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.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Toyota's twin GT86 wins most popular sports car award

The Toyota GT86 has run rings around the competition to set the pace in the 2013 honestjohn.co.uk awards.

The thoroughbred sports coupe has been named the popular motoring website’s Most Popular Sports Car of the year, the latest in succession of accolades it has gathered since being launched in 2012

Dan Harrison, honestjohn.co.uk editor said: “The GT86 has fought off some tough and very established competition to win the hearts of our readers. It’s affordable, distinctive and fun to drive – it’s no surprise it’s been such a smash hit on the site.”

Unlike many other honours, the honestjohn.co.uk awards are not determined by expert judges. Instead they are based on the number of page views each of its car reviews attracts in the course of the year. The fact the site has around 1.5 million visits every month makes it a good gauge of public tastes and opinions.

The GT86 was developed as a car that’s all about the pure joy of driving, combining inspiration from Toyota’s sports car heritage with modern engineering and design. The result is a sleek, low-slung 2+2 coupe with a finely balanced chassis. In classic sports car style, a front-mounted, normally aspirated 197bhp 2.0-litre “boxer” engine drives the rear wheels. Adding standard tyres – the same as those used on the Toyota Prius – adds to the car’s great handling character.

As well good looks and rewarding performance, GT86 comes at an accessible price too: the range starts at £24,995.

Customers wanting to add authentic sports parts to their GT86 can specify the new TRD model, equipped with a range of official Toyota Racing Development styling and performance accessories. All versions are available with either six-speed manual or automatic transmission.

Honda takes award @ Honest John ceremony

The new Honda CR-V is following hot in the footsteps of its predecessor as it’s named the ‘Most Popular 4x4’ by expert motoring website honestjohn.co.uk. The new CR-V takes the accolade in the 2013 honours list - a year after the previous generation took the top spot - to reinforce the popularity of this British built car.

Reliable, capable, spacious, versatile and comfortable, these are just some of the qualities that highlight why the CR-V has sold over 5 million models globally since it was first introduced in 1995. The wraps came off the new fourth-generation CR-V in summer 2012 to reveal a comprehensively redesigned and re-engineered model with practicality, refinement, efficiency and quality remaining at the core. Prices range from £21,505 OTR for the entry-level 2.0 i-VTEC S 2WD to £30,965 for the top-of-the-range 2.2 i-DTEC EX 4WD variant which comes loaded with goodies such as satellite navigation, keyless entry and power tailgate.

The CR-V is also the next model in the Honda line-up to receive the new efficient Earth Dreams Technology 1.6 i-DTEC diesel engine. Unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show the CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC will be available in two-wheel drive with manual transmission featuring CO2 emissions of only 119g/km*. This new derivative will arrive in dealerships this Autumn.

The honestjohn.co.uk awards aren’t awarded by judges or a panel, instead they come from the best experts of all: the website users. The main awards recognise and reward the cars and vans that users search for most on the site. Put simply, the reviews which create the most interest amonghonestjohn.co.uk users are the winners. The data to measure this is taken from Google Analytics and calculates the number of page views each review has had over the previous 12 months from April 2012 to April 2013.

Dan Harrison, editor of honestjohn.co.uk commented; “The 2012 Honda CR-V picks up where its predecessor left off – the previous generation model won this award last year and impressively the latest version has picked up the 2013 award. Refined and upmarket it has all the qualities to be a big seller in the SUV market and as our figures prove, users of honestjohn.co.uk are certainly showing plenty of interest. The addition of the new 1.6 i-DTEC engine will surely only increase its appeal.”

Merc collects its award in the back of its winner

The new Mercedes-Benz Citan only made its debut in March and with the first vehicles made available recently the small van has already scooped its first award at this year’s Honestjohn.co.uk Awards as Most Popular Van, held at Guanabara, Parker Street, London.

Dan Harrison, Editor of honestjohn.co.uk said: “Honest John Vans was only launched in February 2013, but it's already proved a huge success, exceeding expectations when it comes to website traffic. Like the main site, it's centred around useful and user-friendly reviews which give potential buyers all the key information they need. The review which has stood head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to our users is the new Citan. This is the first ever small van from Mercedes-Benz and it feels a cut above the competition in terms of quality and refinement. It's proved very popular on the site and with the new Sprinter coming soon it looks to be a busy year for Mercedes-Benz vans.”

