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.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Vastly improved looks now make the Megane CC a Renault you WILL want to own.

Renault’s renewal of its range continues with the introduction of New Mégane Coupé-Cabriolet. The latest version of the model features the brand’s new styling identity and Renault R-Link connected multimedia system as standard.

  • New Mégane Coupé-Cabriolet’s front end styling embodies Renault’s acclaimed new design philosophy
  • Renault R-Link, the connected in-dash multimedia system, is now standard on all UK versions
  • New Mégane Coupé-Cabriolet will be unveiled in January 2014 at the Brussels Motor Show.  UK pricing and specification will be announced closer to sales commencing in March.

After Mégane Hatch, Mégane Coupé and Mégane Sport Tourer, it is now the turn of Mégane Coupé-Cabriolet to feature Renault’s new family traits. Its dynamic, elegant stance has been further enhanced by a new bumper which incorporates the new distinctive Renault diamond set to a gloss black background.

Meanwhile, the connected Renault R-Link multimedia system is now standard on the full UK line-up of Mégane Coupé-Cabriolet. This fully-connected system comes with a smart, chrome-trimmed seven-inch (18cm) display which functions in association with a centre console-mounted joystick. A line-up of connected applications, such as e-mail or weather forecasts, is also available through the R-Link store.

New Mégane Coupé-Cabriolet continues to be equipped with the coupé segment’s largest panoramic glass roof. With the top down, the vehicle ensures an inimitable open-air experience without the drawbacks. Its standard fixed glass wind deflector, which is unique in the segment, minimises turbulence to provide maximum comfort for four passengers when travelling at speeds of up to 55 mph. New Mégane Coupé-Cabriolet can also be ordered with an optional removable mesh deflector screen that allows two occupants traveling alone to benefit from extra protection against buffeting at all speeds.

New Mégane Coupé-Cabriolet is made at Renault’s Douai plant in France, alongside Scénic, Grand Scénic and Scénic XMOD. UK pricing and specification will be announced shortly.

The latest Volvo Concept, the XC Coupe, debuts at the NAIAS in Detroit

In September, the Volvo Concept Coupé was launched to critical acclaim and many awards, and represented the world’s first insight into Volvo Car Group's (Volvo Cars) new design direction under Senior Vice President of Design, Thomas Ingenlath. It also showed one interpretation of how the proportions and versatility of Volvo Cars' new Scalable Product Architecture, that will underpin all medium and large cars in the company’s future, could look.

The Concept Coupé was the first of three design studies. The next chapter in Volvo Cars' new design story showcases how the company’s famous safety technology as well as a contemporary Scandinavian active lifestyle could be integrated into the new architecture. The Volvo Concept XC Coupé will make its world debut at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) on January 13, but full details including press release, videos and images will be published on January 8.

The Concept XC Coupé builds on Volvo’s proud history of Cross Country and XC products, with Volvo Cars having created the niche in 1997. And in anticipation of the full reveal of the car in early 2014, Volvo Cars now shares the first three images of the car.

576bhp Vauxhall to première at performance car show

  • 576bhp super-saloon to be revealed at Europe’s biggest motorsport show
  • The most power available for any car under £60k in the UK
  • All-new chassis tech enhances driving experience
  • First cars to reach owners in first quarter of 2014

With an extra 150bhp from its new supercharged engine, class-leading chassis technology and a price that will make its closest rivals wince, Vauxhall’s new VXR8 GTS is set to make a surprise debut at the Performance Car Show alongside Autosport International next month.

Based on Vauxhall’s sister company HSV’s new GEN-F GTS, the VXR8 GTS is the most powerful production car ever to emerge from Australia. And costing just £54,999 in the UK it allows owners the least expensive membership into the 500bhp+ club.

‘The Performance Car Show and Autosport International is an ideal location for us to take the wraps off the UK’s first new VXR8 GTS,’ said Stuart Harris, Head of Carline Brand. ‘While this is unashamedly one of the most powerful road cars you can buy in the UK, the GTS was developed by people who have a wealth of experience in motorsport, so putting it in front of thousands of car racing enthusiasts is a no-brainer for Vauxhall.’

In its new GTS form the VXR8 offers colossal power and torque in a package that is more technology-led than ever before, yet still retains a ‘loud and proud’ character that no BMW or Mercedes can match. It also enters the UK market with more power than key rivals, such as the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG.

At the heart of the VXR8 GTS is a new supercharged LSA V8 delivering 576bhp and 545lb ft of torque, an increase of 150bhp and 140lb ft respectively over the outgoing, LS3-engined VXR8. The mighty powerplant will allow the GTS to sprint from 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds and up to a limited top speed of 155mph.

To cater for the extra performance, the GTS is fitted with an all-new Brake-Torque Vectoring system that applies braking to the inside rear wheel and transfers torque to the outside rear wheel to reduce understeer during high-speed manoeuvres.

The GTS also receives the latest generation Magnetic Ride Control with three independent settings. Hardware and software improvements deliver greater body control, sharper handling and a significantly more pliant ride quality, compared with the outgoing model.

‘In an Ashes year, it’s quite rare to see England and Australia working together, but the result of this collaboration in the new Vauxhall VXR8 GTS is amazing,’ said Ian France, Performance Car Show Director. ‘With almost 600bhp of raw power and imposing styling, it’s sure to create a lot of interest as part of Vauxhall’s Performance Car Show presence.’

The safetst car on UK's roads..... that will be an Infiniti Q50

According to the latest tests carried out by Thatcham, the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre, the Infiniti Q50 has proved itself to have one of the most advanced standard fit collision avoidance systems that the Centre has ever tested. Together with its recently announced five star Euro NCAP rating the Infiniti Q50 is easily one of the safest cars on the road.

