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 Subaru Impreza




Subaru Impreza Story
An Introduction to the Subaru Impreza


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A complete History of Subaru and the Impreza


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..:: The Subaru Impreza Story

1. The Subaru Impreza Story, as told by me
2. The History of the Subaru Impreza
3. Special Editions
4. Image Galleries
5. My 2001 Subaru Impreza WRX - Red Mica


..:: The History of the Subaru Impreza

Subaru is a subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries. Which was originally Nakajima Aircraft back in 1917. It's wasn't until 1954 before Fuji Heavy Industries took on the challenge of building a road car. The name of this car was the P-1 (Nothing like the modern Subaru Impreza P1) which stood for Prototype-1. This name was later changed to the Subaru 1500. And here the Subaru was born. The name Subaru Closely translates to reference the star cluster Pleiades, which is the same famous star cluster that we see make up the subaru logo today. over the decades Subaru continued to build motor cars and in 1972 made it's first 4WD car with the Subaru Leone 4WD Station Wagon. From that point onwards Subaru made something for a name for it's self in the 4WD motor car department, almost like a trade mark. Think Subaru, think All Wheel Drive. However it wasn't until 1992 that the Subaru Impreza was born. So let's pick up the story from there.

1992

The Launch of the Subaru Impreza (Japan) The Subaru Impreza was developed after rule changes in the World Rally Championship (WRC) demanded a replacement to the Subaru Legacy which was previously used by Subaru in the WRC. The changes meant that a new smaller, lighter and faster car was required in order to compete in the WRC. So even from day one, the Subaru Impreza was developed for rallying.

1993

The Subaru Impreza reached the UK. Initially the Subaru Impreza was available in both Front Wheel Drive (FWD) and All Wheel Drive (AWD) versions. However the FWD was soon dropped in preference of the trademark Subaru AWD system.

1994

The Turbo Charged Impreza 2000 AWD reached the UK (Known as the Subaru Impreza WRX in Japan). Also in 2004, Subaru Technica International (STI) was born and we started seeing STI versions of the Subaru Impreza Turbo. The Subaru Impreza WRX STI meant much more than an extra badge on the body. The STI stood for a full upgrading of the Subaru Impreza Taking was was learned on the World Rally stages and incorporating developments into the road car. Many areas were upgraded for the Subaru Impreza STI versions. Engine, Suspension and overall performance and handling greatly improved over the standard car. Top speed was limited to 155mph and 0-62 came in at just 4.7seconds for the Impreza STI. These figures made the Subaru Impreza very sought after by the local boy racers. Albeit a bit more expensive than the your every day Peugeot 205 and Vauxhall Nova.

1995

Subaru won the World Rally Championship in a 555 WRC Subaru Impreza driven by fellow Scotsman Colin McRae. A brilliant achievement for both driver and manufacturer. Driver Colin McRae for being the first ever British driver to win the WRC, and Subaru proved that the Impreza was a World Leading rally car. To mark the success of Subaru winning the WRC championship that year, a special edition Subaru Impreza was released in the form of the McRae Series Subaru Impreza.

1996

Subaru took the manufacturer title for a second year in a row, and promptly released another special edition Impreza knows as the Subaru Impreza Catalunya.

1997

Subaru won a hat-trick of manufacturer championships and celebrated once again by releasing a new special edition Impreza. The Subaru Impreza Terzo (Italian for 3rd). Only 333 Subaru Impreza Terzos were made, as a mark of the three championships won with the Subaru Impreza. 1997 also saw a few changes to the Impreza road car. Interior styling was updated including an exclusive MOMO racing steering wheel. Meanwhile STI versions were given an newly designed rear spoiler. In Japan a special 2-door coupe Subaru Impreza was released which was used as the 1998 WRC car.

1998

The Subaru Impreza 22B. A label that often conjures up thoughts of what the ultimate Subaru Impreza might be. The 22B (Note: for the computer geeks out there, 22B in hex converts to 555 in decimal.) provided a 2.2l boxer engine, more hardcore styling all round including 2-doors instead of 4 and an adjustable rear wing made up just some of the key features of the 22B. Only 400 22B's were made in order to celebrate 40 years of Subaru and only 16 of those were destined for the UK. I've seen three in total!! UK versions also had tweaked gearing which was specifically optimised to UK roads. How cool is that!