The Honestjohn.co.uk Awards are voted for by users of the website. The Citan has had a successful start with sales beginning in March 2013.

Top award for Hyundai @ honest john awards

  • The Hyundai ix35 wins honestjohn.co.uk’s Most Popular Crossover and overall Car of the Year 2013
  • Hyundai i800 is the Most Rated Car by users of the Honest John website

The ix35 was honoured in the third year of the awards that recognise and reward the cars and vans that the honestjohn.co.uk users search for most on the site.  The i800 popular people carrier also hits the mark as the Most Rated Car with the most owners’ reviews.

Dan Harrison, editor, honestjohn.co.uk said: “Hyundai is a brand that's on the way up and shows no signs of slowing down. Every month there seems to be something new from the Korean brand and every model is better than the last. The last few years have seen huge steps forward in quality and refinement along with brand image. So it's no surprise to us that Hyundai proves so popular on honestjohn.co.uk.

“And it's the impressive ix35 that leads the way. It may have been on sale since 2010 but it's still proving hugely popular in the site. Not only does it win the 2013 award for Most Popular Crossover, beating last year's winner the Skoda Yeti, but it wins the main accolade of the night – Car Of The Year. This makes it THE most popular review on honestjohn.co.uk in the last 12 months.

“It's not hard to see why either. Good looking, comfortable and well built, the ix35 – like all Hyundai models – also comes with a five-year unlimited mileage warranty. If you're spending your own hard earned cash on a car, the ix35 makes a very strong case for itself.

“To top it off Hyundai also wins our Most Rated Car Award with the practical i800 people carrier. This award is different from our main awards - it goes to the car with the most owners reviews on honestjohn.co.uk. It may not seem an obvious winner but it's clear that i800 owners love it with resoundingly positive reviews. We've never seen so many stars!”

The ix35 − currently the oldest product in the Hyundai range and built at Hyundai’s European Nosovice plant in the Czech Republic − is a strong performer in the Hyundai portfolio with sales up 31% in the first quarter of this year.  It was the third best-selling Hyundai vehicle in the UK in 2012 with over 11,000 units sold and the second best seller in Europe.

Tony Whitehorn, President & CEO said: “To receive these awards is a testament to how far the Hyundai brand has come in the last five years. The revitalization of our brand began with the launch of the new ix35 back in 2010 and it is this investment in new products which has been integral to consumers reappraising the Hyundai brand.  Ensuring that we continue to deliver to the expectations of our customers is key to the continued growth of our business. This recognition from honestjohn.co.uk shows that our products fit the needs and requirements expected of today’s consumers.

The time a winner for VW

The up! claimed the award for Most Popular City Car, the new Golf took the accolade for Most Popular Small Family Car while the Golf Cabriolet was name Most Popular Convertible.  Commenting on Volkswagen’s achievements, Dan Harrison, editor of honestjohn.co.uk, said: ‘It’s no mean feat to pick up three separate accolades at the honestjohn.co.uk awards but it just goes to show how popular the Volkswagen brand is among our users.  With such strong product that’s no surprise.  We really rate the excellent up! and so do our users as it proved the most popular city car – a new category we’ve introduced for this year.

‘Then there’s the new Golf.  It’s pretty much a faultless family hatchback and has once again set the quality standard in its market.  The Golf review only went live on the site at the beginning of the year so that makes the achievement of being the most popular small family car in the 2013 awards even more impressive, especially as it outperformed last year’s winner, the Ford Focus.’

He added: ‘Another new category for 2013 was the Most Popular Convertible and once again a Golf came out on top – this time the Golf Cabriolet.  There may not have been a soft-top Golf for nine years but that hasn’t diminished its popularity as this award shows.  Stylish, refined and surprisingly practical, its appeal has found plenty of favour with our users.’

The winners of the awards are determined by the users of the honestjohn.co.uk website and recognise the ‘most searched for’ cars and vans on the site.  The honestjohn.co.uk website was set-up in 2000 to help consumers with comprehensive advice on buying, selling and running cars.  Since then Honest John himself has answered more than 625,000 questions.

This brings to five the number of awards won by the new Golf hatchback this month, following the car’s success at the Telegraph Motoring and DieselCar magazine earlier in May.  The Golf is also currently both European and World Car of the Year.  For more details, please visit www.volkswagen.co.uk.