Thatcham’s Chief Executive Peter Shaw explains: “The majority of accidents on our roads are caused by driver distraction often at junctions. Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems can warn the driver of the potential danger ahead and then automatically slow the vehicle down or even bring it to a complete halt if necessary. Here at Thatcham we assess these systems in the Insurance Group Rating “City” test on behalf of UK insurers to evaluate their performance in the most common type of crash: the front-to-rear shunt”.

“In the test we drive the car under robot control at speeds of up to 50km/h towards a unique soft target representing another vehicle, and we measure how well the car performs at avoiding a crash or reducing the impact speed. The Q50 not only avoided the crash at the maximum 50km/h test speed, the Infiniti engineers were confident that it could also do the same at 60km/h, and so it proved. This is a remarkable achievement and as such the Q50 is one of the best performers we’ve seen to date.”

Fintan Knight, Vice President for Infiniti Europe, Middle East and Africa added: “Today’s drivers need all the help they can get to stay relaxed, comfortable and safe behind the wheel which is why the Q50 is available with many innovative new safety systems.”

By using a highly specified radar system along with several cameras located around the vehicle to constantly monitor the vehicles surrounding area, many systems are able to combine together and reduce the risk of an accident ever taking place. Forward Emergency Braking is only one of many other features included in the optional Safety Pack -

  • Reversing (Back-up Collision Intervention). Detects moving vehicles and objects behind the car when reverse gear is selected, warning the driver with visual and audible alerts. If necessary the system can autonomously engage the brakes to avoid a collision.
  • Drifting out of lane (Lane Departure Warning and Lane Departure Prevention). Industry-first system senses unintended lane drift and assists the driver in guiding the vehicle back to the centre of its lane.
  • Moving into the path of another vehicle (Blind Spot Intervention and Blind Spot Warning). World-first technology aids the driver in avoiding vehicles concealed in the blind-spot area during lane-change manoeuvres.
  • Motorway hold-ups (Predictive Forward Collision Warning). Another world-first for Infiniti, PFCW warns the driver of hazards which lie beyond the driver’s field of view – seeing past not just the car in front but two cars ahead.
  • Low-speed manoeuvring in busy areas (Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection). Infiniti’s world-first real-time camera system provides a virtual 360 degree view of the environment around the car, with visual and audible warnings of hazards.

As well as the availability of the most advanced safety systems, every Infiniti Q50 includes safety-oriented features such as:

  • Seat belt reminder system for all seats
  • Speed limiter
  • Active pop-up bonnet for pedestrian safety
  • Electronic Stability Control with Active Trace Control
  • LED fog lights front and rear
  • Tyre Pressure Monitoring System
  • Hill start assist
  • Six airbags
  • Rear view camera and front and rear parking sensors

Fintan Knight added: “Infiniti leads the way in introducing new safety technologies and the Q50 is available with more of them than ever before. As our new-generation standard bearer the Q50 shows just how committed we are to road safety and to keeping the brand in the forefront of safety in the future.”

Jaguar Land Rover delivers strong retail performance in November

  • Jaguar Land Rover delivers strong November sales performance retailing 37,403 vehicles, up 25%
  • Jaguar sells 6,244 vehicles in November, up 55%
  • Land Rover sells 31,159 vehicles in November, up 20%
  • Calendar year to date Jaguar Land Rover sells 384,339 vehicles, up 19%

Jaguar Land Rover, the UK’s leading manufacturer of premium luxury vehicles continues its sales success with a strong November performance, retailing 37,403 vehicles in the month, up 25% versus the same period last year. During the first eleven months of the year, Jaguar Land Rover sold 384,339 vehicles, up 19%.

Sustained sales growth continues for Jaguar Land Rover with increases in: the China Region up 42%, North America up 37%, Asia Pacific up 32%, Europe up 7%, other overseas markets up 42%, with UK sales consistent with the previous year. Sales for the first eleven months of the year were up in all major regions with Asia Pacific up 30%, the China Region up 28%, North America up 21%, the UK up 14%, Europe up 6% and other overseas markets up 23%.

Commenting on the November performance Andy Goss, Jaguar Land Rover Group Sales Operations Director said: “November has been another solid month in what has so far, been a great year for Jaguar Land Rover. Our continued sales success is a testament to our sustained investment in new and exciting products which are driving growth internationally and attracting new customers to our brands”.


In November, Jaguar sold 6,244 vehicles up 55% reflecting particularly strong demand for the XJ and all XF derivatives, up 62% and 39% respectively. Jaguar demonstrated significant growth in the China Region, with North America up 105%, Asia Pacific up 62%, Europe up 5%, other overseas markets up 16%, The UK was down 5% as the registration year comes to an end.

Calendar year to date, Jaguar sold 69,655 vehicles up 42% with increases in each major region: the China Region up 144%, North America up 44%, Asia Pacific up 30%, the UK up 17%, Europe up 17% and other overseas markets up 31%.

Land Rover

In November, Land Rover sold 31,159 vehicles, up 20% with strong performances from all models in the range: Defender up 27% and Range Rover Evoque up 10%. Range Rover and Range Rover Sport continue to sell well across all markets. Land Rover demonstrated growth in all major regions: North America up 25%, Asia Pacific up 25%, China Region up 27%, the UK showed an improvement, Europe up 7% and other overseas markets up 45%.

Calendar year to date, Land Rover sold 314,684 vehicles up 14% with increases in all major regions: Asia Pacific up 31%, North America up 15%, UK up 13%, China Region  up 14%, Europe up 4% and other overseas markets up 22%.


