I will try my best to provide detailed info on various cars and what is like to live with them, I have already produced a few for Jaguar-car-forums, I will do my best to be unbiased, but it will be hard for some cars. I will re-produce press releases and copy from other motoring news.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Jaguar wins yet another award

  • Jaguar F-TYPE declared 2013 World Car Design of the Year
  • Award collected by Adrian Hallmark, Global Brand Director, Jaguar
  • Award announced and presented at the New York International Auto Show
  • A total of 43 cars considered for the 2013 World Car Design of the Year award

The Jaguar F-TYPE has today been declared the 2013 World Car Design of the Year.

Ian Callum, Director of Design, Jaguar, said: "No design project has given me greater pleasure than the creation of the F-TYPE. It's a project I've looked forward to from the moment I joined Jaguar, and it's one that's given my team and I great satisfaction. The F-TYPE is a sports car that is true to Jaguar's design values – beauty of line and purity of form – and I'm honoured that the World Car of the Year jury has recognised our work with this award."

Some 43 cars were considered for the award, this selection being reduced to a shortlist by an advisory panel of design experts* before final consideration by the 66 World Car of the Year jury members.

On the F-TYPE, the advisory panel said: “The long wheelbase, short overhangs and flared fenders give this car a good stance. The contour in plan view tapered toward the door emphasises the muscular rear fender that houses the driven wheels.

“The F-TYPE exterior maintains Jaguar’s own elegance in its horizontal proportion and rounded surfaces, yet it looks very dynamic. But I would like to say the interior design is even more attractive. It is clearly driver-oriented, and a grip bar for the passenger is nicely integrated into the big centre console. The seat design is superb, too.”

The award was collected by Adrian Hallmark, Global Brand Director, Jaguar, at the New York International Auto Show. Commenting from the show, he said: “The F-TYPE is the first full-blooded Jaguar sports car to be launched for more than 50 years.  Its architecture and technology are world class, wrapped in an evocative and progressive design that could only be a Jaguar – ‘Callum unfiltered’, as we call it in-house. It is as dynamic yet refined as any Jaguar sports car should be, and is a unique proposition from a performance and price perspective. This combination of factors has clearly inspired this year's jurors, and we are delighted and honoured to collect this award.”

Happy Birthday Plant Oxford.... 100 years old.

Today a centenary exhibition was opened in the new Visitor Centre at MINI Plant Oxford by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Harald Krueger, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, to mark this major industrial milestone. One hundred years ago to the day, the first ‘Bullnose’ Morris Oxford was built by William Morris just a few hundred metres from where the modern MINI plant stands.

With a weekly production of just 20 vehicles in 1913, the business grew rapidly and over the century 11.65 million cars were produced, bearing 13 different British brands and one Japanese. Almost 500, 000 people have worked at the plant in the past 100 years and in the early 1960s numbers peaked at 28,000. Today, Plant Oxford employs 3,700 associates who manufacture up to 900 MINIs every day.

Congratulating the plant on its historic milestone, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "The Government is working closely with the automotive industry so that it continues to compete and thrive in the global race and the success of MINI around the world stands as a fine example of British manufacturing at its best. The substantial contribution which the Oxford plant has made to the local area and the British economy over the last 100 years is something we should be proud of."

Over the years an array of famous cars were produced including the Morris Minor, the Mini, the Morris Marina, the Princess, the Austin Maestro and today’s MINI. At various stages in its history, the plant also built Tiger Moth aircraft, ambulances, parachutes and iron lungs.

William Morris, later Lord Nuffield, was one of the country’s most generous philanthropists and could be considered as the Bill Gates of his time donating gifts estimated to be the equivalent of £11 billion at today’s values. He manufactured iron lungs at the plant and donated them to local hospitals, and he founded Nuffield Health, Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust and Nuffield College at Oxford University.

Today, Plant Oxford is the heart of MINI production with the manufacture of the MINI Hatch, Convertible, Clubman, Clubvan, Roadster and Coupé. While visiting the plant, Mr McLoughlin viewed the new bodyshop and some of the 1,000 new robots being installed in this facility. It represents the lion’s share of BMW Group’s £750 million UK investment programme, preparing the company’s manufacturing facilities for the next generation MINI.

Commenting on the future of the plant, Mr McLoughlin said: Commenting on the future of the plant, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “A thriving automotive sector is central to this Government's commitmenttodriving economic growth.  By creating jobs and exporting British-made products to global markets, MINI is sending a clear message that this country is open for business. These celebrations are not just an occasion to recognise MINI's distinguished heritage, but a chance to look forward to the vital contribution it will continue to make to manufacturing in Oxford and the UK as a whole.”

Today’s celebrations at MINI are not just an occasion to look back with nostalgia on past achievements, but an opportunity to recognise the vitally important contribution that manufacturing will continue to make to the UK’s economic future.”

The Oxford plant has a long history of export success and generated many billions of pounds in exports revenues for the UK with Morris products accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the nation’s total exports by the mid 1930s. Plant Oxford’s export record is equally impressive today with no less than 1.7 million MINIs having been exported to over 100 countries since 2001 and the plans for the future are for further expansion.

Harald Krueger said: “We have ambitious growth plans for MINI and are now preparing for the launch of the next generation of the MINI family. We will grow the model range in the coming years and our volume expectations in the medium term will see MINI reaching well beyond the current 300,000 annual car sales worldwide.”

Among the special guests attending the opening of the exhibition was former employee Eric Lord who celebrated his 93rd birthday today having worked at the plant from when he was 20 years old in 1940 to his retirement in 1979.

Key facts

  • The Oxford Plant’s first car was a Bullnose Morris, produced on 28 March 1913
  • Total car production stands at 11,655,000 and counting
  • Over 2,250, 000 MINIs built so far
  • Plant has long history of export success – Morris products accounted for nearly 30 per cent of the UK’s total exports in the mid-1930s not just vehicle exports
  • 1.7 million new MINIs have been exported since its launch in 2001 to 107 different countries from Chile to China
  • 20 cars were built each week in 1913 – 4,500 cars per week in 2013
  • Scores of models under 14 different car brands (MG, Wolseley, Riley, Austin, Austin Healey Sprite, Mini, Princess, Triumph, Rover, Vanden Plas, Sterling, MINI) including one Japanese (Honda) produced at plant
  • Almost 500,000 people have worked at the plant over past 100 years – peak employment during the early 1960s when 28,000 people were employed
  • Today, Plant Oxford employs 3,700 associates
  • Iron lungs, Tiger Moth aircraft, parachutes, gliders and jerry cans also produced at the plant besides completing 80,000 repairs on Spitfires and Hurricanes
  • Eight custodians of the plant over past 100 years – the founder, William Morris, owned factory directly and then through Morris Motors until 1952 – he died in 1963)
  • Peak production year was 1967/68 with 326,818 cars
  • Highest volume production model was the Morris Minor - 1,583,619 vehicles produced
  • 602,817 Classic Minis were produced at Oxford in 10 years of production,
  • Three Issigonis designed cars achieved sales of over 1,000,000, Morris Minor, Mini and Austin 11/1300.
  • To celebrate 1,000,000 Morris Minors 350 cars were produced with lilac paintwork, white interior trim and badged 1,000,000 Minor, the year 1961
  • Oxford became the first UK car plant to produce 1,000,000 vehicles in 1939
  • William Morris, later Lord Nuffield, was one of the country’s most generous philanthropists and the Bill Gates of his time donating gifts estimated to be the equivalent of £11 billion at today’s values - he donated iron lungs manufactured at the plant to local hospitals, and founded Nuffield Health, Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust and Nuffield College at Oxford University
  • Only three colours were available for fthe irst three years of Oxford built Mini in 1959 - Clipper Blue, Cherry Red and Old English White.
  • The two millionth new MINI was driven off the Oxford production line by Prime Minister David Cameron in August 2011
  • The principal part of BMW Group £750m investment for the next generation MINI being spent on new facilities in Oxford – 1,000 new robots have already been commissioned in the plant’s body shop.

Kia's concept CUB is so cute you could cuddle it

  • Global premiere of all-new CUB compact four-door coupe concept
  • Comfortable four-seater cabin appeals to trend-setting urban dwellers
  • Rearward-opening rear doors ensure excellent cabin access 

Kia Motors sprang a major surprise on visitors to the 9th Seoul International Motor Show on Thursday in Korea with the world premiere of its all-new ‘CUB’ concept.

Designed at the Kia headquarters studio in Seoul, under the direction of President and Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer, the CUB is less than four metres long, has rearward-opening rear doors and an ‘access-all-areas’ interior concept without traditional B-pillars, providing excellent access to the luxuriously trimmed cabin.

