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.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

World Record price for Aston Martin DB4 GT

A unique Aston Martin DB4GT fetched a world record price of £3,249,500, the highest ever price paid for an Aston Martin at auction, when it went under the hammer as part of the Aston Martin Centenary Sale at Aston Martin Works on 18 May 2013. The sale itself also realised a record total of over £10 million, with every lot sold.

The annual Bonhams auction of Aston Martin and Lagonda cars, the 14th to be held at Aston Martin Works, celebrated 100 years of the marque and had the distinction of being the first major event to make use of the new Heritage Showroom, the final stage of the major redevelopment of the historic Aston Martin Works site.

The DB4GT, nicknamed ‘The Jet’, was the last DB4GT to be built. It is the only one of its kind, with coachwork by Italian design house Bertone, and made its debut at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show. It was one of the first design commissions for Giorgetto Giugiaro, who would go on to become one of the most celebrated automotive designers of our time.

The previous owner commissioned Aston Martin Works to restore the DB4GT to concours condition, which went on to win 12 awards, including first in class at Pebble Beach and the Hurlingham Club, and best in show at Villa d’Este.

Other lots sold included several ‘barn find’ Aston Martin models, including a 1964 DB5 coupe in original condition and with fewer than 48,000 miles on the clock. In need of restoration after 30 years off the road, the DB5 fetched £320,700.

Kingsley Riding-Felce, Managing Director of Aston Martin Works, said: “This year’s Bonhams sale was a great success, with 197 lots finding new buyers and more than 2,000 customers and enthusiasts taking part. It was the first event to make use of the fully refurbished Olympia Building which now houses our Heritage Showroom, and that made the day all the more special.

“The Heritage Showroom allows customers to take advantage of the vast knowledge and experience of the Aston Martin Works team, whether for sales, service or our world-renowned restoration division. We can now provide the unique experience of being able to view and compare cars from every era of Aston Martin’s 100 years.”

Jamie Knight, Bonhams Group Motoring Director commented: “As ever the day was tremendous, with both Bonhams and Aston Martin Works contributing much to ensure this was once again one of the highlight sales on the global auction calendar. ‘The Jet’ realising the highest price ever achieved for an Aston Martin here at Newport Pagnell was a fitting tribute in the marque’s Centenary Year.”

R.I.P. Bill Bruce

Infiniti has lost its founder, Bill Bruce, who passed away on May 28 at age 70. Bruce was the first General Manager when the Infiniti brand was launched in the U.S. in 1989 from where it set out to enter other global markets.

He is widely credited for introducing Infiniti’s concept of “Total Ownership Experience” which revolutionized the industry at the time. Bruce joined Infiniti’s parent company, Nissan, in 1982, and retired from the company in 1999.

“Bill Bruce has laid the foundation for the Infiniti brand worldwide,” said Johan de Nysschen, President of Infiniti Motor Company, Ltd. “He got wide acclaim and respect for his vision to provide customers with an outstanding experience throughout their entire ownership of the car. This caused a major shift in the car industry overall, and so he left a lasting mark. We are saddened by this loss and our thoughts are with his family.”

Kia announces recall for over 25,000 UK cars

  • Faulty switch may mean brake lights do not illuminate
  • Various vehicles built between 2006 and 2011 affected
  • Fix takes less than 15 minutes

Kia Motors (UK) Limited is recalling 25,192 vehicles sold in the UK for the replacement of a possibly faulty brake light switch on a variety of cars built between 2006 and 2011.

On-going monitoring of vehicle operations and Research and Development checks have discovered that in certain circumstances the faulty switch may cause the vehicle’s rear brake lights to not illuminate – or may not turn off after the brake pedal is released.

The vehicles affected in the UK include the previous model Carens, Sedona, Sorento and Sportage, some current Sorento and Soul models, and a very small number of Optima models.

The problem is caused by carbonisation on the switch contacts that can lead to the electric current being interrupted. The problem does not affect the braking performance or the operation of anti-lock brakes in any way. Kia Motors (UK) Limited is not aware of any accidents being caused by this problem.

Owners of affected vehicles will be contacted by Kia Motors (UK) Limited and will be invited to take their vehicles to their local dealer where the switch will be replaced free of charge. The switch change takes just a few minutes to complete and no other work is required.

Any owner can contact Kia Customer Services on 0800 0158757 for further information.

In detail, the vehicles affected are: 1,128 Sedona models built between November 2006 and June 2007; 4,246 previous model Sorento units built between May 2007 and December 2008; 8,080 previous model Sportage units built between September 2007 and January 2010; 3,535 previous model Carens units built between March 2008 and November 2009; 3,525 current Sorento units built between October 2009 and April 2011, 4,676 Souls units built between June 2010 and June 2011 and two Optima models built between August 2010 and April 2011 are included in the programme.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Rolls Royce opens boutique showroom in Bangkok

  • The world’s first Rolls-Royce Boutique Showroom is opened at Bangkok’s luxury shopping mall, Siam Paragon
  • Second showroom in Bangkok underlines strong demand and business success
  • Rolls-Royce Lifestyle Collection launched for the first time in Thailand
  • Rolls-Royce Motor Cars today launched the world’s first Rolls-Royce Boutique showroom at Bangkok’s Siam Paragon Mall, presenting the pinnacle in retail shopping.

The showroom was officially opened by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Asia Pacific Regional Director, Paul Harris; General Manager for Emerging Markets Asia, Herfried Hasenoehrl and Vivat Thamchuanviriya, Chairman of Master Group Corporation (Asia) Co., Ltd.

Rolls-Royce Luxury – Personalisation

Designed to aid customers in the creative process of commissioning a Rolls-Royce motor car, the two-car showroom is a smaller, intimate Boutique where customers are invited to use their imaginations and mix and match woods, leather or select from a palette of 44,000 different colours. Within the Bespoke lounge, leather, wood and paint samples allow customers to touch, feel and visualise their artistic desires when commissioning their own Rolls-Royce motor car. In addition, the Rolls-Royce configurator is available for customers to create their design on screen at the touch of a button, truly bringing the creative process to life.

The Rolls-Royce Bespoke programme allows customers to personalise anything from a treadplate or headrests with their initials to more complex accessories such as a picnic set or luggage that is designed for their exact needs. Customers have been known to use wood from their own orchard or to specify their own personal paints.

Rolls-Royce Lifestyle Collection

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Bangkok showcased a number of accessories previously not seen in Thailand. The Rolls-Royce neck scarf is the perfect finishing touch for any outfit, made from 100% Italian Silk, with a white Spirit of Ecstasy pattern. This exquisite piece is exclusively available in wildflower, the colour of the Spirit of Ecstasy Centenary Collection cars. Additional items include the Rolls-Royce silk tie, featuring an image of Eleanor Thornton on the reverse who it is thought the Spirit of Ecstasy was originally modelled on; and Spirit of Ecstasy cufflinks, made from sterling silver and modeled on the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy.

General Manager Chatvithai Tantraporn said: “Siam Paragon is now home to the ultimate in super-luxury motoring: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. We welcome the boutique into the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Bangkok family as a space that fits into our customers’ lifestyle, enabling them to visit us during their retail time or to join us for exclusive events and showcases of our highly Bespoke collections.

The showroom is designed to inspire creativity: our customers are able to design their car with the help of the Bespoke team and expert craftspeople from the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, England – the only limit being one’s imagination.”

Herfried Hasenoehrl, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars General Manager for Emerging Markets – Asia, said: “The Boutique is an intimate showroom perfectly positioned in the centre of the city to display the ultimate in super-luxury, refinement and quality. With inspirational designs and samples on display, customers are encouraged to share their bespoke desires, and allow us to make their dreams a reality.

Opening a second showroom within only their first year of operations demonstrates how our authorised Bangkok dealer is truly devoted to our customers’ needs, reinforcing yet again their exceptional commitment to our brand.”

The Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Bangkok Boutique is located on the second floor of Siam Paragon luxury shopping mall.

About Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is the world’s leading producer of Bespoke, super-luxury motor cars.

All cars are hand-built by master craftspeople at the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, England.

It takes 60 pairs of hands between one and six months to build a Rolls-Royce motor car, in a tireless pursuit of quality echoing the famous words of company founder, Sir Henry Royce: “Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it.”

Despite a number of economic challenges worldwide in 2012, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars revealed record sales results for 2012. 3,575 cars were sold globally during the year, which represents the third consecutive record and the best sales result in the marque’s 109-year history.

