News: Citroen C3 Pluriel Charleston looks back to 2CV for colour

Citroen C3 Pluriel Charleston fq2

Citroën has released first details of a special edition of its convertible supermini, the C3 Pluriel – The Charleston which will be unveiled at next month’s Paris Motor Show.

The C3 Pluriel Charleston, based on Citroen’s unique convertible, fashions a contemporary reinterpretation of a design theme that once decorated Citroën’s famous 2CV – a stylistic nod to one of the most iconic cars in history, which this year celebrates its 60th birthday.

With a blend of nostalgic and contemporary styling the C3 Pluriel Charleston might strike a chord with 2CV fans – its bold two-tone colour scheme of black and Bordeaux red will only be for the high-end of the Pluriel range with premium touches throughout such as gloss-black fittings, leather upholstery and chrome trim. Also fitted as standard are 15″ aluminium wheels which feature red embellisher centres.

Ford: Ford Falcon XR8 FG 2008 Review

ford-falcon-xr8-fg-fq

You can have the Ford Falcon XR8 in any one of a number of deodorant-named colours like Seduce, Octane, Sensation, Breeze and Nitro (which is the blue colour of our test car). And you need it because the XR8 will likely leave you with sweaty armpits if you unleash all 290kW and 520Nm of torque provided by the 5.4-litre Boss V8.

If the 245/45R18 tyres could tell a story it would involve smoking and screaming, but try this in an urban area and it’ll be less the Lynx Effect and more the Lynch Effect. For some people it’s bad enough someone has a noisy V8, without them showing it off.

But I don’t mind offending the precious and sensitive members of this fair nation when I’m driving a car that has a definite purpose: to transport a family and tow things. The XR8’s combined fuel consumption is 14l/100km and there’s 334g of CO2 per kilometre — not that flash compared to an econobox motor, but in line with other towing vehicles. The XR8 will tow 2300kg as long as the trailer is braked (more than some SUVs and crossover vehicles), and that’s enough for a pretty significant boat, caravan or horse float.

It’s the torque that makes the difference, and there’s a visual reminder of it all the time while driving. Peering over the bonnet’s power bulge from the driver’s seat is like standing on the top of a mountain with a snowboard strapped to your feet. You know that over the edge there could be a dramatic increase in speed and potentially some real carnage if you get it wrong.

But that’s not going to be the case. The Falcon rides well, and handles very nicely. Despite the large V8 and its associated bulk at the front end it actually seems to be more neutral than FPV’s GT at speed, and the only noticeable ‘pushing’ into the corners are lower speed tight turns. Though, turn traction control off and it’s easy enough to provoke oversteer.

Acceleration swells pleasantly as revs rise, and it’s only punctuated by smooth changes in the ZF 6-speed automatic gearbox. You can take over the gears with sequential sports shift — sometimes this is handy because the XR8 anticipates your driving style and with spirited motoring will sometimes leave you in a low gear for longer than you need.

Brakes grab sufficiently when you need them, though you have to push through a dead patch in the pedal to get any significant feel — this may have happened if they weren’t bedded in properly.

Ford has done a lot of work on the interior ergonomics and functionality since the BFII range. The stereo now gets a much better and more intuitive graphics package, displayed on a seven-inch colour screen. A six-disc MP3-compatible CD changer is mated to an eight-speaker 150W amplifier and subwoofer package, providing a solid wave of sound throughout the car. I’m not a big fan of the heater and air conditioning controls though, preferring dials as opposed to buttons for temperature and fan control.

This new FG Falcon is the first Australian-built car to receive a five-star safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). It scored 34.6 out of 37 points, and was awarded five stars for occupant safety. Ford performance over 5,000 simulated crash tests and 426 full vehicle-representative physical crash tests during development.

Supporting the structural integrity are driver safety features such as Dynamic Stability Control (which includes traction control and electronic brake assist), ABS and electronic brake force distribution to make sure the maximum braking power is going to each wheel.

Steering feel is reasonably good for a large sedan. The more expensive Fords have a steering wheel that feels good to hold, and the XR8’s features controls for the audio and cruise control, which have been revised to make them easier to use and less intrusive when steering the car.

