Wednesday 31 October 2007

New Car: 2009 Toyota Matrix

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., unveiled the all-new second-generation Corolla Matrix at a press conference today at the 2007 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show. The Toyota Matrix, the sporty five-door vehicle that helped redefine the concept of a crossover utility vehicle, has been redesigned for the 2009 model year to offer performance that matters for driver enjoyment.

"The Matrix concept was based on blending the functionality of an SUV, the style, image and performance of a sports car with the affordability of a subcompact sedan," said Tim Morrison, Toyota Division corporate marketing manager. "For 2009, it’s all that, and more. It may have the body of a five-door hatch, but it comes with the soul of a two-door sports car." Development of the 2009 Matrix focused on greater exterior coupe-like styling with enhanced interior utility and improved dynamic performance. It was made wider with a lower stance than the current model while maintaining its interior space. The result is a sporty, dynamic shape that contains room for five people to ride in comfort. As a result of significant changes to the Matrix’s profile, the theme is flowing and dynamic. The design expresses a low center of gravity, and coupe-like style with a fun-to-drive image. From the rear, the Matrix has rounded rear windows and continuous character lines that run from the front grille to the A-pillar. Matrix will be available in three grades – Standard S and the XRS. And Matrix will offer the option of all-wheel drive (AWD) with the S grade. The S and XRS models integrate a front underbody spoiler with a large mesh fog lamp bezel and rear underbody spoiler. A rear deck spoiler will be standard for all XRS models.The Matrix interior is completely redesigned to enhance driving enjoyment, comfort and utility. Seats have been redesigned to accommodate the vehicle’s new lower profile while maintaining the expected high comfort levels, and seat positions were lowered slightly to maintain appropriate headroom. As a result, cabin space remains equal to that of the previous Matrix. A new three-spoke steering wheel enhances the rest of the new Matrix interior. XRS models come standard with a leather-trimmed steering wheel that also includes spoke-mounted audio controls and hands-free Bluetooth® capability when equipped.

The driver and front passenger are treated to comfortable new sport seats, with seat-mounted side airbags. A fold-down seatback table will be available for the front passenger’s seat, enhancing interior utility on S and XRS. A movable and removable cup support element for the front center console helps provide versatile storage area and convenience. The cup holder area can be used as a tray when the divider is removed. For rear-seat passengers, expanded front-to-back couple distance helps to provide additional room and comfort. A folding seat with a 60/40 split includes a middle-seat headrest for the fifth passenger. The Matrix is equipped with a new, high-efficiency air-conditioning system with larger vents for directional accuracy and offers reduced power consumption and improved heating and cooling. The 2009 Matrix offers the choice of two different engines, a five-speed manual transmission, and either four- or five-speed automatic transmissions. A 16-valve, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine will produce 132 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 128 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,400 rpm. The engine will feature Dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing with intelligence) on both the intake and exhaust camshafts that helps it achieve outstanding performance and economy.

Estimated EPA fuel economy ratings are 26/32 city/highway mpg for manual transmission models and 25/31 for the automatic transmission model powered by a 1.8-litre engine. For those who crave just a bit more horsepower and torque, the Matrix offers a 16-valve DOHC 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with VVT-i that will produce 158 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 162 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. Matrix models powered by the 2.4-litre engine with five-speed automatic transmission will have an estimated EPA fuel economy of 21/29 city/highway mpg.The Matrix’s base wheel is a 16-inch steel unit with a six-spoke full wheel cover. A distinctive 17-inch five-spoke aluminum wheel will be available for the S grade, and an 18-inch aluminum alloy wheel with a twin five-spoke design will come standard on the XRS grade. Dual-stage SRS airbags will be standard for the driver and front passenger. Front seat-mounted side airbags, two-row side curtain airbags and front active headrests are also standard. Brake performance will be improved with standard front and rear disc brakes on all Matrix grades. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) are also standard. Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) with TRAC and off switch will be standard on XRS and available as an option on all other models. VSC automatically adjusts engine output and the vehicle’s braking force at each wheel when the vehicle experiences a loss of traction during cornering. Form, fun and functionality will be in abundance with an array of standard convenience features across all three grades. Base equipment on all Matrix models include power color-keyed outside rearview mirrors, power steering, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, daytime running lights, heavy duty rear window defogger, intermittent windshield wipers, 12-volt power outlet, four cupholders, auxiliary audio input jack, front center console box and an engine immobiliser.

The S grade adds standard power door locks and windows with one-touch down driver-side, 115-volt power outlet, cruise control, intermittent rear window wiper, fold-flat front passenger seat, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD with MP3 capability and six speakers, front and rear underbody spoilers and fog lamps.In addition to these features, the XRS grade features standard P215/45 R18 tires on 18-inch alloy wheels, sport strut tower brace, VSC with TRAC and off switch, and a three-spoke leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio steering wheel controls. In addition to the array of standard equipment, an impressive list of optional comfort and utility features are available to further enhance the Matrix driving experience. Available options will include an AM/FM/CD with six-speaker system with DVD navigation with XM NavTraffic® capability, alloy wheels, power heated outside rearview mirror, intermittent rear window wiper, cruise control, power door locks, power windows, and remote keyless entry.