1999

To celebrate the new driver lineup of Richard Burns in the Subaru World Rally Team, Subaru decided it was once again time for a special edition. This time the RB5 named after Richard Burns. Sadly in November 2003 Richard Burns was diagnosed with a form of brain tumour and later died on the 25th November 2005 from his illness. This makes the RB5 all the more special now. Only 444 RB5's were made, with the option of the WR Sport pack.

1999 Also saw the release of another special edition. The Subaru Impreza P1, which like the Subaru Impreza 22B was a 2-door coupe model, and like the 22B it was only available in WR Blue. However unlike the 22B the Subaru Impreza P1 delivered a 276bhp out of the box, and supporting a whole load of new accessories such as 10-spoke OZ Titanium racing wheels, improved quick-shift gearbox, rear-wiper, new front wing/splitter, new fog lamps and a new exclusive rear wing. Unlike the Impreza 22B there were 1,000 P1's made. Despite this the Subaru Impreza P1 remains one of the most expensive Subaru Impreza's to buy today.

       

2000

For eight years, the Subaru Impreza remained more or less unchanged (externally) until 2000 where Subaru decided to update the Impreza for the 21st century. This change was met with mixed views. The appropriately labeled Bug-eye version by critics, was just that. Bug-eyed! One can only guess it was Subaru's attempt to make the Impreza all cute and cuddly. But this didn't go down well with the fans. Many NewAge impreza's promptly had their headlights replaces with WRC look-alike HI-Definition (HiD) lamps or the more aggressive looking Morette cluster. What was in favour of the fans was the globalisation of the WRX name. Previously only used in Japan, the WRX badge was now stuck to any Impreza with a Turbo!

2001

To celebrate Richard Burns's win in the WRC and the launch of the of the new model, Subaru decided to launch yet another special edition Impreza. This time the Subaru Impreza UK300. Once again just like the 22B and P1 the only colour available was WR Blue. The UK300 supported new prodrive styled spoilers of which the rear wing looked like was picked from bit of an airfix kit and not put together properly. Thankfully the front end was improved slightly, with the addition of improved HiD headlamps which made the car look slightly less like a bug. Yet no matter what they did, it was still going to be remembered as the Bug-Eyed version. 2001 also saw the arrival of the NewAge (Must stop calling it bug-eyed) Subaru Impreza WRX STI to the UK. Just like previous STI's, this was based on the WRX but tweaked a little by the Subaru Technica International (STI) team. If that wasn't enough there was also the option of a Prodrive Performance Pack (PPP). The Subaru Imrpeza WRX STI saw a few key changes over the standard Subaru Impreza WRX. This time, the addition of a 6-speed gearbox as opposed to the WRX 5-speed. Also a nice welcome was similar headlamps which were found on the UK300.

2002

It didn't take long before Subaru had to give in to pressure from fans and go back to the drawing board (literally) to come up with a new style Subaru Impreza. So in 2002, Subaru announced yet another NewAge Impreza. The MY03. Main difference here was the front end. More or less everything else stayed the same, but those bug-eyed headlamps were out and replaced with slightly less ugly ones. Also a bigger bonnet scoop was included. Not to be outdone, the Subaru Impreza WRX power was increased by 10bhp. Not surprisingly many Bug-eyed Subaru Impreza's were made available on the 2nd hand market as many owners wanted to change their driveway accessory for the new style Subaru Impreza.

Although Turbo versions of the Subaru Impreza were available in Japan and Europe from more or less day one. The US favoured their muscle cars and not these Japanese breed of performance cars. Which meant the Subaru Impreza Turbo's never "officially" reached US soil until the 2002 model. Any previous Subaru Impreza's were Imports. Unfortunately for the US market the famous 2.0l boxer engine had to go. The fuel regulations in the US meant that the high performance expected from the Subaru Impreza could not be achieved from the 2.0l engine with US fuel. Instead, the Subaru Impreza was given a nice new 2.5l boxer engine for the US market, in order to keep the power and performance up.

