Archive | February, 2013

The Gorgeous Ferrari FF Redefines The Hatchback

For the first time ever, it’s possible to use the words ‘Ferrari’ and ‘hatchback’ in the same sentence – the new Ferrari FF is a revolution on four wheels. It has the unmistakeable aura that you’ll recognise a mile off, bringing the essence of Ferrari together with a host of new features.

‘FF’ represents the theme of four throughout the model: the car seats up to four adults, runs in four-wheel drive, and offers a minimum of 450 litres of boot space. The two rear seats in the cabin aren’t just for show, and they fold down flat to make more room for luggage, shopping and sports equipment. As you’d expect from a luxury Ferrari, the full leather upholstery makes each drive that bit more relaxing. Drivers can also choose exclusive Ferrari upgrades and accessories to personalise their car.

There’s a breathtaking 6.3-litre V12 engine under the bonnet of the Ferrari FF, which produces both an envy-inspiring rumble and 615bhp. A dual-clutch seven-speed gearbox is fitted to match it, and both manual and automatic driving modes are available. The car reaches 60mph from a standstill in only 3.7 seconds, and has the potential to climb to 208mph.

Ferrari cars are legendary for their stunning looks and exceptional power – yet there’s an identical emphasis on passenger protection. By adding a range of reassuring security features, the manufacturer has tempered the model’s exciting appeal with safety befitting a road vehicle. The FF’s blistering performance is supported by advanced traction controls and anti-lock brakes. Should you be involved in a collision, the Ferrari deploys side impact airbags and seatbelt pretensioners to keep every passenger secure.

You can take the new Ferrari FF out for a spin from Helston Garages in Devon – give them a ring to experience this awe-inspiring car first hand. They’ll also provide full Ferrari FF specs, pictures and prices.

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The Family-Friendly Ford KA Is a Streamlined Stunner

As part of the refresh of the Ford range, the manufacturer is using their ‘Kinetic Design’ to adapt the look and feel of several popular models – and one of the most stylishly functional is the new Ford KA.

Styled with smooth and dynamic lines, the car stands out on the road with a more confident, purposeful aura. The vast customisation options and accessories for the KA are typical of a Ford, with free and paid upgrades available inside and out. A rearranged cabin layout creates more space and puts all of the main controls in a more logical place. The driver enjoys increased legroom, and every passenger travels in relaxed comfort.

A wide range of petrol and diesel engines are offered with every new KA, and the selection also gives drivers more choice when looking for an approved used version. It’s got one of the best levels of fuel economy in its category, with all low-carbon engines that reduce CO2 emissions from the exhaust. Business drivers and families alike will also love that the KA is in a low bracket for Vehicle Excise Duty.

Safety is also a key consideration in the design of every Ford – it’s an area in which the car maker has won plenty of awards. The KA is built with an Intelligent Protection system, which can sense an impact and put safety measures into place. Bluetooth with voice control allows for safe hands-free calls, and the rear parking sensors make those tricky backwards manoeuvres feel effortless.

If you’re interested in buying a new or approved used Ford KA, or in heading out on a test drive before making your mind up, visit Gates Ford. They offer the new car in a range of colours and trim levels, with special offers that are really competitive on price. Contact them at your nearest dealership today to find out more.

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Bomb Proof Beemer

If you are feeling a little bit vulnerable on the roads and have a spare £300k or so available then you could do worse than the BMW 760 High Security car like the one shown in the image. Charles, Prince of Wales seems to think it is a good idea as the Scotland Yard police are currently evaluating this amazing vehicle for the purposes of Royal protection.

With the carefully phrased caveat that you’d think there would be a British built alternative such as the Jaguars used by senior government ministers, it is hard to think of a safer car short of that Cadillac tank used by the American President.

A couple of years ago the ceremonial Rolls Royce in which the Prince and the Duchess were riding was attacked by a rampaging mob, a window was smashed and the Lady assaulted. This frightening experience has obviously prompted a review of security, given the way the world is today. The BMW 760 clearly fits the bill.

