Monday 30 July 2007

Concept Car: Mitsubishi cX

Today Mitsubishi Motors unveiled a new SUV concept which is set to be revealed at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor show. With an emphasis on environmental concerns, the SUV will be powered by a new high-output, 1.8-liter clean diesel engine, featuring a variable geometry (VG) turbocharger for optimum boost control and a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) with diesel particulate filter (DPF) in the exhaust system for compliance with Europe's Euro 5 emission standards.

Just like the forthcoming Evo X, the Concept cX features an electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system and fat 225/45R19 tires. Also as in the Evo X, Mitsubishi's Twin Clutch SST (Sport Shift Transmission) transmits the power, offering performance as well as good fuel economy and low emissions. Mitsubishi is also touting the environmental technologies inside the car, including extensive use of what Mitsubishi calls "Green Plastic," made from bamboo and other plant-based resins. The compact cX is short,. At 161.4 inches, it's 6 shorter than a Volkswagen R32 coupe.

Saturday 28 July 2007

Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit Spied

It might be the weekend, but Volkswagen’s engineers are hard at work out in the Death Valley sun, likely hoping to get a testing session completed without detection from our spy shooters. Fortunately, the team at KGP Photography recognizes no timetables, and they managed to catch some of the first clear shots of VW’s next-generation Golf/Rabbit hatch. Judging by a certain engineer’s hand signals, we’re guessing that VW was less-than-pleased to see our boys and their cameras.

The new look (or what’s visible below the camouflage, at any rate), is unlikely to jar VW enthusiasts, as it appears to be rather predictable evolution of the current hatch. KGP notes that this prototype does evince “some more involved surface development, with a more chiseled character line running along the car’s waistline.” Given how pivotal this model is for VW (it’s a particularly huge seller in European markets), it isn’t surprising that Wolfsburg isn’t keen to make a daring design statement, but we’re hoping for some interesting front- and rear-end treatments to give this sixth-generation car a more dynamic look.

While no official date has been given for the next iteration of the VW stalwart, the model is expected to see European showrooms in 2008—far sooner than American dealers, who probably won’t see the car until 2009 or 2010. This makes a degree of sense given that the current Mark V model has been on sale abroad since 2003, but only on offer (as the Rabbit) in the U.S. since last summer.

As before, a range of four- and six-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines is planned, with both manual and dual-clutch DSG transmissions on offer.

What the spy photographers saw:

We caught VW engineers in the midst of unloading a prototype for the next-generation Golf (renamed the Rabbit in the U.S.) in the middle of the desert–and they were none too pleased about it. Perhaps they thought that by working weekends, they might get a pass from the car spies, but that wasn’t the case. This new model will represent the sixth-generation of the Golf, and the car’s overall shape remains true to the familiar Golf styling. This prototype displays some more involved surface development, with a more chiseled character line running along the car’s waistline. The door handles no longer intersect with that character line, suggesting that is juts out more abruptly creating stronger belt line shelf. The lower side sills also get a newly sculpted flare that adds a little aggression to the stance. It also appears that the C-pillar gets a more prominent dog- legged kink. It’s not quite BMW’s trademark Hoffmeister kink on the 1-series hatch, but it’s heading a bit more in that direction.

The camouflage on the C-pillar and the rear hatch seems to suggest a new arrangement between the pillar and the rear glass, suggesting that the backlight on the next-gen Golf may have a slight wrap-around effect.

Changes to the Golf have always been evolutionary, and this occasion is nothing different. Earlier reports suggested that VW would be updating the current platform to enable more cost-efficient assembly, meaning some combination of lower price and higher profits. The overall look of this car would suggest that those reports might have been accurate. The new design appears to be a thoughtful massaging of the familiar Golf cues, instead of a revolutionary makeover.

Mercedes E-Class AMG Sedan spy photos

Mercedes is preparing the new generation E-Class code named W 212, for release in mid 2009. Although, there is nothing new to report since our last installment of E 63 AMG spy photos, here are the most recent photos of the heavily disguised prototype. Our latest spy photos show an E-Class AMG prototype hammering around the famous Nurburgring racetrack.

The disguise on the test car is still hiding details of the new styling which feature elements from the just launched C-Class, however, we can see the overall shape resembling the new S-Class.

After considerable quality problems with the current E-Class, Mercedes is now striving hard to increase the quality standard of the new model to its highest possible level.

