Sunday 30 August 2009

Dacia launch possible in 2010 (UK)

Renault’s managing director has refused to rule out a UK launch for its budget brand Dacia. Roland Bouchara said in an exclusive interview that the company has only put off the launch of the brand in the UK due to the Pound’s weakness against the Euro and he said the situation would be looked at again in 2010.

“The weakness of the Pound meant we had to cancel the planned launch of Dacia,” said Bouchara. “There was no way it could be sold at a profit.”

The Pound has been recovering rapidly since its drop last year and earlier this year, and Bouchara expects that recovery to continue into 2010. If a Dacia launch were to happen, it would include a range of cars rather than single models such as the Sandero.

“Dacia will soon have a full range of cars, which would spread the cost of a launch,” said Bouchara. “We will take another look at it in 2010.”

Dacia's UK launch has been put off since 2008 due to the very delicate state of the British economy, which is now stabilising.

Thursday 27 August 2009

2011 Bentley Continental to be more "evolution than revolution"

The next Bentley Continental will be more evolution than revolution, senior company bosses have reported.

"Customers don’t want us to change it; they see it as Bentley’s Porsche 911," said Bentley boss Franz-Josef Pfaegen, hinting that the new car, expected in 2011, would be a refinement of the current Continental family, the best-selling car in the company’s history.

Pfaegen also admitted that the next-generation Conti would continue to draw on Volkswagen Group technologies.

"We want to build the best possible Bentley and all the important bits we can do in-house, but we will continue to use VAG components," he said.

Bentley engineering boss Ulrich Eichhorn said that the company is looking to save weight for the next Continental.

"There will be a sensible weight reduction, but it won’t turn into an Elise," he said. Eichhorn also pointed out that weight has been saved during the life of the current car, with the Speed version and the forthcoming Continental Supersports, due out later this year.

Power for the next-gen car is widely tipped to come from a modified version of the existing W12 engine. Eichhorn admitted that there was no legislative reason why the 12-cylinder petrol engine would have to be retired, adding that there was still scope to produce more power and torque from it, with lower CO2 and improved economy.

It's also likely to be mated to a traditional torque converter automatic gearbox at launch, rather than a VW Group dual-clutch auto-box.

"If there was a dual-clutch gear-box available in the group then we would use it," he said, "but their biggest advantage is with smaller engines. With the torque in a Bentley the benefit is less, and auto gearbox technology is catching up fast."

Either way, the next Continental is certain to have the option of being powered by biofuel, as the company is committed to offering a flex-fuel option on all of its cars by 2012. This negates the need to offer a diesel Bentley in the future, according to Eichhorn.

2010 Alfa Romeo 159 pricing announced (UK)

The 2010 MY 159 that was presented at the Geneva autoshow in March, benefiting from the introduction of two brand new Euro 5-compliant turbocharged engines, the 1750 TBi petrol and 2.0 JTDM diesel, as well as a revised range structure for the UK market.

The new 159 1750 TBi gets a 1.75-litre direct injection turbocharged engine that makes 200bhp along with 320 Nm of torque, launching the saloon from rest to 62mph in 7.7 seconds before topping out at 147mph. The sedan returns a combined fuel consumption of 34.9 mpg. Alfa's new 2.0 JTDM diesel powerplant produces an output of 170bhp at 4,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 360Nm available between 1,750 rpm and 2,500 rpm. With this engine, the 159 covers 0–62 mph in 8.8 seconds and achieves a top speed of 136mph, while returning a combined fuel economy of 52.3mpg.

For the 2010MY 159, Alfa has introduced a new range structure which now features five trim levels: Turismo, Turismo Sport, Elegante, Lusso and TI.

The new Turismo Sport trim features 17" alloy wheels, Blue&Me, cloth sports seat, sports leather steering wheel with audio controls and gear knob and sports dials.

The new Elegante trim also adds features from the Turismo, including rear parking sensors, visibility pack (auto-dimming rear-view mirror and rain and dusk sensor) and specific seat and door panel upholstery.

Pricing for both the 159 1750 TBI and 2.0 JTDM Saloon start from £21,800, topping out at £28,900. The sedan and Sports Wagon are on sale now.

New Car: 2010 Chevrolet Agile (Latin America)

GM has released the first official images of the new Chevrolet Agile.

Destined for South American markets, the Agile looks nothing like the attractive teaser images that were previously revealed. The font end, with its corporate Chevrolet grille, looks decent enough but the overall design leaves something to be desired. Despite this, GM says the hatchback offers "an innovative design" with the "internal space of a crossover."