2004

Another Subaru WRC title win with Petter Solberg at the wheel. Once again sticking with tradition a new special edition was released, known as the Subaru Impreza WR1. I must admit the WR1 is one of my personal favourites, if only because of the unique Ice Blue colour. Only 500 WR1's were made, but Subaru decided to throw everything at it, including PPP and Driver Controlled Centre Diff (DCCD). The Subaru Impreza WRX STI also saw further improvements in 2004 with upgraded mechanics from the Japanese models. This new revised STI saw a new front diff, along with the DCCD system which was found on the WR1 and UK300 models. Nice!

2005

Towards the end of 2005. Again just 2 years after the previous model was replaced, Subaru decided to release another new bodied Subaru Impreza, the MY06. This time with new crystal rear light cluster and yet another new front end. The jury is still out about whether or not it is a hit or a miss. I personally think it looks Awesome. Almost as though Subaru have forgotten the last 5 years and gone back to the aggressive styling of the original Subaru Impreza from the 90's! I admit, it did take a few days to get used to, but after you see past the SEAT grill and BMW headlamps you soon realise that this is the sort of car you want other people to see you in, in their rear view mirror. (Admittedly briefly as you scream past them shortly after words :) Sadly the MY06 marked the end for the traditional 2.0l boxer engine. Instead we saw the introduction of the 2.5l boxer engine into the Subaru Impreza. A sad end which seems to have gone relatively unnoticed. But then think of what they can do with that extra 500cubic centimetres of space. Mwaahaahaahaa!...

2006

Towards the end of 2006. Subaru / Prodrive announced the realease of a new Special Edition Impreza. Sadly without recent success in the WRC. This time the special edition was to celebrate the life of previous Subaru WRC Champion Richard Burns who sadly died 12 months previously due to a brain tumour. The New Special Edition Subaru Impreza was to be named the RB320. That's 320bhp and a limited number of 320 to be produced. Essentially the RB320 is a 2006 model Subaru Impeza WRX STi PPP with just abotu ever add on you can think of, along with bespoke prodrive/blitsen dampers, exclusive obsidian black paint work, black alloys and full dront grill set. All in all making the RB320 very exclusive and ver agressive looking with only small markings on the passenger, drivers doors and boot lid of a small orange RB320 logo. The rest of the car is very much black in respect for the late Richard Burns. A true trubite to a great champion!

       

2007

I have yet to come up with a word that describes Subaru in 2007. At the time of writing Subaru had recently announced the drascically redesigned 2008 model of the Subaru Impreza (You can see some photos here) Make your own mind up about what you think of it. My initial thoughts are yuk.. And I have to say my thoughts are still more or less the same. The car does NOT look agressive as it shoudl and just looks like any other family hatchback on the road. a fair pecentage of the Impreza's appeal has always been it's agressive shape and styling. Even teh bugeye version admitedly wasn't welcomed by many had the trademark styling that for every other angle you knew it was an Impreza and more importantly a car to be reckoned with!. This new one doesn't do much for me I'm afraid. Doesn't excite me when I see pictures of it like previous styles. The same recipie is still there usign the same 2.5l boxer engine from teh MY06 models, a new intercooler has been shoved in. Power remains teh same at 225ps for the WRX model, awd as standard of course :). However the tyres are narrower than previous versions. Also it's worth noting that at time of writing there are no plans for a WRX version or saloon version for the UK. Instead we'll have the basic models then a jump up to the STi's I see this as a mistake as the WRX hits a just about affordable market for most peopel who cant afford te £25k price of the STi. However somethign new for the MY08 Impreza will be the introduction of a 170bhp Diesel Impreza. Thats right diesel. Should be interesting...Watch this space...

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New Aston Martin Lagonda design secrets revealed
New Aston Martin Lagonda design secrets revealed A Lagonda saloon is back in Aston Martin?s range after a 40-year absence ? and it?s a stunner

Getting to see Aston Martin?s pre-production Lagonda super-luxury saloon is not the most straightforward of tasks.

