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, 22 June 2013


Danish driver Simonsen killed in Le Mans endurance race

Allan Simonsen. File photo

Allan Simonsen was participating for the seventh time in the world-famous race
Danish driver Allan Simonsen has died after crashing his car during the Le Mans endurance race in France, the organisers say.

They say the 34-year-old spun off after about 10 minutes of the race in his Aston Martin and hit the safety barriers at the Tertre Rouge bend.

He was taken to the medical centre at the premises but later died of his injuries, the organisers said.

It is believed to be the first death in the 24-hour annual event since 1997.

In a statement on Saturday, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest said: "In a serious condition, Allan Simonsen was transferred immediately to the Circuit Medical Centre where he died soon after due to his injuries."

The organisers expressed their "deepest condolences to the family and those close to Allan Simonsen".

The cause of the crash in western France is being investigated.

Allan Simonsen steers his Aston Martin Vantage number 95 before his accident. Photo: 22 June 2013

Allan Simonsen steers his Aston Martin Vantage number 95 before his accident.

Simonsen was part of the Aston Martin Racing team
Simonsen was participating for the seventh time in the race.

After the crash, the race was stopped for about an hour to repair the barriers.

Simonsen's death is believed to be the first in the race since 1986, when Austrian Jo Gartner died after hitting safety barriers head-on at 260km/h (160mph).

In 1997, French driver Sebastien Enjolras was killed during a pre-qualifying session after his car overturned and burst into flames.

Le Mans, 22 June 2013: It is with great shock and sadness that the Aston Martin Racing Team confirms that an accident occurred shortly after the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at around 15:09 hrs CET today (22 June) when the No 95 Vantage GTE driven by Allan Simonsen left the track at Tertre Rouge.
Tragically, and despite the best efforts of the emergency services in attendance, Allan’s injuries proved fatal.
Aston Martin Racing Managing Director, John Gaw, said: “On behalf of all of us at Aston Martin Racing, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the individuals, and families whose friends or loved ones were involved in today's terrible tragedy.”
Aston Martin Racing will not make any further comment until the precise circumstances of the accident have been determined.
Next of kin have been informed.
Following the ACO’s media statement concerning the tragic death of Aston Martin Racing driver Allan Simonsen, and at the specific request of his family, the team will continue to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in tribute to Allan.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Landmark milestone reached for famous manufacturing plant

  • Landmark milestone reached for famous manufacturing plant
  • Site investment continues with green technologies

This day 75 years ago in 1938, the first building block was placed at Pyms Lane marking the beginning of Bentley’s famous factory in Crewe.

Originally constructed to manufacture the Merlin engines which powered Spitfire and Hurricane fighters, the factory is now home to more than 3,600 Bentley employees who helped manufacture over 8,500 Bentley cars last year for discerning customers all over the world.

Member of the Board for Sales, Marketing and Aftersales Kevin Rose, commented: “This is an important landmark in the history of manufacturing in Crewe. Many great achievements have been made, and are still being made, here in the factory - from its original construction to producing cars for over 60 years that sit at the pinnacle of luxury automotive manufacturing.

“It is this continued investment, in both our product and our facilities that have made this possible, as well as our many thousands of employees who have worked so tirelessly to make the business and site run so successfully. This is a celebration for them as well, as we not only look to the past, but to the future where we will strive to continue this success.”

In the months leading up to Monday 20th June 1938, Rolls Royce, then owners of Bentley, was looking to expand production of its Merlin engine. The business considered different locations but identified Crewe for its quality and availability of engineers, and strong transport links.

Merrill’s Farm, Pyms Lane was the chosen site and 60 acres of land was purchased for the sum of £99 per acre. Ground levelling started immediately and in October 1938, production started, with 500 engines built and 2,000 employees based in the factory by the end of 1939.

The introduction of the new factory also had a considerable effect on the wider Crewe area, with 2,000 new houses built, many of which were to accommodate employees.

Production moved quickly, and by 1945, over 15,000 aero engines had been built when the decision was made to move predominantly to car production. Just a year later, the first Bentley was produced, the Mk VI.

Car production remained at a pace and now production continues in growing numbers and the Home of Bentley in Crewe is considered as a Volkswagen Group Centre of Excellence for its Wood and Leather and Trim manufacturing departments.

Developments continue at the Pyms Lane factory, with Bentley keen to invest in new technologies as part of its position as the third largest investor in research and development in UK automotive industry.

The manufacturer recently installed 20,000 solar panels with a capacity of 5MW, the UK’s largest roof-mounted solar panel installation, which will generate up to 40 per cent of Bentley’s energy requirements and reduce CO2 usage by 2000 tonnes per year.

The panels will also generate enough energy to power over 1,200 households in Crewe, once again in its 75th anniversary year, proving the valuable contribution the factory has made to the local and wider community.  

New F-Type gets to be the official pace car at Pittsburgh Vintage GP

Jaguar North America is proud to announce the all-new 2014 Jaguar F-TYPE will be the official pace car of the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, presented by SHOP 'n SAVE on July 21, 2013.

The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix is a ten day celebration closing with the Schenley Park Race Weekend on July 20-21, 2013.  Two 2014 Jaguar F-TYPE vehicles badged with the official Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix emblem, will pace the vintage races through the streets of Schenley Park. The cars will also serve as the official mascot of the event.

On Sale this summer, the all-new 2014 F-TYPE introduces a new sports car design language for Jaguar, incorporating bold, clean lines accented by the discreet use of technology, including a deployable rear spoiler and hidden door handles. This vehicle is the first new sports car that the brand has introduced in over 50 years. With front-engine, lightweight aluminum architecture and rear-wheel drive, the F-TYPE is engineered to be a true high-performance sports car. The car is powered respectively by the new Jaguar supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine in 340hp and 380hp outputs and a 495hp 5.0-liter supercharged V8.The Jaguar F-TYPE sports car has a starting MSRP of $69,000* for the 3-liter supercharged V6, 340hp model and is currently in showrooms.

