Tag Archive | "VW"

New Year New World New Cars

One of the best things about seeing ourselves into any new year is that we know Spring is just around the corner and we can look forward to gradually improving weather – or so we hope. Another good thing is the arrival of a new crop of car shows to delight car enthusiasts everywhere; and it all starts in Motor City – Detroit.

It’s inevitable that any American show is going to favour home grown products – like the awesome new Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. This may well be the star of the show, resurrecting as it does the Stingray name from 1963, but it is less likely to interest the average UK motorist for whom such cars are just a primordial dream.

Much more interesting, yet probably never available to the UK market, is the Volkswagen CrossBlue concept. This is an SUV for the North American customers and is even bigger than the same company’s Toureg, although it does indicate the ‘face’ of VW SUV’s in the future. It’s a six-seater and would be instant must have for Tony Soprano – if he were still around.

Also at The Detroit Motor Show was a new Mercedes that will make fans of the brand very happy indeed. This car is seriously good looking as you can see from the image, above. It has all the style of the CLS but packed into a vehicle not much bigger than an A-Class. The CLA is part of Mercedes new small car family and is the first compact four-door coupé of its kind; although not for long as BMW will soon launch a 4-Series Coupé , as will Audi with an A3 saloon. More on these two cars shortly.

In keeping with the ‘let’s make them smaller’ trend Honda have shown their new SUV concept to be based on the forthcoming Jazz. It’s called the Urban SUV for now and, if it goes ahead, will rival the Nissan Juke and Renault’s Captur that we featured yesterday.

Mini fans will be delighted with the new John Cooper Works version of the Paceman. This 215bhp pocket rocket comes with four-wheel drive, is lower than the standard Paceman and is augmented by a more aggressive body kit and a rather splendid choice of paint jobs. At a starting point of around £30k however it might find itself price compromised. There are cheaper hot hatch offerings.

Jeep have revamped the Grand Cherokee and added a new and impressive front end which will give UK drivers who hanker for USA styling a bit of a lift. It is suitably butch but in an appealing way. Additionally on show are the new BMW M6 Gran Coupé , the Infiniti Q50 sports saloon and the revised Mercedes E-Class to name but three. World recession there might be but in the motor halls of Detroit – like speaking of the Dark Lord – nobody is mentioning it.

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WRC 2013 Gets A Polo

It still remains to be seen if the UK is going to see any television coverage of the World Rally Championship in 2013. The series kicks off with the usual season opener in legendary Monte Carlo mid-January, although without the factory sponsored Ford’s. Fiesta fans shouldn’t despair as the fantastic M-Sport team will continue with backing from Qatar.

With the semi-retirement of Sebastien Loeb (got to be the greatest ever, surely?) the field is open for other drivers to attack the Championship including up-and-comers like Mads Ostberg and Ott Tanak. Sadly we won’t see Petter Solberg. The withdrawal of Ford has meant that the great veteran Norwegian is without a drive so far. Let’s hope that someone gives him a late pass.

It’s a welcome return though of Hyundai who’ll be running an i20 test team with a view to full entry in 2014, but the biggest news of all is the return to the top flight of rallying by Volkswagen. They will be competing the full season with two works Polo’s driven by Jari-Matti Latvala and Sebastien Ogier, taking on the might of Citroen.

This is a chance for VW to demonstrate their sporting credentials to ordinary users; this means that their cars are not some weird and wonderful prototypes that just happen to look like the Polo, but rather the real thing that you and I buy, except, obviously, in race trim. This is no snap decision as the car has been in development for seventeen months and clearly shows that VW see a future in this most commercial branch of motor sport.

The WRC has been neglected a bit by the sports governing body the FIA, but with strong new sponsors we can only hope that 2013 will see it back to its exciting best. Potential sponsors Red Bull and Sportsman Media have already confirmed their intention to achieve maximum value from this rather over-looked competition.

To confirm their intentions VW are not content just to race cars, they want to sell us the relatives. The Polo R WRC Street (pictured) is a civilian version of the rally car. It will sport the racing livery, have WRC style bumpers and 18”rims. Power comes from a performance 2.0L TSI engine and the car should cover the 0-60 sprint in 6.4 seconds, so it’s no slouch. Sadly there won’t be a version with the rally motor in it (0-60 in 3.9 seconds!).