As the first model fully developed at GM's Mercosur Center for Development, the Agile represents the company's commitment to vehicles designed and produced in South America.

The Agile will launch in October with a range of 4 cylinder engines.

Press Release:

General Motors revealed the first images of the new Chevrolet Agile

General Motors confirmed for next October launch vehicle waited in the Mercosur region: the Chevrolet Agile, an entirely new model is distinguished by its design, comfort and versatility.

Jaime Ardila, president of GM Mercosur, notes that "The Chevrolet Agile, a leading Chevrolet launches and market in 2009, demonstrates our confidence in the public's preference and the potential of our region." For his part, Edgar Lourencon, president of GM Agile Argentina said that "not only demonstrates the capacity for Chevrolet vehicles with modern design and world class, but confirms the strength and integration of our company to provide the best products our customers.

Amazing design:

Revealing some details of the line of Agile, Carlos Barba, General Director of GM Design Mercosur, notes: "It is a vehicle that goes beyond a traditional hatchback. Our task was to design a vehicle for customers in the region, which are demanding consumers. An innovative design is essential, as the internal space and a crossover, or a vehicle that 'breathes' and versatility that is attracting different customer profiles, from the urban to the surfer or customer that to enjoy the countryside. "

"I am convinced that the design of Agile will surprise since it is a car full of young people," Barba ends. The model comes to complement the Chevrolet line, which is most of the market and currently consists of models Spark, Corsa Classic Corsa, Aveo, Astra, Vectra GT (hatchback), Vectra sedan, the Meriva and Zafira people carriers, Captiva SUVs and the Blazer, the S10 pickup and the Corvette.

Investment in progress:

The Chevrolet Agile - first model of the family live - was fully developed at the Center for Development of Mercosur GM vehicles, located in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It is the result of an investment of U.S $400 million, which includes the development and production phases of the model in the region, with its production complex in the Automotive business in Rosario, province of Santa Fe The Agile aims to emerging markets as Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. In Argentina, advancing the implementation of the investment to start production of Chevrolet Agile. This investment has meant, among other actions, the construction of a new building of 5,000 square meters of weld, new dies for the stamping of parts and components; 59 robots incorporating the latest technology to focus its work primarily on welds considered anti ergonomic, and in those parts of the body that are critical to passenger safety as well as conducting over 6,500 hours of training to operators of the new production line of Chevrolet Motor Complex in Argentina.

Are currently in the final testing of the new model for which the company is implementing global processes of validation, which are identical to those used in developing the overall architecture of Chevrolet. They take place in laboratories and in field. Are 150 units of Chevrolet Agile are rolling over 1 million miles of testing, including vehicle and partially assembled, in order to validate components, vehicle safety, durability, bodywork, brakes, noise and vibration. Finally, it is important to note that 9,000 pieces were subjected to more than 3,000 tests for global certification criteria, and safety, 20 vehicles passed through various laboratory impact tests, including testing now underway.

Sunday 23 August 2009

"Cash for clunkers" scheme ends on Monday (U.S)

The U.S scrappage scheme, dubbed “cash for clunkers”, will end Monday 24th August, having run for just a month.

The scheme has been a huge success but has been halted so that payments do not exceed the $3bn (£1.8bn) allocated by Congress.

The scheme offered car buyers discounts of up to $4,500 (£2,700) towards new cars when they traded in old vehicles.

The deadline of 24th August will give dealers and buyers enough time to complete purchases and submit applications for rebates, said the Transportation Department.

“This program has been a lifeline to the automobile industry, jump-starting a major sector of the economy and putting people back to work,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.

The Transportation Department said it has handled 167,000 (37%) of the 457,476 dealer requests for payback submitted as of today. It is understood around $145m (£88m) has been paid out so far.

Giant Fiat 500C goes on tour (UK)

A giant Fiat 500C is set to invade the UK. The promotional model is being used to promote the launch of the new 500C and is five times bigger than the normal convertible, making it a scale model of 5:1. The huge model will be displayed at a special venue in Oxford Street between 28th August and 2nd September alongside the full 500 model range.

New Car: 2010 Volkswagen Caravelle/Transporter/T5 facelift

Volkswagen has revealed its updated Caravelle MPV, which has new engines and smarter looks.

On the outside, the Caravelle now looks classier, thanks to a face-lift that incorporates the latest VW family look. The changes include: new rear light clusters, chrome side trims, reshaped door mirrors, restyled front end with new panels, headlights, front grille and bumper. Interior upgrades include a more high-quality interior, three-spoke steering wheel, redesigned instrument display, gear-shift indicator, optional USB connectivity and the latest VW stereos with touch-screen-based hard-drive navigation systems.

