Tuesday November 22nd, 2011 11:37 Audi A1 Sportback: Vor-Spring durch Technik

Audi A1 Sportrack

Audi are set to augment their renowned subcompact range in spring 2012 with the release of the hotly-anticipated A1 Sportback.
Hitting showrooms in February, the über-sleek supermini is an upgrade on the three-door A1, already a huge seller for the German firm.
The Sportback features a comparable design to its sister model, though it is larger, more spacious and comes with an extra set of doors. As a result of this latter modification, the Sportback has added 25kg to its kerb-weight, though the improved space for rear passengers is a welcome enhancement.

Wider and taller than its A1 counterpart, the Sportback is aimed at young, trendy drivers, though don’t expect to have to flash photo ID and enter the showroom in skinny jeans and a Tweed jacket in order to purchase one. After all, you don’t have to fit any specific demographic to appreciate the choice of four turbo engines, including the fuel-efficient 1.5ltr TDI, whose emission levels are rated at just 99g/km. For some engines, Audi are even supplying a 7-gear S-tronic force transmission, letting you switch swiftly between gears.

Fitted with a five-seat layout as standard, with the four-seat configuration available as a no-cost option, Audi’s versatile newcomer refrains from upgrading the A1’s 270-litre boot, and looks sure to be a rival to MINI’s Cooper SD hatch. After all, who can quibble with the Audi Connect’s internet capabilities?

The campaign trail is already underway for Audi, and their latest promotional video (attests to the model’s sharp, city-friendly dimensions and gorgeous 16-inch alloy wheels.

An altogether smarter, cooler option than the A1, the Sportback comes with remote central locking, air conditioning, electric front and rear windows and mirrors, and a 6.5-inch retractable display with six-speaker single CD Concert audio system.
If the Sportback itself doesn’t satisfy you, there’ll be a 2.0-litre diesel option joining the top range later in 2012, boasting 141bhp and 0.62mph in 8.5 seconds sprint time. Sport model additions, meanwhile, include sports suspension, sports seats and a Driver’s Information System.
What’s to love about this car?  An awful lot, but let’s focus on its evolutionary styling: its coupe-like roof line, its integration of sporty looks with commendable economy of space, and its low CO2 emissions. If you’re after a car that you can truly feel good about driving – both from the point of view of fuel-efficiency and style – the Sportback can’t be faulted.

With prices starting from £14,527 and topping out at £21,270 (for the 1.4 TFSI with S-line trim), you can get your hands on one in February. In an Olympic year, there’s surely no better time to get back into sports than with the new Audi A1 Sportback.

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Sunday November 13th, 2011 13:57 Subaru Set to Unveil Advanced Tourer Concept Hybrid

Subaru has revealed that it will showcase the Advanced Tourer Concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show in Japan.

The Advanced Tourer Concept is a hybrid car, and is seen as a potential replacement for the Subaru Legacy.

Through the use of a single electric motor, the ATC will have a silent electric mode when travelling at low speeds. The lithium-ion batteries are recharged by a regenerative braking system which kicks in under deceleration.

The Tourer Concept is fitted with a horizontally opposed 1.6-litre turbo boxer engine mated to an electric motor. It may not be as big as the 2.0 and 2.5-litre boxer turbos of the past, but Subaru believe that the 1.6-litre turbo engine is both cleaner and more efficient. Although there are no official statistics for this yet, the word is that the Tourer Concept’s power output will match the 262bhp of the 2.5-litre boxer unit, while both emitting less CO2 and using less fuel at the same time.

Performance figures for the Tourer Concept should be an improvement on those of the current Legacy model, as the engine drives through a Lineartronic CVT transmission. This sends power to all four wheels.

The styling of the car uses Subaru’s “confidence in motion” design language. Visually, the Tourer Concept resembles a cross between a Jaguar XF and an Audi A6. The signature Subaru grille and angular headlights have been restyled to give the car a more aggressive appearance at the front.

The car’s interior features Art Deco style wood and polished aluminium surfaces with leather surfaces. In a fairly strange move, the steering wheel features a built-in digital monitor that displays maps, TV and internet. This is not exactly the safest feature in the world, but it is a concept car after all.

