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.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The new classier, luxurious and far better looking Mercedes C-Class

The all-new C-Class heralds a new chapter in the Mercedes-Benz success story and sets new standards in the premium mid-range class. Thanks to an intelligent lightweight design concept boasting weight savings of up to 100 kilograms, excellent aerodynamics and new, economical engines, the C-Class establishes new benchmarks in its class. A host of new assistance systems offer safety of the highest standard, while a new suspension, optionally air-sprung, provides for exemplary ride and driving comfort as well as nimble and agile handling.

In terms of appearance, the new C-Class adopts a progressive approach with its clear yet emotional design and its high-class interior. Many other innovations and interior touches underscore the Saloon's comfort and refined sportiness. In all, the perceived quality of the new C-Class feels like an “upgrade to a higher class of travel”.

The C-Class is the biggest-selling model series from Mercedes-Benz. Sales of the preceding model, which was launched in 2007, total over 2.4 million (165,194 examples in the UK). The new C-Class offers sensuous and clear design and a host of technical innovations as well as a comprehensive scope of standard equipment and exemplary emission and fuel consumption values.

"Mercedes at its best - that's the new C-Class, which sets new standards for the mid-range segment on many fronts," says Prof. Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. "It is characterised by an emotional yet clear design which is continued in the high-quality and modern interior. Its efficient and high-performance engineering provides the basis for a high standard of driving enjoyment."

Ola Källenius, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing Mercedes-Benz Cars, adds: "The new C-Class embodies Mercedes-Benz's claim "The best or nothing" in uncompromising style. This is immediately apparent when encountering our new Saloon for the first time, as it creates the impression that one is sitting in a higher class of automobile. I am sure that our customers will be delighted by the high-class appeal and agility of the new C-Class."

The C-Class has grown to take account of people's increasing average height. With an 80-mm increase in the wheelbase (2840 mm) compared with the previous model, the vehicle is 95 mm longer (4686 mm and 40 mm wider (1810 mm). The resultant additional space benefits first and foremost the rear passengers, who now travel in even greater comfort. The new C-Class also outstrips its predecessor in terms of boot capacity, at 480 litres (in accordance with ISO 3832).

Sensuous clarity and purist forms

On a visual level, the new C-Class represents a bold departure from its predecessor. Its striking, dynamic design exudes sensuous clarity and arouses emotions. Nature was a source of inspiration for the new Saloon's aesthetically sensuous lines and surfaces, whose harmony and dynamism create an immediate effect. The designers have created minimalist, purist forms for the C-Class, which emphasize its intelligent technology and engineering. The clearly defined surfaces deliberately display a degree of tension, lending them a muscular and sensuous character. Precise lines and sculptural surfaces create lively light and shade effects.

As Gorden Wagener, Vice President Design Daimler AG, notes: "The new C-Class showcases automotive passion by way of a contemporary design idiom. Progressive and emotional highlights underscore the ground-breaking design style of the new C-Class and demonstrate sensual clarity. The new C-Class interprets modern luxury on a new level.

In the side view a long bonnet, a passenger compartment set well back and short overhangs define the C-Class's classic, well-balanced Mercedes-Benz saloon proportions. Large wheels emphasise the rear and communicate a stylishly sporty character.

The new C-Class comes with H7 halogen headlamps as standard. In addition to the standard-fit headlamps, two energy-saving LED variants are available: a static system and a dynamic version with "LED Intelligent Light System". The characteristic night design lends the new C-Class its very own distinctive look in the dark, too. The rear lamp and brake light in the tail lights feature LED technology in all headlamp versions.

High-class interior with fine details

The Mercedes-Benz designers have styled the interior on a level, which is rarely encountered even in higher vehicle categories. This applies to the carefully chosen high-class materials and their pleasant touch and feel as well as the precision of the finely crafted details. The interior also embodies a new design idiom, which combines sensuousness and clarity perfectly with dynamic sportiness and contributes to the quality feel of the interior.

The driver and front passenger enjoy plenty of space and luxury in a discreet, modern guise on board the new C-Class. This gives rise to a feel-good atmosphere, which is new to this class of vehicle – settling into your seat in the C-Class, is akin to the uplifting feeling of being upgraded from economy to business class on an aeroplane.

The interior design demonstrates a bold new approach by Mercedes-Benz. Here the designers combine in accomplished style the architecture of Mercedes-Benz sports cars with an all new centre console featuring flowing lines. In automatic vehicles, a large one-piece centre console panel performs an elegant sweep from the centre air vents to the armrest. These seamless clear-cut lines create a sense of open space and convey a thrillingly purist and modern feel.

On vehicles with manual transmission, the centre console is slightly steeper and features two separate trim elements in order to create ample space for ergonomic operation of the shift lever.

A centrally positioned free-standing central display is the main eye-catching feature across the centre console – with a screen diagonal of 17.78 cm (7 inches), or 21.33 cm (8.4 inches) if COMAND Online is specified.

Five round air vents lend the dashboard a sporty touch. With their metallic cool-touch effect, they create a fascinating, tangible contrast to the warm look of the other materials – such as the wood in the centre console or the leather on the dashboard. The "upgrade" feel duly continues with the controls. All switches feature a high-quality, three-dimensional design befitting a luxury vehicle and benefit from a clear layout.

The innovative touchpad in the handrest over the Controller on the centre tunnel marks a further evolutionary step developed in-house at Mercedes-Benz. As on a smartphone, this provides for very simple and intuitive operation of all the head-unit functions using finger gestures. The touchpad also permits letters, numbers and special characters to be entered in handwriting - in any language. The user receives clear haptic feedback when operating the touchpad's control surface, which is highly conducive to genuine intuitive use.

