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BYD's giant-killing hybrid Qin saloon

Sunday October 27, 2013
  • BYD Qin -
  • BYD Qin
  • Image courtesy of BYD

The Chinese car industry is oft-maligned, and sometimes for good reason. The BYD (Build Your Dreams - yes, really) marque has suffered its fair share of the slings and arrows of outraged journalists over the years, from the BMW-like badge it once wore, to the rather Mercedes-Benz-like exterior of its F8 convertible. BYD has however been concentrating on electric and hybrid drivetrains for its more recent offerings. The latest, a rather innocuous-looking 4 door saloon they call the Qin, is a hybrid with a 1.5 litre direct injection petrol motor powering the front wheels, coupled with an electric motor that can drive through the rear wheels. It can operate in petrol-only, electric-only or a combination of the two. When this last option is engaged, the Qin shows most small hybrid makers just how to do it. The combined hybrid system power of the Qin is 303 PS, and despite the rather hefty 1650 kg kerb weight, the Qin can really fly with that sort of power. It's 'Qin quick, in fact: 0-100 km/h is dispatched in a scant 5.9 seconds, and it hits 160 km/h (the old imperial ton) in a truly incredible 12.9 seconds. You can see it taking on and embarrassing a whole lot of more glamorous machinery over at China Car Times.

The Qin sits on a 2660 mm wheelbase and is 4740 mm long overall. The 1.5 litre direct injection turbocharged petrol engine displaces 1497 cc and produces 153 PS (151 bhp, 113 kW). The 500V electric motor that powers the rear wheels produces 150 PS (148 bhp, 110 kW) and the system has combined power and torque of 303 PS and 440 N·m. The power is transmitted through a six speed dual clutch automatic transmission.

BMW reveals new F22 2 Series

Friday October 25, 2013
  • BMW F22 2 Series Coupé -
  • BMW F22 2 Series Coupé
  • Image courtesy of BMW
Just as the replacement for the 3 series coupé has become the 4 series, the new generation of 1 series coupé is now known as the 2 series. BMW has announced the specifications and pricing of the 220i Coupé, 220d Coupé and the M235i Coupé, with sales to commence in Germany in November 2013, and in other markets at the same time or shortly thereafter.

The new 2 series is slightly larger than the outgoing 1 series coupé that it replaces, having gained 30 mm in the wheelbase, now at 2690 mm, and 72 mm in length to 4432 mm. On a model by model basis, the kerb weight remains virtually identical, ranging from 1425 kg (EU) for the manual gearbox 220i to 1545 kg for the automatic transmission version of the M235i Coupé.

The BMW 220i Coupé has a turbocharged 4 pot producing 184 PS (181 bhp, 135 kW) of power and torque of 270 N·m (199 lb·ft, 27.5 kg·m) at 1250-4500 rpm. Equipped with a six speed manual shift transmission, the claimed 0-100 km/h time is 7.0 seconds, and CO2 emissions are 142 g/km. With the eight speed automatic option box ticked, those figures are 7.0 seconds and 134 g/km respectively.

The BMW 220d Coupé is the sole diesel version available at launch. It has a 2 litre 4 cylinder common-rail diesel engine that produces 184 PS (181 bhp, 135 kW) of power and 380 N·m (280 lb·ft, 38.8 kg·m) of torque at 1750-2750 rpm. It too is available with either a six speed manual or eight speed automatic 'box, and the 0-100 km/h times and CO2 emissions are 7.2 seconds and 119 g/km respectively for the manual version, and 7.1 seconds and 111 g/km for the automatic.

