RAC Cars News


New Cars For April

By raccars Published

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Big names like Mercedes, Nissan and Volvo have recently announced brand new models. Here is a round up of what is coming soon to a car show room near you.

Mercedes-Benz V-Class 2015

A much needed replacement for Mercedes-Benz's roundly disliked Viano MPV will be released next Spring. The van-style Viano arrived in 2004 and was something of a let down - an unstylish interior, clunky four cylinder engine that's underpowered, poor array of safety features and a badly thought out rear seating arrangement, among other issues.

For the new V-Class, Mercedes is sensibly starting from the ground up - almost... Some of the current Viano's chassis components and a four cylinder 2.1 litre diesel engine will be retained, albeit revised to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy. Two versions of this engine - the only one available to the V-Class - will be offered: 161bhp and 188bhp.

However, it seems the rest of the new V-Class is good enough to overcome the possible limitations of this decision. It looks good, following the company's latest design language incorporating LED DRLs integrated into the Xenon headlamps and a double louvre grille fronted by the large, three pointed badge. Straight flanks are punctuated by electric sliding doors on each side, while the electric powered boot door has a large, independently opening window within it.

The biggest changes can be seen in the interior, with a sleek and sinuous new dashboard trimmed in smart leather and repeated on the seats. European specification cars will come with the option of a wood interior trim, but UK versions are likely to be restricted to metallic and piano black. It's a huge step up from the current Viano interior, thanks to attention to small details in the form of chrome surrounded instrument gauges and a central seven inch infotainment display screen.

The V-Class will also be supplied with Mercedes' clever new touchpad control interface, as introduced in the new C-Class, along with a rotary dial alternative.

Driver visibility is good and assisted further by parking sensors to the front and rear, plus 360 degree camera views. The front 'captain's' chairs are heated and cooled, electrically adjustable and very comfortable for a relaxed driving experience.

UK spec cars will seat seven, in a two-three-two format, which can be rearranged to two-two-two with the middle row reversed to face the rear. An extra third row seat can be added to allow the V-Class to carry eight. All seats can be slid forward or back on floor rails depending upon cargo or floor space requirements. None can be folded flat but they are removable - if you've got a bit of manpower.

The whole is expected to start from about £40,000.

New Nissan X-Trail

Nissan's latest X-Trail arrives in dealerships in May, priced from £25,000 to £30,000 plus. Model variations include three different configurations of chassis and five or seven seaters.

At the time of launch, the X-trail will be powered by the same engine as the new Qashqai, a 1.6 litre turbo diesel unit with 130bhp. Not long after, a version of the Juke Nismo's 1.6 litre DIG-T engine will be offered, but with its power output cut to 160bhp from 200bhp, to improve fuel economy.

Nissan expects a fairly even split of around a 45% take up of front wheel drive models and 45% four wheel drive. The remaining 10% will be for the X-Tronic CVT gearbox on the front wheels.

As a front wheel drive, the new X-Trail boasts emissions figures of 129g/km and fuel consumption of 57mpg, while the X-Tronic gives off 135g/km and returns 55mpg, while the four wheel drive variant emits 139g/km in return for 53mpg.

The Qashqai-esque new model is a far sleeker, curvier and more modern X-Trail than previous, boxy versions and Nissan is hoping it will soak up some of the Qashqai+2 buyers after that model's discontinuation. Nonetheless, Nissan has been keen to retain the proper sports utility aspect of the SUV designation and the new X-Trail will be as practical and capable as its predecessor. Cargo space will be about equal in both five and seven seater models but there will be some extra storage room under the floor in the five seater. The rear seats both slide and recline and rear passenger legroom is apparently the best in its class. Access is made easy with 80 degree opening rear doors.

A number of details are still outstanding but the X-Trail is expected to follow the pattern set by the Qashqai, with the higher specification model called the Tekna, which will feature 19 inch alloys, leather upholstered and electrically powered seats, a panoramic, partially sliding sunroof and an electric tailgate. The entry level model is the Visia, with air conditioning, six airbags, alloy wheels, LED DRLs, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, hill start assist and follow me home lights. It's a pretty generous amount of kit for the price.