Jaguar Land Rover parent says company is 'safe in our hands'

The owner of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has vowed that quality and brand values will not be compromised by its overseas expansion plans – and vowed to support the business for decades.

Last week, JLR announced it will open a manufacturing plant in Brazil in a £240m investment, with the first cars expected to roll off the production line by 2016.

This will follow the opening of a joint venture investment worth £1.5bn in China, with Chinese carmaker Chery, due to open in 2015.

Although JLR has not revealed what models will be produced in China and Brazil, Halewood’s popular Range Rover Evoque, which has taken the global market by storm since its launch more than two years ago, will be an obvious contender.

Roger Maddison, chief car industry negotiator for Unite the Union, said he sees no threat to UK jobs from the two proposed international plants.

But concerns have been raised about what impact they could have on the renowned British design qualities of JLR models, and the supreme quality of manufacturing at a company that prides itself on the high standards of its three UK plants in the West Midlands and Knowsley’s Halewood.

However, in an interview at Tata’s global headquarters in Mumbai, Mr Mukund Govind Rajan allayed any fears of compromise on JLR's standards.

He is a member of Tata’s group executive council and also brand custodian and chief ethics officer for the global conglomerate.

He told the Liverpool Post: “In China, setting up shop, a lot has to do with local recruitment and the value of training.”

JLR recently completed  a three- month training programme for China's “first joiners” who were tutored at Halewood in quality standards and will pass on their skills to the rest of the Chinese workforce.

Mr Rajan added: “We have terrific practices in the company and translating this to new facilities is not much of an issue.

“The brand will not undergo any changes in these markets. JLR brands will remain.

“Customers across the world have an affinity to JLR brands and the last thing we need to do as an owner is disrupt that relationship.

“We don’t want to create any kind of trouble for these brands.”

Mr Rajan said Tata had been delighted with the performance of JLR since it bought the group from Ford for £1.15bn and injected a further £1.5bn in 2009 to ensure its survival during one of the worst downturns in the automotive sector in decades.

And he reassured the UK workforce that Tata will be the custodian of JLR for decades to come.

“We have been delighted with the way the company and employees responded to the challenges at JLR,” he said.

“It is not about how do we save cash and cut back. It is about what do we do to build the business in the next 50 years. We don’t enter businesses easily, but when we do we are in it for the long term.

“We are not an aggressive, acquisitive entity, firing management and stripping assets and moving on. We build in the long term.”

When Tata bought JLR,  it also acquired Corus Steel in the UK and Mr Rajan admitted that there was a perception among Indian commentators and market analysts that the JLR deal was the “dodgier” of the two, but he said: “On current form,  JLR is turning out to be one of our outstanding successes.

“We work with the unions and the community and with JLR we have been very lucky and fortunate.

“There is a fair amount of satisfaction that a lot of growth has been seen and perhaps it has surprised the company, particularly the growth in China.

“But when we went in, this company had tradition and a legacy and a very interesting product pipeline and smart managers.

“We committed capital to ensure that pipeline was delivered and we needed leadership that was willing to give people the space to pursue their dreams.

“JLR meant a lot to the Tata group and they have a lot of time for the company and the new owners that inspired the managers.

“They knew we were watching and waiting for their success. It says a lot about the quality of the people we have there.”


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Stunning Alfa 4C gain FHM Magazine "car of the year" title

  • Alfa Romeo 4C takes top honours in the 2013 FHM Car of the Year awards
  • Lauded for its advanced, lightweight construction and immense driver appeal, the Alfa Romeo 4C is described by FHM’s influential editors as “a magic car”
  • This prestigious accolade is a significant endorsement for both the Alfa Romeo 4C and the Alfa Romeo brand from the UK’s biggest men’s lifestyle brand

The Alfa Romeo 4C has been named FHM Magazine’s 2013 Car of the Year. The editors of the UK’s biggest men’s lifestyle brand regard the Alfa Romeo 4C as the vehicle that the British man most aspires to, respects and desires. Alfa Romeo 4C has seen off significant competition to claim the overall victory in FHM’s inaugural Car of the Year awards, and the win highlights not only the appeal of the Alfa Romeo 4C to driving enthusiasts and petrol-heads, but also the broader desirability and allure of this exotic sports car and the Alfa Romeo brand.

Described by FHM as “one of the most exciting sports cars on the planet”, the Alfa Romeo 4C is lauded for its “supertech carbon-fibre chassis, super-lightweight body and clever steering” as well as the note of its engine and the “laser-precision” of its dynamics.

Designed, engineered and built in Italy as a pure driving machine, the mid-engined Alfa Romeo 4C is powered by a new, all-aluminium, 240hp, 1750 Turbo Petrol engine and features Alfa Romeo’s latest-generation ALFA TCT transmission and Alfa D.N.A. driving mode selector - now with a new “Race” mode. The 0-62 mph sprint takes just 4.5 seconds and top speed is 160 mph, but thanks to its light weight and advanced engine and transmission technologies, its official combined-cycle fuel economy figure is 41.5 mpg and its CO2 emissions are just 157g/km.

The Alfa Romeo 4C’s compact shape accentuates its remarkable agility: With a dry weight of 895kg; a 40:60 front-to-rear weight distribution; track-honed double-wishbone suspension and Brembo brakes, the Alfa Romeo 4C is capable of generating 1.1g of lateral acceleration and in excess of 1.2g of deceleration force.  The exhaust has been tuned to emit a full, rich sound and the unassisted steering is progressive, direct and engineered to convey as much feedback and feel as possible. The steering ratio (16:2) is such as to allow 90% of bends to be taken without having to take your hands off the steering wheel.

