Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

New York motor show: BMW i3

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 05:47 AM PDT

New York motor show: BMW i3 BMW's new i3 to cost around £35,000, on sale later in the year

The BMW i3 hybrid will cost from around £35,000, when it goes on sale at the end of this year, with customers also being offered a variety of leasing deals to attract them to the brand.

It's set to be sold as a range-extended hybrid vehicle or as a pure electric model, with the former likely to take the bulk of sales initially.

BMW's range-extender model features an electric motor that outputs 168bhp and 184lb ft, with power to charge the battery being generated by a 650cc two-cylinder petrol engine.

All-electric versions of the i3 use the same 168bhp electric motor. Both models are limited to 93mph but are capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in 7.2sec.

"The i3 will cost high-end BMW 3-series money initially," said BMW marketing boss Ian Robertson. "But we are also working on keen lease deals, as we expect that to be popular."

He continued: "Lease deals address many of the concerns about electric cars, and allow us to bundle up packages so customers can have, for instance, the option of BMW X5 loans on weekends, according to their needs."

The i3 will be joined in the range by the BMW i8 at the end of this year. Read our exclusive first ride report in the new BMW i3 and i8 here.

Click here for more New York motor show 2013 news.

New York motor show: Volvo reveals new R-Design models

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 04:23 AM PDT

New York motor show: Volvo expands its R-Design range Volvo releases new performance-orientated R-Design versions of the S60, V60 and XC60

Volvo has unveiled new R-Design versions of its S60, V60 and XC60 models at the New York motor show.

The manufacturer claims that the new cars deliver "an outstanding blend of renewed sports appearance and a dynamic driving-focused chassis."

All three feature unique front-end styling, a matt black grille and a 'silk metal' diagonal Volvo emblem. LED daytime running lights are standard, and fitted to the outer corners. The rear end of each car benefits from a diffuser and different exhaust tailpipes. 

Inside you each new R-Design model gets sports seats as standard, with part leather trim, and a black headliner. Buyers can specify full leather seats, however. Volvo's 'Adaptive Digital Display' is fitted, offering three display modes - Elegance, Eco and Performance.

Minor R-Design cues are integrated into the cabin, including embroidered R-design logos on the seats, which Volvo claims emphasises the distinctive R-Design aura.

The engine range for the new models ranges from efficient 114bhp 1.6-litre 'D2' diesels to a 300bhp turbocharged straight-six 'T6' petrol. T6 buyers can increase their engine's output to 325bhp by specifying a factory-approved Polestar software upgrade.

T6 models also benefit from a faster-shifting automatic transmission. In the S60 T6 this helps cut the 0-62mph time from 6.1sec to 5.9sec, with similar improvements experienced by other T6-engined variants.

It's not just the engine and cosmetics that are tweaked, however. The R-Design Sport chassis sits 15mm lower than the Dynamic option , in the S60 and V60, and the spring stiffness is increased by 15 per cent.

"The driving experience should be so connected that it boosts the dynamics without making the chassis feel too raw", said Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President of research and development at Volvo. 

S60 and V60 R-Design models further benefit from rear monotube dampers, stiffer bushes and structural improvements to improve body control and response times. The XC60 R-Design chassis is also stiffer than the standard car, and gets more sports-orientated suspension and anti-roll bars.

The new S60V60 and XC60 R-Design will be offered in the UK. Volvo expects that over 30 per cent of UK buyers will opt for these cars.

Doug Speck, senior vice president of marketing, sales and service at Volvo, stated "The new R-Design models are a perfect match for performance-minded individuals with a passion for exquisite details".

New York motor show: Honda Odyssey

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 04:00 AM PDT

New York motor show: Honda Odyssey Honda's large MPV is facelifted for 2014 with a focus on improving safety

Further details have been released by Honda on its facelifted Odyssey MPV, which is to debut at the New York motor show. Increased levels of safety equipment, an updated interior and refreshed styling all feature on the 2014 model year car.

The external changes to the Odyssey include a bolder front grille and additional chrome around the front foglights. At the rear, the lights are now LED and Honda has introduced new badges also.

Inside, the Odyssey gets a revised centre console with more infotainment options. The introduction of HondaLink allows Odyssey drivers to sync a smartphone to their car and access cloud-based content. Additional safety equipment includes Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and a lane departure warning system. Structural changes have also been incorporated by Honda to improve the Odyssey's performance in US crash tests.

Perhaps the most notable piece of interior equipment is the HondaVAC, standard on Odyssey Elite models; created with Shop-VAC, it's the world's first in-car vacuum system. Stored in the Odyssey's boot, the HondaVAC never needs recharging and features an extendable hose with various attachments to reach every part of the cabin.

The 2014 model year Honda Odyssey is being exhibited at New York alongside a Fit (Jazz) EV and the Accord Plug-In. American sales of the Odyssey will this summer.

Click here for more New York motor show 2013 news.

Matt Bird

New York motor show: BMW 3-series diesel and GT

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 01:50 AM PDT

New York motor show: BMW 328d and 3-series GT A 2.0-litre diesel joins the American 3-series saloon range; all US GTs to be petrol and four-wheel drive

BMW will show two new additions to its American 3-series range at the New York motor show. The saloon receives a 328d version, and the 3-series GT makes its debut also.

It's believed that the 328d will in fact be powered by a 2.0-litre diesel, in the same way a 328i is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol. Power has been estimated at around 180bhp; given the UK-market 320d makes 181bhp, the engines in each model are probably near-identical.

Therefore performance and fuel economy should be broadly similar. Initial claims suggest a 0-60mph time of 7.2sec (Autocar recorded 7.7sec in a 320d). A predicted 45mpg 'on the highway' rating for the 328d equates to 54mpg in Britain, comparable with the 57mpg achieved as a touring mpg figure in our road test.

In America, the 328d is likely to be offered with rear-wheel drive and BMW's XDrive 4WD system. Prices will start at around $40,000, or £26,395 at current exchange rates. A 320d in Britain costs from £28,410.

The 3-series GT debuts in America soon after its European debut, indicating the importance of the US market for the car. It will be aimed at families who require more space and practicality but supposedly without the dynamic compromises of a larger car. Read our first drive of the BMW 3-series GT here.