Three times a winner for Ford

Ford has scooped three top wins at this year’s Honest John Awards, with new Fiesta crowned “Most Popular Small Hatchback” and for the second year running Mondeo and C-MAX named “Most Popular Large Family Car” and “Most Popular MPV” respectively.

This year’s third Honest John Awards are split into 14 main categories from “City Car” to “Sports Car”. The awards are not determined by judges or a panel, but instead are decided by honestjohn.co.uk website users.  The cars that fans search for most on the site and are therefore of most interest, are declared the winners.

Dan Harrison, editor of honestjohn.co.uk, said: “Ford has picked up an impressive haul of trophies at this year's awards, across a wide range of models. Fiesta remains one of the most popular cars on the site thanks to its smart looks and keen running costs. It's a similar story for C-MAX, which so cleverly meets the needs of families. The Mondeo may be in line for replacement soon, but it remains a steadfast favourite on Honestjohn.co.uk.”

Anthony Ireson, Ford Britain marketing director, said:  "We are delighted that the Ford Fiesta, C-MAX and Mondeo are so popular with honestjohn.co.uk website users.  The stylish Fiesta has exciting new technology and is now available with the award winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine.  Mondeo enjoys a new series and powertrain line-up with reduced CO2 emissions, while our versatile and well specified C-MAX Titanium X is proving a hit with retail buyers.  It’s great to see them grabbing the headlines."

Honestjohn.co.uk was set up in 2000 to help consumers with advice on buying, selling and running cars.  Since then “Honest John” himself has answered more than 625,000 questions, with the site receiving around 1.5 million visits per month.

The data to measure customer interest is taken from Google Analytics and calculates the number of page views each review has had over the previous 12 months.

Honest John readers gives award to Jaguar

The Jaguar XF was awarded the title of Most Popular Large Executive Car in the UK at a ceremony in London last night. The award is the third in a very successful fortnight for the Jaguar XF.

Data analysed by the editorial team at honestjohn.co.uk highlights that the XF - the highest-selling model in the Jaguar product range - generated greatest interest in the Executive Car sector among the website’s 1.5 million users over the past 12 months.

Dan Harrison, editor of honestjohn.co.uk commented: “The Jaguar XF has won the Most Popular Large Executive car on honestjohn.co.uk for the second year in a row and that’s no mean feat. It’s had more views than big rivals like the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6. And with a more practical Sportbrake version now on sale its appeal is even wider. It’s been a huge success for Jaguar and that’s reflected in its popularity on our site.”

Jeremy Hicks, Managing Director, Jaguar Land Rover UK, said: “This award from HonestJohn is based solely on the views of the public, which highlights the desire among executive car buyers to own a car that exudes seductive design, innovative technology and sporting performance.  It is a wonderful accolade and follows recent awards for the XF from national newspaper The Daily Telegraph and specialist automotive publication Diesel Car.

“Jaguar is continuing to develop and expand its product line-up. We are delighted to now be delivering the first F-TYPE sports cars to UK customers, and fans of the XF are now eagerly awaiting the launch of the flagship model in that range, the new XFR-S.

Peugeots 2008, a shock, or the continuation of things to come ?

  • Peugeot 2008 Crossover available from £12,995
  • Four trim levels offer a wide choice and high specification
  • Latest diesel and petrol engines offer CO2 from 98g/km
  • Grip Control standard with Allure and Feline models*

The eagerly anticipated new Peugeot 2008 Crossover is now available to order from £12,995 OTR.  With an official UK launch date of July 18th, the 2008 Crossover offers the perfect blend of contemporary styling, efficient low CO2 engines, class leading technology and a versatile cabin design, making it an exciting addition to the wide choice of models in the latest Peugeot range.

The 2008 Crossover range consists of four trim levels: Access+, Active, Allure & Feline.  Building on a product positioning strategy introduced with the 208, the 2008 Crossover has competitive and progressive pricing, with less than a £1,000 walk from an equivalent trim level 208 version, coupled with high levels of specification, offering the customer great value and choice throughout the range.

Range highlights include CO2 from 98g/km, economy up to 74.3 mpg in the Combined Drive Cycle and the new 3 Cylinder VTi 82bhp petrol engine, successfully introduced on 208. The new 2008 Crossover also sees the introduction, as standard, of Grip Control on Allure and Feline models. This system is patented by the PSA Group and optimises traction in poor conditions, along with ‘Mud & Snow’ tyres.

