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

Saturday, 25 January 2014

50 years ago, a motoring Icon won its first Monte Carlo Rally - The classic Mini, the car of the century !

A big victory for the small car: 50 years ago the classic Mini won the Monte Carlo Rally for the first time. Paddy Hopkirk made the one-off British small car a motor sport legend in January 1964 – Timo Mäkinen and Rauno Aaltonen repeated the triumph in 1965 and 1967.

Small car, huge win: it is now 50 years since one of the most spectacular victories in the history of international motor sport. On 21 January 1964, the Mini Cooper S won the Monte Carlo Rally for the first time. It was the pairing of Northern Ireland’s Patrick (“Paddy”) Hopkirk and his co-driver Henry Liddon that pulled off the big surprise, resisting the supposed superiority of significantly more powerful rivals in their small British car. Its faultless run over country roads and mountain passes, ice and snow, tight corners and steep gradients laid the foundations for the underdog-turned-giant-slayer to cement itself in both the hearts of the public and the annals of motor sport legend. Indeed, the classic Mini’s dominance of the Monte Carlo Rally continued over the years that followed, Hopkirk’s Finnish team-mates Timo Mäkinen and Rauno Aaltonen adding two further overall victories – in 1965 and 1967 – to the British manufacturer’s collection.

Now 80 years old, Paddy Hopkirk’s eyes still light up when he recalls the driving qualities of his winning car: “Although the Mini was only a little family saloon, technically it had a lot of advantages. Its front-wheel drive and front-mounted transverse engine were a great advantage, and the fact the car was smaller and the roads were ploughed, they were quite narrow, so I suppose that was an advantage. We were very lucky – the car was right, everything happened at the right time and came together at the right moment.”

It was the legendary “Night of the Long Knives”, the penultimate stage of the Monte, which put the Mini Cooper S with car number 37 and the now famous licence plate 33 EJB on course for victory that winter of 1964. Hopkirk crossed the finish line just 17 seconds off the pace set by his chief adversary Bo Ljungfeldt in the far more powerful V8-powered Ford Falcon. The handicap formula at the time – designed to even out the weight and power differences between the various cars – meant the classic Mini actually led the way in the overall standings. And Hopkirk defended his advantage in the sprint through the streets of Monte Carlo that rounded off the rally. At the winner’s ceremony he shared the cheers of the crowed with his team-mates. Timo Mäkinen’s fourth-place finish and Rauno Aaltonen’s seventh overall set the seal on the success of the Mini Cooper S and ushered in the era of the “Three Musketeers” in the Monte Carlo Rally.

The classic Mini’s victory was celebrated with particular excitement in its native Britain. Hopkirk received a congratulatory telegram from the British government and the Beatles were also among those leading the applause. “I got a telegram from the Beatles,” remembers Hopkirk. “That was followed by a photograph of the four of them autographed to me saying: ‘You’re one of us now, Paddy.’ And it’s very nice to have that nowadays.”

The triumph of the classic Mini in the Monte was lauded as a sensation by motor sport fans around the world. But this wasn’t a success that came entirely out of the blue: the small car developed by Alec Issigonis, then Deputy Technical Director at the British Motor Corporation, possessed an inherent sporting talent from birth. The first person to spot this potential was John Cooper. The sports car designer was the driving force behind construction of a more powerful version of the car. The Mini produced only 34 hp at launch, but its front-wheel drive, low weight, wide track and comparatively long wheelbase made it an extremely agile four-seater and paved the way for its forays onto race circuits and rally courses.

As early as 1960, big-name racing drivers like Graham Hill, Jack Brabham and Jim Clark were spotted testing the cornering flair of the John Cooper-tuned small car on the Silverstone Formula One track. However, the classic Mini was most at home in rally racing. Patt Moss, sister of grand prix driver Stirling Moss, piloted it to wins in the Tulip Rally and Baden-Baden Rally in 1962. And by the following year, the diminutive British car was ready to burst into the public consciousness at the Monte Carlo Rally. Preceding years had been a tough learning experience for the works team, but now they would make people sit up and take notice. Rauno Aaltonen and Paddy Hopkirk drove the 55 hp Mini Cooper to a 1-2 finish in their class, which was good enough for third and sixth places overall.

It was clear that the classic Mini was better equipped than any other car to pull off the classic David vs Goliath act. John Cooper had long suspected that the car had what it took. Back in 1959 he instructed Roy Salvadori to drive a prototype to the Italian Grand Prix in Monza. The journey itself turned into a race between Salvadori and fellow racing driver Reg Parnell at the wheel of an Aston Martin DB4. The result confirmed what Cooper had foreseen in his mind’s eye: the Cooper-prepared classic Mini arrived around an hour earlier than the much more powerful Aston.

Identifiable from a distance with their tartan red bodywork and white roofs, the six small racers dispatched by the BMC works team for the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964 were – at least on paper – fighting against the tide once more. The Mini Cooper S lined up at the start for the first time. Its new four-cylinder engine now had an increased 1071cc capacity and output had also been boosted to around 90 hp. This was a lot more than in previous years but still modest in the face of competition from the likes of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SE and Ford Falcon, whose six-cylinder and V8 units had three or four times more power at their disposal.

The 33rd edition of the Monte Carlo Rally began – as was traditional at the time – with a nod to the origins of the event, the cars starting from nine European cities before converging on the French city of Reims. The Hopkirk/Liddon partnership got their journey with the Mini Cooper S under way in Minsk, while for Rauno Aaltonen and Tony Ambrose the Monte adventure started in Oslo, and Timo Mäkinen and Patrick Vanson set off from Paris. The classic Mini successfully negotiated all these journeys and all six works cars were able to take their place in the 277-strong field in Reims. The first stage of the rally to Saint-Claude brought together the two cars which were to define the 1964 Monte from start to finish. Bo Ljungfeldt roared to the top of the time sheets in his Ford Falcon, but Paddy Hopkirk remained hot on his heels in his Mini Cooper S.

The next leg of the rally was made up largely of mile-long flat-out sections, but Hopkirk refused to let his big-engined rivals build up a decisive advantage. The “Night of the Long Knives” would become the day of reckoning; this was the classic Mini’s chance to demonstrate its talents to the full. “It was quite snowy that year, so we had done a lot of practising and preparing,” explains Hopkirk. “The Mini was particularly good downhill, and all the tests were up and downhill, so what we lost going up, I think we made up for going downhill.”

Irresistible handling, correct tyre choice, Hopkirk’s gifts at the wheel and the snow – which slowed the bigger cars down – all came together and ensured that Hopkirk was able to take over the lead on the 1,607-metre (5,270 ft) Col de Turini. However, it remained a tight contest all the way to the finish, with Bo Ljungfeldt, as expected, again posting the fastest time on the final stage through Monte Carlo. However, Hopkirk was also squeezing everything from his Mini Cooper S once again and hung onto his advantage to wrap up the win. “It’s not like rallying today when you know where you are. I had to do the final circuit, then the journalists told me I had won and I couldn’t believe it. It surprised the world and us, so it was very nice,” recalls Hopkirk.

The following year Timo Mäkinen and co-driver Paul Easter ensured the classic Mini would retain its title. They were helped by a new engine with capacity increased to 1275cc, but it was the Scandinavian’s driving skill that landed the decisive blow. Mäkinen was the only driver to remain penalty-point-free throughout the rally distance, despite the fact that the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally was providing one of the most exacting tests in the history of the event. Epic levels of snow and ice made the going seriously tough, but that didn’t stop the organisers including a second night stage through the Maritime Alps in the programme. Mäkinen and his Mini Cooper S appeared impervious to the deteriorating conditions. The Finn won five of the six special stages on the final leg of the rally and finished the event with a handsome margin over the second-placed car.

