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, 11 October 2013

Lord March announces Goodwood event dates for 2014

Goodwood Festival of Speed and Revival founder Lord March is today (Friday 11 October) able to announce the provisional dates for next year’s two leading sell-out Goodwood motoring events. It should be noted that at this stage the 2014 Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival dates are provisional and remain subject to change, pending ratification by the FIA of the 2014 Formula 1 calendar in December.

The 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed will take place from Thursday 26 June to Sunday 29 June.  The 2014 Festival promises to be packed with action and excitement, as the planet’s most glamorous racing machinery and famous drivers gather together in the beautiful surroundings of Goodwood Park. The theme for the 2014 Festival will be announced very shortly.

The Goodwood Festival of Speed will open with the Moving Motor Show on Thursday 26 June 2014, to give new car buyers and motoring enthusiasts the opportunity to see the very latest models up close, and in many cases drive them on a dedicated vehicle evaluation route within the grounds of the Goodwood Estate, including the revered Festival hillclimb.

The unique 2014 Goodwood Revival is set for the weekend of 12-14 September 2014.  The sell-out Revival truly is a magical step back in time, celebrating the halcyon days of motor racing as it used to be, with all of the accompanying spectacle and glamour of the era.  Competitors and spectators alike dress in period fashions, with the finest sights and entertainment of the pre-1966 era for all to enjoy.

In addition, Lord March can also confirm the dates for the new 72nd Goodwood Members’ Meeting, to be held on 29-30 March 2014 exclusively for GRRC (Goodwood Road Racing Club) members at the Goodwood Motor Circuit.

All of the 2014 Goodwood motor sport events promise a spectacular array of cars and motorcycles, plus star drivers and riders, and plenty of other fabulous attractions to thrill spectators of all ages.  Watch out for the very latest news and updates on these popular sell-out sporting and social events in the coming weeks and months.

As in previous years, admission to Goodwood motor sport events will be strictly by advance ticket only, with 2014 ticket sales commencing at 9am on Thursday 31 October 2013.  All young persons aged between 13 and 21 can purchase Festival of Speed and/or Revival tickets for half the full adult price.  Children aged 12 and under remain free of charge for 2014, as does car parking.  The price of adult entry tickets starts from just £27.

For 2013 both the Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival sold out long in advance of the events taking place, and this is expected to be repeated for 2014, so the early purchase of tickets for next year is recommended to avoid disappointment.

Tickets, grandstand seats, camping and other products for the 2014 Festival of Speed, Moving Motor Show and Goodwood Revival can be ordered from 9am Thursday 31 October on the Goodwood website (www.goodwood.com/motor sport/)

Subaru Forester Sports/Utility wins award from Motor Trend Magazine

Subaru’s best-selling model, the Forester compact SUV, has won the coveted 2014 Sport / Utility of the Year award from the USA’s influential Motor Trend magazine.

The Forester’s latest accolade makes Subaru the first and only brand to have won three Sport / Utility of the Year awards from Motor Trend, which is read by over 1.1 million people every month.  The previous-generation Forester picked up the award in 2009, and the Subaru Outback was also crowned winner in 2010.

The Subaru Forester beat 21 other SUVs to take first place during Motor Trend’s exhaustive testing process, with models graded according to six criteria: Design Advancement, Engineering Excellence, Intended Function, Efficiency, Safety and Value.  The new Forester scored highly in all categories.

Motor Trendeditor-in-chief Ed Loh commented: “Smart design, thoughtful engineering, and a compelling performance on-road and off were the keys to the Forester’s win.  Our editors were particularly impressed by the powerful yet efficient turbocharged engines, the intelligent and sporty CVT transmission, and the excellent visibility and interior package.  Practical, affordable, efficient and fun-to-drive – the Forester truly ticked every box.”

The new Forester went on sale in the UK in May 2013, and builds upon the model’s reputation as a modern, rugged SUV with improved performance, safety and efficiency and a more spacious and better appointed cabin.

Since the UK launch, sales of the new model have been strong, with particularly high demand for the XT Turbo model which is bucking the market trend for diesel SUV sales, equipped as it is with a 240ps 2.0-litre turbocharged direct injection petrol engine delivering smooth and strong pulling power both on and off-road.

AUDI celebrate half Million TT's with Limited Edition

High performance 272PS Coupé and Roadster special edition commemorates global sales milestone

  • TTS Limited Edition now available to order in Coupe and Roadster forms to mark 500,000 sales milestone
  • Priced from £38,860 OTR and £42,320 respectively
  • £5,665-worth of styling and equipment upgrades for a premium of £2,815 over ‘standard’ TTS equivalents

The most iconic Audi sports car ever that rapidly shot to stardom at its 1998 debut and has consistently  ever since has now been delivered to over 500,000 customers Worldwide.

To mark this milestone for the first generation TT, its acclaimed 2006 successor and the current, significantly revised model, a very special version of the 272PS TTS has just become available in very limited numbers. Priced from £38,860 OTR in Coupé form and £42,320 OTR as a Roadster, the new TTS Limited Edition will be delivered to just 500 customers worldwide, only 120 of which will be UK-based.

From the word go the TTS competition models set themselves apart through an Audi exclusive paint finish in Nimbus grey for Coupé models and Imola yellow for Roadsters. Both also feature a fixed rear spoiler in the style of the flagship TT RS, and an upgrade from the standard TTS 18-inch five parallel spoke design alloy wheel to a 19-inch five-arm rotor design.

