I will try my best to provide detailed info on various cars and what is like to live with them, I have already produced a few for Jaguar-car-forums, I will do my best to be unbiased, but it will be hard for some cars. I will re-produce press releases and copy from other motoring news.

Friday, 18 January 2013

New brand QOROS, shows two new concepts at Geneva

  • New automobile brand Qoros makes debut at Geneva Motor Show
  • World premiere of brand’s first production model: Qoros GQ3
  • World premiere of Cross Hybrid and Estate Concepts
  • Unique touchscreen infotainment system will be standard in all models

Shanghai/Munich, 18 January 2013 – At its debut at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show (7 - 17 March), new international car brand, Qoros, will showcase its first production car, the Qoros GQ3 compact sedan, and two concept studies.  The Cross Hybrid Concept and Estate Concept preview future Qoros designs and technologies, and signal the brand’s commitment to creating a range of attractive, modern models for discerning customers in Europe and China.

The Cross Hybrid Concept and Estate Concept studies are both based on the same platform as the elegant Qoros GQ3, which is due to be launched in China in the second half of 2013, with the first cars arriving in Europe later in the year. Further Qoros models will be launched at intervals of around six months.

The Qoros model line-up is characterised by modern, German-influenced design, world-class safety technology, and the highest production quality standards.  Each Qoros will feature as standard an advanced infotainment system that is unique in the automotive sector and that includes comprehensive networking, connectivity and guidance functionality.

To be produced in a new assembly plant in Changshu, China, the new range of Qoros models is being designed and engineered by an international team of experienced specialists and new, young automotive talent.

"Intelligent modular vehicle platform technology allows us to create new vehicle concepts quickly and efficiently," says Vice Chairman of Qoros Auto Co. Ltd. Volker Steinwascher.  “The Qoros GQ3 is the first of many models that will be based on this platform, and the technology will allow us to develop a complete model family in a very efficient manner.”

Cross Hybrid Concept and Estate Concept

The two Qoros concept studies present the application of signature styling themes introduced on the Qoros GQ3 sedan – developed under the direction of Executive Director of Design, Gert Volker Hildebrand – to possible future compact hatchback crossover and estate variants.

The development of advanced engineering innovations is a core strategic activity for Qoros and the Cross Hybrid Concept features an innovative hybrid drive system.  Intelligent control software ensures seamless transition between petrol-engined front-wheel drive, electric motor rear-wheel drive, and an all-wheel drive mode employing both power units together.

The Estate Concept boasts generous and versatile interior space thanks to a high number of alternative seating and luggage storage options.  Numerous storage compartments and accessories further optimise the functionality of the cabin for both everyday trips and long-distance travel.

First production model: the elegant Qoros GQ3 compact sedan

The production-ready Qoros GQ3 demonstrates the rapid pace at which Qoros is approaching the market launch of its first model.  The elegant sedan has a sporty profile with a long wheelbase, short overhangs and a coupé-like silhouette, yet allows for unusually generous interior space for a vehicle in the compact segment.

A comprehensive standard specification is also accompanied by safety technology that meets the very highest standards, and the Qoros GQ3 is targeting top scores in both European and Chinese crash tests.

The Qoros GQ3 showcases an advanced infotainment that represents a technological first for the car industry that will be standard across all Qoros models.

The eight-inch capactive touchscreen was developed in-house by Qoros with displays designed for minimal driver distraction, replacing the array of switches and buttons that blights many modern car interiors.  The system features a state-of-the-art navigation system, extensive social networking connectivity and the ability for drivers to book dealer service appointments.

