Archive | Auto Shows

Concept Cars – Has The World Gone Mad?

Soon, very soon now, the motor show season will kick start the Autumn and Winter months, bringing some light into our damp darkness. One feature that is sure to be of interest this year is just how mad some of the concept cars will be.

Concepts – often the result of years of research – are a way of introducing styling changes and possible future developments to the waiting world. In reality, the final production models will not look much like them at all.

Car designers are allowed free rein to come up with new ideas and the copywriters will have sharpened their quills to ensure that the greatest amount of florid hyperbole can be written into the smallest spaces on the page. Vehicles that are futuristic, wacky and just plain bananas are usually the result. The Citroen Cactus (pictured) is a case in point. This concept has ‘air bumps’ on the side to help minimise damage in the event of a minor shunt.

CAC21 Concept Cars   Has The World Gone Mad?It is crucial that all concept cars are given daft names. Presumably there is a point to it but who knows what it is? When Citroen were questioned about calling a car Cactus they got a bit prickly about it. (Only kidding! Citroen people are very nice!). Also, in today’s environmentally friendly world, the cars have to be clean and efficient. The aforementioned Cactus has an Hybrid-Air system. This is an innovative combination of tried and tested technologies: a petrol engine, a unit to store energy in the form of compressed air, a hydraulic motor-pump assembly and an automatic transmission working with an epicyclic gear train. Well done if you understand that but this technology could well be featuring in the brand’s vehicles from 2016.

If manufacturers are prepared to spend a pretty penny developing these cars then they make sure they make as much of them as possible. This usually results in the motor being loaded to the roofline with the very latest techno-gadgets and safety features. They will be bursting with touch screen technology and the appalling named ‘infotainment centres’. Whatever happened to radios? Now it seems it is possible to connect with the entire world and probably NASA as well. Houston, we have a puncture.

No news yet on what advances the car makers are planning to stop children destroying the back seats of cars or of special cloaking devices which makes the cars invisible to traffic wardens. These are the answers that motorists want yet they remain a distant dream. And they call it progress.

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Massive Volkswagen Campaign At The Frankfurt Show

When you’re on a roll, you’re on a roll. That presumably is the philosophy of the good people at Volkswagen because, at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show to be held next month, they are showcasing no less than fifty three vehicles on a 8,893m² stand in Hall No.3.

Although times are tough in the new car industry these days, VW seem to have the capacity and resilience to just keep the good stuff coming. The brand highlights are the world premiere of the e-Golf and the new Golf R, plus one further model we‘ve yet to see.

Thanks to their success in the World Rally Championship with Sebastien Ogier leading the charge, this year they are using that sport as one of their main themes along with their four-wheel drive 4MOTION technology and ‘Think Blue’, targeted at the ecological stance of their ‘Bluemotion’ vehicles.

The overarching theme however is ‘Electrifying’. This motto not only refers to e-mobility as represented in Frankfurt by products such as the e-Golf, e-up! and XL1 along with other numerous exhibits backed up by shows on large screens. Everything about the stand takes up the “electrifying” theme and is designed to create an emotional impact on visitors. Apart from e-mobility, this includes the link between car, man and technology; connectivity or Volkswagen’s approach to other forward-looking drive-train technologies over and above e-mobility.

They even developed a feature allowing visitors to take a ‘Think Blue’ stroll past Volkswagen models which particularly feature economic and green technologies. An “Innovation Wall” provides visitors with interesting information on sustainability, technologies and innovations.VW2 Massive Volkswagen Campaign At The Frankfurt Show

There is much to applaud about Volkswagen these days. They really do seem to have their finger on the worldwide pulse when it comes to the cars we want to drive. OK, some of the vehicles on offer are not the most exciting, but when it comes to offering a variety across economy and through into performance they are going to be hard to beat. No wonder they need a big stand!

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Macan Magic

The Porsche Cayenne is a very desirable vehicle but it is also very big. Now though, Porsche have come up with the answer. The Macan. That’s it in the image and we promise you can get it in colours other than yellow. There has been a trend recently for smaller SUV type vehicles and most manufacturers have something of the sort in their line-ups. The Audi Q5 for example is a scaled down version of the bigger Q7. Now Porsche have followed suit.

