not possible" for BMW to hit its CO2 targets without its electric i sub-brand, but BMW Group boss Harold Kruger said he doesn't know what percentage of its sales will be EVs by 2020 because of uncertainty on how the market will react. "We don't have a crystal ball," he said.

Return of the Trolleybus

Posted: 18 Dec 2012 05:18 AM PST

Not content with having inspired a new London bus, Hilton Holloway argues the case for turning it into a trolley bus

Five years ago, in the 2007 Christmas issue, Autocar commissioned an engineering proposal for a new-generation Routemaster bus. We thought it was time that old-fashioned buses, using commercial vehicle technology, were brought up to date. They needed to be slicker, more appealing and far less polluting.

Boris Johnson liked the idea. When he became mayor, he commissioned a design competition for a new bus. The result was an electrically driven, range-extender hybrid double-decker with three doors and two staircases. Last year we drove the final production version of the New Bus 4 London (NB4L), designed and manufactured by Wrightbus.

With 600 of the new buses recently ordered, we thought we might build on that success by suggesting the next step in the updating of the UK's miserable inner-city public transport network. It's time to bring back the electrically driven trolley bus.

Although hybrid buses are much better in terms of air pollution (the NB4L's engine/generator is nearly half the size of a typical bus engine), high bus density and busy, narrow streets concentrate the problem. Oxford Street is an extreme example. It has an estimated 200 million visitors per year, who have to fight with 300 buses per hour.

The biggest problem for Edinburgh – and any other city that wants a tram network – is the massive cost of digging down into the road and moving all the underground services. It is estimated at £80m per mile just to lay the track. The cost for doing the same on 1.5 miles of Oxford Street can only be imagined.

This is where the trolley bus comes in. Although it takes power from overhead cables, it is otherwise a normal bus, running on the existing road surface. And because the NB4L is a series hybrid (it has an engine/generator that is not connected to the wheels), it could be converted remarkably easily to become a trolley bus.

The answer to Oxford Street's woes – and many other unattractive shopping centres around the UK – is pedestrianisation and the replacement of the regular buses with a trolley bus shuttle service running between the new Crossrail station at Tottenham Court Road in the east and Marble Arch in the west.

The overhead power wires could be contained on a central pylon system, so the shuttle trolley buses run parallel, close to the centre of the road. The NB4L's three doors and two staircases mean that getting people on and off would be a swift process. The unobstructed route would also allow the bus to brake entirely on its motors, eliminating the tiny particles given off from the pads and discs by friction braking. The result would be public transport that is not only free of any kind of air pollution, particulates or noise pollution but is also hugely cheaper than a tram.

Ironically, trolley buses were a common site around the UK until the early 1960s, when they were forced off the road by diesel buses. It seems increasingly likely that they are now the clean-air future for many of the UK's bigger towns and cities.

See Autocar's Christmas double issue for the full story, on sale tomorrow. 

As ever, the magazine is available from all good newsagents, or available for download from Zinio or the Apple iTunes store.

Autocar's top 10 videos of 2012

Posted: 18 Dec 2012 04:01 AM PST

Autocar's videos are noisy, technicolour and unconventional. And the only place where you'll find a Subaru more popular than an Aston

Who would have thought that a Golf could be more popular than a Ferrari? Or a Subaru than an Aston? Welcome to unconventional world of Autocar's top ten videos. It's a noisy, technicolour place that perfectly compliments the carefully crafted prose you'll find in these pages.

Below you will find our countdown of the most viewed videos on in 2012, some more surprising than others. Just scan the QR code below to view the videos online.

BMW M5 vs Nissan GT-R

Both have around 550bhp, cost nearly £75k and promise brutal performance. So which one wins our series of tests?

Porsche 911 video review

Steve Sutcliffe tests the new 991 Porsche 911 Carrera 2S on his favourite road

Aston Martin One-77 exclusive video feature

Aston's chief engineer drives the One-77 hypercar flat-out with Steve Cropley in the passenger seat

Volkswagen Golf Mk7 video review

The most important real-world car of 2012 goes under the spotlight

Skoda Fabia rally car vs Noble M600

Find out whether the 650bhp Noble M600 can compete with a 265bhp Skoda Fabia S2000

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta driven on road and track

Is 730bhp too much for a rear-wheel drive supercar? Matt Saunders finds out in the new £240k Ferrari F12

Pagani Huayra video review

Can the new £666k Pagani Huayra better the standards set by the outstanding Zonda?

