Sunday 28 June 2009

Kia Cee'd facelift spied at the 'Ring

The Cee'd has sown. Since it's introduction back in 2006, over 200,000 units have been sold, so it was about time for a facelift. Spies on the Nurburgring snapped these photos of the Kia Cee'd facelift. Primarily for the European market, the Cee'd was designed in Frankfurt, Germany and is manufactured in Slovakia.

These pictures show the Cee'd mule with a few new design features. The bonnet is now more sculpted, leading to the top radiator grille, while the grille itself is now revised to keep in check with the future Kia line-up. It is very likely the grille will resemble the tiger grille, first seen on the Soul crossover. The headlights also appear to be more rounded off. The lower section of the front bumper will include heavily redesigned fog-lamp housing and lower grille. At the rear, expected revised tail-lights, boot door and bumper.

Alongside the remodelled fascias, the alloy wheels will also change. Door mirrors have been revised and are now much larger with indicators built in.

Inside, judging by the leaked pictures, the new Cee'd will have an upgraded centre console with new air-conditioning and audio controls and their respective LCD screens, while other changes include the restyled instrument panel gauges, 3 spoke steering wheel and the redesigned lower part of the centre console.

While the hatchback will be the first model to receive the changes, next year will see the Pro_Cee'd and Cee'd SW adopting the same features. Look out for the freshened 2010 Kia Cee'd at the Frankfurt motorshow in September, before going on sale shortly after.

Friday 26 June 2009

Toyota Auris hybrid due in Autumn

Toyota will launch a hybrid version of its Auris hatchback this Autumn and the car will be built in the UK at the Burnaston factory in Derbyshire. The Auris Hybrid Synergy Drive will share its petrol-electric drivetrain with the new Prius — so that means it has a 98bhp 1.8-litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine and an 80bhp electric motor. It will cost less, partly because it is a smaller car and partly because it will be less well equipped. The Auris will give Toyota a more direct rival for the Honda Insight, although Toyota’s hybrid system is more sophisticated than its rival’s.

The lower weight and smaller size could make the Auris hybrid Toyota’s cleanest model when it is launched at this autumn’s Frankfurt show, undercutting the new Prius' 87g/km of CO2.
The hybrid Auris launch will follow the arrival of the new Prius this month and will in turn be followed by a RAV4 hybrid.

The three models are all built on the same platform; they are part of a strategy aimed at boosting Toyota’s annual hybrid sales to a 1m units. The firm’s wider aim is to base its image on offering models with strong environmental credentials.

Peugeot warns about scrappage schemes (EU)

PSA Peugeot-Citroen has warned governments that halting scrappage scheme could prove disastrous.

The group warned that it could lose €2bn (£1.7bn) this year and have to scale back production in the fourth quarter of this year, if Europe-wide scrappage schemes start to be curtailed.

France was the first of the 12 European countries to launch the scrappage scheme as part of a €6bn (£5.1bn) car industry bailout and will decide in January whether to continue. Many expect the government to reduce the €1,000 (£851) trade-in incentive in stages.

The German government, which has the most generous scheme, says it is 'weighing its options'. Peugeot issued the warning at the same time as announcing a convertible bond issue of up to €575m (£489m).

PSA Peugeot Citroen recorded a €343m (£292m) net loss in 2008, said the capital raised from the bond issue would go towards “general financing needs”, development projects and the extension of the maturity of its existing debt.

Peugeot received a €3bn (£2.6bn) long-term loan from the French government in March and a €400m (£340m) four-year loan from the European Investment Bank in April.

Hyundai hikes prices on 2010 MY i20 (UK)

Although the i20 supermini has been on sale just under 4 months now, Hyundai UK has already hiked prices by £250 across the range. The entry-level model now starts from £8,445 for the 3dr 1.2 litre petrol engined Classic model, up from £8,195 for the MY09 i20.

So what can justify the £250 increase? Well, the life-saving ESP is now standard across the range alongside a silver effect centre console, which was standard on the MY09 i20 Style. All trim-levels are also available in 3dr.

