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News and views about cars, bikes and motorsport. Covers new cars and motorcycles, auto industry news, motoring issues and motor racing.

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  • 12/07/12--15:22: Volkswagen Eco Up!
  • Volkswagen has launched the Eco Up!, which features a 1.0 litre, three-cylinder engine that can run on petrol, natural gas or biomethane.

    With 67 bhp (50 kW / 68 PS) and 90 Nm (66 lb/ft) of torque, performance isn’t spectacular. Sprinting from zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) takes 16.3 seconds, while the top speed is 101 mph (164 km/h). And any overtaking attempts will certainly need to be carefully planned, because the 50 - 75 mph (80 - 120 km/h) acceleration time in fourth gear is a relaxed 19.5 seconds.

    Volkswagen Eco Up! 5-Door (2012) Rear SideVolkswagen Eco Up! 5-Door (2012) Fuel Filler Detail

    Volkswagen Eco Up! 5-Door (2012) Fuel Gauges DetailVolkswagen Eco Up! 5-Door (2012) Front Side

    But of course the Eco Up! is really about low emissions and reduced running costs. Claimed to be the world’s most fuel-efficient natural gas car, it uses 2.9 kg of compressed natural gas (CNG) per 100 kilometres, which in Germany equates to a charge of about three euros. Carbon dioxide production meanwhile is just 79 g/km.

    The CNG is stored in two tanks with a combined capacity of 72 litres or 11 kg. One is located ahead of the rear axle next to the 10 litre petrol tank, whereas the other occupies the spare wheel well. Apart from the unique fuel filler cap arrangement, an altered fuel gauge and a tailgate badge, that’s the only clue that the Eco Up! is any different from the regular model.

    In Germany, prices start from €12,950. It’s highly unlikely that the Eco Up! will be offered in the UK.

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  • 12/08/12--13:58: 2013 Suzuki Grand Vitara
  • Suzuki has updated its Vitara compact SUV for 2013.

    Identifying the revised model is a refreshed front end, revised alloy wheel designs, new seat fabrics for the SZ3 and SZ4 trim grades and a touchscreen navigation system for the range-topping SZ5 version. Furthermore, both the three- and five-door variants now feature a tailgate-mounted space-saver spare wheel, instead of the previous puncture repair kit.

    Suzuki Grand Vitara 5-Door (2013) Front SideSuzuki Grand Vitara 5-Door (2013) Dashboard

    Suzuki Grand Vitara 5-Door (2013) SideSuzuki Grand Vitara 5-Door (2013) Rear Side

    The 1.6 litre and 2.4 litre petrol engines continue unchanged, but the 1.9 litre DDiS diesel unit has had its emissions tweaked. As a result, the CO2 figure drops slightly from 179 to 174 g/km, which incidentally reduces the annual vehicle duty charge by £20. Average fuel economy improves slightly too, rising from 41.5 mpg (6.8 l/100km) to 42.8 mpg (6.6 l/100km).

    UK sales of the 2013 Grand Vitara begin this month, with prices starting from £15,995.

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    Hyundai has revealed an updated version of its Equus flagship saloon.

    Although the exterior alterations are subtle, they are intended to give the car a more sophisticated look. So there’s less chrome, LED rear light clusters are now fitted and the wheels have been changed.

    Hyundai Equus (2013) Front Side

    On the inside, new features include blind spot detection and head-up display systems. The seats come upholstered in double-stitched leather, while a redesigned dashboard clock appears slightly incongruous sitting just below the large TFT-LCD display.

    The technical specifications essentially remain the same, although the suspension has been retuned to enhance the ride quality for rear-seat passengers.

    Like its predecessor, the facelifted Equus will be marketing in Korea, China, the Middle East and North America. The chances of it being added to Hyundai’s European range are remote.

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  • 12/10/12--15:27: Nissan Juke Nismo pricing
  • Following its debut at September’s Paris Motor Show, Nissan has confirmed that the high performance Juke Nismo will cost from £19,995 when UK sales begin next month.

    The first Nismo-badged model to be offered in Europe, power comes from a turbocharged 1.6 litre petrol engine with direct fuel injection.

    Nissan Juke Nismo (2013) Front Side

    Developing 197 bhp (147 kW / 200 PS) and 250 Nm (184 lb/ft) of torque, it allows the front-wheel drive version equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox to accelerate from rest to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 7.8 seconds, before going on to 134 mph (215 km/h). Average fuel consumption is a respectable 40.9 mpg (6.9 l/100km), while carbon dioxide emissions are 159 g/km.