At the entrance to the company?s Warkwickshire headquarters, I jump into an Aston Rapide with design chief Marek Reichman, in order to get to the well hidden unit where a verification prototype of the new car is waiting.

The security detail at the super-clean facility ? originally constructed to build the One-77 hypercar ? appears none too happy with our attempts to gain access to the Lagonda, but eventually, after swipe-carding our way through three doors, I?m led into a darkened room. The overhead lights are switched on and, as they flicker into life, the Lagonda is revealed for the first time. 

Aston Martin couldn?t have choreographed a more Bond-like reveal of the car if it tried. I can?t help but expect Desmond Llewelyn?s Q to step forward and say: ?Now pay attention, Bond.?

The first Lagonda production car in nearly four decades (nobody seems quite sure when the final example of the dramatically wedge-shaped Lagonda saloon, launched originally in 1976, left Aston?s production lines), this new saloon has surprised industry watchers who expected to see the Lagonda badge reborn on an upmarket SUV. 

Stuck in the window of the first door we passed through was a sheet of A4 paper bearing the words ?Project Comet?. Reichman says the Lagonda project was known as ?Comet? from the outset. ?Comets are internationally understood and have been believed to be a harbinger of the future and often a guiding light,? he explains. ?We thought that was entirely appropriate for this project.?

Work on the 5.4-metre-long machine began just 18 months ago in Aston Martin?s design studio. ?We always have ideas kicking around the studio and we always have ideas about what we could do with Lagonda,? says Reichman. 

Aston is aiming the new ? and as yet unnamed ? car directly at the Middle East market, from where, Reichman says, there has been ?specific market demand? for this type of vehicle. But why did Reichman and his design team so specifically reference one of Aston?s more controversial and uncompromising historic vehicles?

Reichman estimates that 60-70 per cent of the surviving examples of the last production Lagonda model are now in the Middle East, which is partly why the new Lagonda is such a clear tribute to William Towns? uncompromisingly edge-shaped 1976 original. ?The Middle East is a unique place and Towns? Lagonda was very different,? says Reichman.

?Lagonda has an impeccable heritage. It was a Le Mans winner in the pre-war era and was part of the avant-garde; it was always offering something different. David Brown bought the Lagonda brand [in 1947] and commissioned William Towns to stick with that. It [the 1976 Lagonda] was an attractive aesthetic; it was the lowest four-door car with a remarkably low roofline. It had daring interior technology and was a very brave car.?

It is very hard to scale the new Lagonda in this immaculate and nearly all-white room, but it is clearly an imposing machine, even if its size is well disguised by the low beltline and steeply raked windscreen.

In fact, the new car is a remarkable 5.4m long (5396.5mm, to be exact). That?s around half a metre longer than the Rapide and just a few millimetres shorter than the Rolls-Royce Ghost. The 3189mm wheelbase should open up significant space in the rear, although the doors of this development car remain frustratingly locked. Rumours are that the V12-powered Lagonda will hit a real-world 175mph.

This was a remarkably swiftly executed project, with just eight months separating the first studio sketches from the final full-size model. Lessons were clearly learnt from the One-77 project, which took two years from first sketches to production. ?From the first scale models, we just knew it would be right,? says Reichman. ?When the first model was revealed, the reaction was, ?Wow?.

?This car is not retrospective. There?s a feeling of drama with the low nose, the continuous flat face and the speed of the A-pillars. The rear of the roofline pulls up over the rear edge of the roof, emphasising the importance of the rear passengers.? 

?We call this car a ?super-sport sedan?,? Reichman continues. ?It?s very powerful at the rear, and very wide at the rear. The rear track is the widest we have ever done.? Reichman points out the substantial flat shoulder that runs down the side of the car and into what he refers to as the rear deck. He says it?s a reference to the classic Riva powerboat, and apparently it?s one of the design?s most praised reference points.

In the metal, the new Lagonda is a mighty machine, which, despite what I would call some significant juxtapositions of design language, hangs together in an unexpected manner. Although there are no razor-sharp edges of the type that Towns put into production in the 1976 car, the new Lagonda mixes the impression of edginess with what are surprisingly voluptuous surfaces, such as the way the rear wing and rear door skin enclose the super-wide rear axle and huge wheels.

