Love the hardware, hate the UI: The Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

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Source: Ars Technica

New Porsche 911 Cabriolet detailed in revealing shots

Porsche’s 992-generation 911 will be joined by another drop-top version in the first half of next year

Porsche revealed its eighth-generation 911 at last month’s Los Angeles motor show, and now the Cabriolet version has dropped all of its disguise in new spy shots.

The drop-top is due to arrive in the next few months as more variants of the 911, including the faster GTS and Turbo models, are slowly added to the range. The first prototype in these shots is sporting a bold green paint scheme, available to order as a special colour on the hard-top.

As with the coupé, there will no longer be two body widths offered on any 911, with all cars matching up to the previous wide-body option on higher-spec models. The standard car has grown in every significant dimension too. 

As expected, the Cabriolet retains the folding fabric roof system from the outgoing model, and the design is broadly similar. The engine range will also be identical, launching with a Carrera S and Carrera 4S using a turbocharged flat-six engine delivering 444bhp. Further variants may be offered at launch if they are added to the hard-top beforehand.

Pricing of the Cabriolet has yet to be confirmed, but traditionally the bodystyle adds around £9000 to the list price of the coupé. That would mean a PDK-equipped Carrera S would be pushed over the £100,000 mark. We can expect more details closer to the car’s launch. 

Read more 

First ride: 2019 Porsche 911 prototype

2019 Porsche 911: new video shows 992 Carrera 4S at the Nürburgring

2020 Porsche 911 GT3 spied in near-production bodywork

 

 

 



Source: Autocar Online

New BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe: revealing spies preview four-door's design

BMW’s Porsche Panamera rival is set to arrive in the middle of 2019, after two-door coupe and convertible 8 Series

BMW is set to extend the 8 Series range with a four-door Gran Coupe version, and new spyshots show the car with minimal disguise.

The model takes over from the market position occupied by the old 6 Series Gran Coupe, and is directly aimed at cars such as the Porsche Panamera and Mercedes-Benz CLS. It’s shares its mechanicals and underpinnings with the 8 Series coupe, but with an extended wheelbase and raised roofline offering more passenger and luggage room.

The new spy images show the design is a familiar adaptation of the coupe and convertible, with the undisguised front end looking largely identical and a recognisable rear shape. It’s not clear yet, however, whether two or three rear seats will be offered – the coupe is a strict two-seater. 

The engine range of the Gran Coupe will also mirror the rest of the 8 Series range, with a 316bhp 840d diesel entry point and the 532bhp M850i xDrive both available from launch. Later on a flagship M8 version will be offered, using a 4.4-litre twin turbo V8 producing upwards of 600bhp. It’s not clear yet if the even more powerful M8 Competition will transfer to four-door form, but at the bottom of the range we should see a lower-powered petrol eventually offered. 

The two-door 840d is priced from £76,000, so expect the Gran Coupe version to edge towards the £80,000 mark in base form. We’ll see the Gran Coupe revealed in full in the first half of next year, with UK cars likely to arrive by late autumn. 

Read more:

BMW M850i xDrive 2018 review

BMW 3 series 320d Sport 2019 review

BMW M8 Competition leaks out ahead of 2019 unveiling



Source: Autocar Online

The most important man at VW you've never heard of

Volkswagen catering

Volkswagen head of catering Hern Cordes has a lot on his plate

We meet the man tasked with fuelling the 62,000 employees at VW’s Wolfsburg plant

Volkswagen, as with many major car companies, is a vast operation. In Germany alone the firm has six production plants and employs more than 130,000 people. And in order to ensure they’re fuelled to make millions of cars each year, they all need feeding.

That’s a massive logistical challenge, and the man responsible for it is Hern Cordes, Volkswagen’s head of catering. He heads up a department of around 850 people, whose primary mission is to ensure good quality food is available to employees whenever it’s needed.

“We like to take care of our employees,” says Cordes. “Our bosses believe that if we treat them the best, they will be more productive and make the best cars. We aim for the quality of food you’d see in a top London restaurant.”

Volkswagen’s main Wolfsburg plant, which sprawls over 6,500,000 square metres, has more than 62,000 employees. To feed them, the site features 17 staff restaurants, a number of ‘self-service’ shops and even some mobile food vans. The majority of the food sold in those sites comes from VW’s Service Factory, which produced 13,803,370 portions of food in 2017.

