Facebook makes a car that won't appeal to all tastes in the way it looks or drives
It’s the car that Facebook built, after Citroën asked its Facebook followers to design a special edition of the C1.Around 24,000 responses later and the most popular design that emerged is this, the Connexion. It's something that looks like a negative image of a ladybird, with red door handles and exterior mirrors sitting on black paint.The Facebook fraternity asked for 14in alloy wheels; they got them too. They also wanted the ladybird theme to continue inside with lashings of red trim for everything from the rev counter surround to floor mate trim; Citroën obliged.Air-con, front electric windows and remote central locking were some of the goodies Citroën threw in, by basing the Connexion on a VTR specification model.
Jaguar makes the best cars to own, according to survey results, while Skoda Superb is best individual car
Jaguar has been named the best manufacturer in the 2013 JD Power customer satisfaction survey.
The survey of 16,000 car owners in the UK covers 116 models that are between a year and three years old. Owners rank their vehicles on 66 criteria, which are grouped to deliver an overall score. Points are accumulated for good reliability, performance, service and running costs.
Jaguar's victory came off the back of the Jaguar XF, which finished third overall in the entire survey, as owners rated it as "excellent" in every area. In particular they praised reliability, dealership service and servicing and repair work.
In the manufacturer standings, Jaguar headed Lexus and Honda. Lexus scored highly for dealer service and reliability across its range, with the fourth placed overall Lexus RX topping its results, as well as winning the best large SUV award.
The Honda Jazz finished in sixth overall and as top-placed Honda model. The XF was only beaten by two models from Skoda, the Superb and the Yeti, with the Czech manufacturer finishing fourth overall in the manufacturer rankings.
Chevrolet came at the bottom according to the survey, with the Chevrolet Spark ranked last overall.
The JD Power survey, which is compiled in conjunction with What Car?, measures vehicle ownership and customer satisfaction based on 66 parameters. Vehicle appeal, quality & reliability, ownership costs and dealer service satisfaction form the four main areas of the survey.
Respondents involved in the survey had an average age of fifty. 58 per cent were male and 42 per cent were female; in total they collectively...
Ford's decision to close its Australian production facilities spells the end for a car that is a key part of motoring history
Sadness rules today as we hear of the forthcoming demise, 53 years after its launch, of the Australian-built Ford Falcon, an icon Down Under since its launch in 1960.
As a direct result of Alan Mulally’s One Ford strategy, the Blue Oval has decided not to manufacture cars in Australia beyond 2016, and to “retire the Falcon name” when that time comes, after one more facelift next year. Future Aussie Fords will be world cars made elsewhere.
The Falcon was launched in a blaze of glory in 1960, when the post-war Aussie economy was booming, and when local taste ran almost exclusively for 'family-sized' saloons, wagons and 'utes' powered by tough, torquey but none-too-economical straight-six pushrod engines driving the rear wheels via live rear axles suspended on semi-elliptic springs. Transmissions were three-speed column shifts – 'three on the tree' in local parlance, as opposed to 'four on the floor'.
These were crude cars, built mainly to cope with long distances on Australia’s difficult, dusty back roads. Ford’s plan – which turned out to be successful – was to steal sales from the super-successful GM-built Holden, then labelled 'Australia’s Own' because it was largely locally engineered. The Falcon had a relationship with a US Falcon (though it was highly modified) but became a uniquely engineered Australian product after about 10 years because it was easier.
The tussle between Ford and Holden was the main event in Australia for the next 20 years, although Chrysler chimed in for a time with a car of its own:...
Do Mercedes and BMW need to be worried by the third-generation Lexus IS luxury saloon?
Fourteen years and two full model generations into its life, the Lexus IS remains a bit-part player in Europe’s lucrative compact executive class.At the peak of its popularity in 2007, Lexus sold 15,000 examples of this premium four-door on this continent – 9000 of which went to UK homes. That’s still a fraction of the sales volume of German rivals the Audi A4 and BMW 3-series, but it demonstrates what the press had been telling Lexus for years: that the IS would be easy meat for its opposition until it was blessed with a credible low-emissions engine.The new third-gen IS could at last make bigger inroads into this class’s German hegemony, however. It’s certainly armed to, becoming the fifth model available in Europe from Toyota’s luxury brand to be offered with hybrid-electric power – and the first saloon in its class with carbon emissions of less than 100g/km.For that fact alone - combined with very competitive pricing - the IS demands serious consideration by Britain’s many thousands of company car drivers.With Lexus having abandoned diesel engines altogether, there are actually two derivatives of the new IS – but really only one that’s a sensible ownership proposition.The petrol-only IS250 may be £3000 cheaper than the IS300h, but its naturally aspirated 2.5-litre engine may as well run on steam for all the efficiency it has compared with the downsized four-cylinder turbo petrols that now populate this class. It’s smooth in operation and reassuringly familiar in some ways, but would cost you almost twice as much on road tax than some rivals, and will probably consume a good 25 per cent more fuel than it...
Racing cars have been careering around the streets of the Principality since the late 1920s and the Monaco GP is now a world-famous sporting event
It seems like the least natural fit in the world – a selection of the world's fastest and most skilled drivers let loose around the sinuous streets of a European city in 750bhp single-seater racing cars.
Despite the slightly unhinged nature of the concept, the Monaco Grand Prix has been thrilling race fans since 1929, when British racer William Grover-Williams won the inaugural race in his Bugatti.
The critics of the circuit, which is laid out around the streets of Monte Carlo, might point towards the ludicrously tight layout that almost completely rules out on-track overtaking moves.
Indeed, the 2003 race was notable for containing no overtakes over its 78 laps and 161 miles, winner Juan-Pablo Montoya making up places during the fuel stops.
Nevertheless, Monaco remains one of the most spectacular events on the Formula 1 calendar, not least for the way the proximity of the buildings and unyielding crash barriers seem to emphasise the speed and noise.
This year's race is the 72nd running of the Monaco Grand Prix. Up to 2012, McLaren has been the most successful manufacturer around the streets of the Principality, racking up 15 victories.
The late, great Ayrton Senna recorded an amazing six of those in a remarkable spell between 1987 and 1993. However, the Brazilian's qualifying lap in 1988, when he set a lap time that was a remarkable 1.4sec quicker than his McLaren-Honda team-mate Alain Prost, remains one of the greatest moments in Monaco history.
Graham Hill was another driver with an uncanny knack of...
Two twin-turbo sledgehammers go head to head - but which would Steve Sutcliffe take home?
Can the latest incarnation of the mighty Nissan GT-R fend off the challenges of the fettled Alpina B6? Steve Sutcliffe maxxes them out at Brands Hatch and then takes to the open roads, before deciding which one he'd choose to own...
Mercedes E-class prices revealed, worldwide Nissan recall, new Alfa Giulietta model, Peugeot 508 specification updates
Mercedes-Benz has released official prices for the forthcoming E-class coupé and cabriolet. Available in either SE or AMG sport trim, the coupé will start from £35,095 while the cabriolet will be priced from £38,465.
Nissan says it will recall 841,000 vehicles worldwide over concerns about a steering wheel glitch. The recall, which includes UK-built Micras produced between 2002 and 2006, was announced amid fears over a loss of steering. The recall also includes the Japan-built Cube minicar.
