Thursday, January 3, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Honda S2000 reinterpreted for Tokyo Auto Salon

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 02:47 AM PST

A new version of the discontinued Honda S2000 will be among the stars of Honda's stand at the Tokyo Auto Salon next week

A new interpretation of the Honda S2000 is among models to be shown at next week's Tokyo Auto Salon by Honda.

The Honda S2000 Modulo Climax features what Honda describes as a "cutting edge design and a chic interior". It is understood that modifications to the show car are purely cosmetic. 

Changes include a chrome blade running across the front grille which incorporates LED daytime running lights, a new vented rear bumper and bootlid-mounted corner winglets.

Honda has also prepared several modified versions of the Honda N-One kei car, including two Mugen versions featuring revised styling. It is not known if the 3-cylinder engine has been tweaked.

Other models include a pair of Honda N Box models, a Mugen CR-V design study, a CR-V-based concept and two race cars from the Japanese Super GT series.

New Gazoo Racing GT86 teased

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 02:15 AM PST

First images of sporty tuned Toyota GT86, to be unveiled at Tokyo Auto Salon

These are the first images of the GRMN FR Sports Concept Platinum, the latest Toyota GT86 based creation from tuners Gazoo Racing.

Due to be unveiled at this month's Tokyo Auto Salon, the concept is 4.35m long, 1.85m wide and weighs 1,280kg. It is powered by a supercharged 2.0-litre boxer engine developing 325bhp and 318lb ft.

Power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox and limited slip differential.

Changes for the new car are limited to aesthetics and include LED headlamps, an aggressive rear spoiler and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Inside, full leather sports seats are fitted along with four-point harnesses and a roll cage.

GRMN stands for 'Gazoo Racing Masters of the Nürburgring' and is a nod to the company's success campaigning a Toyota GT86 at the Nürburgring 24 hours, in which it won its class.

Daljinder Nagra

Detroit motor show: Infiniti Q50

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 01:19 AM PST

The Infiniti Q50 saloon, which will replace the Infiniti G-series, has been teased ahead of its Detroit motor show debut

A video has been released teasing the new Infiniti Q50 which will be previewed at the Detroit motor show later this month.

Few details are forthcoming about the replacement for the G-series saloon, but according to Infiniti design boss, Shiro Nakamura, the Q50 will be "much sportier and more dynamic than the current car".

Infiniti's teaser video shows a heavily sculpted headlight, which closely resembles that of the Infiniti LE concept unveiled at last year's New York motor show.

That model is pitched as an upscale version of the Nissan LEAF, but the Q50 will rival the BMW 3-series and Audi A4. Infiniti previously promised the Q50 will be offered with Mercedes-sourced four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines.

The Q50 will be the first new model to carry Infiniti's new naming structure, which aims to give more clarity to its model ranges.

After the Infiniti Q50 is previewed in Detroit, it will make its European debut at the Geneva motor show before going on sale in the autumn.


First drive review: Vauxhall Adam Slam 1.4i

Posted: 02 Jan 2013 10:00 PM PST

Style-led city car gets revised, UK-specific steering tune to correct its flaws When we first drove the new Vauxhall Adam, due in UK showrooms next March, we weren't happy. The ride seemed lumpy and the engine thrashy and old-tech, but the big mismatch was between electric power steering that seemed at once ponderous and unpredictable, and a sporting ride quality (our Slam-spec test car was on sports suspension and 18-inch wheels) that surely demanded crisp, intuitive steering.However, Opel-Vauxhall is fast developing a tradition for retuning the electric power assistance of its cars for the UK market (its biggest in Europe). And following our adverse reaction and others, this is what it firmly decided to do.In co-operation with Opel chassis engineers, Vauxhall chassis guru Gerry Baker conducted some wide-ranging tests to set the car up in a way that would please local customers. The setting was signed off "weeks ago" on some pretty narrow and badly surfaced roads around Vauxhall's Millbrook proving ground, and Autocar was allowed to try it.

Quick news: new Kia president; Citroën DS3 special edition

Posted: 02 Jan 2013 09:06 AM PST

Kia names Peter Schreyer as joint president, Citroën announces new DS3 Red special edition and Rolls-Royce celebrates 10 years of Phantom production

Kia design boss Peter Schreyer has been appointed joint president of Kia Motors Corporation. The first non-Korean to hold the title, Schreyer will be one of three president-level executives at the company. He will continue in his role as chief design officer.

Citroën has announced a new Red special edition of the DS3 hatchback. Available in Polar White or Perla Nera Black, it comes with red interior and exterior styling details and improved standard equipment. Prices start from £15,655.