With so many staff to feed, and production line workers given precise 15- or 30-minute breaks, getting the food in the right place and the right time is a huge effort.

“To make the plants as efficient as possible, we have to make sure every employee is close to food, beverages and things like newspapers,” says Cordes. “When we’re planning a new plant, we really think about the employees and how they get to food quickly.

“We’re feeding people 24 hours a day, seven days a week and at any time they might want a salad, a fresh juice or currywurst, so we need a really flexible operation.”

That’s why VW developed self-service shops close to production lines, allowing workers to quickly grab refreshments. It’s also why the firm has reworked every canteen to ensure it offers natural light.

The best-known item produced there in the Service Factory is Volkswagen’s currywurst, which has become so popular it’s sold in local supermarkets. It’s also offered in every staff canteen – always offered with chips and ketchup.

But while the currywurst is a staple, the Volkswagen menu has changed substantially in recent years. “There’s been a big change towards vegetarian and vegan food,” says Cordes. “Around 30% of the food we serve is vegetarian. But we always have options: so we have salad, and offer bacon on the side.

“We have one line of healthy food on offer each day, but if you are working hard on a production line you need calories, so we think about that too.”

Cordes says that the firm puts such emphasis on quality that it wants employees to have their main meals of the day at the plant – and the shops even sell portions for staff to take home in the evening. Volkswagen has also committed to subsidising half the cost of all the food it sells.

But the hospitality department isn’t solely concerned with filling the canteens. The department has the contract to provide catering to the stadiums of the VfL Wolfsburg and Eintracht Braunschweig football teams, and works with the events team to plan catering for major Volkswagen events and car launches.

That often includes special food items. “When we launched the Golf GTI at Wörthesee one year, we produced a special black version of our Golf-shaped pasta,” Cordes says.

Cordes’s team is currently helping to plan the catering for next year’s launch of the eighth-generation Golf. While he won’t reveal what’s on the menu, he insists that food is as important to the launch of a new Volkswagen as it is to the marketing of them.

“Food is one part of a big event,” he says. “It’s part of the storytelling. VW is known for quality and service – and not just in cars.”

Autocar was given exclusive access to the Volkswagen Service Factory to find out the secrets behind the firm’s currywurst. Read the full story in this week’s 164-page Autocar double issue.

Click here to subscribe, or digital copies can be downloaded from Zinio and the Apple iTunes store

Read more

Inside Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg production plant​

Picture special: Autostadt – inside VW’s theme park for cars​

The mountain decides – behind the scenes of the 2018 Pikes Peak Hill Climb​



Source: Autocar Online

Insight: what fuels Volkswagen's production line?

Volkswagen catering

Volkswagen head of catering Hern Cordes has a lot on his plate

We go behind the scenes at Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg plant, to find out what’s on the menu for its 62,000 employees

Volkswagen, as with many major car companies, is a vast operation. In Germany alone the firm has six production plants and employs more than 130,000 people. And in order to ensure they’re fuelled to make millions of cars each year, they all need feeding.

That’s a massive logistical challenge, and the man responsible for it is Hern Cordes, Volkswagen’s head of catering. He heads up a department of around 850 people, whose primary mission is to ensure good quality food is available to employees whenever it’s needed.

“We like to take care of our employees,” says Cordes. “Our bosses believe that if we treat them the best, they will be more productive and make the best cars. We aim for the quality of food you’d see in a top London restaurant.”

Volkswagen’s main Wolfsburg plant, which sprawls over 6,500,000 square metres, has more than 62,000 employees. To feed them, the site features 17 staff restaurants, a number of ‘self-service’ shops and even some mobile food vans. The majority of the food sold in those sites comes from VW’s Service Factory, which produced 13,803,370 portions of food in 2017.

With so many staff to feed, and production line workers given precise 15- or 30-minute breaks, getting the food in the right place and the right time is a huge effort.

“To make the plants as efficient as possible, we have to make sure every employee is close to food, beverages and things like newspapers,” says Cordes. “When we’re planning a new plant, we really think about the employees and how they get to food quickly.

“We’re feeding people 24 hours a day, seven days a week and at any time they might want a salad, a fresh juice or currywurst, so we need a really flexible operation.”

That’s why VW developed self-service shops close to production lines, allowing workers to quickly grab refreshments. It’s also why the firm has reworked every canteen to ensure it offers natural light.