Head-up display is also new to the C-Class. Like in a jet fighter, it displays important information directly in the driver's field of vision on the front windscreen, thus providing for clear legibility and ensuring that the driver is distracted less from the road ahead. The system provides information on vehicle speed, speed limits and navigation instructions and displays messages from DISTRONIC PLUS.

Three different design and equipment lines for the exterior and interior respectively offer further scope for individualisation in addition to the standard equipment and appointments.

Robust yet lightweight bodyshell

The body-in-white of the new C-Class provides an innovative basis for reduced weight, outstanding rigidity for excellent handling, combined with optimum noise and vibration characteristics and a high level of crash safety. Thanks to intelligent and innovative lightweight construction, the aluminium hybrid body is around 70 kg lighter than a conventional steel body. The vehicle's overall weight is reduced by around 100 kilograms. As such, the new C-Class leads the "lightweight rankings" in its segment. This spawns numerous benefits: the lightweight construction of the new C-Class cuts fuel consumption by up to 20 per cent without any loss of performance, while at the same time enabling a lower centre of gravity, which in turn gives rise to the vehicle's noticeably sporty and agile handling.

Mercedes-Benz achieves this feat of lightweight construction by various measures, including a completely new structural design and the use of an unusually high proportion of aluminium for a mass-produced range. The share of aluminium has risen compared with the successful predecessor from under 10 per cent to almost 50 per cent.

In keeping with Mercedes-Benz traditions, the body is designed for exemplary crash safety. As a result, the Saloon complies not only with all current national laws but also with all rating requirements, as well as meeting the more stringent internal Mercedes-Benz safety standards based on what actually happens during accidents.

A high-strength safety passenger compartment forms the core of this concept. It is surrounded by specifically configured and field-tested deformation zones, which ensure maximum safety for the occupants by virtue of optimised force paths and a combination of aluminium castings and ultra-high-strength materials. An outer skin consisting almost completely of aluminium provides a protective shell for the body.

Leading the field in aerodynamics and quiet running

Low drag is crucial to achieving outstanding efficiency. From a speed of just under 43 mph, aerodynamic drag exceeds the sum total of all other driving resistance factors. As such, drag constitutes a major parameter in efforts to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. With a Cd value of 0.24 for the

C 220 BlueTEC ECO, the new C-Class Saloon sets a new benchmark in the mid-range segment. The wind noise level, which was already very low in the preceding generation of the C-Class, has been lowered still further.

The engineers have also devoted painstaking attention to optimising other potential sources of disturbance which may have an adverse effect on the driver's and passengers' wellbeing and concentration, even though they may not consciously notice the effects. NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) is the technical term for such nuisance factors. The specialists have optimised the noise characteristics of the interior blower, the power windows, the seat adjustment functions and many other actuation and operating noises, for example. As a result, the new C-Class occupies a benchmark position in its segment.

Outstanding CO2 values with new small diesel engine

Powerful and efficient petrol and diesel engines, all equipped with the ECO start/stop function and complying with the Euro 6 emissions standard, provide for lively performance and great driving enjoyment. They also cut fuel consumption by up to 20 per cent compared with the preceding model.

Three engine variants are available at the market launch - a diesel in the guise of the C 220 BlueTEC and the two petrol models, C 180 and C 200:

Soon after the launch, Mercedes-Benz will expand the range of engines including a new, small diesel engine with a displacement of 1.6 litres.  Reduced weight, compact design and low fuel consumption are among its special merits. Depending on its configuration, the single-stage supercharged four-cylinder engine generates 115 or 136 hp of power from a cubic capacity of 1598cc and delivers 280 or 320 Nm of torque. Its common rail direct injection system operates at a maximum injection pressure of 1600 bar. This engine places the new C-Class in a leading position within its segment in terms of CO2 emissions.

In addition to this new small diesel engine, an advanced version of the proven 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine is also to become available in several output variants. The diesel engines will then cover an output range from 115 hp to 204 hp. The C 220 BlueTEC will also be available with an output of 170 hp. All the diesel engines of the new C-Class are equipped with the established SCR technology (selective catalytic reduction) for environmental friendly driving and to ensure that the C-Class models with diesel engines attain efficiency class A at least, and in most cases even efficiency class A+.

BlueDIRECT petrol engines with third-generation direct injection

The BlueDIRECT four-cylinder petrol engines of the C-Class combine spontaneous response and exemplary power delivery with high efficiency and best in class emission performance. To this end, Mercedes-Benz has transferred the BlueDIRECT technology from the V6 and V8 engines to the four-cylinder engine. The direct injection system with spray-guided combustion, which was introduced into series production by Mercedes-Benz as the first automotive manufacturer, employs a multiple injection process, which is precision-controlled by means of an electronic system. The third-generation direct injection technology is complemented by "fast multiple ignition"

Hybrid with four-cylinder diesel and petrol engine

As in the S and E-Class, Mercedes-Benz will additionally be offering a diesel engine combined with a hybrid module. The C 300 BlueTEC HYBRID with four-cylinder diesel engine and a compact electric motor generates an output of 204 + 27 hp and runs on only 72.4 mpg in NEDC combined mode (provisional figure). A further particularly economical hybrid model, which is to follow in time, will feature state-of-the-art plug-in technology.

Optimised drivetrain

Depending on the installed output ratings, Mercedes-Benz is offering two new 6-speed manual transmissions for the four-cylinder engines in the new C-Class which stand apart first and foremost by virtue of their enhanced ease of shifting coupled with increased shifting precision and a harmonious gear-change sequence. Smooth automatic gear shifting is provided by the 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission, which has undergone further development at Mercedes-Benz in the interests of enhanced environmental-friendliness and driving pleasure.