The most powerful 2 series coupé will be the BMW M235i Coupé, with the same turbocharged 3 litre 6 cylinder powerplant found in the M135i hatchback. This engine produces 326 PS (322 bhp, 240 kW) of power and 450 N·m (332 lb·ft, 45.9 kg·m) of torque from 1300 rpm to 4500 rpm. This enables the manual M235i to cover the benchmark sprint to 100 km/h in 5.0 seconds, the standing kilometre in 23.8 seconds, and on to a top speed electronically limited to 250 km/h. CO2 figures are 189 g/km. The automatic version of the M235i is claimed to be slightly faster still, with the 100 km/h sprint covered in a scant 4,8 seconds, the standing kilometre dispatched in 23.7 seconds and the top speed also limited to 250 km/h. Claimed CO2 emissions are 176 g/km for the eight speed automatic.

The initial lineup is likely to be supplemented by more petrol and diesel variants, as well as select models with BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive.

Pricing in Germany is as follows, inclusive of 19% MwSt. (tax):

BMW 220i Coupé: €29 950
BMW 220i Coupé Automatic: €32 050
BMW 220d Coupé: €32 500
BMW 220d Coupé Automatic: €34 600
BMW M235i Coupé: €43 750
BMW M235i Coupé Automatic: €46 000

New Alfa Romeo MiTo TwinAir 105 PS model

Saturday October 19, 2013
Alfa Romeo has boosted the output of the radical two cylinder TwinAir engine in the Alfa Romeo MiTo TwinAir by 20 PS, bringing it up to 105 PS (103.5 bhp/77kW) in total. The Lilliputian twin features multipoint fuel injection and turbocharging to achieve the relatively high power density of 120 PS per litre (118.3 bhp/litre; 88 kW/litre). The increased power does not come at the expense of fuel consumption nor emissions, and the TwinAir-powered MiTo features unchanged CO2 emissions of 99 g/km and fuel consumption on the European cycle of 5.0/3.8/4.2 litres per 100 km for the urban/extra-urban/combined regimes respectively.

The 875 cc engine is mated to a six speed manual gearbox, and kerb weight (including driver) is 1205 kg. Alfa Romeo claim a 184 km/h top speed, and an 11.4 second time for the 0-100 km/h sprint. No 'Ring times, official or otherwise, have been announced.

The MiTo TwinAir features ventilated disks fore and solid disks aft, and is equipped with ABS and servo assistance as standard. The wheels are 7J x 16s, and are shod with 195/55 section rubber.

Available in European markets from October, the more powerful MiTo TwinAir starts at £14 350 on the road in Sprint trim in the UK, and at €16 450 inclusive of MwSt (tax) in Germany in Junior trim.

Opel's new Country Tourer Insignia details revealed

Friday October 18, 2013
  • Opel Insignia Country Tourer -
  • Opel Insignia Country Tourer
  • Image courtesy of Opel
Opel has produced an Audi allroad rival in their new Insignia Country Tourer series. Unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show earlier this year, Opel have revealed full technical details on the new range.

The Country Tourer features permanent all-wheel drive and a five-door estate (station wagon) body and some bodywork mods to make it look a little chunkier and more off-roader like.

There will be 3 engine variants, with a 2 litre turbocharged petrol being the most powerful, producing 250 PS (247 bhp/184 kW) between 5300 and 5500 rpm, and torque of 400 N·m (295 lb·ft, 40.8 kg·m) at 2500 thanks to the use of direct petrol injection and turbocharger. Two 2 litre turbodiesels are also offered, with 163 PS (161 bhp/120 kW) for the single turbocharged variant, and 195 PS (192 bhp/143 kW) for the BiTurbo CDTI with its twin turbochargers. The BiTurbo CDTI is available initially only with a six speed automatic gearbox, the other 2 engine types are available with six speed manual or six speed automatic transmissions.

It's quite a large car for this class, with an overall length of 4920 mm and a wheelbase of 2737 mm. Curiously, all variants (even the automatic versions) have an officially quoted kerb weight of 1843 kg. CO2 emissions vary from 147 g/km for the single turbocharged Insignia Country Tourer 2.0 CDTI with the manual transmission, to 199 g/km for the automatic transmission 2.0 SIDI Turbo.