2014 Malibu showcases a number of improvements

  • Fuel-saving start-stop technology added to standard model
  • Rear knee room improved by 1.25 inches
  • Chassis and suspension developments enhance drive experience

Chevrolet today unveiled the 2014 Malibu – a roomier, more refined and more efficient execution of its midsize sedan. Updated styling, a revised interior, a new 2.5L standard engine and suspension enhancements highlight the changes. It goes on sale this fall.

“The 2014 Chevrolet Malibu builds on the strengths established by the all-new 2013 Malibu to make it a stronger choice for customers,” said Mark Reuss, president, General Motors North America. “The midsize sedan segment is the most contested in the industry and we’re not sitting still with the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu.”

The new and enhanced features include:

  • Revised front-end appearance
  • Roomier rear seat with 1.25 inches (31.7 mm) more knee room
  • Redesigned center console
  • New 2.5L engine with variable valve lift control and start/stop technology helps deliver estimated fuel economy of 23 city / 35 highway – a 5-percent improvement in city mileage and 3-percent greater highway efficiency
  • Nearly 14 percent more torque from the available 2.0L turbo engine – 295 lb-ft of torque (400 Nm) – engineered for a greater feeling of power on demand
  • Suspension enhancements derived from the all-new 2014 Impala engineered to contribute to a more refined driving experience
  • New available Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert safety features

Malibu’s revised front-end appearance is influenced by the all-new Impala, creating a more cohesive look across Chevrolet’s sedan lineup. The front fascia features a new, more prominent lower grille and the hood extends down and over the leading edge of a narrower upper grille. The grille openings – with black grille texture – are wider and accented with chrome.

Inside, redesigned seats contribute to greater rear-seat space and greater comfort. The front seatbacks are shaped to improve rear-seat knee room, while new cushion sculpturing and revised cushion material allow passengers to sit deeper in the rear seats. Approximately half an inch was trimmed from the front of the rear seat cushion, for greater comfort behind passengers’ legs.

The Malibu’s redesigned center console has a longer armrest designed for greater comfort, along with a pair of cup holders and dedicated storage for two cell phones.

“We made changes within 18 months, demonstrating an unprecedented commitment to make the Malibu the best car it can be,” said Ken Kelzer, executive chief engineer, global full-size and midsize cars. “The 2014 Malibu has been engineered to deliver more precise ride and handling that is on par with more expensive sports sedans.”

More efficient, powerful powertrains
An all-new Ecotec 2.5L Intake Valve Lift Control DOHC four-cylinder engine with direct injection is the 2014 Malibu’s standard engine. Its variable intake valve actuation enhances efficiency and helps lower emissions, while also enhancing low-rpm torque, for a greater feeling of power at lower speeds. When the iVLC system operates in low-lift mode, the engine pumps only the air it needs to meet the driver’s demand. The system switches to high-lift mode at higher speeds or under heavy loads, providing the full output capability of the engine.

New start/stop technology shuts down the 2.5L engine to save fuel when the Malibu stops momentarily, such as at stoplights, contributing to an estimated 5-percent increase in city fuel economy. The engine automatically starts again when the driver takes his or her foot off the brake. An auxiliary battery powers electric accessories such as the climate system, power windows and radio during engine restarts.

The new 2.5L is SAE-certified at 196 horsepower (145 kW) and 186 lb-ft of torque (253 Nm). Revised transmission shift points and quicker shifts also enhance the feeling of performance – while delivering greater refinement.

Additionally, the 2014 Malibu’s available 2.0L turbo engine delivers nearly 14 percent more torque than its predecessor. It is SAE-certified at 295 lb-ft (400 Nm). New engine calibration and tuning account for the improvement, making the Malibu 2.0L turbo’s torque the best in the segment, even among competing six-cylinder-engines. The result is a stronger feeling of acceleration from a stop and a greater feeling of power on demand in almost all driving conditions.

The 2.0L turbo also produces an SAE-certified 259 horsepower (193 kW).

Chassis refinements
Chassis and suspension updates inspired by the all-new 2014 Impala also contribute to the 2014 Malibu’s more refined driving experience, including rebound springs that are internal to the struts. They enable more refined calibration of the dampers for a smoother overall ride, while also improving body roll control and weight transfer during acceleration or turning. That helps keep the wheels planted, contributing to a more precise, controlled feel – especially while cornering.

Fuel-saving electric power rack-and-pinion variable-effort power steering is standard and enables nearly effortless low-speed maneuvers and a higher degree of steering feel at higher speeds. Revised, higher-effort calibrations for 2014 were engineered to improve the overall steering feel. Also, the Malibu’s brake system has been revised to provide a more confident feel.

Additional chassis control technologies include four-channel anti-lock brakes, full-function traction control, four-corner electronic stability control, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist system, corner brake control, hydraulic brake fade assist and drag torque control.

Enhanced safety
New Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert safety features are offered, adding to the protection from a car that received a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score in the New Car Assessment Program from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a 2013 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Both are the highest ratings possible.

Malibu also comes with 10 standard air bags and an available rearview camera system.

Caterham goes back to roots with new low priced Seven

Caterham Cars will release a new, affordable entry-level version of the iconic Seven that harks back to the philosophy that inspired its creation.

The car will come with an accessible price tag at under £17,000 and will pay homage to the brand’s engineering DNA of ‘adding lightness’, with a super-compact, flexible and EU6-compliant engine.

As Caterham celebrates 40 years of developing and manufacturing the Seven, the new car will take the brand back to its simple design roots but remain entirely true to Caterham’s mantra of delivering “accessible fun”.

The as-yet unnamed car will be launched in Autumn this year, with first deliveries expected before the end of 2013.

Caterham Cars CEO, Graham Macdonald, said: “As we celebrate our 40th anniversary at Caterham, it feels good to be taking the brand right back to where it started. Colin Chapman designed the original Seven to be entirely ‘fit-for-purpose’ – a racing car for the road with the driving experience at its heart.

“With that in mind, the new entry-level Seven will be uncomplicated, easy to run and, most important of all, an intuitive and exciting drive.”

With Caterham’s minimalist DNA being applied to every aspect of the new Seven, including the engine, the car also stands a good chance of being the most fuel-efficient Seven ever built.

Details of the powertrain, which is being developed in conjunction with the Caterham Group’s engineering consultancy, Caterham Technology & Innovation, will be revealed in due course, along with further specification details.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

NCAP awards Renault another 5 star award for the Captur.

Renault Captur has been awarded a five-star rating following passive tests carried out by Euro NCAP. The result was achieved despite further increasing of the independent body’s scoring procedure in January 2013 and provides additional evidence of Renault’s passive safety expertise.

Renault Captur obtained a global score of 80.5 percent to become the 15th Renault model to secure Euro NCAP’s maximum five-star passive safety rating.  In addition to this formal recognition of its safety performance, Renault Captur also delivers reassuring dynamics thanks to its precise, responsive chassis.

A holistic approach for optimal protection of all occupants.
The objective was clearly for Captur to provide the same high standard of passive safety as New Clio, since both cars share the same platform. Renault’s safety performance is founded on the results of road accident research and the real-world behaviour of motorists with a view to developing safety solutions based on an even more holistic, efficient approach. To guarantee even more effective occupant protection, Renault Captur’s electronic architecture was designed to ensure that the latest-generation protective systems are triggered even sooner.

Adult occupant protection
In a head-on impact, Captur’s front occupants are protected by two high-efficiency airbags, as well as by seat belts equipped with pretensioners and load limiters calibrated at 400daN. At the rear, all the seats are equipped with three-point seat belts, plus load limiters for the outer seats.

Specific work concerning occupant protection in the case of side-on impacts has been rewarded with the impressive score of 7.9 from 8. In order to detect impacts and to respond up to twice as quickly, Captur features two impact detection sensors on each side, one in the front doors and the other in the B-pillars. A specific algorithm adjusts the way the new-generation head-thorax airbags are deployed to match the severity of the impact.

Combined with those of the ‘pole’ and ‘rear impact’ tests, these results helped Renault Captur to obtain 32 points from a possible 36 for adult protection, which is one of the best results ever obtained in the small car segment.

Child protection
Thanks to the overall design of its structure and to the availability of three-point Isofix child seat anchorage for the front passenger seat and the outer rear seats, Captur’s child protection rating figures among the very best in the B segment with a score of 39 points out of a possible 49, despite the recent increasing of procedures.

Renault Captur among the very best for pedestrian protection
The front end of Captur was designed to minimise injury to pedestrians. The bumper has no salient edges, while the lower part of the windscreen, which is traditionally very rigid, was designed to reduce the risk of injury in an impact. Meanwhile, the height of the bonnet was raised in order to incorporate a crumple zone between the structure and the uppermost parts of the engine. Thanks to a score of 22 points out of 36, Renault Captur has emerged as one of the best cars in its class in this area, too.