Inside, special Impulse grey leather upholstery with the famous ‘baseball’ stitching in grey and yellow immediately marks them out, and a ‘1 of 500’ plaque in the door insert underlines their exclusivity. A raft of additional driver aids and entertainment extras also makes them even easier to live with. The list includes the technology package comprising DVD-based satellite navigation, a Bluetooth mobile phone interface and Audi Music Interface (AMI) iPod connection, plus a BOSE sound system upgrade, rear parking sensors, cruise control, light and rain sensors and an interior light package providing targeted illumination of specific areas such as the footwells and interior door handles.

Excellent foundations

These features further expand an already comprehensive equipment list which includes exclusive TTS body styling, a quad-tailpipe sports exhaust system, TTS sports suspension with Audi magnetic ride damper control, xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights, electronic climate control, heated front sports seats and matt brushed aluminium inlays.

The TTS Limited Edition models carry a premium of £2,815 over their ‘standard’ TTS equivalents, and taking into account their additional equipment this equates to a customer saving of around £5,665 compared with specifying the various items individually.

In the TTS Limited Edition Coupé the 2.0-litre TFSI engine with its 272PS and peak torque of 350Nm is linked to either six-speed manual or six-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmissions. Equipped with the latter, it can touch 62mph from rest after just 5.3 seconds and reach a governed top speed of 155mph, and offers 36.7mpg economy potential with CO2 emissions of 179g/km.

The production of the 500,000th Audi TT underscores the success of the compact sports car, which debuted as a Coupé in 1998 and as a Roadster the year after. The TT set standards not only for its design purity but also for its technology, which included ‘downsized’ turbocharged engines, quattro all-wheel drive for the high-end models and the six-speed S tronic transmission, which debuted in the range in 2003.

The second generation model, which followed in 2006, marked the first time that Audi succeeded in reversing the weight spiral. Thanks to its ASF (Audi Space Frame) body, which is made predominantly of aluminium, the new version weighs as much as 90 kilograms less than its predecessor. The low weight enables strong performance with very low fuel consumption. Another Audi innovation was the TT 2.0 TDI quattro: the world’s first premium-segment sports car with a powerful diesel engine and all-wheel drive.

The new BMW ALPINA D3 Bi-Turbo estate, the fastest production diesel around.

New BMW ALPINA D3 Bi-Turbo combines astonishing performance (173 mph, 0-62 in 4.6 seconds) with finely-honed bespoke engineering, 53 mpg and CO2 emissions of just 139 g/km
 An astonishing new generation of ultra-high-performance diesel saloons and estates has been launched by ALPINA, one of the world’s most highly-regarded manufacturers of bespoke luxury cars. With 350 hp and a remarkable 700 Nm of torque, the new D3 Bi-Turbo will catapult its occupants from zero to 62 mph in just 4.6 seconds and on to 173 mph, yet has combined cycle fuel economy of 53.2 mpg and CO2emissions of just 139 g/km.

“What makes these figures even more remarkable is that the D3 Bi-Turbo is also a luxury car that delivers its world-beating performance alongside uncompromising comfort and refinement,” comments Matthew Stripling, Sales Manager at ALPINA GB. “The new six cylinder D3 has a wonderful bespoke feel that touches all the senses to make every journey a pleasure, whether commuting to work or powering through the mountains.”

Based on BMW’s latest generation 3-Series, the D3 Bi-Turbo is the result of a two year development programme during which every aspect of the vehicle was analysed and refined to increase performance, comfort and style. Using design and validation processes identical to those implemented by BMW, ALPINA’s team of 50 development engineers worked with specialist suppliers to enhance the engine, gearbox, cooling system, body structure, wheels, tyres, aerodynamics, suspension and interior.
Bespoke Luxury
The BMW ALPINA D3 Bi-Turbo is available in the UK as a Saloon for £46,950 or as a Touring (estate) for £49,950, with a long list of standard equipment that includes an eight-speed automatic gearbox, Adaptive M Sport Suspension, leather upholstery, electrically adjustable heated sports seats, climate control and Bi-Xenon headlights. Inside, there are luxury carpet overmats and subtle ALPINA logos on the seat backs and door sills. The instruments are in ALPINA Blue and the steering wheel is covered in finest-quality, hand-stitched Lavalina leather.

Outside, the new D3 Bi-Turbo receives subtle aerodynamic enhancements developed in BMW’s wind tunnel, a four outlet exhaust with an ‘intelligent’ acoustic valve, and 19” ALPINA alloy wheels in the company’s famous Classic design. Every car is finished with a model plaque displayed on the centre console, showing the car’s unique build number.
In addition to being available with all BMW options including those from BMW Individual, the D3 Bi-Turbo can receive almost limitless personalisation from ALPINA’s craftsmen. Alongside the famous ALPINA Blue and ALPINA Green signature paintwork, choices include hand-stitched full leather interiors of superb quality and a wide range of hand-finished woods for the dashboard and doors.

Tax-efficient Performance for Business Users
The D3 Bi-Turbo Saloon has a P11D value of £46,950 and, because of its low CO2 emissions, incurs a 2012/13 BIK tax rate of just 22%. This makes the annual taxable benefit £10,340, meaning a 40% tax payer would currently pay £344.66 per month - little more than half the tax payable for running a comparable petrol vehicle.
“The D3 will be attractive to business users who have the resources to purchase a high-performance luxury car but have been put-off by the high taxation,” says Stripling. “ALPINA has traditionally been the choice of informed professionals who enjoy fine technology and attention to detail. With such a competitive package, the D3 Bi-Turbo is sure to prove successful in this discerning market.”

ALPINA has worked closely with BMW since 1961, with shared warranty coverage since 1964. The company was registered as an automobile manufacturer to ISO standards in 1983.