The Macan, styled as a sporty off-roader, is due out in time for Spring next year and is rumoured to be priced from around £36,000 which puts it right in the path of the the hugely successful Range Rover Evoque. It will be formally introduced to the automotive world in November at the Los Angeles Motor Show.

This new addition to the Porsche list will be based on the same platform as the above mentioned Q5 but it will be more than just that vehicle in a posh frock. The Macan will make greater use of aluminium components which will make it lighter than the Audi to the tune of 130kilos.

Four-wheel drive is standard and it is expected to be powered, initially at least, by a choice of six-cylinder petrol or diesel engines. It may well be that the new four cylinder Porsche engines will make an appearance later on in the car’s life. As with the other models in the range there will be an S-version and the inevitable hybrid.

Along with the lighter body, the Macan will differ from its Audi sibling by utilising some different chassis parts and suspension tuning unique to Porsche. The cabin will be as well appointed as you would expect from this prestige car maker and will follow the style seen currently in the 911 and Panamera.

Obviously there will be the usual Porsche family resemblance. The tapered rear lights are reminiscent of the 911 but the big grill, bumpers and the butch stance are strictly Cayenne. The company is keen to disassociate the Macan from the idea of car as fashion statement. This may be due to the fact that they are a little late to the small SUV party and are therefore aiming for exclusivity.

The car is to be built at an enlarged factory in Leipzig. This means that there won’t be capacity for another model which may signify that the rumoured Pajun saloon is still some time away. In the meantime they are banking on the Macan which, at some ten thousand pounds cheaper than the base Cayenne, offers a genuine alternative to the big brother.

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The Bath Pageant Of Motoring

As the Summer continues (pause for hollow, bitter laugh) the UK will be abuzz with the sound of exotic and classic machinery as the car show season gets under way. There’s something for everyone at a venue near you, such is the British love of cars and bikes of all descriptions. In some cases visitors can also do their bit for a worthwhile charity.

A case in point is the Bath Pageant Of Motoring. This takes place near the City of Bath on the 6th/7th July. It is being organised by Bath Rotary Club and its purpose is to raise money for the Bath Institute of Medical Engineering’s efforts in the production and distribution of “Wizzybugs”; electric wheelchairs for disabled children.

Following last year’s successful event the venue is being moved and will be held at the Walcot Rugby Ground, Lansdown, Bath, BA1 9BJ. There will of course be modern and classic cars and motorcycles galore as well as an extensive programme of parades, exhibitions, demonstrations and super car rides. If that isn’t enough to tempt you how about some competitions, live music and family activities. Fresh food, drinks and refreshments are available throughout the weekend from local suppliers and caterers.

For those of an oily fingered disposition there’ll be an Autojumble containing a wide array of vehicle accessories, parts, tools and clothing. The show includes a special display of unique and high-performance supercars, including Aston Martin, AC Cobra, Lotus, Ferrari, Porsche, Jaguar, and many others. You can even book a ride in a supercar with a donation to charity. If you have a suitable vehicle that you’d like to display, contact the organisers.

Visitors can camp on site if they fancy making a weekend of it and there’s free parking. Best of all it doesn’t cost very much. A lot of events and attractions these days charge a small fortune that can stretch slender budgets so you’ll be pleased to note that this is a very reasonably priced event serving a very worthwhile charitable cause.

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New Honda NSX – Buy Off Plan!

Over time people have come to learn that it isn’t always a good idea to buy off plan. How many stories have there been about would-be villa owners being suckered into dubious schemes? Not that Honda would be so devious obviously, when it comes to cars; but is it ever a good idea to buy anything sight unseen – apart from some images and a motor show concept? Wouldn’t you want to at least drive the thing first?

That is however what is happening. If you are in the market for a highly desirable sports car then Honda would like to meet with you. At the meeting you can get your order down for a modest five thousand pound deposit. The snag is that nobody seems to know just how much this car will ultimately cost; apart from a lot.