Alfa Romeo has launched a special version of the Giulietta. The Collezione edition features a contrast roof together with different body styling and interior upgrades. There's a choice of four engines, with prices starting at £18,265.
Peugeot has made some changes to its specifications for the 508 saloon and SW models. Satellite navigation is now standard on all but the base-spec Access model, while the Allure specification now includes Smartbeam automatic lighting. Other changes include the GT model now coming with 19in alloy wheels as standard, as well as front parking sensors.
German-based importer considers bringing a limited number of cars to Europe, prices forecast to start at around £120,000
The 2013 SRT Viper might make its way to Europe after all, with a substantial price tag of £120,067.
Despite Chrysler confirming earlier this year that the Viper wouldn't be available in Europe, Munich-based importer GeigerCars says it will import a small number of models to Germany.
Internet rumours price the imported Vipers at £120,067 — considerably more expensive than the £64,632 the Viper costs in the US.
Chrysler said it wanted to focus its resources on making sure the model was received well in its home market. It also cited unfavourable exchange rates and continuing economic uncertainty as reasons for not bringing the car to Europe.
Loan repayment makes Tesla the only car company to repay its US government loan
Tesla has paid off its entire government loan of £309.4 million to the US Department of Energy, nine years earlier than expected.
The loan, awarded in 2010 as part of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, required Tesla to match the loan value with private capital.
The repayment makes Tesla the only American car company to have paid back its government loan. The manufacturer says its loan is often confused with the financial bailouts awarded to GM and Chrysler, themselves ineligible for the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Programme because a stipulation of the loan was proof of financial health.
Tesla's chief executive offer and co-founder Elon Musk said: "I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs who worked hard to create the ATVM program, and particularly the American tax payer from whom these funds originate.
“I hope we did you proud.”
Manufacturer cites strong Australian dollar and mounting losses as primary reasons behind ceasing production
Ford has announced that it will end all production in Australia in 2016, closing two plants which employ 1200 people.
It has blamed the strength of the Australian dollar, high business costs, mounting losses and a declining market. The president of Ford Australia, Bob Graziano, said: "Our costs are double that of Europe and nearly four times Ford in Asia."
The manufacturer will shut its Geelong-based engine plant and its vehicle production facility in Broadmeadows, both of which are in the state of Victoria. Dealership and development facilities will remain open, however, and Ford will become an import-only brand. Among the vehicles produced at Broadmeadows are the Fiesta and the Falcon.
Ford has been active in Australia since 1925; last year it built approximately 37,000 vehicles but suffered a loss of £93m. Graziano stated that Ford had lost, in total, £386.5m in Australia over the past five years. The strong Australian dollar has made it difficult for Ford to sell its products at a competitive price against foreign rivals.
It is expected that Ford will continue to participate in the Australian V8 Supercars series until at least 2016, despite it withdrawing its local manufacturing facilities.
Automotive supplier to deliver turbochargers for JLR's next-gen engines; plans to expand facilities and start a master's degree in the UK revealed
BorgWarner has confirmed that it will supply turbocharging technology for the next generation of four-cylinder engines from Jaguar Land Rover.
In order to assist with production of the new engines, BorgWarner is planning to enlarge its existing 35-year-old manufacturing facilities in Bradford, as well as building a new engineering centre. This centre will provide engineering, design, simulation, testing and production validation labs.
To ensure that development and production continues long in to the future, the company is also establishing a master's degree program in turbocharger engineering at the nearby University of Huddersfield.
"With our investment in local production and testing, BorgWarner will provide Jaguar Land Rover with fast-to-market, high-quality advanced technologies adapted to their specific needs," said Frederic Lissalde, president and general manager, BorgWarner Turbo Systems.
"BorgWarner's investment in innovation will also help support the local economy with highly skilled engineering and manufacturing jobs, and our increased collaboration with the university will help develop the talent needed to drive turbocharging advancements for the future."
The news follows the announcement that Jaguar Land Rover is planning to spend £2.75 billion each year for the next four years on new products and production facilities.
Ian Harnett, Jaguar Land Rover's purchasing director, said, "Jaguar Land Rover remains committed to enhancing and developing the automotive supply chain in the UK. This contract is a great example of how we want to work in partnership with our supply chain to develop innovative solutions to support future growth.
Jaguar Land Rover's new range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines is expected to launch in 2015.
BMW collaborates with Chinese firm Brilliance to establish new 'Zinoro' brand; the first prototype spotted could be based on an X1
Spy shots have revealed what appears to be a BMW X1-based crossover from Zinoro.
The brand, a result of the collaboration between BMW and Chinese manufacturer Brilliance, was reputed to be basing its first models on BMW's E90 3-series saloon and X1.
Compared to a normal X1, the prototype vehicle has a different grille, headlights, bumper and other minor styling tweaks. The rear end of the prototype was heavily disguised, concealing any updates.
It's thought that Zinoro's cars will be all-electric and, initially, that they will only be offered in China. They will be sold through unique dealerships with no direct link to BMW.
Zinoro's cars will also focus on practicality and comfort, in order to distance them from the more sports-orientated BMW offerings.
Various tie-ups have appeared recently, as foreign maufacturers attempt to gain a foothold in the lucrative and rapidly expanding Chinese market.
Rivals include Nissan, which has collaborated with Dongfeng to create the Venucia brand, and Mercedes-Benz, which partnered with BYD to form Denza.
We test Kia's latest MPV contender, equipped with a petrol engine and in entry-level trim
Goodbye old Kia Carens and Kia Sedona, hello new Kia Carens. Sold in the UK as a seven-seater only, this is the Korean firm’s Ford Grand C-Max rival, and as such has taken on the sole role as the firm’s only large SUV.We’re testing it here in its lowest-priced form, as the Kia Carens ‘1’ GDi equipped with the firm’s six-speed manual gearbox. As such, while it may miss out on some of the niceties, it potentially makes a case for itself based on its low buying price, hard wearing interior and decent economy figures for the driver who doesn’t travel too far.City-based drivers and parents who need a large vehicle for the school run and family taxi duties should therefore take note.
A momentary lapse results in a missed opportunity to buy a rare Ferrari-engined Italian saloon for less than £6k
Last weekend I was absent-mindedly flicking through the auction catalogues when I spotted an unobtrusive-looking Lancia Thema.
Admittedly I've always had a bit of soft spot for the boxy Italian saloon, which was the result of a joint project with Saab, Fiat and Alfa. What really grabbed my attention, however, was the fact that it was an '8.32' variant.
Back in the late ’80s, many manufacturers were busy releasing saloons that offered near-supercar performance. Companies like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and even Ford were all serving up suitably potent yet subtle cars, designed to appeal to well-heeled individuals who enjoyed driving.
Lancia, sensing that it was missing out on a lucrative opportunity, obviously spent too long in a bar one evening. It decided that what it should really do was make a V8-engined version of its front-wheel-drive Thema saloon.
Drawing on some local support the Italian manufacturer settled on using a 2.9-litre V8 with 32 valves, hence the car's '8.32' moniker. The engine was based on the Ferrari unit found in the Mondial and 308 and shared many components with its Prancing Horse equivalents.
With the new engine crammed into the Lancia's nose, and 212bhp being transmitted to the front wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox, the Thema could sprint from 0-60mph in around 6.8 seconds.
Further improvements came in the form of a significantly more luxurious interior, minor styling tweaks, unique wheels, an adaptive damping system, better brakes, upgraded steering and an electronically raised rear spoiler.
