By Wayne Gorrett
Hand-picked highlights from recent auto industry’s news. This week, news from:
FERRARI : New GTC4 Lusso to debut in Geneva
Ferrari announced last week the replacement for its FF, the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso, the new four-seater Grand Tourer concept, with rear-wheel steering and Ferrari’s patented 4RM Evo four-wheel-drive system for the first time. It will receive its world premiere at the Geneva International Motor Show next month.
The GTC4 Lusso’s name carries historic references from Ferrari predecessors such as the 330 GTC or – one of Enzo’s personal favourites, its 2+2 sister model, the 330 GT – and the 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso. The four nomenclature defers to the car’s 2+2 seating.
Powered by a 6.3-litre 12-cylinder engine punching out 680 bhp at 8,000 rpm, the GTC4 Lusso’s maximum torque of 697 Nm arrives at 5,750 rpm, with 80% of that already available at just 1,750 rpm offering pin-sharp responsiveness at very low revs. 0-62 mph is achieved in 3.4 seconds, with maximum speed of 208 mph.
Aiding the GTC4 Lusso’s grippy versatility in all conditions is the Ferrari-patented 4RM Evo four-wheel drive system which is integrated with rear-wheel steering for the first time. This has led to the newly-patented 4RM-S (four-wheel drive and steering) system which, based on yet another exclusive prancing horse patent, the fourth evolution of the ‘slip side control’ system, now incorporates the electronic differential and the SCM-E dampers. These advanced vehicle dynamic controls are integrated by Ferrari’s proprietary software which enable the driver to better handle the GTC4 Lusso’s high torque even on snow-covered, wet or low grip roads.
The GTC4 Lusso will also debut the new infotainment system via a high-definition 10-inch screen with capacitive touch technology. The new more compact steering wheel is made possible thanks to a smaller air bag, compliments integrated and ergonomic control.
SUBARU : XV crossover gets subtle upgrades – but no price changes
Subaru has released details of a series of upgrades to its popular XV compact crossover. Exterior styling has received subtle refreshments along with higher cabin quality and improved on-road refinement by the engineering team.
There’s better news in that, despite the range of upgrades across the full model line-up, pricing for the Subaru XV is unchanged for the 2016 model year, which goes on sale across the UK next month from £21,995.
For the 2016 model year, Subaru’s designers have spent more resources improving the interior finishings using higher quality materials and incorporating Subaru’s new factory-fit seven-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system. The driver’s TFT LCD instrument binnacle has also been redesigned.
The upgraded Subaru XV continues to offer a choice of two horizontally-opposed, four-cylinder Boxer engines – a 2.0-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel – and two transmissions (six-speed manual and six-speed CVT automatic). For 2016, both engines in the XV line-up offer improved fuel economy over the existing model.
SEAT : Ateca arrives unfashionably late to the SUV party
Ateca is a small, 32 square mile rural municipality in the province of Zaragoza, Aragon, Spain. It houses a population of around 3,000 people.
In keeping with a long-held tradition of naming its cars after locations in its Spanish home market, SEAT unveiled its first SUV…yes, named the Ateca, as the brand seeks to benefit from booming demand for high-riding vehicles.
Many of the styling cues of the Ateca are taken from the very handsome Leon. The Ateca rides on the same MQB platform as the Leon and VW Tiguan and will be a crucial model in SEAT’s future line-up. Indeed, SEAT says there will be no less than FOUR SUV’s in its future product range.
Preliminary technical details were also made available such as full LED headlights, wireless phone charger, 8-inch touchscreen, 510L boot space. On the engine and transmission front, there will be a 1.0, three-cylinder turbo developing 110 bhp, followed by the beefier four-cylinder, 150 bhp 1.4 turbo which will benefit from cylinder deactivation. Two diesels can be expected; a 110 bhp 1.6 TDI and a larger 2.0 TDI in two states of tune – 150 and 184 bhp.
All engines will couple with a six-speed manual gearbox, but the stronger engines will be optionally offered with a dual-clutch, seven-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive will be standard on the lesser-powered models, but four cylinder units will get SEAT’s 4Drive all-wheel-drive at an additional cost.
Last year SEAT increased its global sales by 2.4 percent to 400,037 units, its best result since the brand’s 431,000 unit-sales record in 2007. Among those sales from last year were 160,900 Leon models and 153,600 Ibiza’s.
The Ateca will be built by VW’s Skoda subsidiary in the Czech Republic. Skoda also produces the Toledo compact sedan and Mii minicar for SEAT.
The Ateca will make the trip to Geneva next month and will go on sale in the UK in early autumn.
SSANGYONG : Korando available as ‘Red’ limited edition
Based on the top-spec Korando ELX, the Red edition adds rather bright red leather interior, a 6-way adjustable and ventilated driver’s seat, sunroof and HID (high intensity discharge) headlights, with two metallic paint choices – black or grey. The Korando Red is available only with the quite good Aisin 6-speed automatic gearbox, which is very well-matched with the Korean firm’s new Tivoli crossover.
The Korando ELX already comes with on demand four wheel drive, heated front and rear seats, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with TomTom navigation, a rear view camera and 18” diamond cut alloy wheels.