Conor McNicholas, FHM Motoring Editor commented: "After much deliberation, there was only one car that could take the accolade of FHM's Car of the Year. With its neck-tingling speed, dramatic looks and real-world price, the Alfa Romeo 4C was the car that most turned us on in 2013."

Damien Dally, Head of Brand, Alfa Romeo UK noted: “We’re thrilled that the Alfa Romeo 4C has taken top honours in the inaugural FHM Car of the Year awards. FHM has its finger on the pulse of what’s cool and desirable and for the editors to rate the Alfa Romeo 4C so highly is indicative of just what a game-changer this new supercar is.”

Priced from £45,000 OTR, the Alfa Romeo 4C will be available to order shortly, but with some customers putting their names forward when the concept was first unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2011 most, if not all, of the UK’s production allocation for 2014 is already spoken for.

Value - Practicality - Equipment - Space - Towing capability, that will be a Ssangyong then !

  • Prices from just £14,995
  • Contemporary new front styling
  • Completely redesigned interior
  • Greatly improved NVH
  • 5 year limitless mileage warranty
SsangYong is giving its Italian designed Korando crossover a fresh new look for 2014.
Already noted for its great value, high level of equipment, space and 2 tonne towing capability - the Korando SE recently won The Caravan Club Towcar of the Year Award 2014 for vehicles under £16,000 - the car now gets a makeover inside and out, and enhanced driving refinement.
Externally, the front receives an all-new treatment - a slimmed down, black mesh radiator grille, more contemporary headlights and a wider, low level air intake are the principal enhancements.  The new headlight units now comprise projection lamps and LED daytime running lights for increased visibility and safety, surrounded by a stylish black and aluminium bezel.  Further illumination is provided on the ELX4 model with neat round fog lamps set discreetly within the lower bumper.
At the rear, the design changes are focused on enhanced style with detail improvements such as the rear light cluster, which now includes LED lights for improved visibility.
There are new designs for both the 16-inch and 17-inch wheels, and three new exterior colours - Sunrise red, Cosmic blue and Carbonic grey as well as Space black, Grand white and Silent silver.
The interior of the car has also been given a significant re-design, and now combines an attractive and comfortable ambiance for the driver and passengers alike.  There is a completely redesigned dashboard featuring soft-touch materials for a greater sense of luxury, complemented by natural matt wood grain insets, and abundant storage space that includes enlarged cup holders, a mobile phone tray and flip-down sunglasses tray.
The new Korando is powered by a modern yet well-proven 2.0-litre Euro 5 engine.  The top of the range ELX4 automatic is matched with the powerful, smooth and efficient 175ps e-XDi200 diesel engine with a maximum power output of 175ps/4000rpm and peak torque of 360Nm/2,000-3,000rpm.  Models featuring manual transmission get the 149ps e-XDi200 engine which delivers the same maximum power and peak torque as the automatic, and is perfect for lively driving as well as for going off-road and towing.
Korando offers two transmissions: a 6-speed manual with high fuel efficiency and smooth gear shifting, and a 6-speed automatic with optimum gear ratios for smooth, comfortable driving.
Great advances in reducing NVH (noise, vibration & harshness) have been made to this new car, with particular attention focused on its engine mountings.  Stronger, reinforced mounting brackets are used which effectively reduce engine noise levels by up to 9.3%.  Korando is fitted with Macpherson struts to the front and multi-link suspension to the rear to provide excellent ride comfort, and the three point mountings to the rear axle effectively minimise noise and vibration.  New rubber bushes have been fitted to the car’s reinforced sub frames, further helping to minimise intrusive vibration and noise from the road surface and engine.
Three of the four new models come with four wheel drive, and unlike its competitors a very high percentage of customers choose their Korando with 4x4, an intelligent and advanced all-wheel drive (AWD) system based on SsangYong’s highly regarded four wheel drive technology and years of experience.  The torque-on-demand system senses the road surface and driving conditions and distributes the power to the wheels that need it most.
Under normal driving conditions, 100 per cent of the engine’s torque is delivered to the front wheels so that the car runs with optimised fuel efficiency.  On icy or slippery roads or when driving on wet off-road conditions, power is distributed to both the front and rear wheels to ensure a safe, stable and dependable drive.  The technology also works perfectly to give a smooth and safe departure when driving away from a standstill on a steep slope, while a lock mode distributes power equally between the front and rear wheels at speeds below 25mph to optimise traction.
With a ground clearance of 180mm, an approach angle of 22.8 degrees, 28.2 degree departure angle and a ramp angle of 18.5 degrees, the new Korando is as at home off-road as it is on the road, and a highly capable off-roader.
In conjunction with the standard Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with emergency brake assist and four-channel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), the four-wheel drive system provides the best possible grip and control whatever the conditions.  Hill Start Assist (HSA) and Active Roll-over Protection (ARP) also feature.
The new Korando offers the practicality and convenience of an SUV and the creature comforts of a saloon car.  Its generous proportions and wide interior space make this the perfect vehicle for both everyday use and leisure activities.  In the rear, there’s sufficient shoulder room for three adults to travel in complete comfort.  The seat back - which splits 60:40 - can be reclined up to 17.5 degrees, while the flat floor and generous legroom make it ideal for long journeys.  Lift the tailgate and you’ll find one of the largest load areas in this SUV sector (486 litres with the seats up and 1,312 litres when folded).  The rear seats fold completely flat, while there’s also an under-floor tray for storing valuables out of sight.
The new look Korando is a genuine SUV offering great driving performance both on and off-road together with a 2-tonne towing capability.  There are four models in the range with a comprehensive level of equipment and at prices many of its competitors fail to match. 
Cars arrive at dealers before the end of the year and are available to order now.

