Tag Archives: SEAT

Audi Design Undergoing Massive Shakeup

By Jens Meiners

Sweeping changes are happening at Audi design, we’re hearing from our sources. Chief designer Wolfgang Egger is executing a number of high-level personnel changes at Audi’s Ingolstadt design studio, while hiring new designers from SEAT, Alfa Romeo, and elsewhere. Former Bentley chief designer Dirk van Braeckel now is responsible for Audi motorsport and original equipment.

Triggered by Egger, as well as R&D chief Wolfgang Dürheimer, the company’s award-winning design strategy is under review. Audi has recently come under considerable, perhaps exaggerated, criticism for the visual similarities between its different model lines. When speaking with Egger at the New York auto show, he assured Car and Driver that the time of “scalable design” is over. Check back to C/D for more information on the changes within Audi design and what they mean for the brand.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/caranddriver/blog/~3/nACQ9WpelGg/

SEAT Leon SC: SEAT’s Sportiest Offering Debuts for Europe [2013 Geneva Auto Show]

By Jens Meiners

Seat Leon SC FR 3-door hatchback

A half year after the unveiling of the third-generation SEAT Leon, VW’s struggling Spanish affiliate launches its first-ever three-door derivative, the SEAT Leon SC. The abbreviation stands for Sports Coupé—and to prove its sporting aspirations, the Leon SC comes with a shorter wheelbase and a more attractive rear end, which slightly reminds us of the beautiful but inherently flawed Alfa Romeo Brera. And that, perhaps, is no coincidence: SEAT has been targeting Fiat’s sporty subsidiary for a few years, even though customers have failed to respond to the supposed move upmarket so far.

The Leon SC is available with four diesel engines: a 1.6 TDI with 90 or 105 horsepower, and a 2.0 TDI with 150 or 184 horsepower. It also can be had with one of five gasoline engines: a 1.2 TSI with 86 or 105 horsepower, a 1.4 TSI with 122 or 140 horsepower, and a 1.8 TSI with 180 horsepower. Manual and dual-clutch automatic gearboxes are available. And the most powerful version is yet to come: The Leon Cupra, due to be launched in late 2013, with a 2.0-liter TSI that produces around 300 horsepower, just like in the upcoming VW Golf R and Audi S3. SEAT will introduce a third body variation—a five-door station wagon, due before the end of 2013 as well.

Technological highlights include a multilink rear axle, which is standard on the top-of-the-line diesel and gasoline versions, and optional LED headlights. The Valeo-supplied units, dubbed BiLED, are a novelty in this class, and they create a specific, triangular light signature for the Leon.

SEAT has no plans to launch in the U.S., but the brand is betting big on the Chinese market. The Leon could become a real success in Europe as well because unlike its Audi A3 and VW Golf sister models, it takes a stylistic leap forward.

2013 Geneva auto show full coverage

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

The Continental: BMW Sells Husqvarna, An Electric City Car, Goodbye to the C6, and a Bad VW Group Decision

By Jens Meiners

The Continental

Each week, our German correspondent slices and dices the latest rumblings, news, and quick-hit driving impressions from the other side of the pond. His byline may say Jens Meiners, but we simply call him . . . the Continental.

BMW C evolution

BMW has sold off Husqvarna to the Austrian Pierer Industrie AG, which owns motorcycle-maker KTM. The Bavarians had bought the (originally) Swedish company in 2008 and never achieved the sales and financial targets that were set with the purchase. Now BMW is serving up a politically correct explanation, saying that the realignment of its motorcycle business without Husqvarna will focus on “urban mobility and e-mobility.” It kind of reminds me of the reasoning in 2009 for pulling out of F1, in which reasons of “sustainability and environmental consciousness” were cited.

BMW has announced it is expanding its remaining motorcycle presence with an electric scooter called C Evolution and also talks of “further innovative vehicle concepts.” Perhaps the time is right for something like BMW’s C1, the Bertone-built city scooter sold between 2000 and 2003. It offered partial weather protection and was conceived as an alternative to city cars, but only sold in low numbers and was yanked from the market prematurely.

