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, 29 March 2014

Happy Birthday VW Golf, 40 years and 30 million units, and still the best.

Volkswagen is celebrating the 40th birthday of the most successful European car of all time: the Golf. More than 30 million vehicles of the best-seller have been sold and from the first to the seventh generation, the Golf has been a pioneer of technological progress.

Whether turbocharged engine, direct-injection engine, electric or plug-in hybrid drive system; whether ABS, ESC, XDS or 4MOTION; whether Adaptive Cruise Control, City Emergency Braking, trailer stabilisation or Automatic Post-Collision Braking System; whether automatic air conditioning, Dynaudio sound system, touchscreen with proximity sensor or LED headlights; whether GTI, GTD or GTE – it was always the Golf through which the most important technologies and trends of our time were democratised.

Golf Mk I: The first series production Golf rolled off the assembly line in Wolfsburg on 29 March 1974.  Where for decades the Beetle and thus rear-mounted engines and rear-wheel drive had dominated the scene, a new era had now dawned: that of the transversely mounted front engine and front-wheel drive.
As the successor to the legendary Beetle, of which over 21.5 million units were built, the Golf Mk I, designed by Giorgio Giugiaro and Volkswagen Design, had to live up to the immense expectations that it would carry on the success story of what until then was the world’s most successful car.  It worked: the modern and reliable drive concept, the excellent spatial economy and ultimately the design as well, won over the market to such an extent that by October 1976 the one-millionth Golf had been produced.

In launching the first Golf GTI (in 1976), Volkswagen heralded the introduction of greater dynamism in this class, while the Golf D (naturally aspirated diesel engine, 1976) and the later Golf GTD (turbodiesel, 1982) marked the breakthrough for diesel cars in the compact segment.  With the Golf Cabriolet, introduced in 1979, Volkswagen launched an open-top car that was at times the best-selling cabrio in the world.
Golf Mk II: As of August 1983, passengers no longer sat quite so close to each other, as use of space have been improved once more.  It was then on the Golf that the regulated catalytic converter was introduced (1984), anti-lock braking system (ABS, 1986) and power-steering to the lower medium class.  In 1986, syncro was introduced, opening up the option of all-wheel drive in the Golf class.

Golf Mk III: With the launch of the third generation Golf in August 1991, Volkswagen heralded a new era of safety.  This Golf was the first of the series to have front airbags, starting in 1992, while major advances in the area of car body construction also resulted in significantly improved crash safety.  In addition, numerous other technological milestones of the model range are linked to the third Golf.  Many new features made their debut in this new Golf: the first six cylinder engine (VR6), cruise control, oxidation catalytic converter for diesel engines (1991) and the first direct injection diesel engines (TDI in 1993).  Likewise, ABS became a standard feature on all Golf models in 1996.  In 1993, Volkswagen had also introduced a new convertible based on the Golf Mk III, a new all-wheel drive model (syncro II) and the first Golf Variant (an estate).

Golf Mk IV: Under the direction of Hartmut Warkuß, then Head of Design at Volkswagen (Group), the Golf Mk IV crystallised the clear, precise design that lived up to the history of the Volkswagen brand more than ever before while setting its course to the future.  With the debut of ESC (in 1998), the car continued to democratise safety.  Also in 1998, Volkswagen unveiled the first all-wheel-drive Golf with a Haldex clutch – the Golf 4MOTION.  One year later, ESC became a standard feature, initially in Germany.  

The first direct-injection engine (FSI) and the debut of the standard head airbag (window airbags) followed in 2002.  Also in 2002, Volkswagen launched the R32, with a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph).  It was this top model of the range that in 2003 was the first to debut with the revolutionary dual-clutch gearbox (DSG).
Golf Mk V: This was the Golf that boasted levels of comfort and dynamic performance that left many competitors way behind in 2003.  The same went for the car’s security features.  One factor that underlines the stability of the laser-welded bodywork was the 35 per cent increase in torsional rigidity demonstrated when the Golf Mk V made its debut in 2003.  On request, the Golf was now also available for the first time with side airbags – together with the six standard airbags (front, side front and window) there were thus eight protective air buffers on board.  In comfort as well as dynamic performance, the Golf Mk V scored in numerous areas, including: its new four-link rear suspension, seven-speed DSG, bi-xenon headlights, panoramic sliding sunroof, plus the world’s first twincharger (in the 2006 TSI), combining turbo- and supercharger.  In 2006, the Golf Plus made its debut; in 2007, the CrossGolf, a new Estate and the extremely fuel-efficient Golf BlueMotion (4.5 l/100 km or 62.8 mpg).