The whole back end of the Lagonda ? or at least the volume under the bootlid ? really does appear to wrap itself into a kind of rounded boat tail.

It helps to reduce the visual bulk of the car behind the rear axle (where it has something of an overhang when viewed directly from the side), but it also provides an unexpected contrast to the chromed lower edges of the side glazing and the leading edge of the C-pillars. 

It?s a pity that Reichman decided not to risk a big, wide and completely flat C-pillar panel, as on the car?s predecessor; instead, the surface is broken up by a pressed-in wavy edge.

The needle nose of the original could never remotely be alluded to in today?s legislation-heavy climate, so we get incredibly slim headlights, powered by LED units which are doing so much to radically transform the possibilities of headlight design.

The Lagonda is constructed from panels moulded from carbonfibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), which are, in turn, partly bonded directly to the aluminium surfaces of Aston?s VH platform.

One of the most impressive things about the Lagonda is its liquid-like surfaces. They might look like precision-pressed steel, but what Reichman?s design team has achieved with a moulded material is highly impressive.

?Endless work was done on the surface quality and surface finish,? explains Reichman. ?We work so that panel highlights on the surfaces of our models are replicated exactly. A painted surface looks like the surface as it is released by my department.?

Certainly, the almost flawless and highly polished surface language is probably the defining achievement of the nine years of the Reichman era at Aston Martin.

Achieving this with CFRP panels is easier in the sense that the material is more stable in very hot conditions (the panels on steel and alloy cars will move in hot weather), but it?s much harder in that CFRP is a surface on which it is often more difficult to achieve a perfectly flawless paint finish.

Reichman points out that Aston has its own patented coating which goes directly on to the CFRP panels before being given ?seven layers of paint and 21 hours of lacquer and polishing?. Reichman hints that this shift towards CFRP panels made in relatively short-lived tooling could become increasingly common as the manufacturer exploits its ability to build the expensive, limited-run models which are highly prized by the world?s super-rich.

Although the Lagonda production run will be very exclusive (?into three figures?), it is not yet sold out. It was, however, developed with some of Aston?s ?most important? clients in the development loop. They were allowed to see progress on the project right from the design stage and were, according to Reichman, ?over the moon? about the finished car.

The Lagonda saloon will be made in the same small skunkworks facility that built Aston?s dramatic One-77 hypercar. The first examples are scheduled for delivery early next year, and the production run will finish before the year is out. 

I get the sense that Aston will build more of these short-run specials. Buyers get something that is rare and exclusive, while Aston should benefit from significant profit margins that can be reinvested in future products. In short, everyone is happy. 

A mix of mainstream models and these short-run cars could combine to become a business model that will allow Aston to flourish with a relatively small output. 

After all, with Mercedes-AMG supplying the basic transmission and electrical architecture ? the two areas of development that are stupendously expensive ? the British company can concentrate on design and craftsmanship.

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Honda unveils facelifted CR-V ahead of Paris debut
Honda reveals facelifted CR-V ahead of Paris debut New diesel engine and styling tweaks for fourth-generation Honda SUV, which goes on sale in March

The Honda CR-V, revealed here in official photographs, has undergone a significant mid-life refresh, receiving cosmetic tweaks and a new diesel powertrain.

Four-wheel-drive variants of the fourth-generation CR-V ? which has been on sale since 2012 ? will now be offered with a higher-powered 1.6-litre i-DTEC four-cylinder diesel engine from Honda?s Earth Dreams Technology series. The new engine variant replaces the 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel, which is being phased out.

The new diesel engine produces 158bhp and 258lb ft. CO2 emissions are claimed to be less than 130g/km of CO2, when the engine is coupled to a six-speed manual transmission, which represents an 11 per cent improvement compared to the outgoing unit.

This engine will also now be offered with a new nine-speed automatic transmission in place of the old five-speed self-shifting 'box. The CO2 emissions for this combination will be less than 135g/km, 20 per cent better than its predecessor.