The next E-Class will offer a wide selection of engines, ranging from 184hp 4-cylinder to a 544hp V8 petrol engines, and 136hp 4-cylinder to 354hp V8 diesels. One can expect the usual V6 and V8-engines, plus a normally aspirated, 500+ HP 6.3-liter V8 for the E 63 by AMG.

Mercedes will abandon SBC in favour of conventional brakes, although they will boast features on all variants such as wet-weather disc wiping and wheel-selective cornering brake control. Optional ceramic-composite discs could be introduced top-down.

The next E-class will copy the S-Class's wheel-arch extensions, rising character line below the door handles, massive bumpers, and greenhouse. A more sculpted wide-frame grille, the more geometric nasal air intakes, and the wedge-shaped profile should give W212 a sportier stance. Actually, early styling models show a certain affinity for the most recent efforts from Lexus - such as the rectangular quad headlamps, the C-pillar treatment, and the taillights. This is, of course, ironic given that the Lexus LS is famous for copying Mercedes, but Stuttgart still has plenty of time to hone the shape.

Driver assistance in general is a major theme for W212. Expect lane-departure warnings, an eye-movement monitor, traffic-sign identification, road-condition sensors, and stability control that accounts for crosswinds, camber changes, and tire wear. We expect the usual V6- and V8-engines, plus a normally aspirated, 500-plus-bhp 6.3-liter V8 for the E63 AMG model.

Jeep Cherokee/Liberty production starts!

The All New 2008 Jeep Liberty made its debut earlier this year and now Chrysler Group have announced the start of production at its Toledo North Assembly Plant (TNAP) in Ohio.

The addition of the Liberty to the Toledo Manufacturing line represents a major expansion which will see 2 different models (the liberty and the Dodge Nitro) built on the same production line, allowing Chrysler to bring new models to the market quicker.

Chrysler have parted company with $3.9 billion including $1.2 billion to build the original Toledo North Assembly Plant which opened in 2001 and a further $2.1 billion for Chrysler’s Toledo Supplier Park, home of the all-new 2007 Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited four-door.

The Liberty will feature Command-Trac and the all-new Selec-Trac II. - two Jeep Trail Rated four-wheel-drive systems. The on-road ride and handling have been improved and refined with the new independent front suspension, new five-link rear suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. The Liberty’s exterior has been redesigned, and takes on a more rugged, classic Jeep look that is sure to captivate the attention of current Jeep Liberty owners and broaden its consumer appeal.

Press Release:

Addition of all-new 2008 Jeep® Liberty part of major expansion in Chrysler Group’s Toledo Manufacturing capabilities:

Flexible manufacturing allows multiple products to be produced at one plant. Chrysler Group today announced the production launch of the all-new 2008 Jeep® Liberty which is being built at Chrysler Group’s Toledo North Assembly Plant (TNAP) in Toledo, Ohio. The all-new Jeep Liberty is being built alongside the Dodge Nitro which began production in August 2006.

The 2008 Jeep Liberty continues Chrysler Group’s expanding Flexible Manufacturing Strategy (FMS), allowing the Company to bring new vehicles to market quickly and efficiently; and enable its assembly plants to manufacture multiple products on one assembly line.

The Toledo North Plant was extensively retooled to manage the complexity of building two different models on one production line. Investments included multiple plant upgrades, improving quality, productivity and worker ergonomics. Last year, more than 160,000 square feet were added to the plant floor to enhance body and assembly processes. The all-new Liberty carried an investment 85 percent less than previous products. The vehicle is the second model of a two-model flexible manufacturing process implemented at TNAP.
The retooling of TNAP is part of $3.9 billion spent on Toledo manufacturing capabilities that include an original $1.2 billion to build Toledo North (opening in 2001) and $2.1 billion for Chrysler’s Toledo Supplier Park, home of the all-new 2007 Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited four-door.

“With two new modern plants and four new products, Toledo has become a focal point of Chrysler Group’s flexible manufacturing capabilities,” said Byron Green, Vice President – Truck and Activity Vehicle Assembly, Chrysler Group. “For years Toledo has been the home of Jeep, with the legendary Jeep Wrangler and the all-new Wrangler Unlimited. Now, the all-new Jeep Liberty continues the Jeep tradition.”