Perhaps with that digital monitor in mind, Subaru’s EyeSight crash avoidance system is incorporated into the design of the Tourer Concept. This system uses two mounted cameras above the rear-view mirror to monitor pedestrians and cyclists.

The Tokyo Motor Show – which runs from the 30th of November to the 11th of December – is a big event for Subaru, as the new BRZ sports car will also allow be on display.

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Saturday November 12th, 2011 20:19 All-Electric Car In the Works for SEAT

 

SEAT has revealed that it is currently working on prototypes of a fully electric and a plug-in hybrid car. The Spanish car manufacturer anticipates that the plug-in hybrid car will be launched in 2015, followed by the all-electric car in 2016.

In the mean time, units of the all-electric Altea XL Electric Ecomotive and the Leon TwinDrive Ecomotive will both be made available to Spanish government institutions in Catalonia and Madrid. This should enable SEAT to assess the usage of these cars, giving the car manufacturer an idea about the potential for mass production in the future.

Talking about the reasoning behind SEAT’s strategy, SEAT President James Muir said: “Customers demand a more sustainable form of mobility, but their needs are diverse. Therefore, we believe that a parallel strategy of developing two different technologies will put SEAT in the best position to meet their needs.”

So what about some actual information about the two forthcoming green models? Well, the Leon TwinDrive Ecomotive plug-in hybrid has a range of 52 kilometres when full electric mode is engaged. Its top speed in this mode is 120 kph. When it is in its combined mode, it should have a top speed of 170 kph, and an impressive emissions rate of 39g/km of CO2.

In comparison, the Altea XL Electric Ecomotive will have a top speed of 135 kph. The electric engine will produce 115 hp as well as 270 Nm of torque. A climate control system whereby rooftop photovoltaic cells recirculate fresh air inside the passenger compartment will reduce energy needs. Impressive stuff.

It is not just these two new green cars that the Spanish firm has in the pipeline, as in the next year, four new models will be launched next year. The first of these models is the SEAT Mii, set for a European release in spring.

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Thursday November 10th, 2011 01:53 Nissan Announce Details of 2012 GT-R

Nissan has finally released official details of its 2012 edition of the GT-R. The car, set for release in the UK next month, looks to be an improvement on its predecessor.

Fitted with a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 engine, the GT-R has improved horsepower and torque. Horsepower is up by 20bhp to 542bhp, while the engine’s torque now stands an improved 632Nm. Nissan put these improvements down to better airflow in the engine. This increase in power has resulted in the GT-R being capable of going from 0-62mph in an impressive 2.7 seconds.

It is not just the engine’s power that has been improved either, as it also has more favourable fuel economy now. This has risen from 23.5mpg to 24mpg.

Apparently, the Nissan GT-R is still in the later stages of testing right now, so there are no numbers in terms of the car’s CO2 emissions.

The car’s suspension system has also received an upgrade. Its asymmetric suspension system works by balancing out the weight of the driver by firming up the front left spring rate, and lowering the right hand rear suspension arms.

The interior of the new Nissan GT-R has also been souped up. It features an upgraded Bose sound system, as well as a rear view camera. The car’s instrument panel now can boast blue lighting on the tachometer.

Although Nissan has not revealed an official price for the GT-R MY12, expect it to be in the region of £76,000 when it goes on sale in the UK next month. It might be a bit much to expect that for a Christmas present, but what’s the harm in asking?

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Sunday November 6th, 2011 21:49 SEAT Look to the Future with the IBX Concept Car

Earlier this year, at the Geneva Motor Show, SEAT unveiled its latest concept car – the IBX hybrid car. The concept car has been described by SEAT as a cross between a sports utility vehicle and a sports coupe, and represents the company’s vision for an urban SUV.

In terms of its appearance, the two-door concept car has an understated, minimalist feel to it. A crisp and clean exterior, devoid of any flashy design features, gives the SEAT IBX a confident and sporty look. The IBX bears no ornamentation, and SEAT representatives say this is because “perfect design requires no decoration.”

SEAT’s Chief Designer Luc Donckerwolke said of the IBX: “We are proving that with our design, our sporty pedigree and our youthful character, we can also create a vehicle concept that is unique among SUVs.”