The most impressive and also most dramatic Monte Carlo Rally for the “Three Musketeers” was to follow in 1966. Mäkinen, Aaltonen and Hopkirk dominated the event from the start, and it was in this order that they completed a clean sweep of the top three positions overall at the finish. Public enthusiasm for the quicksilver classic Minis appeared to be boundless – as was the disappointment when the French race commissioners revealed their decision to disqualify the trio on account of lights that allegedly did not conform with official regulations. This was also the reason given for removing the fourth-placed Lotus Cortina from the classification, which meant that the Finnish Citroën driver Pauli Toivonen was crowned the winner.

The dream of a Monte hat-trick lay in tatters, but the “Three Musketeers” resolved to return at the earliest opportunity. In the winter of 1967 Hopkirk, Mäkinen and Aaltonen lined up alongside two other BMC works teams for the Monte Carlo Rally. And this time neither the rules nor the other cars could stand between the Mini Cooper S and victory. Rauno Aaltonen was joined by Henry Liddon – Paddy Hopkirk’s co-driver from the successful 1964 Monte – for his latest assault on the rally. The Finnish-British team clicked straight into gear. Aaltonen guided the classic Mini to what was this time an undisputed victory with 12 seconds to spare. And nobody was more pleased for the duo than Hopkirk: “Henry Liddon was really an outstanding co-driver. But the co-drivers never got enough credit, you know. They did a fantastic job in reading the notes and they were the office manager of the car.”

Hopkirk finished the 1967 Monte Carlo Rally in sixth place and also drove the classic Mini to fifth overall the following year. Aaltonen was third in 1968. However, the era of the small car that stormed to the summit of rally racing was clearly approaching an end. Its rivals had grown just too powerful and the sporting zenith of the classic Mini was now behind it. Memories of that famous triumph in the winter of 1964 will forever burn bright and the “Three Musketeers” have written an indelible chapter into the history of motor sport. As for distinctive headlight solutions, such as incurred the wrath of the powers-that-be back in 1966, they also live on as some of the most popular Original MINI Accessories – from black headlight housing and the evocative spotlights fronting the radiator grille to retrofit xenon headlights.

Bentley diversifies into more homeware, stick to cars please !

  • Full furniture range at prestigious Maison & Objet Fair in Paris
  • Bentley aesthetic translated into luxury home and board room environments
  • Collaboration with leading Italian interiors company defines luxury lifestyle direction
Bentley Motors presents its range of luxury home and executive furniture at the Maison & Objet fair in Paris, designed and manufactured in collaboration with Luxury Living Group, one of Europe’s leading furniture makers. The collection is inspired by the renowned craftsmanship and exquisite materials that characterise the interiors of all Bentley models.

Exclusive designs
After the successful launch of a capsule collection last year, which anticipated some of the new features, the range has been expanded and developed by the architect Carlo Colombo with Daniele Ceccomori, Bentley’s Head of Product Design. Appearing at the Fair among the ‘Special Designs’ labels, the suite of furniture and accessories offers exclusive items for home and office, setting a new standard in ultra luxury.

Craft and sensibility
Based in Forlì, Italy, Luxury Living Group specialises in the production and distribution of luxury furniture – combining the highest quality craftsmanship with a rigorous aesthetic sensibility which links Bentley’s inherent qualities of heritage and tradition, exclusivity and style, with the most technical and architectural aspects of furniture design. The collection is an exercise in subtlety, incorporating functional performance with comfort and luxurious, sensuous quality. It captures the style of the Bentley driver through items that mirror the impeccable quality and attention to detail of the Crewe-based marque.

The colour palette is natural, featuring mocha, cognac, taupe, quartz, grey and ice, flanking variations of purple-red, burgundy, brick red or blue. The combinations exalt the use of tactile leather and sensuous textiles. Hints of male attire, pinstripe or houndstooth, are introduced into sophisticated velvets and the lightest of cashmeres, crafted with three-dimensional patterns. Utilised in the upholstery, they are also woven as novel and precious carpets – hand-knotted, made of fine wools, silk or pashmina – as well as refined blankets hemmed in mink. Finely crafted leather upholstery – with its signature quilted diamond pattern or elegant padded texture – further enhances the collection’s pieces.

The Richmond collection develops the theme of the double shell, in burr walnut briar root, used in other of the collection’s models, as well as for the interior of the automobiles from Crewe. Ebony Macassar essence and Calacatta marble make for a precious decorative effect matching with the steel gun-metal finishing of the base. Finely crafted leather upholstery – with its signature quilted diamond pattern or elegant dimpled texture – further enhances the collection’s furniture pieces.

Kevin Rose, board member Sales & Marketing, of Bentley, comments:
“The Home Collection embodies Bentley’s emergence as a modern high luxury brand. It combines sophisticated materials with contemporary design and the ultimate in bespoke craftsmanship. This is an exciting development which captures the shared values of Bentley and Luxury Living, with unrivalled attention to detail and a stunning translation of the timeless style of the brand into home and executive suite interiors.”

Alberto Vignatelli, CEO and chairman of the Luxury Living Group, says: “We accepted with enthusiasm the challenge of interpreting in furnishings the exclusivity and charm of Bentley. In the Bentley Home collection there co‑exists a passion for details, care of materials and a style that anticipates the trends while remaining true to the codes of elegance and tradition. The perfect synthesis of values, the same we find at the wheel of a Bentley. I strongly believe in this collection which is already attracting acclaim internationally.”

Individual pieces

Harmonious shapes and flowing lines are highlighted through the subtle proportions of the arms with their unique curve. Available in leather or fabric, the body and seat come in distinguished purple-red velvet matched with burgundy velvet piping along the edges.

Butterfly, the new system made up of sofa and armchair, masterfully interprets Bentley’s style values. The deep, plush seat is encased in a shell quilted with Bentley’s iconic diamond pattern. The geometry of its side neatly reaches outward, providing a contemporary touch that reflects is cosy yet dynamic form. The sofa is in distinguished ivory leather and the armchair in pinstriped fabric, quilted in fine, grey wool.

The Richmond bed exemplifies the supple elements and stylistic principles characteristic of the line. Unrivalled comfort is created by its roomy design in which the masterfully crafted materials play a prime role. The unique and elegant double shell – covered in quilted leather or precious briar root – encompasses the headboard lined with iridescent sand-coloured satin wool. The finish is enhanced by the finely embroidered Bentley logo.

The Ambassador sideboard is shaped in line with modern architectural themes in a majestic design highlighting its elegance and originality. The supple expressiveness of its steel gun-metal structure, matches perfectly the fullness of the container module covered with lava-coloured leather, briar root or Ebony Macassar veneering.

Harlow is the reinterpretation of the iconic film director’s chair, with a sophisticated and firm structure. The linear steel gun-metal base upholds the seating, made of cognac-coloured leather with a tufted manufacturing process in the internal part. The metal buckles with leather bands applied on the armrests references typical masculine style points.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

A new show of strength for AUDI Q7 S-Line Edition Models

Already purposeful stance of Audi luxury SUV is further emphasised in new S line Style Edition and S line Sport Edition versions

  • New S line Style Edition specification now available for Audi Q7 at a premium of £1,500 over top S line Plus trim line
  • S line Sport Edition also builds on S line Plus specification at a premium of £3,000
  • Features include unique wheel designs and exclusive version of the offroad styling package
  • Available in conjunction with 3.0 TDI 245PS and 4.2-litre TDI 340PS engines priced from £52,975 OTR to 64,100 OTR
The Audi Q7 already cuts an imposing figure, but new S line Style Edition and S line Sport Edition versions of the acclaimed seven-seat, air-suspended luxury SUV ramp up their visual impact even further through striking styling enhancements. The new S line Edition models are available now priced from £52,975 OTR to £64,100 OTR.