The best-known item produced there in the Service Factory is Volkswagen’s currywurst, which has become so popular it’s sold in local supermarkets. It’s also offered in every staff canteen – always offered with chips and ketchup.

But while the currywurst is a staple, the Volkswagen menu has changed substantially in recent years. “There’s been a big change towards vegetarian and vegan food,” says Cordes. “Around 30% of the food we serve is vegetarian. But we always have options: so we have salad, and offer bacon on the side.

“We have one line of healthy food on offer each day, but if you are working hard on a production line you need calories, so we think about that too.”

Cordes says that the firm puts such emphasis on quality that it wants employees to have their main meals of the day at the plant – and the shops even sell portions for staff to take home in the evening. Volkswagen has also committed to subsidising half the cost of all the food it sells.

But the hospitality department isn’t solely concerned with filling the canteens. The department has the contract to provide catering to the stadiums of the VfL Wolfsburg and Eintracht Braunschweig football teams, and works with the events team to plan catering for major Volkswagen events and car launches.

That often includes special food items. “When we launched the Golf GTI at Wörthesee one year, we produced a special black version of our Golf-shaped pasta,” Cordes says.

Cordes’s team is currently helping to plan the catering for next year’s launch of the eighth-generation Golf. While he won’t reveal what’s on the menu, he insists that food is as important to the launch of a new Volkswagen as it is to the marketing of them.

“Food is one part of a big event,” he says. “It’s part of the storytelling. VW is known for quality and service – and not just in cars.”

Autocar was given exclusive access to the Volkswagen Service Factory to find out the secrets behind the firm’s currywurst. Read the full story in this week’s 164-page Autocar double issue.

Click here to subscribe, or digital copies can be downloaded from Zinio and the Apple iTunes store

Read more

Inside Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg production plant​

Picture special: Autostadt – inside VW’s theme park for cars​

The mountain decides – behind the scenes of the 2018 Pikes Peak Hill Climb​



Source: Autocar Online

Nissan Qashqai 1.3 DIG-T 160 Tekna 2018 UK review

Nissan Qashqai 2018 UK first drive review - hero front

Downsized engines and revised infotainment keep the nation’s favourite crossover competitive

A year on from its mid-life facelift, the second-generation Nissan Qashqai is comfortably still the country’s most popular crossover – but this is a rapidly growing corner of the market, and competition is fierce.Rivals were beginning to eclipse the class-defining Qashqai with more dynamic handling and more up-to-date infotainment – although not, it must be said, with higher sales. So, to maintain its position at the top, Nissan has fired back with a focus on technology and a brace of new engines.There’s now a single petrol, a 1.3-litre turbocharged four-pot, which replaces the 1.2-litre and 1.6-litre units. It’s available in two states of tune, and both versions are more efficient than the engines they replace, with improved fuel economy and lower emissions courtesy of a petrol particulate filter. Plus, they are tuned to deliver more torque at the lower end of the rev range – something lacking in the old 1.2.The more potent 158bhp engine can now be mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, a first for any mainstream Nissan and following in the tyre treads of the flagship GT-R supercar. It is the model tested here, in top-end Tekna trim.The petrol is joined by a 1.5-litre diesel at launch and will be followed by a 1.7-litre oil-burner in early 2019. The latter will reintroduce a CVT transmission to the range, along with four-wheel drive. All petrol models are front-wheel-drive only.

Source: Autocar Online

12 cylinders, 11,000rpm: Aston Martin’s new engine is a monster

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Source: Ars Technica

Audi confirms replacement for jailed CEO Rupert Stadler

Former interim CEO Bram Schot named management board chairman as part of “cultural change” at the brand

Audi has appointed Bram Schot, who took the role of interim CEO at the firm in June, as chairman of the board of management.

Schot took the reins from former CEO Rupert Stadler in the summer after Stadler was imprisoned in connection with the Dieselgate emissions scandal. Stadler’s employment was terminated with immediate effect, putting an end to his 28-year career at the company. 

Stadler was released from pre-trial detention in late October, despite a Munich court originally rejecting his appeal for release citing a “danger of obstructing justice”. He remains a suspect, despite claiming to have no knowledge of the decision to install illegal emissions-cheating software in Audis and numerous other Volkswagen Group cars.

Schot, who was born in the Netherlands, was formerly president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz’s Italian operations, before moving to the VW Group. His previous role was head of marketing and sales for the brand’s commercial vehicle arm. 

