Sunday, 31 May 2009

Nissan's new plant to go live soon (RU)


Nissan will officially open its new $200 million assembly plant in St. Petersburg on the 2nd June. Despite global economic woes, Russia is seeing steady growth in demand for premium class sedans and Nissan will build the popular Teana for the Russian market.

The plant is expected to produce 50,000 vehicles per year and will start rolling out cars at full capacity immediately after the opening, the company said in a statement.

The plant is located in Kamenka, a new industrial zone northwest of St. Petersburg, at the intersection of the city's new ring roads. Nissan started construction work on the plant on 8th June 2007, even as the domestic car market showed signs of sliding sales. The company said the quality of locally produced cars will conform to the company's international production system known as the Nissan Production Way, used on its factories all over the world.

The new plant will initially employ 750 people to work a single shift producing the Teana. The Teana first appeared in the Russian market in July 2006 and instantly became a hit. In May 2007, it was replaced by a new model, which has an average price of $32,000. Russia's AvtoStat, an agency that monitors car sales, said the company has sold more than 8,000 Teana's since its local launch last year.

Three months after the grand opening, the St. Petersburg plant is also expected to start production of the second-generation Nissan X-Trail which came to Russia in July 2007 and is one of the company's most successful and popular models. Nissan has sold 38,000 units of the X-Trail since July 2007, says AvtoStat.

Honda jacks 2010 Pilot prices (U.S)


Honda USA has announced pricing for the 2010MY Pilot that sees no styling or equipment changes from the 2009 model that went on sale in the U.S last May. The 2010MY brings a price rise of $250 and $350, depending on the trim level.

Available in both 2WD and 4WD forms and with 8 seats, the Pilot is powered by a 3.5 litre i-VTEC V6 petrol engine that produces 250bhp and 253 lbs-ft of peak torque.

Prices for the 2010 Pilot start from $27,895 for the entry-level 2WD LX and top out at $38,645 for the 4WD Touring.

2010 Honda Pilot prices:

Pilot 2WD LX - $27,895

Pilot 4WD LX - $29,495

Pilot 2WD EX - $30,745

Pilot 4WD EX - $32,345

Pilot 2WD EX-L - $33,845

Pilot 4WD EX-L - $35,445

Pilot 2WD Touring - $37,045

Pilot 4WD Touring - $38,645

Lord Mandleson assures Vauxhall factories are safe (UK)


Lord Mandelson has moved to calm speculation that Vauxhalls plants could be closed following the beginning of sale proceedings of GM Europe to Magna.

Lord Mandelson said that he had spoken to GM Europe executives after they had picked Magna as their preferred bidder and that they had reaffirmed their commitment that Vauxhall production would continue in the UK.

"I have in the last 24 hours spoken again to the senior executives of General Motors in Europe and again I have got their commitment reaffirmed to me - as I did previously, in the previous week with Magna - that their commitment to Vauxhall production continuing in the United Kingdom is firm,". "But we've got now to pin down specific plans and specific implications for jobs."

He stopped short of issuing any reassurances over job losses, saying that Magna had so far been vague both on its plans for the business and the implications for jobs. He also conceded that Magna's proposal to take over Vauxhall and Opel could threaten a key contract between Nissan Renault and Vauxhall's van making plant in Luton. Nissan Renault has a clause in its contract that states that it can renegotiate or even end the agreement with Luton, should the ownership of the plant change - as would be the case if Magna completes its deal to take over GM Europe.

Renault builds its Trafic van in Luton and the contract is set to run until 2012.

"These are among the many and details specifics of Magna's plans that we have to discuss with them and tie down," Lord Mandelson said.

"If they want British government to help underwrite this new company going forward, they are going to have to demonstrate what's in this new arrangement for Britain, for British production and British workers."

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Tesla recalls electric Roadster


Tesla has issued a recall notice for all 345 Roadsters produced before 22nd April 2009.

Tesla is blaming the problem on Lotus assembly, saying in a statement that "rear, inner hub flange bolts on a smaller percentage of vehicles were improperly torqued." The Tesla Roadster is based on the Lotus Elise and Exige and it is understood that Lotus has issued a similar recall for some of their own models.

The problem came to light after one owner reported uncharacteristic handling, but no accidents have been reported as a result of the fault. Greg Zanghi, Tesla's director of service and parts operations, said: “We plan to do everything we can to address this matter swiftly and keep customers satisfied.”

Friday, 29 May 2009

Magna agrees to purchase Vauxhall/Opel from GM


GM and Canadian car parts group, Magna International are close to an outline agreement for the sale of Vauxhall/Opel.

