Saturday, December 8, 2012

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

First drive review: Infiniti FX Vettel Edition

Posted: 08 Dec 2012 01:00 AM PST

Quirky and appealing as it is, the FX Vettel Edition couldn't match its competitors, even if it wasn't absurdly priced The Infiniti FX is not subtle. It will only ever appeal to those who are after something interesting, lavish and attention-seeking. So when Infiniti made the decision to make a special edition in honour of Red Bull Racing Formula 1 star Sebastian Vettel, it made sense that this should be the vessel for it.Only 150 of these limited-edition FXs will be produced by Infiniti, and a mere 15 of those will be available in right-hand drive, so it certainly has the rarity factor. Naturally, the Vettel Edition is only available with the company's lairiest powertrain, in the form of the 5.0-litre V8 and seven-speed automatic transmission usually found in the FX50.

Suzuki unveils revised Grand Vitara

Posted: 07 Dec 2012 09:23 AM PST

Suzuki updates aging SUV to keep up with its mid-sized 4x4 competition

The Suzuki Grand Vitara range has given a subtle makeover, with a revised diesel engine and updates to both the exterior and interior styling among the changes.

The 127bhp 1.9-litre DDiS diesel engine has been retuned for improved fuel economy and lower emissions, and now produces 174g/km of CO2 and returns 42.8mpg on the combined cycle. The improvements mean that the 1.9 Grand Vitara has dropped a VED class to band H. The switchable four-wheel drive system remains.

New seat trims are offered across the range. The SZ5 models now come with a 6.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth and Garmin-powered sat nav as part of a series of upgrades.

Changes to the exterior are mostly cosmetic with a more angular design for the front bumper and grille and new alloy wheels. Updated Grand Vitara models also get a 16-inch space-saver spare wheel fitted to the rear door.

The refreshed Suzuki Grand Vitara is available to order now, ahead of customer deliveries early next year.

Matthew Burrow

Nissan Juke Nismo prices confirmed

Posted: 07 Dec 2012 09:15 AM PST

Sporty crossover the first of a new range of Nismo-tuned models

The new Nissan Juke Nismo will cost from £19,995 when it arrives in the UK early next year.

Originally unveiled at September's Paris motor show, the Juke is the first Nismo-badged product for Europe, and will usher in a range of Nissan vehicles tuned by the famed Nismo performance division.

The Juke Nismo uses a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, developing 197bhp and 184lb ft. It is available in front and four-wheel-drive configurations, with a choice of six-speed manual or CVT automatic transmissions.

With this new engine, the Juke will get from 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 134mph.

Despite the increased performance over the standard 187bhp 1.6-litre Juke DIG-T Tekna on which the Nismo model is based, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions remain the same at 40.9mpg and 159g/km respectively.

Chassis settings have been revised, with the Juke sitting on 10 per cent stiffer springs and having revised damper settings for improved traction.

The Juke Nismo is externally identified by a sporty body kit, unique 18-inch alloy wheels, Nismo front grille and the company's signature red door mirror housings.

Inside, suede-finished sports seats are matched by an Alcantara steering wheel. Black trim detailing and Nismo door plates complete the makeover.

The Juke Nismo is available in three colours: Storm White, Pearl Black and Blade Silver.

Order books for the Juke Nismo open in January, with the first customers cars expected for delivery in March.

Daljinder Nagra

First drive review: Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

Posted: 07 Dec 2012 06:57 AM PST

Porsche won't admit it, but this Panamera Sport Turismo estate will go on sale in 2016 as a highly desirable alternative to the Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake and BMW 6-series Gran Coupé The head-turning Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo, which, officially at least, is still a concept. After all, why would Porsche build a road-going concept of a car it has regularly hinted at and revealed to the public if it hadn't already made a solid case for production?The Panamera Sport Turismo drips with desirability. It is truly handsome, boasting terrifically low, wide and squat proportions, with a long bonnet, tapered glasshouse and muscular haunches.The surfaces are tautly wrapped and full of intriguing feature lines to break up the visual bulk. At 4950mm long, 1990mm wide and 1401mm high, the concept is 20mm shorter, 60mm wider and 19mm lower than the existing four-door Panamera – dimensions expected to be retained for the production model. The wheels are 20-inch up front and 21-inch at the rear. It is, remember, a concept, after all…The exquisite detailing stands out: the elliptical headlights, the thrusting side design feature and the slim three-dimensional rear lights help to enhance the car's width. In a nod to the future, door mirrors have been replaced by cameras within the air ducts, with images projected into the outer edges of the instrument binnacle. The fully functioning concept also showcases a new plug-in hybrid drive system, dubbed e-hybrid. It uses a more powerful version of the existing Panamera Hybrid's brushless synchronous electric motor, mounted within the forward section of the gearbox housing and delivering 94bhp. It is supported by the same supercharged 328bhp 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine used today.Together, the electric motor and petrol engine provide the big estate with a combined output of 410bhp –sufficient to propel it from 0-62mph in less than a claimed six seconds, while providing combined fuel consumption of "better than" 80.7mpg and CO2 emissions below 82g/km. A 9.4kWh lithium ion battery mounted low in the boot floor replaces the nickel-hydride unit in the current Panamera Hybrid, and features plug-in compatibility.Porsche claims an all-electric range of 18.6 miles at up to 81mph – values that are likely to be reflected on a facelifted version of the existing Panamera. It will be the first to adopt the new driveline. No wild pipe dream, then, but a genuine production-based driveline.There's a contemporary look to the cabin and inviting, iPad-like simplicity to the dashboard and centre console – both of which mimic the look of the 918 Spyder. There is little to complain about in the cabin of the existing Panamera, but its controls are dauntingly cluttered around the driver. The Sport Turismo showcases a simpler touchscreen system tipped to feature on future models. The layout gives an organised feel from behind the beautifully proportioned steering wheel, while leather and aluminium trims provide an upmarket ambience. Accommodation up front feels little changed from today's Panamera. The rear is a bit more cramped because of the concept's pair of large individual seats, while more cargo capacity is afforded by the more upright rear end. Porsche won't yet reveal figures but there's likely to be at least 500 litres – a 55-litre improvement on the liftback.