The four new 2.0-litre common rail diesel (CRD) engines boost fuel economy, cut CO2 emissions by 10% - down to 190g/km and improve refinement. The engines have outputs of 83bhp, 102bhp, 140bhp and 178bhp, and some will be available with VW's latest seven-speed DSG semi-automatic transmission.

Safety equipment has also been upgraded in the Caravelle. An updated stability control system, hill-start assist and an emergency brake light function have been added, while VW's Side Assist lane-change system, which warns drivers of hazards in the car's blindspot, is now an option, along with a new tyre-pressure monitoring system.

UK prices and specifications for the new Caravelle have yet to be confirmed, but will be released closer near to its launch in January 2010. Mainland European sales will start in October 2009.

Press Release:

New generation of the Transporter, Multivan, Caravelle and California:

New versions of the best-selling series begin in Autumn 2009

New Common Rail TDI drops fuel consumption by up to 1.9 litres

New front design in keeping with the stylistically refined Volkswagen Design DNA

New infotainment and driver assist systems for optimum comfort and safety

New generation of ESP including the hill-start assistant comes as standard in all vehicles.

The Transporter, Caravelle, Multivan and California - these are the four basic versions of an internationally best-selling vehicle so popular that is has sold in the millions. For its huge fan base, people like service providers, trades people, families, business people and globe trotters, these multi-talented vehicles are an automotive way-of-life, a symbol for endless mobility and variety. A few weeks after the Multivan and California are premiered at the IAA in Frankfurt in September 2009, a new generation of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle's successful models will hit the roads. The new perfected version gives out even fewer emissions as well as being more efficient, economical, comfortable, elegant, intelligent and safer than ever before. Advance sales for all four basic versions will start at the IAA.

Refinement and high-tech features fit for a best-seller:

The best-seller's body design is now in line with Volkswagen's new Design DNA. The new front design shows off the series in an even more elegant light. The series, which is known as the T5 by Volkswagen employees, has also been given a huge technical boost. Take the engines for example: the new Turbo diesel engines (TDI) are more efficient, exceptionally quiet and now fitted with a Common Rail Injection system. Thanks to the new TDI, fuel consumption levels have decreased by up to 1.9 litres and CO2 emissions have dropped by 52 g/km, so that all engines now fulfil the EU5 emission standards. What's more, the new versions come with an optional 7-gear dual clutch gearbox (DSG) - an international first for this class of vehicle! As another optional extra, you can have the new four-wheel drive function (4Motion with 4th generation Haldex coupling), which allows you to drive off-road. Another revolutionary highlight from the new models is that, from the start of the year, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will be offering a 4Motion version in conjunction with DSG. Safety features have been further improved thanks to the standard hill-start assistant, refined ESP, a new hazard warning light for the brake lights (emergency brake lights) and new optional driver assist systems. In addition, the interior is fitted with new instruments, steering wheels, radio/navigation systems and textures on top of ergonomic perfection.

Four new Common Rail TDI and dual clutch gearboxes:

With the new four-cylinder diesel engines with Common Rail Injection, the best-selling series in both Germany and Europe sets new benchmarks for both its economy and its kindness to the environment. The TDI (1,968 cm³) comes as either 62 kW / 84 PS, 75 kW / 102 PS, 103 kW / 140 PS or 132 kW /180 PS. The 140 PS engine is boosted by a turbocharger with variable turbine geometry, while Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has fitted a two-stage charger with bi-turbocharger in the top of the range 180 PS. This form of downsizing means that, for the first time in the Volkswagen Group, a compression ignition engine is being used in a vehicle of this performance range.

The greatest feature is the fuel-saving capacity. It is the first time in the world that a transporter, van or touring vehicle has been equipped with a 7-gear dual clutch gearbox (DSG), which allows fuel consumption in the 180 PS version to drop by up to 1.9 litres when compared with the previous 6-gear automatic. In the meantime, the 85 kW/115 PS petrol engine will be carried over and now complies with EU5 emission standards. Compared to previous generations, Volkswagen were able to decrease CO2 emissions and fuel consumption levels by an average of 10 percent across the whole range. In vehicles with a manual gearbox and front-wheel drive, the CO2 emissions and fuel consumption levels* range from 7.2 litres/19og/km CO2 (84 PS and 102 PS) to 7.5 litres/190 g/km CO2 (180 PS): that's up to 0.9 litres less than ever before.

