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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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  • 01/20/13--12:13: 2014 Cadillac ELR unveiled
  • The Corvette Stingray might have grabbed most of the attention at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, but the launch of the new 2014 Cadillac ELR coupé is perhaps more significant.

    That’s because it takes GM’s Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV) technology from the compact Chevrolet / Holden Volt and Vauxhall / Opel Ampera and, for the first time, puts it into a luxury car.

    Cadillac ELR (2014) Front SideCadillac ELR (2014) Dashboard

    In theory the EREV powertrain has the environmental and running-cost benefits of an electric vehicle without any of the range anxiety. Consisting of a 1.4 litre petrol-powered electric generator, an electric motor and a T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack, its total system output is rated at 207 bhp (154 kW / 209 PS).

    The Cadillac will run in electric-only mode for around 35 miles (56 kilometres), which should be enough for many daily commutes. That figure goes up to over 300 miles (480 kilometres) when the petrol generator is employed as well.

    Trips to fuel stations could be a rare occurrence though, since the battery pack can also be recharged using a 120 V outlet or a 240 V dedicated charging station. The latter option is expected to take around 4.5 hours.

    Cadillac ELR (2014) InteriorCadillac ELR (2014) Rear Side

    The smart styling of the 2+2 ELR coupé is virtually unaltered from that of the Converj concept, which was first seen back in 2009. An evolution of Cadillac’s ‘Art and Science’ design language, it incorporates prominent vertical head- and tail-light clusters, taut surfacing details and large 20” wheels with low rolling-resistance tyres.

    ELR assembly is due to begin in late 2013, although Bob Ferguson, Cadillac global vice president, has stated: “It will be a specialized offering produced in limited numbers.” The first North American deliveries should then follow in early 2014.

    Of course, pricing is bound to be a major factor in determining sales volumes but, for the time being, Cadillac is keeping quiet on the subject.

    Another unknown is what plans exist for offering the ELR in the UK. While eventually it will be available in Europe, the business case for a right-hand drive version is probably not strong.

    2014 Cadillac ELR - Preliminary Technical Specifications
    Body
    Style Unibody two-door 2+2 coupé
    Construction Galvanized steel front fenders, aluminium bonnet, thermal plastic olefin (TPO) bumpers
    EPA vehicle class Compact car
    Petrol-powered electric generator
    Type I4, petrol
    Displacement 1,398 cc (85.3 cu in)
    Bore and stroke 73.4 x 82.6 mm (2.89 x 3.25 in)
    Power 84 bhp (63 kW / 85 PS)
    Compression ratio 10.5:1
    Block material Cast iron
    Cylinder head material Cast aluminium
    Valve train Overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, continuously variable intake and exhaust timing
    Fuel Premium unleaded
    Fuel delivery Sequential multi-port fuel injection; electronic throttle control
    EPA-estimated fuel economy TBC
    Electric drive
    Drive motor 117-135 kW
    Generator motor 55 kW
    Battery pack
    Type Lithium-ion, rechargeable
    Cells 288 prismatic
    Power 16.5 kWh
    Charging times 120 V about 12 hours; 240 V (charging station) about 4.5 hours
    Casing 5.5’ long T-shaped; structural composite with aluminium thermal radiation shield and steel tray
    Mass 198 kg (435 lbs)
    Warranty 8 years / 100,000 miles
    Performance
    Total system power 207 bhp (154 kW / 209 PS)
    Total system torque 400 Nm (295 lb/ft)
    Electric-only driving range About 35 miles (56 kilometres)
    Extended driving range More than 300 miles (480 kilometres) with full tank of fuel and fully-charged battery
    0-60 mph (96 km/h) TBC
    Top speed 100 mph (160 km/h)
    Chassis
    Drive Front-wheel drive
    Front suspension HiPer Strut with continuously variable real-time damping with driver-selectable modes; specially tuned coil springs; hollow stabilizer bar; hydraulic ride bushings
    Rear suspension Specially adapted torsion beam with Watts link; specifically tuned coil springs; hydraulic bushings; continuously variable damping with driver-selectable modes
    Control systems All-speed traction control, StabiliTrak, drag control
    Steering Electric power steering
    Brakes
    Type Four-wheel vented discs with ABS; fully regenerative for energy capture
    Disc diameter front 321 mm (12.6 in)
    Disc diameter rear 292 mm (12.0 in)
    Wheels and tyres
    Wheels 20 x 8.5” cast aluminium
    Tyres 245/40R20 all-season
    Exterior dimensions
    Overall length 4,724 mm (186.0 in)
    Wheelbase 2,695 mm (106.1 in)
    Overall width 1,847 (72.7 in)
    Height 1,420 mm (55.9 in)
    Curb weight 1,846 kg (4,070 lbs)
    Interior dimensions
    Seating capacity 2 front / 2 rear
    Headroom front 938 mm (36.9 in)
    Headroom rear 882 mm (34.7 in)
    Legroom front 1,071 mm (42.2 in)
    Legroom rear 853 mm (33.6 in)
    Shoulder room front 1,403 mm (55.2 in)
    Shoulder room rear 1,268 mm (49.9 in)
    Hip room front 1,344 mm (52.9 in)
    Hip room rear 1,234 mm (48.6 in)
    Cargo volume 255 litres (9 cu ft) (estimated)