UPDATED - The "Wraith" name returns on new Rolls Royce.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars today confirmed the launch of its next model, Rolls-Royce Wraith.
The car will be presented for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show on 5 March 2013, with first deliveries to customers expected in the fourth quarter of 2013. Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, confirmed the news at the company’s World Dealer Conference in London this morning.
“Rolls-Royce Wraith will draw superlatives when it is unveiled in Geneva,” he explained to representatives of the 100-strong global dealer network. “Expect the boldest design, the most dramatic performance and the most powerful Rolls-Royce that has ever played host to the famous Spirit of Ecstasy figurine. We will present a model whose starting point is luxury, refinement and exclusivity, traits that have made Rolls-Royce the world’s pinnacle luxury good for the last 108 years. This is a car not only defined by a timeless elegance, but one that encapsulates a sense of power, style and drama,” added Müller-Ötvös.
BMW Group board member and Rolls-Royce Chairman Harald Krüger, affirmed the company’s latest step in the drive for sustainable growth. “The BMW Group is confidently investing into the long-term future of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars,” he said. “And this exceptional new car will build on the finest principles of the company’s forefathers – the world’s best engineering, the employment of cutting edge technology and peerless craftsmanship.”
Wraith will be the most dynamic, powerful and beautiful Rolls-Royce in the company’s history. It is a breathtaking car that will set a new benchmark in the ultra-luxury segment and will reaffirm the position of Rolls-Royce at the absolute pinnacle of automotive luxury.
The launch will revive one of the most famous Rolls-Royce names first used in 1938. The ethereal name Wraith perfectly expresses the character of the new Rolls-Royce. “Wraith alludes to an almost imperceptible but powerful force, something rare, agile and potent, a spirit that will not be tethered to the earth. It is the perfect name for our new model.” added Müller-Ötvös.
When you encounter Wraith, your world stands still as it whispers by. It possesses an unmistakable presence but is difficult, if not impossible, to corral. It defies attempts to contain it.
Wraith draws inspiration from the story of the Honourable Charles Rolls, one of the company’s founding forefathers and a man who indulged a passion for innovation, engineering and, most importantly, adventure. Rolls was a passionate racing driver, balloonist and aviator winning the praise of King George V, who hailed him the ‘greatest hero of the day’ on becoming the first person to cross the English Channel and return non-stop in a flying machine.
Like Rolls, the new car embraces the very finest things in life – elegance, beauty, refinement and luxury – to be enjoyed by a new generation of confident gentlemen and women. It will boldly shape the future of Rolls-Royce, building on the success of Phantom and Ghost, bringing new customers to the marque.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars today publishes the first official image of its new model Wraith, which will be launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2013.
The graceful silhouette gives expression to a bold and thoroughly contemporary luxury motor car. Flowing lines hint at the extraordinary power and dynamic promise of the most powerful Rolls-Royce in history, yet also highlight design cues that can be traced through the model generations.
Rolls-Royce Wraith evokes the pioneering spirit and lust for adventure that drove company forefather the Honourable Charles Rolls - the consummate gentleman racer. But like Rolls, Wraith will also be steeped in the trappings of luxury and opulence.
When Wraith is present, for that fleeting moment, the world will stand still.

Special Copa editions add spice to Altea range

  • SEAT introduces the Altea and Altea XL Copa editions
  • Great value Copa specification brings up to £1,500 of extra equipment over base models, at no extra cost to customer 
  • Depending on model, additional kit includes alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, and SEAT Media System 2.2 with satellite navigation
  • Price range £16,425 - £21,980 RRP OTR; order books open now
Following the hugely successful Copa editions of the Leon hatchback, SEAT is extending the great value trim level to the Altea and Altea XL ranges.
Depending on edition, Copa specification gives buyers equipment worth between £1,100 and £1,500 absolutely free of charge.
Two trim levels come to market: S Copa and SE Copa. Based on standard S and SE specifications respectively, their introduction also brings about a simplification of the Altea line-up: ‘S Emocion’ trim has been deleted from the range, along with the 1.4 85 PS and 1.4 TSI 125 PS petrol engines.
What remain are the most appealing Altea and Altea XL ranges ever offered. Both comprise S, S Copa, SE and SE Copa trims, and three engines: 1.2 TSI 105 PS, 1.6 TDI 105 PS, and 2.0 TDI 140 PS. DSG automatic is available as an option on either of the diesel engines.
Not only does this give buyers a simpler but far better equipped model range to choose from, it also means that every Altea comes with parsimony included. The lowest emitting model, the 1.6 TDI 105 PS Ecomotive, returns 62.8mpg combined and 119g/km CO2 emissions, putting it into VED Band C and giving it a BIK rating of just 17%. (See table below for full details.)
The specific equipment highlights of the S Copa and SE Copa editions are as follows:
S Copa
In addition to the standard S specification, S Copa adds 16-inch ‘Elio’ alloy wheels; a Bluetooth communication package including hands-free phone connection, steering wheel-mounted controls and two additional stereo speakers; dual-zone climate control; front fog lights with cornering function; cruise control; passenger seat height adjustment.
In total, that equipment has a recommended retail price of approximately £1,500, and it comes at no extra cost.
SE Copa
The already well-specified SE trim level is joined by the hugely impressive SEAT Media System 2.2 in SE Copa versions of the Altea and Altea XL. SEAT Media 2.2 incorporates satellite navigation, an SD card reader for music playback, a DAB digital radio tuner, Bluetooth hands-free phone operation and audio streaming, and a multi-function driver’s display, all controlled via a five-inch colour touch screen.
Also added is a package that includes rear parking sensors, automatic windscreen wipers and lights, and an auto-dimming rear view mirror, bringing the total value of this additional specification to around £1,100.
“The Copa editions of the Altea and Altea XL really are no-brainers for the customer. After all, who doesn’t like to get something for nothing?” said SEAT UK Product Manager James Buckell.
“But we haven’t just added lots of equipment to the cars for the sake of it. Instead, we’ve listened to what our buyers really want and only added equipment that’s of real use and value.
“It’s for that same reason that we’ve simplified the range, giving customers a clear choice, with great value and low running costs assured on every model,” he added.
The SEAT Altea boasts striking hatchback looks but offers higher than average headroom, meaning a capacious interior and excellent versatility. Its driving position is slightly raised compared to a typical family hatchback, providing great visibility while the car retains the engaging driving dynamics that SEAT is famed for.
The Altea XL goes a step further, boosting the 409-litre boot space of the Altea by 123 litres, resulting in a cavernous 532-litre cargo area and helping make it the perfect MPV for families that need great looks with their great space.
Order books are open now for the Altea and Altea XL Copa editions, with first cars reaching showrooms this month (January 2013).