“The new Kia CUB is a compact, four-door coupe created with a clear focus on driving performance and practicality,” comments Thomas Oh, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Kia Motors Corporation.  “Styled to appeal to trend-setting urban dwellers, the CUB features a comfortable four-seater cabin which generates an emotional, feel-good response and delivers everyday, real-world benefits.”

The exterior styling of the CUB highlights that it is both sleek and small, with a cheerful face and a daring character.  Design features created by Peter Schreyer for the 2007 Kia Kee 2+2 concept are revisited in a new form.  The CUB’s nose has a broad wrap-around ‘mouth’ and there is a ‘dip’ in the top of the windshield – a motif that is featured on Optima, Sportage and cee’d models.  The latest interpretation of grille is a shallower design incorporating the turbocharger’s air intake, highlighted in body colour.

The headlamps feature two-point LED lights – similar to those which first appeared on the Kia Quoris large flagship sedan last year.  Large 19-inch alloy wheels fill the wheelarches and the front doors have aerodynamic ‘turning-vanes’ at sill level to streamline and add definition the CUB’s flanks.

At the rear, LED tail lights complete the premium feel of the exterior and the nose treatment derived from Kia’s Kee concept car is replicated at the tail to accentuate the width of the vehicle.

The super-smooth exterior, with its flush glazing, minimum-drag wing mirrors and automatic touch-type door handles, promises ultra-low aerodynamic drag.  A two-colour paint finish with sporty stripe hints at the CUB’s high-performance potential, while the car’s broad track gives it an imposing stance.

Four-seater luxury cabin

With four individual seats, the CUB’s interior presents a unique ambience.  The cabin creates the sensation of a luxurious coupe and is trimmed in black leather with yellow colour accents around the seats, door armrests and steering wheel.

The instrument cluster design is inspired by the eyes of a wild animal. The centre-stack design is minimalist with an air vent controlled by touch sensor. For extra safety, the steering wheel rim is capable of monitoring the driver’s biorhythms.

As well as a steering-wheel, there is a DIS (Driving Information System) controller connected to a gesture camera which provides easier operation while driving. With well-defined motions, drivers can set up each menu on the centre display. Hinting at the high-performance nature of the CUB, there is a footrest provided in the front passenger footwell.

Turbocharged 204 ps engine

The CUB powertrain features a new version of the company’s 1.6-litre GDi (Gasoline Direct injection) engine – recently confirmed as the powerunit for the new Kia pro_cee’d GT and cee’d GT sold in Europe.

Fitted with a twin-scroll turbocharger and strengthened internal components, the new engine generates 51 per cent more power (204 ps) and 60 per cent more torque (265 Nm) than the regular 1.6-litre unit.  This engine enables both of Kia’s European GT models, with a six-speed manual transmission, to accelerate to 62mph in 7.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 143mph.

At present there are no plans to put the Kia CUB concept into volume production.

The Nissan LEAF, now made in Britain.

  • 100% electric LEAF goes into production at Nissan Sunderland Plant
  • Improved model with more than 100 updates, longer range and quicker charging
  • Announcement represents £420m investment in UK battery and LEAF production
  • Production to support more than 2,000 jobs in the UK automotive industry
  • UK Government thanked for continuing support and investment

Nissan is today celebrating the dawn of a bold new era in European car manufacturing with the official start of production of the new and improved, 100% electric Nissan LEAF.

This new Nissan LEAF, incorporating more than 100 updates, is now rolling off the line at the company’s record-breaking Sunderland Plant,using advanced lithium-ion batteries manufactured in Nissan’s new UK Battery Plant.

Today marks the culmination of four years of preparation at the plant and a previously announced £420m investment by Nissan. Together the Battery Plant and Nissan LEAF production aresupporting jobs for more than 2,000 people in the UK car industry, including more than 500 directly at Nissan.

Nissan’s continuing innovation means the world’s best-selling electric vehicle is now even better. The new LEAF for 2013 has more than 100 updates aimed at making Nissan’s zero-emissions technology accessible to even more European drivers, includingan increased driving range of 199km (124 miles) and the ability to recharge in half the time of the first-generation LEAF.

UK Prime Minister,the Rt. Hon. David Cameron said: "Nissan's record breaking year last year is a success story for UK volume car manufacturing and demonstrates how our automotive industry is competing and thriving in the global race. I warmly welcome the production of the new electric LEAF model and battery plant at Sunderland. This £420 million investment, backed by Government, is supporting over 2,000 jobs in our automotive sector including more than 500 at Nissan in Sunderland, helping people in the area who want to work hard and get on.

"The Government has committed £400 million to make the UK a leading market for ultra low carbon vehicles. Nissan's announcement shows the confidence the company has in the skills-base and the business environment in the UK and that the UK is open for business."

This historic launch event comes as Nissan Sunderland Plant celebrates making more than seven million units since its opening in 1986. Last year it produced 510,572 vehicles and so became the first UK car factory ever to make more than half a million cars in one year.

Nissan’s Executive Vice President Andy Palmer celebrated the official start of electric vehicle production with the 6,100 staff now employed on site. “Today’s announcement progresses Nissan’s unwavering commitment to zero emissions motoring.

“The Nissan LEAF is our most technically advanced car yet and the launch of this new model, built along with its batteries in Sunderland, is a huge boost not only for the plant but for British manufacturing. We have been showing that you can operate a world-beating plant in the UK for almost 30 years and the construction of the Battery Plant is a vote of confidence in the country’s ability to support high-technology manufacturing.”

“We could not have reached this point without the support and commitment we have enjoyed from Governments across Europe, especially the British Government, who are backing the car industry on manufacturing and charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.  I would also like to once again place on record our thanks to our many partners and their strong belief in zero-emissions motoring.”

With more than 55,000 Nissan LEAFs on the world’s roads today, and with two years of real-world zero emissions experience behind it, today’s announcement marks the start of an exciting chapter for Nissan. The Nissan LEAF is now built in three locations worldwide: Sunderland, UK; Smyrna, Tennessee, USA; and Oppama, Japan.

The launch of three new grades, new interior trim, the addition of Nissan’s Around View Monitor technology and new suspension settings specifically tailored for European roads build on the LEAF’s unique driving experience. This new package givescustomers in Europe a second generation zero-emissions car, before most companies have even launched their first electric vehicle.

Integrated on the same line as the best-selling Nissan Qashqai, the new LEAF is a major milestone in Nissan's global zero-emission leadership. In just 12 months, Nissan has increased the number of dealers selling the LEAF from 200 to 1,400 and the number of charging points in Europe has grown from 12,000 to more than 20,000, proving that electric vehicles are becoming increasingly attractive.

The new Nissan LEAF soon will be joined by all-electric versions of the award-winning NV200, to be called e-NV200, in both light commercial van and five-seat combi versions. Development of a dedicated EV taxi based on the e-NV200 is also underway. An Infiniti EV is expected in 2015.

Bentley wows the Americans with new and revised models

  • Stylish new Flying Spur makes North American debut
  • Flagship Mulsanne shows off luxurious 2014 model year enhancements
  • New models and double-digit growth pave way for continued sales momentum in the Americas

The new Bentley Flying Spur, the world’s most refined performance sedan, makes its North American debut at the New York International Auto Show today.

“We’re excited to show the new Flying Spur in one of Bentley’s most important markets in the world – New York,” said Christophe Georges, President and COO, Bentley Motors, Inc.

“The Flying Spur meets the desires of our customers perfectly and is a car only Bentley could make – timeless design inside and out, ultimate material quality, attention to detail, class leading refinement, and effortless performance.”

Establishing a new luxury sedan benchmark

With its unrivalled blend of effortless driveability, exquisite luxury and craftsmanship, sculpted design and state-of-the-art technology, the new Flying Spur takes the worldwide success of its iconic predecessor further.

Bentley’s styling team has developed an athletic design for the new Flying Spur that combines traditional Bentley styling cues with a sporting stance and contemporary details. Sharp feature lines complement muscular rear haunches, while LED day-time running lights, dipped headlights and taillights complement the front and rear profiles. The interior designers have created a luxurious, spacious cabin that dresses advanced acoustic and electronic technologies in exquisite hand-crafted leather hides and wood veneers.

Driver and passengers alike interface with the car and the outside world through touch-screen infotainment, mobile connectivity including Wi-Fi, a Rear Seat Entertainment suite and a new bespoke hand-held Touch Screen Remote which allows rear-cabin occupants to control an extensive range of features from the comfort of their seat. An eight-channel, eight-speaker audio system with Balanced Mode Radiators provide high quality sound clarity, with the 1100W Naim® for Bentley premium system available as an option.