The S line Style Edition specification is available in conjunction with 3.0-litre V6 TDI 245PS and 4.2-litre V8 TDI 340PS engines, and adds £1,500 to the price of the equivalent Q7 S line plus model in each case. In the S line Style Edition, the standard 21-inch five-segment-spoke alloy wheels are replaced by five-arm rotor design matt titanium-finish wheels of the same size which are exclusive to this model in the Q7 range. These sit beneath a body which looks even more rugged thanks to the addition of an upgraded offroad styling package which includes stainless steel underbody protectors and extended wheel arches flowing into special bumpers with modified lower sections  - uniquely in the Edition models these are painted in
body colour.

Q7 S line Style Edition models include solid, metallic or pearl effect paint as standard in a choice of seven colours – Night black, Teak brown, Lava grey, Orca black, Graphite grey, Daytona grey or Scuba blue.

The particularly muscular look of the remarkable 500PS Q7 V12 TDI of 2010 provided inspiration for the S line Sport Edition specification. Also available in combination with 3.0-litre TDI 245PS and 4.2-litre TDI engines, it carries a premium of £3,000 over S line Plus models. It adds a titanium finish for the 21-inch five-segment-spoke wheels, and a sport styling package including body-coloured wheelarch extensions, enlarged front air intakes with high gloss slats, lower bumper spoilers, stainless steel underbody protection and dual oval exhaust tailpipes integrated into the rear bumper. S line Sport Edition specification includes a no-cost choice from all thirteen of the solid, metallic or pearl effect paints available for the Q7 range.

On the top rung of the ladder, the S line Plus specification on which these special edition models are based is fittingly all-encompassing in itself. As well as an upgrade to a 21-inch wheel, it includes features  such as privacy glass from the B-pillar rearwards, xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lamps, supple Verano leather upholstery, stainless steel side running boards, powered tailgate operation, HDD satellite navigation, the Audi parking system advanced with visual and acoustic guidance, the Audi Music Interface and Audi connect bringing the many benefits of the Internet to the car.  All Q7 models offer features such as adaptive air suspension, double glazing and a seven-seat configuration as standard.

More sports kit for the Audi Q7 – Even more imposing new S line Style Edition and S line Sport Edition versions of the acclaimed Audi Q7 luxury SUV are now available priced from £52,975 OTR to £64,100 OTR.

USA - New Kia K900 signals a new era for the brand with more levels of sophistication.

Modern and Elegant, the K900 Signals a New Era for Kia and Advances the Brand to New Levels of Sophistication

  • Highly intuitive and advanced technology combine with superb craftsmanship and materials to boldly announce Kia’s entry into the rear-drive premium-luxury sedan segment
  •  All-new V8 flagship debuts with 420 horsepower; V6 model produces 311 horsepower
  •  Flagship Sedan Accompanied by Complimentary Scheduled Maintenance

The all-new 2015 K900 is poised to challenge the rear-drive luxury sedan segment with an extensive list of standard equipment, world-class accommodations, premium driving dynamics and stunning design that will redefine consumer perception and expectations of the Kia brand.

“This year marks Kia Motors’ 20th anniversary in the U.S. market, and the all-new K900 is a symbol of how far the brand has come and the next bold example of the challenger spirit that has benefitted Kia over two decades of growth and maturation,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president, marketing & communications, KMA.  “Kia’s rise over the last five years has been fueled by a willingness to challenge the status quo with vehicles such as the Optima, Sorento and Cadenza, which have brought new and more affluent customers to our showrooms and dramatically raised the profile of the brand while maintaining our value proposition.  The K900 is the next logical progression for Kia. It demonstrates what Kia is capable of and will help redefine what the Kia brand stands for.”

Offered with a V6 or a V8 engine, the K900’s list of standard equipment will feature first-class accommodations and advanced technology.  The range-topping V8 equipped with the VIP Package will add additional luxury amenities including reclining outboard rear seats.  The K900 Premium V6 will launch at a later date with an available Luxury Package and Technology Package.  The all-new K900 V8 Luxury and V8 VIP are expected to go on sale during the first quarter of 2014, and complete pricing will be announced closer to launch.

The K900 comes with a three-year, 37,500-mile complimentary scheduled maintenance program at participating Kia dealerships.  Covering the first five service visits, the complimentary scheduled maintenance program is available to customers who either purchase or lease a new 2015 K900 and complete the maintenance work for their vehicle at participating Kia retailers. As an added benefit, K900 customers may enjoy the use of a Cadenza or K900 loan vehicle during their service visit1.  The no-cost scheduled maintenance program, which excludes wear and tear items such as tires and brakes, complements Kia’s industry leading 10-year/100,000 mile new-car warranty and Roadside Assistance program2.

Elegant Exterior Design
The first glance of the K900 is designed to leave an indelible impression.  The long 119.9-inch wheelbase and wide 63.8-inch front and 64.1-inch rear track of the V8 translate to considerable road presence.  In profile, the swept rake of the greenhouse, subdued cut lines along the doors and high rear deck lid lend a muscular tension to the sheet metal.  The K900 V8’s standard 19-inch multi-spoke chrome wheels are shod with 245/45R-19 tires up front and 275/40R-19 tires at the rear.

Kia’s signature grille resides nearly vertically in the smoothly contoured front fascia.  A chrome halo surrounds the dark chrome inner elements, which hints at the power and potential behind it.  Airflow-smoothing underbody panels mounted beneath the nose, engine bay and cabin help reduce drag and improve efficiency.

Standard on the V8 are adaptive LED headlights. With 16 LED bulbs providing powerful, natural light for enhanced luminosity, the beams, which adjust to follow the bends in the road, shimmer beneath crystal clear lenses that pull back deeply into the front fenders. Soft-glow LEDs frame the multi-faceted headlights.  Mounted low and at the far corners of the nose are sleek LED daytime running lamps and LED fog lights.  Similar use of LED technology can be found at the rear of the K900.  The trapezoid taillights offer defused LEDs for the brakes and bright LEDs for the turn signals.  A tasteful chrome bezel cuts high across the K900’s standard powered rear deck lid, adding elegance and lending visual width.  The standard power and heated rearview mirrors integrate auto dimming, LED turn signal indicators and Blind Spot Detection System (BSD)3 in a smooth, aerodynamic form that helps reduce wind noise.  The rear bumper is accented with fully integrated dual chrome-tipped exhaust ports that mimic the shape of the taillights.

Opulence Within
Open the door to the all-new K900 and the same sense of elegant sophistication can be found within the luxuriously appointed cabin.  The three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel is substantial and features controls for audio, cruise control, entertainment, and vehicle information.  A heated wheel is available on the V6 and standard on the V8.  Standard high-grade leather is found throughout the cabin on the V6, which can also be optioned with soft Nappa leather in black or white with contrasting piping.  The V8 K900 arrives with standard Nappa leather.  Soft-hue LED interior illumination is standard across the K900 line.  Genuine walnut (with black Nappa leather) or poplar (with white Nappa leather) wood trim sweeps across the dash and door panels, beautifully complementing the richness of the interior and is available on the V6 and standard on the V8.  A 12-way adjustable driver’s seat, including power lumbar support, is standard on both the V6 Premium and V8 Luxury models, and a 16-way power adjusted driver’s seat features power headrests and cushion extender for added thigh support as part of the V6 Technology Package and the V8 VIP Package.  The front seats feature standard multi-stage heating and ventilation for individualized comfort in all climates.

The K900’s executive-class accommodations continue at the rear of the cabin. Standard features include multi-stage heating for the outboard seats.  Accessing a panel within the center armrest, rear-seat passengers also have the ability to control the vehicle’s ventilation system and may even fold the back cushion of the front passenger seat forward with the touch of a button. K900 passengers may also operate the standard power rear window sunshade, and retractable rear side window sunshades are standard across all models.  A full-length panoramic roof with power retractable sunshade is standard on all V8 models.  Opting for the V8 VIP Package takes rear seat comfort to another level.  Both seats offer multi-stage heating and cooling, have the ability to independently recline and incorporate power lumbar support and lateral headrest adjustability.

