Monday, 24 December 2012

Car of the Year 2013 shortlist announced

The annual Car of the Year 2013 shortlist has been announced, with the top eight cars launched in the past 12 months competing for the award that will be announced at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2013.

The eight nominees are listed below – the Mercedes Benz A-Class, Peugeot 208, Renault Clio, Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT 86, Ford B-MAX, Hyundai i30, Volkswagen Golf and Volvo V40 – along with our verdicts.

The stylish Mercedes A-Class has ditched its dumpy MPV styling and is now a proper rival to the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series, but there are some question marks over the interior quality, the ride and the expensive options..

The Peugeot 208, is stylish, well made and good to drive. However, it’s not quite as fun as a Fiesta and it’s more grown-up than a VW Polo.

The Renault Clio has attractive styling, great scope for personalisation options, and super-efficient engines, although the UK misses out on an estate model and the Clio isn’t as good to drive as others in the hotly contested supermini segment.

The rear-wheel-drive Toyota GT 86 and Subaru BRZ sisters are great fun to drive, competitively priced and have brilliant handling, although the engine is slightly gutless and there are a few questions over the interior plastics.

The Ford B-MAX tops the class, as much for the way it drives as its ability to swallow people and bags, although interior quality isn’t at VW standards and there’s only one auto option.

Bold styling, classy cabin and decent dynamics make new Hyundai i30 a serious VW Golf rival, but the ride is firm, the interior design is a bit fussy and residual values are poor.

The new VW Golf is an outstanding car, blending quality and efficiency better than many rivals. Any negatives? Not much...

The Volvo V40 offers stylish looks, tiny emissions and tonnes of safety kit. But the small boot, expensive flagship models and costly servicing count against it.

But which is your choice to win the coveted Car of the Year award? Let us know in the comments below:

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Winter Driving Tips this Chirstmas

Driving during the winter weather can make conditions unpredictable and dangerous. Essential Travel, one of the UK’s leading airport parking and travel insurance provider have created a Drive Safe Campaign – it’s made up of winter driving tips, winter kits, snow chains, exclusive discounts and a range of prizes to be won,

Some of some of the expert winter driving tips include:

  1. Prepare Your Car – It is advisable to have your car fully serviced but there are a number of checks you can do yourself. Lights, indicators, wiper blades, de-mister and brakes should all be in working condition. Winter screen wash and anti-freeze should be topped up and the battery should be fully charged.
  2. Stock Up on the Essentials – Anti-freeze, de-ice spray and an ice scraper should be basics in your car for the entire winter period. It is also worthwhile to keep a winter car kit in the boot, it can save your life if you find yourself stranded in the snow, a winter kit should contain a torch, shovel, traction mats, a reflective vest, water, blankets and jumper cables. There are a range of winter kits on the market for all budgets.
  3. Adjust Your Driving - Simple acts like braking, slowing down and speeding become dangerous during bad winter weather. Avoid harsh braking, rather slow down by decelerating. Move away in a higher gear to avoid tyres losing traction with the ground.  Increase gaps between you and the vehicle in front as stopping distances are 10 times greater in bad weather.  Signal early to allow those behind you to respond safely.
  4. If You’re Travelling This Winter – If you’re going away and plan to park at the airport it is imperative you pre-book your parking space. You’ll save up to 60% on the turn up rate and guarantee yourself a spot. Especially convenient during the winter is the Meet and Greet service. A chauffeur will meet you outside the terminal and drive your car to a secure car park and will drive it back to meet upon your return.   

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Ford C-MAX becomes the fastest selling hybrid at launch

The new Ford C-MAX has broken all records to become the fastest selling hybrid car at launch, scooping up a staggering 8,030 sales in its first full two months of sales in October and November.

A close second comes from the launch of the Toyota Camry Hybrid launched in 2006 with sales of 7,300 in its first two months. The new Ford C-MAX hybrids also are selling three times faster than the combined sales for the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight when launched in 2000.

"Dealers are seeing an overwhelmingly positive response to C-MAX hybrids and are excited to finally take on Prius, with some offering comparison test drives right on their lots," comments C.J. O'Donnell, group marketing manager, Electrification. "Our customers also are excited to have a fresh hybrid option, with leading fuel economy that does not sacrifice driving fun, performance and technology - choices typically not offered with hybrids."

Can Ford win the hybrid race? Post your thoughts below!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Aston Martin for sale

It seems that Aston Martin is up for sale after all. It’s largest shareholder, Investment Dar Company, has reportedly put its part of the company (64 percent) up for sale. Several suitors have been approached by the Kuwaiti company and it has even been rumored that the Rothschild Group has been hired to advise them during the process. There is not much info about the deal but according to Business Week, Mahindra & Mahindra and Toyota might be possible candidates for the British brand. Furthermore, Toyota has been rumored to have hired an auditor to conduct a preliminary review of Aston Martin less than two months ago.

Investment Dar is reportedly asking $800 (€629 / £503) million for their share which would allow them to recoup what they invested when they bought Aston Martin from Ford in 2007. Breaking even isn’t ideal from an investment standpoint, but Investment Dar reportedly needs the funds to reorganize $4.9 (€3.8 / £3.0) billion of debt after missing a payment on an Islamic bond in 2009.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Chrysler Group post sales increase of 14%

Chrysler Group LC today reported U.S. sales of 122,565 units, a 14 percent increase compared with sales in November 2011 (107,172 units), and the group’s best November sales since 2007.

The Chrysler, Dodge, Ram Truck and FIAT brands each posted year-over-year sales gains in November compared with the same month last year. The FIAT brand’s 123 percent increase was the largest sales gain of any Chrysler Group brand for the month. November marked Chrysler Group’s 32nd-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains.

