The Alfa Romeo Guilietta
Named as a celebrated model of the ‘50s that was the first mass-produced Alfa, the successor of Alfa Romeo147 has risen to the occasion with a nice style that doesn’t betray the expectations and a road attitude packed with agile handling and good comfort. The 5-door model premieres a new ‘architecture’ in Fiat group devised to enhance structural stiffness, weight containment, noise suppression and climate control. Despite the coupe-like roof line, cabin and boot are reasonably ample. The results in Euro NCAP are the best of a compact car sofar. The Giulietta has an assorted engine offer, including an efficient 1.4 MultiAir with hydraulic valve actuation and 170 hp. All engines have an stop-start device as standard, except the sporty 1.750 TB (235 hp).
Citroen C3 / DS3
After a long commercial life of the first C3, Citroën has almost repeated the carefree, round shape of its small 5-door car, now with better quality, a new platform and a roomier cabin and boot. There is also the special option of the panoramic Zenith windscreen, where the glass in the roof area expands dramatically the angle of vision. The character is focused in practicality and comfort, while the engine line is addressed to fuel efficiency. At the same time, that new platform is also used in the first delivery of the upmarket DS line of Citroën models, the DS3, with a ‘premium’ bias. It is a nice looking three-door with lower line, specific style, richer equipment and much more dynamic suspension/steering settings than C3’s. The engines are more powerful too.
Dacia has been the European champion of low cost for some time, with a growing acceptance of its products outside Romania because of the good value. The Renault subsidiary does it again with the Duster, the most affordable SUV in the market. Compact at 4.31 m, the new 5-door body sits on the usual, rugged Logan platform, with a raised ground clearance, 210 mm. Petrol engine is a 105 hp 1.6, while 1.5 diesel is offered in 85 and 109 hp versions. In 4X4 derivatives, the rear suspension is McPherson style with multilink arrangement, and the 6-speed manual gearbox has a very low first gear for difficult off-road conditions. Total weight increases in 90 kg for the integral transmission, and the boot capacity of 475 dm3 shrinks a bit for the different rear suspension.
The Ford C Max and Grand C-Max
The C-Max was ambassador for the second generation of Focus, and these MPVs will also precede Focus III, a car to be launched in 2011. In fact, this global C-platform will be the base for at least ten Ford models totalling two million units per year. Fully updated in equipment and cabin versatility, the new C-Max improves the offer in refinement and comfort. A new generation of turbocharged, direct injection petrol engines –EcoBoost- with power up to 180 hp, lots of torque and good fuel efficiency, will go along the popular diesel units. First C-Max was criticized for not offering seven seats. That’s the task of new Grand C-Max, with its wheelbase stretched 140 mm to allow for the foldable third row, increasing the overall length of the vehicle to 4.52 m.
Nissan – and Renault- have made a big bet on electric cars. The undeniable social convenience of this alternative has more backing from political promises than from potential customers in the short term. Cars like the Leaf might operate a change in public opinion, even if a wide acceptance won’t be assured without less costly batteries with bigger range, something to come next. This pioneer is a practical proposition from the point of view of usability and performance. In fact it is the equivalent to a usual compact car, and much more efficient in aural comfort; perhaps too much for safety purposes. Public incentives will partly solve the question of ‘raw’ prices. An operative recharging net will be needed to bring the Leaf beyond the urban/suburban scene.
Opel Vauxhall / Meriva
Small MPVs have not historically recorded big sales but Meriva has always been the leader of this segment. Second generation keeps the nameplate but widens the spectrum of customers. The approach is quite different, the use of a platform from a bigger, roomier car –the Zafira- changes all, to begin with. Looks also improve with a profile that seems less tall to the eye, more similar to a conventional hatchback. And road handling is also closer to a normal car. In top of the inner versatility expectable in any MPV, the new Meriva offers a bonus in access to its cabin, thanks to its rear-hinged rear doors, an arrangement unusual in recent times, now made safe. FlexFix, the well known integrated bicycle rear carrier of Opel, is available in the Meriva too.
Volvo S60 / V60
The veteran Swede goes on, now under Chinese rule. No traces of a different future sofar, as S60/V60 still show the unmistakably Volvo character, as well as the technical resources from Ford parts bin. The new models, 4.63 m in size, are about the most compact D-segment cars. The approach is of more dynamism, in looks and handling, also an elegant cabin, with the dash oriented to the driver. The S60 has not an ample boot, therefore the V60 with bigger cargo space is more suitable for practicality. Moderate in fuel consumption, all the petrol and diesel engines are turbocharged, with a 3.0 top option of 304 hp and all wheel drive. Volvo is much prouder of its Pedestrian Detection device, that produces a fully automatic braking in case of need.
The winner of 2011 Car Of The Year
The Leaf has been conceived atop an specific platform for electric vehicles, with features typical of a conventional compact car: front McPherson suspension, rear torsion beam, front wheel drive and a practical 5-door hatchback body with remarkable aerodynamics. The pack of lithium-ion batteries sits efficiently for space and weight distribution, under the floor and between the axles. Room for 4/5 occupants and a boot of reasonable volume put the practical side to the vehicle. With mechanical noise reduced to the distant buzz of the electric motor, there is a notorious sonic comfort.[...]
According to Executive Director of Edaran Tan Chong Motor Sdn Bhd (ETCM) – Dato’ Dr Ang Bon Beng also announce that a pilot program for the zero-emission 100% electric Nissan LEAF will be introduced in Malaysia in 1st half of 2012.
Body: 5-door hatchback
Size: 4.45 X 1.77 X 1.55 m. Wheelbase: 2.69 m.
Transmission: Front wheel drive. Automatic clutch. Single gear.
Tyres/wheels: 205/55-16 (6.5 X 16)
Engine: Electric AC syncronous motor.
Power - torque: 80 kW (109 hp) at 2,730-9,800 rpm – 280 Nm at 0-2,730 rpm
Maximum speed – 0-100 km/h acceleration: 145 km/h – 11.9 s.