Saturday, August 21, 2010

Volkswagen Touran

Volkswagen unveiled the new Touran at the Leipzig Motor Show last week. Though not an entirely new design, the revisions to the Touran were made to bring the car in line with other offerings in the Volkswagen stable - namely the Polo, Golf and the recently revealed Touareg SUV.

At the front, a new grille with horizontal lines sits atop a new front bumper, while revised taillights with LED bulbs join a new tailgate and bumper at the rear. Completing the revisions are a set of new alloy wheels and chrome-edged rubbing strips running down the side of the vehicle. The redesign is subtle, but sufficient to make the new model embody the classic, albeit conservative, design direction established by its recently refreshed siblings.

Inside, new trim finishes are joined by a three-spoke steering wheel ahead of a new set of dials featuring subtle white backlighting and a large electronic display to relay information on the vehicle's systems. A revised center console with chrome highlights houses new controls for the ventilation system. In keeping with the functionality of the MPV's ancestor, a total of 39 storage compartments can be found around the cabin.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Geely Englon TXN

Geely is poised to show 39 new vehicles at the forthcoming Auto China 2010 motor show in Beijing, among them will be this new TXN taxi. While most of the new cars on show won't be built around entirely new sheet metal - some will feature new powertrains, for example - the Englon TXN is indeed all-new.

Sitting in Geely's Englon range, a sub-brand initially created for the taxicab, the TXN is intended as a replacement for the aging TX4 built by British automaker LTI (as well as at Geely's Shanghai Maples factory). The new design features a pronounced front end with a large grille, employing elements of the current TX4's face, while the rear is strangely reminiscent of the previous generation Lancia Ypsilon and Mini Cooper, particularly the taillamps.

Other new Englon range vehicles on display at the show will include the SX6 SUV, GV5 and SV5 MPVs, SC5-RV and SC6 sedans, and the GX2 Cross minicar. See them all in our gallery below. We'll endeavor to bring you more details on these cars and others revealed at the Beijing show next week.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


The Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) will unveil this futuristic concept at next week's Beijing motor show. Called the Leaf, the new concept has no relation to Nissan's concept car shown in Tokyo last year. It is a much more fanciful two-seat concept car whose design is entirely open to the elements, and it also features a slew of environmentally-friendly technologies.

Incorporating both solar and wind harnessing addendums, the Leaf features innovative carbon capturing bodywork that can absorb CO2 and emit oxygen, as plants do during photosynthesis. The Chinese automaker claims that because of this feat, the car actually has negative emissions.

The Leaf sources power mainly through photovoltaic cells within its leaf-shaped roof (these position themselves toward the sun to garner the most energy) while mini turbines within the wheels use the passing wind to generate electricity and store it in its battery pack, supplementing power for the microbial fuel cell.

We'll bring you more details on the concept live from Auto China 2010 next week.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Great Wall C30

Great Wall Motors will launch its C30 sedan at Auto China 2010 in Beijing next week. The new car is claimed to be the Chinese automaker's global car and could potentially see export to the European and other worldwide markets.

Though information on the new car remains scarce, Great Wall is reportedly conducting tests to ensure it will perform well in the European NCAP. And though we have yet to see the new car in the metal, it would appear that the carmaker (China's largest SUV manufacturer) is focusing on building vehicles that will appeal to buyers outside of the domestic market. If they are to succeed, build quality and design will be major factors.

We'll bring you more information on the new car once we see it at Auto China 2010 next week.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


This S6 SUV will be amongst five new models BYD Auto Co. is set to display at the Beijing motor show next week. The S6 will be the BYD's first SUV, but judging from these photos the new car's design seems to be akin to another similarly-sized SUV we've seen before - notably the previous generation Lexus RX.

Measuring 4740mm long, 1845mm wide and 1635mm tall, the S6 is only 30mm shorter in overall length and loses 40mm in width compared to the RX 350. It also stands 85mm shorter and rides on a 2715mm-long wheelbase; 25mm shorter than that of the RX. This isn't the first time we've seen a Chinese automaker copy an existing design and it surely won't be the last. But if copying is the greatest form of flattery, then Lexus designers should indeed feel privileged...

The S6 will go head to head with the Haima S3 and Chery Rely X5 domestic SUVs when it hits the market later this year. BYD's other new models on show will include the G6 full-size sedan, the M6 MPV and the I6 and L3 compact sedans.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Audi A1

IT’S an A1-sized canvas! Meet the one-off £350,000 Audi that’s got the art world in a spin. And Auto Express is the only UK magazine to be given access to it.

This incredible eye-catching MINI rival is the work of Damien Hirst – the wealthiest and most collectable living artist. He shot to fame in the Nineties by pickling sharks and sawing farmyard animals in half.

The project has been six months in the making, and it all began with Hirst expressing an interest in painting an R8 supercar for a charity auction. Having worked closely with Sir Elton John’s AIDS Foundation, Audi decided to pluck one of the first A1s off the production line in Brussels, Belgium – a 1.4 TFSI S tronic in white – and get Hirst to work his magic on it in time to be auctioned at Sir Elton’s famed White Tie & Tiara charity ball.