Powering the new Flying Spur is Bentley’s renowned 6.0-litre, twin turbo W12 engine, coupled to a ZF eight-speed transmission. Developing 616 horsepower and 590 pound feet of torque, the new Flying Spur features more power than any other Bentley four-door in history. A 14 per cent improvement in the power-to-weight ratio over the outgoing model delivers a breath-taking 0-60 mph time of 4.3 seconds and a top-speed of 200 mph. In the modern Bentley tradition, power is delivered to the road via all-wheel drive with a 40:60 rear-biased torque split for a sure-footed, engaging drive in all road and weather conditions.

The new Flying Spur has a base MSRP of $200,500. Commissioning is available now with arrivals to begin during the second quarter.

Bentley Mulsanne: the pinnacle of British luxury motoring

Bentley’s showcase of luxury, performance and technology continues with the North American debut of an enhanced specification for the flagship Mulsanne sedan. A range of new luxury features have been added to the Mulsanne and are on display for the first time in North America, offering a new suite of entertainment and communication system options.

An Entertainment Specification incorporates the latest in technological developments, with picnic tables designed for an iPad and wireless keyboard and the cabin of the Mulsanne becoming a Wi-Fi Hotspot.

A new Comfort Specification, including comfort headrests, footrests and duck down filled loose cushions has been introduced to reaffirm Mulsanne’s reputation as a truly bespoke grand tourer.

Additional enhancements include privacy curtains, which promise to broaden the experience for the Mulsanne rear cabin occupants, allowing them to maximise work or rest as they travel.  

Other additions include three new paint options, extending the Mulsanne palette, and new bespoke fitted luggage.

Building on the Momentum of Success

The introduction of the new Flying Spur comes on the heels of a successful 2012 in which US sales were up 23% to 2,315 cars. Globally, the company achieved growth of 22% with 8,510 cars delivered to customers.  The United States remains the number one market for Bentley worldwide and the region expects to continue to achieve double digit growth in 2013.

In 2013, the new Flying Spur and enhanced Mulsanne will be joined by the all-new Continental GT Speed Convertible, creating the strongest Bentley model line-up ever.

Chevy launches revised Camero.......

Chevrolet today introduced the restyled 2014 Camaro line at the New York Auto Show, including the return of the Z/28, the most iconic model in Camaro history.

The 2014 Camaro models feature a revised exterior design that integrates high-performance aerodynamics for more efficient cooling and stability at high speeds. The new Camaro Z/28 also features a full aerodynamics package that creates downforce at speed, which helps make it the most track-capable offering in Camaro’s history.

“As the ultimate track-capable Camaro, this car restores the mission of the original Z/28, and serves as a testament to the expertise of Chevrolet as the best-selling brand of performance cars,” said Mark Reuss, president, GM North America. “The build sheet is the wish list of any racer: lightweight, high-revving, dry-sump LS7 engine; carbon-ceramic brakes; integrated coolers for track use; true aerodynamic downforce, and a significant reduction in kerb weight. This car could only come from Chevrolet, and could only be called the Z/28.”

The first Camaro Z/28 was introduced in 1967, created to compete in the Sports Car Club of America's Trans-Am 2 class. It featured a smaller, lighter, 302-cubic-inch V8 for improved weight balance, as well as quick-ratio steering and a heavy-duty suspension for track use. In keeping with its road-racing focus, the 1968 Camaro Z/28 was not available with an automatic transmission or air conditioning.

While the new Camaro Z/28 is not intended to compete in a specific race series, it is solely focused on track capability. In initial testing, the Camaro Z/28 is three seconds faster per lap than the Camaro ZL1. That extra speed comes from three areas:

Increased grip: The Z/28 is capable of 1.05 g in cornering acceleration, due to comprehensive chassis revisions
Increased stopping power: the Z/28 features Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes capable of 1.5 g in deceleration, and consistent brake feel, lap after lap
Reduced kerb weight: The naturally aspirated Z/28 weighs 300 pounds less than the supercharged Camaro ZL1, with changes ranging from lightweight wheels to thinner rear-window glass
Like the original, the 2014 Camaro Z/28 is offered only with a manual transmission. In a nod to modern convenience, air-conditioning is available, but only as an option.

"We set out to make the fastest road-racing Camaro possible that was still street-legal,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “While the Camaro ZL1 offers exceptional performance on the street, the drag strip, and the track, the Z/28 is entirely focused on the track performance. The Z/28 will be too track-focused for most drivers, but offers road-racers one of the most capable track cars ever offered from an automaker.”

The new 2014 Camaro line  will arrive at Chevrolet dealers later in 2013. The Camaro Z/28 is expected to be appearing at track events across the United States in spring 2014.

High-performance aerodynamics highlight changes for 2014 Camaro

The 2014 Camaro represents the most significant redesign since the introduction of the fifth-generation Camaro as a concept car in 2006.

“The 2014 Camaro is our opportunity to apply what we have learned listening to our customers, and our continuing development of high-performance models,” said Tom Peters, Camaro exterior design director. “We look for solutions that are both functional and beautiful so that the result is genuine Chevrolet – simple, powerful, honest, and more than expected.”

Compared to the previous model, the design represents a strong visual change front and rear, resulting in a wider, lower, more contemporary appearance. The front fascia features a wider lower opening, and a narrower upper opening that also updates the appearance of the iconic “halo ring” HID headlamps on the Camaro RS package.  The functional bonnetd vent on the Camaro SS helps reduce heat and aerodynamic lift. Moving to the rear, the sculptural decklid, horizontal lamps and diffuser complete the powerful statement.

The Camaro Z/28 also features a full aerodynamic package designed to produce downforce at track speeds. At the front, the Z/28 features a large splitter, connected to an underbody panel that further reduces lift. In profile, the Z/28 features fender flares over the front and rear wheels, as well as extended rocker panels that contribute to aerodynamic stability. An aggressive rear spoiler and functional diffuser complete the aerodynamic package.

On the interior, the Camaro Z/28 features trim in a distinctive, matte-metallic finish named Octane, the ZL1 flat-bottomed steering wheel, and standard Recaro seats with microfibre suede inserts. The new seats (also available on the coupe versions of the SS and ZL1 models), feature aggressive bolsters for high-performance driving, as well as seat cutouts inspired by the five-point harnesses found on racing seats. To save weight, both front seats incorporate manual adjustment.

The rear seats of the Z/28 have also been modified for weight reduction. A total of 9 pounds (4 kilograms) was saved by eliminating the seat-back pass through, as well as using high-density foam in place of the rigid structure of the seat back and steel mesh of the seat bottom.

“Unlike the Ford Mustang Boss 302, we felt it was important to keep the 2+2 configuration of the Camaro Z/28 as Chevrolet already has a world-class two-seat sports car in the Corvette,” said Oppenheiser.  “By modifying the construction of the rear seat, we were able to reduce the overall weight of the Z/28 while still preserving the flexibility of 2+2 seating.”

7.0L, LS7 the heart of the Camaro Z/28’s track-capable performance

Like the original, the new Camaro Z/28 forgoes ultimate horsepower and torque for improved weight balance and track performance.

In 1967, the most-powerful engine available in a factory Camaro was a 396 cid V8 with 375 horsepower. To prepare the Camaro Z/28 for road racing, engineers specified a lighter, 302 cid V8, officially rated at 290 horsepower. While the 302 was not the choice for drag racers, it proved ideal for sports-car racing.

Today, the most-powerful engine offered is the Camaro ZL1’s supercharged 6.2L LSA, which delivers 580 horsepower. The heart of the 2014 Camaro Z/28 is the lighter, naturally aspirated 7.0L LS7 first introduced in the Corvette Z06.

“The LS7 is ideal for road racing because it delivers amazing performance in a compact, lightweight package,” said Jordan Lee, Small Block chief engineer and program manager. “The broad torque curve and high redline of the LS7 mean fewer shifts are required for each lap, while the lightweight design improves the front-to-rear weight balance for better handling.”

Co-developed with Corvette Racing, the hand-assembled 7.0L (427 cid) V8 uses a number of high-performance components, including:

Titanium intake valves and connecting rods, and sodium-filled exhaust valves
CNC-ported aluminum cylinder heads
Forged-steel crankshaft and main bearing caps
High-lift camshaft
Hydroformed exhaust headers
11.0:1 compression ratio, and a 7,000 rpm redline.
10.5-quart, dry-sump oiling system
For the Camaro Z/28, the LS7 features unique induction and exhaust systems, and delivers at least 500 horsepower (373 kW) and 470 lb-ft of torque (637 Nm).