Car manufactures fight for air con ban (EU)

Auto industry group, ACEA want the EU to delay the agreed 2011 ban on certain chemicals in air-conditioning systems. ACEA feels its members have not had enough time to develop new systems, which wouldn’t feature climate-damaging chemicals such as R134a.

The ruling was passed in 2006 and a legal loophole was closed in April which would have allowed ACEA members to avoid the ban until 2017. An ACEA letter to the European Commission said: “Car manufacturers need sufficient lead-time of at least 2 - 3 years past 1st January 2011 to adjust to the changed situation. “ACEA requests that the Commission work with the member states to find a pragmatic solution.”

Last year, ACEA successfully lobbied the EU into delaying an EU plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from cars.

It is estimated that manufacturers would need to invest an extra £35 to £170 per car to meet the new requirements, an expense they would be unwilling to pass onto consumers in the current economic climate.

Buy a Maserati for €230

Maserati fans can now buy a personalised Quattroporte, Quattroporte S, and GranTurismo S for just €230 (£194). As ever, if the deal sounds too good to be true then it probably is - in this case, that's because the cars in question are 1/43 scale models. However, for your money you do get an extremely detailed hand-built model.

Buyers can choose from seven exterior and two interior colours, five different brake caliper colours, two different kinds of rims, and select a sunroof which is made of glass. You can also have a personalised numberplate written in one of four fonts.

The price includes shipping within 30 days of your order and the model can be returned free of charge if you aren't happy with it.

Renault Clio Campus production continues

The success of the scrappage scheme across Europe has led Renault to increase production of its Clio Campus budget supermini.

The Clio Campus is made at its Flins factory near Paris and production has now been extended to December 2009, a move which will result in an extra 4,000 cars being built. Renault had originally planned to shift Campus production to its Novo Mesto factory in Slovenia but demand for the facelifted second generation Clio has remained strong.

Renault was quick to state the move has been motivated by market conditions and not political motives, despite receiving a €3bn (£2.5billion) state loan in exchange for commitments to maintain manufacturing and employment in France.

Renault sold 4,429 Clio Campuses in May and it has sold 29,350 units in the first 5 months on 2009.

Thursday 25 June 2009

Lexus IS-C pricing announced (UK)

Lexus has confirmed pricing for the upcoming IS 250C, which goes on sale in the UK next month.

In the base SE-I trim, the Lexus IS 250C starts at £34,550. To have the SE-I fitted with the Lexus Navigation system costs an extra £2,200. Prices start at £43,250 for the flagship SE-L model equipped with the Lexus Multimedia Pack.

BMW set to introduce 7 Series AWD

BMW is planning to introduce all-wheel-drive powertrains on its 7 Series sedan with the first models featuring the new technology later this year. The four-wheel-drive 7 Series will make its debut at the Frankfurt motorshow in September and for many it is a long overdue development.

It will carry BMW's xDrive tag and will initially be available only in the 407bhp 750i version but may feature in more petrol variants. There are no plans for an all-wheel-drive diesel 7 Series however. The AWD 7 Series is also likely to feature electronic 'Hill-Descent' control and the cars will have increased ride-heights and special underbody protection. AWD will add around £2,000 on to the asking price over the rear-wheel-drive variants and it will increase fuel consumption by about 1-2mpg.

Sunday 21 June 2009

Porsche unable to pay debt

Porsche is so deeply in debt that it has requested a €1.75bn loan (£1.5bn) from the German state bank KfW, according to reports from Germany.

Porsche is weighed down by debts of €9bn (£7.6bn), an overhang from the sports car maker’s audacious attempt to takeover the whole VW Group. In recent days Porsche boss, Wendelin Wiedeking has written to union boss Bertold Huber and VW Group chairman Ferdinand Piech, warning them not to discuss Porsche’s debt problems in public. Wiedeking is said to be fearful that Porsche could be refused the loan. Porsche is also currently discussing selling a stake in itself to the Qatar Investment Authority to relive its debt problems. If that sale is a success, Porsche will then probably merge with the wider VW Group.