Road tests of the time were remarkably complimentary about the car, praising it for its performance and comfort. Surprisingly torque steer wasn't a prevalent problem but many...
Insider has revealed that McLaren will continue to develop the P13 on its own, despite a recent deal with Honda for F1 engines
McLaren’s deal with Honda to supply its Formula 1 team with engines from 2015 onwards is not expected to have any impact on its road car division, an insider has told Autocar.
Drawing a parallel between McLaren’s current F1 deal with Mercedes, and the fact that arrangement bears no relation to the road car division, the source said: “At the moment there is no anticipated impact on the road car division as a result of the Honda deal.”
In particular, the source denied that Honda would have any involvement with the McLaren P13, the firm’s next all-new road car and a mooted Porsche 911 Turbo rival.
Development of that car, which is thought to use a 450bhp version of McLaren's 3.8-litre V8, is said to be at an “advanced” stage.
Time for a confession: I've never been to the Nürburgring before.
It's sacrilege, I know, to call myself a petrolhead and not have made the pilgrimage to the motoring Mecca that is the Nürburgring.
Today though, I get to right that wrong with a lap of the track. Taking me out in a Hyundai Genesis Coupé is professional test driver Daniel Herregods.
He's been racing all his life, and has clocked over 12,000 laps of the ’Ring. He's also raced with some of the greatest drivers — Mansell, Prost and Piquet have all shared a grid with him.
"History has been made here," he says as we pass under the gantry and start our lap, "if a driver can be good here, if a car can be good here, then they can be good anywhere."
He's right, and as we round the first few corners Herregods points out scenes of famous crashes and spins at the ’Ring. For a first timer, that doesn't fill me with confidence.
But my god this man can drive. We're at the 5km marker before I've caught my breath. Despite being buffeted by what seems like every physical force all at once, Herregods still finds time to talk about his role in Hyundai's development programme here.
As part of a €5.5 million investment the manufacturer will now have a permanent presence at the ’Ring, joining a select group of companies who use the iconic circuit to hone the performance of their cars.
Through Karousel and we're sideways out the other side. I spot some late leavers watching our progress, surrounded by campsite wreckage from last weekend's Nürburgring 24 hours race.
The Genesis Coupé handles the interweaving corners of the circuit well,...
New test site is key to boosting the appeal of the Hyundai brand; it will also be used to benchmark and test vehicles
Hyundai has shown off a new £4.7 million research and development facility being built at the Nürburgring.
Joining other manufacturers who have similar facilities on site, Hyundai will use the track to carry out durability testing on all new vehicles. Each new model will be put through 180,000km of road testing — 10,000km of which will be done on the Nürburgring. That's the equivalent of 480 laps.
The track, with its 73 corners and average altitude difference of 300 metres, provides the perfect stomping ground for testing new vehicles.
Vehicle testing and development manager Axel Honish says the Nürburgring can replicate almost every condition found on European roads. "It's the ideal track; it covers all possible driving situations.
"It has the characteristics that will give an experienced driver a feel for the performance. The driver can then report where we need to change something, like the balance for example."
As other manufacturers do similarly, Hyundai keeps a fleet of its competitors' cars on hand to benchmark its own vehicles. A team of six professional drivers carry out testing on the track, with data then fed though the new research and development site and on to Korea.
Senior vice president and chief operating officer Allan Rushforth says the project aims to enhance the appeal of Hyundai to European drivers. Over 70 per cent of the Hyundai model range available in Europe is built here, with 95 per cent being developed and tested here, too.
Rather than focusing on new models, Rushforth says 2013 is all about increasing brand awareness. "We...
The Norfolk-based sports car manufacturer has firmed-up details of its fastest-ever drop-top, which is now available for order
Lotus has confirmed details of the 145mph Lotus Exige S roadster, the fastest drop top the Norfolk-based manufacturer has ever built.
It will be the first Exige model to be offered with a factory-fitted soft-top roof and shares the same 3.5-litre V6 engine with the Exige S coupé.
The unit produces 345bhp at 7000rpm and 295lb ft at 4500rpm, meaning the Exige S roadster — which weighs 10kg less than the coupe at 1166kg — is capable of 0-60mph in 3.8sec and reaches 100mph from a standing start in 8.5sec. Its top speed has been reduced from the coupe’s 170mph to 145mph.
A six-speed manual gearbox will be offered from launch, but the Exige S could also be offered with the Norfolk-based firm’s Serial Precision Shift (SPS) paddle-operated automated manual transmission if demand is high enough. Fuel economy for the manual gearbox variant is a claimed 28mpg, with CO2 emissions of 236g/km.
As with the £52,900 hard-top Exige S, an optional race pack is available and adds track-optimised suspension settings and launch control. There are also two cabin options: one more comfort-oriented and the other more stripped down and sporty.
Lotus says the new drop-top, which is now available to order, completes the Exige line-up, alongside the Exige S, Exige Cup and Exige Cup R.
Latest spy shots reveal the new Mini hatchback, which could be officially unveiled later this year
Spy shots have revealed the next generation of Mini hatchback being tested on the road with minimal camouflage.
Changes to the all-new Mini's styling, compared to the previous generation, include a wide front grille and large headlights with integral daytime running lights. Larger, redesigned rear lights are also apparent.
Reputedly, the new third-generation Mini will deliver a substantial leap forwards in terms of quality, performance and handling. It's thought it could be officially unveiled later this year.
All existing variants of the Mini will be replaced with versions based on the upcoming model, which is underpinned by BMW's recently developed UKL1 platform.
It's rumoured that the new Mini family could extend by up to 11 models; BMW has admitted previously that up to 23 different versions could eventually go into production.
As well as the high-performance versions, the new Mini will be offered with a choice of a petrol or diesel three-cylinder 1.5-litre engine. A six-speed manual gearbox will be available, as will an eight-speed automatic transmission.
More Mini models may also receive four-wheel drive in the future, as demand grows for the improved stability and security that it offers.
BMW, in preparation for the launch of the new model, has already completed work on the new facilities and training programmes required to build the Mini 3.
Chinese manufacturer launches fully electric 'e6' taxis; 50 are set to come to London
The first fleet of 45 all-electric BYD e6 taxis have joined the ranks of the Hong Kong Taxi and Public Light Bus Association.
Wang Chuan-fu, chairman and president of BYD Company Limited, said: “This not only asserts our green vision for promoting environmental sustainability for a better world, but is also a significant step for us in bringing green transport to benefit all people”.
In conjunction with the launch of the electric taxis, BYD and its partner Sime Darby Motors Group are setting up 47 chargers in nine locations, near commonly used car parks, as the first phase in the development and deployment of electric vehicle infrastructure.
London's second largest minicab service, greentomatocars, will also be receiving 50 of the new BYD electric minicabs, which will join its existing fleet of 300 cars.
It's expected that the electric taxis will be available for use soon. The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “It is my aim that London's minicabs and taxis will be zero-emission by 2020, which will have a major impact on air quality.
"Every year the fleet is getting cleaner, making our city an even more attractive place to live, work and visit. Encouraging many more electric vehicles is a key part of this transformation, so it is great news that greentomatocars has committed to operating 50 of these super clean machines from next year.”