With four badge levels, six engine choices, six alloy wheel designs, seven trim environments, eight colours and 18 options to choose from, customers need only think of one number – 2008!

*available on 9 of the 11 models (all but the 1.2 VTi petrol & diesel 1.6 e-HDi Stop &Start EGC)

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

BMW shows worldwide gains to have record April

  • 155,419 vehicles sold last month, an increase of 6.8%
  • Highest sales in first four months with 603,619 vehicles
  • Strong gains in Asia and the Americas

The BMW Group continued on its successful course in April with an increase of 6.8% in sales. A total of 155,419 (prev. yr. 145,541) BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce vehicles were sold worldwide last month. Over the past four months the number of deliveries climbed 5.7% to a new all-time high of 603,619 vehicles (prev. yr. 571,084).

“We have achieved our most successful April worldwide sales ever, despite the current weakness of some car markets in Europe. We reported a growth of 2.8% in Europe last month and made strong gains in Asia and the Americas. This momentum in worldwide sales will continue as we add new vehicles throughout the year to our very attractive product line-up, such as the new BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo”, said Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management, Sales and Marketing BMW, in Munich on Monday.

Worldwide sales of BMW brand vehicles climbed 7.5% to 130,598 (prev. yr. 121,507) in the month under review. Demand for the BMW X1 remained strong with 11,837 vehicles delivered in April, an increase of 14.8% over the same month last year (10,310). The BMW 3 Series also reported strong gains with a total of 38,491 vehicles delivered to customers, an increase of 16.0% compared to last year (33,192). The BMW 3 Series Touring contributed to this growth, with 8,358 units delivered last month, an increase of 104.6% on the previous year (4,085). The BMW 5 Series reaffirmed its position as segment leader, with 29,955 units delivered last month (prev. yr. 26,770/ +11.9%). Growth was further driven by the BMW 6 Series which was delivered to 2,200 customers worldwide in April (prev. yr. 1,559/ +41.1%). A total of 512,000 BMW vehicles (prev. yr. 478,069) have been delivered to customers worldwide since the start of the year – an increase of 7.1%.

MINI: With 24,581 vehicles delivered in April, worldwide sales for MINI increased by 3.3% (prev. yr. 23,794). In the month under review, MINI achieved solid growth in retail sales in some of its key markets such as Great Britain/Ireland (3,393/ +43.6%), and China (2,038/ +7.0%). The new MINI Paceman has had a successful start with around 1,500 vehicles delivered to customers since its launch in mid-March. Year-to-date, MINI sales are around last year’s level with 90,737 units sold in the first four months (prev. yr. 92,005/ -1.4%).

BMW Motorrad also achieved an increase in sales in April. Deliveries climbed 11.5% to reach a total of 14,587 (prev. yr. 13,088) vehicles. Year-to-date, 39,319 BMW motorcycles have been delivered, an increase of 5.0% (prev. yr. 37,461).

The BMW Group made gains on nearly all continents in the month under review. The company achieved robust sales in Asia with 43,872 vehicles delivered (prev. yr. 39,769/ +10.3%). China accounted for 30,311 deliveries, an increase of 11.4% over the same month last year (prev. yr. 27,197) in China.

Sales were solid in The Americas with 36,547 vehicles delivered in April (prev. yr. 32,705/ +11.7%). In the U.S., 29,011 vehicles were delivered in April which reflects an increase of +8.3% over the same month last year (26,793).

In Europe, sales increased by 2.8% to 69,957 vehicles (prev. yr. 68,070). Several markets attained solid growth in April, for example Belgium/Luxembourg (4,499/ +13.9%) and Russia (3,489/ +7.5%).

The new Peugeot 308 - evolutionary rather than revolutionary

  • First official images of completely new compact family hatchback
  • Stunning exterior design that builds on the new design language of Peugeot
  • Radical new cockpit-style cabin features premium materials, exceptional build quality and a clean button-less interior
  • Range of highly efficient petrol and diesel engines for enhanced driving
  • Class-leading emissions from as low as 85g/km
  • New EMP2 modular platform contributes greatly to a 140kg weight saving
  • World debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September

Peugeot has today released first images of the New 308, a car launched to revitalise the brand’s position in the ultra-competitive, compact family hatchback segment.

