Motors »

  • Hyundai’s new arrivals

    March 31, 2011 @ 9:25 am | by Michael McAleer

    We were in Frankfurt, Germany yesterday to try out two new Hyundai cars, the i40 and the Veloster.

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    The i40 is going to cost around €25,000 and will come with two 1.7-litre diesel engines with 115- or 136hp.

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    The Veloster is a car that Hyundai Ireland weren’t even considering introducing at first, but it looks like it will be a real hit with Irish buyers. It probably won’t come to Ireland before 2012 in right hand drive form. We tried it with a fairly tame 1.6-litre petrol engine yesterday but it is likely to be available with some turbocharged units. It has a very willing chassis, good steering and plenty of room in both front and rear and of course, that clever door set up which means that people with kids can actually buy a coupé!

  • Car advert nostalgia – TV Gold

    March 23, 2011 @ 3:54 pm | by Michael McAleer

    Car television adverts aren’t what they used to be. Since it is Wednesday why don’t we take a trip down memory lane and have a look at some classic car ads? Long before the Mondeo, there was the Ford Sierra and here is a classic ad from the 1990s.

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    When Audi wanted to bestow the virtues of its quattro all-wheel drive back in the 1980s, this was how they did it.

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    And this collection shows the Vauhxall Nova, the Volkswagen Jetta and Noel Edmonds showing us around the new 5-door Austin Metro and Austin Maestro and Montego Estate. “Driving at its best” was Austin Rover’s tagline at the time. Seriously?

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    And you have to love this ad for the Nissan 280Z.

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    The pride they have that this Nissan has “no options!” is nearly as impressive as the actors. Aussies know what they like and local car brand Holden cleared up any doubts you might have.

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    And this one for the Fiat Ritmo was an absolute classic showing how robots were changing the way cars were being built. It was shot on the roof of the old Fiat factory.

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    Many will say that this 1980s advertisement for the Golf GTi is one of the best ever though.

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    And finally, Renault has long had a reputation of telling a story while they sold their cars. Here’s an example, perhaps more relevant than all that Sophie/Papa melodrama.

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    What are your memories of car adverts? We would love to know.

  • Motors goes charity karting

    March 20, 2011 @ 8:08 am | by Michael McAleer

    Motors is in Collon in County Louth for a charity endurance kart race. It is a very wet and windy morning and I have been asked to take part in what will be a 9am -6pm endurance race in Intrepid karts. I am and never will be a racer, but my line of work sees me asked to do such things from time to time and in the interests of charity it is hard to say no, although I wish I had now!

    Setting up

    The day will involve lots of pros and a few novices (that would be me) doing their best to kill each other in aid of Temple Street Hospital as well as a number of other notable charities.The karts themselves are really good and actually really fast, much faster than the ones you usually comes across when you pay a few Euro and get ordered about by some angry looking teenagers. This is different. This is proper karting where teams arrive in trucks and mechanics fiddly with suspension settings. What the hell am I doing here?

    My Kart for today

    Whiteriver Park in Collon, Co Louth

    We have been out for our first stint and all has gone well so far. The object of the race is that the winner is the team who competes the most laps so consistency is key. I am certainly not fast but then again I never did claim to be but I haven’t left the circuit and that is some achievement in my books.

    The race marshall has flagged me for apparently not putting my hand up when I was coming into the pits. I did, so now I am annoyed. Mr Wall, may I suggest a visit to Specsavers. On my team there is Mark and there is Peter, Mark is about 18 and Peter probably about 11 and they have two things, make that three things that I don’t. One is raw talent, two is experience (which includes some national championships) and the third is that they totally lack fear. It is wonderful to watch. They fling the car about like it is connected to them, while I am driving it like it wants to bite my legs off.

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  • BMW’s new i3 breaks cover

    March 10, 2011 @ 2:41 pm | by Michael McAleer

    BMW recently announced the launch of its new sub-brand, BMW I, for its future electric models, along with a suite of added electronic services. The latter will include features like identifying unoccupied parking spots in your area, details on the latest shows on in theatres you may pass, and a host of other features. The key element, however, will be the new cars.