This year (2013) marks the 10th anniversary of Rolls-Royce production under BMW. The British luxury brand was reinvented with the launch in 2003 of the Phantom, which is produced at the rate of three cars per day. The range includes two separate model lines – the Phantom and Ghost – and six body styles, all built at the company's Goodwood plant.

Daljinder Nagra

Diesel or petrol? A downside to the problem of misfuelling

Posted: 02 Jan 2013 08:47 AM PST

Devices to prevent misfuelling certainly have their place, but they don't always work smoothly

As someone who once, many years ago, made the idiotic mistake of filling a diesel car with petrol and then driving away, causing catastrophic amounts of damage to the poor engine in question, I have long hovered over the petrol and diesel pumps double-checking I am about to make the right decision.

Until recently, though, I hadn't encountered a car fitted with one of the increasingly common misfuelling devices, which only accepts the appropriate nozzle, be it from the green or black pump.

When one such device greeted me recently, I smiled at the memories it brought back of the smoky demise of that car more than a decade ago. This, I thought, was progress. But then I started to fill the car with diesel and discovered that all was not as simple as it seemed.

If I applied more than a smidgen of pressure to the pump handle, the flow of fuel cut out. I wiggled, jiggled and contorted the pump handle to all manner of angles and attitudes, but the only way to get fuel into the car was to tickle it in. With 60 litres to fill, this proved to be an irritatingly long experience.

By the time I was approaching a full tank, the cut-off must have kicked in 40 times or more. By then I didn't trust it, so I kept tickling the handle to get more fuel in, and promptly drenched my shoes in diesel. This, most definitely, wasn't progress.

What I'd like to know is if this is typical of such devices, or if I happened to be unlucky? Let me know your experiences…

A change of emphasis for Formula 1

Posted: 02 Jan 2013 08:26 AM PST

Grand prix racing is following the road car industry by reducing its focus on Europe and expanding its overseas interests

A lot of Formula 1 fans complain that there are too many races these days outside the sport's traditional heartland in Europe. Grand Prix racing used to be all about Monaco, Monza, Spa, Silverstone and the Nürburgring.

There were extraneous races, but the 'World Championship' was actually a bit of a misnomer, although not perhaps on the scale of Major League Baseball's World Series.

In the last 10 years Bernie Ecclestone has taken F1 global. Where once there were 10 races in Europe and six 'flyaways', today we have 11 races outside Europe and only seven or eight on the traditional European tracks. And Europe's dominance will weaken further as F1 aims to consolidate its presence in the Americas. These strategic moves offer the world's largest companies a package that no other sport can match.

This is all the more important when you realize that this year, for the first time, China is almost certainly going to produce more cars than all the European countries combined. Europe's share of global automobile manufacturing is down to only just 20 per cent of the total.

The new car owners in Asia may not have embraced F1 as yet, but these things take time…

A fascinating prospect

It is going to be a fascinating year for British F1 fans, who are keen to see how Lewis Hamilton will do with the Mercedes team. I have to admit that I am not convinced that this is a good move for Lewis. I can see why he felt that he wanted to get out of McLaren, any offspring wants to leave the nest at some point, but it would have been wiser, perhaps, to wait until a top drive was available.

The idea that Lewis will mould the team around himself and they will all march forward together is a great idea, but Hamilton did not show such team-building skills at McLaren, leaving the older and wiser (and slower) Jenson Button to have the emotional leadership. Lewis seemed lost.

Jenson left Mercedes (then known as Brawn GP) at the end of 2009 because he did not think it had what was needed to win on a regular basis – and he was right. Hamilton is gambling that things have moved on. Lewis is a great racer, but great racers have made mistakes before when it comes to choosing the wrong team at the wrong moment.

The one thing that we do know is that the team will be under the microscope more than ever. Hamilton is a known quantity and we will soon see whether or not Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher have been getting the most from the recent cars, or whether it was the team that was underperforming.

When we were very young…

Many years ago, when I worked for Autosport, the office was across the corridor from 'the grown ups' at Autocar. I remember hoping that one day I might get a chance to write for the grandfather of all motoring titles, a journal as old as motor sport itself. It is a great honour to have been offered the opportunity to do that.

By way of introduction, I have covered Formula 1 for the last 25 years, although I occasionally take in a local French village hillclimb – to remind myself what down-to-earth motorsport is all about…

New Mercedes C-class details revealed

Posted: 02 Jan 2013 01:57 AM PST

Mercedes' 3-series rival re-engineered to appeal to younger buyers

The all-new Mercedes-Benz C-class will look far more dramatic than today's model and be imbued with a big dose of sporting intent.