Once, this car would have been something imagined in an Ian Fleming novel. The driver can start the car from one hundred and fifty yards away in case a bomb has been rigged to the ignition system. The car is bristling with sensors and can withstand high velocity bullets and even poison gas.

Fires under the car and within the engine bay are automatically extinguished and in the case of gas attack the passenger compartment is sealed and oxygen pumped in.

The bullet proof windscreen is removable which means it can be used as an emergency exit. Concealed microphones and speakers enable the driver or security officer to speak to people without opening windows; at checkpoints, for example. There is apparently an option for the front centre console to house a gun case with suitable machine guns. That surely is a must-have option on any list.

The BMW is equipped with night vision to avoid dazzle and can ‘see’ pedestrians and possible miscreants up one thousand feet away. There is no doubt that there is much about this particular car that will not be revealed but clearly it can be tracked and will have anti-kidnap locks.

A person knowledgeable in this area of security has stated that this car is the best vehicle for the job of Royal protection. Clearly, many details remain a closely guarded secret but it is believed that at least two will be leased or purchased once the evaluation is complete. Royal spokespersons are adamantly denying reports that Dame Helen Mirren is involved in the testing procedures and that Daniel Craig has had a hand in the design – but then they would say that, wouldn’t they.

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Ford – The Market Leaders

Motorists today have never had it so good and there is a wealth of choice available to buyers of new cars and a thriving market for quality used cars. Competition is fierce and one company that consistently delivers the right car at the right time is Ford. Every since the day in 1903 when three Model A Fords were shipped to our shores from the USA, the name of Ford has been synonymous with the motor industry in Britain.
In recent years Ford have produced successive generations of cars that have maintained their popularity. This is because they have evolved over time to met the requirements of climate change legislation and high fuel costs, amongst other things. Notable in the company’s range has been the addition of EcoBoost engine technology.
EcoBoost encompasses a range of turbo-charged direct injection engines that produce the power and torque expected from engines with much bigger displacement yet still achieving far superior fuel economy and greatly reduced greenhouse gases. The star amongst these has got to be the one litre, three cylinder version that is beginning to appear across the vehicle range.
It is available in the evergreen Ford Focus. If ever a car online casino exemplified automotive success it’s this one. The first version released in 1998 was a revelation to drive and subsequent models have continued to improve the model. It remains a popular choice in the used car market where its reputation for reliability is a major selling point.
It is notable in recent years that customers are looking for frugal, smaller cars, these days referred to as superminis. This is a burgeoning market as drivers downsize, and the car that constantly appears at the top of the best seller list is the Ford Fiesta.
Now in its sixth generation the Fiesta is small, affordable, well equipped and cheap to run. Best of all it is great to drive – an attribute Ford seem to have been able to channel across the whole vehicle range. It makes for a great used car buy. With the 1L EcoBoost engine it produces a road tax busting 99g/km and will deliver over 60 miles per gallon.
The range of vehicles offered by Ford covers every need. From spacious family people carriers, SUVs and luxury saloons coupled with the above best sellers and the nimble Ka, they’ve pretty much got the market covered. There is a comprehensive range of dealers just a click away. Derbyshire buyers might like to try Matlock Ford for Ford used cars, for example. Car makers come from all corners of the world but it is the Ford name that is trusted by UK buyers.

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Mercedes Hot Hatch

It isn’t often you see the words Mercedes and hot hatch in the same sentence is it? Certainly there are powerful Mercs but not in the sense of a small car with big ambitions; yet here we are – a £36,000 pocket rocket from this prestige brand. It will be officially introduced at the Geneva Motor Show after which buyers can begin the ordering process.

The new A45 AMG from the company’s tuning arm will do the traffic light sprint in 4.6 seconds which means, for example, that you would still be alongside a Porsche Carrera GTS at 62mph. Most of Mercedes performance cars use the big V8 or V12 engines but in line with current thinking this good looking vehicle makes do with just 4 cylinders in a turbo-charged two litre power plant. Nevertheless 355bhp is on offer which, according to the makers, makes this the most powerful four pot engine in the world.

