The news that GM will stop making vehicles in Australia is sad indeed, and the Australian car industry might never be the same again
“Either you’re here or you’re not.” That was what Joe Hockey, Australia’s Treasurer, told General Motors’ Australian arm Holden only yesterday, after the company said it still wasn’t sure whether it was committed to manufacturing in Australia.
Holden has absorbed $A1.8bn in government subsidies during the past decade and had sought more funding to secure the development of its next generation of cars. The Australian opposition suggested Hockey’s reaction had “dared Holden to leave”. Today Holden left.
Holden will stop building cars in Australia in 2017, meaning the company will join Ford and Mitsubishi in pulling out of manufacturing in a country that has the combined difficulties of a strong currency and a small local market. Only Toyota is left committed to manufacturing in Australia. For now.
Holden’s failure to sell enough cars in its home market is its ultimate downfall. In 2002, Holden sold 80,000 Commodores (its staple large saloon, built locally). Last year it sold just 30,000. With a break-even figure of 40,000, this has been a long time coming.
When Autocar visited Holden and Holden Special Vehicles (which we’ll come to in a moment) in July, the stock answer to questions about its future was an honest “we don’t know”. Today we do, and the announcement, though a shock and disappointment to many, will be a surprise to no-one.
That Holden has carried on for this long is because it has much else to offer: not least the fact that it employs 3500 people at its plants in Victoria and Adelaide. It also has a fine test track...
General Motors announces it will stop making vehicles in Australia and New Zealand by end of 2017
General Motors will stop making vehicles in Australia and New Zealand by late 2017. The firm will instead become an importer supporting a network of dealerships, a parts distribution centre and a design studio.
It is not yet known what the announcement means for the future of the marque, although it is likely that future Holden vehicles will be based on re-badged GM products.
The move ends almost 70 years of Holden vehicle manufacturing and over 85 years of General Motors vehicle production in Australia.
GM currently operates two vehicle production plants in Australia, producing vehicles for the Holden brand. The company confirmed around 2900 jobs will be lost as a result of the plants closing.
Holden boss Mike Devereux said: "This has been a difficult decision given Holden’s long and proud history of building vehicles in Australia."
General Motors cites the strength of the Australian dollar as one of the main reasons for its decision. At its peak, producing a vehicle in Australia was 65 per cent more expensive than a decade earlier.
GM's departure from manufacturing in Australia now leaves Toyota as the sole car maker in the country. However, media reports suggest Toyota officials are reviewing the firm's future in Australia. A Toyota spokesman told Autocar: "We are saddened to learn of GM Holden's decision. We will now work with our suppliers, key stake holders and the government to consider our next steps.
"We have no plans at this moment [to end production in Australia]."
Outgoing CEO Dan Akerson said: "The decision to end manufacturing in Australia reflects the perfect storm of negative influences the automotive industry faces in the country, including the sustained...
New Octavia estate offers 4x4 capability and more rugged styling; Skoda is also working on new luxury version
The Skoda Octavia Scout will be launched in Europe by next August.
The Scout, an off-road version of the Octavia SW, features unpainted wheelarch extensions and new front and rear bumpers with a more rugged look. The car is also raised by 20mm over the standard car. The Octavia Scout will be offered in both four-wheel and front-wheel-drive formats.
While engines have yet to be confirmed, they're expected to be chosen from the existing Octavia range.
Skoda is also working on a new luxury version of the Octavia. The new model will be badged Laurin & Klement, a moniker Skoda has traditionally given to its high-specification flagship models.
The special edition will have bespoke leather seats with wood and chrome trim inside the cabin, alongside a newly designed dashboard cluster containing redesigned dials. On the outside, the Octavia Laurin & Klement will get xenon headlights, LED rear lamps, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Skoda launched a Laurin & Klement version of the Yeti in January this year.
Engineering is a dying art at school, and that means a new generation of people who won't be able to fix their cars
Did a useful bit of 'Bodgerneering' at the weekend. It involved a bit of drilling, some bending in a vice and I got along okay by just using some bits and bobs that I found lying around in the garage. So all it took to keep my lawnmower alive for another season was some bolts and an old gate hinge.
I’ve been told for the last 15 years that my mower should be dead by now. One major reason why it is still alive, though, is the Honda engine that I plumbed in some time ago. All the other parts can come and go; or they just need to be lashed up and fixed as and when.
Although it was cold on the garage floor, I’ve never been happier searching through my big tub of random nuts and bolts. I know I moaned a few weeks ago about having an old car and how rubbish they are, but it's been fun messing around with some old machinery. I’ve done a few jobs, unbolted a few things, drilled some holes and generally mucked about and it’s been wonderful.
So thinking about the parlous state of our education system, where we seem to be 25th in various world league tables, I don’t remember seeing in any of the latter where it was we stood in terms of wood or metalwork.
Such subjects are important, because they're about making stuff; but apart from a bit of design and technology, which seems to mean just about anything these days, there are precious few hands-on subjects that are currently studied at school.
Chevrolet has failed to keep up with the times, and that's why it's now stuck behind its Korean competitors
Ironically, Chevrolet’s latest slogan in the USA is “Find new roads”, which is exactly what its models sold in western European are going to have to do, now that the brand has been terminated here.
Since GM took over Daewoo and eventually renamed it Chevrolet, it has gone from being the leading Korean brand in the UK in the 1990s to a distant third place.
The biggest irony is that a GM-owned Daewoo should have been able to understand the European market so much better than its competitors. GM has been making and selling cars in Europe since the 1920s, 50 years before anyone in the West had even heard of Hyundai.
However, Chevrolet has been languishing for many years in this country, with sales stuck below 20,000 a year, while its Korean competitors forged ahead to over 70,000 cars a year each (and with realistic targets of 100,000 units within the next few years).
In product terms, it is not hard to see why: each current Kia or Hyundai is a quantum leap over its equivalent of a decade ago. In relative terms, Chevrolet has been going backwards since the original Matiz. Another problem unique to Chevrolet turned out to be twinned showrooms with Vauxhall.
As one insider put it, “People wandered in to look at a value Chevrolet and often saw a great offer on a Vauxhall. It was Vauxhall that got the order”.
New Volvo concept car to be seen for the first time in January; points toward next XC90 styling
This is the Volvo Concept XC, which will be seen for the first time at the Detroit motor show in January.
These preview photos show the new Concept XC Coupé for the first time. Volvo says the concept features design elements that will be seen on the new XC90, due towards the end of next year. The firm says that as XC-badged vehicles form the backbone of its range, the Concept XC includes plenty of hints towards the future design direction of those models.
The Concept XC is the second of three planned design studies from Volvo, each created under new design boss Thomas Ingenlath. The first design study, the Volvo Concept Coupé, was seen at the Frankfurt motor show. That model showcased Volvo's new Scalable Platform Architecture, which will be used to underpin the majority of the firm's future models.
Volvo says the Concept XC showcases its integration of safety technology, as well as traditional Scandanavian design elements.
Read more Detroit motor show news.
