Friday, February 1, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Fiat-Chrysler to launch all-new Jeep

Posted: 01 Feb 2013 06:37 AM PST

New model the first Jeep under Fiat-Chrysler alliance; to be built in US and China

The first Jeep-branded product to be created by the Fiat-Chrysler alliance will be launched at the New York motor show in March, replacing the Liberty with an all-new model that could revive the Cherokee name. In Europe it will rival the Land Rover Freelander, the Honda CR-V and Nissan's X-Trail.

Seen here undergoing final testing, the new car is based on a version of Fiat's Compact Wide platform, which underpins the US-market Dodge Dart. The platform is capable of taking four-wheel drive, V6 engines and diesels, all of which will be available in the new Jeep. The petrol V6, which is unlikely to make it to European markets, will be a 3.2-litre version of Chrysler's 3.6-litre unit.

It will also be the first Fiat-Chrysler vehicle to get a new nine-speed automatic gearbox. This transmission is said by CEO Sergio Marchionne to be "the future of the front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive world of Chrysler".

The new Jeep's styling will use the fresh front end seen on the just-facelifted Grand Cherokee, with narrow headlights and a slimmer interpretation of Jeep's traditional seven-bar grille. Both features are visible beneath the test car's disguise.

The new Jeep will initially be built at Chrysler's plant in Toledo, Ohio, from 23 May. Production will begin in China next year as part of Fiat's deal with Guangzhou Automotive.

Dan Stevens

Quick news: World Car Awards finalists; Geely buys black cab maker

Posted: 01 Feb 2013 05:05 AM PST

Geely saves London taxi maker from administration, World Car of the Year finalists revealed, Alfa announces special edition Mito and ex-Nissan area chief becomes managing director for Renault UK

The World Car of the Year finalists for 2013 have been shortlisted. They include the Audi A3, Land Rover Range Rover, Mazda 6, Mazda CX-5, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Peugeot 208, Porsche Boxster/Cayman, Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT 86, Volkswagen Golf and Volvo V40. The winner will be announced at the New York motor show in March.

Manganese Bronze, manufacturer of London's black cabs, has been bought by Chinese carmaker Geely Auto. Production will be kept in the UK and the acquisition has secured jobs that were previously in jeopardy after Manganese Bronze went into administration in October.

Alfa Romeo has launched a limited edition Mito called the Quadrifoglio Verde SBK. Equipped with a 170bhp 1.4-litre MultiAir engine, it comes fitted with Bluetooth, air conditioning and rear parking sensors, along with a leather interior with carbon detailing. Only 28 examples will be sold in the UK, priced from £21,595.

Ken Ramirez has been appointed managing director of Renault UK. A former area chief for Nissan in Latin America and the Caribbean, Ramirez will be leading the launch of six new Renault and Dacia models this year.

Matthew Burrow

Force India reveals new F1 contender

Posted: 01 Feb 2013 03:34 AM PST

VJM06 is Force India's new 2013 season car, which the F1 team launched at Silverstone

Force India has unveiled its 2013 Formula One car at Silverstone.

Called VJM06, it is an evolution of last year's Mercedes-powered car, rather than a wholesale redesign. Its unveiling follows that of the Ferrari F138, Lotus-Renault E21 and McLaren MP4-28, all of which were revealed this week.

Force India has added a nose panel to improve the flow of air and in the process has improved the look of the car over last year's model, which sported a 'duck bill' type nose cone.

Deputy team principal Bob Fernley and driver Paul di Resta unveiled the VJM06 alongside technical director Andrew Green.

"We have pushed the chassis to its limits," said Green. "All changes have been performance driven and have been made to improve the consistency of the car's performance."

Di Resta is entering his third season with the team. No announcement has yet been made as to who will be joining him as the team's second driver.

Matthew Burrow

Ferrari F138 F1 challenger unveiled

Posted: 01 Feb 2013 02:47 AM PST

Ferrari's 2013 F1 challenger is revealed in Maranello

Ferrari has revealed its Formula One car for the 2013 season.

Called F138, the name is an amalgam of the year and a tribute to the V8 engines which are no longer to be used after this year. It was introduced by Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, who were joined by team principal Stefano Domenicali and Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo.

Visually, the F138 is a subtle evolution of last year's car, much like the recently unveiled McLaren MP4-28, due to only minor regulation changes from the 2012 season.

In particular, Ferrari has chosen to do away with the 'duck bill' stepped nosecone replaced with a sleeker, flush panel.

Retaining Ferrari's iconic blood-red livery. The F138 gains new black detailing towards the underside, giving an almost two-tone effect.

With the F138, the team is bidding to end its four year run without a title. Ferrari last won the constructors' championship in 2008 and the drivers' championship in 2007 with Kimi Raikkonen.

Joining the F138 on stage were two of Ferrari's current road car line-up: the F12 Berlinetta and the mid-engined 458 Spider, with Montezemolo keen to highlight the link between the F1 programme and road car research and development.