The hand-built A45 also boasts four wheel drive and a dual-clutch seven speed auto ‘box and for the sensual pleasure of performance noise, a tuned AMG exhaust is fitted to make up for the loss of that natural growl from a V8. Sports suspension as standard obviously and the usual array of specialist equipment like speed sensitive steering and ESP are all there to keep things on the straight and narrow. There’s even something called Curve Dynamic Assist which can brake wheels individually to counter under steer.

Even the hot hatch bling is tastefully done as you can see in the image. There’s a body kit, a rear diffuser and some attractive wheels to make the look match the performance; yet despite all this Mercedes reckon that a frugal 40mpg is on the cards. The VED won’t hurt your pocket too much either because only 161g/km of the nasty stuff is produced, which is excellent given the power of the car.

The German company haven’t neglected occupant comfort either. With a mix of AMG dynamism and Mercedes exclusivity the interior should suit discerning customers. Sports seats with contrasting stitching hold you snug. The multifunction steering wheel sports a pair of paddles and the centre console, Mercedes insist, sets new standards for appearance and quality.

As ever, there’s a host of extras including a must-have aero package that includes a rear aerofoil, a larger front splitter and additional ‘flics’ to the front apron. It seems highly likely that Mercedes are on to a winner with this car. It is well priced, has Porsche-like performance and looks the part. This car sets new standards for what we like to think of as a ‘hot hatch’ and, if nothing else, will make a choice addition to your fantasy garage.

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Audi’s New Plug-in Hybrid

The world of hybrid technology goes from strength to strength as manufacturers get to grips with economy and emissions and a host of new regulations. They are all working hard but one of the highlights of next month’s Geneva show will almost certainly be the Audi A3 e-tron.

The A3 is already a success story in its various guises, including the stunning new S3 Sportback. Now, the new e-tron offers a new glimpse into the future of the German car maker’s intentions with a car that has the potential to achieve 188mpg and exhaust emissions as low as 35g/km.

The hybrid integrates a conventional petrol engine and an electric motor as you‘d expect. The battery can be charged at the wall socket or rejuvenated on the road via the petrol engine. The combination of the two will offer impressive performance, exceptional efficiency and most crucially of all as far as buyers are concerned, freedom from the perils of range anxiety.

A modified 1.4L TFSI engine delivering 150PS will provide the usual power and is linked to the 75kw electric motor by a clutch built into a newly designed six-speed ‘e-S tronic’ auto gearbox; all of which drives the front wheels. The combined motors generate 204PS of power and an impressive 350PS of torque.

The Audi A3 e-tron will travel up to 31 miles on electric power alone at speeds of up to eighty miles per hour or it will run on petrol power alone. In hybrid mode, which is driver selectable, both units work together which is known as ‘boosting’. When the driver stops accelerating both motors will deactivate temporarily allowing the car to glide and thus save on fuel whilst recuperating energy.

There is no doubt that the Audi success story continues. Whilst some car makers struggle, Audi had its best ever sales last year, shifting nearly 1.5 million units worldwide. That’s up over ten percent on the previous year despite the world recession. Not being ones to rest on their laurels however, the company plan an investment in the future of some 13 billion in research and new models over the next few years.

This means that in just three or four years the Audi range will have expanded to some 42 models, including variants. There’s the regular range, the S range and the RS range with hatchbacks, Avants and Sport backs. There will also be a new generation R8. Vorsprung durch Technik, indeed.

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True Life Driving Experiences

Britain’s motorists are bombarded with signs and restrictions. The chances of a truly memorable drive are slim. Cars these days are becoming lifestyle accessories rather than objects of desire as the pleasure of driving for driving’s sake is swamped by regulation. Yet there could still be hope. Most if not all of our motor racing circuits now offer some form of ‘driving experience’ as part of their activities. For the most part they are good value with a variety of choice that should suit most budgets.

