• Shanghai LIVE: Peugeot 308 R HYbrid

    April 21, 2015
    Peugeot has revealed its new 308 R HYbrid concept in Shanghai, and it’s a bit of a monster.
    Developed by Peugeot Sport, the French automaker’s in-house performance shop, and packing 500 horsepower and more than 500 lb-ft of torque in its most aggressive drive mode, the 308 R HYbrid showcases dominating performance and fuel efficiency in a single package.

    “PEUGEOT Sport’s expertise applies an uncompromising approach to meeting targets. With our experience in hybrid vehicles developed with the PEUGEOT 908, the high-performance hybrid powertrain fitted to the 308 gives a glimpse of the potential for ultra-sports models in the future,” says Bruno Famin, Director at PEUGEOT Sport.

    The R HYbrid is no run-of-the-mill 308. The front and rear tracks are 80 mm wider and the 19″ wheels sport wider, stickier rubber. Under the hood, things get really interesting. Rather than a conventional, turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the 308 R HYbrid employs a plug-in hybrid system that sends power to all four wheels. The system incorporates two electric motors and a traditional gasoline engine. Each is capable of powering the vehicle independently, or they can be used in concert.

    Configured via a drive mode selector, the 308 R HYbrid has four performance modes: Hot Lap, Track, Road and ZEV.

    • Hot Lap mode maximizes power output for, appropriately, getting the fastest single lap time possible. In this mode, all 500 hp and 500+ lb-ft of torque are available to the driver.
    • In Track mode, the total system power is reduced to 400hp and just under 400 lb-ft are available, with primary output coming from the gasoline engine and the rear-mounted electric motor. The front motor is activated depending on need.
    • In Road mode, only 300hp is available. The front electric drive is disabled entirely, but the gasoline engine still operates at full capacity.
    • ZEV mode is exactly what it sounds like–electric-only operation. The rear motor operates full time and the front is activated if the driver commands more power using the throttle.

    The sporty exterior look is completed with a checker-mesh grille, “expressive” louvres on the hood, a narrow hatch spoiler and a two-tone paint finish consisting of a French racing blue (prepped with glass particles for extra pop) and matte black. Inside, the dash is unique, made using a digital weaving technique. There’s no rear bench; instead, there are four individual bucket seats wrapped in fawn-colored leather. Paddle shifters for the six-speed transmission are found behind the wheel, and a digital HUD sits just above the cluster. Power and drive mode buttons adorn the center console.

    Live images by Ronan Glon.

  • Shanghai LIVE: 2016 Ford Taurus

    April 21, 2015
    Ford has revealed its market-exclusive 2016 Taurus in Shanghai.
    While the exterior differences are minor, the real changes are found under the hood and between the wheels. Under the hood, the Chinese-market Taurus will be powered by Ford’s new, 2.7L, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 exclusively. No turbo-four or naturally aspirated six-cylinder will be available.

    Like many sedans crafted exclusively for the Chinese market, Ford’s revised Taurus caters to the executive sedan buyer. The wheelbase is longer, allowing for additional rear-seat room. To maximize this space, Ford employed a rear sunroof design that slides over its own panels, increasing headroom behind the first row.

    “The Ford Taurus was created for highly sophisticated consumers in China who need an equally sophisticated vehicle for both business and personal use,” said Marin Burela, president, Changan Ford Automobile Co. “With a powerful, confident and inviting design, a spacious and elegant interior, impeccable craftsmanship, compelling performance and advanced technology, the Ford Taurus makes no compromises as an innovative flagship sedan.”

    Rear comfort is enhanced by interior equipment upgrades. The power-reclining rear seats feature optional adjustable lumbar support and a massage function. The center rear seat folds down to reveal a control panel for air conditioning, seat functions and car media. Folding it up allows the vehicle to comfortably accommodate three rear passengers with a 40/20/40 rear-seat layout.

    “Beautiful design, craftsmanship, refinement, comfort and power help the Taurus to rise above the typical large sedan, but they are only part of the story,” said Burela. “We look forward to sharing more about our new premium business sedan over the months ahead.”

    Live images by Ronan Glon.

