Friday 31 October 2008

MINI Crossman out in the open

BMW's 4,135mm long, 1,830mm wide and 1,598mm high SUV has been spied undergoing handling testing in Munich, Germany.

The Mini Crossover concept was based upon an extended 61mm platform of the Clubman. We expect the Crossover’s 2,606mm wheelbase to be carried over into the Crossman to offer greater rear passenger and luggage space.

It’s clear that this is going to be the biggest car to wear a Mini badge so far. The Paris show car was badged as the Mini Crossman, but BMW insiders say the production car will be sold as the Mini Cross. The finished car will also lose most of the Paris show concept’s more outlandish details, including the sliding ‘parallelogram’ hinges of its rear doors in favour for conventional rear doors. Also the rear bootlid is most likely hinged at the roof instead of the right side quarter panel like the concept but it’s possible that the production version will keep the concept’s wind-down tailgate windows, which make it easier to carry longer loads.

Although the Mini Cross is almost as big as BMW’s forthcoming X1 compact SUV, the two cars will not share mechanical components. Instead, the Cross will use a developed version of the platform and powertrains already offered in the existing Mini and Mini Clubman.

The production Mini Cross will be built in Austria by Magna Steyr, which builds European versions of the current BMW X3. Mini hopes to pumped out 80,000 units a year. The Mini Cross will be the fourth body model in the MINI range with four-doors, four seats, four-wheel-drive and four cylinder engines.

A lower, less aggressively styled, two-wheel-drive variant will be launched shortly after the 4x4 version in 2010. Prices are likely to start at £20,000.

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Bentley axes 300 jobs (UK)

Bentley is axing the nightshift on the Continental production line in Crewe, making up to 300 workers redundant as the luxury car maker faces up to falling sales.

The famous Cheshire factory had been running a 3 day week on three shifts, but will now be running a four-day week with two shifts. Some workers will be absorbed into the new shift pattern, but the company is looking for voluntary redundancies and will be laying off up to 300 people.

Crewe is the first British car factory that’s been forced to lay off a significant number of workers since the recent dramatic drop in new car sales – but it is unlikely to be the last.

2009 Suzuki Kizashi spied; clearest photos yet

These most recent spy shots of the upcoming Suzuki Kizashi are some of the best seen so far. They provide a pretty good view of the car and you can get an idea of what its final design will be as it gets closer to production. The accompanying photos were taken earlier this week while the Kizashi was undergoing testing in Germany wearing very light camouflage.

The Kizashi will be Suzuki's first mid size sedan as the carmaker moves its brand upmarket and introduces products into the middle segment of the passenger car market. The mid-size segment is one of the most fiercely competitive in the U.S market and the Kizashi will go up against best selling models such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and the Chevrolet Malibu.

The sedan will come with a entry-level 2.5 litre, 150bhp 4 cylinder petrol engine and flagship models will receive a thirsty 3.6 litre V6 producing around 300bhp, coupled with a 6 speed automatic transmission and a 4WD system. Diesel engines will be available for the European market.

The Kizashi should be priced around £15,000 to £23,000 to take on the Ford Mondeo, head to head. Suzuki has announced it will also later produce a wagon and CUV version of the Kizashi. The Kizashi will be built in Sagara, Japan, and will be launched in the U.S in early 2010.

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Toyota to export U.S built Sequoia and Tundra

With sales of large SUVs and pickup trucks in the U.S on the constant decline, Toyota decided to partially deal with the oversupply problem by exporting the Sequoia SUV that's made in Indiana to the Middle East and South America, and the Tundra pickup truck made at its plant in Texas to South America. Annually, Toyota plans to ship approximately 15,000 units of the Sequoia to the Middle East, and around 150 units of the Sequoia and 1,000 units of the Tundra to South America. In both cases, exports are scheduled to start in December 2008.

Audi builds A4 in India (IN)

Audi has launched local assembly of its second model in India, the A4, which joins the A6 in production at the Volkswagen Group plant in Aurangabad.

