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September 25, 2014

News round-up: Stella McCartney’s Jaguar XE; Ralph Lauren shifts €22,000 Rickys; Perriam launches new brand

Lucire staff/23.59

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Ralph Lauren has been shifting its €22,000 crocodile skin Ricky bags at an event at its Amsterdam store, and gifted one of them to the Netherlands Museum of Bags and Purses. The bag, says the Museum, is regarded as an icon, on a par with the Hermès Birkin and the Chanel 2.55. The company also showed a Ricky bag with a USB port and LED lighting on the inside, which will be released worldwide in December, and sold on order.
   On Monday, Stella McCartney did indeed show her version of the Jaguar XE, as part of the Feel XE campaign for the Indian-owned company’s new compact executive saloon. The McCartney XE features her spring–summer 2015 ‘Superhero’ print, and a fleet of the cars will be seen on the streets of Paris on Monday to coincide with her new collection. The next reveal of the XE will be at the Salon de Paris on October 2.
   We’ve been fans of Otago designer Christina Perriam for years, and she will unveil a new luxury lifestyle brand, Perriam, in October. The label will adorn New Zealand-made merino clothing and a summer 2015 catwalk launch will take place for the line on October 18 in Bendigo. An online shop will go live at the same time, at perriam.co.nz. Perriam will begin with Woman and Little with Sleep ranges, and Man and Home will be added in 2015.
   And don’t forget the features that appear in the main part of the Lucire website. Jack Yan has tested the BMW 435i, the car that has attracted the most attention out of anything we’ve featured in our pages; Elyse Glickman tries the NutriBulletRx; and Stanley Moss takes in the 500th anniversary commemoration of Magellan’s voyage around the world, in Vicenza. We also had webcast the Miss Universe New Zealand grand final from Sky City Theatre last week, which you can still watch as an archived stream. The best way to keep up with the latest articles is to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus.



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September 9, 2014

Jaguar launches XE in London, with David Gandy, Stella McCartney, Eva Herzigova, Laura Whitmore

Lucire staff/1.28

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Jaguar has launched its most important car in years with the brand-new XE, a saloon that sees the Indian-owned company tackle a segment dominated by the BMW 3er and Audi A4. The XE also marks a new generation of Jaguars powered by the company’s new series of Ingenium engines, and features a first-in-segment aluminium-intensive monocoque structure for lightness and strength.
   Jaguar Land Rover, which has seen its profits soar in recent years, spared no expense with the XE’s launch in London, bringing celebrities including Stella McCartney, David Gandy, Eva Herzigova, Sir Stirling Moss, José Mourinho, Laura Whitmore, Damian Lewis, Ruben Cortada, David Blakeley, Sam Riley, Sienna Guillory, Steve Redgrave, Brian Johnson and Gary Lineker together at an event that saw Emeli Sandé, the Kaiser Chiefs, Eliza Doolittle, the Royal Ballet, Max Milner (The Voice), and members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra perform, and John Hannah narrating.
   While many saw the helicopter delivery of the red XE into London on Monday, Jaguar formally kicked off the launch event that evening at Earls Court with its VIP audience, with the performances evoking models from the company’s past, including the SS100 of 1935.
   Sandé composed a ‘Feels Like’ track for the event that had been inspired by the public via social media and the hashtag #FeelXE. The song received its première live on a floating stage on the Thames in a 45-minute set later in the evening, with the London Eye and County Hall as a backdrop.
   The performance was complemented with a projection-mapping show on London’s County Hall, showing the public’s messages that inspired the composition. Red flares lit up the London skyline in red to match the hero colour of the new car.
   McCartney will reveal her Parisian Feel XE experience later this month, while Idris Elba will reveal his Feel XE project afterwards.
   Earlier in the day, employees at Jaguar’s Solihull plant—where 1,700 jobs are expected to be created—formed an XE shape as the Red Arrows flew past, and the car was airlifted by helicopter toward London. It was placed on a high-speed landing craft on the Thames to Chelsea Harbour.
   In another nod to its past, Jaguar then had the new XE escorted by two 1960s Mk II police cars from Battersea Bridge to Earls Court.
   The “delivery” was intentional: Jaguar wanted to signal that the XE is the spiritual successor to the Mk II, still considered by many fans to be the quintessential Jaguar close-coupled sporting saloon, and the car that arguably pioneered the segment in which the new model now competes.
   One car from Jaguar’s past that was not mentioned was the X-type, the company’s turn-of-the-century attempt to tap into the compact executive market. Younger buyers rejected that model partly because of its unadventurous styling, overseen by Jaguar’s then-parent company Ford. The X-type was also hampered by its front-wheel-drive transmission on cheaper models, something that Jaguar has avoided repeating by giving the XE rear-wheel drive. It is also the most aerodynamic Jaguar made, with a drag coefficient of 0,26.
   The cab-backward fastback look of the XE takes styling themes established by the XJ and XF, and features a short front overhang and a low driving position. The car looks more aggressive and taut than the larger models, which should appeal to buyers in the segment.
   â€˜Our mission was to create an exciting and dynamic design clearly reflecting the XE’s positioning as a serious driver’s car. The cab-rearward proportions and tight packaging achieve that and give the XE the appearance of movement even when it’s standing still. It bears a strong family resemblance to the F-type and will stand apart in the crowd,’ says Jaguar’s director of design, Ian Callum.
   The aluminium components also mean more effective recycling, and in a world first for cars, Jaguar has specified RC5754, an aluminium alloy made from recycled material.
   The high-tech features extend to Jaguar’s new electric power steering, which is more efficient than a traditional hydraulic system, and what the company calls All Surface Progress Control (ASPC), which works as a low-speed cruise control that can control the brake system and powertrain for the best traction in slippery conditions. The XE also features a laser head-up display, nearly a third lighter than existing systems. Jaguar also débuts a new InControl infotainment system, which is claimed to be more intuitive, especially with a pioneering plain-speech voice control. The car is also a wifi hotspot for internet-enabled devices, and both Apple Iphone and Android users can control various functions remotely.
   Full details of the XE range will be released at the Salon de Paris on October 2. The range will be topped by a supercharged V6 delivering 340 PS, while the two-litre Ingenium diesel is claimed to deliver 75 mpg (Imperial) with carbon dioxide emissions of 99 g/km. Prices are set to begin at £27,000.