The all-new Matrix will hit Toyota dealerships in February 2008.

New Car: 2008 Hyundai i10

Sticking with Hyundai, you’re looking at their brand new answer to the Citroen C1, Toyota Aygo, Fiat Panda and Peugeot 107; the Hyundai i10 which launches next March,with a starting price of less than £6500.

If you’re noticing a passing resemblance to the Kia Picanto, you’re not mistaken. Just as the Hyundai i30 hatch and the Kia Cee’d share a platform, this new i10 shares many mechanicals with the Kia Picanto city car. However, the new Hyundai is 10mm longer between the wheels than the Kia, and 70mm longer overall.

The i10 will be built in Hyundai’s assembly plant in Chenni, India, where its predecessor, the Amica, was made. It shares its 1.1-litre, 65bhp engine with the Picanto, but for this application, emissions of CO2 have been trimmed to 119g/km in order to qualify for the second-lowest VED car tax rate.

The Hyundai i10 will stand out from the class with its impressive cabin quality and generous levels of standard equipment. It’ll be the first car in the A-segment to get air conditioning as standard, electric front windows, central locking, electric power steering, tinted glass, 14in alloy wheels, body-coloured bumpers and a six-speaker CD player also come on every car.

Concept Car: Hyundai Genesis Coupé

The name is perhaps a giveaway as to the mechanicals underneath the sexy skin: Hyundai Genesis Coupe.

The new two-door is being publicly unveiled as a concept in mid-November at the Los Angeles auto show.

Hyundai has released almost no details on the concept, other than to say it "hints at a design direction for a future rear-wheel-drive sport coupe." However, the use of the name Genesis, which first appeared earlier this year on a concept sedan suggests the sedan and the coupe will share major mechanical components, including a new rear-wheel-drive chassis.

The production version of the Genesis sedan is expected to hit U.S. showrooms in the first half of next year. The production Genesis coupe should follow in late 2008 as a successor to but not a direct replacement for, the current front-drive Tiburon.

Hyundai Genesis bigger brother; i70/VI

Codenamed BHL, Hyundai has begun testing a long-wheel-base luxury sedan based on the upcoming and much anticipated rear-wheel-drive Genesis. Sources are referring to this luxury sedan as the i70, but the name is not yet confirmed.

It's unclear if the car will be marketed as a distinct model from the Genesis or if it will be sold as a LWB (long-wheel-base) variant. The size of the car is also a bit of a mystery. The Genesis is thought to be the size of a BMW 5-Series or Mercedes E-Class, so it's fair to assume this model will lie somewhere between those dimensions and the BMW 7-Series or Mercedes S-Class.

Sources also say it will be offered as a V8 model only and will be even more prestigious than the Genesis. As Hyundai is using Cadillac and Lexus as benchmarks, expect high-tech gizmos as well as many other luxury amenities.

The i70/VI should arrive in dealerships about a year after the Genesis but that’s not all: the BH rear-drive platform will also spawn a coupe/cabriolet for the 2010 model year.

Although the i70/VI (codenamed BHL) is testing in Germany, its unlikely that the sedan will be marketed on the European market due to the slow-selling Grandeur (Azera in U.S) which sold less than 500 units last year.

Tuesday 30 October 2007

Nissan Murano spied!

It’s set for an official debut in about two weeks at the L.A. auto show, but here’s an early peek at the 2009 Nissan Murano. We weren’t expecting big changes from Nissan’s midsize crossover and this prototype doesn’t appear that far removed from the current model. The overall shape and size is the same as the current model and even the wheels look familiar. Expect to see bigger changes on the inside as the Murano’s interior has been one of its weak points for years now.

5 door Volvo C30?

Volvo is considering expanding the C30 range by adding a five-door hatchback variant to join the current three-door. The C30 is based on the same P1 platform that underlies the larger S40 and V50 models so building an extended version of the C30 hatch would be straight forward.

Such a vehicle would give Volvo’s sales a much needed boost but officials are yet to confirm it for production. Volvo senior vice president of R&D Magnus Jonsson told Automotive News that a “five-door would be less exciting from a design perspective” but would be crucial in helping Volvo expand sales.

Current sales of the three-door C30 has been exceeding initial expectations in most markets and if the cars outsell their allocations then management would have very little reason not to proceed with the launch of another variant.

Volvo’s senior vice president of brand, business and product strategy, Lex Kerssemakers, also acknowledged that a five-door model is under consideration but wasn’t willing to give a time frame for its release.