    First up for 2013 is the i8, an electric sports car based on the Vision concept that has been on demonstration tours globally for a year now.

    The other car is the i3, a small city car that is based on the MegaCity concept. The car itself has not been shown, apart from initial photos of its subframe. However, an i3 has been caught during the the filming of a BMW-TV production in Scandinavia.

    BMW plans to sell up to 30 000 i3s in its first full year of sales in 2014. The official unveiling of the i3 production version along with the i8 hybrid supercar will take place in 2013. Both models will be built at the Leipzig plant and ride on the firm’s “LifeDrive architecture” which has an aluminium chassis and a carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger cell. The i3 is expected to produce well over 130bhp from its electric motors.

    First sightings of BMW's new i3 electric model, due for official launch in 2013

  • Geneva motor show live: VW’s big plans

    March 1, 2011 @ 12:59 pm | by Michael McAleer

    Volkswagen are now established as the powerhouse of the European motor industry, boasting a portfolio of brands under its ownership that stretches from Bugatti to Skoda with potentially more to come.

    But at the heart of the action remains the eponymous brand and it isn’t hiding behind the more luxurious brands in terms of challenging for a showstopper at Geneva’s auto show. One of the most fetching concepts on display is the new Bulli, based on the legendary minivan from the 1960s that became synonymous with free love and the faint whiff of a certain type of handrolled cigarette.  

    VW's new Bulli concept

    The Bulli concept may seem like a rather boxy minivan but with its big badge up front and smartly styled wheel rims that imitate white wall tyres, it offers a surprisingly spacious, airy cabin capable of carrying six. It will hopefully herald the arrival of a production car in the not too distant future.

    The Bulli's new interior boasts a host of connectivity features

    Aside from its various engineering and design traits, the Bulli is simply cute. In keeping with the eco-principles of the 1960s owners, the new Bulli is powered by an electric motor with a promised range of 300km on a single charge.

    VW Bulli concept can seat six, with three up front.

    Those figures, of course, cannot be substantiated as the car is a concept. VW claims at fast-charging points, the recharging process takes less than one hour. It also claims a 0 to 100 km/h in 11.5 seconds, and its top speed is 140 km/h (electronically limited).

    New VW Golf cabriolet: soft-top roof folds away in 9.5 seconds

    Of more immediate interest is the introduction of a new Golf Cabriolet, the soft top variant most popular in the coastal states of the US. The Golf’s soft top opens in just 9.5 seconds and can be opened while driving at speeds of up to 30 km/h. Even with the roof stowed away, the bootspace on offer is still a reasonable 250 litres.

    The firm has also introduced a new Tiguan to the range, a small SUV that hasn’t set the Irish market alight in the face of stiff competition from the likes of the Nissan Qashqai. The new model boasts a revised front nose design and significant upgrades to all its interior switchgear and features.

    Finally, a new Passat Blue­Motion variant has been unveiled, powered by a 1.6-litre turbodiesel (TDI) engine with 105bhp and fuel consumption in saloon format of 4.2 l/100 km. Emissions levels for the new powertrain is expected to be below 110g/km, putting it firmly in tax Band A in Ireland, with a motor tax charge of just €104 a year.

  • Geneva motor show live: Alfa’s new sports car

    @ 12:12 pm | by Michael McAleer

    Alfa's new 4C: Officially a concept but due for sale in 2012

    Alfa Romeo may still be at the centre of a courting exercise by the VW Group, but it’s playing hard to get and remains determined to plough its own furrow, albeit within the Fiat family.

    The stylish Italians have unveiled an eyecatching new concept supercar, the 4C, which it promises will go into production virtually identical to this car by next year. Powered by the same four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that features in the recently launched Giulietta Cloverleaf, 4C is a two-seater with a carbon-fibre monocoque that lets it weigh in 50kg lighter than a Fiat 500. Peak power has yet to be determined but top speed will exceed 250km/h and the 0-100km sprint will be dispatched in less than 5 seconds. As with most new Alfas these days, it will feature the firm’s DNA driving mode system, with three optional driving characteristics. Expect the car in Irish showrooms by the end of next year.