Sophisticated, Intuitive Technology and Safety
Well known for providing intuitively placed controls and easily accessible technology, Kia continues this tried-and-true practice in the 2015 K900.  On the V8 VIP, front and center for the driver is the largest TFT instrument panel ever offered in a Kia vehicle.  At 12.3 inches, the full-color LCD screen is at once easy to read and easily configurable, featuring different themes depending on the drive mode selected. Also included with the V6 Technology Package and V8 VIP package is Kia’s first Head-Up Display (HUD). The innovative full-color, height-adjustable display “floats” just over the leading edge of the windshield providing the driver important information such as vehicle speed, turn-by-turn navigation, and alerts including the Blind Spot Detection System (BSD)3 and Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS)3.

First-class in-car entertainment comes standard in the form of a 900-watt Lexicon high-fidelity audio system, the most powerful and advanced system ever offered by Kia.  An audiophile’s dream come true, the Lexicon system features a trunk-mounted 12-channel digital amplifier, 17 speakers, including a center channel and an inverted subwoofer located in the rear parcel shelf.  The inverted design helps reduce encroachment into the trunk.  The speaker arrangement is custom designed for the interior of the K900 to optimize sound quality for every seat in the house.  Standard infotainment features include Bluetooth®4 hands free accessibility, HD RadioTM5, three-month complimentary Sirius/XM satellite programming6 along with AUX and USB ports conveniently accessed through a soft-close genuine wood-covered panel in the center console.

The audio system, along with standard navigation and Kia’s exclusive UVO eServices telematics software, are all viewed through a 9.2-inch full-color screen that is accessed through a new standard Driver Information System (DIS) found in the center console. Using a simple rotary knob surrounded by intuitively placed direct-access buttons, the DIS falls naturally to the driver’s right hand, allowing immediate access to the K900’s wide range of advanced systems, including entertainment and voice-command navigation functions.  All K900s come standard with a power-operated trunk lid. A slim credit-card-style smart-key entry system that welcomes the vehicle owner by automatically extending the outside rearview mirrors and activating perimeter lighting is standard on all but the V6 Premium.

Front and rear park-assist sensors and cameras are standard across the line for enhanced confidence and convenience.  Auditory cues notify the driver as the vehicle approaches an object with the tones emanating from the speaker located closest to the object.  The parking display also indicates distance to the object via green, yellow and red lines, providing a visual aid to the driver.  The V8 comes standard with Kia’s first Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) system3, which provides an audible warning to the driver if oncoming cross traffic is detected from the rear while the K900 is in Reverse.  Working in conjunction with RCTA is Blind Spot Detection (BSD), which is standard on the V8 and available in the Technology Package on the V6.  Opting for the VIP Package nets the new Surround View Monitor system3, which utilizes four discreetly placed wide-angle mini-cameras at the front and rear and within the outside rear view mirrors.  The cameras provide a crystal-clear view of anything within several feet of the K900, providing potential safety benefits as well as easier maneuvering in tight spaces.

A Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS) is standard on the V6 Technology Package and both V8 models.  The camera-based LDWS monitors the K900’s position and provides an audible warning to the driver when the vehicle begins to drift too close to the lane markers.  First introduced on the Cadenza, the K900 is available with radar-based Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC)3. Included within the V6 Technology Package, and VIP Package on the V8, ASCC adjusts vehicle speed to help maintain a set distance to the vehicle in front and even has the ability to bring the K900 to a full stop.  For added convenience, the system will also automatically accelerate the vehicle once traffic allows.

The K900 introduces Kia’s first use of Advanced Vehicle Safety Management (AVSM)7.  Integrating the control of various vehicle monitoring systems, including the Electronic Stability Control (ESC), seatbelt mechanisms and multiple warning systems, the AVSM can alert the driver to danger, pre-pressurize the braking system and activate the Pre-Safe Belt (PSB) system8, depending on the anticipated level of a collision risk.  If a potential collision is detected, AVSM warns the driver in three stages: an audible alarm, a visual warning on both the HUD and TFT LCD cluster and a cinching of the front seatbelts.

Flagship Performance
A flagship should be equipped with the proper running gear, and the all-new 2015 K900 lacks for nothing.  The K900 introduces the first V8 engine offered in a Kia sedan.  The Tau DOHC all-aluminum 32-valve five-liter engine produces 420 horsepower.  The engine is designed for efficiency with Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) and dual CVVT variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust.  A special tuned air intake improves airflow while a roller-type timing chain and Teflon® coated crank oil seal reduce frictional losses.  The fast-heating catalytic converter helps reduce emissions and is of a lightweight design.  The V8 is mated to a new smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission.  Shift mapping is variable depending on the driver-selectable settings of Eco, Normal and Sport, and each mode also adjusts the electric steering’s sensitivity.

The 3.8-liter Lamba V6 produces 311 horsepower, making it the most powerful V6 in the Kia lineup.  A three-step Variable Intake System (VIS) is designed to provide optimum low- and mid-range torque.  Similar to the V8, the Lamba V6 features GDI and CVVT technology to help improve efficiency.  A variable-load oil pump maintains optimum pressure at both low and high speeds.  Like its more powerful sibling, the V6 also is mated to the same eight-speed transmission with gear ratios tailored to best match the engine application.

An advanced five-link fully independent front and rear suspension soaks up road imperfections while also managing to communicate what’s happening at each corner.  Mounted on a sub-frame to isolate road shocks, the front suspension has coaxial coil-spring shock absorbers and a new friction bearing in the steering column to enhance straight-line stability and steering precision.  At the rear, the suspension sub-frame also houses the differential, and the coil springs and shock absorbers are separate units, allowing for negative camber for improved cornering ability.

The rear-drive layout of the K900 encourages spirited driving, and the solid chassis, consisting of 75 percent high and ultra-high tensile strength steel, utilizes advanced manufacturing methods that result in a body shell with exceptional strength and torsional rigidity.

The K900 V8 includes as standard equipment staggered P245/45P-19 front and P275/40R-19 rear tires on 19-inch chrome alloy wheels while the V6 rides on 18-inch alloy wheels shod with P245/50R-18 tires.  NVH is kept to a minimum with standard laminated front and side window glass and generous use of sound reducing materials.

USA - VW announces pricing of new 1.8T Beetle hatch and convertible

New models gain significant fuel economy improvements over outgoing 2.5-liter Beetle

  • Beetle 1.8T priced from $20,295
  • Beetle Convertible 1.8T base price is $25,170
  • Coupe gains 4 mpg on EPA estimated highway fuel economy over outgoing 2.5 automatic transmission model
  • Convertible gains 5 mpg on highway cycle, or 19 percent improvement

Having launched the new EA888 1.8-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI® engine in the Jetta and Passat lineup, Volkswagen of America has announced pricing for the Beetle and Beetle Convertible 1.8T models, which are now beginning to arrive in dealerships.

The base price for the Beetle is $20,295 when equipped with a five-speed manual transmission and $21,395 with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Beetle Convertible, which is only available with the six-speed automatic, begins at $25,170. Volkswagen’s standard destination charge for the Beetle and Beetle Convertible is $820.

Designed to be lighter and more fuel-efficient, the new EA888 Gen 3 turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder powerplant features a number of refinements, such as a new thinwall cylinder block, a cylinder head with an integrated exhaust manifold, and careful attention to the reduction of friction. The new 1.8-liter TSI engine is built at Volkswagen’s new engine factory in Silao, Mexico, part of the Volkswagen Group’s ongoing $5 billion investment in North America.