    To complement the power upgrade, the Juke Nismo features stiffer, recalibrated suspension and more direct steering. Visually, it’s distinguished by a full body kit, tailgate spoiler and a unique front grille, together with suede-covered sports seats on the inside.

    Nissan Juke Nismo (2013) Interior

    Perhaps the closest competitor to the Juke Nismo is the Mini Cooper S Countryman, which also has a 1.6 litre turbo engine. The Mini’s 181 bhp (135 kW / 184 PS) is slightly down versus the Nissan’s output, but that doesn’t seem to translate into a performance deficit.

    Indeed, its 0-62 mph time is actually 0.2 seconds quicker and the top speed is identical. The Countryman is also more efficient, as it achieves a combined 46.3 mpg (6.1 l/100km) and produces 143 g/km of CO2. However, when it comes to cost the Juke regains the advantage, because prices for the Mini start from £21,415.

    Nissan Juke Nismo (2013) Rear Side

    Deliveries of the Juke Nismo start in March 2013, and customers will be able to specify an all-wheel drive system and a CVT automatic transmission.

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  • 12/11/12--14:46: Fiat 500L prices announced
  • Fiat has revealed the UK price list for its new five-door 500L, the model that has the tough task of trying to emulate the appeal of the 500 city car on a bigger scale.

    Costing from £14,990 on the road, all versions come as standard with an ESP stability programme, six airbags, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity and a 5” touchscreen audio system.

    Fiat 500L (2013) Front SideFiat 500L (2013) Rear Side

    Unusually, the lead-in Pop Star and Easy trim grades are identically priced. The former is aimed at a younger market and it additionally features alloy wheels, body-side mouldings and a body-coloured dashboard. The latter meanwhile focuses on convenience and so its extra specification includes electric rear windows, rear parking sensors and a soft-touch dashboard.

    At the top of the range sits the Lounge variant. It is equipped with a 1.5 square metre fixed glass roof, climate control, light and rain sensors, 16” alloy wheels, front fog lights, rear parking sensors and electric rear windows.

    Customers will get to choose from four engines, including the 103 bhp (77 kW / 105 PS) 0.9 litre TwinAir two-cylinder petrol unit.

    Fiat 500L - UK On The Road Prices
    Engine Pop Star Easy Lounge
    1.4 16v petrol £14,990 £14,990 £16,390
    0.9 TwinAir petrol £16,490 £16,490 £17,890
    1.3 MultiJet diesel £16,490 £16,490 £17,890
    1.3 MultiJet diesel with MTA* £17,390 £17,390 £18,790
    1.6 MultiJet diesel £17,490 £17,490 £18,890
    * Manual Transmission Automated semi-automatic gearbox

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  • 12/11/12--15:43: MG6 BTCC Edition
  • The return of the works MG racing team to the British Touring Car Championship this season saw lead driver Jason Plato end up third in the drivers’ standings, just 32 points behind eventual champion Gordon Shedden. Now, to celebrate that achievement on the track, a road-going MG6 BTCC Edition has been created.

    MG 6 BTCC Edition (2012) Front

    Available with either Arctic White or Union Blue paintwork, it sports a matt black roof, 18” alloy wheels and a black finish for the sills, rear spoiler, lower bumper sections and the door mirror caps. There are also some bodywork graphics which, unlike the flamboyant livery worn by the race cars, are very restrained.

    On the inside, the specification includes sports seats, satellite navigation, cruise control and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

    Priced at £16,995, the MG6 BTCC Edition is powered by a 1.8 litre turbocharged petrol engine that develops 157 bhp (117 kW / 160 PS).

    MG 6 BTCC Edition (2012) Front SideMG 6 BTCC Edition (2012) Rear

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  • 12/12/12--09:02: 2013 Škoda Octavia revealed
  • Škoda has unveiled the all-new, third-generation Octavia hatchback. Compared to its predecessor, it’s both longer and wider, a move that significantly increases interior space. Conveniently, the upsizing also leaves a larger gap between the Fabia supermini and the Octavia in the Škoda range to better accommodate the recently-launched Rapid.