"Jaguar has built its sports car heritage over 75 years, and the F-TYPE represents a continuation of a sporting bloodline in a thoroughly modern way," said Stuart Schorr, Vice President, Communications & Public Affairs, Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC. "And now, the F-Type, successor of the iconic Jaguar E-Type, will be on the road alongside the world-class vintage cars at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix."

The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix's mission is to produce a world-class vintage racing event in order to raise funds to help provide residential care, treatment and support for developmentally disabled individuals in the Pittsburgh region. This event remains the nation's largest vintage sports car racing event and the only one run on city streets.

*Price shown is MSRP. Does not include destination and delivery. Excludes, tax, title, license, retailer fees and optional equipment. Dealer price, terms and vehicles availability may vary. See your local authorized Jaguar Retailers for details.

2014 Buick LaCrosse, luxury and affordability in one car

The 2014 Buick LaCrosse luxury sedan goes on sale later this year with a suggested retail price of $34,060, including a $925 destination charge. Standard equipment includes next-generation IntelliLink connectivity, an eight-inch reconfigurable color cluster display, eight air bags and an eAssist powertrain that offers an EPA-estimated 36 highway mpg.

An all-new Ultra Luxury interior package is available for owners looking for the highest in fashion and comfort. The package includes a unique dark stained Tamo Ash wood throughout the cabin, jet black synthetic suede on the headliner and vanity mirrors, and Semi-Aniline full leather seats in sangria color. It is available on select trim levels as a $2,495 option.

Every 2014 Buick offers a full suite of active safety technologies, and two available package groups comprise the offerings for LaCrosse. A Driver Confidence I package includes Forward Collision Alert, Side Blind Zone Warning, Lane Change Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, articulating high-intensity discharge headlights, and a head-up display for $2,125.

The Driver Confidence II package includes Adaptive Cruise Control, an Automatic Collision Prep system, and a patented Safety Alert Seat that directs the driver’s attention using vibrations through the surface of the seat bottom. It is a $1,745 option that must be paired with Driver Convenience I.

LaCrosse is available with all-wheel drive on many V-6 models for customers who want the most sure-footed traction possible. On-demand traction is delivered via an advanced Haldex all-wheel drive with an electronic limited slip rear differential.

A 304-hp 3.6L V-6 engine is a no-cost option for the LaCrosse. With EPA estimates of 18 city/28 mpg highway for front-wheel drive models and 17/26 mpg for all-wheel drive, the 2014 model gains 1 mpg highway for both models and 1 mpg city for front-drive.

Other standalone options include various wheel choices, Bose audio, navigation, rear seat entertainment, and a sunroof.

Additional equipment, including rear park assist, a rear vision camera, passive entry and passive start, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, a power rear sunshade, and real-time dampening, are included as standard equipment in various LaCrosse equipment groups.

Every 2014 LaCrosse comes standard with two years or 24,000 miles of included regular maintenance and five years of OnStar RemoteLink Key Fob services. Regular maintenance includes oil and filter changes, tire rotations, and multi-point inspections. OnStar RemoteLink Key Fob services allow owners to lock and unlock the vehicle’s doors or activate remote start (on applicable models) using a smartphone app.

“LaCrosse is Buick’s flagship sedan,” said Tony DiSalle, vice president of Buick Marketing. “The 2014 model’s beautiful design, intuitive technology and exclusive interior materials show the best of a luxury brand that has grown sales for three straight years.”

Audi R18 e-tron quattro on the first three grid positions

  • Audi R18 e-tron quattro on the first three grid positions
  • Combination of TDI power and quattro drive is fastest
  • Frenchman Loïc Duval on pole at Le Mans for first time

 For the first time in the 90-year history of the Le Mans 24 Hours, two hybrid race cars are on the front row. On Thursday night, Audi Sport Team Joest with its three Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars took the three best grid positions for the world’s most important endurance race.

The intelligent combination of TDI power and quattro drive with which Audi celebrated the first-ever hybrid victory at Le Mans last year outperformed the competition on the 13.629-kilometre race track in Western France on both days of qualifying. The squad of the number ‘2’ Audi R18 e-tron quattro decided the battle for the top spot on the grid in its favour. The fastest time of 3m 22.349s (242.5 km/h), which Loïc Duval had achieved right at the beginning of the first qualifying session on Wednesday night, remained unbeaten on Thursday.

For the 31-year-old Frenchman, who is running together with Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Allan McNish (Scotland), this marks the first pole position at Le Mans, and the eighth for Audi. And as in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2012, the brand with the four rings secured the complete front row on the grid.

Starting the race from position two on Saturday will be the number ‘1’ Audi R18 e-tron quattro of last year’s winners Marcel Fässler (Switzerland), André Lotterer (Germany) and Benoît Tréluyer (France). André Lotterer was one of the few drivers who in the final qualifying session on Thursday night managed to improve over the day before on a track that was just slowly drying after rain showers and, by setting a time of 3m 23.696s, advanced from third to second place.

Le Mans newcomer Lucas di Grassi (Brazil), Marc Gené (Spain) and Oliver Jarvis (Great Britain) in the number ‘3’ Audi R18 e-tron quattro secured third place. The fastest lap of this squad (3m 24.341s) was driven on Wednesday by the seasoned campaigner Marc Gené.

As on the day before, incidents caused several red flags and shortened the time available for qualifying. Despite the few dry laps all three Audi teams managed to optimise the set-up of the three Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars on Thursday night for the race.

Before the race starts at 15:00, CEST, on Saturday another 45 minutes of practice time will be available in the morning’s warm-up session. 27 channels will broadcast the race live or delayed-as-live, including Eurosport in Europe. Live streaming including onboard footage of the three Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars will be available at www.audi-motorsport.com. Sports car fans can watch the most important endurance race of the year on www.lemans-tv.com as well. Audi is offering a live ticker on Twitter: @Audi__Sport.

The traditional Audi press conference at Le Mans will be broadcast live on www.audimedia.tv on Friday, starting at 14:00 CEST.

Quotes after qualifying

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “This is a nice way to start the weekend. Especially as all three cars set their fastest times during the normal preparation for the race. This is what we concentrated on in all the practice sessions so that all the drivers would be one-hundred-percent happy with the car. The first three positions on the grid are a nice reward for the whole team but, as always at Le Mans, not really crucial.”