VW Group CEO and Audi supervisory board chairman Herbert Diess said in a statement: “With the appointment of a new chairman of the board of management, we have laid important groundwork for Audi’s future orientation. As interim CEO, Bram Schot has already done a convincing job in recent months. He is pushing forward with the cultural change in his team and is effectively tackling the current challenges.”

Read more 

Greed, lies and deception – the Dieselgate scandal laid bare

Audi hit by £700 million fine for diesel emissions scandal

Volkswagen: we’ll continue to produce combustion engines after 2026

 



Source: Autocar Online

Daimler buys €20bn worth of battery cells for electric car onslaught

Mercedes-Benz aims to have 130 electrified model variants on sale by 2022, alongside electric vans, buses and trucks

Daimler has taken a major step forward in its electrification strategy by ordering “more than €20 billion” worth of battery cells for EVs.

The order, which is expected to see the Mercedes-Benz brand through to 2030, is part of a plan to have “130 electrified variants of Mercedes-Benz cars by 2022”. Alongside this, the company confirms it will be selling electric vans, buses and trucks in the next four years.

New Mercedes-Benz EQC: all-electric SUV revealed

Daimler joins fellow German firms BMW and the VW Group in putting forward a multi-billion euro electrification plan, which will also see the brand investing in a global network of battery assembly plants, with three to be installed in Germany, one in China, one in Thailand and one in the US. It’s not yet clear which companies will be supplying the latest order, but Daimler has contracts with a number of Korean and Chinese suppliers. 

Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche previously confirmed that it will offer an electrified version of every Mercedes-Benz and Smart by 2022 – but at the same time launched a defence of diesel engines.

Speaking at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show, Zetsche confirmed that Daimler’s Smart brand would offer an ell-electric range by the end of the decade. Zetsche added: “By 2022, we’ll have the entire Mercedes-Benz product portfolio in electrified version as well, to offer a maximum of choices for our consumers. The time is right.”

Zetsche also echoed Volkswagen Group chairman Matthias Müller in arguing there was still a place for diesel engines. After admitting the German motor industry had suffered “a loss of trust” in the public view of its ability to provide sustainable mobility, Zetsche noted Daimler was investing €3bn on new diesel engine technology.

Zetsche added that the firm had already developed what he called “the diesel of the future”, which he claimed had already overcome the concerns of the strongest critics. Zetsche said that the world “needed” diesel engines “to meet our climate targets”, and added his belief that “public discourse has become more rational” about such engines.

Read more

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Mercedes EQ S to be flagship in £9bn electric model blitz



Source: Autocar Online

Dacia set to drop Renault badge

Duster is one model to retain the Renault logo in some markets

Design boss calls for complementary ‘sensual’ Renault and ‘Germanic’ Dacia brands

Renault’s design boss, Laurens van den Acker, says the firm will phase out the use of Renault-badged Dacia models in certain markets – a move that he says will free up the Romanian brand’s cars to take on more individual designs. 

Dacia models such as the Duster, Logan, Sandero Stepway and Dokker are sold as Renaults in markets such as Russia, Mexico, South Africa and India. 

“My goal is to have a unique global Renault line-up,” said van den Acker. “Cars that are Renault derivatives of Dacias, I want that to stop. 

“I can’t argue with the business sense to do it, because Renaults were expensive for some markets and Dacias were relatively modern cars that were reliable and affordable, so we rebadged them. It helped us gain a foot in those markets. But now we start to sell more cars in markets such as Russia, we will start to differentiate.” 

The Russian-market Kaptur – which looks similar to the Captur SUV but is a larger car built on a Duster platform – was the first Renault developed specially for emerging markets, followed by the recently unveiled Arkana crossover. 

The one Renault-badged Dacia that will remain is the Duster because it is one of the firm’s bestselling cars in most markets, said van den Acker. The second-generation Duster is currently being introduced around the world. 

Van den Acker added that phasing out Renault-badged Dacia models will further liberate the design of future Dacias. He said that the “next-generation Dacia is going to be great”, adding: “We’ll try to be clever. I’m pushing Renault to be very Latin and sensual, and Dacia to be Germanic and robust. This strategy is working great for us.”

Read more

Dacia Duster review

Megane-sized electric car crucial to Renault’s EV plans​

Renault Captur review



Source: Autocar Online

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