    And the 2013 Octavia certainly bears a strong resemblance to the smaller Rapid. Indeed, the styling is so similar that at first glance it might be difficult to tell them apart, especially from the front or rear. That task should be slightly easier given a side-on view though, as the Octavia’s design incorporates a distinctive upswept window line along the rear doors.

    Skoda Octavia (2013) Front Side

    Initially, Octavia buyers are going to be faced with a selection of four petrol and four diesel engines. These will be variously available with the DSG dual-clutch automated transmission and all-wheel drive.

    The eco choice will be the GreenLine variant, as its power comes from a 108 bhp (81 kW / 110 PS) 1.6 litre turbo diesel motor that achieves a remarkable fuel economy figure of 83.0 mpg (3.4 l/100km) while emitting just 89 g/km of carbon dioxide. At the other end of the spectrum, Škoda has already announced that a performance-orientated vRS model is planned for a later date.

    Skoda Octavia (2013) DashboardSkoda Octavia (2013) Rear Side

    Exact specifications aren’t yet known, but the available equipment is impressive. The list includes items such as adaptive cruise control, a driver fatigue detection system, keyless entry and start, an automatic parking assistant and an electric panoramic glass roof.

    UK sales of the new Škoda Octavia are due to begin during March next year. Prices are still to be confirmed, but expect them to be slightly more than those currently charged.

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  • 12/12/12--15:43: Nissan Navara Visia
  • Nissan is introducing the Visia, a more affordable entry-level version of its Navara double-cab pick-up.

    Aimed at business users and the fleet market, prices start at £17,995 (excluding VAT), a saving of over £1,400 compared to the existing Acenta trim grade.

    Nissan Navara Visia (2013) Front Side

    The Visia misses out on some cosmetic specification, but arguably the lack of chrome trim gives it a classier look. And it’s not as if the equipment list is totally bereft, because Bluetooth connectivity, six airbags, 17” alloy wheels, air conditioning and an electronic stability system all come as standard.

    Power is provided by the familiar 2.5 litre, four-cylinder diesel engine, although potential operators will need to be aware that it has been de-tuned for the Visia: output is down from the usual 187 bhp (140 kW / 190 PS) to 142 bhp (105 kW / 144 PS), while torque drops by 100 Nm (73 lb/ft) to 350 Nm (258 lb/ft). Nevertheless, part-time all-wheel drive and low and high gear ratio modes still feature.

    Nissan Navara Visia (2013) Side

    Deliveries of the Navara Visia are due to commence next month.

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  • 12/13/12--15:17: Radical RXC previewed
  • Radical Sportscars has revealed an all-new model that it describes as ‘the world’s most extreme road-legal coupé’.

    Named RXC, the latest addition to the firm’s range is based around a tubular steel spaceframe that incorporates a roll cage and FIA-standard crash structures front and rear. The bodywork is made up of composite and optional carbon fibre elements, with exceptional levels of down force being provided by front and rear diffusers plus a GT3-specification adjustable rear wing.

    Radical RXC (2013 Rendering) Front Side

    All told, the RXC weighs just 900 kg (1,984 lbs). In combination with a Euro 5-compliant 3.7 litre Ford V6 engine that develops 380 bhp (283 kW / 385 PS) and 433 Nm (320 lb/ft) of torque, the result is breathtaking performance. Zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) takes a staggering 2.8 seconds, while the top speed is 175 mph (281 km/h).

    What’s more, for some markets and race championships Radical will also be offering its 3.0 litre RP-series V8 motor, which boasts an additional 100 bhp (74 kW / 101 PS). Regardless of engine choice, drive to the rear wheels is via an RPE / Quaife seven-speed sequential transmission that features paddle shifters and an ‘autoblip’ function to negate the need to heel-and-toe on downshifts.

    Radical RXC (2013 Rendering) Chassis Front

    The chassis components include an Intrax Racing Suspension set-up that’s based around inboard push rods and double wishbones. Braking is provided by fully-floating discs all-round and six-piston calipers, with the option to upgrade to carbon ceramic discs.

    As would be expected, the interior has been designed primarily for circuit use. The specification includes Corbeau seats with six-point harnesses, an AiM MXL2 LCD multifunction dashboard with optional datalogging and adjustment for the pedal box and steering wheel. Although luxuries are limited, a heated windscreen, air conditioning and electrically adjustable and heated wing mirrors all come as standard.

