Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

New York motor show: Chrysler 200 Special Edition

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 05:01 AM PDT

New York motor show: Chrysler 200 Special Edition Chrysler's small saloon gets a makeover from Detroit-based Carhartt

A run-out special of the Chrysler 200 saloon will be unveiled at the New York motor show. The latest model is the result of a collaboration with fashion label Carhartt.

Based on the 200 S, this Carhartt-inspired Special Edition gets aggressive spoilers front and rear, a mesh grille and new exhaust tailpipes. The external modifications are completed by a rear diffuser.

The Carhartt overhaul is most notable inside, where the 200 has seats trimmed in water-resistant fabric and black trim where chrome used to feature.

The 200 Special Edition will be available in Chrysler's US dealerships soon after its New York debut. It will be priced from $28,870.

Click here for more New York motor show 2013 news.

Matt Bird

James Bond and the new Range Rover Sport in New York

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 03:13 AM PDT

James Bond and the new Range Rover Sport in New York The new Range Rover Sport will be unveiled on the eve of the New York motor show tonight. Reports suggest that 007 will be taking the covers off

New York isn't exactly short on razzmatazz, but as the sun rises on the city that never sleeps today there is slightly more anticipation in the air than normal. And it's all because of the new Range Rover Sport… and James Bond.

Car launches don't normally capture pages of column inches in the mainstream press, but Land Rover appears to have pulled off something of a coup by signing up Daniel Craig to unveil the new Range Rover Sport in its biggest single market, on the eve of the New York motor show.

The car company won't confirm anything, but after some filming in the city a few months ago, the mega-bucks project ramped up a gear over the past few days as blocks of roads were closed for rehearsals ahead of tonight's unveiling.

As the local press tells it, the film will show a Range Rover Sport being crated up and then being driven around selected locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Locals know there's a flooded tunnel and a helicopter involved, too, as they've watched it being filmed – and because the stuntman involved blabbed.

Then there's a live finale, in which reports suggest that Craig will parachute in to the unveiling and then drive the new car on stage. All in, it has the makings of a presentation worthy of 007, as well as reminding hardcore car enthusiasts like us that a) Land Rover is a thriving British success story and b) the very best (profitable) cars deserve more than a smattering of applause as a cover is pulled off by a grey suited CEO.

If you get the Bond thing, you can watch this apparent blockbuster live by going to the official Range Rover Sport unveil page.

After that – or if you don't really do Hollywood – then rest assured that will bring you the full Range Rover Sport technical story, plus exclusive images from the reveal.

2014 BMW M5 spied for the first time

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 02:44 AM PDT

2014 BMW M5 spied for the first time The 2014 model year BMW M5 has been photographed during testing in Germany

The 2014 facelifted BMW M5 has been spotted testing for the first time, showing the cosmetic changes which will bring the supersaloon in-line with the rest of the forthcoming, revised 5-series range.

Our spy shots show the revised M5 will feature resculpted headlights and a slightly slimmer interpretation of the iconic kidney grille. The 2014 model year revisions also include new rear lights and a lightly modified rear bumper.

The external changes are far less extensive than those applied to the Mercedes E63 AMG recently.

The new M5 will borrow the latest iteration of BMW's iDrive multimedia system from the 7-series.

BMW has not revealed any changes to the specification of the F10 M5's engine. However the 550i, which shares its basic engine with the M5, is in line for a power boost, taking total output to around 450bhp.

How much is a battery?

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 01:01 AM PDT

How much is a battery? When every penny counts, it pays to shop around for your motoring essentials

It's good to shop around.

For me it was a simple enough question. How much for a Disco battery? Having experienced some recurring electrical glitches in my Land Rover, one of the online cures for a particularly annoying set of warning lights was a new battery. So I thought it was worth seeing how much that fix would cost.