  • Shanghai LIVE: VW-owned Skoda’s Fabia R 5 race car

    April 21, 2015
    Volkswagen’s Czech Republic-based Škoda division has introduced a new race car called Fabia R 5. The R 5 was designed to replace the highly-successful Fabia Super 2000 that has been tearing up race tracks all over the globe for the past couple of years.
    The hatchback is a Fabia in name only. Visually, it benefits from a long list of aerodynamic add-ons including a lip spoiler that is seemingly riveted to the front bumper, fender flares, side skirts and a sizable spoiler out back. A large air dam integrated into the front bumper and twin vents cut into the hood have been added to help cool the engine.

    Škoda promises the Fabia R 5 gets a full roll cage, a pair of bucket seats and a race-specific instrumentation. The cockpit has been totally stripped in order to shed as much weight as possible, but Škoda points out that FIA regulations dictate the car must tip the scale at over 2,711 pounds.

    Following the sanctioning body’s latest round of regulations, the Fabia R 5 is powered by a downsized turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that spins all four wheels via a five-speed sequential gearbox. Škoda has not revealed how much power the turbo four pumps out.

    The Škoda Fabia R 5 has been homologated by the FIA, meaning that it is ready to go racing. Interested teams and privateers will be able to purchased the Czech company’s newest race car before the end of the year.

    Live images by Ronan Glon.

  • Shanghai LIVE: 2016 Cadillac CT6 plug-in hybrid

    April 21, 2015
    Cadillac has introduced a plug-in hybrid version of the CT6 at the Shanghai Motor Show.
    The PHEV variant features an all-new electric variable transmission (EVT) designed for rear-wheel-drive vehicles, integrating dual electric motors and attached to a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

    The setup is good for 335 horsepower and 432 lb-ft of torque, matching the horsepower output of Cadillac’s naturally-aspirated V6 and exceeding the torque rating of even the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 of the range-topping package.

    “The CT6 PHEV will deliver exceptional smooth, responsive acceleration that Cadillac and luxury sedan owners demand,” said CT6 executive chief engineer Travis Hester. “We have managed to achieve superior drive quality when compared to our PHEV competitors due to our exclusively designed EVT.”

    For buyers more concerned with electric range rather than power, the company has outfitted the PHEV with an 18.4-kWh battery pack between the rear seat and the trunk. The system is comprised of 192 prismatic pouch cells, with active thermal control to help maintain charge range over years of use.

    Range estimates will not be announced until closer to the US launch date, but the setup is said to provide enough electricity for “most daily commutes.” For comparison, the new Audi A6 L e-tron integrates a slightly smaller 14.1-kWh battery that is claimed to last for 31 miles.

    The company also claiming its PHEV system will “more than double” the fuel-economy numbers of conventional powertrain offerings, however the reference is based on miles per gallon equivalent. Official figures are being kept under wraps for now.

    GM has not yet announced a launch date for the CT6 PHEV. The standard variants will be in showrooms late this year, suggesting the hybrid could be held until sometime in 2016.

    Live images by Ronan Glon.

  • Shanghai LIVE: Citroen Aircross concept

    April 21, 2015
    Citroën has unveiled a new concept car called Aircross at the Shanghai Motor Show.
    Visually, the Aircross concept borrows styling cues from the C4 Picasso people-mover and the C4 Cactus crossover. It gets a bold front end with a two-part radiator grille, slim LED headlights and a pair of air vents on the hood. The crossover’s profile is characterized by large alloy wheels, blacked-out door pillars that create a floating roof and rugged-looking trim at the bottom of the doors, while the back end gets horizontal LED tail lamps and a small roof-mounted spoiler.

    The concept offers seating for up to four passengers in a colorful and futuristic cockpit. The driver is treated to a heads-up display and a 12-inch high-definition color screen that replaces the traditional instrument cluster. A second foot-wide screen slides across the dashboard, letting the front passenger enjoy his or her own entertainment on the go or use the navigation system.

    Interestingly, Citroën’s latest concept features a microphone and a pair of speakers built into each seat, a technology gleaned from the world of motorcycles that helps the passengers communicate with each other even if all of the windows are down.

    The Aircross is powered by a plug-in hybrid drivetrain but full technical details have not been published yet.

    Although Citroën has not announced what the future holds for the Aircross concept, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a toned-down version of it land in showrooms in the next few years. If built, the crossover’s main market will be China, which likely explains why it wasn’t introduced last month at the annual Geneva Motor Show.

    Live images by Ronan Glon.