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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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    An Adam city car kitted out for fire brigade duties was definitely Opel’s most unusual exhibit at the recent RETTmobil emergency vehicle show.

    Designed as a rapid first response car, the concept features several blue lights and a high-visibility paintjob. On the inside, a specially adapted luggage compartment holds various pieces of rescue equipment including a fire extinguisher and defibrillator.

    Opel Adam First Response Fire Appliance Concept (2013) Front Side

    Among the other models on display was a Zafira Tourer emergency doctor’s car. Already offered by Opel Special Vehicles, it comes with an upgraded electrical system, two-way radio preparation and numerous warning lights.

    Opel Zafira Tourer Notarzteinsatzfahrzeug (2013) Rear Side

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    Images © General Motors.

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    Renault has unveiled the limited edition Mégane Renaultsport Red Bull Racing RB8. Essentially a Renaultsport 265 Cup with some cosmetic tweaks, it has obviously been designed to make the most of the brand’s Formula One associations.

    So unsurprisingly the car features plenty of Red Bull Racing logos. They appear on the special Twilight Blue paintwork, carpet mats, front seat headrests and aluminium doorsill plates. Even the centre console touchscreen’s homepage gets one.

    Renault Mégane Renaultsport Red Bull Racing RB8 (2013) Front Side

    Completing the package are a set of unique two-tone ‘Steev’ 19” alloy wheels, part-leather upholstery and laurel motifs on the rear side windows that commemorate Red Bull Racing’s 2012 Constructors’ title win. 

    Exclusivity will be guaranteed as just thirty examples of the Mégane Renaultsport Red Bull Racing RB8 are coming to the UK. Pricing has yet to be confirmed.

    Renault Mégane Renaultsport Red Bull Racing RB8 (2013) InteriorRenault Mégane Renaultsport Red Bull Racing RB8 (2013) Rear Side

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    Toyota has reclaimed its position as top car brand from BMW, but only just. That’s according to the latest BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands survey compiled by MillwardBrown, which is now in its eighth year.

    Toyota GT86 TRD (2013) Front
    Toyota is named most valuable car brand of 2013.

    There was very little change in the rest of the car top ten, though. Indeed, the constituents and the order in which they appear are identical to 2012’s results, with most managing to record an increase in their brand valuations.

    The overall Top 100 listing continues to be dominated by the technology sector, with Apple, Google and IBM occupying the first three positions.

    BrandZ™ Top 10 Most Valuable Global Car Brands 2013
    Ranking: Cars Brand Brand Value (US$ M) Change Ranking: Overall Top 100
    1 Toyota 24,497 12% 23
    2 BMW 24,015 -2% 24
    3 Mercedes-Benz 17,952 11% 43
    4 Honda 12,401 -2% 71
    5 Nissan 10,186 3% 86
    6 Volkswagen 8,790 3% 100
    7 Ford 7,556 8% N/A
    8 Audi 5,545 18% N/A
    9 Hyundai 4,000 11% N/A
    10 Lexus 3,472 2% N/A

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    Lotus has confirmed specifications and pricing for its new open-top Exige S Roadster.

    Like the existing coupé version, power comes from a mid-mounted supercharged 3.5 litre V6 engine that sends its 345 bhp (258 kW / 350 PS) to the rear wheels via a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission.

    Lotus Exige S Roadster (2013) Front Side

    An unladen weight of 1,166 kg (2,570 lbs) actually makes the Roadster slightly lighter than the hardtop Exige S, but the 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of 4.0 seconds is identical. Likewise, combined fuel consumption remains at 28.0 mpg (10.1 l/100km) and carbon dioxide emissions are unchanged at 236 g/km.

    However, the Roadster’s top speed has been electronically reduced from 170 mph (274 km/h) to 145 mph (233 km/h), presumably to ensure the occupants aren’t buffeted too much on roofless high speed runs.

    Indeed Lotus seems to be pitching the Roadster as a slightly less extreme choice. It does without the coupé’s rear wing, diffuser and front splitter, plus buyers can enjoy a touch of luxury by ordering optional quilted leather seats.

    Lotus Exige S Roadster (2013) FrontLotus Exige S Roadster (2013) Side

    In the UK the Exige S Roadster costs a substantial £52,900 (including VAT but excluding on the road charges), which is exactly the same as the coupé. It’s a similar story for the Eurozone, where both models cost €55,378 (excluding local taxes).