GM and the German Government are now trying to agree on a memorandum of understanding with Magna that would serve as the basis for bridge financing of €1.5bn (£1.3bn), as well as a solution that would protect Opel from creditors if GM files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S - which should be confirmed by Monday 1st June in addition to a $30bn loan.

"A framework agreement has been reached. The goal is to work out as many of the details as possible before the meeting with (Chancellor Angela) Merkel in order to sign a memorandum of understanding today," a source told the Reuters news agency.

Germany's economy minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg confirmed that all his attentions were now on reaching a deal with Magna, which has been asked to submit new proposals for Opel ahead of a meeting tonight. Juergen Reinholz, economy minister of German state Thuringia, where Opel has a plant, added “What’s crucial though is that GM and Magna reach an agreement. If that agreement isn’t reached, Opel has no choice but to file for insolvency.”

A meeting is now taking place between Chancellor Angela Merkel, the ministers involved and officials from the German states that contain GM plants to discuss whether to approve the deal.

Magna has said it will inject between €500m (£437m) and €700m (£612m) into Opel, assuming the deal gains government approval. It also plans to cut 2,500 jobs in Germany, about 10% of Opel's workforce in that country. Fiat had said it would cut 10,000 jobs.

It is not known what its plans for Vauxhall's plants in Luton and Ellesmere Port in the UK are but job cuts are very likely. However, the European Commission gathered members at a meeting yesterday to discuss concerns that job cuts resulting from the deal will be concentrated outside Germany.

A statement from the EC after the meeting said any state support should "not include non-commercial conditions concerning the location of investments and/or the geographic distribution of restructuring measures". Germany said the loan to Opel would benefit plants in all countries.

Under the agreement with Magna, GM would keep a 35% stake in the company, while 10% would be owned by Opel employees. Magna's bid is backed by Russia's state-run Sberbank and Oleg Deripaska's truck firm Gaz.

Jaguar XF to be used as police car (UK)


In the UK, we have a wide range of police cars from Smart ForTwo's and Vauxhall Astra's to Honda Civic Hybrid's and Lexus RX400h to Mitsubishi Lancers and Shoguns. So police forces are now looking to add Jaguar XF's in fleets.

Police forces are yet to decide to purchase a fleet of 3.0D Jaguar XF-S models which they are currently evaluating. These are the first ever Police-spec Jaguar XF units to be tested by the law enforcement across the UK.

"Police forces are looking for vehicles that represent value for money," said Geoff Cousins, UK Managing Director for Jaguar Cars, "and have good environmental credentials and deliver the power and performance required of a pursuit vehicle."

Powered by the same 272bhp, 600Nm 3.0 litre parallel sequential turbo diesel engine, the Police-spec XF will do 0-60mph in 5.9 seconds and deliver a C02 emissions figure of just 179g/km with an average fuel economy figure of 42.2 mpg.

Cousins continued to say: "The police officers driving pursuit vehicles demand a very high level of performance and handling, as well as safety and comfort. We hope that with this amount of torque on tap - and a -60mph time of 5.9 seconds, we will meet and exceed the exacting standards of any Police Officer driving this car."

Press Release:

Jaguar UK has launched a high performance Police pursuit vehicle based on its award-winning XF Diesel S model. The first ever Police-spec XF is currently being evaluated by Police forces across the country.

Geoff Cousins, UK Managing Director for Jaguar Cars, said: "Police forces are looking for vehicles that represent value for money, have good environmental credentials and deliver the power and performance required of a pursuit vehicle."

The Jaguar XF beats other contenders in this market with a fuel economy figure of 42mpg, class-leading residual values and an excellent CO2 rating of 179g/km.

"The Police Officers driving pursuit vehicles demand a very high level of performance and handling, as well as safety and comfort."

The Police specification Jaguar features the 272bhp 3.0 litre Diesel S engine with its unique, parallel sequential turbocharger system. Delivering high torque throughout the entire rev range, improved throttle response and low CO2 emissions, the twin-turbochargers work sequentially to deliver unrivalled response and best-in-class torque that means the XF packs a huge punch at all engine speeds.

"We hope that with this amount of torque on tap - and a 0-60mph time of 5.9 seconds, we will meet and exceed the exacting standards of any Police Officer driving this car."

The XF has picked up more than 20 international awards since launch, most recently 'Britain's Best Car' in the Auto Express Driver Power survey for 2009, 'Best Executive Car' at the What Diesel Magazine awards 2009 and the award for 'Best Executive Car' at the 2009 Fleet World Honours.