Think about how much it would cost you to own a highly desirable and highly accomplished Porsche Cayman, for example, as your daily driver. Sensational though the Cayman is, the cost of insurance, fuel, tyres and servicing puts this car out of the reach of most of us. Frankly, it’s just much cheaper to run a normal family car especially as there isn’t any opportunity to really exploit the potential of a sports car anyway.

Some of the money saved by running a frugal car could well go towards the cost of a driving experience or two at your local circuit. It’s one thing to believe all the promotional advertising but there’s no substitute for word of mouth. The following is what actually happened with a visit to Thruxton. This circuit is in Hampshire and is reputed to be the fastest in the UK.

The session starts with a sensibly detailed briefing that informs and instils in amateur drivers the paramount need for safety first. The next stage involves a spin around the circuit in a Mazda 3 MPS, driven by an instructor who gives a running commentary. This is rather more alarming than it sounds. The Mazda, despite its modest looks, is indecently fast and in the hands of an expert is quite a thrill in itself. Watching racing is one thing, experiencing it is quite another. This is fast.

The final stage is what everyone has been waiting for. The chance to drive a sports car – in this case a Cayman – one-to-one with an instructor. The laps that follow pass in a blur of speed as confidence grows in the car, in the instructor and in your own ability. It’s an adrenalin rush. The only thing wrong with the whole thing is that it has to stop. If funds permit Thruxton offers the added bonus of a run out in a BMW M3 with a well known racing driver, TV personality and drift specialist. A change of trousering may be necessary and the DVD of your face will be prized by the whole family.

Up and down the country our racing circuits offer these treats in a variety of cars at a variety of prices. It may seem like an extravagance but try it and you’ll agree that the opportunity to really open the taps on a sporting motor is money well spent. It certainly was at Thruxton.

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Vauxhall Adam 2013 Soon To Be Released

In 2013 a new range of small city hatchbacks by Vauxhall are to be released, the range is known as the Vauxhall Adam. Targeting ever popular Fiat 500 as its competitor, the new Adam is as small and appealing which could take the market with force.

The driver can alter the car’s appearance to cater for their every need. There are three styles to choose from known as Chic Look, Slam or Glam all with their own characteristics. A range of colours from bright yellows and greens to classy blues and reds are on offer. The roof colour can be changed along with trims and wheels combinations that make every Adam unique

The Vauxhall Adam comes with a few engine variants. The choices are a 1.2 or 1.4 litre variants, the 1.4 litre 86bhp is forecast to be the popular choice with its responsive steering and tight control to the road. The 1.4 litre 99bhp is expected to offer a little more punch on the road.

The driving remains relaxed over long journeys due to the ergonomic design. Long distance driving in the Adam still keeps the driver well supported throughout. Inside the customer can decide between seat trims, roof linings and side panels in the car. The interior replicates the quirky nature the Adam seems to deliver.

Prices starts at £11,255 which when compared to the Fiat 500 at just under £10,000, the Fiat is clearly the cheaper option. Paying that little bit extra gives customers the options to create a unique car with a generous list of paint colour, roof colour, wheels, interior trim and roof lining. Will the Vauxhall Adam be able to take the title of best supermini?

The new Vauxhall Adam is predicted to launch in spring 2013.

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Introduction to car leasing

Buying a car is of course a big decision to make. Cars are expensive, and many car companies seem to make it their mission to throw confusing and complicated finance options at you in a bid to suck you into what can often be a misguided decision – which may even cost you more than you need to pay. However, if understood correctly and in plain English, many car finance options can help make the purchase easier, as well as helping you stay in control of your finances. One of those options is car leasing.

Car leasing is, in its simplest form, like renting a car. In other words, the leasing company retains ownership of the vehicle and the buyer pays monthly payments for its exclusive use.