A striking and contemporary design
“The new Peugeot 308 has a pure and technological exterior design that speaks of high strength and high quality,” says Gilles Vidal, Design Director, Peugeot.

With its compact length of 4.25 metres and well-balanced proportions, the New Peugeot 308 projects a classy and sophisticated presence. The front is dominated by an evolutionary reinterpretation of the brand’s ‘floating’ front grille, and by the strong lighting signature. Slim full-LED headlamps are standard on the majority of trim levels and a world-first in the segment. The high quality of design continues at the rear, with the three Peugeot (lion) ‘claws’ drawn by the rear LED lamps.

A refined and high-technology interior
“When inside the car, one discovers a world of refined style, completely original in the world of hatchback cars, with a cockpit that is intense, innovative and intuitive; it is the Peugeot i-cockpit,” says Vincent Devos, New 308 Product Manager, Peugeot.

Peugeot’s design and engineering teams have developed the interior of the New 308 around the concept of the i-cockpit. Everything is arranged for an experience that is intuitive, relaxing the driver to focus entirely on the road ahead. The compact steering wheel and head-up instrument layout mean that information can be clearly read easily and safely, looking over rather than through the wheel.

The highlight of the New 308’s generously spaced cabin is the 9.7-inch touch-screen interface, which removes much of the need for physical buttons and switches. Setting a new size standard for the class, it brings together many of the infotainment controls in one place, for ease of use and to create a contemporary and uncluttered cabin.

Advanced new modular platform for an outstanding driving experience
“On the road, driving pleasure is enhanced by the new EMP2 modular platform. With its considerable reduction in weight, it contributes to the dynamism and easy handling of the New Peugeot 308,” says Laurent Declerck, New 308 Project Director, Peugeot.

The driving experience of the New Peugeot 308 draws on the brand’s expertise in suspension and steering, and takes them to a new high due to the benefits of the new EMP2 platform.

Development of this new PSA Group architecture has resulted in 116 patent applications and contributes towards the vehicle’s excellent dynamic qualities. It also plays a key role in the car’s considerable weight reduction, by an average of 140kg compared to the current generation Peugeot 308.

Breakthrough engineering has allowed many of the vehicle’s major units to be reduced in size – also cutting overall weight – leading to significant reductions in CO2 emissions. As a result, this new Peugeot 308 establishes an environmental benchmark, with one model offering CO2 emissions as low as 85g/km.

Outstanding quality from bumper to bumper
The New Peugeot 308 is the latest evidence of the brand’s move up-market. It’s an initiative started several years ago and seen most recently with the 208 and 2008. The initial design brief of the New 308 had the highest levels of quality at its core. This ambition has guided the designers and engineers from the very start of the project.

Every element, both inside and outside, has been developed and refined with exceptional attention to detail. The choice of high quality interior materials and the satin chrome or gloss black detailing add to the feeling of sophistication and maturity in the car’s design and assembly. The New Peugeot 308 will be built at the Sochaux plant in France. The Trémery and Douvrin sites will supply all of the power units.

The 308 story will continue…
The New Peugeot 308 will make its world premiere at the Frankfurt Motor Show on 10th September 2013, when more information about this innovative new model will be released. Sales will start shortly afterwards in mainland Europe and from January 2014 in the UK.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Jaguar previews its entry into the 2013 Mille Miglia

  • Jaguar previews its entry into the 2013 Mille Miglia with short film featuring David Gandy, Yasmin Le Bon, Norman Dewis and Alex Buncombe: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEkckuR8E-k&feature=youtu.be
  • Jaguar Heritage Racing enters three C-Type and three XK120 classic cars into famous event
  • Jaguar 'Bloodline' of sports cars to be celebrated with new F-TYPE joining the 1,000 mile tour 

(MAHWAH, N.J.)  - May 10, 2013- Jaguar has curated a unique team of drivers for its Jaguar Heritage Racing entry into this year's Mille Miglia classic car tour. Taking the seats of outstanding examples of Jaguar C-Type and XK120 heritage race cars will be six-time Olympic cycling Champion Sir Chris Hoy, global supermodel David Gandy, Le Mans 24 Hours race winner Andy Wallace, Chairman & CEO of 20th Century Fox Jim Gianopulos - who will drive with a film industry colleague, German actress Hannah Herzsprung, Italian Salvatore Ferragamo Jr., fashion icon Yasmin Le Bon and Michael Quinn, the grandson of Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons.