In the UK, retail pricing of the XF range starts at £32,900 for the 3.0 litre petrol. The 3.0 litre diesel model is available from £33,900 while the 3.0 litre Diesel S starts at £36,900. For more information go to http://www.jaguar.co.uk/.

Citroen GT likely to be built


Citroen is to make a decision on whether or not to put its GT supercar into production "within the next four weeks," according to the firm’s product boss Vincent Besson.

The GT was first shown as a concept car at last year’s Paris motorshow, built to tie in with the car’s appearance the Gran Turismo 5 PlayStation game.

Designed by Takumi Yamamoto, it was not initially meant for production, but now Citroen is considering building it. If Citoren decides to go ahead with the GT, which according to Besson is very likely, it will build up to 15 of them and each will cost around €1,000,000 each (£870,000), a price that could allow Citroen to break even on the project.

“The object of the car is not to earn money but not to lose money either,” said Besson.

Unlike the GT concept which used electric motors, power would come from a Ford or General Motors supplied V8 - Citroen is still deciding on which engine to use – with around 500bhp.

Citroen already has what Besson described as "customer interest" in the car, and if it gets the go ahead it will be unveiled at the Frankfurt motorshow in September with the first deliveries next year.

40% of drivers race satellite navigation systems (UK)


Research has shown that 40% of UK drivers are breaking speed limits in order to beat their sat nav's estimated arrival time.

New figures from windscreen company, Autoglass show that 4 out of 10 motorists are effectively 'racing' the sat nav ETA and breaking the law in the process. More than 3,000 motorists responded to the survey that also found that 10% of those speeding have already received penalty points or a fine because of their own sat nav 'challenge'. Almost 3 out of 10 (26%) of young drivers aged 25 and under admit that they nearly always challenge themselves to beat the ETA time on the satellite navigation compared with only 1 in 10 (10%) of motorists over the age of 25. 2 out of 10 (17%) 17- 18 year old drivers confessed that they have already received penalty points or a fine for being caught trying to out-do their estimated arrival time by speeding.

Men are much worse than women with 45% of male motorists confessing to challenging the ETA time compared with 30% of female drivers. A quarter (25%) of men admit they are more likely to try and beat the sat nav if they are alone in the vehicle than if they are accompanied with their partner.

The top three UK cities and towns where this craze is most popular are Aberystwyth, Wolverhampton and London.

Toyota Prius III pricing announced (UK)


Toyota UK has announced that its new Prius III will cost from £18,370 for the T3 model, £19,990 for the T4 and £21,210 for the range-topping T-Spirit.

While there is more standard equipment than on the current model, the price of the T3 and T Spirit models stays the same, while the mid-spec T4 has risen by £835.

Entry-level T3 gains head-up display, 'touch tracer' multi-function buttons mounted on steering wheel w/ 6 speaker audio system with CD stereo, smart entry & start, 15 inch alloy wheels, climate control, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) w/ Traction Control, front & rear electric windows, 7 airbags (x2 front, side and curtain including driver's knee airbag), heated door mirrors and fog lamps.

The T4 benefits from the addition of 17 inch alloy wheels, cruise control, leather steering wheel with 8 speaker audio system & Bluetooth, rain-sensing wipers and smart entry and start.

Flagship T-Spirit now features a HDD (hard disk drive) navigation system and music library and an improved intelligent park assist with rear parking camera. Option packs and accessories will be offered, alongside metallic and mica paint. T-Spirit models have the option of a solar panel mounted on the roof of the car to power the cabin ventilation.

Toyota says its Hybrid Synergy Drive now delivers 24% more power, yet the unit is more compact and lighter than before, making the Prius faster. Prius is also more spacious than its predecessor, with more rear head and legroom. The boot is also larger thanks to the smaller hybrid battery unit.

CO2 emissions have been cut to 89g/km from 104g/km and fuel consumption has improved by 10% to 72.4mpg from 65mpg.

The new Prius III will arrive in UK showrooms from the 27th July to the 4th August.

Renault revises Laguna range for 2010 (UK)




Renault has revised the Laguna range for MY2010 by giving the hatch and Sport Tourer models a sporty new look, adopted from the GT. As well as the new look, the Laguna range has had its range simplified to four trims. The sporty GT trim is dropped from the range due to slow sales.

The entry-level Expression boasts 16" alloy wheels, air conditioning, 6 airbags, ESP, 4 electric windows, 3D Sound by Arkamys 4x45W single CD radio with Bluetooth and MP3 connection (RCA socket).