All-new from the ground up for 2008, the Jeep Liberty remains true to its legendary 4x4 heritage by offering two Jeep Trail Rated® four-wheel-drive systems – Command-Trac® and the all-new Selec-Trac® II. On-road ride and handling have been improved and refined with the new independent front suspension, new five-link rear suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. The Liberty’s exterior has been redesigned, and takes on a more rugged, classic Jeep look that is sure to captivate the attention of current Jeep Liberty owners and broaden its consumer appeal. Inside, cargo and storage space increases and seat comfort improves. Making its world debut is the new Sky Slider™ full-open canvas roof, an industry-exclusive; giving the Jeep Liberty that “Only in a Jeep” open-air experience. Remote start, rain-sensing wipers, memory seats and mirrors, and express up/down windows are added to the vehicle’s ever-growing list of available features and options. There are two models – Jeep Liberty Sport and Jeep Liberty Limited.

Flexible Manufacturing Strategy (FMS):

Chrysler Group Flexible Manufacturing Strategy allows the Company to produce a higher quality product faster and for lower cost. To balance production with demand, the FMS approach allows the Company to efficiently build vehicles that take advantage of a market niche, and to quickly shift production volumes between different models within a single plant or among multiple plants.

FMS is being implemented product by product and plant by plant across the Chrysler Group. New investment is introducing state-of-the-art technology to Chrysler Group plants, enabling the company to produce more than one vehicle on a production line and conduct rolling launches of new models. Additionally, Chrysler Group workforce is becoming more flexible with the implementation of team concepts and an increased emphasis on supporting assembly line operators.

The Liberty assembly process has the capability of being installed and launched without facility downtime due to innovative 2+1 flexibility implemented with the introduction of the Dodge Nitro. The innovative technology allows the production of two different upper bodies to be produced simultaneously on the same assembly line.


At the core of the new manufacturing process is a body shop comprising 150 new robots instead of the vehicle-specific heavy tooling that was previously used. The door, hood and lift gate assembly system is new, as are the side aperture assembly systems. Only the robots’ end effectors, or “hands,” need to change in order to build the different models. That tool change is done automatically, within the time it takes to cycle from one vehicle to the next. TNAP is flexible enough to vary production mix between two products anywhere from 0 to 100 percent of each model. A third model can also be piloted — or test-built — at the same time, helping reduce the time needed to make new-model changeovers.

Material Flow:

New methods of material flow are being implemented to manage the complexity of two models being built on one assembly line. An inbound part sequencing center is housed in the adjoining Stickney complex and manages more than 1,600 different parts that are used in the Dodge Nitro, Jeep Liberty and Toledo Supplier Park Jeep Wrangler two-door and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited four-door build processes. In addition to sequencing, this center provides parts metering, kitting and container management to both Toledo North and Toledo Supplier Park Assembly Plants. Additionally, a significant portion of the TNAP facility is fork-truck-free, as dollies provide materials to production areas, improving both employee safety and productivity measurements.

Smart Manufacturing:

A new workplace organizational model, called Smart Manufacturing, is increasing the flexibility of the TNAP workforce, while fostering greater creativity and innovation from plant employees. This model is being implemented throughout the Chrysler Group Manufacturing organization. In addition to extensive training, the new workplace model lets employees design their own workstations. These changes provide a better work environment for employees and give increased support to assembly line team members.

"With the all-new Jeep Liberty and the new Dodge Nitro that was introduced here last year, the employees of TNAP are pleased to be contributing toward the Chrysler Group’s goal of world-class operational excellence" said Luis Rivas, Plant Manager – Toledo North Assembly Plant, Chrysler Group.

Toledo North Assembly Plant The Toledo (Ohio), Complex, made up of the Toledo North Assembly Plant and the Toledo Supplier Park, has built Jeep-brand vehicles since the 1940s. The Toledo North Assembly Plant is 2.14 million square feet and builds the all-new Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro. The Toledo Supplier Park location is 1.502 million square feet and builds the all-new Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Both plants are represented by United Auto Workers Local 12.

Commitment to the Community Chrysler Group has a significant impact on Toledo and the state of Ohio with 6,238 employees statewide who generate $465 million in annual wages and provide more than $26 million in taxable income to the state. Chrysler Group, a good neighbor good citizen, sponsors various community events through its philanthropic arm, the DaimlerChrysler Corporation Fund, including the Art Tatum Jazz Heritage Festival, Toledo Urban League, City Youth Entrepreneur Program, Toledo Opera, the Toledo Museum of Art, Valentine Theatre and the Diamante Awards.

