Saturday 28 February 2009

News in brief

Before it's debut in Geneva, Nissan has revealed its new NV200. The NV200 will arrive in 3 variants; a commercial van and two 7 seat passenger versions - a combi for passengers and load carrying and a passenger only version. Nissan is presenting the NV200 to the world as a global product which has been tested under many different conditions to suit very different markets. Nissan is launching the NV200 in Japan before Summer, in Europe in Autumn 2009 and then in China and other markets. Engines are a 1.6 litre petrol with 108PS and 153Nm of torque. The second option is a 1.5 litre dCi, producing 86PS and 200Nm. Both use a 5 speed manual transmission.Optional equipment includes a rear view parking camera, ESP, ABS with EBD, driver and passenger airbags and side airbags on the options list.

Hyundai is likely to sell the Genesis Coupe in Europe. Prices should start around €25,000, undercutting the Nissan 350Z by €13,000 at €38,000. Sales should start in 2010 with EU cars limited to 1,000 units a year. Hyundai Genesis Coupe priced at €25k.

Ford reveals revised Ranger pick-up. Set to debut at next weeks Geneva motorshow, the Ranger is built in Thailand and will reach European showrooms in April. Engine wise, buyers can purchase 2 4-cylinder diesels; 2.5 litre, 143bhp and a 3.0 litre 156bhp unit both of which can be paired with either a 5 speed auto or manual.

Kia's new mini-MPV, referred to as the "YN" will be unveiled in Switzerland in concept form. The concept named, Kia No 3 Concept is designed by Peter Schreyer, who heads the Korean brand's European design studio. At 4,045 mm in length, the new MPV is a little longer than the Ford Fiesta. Underpinnings will be borrowed from the Soul.

Kia has released 2 more teaser images of the forthcoming Sorento SUV. The Korean market will get a 2.4 litre Theta II petrol, a 2.7 litre LPI and a 2.2 litre turbo-diesel R-engine, kindly donated by sister firm Hyundai. The 200bhp, 2.2 litre turbo-diesel R engine will achieve 33mpg UK whilst mated to a new 6 speed automatic transmission. CO2 emissions are likely to top 225g/km. A 175bhp, 2.4 litre Theta petrol engine will be offered in the UK alongside the 2.2 diesel. A 3.8 litre V6, expected to produce more than 270bhp won't be offered in the European market. The U.S will only get the petrol engines. The new Sorento goes on sale in South Korea in April. In Europe and North America, the model will be launched late in 2009.

The Skoda Fabia Scout will stand in Geneva next month. Based upon the Fabia, it receives cladding along the front, side and back. Sales start in May.

Rolls-Royce will show a concept version of the forthcoming "RR4". The 200EX will use the underpinning of the BMW 7 Series. Measuring at 5.4 metres, the baby Rolls is likely to start at £180,000. Power will come from a V12. The official product will premier at the Frankfurt motorshow with worldwide sales starting in 2010.

Courtesy of the European Office for Harmonization of the Internal Market (OHIM), where trademark records are kept and spy photographers, we can see the European Chevrolet Volt, named Vauxhall/Opel Ampera in all it's glory in Germany. Set to debut in Geneva next week, the 5 door hatchback will be on sale by 2011. It'll be built in Ellesmere Port, England and is claimed the Ampera will be capable of returning upto 176mpg with CO2 emissions of under 40g/km. It will use the same Voltec plug-in hybrid system as the Volt. GM says that Voltec system has a 40 mile range from a single charge. A small petrol engine in the car which powers the generator will increase the range to about 500 miles. Recharging from a European 230-volt outlet is expected to take 2-3 hours.

New face for Grande Punto

Fiat's hot-selling Grande Punto has been on the European market since 2005. Recently, the UK model (MY 2009) received some subtle changes to the exterior, interior and pricing. A few pre-production cars, caught in Sweden and Italy show that the newcomer will bring substantial changes to its mechanics, interior and exterior. On the outside of the prototypes, Fiat engineers have only covered the front radiator grille with tape. It seems that the facelift could be small, but who knows.

