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Jaguar Confirms Plans to Build F-Type Project 7

Official unveiling planned at Goodwood Festival of Speed.

by on Jun.25, 2014

Jaguar plans to build just 250 of the Project 7 roadsters.

It hasn’t exactly been the best-kept secret, but a year after showing off its exotic, race-inspired concept Jaguar confirms it will show the production version of its F-Type Project 7 roadster at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this coming weekend.

The launch of the street-legal two-seater marks the 60th anniversary of the formidable Jaguar D-Type racers that dominated at the 24 Hours of Le Mans – and which inspired the new roadster. The British maker plans to produce just 250 Project 7 cars, which will be the most powerful version of the F-Type sports car yet brought to market.

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The production model will differ from the concept shown at the 2013 Goodwood Festival in several key ways: it now will provide a second seat for a passenger, with rollover hoops for both occupants now integrated into the design. Meanwhile, Jaguar says that to make the Project 7 legal for use on U.S. roads, the American version will be equipped with a full height windshield.


First Look: 2014 Bentley Flying Spur

200 mph sedan gets shorter name, longer list of features.

by on Feb.20, 2013

The new Flying Spur shares many key components with the latest Bentley Continental GT coupe.

Bentley is ready to wrap up the complete makeover of its “entry” level line-up – for folks who consider something in the $200,000 range “basic” transportation, anyway.

The British maker will be bringing the all-new 2014 Bentley Flying Spur to next month’s Geneva Motor Show, the sedan sharing the basic underpinnings of the Bentley Continental GT coupe – which launched two years ago — and the Continental GTC convertible models. What it won’t share is the, “Continental” designation, which mercifully drops off the badge for the ’14 remake to give us a shorter, easier to remember name – while Bentley also adds a longer list of standard features and options.

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“Our engineers have worked tirelessly to ensure that the Flying Spur is the perfect combination of power, comfort, refinement and hand-crafted quality,” promises Wolfgang Schreiber, who took over as Bentley CEO last year. “The new Flying Spur is equipped both for business and relaxation whilst remaining a car to enjoy from behind the wheel.”


Mini Might Add Three More Models

Little Rocketman is one option, though British brand could get bigger options, too, execs hint.

by on Feb.05, 2013

Mini may yet bring the Rocketman to production.

With the new Paceman coming onboard, Mini will now offer a total of seven different models – never mind all the variants it is delivering to showrooms around the world. But the maker is far from done as it fleshes out its line-up, company officials say.

If anything, “Our management has said that in the future a full line-up of vehicles for the brand could be 10 models,” suggested David Duncan, Mini USA’s sales director, during a conversation in Puerto Rico, where the Paceman is getting its first media drive.

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Exactly what’s in store, Duncan and other Mini team members weren’t ready to discuss – beyond hinting they’re looking to fill “any segment that makes sense for a small car.”

In fact, small is apparently a relative term for the British maker, a subsidiary of Germany’s BMW.  Mini delivered a shock to many traditionalists when it introduced the Countryman, a couple years back, not only the first four-door model and the first with all-wheel-drive but also the brand’s biggest offering ever.


Is New Range Rover the Last of Another Era?

Is a downsized version in the works?

by on Sep.27, 2012

The 2013 Range Rover makes a splashy entrance at the Paris Motor Show.

The world is rapidly changing for automakers and nowhere is that more obvious than in the once-huge SUV segment.  Sales peaked at more than 3 million in the U.S. a decade or so back and have been sliding ever since.  Only a handful of models continue to exist in the classic, truck-based SUV segment.  But don’t think utes are going away.

Certainly not the range-topping Range Rover which is making its formal public debut at this year’s Paris Motor Show.  The flagship of the British Land Rover, the fourth-generation Range Rover nonetheless has adapted to rapidly changing market realities.  Among other things, it’s nearly a half-ton lighter than the outgoing model and by next year buyers in many markets will be able to order one with an all-new plug-in hybrid drivetrain.

