Cars

Cars

Ford EcoSport SUV debuts in Barcelona

Ford has revealed the European production version of the all-new EcoSport SUV at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Built on Ford’s small car platform, the compact SUV offers advanced technology through Ford SYNC voice-activated in-car connectivity system, and will also be among the first Ford vehicles in Europe to offer Ford SYNC AppLink system that enables drivers to voice-control smartphone apps from the driver’s seat. The SUV ‘delivers the agility and fuel efficiency of a small family car with the flexibility, spaciousness, high driving position, and “go anywhere” appeal of an SUV’ says Ford. “We are entering the age of the connected car and debuting EcoSport at Mobile World Congress underlines just how important advanced vehicle technology is to customers and to Ford,” said Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technical officer and vice president, Research and Innovation. The EcoSport will be the second SUV to be launched in Ford’s European range, following the recently-launched Ford Kuga and there are also plans to bring to Europe the larger, more premium utility vehicle – the Ford Edge, which is already popular in the U.S. and other markets. “The role of the car is evolving,” said Paul Mascarenas. “Customers want to be able to safely enjoy the same level of connectivity in their cars as they would do at home, and SYNC AppLink enables then to do just that. By maximising the potential of apps, Ford can offer customers a class-leading range of smartphone app capabilities while on the move.” Ford SYNC with Emergency Assistance directly connects the vehicle occupants to local emergency services operators after an accident, in the correct language for the region using information from the vehicle’s on-board GPS unit, and mobile network to pinpoint accident location and choose the appropriate language in which to deliver an introductory message. The all-new EcoSport will be available with Ford’s 125 PS 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine, a 110 PS 1.5-litre petrol engine or a 90 PS 1.5-litre diesel engine and will also offer further driver assistance technologies including Electronic Stability Program and Hill Launch Assist. The Ford EcoSport goes on sale at the end of this year, prices to be announced. Source:NewCarNet

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McLaren P1 to cost 1 Million Euros

McLaren has announced that prices for the P1 will start at £866,000, or just over €1Million, fully equipped as standard for road and track use To maintain exclusivity, production of the P1 will be strictly limited to 375 units, while McLaren has also confirmed the supercar will have a top speed electronically limited to 350 km/h (217 mph). The McLaren will also come comprehensively equipped as standard and features an array of colour and trim alternatives from which the customer will be able to choose as well as visible carbon fibre in the cabin. The options list is limited to only bespoke content that a customer might wish to add through McLaren Special Operations. After consulting potential customers, McLaren says the unanimous verdict on the styling was not to change the car presented last September in Paris. Therefore the P1 has translated to production form with very little change, just one, the addition of LTR ducts ahead of each of the front wheels to further aid cooling and optimise downforce. Zero to 100km/h will take less than 3 seconds, zero to 200 km/h under 7 seconds, and zero to 300 km/h will be achieved in no more than 17 seconds – 5 seconds faster than the McLaren F1 road car. The P1 features a new type of carbon ceramic brake disc, which has previously seen service in space, but never before used on a road car. Stronger than conventional carbon ceramic, the material dissipates heat more effectively, giving the highly efficient braking system exceptional stopping and cooling capability. The tyres fitted to the McLaren are specially developed Pirelli P Zero Corsas, specifically tuned to the performance and handling characteristics of the P1. The McLaren P1 is set for its global reveal at the 83rd International Geneva Motor Show. Source:NewCarNet

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Nissan Confirms GT-R Nismo

Nissan has confirmed the next Nismo road car will be an even higher performance version of the GT-R Joining the Juke Nismo and 370Z Nismo the GT-R Nismo will be a higher-powered road version of the current model and will be the first out of the the performance specialists new global headquarters near Yokohama, Japan. The Nismo team already have an intimate knowledge of the GT-R from their involvement in racing and is a good precursor to the development of the new Nismo road car which will be based on the 2013 GT-R. The standard 2013 Nissan GT-R has received design and engineering enhancements based around feedback from competing in last year’s 24-Hours Nürburgring, and its success in Super GT and Global GT series. As a result, the vehicle’s overall performance has been dramatically increased, high-speed stability improved and ride quality more refined. “It would be unthinkable for us to develop a range of Nismo road cars without including the GT-R,” said Nissan CEO, Carlos Ghosn. “The standard road car is a global supercar and the GT-R’s performance on track reflects the passion and talents of the Nismo team. The GT-R Nismo will be special and I can’t wait to drive it.” “We know that enthusiasts around the world will be itching to know more about the forthcoming GT-R Nismo,” said Shoichi Miyatani, president of Nismo. “It’s too preliminary to share any details yet, but fans can be certain we’ll be applying all of our motorsport expertise to creating a GT-R Nismo worthy of the name.” In development now, the new GT-R Nismo will be available alongside the standard model in Nissan’s specialised GT-R dealerships next year. Technical specifications and performance figures will be released closer to launch. Source:NewCarNet

