Aston Martin developing straight-six hybrid powertrain

Aston’s bespoke petrol-electric inline-six could replace the AMG-sourced V8 in future

Aston Martin is developing its own straight-six powerplant – possibly with hybrid tech – to eventually replace the Mercedes-AMG-sourced V8, according to a source close to the firm.

It is believed that work is already under way on the powertrain, which will be crucial to helping Aston meet tougher future emissions legislation. The most likely first recipient of the powertrain would be the soon-to-be-launched DBX crossover.

Aston Martin signed a technical partnership deal with Mercedes-AMG back in 2013. The deal allowed the British brand access to the AMG’s 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8, which today can be found in the DB11 and Vantage coupes.

However, Autocar understands that the engine-sharing part of the deal was only ever meant to be temporary while Aston engineers work on a straight-six, which could be derived from Aston’s current 5.2-litre V12.

Technical details of the engine are still firmly under wraps, but it looks likely to utilise hybrid technology developed through the brand’s Rapide E programme. While a full plug-in hybrid isn’t expected – Aston reckons the charging experience “isn’t premium enough” for its customers yet – it should still combine the performance expected of an Aston with efficiency unheard of for the brand.

Aston will to make use of the Mercedes-AMG deal for another few years yet, launching its hotly-anticipated DBX next year. That car will feature turbocharged V8 and V12 power initially, with a long talked about hybrid variant due early in the next decade. 

Read more: 

Aston Martin DBX shown in near-production form before 2019 release

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Aston Martin Vantage 2018 review



Source: Autocar Online

Renault will keep Carlos Ghosn in CEO role

Renault won’t follow Nissan in ousting arrested chairman as its internal investigation finds no wrongdoing

Renault’s board has voted to keep Carlos Ghosn as its CEO and chairman after an internal investigation finds no wrongdoing or illegal activity with regards to his pay. 

The move comes less than a week after Ghosn, who was removed from his role as Nissan director and chair, was formally charged by Japanese prosecutors for financial misconduct. He stands accused of under-reporting his income by around £34 million over five years, and misusing Nissan company assets.

Following a board meeting on Thursday, the French car maker revealed that preliminary conclusions of an ongoing investigation suggested that Ghosn’s compensation approval was “in compliance with applicable law”, and that it would “maintain the current governance measures”. Day-to-day running of the company was handed down to COO Thierry Bollore in November.

Renault, along with the stakeholding French government, has previous claimed Nissan denied the firm access to more detailed allegations against Ghosn. The revelations are reported to have created a rift between the two firms, which are also in alliance with Mitsubishi.

Ghost joined Renault in 1996 and was named COO of Nissan in 1999, after the French firm bought a major stake in its Japanese rival. Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa has since suggested the concentration of power within the Alliance will not be repeated, saying: “In the future we will make sure we don’t rely on a specific individual”. 

Read more:

Taking stock of Nissan’s claims about Carlos Ghosn

Dacia set to drop Renault badge



Source: Autocar Online

Porsche 911 '992' Carrera S: first ride

2019 Porsche 911 '992'

Our first experience of the eighth-generation 911 is reassuringly familiar – but that doesn’t mean nothing has changed under the skin

Whether it was the noise of the flat-six engine from behind, or the slight burst of oversteer as my driver attempted to apply that unit’s 444bhp through cold rear tyres, a ride around Hockenheim proved that much is reassuringly familiar about the new Porsche 911 Carrera S.

That’s entirely by design, of course. As Porsche’s R&D boss, Michael Steiner, notes, since it was first launched in 1963, the 911 has “been the main pillar of the brand”.

So the new 992-generation machine is understandably evolutionary, both in terms of design and driving dynamics. But don’t mistake evolution for a lack of change. As with the car’s design, which freshens the 911’s look while respecting the past, under the bodywork there are plenty of small details and changes. Porsche’s engineers believe that these, in the best spirit of ‘marginal gains’, add up to make a big difference. 

A good example of that is how the engine is mounted to the chassis. On every previous 911, dating back to the 1963 original, the engine was mounted via a bracket attached to the crankcase. But on the new car, it’s been mounted directly into the longitudinal members, around 20cm further forward.

New 992-series Porsche 911: details of mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions

That has been done to reduce the engine vibrations and improve stability. It does so by a matter of degrees, but when combined with the new lightweight yet stiffer shell (which uses significantly more aluminium), Porsche says it makes a notable difference.

How big a difference do all the improvements to the new car make? In Nürburgring terms, about five seconds: that’s how much quicker Porsche says the new Carrera S is around that track than the previous model.

While a 7min 25sec lap of the Nordschleife is impressive, our first chance to experience the finished version of the new machine (we previously had a ride in a late prototype) came at another German F1 track.

First impressions of the new Porsche 911

The design evolution is clear both when you see the 911 in the Hockenheim paddock and when you sit inside it. From the passenger seat, the 911 is comfortable and spacious. The new 10.9in infotainment system is notable, as are the two seven-inch digital display screens on the dashboard – but front and centre behind the steering wheel is a good old-fashioned analogue rev counter.