McLaren P13 to rival Porsche 911; 444bhp V8 power; Due in 2015 priced at around £120k
The first official details of the McLaren P13, the company's Porsche 911 rival, have been revealed ahead of the model going on sale in early 2015.
The model will have a twin-turbo 3.8-litre engine with 444bhp. It will sell for around £120,000 and will have styling directly influenced by the larger P1 hypercar.
This image shows how the P1 is likely to influence the P13 and is based on a sketch of a future McLaren coupé by the company’s design chief, Frank Stephenson.
The P13, which is currently a codename rather than the car’s actual name, will almost treble McLaren’s volumes to about 4000 units per year from 2015. With the first 40 examples of the P1 hypercar due to be delivered by the end of the year, McLaren Automotive is expected to break even this year.
“We expect to deliver 1400 cars this year, the same amount as in 2012,” new McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt told Dutch publication De Telegraaf Autovisie, with whom Autocar worked on this story. “The development costs of the P13 have already been deducted and the production start of the P1 will make a positive contribution to the financial results.
“Make no mistake, though. McLaren has been around for 50 years. [McLaren] Automotive has only been here for three. Our goal is to be in a class-leading position — a position that we’ll have to conquer.”
At the heart of the new P13 will be McLaren’s carbonfibre MonoCell chassis, seen on the 12C and adapted into the MonoCage in the P1. The technology is able to be offered at a lower price point than the 12C...
VXR8 GTS super-saloon can outrun a BMW M5, Mercedes E63 AMG and Jaguar XFR-S
Vauxhall’s new VXR8 GTS will make its public debut at the Autosport International show in January.
The 576bhp super-saloon has the power to outpunch the BMW M5, Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG and Jaguar XFR-S.
A supercharged 6.2-litre V8 engine powers the new VXR8 GTS. Its engine is the General Motors LSA unit that’s featured in the most recent Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and its power output is 24bhp higher than the M5’s, 27bhp more than the E63 AMG’s and 34bhp more than the XFR-S’s when those cars are in their standard specifications.
At £54,999, the VXR8 GTS also significantly undercuts those cars. Vauxhall claims that it is the least expensive way to buy a new car with more than 500bhp in the UK.
The VXR8 GTS is based on sister company Holden Special Vehicles’ (HSV) new GEN-F GTS, which is billed as the most powerful production car ever to have emerged from Australia. It produces 150bhp more than the new car’s LS3-engined predecessor. Torque is also up by 140lb ft to 545lb ft.
These increases are mainly down to the addition of the supercharger, but a whole host of other engine upgrades feature, including an upgraded exhaust system and improved cooling and air intake systems.
The engine sends its power to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic is optional.
The new VXR8 GTS can sprint to 60mph in 4.2 seconds, and has a limited top speed of 155mph. That makes it significantly faster than the outgoing GTS, which managed the same sprint in 4.9 seconds.
Torque vectoring and...
BMW’s new super-saloon and coupé get 425bhp, 405lb ft from twin-turbo straight six; 0-62mph in 4.1sec in DCT form; On sale next May
The new BMW M3 and M4 saloons have been revealed in full.
The BMW M3 returns as a saloon only, and with turbocharged six-cylinder power for the very first time. The adoption of turbo power dispenses with 26 years of BMW M division tradition of using high-revving naturally aspirated engines for the M3.
Pictured here in production car guise for the first time, the new 425bhp four-door M3 saloon will be joined from the outset of sales in 2014 by the M4, a mechanically identical but stylistically sleeker two-door coupé previewed in lightly veiled concept car guise at the Pebble Beach concours in California in August.
The new M3 saloon and M4 coupé will be unveiled at the Detroit show next month and UK sales will start next May. The M3 will cost from £56,175 and the M4 from £56,635.
At the heart of BMW’s latest M3 and its more sporting M4 sibling is a brand-new twin-turbocharged, direct-injected in-line six-cylinder petrol engine. The 3.0-litre unit is based around BMW’s familiar ‘N55’ engine, with an 84.0mm bore and 89.6mm stroke. But such are the changes to the aluminium block, cylinder head, induction and exhaust systems and internal architecture that BMW describes it as being all new.
BMW’s M division is talking up the engine’s patented induction process, known under the title ‘M TwinPower Turbo’. It eschews the twin-scroll principle of BMW’s regular engines for a system that uses two low-inertia turbos running a maximum 1.3bar of boost and has an innovative water-to-air intercooler system mounted atop the engine.
Weight-saving features, such as a magnesium...
Dubai luxury car dealer puts new McLaren P1 on sale for €1,515,000
A McLaren P1 has gone on sale in Dubai for €1,515,000.
The car is on sale at luxury car dealer Al Ain Class Motors in Dubai. The price of the car, confirmed to Autocar by a spokesman, can be converted to £1.27 million. It is unusual for a top-end supercar to be sold on so quickly, as sales contracts typically prevent it.
The sale car is finished in yellow with carbon fibre trim, with a black interior, and has not been driven at all. The dealership confirmed it had bought the car direct from McLaren.
The car is the only McLaren P1 in the world currently on sale.
All 375 planned units of the P1 were sold out by November. Around 73 per cent of P1 customers have opted for some level of bespoke design, provided by the McLaren Special Operations division, which has pushed the average sale price of a P1 above £1 million. By comparison, the standard car costs £866,000.
McLaren's hypercar has a top speed of 217mph and can cover a standing quarter mile in 9.8 seconds. The car faces still competition from the likes of the Porsche 918 Spyder and LaFerrari. Earlier this week, McLaren confirmed the P1 had lapped the Nurburgring in less than seven minutes.
A McLaren spokesman was unavailable for comment.
Download the McLaren F1 digital edition.
Download the McLaren P1 digital edition.
Download the McLaren 12C digital edition.
General Motors announces Mary Barra will take over as CEO of the company from January
General Motors’ Mary Barra will become the automotive industry’s first female chief executive officer when she succeeds current GM boss Dan Akerson next month.
Current CEO Akerson, 65, has pulled forward his plans to retire after his wife was diagnosed with advanced stages of cancer, a GM statement confirmed.
His successor Barra, 51, is GM’s current product development chief, a role she has held for just under two years. She has 33 years of experience at GM, having started as an intern on the factory floor.
Steve Girsky, the man who had widely been expected to take over from Akerson should he solve GM’s problems in Europe, will instead leave the company in April after a short stint in an advisory role. He will remain on the GM board, however.
Akerson has held the top job at GM since September 2010, and he has overseen GM’s return to profit and exit from government ownership after the credit crunch forced the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US.
“I will leave with great satisfaction in what we have accomplished, great optimism over what is ahead and great pride that we are restoring General Motors as America’s standard bearer in the global auto industry,” said Akerson in a GM statement.
Barra added: “With an amazing portfolio of cars and trucks and the strongest financial performance in our recent history, this is an exciting time at today’s GM. I’m honored to lead the best team in the business and to keep our momentum at full speed.”