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Suzuki launches Swift Sport SZ-R for the UK market

Following the Swift SZ-L Special Edition, Suzuki has released details of the new Swift Sport SZ-R. Swift Sport SZ-R Strictly limited to 100 cars, Suzuki says the SZ-R is aimed at buyers who want to own a Swift Sport with a distinctive look, but still want the sporty, fun-to-drive experience of the standard Swift Sport. While the SZ-R has alternative styling, it keeps the performance attributes of a standard Swift Sport – a 0-62mph time of 8.7 seconds on to a top speed of 121 mph and comes with a 136HP VVT engine which provides 44.1mpg combined. Each SZ-R is finished in Cosmic Black with contrasting Ablaze Red roof, rear spoiler and door mirrors plus SZ-R side badging. Inside, each of the 100 cars has uniquely numbered door sill guards, red accented gear shift knob and red trimmed carpet mats. Swift Sport also includes, as standard, seven airbags, auto air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity and USB port, rear privacy glass and 17-inch wheels as well as HID Projector headlamps for low and high beam. The Suzuki Swift Sport SZ-R is available from 1st March, priced at £14,249 – £500 more than a standard Swift Sport. Agencies

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Mazda CX-9: driving the driver’s crossover

Notwithstanding coming-of-age tales like Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, it is frustrating to be overlooked by suitors when you have plenty to offer 2013 Mazda CX-9(Mazda Motor Of America Inc) And the 2013 Mazda CX-9 offers plenty, especially to drivers whose circumstances have led them to trade in sporty, responsive sedans for more corpulent conveyances. Mazda’s wallflower has had difficulty attracting the attention of buyers, but no trouble attracting accolades: the CX-9 was named Motor Trend magazine’s SUV of the year upon its debut in 2008. Still, its sales have lagged behind those of its competitors. In the US, Ford sells more Explorers in two months than Mazda sells CX-9s all year – and this, despite the Mazda feeling lighter on its feet and more responsive to the helm. A styling update for 2013 brings the aging CX-9 in line with Mazda’s current Kodo styling philosophy, which replaced the misguided previous theme, called Nagare. Some of the kinder critics likened the upturned lines in the Nagare-influenced bumpers and lower grilles to the maniacal grin of Batman’s crazed Joker nemesis. Credit Mazda for recognising and correcting its aesthetic overindulgences. In the CX-9′s case, Kodo brings a new grille, bumper and headlights, ridding the car of the unfortunate clown smile. One disappointment, however, is the CX-9′s colour palate, which runs the monochromatic spectrum: white, silver, gray and black. OK, there is one colour, Zeal Red Mica. Inside, Mazda is also making alterations to its corporate design language, with one obvious change being the abandonment – finally – of the BMW-inspired red backlighting of instruments and controls on the dashboard. The trouble is, it seems like manufacturing inertia prevented a complete replacement of the old red-lit parts. Instruments and radio controls now glow in crisp white, but the display across the top of the dash still glows red, as do the climate controls that sit lower. It is obviously an interim solution as the CX-9 nears the end of its lifespan, to be replaced with an all-new version in coming years. The front seats in the big three-row family wagon are firm yet comfortable, making long drives easy. This A brand which historically has emphasised driving enjoyment across its entire range, Mazda made certain the CX-9 delivered a dynamic down-the-road experience. The steering is superlative, with excellent road feel and directional accuracy. Contrast this with the awfully artificial-feeling rack of the Toyota Highlander or the numb, over-assisted Hyundai Santa Fe, and the CX-9’s appeal grows. In particular, there is good control that prevents the rear suspension from pogoing over speed bumps. Unlike so many three-row crossovers, rearward visibility from the driver’s seat is quite good. ...

