Sunday 30 September 2007

Pontiac G8 engineer almost dies

Pontiac's famous tagline is "We build excitement". What does it say about the new Pontiac G8 that yesterday morning an Australian engineer driving a test car fell asleep at the wheel and piloted it down a 100-foot embankment, striking a boulder and flipping the car end over end? Well, the Pontiac G8 will surely be one of the more exciting vehicles from the brand in recent memory when it goes on sale early next year, but apparently for the engineer, 41-year-old Rolf Glenk, it wasn't exciting enough to keep him awake. Glenk was the last in a convoy of G8s that were traveling on Highway 82 in Colorado yesterday morning when the accident happened. Being last in line, it was only after another engineer noticed their group was one short that Glenk and the totaled G8 were found flipped upside down at the bottom of an embankment. Glenk was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital and treated for minor injuries, while the G8 didn't so fare nearly as well. Glenk was also given a citation for careless driving.

Volkswagen Scirocco spy photos; captured in Germany

Volkswagen's forthcoming new Scirocco Coupe has been spotted again undergoing testing on Germany's Nurburgring, this time allowing our spy photographers to snap its stylish interior. A highly-anticipated successor to VW's Scirocco coupe of 1974 and based largely on the Iroc concept car shown at last year's Paris Motor Show, Volkswagen's new coupe will be as iconic as each of its inspirations.
Inheriting the majority of styling cues from its concept car predecessor, which incidentally draws on the Scirocco name for its own, it will be the outgoing Eos convertible which donates its powertrain and underpinnings. There are deviations from the concept car inside and out, although the cabin's twin pods for speedo and rev counter remain, much like the Eos-sourced and TT-inspired vents and switchgear. Exterior modifications extend only to the shifting of the rear exhausts to one side, while the coupe's sweeping profile, the Iroc's side crease and swept mirrors all stay for production. Heading up the range will be VW's new line-up of TSI turbocharged engines, kicking off with a 1.4-litre, 138 hp turbo and a 168 hp supercharged unit. Volkswagen's popular TDI engines will also feature, with the 168 hp 2.0-litre diesel spearheading the diesel range. A Golf GTI-inherited 2.0-litre engine, capable of generating 197 hp, will top the initial range, while a hot lightweight R20 version of the Scirocco with 230 hp is planned, despite all-wheel-drive and a V-alignment being ruled out over development costs and fuel consumption worries.

Prices and specifications are yet to be announced but expect the Scirocco to start at £20,000 in the UK, due to the omition of traditional 'entry-level' models.

Friday 28 September 2007

Acura on the Nurburgring

There has been quite a debate about this Japanese prototype lapping the Nurburgring racetrack. One person says its the 2008 Honda accord another says its the 2010 Acura TL. We think its the Acura TL.

The TL was first snapped undergoing hot-weather testing in Death Valley during nighttime.

The next Accord will come in a hatchback form and station wagon form but there is a new rumor about an upcoming Accord Coupé for Europe.

Under the hood there will be two petrol engines and a new 2.2 litre diesel engine. The oil burner gets Honda’s new NOx reduction technology for even cleaner running. The system uses ammonia in the catalytic converter which causes the NOx to change into harmless nitrogen, slightly different to Mercedes' Bluetec system. Also on the way is a new hybrid model - showcasing Honda's latest hybrid technology in a new package, rather than adapting an existing platform like today's Civic IMA.

Thursday 27 September 2007

BMW crosses into new territory

Our spies capture BMW's latest model this week in Munich undergoing initial road tests. Still heavily disguised, the BMW V series will be taking on the Mercedes R-Class which has not been met with great enthusiasm. BMW seems to have drawn their own conclusion from Mercedes' experience and have designed not so much a van-like car but rather a sportier and more luxurious middle class family hatchback.