In the meantime, however, Porsche also runs the risk of VW stock prices collapsing, which could, in turn, force Porsche to make high-value cash payouts to investors. Despite having to finance its debts and the effects of the global financial meltdown, Porsche says that it will return pre-tax profits. However, analysts say that much of gain was from Porsche’s stock market speculation on VW share price. Many in the city have described Porsche as a ‘hedge fund with a automotive subsidiary’.

Over the last 9 months Porsche’s automotive sales have dropped 28% to 53,635 units, with the Boxster and Cayman particularly affected by the global turndown. However, turnover was down by only 15% to €4.6bn (£3.91m) underlining that sales of higher-end Porsches have not been the hardest hit.

Porsche claims that its profit margins just missed being ‘in double figures’. Over the last decade, Porsche has returned profit margins variously between 13 and 20%, which were by far the highest in the global auto industry.

Toyota increases Prius III production (JP)

In order to cope with temporary Japanese demand, the Toyota Prius III will have its production increased at the two Japanese plants where it’s built.

Weekend shifts and overtime are likely to be offered to workers at its Tsutsumi and Fujimatsu factories as the Japanese firm aims to boost production above the current daily output of 2,300 units, but Toyota denied reports that it was planning to produce the Prius at Toyota and GM’s shared U.S Nimmu factory, where the discontinued Pontiac Vibe is produced.

A Toyota spokesman said: “We are planning to produce the Prius III at the Mississippi plant once the U.S market recovers and we are not considering production at Nummi.”

The Prius III became Japan's best-selling car when it went on sale last month, with sales of almost 11,000 units.

Skoda Fabia Scout pricing announced (UK)

Skoda has launched the Fabia Scout in the UK, with a price tag of £12,815 with a choice of one petrol and two diesel engines. The Scout is marketed as an urban cruiser and key styling features include protective body mouldings, 16" alloy wheels, silver roof rails and distinctive upholstery.

Prices start at £12,815 for the 1.4 16V petrol with 85bhp. The available diesel engines are the 1.9 TDI 105bhp and the 1.4 TDI 80bhp. The 1.4 TDI delivers 61.4mpg combined whilst emitting 120g/km of CO2.

The front-wheel-drive Fabia Scout is based on a Fabia 2 and comes with equipment like cruise control, ESP, sunset glass, x4 electric windows, 8 speakers, leather steering wheel with small leather pack, alloy pedals and front armrest. Options include a variable boot floor (£120) and 17" alloy wheels (£300). A hatchback variant will go on sale next year.

No car recovery before 2011 (EU)

Renault, Nissan and Infiniti CEO, Carlos Ghosn has said he doesn’t expect a recovery for the European car market before 2011, unless the scrappage scheme is extended. The global economic turndown has badly dented European car sales and has led to several nations introducing the scrappage scheme.

Ghosn said: “I don't see it (a recovery) in Europe before 2011. I see 2010 at the same level of 2009, with ups and downs. “If scrapping incentives were to continue for a while, it would be a different story. Stopping the incentives would have a recessionary impact.”

Ghosn also said that he expected the U.S car market to recover sooner, possibly by the end of 2009.

2010 Skoda Fabia vRS details revealed

A senior Skoda executive has revealed the next Fabia vRS will only be available with a DSG gearbox and that a conventional manual will not be an option.

The eagerly awaited Fabia vRS follow-up will also be powered by a petrol engine and should boast 'upwards of 170bhp' said the insider. This means it should be substantially quicker than the old model and sprint to 60mph in less than 8 seconds and with a top speed of 140mph.

The decision to fit the DSG and not offer a conventional manual has been taken on performance and emissions grounds. The new Fabia vRS has also been confirmed to go on sale in June 2010 with prices expected to start at around £16,000.