F-TYPE Coupé exclusively previewed at the event in advance of its official UK launch in February 2014

  • F-TYPE Coupé exclusively previewed at the event in advance of its official UK launch in February 2014
  • Andy Murray named winner of “jump off the sofa moment” and most inspirational sporting performance of the year, Sir Steve Redgrave wins Patrons Award for Sporting Legacy and Olympians of the future also awarded on the night
  • Event held at the Royal Opera House, London and hosted by British radio and TV presenter George Lamb and Sky Sports F1 presenter Natalie Pinkham

The all-new Jaguar F-TYPE Coupé has been exclusively previewed at the Jaguar Academy of Sport Annual Awards ahead of its official UK launch in February next year.

The new Jaguar F-TYPE Coupé was admired on the red carpet by British stars from the world of sport including Chris Froome, Sir David Brailsford, Dame Kelly Holmes, Denise Lewis and Adam Gemili.

Sir Dave Brailsford, Jaguar Academy of Sport Ambassador said: “I’ve always had a fantastic experience with Jaguar, and the support they provide to Team Sky is totally invaluable. The F-TYPE Coupé looks incredible here on the red carpet tonight.”

The awards themselves saw Andy Murray receive two new titles including “jump off the sofa moment” winner and most inspirational sporting performance of the year for winning Wimbledon 2013 – the first British male to do so since 1936.

Murray, who is also the hot favourite for this year’s Sports Personality of the Year, was unable to attend the event to collect his award as he is currently training in Miami in preparation for the Australian Open, but he sent a video message saying “it was a big honour to win the award as a lot of hard work went into achieving my goals at Wimbledon.”

Also winning on the night was British sporting legend and Academy Patron Sir Steve Redgrave who picked up the Jaguar Academy of Sport Patrons Award for Sporting Legacy for his contribution to the British sporting landscape. Sir Steve was presented his award by one of the most influential figures in this area, Sir Keith Mills.

Sir Steve Redgrave, Jaguar Academy of Sport Patron said: “It’s not only an honour to receive this award but also to be part of the Jaguar Academy of Sport. The Rising Stars are such an inspiration!”

The Jaguar Academy of Sport supports 50 Rising Stars each year with a Bursary Fund and Mentoring and Education Programme delivered by Kelly Holmes Education. Last night, five of those 50 Rising Stars were provided with Special Recognition Awards due to their outstanding achievements and interaction with the Academy over the past year. Those individuals were disability thrower Scott Thor Jones, rower Jess Leyden, taekwondo player Asia Bailey, gymnast Tyesha Mattis and wheelchair tennis player Esperanza Merry.

In 2010, Jade Jones was named the Jaguar Academy of Sport Star of the Future and went onto win Olympic gold in 2012. This year, young rower Jess Leyden has picked up the award for some outstanding performances including taking gold at the openweight women’s singles championship at the Junior Worlds and being 1st in the World Rankings 2013.

Jess Leyden, Jaguar Academy of Sport Star of the Future said: “I’m so thrilled to have won this award, it’s completely unexpected and a fantastic end to 2013, a year in which I’ve enjoyed great success on the water. The support from Jaguar has been invaluable and I have benefited from all the workshops, especially the one at Eton Dorney where I was able to take on advice from Katherine Grainger.”

Rolls Royce wins Top Gear Magazine award - with a rather splendid name

Rolls-Royce Wraith was honoured this evening at the BBC TopGear Magazine 2013 Car of the Year Awards, winning the category ‘Rather Splendid Motor Car of the Year’.

Following a comprehensive road-test by Associate Editor Tom Ford, Motoring Editor Ollie Marriage took on the role of delivery driver, traversing 951 miles from his home to the car’s International Media Launch in Vienna in one day, arriving in time for dinner.

In delivering the award, TopGear Magazine had this to say about the fastest, most powerful Rolls-Royce in history: “It’s massive and magnificent: a staggering, bewitching, gorgeous object to spend time with. In short, an experience.”

“Since launch, I have been delighted to see Wraith win plaudits from some of the most respected writers in our industry. In taking the car from the UK to Vienna in just one day, TopGear embraced the car’s intended use; crossing continents effortlessly at pace. This award today is an endorsement of Wraith’s status as the ultimate gentlemen’s gran turismo,” said Richard Carter, Director of Communications, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

This is not the first time Rolls-Royce has been honoured this year. Walpole awarded the marque its 2013 Award for Excellence in the British Luxury Brand category whilst the 2013 Centenary Alpine Trial won ‘Best Rally of the Year’ at the International Historic Motoring Awards.

Mclaren P1™ posts sub seven minute Nurburgring lap time.

  • The McLaren P1™ achieves  its one remaining performance target
  • An average speed in excess of 178 km/h (111 mph) necessary to achieve the required lap time around the 20.8km (13 mile) circuit
  • Short film celebrating the team’s achievement at the Nürburgring is available to view at you tube or below

The McLaren name was born on the racetrack and, 50 years on, is the most successful name in global motorsport. That desire and determination to push for every extra tenth of a second, and obsessive focus on perfection, has seen the final development objective for the now sold out McLaren P1™ achieved: a sub-seven minute lap time of the Nürburgring circuit.

From the outset, the McLaren P1™ has been developed with one clear goal: to be the best driver’s car on both road and track. To achieve this, the development programme has focussed on ensuring the McLaren P1™ pushes the boundaries in terms of sheer performance, with testing carried out in some of the harshest conditions around the world. But one challenge remained, and that was arguably the toughest of them all.