In a market where comfort, affordability/running costs and style are the most important factors, the G.Punto's interior is likely to be upto Alfa Romeo standards. Engines will remain the same.

Whilst one of the engineers were testing the 5dr mule in Sweden, our Norwegian spy photographer said the vehicle caught alight whilst in motion. The driver escaped unharmed and started filming the incident by our spy, instead of phoning the emergency services. Sales of the Grande Punto will start in Winter.

Entry-level Mini Clubman One announced (UK)

Mini has announced an entry-level version of its popular Clubman.

Under the bonnet is a 1.4 litre 4 cylinder petrol engine producing 95bhp that allows the Clubman to run from 0-62 mph in 11.6 seconds. The sacrifice in power does add up to impressive gains in fuel economy and reduced emissions thanks to brake regeneration, start/stop and a shift point display that tells the driver when to shift to maximise fuel economy. The end result of all these technologies means that drivers can expect to achieve a combined fuel consumption of 52.3 mpg and CO2 emissions of 130g/km. A short-shifting 6 speed manual transmission is standard with the option of a 6 speed auto with manual-shift capability.

The new addition will be unveiled at next week's Geneva autoshow. Orders are being taken now with sales starting on Saturday 28th March. Prices start at £13,290 and all models will feature new exterior paint combinations and air conditioning as standard.

Friday 27 February 2009

Ford Mustang pricing announced (U.S)

Prices of the 2010 Ford Mustang will increase by $1,000, pushing starting price up at $20,995, excluding destination, delivery, tax, title, or licensing fees. The Mustang V6 convertible starts at $25,995, $27,995 for the V8 GT coupe and a GT convertible starting at $32,995. Ford also released pricing details for the new Shelby GT500 Coupe ($46,325), with the Shelby GT500 Convertible going for almost $5,000 more.

Standard equipment for the base V6 includes a 5 speed manual transmission, stability control, anti-lock brakes, keyless entry, LED taillights and stop light, painted 17 inch aluminum wheels, an auxiliary audio input, and chrome accents on the instrument cluster and 4 airbags come standard.

An upgrade to the V6 Pony Package gets the customer 18 inch polished aluminum wheels, body colour mirrors, a new grille, fog lamps and some other detail elements. Heated seats and a glass roof can also be purchased.

For an extra $8,000, the Mustang GT brings a set of painted aluminum 18-inch wheels, fog lamps, rear spoiler, body colour mirrors and a post-crash emergency services system. Several performance upgrades can be purchased as options, including better brakes, better stability control, a performance rear axle, and 19 inch wheels.

Engine plant size stays the same for both models, with base buyers getting a 4.0 litre V6 that still produces 210bhp. Torque is likely kept at 240 ft-lb. GT buyers will get a retuned 4.6 litre V8 that increases power output by 15bhp to 315bhp. Torque increases by 5 ft-lb to 325ft-lb.

Thursday 26 February 2009

Honda Insight pricing announced (UK)

Honda UK has announced pricing on it's Insight hybrid sedan.

The entry-level Insight SE will start at £15,490 which comes with Vehicle Stability Assist, dual front SRS airbags, side airbags, curtain airbags, active headrests, ISOFIX anchorage points, multi info display, x4 electric windows, 15" alloy wheels, climate control, tilt & telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, electric heated mirrors with power-folding and integrated mirrors, front armrest, CD stereo tuner with RDS/MP3 and AUX socket. The Insight undercuts the entry-level Prius T3 by £2,380.

ES Insights will be priced from £16,790. You get 16" alloy wheels, front fog lights, privacy glass, cruise control, paddle shift, heated front seats, automatic lights & wipers, leather steering wheel and gear knob, USB, rear armrest, tweeters and a map light.

ES-T models add satellite navigation and a hands-free telephone system at £18,390.

SE fuel economy and CO2 emissions are 64.2mpg combined and 101g/km. ES and ES-T models get 61.4mpg combined and emit 105g/km.

