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понедельник, 14 ноября 2011 г.

Peugeot 208 (2012) first official pictures

By Tim Pollard
First Official Pictures
02 November 2011 06:30
This new Peugeot 208 will replace the 207 in 2012. These first official photos of the 208, issued today, reveal a compact supermini which aims to put Peugeot back on the mini map.
The 208 will be sold as a three- or five-door - for now - although we'd expect a variety of spin-offs will follow, most likely including a 208 CC folding hard-top and an SW estate.

Peugeot 208: we can see what all those concept cars were about now!

Indeed we can. New design chief Gilles Vidal has always been adamant that the new styling direction espoused by the SR1 concept car in early 2010 would rapidly inform production Peugeots.
We've already seen the 508 replete with a slimmer aesthetic, and the new 208 shows the new wardrobe can be shrunk to the supermini sector. Note the scalloped flanks, the more playful surfacing and the rippling Pug lion badge.
There's a distinctive character line to the 208's flanks, arcing up from a Vauxhall-inspired tick on the front door and bleeding into an exaggerated kink in the boomerang rear lights.
CAR's seen the new Peugeot 208 in the metal and can confirm it's a good-looking hatch: svelte, compact in character and even better looking than in these first photos.

What's under the new Peugeot 208's skin?

That'll be the latest iteration of the PSA group PF1 platform, given a considerable working over for this application.
Continuing the good work done by the Mazda 2 et al, the new 208 is significantly smaller than the 207 it replaces. We hear a good 70mm has been snipped from the length (it's 10mm lower too) and, best of all, the 208 weighs on average 110kg less than before.
This weight loss will reap dividends at the pump and in the corners. The 208 weighs from just 975kg.
So that means less heft for the suite of new three-cylinder petrol engines to lug around. The 68bhp 1.0-litre triple emits 99g/km, and Continental buyers can pick from a trio of diesels mustering 70, 90 and 110bhp. Every derv is sub-100g/km too.

VW CC facelift (2011) first pictures

By Tim Pollard
First Official Pictures
03 November 2011 04:00
Volkswagen today slid the covers off the new Passat CC – except this time it's being renamed simply the VW CC.
There's the same space for four (or five as an option) adults and four doors, wrapped in a gently reheated coupe-meets-saloon bodystyle. Think of it as the poor man's Mercedes CLS, if you will.

VW CC: the lowdown

VW will show the new CC at the 2011 Los Angeles auto show in mid-November, ahead of UK sales in spring/summer 2012.
The front and end is restyled in line with Volkswagen's latest stylistic mores – with a new Phaeton-inspired grille and reprofiled bonnet – while the side sills are reshaped and the rear bumper is new too. It's a subtle update.
Expect some technical innovation too. Every engine now has stop-start and intelligent alternator charging to save fuel. Outputs  span from 138bhp to 296bhp, and all engines up to 207bhp can be specced with a DSG twin-clutch transmission.

Anything else new on the Passat CC?

Standard equipment now includes bi-xenon headlamps, new LED rear lights and a system to tell if you're getting tired.
Other gizmos include optional blindspot detection systems, auto-dip headlamps and a traffic sign spotter. Mostly electronic software upgrades, then.

Vauxhall Astra VXR (2011) first official pictures

By Ben Pulman
First Official Pictures
04 November 2011 09:00
This is the new Vauxhall Astra VXR, a hot hatch from Luton offering the power of a Ford Focus RS for the price of a Ford Focus ST.

Just how powerful is the new Vauxhall Astra VXR?

A direct injection and turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine provides the power and torque, 276bhp and 295lb ft respectively. Top speed is 155mph, but while there’s no word on acceleration figures, the old-shape 236bhp Astra VXR hit 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds; bank on the new car running the benchmark sprint in the mid fives…

It looks pretty good too…

It does indeed. The three-door bodyshell on which it’s based is the rather gorgeous Astra GTC, and the VXR visual upgrades are much more cohesive and sedate than we’ve seen before. There’s a bigger front bumper, the diffuser-esque rear incorporates twin tailpipes, and there’s a black-tipped spoiler. Huge Brembo brakes provide the stopping power, and nestle behind 20in multi-spoke alloy wheels.
It’s down to two 245/35 ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero front tyres to transfer the power to the Tarmac, but to help matters there’s Vauxhall trick, torque steer-reducing HiPerStrut front suspension and a mechanical limited slip differential.