Barra’s product role will be filled by Mark Reuss, presently GM’s North America region chief. Alan Batey, Chevrolet’s sales...
Jaguar's upcoming SUV spotted testing in modified XF body; due on sale in 2016
These are the best pictures yet of the new Jaguar SUV, due in 2016.
The SUV will be Jaguar’s first, and was previewed by the C-X17 concept car from the Frankfurt motor show.
Under the adapted XF bodywork on this early engineering mule is Jaguar’s new architecture, whose title iQ[Al] stands for ‘intelligent aluminium architecture’. It underpinned the C-X17 and will first be used on a BMW 3-series-rivalling saloon due in 2015.
Jaguar bosses say the architecture is both modular and scalable and enables flexible, high-volume production that can produce competitive interior packaging and allows a great deal of design freedom.
As well as a saloon and an SUV, estate and coupé models are also set to be spun off the architecture, which can accommodate different wheelbase lengths, track widths and heights.
The production SUV is set to be smaller than the 4.72metre-long C-X17, something backed up by how big the XF body looks in proportion to the chassis.
Rear-wheel drive is set to be standard, with four-wheel drive optional. Four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines will be offered alongside more potent V6 petrol and diesels and possibly a supercharged V8 at the top of the range.
The new family of models will be built in a huge factory currently under construction at JLR’s Solihull plant, already its centre of excellence for aluminium manufacturing but previously exclusively used for Land Rovers.
Autocar pits the 503bhp supercharged Range Rover Sport against Tai Woffinden, the youngest ever speedway world champion
The Range Rover Sport is well-known as one of the most agile cars of its type. With Autocar road tester Matt Prior behind the wheel, however, even it's no match for the talents of speedway world champion Woffinden and his 60bhp speedway bike on the tight, shale covered confines of a speedway track.
The challenge is to find out if Woffinden can lap the Range Rover Sport his bike runs out of methanol - something that normally takes four or five laps at the Leicester track. The race is on - but with Woffinden on-song, the verdict's never in doubt.
New junior SUV will be the first Porsche to use four-cylinder engines since the 968 in 1995
The Porsche Macan SUV will be sold with four cylinder engines “in the foreseeable” future, according to company engineers. That will make the compact SUV the first Porsche model with a four-pot engine since the 968 model ended production in 1995.
The four-cylinder petrol and diesel options are expected to be offered from 2015. The entry-level petrol side is tipped to be a turbocharged 2.0-litre unit with 280bhp. Also set for introduction is a 2.0-litre turbodiesel in a price-leading Macan Diesel. Both models will compete with higher-spec versions of the somewhat smaller Range Rover Evoque.
Porsche says the overwhelming aim of the project was to provide the Macan with “sports car” responses, claiming ‘best in class brake performance and steering precision’ as well as “very responsive” acceleration and gear-shifting abilities in addition to a more car-like driving position.
The launch Macan models include the £43,300 Macan S (which gets a 3.0-litre V6 bi-turbo 335bhp engine ) and the £43,300 Macan Diesel S which gets a 254bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine good for 46.3mpg and 0-62mph in 6.3sec.The £59,300 Macan Turbo range-topping model has a 394bhp 3.6-litre V6 twin turbo and a 0-62mph time of 4.8sec.
The new Macan is based on the same basic steel structure as the Audi Q5 but, according to Porsche’s engineers, some “two thirds” of components have been replaced or modified. While the floor and bulkhead are the same as the Audi, the body’s upper structure and door structures are new. Porsche has also lowered the seating position and modified the position of the steering wheel, to...
All-new concept car previewed ahead of Geneva motor show launch; will use hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain
The Hyundai Intrado concept has been previewed at a media event at the firm's European headquarters in Frankfurt.
The Korean manufacturer has released a single image of the rear of the new concept, which will be shown for the first time at the Geneva motor show in March next year. It appears to be a highly stylised compact SUV, with similar proportions but looking more low-slung than the Nissan Juke.
Peter Schreyer, president of the Hyundai-Kia Motor Group and the man responsible for the group’s design direction, said: “I don’t want to put it in a box and say ‘this is an SUV’ immediately. It is more lifestyle than utility, let’s put it that way.
"It is not a big car. It is quite an interesting combination of design and technology and that’s what I like about it.
The Intrado will use an evolved form of Hyundai's hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain, which will be smaller and lighter than the unit which powers the ix35 Fuel Cell. The company will use the car to explore lightweight engineering and high-tech materials. It is not based on the underpinnings of any of Hyundai's current model line-up.
The car is built around a lightweight structure, using construction processes that Hyundai says "have the potential to change the way cars are constructed in the future." The Intrado name comes from the underside of an aircraft's wing, and the shape which allows the wing to produce lift.
Hyundai's European design team has styled the car, with Schreyer, who introduced the car on stage in Frankfurt this morning, overseeing the project.
Schreyer took on his role as head...
Hyundai N to become Korean firm's performance sub-brand and link sporty road cars with the firm's World Rally Championship assault
Hyundai will launch a series of high-performance road cars under a new sub-brand, called N.
The name has been chosen in reference to the firm's technical centre in Namyang, Korea. The N brand will be based in Alzenau, near Frankfurt, which also acts as the base for Hyundai Motorsport, the company's World Rally Championship team.
The first car to bear the branding will be the 2014 World Rally Car, which is based on the i20 and will start competing in the Monte Carlo Rally next month.
A range of new performance cars will follow the rally car. Although Hyundai won't be drawn on which of its existing models will spawn N models, it seems logical that the i20 hatchback will receive a performance upgrade to link-in with the rally campaign. Hyundai N is also likely to feature everything from warm hatches to extreme variants.
Michel Nandan, Hyundai Motorsport team principal said: "We will communicate more about N next year. The idea is to use the connection between the research and development centre in Namyang, Korea, and the motorsport division in Alzenau, Germany, to put all the engineering capability into special car models".
Speaking at the launch of the WRC team in Frankfurt, Hyundai Motorsport president Gyoo-Heon Choi said: "This is the start of a new chapter in Hyundai's history, one that we expect to have a positive impact on our brand around the globe."
The new Hyundai N brand is part of the firm's bid to establish more of an emotional link with its customers. It is also part of a new strategy to offer more dynamically focused...
Next-generation Audi race car starts testing ahead of 2014 race season
The new Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 race car has started testing in the US.
The car is expected to compete for Audi in the World Endurance Championship in 2014, which includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Audi says the car is "fundamentally new", and that it conforms to new technical regulations for the 2014 race season
Audi motorsport boss Dr Wolfgang Ullrich said: "We’ve reached a crucial stage in this project."
"After building the first prototype, testing on various race tracks is now taking centre-stage. The tests are mainly focused on achieving high mileages, coordinating the highly complex hybrid drive systems and working out an efficiency-optimised total package that has never before been as complex as this one."
Testing is now underway at the Sebring raceway.
As the F1 circus wraps up for another season, there's already 19 races to look forward to in 2014
The human body is a strange thing. At the end of the F1 season, one has a tendency to relax and take one’s foot off the gas.
