Alfa Romeo

Building the Alfa Romeo 4C

Alfa Romeo 4C production line

Here’s a great behind the scenes look at the ever so sexy Alfa Romeo 4C being built. Like the 8C Competizione before it the good folk at Maserati have been given the job of building the 4C.

They start with a carbon fibre tub and carefully bond it all together to finally form one of the most highly anticipated cars of 2013. Tipping the scales at just 895kg (dry weight) the 179kW on tap from the all-aluminium 1750cc turbocharged four cylinder is sure to make this sportscar a real treat.

In fact the engine and 6-speed dual clutch combo weigh in at only 135kg combined, some 24kg lighter than the Giulietta.

[Source: | Thanks to Craig for the tip]


I think it’s gonna be a long, long time

MINI Rocketman Concept

This funky little MINI Rocketman concept was one of the stars of this year’s Geneva Motor Show. We’ve previously heard a production model is likely and now we can start to put a date to MINI’s latest plans. According to Auto Express the Rocketman will launch in 2014.

Sized at around 400mm longer and 500mm wider than the original classic Mini, the Rocketman represents a genuine return to mini motoring. The final version will be MINI’s entry-level model and is expected to carry over the 3+1 seating configuration from the concept as well.

The Rocketman will draw from BMW’s i brand, too. That’s likely to mean the use of a carbon fibre shell and aluminium chassis, in order to keep weight down.

Ian Robertson, BMW sales and marketing director, explains “MINI will never produce a car under the ‘i’ brand—this is exclusively for BMWs—but the technology we are developing for the ‘i’ family of cars will certainly be made available for the rest of the BMW Group.”

[Source: Auto Express]


So, what is the Audi quattro concept like to drive?

Audi quattro concept

When the stunning Audi quattro concept made its debut in Paris it was little more than a show car queen. It had a modest engine designed only to get it from transporter to show hall. Now, though, Audi has fiddled with the car and installed a few herbs. 402 of them to be exact, or around 300kW if you want the straight version. Powered by the wonderful 2.5 litre inline five cylinder found in the TT RS and now the RS3, as well, and tipping the scales at a whopping 235kg less than the RS3, this 21st century Quattro should be the duck’s guts. But is it?

Well, luckily for us, or perhaps more luckily for them, Matt Prior from Autocar and Henry Catchpole from Evo have been given the chance to drive the car to find out.

Matt Prior: Encouraged by Audi to press on a bit faster, I give it a bootful, at which point it feels rather less like a concept car. The Quattro really flies. Once you’ve a few revs wound on – anything over 2500 is fine – most of the lag disappears and the distinctive five-pot warble kicks in, followed by some whistling and chattering of the wastegate when you lift and start the process in the next gear. It feels R8 V10 kind of fast, but that acceleration is easier to get at. The shift is sweet too. The brakes perhaps a tad over-servoed, but manageable enough. Engine response is fine for heel and toe downshifts.

Henry Catchpole: Despite steering that could do with being a bit quicker, you can feel how light it is and what a short wheelbase it has as it snaps into corners with the rear end feeling particularly keen. It also rides amazingly well for a concept car with big 20in wheels. Even after a limited drive I want one.

While it’s very early days yet—the concept is yet to be approved for production—it sounds as though Audi’s engineers have a great platform to work on should the top brass give them the okay to build it.

We especially like this last line from Catchpole’s review, “If you put the sat-nav into ‘Race’ mode then it will apparently read you pace notes for the road ahead like a rally co-driver!” For the full text follow the links below.

[Source: Autocar & Evo]


Audi quattro concept looks set for production

Audi quattro spied in Malibu

This Audi quattro concept, or perhaps that should read, the Audi quattro concept was recently spotted in Malibu, California. It’s understood the Paris Motor Show star was out on a photoshoot, with a red 1980s Ur-Quattro also along for the ride. The cruisey quattros had a Police escort and all.

Okay, that’s not the properly exciting bit. Apparently the guy who snapped the spy pics (see link below for more) spoke to the lucky folks with the stunning quattro concept and was told Audi will be putting the concept into limited production. Bravo!

Let’s just hope the earlier rumour that its price could be a whopping £200,000(AU$320,000) is proved false.

[Source: Jalopnik]

Fifth Gear Saab

Fifth Gear on the new Saab 9-5

Saab 9-5

It’s been almost six months since the Saab 9-5 began production under its new owners Spyker. The car is now on sale and reviewers are stating to file their reports. Can the new 9-5 usher in a new era of stability for Saab? Can the 9-5 shed its humble GM origins? More importantly, and more simply, is the new 9-5 any good?