American 3-series GTs are four-wheel drive and available with either a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol or a 3.0-litre straight-six, again with a turbo.

Prices for the 3-series GT in the US will start at around $42,000, approximately £27,800. It goes on sale this autumn.

Click here for more New York motor show 2013 news.

Matt Bird

New York motor show: Full gallery

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 01:33 AM PDT

New York motor show: Full gallery Autocar brings you the latest developments from the New York motor show, which opens its doors today

This week, the motoring world turns its attentions to the New York motor show to see the latest models in one of the biggest car markets.

And it's Jaguar Land Rover which has grabbed the big headlines. Thanks to a well-judged celebrity appearance by Daniel Craig, the all-new Range Rover Sport is the hottest property at the moment. It promises to be even better than the car it replaces, good news for British workers as it was already the most profitable car the firm makes.

Jaguar is pushing on with its expansion of the performance 'R' brand with the launch of the fastest ever XJ. The Jaguar XJR promises 542bhp, a 4.4sec 0-60 and a top speed of 174mph. Very different, but no less enticing is the limited run, track-focused £130,000 Jaguar XKR-S GT.

America's domestic car makers have seized the mantle too. The Corvette Stingray convertible is shown in North America for the first time, alongside a facelifted version of the Camaro. And the Jeep Cherokee makes a return – the first all-new Jeep to be produced under Fiat.

Other Fiat Group brands are pushing special edition models. The SRT Viper TA is a track-ready, 640bhp weapon, while the Chrysler 200 bows out with a model produced in conjunction with fashion label, Carhartt.

Autocar is reporting live from the New York motor show, so be sure to check back throughout the day for the latest developments.

Click the image above to launch our New York motor show gallery

For more New York motor show 2013 news, click here.

Why James Bond and the Range Rover Sport were the perfect fit

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 06:09 PM PDT

Why James Bond and the Range Rover Sport were the perfect fit Celebrity endorsed car launches can be fraught with danger, but Land Rover judged it just right

For a man who said not a word, in public at least, Daniel Craig, aka James Bond, aka 007, made quite an impact on the launch of the new Range Rover Sport on the eve of the New York motor show tonight.

By merely driving the car down a few closed streets in Manhattan (thank you NYPD), parking it a few feet off the intended stopping point and then posing for a few, unsmiling pictures he managed to whip the audience in to something of a frenzy – and secure Land Rover's new showroom star column inches around the world.

It could have gone so wrong. The logistics of a live broadcast in a city centre are, presumably, a nightmare. So too could it be easy to get a wrong reaction from the audience – although from the whooping and hollering I reckon the New York crowd is probably easier to please than most.

Yet it's very easy to be cynical about these things, especially when you get to watch the attending celebrities, many of whom international audiences had never heard of, pout and pose down the red carpet.

But Land Rover played it well, both with the choice of Craig, a no nonsense action man in the spirit of the Range Rover Sport itself, and by putting an emphasis on its own web broadcast, which reminded even the highest flying guest that the evening was about more than just them.

Overall, it was a short, sweet presentation of a new car that I reckon has the looks and presence to wow. The unveiling had drama, glitz and a decent rub of risk – all the sorts of qualities that Land Rover should be proud to be associated with.

And now the hoopla has calmed down, you can read the full technical story of the new car, an exclusive Q&A with designer Gerry McGovern and enjoy our first impressions of the car from the passenger seat.


Subaru WRX concept leaked ahead of New York show

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 03:40 PM PDT

Subaru WRX concept revealed ahead of New York show Leaked images show what appear to be the replacement for the Subaru WRX STI

A French blog has published what it claims to be images of the Subaru WRX Concept, ahead of an expected reveal at the New York motor show tomorrow. 

The high-quality illustrations show a car with strong visual connections to the Subaru Impreza WRX, with a pronounced bonnet scoop and a square front grille. The thick-set wings appear to be inspired by the later Impreza WRX STI hatchback.

Other external features include a rear diffuser, four exhaust tailpipes and the blue paintwork evocative of Subaru's WRC cars.

Large wheels hide what appear to be six-piston callipers, finished in yellow – another Subaru WRC hallmark. The WRX badges are in the same colour.

There is no word on technical specification, but online reports suggest a 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer engine could be fitted, producing up to 300bhp. Such an engine is likely to be an evolution of the unit fitted to the current WRX STI, still sold in markets outside of the UK.

Click here for more New York motor show 2013 news.

2014 Chevrolet Camaro revealed early

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 01:39 PM PDT

2014 Chevrolet Camaro previewed The facelifted 2014 Chevrolet Camaro has tweaked styling, but engines remain unchanged

The facelifted Chevrolet Camaro appeared on an American daytime TV show today, ahead of its official reveal at the New York motor show tomorrow.

The show, Live! with Kelly and Michael, briefly revealed the car with subtly tweaked styling. The headlights and grille are narrower than before, and the twin rear light units have been replaced by one-piece rectangular clusters.

Few changes appear to have been made to the interior, and while no official announcement will be made until tomorrow, the show reports power output is unchanged.

That means a 323bhp V6 in LS and LT models, a 426bhp V8 in SS models and a V8 tuned to 580bhp in supercharged ZL1 models. The facelift will be applied to both coupe and convertible models.

Click here for more New York motor show 2013 news.

New York motor show: Jeep Cherokee

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 12:12 PM PDT

New York motor show: Jeep Cherokee New Jeep Cherokee promises improved fuel economy, superior handling and better build quality

The all-new Jeep Cherokee off-roader has been revealed in full prior to the New York motor show. 

It's the first Jeep to utilise Chrysler's new 'Compact U.S. Wide' platform, which benefits from independent front and rear suspension. 

Jeep claims that its new Cherokee will deliver world-class on-road dynamics, improved fuel economy and a wide range of equipment

Offered initially with a nine-speed automatic gearbox, a choice of two engines, three types of 4x4 system and a host of safety and technology options, Jeep hopes that the Cherokee will compete strongly in the mid-size SUV segment. 

The bold styling, which features aerodynamic design cues that are claimed to combine the company's heritage with advanced technology, resembles that of the recently revised Grand Cherokee.