All four diesel engines respond extremely quickly and almost as soon as you have left idling speed as well! Even the smallest TDI engine with 84 PS has a maximum torque of 220 Newton metres from just 1,250 rpm. The 102 PS version goes to 250 Newton metres from 1,500 rpm, the 140 PS TDI hits a high of 340 Newton metres from 1,750 rpm while the 180 PS TDI propels into the crankshaft with an impressive 400 Newton metres from 1,500 rpm. And of course all versions are fitted with a particle filter.

The Multivan and Co. on track with the new Volkswagen Design DNA:

Alongside other new design features, the new generations really stand out with a completely modified front end. Clear, horizontal lines give the series a timeless, elegant appearance. The ribs on the radiator grille are all black. In the Transporter (panel van, kombi, drop-side), Caravelle Trendline and California Beach the ribs are in matt black. Whereas the Caravelle Comfortline, Multivan (recreational and business van) and the California Comfortline (touring van) all feature black, high gloss ribs, each highlighted with a chrome stripe. The top stripe is visibly extended so that it stretches into the newly designed headlights. Also, for the first time, the newly designed fog lights in the rear bumper will act as static cornering lights as well. The rears of the Caravelle, Multivan and California have changed since the previous versions as they now have new rear lights which are in keeping the current Design DNA.

New driver assist systems and additional standard equipment:

Depending on the vehicle's equipment level, the new models are decked out with new 17" and 18" alloy wheels as well as new exterior mirrors, refined for improved aerodynamics. And for the first time, the exterior mirrors house the entire antenna system. As another ground-breaking feature in this class, the best-selling vehicles are now available with the Side Assist lane change assistant. As seen in the Touareg, this system uses LEDs in the exterior mirrors to warn the driver of any vehicles in the blind spot. What else is new: the tyre monitor display (TMD). The TMD constantly analyses how quickly the tyres are rotating. By comparing the different speeds, the system detects when the tyre pressure has dropped.

More new features: the Multivan Comfortline now comes with 16" alloy wheels. The Multivan Highline is now equipped with new 17" alloy wheels as well as chrome trims on the sides and rear.

The interior which crosses the bridge to passenger vehicles:

The models' interiors have been completely re-worked. Take the instruments for example: With a new design, they are lit in white from behind and highlighted by a chrome frame. Each of the new generation's models will come with a gear shift recommendation display. The entire collection of radio and navigation systems has also been updated. The new top of the range device is the RNS 510 with touch screen and hard-drive navigation. The optional Dynaudio sound system delivers magnificent concert-hall acoustics. The USB interface, Media-IN, allows you to connect any devices, such as MP3 players, quickly and easily. New features on board are the controls for the semi- and fully-automatic air conditioning systems and the three-spoke steering wheels. Many of the versions have had some additions to their standard equipment. The Multivan Startline has seen some great improvements: for example, compared to the previous model, the new basic model now has a full trim interior and side and curtain airbags for the driver and front passenger. The finished bumper, which comes as standard, highlights the fact that the Startline is a member of the Multivan family.

Last but not least, the Transporter can be ordered with a new double front passenger seat bench which includes an integrated folding stowage compartment. And all this is coming soon: the new generations will be launched in the middle of October.

* = Fuel consumption and emissions levels taken from a closed Transporter with short wheelbase and normal roof

Thursday 20 August 2009

43 drivers run out of fuel daily (UK)

The Highways Agency is warning drivers to check their fuel after 15,000 drivers ran out of fuel in just over 12 months. On average 43 cars ran out of fuel a day between 1st July 2008 and 30th June 2009 with many breaking down in dangerous or disruptive places.

The Highways Agency's boss Derek Turner, said: 'The number of people breaking down simply because they have run out of fuel is alarming. It's not only hazardous to the driver and passengers, but to other road users as well, especially if the vehicle has to stop in a live lane.'

The Agency is urging drivers to continually monitor fuel levels over long distances and to not take the risk of trying to complete journeys on low levels of fuel.

New Car: 2010 Kia Venga

Kia will be launching an all-new mini-MPV called the Venga at Frankfurt motorshow. The Venga, which is based on the No3 concept shown at Geneva show in March, is due to go on sale in early 2010 in the UK market. Michael Cole, Managing Director of Kia Motors (UK) Limited, said: 'The 'No3' was one of the stars of Geneva and I am certain the Venga will attract similar attention in Frankfurt.'

According to Kia, the 4,068mm long Venga offers interior space that's on par with C-segment hatchback even though it's a B-segment car.