Subaru BRZ video review

What does Subaru's rear-drive coupe offer over its Toyota-badged equivalent, the GT86?

New Aston Martin Vanquish test

The new Aston Martin Vanquish costs £190k and is powered by a 565bhp 6.0-litre V12 engine. We ride shotgun in hot-weather testing

New Range Rover secrets revealed

The long wait is over. Hear about what to expect of the all-new Mk4 Range Rover, and see the car in detail

My personal European Car of the Year shortlist

Posted: 18 Dec 2012 03:41 AM PST

The nominees for this year's European Car of the Year award are all very worthy, but there are some notable absentees

As one miserable individual among 58 European Car of the Year jurors from 22 countries, I always find it a bit nerve-wracking at this time of the year to compare my choice of seven finalists for the latest competition with those of my peers.

Most years I disagree with the combined judgement to some degree, but this year I've set a personal record by getting only three out of seven finalists 'right', as it were. You'll have seen the combined choice by now: Ford B-Max, Hyundai i30, Mercedes A-class, Peugeot 208, Renault Clio, Toyota GT86/Subaru BRZ, Volkswagen Golf and Volvo V40. There are actually eight of them – a rare occurrence, because two seventh-placed cars (whose identity we're not allowed to know) scored an identical number of nominations.

This year I only agreed with my peers over their choice of the Clio, GT86/BRZ and Golf. My four that didn't make it were the BMW 3-series, Mazda 6, Renault Zoe and Range Rover. 'Their' five that did are the B-Max, i30, A-class, 208 and V40 – yet I have to say the final list still looks pretty good, apart from what I see as a normal COTY preoccupation with low-value cars.

In particular, I'm sorry about the Range Rover. It is such a special vehicle that it richly deserved recognition. Ditto the 3-series, which so brilliantly combines efficiency with performance. Nothing at the money delivers the way the latest 320d does. It's also a shame about the Zoe, given that COTY has been pretty good at recognising hybrid and electric cars (Nissan's Leaf was last year's winner) and the Zoe takes the breed somewhere new. And the Mazda 6 – another highly efficient big car courtesy of SkyActiv technology – is the first-ever Mazda that feels honest-to-God sophisticated.

The winner? Strikes me the shoe-in is the Golf, a brilliant yet entirely mainstream car that is practically all things to practically all men. But don't take any notice of me. So far in this competition I've only been 42.9 per cent right. So it's probably still pretty open. We'll know for real on 4 March, the day before the Geneva motor show starts.

Cholmondeley Pageant of Power dates announced

Posted: 18 Dec 2012 02:58 AM PST

Sixth annual performance exhibition scheduled for 14-16 June

The 2013 Cholmondeley Pageant of Power will take place on the 14-16 June at the Cholmondeley estate in Cheshire.

Now in its sixth year, the annual pageant promises to be more interactive than ever. On show will be a large collection of supercars, race and rally car, superbikes and helicopters, as well as an aerial display.

'Noise' will be a notable theme of the event, with a number of 'noise-off' battles between performance machinery, both classic and modern. Free earplugs will be given away with tickets bought before April.

"The Pageant has firmly established a reputation as a must-attend event and we've witnessed growing numbers every year since its inception," said James Hall, event director at the Pageant.

"With such a large and varied collection of machinery on show for crowds this year, attendees will be hard-pressed to find a more evocative range of sights and sounds anywhere in the UK."

Tickets bought before 1 April cost £20 with children entering free.

Daljinder Nagra

Infiniti to change naming structure

Posted: 18 Dec 2012 02:20 AM PST

Infiniti models to get new hierarchical naming structure from 2014

Infiniti is to change how it names its cars, with each model in the range getting a letter and number designation based on its body type and place in the line-up.

Saloon and convertible models will get a Q prefix, with SUVs branded QX.

Under the new naming convention, which will be used from 2014, the M saloon becomes the Q70 and the G series coupé and convertible become Q60.

The new G series saloon, which is tipped to make its debut at next year's Detroit motor show, will take the name Q50.

The EX and FX SUVs become QX50 and QX70 respectively. The JX and QX SUVs, which are not on sale in the UK, are designated QX60 and QX80.

Infiniti says that the change in naming strategy is in reference to the Q45, the company's first car.

It is hoping that that change will bring greater clarity to a range, which, Infiniti says is going to see significant growth in the coming years.