Golf Mk VI:  In just four years, a further 2.85 million Golf cars had been produced by the end of July 2012, based on the sixth generation of the car launched in 2008.  And once again safety made great advances too: the car body was so rugged that it passed the EuroNCAP crash test with flying colours, gaining the maximum five stars.  Meanwhile, more TSI engines and a transition among the turbodiesel engines (TDI) from unit injection to the common rail system resulted in greater dynamic performance and lower fuel consumption.  A top performer here was the second Golf BlueMotion with a combined fuel consumption of just 3.8 l/100 km (74.3 mpg), equivalent to 99 g/km of CO2.  New assistance systems, such as Light Assist automatic main beam management and Park Assist, made the sixth generation the most advanced Golf to date.  

Golf Mk VII: On 4 September 2012, Volkswagen celebrated the world premiere of the seventh generation Golf.  The weight of the new Golf was reduced by up to 100 kg, thereby reversing the often cited upward weight spiral.  

Fuel economy was hence also improved by up to 23 per cent. The new Golf TDI BlueMotion consumes only 3.2 l/100 km (88.3 mpg) (equivalent to 85 g/km of CO2) under standard NEDC conditions.  In addition, Volkswagen has equipped the Golf with an entire armada of new assistance systems – some as options and others as standard.  In 2014, Volkswagen electrifies the compact class with the Golf: the all-electric e-Golf with a range of around 190 kilometres is already available to buy.  In addition, the new Golf GTE will be launched in autumn.  Its plug-in hybrid drive system achieves a standard fuel consumption of 1.5 l/100 km; in all-electric mode, the Golf GTE can be driven for 50 kilometres.
The Golf is the most successful model ever built by Volkswagen.  In the summer of 2013 the 30 millionth Golf was built.

Suzuki launches new packs to aid touring.

Suzuki has announced four Genuine accessory packs for the new V-Strom 1000, with each pack representing a significant saving on the cost of individual items included. The cost of each pack also includes dealer fitment, too.

Included in all four accessory packs are hand guards, lower cowling, engine bars, tank pad and decal set. The Tourer Pack, available for £499 and with a saving of £135 on individual parts, includes a tank bag on top. The Adventure Pack adds a side case set to the standard five items, and retails for £999, a saving of £248 on the individual items.

The more comprehensive Voyage Pack retains the five standard items, and for £1499 compliments them with a centre-stand, large touring screen, side case set, dry roll bag and tank bag. The GT Pack adds a centre-stand, large touring screen, full hard luggage, large tank bag and LED turn signals, with an RRP of £1999. The Voyager Pack represents a saving of £326 over individual items, while the GT Pack boasts a saving of £475.

Suzuki GB Accessories Manager, Andy Taylor, said, "During the development process of the new V-Strom 1000, we surveyed a number of existing and previous V-Strom owners to better understand what they wanted when it came to Genuine Suzuki accessories. What was immediately obvious was the fact that they wanted a greater range of accessories, and also a sleeker design and fit. All of the accessories available for the new V-Strom where a key part in the design and development process, meaning a more refined fitment and style. These four accessory packs showcase the great range of Genuine accessories available, and also represent the varying needs and wants of V-Strom owners."

Isuzu retains Pick-Up of the year accolade.

For the second consecutive year the Isuzu D-Max has been named ‘Pick-Up of the Year’ by leading light-commercial-vehicle experts, VansA2Z.com. The accolade underlines the continued rise in reputation and popularity for the class-leading capabilities of the Isuzu D-Max.
Launched in June 2012, the D-Max offers one of the widest model ranges in the segment along with class-leading fuel economy, emissions and towing capability. Sales in 2013 marked a record for the Brand in the UK and confirmed its status as the largest D-Max market in Europe. In 2014, sales are already over 17% up on last year.

Commenting on the virtues of the Isuzu, VansA2Z.com, said: “We can certainly testify to the effectiveness of the D-Max. It’s designed as a workhorse rather than a Chelsea tractor and is just as at home on a farm or a construction site as it is parked outside a west end boutique. It should therefore come as no surprise that it has driven off with our pick-up of the year for the second year in a row”.
The judges’ full citation is at: www.vansa2z.com/Van-of-the-Year-Awards-2014-Pick-Up
William Brown, Isuzu UK General Manager, commented: “Winning the award for a second year in a row is a fantastic accomplishment and is testament to just how well the D-Max has been received. Since its introduction, we have increased its towing capacity to a class-leading 3.5-tonnes, expanded our fleet offering, and introduced new models including the special-edition Blade earlier this month. Watch this space, as there are more developments to come.”
The Isuzu D-Max is available in three body styles – single, extended and double cab – with prices starting from £14,749 (CVOTR) for the entry-level single cab 4x2 rising to £23,649 (CVOTR) for the range-topping Isuzu D-Max Utah Auto.
The Isuzu D-Max is fitted with a super-efficient 2.5-litre twin-turbo diesel engine, producing 163 PS and 400 Nm of torque, is able to tow a class-leading 3.5-tonnes (braked) while still returning fuel economy of 38.2 mpg (combined), and is available with a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.
Every Isuzu D-Max sold in the UK comes with the company’s pioneering five-year / 125,000-mile warranty, as standard.