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    Ford has announced that its manufacturing operations in Australia are to end in October 2016. This shock development will see the closure of the Broadmeadows and Geelong plants, with the loss of approximately 1,200 jobs.

    The company says it investigated alternative actions such as increasing exports, improving productivity and even seeking state subsidies. However, losses of around AUD 600 million over the last five years, continued high operating costs and a very competitive market have meant that vehicle production in Australia is no longer deemed viable.

    FPV GT RSPEC Limited Edition Series (2012) Front Side 4
    The Australian-built Ford Performance Vehicles
    GT RSPEC Limited Edition Series

    Bob Graziano, President and CEO of Ford Australia, said: “All of us at Ford remain committed to our long history of serving Australian customers with the very best vehicles that deliver cutting edge technology at an affordable cost.

    “Unfortunately, due to challenging market conditions we are unable to do that longer-term while continuing to manufacture locally.

    “We know this announcement is very difficult, especially for our employees. Providing support to those in our team whose roles will be affected is a key priority for us during this three-year transition period.

    “Ford will remain a significant employer in Australia, with more than 1,500 team members, as will our network of more than 200 dealers around the country. The Australian team’s role as a global centre of excellence for vehicle development also will continue to be an important focus for us.

    “We will be introducing a number of exciting new vehicles and technologies during the next few years that will excite our Australian customers. The breadth of our line-up will increase by more than 30 per cent, ensuring we continue to offer our customers an outstanding range of cars, SUVs and light trucks long into the future.

    “Ford vehicles have been part of the automotive landscape in Australia for almost 110 years and we have manufactured here since 1925. We are proud of that history. We are proud of our role in Australia and we haven’t made this decision lightly.”

    The model lines most likely to be affected by these events are the Falcon, Falcon Ute and Territory SUV, all of which are uniquely built in Australia. Ford has confirmed that updated versions of each will still be launched in 2014, but beyond that their futures are uncertain.

    A possibility is that a replacement Falcon could be based on the next-generation Mustang’s rear-wheel drive platform. But in keeping with the ‘One Ford’ strategy, a quicker and cheaper solution might be to simply stick some Falcon badges on the Taurus, a full-size saloon that’s currently offered in North America.

    Similarly, the existing Explorer would be an obvious substitute for the Territory. The popularity of such imported vehicles with Australian buyers remains to be seen, though.

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    Alfa Romeo has launched the Giulietta Collezione, a limited edition that features several unique cosmetic upgrades.

    Easily identifiable by its two-tone colour schemes, buyers get a choice of Alfa red bodywork with a black roof, black with a matte grey roof or white with a black roof. Complementing those paintjobs is a titanium finish for the 17” ‘Turbine’ alloy wheels and door mirror caps.

    Alfa Romeo Giulietta Collezione (2013) Range

    On the inside, the Collezione’s specification includes exclusive red and black upholstery, a darkened headlining, the Blue&Me Bluetooth and USB connectivity system, titanium-effect trim pieces and a special leather-covered steering wheel.

    Available with a selection of two petrol and two diesel engines, UK prices for the Giulietta Collezione range from £18,265 to £20,500.

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    Nissan has announced UK pricing for its updated 370Z range. The good news for prospective buyers is that the entry-level coupé now costs £26,995, a reduction of £3,005.

    On the other hand, anybody who has recently bought a pre-facelift model is likely to be unimpressed by the instant depreciation hit on their car.

    Nissan 370Z GT Coupé (2013) Front Side

    Perhaps that price cut is in response to the arrival of the Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ twins, which both have £24,995 price tags. Like the Nissan, they are rear-wheel drive coupés, yet their four-cylinder boxer engine can’t match the 370Z’s V6 motor for power or performance. However, a GT86 / BRZ should be cheaper to run thanks to superior fuel economy and a significantly lower vehicle excise duty rate.