20.8 kilometres driven at an average speed in excess of 178 km/h. Sounds easy, until you add in more than 150 corners, 300 metres of elevation changes and cornering forces of up to 2g. All in less than seven minutes…

Commenting on the sub-seven achievement by the McLaren P1™, McLaren Formula 1™ driver and 2009 world champion Jenson Button said: ‘The fact that the McLaren P1™ has posted a sub-seven-minute lap at the Nürburgring is unbelievably impressive.

‘I’ve been an F1 driver for 14 years, and I’ve driven more than 240 Grands Prix and, although I’ve never raced an F1 car on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife circuit, because the last time the German Grand Prix was held there was before I was born, I know exactly how challenging, and daunting, a racetrack it is.

‘Over the past dozen-or-so years I’ve owned a lot of ultra-high-performance road cars. I’ve driven the McLaren P1™ on a number of occasions – including up the hill at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where it was sensational – and I think it’s a truly superb machine: unbelievably refined yet unbelievably quick.

‘But, as I say, for it to have recorded a sub-seven minute lap time around the Nürburgring is the icing on the cake: proof positive, backed by hard data, on the greatest racetrack of them all, that McLaren has created a genuine game-changer.’

The challenge: an average in excess of 178 km/h over 20.8 km

The Nürburgring-Nordschleife is the toughest test track to measure the all-round performance of any car.  And among the McLaren P1™’s performance targets, which included accelerating to 300kph (186mph) in less than 17 seconds onto a limited top speed of 350kph (217mph), was to achieve a sub-seven minute time around the German circuit.

No mean feat for a stripped out, track-focussed racing car, let alone a production car on standard road tyres, that offers superior levels of ride comfort and all round ability on road.

Sub-seven minutes – that calculates as an average speed of at least 178 km/h (111 mph) around the 20.8 kilometre (13 miles) circuit. And not just any circuit. One that includes some of the longest straights, tightest bends, steepest inclines, and more changes in road surface than any other circuit.

Location: the fearsome Nürburgring-Nordschleife

The Nürburgring, or the Nürburgring-Nordschleife to give it its full name, is one of the most fearsome circuits in the world. The 20.8 kilometre ribbon of tarmac through Germany’s Eifel Forest was a date on the Formula 1™ calendar up until 1976, when it was dropped from the championship on safety grounds after the crash that nearly cost Niki Lauda his life. That race, as depicted in the recent Hollywood blockbuster Rush, saw James Hunt claim pole position and overall race victory for McLaren, on his way to becoming world champion. The stage was set 37 years ago – McLaren: P1 at the Nürburgring.

A challenging mixture of off-camber corners and tight, technical sections finished with the 3.5 kilometre long Döttinger Höhe straight means a compromise between high downforce for optimised cornering and low drag for improved top speed for the ultimate lap.

Every lap, with its 154 corners and dramatic elevation and direction changes, is the ultimate challenge to both car and driver, and demands an optimised set up and full commitment and concentration. This is the place dubbed the ‘Green Hell’ by three-time Formula 1™ world champion Jackie Stewart, and the list of accidents and casualties is almost as long as the track itself – when it bites, it bites hard.

The lap: a driver’s eye view of sub seven minutes

The Supernova Silver example of the McLaren P1™, codenamed XP2R, was driven the 390 miles from Woking, England across to the Nürburgring ahead of this final development test phase, underlining the car’s unique road-to-race ability. On arrival at the track, ‘Race’ mode extended the active rear wing by 300mm, dropped the ride height by 50mm and saw the RaceActive Chassis Control suspension system stiffen by 300 percent – a fully-focussed track car at the push of a button.

The McLaren P1™ generates up to 600kgs of downforce through the use of advanced active aerodynamics which, in conjunction with the bespoke tyres, provides unprecedented levels of grip and superior balance and handling. This allows the McLaren P1™ to carry greater levels of speed through the corners, and achieve higher apex speeds, and the optimised traction enables the driver to get on the power earlier.

‘The track is like the rollercoaster from hell. However, the car feels balanced and poised throughout, and inspires you to push on with the levels of grip and all-round ability,’explains Goodwin.

‘The acceleration from the Aremberg right hander down the Fuchsröhre is absolutely amazing. I have only experienced acceleration like this before in a Formula 1 car. This downhill snaking section of the track is taken flat, using DRS, shifting gear all the way down to the base of the valley, and the compression that follows applies the maximum vertical g-forces to the car. The forces really load the tyres, chassis and wing, but it is taken with only a slight lift of the throttle.’

‘The numerous jumps that make the Nordschleife famous are an even bigger challenge than normal with the massive speeds we approach them. Flugplatz and Pflanzgarten are both taken at very high speed, but the levels of downforce generated combats these approach speeds, and keep the car really stable on 'landing'. They are both quite scary corners in any car, but I’ve never felt as confident. It’s just sensational.

‘Through Bergwerk [the corner at which Niki Lauda had his infamous accident in the 1976 German GP], you have to turn in late in order to carry as much speed as you can onto the following straight without running wide. Here, the awesome braking and pin-sharp steering of the McLaren P1™ were crucial, enabling me to get back on the throttle smoothly and quickly. That is a quick section, and one that feels fantastic when you get it just right.’

Immediately back on the pace on the exit of Bergwerk, the groundbreaking RaceActive Chassis Control (RCC) ensures the McLaren P1™ remains planted and balanced through a particularly bumpy section of track. Goodwin continues: ‘With a car this fast, stability is just as important as ultimate grip, and some of the bumpiest sections of the track are also the fastest. The relentless climb towards the Karussell is dealt with in a few spectacular moments as the full combined power of the powertrain punches the car up this long incline. At the top of the hill is one of the fastest corners on the lap, with a approach speed around 300 km/h, The track is really bumpy here, but the corner is dispatched with a light dab of the brakes in fifth gear.’

