The all-new 2014 Mercedes C-class is the most important model the firm will launch over the next few years. But can it outperform the BMW 3-series?
The all-new Mercedes-Benz C-class. It’s set to be here for a while, because Mercedes isn’t planning on replacing this fifth-generation C-class for another seven years. So, until 2021, this is the C-class, and if ever Mercedes needed to get a car right, and get it right from the word go, this is it.
It’s a touch bigger than before, both inside and out, but, crucially, it’s also between 70kg and 100kg lighter than the previous model. And it’s more aerodynamically efficient, which, in turn, helps it to be more ecologically efficient, too. But is it better to drive? Steve Sutcliffe finds out.
McLaren to focus on 650S orders for now; the last surviving grandchild of Henry Ford dies aged 88; Spyker offers supercar for bonds
Production of the McLaren 12C is to pause while the firm satisfies orders for the new McLaren 650S says Pistonheads. McLaren predict the 650S – which is based on the 12C – will represent the bulk of future customer orders, despite costing around £20,000 more than the 12C.
William Clay Ford, former Ford executive and last surviving grandchild of Henry Ford, has died from pneumonia aged 88. He worked for Ford Motor Company for 57 years as an employee and board member. He served as design boss, overseeing models including the Lincoln Continental MkII.
Spyker is allowing investors to purchase one of 100 bonds in the company, which can be exchanged for its forthcoming B6 Venator. According to CNN Money, each £100,000 bond is issued with a chassis number corresponding to a car to be built later. The bond has a four-year term, but can be redeemed in three years for a special-edition model said to cost in the region of £125,000.
Jeep will launch a special edition of its Wrangler exclusively for the European market later this year. Dubbed ‘Rubicon X Package’, the off-roader features 17-inch black alloy wheels and red or black heated leather seats. The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon X Package will be offered with the choice of 200bhp 2.8-litre turbodiesel or 284bhp 3.6-litre V6 petrol engines.
Audi has revealed new traffic light recognition technology, that the firm says could reduce CO2 emissions by 15 per cent. By calculating the traffic light change sequences in the...
The Nissan GT-R-engined Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge could become a production reality, as Infiniti launches feasibility study
A 500bhp GT-R powered Infiniti Q50 saloon could go on sale, based on the Eau Rouge concept shown in Geneva this week.
The firm has given the green light to an official engineering feasibility project to explore whether the car could be made.
The Q50 Eau Rouge - named after the infamous corner on the Spa race circuit - was shown with a twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 shoehorned under the bonnet.
"This is now an official project," said Infiniti boss Johan de Nysschen.
Infiniti plans to build at least one prototype to explore the engineering realities of fitting an engine designed for a four-wheel drive, transaxle-equipped coupé into a four-door saloon with a conventionally sited transmission.
“There are many things to look at, details like the different vibration harmonics that result when you take an engine designed for one application and fit it in another,’ said de Nysschen.
Infiniti will also test durability and the practicalities of manufacturing. "This is quite a complex process,"he added.
Read more Geneva motor show news.
Ford chiefs won't drive the Ka downmarket to combat an increasing threat from cars such as the Dacia Sandero
Ford of Europe boss Stephen Odell has denied that the next-generation Ford Ka will be aimed at budget rivals such as the Dacia Sandero, saying that it has been designed to meet customer needs.
The Ka Concept was revealed at the end of last year in Brazil, where it will be built, and then made its European debut in Spain. The five-door concept showed a marked departure from the current Ka, co-developed with Fiat.
"We're not pushing down with the next Ka so much as meeting the requirements of the market," said Odell. "There's a clear demand for cars of this size and price.
"We are not going up against the value brands. We might be priced towards the top end of their offering and the lower end of the middle market, but that's a function of offering a car customers want.
"I'm quite excited by it. It will offer something very different to the Fiesta, at a very different price, but still have the hallmarks of Ford DNA. I'm very excited."
The BMW 435d xDrive M Sport isn't quite the all-weather, frugal, M-car alternative, but this all-wheel-drive 4-series possesses distinct appeal, at a price
BMW UK’s roll out of four-wheel-drive models continues apace with this, the 435d xDrive. Tested here in M Sport guise, at £45,040 it’s the pinnacle of the non-M BMW 4-series range in both performance and price. It’s also the one variant in the range that is only available with all four wheels connected to the engine.Then again, with 467lb ft of torque straining at the leash, in inclement weather you might just be thankful for that.The xDrive system consists of a central, electronically controlled, multi-plate wet clutch to split torque, acting on signals from the DSC and ABS systems. The default torque split is 40:60, front-rear, but as much as 100 per cent of available torque can be sent to either axle.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announces extra money for councils to repair local roads following recent severe weather
The government is providing a supplementary £140m cash pot to help local councils to pay for repairs to roads, including those damaged in the recent spell of severe weather.
Of that amount, £36.5m is earmarked specifically for roads in flood-affected local authorities in addition to the £43.5m previously made available for this purpose.
The other £103.5m is being made available to all councils across England. The Department for Transport has devised a formula for deciding how the money will be allocated across England's local authorities.
The money will be distributed to the majority of councils by the end of this week, to ensure that they can make use of it as soon as possible and complete works before the summer holidays.
Heavy rainfall undermines the lower, structural layers of the road creating cracks, fissures and potholes, which are then further eroded by vehicles passing over them.
A statement from the Department for Transport said: "Councils have a responsibility to maintain their roads properly, but the exceptional weather has caused significant additional damage, increasing the amount of damage to the local road network. As the flood waters have receded and councils have been able to assess the impact, it is clear that the these have been particularly severe in certain areas."
In order to qualify for this extra funding, local authorities will be required to publish information on their websites by the end of August 2014 showing where this money has been spent.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "Having the right infrastructure in place to support businesses and hardworking people is a crucial part of our long-term economic plan....
The new Mazda 2 will be critical in returning Mazda to its pre-recession position when it launches next year
Mazda is predicting a lighter, more agile and more frugal replacement for the next-generation Mazda 2 supermini, based on the Hazumi concept shown at the Geneva motor show.
The new Mazda 2 is all-new and based on a downsized version of the Mazda 3/Mazda 6 ‘Skyactiv’ platform, modified with a lower-cost twist-beam rear axle.
The concept was shown with a 1.5-litre diesel, which will appeal to fleet buyers, but the key engine is the 1.5-petrol, which will sell to private buyers.
Its design was a collaborative effort led by Japan, but with input from studios in Germany and California.
The dominant theme is prominent wheel arches and distinctive folds and creases in the sheet metal, as used on the Mazda 3 and Mazda 6, under Mazda’s Kodo design language
Mazda also expects the new 2 to lift sales across Europe, which are recovering back to pre-economic crisis levels.
The latest sales figures suggest that in the past 12 months Mazda has sold 160,000 units, a significant improvement on the 126,000 sold in the same period last year.
‘We are continuing to concentrate on recovery and building up sales of our core models,’ says Phil Waring, Mazda Europe boss.
UK sales of the Mazda 2 particularly need a boost after falling back from a peak of around 14,000 just after launch to around 9000 now.