Take the jump and see what VBH from Fifth Gear has to say.


Audi A1 learns about supply and demand

Audi A1

The next big thing, aka the Audi A1, is getting an early lesson in supply and demand. Production began in earnest this week and around 500 A1s are being built every day. That’s quite a lot for a new entry level premium product. Audi plans to build 50,000 cars before the end of 2010. That’s a lot too.

But it’s not enough. At least that’s the case according to Peter Schwarzenbauer, Audi’s head of sales and marketing. Speaking to Automotive News Europe, Herr Schwarzenbauer said, “In view of the high demand, orders could surpass the production capacity this year.”

That means hopeful A1 buyers may need to take a ticket and stand at the back of the queue. What will be pleasing to Audi’s top brass is around 90% of those interested in the A1 are first-time Audi buyers.

A1 production is set to increase to 80,000 in 2011 and to 100,000 in 2012. Will this alleviate supply concerns, or will the sales growth of the A1 continue to surpass expectations?

[Source: Autocar]


Saab production enters new era

Saab enters new era

Architects across the world can rejoice, and sales of black skivvies are also assured as Saab’s new era has begun. A a new 9-5 model was the first to roll off the Trollhättan production facility after the company’s future was secured.

CEO of Spyker Cars, Victor Muller, said, “Everyone at Saab has worked extremely hard to reach this important point. Today production restarted with a new 9-5 first down the line – a fitting symbol that a new era has begun.”

Saab Automobile CEO, Jan Ã…ke Jonsson paid tribute to his workers, “We are up and running as an independent manufacturer and I am delighted to share the experience on the line alongside our workforce. They have shown tremendous commitment to the company and we are all now focused on ramping up production to meet customer demand.”

The new Saab 9-5 model is due for release later this year and the units rolling of the line now will be used as test vehicles.

Carmageddon GM Holden News

Holden to slash production by 15,000 vehicles

Holden's Elizabeth manufacturing plant - press shop

The Global Financial Crisis is biting hard on the home front, with news Holden will start 2009 with a series of production line closures from January through to March. This will affect as many as 3,400 workers, although they will still be eligible to claim a wage equivalent to four and a half days work during their down time. The closures amount to around 15,000 less vehicles being produced.

At this stage, Holden’s top brass are saying no permanent retrenchments are on the horizon. In tough times like this, and with parent company GM in all sorts of financial bother, I’m sure these claims mean little to GM’s Australian workers. With sales of the traditional Aussie big 6 cylinder falling, one has to wonder just how much longer our car industry will remain viable?

More information, audio and video on this story can be accessed from ABC Online.


Volkswagen’s Microbus back from the dead?

Volkswagen Microbus

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that a modified version of Volkswagen’s Microbus could be on the agenda, with the new Chattanooga facility the likely plant to be used for production. The Microbus was launched as a concept in 2001 (see original 2001 press release below) and was originally scheduled for 2005 production before cost cutting measures saw Volkswagen pull the pin. According to the SMH article, a German Volkswagen official claimed, “We’re looking at ways to produce the Microbus that will make it competitive in North America. At the moment there is no firm decision but, with the exchange rate the way it is, there is no way we could entertain building it in Europe.”

Read the Sydney Morning Herald article in full for more detail.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald via autoblog

News Volkswagen

Volkswagen wants slice of American pie

Volkswagen logoVolkswagen AG CEO, Prof Martin Winterkorn wants Volkswagen to be the “biggest European carmaker” in the United States, selling as many as 800,000 cars every year by 2018. To help achieve that goal Volkswagen AG announced today they will be building their first manufacturing plant in the United States.

The German giant has approved expenditure of up to 1 billion USD to establish a new facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. With a capacity of 150,000 vehicles per year the first stage of the new production line is set to open in 2011. The Chattanooga factory will employ around 2000 people and will join the Puebla facility in Mexico as the only other North American production facility for Volkswagen. The Jetta and Beetle are currently built in Mexico, but at this stage, no plans have been revealed as to the models that will be manufactured at the new US plant. Prof Winterkorn understands the importance of a strong presence in the US and this move will help Volkswagen stake a larger claim on the new car market. “The USA market is an important part of our volume strategy and we are now very resolutely accessing that market. Volkswagen will be extremely active there.”

Read Volkswagen’s official announcement after the jump.