Volkswagen Tiguan pricing (UK)

VW has released prices for its new entry-level Tiguan SUV. The 1.4-litre TSI will cost £19,450 when it arrives in Feburary next year. Buyers also get the option of a 138bhp 2.0 TDI diesel and, later next year, a 167bhp 2.0 TDI. Three levels of trim will be available - S, SE, and Sport - all featuring a choice of 6 speed manual or automatic Tiptronic gearboxes.

At the top of the range is the £23,750 2.0TDI Sport. This will be available with the hi-tech Park Assist system first showcased on the Touran MPV. Complex electrononics mean the car will steer itself into a space, while the driver simply operates the brake and throttle.

Buyers wanting to tackle more than the urban jungle can choose the rugged Escape trim. With a shorter nose, hill decent control and a sump guard it promised to be tougher in the rough stuff.

Prices for this hardcore model start at £22,050.

Sunday 28 October 2007

Nissan Qashqai travels over 800 miles on 1 tank of diesel

How far could you imagine driving your Nissan Qashqai on one tank of fuel? Well, believe it or not, you can cover the entire length of the UK and more if you drive economically.

Seven test drivers from the Nissan Technical Centre Europe (NTCE) in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, proved this recently when they took turns piloting a 1.5dCI Qashqai from Land’s End on the southwest coast of England to John O’Groats on the northern tip of Scotland without once stopping to refuel.

The drivers, who set off at 6 am averaged 67.35 mpg (4.2 l/100 km) on the 867 mile (1,387 km) run which is a common route for UK endurance and economy tests. To their delight ,there was still another seven litres of fuel left in the tank when they crossed the finish line at 17:30 the next day, enough to cover a further 110 miles.

The 67.35 mpg achieved on the trip is equivalent to a 29% saving over the quoted brochure figure of 52.3 mpg (combined urban and extra urban driving average). If a customer travels 10,000 miles (16,000 km) per year, the saving would equate to £193 (278 euros) per year, based on current UK fuel prices.

To make sure that the average customer would be able to replicate NTCE’s economy run, the team used a standard Qashqai production model. Speed limits were adhered to on minor roads and a cruising speed of approximately 60 mph (96 kph) was used on motorways. Just like during normal customer usage, the test-drivers used cruise control, headlights and air-conditioning when required.

During the run, Qashqai averaged 111 g/km of CO2, compared with the quoted brochure figure of 145 g/km. To offset the CO2 emitted, NTCE plans to contribute to a carbon neutral tree planting scheme.

The Europe designed and built Qashqai went on sale in early 2007 in Europe and has since sold more than 70,000 units. The car is also available in Japan where it is sold as Dualis.

Electric cars in China sell slow

In France, nearly 80 percent of electricity is produced by nuclear stations. There if we tend to use electric cars replacing fossil fuel cars, we get a clear reduction in the emission of CO2.

However, this doesn’t make any sense in China. They make electricity by burning coal which is the biggest contributor to the air pollution.

Toyota is one of the largest companies that started pushing hybrid vehicles in the market and is one of the first to mass commercially produce such vehicles, an example being the main Toyota Prius. But, the news is that the automaker is saying that these electric vehicles would not help reducing CO2 emissions in China.

Toyota has initiated plug-in hybrids in partnership with EDF in France, which is based on Fuel Cell stack technology for which the company believes a lot of issues are to be resolved to make this a mass technology, both in infrastructure and in vehicles.

Tatehito Ueda, a managing officer at Toyota revealed that improved fuel economy by reduced running resistance, or friction, and an improved power train can slash emissions. Software can help make mechanical actions more defined and ease fuel consumption.

FIAT 500 production expands to 190,000 units

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has announced that production of the Fiat 500 will be raised to 190,000 units per annum, beginning next year. The production plan is a direct attempt to cope-up with colossal demand for Europe’s most exhilarating new city car.

The automaker made the surprise announcement during the Investor Conference Call that pursued announcement of the Fiat Group’s third quarter results, where the Italian firm turned in its eleventh consecutive quarter of growth with a record trading profit of 745 million euros.

Around 24,000 units of the car had been sold by the end of last month and the order book now stands at 90,000 units. The production for this year will be in the region of 50,000 to 60,000 units.

Fiat 500 was launched on 4th July during a glamorous event in Turin and so far has been launched in just two European markets, Italy and France. The orders in these countries combined are now running at an staggering 800 units per day.

Under the original plan, Fiat proposed annual production of 120,000-140,000 units depending on customer demand, which was further raised to 150,000 units. Work is now in progress at the Tychy factory in Poland to increase production upto 190,000 units per annum.

Marchionne made it clear that production of the Panda model, as well as the forthcoming Ford Ka, which is mutually developed with the 500 will not be affected.

He said "We are just starting in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland. In 2009, the capacity will be 190,000 if and when this is required"

The 500 has just gone on sale across Europe except from the UK, were it will arrive in January 2008

Will Nissan sell $2,500 car in international markets?