The new Honda Insight will go on sale in the UK at the beginning of April with Honda holding a preview launch on Saturday 21st March.

Suzuki Alto pricing announced (UK)

The all-new Suzuki Alto will start from £6,795 OTR. Your £6,800 will buy you the entry-level SZ2. Power steering, electric front windows, remote central door locking, MP3/WMA compatible CD player with 2 speakers, urethane tilt adjustable steering wheel, 2 speed front wipers with intermittent, single speed rear wiper with intermittent, rear window demister, internally adjustable door mirrors, remote fuel lid opener, digital clock, twin sun visors with drivers vanity mirror, rear single folding bench seat, 12v interior accessory socket, x2 front cupholders w/x2 rear bottle holders, 14" steel wheels with wheel caps, green tinted glass, immobiliser, internal tailgate opening, ABS, EBD, x4 airbags (twin front and side), foot protecting brake pedal, ISOFIX child seat anchorage and high-mounted stop lamp come as standard.

Move up to SZ3 and you will get manual air-conditioning with pollen filter, however, this comes in at £7,245.

Flagship SZ4 model gains drivers seat height adjustment, x4 extra speakers (6 in total), tachometer, 50/50 split folding rear seats, front fog lamps, 14" alloy wheels, body coloured door handles and mirrors, ESP and curtain airbags (6 in total). This comes in at £7,960 for the manual and £8,560 for the auto. Both sit in group insurance 2E, with the SZ2 & SZ3 sitting in 1E. All Alto's come with a 3 year/60,000 mile warranty.

Metallic paint is a £360 option.

The 5 door hatchback is powered by a 3 cylinder 67bhp 1.0 litre petrol engine and has a combined fuel consumption of 64.2 mpg/54.3mpg (manual/auto) with CO2 emissions of just 103g/km, rising to 122g/km (manual/auto).

While the Alto looks like good-value for money, the Hyundai i10 comes with more kit and is a little cheaper compared with the Alto.

Sales start Sunday 1st March.

Wednesday 25 February 2009

New Car: 2009 Hyundai Equus

Just before the Hyundai Equus bows in Geneva next week, Hyundai hosted a media only test drive event of its flagship Equus at the car maker's R&D centre in Namyang, Korea. The invited attendees were able to test the Equus against the car's prime rivals like the Lexus LS460 and Mercedes S-Class.

Brimming with confidence, they even let journalists test drive all three cars at their own event, just to demonstrate the Equus' abilities to compete with more established luxury sedans. Some of the available equipment will include Xenon headlamps with LED daytime lights and tail-lights, fog lights, dual exhaust, lane warning departure system, a new computer system that analyses data from the entire chassis, pre-crash seatbelts, satellite navigation system, electrically adjustable seats, steering wheel and door mirrors with memory feature, power folding door mirrors with auto-dimming, rear electric sunblind, auto-dimming rear view mirror, wood & leather steering wheel, Lexicon sound system with 17 speakers producing 500 watts, front and rear ventilated leather seats and 9 airbags. The new generation Equus will have 2 engine options, a 3.8 litre V6 and a 366bhp 4.6 litre V8.

The new Hyundai Equus likely to reach the U.S with a launch name of: Genesis Prestige. It is expected to receive the attention of international media next week, Tuesday 3rd March as it debuts. The Equus arrives in South Korean dealerships the same day.

Sunday 22 February 2009

Mazda3 pricing announced (U.S)

Mazda has released pricing info for the all-new 2010 Mazda3. The entry-level car comes with a manual transmission, and will have a price tag of $15,045, up $355 from the current model year. After a destination charge, this price should be more like $15,715. The entry-level engine is still a 2.0 litre DOHC 4 cylinder producing 148bhp. This engine has a 10% increase in fuel economy. However, the new engine is upgraded from a 156bhp 2.3 litre DOHC to the same 2.5 litre MZR. It produces 167bhp and 168 ft-lb of torque. Also getting the 2.0 litre is the Mazda3 i Touring, a sedan with an automatic transmission, stability control, traction control, and Bluetooth. It gets 25 mpg in the city, and 33 mpg highway. Cost of the car, presumably before destination charge, is $18,350.