Safety in its genes… plus equipment
Renault Captur is equipped with cruise control and a speed limiter as standard, as well as audible and visual seat belt reminder warnings for all seats, plus ESC. It consequently claimed a score of seven points based on the new, more severe scoring methods.

A pragmatic approach and real engagement
Renault’s approach to safety is founded on a detailed study of actual accidents and real world safety with a view to proposing products that correspond with the realities on the road, including the incorporation of safety equipment as standard from the very first equipment level. The priorities consequently focus on the development of the most efficient technologies to a) prevent an accident happening in the first place, b) ensure corrective action can be taken in unexpected situations and c) protect passengers when an impact does occur. Renault’s holistic approach does not boil down to just one equipment feature or technology. Over the years, Renault has emerged as a benchmark for automotive safety and this is mirrored in the results its models have secured in media ratings.

When it comes to active safety, the qualities of the chassis, combined with auto-adaptive digitalisation of the vehicle’s dynamics, permits emergency situations to be detected with precision. The ABS and ESC functions, which are both standard, are even more efficient and are triggered at just the right moment to prevent jarring. The emergency brake assist function is incorporated in an electronic control unit/hydraulic unit.

Last but not least, work on ergonomics means that drivers are able to concentrate on the road ahead. For greater comfort, the clarity and graphics of the instruments have been designed for information to be particularly easy to absorb. Renault Captur also benefits from modern driving aids such as advanced navigation, voice commands for certain functions (in the case of versions equipped with the R-Link multimedia system), the automation of tasks such as headlight and windscreen wiper activation, plus rear parking sensors, and even a reversing camera for certain versions. All versions of Captur are equipped with Bluetooth® hands-free telephony.

NCAP awards Chevy Trax the full 5 stars

Chevrolet's all-new small SUV, the Trax has been awarded the top five-star rating by the independent consumer organisation European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP), which released its latest results today. The Chevrolet Trax is the seventh Chevrolet model to receive Euro NCAP's top ratings, joining the Aveo, Volt, Cruze, Orlando, Malibu and Captiva.

Even though the Trax was evaluated under the new more stringent 2013 Euro NCAP protocols, it proved to be among the safest cars in its segment.

"The bold and rugged Trax exterior design suggests a high level of safety at first glance. Safety is, among others, one of the purchase reasons for SUVs. We are really proud of the five-star NCAP test result, confirming what Trax customers expect from our new small SUV," said Susan Docherty, President and Managing Director of Chevrolet and Cadillac Europe.

The Euro NCAP results showed that in the Adult Occupant category, the Trax scored an excellent 94 per cent. Among others, the Trax achieved maximum points in the side barrier test, providing occupants with good protection for all body regions. Good scores were also received for frontal impact while the Trax provided good protection against whiplash injury thanks to adjustable seat and head restraints in the eventuality of a rear impact.In the Child Occupant category, the Trax received favourable results in the side impact test and child restraint installation.

Referring to the Pedestrian Safety category, Euro NCAP reported that the Trax bumper provides good protection for pedestrians in all areas and scored maximum points.

In the Safety Assist category, the Trax’s standard safety equipment – such as Electronic Stability Control and speed limitation assistance – met Euro NCAP’s test requirements.

Chevrolet has taken safe driving one step further with the introduction of Siri Eyes Free.  Through the Chevrolet MyLink connected radio technology available in the Trax, customers with a compatible iPhone* can direct Siri to perform a number of tasks while they safely keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.

The Chevrolet Trax started arriving at European Chevrolet dealerships in May. It gives buyers many of the benefits of a full-blooded SUV while combining the driving dynamics and fuel economy of a smaller car. Trax offers a maximum of versatility, from its flexible modern passenger cabin and on-demand all-wheel-drive to the Chevrolet MyLink enhanced radio connectivity.

The vehicle tested by Euro NCAP was an LT trim front-wheel-drive Chevrolet Trax equipped with a 130 hp 1.7L diesel engine.

Aston launches new V12 Vantage.

  • New AM28 engine generates more power than ever: 573 PS at 6750 rpm
  • Debut of new seven-speed Sportshift™III AMT transaxle
  • Top speed climbs to 205 mph   

Aston Martin is taking sports car performance to extremes with the announcement of the new V12 Vantage S.

The new car replaces the outgoing V12 Vantage in markets around the world and, with the exception of the One-77 hypercar, arrives as the fastest road-going Aston Martin yet offered.

Providing the most visceral yet engaging sports car experience in the British luxury car maker’s current range, the new V12 Vantage S delivers exceptional sporting agility underpinned by admirable long distance refinement.

Equipped with the new 573 PS Aston Martin AM28 6.0-litre V12 engine, featuring latest generation Bosch engine management, the car is capable of reaching 205 mph.

Peak and low rev torque improves appreciably, too. With 620 Nm available at 5,750 rpm – up from 570 Nm previously – the V12 Vantage S is not to be found wanting. Crucially, too, low rev torque – measured at just 1,000 rpm – leaps from 440 Nm to 510 Nm. This serves to both flatten and fatten the torque curve, thereby significantly improving driveability.

Aston Martin Chief Executive Officer Dr Ulrich Bez said: “The new V12 Vantage S is, simply, pure Aston Martin. It is extreme in its nature yet truly timeless in its design language.

“Learning from our successes on the track feeds the development of this type of car and I'm proud to launch such an exciting sports car in this, our centenary year.”

Race car technology runs right through the DNA of the V12 Vantage S with, for instance, CNC machined combustion chambers and hollow cam shafts just two examples of track technology feeding through to the road.

Another clear example is the new car’s new gearbox. The Sportshift™III AMT (automated manual transmission) is a major development of the automated manual gearbox that appears in the current V8 Vantage S.

Designed and engineered to exploit the full sporting potential of the V12 engine, the new Sportshift™III hydraulically-actuated automated manual transmission provides motorsport-style paddle shift changes for optimum performance delivery and efficiency. The unit is also appreciably lighter than the outgoing six-speed manual gearbox – saving 25 kg.

This race-derived and motorsport proven technology – used routinely in Aston Martin Racing’s race-winning Vantage GT4, GT3 and GTE competition cars – provides for great driver control with only milliseconds of torque interruption and delivers precise and swift gear changes.

The Sportshift™III transaxle, from transmission experts Oerlikon Graziano, joins an extensive array of new sport- and track-focused developments that ensure the V12 Vantage S is fully equipped to exploit the huge performance potential of its 6.0-litre naturally aspirated AM28 engine.

The debut of three-stage adaptive damping – another ‘first’ for the Vantage family – allows the driver to more precisely tailor the car’s dynamic character. ‘Normal’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Track’ modes provide a broad swathe of dynamic performance that can be tuned to better suit the driver’s requirements. The system also governs the level of power steering assistance offered.

Working alongside the extended adaptive damping system is a ‘Sport’ mode, controlled via a button on the centre console, that alters throttle response, gearshift speed and timing, and exhaust note to, once again, tune the character of the car to the driver’s requirements.

A whole new exhaust system – derived from that of the One-77 hypercar, no less – is lighter, smaller and, crucially, even more sonorous than that of the outgoing car.

The ZF Servotronic power assisted steering is new, too. With a quicker 15:1 ratio, it is linked to the adaptive damping button and offers two-mode steering assistance designed to best match the ‘Sport’ or ‘Normal’ settings generated by the Adaptive Damping System.

Pure power, beautifully presented

The V12 Vantage S has been restyled to reflect is position as the flagship of the new Vantage range.

Most noticeable, perhaps, is the car’s grille that does away with the famous aluminium vanes – replacing them with a new carbon fibre arrangement that also includes sporty black carbon fibre or titanium silver mesh. Created to maximise airflow to the V12 engine, the new grille is inspired by that of the remarkable new CC100 Speedster Concept, nicknamed DBR100, which debuted at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring earlier this month and signals a new era of Aston Martin design language.

Other clues that single out the car as new include the debut of new lightweight forged alloy ten-spoke wheels, and a subtle yet distinctive exterior graphics pack that includes black painted roof and part-painted boot panel.

The new V12 Vantage S of course retains the same compact proportions and muscular stance as its predecessor, while features such as the pronounced bonnet vents and flared wheel arches underscore its sporting abilities.

Inside, as out, the new car has been styled to reflect its powerful nature. New-style seating with Sport and carbon fibre Lightweight seat options, revised stitching and welt detailing, two leather grade options – Luxmill and semi-aniline – plus the possibility to include Alcantara, present V12 Vantage S buyers with an exciting array of trim choices.

