Friday, January 25, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Peugeot prices 208 GTi at £18,895

Posted: 25 Jan 2013 07:34 AM PST

Sales of new hot hatch begin in March

Peugeot has announced the price of its new 208 GTi, which will cost from £18,895 when it goes on sale in March. That makes the new hot hatch, which is being touted by Peugeot as a genuine successor to the 205 GTi, £2000 more than Ford's £16,995 Fiesta ST but on a par with rivals such as Seat's Ibiza Cupra.

The 208 GTi gets a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine with 200bhp, 20bhp more than the Ford and 203lb ft, 11lb ft less than the Fiesta produces on overboost. It will reach 62mph in 6.8 seconds and CO2 output is 139g/km. 

Standard equipment includes a digital radio, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting and parking sensors. Production of the car will begin in April. 

Land Rover Freelander 3 - latest spy pics

Posted: 25 Jan 2013 04:00 AM PST

Forthcoming Land Rover Freelander 3 caught winter testing wearing Evoque bodywork disguise

These are the latest images of the Forthcoming Land Rover Freelander 3, which has been spotted cold weather testing wearing Evoque bodywork.

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.

Audi's A3 saloon spied testing

Posted: 25 Jan 2013 03:07 AM PST

Audi's new four door A3 sheds more of its disguise

Audi's new A3 saloon will go on sale at the end of this year, and this is our best look yet at the car, seen here testing with minimal disguise.

Although aimed at the US and China, where small saloons outsell hatches, Audi wants the A3 saloon to appeal to younger buyers in Europe and to help the A3 range become the brand's second biggest seller, after the A4.

It will also provide Audi with a rival for the new Mercedes CLA saloon and BMW's 1-series saloon, as the three brands step up the fight for the lower end of the premium market. An increase in length over the A3 hatch will help to make up for the boot space lost by turning the car into a saloon.

The A3 saloon will also be the basis for a hot S3 version, likely to look much like the concept car from the 2011 Geneva motor show. It will use the drivetrain and suspension from the current S3 hatch, and will be revealed at the Shanghai motor show in April.

Living up to your name in Formula 1

Posted: 25 Jan 2013 03:00 AM PST

A shareholder of Williams' F1 team has accepted a job as head of Mercedes Motorsport... Sometimes the plot in top-line motor racing is difficult to fathom

The last few days have seen a lot of confused reports about changes amongst the top engineering staff in Formula 1 – and it seems that no-one is quite sure what is happening.

From the outside this must seem rather odd, but the reality is that in the internet age things move so quickly that often the news in F1 has not fully happened before it is announced! Contracts may have been agreed, but they may not have been signed.

The leaks to the media are very often designed to torpedo what is happening, or simply to stir up trouble and destabilise the organisations involved, so one can read these as being part of the vicious F1 'Piranha Club' game.

For the media it is always hard to know the whys as well as the whats, and so the news comes out and everyone is left in a state of confusion.

The latest batch of confusing tales began when Toto Wolff, a Williams F1 shareholder, was appointed as the new head of Mercedes Motorsport. Wolff has long links with Mercedes and is deputy-chairman of HWA AG, which acts as a full service provider to Mercedes in the DTM and produces and services Mercedes Formula 3 racing engines.

This was followed almost immediately by reports that Wolff's arrival would mean the departure of Mercedes F1 team boss Ross Brawn, and that McLaren's technical director, Paddy Lowe, would be Brawn's replacement.

It then emerged that the ambitious Wolff had previously done a deal to take Lowe to Williams, before he landed the Mercedes job, but then convinced Paddy to go with him to Mercedes. This was swiftly followed by stories that McLaren would be taking Lotus F1's technical director, James Allison, to replace Lowe.

With Wolff living up to his name as a hungry and rather cunning operator, Lowe is keeping a profile that lives up to his name, while Brawn's response has been rather feisty. He was, he said, planning to be head of the team for a long time to come, although he added that he wanted to "see how things go" before he committed himself to the team for the long-term. Perhaps he would have lived up to his name better if he had been born in a family called Contradictory.

What does it all mean? There is no question that Wolff wants to have his own F1 team. He tried to get control of Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2007 when it looked as though Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz might sell the Italian operation. The plan was for a Mercedes 'B' team. Wolff then bought into Williams in the autumn of 2009, but it quickly became clear to him that there was no way he would be able to gain control of the British team while Frank Williams was still alive.

So he jumped at the chance of the Mercedes deal.

A relative newcomer to Formula 1, Wolff is there because Dieter Zetsche, the boss of Mercedes-Benz, seems to be hedging his bets. By putting the F1 programme in the hands of Wolff and agreeing terms to hand over some shares, it means that Mercedes can jump either way, depending on how things go in the future.

If the team is not a great success it can be quietly handed over to HWA and Mercedes can go back to being an engine suppler, which it did very well. If the team comes good then Mercedes can bang the drum about "the Silver Arrows" and get the publicity from the success.

Zetsche has thus created two options, which means that he has a solid defence if anyone challenges him about the company's F1 programme. This is important because on 6 February the supervisory board of Mercedes's parent Daimler AG will decide whether to renew his contract as the boss of the company until the end of 2018.

New Nismo models in discussion

Posted: 25 Jan 2013 01:00 AM PST

Forthcoming performance iterations aim to broaden Nismo brand's appeal

Nissan has promised "a number of Nismo models over a number of years" to follow the launch of its initial Juke Nismo and 370Z Nismo models.

Sales and marketing vice president Paul Wilcox said Nissan was committed to making Nismo an "accessible performance brand". "Any Nismo model won't offer excessive cost – we want to make our models affordable and appeal to a wide audience," he said. "We'll start with Juke and then launch into future models. Nissan has performance credentials."