First ever Bugatti Veyron for sale

The first ever production model of the Bugatti Veyron has been put up for sale. The Veyron is being sold at a dealership in Beverly Hills, California for $2.4m (£1.5m) and it reportedly has just 400 miles on the tachometer.

However, the owner is clearly looking to make money, as a new Veyron, of which only 300 will be produced, costs around £850,000. The low mileage should mean the Veyron, with its #001 production number, is in mint condition. The car has 987bhp and travels from 0-62mph in 2.46 seconds. Power comes for its 8.0-litre W16 engine, which can produce 922lb ft of torque.

Thursday 18 June 2009

Renault Megane Sports Tourer pricing announced (UK)

Renault has confirmed prices and full specification details for its new Megane Sports Tourer.

The estate costs £950 more than the 5 door hatchback, with the entry-level 1.6 litre 100 Expression costing £15,485 and the 2.0 dCi 150 Auto topping the range at £22,785.

Expression trim includes air-conditioning, front, side and curtain airbags, stability control, folding front passenger seat, four electric windows and roof bars.

Dynamique adds 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic lights and wipers, Bluetooth and MP3 connection and leather steering wheel trim. The TomTom Edition is based on Dynamique trim, but adds Renault's fully integrated Carminat TomTom satellite-navigation system for an additional £360. Buying it as an option would normally cost £450.

Privilege models includes dual-zone climate control, electric folding door mirrors and a rear armrest with storage.

Options include 17" alloy wheels for £300, an automatic parking brake for £150, leather upholstery for £900 and front and rear parking sensors for £400.

The Renault Megane Sport Tourer is available to order from 29th June and is expected to be in showrooms in August.

Infiniti EX & G37 pricing announced (UK)

Today, Infiniti confirmed pricing and specifications on the EX SUV that is available in two trims, the EX37 and the EX37 GT with prices set at £35,200 and £36,500 OTR respectively, following the announcement of the FX large SUV.

Both EX models are equipped with a standard all-wheel drive system biased towards the rear wheels and a 320bhp 3.7-litre V6 engine mated to 7 speed automatic transmission with Adaptive Shift Control that launches the compact SUV from 0 to 62mph in 6.4 seconds.

Standard features for both trim levels include self healing paint, electric folding rear seats, 18" alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, Bluetooth, adaptive xenon headlamps with LED rear-lights, electrically adjustable front seats, iPod connection and rear privacy glass.

EX37GT adds full leather upholstery, 10 way heated electrically adjustable driver's seat, door mirrors and steering column with memory and a coat hanger integrated in the driver headrest.

The G37 range will cost from £30,300 when it also goes on sale in the UK from September.

Three bodystyles will be offered – saloon, coupe and convertible – with a choice of 4WD and 2WD. There is one engine option, a 315bhp 3.7-litre V6, which is mated to either a 6 speed manual or 7 speed auto gearbox with paddle shift. The saloon and coupe accelerate to 62mph in 5.8 seconds and 6.2 seconds for the folding hard-top cabriolet, while all models are limited to 155mph.

The G37 gets a adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, Bluetooth, 18-inch alloys (19-inch for the cabrio), electrically adjustable front seats and steering column with integrated instrument binnacle, front and rear parking sensors and cruise control.

The convertible also gets leather trim, heated seats, rear parking camera, wind deflector and Infiniti’s Connectiviti system.

OTR prices start at £30,300 for the G37 Saloon, £31,950 for the G37 Coupe and £38,900 for the G37 convertible.

Vauxhall/Opel could cut 40% of prices

GM's European division, Vauxhall & Opel may have to make huge discounts on their models in order to sell enough cars to save jobs in Germany and meet the terms of the €1.5 billion short-term loans promised by Berlin. Simon Empson, managing director at (a UK based online new car broker), said that Vauxhall and Opel may even have to slash prices by "40% or more" to meet their sales targets.

Several analysts agree that due to the nature of the deal, Canadian car parts maker Magna International, which is leading a group of investors negotiating for the acquisition of the Opel brand, may very well focus on raising production rather than on generating profits.