The optional Carbon Fibre Interior Pack, which adds the material to the car’s facia and door pulls, plus the availability for the first time in a V12 Vantage S of black pedals, further enhances personalisation options for those in search of a truly bespoke sports car.

Dr Bez added: “The new V12 Vantage S is our most extreme Vantage to date – engineered to bring race car performance and technology to the open road.

“It is our most powerful engine in a beautifully tailored suit. It is elegant, yet brutal, and it is at the same time easy to control. It has everything that sums up Aston Martin: power, beauty and soul!”

Vauxhall Super saloon get supercharged V8

  • New VXR8 GTS gains 150bhp and 140lb ft of torque…
  • …yet costs just £5k more than outgoing model
  • Supercharged LSA V8 engine now standard
  • Substantially revised exterior & interior
  • Raft of new technology, including Brake Torque Vectoring and Forward Collision Alert

An Eaton supercharger, 6.2-litre V8 driving the rear wheels, nearly 600bhp and a soundtrack guaranteed to make your hairs stand on end: welcome Vauxhall’s new VXR8 GTS, which can be ordered from today with first deliveries at the end of the year.

Based on sister company HSV’s new GEN-F GTS, the VXR8 GTS is the most powerful production car ever to emerge from Australia. And with an on the road price of just £54,999 in the UK it allows owners the least expensive membership into the 500bhp+ club.

‘The very fact that cars like the VXR8 GTS still exist proves that there is a small, but immensely passionate band of customers out there who want to drive something which is unique and special,’ said Stuart Harris, Vauxhall’s Head of Carline Brand. ‘In its new GTS form the VXR8 offers colossal power and torque in a package that is more technology-led than ever before, yet still retains that unique VXR8-character that no BMW or Mercedes can match. It’s also around £20k less than its main rivals – the M5 and E63 AMG – yet has more power than either.’


At the heart of the VXR8 GTS is a new supercharged LSA V8 (identical to that used in the recently launched Chevrolet Camaro ZL1), delivering 576bhp and 545lb ft of torque, an increase of 150bhp and 140lb ft respectively over the outgoing, LS3-engined VXR8. Performance figures will be released soon, but bear in mind that even the naturally-aspirated VXR8 achieved a 0-60mph time in 4.9 seconds and a limited top speed of 155mph…

The new VXR8’s Eaton supercharger has 4-lobe rotors, 9psi boost and 1.9 litres of air per revolution. Unlike a turbocharged car, the Eaton supercharger provides the VXR8 with stronger and more linear performance across its entire rev-range. Other LSA features include:

  • Stand-alone water to air charge cooling system
  • Separate transmission and differential cooling system
  • Water to oil engine cooling system
  • Bi-modal air-intake system
  • High-flow exhaust manifolds and exhaust system with Bi-modal silencers
  • Delivering drive to the rear axle is the latest MG9 spec 6-speed manual transmission with oil cooler and twin-plate clutch (an optional 6-speed automatic transmission is also available).


The new front-end design of the VXR8 GTS has bold graphics and shallow ramp angles that emphasise width and stance. The focal point of the new look is a ‘twin-nostril’ grille and an all-new fascia that helps to deliver both an aggressive look and an air intake surface large enough to cool the LSA V8.

In fact, a total of 130,000 square millimetres of open frontal surface was needed to deliver the cooling required for the new engine – 75 per cent more than the outgoing LS3-engined car.

Daytime running lights – which can now operate when the headlights are turned on – and 20-inch ‘Blade’ forged alloy wheels complete the front-end design.

At the rear, the VXR8 GTS has distinctive LED tail lamps, while the ‘diffuser’ rear fascia houses quad exhaust outlets finished in shadow chrome. A unique body-coloured performance rear spoiler with black accents helps set the GTS apart still further.

Inside, the VXR8’s cabin design has undergone a raft of design changes. An upgraded instrument panel with suede-style inserts, a new instrument cluster, gauges, centre console, appliques and door trims combine to deliver a more premium look and feel.

Standard in the VXR8 GTS, all-new VXR Performance Seats are wrapped in Onyx leather trim and feature 8-way electric adjustment and seat heaters for both the driver and front passenger.


To cater for the extra performance offered by the LSA engine, the VXR8 GTS is fitted with an all-new Brake Torque Vectoring technology. Brake Torque Vectoring helps reduce understeer by generating a ‘rotational moment’ in the rear axle while the car is under power. The Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system detects the understeer, applies braking to the inside rear wheel and transfers torque to the outside rear wheel, preventing the front end from washing wide.

The VXR8 GTS also receives third-generation Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) with three independent settings: Touring, Sport and Track. Hardware and software improvements combine to deliver greater body control, sharper handling and a significantly more pliant ride quality, compared with the outgoing model.

Wider tyres also offer drivers more grip. Continental 255/35 R20 (front) and 275/35 R20 (rear) were chosen as standard equipment, due to their exceptional performance in both wet and dry conditions.

To assist drivers in manipulating the various electronic vehicle performance systems, a new Driver Preference Dial has been developed. Located behind the gear lever, the Driver Preference Dial adjusts settings to one of four modes: Touring, Sport, Performance and Track. The vehicle’s ESC, Traction Control, Launch Control (manual transmission only), and Bi-Modal Exhaust, as well as its Brake Torque Vectoring and new Electronic Power Steering, are then adjusted accordingly.

The VXR8 GTS’s braking capacity has been dramatically increased with the fitment of AP forged 6-piston calipers with two-piece discs front and rear. Combined with the increased disc diameters, the calipers – forged from 6061 T6 aluminium – offer a vastly improved strength-to-weight ratio and deliver noticeable improvements in brake modulation and feel. The rear brake pad size has also been increased by 12 per cent.

‘With our new forged calipers, larger rotors and increased pad size, we’re confident that the GTS brake package is the equal of anything in the world,’ said HSV’s Chief Engineer, Joel Stoddart.


The VXR8 has now come of age, and features an array of technologies never seen before in this model.

In addition to the Side Blind Zone Alert with Reverse Traffic Alert, Automatic Park Assist, Front and Rear Park Assist, Reversing Camera and Passive Entry/Push Button Start, the GTS also picks up a number of additional driver convenience and safety technologies.

Head Up Display is standard and shows a raft of driver information on the windscreen, such as vehicle speed, engine temperature, and even G-forces!

Forward Collision Alert is another technology fitted standard to the GTS, and is the first system of its kind to be available in a Vauxhall product. A camera, located above the rear-view mirror scans the road ahead up to 14 times per second. When a crash is predicted, the driver is alerted with an audible tone and a visible alert on the car’s HUD. Anticipating hard braking, the system applies sufficient brake pressure to close the space between the brake pads and discs, thus delivering a quicker brake response time.

Using the same camera technology, the VXR8 GTS also has Lane Departure Warning. Designed to combat driver fatigue, a warning indicator and audible sound alerts the driver to any unintentional lane departures.

Lambo to celebrate 50th birthday at Chomondeley

  • Pageant to celebrate the 50th birthday of famous Italian car manufacturer
  • Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera returns to reclaim lap record
  • Display of Lamborghini models, classic and modern
  • Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster will make its UK public debut

Lamborghini is to celebrate its 50th anniversary – ‘100 years of innovation in half the time’ – at the 2013 Cholmondeley Pageant of Power (14-16 June, www.cpop.co.uk), giving visitors the chance to experience the heart and soul of the brand as classic and modern Lamborghinis take to the event’s 1.2-mile race circuit for full-bore timed runs. There will also be a display of classic vehicles, showing visitors the colourful evolution of the iconic Italian marque.

Lamborghini will showcase its latest models, including the all-new Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster, which has a 6.5-litre V12 engine producing 700 hp that powers the car from 0-to-62 mph in just 3 seconds.  This is the first time the car will be on public display in the UK.

Favoured to reclaim the lap record for Lamborghini on the Pageant’s tight and twisty circuit will be the Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera Edizione Tecnica, the very latest version of the brand’s lightweight model.  Until 2012, a previous version of the Gallardo Superleggera held the lap record around Cholmondeley, completing the course in just 62.68 seconds.

Marking five decades of production for Lamborghini, there will also be a display of some of the brand’s most famous models from its history, including a rare 1988 25th Anniversary Countach, a Diablo, the first model from the brand to top 200 mph, and the Jalpa, one of only 410 ever manufactured by Lamborghini in the 1980s.

Members of the Lamborghini Owners’ Club will also be present at Cholmondeley to display their cherished cars to the attending public.

James Hall, Event Director for the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power, said: “Lamborghini has produced some of the world’s most beautiful and powerful cars, and the brand is the first that springs to mind of many when the word ‘supercar’ is mentioned. While the Gallardo Superleggera will once again be contesting to reprise its lap record, the backdrop of the Pageant, with fast and beautiful cars from all eras of motoring and motorsport, will ensure Lamborghini enjoys a loud and typically flamboyant celebration of its first five decades in business.”

