City Car, News

Fiat reveals new 124 Spider at Los Angels Auto Show

Fiat has pulled the covers off an all-new roadster - the 124 Spider.

Unveiled almost 50 years since its famous predecessor was launched, the new model pays homage to the 'style and attitude' of the original car. 

The compact, lightweight rear-wheel drive Spider is powered by a MultiAir Turbo engine and features 'sophisticated suspension' and 'steering tuned for driving pleasure, roof up or down'.

Designed at Centro Stile in Turin, Italy, the new Fiat 124 Spider takes its inspiration from the 1966 original, not only in terms of its proportions and stance but also in terms of its detailing. A horizontal line emerges from the front wing, kicking up over the rear haunch and flowing toward the tail lamp, aping the distinctive bodywork of the original car, while the style and position of the LED headlamps, and the hexagonal upper grille, both draw heavily from the details of the classic roadster.

The bonnet of the new sports car also emulates the 'twin power domes' of the second-generation Fiat 124 Spider while the rear view is defined by two main features - the "seagull" wings, the upper surface of which fall inward toward the decklid, and the sharp horizontal tail lamps, which incorporate a new Fiat stylistic sign of body-coloured inserts launched with the new Fiat 500. An integrated rear spoiler enhances the aerodynamic performance of the new Fiat 124 Spider, while twin exhaust outlets underline the performance capability of the engine.

The interior 'mixes Italian style with the classic ingredients of a driver-focussed roadster'. The low-slung seats are comprised of a lightweight net structure with a unique foam shape and are trimmed in premium upholstery, aligning the driver with the sporty steering wheel and ideally-located pedals and gear-shifter. The three-gauge instrument cluster with its central rev-counter 'hints at the excitement awaiting the driver' says Fiat.

The operation of the soft top, with spring-assisted opening and closing eliminates the need for a power assist system - while the windows automatically lower and rise when the header-rail lock levers are operated. The new Spider also uses sound insulation to reduce noise while driving with the top up. The soft top is fitted with a headliner inside the vehicle for improved sound absorption and there's a rear package mat to provide further sound absorption and insulation.

Powered by a 1.4-litre MultiAir Turbo engine producing 140hp and 240Nm of torque, it drives the rear wheels for the first time via a lightweight, quick-shifting six-speed manual transmission, specially optimised for this high torque output.

Key to the dynamic abilities of the 124 Spider is its lightweight body structure, achieved using aluminium and high-tensile steel. The suspension of the Fiat 124 Spider is comprised of a double-wishbone front and multilink rear arrangement, with a rear set-up engineered to increase toe-in under high cornering forces for improved stability.

The standard-fit infotainment unit offers a 'high level' of equipment including a USB/auxiliary input, six speakers and Bluetooth connectivity, while the enhanced version features a seven-inch touchscreen display, DAB digital radio, two USB ports, multimedia control, a reversing camera and a 3D navigation system, with phone calls, music and navigation all voice-controlled.

The Fiat 124 Spider will go on sale in the UK during the second half of 2016 with pricing and final specifications to be announced at a later date.


Maserati window display in Liberty London

Maserati has joined forces with iconic London department store Liberty for an interactive window display.

The Italian car maker and the department store have also helped launch fashion charity LDNY's new 'Legacy' collection.

The unique and interactive window display at the Regent Street store features three examples from the Legacy collection alongside cutting-edge technology from 'Those' - a London-based digital design works - with their digital drawing system 'The Woodpecker'.

The Woodpecker is a drawing robot that sketches images of Maserati cars, as well as images from the Legacy Collection and Liberty's famous Tudor-style shop-front onto the glass window live in front of London shoppers. The Woodpecker also invites members of the public to be a part of the window display by writing tweets using the hashtag #LibertyxMaserati onto the glass.

A VIP event was hosted at Liberty earlier in the week to celebrate the charity fashion collection and officially launch the window display. Guests from the worlds of fashion and enterprise were joined by the likes of English fashion designer Ozwald Boateng, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council Caroline Rush and Hip-hop artist Eve Jeffers at the 140 year-old London department store. A fleet of Maserati Quattroportes lined Great Marlborough Street where the store's main entrance is located.