The overall driving experience of the XR8 is one of effortless cruising power, with the ability to hustle (to an extent) down a more challenging road. The engine tone isn’t intrusive (if you want it to be, there are plenty of aftermarket exhausts that will liberate the V8 Supercar within), the seats are supportive, and the driving position perfect. It does all this without breaking a sweat.

For full specs of the Falcon XR8 click through to the next page.

Price: from $52,290 base model (our car had the optional leather interior)

What we like

  • Bold styling
  • Interesting colours
  • Smooth power delivery
  • Excellent safety rating
  • Cruise control buttons and functionality are better

What we don’t like

  • Brake pedal lacks feel unless you’re really pushing it
  • Reversing sensors are standard in a sub-$20,000 Kia, so why not in the XR8?
  • Air conditioning controls require some learning or you’ll be taking your eyes off the road to achieve the right temperature/fan setting

Engine/Transmission

Feature Falcon XR8
BOSS 290 5.4L DOHC 4V V8 S
ZF 6-speed automatic transmission with Sequential Sports Shift S

Ride & Handling

Feature Falcon XR8
Virtual Pivot Control Link Front Suspension S
Sports Control Blade Independent Rear Suspension (IRS) S
18″ x 8″ XR 5-Spoke Alloy with 245/40 R18 tyres S
19″ x 8″ XR 5-spoke alloy wheels – 245/35 R19 tyres O
Full size alloy spare wheel S
Limited slip differential (LSD) S

Exterior

Feature Falcon XR8
Unique XR front bumper S
Sports body kit – side skirts and rear bumper S
Sports rear spoiler S
Front fog lamps S

Instrumentation and Controls

Feature Falcon XR8
Human Machine Interface (HMI) with Interior Command Centre S
Multi Function Display including distance to empty, average speed, outside air temperature, average fuel consumption, speed warning S
Cruise control with steering wheel mounted switches S
Steering wheel mounted audio controls S
Sports leather wrapped steering wheel S

Comfort and Convenience

Feature Falcon XR8
Single zone automatic climate control S
Front and rear power windows S
Automatic headlamps ON/OFF feature S
Power adjustable side mirrors S
Alloy pedal covers S
Remote keyless entry with two remote control flip keys S

Seating

Feature Falcon XR8
Cloth trim sports seats S
Leather trim O
Adjustable driver’s lumbar support S
Adjustable passenger’s seat lumbar support S
4-way power driver’s seat S
60/40 split fold-down rear seat back S
Centre rear arm rest with cup holders S

Audio & Communication

Feature Falcon XR8
Premium audio system with 7″ colour display, AM/FM radio, 6-disc in-dash CD and 8 speakers plus 150 watt amplifier and sub-woofer (total 112 watts) S
MP3 CD capability S
3.5mm auxilliary audio (iPod) input S
On glass radio antenna S
Satellite navigation system O
Technology Pack: Bluetooth® mobile phone & iPod integration3 O

Safety & Security

Feature Falcon XR8
Driver & front passenger airbags S
Front seat side head/thorax airbags S
Pyrotechnic seatbelt buckle pretensioners S
Advanced restraints module S
Driver’s seat position sensor S
BeltminderTM System S
Dynamic Stability Control incorporating S
- Traction Control S
- Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) S
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) S
Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) S
Reverse sensing system O
Reverse camera O
Driver fatigue warning S
Childproof locks – rear doors S
Central Locking S

Optional Packs

Feature Falcon XR8
Technology Pack: O
- iPod Integration O
- Bluetooth® mobile phone integration O
XR Luxury Pack O
- Leather trim O
- Premium audio system with 7″ colour display, AM/FM radio, 6-disc in-dash CD and 8 speakers plus 150 watt amplifier and sub-woofer (total 112 watts) O
- 19″ x 8″ XR 5-spoke alloy wheels – 245/35 R19 tyres O
- Dual zone automatic climate control O
- Premium sports interior appearance O

Engine

Feature Falcon XR8
Engine Type (Automatic) Boss 290 5.4L DOHC 4V V8
Engine size (cc) (Automatic) 5408
Compression ratio 10.5:1
Maximum power (DIN) 290kW @ 5750rpm
Maximum torque (DIN) 520Nm @ 4750rpm
No. of valves 32
Bore & stroke (mm) 90.2 x 105.8mm
Fuel Management system Sequential multipoint electronic fuel injection
Engine management Powertrain control module incorporating electronic throttle control
Battery 54Ah