Technical Notes

Bespoke ALPINA Technology
ALPINA CEO Andreas Bovensiepen says the remarkable combination of comfort, performance and durability achieved with every vehicle is possible because although all BMW ALPINAs are available with an almost infinite variety of bespoke luxuries, his company manufactures only one mechanical specification for each model.
“As well as enhancing the performance of all major vehicle systems, our engineers are able to focus on ensuring that they work perfectly together, without the compromises needed for wide model and option variations,” he explains. “For ride comfort, for example, there is one combination of seat cushion, tyres, wheels, dampers, bushes and springs, so they can be designed to work as a well-coordinated team. We build only 1,200 cars a year, so we can do things that would not be possible in volume production.”
The BMW ALPINA D3 Bi-Turbo’s lightweight powertrain is based on BMW’s aluminium three litre straight six running ALPINA’s own engine control unit with bespoke software. Exceptionally clean, it already complies with the tough Euro 6 emissions standards to be introduced in September 2014.
ALPINA has specified two small, variable geometry turbochargers (rather than one larger unit) because their lower inertia allows them to respond very quickly. These are fed from larger intake ducts with optimised radii, allowing the engine to breathe more freely by reducing induction air pressure losses by 30 percent compared with the standard system. The result of complex fluid dynamics modelling, the bespoke induction system supports increased engine output as well as improving throttle response. A 20 percent larger intercooler with flow-optimised aluminium ducting increases the density of the fuel / air mixture to further enhance engine performance.
Although optimised for fast road driving rather than track use, BMW ALPINA cars are engineered to provide consistent performance and high reliability when driven hard for long periods. Central to this ability is the enhanced powertrain cooling system. An additional radiator in the engine cooling circuit is mounted behind the bespoke front spoiler, which also directs air to the new, high-flow oil cooler. Control is provided by a dedicated thermal systems control unit that uses information from the vehicle’s databus to optimise powertrain temperatures and to reduce parasitic loading on the engine by momentarily switching off the fan when maximum acceleration is required.
ALPINA has paid equal attention to the hot side of the engine. The bespoke, free-flow exhaust manifold is manufactured from high carbon steel with a cobalt addition to provide very high temperature resistance. The light-weight, quad-outlet exhaust system, developed with specialist supplier Akrapovic, is optimised for gas flow as well as for acoustic characteristics, which are enhanced by opening a computer-controlled valve when the Drive Performance Control is in Sport mode and when the system identifies spirited driving.

The eight speed transmission has been developed in partnership with ZF to provide a very fast shift speed while ensuring durability with the D3 Bi-Turbo’s immense torque. Around 20 percent of the system is bespoke, developed with ZF specifically for ALPINA. Linked to recalibrated software, the system provides smooth, comfortable gear changes with no noticeable interruption to power delivery. In Manual mode, the driver can take complete control of the transmission using the unique ALPINA Switch-Tronic buttons on the back of the steering wheel for intuitive fingertip control. The driveshafts and differential are also reinforced and a limited slip differential is available as an option.
Ride and Handling
The combination of incredible performance and low emissions is matched by a remarkable ride quality and superb dynamics from the chassis. Bespoke ALPINA springs with a 40 percent higher rate work with bespoke roll-control bars, bushings and bump stops. The four-setting variable damper control has been recalibrated to provide softer compression and stiffer rebound. The system works with the revised springs and bushes to provide superb body control, particular in the sports settings, while allowing excellent bump absorption. Front camber and toe-in are optimised and a front body strengthening brace, designed specifically for the D3 Bi-Turbo, is fitted to further enhance steering feel, turn-in and dynamic consistency.
Wheels are ALPINA’s legendary ‘Classic’ style, in a new 19” design carrying non-run-flat Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres developed in partnership with the tyre company specifically for the D3 Bi-Turbo. Enhanced tread stability and a new flank reinforcement technology reduces temperature spikes during very hard driving, ensuring consistently excellent grip in the dry complemented by a bi-compound running surface to ensure equally outstanding performance in the wet. Softer side walls contribute to the car’s superb ride quality and refinement.
Brembo callipers in ALPINA Blue announce a bespoke braking system with 370 mm discs and four piston callipers at the front and 345 mm discs with twin piston callipers at the rear. The pad specification has been selected to provide excellent temperature stability to ensure consistently good stopping performance and pedal feel during hard use without compromising feel or refinement when being driven more gently.
To help ensure that every aspect of the suspension works perfectly together, ALPINA has recalibrated the control software for the power steering, the Dynamic Stability Control and the Dynamic Traction Control. “This is a great example of the attention to detail that is applied to optimise the entire car as a unified driving system,” says Bovensiepen. “Optimising the DSC for our wheel and tyre combination means that we can deliver more performance and greater safety, with unobtrusive intervention helping to make the vehicle feel wonderfully neutral at its dynamic limits.”
Styling and Aerodynamics
The appearance of a BMW ALPINA has always been a distinctive blend of function and style. The new front spoiler provides the necessary airflow to the front brakes and through the additional heat exchangers and also works with the bespoke rear spoiler to reduce high-speed lift to almost zero.
ALPINA and Diesel: a winning combination
In 1998, at the request of BMW, Andreas Bovensiepen with other leading drivers pioneered the now highly successful use of diesel in endurance motorsport when they won the Nurburgring 24hr at the wheel of an ALPINA BMW 320d. Soon after, ALPINA launched the D10 Bi-Turbo, then the world’s fastest production diesel saloon.  “BMW was the first major vehicle manufacturer to recognise the potential of diesel in motorsport and ALPINA was the first constructor to win with this fuel, which has a significantly higher energy density than petrol,” he recalls. “It was an exciting time, doing something genuinely different and winning. The ALPINA D3 Bi-Turbo follows in this tradition.”