Alfa Romeo 4C laps the Nürburgring in 8:04

Friday October 18, 2013
  • Alfa Romeo 4C on the Nürburgring -
  • Alfa Romeo 4C on the Nürburgring
  • Image courtesy of Alfa Romeo
Alfa Romeo's eagerly anticipated mid-engined sports car, the Alfa Romeo 4C, has posted a quick 8:04 lap time on the infamously irrelevant Nürburgring Nordschliefe.

With veteran ring-lapper Horst von Saurma at the helm, the 240 PS 4C hustled around the track faster, Alfa Romeo claims, than any other sub-250 PS machine has before. Unfortunately they seem to have overlooked EVO magazine's Caterham R500 Superlight lap of 7:56 in 2000. That said, the Caterham doesn't offer any of the creature comforts that the 4C does, nor does it even have a roof! To be completely fair to Alfa Romeo, the R500 Superlight was more than likely not road legal in as many markets as the 4C will be when it does go on sale.

Still, it's a fabulous performance from the Alfa Romeo 4C, beating other higher-powered machines quite comfortably, including the E60 BMW M5 (8:13) and the W 204 Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG (8:13), both of which have nearly twice the power of the dynamic 4C.

The Alfa Romeo 4C is the first mid-engined Alfa Romeo road car since the legendary Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale of 1967. It features a 1750 cc 4 cylinder direct injection turbocharged petrol engine, and has a power-weight ratio of over 250 PS per tonne, thanks to an incredibly low weight of 895 kg.

Note: the lap times have been sourced from Wikipedia.

Superleggera Touring's gorgeous Alfa Romeo Disco Volante enters limited production

Thursday September 12, 2013
  • Alfa Romeo Disco Volante by Superleggera Touring -
  • Alfa Romeo Disco Volante by Superleggera Touring
Having been shown previously as a concept car, the Superleggera Touring Alfa Romeo Disco Volante has entered limited production with the backing of Alfa Romeo. The Milan-based carrozzerie has been building custom car bodies since 1926, and has clothed some of the finest British and European motoring icons, such as Pegaso, Ferrari, Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Jensen, Aston Martin and Lamborghini.

The original 1952 Alfa Romeo Disco Volante sported outrageous Touring-designed bodywork in a quest to minimise aerodynamic drag. The radical design quickly garnered it the moniker "Disco Volante", or "flying saucer", such was its uncanny resemblance to the descriptions of UFOs in contemporary science fiction.

Today's Disco Volante is no less radical, and it too is based on production Alfa Romeo underpinnings, albeit the sensational Alfa Romeo 8c Competizione. Indeed, in order for Superleggera Touring to produce a Disco Volante, a prospective client needs to acquire and deliver a fully-functioning 8c to their workshops. 6 months later it will emerge, metamorphosed into the stunning Disco Volante. Aluminium panels are hand-formed and glued to the inner tub section which is mainly carbon fibre. This process adds rigidity to the body. The various sections are pre-assembled on a laser-measured jig and adjusted if necessary prior to final installation, to ensure that strict tolerances are adhered to. Final quality assurance is performed on a proving ground where the vehicle is assessed for handling, braking and structural problems.

The drivetrain remains unchanged, which means 450 PS (331 kW) of power and 470 N·m (347 lb·ft) of torque from the 4.7 litre V8. Mated to a six speed automatic transmission, the Disco Volante has a claimed 0-100 km/h time of 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 292 km/h. No kerb weight is mentioned but it's likely to be a little lower than the standard 8c Competizione's 1585 kg, given Superleggera's stated mission of lightweight construction.

Alfa Romeo dealers will be able to handle any technical issues should they arise, and Touring will additionally provide dealers with information covering the Touring-specific components that have been used in the creation of a Disco Volante.