Until now, Nismo has made high-performance specials and race cars for Nissan in Japan. Nismo chief Shoichi Miyatani said Nissan remained committed to making "strong models to appeal to motorsport fans", but added "this does not build a brand".

"These sorts of cars are fine for the top line, but the volumes are too small," he said. "We need to make Nismo accessible to appeal to younger and more female buyers."

Diesel Nismos are also possible in the future, but Nissan will initially concentrate on petrol-powered models. The firm didn't divulge which models are in line for the Nismo treatment, but an insider hinted that the next Qashqai was a target for the brand.

Seat Ibiza Cupra: first drive review

Posted: 24 Jan 2013 10:48 AM PST

Freshly revised for 2013, the Seat Ibiza Cupra is improved in a number of key areas, but disconnected steering spoils the fun The hottest of the current Seat Ibiza range, with the revisions introduced as part of last year's standard-car facelift applied. That means the new Seat Ibiza Cupra gets a fresh nose and rear lights and an interior spruce-up.Of more interest is this latest version of the Ibiza Cupra features a new engine management configuration which helps boost performance. The net result is a 0-62mph time reduced by 0.1sec to 6.9sec and a top speed raised by 2mph to 142mph. Running costs are also reduced, with the official combined fuel consumption figure improving to 47.9mpg – a 4.2mpg improvement – while a 9g/km drop in CO2 shoves the hot hatch down a tax band.The Navigon-developed Seat Portable system is now standard. The detachable navigation system also features integrated Bluetooth connectivity and a range of information displays.

First drive review: Citroën DS3 Cabrio 1.6 THP 155 DSport

Posted: 24 Jan 2013 08:42 AM PST

The stylish Citroën DS3 Cabrio takes on the Fiat 500C and Mini Convertible in a battle of the retractable soft-tops The Citroën DS3 Cabrio is the new rival to cars such as the Mini Convertible and Fiat 500C in the convertible hatchback market.A soft-top DS3 makes sense: with us Brits being such an optimistic bunch in spite of the climatic mayhem that ruins most summers, the UK remains one of the biggest European markets for convertibles, and Citroën's stylish DS range has been pretty successful here too.The DS3 Cabrio shares the 500C's 'sardine tin lid' style roof opening, in which the canvas roof concertinas back onto the rear quarters of the car at the push of a button.Although such a set-up is stretching the strict definition of a 'cabriolet', it also has merit from a technical perspective. More of the hard-top's structure remains than with a full convertible, so less chassis strengthening is required. The DS3 Cabrio has extra cross-bracing at the top of the boot space and weights within the rear overhang to counteract vibrations that are common in cabrio designs.Small styling tweaks differentiate the DS3 Cabrio from its hard-top sibling. There is a new spoiler along the width of the rear, aerodynamic deflectors on the quarter-light surrounds and a beguiling new three-dimensional LED rear light signature that was inspired by Citroën's Revolte and Survolt concept cars. The snazzy lamps complement the DS's prestige feel.As usual, a dizzying array of body colours, roof designs, wheel styles and other customisation options are available.The DS3 Cabrio will be available from launch with a choice of three petrol engines – the VTi 82, VTi 120 and THP 155, mated to either five or six-speed manual gearboxes. Three trim levels will be offered – DSign, DStyle and DSport, with prices for the most basic model starting at just over £15,000.The most popular model in the UK line-up is expected to be the mid-spec DStyle VTi 120, which will cost about £17,425, but the only variant on offer for us to test was the range-topping DSport THP 155.

Renault Scenic Cross – first spy pics

Posted: 24 Jan 2013 07:47 AM PST

First images of Renault's forthcoming jacked-up Scenic

These are the first pictures of the Renault Scenic Cross, which has been spotted cold-weather testing.

Based on the Scenic MPV, the Cross, as it has been christened, features increased ride height and suspension travel, modified bumpers and extended wheel-arches to give it the look of a pseudo soft-roader.

Despite the rugged-looking body addenda, our spy photographer noted the model remained front-wheel drive. A trick traction control system, similar to that fitted to the new Fiat Panda Trekking, might be utilised to aid traction in slippery conditions.

Given the light disguise applied to this test mule, a production version of the Scenic Cross is expected to be unveiled in the near future, with a Geneva motor show debut possible.

Daljinder Nagra

Quick news: Indian-built XF; Mitsubishi i-MiEV recall

Posted: 24 Jan 2013 04:58 AM PST

Jaguar XF production starts in India, Mitsubishi recalls the i-MiEV, Alfa Romeo offers five-year warranty and Ford sells one Fiesta every two minutes

The Jaguar XF is now being built in India to increase competitiveness in the local market. Assembled from parts shipped from JLR's Castle Bromwich plant, the XF is to be built alongside the Land Rover Freelander 2 at the company's Pune facility. The first cars will be fitted with the 2.2-litre diesel engine, which is being offered in India for the first time.

Mitsubishi is to recall 14,700 electric cars due to a fault with the brake booster pump. The recall affects the European market i-MiEV model and its sister cars the Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero.

Alfa Romeo is offering five-year warranties on MiTo and Giulietta models until the end of March. Buyers get a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty followed by a two-year, 100,000 mile warranty. PCP buyers of the Giulietta can also get a £2000 deposit contribution, also available until the end of March.

The Ford Fiesta was the best selling small car in Europe in 2012, selling over 300,000 examples, or one every two minutes. The Fiesta has been the most popular car in the UK since 2009. In 2012, 109,250 were sold - more than in any other European country.

Matthew Burrow

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