Daljinder Nagra

Mercedes C63 AMG boosted to 500bhp

Posted: 01 Feb 2013 12:00 AM PST

New Edition 507 version of the Mercedes C63 AMG gets a big power hike as part of a host of changes over the standard car

Mercedes has increased the power of its C63 AMG to 500bhp with the creation of a new 'Edition 507' model, which will make its debut at the Geneva motor show in March.

The Edition 507 (507 being the amount of metric horsepower the model produces) is offered in saloon, estate and coupé bodystyles, and features a number of upgrades to the C63 AMG's 6.2-litre V8 engine, incorporating technology from Mercedes' SLS AMG supercar.

It is likely to be a last hurrah for the current C63 AMG, with a replacement model equipped with a new twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 known to be in development for launch sometime later in 2014, after the reveal of the standard new C-class at the Geneva motor show in 2014.

As well as power being increased by 49bhp over a standard C63 AMG, torque is also increased by 8lb ft to 450lb ft. The changes help shave 0.2sec off the C63 AMG's 0-62mph time, down to 4.2sec in the saloon and coupé and 4.3sec in the estate.

Top speed is limited to 174mph in each of the Edition 507 body styles, the same as C63 AMGs equipped with the optional AMG Driver's Package, which is standard with the Edition 507.

Other changes to the Edition 507 over standard C63 AMGs include a new aluminium bonnet with cooling scoops inspired by the C63 AMG Coupé Black Series, and a gloss black finish for the spoilers, exterior mirror housings and grille and daytime running light surrounds.

A special Magno Platinum paint finish is also offered as an option with the Edition 507. New interior trim includes contrast stitching for the seats and Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel.

Other additions over a standard C63 AMG include new lightweight 19in alloy wheels. These are shod in 235/35 R19 tyres at the front, and 255/30 R19 tyres at the rear.

High-performance brakes with composite technology are another standard fit. The calipers are painted red in the Edition 507.

UK pricing and availability of the model will be announced to coincide with its debut at the Geneva motor show in March.

Toyota GT86 convertible concept teased

Posted: 31 Jan 2013 03:01 PM PST

The Japanese manufacturer has offered an early preview of its Geneva motor show stars, including a convertible version of the highly regarded Toyota GT86

Toyota has previewed an open-topped version of the lauded Toyota GT86 sportscar, a model that is certain to be one of the stars of next month's Geneva motor show.

The Toyota FT-86 Open concept, so far only seen in sketch form, previews a possible future development of the award-winning GT86 sports coupe.

Toyota says it will use the Geneva concept to gauge public reaction to the idea, although the Japanese company adds that it will press ahead with engineering tests on a prototype at the same time.

As reported by Autocar last May, key Toyota engineering staff involved with the development of the rear-wheel-drive coupé are keen to capitalise on the positive reaction to the car by producing several variants.

Toyota GT86 project engineer Tetsuya Tada has previously confirmed to Autocar that a convertible version of the car is "technically feasible".

Given the engineering work already undertaken and the likely popularity of an open-top version, particularly in California, a production convertible is almost inevitable, and could possibly be on sale as early as 2014.

Also making its world premiere at the Swiss automotive expo will be the Toyota i-Road concept. It has been conceived as a compact, emissions-free two-person vehicle to offer quick and efficient urban transport.

The two concepts will share Toyota's show stand with the production-ready version of the Toyota Auris Touring Sports.

The new estate is not expected to differ dramatically from the preview example of the British-built model that was revealed at last year's Paris motor show. The model's debut will be supported by the presentation of a special design study called the Auris Touring Sports Black.

The final jewel in Toyota's Geneva crown is the first appearance of the Toyota RAV4 at a European motor show. The debut of the fourth-generation SUV will be supported by two special design studies, the RAV4 Premium and RAV4 Adventure.    

Lexus IS 300h to make European debut at Geneva

Posted: 31 Jan 2013 03:01 PM PST

Lexus will showcase its broad range of hybrid vehicles at next month's Geneva motor show

The new Lexus IS 300h full hybrid will make its European debut at the Geneva motor show next month. First unveiled at last month's Detroit motor show, the new model features a petrol-electric hybrid system and is due to go on sale in the UK in the summer.

Lexus is talking up the sportier driving dynamics of the IS 300h, which will be offered with a performance-orientated F Sport package.

Autocar has already reviewed the rear-drive Lexus IS 300h in pre-production form, and you can read about it here.

The IS 300h is powered a combination of a 2.5-litre four-cylinder and electric motor h. The hybrid system is used in the Japanese market Toyota Crown – in that car the engine produces 163lb ft and 175bhp, and the motor makes 141bhp and 221lb ft. Combined, the system produces 217bhp and Lexus is aiming for fuel consumption of more than 65mpg.

The 300h are rear-wheel drive and equipped with a CVT. The front double wishbone suspension is a revised version of the system used on the last IS, while the rear is a multi-link system borrowed from the Lexus GS. The IS also uses the GS's Drive Mode Select software.

F Sport models now get different styling to distinguish them from the standard IS, with a different grille and bumper. Suspension and steering are retuned, and F Sports can be had with optional Adaptive Variable Suspension. Its Drive Mode system gains a fourth setting, too.