The Mazda3 S Sport starts at $19,540 with four doors, with the five-door going for $20,030. It gets the bigger engine, automatic transmission, 17-inch alloys, and a "Multi-Information Display." The display is a black and white 4.1-inch screen giving out trip data, maintenance messages, system failure alerts, and even information from your MP3 player. Despite the bigger engine, it still gets the same 22/29 mpg as the current model.

Both Mazda3 S units have access to the Technology package. For $1,195 you get keyless entry, push-button ignition, a full-color screen, XM/Sirius satellite radio with 6 months of service, an alarm, a sunroof, and a six CD changer BOSE audio system.

Base Mazda3 i and s buyers can also buy the Bose CD changer and sunroof, along with Centerpoint 5 channel surround sound, amplifier, noise cancellation, and 10 speakers. The price of the audio/sunroof package is $1,395.

Mazda claims that in the end, a fully loaded 2010 Mazda3 Grand Touring 4 door will actually cost $240 less than it does now.

The Mazda3 i-stop and the Mazda3 MPS will also be on display at the Geneva motorshow in March.

Press Release:

In an economy where value-for-dollar is more important than ever, the all-new 2010 MAZDA3 proves that good things do come in small packages - and can be affordable too. Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) today announced pricing for its much-anticipated sport compact. Starting at just $15,045, the entry-level 2010 MAZDA3, equipped with manual transmission, is priced just $355 more than the outgoing model.

The 2.0 litre MAZDA3 i Touring 4-door with automatic transmission, which is expected to remain the volume-leader model, will be priced at $18,350 and includes key features such as standard Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Traction Control (TCS) and Bluetooth® wireless mobile phone and audio capability and hands-free operation. And with fuel economy up to 25/33 mpg (city/highway) - a 10 percent improvement in highway fuel economy - the MAZDA3 i Touring costs less at the pump too.

Starting at just $19,540 for the 4-door and $20,030 for the 5-door, the 2.5 litre MAZDA3 s Sport with automatic transmission adds 17-inch alloy wheels and a Multi-Information Display (MID) with 4.1-inch monochromatic screen that conveys MP3 and i-Pod program information, trip data including fuel economy, plus various maintenance and alert messages. And, like all Mazdas, the new 2.5 litre engine has plenty of Zoom-Zoom - a must for an eco-conscious driving enthusiast. The 2.5 litre engine pushes out 167 horsepower and 168 lb.-ft. of torque - 13 more horsepower and 18 more lb.-ft. of torque than the 2.3 litre it replaces - yet maintains a competitive fuel economy of 22/29 (city/highway).

New packages for the 2010 model include a Technology package and the Moonroof/six CD changer/BOSE ® Audio package.

Available on both s models, the Technology package includes advanced keyless entry, push-button start, a compact full-color navigation system, Sirius satellite radio with six months of free service and a perimeter alarm - all for $1,195.

The Moonroof/six CD changer/ BOSE® Audio package is available on the MAZDA3 i Touring and both s models. In addition to a moonroof and six CD changer, the package adds BOSE® Centerpoint surround sound - a five-channel surround system engineered cooperatively with BOSE® that enhances the listening experience thanks to a digital amplifier, noise cancellation technology and 10, strategically placed, premium speakers. Priced at just $1,395, the Moonroof/six CD changer/ BOSE® Audio package is a must for audiophiles.

Offering more features, functionality, and power than a comparably equipped outgoing 2009 model, when it's all said and done, a fully loaded 2010 MAZDA3 s Grand Touring 4-door is $240 less.

Chevrolet says "no" to RHD Camaros

After Chevrolet announced RHD Camaros back in June 2008, GM has recently announced that the Camaro will only be available in LHD. This was going to be an expansion of the Chevrolet brand in the UK, where Chevy vehicles tend to be budget vehicles.