The Mazda 2 is expected to go on sale in the UK in spring next year, a little later than expected after the launch dates in the UK and mainland Europe were aligned.
Handsome Astra GTC gets nearly 200bhp, but it needs to be worked hard and is, ultimately, too expensive
Vauxhall’s lovely three-door Astra GTC, with the near-200bhp turbo petrol engine from the Cascada. It is not, however, one step down from the VXR. Other than the engine, the rest of it is standard GTC - so you get the rather good HiPer Strut front suspension, the effective rear suspension and the retuned steering. This car is a Limited Edition, which adds an imposing set of 20-inch rims and a smart set of deeper bumpers.
While the focus of the Geneva motor show is on the headline-grabbing new car reveals and concepts, there is still plenty of new metal to see elsewhere. Here are the best alternative cars on display
The Geneva motor show has given us a glimpse of what the coming months has in store for car fans. From a brand new Renault Twingo, to the stunning Maserati Alfieri concept and on to the Lamborghini Huracán and Audi TT.
While those cars continue to make headlines, Geneva is also home to an eclectic collection of concept cars and production models which, by themselves, don't make the front page. Here's Autocar's pick of the weird and wonderful cars at the Geneva motor show.
The Biofore Concept aims to show how renewable materials could eventually take over from metals and plastics as the main materials for building cars. Built by students at the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki, the Biofore is made from biocomposite and thermoformable wood and runs on wood-friendly diesel.
Bugatti's 'Lang Lang' special-edition Veyron is inspired by the Chinese concert pianist of the same name. The special, which runs seperately to Bugatti's Legends series, gets new black and white bodywork, new alloy wheel designs as well as gold-plated badges.
The production version of Citroën's C4 Cactus will face off against the likes of the Volkswagen Golf when it goes on sale in the UK in October, priced from around £13,000. Citroën used the Geneva motor show to explore how customers could customise the Cactus, revealing the new C4 Cactus Adventure concept. The Adventure gets new off-road-inspired...
Its big, brash and brilliant fun, the Vauxhall VXR8 GTS. And its that character that prevents the super-thirsty supersaloon from becoming an irrelevance
The Vauxhall VXR8 GTS is an anomaly, if we’re being serious about the relevance of a 576bhp rear-drive saloon fashioned in what is undoubtably a fairly old school manner.It’s big, it is not subtle, it looks quite scary and it has a boost gauge. It is not a slick German. It’s a hybrid of the Holden Commodore and a Chevrolet Camaro, with that car’s thumping 6.2-litre V8 enhanced by a big old supercharger. There are no other cars like this on sale in the UK, or Europe, really. That’s not to say that this new VXR8 GTS is crude, because it isn’t. It has a lot more tech than the VXR8: torque vectoring, a fearsome looking set of upgraded brakes, launch control, all sorts of switchable performance modes, and underneath the admittedly rather noticeable exterior lies a thoroughly reconstructed drivetrain, based on a Camaro LS3 engine but extensively mucked about with to create this car. The interior has been tweaked, too, with new materials and instruments.
Jaguar announces it is to end production of the XK sports car to focus on a new wave of models
Production of the Jaguar XK is to end in the summer, the company has announced.
Sales of the coupé and cabriolet models have dropped to less than 4000 units per year, following the launch of the F-type models.
Jaguar says that it wants to focus on other upcoming models, including the new XE saloon and F-type coupé that will steal even more sales from the XK range, as it enters a busy 18-24 months.
Sales of the Jaguar XK stood at around 1000 units in the last three months of 2012, but in the last three months of 2013 – following the launch of the F-type – sales were down to only a handful of units, the F-type effectively killing off the XK model on which it is loosely based, despite the two models’ substantially different price point and positioning.
Jaguar insiders have not ruled out a replacement for the XK in the future, but it’s likely to be a vastly different model to the 2+2 GT it will replace.
At the end of 2012, design director Ian Callum said Jaguar was “going through a lot of discussion” about how the XK should evolve in the future.
No final decision has yet been taken, but Callum said there was an opportunity to “allow the car to become a bit more special than a GT”.
“It could grow into the luxury market, and grow in size,” he said. “Whether it stays the same as a two-plus-two or becomes a two-plus-more-than-two has not been committed to yet.”
The F-type’s launch removes the need for the XK to act as out-and-out...
All-new Astra will launch in 2016, and promises to offer a more sophisticated design complete with new engines and gearboxes
The next-generation Vauxhall Astra will be moved “decisively upmarket” as General Motors’ loss-making European arm struggles to break even.
General Motors planners are placing an emphasis on the Astra’s exterior quality, fit and finish. They are also timing the launch of the new model to take advantage of the company’s all-new powertrain line-up.
The Astra will arrive as the ‘budget’ Chevrolet brand is dropped in Europe during 2015, emphasising GM’s strategy of trying to climb out of Europe’s middle-market blood bath.
The new Astra is due to
be rolled out in early 2016. Work on its styling is currently being refined by design boss Mark Adams and his team in Germany. The biggest clue to the look of the new Astra came with the Monza concept, unveiled at the Frankfurt show in September last year.
According to General Motors Europe (GME) sources, the Monza’s grille shape, bluff nose and large bumper air intakes all point to the face of the new Astra, particularly the sporting versions. The more bulbous rear end and rear light clusters are also strong future clues.
The aluminium strip that runs off the roof and into each tail-light cluster is expected to be a stylistic signature of the 2016 Astra. It reflects the overarching design theme for future Vauxhalls and Opels: making the cars look more sophisticated and more expensively constructed.
Partly inspired by the success of Audi in building cars that excel in exterior fit and finish, GME wants to capture some of this sheen as it tries to push the Opel and Vauxhall brands...
Early petrol version of new C-class trumps its diesel sibling on refinement, but it is not for the UK
The new Mercedes-Benz C-class is a huge improvement over its predecessor in many key areas and, crucially given the level of competition it will face, a more engaging car to drive than ever before.As you can read in our drive of the C250 BlueTEC model, the carry over turbocharged 2.2-litre four-cylinder common rail diesel engine, traditionally the big seller here in the UK, spuriously lacks the outright refinement of its more keener executive class rivals.As such, it comes as little surprise to find the German car maker enthusiastically extolling the virtues of initial turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder direct-injection petrol engine versions of the new C-class.The C250 driven here is not planned for sale in the UK owing to poor sales of its direct predecessor, which ran a considerably older turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine with a less advanced injection system. However, Mercedes-Benz expects it will be the most popular of all of the new C-class models on a global basis.
The new Audi TT has made its world debut at the Geneva motor show sporting an evolved style, more power and less weight.
Seen here at the Geneva motor show for the first time, the new Audi TT will go on sale in the UK this autumn. For its third incarnation, the TT has been given an all-new exterior design that looks sleeker while retaining similar proportions and dimensions to its predecessor as well as a comparable silhouette. The design combines more precise detailing up front, crisper feature lines within the body, a boldly curved roof and significantly altered rear end.