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    Images © General Motors.

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    The world’s largest capacity production motorcycles - the 2.3 litre Triumph Rocket III Roadster and Touring - have been updated for 2013.

    Distinguishing the revised Rocket III Roadster model is a darker look, with components such as the fork protectors, air box cover, headlights, mirrors and radiator cowls now finished in black instead of the previous chrome. Completing the effect is a choice of matt black or metallic black paintwork, both of which come with twin centre stripes.

    Triumph Rocket III Roadster (2013) Front Side

    However, the changes to the Roadster aren’t just cosmetic. While its 2,294 cc engine’s power and torque figures remain the same at 146 bhp (109 kW / 148 PS) and 221 Nm (163 lb/ft) respectively, all of that output is now available in every gear.

    Before, torque was electronically restricted when using the first three gears to, as Triumph puts it, ‘prevent rider intimidation’. Customer pressure has seen that limit abandoned, although perhaps it’s a good job that anti-lock brakes are fitted as standard…

    The Rocket III Touring meanwhile gains some extra equipment for 2013, as a quick-release luggage rack, chrome engine dresser bars and a quick-release sissy bar and backrest are all now part of the specification.

    Buyers will have the option of either a black and red colour scheme with a single hand-painted coach line, or simply plain black with twin gold coach lines.

    As before, the three-cylinder engine in the Touring has a slightly different state of tune compared to the Roadster’s. Even though the 2.3 litre displacement is identical, power is reduced to 105 bhp (78 kW / 106 PS) while peak torque is 203 Nm (150 lb/ft).

    UK on the road prices have been set at £12,899 for the Rocket III Roadster and £13,899 for the Rocket III Touring. Deliveries are expected to start in late March.

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  • 01/21/13--14:49: Škoda Yeti Laurin & Klement
  • Škoda has begun UK sales of its Yeti Laurin & Klement. Based on the existing Elegance variant, the newcomer adds plenty of extra equipment for a £2,000 price premium.

    That name honours Václav Laurin and Václav Klement, the founders of the company that eventually became Škoda Auto. It has traditionally been applied to high-end Škoda models, a custom that the Yeti version continues.

    Skoda Yeti Laurin & Klement (2013) Front SideSkoda Yeti Laurin & Klement (2013) Interior

    Skoda Yeti Laurin & Klement (2013) DashboardSkoda Yeti Laurin & Klement (2013) Badge Detail

    The interior specification includes black leather upholstery with silver stitching, piano black trim, a panoramic sunroof, a heated windscreen, satellite navigation, a DAB radio, special floor mats and parking sensors.