What if Jaguar Turned the F-Type Coupe Into a Sports Saloon?

It's a purely theoretical question, but since Hungarian artist X-Tomi painted his vision of what a stretched Jaguar F-Type with two more doors could look like, we'll just go with the flow and ask it: could you see an F-Type sports saloon in Jaguar's lineup in the not so distant future, taking into account next year's arrival of the Mercedes C-Class challenger, the XE.

We mention the XE because, given the F-Type Coupe's wheelbase (2,622 mm or 103.2 inches) and overall length (4,470 mm or 176 inches) and the fact that there's so much stretching you can do, the sleek lift-back model would be closer in dimensions to the BMW 4-Series Grand Coupe than to the 6-Series GC.

Friday, 28 March 2014

USA - 2014 JEEP® Grand Cherokee Ecodiesel named "Official winter vehicle of New England"

  • Fourth consecutive year Jeep® Grand Cherokee captures award from New England Motor Press Association
  • Grand Cherokee sales up 21 percent in 2014 in U.S.; up 23 percent in the Northeast
For the fourth straight year, the Jeep® Grand Cherokee has been named the “Official Winter Vehicle of New England” by the New England Motor Press Association (NEMPA).

“The Jeep Grand Cherokee has now taken the overall Winter Vehicle honor every year since 2011,” said Craig Fitzgerald, NEMPA President. “This unprecedented fourth consecutive win is due to the EcoDiesel engine and eight-speed transmission – new features that put Grand Cherokee at the top of both the power-with-efficiency and value curves.

“Grand Cherokee continues to manage New England’s snow and ice with highly competent handling and traction, an excellent ride and a comfortable, tasteful interior, with proper cold-weather amenities,” Fitzgerald added. “Wherever it goes and whatever its assignment, the Jeep Grand Cherokee stands out in the crowded SUV and crossover segments.”

Significantly updated for 2014, Jeep Grand Cherokee delivers best-in-class 30 miles per gallon and a driving range of more than 730 miles, along with a new eight-speed transmission, three advanced 4x4 systems and more than 60 safety and security features.

“Particularly in one of the harshest winters on record, we’re delighted that the influential members of the New England Motor Press Association have once again recognized the all-weather capability of the Jeep Grand Cherokee,” said Mike Manley, President and CEO – Jeep Brand, Chrysler Group LLC. “Our new EcoDiesel engine and eight-speed transmission further add to blend of capability, refinement and fuel efficiency that have made Grand Cherokee the most awarded SUV ever.”

Through February, Jeep Grand Cherokee sales are up 21 percent in 2014 in the U.S., and up 23 percent in the Northeast.

NEMPA is unique among regional motor press organizations. Its media members represent all six New England states, reaching one of the largest populations in America. NEMPA’s automotive writers and talk show hosts influence consumers who are in the market to buy cars and trucks in order to cope with the region’s punishing weather conditions. Winning vehicles are chosen on how they meet specific needs of New England drivers during winter.

New 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Jeep Grand Cherokee completely redefines the premium SUV, delivering an unprecedented combination of best-in-class fuel economy and driving range, available clean-diesel technology, legendary benchmark capability, world-class craftsmanship, and a host of advanced user-friendly technology and safety features.

For 2014, Grand Cherokee offers a new EcoDiesel engine with best-in-class 30 mpg highway and an unmatched driving range of more than 730 miles.  A new eight-speed transmission drives all Grand Cherokee engines, including the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 - achieving up to 25 mpg and more than 600 miles driving range - and the 5.7-liter V-8, now achieving up to 22 mpg.

Legendary Jeep capability comes courtesy of three 4x4 systems, Jeep's Quadra-Lift air suspension, Selec-Terrain traction management and an improved crawl ratio of 44.1:1.

A refined exterior design - complete with signature LED running lamps - provides a premium appearance. Premium interior amenities include Natura leather, exotic open-pore wood and new color offerings. The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is available in four trim levels, including the new top-line Summit.

Sebastian Vettel - Sportsman of the year !

The main work on the weekend starts tomorrow here at Sepang but Seb has already picked up a prestigious award in Kuala Lumpur this week.
Sebastian was named Sportsman of the Year at the Laureus World Sports Award, held at Kuala Lumpur's Istana Budaya (Palace of Culture). Since its founding 15 years ago the awards have come to be known at the Oscars of the sports world. To win this year, Seb bested an all-star  nominations list composed of Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Lebron James, Rafa Nadal and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"I have massive respect for the other athletes here," said Seb.
"When I was on stage and saw so many of the greats, it was truly a very special moment. All the Members of The Academy are true greats – heroes, legends and to see some of them on stage, others in the room and on the red carpet, makes this night very special."
Seb was handed the trophy by double F1 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi, the Brazilian being one of the 46 sporting legends who make up the Laureus Academy judging panel.
American swimmer Missy Franklin won the Sportswomen of the Year award. Bayern Munich were named World Team of the Year. Marc Marquez was awarded the Breakthrough of the Year prize for his exploits in MotoGP, while Rafael Nadal took the Comeback of the Year award. BMX Freestyler Jamie Bestwick won the award for World Action Sportsperson of the Year, and French Paralympic skier Marie Bochet was named Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability.
The evening took on a more somber tone than usual with tributes being paid to those who lost their lives aboard Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

USA - VOLVO’S 2014 GHG-Certified engines are exceeding fuel efficiency expectations.