From freezing cold to searing heat the WRC combines extremes of climate with extremes of terrain. Fans of the sport worldwide rate it as highly as Formula 1 but for some curious reason the British media pretty much ignore it. Let’s hope, with new sponsors and a renewed interest, some enlightened channel will pick it up. If not, we’ll have to rely on the (admittedly excellent) half-hour bulletins from Motors TV, as usual.

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Small, Clean, Green And Capable

In a time, long ago, 4×4’s were a breed apart. They were usually massive with thirsty growling engines that breathed out noxious fumes like enormous dragons with halitosis and an attitude problem. They were loathed by people of the green persuasion and were only acceptable if the driver was a farmer, a vet or a Chelsea mummy. Well, not any more.

With the technical improvements in diesel (especially the common rail direct fuel injection systems) and petrol engines, the motors in these all-purpose vehicles are much cleaner than before and considerably more economical too. What’s more, some models are much more compact and targeted very much at the family market rather than for, say, agricultural use. The manufacturers haven’t been slow in bringing to market some compact 4×4’s which, they claim, significantly reduce emissions and achieve in excess of 40mpg. Not bad for cars that should be able to handle general off-road conditions well. They’re not really full blown mud-pluggers but how many of us really needs that?

Take the Fiat Panda 4×4. The previous model was capable but a bit of an ugly duckling; the new one introduced in 2012 is not only very capable on and off road but is also good looking and a decent drive. It’s the only 4×4 city car, effectively, so if you’re an urban dweller who feels the call of the wild from time to time then this is the car for you, especially with emissions of just 125g/km.

No consideration of any type of car, large or small, can be complete without a BMW in the list and it should therefore come as no surprise that this German company has something that fit’s the small off-roader bill in the guise of the X3. The latest model is a great improvement on the old one (even BMW can get it wrong sometimes); it drives well on the tarmac and is quite capable of tackling more difficult terrain. It only comes with diesel options but a claimed 50mpg is a pleasant surprise and, coupled with CO² emissions of just 149g/km, makes this all-rounder a quality and stylish choice.

For something a little different how about a Hyundai? They used to make a leviathan called the Tucson but that has now be superseded by the much more acceptable ix35 (pictured). This car is a massive stride forward for Hyundai – its build quality and design make it a truly premium product. Buy it in the gutsy 2.0L diesel 4×4 version and you’ll be delighted with the low CO² and decent fuel economy.

There’s plenty of choice in this small 4×4 sector with cars like the popular Ford Kuga and Nissan’s excellent Qashqai competing with models from VW, Toyota and Honda. Although the gas-guzzling behemoths of old are frowned upon these days you can still have useful off-road ability that won’t shame you on the streets.

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Sao Paulo Sensations

Motor shows are perennially popular. They are the conduit for manufacturers to let the buying public know about their latest offerings and concepts. They tell us which way the industry is going. Up here in the hard lands of the winter we’re used to hearing about the shows in Europe and the Far East, but down in the Southern Hemisphere, where the other half live, people buy cars too apparently and one of their most prestigious motor shows has just closed in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Manufacturers are keen to commit to Brazil as they see it as a growing and productive economy, unlike stagnant Europe. Brazil is now listed as the fourth largest car market in the world and car makers have sensibly been revealing new models to this burgeoning market.

Volkswagen have been aware of this for decades of course. They’ve been building cars there since 1959. This time they have introduced the new, and frankly sensational Taigun concept to the world (pictured). It’s an SUV, Jim, but not as we know it. Based on the UP! City car but with slightly larger dimensions, it is a full five-seater with a punchy one litre engine driven through a six speed ‘box. Lined up against it’s bigger siblings the Tiguan and Toureg, the family resemblance is there but in a tiny dimension. If it is finally built, and it looks probable, it will almost certainly sell in droves.

In keeping with the small is beautiful theme, Nissan have shown the Extrem concept – and yes, that is the right spelling. Designed to sit below the Juke and Qashqai models, the Extrem is based on the Micra platform and is believed to be demonstrating Nissan’s future look.

Interestingly, Renault sell their Dacia brand in South America badged as Renaults. This is apparently because there the people don’t really go along with the rather pretentious idea of low budget ranges and the like. There are cheap cars and there are expensive cars and that’s it. Thus the Dacia Duster becomes the Renault DCross and very butch it is to, with many manly embellishments to the exterior. Brazilians like their motors a bit tougher than us soft Europeans, which is why Honda add bigger bumpers and body cladding to the Jazz and call it the Fit Twist!