This exciting list of classic car enthusiasts will be led by Jaguar Heritage Racing's own multiple race winner Alex Buncombe and motoring journalist Chris Harris, who will link up for the event in a Jaguar C-Type once owned by former Formula 1 Champion Juan Manuel Fangio.

The Mille Miglia is the pinnacle of classic motorsport, and the competitive event in 1952 saw Jaguar debut the disc brake on its C-Type sports car, piloted then by Jaguar Chief Development Engineer Norman Dewis and Formula 1 legend Sir Stirling Moss. Norman Dewis was with some of the 2013 Jaguar Heritage Racing team at Goodwood Motor Circuit this week, in a driver training session which was captured on film and now available to view and share at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEkckuR8E-k&feature=youtu.be

The line-up of three C-Type race cars and three XK120s will be followed on the majority of the driving route by five new Jaguar F-TYPE sports cars.

Jaguar Regional Director for Europe Bernard Kuhnt - who will drive with Hannah Herzsprung in the event  said: "Jaguar's 1952 entry into the Mille Miglia was hugely significant in the evolution of Jaguar products. Seductive design, intelligent performance and technological innovation were features of all Jaguar sports cars in the 1950s and 60s and they are prevalent in the incredible new F-TYPE. I am delighted that the Jaguar sports car 'bloodline' will be together in this great race and that such an exciting list of individuals will come together to celebrate the occasion and drive our cars."

Jaguar Land Rover, builds new test facility in Dubai.

Jaguar Land Rover today further enhanced its Middle East test programme by opening a new engineering test centre in Dubai, UAE, to conduct extreme hot weather vehicle research, development and testing.

With temperatures in the desert typically reaching 48 to 50 degrees Celsius in the summer months, the new 11,120 sq. ft. facility in the Al Barsha area of Dubai, UAE will offer a comprehensive range of tests including durability, calibration and hot weather testing for heat and humidity. The engineering team at the new centre, which replaces a smaller facility in Dubai, will also test powertrains, chassis and heat and ventilation systems, as well as the off-road and sand driving capability of Land Rover’s unique Terrain Response system.

Jaguar Land Rover has a network of five global test facilities: Nurburgring, Germany; Arjeplog, Sweden; Phoenix and International Falls, USA, and Dubai, UAE.

Jaguar Land Rover Director of Engineering Technical Services Martyn Hollingsworth said: “Jaguar Land Rover has ambitious plans for growth, and since 2008 we have been investing to enhance our engineering capability to help us deliver an unprecedented number of new and refreshed Jaguar and Land Rover models.”

He continued: “Our new facility in Dubai is four times the size of the previous test centre and will enable us to enhance our testing of future products and technologies.  The engineering team is focused on the quality and durability of our products and an important part of this is rigorous environmental testing of our vehicles to ensure they can withstand even the harshest conditions.”

Robin Colgan, Managing Director Jaguar Land Rover MENA (Middle East and North Africa) added: “We are delighted at the expansion of Jaguar Land Rover’s test facilities in the Middle East. Dubai offers some unique and very challenging environmental conditions, so if a vehicle passes our tests here we know it will perform in any hot weather environment.  The new facility will be crucial to the company’s continued success as every model for the European and MENA markets will be certified here in Dubai following thorough testing before going into global production.”

BMW to treat customers with further disrespect ?

BMW has started the national roll-out of a ‘BMW Genius’ programme at UK dealerships following a highly successful pilot scheme in 2012. Each BMW Genius will be steeped in the increasingly sophisticated technologies and personalisation options available from BMW to help guide customers through every step of the ordering, buying, test drive and handover process, and will be on call to help with any subsequent queries or service updates.
Feedback from the pilot programme, conducted at 10 BMW dealerships who collectively employed 14 Geniuses, produced an extremely high level of customer satisfaction. Customers highly rated BMW Geniuses for their product knowledge, ability to explain the features and functionality of the model range and their willingness to meet individual needs.
The BMW Geniuses will initially work alongside existing sales executives and business managers.