Chris Reinke (Head of LMP): “The result looks pretty commanding and is a nice confirmation for the team. But we’re here to win the race, not the qualifying session. Tomorrow, we’re going to tackle the day with concentration and motivation in order to clarify the final details for the race.”

Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): “Today, the conditions were even a bit more chaotic than yesterday. Rain kept setting in and there were interruptions. We managed to make another step after we’d prepared the cars from scratch again overnight. All three driver teams are happier with the car’s balance than they were yesterday. They’re saying that they’ve got a good race car. That’s the most important thing because at Le Mans the qualifying result doesn’t mean very much.”

Loïc Duval (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “Yesterday’s lap time was enough to defend the pole position. That’s why we scored a Championship point that may be decisive at the end of the year. It’s always better to start from the pole position even though that doesn’t really mean a lot at such a long race. Still, we’re happy about the top spot on the grid. Yesterday, we weren’t completely satisfied with the balance of our cars yet, but today the set-up was much better. As the track at the end was faster today than it was yesterday I was a bit worried that we might still lose the pole position. But in the end, we made it. Everything went according to plan. That’s why we’re very happy with the result.”

Tom Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “One, two, three, that’s a dream result for Audi just as we’d been hoping for. After Loïc’s (Duval) dream lap yesterday we fully concentrated on the set-up for the race tonight. We’re all very happy with our car. But we’re still going to get together with the guys from the team and from Audi Sport to be really perfectly prepared. To stand our ground against the competition, we need a car that we can drive hard and fast for 24 hours.”

Allan McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “Congratulations to everybody at Audi Sport. We’ve spent a few rough weeks to prepare for this race. But we couldn’t have been off to a better start than on grid positions one, two and three. We’re on the top spot ourselves and have found a good balance in racing conditions for our car. On Wednesday, Loïc (Duval) managed setting a very impressive time on a pretty dirty track – that has made him enter the history books. Tom (Kristensen) and I felt very comfortable in the car as well tonight. We’re well set but, as always, these are very long 24 hours.”

Marcel Fässler (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “Congratulations to our sister car on clinching the pole position. André (Lotterer) recovered a place tonight and put our car on the front row – that makes me very happy. I finally got to drive myself as well today and was able to prepare for the race in different conditions.”

André Lotterer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “A brilliant result for the whole team. I’m personally very pleased too because we improved by another position. But more important was the fact that our Audi felt quite a bit better than yesterday. I didn’t expect us to have such a speed even on used tires. We’d saved the new ones for Ben (Tréluyer) because we were hoping for the track to dry off some more. Our second place is a superb starting base for the race.”

Benoît Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “Naturally, we’d have liked clinching the pole position but we didn’t have a clear lap at the end. We drove very fast intermediate times, so I think that we could have made it. Loïc (Duval), however, was struggling with traffic at the end and could have improved some more as well. But that’s part of motorsport. The whole team did a great job. It’s a brilliant result for Audi, but from now on, we’ve got to concentrate on the race.”

Lucas di Grassi (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #3): “All in all, it was a good qualifying session, even though there was more potential for our car at the end. I had a best time in the first sector at the end and was also running really well in the middle sector but in the final sector I got stuck in traffic. Having three cars at the front is a very good starting base for Audi but we all know that the race is very long.”

Marc Gené (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #3): “In the third qualifying session I was only able to do one lap, but that one was in the dark. Today, Lucas (di Grassi) showed that our car is fast, as I did yesterday. We feel well set for the race.”

Oliver Jarvis (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #3): “What we can say after qualifying is that we’ve got a very good car. We were running fast even on used tires. On new tires and a clear lap even the pole position might have been possible, so we’re starting the race with confidence.”

Qualifying results
1 Duval/Kristensen/McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 3m 22.349s 
2 Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 3m 23.696s
3 di Grassi/Gené/Jarvis (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 3m 24.341s
4 Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin (Toyota) 3m 26.654s
5 Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima (Toyota) 3m 26.676s
6 Prost/Jani/Heidfeld (Lola-Toyota) 3m 28.935s
7 Belicchi/Beche/Cheng (Lola-Toyota) 3m 32.167s
8 Leventis/Watts/Kane (HPD-Honda) 3m 36.547s
9 Pla/Heinemeier/Brundle (Morgan-Nissan) 3m 38.621s
10 Rusinov/Martin/Conway (Oreca-Nissan) 3m 39.535s

Nissan unveils LeMans prototype

Unique Nissan ZEOD RC is an innovative test bed for electric technologies

  • Nissan ZEOD RC will utilise the same lithium battery technology as used in the award-winning Nissan Leaf
  • The Nissan ZEOD RC will achieve speeds in excess of 300km/h
  • Multiple electric drivetrain technologies to be tested before racing in 2014 Le Mans 24 Hour and assesed for potential in LM P1
  • Nissan again at the forefront of Zero Emission and battery technology

Nissan today unveiled the groundbreaking, innovative ZEOD RC - the world's fastest electric racing car that will reach speeds of more than 300km/h with electric technology at the Le Mans 24 Hours

The ZEOD RC (Zero Emission On Demand Racing Car) will make its race debut at next year's Le Mans 24 Hour. The global leader in electric vehicles for the road, Nissan will trial variants of new electric drive train technologies as part of its intended future return to LM P1 competition to challenge for overall victory at the world's most prestigious endurance race.

Nissan's invitation from the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) to compete in the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours was announced by Nissan Chairman and CEO, Carlos Ghosn in Japan in February. The car will compete under the ACO's ‘Garage 56' entry - an additional spot on the grid for vehicles that showcase new and innovative technology.

Run as a Nissan / Nismo full factory international program with input from Japan, Europe and the US, the Nissan ZEOD RC design team is headed by Ben Bowlby who has been newly-appointed as Nissan's Director of Motorsport Innovation and previously worked on the Nissan DeltaWing program in 2012.