The new Ferrari California T convertible marks the return of the Italian supercar manufacturer using turbocharged powertrains in its mainstream models
Ferrari says the new California T can accelerate from rest to 62mph in 3.6 seconds and has a top speed of 196mph, both marginal improvements over the old model. Speaking at the Geneva show, Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo said its 8-cyl turbocharged engine is first in a quarter of a century. He said: "Maybe you remember the last one, the F40." We do, very fondly.
If you're in the market for a budget executive express, this 155mph-capable Jaguar could be just the ticket - but its mileage might give you cause for concern
Last week's rev-happy Honda Integra DC2 Type R drew much praise from the vast majority of you, thanks to its charismatic engine, robust engineering and outstanding dynamic capabilities.
Admittedly the Integra's ride and refinement could become a chore on longer trips though, and it's not exactly the most practical of cars.
If you were instead looking for something inexpensive, spacious and rapid in which to cover vast tracts of motorway in single bounds, then maybe this 1997 Jaguar XJR could be right up your street.
Jaguar's XJ was launched in 1994 and proved itself a cosseting saloon in standard form, with a quiet, comfortable cabin and a pliant ride. Its naturally aspirated straight six - although durable and smooth - lacked the outright punch that myriad V8-engined or high-performance alternatives offered, however.
In an effort to to match its European rivals, Jaguar pulled out the stops and neatly integrated an Eaton M90 supercharger into the straight six's intake system. An air-to-water intercooler was added to help keep intake temperatures down and detonation at bay, while other tweaks like stiffer suspension helped make the range-topping XJR a little sharper.
The standard naturally aspirated 4.0-litre XJ would put out a not-insignificant 237bhp and 277lb ft, allowing for a top speed of 143mph and 0-60mph in around 7.8sec. In XJR form, the hefty dose of boost helped hike the engine's outputs to 322bhp and 378lb ft; the 0-60mph sprint was cut to just 6.6sec as a result, while the...
The new £190,000 Lamborghini Huracan has broken new technological ground thanks to a new type of hybrid carbonfibre and aluminium construction
The Lamborghini Huracán renews the firm's assault on the fiercely fought supercar segment with more power and performance, a high-quality new interior, a new look and what the firm describes as an "innovative technology package". Much of this specification appears to address the main criticisms of the outgoing Gallardo, which was feeling its age next to more powerful, more modern and higher-quality rivals such as the Ferrari 458 and McLaren 12C.
The all-new Mercedes C-class is charged with delivering a sporty yet luxurious driving experience, and while it's undoubtedly good there's also room for improvement
The all-new Mercedes-Benz C-class. It’s set to be here for a while, because Mercedes isn’t planning on replacing this fifth-generation C-class for another seven years. So, until 2021, this is the C-class, and if ever Mercedes needed to get a car right, and get it right from the word go, this is it. Which is why Mercedes has thrown everything at the car this time round. Inside and out, the new C-class, says Mercedes, “feels like a free upgrade into business class”. Its cabin is a thing of rare quality and beauty, featuring a level of sophistication that, as we’ll discover, elevates it above and beyond any other car in this class. It’s a touch bigger than before, both inside and out, but, crucially, it’s also between 70kg and 100kg lighter than the previous model. And it’s more aerodynamically efficient, which, in turn, helps it to be more ecologically efficient, too – by about 20 per cent, Mercedes claims.So despite being the replacement for a car that was already way better than decent, the new C-class represents a giant leap forwards – according to Mercedes. All of the various engines and gearboxes that power and propel the new C-class have been comprehensively uprated or, in some cases, replaced and, initially, there will be just three trim levels: SE, Sport and AMG LinePrices will start at £26k for a basic C200 SE, rising to £35k and beyond for a fully stacked C250 AMG Line. This particular model, the C250 BlueTEC, will cost just over £30,000 but, as ever with Mercedes,...
Maserati has unveiled its new Jaguar F-type and Porsche 911 challenger, the Maserati Alfieri, in concept form at the Geneva motor show
The Maserati Alfieri is a concept designed to sit beneath Granturismo sports car. It is named after Alfieri Maserati, one of the brothers who founded the company. The car, shown at the Geneva motor show, is based on the Granturismo MC Stradale chassis, shortened by 240mm. It is uses the Granturismo's transaxle and 4.7-litre V8 engine, which develops 460bhp at 7000rpm and 383lb ft at 4750rpm.
The new McLaren 650S is faster than the iconic McLaren F1 hypercar, according to its maker. McLaren says the 650S coupé can reach 62mph in 3.0sec and 124mph in 8.4sec - and the Spider is barely slower.
The new McLaren 650S is capable of hitting 207mph and can cover the standing quarter mile in 10.5sec, which is 0.6sec less than the F1. The car was revealed at the Geneva motor show, where a new 650S Spider was also shown. McLaren promises a improved driving experience over the 12C on which it is based, and a larger price tag.
Third-generation Mini Cooper S is fun to drive, with an engaging four-cylinder engine and a much-improved cabin
The Mini Cooper S fastest and most powerful of Mini’s initial line-up of third-generation models. Whereas every other new Mini in the launch line-up has three-cylinder power, the Cooper S uses a four-cylinder engine, albeit a more advanced unit than its predecessor’s.The Cooper S’ 1998cc twin-scroll turbocharged direct-injection petrol engine is 400cc bigger than the unit it replaces, making it the largest-capacity petrol engine ever to be offered in the Mini hatchback. It is, however, 7kg lighter than the old powerplant.Power is up by 8bhp to 189bhp, but more apparent is the increase in torque, which rises by 15lb ft to 206lb ft at 1250rpm. Mini claims 0-62mph of 6.7sec and a top speed of 146mph, making the new Cooper S fractionally faster than its predecessor in six-speed automatic guise. Purists will still likely prefer the six-speed manual, despite it taking a further tenth of a second to reach the 62mph benchmark.The Cooper S continues to be differentiated from lesser Minis by a series of exterior styling touches. Included is a deeper front bumper with a larger horizontal duct, the signature bonnet scoop, rally-inspired graphics and wider sills. The Cooper S sits on 16-inch alloy wheels.More than capable, with a sporting nature that's noticeable from the moment you fire the engine. Although it lacks the flexibility of the new three-cylinder unit used in the Cooper, the new four-cylinder engine offers improved low-end response, added mid-range and a more involving character than before. The added performance and responsive nature of the contemporary underpinnings make the new Cooper S fun, fast and nimble. But, as with the standard Cooper, it is also more mature, and the steering, now...
New Nissan GT-R Nismo priced at £125k, Ford launches new top-spec Kuga while counting the cost of its new Focus, hybrid car sales up in Europe
Pricing for the 591bhp Nissan GT-R Nismo has been announced. Nissan's UK website now lists the £125,000 GT-R Nismo alongside the standard 2014 GT-R, which costs £77,995. The GT-R Nismo is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V6 engine, and can reach 60mph in 2.7 seconds.