A Nissan priced at $2,500 that enters the Indian car market in 2010 could make its way into international markets, confirms Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn in an interview at the Tokyo Show.
Speaking to a small group of reporters in Tokyo, Ghosn raised what he sees as the big question; whether the car to be sold in India could succeed outside of the developing Indian market, being exported into mature markets chiefly Europe, the US, Canada and Japan. The answer is Nissan don't know, citing the lack of data as a lingering question over exportation.

The new ultra-low-priced vehicle is destined to take on Tata's $2,500 car on home soil, the new Tata entering the Indian market in 2008. Ghosn confirmed that he has not signed off on using Indian motorcylcle manufacturer Bajaj Auto Ltd. to produce the new vehicle - a meeting with Bajaj executives to take place on Monday over the prospect of a collaboration.

The Nissan CEO said that frugal thinking was needed on the project, adding: “You don’t need anything in the car that is not needed by customers.” However it was acknowledged that for entry into worldwide markets, a number of changes would be neccessary. Western market regulations would neccessitate the addition of further features, such as those for meeting crash safety requirements.

Ghosn did however add that Nissan may still be able to offer the car for "around $3,000," despite the enhancements. It's all now just wishful thinking but if it can be done successfully, Nissan'll have a winner on their hands.

The Nissan Cube, pictured above is a 5 and 7-seater compact car sold in the Japanese market, which may form the conceptual if not technical basis for India's $2,500 car.

Thursday 25 October 2007

Mercedes CLS facelift snapped

The current Mercedes CLS has been on the market since 2004 and is due for a facelift. Earlier on today, our spy photographers caught a glimpse of the redesigned four door coupe on the streets of Stuttgart, Germany.

The new front grille is clearly visible through the black paint and shows us two chrome bars similar to the current model which had 4 chrome bars. The rear end seems to be receiving new taillights and a new bumper but more on that when some of the covers are shed. The exhaust tips receive a minor styling change too with a less oval shape and more rectangular.

The facelifted CLS will be marketed as a 2008 model year.

The biggest CLS market is the U.S accounting for 40% of the overall sales followed by Australia which accounts for 20% along with Germany. The best selling CLS model in Australia was the CLS 350 follwed by CLS500 then CLS 55 AMG.

Wednesday 24 October 2007

Hyundai iX55 coming to Europe (aka Hyundai VeraCruz)

Going along with Hyundai's "i" prefix, the VeraCruz as it is known in certain markets could be named iX55 in Europe.

Hyundai is thinking of selling around 5000 units a year but if there is a strong demand for it, sales figure will rise. To power this SUV will be a 3.0 litre V6 diesel that will produce 240bhp.

Size wise, the new iX55 will be longer than the Lexus RX by approximately 6 - 9 inches. The iX55 will replace the aging Terracan (which means "cockroach" in Russian)

Prices are expected to start around 45,000 euros. If it makes it to the UK, expect prices to start from £25,000 to £30,000.

Sticking with Hyundai and KIA, the Mesa (HM) SUV could make it into the UK providing there is a positive response to it. The 7 seat SUV will be powered by a 3.0 litre V6 that will be used in the iX55.

Diesel powered Civic Type-R?

According to our Japanese sources, Honda is scheming a diesel-powered Civic Type-R said the company's top powertrain engineer, Kenichi Nagahiro.

"As long as it is in keeping with the Type-R brand we will do it." he told us. "But high revving has to be part of it and that's what we're working on."

A Civic Type-R D is most likely to be powered by the most powerful version of next year's new 2.2-litre diesel which will be launched in the new Accord. It's likely to have at least 180bhp and 320lb ft of torque.

Concept Car: Volkswagen Space Up!

This long-wheelbase micro mini-van will go into production as part of a new three-model city car range from Volkswagen. Previewed as the Space Up! concept at this week’s Tokyo motor show, it’s taller and longer than the Up! The new micro mini-van will seat 4 people in comfort.

VW said that development work has already begun on the production models that will be resulting from the concept cars with the first vehicles due on sale in 2010. They will all use a rear-engined platform with petrol, diesel and hybrid powertrains.

Measuring at 3680mm long, the Space Up! is 230mm longer than the two-door model and has a longer wheelbase but it’s still shorter than the Fox, the smallest car VW makes. VW describes it as a van but it has two rear seats, which fold, swivel and can be removed to create up to 1005 litres of luggage space.

It’s likely that the production Up! will use a seat foam that moulds itself to the occupant’s shape, while the car’s interior and touchscreen monitor will also make production. The rear hatch has been replaced by van-style split rear doors.

VW hasn’t finished with city car concepts just yet, the third and final concept will be at the Los Angeles motor show in November.

Tuesday 23 October 2007

BMW sheds disguise on 2009 Z4

Fake plastic panels are still abundant on the car but the grille and front bumper are somewhat visible a thin layer of black tape. The new BMW Z4 will be to some extent larger than the current generation Z4 and will sit on the new 3 Series chassis with most of the additional size on this prototype still recognised to the false camouflage panels. It seems probable that the new 3.0 litre inline six will find its way into the Z4 since it is already in the new 3 Series.