Things are changing in the car world. Sao Paulo is now arguably the most vibrant of auto industry market places. All the brand names had a car or two on show and many new ideas have been seen. It demonstrates the continuing trend to smaller vehicles with smaller, more efficient engines. Maybe it would shake up the European market if customers decided to go Latino!

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WRC Gets Great New Promoters

Rally fans rejoice! The World Rally Championship – so disappointing in recent years – has at last hooked the right promoters to bring the sport back to the level it achieved in the old Group B days; but hopefully without all the tragedy.

After much unnecessary faffing about by the FIA, it has finally been announced that The Sportsman Media Group and Red Bull Media House have signed up to promote this great sport in 2013 and beyond. With a household name like Red Bull – no strangers to active sports promotion – on board there is every reason to hope that next year will see a massive resurgence in the popularity of this great motor sport.

This announcement has been enhanced by the further news that nine times World Champion Sebastian Loeb is to retire from active participation at the top level; although he will contest a few rounds next year for Citroen, he won’t be in contention for the title. This will be good news for every other driver as Loeb has dominated the sport for the last decade, establishing himself as, without argument, the greatest rally driver ever.

Alongside the new promoters come some rule changes. Basically, it will cost less for teams to compete which in turn means that there will hopefully be greater participation from manufacturers. Already Volkswagen have confirmed a full blown WRC Polo Team, probably headlined by rising French star Sebastian Ogier. Hyundai will make a belated return and field a rally version of its popular i20 (pictured) with the intention of full commitment by 2014.

Over the years fans have been increasingly starved of TV coverage as time has gone on. This hasn’t been helped by the total domination by the mighty Citroen / Loeb alliance. In 2012, with no real promoter other an the individual sponsors for each event, Motors TV have struggled on with ‘day after’ highlights of each events. The commentary from Colin Clarke and Julian Porter is terrific but this doesn’t make up for the paucity of media interest.

Although the in-car shots are great it would be good to see more use of the aerial helicopter coverage too. The manufacturers need top media coverage to promote their wares. The cars look like the ones we drive (on the outside at least) and the sport itself is a truly exciting spectacle.

Let’s hope that between the promoters, the FIA, the World Motor Sport Council and the car makers themselves, 2013 will be the year that the WRC once again reached the heights it has previously achieved. Let us also hope that it’s free-to-air viewing too!

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Volkswagen Tiguan Gets Sporty for Car Leasing and Contract Hire

Source: www.ledencarleasing.co.uk

There’s no getting away from the fact that small cars are beginning to dominate the market for all the economic and ecological reasons you might expect. The problem is that, for the most part, they are not especially family or business orientated. This is where the VW Tiguan steps up to the mark.

First introduced to us in 2008 this small 4×4 immediately became a firm favourite with drivers who needed something a bit more substantial. It fits neatly into the compact SUV category and regularly features in top 5 listings.

Unsurprisingly, there’s a touch of the VW Golf in the way it looks and as you would expect from the brand, it is well made, roomy and comfortable. On the move, it looks somewhat more prestigious than the more glitzy offerings in this sector. At its best on the road where it offers a safe drive, it can still hold its own when the going gets a bit rougher, which is pretty much all that most owners will need. For that ‘wind in your hair’ effect without actually getting wind in your hair, VW offer a really terrific panoramic sunroof as an option. This, you will want. This makes a lot of sense for the business user or the driver who needs something that can handle everything British roads throw at it.

One area that has burgeoned in recent years is that of car leasing. This is a great alternative way of running a new car and is increasingly popular. Once, the number of vehicles available was limited but these days customers who choose the leasing option can have their pick, including the Tiguan which is now available from Volkswagen Tiguan Car Leasing. This makes a lot of sense for the business user or the driver who needs something that can handle everything British roads throw at it.

The Tiguan is available with either two or four wheel drive and for the more rugged user there’s the ‘Escape’ model which features shorter overhangs and under body protection. For the most economical choice given the price of fuel, VW have kindly included their BlueMotion engine option; otherwise there is a selection of  engines to suit all requirements.

This car is already a handsome fellow but, not content to rest on their laurels, the company have announced the new R-Line. This is based on the already well featured SE trim level but adds glamorous wheels, bi-xenon lamps, various body and grill embellishments on the outside. Inside the cabin the R-Line enthusiast can expect sports seats and two-tone upholstery. The overall effect is rather splendid in a Volkswagen sort of way. No flash here.

So whichever way you choose to get your next vehicle, the Volkswagen Tiguan makes a lot of sense. Reliable, efficient and family proof, it’s the ideal choice for mixed motoring.