Inside, the driver-orientated cabin is said to feature premium materials throughout and a high standard of build quality. Cloth or leather seats are available, as well as upgraded seats with electric adjustment, a memory function and heating and cooling. Buyers can also specify a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel and a wireless charging pad, useful for those with numerous mobile devices.

A 3.5-inch greyscale screen, or an optional 7-inch colour unit, in the instrument cluster can be configured by the driver to display information about economy, navigation, cruise control settings or the Jeep's four-wheel-drive system. 

The standard multimedia system is a 5-inch touchscreen unit, and a larger 8.4-inch system is offered which also includes BlueTooth and sat-nav. A park assistance package is available, as well as myriad practicality and off-road orientated upgrades. Standard safety kit includes ten airbags and stability control.

Engine options will initially consist of a 2.4-litre four-cylinder 'Tigershark' petrol engine, or a new 3.2-litre V6 'Pentastar' petrol engine. The Tigershark engine uses Fiat's MultiAir technology and produces 184bhp and 171lb ft.

The 3.2-litre V6 petrol delivers a significantly higher 271bhp and 239lb ft of torque. No specific economy figures are quoted for the V6, but the 2.4-litre four cylinder is claimed to average an acceptable 37mpg.

The nine-speed transmission is Chrysler's own and is reputedly capable of delivering aggressive launches, smooth power delivery and improved fuel efficiency. 

Power is transferred to all four wheels by one of three four-wheel drive systems. The entry-level 'Active Drive I' is automatic and can switch in and out of 4WD at any speed. The 'Active Drive II' option adds a low-range mode, with a locking centre diff, and a 1" increase in ride hight.

Those determined to head deep off-road can opt for the 'Active Drive Lock' system, which adds a locking rear differential for improved traction in poor conditions. All come with Jeep's Selec-Terrain traction control which offers multiple modes for different surfaces. 

Jeep's new Cherokee also marks the debut of Chrysler's Adaptive Cruise Control Plus, which can bring the vehicle to a complete stop in certain conditions. It uses radar and video sensors to observe vehicles in front, braking the vehicle to maintain a driver-defined gap. If the gap is reduced dramatically, the stability control system can bring the Jeep to a complete halt, even if the driver doesn't touch the brakes.

"The all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee will be the benchmark for mid-size SUVs, with a new level of on-road driving dynamics and fuel economy, while at the same time improving the 4x4 capability that customers expect from Jeep", said Mike Manley, boss of the Jeep brand.

When launched in the US, four different models will be available: Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk.

Click here for more New York motor show 2013 news.

Range Rover Sport: Gerry McGovern Q&A

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 09:06 AM PDT

Range Rover Sport: Gerry McGovern Q&A Autocar talks to Land Rover's design boss, Gerry McGovern, to discover why the Range Rover Sport is an essential model for his brand

The all-new Range Rover Sport has been revealed at the New York motor show. Land Rover says its the most agile vehicle it has ever produced and one which will attract new customers to the brand.

Steve Cropley talks to Land Rover's design director, Gerry McGovern, to discuss the new Range Rover Sport.

What were the design priorities on this project?

"This was a new vehicle for a new era. We had to be careful not to dilute the Range Rover DNA, which is such a huge asset. We had to understand the audience's needs and make the car more desirable. The words we use for this product are 'dramatic', 'grounded', 'athletic' and 'powerful'. Every line and feature had to be there for a reason."

The new Sport looks very different from the last. Why?

"We believe Range Rover Sport buyers are a bit younger and more receptive to change than buyers of the flagship. They're happy to move on, so we've tried to make that possible. Besides, there were flaws in the old one that needed correcting."

>> Range Rover Sport: first ride impressions

>> Range Rover Sport: full technical details

What things do you mean?

"The corners aren't so block-like now. That's a step forward. And the rear wheels are in the right place. They were wrong before, and the rear overhang drew attention to it. Getting the proportions right makes a big difference."

Was it important to convey the extra efficiency of the model in your design?

"Not just efficiency, but sustainability. These are really important factors if SUVs are to fit into the future. This model is half a tonne lighter, and it's made of aluminium, a very recyclable material. There wouldn't have been a case for making it look heavy or cumbersome. We've tried to do the opposite." 

How would you describe the different characters of the Sport and the flagship?

"The Range Rover has a majestic quality. You sit up high and waft along. In the Range Rover Sport, you're cocooned in a more sporting environment. It's luxurious, but a lot less formal."

What are your hopes for the Range Rover Sport?

"Success, of course. I'm confident we can grow the customer base. And the world market for SUVs is predicted to be 22 million units by 2020 — about 10m more than now."

>> Range Rover Sport: first ride impressions

>> Range Rover Sport: full technical details

Click here for more New York motor show 2013 news.

Audi A3 and S3 saloons officially revealed

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 08:32 AM PDT

Audi A3 saloon officially revealed Audi A3 saloon to rival Mercedes CLA; four-wheel drive S3 variant to follow in 2014

This new compact saloon variant of the Audi A3 will be coming to the UK this autumn. A potent 296bhp Audi S3 version of the new four-door will also be part of the line-up, seen here officially for the first time ahead of its Shanghai motor show reveal next month. Although the cars are pictured here in America, it will not be shown at the New York motor show.

The A3 saloon, which has the Mercedes CLA as its chief rival, is 4460mm long, 1796mm wide and 1416mm high, with a wheelbase of 2400mm. This makes it 150mm longer, 11mm wider and 9mm lower than the A3 Sportback on which it is based, with the pair sharing the same 2636mm wheelbase.

These dimensions also make it 170mm shorter, 19mm wider and 19mm lower than the Mercedes CLA. The wheelbase of the CLA is 63mm longer than the A3 saloon's.

"This is a car that will attract young professionals to the brand, people with their first managerial job, perhaps with only young children, but who want to enjoy their success," said an Audi spokesman. China is expected to be the biggest market for the car, with younger, wealthy businessmen increasingly opting to drive rather than be driven, followed by the US. In Europe, sales will concentrate on Russia, Germany and the UK.