Production of the current Z4 takes place in South Carolina in the Spartanburg plant but the new Z4 is expected to be built in Germany at the Regensburg plant starting in the end of 2009.BMW had us fooled earlier this year.

The first Z4 prototypes were caught on the streets of Munich wearing traditional soft tops that gave us no reason to suspect any major changes. Now, however it appears that those canvas-trimmed roofs were nothing but placeholders for a more complicated retractable roof system still in development. The latest prototypes spotted on the Nürburgring have tops that appear more robust. More important, these cars have cutlines in the rear deck that suggest a reconfigured trunk section similar to the 2007 BMW 3 Series hardtop convertible. Adding the new top would put the Z4 in more direct competition with the Mercedes-Benz SLK, which has featured a retractable hardtop since its introduction in 1998.

This Z4 will also benefit from a choice of more powerful engines, a new chassis and a slightly larger size. Although the prototypes appear significantly bigger than the current model, most of the extra bulk is part of the disguise. Our spies noted as much as 2-3 inches of dead space between the plastic panels and the actual bodywork.

Monday 22 October 2007

Suzuki Alto makes a comeback

The Suzuki Alto is on the comeback path. The brand will preview a close to production-ready replace­ment for its city car at the Geneva Motor Show in March and the finished model is planned to arrive in the UK by the end of 2008.

Bosses have yet to confirm what it will be called but sources inside the Japanese firm say that it’s likely to keep the Alto badge.

It will be based on an all-new Suzuki platform and will feature six airbags as standard. Three engines will be offered, including the three-cylinder 1.0-litre from the Splash. It emits 124g/km of CO2 in the Splash but less than 120g/km in the Alto replacement. Other options include a more powerful 1.2-litre petrol unit and a small-capacity diesel.

The newcomer will firstly be offered as a five-door hatchback but a sporty three-door will join the line-up in 2009. Prices are likely to start from roughly £7,000

Saturday 20 October 2007

Audi A1 Metroproject Quattro debuts at Tokyo

The Audi Metroproject Quattro concept is believed to be the first version of the Audi A1.In an earlier interview, Audi Technical Development chief Michael Dick said the A1 would be "manlier and sportier" than the MINI Cooper and he was right. This car has a smooth, attractive front-end that seems to form a intimidating grin and rear tail-lights that virtually ogle down trailing motorists. This car rides on elegant, lightweight, ten-spoke wheels. Inside the cabin, the Metroproject has remarkably clean lines, what appears to be paddle shifters behind the steering wheel and a built-in MP3 player. On top of everything else, you can apparently keep track of this car's status on your mobile phone!

The Audi Metroproject Quattro has a battery pack in visibly mounted in the boot and lit in soothing blue lights with a charge indicator on the side. We had heard rumor that this concept would be a hybrid and it certainly seems that way.

The A1 should be offered with a turbocharged gas engine, turbocharged diesel engine ranging in size from 1.2 litres to 2.0 litres. A base model with an 80 horsepower, naturally aspirated 1.4 litre engine is also expected to hit showroom floors.

With a base price at or below $25,500, Audi hopes their MINI-killer will sell between 80,000 and 100,000 units per year. Audi has done a great job with the design of this car, that sales of the Fiat 500 might also be affected. Although formerly expected at the Frankfurt show last September, the Audi Metroproject Quattro concept will be exposed to the public in person at 10:30 am Tokyo time on October 24th, at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show. Production on the Audi A1 is planned for 2009.

Dick also said, "When a father sits gladly in his daughter's car, then we've got it spot on."Congratulations, Mr. Dick. We think you have it spot on.

Kia ECO Cee'd set for production in 2009

Production of ‘eco’ cee’d models planned from December 2008

Significantly reduced fuel consumption and lowered emissions

Will meet Euro5 emissions more than two years before requirement

Retains best-in-class 7-Years Warranty and EuroNCAP 5-Star rating

Aerodynamic enhancements cut drag to Cd 0.29:

The impressive performance, fuel economy and emissions figures of the concept car were largely the result of improved aerodynamics which brought the drag coefficient down from Cd 0.33 to just Cd 0.29, representing a significant improvement of 11%. Following extensive wind-tunnel testing, Kia engineers lowered the concept’s suspension, fitted under-floor coverings to the front, middle and rear of the vehicle, adopted wheel arch linings with ‘spoiler’ lips to smooth airflow around the wheels, plus a low-drag front grille to improve air flow over the vehicle. Finally, ultra-low rolling resistance Michelin tyres were mounted on special 17-inch alloy wheels that generate minimum disturbance to the airflow along the sides of the car.