The 1.8T engine has a peak output of 170 horsepower at 4800 to 6200 rpm, matching the horsepower rating of the outgoing 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine, but delivered at 700 fewer revs. The new engine offers seven pound-feet more torque at 184 lb-ft, produced at just 1500 rpm—a whopping 2750 revs less than the outgoing 2.5’s torque figure. The torque curve is strong and flat, with the peak being delivered from 1500 to 4750 rpm. All 1.8T Beetle models now have electric power steering, in place of the hydraulic setup on the 2.5 models.

The new engine also returns better EPA estimated fuel economy figures than the 2.5-liter unit. The Beetle equipped with the 1.8T and a six-speed automatic transmission now gets 33 mpg on the highway, up from 29 mpg for the 2.5-liter engine. At the same time, the city mileage improves from 22 to 25 mpg, and the overall EPA estimated combined fuel economy is now 28 mpg compared with 25 for the outgoing five cylinder.

On the manual transmission model, the EPA city/combined/highway fuel economy ratings have improved from 22/25/31 mpg to 24/27/33 mpg. In the case of the Beetle Convertible, the EPA ratings have gone from 21/23/27 mpg to 24/27/32 mpg—a 19 percent gain in the estimated highway fuel economy.

The implementation of this engine throughout the Beetle lineup furthers Volkswagen’s leadership in turbocharged and direct-injection technology among volume automakers. Volkswagen first used this combination of turbocharging and direct injection in U.S.-market gasoline engines in the 2006 Jetta GLI and GTI models. Since then, Volkswagen’s EA888 four cylinder has set the benchmark for small-displacement turbocharged engines, while the EA288 TDI® has set the standard for diesel engines in the North American market since it first appeared in the 2009 Jetta TDI Clean Diesel.

The vast majority of Volkswagen’s range is now powered by these advanced turbocharged and direct-injection engines, either in diesel or gasoline form. Volkswagen of America predicts that by the end of 2014, close to 90 percent of its vehicles will be sold with these engines.

USA - 2015 Lincoln Navigator, better interior, better looks and more powerful engines.

  • A redesigned exterior, updated interior, more powerful engine, additional customer-focused technologies and new luxurious appointments elevate Lincoln Navigator in the full-size luxury SUV market
  • A new 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost® engine delivers more power; available Lincoln Drive Control with Continuously Controlled Damping provides a smoother ride; electric power-assisted steering improves handling; and puddle lamps that create a “welcome mat” below both front doors offer a new level of elegance
  • An available Reserve Package includes 22-inch wheels and ultra-luxurious leather with premium Ziricote wood trim

The Lincoln Motor Company introduces the new 2015 Navigator, offering a fresh interpretation of a classic vehicle that has long defined the full-size luxury sport utility segment.

At the Chicago Auto Show on Feb. 6, the public will get its first look at a new Navigator that takes on a changed presence for the 2015 model year. Exterior design changes are accentuated by the reintroduction of Lincoln’s iconic split-wing grille. Interior enhancements include luxurious leather and additional customer-focused technologies. The more refined appearance complements enhanced power and hauling capabilities that Navigator customers demand.

The sleeker front end includes a newly designed hood, and the reimagined back end features a power up/down tailgate. On both ends, the vehicle wears jewel-like light-emitting diode (LED) lights, as well as high-intensity discharge (HID) adaptive headlamps with LED accents.

“We knew what our customers wanted,” said Elaine Bannon, chief engineer of the 2015 Navigator. “Navigator has always had great features, and we were able to keep those things. I’m proud that we were able to give our customers so much more.”

Navigator comes standard with 20-inch, machined aluminum wheels, while Reserve Package vehicles are equipped with 22-inch, polished aluminum wheels. Reserve Package Navigators also offer optional chrome-accented running boards.

As with current-generation models, the 2015 Navigator will be available in standard-length (207.4 inches) and extended-length (222.3 inches) versions.

Luxuriously appointed interior
Navigator has long been synonymous with large-scale luxury. On the 2015 Navigator, the Reserve Package introduces a new level of luxury to the vehicle’s interior, providing customers with:

  • An updated cabin that extends ultra-luxurious leather to all three rows of seats, as well as to the armrests, center console and transmission shifter
  • A hand-wrapped, leather instrument panel with contrast stitching and leather glove box door
  • Premium Ziricote wood trim, a luxurious natural-grain wood new to the automotive industry, most commonly used as an accent in yachts

Navigator comes standard with the new Lincoln steering wheel, introduced on the recently revealed MKC premium small utility. The Wollsdorf leather-wrapped, wood-trimmed wheel features a thicker grip and softer touch for a more dynamic driving experience.

Designed to seat up to eight people, Navigator offers buyers second-row options that include two captain’s chairs, with or without a center console, or a fold-flat bench. Due in part to Navigator’s patented independent rear suspension, which allows for true fold-flat, PowerFold® third-row seats, extended-length and standard wheelbase models are projected to deliver segment-leading cargo volume.

Extended-length models provide 128.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the first row, 86.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row, and 42.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row; standard wheelbase models deliver 103.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the first row, 54.4 cubic feet behind the second row, and 18.1 cubic feet behind the third row.

“We have this iconic vehicle with untapped potential,” Bannon said. “Now it’s got more of what our customers want. It’s got the new Lincoln design DNA on the exterior, a redesigned instrument panel, a leather Reserve Package, 22-inch wheels. Once we were able to include all of those elements, I knew we had a winner.”

A smoother, more powerful ride
Replacing the 5.4-liter V8 that has powered Navigator for years is a more powerful and fuel-efficient 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine.

The twin turbocharged, direct injection engine is projected to deliver at least 370 horsepower and 430 lb.-ft. of torque, according to preliminary test data. Final numbers will be available closer to production. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost is also projected to deliver best-in-class towing.

Navigator features a six-speed automatic transmission with Lincoln’s SelectShift, which allows the driver to manually control gears if desired. The vehicle is available in both four-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive configurations. The available Control Trac Four-Wheel-Drive system enhances traction on slippery surfaces, helps improve handling on dry roads and enables off-road capability.

Helping make this the best-handling Navigator ever is the addition of standard electric power-assisted steering. This allows for more consistent and precise control of the vehicle through a range of speeds while simultaneously making it easier to maneuver at low speeds, and in particular making it easier to park.

The Lincoln Drive Control option adds Lincoln’s Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD), a suspension system that monitors multiple vehicle sensors and road conditions every two milliseconds and adjusts the suspension needs accordingly. CCD also provides a smoother and improved ride – best-ever for Navigator – and allows the driver to customize the ride of the vehicle by selecting one of three different control modes: Normal, Sport and Comfort.

Navigator also offers driver-friendly Hill Start/Descent Assist. When parked on a hill with a grade of five degrees or more, the vehicle remains stationary for up to two seconds after the driver releases the brake pedal.

Standard-equipped Navigators will continue to offer Nivomat®, a load-leveling system that automatically raises a loaded rear end to optimum ride height for improved handling. The mechanical leveling system helps reduce uneven wear on front and rear tires and helps maintain better vehicle aerodynamics.

Technology-based luxury
Illuminated “welcome mats” beneath both front doors greet Navigator owners when they press the “unlock” button on the key fob.

A passive entry system allows owners to enter without using a key. The system senses when the key fob is in range of the door and allows for keyless access via a door-mounted button. Inside, a push-button start allows for keyless engine ignition.

The latest SYNC® with MyLincoln Touch™ driver connectivity system is standard. The system allows drivers to use voice-activated or touch screen controls to make phone calls, play music, use the navigation system or set cabin temperature controls. The system includes 4.2-inch LCD displays in the instrument cluster, an 8-inch touch screen in the center stack and traditional knob controls for easy operation.