Volkswagen "Fabulous Fortnight" gives savings on Tiguan and Touareg

Volkswagen is offering customers two weeks of fabulous 4x4 offers, with great finance deals available on both the popular Tiguan and Touareg models at participating Volkswagen Retailers nationwide for a fortnight from this Thursday, 10 October until Thursday 24 October.

Customers placing an order for any Tiguan or Touareg model (excluding Touareg Hybrid) through a Volkswagen Finance Solutions deal during this fortnight will also receive up to three years or 30,000 miles of free servicing.

The Tiguan now starts at an amazing £21,750, with £2,750 towards customers’ finance deposit through Solutions.  Opt for the Tiguan Match, and the value gets even better, thanks to a comprehensive standard equipment list that includes 17-inch ‘New Orleans’ alloy wheels, Park Assist (as well as front and rear parking sensors), 2Zone climate control, an RNS 315 touchscreen satellite navigation system, DAB radio, MDI multi-device interface with iPod and USB connectivity, Bluetooth, automatic lights and wipers and a leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel.  Monthly payments for the Tiguan Match start from just £275.

Moving up to the luxurious Touareg SE, there are savings of up to £5,000 to be had, with monthly payments starting from just £435.  Equipment highlights for the Touareg SE include 19-inch ‘Salamanca’ alloy wheels; leather upholstery; ‘Burr Walnut’ trim, RNS 850 touchscreen satellite navigation system with 8-inch display, DAB radio, MDI and Bluetooth; automatic lights and wipers; front and rear parking sensors and electrically folding door mirrors.

Terms and conditions apply. For full details and examples of finance options available, see www.volkswagen.co.uk or visit your local Volkswagen Retailer.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

BREAKING NEWS - Land Rover announces that Defender production to stop in 2015

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has said it will stop production of its Defender model in 2015 because it will not meet new European laws on fuel emissions.

The last of the 4x4 models will roll off the production line at its plant in Solihull in the West Midlands in December 2015, it confirmed.
Queen and Prince Phillip in Ibadan, Nigeria
The model had evolved over 67 years of production but it could not be adapted to meet new emissions rules, JLR said.

It said no jobs would be lost and it was working on a replacement model.

The first model in the style of the Defender was introduced in 1948 and was modelled on a World War II Jeep.

It was not given the Defender name until the early 1990s, shortly after the launch of the Land Rover Discovery.

More than two million have been sold since the car first appeared, JLR said.

An armoured 110 Land Rover DefenderThe firm said the decision to cease production was "mainly legislation based."

'Workhorses with style'

Plans by the European Council and Parliament to bring in stricter measures for new car emissions by 2020 meant there were "certain conditions the Defender just won't meet," the company said.

It said a replacement model for the Defender was being developed to be launched in 2016.

The Defender is very much a part of Land Rover's heritage but it does need to change.

Making the vehicle is pretty labour intensive and it is also not as mainstream as other Land Rover models.

The new Range Rover Sport, for instance, while still being an off-road vehicle is designed for a completely different and much more lucrative market.

Land Rover DC100 concept car
The Defender has for a long time been the workhorse of the farmer, but these days Land Rover and Range Rover models are anything but.

Yes farmers still buy them, but desirability has propelled the brands into the premium market, somewhere the current Defender model just does not seem to fit anymore.

JLR's head of products, John Edwards, said the new model would be "instantly recognised" by people who drive the current vehicle but it "won't necessarily be cheap".

Editor of Auto Express magazine, Steve Fowler, said the Defender had taken on "iconic status" after being driven by members of the Royal Family and being featured in the latest James Bond film, Skyfall.

He said: "It's a very important market for Land Rover, one of its three pillars with the Range Rover and the Discovery.

"As we experienced with another iconic car, the Mini, it had a bit of a sabbatical before coming back and that's what I fully expect to happen with the Defender."

Frank King, from the Land Rover owners' club in Cannock, Staffordshire, said it was "disappointing news."

He said: "The silhouette still looks the same as it did 67 years ago, although its been upgraded and had new engines and whatever. It's a real shame to see it go."


Opel to make a rugged ADAM mini SUV for 2014

Opel will launch a SUV-styled version of its Adam minicar, a person familiar with the project told Automotive News Europe.

The car will be based on the Adam Rocks concept unveiled by Opel at the Geneva auto show in March. It will have a slightly increased ride height and chunkier bumpers compared with the standard Adam hatchback.

The Adam Rocks production version will compete with models such as the Volkswagen Cross Up, which is an SUV-styled variant of VW's Up minicar, and the Fiat Panda 4x4. The Panda 4x4 is the only one of the three with four-wheel drive.

The Adam Rocks' production name has not been finalized. The car will go on sale in late 2014, helping Opel to capitalize on the growing popularity in Europe of crossover-styled vehicles.

IHS Automotive senior analyst Ian Fletcher said the Adam Rocks production car will help Opel's bottom line because it will be priced higher than the standard model. "Automakers are happy to meet demand for SUV and crossovers as the customer pays a premium," he said.

The Adam Rocks concept shown in Geneva had a fabric roof and previews a potential convertible Adam that would compete against models such as the Fiat 500C and Citroen DS3.

Opel is counting on fresh product to help reverse declining sales in Europe. Sales of Opel and sister brand Vauxhall fell 5 percent to 534,105 units in the first eight-month sales in EU and EFTA markets, according to industry association ACEA.


ASTON MARTIN cancels the Cygnet at a cost of £8.1 Million.

Aston Martin will end production of its Cygnet minicar following poor sales of the Toyota iQ-based model.

"Cygnet production will end this year," Aston Martin spokeswoman Sarah Calam said.