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VW At The Forefront – Again

Everybody know the Volkswagen Golf. It is rightly considered to be a reliable and classy choice for the discerning motorist. It therefore comes as no surprise to learn that the seventh generation of this popular evergreen has been shown at the Paris Motor Show.

Over the last few years this established car has spawned a sort of frugal sibling which goes under the guise of the Golf BlueMotion. Same car but with the emphasis strongly on economy. Volkswagen clearly understand the needs of the modern motorist and are catering for it. The price of petrol dictates nothing else.

So it is then that the third generation of the BlueMotion Golf has been simultaneously announced at the Paris show – and it’s an astonishing revelation. Who would have considered just a few years ago that a car with a 1.6L diesel engine developing 110bhp could achieve 88.3 miles per gallon whilst only belching out a modest 85g/km of the smoky stuff. This is the claim made by the company.

It seems clear that because of the public’s concern about the real-world suitability of electric vehicles, at least for now, those clever engineers at VW have decided to hedge their bets with some serious conventional engine technology. The result is the success story that is BlueMotion.

This frugal Golf has been around now for five years and this is the car’s third version. At its introduction the combined figures of 62.8mpg and 119g/km seemed awesome but they pale into insignificance compared to the latest version. With a fifty litre fuel tank this car can achieve a theoretical distance of 970 miles. Even for the driver with the worst mother-in-law in the world this is probably far enough in one sitting.

Consumption figures like this can’t be achieved without some serious engine evolution. This small four cylinder motor is loaded with the latest tech – thermal management systems, reductions in internal friction (always a good thing), water-cooled intercoolers, catalytic converters, particulate filters; the list is endless and probably includes the dark arts. Whatever; this is a seriously efficient car.

But efficient doesn’t have to mean dull. This is still a Golf, so buyers can expect the legendary build quality, the usual high standard of fixtures and fittings and excellent aerodynamic properties. Needless to say there will be no point in trying a grand prix standing start against a GTi but that isn’t the reason people will buy this car. What it may lack in performance it makes up for in every other department. Although the Golf is at the more expensive end of this sector it has still got to be a great long-term buy.

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New Golf & Audi TT – New VW Technology

The new Audi TT should be on sale in 2014 and it’s an exciting prospect. It’ll appear in the usual coupé and roadster iterations and incorporate Audi’s multi-media interface along with new, sleeker styling. Enthusiasts will be less delighted with the price. It seems that Audi are taking the TT upmarket with the hot RS version moving into 911 Carrera territory.

In the interests of economy the car will share platforms with the A3 and VW’s Golf and will incorporate Volkswagen’s recently announced MQB (In English – Modular Transverse Matrix, if you must know) component set. This new or old idea (depending on your point of view) returns to the basic principles of mass production as a response to the increasing complexity of the industry. By creating a standardised, interchangeable set of parts from which to build a variety of cars, VW plans to cut the time taken to build a car by 30%.

The first car to feel the benefit of this cost saving measure will be the new VW Golf MK7 (pictured right) which will be in the showrooms later this year. Body and chassis are a hybrid of steel and aluminium panels, joined by a new riveting process with a special coating to prevent electrolytic corrosion. On average, cars will weigh 40kg lighter than today’s equivalents, the next Golf tipping the scales at much the same weight as a 1997 Golf Mk4. All engines are designed the same way with the exhaust mounted to the rear and both diesel and petrol are inclined backwards at an angle of 12 degrees, so body shells are completely unaffected by the choice of engine fitted. Even the direct injection, boosted engines themselves are modular in the way they fit together.

VW’s new family of TSI engines will all be more or less of a size yet will be easily configured into different power outputs. The weight cutting doesn’t stop with the body either. The aluminium blocks are 16kg lighter and other parts have been shaved of unnecessary pork as well. To make the units more compact the exhaust manifolds are cast as one into the cylinder head. They get a dedicated cooling circuit as does the main engine body with top and bottom cooling loops for complete efficiency. The 138bhp, 1.4L engine will incorporate active cylinder management allowing the motor to shut down two cylinders, when appropriate, to maximise economy.

As you might expect, this new generation of cars will offer the latest high-tech options including camera-based traffic sign recognition to control your speeding urges and lane detection to counter your wandering, particularly when tired. In short, the car will know when you’re nodding off. This new MQB architecture is designed to ensure that VW and it’s allied brands don’t go the way of some other companies recently. Whether or not the customer will see all this cost saving reflected in the prices remains to be seen.

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