THROW BACK THURSDAY - 003 - Fiat Panda 4 x 4, the most able small compact SUV money can buy

The third in our Throw back Thursdays, we go back to January 2013, and the launch of the then new FIAT Panda 4x4, read it now to see what has become of this iconic car over the last two years, enjoy.


The latest Fiat Panda 4x4 is successor to a best-seller that first appeared over 29 years ago. The third generation Panda 4x4, on sale in January 2013, has the same fun character, versatility, style, functionality and legendary use of space as its predecessors, but with the best of today’s  quality, comfort, technology and safety features. It’s a smart solution for drivers who want city car features without trading the passenger room and comfort of a five-door, or the go-anywhere ability of a full SUV.

Despite the obvious advantages of having four-wheel drive in a compact five-door city car shape, the Panda 4x4 remains unique. By linking an automatic four-wheel drive system to a choice of advanced, economical engines in a car with raised ground clearance, Fiat has created a true city car with genuine 4x4 credibility.

The innovation doesn’t end there. Sitting between the 4x4 and the regular two-wheel drive version is the Panda Trekking, the world’s first CUV or City Utility Vehicle. This version features the Panda 4x4’s raised ride height but combines front-wheel drive with a sophisticated traction control system to enhance its remarkable abilities over slippery surfaces.

The Fiat Panda 4x4 and Trekking have the same friendly, stylish shape as the regular Panda but with design accents to convey the impression of a sophisticated, multifunctional SUV. Compared to the previous generation model the latest Panda is longer, wider and taller. On 4x4 and Trekking versions those dimensions increase slightly, but the cars still retain the requisite diminutive exterior proportions to remain firmly in the city car category. Inside, a modern design combines with high quality materials, plentiful equipment, modular interior space and one of the largest luggage compartments in its class.


The increased ride height of the Panda 4x4 and Trekking give them improved ground clearance for enhanced ability over rutted or uneven terrain. A body that’s significantly more rigid than previous versions sits on all-new suspension that has been optimised for a combination of on-road comfort and off-road aptitude.

Under the bonnet, Panda 4x4 and Trekking versions offer a choice between the award-winning 875cc TwinAir Turbo and the 1.3-litre MultiJet 2 turbo diesel. Both engines come with Start&Stop and a Gear Shift Indicator (GSI) which suggests to the driver the optimum point to change gear in order to achieve the best economy.

Designed to be easy to live with, the Panda 4x4 and Trekking feature the regular model’s Dualdrive electric power steering with ‘City’ function to make manoeuvring simple. There are six airbags, four of them standard, ABS anti-lock braking, and ESP (Electronic Stability Program) as standard. The Panda 4x4 and Trekking also feature the option of City Brake Control, a low speed collision mitigation system usually found only on much bigger cars. This ‘reads’ the road ahead and when it detects an obstacle in the car’s path it applies the brakes automatically.

The Fiat Panda’s helpful features aren’t just reserved for the driver. The rear seats can be specified to have multiple configurations and the Panda 4x4 and Trekking have 15 storage compartments, one more than the regular car.