Models that contributed to Chrysler Group’s 14 percent sales increase include the Fiat 500, the Dodge Journey full-size crossover, and the iconic Jeep® Wrangler sport-utility vehicle, each setting a sales record for the month of November. The Journey’s 77 percent sales gain was the largest percentage increase of any Dodge brand model in November.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

New Alfa Romeo 4C launch

Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, Alfa Romeo’s new concept coupé, the 4C, has caused quite a stir. Smooth curves, a wide body and a rear view that’s reminiscent of a beefed-up Aston Martin - this car is not one for wallflowers.

Set to go on sale this year, the new Alfa Romeo 4C is much more than just a sports car; it has been built to rival the Porsche 911, to lure those lovers of the sports car away from the notoriously high-brow brands with price tags to match. Boasting 0-60mph in around 4.5 seconds, acceleration is not something that this car lacks, and with engine noise as soothing as a purring cat, this car is nothing short of refined.

This impressive acceleration is partly down to the incredibly low overall weight of the car – the Italian car brand has worked hard to get this to less than 2,000lbs, and has achieved this enviable feat despite designing a car that looks weighty and strong. You’ll probably notice similarities between the new 4C and the Bugatti Veyron, and this is because the same company – Dallara – worked to design, develop and produce the carbon fibre components – Alfa are rolling with the big boys.

Boasting more than 200bhp, if you love speed and elegance in one impressive package, it’s probably time for you to find out more about the new Alfa Romeo 4C – it’s ahead of schedule and almost on the UK’s roads. Showcased in a deep red, when you’re browsing paint options, stick to classic sports car colours to really pick out the sweeping lines and attention to detail.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Ford Does the Business with New Mondeo

Ford is well aware of the popularity of the Mondeo among fleet managers. A model that provides a smart business solution during the week and a comfortable family car at the weekend, it has long been a common choice for business users.

It makes sense, then, for the automaker to release a version tailored to the needs of the fleet market. Enter the Mondeo Econetic Zetec Business Edition. With the emphasis on low running costs and comfort, the Business Edition sports a 1.6-litre TDCi diesel engine built at Dagenham and a well-constructed, cosy interior that proves comfortable even after several hours in the driving seat.

The new Ford Mondeo returns just 114g/km of CO2, meaning road tax is exceptionally low, while a combined fuel consumption of 65.7mpg means long journeys don’t have to be punctuated by so many fuel stops. For those who are concerned that all that economy might come at the expense of performance, fear not. The Business Edition handles beautifully, stays poised and soaks up bumpy surface conditions whether you’re on a winding country road or the motorway. The steering is perhaps a touch light, but it’s a minor complaint in an otherwise enjoyable drive.

Even the equipment is designed to cater to business users. The exterior is smartened up with chrome trims, 17-inch alloys and LED daytime running lights, while upgraded sat-nav, cruise control and privacy glass are also available.

Contact Ford Business Solutions at Essex Auto Group for more information .

Monday, 23 July 2012

The new Mazda MX 5 coming to UK

Mazda is hard at work designing its new MX 5, which promises a design and feel that harks back to the original MX 5 from the 1980s. The new model, which is expected on UK shores towards the end of 2012, has undergone an impressive redesign that’s intended to improve performance and handling, as well as offering drivers a thoroughly modern vehicle that’s at the top of the style stakes.

One of the standout changes of the new MX 5 will be the front bonnet design, which is designed not only to improve aerodynamic performance, but also to keep pedestrians safer. The innovative ‘active bonnet’ design automatically raises the trailing edge of the bonnet when impact with a pedestrian is detected. Also included is enhanced leg protection to make sure that any pedestrians hit by the new MX 5 will stand the best chance of walking away as unscathed as possible.

The new MX 5 will feature an exciting vacuum brake-booster, designed to optimise brake return control – particularly useful when braking upon entering a curve. The brake-booster is complemented by the new acceleration control, which kicks in when the driver accelerates after using the brake on a corner. The two features work in harmony to make braking more controllable, faster and smoother, giving drivers the most comfortable and enjoyable ride possible.

Inside, the new Mazda MX 5 will be a paragon of style and excellence, offering owners a sophisticated interior experience that they’ll love to be seen in. In addition, the steering wheel spokes have been redesigned to give the cabin a coordinated and uniquely chic feel. There’ll still be all the interactivity and easy-to-use controls that you’d expect from a Mazda, with an overall interior and exterior style finish that’s not unlike the car’s immediate coupé competitor models from MINI, Fiat and Chrysler.

The new MX 5 promises to be the top choice for drivers who want iconic style and fantastic handling when coasting down country lanes or navigating urban streets – although it’s still adept at tackling longer journeys and main roads. Get your hands on a new Mazda MX 5 when it hits the Essex Mazda forecourt at the end of this year.  

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Vauxhall Astra VXR

The new Vauxhall Astra VXR, Vauxhall’s latest contender into the performance hatchback arena, is set to take on many of its biggest rivals, including the all-new Ford Focus ST, the Renaultsport Megane 265 and the Volkswagen Golf GTI Edition 35. The Astra VXR appears to be the most promising of all of these models, boasting more power, more torque and more performance-boosting technology.

The base of the car is from the curvy three door Astra GTC, and the VXR adds a colour coded front grille, a more aggressive front spoiler, LED tail-lights and 19 inch alloy wheels as standard, making it sure to be a head turner. An additional option is the VXR Aero Pack, which adds 20 inch alloy wheels, a biplane rear spoiler and muscular side skirts for £995. Vauxhall predicts that eighty five per cent of customers will opt for the attention-seeking Aero Pack.