Transmissions/Ratios

Feature Falcon XR8
1st – (LPG) 4.17
2nd – (LPG) 2.34
3rd – (LPG) 1.52
4th – (LPG) 1.14
5th – (LPG) 0.87
6th – (LPG) 0.69
Reverse – (LPG) 3.400
Final Drive – (LPG) 2.73

Fuel

Feature Falcon XR8
Fuel tank capacity (L) (Petrol) 68
Combined Fuel consumption: ADR 81/01 (L/100km – rounded) – Petrol 14.0
Combined CO2 Emissions (g/km) – Petrol 334
Recommended fuel (petrol) Reg/Prem Unleaded E10 Compatible

Suspension

Feature Falcon XR8
Front Virtual Pivot Control Link front suspension
Rear Control Blade Independent Rear Sports Suspension

Brakes

Feature Falcon XR8
Front Performance brakes
Rear Standard solid disc brake with single piston caliper
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) – Petrol 4-Channel ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA)
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) (Petrol Only) Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) incorporates Traction Control System (TCS), Emergancy Brake Assist (EBA) and 4-channel ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) – Petrol Only

Steering

Feature Falcon XR8
Type Forward mounted power assisted rack and pinion
Steering gear Variable Ratio

Maximum Towing Capacity

Feature Falcon XR8
Braked 2300
Unbraked 1000

Exterior Dimensions (mm)

Feature Falcon XR8
Overall length 4970
Overall width 1868
Overall height 1453
Wheelbase 2838
Front track 1583
Rear track 1598
Front overhang 954
Rear overhang 1179

Minimum Turning Circle (m)

Feature Falcon XR8
Diameter kerb to kerb 11

Interior Dimensions (mm)

Feature Falcon XR8
Front headroom 1012
Front legroom 1080
Front shoulder room 1523
Front hip room 1486
Rear headroom 990
Rear legroom 989
Rear shoulder room 1518

Luggage Capacity (L)

Feature Falcon XR8
Petrol 505

S – Standard.
O – Factory Option that can be ordered before a vehicle is manufactured.
A – Accessory that can be added at any time.
NCO – No cost option that can be ordered before a vehicle is manufactured.

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

News: New Maserati Quattroporte to debut at Paris; coming to New Zealand

Maserati Quattroporte S blue

The Maserati Quattroporte, arguably the most important car produced by Maserati during its history given the sales and profit transformation that it has delivered, will make its world public debut at the Paris International Motor Show next month (2 October 2008) offering refinements to its shape and new technology under its skin.

A little over a week later Australian and New Zealand will have its first look at Maserati’s new luxury performance sedan when it is unveiled at Australian International Motor Show in Sydney on 9 October, prior to deliveries starting late this year.

The Quattroporte is the most successful Maserati of all time, having found 15,000 owners around the world and collected 46 international awards.

Maserati has produced a subtle but detailed reworking of the Quattroporte with Pininfarina’s help. Two models will be offered: the Quattroporte and the Quattroporte S.

The former is fitted with the familiar 4.2 litre 400 Hp V8 engine, while the latter adopts the new 4.7 litre 430 Hp V8 recently introduced on the GranTurismo S, and which will offer distinctly different specification. Both cars have the six-speed automatic transmission developed in association with ZF.

The new grille, with its vertical slats, is reminiscent of the GranTurismo. The front and rear light units are also updated, featuring LEDs, enhancing both appearance and safety.
On the side, the under-door moulding is more noticeable, with a line that runs into that of the new bumpers, which have a wider protective band and more pronounced rear styling. The door mirrors are also new, with a more dynamic shape and a more streamlined mounting to the door.

The interior has a new central console; the controls are grouped more closely together for even more convenient operation.

The car’s range of navigation systems is also fully updated, now comprising the new Maserati Multimedia System.

Two new shades of leather, Marrone Corniola and Sabbia, replacing the beige which was previously in the range, debut on the Quattroporte S and Quattroporte respectively.