Volvo’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) 2014-certified engines are providing even greater fuel efficiency than anticipated, Volvo Trucks announced today at the 2014 Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. The integrated engines are delivering up to a 3 percent fuel efficiency improvement compared with their 2013 counterparts.
“We remain focused on ensuring that the ongoing phases of engine and vehicle regulations do not burden our customers, but instead create value for their operations,” said Göran Nyberg, president, Volvo Trucks North American Sales & Marketing. “Introduction of our SCR-equipped models yielded a 5 percent fuel efficiency increase, and we’re pleased to announce that our 2014 engine lineup is delivering up to an additional 3 percent savings.”

A combination of in-lab and on-road testing proved that the initially announced fuel efficiency figures of up to 2 percent understated the true fuel savings and value of 2014 Volvo engines.  

Visit www.volvotrucks.com/mats for additional info from the 2014 Mid-America Trucking Show.

“Fuel efficiency remains top-of-mind across the industry, but there’s no one-size-fits-all solution that will deliver massive improvements. Every drop counts,” Nyberg said. “On average, a 1 percent fuel efficiency improvement amounts to annual savings of more than $650 per truck. Carriers ignoring opportunities for incremental fuel efficiency gains are leaving money on the table.”

Refinements and design changes contributing to fuel efficiency improvements in Volvo’s 2014 D11D13 and D16 engines include:
  • Low-friction cylinder improvements, including a redesigned piston, liner and oil scraper ring developed with smoother surfaces;
  • A clutched air compressor, which reduces engine load by completely disengaging the clutch from the engine when not in use;
  • Advanced combustion technology of a new seven-hole injector, which offers better fuel atomization for a more even distribution of fuel within the cylinder, maximizing fuel efficiency and offering a greater savings for customers; and 
  • An improved crankcase ventilation system, which filters more oil from blowby gases before they leave the engine and at the same time improves engine backpressure for better performance.
Along with fuel efficiency improvements, a two-piece valve cover on the D13 engine improves serviceability, which helps reduce repair time and is easier to handle than previous covers. Volvo also removed lead from the valvetrain of its 2014 engines to reduce its environmental impact.

In addition to the fuel efficiency gains delivered with 2014 Volvo engine technology, Volvo Trucks’ XE – exceptional efficiency – powertrain package boosts fuel efficiency by up to an additional 3 percent. Available on Volvo VNM and VNL models equipped with 2014 Volvo engines, the XE11, XE13 and XE16 packages improve fuel efficiency by lowering engine rpm at a given vehicle speed, a concept Volvo calls “downspeeding.” Possible through the combination of Volvo’s standard I-Shift automated manual transmission and Volvo engine with modified software, XE allows the engine to cruise about 200 rpm less than the average truck sold today.

Fuel efficiency improves by about 1.5 percent for every 100 rpm of downspeeding, so customers spec’ing the XE package can expect up to a 3 percent improvement when compared with another overdrive transmission in a similar operation. Demand for XE powertrain packages has grown each year since the initial introduction of XE13 for the D13 engine.

In 2013, about 87 percent of all Volvo trucks invoiced in the U.S. and Canada were specified with a Volvo engine. Of that population, 23 percent featured XE powertrain pakages.

Positive Spanish test for PATA Honda SBK.

The Pata Honda World Superbike team has completed a private three-day test at the Circuito Cartagena near Murcia in Spain.
It is the first time that riders Leon Haslam and Jonathan Rea have ridden their new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP machines since returning from the opening round of the 2014 World Superbike championship at Phillip Island in Australia one month ago.

The pair used the test to continue development of chassis settings on their CBR machines, as well as refining power delivery and traction control. They will stay in Spain this weekend and move further south to Circuito de Jerez for another three-day test which starts next Monday.
Round two of the World Superbike championship will also take place in Spain, at Motorland Aragon on 11-13 April.

Photos courtesy of Jon Jessop Photography.