The obvious styling change over the A3 Sportback is the addition of a boot, but revisions have also been made to the bonnet, bumpers, air intakes and wheel arches to give the A3 saloon a lower, sleeker profile and stance next to the A3 Sportback. Audi says the overall looks adds "the coupe philosophy" to a three-box saloon. 

The boot capacity is 425 litres, some 45 litres more than the A3 Sportback. The rest of the cabin is otherwise identical to the A3 Sportback's.

Three engines familiar from the rest of the A3 range will be offered from launch: 138bhp 1.4 TFSI and 178bhp 1.8 TFSI petrols, and a 148bhp 2.0 TDI diesel. 

The four-wheel drive S3 saloon will be introduced early next year. Its 2.0 TFSI engine helps propel it from 0-62mph in 4.9secs when equipped with the optional six-speed double-clutch S-tronic automatic gearbox. A six-speed manual, with a 0-62mph time of 5.3sec, is standard.


New York motor show: Jaguar XKR-S GT

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 08:01 AM PDT

New York motor show: Jaguar XKRS-GT Jaguar commemorates 25 years of its R brand with limited-edition XKR-S GT

Jaguar is commemorating 25 years of its R performance brand with the most focused road-going version of its XK ever.

The XKR-S GT, which joins the new XJR at the New York motor show this week, is a track-ready version of the XKR-S that remains road legal.

Power comes from a 542bhp supercharged 5.0-litre V8 that sends power to the rear wheels through a six-speed auto' gearbox. The GT is good for a 0-60mph time of 3.9sec, some 0.3sec quicker than the standard XKR. Although Jaguar says the car is theoretically capable of 200mph, it is limited to 186mph.

The GT features a bespoke aerodynamic package that includes a carbonfibre front splitter, dive planes, extended wheel arch spats, a rear diffuser and a large fixed rear wing. Maximum downforce of 145kg is said to be achieved.

Carbon ceramic brake discs are fitted, a first for Jaguar. New front and rear suspension systems also feature, including a wider front track, increased camber, revised bushings and a new steering system with a faster ratio. Bespoke, height-adjustable dampers are another addition that feature a race-derived twin spring system.

Completing the transformation are special lightweight 20in alloys shod in 255/35 Pirelli Corsa rubber at the front and 305/30 tyres at the rear.

Just 30 examples of the £130,000 model will be made – 25 for the US and five for Canada. However, Jaguar says it will consider right-hand drive models for the UK and other markets if demand is sufficient. 

Click here for more New York motor show 2013 news.

New York motor show: Kia Soul

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 07:45 AM PDT

New York motor show: Kia Soul Kia promises more dynamic prowess and improved interior space from its new Soul, unveiled at the New York motor show today

The all-new Kia Soul, unveiled today at the New York motor show, is claimed to offer a more engaging driving experience and more interior space than the car it replaces. 

Kia says the new Soul is based on a chassis that's longer, wider and stiffer than the current car, which has allowed engineers to reduce NVH and maximise space in the passenger and cargo compartments.

The styling has been influenced by the Kia Track'ster. Kia's Californian-based design team have retained a number of design cues from the current Soul, but elements such as the trapezoidal lower grille and positioning of the front fog lights are a direct carry-over from the Track'ster. Kia's grille has been reworked to closely mirror that of the concept.

A "floating" body colour panel in the tailgate is another signature from the Track'ster. Kia says the tailgate is six centremetres wider to aid access.

The new Kia Soul records increases in front and rear legroom and front head and shoulder room, and is claimed to be easier to climb in and out of. A range of noise-reducing materials sees noise levels reduced by 3db.

The new Soul improves on the hard plastics fitted to the current car. Soft-touch materials are fitted to the instrument panel, centre console and door panels. Leather trim will be offered as an option.

Interior features include an eight-inch touchscreen, which operates Kia's latest telematics and infotainment system and combines with an Android operating system and Pandora internet radio. 

Although UK specification is yet to be revealed, US-market models will be offered in three trim levels: Base Soul, Soul Plus and Soul Exclaim.

Kia says it has focused attention on the Soul's chassis. The front subframe uses four bushings – the current car has none – and the shock absorbers on the rear torsion bar are now mounted vertically allowing for more suspension travel.

Two petrol engines are offered in the North American market, although a diesel is expected to be available in the UK. The 1.6-litre engine develops 130bhp and 118lb ft, while a 2.0-litre unit produces 164bhp and 151lb ft. 

New York motor show: Volkswagen Golf US debut

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 07:36 AM PDT

New York motor show: Volkswagen Golf Latest iteration of VW's legendary hatchback makes its American debut

This week's New York motor show will see the American debut of the Volkswagen Golf Mk 7. The European Car of the Year 2013 will go on sale in America early in 2014 for the 2015 model year.

VW will exhibit three variants of the Golf; alongside the latest GTI, the 1.8-litre TSI turbocharged petrol and 2.0-litre TDI diesel will also be on show. The TSI engine replaces an in-line five-cylinder powerplant in the US, indicating how widespread the need for downsizing has become.

The Golfs sold in the US will be identical to those on sale already in Europe. Underpinned by VW's MQB architecture, the Mk 7 Golf is lighter, faster and more efficient than the previous Mk 6. Following the introduction of the above models, expect the American range to expand and include a flagship R, all-wheel drive 4Motion variants and a hybrid.

Click here for more New York motor show 2013 news.

Matt Bird

New York motor show: Range Rover Sport

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 07:26 AM PDT

New York motor show: Range Rover Sport Full story of how the new Range Rover Sport manages is lighter, quicker and more agile than before

The all-new Range Rover Sport, revealed at the New York motor show, is a model described by Land Rover design boss Gerry McGovern as being "the Porsche 911 of SUVs".

It's his way of emphasising the essential difference between the all-new Sport — due in showrooms in September — and the recently launched, considerably larger Range Rover flagship  which shares many of the Sport's underpinnings but not its essential character. "We've taken ride, handling and agility to another level in the Sport," adds brand boss John Edwards. "This is the fastest, most agile and most responsive Land Rover ever."

The first-generation Sport rapidly achieved halo status as JLR's most profitable car, scoring impressive success in the US and especially in Manhattan — hence the decision to unveil the second-generation car at the New York motor show this week. Sales have always been strong; even last year it notched up 56,000 sales, its second-best result to date.