In addition to looks, the Astra VXR certainly packs a punch as well. The 2.0 litre turbocharged engine is capable of producing 276bhp and can accelerate from 0-62 miles per hour in 5.9 seconds, faster than the Focus ST, Golf GTI Edition 35 and the Megane 265. In terms of performance, the Astra VXR has a clever front suspension set up borrowed from the Insignia VXR, which makes the performance more accessible than ever. Plus, the VXR’s electro-hydraulic set-up on the steering helps the driver really feel the steering, which then feeds back exactly what is on the road, something that is becoming less common as manufacturers switch to less talkative electric power-steering systems. This can only be a good thing when it is considered how capable the VXR is in taking corners. It takes a lot of speed in bendy roads before the VXR will start to feel flustered. Despite the high performance, the VXR still manages to return 34.9 miles per gallon and 189g/km of CO2 emissions.

Prices start from £26,996 and Vauxhall aims to sell 1,200 Astra VXRs each year, a reachable goal?

Monday, 2 July 2012

UK new car market outgrows rest of Europe

I’m not normally the kind of person who keeps an eye on the economy, but the recent recession and economic downturn has got me interested. It is in my best interest for the economy to start growing again and the news of a double dip recession was not good. But, there is encouraging news coming from the Prime Minister and I hope he is right.

A good way to measure the UK Economy is by evaluating the property market and the automotive market. The property market is currently in a stalemate, where people don’t want to sell and buyers can’t get mortgages. Finance wise I suppose the automotive market is in a similar place, but according to reports fleet and businesses are not reselling their old stock as eagerly as they use to.
For most UK families buying a house is the largest financial commitment, buying a car is a close second. According to JATA Dynamics (automotive intelligence provider) the UK car market is outperforming much of Europe for new car sales. Total European sales were down 6.1% in April and 7.1% year-to-date.

JATA Dynamics breaks down Europe and indentifies five large markets, Germany, UK, France, Italy and Spain. Out of these five only the UK and Germany recorded increases, France recorded a small decrease, while Italy and Spain recorded significant declines in sales.

Although the UK automotive market is still down compared to 2011, April showed the lowest drop in month-on-month sales so far this year. The Volkswagen Golf and Ford Fiesta maintained their positions as Europe's top selling models. A Ford dealership and VW car dealers are a good place to be right now!
Here is the list of the top 10 brands for April 2012:

1.    Volkswagen
2.    Ford
3.    Renault
4.    Peugeot
5.    Vauxhall
6.    Citroen
7.    Audi
8.    BMW
9.    Fiat
10.    Mercedes-Benz

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The New Mercedes A Class - a luxurious alternative

If you are interested in the New Mercedes A Class then I would highly recommend visiting a Mercedes dealership to take the new A Class for a test drive around your local area. I recently did this and, by the end of the test drive, I was certain that it was the car for me and I purchased one immediately.

The New Mercedes A Class is a new offering from Mercedes that is designed to target younger buyers, and to compete with cars such as the VW Golf and Audi A3. My first impression of the New Mercedes A Class was that it has a very low roofline and detailed creases on the side of the vehicle. This makes this car look very sporty and it has one of the best exteriors of any Mercedes on the market.

The New Mercedes A Class is available with a range of engines including a diesel that produces emissions of less than 100g/km, which is the very first Mercedes to do so. There is also a 2.0 litre turbo version that produces 208bhp, called the A250. I chose to purchase the diesel version because of its low emissions, as I am a very environmentally conscious person and I am worried about our effect on the planet.

The New Mercedes A-Class is a pleasure to drive with handling that is both sharp, direct and also effortless. This makes this car a very good motorway cruiser but it is also good for nipping around town. The suspension does a great job of dampening the bumps in the road and the seats are so comfortable that you could probably get a good night’s sleep in the driving seat. The noise dampening is also very effective inside the cabin and you can barely hear anything from the outside.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Petrol SUV with diesel economy, the Mazda CX-5

A chunky compact petrol-powered two-litre SUV that can do the business on the road yet return more than 47mpg sounds a bit too good to be true.

Well, it’s not fanciful make-believe, but very much what’s on offer from Japanese manufacturer Mazda, which is now rolling out its new-from-the-ground-up CX-5 crossover.

Getting fuel consumption somewhere in the mid-30s is very much the norm for this type and size of vehicle, but to return figures normally associated with diesel power is simply mind boggling.

And it’s all down to Mazda’s high-tech SKYACTIV package, a raft of new technologies which reduces the vehicle’s overall weight by the use of high-strength lightweight steels for the body and chassis and the development of advanced engines with world-beating compression ratios mated to efficient transmission systems.

There is only one petrol engine reserved for the CX-5, a normally-aspirated, lightweight, all-alloy 162bhp two-litre unit, good for a top speed of 124mph. It is available with manual transmission only.

The start/stop engine is fitted with direct injection and with a compression ratio of 14:1, it has the highest compression ratio of any petrol engine in the world – better than that of any F1 racing engine – yet weighs 10 per cent less than Mazda’s outgoing two-litre engine found on the brand’s other model ranges and produces 15 per cent more torque while using a similar amount less fuel.

In entry-level SE-L trim, the CX-5 comes with lots of standard features, including 17-inch alloy wheels, climate control, electric windows, cruise control, Bluetooth, automatic lights and wipers, trip computer and six-speaker CD/radio sound system.

Move up to Sport trim and gain full leather upholstery, xenon headlamps a reversing camera, 19-inch alloys and an upgraded stereo. An integrated TomTom sat-nav system can also be added to both trim levels.

The CX-5 also comes well equipped in the safety department. Traction and stability control and anti-lock braking with electronic brake-force distribution and emergency brake assist are fitted as standard, as are front, side and full-length curtain airbags.

Also featured is Mazda’s smart city brake low-speed accident avoidance system which automatically brakes the car if it detects a collision is imminent.