The BYD e6 is a five-seat crossover that features a high-capacity battery, giving it a range of up to 190 miles. Charging it from empty takes up to two hours and, thanks to its use of electric power, it offers...
The famous British marque had a major presence at the endurance race as part of its centenary celebrations, and company boss Ulrich Bez led the way
Aston Martin was the big name at last weekend's Nürburgring 24 Hours race – propelled mostly by one man, CEO Ulrich Bez.
The fine old British marque is celebrating its 100th birthday and Bez is in his last year as its boss. He decided that part of the celebration would be to do what he had always known Aston Martin must do for ultimate success: take on the German marques in their own backyard, where they spend millions, and if not actually beat them, then deal them a painful punch on the nose.
People are sometimes confused into thinking Bez is leading a German takeover of Aston. What he's actually doing is showing this predominantly British-run company how to beat its most potent opposition. After he departs the big job, late this year, this will always be seen as the key contribution of his 13-year reign.
At the Nürburgring, we first encountered Bez outside Aston's palatial hospitality suite, glowing with enthusiasm and about to step into the James Bond 'Skyfall' Aston DB5 for a shakedown drive.
All kinds of Astons were there. Later in the day, Bez would lead a group of three extra-special Astons: the DBR1 that won the 1000km race in '59 (driven again by the winner back then, Sir Stirling Moss), the special, traditional-looking CC100 centenary concept and the company's most expensive car ever, the £1.2m One-77.
Only afterwards, somewhat later, Michael Schumacher did a pretty awesome demo lap in a 2011-spec Mercedes...
Next-gen global compact saloon due to go on sale in Thailand in July
The Mitsubishi Attrage, a next-generation 'global compact sedan', will go on sale in Thailand in July.
The company claims that the Attrage features suitably modern styling, outstanding forward visibility, large door openings, excellent manoeuvrability and a turning circle of just 4.8 metres — all features which are beneficial to a small city car.
Reputedly the Mitsubishi's styling helps balance aerodynamics with interior space. Consequently the Attrage, which is based on the Concept G4, is reputed to be the most roomy car in its class while achieving a drag coefficient of 0.29, close to that of the Nissan Leaf.
Power comes from a 1.2-litre MIVEC engine which is coupled to a five-speed manual gearbox or an automatic continuously variable transmission. Thanks to the low drag and efficient engine, the Attrage's average fuel economy is claimed to be 62mpg.
Mitsubishi also says that Attrage offers reassuring handling, stability and a comfortable ride.
Initially the Attrage will be launched in Thailand. Other markets will follow, but according to Mitsubishi it's unlikely that the Attrage will ever reach UK showrooms.
Steve Cropley meets Ford Global Product Development Vice President Raj Nair
We’re at Ford’s Lommel test track on the Belgian-Dutch border. Raj Nair is talking animatedly with a group of his engineers, making classic cornering gestures with his hands as they walk towards the glassy, chalet-like cabin the dynamics team maintains for conferences and meetings.
It is hidden well away from the admin offices, squeezed between an enormous skidpan called The Black Lake and the now-famous Track Seven handling circuit. Here, every European Ford of the past 20 years has had its steering and handling polished to market-leading levels.
A year ago, 48-year-old Nair was appointed to a job that has become iconic both within Ford and beyond. The title is vice president, global product development, which means that, across the 110-year-old group’s worldwide empire, Nair leads the teams that create every new model and takes personal responsibility for making them good.
Why does this job matter outside Ford? Because two recent incumbents, Richard Parry-Jones in the ’90s and Derrick Kuzak in the 2000s, brought enormous improvements to the driving quality of traditionally indifferent Fords – and then sold the idea of good dynamics to customers so effectively that Renault, PSA, Opel and even Volkswagen were forced to lift their game.
It is no exaggeration that because of Ford’s progress with the Focus, the VW Golf, formerly a champion of the cheap-to-make torsion beam rear suspension, was forced to adopt a multi-link layout to match the Ford on ride.
Like the most modern managers, Nair is modest about his elevation and you get the feeling that self-deprecation has always come easily. “This is the...
We pitch Vauxhall's new Cascada convertible against the Audi A5 cabriolet. Which is better?
Let’s be honest: when you’re buying a convertible, the importance of how well it drives is nearly always overridden by how good it looks and the kind of statement it makes. So you’d take a rag-top Audi over a similar-sized Vauxhall, wouldn’t you?
Perhaps not any more. Vauxhall has given us an intriguing question to answer with its latest soft-top, the sleek and desirable Cascada. It has jumped a class in size over the forgettable Astra TwinTop that preceded it, gaining an attractive new look, a much more premium cabin and higher price as a result. Almost right into Audi A5 cabriolet territory, in other words. So in a class where image is everything, would you still go for that Audi when Vauxhall is offering much of the same for that bit less?
To give the Cascada a fair chance, we’re testing an apple against an apple – a model with an already near-range-topping engine/trim combination that has been made plusher (so more Audi-like) with optional extras. The base price of £27,595 of our 163bhp 2.0 CDTi model in range-topping Elite trim quickly heads north of £35,000 once desirable options such as an Audi-style Nappa leather interior, a whole host of electronic trickery and adaptive dampers are added.
The A5 cabriolet that matches this Cascada’s spec closest on paper is the 175bhp 2.0 TDI (admittedly, with an automatic gearbox against the Cascada’s manual, so we’ll leave this out of the comparison) in £37,445 S-line trim, which swells to just over £40,000 with some added infotainment options and something...
Hybrid version of third-gen Lexus IS has predictable strengths, but it’s too devoted to calmness and efficiency to really enjoy driving
The car that completes the gradual hybridisation of the Lexus range. The new IS executive saloon becomes the final piece of the jigsaw. There now isn’t a model from the Japanese luxury brand that doesn’t come with at least the option of petrol-electric power. The firm’s flirtation with diesel is over. A few petrol-only models remain, but they’re dwindling in number. And so – 14 years and three generations into the life of the car that really launched Lexus as a fully fledged European premium automotive brand - ‘Hybrid Synergy Drive’ becomes the weapon that parent firm Toyota wields for a renewed assault on the BMW 3-series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-class.It’s a bid that should attract plenty of attention – albeit, says Lexus, perhaps only five thousand UK sales in a full year. Having added 75mm to the overall length of the IS saloon, and taken the usual painstaking approach to redesigning it from top to bottom, Lexus has developed an all-new hybrid powertrain for the IS saloon, which mates a 2.5-litre four-cylinder 178bhp Atkinson cycle petrol engine with a 141bhp electric motor, both feeding the rear wheels.The IS300h’s petrol engine, like all of Toyota and Lexus’ hybrid motors, runs on the Atkinson combustion cycle for a high expansion ratio and increased efficiency. Fitted with a new fuel-injection system with injectors positioned both in the chamber and in the port, it also has exhaust gas recirculation for reduced operating temperature and high thermal efficiency. There are low-friction piston rings fitted, as well as a low-friction timing chain, low-friction valvegear, and an intelligent oil...
Co-developed BMW-Toyota sports car; Lexus IS to get real-time traffic and navigation updates; One-millionth Jeep Wranger produced; Toyota reclaims most valuable brand position
The four-part joint venture between BMW and Toyota to produce a future midsize "sports vehicle" is reportedly ready to yield results. Internet rumours suggest a pair of new sports car concepts could be seen as early as the Tokyo motor show later this year. There are no clues yet as to what the concepts might be called.