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Nonetheless, Land Rover is eyeing big changes – especially in the wake of the successful launch of its Range Rover Evoque last year.  The maker’s first crossover-based model is now its biggest seller, outperforming even the most optimistic expectations for the downsized CUV.


McLaren Reveals P1 Design Study

The “ultimate supercar”?

by on Sep.18, 2012

McLaren promises the P1 will be the "ultimate supercar" when it reaches market next year.

McLaren is ready to unleash what it’s calling the “ultimate supercar” at the upcoming Paris Motor Show and after giving us an artistic tease that Andy Warhol might have been proud of, the British maker has finally given us an unvarnished look at the new P1.

Okay, let’s back up a bit.  These images are of what McLaren is calling a “P1 Design Study.” But barring a few little tweaks you can expect to see pretty much precisely what’s hear when the new model goes on sale “within 12 months.”  That would hold the maker to its promise to produce an all-new vehicle every year, starting with the McLaren MP4-12C and the subsequent Spider.

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Apparently, we’ll have to wait for Paris to get more details about the McLaren P1 but Managing Director Tony Sherrif hints that, “Our aim is not necessarily to be the fastest in absolute top speed but to be the quickest and most rewarding series production road car on a circuit.  It is the true test of a supercar’s all round ability and a much more important technical statement. It will be the most exciting, most capable, most technologically advanced and most dynamically accomplished supercar ever made.”


First Drive: 2012 Mini Coupe

Mini introduces its fastest model ever.

by on Sep.27, 2011

The 2-seat Mini Cooper John Cooper Works edition is the brand's fastest car ever.

Small is big, or so it seems, these days, with all manner of new products, small, smaller and smallest coming to market as buyers put a premium on fuel efficiency.  But no brand has done more to change the perception of what a small car can be than Mini, the British marque showing that downsized automobiles can be much, much more than just econoboxes.

And now, just short of a decade after the 2002 launch of the reborn Mini nameplate, the British marque is getting ready to roll out an assortment of new offerings that will bring to seven its model line-up.  We had the chance to spend a couple days in Nashville, this month, with the first of the next-gen products, the 2012 Mini Coupe.

The good news is that these latest offerings are not just more of the same.  True, many of them are modern takes on models Mini originally offered decades ago.  But there’s no confusing the Mini Cooper with the Countryman crossover or even the new Coupe, which Mini’s U.S. chief Jim McDowell suggests is “not like any Mini you’ve ever before.”

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Our trip through Nashville and into the surrounding countryside suggests he’s right, wherever we headed, passersby stopping to stare at the first Mini to adopt what designers like to call a “three-box” design.  Nor will you confuse the 2012 Mini Coupe with a classic sedan.  Then there’s the steeply raked windshield, angled another 13 degrees compared to the standard-issue Mini.  But perhaps the most distinctive feature is the new 2-seater’s “helmet roof,” which adds to the Coupe aggressive stance.


First Drive: 2012 Range Rover Evoque

Forget going off-road. How about tunneling under Liverpool?

by on Sep.08, 2011

Even the Welsh rain couldn't slow our Range Rover Evoque during a recent drive.

Plenty of vehicles boast about their off-road capabilities.  But how many will take you underground to back up those claims?  And under Liverpool, no less?

But that’s precisely where we found ourselves in the new 2012 Range Rover Evoque, recently, cautiously piloting the maker’s new offering through a network of long-abandoned railroad tunnels deep beneath the old shipping town perhaps best known as the birthplace of the Beatles.

It was an unusual way to introduce a significant new offering from a brand that has traditionally defined the classic sport-utility vehicle.  The 2012 Range Rover Evoque is the first major new product to emerge from the British marque since Land Rover – and sibling brand Jaguar – were sold to Indian automotive wannabe Tata Motors several years ago.  It’s the newest model to share the top-line Range Rover badge.  And, perhaps most notably, it’s Land Rover’s first crossover-utility vehicle.