Mazda’s are always a joy to drive and the CX-5 carries on the tradition. Quiet and polished on the hoof, the power delivery feeds in smoothly with little fuss, while the ride comfort is up with the best in its class.

More involved drivers will also enjoy the slick gear shift carried over from the evergreen MX-5 roadster.

Price-wise, the CX-5 is on a par with others in its class, but its superior fuel-economy and low CO2 emissions will give it a massive edge when it comes to running costs over the long term.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The New Ford B-MAX, revolutionary design (Video)

The new Ford B-MAX in all of it's pillar-less glory, the best automotive innovation Torque Auto have seen since wipers for your headlights!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Celebrity endorsments, the latest fleeting misguidance of the automotive industry?

If you thought the number of celebrity endorsements in the auto industry was peaking, then you’ll realise that you may have jumped on the wrong bandwagon. A new special edition Range Rover Evoque is on show for the first time today at Beijing’s 2012 Auto Show. But it’s not just any baby Rangie, no, it’s the posh moon buggy designed by Victoria Beckham.

The VB signature alone would probably be worth its weight in gold, but fear not as Mrs Becks has seemingly gone all out on a car which she already designed “from the ground up”. Yeah. Outside the special edition Evoque is finished in two-tone matt grey paint with a black roof, plus it’s fitted with 20-inch gloss black forged alloys and there are rose-gold touches on the front grille.

Inside, there are four Vintage Tan leather seats stitched in a baseball kind-of-style plus mohair (yes, mohair) mats aimed to be super soft and luxurious for your tootsies inspired by Posh Spice taking her shoes off in her father’s Rolls. There’s even a luggage set which fits nicely in the boot and an owner’s manual in leather with rose-gold bits.

Mrs Beckham’s Evoque has the range topping 2.0 all-aluminium petrol engine producing 237bhp through all four wheels mated to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. Standard kit includes an 825W Meridian sound system with 17 speakers, satellite navigation, surround camera system and park assist. Options include digital or satellite TV, digital radio, DVD playback and a 10-disk virtual CD player.

This 2 door special edition Evoque Coupe ain’t cheap. VB’s autograph coupled with the fact that there will be only 200 in existence means this will set you back £80,000. That’s nearly double the price of the top spec Dynamic model.

Other manufactures are taking note of this sure to be success story, Volvo recently enlisted the help of Jeremy Lin, whoever that is. I recently passed Volvo Chelmsford dealer, am I suddenly want to own a Volvo because of Lin?

What are your thoughts on this latest automotive trend? A fleeting misguidance or a sign of things to come? Comments below...

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The importance of social media to franchise dealerships

Ford dealers are ten a penny these days, so what sets these common dealerships apart and how do they survive in such a saturated Marketplace? Torque Auto looks at why these dealerships still operate and how they make a profit, we wrote here about the UK automotive economy on the up, they're governed by Ford so they can't undercut each other, can they?

No, in a nutshell.

Ford dealerships have a pre-determined location based target market. A contractual agreement between the dealerships and Ford, limiting their marketing and advertising reach and their marketing communications are heavily dictated by Ford.

Ford dealerships now tend to be owned by a dealership group. The benefits here being obvious, if one location is performing badly, another can help prop it up however, this is not a fufilling business strategy.

The only focus of franchise dealerships should be customer service and relations - thus why Social Media is so important. Would anyone care to disagree?

Monday, 23 April 2012

Part of the problem? Be part of the genuine solution

Today we travel into the shadowed world of auto parts, along the thistle road and under the iron bridge; we look at what is best for your car. Have you been tempted in the past by cheap non-branded parts, only to be stung 3 months down the line with a bill for a replacement plus damages incurred by its faults? Torque Auto would suggest buying genuine parts, every time, and here’s why.

Not all parts are created equal, and that’s why “the same parts” vary so much in price. But after shopping parts you can get a feel for what the average price should be for a particular part. Be wary of drastic differences: Higher isn’t always better but cheaper almost always means inferior quality. Brand parts for instance Ford Parts are created in fulfilment, therefore they have every part for your Ford car, always and probably at a close distance dealership, especially if you have a used car.

Let’s take a look at some of the common replacement parts and what the effects of “fixing it on the cheap” can be.

1. Brakes - Brakes are one of the most common repairs people have done on their cars, and one of the common areas in which corners can be cut. Brake shoes and pads are friction materials that rub against brake drums or rotors, slowing the rotation of the wheels. The friction material is usually made of a semi-metallic mixture (ground up metal mixed with other stuff). The friction materials of cheaper pads or shoes tend to contain more metal and thus are of a harder composition. Pads and shoes are bonded to a steel backing and in cheaper pads the bonding material is often inferior, unlike the more expensive pads that are riveted or bonded with a high quality bonding.

Poorly bonded brake pads and shoes wear out faster and can possibly fail to stop your vehicle for several reasons. The harder composition of the cheaper pads and shoes generates more heat when the brakes are applied and doesn’t dissipate the heat as well. This heat crystallizes the glue, which causes the pad or shoe to separate from its backing. The use of inferior glue speeds up this process in a vicious circle. In addition, the hard composition of the cheaper friction material tends to crack when heat is applied. To top it all off, the contact of the harder friction material on the drums or rotors wears out these parts more quickly.

In choosing drums and rotors, you should always buy the best products available. Cheap drums and rotors are made of sub-standard steel and therefore wear out prematurely, especially when they come in contact with sub-standard friction materials, as mentioned above. Rotor and drum warpage and premature wear are common when cheap parts are used in a brake job and warped rotors result in decreased braking performance, which is a safety hazard.