The new NSX is scheduled to come to the UK in 2015. This is the new generation of the famous name first seen in 1990. That original car was designed with the help of one Mr A Senna. That’s the name that Honda have to live up to with this new model. The concept seen at the Detroit show confirmed that the NSX will be powered by a mid-mounted 3.5L V6 petrol engine coupled with two electric motors. The petrol engine drives the rear wheels and the two 27hp motors will drive the front. Thus the NSX becomes a 4×4 described by Honda as a ‘Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive’.

At the time of writing at least twenty buyers have placed their trust and their cash in the hands of Honda. There can be no doubting that the car will be very good – the Japanese company’s reputation hangs on it – but with all the other desirable supercars around that can be looked at, groped and driven, it just seems like a strange thing for moneyed customers to do. Still, their choice.

There are Astons and Ferraris and Lamborghinis and McLarens available now. Sure, they are not hybrids and maybe this is what Honda are banking on. That eco-step forward that will make a supercar acceptable to the Green World Order. It certainly looks the business so let’s hope that Honda have a success on their hands.

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Shanghai Surprises

Back on the 12th April we mentioned that Ford were planning a surprise concept that would be revealed at the Shanghai show. Well, as good as their word they have revealed – an Escort! Bet you didn’t see that one coming; and you won’t either because it is not for the likes of us but rather for the burgeoning Chinese market. This is presumably because the Chinese have no understanding of the connotations behind the word ‘escort’. There it is in the image and very nice it looks too. Nothing remains to remind us of that late, unlamented car.

Other releases include the Maserati Ghibli, the Panamera Hybrid, the VW CrossBlue concept and a couple of others that we have already covered, including the bizarrely code-named Nissan Friend-ME. Other cars revealed include a couple of slightly odd – and some believe rather pointless – German cars.

First up is the BMW X4 concept. They call it a concept but it is believed to be pretty much what the production version will look like. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but to some observers it’s not really a looker – more Zellweger than Klum, if you see what we mean. More interestingly, some commentators are wondering, what is it for? Certainly the BMW X range of SUV’s has been a huge success but there is already four of them. Why this? Despite reservations it is sure to be a success – it is a BMW after all and that means great driving characteristics and all the attributes of the brand. No doubt it will find its niche.

Basically, the same thing goes for the Mercedes GLA concept. Essentially, it is a hiked-up crossover version of the A-Class. It is expected in the showrooms in 2015. The concept is loaded with some of that pointless showing off by the technology department at Mercedes – including laser beam projectors in the headlights – but who knows what will be acceptable in a couple of years time? Expect some engine advances though. This car should go up against the Audi Q3 and will cost around £40k in today’s money.

No show would be complete without another electric car. This time it is the limited edition SP-01 from Detroit Electric. It’s a sports car reputed to be the fastest yet and it is certainly eye-catching; but what’s the point? Sorry to be a killjoy but wouldn’t it be a good idea to spend the research money on a car that will actually work and sell in the real world? Plenty of drivers would like an EV that had good range provided it was within their budget which this patently is not. Nevertheless you can buy an SP-01 now.

With first deliveries of the spectacular F-Type currently in hand, It’s good to see Jaguar Land Rover flying the flag at Shanghai. China is a growing market for the JLR brand and they had their most successful month in March, selling nearly 8500 units. There is also hope for the MG name. They’ve previewed the MG3 supermini prior to it’s European release later this year. It would be great if this venerable name can truly be resurrected in the UK.

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VW Show The Shape Of Things To Come

Volkswagen have a plan and it involves the future design direction of their range of SUVs; and very nice it is too. The photo shows the five-seat CrossBlue Coupé which will make its debut at the Shanghai Motor Show later in the month.

Here at Motor Blogger we think this one is a bit special. Size-wise, it’s about the same size as the mighty Touareg although it sits lower and has a wider, more aggressive stance. Yet this is not just a design exercise. In line with current technology this car is also a plug-in hybrid.