The two-wheel-drive CR-V, available with a six-speed manual transmission, will continue to be offered with the lower-powered version of the 1.6 litre i-DTEC diesel engine. It's the frugal champion in the range, producing 118bhp and emitting 117g/km of CO2 in its most economical guise.

The existing 2.0-litre petrol engine will continue to be offered with either two- or four-wheel drive and either the manual or automatic five-speed transmission. Official economy and performance figures have yet to be confirmed, however.

The most significant cosmetic tweaks across the range are at the front of the car, which receives new headlamps, front grille, fog lights, skid-plate and bumper. The enhancements at the rear include new LED combination lamps, a refreshed tailgate design and bumper.

Honda says the version of the CR-V sold in the UK and Europe has been specifically developed and engineered to suit driving conditions here. The car will continue to be built at Honda?s plant in Swindon.

Customers will be able to order the facelifted model next March, and the car will be seen in the metal for the first time at the Paris motor show later this week.

Honda will also show its latest Type R concept at the Paris show, alongside its reborn HR-V crossover, the new Jazz and the updated Civic range.

Read more Paris motor show news

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New estate-bodied Skoda Fabia Combi features a 530-litre boot
New estate-bodied Skoda Fabia Combi features a 530-litre boot Third-generation Fabia Combi is longer, wider and lower than its predecessor and boasts new tech and more efficient engines

The estate-bodied Skoda Fabia Combi has been revealed in official pictures ahead of its public debut at this week's Paris motor show.

Like the hatchback model, the new Fabia Combi adopts design elements first seen on the VisionC show car. The front end is identical to the production hatch.

The new model is 10mm longer, 90mm wider and 31mm lower than its predecessor, which gives it a 4257mm length, 1732mm width and 1467mm height. It has a 30mm wider track at both the front and the rear and a wheelbase that is 5mm longer.

The Fabia Combi has a 530-litre boot capacity, which is 25 litres up on its predecessor and a class leading figure according to Skoda. Folding the rear bench increases load space to 1395 litres, which is actually 90 litres less than the outgoing car.

The seat can be folded down in two positions, with the seat folding first and then the backrest.

Skoda claims items up to 1550mm in length can be accommodated in the car. The loading sill is 611mm off the ground to make loading easy, and the tailgate opens to 1900mm and is 1028mm wide.

The car's interior is wider by 21mm and longer 8mm and although the car is now slightly lower, there is more headroom for the driver and front passenger.

The Fabia Combi adopts elements of VW's modular MQB technology, such as the engines, electro-mechanical steering and electrical architecture.

The engines powering the new Fabia Combi are on average 17 per cent more efficient compared to the units in the second-generation model. These improvements are the result of a new generation of petrol and diesel engines, improved aerodynamics and all-round weight reduction. On average the car has lost 55kg across the range, the weight of the lightest variant ? the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol ? is down to 1004kg.

Three petrol and three diesel engines will be offered, all equipped with stop-start and a brake energy recovery system. Power output in the petrol engines ranges from 74bhp to 108bhp. The new three-cylinder diesel range offers between 74bhp and 104bhp. Manual and automatic DSG transmissions will be offered.

The most frugal variant, the Fabia Combi Greenline, can return a claimed 91mpg on the combined cycle, and emits 82g/km of CO2.

Improved technology will also form a centerpiece of the new Skoda?s appeal to younger customers. The infotainment systems in the new Skoda Fabia Combi are all adopted from Volkswagen?s MIB (modular infotainment matrix) technology. Other highlights include keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, a new-generation aircon system and the option of a panoramic glass roof.

It is the first car in Skoda?s range to feature Mirrorlink, a system that allows smartphone apps to be displayed on the infotainment screen. Another new function is Smartgate, where vehicle-specific information such as fuel consumption, average speed or g-force readings can to transferred and recorded on a smartphone.

Making its debut in the Fabia Combi is the new column-electric power steering, which replaces the previous electro-hydraulic power steering and saves weight and fuel.

The car also includes up to 17 of the ?Simply Clever? items found on other models in the range, including the ice scraper in the fuel filler cap, storage nets on the inside edges of the front seats, a smartphone cradle in the centre console and a rubbish bin in the side door.