First drive review: Mitsubishi Mirage 3 1.2

Posted: 07 Dec 2012 04:06 AM PST

Good value and very efficient, but the driving experience is not for enthusiasts Forget the Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo. I know, you know, eveyone knows, they're the best superminis in the class: pleasing to drive, pleasing to sit in. But some people don't really care. Ride and handling? Perceived quality? Surprise and delight and touchy-feely design? Not interested. They want value, space, some kit, low running costs and the peace of mind they perceive comes with a car from the Far East.Here, for those people, is the Mitsubishi Mirage. It replaces the Colt, on sale since 2004 and, you might remember, a car that shared a platform with the badge-engineered Smart Forfour. There's nothing like that this time around. The Mirage is as far removed from the Forfour or, say, the likes of a Fiat 500 or Vauxhall Adam, as it gets. It's basic, unpretentious, good value and heroically efficient: Mitsubishi says it's the first car range on sale in the UK whose every variant emits less than 100g/km of CO2.Mostly that's down to lightweight engineering and neat packaging. The Mirage is just 3710mm long (yet seats four adults comfortably and has a 235-litre boot) and is claimed to weigh, remarkably, just 845kg in base 1.0-litre form.

Picture special: History of the Maserati Quattroporte

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 07:01 AM PST

2013 is the 50th anniversary of the Maserati Quattroporte, and is being heralded by the introduction of a brand new edition. We take the opportunity to revisit the five models that have gone before it

Maserati gave birth to the first Italian sports saloon in 1963. Next year, the firm will launch its sixth incarnation of Quattroporte.

In the early sixties, Maserati had seen commercial success with its 3500GT coupé. Buyers were drawn to the looks and the performance and expressed interested in a four door version.

The Aga Khan commissioned Pietro Frua to design a one-off version of the 5000GT. Frua used this as inspiration for the four door sporting saloon that would become the Quattroporte. It was Maserati's first four door car and was the fastest saloon of the era.

The Quattroporte was able to carry four passengers in comfort up to a claimed top speed of nearly 140mph. It had a 4.1-litre V8 engine which was later upgraded to a 4.7-litre unit in 1966, pushing the top speed to 158mph.

In 1968, Citroën took over Maserati, intending to absorb the firm's sporting know-how and add it to its models. The second Quattroporte was designed and set to go on sale in 1974, but never emerged.

The Quattroporte II was built on the Citroën SM chassis and featured a 3.0-litre V6 that produced 190bhp. It struggled to shift the heft of the Bertone body work and couldn't match Maserati's sporting pedigree.

In 1974 a bankrupt Citroën was taken over by Peugeot who divested Maserati a year later. This meant that the Quattroporte II never went on sale in Europe as the car could not get EEC approval. Only 13 were made, five of which are thought to survive today.

After the break up of Citroën and Maserati, Alejandro de Tomaso took over Maserati from Peugeot. In 1979 the third Quattroporte was released.

The Quattroporte featured a 4.1-litre V8, rear wheel drive and a lavish interior. A 4.9-litre 280bhp was later added to the range and in 1986 a Royale edition was built, earning the nickname the "Italian Rolls Royce".

Maserati changed hands again in July 1993. Fiat took over and released a new Quattroporte in 1994.

The car was, in essence, a saloon version of the Biturbo coupé. Three engines were available, a 2.0-litre, a 2.8-litre and a 3.2-litre. Most buyers opted for the mid range 2.8.

Ferrari bought 50 per cent of Maserati from Fiat in 1997 and continued the trend of updating the Quattroporte whenever the company changed hands by releasing updated models badged Evoluzione.

In 1999 Ferrari took complete control of Maserati. The fifth iteration of the Quattroporte was released in 2004. Designed by Pininfarina and known for its nimble handling, it was different from other luxury saloons at the time. It was released with a 4.2-litre engine that propelled the saloon from 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds and to a maximum speed of 167mph. The face-lifted model was released in 2009 with a 4.7-litre V8 engine.

The latest Quattroporte has grown to compete with rivals' luxury saloons. Both rear legroom and boot space have increased, while Ferrari has designed two new engines for the sports saloon – a 3.0-litre V6 producing 407bhp and a 3.8-litre V8 with 523bhp, both turbo-charged, a first for the Quattroporte. The V8 races to 62mph in 4.7 seconds and tops out at 191mph.

The sixth version goes on sale in the UK in June 2013.

Matthew Burrow

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