Leon Haslam
Leon Haslam - 
Yeah, I’m happy with this test and we were able to make some good progress with the overall CBR package. We tested a new swingarm and some other chassis settings and we’re still waiting for one or two other elements to come through. We also worked on traction control which is a lot better now and to go 0.3s under the circuit record was a good way to finish. We’re going to do a bit of cycling before heading down to Jerez and we’ll see what the weather brings us down there.
Jonathan Rea
Jonathan Rea - 
We’ve made some really good steps here and our test rider, Michele Magnoni, did a really good job over the first couple of days, especially on Wednesday when it was really windy. I rode with some new strategies that he was developing and I’m happy to be able to ride more aggressively on longer runs. The speed over one lap was good, too, but I was more satisfied with the longer runs. We also tried a lot of chassis settings, varying pivot points and things, and the bike is definitely steering better on tighter lines.
Pieter Breddels
Pieter Breddels - 
It’s been a really good test. I can’t really say much more. Apart from the really strong winds on Wednesday, the weather has allowed us to get through a lot of work and both Jonathan and Leon were able to go faster than the old lap record here at Cartagena. Apart from the chassis settings, we concentrated on throttle opening and getting the traction control to catch slides morepredictably. I think both riders are feeling a lot more confident about that. We have three more days testing at Jerez next week but, at the moment, the weather forecast is not looking too good for that, so I’m glad we got this time at Cartagena.

Qoros continues to win awards with new Qoros 3 Hatch.

Within weeks of its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show, the Qoros 3 Hatch has won one of the world’s leading design prizes, a Red Dot Award.
The second production model from the new international car brand based in China has been bestowed with an ‘Honourable Mention’ accolade by the Red Dot jury, which recognised the “striking and particularly successful detail solutions” of the hatchback model. The prize will be awarded on 7 July 2014 during a celebratory gala event in Essen’s Aalto Theatre.

For the team led by Executive Director of Design, Gert Volker Hildebrand, this marks the second significant accolade this year. In early March the carmaker’s debut model, the Qoros 3 Sedan, received the Universal Design Award 2014 for outstanding product quality.
“For our international team these awards are both an honour and an incentive,” said Hildebrand. “In our designs, which are inspired by contemporary European automotive styling themes, we are integrating our own very distinctive touches and give our fledgling brand an identity of its own that will make it unmistakable.”
Qoros Vice Chairman Volker Steinwascher is delighted with these recent accolades: “As a new car brand, we feel confident in our endeavour to offer internationally competitive products of a high quality standard. To be named so soon in the same breath as the major car brands shows that we are on the right track.”

Qoros 3 Hatch – Dynamic, youthful design with clear Qoros DNA
The Qoros 3 Hatch features a subtle evolution of the brand’s signature design cues, making for a dynamic and youthful appearance. It is distinguished by its athletic profile and a ‘wedge-shape’ ready-to-go look – appearing to lower the nose and raise the tail – which is accomplished by the subtly flared wheel arches, chrome belt-line trim, and two-colour roof spoiler.
The rear passenger door windows feature a ‘hockey-stick’ trailing line that extends into the C-pillar to allow easier access for occupants into the rear seats. At the front, the headlamps, deep radiator grille, air intakes and boldly-contoured fog lamp recesses give the face a muscular ‘bite’ and provide energy and poise.
A long wheelbase, short overhangs and a coupé-like silhouette allow for generous interior dimensions in the Qoros 3 Hatch that measures around 4.40 metres in length. The large tailgate and the extremely spacious, versatile luggage compartment round off the carefully devised spatial concept.

The Hatch’s cabin is dominated by a clean, horizontal design theme to emphasise the length and width of the spacious interior. At the centre of the ‘floating‘ dash sits the innovative Qoros MMH™ (Multi Media Hub) eight-inch touchscreen, which provides access to the advanced QorosQloud™ 3G connected services platform.
The Qoros 3 Hatch was developed by an international team of experienced motor industry experts and new, young talent. Based on the same advanced modular platform as the Qoros 3 Sedan, it achieves the same high standards of design, engineering, production and safety that meet the most stringent international requirements, and features identical state-of-the-art technology which is not usually available in cars in the compact segment. Like the Qoros 3 Sedan, the hatchback Qoros 3 Hatch is produced at the brand’s all-new factory in Changshu.
The Red Dot Awards
The internationally famous Red Dot Awards were developed by communications and design expert Peter Zec and has been presented since 2000, having evolved from the Design Innovations award originally launched in 1955. It honours outstanding design achievements in numerous categories that cover cars, architecture, household and home electronics all the way to fashion, life sciences and medicine.

In 2014, Red Dot Awards submissions were received from 1,816 manufacturers, designers and architects from 53 countries. The 40-strong panel of experts assessed a total of 4,815 products according to numerous criteria ranging from degree of innovation to functionality to environmental compatibility. This year’s award-winners include the brands Apple, Audi, Braun, Frogdesign, Mercedes-Benz, Nokia, Sony and Porsche.

Ford sweeps the board at VansA2Z awards

Ford’s market-leading commercial vehicle range has scooped six major trophies at the 2014 VansA2Z Awards, including the overall Van of the Year title with the all-new Transit.
The all-new Ford Transit was crowned Van of the Year and claimed victory in the Large Panel Van of the Year category, while the all-new Ford Transit Custom secured Diesel Eco Van of the Year and, for the second year running, the Small Panel Van of the Year title. Ford’s all-new Transit Connect – International Van of the Year 2014 – was voted Light Van of the Year and the Ford Fiesta Van claimed Small Van of the Year for the second consecutive year.