The new Panda 4x4 and Trekking have been designed in line with Fiat DNA to offer smart solutions that improve buyers’ lives and make affordable technology accessible to everyone. They are the ultimate expression of the Panda’s versatility, cars ready and able to tackle mountain mule tracks and the urban jungle with the same assured panache. Talents like these mean the Panda 4x4 has no competitors as the world’s only genuine 4x4 city car. Equally, the Panda Trekking is the only vehicle in its class to be equipped with sophisticated traction control and a raised ride height.


The Fiat Panda 4x4 and Trekking have been designed to appeal to lovers of adventure and the open air as well as drivers who simply want the reassurance of extra grip on slippery surfaces. At the heart of the 4x4 model lies a sophisticated permanent all-wheel drive system that employs two differentials and an electronically controlled coupling governed by an electronic control unit. By analysing the information received from sensors on the vehicle, the control unit can apportion power between the front and rear axles depending on the amount of grip available.


The system is completely automatic and does not need any driver input. In normal dry conditions, 98 per cent of the engine torque is transferred to the front wheels. This means the car handles in a very similar way to a front-wheel drive model and there are no increases in fuel consumption and tyre wear.

Under low grip conditions such as snow, ice or mud, the electronically controlled coupling prevents wheel spin by progressively increasing the proportion of torque sent to the rear wheels. This enables traction to be optimally distributed to all four wheels and it’s done in such a seamless way that all the driver will notice is excellent grip and handling.

Electronic Locking Differential

On a regular two-wheel drive car, the torque is distributed equally to each wheel. If one wheel starts slipping, a regular differential will make that wheel turn even more, increasing the slip. The Fiat Panda 4x4 features ESP (Electronic Stability Program) with ELD (Electronic Locking Differential) as standard.

The ELD helps improve traction by braking wheels with poor grip on slippery terrain and transferring the driving force to those with greater purchase. To enable ‘Lock’ mode, the coupling’s hydraulic circuit is preloaded in order to react more quickly in the case of differing speeds between front and rear axles.

Compared to a conventional viscous coupling, the electronically controlled coupling has several advantages. It is compatible with the ESP so the car’s safety systems continue to work. It can help increase ABS performance by improved modulation of braking. And torque distribution can be almost instantaneous, whatever the conditions, helping to improve vehicle handling and stability.


The ELD function can be activated manually at speeds lower than 31mph simply by pressing a button behind the gear lever. Doing so enables the braking system to lock the differential gear on the individual axles. It prevents engine torque dropping by inhibiting the traction control (ASR) and it preloads the rear coupling’s hydraulic circuit so that it reacts faster and optimizes take-off from rest in low grip conditions.

The Fiat Panda 4x4 is also equipped with an anti-skid system designed to maximise safety while negotiating descents or turning in low grip conditions. This uses the ABS sensors on the wheels and the engine’s electronic control unit (ECU) to prevent the torque of engine braking locking the rear axle when the car decelerates suddenly.

The two-wheel drive Trekking model features Fiat’s Traction+ traction control system detailed later.

0.9-litre TwinAir

The Fiat Panda 4x4 and Trekking versions offer a choice of two engines: one petrol and one diesel. The two-cylinder 85hp TwinAir Turbo takes downsizing to a new level by combining a small capacity engine with a responsive turbocharger. The result is the International Engine of the Year 2011, with the lowest carbon dioxide emissions of any mass produced production petrol engine in the world. This manifests itself in terms of remarkable performance and flexibility, particularly at low RPM where it’s notably more responsive than a conventional normally aspirated engine. And of course there’s a characterful throaty soundtrack to maximise driver enjoyment.

The TwinAir Turbo generates 145Nm of torque at 1900rpm, which represents 40 per cent more pulling power than the previous generation Panda 4x4’s 1.2-litre FIRE engine. Fiat’s revolutionary MultiAir technology that lies at the TwinAir’s heart is the secret of this success. It employs a new electro-hydraulic valve management system. By controlling the flow of air into the engine directly via the inlet valves rather than using the throttle, airflow can be managed cylinder by cylinder, cycle by cycle, phase by phase depending on the driver’s requirements. Thanks to this rigorous control of the combustion process, pumping losses of around 10 per cent are eliminated, while emissions are reduced and driveability boosted through improved throttle response.

Power output is up by 10 per cent on a regular engine of the same size and the emissions are lowered by around 10 per cent too, in this case to 114g/km. To boost economy around town, an ECO switch on the dashboard limits maximum torque to 100Nm at 2000rpm and helps contribute towards an official Combined MPG figure of 57.6mpg.