Daljinder Nagra

Autocar magazine 19 December Christmas double issue preview

Posted: 18 Dec 2012 01:00 AM PST

In the Christmas double of Autocar: world exclusive road test of the Mitsubishi i-Miev Pikes Peak Hillclimb racer, a look back at 2012 and what's on the horizon in 2013 — and the hot hatch world cup. Plus we pitch a Nissan Leaf against a horse

The special 188-page Autocar double issue goes on sale this Wednesday, mixing celebrations of the year gone by with the year's biggest collection of news, features and new and used-car buying advice.

The centrepiece is a 20-page retrospective on the best cars our road test department has driven all year, followed by the results of our readers' poll for their car of the year.

James Ruppert also makes a special appearance in our 14-page Used Cars for Christmas buying guide. Donning a slightly shabby Santa suit, James steers buyers towards the most fun cars money can buy for every budget from £500 upwards.

We also host the Hot Hatch World Cup, with Andrew Frankel as referee. The competition pits the best hot hatches of all time in one competition, and the best of the current breed together in another, with the two finalists then going head-to-head in a winner-takes-all showdown. Star cars include the Peugeot 205 GTI, Volkswagen Golk GTI Mk1, Lancia Delta Integrale, Ford Focus RS Mk1, Renaultsport Clio, BMW M135i, Ford Focus ST and Mini Cooper S.

The traditional Christmas road test takes on a series note this year, as we travel to Japan for a world exclusive test drive in the Mitsubishi i-Miev Pikes Peak Hillclimb racer. As well as being stunningly fast, this electric racer gives clues to the technology lined up for the all-new and radically different next generation Mitsubishi Evo.

As ever, Colin Goodwin is on hand to raise smiles as he ponders more than a century of automotive advances by twin testing a Nissan Leaf with a horse and carriage. Bag of carrots at the ready, he's shocked to find that the speediest horses could get him from London to Brighton faster than the electric car, once charging (or feeding) times are taken inechto account.

Goodwin has also been gallivanting around the world in search of a man who describes himself as "one of the slowest F1 drivers ever". Over a few pints in a Monaco bar, 1990s racer Taki Inoue reveals to Goodwin how he made it in to the upper echelon of motorsport, and how he managed to wheel and deal to stay there.

Our annual long-term test fleet review also sheds invaluable light on the best cars we've driven during the course of the year, with Autocar staff picking the best for a variety of categories including best for a B-road thrash, best for a long-distance drive and best for use in the city.

Other highlights among the jam-packed issue include our favourite photography of the year, a light-hearted look at what won't happen in 2013 in our Almanac, highlights and behind-the-scene stories from the year's magazines and website stories, an investigation into why trolley buses could be the answer to inner city pollution problems, a visit to Britan's newest motorway service station, a kart showdown between road test editor Matt Prior and a 16-year-old rising star of the sport, Steve Cropley's top ten heroes of the year, and a profile of the would-be heroes of 2013, the Mission Motorsport team of injured servicemen taking on the Dakar Rally.

We also have all the latest first drive reviews, including the new Ford Kuga, the Skoda Octavia, a Vauxhall Adam with a revised, UK-specific steering arrangement and the Dacia Sandero Stepway. News highlights include first details on the upcoming BMW 5-series rival being planned by Porsche, full details on the BMW M6 GranCoupé and the latest information on the new Range Rover Sport.

As ever, the magazine is available from all good newsagents, or available for download from Zinio or the Apple iTunes store.

First drive review: Ford Kuga 2.0i TDCi AWD Titanium

Posted: 17 Dec 2012 04:00 PM PST

Kuga gets practicality, quality and refinement to match impressive car-like handling. If you like your 4x4s sporty, look no further The new Ford Kuga SUV. And there's a real sense of gravitas about it, which speaks volumes about the seriousness of Ford of Europe's approach to the growing SUV segment. Within three years, the Blue Oval is aiming to dominate the sales charts here, booting the likes of Toyota, Honda and Nissan over towards the margins. And while it isn't the only new model intended to deliver that success, this mid-sized 4x4 will be a vital prong in the attack, alongside the 2014 Ecosport supermini SUV and the larger Edge, which will also come to Europe.Responsibility rests on the shoulders of this car, then, and while it may have done for some of the compact distinctiveness of the original Kuga, it's also brought with it new-found quality, refinement, practicality and value.

2013 BMW Z4 revealed

Posted: 17 Dec 2012 03:00 PM PST

A new 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine joins the refreshed BMW Z4 line-up

A new entry-level sDrive18i has joined the BMW Z4 line-up as part of a series of mid-life changes to the roadster.

