AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
There’s a new mid-engined supercar in town and it hails from Great Britain, but it’s not from the likes of Aston Martin, Bentley or even Noble.
Driving in downtown London may be getting a little more difficult. There’s talk of banning older cars from parts of the UK capital if they don’t meet certain emissions requirements.
Hybrid technology isn’t just a Japanese specialty anymore, everyone is jumping on the electric bandwagon from the Detroit three to German automakers. Even the British are investing in cutting-edge batteries and motors.
London’s world famous department store will have a MINI Goodwood on display from April 8 to April 22, celebrating the delivery of the first customer cars. Co-developed by the infamous Rolls-Royce design team, the car features luxurious amenities that would normally be seen in a Rolls-Royce.
You may think America has its fair share of uninsured motorists on the road, but out in the United Kingdom one out of every 25 drivers do not carry insurance. That equates to an astonishing 1.4-million people that law enforcement has had a tough time cracking down on.
The UK government has decided to step in hoping to curb the problem by installing cameras at gas stations and parking lots. Thanks to their automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system working in conjunction with CCTV cameras, the government will be able to track down all the uninsured motorists in their country.
The hope is that the cameras with the ANPR system will be able to quickly check whether or not a car getting gas is insured or taxed. If either of those are missing, the system will automatically shut down the pump – possibly leaving the vehicle’s owner stranded. What happens after that though would be an interesting scenario, especially if it happened in America.
The UK government plans to meet with representatives from major fuel companies to discuss whether or not this is a good idea. So far the idea has been met with criticism and skepticism; fuel companies fear that gas station cashiers could be in danger from angered motorists while insurance companies are playing devil’s advocate in the scenario where the system doesn’t instantly update that a motorist had renewed their insurance.
[Source: Mirror News]
BMW enthusiasts in the United Kingdom will get to enjoy a Limited Edition 500 model of the current-generation M3 Coupe and Convertible.
Limited to 500 units, the special edition mostly features aesthetic accessories including dark-chrome details on the double kidney grille, side fender plates and a quad-tipped exhaust setup. Additionally, it comes with the popular BMW high-gloss Shadowline exterior trim and 19-inch glossy black wheels. Buyers may choose from Imola Red, Mineral White and Santorini Blue paint — coincidentally the three colors found in the U.K. flag.
BMW outfitted the M3 500 interior with Novillo leather and color-matched stitching to the exterior of the car. The interior trim will be piano black but will be further accented with a laser-cut dash plaque that designates “one of 500.”
The same 420-hp V8 powerplant mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed M DCT remains under the hood.
Surprisingly, the M3 500 is reasonably priced with the Coupe package starting at close to $88,900 (£55,690) while the convertible will cost about $95,400 (£59,785). While that’s difficult to compare to U.S. figures on a standard M3, the Limited Edition 500 is only about $1,600 (£1,000) more than the standard M3 coupe and convertible price.
Audi is introducing their new line of bi-turbo diesel engines that will make their way into several A6 cars and the A7 Sportback.
Those included in the list are the A6 sedan, A6 Avant, Allroad Quattro and A7 Sportbacks. Next spring U.K. customers can look forward to those cars sporting the option of Audi’s most powerful V6 diesel to date. The 3.0-liter bi-turbo oil burner will have 309 horsepower and 479 ft-lb of torque. That will be enough to propel the A6 Quattro from 0-60 mph in just 5.1 seconds, while the A6 Avant and A7 will get there in 5.3.
There isn’t any news on those cars making their way across the ocean just yet, but Audi did well in the U.K. last year, selling 14 percent more vehicles than they did the previous year. Audi says part of their plan to continue that upward trend is to invest more money in new products for what looks like a hungry market.
While this is little more than speculation, it doesn’t seem that outlandish that Audi might decide to bring those products to market in North America. An A6 diesel has long been rumored for the US, but the date keeps scooting out of sight.
Hopefully the new engine will sell well in the U.K. and encourage Audi to expand its distribution. That said, we won’t be surprised if it takes a long time or just doesn’t happen at all. Afterall, we’re still staring at the A1 with envy as the clock ticks by. There’s also already a diesel engine being sold in the US, albeit one with only 225 horsepower, sold in the Q7, and soon to be available in the Q5 CUV and A8 sedan.
The controversial London (UK) Emissions Zone strikes again, this time with more stringent smog rules due to come into effect on January 3rd, 2012.
These new regs will require that all heavy goods vehicles (essentially large trucks, buses and other specialist vehicles like mobile cranes) entering London be Euro 4 emissions compliant, otherwise their operators will face fines of £1,000 (around $1,600) or a daily charge of £200 (roughly $300).