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September 2, 2014

Land Rover Discovery Sport revealed—claimed to be most versatile, capable premium compact SUV

Jack Yan/23.22

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Tata’s Jaguar Land Rover unit has released the Land Rover Discovery Sport, the successor to the Freelander.
   Land Rover has abandoned the Freelander name, which mainly had support from the UK market, but was less known elsewhere. By using the Discovery name, the new model can trade off the larger, more established SUV’s goodwill in more international markets.
   The compact SUV sector continues to be strong, especially in markets such as China, which has seen many launches over recent years.
   The Discovery Sport is the company’s most versatile entry in the compact sector, rivalling the Audi Q5—yet is shorter than that model while managing to have three rows of seats as standard (in the UK).
   BMW’s X3 and Volvo’s XC60 will also be in the Discovery Sport’s crosshairs.
   The styling combines elements of the existing Freelander’s design language with its clamshell bonnet—which can trace its origins to the Range Rover—and the thick C-pillar, but expressed in sleeker terms. Land Rover’s exterior design challenge was to give the Discovery Sport its sporting appearance—putting the S into SUV—while maximizing interior space.
   Land Rover says it has tried hard to ensure that the Discovery Sport is comfortable for urban use, while maintaining the sort of off-road abilities people have come to expect from its brand. It claims that the vehicle is more suited off-road than its immediate rivals in the compact premium SUV sector, aided by improvements in its Terrain Response software. The Discovery Sport has approach, departure, and breakover angles of 25, 31 and 21 degrees respectively, says the company, and can wade to 600 mm.
   Revised multi-link suspension at the rear has allowed greater space, while making the third row a reality.
   The bodyshell uses steel and aluminium, the latter to reduce weight.
   The interior features high-quality materials, an eight-inch touch-screen system, four 12 V power points, and the option of six USB charging ports for all three rows.
   The launch engine is Land Rover’s 2·2-litre turbodiesel with stop–start, developing 190 PS, with both nine-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmissions. A two-wheel-drive turbodiesel with carbon dioxide emissions of a targeted 119 g/km will be released in 2015.
   The digital reveal of the Sport was at Spaceport America, alongside a Galactic Discovery competition, which will see four winners head to space with Virgin Galactic.—Jack Yan, Publisher