Dynamique gains the 'GT' look: sport front grille, air intakes, smoked rear lights, pearl black door mirrors, twin chrome exhausts (except on 2.0 16V 140 and dCi 110 eco²), dual zone climate control, satin finish centre console, automatic parking brake, rear parking sensors and front fog lights. The TomTom Edition, based on Dynamique, has been designed for company car drivers that includes a new Carminat TomTom navigation system.

Flagship Initiale adds Carminat TomTom full leather upholstery, 17" alloy wheels, electrically adjustable and heated front seats with memory, electrically powered, heated and folding door mirrors, multi-functional TunePoint, opening tailgate window (Sport Tourer), Renault hands free card, xenon directional headlights, front and rear parking sensors and wood interior detailing.

Renault’s Active Drive four-wheel steering system has also been dropped from the Laguna hatch and Sports Tourer, although it continues in the Laguna Coupé, which continues unchanged.

The 1.5 dCi 110 emits 130g/km with combined fuel economy of 57.6mpg. This should give the new Laguna a 745 mile range. The more powerful 2.0 dCi 150 FAP emits 139g/km, down from 158g/km. Both diesel engines earn the Renault’s eco2 label.

Pricing now begins at £16,795 for the 2.0 litre petrol Expressions trim, rising to £25,650 for the flagship 178bhp 2.0 dCi Initiale Sport Tourer.

Scrappage scheme sells 35,000 cars in first 2 weeks (UK)


The UK scrappage scheme has sold 35,000 extra cars since its introduction under two weeks ago, according to the Government. This amounts to more than a tenth of the £300m allocated until March 2010.

Car sales have suffered due to the global downturn and scrappage scheme was announced in the April budget, in a bid to boost the industry. The Government said 1 in 5 orders in the first two weeks of the scheme were scrappage orders. Ministers said they were “very pleased” with the take-up, although the industry remained cautious.

A spokesman for the SMMT said it was important not to get "too over-excited". "We’ve seen indications that some manufacturers have had a positive increase in orders and we are encouraged by what has been announced. However, we would like to leave it a couple of months to see how things develop," said the spokesman.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said: "The scrappage scheme has got off to a flying start. It has given car sales a major boost and offers consumers a great deal. "Even after two weeks, the sales figures are impressive. As it operates on a first come, first served basis and can not last forever, consumers should get in sooner rather than later for these great deals."

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon and SRX pricing announced (U.S)




Two new Cadillac's have been announced for the North American market in Summer. The first is is the all-new 2010 SRX and the other is the CTS Sport Wagon. The two almost play in the same space, but the SRX has 4WD and stands higher than the CTS Sport Wagon.

The SRX will start at $34,155. Cadillac is optimistic about the SRX counting on the fact that about a quarter of all luxury vehicles currently sold in the U.S are crossovers. It will then fit the car with new downsized engines which are said to be more fuel efficient than their predecessors.

"In a tough market," said Steve Shannon, executive director of marketing for Cadillac, "the new SRX and CTS Sport Wagon are the right products at the right time. They offer new dimensions of versatility and fuel efficiency, along with Cadillac's signature design and technical features."

The standard engine in the SRX is a 3.0 litre V6 with direct injection. It's the same one used in the CTS as well. Cadillac says on the highway it will return a figure of 28mpg.

Press Release:

Cadillac Launches Two New Vehicles This Summer

All-new SRX Crossover starts at $34,155

CTS Sport Wagon strengthens CTS model lineup

Cadillac's model lineup expands with two dramatically-designed new luxury vehicles that also bring new dimensions of versatility and efficiency to the marketplace. Cadillac announced today that the 2010 SRX Crossover, scheduled to begin production this summer, will be priced aggressively starting at $34,155.

Later this summer, the acclaimed CTS family will expand again with the arrival of the CTS Sport Wagon. Together with the all-new SRX, these two dynamic new Cadillac models are in sync with the changing priorities of today's luxury consumers.

"In a tough market the new SRX and CTS Sport Wagon are the right products at the right time, says Steve Shannon," executive director of marketing for Cadillac. "They offer new dimensions of versatility and fuel efficiency, along with Cadillac's signature design and technical features."

The all-new SRX launches into the strong luxury crossover vehicle segment, a category that now accounts for nearly one-fourth of all luxury vehicles sold in the U.S market. The SRX features new downsized and fuel efficient engines in a completely redesigned vehicle that delivers a dynamic alternative in terms of visual appeal and driving character.

"We believe the Cadillac SRX offers emotional appeal to a segment previously devoid of much of that," says Shannon. "At the same time, it also has very practical new features such as advanced All-Wheel-Drive, and an efficient standard 3.0-litre Direct Injection V6 engine. And with an entry price of $34,155 the new SRX presents an attractive offer to consumers, while taking on the traditional segment leader aggressively."