New Car: 2008 Mini Clubman

This is the new Mini Clubman and although we’ve been snapping prototypes testing around the world for a few years, the official photos are still a bit of a shock.

The Clubman will look like nothing else on sale when it’s launched on 10 November, though you’ll be able to see it at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

As this photo shows, the Mini Clubman will have van-style twin rear doors, each with their own wiper and a cut-out that frames the rear light cluster. This avoids the expensive problem that BMW encountered with damping the headlights on the first-gen new Mini.

Indeed it does, but you can just make out the 240mm longer body. And if you look closely you can also see a rear suicide door, as per the Rolls-Royce Phantom and Mazda RX-8. But like the RX-8, and unlike the Rolls, the self-styled Clubdoor can only be opened when the front driver's door is open. This is for safety’s sake, apparently.

However, the Clubman has clearly been developed for left-hand drive markets, so the suicide door is on the right-hand side. This means that UK drivers get the short straw and both doors will always open into traffic for any passenger drop-offs. Mini says it couldn't engineer doors on both sides, because of the fuel filler arrangement. A shame.

Like the regular Mini, the Clubman will come in Cooper D (110bhp), Cooper (120bhp) and Cooper S (175bhp) guises. All engines will also come with BMW’s brake regeneration and stop/start technology – all aimed at lowering emissions and fuel consumption.

Mini has taken customisation a step further with the Clubman, and whilst you can’t have wooden panels (though who would bet against them appearing soon?), the rear pillars are now the same colour as the roof. The roof comes in silver and black as standard, though you can pay for a different colour, but it remains to be seen what hue they pillars will be if you have the Union Jack option.

BMW will charge £1200 more for the Clubman over the hatchback, meaning that the cheapest Clubman is the petrol Cooper costing £14,235; the priciest is the turbocharged Cooper S at £17,210.

Audi A7 sketch leaked!

Ingolstadt's slinky answer to the Mercedes CLS. The A7 is due to land in showrooms in September 2009 and will be previewed by a concept at the 2008 New York Auto Show.

For any manufacturer to launch a successful model against the CLS, it must turn heads like a scantily-unclad A-list catwalk model. So the A7 will be a sleek, four-door based on the mechanical package of the next A6. And our world exclusive official design sketch, leaked to CAR Online by Audi moles, shows precisely how the Audi will look, with a low-slung profile and a gracefully swept-back stance.

Audis are slowly garnering a reputation as better drivers' cars, after a succession of smash hits (RS4, R8... is the jury still out on the A5?) and from what we know about the new A6/7, it looks like they should be more alert handlers than today's exec. Like on the new A4/A5 family arriving this year, the A7 will get a new steering rack, multi-link suspension and a rear-bias quattro system to quell the apex-busting understeer that's blighted Audi saloons for decades.

Four-cylinder power is off limits in the A7, and so is W12 propulsion. Six- and eight-cylinder power is flavour of the day, with as many as six different engines expected: 3.0-litre V6 and 4.2-litre V8 FSI petrols, topped by Lambo-sourced V10 in normally aspirated and twin-turbo form for the S7 and RS7.

Prefer filling up at the black pump? Then expect 3.0-litre V6 and 4.2-litre V8 TDI units. Pricewise, the natural home for the A7 is the middle ground which separates the A6 from the A8, so the bulk of the models should be positioned in the £35,000-£50,000 bracket. Naturally, in this niche-filling, expansionist era at Ingolstadt, there could be a soft-top, too.This single image, leaked from top brass at Audi exclusively to CAR Online, suggests Audi could have an attractive big coupe on its hands. But it won't have it all its own way; Mercedes is readying a facelift for the CLS in 2008, before an all-new replacement arrives in 2011.

Source: CAR Magazine

Thursday 26 July 2007

Teaser: 2009 Kia Mohave/Borrego

Kia Motors have released some official teaser pictures of their all new full sized SUV. Because we weren't expecting the new SUV to be unveiled so soon it could have a world debut at the Detroit motorshow in 2008.

Teaser: 2008 Kia Pro-Cee'd

Kia Motors Corporation has released the first preview image of its exciting new Kia three-door hatchback model which will make its World Premiere at this year’s Frankfurt International Motor Show on 11 September. The new model will be named Pro-cee’d.