News: Volvo shows DRIVe C30, S40 and V50

Volvo DRIVe logo

Volvo will be unveiling the new economical, sub-120g/km diesel variants of the C30 SportsCoupe, S40 saloon and V50 Sportswagon at the Paris Motor Show in early October. All three models are equipped with a special set of efficiency-enhancing features and marked with the DRIVe emblem to signal their uprated environment properties. Production of these new models will start mid-November 2008. New Zealand release dates have not been established.

The new 1.6D DRIVe models will offer outstanding fuel consumption of 3.66l/100km on the C30 and 3.74l/100km in the S40 and V50, with VED Band B CO2 figures of just 115g/km for the C30 and 118g/km for the S40 and V50.  These new low emissions mean that the Volvo C30 and V50 offer best-in-class CO2 in their segments.

The reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions was brought about by analysing the cars’ total potential for more efficient, more economical driving. The cars were then optimised within four areas:
1. Reduced air resistance:

* Chassis height reduced by approximately 10mm to help reduce drag
* A front spoiler on the S40 and V50 which is the same spoiler currently on T5 models.
* Covered radiator grille. Behind the characteristic Volvo grille there is a wind-deflecting panel that provides better aerodynamics inside the engine compartment.
* Wind deflectors in front of the front wheels to steer the airflow.
* Aerodynamically optimised wheels with a unique ‘Libra’ rim. The diamond cut finish adds to the unique design and the large unobstructed area that goes all the way out to the tyre makes the rim look considerable larger than it actually is. The total drag reduction of 10-15% is due to the design of the Libra rim.
* Underbody panels on the Volvo C30 for more efficient airflow under the car.
* A unique rear spoiler has been developed for the Volvo C30 which adds both to the aerodynamics and to the visual appearance. The Volvo S40 features the same ‘ducktail’ spoiler as found on the current T5 and D5 models.
* New rear bumper on the Volvo C30.
2. Lower rolling resistance:

* All the cars are equipped with a new generation of Michelin tyres with low rolling resistance.
3. Higher ratios:

* Gearbox with altered ratios for third, fourth and fifth gears. The longer gear ratios contribute to a 1.5% reduction in fuel consumption without affecting the drivability of the car.
4. More efficient driveline:

* Optimised engine cooling, engine management and power steering.
* New transmission oil which creates much lower friction will be used in the gearbox.
* Gearchange indicator in the information display to tell the driver the ideal time to change gears.

“Changing the transmission oil gives us a 0.75 percent lower fuel consumption. Tyres with low rolling resistance save another 2 percent. Each of these measures may seem rather modest, but it is important to look at the whole picture. Taken together, all the small adjustments have helped us achieve our aim, with emissions below 120g/km for all three cars, without in any way compromising on either driving properties or comfort, which was an important requirement,” says Magnus Jonsson, Senior Vice President, Research & Development at Volvo Cars.
Benefits for the environment and economy

Reducing fuel consumption and dropping below the 120g/km CO2 emission level offers a range of benefits, both for the environment and the buyer’s pocket. With lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, these cars reduce the net contribution to global warming. All new diesel models from Volvo are also fitted with a maintenance-free particle filter that traps about 95 percent of all soot particles.

Volvo Cars expects to sell over 20,000 1.6D DRIVe cars next year in Europe

News: Best driving roads in the UK

Caterham - driving shot

As Britain’s roads prepare to take the strain of a new school term, ‘The Snake Pass’ has been named as the country’s best driving road in a survey by British sportscar manufacturer, Caterham Cars.

The A57 from Sheffield to Glossop topped the poll to find the best – and worst – stretches of the 230,000 miles of tarmac that link the United Kingdom.

Unsurprisingly, the clockwise section of the M25 between Junction 5 and 21 was voted the worst by nearly a third of those quizzed.

Though traffic figures have risen 14% in the last decade, it isn’t all bad, as the survey of over 1,687 of the most travelled Caterham Seven owners revealed. Respondents highlighted ten stand-out stretches of driving nirvana hidden away from four-lane tailbacks and service station coffee.