The fourth-generation C-class will also be offered with the latest in-car networked internet connectivity and cutting-edge safety tech. These features are part of a bid to endow it with a more contemporary standing than ever before to take the challenge to the BMW 3-series.

The new model is set to get its first public airing in just over a year's time at the 2014 Geneva motor show. It has been thoroughly re-engineered with the express aim of attracting younger buyers.

Mercedes insiders claim that little or nothing will be carried over from the existing C-class in a move described as a "new beginning" for the 3-series and Audi A4 rival.

"We want once and for all to discard the idea that the C-class is a car bought by your grandfather, " said a high-ranking Stuttgart-based official involved in the new car's conception. "We have gone to extensive lengths to ensure it will meet the expectations of a younger generation of buyers, both visually and technically."

The change in emphasis for the new car, codenamed W205, has been driven by the decision to add the smaller CLA to the Mercedes line-up this coming summer.

The swoopy four-door CLA, previewed by the Concept Style Coupé, is planned to occupy a slightly lower market segment, with more affordable pricing than today's C-class. This will allow the next C-class to be repositioned half a class higher.

Four new C-class models are planned. Alongside the initial saloon and estate, set to be revealed in March 2014, Mercedes is also preparing a more individually styled successor to the coupé as well as an all-new fabric-roofed cabriolet for launch in 2015.

All four are set to receive the go-faster treatment from AMG, which is preparing a new twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine for the new car.


The length of the new C-class has increased by 100mm over today's model to 4700mm. That puts it on a par with the Audi A4 and extends it 75mm beyond the 3-series saloon.

Some 80mm of the added length is concentrated within the wheelbase, which increases to 2820mm. Autocar can also reveal that the tracks have been widened by up to 40mm to give it a larger footprint. A corresponding increase in width takes it to about 1810mm.

The bigger external dimensions are claimed to provide the new model with significantly improved interior space. Leg, shoulder and headroom have improved in the front and rear, according to Autocar sources. The new C-class is also set to offer greater luggage space. The boot capacity of the saloon has risen to 485 litres, which is more than in an A4 or 3-series.


The new C-class will be the first model to use Mercedes' new MRA (modular rear-wheel drive architecture) platform. The hot-formed steel monocoque structure is, in lengthened forms, also set to underpin future incarnations of the E-class and S-class, among a whole line of models. It has been conceived using the latest construction techniques and, together with further weight-saving measures brought to the chassis, is said to help the new car to undercut its predecessor on the scales despite its considerable increase in size.

Nothing is official yet, but a new base C160 model is said to weigh less than 1380kg, despite increases in both static and dynamic rigidity, both of which are described as class-leading.

The new C-class looks likely to eschew the MacPherson strut layout of the existing model up front for a new double wishbone arrangement, providing greater wheel control and added lateral stiffness for improved handling. The rear, however, retains a similar multi-link system to the existing C-class's, but it has been extensively redesigned for added levels of refinement.


Unlike the CLA, which uses a transverse engine layout, the new C-class retains longitudinally mounted engines. A new mounting procedure sites them lower in the engine bay and slightly more rearward than with today's model for improved weight distribution and a lower centre of gravity.

Mainstream engines will include four-cylinder and V6 petrol units, ranging from a 184bhp 2.0-litre turbo to a range-topping 330bhp twin-turbo 3.0.

The diesels are initially likely to include an upgraded version of the existing 2.1-litre engine in up to four states of tune, spanning 120bhp to 220bhp.

All engines will receive automatic stop-start and brake energy recuperation, along with other efficiency-boosting measures. Combined with the reduction in kerb weight, this is claimed to bring improvements of up to 20g/km in CO2 emissions.

Mercedes also plans to introduce a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid version of the new C-class in 2015. Details are scarce, but sources suggest that it will have an all-electric range of up to 18 miles.

Further developments include revised driveline architecture with an altered driveshaft layout. This will allow Mercedes to produce the new C-class in standard rear-wheel drive and optional 4Matic four-wheel drive in both left-hand-drive and right-hand-drive guises for the very first time.

Up until now, driveshaft packaging constraints have caused the 4Matic C-class to be produced in left-hand-drive form only. The new layout will be adopted by the next GLK SUV, which will also be produced in right-hand drive.