While the car will not race until next year's Le Mans 24 Hours, Nissan today kicked off a unique aspect of the program - race fans getting the chance to unveil the car in the public area of the Circuit de la Sarthe. Nissan intends to draw back the curtain for fans across the globe to provide continued updates via its international partnership with YouTube and its Nismo.TV channel.

"Nissan has become a global leader in the development of zero emission automotive technology and the Nissan ZEOD RC will allow us to further develop those capabilities using the toughest endurance race in the world as a mobile test bed to test the potential of our planned LM P1 power train," said Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President and Executive Committee member at Nissan Motor Company Limited.

"The Nissan ZEOD RC is a natural progression that follows on from the development of the Nissan Leaf road car and the Leaf RC race car prototype. The technologies developed through the ZEOD RC program will form part of future innovations for Nissan road cars.

"Nissan is already a global leader in the sale of all-electric cars and we're eagerly awaiting the opportunity to showcase the lessons learnt with the development of battery technology in the world's oldest, toughest and most high profile endurance race.

"The ZEOD RC program is designed to develop multiple technologies to evaluate how they could be used for a future LM P1 class return of Nissan at the Le Mans 24 Hour. There are multiple options we are investigating. A Zero Emission on Demand option where the driver can switch between electric and petrol-powered drive is a future direction for road cars, so that will be tested in addition to pure electric power and other new technologies that we still have under development.

"As no other manufacturer is using electric battery technology in endurance racing today, Nissan is innovating again and this will provide us with significant amounts of data and information to evaluate potential powertrains for future sportscar programs and allow us to continue as the leader in Zero Emissions technology on the road."

Launched in 2010, the Nissan Leaf has become the world's best-selling all-electric car. The Leaf won the 2010 Green Car Vision Award, the 2011 European Car of the Year, the 2011 World Car of the Year, and the 2011-2012 Car of the Year Japan.

Nissan launched the Nissan Leaf RC in 2011 - a race car prototype powered by the same 107-hp electric motor that is used in the road car.

While current battery technology does not provide the energy storage capacity to race a solely electric Le Mans prototype, Nissan ZEOD RC designer Ben Bowlby believes the development of the car will be an important step in the "electrification" of the racecars of the future.

"Developing a car like this provides an incredibly challenging test bed for what could be highly-effective options for road cars of the future. Throughout the next twelve months we will be testing multiple drive train options in an extensive test program," Bowlby said.

"We have many options to consider and test. The test program is part of a longer term goal of developing a system and a set of rules for this type of technology in partnership with the ACO that would be best suited to competing at the highest level of this sport."

"Nissan is a leader in electric vehicle technology for the road, now we want to take those lessons learnt and utilise that knowledge base in the development of the new race car.

"Our design team on the Nissan ZEOD RC program has concentrated heavily on packaging and aerodynamic efficiency that will not only provide extreme performance but high levels of energy efficiency - the goal for all global automakers.

"A large part of our work in the coming months is to discuss with the ACO future opportunities for the ‘electrification' of the Le Mans rules in the future and work towards delivering appropriate technology. Garage 56 is a bold move by the ACO to showcase Innovation and allow testing of untried components and systems for future competition use. To this end they are the most forward thinking promoter in Motorsport today."

Nissan will partner with French tyre manufacturer Michelin to produce tyres for the new prototype. Nissan previously joined forces with Michelin on the Nissan DeltaWing program. The Clermont-Ferrand-based manufacturer has an enviable record at the Le Mans 24 Hour, winning the past 15 consecutive races overall.

The Nissan ZEOD RC will make its testing debut later this summer. Nissan's assault on the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hour will again target victory in the P2 class with 15 of the 22 entries powered by Nissan. In the opening rounds of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship, Nissan has dominated, taking victory at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps.

Stunning Aston Martin V12 Vantage S - mmmmmmmmmmmmm

  • 0-60 mph time confirmed at 3.7 seconds (0-100 km/h 3.9 seconds)
  • Fastest accelerating Aston Martin to date, with exception of One-77
  • Pricing confirmed as £138,000 RRP in UK  

Aston Martin’s most extreme sports car, the new V12 Vantage S, is today confirmed as the brand’s fastest accelerating production car to date – with the exception of the limited edition, and sold-out, One-77 hypercar.

Taking just 3.7 seconds to sprint from 0-60 mph (3.9 seconds 0-100 km/h) the sports car underlines its position as not only the brand’s fastest accelerating production car, but also the most potent Vantage in Aston Martin’s glittering 100-year history.

Equipped with the new 573 PS AM28 6.0-litre V12 engine, featuring latest generation engine management, the car is capable of reaching 205 mph making it, also, the fastest sports car to wear the iconic Aston Martin wings – One-77 excepted.

With 620 Nm of torque available at 5,750 rpm the V12 Vantage S is as flexible as it is powerful. Low rev torque – measured at just 1,000 rpm – stands at 510 Nm and, driving the rear wheels through the new Sportshift™III AMT (automated manual transmission) ensures the car boasts true sporting driveability.

Aston Martin CEO Dr Ulrich Bez said: “The new V12 Vantage S brings our winning GT3 race formula to the road. It’s a car for those customers who want superior sporting performance in a ‘gentleman’s suit’. It’s the most pure, yet understated, driving machine we can imagine today.”    

As might be expected of such a potent machine, race car technology features throughout the V12 Vantage S. Aside from significant development time spent lapping the ‘green hell’ of Germany’s infamous Nürburgring to hone its dynamic capabilities and, of course, that motorsport-derived paddle shift gearbox, the new car includes such track-inspired components as CNC machined combustion chambers and hollow cam shafts.

Ian Minards, Product Development Director at Aston Martin, said: “Harnessing the sheer, raw, power of the AM28 engine – ensuring it is delivered in the most coherent, engaging way – has been a challenge for the Engineering team, but this record acceleration figure ably demonstrates that it is one we have more than met.

“With great motorsport successes already under our belt such as the WEC win at Silverstone and our superb showing at the recent Nürburgring 24 Hour race, plus the excitement of Le Mans just around the corner, it seems fitting that our most extreme road-going Vantage yet claims this acceleration record now.”