That’s more than a subtle distinction.  The 2012 Range Rover Evoque migrates to a car-like unibody platform, rather than Land Rover’s traditional body-on-frame truck chassis.  It also adopts a funky, coupe-like design that styling chief Gerry McGovern confides will have a strong influence over the next generation of Land Rover products – whether truck or crossover.

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The new model is both the smallest and, at just north of 3,500 pounds in base configuration, the lightest model ever to wear a Land Rover badge.  That reflects the reality of today’s automotive market.  Motorists are generally downsizing as they struggle to deal with crowded city streets and rising fuel prices.  That doesn’t mean they want to give up style, performance, space or functionality, however.


First Look: Lotus Evora GTE Road Car Concept

British marque beginning its grand expansion program.

by on Aug.17, 2011

Lotus developed the Evora GTE for the Le Mans circuit, but this concept suggests it may offer a version of the 2-seater for the street.

The tony communities of California’s Monterey Peninsula look a lot like a used car lot this weekend – albeit populated some of the world’s highest-priced “previously-owned” vehicles as the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance rolls into town.  But while most of the attention focuses on classic cars, a number of high-line makers are hoping to grab some of the spotlight for their own, newer offerings.

Among the many products to be previewed in the next few days, Lotus will lift the covers off its latest entry, the Evora GTE.  At last year’s Paris Motor Show, the maker announced plans to introduce a half-dozen new products in the next few years – its biggest roll-out ever – and, as more recently reported, Lotus also is developing an all-new V-8 engine to power some of those offerings.


The GTE fits in with the mandate of legendary Lotus founder Colin Chapman to “add lightness” to every vehicle.  It starts out as a standard Evora tuned for the track – and redubbed the Lotus Evora GTE.  The concept version of the car coming to Pebble Beach, meanwhile, would be street legal if put into production.


First Look: Aston Martin Virage

2 doors, 12 cylinders, 490 horsepower. You do the math.

by on Feb.24, 2011

Aston revives the old Virage name in a new model slotteds between the DB9 and DBS.

Aston Martin is bringing back an old name, but the 12-cylinder Virage, making its debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show, is anything but retro.

With striking xenon headlamps tapering into the low-slung head and framing a new 5-bar grille, the 490-horsepower Aston Virage is the latest entry designed to pull the classic British brand forward.

The coupe occupies a sort of middle ground between the Aston DB9 and DBS models, 20 more horsepower than the former, 20 less than the latter coming from its 6.0-liter powerplant.  The Aston Virage also makes 420 lb-ft of torque.

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On the mechanical side, the new coupe gets new adaptive dampers that can switch between five degrees of firmness with the touch of a button.  A modified exhaust manifold enhances the resonant roar of the big V-12.

As with the other DB models, the Aston Martin Virage is aluminum intensive, reflecting the British maker’s focus on stiff, lightweight vehicles that deliver even better performance than the raw horsepower numbers might otherwise suggest.


O’Driscoll Leaving as Jaguar Managing Director

Helped steer sale and rebuilding process.

by on Oct.11, 2010

Mike O'Driscoll will retire as Managing Director of Jaguar.

Mike O’Driscoll, a key member of the Jaguar management team that guided the company through its often difficult days under Ford Motor Co. and then through its sale to India’s Tata Motors, will be leaving the company.

With more than 30 years of experience at the British automaker and its U.K. affiliate, Land Rover, O’Driscoll played a critical role in salvaging the two brands during their years as Ford subsidiaries.  He then oversaw the challenging transition as the U.S. maker decided to focus on its core domestic brands and sell off Jaguar-Land Rover.

“Over the last three years we’ve had the opportunity to start the rebuilding,” O’Driscoll told in announcing his decision to retire next March.  “It’s a great way to sign off my career.”

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The legendary Jaguar brand, known for benchmark designs like the classic E-Type sports car, was a financial basket case under British government ownership when Ford decided to buy the maker – after a brief but intense bidding war pitting it against rival General Motors – in 1989.