'This is exactly the kind of vehicle UK motorists are looking for as we emerge from the recent economic turmoil - a fantastically flexible package providing big-car comfort and space within a compact package,' added Cole. The Venga will feature Kia's Idle Stop and Go (ISG) technology and will be offered in a choice of two 1.4 litre and 1.6 litre petrol and diesel engines, generating between 73bhp and 113bhp.

To maximise loadspace, Kia has included a 60/40 split sliding rear seats that also fold flat into the floor. A tilt-and-slide panoramic roof will also be available, alongside an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. Prices for the Venga will be confirmed at Frankfurt.

Press Release:

Uniquely spacious' Kia Venga to debut at Frankfurt:

World premiere of Kia's newest vehicle for the urban European market

Redefining the MPV category with young-at-heart offerings

Gasoline and diesel engines with ISG (Idle Stop & Go) technology

Kia Motors Corporation has confirmed that its all-new, uniquely spacious and dynamic B-segment MPV will be named ‘Venga' when it goes on sale across Europe later this year.

Designed, engineered and manufactured in Europe, the 4,068 mm long Kia Venga will feature an unusually long (2,615 mm) wheelbase for its class - and a 1600 mm high roofline to maximize cabin space. Skilful packaging will ensure that the Venga redefines its MPV category by offering levels of interior space typical of a larger C-segment vehicle, but within a B-segment footprint.

"The ‘Venga' name for our all-new model has an attractive and lively sound that is ideally suited to our latest family car," comments Panu Vainamo, General Manager Marketing, Kia Motors Europe. "The name is derived from Spanish and has a modern, polished feel that fits well with European consumers' active urban lifestyles and also with Kia's core brand values, echoing our ‘Power to Surprise'."

Every engine in the Venga line-up will be fitted with Kia's fuel-stretching ISG (Idle Stop & Go) technology and will comply with Euro 5 emission standards. Venga will be marketed exclusively in Europe where consumers will be offered a choice of two 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre gasoline and diesel engines, generating between 75 and 115PS.

The latest Kia MPV will be equipped with a sliding 60/40 split rear seat that also folds flat into the floor to create a spacious cargo bay and, depending on model, a tilt-&-slide all-glass panoramic roof.

The production-ready Venga, which is closely related to the Kia Nº3 concept car that debuted at the Geneva Show earlier this year to worldwide acclaim, will make its world premiere during the Frankfurt International Motor Show at 13.00 hrs (CET) on Tuesday 15th September.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Jaguar XJ pricing announced (U.S)

Jaguar will begin delivering the new 2010 XJ sedan in North America in Spring 2010 when it goes on sale in December 2009. Only three engine choices are to be offered and prices start at $72,500 MSRP with the top of the range XJ costing at least $115,000.

The company top brass are not under any illusions regarding the viability of the XJ given the prevailing economic climate and the leading rivals.

"Today's challenging economy raises the stakes for luxury marques bringing new products to market," says Richard Beattie, Executive Vice President, Marketing and Sales, Jaguar North America. "Not every new automobile will win the hearts and minds of luxury car buyers. This Pebble Beach weekend is incredibly important in establishing the design and performance credibility of a new luxury automobile. We believe the Jaguar XJ will create tremendous new excitement for the Jaguar brand."

Both the standard and long wheelbase versions will be available. The latter is 5 inches longer than the former but does not compromise boot space. The aluminium space frame construction of the XJ makes it 136kg lighter than an equivalent steel-bodied car.

The three engine choices are altered variants of the 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8. Entry-level models come with 385bhp and maximum torque of 515Nm. Mid-range is the supercharged engine, which kicks-out 470bhp and peak torque of 575Nm, while the flagship comes with 510bhp and a peak torque of 625Nm. All three are mated to a 6 speed automatic transmission.

Trim levels will be the XJ, XJL, Supercharged and Supersport. The cars can be fitted with Adaptive Dynamics (continuously variable damping), Active Differential Control and Sequential Shift System for manual gear selection. Inside technology includes a 1200W Bowers & Wilkins sound-system, 8" touch screen satellite navigation, USB ports, Bluetooth audio streaming and an auxiliary input.

In the UK, the all-new XJ has received around 60 orders.

New Car: 2010 Bentley Mulsanne

Bentley has just unveiled the replacement for the Arnage, the Bentley Mulsanne, at the Pebble Beach Concours in California.

The Mulsanne is described by Bentley as “neither an evolution or revision of Arnage.” It is a clean sheet design, and nothing on the car’s exterior is shared with any other Bentley apart from the door mirror, which comes from the ethanol-powered SuperSports.