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August 26, 2014

Volvo releases details of second-generation XC90

Jack Yan/15.03

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Volvo has released official information on the second-generation XC90, replacing the original SUV that first caught the public’s attention in 2002.
   The new XC90 is aimed at a more affluent audience while preserving traditional Volvo values, as the Swedish brand aims to increase its international sales as a prestige marque, especially in China.
   The XC90 is the first car from the Swedish brand, now a subsidiary of China’s Geely, developed after its sale by the Ford Motor Company.
   The engine line-up features D4 and D5 diesels, producing 190 and 225 PS respectively, and T5 and T6 petrol units, developing 225 and 320 PS. A Twin Engine T8 is the flagship of the range, with 400 PS and a hybrid driveline (petrol engine driving the front wheels, an electric motor driving the rear), in line with Volvo’s loftier ambitions for its big SUV, while showing its social commitment. Volvo says a three-cylinder unit is in the XC90’s future.
   Size has increased, too: length is up to 4,950 mm (compared with 4,807 mm), with a wheelbase up from 2,857 mm to 2,984 mm, ensuring the new car is more commodious. Width is 2,008 mm, an increase from the current model’s 1,936 mm, helping distance it from the mid-sized XC60. Height is now 1,775 mm, the only measure which has decreased from its predecessor, by a mere 9 mm. The tracks are also wider, front and rear, by 3–4 inches.
   Volvo’s new design language, already previewed on the Concept Coupé, Concept XC Coupé and Concept Estate, is a sportier, simpler expression of many of its traditional cues, but shakes off Swedish restraint for a more expressive, aspirational feel. The iron logo has been reinterpreted to appear more solid, with the ribbon at a lower angle. The sides are straighter, with the waistline more parallel with the ground.
   The SUV is on Volvo’s new SPA scalable architecture, which will form the basis of future Volvo models.
   The interior has also been rethought with a new design language, with a large Sensus screen in the middle of the dashboard, divided into GPS at the top, media and phone in the middle, and climate control settings at the bottom. Cloud-based services can also be accessed through the Sensus system, with compatibility with Android and Apple, including Google Maps and Spotify through those OSs. A head-up display is also available. The interior is also more luxurious, with more sumptuous, redesigned seats. Volvo claims the third row of seats provides class-leading room. The Bowers & Wilkins sound system is unique to the XC90, and features an air-vented subwoofer.
   In safety terms, Volvo débuts two features. The first is automatic braking when turning left (turning right for RHD models) into oncoming vehicles. Secondly, Volvo launches an active safety feature in cases where, should the car begin to depart from the road, it will tighten the front seat belts to hold the passengers in place. Meanwhile, its engineers have developed an energy-absorbing function between the chair and chair frame to dampen the vertical forces, helping to prevent back injuries.
   Volvo Car Group CEO Hakan Samuelsson says, ‘This is one of the most important days in our history. We are launching not only a car, but we are also relaunching our brand. Today begins a new era in our company.’
   The first-generation model continues in China as the XC90 Classic.—Jack Yan, Publisher

















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August 20, 2014

Audi’s new TT is leaner and greener, with whole-life environmental impact reduced

Lucire staff/14.24

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Audi’s third-generation TT, which goes on sale later this year, is greener and lighter than its predecessor, something which Lucire readers will applaud.
   The iconic sports’ car, which came on the scene in 1998 with its Bauhaus, geometric looks, carving its own niche, continues similar themes for 2014, but looks sleeker, with Audi’s hexagonal grille, and wider. However, it is virtually the same length as the outgoing model, while having a 37 mm longer wheelbase.
   The body is stiffer by 25 per cent and the centre of gravity lower by 10 mm, aiding handling. Power is up 14 per cent, while greenhouse gas emissions are down 11 per cent. The monocoque shell is a mixture of steel and aluminium, with the weight dropping by 50 kg compared with the second-generation model which Lucire tested in 2007. The weight, in fact, is only close to that of the original TT, which is no mean feat considering how much more modern cars pack, with the front-wheel-drive 2·0 TFSI model tipping the scales at 1,230 kg. By comparison, a 1998 1·8 front-wheel-drive TT weighed 1,240 kg.
   Audi has also reduced the whole-life impact on the environment, with each car saving 5·5 tonnes of greenhouse gas (not just carbon dioxide, but methane, nitrous oxide and halogenated organic emissions) in its lifetime. The construction sees a saving of 800 kg of greenhouse gas emissions (nine per cent) compared to the earlier model.
   UK deliveries commence in December 2014.