"Everybody is looking to generate cash and the quickest but not necessarily the most effective way is to discount," said Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Research at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany. "Peugeot, Renault and Ford need to make sure they don't fall by the wayside."

60,000 benefit from scrappage scheme (UK)

Following the U.S scrappage scheme announcement, new Government figures have revealed that 60,000 UK car buyers have placed orders under the scrappage scheme.

The scheme offers new car buyers a £2,000 discount if they scrap a vehicle that is at least 10 years old. However, some manufacturers are offering extra incentives to boost sales. Nissan extending its £2,000 scrappage scheme to include eight-year-old Nissan models.

The scrappage scheme was announced at the end of April and the latest figures cover orders from then until 7th June. Although the signs are positive, figures from SMMT earlier this month showed sales of new cars are still down by a quarter compared to the same time last year.

In related news, the Government's scrappage incentive scheme looks set to shake up the UK sales charts when June's registration figures are released next month, according to leaks from inside the motor industry.

The SMMT won't issue the official figures until early July, but according to multiple well-placed sources, Hyundai is currently outselling Vauxhall on retail sales, those made to customers parting with their own money. If the Korean company can continue its strong performance to the end of the month it looks set to take the number two spot behind Ford.

Toyota, Suzuki and Kia are also doing extremely well on the unofficial mid-month figures, benefiting from strong demand for the cheaper cars in their ranges.

Hyundai's strong showing comes on the back of a stellar performance in May when the company's UK sales increased by 37% against an overall fall in the market of 25%, and the company says it's biggest problem now is getting enough stock to satisfy demand, with dealers quoting a two-month wait for the i10.

Vauxhall's substantial fleet business means that there's little chance it will end the month lagging behind Hyundai in overall sales numbers but the Korean company's increasing market share - which looks certain to put it into the UK's top 10 car manufacturers on overall annual sales - is certain to cause alarm among rival makers.

Citroën C5 & C6 get new 3.0 HDi V6 diesel engine

Citroën has announced new details about their advanced 240bhp 3.0-litre HDi V6 diesel engine, which will be introduced in the C5 and C6 this Summer.

Despite being more powerful than its predecessor, the 208bhp 2.7-litre HDi, the new engine boasts a 13-17% improvement in fuel efficiency and a 12-15% reduction in CO2 emissions. The Euro V compliant engine also features a piloted alternator which recovers energy during deceleration and braking, a diesel particulate filter system and Citroën's third generation of common-rail direct injection.

Thanks to all these improvements, the 3.0 HDi C5 and C6 get 38 mpg combined with CO2 emissions of 195g/km.

Thursday 11 June 2009

Infiniti FX pricing announced (UK)

The Infiniti FX SUV will cost from £42,600 when it goes on sale in September. The FX is already the best-selling Infiniti vehicle out of the range across Europe.

The base FX37 GT is powered by a 316bhp V6 petrol engine which accelerates from 0-62mph in 6.8sec and has a top speed of 145mph. It has 266lb ft of pulling power and averages 23.4mpg, whilst spewing out 282g/km of CO2. A 7-speed semi-automatic gearbox is fitted as standard.

The mid-range FX37S costs from £44,600. For the additional £2,000 buyers get Continuous Damping Control, electrically-adjustable driver's seat, sports front seats, 21-inch alloy wheels, performance tyres and a dark chrome exterior trim.

The range-topping FX50S will cost from £53,800. That £9,200 premium over the FX37S adds a 385bhp 5.0 litre V8 petrol engine, rear active steering, 360 degree cameras, cruise control, intelligent brake assist and a tyre pressure monitoring system. The V8 has 369lb ft of torque, accelerating the FX50 from 0-62mph in 5.8sec and on to a limited top speed of 155mph. It averages 21.7mpg and produces 310g/km of CO2.