The newcomer is based on the future 5 series platform which allows BMW to spread both production and development costs. Currently the project name is V-Series, but we expect a more fitting title for the car by the time it will make its first curtain call by the end of next year. Power is expected to come from 3.0 litre six-cylinder engines delivering 272 hp (petrol), 286 hp (twinturbo diesel) and 231 hp (turbo diesel). A top of the line model could be powered by the future direct-injection V8 delivering 420 hp.

Photos showing:

The V-Series testing in Munich
1 CGI based spy photo

Tuesday 25 September 2007

Hyundai i30 goes "green"

Hyundai is all set for the production of its new green version of i30 hatchback in January 2008. The low-emission version ships the 89bhp 1.6 litre diesel engine, which has been tailored from the 113bhp 1.6 liter diesel unit currently in the array.

The changes embrace detuning and an addition of a particulate filter over the standard car. The carbon emissions have been reduced from 125g/km to 119g/km. The green i30 will be placed in the B group for VED, which costs £35 a year.

It has been publicized that the business drivers will go down from 18% to 13% under new regulations, which cut tax for business drivers of diesels emitting less than 120g/km. This latest i30 would not apply the congestion charge under new proposals, at least in the near future.

The new model would be available for £13,000 with ESP, air conditioning, stability controls and alloy wheels as standard on all versions. The green version is also covered by the company’s five year unlimited mileage warranty. The outlay for the new i30 CRDi will be announced as soon as January next year, official launch date of the green version

Nissan X-Trail proves popular (JP)

The new Nissan X-Trail has proven itself to be a hot seller in Japan.

In the first month of its launch in Japan, the Japanese seem to have taken a good interest in the vehicle. 10,000 orders were booked in the first month.

Hyundai i20 undisguised

The Hyundai Getz is reaching the end of its life-cycle and Hyundai is working hard to replace it with the new i20 by the summer of 2008. We caught up with the new i20 in the Southern European mountains and although we only snapped a picture of a five-door prototype we do expect a 3-door version to follow in early 2009.

The Hyundai i20 will be positioned below the recently launched i30 which debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show and is destined to take on the VW Polo.

Power is expected to come from a variety of petrol engines ranging between 70 and 110 bhp and turbodiesel engines ranging between 88 and 110 bhp.

Friday 21 September 2007

Mercedes CLC; Clearest spy photos yet

One of our spy photographers caught the upcoming, all-new and almost undisguised Mercedes-Benz CLC out in the open in Southern Germany undergoing some road testing. The current model underwent a facelift in 2004 and is rapidly approaching its end of shelf life.

The Mercedes C-Class Sport Coupe almost got axed but thanks to new Daimler boss Zetsche the sport coupé has been revived and will be making it to the Mercedes-Benz range in 2008. The styling is completely new but the underpinnings are based on the current C-Class platform, just as it was in the previous generation too. The C-Sport Coupé will have to compete against some strong and established rivals, namely the BMW 1 Series Coupe and the Audi A3 amongst others.

Don't be fooled by the large rear lights either. As with the Mercedes C-Class wagon, Mercedes used fake tape to make the rear lights look bigger. We've clearly marked out on the second picture how the rear light cluster could look like

New Car: 2008 Fiat Grande Punto Abarth

The first of the new Abarths will be the Punto, as previewed at the Frankfurt motor show. It goes on sale in Italy later this month, in Switzerland before the end of 2007 and in the rest of Europe in 2008.

The souped-up supermini will come with a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-pot good for 153bhp and 152lb ft. With a standard six-speed manual gearbox, that's enough to push it to 62mph in 8.2sec, and on to 129mph. There's also a 'power boost' mode that increases torque to 170lb ft and makes the steering quicker. The brakes are uprated, with dual-piston Brembos up front.

Wider bodywork, along with new bumpers that provide enhanced cooling, house a 6mm wider track, and the slightly blistered arches house 17-inch alloys.

The car has been lowered by 10mm, 20 per cent stiffer springs are fitted and the anti-roll bar is now thicker.

ESP is standard, and can't be switched off. Fiat says that the car is aimed at young drivers who may well need a safety margin.