For drivers of smaller commercial vehicles, such as light delivery vans like Ford Transits and Mercedes Sprinters, their vehicles will have to meet Euro 3 emissions requirements or risk fines of £500 (approximately $800) or a daily charge of £100 ($160).
However, for small businesses and independent tradespeople operating within the city limits of London, the new regs are yet another fly in the ointment, as they eliminate the ability to operate older vans (those more than 10 years old), without facing hefty fines. To make matters worse, officials are taking a hardline stance on the issue.
“The penalties are such that non-compliance is simply not an option,” said Natalie Chapman, head of the UK Freight Transport Association’s Policy for London.
Given that so far, London’s Low Emissions Zone has had a marginal effect on reducing pollution in the city, putting added strain on the shoulders of small businesses, especially at a time of economic austerity in Britain, is hardly sound thinking when it comes to government policy.
Geely will make their first foray into the notoriously tough British market in 2012, hoping to emulate the success of Korean brands like Hyundai.
While Geely already helps produce the iconic London taxis, the company will face an uphill battle regarding the vehicle’s perceived quality. Their first UK offering, the EC7 compact car, will cost 10,000 GBP (roughly $15,581 USD) and feature a five-year, 100,000 mile warranty.
Geely is looking to recruit 30 to 40 dealers and sell about 1,000 cars in 2013, with a new model added for the next 4 to 5 years. Geely will be based out of Coventry, where the office of Manganese Bronze Holdings’ London Taxi Company (its partner in London Taxi production) resides, but Geely will remain separate from its subsidiary Volvo Cars.
[Source: Automotive News]
Keep an eye on Lotus over the next six years, they just won a bid for this round of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF).
Lotus CEO Danny Bahar said in a press release that the money will help the company refresh its line of sports cars with best in class performance and emissions.
The RGF is meant to support projects and programs in the UK that will support private sector growth. A long list of companies competed for a share in the discretionary fund worth about $2.25 billion. Lotus got official confirmation from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills that they are among the accepted.
Bahar said that “this is a very significant boost to local communities, and the Regional Growth Fund will help businesses like Lotus to drive local growth.”
The funding will help Lotus further development of its new line up sports cars, including a next-generation Elise and Exige, as well as the new Esprit (above).
GALLERY: New Lotus Esprit
Chrysler has launched their first two re-badged Lancia product in the UK (where the Lancia brand has been defunct for a number of years), with a pair of hatchbacks based on the Lancia Delta and Ypsilon compact and subcompact cars.
The Ypsilon shares a platform with the Fiat 500 and will be available with the 900cc TwinAir two-cylinder turbocharged engine, as well as a 1.2L 4-cylinder and a 1.3L diesel engine. The Delta is about the size of a Ford Focus and can be optioned with either 1.4L, 1.6L or 2.0L engines.
Hit the jump to see the official press release
Gallery: Lancia Delta & Ypsilon
Auto enthusiasts who enjoy gaming will be happy to know that Top Gears Jeremy Clarkson will be spicing up Forza Motorsport 4, as he will be featured in the XBOX 360 game. Top Gear UK and Microsoft have been working to create a partnership between the witty British motoring show and Forza Motorsport.
The partnership will consist of Clarkson writing and vocally recording his own witty takes on a series of cars ranging from the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG to the McLaren F1. Players will be able to listen to Clarkson’s reviews of cars in the game when choosing a vehicle to use.
Interestingly, Forza 4 will also allow players to enter virtual showrooms where the user can open car doors, examine wheels and look under car hoods. Dan Greenawalt, a developer of Forza Motorsport 4 said, “We thought about how people want to interact with cars, to move around one, open the doors, kick the tires,”. “Our goal with this is to turn gamers into car lovers, and car lovers into gamers”, according to Greenawalt.
Video game and auto enthusiasts can expect to see Forza Motorsport 4 out on October 11 in the U.S.
[Source: New York Times]
Tracker surveyed the 10 most stolen and recovered cars in the UK. Rather unsurprisingly, the entire list is comprised of luxury vehicles, including the BMW M3 and Audi RS4. And there’s something to be said about how much the British love German cars: every vehicle on the list is Teutonic. Click the jump for the full list.
The Suzuki Kizashi may have enjoyed critical acclaim (and rightly so) but it’s sales figures have never been stellar. Suzuki is planning to sell the Kizashi in the UK later in 2011, and while Suzuki only plans on selling 500 units, it’s difficult to imagine the car being anything more than a low-volume curiosity.