Anything else?

There are Sport and VXR buttons on the dash, which both offer more focussed settings for the throttle, steering and standard-fit FlexRide adaptive dampers.
Inside there are big bucket seats, VXR-specific trim and instrument upgrades, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and a gearstick without stitching so tough it hurts your hand to shift gear.
Prices have yet to be announced but it’ll cost less than £30,000 – reckon on around £28k. Orders books open in spring 2012, the first customer deliveries will be in summer next year, and if this is all a bit too much for you, we hear a five-door GSi with a circa 200bhp twin-turbo diesel will also go on sale next year too.

Suzuki Regina, Q-concept, Swift EV (2011)

By Tim Pollard
First Official Pictures
10 November 2011 09:35
Suzuki is showing its vision for an aerodynamic city car at the 2011 Tokyo auto show: the regally named Regina. It's pitched as a radical 'next-generation global compact car', which sounds suspiciously as if it could have production intent.
The new Suzuki Regina is all about minimalism: it weighs just 730kg, so it only requires a small capacity petrol engine, which brings emissions down to 70g/km and appetite for unleaded at a rate of 90mpg.
That fared-in design contributes to what Suzuki claims are class-leading aero figures. The rear wheels are partially covered for smoother air cleaving, although we wonder about that bluff front. The Japanese claim it's 10% more aero-efficient than today's Suzukis.

Suzuki Q-concept

It's not just the Regina at Tokyo. Suzuki will also show the Q-concept, a two-seat city car that's somewhere between a bike and a car. A bit like a Twizy, then.
It's just 2.5m long and seats two in a tandem bike position. Suzuki claims this is an electric car with a range of around six miles.
Cleverly, Suzuki says the cabin can be reconfigurable. So parents could spec two childseats in the back instead of a single adult pew, or it could be set up as an urban delivery van with a cargo bay out the back.

Suzuki EV Hybrid

It's not all wacky concept cars at Tokyo. The Swift EV Hybrid is an experimental electric Swift with an on-board generator.
Suzuki says this hybrid Swift could easily achieve the typical 20-mile commute of most Japanese journeys on electric power alone without any help from the petrol generator.

Honda Small Sports EV Concept (2011)

By Tim Pollard
First Official Pictures
10 November 2011 02:00
Honda hopes to set the agenda at the 2011 Tokyo motor show with no fewer than seven concept cars – including its answer to the BMW i8, the new Small Sports EV Concept.
Little is being said about the new compact sports car, but we know it will definitely be a full EV. These first design sketches reveal a stubby targa top with new Honda styling cues.
The sides are heavily scalloped, in the style of Peugeot's new pared-back aesthetic and there's a bold graphic running around the front of the car, following the shape of the grille and enforcing a distinctive character line down the flank of the car.
It's frustrating that Honda is saying so little about the Small Sports EV Concept at this stage, but the press blurb released today confirms the cars are 'hinting at the design direction of future models.'

What else is Honda showing at the 2011 Tokyo motor show?

There are the requisite urban commuter type models that used to be the preserve of Tokyo, but are now finally seeping out to auto shows around the globe.
So there's the new AC-X, a plug-in hybrid model for urban hops or longer trips. It looks like the sort of vehicle which could replace today's Insight – and are there shades of FCX fuel-cell vehicle in the design? We think so.
And the Micro Commuter Concept does what it says on the tin: it's a tiny, full electric vehicle – and you can even park the car and continue on the small Compo two-wheel EV stored inside. Its battery can be detached and used as a power source in everyday life – potentially giving you days' worth of charge for your laptop or portable gizmos.