The engine is a turbo V6 with direct petrol injection mated to not one but two electric motors driving front and rear, generating 40kW at the front and a gutsy 85kW at the back. Combined, 516lb ft of torque is on offer. Power is via a six speed DSG gearbox and the combined whole will take the CrossBlue to 62mph in a scant 5.9 seconds.

In other words this is a family sized vehicle with the performance of a sports car. Incredibly, Volkswagen reckon that despite the bulk the coupé will sip fuel to the tune of 94.1mpg. In reality this is not likely to be achievable, as ever, but even 70+ miles per gallon is a bit of an achievement in a large car.

The CrossBlue is built on VW’s new Modular Transverse Matrix component set. Although this does not really tell us much it can be assumed that this is about shared modular construction across company products with front driving transverse engines. It will presumably allow the company to rationalise components across their vehicle range. This is much the same thinking as used by other manufacturers and clearly makes sense. Apart from anything else it helps to keep pricing competitive and that’s good for everybody.

Driven on battery power alone the car is said to cover 20 miles as a standalone EV. In E-Mode only the rear electric motor provides drive and the petrol engine is shut off. The engine will not engage until speeds of seventy five mph as long as there is battery power to spare. Once electric power is depleted the engine cuts in instantly.

Aside from plug-in recharging the car has a variety of ways to generate electric power on the move and, if necessary, the TSI engine can stand alone and drive the front wheels.

It is probably said every time a new Volkswagen comes out but it’s true – it looks like they’ve done it again: but there’s a problem. The company say that there are no plans to put the CrossBlue into production. This is a tragic mistake. Clearly this is an idea of the shape of things to come but we want it now!

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Be Friend-ME in Shanghai

Something happens to executives of motor companies when they give names to their concept cars, falling prey as they do to wild flights of fantasy. When new cars actually come onto the market they regain a modicum of decorum. Nissan for example – the company that brought you the excitingly named Note – have gone especially off their corporate rockers by naming their latest concept the Friend-ME (only teaser images available, sadly) which apparently features a consul described as unique and that allows “Four Seats, One Mind Connectivity – equal information sharing among all on board”. Boggling.

Another company struck by the curse of over-ripe language is Citroen who will be show-casing their concept SUV, the Wild Rubis. The plan is for this to be a new addition to the DS range and very good it looks too (pictured). It has been seen before in a previous concept incarnation, the DSX.

The Wild Rubis is designed to rival the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3. Citroen say that the SUV is primarily aimed at the Chinese market but could well make it to the UK where the DS range is proving very popular. It’s a bigger car than the Q5 and Citroen seem confident that a version will appear as this concept is described as the “ forerunner of the future DS SUV”.

The styling of this concept is dramatic. Roof rails that flow into the C-pillars augment the bold crease along the shoulder line. The ruby paint work apparently changes depending on the intensity of the prevailing light. Other details – engines, interior – are scarce but the company state that the Wild Rubis is a full plug-in hybrid.

This car is based, surprisingly, on the older C5 platform and will be built in China. It will be followed by a big saloon (seen in concept form as the Numero 9 shown last year at Beijing) and a smaller saloon; all of which are designed to cash in on the burgeoning Chinese auto market.

Also at Shanghai we can expect to see the new BMW X4, the coupé /SUV design of which is splitting opinion. The X4 will probably go on sale in 2014. Mercedes are expected to launch a new SUV based on the A-Class and Ford will announce a new global concept, about which they are being very secretive. Couple that with the arrival of the exquisite Maserati Ghibli and the revamped Porsche Panamera and we are in for another automotive treat.

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The Ghibli – In A Class Of Its Own

According to some academics and the government (so it must be true!) all of us apparently fit into one of seven new social classes in this, our  classless society. We all have dreams and aspirations and hope to move and improve our lives as we go forward and one thing we can all aspire to without wearing a social label is the buying of a nice new car.

Today, that car is the Maserati Ghibli. That’s it in the picture and isn’t it just about the most desirable thing on four wheels? Let us hope that the negative aspects attached to that name don’t appear on this version. The Ghibli first came to light in 1967 and was a shark-nosed two door coupé with a V8 motor. That run ended in 1973 until the name resurfaced in 1992 on the second Ghibli, a bi-turbo. That lasted for another five years.

Both cars were obviously fantastic, being of Italian manufacture but, being of Italian manufacture, suffered from quality and reliability problems and – it goes without saying – the dreaded rust. Nevertheless, they are very sought after by collectors today.

Clearly Maserati and their masters at FIAT have different plans for the future. This new car, which joins the expensive Quattroporte and Granturismo on the roll-call, is expected to be competitively priced around the £50,000 mark to enable it to compete with the likes of the Jaguar XF and the BMW 5 Series in the prestige sector. The company want to be selling fifty thousand units overall within a couple of years and the Ghibli – coupled with the arrival of the Kubang SUV – is likely to spearhead their campaign.

The Ghibli will be the first Maserati to offer a diesel engine. Both it and the petrol version will be 3.0L V6 power plants. Both will have an eight-speed ZF auto-transmission and in addition to the rear-wheel drive will also be available with the new Q4 four-wheel drive system, although this is unlikely to be available in the UK. At some point in the future a V8 will make an appearance.

From the first glance this car could only be a Maserati. The Italians seem to be able to turn drawing board beauty into reality with every car, unlike some manufacturers; although here in the UK we seem to be turning out some lookers as well. The Ghibli has a luxurious interior and even has – shock, horror – a proper actual switch to operate the lights.

This car is distinctive and elegant in the way that only, for the most part, Italian cars can be. Let’s hope that the reliability issues are a thing of the past. Maserati are launching the Ghibli officially at the Shanghai Motor Show at the end of the month. The question is – will it be able to lure away the fans of the German cars that dominate this sector or will it be in a class of its own?

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Porsche Panamera Gets Greener

Once known as the brand that supped from the cup of the yuppie culture a couple of decades back, the Porsche name has managed to get well past all that nonsense to enter a new phase of popularity. The latest 911 is a state-of-the-art masterpiece (if you can get beyond the divisive electric steering) and the Cayman is simply one of the best drives that money can buy. The Cayenne is hugely popular with customers worldwide but it is the Panamera that is the big surprise.

On first impressions the car is not a looker – at least that’s what the reviewers at the time of launch thought – but it is clear from sales that customers don’t agree. In the USA it is a best seller and is sought after elsewhere around the world. Various styling tweaks have since made the car more appealing and the latest version should finally silence the critics.

As with other manufacturers in the prestige car sector, Porsche have been working with hybrid technology and it was first introduced into the Panamera in 2011. Now there is going to be a new version – the S E-Hybrid -which will be formally announced at the Shanghai Motor Show later in April. The original was good, this new one (pictured) should be even better.

The S E-Hybrid is the first plug-in Porsche. The plug is in the front grill and the lithium-ion battery can charge from a domestic point in about four hours, less from a fast charger. A full charge will give twenty two miles on electric power alone. The battery is topped up in use via a regenerative braking system.

The 4.8L V8 has gone and is replaced by a three litre V6 bi-turbo which on its own will produce around 320bhp. Add in a further 95 from the electric motor and the car will whisk the person with the requisite £90k (est) to 62 miles per hour in a sparkling 5.5 seconds and on to 168mph in fairly short order.

The most amazing aspect of this – remember this is a Porsche – is that the company are claiming 91mpg! Owners won’t get this in the real world of course but even a more modest figure of, say, about 70mpg is a bit of a triumph in a car like this. Even more impressive is the road tax and congestion charge busting 71g/km.

All the usual goodies are there including bi-Xenon lights, climate, parking sensors and so on plus the added security benefit of the Porsche Vehicle Tracking System approved to Thatcham’s category 5 level. Buyers will even get a complimentary driving experience at  Silverstone to learn more about their car. If the funds are available this has got to be the premier eco-drive available. All the joy of Porsche ownership with pleasure of knowing that the very best green credentials are on show.

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