The car is slightly wider, longer and taller than the outgoing model, with a 70mm longer wheelbase. Lexus claims this give the IS more room for rear passengers and class-leading rear knee room, while boot size has increased to 480 litres. The hybrid loses 30 litres of boot space.

The cabin design is closely related to the LF CC concept car's, with its high centre console, analogue clock, wide air vents and touch sensitive controls.

Another key part of the brand's Geneva show stand will be the Lexus LF-LC hybrid sports coupé concept, which will be presented in a new Opal Blue finish. Lexus says the concept "showcases its more sporting new image, with a fully driver-focused interior".

The Toyota-owned manufacturer will also showcase the complete range of its F Sport full hybrid models.

Citroën DS3 DSport e-HDI 115 Airdream first drive review

Posted: 31 Jan 2013 08:18 AM PST

Revised diesel engine delivers refinement, performance and economy for one of the best French cars on the block right now Potentially, the most appealing version of the already-quite-appealing Citroen DS3 – one that should be relatively cheap to buy and own, cheap to fuel, and still hold your attention from behind the wheel.Having launched the upmarket compact three-door hatch in 2009, Citroen added 'e-HDi' low-emissions diesel options to the range in 2010, and has just made the gruntiest oil-burner in the range a little more powerful for 2013.So the range-topping DS3 diesel now yields 113bhp and 199lb ft of torque from its 1.6-litre engine. It's good for 0-60mph in well under ten seconds, but also a claimed 74mpg. And thanks to the starter-generator, it emits less than 100g/km of CO2, and qualifies for a free tax disc and benefit-in-kind company car tax of just 14 per cent of its value.

Button exudes confidence as McLaren enters the 2013 F1 season

Posted: 31 Jan 2013 06:49 AM PST

Today's unveiling of the MP4-28 F1 car saw Jenson Button eager to start the title fight and bouyed with confidence for the season ahead

Folklore has it that after his first day of testing in the Brawn F1 challenger in 2009, Jenson Button climbed from the car, and went straight to a bookmaking website, placing a sizeable bet on himself at odds consistent with a team and driver that hadn't won anything, and which months earlier had been as good as closed. As history now shows, he both made a packet and became world champion.

At today's launch of McLaren's new challenger Button had the swagger of a man carrying a lot of optimism. As he said himself, "I'm always excited at the start of the new season, but for some reason I'm especially excited about this coming year. I know about all the hard work done, and I know what's to come – it's exciting."

From the sidelines, it's impossible not to conclude that much of Button's confidence comes from being the undisputed number one in the team. Sure, nobody in the management will admit that, but few rate Sergio Pérez in the same league as Lewis Hamilton as a team-mate. He's good, no doubt, but you just know Button won't have to fight so hard to get the car developed as he likes it this year, or to be the dominant voice in the room as qualifying or race strategy is decided upon.

McLaren, too, has pledged to fight for this year's championship to the end, as opposed to diverting resources towards 2014, when wholesale regulation changes come into force. "It's a risk," conceded team boss Martin Whitmarsh, "but it's one we think we can manage. Some teams are already talking about 2014, but we're fully committed to pushing for the title this season, while working on 2014 at the same time.

"Diverting resources from one to the other is always a dilemma, but we opted to be aggressive. With this year's relative rule stability we could have opted to evolve last year's car, but we've decided to be more aggressive and come up with a concept we believe is not only better now, but gives us scope for further development well beyond the winter."

It's all talk for now, of course, and I'm sure the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari are going to say similar things. But when those winter tests get underway on 5 February in Jerez, Spain, I bet there are nervous bookmakers keeping an eye out for big money being placed on Button… by Button.

Volkswagen Golf 4Motion 2.0 TDI first drive review

Posted: 31 Jan 2013 04:45 AM PST

Four-wheel drive endows the Golf with greater stability and mid-corner grip. It's just a shame it's not coming to the UK The Volkswagen Golf 4Motion – a four-wheel drive version of Europe's perennial best seller boasting some interesting technical advances over its predecessor, including a newly developed, electronically controlled multi-plate Haldex-style clutch.Never a big seller in the UK, the Golf 4Motion now comes in left-hand drive form only and with the choice of just two four-cylinder common-rail diesel engines.Included is an entry-level 1.6 TDI producing 104bhp and 184lb ft of torque, and a range-topping 2.0 TDI offering 148bhp and 236lb ft.Both engines come mated to a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, though the 1.6 can be ordered with an optional seven-speed dual-clutch 'box, and the 2.0 with an optional six-speed dual-clutch unit.New to the Golf 4Motion is what Volkswagen describes as 'Haldex 5' – a system that is set to appear on a whole range of upcoming models, including the new Golf R, which is planned to make its public debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September, as well as the secret new Golf Alltrack, a high-riding variant of the upcoming Golf Estate due to go on sale in the UK in 2014.The heavily upgraded four-wheel drive system does away with a pressure accumulator in a move that reduces its weight, albeit only by 1.4kg. The hydraulically operated pump is replaced by an electrically operated device that is claimed to provide a faster transfer of drive between the front and rear axles for added traction and more entertaining handling traits.Further traction-enhancing features include electronic differential locks both front and rear.

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