The Legacy Collection is an ethical, luxury fashion project by the LDNY Foundation which promotes female designers from around the world. The LDNY Foundation is a partnership between London College of Fashion (LCF) and Parson's School in New York. Students from both universities entered designs by artisans inspired by nations such as Ethiopia, India, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea and Peru into a competition.

Peter Denton, Region Manager, Maserati North Europe said, "LDNY is a charity Maserati has been supporting since early 2015 when the first designs were showcased at Goldsmiths College. We're delighted to see the final Legacy Collection in the window at Liberty, which is such an iconic fashion venue in London. Maserati has always been known for being a pioneer of style and design in the automotive world, so it's an honour to champion new fashion innovators here in London."

Sports Car, News, Hatchback

New flagship trim levels for Alfa Romeo MiTo and Giulietta

The Alfa Romeo MiTo and Alfa Romeo Giulietta ranges have both received new trim levels.

A new Collezione specification is available in both models, while a new Sprint Speciale version joins the Alfa Romeo Giulietta range.

The Collezione versions are the new flagships of their respective ranges, offering a more 'luxurious and elegant specification' than the sporty QV Line models. In the case of the Alfa Romeo MiTo Collezione, standard equipment includes 17-inch 'Collezione Bronze' alloy wheels with matching bronze-effect door mirrors and satin-effect headlight and tail light surrounds.

The interior is trimmed in special Collezione cloth and 'eco-leather' upholstery, with brown stitching on the flat-bottom steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake gaiter. A split-folding, three-seat rear bench, sports dials, special Collezione vintage floor mats and a Uconnect NAV infotainment system with TomTom satellite navigation and DAB radio round out the flagship spec.

Offered with a choice of a 0.9-litre TwinAir Turbo 105hp or 1.4-litre Turbo Petrol 140hp engines (the latter with Alfa's six-speed ALFA TCT twin-clutch transmission and uprated Brembo brakes as standard) the Alfa Romeo MiTo Collezione is priced at £17,660 OTR and £19,210 OTR respectively.

The Giulietta Collezione builds on the high specification of the Exclusive trim with a gloss-black painted roof and matching door mirrors, front and rear parking sensors and unique, dark-finish, 18-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels. Inside, the seats are trimmed in bespoke 'Collezione' leather with heated front seats, joined by a 6.5-inch Uconnect NAV system with advanced voice operated sat nav with 3D mapping and DAB digital radio as standard.

Prices for the Giulietta Collezione start at £24,820 for the 1.4 MultiAir Turbo Petrol 170hp six-speed manual, or £26,245 with the six-speed Alfa TCT twin-clutch transmission. The diesel Giulietta Collezione range starts at £25,680 for the 2.0 JTDM-2 150hp manual, with the 2.0 JTDM-2 175hp ALFA TCT version completing the new Collezione range at £27,840.

A new Giulietta Sprint Speciale also joins the range, building on the specification of the Sprint model to offer further performance-oriented equipment. The Sprint Speciale adds sports suspension, 17-inch sports alloy wheels, Brembo brakes, aluminium pedals and Quadrifoglio-style sports seats as standard, along with dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, special silver dashboard trim, the 'Visibility Pack' and cruise control.

The engine range includes the 1.4 TB MultiAir 150hp, priced from £23,320 with a six-speed manual or £24,745 with the six-speed ALFA TCT (including steering-wheel mounted paddle-shifters). The Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciale powered by the 2.0 JTDM-2 150hp is priced from £24,180 while the 2.0 JTDM-2 175hp ALFA TCT version is priced from £26,340 OTR.


Limited Edition Zagato binoculars by Leica

Premium camera manufacturer Leica has unveiled a special limited edition set of binoculars, created in collaboration with Italian design house Zagato.