    Radical RXC (2013 Rendering) Rear Side

    Commenting on the RXC, Radical Managing Director Phil Abbott said: “It’s the car we’ve always wanted to make, and by applying our extensive knowledge and understanding we have produced a GT car that - just like our other products - will outperform machinery costing many times more. But more important than that it’s going to be incredibly thrilling to drive.”

    The Radical RXC is due to be unveiled at the Autosport International show in Birmingham on the 10th of January 2013.

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  • 12/14/12--17:51: 2013 BMW M6 Gran Coupé
  • The new BMW M6 Gran Coupé mixes the four-door practicality of the M5 Saloon with the low-slung looks of the M6 Coupé, so it’s perfect for anybody who can’t decide between the two.

    As expected, mechanically things are identical to the existing M6 models. That means power comes from a 4.4 litre turbocharged V8 engine which sends its 552 bhp (412 kW / 560 PS) to the rear wheels via a seven-speed double clutch transmission. A 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of 4.2 seconds and the electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h) are the same, too.

    BMW M6 Gran Coupé (2013) Front Side

    The M6 is distinguished from regular Gran Coupé versions by its carbon fibre-reinforced roof panel, redesigned front apron with larger air intakes, unique kidney grilles, 20” double-spoke alloy wheels and rear diffuser. On the inside, heated sports seats come upholstered in leather and the standard equipment list includes a rear-view camera, night vision and a head-up display.

    Sales of the M6 Gran Coupé are due to start next May. In the UK, it will cost £97,490, which is £3,670 more than the two-door M6 Coupé. But perhaps what’s more telling is that that price tag makes the £73,065 M5 Saloon - which shares exactly the same drivetrain - seem an absolute bargain by comparison.

    BMW M6 Gran Coupé (2013) DashboardBMW M6 Gran Coupé (2013) Side

    BMW M6 Gran Coupé (2013) Rear SideBMW M6 Gran Coupé (2013) Rear Seats

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  • 12/15/12--13:37: New Husqvarna Racing Kits
  • Husqvarna has launched a range of Racing Kits for its motocross and enduro bikes. Designed to replicate the look of the firm’s factory racers, they incorporate both cosmetic and performance-enhancing features.

    The exact content of each kit varies by model, but Husqvarna reckons that buyers will enjoy a 20% cost saving compared to buying the components separately:

    Motocross models Racing Kit includes
    CR125
    Husqvarna CR125 With Racing Kit (2013) Front Side ‘Husqvarna by ProCircuit’ exhaust system, footrests machined from billet Ergal (a zinc-based aluminium alloy), MX replica decals, carbon fibre brake disc protection and carbon fibre chain guide.
    TC250R (2012-13 model year)
    Husqvarna TC250R With Racing Kit (2013) Front Side MX2 World Championship Kit (comprising a ‘Husqvarna by GET’ electronic control unit and power control level selectors), aluminium skid plate, white plastics, tank filler cap machined from billet Ergal, MX replica decals, carbon fibre brake disc protection, carbon fibre chain guide and carbon fibre sprocket protection.
    TC449
    Husqvarna TC449 With Racing Kit (2013) Front Side White plastics, rear damper preload adjuster, footrests machined from billet Ergal, hook in front forks, MX replica decals, carbon fibre skid plate, carbon brake disc protection and carbon fibre chain guide.
    Enduro models Racing Kit includes
    WR125
    Husqvarna WR125 With Racing Kit (2013) Front Side ‘Husqvarna by ProCircuit’ exhaust system, footrests and tank filler cap machined from billet Ergal and Enduro replica decals.
    WR250 / WR300
    Husqvarna WR250 With Racing Kit (2013) Front Side ‘Husqvarna by ProCircuit’ exhaust system, aluminium skid plate, footrests machined from billet Ergal and Enduro replica decals.
    TE250R / TE310R (2013 model year)
    Husqvarna TE250R With Racing Kit (2013) Front Side ‘Husqvarna by LeoVince’ titanium and carbon silencer, double mapping switch for the electronic control unit, white plastics, aluminium skid plate, footrests and tank filler cap machined from billet Ergal and Enduro replica decals.
    TE449 / TE511
    Husqvarna TE449 With Racing Kit (2013) Front Side White plastics, footrests and adjustable tripleclamps and tank filler cap machined from billet Ergal, aluminium skid plate and Enduro replica decals.

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  • 12/15/12--15:35: 2013 NACTOY finalists
  • A jury consisting of 49 journalists from Canada and the United States has chosen the finalists for the 2013 North American Car of the Year and North American Truck / Utility of the Year awards.