First stop was a fast-fit chain, but one of the minor ones. They first of all quoted £139. Really? That is a fitted price. Which made me question whether the way that batteries are fitted has suddenly changed since I last did it? You know, undoing the terminals and then hoofing the old one out and replacing it.  Apparently not. So without the fitting? That'll be £115 then.

Still sounded steep to me so I went for a walk. I ended up at a minor chain of high-street car parts suppliers, but again, not one of the major ones. They did though have one of those little books to help me pick which battery was the right one. That cost £110.

My local garage though quoted £90.

Online, delivered to my door and including VAT I could have a Varta for £88 and one I've not heard of for £85.

So I really did wonder how you shopped for car parts? There really is such a big difference between suppliers and options I would like to think that you would do the legwork to save a few bob. In these straightened times what advice do you have for anyone committed to saving money on running their motors?

Nissan Micra receives mid-life refresh

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 05:56 AM PDT

Nissan Micra receives mid-life refresh Cosmetic alterations for Nissan's supermini; due in Britain this year

A facelifted Nissan Micra has been previewed by the launch of its March equivalent in Thailand. The Micra was due to be revised soon after being on sale since early 2011 in a highly competitive supermini market.

The images show the March/Micra with a bolder front grille and bumper arrangement, while new headlamps add more visual interest. Changes to the rear include LED lights and a fresh range of alloy wheel designs.

Inside, the interior appears to retain the architecture of the current Micra's but with some updated switchgear and materials. This follows criticism of the cabin's low-rent appearance against its rivals.

Nissan is unlikely to alter the engine range of the Micra, despite calls in Europe for a small diesel. It will therefore continue with a 1.2-litre petrol engine in either naturally aspirated or supercharged forms.

The limited scope of this Micra facelift suggests Nissan's focus in the UK is on its successful crossover ranges, such as the Qashqai and Juke. Expect to see the revised Micra in showrooms later in 2013.

Matt Bird

Kia CUB concept set for Seoul motor show debut

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 05:06 AM PDT

Kia to debut CUB concept at Seoul motor show New compact coupé previews Kia's potential range expansion

Kia will unveil the CUB concept at the Seoul motor show this week. It follows the well-received recent debut of the Provo supermini at the Geneva motor show.

The CUB is a four-door coupé under 4m long. According to Kia, it has a 'daring character' thanks to its 'cheerful face' and 'super-smooth exterior'. The only image currently available of the CUB shows it also features LED headlights.

Kia will officially launch the CUB at its home motor show on Thursday, where further details of its specification are also likely to emerge.

Matt Bird

Peugeot RCZ THP 200 first drive review

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 03:49 AM PDT

Peugeot RCZ THP 200 first drive review Light cosmetic update ensures Peugeot's coupé remains as desirable as ever The Peugeot RCZ GT coupé is one of those 'image' cars whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Drive one for a few days and you'll soon get used to its performance and handling — one of the RCZ's greater virtues is that it's beguilingly easy to enjoy — but it'll take you much longer to get used to how onlookers react to the car.They stare. Those who don't know what it is presume it's worth three or times the actual £24k Peugeot dealers charge. Those who do know its identity still marvel at the fact that Peugeot, a French full-line manufacturer best known for small hatchbacks cars and commercial vehicles, should do something as affordable and special as this.

New McLaren P13 to rival Porsche 911 Turbo

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 02:49 AM PDT

McLaren set to expand with new £120k P13 Mid-engined McLaren P13 coupé is due in 2015 with 450bhp and a carbonfibre chassis

McLaren has gone public about its intentions to launch a new sports car aimed squarely at the Porsche 911 Turbo.

Known internally as P13, the new model will be McLaren's core sports car. It will cost about £120,000 and be equipped with a 3.8-litre V8 with about 450bhp. The target is for total sales of up to 2500 units per year when it goes on sale in 2015.

Speaking to Autocar at the recent Geneva motor show, McLaren chief Ron Dennis confirmed the P13's existence as the smallest model below the 12C supercar and P1 hypercar as part of a three-strong line-up.