Lexus has announced a real-time parking and traffic navigation service, developed in conjunction with travel intelligence network Inrix; the service will be launched as standard on the new Lexus IS. The company points to data from IBM showing that 30 per cent of ubran traffic congestion is caused by drivers looking for a parking space. The real-time traffic data will also allow IS drivers to bypass jams.
The one-millionth Jeep Wrangler has rolled off the production line at the Chrysler Group's Toledo factory. The plant, which began producing Jeeps in 2006, will begin production of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee later this year. The millionth Wrangler was a black 2013 Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition, bound for a customer in Florida.
A survey carried out by WPP, a marketing communications company, has named Toyota as the most valuable automotive brand. The 'BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2013' report said that Toyota's brand value increased by 12 per cent to £16.2 billion, one of the biggest improvements in the sector. Its sales also rose in 2012 by 22.6 per cent, contributing towards the brand's valuation in the report.
Aston Martin CC100 revealed; new Mercedes S-class launched; Porsche 918 Spyder tested; Kia Cee'd buying guide; full Nissan Juke Nismo road test
This week's Autocar magazine stars three key cars — the shock new Aston Martin CC100 concept, the new Mercedes S-class and the Porsche 918 Spyder hypercar.
The CC100 takes top billing, with our four-page story and interview with chief designer Marek Reichman outlining exactly how it will influence future Aston Martin design. Steve Cropley also reports live on the impact it made at the Nürburgring 24 Hours race.
The Mercedes S-class stands out for being the new technical flagship of the Mercedes range; and with the firm's long-standing commitment to drip-feed that technology back down to all the cars it builds, it makes the new car especially relevant. Hilton Holloway reports live from the launch, and outlines all the technology that makes the S-class special.
Greg Kable, meanwhile, gets behind the steering wheel of a Porsche 918 Spyder prototype and reports back on why it delivers a sensational driving experience and could even out-punch the more feted LaFerrari and McLaren P1 in terms of its breadth of technical capability.
First drive reviews include the new 200mph Bentley Flying Spur, Skoda Superb, Jeep Grand Cherokee, MG 5 and Skoda Octavia 4x4 estate. Long-term test updates include the Mitsubishi Outlander, Jaguar XKR-S, Toyota Auris and VW CC. The Nissan Juke Nismo hot hatch is the subject of our eight-page road test.
In our features section Andrew Frankel compares a modern Caterham to a 30-year-old example as he charts the progression of the marque, Mark Tisshaw joins Lamborghini's 50th anniversary tour through Italy and reports back on the colour and sounds...
Special version of the Mégane Renaultsport celebrates third F1 constructor title
A new version of the Renault Mégane Renaultsport has been revealed, called the Red Bull Racing RB8.
To celebrate its third constructor's world title in Formula 1, Renault and Red Bull have created the new model to become a flagship for the range.
The RB8 comes with a range of additional equipment including Red Bull Racing branding, Recaro seats, R-Link multimedia and a TomTom Live navigation system, Bridgestone Potenza tyres and the latest version of the on-board RS Monitor.
Red Bull branding continues inside, with bespoke aluminium kickplates and carpets.
An exclusive Twilight Blue finish with Platinum Grey detail will also be available on the hot hatch.
The RB8 will use the same 2.0-litre turbocharged 261bhp engine with stop-start as the Mégane Renaultsport 265 Cup.
As with the Cup, the RB8 features stiffer springs, dampers, anti-roll bar, limited-slip differential and grooved discs with Brembo callipers.
Former executives suspected of accounting fraud charges
It's been reported that three former executives of Saab have been released, having been arrested earlier today on accounting fraud charges.
Swedish prosecutor Olof Sahlgren said that the three former executives are suspected of "aggravated attempts to avoid tax controls" by allegedly falsifying parts of Saab's accounts between 2010 and 2011. The crime carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.
The three executives, named as Jan Ake Jonsson, Kristina Geers and Karl G Lindström allegedly worked for Saab while it was under the ownership of Spyker. The Dutch car maker bought Saab from General Motors.
Hong Kong-owned company National Electric Vehicle Sweden subsequently bought the car maker after it filed for bankruptcy in December 2011, and has on-going plans to make electric cars under the Saab brand.
A host of new Ford models expected as vice president announces focus on manufacturing
Ford will launch more than 15 new vehicles in Europe within the next five years, with most of them being powered by British-built engines.
That was the pledge made by executive vice president of Ford Stephen Odell to the National Manufacturing Debate, held at Cranfield University.
He also said that engines built by Ford in the UK could potentially power one third of all Fords globally.
Speaking at the summit Odell issued a call to create better market conditions that would enable manufacturers to flourish.
To help face the challenges of the modern marketplace Ford will invest in new technologies to drive product appeal and seek out better-qualified engineers for its operations.
Odell spoke about the skills deficit in the UK and emphasised the importance of a workforce with the right skills and qualifications in the industry. He called on the motor trade to “do more in the interests of schoolchildren” to help encourage more careers in engineering and science.
Despite tough economic conditions Odell concluded his speech by saying he was confident that European and UK manufacturing could survive under the right business conditions.
Odell continued: “We expect Europe’s volume car makers, preferably encouraged and aided by Brussels, to follow the hugely successful American example and do what everybody knows needs to be done: to restructure, to cut excess manufacturing capacity and to reinvigorate their product range. And to develop industry-leading technology for the world.”
Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S racer becomes first to compete in international racing
An Aston Martin Rapide S Hybrid has become the first race car to complete emissions-free laps of an international motor race.
The car, using a Hybrid Hydrogen system, also became the first car of its kind to compete in an international race during the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
Aston Martin CEO Dr Ulrich Bez led the Rapide S driver line-up. He said the target of achieving a complete lap of the 12.8mile Nürburgring course was “very ambitious”.
The car was the sole entry within the special E1-XP2 race classification. The Rapide S used was fitted with a hydrogen fuel supply system, tank and proprietary engine management system. Proving the durability of the concept, the system ran faultlessly throughout the race.
Fuel refills took just 30 seconds with the hydrogen being stored at 350 bars of pressure.
During the event the Aston Martin reached a top speed of around 160mph, running on nothing but pure hydrogen.
Leaf-based Infiniti will showcase 'neater' induction-based charging technology
The launch of a luxury Infiniti electric car based on the Nissan Leaf hinges on a standard process of induction charging being introduced around the world.
The new Infiniti will have a completely different exterior and interior from the Nissan hatchback and it will be used to showcase induction technology, which does away with charging cables.
“The whole concept of not having to couple up cables to a plug socket, dragging them on the ground and on you as you go, is in keeping with luxury motoring,” said Infiniti boss Andy Palmer.
“It is this technology we want to shine a light on, so while there is no world standard on methods, the roll-out will be dependent on region.”
Infiniti is currently pushing for car makers to develop induction technology on an open source basis, rather than individually investing in their own systems.
Next generation of the popular Land Rover SUV will lose Freelander name
The all-new Land Rover Freelander replacement will become a member of an extended Discovery family, according to company sources. The new car, based on a stretched Evoque platform, is expected late next year.
The Freelander badge, first seen in 1997, will be dropped. The name was discontinued in the US market in 2006 when the second-generation model was launched. The Freelander and Discovery are known as LR2 and LR4 in the US.