>> Steve Cropley talks to design boss Gerry McGovern

>> Range Rover Sport: first ride impressions

The styling — more sophisticated and sporty than before — makes obvious reference via the floating roof and basic proportions to the 'senior' Range Rover, but it is both low and compact in comparison, with greater windscreen rake, a forward control aspect and pronounced wheel arches and haunches that advertise its dynamic priorities. "It's dramatic and powerful, with immense road presence," claims McGovern.     

The new Sport has much more in common with the Range Rover than the old model, sharing most of its primary suspension and transmission parts and key components of its aluminium monocoque chassis (adopted instead of the original model's heavy, old-tech, twin-rail steel chassis). The new car is 62mm longer than the outgoing Sport, but still 149mm shorter than the flagship Range Rover, while its wheelbase is 178mm longer than that of its predecessor. Thus its rear overhang is markedly shorter than before and the redesigned cabin offers both more rear-seat knee room and space for an optional pair of electrically powered, fold-down, child-friendly seats forming a third row, making this a '5+2' SUV for the first time. 

Weight saving is a highlight of the new Sport. Engineers claim a 'real-world' saving of around half a tonne over the previous model, though that is calculated by comparing the latest high-output V6 with the previous diesel V8, which offers similar performance. If you compare old and new V6s directly, the difference is a still-impressive 420kg. 

Engineers have also chased efficiency through aerodynamics. The Sport has movable vanes in its cooling system to cut drag on the move, plus near-flush glazing and a smooth underfloor panel to reduce the drag coefficient to 0.34.

>> Steve Cropley talks to design boss Gerry McGovern

>> Range Rover Sport: first ride impressions

At launch, the Sport will be offered with a choice of two engines: a 288bhp 3.0 SDV6 diesel and a 503bhp supercharged 5.0-litre petrol V8. These will be joined next year by a 254bhp TDV6 diesel and a 334bhp 4.4-litre SDV8 'super-diesel' with a 6.5sec 0-60mph time. Later in 2014 we'll see a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine option — broadly similar in performance to the outgoing V8 diesel.

These engines (all of which incorporate stop-start) send their power through an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox to a permanent 4x4 system. But in a big break with the past, the Sport will be offered either with a two-speed transfer case that offers the traditional high range and low range and a 50/50 front/rear torque split, or a single-speed transfer case with a default 42/58 per cent torque split to give a rear-drive bias for sharper on-road handling. 

Towards the end of 2014, Land Rover promises to deliver a "highly innovative" diesel-electric hybrid version of the Sport that will emit only 169g/km of CO2. 

The suspension features air springs and uses many of the same lightweight components as the new Range Rover, but the rates of the springs and continuously variable dampers are biased much more towards handling than the Range Rover's luxury-focused set-up, and there's a new Dynamic setting in the Terrain Response menu to best configure the car for energetic on-road driving. Variable-ratio electric power steering is adopted, with its gearing sharpened to three turns between locks.

>> Steve Cropley talks to design boss Gerry McGovern

>> Range Rover Sport: first ride impressions

The whole chassis bristles with electronic driver aids, including roll stability control, corner brake control and engine-drag torque control to go with the more familiar hill descent control, stability control and hill-start assist.

The interior draws much from the conventions established by the previous Range Rover Sport model: driver-orientated controls, slightly lower driving position than the Range Rover (by about 20mm) and a high and very prominent centre console, all of which help to give the whole thing a sporting aspect. But there's much progress in the execution, which is more sophisticated in design, includes new kit like an optional head-up display, simplifies the controls and generally reaches a higher level of quality that's perceptible as soon as you experience it. McGovern cites "cleaner, purer surfaces", and the materials quality has taken another big step forward. What's more, 

there's much more choice for owners: lots of colours and textures and no fewer than 11 designer-endorsed 'themes'.

At launch, the SDV6 will cost between £59,995 and £74,995, but the TDV6 will reduce the Range Rover Sport's entry price to around £51,550 when it arrives next year. The Supercharged Autobiography, with its 5.0-litre V8 tops the range priced at £81,550.

Click here for more New York motor show 2013 news.

Range Rover Sport: first ride impressions

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 06:53 AM PDT

Range Rover Sport: first ride impressions Matt Prior takes an exclusive first ride in the new Range Rover Sport

Things I can't tell you: what it's like. Things I can tell you: what they've done, how they've done it, why they've done it and… holy moly… that they're about to take a corner on a gravel road at a speed that I really don't think is advisable in a Range Rover Sport and… oh, no, it's okay – we haven't crashed.

I'm at Walters Arena, not far from Swansea, south Wales. It used to be an open-cast mine but has now been repurposed as a home to 13 wind turbines, and several stages of Wales Rally GB, along with other motorsport events. 

It has also become a third or fourth home to some Land Rover testers, who have supplemented their UK engineering facilities at Gaydon and Eastnor Castle with Walters' fast, gravel-screed roads. It's ideal for higher-speed off-road testing, as Land Rover's off-road attributes manager, Jason Walters (no relation to the location), and vehicle engineering manager Craig Carter explain from the cabin of this fast-moving 'L494', or new Range Rover Sport to you and me, in whose passenger seat I'm sitting.

>> Steve Cropley talks to design boss Gerry McGovern

>> Range Rover Sport: full technical details

I still quite like the current Range Rover Sport, if I'm honest, but Carter and Walters, as you might expect, are keen to tell me what they've done to improve on it.

We're sitting in an SDV6, the launch diesel model and the more powerful of the two 3.0-litre V6 oil-burners that will be offered, at 288bhp and 443lb ft. A 254bhp TDV6 will join it later, as will a 4.4 SDV8 (334bhp and 516lb ft). At launch there will also be a 5.0 Supercharged V8 petrol model with 503bhp and 461lb ft.

The UK market won't get the supercharged 3.0 V6 available elsewhere, developed for additional off-road durability from the new Jaguar unit, but we will get a diesel hybrid and, later still, an in-line four-cylinder petrol.

Land Rover claims the new in-line four will bring the Range Rover Sport's kerb weight down to less than 2000kg and prove more than 500kg lighter than a current V6 diesel. 