Inside you get Abarth Scorpion badges on the dash and new sports seats, a logo that's repeated on the outside of the car.

An even hotter Abarth:

If the standard Punto Abarth isn't hot enough for you, a Super Sport kit will be available as an aftermarket add-on from early 2008.

This will only be available through official Abarth service centres, up to a year after purchase, or after 20,000km (12,500 miles) on the road.

This pushes the power of the Punto Abarth to 178bhp and torque to 201lb ft. That cuts the 0-62mph sprint to 7.7sec and the top speed to 134mph.

The suspension gets even further lowered (20mm down in total), 18-inch wheels are fitted and the brakes further uprated, with perforated front discs and high-performance pads.

Naturally the SS also comes with stickers bearing the 'SS' logo and a chequered flag logo. That ought to make it look quicker, if nothing else.

Thursday 20 September 2007

New Car: 2008 Skoda Fabia Scout

Skoda is about to go exploring again. This is the Fabia Scout – a rugged version of the new Estate. As with the Octavia and Roomster Scout variants, it has protective body mouldings and a raised ride height. To that it adds a handy, fold-out rear ledge and a system of luggage straps in the boot. With more room than a Volvo V50 and chunky looks, it should prove popular when it goes on sale next year, priced from around £12,000.

New Car: 2008 Honda CR-V (JP)

Honda has revised the  CR-V for the JDM (Japanese Domestic Market).

Upgrades include new exterior paint colours, new seat fabrics and interior finishes.

New Chevrolet Traverse spy photos

Spying on preproduction prototypes isn't as easy as hiding in the bushes with a big zoom lens on your camera. Sometimes it requires standing in plain sight to get the best shots, a tactic that occasionally leads to some less-than-thrilled engineers.

Such has been the case with the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse, a new midsize crossover headed for Chevy dealers next fall. While shooting the bundled-up prototype in the triple-digit heat of Death Valley, California, our shooter narrowly missed becoming road kill after one engineer "went a little wide" coming out of a parking lot.

Thankfully, our shooter was undeterred, and recovered from the glancing blow quickly enough to catch the Chevrolet Traverse prototype as it drove away. And thanks to his heroic efforts, we can bring you the best shots yet of Chevrolet's upcoming crossover.

There are few surprises in store, as the Chevrolet Traverse is essentially the same crossover under the skin as the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook. The only significant difference you're likely to see is some revamped sheet metal, which blends the existing bodywork with some styling elements from the new 2008 Chevrolet Malibu.

It appears as though the Traverse will get a chevron-shaped grille similar to the Malibu. A large chrome bar splits through the middle, and we expect a big, gold Chevy bowtie sitting front and center. Although the headlights are fully shrouded in camouflage, we expect them to look similar to those used on the GMC Acadia, with a few unique details thrown in to make the Traverse more easily identifiable.

Shrouds over the taillights make it impossible to peg what kind of styling changes are in store for the rear end. We can only hope Chevrolet goes conservative and stays away from the glitzy aftermarket-style lenses featured by the current Chevrolet Equinox. Then again, the door handles for the Traverse are already chrome, so it could go either way.

GM did a good job of differentiating the cabins of the first three crossovers, but there's only so much that can be done the fourth time around, so don't expect a drastically different setup inside the Traverse. That's not such a bad thing, as the Buick, GMC and Saturn versions are all well laid out, with good, solid controls. Same goes for the drivetrain, as the Traverse will get a 3.6-liter V6 and six-speed automatic just like the others. Front- and all-wheel-drive versions will be offered too.

To see the final production version of the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse, you'll probably have to wait until at least the Los Angeles auto show in November, if not the Detroit auto show in January. By then, Chevrolet's engineers will have calmed down enough to let you take a good, hard look at their latest creation. Until then, you might want to keep your distance.

Sunday 16 September 2007

Peugeot 308 & 4007 in the UK

Peugeot couldn't wait to bring the new 308 over into the UK. As soon as it had its Frankfurt debut it went on sale across Western Europe immediately ahead of rest of Europe.