Now in its sixth year, the 2013 Pageant will take place on the Cholmondeley Estate in Cheshire from 14 to 16 June, celebrating power and performance in its many forms.  Until 13 June, adult tickets start at just £24 for the Friday Preview Day, and £32 to see all the action on Saturday or Sunday.  Under-16 tickets are currently available from just £5 for the Friday Preview Day and £7 for Saturday and Sunday tickets.

To buy tickets or find further information, visit www.cpop.co.uk.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Jaguar Land Rover proves again that it can sustain a solid increase in sales, income and profits

  • Record sales, revenues and profits
  • Retails 374,636, up 22%  
  • Revenues £15.8bn, up 17%
  • Profit before tax £1,675m, up 11%
  • Successful launches of all-new Range Rover, Jaguar XF Sportbrake and new AWD XF and  AWD XJ and several engine derivatives

Jaguar Land Rover Automotive plc has today reported revenues of £15.8bn for the fiscal year ended 31st March 2013, up 17% year on year (£13.5bn last year).

Retail sales increased 22% to 374,636 vehicles, supported by significant product actions including the all-new Range Rover, Jaguar all-wheel drive XF and XJ and the XF Sportbrake. The company generated positive sales growth in all regions: China up 48%, Asia Pacific up 27%, UK up 20%, Europe up 18%, North America up 9% and other overseas markets up 19%.

Profit before tax increased by 11% to £1,675m for the fiscal year (£1,507m last year).

Commenting on the results, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Ralf Speth said: "The positive result for the financial year demonstrates that we have strong demand for our great, solid product portfolio all around the world.

“During this period Jaguar Land Rover unveiled major new products, the all-new all aluminium Range Rover and the Jaguar Sportbrake, the AWD XF and AWD XJ and the stunning F-TYPE.”

Dr. Speth continued:“Jaguar Land Rover invested significantly in the product creation process, in our advanced manufacturing sites and created more than 3,000 jobs. This commitment is set to continue with a sustained programme of investment which will see us spend in the region of £2.75bn on new product, people and infrastructure in the year to March 2014.”

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Welsh Winner walks away with one off Juke - Kapow - Bam - Biff

Some Hollywood glitz and glamour were sprinkled onto a corner of Wales recently, when Nissan handed over a very special one-off Batman-inspired Juke NISMO to its lucky new owner.

Carmarthen residents were amazed to see the famous Tumbler drive through their town with Nissan's Dark Knight Rises™ Juke NISMO following just behind it. Bringing some big screen drama to west Wales, the two cars then took pride of place in front of Carmarthen Castle where the keys to the unique Juke were given to competition winner, Adam Williams.

Self-confessed action film fan and local baker, Mr. Williams bagged the Dark Knight Rises™ Juke NISMO after taking Nissan's Thrill Test. He said:  "I can't believe I've won this fantastic car. It was the biggest surprise of my life and I was so excited to take delivery of it. I'll certainly turn a few heads driving around Carmarthen. It's great to think I'm the only person in the world with my very own version of the Batmobile!"

Produced to celebrate Nissan's partnership with Warner Bros and the release of the third film in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy on DVD and Blu-Ray, the Dark Knight Rises™ Juke NISMO features a host of Batman-inspired details making it the envy of every movie fan and car buff.

Based on the new Juke NISMO, The Dark Knight Rises™ Juke NISMO features the same 1.6-liter turbocharged engine driving the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox - giving it a 0-62 mph time of 7.8 seconds - as well as a NISMO body kit, uprated suspension and enhanced interior. But in addition, it has a whole host of Batman-inspired details that will make Adam Williams feel just like Bruce Wayne.

Matte black paint gives a menacing look reminiscent of the on-screen Tumbler, while a shark fin antenna replaces the standard car's conventional aerial. In addition to NISMO badging, there are aluminum Bat badges on the front grille and tailgate while the unique gloss black 18-inch alloy wheels include bespoke red detailing, matching the eye-catching pinstripe on the bumpers and sills of the standard Juke NISMO.

Open the door and you're greeted by Bat logos on the kickplates and reflective Bat badges on the headrests of the suede-trimmed NISMO sports seats. Thanks to down lighters mounted under the door mirrors the famous Bat signal can be projected onto the floor area around the doors. A clever uplighter projects the same signal onto the black headlining inside too.

The Dark Knight Rises™ Juke NISMO was the work of Nissan's very own Batcave - Nissan Design Europe, based in London's Paddington, the same studio responsible for the design of the original Juke.

Since going on sale in January 2013, the Juke NISMO - Nissan's first NISMO model for Europe - has outstripped expectations. "We're not even halfway through the year and we're already well ahead of our target, having sold nearly 600 cars," said Juke product manager, Jon Davies. "That's a fantastic achievement and proof that buyers love the Juke NISMO's combination of accessible performance, stylish looks and generous equipment."

AUDI continues to develop the e-tron range with the new A3

  • - Audi A3 Sportback e-tron: sporty plug-in hybrid
  • - Audi A3 Sportback g-tron: optimum carbon footprint
  • - Audi tron models combine driving pleasure with sustainability

One of the strategic corporate objectives of Audi is to develop technologies that combine driving fun with sustainability. It seeks solutions that strike a balance between individual mobility on the one hand and economy, ecology and the requirements of Audi customers on the other. The models of the Audi tron family demonstrate especially well how these seemingly opposing pulls can be reconciled. g-tron stands for drive concepts that run on synthetic Audi e-gas and natural gas and achieve an excellent COâ‚‚ footprint. The first production model to pave the way for COâ‚‚-neutral long-distance mobility is the A3 Sportback g-tron. The term e-tron, on the other hand, stands for the systematic electrification of the driveline. As one outcome of its research and development projects in this area, Audi is now going into volume production with the A3 Sportback e-tron, the first premium compact car with plug-in hybrid drive.

With its plug-in hybrid concept, the A3 Sportback e-tron combines the advantages of the combustion engine with those of electric drive. The entire expertise that Audi has built up in the sphere of hybrid technology has been channeled into its concept. The parallel driveline features a 1.4 TFSI working in tandem with a powerful electric motor. The power is transmitted to the front wheels via a newly developed e-S tronic. The liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery is located ahead of the front axle; it stores 8.8 kWh of energy, enough to drive 50 kilometers (31.07 miles) purely electrically and therefore with zero local emissions.

With 150 kW (204 hp) of system power and 350 Nm of system torque (258.15 lb-ft), the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron is a sporty premium compact vehicle. It accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 7.6 seconds and reaches a top speed of 222 km/h (137.94 mph). The overall range is 940 kilometers (584.09 miles) and the electric range 50 kilometers (31.07 miles). Consumption measured in accordance with the ECE standard averages just 1.5 liters of fuel per 100 km (156.81 US mpg), equivalent to CO2 emissions of 35 grams per kilometer (56.33 g/mile). The A3 Sportback e-tron will go on sale from the end of 2013.

The A3 Sportback g-tron interprets the principle of sustainable mobility in a new, pioneering way. Its 1.4-liter TFSI engine runs on Audi e-gas, a synthetic fuel that in chemical terms is almost identical to natural gas and can therefore be distributed as mains natural gas. This fuel, which the brand with the four rings produces at its newly completed facility in Werlte, in the Emsland district, is CO2-neutral. Its starting components are water and carbon dioxide, and it is produced using exclusively renewable power. The A3 Sportback g-tron will be arriving at dealers before the end of this year.

Motor sport is the ideal development lab for new technologies, and the toughest test environment is the 24 Hours of Le Mans. At last year’s competition on the Sarthe circuit, the R18 e-tron quattro brought Audi a historic double victory with a hybrid racecar that highlights just how much power an electrified driveline can put on the road.

In terms of its concept, the LMP-1 prototype is an uncompromising racing car, but in numerous individual areas it harbors potential that could ultimately find its way into production models The V6 TDI in the 2012 Le Mans winner supplies over 375 kW (510 hp) and 850 Nm (626.93 lb-ft) to the rear wheels. The motor-alternator unit (MAU) on the front axle is always good for 150 kW of extra thrust when accelerating out of a bend. Here it uses energy that it has captured during braking operations and stored temporarily in a flywheel energy storage system. When both electric motors on the front axle are active, the LMP-1 prototype becomes a quattro.

As well as the R18 e-tron quattro, last year Audi brought out a second high-tech car – the all-electric-drive R8 e-tron high-performance sports car. It sprints from a standstill to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 4.2 seconds and is governed at 200 km/h (124.27 mph). Its two electric motors supply the rear wheels with a combined 280 kW of power and 820 Nm of torque (604.80 lb-ft).