The problem with doing this is that the body says: “Whoa-ah!” and relaxes, and instantly one catches a cold and all of the sleep patterns go haywire. It happens every year as the body readjusts to living in the real world, as opposed to jumping on a plane to here or there.
It is the worst time of the year to do deals because no-one is at their sharpest. Still, it is good to be home and beginning to think about doing healthy things.
Of course, Christmas is around the corner so slimming down is not an option until January, but it is nice to have the time to visit the local market and see friends who have not been spotted since the summer break.
The new F1 calendar has now appeared, though. I always find it amazing that it takes F1 so long to put together a final calendar when one looks at what some other sports do, and it is good to see that it is only 19 races again. The idea of 20 or more sends shivers down the spine.
The events that had been listed in New Jersey, Korea and Mexico are not happening in 2014, while the unloved Indian GP is replaced by Russia, although the subcontinent hopes to get back on the calendar in 2015. Red Bull-funded Austria comes in to replace Korea. It is not a...
Design boss says the shape of Jaguar’s new BMW 3-series rival has been signed off; due to be revealed next autumn
The design of Jaguar’s new small saloon has been signed off ahead of its expected reveal towards the end of next year.
Jaguar design director Ian Callum told Autocar that he had “finished design work” on the as-yet-unnamed model. He revealed that it would “follow the current design trends of Jaguar” rather than ushering in a change of direction for the firm.
The saloon, codenamed X760, is tipped to be revealed as a thinly veiled concept car at the Paris motor show next October before being displayed in final production form at the Geneva show in March 2015, with sales starting soon after.
Underpinning the saloon is Jaguar’s new rear-drive all-aluminium architecture called iQ[Al], which stands for ‘intelligent aluminium architecture’. The structure was first used beneath Jaguar’s C-X17 SUV concept, a model with styling that has directly evolved from the F-type’s and which will influence Jaguar’s new saloon rival for the BMW 3-series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-class.
Styling features of the new four-door saloon are expected to include a more powerful interpretation of the three-dimensional front end and trapezoidal grille design introduced on the F-type, a clamshell bonnet with twin power bulges, muscular haunches and a sporty yet graceful profile.
Callum confirmed that the saloon would follow the look established by the F-type and C-X17, to give the Jaguar range greater family resemblance.
“This is not a time to start changing direction,” said Callum about the sub-XF model, which will be built in a new facility under construction at Jaguar Land Rover’s...
Lexus teases new F model concept to be shown at the Detroit motor show in January; likely to be based on RC coupé
A new Lexus F model has been previewed ahead of its debut at the Detroit motor show in January.
In a statement, Lexus says the model has been "engineered from scratch" and "promises to deliver performance synonymous with Lexus' heritage of F-designated performacne vehicles."
Although Lexus says the model is "not neccessarily" related to the RC coupé shown in Tokyo earlier this year, it has been suggested this new concept will be an F-badged version of the car.
The RC coupé was shown at the Tokyo motor show in two forms, with the RC300h hybrid, which mates an electric motor with a 2.5-litre engine, taking centre stage. The RC350, powered by a 3.5-litre V6 engine, was also shown.
At the time, Lexus told Autocar that a more performance-orientated, LFA-like version of the concept would be seen in the new year. Such a model would be destined to take on the new BMW M4, which arrives at around the same time.
Read more Detroit motor show news.
New Ford Mustang revealed; Lexus GS300h driven; Colin Goodwin builds a plane; Specialized Venge bike tested; Range Rover Sport vs speedway champion; Richard Bremner's garage revealed
This week's action-packed Autocar magazine is 196 pages big, and jam-packed with enough news, drives, features and opinions to see even the most voracious reader through to the post-Christmas period.
As ever, we present the conventional, inspirational and the offbeat. In the former category, news highlights include full details and exclusive pictures of the new Ford Mustang, exclusive insight in to the upcoming Audi Q1 and the inside line on the ultimate fuel-efficient supermini.
The Ford EcoSport leads our first drive section, while the Lexus GS300h, Volkswagen e-Up, Mazda EREV all underline how swiftly the car industry is exploring alternative power sources.
Inspiration comes from our highlights of 2013 package, in which we name our top 20 cars of the year, taking in everything from the Ford B-Max through to the Ferrari F12, and explain why they enjoy their exulted status, while Steve Cropley runs through his heroes of the year, our team of photographers reveal their favourite shots and Steve Sutcliffe reviews his favourite videos.
James Ruppert also provides eight pages of scientific insight into how you should choose the ideal used car, offering examples of what you can get for your money, while our traditional end-of-year new car awards are dished out to our long-term-test fleet favourites.
We also take an in-depth look at the kit-car scene, driving some of the best cars on sale today and find out if they remain the performance bargains of yesteryear. It's an insightful look into an area of motoring not normally...
Korando compact SUV gets significant upgrades inside and out for the MY2014
The SsangYong Korando has been updated for 2014.
The updated compact SUV is priced from £14,995. Orders are already open and the car will be seen in dealerships before the end of the year.
Ssangyong says it has given the Korando a makeover inside and out. The car features a new black-mesh radiator grille, new headlight designs featuring LED DRLs and a lower, wider air intake at the front. At the rear there are smaller changes, with a new rear light cluster design. New designs also accompany the car's 16- and 17-inch wheel selections, while new colours are also available.
Inside, the Korando gets an altered interior with an updated dashboard that features soft-touch furnishings with wooden trim, while there are also larger cup holders, a mobile phone tray and a sunglasses holder.
The current car's engines and transmissions are carried over with minor changes. That means a 2.0-litre diesel unit with 147bhp forms the entry-level option, while the same engine with 173bhp sits at the top of the range. The company says it has reduced noise, vibrations and harshness within the Korando, as much as 9.3 per cent in places.
Prices for the new Korando start at £14,995, rising to £21,495 for a top-spec model.
Ford is considering "all options" for powertrains with the new Mustang; could include diesel, hybrid and electric drive
The new 2015 Ford Mustang could be offered with an electric powertrain, according to reports.
Ford officials are reportedly considering offering the car with a range of diesel, hybrid and even fully electric powertrain options alongside the confirmed V6, V8 and 2.3-litre EcoBoost petrol engines.
Speaking to GoAuto at the new Mustang's reveal event in Australia, Ford powertrain boss Bob Fascetti said: "Given where we need to go with fuel consumption, we are looking at all our options.
"Diesel is one of those options, along with hybrids and electric."
Other ideas mooted to improve the new Mustang's fuel consumption include a new nine- or ten-speed automatic transmission, which would replace the current six-speed gearbox that will be offered with the new car.
Fascetti said there is plenty of room for powertrain customisation with the new Mustang, because of its rear-wheel drive layout: "The one beauty with this car from my point of view is that it is rear-wheel drive, and this provides so many degrees of freedom as to what we can offer, because the engines are so much narrower relative to the rest of the car when they go north-south."
Bringing an old car to life is a labour of love, but how far should you go in the search for happiness?