New top-spec Titanium X Sport editions of the Ford Kuga are now available, priced at £28,345. The model features new 19-inch alloy wheels, a body kit, integrated sat-nav with DAB radio and Ford's Active Park Assist. Titanium versions of the Kuga have accounted for around 80 per cent of sales in its first year.
Sales of hybrid cars in Europe jumped by more than 40 per cent in 2013. A total of 214,237 hybrid cars were sold, as more drivers sought to reduce the costs of motoring. The news is a big boost for Toyota, which expects sales of its Yaris Hybrid to grow by 20 per cent in Europe this year.
Mercedes-Benz plans to double its SUV sales in order to take back luxury car sales leadership from its German competitors. In order to claim the crown from BMW and Audi by 2020, Mercedes will look to increase SUV sales to 800,000 units, helped by the new GLA, MLC and GLC 'coupe' models.
Ford has refused to comment on the cost of its Focus facelift. The process is understood to be one of the most expensive that the firm has ever undertaken, with...
Third-generation Mini Cooper is bigger and better in every respect. Three-cylinder petrol engine is an absolute belter, too, as we discover
The third-generation 'new' Mini is perhaps the most important yet. It shows a Mini/BMW future using a common platform and a new range of three-cylinder engines.Certainly, from the snug confines of the optional sport seats, it is hard to argue that the new Cooper is anything but a huge step forward. From behind its classy multi-function steering wheel - itself part of a significant rethink of the interior - the driving experience is welcomingly familiar.But there is also a newfound maturity and sense of quality that makes the car even more pleasant to be in and a good deal more rewarding to drive. The turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol unit is one of four all-new, in-house-developed forced-induction three and four-cylinder engines for the new Mini. It is an absolute belter, serving up the sort of performance and user-friendliness its relatively conservative power output fails to convey on paper.As fitted here, it produces 134bhp at 4500rpm and 162lb ft at just 1250rpm. The launch range also includes a 94bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder diesel plus a 189bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine in the Cooper S, the latter being the only unit at launch to increase in capacity.The new three-pot in the Cooper is a little vocal at start-up, with a deep thrum from the engine and a distant pulsing of the exhaust as you thumb the starter, now among the toggle switches mounted low down on the centre console. However, these qualities are quickly replaced by a more satisfying cacophony as you tip in the revs.It is a terrifically responsive engine, offering lively pull from little more than 1000rpm all the way to its 6400rpm cut-out. There...
First fully autonomous Nissan to launch by 2020; tech to roll out within two generations
Nissan boss Andy Palmer has pledged that Nissan will have a production-ready vehicle capable of autonomous driving by 2020.
Speaking at the Geneva motor show, he said that the technology would be rolled out across all vehicles in Nissan’s range within two generations.
Although a range of autonomous systems are open, from lane keeping aids and adaptive cruise control to fully driverless cars, Palmer said his plan was to launch a car capable of driving itself from A to B, but it would require human intervention in certain circumstances.
"In the traffic of Delhi, for instance, human control may be more effective," he said. "Autonomous driving on this level is very popular with governments as it advances the goal of zero fatalities. What we are not talking about here is cars that allow you to go to the pub, have a few drinks and then fall in the back while you are driven home."
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles chief Sergio Marchionne hints that Lancia brand could be wound down
The future of the Lancia brand and its integration with Chrysler will become clear on 6 May, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles chief Sergio Marchionne has revealed at the Geneva motor show.
When Fiat and Chrysler first got together, Marchionne saw close synergies between Lancia and Chrysler, and launched a glut of badge-engineered Chryslers as Lancias in Europe.
In the UK, the reverse happened, with Chrysler models joined by badge-engineered versions of the Ypsilon and Delta.
The plan has not been a success, with Marchionne confirming earlier this year that all the Lancia-badged Chryslers were to be axed, along with the Delta, meaning Lancia would have just one model, the Ypsilon, which would only be sold in Italy.
This is set to be rubber-stamped in May when Marchionne reveals the future model plans for all brands in the newly created Fiat Chrysler Automobiles empire. The plan is also set to reveal whether or not the Ypsilon will be replaced after its current generation.
“I will shed more light on Chrysler in Europe in May,” said Marchionne. “We have curtailed our ambitions for Lancia. I’m going to be saying things that will hurt old Lancia people. The market has moved on and not every opportunity can be realised, we can’t cede to every demand.
“There will be some reshaping of activities and we need to make money.”
Read more Geneva motor show news.
Most powerful front-wheel drive Vauxhall ever will come to the UK in low volumes in 2015
The Vauxhall Astra VXR Extreme, unveiled at the Geneva motor show, will come to the UK in right-hand drive form in 2015.
Speaking to Autocar at the show, a company spokesman said that the UK market was an important one for hot hatches and performance cars, and the success of the VXR brand meant that the Extreme will definitely be sold here.
The Extreme, based on an Astra VXR, is described as a track car for the road, and was influenced by the specification of the German OPC Cup race cars. It uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with over 300bhp, hooked up to a manual six-speed gearbox. This, too, has been heavily modified, with different ratios and made from lighter, stronger materials.
Suspension on the Extreme is mechanically adjustable, as with the race cars, and the braking system uses six-piston Brembo calipers on 376mm discs at the front. Inside, the rear seats have been removed, and a roll cage fitted in their place, with six-point harnesses.
Between 50 and 300 Extremes will be built, depending on demand, with the production model likely to be launched at the Geneva show next year.
Read more Geneva motor show news.
Easygoing, comfortable BMW 420d convertible offers plenty, but its squidy nature won't excite spirited drivers
We’ve already driven the range-topping BMW 435i convertible, now it’s the turn of the car which will make most of the volume - the 420d. Aside from the engine, this is much the same car; a lower, longer and wider prospect than the model it replaces, and one that continues to sport a retractable metal hard-top roof. From launch, the familiar 181bhp 2.0-litre unit will be the only diesel engine available with the convertible, and its frugality affords the car 55.4mpg economy and 133g/km CO2 emissions in conjunction with the six-speed manual gearbox. Select BMW’s eight-speed automatic, and they improve to 58.9mpg and 127g/km. There are five trim levels to choose from, starting with the SE sampled here (although not on UK roads). The mechanics of a life cycle change means the 420d ends up with more standard kit than its predecessor - including the current 3-series’s large infotainment screen, iDrive controller, Drive Performance Control, 17-inch alloy wheels and heated front seats. The price difference is a modest £495. But that still sees the model start at £36,675 - almost £2500 more than the equivalent Audi A5 cabriolet 2.0 TDI SE. The example tested also featured a number of options - BMW’s Professional media system, 18-inch wheels, adaptive suspension - hiking its final total to £43,850.
Geneva was all about exciting little city cars, significant concepts and flamboyant supercars thrown in for good measure. Here are Autocar's stars of the Geneva motor show
In stark contrast to last year, the 2014 Geneva motor show is definitive proof that one of the greatest car shows on the calendar does not have to be dominated by supercar unveilings.
The show revealed a wide variety of volume production models, striking concepts and intoxicating performance cars; with a particular emphasis on the new generation of light-footed city cars.
With so many models making their public debuts, here's our pick of the show's top exhibits by Autocar's team on the ground.