    And then there’s the six-cylinder BMW 125i M Sport Coupé. Now marginally more expensive than the Nissan, it almost combines the efficiency of the GT86 / BRZ with the 370Z’s pace:

    Model Nissan 370Z Coupé Toyota GT86 / Subaru BRZ BMW 125i M Sport Coupé
    UK OTR Price £26,995 £24,995 £27,710
    Engine 3.7 litre V6 2.0 litre B4 3.0 litre I6
    Power 323 bhp (241 kW / 328 PS) 197 bhp (147 kW / 200 PS) 215 bhp (160 kW / 218 PS)
    0-62 mph (100 km/h) 5.3 secs 7.6 secs 6.4 secs
    Top speed 155 mph (250 km/h) 140 mph (226 km/h) 152 mph (245 km/h)
    Combined cycle 26.7 mpg (10.6 l/100km) 36.2 mpg (7.8 l/100km) 34.9 mpg (8.1 l/100km)
    CO2 emissions 248 g/km 181 g/km 189 g/km
    VED band L (£475) I (£220) J (£260)

    Apart from the revised prices, changes to the 370Z for 2013 are limited to a redesigned front bumper that gains some daytime running lights.

    As well as the basic 370Z and a new higher-output Nismo variant, the other available trim grade is the GT. Offered in either coupé or roadster guise, it additionally comes with larger 19” alloy wheels, red brake calipers, satellite navigation and a superior audio system.

    2013 Nissan 370Z - UK On The Road Prices
    Model Transmission Price
    370Z Coupé Six-speed manual £26,995
    370Z GT Coupé Six-speed manual £31,995
    370Z GT Coupé Seven-speed automatic £33,445
    370Z Nismo Coupé Six-speed manual £36,995
    370Z GT Roadster Six-speed manual £36,495
    370Z GT Roadster Seven-speed automatic £37,945

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  • 05/26/13--07:01: BMW Concept Ninety unveiled
  • The BMW Concept Ninety is an unashamed homage to the 1973 R 90 S. Revealed at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este as part of BMW Motorrad’s 90th anniversary celebrations, it has been created in collaboration with Californian custom motorcycle firm Roland Sands Design.

    Forty years ago, the R 90 S was notable for its aerodynamic styling, performance and vivid Daytona Orange paintjob. The Concept Ninety retains all of those traits, with eye-catching results.

    BMW Concept Ninety (2013) Front Side

    Visually, the hand-crafted aluminium bodywork appears to float above the black-finished chassis and air-cooled, boxer-twin engine. The distinctive fairing mixes retro styling with a very modern LED headlight, while the stubby tail unit incorporates a single seat.

    Among the bespoke parts provided by Roland Sands Design are the wheels, rear Paralever swingarm, exhaust system and engine valve covers.

    The Concept Ninety isn’t the all-new production bike BMW will be building to commemorate its birthday. But maybe something similar should become a limited-run showroom model, as a contemporary reworking of the R 90 S would most likely attract a long queue of buyers.

    BMW Concept Ninety (2013) DashBMW Concept Ninety (2013) Seat Detail

    BMW Concept Ninety (2013) SideBMW Concept Ninety (2013) Rear Detail

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  • 05/26/13--15:45: 2013 J. D. Power survey
  • Jaguar has retained its position as the country’s top-rated manufacturer. That’s according to the 2013 What Car? UK Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study, which has been compiled by J. D. Power.

    Over 16,000 drivers of cars aged 12 to 36 months old participated, a sample size that was about 10% down on last year.

    Jaguar XF (2009) Front Side
    Jaguar: still the UK's highest-rated car manufacturer.

    Of course, as with most surveys, the results do need to be viewed with a degree of perspective.

    For starters, while the split between male and female participants was fairly even, the average age of people polled was 50. Perhaps not truly representative of the motoring public, then.

    It’s also worth considering that only models with sales of 4,000 units or more which each generated at least fifty completed questionnaires were counted in the findings. Consequently the survey covers 116 models (with an average of 138 appraisals each), although a lack of eligible vehicles may have skewed some brands’ scores.

    A good example is Chevrolet. It remains at the bottom of the manufacturer league table, yet that assessment is based purely on the Spark, the marque’s only product that qualified for inclusion in the review. Whether it’s representative of the entire range is an important but unanswered question.

    The rankings also need to be judged based on their relativity. The aforementioned Spark, for instance, managed a grade of 70.2%, making it the worst individual model overall. However, among its city car peers the highest mark was the Volkswagen Fox’s 78.1%, so there’s hardly a huge difference.