Chevrolet has abandoned plans to build the new Chevrolet Camaro muscle car in right hand drive and will bring in significantly fewer models than initially thought. Tooling for the right hand drive Chevrolet Camaro was already underway, but will now be cancelled in order to help preserve GM’s cash.

Just 100 Chevrolet Camaros will be imported – 50 coupes and 50 convertibles – in order to keep numbers below the threshold for type-approval regulations.

All UK-bound Chevrolet Camaros will get the 500bhp 6.2 litre V8 Corvette engine; the U.S-market entry-level 296bhp V6 model will not be available.

Despite the small number of imports, Chevrolet believes it will still make a profit thanks to the car’s £35,000 price tag, however, private buyers who are planning to import for the U.S will pay around £30,000. Chevrolet revealed it had received around 12,000 advanced orders for the new Camaro in the U.S, with the V6 accounting for most orders. The Camaro will hit British shores in 2011.

Countries like Ireland, UK, India, Pakistan, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Southern & South Eastern Africa will all lose out.

Thursday 19 February 2009

New Car: 2009 Mercedes E-Class Coupe + Photo Gallery

This is the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe, the replacement for the CLK. To be unveiled at next month’s Geneva motorshow and due on sale in June, the car represents a departure from its predecessor not only in name but also because it switches from a C-class platform to a modified version of the new E-Class underpinnings.

The aim is to take the E-Class Coupe upmarket, to make room at the lower end of range for the forthcoming C-Class Coupe. This is expected to have a four-door layout when it arrives in 2012 as a replacement for the underachieving CLC.

In keeping with the change of name, the E-Class Coupe’s exterior follows the design cues of the new E-Class saloon. While the design makes the E-Class Coupe more distinctive than its predecessor, it also means that it has lost some of the CLK’s elegance in the process. The Mercedes E-Class Coupe is, however, the world’s most aerodynamic road car, with a drag coefficient of 0.24; that's lower than even the new Toyota Prius.

The E-Class Coupe is 46mm longer, 46mm wider but 20mm lower than the CLK, with a 45mm longer wheelbase. That means more room inside, with increased leg and shoulder room front and rear. Boot space is 450 litres, 15 litres more than the CLK.

The initial engine line-up includes three petrol units: a 204bhp turbocharged 1.8 litre 4 cylinder in the E250 CGI, a 292bhp 3.5 litre V6 in the E350 CGI, and a 388bhp 5.5 litre V8 in the E500. They will be joined by two diesels: a 204bhp twin-turbo 2.2 in the E250 CDI and a 231bhp 3. litre V6 in the E350 CDI. The E250 CDI enjoys 500 Nm of torque.

The two V6s, along with the E500, will get a 7 speed automatic transmission. The most economical version of the E-Class Coupe is the E250 CDI, with combined consumption of 53mpg and 139g/km of CO2. By comparison, the 177bhp BMW 320d returns 59mpg and 128g/km.

The E63 AMG Coupe will arrive later this year, with a 450bhp version of AMG’s 6.2-litre V8. Also under development is the E400 Hybrid; this is rumoured to feature a new 3.5 litre V6 engine, combined with an electric motor generating around 20bhp to give a total output of 322bhp.

The E-Class Coupe goes on sale in Europe at the beginning of May with German pricing starting at €44,684.50 for the E250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY Coupé, E350 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY Coupé at €48,671.00, E250 CGI BlueEFFICIENCY Coupé at €44,684.50, E350 CGI BlueEFFICIENCY Coupé at €51,408.00 and €66,045.00 for the E500 Coupé.

New Car: 2009 FIAT 500C

Updated: 21/08/09

These are the first official pictures of the new Fiat 500C, due to be unveiled at the Geneva motorshow next month.