    On the outside, the Laurin & Klement is identified by its 17” polished alloy wheels, chrome-trimmed side protection mouldings, unique door sill scuff plates and a set of silver roof rails.

    As befits its range-topping status, the Yeti Laurin & Klement is only available with all-wheel drive. Buyers have a choice of one petrol and two diesel engines, with prices starting from £24,835:

    2013 Škoda Yeti Laurin & Klement
    UK On The Road Prices
    Engine Price
    1.8 TSI 160 PS Petrol 4x4 £24,835
    2.0 TDI CR 170 PS Diesel 4x4 £25,980
    2.0 TDI CR 140 PS Diesel 4x4 DSG £26,400

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  • 01/22/13--07:37: Victory 15th Anniversary
  • While this year sees the 110th anniversary of Harley-Davidson, 2013 also marks the fifteenth birthday of another American motorcycle brand - Victory. And, to celebrate the occasion, it has launched the 15th Anniversary Cross Country Tour Limited Edition.

    Finished in an Antares Red and Gloss Black paintjob with gold pinstriping, the commemorative bike also features special badges, pannier decals, a numbered plaque and unique heated seats. Completing the individual look are billet wheels and plenty of chrome-plated parts.

    Victory 15th Anniversary Cross Country Tour Limited Edition (2013) Side

    However, the differences compared to the regular Cross Country Tour model aren’t just cosmetic. Additional specification includes a Garmin satellite navigation unit, an audio system with iPod connectivity and XM radio, a top-box luggage rack and pannier rails.

    Production of the Victory 15th Anniversary Cross Country Tour Limited Edition is going to be restricted to just 150 units. Prices in the United States start from $29,999.

    Victory 15th Anniversary Cross Country Tour Limited Edition (2013) Build Number PlaqueVictory 15th Anniversary Cross Country Tour Limited Edition (2013) Rear Side

    Victory 15th Anniversary Cross Country Tour Limited Edition (2013) Pannier DetailVictory 15th Anniversary Cross Country Tour Limited Edition (2013) Fairing Badge

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  • 01/22/13--13:21: Rolls-Royce Wraith teased
  • One of the highlights of this year’s Geneva Motor Show will be the unveiling of the Rolls-Royce Wraith coupé. That won’t be until March but, in the meantime, a teaser campaign is going to offer glimpses of the new model.

    Today, Rolls-Royce has released a partially-obscured first image that shows off the Wraith’s daring fastback profile.

    Rolls-Royce Wraith (2014) Side

    While the Wraith promises to be as luxurious and refined as the rest of the range, it also seems set to have a very distinctive character - and not only in terms of the styling. Indeed, Rolls-Royce has already stated that the new coupé is going to be the most powerful and dynamic model in the brand’s history.

    Deliveries of the Wraith are scheduled to begin towards the end of this year.

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  • 01/23/13--05:23: Nissan Leaf price cut
  • Nissan has made its Leaf electric car more affordable for UK buyers.

    The retail price has been reduced by £2,500, meaning that after the government’s Plug-in Car Grant has been applied it now costs £23,490.

    Nissan Leaf (2011) Front Side 1

    Effective immediately, the move coincides with the introduction of various upgrades for the Leaf. These include better regenerative braking performance, a power-saving heater and a new integrated powertrain that’s 30 percent smaller and 10 percent lighter than before.

    Production of the Leaf is due to commence at Nissan’s plant in Sunderland this spring.

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  • 01/23/13--12:09: 2013 Aston Martin Rapide S
  • Aston Martin has given its four-door Rapide a facelift, more power and an ‘S’ suffix.

    The new Rapide S, which from now on will be the only version available, is immediately recognisable by its huge new grille. That particular change hasn’t been entirely voluntary though because, along with a redesigned bonnet and front bumper, it’s there to ensure compliance with the latest European pedestrian protection regulations. At the other end of the car, the only other major styling tweak is a more pronounced boot-lid spoiler.