Dennis said the positioning of the car was very much up for discussion. However, several senior company sources that have worked on the project for almost a decade confirmed to Autocar that the 911 Turbo was the model very much in the sights of the P13.

This is based around McLaren's view that there is very little available in the market for high-performance sports cars that cost between £100,000 and £150,000.

For instance, the standard Porsche 911 range, Audi R8 and Aston Martin Vantage all come in below £100,000 and have accessible performance, yet the next rung of supercars – such as the Lamborghini Gallardo, Mercedes SLS, Ferrari 458 Italia and the 12C itself – are all deep into the £150,000 and above bracket, with a harder, more-focused edge to match.

McLaren's thinking is that there is a huge gap in the performance car market for something that mixes that harder edge while maintaining everyday usability – something that only the 911 Turbo can claim to have at present. Performance cars in that £120,000 or so bracket – the Aston Martin DB9 and Bentley Continental GT – are more GTs than sports cars.

One insider said: "The truth is, if you have £120,000 to spend on a sports car you'd still end up going for a Porsche 911, even though you can get one for £70,000. There is nothing else out there between £100,000 and £150,000."

McLaren is now finalising the specification for the new sports car to fit that £120,000 brief. At the core of the P13 will be the firm's carbonfibre MonoCell chassis, seen on the 12C and adapted into the MonoCage on the P1 that adds a roll bar and air scoop over the cabin.

The carbonfibre structure was always intended for use on a smaller, more affordable entry-level model right from McLaren Automotive's rebirth a decade ago. As such, there are no cost concerns on offering the technology at a lower price point than on the £176,000 12C. The investment has already been made in ramping up the technology for a larger-volume, lower-priced model.

The MonoCell is able to underpin coupé and convertible bodystyles with no major structural changes to increase stiffness. As such, the P13 is expected to launch first as a coupé in 2015, with a convertible version following a year later, a similar gap between launches as with the 12C coupé and convertible models.

At the heart of the mid-engined, rear-drive P13 will be a version of McLaren's now familiar twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre engine, detuned to around 450bhp. The engine produces 616bhp in the 12C and 727bhp in its more focused application in the P1, where it is also hooked up to an electric motor for added boost. Drive in the P13 will be sent to the rear wheels through a Graziano seven-speed dual-clutch, adapted from the 12C and P1.

Insiders are remaining tight-lipped on performance figures, but a 0-62mph time of sub 4.0sec would be a clear target for the P13, as will a top speed close to, but not exceeding, 200mph.

The new four-wheel-drive 911 Turbo is targeting a 0-62mph time closer to 3.0sec and a top speed in excess of 200mph, but McLaren has made its intentions clear with the P1 that it is more interested in making honed driver's cars rather than models with headline-grabbing performance figures.

McLaren insiders have so far also remained coy on the looks of the new P13, but it is understood to lean more heavily on the P1 than on the MP4-12C. Insiders have admitted that the look of the 12C was "too much about technology and less about beauty", something that will be the opposite when the finished form of the P13 is revealed.

Despite using the MonoCell chassis and same fundamental engine and suspension layout as the 12C, the P13 will have slightly more compact dimensions thanks to tighter packaging of its components, but this will be emphasised further by its cleaner styling.

McLaren is targeting sales of around 2500 units per year of the P13, which should push its annual volumes close to 4000 units per year, including the production of the 12C coupé and Spider.

The two model ranges, as well as the P1, are all able to be built on the same production line at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking .

New York motor show: Cadillac CTS

Posted: 21 Mar 2013 09:18 AM PDT

New York motor show: Cadillac CTS Modifications for the 2014 model year reposition the CTS saloon in Cadillac's range

Cadillac will launch a revised CTS saloon at the New York motor show. The dramatic facelift aims to position the CTS further up the Cadillac range and away from the new ATS.