Land Rover’s decision to create a family of Discovery models is based on a number of considerations. Perhaps most importantly, Land Rover suffers from a profusion of confusing brands. Although the company is called Land Rover, Range Rover is also its own well established brand. And the company sells three families of vehicles under the Freelander, Discovery and Defender nameplates, which are arguably distinct sub-brands in their own right.
At Land Rover’s recent 65th anniversary celebrations, global brand director John Edwards made a point of telling journalists that the company was based on “three iconic brands: Range Rover, Discovery and Defender”.
The three nameplates will lead to three distinct vehicle families, as Autocar revealed last year (News, 7 November). The Range Rover family has already been marked out with the eponymous luxury version as a flagship, stretching down to the highly successful Evoque. The new Range Rover Sport is close to being launched and sources expect a fourth Range Rover model in the medium term. It has already been dubbed ‘Evoque XL’ and is designed to fill the gap between the compact Evoque and the Range Rover Sport.
It is now clear that the...
The concept of Bangernomics was officially born in 1990, but probably dates back to those shrewd chariot-riding Romans
According to the online Urban Dictionary ‘Bangernomics is the art of buying the cheapest car/vehicle possible so that it does not lose value and waste money’. I suppose that’s okay, although I would much prefer to hear what the Oxford English has to say.
Yes I coined the word, but I certainly did not invent the concept of minimal motoring. I am sure that in 200 BC there were chariot buyers looking at the seriously pre-owned end of the marketplace to save a few sestertii.
Fast forward to 1947 when my Uncle Charlie bought a Humber Super Snipe for 15 quid. It was a massive 1930s barge of a car that he ran for a few years and when it stopped for good, he broke it up and got more than his money back. That seemed like a pretty sensible way to approach motoring.
So my first car was a £50 quid Mini in 1977. Although I never called it Bangernomics, it was all I could afford at the time, which sums up what Bangernomics stands for very well.
By 1990 I was a motoring hack and the idea of buying and running a car that would be cheaper than taking the taxi or train and more flexible than the bus sounded like a great idea for a story. I rashly bought an FSO Polonez for £80.
In retrospect that sounds like an awful lot of money for a very rubbish car. It was damp and smelly but worked and got me from A to B and back again for a month. I told Steve Cropley – now of...
We test the one-off V12-engined Aston Martin shooting brake
At the moment, the Aston Martin Rapide Shooting Brake – or the Jet 2+2 as it is officially entitled – is merely a one-off design project that Bertone has created for one of its wealthier customers; a chap who likes his Aston Martins and who goes by the name of Mr Barry Weir.However, so taken with the car are the folks at Aston Martin that, rumour has it, they are now seriously considering making a small but perfectly formed production run.If that run is less than 10, then the cars will be made by Bertone. But if it’s more than 10, Aston will build them instead, at Gaydon, probably (not that anyone from Aston will confirm or deny any plans for such a model as it stands…).Either way, from the moment you set eyes on the Shooting Brake Rapide, you just know that its styling is right. It looks so natural, in fact, that it’s a wonder Aston Martin didn’t come up with the idea in-house.Putting a price on such a one-off car is hard if not impossible to do, but at a guess you’d have to think that the Aston Martin is worth at least £1.5m, possibly more.Beneath its elegantly stretched lines the Shooting Brake is “about 70 per cent Rapide” according to its chief designer, ex-Rover man and a very proud Britain who works abroad, Adrian Griffiths.That means, effectively, that it uses the previous generation's 470bhp V12 and the same rear wheel-drive chassis as the regular Rapide. Mechanically, in other words, it is pure Rapide.“We basically had to take the car...
The Brighton to London based Future Car Challenge has been cancelled. Is that a symptom of uncertainty surrounding future car technology?
Last week it was announced that the Future Car Challenge – a drive from Brighton to London held the day before the more famous London to Brighton run for veteran cars – would not run this year due to the late withdrawal of a sponsor.
On the surface, that was sad news in itself; the event burst on to the scene in 2010 amid a blaze of publicity, manufacturer support and talk of it becoming an annual figurehead for future car progress for years to come.
Yet that early momentum never really built. There were rumblings of the equipment being used to measure energy consumption not being up to par, some manufacturers taking it so seriously that they came over weeks ahead of the event to map the route and optimise their settings and then dissatisfaction from said manufacturers when Gordon Murray rocked up in his Murray T25 and Murray T27 cars and usurped them.
In the background, too, there was infighting between the organising club and the promoters, which led to a bit of an unseemly spat. Then there was talk of changing the event’s format, so that its results became more about the opinion of a pool of judges rather than an on-the-day real-world competition.
All of which, I can’t help thinking, rather neatly mirrors the situation regarding ‘future’ vehicle technology in general. Electric car take up is, as we all know, far slower than expected. Nobody can provide a consistent answer as to when it...
BMW M models to benefit from Competition Package upgrade, which will provide more power and improved traction
BMW has revealed a new option for its M5 and M6 models dubbed the Competition Package.
The option, available from July, boosts the output of the V8 engine powering the M5 and M6 by 15bhp to 567bhp.
The package also adds chassis modifications, which include extra tuning to the stabiliser bars. The M5, equipped with the Competition Package, is also lowered by around 10mm.
BMW’s Active M Differential has also been given its own control unit as part of the Competition Package. In conjunction with the other adaptations the end result is improved traction and enhanced driving precision, says BMW.
Aesthetically the Competition Package includes a new 20-inch M wheel design along with a sport exhaust system, featuring twin tailpipes finished in black chrome.
Prices for the Competition Package have not yet been revealed.
Updated BMW M5 gets minor cosmetic tweaks, new safety features and optional 'Competition Package'
The facelifted BMW M5, which is set to launch in July 2013, will benefit from minor updates and a new 'Competition Package'.
Little has changed mechanically, with the car retaining the 552bhp twin-turbo V8 and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The new competition package, however, boosts output to 567bhp for those wanting "outstanding dynamic driving performance".
Externally, the key changes include a new grille, new-design tail lights, optional adaptive LED headlights and several additional paint schemes, including matt finishes.
The changes are similarly minor inside, with the high-performance saloon receiving a different steering wheel, a larger storage compartment under the armrest and chrome trim on the iDrive's control display. An optional touch control is offered for the iDrive system as well, for the first time.
The M5's assistance systems have also been upgraded to improve driver comfort and safety. The M5 now gets a 'Driving Assistant' feature which combines lane departure warning, collision warning and automatic emergency braking.
Other upgrades to the BMW include optional automatic main beam assistance, a lane-change warning system that now operates from upwards of 12.4mph, and an 'Online Entertainment' pack which allows the car to access a database containing 12 million tracks.
CC100 Speedster concept heads over 100 Aston Martin cars on 22km lap
A parade of more than 100 Aston Martins took to the famous Nürburgring this weekend ahead of the ongoing 24 hours race, lead by the CC100 Speedster concept.
The cavalcade, planned as part of the marque’s centenary celebrations, also featured Sir Stirling Moss at the wheel of his original 1959 Nürburgring 1000 km-winning DBR1. A DB5 used in the film Skyfall, a One-77 hypercar and a special centenary edition Vanquish also took part in the parade.
Owners and Aston Martin enthusiasts followed suit on the 22km lap. Showroom examples of DB3, DB2/4 Drophead, DB7 Zagato, DB9, Vantage, Rapide, DBS and V12 Vanquish S models were also represented among the crowd.