The TwinAir Turbo’s thermo-dynamic efficiency and fluid dynamic configuration have been finely tuned. Special attention has been paid to the refinement of the unit so there’s good anti-vibration performance, which is achieved by a balancing countershaft which maintains optimal low vibration levels across all operating conditions.

This remarkable engine also benefits from a new six-speed gearbox with an especially low first gear ratio, which helps to enhance the car’s off-road characteristics by improving take-off during hill starts. It also aids off-road driving by allowing the vehicle to proceed slowly at engine idling speed, thus enabling the driver to maintain maximum control in critical situations, such as steep descents.

1.3-litre MultiJet 2

The diesel engine in the Fiat Panda 4x4 has been described as a miniaturised masterpiece of technology. It’s Fiat’s1.3-litre MultiJet 2 and it’s certainly small. Complete with all its ancillaries it tips the scales at a mere 140kg and is less than 60cm long and 70cm high. However it’s big on performance, delivering a maximum power output of 75hp and 190Nm of torque at just 1500rpm, which is up 30 per cent over its predecessor. And it has been optimized for economy and eco-friendliness with CO2 emissions of just 125g/km and official Combined Cycle  fuel consumption of 60.1mpg.

Second generation MultiJet technology features faster injectors which can execute multiple injections in rapid succession, giving up to eight injections per cycle. This leads to greater speed, flexibility and precision in the various combustion phases. It permits ‘rate shaping’ which means two injections that are so close together that they generate a continuous but modulated supply of fuel to the cylinders. The ability to do this improves the combustion process which in turn makes for a quieter engine and one that’s more efficient in terms of particulate and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

A close coupled Diesel Particulate Filter and a built-in Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system improve the control of temperature and gas flow and guarantee lower emissions plus reduced fuel consumption, enabling the engine to meet strict Euro 5 standards. The injectors also help cut running costs by possessing 40 per cent fewer components than their predecessors.


The Fiat Panda 4x4 and Trekking have been designed to ensure that they remain comfortable and capable performers on the road, while featuring the characteristics of control and ground clearance that are expected of an off-road vehicle.

To cope with these contradictory demands, the Panda 4x4 and Trekking have an independent MacPherson strut suspension at the front and interconnected wheels with a torsion beam layout at the rear. Compared with the semi-trailing arms of the previous generation model, the new rear suspension is lighter and provides better ride and acoustic comfort with no deterioration in off-road performance.

The result is a car that is comfortable for passengers, handles satisfyingly and safely with no surprises, while exhibiting remarkable off-road ability. The ease with which it can handle challenging terrain is graphically demonstrated by its generous ground clearance. The MultiJet 2 version of the Panda 4x4 sits 16cm above the ground while the TwinAir’s ground clearance is a still generous 15cm. The maximum angle of gradient that the Panda 4x4 can approach without any part of its bodywork touching the ground is 20 degrees (MultiJet). The maximum departure angle, or angle of gradient from which it can drive away without touching the ground, is 36 degrees (TwinAir) and its breakover angle at the top of a hill is 20 degrees.

To ensure maximum grip on any surface the Fiat Panda 4x4 features specially developed 175/65 R15 84T M+S tyres.



The Fiat Panda 4x4 has long been viewed as a triumph of function combined with form, and the latest third generation is no different. With a combination of both rational and emotional values, the new Fiat Panda portrays an even stronger vision of utility and personality than its predecessor. With the 4x4 and Trekking versions, Centro Stile Fiat elected to take the regular car and add small details to convey the image of a sophisticated and multi-functional mini SUV.

The look is characterised by emphasising the geometric lines of the front and rear bumpers with aluminium coloured cosmetic inserts. These underline the presence of the skid plates under the body. But they only add a couple of millimetres to the regular Panda’s dimensions, so as to maintain the Panda’s city-friendly proportions. Now 368cm long and 167cm wide, the main dimensional difference is the height. The Panda 4x4 is 5cm taller than the regular version, courtesy of increased ground clearance. The wheelbase of 230cm, front track of 141cm and rear track of 140cm remain the same.

In addition to the special bumpers, there are bespoke door handles and mirror fairings as well as black longitudinal roof bars and protective side strips. All this is finished off with 15-inch smoked (silver on Trekking) burnished alloy wheels, black side skirts and wheel arch mouldings. Two new colours complement the existing colour palette: Sicilian orange and Tuscany green.


The Fiat Panda has always been a byword for versatility, practicality and style. The latest version is built along the same lines, with the 4x4 and Trekking versions using the same highly functional interior as the regular version.