Toyota Launches Crown Majesta in Japan

Tuesday September 10, 2013
  • Toyota Crown Majesta -
  • Toyota Crown Majesta
  • Image courtesy of Toyota
Finally, something automotive that's not happening at Frankfurt. Toyota Motor Corporation today launched the new Japanese-market Toyota Crown Majesta.

The Crown Majesta is the range-topping variant of the Crown range, and is a petrol-electric hybrid 4-door saloon. Featuring the new Crown-shaped grille prominently at the front, the Crown Majesta is available in two trim levels, the Crown Majesta and Crown Majesta F package, which adds a number of interior comfort and convenience items. The Crown Majesta is 75 mm longer in the wheelbase than the Crown Royal and Crown Athlete series.

Power is supplied via an Atkinson cycle 3.6 litre V6 engine that provides 292 PS (215 kW) at 6000 rpm and 354 N·m (261 lb·ft) of torque at 4500 rpm to the rear wheels. Supplementary power, also to the rear wheels, is courtesy of a type 1KM synchronous electric motor that adds a further 200 PS (147 kW) for a combined system output of 343 PS (252 kW). The gearbox is a CVT type. CO2 emissions, under the Japanese JC08 test cycle, are stated as 128 g/km.

Prices in Japan for the Crown Majesta and Crown Majesta F version are ¥6 100 000 and ¥6 700 000 respectively, including consumption tax but not recycling fees (and differs in Hokkaido and Okinawa).

Disclaimer: prices and all other information correct at time of writing. Trim and equipment may vary from what is shown on For the latest prices and for information relating to taxes and delivery charges, always consult your dealer. Nothing presented here constitutes an offer. All information is supplied by the manufacturers.

BMW i8 at Frankfurt Motor Show 2013

Tuesday September 10, 2013
  • BMW i8 -
  • BMW i8
  • Image courtesy of BMW
BMW's sleek 2+2 seater i8 plug-in hybrid sports car has made its long-awaited public début at the 2013 IAA Frankfurt Motor Show. The first production BMW to feature a mid-engined layout since the fabled BMW M1, the i8 features a turbocharged 1.5 litre 3 cylinder and a secondary electric motor to provide limited electric-only propulsion.

The BMW i8 is long, wide and low, as befits a mid-engined layout, with overall length being 4689 mm, width 1942 mm and height being 1298 mm. The i8 is aerodynamically efficient too, with a cD of just 0.26. To further aid efficiency, the wheels are large 20 inch all round with slender 195/50 section rubber at the front and 215/45 at the rear. Extensive use of CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced polymer) helps keep the kerb weight down to 1490 kg.

The tiny three pot engine produces a very healthy 231 PS (170 kW) of power and 320 N·m (236 lb·ft) of torque. The eDrive electric motor adds another 131 PS (96 kW) of power and 250 N·m (184 lb·ft) of torque through the front wheels, giving a combined system output of 362 PS and 570 N·m of power and torque respectively. This endows the vehicle with a 250 km/h top speed, and a very respectable 4.4 second 0-100 km/h sprint time. CO2 emissions are claimed to be just 59 g/km.

The BMW i8 launches in the UK in July 2014 with an OTR price of £99 845, and orders start in September 2013. The price in Germany will be from €126 000, including VAT.

Disclaimer: prices and all other information correct at time of writing. Trim and equipment may vary from what is shown on For the latest prices and for information relating to taxes and delivery charges, always consult your dealer. Nothing presented here constitutes an offer. All information is supplied by the manufacturers.

Mercedes-Benz Shows a Glimpse of S-Class Coupé

Tuesday September 10, 2013
  • Mercedes-Benz Concept S-Class Coupé -
  • Mercedes-Benz Concept S-Class Coupé
  • Image courtesy of Mercedes-Benz
Following the successful début of the latest S-Class saloons, Mercedes-Benz has unveiled a concept at the 2013 IAA Frankfurt Motor Show that shows the design direction they are taking for the 2 door coupé version of their range-topping model. The Mercedes-Benz Concept S-Class Coupé, to give it its full name, is just over 5 metres long at 5050 mm, and sits on a wheelbase of 2945 mm. The engine is a bi-turbo 4.7 litre V8 that produces 455 PS (335 kW) of power and 700 N·m (516 lb·ft) of torque. What's under the bonnet is less important than the exterior design cues though, for this is going to resemble the production S-Class Coupé very closely.