Based closely on the earlier ‘pro_cee’d’ concept shown at the Paris Motor Show in 2006, the new production model has been developed by Kia’s design team in Europe under the direction of Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer.

“Longer, lower and lighter than its five-door sister car, the new Kia Pro-cee’d is going to be a great drive,” enthused Mr Jean-Charles Lievens, Senior Vice President Kia Motors Europe. “Combining real style and genuine practicality, our new three-door cee’d is sure to delight existing Kia customers and attract a new group of European consumers who have not yet considered our brand.”

Manufactured in Slovakia, Pro-cee’d will be the third member of the Kia cee’d family, joining the popular cee’d five-door and the soon to be released cee’d SW models to make Kia an especially strong challenger for C-segment sales in Europe.

Production of the Pro-cee’d model range is scheduled to begin in November with first customer sales during the early months of 2008.

Fiat 500 production expands

Fiat’s got Europe whipped into a frenzy over its new 500 supermini, so much so that it’s just announced a plan to increase the number it can make by 20,000 cars a year.

Turin’s re-imagined city car is proving a sales phenomenon. Fiat took 10,000 deposits on the car on the first day it went on sale. To date it has 57,000 dealer orders from Italy and France, the only territories where you can currently order one; that means almost all of the cars Fiat was intending to produce this year have already been snapped up.

So understandably, Italy’s biggest car-maker is going to ramp up the 500 factory in Tychy, Poland. It will now knock out 67,000 units this year, and 140,000 units in 2008. It could rise even further in 2009, by which time the 500 sister car, the new Ford Ka, will be on sale.

The order books open for us Brits on 15 September, and the increase in production will mean we stand at least a distant chance of getting a new 500 sometime in 2008.
Source: Autocar UK

Monday 23 July 2007

Volkswagen Tiguan Spied

The Volkswagen Tiguan was spotted on a commercial shoot somewhere in Eastern Europe and now we have fresh spy photos of the production vehicle being put through its paces on a test track in Germany.
The vehicle will go on sale in Europe in 2008 and will rival against premium SUV's like the upcoming Audi Q5, Mercedes GLK, Land Rover Freelander, BMW X3 etc but pricing could start around from £18,000 for the entry level model.

Tax-free Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion

Owners of the super-frugal Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion won’t need to pay road tax, because the diesel hatch emits just 99g/km of CO2.

That makes it cleaner than any current hybrid – Toyota Prius included – and one of the cleanest combustion-engined cars on sale.

The Bluemotion uses a specially tuned 1.4-litre three-cylinder turbodiesel engine with intercooler and exhaust gas recirculation for maximum efficiency.

It mixes this with a special five-speed gearbox and carefully honed aerodynamics to make drag as low as possible, and returns a remarkable 74.3mpg.

If you go for the cheaper version, that is. That’s because the Bluemotion will be available in two trims; Bluemotion 1 and Bluemotion 2. The latter gets air-con, rain-sensing wipers, remote locking and leather trim on the wheel, gearknob and handbrake.

Those additions push the Bluemotion 2’s fuel economy down to 70.6mpg, and its CO2 output to 104g/km – still less than a Toyota Prius. They also push the Bluemotion 2 out of tax-exempt Band A road tax, but only just.

The Polo Bluemotion goes on sale in October. A three-door Bluemotion 1 costs £11,995 and the Bluemotion 2 £12,845. The five-door models are £500 more.

Mazda CX-7 Pricing Announced (UK)

The Mazda CX-7 SUV, which arrives in September and will cost £23,960.

Only one engine is available – the 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol four-pot as used in the 3 MPS. That gives the CX-7 256bhp and 280lb ft; enough to push it from 0-60mph in 8.0sec and on to 130mph. Power is sent to all four wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox.

Mazda's hoping that the CX-7 will appeal to UK motorists wanting something a little different, and hopes to sell 1000-1500 a year.

Specification is generous, with a BOSE stereo system, front, side and curtain airbags, leather seats, climate control and 18-inch alloys all standard.

Saturday 21 July 2007

BMW X6 coupé sheds some disguise

This is the first time the BMW X6 off-road, coupe-like crossover has been seen and caught barely disguised! The first spy shots of the upcoming BMW X6, a crossover SUV, were taken late last year around BMW’s Munich headquarters, but now the camouflage has come off and the sloping coupe-like roof line previously revealed is in 100% clear view.