Britain’s Top Ten Best Driving Roads

No. Road Rationale Votes
1 A57 ‘Snake Pass’, Sheffield to Glossop ‘Over 25 miles of tarmac rollercoaster.’ 24.8%
2 A537 ‘Cat & Fiddle road’, Macclesfield to Buxton ‘Addictively technical but takes no prisoners.’ 24.0%
3 A18 ‘Mountain Section’, Isle of Man ‘Part of the famous TT course and has no speed limit.’ 18.2%
4 A4086 “Pass of Llanberis” Caernarfon to Capel Curig ‘Twisty roads and Snowdonia backdrop make it a must.’ 17.8%
5 A817 Loch Lomond to Garelochhead ‘A wide, long, smooth curving road which carries you from loch to loch a thousand feet above Glen Fruin.’ 17.1%
6 A87 Invergarry to Isle of Skye ‘As breathtaking as it is challenging.’ 14.8%
7 B3223 Dulverton to Lynton ‘Narrow road through Exmoor Forest but flowing bends that beg to be driven.’ 12.2%
8 B4100 Warwick to Banbury ‘A superb alternative to the M40’ 11.6%
9 A35 Lyndhurst to Christchurch ‘The best way to enjoy the New Forest.’ 11.4%
10 A686 Penrith to Alston (north Pennines) ‘Mainly open countryside, very challenging but rewarding. Stop at the cafe at Hartside Top.’ 10.9%

Topping the table as Britain’s best driving road is the 25 miles of the A57 between Sheffield and Glossop. Making a valid argument for the existence of road tax, the section commonly known as the ‘Snake Pass’ twists across the Peak District and rises 512 metres above sea level, offering breathtaking views and dramatic scenery.

Taking a close second is the winding A537 ‘Cat & Fiddle road’ from Macclesfield to Buxton. The speed limitless A18 ‘Mountain Road’ that makes up part of the world famous TT course on the Isle of Man was third.

In fourth place, set against a stunning Snowdonia backdrop, is the A4086 “Pass of Llanberis” from Caernarfon to Capel Curig, while fifth and sixth place belong to Scotland’s tranquil yet technical A817 from Loch Lomond to Garelochhead and the breathtaking A87 from Invergarry to Isle of Skye.

Britain’s Worst Five Stretches of Road

<>No. <>Road <>Rationale <>Votes
<>1 <>M25
(esp. between Junctions 5 and 21)
<>”The antithesis of driving.” <>31.4%
<>2 <>M1 (all of it) <>”All of it! Continual roadwork views at a snail’s pace.” <>21.2%
<>3 <>M6 Junctions 4 to 12 <>”A slow crawl past a grey town — especially bad on a Friday.” <>15.0%
<>4 <>A14 Cambridge to Peterborough <>”Popular route for trucker’s is an accident rich, heavily congested with average speed cameras.” <>9.6%
<>5 <>A303 from Andover onwards <>”Single-carriageway and caravan hell.” <>5.6%

It’s no surprise the main artery routes dominate the list of the UK’s worst roads. A staggering 66% of the country’s traffic is found on the motorways and ‘A’ Roads, which in turn, only account for 13 per cent of the entire road network.

So, with a commanding “win”, the M25 receives the indignity of being named as Britain’s worst road. The 117-mile long London Orbital, often referred to as “the world’s biggest car park”, can see up to 200,000 vehicles a day with motorists travelling near Heathrow experiencing the biggest delays.

Rounding out the top three is the entire stretch of the M1 and the M6 as it passes Birmingham. The highest placed ‘A-Road’ is the A14 between Cambridge and Peterborough thanks to its array of heavy goods vehicles and speed cameras. The A303 linking the South East with the West Country rounds off the Top 5.

Sales and Marketing Director for Caterham Cars, Andy Noble, said: “Due to the large amount of congestion motorists now face, it is often easy to forget how enjoyable driving can be. But turn off from the beaten track and there are plenty of roads that remind us that driving is still a privilege.’

Though Britain’s road network has changed massively since the Seven was designed by Lotus founder, Colin Chapman, in 1957, Noble feels that drivers of the lightweight sports car are ideally based to judge the merits of roads.

In June 1973, Caterham Cars, then the models main agent in the UK, agreed to take on the manufacturing rights of the 7, and in doing so, secured its long-term future.