Power for the model comes from a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine producing 154bhp and 177lb ft. That is enough to propel the six-speed manual sDrive18i from 0-62mph in 7.9sec and on to 137mph. Combined fuel economy is rated at 41.5mpg, with CO2 emissions of 159g/km.

An optional eight-speed automatic is also offered.

The engines in the other Z4 models - sDrive20i, sDrive28i, sDrive35i and sDrive35is - continue unchanged.

Cosmetically, the changes to the facelifted roadster are minor, the revised LED headlights being the stand-out change. New alloy wheel options are offered, while there are minor exterior trim detailing changes.

Other changes include the option of a new Design Pure Traction styling pack, which adds contrasting black and orange trim to the cabin. The interior also features new gloss black trim for the air vent and iDrive surrounds as standard. Leather trim is also standard for the sDrive28i models and above, with a Fineline Anthracite wood finish available as an option.

The M Sport package - comprising bespoke suspension settings, alloy wheels and exterior and interior trim - is again offered, with a more focused version of this pack available on the sDrive35is range-topper.

The revised Z4 is due to reach the UK in April.

Bentley Continental GT3 to be developed by M-Sport

Posted: 17 Dec 2012 09:42 AM PST

WRC specialist M-Sport will co-develop Bentley's GT3 racer

The Bentley Continental GT3 racer will be co-developed with Malcolm Wilson's M-Sport team. 

M-Sport will assist with the design of a number of the GT3's specialist components, but the project management will be carried out in-house by a newly formed team at Bentley's Crewe HQ.

WRC specialist M-Sport will also "offer focused technical expertise" as Bentley prepares an assault on the GT3 stage. The car is to make its first on-track appearance by the end of 2013. The race car will make its UK debut at the Autosport show in January.

M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson said: "Bentley's design and analysis work to date has shown that the Continental GT road car can become an extremely competitive race car, and we are looking forward to capitalising on our extensive competition car development experience and success to help Bentley realise its goals."

European Car of the Year finalists shortlisted

Posted: 17 Dec 2012 06:45 AM PST

Eight models make the final cut for the 2013 Car of the Year

The Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT86 has been nominated for the coveted European Car of the Year award. The only sports car to be shortlisted, the BRZ was praised for its entertaining driving experience.

Eight cars are up for the prize – up from the usual seven due to close competition – for the first time since 2007. The finalists are:

Ford B-Max

Hyundai i30

Mercedes-Benz A-class

Peugeot 208

Renault Clio

Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT86

Volkswagen Golf

Volvo V40

The Vauxhall Ampera/Chevrolet Volt was awarded the prize last year, despite facing strong competition from the Volkswagen Up! and third generation Ford Focus. The judges were particularly impressed with the car's range-extending hybrid technology, the first time such a system had been seen on a production car.

The winner of European Car of the Year 2013 will be announced on 4 March.

Daljinder Nagra

Development work underway for 2015 Land Rover Freelander

Posted: 17 Dec 2012 03:13 AM PST

Chassis testing marks beginning of the project to replace Freelander 2 with an all-new model

Land Rover engineers have started work on the new Freelander 3, as these spy shots of the Evoque-based mule show. The longer wheelbase and increased ride height reveal this as an early engineering prototype, probably being used to test new suspension components and suspension geometry.

The Freelander is currently the Land Rover marque's best-selling model. It was launched in its current form in 2006 and given a mild makeover for 2013. The third-gen model is expected to go on sale in early 2015. It promises to be a significant step forward from the current Freelander, offering greater wading depth, better interior packaging and improved boot space.

The new Freelander is based on the same LR-MS platform as the Evoque. It was developed from the Ford EUCD platform that underpins the current Freelander, although Land Rover says 90 per cent of the parts are new.

The Freelander 3's wheelbase is expected to be more than 150mm longer than the Evoque's and is expected to open the way for a seven-seat version. It will be fitted with JLR's all-new, super-frugal 'Hotfire' four-cylinder engines, which will be built at a new plant near Wolverhampton.

The new Freelander is expected to be made from a mixture of materials, with nearly all of the platform and upper body made from high-strength steel. The roof and bonnet will be aluminium and the front wings and tailgate are likely to be made from composites.

The entry-level, front-wheel-drive Freelander 3 is expected to have a CO2 rating of as little as 119g/km.

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