    2013 J. D. Power / What Car? UK Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study
    Top Five Manufacturers
    Position Manufacturer Score 2013 vs. 2012
    1 Jaguar 82.7% -
    2 Lexus 81.8% -
    3 Honda 81.0% +1
    4 Škoda 80.9% -1
    5 Mercedes-Benz 80.4% -
    Bottom Five Manufacturers
    Position Manufacturer Score 2013 vs. 2012
    23 Fiat 75.4% +2
    24 Peugeot 75.0% -7
    25 Mitsubishi 74.5% -3
    26 Alfa Romeo 72.5% -7
    27 Chevrolet 69.1% -

    2013 J. D. Power / What Car? UK Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study
    Top Five Models
    Position Model Score 2013 vs. 2012
    1 Škoda Superb 83.0% +3
    2 Škoda Yeti 82.8% New entry
    3 Jaguar XF 82.7% -1
    4= Citroën DS3 82.2% New entry
    4= Lexus RX 82.2% +20
    Bottom Five Models
    Position Model Score 2013 vs. 2012
    112 Fiat Panda 73.7% -19
    113 Ford Ka 72.2% +1
    114 Fiat Grande Punto / Punto Evo 72.0% -2
    115 Alfa Romeo Mito 70.7% -70
    116 Chevrolet Spark 70.2% New entry

    What Car? JD Power 2013 - Infographic

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    The Monaco Grand Prix was a fitting occasion for Renault to show off the Twin’Run, its latest concept that’s essentially a racing car.

    While the styling might preview a future city model for the brand, the Twin’Run actually features a composite and carbon fibre body that clothes a tubular steel chassis. What’s more, instead of an eco-focussed engine under the bonnet, power comes courtesy of a mid-mounted 3.5 litre V6 motor developing 315 bhp (235 kW / 320 PS) with 380 Nm (280 lb/ft) of torque.

    That output is sent to the rear wheels via a Sadev six-speed sequential gearbox and a limited-slip differential. Renault reckons the Twin’Run will accelerate from rest to 62 mph (100 km/h) in just 4.5 seconds before going onto a top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h).

    Renault Twin’Run Concept (2013) Front Side 1

    Helping to keep it on the track is a double-wishbone suspension set-up that incorporates Öhlins dampers and anti-roll bars front and rear. Ventilated disc brakes sit behind each of the 18” alloy wheels, with those at the front boasting six-piston calipers for extra stopping ability.

    Despite its impressive specifications, the Twin’Run is compact. A length of 3,680 mm (12’ 1”) makes it about the size of a Twingo, although pushing the wheels far into the corners to minimise overhang has given the concept very distinct proportions.

    According to Laurens van den Acker, Senior Vice President, Corporate Design at Renault: “Twin’Run is a cocktail of energy, passion and athleticism, rekindling the memory of emblematic Renault racing cars. Following its twin, Twin’Z, a stylish urban concept car, Twin’Run shows that personalisation is a core strategy at Renault.”

    Renault Twin’Run Concept (2013) Rear Side 2Renault Twin’Run Concept (2013) Side

    Renault Twin’Run Concept (2013) Front Side 2Renault Twin’Run Concept (2013) Rear Side 1

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    Only a very select clientele will buy the 2014 Vauxhall VXR8 GTS, but it’s the kind of car that should gratify every true petrolhead.

    Based on the new Gen-F GTS built in Australia by Holden’s HSV subsidiary, the rear-wheel drive saloon features a supercharged 6.2 litre LSA V8 engine that produces an impressive 576 bhp (430 kW / 585 PS) with 740 Nm (545 lb/ft) of torque.

    Vauxhall VXR8 GTS (2014) Side

    Performance figures have yet to be released but, as Vauxhall is keen to point out, the VXR8 GTS boasts a higher output than either the BMW M5 or Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG.

    And then there’s the price. While those German rivals cost £73,750 and £73,745 respectively, the latest VXR8 is priced at £54,999 with a six-speed manual gearbox (for those who prefer two-pedal driving, an automatic transmission is on the options list).

    Of course, some brand snobs might be put off by the Vauxhall badges and depreciation is an unknown factor, but the VXR8 GTS is still a comparative bargain. In fact, it’s hard to see how the £54,999 figure was arrived at as in Australia the HSV Gen-F GTS is A$92,990. At current exchange rates, that equates to about £59,200...

    Deliveries of the Vauxhall VXR8 GTS are due to begin at the end of the year.

    Vauxhall VXR8 GTS (2014) Front SideVauxhall VXR8 GTS (2014) Rear

    Vauxhall VXR8 GTS (2014) DashboardVauxhall VXR8 GTS (2014) Rear Side

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    Images © General Motors.