New buying challenges prompted Genius concept
BMW pioneered the increasing personalisation of cars in recognition of the fact there is no longer any such thing as “one size fits all”. Some of the sophisticated technologies and options now offered on a BMW have multiple uses and the potentially hidden gems of these systems can really be brought to the fore with the help of BMW Geniuses. They can demonstrate and explain technologies such as EfficientDynamnics, alternative drive systems, ConnectedDrive, xDrive, mobile solutions and Head-up Display, either one-to-one or at workshops and customer events. The focus is always on the individuality of each customer. The BMW Genius programme also removes the “sales pressure” element from initial contact with customers. 
The BMW Geniuses have a youthful and flexible attitude, are tech-savvy and able to communicate how things work and how customers can get the best from them. They are keen on cars, but not necessarily from a motor industry background. They can be identified by BMW Genius polo shirts, and will use modern communication tools such as Virtual Product Presentation – enabling customers to build the model they intend to buy in 3-D on a 47-inch screen – linked to an iPad app for configuring cars.
Kevin Davidson, Dealer Development Director, said: “The BMW Genius programme has proved that BMW offers its customers the most up-to-date, forward thinking way of engaging with them on a level they’ll feel comfortable with. Buying a new car is a huge decision for anyone so having highly knowledgeable people alongside our existing professional staff in increasing numbers of dealers across the country is a large positive step forward.”
Some 30 BMW dealers already have BMW Geniuses in place now with more than 100 dealers planning to have the highly trained staff in place by the end of 2013. Priority will go to those who will be involved at the start of the introduction of BMW i, the company’s alternative powertrain sub-brand. New starters are being sought on www.bmwretailjobs.co.uk

VW produces another stunning concept at Worthersee

The Golf GTI Cabrio Austria with 333 PS is doubly significant: not only is it the first time Volkswagen apprentices have designed a cabriolet for the annual GTI Festival at Lake Wörthersee in Austria, it is also the first time that apprentices from Wolfsburg and Osnabrück have collaborated on a joint project. Thirteen apprentices from four professions have successfully built a two-seater in red and white, the national colours of the host country, which has been shown to GTI fans from across the world this week.

Automotive mechatronics technicians, vehicle interior fitters, technical model makers and paint technicians collaborated for a year, from early sketches to a world premiere in Kärnten, Austria. The four women and nine men, aged from 17 to 23, redesigned a standard Golf GTI Cabriolet to their own specification.  In this case, the 2.0-litre engine produces 333 PS.

The apprentices produced their red and white colour concept with special attention to detail both inside and outside the vehicle: they chose Oryx White mother-of-pearl effect for the Cabriolet, with Flash Red stripes bordering the bonnet left and right, and on the vehicle’s sides.  The exterior mirrors are painted red, as are the brake callipers.  The apprentices further customised the vehicle’s interior, with details including black-red-white Recaro sports seats with red ‘Austria’ embroidering and red and white decorative trim, and white GTI lettering on the doors.  The honeycomb mesh and air vent frames, the accented stitching on the leather steering wheel and the DSG gearbox’s boot are also red, as are the seat belts.  Even the floor mats have red bordering.

‘I’ve learned a lot about project work, and how important team work is,’ said the trainee automotive mechatronics technician Kevin Hoffmann when speaking about his time as a member of the Wörthersee team.  Together with his colleague René Eichenlaub, he swapped the Cabrio’s rear seats for a sound system with 11 loud speakers with 2,250 watt output.

The apprentices chosen for the team are among the best in their classes.  Under the guidance of Project Manager Holger Schülke (Wolfsburg) and trainer Reinhard Bosse (Osnabrück), they planned the vehicle concept and created project plans.  The young people selected diverse components from the Volkswagen Group’s range and negotiated with suppliers.  The apprentices presented milestones of their ‘Wörthersee Project’ to members of the Board of Management and liaised with experts across the company.  As a finishing touch, they christened their dream GTI Cabrio ‘Austria’.

Projects such as the Golf GTI Cabrio Austria allow Volkswagen to give its best apprentices an opportunity to extend their knowledge.  The ‘Austria’ is the sixth apprentice-created GTI to celebrate its world premiere at Wörthersee.

MG supports Women's cycling with a bonus race

MG’s crack women’s cycling team will be fighting it out in a bonus race for fans of Britain’s biggest growing sport.

Changes to the 2013 racing calendar mean that the MG Maxifuel Pro Cycling team women will now be racing in Redditch on June 4 which coincides with one of the biggest events in the men’s racing schedule. So Midlands fans will get top see both squads in action.

MG Maxifuel team principal, Rod Freeman, said: “The women’s race in the top Johnson Health Tech Grand Prix Series had to be re-arranged and moved to Redditch, but it’s a real bonus for us and Midland fans.