Audi expects to invest about $38.5 million to upgrade the facility and plans to build 11,000 A4s and 7,000 A6s by 2015.

Peter Schwarzenbauer, Audi's sales and marketing boss, said "India is one of the most important future growth markets for Audi."

In 2009, the first full year of production at Aurangabad, 640 A4 sedans will be assembled from knocked-down kits, along with 380 A6 models.

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Ford KA pricing announced (UK)

Ford has announced UK pricing for the brand new Ka will start at £7,995, when it goes on sale January 2009. The new model features four different trim levels and a choice of either a petrol or diesel engine.

In the £7,995 Studio level Ka, standard features include electric power steering, an adjustable steering wheel, ABS brakes, body-colour bumpers, and a six speaker stereo system with a CD and an AUX input.

Style editions start at £8,495 and include heated body colour door mirrors and handles, remote central locking, electric front windows, 50/50 split rear seat, and driver seat memory. For an additional £500, customers can upgrade to the Style + which adds air conditioning and a heated windscreen. All these models can only be equipped with a 1.2 litre petrol engine which produces 69PS and returns 55.4 mpg in the combined cycle.

The range topping Ka Zetec - expect to snap 40% of overall sales starts at £9,495 with the 1.2 litre petrol engine, while the 1.3 litre diesel model that produces 75PS and returns 67.3 mpg is priced from £10,195. Both come equipped with the features from the Style + as well as 15" alloy wheels, front fog lights, theatre dimming interior lights and upgraded instrumentation.

Press Release:

All-new Ford Ka priced from £7,995
Improved economy and sub-120g/km CO2*
Affordable personalisation options from £300
Diesel engine now available

Ford's all-new Ka is set to continue its lead in the sub-B sector with its cheeky looks and fun-to-drive personality when it hits the UK market in January 2009 - priced from £7,995.

All-new Ka is available with 1.2 69PS petrol and 1.3 75PS diesel engines, sub-120g/km CO2 emissions and a host of big car features. There is a wide choice of specification and trim options, each with comprehensive and imaginative equipment levels.

STUDIO from £7,995:

The Studio model provides small-car buyers with an affordable and stylish package. Standard features include Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS), height-adjustable steering wheel, ABS brakes, driver and passenger front airbags, headlamp courtesy delay system and body-coloured bumpers. Six speakers, CD radio with MP3 compatibility and AUX-in connector also come as standard on all models.

STYLE from £8,495:

Style boosts Ka's specification with powered and heated body-coloured door mirrors, electric front windows with driver-side one-touch up and down, body-coloured door handles, remote/central locking, driver seat height adjust and 50/50 rear split seat, rear headrests and driver seat memory function.

STYLE + from £8,995:

Upgrading to the Style + adds air conditioning and heated windscreen.

ZETEC from £9,495 (£10,195 for 1.3 TDCi):

Expected to be the most popular choice, Ka Zetec will account for more than 40% of sales. Additional features to the Style+ include 15in alloy wheels, front fog lamps, remote central locking, upgraded instruments and trip computer, as well as theatre dimming interior lights. The optional 1.3 diesel engine offers lower CO2 emissions and even better economy.

Ford of Britain’s marketing director, Mark Simpson, said: “We're really excited about the launch of the all-new Ka. It gives us a great opportunity to appeal to an even wider audience and keep the Ka as Britain's top super-mini.”

An array of personalisation options is also on offer from £300.
Studio 1.2 69PS

Style 1.2 69PS

Style + 1.2 69PS

Zetec 1.2 69PS

1.3 TDCi

VED band: B (£35 for both diesel and petrol)

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Photo Gallery: 2009 Daewoo Lacetti (Cruze)

Alfa Romeo MiTo pricing announced (UK)

Alfa Romeo is preparing to launch the new MiTo in the UK. Alfa dealers will begin receiving MiTo’s next month for display purposes ahead of the car’s official launch on January 24. Drawing many design aspects from the 8C Competizione sports car, the MiTo plans to go head to head with key competitors in its highly competitive segment. Helping to give it the upper hand is a special electronic system called DNA, which adjusts the car’s performance depending on driving style and conditions.