With its body made from aluminum and carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic polymer (CFRP), the multimaterial space frame of the Audi R8 e-tron is the latest manifestation of the ultra lightweight construction technology of Audi. Every facet of this high-performance sports cars demonstrates the sheer breadth of what is technically feasible. All components are systematically configured for maximum performance and range. All Audi production developments will now benefit from the expertise acquired throughout this project. There is for instance the large T‑shaped battery that doubles up as a supporting element and stores almost 49 kWh of energy, enough to drive 215 km (133.59 miles). The heat pump controls the temperature of the interior and assemblies energy-efficiently. The aerodynamics have also been optimized for maximum efficiency. The engineers of Audi have covered all key aspects of electric mobility with the R8 e-tron.

The Audi A1 e-tron is a technology demonstrator of entirely different stature. It is conceived as a specialist for urban driving. Its electric motor achieves peak output of 85 kW. The battery stores 13.3 kWh, making a operating range of 50 km (31.07 miles) possible. For longer journeys a rear-mounted combustion engine, which in its second development stage develops 25 kW (34 hp), charges up the electric motor via an alternator. Audi is participating in the German government’s “Electric Mobility Showcase” pilot project by running the A1 e-tron in six regions throughout the country in order to obtain more practical findings.

The A3 Sportback g-tron and A3 Sportback e-tron already show how diverse the Audi range of technologies for sustainable mobility is. Audi will be bringing further pioneering cars onto the market in rapid succession.

Fiats 500L lands in North America

  • The ship carrying the first 3,000 units docked in the port of Baltimore (United States) on the 23rd May. On the 26th May it completed the delivery of the remainder of its cargo to the port of Halifax in Canada.
  • The vessel set sail on the 10th May from the port of Bar in Montenegro, where its cargo of 500L cars had arrived by train from the Kragujevac plant in Serbia, the largest vehicle manufacturing plant in South-East Europe.
  • The Fiat 500L is the only model in its segment with constantly growing sales in Europe despite the difficult economic climate. Nearly 34,000 units have been sold and registered since its launch.

On the 23rd May, the ship carrying the first 3,000 Fiat 500L units for the North American market has docked in the port of Baltimore (United States) to unload its first consignment. The vessel then set sail for the Canadian port of Halifax where it completed the delivery of the remainder of its cargo on the 26th May.

The 3,000 cars were first taken by train from the Kragujevac plant in Serbia to the port of Bar in Montenegro, where they were loaded on the 10th May, ready for their trip to the coasts of America.

Production of the North American 500L model began at Kragujevac, the largest car factory in South-East Europe, in March. Last February, Fiat was awarded the prestigious title of 'Companybest 2012' by a jury from Autobest, the organisation for the automotive industry in emerging European markets, precisely for its investment in the reconstruction of the Serbian plant, which is now one of the most modern car factories in Europe.

Fiat Automobiles Serbia (FAS) plans to produce between 110,000 and 150,000 units in 2013 to satisfy demand from over 100 markets around the world, including North America, Asia and the Pacific region, where the Fiat 500L model is about to be launched. To cater for expansion in production and ambitious export plans for the Fiat 500L, the Serbian plant has taken on around 600 extra workers. The plant currently employs just over 3,000 people and gives work to a further 1,200 in supplier companies.

Elegant, innovative and environmentally friendly, the Fiat 500L is destined for certain success. It is compact on the outside but spacious on the inside, exceptionally versatile and boasts all-round protection, certified by the prestigious EuroNCAP 5 star safety rating. It is the only model in its segment with constantly growing sales in Europe despite the difficult economic climate. Nearly 34,000 units have been sold and registered since its European launch in late 2012.

These impressive figures confirm the great potential of the 500L. The car can be described as Fiat's 'City Lounge' as it effectively combines characteristics you would normally consider to be mutually incompatible: the compact external dimensions typical of the B segment, with the performance, generous interior and rich equipment typical of the C segment.  All this comes at an accessible city-car price and with added value you cannot find elsewhere: the distinctive personality of the Fiat 500, a real Italian design icon.

The 500L stands out for its reduced emissions and fuel consumption, wide range of passenger space configurations and excellent flexibility in luggage carrying solutions. In fact, it boasts the best passenger space index in its class. Panoramic windows also guarantee the best visibility in the segment. Running costs and performance are another two best-in-class features. The range has also been complemented by the recent addition of two new engine options (the 105 HP 1.6 MultiJet II and the 105 HP 0.9 TwinAir Turbo)  and the new Trekking version, offering a distinctive off-road look with raised suspension to cope with rough ground, as well as "Traction+" Fiat's innovative and intelligent system for additional front traction control. M+S tyres fitted as standard equipment will also improve grip over slippery surfaces. All this without compromising the space and functionality of the basic 500L, the Fiat 'City Lounge' designed to deliver life's little pleasures and its greatest emotions: kids, friends, travel, music and community.

One fascinating fact: the 3,000 Fiat 500L units shipped to North America are equipped with the brand new 160 HP 1.4 MultiAir Turbo engine. This engine has been specially developed for the North American market and boasts the highest specific power, highest absolute power (160 HP) and highest torque (250 Nm) in its class. It is available with a manual, six-speed gearbox or six-speed dual dry clutch automatic transmission - another exclusive for this class of engine - so the North American Fiat 500L delivers excellent performance and great driving pleasure. These enviable characteristics are made even more interesting by typical European handling and precise, responsive steering.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Jaguar Land Rover shine at J.D. Power /What Car awards

  • Jaguar named Best Brand by the J.D. Power and Associates/What Car? 2013 UK Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study (VOSS) sm  
  • Jaguar XF receives Best Executive Car accolade
  • Land Rover named ‘Star Brand’ with improvements across all nameplates

Jaguar is the number one automotive brand in the UK, according to data collated in the Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Survey (VOSS) and Land Rover is one of the most improved brands in 6th place and entering the top ten list of manufacturers for the first time.

Data from this survey is analysed by J.D Power and Associates in partnership with the definitive UK car buying guide; What Car?, who together have identified Jaguar as Best Brand in the UK for the second successive year and named Land Rover as their 2013 ‘Star Brand’.

Jaguar also claimed top spot for its XF model in the J.D Power and Associates / What Car? survey Executive Car category. The XF is Jaguar’s highest-selling product and has received more than 100 international awards since its launch. The XF was given five-star ratings for performance, service and running costs. Owners commented that they didn’t regret spending a single penny on their Jaguar XF, rating it as ‘excellent’ across all categories.

Participants in the J.D. Power / What Car? survey noted the high levels of comfort in the XF, citing its luxurious interior and intuitive controls.

Jaguar UK dealers received commendation in the study, and were reported to be helpful, accommodating and provide servicing and repair work at reasonable costs.

Land Rover has shown consistent steady improvement in the survey climbing to 6th place from 12th in 2012 and 14th place in 2011.

The Land Rover Discovery was the best performing nameplate for Land Rover up 29 places and coming top of its class for reliability. The Land Rover Freelander also showed improvement scoring particularly well in terms of ownership experience.

The study considered the opinions of over 16,000 UK car owners who rated 116 car models from 28 brands. Chas Hallett, What Car? Editor-in-Chief said: “Once again we have received a great response to this year’s annual JD Power / What Car? survey. This clearly shows that car owners are eager to provide manufacturers with feedback on their experiences. It is fantastic to see two British car manufacturers perform so well. Jaguar is triumphant for the second year running in the study – owners gave Jaguar cars - and slick customer service from its dealers - a big thumbs up”.

Chas continued “Freelander owners noted improved dealer service and less onerous overheads. Meanwhile, the Discovery gave drivers a less taxing time, with 30% fewer faults reported; in fact, the SUV led its field for reliability.”

Jeremy Hicks, Managing Director, Jaguar Land Rover UK, said: “Jaguar and Land Rover have excelled in the results of this study and we are proud that our cars and dealer network have performed so well.

“The new car market is fiercely competitive and to have a British manufacturer placed as the top automotive brand by UK car buyers for the second year in a row is a phenomenal achievement. We aim to offer customers outstanding products through an aggressive growth plan, made possible by sustainable investment in design, engineering and manufacturing here in Great Britain.”

Anniversary models to celebrate 50 years of McLaren

  • Anniversary edition of the groundbreaking 12C and 12C Spider to mark 50 years of McLaren
  • A maximum of 50 examples of each of the 12C and 12C Spider are to be built featuring unique styling and specification enhancements

As part of the continued celebrations for the 50th anniversary of McLaren, a commemorative model is to be produced, celebrating five decades of race-winning technology and expertise of the British brand. Production of the McLaren 50 12C will be strictly limited to a maximum of 100 globally, split between just 50 examples of the 12C and 50 of the 12C Spider.