The new C-class is set to be launched with a six-speed manual or a newer version of today's seven-speed automatic gearbox, depending on the engine. A new nine-speed automatic transmission is currently undergoing development. However, Mercedes sources suggest that it is unlikely to find its way into the C-class until the next model receives its planned mid-cycle facelift, in 2017. The plan is that it will initially find its way into more upmarket offerings before trickling down through the line-up.

New tech

Adaptive damping control will be standard on all models and a new electro-mechanical steering system will offer a range of hands-off automatic parking options.

The technology that Mercedes plans to use in the new C-class includes a full range of safety features also destined for the facelifted E-class. It features a stereo camera that provides additional collision prevention functions, such as the car braking itself automatically to reduce the severity of an impact.

Also included will be a new Distronic Plus feature with Steering Assist, which keeps the car centred in a chosen lane and tracks traffic in tailbacks. There will also be Brake Assist Plus with Junction Assist, which detects cross-flow traffic and pedestrians and can boost the braking power if insufficient force is applied by the driver to avoid an impact.

Detroit motor show: Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible

Posted: 01 Jan 2013 04:01 PM PST

New £164,000 GTC Speed packs a massive 616bhp and will be the world's fastest four-seat drop-top

Bentley has created what it claims is the world's fastest four-seat drop-top by slotting the drivetrain from the Continental GT Speed into the Convertible. With a claimed top speed of 202mph, the car is 3mph slower than the GT Speed coupé but 7mph quicker than the old Bentley Speed Convertible.

Powered by the twin turbo 6.0-litre W12, the car has 616bhp and 590lb ft, giving it a 0-60mph time of 4.1sec. All of the torque is available from 2000rpm and continues until 5000rpm, and 100mph comes up in 9.7sec. In the Convertible, the engine returns 19mpg, a 15 per cent improvement over the old car.

As with the Speed GT, the suspension has been lowered by 10mm compared to the regular GT, with stiffer bushes, uprated anti-roll bars and revised air springs and dampers. The steering has been reworked to provide greater feedback.

The increase in top speed over the convertible hasn't required much additional aerodynamic work to increase downforce — Bentley says a gentle lip on the bootlid is enough to keep the car on the road. Other external changes include dark chrome air intakes and radiator grille, 21–inch wheels (only available on the Convertible), and enlarged tailpipes with rifled interiors.

Inside the car is trimmed in Mulliner spec, with its characteristic quilted diamond pattern leather, along with dark aluminium across the dash. Carbonfibre is an option.

It will go on sale next summer, and although Bentley hasn't decided on pricing, expect it to cost around £164,000, around £15,000 more than a regular GT Convertible. It is expected to make its first public outing at the Detroit motor show this month.

Dan Stevens

Detroit motor show: Mercedes CLA leaks out

Posted: 25 Dec 2012 11:55 AM PST

Five images reportedly showing the final production version of the Mercedes CLA have leaked onto the internet

These leaked images reportedly show the final production version of the new Mercedes CLA ahead of its likely unveiling at next month's Detroit motor show.

The five images reveal that the exterior of the heavily stylised CLA will stay true to the acclaimed Concept Style Coupé that made its debut at the Beijing motor show in April. The images, the authenticity of which remains unconfirmed, also reveal the cabin will share its basic design with the A-class and B-class models, featuring heavily sculpted airvents and an iPad-like screen.

In contrast to the CSC concept, the CLA adopts less-flamboyant bumpers, altered headlamp graphics (the CSC's headlamps glow red in standby mode), more conventional exterior mirrors, the same pull-out door handles as on the A-class and smaller wheels and tyres than the 21-inch items that adorned the show car.

The CLA will sit below the Mercedes C-class saloon on price and features in the marque's line-up. However, the new entry-level saloon will be 47mm longer, 121mm wider and 47mm lower than the C-class saloon.

These official measurements also make it 345mm longer, the same width and 35mm lower than the new Mercedes A-class – a car with which the CLA shares its platform, chassis and driveline architecture.The CLA will be sold with the choice of standard front-wheel drive or optional four-wheel drive. Gearboxes will include a standard six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch unit as an option.

The 208bhp engine showcased in the CSC is set to feature in the CLA250. The junior saloon is also set to offer three turbo four-pot petrol units: a 120bhp 1.6 in the CLA180, a 154bhp 2.0 in the CLA200 and a 208bhp in the CLA250.

Three turbodiesel engines are also planned: two 1.8-litre units with 108bhp in the CLA180 CDI and 134bhp in the CLA200 CDI, and a 168bhp 2.2 in the CLA220 CDI. The highlight of the line-up will be a four-wheel-drive AMG model running an uprated 2.0-litre turbo engine with up to 340bhp.

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