The hand-stitched leather interior and Aston Martin badge was not enough to persuade customers to pay 31,000 pounds ($50,000) for the model, more than double the price of the iQ, which provided the engine, transmission and frame.

Demand for the Cygnet, which was developed in about 12 months, was well below the automaker's sales target. The Cygnet went on sale in Europe in 2011.

Aston had hoped to sell up to 4,000 Cygnets a year to environmentally conscious city dwellers thought to be keen on a small, easy to park, luxury vehicle. But buyers were put off by the Cygnet's high price, particularly since it lacked the characteristic performance of a brand that achieved fame with the DB5 sports car featured in 1960s James Bond movies.

"The Cygnet was intended to catapult the brand into a new market but at roughly double the price of many competing cars in that segment, it was misjudged by Aston Martin," said Ian Fletcher, an automotive analyst at IHS Automotive. "The premium supermini market is a good place to be at the moment but Aston got it wrong in thinking putting a grill and a fancy interior on what was basically a Toyota iQ would make people buy it."

BMW, Mercedes minicars

European carmakers have recently done well out of producing high-end minicars. Audi's upmarket A1 is selling well, while Mercedes is considering making a minicar to take on BMW's successful Mini. Research consultancy

IHS forecasts some 594,000 city cars will be sold across Europe in 2013 and expects this to grow to around 803,000 by 2020.

However the popular BBC program Top Gear and other car Web sites suggested that Aston ventured into the city car market to help it meet EU targets for fuel emissions and to justify the development of V8 and V12 engines for its high powered cars such as the DB9 and Vanquish models.

The luxury car maker, owned by Kuwaiti and Italian private equity groups, has struggled to grow since the economic downturn in 2008. Failing to find success when the luxury sector is growing rapidly does not bode well for Aston Martin, which also lacks a luxury SUV model - excluding it from another market that has defied Europe's recession.

Its weakness has been exacerbated by a lack of funds from its private equity owners, which include Investment Dar - a major Kuwaiti finance company which ran into trouble during the financial crisis and had to restructure $3.7 billion worth of debt.

By comparison UK rival Jaguar Land Rover has enjoyed more than 4 billion pounds of investment since being bought in 2008 by India' deep-pocketed Tata Motors.

Profit slide

As a result Aston Martin's sales and profits are on the slide. It reported 2012 adjusted pretax losses of 24.6 million pounds, down from the 21.2 million pound loss it posted a year earlier. It also took an 8.5 million pounds charge related to scrapping Cygnet.

Retail volumes fell to 3,800 units in 2012 from 4,200 a year earlier, but Aston is aiming to double sales by 2016, helped by new V8-engine versions of the Vantage and DB9 models.

Those numbers are in contrast to Bentley, which reported a 30 percent rise in 2012 sales, helped by new showrooms and growth in the United States and particularly China, with its large number of super-rich consumers as well as a fast-growing middle class eager for luxury western items.

Italian private equity fund Investindustrial agreed to buy a 37.5 percent stake in Aston Martin last year and raised hopes that its promise to invest $1 billion in new products and technology would boost the company's fortunes.

Aston also teamed up with Daimler's high-performance Mercedes-AMG GmbH division to develop a new generation of bespoke V8 engines. That move, taken earlier this year, aimed to help it better compete with the likes of Volkswagen's Bentley and Porsche units, as well as Jaguar Land Rover, which has achieved strong sales growth, especially in China, since 2008.

Both of those deals should help Aston Martin overcome its latest blow, analysts said.

"Investindustrial turned around motorcycle maker Ducati who were in trouble and have a similar history to Aston so their involvement is a huge positive, while the Daimler relationship can only help develop the technology under the skin, which is key," said IHS's Fletcher.

Next CEO

Meanwhile Aston's next challenge may be just around the corner. Media reports suggest its charismatic CEO Ulrich Bez is set to step down at the end of the year after 13 years at the helm and with no clear successor.

Bez will probably become a non-executive chairman, according to company sources.


Mercedes-Benz gained ground against larger premium-car competitors BMW and Audi last month

Mercedes-Benz gained ground against larger premium-car competitors BMW and Audi last month as the introduction of the CLA coupe helped demand almost double for the company's compact models.

Sales by the Mercedes brand rose 16 percent from a year earlier in September to 143,000 cars and SUVs. That beat an 8 percent jump at BMW brand and a 10 percent gain at Audi.

BMW, Audi and Mercedes are all targeting record global deliveries in 2013, seeking to attract buyers with new vehicles such as the CLA, the BMW 4-series coupe and the sedan version of Audi's A3 compact. Audi and Mercedes are competing to overtake BMW as the world's biggest premium-car seller by the end of the decade.

"Mercedes is getting some tailwinds from its model cycle," said Frank Biller, a Stuttgart-based analyst at LBBW. "The young products are pushing sales."

Daimler's Mercedes probably also improved profit margins in the third quarter, reducing the gap with competitors earnings, he said.

Nine-month sales by Mercedes jumped 10 percent to 1.06 million cars and SUVs.

BMW brand's deliveries in September totaled 158,000, pushing the nine-month figure up 9 percent to 1.21 million. Audi reported an 8 percent nine-month increase to 1.18 million. Mercedes's sales in the period amounted to 88 percent of BMW's, narrowing the gap from 87 percent a year earlier. Audi's sales difference with BMW widened to 98 percent from 99 percent.

The companies are focusing expansion in the growing auto markets of China, the United States and South America to make up for a sixth straight drop in annual industry wide sales in Europe.

Nine-month Chinese deliveries rose 21 percent at Audi and 20 percent at BMW, while increasing 8 percent at Mercedes, which is revamping its sales network in the market.