  • Geneva motorshow live: Lamborghini Aventador

    @ 11:16 am | by Michael McAleer

    The show may be all about electric models and environmental care, but it’s still the sight of a full-blooded Lamborghini that sets a petrolhead’s heart racing.

    The new Lamborghini Aventador

    The new Aventador LP 700-4 boasts the razor-sharp exterior styling of a stealth bomber but the compact and solid lines that suggests the car is cut from a single block of steel. In reality, the gleaming bodywork cloaks some of the most advanced developments in carbon fibre production of any car firm to date.

    On sale this summer, the Aventador – named after a famous fighting bull from Zaragossa in Spain – has a lightweight monocoque made from carbon-fibre. Power comes from a new 12-cylinder with 6.5 litre engine putting out 700 bhp and boasting a 0-100 km/h time of just 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 350 km/h (217 mph) 

    The new Aventador LP 700-4 boasts the razor-sharp exterior styling of a stealth bomber but the compact and solid lines that suggests the car is cut from a single block of steel. In reality, the gleaming bodywork cloaks some of the most advanced developments in carbon fibre production of any car firm to date.

    On sale this summer, the Aventador – named after a famous fighting bull from Zaragossa in Spain – has a lightweight monocoque made from carbon-fibre. Power comes from a new 12-cylinder with 6.5 litre engine putting out 700 bhp and boasting a 0-100 km/h time of just 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 350 km/h (217 mph).

  • Geneva Motor show live: Toyota’s new Yaris hybrid

    @ 10:29 am | by Michael McAleer

    Toyota will offer a hybrid version of the next generation Yaris range next year. It’s just one of a host of new model due in 2012, that includes a hybrid seven-seater people carrier under the Prius nameplate, and it’s long-awaited return to the sports car market with the impressive looking FT-86. These will be followed later by an electric version of the IQ city car, which will offer a range of 105km on a single charge.

    The brand is reporting strong results in the latest quality ratings and reliability surveys, particularly in Germany and is determined to repair any reputational damage from last year’s recalls. The fact the firm has been cleared of any electrical problems with braking issues by the US transport safety authority, NTHSA, is further proof, says the brand’s executives, that there is no fundamental problems with the Toyota range.

    The new Yaris is shown as a concept, but the car will enter production in France early next year. It follows on from the introduction of a hybrid version of Auris, due for Irish launch in autumn this year and we can expect hybrid variants of all the model range in the coming years.

    For all the focus on hybrid and electric power, the star of the Toyota stand lies to the side of the main stage. It’s the FT-86, due for sale late next year and truly one of the most beautiful cars at the show. While it still carries the “concept” tagline, the word is that this is as close to production as the concept term can come. We can’t wait.

  • Geneva motor show live: Ford’s new B-Max

    @ 10:09 am | by Michael McAleer

    Ford's new B-Max: a direct rival to the Opel Meriva

    Ford is introducing a new small people carrier, the B-Max, a direct rival to the recently launched Opel Meriva. Slightly larger than a Fiesta it boasts rear sliding doors and no b-pillar (the central side pillar between the driver and passenger doors).

    Ford B-Max may have rear sliding doors and more functionality, but the firm is adamant the Fusion has a future...

    That makes side loading and entry a breeze and it’s a very smart trick, for the front a rear doors operate independently. In many ways it’s an improvement on the Meriva in that rear sliding doors make it easier to access in tight car parks than Opel’s reverse-opening format. The aperture with both doors open on the B-Max is 1.5 metres.

    Due in Ireland early next year, the folks at the blue oval brand are at pains to deny that this is a replacement for the Fusion, but clearly it’s going to devour whatever following that car has had, particularly as it’s more stylish and practical than the boxy Fusion.

    Inside and the car takes many of its design cues from the Fiesta, matching its nice interior styling and switchgear with a spacious cabin.

    Expect to see the car in showrooms early next year, when it will also boast Ford’s new 1-litre three-cylinder petrol ecoboost engine. No details as yet on this engine’s output but expect it to be powerful enough to feature in the Focus lineup as well and with emissions below 99g/km.

    The new B-Max will be followed with an all-electric version of the Focus, due to be introduced across Europe by the summer of next year.

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