I saw this at my local Peugeot dealer whilst there was a launch party going on. Alongside the 308 was the 4007 mid-sized SUV.

In the car park there were 5 Peugeot 308's which were all 5 door hatchbacks and only 1 4007.

The 308 pictured above has a Cielo panoramic glass roof and it looks big despite being based off the 307 platform.

The 4007 stuck out like a sore thumb because of its face but the interior looked nice and the SUV looked big.

Car Review: 2007 Citroen C-Crosser 2.2 HDI 156bhp Exclusive

When the Citroen C-Crosser was given to us we were excited. Although this is the firms first proper SUV it turned out to be abit disappointing.

Despite being based off the Mitsubishi Outlander the 3rd row seats were cramped and small. The 3rd row is suitable for youngsters under 13. The 2nd row seating was average. There was fair amount of leg room, shoulder room and hip room. Sliding rear seats are standard on this SUV but we didn't know how they worked....

The cabin is surprisingly spacious and the drivers seat position was good. The cabin was rather dark and dull and the gearstick had black lettering making it hard to read the gears.

The C-Crosser is easy to get in and out of because it has slightly high ground clearance and the split tailgate makes the SUV very practical indeed.

There is no automatic transmission available and there are only 2 grades; VTR and Exclusive. Another downer is the price. Starting from £25,500 its more expensive than the Mitsubishi Outlander Elegance which starts at £24,000 which itself comes with a satellite navigation system, electric seats and leather seats unlike the entry-level C-Crosser.

If your after fuel economy then don't opt for this model. The Mitsubishi Outlander is more cleaner and efficient. The 5 seater Outlander pollutes 174g/km and combines 42mpg and the 7 seater pollutes 183g/km and manages 40mpg combined. The C-Crosser does 38mpg combined and pumps out 194g/km which according to Citroen is one of the lowest in its class.


Quirky styling, good driving position, practicality


Expensive, no auto option, high emissions, dull interior

Saturday 15 September 2007

New Car: 2008 Renault Kangoo

On its launch in 1997 Kangoo's affable, expressive style revolutionised the leisure utility vehicle sector. Roomy and versatile Kangoo has been a success, selling over 2,200,000 units since it was launched.

New Kangoo matches family expectations more closely. It draws on Kangoo fundamentals, turning them into an optimised blend of quality, comfort, and practicality. At 4,213mm in length, New Kangoo's resolutely contemporary, affable, cheery lines exert a strong appeal. Its short, chunky front end frees up space for the bright, airy passenger cabin, which is further enhanced by its steeply-raked MPV-style windscreen. Some versions have pop-open windows, and others have electric ones. They all have large doors which open onto a comprehensively reworked interior.

New Kangoo emphasizes well-being and ride comfort:

For improved ride pleasure, a number of features have been upgraded. With its outstanding roominess, New Kangoo has put the onus on space and the shared ride experience. It is 180mm longer than its predecessor and that extra length has been lavished on the cabin, where more volume gives the five occupants more room and more comfort!

Resolutely contemporary and featuring a more ergonomic design, the dashboard resembles an MPV's, while the cabin has been refitted and finished with quality materials. New Kangoo boasts standards of thermal and acoustic comfort worthy of an MPV. Some versions feature automatic climate control. Air is evenly distributed at both front and rear thanks to the design of the circuit, which has outlets at each passenger's feet. To ensure acoustic comfort, engineers have used the same techniques as for the rest of the range.

New Kangoo takes an ingenious approach to modularity:

With its practical design dedicated to the pursuit of leisure, it brings to the segment a novel touch of ergonomic design, roominess, and user-friendliness. Its 60:40 split fold rear bench folds down easily in one fell swoop to form a flat load space. On some versions the front passenger seat can fold down in the same way, Payload can thus be boosted from 660 litres to 2,866 litres.
What's more, in this configuration the vehicle can carry objects that are 2.5m long. New Kangoo's interior boasts up to 77 litres of stowage space, which includes 24 litres in handy aircraft-style stowage compartments for the rear passengers. It also debuts innovative longitudinal roof bars that convert into a luggage rack. No tools are needed and the rack can take loads of up to 80kg.