This record number of awards for Ford eclipses last year’s five-medal haul and a hat-trick of accolades the year before that. It is a result of Ford’s significant global investment into the all-new four-vehicle Transit family – introduced to UK customers in just 18 months.
David Gregory, chief programme engineer, Ford global commercial vehicles, said: “Ford has invested heavily into its all-new commercial vehicle range, resulting in modern aesthetics, innovative design features and the latest in high-tech, low-CO2 powertrains. Credit for these latest accolades must go to the many Ford designers, engineers and vehicle testing staff who have worked tirelessly to deliver such revolutionary products.”
The majority of the design and engineering work on the new Ford commercial vehicle range was conducted at Ford’s Dunton Technical Centre, Essex – the global centre of excellence for the company’s commercial vehicles and powertrain development.

Neil McIntee, VansA2Z editor, said: “We’re delighted to award the all-new Transit Best Large Panel Van and the overall Van of the Year title. Ford has continued to raise the bar in the commercial vehicle market, with the introduction of Transit Custom, Transit Connect and new Transit – all of which boast dynamic looks, are superb to drive, and loaded with practical Ford technology and functional design features. At the moment, the Ford range is untouchable.”
Ford has almost completed the transformation of its entire commercial vehicle range, introducing four new models – Transit Courier, Transit Connect, Transit Custom and next generation Transit – by the summer of 2014. 

Rolls-Royce hosts future talent from two countries.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars welcomed more than 60 schoolchildren from England and France for a look behind the scenes at the home of the super-luxury manufacturer last week.
The March CE Primary School, located on the doorstep of Rolls-Royce at Goodwood in West Sussex, hosted its partner school in St Malo, France – Ecole Privee Ste Jeanne D’Arc. The year 6 pupils, aged between 10 and 11, asked lots of questions and practised their language skills as they toured the company’s head office and viewed the manufacturing plant.

Andrew Ball, Global Corporate Communications Manager, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said, “We were delighted to welcome the schoolchildren and to give them a taste of luxury manufacturing.  We were particularly pleased to note the high level of interest in engineering and hope that the schoolchildren will consider future careers in the manufacturing industry.”
Peter Edgington, Headteacher, The March CE Primary School, said, “We have an excellent relationship with Rolls-Royce and we are very grateful for the opportunity to visit the manufacturing plant. The children treated their French visitors to a quintessentially English experience, beginning with scones and cricket, visiting Bath and Stonehenge and ending on a high with a tour of Rolls-Royce.”

Rolls-Royce has a strong history in developing talent. In addition to the company’s successful Apprenticeship Programme, more than 60 men and women are employed with the company each year on industrial placements ranging in duration from six to 12 months. The company also runs a successful graduate programme, with new positions made available each year.
Potential candidates for all Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ positions are encouraged to apply online at: www.rolls-roycemotorcars.com/careers.

Mr Land Rover retires after 50 years of service.

Roger Crathorne, one of the best known and most highly respected Land Rover employees for more than five decades, is retiring from the company.
From Royalty, VIP customers and senior military figures to journalists from all over the world, global explorers and countless generations of company management, Roger is known simply as ‘Mr Land Rover’.
As an instructor, he has passed on his vast knowledge and experience of off-road driving in the world’s most inhospitable regions to thousands of people; all with passion and patience.

Dr. Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, commented: “Roger has been instrumental in the development and promotion of Land Rover’s breadth of capabilities for over half a century. His enthusiasm, vehicle knowledge and his deep understanding of the philosophy of the company, right back to the beginning, is unsurpassed. Roger has been an outstanding advocate for Land Rover, and his contribution has undoubtedly played a part in the global success we are enjoying today. He will be missed and I wish him all the best for the future.”

Roger joined Land Rover in 1963 as an apprentice, but the story of his association with the company starts even earlier than that. Roger was born in 1947 in Lode Lane, Solihull at the local hospital – less than a mile from the factory where, at the exact same time, the idea for the first Land Rover was being conceived. Appropriately, ‘Born in Lode Lane’ became the title of his memoir, published in 2008.
After serving 15 years in engineering, and being closely involved in the development of the first Range Rover, Roger’s reputation as an off-road expert came to the fore in 1978 when he became head of the company’s vehicle demonstration team. The team went on to become Land Rover Experience which itself celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The brief was simple – to showcase the outstanding off-road capabilities of Land Rover vehicles to people of influence.

Soon after he began working with media on press events, Roger took a role within the global PR team. His ability to cut to the heart of a new vehicle’s technology and communicate it in simple terms was invaluable as the brand expanded into new markets worldwide. Most recently, Roger has been Land Rover’s Heritage, Enthusiast and Technical PR Manager.
Speaking of his long career, Roger said: “I have worked on some great projects in product development, marketing and PR. I have visited some fascinating places with some great people and many have become good friends.”