But despite similarly grand claims about the new Range Rover's lighter shell over its predecessor, we didn't see such a big gap when it came to the scales. Why should it be different this time?

For a start, the new Sport is developed from the latest Range Rover's aluminium architecture, which, in the Range Rover's case, replaced a largely aluminium car anyway. When it comes to the Sport, this new platform replaces the one used by the current Sport and the Discovery, which features twin steel chassis rails like a separate ladder, on top of which is bolted a steel monocoque. 

>> Steve Cropley talks to design boss Gerry McGovern

>> Range Rover Sport: full technical details

At the time of their introduction, Land Rover claimed that this platform offered the best of both worlds, but there's no question that it also included the weight of both. The upcoming four-pot Sport will not only be on an aluminium platform for the first time, but it will also lose a low-range gearset. Even so, "we can get that base car anywhere a current Sport will go", says Walters. 

What that four-pot will retain is, like this SDV6, an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, whose selector is – unlike that of the latest Range Rover and most Jaguars – a stick rather than a rotary dial. 

The F-Type gets this too. It's a visual reminder of the sporting intent of these models, according to Land Rover – oxymoron though you might think that is on a car that weighs comfortably more than two tonnes in base V6 form and, I would think, considerably more after you have added some choice options. 

But there are other sporting cues, too. The cabin architecture of the Sport is largely borrowed from its larger Range Rover brother (the 'button count' is down by 50 per cent on the existing model's) but, compared with the last Sport, the steering wheel is 15mm smaller, and there's an extra 2deg of rake to the windscreen and 15mm more tumblehome at the top of the glass. It's a sleeker external shape.

The biggest differences, though, are allowed by the new platform. The driver sits 20mm lower than previously, in a similar posture to the Evoque's. Making best use of the abandonment of under-chassis rails, the Sport sits 4mm lower overall than the old car but has 50mm more ground clearance. 

That the floor is higher and the roof lower means different seating in the rear, where occupants sit 42mm lower than before. "It's less 'stadium seating' and more 'chaise longue'," says Carter. 

Yet because the wheelbase is up by 178mm over the outgoing Sport (and just 1mm different from the Range Rover's), there is a lot more rear legroom.

But back to Walters Arena, and going quite quickly. Walters (Jason, not Arena) is down here about three or four times a month, he explains, although sometimes testers are left here for a few weeks at a time, honing and tuning. The Sport will get its fair share of acronyms and initialisms and mostly they're electronically controlled, so there are huge options open to engineers when it comes to tweaking and finessing.

"What we try to do is find as many different surfaces as possible," says Walters, at the wheel. "You can set up a dynamic ride on the road, but on surfaces such as this it's unbearable," he says, as we tear across yet more gravel, along access roads that are bordered by trees and mud. Little pathways spear off into mud and streams and up and down shockingly steep hills. 

>> Steve Cropley talks to design boss Gerry McGovern

>> Range Rover Sport: full technical details

So there's great scope here for tuning. Even base Sports will get air suspension, and there are adaptive dampers, but the other goodies come higher up in the range. 

Active roll control is available. This pumps up the air suspension in both pitch and roll, to keep the body flatter under acceleration, deceleration and cornering, yet can slacken off to retain ride quality on poorer surfaces. 

There is a Dynamic Pack, which will bring with it the option of sharpening the steering ratio (already the quickest yet fitted to a Land Rover) and pedal response, and will include an E-differential, an electronically controlled, locking rear differential. 

And there's TVVB, or torque vectoring via braking. "Conceptually, it's similar to the system used in the McLaren 12C," says Carter. Indeed, it was initially developed for the road – where it operates only beyond 0.6g – but its ability to brake an inside rear wheel has proven exceptionally handy for keeping the back end turning off road, too. "On ice, we've never before held a line like we can in this car," says Carter.

In conditions like today's, the Walters Arena gravel is quite grippy, but "weather conditions can change how it feels dramatically", says Walters J. "When it's wet, it can feel like a sheet of ice." 

I'm still looking at the place like it's basically a massive playground, but it's clear to see why it's so useful for tuning. There are so many surfaces here, including wading ditches and a rock crawl that Land Rover has built. There are other areas with loose rocks in the UK but, almost by definition, the rocks have moved by the time you come back to test again. Here, they're fixed.

It's all very impressive, but does anyone really notice? Apparently, so. Land Rover questions current owners and has found that every one of them will put their car's Terrain Response system – the dial on the dashboard that controls power distribution, differential locking, stability program modes and all that malarkey – into its 'Grass/Gravel/Snow' setting at least once a year. Some 65 per cent of owners use that setting for at least 120 miles a year.

As with the latest Range Rover, there's an automatic setting on the new Sport's Terrain Response. Left in auto, there's no visual indication of which mode the car adopts, but Walters can tell the Sport's choice by the way it responds. Why no visual clue? "Sometimes, it puts you into modes you wouldn't expect, like Sand when there's 200-300mm of snow. That can lead customers to think there's something wrong with it."

As ever with these things, the car goes places you wouldn't expect. Cars always go further off road than I think they ought to – keep moving when I think they should get stuck. I'm told that the Sport has 448mm of wheel travel as standard and 548mm in models with active roll control. Currently, it's 430mm (a BMW X5 has 330mm). The approach angle is 31deg, breakover angle 27deg and departure angle 33deg – so the back should follow wherever the front will go. Our test car wears 275/45 R21 Goodyear Eagle 4x4 tyres, but options range from 19-inch to 22-inch rims.

But it's the conversations and anecdotes, rather than the stats, that I like. At the end of a track, I spot a hill so steep, and with trees growing so far out of it, that you couldn't even walk up it. There are tyre tracks leading part-way up it at the bottom. "You don't go up that?" I ask. "No," says Walters, "but we see how far we can get." 

Partly it's for a giggle, but there is a purpose to it. "The diagnostics needs to accept that it's possible for all wheels to be spinning at the same 60mph yet the car isn't moving," says Walters. The risk is that, if the car thinks the two are incompatible, it deduces that it is going at 60mph and, say, drops the ride height accordingly or adjusts its ESP settings. The ESP and ABS can be much more aggressive, too, without increasing cabin noise, because the six-piston ABS sensor is located behind the headlight, as far from the bulkhead as is possible. It's all but inaudible in its operation.