    Aston Martin Rapide S (2013) Side

    Power comes from an updated version of the naturally-aspirated AM11 6.0 litre V12 engine which produces 550 bhp (410 kW / 558 PS) with 620 Nm (457 lb/ft) of torque. Compared to the superseded Rapide, those figures represent healthy increases of 80 bhp (59 kW / 81 PS) and 20 Nm (15 lb/ft).

    As expected, the extra output has had an effect on performance. The 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time is reduced from 5.2 to 4.9 seconds, while the top speed is up to 190 mph (306 km/h). Efficiency is slightly better too, as carbon dioxide emissions have been trimmed from 355 to 332 g/km and combined cycle fuel consumption is now 19.9 mpg (14.2 l/100km).

    Aston Martin is also promising an improved driving experience, thanks to recalibrated adaptive damping and dynamic stability control systems. Furthermore, a repositioning of the engine has lead to a lower centre of gravity, which in turn has sharpened the steering responses.

    Orders for the new Aston Martin Rapide S are being accepted from next month, although pricing has yet to be announced.

    Aston Martin Rapide S (2013) Front SideAston Martin Rapide S (2013) Interior

    Aston Martin Rapide S (2013) Rear SeatsAston Martin Rapide S (2013) Rear Side

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    The long-awaited Ford Fiesta ST hot hatch finally arrives in the UK this month, aggressively priced from £16,995.

    Offered only as a three-door in Europe, that amount buys the base ST which comes with Recaro seats, 17” alloy wheels, a DAB radio, Ford’s Sync connectivity system, a large rear spoiler and a black honeycomb front grille.

    Additionally available will be a more lavishly equipped ST-2 version that costs £17,995. Its extra spec includes keyless start, heating and part-leather upholstery for the seats, LED daytime running lights, a Sony audio system and privacy glass.

    Ford Fiesta ST 3-Door (2013) Front SideFord Fiesta ST 3-Door (2013) Interior

    Ford Fiesta ST 3-Door (2013) DashboardFord Fiesta ST 3-Door (2013) Rear Side

    To help ensure that the handling lives up to the sporty image, both models feature lowered, stiffer suspension and retuned steering. Also fitted is enhanced Torque Vectoring Control (eTVC), which balances power delivery between the two front wheels when accelerating through a corner.

    Not that the output from the ST’s 1.6 litre turbocharged EcoBoost engine is excessive. It produces 180 bhp (134 kW / 182 PS) with 290 Nm (214 lb/ft) of peak torque, enough for a decent 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of 6.9 seconds and a 136 mph (218 km/h) top speed.

    Complementing the performance is a very respectable average fuel consumption figure of 47.9 mpg (5.9 l/100km), while carbon dioxide emissions are 138 g/km.

    Those figures mean that the Fiesta ST compares favourably with four of its current rivals: the Mini Cooper S Hatch, Škoda Fabia vRS, Vauxhall Corsa VXR and Volkswagen Polo GTI. And the Ford is less expensive than any of them:

    Model Price
    Fiesta ST £16,995 (ST-2: £17,995)
    Cooper S Hatch £18,180
    Fabia vRS £17,145
    Corsa VXR £18,985
    Polo GTI £19,430 (3-door) / £20,050 (5-door)
    Powertrain Engine Transmission
    Fiesta ST 1.6 litre petrol turbo 6-speed manual
    Cooper S Hatch 1.6 litre petrol turbo 6-speed manual
    Fabia vRS 1.4 litre petrol turbo with supercharger 7-speed DSG auto
    Corsa VXR 1.6 litre petrol turbo 6-speed manual
    Polo GTI 1.4 litre petrol turbo with supercharger 7-speed DSG auto
    Output Power Torque
    Fiesta ST 180 bhp (134 kW / 182 PS) 290 Nm (214 lb/ft)
    Cooper S Hatch 181 bhp (135 kW / 184 PS) 240 Nm (177 lb/ft)
    Fabia vRS 176 bhp (132 kW / 180 PS) 250 Nm (185 lb/ft)
    Corsa VXR 189 bhp (141 kW / 192 PS) 230 Nm (170 lb/ft)
    Polo GTI 176 bhp (132 kW / 180 PS) 250 Nm (185 lb/ft)
    Performance 0-62 mph (100 km/h) Top speed
    Fiesta ST 6.9 secs 136 mph (218 km/h)
    Cooper S Hatch 7.0 secs 142 mph (228 km/h)
    Fabia vRS 7.3 secs 139 mph (223 km/h)
    Corsa VXR 6.8 secs 140 mph (225 km/h)
    Polo GTI 6.9 secs 142 mph (228 km/h)
    Efficiency Combined fuel consumption CO2
    Fiesta ST 47.9 mpg (5.9 l/100km) 138 g/km
    Cooper S Hatch 48.7 mpg (5.8 l/100km) 136 g/km
    Fabia vRS 45.6 mpg (6.2 l/100km) 148 g/km
    Corsa VXR 38.7 mpg (7.3 l/100km) 172 g/km
    Polo GTI 47.9 mpg (5.9 l/100km) 139 g/km

    However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the performance supermini segment is due to be further shaken up later this year with the arrival of two new French contenders. The Peugeot 208 GTi and Renault Clio Renaultsport 200 Turbo will, coincidentally, both have 1.6 litre turbocharged engines developing 197 bhp (147 kW / 200 PS), but performance stats and prices have yet to be confirmed for either.

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  • 01/25/13--12:02: Mini Clubman Bond Street
  • Mini has announced another London-themed special edition. This latest one, named after Bond Street, is based on both the Cooper and Cooper S Clubman.

    It follows a familiar recipe that combines a unique colour scheme with some extra equipment. Mini has chosen Midnight Black Metallic paintwork for the Clubman Bond Street, which is complemented by a Cool Champagne finish for the roof, door mirror caps, C-pillar lowers and bonnet stripes.

    Those two shades are repeated on the 17” twin-spoke alloy wheels and, as a finishing touch, a ‘Bond Street’ script appears on the sill guards and side indicator housings.

    Mini Cooper S Clubman Bond Street (2013) Front Side

    On the inside there are leather-covered sports seats, as well as the Chrome Line interior package and champagne-coloured trim pieces. Also included as standard are climate control, Bluetooth, automatic headlight activation, a rain sensor and height adjustment for the front seats.

    The Mini Clubman Bond Street is going to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March, with sales due to begin for a limited period shortly afterwards.

    In the UK, Cooper-based versions will cost £4,365 more than their regular model equivalents, while the Cooper S variants carry a slightly lower price premium of £4,115:

    2013 Mini Clubman Bond Street - UK On The Road Prices
    Cooper Clubman Bond Street £20,275
    Cooper D Clubman Bond Street £21,625
    Cooper S Clubman Bond Street £23,355
    Cooper SD Clubman Bond Street £24,045

    Mini Cooper S Clubman Bond Street (2013) DashboardMini Cooper S Clubman Bond Street (2013) Rear Side

    Mini Cooper S Clubman Bond Street (2013) SideMini Cooper S Clubman Bond Street (2013) Interior

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  • 01/25/13--14:47: Kia Soul Shaker launched
  • Kia has reintroduced the Shaker trim grade to its Soul line-up. Along with the Inferno and Quantum versions, the new arrival sits at the top of the range as part of the ‘Originals’ collection which offers distinctive looks with generous equipment levels.

    On the outside, the specification includes LED daytime running lights at the front, LED light clusters at the rear, 18” multi-spoke alloy wheels and a choice of either Vanilla Shake or Quartz Black paintwork.