You said seven concepts…

Yes, it'll take you quite a while to get around the Honda stand at the Tokyo salon. There's also the E-Canopy and RC-E electric bikes, which show how Honda's vision for future mobility can include four wheels or two, sports bikes or silent EV town scooters.
The Townwalker is one of those crazy city transportation devices for when you simply can't be bothered to walk, while the N Concept is a new compact car exploring the use of space in small cars.
Don't mock: the last time Honda showed us a similar concept, it went on to launch the innovative Jazz supermini, one of the cleverest small cars around.

Nissan Pivo 3 concept car (2011) first pictures

By Tim Pollard
First Official Pictures
09 November 2011 16:32
Nissan – the pioneer of the modern electric car age – is to show a third iteration of its radical Pivo concept car at the 2011 Tokyo motor show. Dubbed Pivo 3 (funnily enough), the new concept is the brand's eighth EV concept car.

Nissan Pivo 3: all pie in the sky?

Far from it, says Nissan. Earlier Pivos have made us laugh and giggle, but the Japanese say this one is nearing reality. 'Pivo 3 is what Nissan envisions to be a more “realistic” EV of the near future,' says the blurb.
Sounds like you might actually be seeing something like this on city roads sooner than you might care to imagine.
Is that why the Pivo 3 looks less radical and more production-ready?
Got it in one. There's a certain realism to this Pivo that makes it look like it could sit in a Nissan showroom next to a Leaf and a Qashqai. Some will say that it's gone through the group's Boring Filter and lost some of the magic of earlier iterations. Others will reply that it's this very realism that actually enables cars like this to become reality.
Francois Bancon, deputy division general manager of product strategy and product planning division (his business card is presumably A4-sized), explains the rationale behind the latest Pivo 3: 'Pivo is one of the answers for active urbanists living in mature markets,' he says. 'Through the three Pivo proposals, we have gained a deep understanding of their needs in such large, metropolitan areas.'

So what's new on the Nissan Pivo 3?

This is an electric car aimed at young singletons and couples living in densely populated urban areas. Perhaps London, but more probably – to begin with – Tokyo and other emerging megacities. Seating is in a 1+2 layout.
The Pivo 3 now has self-park – or automated valet parking, as Nissan dubs it – and is designed to slot itself into specially equipped electric car recharging slots. It'll turn on a sixpence: at less than 3m long, it can pull a U-turn in just 4m.
Like earlier Pivos, this one has in-wheel motors, which gives each wheel greater flexibility and frees up more space in the package for bodies and baggage. Naturally, this is an holistic vision, so the Pivo 3 could even sell electricity back to the grid should the battery hold excess charge at times of peak demand.

Mitsubishi Mirage, Concept PX-MiEV II (2011)

By Tim Pollard
First Official Pictures
09 November 2011 13:00
Mitsubishi will show the Mirage city car and Concept PX-MiEV II concept cars at the 2011 Tokyo motor show, which opens on 30 November. Both are world premieres.
It's our first look at Mitsubishi's new city car in production trim and a concept car which clearly points to 2012's new Outlander.

The Mitsubishi Mirage: the lowdown

The new Mirage is a city car to slot underneath today's Colt supermini, and is the production version of 2010's Global Small Concept. At 3710mm long, it's around 10cm shorter than a Colt and is pitched as 'an affordable entry-level model.' Despite its compact dimensions, Mitsubishi claims there is space for five adults inside.
The Mirage goes on sale first in Thailand in March 2012, but European sales are set for the end of 2012 and early 2013. Like Nissan with its Micra, Mitsubishi is building the Mirage in Thailand where costs are lower.

How clean is the Mirage?

Although Mitsu has issued no weight figures yet, the Mirage is said to be commendably lightweight and has been on a crash course in how to save CO2. The rolling resistance has been trimmed, the wheels are a welcome 14in in diameter, the body is claimed to be low drag and the Japanese-spec models will gobble fuel at a rate of just 85mpg, the company claims. It's powered by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine which has stop-start and a CVT auto transmission.
If that's not clean enough, wait for the electric Mirage, which is coming as one of eight EVs or hybrids by 2015.
Mitsubishi hasn't yet confirmed if it will replace today's ageing Colt supermini; the Mirage could supersede that car.