It may look like a more credible recreation of the Fiat 500 than the Fiat 500 itself, but the real charm here is in the driving potential and clever packaging of this rear-drive, rear-engined beauty. Let’s hope prices can be kept down. Jim Holder
Citroën C4 Cactus
Citroën's Cactus has been around for ages as a concept, but Geneva's production version is every bit as gloriously quirky and optimistic — yet practical — as the original idea. I can see Paris's park-by-ear sidestreets packed with these because they'll work so well. That fantastically simple, compact, original interior would give me pleasure every time. Steve Cropley
Honda Civic Type R
We hear models being called "race cars for the road" all the time, but with the Type R I’m actually inclined to believe it. So extreme is its mechanical make-up that the Seat Leon Cupra R’s new ‘Ring record lap for a hot hatch is already looking slow. Mark Tisshaw
Volvo Concept Estate
The Volvo Concept Estate has an exceptionally inviting interior whose...
This retitled hot Corsa is still very entertaining, but it’s expensive compared to newer rivals like the Ford Fiesta ST
A very lightly upgraded Vauxhall Corsa VXR Nürburgring, which keeps all the good bits that impressed us so much about the original car when it was launched in 2011.Its excellent grip, traction and all-round entertaining manner ranked it alongside the best hot hatches - a very effective mechanical limited-slip differential gave it exceptional levels of grip and precision. This car, which ditches the Nürburgring name for Clubsport, retains the diff, the 201bhp turbo four-pot, the retuned Bilstein suspension (lower and stiffer than a standard VXR) and gains a new sports exhaust system.There are a couple of small-scale trim updates, including some Clubsport-badged sill covers, and our test car was fitted with a set of very attractive satin black 18-inch wheels. Oh, and the price has increased by £95, which isn’t much. But the price is an issue - more of this later.
As GM signs off a new 10-year plan to build Cadillac's reputation and sales, the company aims to succeed in Europe without introducing new market-specific cars
I had a strong sense of déjà vu at the Geneva motor show, talking Cadillac with incumbent European boss Thomas Sedran. General Motors has signed off a 10-year plan – injecting a sizeable sum of cash in the process – into making a real fist of success for its luxury arm in Europe.
It was a little over two years ago when I heard something very similar at the unveiling of the Cadillac ATS, a BMW 3-series rival, at the 2012 Detroit motor show.
A string of executives told me how serious the firm were about taking the model to Europe, with right-hand drive and diesel engines to come.
Well, in 2014, the same statements are being made again. Diesel is coming, but still with no final confirmation of engines and dates. Right-hand drive is possible, but still not confirmed.
The project has the faint whiff of Infiniti’s European launch at the end of the last decade about it, selling cars to a European audience with US-friendly looks and big, powerful petrol engines only.
Infiniti, which launched in Europe at the end of the last decade with similar US-friendly looking models and big, thirsty petrol engines only as with Cadillac, doesn’t expect to break even in Europe until the end of this decade.
I draw the comparison as that break-even point will come only after Infiniti has launched a thoroughly European model with the European designed, engineered and built Q30 hatchback in 2015. There are no such plans at Cadillac, or at least none which Sedran commented on.
A comparison with Lexus could...
A brand new Maserati sports car, a design study for the young generation from Hyundai and a close look at the new 300bhp Honda Civic Type R are just some of our favourite concept cars from the Geneva motor show
The top concept cars at the Geneva motor show gave a close look at the shapes our cars could take in the near future.
Concept cars are often the headline act at motor shows, and while the focus at Geneva was undoubtedly on small-car stars like the new Renault Twingo, plenty of attention was still pulled towards the cars below. Better still, four of our top five concepts are mooted to spawn production models in the future.
Click below for the full stories behind our top five concept cars of the show, and let us know your concept car stars in the comments below.
The flamboyant Italian carmaker’s latest creation is based on a shortened Granturismo MC Stradale chassis. It uses the same 4.7-litre V8 motor as the MC Stradale, which puts out 460bhp and 383lb ft of torque. The engine is mated to Maserati’s MC Shift automated manual gearbox, while the total package is said to weigh less than 1400kg.
Honda Civic Type R
This potent hot hatch concept is confirmed as “the most extreme Type R yet” by Honda executives and rumored to be just a year away from showrooms. For the first time in its life cycle, the next-generation Civic Type R will be powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot engine, which Honda says will develop at least 300bhp by the time it goes into production.
When Hyundai uncovered its PassoCorto concept, the...
From historic Le Mans racers to cutting-edge Formula E cars, the Geneva show reminded us of how important motor racing is to car manufacturers
The adage 'win on Sunday, sell on Monday' is traditionally used to explain how important motor racing is to road car manufacturers.
From the dawn of the motor car, manufacturers such as Bugatti and Bentley have used competition as a tool to highlight the potency of the cars they construct.
However, the game has changed considerably over the years. In those formative years – indeed, all the way up until the 1970s – the saloon and sports cars on the world's most famous race tracks and rally stages were often derived directly from road machines.
Improvements in safety and increases in performance mean that today's motorsport vehicles often bear very little resemblance to the models customers can buy from their local dealership.
For example, your local Audi dealer isn't likely to offer you a tempting discount on Ingolstadt's RS5 DTM car anytime soon. So is modern motor racing less valid for the manufacturers? Quite the opposite, but the game has changed dramatically.
These days, motorsport is more of a marketing tool, offering manufacturers the opportunity to build the profile of their brands and raise the level of emotional attachment buyers have with their products. It's why Hyundai is competing in the World Rally Championship, conducting a high-speed global tour with an extreme version of its i20 hatchback.
Competing in modern-day motorsport also has technological advantages. The advent of hybridisation on road and track is enabling manufacturers such as Audi, Porsche and Toyota to conduct condensed research into areas...
Marking two years of continued growth in the UK new car market, manufacturers including Bentley, Dacia and Toyota celebrate with increased new car sales
The UK's new car market has continued to grow in February, marking two consecutive years of increased sales.
In total, 68,736 cars were sold last month, according to new figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), up by three per cent on last year. So far this year total car sales stand at 223,298 units, a rise of over six per cent on the same period in 2013.
While petrol cars continue to take a lead over diesel in the statistics, the numbers of alternatively fuelled vehicles, which includes electric cars, rose by over 45 per cent on February last year, to 1212 units.
In particular, the UK's small hatchback market has seen tremendous growth, almost doubling since 2012. That's put down to more motorists looking to downsize their cars to save money, with the trend likely to continue in the coming months thanks to the launch of new models including the 2014 Mini hatchback.
Manufacturers who performed well last month included Bentley, which almost doubled its sales of 34 cars in February 2013 to 67 units in the same period this year.
Dacia also continues to sell strongly in the UK, with sales of 475 cars last month meaning the brand posted a rise of 1339 per cent compared to February 2013.
Toyota, Skoda, Porsche, Mazda, Audi and Fiat also posted significant growth.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said the continued growth was "a real endorsement of consumer confidence and the attractiveness of the new car market.