Nuanced, as well as potent, the new car includes technology which allows its driver to accurately tune its ride and handling. Three-stage adaptive damping means the driver can more precisely tailor the car’s dynamic character and exploit its clear performance potential. ‘Normal’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Track’ modes provide a broad swathe of dynamic capability, while 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, which alters throttle response, gearshift speed and timing, and exhaust note to, once again, tune the character of the car to the driver’s requirements.

The new ZF-Servotronic™power assisted steering boasts a quicker 15:1 ratio, in line with the car’s sporting pedigree, linked to the adaptive damping button. It offers two-mode steering assistance designed to best match the ‘Sport’ or ‘Normal’ settings generated by the Adaptive Damping System.

Pricing for the new V12 Vantage S is also confirmed.

In the UK the new car is available from £138,000 RRP; Germany €179,950 RRP; USA $184,995 MSRP; Dubai $230,995 (US$) and Australia AU$ 389,300, excluding local taxes where applicable.

Volvo Car Group has developed an ingenious concept for autonomous parking

The concept car, which will be demonstrated at a media event next week, finds and parks in a vacant space by itself, without the driver inside. The smart, driverless car also interacts safely and smoothly with other cars and pedestrians in the car park.

"Autonomous Parking is a concept technology that relieves the driver of the time-consuming task of finding a vacant parking space. The driver just drops the vehicle off at the entrance to the car park and picks it up in the same place later," says Thomas Broberg, Senior Safety Advisor Volvo Car Group.

Vehicle 2 Infrastructure technology, in other words transmitters in the road infrastructure, informs the driver when the service is available. The driver uses a mobile phone application to activate the Autonomous Parking and then walks away from the car.

The vehicle uses sensors to localise and navigate to a free parking space. The procedure is reversed when the driver comes back to pick up the car.

Interacts with other vehicles and road users

Combining autonomous driving with detection and auto brake for other objects makes it possible for the car to interact safely with other cars and pedestrians in the car park. Speed and braking are adapted for smooth integration in the parking environment.

"Our approach is based on the principle that autonomously driven cars must be able to move safely in environments with non-autonomous vehicles and unprotected road users," says Thomas Broberg.

Pioneering autonomous technologies

Volvo Car Group's aim is to gain leadership in the field of autonomous driving by moving beyond concepts and actually delivering pioneering technologies that will reach the customers. The Autonomous Parking concept is one of several development projects in this field.

Volvo Cars has also been the only participating car manufacturer in the SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project, which was successfully completed in 2012. The project involved seven European partners. It is the only one of its kind to focus on technology that can be implemented on conventional highways on which platooned traffic operates in a mixed environment with other road users.

The SARTRE platoon included a lead truck followed by four Volvos driven autonomously at speeds of up to 90 km/h - in some cases with no more than a four-metre gap between the vehicles.

Autonomous steering in the next XC90

"The autonomous parking and platooning technologies are still being developed. However, we will take the first steps towards our leadership aim by introducing the first features with autonomous steering in the all-new Volvo XC90, which will be revealed at the end of 2014," concludes Thomas Broberg.

Special parade to mark 50 years of Italian supercar

  • Special parade to mark 50 years of Italian supercar
  • Legendary test driver joins the Silverstone Classic celebrations
  • Aventador Roadster to head stunning cavalcade

Legendary Italian supercar marque Lamborghini is celebrating its 50th birthday at next month’s Silverstone Classic (26-28 July) with what’s believed to be the biggest ever gathering seen in the UK and one of the largest seen anywhere in the world.

To mark the golden anniversary, a special parade on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit is being organised by the Lamborghini Club UK for 6pm on Saturday evening. This glittering 100-car cavalcade is being supported by Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. and will be led by the company’s latest amazing creation, the Aventador LP700-4 with the new Roadster version on display in the Lamborghini Club UK showcase. The parade will also feature just about every model produced by the famous sportscar manufacturer since originally founded by Ferruccio Lamborghini back in 1963 as a direct rival to Ferrari.

“As far as we know it will be the biggest gathering of Lamborghinis ever seen in the UK and probably anywhere in the world, aside from the 50th Anniversary Grand Tour that the factory staged in Italy earlier in the year,” explained Lynne Bull, membership secretary of the Lamborghini Club UK. “It is certainly the first time the club has attempted to orchestrate something so monumentally exciting. There will be Miuras, Espadas, LM002s, Countachs, Murcielagos, Diablos, Uraccos… basically the whole history will be represented aside from a couple of the very early originals.”

Adding to the heritage on show, Lamborghini’s legendary chief test driver Valentino Balboni will be joining the club at Silverstone for the entire weekend along with several high profile visitors from other clubs worldwide.

Ferruccio Lamborghini earned his fortune building much-needed tractors on surplus WW2 military hardware before using his wealth to pursue his supercar dream. The Italian industrialist also intertwined his love of bullfighting adopting a raging bull as his company’s emblem; the alluring names of his early creations all have strong links to Spanish fighting bulls, too.

Like so many other small sportscar companies, though, Lamborghini has a history strewn with financial woes. Despite magical early models – notably the groundbreaking Miura with its striking Marcello Gandini styling – Ferruccio was forced to sell a majority shareholding in his company during 1972 and, since then, the famed Sant’Agata factory situated just to the west of Bologna has passed through several owners before most recently being acquired by Audi AG in 1998. Since then the Lamborghini marquee has enjoyed its most stable and successful era. Now all 50 years of its fabulously iconic creations will be on track at the Silverstone Classic.

While the extraordinary sight and sound of so many amazing Lamborghinis is certain to be among the huge event’s many highlights, it is by no means the only major parade taking place over the busy Classic weekend. On Saturday Aston Martin – the Featured Celebration Marque – will be commemorating its centenary with a special pageant of 100 cars while Sunday sees a massive 911-car procession as part of the festivities to honour 50 years of the Porsche 911.

Enthusiasts wanting to witness these dazzling parades must buy tickets in advance. In keeping with the popular event’s widely acclaimed ‘access all areas’ policy, tickets include free entrance to all the special classic car displays, both National and Wing racing paddocks and pit complexes, trackside grandstands, live music concerts on Friday and Saturday evenings plus a host of other entertainment for all ages and interests. Adult admittance is from just £35 (plus fees) and considerable savings are on offer for those festival goers spending the full weekend at Silverstone. Full details can be found on the official www.silverstoneclassic.com website.  