Euro5 emissions, enhanced electronics and reduced engine friction:

Engines for the ‘eco’ cee’d models will already comply with the Euro5 emissions regulations which come into force in January 2011. Engine changes which will transfer to the ‘eco’ cee’d range from the concept car include measures to maximise fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, such as reduced turbo boost pressure (diesel models), enhanced fuel injection timing, modified residual gas rates and reductions in internal engine friction.

New ISG (Idle Stop&Go) system:

To maximise the value of the aerodynamic and powertrain improvements, the new ‘eco’ cee’d models will be fitted with Kia’s new ISG (Idle Stop&Go) system, including Smart battery Power Management. This system has regenerative braking, which automatically recharges the battery during deceleration, and switches the engine off when the car is stopped and the engine is at idle, dramatically cutting both fuel consumption and emissions during typical stop-start city driving.

More gears, lower revs, lower consumption:

All the new ‘eco’ cee’d’ models will be fitted with a new six-speed manual gearbox instead of the five-speed used on standard cars. Higher ratios for fourth, fifth and sixth gears will improve fuel consumption at motorway speeds. First, second and third gears retain the standard ratios to ensure that the dynamic performance of the standard car accelerating from standstill is carried over. To further guarantee that the ‘eco’ cee’d models’ engines and transmissions are always operating at high efficiency, an ECU-controlled ‘Shift Indicator’ will be fitted in the instrument cluster. This displays the optimum gear choice for the speed at which the car is travelling, and indicates the ideal moment (based on road speed and engine speed) at which to change gear.

Customer choices for a greener future:

The new ‘eco’ cee’d product line-up will include all three regular cee’d body styles – five-door, three-door and wagon – to continue Kia’s policy of maximising customer choice. All ‘eco’ cee’d models will retain the standard cee’d electric power steering, fully independent suspension and all-disc braking system, so the ‘eco-friendly’ cars will be just as much fun to drive as the regular models.

Friday 19 October 2007

2008 Hyundai i10 facelift; Undisguised

We recently published some spy photos of the upcoming Hyundai i10 which was caught wearing heavy disguise and now we have it captured naked in India where it will be made.

2008 Hyundai i10 facelift

Thursday 18 October 2007

New Car: 2008 Citroen C5

These are the first official pictures of the all-new Citroen C5, which arrives in 2008.

Even so, we reckon that the new C5's got just enough Gallic flair to set it apart, and it's a good-looking machine. This time, the C5 comes in both estate and saloon forms, the latter with a concave rear window – a real Citroen feature. There's no hatch, whereas the previous model came as an estate or a hatch that looked not unlike a saloon.

Coil springs or hydropneumatics:

In a big departure for Citroen, the C5 will be available with 'normal' coil-spring suspension, though the company's trademark Hydractive hydropneumatic suspesnsion will be an option. The entry level models will come with coil suspension, and the posher models with hydropneumatic. With a push for more fleet sales, Citroen reckons on a 50:50 split of sales between the versions.

Both coil-sprung (double wishbones up front, multi-link at the rear) and Hydractive cars are based on Citroen's Platform 3 – also used in the Peugeot 407 and the C6 saloon. Citroen says the new car is 70kg heavier than the current C5.

It's a big car:

The C5 saloon is 4.78m long, 1.86m wide and 1.45m tall, and sits on a 2.82m wheelbase. The estate is the same width, but 4.83m long and 1.48m tall.

Expect interior space to be excellent. There are few quirky Citroen touches in the smart-looking cabin, though the dials have "annular needles", said to have been influenced by the instruments in aeroplanes. That means that the needles run around the outside of the dials, leaving the inside clear for digital displays.

Economy, frugality, exclusivity:

A total of seven engines will be available; three petrols and four diesels.The petrols are 123bhp 1.8 or 138bhp 2.0 four-pots, and a 208bhp 3.0-litre V6.

Diesels are a 107bhp 1.6, a 134bhp 2.0, a 168bhp 2.2 and a 205bhp 2.7-litre V6.

They will be available with a range of five and six-speed manual gearboxes, a six-speed auto for the V6 diesel and a six-speed sequential manual 'box.

There will be three trim levels: Harmonie, Caractere and Exclusive. All models get standard cruise control and electric parking brakes. Options include xenon lights, massage seats and Citroen's next-generation NaviDrive sat-nav.

Front, front side, curtain and driver's knee airbags are standard, and rear side airbags are optional.

The saloon goes on sale in the UK in late May 2008, and the estate follows in August. Expect prices to start at around £15,500.

The new C5 will be competing against the Ford Mondeo, Renault Laguna, Mazda6, Vauxhall/Opel Vectra, Honda Accord, Toyota Avensis and the Volkswagen Passat

New Car: 2008 Honda Fit (JDM)

The new Fit will go on sale in Japan on Friday, October 26, 2007. The Fit has gained popularity as a small car that features outstanding packaging, excellent fuel economy, and advanced styling.