The McLaren 50 12C and McLaren 50 12C Spider feature a number of bespoke styling and specification enhancements to mark the milestone event, which will be celebrated on 2 September. These have been produced by McLaren Special Operations (MSO), the division of McLaren Automotive responsible for the delivery of bespoke projects, in conjunction with the McLaren Automotive design team led by Design Director, Frank Stephenson.

Revisions include a remodelled, CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics)-optimised front bumper from MSO, which provides increased levels of front downforce, and is inspired by the limited-run HS Edition models, to create a more dynamic visual impact. The lower section of the colour-coded bumper, framing the air intakes, is constructed from carbon fibre, while the front floor is made from race-derived carbon Kevlar. Above the bumper, a black McLaren F1-inspired heritage badge, previously only available to MSO clients, is also fitted on the bonnet.

As standard, the McLaren 50 12C and 12C Spider models are fitted with the carbon ceramic brake upgrade, with 394x36mm discs at the front, and 380x34mm at the rear. Offering enhanced stopping power, these sit behind bespoke McLaren 50 Ultra Lightweight wheels finished in Satin Black. This unique design, 19-inch at the front and 20-inch at the rear, offers a combined 2kg saving over the optional Super Lightweight wheels.

Inside the cabin, the McLaren 50 12C models are upholstered with a full leather upgrade, while subtle branding to the carbon fibre sill panel and floor mats is complemented by an anniversary dedication plate on the driver’s door which highlights the limited run.

Available in one of three striking colour finishes – Carbon Black, Supernova Silver or heritage McLaren Orange – exterior aesthetic enhancements for the McLaren 50 12C continue with carbon fibre turning vanes offering further visual appeal, and featuring the McLaren 50 logo.

Each of the McLaren 50 models will be presented with a monogrammed black and silver car cover, limited edition key, carbon fibre presentation key box and a specially commissioned print signed by McLaren Automotive Design Director, Frank Stephenson.

The recommended retail price in the UK for the McLaren 50 12C is £196,000, and £215,500 for the McLaren 50 12C Spider.

SEAT launches Leon in mexico to consolidate increased sales

  • New Leon goes on sale in Mexico, set to boost SEAT’s international growth
  • SEAT singles out Mexico as key country in its expansion plan
  • SEAT’s global sales grow 20.5% in April 2013, compared to April 2012
  • Spanish company experiencing sharp growth in numerous countries
  • SEAT UK sales up 9% so far in 2013

SEAT has officially launched the new Leon in Mexico, a move that will strengthen the Spanish brand’s strategy for international growth and profitability.

The market introduction of the car, in June, will consolidate SEAT among the ten best-selling brands in the North American country, after growing 60% over the past two years.

SEAT has already grown by 8.5% in Mexico during the first four months of 2013, having registered 7,360 vehicles – making it the ninth best-selling brand in the country.

In 2010, SEAT recorded a share of 1.7% in passenger car retail sales in Mexico, selling 13,380 units. That number grew to 18,115 in 2011, and rose further to 21,114 last year, showing a pattern of consistent growth for the brand in the vital territory that is set to continue. SEAT has a network of fifty dealerships in the country, which will increase over the next few months.

These numbers make Mexico SEAT’s sixth most important market, and the second most important outside Europe, after Algeria. For the sector as a whole, Mexico is the world’s fifteenth most important automotive market, and the third most important in the Americas, behind the US and Brazil. In 2012, Mexican car sales were close on the one million mark.

The success of the Ibiza in Mexico is unprecedented, and SEAT wants to repeat that success with the new Leon, more than 25,000 units of which have been sold in Europe in less than six months.

The five-door Leon will go on sale in Mexico in June, with the SC following towards the end of 2013. Both models will be built at the Barcelona Martorell production plant. In Mexico, SEAT currently exports the three- and five-door versions of the Ibiza, the Altea XL and Altea Freetrack, the new Toledo and, to date, the second-generation Leon.

“We are delighted at the way the brand has been moving,” says Edgar Estrada, head of SEAT in Mexico. “We are confident that the strength of the new Leon will help us continue to grow in Mexico. Our commercial offer is renewed with the Leon, which enables enjoyment of the latest technology and offers great value for money,” he adds.

SEAT sales grow 20.5% in April

SEAT exports 83% of its total car production and is present in 77 countries – a fact that enabled it to grow worldwide by 11.5% between January and April 2013, compared with the same period last year. In April SEAT sold 30,058 vehicles globally, 20.5% more than in the same month in 2012.

In Germany, the company’s main market, SEAT sales have grown by 30.6% so far this year, reaching a figure of 23,702 vehicles. In Spain the brand has delivered 22,356 vehicles (+10.7%), with another 14,784 in the UK (+9.0%). The company has also seen strong growth outside Europe during the same period, with 7,822 vehicles sold in Algeria (+137.6%), 2,126 in Turkey (+111.1%), and 1,217 in Russia (+310.5%).

SEAT UK enjoys record-breaking April

SEAT UK registered 3,983 sales in April – more than in any other April in the history of the company, and a 33% improvement on the same month in 2012. This number eclipses the 14.8% overall UK market growth in April.

Within those sales, SEAT doubled its corporate and retail order take compared to April 2012, which is a strong indicator that SEAT’s range has more showroom appeal than ever.

April’s sales total means that SEAT is currently on course for a record-breaking market share in 2013, significantly higher than the record 1.9% it achieved in 2012.


SEAT is a Spanish motor company and member of the Volkswagen Group. It employs more than 14,000 people worldwide and offers a broad range of cars: Mii, Ibiza, Ibiza SC, Ibiza ST, Toledo, Leon, Leon SC, Altea, Altea XL, and Alhambra. Each combines the best German engineering with a distinct Spanish design theme, imbuing every one with a unique character.

The firm began its UK operations in September 1985, registering 24 cars in its first month, and 405 for the year. That number soon grew to more than 10,000 by 1988. A decade later it was 18,500-plus, and by the year 2000 SEAT was selling upwards of 20,000 cars in the UK. In 2013, SEAT is on course to break the 40,000 barrier for the first time in its history.

SEAT UK enjoyed a record-breaking year for sales in 2012 – its best since the brand was introduced in the country. In total, 38,798 cars reached new owners, representing a 1.9% market share – both figures that eclipse those of 2011, itself a record year for the company. In fact, since 2008 SEAT has defied the economic climate by registering year-on-year sales volume and market share increases. SEAT is a company on the rise.

The word SEAT is an acronym of the original company name: Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo, and is therefore written in block capitals. SEAT was founded on 9 May 1950 with production of its first vehicle, the 1400, beginning in 1953. The 600 model, launched in 1957, is the car credited with putting Spain on wheels. So successful was it that sales hit one million by 1968. Volkswagen bought 51% of the company’s shares in 1986, taking a 99.9% share in 1990.

SEAT’s production is concentrated at the ultra-modern Martorell plant, near Barcelona, which in February 2013 celebrated its 20th anniversary. The company also has a major research and development facility – the Martorell Technical Centre – in which around 1,250 highly qualified staff work. And, in 2007, SEAT opened both a new centralised Design Centre and cutting-edge Prototype Development Centre at Martorell, bringing its entire production process together in one city.

SEAT has a proud history of international motorsport success, most recently claiming back-to-back driver and manufacturer titles in the 2008 and 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championships. SEAT Sport secured these prestigious successes via its mould-breaking Leon 2.0 TDI – the first diesel car to win races in both the BTCC and WTCC.

Jaguar celebrates successful Mille Miglia

The stars and the Jaguar cars entered into the Mille Miglia 2013 all feature in a new short film now available to watch and share at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBPiuVvjp3M&feature=youtu.be

The 1,000 mile tour, which is a celebration of ‘The World’s Most Beautiful Race’, captures the feedback from the high profile line-up of drivers that accepted invitations from Jaguar to partake in the epic drive event across Italy.

In the seats of three stunning examples of the Jaguar XK120 were driver pairings of Sir Chris Hoy and Andy Wallace; Daniel Day Lewis and Jim Gianopulos and David Gandy partnering Yasmin Le Bon.

The cavalcade of official Jaguar Heritage Racing cars in the event was doubled in size by the entries of three remarkable C-Type sports cars. Driver double-acts in lightweight C-Types included Jaguar Regional Director for Europe Bernard Kuhnt and actress Hannah Herzsprung, Alex Buncombe with Chris Harris, and Salvatore Ferragamo Jr. alongside Michael Quinn – the grandson of Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons.