Renault confirms UK pricing and specification for new-look three-model Scénic line-up, including XMOD

  • No additional cost for Scénic XMOD compared to standard five-seat model, in spite of added equipment and beefed up looks
  • Debut of innovative Grip Xtend traction control system on a Renault. Plus, introduction of brand-new 1.2 TCe 130 Stop & Start Energy engine
  • New front design brand identity for all three Scénics
  • High level of specification on Scénic XMOD. Expression+: 16-inch ‘Tundra’ alloys or ‘Frontier’ design wheels with Grip Xtend and mud and snow tyres, Hill Start Assist. Dynamique TomTom adds: dual zone climate control, auto lights and wipers and Carminat TomTom ‘Live’ satellite navigation
  • Scénic and Grand Scénic Dynamique TomTom well specified too: 16-inch alloy wheels, dual zone climate control, Carminat TomTom ‘Live’ satellite navigation and rear parking sensors
  • Two new colours: Saffron Yellow on XMOD and Dune on all three
  • Engines: three petrol: 1.6 VVT 110, 1.2 TCe 115 & 1.2 TCe 130. Two diesel: 1.5 dCi 110 & 1.6 dCi 130. All Stop & Start, excluding 1.6 petrol and 1.5 dCi 110 availability onScénic XMOD Expression+
  • Options: BOSE+ Pack on all Scénics featuring high-end audio system, 17-inch alloys, satin chrome longitudinal roof bars (seven-seat only), electrically adjustable/heated and folding door mirrors, extra tinted windows and tailgate, keyless entry and ‘Sport’ steering wheel
  • Orders are open on all three versions of the new Renault Scénic. Scénic XMOD is available in two trim levels with a starting price of £17,955. New Scénic starts from £19,155 and seven-seater Grand Scénic from £20,355, both in Dynamique TomTom specification

Following their world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show earlier in the year, Renault has confirmed UK pricing and specification for its facelifted Scénic range, including the new Scénic XMOD. Prices start from just £17,955, with XMOD aggressively priced at the same as the equivalent standard Scénic, in spite of its enhanced looks and higher equipment level.

After selling more than 4.3 million Scénics since its original launch in 1996, the third-generation continues to be seen by many as the benchmark MPV. For 2013, rather than leaving the Dacia Duster to steal the SUV limelight on its own, Renault is tapping into the trend for off-road-look inspired cars. It isn’t the first time the French marque has dipped its toe in the area. Most recently, it sold the Conquest special edition of the five-seat Scénic. Prior to that, there was the highly acclaimed RX4, however, that did offer full off-road 4x4 capability.

Together with the facelifted five-seat Scénic and seven-seater Grand Scénic, which each now feature the company’s new design identity, as seen on each of its latest arrivals, Twingo, Clio, Captur and ZOE, Renault is looking to cover every base in the hotly contested C-segment.

In terms of looks, most of the changes to the Scénic range has centred around freshening up its face. The famous logo at the front is now bigger and set against a gloss black background that emphasises the new grille. Elegant lines and high-quality materials also help to enhance the MPV’s dynamic, family-oriented feel.

The crossover-inspired Scénic XMOD, starting from £17,955, comes in two well-equipped trim levels, Expression+ and Dynamique TomTom. The revised Scénic and Grand Scénics in Dynamique TomTom trim, starting from £19,155 and £20,355 respectively.

New Scénic XMOD

The new crossover-inspired version, XMOD, is a more rugged variant of the French brand’s iconic MPV, yet retains its trademark practicality and ease-of-use. With unique wheels and striking front and rear bumpers, and black roof bars it certainly stands out.

It also comes with additional equipment over its Scénic sister car. It debuts Renault’s new advanced traction control system, Grip Xtend. Coupled with specific Continental mud and snow tyres, it also features body protection mouldings, giving it the outdoor look and feel. Mud and snow tyres are for all year round use, featuring specific tread patterns which aid the evacuation of mud, snow and sand in more difficult driving conditions.

Its boot capacity is up to 555 litres with the rear seats slid forward, rising to 1,870 with the rear seats removed completely, one of the biggest in its class. Additionally, no less than 86 litres of additional stowage space are cleverly spread around the cabin. New Scénic XMOD offers simple, effective and fast modularity: the seats are independent, folding and removable to provide a host of seating configurations for the occupants.

Grip Xtend

New Scénic XMOD is the first vehicle in the Renault range to feature the all-new Grip Xtend system. Using a rotary switch, users can select this advanced traction control system to enable the car to grip the road confidently in difficult driving conditions (mud, sand and fresh snow) to combat the topsy-turvy British weather.

There are three modes available, ‘Road’, ‘Loose Ground’ and ‘Expert’. In ‘Expert’ mode, Grip Xtend manages the braking system, while leaving the driver in full control of the engine torque. The ‘Road’ mode offers conventional traction control settings, with ASR optimising grip by controlling braking on the front wheels and engine torque, plus any wheel that skids is slowed down and torque transferred to the wheel with the best grip. This mode automatically reconnects at speeds of over 25 mph. The ‘Loose Ground’ mode optimises braking control and engine torque control as a function of available grip up to 25 mph.

The new XMOD comes with a high level of specification. Even from the entry Expression+: it includes 16-inch ‘Tundra’ alloys or ‘Frontier’ design wheels with Grip Xtend and mud and snow tyres, Hill Start Assist. Moving up to Dynamique TomTom adds dual zone climate control, auto lights and wipers and Carminat TomTom ‘Live’ satellite navigation

Scénic and Grand Scénic Dynamique TomTom are equally well specified too. Among its core features are 16-inch alloy wheels, dual zone climate control, Carminat TomTom ‘Live’ satellite navigation and rear parking sensors.