And what about the Mitsubishi Concept PX-MiEV II?

This is Mitsubishi's take on a plug-in hybrid powered mid-sized crossover, which points heavily to 2012's new Outlander. This seven-seat SUV borrows know-how from the company's existing i-MIEV but wrapped in an SUV bodyshell a tad bigger than a Freelander's.
By adding a 2.0-litre petrol engine to the EV powertrain Mitsubishi claims that 170mpg is possible on this concept car – which means a chunky 500 mile touring range on a small tank. Around 30 miles are claimed as a zero-emissions range on electric mode, after which the petrol engine will start up as a generator.
Interestingly, the Mitsubishi Concept PX-MiEV II uses some of the software from the Evo X's S-AWC four-wheel drive system. So the 60kW electric motors at either axle are governed by microchips determining where the EV power should be meted out. We still somehow doubt that Mitsubishi will produce a mid-sized hybrid SUV that's as lairy to drive as an Evo X. Which is probably for the best.

Ford begins building 1.0 Ecoboost, a microsized 3cyl

By Tim Pollard
Motor Industry
09 November 2011 13:00
Ford chief exec Alan Mulally was in Essex today to launch the first 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine, which was developed by powertrain engineers at Dunton and Dagenham.
The new 999cc triple will be built at Cologne in a new £110m production line – and will first be seen in the new Ford Focus in 2012.

How powerful is Ford's new 1.0 Ecoboost?

It'll come in two different outputs: a 123bhp version (producing 114g/km in a Focus) or a 99bhp version (bringing CO2 tumbling to 109g/km). That means the Focus (quite a big, heavy car nowadays, remember) should average 57mpg on the combined cycle.
As with all the Ecoboost products, it's a state-of-the-art lesson in downsizing. Which means lots of expensive technology: the 1.0-litre three-pot is turbocharged and directly injected, and breathing apparatus includes twin variable valve timing.

Which cars will use the 1.0 Ecoboost?

Most of the small car range, but it is being launched first in the Focus hatchbacks, C-Max MPVs and the new 2012 B-Max mini-MPV. Who knows how long before we even see it in cars of the Mondeo class? Certainly not for now.
In the long run, Ford says it has capacity to build up to 700,000 of the downsized triple at the Cologne and Craiova, Romania factories. But this is a global engine for use around the world, with total production of 1.5 million units a year anticipated.
This new Blue Oval engine shows the benefits of downsizing: at launch 12 years ago, a 2.0-litre Focus was required for an identical 123bhp, yet it averaged 33mpg. That's progress, that is.

Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder: RWD LP550-2 here in 2012

By Tim Pollard
Motor Industry
09 November 2011 09:47
Sant'Agata plans a two-wheel drive version of the Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder – reflecting 2009's limited-series rear-wheel drive Balboni edition of the Gallardo coupe.
Sales of the new rear-drive LP550-2 Spyder will start in early 2012, Lambo has confirmed to CAR. It will look the same as any other Gallardo convertible; the only changes will be to the hardware under the skin.

Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 Spyder RWD: the lowdown

Like the rear-wheel drive Gallardo tin-top, the Spyder will have a slightly detuned V10 driving just the rear axle.
As the name suggests, the LP550-2 will develop 550 horsepower, instead of the regular 560. That's the metric pony, meaning the 550-2 will muster some 543bhp.

Lighter, nimbler…

Although the Balboni edition was a limited-series run of just 250 copies, Lamborghini has in fact continued to offer a rear-wheel drive Gallardo as a basic 'entry-level' model (if anything hailing from Sant'Agata can ever be said to be entry-level).
That LP 550-2 loses the front driveshafts, saving a few kilograms here and there, giving road testers a more slidey, pointy Gallardo experience.
We expect the new 2012 Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 Spyder to cost less than the full-blown LP560-4 Spyder. Although prices are not yet confirmed, we're looking at around £10,000 less – pointing to a cost of some £152,000.