The racing-style, cold-air induction system and large K&N air filter provide maximum air flow.

The standard dual mode exhaust system and larger-diameter pipes enable improved air flow. By bypassing the silencers during acceleration, the system increases both the torque and sound generated by the LS7 engine.

The Camaro Z/28 is exclusively offered with a Tremec TR6060 manual transmission. The six-speed features close-ratio gearing and 3.91:1 final drive ratio, both optimised for the power characteristics of the LS7.

Power is distributed to the rear wheels via a limited-slip differential featuring a helical gear set, rather than traditional clutch packs. The new design enables the driver to apply more power and get through corners faster, by continuously adjusting the torque bias to maximise available traction.

The differential works in unison with Chevrolet’s proprietary Performance Traction Management system, which allows drivers to adjust the level of throttle and brake intervention to match their capability and driving environment.

Unlike some competitors’ “track package” offerings, the Camaro Z/28 makes standard all the cooling systems required for track use. This includes the dry-sump oiling system for the LS7, which is connected to an integral liquid-to-liquid cooling system for engine oil.

A second liquid-to-liquid system provides cooling for the transmission and differential. This system pumps overcooled transmission fluid to a heat exchanger in the rear differential before traveling to the transmission. This reduces differential temperatures as much as 100 degrees F.

Camaro Z/28 chassis delivers 1.05 g in cornering grip

The singular focus of the Camaro Z/28 is most evident in the chassis, where the most has been made of every component for track use, from the ultra-high performance tyres to race-proven dampers.

“We used the very best components in the industry to deliver uncompromised performance, lap after lap,” said Mark Stielow, Camaro Z/28 engineering manager. “We made nearly 200 changes to improve the track performance, which cumulatively make the Z/28 capable of 1.05 g in cornering. For perspective, with all other things, equal increasing maximum grip from 1 to 1.05 g can cut up to four seconds per lap.”

The Camaro Z/28 is the one of the first production cars fitted with race-proven, spool-valve dampers. Compared to a conventional damper that offers only two-way tuning for bump and rebound, a spool-valve damper allows four-way adjustment to precisely tune both bump and rebound settings for high-speed and low-speed wheel motions. The wider tuning range allowed engineers to dramatically increase the damper stiffness on the Camaro Z/28 without a significant change in ride quality. Additional chassis changes include stiffer string rates and suspension bushings for improved cornering response.

The Camaro Z/28 features 19-inch diameter wheels and tyres, which reduce unsprung weight by 42 pounds (19 kilograms) per car compared to the 20-inch wheels standard on Camaro SS and ZL1. In addition, the smaller diameter wheels lower the center of gravity by 33 millimeters, further improving handling.

At all four corners, the lightweight, forged aluminum wheels are wrapped in massive 305/30ZR19 tyres. This is the first production application of ultra-high performance Pirelli PZero Trofeo R tyres, and believed to be the widest front tire on any production car.

To fully exploit the grip of the Pirelli tyres, the Camaro Z/28 also features Brembo Carbon Ceramic Matrix™ rotors and fixed, monoblock calipers. The large 394 x 36 mm front rotors are paired with six-piston calipers, while the 390 x 32 mm rear rotors are paired four-piston calipers. Compared to similar-size, two-piece steel rotors, the lightweight carbon discs save 28 pounds (12.5 kilograms) per car.

The combination of tyre grip and braking power enable the Camaro Z/28 to achieve up to 1.5 g in deceleration. With standard front brake cooling ducts, the Z/28 is also capable of continuous track use unmatched brake feel, lap after lap.

“What makes the Z/28 so addictive is it inspires confidence through every section on the track,” said Stielow. “The incredible, balanced performance helps you carry much more speed through every corner: the brakes are so good you can adjust your braking points later and later; the grip and suspension damping allows you to carry more speed through the apex; and then the limited slip allows you to make the most of the LS7 as you power out of the corner.”

Extensive lightweighting saved 300 pounds over the Camaro ZL1

To optimize the track performance of the Camaro Z/28, the engineering team subjected it to an intensive lightweighting program, saving 100 pounds (45 kilograms) compared to the naturally aspirated Camaro SS and 300 pounds (136 kilograms) to the supercharged Camaro ZL1.

“We looked at every subsystem for opportunities to save weight,” said Oppenheiser. “Our goal was to get rid of everything that didn’t make the car faster, and keep only what was required by law. For example, we wanted to eliminate the audio system completely, but we had to keep a single speaker for the seat-belt chime to meet safety requirements.”

Other examples of weight savings include:

1.    Eliminated the tire-inflator kit, except for Rhode Island and New Hampshire, where it is required by law

2.    Removed interior sound deadener, and carpeting from the trunk

3.    Replaced the standard LN4 battery with a smaller, lightweight, LN3 battery

4.    Specified thinner, 3.2-mm glass for the rear window, compared to 3.5-mm glass on the standard Camaro

5.    HID headlamps and foglights are not available

6.    Air conditioning is only available as a stand-alone option

“The team was so fanatical about saving weight, we even stripped the unused wiring out of the harness when we eliminated the fog lights, speakers, and air conditioning,” said Oppenheiser. “Every ounce saved contributed to making this the most track-capable Camaro we have ever built, and a worthy successor to the Z/28 name.”

Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4.5 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design, and high quality.

New Kia SOUL, loses its looks but gans better driving dynamics

  • New Soul inspired by the 2012 Track’ster concept car
  • More fun, funky and functional than ever
  • Improved driving dynamics
  • High levels of premium features and infotainment available
  • Stiffer, longer and wider chassis
  • More refined from improvements to NVH levels
  • Increased interior space
  • European specifications to be announced in first half of 2014

Kia Motors has today unveiled an all-new version of Soul, its iconic urban crossover, at the 113th New York International Auto Show.

The signature Soul design is instantly recognisable yet thoroughly fresh, with more than a passing nod to the hot Track’ster concept that was unveiled in Chicago last year.  Riding on a new chassis that is stiffer, longer and wider, the all-new Soul has grown up without losing its edge, allowing for more passenger and luggage room while reducing levels of noise, vibration and harshness.

Increased torque and significant suspension upgrades make the 2014 Soul a nimble and agile companion in congested urban environments.  Honouring Soul owners’ fierce individualism, three unique trim levels will be available when U.S. sales are expected to begin in the third quarter of this year: Base, Plus and Exclaim.  Pricing will be announced closer to the Soul’s launch date.  The release dates for mainland Europe and the United Kingdom have yet to be confirmed although an on sale date in the first half of 2014 is anticipated.

“When the first Soul was introduced in 2009, everyone at Kia believed we had a hit on our hands, but we didn’t realise how big that hit was going to be,” said Michael Sprague, Executive Vice-President of Marketing and Communications at Kia Motors America (KMA). “The Soul moved the needle significantly from a sales and marketing perspective, becoming one of our top-selling cars in the U.S. and inspiring the now-legendary Hamster commercials. It was important that the all-new Soul remain true to the original iconic design while infusing it with improved driving dynamics and desirable features that add appeal, sophistication and value.”

Keeping what made the current Soul special while addressing areas for improvement was no easy task.  As the design team at Kia’s California studio began putting virtual pen to virtual paper, engineers in the U.S. and Korea focused on making Soul a joy to drive. Starting with a solid foundation was a key factor, and the new body enjoys a 28.7 per cent increase in torsional rigidity over the current Soul.

With the hard points set, the all-new Soul was boiled down to three focus areas: Maintaining the iconic design while adding modern cues; providing premium features and content; and improving driving dynamics that would make the 2014 Soul more desirable than ever.

Iconic Design

Well-known for the close link between its concept vehicles and production models, Kia Motors took no chances with the 2014 Soul.  When the wild Track’ster concept made its debut in 2012, Soul enthusiasts and pundits alike urged Kia to turn fantasy into reality.  With 18 months from design freeze to production, the stage was set for the all-new Soul and many of the concept’s dramatic design cues can be found in the production vehicle. Tom Kearns, Chief Designer at the California studio likened the Track’ster to a bulldog and that theme is expressed from almost any angle of the all-new Soul.

“The all-new Soul was one of the more difficult assignments we’ve taken on,” said Kearns. “Striking the right balance between the wonderful design of the current car with the audacious proportions and stance of the Track’ster was daunting.  It proved to be a truly collaborative effort with guidance from Peter Schreyer in Frankfurt and assistance from our studio in Korea. In the end, we’ve kept the essence of Soul while infusing it with more presence inside and out.”