When wading, sensors on the air suspension detect that the body is rising, because its natural buoyancy lifts it. In a Land Rover, that tells the suspension to put itself on its highest setting to account for the water and keep the wheels on the deck. In some rivals, to try to maintain the selected ride height, the suspension collapses to its lowest setting, ultimately denying traction.

>> Steve Cropley talks to design boss Gerry McGovern

>> Range Rover Sport: full technical details

All well and good but, let's face it, it has 'Sport' in the title and most of the time these cars will be used on the road. So they take me for a spin on the road in a Supercharged petrol variant. I'll put my impressions aside (apart from the fact that it's fast and sounds pretty good), because I'm not driving, but there are things worth knowing. This car sits 8mm lower to the ground than the Range Rover, "because we wanted to get the centre of roll and the centre of gravity closer together", says Carter. 

The drop in height is why the wheelbase has grown by 1mm in the process, but it's not as simple as just lowering the Range Rover. "All the things that connect the wheel to the steering wheel are different," says Carter, "which is not good for the budget, but that's how crucial the 8mm was to us." Although there is a shared platform, if you count the number of chassis and body components, just 25 per cent are common between the two models.

"We've had to do more testing with this car than any other," says Carter, but it has helped that the body is 39 per cent stiffer than the current model's. "It's allowed us to fine-tune the dampers to a level we haven't managed before," he says. "Before, we had to treat the chassis as part of the suspension." 

The aim is to create a car that will feel notably keener and flatter than a Range Rover, accepting some ride quality compromise on the way. Carter admits that there are some exceptional rivals, the Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen Touareg and BMW X5 among them.

With a refreshing dose of honesty, he admits that some will be "outright that touch better" in extremes on a track. "But we always sell on mud and snow tyres," he says, "and the rivals won't be better by a margin that we're better in the other dimension." I'm intrigued to find out. 

Range Rover Sport SDV6 

Price £60,000 (est); 0-60mph 6.8sec; Top speed 130mph; Economy TBC; CO2 199g/km; Engine 2993cc, V6, turbodiesel; Power 288bhp; Torque 442lb ft; Gearbox 8spd auto

New York motor show: Scion tC

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 05:50 AM PDT

New York motor show: Scion tC A new Scion tC will be launched at New York to face an ever-growing list of fresh rivals

Toyota's youth-focused Scion offshoot will launch the Scion tC coupe at the New York motor show. The front-wheel drive coupe will continue in Scion's range underneath the FR-S (Toyota GT86).Scion's changes to the tC will need to address falling US sales; compared to 2012, 15 per cent fewer tCs were sold in the first two months of 2013. This has been partially attributed to the success of competitors such as the Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte.

At present, the tC is offered with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes. No powertrain details for the new tC have been confirmed by Scion.

The official unveiling of the 2014 model year Scion tC is on Thursday (28th March), where its full specification will be announced.

Click here to see more New York motor show 2013 news.

Matt Bird

New York motor show: Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 05:05 AM PDT

New York motor show: Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Nissan's large Pathfinder SUV will share a petrol-electric drivetrain with the Infiniti QX60

Nissan will introduce a hybrid variant to its American Pathfinder range at the New York motor show. The SUV promises significantly improved fuel efficiency over the standard US Pathfinder, powered by a 3.5-litre V6.

The Pathfinder Hybrid will share its powertrain with the Infiniti QX60, also making its debut at New York. This means an electric motor will assist a supercharged 2.5-litre petrol engine, providing increased torque as well as the improvement to fuel economy.

No further details of either car have yet been released, but expect the Pathfinder ALL-MODE selectable 4WD system to make it onto the hybrid version. It is yet to be confirmed whether the Pathfinder's seven-seat capacity will be impinged upon to include the batteries for the electric motor.

Click here for more New York motor show 2013 news.

Matt Bird

Autocar magazine 27 March preview

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 04:27 AM PDT

Autocar magazine 27 March preview New York motor show latest; production-spec Peugeot 208 GTI driven; Renault Zoe: first verdict; goodbye to our Subaru XV

With the New York motor show kicking off on Wednesday morning, many of the cover stars of this week''s Autocar magazine remain under embargo. Suffice to say that should only heighten your expectations for an action-packed issue full of the first pictures and full stories on many new cars.

The first drive of the production-specification Peugeot 208 GTI leads our first drive section, with the all-new hot hatch vying for attention alongside the Ford Fiesta ST and Renault Clio RS 200. At the other end of the emissions scale, but no less impressive, is our first verdict on the Renault Zoe electric car. The full eight-page road test pores over every detail of the new Mitsubishi Outlander.

Just as with our news section, the features section is subject to several manufacturer embargoes. As well as two world exclusive, in-depth looks at two– secret –new British-built cars, Steve Cropley pays a visit to the Motor Museum at Gaydon, unearthing some of its many highlights, and Mark Tisshaw spends the day as a Green Flag patrolman out on the UK's roads.

Our used car content stars a comprehensive buying guide to the BMW M5, now a surprisingly affordable option for thrill seekers, while James Ruppert casts his off-beat eye over cheap classic cars. We also ask which car you''d buy with a £29,000 budget: a new Vauxhall Cascada or a used Audi S5?

Our long-term test fleet updates include bidding farewell to the rugged but imperfect Subaru XV, and updates on the Jaguar XK R-S, Volvo V40, Ford Focus and Ruppert's Shed Seven — his veteran BMW 728i.

Autocar magazine is available through all good newsagents, and available to download from Zinio and the Apple iTunes store.

New York motor show preview

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 03:54 AM PDT

New York motor show preview New York plays host to a wealth of new cars over the coming week. Read on for all you need to know

This year's New York motor show features a number of important debuts; Land Rover will officially take the wraps off the new Range Rover Sport, the Mercedes CLA 45 AMG is being premiered and Infiniti will show its latest QX60 SUV. Here's the definitive Autocar list of the show cars.

Acura MDX 

The seven-seat SUV from Honda's premium arm will offer front-wheel drive for the first time. Expect the styling of the third-generation car to closely mirror the recently seen concept.