The sardine tin-style folding roof has been designed to maximise the Fiat 500C boot space, as well as referencing its Topolino ancestor. That means the new Fiat 500C has the same 185 litre load space as the hatchback, and also ensures that changes to the structure of the 500 body are kept to a minimum, reducing production costs.

The new Fiat 500C will come with the same line-up of three engines that's found in the 500 hatch and will be offered with the new ‘Start&Stop’ system as standard.

Two new paint colours have been introduced - Pearl Red and Warm Grey - to compliment the ivory, red and black roof.

Prices are expected to start at around £12,500, a £3,000 premium over the 500 1.2 Pop hatchback. The Fiat 500C goes on sale in May, just in time for Summer.

Press Release:

A worldwide preview of the Fiat 500C presentation will take place at the next Geneva Motorshow, before its launch throughout Europe this Spring. Evocative of "freedom and emotion", this original 'cabriolet' pays homage to the open-top 1957 model whilst offering leading-edge solutions for mechanical units, powerplants and interior comfort. All this in authentic Fiat tradition giving access to higher segment engineering and technology hitherto unheard of.

Featuring an innovative soft-top - a fully fledged window to the sky - the new 500C comes in the same size as the basic model (3.55 m x 1.65 m x 1.49 m) and the same three powerplants: the 1.3 litre 75bhp Multijet Turbodiesel coupled to a 5-speed manual transmission and the two 1.2 litre 69bhp and 1.4 litre 100bhp petrol engines, available with either manual or robotised Dualogic transmission. Providing different features, all three engine types are generously sized, have a brilliant temperament and offer high performance based on sophisticated technology. Standard features include stubborn reliability and environmental friendliness.

Moreover, as proof of Fiat Automobiles commitment to ecology and sustainable mobility, the new 500C incorporates the innovative “Start&Stop” system, a device controlling momentary engine shutdown and subsequent reignition. To this end, at every stop when shifting to neutral and releasing the clutch, the engine is switched off and then restarted simply by selecting a gear.

Created by the Fiat Styling Center and manufactured at the Tychy plant in Poland, the 500C is of the “open source” design, implying the addition of new functions to a highly successful existing product. Indeed, the Fiat 500C incorporates all the strong points of the basic model, namely top-of-segment safety features, 4-adult seat habitability and generous luggage space combined with excellent load-ability also with the soft top fully open, thanks to a clever parallelogram hinge device.

A highly original exercise in design, the soft-top of the Fiat 500C stands out for its refined electrically operated linkage and engineering solutions of great quality and finish, such as the glass backlight and the built-in center high mounted stop light. Available in three colors (ivory, red and black), this original soft top will be matched with several bodywork color schemes, two of which have been conceived specifically for the new car, i.e. a brilliant Pearl Red and a special Warm Grey typical of sports supercars. Last but not least, thanks to the adoption of the innovative sliding soft-top combined with a styling concept which retains all-round protection, the Fiat 500C offers a delightful ride in any season of the year. All told, its many special features make this new car one of the best turned out cabriolet models currently on offer in the city-car segment.

The 500C is further proof of Fiat's undisputed leadership in this vehicle class where continuous innovation ensures that its position as the industry's standard is maintained. In fact the car sets new levels of in terms of comfort and safety, engineering and appointments whilst maintaining that unique and inimitable "Italian style". A new cabriolet is born which gives great excitement and utmost driving pleasure, combining captivating lines with the performance of flexible, environment-friendly engines.

Revised Mercedes Maybach spied

With the Maybach selling very, very slowly (1 sold in the UK in 2008, 0 sold in Australia and less than 1,000 sold in the U.S since it's launch in 2003.), Mercedes needs to act fast, especially considering that the Phantom is out-selling it.

Our spies were ready to pounce on Maybach engineers on the roads of Germany as the first mules were out testing. At the front, tweaked grille and bumper will feature, alongside LED daytime running lights, similar to the forthcoming S-Class. The rear seems unchanged, but we suspect that LED-tail-lamps will feature.

Powertrains for both 57 and 62 models will stay the same. Sales are expected to start in 2010.
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