Entry level MiTo’s equipped with a 1.4 litre 95bhp engine will start at £10,975. For potential owners concerned about resale value, industry expects at CAP believe the Alfa MiTo 1.3 litre JTDM Veloce will retain 47% of its value after 3 years and 60,000 miles. UK orders will begin to be accepted on the 1st November.

Press Release:


Alfa Romeo’s new, compact and sporty Alfa MiTo is coming to a dealer near you. From the beginning of next month, every Alfa Romeo dealer in the UK will be exhibiting static examples of the company’s brand new Alfa MiTo, a full two months before its official UK launch on 24 January 2009. For thousands of Alfa MiTo fans and Alfisti, this is the first chance to see the car at close quarters since its world debut at this year’s British International Motor Show. Whilst sharing styling cues with the Alfa 8C Competizione supercar, the Alfa MiTo is also equipped as standard with features and technology not previously available in this segment. These include a special electronic control system DNA (Dynamic, Normal, All Weather), which adjusts the response of the car depending on driving style and conditions, and LED rear lights. Together with an eye-catching price of £10,975 for the entry level Alfa MiTo 1.4 16V 95BHP Turismo, comes news that industry experts, CAP, expect the Alfa MiTo 1.3 JTDM Veloce to retain a massive 47% of its value after three years and 60,000 miles – the second highest in its segment.

So the new MiTo is set to appeal to heads as well as hearts. Those drivers wanting to be first behind the wheel of the Alfa MiTo next year can place orders from 1 November and take advantage of very competitive financial offers available at their local Alfa Romeo dealerships.

Wednesday 29 October 2008

New Car: 2009 Nissan 370Z

The new car strikes a handsome balance between the classic long-hood, short-deck look of the original 240Z, while maintaining the taut lines and intricate lighting of current Nissans. The new Z’s interior keeps a similar layout but gets a stronger, more modern look with taller central gauges and a large central information screen similar to those in other Nissan/Infiniti products. The name change hints at the reported 330bhp 3.7 litre V6 under the hood. The 370Z is also reportedly shorter, wider and lighter than the outgoing car, so the power increase will be put to good use thanks to the agile, all-new platform underneath. Based on the same platform as the G37, the 370Z will get the option of the same seven-speed automatic and a six-speed manual.Unlike the Infiniti, however, the new Nissan won't be a 2+2 coupe, but will stick with a two-seater layout.

A diesel version – ready to rival the Audi TT TDI – could be on the cards later in the 370Z’s lifespan. Nissan is known to be working on an oil-burning V6. There will undoubtedly be a roadster model hot on the heels of the coupe; expect late in 2009. The 2009 370Z is scheduled to meet the public at the Los Angeles motorshow on the 19th November. It goes on sale early next year for an estimated £28,000.

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Top 10 credit crunchers

Car sales across the world have been falling fast, especially in Europe. Industry figures for September show a 40% drop in sales of luxury cars and off roaders. In fact, sales of every type of car were more than 15% down on September 2007 – except for one. The city car segment is having a popularity boom, with motorists flocking to models with low running costs which are still big on character.

The Fiat 500 is taking the city-car segment by storm, thanks to its cool looks, high specification including 7 airbags and low price. The entry-level 1.2 litre Pop is available with a sticker price of less than £8,100.

Its small 69bhp engine only emits 119g/km of carbon dioxide, so it’s in Tax Band B with a cost of £35. Combined fuel consumption of 55mpg should be possible and it has a low insurance group 2 rating.

The current Ka surpassed its 500,000th milestone in the UK. If you don't like the original, then wait Spring 2009 for the all-new model. Both 1.2 litre petrol engine and 1.3 TDCi diesel engine attract a £35 yearly road tax and both return fuel economy of 55mpg +. Emissions slot below 120g/km. It should also be cheap to buy and own, with a predicted price tag of £7,000.