Aston Martin CEO and CC100 Speedster driver Dr Ulrich Bez said: “It was a fabulous occasion. To see so many of our great cars together on the Nordschleife – the ‘Green Hell’ where we test and develop our modern road cars – was, I hope, truly memorable for the spectators and drivers.”
Aston also continues to have a strong showing in the Nürburgring 24 hours race with a V12 Vantage GT3, a hybrid hydrogen Rapide S and a V12 Vantage competing.
The team is currently running in tenth position with under six hours of the race still remaining.
BMW reveals 46-strong dealer network for its new i range of cars
BMW has announced a 46-strong sales network for its ‘i’ sub-brand range.
The network will be up and running from launch later this year. Initially two BMW i cars have been confirmed for production, the i3 city car and the plug-in hybrid i8 sports car.
The i3 is available to order from July — with a rumoured price tag of £35,000 — before arriving in showrooms around October.
The i3 will feature an all-aluminium chassis combined with a passenger cell made entirely from lightweight carbonfibre reinforced plastic. It will be made available in either fully electric or range-extended form.
Meanwhile, the i8 isn’t expected to make an appearance until 2014.
According to BMW, more than 6000 potential customers have already registered their interest in the i brand.
The dealers selected are:
North Oxford Garage
BMW Park Lane
Broad Oak Canterbury
Scotthall Milton Keynes
Soper of Lincoln
Specialist Cars Stevenage
Stephen James Enfield
Cooper Tunbridge Wells
Dick Lovett Bristol
Eastern Motor Company
Sytner Harold Wood
Sytner High Wycombe
Halliwell Jones Warrington
Harry Fairbairn Glasgow
Vines of Guildford
John Clark Aberdeen
Knights North Staffs
Wood of Bournemouth
C-line range from Citroën will seek to strike a balance between cost and functionality - but it doesn't aim to rival Dacia
Citroën will show the first of its new ‘C-line’ value cars in just over 12 months, according to its CEO, Frederic Banzet.
In an trade press interview, Banzet revealed that the C-line brand will be the final link in the repositioning of PSA’s Citroën, Peugeot and DS brands.
The first C-line car is expected to be the replacement for the ageing C3 supermini, which is described as being “competitively priced” rather than a low-cost rival for Renault’s Dacia brand. Banzet says that the model was “inspired” by the radical C-Cactus concept from 2007.
The DS line will become a stand-alone marque, with a view to charging the same kind of premium prices as German brands and an eye on serious growth in China. Peugeot will attempt to take a more upmarket slice of the mainstream European market.
Citroën’s mainstream models — the C-line — will be pitched at buyers who seek a balance between cost and functionality.
According to Banzet, the production costs of the C-line models will be held down by simplifying the range line-up and, for example, reducing the number of drivetrain options.
However, Citroën says that it will avoid falling into the
trap of competing purely on price and will use bold styling that “really sets us apart
Citroën planners figure that ‘characterful’ styling has proved — via the Fiat 500 and DS3 — to be a very effective way to add perceived value
to a model.
Land Rover's plans to replace the ageing Defender with a more rugged vehicle have been scrapped
Land Rover’s plans to replace the ancient Defender with a new range of super-rugged, relatively basic off-roaders have been scrapped, according to sources close to the company.
Outline plans to build the new model in India, probably alongside a related Tata SUV, have also been dropped. A further consequence of the surprise move is that the planned JLR engine factory in India has also been put on ice.
Although a replacement Defender is currently in the works, John Edwards, Land Rover’s global brand director, has been quoted as saying
the new Defender will not go into production in 2015 as originally envisaged. The current Defender will still be retired in 2015, however, partly because of the impossibility of meeting future legislation.
It is thought that the latest plans for the new Defender,
which is certainly three years away, are to create a more premium-level product and build it on a version of JLR’s new, all-aluminium PLA architecture.
Land Rover’s aluminium body shop can currently handle 95,000 vehicles per year on three shifts, but there is already existing room for expansion to 180,000 units. Even so, Land Rover has started work on a further extension of the body shop, suggesting it expects to roll out more than four models based on the PLA platform.
The upshot is that it’s highly likely that a new ‘premium’ Defender will be a sister car to the next-generation flagship model of the expanded Discovery range (see p10), with both models based on a new, marginally smaller version of the PLA architecture.
Sources say Land Rover is confident...
Ferrari has relaunched its range of merchandising, but should we embrace these 'brand extensions' or revile them?
When I walked in to the new Ferrari brand store in Maranello last week, I was braced to be outraged. I am – like I suspect many of you – not entirely comfortable with the idea of linking the history and aura of Ferrari with everything from silk polo shirts through to teddy bears, all of it sold at a premium price.
As I toured the store my indignation grew. Here, for your own personal chest puffing, are a few selected ‘highlights’, all of which are pictured in the gallery should you require visual evidence:
Ferrari deodorant: €15
Ferrari mug: €19
Ferrari USB stick: €28
Ferrari ballpoint pen: €28
Ferrari Puma wallet: €32.50
Ferrari keyring: €48
Ferrari ashtray: €52
Ferrari wallet: €55
Ferrari Puma shoes: €86
Ferrari paperweight: €150
Ferrari sunglasses: €150
Ferrari playing card case: €240
Ferrari pencil tidy: €265
Ferrari F156 model: €600
Ferrari F1 car art model: €1800
But then someone said two things that made me change my position: firstly, if people want to spend their hard-earned on something that brings them closer to an otherwise out-of-reach brand, so be it. In almost everyone’s life there are examples of spending over the odds to buy something valued as that bit special.
As Ferrari road car sales are pushed into ever-more exclusive areas, presumably demand for this sort of thing will only increase?
And, secondly, and most effectively, the point was made to me that Enzo Ferrari only started selling road cars so that he could fund his passion for racing cars, so these kind of brand extensions could be seen as a continuation of that philosophy.
Of course, there’s the small consideration of shareholders and...
As part of a facelift of the big-selling 5-series, BMW is introducing a new ultra-frugal entry-level diesel option to the UK
BMW has added a new entry-level 518d to its range as part of a host of mid-life changes to the biggest-selling BMW 5-series ever.
Set to go on sale in the UK in September, the subtly restyled 5-series features reprofiled bumpers, altered headlight and tail-light graphics, and a new range of alloy wheels among the measures aimed at providing the 5-series with fresh visual appeal.
The big news on the engine front is the arrival of the 518d. It gets a version of the 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine used in the existing 520d, detuned to produce 141bhp and 266lb ft of torque. BMW puts the 0-62mph time at 9.6sec, combined economy at 62.8mpg and CO2 emissions at 119g/km.
The 181bhp version of the engine used in the 520d has been further improved and now has economy and CO2 emissions to match the 518d’s. As a result, the 520d EfficientDynamics model has been discontinued. The legacy of that car lives on, though, because the 520d ED’s aerodynamic aids are added to the 520d as standard to reduce its drag coefficient to 0.25.
All other engines in the 5-series line-up are tweaked to meet Euro6 emissions standards and gain technology such as brake-energy regeneration, stop-start and a fuel-sipping Eco Pro driving mode. A coasting function, which operates under a trailing throttle to disengage the driveline for added fuel savings at speeds between 31mph and 99mph, is also added.