    The three selected models in the car category are the Cadillac ATS, Ford Fusion and Honda Accord. Also included on the shortlist were the BMW 3 Series, Chevrolet Malibu, Dodge Dart, Lincoln MKZ, Nissan Altima, Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ and Toyota Avalon.

    Cadillac ATS (2013) Front Side
    Cadillac ATS: 2013 North American Car of the Year finalist.

    For the first time, the Truck of the Year prize has been renamed Truck / Utility of the Year, a move that indicates the increasing number of crossover models now sold in North America.

    Given the title change, it’s perhaps appropriate that the Ford C-Max and Mazda CX-5 join the Ram 1500 as 2013’s contenders. The other nominees were the Acura RDX, Audi allroad, BMW X1, Ford Escape, Hyundai Santa Fe, Infiniti JX 35 and Nissan Pathfinder.

    Ram 1500 (2013) Front Side 1
    Ram 1500: North American Truck / Utility of the Year finalist.

    The jurors will now vote on the finalists to determine the overall winners, with the results due to be announced on the 14th of January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

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  • 12/16/12--11:57: John Cooper Works Paceman
  • It was inevitable that Mini would launch a high-performance John Cooper Works version of its new Paceman crossover coupé… and here it is.

    Like the closely-related JCW Countryman, power comes from a 1.6 litre direct injection petrol engine with a twin-scroll turbocharger that develops 214 bhp (160 kW / 218 PS). Peak torque meanwhile is 280 Nm (207 lb/ft), which can be increased to 300 Nm (221 lb/ft) for short bursts thanks to an overboost function.

    Mini John Cooper Works Paceman (2013) Side

    The three-door body shell seems to have had an effect though because, with a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) acceleration time of 6.9 seconds and combined fuel economy of 38.2 mpg (7.4 l/100km), the Paceman manages to be a tad quicker and slightly more efficient than the Countryman.

    All-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox are fitted as standard, however a six-speed automatic transmission is available as an option. Also part of the specification are 18” twin-spoke alloy wheels, a body kit, sports seats and a lowered suspension set-up.

    The Mini John Cooper Works Paceman is due to make its public debut at January’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Sales will then begin in March, but pricing has yet to be confirmed.

    Mini John Cooper Works Paceman (2013) Front SideMini John Cooper Works Paceman (2013) Interior

    Mini John Cooper Works Paceman (2013) Rear SeatsMini John Cooper Works Paceman (2013) Rear

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  • 12/16/12--15:55: Freelander Black and White
  • Land Rover has launched the Freelander Black and White limited edition. No, it’s not a tribute the whisky brand; instead, the name rather unimaginatively denotes that the only paintwork options are Santorini Black metallic or solid Fuji White.

    Based on the existing entry level ‘S’ trim grade, the extra specification includes 17” alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, privacy glass and gloss black external trim pieces. On the inside, the seats come upholstered in black cloth, there’s a rear loadspace cover and Bluetooth connectivity is fitted.

    Land Rover Freelander 2 Black and White (2013) Front Side

    Power comes from a 147 bhp (110 kW / 150 PS) 2.2 litre turbo diesel engine that’s available in a choice of two flavours.

    In eD4 guise, the Freelander is front-wheel drive only which, together with fuel-saving devices such as a stop / start system, helps it to achieve a very creditable 47.1 mpg (6.0 l/100km) on the combined cycle while emitting 158 g/km of carbon dioxide. However, anybody wanting decent off-road ability should go for the TD4 alternative, as it features all-wheel drive.

    The Freelander Black and White is on sale now, with prices that are actually less than the equivalent ‘S’ models:
    • Freelander Black and White eD4 - £22,495
    • Freelander Black and White TD4 - £23,495 (with a six-speed manual gearbox)
    • Freelander Black and White TD4 - £24,995 (with a six-speed automatic transmission)
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  • 12/17/12--14:29: 2014 GMC Sierra 1500
  • GMC has unveiled its 2014 Sierra full-size pick-up, which features updated engines, refreshed styling and an enhanced specification.

    Essentially the same vehicle as the all-new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado, the Sierra shares its prominent squared-off wheel arches and choice of regular-, extended- or crew-cab configurations. The bodywork is reckoned to be more aerodynamic than before and, although the imposing front grille remains, there’s now less chrome and it sits between standard-fit projector headlights.