Compared to its predecessor, the dashboard has undergone a radical redesign. Harking back to the first ever Panda it boasts a roomy storage pocket ahead of the front passenger. And there’s a more conventional central locking glovebox in the lower part of the dash. The 4x4 and Trekking models come with a new, higher centre console and can be specified with a new green fascia to frame the instruments and dash storage pocket.

New seat material employs squares that are melded with the backrests in order to improve airflow between the occupant’s back and the seat for improved comfort in warm weather. The 4x4 and Trekking models feature a special design with three colour options: green, beige and pumpkin. Eco leather detailing is also available on the seats, while front and rear door panels can have eco leather inserts.


Clever internal innovations include redesigned door panels, so the speakers can be positioned higher, which in turn improves sound quality and enables the door pockets to be wider and more usable. The handbrake has been redesigned too. Making it shorter has released storage space in front, behind and underneath the lever. In total there are 15 storage spaces: the 14 open and closed bins on the regular model plus an additional console space over the central tunnel.

The new Panda 4x4 has an exceptionally rigid body with 70 per cent of it constructed out of high resistance materials. It also features a third load path which helps control frontal deformation following impacts and reduces the chance of penetration to the passenger compartment by transferring energy to the lower, more resistant parts of the vehicle.

As well as improved rigidity, four airbags come as standard (two front and two window bags) while the front seatbelts feature pretensioners and load limiters. Front seats are equipped with an anti-whiplash system while those in the rear have head restraints as standard.

With five doors, the cabin has been designed to be especially easy to access, ensuring owners can make the most of the available space. Compared with the previous model, the cabin is 20mm longer, 26mm wider at the front and 5mm wider at the rear. New slim seat technology yields 23mm more entry space at the front and 6mm more at the rear. Front seat passengers benefit from improved seat travel which is now an impressive 21cm fore and aft.

Multiple seat configurations

The Fiat Panda has always been a versatile vehicle and new features reinforce that. The driver’s seat now has vertical adjustment available while there are also multiple configurations for the rear seats. By sliding the (optional) rear bench into the fully forward position – 16cm of travel – the boot’s capacity is increased from 225 to 260 litres, making it one of the most spacious in its segment. Folding the rear seats down gives a load space of 870 litres, 36 litres more than the previous generation Panda.

Various seat configurations are available as options. The driver’s seat is available with adjustable height while the front passenger seat can be fitted with a fold-down back rest. This creates a table that’s handy for picnics or as a worktop, and with the rear seats folded provides a space that’s more than two metres in length, allowing long loads to be carried.

The rear bench comes in standard two-seater guise with a folding unsplit back rest. But it is also available with the two seats sliding lengthwise, with a 50/50 folding back rest, three seats with folding backrest, and three seats with 60/40 split folding backrest.

Functionality can be further increased with the handy ‘cargo box’. This container lets you stow objects inside it and sits in the boot, butting up against the folding rear seat back to give a flat loading surface.


The new Fiat Panda 4x4 and Trekking have been designed as machines for the modern age; cars that will transport their occupants anywhere in the utmost comfort and keep them in contact with the outside world. As a result they come with an impressive list of standard equipment and a vast range of options and accessories.

On board every Panda 4x4 and Trekking there’s air conditioning, Blue&Me multimedia system, ESP, a CD/MP3 radio, 15-inch alloy wheels with Mud and Snow tyres, electric heated door mirrors, central locking with remote control, and rear head restraints. Options include large car features such as City Brake Control, a sliding rear seat and Blue&Me TomTom2 LIVE.

City Brake Control (CBC)

This system is set to raise the bar in terms of what drivers expect from a city car. CBC is a low speed collision mitigation system that will recognise obstacles in the path of the car and apply the brakes at speeds below 19mph if the driver fails to do so. Depending on the speed and steering angle, the system can either completely avoid a collision or minimise the consequences of an impact.


CBC combines three functions: Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Prefill, and Brake Assist. The AEB is triggered by a windscreen mounted laser sensor which carefully assesses the position and speed of an obstacle and whether or not it poses a threat. The sensor employs the same principles as those used in astronomy to measure the distance between satellites. The object must be more than 40 per cent of the width of the vehicle and the angle of impact must be less than 30 degrees. As well as applying the brakes automatically, engine torque is reduced if the accelerator pedal hasn’t been released.