Further driveline choices include a revised petrol-electric hybrid unit in the 5-series ActiveHybrid, which will continue to be sold in saloon body style only. Topping the line-up is...
Niche car maker goes large with its repurposed twin-turbo V8 6-series
Rumour has it that the next big thing from Alpina will be a six-cylinder, twin-turbo D3 that can live with a BMW M3 in a straight line yet return more than 50mpg at the same time.But that car won’t be available until quite a bit later in the year, and in the meantime Alpina has a whole range of other new cars with which to tickle the fancies of enthusiasts wanting more exclusivity from their fast BMWs, starting with the car you see here, the frankly monstrous new B6 Biturbo coupé.Everything about the B6 is, shall we say, large. Beneath its bonnet sits a twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 that produces 532bhp between 5200 and 6250rpm and a positively herculean 538lb ft at just 2800rpm.The gearbox is a tweaked version of the eight-speed ZF automatic used in the regular 6-series, in this case enhanced by Alpina’s engineers to prevent upshifts in certain modes (which is useful on a circuit, for example) and to momentarily cut the flow of fuel and deliver a lovely burble between gearshifts as a result.The chassis has also been preened by Alpina to provide a wider range of set-ups than in the standard BMW 6-series. So in Comfort mode the ride quality is softer than you get in a regular BMW, while in Sport and Sport Plus it’s the other way around, with the electronic dampers sharpening up the driving experience to a level that no regular BMW driver would quite recognise.The same philosophy applies to the interior, in which you’ll find a far higher quality of leather than in a factory BMW, plus a set of dials and seats that are bespoke to the...
It's been three decades since the introduction of Peugeot's iconic supermini. We look back at some of the greatest models
The Peugeot 205 was so popular in its 13 years on sale in Britain that it became notoriously difficult for Peugeot to replace.
In 1991 the Peugeot 106 had been introduced to offer another affordable small car, but it didn't have the same appeal. It wasn't until 1998, over two years after the demise of the 205, that Peugeot launched its 206 successor. While stylish and popular, the 206 never captured the hearts and minds of those who drove it, unlike the 205.
At its launch in 1983, the Peugeot 205 was available with a range of small petrol engines and naturally aspirated diesels. Suspension was by Macpherson strut at the front and trailing arms fixed to transversely mounted torsion bars at the rear.
Despite being beaten to the 1984 European Car of the Year title by the Fiat Uno, the 205 soon won many plaudits thanks to its low running costs, attractive styling and excellent dynamics.
Peugeot launched the GTi in April 1984, perhaps the most revered of the 205 models. Originally a 1.6 litre with 105bhp, then upgraded to 115bhp during 1986, the GTi had a list price of £6295. It was joined in the range by a 130bhp 1.9-litre flagship at the end of 1986.
Both models offered huge driver involvement, fizzy performance and pert good looks that made them hugely popular with hot hatch drivers of the 1980s. A series of special editions, such as the 1FM (produced in association with Radio 1 and adding a host of additional equipment) further enhanced the GTi's appeal.
Watch Autocar's Hero Cars feature on...
The cost of the entry-level Subaru XV, which comes with a petrol 1.6-litre engine, has been revised and now starts from below £20k
The four 1.6-litre petrol variants in the Subaru XV range have been reduced in price by £1300, bringing the cost of the entry-level version of the compact crossover to below £20k for the first time.
Since its launch last year, the Impreza-based 4x4 has ranged in price from £21,295 for the basic 1.6i S model to £24,715 for the 1.6i SE Lineartronic.
Now, the high-riding hatchback will cost between £19,995 and £23,415 when fitted with the smaller of Subaru’s petrol powerplants.
The original UK pricing structure for the XV was impacted by the strong Yen, which pushed up prices for Subaru’s domestic importer, IM Group.
In recent months the Yen’s value has eased, allowing Subaru UK to revise the prices of some variants.
The price reductions do not apply to the 2.0-litre petrol and diesel XV variants, although Subaru UK is offering three years’ interest-free credit on its oil burning models until the end of June.
We find out if a lightweight Caterham can fend off a 550bhp Bowler EXR S on a tight handling circuit
Can a 1750kg off-roader keep up with a 520kg track toy around a tight handling circuit? Steve Sutcliffe and Matt Prior pitch a 550bhp Bowler EXR S against a 140bhp Caterham Seven Supersport, in a clash of the opposites, to find out.
US 4x4 brand is expanding its range and could introduce an upmarket seven-seater in addition to a small entry-level SUV
Jeep is planning to add a seven-seat SUV to its range, although the company’s UK chiefs haven’t yet decided whether it will reach these shores.
Buoyed by encouraging sales growth, the American manufacturer is currently expanding its model range, which currently lacks a seven-seat 4x4 to rival cars such as the Audi Q7.
The new vehicle could be branded as ‘Grand Wagoneer’, reviving an iconic nameplate that was last used in the 1990s. The idea of using the Grand Wagoneer name was raised at the Geneva motor show in 2012, when Jeep chiefs conceded that they were looking at growing the brand with an ‘über SUV’ that would be in keeping with the current global popularity for upmarket 4x4s.
The last seven-seat Jeep was the Commander, which was discontinued three years ago. Sister brand Dodge, though, does make a three-row SUV called the Durango, which is built on an extended version of the Grand Cherokee's platform at Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit.
It is likely that a new seven-seat Jeep could be based on a similar platform, which would make it about five metres long. The size might be a factor that precludes it going on sale in right-hand-drive format in the UK.
“When you look at the packaging of larger SUVs, about 40cm is added for the extra row of seats. We would have to consider whether that would become too large for UK roads,” said Jeep’s UK brand director Nigel Land.
Although the new vehicle has yet to be officially confirmed and wouldn’t arrive until 2015 or 2016, a car that...
Bold V12-engined CC100 concept car takes cues from 1959 Le Mans race car
Aston Martin has celebrated its centenary with a dramatic new concept car that reveals many clues about the firm’s future design direction.
Called CC100, the new concept also pays homage to Aston’s 1959 Le Mans-winning DBR1 racer by adopting a classic two-seat speedster shape. The CC100 is a fully working prototype capable of more than 100mph and was given its world debut at the Nürburgring 24 Hours last weekend on a demonstration lap driven by Aston boss Ulrich Bez, in formation with a DBR1 driven by Sir Stirling Moss.
The CC100 — it stands for Concept Car in Aston’s 100th year — has close visual links with the DBR1 at first glance. However, further inspection of the CC100 reveals the latest evolution of Aston’s design language and a whole host of flourishes, details and engineering ideas destined for its sports car line-up.
These include the latest interpretation of Aston’s grille design, a dramatic evolution of the firm’s signature side strakes and a new rear-end design that forges closer visual ties with the front of the car.
Underneath the carbonfibre-bodied CC100 is the latest version of Aston’s versatile and constantly evolving VH structure, complete with carbonfibre bonded on to parts of the rear, as with the Vanquish. Power comes from a 6.0-litre V12 engine mated to a six-speed automated manual transmission. The concept is good for 0-62mph in just over 4.0sec and a theoretical top speed limited to 180mph.
There are clues to the future of Aston Martin throughout the CC100 but it is in the design where they are most prominent, as Aston’s design director, Marek Reichman, revealed to Autocar.
“An Aston Martin is always beautiful and timeless,...