With only a 2.4L 4-cylinder, a CVT gearbox and all-wheel-drive, the Kizashi will go up against fully loaded players like the Vauxhall Insignia and Ford Mondeo, two established cars beloved by buyers on the other side of the pond. A lack of a diesel option will also hurt Suzuki, but the company thinks that the AWD system will allow it to attract buyers who may gravitate towards Subaru and AWD Vauxhall models. We wish them luck. They’ll need it.
The Noble M600 has been a long time coming. So long in fact that one might think the car has already been on sale for years. However, the final production version has just been unveiled by Noble and the first customer units should be delivered by April 2011.
The specs look incredible. The M600 weighs just 2,640 lbs. yet it develops 650-hp from a 4.4-liter, twin-turbo, V8 (originally a Volvo unit). That means it has a better power-to-weight ratio than a Bugatti Veyron.
Launch this 6-speed manual gearboxed, mid-engined, rear-wheel drive supercar properly and you can sprint from 0-60 mph in just under 3.0 seconds, and it will keep accelerating until it maxes out at 225 mph. Astonishingly, it can sprint from 0-120 mph in just 8.9 seconds, which should be enough to annoy most of the established supercar marques.
So on the track, it will be a monster, but to make it more docile for street use, Noble has fitted the M600 with a power control switch, so you can dial in 450-hp, 550-hp or 650-hp at the turn of a knob. Noble says this is to help make the car more usable, especially in wet weather. To further help with keeping the car on the road, the M600 does come with a traction control system. The brave-hearted ones can turn the traction control off completely by pressing a button under a flap – the same flap that hides the missile launch button in a Tornado jet fighter. Maybe Noble is hinting that their car is more like a weapon!
Mechanically, the production M600 is identical to its prototype sibling, but there have been changes along the way. For instance, now the entire body is made from carbon-fiber, which makes the car lighter and stronger than before. Other changes include red accents on the grilles and vents, and new sill kick plates which carry names of everybody working at Noble, including the receptionist.
While Noble has not announced any pricing yet, they did mention that they have 52 firm orders for this car already. Since they are also building left-hand drive examples, let’s hope some M600′s will make their way into the U.S.A.
Having a little fun in their own backyard, Lotus has lent out a brand new Evora to the UK Police Force, more specifically the Central Motorway Police Group. Lotus’ hot new sports car features the traditional British Police flair on the exterior, including neon yellow accents contrasted by a dark, rich blue.
The themed Evora was introduced at this week’s Autosport International Show, and upon the show’s closing the keys will be handed over to West Midland’s police force who will put the Evora to the test for two weeks.
Gino Rosato, Director of Corporate Operations at Lotus comments: “Lotus is proud to take part in this and similar initiatives to help create a safer road culture for our customers and other road users. We believe that you do not have to compromise fun for speed and to that effect we build sportscars that are fun to drive within legal limits! We will be working with Officers from CMPG to teach them how to get the best from the Lotus Evora at our test track to ensure that any high-speed activity is as safe and effective as possible.”
PC Steven Rounds from, CMPG said: “The Lotus is a visually stunning machine which offers us the opportunity to engage with the public, reinforce and promote the life-saving messages of road safety.”
GALLERY: Lotus Evora UK Police Car
This might just entice some people to have some run-ins with the law. Police forces over in the United Kingdom have enlisted the help of BMW, adding BMW’s customized X3, X5, 3-Series and 5-Series to their police fleet. Motorcycle cops get to hang out on BMW’s R1200 RF-P motorcycles. All of the vehicles are actually built to police specs at the assembly line process, rather than modifying a stock vehicle off the showroom floor.
Obviously details on the car’s setups aren’t mentioned, but for the 5-Series they do use a 530d platform while the 3-Series is a 330d (nice!). The X3 sports an xDrive20d tag while the X5 comes in both Drive30d and xDrive40d models.
We guess the more entertaining aspect to all this is that breaking the law could give you a free ride on a luxurious BMW 5-Series sedan. Imagine if American cops were sporting E90 335s around town, lights blaring, turbos spooling.
GALLERY: BMW UK Police Fleet
Hale, UK Police seized this yellow Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII after its driver was stopped for “driving erratically” and arrested for DUI. Normal police procedure, in the UK requires the officers wait for a transporter to tow a seized car to impound, but not this time. The two officers decided to drive the car themselves, and, well, the photos show what happened next.
The officer behind the wheel lost control at what appears to be very high speed, and ended up rolling the car on a local man’s lawn. One of the officers suffered minor injuries, and clearly their superiors will be launching an investigation into their behavior. Evo carnage gallery after the jump:
[Photo Credit: LancerRegister]