    Kia Soul Shaker (2013) Front Side

    Kia Soul Shaker (2013) Interior

    The cabin meanwhile features unique houndstooth upholstery with beige trim. Also fitted as standard are a colour reversing camera, an electric sunroof, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

    Available now, UK prices start at £15,295:

    2013 Kia Soul Shaker - UK On The Road Prices
    Engine Price
    1.6 GDi 138 bhp (103 kW / 140 PS) Petrol £15,295
    1.6 CRDi 126 bhp (94 kW / 127 PS) Diesel £16,690
    1.6 CRDi 126 bhp (94 kW / 127 PS) Diesel Automatic £17,795

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  • 01/27/13--06:30: Aprilia RSV4 SBK edition
  • Aprilia has announced the RSV4 Factory APRC ABS SBK Special Edition. As the ‘SBK’ part of that very long name suggests, it has been created to celebrate the marque’s double success in the 2012 Superbike World Championship. After a season-long battle with BMW and Ducati, Aprilia took the manufacturers’ title, while the team’s Max Biaggi won the riders’ title by just half a point.

    Available from April, but only in the United States and Canada, the commemorative bike comes with a number of race-inspired modifications.

    Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC ABS SBK Special Edition (2013) Side

    The engine - which features reduced-friction internals, better crankcase ventilation, changes to the traction control system and an upgraded exhaust - has been repositioned inside the frame to optimise weight distribution.

    Changes to the chassis meanwhile include Brembo M430 monobloc front calipers, three-mode Bosch anti-lock brakes and a new 200/55-17 rear tyre. Completing the package is a higher-capacity fuel tank borrowed from the RSV4 race bikes which, combined with a slightly lower seat height, is claimed to offer improved rider feel and ergonomics.

    Prices for the Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC ABS SBK Special Edition are due to be revealed next month.

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  • 01/28/13--05:14: Kia Pro_cee’d GT revealed
  • Kia has released the first images of its new Pro_cee’d GT, the brand’s first foray into the hot hatch market.

    Deeper bumpers, side sill extensions, a rear spoiler and larger wheels are pretty much obligatory for this type of car, and indeed all make an appearance on the handsome Pro_cee’d. That leaves the quadruplet LED daytime running light arrays and a red strip along the bottom of the lower air intake as the GT’s most distinctive styling elements.

    Kia Pro_cee'd GT (2013) Front Side

    As previously announced, power will come from a 1.6 litre Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) petrol engine fitted with a twin-scroll turbocharger. Producing 201 bhp (150 kW / 204 PS) and 265 Nm (195 lb/ft) of torque, the result is a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of 7.9 seconds.

    Respectable enough figures then, but not enough to trouble two-litre rivals such as the Ford Focus ST or Renault Mégane Renaultsport 265.

    Kia Pro_cee'd GT (2013) Side

    Together with the five-door C’eed GT, the Kia Pro_cee’d GT will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Prices have yet to be confirmed.

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    Suzuki has further strengthened the commuting credentials of its recently-launched Inazuma 250 by introducing a Street Accessory Pack.

    Consisting of a centre stand, accessory bar, top case kit and tank protector, the pack costs £459 (including VAT and fitting). Compared to buying all of the components separately, Suzuki reckons that that amount represents a saving of nearly £130.

    Suzuki Inazuma 250 Street Accessory Pack (2013) Front Side

    What’s more, if the Street Accessory Pack is purchased at the same time as a new bike, it too is covered by the motorcycle’s two-year warranty.

    The standard specification Suzuki Inazuma 250 is currently priced at £3,499 on the road.

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  • 01/29/13--15:11: Peugeot 208 GTi - UK price
  • Peugeot has finally revealed the price of its new 208 GTi hot hatch.

    Buyers will have to part with £18,895 when dealers begin taking orders in March. That makes the Peugeot £1,900 more expensive than the basic version of the just-launched Ford Fiesta ST, but £535 cheaper than a three-door Volkswagen Polo GTI.

