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воскресенье, 19 февраля 2012 г.

Subaru Impreza – the 2012 European one is revealed

Subaru Impreza – the 2012 European one is revealed

By Tim Pollard
First Official Pictures
10 February 2012 15:17
Subaru will show this European-spec Impreza five-door at the 2012 Geneva motor show, as well as the BRZ sports car in European trim.
This is the fourth-generation of the Impreza, but traditionalists expecting a return to the four-door saloon format will be disappointed: it remains a five-door hatchback bodyshell.
Subaru abandoned its distinctive four-door style for Golf-alike hatch style in the last generation. Sadly, it's not proved hugely popular in the UK, Subaru sales shrinking 32% in 2011 to just 2634 sales.

Just 141 of those were Imprezas...

Crikey, that's not good. What's new on the 2012 Subaru Impreza?
It's still business as usual for the basic format of the new European Impreza. It's stuck with horizontally opposed boxer engines and four-wheel drive.
Although go-faster WRX turbocharged versions true to its 1990s roots will come, for now Subaru is only confirming a 1.6-litre petrol engine in a five-door bodystyle.
If you really are hankering after a four-door, Brits will almost certainly be able to get a saloon version prepared for the US market.

What else is new at Geneva for Subaru?

It's 40 years of Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive! So the Japanese will be wheeling out a 1972 Subaru Leone Estate Van alongside the new Imrpeza and the Euro-spec BRZ.
Hopefully that may provide inspiration for Subaru, which has struggled with earthquake-related supply problems, a soaring yen exchange rate and a model range out of kilter with European mores.

Audi TT RS Plus (2012) first official pictures

Audi TT RS Plus (2012) first official pictures
By Tim Pollard
First Official Pictures
10 February 2012 15:20
Audi has unveiled a go-faster version of the TT. As if the regular TT RS isn't fast enough, here's the new 2012 TT RS Plus – a tuned version of the coupe and roadster with the wick turned up to 355bhp.
It's based on the regular RS model, which means the five-cylinder turbo engine continues. But there's an extra 20bhp on tap, nudging power even further past Porsche Cayman R territory.

How fast is the new Audi TT RS Plus?

Pretty quick. The top speed limiter is increased, which means 174mph is possible, according to Audi. But it's still limited: the TT RS Plus would charge past 180mph or so if the electro-nannies were disengaged.
And with 343lb ft of torque – 11 more pound feet than before – the 0-62mph sprint is devastatingly fast too. Equipped with the optional S-tronic twin-clutch transmission, the TT RS Plus will pass the benchmark in just 4.1 seconds. Pick the manual box, and you'll be two-tenths behind.
Audi says the TT RS Plus weighs 1450kg in coupe form. And that's with the Quattro drivetrain, which is understandably standard.

What else is new on the TT RS Plus?

Not a huge amount more. The 19in alloys are new, featuring RS3-style black paint and red highlights. They're wrapped in thin 255/35 section rubber.
Adaptive damping, aka Magnerride magneto-rheological dampers, are optional, while a fixed wing increases downforce at the rear of the car.
This wouldn't be a tweaked-up car unless it had some cosmetic tricker. So a carbonfibre reinforced finish is used on the door mirrors and there's a new black finish to the exhausts. 

BMW M6 Coupe and Convertible (2012) first pictures

By Tim Pollard
First Official Pictures
13 February 2012 00:01
BMW has unveiled the new 2012 M6 – a two-door M5, in essence. The 552bhp super-coupe will be one of the highlights of the brand's stand at the 2012 Geneva motor show.
The M6 will be sold as a coupe or convertible, and Munich has unveiled both this weekend.

BMW M6 (2012): the lowdown

That M5 comparison is valid. The 6-series is a slinkier, two-door 5-series after all. So the M6 takes the same bi-turbo 4.4-litre V8, blown to produce a stout 552bhp at 5750rpm and 502lb ft at just  1500rpm.
Yes, that means the high-revving shriek of the old V10 M6 is banished, but on our first acquaintance of our long-term test M5 that's no bad thing. This V8 is high on performance, if lacking in some of the fizz of the old V10.
To give you some idea of much faster the new M6 is, that power figure is up 10%, maximum torque by a third!

So how fast is the new BMW M6?

The coupe passes 62mph in just 4.2 seconds and 124mph (200kph) in 12.6 seconds. Top speed is governed to 155mph, although the M Driver's Package will up that to 189mph.
It's more than just a stonking big engine though. The new M6 has a carbonfibre reinforced plastic roof to lower the centre of gravity. BMW first introduced this tech on the M3 CSL, and it's keen to fly the flag for cabonfibre ahead of the forthcoming composite i cars.
BMW claims the new M6 is a third less thirsty than before, quoting a 28.5mpg combined economy figure. The leggy seven-speed twin-clutch transmission helps there, of course.
Niceties such as switchable dampers are standard and you get the M5's Active M Differential as standard too. To simplify the multiple choice of which electronic modes to select, you can pre-programme your favourite settings in two M buttons on the steering wheel.