Suspension – sporty yet comfortable

The suspension on the new C-Class is an all-new development. It provides for nimble and agile handling that makes driving a great pleasure on winding roads while also offering the highest standard of ride comfort in the segment.

A newly designed 4-link front axle plays a major part in the agile handling characteristics. Thanks to the 4-link principle, the front independent suspension is fully decoupled from the spring strut. Axle kinematics allow more grip and higher lateral stability. As a result, the suspension responds more sensitively to steering movements and allows a sporty, agile driving style. An optimised multi-link independent rear suspension with 5-link concept ensures unsurpassed wheel location qualities and supreme straight-line stability.

The new C-Class Saloon is fitted as standard with steel suspension. Three DIRECT CONTROL suspensions with selective damping system are available in conjunction with this suspension:

  • a comfort suspension
  • a lowered comfort suspension with a sportier character
  • a sports suspension lowered by 15 mm
First air suspension in this category

Alternatively, the new C-Class is the first vehicle in its segment that can be fitted with an air suspension (AIRMATIC) on the front and rear axles. Thanks to electronically controlled, continuous variable damping at the front and rear, it offers outstanding road roar and tyre vibration characteristics even with the vehicle loaded. The driver can use the AGILITY SELECT switch to choose between the various characteristics: "Comfort", "ECO", "Sport" and "Sport+". The additional "Individual" option enables drivers to configure their vehicle according to their own wishes. AIRMATIC also features all-round self-levelling for optimum ride comfort even when the vehicle is loaded.

The new C-Class also comes with an electric parking brake as standard. This brake is released automatically when the driver ends parking mode with the aim of moving off.

Steering with a sporty character

All models of the C-Class family will feature the electromechanical Direct Steer system as standard. This combines road-speed-dependent power assistance from the speed-sensitive power steering system with a steering ratio, which varies according to the given steering angle. The power steering assistance provided by the rack and pinion steering gear is controlled on-demand, thereby contributing towards efficiency.

Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive: The intelligent car

It is the declared aim of Mercedes-Benz to make the highest standard of safety available to everyone. To this end, the new C-Class incorporates almost all of the new assistance systems with a host of enhanced functions, which celebrated their world premiere in the S-Class and E-Class only a few months ago. The assistance systems enhance both comfort and safety. Mercedes-Benz calls this Intelligent Drive.

The new C-Class offers numerous innovative safety and assistance systems. It is fitted as standard with ATTENTION ASSIST, which can warn the driver of inattentiveness and drowsiness. On motorways, the COMAND system navigation function flags up nearby break options as stopovers, providing the system has been specified in the vehicle. The ATTENTION ASSIST function offers an adjustable level of sensitivity and can inform the driver in a separate view in the instrument cluster about their level of drowsiness and how long they have been driving since their last break.

In addition to Adaptive Brake Assist, which offers protection from collisions from speeds as low as 5 mph, standard-fit COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS also features an additional function: when a danger of collision persists and the driver fails to respond, the system is able to carry out autonomous braking at speeds of up to 125 mph, thereby reducing the severity of collisions with slower or stopping vehicles. The system also brakes in response to stationary vehicles at a speed of up to 31 mph, and is able to prevent rear-end collisions at speeds of up to 25 mph.

New assistance systems and existing assistance systems with a host of enhanced functions from the new S-Class and E-Class are also optionally available, combining data from various sensor technologies as part of the Intelligent Drive concept to enhance comfort and safety substantially:

  • DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist and integrated Stop Go Pilot is a semi-automatic traffic jam assistant which at speeds less than 37 mph is able to follow the vehicle ahead even where lane markings are unclear or completely lacking, thus providing a safe and convenient means of following the flow of traffic.
  • The BAS PLUS Brake Assist System can now also detect crossing traffic and boost the braking force if the driver fails to apply the brakes sufficiently; the PRE-SAFE® Brake can detect stationary vehicles as well as pedestrians, brake automatically if the driver fails to react, thus preventing accidents up to 31 mph and mitigating the severity of collisions at speeds of up to 45 mph. In flowing traffic, the PRE-SAFE® Brake provides assistance according to the same mode of operation throughout the speed range from five to 125 mph.
  • Enhanced Active Lane Keeping Assist can now also prevent the vehicle from unintentionally drifting out of lane when broken lane markings apply and a risk of a collision arises, e.g. as a result of vehicles overtaking at high speed, parallel traffic or even oncoming traffic, by applying the brakes on one side.

The numerous assistance systems also include

  • Active Parking Assist, which enables automated parking with active steering and brake intervention in both parallel and end-on parking spaces,
  • a 360° camera, which is able to show the vehicle and its surroundings from various perspectives, including a virtual bird's eye view,
  • Traffic Sign Assist with Wrong-Way Alert, which warns of speed limits and alerts the driver to no-overtaking zones and no-entry signs,
  • Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus, which allows the high-beam headlamps to be kept on permanently without dazzling traffic by masking out other vehicles in the cone of light from the high-beam headlamps.

Airbags for safety

In addition to 3-point seat belts with pyrotechnical belt tensioning and belt force limitation for the driver, the front passenger and those in the outer rear seats, numerous airbags serve to protect the vehicle's occupants in an accident.

These include:

  • pelvisbags for driver and front passenger
  • a newly developed windowbag
  • sidebags for the outer rear seats
  • a kneebag for the driver

The front passenger seat can additionally be fitted with automatic child seat recognition, which dispenses with the previous transponder in favour of a weight mat. This enables any child seat to be used. The airbag is automatically deactivated when a child seat is fitted and reactivated once it has been removed.