I have colleagues who don’t like old cars. (Not Autocar colleagues, who will find love for the basketest of cases.) But there are car people who don’t have the patience for them.
They think that old cars are slow and noisy, that they are unlikely to work at all and that, if they do, the simple act of driving them will render them unlikely to ever work again.
Modern cars, they say, are safer, faster, cleaner, more reliable, more comfortable, more efficient, better built and quieter. And they’re right. New cars are tremendous. Some of them are brilliant. Many of my favourite cars are new.
But when we talk to car designers and engineers, and they reference cars from their companies’ past, frequently
they try to rekindle something drivers felt was possessed by cars decades ago.
You could call it soul, or personality. Either is absurd, because cars are no more capable of having a personality than a lettuce. But there is something alluring about the process of bringing an old machine to life.
A rather lovely classic car website called Petrolicious recently filmed a Ferrari 250 GT Lusso. Its owner spoke of how he has to turn on the ignition, pull a toggle in the cabin and wait for the fuel pump’s ticking to subside before he can fire the engine. He described it, very aptly, as “a ritual”.
It isn’t just million-quid sports cars that need rituals. My knackered kart’s Honda engine’s carburettor needs priming, the piston wants pulling to the right point in the combustion cycle, and the throttle must be held open just-so...
Toyota confirms performance concept car for Detroit, could point to next-generation Supra
A replacement for the Toyota Supra could be shown in concept car form at the Detroit motor show in January.
Toyota has confirmed to Autocar that a new performance-based concept will be seen in Detroit, but declined to comment on whether that concept would point towards a new Supra.
The new concept will be designed by Toyota's Calty studio, which has contributed to a number of Lexus, Scion and Toyota designs in the past but has not worked on a Supra project before.
However, a story posted on Autoblog suggests the concept will indeed be Supra-based, and that high-level Toyota officials plan to "shock the world" with a new Supra concept. A production version is likely to follow.
This won't be the first time a Supra replacement has been previewed. In 2007 the manufacturer showed its FT-HS concept at the Detroit motor show. That concept was also designed by Calty, and reportedly featured a 395bhp hybrid powertrain, which allowed the FT-HS to reach 60mph in around four seconds.
Read more Detroit motor show news.
The latest version of the Gran Turismo racing simulator offers an immersive experience with plenty of driver choice
Gran Turismo 6 is a true giant of video games.
This latest instalment adds to the fun of what's gone before, offering more cars and more tracks. Some of Autocar’s favourite events like the Goodwood Festival of Speed are featured, too.
This latest instalment feels instantly familiar, the same career structure working through different race classes, cups and racing licences. You start off in a bright orange Honda Fit RS (Honda Jazz). It drives just as you’d expect: it feels slow in this virtual world, with plenty of understeer and a limited top speed.
The racing simulation in GT6 is way ahead of its previous iterations. Your computer-controlled opponents will actually try and race, whereas previously they would robotically stick to the racing line. Now you have opponents nipping at your heels and bumping you around the track. There is an entertaining sense of urgency to the racing, too.
But most enthrallingly, Gran Turismo 6 lets you take your pick of over 100 track layouts and 1200 cars. If you fancy racing your chosen steed around Spa-Francorchamps, your concentration levels had better be razor sharp. The handling and gear changes totally immerse you in the ultra-realistic digital rendition of the circuit. Tackle the ‘Ring in the Toyota GT86 and you're in for a sublime handling masterclass.
Choose to thrash around Nürburgring in a Shelby Mustang, however, and the experience becomes a hair-raising smoke-fest. The difference between classes of car on each track means you seriously have to think about what vehicle you choose for each outing.
At the end of it all,...
Design boss Ian Callum confirms work is proceeding on next-generation Jaguar models
The next-generation Jaguar XF and XJ saloons are already under development, the brand's design boss has revealed.
Design director Ian Callum says work on the next-generation XF and XJ saloons is well under way, telling Autocar: “I’m designing the next XF and thinking about the next XJ".
Test mules for the new XF are now a common sight. Jaguar’s new rival for the BMW 5-series is likely to arrive in 2016, before the new XJ. Expect an evolved look of today’s car, with some of the family traits of the F-type and C-X17 concept making it on to the model.
Callum believes that the current XF, introduced in 2008 and heavily facelifted in 2011, has aged very well. “I’m a huge fan of the XF, and I believe it has stood the test of time. The sales figures are increasing all the time, too.”
The next-generation XJ is further off, with the current car yet to undergo a facelift. However, that will happen next year, when the luxury saloon is given a light nip and tuck. Test mules have shown minor detail changes for the front and rear ends, but there’s no word on any dynamic or specification changes.
JLR will start testing its new four-cylinder engine range from spring next year, to be used in almost every model
Jaguar's all-new four-cylinder engine range will begin trials in 2014, according to the firm's engineering boss.
Engineering director Wolfgang Ziebart has told confirmed the first pre-production models using the all-new engine range will come down the production line at the new i54 Midlands factory next spring.
Speaking to industry paper Automotive News Europe, Ziebart said the first production engine will be a four-cylinder diesel unit and is scheduled to be manufactured at the end of next year.
It’s expected that diesel engines are destined for the first production versions of the baby Jaguar saloon, which is expected to arrive in showrooms in late spring 2015. The first petrol-powered version of the new engine is expected to arrive later in 2015.
Ziebart said the engines should set new benchmarks in terms of “efficiency, weight and power per litre”.
The new four-cylinder engine family uses as many common components and construction techniques as possible and will eventually find its way into nearly all JLR models, but not the flagship Range Rover. It’s thought that a high-power diesel version will eventually be fitted to the Range Rover Sport.
Current-generation XK to be the last model to use oval grille hallmark, says design boss
The current Jaguar XK will be the last model to feature the firm’s famed oval grille, design director Ian Callum has revealed.
All future Jaguars will instead feature a trapezoidal-shaped grille that’s more forceful and upright, as seen most recently in different interpretations on the F-type and C-X17.
Callum also said the firm would have to look at the role of the XK in its future line-up, following the arrival of the F-type. “A direction change is a valid question,” he said. “The XK will have a different job to do.”
It has previously been suggested that the XK would push upmarket into a larger and more luxurious GT car in its next generation, leaving the F-type to fill the role of Jaguar's full-blooded sports model.
Callum has previously told media that he did look at giving the F-type an oval grille, but decided against it has he wanted the model to represent change within the brand. He said the F-type's grille was inspired by the original Jaguar XJ.
Lexus engineer hints at new top-level model to replace the LFA supercar, based on Detroit motor show concept
A replacement for the Lexus LFA supercar, based on the dramatic LF-LC concept from the 2012 Detroit motor show, could enter production.
Haruhiko Tanahashi, the engineer who masterminded the LFA, has hinted that
a new Lexus halo model could already be in development.
“I have the expectation that car will be launched,” Tanahashi told Autocar. “I personally hope the LF-LC will be built. I think most of Lexus’s concept cars have been turned into production cars.”