The second-generation Fit was developed following the tradition of Honda’s man maximum, machine minimum concept with the goal of creating the ideal small car for a new age. To provide values which exceed customer expectations for a small car and to set a new benchmark in the highly competitive small car segment, packaging, utility and driving performance have been further advanced with the all-new Fit.

The packaging of the new Fit is based on Honda’s innovative center tank layout, with a longer wheelbase and wider track for enhanced interior space and practicality, combined with the small-car maneuverability of a 4.7-metre minimum turning radius. The front pillar has been moved forward to create a spacious interior, while the exterior boasts exhilarating styling. An ingenious interior layout helped create a comfortable cabin with space equivalent to a mid-sized sedan. The new Fit’s practicality has also been enhanced with four-mode “Ultra Seat” and three-mode “Ultra Luggage” storage spaces.

The new Fit’s dynamic performance is made possible by a newly developed 1.3-litre i-VTEC engine that delivers maximum output of 73kW (100PS). Combined with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and newly developed torque converter, the engine provides enjoyable driving and class-leading 24 km/l fuel economy. The body rigidity and crash safety performance were also enhanced while maintaining weight equivalent to the previous model. Moreover, the newly designed chassis also helps achieve superior comfort and steady handling.

Newly added to the Fit lineup is a Road Sailing (RS) version which highlights a sportier and sophisticated character with a newly developed 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine and a specially designed suspension with enhanced styling and a richer feel.

Honda Fit was first introduced in Japan in June 2001. It is now being produced in six factories in five countries and sold in approximately 115 countries around the world, with cumulative sales of more than two million units.

Honda’s man maximum, machine minimum concept is a basic approach to car design that calls for maximizing the space available for humans and minimizing the space occupied by mechanical components.

Key features of the new Fit:

Exterior styling:

The exterior styling is intended to express both spaciousness and dynamic motion, with front pillars moved forward for an advanced, super-forward form. The fuel lid dovetails seamlessly with the monoform styling thanks to Honda’s first application of a push-lift opener. The door mirrors provide greater visibility with 30% more surface area supported by a compact mount located at the base of the front quarter light. The addition of five new colors brings the total available body colors to twelve.


The center tank layout was carried over from the previous model to help maintain the maneuverability expected of a small car while allowing enhancement of cabin space and practicality. The overall length has been increased 55 mm to 3,900 mm and the width 20 mm to 1,695 mm, while the 1,525 mm height remains the same as the previous model, allowing for use of tower parking.

While the wheelbase has been increased 50 mm to 2,500 mm, the tread size has also been increased to help optimize the steering angle and maintain the minimum turning radius of the previous model at 4.7 metres.

An emergency tire repair kit is provided instead of a spare tire, freeing up 64 litres of storage space beneath the floor. Combined with the space in the luggage room this brings the total available luggage space to an amazing 427 litres.

The rear hatch opening is located 605 mm from the ground, making it easy to load and unload luggage. The rear doors also open to a wide 80° angle, providing even easier access for passengers and facilitating loading and unloading of luggage.


The cabin features an ingenious layout with equivalent space as one of Honda’s middle-class sedans, providing passengers a natural feeling of comfort.

The large three-meter cluster provides superior visibility with permanent illumination. The speedometer, located in the center of the cluster, features a large LED display providing of a broad range of information, including current fuel economy and range indications.

To ensure a comfortable driving position for all drivers, a tilt and telescopic steering column as well as a ratchet-operated seat height adjuster have been applied.

The front quarter windows are three times of the size of those in the previous model, and the width of the front pillar has been reduced by 20 mm to provide enhanced visibility. A new Sky Roof provides even more sense of space and comfort in the cabin. The power sun shield can be opened and closed with the touch of a switch for a comfortable cabin all year round.

The front seat is based on the seat frame of a middle-class sedan and fitted with springs and padding optimized for seat hold and ride comfort. The rear seats are 20 mm wider, 15 mm deeper and have cushions 10 mm thicker for enhanced ride comfort. The left and right headrests fit into the seat back for easy seat arrangement and 30% better rearward visibilities.


The four modes of “Ultra Seat” provide enhanced utility.
Utility mode:

Easy one-motion dive down and release operation of the rear seats. The luggage space can be extended to a maximum length of 1,720 mm thanks to the spacious full-flat floor. The three “Ultra Luggage” modes provide added practicality to Fit’s cargo space.

Upper/Lower mode: Lift the flexible luggage board from the floor to separate the luggage space into upper and lower partitions. The net used to create the upper space is perfect for carrying irregularly shaped objects that won’t sit flat. The Fit interior is replete with practical utility, starting with 10 cup-holders and a wide range of easy-to-use storage spaces.

A Honda HDD InterNavi navigation system equipped with a 7-inch wide display and a 40GB hard disk is available as a factory option. And with the new Fit Honda introduces two new services to enhance the driving experience of members of the InterNavi Premium Club: New Road Data and Earthquake Information System.