The upright stance, squared shoulders and distinctive flared wings are instantly recognisable as Soul.  Combining a longer 2,570mm wheelbase (up 20mm), overall width that’s broadened to 1,800mm (increased by 15mm) and the same overall height of 1,610mm adds a more aggressive edge to the all-new Soul’s appearance.  Likewise, the wraparound greenhouse, high-mounted tail lights and tall ride height are all hallmark design elements.  Premium touches such as available LED front positioning lights and rear LED “halo” lights help connect Soul to siblings within the Kia line-up that share similar design cues, such as the Sorento SUV.

External Track’ster similarities are easy to spot.  The large trapezoidal lower air intake is nearly a direct carryover of the concept, and the location of the available fog lights – down low and pushed to the leading edges – mirror those found on the Track’ster.  Kia’s signature grille is present, but it’s been reworked to more closely resemble the concept.  Adding a touch of flare, the unique “floating” body colour panel inset into the boot has its roots based in the Track’ster as well.

Subtle enhancements include a wider (by 61mm over the previous Soul) opening for the boot, allowing Soul to carry more.  While final colour names have yet to be determined, the 2014 Soul will be available in seven new exterior hues, including the two seen on stage in New York:  Solar Yellow and Inferno Red.  European specification choices will be announced later.

Overall, the design team paid particular attention to instilling a more premium look and feel to the 2014 Soul’s interior. Liberal applications of soft-touch materials are found on the instrument panel, centre console and door panels. Details such as, on certain versions, leather seating with improved lateral and thigh support, and the use of high-gloss piano-black trim pieces on the centre console and dash elevate the Soul’s interior to new levels of sophistication.

Citing the current Soul interior as a starting point, Kia’s designers played up the circular theme found inside Track’ster.  “With the previous Soul, we kind of dipped our toe in the water when it came to incorporating the circular patterns,” noted Kearns. “But for the all-new Soul, we really wanted to lift as many of the Track’ster’s circular interior reference points as possible.”

Front and centre is the triple-circle instrument cluster with deeply recessed gauges.  Along the door panels, sculpted circles incorporate the power windows and door locks. The centre console features a round gear-shift knob and push-button start – its location exclusive to Soul in the Kia line-up – which also are direct carryovers from Track’ster.

The front door-mounted speakers mirror the circular, high-mounted “floating” tweeters and utilise available LED-string light technology to create ripple-effect red-hued mood lighting.  The steering-wheel mounted controls are housed in Soul-exclusive circular groupings along the lower spokes with the buttons for the audio system and trip computer falling readily to the thumbs, enabling the driver’s hands to remain on the wheel at all times.

“If you think about droplets falling into a still pond, you begin to visualize the inspiration for the all-new Soul’s interior design,” said Kearns.  “The design is organic, like the human body, and we feel it makes the interior that much more appealing to the driver and passengers.”  Taking that appeal a step further is Soul’s desirable list of standard and optional equipment.

A Street Soul Named “Desire”

An attractive package is a let-down if the contents don’t deliver.  Fortunately, the all-new Soul is set to delight right out of the box.  Most prominent in the new instrument panel is the, available on certain versions, eight-inch touch screen – the largest ever offered on Soul – which houses Kia’s second-generation telematics and infotainment system, UVO eServices , combined with Kia’s first use of the Android-based operating platform. Launching with Soul, UVO eServices is now compatible with the iPhone and Android Smartphone.

UVO eServices is optional and takes in-car connectivity and media interplay to the next level, integrating a number of other Kia firsts. Topping that list is the high-definition capacitive touch screen. Its wide viewing angle affords better visibility and allows the user to scroll with the stroke of a finger.  Living side-by-side for the first time in a Kia vehicle, the audio/video and optional navigation controls are viewable on the home screen.  Combining the most accessed ancillary controls on a single screen helps reduce driver distraction and improves overall functionality and ease-of-use.  Additionally, the available larger Supervision Cluster/TFT LCD colour screen found in the instrument binnacle now displays turn-by-turn directions from the navigation system, helping to keep the driver’s eyes looking forward.

Another first is the integration of Pandora internet radio, the revolutionary online radio network that allows the user to customize their listening experience.  Users will no longer manage Pandora through their Smartphone.  Instead, Pandora is preloaded into the headunit and accessible through the touch screen and Voice Command, displaying the artist, title and album cover art as well as allowing the user to conveniently skip songs, “like” the song with Pandora’s thumbs-up rating system, or manage preferred stations.

Arriving with a three month complimentary subscription to SiriusXM™ Data Services and Travel Link, the all-new Soul has access to travel information such as road conditions, weather and security alerts as well as sports scores, movie times, share prices and fuel prices through the screen’s graphical interface and electronic program guide.  Better still, customers will continue to have All Access to both Sirius and XM channels for the price of one should they elect to continue a paid subscription after the three month trial period concludes.

Making all of this available technology easy to use is the industry-first integration of on-screen quick guide videos.  Easily accessed through the touch screen, users have the ability to view instructional videos that highlight all of the features and functionality of UVO eServices along with the Smartphone app and MyUVO.com, including MyPOIs, powered by Google Maps.  Combined, UVO eServices represents one of the most powerful and comprehensive infotainment systems on the market today. Making UVO eServices even more impressive is that there is no cost to the owner.

Technology aside, driver and passengers will enjoy a larger and significantly quieter cabin with incremental increases in front leg room (1,090mm, 20mm more than the current Soul), rear leg room (up 5mm to 993mm), front headroom (increased 5mm to 1,006mm) and front seat shoulder room (up 7mm to 1,410mm).

The all-new Soul also offers a 13mm lower hip point and a step-in height that’s reduced 5mm, allowing for even easier ingress and egress. Overall cargo capacity is increased by 14 litres, to 685 litres.  Liberal use of expansion foam (replacing the previously used block foam) thoroughly fills body cavities, reducing outside wind and road noise.  A reinforced isolation pad in the cargo area and poly-urethane-layered carpet helps reduce overall interior noise levels by approximately three decibels.

The Base Soul comes standard with a long list of features that set it apart from the competition.  Electric windows, central locking, heated and electrically-operated mirrors, a reach and rake adjustable steering wheel and a six-speaker AM/FM/MP3 audio unit are all standard. Bluetooth® hands-free wireless technology, SiriusXM™ satellite radio with three months complimentary service and USB/AUX inputs round out the Base Soul’s impressive audio/infotainment equipment.  Desirable options include remote keyless entry, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control and a six-speed automatic transmission.

The Soul Plus takes a step up in standard and available optional amenities. Attractive 17-inch alloy wheels shod with 215/55R17 tyres, exterior mirror-mounted indicator repeaters, automatic headlights and unique trim on the front wings distinguish the Plus from the Base exterior.  Inside, the Plus benefits include a floor console stowage box with integrated arm rest, UVO eServices, colour reversing camera and rear seat centre arm rest.  Options include navigation, an upgraded Infinity® audio system, ‘string’-LED front speaker surround mood lighting, fog lights, a panoramic sunroof – a Soul first – leather seating with segment-exclusive ventilated front driver and passenger seats, and heated seats for all four outboard positions, a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, leather wrapped and heated steering wheel and a leather-wrapped gear shift knob.

The Soul Exclaim adds to the Plus as standard features 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 235/45R18 tyres, fog lights, body-colour bumper ‘tusks’, projection head lights, front LED positioning lights and rear LED “halo” lights.

Open the door and standard features include a high-gloss piano-black centre console, cooled glove box, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear-shift knob, 10-way power driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment and auto-dimming rear-view mirror.  Optional equipment includes navigation, Infinity audio, front speaker LED mood lighting, panoramic sunroof, leather seating with front driver and passenger ventilation and heating for all four outboard positions.  Supervision Cluster/TFT LCD screen, Xenon head lights, push button start and automatic climate control make the Exclaim the most premium Soul ever.

Improved Driving Dynamics

Built on an all-new chassis that is nearly 29 per cent stiffer than before, the Soul’s stout skeleton provides the base for a vehicle that places a premium on driving dynamics.  Engineers put their efforts in strengthening the body at key connection points along the cowl, upper and lower B-pillars, cross members, and at the C-pillars.  Fully, 66 per cent of the chassis utilises either Ultra High Strength Steel (35 pe rcent) or High Strength Steel (31 per cent).  The A-pillar is 20mm narrower, allowing for improved outward visibility, but through the use of Ultra High Strength Steel, it’s lighter and stronger.  The application of structural adhesive around the door openings and along the roof also helps improve torsional rigidity.