How can I spot the new 2012 M6?

BMW is making it easier to spot its M cars in future. Design chief Adrian van Hooydonk told CAR that the discreet M6 badge on the front grille will become an M mainstay. If you like subtlety, Munich appears to be upping the show-off factor.
Blue brake callipers will be standard-fit on all new M cars, too, and if you spec the optional 19kg lighter carbon brakes there'll be further telltales: those anchors will take on a golden hue.
All future M cars will adopt the M6's bespoke three-spoke steering wheel, too. In the past, they've never had a fully individual design, just retrimmed versions of existing wheels. And there's more M blue piping inside too.
It's all part of a concerted effort to increase sales of M cars. The halo models will remain very focused affairs, but BMW is pushing the halfway house M models, such as the recently unveiled tri-turbo diesel versions of the 5-series and X6.

Audi RS4 Avant (2012) first official pictures

Audi RS4 Avant (2012) first official pictures
By Ben Pulman

First Official Pictures
15 February 2012 08:00
This is the Audi RS4 Avant, a 444bhp super-estate. It's the Mk3 RS4 Avant, and it will only be available as an Avant (the first RS4 was an estate-only twin-turbo V6, the second a brilliant V8-engined rival for the M3 and available in saloon and Avant guises).

Important things first – how much space does the Audi RS4 Avant have for my Labrador and luggage?

There’s up to 1430 litres of boot space. Moving on…
The RS4 Avant is effectively a five-door version of theRS5 Coupe. On the one hand that’s a good thing: there’s a high-revving 4.2-litre V8, four-wheel drive, and a clever seven-speed dual-clutch S-tronic gearbox. That means 444bhp produced at 8250rpm, plus a chunky 317lb ft from 4000 to 6000rpm. 0-62mph is dispatched in a dog-slammed-against-the-rear-window 4.7 seconds, top speed is limited to 155mph, and if you give Audi a little more cash, that limit can be raised to 174mph. Official fuel consumption is 25.7mpg.

So what’s the bad news?

The bad news is that the RS5 Coupe wasn’t much cop. Quality levels are superb, as is the high-speed stability, and you can go quickly with the minimum of fuss. But it’s not entertaining. We’re not talking about sideways slides that are irrelevant to 99% of the population either, rather the lumpy ride and leaden steering that made even tackling a roundabout unexciting.
The R8 supercar aside, the last RS4 was Audi’s best car for generations, so this third-gen über-wagon has a lot to live up to.

What else do we know about the new Audi RS4 Avant?

Quattro four-wheel drive is, of course, standard, with a crown-gear centre differential sporting a standard 40:60 front-to-rear power split, but with the ability to send 70% of torque to the front or 85% to the rear. And there’s torque vectoring too, with the electronics braking the inside wheels to reduce slip, while the optional Sport differential can distribute power between the rear wheels.
Chassis-wise the RS4 Avant sits 20mm lower than a regular A4 Avant, and it’s also 20mm longer and 24mm wider thanks to the RS4-specific bodykit. Silver wing mirrors and twin oval exhaust also mark out this RS model. Forged ten-spoke 19in aluminium wheels are standard, with 20in rims as an option. There’s a brake upgrade too (365mm front discs) with 380mm front carbon-ceramic discs a costly extra.
Audi’s Drive Select system is standard-fit and offers Comfort, Auto and Dynamic modes for the steering, S-tronic ‘box and throttle, while Dynamic Ride Control (DRC) is an option and features diagonally linked shock absorbers to aid stability during cornering.
The interior features a host of RS upgrades, from sports seats to carbon trim, a smattering of RS4 badges, while chunky bucket seats are an optional extra. 
Audi UK has yet to announced prices, but reckon on £55k-£60k when the new RS4 Avant arrives on our shores later in 2012.

Infiniti Emerg-e concept car (2012): leaked patent drawings

By Tim Pollard
First Official Pictures
14 February 2012 09:26
Looks like this is the Infiniti Emerg-e concept car bound for the 2012 Geneva motor show. These leaked images from an Italian blog, filed at the European patent office, have surfaced overnight, blowing the planned embargo on Infiniti's range-extender hybrid sports car concept.
Infiniti has only issued a couple of teaser photos and confirmed the name of the Infiniti Emerg-e and had hoped to keep the styling under wraps until 6 March 2012.