"While February is typically...
VW plans new MLB-based flagship Phaeton, as well as future hybrid and EV models with increased range
The Volkswagen Phaeton will be replaced by an all-new saloon that will be expected to top its class, VW development chief Heinz-Jakob Neusser has confirmed at the Geneva motor show.
Neusser said “the next Phaeton has to be class leading” and be “very smooth and luxurious” to drive.
Despite never selling in great numbers, Neusser said a replacement for the Phaeton was important as it acted as a technology flagship for the VW brand and allowed advanced systems to be put into production, with lessons then applied to getting that technology into its more mainstream models at an affordable price.
“We use all the technology and develop it for other VWs and group brands,” said Neusser. “It’s actually got a very attractive business case.”
The new Phaeton would be based on VW’s next-generation MLB platform, which is currently in development.
Neusser also said he wouldn’t be resurrecting plans for a small VW sports car inspired by the BlueSport concept. The BlueSport was the brainchild of his predecessor, Ulrich Hackenberg, but a business case could never be made for it.
Nesusser admits he “personally likes the idea, as do all the engineers” but the business case was not there still – and even diminishing further – as “the segment is so small”.
More plug-in VWs are planned, however, and Neusser can see a time when every VW in each segment the brand competes in has a plug-in hybrid variant.
VW is also committed to developing pure EV technology, and Neusser expects current battery technology to improve to allow around 50 per cent more range...
New Mazda MX-5 is rumoured for a partial reveal at the New York motor show
The all-new Mazda MX-5 could be revealed - in part - at the New York motor show next month,
Sources reported that a stripped down chassis of the eagerly awaited new two-seater will make an appearance on Mazda’s stand at the New York, timed around Easter.
However, the exact launch date of the new MX-5 is still to be decided.
Last year a plan emerged to reveal it at the Chicago show – where the original was unveiled 25 years ago.
But sources now report that the timing of Chicago doesn’t fit with Mazda’s launch programme and that plan has been scrapped.
But the original plan for the development of the new MX-5 to be a joint venture between Mazda and Alfa Romeo may take an unexpected turn. Speaking at the Geneva motor show, Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne suggested a two seat sports car fits better with the group’s Abarth brand than it does with Alfa Romeo.
Read more Geneva motor show news.
The best new car deals and new car leasing deals for this week, including offers on the Fiat Bravo, Skoda Yeti, Citroën C1, Seat Ibiza and Peugeot 508
If you’re in the market for a new car, or after the best new-car leasing deal, you can save thousands with a little research. This is the pick of what our deals experts have found this week.
Best new car deals
The Fiat Bravo has a smaller asking price and a larger kit list than most of its rivals. This 1.4 Multiair Easy five-door hatchback from Motorparks costs £14,000, a saving of £5,000 from the list price.
Skoda’s Yeti is one of the best cars in the crossover segment and makes considerable sense for a family on the move. On GB car deals, we found a Yeti 1.6 TDI CR S GreenLine II for £15,530. That’s a saving of £2,565 from the list price.
Best leasing deals
The Citroën C1 supermini is a fine city car that emits just 99g/km in manual form, and a new model revealed in Geneva means prices are suitably low. National Vehicle Solutions is offering a C1 1.0i Edition model for £70.56 per month. That’s based on a 24-month contract and an annual mileage limit of 5,000 miles per year.
Seat’s Ibiza offers a more engaging drive than a rival Vauxhall Corsa or Renault Clio. A 1.2 TDI CR S in five-door form is available from Albion Vehicle Contracts for £152.40 per month over 36 months, with an initial payment of £914.40 and a 10,000-mile annual limit.
Deal of the week
The Peugeot 508 is a...
It's not all about high-performance supercars at Geneva. The show exhibits diversity, from Renault's rear-engined Twingo to the VW T-Roc and bio-friendly Biofore concept cars
Kicking off day one with a game-changing small car - Renault’s new Twingo - and finishing day two with a research car made using re-processed wood pulp and a new kind of plywood, is a good indication of how diverse this year’s Geneva Show was.
The Twingo may be a city car with a killer turning circle that outstrips all competitors by a metre but Renault has already drawn attention to the rear-end styling which reflects the design of the mid-engine Renault 5 Turbo. That, the 55:45 weight distribution, and a turbocharged three-cylinder engine, which is eminently tuneable means the new car should be pretty fun to drive.
One game-changing trend stood out at the show, too, with the coming of age of VW’s MQB modular architecture, which was announced two years ago. Many feared the approach threatened to replace differentiation and originality with dull standardisation, a money-saving measure with nothing in it for the customer.
But by the time MQB was first revealed, it was already a mature plan, a done deal. With the new Golf and A3 imminent, other models followed including the Seat Leon and the Skoda Octavia.
MQB production is now in full swing the signs are that the customer is indeed getting the good deal VW promised. Before MQB, there were three infotainment systems, now there are five.
There is a greater availability of active safety systems but perhaps more significant is the...
Latest offerings from Renault, Peugeot and Citroën demonstrates that French car makers can still make appealing city cars
Although there were many other individual highlights, Geneva was the show where the French fought back. And as we have seen on the rugby pitch from time to time, the French can be a ferocious force when their backs are against the wall.
The show opened against the backdrop of Peugeot’s convincing victory in the European Car of the Year contest.
This may have been to the bafflement of most UK jurors, none of whom placed it at the head of their choices but despite the convoluted moanings of one of their number – me – it garnered strong across the board support from other countries.
Not to be outdone, Citroën showed it has remembered who its customers are by showing the production specification C4 Cactus to be the simple but innovative, affordable but funky product it had promised to be in concept form.
I worry about it a little because I think it may be one of those cars that looks fabulous either on a show stand or in a showroom but might not appear so dreamy a few years down the line with scuffed plastic sides, but hopefully by then Citroën will have sold enough not to care.
I wasn’t drawn as some to Citroën’s other newcomer, the C1 whose platform it shares with the Peugeot 108 and, in fact I think Toyota did a better job than either in dressing the Aygo on their shared underpinnings. But the Renault Twingo? That one small and rather cute shape is everything a modern city car should be.
Lichtenstein-based Quant uses Geneva show to reveal electric car with pioneering new battery tech, with plans to produce road-going prototypes before 2015
This is the NanoFlowCell Quant e-Sportlimousine, an electric gull-wing coupé revealed at the Geneva motor show.
At 5.25m long, the e-Sportlimousine is longer than a Mercedes-Benz S-class, sitting at 2.2m wide, 1.35m high and with a 3.1m wheelbase. It features two-metre gull-wing doors, with 1.7 metre-wide side windows. The car tips the scales at 2300kg.
According to Nunzio La Vecchia, technical director of NanoFlowCell AG, “The QUANT e-Sportlimousine is neither a show car nor a concept car.
“It is a research vehicle for road testing innovative energy storage systems, focusing especially on development and improvements in flow cell battery technology.”
The Quant e-sportlimousine uses four electric motors, one for each wheel. Current reports suggest a combined power output of 912bhp, enabling a 0-62mph sprint in 2.8sec and a top speed in excess of 236mph.