Significant attention has been focused on improving the all-new Soul’s ride and handling through heavily revised front and rear suspension set ups.  The front subframe utilises four bushings (none are used on the current Soul) to reduce ride harshness and impact booms over rough pavement.  The stabilizer bar has been moved rearward on the McPherson strut front suspension, while the steering box has been moved forward, lending better balance and subsequently improved handling.

Relocating the steering box has also yielded benefits to on-centre feel.  The new one-piece steering gear housing is stronger than the two-piece unit used on the current Soul, improving steering response and reducing impacts felt through the wheel.   Optional, in the U.S. market, is a new Flex Steer™ system, which allows the driver to select from three distinct steering settings: Comfort, Normal and Sport.

The shock absorbers on the torsion bar rear suspension have been turned vertically (they were positioned at an angle on the current Soul) and lengthened.  This arrangement allows for more suspension travel, improving ride comfort.

Power for the Base Soul is delivered by a Gasoline Direct injection (GDi) 130-horsepower (at 6,300 rpm) 1.6-litre all-aluminium DOHC four-cylinder engine.  The Gamma engine produces 118 lb/ft. of torque at 4,850 rpm.  The Plus and Exclaim models enjoy the more powerful 2.0-liter Nu power plant.  For the all-new 2014 Soul, the engine is updated with GDi technology. Power is rated at 164 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 151 lb/ft. of torque at a 4,000 rpm.

Both engines have been tuned to provide more low-end torque (nine per cent more torque at 1,500 rpm on the 2.0-litre; five per cent more on 1.6-litre) for an improved around-town driving experience.

The 1.6-litre engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission or, optionally, to a six-speed automatic. The Plus model may be equipped with either transmission while the Exclaim is available exclusively with the six-speed automatic.

Yes Mr Bond, Its a Range Rover Sport

  • Daniel Craig drives the All-New Range Rover Sport in live reveal through New York  
  • Manhattan comes to a standstill as spectacular drive closes down the city’s streets
  • New York is Range Rover Sport’s biggest metropolitan market and the US its best selling country
  • The All-New Range Rover Sport is the fastest, most agile and technology packed Land Rover ever
  • British actor stars in short film by acclaimed Hollywood director Jonathan P. B. Taylor

In a scene reminiscent of a Hollywood movie, actor Daniel Craig revealed the all-new Range Rover Sport as part of a dramatic drive through one of the world’s most dynamic cities.

The fastest, most agile and responsive Land Rover to date was put to the test by the British actor, who was entrusted to deliver the vehicle for its first unveiling to the world.

After skilfully handling the car and driving it through closed off streets, Craig delivered the all-new Range Rover Sport to a packed crowd of guests including Zara Phillips MBE, Jade Jagger and Yasmin Le Bon at the Skylight at Moynihan Stationon 8th Avenue, where the vehicle was officially revealed for the first time.

The dynamic and thrilling drive was filmed as part of a short film titled ‘The Delivery’.  It was broadcast live by Land Rover at www.newrangeroversport.com and saw the British brand stage a global reveal live on the streets of its biggest market.

Directed by action film 2nd unit director Jonathan P B Taylor, lauded for his work on Fast & Furious, Spiderman, Captain America and more recently Die Hard, the film tells the story of a driver tasked with delivering a top secret package.   Starting at the Land Rover manufacturing plant in Solihull, UK, the car is shipped under the cover of darkness in a large container over to Manhattan.  It is then unveiled and driven expertly through the streets of the city, over Manhattan Bridge and through a closed off tunnel, in a bid by its driver, Daniel Craig, to get it to the launch venue on time.  

Craig was attracted to working with Land Rover not only because of his love for the British brand and its vehicles – but also because both he and the brand share a link with the charity S.A.F.E., of which he is a patron. Land Rover, having previously donated a Land Rover Defender to the Kenyan NGO and UK Charity 4 years ago, is delighted to continue its support and is donating an additional vehicle to the charity later this year.

The donated Land Rover will be used by the S.A.F.E. team to assist in accessing hard-to-reach areas to educate, inspire and deliver social change.  Using accessible, mobile street theatre and community programmes, S.A.F.E.’s team of local professional performers educate their communities on an array of issues, from HIV to female circumcision to safe drinking water. S.A.F.E. founder Nick Reding attended the event in New York with Craig to talk about the charity and said: “Land Rover has generously given us a vehicle in the past, and this event is a great global platform for us to reach out and talk about our work. Land Rover is helping us get the message about what we do and why it works out to so many more people around the world than we could usually hope for.”

Speaking ahead of the official world premiere at the New York International Auto Show, Land Rover Global Brand Director John Edwards said:

“The All New Range Rover Sport is an extraordinary car and we have revealed it in an extraordinary way – live on the streets of its biggest selling market. It turned heads and it stopped traffic in one of the world’s most dynamic cities in the world.

The new Range Rover Sport represents a step change in engineering and technology; it is almost half a tonne lighter resulting in significant CO2 savings and its faster, more agile and more dynamic than ever.”

The all-new Range Rover Sport will go on sale during the third quarter of 2013. Full information including the full film ‘The Delivery’ is available to view at www.newrangeroversport.com now.

All-new Range Rover Sport

Developed alongside the highly-acclaimed Range Rover, the all-new Range Rover Sport now delivers the brand’s best-ever on-road dynamics together with class-leading, genuine Land Rover all-terrain capability, while presenting customers with a more assertive and muscular exterior, more luxurious interior and the flexibility provided by the option of occasional 5+2 seating.

Exploiting Land Rover’s breakthrough lightweight suspension design and innovative dynamic chassis technologies, the new Sport’s all-new, first-in-class aluminium architecture achieves a weight saving of over 500kg (comparing four cylinder petrol with current V8 petrol).

Designed and engineered at Land Rover’s development centres in the UK, the new model will be produced in a state-of-the-art low-energy manufacturing facility at Solihull, UK.

The all-new Range Rover Sport will ultimately be introduced in 169 markets worldwide.

Jonathan P B Taylor – 2nd Unit Director

Jonathan Taylor has spent a lifetime in the movie business. Starting in the camera department, he rose quickly through the ranks to become a world-leading Director, specialising in action unit work.  He has worked extensively on over 50 major action movies and has a long-standing partnership with action unit Director, Vic Armstrong – best known for his Indiana Jones and James Bond films.  Since 2009, Jonathan has performed the role of Director and Director of Photography in the action units for all the films Armstrong has worked on.  Jonathan created the storyboard and coordinated the whole Monaco sequence for Iron Man 2, and conceived and directed all the complex action sequences for Captain America. In the recent Die Hard movie, Jonathan ran the complete action unit responsible for all the major set pieces.  Jonathan was also responsible for major action scenes in Fast and Furious, and the iconic ‘fight on the train’ scene in Spiderman.

Vauxhall has gone mental....... AGAIN !

  • VXR8 Tourer available as part of VXR8 range
  • Largest estate car (by load volume) in UK
  • Available with 431PS V8 powerplant…
  • …making it Vauxhall’s most powerful  estate car in its 110-year history

Following the Midlands’ white-out last weekend, the only drifting that occurred in Leicestershire shortly afterwards was generated by a 6.2-litre, 431PS V8 behemoth as it burnt away the remaining snow at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground.

Officially known as the Vauxhall VXR8 Tourer, it’s part of the VXR8 range (which includes the saloon and Maloo pick-up) and is the UK’s largest estate car by load volume, as well as one of the world’s most powerful wagons.

Costing £49,500, the VXR8 Tourer shares the same 431PS powertrain as its VXR8 saloon and Maloo siblings. In performance terms, this translates to a 0-60mph time of 4.9 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. It also makes it the fastest Vauxhall estate the company has ever produced.

Drive is delivered to the rear axle of the VXR8 Tourer via the latest MM10 six-speed manual gearbox with uprated LS7 clutch or a six-speed auto ‘box, each working through a mechanical limited slip differential.

And there’s no better chassis than the VXR8 Tourer’s to cope with this level of performance. Like the VXR8 and Maloo, the Tourer uses MacPherson struts/progressive rate coils at the front and a multi-link independent set-up at the rear. Standard launch control helps drivers make best use of the Tourer’s huge torque during brisk acceleration without unnecessary wheel-spin.

But the VXR8 Tourer is not just about raw performance and a sophisticated chassis. With an 895-litre cargo volume, increasing to 2,000 litres with the rear seats folded down, it becomes the UK’s most capacious load-lugger, and a perfect device for swiftly transporting up to five people and their luggage.