This uniqueness among SUVs may come from the fact that the IBX is both agile and compact enough to meet the demands of urban streets and parking spaces.

SEAT say that the IBX has an electric range of 50 kilometres, something that will no doubt appeal to those living in city areas. This electric range should be more than enough to cover local everyday journeys, while having an emission rate of zero. The car can be charged from a domestic power point, but the IBX’s internal combustion engine means that the concept car will be able to handle longer journeys just as easily.

Although there has been no official confirmation, there have been reports that the IBX concept car will go into production in the near future. If it does, then SEAT’s hybrid car is sure to create a stir with in the SUV market with its sports coupe sensibilities.

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Sunday October 30th, 2011 18:00 Audi Release First Official Details of New A4

Audi has released the first official details of the latest version of the A4 saloon car. Set for release in February of next year, the new A4 has not been given a radical redesign, but it has been given a few stylistic and mechanical tweaks which should keep it competitive.

At the front of the car, changes include a tapered grille, sharper air-intakes and reshaped LED headlights. The new A4 model will feature twin-exhaust as standard across the range. The fact that the car is wider and lower than previous versions would suggest that their will be increased space inside the car.

All cars in the A4 range will have new engines, and these engines will come with stop-start, brake energy regeneration and electronic power steering as standard. Audi expects these features to reduce fuel consumption by around 10%, something that should entice buyers worried about the amount of money they are spending on fuel.

One of the versions of the A4 which should appeal to company car buyers is the 134bhp, 2.0-litre TDI. The saloon version is expected to have an emissions rate of just 112g/km of CO2.

Inside, the new version of the A4 will feature chrome and gloss inlays on the steering wheel and door panels, a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel and a starter button that is brushed aluminium. It will also have a new MMI infotainment system.

Perhaps more importantly for families, the A4′s boot space remains at 480 litres – a level that is similar to the rival BMW 3 Series.

Although there is no official price for the new Audi A4 yet, expect it to be only marginally more expensive than the current A4. A February 2012 release for the car means that it will be going up against BMW’s new 3 Series, also released that month.

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Monday October 24th, 2011 22:22 New Skoda Compact Family Saloon Car Set for 2013 Release

 

The next few years promise to be pretty busy for Skoda, as it plans to release a new model every six months from next year onwards. Although there is a good chance of a name change by the time of its release, one of these models will be the car currently known as the A-Entry.

Set for release in early 2013, the A-Entry is expected to go head to head with the Volkswagen Golf and the Ford Focus in the compact family saloon market.

Last month Skoda displayed the MissionL concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and it is this car upon which the A-Entry is supposedly based on. The new A-Entry is apparently 80% similar to the MissionL concept. At the time of the Frankfurt Motor Show, Skoda personnel were keen to stress the strong focus of the MissionL on two areas – size and affordability – so it will be interesting to see if the A-Entry has a spacious feel to it. If it is anything like the MissionL then it will have plenty of boot space and room in the back of the car.

Skoda is also hopeful of releasing a five-door hatchback version of the new model.

It is obviously far too early for any firm details about the make-up of the car, but we do know customers will have the option of an array of petrol and diesel turbos, These engines will most likely be taken from the Polo and Golf models of Skoda’s parent company. There will also be an eco-friendly version of the car available, and this will apparently emit less than 100g/km of CO2.

If Skoda is to compete in the compact family car range, then you can expect the A-Entry to have a price-tag that is reasonable and affordable for families. With the Fabia currently costing around £10,000 and the Octavia costing in the region of £14,000, it seems reasonable to expect that the A-Entry will cost somewhere around the £12,000 mark when it is finally released in 2013.

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Sunday October 23rd, 2011 20:38 Volkswagen Beetle Set for Spring 2012 Release

Next spring will see the latest version of the iconic Volkswagen Beetle hit the roads of the United Kingdom. The famous German car manufacturer has now opened orders on the new Beetle, and it will cost consumers upwards of £16,490.

In recent years, the Beetle has been regarded by many as nothing more than a fashion accessory to those who know nothing about cars. However, with a press release titled “Less Flower, More Power”, it seems that Volkswagen is looking for the car to be taken more seriously.