Every panel is unique to the Mulsanne – even the door handles have been developed for the car – and it features many handmade parts, including the fillet of metal below the rear window, constructed from three pieces of metal and brazed by hand.

Underneath the Mulsanne is a platform developed specifically for this car. Bentley chairman Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen said that when he first started looking at replacing the Arnage, he realised that the car "needed change," and that new platform would be needed. Bentley’s head of exterior design Raul Piris said this allowed them to produce a car that looks expensive, and more modern than the Arnage.

“The Mulsanne combines the technological feel of the Continental models with the prestige of the Arnage,” he said. “But we wanted to preserve the Arnage’s exclusivity, and avoid duplicating the Continental’s look. The Mulsanne needs to express a higher level of a coachbuilt look, and be more bespoke.”

Each will take 400 hours to build - 15% longer than the Arnage and hand building takes 200 of those hours.

The unusual quad headlamps are a further development of the round headlamp theme that has featured on every Bentley built in the firms’ 90-year history. They are, according to Piris, inspired by the lighting arrangement from the 1955 Continental Flying Spur S1.

Under the bonnet is a heavily updated version of the Arnage’s L-series 6.75-litre V8, which can trace its origins back to the firm’s first V8 from 1959. Bentley’s engineers have made many changes to the engine to make it suitable for the car and to pass modern emissions legislation. Lighter, more efficient components such as the water pump and many new internal components help to cut the engine’s mass and improve fuel consumption. The engine is also said to be fitted with new fuel-saving technology, which could include cylinder deactivation.

The engine also has improved torque delivery, with much more available lower down the rev range. Bentley isn’t yet revealing how much torque or power this engine has, although it’s unlikely to much more than the current unit’s 738lb ft. It is more powerful than the Arnage’s engine though, with over 500bhp. Despite this it won’t match the Flying Spur’s 200mph, although Bentley sources say that is will be good for nearly 180mph. The car has all-round air suspension and 21" alloy wheels.

Once the Mulsanne has been launched, expect a long-wheelbase variant to go on sale, with another 15cm added to the wheelbase. Design director, Dirk van Braekel said he would like to do a coupe and a cabriolet Mulsanne in the future.

The first Mulsanne sedan sold for $500,000 at Pebbles Beach. Bentley is planning to sell around 700 Crewe built Mulsannes a year, priced at around £200,000. The car will go on sale mid-2010.

Press Release:

Bentley Motors unveiled the Mulsanne, the company's all-new flagship grand tourer, at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance in Monterey, California.

The Mulsanne is inspired by the company founder W.O. Bentley's crowning achievement in 1930, the 8-litre. And it was W.O.'s own sensitively conserved company car that shared the podium with the new Mulsanne in Pebble Beach. This early motoring masterpiece represented the last big Bentley that was designed, engineered and built from the ground up by Bentley engineers - until now.

Nearly 80 years later, while paying respect to this illustrious past, the new Mulsanne is a thoroughly modern statement of luxury driving and grand touring. Conceived, styled and engineered entirely at Bentley's headquarters in Crewe, England, the Mulsanne, with its completely new and unique platform, goes into production next year in a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility within the Crewe factory.

Introducing the Bentley Mulsanne at Pebble Beach, where Bentley was the featured marque, Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen, Chairman and Chief Executive of Bentley Motors, said: "The challenge we set our engineers was to create a new grand Bentley that would stand as the pinnacle of British luxury motoring, offering the world's most exclusive driving experience. They have responded to this challenge with real passion and the result is a luxury grand tourer that sets new standards in terms of comfort, effortless performance and hand-crafted refinement - the very qualities for which Bentley is renowned."

The Bentley design team, lead by Dirk van Braeckel, have created a flagship that offers the classic sporting, styling cues long-associated with Bentley - expressed in a thoroughly contemporary way.

"From the very first hand sketches in the styling studio, we were inspired by the traditions of the grand touring Bentleys and have sought to evolve this story for a new generation of Bentley enthusiasts."

The return of the Mulsanne name to a car carrying Bentley's iconic ‘Winged B' emblem underlines the company's racing pedigree and nowhere reflects that heritage better than the famed Le Mans circuit, the scene of no fewer than six Bentley triumphs. Few places offer a stronger or more emotive connection with the Bentley marque than the famed Mulsanne corner.