Across each of the three models in the new-look Scénic range, a total of five engines are available. Three petrol: 1.6 VVT 110, 1.2 TCe 115 Stop & Start and 1.2 TCe 130 Stop & Start. Plus, two diesel: 1.5 dCi 110 Stop & Start & 1.6 dCi 130 Stop & Start. One version of Scenic XMOD Expression+ also has the 1.5 dCi 110 available without Stop & Start if a customer prefers to not specify it on cost grounds. Renault’s six-speed EDC (Efficient Dual Clutch) transmission is available on the 1.5 dCi 110, unlike the hot Clios, without paddleshifters.

The new Scénic range features a range of four Renault ENERGY engines, designed to significantly reduce fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and running costs, while maximising driving enjoyment and reliability.

Especially noteworthy is the brand-new TCe 130 Stop & Start engine, boasting a 15% improvement on fuel consumption over the previous TCe 130 unit. This particularly smooth, yet responsive powerplant, combines genuine driving enjoyment and lively performance at all speeds.

The high-selling 1.5 dCi 110 Stop & Start also boasts some headline-grabbing statistics. On a combined cycle, it’s capable of 68.9 mpg, while its emissions, at 105 g/km and benefit-in-kind of only 16%, also keep its running costs considerably low.

Typically for Scénic, there are a wealth of comfort and luxury-oriented options. In addition to an electric panoramic sunroof and sliding centre console, there are seven Packs available. The finest, BOSE+ Pack, is available on Scénic XMOD and Grand Scénic costing £1,500. Among the features within the other six are a rear parking camera with front parking sensors, Renault’s Visio System lane departure warning with automatic high and low beam, five fully adaptable headrests, dark carbon leather and sliding centre console.

Also new for the new-look Scénic range are two colours, Saffron Yellow on XMOD and Dune on all three.

Full UK pricing for the new Scénic range is outlined below for each of the three models.

Ssangyong continues to expand at a fast rate in the UK

SsangYong sales & service now available in Cardigan, Cheltenham, Christchurch, Nelson and Yeovil

The importer of Korean SsangYong cars, SsangYong Motor UK, has added a further five locations to its network of franchised dealers.

The new appointments are:

  1. Autovillage, Bishops Cleeve, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
  2. BV Rees, Cardigan, Pembrokeshire
  3. Lynx Garage, Yeovil, Somerset
  4. Steve Durkin Vehicle Services, Nelson, Lancashire
  5. Think Cars, Bransgore, Christchurch, Hampshire

“We warmly welcome these five new partners to the SsangYong franchise,” said Paul Williams, CEO of SsangYong Motor UK.

“The SsangYong value proposition is increasingly being recognised by the motor industry, and 25 new dealers have joined the network in the last 18 months.

“With the range now starting from just £14,995 for our recently introduced Korando SE, motorists are seeing real value in the brand which is gaining a reputation for its well-engineered, reliable and honest cars, every one of which is backed by a 'no-quibble' 5 year limitless mileage warranty.

“In the last year we have added two new LCV models to the range, the Korando Sports pick-up and Korando CSX commercial, and there will be further launches within the next few months, the seven seat Turismo MPV and Rexton W, a serious contender in the 4x4 market sector,” he added.

SsangYong Motor UK is continuing to look for dealers to take on the franchise in a number of open points across England, Scotland and Wales, including: Aberdeen, Borders, Cambridge, Chester, Greater Manchester, Leicester, Liverpool, London & South East, Luton, Mid & North Wales, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Reading, Sheffield, Teesside and Watford.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Jaguar C-X75 driven - WOW what a stunner

This report is from the great publication AUTOCAR, and I felt that such a great iconic car that never was, should be given a wider audience, so you can see what the world has missed, and WOW what has it missed out on, a stunningly beautiful and gorgeous car, thank you AUTOCAR for doing this test drive, we well appreciate it.

What is it?

The Jaguar C-X75 supercar. Which won’t be finished. And won’t be sold. And yet in 2013, the year of the supercar, it was all set to turn the triumvirate confluence of LaFerrariMcLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyderinto the most awesome foursome that the car world has ever known.
The Jaguar now looks destined to become the forgotten giant, after a decision taken by the company in December 2012 not to put the extended-range petrol-electric two-seater into production after all. 
The irony is that it might have signalled much more than a million-pound Ferrari or McLaren: newfound ambition for a once world-beating British marque again willing to compete right at the top of the food chain. A marque once again looking to take a guiding hand in the development of the state of the automotive art. Something of a renaissance, in other words.

More’s the pity. As things stand, Gaydon’s supercar experiment is over. Five working prototypes exist, and there are no plans to make more. Whispers persist that a few of them may be auctioned, but nothing’s confirmed. Strange circumstances for a first drive – but, in this case, we’ll take ‘em.
In supercar terms, the C-X75 moved from apparently fanciful show car to fully operational validation prototype very quickly – and changed quite a lot on route.
Those who last read about this car after its unveiling as a concept at the Paris motor show of 2010 will be wondering where its tiny jet turbine power generators have gone. Somewhere along the line, Jaguarconcluded – just as Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche did – that the supercar isn’t quite ready to part with reciprocating pistons just yet.

What was decided, in May 2011, was that the buzz surrounding the C-X75 concept car was too great to ignore. The car would go forwards, engineered in partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering.
But, like the show car, it couldn’t be just another supercar. It had to be as fast as a Bugatti Veyron. It had to emit less carbon than a Toyota Prius - sub-90g/km, as things stood back then. It needed a zero-emissions range as good as a Chevrolet Volt. And it needed to look like the original show car.
It wouldn’t be enough for this car to breach the bounds of possibility in just one direction – the familiar direction: speed. The C-X75 had to push the envelope in opposing directions simultaneously, on performance and fuel efficiency.

What is it like?