Buick LaCrosse 

Buick plans to launch or significantly facelift five of its models in 2013. The LaCrosse gets updated styling and a revised interior — featuring an upgraded IntelliLink infotainment system. Front- and four-wheel drive will be available.

Buick Regal 

The Vauxhall Insignia-based Regal will gain cosmetic tweaks in line with its Vauxhall twin. Styling is likely to borrow from the Cascada and the interior will be updated.

Cadillac CTS 

In an attempt to boost falling sales, Cadillac's 5-series rival has received a detailed overhaul. Styling cues are borrowed from the ATS and a new twin-turbo V6 will top the engine range.

Chevrolet Camaro facelift 

Details are currently scarce on Chevrolet's plans for its legendary muscle car. Expect mild styling tweaks and more power for the 2014 model year Camaro.

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible 

The Corvette C7 convertible will make its American debut at New York. With no structural changes over the coupé, the weight gain is only from the fabric hood. The powertrain is identical, meaning a 6.2-litre V8 with 450bhp and a seven-speed manual gearbox.

Chevrolet SS 

The SS marks the return of a sporting saloon flagship for the first time in 17 years. It's powered by Chevrolet's venerable 6.2-litre V8, producing 411bhp. The SS will also be sold in Australia as a Holden.

Dodge Durango

The US-market Dodge Durango will be facelifted at New York. as well as mild cosmetic tweaks, the Durango will also receive a 3.0-litre V6 diesel and eight-speed automatic transmission.

Hyundai Equus 

Hyundai's flagship saloon is to become even more opulent as part of its facelift. Reclining rear seats are now standard, and TFT instrumentation is also fitted. Aesthetically, the new Equus can be identified by its LED headlights.

Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid 

The Accord range-extender will be the most efficient saloon on sale in America, with an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) fuel economy figure of 115mpg. There are currently no plans to introduce the Accord Plug-In to Britain.

Honda Fit Hybrid

In other markets, the Honda Jazz is known as the Fit. The EV offers a range of 82 miles and the electric motors develop 189lb ft of torque. As with the Accord, the Fit/Jazz EV appears unlikely to arrive in Britain.

Infiniti QX60

The QX60 is Infiniti's replacement for the FX50 SUV. It will introduce a petrol-electric hybrid to the range in a bid to attract more sales in Britain. Infiniti claims the QX60 hybrid will be 24 per cent more efficient than the 3.7-litre V6.

Jaguar XJR 

Jaguar's flagship saloon is returning with a 542bhp 5.0-litre V8. The XJR's cosmetic changes are subtle over the standard XJ and include a small front lip spoiler, darkened mesh grille and new five-spoke alloys.

Jeep Cherokee 

The latest Cherokee will rival the Land Rover Freelander when it arrives later this year. It is underpinned by Fiat's Compact Wide platform and powered by a range of downsized petrol and diesel engines.

Mercedes CLA 45 AMG 

Mercedes will show the range-topping version of its latest saloon at New York. Using the drivetrain of the A45 AMG, the CLA AMG is powered by a 355bhp 2.0-litre turbo and is four-wheel drive.

Mitsubishi Mirage 

The Mirage replaces the Colt in Mitsubishi's range and is offered with a pair of three-cylinder engines, both emitting less than 100g/km. The Colt will cost from £8999.

Range Rover Sport 

The second-generation Range Rover Sport is based on the Premium Lightweight Architecture (PLA) of the latest Range Rover. Its styling is inspired by the Evoque and will offer the option of seven seats.

Shelby Mustang GT500 S/C 1000 

Limited to just 100 units, the S/C 1000 boasts 1183bhp thanks to a reworked 5.8-litre V8. Brakes and suspension are also upgraded to cope with the power. Shelby is charging approximately £102,000 for each S/C 1000.

SRT Viper TA 

The Time Attack Viper is a track-focused version of SRT's supercar. Just 33 will be made with upgraded suspension and Brembo brakes.

Toyota Highlander 

Toyota's large SUV is being revised for the New York show. It takes cues from the latest RAV4 to make it more family friendly whilst its V6 petrol engines are likely to become more efficient.

Click here for more New York motor show 2013 news.

Matt Bird

Peugeot 208 GTI first drive review

Posted: 21 Mar 2013 07:24 AM PDT

Peugeot 208 GTI first drive review Peugeot re-enters the hot hatch fray with its 208 GTI, but does the firm still understand what those three letters mean? The final production version of the 208 GTI we drove last week. Spec-wise it comes out of the box much as the preview indicated: a lower, leaner, quicker version of Peugeot's supermini - keen to trade on its legendary badge, but not particularly beholden to its spirit. This is, as we expected, a softer and subtler brand of GTI. Peugeot may roll out the memory of the 205 for these occasions like a faltering NASA spokesman referencing the Apollo moon landings, but away from the advertising campaign it readily admits that this is a much more mature model than its landmark scamp - developed to fit the broader requirements of a likely older audience. Consequently, unlike some demonically tweaked rivals, the 208 is only gently differentiated from its lesser siblings. Whether you like it or not will therefore depend on how much you appreciated the template. But for our money the GTI would need a deeper, far costlier graft than just a new grille to make its less-than-pretty nose genuinely appealing. Nevertheless its tidy profile is picked out well enough by a skinny set of arches, side skirts, and a prominent rear spoiler. Add to that a questionable splatter of chrome-effect body trim and a raft of badges, and the 208 makes it to familiar hot hatch styling territory.Beneath it all, swaddled in a rearranged set of ancillaries and close-fitting bodywork is the now customary four-cylinder 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine now running its higher 197bhp RCZ output. Around that Peugeot has installed the usual hot hatch accouterments: a reinforced front subframe compliments fatter struts, sports springs, tauter dampers and beefier anti-roll bars, while bigger brakes and revised steering settings help better control the show. As well as adding, the GTI benefits from Peugeot's earlier decision to subtract: the car is 165kg lighter than the lardy 207 GTI at 1160kg. Not featherlight then, but an improvement - especially considering that (again, in keeping with its acknowledged target audience) it's decently equipped with 17-inch alloys, DAB radio, dual-zone air con and rear parking sensors all standard. 

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