Infiniti Emerg-e: what we know so far

Details remain sketchy about the Emerg-e so far. We know it's a 'range-extender' hybrid and will run on zero-emissions electric mode for substantial periods. It's the first Infiniti to feature this powertrain.
Infiniti has also confirmed this Evora-alike design packages the range-extender hybrid hardware amidships.
An earlier announcement said: 'Mid-ship layout for optimal weight distribution, at the same time facilitating a change in vocabulary for Infiniti’s design language.' So take note of the kinked C-pillar and body surfacing of these leaked Emerg-e design sketches. They may indeed point to future styling directions for Infiniti.
Early dripfeed teasers also claim the car is very lightweight.

Infiniti and its sports car hopes

We wouldn't expect the Emerg-e to, ahem, emerge from Geneva with a production future. The brand has so far committed to launching a new electric car based around Nissan Leaf technology in 2014 and a crucial C-segment hatchback in the vein of the Lexus CT200h and BMW 1-series - due in 2015 and based loosely on the Ehterea concept car.
The fledgling brand is still establishing a foothold in Europe and needs to concentrate on bread-and-butter cars before it can think about icing on the cake like sports cars. It must also refresh its existing range of sports saloons and crossovers and the tie-up with Daimler will bring four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines in the G and M ranges, hugely extending their appeal.
However, a senior product planning executive revealed to CAR that Infiniti was seeking to launch a top-end halo sports car. Click here to read how that could mean a Nissan GT-R-based Infiniti supercar.

Ferrari California Handling Speciale (2012) first official pictures

Ferrari California Handling Speciale (2012) first official pictures

By Ben Pulman
First Official Pictures
16 February 2012 10:00
This is Ferrari’s revised California, which will be unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March 2012. It’s got more power, weighs less, and can be optioned with a chassis-sharpening Handling Speciale package, all features scooped by CAR last year.
The California caused quite a stir when it was launched, ushering in a whole host of firsts for Ferrari: it was the company’s first convertible with a folding metal roof; the first with a double-clutch gearbox, the first front-engined V8 Ferrari, and the first with direct-injection engine technology. And these changes signal a mid-life tickle-up for the Merc SL and Bentley Continental GTC rival.

So what exactly is new on the new Ferrari California?

The direct-injection 4.3-litre V8 (the California was the first front-engined V8 Ferrari) has gained new exhaust manifolds and revised engine mapping. Which means 453bhp has become 483bhp, while the torque figure has been bumped from 358lb ft to 372lb ft at the same 5000rpm, with Ferrari claiming a meatier torque curve before the peak.
As for the weight reduction, Ferrari has managed to trim 30kg from the aluminium chassis thanks to new construction and fabrication techniques, but there’s apparently no effect on the overall rigidity. With more power but less weight the 0-62mph time is now 3.8 seconds – Ferrari previously claimed ‘sub 4.0’.

What about this trick handling upgrade?

It’s the optional Handling Speciale package, designed, Ferrari says, to ‘meet the needs of clients desiring a more dynamic, yet not overly extreme, driving experience’. That means stiffer springs, magnetorheological dampers controlled by a 50% faster ECU, and a new steering box with a 10% quicker steering ratio for faster turn-in.
But if that’s not your thing, then perhaps you’ll be tempted by the more extensive paint palette, with two-tone and three-layer finishes of some of Ferrari’s classic colour schemes. Prices for both the revised Ferrari California and the Handling Speciale package have yet to be announced.

Porsche Macan (2013) new name for baby Cajun SUV

Porsche names its new baby Cayenne – it's the Macan, coming in 2013

By Ben Pulman
First Official Pictures
16 February 2012 13:00
Porsche’s new sub-Cayenne SUV has a name – the Porsche Macan. Previously internally dubbed Cajun – short for Cayenne Junior – the new 4x4 will go on sale in 2013. Click here to watch Porsche's teaser video for the new Macan SUV.

Porsche Macan? So where does that name comes from?

Porsche says the name Macan ‘is derived from the Indonesian word for tiger and combines suppleness, power, fascination and dynamics – core characteristics of the new off-road car.’
Porsche publically confirmed production of a sub-Cayenne 4x4 in 2010 (and released the design sketch, right), and production will start at the company’s Leipzig plant (which builds the Cayenne and the Panamera saloon) in 2013. We hear Porsche plans to build 50,000 Macans each year, so €500m is being invested in a new assembly line and paint shop. Porsche says it should create 1000 jobs at the factory in the east of Germany.
‘The Macan combines all sports car characteristics with the benefits of a SUV and is a genuine Porsche,’ said Porsche sales and marketing boss Bernhard Maier. ‘The name of a new Porsche has to fit with the brand, sound good in very many languages and dialects and evoke positive associations.’

What else do we know about the new Porsche Macan?