This detail is particularly interesting on the X6, because BMW is applying an aggressive application of the four-door-coupe concept first seen on the Mercedes CLS, to the SUV/Crossover genre. There have been a number of performance-minded SUVs on offer, but the X6 is taking a unique styling approach which appears to be the most ambitious “form-over-function” SUV design effort seen to date.

The roof line begins arching downward after the B-pillar and continues plunging right to the X6's rising waistline. As a result, second-row headroom and rear cargo volume are both severely compromised. The new X6 will be longer and lower than the new X5, but this crossover is expected to seat only four. But what the sporty X6 loses in seating, it will gain in performance. Expect it to arrive sometime during the 2008 calendar year.

Spied: 2009 Mazda6 sedan

The redesigned 2009 Mazda 6 family sedan is expected to launch next spring, and spy photographers captured both four-cylinder and V6 prototypes testing this week. This next-generation Mazda 6 is going to be bigger than the current model, with a wider track and longer body.

An engine upgrade is also expected for the top Mazda 6, with the sedan moving to Ford's 3.5-litre V6 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. This engine debuted in the 2007 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers, as well as the Lincoln MKZ sedan, a car which shares the Mazda 6's CD3 platform. The V6 generates 250 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque.

Friday 20 July 2007

New Car: 2008 Fiat Uno Way (South Africa)

Fiat unveiled a new edition of their Uno for South Africa. Its been successful in the South African market along with other Fiat models sold there. There has been no press release on this model.

Other news:

2009 Fiat Uno:

The Uno was axed in the European market in 1993 to make way for the Fiat Punto. The Uno is set to make a comeback in 2009. Its rumored the car will be sold in developing countries in Europe like Romania, Czech Republic, parts of Russia and Italy.

The upcoming Uno is set to be sitting above the Panda but below the Grande Punto. So will the car make its way onto British shores? For the time being we just have to way patiently.

Tiguan on the streets...

Well on the streets of Eastern Europe. The small SUV was caught on a commercial shoot.

Volkswagen Scirocco in Death Valley

Volkswagen is in California to do some hot-weather testing in Death Valley on the new Scirocco pronounced (Sha-rocco). The new sports car is based on the Eos platform and will come onto the European market in 2009. The first generation Scirooco was a flop, especially in the UK as it had a hefty price tag.
The vehicle will be taking hints of the Volkswagen IROC concept (shown above). The rear end is set to be very identical to the IROC's rear. The interior isn't expected to stay the same in the production model. As well as retaining traditional VW quality, should be great. Gone are the concept’s bucket seats but the production Scirocco will retain the twin pods for the speedo and rev counter, the Eos-sourced air vents and the TT-esque ventilation controls. It will also be the first car to feature VW’s version of Audi’s MMI (Multi Media Interface).
Volkswagen will be aiming at the Audi TT. A price tag for the entry model is likely to start at £18,000 going upto £20,000.
Engines will be ranging from a turbo and supercharged 1.4-litre TSI will make an appearance in two states of tune, 138bhp and 168bhp. There’s also a 2.0-litre diesel with 168bhp, while the Golf GTI will donate its turbocharged 197bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine as well.

This same engine will be tweaked to power a hot R20 Scirocco. A V6 and four-wheel drive have been ruled out on the grounds of cost and thirst. Instead, expect a lightened car with 230bhp from the forced-induction four-pot. The lack of four driven wheels will mean the fastest Scirocco will never be as powerful as the Audi S3 - useful for Volkswagen's increasingly busy brand strategy masters.

Monday 16 July 2007

Car Review: 2007 Skoda Fabia 2 1.4 TDI 80bhp Hatchback

Another vehicle I was looking forward to is the new Fabia. I wanted to see how it compared to its rival in size, power and practicality.
Although the Fabia isn't as big as the Fiat Grande Punto I compared it to the Toyota Yaris, Suzuki Swift and Peugeot 207.
I must say it is different from the other supermini's on the British market when it comes to style but it didn't feel as big as it looks.
Well equipped
Fuel economy on petrol models
No standered sunroof
Reasonable front legroom