The new Fit comes with either of two new engines: a 1.3 litre i-VTEC or a 1.5 litre i-VTEC. In addition to the superior low-rpm torque of its predecessors, the new 1.3l i-VTEC brings more power to the high rpm range and delivers enhanced fuel economy in everyday driving. The new four-valve configuration with enhanced intake performance and drive-by-wire technology combine to help achieve a power rating of 73 kW (100PS). The use of only one of the two intake valves at low rpm increases EGR efficiency, helping the Fit achieve a class-leading 24 km per litre fuel economy.

The new 1.5 litre i-VTEC delivers superior fuel economy combined with lively dynamic performance and plentiful torque throughout all speed ranges. Intake valve timing and clearance settings switch to match for low- and high-speed driving and optimized valve overlap in the low-, mid-, and high speed ranges enhances intake and exhaust efficiency for power output of 88 kW (120PS) and superior fuel economy of 19.6 km per litre.

The Fit’s continuous variable transmission delivers enhanced drive and off-the-line acceleration thanks to the implementation of a new torque converter. Higher gear ratios also help improve fuel economy by keeping rpms low during cruising. The low-friction, high-efficiency oil pump and pulleys as well as a new creep control system provide optimized creep control at low speeds and during idling for improved fuel economy.


Body construction and design have been ingeniously modified to improve body rigidity and crash safety performance even while maintaining the same weight as the previous model. Noise and vibration during idling as well as booming noise while cruising are quieter than ever thanks to highly efficient connections of structural members and enhanced body stiffness.

The implementation of sound-absorbing acoustic materials in the roof, carpet, and dashboard insulation contribute both to greater quietness and to lower weight. The RS Type is equipped with special damping and acoustic materials to achieve quietness expected of more expensive vehicles.


The newly designed chassis realizes both superior ride comfort and steady handling. The rigid body and supple suspension provide an exceptional dynamic performance.

The new Fit features a McPherson strut front suspension.

The H-shaped torsion beam rear suspension achieves the maximum possible space for the rear seats and cargo area as well as supple ride comfort and steady handling.

The new electric power steering has more capacity than the previous model, and improvements to steering gear box rigidity and attachment points provide a more direct steering feel.


The RS Type comes with Honda’s vehicle stability assist (VSA) system, which is the first implementation of VSA with a manual transmission vehicle in this class. In addition, engine torque control and DBW throttle control enable precise control of the vehicle in driving.A side curtain air bag system function with the front seat i-side air bag system to provide added protection against head injuries during side collisions. Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering Body provides enhanced self-protection and better compatibility in collisions with other vehicles. Honda pedestrian-injury reduction body design helps protect pedestrians from injury in the event of a collision.

All Fit models are equipped with an electronic brake distribution ABS system plus brake assist functionality as standard equipment. In addition to an ISO FIX child seat bar, tether anchors are provided in both the left and right rear seats as standard equipment.


All types have been certified by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport as having achieved a 75% reduction with respect to emissions regulations for 2005. All types equipped with CVT exceed Japanese fuel economy standards for 2010 by 20%; G- and L-Type equipped with 4WD as well as RS-Type equipped with 5MT exceed Japanese fuel economy standards for 2010 by 5%; RS-Type equipped with 4WD comply with Japanese fuel economy standards for 2010.

The use of VOCs in the cabin has been reduced to a minimum, and all types comply with indoor density guidelines set out by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Rotating passenger seat:

A rotating passenger seat is available to take full advantage of Fit’s ease of access. Incorporating the same styling, ride comfort, and bolstering as the base model, this exclusive seat has been designed with a specially contoured seat cushion for enhanced ease of access. Oversized bearings help ensure smooth rotation.

295 mm of foot space during rotation—a full 65 mm more than the previous model—has been achieved together with a seat height of 585 mm for enhanced ease of access.

The tip up configuration of the ULTRA SEAT Tall mode enables easy loading and unloading of a wheelchair through the rear seats.

Wednesday 17 October 2007

New Car: 2009 Nissan GT-R

Numerous GT-R prototypes have been caught testing around the world, including at Germany's Nürburgring and California's Laguna Seca Raceway, but this is the first look at the rocket coupe's completely undisguised sheet metal.

Most of the specifications aren't expected to be announced until Nissan's Tokyo show press conference on October 24, but today we know that the all-wheel-drive 2009 GT-R will get a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 that produces 473 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque. It'll drive all four wheels through a rear-mounted transaxle. The only transmission will be a GR6 dual-clutch six-speed automatic. And of course there will be paddle shifters for your enjoyment — the same leather-wrapped aluminum paddle shifters as Nissan uses in the G35 sedan.

Nissan says the GT-R will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, finish the quarter-mile in 11.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 192 mph. Base price is expected to be less than $80,000.

If true, the GT-R will be serious competition for the Porsche 911 Turbo, which it has been routinely seen testing alongside.
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