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  • 05/29/13--14:57: Aston Martin V12 Vantage S
  • With a top speed of 205 mph (330 km/h), the new V12 Vantage S is the fastest series production model ever produced by Aston Martin. A replacement for the V12 Vantage, the S is claimed to be much more extreme than its predecessor.

    Power comes from the upgraded, normally-aspirated AM28 6.0 litre engine that boasts an output of 565 bhp (421 kW / 573 PS) with 620 Nm (457 lb/ft) of torque. Those figures represent increases of 11% and 9% respectively compared to the old model.

    Aston Martin V12 Vantage S (2013) Side

    Drive is sent to the rear wheels via a new seven-speed Sportshift III Automated Manual Transmission from Oerlikon Graziano. It features electronic shift by wire technology and is, usefully, 25 kg (55 lbs) lighter than the old six-speed gearbox.

    The chassis has received a makeover, too. Adaptive damping has been introduced that allows the driver to choose between Normal, Sport or Track settings. Furthermore, a Sport driving mode sharpens the throttle and gearshift, while both the traction and stability control systems have been recalibrated to cope with the car’s extra power.

    Visually, the V12 Vantage S is identifiable by its unique carbon fibre grille and redesigned ten-spoke forged alloy wheels. On the inside, buyers can now choose from either Sport or Lightweight seats that come in a range of leather and Alcantara upholsteries.

    Aston Martin has yet to announce pricing.

    Aston Martin V12 Vantage S (2013) Front SideAston Martin V12 Vantage S (2013) Interior

    Aston Martin V12 Vantage S (2013) TopAston Martin V12 Vantage S (2013) Rear Side

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  • 05/30/13--14:05: 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali
  • GMC is adding the plusher Denali trim grade to its 2014 Sierra 1500 full-size pick-up range.

    On the outside, the Denali is differentiated from other versions by a unique grille, 20” chrome alloy wheels, body-colour bumpers, LED daytime running lights and a powered sliding rear window. 

    GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Crew Cab (2014) Front Side

    But it’s the interior where the additional luxury touches are most obvious. Among the items included in the specification are heated and cooled leather-trimmed seats, a heated steering wheel, aluminium trim pieces, front and rear parking sensors and a rear vision camera.

    There’s plenty of technology too, as the Denali comes as standard with a Bose audio system, satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and, unbelievably, five USB ports. Those devices are all controlled via a centre console-mounted 8” colour touchscreen, while another 8” screen located in the instrument binnacle provides a further customisable display for the various settings.

    Power is provided by a 355 bhp (265 kW /360 PS) 5.3 litre EcoTec3 V8, although a 6.2 litre motor offering an estimated 420 bhp (313 kW / 425 PS) with 610 Nm (450 lb/ft) of torque will also be available.

    Sales of the 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali begin this autumn. Prices have yet to be announced.

    GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Crew Cab (2014) DashboardGMC Sierra 1500 Denali Crew Cab (2014) Rear Side

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    Images © General Motors.

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    Chevrolet has revealed its 2014 Malibu mid-size saloon, which features revised styling, more room for rear-seat passengers and updated powertrain options.

    Improved efficiency is promised by a new 2.5 litre, four-cylinder direct injection Ecotec engine that produces 196 bhp (145 kW / 197 PS). Thanks to the fitment of a stop-start system, estimated city fuel economy is 23 mpg US (27.6 mpg imperial / 10.2 l/100km) while the highway figure is 35 mpg US (42.0 mpg imperial / 6.7 l/100km).

    The alternative choice remains a 2.0 litre, four-cylinder turbocharged motor. After a retune its power output is unchanged at 259 bhp (193 kW / 262 PS), but peak torque has been increased to 400 Nm (295 lb/ft) for better driveability.

    Chevrolet Malibu (2014) Front

    Other technical amendments include a recalibrated suspension set-up that’s claimed to offer a smoother ride as well as enhanced body control. The brakes have also been tweaked to give greater feel through the pedal.

    On the inside, the highlight is an extra 31.7 mm (1.25”) of knee room for those sitting in the rear. That additional space has been found by reshaping the backs of the front seats and re-sculpting the rear-seat cushions. A more practical centre console completes the interior alterations.