Hyundai will launch Veloster Turbo in 2012

By Tim Pollard
Motor Industry
07 November 2011 11:26
Hyundai has confirmed it will bring a 1.6 turbo version of the Veloster coupe to the UK in the second half of 2012, as first revealed by CAR.
It should make an interesting alternative to the VW Golf GTI brigade. The new blown four-cylinder engine is called the Gamma 1.6 T-GDI by Hyundai - and it develops an unusually high specific output of 201bhp at 6000rpm and 196lb ft at just 1750rpm.
At a recent powertrain conference in Korea Hyundai said the new 1.6 turbo had taken 52 months to develop at a cost of 69.5 billion won (£40m). We've now had confirmation that this engine will appear in the oddball Veloster coupe.

Hyundai's 1.6 turbo: yet more downsizing

The 1.6 turbo in the Veloster (and bound for a host of other future Hyundai/Kia models) will meet the EU5 emissions regs, and is clean enough to qualify as an ULEV-2 in California, says Hyundai.
It uses a twin-scroll turbocharger, direct fuel injection and variable valve timing to eke out every last bhp and g/km. But no emissions claims have been announced yet.

The new Hyundai engine philosophy

'Due to stricter environmental regulations and policies that vary from nation to nation, competition in the development of powertrains and other core technologies is intensifying,' said Woong-Chul Yang, Hyundai's vice chairman. 'Hyundai Motor will accelerate its efforts to develop future powertrains that feature high-performance and eco-friendly engines and transmissions.'
The company also announced a new Euro6 R-2.0 diesel engine. It will develop around 148bhp, but no key economy or CO2 figures have been released yet for this new turbodiesel.

Ferrari California: more power in 2012 update

By Tim Pollard
First Official Pictures
28 October 2011 09:19
Ferrari is updating the California coupe-convertible for 2012, CAR has learned. According to dealer updates provided to prospective owners, the new 2012 California will be more powerful, lighter and with a smattering of new tech to give it a second wind.
The new Ferrari California will start production in January 2012, with first UK deliveries due in time for the new '12' plate in the UK next March.

What's new on the 2012 Ferrari California?

The direct-injection 4.3-litre V8 is upgraded with an extra 30 horsepower, taking the total to a pretty serious sounding 483bhp. Torque swells, too, up to 373lb ft - and it's a higher plateau across the board.
Maranello says the power comes from new software and improved machining of the internals. For instance, the exhaust manifold is now 'optimised micro cast' and the ECU is reprogrammed to deliver those new outputs on 98 octane super unleaded. (it'll run on 95 too, just with less muscle).

You say the new 2012 Cali is lighter, too?

Yep. Impressively, for a mid-life facelift, Ferrari has managed to snip away 30kg from the kerbweight. It's now around 1705kg, thanks to new lighter aluminium alloys in certain parts of the chassis.
Net result? More power + less weight = 0-62mph in 3.85sec. The new Cali is only availble with the twin-clutch transmission.

Anything else new on the California?

A bit of minor spec fettling here and there. It looks the same externally (although you can now order an optional silver flecked front grille) but the in-car entertainment system has a bigger hard drive - now 40GB, up from 30GB - and it'll sync seamlessly with your iPhone 4 or Galaxy smartphones.
You can also spec the optional Handling Speciale pack if you want to sharpen up your California's corner carving skills. The new magnerheological dampers are upgraded and the ECU has a 50% faster response rate.
Ferrari says the time to respond is now just 5ms, and each damper can go from its most fluid state to its hardest state in just 8ms. Cue claims aplenty about reduced body roll, sharper steering response and more agility.

Has the Ferrari California been a success?

Maranello knows a good business opportunity when it sees one. A solid 80% of Cali customers are conquests - bringing a whole world of Aston/Bentley/Merc/Porsche customers to the Prancing Horse for the first time.
No price yet for the new 2012 California, but we expect a chunky premium in the annual January price increases. Today's Ferrari coupe-cabriolet costs £146,960.

Mini Roadster (2012) first official pictures

By Tim Pollard
First Official Pictures
29 October 2011 23:00
This is the new Mini Roadster - a second convertible for those who find the Mini Convertible a bit too pedestrian.
The new Mini Roadster is based on the Coupe, meaning a different rear deck and - with the roof folded - no more pram-like hood antics stacked on top of the boot. The rear end is pleasingly flush.