Toyota Aygo/Citroen C1/Peugeot 107:

For an extra £175 extra over the Fiat 500, you can purchase a 3dr Toyota Aygo instead. The 5 dr model commands an extra £350 over the 3dr. The lightweight Toyota Aygo packs a big punch in the fight against the Credit Crunch with group one car insurance and £35 tax band B. Add to this a combined fuel consumption of 61mpg and the Toyota Aygo is able to make money go further. You can also expect fun handling and surprisingly athletic acceleration around town thanks to its low weight, however, all 3 cars are going to get replaced in 2010.

The C1 and 107 are under equipped and over priced compared to the Kia Picanto and Hyundai i10 but are similarly priced to the Aygo and offers same consumptions. The 1.4 HDi in the C1 returns 68mpg combined but emissions are the same as the petrol variant.

Hyundai i10/Kia Picanto:

The Hyundai i10 is both cheap to buy at £6,495 and cheap to run. Both 1.1 litre and 1.2 litre petrol engines have a top speed of 96mph and can return an average around 56.5mpg. Its emissions of 119g/km place it in Tax Band B and it comes with a long five-year warranty. Avoid the automatic though, this slips into Tax Band C and is liable for a £120 taxation. It’s safe, with four airbags as standard compared to the Picanto's 2 airbags. Kit is impressive for such a small car and includes air-conditioning, six-speaker CD player, central locking and front electric windows. It's also the most spacious city-car in its class.

The Picanto starts from a mere £6,095. Like the i10, the Picanto averages around 57.6mpg for the 1.0 litre with a top-speed of 93mph and 53.3mpg for the 1.1 litre manual with a top-speed of 96mph. Compared to the i10, the Picanto skips on equipment. Insurance and general running costs should be very low. Out of the Korean twins, the Picanto is the best looking.

Unfortunately, the 1.1 litre CRDi diesel engines aren't available in the UK. This emits 114g/km of C02 while combined fuel economy is 65mpg.

Renault Twingo:

Renault has returned to the UK with its Twingo. It’s excellent value for money with prices starting from £8,295 and the most economical model comes with a 1.2-litre petrol engine.

Servicing is every 18,000 miles and the 1.2 litre Extreme is insurance group 2, while its fuel consumption of 50mpg and emissions of 132g/km, making it more expensive to run. The Tax Band B 1.5 dCi diesel engine isn't available in the UK, although it has emissions of 114g/km with combined fuel economy of 65mpg. Dynamique and GT grades come with sliding rear seats.

Volkswagen Fox:

You can buy into the Volkswagen brand from £6,590 and get yourself the successor to the popular Volkswagen Lupo. There is lots of space inside and the rear seats can split and slide forwards to give maximum boot space. The Volkswagen badge should help you get more money back when you want to sell and the 1.2 litre engine should return 46mpg combined. The baby VW pumps out 144g/km of CO2. The Fox is in Tax Band C, like the Renault Twingo. At all expenses, try to avoid the 1.4 litre petrol engine as this is liable for £145 yearly taxation and is in Tax Band D. The current Fox will get replaced in 2010 by a newly, European designed and developed Fox.

Smart ForTwo:

For city dwellers, the Smart ForTwo makes lots of sense, fitting into parking gaps normally left for bikers. All models, except the Brabus and CDi slot into £35 Tax Band B. The CDi is exempt for road tax and emits 88g/km of CO2. Combined economy should averages at nearly 80mpg but the small 1.o litre turbocharged petrol engine is capable of returning more than 60mpg and gives the tiny Smart fairly brisk acceleration.

When the Toyota iQ arrives, it will be the smallest four-seater on sale, being similar in length to a Smart ForTwo. The front passenger sits further forwards than the driver to free up space.

The 1.0 VVT-i taken from the Toyota Aygo but developed to be even more economical and emit just 99g/km of carbon dioxide, making it is tax-free and will return around 65mpg. Toyota has concentrated on making the interior a good place to be, so it should still appeal to motorists downsizing from bigger cars. As a Smart rival, the entry-level model starts at £9,495.
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