They’ll travel in exceptional comfort, too. Full leather trim is standard and front occupants are cocooned in special HSV Performance Seats with eight-way adjustability. Also standard are 20-inch Pentagon alloy wheels; two-coat metallic paint; Bi-Modal exhaust (controlled via EDI system); Aux-in/USB inputs; iPod support and Bluetooth with phonebook display and touch-screen dialling.

Vauxhall’s EDI, or Enhanced Driver Interface, is carried over from the VXR8 too. EDI connects with the on-board computer to constantly stream real-time vehicle dynamics and performance to the car’s main 5-inch monitor. At the touch of a screen, drivers can access a variety of data such as vehicle G-forces, power, torque and lap times – even the degree at which their VXR8 Tourer is drifting. Completing the clever package is the ability for drivers to download data, such as track day performance, and analyse it using the MOTEC i2 software provided.

Like all Vauxhalls, the VXR8 Tourer is covered by Lifetime Warranty, which offers first owners the peace of mind for as long as they keep the car, up to a maximum mileage of 100,000 miles.

The new R-Design versions of Volvo S60, V60 and XC60

The new R-Design versions of Volvo S60, V60 and XC60 feature an outstanding blend of a renewed sports appearance, a dynamic driving-focused chassis and engine output up to a substantial 329 horsepower with the Polestar performance option.

"The new R-Design models are a perfect match for performance-minded individuals with a passion for exquisite details. In the new S60, V60 and XC60 R-Design, we have turned up the visual volume of these popular models with meticulous attention to detail," says Doug Speck, Senior Vice President Marketing, Sales and Customer Service at Volvo Car Group.

"The S60 and V60 R-Design with lowered R-Design chassis, T6 engine and the optional 19-inch wheels hit all the right notes. Just let the ultra-comfortable new sport seats embrace you while you enjoy the intense driving experience," adds Doug Speck.

Unique new front

All three R-Design cars - including the XC60 - now feature a unique face with a redesigned, dynamic, expressive nose. The frameless Tech Matte Black grille has high-gloss black stripes, a silk metal diagonal and a refined R-Designed emblem. The DRL lights in the outer corners reinforce the low, road-hugging impression.

"The front wheel arches are small design gems that enhance the car's sporty aura. The rounded end of the front bumper ‘wraps' around the dynamic Ixion wheel, which is now available in a redesigned 19-inch version for the S60/V60 and a 20-inch for the XC60," says Fedde Talsma, Design Director, Exterior.

At the rear, the unique diffuser with aero fins is flanked by the round, high-tech R-Design tailpipes.

New generation R-Design interior

The new sport seat comes as standard in the R-Design cars. It features a blend of black Nubuck textile and perforated leather. The embroidered R-design logo with a blue ‘R' confirms the sporty aura. Full leather seats are available as an option in the R-Design and standard on the R-Design Lux.

"With great hugging side support all the way from the thighs to the shoulders, the new sport seat makes a perfect addition to the in-command feel of a true driver's car while the seat retains the traditional comfort that has been a Volvo hallmark for decades," says Doug Speck.

The Adaptive Digital Display features the option to switch between three layouts with different configuration and functionality - Elegance, Eco and Performance. In the R-Design versions, the Elegance theme boasts a radiant blue colour.

The design team has dedicated much attention to all the interior details that emphasise the distinctive R-Design aura.

"By blending inlays with a perforated look, black leather and contrasting stitching, the design team has created an interior with all the details in perfect harmony, crowned by the black headliner. The new stainless steel tread plate with a bright blue ‘R' in the R-Design emblem is another exquisite detail," says Doug Speck.

Sporty ride with up to 329 horsepower

R-Design models can be combined with all the engines available for the standard versions. The range spans from the D2 diesel with 115 horsepower (not available in the XC60) to the 3.0 litre, six cylinder T6 petrol turbo with 304 horsepower and 440 Nm of torque.

The T6 buyer can boost performance to 329 horsepower by opting for the Polestar software that charges the specially designed sport accelerator pedal with an extra 25 hp.

Quicker acceleration

Acceleration times in the T6 version, using the new paddle shift with the automatic gearbox in Sport mode, have been cut in all three cars with 0-62mph now down to 5.9 seconds (previously 6.1) in the S60 T6. The equivalent figure for the V60 T6 is 6.0 seconds (6.2), while the XC60 T6 now covers 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds (7.3).

Lower and firmer chassis

The R-Design Sport chassis has been lowered 15 mm and the spring stiffness is 15 per cent higher compared with the dynamic chassis in the standard S60 and V60. This gives responsive driving pleasure with full control.

"The driving experience should be so connected that it boosts the dynamics without making the chassis feel too raw. If the chassis is too firm, even smooth tarmac can feel bumpy. We aim for a sporting yet luxurious feel," says Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development at Volvo Car Group.

Monotube dampers

The S60 and V60 R-Design feature rear monotube dampers, delivering compression and return damping via the same valve. This gives shorter, faster fluid flow, which in turn means the damper responds more quickly.

Stiffer bushings counteract oscillation, and roll and movements are more controlled. The bushings that attach the rear dampers to the body are 20 per cent stiffer compared with the Dynamic chassis. The front tie-blade bushing is a substantial 400 per cent stiffer to counteract wheel bouncing and shaking.

A strut brace under the bonnet ties together the suspension strut towers to stiffen up the body structure.

The XC60 R-Design chassis is also stiffer than the standard car and has more dynamic driving properties - without compromising ride comfort. The shock absorber springs and anti-roll bars are adjusted and tuned to be firmer and more balanced. The result is improved control and a sportier, road-hugging drive.

Corner Traction Control

Just like in the standard variants, a range of electronic systems that sharpen the sporty driving experience backs up the chassis in the R-Design cars.

Corner Traction Control, which uses torque vectoring to provide smoother cornering, is now also standard on the XC60. The DSTC (Dynamic Stability and Traction Control) system also has several other functions that improve driving and safety properties, such as:

Advanced Stability Control. With a gyroscopic roll-angle sensor the anti-spin system can deploy faster and with greater precision.
Engine Drag Control prevents the wheels from losing their grip during engine braking on a slippery surface.
The DSTC system also has a sports setting that makes it possible for the driver to disable the anti-spin function.

Driver-orientated appeal

The new Volvo S60, V60 and XC60 R-Design will be available in all markets that sell the standard versions of these models. Volvo Cars expects that about 10 per cent of buyers will choose the R-Design version, but this increases to over 30 per cent in some markets such as the United Kingdom and Australia.

"Of the R-Design models, more than half of the volume will be snapped up by buyers who drive other car makes today. These cars also play a vital role in lowering the age of our customer base," says Doug Speck.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Vauxhall's Zafira wins again.

Vauxhall has won the Best Full-Size People Carrier trophy at the Fleet News Awards for its seven-seater Zafira Tourer MPV.

The award was judged by a panel made up of fleet industry experts as well as senior members of the Fleet News editorial team, chaired by former SMMT chief executive Christopher MacGowan and audited by Deloitte.

“Vauxhall invented the compact seven-seat MPV and the Zafira Tourer takes it back to the top,” said Stephen Briers, Fleet News’s Editor-in-chief. “Spacious with lots of storage and innovative, clever seating, the modern look inside and out combines with practicality, competitive pricing, low CO2 and impressive running costs. The Tech Line trim is the icing on the cake – it’s the perfect people carrier for fleets and their company car drivers.”

“We’re absolutely delighted to be recognised at the Fleet News Awards,” said James Taylor, Vauxhall’s Fleet Sales Director.  “The Zafira Tourer is a full-size and exceptionally well-equipped seven-seater and we’re very proud it’s been honoured as the best MPV in its class.”

Vauxhall champions a number of initiatives aimed at fleet customers including a three-day test drive scheme, an industry-leading 100,000 mile lifetime warranty programme and its high spec, low P11D Tech Line trim available on Mokka, Meriva, Astra, Insignia and Zafira Tourer.

This is in addition to ecoFLEX, the best-selling and broadest range of eco-friendly vehicles on sale and a slew of new product launches including the Mokka small SUV, the funky A-sector ADAM and the full-size Cascada convertible.

UK's first 100mph production car

  • Vauxhall 30-98 direct rival to sporting Bentleys during 1920s
  • Fast, durable and lightweight – top speed validated by factory at Brooklands
  • Enduring example of early 1900s’ engineering – nearly 200 cars survive today

The Vauxhall 30-98, one of the greatest sports cars of the twentieth century and the first to top 100mph in production form, is marking its centenary in style this May, when almost 50 surviving examples attempt the Waddington Fell hillclimb, site of the car’s first appearance and competition success in 1913.

