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McLaren: Honda not involved with P13
McLaren’s deal with Honda to supply its Formula 1 team with engines from 2015 onwards is not expected to have any impact on its road car division, an insider has told Autocar.
Drawing a parallel between McLaren’s current F1 deal with Mercedes, and the fact that arrangement bears no relation to the road car division, the source said: “At the moment there is no anticipated impact on the road car division as a result of the Honda deal.”
In particular, the source denied that Honda would have any involvement with the McLaren P13, the firm’s next all-new road car and a mooted Porsche 911 Turbo rival.
Development of that car, which is thought to use a 450bhp version of McLaren's 3.8-litre V8, is said to be at an “advanced” stage.
My first time at the Nürburgring
It's sacrilege, I know, to call myself a petrolhead and not have made the pilgrimage to the motoring Mecca that is the Nürburgring.
Today though, I get to right that wrong with a lap of the track. Taking me out in a Hyundai Genesis Coupé is professional test driver Daniel Herregods.
He's been racing all his life, and has clocked over 12,000 laps of the ’Ring. He's also raced with some of the greatest drivers — Mansell, Prost and Piquet have all shared a grid with him.
"History has been made here," he says as we pass under the gantry and start our lap, "if a driver can be good here, if a car can be good here, then they can be good anywhere."
He's right, and as we round the first few corners Herregods points out scenes of famous crashes and spins at the ’Ring. For a first timer, that doesn't fill me with confidence.
But my god this man can drive. We're at the 5km marker before I've caught my breath. Despite being buffeted by what seems like every physical force all at once, Herregods still finds time to talk about his role in Hyundai's development programme here.
As part of a €5.5 million investment the manufacturer will now have a permanent presence at the ’Ring, joining a select group of companies who use the iconic circuit to hone the performance of their cars.
Through Karousel and we're sideways out the other side. I spot some late leavers watching our progress, surrounded by campsite wreckage from last weekend's Nürburgring 24 hours race.
The Genesis Coupé handles the interweaving corners of the circuit well, though some understeer on the latter stages of our lap meets with a sigh of disapproval from the driver. It's exactly that sort of thing Herregods and his team are here to find. The rationale is that within its 73 corners the Nürburgring can replicate almost any road condition within Europe, so making Hyundai's cars handle well here is key to its success.
On the final straight, as we're nudging top speed, Herregods shows me a radio antenna in the distance, high up and far away. That's the other side of the circuit, he says, demonstrating not only how big the Nürburgring is but also the 300m altitude difference which takes place with every lap.
As we pull back into the paddock Herregods seems displeased with his performance. "It wasn't that fast, it's too wet" he says.
Fast enough for me, chap. Until the next time.
Hyundai reveals new development facility at the Nürburgring
Hyundai has shown off a new £4.7 million research and development facility being built at the Nürburgring.
Joining other manufacturers who have similar facilities on site, Hyundai will use the track to carry out durability testing on all new vehicles. Each new model will be put through 180,000km of road testing — 10,000km of which will be done on the Nürburgring. That's the equivalent of 480 laps.
The track, with its 73 corners and average altitude difference of 300 metres, provides the perfect stomping ground for testing new vehicles.
Vehicle testing and development manager Axel Honish says the Nürburgring can replicate almost every condition found on European roads. "It's the ideal track; it covers all possible driving situations.
"It has the characteristics that will give an experienced driver a feel for the performance. The driver can then report where we need to change something, like the balance for example."
As other manufacturers do similarly, Hyundai keeps a fleet of its competitors' cars on hand to benchmark its own vehicles. A team of six professional drivers carry out testing on the track, with data then fed though the new research and development site and on to Korea.
Senior vice president and chief operating officer Allan Rushforth says the project aims to enhance the appeal of Hyundai to European drivers. Over 70 per cent of the Hyundai model range available in Europe is built here, with 95 per cent being developed and tested here, too.
Rather than focusing on new models, Rushforth says 2013 is all about increasing brand awareness. "We will increase awareness subliminally," he said. "I'm happy for the ride and handling characteristics of the cars to be evidence of the development that goes on here.