At the Beetle’s launch, Volkswagen is offering buyers the option of two different engines – a 1.4-litre TSI engine with a six-speed manual or a 1.2-litre TSI engine with a seven-speed DSG gearbox.

There will be three levels of trim available for the Beetle, and these are the entry-level Beetle trim, the Design trim and the Sport trim. Entry-level Beetles are fitted with air-conditioning, CD player, DAB radio and a central locking system.

Those who opt for the Design trim will also benefit from 17-inch alloys, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, Fogs, a DAB radio, as well as body-coloured dashboard trim.

Costing £21,220, the most expensive range-topping Sport model will include 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, parking sensors and fancy sports seats.

That won’t be the end of things for the latest version of the Beetle though, as later in 2012 Volkswagen will be adding three new choices of engines for the car. These will be a 1.6-litre TDI Bluemotion Technology model, a 2.0-litre TDI and a 2.0-litre TSI unit. The 2.0-litre TSI unit will have an impressive 197bhp.

The Volkswagen Beetle is available to order now, with deliveries taking place in the spring of 2012.

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Thursday October 20th, 2011 21:55 Mercedes to Release A-Class Cabriolet Convertible

 

It has been announced that Mercedes will be releasing a convertible version of the A-Class. Although there is no date set for the release of the car, it will follow on from the release of both the three and five-door variants of the A-Class. With that in mind, expect to see the A-Class at some time next year.

It is hoped that the release of the A-Class convertible will enable Mercedes to beat off competition from its rivals to claim the number one spot in terms of sales for premium car manufacturers.

Mercedes CEO Dr Dieter Zetsche, speaking at the launch of the B-Class, announced that there would be five new compact cars in production in the near future. Joining the A-Class Cabriolet will be the B-Class, the A-Class hatchback, an SUV and a four-door coupe.

It is far too early for any performance statistics regarding the new A-Class convertible, but we do know that it will use a front-wheel-drive platform that improves handling and smoothness of drive with a multi-link rear suspension. The suspicion at the moment is that the convertible will be fitted with a lighter and more cost-effective fabric roof. In terms of look, it is expected to take inspiration from the Mercedes-Benz Concept A-Class as pictured above.

Mercedes fans should also be enthused by the news that there will also be a four-wheel-drive AMG in the A-Class range. Expected to be released in 2014, the AMG version will be equipped with a 2.0-litre twin-turbo engine capable of producing in the region of 350bhp. With the release of these cars in the next few years, it is sure to be an exciting time for Mercedes enthusiasts everywhere.

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Wednesday October 19th, 2011 20:08 BMW Prepares 3 Series for 2012 Release

BMW has revealed that its new 3 Series range will be displayed in public for the first time at the Detroit Motor Show in January. However, UK customers will have to wait another month before the cars actually go on sale.

The German car manufacturers are already claiming that its direct market rival to the Audi A4 and the Mercedes C-Class is a better drive. BMW also claims that it is not only more comfortable and spacious than its market rivals, but is also lighter.

In addition to petrol and diesel models, BMW are offering full hybrid and four-wheel-drive models for the first time.

The entry-level 316d ES will cost upwards of £24,880, while the 335i will cost customers £35,525.

All engines in the 3 series will be turbocharged, and this will make for some pretty impressive performance statistics. The 328i, powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine will go from 0-62mph in just 5.9 seconds. The top of the range 335i, powered by a 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine, allowing it to run an impressive 302bhp. This power means that the 335i is capable of going from 0-62mph in just 5.5 seconds, and has a top speed of 155mph.

Drivers looking to buy something more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly should perhaps look toward the 320d Efficient Dynamics. Powered by a 161bhp, 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, it manages 68.9mpg while emitting just 109g/km of CO2. This emissions rate means that it will be tax-free in the first year.

BMW expects to have eight versions of the 3 series on sale by March 2012 that have emissions under 120g/km of CO2. The ActiveHybrid 3 will be released towards the end of 2012. For now though, BMW enthusiasts should look towards the Detroit Motor Show for a closer look at the new 3 Series.

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