News: Ford Fiesta coming to New Zealand in 2009

Ford Fiesta fq

Ford New Zealand has today confirmed the new Ford Fiesta will be sold in New Zealand, launching in Q1 2009.

The all-new model, conceived and developed by the European arm of Ford’s global product development team, is the first of a generation of new global, small Ford cars which will be developed, designed and built for a single global customer base.

“The Fiesta is the first product of the Ford Global Product Development system and is a tangible example of Ford becoming a single, global company designing and building cars for customers around the world.

It features a dramatic exterior design that is accentuated by the bold use of colour and exciting interior styling.

The very first Fiesta was launched in 1976 and since then has sold over 12 million units.

“The vehicle is eye-catching, bold and stylish — the perfect compliment to our comprehensive line-up in New Zealand,” says Richard Matheson, MD of Ford NZ.

Ford New Zealand is not able to confirm which variants will be available in New Zealand.

Blogs: Parking fines add up to 1.3 billion

Penalty Charge Notices ( PCN) costs in the UK have now topped £1.3 billion which equates to several trillion of our plummeting New Zealand dollar. At least £500 million per year falls to commercial operators.  Operators also spend an estimated £100 million processing and appealing PCNs, bringing the total to at least £600 million.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is quite rightly getting its knickers in a twist because that’s a serious amount of wedge (as they say in London), and it all adds to the cost of doing business. The main problems are the four heavily congested zones of ORB (around Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street), Soho/Covent Garden, Holborn, and Tottenham Court Road.  In each of these zones there is a demonstrable need to improve access for commercial operators.  Some areas need new loading bays, others need more flexibility of current loading limits or a better understanding of the rules by drivers and civil enforcement officers alike. So, FTA has commissioned an in-depth study of delivery ‘hotspots’ across London and will produce a clear list of ‘Critical Delivery Zones’ where traffic authorities need to focus their attention and resources.

FTA believes that sorting out access in these areas can help remove many of the PCNs that are unfairly issued to its members where there is no adequate loading available.  As many of the PCNs issued here are successfully challenged, it will also help traffic authorities reduce their own costs.  The benefit to the local economy of reduced PCNs could be as much as £10 million.

It would do our own authorities a world of good to address this situation in our cities while it’s still not an issue. Auckland does not suffer from serious loading bay shortages, and it’s unlikely to get a dire as it is in London, mostly due to Auckland’s relatively recent development. Our current car-unfriendly government will almost certainly be replaced at the next election, so let’s hope the new government sees its way not just to help commercial operators, but also residents and visitors who want to explore our city without fear of getting a ticket.

News: All-new Ford Ka to debut at Paris Motor Show

Ford Ka 2009 fq

The new Ford Ka replaces the iconic original Ka, launched in 1996. The original Ka was significantly ugly from the back, and because Ford hasn’t sent us any shots from the rear we hope it’s been addressed. The front certainly looks the part – sleek and tidy, featuring Ford’s kinetic design language styling cues.

No release date has been set for New Zealand, but European customers will get their grubby mitts on them late this year or early 2009. Stylish and fashionable.

The new car has approximately the same proportions as its predecessor and will be marketed as being a youthful, funky option for urban driving. Ford even took the Ka to Nürburgring in Germany for performance testing to make sure the driving dynamics were right.

Europe will get two economical, low emission engine options: a 1.2-litre 69 PS Duratec petrol engine and, for the first time on Ka, a 1.3-litre 75 PS Duratorq TDCi turbodiesel.

Both petrol and diesel models are available with sub-120g/km CO2 emissions.

The 1.2-litre petrol model, which is expected to be the largest seller in the all-new range, has cut fuel consumption by 21 per cent compared to the previous 1.3-litre Ka.

The diesel model — available on the Ka for the first time — improves economy still further, achieving a combined fuel consumption of 3.5l/100km.

There will be four trim/specification levels, and options including Bluetooth phone kit.

The all-new Ford Ka has been developed as part of a common project with Fiat. The vehicle is produced at the modern Fiat manufacturing plant in Tychy, Poland, sharing the production line with the Fiat 500 model.

The original Ford Ka was launched at the Paris Motor Show in 1996. Sales soon took off across Europe, with a total of over 1,460,000 vehicles produced.