“One of the top men’s races is on the same night so the MG Maxifuel team will be out in force. With these being the closest races to the MG factory in Birmingham we expect to get lots of local support.”

The MG Maxifuel Pro Cycling team is currently third in the British Racing Road & Track rankings in which several hundred of Britain’s top teams are listed.

This weekend the men take on one of the toughest races in the British Cycling Premier championships in Lincoln. More than 160 of the UK’s top riders, including some of the 2012 British Olympic team, will tackle the 102 mile University of Lincoln Grand Prix on Sunday.

They will fight it out over 13 laps of a course that takes the riders through the heart of Lincoln’s tourist area including the cathedral and castle.

The sting in the tale of the Lincoln event is the 1in 6 Michaelgate Hill in the city centre. Apart from the sheer steepness of the incline, the roadway is also cobbled and can be treacherous in the wet.

But the MG Maxifuel team, which includes two MG6 GT support cars, is confident it will emerge with further points to add to this season’s tally.

New Limited Edition Beetle hits UK shores, but be very quick

  • Just 100 Beetle GSR models will be offered in the UK, with 3,500 worldwide

For the first time, UK Volkswagen Beetle fans can order the legendary GSR model, some 40 years after the original Beetle GSR made its debut in the European market.

Unveiled earlier in 2013 at the Chicago Auto Show, the Beetle GSR has a unique design and powerful 210 PS turbocharged engine.  A real limited edition, just 3,500 of these cars will be made worldwide, and 100 of them are being offered to UK customers.  The GSR has a legendary predecessor, the ‘Yellow-Black Racer’ which was based on the Beetle 1303 S and made its debut 40 years ago [NB ‘GSR’ stands for ‘Gelb-Schwarze Renner’ in German, which means ‘Gold-Black Racer’].  Only 3,500 of the original model were produced as well.

Volkswagen has re-interpreted the concept of the 1970’s GSR for the modern era.  Just like the GSR from days gone by, the body of the new version is yellow.  The bonnet and the bootlid of the 1973 Beetle were painted in matt black, as were the bumpers, while black trim strips underneath the side windows and black/yellow side stripes above the door sills rounded off the look.  Now, yellow and black are the link between old and new – the bonnet and the bootlid of the new Beetle GSR are black once again, and this time so are the roof and the exterior mirror trims.  Black/yellow stripes with ‘GSR’ lettering ensure a unique silhouette above the side sills.  Yellow painted bumpers in new R-Line design and a larger than standard yellow and black rear spoiler complete the GSR look.  Unlike the older Beetle – and for those who prefer something a little more subtle – the new Beetle GSR can also be ordered in Platinum Grey and Black.

While the 1973 GSR came with 15-inch steel wheels with 175 size tyres, the latest model features 19-inch ‘Tornado’ alloy wheels with 235/40 tyres.  The black/yellow interior of the GSR from days gone by featured a leather sports steering wheel and sports seats.  Four decades later, customers demand more, and the GSR comes with R-Line racing seats (with fabric covers and contrasting yellow stitching), a high-grip leather sports steering wheel (also with contrasting yellow stitching) and a badge with the car’s special-edition number (1 to 3,500).  The car also boasts an R-Line dash pad, GSR gear stick, leather handbrake lever gaiter and black floor mats with contrasting yellow embroidery.

Forty years ago, the yellow/black Beetle needed just 50 PS to turn the world of compact cars on its head.  These days, it takes somewhat more than that to make headlines, and with its 2.0-litre turbocharged 210 PS engine the GSR needs just 7.3 seconds to accelerate to 62 mph.  It has a top speed of 142 mph, 280 Nm of torque from 1,700 rpm to 5,200 rpm, and is expected to return a combined fuel economy of 38.7 mpg with CO2 emissions of 169 g/km.  The new Beetle GSR can be ordered with either a six-speed manual or DSG gearbox.  The manual Beetle GSR costs £24,900 (OTR RRP) with a £1,500 premium for DSG.  The car is available to order now with first deliveries expected in September.

Customers who don’t manage to secure one of the UK’s 100 Beetle GSR models can still get their hands on a faster Beetle: all 2.0-litre TSI models factory ordered from 1 May come with the upgraded engine, offering 210 PS, rather than the previous model’s 200 PS.