Porsche’s first ever SUV, the Cayenne, caused controversy, but with the second-generation car selling strongly, most of the automotive world has come to accept that this famed sports car company can sell ‘off-road’ vehicles.
Just as the Cayenne shares parts with the VW Touareg and Audi Q7, the Macan will be loosely related to the next Audi Q5. Audi would prefer Porsche to concentrate on a sportier, standalone three-door version, but Weissach claims it also needs a five-door version to achieve double digit profit margins. The provisional plan calls for us to get both, with the five-door coming in spring 2013, and the Macan coupe arriving in 2014.
Expect exterior styling to mirror the Cayenne, and inside the dashboard will adopt the rising centre console of all Porsche’s latest models. The standard seating configuration will be for four, but they’ll be a 4+1 option.

Anything else?

Four-wheel drive will be standard, double-clutch gearboxes will sport seven speeds, and these are the expected engine options, with a little more power like-for-like than the Audi Q5:
• 2.0 TFSI 4-cyl, 237bhp/258lb ft
• 3.0 TFSI V6, 288bhp/295lb ft
• 2.0 TDI 4-cyl, 187bhp/258lb ft
• 3.0 TDI V6, 261bhp/369lb ft
A Macan Turbo S is also in the works, with Porsche's own twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 rated at 345bhp, and there's a Macan Hybrid too, with the Q5’s 208bhp 2.0TFSI engine and electric motor set-up. Pricing for Macan is expected to exceed the Q5 by about 15%.    

Peugeot 208 XY Concept (2012) first official pictures

Peugeot 208 XY Concept (2012) first official pictures
By Ben Pulman
First Official Pictures
17 February 2012 07:00
This is the Peugeot 208 XY Concept, which will be unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March 2012. It’s designed to be something very different from the 208 GTi concept that Peugeot will also unveil in Geneva.

And that is? Convince me or I’m off to read that Peugeot 208 GTi story…

We’ll just let you read the 208 GTi story first… but when you’re back we’ll explain that the XY is all about packing premium touches into a small package. That means a 16-layer ‘Pulsion’ paint and 18in wheels, a panoramic glass roof and chrome highlights on the outside.
And inside there’s stitched crimson leather on the steering wheel, dashboard, armrests, and the gear levels, plus purple leather highlights on the seats and floor mats, and black leather trimming around the edge of the panoramic glass roof.  Other special touches include pleated seats, crimson micro-stripes in the chrome section of steering wheel, and gunmetal highlights for the air vents and door handles.
The XY, which is set to make production, is designed to offer luxury touches in a small package, for customers who need a small car to fit their lifestyle but can afford the finer things. It’s not about the power, so there’s no fireworks under the bonnet – the concept has a 115bhp 1.6-litre HDi engine.

Peugeot 208 XY Concept (2012) first official pictures

Peugeot 208 GTi Concept (2012) first official pictures

By Ben Pulman
First Official Pictures
17 February 2012 07:00
This is the Peugeot GTi Concept, and it's a near-200bhp hot hatch that Peugeot will unveil at the Geneva motor show in March 2012. Unveiled alongside it will be the Peugeot 208 XY Concept.
 The Peugeot 208 GTi Concept is technically still a concept, but the hottest Peugeot 208 already runs a THP 156 engine, so the mule our spies spotted cold weather testing is thought to be an early prototype for a production version of the GTi. We'd guess at seeing a production version of the Peugeot 208 GTi at the 2012 Paris motor show this autumn.
If it turns out to be anything like sister company Citroen's DS3 Racing, it should be a very good car indeed.

Right, important details! Is the Peugeot 208 GTi Concept a proper hot hatch?

The ingredients are very promising. The engine is the same turbocharged THP 200 1.6-litre four-cylinder that you’ll find in the top-spec RCZ. Which means 197bhp at 5500rpm, plus 188lb ft at 1700rpm (or 203lb ft with an overboost facility). Peugeot hasn’t made any acceleration claims, but reckon on high-sixes or low-sevens to 62mph from a standstill.
Chassis-wise the 208 GTi has a 36mm wider track, at both the front and the rear, while 302mm (front) and 249mm (rear) discs take care of the stopping.

How is the Peugeot 208 GTi Concept visually different from the standard 208?

There’s a very subtle bodykit, with neatly integrated wheelarch extensions, a discreet rear spoiler, and a small black ‘diffuser’ with two chromed tailpipes. And in a nod to the original spit-you-through-a-hedge-backwards-if-you-lift-mid-corner 205 GTi, there are brushed aluminium GTi logos on the rear quarter panels aft of the back windows.
The front grille is supposed to be in the style of a chequered flag, and before your patriotic blood is riled by the French tricolour flag across the white bumper insert, the very last photo depicts the 208 GTi Concept with a Union Jack across its snout.

What about inside?

The sports seats are trimmed in Nappa leather and cloth, while the flat-bottomed (no Peugeot, no!) steering wheel is all leather but with contrasting red stitching. Alcantara covers the dash, the roof lining is black, and the pedals are aluminium.