Developed from a C-segment platform that is acknowledged for its dynamic quality, comfort, and safety, New Kangoo offers features hitherto unprecedented in the leisure utility vehicle segment. Its 2,697-mm wheelbase lends it sound, balanced, secure handling. Its active and passive safety equipment is identical to that of a family saloon. All versions are equipped with the latest-generation ABS and Emergency Brake Assist, while some feature ESP with understeer control, ASR traction control, and engine torque overrun regulation functions.For the safety of its occupants, New Kangoo benefits from state-of-the-art driver assistance systems, most of which originate in the segments above. They include cruise control/speed limiter, automatic headlamp actuation, and wipers with automatic rain sensors, none of which was available on the previous model. New Kangoo also has between two and six airbags, seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters, and anti-submarining humps in the front and back seats, as well as three seats with Isofix anchorage points (depending on the version).

New Car: 2008 Dacia Logan Hatchback/Renault Sandero (Brazil)

When I first saw the official pictures of the new Dacia Logan Hatchback I was surprised (in a good way). Although its unlikely to come to the UK it looks great compared to the Fiat Palio & Volkswagen Gol (South America). This is Renault/Dacia's answer to the Volkswagen Gol and Fiat Palio.

Although its measuring at 4.2 metres in length it has a small wheelbase 2.59 metres. The interior is very European orientated alongside the exterior. This will slot below the Renault Megane but above the Renault Clio in the European market.
Engines for Europe:

1.0 16v
1.6 8v
1.6 16v flex-fuel engines

Diesel engines are very likely for Europe.

Engines for Brazil:

1.0 12V 60 HP (Flexi Fuel)
1.6 16V 105 HP (Flexi Fuel)
1.5 dCi 70HP/86 HP

New Car: 2008 Dacia Logan Pick-Up

Only 6 days ago we brought you the first spy photos of the upcoming Dacia Logan Pick-up ute. These are the first official photos.

There will only be 2 engines; one diesel and one petrol; 1.5 dCi which develops 70bhp and a 1.6 16v which will develop 90bhp.

Sales are starting early 2008 in Romania with poissbile British sales starting in late 2008/early 2009.

Sunday 9 September 2007

Concept Car: Renault Laguna Coupé

The launch of the third-generation Laguna creeps ever closer and with less than a week before the Frankfurt Show reveals the cars supposed to have been kept under wraps until their official unveiling. The Laguna saloon and estate models make their world premiere at Frankfurt next week but these photos of its fellow Renault stand star have surfaced ahead of its debut, revealing Renault's Laguna Coupe Concept. Essentially a near-production version of the Laguna Coupe, the new car is speculated to enter the market in the second half of 2008.

Renault have made it no secret that the new-generation Laguna is firmly footing itself in a new league of design and build quality, and the Coupe is sure to reaffirm this new direction. Inspired perhaps by the 2004 Fluence Concept, the Coupe Concept further enhances the lines of the Laguna, making them more elongated and mated to the car's external features. New lights front and rear may stay for production to distance slightly from saloon and estate models, signalling a shift upmarket. The concept car's interior is an aesthetically-pleasing two-tonal delight, however the transplant of the new Laguna's interior into the Coupe is what will see production.

Based, naturally, on the new Laguna platform, the Laguna Coupe Concept is likely to be powered by an economical, green engine - perhaps even a hybrid system - in line with a number of unveilings featuring greener drivetrains. In production form, expect a more limited range of engines than the saloon and estate ranges, with the inclusion of 2.0-litre diesel and petrol 4-cylinder powerplants being likely. A range-topping 3.5-litre V6 model can also be expected, with all models offering the choice of a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox.
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