Compact demand

Global growth at Mercedes was propelled by a 91 percent sales surge of compact models in September as the company added the four-door CLA to new versions of the A- and B-class models, Daimler said in a statement last week. Mercedes is expanding in the segment with the small GLA SUV due in the showrooms early next year. The carmaker also revamped the up-market E-class sedan in April.

Deliveries of BMW's 3-series car lineup increased 28 percent in the first nine months of the year, the company said today. A Gran Turismo version of the 3 series went on sale in June. The company is also introducing diesel-powered models of the car in the U.S., where it began selling an all-wheel-drive version in 2012. Demand in China was boosted by a stretched 3 series that entered showrooms in June 2012. The carmaker also began sales of the 4 series, which shares underpinnings with the 3 series, in September.

BMW plans a new generation of the X5 SUV, built at BMW's plant Spartanburg, South Carolina, which is scheduled to enter dealerships in November.

"We have been able to keep our European sales on a similar level year-on-year, and once again reported major gains in the U.S. and Asia," Ian Robertson, BMW's head of sales and marketing, said in today's statement. "We are therefore well on our way to another increase in deliveries for the full year 2013 and a new sales record."

A3 Sedan

Audi is counting on further gains after the A3 sedan reached the European market in September. The VW unit will begin selling the model in China in the second quarter of 2014. Audi predicts that the car will be the most popular variant of the A3 line, which also includes hatchback and convertible models.

"The two main drivers of why the German luxury carmakers are so successful are internationalization and the broadening of the model lines," said Marc-Rene Tonn, a Hamburg-based analyst with Warburg Research.

The three carmakers are all expanding production in China, the world's biggest automotive market, and taking steps to begin vehicle assembly in Brazil to tap into the growing number of affluent consumers in South America's biggest economy. Mercedes will begin assembling the mid-sized C class and the GLA at a new plant in Iracemapolis, Brazil, in 2016. The move will follow BMW's production start next year in Brazil's southern state of Santa Catarina at a plant with capacity to build least 30,000 vehicles annually. Audi has said it will build the A3 sedan and Q3 SUV in the country.

"I expect BMW to remain the No. 1 luxury carmaker for another couple of years," said Frank Schwope, a Hanover, Germany-based analyst with NordLB. "They already have an advantage and it's very likely that they will retain the lead, even if the gap to Audi and Mercedes might decrease."

Read more: 

Tesla's Model S becomes NORWAY's best selling car in September

Tesla Motor's all-electric Model S became the top-selling car in Norway last month, with drivers also paying a premium to buy the sports car second-hand to avoid having to wait five months for a new one, dealers said.

The high performance Tesla S had a market share of 5.1 percent in Norway last month, accounting for 616 of the 12,168 new cars sold and pushing the conventionally-powered Volkswagen Golf into second place with a 4.6 percent share, according to official figures.

"There has been an enormous demand for this car and it doesn't seem to stop. We have a lot of customers on the waiting list right now," said Joar Tenfjord, the head of Tesla's dealership in Bergen, Norway's second largest city.

Electric cars have been especially popular in Norway because of generous subsidies, free parking, government-provided re-charging stations, the right to use express lanes on highways and exemptions from tolls.

"You get great value for your money with the Model S in Norway," Tenfjord said. "It is a spacious car and it is also environmentally friendly."

A new Tesla Model S costs $110,000-$117,000 in Norway's notoriously expensive car market, well above the $70,000 it costs in the United States, but existing owners willing to part with their car could get $130,000 for them, Tenfjord said.

The Tesla S went on sale in Europe in August. The model has a top speed of 200 kph (125 mph) and acceleration of 0-100 kph (0-62 mph) in 5.4 seconds. Its 483 km (300 miles) range outstrips other all-electric cars.

Tesla has already sold 14,300 units of the Model S in the United States so far this year.

Nice profit

Some drivers in Norway are now willing to pay as much as $20,000 extra to get the new Model S from existing owners. Currently only 12 of the new Teslas are available on Finn.no, Norway's top classified Web site with asking prices of up to $130,000.

"I have noticed that some people make a very nice profit on these cars," Tenfjord said. "The demand is extreme."

One of those second hand buyers, 27-year-old financial consultant Anders Langset, said a regular car with similar performance and engine size could have cost him up to 2 million crowns ($330,000) because of the punitive taxes Norway's government levies on cars with big engines.

"I paid more for a second-hand car than I would have paid if I bought it when it was new, but the demand is so high that I am sure I would get my money back and then some if I sold it again today," Langset said.

A BMW 5 series sells in the $100,000-$115,000 range in Norway, below the Model S, but its internal combustion engine is less powerful.

Cars with conventional engines of similar power to the Tesla model would typically retail for $200,000 and above as taxes are levied on engine size. Some carmakers sell their vehicles with smaller engines in Norway than the rest of Europe to keep them affordable.

Meanwhile no immediate effect has been seen on Norwegian demand for the Model S after a video emerged last week showing a Model S on fire after an accident near Seattle, which slightly dented this year's meteoric rise in Tesla's share price.

"We have had some questions from customers but it appears to have been a one-off and it has in no way reduced demand," Tenfjord said.

Tesla said the fire stemmed from a "highly uncommon occurrence" after the car was driven over a "large, oddly shaped metal object" which punched a hole through the quarter-inch armor plate protecting the lithium-ion battery pack, and that had it been a gasoline-powered car "the result could have been far worse."


China's Dongfeng Motor plans to buy a 30 percent stake in PSA/Peugeot-Citroen for 10 billion yuan ($1.63 billion), a report said.

PSA declined to comment on the report, saying only that it is examining new industrial and commercial development projects with different partners, "including the financial implications that would accompany them."

"None of these projects has reached maturity at this stage," PSA said today.