Described as ‘The car of grace that sets the pace’, the 30-98 was derived from Vauxhall’s C10 ‘Prince Henry’ – acknowledged as the UK’s first real sports car – and was produced at a time when Vauxhall vied with Bentley in the prestige car market.

But armed with a kerb weight 400kgs less than a Bentley 3.0-Litre, a powerful engine and high axle ratio, the 30-98 became renowned as a high-performance car that could swallow long distances with ease. This made it particularly popular with drivers in the colonies, and explains why so many cars still survive in Australia today.

A precursor to the recently launched Cascada convertible, the 30-98 was actually developed in just 71 days, but went on to spawn a production run of 600 cars over a 14 year period (with a break for WW1). Remarkably, around a third of these cars still survive today.

At a time when car manufacturers promoted the performance, durability and handling of their products through competition, Vauxhall had already been successful in hillclimbs, grands prix and endurance trials since the company was formed in 1903 (now celebrating its 110th anniversary, it’s the UK’s oldest surviving car brand).

And the 30-98 represented the zenith of those achievements. On its first outing at the Waddington Fell hill climb in Lancashire, it set fastest time of the day, proving to the car’s designer, Laurence Pomeroy, and Vauxhall’s directors, Percy Kidner and Leslie Walton, that the car had a future, and production started in earnest.

Originally fitted with a 4,525cc side-valve four cylinder engine, producing 90bhp, the model was made in two basic types: E-type and OE-type, with the latter denoting the more powerful overhead valve cars producing 112bhp, and built between 1923 and 1927.

And it was the OE-type that became the first production car to exceed 100mph, partly prompted by a letter to The Autocar’s editor from a Major L.Ropner, complaining that he was unable to buy a road car that could cover a flying mile at more than 100mph!

Vauxhall responded by producing a stunning two-seater 30-98 for him in polished aluminium, with a full set of road equipment. On March 28, 1923 factory test driver Matt Park took the car to Brooklands and achieved a flying lap at 100.7mph, before delivering the car to Ropner, who used it extensively for competition, continental touring and commuting to London from his home in Yorkshire.

The British motoring press fell in love with the OE-Type 30-98, and in 1923 The Autocar subjected one to an early road test, recording a maximum speed (with standard Velox body and wind-breaking full windscreen) of 82.57mph – no mean feat at a time when most cars were struggling to top 50mph.

The Autocar went on to say: ‘Few cars have such graceful lines yet at once suggest unlimited strength allied to speed…and very, very few can take a corner stiffly with absolute certainty as this one can.’

This year, Vauxhall Motors’ own 1926 OE-Type Velox Tourer (OE268) will join around 50 other 30-98s in Lancashire to celebrate the model’s competition debut at Waddington Fell. Working with the Vauxhall 30-98 Register, local authorities have closed the public road which used to form the course, allowing cars from as far afield as Australia and the US to recreate Higginson’s winning run.

Other events which Vauxhall is supporting as part of the 30-98 centenary include:

Brooklands Double Twelve (June 15-16)
The 30-98 Centenary Run (July 5) – Tour starting at Brooklands and travelling to Vauxhall’s Luton HQ and then on to Millbrook Proving Ground with up to 100 30-98s
CarFest North, Oulton Park (August 2-4)
CarFest South, Laverstoke Park (August 23-25)
‘Thirsty Down Under’ Tour (Oct/Nov) – a three-week tour of Victoria and Tasmania for the thriving 30-98 Register based in Australia
Goodwood has yet to confirm entry of the 30-98 in its centenary year at the Festival of Speed.

Subaru introduces the New Forester to the UK

  • Highly competitive pricing announced for Subaru’s most popular model
  • Fourth generation Forester will feature host of improvements and new technologies

Subaru UK has today confirmed On-The-Road prices for the all new Forester when it goes on sale in May.  The new model will be launched with highly competitive pricing which represents virtual carry over from the outgoing model, despite an array of improvements in safety, refinement and dynamics.

Prices will start at £24,995 for the 2.0D X, rising to £30,995 for the range topping 2.0i XT. (Please see below for a full breakdown of on-the-road prices).

The new, fourth-generation Forester goes on sale across the network in May and will build upon the model’s reputation as a go-anywhere, user-friendly SUV  with improved performance, safety and efficiency and a more spacious and better appointed cabin.

Subaru’s unique Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system remains at the heart of the Forester, while a low centre of gravity and improved body rigidity contribute to improved refinement and a typically engaging drive on the road.

The engine line-up will include 2.0-litre Boxer diesel and petrol units, while Subaru will return to its Forester roots with the introduction of a new 2.0-litre direct injection turbocharged petrol engine, producing 240ps. All the engines have significantly improved CO2 and economy figures over the outgoing model.

Full pricing for the new Forester by model is as follows:

Petrol models

2.0i XE   £25,495
2.0i XE CVT    £26,995
2.0i XE Premium   £27,495
2.0i XE Premium CVT   £28,995
2.0i XT CVT    £30,995

Diesel models

2.0D X   £24,995
2.0D XC   £26,995
2.0D X Premium   £28,995

the evergreen Mazda 3 gets enhancements to extend the current life cycle.

  • Enhanced Mazda3 ‘Venture’ and ‘Sport Nav’ models priced from £17,495 (OTR)
  • New 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors and unique Zeal Red Mica paint finish
  • TomTom navigation, integrated Bluetooth®, climate control air-conditioning as standard
  • Zero deposit with 0% APR Representative finance and monthly payments from £274

From 1 April Mazda is enhancing three of its family-friendly Mazda3 models, at no extra cost to the customer.  Two Venture models, with 1.6-litre petrol or diesel engines, and the 2.2-litre diesel Sport Nav derivative, offer customers significantly added value this spring.

The enhanced Mazda3 trio now has additional equipment such as 17-inch Bright finish alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, Black Mica door mirror housings and new sporty black cloth seat trim with red stitching plus the availability of a new exterior colour, Zeal Red Mica (a £495 option), and seven other colours.

Prices for the enhanced Mazda3 models, which already enjoy an unusually generous standard specification, are unchanged – starting at £17,495 on-the-road (OTR) for the 105ps 1.6-litre Venture petrol model and rising to £18,995 for the 115ps 1.6-litre Venture diesel and to £20,995 for the 185ps 2.2-litre Sport Nav diesel.

“Mazda3 was already a great car and the changes to the three enhanced models bring extra style.  With extra equipment, zero deposit and 0% APR finance, these Mazda3 models will have added appeal to consumers visiting our dealers’ showrooms this spring,”comments Peter Allibon, Sales Director, Mazda UK.

“Made exclusively in Japan, the Mazda3 five-door hatchback was Mazda’s best-selling model worldwide in 2012 and the second-best selling model in the UK, after the compact Mazda2.  The Mazda3 1.6-litre diesel has been hugely popular and the 2.2-litre diesel with 185ps delivers an amazing combination of high performance and low fuel consumption.  It is still one of the highest power C-segment diesel models of any brand available in Britain,” adds Allibon.

In addition to the latest upgrades, the standard specification for the Mazda3 Venture model includes: sports styling, rear spoiler, front fog lamps, privacy glass and a rear bumper sports trim.  Inside, there’s a leather steering wheel with audio controls, CD radio with Auxiliary jack and six speakers, plus TomTom satellite navigation with a 5.8-inch touch screen, integrated Bluetooth® hands-free kit, climate control air-conditioning, electric front and rear windows, automatic lights and wipers, cruise control and heated front sports seats to create a genuine premium car ambience.

As well as its high-performance powertrain, the Mazda3 2.2-litre diesel Sport Nav model has an even more distinctive appearance thanks to its new LED rear lights and added practicality with a heated front windscreen.  With a six-speed manual transmission as standard, this Mazda3 reaches 62mph in just 8.2 seconds, has a top speed of 132mph, records fuel consumption of 52.3mpg (combined cycle) and has a CO2 emissions rating of 142g/km.

Until the end of June 2013, Mazda is offering a great combination of deals on its upgraded Mazda3 models.  Customers can choose 0% APR* finance with zero deposit and low-cost monthly payments from just £274 (Venture) and from £323 (Sport Nav).

Customers buying their new car with a Mazda PCP will also be offered a generous deposit contribution of £1,000 and a loyalty saving, if they already own a Mazda, of £300 with no part-exchange required.