The manufacturer claims the changes for the 2014 model year constitute a 'major redesign' and aims to make the car more competitive against European rivals, such as the Mercedes E-class and BMW 5-series. The focus of the overhaul is on design and performance, whilst also introducing new luxury and technology to the range.

The leaked images of the CTS show it retains Cadillac's familiar Art and Science language themes but also incorporates new features from the smaller ATS and the ELR range-extender hybrid. At the front, the CTS is noticeably more aggressive, with thin, tapering LED headlights and a prominent bumper. Cadillac has kept the rear of the car broadly similar to the current CTS.

The engine line-up will be reputedly crowned with a new twin-turbo V6. The 3.6-litre unit is said to produce 420bhp and 413lb ft of torque. Allied to an eight-speed auto, the first available in a Cadillac, the CTS twin-turbo will be capable of a 4.6 second sprint to 60mph and a 170mph top speed. On the new powertrain, Cadillac executive chief engineer David Leone has said it delivers "power and sophistication" and that "it marks another large step forward in the product-driven expansion of Cadillac".

Elsewhere in the engine range, the CTS will be available with a 272bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit and a naturally aspirated 3.6-litre V6 with 321bhp.

The changes to the range will need to boost flagging sales. In 2012, 46,979 CTS Cadillacs were sold, down 14.6 per cent on the 2011 figure of 55,042.

Matt Bird 

Panda and 500 to form core of Fiat's future plans

Posted: 21 Mar 2013 02:00 AM PDT

Fiat to limit 500 range expansion Fiat brand chief says there is a limit to the number of models that will be spun out of the 500, but the Panda range is ripe for expansion

There is "a limit" to the amount of models that can wear the 500 badge "without risking the value and genes" of the core model, according to Fiat brand chief Gianluca Italia. He has instead earmarked the Panda range for growth along the same lines as the 500 line-up has been expanded.

Responding to the suggestion that Fiat risked losing some of the allure of the 500 name with an expansion to mirror that of Mini, Italia said: "We're talking about a few models with 500 that leverage on the asset, not several. Mini is a brand, 500 isn't. Fiat is the brand so the 500 does not need to be. There is a limit."

Fiat has recently added the 500L five-seat MPV to the 500 line-up, with a seven-seat 'XL' version with two occasional-use seats in the boot to follow in September. Italia also said a new Italian-built small SUV known as 500X was "in our plans", with a 2014 launch mooted.

Italia said the 500X would "be our way to tackle the C-segment in an effective way", effectively replacing the Bravo.

But, he said, no further models would be added to the 500 line-up beyond that, explicitly ruling out coupé and roadster models.

That leaves the expansion of the Panda range to tackle Fiat's need to replace the Punto. Italia said there "were all sorts of possibilities" with how the Panda could evolve, and a model subtly larger than the current car would be a natural fit in the B-segment as a Punto replacement.

"Whatever we do with the Panda, it will always remain functional and accessible," said Italia.

Fiat has been heartened by the success of the new Panda, particularly the new Trekking and 4x4 versions. "We've never sold so many in the UK," said Italia, who hinted that a successor for the 100hp cooking hatch was also in the works.

Renault rethinks launch of new luxury sub-brand

Posted: 21 Mar 2013 01:41 AM PDT

Renault will introduce 'Initiale Paris' as a luxury trim level on the Clio in 20 'Initiale Paris' will be introduced as a trim level, with possibility for sub-brand expansion in the future

Renault has dropped plans for a luxury car that was to be based on the Mercedes E-class platform. The car was going to be sold under a new 'Initiale Paris' luxury sub-brand and priced from £40,000.

Renault CEO Carlos Tavares revealed last week that Renault "hadn't found a business model [with Mercedes] that works", but that the French would continue to pursue a luxury tie-up with the Germans.