The new CTS Sport Wagon offers the same design and technical features of Cadillac's centerpiece model, the CTS sport sedan - but in a wagon body style that effectively doubles the car's cargo space. The new Sport Wagon includes the same 3.0-litre Direct Injection engine that serves as the standard engine in the new SRX. In the Sport Wagon, highway fuel economy is estimated to reach 28 mpg.

Both the new SRX and CTS Sport Wagon will be presented in a special video webcast from one of Cadillac's design studios. Visit www.cadillacstudiolive.com for an inside look at the highlights of both new models.

Kia No3 spied up high














































































Updated: 05/06/09

Kia's latest creation, No3 has been spied undergoing towing testing in Austria. So why No3? Because the vehicle will be the third car in the manufactures car line-up, a little like sister company, Hyundai. The large water filled plastic containers and suitcases are suppose to simulate adult passengers. A concept was unveiled in Geneva back in March at the Geneva motorshow, so spied prototypes bare very close resemblance to the concept.

The new MPV will be based upon the Kia Soul platform - which is shared with the current Rio and Hyundai i20 but will also underpin the next Rio supermini.

The "YN" is likely to use Kia's 1.6 litre petrol and diesel engines and a 1.2 litre petrol engine, taken of the Hyundai i20 and even a 2.0 litre petrol. To cut CO2 emissions, stop&start will be offered after its launch. Expect right-hand drive sales in February 2010, after an Autumn 2009 debut. Prices are estimated to start at around £11,000 - £13,500, on par with rival's such as the Citroen C3 Picasso, Nissan Note, Vauxhall/Opel Meriva, Renault Modus, FIAT Qubo and Skoda Roomster. For your money, front fog lights, body-coloured electrically adjustable & heated door mirrors, sliding rear seats, leather steering wheel with audio controls, tilt adjustable steering wheel, drivers seat height adjustment, air conditioning, alloy wheels and a panoramic glass sunroof will be some of the features as standard.

Monday, 25 May 2009

2009 Vauxhall/Opel Insignia VXR/OPC completes 10,000km testing (DE)







The German car maker, Opel said that all vehicles in its OPC lineup (VXR in UK) complete 10,000km (6,219 mile) testing around the 12.9 miles Nordschleife, Nurburgring before they go on sale. While there are no lap times disclosed, the company said that a few days ago, the Insignia OPC completed its 10,000km challenge with no problems.

"The Insignia OPC sedan raced 487 laps for 12 days at some top speeds flawlessly. This kind of performance and quality is what we expect from all our Opel cars," said Hans Demant, Managing Director of Opel.

Over the next few days, the Insignia Sports Tourer OPC will also complete its final 10,000km testing around the Nordschleife. Both models boast a 325bhp, 2.8 litre V6 turbo engine with Adaptive 4x4 and an electronic rear limited slip differential (eLSD) with purpose-built Brembo brakes. The OPC/VXR models are due to go on sale in Europe during Summer time.

Big cat spied with new camoflague












While this prototype could be mistaken for a BMW 7 Series mule, it is in fact the all-new 2010 Jaguar XJ. Spied in Germany, engineers have finally ditched fake body-panels in favour for thin psychedelic disguise. Design boss, Ian Callum recently said they spend ages creating camo on CAD in the studio to make sure it a: effectively hides the car and b: doesn't affect airflow and cooling of items on test.

Before the new sedan's official launch in Autumn, we will see the XJ on 9th July 2009 at a special unveiling in London, followed by a show debut at the forthcoming Frankfurt motor show.

With aluminum construction, the X351 (XJ) will be the lightest luxury sedan in its class. Mate the aluminum construction and the pop-up JaguarDrive gear selector together with the latest 3.0D and 5.0 litre V8 engines and you'll have a powerful sedan with good fuel economy and low CO2 emissions, with the diesel set to emit less than 192g/km.

A new option on the options list will be a panoramic glass sunroof. UK deliveries start early 2010.

New Car: 2009 Volkswagen Golf Estate facelift











This is the all-new revised Golf Estate. The new model has the option of two diesel and four petrol engines. New to the estate’s engine line-up is a 101bhp 1.6 litre CR TDI, which VW says is both quiet and has low emissions of 119g/km CO2 and joins a 2.0 litre TDI. There are also four petrol engines ranging from 77bhp to 156bhp.

Two new driver assistance systems are available as options for the first time on the estate; Park Assist and Rear Assist.