He added: “I thank everyone for their great support, friendship and camaraderie, and I will be taking away some wonderful memories. In my new life, I will be taking the ignition key of my old Land Rover off the hook and re-educating myself with choke pulls and double de-clutching.”

Renault's van range now has 'Extra' with a range of special editions.

Europe’s number one van manufacturer Renault is giving its light commercial vehicles ‘Extra’ with the launch of a special edition range, available until 30 June. There’s also  £300 off all orders placed in March.
The new version takes in all three of the brand’s high-selling line-up, Kangoo, Trafic and Master, boosting them with around £1,500 of extra equipment compared to the standard model, including luxuries such as air conditioning, reversing sensors and satellite navigation. Prices for business owners, including this month’s promotion, excluding VAT and on-the-road charges, are £9,395, £11,395 and £15,195 respectively.
On the top of these three bonus items, the two new Kangoo Vans in the range also come equipped with a full steel bulkhead, which is already standard on the Trafic and Master.

Efficient, clever and flexible, the striking Kangoo Van is ready for work, especially when connected to the Renault R-Link multimedia system. This system incorporates integrated TomTom® LIVE satellite navigation, plus numerous clever functions, such as advance warning of hazardous zones and the ability to download applications like the reading out of e-mails.
Available with the responsive, yet economical 1.5 dCi 90 engine, returning over 61 mpg combined, drivers can reduce fuel costs even more using the visual gear shift indicator and ECO mode.
The current Renault Trafic van has been specifically designed to meet the needs of modern-day professionals, whatever their business environment. Versatile and practical, stylish yet protective, it benefits from quiet, efficient engines and high levels of comfort.
Practical, robust and economical, the Renault Master is the quintessential LCV, and can adapt to the most demanding requirements. For driver comfort and to help prevent accidents, it boast high levels of active and passive safety equipment, including ABS brakes with EBD (electronic brake distribution) and Brake Assist as standard.
Spacious, welcoming and comfortable, the Master makes travelling smooth and relaxing with a cabin that exudes professionalism.
Along with all new Renaults, the LCVs also benefit from the brand’s award-winning four years/100,000 miles warranty and roadside assistance.

The Volkswagen XL-1 hit London

The world’s most fuel-efficient hybrid car, the Volkswagen XL1, will go on display in the Design Museum in London alongside other examples of design excellence and Designs of the Year award nominees from a range of disciplines from today until 25 August.
Now in its seventh year, the Designs of the Year exhibition gathers together cutting-edge innovation and original talent, showcasing the very best in global Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Furniture, Graphic, Product and Transport design.

The Volkswagen XL1 features in the Transport category, and was nominated for the exhibition by author and automotive design and technology expert, Andrew Nahum, whose publications include ‘Fifty Cars That Changed The World’.  Designed by a team led by Klaus Bischoff, Head of Design for the Volkswagen brand, the XL1 is a limited series production two-seater car that explores the limits of energy efficiency for a road-legal production vehicle. 
The design brief for the XL1 was to produce a ‘one litre’ car – that is to say, a car that uses one litre of fuel per 100 km, equivalent to 282 miles per gallon.  The resulting vehicle uses just 0.9 litres per 100 km, or 313 mpg, and this high mpg figure correlates to a very low carbon dioxide emissions value of just 21 g/km.  

To achieve this fuel consumption figure, the XL1 was aerodynamically optimised, adopting the classic ‘tear drop’ shape and utilising innovations such as removing traditional wing mirrors and replacing them with small cameras called e-Mirrors which transmit exterior images to interior displays.  With a drag coefficient of 0.189 the XL1 can maintain 100 kmh on a level road in still air using just 8.4 PS.  

The super-innovative XL1 looks like a vision of the future, while its drivetrain melds a two-cylinder 48 PS 800 cc diesel engine with a 27 PS electric motor.  Power is served through a seven-speed triple clutch transmission.  Like any good supercar, it is also low (just 1,282 mm high) and features scissor-opening wing doors.  The XL1 is ‘handcrafted’ using small series production processes at Volkswagen’s Osnabrück factory in Germany.  For the required combination of lightness and strength, its body is made largely of carbon-fibre reinforced polymer.  Approximately 30 XL1 vehicles are expected to find homes in the UK.

The Designs of the Year exhibition at the Design Museum is a reflection of everything that is current and exciting in the world.  Alongside the Volkswagen XL1, it features, among other items, Kate Moss’s favourite app, a floating school in a Nigerian lagoon, friendly lamp posts and a mobile phone you can build yourself.  Exhibits come from a variety of sources including international design stars such as Zaha Hadid, David Chipperfield and Miuccia Prada, as well as crowd-funded start-ups and student projects.  