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Volkswagen Golf GTD, the forbidden hatchback

There are few vehicles as lamentably absent from North American roads as the Volkswagen Golf GTD MkVI Volkswagen Golf GTD MkVII Based on the architecture of the sixth-generation Golf hatchback, the GTD nevertheless skews more GTI – the sine qua non of the hot-hatch genre – than Golf. That means lowered suspension, bigger wheels, chromed tailpipes and a number of subtle yet telling body cues to distinguish it from the more pedestrian Golf. It also means near-GTI performance from a fuel-frugal turbodiesel that would average roughly 40mpg in combined city-highway driving on the EPA cycle. The “D” on the grille and liftgate, of course, stands for diesel, and the GTD is a rolling ambassador for the fuel. On 21 February, Volkswagen announced that the Golf GTD MkVII, scheduled to make its international debut at the Geneva motor show in early March, would produce 184hp and 280lb-ft of torque, increases of 16 and 22, respectively, over the outgoing model. Maximum torque is available at a remarkably low 1,750rpm. Grunt, thy call signal is GTD. What VW withheld was any indication that the car’s long-pining American fans would finally be acknowledged. “The official response on that is we would really like to bring it,” said Mark Gillies, product and technology spokesman for Volkswagen of America. “We’d very much like it to be here.” Hopeful as that may seem, the tea leaves tell a more muddled tale. Whereas there is a ready-made market for punchy diesel hatchbacks in Europe, these vehicles are – for reasons explored on this very website – niche products in North America. The GTD MkVI made a goodwill tour of the US in 2012, and most journalists (including this one) found it a sublime performer, with Audi levels of refinement and a powertrain that was reserved around town but bawdy on the highway onramp. The implication here is that a Golf GTD could cannibalise sales of the coming Audi A3 TDI, from the VW luxury subsidiary, even though that entry-level luxury car will only be offered in sedan form in the US. “There always has to be a business case; and for what would be a niche vehicle that is a particularly important consideration,” Gillies said. And as other brands have realised, it is not wise to wager on the fickle tastes of the North American buyer. Source:BBC

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Chevrolet SS says g’day

It is time for “Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet”, that old Chevy advertising chestnut, to make room for Vegemite 2014 Chevrolet SS DaytonaThe SS, during its official introduction in Daytona, Florida Just as baseball’s boys of summer are gathering in Florida for spring training camps, Chevy recently used qualifying weekend for Nascar’s Daytona 500 race in Florida to introduce its new Australian American sedan, the 2014 SS. Such large, rear-wheel-drive, V8-powered sedans were once mainstays of American highways, but incredibly, Chevrolet has not sold such a car since 1996, when it discontinued the Caprice-based Impala SS in order to convert its Texas manufacturing plant to build Tahoes – a decision precipitated by the SUV boom. Australia is the other spacious country that has long embraced big rear-drive sedans, known as saloons in those parts. And just as its isolation has supported the survival of exotic animal species and curious sandwich spreads, so it has preserved full-size sedan know-how. It is where Holden, the Australia-only General Motors (GM) subsidiary, has long sold the Commodore, a rear-drive V8 sedan that Chevrolet borrowed to create its SS, scheduled to go on sale in the US late in 2013. GM has previously employed such Australian underpinnings for the two-door GTO and four-door G8 models in the now-defunct Pontiac brand, as well as for the foundation of the current-generation Chevrolet Camaro. The SS is closely related to the Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle, which is sold to police departments but not to retail customers. The car employs the classic Detroit formula of a small-block pushrod V8 mated to an automatic transmission driving the rear wheels. Today’s small block is all-aluminium, and the transmission is a 6-speed with paddle shift, but the recipe remains familiar even if the ingredients are fresher. Rated at 415 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque, the engine is related to the 6.2-litre version of the LS3 V8 shown in the new Corvette at the 2013 Detroit auto show. Underneath we see a change from muscle cars of yore, where MacPherson struts replace the old front controlarm suspension setup, and the solid rear axle is replaced with a multi-link independent rear suspension for better ride and handling. An aluminium hood and trunk lid, forged wheels and Brembo brakes speak to Chevy’s desire to make the SS a performer. “Our goal was to create a car that delivers incredible grip and handling balance while cornering, while still being comfortable to drive on the road,” said David Leone, executive chief engineer for GM global programs, in a media statement. “The perfect weight balance and lower center of gravity were a big part of that goal because it enabled the team to tune for a more comfortable highway ride without sacrificing handling or driver confidence while cornering at the limits,” he added. Chevy appropriated a longstanding suffix, SS, for “Super Sport”, to create a standalone nameplate. Ford tried something similar a decade ago with the Five Hundred name, borrowed from the 500 suffix of Fairlanes and Galaxies dating from the 1960s, but the experiment found no resonance in the modern era. Chevrolet has not revealed pricing for the SS, but we will not be surprised to see this audacious Aussie undercut the $29,995 starting price of its prime target, the 370hp Dodge Charger R/T. We smell a fight coming on. Source:BBC

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