While order books have been opened in Germany for 3 days now, UK deliveries of the new Golf Estate will start early next year in the UK with prices starting at around £15,000. German prices start at €18,500.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Buyers exchange rare cars for new vehicles (UK)


Kia UK has taken more than 4,000 orders for new cars thanks to the scrappage scheme with vehicles including a rare 1965 Bond Equipe heading for the crusher. The company said that 76% of the new cars will be the Picanto, which starts at just £5995. Cars include a Porsche 944, Subaru Impreza Turbo and a number of Land Rover Defenders.

A spokeswoman said: “We are doing very well thanks to the scrappage scheme, especially on the Picanto and Rio.”

Hyundai had also announced that its dealers have taken 4,000 deposits on new cars during the first week of the apparently successful scrappage scheme. During the week, dealers even saw a selection of luxury cars being traded in including a Jaguar XJ-S for an i10 and an XJ6 for an i20. Hyundai also claimed dealers traded in 34 BMWs, 22 Audis and 32 Mercedes' cars and vans. Customers also traded in six Mazda MX-5s, seven MGFs and several Saabs.

Hyundai said total customer orders and deposits during the week reached 5,200. The most common cars to be traded in were the Nissan Micra with 200 and the Ford Escort with 126.

"We're geared up for scrappage scheme. We took a risk and ordered 3,000 i10s and i20s before the scheme was finalised. We have a boat in this week with another 800 models and another one coming soon so there's no shortage," said a spokesman.

Other companies have reported large numbers of orders from the scheme, which started at the beginning of this week.

General Motors said it had taken around 2,000 orders for models across its range and reported strong demand. Ford has taken more than 3,000 extra orders from first-time customers since the scheme was announced and said dealers were seeing a healthy amount of interest.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Volkswagen Touareg BlueMotion announced (DE)


Volkswagen adds a new BlueMotion model to their range. The fuel-efficient Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDI has already begun sales. With a 10% reduction in fuel consumption, the new BlueMotion vehicle achieves around 34mpg combined.

The currently available VW Touareg V6 TDI will start at €50,450, while a special edition "North Sails" model begins at €59,500. If the current North Sails edition is any indication, the new version should also get Nappa leather seats, and Alcantara headliner. Designed in part by boat sail manufacturer North Sails, the current edition gets better fuel economy than its base model.

New Car: 2009 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo











BMW's all-new 5 Series GT has been revealed.

The GT will get sliding rears seats to either increase legroom or luggage space, upto a maximum of 1,700 litres with the seats down and under the rear hatch with a small trap door for easy access to the trunk.

BMW has announced 3 different engine variants to start in the GT with. The 3.0 litre turbo-diesel, 530d Gran Turismo, with 245bhp and 540 Nm of torque with a fuel economy of 43.5mpg combined and CO2 emissions of 173g/km. This will be the best seller in the UK. Petrol engines start from the 3.0 V6, 535i Gran Turismo with 306bhp and 400Nm of torque. This has combined fuel economy of 31.7mpg and pumps out 209g/km. Lastly, the slowest seller will be the 4.4 litre twin-turbo V8. With 407bhp and 600Nm of torque, this heavily dents fuel economy at 25.2mpg and emits 263g/km of CO2. Mated to these engines will be a new 8-speed automatic transmission, so far only featured in the 760i V12.

The GT's suspension is made mostly of aluminum, with BMW's unique Integral-V rear axle and a double track control arm for the front. Dynamic Drive Control is standard which, along with the optional Adaptive Drive, works with the air suspension at the back and the infinitely variable dampers to assure the most black-bear-climbing-a-tree-like traction and control.

Available on the GT will also be BMW's usual range of technologically including the iDrive with a 10.2 inch screen display, BMW ConnectDrive, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Warning, side, back and top view camera.

The 5 Series GT goes on sale in October with a starting price tag of £40,000.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Revised Toyota RAV4 available to order now (UK)


From today, the facelifted RAV4 SUV can be ordered from your local Toyota dealer. The RAV4 has updated looks, new engines and the option of 2WD.

Exterior revisions are subtle, but new lights (front & rear), bumpers, front grille, door mirrors and alloy wheels freshen the look. The biggest changes are under the bonnet with two new engines and the option of a front-wheel-drive model.

A new 2.0-litre Valvematic engine replaces the previous 2.0 VVT-i as the petrol option with a new CVT automatic gearbox as standard. Power is up from 150bhp to 156bhp and CO2 emissions are cut from 212g/km to 177g/km, while average fuel economy is 20% better at 37.7mpg combined. The 2.0-litre diesel model has also been updated. Power is increased by 14bhp to 148bhp with CO2 emissions are down from 173g/km to 154g/km, making the RAV4 the cleanest SUV in its class. Fuel economy is up from 44.1mpg to 48.7mpg combined.