2. Batteries - In a cheaper battery, the case is less sturdy, the quality of the posts is compromised, there are fewer internal plates and poor plate connection can cause the battery to fail when it is subjected to vibration. Just because it “looks the same” as your old battery doesn’t mean that it matches the performance of your OEM unit. Furthermore, installing a battery that is rated at fewer cold-cranking amps than what is required by the manufacturer is just asking for trouble.

3. Oil Filters - The oil filter keeps dirt out of your engine, which is an important job if you want it to last. Quality oil filters have a check valve, designed so that the engine has oil pressure immediately upon cold start up, preventing wear. Many cheap filters lack this critical element, or even worse, don’t have the fine filtering media necessary to capture the smallest particles of dirt. This is not an area to try to save a few dollars.

4. Alternators/Starters/Water Pumps - Alternators, starters, and water pumps are the sorts of parts that, when they fail, can be rebuilt. When this is done right, the end result is pretty much a brand new part, although it is sold for less. Cheap rebuilt parts, however frequently lack attention to the details that result in dependable performance. The companies that produce low quality rebuilds replace only what is obviously bad and leave the rest, hoping the part will outlast its short warranty. Selling these sorts of parts as “rebuilt” is really a misnomer, as it would be more accurate to describe them as “repaired.”

5. Spark Plugs and Ignition Components - Spark plugs and ignition system components power the engine, and low quality products usually result in poor performance or a car that doesn’t run. Years ago I did an investigative report for a local TV station. It involved taking two GM ignition modules, one an OEM part, the other, a knockoff. Both units looked the same and had the same electrical connections and mounting configuration. Even the cases looked the same. But once I opened them up, the similarities came to a screeching halt. The OEM part was stuffed full of electronics, whereas the knockoff had a mostly empty case. You only had to look inside these units to understand the significant price difference.

We hope this helps guide your future part purchasing decision-making, share with Torque Auto your parts stories and tips!

Friday, 30 March 2012

Peugeot's new economic expert

With petrol prices oaring fuel consumption is now becoming increasingly more important when looking for a new vehicle. This is especially true for small companies looking to buy a works van as they can often clock up hundreds of miles.

It’s recently been announced that the Peugeot Expert is a leader in its class when it comes to CO2 emissions.  It’s a versatile and practical light utility vehicle. This model is available as an LUV compact van and as a private vehicle, making it extremely versatile. It’s got a spacious and model interior space that’s ideal for those who lead a hectic lifestyle.

It has a modern appearance, with a restyled front and it features a range of the latest technology which has not been seen in this segment before.

The new Peugeot Expert features a range of efficient engines which all meet the stringent Euro 5 emissions standards. The engines help to lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Despite the economical engines, they still produce plenty of power, which ranges from 90 to 163bhp. They also help to improve traction and grip thanks to the inclusion of a new range of safety features.

To help keep emissions low the new Expert features an aerodynamic design and other specific changes were made to help this model achieve record values.

The Expert Tepee is available with a range of different engine options and depending on which options to choose, you can transport between 2 and 9 people. It’s available in two different lengths, two different heights and with three different body heights. The load volume is 5, 6 or 7 metres cubed and the payload is a maximum of 1,200kg,

Having recently test drove this Peugeot in Southampton it was apparent that its power was definitely not compromised.

Kia Rio gets an update

Kia have released their latest version of the kia Rio. The Korean car company which is owned by Hyundai has always been looking into ideas of developing budget models which are reliable. The Kia Rio is priced from £10,595 on the road and has a combined miles per gallon rate of 88.3. The Rio however has a major rival, the Volkswagen Polo. It comes with a choice ot two petrol engines and two diesel engines which include a 1.1 litre EcoDynamic engine which produces the 88.3 miles per gallon.

There is a choice of four trim levels. They are called the 1, 1 Air, 2 and 3 which are similar to the trim names of the Kia Picanto. The base model Rio comes with electric front windows as standard and 15 inch steel wheels. The interior has a CD player and USB port. The entry level diesel engine doesnt have Bluetooth but the 1 Air trim model has air-conditioning for an extra £800.

The Mid-range spec, the Rio 2 has 16 inch alloy wheels as standard, front fog lights, electronic door mirrors and a leather trimmed steering wheel. Kia dealers usually stock more of the Mid-range specifications because of its high demand.

The Top specification Rio has sporty 17 inch alloy wheels complete with low-profile tyres. It has privacy glass and LED daytime running lights which are soon going to be compulsory on all UK production cars. It also has climate control and automatic wipers and headlights as standard. The petrol engines are capable of either 83bhp from the 1.25 litre engine or 107bhp from the 1.4 litre engine. The 1.25 litre Rio averages 56,5mpg. The 1.4 litre engine is capable of 51.4mpg. The diesel engines, the 1.1 CRDI is the entry level diesel engine and 1.4 CRDI averages 70.6mpg.

European dominance for Lexus in 2012

Luxury Japanese car maker Lexus is expecting European sales to boom in 2012 following a successful 2011. Last year, over 43,000 cars were sold in Europe, an increase of 40%, and this year Lexus forecasts sales to rise about 50,000. It is an ambitious target, as the overall luxury car market in Europe is expected to remain fairly flat throughout 2012. Lexus has made a few changes to its offerings, however, with a facelift given to its vehicles, new smaller models in its range, as well as more fuel efficient larger models, all of which are helping to drive its success.

Lexus has struggled particularly badly throughout the economic crisis, which hit back in 2008 and coincided with stricter controls on vehicle emissions, encouraging many motorists, including the crucial fleet buyers market, to downsize to smaller models. Lexus has traditionally sold larger cars with an emphasis on luxury rather than the environment and efficiency, but the changes it is making are helping to turn the company’s reputation around.