AEB works in tandem with Prefill. This primes the braking system to give a quicker response either when the AEB system takes over or in a regular emergency stop. Brake Assist uses sensors to recognise emergency situations and alters the brake pedal’s response to achieve quicker braking in an emergency stop.

Blue&Me TomTom2 LIVE

Staying connected at the wheel is vital for the vast majority of drivers nowadays, and the Blue&Me infotainment system allows them to do this safely and effortlessly.

Based around Microsoft’s Windows Mobile for Automotive, Blue&Me permits Bluetooth equipped devices such as phones and MP3 music players to be connected to the car’s sound system. Occupants can then take control using voice activation via a display panel that works with a microphone in the roof, or steering wheel mounted buttons. It means drivers don’t need any physical contact with their devices and can keep their hands on the wheel.

Blue&Me is equipped with the latest generation voice recognition system which allows immediate interaction because it doesn’t need a learning phase. Phonebook contents can be shown on the car’s display panel as can track information from music players.

For city traffic driving with total peace of mind, the new Panda can be specified with Blue&Me TomTom2 LIVE. This has all the features of the regular Blue&Me system but is combined with satellite navigation and accurate real time traffic information. Thanks to this, it has the advantages of an ‘infotainment’ system which is integrated and connected to the internet, plus those of a portable navigation device.

The device itself features a 4.3-inch high-definition touch screen display that slots into a robust holder in the middle of the dash. There are no unsightly wires but the device can nonetheless be removed for safekeeping.

At the cutting edge of navigation devices, it features detailed maps of 45 European countries and has the same LIVE services as the latest generation TomToms. This technology enables it to help the user choose the best route by analysing traffic conditions and updating them every two minutes.

Blue&Me TomTom2 LIVE also receives data about the vehicle through the on-board network. It can then provide real-time information about car use and the various devices connected such as the trip computer, mobile phonebook display, media player and eco:Drive.

eco:Drive Mobile

The eco:Drive system is available on all Fiat cars equipped with Blue&Me and enables users to analyse their skills at the wheel. It then gives tips on how to make their driving more efficient, save money and lower CO2 emissions.

The new eco:Drive Mobile is a free smart phone application that enables users to sync the eco:Drive on their car with their mobile phone. By downloading the application, then pairing the phone with Blue&Me and connecting it to the car’s USB port, acceleration, deceleration, gear shifts and speed data can be downloaded. The phone will connect with the eco:Drive server and within seconds, graphs and data related to driving style will be displayed.

The analysis of information taken from the car gives drivers a personal eco:Index between one and 100. Drivers then receive tips on how to improve their performance; it can track trips on a map and even be configured to post results on Facebook or Twitter. This new social element within eco:Drive enables drivers to have fun with other eco:Drive users, providing rankings according to acceleration and economy.


The Fiat Panda has always been at the forefront of innovation so it’s no surprise that Fiat has used it as the basis for a whole new category of car. The Panda Trekking is a City Utility Vehicle aimed at customers who care about style but don’t need a full-time 4x4.

As the link between the regular two-wheel drive Panda and the Panda 4x4, the Trekking has off-road looks with smart front-wheel drive that incorporates Traction+ technology. This allows owners to tackle more adventurous terrain than a regular front-driven car by improving handling on difficult and slippery surfaces courtesy of the innovative traction control system.

Just like the 4x4 version, the Trekking is available with either the 85hp 875cc TwinAir Turbo or the 75hp 1.3-litre MultiJet 2 engines. With their combination of driveability, efficiency and economy allied to Traction+, the Trekking is the perfect solution for drivers who mainly use their cars in the city but want to be able to cope with something more extreme.

As with the 4x4, the Trekking has the Panda’s enormously versatile passenger compartment with various seat adjustments available. Owners also have the option of choosing a new green fascia to frame the instruments and large storage pocket on the dash. The fabric seats are available with a special design in either green, beige or pumpkin and with eco-leather details. Buyers can also specify eco-leather inserts on the front and rear door panels plus a high console over the central tunnel which adds a 15th storage compartment. Excellent visibility is afforded by the extensive glazed areas and this is helped by the high driving position and increased ground clearance.

From a design perspective, the new Panda Trekking follows the visual cues of the 4x4. There are the marked geometric lines on the front and rear bumper, door handles and mirror fairings, roof bars and protective side strips plus black side skirts and wheel arch mouldings. The only cosmetic differences are the aluminium instead of smoked alloy 15-inch wheels and the black rather than silver skid plates front and rear. As with the 4x4, the Trekking is also available in two new body colours: Sicilian orange and Tuscany green.