China Business News reported on Tuesday that Dongfeng plans to buy a 30 percent stake in PSA for 10 billion yuan, citing an unidentified Dongfeng official.

An investment from Dongfeng would help PSA to shore up its finances and aid the automaker's efforts to expand outside Europe where the auto market is set to sink for a sixth straight year.
Florent Couvreur, an analyst at CM-CIC Securities, said PSA needs cash. "The two main questions are: how much do they need and where will they find the money? I'm betting they need about 2 billion euros to face their debt obligations in 2014," he said.

Industrial cooperation

PSA and Dongfeng already operate three assembly plants together in China and the two automakers said last month that they are talking about deepening their partnership. Dongfeng said the company is doing "preliminary research" on a PSA investment.

PSA CEO Philippe Varin said in September that he was examining all options to deepen the Dongfeng partnership, with a focus first on industrial cooperation before any financial links.

PSA reported a first-half operating loss in its automotive unit of 510 million euros. The automaker is cutting 11,200 French jobs and closing a factory outside Paris to reduce spending. Varin has pledged to reduce the manufacturer's cash-consumption rate by 50 percent in 2013 after burning through 3 billion euros last year.

Potential hurdles

PSA is negotiating with unions to reduce overtime pay and freeze salaries, in exchange for increased French production and investments over the next three years, to lower labor costs. Any share sale to an outside investor is contingent on the success of those talks, Christian Lafaye, head of the FO union at PSA, said.

A stake purchase of 30 percent would also raise legal questions as well as potential hurdles with the two largest investors, the Peugeot family and General Motors Co.

Under French law, anyone buying a 30 percent stake or more in a listed company must make a tender offer on all the remaining shares, Florence Gaubert, a spokesman for French markets regulator AMF, said today.

A stake sale could lead the Peugeot family, which currently has 25.5 percent of the shares, to lose control of the French company.

PSA investors voted in April to give management the option of issuing new shares in the company, or securities convertible to stock, worth as much as 50 percent of the capital as of March 12, 2013. Current owners have a pre-emptive right to purchase shares in any increase exceeding 20 percent.

GM 'not worried'

General Motors is PSA's second-largest shareholder behind the Peugeot family with a 7 percent stake. Last month, GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky said GM's partnership with PSA would survive even if Dongfeng takes a stake in the French automaker. The tie-up for joint manufacturing, purchasing and vehicle development is a key part of GM's plans to fix its ailing European operations.

GM has the option to terminate the alliance in the event of a change in control of the French manufacturer, according to PSA's annual regulatory filings.

PSA's stock has more than doubled this year, valuing the manufacturer at 4.4 billion euros ($5.95 billion).


Vauxhall/Opel updates the Meriva with improved diesel engines.

  • Vauxhall’s innovative MPV gets new engine and design flourishes
  • Revolutionary FlexDoors and FlexSpace systems remain unique in sector
  • On sale from next month

Vauxhall’s Meriva will come of age with a new look and class-leading Euro-6 diesel engine when the model goes on sale in the UK next month.

Launched in 2010, the second-generation Meriva turned the compact MPV class on its head, with its clever FlexDoors system – rear-hinged rear doors which allow a 20 per cent larger opening for passengers – and FlexSpace system, which allows rear passengers a variety of different seating combinations.

The Meriva now gets a new grille, chrome accents that frame the front fog lamps and newly-designed headlamps with an ‘eagle-eye’ graphic. For the first time, LED daytime running lights and LED tail lights are available as an option. Complementing the design revisions are new optional 18-inch alloy wheels.

Fresh from its launch in the Zafira Tourer, Vauxhall’s all-new 1.6 CDTi diesel engine is now available in the Meriva. The Euro-6 compliant engine, which is already setting a high benchmark in the industry for efficiency and refinement, produces 136PS and 320Nm of torque at 2,000rpm, yet achieves a remarkable 64.2mpg combined and 116g/km of CO2 emissions. This equates to a 10 per cent improvement in economy/emissions over the 1.7 CDTi, which the new unit replaces.

Diesel engine performance from the new Meriva has also been improved, the 1.6 CDTi model accelerating from 0-60mph in 9.1 seconds, nearly a second quicker than the 1.7 CDTi, thanks to its additional 6PS and 20Nm of torque. The Meriva’s petrol engine range (1.4 100PS, 1.4T 120 & 140PS) remains and is now fully Euro-6 compliant.

Like all Vauxhalls, the Meriva comes with Lifetime Warranty, which offers first owners peace of mind for as long as they own the car, up to 100,000 miles.

A separate pricing announcement will be made next month when the new Meriva goes on sale, with first customer deliveries in January 2014.

AUDI adds new quattro models to A3 and A6 ranges.

New all-wheel-drive versions of latest A3 Saloon, A6 Saloon and A6 Avant models are ready to weather the storm in winter 2013

  • quattro all-wheel-drive now available in conjunction with 1.8-litre 180PS TFSI engine in all-new A3 Saloon and with lead-in 204PS V6 TDI engine in A6 range
  • A3 quattro Saloon prices from £27,560 OTR, A6 3.0 TDI quattro 204PS prices from £38,385 OTR

As our uncharacteristically balmy summer gives way to autumn, the number of wet-weather ‘quattro days’ in 2013 could still exceed last year’s total of 172. In timely fashion, the number of Audi models equipped with this world renowned aid to driving in all weathers is on the rise. New quattro-equipped versions of the A3 Saloon, the A6 Saloon and the A6 Avant have just joined the largest all-wheel-drive range in the premium sector, which amounts to well over 150 models. All new additions are available to order now.