The Ultravid 8x32 'Edition Zagato' blends elegant design with outstanding, cutting-edge optical technology, says Leica, and is strictly limited to just 1,000 sets globally. 

Combining quality, craftsmanship and tradition to reflect the values and heritage of both companies, they have been crafted with an aluminium outer shell, featuring hundreds of fine grooves milled into the surface - resulting in a unique, tactile finish, while the front lenses feature two red anodised rings inscribed with the Zagato name.

To complement these special binoculars, the 'Edition Zagato' also includes a case designed by Zagato, with a matching carrying strap and hand strap in genuine Italian leather.

Zagato was founded in Milan in 1919 by Ugo Zagato, famous for having been the first in the automotive industry to apply advanced, lightweight aviation technology to design more aerodynamic car bodies. Zagato's Atelier and Total Design Centre remains in Milan, where it continues to design and build unique, limited-series collectible cars. 

The Leica Ultravid 8x32 'Edition Zagato' will be available in the UK from September from selected UK Leica stockists, at a suggested retail price of £2,465.

Sports Car, News

Lamborghini unveils Aventador LP 750-4 SV Roadster

The new Lamborghini Aventador LP 750-4 Superveloce Roadster has made its global debut in California.

The Roadster, presented at the famous event 'The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering' in Monterey, is available in a limited series of 500 units worldwide and is the first series-produced, open-top Lamborghini to bear the name Superveloce.

''The Superveloce is the purest, most sports-oriented and fastest series production Lamborghini ever. The Roadster version represents our commitment to satisfying our passionate clients with immensely emotional driving dynamics combined with an extraordinary open air experience,'' Stephan Winkelmann, President and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini said during the press conference at The Quail.

The new car offers improved performance with a power increase of 50 hp to 750 hp and a dry weight of 1,575 kg - 50 kg lighter than the Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster. 

In an enhancement to the Superveloce Coupe experience, the new Roadster features a powered rear window that allows the engine sound to fill the cabin with 'invigorating tones and harmonics during spirited driving', says Lamborghini.

Family Car, News

Italian Police chooses SEAT Leon

SEAT has won the fleet contract to supply new Leon cars to the Italian police.

The first 206 vehicles have already started being handed over, with an initial 106 service vehicles being delivered to the Carabinieri and a further 100 to the Polizia di Stato. Overall, the contract includes the option for up to 4,000 vehicles over the next three years. So far, they have taken orders for 925 cars, split between 475 'panthers' (Polizia di Stato) and 450 'gazelles' (Carabinieri).

This marks the first time that both police forces have tendered and selected the same brand and the same vehicle. SEAT says that major factors in the decision included the Leon’s low fuel consumption and emissions figures, as well as its high quality and excellent total cost of ownership.

"We are honoured by the trust given by the Italian police in SEAT and the Leon. And we are very proud to be able to contribute thanks to reliable, secure and high quality vehicles to public safety," says Jurgen Stackmann, Chairman of the Executive Committee of SEAT. 

The new Italian police cars are based on the five-door Leon powered by the 150 PS version of the 2.0 TDI engine. The front end of the cars will be armoured against small arms fire and special safety tyres are fitted, with the suspension adapted to suit. 

Warning and alarm lights, radio and communications equipment, weapons carriers and other items of equipment are also featured and the back seat is laid out as a secure 'prisoner cell', with police officers seated in the front protected by a dividing partition.

Extensive prototype tests were conducted with two vehicles codenamed 'gazelle' and 'panther', while comprehensive endurance testing assured the quality of the vehicles, which will face harsh and demanding conditions in day-to-day use. The armoured door, for instance, was opened and closed 100,000 times and the two vehicles were finally driven continuously for 30,000 kilometres, stopping only to refuel and relieve drivers. 

The base vehicles are produced at the SEAT factory in Martorell near Barcelona, before being transferred to Chivasso, Italy for further adaptation at N.C.T. (Nuova Carrozzeria Torinese), the specialist firm that has converted most of the police cars in Italy since 2003.