The Bentley 8-litre displayed alongside the Mulsanne in California was first shown at the 1930 London Motor Show. It was the second-built and was W.O. Bentley's company car for two years. Capable of reaching more than 100 mph, the 8-litre demonstrated W.O. Bentley's ambition and ability to build a grand luxury car capable of surpassing every other leading manufacturer of the day. A total of 100 cars were built in 1930 and 1931.

"The 8-litre's breathtaking performance and quality was perhaps the finest example of a ‘pure' grand Bentley. Every mechanical detail carried W.O. Bentley's unique stamp and it was the clearest demonstration of a car built without compromise," commented Dr. Ulrich Eichhorn, Member of the Board Engineering.

"The Mulsanne has been designed with exactly the same guiding principles, so it is entirely fitting that these Bentleys from different eras share the same stage." The Bentley Mulsanne will go on sale from mid 2010. It will also be displayed at the forthcoming IAA Frankfurt Motor Show (15-27th September 2009) where Bentley Motors will provide additional product information.

Friday 14 August 2009

Revealing spy photos of '10 Porsche Cayenne

For the first time, Porsche engineers have stripped some camouflage off the 2010 Cayenne SUV. The only parts that are fully covered are the front and rear ends, but happily the protruding headlights are similar to the Panamera sedan. The rear lights are smaller and longer than the outgoing vehicle. Compare the photos yourself of an early prototype, testing in Austria. The next generation Cayenne will be substantially smaller and more compact to make it lighter, and to follow the global trend of down-sizing.

Porsche has been testing the vehicle in many different environments and is currently putting it on the Nürburgring for some chassis tuning. Smaller SUV's tend to be lighter and more fuel efficient, so the 2010 Cayenne will be no different. Petrol and diesel engines will be available, alongside a possible petrol-hybrid.

Production is scheduled to begin in 2010 with deliveries starting after. A forthcoming debut will be almost certain at a major motorshow.

Hyundai i10 to get new engine in 2010

A new 800cc, 3 cylinder turbocharged version of the i10 city-car will be introduced in Spring 2010.

Based on the Hyundai i10 Blue CNG concept that was revealed at the 2008 Geneva show, the new i10 should produce around 90bhp and emit less than 100g/km. Although the concept ran on compressed natural gas and emitted just 65g/km despite a power output of 97bhp, CNG demand in the UK has always been low, so the production car will run on standard petrol.

Likely to be named the i10 i-Blue, the new model will be shown with a mild facelift of the whole i10 range to boost sales of the already popular Indian-built Korean hatch.

The Hyundai i10 i-Blue will be the most powerful and most expensive i10 but prices won’t stretch too far over the current flagship model £8,300 1.2 Style, thanks to low production costs of the all-new engine.

The i10 will be first to benefit from the turbocharged, 3 cylinder motor, but expect to see it put in both Hyundai’s and Kia’s future models.

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Car sales rise by 2.4% in July (UK)


UK new car sales have nudged upwards by 2.4% in July 2009 – the first increase for 15 months. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which collates registration figures, claimed that the scrappage scheme was responsible for the jump.

Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘The impact of the scrappage scheme is clear and we are encouraged by the positive impact it has had, increasing new car registrations since April 2008. But the industry still faces a long road to recovery’.

Although Korean firms like Hyundai and Kia have benefited from the scheme, the Fiesta, Focus and Corsa all remain at the top of UK car sales charts. Other winners include Alfa Romeo, which is up 18% year to date and Abarth (which is listed separately from Fiat) is up a massive 3,410% on last year. That’ll be the new 500 Abarth then, but they’ve still only shifted 702 cars so far in 2009. Chrysler sales are down 49% on July last year and 72% year to date, Saab recording a 52% loss versus July last year and BMW is down 29% on 2008. Although Aston Martin enjoyed a 13% gain on July last year, it’s still down 34% on the first 7 months of the year. Jaguar was down 30% and 21% respectively.

The SMMT expects the 2009 UK car market to fall 14.4% on last year and a further 5% in 2010.

Ford Fiesta - 8,976, Focus - 7,934

Vauxhall Corsa - 5,920, Astra - 5,705

Volkswagen Golf - 4,101


Year-on-year new car sales in Germany were up 29.5% in July, as the success of the country’s scrappage incentive scheme continued.

Just under 340,000 units were sold in Germany last month, bringing total sales so far in 2009 to 2.4 million units, an increase of 26.6% on 2008 levels.

Sales in July were again led by smaller models, with Fiat, Peugeot, Renault and Skoda proving particularly popular. The German automotive industry association, VDA, said car production in Germany had stabilised at a low level, but said the industry faced a long uphill climb before sales and output reached the levels of 2007 and 2008.