Buyers also get Infiniti's Connectiviti+ package as standard, which includes a 30GB hard disk sat-nav, 8" touchscreen display, 10GB of music storage and a DVD player. Other options for the FX range include 360 degree cameras at £850, a sat-nav system at £1,700 and a Bose sound system for £600.

Infiniti also says that it will offer customers an unrivalled sales experience. It describes its showrooms as having "the ambiance of a boutique hotel rather than a traditional car showroom."
The first Infiniti Centre will open in Reading in September, and 12 in total are expected to open over the next two years.

Customers will be able to have their cars picked up and serviced once a year, provided they live within 150 miles of a Centre.

Renault imports stopped in China (CN)

The cheek of the Chinese Government. From a country that allows Chinese made cars with 2 Euro NCAP stars to be shipped worldwide, this is rich coming off them.

China's quality inspection agency has halted the import of several models made by Renault, citing serious safety risks and a failure to meet technical standards - maybe the vehicles have too many airbags?

The General Administration of Quality Supervision Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) said the ban applied to the Renault Laguna, Scenic, Megane and Megane Coupe-Cabriolet.

A statement on the AQSIQ website read: "In recent import inspections, we have repeatedly found batches of passenger vehicles made by the French Renault ... do not conform with our country's mandatory standards and relevant technical regulations, and there are serious safety risks." It added that, in the past year, Renault cars "have many times revealed quality problems."

The statement, however, did not specify what safety problems it had identified. China is the world's largest market for new car sales, although Renault report sales of less than 1,000 cars there in 2008.

All four cars cited by AQSIQ has earned 5 Euro NCAP stars in crash tests. It added that, in the past year, Renault cars "have many times revealed quality problems."

A Renault spokesman said: "There have been some issues on a limited number of cars in China. We are sending a team of experts to China to investigate and consult with the authorities."

Get $4,500 through the scrappage scheme (U.S)

American car buyers are to be given tax-funded new car vouchers worth up to $4,500 depending on how fuel-efficient the car they are buying is.

Supporters have pushed for the measure to stimulate car sales and accelerate sales of fuel-efficient cars. In May, overall U.S car sales were 34% lower than a year ago. Opponents have criticised the fact that the bill has failed to include incentives for used vehicles and represented an artificial incentive for the industry.

"It's defying the laws of economics and saying we can manufacture enough of a demand to keep the auto industry afloat," said Republican representative Jeff Flake.

Finance has been put in place to support around a million car sales, although a separate bill to provide another $1 billion in funding for the scheme has been proposed. The annual U.S car sales projection for 2009 is 9.5 million, down from 13.5 million in 2008.

Under the plans, car owners would get a voucher worth $3,500 if they traded in a vehicle getting 18mpg or less for one getting at least 22mpg. The value of the voucher would grow to $4,500 if the miles-per-gallon figure of the new car is 10mpg higher than the old vehicle. Owners of SUV's, pick-up trucks or MPV's that get 18mpg or less would receive a voucher for $3,500 if their new truck or SUV is at least 2mpg better than their old vehicle.

The voucher would increase to $4,500 if the fuel economy of the new truck or SUV is at least 5mpg higher than the older vehicle. Consumers could also receive vouchers for leased vehicles.
The scheme has been set up with the aim of taking vehicles built before 1984 off the road. It is estimated that newer cars would have a greater trade-in value than that of the voucher.

Chevrolet produces 1,500,000th Corvette (U.S)

The Corvette has been going strong for about 60 years. Recently, Chevrolet produced the 1,500,000th Corvette at GM Bowling Green assembly plant. The announcement of this incredible milestone was made by Karen Rafferty, Chevrolet Product Marketing Director.

"The 1.5 millionth Corvette is a great example of how Chevy is America's brand" Rafferty said at a meeting of the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association. "For nearly 60 years we have built America's Sports Car and this milestone is a solid proof point."

The car in question is a white Convertible 3LT that has a red interior and a black top. Incidentally the first, 500,000th and 1 millionth Corvettes built in 1953, 1977 and 1992 respectively had similar features.