Air conditioning: signals from space

Mercedes-Benz has undertaken systematic further development and substantial improvement of the air conditioning system in the new C-Class. This applies in particular to the control quality, performance, efficiency and air quality. The new C-Class is also the only vehicle in the segment to offer tunnel detection via satellite navigation. It uses the map information from the navigation system and the GPS location data to close the air recirculation flap automatically when the vehicle enters a tunnel, subsequently re-opening it when the vehicle emerges from the tunnel.

Another highlight contributing to a feel-good atmosphere is the AIR-BALANCE package with active fragrancing, air ionisation and more efficient filtration than is available on the standard model.

Vibrant infotainment

A completely new multimedia generation offers intuitive operation in the new C-Class, featuring elaborate animations and visual effects, which present all the functions in a clear and highly attractive manner. The new C-Class is also equipped with the unique Frontbass system. This avant-garde acoustic systems uses the space within the cross-member and side member in the body structure as a resonance chamber for the bass speakers to conjure up a listening experience almost on a par with a concert hall. A Burmester® surround sound system is optionally available.

The navigation system presents its contents in interactive mode. Its features include an animated compass, a "Drive Show" with information for passengers similar to the on-screen presentations on board aeroplanes and Google Maps displayed on the head unit. The navigation system is also able to provide more accurate real-time information about the situation on the roads when it receives its traffic data via internet by means of the "Live Traffic Information" service.

Internet and diverse data sources already available in the basic version

A Bluetooth-capable mobile phone with data option is all it takes to make the Audio 20 system internet-capable. This enables the internet to be surfed without restrictions when the vehicle is stationary. While on the move, Mercedes-Benz Apps such as Weather, GoogleTM Local Search with StreetView and Panoramio, Destination/Route Download and Facebook can be used.

Audio and video playback is possible from various sources, e.g. via Bluetooth, from the Apple iPod and iPhone, from SD card, USB stick or CD/DVD (with Audio 20 CD or higher and with COMAND Online).

COMAND Online with hotspot functionality

COMAND Online not only offers a larger display with a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels and a special bonded glass cover such as is familiar from consumer devices like the iPhone or iPad. It also enables digital TV / radio reception, for example, and offers a host of other features including fast hard-disc navigation, automatic tailback avoidance via up-to-date and accurate "Live Traffic Information" traffic data, integrated WLAN hotspot functionality and the LINGUATRONIC voice control system.

Telephony via Bluetooth as standard

The basic Audio 20 system as well as Audio 20 CD and COMAND Online all offer basic telephony as standard, which links up a mobile phone to the vehicle via a standard Bluetooth interface.

UK specification and pricing are still to be confirmed.

Caterham to wow the crowds with its most exciting stand ever, at 2014 Autosport show

Caterham is set to showcase its most exciting line-up to date at the 2014 Autosport International Show on 9th – 12th January 2014 at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham.

The British sportscar maker has enjoyed a landmark year and will display a whole host of products from across the entire Caterham Group; headlined by the AeroSeven concept car which was revealed at the Singapore Grand Prix earlier this year.

In addition to the concept, the 2013 CT03 Caterham F1 car will be on the stand, alongside the SP/300.R racing and trackday car, the new Superlight R300 championship race car, the Seven 485 SV  and the Caterham Kart.

In Hall 4, the ever-popular Caterham Experience will be running for the duration of the 4-day-long show. Visitors can experience a thrilling passenger ride in a Seven alongside Caterham’s team of professional drivers on a bespoke indoor drift course. In addition, a limited number of lucky visitors will also have the chance to get behind the wheel and master the art of donutting for themselves with Caterham’s team of expert tyre screechers. Spaces on the Caterham Donut School are limited and are a firm favourite with show goers; book early to avoid disappointment.

The AeroSeven concept, which will go on sale next year, was designed with significant input from all of the Caterham Group divisions and draws heavily on methods and technologies used by the F1 team. The AeroSeven will be the very first Caterham to be fitted with traction control, thanks to a newly-developed Caterham Engine Management System. The concept features styling that hints strongly towards the future of Caterham design.

In October, Caterham launched its most accessible model to date – the Caterham Seven 160 – which is powered by a three-cylinder 80hp Suzuki engine and is priced from just £14,995 in component form. A special, handmade cut-away model of the entry-level car will be on show alongside Caterham’s most powerful Seven ever, the 620R. At the opposite end of the performance spectrum to the 160, the 620R boasts 310bhp and achieves 0-60 mph in just 2.79 seconds.

At last year’s Autosport International Show, the firm revealed the brand new Caterham Kart - which will form the basis of a new, accessible karting championship in the UK.

The new championship is open to 13 – 16 year olds and entry into the series is priced at just £5,994. True to Caterham’s ethos of making performance accessible, the championship intends to revive karting as a sport in its own right and will commence in 2015.

Visitors to the show will find Caterham on stand 2540 in Hall 20 and the Caterham Drive Experience can be found in hall 4. Any Caterham driver who brings their Seven key to the stand will also be entitled to a complimentary beverage in the exclusive customer area.

Range Rover Sport conquers Empty Quarter Desert - Exclusive Land Rover video

  • New documentary film shows the new Range Rover Sport’s 800km dawn to dusk drive across the Empty Quarter desert – setting the fastest recorded time for the crossing of 10 hours and 22 minutes
  • Film live on Land Rover’s YouTube channel from today
  • Features behind-the-scenes footage with off-road racer Moi Torrallardona as he pilots the standard production vehicle to victory
  • Second installment of the Driven Challenges - follows the new Range Rover Sport setting the production SUV speed record at Pikes Peak back in June

Land Rover has today revealed an exclusive new documentary film charting the new Range Rover Sport’s challenge to complete the fastest recorded crossing of the Empty Quarter desert, which it achieved last month.