The available Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®) signals when another vehicle is detected in an adjacent lane behind either rear wheel. Standard for 2015, Navigator also introduces a new rearview camera, which displays a color image on the 8-inch touch screen for help when driving in reverse.

Rebirth of an icon
Navigator was wildly popular the moment it hit the streets in the late 1990s, and spent more than a decade as one of the top-selling vehicles in the segment. Featuring seating for up to eight passengers, luxury cues typically reserved for sedans and cargo space and towing capacity to haul virtually anything, Navigator set the full-size luxury SUV standard.

It was an immediate success, accounting for 41 percent of in-segment sales by the 2000 model year. Aiming to recapture that glory, the 2015 Navigator offers nearly two dozen upgrades from the current generation.

“Navigator has retained some of the most loyal following in the segment for more than a decade,” said Jim Farley, executive vice president, Ford global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln. “Among Lincoln owners, more than 70 percent have been return customers – purchasing the vehicle for its power, for its beauty and for its capability, and this new Navigator gives them more on all three fronts.”

Production of the 2015 Navigator is scheduled to begin late this summer at the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, Ky., and vehicles are due in Lincoln showrooms in early fall.

McLaren expands further, this time, a new dealership in Bangkok.

McLaren Automotive continues to grow and strengthen the global retailer network with the appointment of the latest retail partner in Thailand. McLaren Bangkok is the eighth location in Asia for the British high performance sports car brand, and marks the 30th market worldwide.

McLaren Bangkok will be operated by Niche Cars Co. Ltd., which boasts extensive market experience, and are leaders in the sourcing and sale of luxury and performance cars throughout Thailand. The latest location to be added to the McLaren Automotive retail portfolio will be located in the Siam Paragon luxury shopping mall in the country’s capital, which is one of the largest shopping centres in Asia.

Commenting on the appointment, Mirko Bordiga McLaren Automotive Regional Director for Asia-Pacific explains: ‘We are extremely pleased to announce our latest retail partner in the region, which will bring the McLaren brand to Thailand. The Asia-Pacific region has seen rapid growth recently with the significant expansion of our retailer network, and further strengthens our brand presence globally.’

Vittawat Chinabarramee, Managing Director of Niche Cars Co., Ltd added: "We are delighted to be appointed the representative for McLaren in Thailand. The McLaren brand has been making history on the track for 50 years, and the cutting-edge Formula 1 expertise and technologies now feature on a stunning range of high performance sports cars. It is with great pleasure that Niche Cars Co., Ltd can bring the  12C and, most notably, the limited edition McLaren P1™ to all car enthusiasts who are most eager of the brand’s presence here in Thailand."

FORMULA ONE - James Hunt to be inducted into Motor Sport Hall of Fame (AT LAST)

  • 1976 world champion one of four new inductees for 2014
  • Hunt family out in force to receive prestigious accolade
  • James Hunt will be one of four racing legends to be inducted into the coveted Motor Sport Hall of Fame later this month.

While breaking with tradition, the announcement in advance whets the appetite for a star-studded evening at the Royal Opera House on Wednesday 29 January.

Hunt, who sadly passed away in 1993, will always be remembered as one of the sport’s biggest personalities – more so now that his ultimately successful title duel with arch-rival Niki Lauda in 1976 has been immortalised in the Hollywood blockbuster Rush. The Austrian legend, though, did beat his British nemesis into the Hall of Fame – he is one of motor sport’s 25 greatest names already inducted.

“James Hunt belongs in rarified company as a great British sporting hero who transcended the arena that made him famous to become a genuine national – if not global – icon. During the 1970s you didn’t need to be a motor racing fan to know who James Hunt was,” said Damien Smith, editor of Motor Sport magazine.

“Clearly, he was a natural star, but the force of his personality sometimes means his ability and achievements as a truly exceptional racing driver are overlooked. That is why we feel it is important that James is made a member of the Motor Sport Hall of Fame. It was his competitive instinct, bravery and sheer speed that carried him to the 1976 F1® World Championship, and he fully deserves to join former rivals such as Niki Lauda, Jody Scheckter and Mario Andretti in our exclusive club of legends.”

No fewer than 15 members of the Hunt family will be present in London to see the accolade presented to James’ eldest son, Tom Hunt.

While the star-studded Motor Sport Hall of Fame evening is strictly ‘by-invitation-only’, highlights while be broadcast in an F1®Show Special aired on Sky Sports F1® at 20:30hrs on Friday 31 January 2014 and again throughout the following week.

UK - Vauxhall celebrates 12th year as UK #1 commercial vehicle builder

Vauxhall built over 44,000 vans in the UK last year, making it Britain’s number one van maker for the 12th year running, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Bedfordshire-based Vauxhall celebrated 110 years of building and selling vehicles in 2013 and achieving 12 years of manufacturing dominance was the perfect way to round off its landmark year.

Building over treble that of its nearest competitor, Vauxhall manufactured 44,657 Vivaro vans at its Luton plant.  UK Vivaro sales, up 34 per cent year-on-year to 18,180, helped drive production. Vauxhall’s offer of four years’ zero per cent APR finance, four years’ free servicing, a four year warranty and four years’ AA cover, was particularly popular with customers.

“We are delighted to be the UK’s leading van manufacturer for the 12th year running,” said Duncan Aldred, Vauxhall’s Chairman and Managing Director. “The Luton-built Vivaro is the lynchpin of our award-winning van range so it’s a fantastic way to round off our 110th Birthday celebrations.”

The Luton van factory is currently ramping up to build the new Vivaro which goes on sale later this year. Facility changes have begun with important upgrades already installed in the body shop.

Significant investment has been made in the project including €95 million in specific plant changes, €112 million in vendor tooling of which €34 million is in the UK and €12 million on facilities.

Over 40 per cent of content for the new vehicle will be sourced locally. The plant and associated agencies directly employ over 1,200 people in the Luton area, and is a significant contributor to the local and wider UK economies.

UK - British Car manufacturing at 6 year high.

UK CAR MANUFACTURING (data for full year 2013)

  • Car production rose 3.1% in 2013 to surpass 1.5 million units – the highest volume since 2007.
  • Industry analysts predict output to reach record levels of around two million units by 2017.
  • UK could become the third largest car manufacturer in Europe.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, "2013 demonstrated the value of the UK’s diverse car manufacturing industry, as surging home demand and robust exports outside Europe saw output grow 3.1% to over 1.5 million units. UK automotive investment announcements exceeded £2.5 billion in 2013, reinforcing industry analysts’ suggestions that the UK could break all-time car output records within the next four years."

Business Secretary Vince Cable said, "Today's figures are another sign that the British car industry is going from strength to strength – with one vehicle rolling off a production line somewhere in the UK every 20 seconds.

"Our success lies in the appetite from countries around the world for British cars. Around 80% of the 1.5 million cars we produced last year were exported – a testament to the diverse, high quality of British manufacturing.

"It also highlights the benefits of industry and government working together and we want to continue this partnership through a long-term strategy. This will give businesses the confidence to invest, speed up development on vehicles of the future and keep the UK as a world leader in cars. Our investment of £1bn jointly with industry will help do this, while also delivering jobs and driving growth."

  • Since 2009, the variety of cars produced in the UK has been underlined by a marked change in export destinations. 
  • While the European market has struggled with tough economic conditions, overall export volumes have been bolstered by strong growth in demand for UK-built cars in other locations.
  • China’s share of exports has grown rapidly over recent years, and the country now looks set to become the largest non-EU market for UK-built cars.
  • Take-up in the United States remained strong last year, and while Russia has seen volumes fall since 2012, it is now firmly established as a key export destination.

About SMMT and UK the automotive industry

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is one of the largest and most influential trade associations in the UK. It supports the interests of the UK automotive industry at home and abroad, promoting a united position to government, stakeholders and the media.