Cornering forces peak as the McLaren P1™ drops onto the banked concrete surface at the Karussell, and swings round more than 180 degrees. In terms of pure lateral g-forces, the driver is subjected to 3.9g.

From here, the McLaren P1™ enters the final stages of the lap, and the sprint to the finish. Running on road-legal Pirelli tyres specially developed for the McLaren P1™, the production-specification model set a relentless pace, peaking at the electronically limited 330 km/h (205 mph) available in ‘Race’ mode on the Döttinger Höhe straight.

Throughout the course of a single lap, a gear change was made, on average, every six seconds and, unlike in Formula 1™ when DRS is limited to one or maybe two designated zones to aid overtaking, the system was used for nine percent of the entire lap on seven separate occasions as Goodwin made his way towards the finish line.  The system is operated through the steering wheel-mounted button, and trims the twin element rear wing from 29° to 0°. When engaged, the use of DRS reduces downforce on the car by 60 percent.

‘The Döttinger Höhe straight disappears in no time,’ explains Goodwin. ‘From Galgenkopf the acceleration is brutal, but when you press the DRS button, it ramps up even further as the car slips through the air, and you arrive at the limited top speed of 330 kph in no time. And then, the car just sits there – ‘cruising’ – at this surreal speed, with the rough tarmac and Eifel mountain scenery flying by as if it’s a movie on fast forward.’

Having driven the full range of McLaren road and race cars, Goodwin is in a unique position to comment on the performance characteristics and abilities, and how the McLaren P1™ compares. Following his sub-420 second sprint around the fearsome Nürburgring circuit, he concludes: ‘Driving the McLaren P1™ at this pace, on this circuit, is the most impressive driving experience I've ever had in any road or race McLaren, on any road or track in the world.’

The result: worthy of the McLaren badge

For the team at McLaren, good is simply not good enough. This mentality has seen the McLaren name on the top step of the podiums in Formula 1™, Indianapolis 500, Can Am and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans – an achievement no other team can lay claim to. In Formula 1 alone, the team has won a quarter of all Grands Prix ever held, claiming 155 pole positions and 182 victories.

This list of achievements highlights the team’s desire to succeed, and the constant push for improvement. This mentality resonates through the entire McLaren Group, and achieving the sub-seven minute target time was just another objective on the list that the team within Automotive were determined to beat.

Goodwin concludes: ‘The sub-seven minute lap time of the Nürburgring was set as part of a list of targets the McLaren P1™ had to meet and, as with other objectives within the programme, the team has more than achieved what we set out to do. It is a fitting tribute to the company in its 50th year, and to Bruce, the founder, whose ideals we live every day.’

The car

The groundbreaking McLaren P1™ is equipped with a dual powerplant drivetrain generating 916PS (903 bhp). A highly efficient 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 petrol engine produces 737PS (727 bhp) which is coupled to a 179PS (176 bhp) lightweight electric motor to offer optimised performance. The efficient drivetrain offers instant torque and throttle response, with performance figures to match – 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 2.8 seconds, 0-200 km/h (124 mph) in 6.8 seconds and 0-300 km/h (186 mph) in 16.5 seconds.

The combination of optimised aerodynamics, cutting-edge bespoke systems developed with technical partners and never-before-used technologies, have ensured the McLaren P1™ has achieved, and in many cases exceeded, all objectives during development. It is the culmination of five decades of race-winning knowledge and expertise which has been transferred to the track with the motivating factors that have driven the McLaren name to be one of the most successful in motorsport – belief and a desire to achieve.

Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Automotive explained: ‘This final challenge for the McLaren P1™ was very publicly set out earlier this year, and the result is true testament to the team in Woking. Not only in terms of what has been achieved in Germany, but in what has been achieved with this project. The McLaren P1™ is a technical tour de force, and is truly a car that we at McLaren are very proud of. The desire to push the envelope of performance, and achieve the sub-seven minute lap time, shows the spirit of Bruce McLaren lives in the company 50 years on.’

‘The Nürburgring is one of the most daunting and challenging stretches of road anywhere in the world, and is the perfect final test for the McLaren P1™, as it brings together all of the elements of the development programme we have worked through, and subjects the systems and technologies to the ultimate seven minute punishment.

‘We set a series of challenging targets throughout the development of the McLaren P1™, with the most significant one being the fact that the car would be the best driver’s car on both road and track. I am extremely proud of the fact that we have achieved everything we originally set out to do, and in such a convincing manner.’

A sub-seven minute lap time of the Nürburgring-Nordschleife was the final objective in the development programme for the most technologically advanced car ever produced in the UK. This latest achievement for the team at McLaren was made possible through close collaboration with world-leading Partners, providing specialist expertise and technical support throughout the duration of the project.

A unique and highly efficient braking system from Akebono, providing stopping ability akin to a fully-focused racing car; a specially-formulated lightweight paint system by AkzoNobel offering optimised performance and aerodynamics; advanced performance and cooling characteristics of Mobil 1 lubricants in the engine and gearbox; bespoke high performance tyres created by Pirelli designed and developed specifically to manage the unprecedented downforce and cornering forces generated; and the use of highly accurate TAG Heuer timing technology and equipment for the continual verification of performance characteristics during the development programme.

Stunning A1 crossover concept to debut at NAIAS in Detroit

  • Crossover for all roads and tracks, for everyday driving and recreational use
  • Pioneering design, with precise lines and taut surfaces
  • Audi to present the two-door car at the NAIAS in Detroit

Agile, compact and versatile: The new Audi show car is making its debut in January 2014 at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The two-door model with its high ground clearance is a crossover with a distinctly sporting slant – a car for all roads and tracks, for everyday driving and recreational use.