Car Review: 2007 Mercedes C220 CDI Sport Sedan

Another car I was looking forward to seeing was the new C-Class. On the Internet the car seemed bigger, wider, longer and taller than its predecessor. As I made myself comfortable in the car using the electric front drivers seat I was still appalled by the rear leg/knee room. Eventually I drained out the battery on the electric seat but I didn't bother telling the dealer....
The fascia looks alright and its starting to grow on me. We also had cream leather seats. The car is well equipped and comfortable. The boot/trunk wasn't ideal for me either...
Electric seats
Spacious cabin
Comfortable leather seats
Well laid out centre console
Rear leg/knee room
Expensive when accessorised

Teaser: 2008 Skoda Fabia Wagon

Skoda Autos have released a teaser image of there upcoming Fabia Combi.

Compared to the hatchback the Combi could stay the same size. The Fabia Combi's sighted testing in Europe had an additional rear side window located by the C-pillar. The new vehicle should make a world debut at the upcoming Frankfurt Motorshow.

Saturday 14 July 2007

Car Review: 2007 Jeep Compass & Patriot

The Jeep Compass was the first vehicle I saw when I turned my head left. After looking at the Compass I was then looking for the Patriot which I saw was parked right next to the dealer's entrance.

The first SUV we checked out was the Patriot. I was disappointed because I thought the Patriot would be slightly bigger than its rival. The rival being the Nissan Qashqai.

The Compass has similar problems to the Patriot but it is bigger than the Nissan X-Trail all round.

Patriot pros & cons:


Feels big compared to Nissan Qashqai
Legendary 4WD
Well equipped


Lack of cabin space
Small boot/trunk
Hard interior plastics



Big compared to some rivals
Sliding rear seats


Hard interior plastics
Small boot/trunk

There are no pictures of the Jeep Patriot

BMW Crossover Spied

A new BMW test mule has hit the Nürburgring, and it may be the first sign that BMW's long-rumored V Series crossover is in development.

Although Mercedes-Benz hasn't exactly enjoyed overwhelming success with its R-Class crossover, that doesn't seem to be deterring BMW from getting into the game.

Based on a modified BMW 3 Series Sport Wagon body, this prototype looks far more car-based than a previous mule we spotted for the next-generation BMW X3. The X3 mule had a tall off-road ride height, while this latest mule sits much lower. A cross between a traditional wagon and a sport-utility, the BMW V Series is ultimately expected to offer three rows of seats in a boxy, yet non-minivan-like body.

This prototype's unique front bumper may have some BMW M3 overtones, but its overall design appears to be original.

Car Review: 2007 Ford Mondeo Titanium Hatchback

Once I saw the new Mondeo at my local Ford dealership, I was very excited to see how it compares to its rivals. A few things let my down but it doesn't make it a bad family car.

Here are my pros and cons of the new Mondeo.


Rear leg/knee room
Large boot/trunk for hatchback but very large for estate/station wagon


A-pillar; despite me being 5ft 8 I still managed to bump my head on the a-pillar
Too much aluminum on centre console

Wagon pictured above

Car Review: 2007 Chrysler Sebring saloon

The previous Chrysler Sebring wasn't sold in Europe because Chrysler thought it would sell slow and the fact it was too big to compete with other mid-sized family cars, but that didn't stop hundreds of imports coming into the UK. Now it's here, has it been worth the wait?

Well, kind of. While the Sebring looks great, engine refinement, high price, poor quality interior materials & driving dynamics and running costs let the side down....big time. On the brighter side, the Sebring is comfortable and it has a 2.0 TDi 140bhp Volkswagen engine up front.

Chrysler's hopes to rival the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall/Opel Vectra, Toyota Avensis, Skoda Superb, Mazda6, Peugeot 407, Citroen C5, Volkswagen Passat and Honda Accord has fallen flat on it's face. At most, the Sebring can only rival budget family sedans like the Hyundai Sonata, Kia Magentis and Chevrolet Epica. Why? If Chrysler had paid more attention to the interior quality, driving dynamics and refinement, the Sebring would be a much better all-rounder.


The engine range kicks of with a 2.0 litre petrol, which is the fastest in the range. It is refined but plenty of revving is needed to get the best out of it and there's a lack of punch for overtaking. Mated to this engine is a 5 speed manual gearbox.

The flagship 2.4 litre petrol engine is mated to a 4 speed automatic. With 167bhp at its disposal, it's the most powerful Sebring but it's also the most uneconomical with a combined fuel economy figure of 32mpg.