The automotive industry is a vital part of the UK economy accounting for £59 billion turnover and £12 billion value added. With more than 700,000 jobs dependent on the industry, it accounts for 10% of total UK exports and invests £1.7 billion each year in automotive R&D. More than 30 manufacturers build in excess of 70 models of vehicle in the UK supported by around 2,500 component providers and some of the world's most skilled engineers.

UK - Nissan beats previous sales record with significant increase.

  • Nissan sold 118,061 cars in the UK in 2013, up 11.5 per cent on 2012
  • Nissan market share in the UK was 5.2 per cent – sixth biggest brand in the UK
  • Qashqai sold 50,211 units, up 9.9 per cent, making it UK's sixth best-selling car
  • Juke sold 37,488 units, up an incredible 29.9 per cent
  • Sunderland production facility output tops 500,000 for a second year

Sales records have been beaten for another year at Nissan, with 118,061 cars sold in 2013, an increase of 11.5 percent on 2012 – itself a record year.  Including LCVs, Nissan sold 128,680 vehicles in the UK, up 11.0 percent from 115,970 in 2012.

Key to these record figures were the performance of two British-built stars: the Juke and Qashqai. Despite the imminent arrival of the second-generation model – which has just arrived in UK showrooms – the Qashqai continued its remarkable success story, notching up 50,211 sales, an incredible 9.9 per cent increase on 2012 and the first time the Qashqai has topped the 50,000 mark. The figures consolidated the Qashqai’s position as the UK’s sixth best-selling car.

The Juke also enjoyed a stellar year, with sales up from 28,862 in 2012 to 37,488 in 2013 – a 29.9 per cent increase. Now in its third year, the British designed and built supermini crossover was boosted by the arrival of a Nismo version that added a sporting edge to the range.

The all-electric LEAF also had a busy year up from 699 sales in 2012 to 1,812 in 2013. As part of Nissan’s growth plan for electric vehicles, European production of a revised LEAF started at Nissan’s Sunderland production facility in April, with the model range growing substantially.

Nissan’s remarkable sales success was set against the backdrop of a record year at Nissan's Sunderland manufacturing facility, which broke the 500,000 unit production barrier for the second year in a row, building an incredible 501,756 vehicles.

NissanLCVs also proved popular with buyers in 2013, with 10,619 light commercial vehicles sold – an increase of 4.7 per cent. The NV200 and Navara were the two biggest sellers, notching up 4,230 and 4,484 sales respectively.

Jim Wright, Managing Director at Nissan GB said: “These figures prove that Nissan is continuing to reap the rewards of hard work and intelligent planning. For the Qashqai to break the 50,000 sales mark in its sixth year of production is testament to its remarkable design and value.

“I’m also immensely proud of our other British success stories, namely the Juke, new Note and LEAF. The Juke’s performance proves that British buyers value bold and innovative design, while the Note and LEAF are welcome additions to the Sunderland stable. To break the 500,000 production barrier for a second year is incredible, especially as the plant has been busy integrating new facilities for new Note and LEAF. With the new Qashqai rolling off the lines, I’m sure that 2014 will be another year to remember.”

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Kia launches new VR7 range, added kit and discounts across the board.

  • VR7’ range available on  Picanto, Rio and cee’d family
  • High level of standard specification across all ‘VR7’ models
  • Low rate 4.9 per cent APR finance
  • Up to £1,000 currently off selected models
  • Care-3 all-inclusive servicing available for just £99

Kia has confirmed the arrival in UK dealerships of the new ‘VR7’ special edition range on its Picanto, Rio and cee’d models. Offering a high level of standard specification across all models, the ‘VR7’ range is also available with discounts of up to £1,000, low rate 4.9 per cent APR finance deals and the option of a Care-3 all-inclusive servicing package for just £99.

The Kia Care-3 all-inclusive servicing package provides retail customers inflation-proof servicing costs for the first three services and is available for just £99 on the ‘VR7’ range. Care-3 is also fully transferable to subsequent owners.

All ‘VR7’ models share the same key specification. These include interior extras such as air conditioning, leather trimmed steering wheel and gearshift, Bluetooth Connectivity and USB & AUX ports.  A selection of exterior features such as alloy wheels, reversing sensors, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors and electric front and rear (where applicable) windows are also included.

Not only does the range offer excellent value it is available with finance at a great rate of 4.9 per cent. A £1,000 Kia Access Deposit Contribution is also available on the pro_cee’d, cee’d 5-door and cee’d Sportswagon versions.

Picanto from £8,795

The Picanto 3-door ‘VR7’ 1.0 68bhp and Picanto 5-door ‘VR7’ 1.0 84bhp both come with all the ranges standard features. Both Picanto models also come with a host of other safety features such as ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (ESB), Brake-Assist System (BAS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), six airbags and Hill-start Assist control (HAC).

The Picanto range also include a selection of exterior extras such as silver finished interior door handles, chrome exterior door handles, premium black upholstery and a black radiator grille. With an offer price for the 3-door Picanto of £8,795 and 5-door Picanto at £8,995 both models in the ‘VR7’ range give customer savings of £750.

Customer savings of £1,000 on the Rio range

The ‘VR7’ Rio range includes models of Rio 3-door and 5-door 1.25bhp and Rio 5-door 1.1 CRDi bhp, all with savings of £1000. All the Rio models include the standard added features along with exterior extras such as body-colour bumpers, exterior door handles and door mirrors. The Rio ‘VR7’ range also has the safety features of ESC, VSM, HAC and Anti-theft Alarm System.

The ‘VR7’ cee’d Family

The ‘VR7’ range is available on the pro_cee’d 1.4 bhp, cee’d 5-door 1.4  bhp & 1.4 CRDi bhp and the cee’d Sportswagon 1.4 bhp. The pro_cee’d ‘VR7’ 1.4 bhp starting at £13,495 comes with all of the standard ‘VR7’ packages as well the following exterior extras of 16 inch alloy wheels, black ‘abtract’ cloth, steering wheel mounted controls and a rear spoiler all with a customer saving of £1,000.

The cee’d 5-door and cee’d Sportswagon models also come with a fantastic trim level. This gives customers the exterior extras of a rear spoiler, projection headlights, front fog lights and daytime running lights. The safety features which are added on top of the range’s standard extras include emergency stop signalling, ESC, VSM, ABS (Anti Brake System) and finally HAC.

The cee’d Sportswagon ‘VR7’ 1.4 bhp also comes with a luggage under-floor box and side tray, luggage 12V power outlet and roof rails.

The ‘VR7’ range is available in four colours, white, black, silver and red. All models benefit from our pioneering 7 year/100,000 mile manufacturer warranty.

Jaguar XK gets upgrades and price cuts as well as a slightly better front end.

  • Two special edition Jaguar XK models – in Signature and Dynamic  R specification – available to order now at Jaguar UK dealers
  • Both new derivatives to be available in Coupé and Convertible form
  • The performance focused 510PS XK Dynamic R model benefits from a standard fit Black Dynamic Pack, incorporating XKR-S suspension and dynamics and a 10mm reduction in ride height, plus Speed Pack aerodynamic upgrades and a range of other additions including the new Diamond Sewn Performance seat with contrast stitch
  • The luxury focused 385PS XK Signature model comes equipped with 20” Kalimnos wheels and Reverse Park Camera as standard, plus additional luxury features
  • Both Signature and Dynamic R models are offered with a choice of premium exterior paint colours  and interior combinations
  • XK Signature is priced at £54,950 with XK Dynamic R on sale at £69,950 on-the-road

The first Jaguar car to be created under the leadership of Design Director Ian Callum, the dramatic and purposeful XK, is receiving a number of additions for the 2015 model year that add to its palette of impressive performance technologies and luxury features.