"The big opportunity for me is to get our vehicles on eye level with our competitors. We want to get to such a position so that we can persuade a customer that moving to Hyundai is the right decision."
The new site is due for completion in August.
Lotus Exige S Roadster details confirmed
Lotus has confirmed details of the 145mph Lotus Exige S roadster, the fastest drop top the Norfolk-based manufacturer has ever built.
It will be the first Exige model to be offered with a factory-fitted soft-top roof and shares the same 3.5-litre V6 engine with the Exige S coupé.
The unit produces 345bhp at 7000rpm and 295lb ft at 4500rpm, meaning the Exige S roadster — which weighs 10kg less than the coupe at 1166kg — is capable of 0-60mph in 3.8sec and reaches 100mph from a standing start in 8.5sec. Its top speed has been reduced from the coupe’s 170mph to 145mph.
A six-speed manual gearbox will be offered as standard, but the Exige S is available with the Norfolk-based firm’s Serial Precision Shift (SPS) paddle-operated automated manual transmission. Fuel economy for the manual gearbox variant is a claimed 28mpg, with CO2 emissions of 236g/km.
As with the £52,900 hard-top Exige S, an optional race pack is available and adds track-optimised suspension settings and launch control. There are also two cabin options: one more comfort-oriented and the other more stripped down and sporty.
Lotus says the new drop-top, which is now available to order, completes the Exige line-up, alongside the Exige S, Exige Cup and Exige Cup R.
New Mini hatchback spotted
Spy shots have revealed the next generation of Mini hatchback being tested on the road with minimal camouflage.
Changes to the all-new Mini's styling, compared to the previous generation, include a wide front grille and large headlights with integral daytime running lights. Larger, redesigned rear lights are also apparent.
Reputedly, the new third-generation Mini will deliver a substantial leap forwards in terms of quality, performance and handling. It's thought it could be officially unveiled later this year.
All existing variants of the Mini will be replaced with versions based on the upcoming model, which is underpinned by BMW's recently developed UKL1 platform.
It's rumoured that the new Mini family could extend by up to 11 models; BMW has admitted previously that up to 23 different versions could eventually go into production.
As well as the high-performance versions, the new Mini will be offered with a choice of a petrol or diesel three-cylinder 1.5-litre engine. A six-speed manual gearbox will be available, as will an eight-speed automatic transmission.
More Mini models may also receive four-wheel drive in the future, as demand grows for the improved stability and security that it offers.
BMW, in preparation for the launch of the new model, has already completed work on the new facilities and training programmes required to build the Mini 3.
BYD launches electric taxi fleet in Hong Kong and London
The first fleet of 45 all-electric BYD e6 taxis have joined the ranks of the Hong Kong Taxi and Public Light Bus Association.
Wang Chuan-fu, chairman and president of BYD Company Limited, said: “This not only asserts our green vision for promoting environmental sustainability for a better world, but is also a significant step for us in bringing green transport to benefit all people”.
In conjunction with the launch of the electric taxis, BYD and its partner Sime Darby Motors Group are setting up 47 chargers in nine locations, near commonly used car parks, as the first phase in the development and deployment of electric vehicle infrastructure.
London's second largest minicab service, greentomatocars, will also be receiving 50 of the new BYD electric minicabs, which will join its existing fleet of 300 cars.
It's expected that the electric taxis will be available for use soon. The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “It is my aim that London's minicabs and taxis will be zero-emission by 2020, which will have a major impact on air quality.
"Every year the fleet is getting cleaner, making our city an even more attractive place to live, work and visit. Encouraging many more electric vehicles is a key part of this transformation, so it is great news that greentomatocars has committed to operating 50 of these super clean machines from next year.”
The BYD e6 is a five-seat crossover that features a high-capacity battery, giving it a range of up to 190 miles. Charging it from empty takes up to two hours and, thanks to its use of electric power, it offers zero local emissions; this makes it ideal for urban use.