The Corvette executive also took the time to announce that the new 2010 Corvette Grand Sport coupe will be priced at $55,720 while the convertible will be $59,530. Included in the prices is a $950 destination freight charge.

Rafferty went on to wax lyrical about the Grand Sport, noting that it has a 0 - 60mph sprint time of less than 4 seconds. Motorway fuel economy is claimed at 26mpg.

Press Release:

Chevrolet builds 1,500,000th Corvette

Pricing also announced for the 2010 Corvette Grand Sport

At the June meeting of the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association, Karen Rafferty, Chevrolet Product Marketing Director, today announced the recent production of the 1,500,000th Corvette at GM Bowling Green Assembly.

"The 1.5 millionth Corvette is a great example of how Chevy is America's Brand," Rafferty said. "For nearly 60 years we have built America's Sports Car and this milestone is a solid proof point."

The 1.5 millionth Corvette, built on May 28, is a white convertible 3LT with red interior and black top (similar to the first, 500,000th and 1 millionth Corvettes built in 1953, 1977 and 1992 respectively). The first Corvette rolled off the assembly line on June 30, 1953.

Rafferty also announced pricing of the all-new 2010 Corvette Grand Sport. Pricing for the Grand Sport coupe is $55,720 and GS convertible is $59,530. Both prices include a $950 destination freight charge.

"The Corvette Grand Sport achieves a 0 - 60 time in less than four seconds, pulls 1.0g on the skid pad and still boasts an impressive 26 highway mpg," Rafferty said. "These numbers are unmatched by any of Corvette's competitors."

Baby Rolls-Royce caught uncloaked

Rolls Royce have been able to sell over 1,000 cars yearly. The introduction of the upcoming, slightly cheaper Ghost will surely see these numbers shoot up even more, hence the 150 extra workers being employed in the UK.

This two-tone prototype, caught undergoing final shake-down testing in Southern Germany will underpin an extended platform of the current LWB BMW 7 Series sedan with the finished product measuring at 5,399mm. Under the hood is a new 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 petrol engine, cranking out 544bhp and maximum torque of 750Nm. Mated to this engine is a 8 speed ZF automatic transmission. Some technologies will also be shared with the Phantom sedan and the Drophead coupé. The production car will feature an advanced air suspension. To give occupants a velvety ride, the Ghost features an intelligent four corner air suspension system with multi-link aluminum front and rear axles. Ride comfort is further maximised by several advanced systems such as Active Roll Stabilisation and Variable Damping Control. Thanks to all this technological wizardly, the suspension is sensitive enough that it automatically detect and adjust itself when a rear passenger moves from one seat to the other. The suspension even offers a convenient lift and kneel function which can raise or lower the vehicle by 25mm.

According to Rolls-Royce's CEO, Tom Purves, "The Ghost will be as refined and as cosseting as anything that this marquee has ever produced. But it will have a dynamic vitality afforded to it due to the latest technology and engineering techniques. These have been bestowed on this car with the same care and attention as the more traditional materials within."

Based on the 200EX concept car, the Ghost was first publicised under the code-name of "RR4" during early development stages. Although the firm denied the Ghost (which harks back to the days of the old Silver Ghost) will exist, later Rolls Royce owned up to the fact that they were indeed planning to launch a "baby" Rolls.

The car will be unveiled officially at the 2009 Frankfurt motorshow. Sales will begin Spring 2010 and prices are speculated at around £180,000.

Monday 8 June 2009

Fiat builds 10 millionth vehicle (BR)

Last week, Fiat celebrated the production of the 10 millionth vehicle built in Brazil. The Italian car firm has been building cars and light commercial vehicles in Brazil since 1976 and now the Fiat factory in Betim produces 15 different models and hundreds of variants, with more than 3,000 vehicles produced per day.

In May, Fiat sold 60,628 vehicles representing a market share of 25.5% that helped the Italian car manufacture to take the first spot in Brazil ahead of Volkswagen and GM.