More than 400 classic race and road cars of unique heritage were entered into the Mille Miglia this year. The record number of entries meant that the Jaguar drivers – of which only Jim Gianopulos and Bernard Kuhnt have previous experience – were jostling on road with some of the most significant sports cars ever built by the world’s most prestigious manufacturers.

Sir Chris Hoy, an Ambassador of the Jaguar Academy of Sport, said: “Being asked to drive with Le Mans winner Andy Wallace in the Mille Miglia was a privilege and I was delighted to take part. It is a technical event that participants take very seriously – I enjoyed its deeply competitive nature and I’m delighted to have made my debut with Jaguar.”

Globally-recognised supermodel David Gandy commented: “The Mille Miglia is an event like no other. It was on my ‘bucket list’ and despite gruelling hours spent on the road each day in difficult weather conditions, the reaction to our car from thousands of fans across Italy and the euphoria Yasmin and I experienced crossing the finishing line made it all worthwhile.”

Jaguar is committed to celebrating its unique, rich heritage as the company continues its recent exciting growth. Bernard Kuhnt said: “Our presence at the Mille Miglia was particularly significant this year as we are launching the new F-TYPE sports car across the world. To bring together the finest Jaguar cars ever made, with some remarkable characters behind the wheel, and to have five F-TYPEs chasing them throughout beautiful Italian countryside was a sight to behold.

“I am extremely thankful to the drivers in our team for spending their valuable time with Jaguar and I am grateful to the Mille Miglia organisers for allowing us the opportunity to enter this spectacular celebration of classic motorsport.”

Limited Edition Alfa's hit the showrooms

  • Alfa Romeo launches ‘special series’ Giulietta Collezione
  • Only model in segment with a contrasting roof as standard
  • Premium styling with chrome and titanium detailing
  • Alfa Giulietta range starts from £18,265 OTR

Alfa Romeo has introduced a special series Collezione range to its Giulietta line-up. The Alfa Giulietta Collezione features a distinctive contrast roof as standard – unique in the class – together with premium body styling, elegant interior touches, dynamic powerplants and upgraded specification. The Limited Edition Collezione range is priced from just £18,265 OTR.

The Alfa Giulietta Collezione is available in three signature Alfa colours; Solid Black, Alfa Red and Ghiaccio White, all featuring a contrasting roof as standard. The Solid Black models are complimented with a matte magnesio grey roof whilst the Alfa Red and Ghiaccio White models feature a solid black roof.

Completing the dynamic look are 17 inch Titanium finish alloy wheels, titanium effect wing mirrors and darkened headlight surrounds and chrome door handles.

Contrasting on the inside as well as the outside, the Alfa Giulietta Collezione features new black and red competizione cloth upholstery – a distinctive fabric with contrasting stitching and titanium finish inserts on the door inserts, central console and dashboard. For driver comfort and air conditioning and Blue&Me come as standard on the Collezione.

The special series is powered by a choice of four engines – a 1.4 TB 120bhp or 1.4 TB MultiAir 170 bhp petrol and 1.6 JTDM-2 105 bhp and 2.0 JTDM-2 140 bhp diesels. Emissions are from just 114g/km CO2 and fuel economy is up to 64.2mpg on a combined cycle. Peace of mind comes as standard with a  three year unlimited mileage warranty and five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

The Alfa Giulietta Collezione range is priced from just £18,265 OTR with competitive financing packages on PCP from just £209 per month & 1.9% APR Representative^. Plus £1500 Alfa Romeo Deposit Contribution^^.

Damien Dally, Head of Brand, Alfa Romeo UK said; ‘The Collezione badge first appeared on the Alfa 147, and as with that model, it’s a signature that denotes style, dynamism and distinction. The Alfa Guilietta Collezione range goes the extra mile in styling and performance. With an impressive specification, including that unique contrasting roof, this special series stands out from the crowd, appealing to the heart and head.’

MG are getting desperate

MG dealers are offering everyone who takes a test drive in a new or used MG6 a mouth-watering special reward.

Between now and the end of June, anyone who takes a test drive will automatically qualify for a very tasty ‘dine in for two’ dinner from Marks & Spencer, worth £10.

Clint Cordle, MG’s Head of Marketing said: “It’s a really nice way for us to be able to say ‘Thank You’ to everyone who takes a test drive and we’re expecting to get a great response.

“We’ve got a fantastic range of new and used MGs and we’re getting more interest all the time, particularly as the new DTi-TECH diesels have been added to the MG6 range.

“As well as the dinner on us reward for taking a test drive, we’ve got some tremendous finance offers on the award-winning MG6 range. So it’s another reason for people to go along to an MG dealer or make contact with us.”    

The offers include help with finance deposits of up to £2,500 on new petrol models. While fans of the British Touring Car Championship who buy an MG6 BTCC Edition model can get race tickets and special team race wear for free.

For people who tow caravans or trailers, there’s more good news. MG is offering a free Witter tow bar with every MG6 DTi-TECH model sold. The towing weight for the new diesel models is an impressive 1,600kg.

MG Finance will contribute up to £2,500, including VAT, towards the deposit on MG6 GT SE and TSE petrol models and on MG6 Magnette petrol cars. Customers who buy the newly launched MG6 DTi-TECH diesel cars through MG Finance will get a £600 contribution, including VAT, to their deposit.

It means that customers now get support to buy an MG6 TCi-TECH petrol model from as little as £199 a month and the new DTi-TECH diesel models are available from £249 a month.

Summertime launch for new Merc E-Class models

Ahead of the great British summer, Mercedes-Benz has revealed the pricing and specification of the new E-Class Coupé and Cabriolet. The Coupé starts from £35,095 OTR, while drop-top driving in the form of the Cabriolet starts from £38,465 OTR.

As part of the new-look E-Class range, the Coupé and Cabriolet feature significantly enhanced standard specification and a stylish new look as part of the most extensive model revision ever undertaken by Mercedes-Benz.

Backing up the added style, the Coupé and Cabriolet are up to 21 per cent more efficient and feature the most advanced technology ever created for the Mercedes-Benz range of vehicles, including the introduction of the new Stereo Multi-Purpose Camera, which features two ‘eyes’ to produce a 3D view of up to 50-metres in front to aid many of the new or upgraded safety systems.

The new E-Class Coupé and Cabriolet are now available in two model lines – the SE, for the E 220 CDI engine only, and AMG Sport, which is offered on three diesel engines (E 220 CDI, E 250 CDI and E 350 BlueTEC) and one petrol – the E 200.

Both model lines of the Coupé and Cabriolet have a completely revised front end appearance with new partial LED headlamps comprising a single headlamp lens, and the single Lamella Sport grille. There is a new front bumper with a more pronounced V-shape and large air intakes and at the rear, new tail lamps and wide-effect rear bumper with 'wing design' and chrome-look trim.

In addition, the SE benefits from 17-inch five twin-spoke alloy wheels, a new front apron with single lamella Sport grille, leather upholstery with heated front seats and dark aluminium trim.

The AMG Sport models are enhanced by 18-inch twin-spoke alloy wheels, upgraded front brakes featuring branded calipers and perforated discs, new AMG bodystyling, visible twin-pipe exhaust, leather upholstery with multi-contour heated front seats, an AMG steering wheel in nappa leather with flattened bottom section and AMG floor mats.

Both model lines of the Coupé and Cabriolet have a completely revised front end appearance with new bi-xenon headlamps comprising a single headlamp lens, and the single lamella Sport grille. There is a new front bumper with a more pronounced V-shape and large air intakes and, at the rear, new tail lamps and wide-effect rear bumper with ‘wing design’ and chrome-look trim.

On the Cabriolet, the Aircap wind deflector now automatically engages at speeds above 25 mph and automatically closes at speeds below 10 mph, while the sound-insulating acoustic roof can be opened or closed in 20 seconds while driving at speeds of up to 25 mph.

For new AMG Sport models, there is the option of upgrading to the AMG Sport Plus package (available from October 2013, priced at £1,795), consisting of 19-inch AMG bi-colour alloy wheels, an AMG boot spoiler in body colour, red seat belts, AMG Sports seats in Artico/Dinamica with red stitching, AMG steering wheel with red stitching, AMG floor mats with red edging and red stitching on the door panels, centre console and armrest.

Additional optional equipment includes the new full LED Intelligent Light System (£1,280), new Aragonite Silver metallic paint (from October 2013, priced at £645) and new leather upholstery colours in Espresso Brown, Deep Sea Blue and Bengal Red.

The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupé is priced from £35,095 OTR and the Cabriolet from £38,465 OTR.