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Aston Martin Vanquish Volante unveiled
Aston Martin has revealed its new £200k Vanquish Volante, a model claimed to be the stiffest open-top model in the firm’s 100-year history.
Replacing the DBS Volante as Aston’s range-topping open GT car, the 6.0-litre V12-powered Vanquish Volante is capable of the same 0-62mph sprint of 4.1sec and 183mph top speed as its coupé sibling. Its full carbonfibre bodywork is also a first for an Aston Volante model.
Other improvements over the DBS Volante include a 50 per cent larger boot at 279 litres with the roof up or down. Aston says the roof is of triple-skin lightweight fabric construction and of an aerodynamic design, and it can be opened and closed in 14 seconds.
The outputs of the 6.0 V12 engine match that of the Vanquish coupé, meaning a maximum 565bhp is available at 6750rpm and peak torque of 457lb ft arrives at 5500rpm. Drive is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
Aston says the Volante is able to match the performance of the Vanquish coupé as weight increases have been kept to a minimum. The Volante weighs 1844kg, a 9kg increase over the coupe.
Underpinning the car is the latest fourth-generation development of Aston’s venerable VH platform. Carbonfibre is used in semi-structural components and bonding techniques are derived from the aerospace industry.
As such, Aston claims this Vanquish Volante is 14 per cent torsionally stiffer than the DBS Volante and much more resistant to flex and predictable to handle as a result.
Aston also says the spring and damper rates have been calibrated to give the Volante the same ride and handling characteristics as the coupé. The weight distribution is 51:49.
The Volante shares the same look as the Vanquish coupe, but with a few notable changes in addition to the roof. The windscreen is now full height, the glass running up to meet the fabric for a cleaner, more coherent look. This full-height windscreen on a Volante is another first for Aston Martin.
The design of the 2+2 interior of the Vanquish coupe carries over to the Volante unchanged, save for the switches necessary to operate the retractable roof.
Chassis features include adaptive dampers with three distinct modes - Normal, Sport and Track - a quick-ratio steering set-up, Brembo-supplied carbon ceramic brakes, and Dynamic Stability Control and Positive Torque Control electronic systems.
Order books are now open for the Aston Martin Vanquish Volante ahead of the first deliveries later this year. Prices start from £199,995.
First drive review: Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid
Fiat 500L MPW revealed
A seven-seat version of the Fiat 500L has been revealed. Called the Fiat 500L MPW (for Multi Purpose Wagon) in the UK, it will be known elsewhere in Europe as the Fiat 500L Living.
Fiat describes the 500L MPW as a 5+2 seater, emphasising the part-time nature of the rear seats. It is 210mm longer than the 500L on which it is based, and 10mm higher. The width remains unchanged. Boot space with rear seats down is 638 litres, 238 litres more than the 500L. No luggage capacity for the car with the rear seats up has been given.
Engine options mirror those of the 500L, meaning 94bhp 1.4 and 104bhp 0.9-litre TwinAir petrols, plus a 104bhp 1.6-litre and 84bhp 1.3-litre diesels. The latter is also available with an automatic gearbox.
The Fiat 500L MPW will be sold in two trim levels, called Pop Star and Lounge, with buyers having 19 exterior colours to choose from and six interior colour options. Emphasising the car's customisation options, it will also be sold with 15 different styles of wheel.
The Fiat 500L MPW is the sixth member of the 500 family, joining the standard 500, 500C, 500 Abarth, 500L and 500 Trekking in the line-up. A Fiat 500 SUV is expected to go on sale in 2014.
Revised Suzuki Swift gets early debut
A facelifted version of the Suzuki Swift has been given an accidental early debut from by the firm’s Belgian operation. It reveals a subtly revised look for the firm’s staple supermini, the refreshed version of which is due to reach the UK later this summer.
Visual differences externally are minor, the most noticeable being the LED lights at the front. The external refresh also includes new wheel and colour choices. There are a few visual tweaks inside too, but the biggest change is set to be the addition of sat-nav to top-spec models.
The standard engine range of the Swift – a 1.2-litre petrol and a 1.3-litre diesel – is set to carryover unchanged. But the 1.6-litre petrol-powered Swift Sport’s range will expand with the addition of a new five-door model to compliment the existing three-door.
The other big change for the Swift will be the option of all-wheel drive. Two versions will be offered: one that looks identical to a normal Swift save for a 20mm higher ride height, and another that gets body cladding to visually distinguish it from the standard version.
UK pricing for new Chevrolet C7 Corvette Stingray announced
Pricing for the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray will start at £61,495 in the UK, some £1,500 less than its predecessor, the C6 coupé.
While this price is still nearly double the US list price of $51,995, UK cars will be equipped with the Z51 performance pack, which includes an aero package, upgraded suspension and an electronically controlled limited-slip differential.
Larger wheels (19-inch front, 20-inch rear) and brakes (345mm front, 338mm rear) are also included. The C7-generation car’s magnetic ride control suspension has been tuned for British roads, however, so expect the Stingray to be more compliant than previous Corvettes.
Although Chevrolet this year admitted it plans to build right-hand-drive Corvettes in the future, UK Stingrays will initially be left-hand drive. Options will include metallic paint (£600), 'Tintcoat' paint (£1,000), sat-nav (£1,450) and black aluminium wheels (£550).
The C7 will be the most powerful entry-level Corvette built to date, developing 455bhp and 460lb ft from its dry-sumped 6.2-litre LT1 V8. Opt for the performance exhaust system and the engine's output climbs to 460bhp and 465lb ft.
Despite the power on offer, Chevrolet is expecting the C7's extra-urban economy to exceed 31mpg (UK).
Both coupé and convertible models will be available, with seven-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions.
Video: Mercedes CLA45 AMG tested
According to Mercedes, the CLA45 AMG has the same performance as the mighty Mercedes A45 AMG. But, as Steve Sutcliffe discovers in this video road test, there's a little something missing - especially given the asking price. Watch on to find out more, or for a full review and pictures click here.