Unsurprisingly, the most popular engine will be the 2.0 CRD which is linked to a 6 speed manual gearbox. This noisy unit, especially on start up offers strong in-gear performance. Although paper figures suggest 12 seconds are needed until it hits 62mph, it feels very quick and urgent in everyday driving. Combined fuel economy is quoted at 46mpg with CO2 emissions of 170g/km. Most rivals offer more power, refinement, better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions.


Out on faster roads, the Sebring is relatively comfortable, however, on bumpy roads the Sebring feels very unsettled and vibrations through the cabin are evident. The virtually non-existent feel from the steering makes for an extremely dull to drive on twisty roads. In addition, if you take a sharp corner, there is plenty of body roll, making the Sebring flounder.


On smooth, straight roads the Sebring ride quality is so-so. Another negative is the lack of refinement you get from its competitors. There's so much wind, road and engine noise at higher speeds that the Sebring is far from relaxing. While the seats are alittle firm, they are fairly comfortable on longer journeys. Front cabin space is good but it's in the rear your passengers will suffer. Despite measuring in excess of 4.8 metres, the Sebring feels poorly packaged. There's not much in the way of legroom and kneeroom for two adults, however, headroom is generous all-round.


Strangely, there is only one practical body-style on offer (the other is a convertible). The boot is fairly roomy at 441 litres, but the opening and the actual boot itself isn't particularly wide. Up front, you get a fold-flat front passenger's seat and at the back, you get 60:40 split-folding seats. One of the two compartments in the centre console storage bin has a power outlet. All doors have big pockets for maps and further items can be carried in a pocket at the back of the driver’s seat.


This is where the Sebring scores well. Despite only one trim-level available, you get wood/leather steering wheel w/ reach and rake adjustment, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, leather gear knob and seats, electrically adjustable driver's seat w/ heated front seats, ESP, front & rear fog lights, automatic headlamps, 18" alloy wheels, electrically adjustable heated mirrors, steering wheel mounted audio controls, x4 electric windows, x6 airbags, air conditioning and a heated/cooled front cupholder. Options include metallic paint and a sat nav.


With its pebble grain instrument panel, glossy tortoise-shell inserts and metallic strips, the interior of the Sebring looks very nice and different, however, the quality is awful and there are rough edges and evidence of a poor finish everywhere. Shallow windows and a thick side window pillar impair visibility.


Many of the Sebring's mechanicals and electrical components are shared with other Chrysler Group products and it has a reliable VW diesel engine under its bonnet, the Sebring is expected to offer decent reliability.


As a second hand buy, the Sebring makes more sense than new. It comes well equipped with air conditioning, electric seats and leather upholstery as standard but that's not enough to make up for the poor quality and finish. There aren't many around so at least makes a different choice from the normal family saloons.


Well laid out centre console
Unique exterior styling
Cheaper than rivals


Poor rear leg/knee room
Poor interior packaging
Only one trim-level
Limited options/accessories available

Thursday 12 July 2007

Trouble for BMW....

BMW engineers ran into a little trouble in the 128-degree desert heat, when one of its X6 prototypes appeared to become disabled on the shoulder of a desolate California road. As the preoccupied testers prepared to hook up a tow line to its X5 support vehicle, they accidentally left the prototype's rear hatch open, revealing the true shape of the X6's rear quarter panel pillars and tailgate thanks to a timely sequence of drive-by shots.
It is now completely clear exactly how much of the rear camouflage is simply a hard plastic shell. That is to say, most of it. This detail is particularly interesting on the X6, because BMW is applying an aggressive application of the four-door-coupe concept first seen on the Mercedes CLS, to the SUV genre. There have been a number of performance-minded SUVs on offer, but the X6 is taking a unique styling approach which appears to be the most form-over-function SUV design effort seen to date. The roof line begins arching downward after the B-pillar and continues plunging right to the X6's rising waistline. As a result, second-row headroom and rear cargo volume are both severely compromised as seen in the back seat interior photos.

Thanks to the heavy camouflage paneling, it's still hard to get a feel for the X6's overall design, it will take more than an open hatchback to do that. However, it will be interesting to see how BMW stylists can balance the design in a pleasing way, with the heavy SUV front and the slimmed down rear. We're not saying they can't, but we're curious how they're going to pull it off.
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