    Peugeot 208 GTi (2013) Front Side 1

    Despite the large price gap between the 208 GTi and the Fiesta ST, both cars actually offer similar value when judged against one particularly crude measure: the ‘pound per horsepower’ figure for the former is £96, which is virtually the same as the latter’s £94.

    That’s because the Peugeot’s 1.6 litre turbocharged petrol engine develops 197 bhp (147 kW / 200 PS), whereas the one in the Ford produces 180 bhp (134 kW / 182 PS). The extra output doesn’t seem to result in a quicker car though, as the 208 completes the 0-62 mph (100 km/h) sprint in 6.8 seconds, an imperceptible 0.1 seconds less than the Fiesta’s time.

    Peugeot 208 GTi (2013) DashboardPeugeot 208 GTi (2013) Front Side 2

    Standard specification for the Peugeot 208 GTi will include recalibrated suspension, wider tracks front and rear, 17” alloy wheels, sports seats, part-leather upholstery and rear parking sensors. Deliveries are due to begin in May.

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  • 01/31/13--06:29: McLaren MP4-28 revealed
  • McLaren hasn’t won the Formula One Constructors' Championship since 1998, and the last time the team was victorious in the Drivers’ Championship was back in 2008, when Lewis Hamilton took the title. So the Woking-based outfit must be desperately hoping that its contender for the 2013 season, the MP4-28, might end the fallow period.

    McLaren MP4-28 2013 Side 1

    An evolution of last year’s car, the MP4-28 will be driven by Jenson Button and new arrival Sergio Perez. According to McLaren, the development work has focussed on the front suspension, sidepod profiles, rear bodywork and the nose (although the team has again resisted using the ‘step’ design that’s preferred by many of its rivals).

    McLaren MP4-28 2013 Side 2

    Power continues to be provided by a 2.4 litre Mercedes-Benz V8 engine, assisted by a 60 kW kinetic energy recovery system.

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  • 02/01/13--06:08: Ferrari F138 unveiled
  • Ferrari has launched its 2013 Formula One car. Called the F138, the ‘13’ part denotes the year, while the ‘8’ commemorates that this will be the final season for the 2.4 litre V8 engines.

    In 2014, the sport switches to 1.6 litre turbocharged V6 motors with integrated kinetic energy recovery systems. As that’s going to be such a momentous change, the technical regulations for this year’s championship are virtually unaltered.

    Consequently, the F138 is very much an evolution of its predecessor, the F2012.

    Ferrari F138 2013 Front Side 1

    However, Ferrari is keen to point out that all of the car’s components have been thoroughly reassessed, with a particular emphasis on improving the aerodynamics. The results of that approach can be seen in the smooth nose (which no longer features an ugly ‘step’), more tapered rear bodywork, repositioned exhausts and redesigned air intakes above the cockpit and in the sidepods. Even the brake ducts have been tweaked.

    The front and rear wings meanwhile are substantially the same as those seen on the final version of the F2012, although the drag reduction system is new.

    The next key stage in the F138’s development will be the official pre-season tests at Jerez and Barcelona. Then it’s off to Melbourne, Australia, for the first round of the 2013 Formula One World Championship which takes place on the 17th of March.

    Ferrari F138 2013 FrontFerrari F138 2013 Front Side 3

    Ferrari F138 2013 Front Side 2Ferrari F138 2013 Top

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  • 02/01/13--13:58: 2014 SsangYong Rodius teased
  • The current SsangYong Rodius MPV scores well on practicality, equipment levels and pricing. However, it’s never going to enter the annals of elegant vehicle design.

    At least it seems that the thorny issue of looks has been considered for the next-generation Rodius (called Stavic in some markets and Korando Turismo in Korea). Judging by the first renderings, which have just been revealed, its appearance promises to be a significant improvement.