Tanahashi said a new range-topper sitting above the upcoming RC coupé but at a lower price point than the now-defunct LFA made sense.
Lexus’s international boss, Mark Templin, also confirmed that a halo sports car would reappear, although a slew of more mainstream F-badged models will come sooner.
“We want a whole level of real F products with a car like the LFA being at the top of it,” Templin confirmed. “It doesn’t mean we have something on the drawing board.”
The roll-out of new F models is expected to begin with a 5.0-litre V8 RC F at the Detroit motor show next month. A GS F has also been spied testing, while a second-generation
IS F has been mooted.
Templin said the F brand would establish a different character from Mercedes-AMG and the like, with “performance hybrids” potentially playing a role.
McLaren's Special Operations division reveals bespoke 12C concept car
The McLaren 12C MSO concept car has been revealed.
Posted on the company's Facebook page, the car has been created to showcase the bespoke specification services available to McLaren customers from the Special Operations division.
The concept features a revised bonnet, new front wing louvres, new rear wing vents and a uniquely shaped airbrake at the rear. To save weight, the additions are all created from carbonfibre, with titanium wheel bolts, oil and water filler caps shedding more weight from the 12C. New lightweight wheel designs complete the exterior.
McLaren hasn't said how much weight has been saved, but it's expected to be a mild reduction to the standard car's 1434kg kerb weight.
Inside, the company has added extra trim and a new instrument cluster made from carbonfibre.
McLaren hasn't said whether the car will be available to order, or whether the concept will become a production option in the future.
Alcraft Motor Company sets its sights on enhancing the "British design values" of UK models
A new tuning company has launched, with the aim of enhancing vehicles using "British" design values.
Alcraft Motor Company says it will intiially focus on offering tuned vehicles from manufacturers such as Land Rover, Jaguar and Aston Martin.
The firm has also taken input from students at the Royal College of Art to help shape its design direction. The first vehicle to be tuned by the company, with help from the RCA students, is a Range Rover. The company says it has "made it more elegant by simplifying the lines and have given it the timelessness associated with the best British design."
While Alcraft doesn't go into detail about what changes it has made to the Range Rover, design consultant Matthew Humphries - formally of Morgan - says the car has a more "limousine-like presence while ensuring a degree of classic British understatement".
Company boss David Alcraft said: "Although some customers want their cars to make loud personal statements, we believe there's a gap in the market for personalising products in a way which explicitly respects their brands' heritage and British style."
The company is now looking at other models which it will offer tuning sets for, and says it is taking enquiries for Range Rover Sport, Evoque, Land Rover Discovery and Jaguar XF Sportbrake upgrade packages.
As well as Humphries and the RCA, Alcraft also has design input from former Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders CEO Christopher Macgowan OBE.
Newest addition to Fiesta lineup offers decent practicality and driving dynamics, but faux off-road looks add weight and limit performance
Ford admits it is very late into the baby SUV game, but what it has to offer - at last - starts with a very good pedigree.The Indian-built EcoSport, which starts at £14,995, is essentially the excellent Fiesta supermini expressed as a soft-roader, with all the dynamic sophistication that implies. The range is very simple. Every car is a relatively well-equipped Titanium model, and there are three engines - the now-familiar 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol, a 1.5-litre turbodiesel with 90bhp, and a 110bhp 1.5-litre petrol four.The normally aspirated petrol unit is the entry model; the most expensive at present is the £16,495 diesel, though slightly better equipped Titanium X models will be available next year, adding around £1000 to each model and receiving leather trim and 17-inch alloys (the standard wheels are 16s). In all guises, this an especially soft-roader, since there is no 4x4 version available, even though you can get one in non-European markets. Demand is low, Ford says.In the manner of all baby SUVs, the EcoSport is short and high, with a bluff front end and very short overhangs. Under such circumstances it can hardly be sleek, and the looks are further compromised - to some tastes - by a bulky, covered spare wheel attached to the outside of the large and convenient side-opening rear door.Ford engineers reckon some markets love it for the ruggedness it implies; others (like the UK) think it's a bit crude.When you get into the car, through the wide doors, the relationship to the Fiesta is obvious from the dash design and the looming switch set about the centre console....
Hot Leon ST Cupra spotted testing; expected to get 265bhp, a lowered ride height and large twin exhausts
The new Seat Leon ST Cupra has been spotted testing for the first time.
While pictures continue to surface of the regular hatchback Leon Cupra testing, and even the first Cupra R models spotted, it makes sense for Seat to be exploring performance options for its three-strong Leon model lineup.
Our spy photographer noted that this model was fitted with red Brembo brakes, as well as having larger Cupra exhausts fitted at the rear. The suspension on this test mule appears to have been lowered, too.
The Leon ST Cupra is due to go on sale in 2014 alongside the Cupra hatchback. It's expected to also use the same front-wheel-drive layout as the hatch, and will also borrow its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine producing around 265bhp.
It is unknown whether Seat will produce a Cupra R version of the ST. If such a model is built, it's likely to have around 300bhp and come with options such as launch control, a new bodykit and even lower suspension.
McLaren's new hypercar reportedly sets a blistering pace at the Nürburgring, at an average speed of more than 111mph
The McLaren P1 has acheived its target of a sub-seven-minute lap around the Nürburgring, according to its makers.
The manufacturer has confirmed the hypercar completed its 12.9-mile lap at an average speed of more than 111mph. Theoretically, an exact 111mph average speed over 12.9 miles would take about 6min 59.17sec.
However, McLaren hasn't revealed the exact time of the run. The Porsche 918 Spyder set a 6min 57sec lap time in September, which was verified on video.
McLaren has firmly stated in the past that its target time was only sub seven minutes, with the P1 a regular visitor to the Nürburgring track throughout 2013
McLaren's chief test driver, Chris Goodwin, drove the lap and said: "The track is like the rollercoaster from hell. However, the car feels balanced and poised throughout, and inspires you to push on with the levels of grip and all-round ability.
"With a car this fast, stability is just as important as ultimate grip, and some of the bumpiest sections of the track are also the fastest."
The firm has released a short film about its lap attempt.
Buy Autocar's special book commemorating the McLaren P1.
Chief designer for Audi, Wolfgang Egger, will leave the company to work for VW-owned Italdesign Giugiaro, according to industry media reports
Audi design boss Wolfgang Egger could be about to leave the company to work at Italdesign Giugiaro, according to media reports.
German industry magazine Automobilwoche is reporting that Egger will leave Audi to work for the Turin-based design house, which is a subsiduary of the VW Group.
Egger, who has been head of design for the Audi and Lamborghini brands since 2007, will likely be succeeded by Marc Lichte, whose design credits include the current Mk7 Volkswagen Golf. Egger has previously held positions with Alfa Romeo and Lancia.
The move follows the announcement that another Audi designer, Achim Badstübner, will leave the brand to join Mercedes-Benz in the new year.
Arumn Audi spokesman told Autocar: "We do not comment on speculation or conjecture about individuals."