For example, the new RX 450h SUV, which was unveiled at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, has CO2 emissions below 150g/km, making it suitable for company car buyers. In addition, the introduction of the CT 200h has helped to put Lexus back on the map with European motorists. The new hatchback made up almost half of all sales in Europe for Lexus in 2011, with 17,000 vehicles sold, as Lexus explored a new market.

Lexus has traditionally been very successful in the US market, and hopes to regain its position as the best-selling luxury car company there in 2012 with the launch of nine new models. This will help the car maker achieve its global sales target of 510,000 vehicles in 2012 compared to 404,000 in 2011. The new CT 200h is available now at every Lexus dealer across the UK, and the new RX 450h SUV will be available later this year.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Mazda MX-5 Venture Edition

The best selling roadster in the UK is now available as a special edition, available both as the Roadster and Soft-Top. The Mazda MX-5 Venture Edition has an upgraded specification and interior trim and exclusive exterior colours. Whether it’s the roadster or the soft top, the MX-5 Venture looks stunning, especially in white!

The Venture model is based on the Mazda MX-5 SE and Sport Tech models, the Venture is available as a 1.8 MZR Soft-top (SE) and a 2.0 MZR Roadster Coupe (Sport Tech) and gets a dozen items of additional equipment over the standard versions. The extra kit in the special edition includes light gun metal 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, chrome front grille, piano black fashion bars and ‘Venture Edition’ badging.

As well as exterior enhancements the Venture model has some lovely interior touches, it comes with Havana Brown heated leather seats, a leather steering wheel and hand brake with contrasting grey stitching, matching door trim, climate control air-conditioning, piano black dashboard accents, alloy pedals and, for the first time on MX-5, satnav.

Mazda MX-5 buyers can choose from three colours; Metropolitan Grey Mica and two colours exclusive to this special edition, Radiant Ebony Mica and Crystal White Pearlescent. If you want one of these models you are going to have to be quick only 250 examples of the Venture Edition soft-top and 550 of the Venture Edition roadster will be available for UK Mazda Dealer

Prices for the special edition Venture model start at £18,995 for the 1.8 litre and £22,285 for the 2.0 litre model. With a new MX-5 model anticipated to arrive in the next couple of years the current model has become even more desirable, especially with the tweaks Mazda has been making. Mazda has been quiet about details of the new MX-5, some say it may come with a turbo charged engine.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Ford S-MAX Multi-Purpose Vehicle of the Year 2012

Ford launched the S-Max in 2006; it is a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) that sits under the newly launched Ford Galaxy and above the Ford C-Max. The S-Max is meant to be sporty like a saloon/hatchback and spacious like an MPV. It has taken many design inspirations from the Galaxy and C-Max.

The S-Max was the first Ford model to feature Ford’s new Kinetic Design, under the new design scheme the S-Max has angular headlights, twin trapezoidal grilles, and large wheel arches. One of the important and distinguishing design elements of the S-Max is its “Fold Flat System” which allows the second and third-row seats to fold seamlessly into the floor, leaving extra storage space.

The new Ford S-Max comes with either a Duratorq or Duratec engine – petrol and diesel. The engine choice is quite vast, the smallest petrol option is a 1.6 litre Ecoboost that has 115 PS, the largest petrol is a 2.0 litre with 145 PS. The smallest diesel in the range is also a 1.6 litre, it comes with 115 PS. The largest diesel unit is a 2.2 litre TDCI and comes with 175 PS.

Euro NCAP awarded the S-Max with 5 stars for its safety features. As standard it comes with Intelligent Protection System (IPS), three-point seat belts, optimised pre-tensioners, load limiters, anti-submarining seat subframes, a collapsible steering system and safety pedals.

Overall the S-Max has been received well by the automotive world, after its launch in 2006 it was named European Car of the Year 2007. Five years after it first went on sale it won the BusinessCar Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) of the Year award. 

BusinessCar editor Paul Barker said: "Ford's S-MAX has proved that family transport doesn't have to be bland to look at nor boring to drive, and the readers of BusinessCar obviously agree. The recent changes to the S-MAX further enhanced its appeal in the corporate marketplace, and this BusinessCar MPV of the Year Award reflects the high esteem in which the car is held."

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Ford Transit Awarded 'Van of the Year' 2012

Five trophies were picked up by Ford commercial vehicles picked at the annual awards presented by website Vans A2Z and the 'Van of the Year 2012' was awarded to the Ford Transit , whilst the Ford Ranger was awarded ‘Best Pick-up’ and the Ford Fiesta Van received the‘Highly Commended Small Van’ award.

Commercial vehicles director of Ford UK Steve Clary said "in a tough economic climate, operators are choosing Transit for its reliability and cost of ownership.

The latest models are saving operators hundreds of pounds in fuel, making them the most efficient, durable and technologically-advanced version of this iconic commercial vehicle so far.”

ECOnetic technologies available on new Ford vans include Auto-Start-Stop (which automatically shuts down the engine when at idle, and with the transmission and clutch disengaged) and 70mph Speed Limiter. There are also two new Ford Transit ECOnetic models with CO2 levels from as low as 173g/km an improvement of up to 8.5 per cent in fuel economy and emissions versus the original Transit ECOnetic. The latest Ford Fiesta Van ECOnetic has a class-leading 95g/km CO2.

Has anyone had any experience with the New Ford Transit? Let Torque Auto know your thoughts!

Monday, 26 March 2012

2013 Ford SHO Taurus

The new Ford Taurus SHO is the sportiest Taurus yet to wear the coveted performance badge. With its unique blend of the award-winning, enhanced driving dynamics, fuel-efficient EcoBoost engine and performance-inspired design, the new Ford Taurus SHO shows it means business. An unprecedented combination of technology, hosepower and fuel economy takes this acclaimed sporting sedan to a whole new level.