For the first time, the RAV4 will also be offered with the combination of a diesel engine and an automatic gearbox. The pairing with the new 6 speed auto gearbox will result in CO2 emissions of 189g/km. The other big news is the introduction of a front wheel drive model. Available with a 6 speed manual gearbox and the 2.0-litre petrol engine, it achieves 38.2mpg and emits 174g/km of CO2.

The XT-R and SR trims continue, with SR reserved for the automatic diesel model. Standard equipment include 17" alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control air conditioning, Bluetooth, automatic lights and wipers, auxiliary input socket, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors with power-fold. All 4WD models get heated leather seats with electrical adjustment for the driver. Prices start at £18,995 rising to £25,295. The revised RAV4 is available to order now, with deliveries expected to start in September.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

2010 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost pricing announced (U.S)


Lincoln announced prices on the 2010 MKS mid-sized sedan with Ecoboost, starting at $47,760, excluding destination and delivery.

The 2010 Lincoln MKS is the first Ford Motor Company group vehicle to receive the new 3.5 litre EcoBoost V6 engine for the 2010 model year. This engine is powered by two small turbos that starts up quickly in order to reduce the much-dreaded turbo lag problem. The two spinners are designed to last 150,000 miles or 10 years. Peak power comes to 355hp and maximum torque is 350 ft-lb (475Nm) made between 1,500rpm and 5,250rpm. Despite all that power, Ford said the 4WD MKS will return at least 17mpg in town driving and 24mpg in motorway driving.

The car comes fitted with 19-inch aluminium wheels, rain-sensing wipers, xenon adaptive headlamps, electric rear windscreen sunshade, steering wheel paddle shifters for the 6-speed automatic transmission, push button start system and ambient lighting.

€23,000 blows out of Audi cabriolet (DE)


A motorway in Hanover, Germany had to be closed yesterday after more than £20,000 blew off the back seat of an Audi A3 Cabriolet that was being test driven. The driver is reported to have arrived at the Audi garage in Hanover with the cash in an envelope ready to buy the car. Deciding to take one more test drive before buying the car, he set off with the envelope on the back seat of the car. Unfortunately, the envelope blew open and €23,000 or £20,600 flew from the car into the path of oncoming motorists.

Police closed the road in both directions for half an hour to search for the missing money and all but 3,000 euros or £2,665 was recovered. Subsequently, the police have warned the public against scavenging along the motorway for the missing notes, pointing out that it would be illegal to keep them.

The driver of the Audi however, may have to cough up more money since the police are considering charging him for their time. It is not known if he went on to buy the car.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

New Car: 2009 Vauxhall/Opel Astra























General Motors has taken the wraps off the new Astra, despite the uncertainty surrounding the future of Opel and Vauxhall.

The sixth-generation Astra is all-new and shares nothing with the current model; the platform is new and the engine line-up has been lifted from the Insignia and Corsa range.

The first car to be launched at the Frankfurt motorshow in September will be the 5 door hatch which is expected to account for 60% of overall Astra sales. Joining the 5 door next year will be an estate. 2011 will bring the 3 door Sport Hatch model with its coupé-like styling, 3dr VXR and a possible Astra based SUV.

Like the current model, the coupe styling will be very different from the 5 door. Wider rear wings, a lower roofline and a different front-end design with larger intakes will set the 3 door apart and the blade design in the car’s flanks has been reversed to sit behind the front wings, in the style of the Insignia.

One model will not be replaced, at least immediately. There won’t be a new Twin Top coupé-cabriolet model; instead, GM will continue to make the current car well into the new Astra’s life cycle.

The new Astra is larger than the current model, mainly because of more stringent crash legislation. At 4,400mm long, it has grown by 110mm, but the wheelbase has also increased by 71mm to 2,685mm, which improves legroom for the occupants.

Underneath is General Motors’ new Delta platform, launched earlier this year in the Chevrolet Cruze and due to form the basis for another four cars. The Astra does not have multi-link rear suspension, instead, there’s a reworked version of the Astra’s clever torsion beam set-up, originally engineered by Lotus. That means the new Astra will not be able to match the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf’s more sophisticated multi-link rear axles, but Vauxhall claims the new suspension takes the Astra’s ride comfort “into a different league”. The car also gets wider front and rear tracks, which Vauxhall claims will help improve stability and agility.

The Astra will also be available with a version of the Insignia’s FlexRide system — an electronic damper control programme — with the same Standard, Sport and Tour settings. Other Insignia carryover technology includes the Adaptive Forward Lighting system, which adjusts the headlight beam according to weather conditions and road layout, and the road sign recognition system.