In the all-new A3 Saloon range the advanced directly and indirectly injected 1.8-litre TFSI engine is now available in conjunction with quattro drive, and in the A6 line-up customers opting for the smooth and refined power of the lead-in V6 TDI engine can now also channel its 204PS to all four wheels.

Linked exclusively to the six-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission with its ultra-fast shift pattern, and splitting its 180PS four ways, the new A3 1.8 TFSI quattro Saloon can reach 62mph from rest in 6.8 seconds, tops out at 146mph and yet also combines the potential for up to 42.8mpg with low CO2 of 152g/km.

Further up the range, the new 204 PS A6 3.0 TDI quattro sprints to 62mph in just seven seconds  (7.2 seconds in the Avant), a fraction more rapidly than its front-wheel-driven counterpart. It also benefits from a torque boost over its eight-speed multitronic transmission-equipped, front-wheel-drive equivalent, from 400Nm to 450Nm. Top speeds are 149mph for both Saloon options, and 143mph for both Avants.

Three V6 TDI options

The new 204 PS V6 TDI quattro is one of three powerful V6 TDI engines in the A6 range to feature the crown gear centre differential-based version of the quattro all-wheel-drive system. The more powerful 3.0 V6 TDI engine with 245 PS and the top of the range 313 PS V6 BiTDI are linked to this system exclusively.

The A3 1.8 TFSI quattro Saloon is the first in the four-door range to adopt multi-plate clutch-based quattro technology. It will be joined later this year by the 300PS S3 quattro Saloon with six-speed manual and six-speed S tronic transmission options, and in mid-2014 by the A3 2.0 TDI quattro with 184PS and standard six-speed S tronic transmission.

The A3 1.8 TFSI quattro Saloon is available with Sport or S line specification priced at £27,560 OTR and £29,710 respectively. Prices for the new 204PS A6 3.0 TDI quattro models start from £38,385 for the A6 Saloon 3.0 TDI quattro SE, increasing to £44,945 for the lavishly equipped, S line-based A6 Avant 3.0 TDI quattro Black Edition.

The case for quattro - British rainfall data

Up to the end of September the Met Office has so far recorded 97 ‘rainfall days’, i.e. days when over 1.0mm of rain fell. In 2012 as a whole, 172 rainfall days were recorded. Globally last year, more than 43 per cent of Audi customers opted for the added reassurance of quattro, and the Neckarsulm plant in Germany – home of Audi high performance division quattro GmbH – equipped one car in every two on the production line with the technology.

Mazda adds new luxury models to CX-5 range of cars

  • New ‘SE-L Lux’ models add sunroof, power adjusted driver’s seat, leather trim and heated front seats
  • Two new SE-L Lux models from £24,495 (SE-L Lux) and £25,195 (SE-L Lux Nav) OTR
  • Outstanding emissions from 119g/km and fuel economy up to 61.4mpg

Reacting to customer feedback, Mazda is introducing two new models to the Mazda CX-5 compact SUV line-up – both fitted with the company’s innovative fuel-saving SKYACTIV technology – the SE‑L Lux and SE-L Lux Nav.

Both models, now available in showrooms across the UK, are based on the 2.2-litre diesel 150ps 2WD SE-L, with manual transmission and feature the addition of a powered tilt-and-slide glass sunroof, full leather trim in Black or Stone (no cost option), a six-way power adjustable driver’s seat and heated front seats with three-stage temperature settings.

“Many potential Mazda customers have expressed an interest in being able to acquire a CX-5 with a sunroof and leather trim without having to purchase a range-topping Sport model.  Now, responding to that latent demand, we are adding two models to our Mazda CX-5 range, based on our most popular and economical powertrain – the 2.2-litre diesel 150ps with 2WD and six-speed manual transmission.  The premium is an extremely modest £1,200 for an upgraded specification which would cost more than £2,500 with some rival brands,” comments Peter Allibon, Sales Director, Mazda UK.

The Mazda CX-5 2.2-litre diesel 150ps 2WD SE-L Lux is available from £24,495 on the road (OTR), while the SE-L Lux Nav costs from £25,195 (OTR) – both prices being £1,200 above the standard SE-L models.

“Every Mazda CX-5 offers customers a remarkably compelling ownership proposition, thanks to its typically Mazda fun-to-drive performance, high specifications, attractive pricing, low running costs and excellent residualvalues,” adds Allibon.

Mazda’s ability to defy convention and deliver uniquely appealing cars with innovative fuel-saving SKYACTIV technology, such as the CX-5, has been given numerous glowing third-party endorsements over the last 12 months.

Most recently, Mazda CX-5 won the SUV category in the 2013 Women’s World Car of the Year Awards.  Earlier this year, the Mazda CX-5 won awards from Auto Express, WhatCar?, Total 4x4 and Fleet World magazines.  Popular weekly magazine Auto Express praised the Mazda CX-5 for “rewriting the rulebooks for crossovers with a blend of great looks, useful practicality, loads of tech and low running costs” – claiming the ‘Best Crossover’ crown for the second year in a row.

Experts at Britain’s best selling car buyer’s guide WhatCar?, named the 150ps diesel Mazda CX-5 as Britain’s ‘Best Buy’ SUV in the under £25,000 category, stating: “This really is one of the finest diesels you can buy.  There’s bags of room for four tall adults, the boot is huge and the rear seats fold down easily.  With low running costs and remarkable CO2 emissions,you end up with an unbeatable buy.”

The 20-strong line-up of Mazda CX-5 models is priced from £21,595 to £29,395 (OTR).  Customers can choose petrol or diesel engines, manual or automatic transmissions and 2-wheel drive (2WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) – depending on model.  CO2 emissions start at 119g/km with fuel economy up to 61.4mpg.