New Porsche 911 Cabriolet detailed in revealing spy shots

That balance between luxury and old-school sports car is key to the development of the new 911. “We wanted to make it sportier, but also more usable in day-to-day life,” said Steiner.

To achieve that, the 911 features a whole host of new digital and driver assistance systems, which are tuned to widen its performance window, from driver-focused performance at one extreme, to cruising comfort at the other.

So, for example, the new dual-clutch eight-speed PDK gearbox – the only unit available at launch – which Porsche says has been set for faster gearchanges at low speeds, and greater fuel economy at high speed.

If you use the throttle aggressively, it will automatically hold gears longer, and it uses GPS and data gathered from the car sensors to predict traffic, bends or hills ahead, adjusting the shift pattern to ensure maximum response.

At speed in the new 911 Carrera S

With a racing driver behind the wheel and on the wide expanse of Hockenheim, it’s very much the sporting end of the new 911’s performance window that I get to experience for a short ride.

We take one lap in Normal mode, which also helps to get the aforementioned cold tyres up to speed, before switching to Sport Plus. In that mode, you can feel the increased revs and effort of the twin-turbocharged flat-six 3.0-litre engine. With an extra 30bhp than previously and 391lb ft of torque at its disposal (up from 325lb ft), that unit provides plenty of momentum coming out of corners, and you can feel how the eight-speed dual clutch holds gears for longer, giving more response. 

The classic 911 balance is clear, and the new car’s more direct steering is reflected in the driver’s confidence as he lifts off the brakes and turns into corners.

The new 911 uses new tyres and differing wheel sizes: 20in on the front and 21in (and wider) tyres at the rear. This motorsport-inspired set-up, only previously seen in the previous-generation 911 on the GT2 RS and GT3 RS, is designed to improve the car’s balance and traction, and also to help balance tyre temperature better – always a key consideration on the rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive 911.

The Porsche 911’s new Wet Mode

Our run ends with a blast around a wet handling track, to showcase one of the new 911’s novel driver assistance features: a new Wet Mode. 

The car features a sensor located in the front wheel arch that detects spray thrown up from the road, pre-conditioning the safety systems and recommending to the driver to engage Wet Mode. When they do, the traction control and braking systems are increased, the brake balance is shifted forward, throttle response is dampened and the rear wing is deployed to maximise downforce.

We take a lap in Normal mode, the driver working hard to drive as badly as he can in the conditions, and experience plenty of sideways action – fun on a wide-open expanse of Tarmac, likely less so on a real wet road.

With Wet Mode engaged, you can feel how much harder the traction control and other systems work to combat attempts by our driver to get sideways, with a notable difference in the car’s wayward attitude.

Porsche says a considerable focus of the chassis and tyre development went into improving handling and safety in wet conditions, and that’s certainly demonstrated by the new mode.

Why the new Porsche 911 feels a welcome evolution

A few passenger laps of an F1 track and a wet car park aren’t enough to really judge a new car, of course, but they did provide a welcome first impression of the new 911.

That impression is of a car that is at once a step forward, while also remaining reassuringly familiar. There’s an added sheen of comfort with the development of the touchscreens and displays in the interior, and with the addition of new driver assistance systems.

Yet those systems appear to have been developed to give those who want to exploit its considerable performance the freedom to do so. Which, when we’re given the opportunity to try the new 911 from the driver’s seat, we very much intend to do.

Read more

New 2019 Porsche 911: eighth-generation sports car revealed

New Porsche 911 Cabriolet detailed in revealing spy shots

New 992-series Porsche 911: new details of mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions



Source: Autocar Online

MG to launch MG 3 budget racer

MG3 budget racer

The MG Car Club is hoping to attract more entrants to its championship events

SAIC interns have been tasked with preparing the supermini for MG Car Club racing events on a budget of £5000

MG has announced that it will launch a low-cost racing version of its MG 3 hatchback in early 2019. 

Interns at parent company SAIC Motor’s UK Technical Centre, in collaboration with the MG Car Club, have been tasked with preparing a 3 for track use with a budget of just £5000 as part of their internship project.

The increasing rarity of classic MG models, such as the Metro, and the difficulty and cost of maintaining a classic car in line with race track specifications has created a financial barrier for many prospective MG Car Club event entrants.

New club regulations allow any 3 model, including the current iteration, which was launched earlier this year, to compete in championship events, in a move aimed at attracting those on a more limited budget.

Any 3 converted under the new scheme will be eligible for entry into the MG Cup in 2019, with entrants under the age of 25 only paying half the standard entry fee, meaning a weekend of racing could cost just £300. 

Full details of modifications carried out haven’t been revealed, but proposed regulations for the Class A Road Going category allow for limited weight shedding and installation of performance parts such as GAZ adjustable damping components and a Scorpion exhaust system. 

Adam Sloman of the MG Car Club said: “Motorsport is a huge part of MG and the Club’s heritage, and we are very much invested in bringing new cars, drivers and young competitors to our grids in the future.”

Read more

MG 3 review

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Source: Autocar Online

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

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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

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

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