What really distinguishes the Trekking from regular two-wheel drive Pandas is the standard Traction+. This innovative traction control system improves handling on difficult and slippery terrain but costs far less than conventional four-wheel drive.

Traction+ uses the advanced hardware present on cars equipped with Electronic Stability Program (ESP) to brake spinning wheels and transmit torque to the wheels with better grip. It can be activated by pressing a button on the dashboard at speeds of up to 18.6mph. By using special algorithms to control and manage the braking system, the control unit can simulate the behaviour of a self-locking electromechanical differential. Thanks to optimised software and having force applied through the normal hydraulic braking circuit, Traction+ is much more progressive than conventional systems and is also lighter.

Consider starting on a surface where there are different grip levels between right and left sides. Without Traction+ enabled, the differential transmits the same torque to both front wheels. All that happens is the lowest grip wheel slips and spins and there isn’t enough torque to get the vehicle moving. But press the Traction+ button and more torque is transferred to the wheel with the better grip, allowing the vehicle to pull away properly.

By using the same 175/65 R15 84T tyres as the Panda 4x4 and with the same increased ground clearance, the Trekking is at ease on challenging terrain. As with the Panda 4x4, the maximum departure angle from which it can drive away, without touching the ground, is 35 degrees and its breakover angle at the top of a hill is 19 degrees (MultiJet). The Trekking’s maximum approach angle without any part of it touching the ground is 20 degrees (MultiJet).

Up, up and away, the amazing flying Aston in Dubai

Aston Martin, the quintessentially British sports car maker, is today continuing its centenary celebrations in spectacular style at one of the world’s most recognisable luxury destinations, the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai. 
Today’s audacious event features the airlift of Aston Martin’s ultimate GT, the Vanquish, onto the helipad at the iconic hotel, in front of some of the region’s most important dignitaries.
It’s the first time a car has been placed onto the helipad, which sits 1,000ft above the ground at the top of the sail-shaped building.
Speaking from the helipad, Aston Martin CEO Dr Ulrich Bez said: “It is with great pride that we continue our centenary celebrations in such unique manner in the city of Dubai.
“Today we are achieving another world first – one of many for Aston Martin over the years. This is a true feat for Aston Martin and a fantastic way to begin a new century of global success for our iconic brand.”
The event today underlines the company’s position as a globally renowned luxury car brand, as Dr Bez explained: “Aston Martin remains one of the most exclusive and sought-after brands in the world, so it is only right that a key element of our year-long centenary celebrations takes place in a similarly high profile destination.”
Witnessing the remarkable event British Ambassador to the UAE Dominic Jermey said: “Aston Martin is one of the world’s most iconic automotive brands.  “I cannot think of a more spectacular or fitting way for this great British tradition to mark its one hundredth anniversary, particularly in this city that is so passionate for luxury and bespoke brands.”   
This week has already seen the official anniversary of the founding of Aston Martin 100 years ago with a ceremony in London’s Henniker Mews – the original home of the company founded on 15 January 1913.
Aston Martin is also marking the centenary with an exclusive Centenary Edition specification that will be available worldwide on just 100 examples of each of the car maker’s model lines: V8 Vantage, DB9, Rapide and Vanquish.
Featuring a unique graduated paint finish, solid sterling silver Aston Martin wings badges with tailored ‘trans flux’ enamel inlay and a special Aston Martin hallmark, the exterior represents an exclusive new celebration of the company’s 100-year history.
The events in London and Dubai mark the start of a year-long celebration of all things Aston Martin, with events taking place worldwide over the next 12 months.
In the UK, a week-long Aston Martin festival will take place from 15 July to 21 July. Designed to appeal to owners and enthusiasts of the brand, the Centenary Week will include ‘open house’ activities at Aston Martin’s exclusive Gaydon headquarters, including factory-based events and driving tours and will culminate in a 1,000-guest ‘birthday party’ on Saturday 20 July and a spectacular Centenary gathering in central London on Sunday 21 July.
This highlight of the centenary celebrations will be held in partnership with the Aston Martin Heritage Trust and the Aston Martin Owners Club will feature 100 of the brand’s most iconic cars in a multi-million pound timeline display. The event will also see one of the largest gatherings of Aston Martins in the 100-year history of the great British marque.
In addition, appearances at major automotive events throughout 2013 including Nürburgring 24-Hours, Silverstone Classic, Villa D’Este, Le Mans 24-Hours and Pebble Beach will ensure that the celebration is truly global.