In place of the Bladon Jets omnivore turbines came a primary powerplant that would set Jaguar’s engineers a similar challenge on cooling, and allow it similar freedoms on packaging. Developed in-house by Jaguar, the C-X75’s 1.6-litre petrol four-pot is all-aluminium, and is like no small-capacity engine ever intended for the road.
Fitted with both a supercharger and a turbocharger, it produces unbelievable power for its size: an astounding peak 502bhp at 10,000rpm. And because the C-X75 is a plug-in hybrid, that engine’s only half the story.
Immediately behind the driver – who’s positioned almost perfectly between the front and rear axles – there’s a 19kWh lithium ion battery pack capable of supplying a continuous 300kW of power. 
The car’s electric motors are Jaguar’s own. They’re the size of cake tins, there’s one for each axle, and they produce 194bhp and 295lb ft each. They also only weigh 20kg, making them more efficient, judged on output per kg, than any electric motor Jaguar could buy in.
The one up front drives the wheels directly through reduction gearing; the one at the rear runs in parallel with the engine, sending power through a seven-speed automated manual gearbox to the rear wheels.
And so, running at full chat, the C-X75 produces in excess of 850bhp, and has 738lb ft of torque. It’ll accelerate to 60mph in less than 3.0sec, to 100mph in less than 6.0sec, and go on way beyond 200mph.
Scarcely believably, it also produces less than 89g/km on an NEDC emissions test, and drives for 40 miles on battery power alone. And it looks incredible – more like the rightful heir to Malcolm Sayer’s C- and D-types, and the elegant XJ13, than either the XJ220 or the XJR-15 ever seemed.
You could fill textbooks explaining the innovative engineering in this car. The all-carbonfibre construction makes for torsional rigidity of 60,000Nm per degree – three times greater than a Lamborghini Murciélago.
Every major mechanical and electrical component is positioned within the wheelbase, with the exception of the seven-speed gearbox – which goes in sideways to minimise the overhang behind the rear axle. 
The thermal management systems are ridiculously complicated, as they’d have to be in order to make happy bedfellows of a large battery (which operates best at 31 degrees) and a 502bhp, 10,000rpm engine (which exhausts at up to 900 degrees). Both, by the way, are surrounded by a carbonfibre engine bay that, in places, would begin to unbake itself at 200 degrees or so.
In the pouring rain at its Gaydon UK headquarters, Jaguar gave us limited opportunity to get familiar with its technical prodigy. Some passenger laps on the twisty inner handling circuit suggested the C-X75 has supremely manageable limit handling for a supercar. “We went to a lot of trouble to give the car Jaguar feel,” says driver and Williams chassis chief Simon Newton. And you know what he means. 
The car does skids. “The normal power split in EV mode is 70 per cent biased for the rear wheels, and we limit power at the front wheels when cornering because it tends to bring on understeer. We’ve also worked out a few tricks with the E-Diff to add some throttle-steer, and – when it’s on – the ESP functions similarly to McLaren’s ‘brakesteer’ to keep the nose tucked in on corner entry."
In electric mode, the performance level feels strong – if limited. Instant, torque-dominated: a bit like a turbo hot hatch but entirely without the lag. I can’t tell you what the electric motors sound like, because they’re drowned out by the C-X75’s sound synthesiser, which fills the cabin with an electronic noise somewhere between a whistle and a loud whine. It’s not unpleasant, and maybe it does make the electric mode feel more dramatic. You’d never mistake it for ‘real’ noise, though.
My turn at the wheel. Engaging full-fat hybrid mode and moving off, that inline four suddenly announces itself. It’s all chattering gear-driven cams and bad-tempered low-rpm grumble to begin with, but the accelerator pedal’s tamely progressive thanks to that supercharger.
Might as well flatten it then. We’re in third gear, on the high-speed circuit ofJaguar’s Gaydon HQ, where mile-long straights allow some close inspection of the C-X75’s outright speed – specifically, of the potency of that powertrain. At 3500rpm the barp of exhaust begins to emerge over all that chatter.
At 6500rpm, the engine finally seems fully awake and starts to really howl. There’s no lump of mid-range torque, no breathless top-end – laudable flexibility, in fact. And there’s an incredible red zone where, at 8000rpm, the engine hits a show-stopping full stride. At which point you’ll forget all about the electric motors, carbonfibre and engineering genius, and find yourself totally caught up in a sense of pure mechanical interaction. Perhaps this Jaguar is an old-school supercar after all.
After several full-power blasts, a picture emerges. Even in the rain, the C-X75 feels every bit as fast as they say it is – up to a point. Up to about 120mph, to be precise - to the top of fourth gear, until which point it could probably run with a Veyron. At least very close to one.
But beyond 150mph, the C-X75 doesn’t surge onwards with quite the same urgency. It’s effortlessly fast but, in the highest range, doesn’t keep going like the very fastest in the world. It doesn’t need to be travelling well into three figures before it really opens up, like a Veyron.
All I can put it down to is that the electric motors don’t seem to give their best at big speeds. And that 503bhp isn’t quite enough – however spectacularly it’s made – to make up the shortfall.

Should I buy one?

Well, you can't. But driving the car leaves you with the impression that the C-X75 project has probably ended up exactly where it should be, because would supercar owners understand that, to appreciate their new million-pound car, they have to stand back and see the bigger picture?
Would they be able to understand that it may not quite be the ultimate machine in the most vivid sense, but that there’s more to it than sheer speed? How many Veyron owners know how much CO2 their car emits? Don’t they just want the fastest car in the world?
Maybe. In order to create the supercar that does it all, perhaps Jaguar had to take the customer out of the equation. The company might have been braver. But equally, maybe it’s not such a bad thing that it wasn't.
Because, while it may not quite be the fastest car in the world, the C-X75 is still a modern, daring kind of machine. A hypercar, really – if such a term were ever truly justified by a supercar that does more. 
It acknowledges that, in the 21st century, there is no part of the car market untouched by the need for environmental responsibility – nor can there be. And, like the Porsche 918 Spyder, it proves there’s a genuine zero-emissions solution than can still produce absolutely first order speed and excitement.
Price N/A; 0-62mph less than 3.0sec; Top speed 220mph; Economytbc; CO2 less than 89g/km; Kerbweight 1700kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1600cc, twincharged petrol, plus 2 x 194bhp electric motors; Installation mid, longitudinal, four-wheel drive; Power 850bhp+ at 10,000rpm; Torque738lb ft Power to weight 500bhp/tonne Specific output 313bhp/litre (IC engine); Gearbox 7-spd robotised manual