"The Taurus SHO has always followed the original formula of stealthy sleeper, and the new model is no exception," said Gordon Platto, chief designer. "We wanted to keep the subtle, understated, yet sporty elegance, but at the same time we knew it was time to even more fully differentiate the Super High Output model from other Taurus series models."

Inspired by club enthusiasts and SHO buyers, the design team knew just what to do.

"Listening to SHO buyers and enthusiasts encouraged us to strengthen the design and the driving quality for the new 2013 model," said Platto. "For us, this was a clear indication that SHO customers have passionate feelings about aesthetics and design as well as performance."

Torque Auto would like to know it we are going to see this fantastic new Ford here in the UK, whilst London Ford dealers anticpate a success

Friday, 23 March 2012

Skoda busy making babies, feels the cold

The Czech company Skoda have two new SUV’s in production it seems, the new Skoda Yeti MKII and the cooler cousin, the Skoda Snowman.

Due in 2014, the Skoda Snowman is larger than its older brother and based on the VW Tigan. It seems Skoda are still deciding on where to place the new vehicle in its current line-up. Its possible the coupe version will become part of the Octavia family. Skoda are also of thinking of using the name Grand Yeti, I’m not sure what sounds worse, but based on the current Yeti sales, we won’t be surprised if it flies off the showroom floor.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

UK automotive industry on the up

Yesterday Jaguar announced it would be creating 1,000 more jobs at its Halewood factory on Merseyside. This is on top of another 1,000 jobs confirmed for Jaguars Solihull plant earlier on in the year.  This will take the site’s workforce to over 4,500, more than treble than that of three years ago, whilst Jaguar dealers across the UK continue to expand.

Roger Maddison, Unite national officer, said: "Britain's car industry is bucking the trend of manufacturing decline. It is proof that with the right investment and support, UK manufacturing can be a success story."

This comes on top of more good news for UK motor industry as earlier in the week Nissan launched a joint venture £125 million investment program to manufacture a new model in the UK, creating 2,000 jobs.  The new Nissan Note will be built at Nissan’s Sunderland plant.

Ford have also proposed a £1.5bn investment in new ECO technologies, safeguarding over 2,500 jobs at six different sites across the UK.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Mazda shrink off $1.2bn losses

In the 2011 financial year Mazda reported losses of 1.2 billion and now it seems the business model outside of Japan is falling short of success as they report the latest job losses.

The latest in a long of hard knocks for the North American company, the loss of Ford Motors as a major stakeholder, the flamed Mazda CX-5 advert featuring Lorax, the sometimes negative effect of social media, #saveLorax and a fire sale of $1.9 billion worth of shares imminent to help raise capital.

Surely they could license the SkyActiv technology that Mazda offers, seemingly being received well received by reviewer’s, I know a couple of marques well behind on the Eco transition.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Volvo offer free holidays with new cars

It's not often I find myself jealous of our American friends over the pond but this offer from Volvo is probably worth emigrating for, maybe.

If you are a US resident and looking to buy a new Volvo, Volvo will fly both you and one other to their Gothenburg factory in Sweden, let you rally around the roads of Europe for a while in your new purchase, fly you back and deliver your shiny new Volvo to your local US dealer for collection. How much does this experience cost? Nothing, nada, not a penny. It's all on Volvo as thanks for buying a new car from us. Car manufactures are going to serious lengths to sell cars these days and if I lived in the US, i'd probably be won over. Better than saying I went to my local Volvo Chelmsford dealer anyway.

Check out their Facebook page for more info.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, 12 March 2012

Swedish House Effciency, the New Volvo V50

Buyers wanting to go green with a new Volvo V50 have two choices of the Swedish firm’s DRIVe model: one with the eco-friendly 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine and the other with the same engine but equipped with stop-start technology. Both models have the same 108bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine, which comes with 177lb ft of shove from just 1750rpm, and this engine has a revised electronic brain to improve efficiency. The low down punch makes the V50 very relaxing to drive as the power comes in gently but surely, while the five-speed manual gearbox has an accurate and light shift action. Acceleration is adequate rather than brisk, taking 11.5 seconds to get from 0-62mph, while top speed is 118mph. More importantly, the V50 DRIVe models both cruise comfortably on the motorway without resorting to lower gears when it comes to climbing steeper inclines. With the Start/Stop version, the engine switches off when the car is at a standstill and the driver selects neutral and takes his or her foot off the clutch pedal. This saves fuel and lowers carbon dioxide emissions without affecting the driving experience, while a gear shift indicator on the dash encourages the driver to select the best gear for economy.

The standard DRIVe version turns in 62.8mpg combined economy and 119g/km of carbon dioxide emissions to qualify for low-rate road tax. The Stop/Start model goes further with 72.4mpg economy and 104g/km CO2 emissions. Depending on which trim you opt for, the V50 DRIVe models attract between group 8 to 10 insurance ratings, while all models are covered by a three-year, 60,000 mile warranty. Every model comes with climate control, four electric windows, CD stereo and alloy wheels.

Whilst Volvo came out on top as the best used car to buy in this previous article, it seems they could be looking at dominating the new Eco car market too. Has anyone taken the plunge with the new Volco v50? What are your thoughts?

Skoda look to a postive 2012

2011 was an extremely tough year for the automotive industry with many manufacturers, let alone small independent car dealers, struggling to survive. The current economic climate is very unstable which has caused many consumers to sit tight and hold back from preventing them from splashing out on a brand new car. At least towards the beginning of the recession dealers had the scrappage scheme to help boost new car sales.

Those within the industry will be keeping a very close eye on vehicle sales and will be hoping to see a significant uplift. 

Skoda have already reported that their worldwide sales rose by 10.2 per cent to 75,000 vehicles in January, when compared with the same month last year. In fact, January 2012 was the best month the manufacturer have experienced in their 117 year history which is excellent news for them.