That’s the first part of leasing, and in some cases may be the only part: with monthly payments being made until the term of the agreement ends. The monthly price will be comprised of the car value, depreciation and a level of interest.

Some leases have two parts though. These include the first part that we’ve just mentioned and a second stage. The second stage takes place at the end of the lease agreement, where the buyer will have the option of paying a final payment – to pay off the remaining residual vehicle and take full ownership. This is sometimes called a balloon payment. Depending on the agreement this isn’t always compulsory, though, and the buyer can decide not to pay it and not take ownership of the vehicle, which will mean the car is then returned to the leasing company.

As with most sizeable purchases where you don’t pay the full price in one lump sum, you’ll need to pay a deposit. This is often described as ‘3 upfront’, whereby the agreed monthly payment is multiplied by three to calculate the deposit. This amount usually will be broken down into 3, 6, or 9 payments up front as the deposit with the amount you pay up front reducing the monthly payments.

In its simplest terms, that’s the main thing to know about leasing a vehicle. However, there are often restrictions and it’s important to fully understand these before signing on the dotted line. A number of the restrictions are optional – for example, if you pay a higher monthly rate then you can choose to have the car’s MOT and servicing included. Likewise, you will need to set a limit on the number of miles you’ll be driving in the car each year – the higher the mileage, the more you’ll pay each month, as the car will be worth less should you return it to the company at the end of the agreement.

Don’t be put off by the varying terms used for vehicle leasing. Contract hire, contract purchase and lease purchase are all examples of vehicle leasing, but they all have slightly different permutations. Some – as you can tell from the name – include compulsory purchase by the buyer, others include the cost of servicing and some include numerous options for maintenance. As with any vehicle purchase, the most important thing is to make sure you fully understand what you’re agreeing to when you sign the paperwork, and also what the total price you’ll be paying is.

That said, vehicle leasing is an affordable, risk-managed way of buying a car, and offers an excellent alternative to outright purchase. The extra price paid in total can arguably be offset by being safe in the knowledge of maintenance being included, or by many of the other numerous options.


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McLaren P1 – The Extreme Hybrid

When is enough power enough? Why, when it is 903 brake horse power, that’s when and especially when it is found in the superb new McLaren P1 that will greet the world at next month’s Geneva Motor Show. The price is still to be announced but you can probably think of a ball-park figure.

This is technology at the cutting edge. Beautiful design coupled with the latest advances in hybrid performance. The P1 has a mid-mounted (always the correct place for an engine) petrol V8 displacing 3.8 litres coupled with a lightweight electric motor that together generate a maximum torque figure of 900Nm. Performance facts will no doubt be revealed in due course. We can confidently predict that it will be quick.

The combination of the two power sources ensures an instant throttle response and huge performance but also helps to make the car perfectly usable as a daily driver. Emissions of the combined motors are, astonishingly, under 200g/km, owing to the options of hybrid motoring.

An electric only mode is available which will allow the car to travel around six miles on battery power alone. The battery is charged by the petrol engine but can also be plugged into a wall socket anywhere for a full charge-up in a couple of hours, thanks to an on-board charging lead stored in the boot. Maximum power comes when both motors are used simultaneously and when the battery is fully discharged the V8 will take over to maintain drive and commence the charging procedure.

An Instant Power Assist System button is deployed on the steering wheel which allows the 176bhp of electric power in an instant in the manner of a Formula 1 racing car. Also inspired by F1 is the Drag Reduction System. This is also activated from the steering wheel and it cleverly reduces the wing angle which lowers the drag by 23%, we are told.

It is impressive to see this sort of hybrid technology being applied to supercars. Those enthusiasts who believed that the end was in sight for cars like this can breathe a sigh of relief. The more advanced these hybrid systems become – be it via electric, compressed air or hydrogen power – the safer we can be in the knowledge that manufacturers will continue to build exciting cars and not just euro-boxes for the masses. Well done McLaren. If you need anyone for an extended P1 test at any time…

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