The video, which can be seen on Land Rover’s YouTube channel here tracks the team’s 849km journey from Wadi Adda Wasir in Saudi Arabia to the border of the United Arab Emirates. The team completed the challenge on November 3rd 2013, finishing in 10 hours and 22 minutes at an average speed of 51.87 mph (81.87 km/h), and the documentary charts the journey from beginning to end.

The short film features spectacular footage from inside and outside the vehicle, as well as epic shots of the barren environment that the team faced as they tackled the largest sand desert in the world.  Viewers will see the new Range Rover Sport pummel the desert flats at full speed, tip toe down the steepest sand dunes and navigate the myriad of obstacles that the desert threw up – including rogue camels appearing from nowhere. Sand storms, immense heat and punishing jumps are just some of the challenges that pushed man and machine to the limit.

Behind-the-scenes footage shows the man behind the drive - 47 year-old Spanish off-road racer Moi Torrallardona – and charts the physical and mental endurance that led to his success. Torrallardona said: “The Empty Quarter was an incredible challenge and one that will live with me for the rest of my life. The Range Rover Sport was the ideal tool for conquering the desert and it is great to be able to relive the challenge through this short documentary. The Empty Quarter provided a unique test for a standard production vehicle and thanks to the ability of the Range Rover Sport we came out victorious.”

The challenge was completed in a standard production new Range Rover Sport with a 510PS 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol engine, running standard tyres. The only modification to the vehicle was the fitment of an underbody protection plate. This vehicle was displayed at the Dubai Motor Show on the 5th November, just two days after completing the desert crossing.

The class-leading, genuine Land Rover all-terrain capability, breakthrough lightweight suspension design and innovative dynamic chassis technologies all helped the new Range Rover Sport conquer one of its toughest challenges yet.

The challenge is the second that the new Range Rover Sport has completed in recent months, following its record hill climb for a production SUV at Pikes Peak back in June, the short documentary of which can be viewed here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaPiM_mish4

These feats are part of a series of global driving challenges in which the Range Rover Sport is pushed to new limits.

The video and further shots can be downloaded from www.uk.media.landrover.com

The Empty Quarter

The Empty Quarter spans four countries in the Arabic Peninsula: Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Temperatures regularly rise above 50°C and any crossing, no matter how well organised, must be approached with extreme caution.

All-new Range Rover Sport

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

Exploiting Land Rover’s breakthrough lightweight suspension design and innovative dynamic chassis technologies, the all-new Range Rover Sport’s first-in-class aluminium architecture achieves a weight saving of more than 420kg.

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

Sunday, 15 December 2013

50 years in development, the new Worldwide Mustang takes a bow

  • All-new sophisticated design clearly inspired by 50 years of Mustang heritage evolved to attract wider array of customers and expand global market availability
  • Mustang now available with three engines offering a broader power of choice – a more powerful 5.0-liter V8, a 3.7-liter V6 and an all-new fuel-efficient 2.3-liter EcoBoost® engine
  • Mustang sets new performance and dynamics benchmarks for the brand with world-class handling, more precise steering control and enhanced ride comfort

The next chapter in the life of the iconic pony car begins today as the all-new Ford Mustang – loaded with innovative technologies and delivering world-class levels of performance – is simultaneously revealed around the globe in six cities on four continents.

“Ford Mustang inspires passion like no other car,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, global product development. “The visceral look, sound and performance of Mustang resonates with people, even if they’ve never driven one. Mustang is definitely more than just a car – it is the heart and soul of Ford.”

Mustang’s impact goes well beyond the 9 million-plus cars sold in its 50 years of continuous production. It has made thousands of appearances in film, television, music and video games, and is the world’s most-liked vehicle on Facebook. For the first time ever, Ford will bring Mustang to customers in key parts of Europe and Asia.

“We crafted this car with the goal of creating a contemporary interpretation of Mustang – an American automotive icon that symbolizes optimism and freedom for millions of people around the world,” said Jim Farley, executive vice president of Ford global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln.

All-new shape, yet unmistakably Mustang
The clean-sheet design of both Mustang fastback and convertible evokes the essential character of the brand, retaining key design elements – including the long sculpted hood and short rear deck – with contemporary execution.

“You only get one chance to make a first impression, and when you see this car you immediately see a Mustang strong and true,” said Moray Callum, Ford executive director, design, The Americas.

Several key design features define the all-new Mustang, including:

  • A lower, wider stance with a reduction in roof height, and wider rear fenders and track
  • The return of Mustang fastback with a sleeker profile enabled by more steeply sloped windshield and rear glass
  • Three-dimensional, tri-bar taillamps with sequential turn signals
  • Contemporary execution of the signature shark-bite front fascia and trapezoidal grille
Mustang convertible drivers will appreciate the standard multilayer insulated cloth top that gives the car a more upscale appearance and a quieter cabin. The new top lowers twice as fast as before, and has a sleeker profile when folded for open-air motoring.

The information and controls an active driver needs are all readily accessible in the aviation-inspired cockpit, which is executed with the highest degree of craftsmanship ever found in a Mustang. Large, clear instrumentation puts vehicle information right in front of the driver in the roomier cabin, while improved ergonomics and tactile switches and knobs provide better control. The added width and a new rear suspension contribute to improved shoulder and hip room for passengers, and a more usefully shaped trunk can accommodate two golf bags.