 ‘We achieved a lightning start and grew further in all sales regions in January. This was a perfect pickup and one that creates the basis for more growth this year,’ said Jürgen Stackmann, Skoda board member for sales and marketing.

‘The Skoda brand has good momentum. Our model offensive will really start rolling this year. We are continuing on the course of our 2018 growth strategy.’

Skoda saw a big rise in sales in the west of Europe, as they increased by 10.8 per cent to 29,300 units in January 2012. The manufacturer, who are now owned by the Volkswagen Group also set a new record last month in achieving over 3,700 new car registrations, which was up by an impressive 22 per cent when compared to the same period last year.

If you’re looking to buy a new car, why not head to your local Skoda Dealer Essex to take a closer look inside one of their popular new models…

Kia tests the waters

 Kia is a car manufacturer that Torqu Auto admire. Following its entrance into the UK market enjoyed a reputation as a cheap, unreliable and boring manufacturer. However, credit to the Korean manufacturer; following some intense marketing, the launch of an impressive 7 year warranty and, of course, the production of some decent cars, Kia now has a pretty decent reputation within the UK. 

Most manufacturers have cottoned on to the fact that in today’s market it is important to be innovative. Kia do not appear to have missed this either as they are launching their first electric vehicle into the Korean market. This comes shortly after they launched the Kia Ray into Korea, which is a 1.0 litre gas powered car. What’s more, they are soon set to release this very same model as an all-electric car.
The Kia Ray EV is a crossover vehicle which has been specifically designed for urban driving – ideal for Korea. The car will be able to accelerate from 0-62 mph in 15.2 seconds and will reach a respectable top speed of 81mph. It seems we have certainly come a long way from the first electric vehicles that were launched.

The quirky cars are pretty stylish too – the interior is modern and comfortable and features a seven inch navigation system which also conveniently shows the locations of the nearest recharging stations meaning you should never get caught short. 

The bad news is that there are no plans to make this car available in the UK. However, if the car does well in Korea there is bound to be pressure from your local Kia Dealer to make them available in the UK. 
The Kia Optima 2012 Superbowl advert

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Bentley SUV

It has been crazy trying to keep up with all the news from the current Geneva Motor Show now nearing its end, but the new V12 Bentley SUV has particulary caught our eye. I'll leave you and these pictures alone for a while.



Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Skoda Vision D: The Reality of Concepts

Last year at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show Skoda (VW) unveiled what looked to be a huge turning point for the company, the Vision D Concept car, this propelled Skoda’s sales to hit a record breaking high in the first 11 months of 2011.  I have already alluded to the success’ of  the modern day Skoda here, but instead of creating a hugely successful turnaround, this time they seem to be staying one step in front of the market, innovating at every level. We can only hope that later this year when the production model is unveiled and tested it performs as well as it looks, and offers the fuel consumption figures we are coming to expect of modern day cars. The anticipation for next months Geneva Motor show builds every day, as does the reputation of Skoda and everything a new Skoda offers.

Monday, 20 February 2012

New VW Golf MK VII spied (Pictures)

Torque Auto has got it hands on some pictures of the new lighter and safer VW Golf Mk VII in testing, before its unveil at the Paris Motor Show in October.

Constucted using a thinner and lighter (45kg less than the MkVI), but stronger steel, the new Golf Mk VII aims to be safer than any of its predecessors and competitors,

The reduced weight will help to improve emissions and economy, as will a host of new three and four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines - the highlight of which will be a 1.4 TFSI with cylinder deactivation technology.

The medium-sized family car will continue to be sold as a three and five-door hatch – with an estate and convertible penned in for the future. The MkVII will also gain equipment normally reserved for more upmarket models - including adaptive cruise control and a number of electronic safety aids. When it goes on sale in early 2013, expect to pay slightly more than the current car, which starts at £15,
With more aggresive, sleeker looks and an evolutionary design promised, we can't wait for the new VW Gold to be unveiled in October.


Thursday, 16 February 2012

Faster Ferrari California in Production

With the onset of the Geneva Motor Show next month, 'leaked' news has been steadily trickling in over the last few weeks, and this latest news is certainly worthy of a post. Ferrari have are due to launch a new faster and more powerful Ferrari California model, to be unveiled at the annual show next month. This has got Torque Auto very excited indeed, the California model is already a fantastic addition to the Ferrari line-up, both in looks and sheer mad driving experience, we can only assume Ferrari have gone insane. New exhausts and a remapped engine management system will pull another 30bhp from the 4.3-litre V8, whilst the torque figure will now stand at 372lb ft, obtaining a 0-60mph time of 3.8 seconds.

We certainly can’t wait to see what other surprises the Geneva Motor show brings, and to get our hands on this Ferrari!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Aston Martin DB5 to Return in 'Skyfall'

The original Aston Martin DB5, first seen in the 1964 classic Goldfinger, is set to return in the new Bond film, Skyfall. The DB5 has reportedly been seen filming a scene after it's latest fleeting appereance in the 2006's Casino Royale, even bearing the same number plate as in its 1964 debut, BMT 216A.

We at Torque Auto look forward to seeing the other car choices used in the film, of which they are usually a highlight of the 007 franchise, when it hits the cinemas in November 2012.

Monday, 13 February 2012

BMW M6 Revealed (Pictures)

BMW’s rival to the Jaguar XKR-S, the BMW M6 has been revealed today. The 10-litre engine has been replaced with a Turbo-charged V8 seen first on the BMW M5, delivering 552bhp and a 0-60mph time of 2.2 seconds for the Coupe, and 4.3 seconds for the convertible model, with a top speed of 189mph. Faster than the Jaguar XKR-S then…