Mini Roadster (2012): in detail

The new Roadster is the first production two-seat open-top Mini in history. It'll be built in the UK at Plant Oxford, with sales here kicking off in spring 2012 from £18,015 for a Cooper Roadster, climbing to £24,850 for a John Cooper Works Roadster.
In between those two extremes, you can pick a Cooper S or Cooper SD. Given time, we'd expect a One and Cooper D to join the ranks.

Tell me about the hood!

That roof is fabric - no bulky folding hard tops here - leaving a 240-litre boot. The Roadster is unashamedly based on the Mini Coupe, stretching out to 3734mm long. While other markets are taking a manual roof, the UK is only taking the 'semi-automatic' hood which requires a manual unlock and then flops back electrically.
Its footprint may copy that of the 'four-seat' Mini Convertible, but the Roadster sits 20mm lower to the tarmac. And that windscreen is angled 13deg faster than the existing soft-top. More sporty, ja?

So is the Mini Roadster a realistic MX-5 rival?

Conceivably, yes. We already know and, mostly, love the Mini's front-wheel drive chassis. You can spec your Roadster with a choice of engines familiar from elsewhere in Minidom. Power ranges from 120bhp in the Cooper to 208bhp in the JCW.
Similarly, pick between 118g/km emissions on the diesel or 169 on the more profligate petrol turbo.
All other regular Mini characteristics are intact. Stop-start is standard, the cabin is stock Mini and the Coupe's pop-up spoiler will block out Plod from 50mph.

Saab 9-3: is this the new 2013 hatch?

By Tim Pollard
First Official Pictures
01 November 2011 10:04
Is this the new Saab 9-3? Contained in Saab's business plan submitted to the Swedish National Debt Office was this grainy image of what purports to be the new 2013 9-3.
If it is indeed a model of the finished 9-3, then it shows that the 2011 Phoenix concept car was influential in guiding what should become Saab's best-seller.
But we approach this leak with caution; it is also possible that Saab may have inserted a work-in-progress styling option in this business document. Enough to get bankers excited, but not enough to spill the beans.

Saab 9-3 (2013): the lowdown

It's been a busy week for Saab. The embattled Swedish car maker has languished in bankruptcy protection since the summer, but on 28 October two Chinese car makers stepped up to the plate with a €100 million offer to buy it outright from Victor Muller's Swedish Automotive.
As part of the reorganisation process, Saab has been frantically pedalling its business plan to banks and potential investors. This image of the new 9-3 was contained in one of those documents, obtained by a Swedish newspaper.
The new 9-3 has been designed by Jason Castriota, the head of styling for Saab and his own consultancy. In side profile, it's described as a SportCombi – in the spirit of the 1970s Combi Coupe. We'd heard it would revert to a hatchback bodystyle, and this is sure to please the Saaberati.

What will underpin the new 2013 Saab 9-3?

Saab has been developing a new platform based on the new 9-5's architecture. It is said to be flexible enough to underpin all future Saab models from 9-3 upwards. So if the mooted 9-2 were to appear, it would have to find a separate platform.
Phoenix means front- or four-wheel drive and a range of the latest petrol engines sourced from BMW. The Mini's 1.6 petrol turbo will power the majority of Saab 9-3s. We hear the new Saab 9-3 will stretch to around 4400mm long, with a wheelbase shrunk by some 150mm under today's 9-3.

So will Saab survive to launch the new 9-3?

We hope so. But the sale to China's Pang Da and Youngman is still subject to several approval processes which may yet scupper the deal. Banks and authorities in Europe and China must approve, as must GM which remains a major supplier to Saab. We've seen deals collapse before and everyone in Trollhattan is crossing every limb to make sure this one goes through.
Chairman Victor Muller told CAR that work on the new 9-3 had continued over the summer. 'We have incurred delays of around two months on this project because of lack of funding,' he said. But he vowed it would be ready for launch in 2013.