The Astra will be the first GM product to use a new 1.4 litre 4 cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which replaces the current car’s 1.8 litre engine. The 1364cc engine has the same output as the 1.8, with 138bhp but has 170lb ft of torque, which will give it a diesel-like surge but with petrol engine responses. The other advantage is 10% better fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared with the 1.8; that equates to around 44mpg and 160g/km. The rest of the petrol engine range will include a 99bhp 1.4 (not related to the new turbo unit) and a 177bhp turbocharged 1.6, that is shared with the Insignia. There will be four diesels: 1.3 litre with 94bhp, 1.7 with 108bhp and two 2.0 litre units, shared with the Insignia, with 128bhp and 157bhp. An Ecoflex model will go on sale next year, with a version of the current car’s 1.7-litre diesel. A GM source suggested that the car could produce less than 100g/km of CO2.

The interior will be heavily influenced by the Insignia’s cabin, the Astra has a similar centre console, wrap-around fascia and instrument pod with four individual dials. Much of the switchgear on the centre console is from the Insignia, along with the climate control panel.
GM Europe’s blade design theme, used on the Astra’s rear wings, is repeated in the door trims (and the rear lights).

The Astra goes on sale in December. Pricing has yet to be confirmed but expect the entry-level 1.4 litre 5 door to undercut the entry-level 3 door Focus.

Press Release:

2010 Vauxhall Astra Press Release:

Set to replicate current Astra’s success as best-selling British-built car

Bold, distinctive exterior design matched with spacious, premium-feel cabin

All new chassis with adaptive damping will raise bar in class for comfort & handling

These are the first official images of the new, British-built Vauxhall Astra, which will debut as a five-door hatchback at this September’s Frankfurt Show and will appear in UK showrooms at the end of the year.

Marking the sixth generation of Astra in 30 years, the new car’s design team was led by Mark Adams, the British designer responsible for last year’s European Car of the Year-winning Vauxhall Insignia.

With its strong, cab-forward silhouette, steeply-raked windscreen and sloping rear roofline, the new Astra makes ingenious use of many of the design features found in the Insignia, but in a fresh and innovative way. Also like the Insignia, it has spent over 600 hours in the wind tunnel, benefiting performance, economy and overall refinement.

“We’re continuing with the same premium design cues as the Insignia, inside and out of the car,” said Adams, Vice President of GM Europe Design. “However, the main design themes, like the wing-shaped light signatures and the blade, needed an individual execution to avoid ‘cloning’ the model ranges. This is why, for instance, you see twin wings in the rear lights and a reversed blade on its flanks.”

Underpinning the Astra’s rakish, 4.4 metre-length body, is an all-new chassis with a 71 millimetre-longer wheelbase, benefiting both passenger comfort and packaging. Wider tracks front and rear feature, as does a new rear axle design, which not only improves stability and agility, but takes the Astra’s ride comfort into a different league.

Enhancing the Astra’s dynamic performance still further is the option of Vauxhall’s clever FlexRide system, a rarity in this sector which offers drivers three unique damper settings – standard, sport and tour – while being fully adaptive to changes in driving style and cornering speed.

Pictures of the new Astra’s interior will be released soon, but in the meantime expect similar strides in quality to those found in the Insignia, combined with big improvements in packaging, seat design and in-cabin storage. Mark Adams’ unique wrap-round dash treatment will also appear in the Astra, but with a different take on that found in the Insignia.

Unique in this sector will be the Astra’s optional, latest generation AFL (Adaptive Forward Lighting), which features bi-xenon lighting that changes its intensity and reach to suit prevailing road conditions. A similar system was introduced on the Insignia, and is now recognised as one of the most advanced systems available.

The highlight of the new Astra’s powertrain line-up is the introduction of an all-new, 140PS turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol unit, which builds on Vauxhall’s commitment to engine downsizing and reduced emissions/fuel consumption, while retaining the performance of a larger capacity vehicle. The 1.4T joins three further petrol engines, which range from 100PS to 180PS, and four diesel engines ranging from 95PS to 160PS. All engines are Euro 5 compliant.

“The only part of the Astra which isn’t new is its name,” said Andy Gilson, Vauxhall’s Marketing Director. “And that name currently accounts for around 30 per cent of all Vauxhall’s car sales, with the five-door hatch taking 60 per cent of those sales alone – so it’s important to lead with this body style. Not only is the Astra a crucial new model for Vauxhall, but we’re confident that its blend of dynamic design, new-to-class technology and immense driver appeal will attract an even broader spectrum of buyers in this sector.”
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