Visitors to the Design Museum will be able to pick their favourite design from the exhibition.  New for 2014 is the Social Vote which sees two nominations fight it out each day through the exhibition’s online platforms, and broadcast to over one million of the museum’s Twitter and Facebook followers. 
For more details on the XL1, please visit www.volkswagen.co.uk. To find out more about the Designs of the Year exhibition and to purchase tickets, go to www.designmuseum.org.

Volvo addds Drive-e to V40 range of cars from May.

From May 2014, all new Volvo models will have the option to be built with engines from the new Drive-E powertrain family – offering a world-class blend of drivability and low CO2 emissions. The CO2 emissions of the 190 hp Volvo V40 D4 with manual gearbox are down to an outstanding 99 g/km (74.3 mpg) – a no compromise of power and efficiency that no competitor can match. Also available in the V40 Cross Country, CO2 emissions are just 104 g/km (70.6 mpg).
“The outstanding take-off and responsiveness of the Drive-E engines, combined with a smooth engine sound, will make the cars even more fun to drive, without compromising on modern customers’ demand for superb fuel economy and minimised CO2-emissions,” says Michael Fleiss, Vice President Powertrain at Volvo Car Group.

The new D4 will also be available to order with Volvo’s new 8-speed Geartronic automatic gearbox, a combination of great drivability and efficiency means the V40 emissions are just 109 g/km (67.3 mpg) while the V40 Cross Country produces just 112 g/km (65.7 mpg) of CO2.
Also joining the new D4 in the V40 is the 245hp T5 FWD (front-wheel-drive) from the new Drive-E engine family. Fitted as standard with the new 8-speed automatic gearbox, CO2 emissions have decreased to just 137 g/km (representing a £350 saving on vehicle tax from the previous T5), giving fuel consumption in the combined cycle of 47.9 mpg.
The D4 and T5 are available to order now, however production start of the D4 will be September.
Improved Infotainment with more cloud based possibilities
All new Volvo models can now be equipped with the updated on-board infotainment and navigation experience Sensus Connect, offering customers a fully connected car. First seen in the S60, V60 and XC60, the cloud-based services allow the driver to find and pay for parking, discover new restaurants at the destination, stream favourite music seamlessly and much more. The HERE Location Platform provides connected navigation with 3D maps.
The brand new Connected Service Booking app tells the driver when it’s time to have their car serviced – and suggests an appointment at the Volvo dealership.
Available through Sensus Connect:
100,000 global radio stations through TuneIn
Radio – streaming music service
Stitcher – on-demand radio shows and podcasts
Regional audiobook solutions
Upgraded navigation system with 3D graphics and lifetime map upgrades
Park&Pay by Parkopedia – find available parking and pay for it from your car
Yelp – find local services, e.g. restaurants, with reviews
Glympse – dynamic, temporary location sharing
HERE by Nokia – cloud connected services to provide seamless and connected navigation to drivers
Send to Car – find your destination on your phone and send it to your car’s navigation system
Wikipedia – enriched local points-of-interest information
Refreshed HMI with graphically themed centre and driver displays
Voice control and text-to-speech
Integrated roof-top antenna and embedded 3G modem
WiFi hotspot in the car (Volvo On Call required)
Smartphone tethering (WiFi and Bluetooth)
Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free calling
Smartphone app – connecting your phone to your car
Connected service booking – car knows when service is due and will pre-book itself for a convenient service appointment at Volvo dealership
Customers selecting the top-of-the-line audio system, Premium Sound, now benefit from an improved speaker system. Developed with Harman Kardon and featuring the next-generation sound enhancement software Dirac Live, with up to 12 loudspeakers. Dirac Live corrects the timing, duration and level of each tone to offer an unrivalled sound experience.

Interior enhancements across the range
A number of new options are now available to customers, giving greater opportunity to personalise and enhance their vehicle to their own tastes.
The V40 and V40 Cross Country are available to order with two brand new colours, Osmium Grey and Power Blue. To complement the existing alloy wheel offering, a new 17” Spider and 18” Tamesis alloy wheel for the V40 and 19” Damara alloy wheel for the V40 Cross Country are now available.
The interior of the S60, V60 and XC60 can be enriched with a new piano black wood interior trim while the XC60 can be specified with a new exterior colour of Power Blue.
Sensus Connect with High Performance and Sensus Navigation is now fitted as standard across the entire specification range in the V70, XC70 and S80. This complements an already high standard specification level to offer customers a luxurious and soothing experience.
Volvo’s Inscription range gives customers the opportunity for individuality while benefitting from enhanced features. It includes Inscription Soft Leather upholstery, beautiful leather covered instrument panel, premium deco inlays, soft leather on extended surfaces such as the back of seats, centre armrest and head rest, which also features an embroidered Inscription logo. Available from this model year is a new Inscription Dark Walnut interior trim, available on the V70, S80 and XC70.
The additional exterior Inscription options include three colour alternatives – Crystal White Pearl, Electric Silver and Ember Black as well as 19-inch and 20-inch ten-spoke wheels.