    GMC Sierra All Terrain Extended Cab (2014) Front Side

    Soft-touch surfaces, rubber-covered dashboard knobs and what GMC is terming ‘premium materials’ adorn the interior, but perhaps the biggest change for drivers will be the switch to electric power-assisted steering.

    Available equipment includes a Driver Information Center, heated seats and an upgraded IntelliLink interface that controls communication, navigation and audio functions via a colour touchscreen or voice commands. Also on the options list will be Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Alert systems, as well as a vibrating Driver Alert Seat.

    The Sierra’s powertrain line-up is identical to that of the Silverado and consists of 4.3 litre V6, 5.3 litre V8 and 6.2 litre V8 engines that come connected to a six-speed automatic transmission. Both rear- or all-wheel drive set-ups will be offered.

    All of the motors are EcoTec3 petrol units (no diesels here) with aluminium blocks and cylinder heads, variable valve timing, direct injection and an Active Fuel Management system that switches to four-cylinder mode for better economy. Although GMC is claiming increases in efficiency, power and torque, figures have yet to be released that would quantify the extent of the improvements.

    GMC Sierra SLT Crew Cab (2014) InteriorGMC Sierra SLT Crew Cab (2014) Rear Side

    GMC Sierra SLT Crew Cab (2014) Front SideGMC Sierra SLT Crew Cab (2014) Instruments

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    Images © General Motors.

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  • 12/19/12--14:37: 2013 Euro COTY nominees
  • Perhaps we were spoilt by 2012’s decent group of contenders, but it doesn’t look like 2013 is going to be a vintage year for the European Car of the Year award.

    The list of eligible vehicles is restricted by the contest rules, which state that entrants have to be new, be available in at least five European markets and be expected to hit a minimum of 5,000 sales annually.

    So, on that basis, thirty-eight candidates were initially selected, among them some very worthy models:

    • Audi A3
    • BMW 3 Series
    • Chevrolet Malibu
    • Citroën C4 Aircross / Peugeot 4008
    • Dacia Lodgy
    • Dacia Sandero
    • Fiat 500L
    • Fiat Viaggio
    • Ford B-Max
    • Honda CR-V
    • Hyundai i30
    • Hyundai SantaFe
    • Kia Cee’d
    • Kia Optima
    • Lancia Flavia
    • Land Rover Range Rover
    • Lexus GS
    • Mazda 6
    • Mercedes-Benz A-Class
    • Mercedes-Benz SL-Class
    • Mitsubishi Outlander
    • Peugeot 208
    • Porsche Boxster
    • Renault Clio
    • Renault Zoë
    • Škoda Rapid / Seat Toledo
    • Smart Electric Drive
    • Subaru Impreza
    • Subaru BRZ / Toyota GT86
    • Tata Vista
    • Toyota Auris
    • Toyota Prius Plug-in
    • Toyota Prius Plus
    • Volkswagen Golf
    • Volvo V40
    • Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid
    • Vauxhall / Opel Adam
    • Vauxhall / Opel Mokka
    The first round of jury voting has just taken place and the outcome, which determines the eight nominees that’ll go forward to a second and final ballot, is disappointing.

    Anything remarkable or interesting seems to have been ignored, thereby producing a dull assortment that wouldn’t be out of place sitting in an airport car rental yard:
    • Ford B-Max
    • Hyundai i30
    • Mercedes-Benz A-Class
    • Peugeot 208
    • Renault Clio
    • Subaru BRZ / Toyota GT86
    • Volkswagen Golf
    • Volvo V40
    There is of course one glaring exception to the mediocrity - the Subaru BRZ / Toyota GT86 joint entry. Its blend of affordability, low weight, rear-wheel drive and fun surely makes the compact coupé the only deserving winner.

    Subaru BRZ (2012) Front Side
    The Subaru BRZ...
    Toyota GT86 (2012) Rear Side
    ...and the Toyota GT86.

    Whether the jury thinks the same way remains to be seen, of course. The final result will be announced at the Geneva Motor Show on the 4th of March 2013.

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  • 12/19/12--15:51: Cadillac teases ELR
  • Cadillac has confirmed that the ELR coupé is to debut at next month’s North American International Auto Show, exactly four years after the first appearance of the Converj concept that inspired it.

    For now, just one teaser image of the production ELR has been released, and technical details remain scant.

