Jaguar has named its upcoming compact performance sedan the XE
Fast Lane Jaguar's new XE will be the first aluminium monocoque in its class. -- PHOTO: JAGUAR

NEW ENGINES FOR JAGUAR'S XE

Jaguar has named its upcoming compact performance sedan the XE. Meant to replace the somewhat weedy X-Type, the XE will be the first aluminium monocoque product in its class. It will boast a new family of high-output, fuel-efficient four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. The XE will be available in rear-wheel or all-wheel-drive format, with the top-of- the-line variant able to exceed 300kmh.


TT COCKPIT GOES ALL-DIGITAL

Audi's new TT may not look very different from its predecessors, but it will have an all-digital cockpit and a sub-five-second century sprint. Due in Singapore in the fourth quarter, the third-generation TT will be led by a 310bhp TTS Coupe. It will have new engines, new suspension configuration and a heavily revised quattro system that can be temporarily deactivated to improve fuel efficiency. There will also be a turbodiesel.

NEW SUPER-LIGHT HYUNDAI

Hyundai has unveiled its first model designed by Kia styling maestro Peter Schreyer, now president and chief design officer of Hyundai Motor Group (which owns Kia). The Intrado concept boasts a super-lightweight frame and a next- generation hydrogen fuel cell powertrain running on a 36kW lithium-ion battery.

KIA TO OFFER MILD HYBRID SYSTEMS

From next year, Kia cars will be available with mild electric hybrid systems and a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The hybrid powertrain combines zero- emissions urban motoring with an electric supercharger for greater performance, and is said to be 15 per cent more efficient than current engines. The brand also unveiled its first electric bicycle at the ongoing Geneva Motor Show.

ALFA 4C SPIDER

Alfa Romeo has previewed its 4C Spider, a soft-top version of its irresistible new coupe. It employs extensive use of carbon fibre and other lightweight materials.

SPEEDY ROLLOUTS FROM MCLAREN

McLaren is in a hurry. Since unveiling the 12C in 2009, it has launched the 12C Spider and a P1 hybrid supercar. Now, it is rolling out the 650 - a car based on the 12C's monocell chassis, with a more powerful 3.8-litre twin-turbo engine and uprated suspension, contained in a body that resembles the P1's. The car, unveiled in Geneva this week, is already here for a preview.

McLaren is wasting no time - it has unveiled an S variant, as well as a Spider. The 650S Spider clocks a three-second sprint to 100kmh. Its two-piece roof folds away in under 17 seconds. The 650 Coupe starts from $1.15 million, and the Spider from $1.25 million. Deliveries are expected as early as end of the month. Now, that is speedy.

CLOVERLEAF COMES BACK IN ITALIAN

Alfa Romeo has reintroduced its Cloverleaf label, but this time, in Italian. The Quadrifoglio Verde (QV) badge will adorn high-performance variants of the MiTo and Giulietta. The new Giulietta QV has the same all-aluminium, 240bhp engine and six-speed twin-clutch transmission as the delectable 4C sports car. The MiTo QV is powered by a new 170hp 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo engine, also mated to a twin-clutch gearbox.

SKODA'S LOFTY VISION

Skoda reveals lofty ambition in its VisionC concept. The "five-door coupe" is said to be able to meet 2020 emission standards using conventional technology, with CO2 emission of merely 91g/km. It is powered by a 1.4-litre CNG/TSI 110bhp engine. On natural gas, the car emits only 91g/km of carbon.

TOUCHSCREEN CONTROLS

Volvo's Concept Estate has a cockpit like the new Audi TT's. Instead of buttons and dials, it has one large tablet-like touch screen. The car's low bonnet, sleek silhouette and glass roof all contribute to its dynamic look. Yet, it offers the versatility of a three-door sports wagon.

NEW ALFIERI FROM MASERATI

Maserati has unveiled the Alfieri, a 2+2 concept car based on the GranTurismo MC Stradale. Named after one of the brand's founding brothers, it is 4,590mm long with a 2,700mm wheelbase, 1,930mm wide and 1,280mm tall. It is powered by a 4.7-litre, naturally aspirated V8 producing 460bhp and 520Nm of torque. This is mated to a six-speed, electro-actuated gearbox with a limited slip rear differential.

NO MORE REAR-VIEW MIRROR?

Nissan is looking to replace the ubiquitous rear-view mirror with an electronic camera system. The LCD Smart rear-view system can be turned into a conventional mirror at the flick of a switch. It is said to provide a wider and clearer view, and will not be obstructed by tall passengers in the second row (or luggage stacked high).

SCIROCCO ON STILTS

Meet the T-Roc, Volkswagen's latest SUV concept. It is smaller than the Tiguan, but larger than the Tiguan SUV concept, which is in the development phase. The two-door, four-seater combines the agility of an all-wheel-drive with the airiness of a convertible, thanks to its roof design. The middle section of the roof - made from a carbon composite - can be removed in two halves, which can then be stored in the boot. The T-Roc concept measures 4,179mm long and 1,831mm wide, making it about 200mm shorter than a Tiguan.

SUBARU GOES SEMI-AUTONOMOUS

Subaru's Viziv concept reveals what the brand has up its sleeves in the crossover department. The car utilises a small displacement turbocharged engine paired with an electric motor. It has semi-autonomous driving capabilities - a first for Subaru.

GHOST GETS A FACELIFT

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is not a company that usually rolls out facelifts. But the times they are a-changing, and the BMW-owned marque now presents the Ghost Series II. Re-sculpted LED headlights encircled by daytime-running lights are probably the most significant cosmetic change. Subtle re-sculpting of its bumpers creates a stronger stance and a sense of extra width and height, with chrome inserts in the front air intakes giving the car extra bling.

TWEAKED JUKE GETS SMALLER ENGINE

Nissan's Juke facelift sports a downsized 1.2-litre turbocharged engine, a revised 1.6-litre engine and improved four-wheel-drive with torque vectoring. Tweaks include a luggage area that has been made 40 per cent roomier (up to 354 litres), making it nearly as spacious as the Nissan Qashqai SUV.

MINI GETS BIGGER

The Mini Clubman concept is 26cm longer and about 17cm wider than the current Clubman. Which means the next Clubman will be a fairly large vehicle. In fact, about as big as a Volvo C30. Enough said.

POWERED BY FLOW CELLS

Behold the Quant e-Sportlimousine, a futuristic gullwing performance saloon powered by a "flow cell" drivetrain. Flow cells combine aspects of electrochemical accumulator cells with those of fuel cells. Liquid electrolytes are kept in two tanks and circulated through the cell. At the heart of the system, a membrane separates the two electrolytic solutions, but allows electrical charge to pass through and thereby produce power. It is said to be five times more efficient than a lithium-ion battery system of the same weight. Which means its driving range is five times longer too.

X MARKS WHICH SPOT?

If you are having a hard time trying to place BMW's new X4, be comforted that the manufacturer is too. In a press release announcing the debut of this new X3-based SUV, the only unique proposition highlighted is that the driver and front passenger of the X4 will sit 20mm lower than in the X3. But if you were to look closer, you might sense that the car is aimed at the sporty Range Rover Evoque.

The range-topping X4 xDrive35i develops 306bhp and 400Nm (strangely familiar figures), allowing it to clock the century dash in 5.5 seconds.