The firm states its NanoFlowCell technology has five times greater performance-by-weight than current lithium-ion technologies which power most of today’s electric vehicles. Its driving range is claimed to be five-times greater than a conventional unit of the same weight, although no official figures have been released.
In the company’s own words, the technology works by "a combination of a battery and a fuel cell using liquid electrolyte which are kept in two tanks and pumped through the cell.
“At the heart of the system, a membrane separates the two electrolytic solutions, but allows electrical charge to pass through and thereby produce power for the drive train.”
The interior stands out with some unusual highlights, with the two rows of individual seats, one behind the other in cockpit style, accentuating the carbonfibre monocoque construction....
Larger Jeep model to use Grand Wagoneer name, but is unlikely to be sold in Europe
Jeep will turn its attentions to launching a model bigger than the current range-topping Grand Cherokee, company chief Mike Manley has revealed at the Geneva motor show.
The new model is set to bring back the Grand Wagoneer nameplate to the strong-performing Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group brand.
“Above the Grand Cherokee there is an opportunity, especially in the US, China and the Middle East,” said Manley. “That’s where we’ll go next and the natural name is Grand Wagoneer.”
Manley said the model was unlikely to come to Europe as it would be too big for tastes here.
Beyond the Grand Wagoneer, Manley said he didn’t see there being many other SUV segments left to discover, other than a model smaller than the new supermini-sized Renegade the firm launched at the show.
“There might be the emergence of a small A-segment SUV,” he said. “But it’s not for Jeep at the moment. There’ll be those who will be pushing down there, but before we do it, we’d need to know we can be capable off-road.
“I’m sure we could do it, but I don’t think that’s the case at the moment.”
The new Renegade and Cherokee mark the start of an expansion for Jeep as it looks to expand outside its traditional North American heartland.
He believes the models have huge potential in Europe in particular, and the firm will “communicate the models properly” in an attempt to realise their potential. Indeed, on current predictions, the Italian-built Renegade is initially expected to record more sales in Europe than America.
Manley also said the demand from...
The Infiniti Q30 crossover hatchback will be engineered by Mercedes, the firm which will also provide the model's platform
Mercedes-Benz engineers will develop the new British-built Infiniti Q30 crossover hatch to production, in an effort to speed the model to market.
"This is a quick program and Infiniti needs a new model in Europe fast," says Infiniti boss Johan de Nysschen.
The Q30 is based on Mercedes’ new front-drive MFA platform, which underpins the new A-class.
"We will set the specifications and parameters and Mercedes will engineer the car. It is their platform," added de Nysschen.
The Q30 will be engineered for production in double-quick time, taking just 18 months from design freeze to production start.
Effectively Infiniti is contracting out the engineering development to a third-party to ease the demands on its own engineering teams.
Although Infiniti didn’t discuss powertrains in the new model, it is highly likely that engines will be carry-over Mercedes units, themselves co-developed with Renault-Nissan under the joint development project with Mercedes.
GM's European boss confirms GM/PSA platform-sharing agreement could be expanded, possibly to include a new SUV
Vauxhall will consider adding further cars to its three-model platform-sharing deal with PSA.
"We may extend our platform-sharing deal in future," Vauxhall boss Karl-Thomas Neumann told Autocar at the Geneva motor show.
Neumann didn’t specify the models, but excluded mainstream cars such as the Corsa, Astra and Insignia, which can be included in global GM platforms to share costs. An all-new Corsa is nearly ready for production and will go on sale next year, followed shortly after by a new Agila, an all-new city car also based on a new platform.
That leaves future niche models, possibly including a new full-size SUV, known as the Monza in internal documents that have leaked on the web, as likely joint ventures.
Monza was also the name of the Frankfurt show concept that showed the next direction for Vauxhall/Opel styling.
At the moment PSA and Vauxhall/Opel have agreed a platform-sharing deal for the next-generation Meriva, Zafira and Combo van models, which will launch over the next two to four years.
The Vauxhall and PSA versions will be differentiated by unique sheetmetal and styling details, but will be powered only by PSA engines. Neumann said: "It would be too expensive to change the engines. And to what benefit?"
Neumann wouldn’t confirm whether the next-gen Meriva will retain its unique clamshell-door arrangement, either. "It’s a good question. But we will make it a Vauxhall/Opel, we don’t want to make the same car as PSA."
The three models were chosen for platform sharing because their sales volume doesn’t justify individual investment and because they can’t share global architectures with other GM global...
From a new Renault Twingo to the latest generation of one of the UK's best-sellers, these are the cars confirmed as heading to the showroom in the coming months
Unlike previous years, the 2014 Geneva motor show had a strong emphasis on production cars rather than concepts.
While the focus of the show was undoubtedly on the new generation of city cars, led by the Renault Twingo, Toyota Aygo, Citroën C1 and Peugeot 108, there were also more luxurious offerings from Rolls-Royce and Mercedes-Benz.
Read on for our run-down of the top five show-stealing production cars from the Geneva motor show, and let us know your favourites in the comments below.
The third-generation Renault Twingo had motoring writers drooling with its rear-wheel drive, rear-engined platform, allied with potentially “notably quick steering”. The French manufacturer says it aims to recapture the spirit of the Renault 5 while maintaining a five-seat, four-door layout. The new Renault Twingo measures 100mm shorter than today’s model and can turn within an 8.65m radius.
Mercedes-Benz S-class coupé
The German car maker’s two-door flagship coupé has the Bentley Continental GT in its sights. Mercedes-Benz says the styling flourishes are aimed at visually separating the all-new model from the S-class saloon. Only one engine has been confirmed so far – a 448bhp 4.6-litre V8 twin-turbo unit which will power the S500 coupé.
Peugeot's 108 city car reputedly has a more upmarket and premium feel to the 107 predecessor. It reportedly tips the scales at just 840kg and is offered with a choice of efficient three-cylinder petrol engines. The range-topping motor is an 82bhp 1.2-litre VTi, which emits 99g/km of CO2. Buyers can choose from...
Fifth dedicated BMW SUV model to launch this summer with X6-inspired styling and borrowed X3 engines, priced from £36,590
The new BMW X4 has been revealed – a car the German manufacturer describes as being based on the X3, but with refined driving dynamics to place it “on another level”.
Set to become BMW’s fifth dedicated SUV model, the five-seat X4 was first previewed in concept car form at last year’s Shanghai motor show. The junior sibling to the strong-selling X6 is planned to make its public debut at next month’s New York motor show prior to going on sale in the UK in July.
At launch, the new X4 will be available in diesel form only with prices starting from £36,590 for the xDrive20d SE, rising to £44,890 for the xDrive30d xLine and on to £48,990 for the range-topping xDrive35d in M Sport trim.
Buoyed by the success of the X6, BMW is looking towards the smaller and more affordable X4 to appeal to an increasing number of buyers seeking the sporting traits of a traditional performance estate together with the everyday versatility of a high-riding SUV.