Two special edition models will be available in exclusive Signature and Dynamic R specifications. The 2015 Model Year XK line-up now comprises Signature, Dynamic R and R-S derivatives.

The luxury focused XK Signature model – with a 385PS 5.0-litre V8 engine – is fitted with a host of additional features including standard 20” Kalimnos wheels and Reverse Park Camera, while the performance focused 510PS 5.0-litre supercharged XK Dynamic R – based on the existing XKR – offers Black Dynamic Pack, which incorporates XKR-S suspension and dynamics and a 10mm reduction in ride height, plus Speed Pack, which equips the car with an Aerodynamic Pack and an increased top speed of 174mph. A Performance Active Exhaust is also standard equipment.

First deliveries to UK customers of the new XK Signature and Dynamic R editions are expected in March.


Jaguar sports cars have a reputation for blending athletic high-performance with effortless cruising comfort. Nothing exemplifies this dual character more clearly than the supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine fitted to both XK special edition cars.

Now in its third generation, this engine offers not only tremendous power but also great efficiency by incorporating the very latest technology including spray-guided direct injection (SGDI) and dual independent variable cam timing (DIVCT). Like the car itself, the engine is constructed from high-grade, lightweight aluminum, which in the cylinder heads is recycled to reduce the environmental impact of manufacture.

The XK Signature can reach 60 mph in 5.2 seconds in Coupé guise, and 5.3 seconds for the Convertible, each car producing a meaty 515Nm of torque. The top speed for both variants is electronically limited to 155mph and both cars produce just 264 g/km of CO2. The XK Dynamic R’s 5.0-litre supercharged V8, offers power and torque figures of 510PS and 625Nm respectively, taking the car to 60mph in just 4.6 seconds with a limited top speed of 174mph. Extremely powerful but also efficient, the XK Dynamic R emits 292g/km of CO2.

Both XK Dynamic R and Signature models are fitted with a six-speed ZF automatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddles, which control the Jaguar Sequential Shift function for greater driver control.

The supercharged XK Dynamic R edition also benefits from Jaguar's Active Differential Control technology. This uses a multiplate clutch to vector torque to the driven wheel with the most grip. Allied to ABS and stability control, this allows for the ultimate in traction and precision both mid-corner and at its exit. The XK Signature model uses a mechanical differential, which delivers outstanding levels of grip and stability under power.

Both cars feature Dynamic Stability Control system, which offers four modes: Normal, Winter, TracDSC and DSC Off, allowing the enthusiastic driver to choose the level of intervention dependent on road conditions.

The double wishbone front suspension on both cars features a fully-machined steering knuckle which significantly increases camber and castor stiffness by 0.13 degrees per kilo newton, to transform the accuracy and weighting of the steering for greater levels of connection, feedback and precision. Rear suspension geometry benefits from rear wheel steer - optimised for maximum agility.

The XK Dynamic R features as standard the Black Dynamic Pack – incorporating suspension technology from the XKR-S – which adds a stiffer knuckle for improved steering precision, uprated spring and damper settings and Jaguar’s Adaptive Dynamics system, which performs three main functions; controlling vertical body movement, roll and pitch rates. One hundred times every second, Adaptive Dynamics analyses the thousands of inputs and variables which determine ride and handling characteristics. Additionally, the XK Dynamic R’s ride height is lowered by 10mm, giving the car more of an assertive presence on the road. The Dynamic R also comes as standard with Speed Pack, which increases the maximum speed from 155mph to an electronically limited 174mph. In addition to the increased maximum speed, the pack also includes a body-coloured Aerodynamic Pack with front splitter and larger rear spoiler, as well as a body-coloured rear diffuser and side sill extensions. A Performance Active Exhaust is also fitted as standard.


Standard on the XK Signature are Luxury seats available in Ivory or Charcoal soft grain leather. The interior also features Canvas Suedecloth headlining, Figured Ebony veneers and Bright Metal sport pedals.

The XK Dynamic R boasts Jaguar’s new diamond sewn Performance seat in either Ivory/Charcoal soft grain leather with Ivory contrast stitch or Charcoal/Red soft grain leather with Red contrast stitch leather. Featuring integrated head restraints and increased lateral and squab support, the new seats hold driver and passenger securely and comfortably in place. The 16-way adjustment of squab, cushion, lumbar and bolster elements is supplemented by memory and heating functions. The interior Jet Suedecloth headliner is complemented with Piano Black veneers. Bright Metal sport pedals are also fitted as standard.

The central seven-inch touch-screen provides an intuitive interface for the extensive technology that is seamlessly incorporated into the XK, including iPod and USB connectivity and satellite navigation with DVD mapping. The central screen also projects the image from the new Reverse Park Camera, which is fitted as standard to both special edition cars.

The XK Signature comes with 20’’ Kalimnos wheels as standard, with 20” Takoba wheels available as an option, while the XK Dynamic R has 20” Vortex diamond turned wheels – with distinctive Red painted brake calipers – and the option of 20” Vulcan Gloss Black lightweight alloys.

Both the XK Signature and Dynamic R editions are available with a choice of exterior body colours – Polaris White, Ultimate Black, Stratus Grey, Italian Racing Red, Dark Sapphire and British Racing Green.

New FIAT Panda 4X4 Antarctica is now available to order

  • New FIAT Panda 4X4 Antarctica is now available to order priced from £14,895 OTR
  • FIAT Panda 4X4 Antarctica features a unique look, as well as additional standard features
  • UK order books of standard FIAT Panda 4X4 are now almost full with delivery of most new orders expected from March 2014

FIAT is celebrating 30 years and 500,000 sales of its iconic all-wheel drive city car with the special edition FIAT Panda 4X4 Antarctica. Designed to stand out from the crowd, the Antarctica is only available in white with a black roof, orange detailing, diamond-finish 15-inch alloy wheels and special badges.

Inside, the FIAT Panda 4X4 Antarctica features grey and orange upholstery with numerous additional standard features such as dark-tinted rear privacy glass, a height adjustable driver’s seat and three-passenger rear seat with 60:40 split/folding backrests. As with all examples of the FIAT Panda 4X4 sold in the UK, the Antarctica edition also features air conditioning, ESC stability control, an electronic locking differential (ELD), specially tuned suspension, mud-and-snow tyres and rugged bodywork protection all as standard.

Powered either by FIAT’s award-winning 85hp 0.9 TwinAir petrol engine or a 75hp 1.3-litre MultiJet II turbo diesel engine, the FIAT Panda 4X4 Antarctica offers a unique combination of exceptionally low running costs and genuine off-road capability which is unmatched by any competitor vehicle.

Just 300 examples of the FIAT Panda 4X4 Antarctica will be built for the UK market priced from £14,895 OTR and available on a PCP from just £229 deposit and £229 per month.

Meanwhile demand for the standard FIAT Panda 4X4, recently named ‘2014 Mini 4X4’ by the UK’s best-selling off-road enthusiast publication, 4X4 Magazine, and Top Gear magazine’s SUV of the Year 2012, has been so strong that a waiting list has developed. Customers who order now could expect delivery of their new FIAT Panda 4X4 in March 2014, in time for the new ‘14’ registration plate. In the interim, the exciting new limited edition FIAT Panda 4X4 Antarctica will be available to help satisfy this demand.

Elena Bernardelli, Marketing Director FIAT Group Automobiles UK, commented: “Not only has the FIAT Panda 4X4 been a huge success all over Europe for the past 30 years, it’s in huge demand in the UK too. British buyers really appreciate its nimbleness and efficiency, combined with its immense all-weather capability, all wrapped up in a distinctive and unmistakably Italian package. The new Panda 4X4 Antarctica - with its extra equipment, unique styling features and strictly limited numbers - should prove even more appealing so potential buyers will need to be quick to snap one up this winter!”