Range Rover facelift pricing announced (UK)

Land Rover has announced pricing for the 2010 Range Rover which goes on sale next month.

The engine range features two all-new units: a 3.6-litre TDV8 and the supercharged 5.0-litre V8 from the Jaguar XF-R and XK-R.

All models feature updated exterior styling and an all new interior, as well as improved emissions, fuel economy and performance.

The entry level TDV8 Vogue starts at £64,695 and it comes with 19" alloy wheels, LED lights, touch-screen sat nav, iPod connectivity and a 12" TFT Virtual Instrument Panel. At £70,995, the TDV8 Vogue SE comes with 20" alloy wheels, adaptive bi-xenon headlights and adaptive climate control. Topping the range is the Autobiography, costing £75,695 fitted with the TDV8 engine and £79,995 with the V8 petrol. Extra features fitted to the Autobiography include leather headlining, a front bumper splitter bar and the Autobiography design pack.

The 2010 Range Rover will be shown at the Motorexpo at Canary Wharf, alongside the 2010 Range Rover Sport and the 2010 Land Rover Discovery 4.

Friday 5 June 2009

Four VAG models spied in Austria

The Volkswagen Group are usually among the first car manufactures to send their forthcoming cars to the Austrian Alps. These prototypes/mules undergo thorougher towing, braking, chassis and suspension testing.

The first model from Volkswagen that was snapped by photographers is the remodelled Transporter/Caravelle/T5 Multivan. First launched back in 2003 in Europe, the Transporter/Caravelle (T5 in Mainland Europe), will take it's styling cues off the ever-popular Golf VI hatchback.

The Transporter is sold as a passenger vehicle and a commercial vehicle. The engine range consists of a 1.9 litre TDI making 84bhp and 200Nm of torque, a 2.5-litre TDI producing 400Nm with 174bhp and a 3.2 litre petrol with 235hp. The UK market only gets the 2.5 litre TDi.

Next is the revised Touran. This will be the second facelift for the compact MPV after it was facelifted and launched back in 2006. Engines expected include the firms all-new 1.2, 1.4 and the 1.6 litre TSI petrol engines. The current 1.9 TDi will be replaced by the all-new 2.0 TDi CR, first seen in the Golf VI, then Scirocco, Golf Plus and Seat Altea. Mated to these engines are two gearboxes; a 6-speed manual and the new 7-speed DSG. Park assist is likely to be standard on UK models. Touch screen satellite navigation, bi-xenon headlamps and upgraded sound system will be optional.

It would not be a surprise to see the 2010 Touran at the Frankfurt motorshow this September. The all-new model is due Spring 2013. This will underpin the Golf VI since production costs will be substantially cheaper than the Golf V.

Next up is the facelifted Touareg SUV. Changes will include a revamped front and rear end, both ends taking styling hints of the Golf VI, Scirocco, Golf Plus and Polo, reshaped door mirrors and interior updates. Oddly enough, it seems the facelift could bring a curvier c-pillar to give the Touareg a hatchback look, in addition to a slightly longer rear overhang. Under the bonnet should be the firms new 3.0 litre TSI turbocharged V6 along with tweaked diesel engines, ranging from 2.5 TDi to 5.0 TDi V10 to give lower CO2 emissions. Volkswagen is currently testing the Touareg Hybrid which uses a 333bhp, 3.0 litre V6 TSI petrol engine and a battery pack. Hybrid mules have a reformed front bumper and a revised speedometer cluster.

The next model has caused controversy among journalists/bloggers. This Skoda Fabia prototype has been spied with a sportier front bumper combining a honeycomb lower grille with built-in positioning for fog lights. This could indicate a vRS model, however, the Fabia has been on the European market since April 2007 so a facelift is due. The 1.9 TDi PD diesel engine will be replaced by the groups new 1.6 TDi CR engine. As far as the spied car goes, headlamps have not been changed alongside the rear end. The revised Fabia could make its way to Frankfurt this September.
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