    SsangYong Rodius (2014 Rendering) Front Side

    SsangYong Rodius (2014 Rendering) Rear Side

    For now, very few specification details are known, but SsangYong has said that there’ll be a choice of either a 2.0 litre diesel or a 3.2 litre petrol engine when sales begin later this year.

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  • 02/01/13--15:32: Mopar ’13 Dart
  • Dodge has unveiled the Mopar ’13 Dart, a driver-focussed special edition that features an upgraded chassis as well as various cosmetic tweaks.

    Handling improvements come courtesy of suspension that’s been lowered by seven millimetres, recalibrated steering and 18” five-spoke alloy wheels with low-profile 225/40R18 tyres. Also fitted is a premium braking set-up that includes ventilated discs.

    Dodge Mopar '13 Dart (2013) Front Side

    Don’t expect any more performance though, because the 1.4 litre MultiAir turbocharged engine remains standard. However, a sports exhaust system is part of the specification and the Mopar ’13 Dart is only available with a manual transmission.

    The exterior continues a theme established by previous Mopar models, which means a gloss black paint finish offset by full-length blue stripes. Completing the look are a front splitter, rear diffuser and boot-lid spoiler.

    Dodge Mopar '13 Dart (2013) Rear Side

    Those colours are repeated on the inside where, unusually, only the driver’s seat is upholstered in blue leather (the others are black with blue stitching).

    The Mopar ’13 Dart is set to make its first public appearance at the Chicago Auto Show later this month. Production, which will be limited to just 500 units, is then going to commence in the spring.

    Pricing has yet to be confirmed.

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  • 02/02/13--06:51: Kawasaki Z250 launched
  • Kawasaki has revealed the 2013 Z250, a naked version of the compact Ninja 250R sports bike.

    Currently only available in limited markets such as Japan and Indonesia, the new arrival has a distinct street fighter stance thanks to its wider handlebars, more upright riding position, double headlights and lack of bodywork.

    Kawasaki Z250 (2013) Side 1

    Apart from the styling changes, everything else is pretty much identical to the Ninja 250R, including the 249 cc fuel-injected engine that develops 32 bhp (24 kW / 32 PS) and 21 Nm (15 lb/ft) of peak torque. A weight reduction of 4 kg (9 lbs) compared to the faired bike might make the Z250 slightly more agile, though.

    In Europe, Kawasaki offers the higher-capacity Ninja 300 instead of the otherwise indistinguishable Ninja 250R. Therefore it’s highly unlikely that the Z250 is going to be sold here, but don’t be surprised if a Z300 is announced some time soon.

    Kawasaki Z250 (2013) Front Side 1Kawasaki Z250 (2013) Front Side 2

    Kawasaki Z250 (2013) Side 2Kawasaki Z250 (2013) Side 3

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  • 02/02/13--13:45: 2013 Zafira Tourer BiTurbo
  • Anybody wanting to transport seven people in a hurry is probably going to be rather interested in the new Vauxhall Zafira Tourer BiTurbo models.

    Combining a 2.0 litre twin-turbo diesel engine, a six-speed manual transmission and the SRi, SE or Elite trim grades, they offer an appealing mix of performance and efficiency.

    Vauxhall Zafira Tourer Elite BiTurbo (2013) Front Side

    Vauxhall Zafira Tourer Elite BiTurbo (2013) Rear Side

    With 192 bhp (143 kW / 195 PS) and 400 Nm (295 lb/ft) of peak torque, the zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) sprint is achieved in just 8.5 seconds and the top speed is 135 mph (217 km/h). A 50.4 mpg (5.6 l/100km) combined cycle fuel consumption figure and carbon dioxide emissions of 149 g/km are equally impressive.

    Available to order now, the Zafira Tourer SRi and SE BiTurbo are both priced at £27,685 on the road, while the range-topping Elite version costs £29,185. Deliveries are expected to begin in the spring.

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    Images © General Motors.

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