New models with large boots putting their best foot forward

Wed, Mar 6, 2013, 00:00

Irish buyers have in the past tended to shun estates, certainly compared to our British and European cousins.

Well, we might, as a car-buying nation, want to start throwing off those estate car image shackles given that some of the best new models being shown at the Geneva motor show are of the large-booted variety.

Take the new Honda Civic estate, or Tourer Concept as it’s being called for now. Technically this is a concept as the final production version won’t be shown until the Frankfurt show later this year, but you can pretty much take it as read that the version that hits showrooms early in 2014 will look basically like this.

It will come with the new 1.6 i-DTEC diesel engine so emissions will be lower than 100g/km, and Honda is targeting best-in-class interior space thanks to the Civic’s clever packaging that sees the fuel tank mounted under the front seats and a space-saving torsion bar rear suspension setup.

It will have to deal with an estate version of the Volkswagen Golf, though. Fresh from last night’s crowning of the Mk VII Golf as European Car of the Year, VW didn’t waste any time in showing off the Golf estate. It’s a much more harmonious design than previous Golf wagons, and it’s a full foot longer (307mm to be precise) than a standard Golf hatch.

That means a massive 605-litre boot (seats up, 1,620-litres with them folded flat) and all the sophistication, refinement and comfort that the seventh generation Golf has been wowing us with since it was launched late last year.

A Golf, still handsome, but with a much bigger boot? Sounds like a winner.

Built on a carbon-fibre package, a material that continues to sneak into sports cars but is unlikely to make it into mainstream models anytime soon,the production Alfa Romeo 4C coupe is powered by a 240bhp 1.7-litre petrol engine with a six-speed twin-clutch transmission, a powertrain already on offer in the Giulietta.

Produced at the Maserati plant in Modena, if it’s as much fun to drive as it looks then the Italian brand could be onto a winner, but it really needs to revisit those front lights.

However, it’s unlikely to revive its fortunes in Ireland, with prices that could be in the order of €40,000 being mentioned.

Ooh, la la! New Ferrari – great looks, shame about the name

Yes, this is it and it really is called La Ferrari. Not F150. Not F70. Not even Enzo II. La Ferrari.

Whatever you think of the (faintly ridiculous) name, the LaFerrari will certainly punch as hard as you would expect of a range-topping, V12 hypercar. Its 6.3-litre engine produces an already heady 800bhp, but it’s tied into an F1-style KERS setup that allows an extra boost of 163bhp, taking power to 963bhp. That’s a lot, a heck of a lot, in a car whose weight is being quoted at a mere 1,200kg. Or about the weight of a basic Ford Focus.

Just 499 LaFerraris will be built, and each one will set its owner back a minimum of €1.3 million, and yes, that’s before taxes. And delivery. And number plates.

Of course, few LaFerraris will ever actually see the light of day, but will instead be squirreled away as part of private collections. Those that do venture out on to the public road (or the race track) can expect savage performance.

Ferrari is claiming a sub-seven-minute lap time of the Nurbirgring (performance that puts the car on a par with mid-1980s Le Mans racers, and that’s on standard road tyres).

0-100kmh should be dealt with in just over 3.0secs, but Ferrari doesn’t quote a top speed for the car, claiming such things simply don’t matter. Interesting.

The LaFerrari stole some of the limelight from its most significant new rival, the McLaren P1. The McLaren gets similar performance from a smaller (albeit turbocharged) engine and can run on pure electric power for brief bursts around town.

Ferrari says that pure electric running will be incorporated into the LaFerrari if customers demand it, but it won’t be standard. A stunning car if you can see past the silly name.

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