The new Skoda Fabia Combi is set to arrive in European markets from January 2015. The estate-bodied car first went on sale in 2000 and to date Skoda has sold more than 1.1m examples. UK-specific pricing and spec details have not yet been released.

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Does the world need another super-luxury SUV?
Does the world need another super-luxury SUV? Aston Martin still hasn't decided whether to build a Lagonda SUV. The time for such a car has probably gone

The past two weeks have been pretty interesting. First, I spent a few hours at Aston Martin?s Gaydon HQ with Aston?s design chief, Marek Reichman. I should admit that I know Reichman from way back in the late 1980s, because we did our first Industrial Design degree together.

Having had a good look at the new Lagonda ?super-saloon? I had to ask question about the Lagonda SUV concept shown five years ago. Will the company would pursue an SUV after the launch of the new limited-edition Lagonda ?super-saloon?, but Reichman would only hint that any decision is some way off.

?I won?t say definitely yes and I won?t say definitely no,? he said. ?But will Ferrari build an SUV? Probably not,? said Reichman. Which might be the best steer yet that Aston is cooling on the idea of launching into what will be a crowded market for ?ultra-luxury? SUVs.

A few days after meeting Reichman, I found myself with Rolls Royce. Rolls has admitted that it is actively investigating building some kind of SUV. Indeed, the first sketching started earlier this year and my source admitted that the designer?s first attempts were not too convincing. The latest work, however, is ?showing much greater promise?.

In truth, entering the SUV market seems to make more sense for Rolls Royce than it does for Aston Martin. A company that builds luxury cars probably needs to cover off the marked shift in executive travel from low-slung saloons to high-rise SUVs.

Moreover, Bentley is well on with its own SUV and there?s an argument that Rolls Royce underpinned the birth of the original ?shooting brake?, with Rolls? engines and chassis in the 1920s and 1930s being rebodied to accommodate shooting parties.

There?s much less of logic behind Aston Martin entering what?s becoming quite a crowded market, even if it uses its Lagonda brand.

The Lagonda 4x4 concept showed by Reichman?s team at the 2009 Geneva auto show was dubbed a ?LUV? [Luxury Utility Vehicle], it was based on a Mercedes GL platform, but the unusual styling proved controversial.

More seriously, building an SUV would probably be far more financially and taxing for Aston Martin than the new Lagonda saloon project, which is related to the Rapide saloon. Any homegrown SUV would require a significant fresh investment in the brand?s aluminium VH architecture, as well as significant sums on substantially new interior design.

With 500m of investment going into future ?core? Aston-Martin model range, the British carmaker, which is a minnow in global terms, needs to secure its future in sports cars before branching out.

Although new partner Mercedes could provide a base SUV on which to build a future Lagonda ?LUV?, the complexity of the task (Mercedes? SUVs are built in the US) and the investment in time and resources when Aston is renewing its road car range, probably means a decision on an SUV has been kicked at least three years? into the future.

My own view is that Aston Martin, like Ferrari, won?t bother with an SUV. Building better, more distinctive and more solidly profitable sports cars is enough work for such a comparatively small company. 

Hyundai launches new digital car showroom
Hyundai launches new digital car showroom Korean manufacturer partners with online dealer to create digital car buying service, which will launch in November

Hyundai is launching a new digital car buying service, which will allow potential customers to research, specify and purchase a new car online.

The service, created in conjunction with dealer Rockar, will launch in November and aims to do away with traditional dealer interactions, such as speaking to salesmen.

The online service will be accompanied by a forecourt located at the Bluewater shopping complex in Kent. The complex has an annual footfall of 27 million people. Hyundai says the integration of both online and real-world elements are a world first for the industry.

Customers will be able to test drive vehicles from the site, as well as returning to have their vehicles serviced.

Hyundai isn't the first manufacturer to experiment with digital showrooms. Audi launched its first unit, dubbed Audi City, in London in 2012, and the brand has since said it plans to roll out more sites in both the UK and abroad. Similarly, the limited First Edition version of Volvo's new XC90 was only available to customers ordering the model online.

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