    The 2014 Malibu is identifiable by its redesigned two-piece front grille that has been influenced by the latest Chevrolet Impala. Sales are due to begin in North America and Europe this autumn, although it’s doubtful a right-hand drive version for the UK will be offered.

    Chevrolet Malibu (2014) DashboardChevrolet Malibu (2014) Front Side

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  • 06/02/13--14:07: Return of Tomos to the UK
  • Tomos has been building mopeds and scooters in Slovenia since 1954. It’s a name that might already be known to some people in the UK, especially those who remember the brand’s attempts to sell via Woolworth’s stores here in the 1980s.

    Now the marque is set to return to this country, so a celebratory launch edition model called the ‘Terry’ Tomos has been created. Fans of the late comic actor Terry-Thomas should presumably feel flattered…

    Tomos Classic XL 'Terry' UK Launch Edition (2013) Side 1

    Based on the very retro Classic XL, things are definitely rudimentary. For example, power comes from an air-cooled, carburettor-fed, single-cylinder 49 cc engine that’s cranked into life either by pedalling or using a kick-starter.

    Its modest output is sent to the rear wheel via a two-speed automatic transmission and a chain drive set-up. Maximum quoted speed is only 28 mph (45 km/h), but an impressive fuel consumption figure of 112.9 mpg (2.5 l/100km) compensates for the lack of performance.

    The braking system is fairly basic too, with just a drum for each wheel. Nevertheless, a weight of just 55 kg (121 lbs) probably means anything more would be overkill.

    Buyers of the special launch bike get a choice of Shadow Black, Baby Blue or Green Mint paintjobs, but just 25 examples of each colour scheme will be available.

    The Tomos Classic XL ‘Terry’ is priced at £1,565 (including on the road charges). Deliveries are expected to begin in either August or September.

    Tomos Classic XL 'Terry' UK Launch Edition (2013) Front SideTomos Classic XL 'Terry' UK Launch Edition (2013) Side 2

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    The current-generation Micra, launched in 2010, has always suffered from anonymous looks. But now Nissan is trying to rectify that situation by giving the Indian-built supermini a much needed facelift.

    As expected, the focus has been on the exterior. A totally redesigned front end lends the Micra some extra presence, while at the rear there’s a new bumper plus LED light clusters.

    Nissan Micra (2014) Front Side

    Apart from revised seat fabrics, the major change on the inside is an updated centre console that can now accommodate a larger 5.8” colour touchscreen for the Connect navigation and communication system. USB, aux-in and 12v sockets have also been incorporated.

    Buyers still have a choice of two 1.2 litre, three-cylinder petrol engines and power outputs remain at 79 bhp (59 kW / 80 PS) for the normally-aspirated version or 96 bhp (72 kW / 98 PS) for the DIG-S supercharged motor. However, thanks partly to a stop-start device the latter option is now even more efficient, achieving 68.9 mpg (4.1 l/100km) on the combined cycle with carbon dioxide emissions of 95 g/km.

    In a slightly simplified range, the 2014 Nissan Micra is being offered in Visia, Acenta and Tekna trim grades.

    Nissan Micra (2014) DashboardNissan Micra (2014) Rear Side

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  • 06/04/13--15:38: MV Agusta F3 800 unveiled
  • The new F3 800 from MV Agusta is essentially an F3 675 with more power but no extra weight.

    Its three-cylinder 798 cc engine features a drive-by-wire throttle with four selectable maps, eight-stage traction control and a rev limit of 13,500 rpm. Output is 146 bhp (109 kW / 148 PS) with 88 Nm (65 lb/ft) of peak torque, yet the bike tips the scales at just 173 kg (381 lbs) dry. That combination results in a top speed of 167 mph (269 km/h).

    MV Agusta F3 800 (2013) Front Side 1

    As per the F3 675, the trellis frame is constructed from tubular steel. The suspension set-up comprises Marzocchi upside-down forks at the front, which are adjustable for compression and rebound damping as well as preload. At the rear, the wheel is attached to an extended alloy swingarm that’s controlled by a similarly adjustable Sachs monoshock.

    To complement the higher capacity engine, the F3 800’s twin front floating discs brakes have been fitted with four-piston Brembo monobloc calipers.

    The MV Agusta F3 800 will be available in matt metallic black, red and silver or white and black colour schemes. In the Eurozone, the price has been set at €13,990 (plus local taxes) while in the UK it’s expected to cost around £11,500.