Italdesign Giugiaro was bought by the VW Group in 2010, with its recent creations including the Lamborghini Gallardo-based Parcour 4x4.
In truth, the answer is neither – the best kit cars are just very good cars nowadays, even if they are no longer cheap
About 600 years ago, at roughly the same time that they were figuring out how to keep The Ark afloat, I built a kit car with my dad.
It was called a Sylva Leader, and it was based mostly around the underpinnings of a Vauxhall Chevette.
The chassis was bespoke, to which various bits of rubbed-down and Hammerited Chevette running gear were then attached. In the nose sat a 2.0-litre Fiat twincam engine that once provided the not inconsiderable source of thrust for a Fiat 125 TC. In the flesh the car looked a bit like a Caterham Seven with enclosed wheels and an unusually low nose.
All in, it weighed less than 500kg, so as you can imagine it really did go like stink when you put your foot down. It had about 140bhp thanks to a pair of juicy carburettors, and for a 19 year old at the time it was probably just a little bit too much.
Anyway, I never did have the accident that everyone else was so convinced that I would eventually have in it. And ever since I’ve had a soft spot for kit cars of pretty much every kind. Which is why our recent day out with the cream of the UK’s booming kit car industry (feature in the magazine next week, plus videos online) was such a special event for me.
But one thing I realised fairly soon during the day is that the kit car industry...
Henry Ford's great grandson explains his love for the new Mustang, and confirms why he thinks the car will be a success in Europe
Henry Ford's great grandson, Bill, who today is executive chairman of the family firm, is his family's principal Mustang-lover.
He has a collection of "less than 20" of them, and learned to drive in one. Speaking exclusively to Autocar at the new Ford Mustang's European debut, he talked about his love for the car, its significance in our market, and his expectations for Ford's future here.
Were you involved in the new Mustang's creation?
You bet I was. But I had to hold back to a degree so as not to interrupt the creative process of our designers. I saw about five proposals, some a little too retro and some that pushed the envelope a little too far. But in the end I think we did a good job.
What do like most about the car?
I'm happiest about its very nice interior. In the past we've done great sounds and great shapes, but the interior has been a weakness. The other big things that we've given the car are independent rear suspension, and we've done a lot of the work on the front end and the brakes.
Do you have memories of the original car's launch in 1964?
Sure I do. I was seven at the time, and my dad was forever bringing home cool stuff, but I remember this new sports car in particular. I spent a lot of time crawling through the car, and of course I wanted him to get one. I can remember sketching it and taking the...
High-riding three door hints at upcoming Q1, which will enter production in 2016
Audi has released a series of official design sketches showing a new compact crossover concept that is planned to make its world premiere at the Detroit motor show in early January.
Billed as a design study, the new crossover is said to provide hints to the appearance of the next generation of Audi Q models, including a new Q1-badged offering confirmed for production in 2016 by the German car maker’s chairman, Rupert Stadler, earlier this week.
Audi describes its high-riding crossover as possessing a traditional shooting brake-like body with two long doors and an angled estate-style tailgate.
In keeping with a design lineage that can be traced all the way back to the original TT concept car, it also sports a high waistline, shallow glasshouse and prominently flared wheel houses that accommodate the concept car’s 19-inch wheels.
Further design elements include a new interpretation of the German car maker’s signature single frame grille, into which the word “quattro” appears as a nod to the new concept’s four-wheel drive system. The crossover ’s heavily tapered front end also houses distinctive trapezoidal-shaped headlamps featuring what the initial design sketches allude to as being LED graphics.
A defined shoulder, or “Tornado line” as Audi refers to it, dominates the flanks, running from the headlamp all the way through to the tail lamp. Cladding within the wheelhouses and along the sill hint at the new Audi’s ability to head off-road, in keeping with official information that suggests it possesses “high ground clearance”, is a “car for all roads and tracks” and is suitable both for “everyday driving and sporty recreational use”.
A long wheelbase...
If you’re going to take inspiration from a race car, you may as well borrow from the Lola T70 – the world’s fastest race car in 1966. But can the GD T70 Spyder beat a McLaren 12C?
Built by Lola, raced in the Can-Am championship by John Surtees, the Lola T70 is one of the most beautiful race cars ever made. So it was a good point to start when Gardner Douglas began development of its T70 Spyder.
It weighs just 900kg, but develops up to 700bhp from a range of GM V8 engines. But can it outhandle one of the world’s most able series production supercars, the McLaren MP4-12C? Steve Sutcliffe takes to the track to find out.
Not all AC Cobra replicas are created equal. Autocar's Steve Sutcliffe pitches a 550bhp XCS Fusion against a Jaguar XKR-S to find out just how potent they can be
Just because a car is a replica doesn't mean it has to be slow and archaic. The XCS Fusion Cobra has been designed by the team behind the Dax Rush, and features a tubular spaceframe chassis, switchable electrically assisted steering and a supercharged Chevrolet V8 that can churn out up to 639bhp.
It also gets the patented anti-roll system from the aforementioned Caterham Seven clone. The Cobra only weighs 1080kg too, resulting in a Bugatti Veyron-beating 590bhp per tonne.
It's quick, certainly, but can it beat the Jaguar XKR-S in a drag race?
As the 2015 Ford Mustang was announced, senior Ford management told their story of the car's design and development - and why it's such an important model for the firm.
As the 2015 Ford Mustang was announced, senior Ford management told their story of the car's design and development - and why it's such an important model for the firm.
Ford Motor Company leaders discuss the importance of the all-new Ford Mustang in this official firm. Featuring in order: Bill Ford, Mark Fields, Jim Farley, Moray Callum, Raj Nair, Joe Hinrichs and Dave Pericak.
The Lancia Stratos was a supercar like no other, but with just 492 built, values are vast. So what if you could get then Stratos look, sound and pace for £30k? Step forward Lister Bell STR kit car.
If there's one kit car capable of leaving us besotted, it's the Lister Bell STR, a newly developed Lancia Stratos replica that is exquisitely put together. The appearance is bang on, the attention to detail is superb...and the driving position is better than the original's.
Power comes from a 2.5-litre Alfa Romeo V6, which makes the right noises and, with about 190bhp, the right amount of shove. It steers and handles really sweetly, too. That you could put a lovely one together yourself for less than £30,000, or have a turn-key car for not much over £40,000, is more than enough to leave you examining your finances.
F1-inspired Infiniti concept to be shown at Detroit motor show in January
The Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge concept has been previewed ahead of its official reveal at the Detroit motor show in January.
The concept, which Infiniti says is inspired by Formula One, is based on the Q50 sports saloon and is intended to show a high-performance variant of the car.
Named after the famous corner at the Spa circuit, Infiniti says its concept "blends road car technology with a thoroughbred motorsport vision".
While performance and interior upgrades on the Q50 concept haven't been revealed, Infiniti has added "aerodynamic styling treatments" and design elements developed from its work in Formula One, where the company is partnered with Red Bull Racing.