The dilemma was the weight and shape of the Audi – the legendary turntable on which Hirst does his work had only been used for large, flat canvases. Several visits to the Brit’s biggest studio, in Brimscombe Port, Glos, led to experimental attempts with a host of body panels. It quickly became clear that painting an A1 intact wouldn’t achieve the desired effect. As Hirst would craft the finish from a gantry 10 feet above his spinning rig, the falling gloss paint wouldn’t land on the Audi’s vertical panels (like the rear quarters and doors). So, everything had to be laid flat.

Bare white doors, bumpers, bonnet, wings and tailgate were all unbolted from the hatch and placed on the turntable inside the studio, which is four times the size of a double decker bus.

Audi had to step in with a new roof skin and rear quarter panels, as these are welded to the steel bodyshell. In essence, these were painted, and the firm’s Technical Centre in Milton Keynes, Bucks, had to fit them to the shell, one by one. Hirst’s final touch was an autograph on the roof spoiler.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

JAC Vision IV

These renderings of JAC's upcoming A-segment rival have surfaced on the Web prior to the car's official unveiling at next week's Auto China motor show in Beijing. Called the Vision IV concept, the diminutive urban vehicle was designed at the Chinese automaker's Italian design studio in Turin.

Barely over a decade old, JAC (Anhui Jianghuai Automobile) is looking to make inroads into the city car segment. While the company currently sells the A0 and the Tojoy - a Pininfarina-designed A-segment car - in China's domestic market, JAC's primary focus is on larger vehicles, such as the Rein SUV, the Refine MPV and commercial vehicles. In recent years it has also developed the attractive B-Class sedan, in collaboration with Pininfarina.

Though details remain scarce, the Vision IV concept will apparently be fitted with an electric hybrid system to supplement its small displacement engine.

We'll bring you more information when we see the concept in the metal in Beijing next week.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Honda Odyssey

Honda has unveiled its fourth generation North American market Odyssey mini van, set to go on sale this Fall. Previewed by the concept vehicle first show at this year's Chicago auto show and again at the New York auto show, the production model retains the design language and many of the features seen in the concept.

Most notable of these is what Honda refers to as the 'lightning-bolt' beltline - which kinks aft of the C-pillar - adding a degree of visual entertainment to an otherwise traditionally flat mini-van side profile and - so Honda claims - making it easier for third row passengers (who are likely to be children) to see out.

Measuring 5133mm in length, 1958mm wide and 1778mm high, the new Odyssey is 40mm lower than the outgoing model, which its makers claim combine with its 35mm wider track to make it look it look sleeker and more dynamic.

Inside, Honda has worked hard to improve the level of perceived quality and increased the amount of space for oddment stowage, along with increasing provision for multi-media and communications equipment to every seat passenger.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Range Rover

It’s party time at Range Rover! Fresh from the launch of the Evoque, the famous British 4x4 brand is continuing its 40th birthday celebrations with this – the 2011 model year Range Rover. And Auto Express has driven it. 

While just some new lights and a fresh set of grilles and vents are the extent of the exterior tweaks, the world’s best luxury off-roader has received some huge changes under the skin aimed at improving performance but reducing thirst. 

Replacing the current 3.6-litre V8 turbodiesel unit is a new 309bhp 4.4-litre V8 engine along with a new ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox. Inside it’s allied to steering wheel paddles and a Jaguar-style rotary gear selector.

The new unit uses one large turbo to do the majority of the work, with a smaller turbo cutting in to provide extra assistance. The sequential system, combined with the new gearbox, results in a 20 percent improvement in fuel economy – up to 30.1mpg – and a 15 percent drop in CO2, to 253g/km, removing the Range Rover from the top tax band.

Apart from the gear selector, up front it’s pretty much identical to the current car, but in the back there’s an increased focus on luxury with extras such as a 1200watt 19-speaker Harman Kardon stereo.

On the move, the 2011 Range Rover feels majestic. The new engine offers a lovely low V8 rumble and provides deep-chested performance while the eight-speed automatic always finds the right gear, shifting smoothly and quickly. With 700Nm of torque, it’s particularly impressive going from cruising to motorway speed, accelerating from 50-75mph in just 5.1 seconds.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ford Kuga

Ford's Kuga has a fresh new face! We drove the latest diesel model last week, but these cosmetic tweaks will also soon be available as part of a styling upgrade.

The exterior visual tweaks - including a new, more aggressive grille design, body coloured side skirts, and 19in alloys - are part of a luxurious new range topping 'Individual' spec that conicides with recent mechanical changes to the range, and will be available as an additional option pack on all Titanium models from August 2nd.

The Interior is also improved, with 'Ebony' leather upholstery, aluminium pedals on manual models, and scuff plates and floor mats with the 'Individual' logo. The cost of all the extra kit will be £4,000 including VAT, on top of the Kuga Titanium's £24,495 starting price.

Launched back in 2008, the Kuga was recently updated with a new version of Ford's 2.0-litre TDCi Duratorq diesel engine, which is six percent more efficient than the 131bhp unit it replaces, and is being offered in either 138bhp or 161bhp guises.

Customers can also now spec four-wheel drive versions of the Kuga with Ford's six-speed Powershift dual-clutch automatic transmission, first seen on the Focus, although the auto 'box isn't as economical as its manual counterparts.