The front incorporates the new Mercedes-Benz front look, with a dramatic grille, flanked by slanted headlights mounted slightly above the top edge of the grille and the stippled chrome effect in the areas where cooling air is to flow through.

From the side, the wheelarches are muscular and extend outwards from the rest of the body. A high belt line runs along the flanks of the car, starting over the front wheelarches and extending rearwards to the rear wheelarches. The swept-back windscreen and shallow side glass profile give the Concept S-Class Coupé a dramatically low look.

Moving around to the rear, there are hints of the SLS AMG about the rear screen, which is no bad thing. The boot line is neat and compact, with just a slight over-embellishment of chrome about the backside compromising an otherwise compact and understated look. This car has a gentle, loping look about it, which conveys a definite sense that it is all about munching up the miles on the motorway with the greatest of ease.

This should be an accurate pointer to the look of the forthcoming production S-Class Coupé, and it continues Mercedes-Benz' recent design resurgence.

Porsche Celebrates 50 Years of the 911

Tuesday September 10, 2013
  • 50th Anniversary Porsche 911 -
  • 50th Anniversary Porsche 911
  • Image courtesy of Porsche
It was at the 1963 IAA Frankfurt Motor Show that Porsche's 911 was first introduced to the world. The original 1963 Porsche 901 (later rebadged as 911) had a rear mounted air-cooled flat six of two litres capacity. It produced 130 PS (95 kW) at 6100 rpm and 174 N·m (128 lb·ft) of torque at 4600 rpm. Sitting on a 2211 mm wheelbase, the two door coupé was 4163 mm long overall. Weighing in at just over a tonne at the kerb, the 901 was good for a 9.1 second 0-100 km/h sprint and a claimed top speed of 210 km/h.

Over the years, Porsche has celebrated their most famous product with special versions for various landmarks in its production. In 1987, a special 911 was introduced to celebrate 250 000 examples of the Porsche 911 having been produced, and was limited to 875 units. In 1993 a special Porsche 911 based on the 964 series was built to celebrate the 30 year anniversary, and was limited to 911 examples. In 2003 a commemorative Porsche 911 Anniversary was produced to mark the 40th anniversary of the 911. Unlike the other specials, that one had a bit more power to go with the extra bits of trim, and produced 345 PS (254 kW) - up from the standard model's 320 PS (235 kW). This version too was limited to 1963 examples.

Today's Porsche 911 "50 Years 911 Edition" is being introduced at the 2013 IAA Frankfurt Motor Show - exactly 50 years after the Type 901 debuted - and is powered by a 3.8 litre water-cooled flat six, producing power of 400 PS (295 kW) at 7400 rpm and torque of 440 N·m (325 lb·ft) at 5600 rpm, and weighs 1410 kg at the kerb. Transmission options are a seven speed manual or a seven speed Porsche double clutch automatic gearbox. With the optional Sport Chrono package, the 911 "50 Years 911 Edition" can sprint to 100 km/h from rest in 4.1 seconds, and, with the manual gearbox, on to a top speed of 300 km/h. Only 1963 examples of this special 911 will be produced. It will be priced from €121 119 (including VAT and country-specific charges) in Germany, £92 257 in the UK and Ireland, and R1 369 000 in South Africa.

Disclaimer: prices and all other information correct at time of writing. Trim and equipment may vary from what is shown on For the latest prices and for information relating to taxes and delivery charges, always consult your dealer. Nothing presented here constitutes an offer. All information is supplied by the manufacturers.

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