The firm's design boss Alfonso Albaisa said: "Performance is a key pillar of Infiniti’s DNA and this car expresses a deepened design interpretation of that. The Q50, with an abundance of technologies, provides a great basis for an extreme performance version, embodied in the design of Q50 Eau Rouge".
Read more Detroit motor show news.
With Audi’s RS division celebrating its 20th anniversary next year, we take a look back at the German manufacturer’s halo range of performance cars.
Audi’s RS brand has been deeply rooted into the hearts of petrolheads for some time now, having solidified its reputation as equal company for the likes of BMW’s M and Mercedes-Benz’s AMG divisions. But where did it all begin?
After the success of Audi’s S2 coupe and the original ‘C4’-derived S4 saloon from 1991, the German carmaker decided to push the envelope further, when in 1994, Audi’s high performance Quattro GmbH division spawned a new halo performance sub-brand called RS – standing for RennSport, literally translating to ‘racing sport’.
Later that year, Quattro GmbH gave birth to the first two-lettered badge Audi in the form of the RS2 Avant. A brawny variation of the Audi 80 ‘B4’ model, the RS2 Avant (only available in estate form) was co-developed with Porsche; adopting the 993-generation 911’s wheels, fog lights and exterior mirrors and Porsche-designed brakes and suspension.
A highly potent car in its day, the RS2 Avant was powered by a 2.2-litre five cylinder 20-valve turbocharged engine, producing 311bhp and hooked up to a six-speed manual, shooting the car from 0-62mph in 5.4sec and on to a top speed of 163mph. The first RS-badged Audi proved a trendsetter in its day, with room for five adults, luggage and the ability to keep pace with the likes of the Honda NSX and Porsche 993 Carrera.
Fast-forward six years and a new mid-size platform of the ‘B5’ Audi A4 laid the foundations for the next S and RS derivatives, the halo model becoming the RS4...
Ford's 'Go Further' event today is headlined by the launch of the new Mustang, but there are also plans afoot elsewhere
In the end, they got the new Ford Mustang launch spot-on.
Ford always knew they had something the car lover would travel many a mile to see, so they simply invited everyone they could think of - hacks, dealers, workers and stalwarts from Mustang clubs, and corralled all 2500 of us in a vast Barcelona exhibition hall, to see the new machine with the all-new design and the independent rear suspension.
However, business talk came first. European big boss Stephen Odell opened up with bullish talk about being on track for profits during 2015, revealing that Ford in Europe had already launched ten models or big changes in the past year.
Then executive chairman Bill Ford stepped out, looking far more relaxed than I've ever seen him, to summarise the challenges the car industry faces: it put roughly a billion cars on the road in its first century, he revealed; the second billion is estimated to arrive by 2033, with all the pollution and congestion challenges that will bring.
Soon, 75 per cent of the world's population will live in cities. Connected cars - much more sophisticated than today's level of connection - will provide a big part of the answer, Ford reckoned. To show how communication matters, the company is planning to spend a third of its marketing budget on digital communications in future.
Then the summarising bombshell: the chairman predicted that Ford's achievements would have an even bigger impact on the key issues of modern transport...
The paper tax disc is no more, but will you be sorry to see it go?
Whether you currently use a snazzy magnetic circular holder or prefer the rustic sticking tape approach to affixing your tax disc to your windscreen, George Osborne has just made your life a tiny bit less… perforated.
In today’s autumn budget statement the chancellor has called time on the 93-year-old necessity to shove a piece of coloured paper in your windscreen to prove you’ve coughed up your Vehicle Excise Duty for the next six months or year.
The humble disc, it seems, has become outmoded; the relevant data is held on computer databases, and so the authorities simply run your car’s registration plate through the system.
Such a high-tech approach would have confounded the motorists of 1 January 1921, when displaying the tax disc became law, to prove you had paid the new excise duty which had been incorporated into the Roads Act of the previous year.
Autocar of the day was vehemently opposed to the new car tax, which was ushered in with the justification that the money was needed to maintain the road network, and replaced previous convoluted taxation methods that went before with a single method of cash-generation.
Britain had just emerged from World War One, during which the roads had fallen into a bad state of repair. The Ministry of Transport Committee calculated that it needed to raise £7m in taxes to maintain the roads and enable a substantial measure of new road construction and improvement.
How curious is it that £7m is also the figure that the current government believes will be saved by abolishing tax discs?
But the way the...
Citroen partners with cosmetics firm to create one-off DS3, while Renault gets Chinese approval for its new joint venture with Dongfeng
A new Citroen DS3 concept, created by partnering with Benefit Cosmetics, has been shown. The car, which will be on display at the Clothes Show Live event in Birmingham this month, features bespoke paintwork and painted alloy wheels. The interior has also been trimmed in Italian leather, and features pink detailing throughout.
Skoda will start work on its new rally car next year. The company says development on the successor to its current Fabia Super 2000 will get underway in 2014, and will enter international rally events a year later.
Renault and Dongfeng have been given approval from China's National Development and Reform Commission to go ahead with its joint venture plan. The scheme will result in the creation of a new firm, Dongfeng Renault Automotive Company, and will allow Renault to take advantage of the Chinese market.
Bugatti has sold its 400th Veyron, meaning that just 50 units of the car are still available to order. Bugatti has said that production of the Veyron and its variants would be limited to 450 units. It is unknown if Bugatti has plans to increase its production run.
Bombastic, disarming, fast and great fun on the right road – but not as vivid in automatic form as the manual
The latest version of the Chevrolet Camaro. And you don’t have to be an excited eight-year-old to fall for it. Even sensible, middle-aged road testers can be won over by the vivid charms of this in-your-face American muscle coupé. For evidence of that, look no further than the four-star road test verdict we awarded when official imports began in 2012.We’re revisiting the Camaro now for two reasons: primarily because General Motors has updated it for the 2014 model year, changing its exterior styling and augmenting its specification. But secondly, to find out if the car’s grand touring manners – which were a big part of the appeal of our manual-equipped road test car last year – could be any greater in a six-speed automatic.
Next-generation Corvette, described as the most track-capable car in the range, to be given public debut in January
The new Chevrolet Corvette Z06 will have its world debut at the Detroit motor show in January.
Chevrolet says the new model will be its "most track-capable Corvette ever, designed to deliver supercar levels of performance".
The new Corvette will complete the company's performance car range, which also includes the Corvette Stingray convertible, Camaro Z/28 and SS models. The Camaro Z/28 is due on sale in the second quarter of 2014, and has recently set a lap time at the Nürburgring of 7 minutes and 37.40 seconds.
Chevrolet hasn't yet revealed what engine will power the Z06, merely saying the car would acheive its performance "through unique powertrain, chassis and aerodynamic features".
Production of the Corvette Z06 will begin in late 2014, suggesting that sales will start early in 2015. It is not known whether the Corvette Z06 will be offered in right-hand drive or whether it will go on sale in Europe, but Chevrolet engineers have previously said the C7 Corvette would be offered in right-hand-drive format, but not before 2015.
Read more Detroit motor show news.