Although the X-Trail and Qashqai will share a platform, the company's Sunderland factory is already running close to capacity with the Qashqai and the upcoming Infiniti Q30. In North America, the new X-Trail has already been released, badged as the Rogue. Its 170bhp 2.5 litre petrol powertrain is unlikely to make it to the European market.

2015 Volvo XC90

Volvo has plans. The firm is going upwardly mobile and taking the fight to the premium brands. The first sally will come in the launch of an all new XC90 next year, featuring more interior space and a new engine range, including a hybrid.

The new SUV is close to completion and, having gone through some winter testing in its Swedish homeland, is preparing to undergo summer testing, focusing on severe heat and humidity, plus testing as high altitude. The seven seater SUV has been given the internal codename V526 and will be following the blueprint of the previous XC90, released in 2002. Expect a public debut by the end of this year.

This second generation will be slightly longer, wider and lower than the current car but with lots more interior space, both for rear passengers and cargo. The fascia has also been redesigned from scratch and now features a 9.5 inch colour touchscreen screen housing all of the main driving functions. The dashboard, as a result, displays only seven switches, one of which controls the entertainment system's on-off and volume functions.

In typical Volvo style, a number of new active and passive safety systems will be installed to comply with the company's 'Vision 2020' scheme, a plan designed to eliminate any serious injuries or deaths in any new Volvo from 2020.

The new XC90 will debut the company's new SPA Scalable Platform Architecture, later to be used by all of the company's 40, 60 and 90 badged models. Apparently, the platform has the flexibility to suit all classes of vehicle from SUVs to low slung coupes. Volvo claims its use of super high strength but lightweight materials in the SPA will make for the lightest cars in their relative classes.

Volvo will be installing a range of four cylinder petrol and diesel engines, plus single or twin turbochargers and, in some cases, a turbo and supercharger combination. One of the higher models in the hierarchy will be a turbo and supercharged petrol unit with 300bhp. A hybrid will be available featuring a conventional engine assisted by an electric motor driving the rear wheels. Later on, there could be a version featuring a flywheel, to harvest energy for the rear axle and a battery powered full electric model.

The company's revitalisation is thanks to funds released by its acquisition of Chinese automaker, Geely, in 2010. The firm's relatively modest size means corporate decisions can be made quickly.

New Nissan Murano to be sold in the UK

Nissan has been trialling its new Murano heavily over the last week prior to launch at the New York Motor Show. However, rumour had it that the car would not be sold in the UK. Poor sales previously had led Nissan to discontinue UK sales of the outgoing Murano, but the company has now announced that a hybrid version of the next generation model will be available in the UK.

While crossovers are Nissan's key success area in Europe - the Qashqai, Juke and, hopefully, the updated X-Trail - the full size SUV Murano is still apparently an important model for the brand in Europe. The car on display in New York owes a good deal of its styling inspiration to the other vehicles in the Nissan SUV family but also to the Resonance concept unveiled last year.

With the next generation X-Trail to be marketed as a crossover rather than SUV, there's certainly room in the Japanese firm's line up for a serious SUV such as the Murano. Its design follows a language very clearly set by the new Qashqai and X-Trail models, with a bold chromed front grille and subtly curved roofline. The floating roof panel and ticked back headlights are a direct lift from the Resonance concept but, for a large car, the Murano gives the impression of being light on its feet, thanks to the gently sweeping flanks and neatly protruding wheel arches.

The Murano's interior is also rather impressive, with a premium feel fit and finish. The modern dashboard has an uncluttered look, with an eight inch colour screen taking up a large part of the workload, while the instrument binnacle has been cleaned up with Nissan's seven inch colour screen Drive Assist Display.

The seating is pretty space age, using Nasa style zero gravity technology to reduce strain on the muscles, while other creature comforts include dual zone air conditioning, remote ignition, a heated steering wheel, electrically controlled folding rear seats and the option of a Bose surround sound audio system, with no fewer than 11 speakers.

Pricing has yet to be announced and details of the UK bound hybrid powertrain have not been revealed, but the standard engine range will be based around a 3.5 litre V6 with 257bhp that's at least 20% more efficient than the outgoing model. Two and four wheel drive variants will be offered.

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