Key among the rivals for the new BMW is the recently introduced Porsche Macan and Range Rover Evoque – the former of which has generated a remarkable 50,000 sales worldwide, a total corresponding to its planned first year of production, before even reaching showrooms.
As hinted to by the earlier Concept X4, the appearance of BMW’s latest SUV has been heavily influenced by that of the X6. The two share the same basic silhouette and five-door liftback layout, although their respective...
The organisation that assesses new car safety standards responds to criticism that emerging-market vehicles shouldn't be judged by European criteria
The secretary general of Global NCAP, the organisation that assesses the safety standards of new cars around the world, has dismissed claims that stringent tests on budget cars built for emerging markets are misguided.
Global NCAP recently branded Indian-market cars such as the Tata Nano and Suzuki-Maruti Alto 800 as “unsafe”, after subjecting them to its crash tests.
But Nissan boss Andy Palmer labelled the criticism of the cars as “absurd”. He added: “I think the people who criticise these cars for not meeting US or European crash standards are living in a dream world.”
Palmer said: “We are talking about cars built to transport people who would otherwise be four or five-up on a motorcycle. These people today can’t afford more, and if we fit safety systems we will drive the prices up and they’ll choose the motorbike again. A car with a body and individual seats is much safer than a bike.”
Nissan recently launched the Datsun Go, a new budget vehicle for the emerging markets.
Global NCAP’s secretary general David Ward countered: “Andy Palmer is entirely wrong. The UN’s basic crash standard for front impact is not costly to apply. To pass it only requires a single driver airbag and reasonable body shell integrity, which today many global platforms already provide.
“These standards have been in force in Europe since 1998 and as part of the current UN Decade of Action for Road Safety are increasingly being applied around the world. They are affordable and should be a global minimum.
“No one is suggesting change overnight...
Clio and Captur will become Renault's blueprint for future design process; new Espace and forthcoming Scenic will also challenge accepted design directions
Renault will no longer launch cars that comply to conventional design criteria, according to its head of small cars, Benoit Bochard. “Cars that say ‘business as usual’ are no longer part of what we stand for,” he told Autocar at the Geneva motor show.
Buoyed by the style led success of the Renault Clio and Captur, Bochard said that in future all Renaults would challenge accepted design directions. He cited the upcoming Renault Espace, which mixes crossover styling with MPV functionality, as an example, and hinted the next generation Renault Scenic, due to launch in two years, would follow a similar route.
“We don’t want to do designs that mimic our heritage, but we do want to build on the roots of what our past designs stood for – our heritage provokes many happy memories, and we want to use them to steer the direction we will head in,” he said.
Bochard dimissed the possibility of Renault reviving some of the brand’s iconic cars from its past, however, such as the Renault 5 and 8. “We are not interested in revival,” he said, “just using the memories to steer us.”
The world's supercar industry is alive and well, with headline launches from McLaren, Koenigsegg and Pagani offering plenty of excitement for the show crowds
The Geneva motor show showcased an array of high performance cars, including new models from Koenigsegg, McLaren and Pagani.
It wasn’t just about expensive supercars, however, as Seat flaunted the fastest front-wheel-drive hot hatch to lap the Nürburgring in the form of its new Leon Cupra.
Read on for our top five performance cars of the show, and let us know your show stars in the comments below.
Koenigsegg Agera One:1
Geneva marked the world debut for the One:1, so named because its weight of 1340kg matches its power output. With 1322bhp (1340 metric horsepower) on tap from its 5.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, Koenigsegg claims a top speed of 273mph. If that figure is verified, it will eclipse the Hennessey Venom GT’s 270mph and Bugatti Veyron Super Sport’s 268mph. The Swedish supercar maker claims this top speed is possible thanks to the One:1’s “high power and high-rpm capability, in combination with strong tyres and active aero”.
Pagani Zonda Revolucion
The Pagani Zonda Revolucion will be the last iteration in the Zonda’s 15-year production run. Priced at around £2.3 million, it’s powered by a naturally aspirated 6.0-litre V12 Mercedes engine and develops 789bhp and 538lb ft of torque. The car features many aerodynamic enhancements, including an F1-inspired drag reduction system (DRS) on the rear wing, which can be activated manually from the steering wheel.
Seat Leon Cupra 280
Seat revealed the Leon Cupra 280 in Geneva, hailing it as the fastest production front-wheel-drive car to lap the Nürburgring – a feat it achieved in 7min 58.4sec. The first...
Mercedes-Benz will not entertain three cylinder engines in its larger rear-drive saloons, but the configuration could appear in smaller models
Mercedes-Benz has ruled out three-cylinder petrol and diesel engines for its main range of rear-drive saloons, despite rivals like BMW adopting the fuel-saving technology.
"We have looked at three-cylinder engines, but there are too many compromises, such as refinement and the savings aren’t that significant," Bernhard Heil, head of engine development said at the Geneva motor show.
Heil says Mercedes has experimented with three-cylinder engines, but the vibration and loss of refinement, particularly at low speed operation when fuel savings could be maximised, are too big a penalty to pay.
Mercedes is gearing its engines to operate at as low a speed as practical, a strategy Heil calls ‘Down-Speeding’.
To boost refinement, three-cylinder engines need balancer shafts, which add weight and cost and wipe out many of the advantages of the smaller swept volume.
Mercedes is, however, likely to develop a second family of slightly smaller-capacity diesels with a swept volume less than today’s ubiquitous 2.1-litre OM651 unit.
The OM651 is increasingly popular, powering around 70 per cent of all rear-drive Mercedes models. Heil didn’t specify a capacity, but 1.9 or 2.0-litre capacities are possible alternatives.
The powertrain of front-drive models like the new A- and B-classes, could however, be powered with three-cylinder units.
Although these engines would need balancer shafts, Heil says the packaging advanatges would allow Mercedes to add a motor/generator unit between the front wheels for future hybrid applications.
There's no press conference like a Ferrari press conference, and 2014's California T reveal was no different
Going to Geneva is a treat for any car fan, but you won’t get a sense of the full stature of the show until you go back a second or third time. Only then can you appreciate the weight of history that pervades the place.
This is the only big European show that happens every year, and every year you’ll find each manufacturer’s stand in exactly the same place. If you’re a hack, you’ll notice that the orchestrated unveilings run in broadly the same order on press day.
The starring attractions themselves change every year, of course. But even so, if you traipse around with the crowd, following the conference schedule as many do, it still feels a little bit like Groundhog Day.
Nobody makes a better play of this than Luca di Montezemolo, who gives the Ferrari press conference every year. The instant you hear his clipped Italian tones, your excitement piques in anticipation of the new Ferrari that’s about to be unveiled.
There is always a new Ferrari at Geneva. Sometimes it’s an Enzo or a LaFerrari; other years, like this one, a facelifted California. But it is always unveiled in the same way, on the same spot, at roughly the same time of day – and so it always feels incredibly special.
Luca welcomes the gathered press like returning members of a social club. He never fails to convey a vivid sense of the passion and commitment that goes into making every new model. And his style of delivery in particular makes a refreshing change from the general trend.
You’ll find no dancers, jugglers...