The show car is a systematic development of the Audi design language. It combines a host of visual elements from future models with the Audi-typical allroad concept and independent “Shooting Brake”
body style.

Measuring 4.20 metres in length, the show car has a powerful road stance. Precise and clearly drawn lines as well as geometric surfaces are combined to create a sculpted, clear design form. It is almost as if the outer skin of the two-door car has been modelled from a solid piece, from the Singleframe grille and striking side tornado line to the taut, coupé-like rear. The overhangs are short; the roof line is low and it ends in a strong C pillar. The pronounced horizontal body line and the large 19-inch wheels emphasise the impression of concentrated energy.

The show car is a compelling blend of form and function. The characteristic allroad design features serve to seemingly contract its dimensions visually while also underscoring its offroad character. The aluminium underbody guards at front and rear emphasize the width and protect the car off road.

Design elements that are typical of e-tron models, such as the ribs in the Singleframe grille and in the side air inlets, fit in harmoniously with the overall design concept. The dual headlights and the honeycomb-structured Singleframe grille indicate the further development of the quattro design language which Audi already presented with its Sport quattro concept show car in September of this year at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt.

Mercedes posts record sales and breaks the 100k mark for the first time in the UK

  • Mercedes-Benz UK exceeds 100,000 new car registrations in a year for the first time
  • 7,813 new cars registered in November 2013 – a best-ever month
  • AMG registrations rise 47 per cent to 2,947 year to date (YTD)
  • Van registrations increase 17.7 per cent YTD, to 26,730 units
  • Actros again leads the truck division – up 42 per cent YTD

Mercedes-Benz UK’s record registration year continued in November 2013, with the company reporting its best-ever results, according to figures released today by SMMT.  The company is still the fastest-growing premium brand in the UK car market, with registrations growing 19 per cent over 2012’s previous records.

Passenger car registrations – at 7,813 for the month – were the best November result ever-seen, and contributed to a monthly market share of 4.9 per cent.  For the first time in its UK history, the company has achieved more than 100,000 new car registrations in a year – the YTD figure shows that 102,044 new cars have taken to Britain’s roads in 2013.  The 100,000th customer was Jamie Leigh Arndell, who collected her first Mercedes-Benz, a white A 180 CDI Sport, from the company’s retailer in Bristol, on Friday 29 November.  She joins the 16,397 drivers who have taken delivery of an A-Class so far this year.

Elsewhere, the new generation E-Class range is proving particularly popular, with all four body styles showing significant growth YTD.  E-Class Coupé is up nine per cent to 4,470 cars; E-Class Cabriolet up six per cent to 4,112; E-Class Estate shows an eight per cent rise to 4,001; whilst the E-Class Saloon is up to 14,505 new cars – an increase of 36 per cent YTD.

Deliveries of the new S-Class luxury saloon in November were almost double its nearest rival, and registrations of the new range and the run-out year of the old model are at 1,372 new cars, keeping S-Class as the most successful luxury saloon in the UK.

High performances were also reported across the company’s AMG range, with 2,947 cars registered so far in 2013 – a growth of 47 per cent.  The C 63 AMG remains the UK’s most popular choice, with 1,522 registered this year, and more than 320 A 45 AMGs have taken to the UK’s roads in 2013.

Commercial vehicles

A strong month saw van registrations rise 18.5 per cent in November 2013, with Vito up 29.2 per cent to 513 units.  Sprinter, with 18,488 registered YTD, reported an increase of 14.4 per cent so far this year.  Combined results mean that the Vans division is looking set to have a record-breaking performance in 2013 once the year-end results are published in a month.

In Trucks, deliveries of the new Antos and Arocs ranges began, but it was tractor units where the biggest success was shown.  Axor registrations were up 34.8 per cent in November, to 248 units, whilst Actros more than doubled the same month last year, with 459 units registered.  So far this year, 2,713 Actros have been registered – up 42 per cent on 2012.

Commenting on the results, Marcus Breitschwerdt, President and CEO Mercedes-Benz UK, commented:  “November 2013 has entered Mercedes-Benz UK’s history books as a real milestone.  Breaking through the 100,000 new car sales figure is a landmark achievement, helped by a strong model range – in fact we offer the widest choice of vehicles in the entire industry.  It’s fantastic to see that British customers are voting with their purchase and lease choices in record numbers.

“Our success isn’t confined to one part of our range though – as well as new compact cars like the A-Class and CLA, the extensive revisions we made to E-Class earlier this year have shown strong growth across all four body styles.  The car has been tailored to specifically meet UK demands and market conditions, and our engine and equipment packages are key in contributing to these numbers.”

Marcus Breitschwerdt continued:  “We’re also showing class-leading results in luxury and high-powered motoring, too.  We’ve been in run-out of the previous S-Class for most of the year, but still lead the segment despite sales of the new model only beginning recently.  And it’s great to see AMG sales continuing to accelerate hard.  Record after record is being broken.

“Our commercial vehicles division is recovering strongly too, with our vans on the verge of a significant best-ever record performance this year.  Market conditions have influenced the tractor segment, but as the first manufacturer to bring Euro 6 trucks to the UK, we’re seeing great results in both Euro 5 and Euro 6 products.”

Marcus Breitschwerdt concluded: “There’s only one month to go in 2013, and I’m confident that Mercedes-Benz UK will end the year in style.  Our significant, consistent record-breaking performance is due to a lot of factors – great products sold and serviced by a great team across our networks help of course.  But we’d be nowhere without our customers, who have a greater choice of cars, vans and trucks than ever before.  On behalf of the whole company my sincere thanks go to everyone who has chosen to join or remain in the Mercedes-Benz family this year.”