The Mustang experience
The way Mustang looks, drives and sounds is key to the visceral experience that makes drivers just want to get in and hit the road. With more options to choose from, there is a Mustang to fit any lifestyle. The upgraded V6 and V8 are joined by an all-new 2.3-liter EcoBoost® engine that brings state-of-the-art technology to Mustang.

Mustang GT continues with the latest edition of the throaty 5.0-liter V8, now featuring an upgraded valvetrain and cylinder heads that yield more than 420 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque. A new intake manifold improves low-speed breathing for better fuel economy, idle stability and emissions.

“This EcoBoost engine delivers where a Mustang driver expects it to, with a broad, flat torque curve that pours out when you stand on it for easy passing or hustling down a twisty road,” said Dave Pericak, Ford Mustang chief engineer.

The Mustang EcoBoost engine uses direct injection, variable cam timing and turbocharging to deliver plenty of usable performance and projected segment-leading fuel efficiency. A unique intake manifold and turbocharger housing enable it to deliver the performance Mustang drivers expect with output projected at more than 305 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque.

With at least 300 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque on tap from the standard 3.7-liter V6, even the most accessible Mustang delivers the performance customers expect.

Drivers will appreciate smoother shifts from the updated manual gearbox, while a reworked automatic transmission features new steering wheel-mounted shift paddles for drivers who want the choice between convenience and control.

Most nimble pony ever
When life throws drivers a curve, the all-new Mustang sets new handling benchmarks for the brand, delivering world-class dynamics and ride quality.

“We already set a very high standard for Mustang’s dynamics with Boss 302, and our goal was to go above and beyond that with this new car,” said Pericak.

Mustang features all-new front and rear suspension systems. At the front, a new perimeter subframe helps to stiffen the structure while reducing mass, providing a better foundation for more predictable wheel control that benefits handling, steering and ride.

The new double-ball-joint front MacPherson strut system also enables the use of larger, more powerful brakes. This is expected to be the best stopping Mustang yet, with three available brake packages.

At the rear is an all-new integral-link independent rear suspension. The geometry, springs, dampers and bushings all have been specifically modified and tuned for this high-performance application. New aluminum rear knuckles help reduce unsprung mass for improved ride and handling.

Smarter than your average pony
The all-new Mustang features a significant amount of innovative technologies providing drivers with enhanced information, control and connectivity when they want it. From Intelligent Access with push-button start to SYNC® and MyKey® in every Mustang built, plus available Track Apps, MyColor gauges and new Shaker Pro audio system, drivers will be able to customize their time behind the wheel.

The feeling of freedom and confidence Mustang instills in its drivers is amplified when they can take control of how the car behaves. On a twisty back road or a weekend track day, the driver can tap the toggle switches on the console to quickly adjust steering effort, engine response, and transmission and electronic stability control settings using the available Selectable Drive Modes to create the perfect Mustang at any time.

The advanced new Ford-developed stability control system is tuned to maximize Mustang’s dynamic capabilities. When the time comes to turn up the wick at the track, Mustang GT includes standard launch control that enables drivers to achieve smooth, consistent starts every time.

When it’s time to back off and relax for the drive home, available advanced driver-assist features including Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control can help ease the load, while SYNC AppLink™ lets drivers control their smartphone apps to listen to their favorite form of entertainment.

50 years of Mustang
April 17, 2014, marks the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the original Ford Mustang and each 2015 model celebrates the milestone with a badge on the instrument panel that includes the galloping pony logo and the words “Mustang – Since 1964.” Mustang will continue to be built in the United States at Flat Rock Assembly Plant.

“From day one, we knew if we were going to build a new Mustang, we had to do it right,” said Pericak. “We built a new Mustang from the ground up that is quicker, better-looking, more refined and more efficient, without losing any of the raw appeal that people have associated with Mustang for half a century.”

USA - Chrysler issues recall notice on a number of its products.

Chrysler Group LLC will recall an estimated 5,663 cars and trucks to inspect their automatic transmissions.

Output shafts installed in some model-year 2013 vehicles were shaped using a two-stage forging method employed during early production. The resulting components may be subject to fracture in rare circumstances.

The process has been replaced by a single-stage forging method.

Chrysler Group is unaware of any associated injuries or accidents.

The recall is limited to certain Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Ram 1500 models equipped with a specific set of features and equipment: 4x4 or all-wheel drive, an 8-speed transmission and a V-6 engine. Chrysler Group will inspect and test their transmission output shafts and, if necessary, replace their transmission assemblies at no cost to customers.

Affected customers number approximately 4,194 in the U.S., 1,424 in Canada and 45 outside the NAFTA region. They will be notified when to schedule service appointments with their dealers.

Customers who have concerns may call 1-800-853-1403.

USA - Kia Soul "Red Zone" limited edition, latest LE by Kia for 2014

“Red Zone” Edition Soul Inspired by the Wild Track’ster Concept is First Special Edition Based on All-new 2014 Soul

  • Limited production of 2,000 “Red Zone” edition Souls to arrive in dealers in first quarter of 2014
  • Based on the Soul Plus, the “Red Zone” Soul features a white exterior paint with sporty red accents and unique interior trim

Kia Motors America (KMA) announces its first special edition Soul of 2014 with the “Red Zone” edition. Inspired by the ultra-popular Track’ster concept previously unveiled at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show, the “Red Zone” edition Soul is the first special-edition based on the all-new second-generation Soul and is scheduled to go on sale during the first quarter of 2014.

“The Soul has always appealed to those who choose to express their individuality through their vehicle, and special editions have been a part of the lineup since the first-generation Soul went on sale in 2009,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president, marketing & communications, KMA. “The Red Zone Soul underscores that independent spirit and brings to life many styling features from our wild Track’ster concept.”