Germany introduced its scrappage incentive scheme in February and it will run to the end of 2009. Buyers get a discount of €2,500 on a new car when they trade in a model aged 9 years or older.


Year-on-year new car sales in Russia in July fell 58% on 2008 levels, despite the government’s attempts to prop up the ailing car industry.

Data from the Moscow-based Association of European Businesses (AEB) showed Russian sales fell by 58% to 115,483 units last month and this followed a 56% drop in June. Sales for the year to date were down 50% on 2008 levels to 879,144 units.

Unlike most European nations, Russia has not introduced a scrappage incentive scheme. It has assisted the industry by offering a subsidy to banks to lower the cost or new car loans. David Thomas, chairman of the AEB's automobile manufacturers committee, said: “We hope the actions taken by the government will start to reverse this trend during the summer, but urge close monitoring of the situation to ensure the actions are taking effect.”

Car manufacturers have expanded rapidly into Russia in recent years and it had expected to be Europe’s largest market for new car sales in 2009. Sales have suffered in the global recession as customers have found it difficult to obtain credit in Russia.

Market leader, Lada's sales were down 42% last month to 32,426 units. Chevrolet, Russia's second biggest selling brand, saw its volume drop by 59% to 7,798 units while third-ranked Ford was down 72% to 5,333 units sold. Sales at GM's Opel unit, which potential new owner, Magna wants to expand in Russia, fell 62% to 3,243 units. Opel ranks 11th in Russia with sales of 25,066 units so far in 2009.


Car sales in India rose by almost a third in July compared with the same month last year. Analysts say the dramatic rise is due to lower interest rates, Government stimulus packages, a reduction in excise duty rates towards the early part of the year and the growing presence of buyers in the rural markets.

Year-on-year sales rose by 31% in July, to 115,067 units, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. It is the sixth month in a row in which car sales have risen in India, and the trend is likely to continue.

The rise has also been boosted significantly by the first orders for the Tata Nano coming on stream. The budget car was launched in March, and so far 200,000 orders have been taken.

2010 Kia Sorento set for European debut in Frankfurt

Kia unveiled the new 2010 MY Sorento at the 2009 Seoul motorshow in April. The 4.7 metre long, 7-seat Sorento features a higher-class cabin than the previous model, some sleeker design elements and a more spacious interior.

The R family of engines will include the new 2.2-litre turbo diesel unit, which pumps out 197PS and 421Nm of torque. Mated to it is a choice between a 6 speed manual and a 6 speed automatic transmission.

Kia says it has refined the ride quality to improve the car's on-road comfort while keeping its original off-road ability intact. On the gadgets side, an engine start button, keyless entry and in-mirror reversing camera will be available.

The new Sorento will go on sale in the UK in February 2010.

Press Release:

‘Stand-out' styling for all-new Kia Sorento:

Modern, powerful styling with a clear dynamic look differentiates the all-new seven-seater Kia Sorento that makes its European debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month.

New Sorento is longer and lower than the current model and incorporates Kia's new design DNA into its ‘stand-out' looks, while featuring a much more spacious and luxurious cabin. The 4,685 mm long SUV is also significantly sleeker than the previous model with an aerodynamic drag figure of Cd 0.38 - down from 0.43.

The most popular engine choice in Europe is expected to be the all-new 2.2-litre diesel unit from Kia's ultra-modern ‘R' family of engines. This highly competitive unit produces 197PS and 421 Nm of torque, and will be offered with either a six-speed manual or Kia's all-new world-class six-speed automatic transmission.

"With the new Kia Sorento, we have created an all-new, ‘Highline Cruiser' that we believe offers buyers the benefits of an exciting all-rounder with a much broader appeal," commented Panu Vainamo, General Manager Marketing, Kia Motors Europe. "Kia engineers have ditched the original Sorento's body-on-frame structure and designed an all-new monocoque bodyshell - achieving a weight loss of up to 215kg, greatly improving fuel economy and contributing to a more controlled ride than expected from a 4x4."

The new Sorento's ride and handling balance has been biased more towards on-road sophistication but without ignoring the original model's renowned off-road talents. High-tech features will include keyless entry, an engine start button, in-mirror reversing camera and a panoramic glass sunroof.

The all-new Kia Sorento will make its European premiere at 13.00 hrs (CET) on Tuesday 15th September, during the Frankfurt International Motor Show. The line-up, final specification and prices of the all-new Sorento will be announced closer to the car's UK on-sale date of 1st February 2010.
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