    Cadillac ELR (2014) Side

    However, it is known that the ELR borrows much of its range-extender technology from the Chevrolet Volt / Vauxhall Ampera. That includes the drivetrain, which comprises a four-cylinder engine-generator, an electric drive unit and a T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack.

    Related post:
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    Image © General Motors.

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  • 12/20/12--15:27: Carbon TX7 MMV unveiled
  • Carbon Motors - the company behind the E7, the world’s only purpose-built law enforcement patrol car - is expanding its range with the TX7 Multi Mission Vehicle.

    As the name implies, it has been designed to fulfil a number of roles such as personnel transport, command and control, surveillance and disaster relief. Up to ten people can be accommodated, while cargo can either be carried internally or towed.

    Carbon TX7 Multi Mission Vehicle (2013) Front Side

    Among the many items of optional equipment that will allow users to tailor the TX7 to their specific needs are a prisoner containment cell, run-flat tyres, ballistic protection and roof-mounted solar panels. Also available is an impressive array of threat detection technologies including infra-red cameras, a proximity warning system and even weapons of mass destruction sensors.

    For go-anywhere ability an all-wheel drive system is fitted as standard. Power comes from a V8 turbo diesel engine that’s connected to a six-speed automatic transmission, although a compressed natural gas alternative is also going to be offered.

    Carbon TX7 Multi Mission Vehicle (2013) TopCarbon TX7 Multi Mission Vehicle (2013) Rear Side

    Production of the TX7 MMV is due to begin late next year. The per unit starting price is currently $149,950, and Carbon Motors is already accepting orders from authorised agencies.

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  • 12/21/12--15:40: Lotus Evora Sports Racer
  • Lotus has launched the Evora Sports Racer, which has been designed to combine a plethora of equipment with an attractive price tag.

    It certainly seems that just about all of the options on the list have been ticked. Fitted as standard are powered folding door mirrors, a reversing camera and 2+2 seating that’s covered in black leather with red piping and stitching.

    Lotus Evora Sports Racer (2012) Side

    Also part of the specification is the Tech Pack, which adds Bluetooth connectivity, an upgraded touchscreen-controlled audio system and DVD player, rear parking sensors, cruise control and tyre pressure monitoring. Furthermore the Sports Pack is included too, and it consists of cross-drilled brake discs, a sports rear diffuser and a sports driving mode that sharpens both the Dynamic Performance Management system and the throttle response.

    Available in a choice of four colours, the Sports Racer features a contrasting gloss black finish for the wheels, roof panel, side sills, front splitter and rear diffuser.

    In the UK, the 276 bhp (206 kW / 280 PS) normally-aspirated Evora Sports Racer costs £57,900 (excluding on the road charges), while in 345 bhp (257 kW / 350 PS) supercharged guise the price tag is £65,900. Compared to ordering everything separately, Lotus reckons that those amounts represent customer savings of £6,450 and £7,150 respectively.

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  • 12/28/12--15:42: Volkswagen Scirocco GTS
  • Some cars really suit a pair of full length over-body stripes: the Dodge Viper GTS, Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger, for example. The jury’s still out on whether the Volkswagen Scirocco belongs in that category, though.

    So stylistically the new Scirocco GTS is probably going to divide opinion, as its look is defined by the aforementioned stripes. Indeed, the only four colour schemes on offer are black paintwork with white stripes and red door mirror caps, grey with black stripes and red mirror caps, red with black stripes and white mirrors or white with black stripes and red mirrors.

    Volkswagen Scirocco GTS (2012) Front Side

    Volkswagen Scirocco GTS (2012) Rear Side

    Based on the existing R-Line variant, the specification of the GTS also includes red stitching for the black leather seats, a panoramic sunroof, a unique steering wheel, door sill plates with ‘GTS’ etched on them, piano black trim pieces and some special floor mats. However, it seems a bit odd that the R-Line’s regular 19” alloy wheels have been downgraded to 18” items.

    Available with either a TDI diesel or a TSI petrol engine and a choice of six-speed manual or DSG automatic dual-clutch transmissions, the GTS models carry a price premium of up to £1,460 over their respective R-Line equivalents:
    • GTS 2.0 litre TSI manual - £27,945
    • GTS 2.0 litre TSI DSG - £29,345
    • GTS 2.0 litre TDI manual - £27,980
    • GTS 2.0 litre TDI DSG - £29,395
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