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July 31, 2014

Audi releases A3 Sportback E-tron, its first plug-in hybrid

Lucire staff/15.11

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Audi, Volkswagen’s premium brand, has launched a plug-in hybrid for the European market, based on the A3 Sportback.
   The Audi A3 Sportback E-tron will be sold through 410 dealers in Europe, including 105 in Germany. The German retail price is €37,900. A leasing plan sees the A3 at €319 for a 36-month term. First deliveries will take place this winter.
   The vehicle has an 8·8 kWh lithium–ion battery pack for its electric motor with a range of 50 km, but combined with its 1·4-litre petrol engine, it can manage 900 km. The combined power output is a claimed 150 kW (204 PS), with fuel consumption at 1·5 l/100 km (188 mpg Imperial) and carbon dioxide emissions at 35 g/km.
   The A3 Sportback E-tron’s battery is under the rear seats, allowing maximum cargo space, while the car weighs in at a reasonable 1,580 kg.
   Early reports indicate a seamless switch between electric and petrol modes, but some noticeable road noise from the standard tyres and the quiet electric motor.
   Audi plans for every E-tron dealer in future to have a charging station for customers, who can use it even after purchase. For the German market, Audi will offer an installation service where a technician checks the electrics at a customer’s home, makes the necessary adjustments, and installs the charging dock, for charging the car safely.
   Customers can even opt for what the company calls ‘Audi Energy’, essentially electricity generated from hydroelectric sources in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
   Wayne Griffiths, Audi’s head of sales in Germany, says there is high interest among dealers and customers for the new model: ‘The combination of efficient drive technology and a sustainable energy source is really what the market is looking for.’

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July 9, 2014

Opel Corsa E breaks cover, as GM releases official details

Lucire staff/7.37

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GM has released details of its fifth-generation Opel Corsa (Vauxhall Corsa Mk IV in the UK), promising that the new model will set benchmarks for its class.
   It will have to: it joins a talented segment with cars such as the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, Honda Fit, Toyota Vitz and Peugeot 208.
   The Opel Corsa E is virtually identical in length to the outgoing model, with much of the cabin space cleverly used in its 4 m.
   There is a new platform, dubbed Gamma II in GM-speak, with no carryover components from the Corsa D. The new sheetmetal has greater differentiation between three- and five-door models, with styling by Brit Mark Adams. A panoramic roof is optional. Other options include blind spot alert, lane departure warning, and a rear-view camera.
   The new interior has a redesigned instrument panel and dashboard, including Opel’s Intellilink in-car system, already seen on the Adam subcompact, which is on a shorter version of the Corsa E’s platform. Intellilink features a seven-inch colour touch-screen, which can be controlled via apps on the Apple Iphone and Google Android.
   Appealing to the Corsa’s urban drivers, there is a revised speed-sensitive power steering, with less understeer. Ride and handling have also been improved, says Opel.
   Opel has joined the trend toward three-cylinder petrol engines, with a one-litre Ecotec direct-injection turbo as the smallest unit, developing 90 or 115 PS. It is combined with a stop–start system to lower fuel consumption.
   A 1·3 turbodiesel, a 1·2 and 1·4 petrol engine, and a 1·4 turbo are also on offer, mated to new six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes.
   The Corsa will not be sold in Australasia or North America, where the Korean-made Chevrolet Aveo (under various names), also on the Gamma II platform, is GM’s entry in the B-segment.



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Filed under: design, living, Lucire, technology
June 13, 2014

Mini re-creates Goodbye Pork Pie chase scene to launch fourth-generation model

Lucire staff/4.53

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When BMW launched its Mini at the turn of the century, it resisted doing the obvious thing in its marketing: reenacting The Italian Job. Over the years, various retro Mini marketing ideas have, nevertheless, surfaced, such as ‘Minis have feelings, too,’ re-created one Christmas, and for the New Zealand market, BMW is digging in to the Kiwi cultural archives for the fourth-generation version of the car: Goodbye Pork Pie.
   The Geoff Murphy-helmed film, released in 1981, is legendary in New Zealand, and Mini fans around the world know it, too. The chase–road trip film sees a yellow Mini 1000 head from north to south, and BMW has decided to re-create one of the scenes for a new promo débuting on June 17, starring the latest version of the car.
   New Zealanders who wanted to get a role in the film went to a dedicated Mini website to win a place in the passenger seat, with Wellingtonian Vincent Blake Chilton, 23, getting the prize. Matt Murphy, son of Geoff, directed the new scene, and chose Chilton out of 2,000 entries. Stunt driver Mike Eady put the new Mini Cooper S through its paces around Lake Hawea, with stunt coordinator Harry Dakanalis in pursuit.
   Below is a behind-the-scenes video from the shoot.
   The new Mini, unveiled last November in Oxford and at a star-studded London launch a few days later, starts at NZ$36,200.
   In addition to Goodbye Pork Pie, New Zealand has another cinematic Mini connection: it was where The Italian Job remake, Players, was filmed.



Below A still featuring the original Mini 1000 from the original Goodbye Pork Pie.

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