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What's New - January 2006

Fri, 27 Jan 2006

Volvo S80


  Volvo has released pictures of the second-generation S80, a model series which when first launched in 1998 revived the Swedish brand with less slab-like, more expressive styling. This new model evolves those themes, and with it now carries Volvo's compact V8 that first appeared in the XC90 SUV last year. With 315PS put to the road through all four wheels, it will be Volvo's spearhead for penetrating the crucial American market and luring 35,000 new owners each year. Summarised as 'Scandinavian Luxury', the S80's familiar exterior shrouds an interior that owes more to the S40/V50 models, its floating center stack extending beyond the gear-gate over the center-console.

Other engine options include a new 3.2-liter six producing 235PS, which is more compact than the existing five-cylinder units that will also be carried over from the existing range. The new Volvo S80 will make its official debut at the Geneva Motor Show in early March.

Skoda Roomster


  Following the concept shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2003 comes the production version of the innovative Skoda Roomster. Designed by Peter Wouda, the new car maintains much from the show car in its car-meets-van profile. Most changes occur at the rear where the large vertical lights and glass tailgate have been replaced with a more conventional arrangement, framed by thick D-pillars. There are also notable changes at the front, the down-road-graphic now comprised of six basic elements rather than the show car's five. The car has also grown another door for RHD markets.

The car will debut in road-ready form at the Geneva Motor Show next month, and will be offered with a choice of three petrol and three diesel engines. Production will begin in the summer at Skoda's Kvasiny plant in the Czech Republic.

Toyota Estima


  The new Toyota Estima furthers the company's evolution of 'stylish and luxurious' MPVs, as initiated in 1990 by the first Estima. Now in its third generation, the new model ? previewed as the Estima concept at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show ? features clean fluid surfaces that furthers Toyota's Vibrant Clarity design strategy.

The production version features a face with revised grille and lower intakes. Surface changes here include the top bumper crease hooking back into the lights, rather than the more shield-like central area of the show car. The interior features a built-in HDD (hard-disc drive) for navigation, and can also store up to 2,000 songs that can be played through the 'Panoramic Super-Live Sound System' that uses the roof-panel as a diaphragm. It will be available from launch with 2.4- and 3.5-liter V6 engines, and will be available in Europe next year badged as the Previa.

Suzuki MR


  Suzuki has released pictures of their new K-class contender, the MR. Closely based on Mom's Personal Wagon concept shown at last year's Tokyo Motor Show, the MR shares its friendly expression with the production preview. Differences between the two are limited, the repositioning of the door handles being the most notable change. The finish of these has also been changed from brightwork to body colour ? as has happened to the grille, whose dark finish exaggerates the bulging headlamps.

Like the show car, the production version remains focussed towards women. Aside from the youthful face, the interior features cubby-holes for cosmetics and light, feminine hues for the trim. Despite its diminutive dimensions, the MR is available with both two- and four-wheel-drive. It will be available from next week.

BMW Z4 Coupe


  The BMW Z4 Coupe has now been released for the road after its preview in Frankfurt last year. With the new body style comes the new M-version that uses the roadster?s engine: the 3.2-liter straight six produces 343PS, and will be available alongside the more sanitised 3.0l and 2.5l variants. The launch of the coupe coincides with a face-lift across the Z4 range, minor bumper and light revisions leaving designer Anders Warming?s lines untouched.

The most notable change is on the M-version?s hood: it uses a new production process where a robot with a special tool tip exerts a defined amount of force along the line to create unique peaks. This process is philosophically akin to rapid prototyping in that no rigid stamping tool or mould is involved, enabling BMW to create discrete solutions for small numbers of batch-produced vehicles such as the M cars.