The Korando Red is powered by SsangYong’s newly developed e-XDi220 2.2-litre diesel engine bring more performance power and lower CO2 emissions than the previous 2.0-litre diesel engine it replaces. Power is increased to 175 bhp and torque to 400Nm – up by 19.4 and 11 per cent respectively, with peak torque available from just 1,400 – 2,800 rpm.
The SsangYong Korando Red is well priced at £23,495 – considering the depth of the toy box – and is available to order now. Once we’ve arranged a test-drive, we’ll bring you a full road test.
HONDA : Civic hatchback Prototype in world premiere in Geneva
Honda UK has teased the prototype 2017 Civic hatchback with a rear-on shot prior to its global premiere at Geneva Motor Show. The image shows a sleek and very low design with large taillights, integrated rear spoiler and dual centred exhausts, cloaked with an aggressive rear diffuser arrangement. It is scheduled for release on early 2017 – about a year from now.
At this stage it is only a prototype but, being this close to production, we don’t think there will be too many external changes to the final design for next year. At least we hope not – it looks brilliant!
Hopefully, equal attention will have been given to redesigning the dashboard in the current Civic – which is not its finest feature.
The all-new, 10th generation Honda Civic will be built by Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM) at their Swindon plant and will be exported to all global markets, including the US. More details to follow from Geneva.
VAUXHALL : All-electric, five-door Ampera-e targets green families
An all-new entrant to the UK electric vehicle sector, Vauxhall has announced the Ampera-e five-door, based largely on the Chevrolet Bolt EV from General Motors. The Bolt is scheduled for Stateside release later this year.
The Ampera-e will ride on GM’s Gamma G2SC platform and joins other all-electric UK offerings such as Nissan’s Leaf, Renault’s Zoe and BMW’s i3.
However, Vauxhall says the Ampera-e will offer a longer range than most other electric vehicles. The Chevrolet Bolt is expected to travel more than 200 miles on a single charge – it looks promising. By comparison, on a single charge the new Nissan Leaf manages 155 miles – and that’s with its larger 30kWh battery.
Vauxhall’s newly-developed ‘flat battery pack’ strategically located under the floor translates into more interior space for the five-seat Ampera-e. It is likely to mean a sizeable boot too, as the Bolt has a very useful 480 litres.
Inside kit details are again sparse, but Vauxhall has confirmed that its snazzy OnStar telematics system will be present on the car, which allows drivers to connect to a call centre to get help with anything they need on the road.
Technical details from Chevy’s Bolt are interesting; Using a transverse front-engine, front-wheel drive layout, power will be provided by a 150 kW (200 bhp) permanent magnet motor/generator, delivering 266 lb.ft./360 Nm of torque. Transmission will be by electronic precision shift with a final drive ratio of 7.05:1. The lithium-ion battery will offer 60.0 kWh and, pending final tests by GM, is expected to offer a range of 200 miles.
Understandably, there’s no mention of price at this very early stage. However, the Chevrolet Bolt will cost US$37,500 (approximately £26,000). I think smart money will be around the £30,000 mark when it goes on UK sale in 2017.
TOYOTA : UK’s Deeside plant to produce next-gen hybrid engines
Toyota Manufacturing UK is to build the next generation of 1.8-litre hybrid engines at its Deeside plant in north Wales. It follows an investment of over £7 million by Toyota Motor Europe and a further £700,000 grant from the Welsh Government.
Production of the new hybrid engines will secure jobs at the Deeside plant and reaffirms the facility’s central role in Toyota’s European manufacturing operations. The engines are to be exported to Turkey for placement in the company’s future crossover model based on the C-HR concept, revealed last September.
Toyota’s hybrid sales reached 209,000 units in Europe last year, a rise of 17 per cent over 2014 and almost one in four Toyotas sold in the EU are hybrids.
The new hybrid engine is to be built at Deeside alongside current production of petrol and hybrid petrol units for the Toyota Auris range, manufactured by TMUK at its Burnaston plant in Derbyshire. Engines and components are also exported from the plant to other Toyota manufacturing centres in Europe, South America, South Africa and Japan.
SMMT : Britain’s favourite car colour is…white.
Who knew? But it’s true…figures released on Friday by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show white has retained its position as the UK’s most popular new car colour for the third year running, with demand growing 2.2% to 564,393 units. Of the 2,635,518 new cars registered in 2015, 21.4% were white, compared with less than 1% a decade ago.
Blue cars also enjoyed a resurgence in demand, with more than one in six people choosing the colour. Blue used to be the nation’s first choice of car colour in the late 1990s and, after a period of falling popularity at the start of the century, it has now seen three years of continued growth in demand.
Meanwhile, after eight years at the top between 2000 and 2008, silver continued its decline. It now makes up just over one in 10 new car registrations compared with its peak in 2004 when almost every third new car registered was silver. Overall, neutral tones continued to dominate, with black cars in second place after white and followed by grey, taking 19.4% and 15.6% of the market respectively.
Alarmingly, more buyers opted to stand out on the roads with brighter colours…
MAUVE – The number of people choosing mauve cars rose by approximately a third in 2015 (30%) to 12,414, taking the colour into the top 10 for the first time.
GREEN – Demand for green cars grew by 31.2% to 28,250 units to take its highest market share (1.07%) for five years.
ORANGE & YELLOW – Orange and yellow cars, meanwhile, also surged in popularity – up 25.7% and 12.7% respectively – with a total 30,187 people opting for the eye-catching colours.