    MV Agusta F3 800 (2013) Rear SideMV Agusta F3 800 (2013) Side 1

    MV Agusta F3 800 (2013) Front Side 2MV Agusta F3 800 (2013) Side 2

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    With 2013 marking fifty years since the launch of the Porsche 911, it was inevitable that a special version of the current model would be rolled out to celebrate.

    And here it is. Logically named the 911 50th Anniversary Edition, the new arrival is based on the 394 bhp (294 kW / 400 PS) rear-wheel drive Carrera S but it features the slightly wider bodywork of the all-wheel drive Carrera 4.

    Porsche 911 50th Anniversary Edition (2013) Front Side

    Aficionados will easily spot a few references to the 911’s heritage, namely the green-lit instrument numerals, tartan fabric seat inserts and 20” alloy wheels that are a modern interpretation of the classic ‘Fuchs’ style.

    Other distinguishing elements include sport design door mirrors and chrome fins for the panel between the rear lights, engine cover and front air intakes. Available with graphite grey, geyser grey metallic or black paintwork, the look is completed by various ‘911 50’ logos that are dotted about the car.

    The 911 50th Anniversary Edition is due to be unveiled at September’s IAA motor show in Frankfurt. Customer deliveries will begin shortly afterwards, with production limited to (appropriately) 1,963 units.

    UK prices start from £92,257, which makes it around £8,800 more expensive than a regular 911 Carrera S. In Germany the cost is €121,119 (including VAT).

    For the United States the specification is more generous, as both the Powerkit - which lifts output to 424 bhp (316 kW / 430 PS) - and Sport Chrono Package are fitted as standard.

    Yet it seems American customers are getting much better value for money, because prices there begin at $124,100 (plus a $950 destination charge). That figure equates to around €94,800 at today’s exchange rate.

    Porsche 911 50th Anniversary Edition (2013) InteriorPorsche 911 50th Anniversary Edition (2013) Wheels Detail

    Porsche 911 50th Anniversary Edition (2013) Rear SidePorsche 911 50th Anniversary Edition (2013) Instruments

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  • 06/05/13--12:55: 2013 Triumph Sprint GT SE
  • Triumph has unveiled a Special Edition version of its Sprint GT tourer.

    Compared to the regular model, the SE’s extra specification includes a gel seat, heated grips and a touring windscreen. Furthermore luggage capacity is up to 117 litres, thanks to the fitment of a huge top box that complements the existing panniers.

    Triumph Sprint GT Special Edition (2013) Front Side

    The Special Edition is priced at £8,999 on the road, which makes it £500 more expensive than an ordinary Sprint GT. It’s available now in a choice of cranberry red or champagne colour schemes.

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    Škoda has revealed the third-generation Octavia vRS, which is due to go on sale in July after a public debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

    Available in hatchback and estate form, buyers will have a choice of two engines, both of which can be paired with either a manual gearbox or a DSG dual-clutch transmission.

    Skoda Octavia vRS (2013) Front SideSkoda Octavia Combi vRS (2013) Rear Side

    The petrol option is the same 2.0 litre TSI unit that’s found in the new Volkswagen Golf GTI. With an output of 217 bhp (162 kW / 220 PS), it’s capable of accelerating the Octavia from standstill to 62 mph (100 km/h) in just 6.8 seconds. Top speed is 154 mph (248 km/h).

    Likewise, the diesel alternative shares its 2.0 litre TDI engine with the Golf GTD. It produces a relatively modest 181 bhp (135 kW / 184 PS), so the 0-62 mph time and top speed drop to 8.1 seconds and 144 mph (232 km/h) respectively. Fuel economy is expected to be significantly better, though.

    Skoda Octavia Combi vRS (2013) SideSkoda Octavia vRS (2013) Rear Side

    To cope with the extra pace, the Octavia’s chassis has also received attention. As well as a stiffer and lower suspension set-up, the electronic stability control system incorporates an XDS electronic differential lock to improve traction and minimise understeer.

    Distinguishing the vRS from lesser Octavia variants is a unique front bumper, a rear diffuser, 17” alloy wheels (18” and 19” substitutes are on the options list), red brake calipers and a boot-lid spoiler. The theme continues in the cabin, which features front sports seats, black fabric upholstery and a three-spoke leather-trimmed steering wheel.

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