But in a separate interview with Autocar at the recent Geneva motor show, Tavares said the first steps towards launching the Initiale Paris luxury brand would be taken next year, even if an E-class-based car was no longer being developed as its 'halo' model.

Initiale Paris will draw heavily on inspiration from French luxury goods expertise, and will initially be launched as a trim level for existing models. The first will be the Clio in 2014, with the Espace following subsequently. A succession of such models will be launched and, if they are deemed a success, spark the launch of the sub-brand.

"I can say for certain that I am not expecting it to launch soon, and even then it will take a long, long time to establish itself and grow in to a true premium brand," said Tavares. "That will be a job for at least my successor to worry about, not me."

Laurens van den Acker, Renault's head of design, said the first designs for the Clio and Espace were now almost complete. "We need to be patient and persistent, grow the brand and launch it in its own right only when the time is right."

BMW 4-series GranCoupé spied testing

Posted: 20 Mar 2013 09:12 AM PDT

BMW 4-series Gran Coupe spied testing Third variant in the 4-series range expected at the Los Angeles motor show

Prototypes of BMW's upcoming 4-series GranCoupe have joined the company's cold weather test fleet in northern Sweden less than a year before it is due to make its public premiere at the 2014 Geneva motor show.

The new four-door saloon forms part of a three-strong 4-series line-up, which will kick off with a coupé that is planned to make its debut in production form at the Frankfurt motor show in September and a cabriolet that Autocar can reveal will make its world premiere at the Los Angeles motor show in November.

The initial 4-series models replaces the existing 3-series coupé and cabriolet, with the 4-series GranCoupé set to act as a more sporting alternative to the traditional 3-series saloon. The move mirrors that of the latest 6-series line-up, which also supports coupé, cabriolet and GranCoupé models.

As evidenced by these pictures of the new car, the 4-series GranCoupe has a distinctly lower and longer profile than the 3-series saloon. A heavily curved roofline and frameless doors are aimed at providing it with coupe like visual appeal in a move not dissimilar to rival Mercedes-Benz's new CLA.  

Unlike the 4-series coupé and cabriolet, which use the same underpinnings and 2810mm wheelbase as the 3-series saloon and Touring, the 4-series GranCoupé sits on an extended version of BMW's rear-wheel drive platform and shares its 2920mm wheelbase with the recently unveiled 3-series GT and the Chinese market 3-series saloon.

The decision to base it around the longer wheelbase suggests the new style-led BMW model will offer greater rear seat leg and knee room than its long-established four door sibling, although a lower roofline and shallow glasshouse point towards reduced levels of rear-seat headroom.

The 4-series GranCoupé will be sold with a limited range of direct-injection petrol and common rail diesel engines, including 181bhp and 242bhp 2.0-litre petrols in the 420i and 428i, 141bhp and 181bhp 2.0-litre diesels in the 418d and 420d, and a 254bhp 3.0 diesel in the 430d.

An M4 GranCoupé running a new twin-turbo 3.0 straight-six with 445bhp is due in 2015. A plug-in hybrid version is also under consideration.

New York motor show: Subaru XV Hybrid

Posted: 20 Mar 2013 08:47 AM PDT

Two new Subarus for New York show Subaru will launch its first hybrid model alongside an as-yet-unnamed concept

Subaru will unveil two new cars at this month's New York motor show. The first is a hybrid version of the XV small crossover, which is to appear alongside an unnamed 'performance car concept'.

The XV Crosstrek Hybrid, as the car will be known in America, features Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel drive system. No powertrain details have been released, but the XV Hybrid is likely to feature a petrol internal combustion engine to increase its appeal with American customers. In the UK the XV is currently available with a pair of petrol engines (1.6- or 2.0-litre) and a 2.0-litre diesel.

Information on Subaru's performance car concept is even more scarce. Coming from Subaru, a flat-four boxer engine would seem likely, and the car could be an eagerly anticipated flagship version of the BRZ coupé.

Matt Bird

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