• Qoros 3 Hatch goes on sale in Shanghai

    June 30, 2014

    China’s Qoros Auto Company has begun sales of its second model, the Qoros 3 Hatch, and it appears to be one of the more promising offerings from China’s nascent auto industry.

    The five-door Qoros 3 Hatch hews closely to the concept version that was shown at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. The company followed a similar Geneva-concept-to-summer-debut schedule in 2013 when launching its first model, the Qoros 3 Sedan.

    On paper, the Qoros 3 Hatch is rather middling. Its size falls within a centimeters of the Mazda bearing the same model name, but there is absolutely no fear of getting the two confused. Propulsion comes from a DOHC 16-valve 1.6-liter inline-four with variable valve timing, a setup generating 124hp and 114 pound feet of torque. Buyers will have their option of having a 6-speed rower or automatic.

    A turbocharged variant makes 154hp and 155 lb-ft, but is, disappointingly, offered only with the 6-speed dual-clutch automatic. According to the company, its 0-62 time clocks in at a prehistoric 9.7 seconds while its top speed is a more reasonable 130 mph. Clearly Qoros has prioritized fuel economy over performance, with turbo models achieving 36 mpg.

    However, what sets the Qoros apart is that it’s the first Chinese car to receive a five-star safety rating in European NCAP crash tests. Export to Europe is definitely part of the Qoros plan, and as such it also boasts a comparatively handsome design not derived from established automakers.

    The 3 isn’t a de-contented econobox, either. It comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment unit complete with Bluetooth and music streaming services, traction and stability control, and daytime running lights. All but the lowest trim levels have a rear parking camera, heated door mirrors, cloud-based dynamic traffic and parking info, and tire pressure indicators.

    Though Qoros has only sells a few hundred units per month at this point, the joint venture — established between Chery and an Israeli holding company in 2007 — is just getting started. Prices start at $19,277 for the naturally aspirated motor and $25,387 for the turbo.

  • BMW to open mega-store showcase in Tokyo

    June 30, 2014

    BMW has announced plans to open a large showcase complex in Tokyo, intended as a one-stop shop for all that is BMW.

    Tentatively called the BMW Group Mobility Center, it will allow patrons to view the the entire BMW lineup, including its motorcycles and the cars of the MINI brand. The facility will exhibit about 50 vehicles, but an additional 100 will be on hand for rentals and test drives on an adjacent, scaled-down “BMW Driving Experience” course.

    In addition, there will be a large multi-purpose event hall that can accommodate up to 500 people, where driving training classes, lectures on the company’s eco-friendly endeavors and other activities can take place. A cafe will also be on hand.

    Japan is no stranger to the concept of automotive mega-stores. Toyota has operated its Megaweb showcase in the popular waterfront shopping district of Odaiba for over a decade, and until recently had a second showroom in north Tokyo that closed last fall. Nissan also has similar complexes on the outskirts of Tokyo. If BMW’s new setup is anything like Megaweb’s, it’ll also contain a gift shop, kid-friendly activity stations and a rotation of classic cars from the automaker’s collection.

    BMW’s Mobility Center is scheduled to open in November 2015.

  • MG introduces MG3 Trophy Championship concept

    June 30, 2014
    Chinese-owned MG has introduced a new concept car called MG3 Trophy Championship at the Goodwood Festival of Speed that is taking place this weekend in England.

    Visually, the 3 Trophy Championship stands out from the stock MG3 sub-compact hatchback thanks to aerodynamic upgrades like a front splitter, side skirts and an oversized trunk-mounted spoiler. Black 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped by low-profile tires and a two-tone flat red and black paint job wrap up the visual updates.

    Pictures of the interior were not published but MG promises the 3 Trophy packs a full roll cage, a built-in fire extinguisher and a quick-release steering wheel. Bucket seats presumably come standard, and the bulk of the 3′s sound deadening material has been removed in order to shed precious pounds.

    Power comes from a modified version of the regular-production 3′s 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that has been upgraded with a re-programmed ECU, high-profile cams, billet aluminum pistons and a turbocharger cooled by an intercooler. The mill sends 207 horsepower – about 100 horsepower more than its naturally-aspirated counterpart – and 191 lb-ft. of torque to the front wheels via a limited-slip differential.

    MG says it asked its engineers to build the 3 Trophy Championship concept in order to find out whether British enthusiasts are interested in participating in a one-make race series. The event will kick off next year if the concept generates enough positive feedback.

  • Lada updates 37-year old SUV

    June 30, 2014
    A batch of leaked images have prematurely revealed a more modern-looking variant of the Lada Niva SUV dubbed Urban. Well into its 37th consecutive year on the market, the Niva remains a popular off-roader in its home country of Russia and in many parts of Europe.

    The leaked images show the Lada Niva Urban gets a new radiator grille with three slats, body colored plastic bumpers on both ends, a rear wiper and plastic hubcaps mounted on upsized 17-inch wheels. Interior pictures were not leaked but Russian magazine Drive reports the Niva Urban comes standard with air conditioning, power windows and additional sound-deadening material.

    The Niva Urban carries on with a 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine that sends 80 horsepower to all four wheels via a five-speed manual transmission that features a granny gear. The Niva reaches 62 mph from a stop in 16 seconds before going on to a top speed of 85 mph.

    Buyers looking to slash their fuel bill can order a factory-built LPG-burning variant of the Niva at an extra cost.

    Official details about the updated Lada Niva Urban will emerge in the weeks leading up to its debut at next August’s Moscow Motor Show. Lada has not announced whether or not Urban will join the standard Niva in European showrooms.