Based on the 2014 Soul Plus, the “Red Zone” Soul exudes its own extroverted personality with White exterior paint and an aggressively styled body kit featuring red accents throughout, including treatment on the front grille, front and rear fascias, and side skirts. Custom 18-inch alloy wheels fill the wheel wells and keep the “Red Zone” Soul firmly planted on the tarmac. Power comes from Kia’s efficient 2.0-liter gasoline direct injected (GDI) four-cylinder engine which puts 164 horsepower to the ground via a six-speed automatic transmission.

The interior makeover is equally impressive with black cloth seats featuring red stitching, leather steering wheel, black-leather dash hood with red stitching, black carpeted floor mats with red piping, and sport pedals. The shift knob ring, air vent ring, dash speakers and console tray trim have all been dipped in red paint, continuing the “Red Zone” theme.

As with all previous special-edition Souls, the “Red Zone” will be offered in limited quanities. Just 2,000 examples will be available.

USA - Volvo appoints new Exec vice president for North America to boost Volvo's American presence.

Bodil Eriksson, currently Senior Vice President Corporate Communications for Volvo Car Group (Volvo Cars), has been appointed Executive Vice President for Volvo Cars North America (VCNA), in a new role as overall responsible for Marketing, Brand and Communications.

“We are committed to restoring the Volvo brand in the US,” comments Håkan Samuelsson, CEO and President of Volvo Cars. “We are a small player. Our brand is our key strength, a strength we need to leverage on. We are determined to show that we have an interesting offer to the US consumers. This requires an in-depth knowledge of Volvo, a capability to communicate to multiple stakeholders and a confidence in the interpretation of the brand, all of which Bodil Eriksson represents,” says Håkan Samuelsson.

The development on the US market is a key focus area for the executive management of Volvo Cars, which is further underpinned by the appointment of Bodil Eriksson to her new position. During this critical phase, it is paramount to establish tight connections between the VCNA team and the company’s headquarters in Gothenburg. This will enable fast and autonomous decisions which are needed to move to 100,000 units in a number of years.

“I am thrilled by the challenge and opportunity to bring back a vibrant Volvo Cars in the US,” says Bodil Eriksson. “Volvo is a very appealing brand to conscious consumers, irrespective of topic: green tech solutions, connectivity, safety or design. Volvo’s long standing passion for human centricity always show which gives us unique prerequisites to engage with consumers,” she concludes.

Bodil Eriksson will report to Tony Nicolosi, President of Volvo Cars North America and take on her new position as per January 15, 2014.

“This is an appointment which not only brings great competence and energy to our team, but also demonstrates the vital role that the US market plays within Volvo Cars and underlines that the company now clearly wants to prioritize US”, says Tony Nicolosi.

The successor of Bodil Eriksson as Senior Vice President Corporate Communications for Volvo Cars will be subject to a later announcement.

Bodil Eriksson joined Volvo Cars for the first time under the Swedish ownership in the latter part of the 90s, in the role as SVP Corporate Communications for Volvo Car Group. She was part of the first years of Ford Motor Company ownership. She again joined Volvo Cars in May 2012. She has a thorough background in brand strategy, marketing and communications from consumer goods and industrial companies from executive managements and Board

USA - $2bn, 12 years and three million products, that will be HONDA in Alabama.

Associates at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, LLC (HMA) celebrated a production milestone this week, completing the 3 millionth Honda vehicle built at the plant in Lincoln.

The production of HMA's milestone vehicle this week comes a little more than 12 years since the start of mass production at the $2 billion facility on Nov. 14, 2001.

"The commitment and dedication of our 4,000 associates has allowed HMA to achieve this production milestone and fulfill our commitment to more than 3 million Honda customers across the globe," said Tom Shoupe, HMA President.

HMA is the sole production source of the Odyssey minivan, the Pilot sport utility vehicle, the Ridgeline pickup truck, the Acura MDX luxury sport utility vehicle and the V-6 engines that power each vehicle. During calendar years 2009 and 2010, the facility also shared production of the Honda Accord V-6 Sedan with Honda of America Mfg. in Marysville, Ohio.

The production breakdown, by model, is approximately:*

  • 1.82 million Odyssey minivans
  • 1.02 million Pilot SUVs
  • 90,000 Ridgeline trucks
  • 50,000 Acura MDX SUVs
  • 27,000 Accord V-6 Sedans (2009-2010)

Honda Manufacturing of Alabama employs more than 4,000 associates at its 3.7-million-square-foot Lincoln facility and has the capacity to produce as many as 340,000 vehicles and engines each year. Over the past two years, HMA has invested an additional $450 million and added more than 400 jobs in expansion efforts designed to enhance manufacturing flexibility and increase annual production.

Honda marked another major manufacturing milestone this week (Dec. 2) when its East Liberty Auto Plant in Ohio produced its 1 millionth CR-V sport utility vehicle. Auto production at the East Liberty plant, which employs 2,400 associates, began in 1989 and produced its first, third-generation Honda CR-V sport utility in September 2006.

*(All production totals are rounded.)

USA - 2014 Toyota Highlander starts production in Indiana after $430 Million investment

  • Popular SUV responsible for $430 million investment and more than 600 jobs by 2014 end
Hoosier pride was felt deep and wide on the plant floor of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana this morning as the company celebrated the start of production of the all-new 2014 Highlander. 

TMMI team members and area citizens have much to celebrate, as the popular midsize SUV is responsible for $430 million additional investment and more than 600 jobs at the Princeton automotive plant.

“Automotive manufacturers and suppliers around Indiana are putting their expansion plans into gear, creating jobs and more opportunities in every corner of the state,” said Indiana Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann. “With Toyota’s launch of production for the new Highlander right here in the Hoosier State, we are witnessing an economy driving forward. From our world-class workforce to our low cost of doing business, Indiana proves daily that it is a state that works for automotive manufacturing.”

The Princeton plant builds a gas version of the Highlander and will begin producing the hybrid version early next year.  Highlanders born in Indiana will find new homes with drivers in the Russian and Australian regions as TMMI expands its export reach.

Highlander export business allows for better utilization of the Indiana plant, and helps capitalize on the improving North American and global auto market.  In addition to the new jobs created at the Indiana plant, this project increases opportunities and jobs for Toyota’s North American supply base.

2014 new Highlander features
  • All-new exterior with three-row seating for up to eight,
  • Increased cargo capacity,
  • Three power train choices: a fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine, a powerful V-6 with a new six-speed transmission, and a V-6-powered Hybrid Synergy Drive,
  • Entune Audio with Bluetooth phone and streaming music and touch-screen display,
  • Integrated backup camera,
  • STAR Safety System, includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Anti-Lock Brake System, Electronic Brake-Force Distribution, Brake assist and Smart Stop Technology,
  • Adjustable height power rear liftgate and flip-up rear hatch window, and
  • Eight-way power driver seat.
“The all-new Highlander is a dynamic, stylish SUV and its quality craftsmanship and the fact that it will be exported to the Russian and Australian markets is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team members.” Bafunno said.  “This really is a milestone for our entire team,”
Sheila Showalter, Quality Assurance team leader, couldn’t agree more. “When I started here 16 years ago, I was one of 1,300 team members in the West Plant and we were only building the Tundra.  It is exciting to be a part of something this big.”
Representing a $4.2 billion investment, TMMI currently employs about 4,500.  By the end of 2014, Toyota will directly employ 4,700 team members.  The Princeton plant also produces the Sequoia full-size SUV and Sienna minivan.  

400 down, 50 to go, The Bugatti Veyron nears the end of production.

Just 50 models of the super sports car are still available

400th Veyron is a Grand Sport Vitesse “Jean-Pierre Wimille” of the
six-part edition “Les Légendes de Bugatti”

Head of Bugatti Wolfgang Schreiber, “A unique success story about the most exclusive and luxurious super sports car brand in the world

Bugatti has sold its 400th Veyron. Since the production run of the Veyron and its variants is limited to just 450 models, this means just 50 more are still available. The 400th Veyron is a Grand Sport Vitesse and has been bought by a customer in the Middle East.

With the sale of the 400th Veyron, Bugatti is celebrating another milestone and so begins the final lap of the super sports car’s journey. Since its launch in 2005, Bugatti has sold all coupés that were limited to 300 – the Veyron 16.4 with 1,001 PS and the Veyron 16.4 Super Sport with 1,200 PS – and 100 of the planned 150 roadsters: the Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport with 1,001 PS and the Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse with 1,200 PS have now been sold, leaving just 50 models left to buy.

Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, President of Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S, said, “With the Veyron, Bugatti has established itself as the most exclusive and most luxurious super sports car brand in the world. The Veyron is a unique success story and sets a high standard for the future of Bugatti.”

The recently sold 400th Veyron is the third and final Vitesse “Jean-Pierre Wimille” in the exclusive six-part edition “Les Légendes de Bugatti”. The series was launched in August at California’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance with the Vitesse “Jean-Pierre Wimille”. This was followed by the Legend car, “Jean Bugatti”, which was presented at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt. In November the third Legend Edition, dedicated to Meo Costantini, was revealed to the public at the Dubai International Motor Show 2013. As with all Bugatti Legend cars, the production run is limited to only three vehicles. The Legend Edition “Jean-Pierre Wimille” is priced at €2.13 million, excluding taxes and transport.

The Legend cars are based on the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse. The 1,200 PS super car is powered by an eight litre, 16 valve engine and accelerates from 0 - 100 km/h in just 2.6 seconds and from 0 - 200 km/h in only 7.1 seconds. Even its brakes are powerful: The Vitesse needs just 5.8 seconds to go from 200 km/h to a complete stop. The super sports car achieves an impressive 1,500 Nm torque between 3,000 and 5,000 rpm. Since April this year the Grand Sport Vitesse can claim to be the fastest roadster in the world with a record of 408.84 km/h driven with the roof off. This makes Bugatti the holder of two world speed records, the other being the Veyron 16.4 Super Sport’s record, set in 2010, for the fastest production car when it reached 431.072 km/h.

Bugatti was founded more than 100 years ago in the Alsatian town of Molsheim and today belongs to the Volkswagen Group, which took over the rights to the brand in 1998.

Bugatti, staying true to its motto “Art, Form, Technique”, combines the artistic roots of its Italian founder with French savoir-vivre, and German engineering ingenuity. The development of the Bugatti Veyron represented one of the greatest technical challenges in automotive history. The success story began in 2005 with the Veyron 16.4 and in 2008 the open-top Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport pulled up alongside the 1,001 PS super sports car. Then, in 2010 the Veyron 16.4 Super Sport with 1,200 PS hit the road, and in 2012 its roadster variant the Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse followed.

The Veyron is still setting the standard today: it is the most powerful and fastest production car in the world and can be used every day, with luxurious and comfortable travel in mind.

With 30 dealerships and service partners in 18 countries Bugatti is a global player. The brand is represented in all corners of the world including Europe, North and South America and the Middle East as well as Japan, Singapore and China.