Technical University of Munich Visio.M

Meanwhile, work is progressing on the Visio.M, an electric city vehicle developed by the Technical University of Munich with assistance from consortial leaders BMW, Daimler, and a number of suppliers and public entities. The passenger cell will be made of carbon fiber, and it will be powered by a asynchronous electric motor coupled to an extremely lightweight transmission. Anti-lock brakes are standard, as is a torque-vectoring system. It is an interesting project, but I know for a fact that it does not rank highly on BMW’s list of priorities. The Visio.M is a tiny vehicle, and as of today, there are no plans to integrate it into BMW’s model range—ever.

Citroën C6

Adieu, C6! 

It has been over a month, but this deserves mention: The Citroën C6 is history, and the last one rolled off the assembly line in December. Based on the smaller C5 sedan, the C6 was a car that was compromised in many ways. I have tested several of them over the years, and while the air suspension provided a generally good ride, it was jittery over smaller bumps; the steering was utterly overboosted, Cadillac XTS–style; and the frameless side windows tended to be pulled out of their guides at over 130 mph. To get them fully up again, you needed to slow down to 80 mph. In 2009, the C6′s gasoline V-6 was killed, somewhat disingeniously leaving the luxurious Citroën only with diesel engines.

Citroën C6 interior

What’s more, the C6 is a prime example of how not to launch a car. The C6 Lignage—which previewed the design of the production C6—was shown in 1999, a full six years before the car went on sale. Offered at a far higher price point, it never matched the success of its predecessor, the angular and futuristic XM.

On the plus side, the C6 was a daring design, evoking memories of the classic Citroën DS and CX sedans. Its interior was stunning, with details such as gliding covers in the doors, and generously applied Mukonto wood, the sort used by the Zulu tribe to make spears. Far from perfect, the C6 had character. I liked it.

SEAT Ibiza Cupra

SEAT’s Flawed Hot Hatch

The hot hatch segment is in full bloom again in Europe. The latest entry is the SEAT Ibiza Cupra, a sister model to the Volkswagen Polo GTI with a 180-hp, turbocharged and supercharged 1.4-liter engine and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Sadly, no manual is offered. Come on, in this class? Surely, there should be enough volume in the sporty versions of the Ibiza (and the architecturally similar Audi A1, Škoda Fabia, and VW Polo), to justify the application of a six-speed manual, like in their lesser siblings. It’s a good thing that PSA still offers two vehicles in this class with a manual: The Citroën DS3 Racing and the Peugeot 208 GTi. I’ll take one of those over an automatic VW Group car any time.

2013 Honda Accord

Sampling an American Favorite

It was interesting to spend some time behind the wheel of the U.S.-market Honda Accord. For over a decade, the European and American Accord models have been different vehicles. American customers get a variation of the European Accord in the form of Acura’s TSX. I sampled the U.S. Accord in all available engine and transmission configurations, and my hands-down favorite, unsurprisingly, was the V-6 coupe equipped with the manual transmission. It handled so well and sounded so sweet that I would consider it against a 3-series coupe or Audi A5. It’s less of a love affair with the CVT, which seems to reflect a little too long before actually performing the belt adjustments needed for acceleration. The standard inline-four is surprisingly silky, the body is tight, and the suspension is competent, almost BMW-like, under spirited driving.

2013 Honda Accord interior

When you look closely at the Accord, you can see some cost-cutting, like the exposed trunk hinges. And I don’t get the instrument panel, which is a garbled assemblage of buttons and monitors. There are many ways to enter data into the navigation system, none of which works intuitively. And the styling? It is better than the previous generation, which displayed a jarring disconnect between the front end and the rest of the car, but I wouldn’t call it exciting. Nevertheless, I am not surprised at the Accord’s popularity among Americans. The too-innocent skin hides a chassis and an engine that tease you to play.

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver