+++ DACIA is already working on the second generation Duster, but it’s now confirmed earlier information from that it will be followed by an even larger and more practical model, which could be named the Grand Duster. Believed to join the family in 2018, about a year after the regular model arrives in the market, the Grand Duster (name unconfirmed) will feature seating for 7 people. The vehicle, whose more generous proportions are said to place it against the likes of the Kia Sorento and Nissan X-Trail, will also benefit from a new design language shared with the 5-seater Duster. In keeping with Dacia’s low cost approach, entry-level versions will come with cloth seats, electric front windows only, a basic sound system and steel wheels, while more expensive models are believed to add parking sensors, rearview camera, satellite navigation system and climate control, among others. Powertrains will be shared between the regular Duster and Grand Duster, including a 1.2-liter turbocharged petrol unit with 125 horsepower, along with the 1.6-liter dCi diesel that should serve as a replacement for the current 1.5-liter unit. All models are believed to come with a 6-speed manual gearbox as standard with an automatic offered optionally. Four-wheel drive will continue to be offered as an option. +++

+++ HYUNDAI fell far short of estimates with its lowest quarterly profit in about 5 years, hurt by the cost of steep discounts on small sedans, and cautioned it expected more uncertainty ahead as competition and protectionism increase. At its peak in 2011, more than one car in every 20 sold in the United States was a Hyundai, driven by sales of Elantra and Sonata sedans. But the South Korean firm’s mainstay sedans have lost their appeal to offerings such as Honda’s Civic in the United States and Renault’s SM6 (Talisman) in South Korea. Exacerbating the situation is the growing popularity of gas-guzzling SUVs in a world of low oil prices. And the outlook for sales is now set to be further muddied by worries U.S. President Donald Trump could impose high tariffs on vehicles shipped in to what is Hyundai Motor’s No.2 market. “We will continuously monitor the policy changes of the Trump government, and minimize its impact on our sales and profitability”, Zayong Koo, Hyundai vice president in charge of investor relations, said after reporting a twelfth straight drop in quarterly profits. Hyundai and its affiliate Kia, together the world’s fifth-largest automaker, have one of the lowest ratios of cars built in the United States to cars sold. On the call, Hyundai Motor said it expects a “challenging business environment” in the U.S. market this year. Earlier in the day, the company reported a fourth-quarter net profit of 1 trillion won, down 39 percent from a year ago and the lowest since the first quarter of 2012. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S had on an average expected a 1.5 trillion won profit. Shares in the company ended down 3.1 percent after the results, their biggest daily drop since Nov. 10, 2016. “It is quite disappointing in terms of their outlook”, said Kim Jin-woo, analyst at Korea Investment & Securities. “They did not say what investors wanted to hear”. Hyundai Motors has previously said that it was planning to launch new models, such as a small SUV and a redesigned Sonata, to buoy revenue this year from its lucrative home market, where sales dropped 18 percent in the October-December period. In the United States, the group, including Hyundai, Kia and parts affiliates, plans to lift investment by 50 percent to $3.1 billion over 5 years, amid worries about protectionism. The group, which is considering adding a U.S. factory to build SUVs and premium Genesis cars, is also looking to boost supply of Santa Fe and Tucson to the U.S. market in a bid to capitalize on rising SUV demand. Hyundai said it planned to use 30-50 percent of its free cash flow for shareholder returns in the future, without giving further details. Last year, it paid more than 50 percent of its free cash flow to shareholders, a Hyundai spokesperson said. Hyundai’s fourth-quarter sales fell 0.9 percent to 24.5 trillion won, while operating profit dropped 33 percent from year-ago levels to 1 trillion won. Higher U.S. incentive spending – which Autodata Corp said jumped 30 percent to $2,582 per vehicle in December from a year ago for Hyundai, above an average industry increase of 23 percent – dragged on the company’s results for the quarter. +++

+++ Manufacturers like Porsche, Ferrari and McLaren have broadly embraced turbocharging, but it seems, for now at least, LAMBORGHINI will persist with its legendary atmo V12. “It is true that at some point in the future we will need to think to change to turbocharging, but for this moment, a large capacity, naturally aspirated engine is for us”, Lamborghini R&D boss Maurizio Reggiani told in Spain at the launch of the latest V12 super sportscar, the Aventador S. The upcoming turbocharged V8 Urus SUV, and content-sharing arrangement with parent company Audi (which has a multitude of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines) highlights the fact things will have to change for Lamborghini in the future. Counter that though, with the Audi R8, which persists with a 5.2-litre, naturally aspirated V10 engine. The new Audi SQ7, on which the Urus will be partly based, provides a pointer to group technology with its innovative electric compressor system. “Theoretically yes, we could use an electric compressor as well, but they bring with them a heavy 48-volt system and ours will need to be as light as possible”, Reggiani said. “The priority must go to keeping it as light as possible, and we won’t consider diesel at the moment either”. Will the Urus be a pointer for potential supercar development in the future? “It is fair to say, the Urus will be the first Lamborghini that will adopt a PHEV system”, Reggiani said. “A PHEV system is currently ideal for packaging in an SUV platform, but the technology right now doesn’t allow us to set up a super sports car with PHEV the way we would like to”. Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali sees the future the same way for the manufacturer from Sant Agata. “We can certainly have a naturally aspirated V12 and electrification, but at the right moment”, Domenicali said. “It could be complementary to the V12, but we won’t have a full electric vehicle anytime soon, for sure”. Domenicali is keen to emphasise the Urus as the platform for working out these alternative technologies. “We are already working on the next-generation super sports car platform, but for sure, the second engine of the new SUV will be hybrid”, he said. “That is the right way to go and that decision has been taken. The first engine will be the V8 twin-turbo, which has been developed in our group obviously, but to our specification”. Domenicali also thinks the Urus is the platform to use to consider electric compressors like that of the new Audi SQ7. “I think there is interest internally for the 48-volt system like that which Audi uses. There is attention to things like the 48-volt system, we watch what they are doing, and we are actively involved”. +++

+++ When the NISSAN Juke first came out, it started a niche that’s become more and more popular since – the supermini-SUV class. Since then, it’s been hit with a whole wave of competing models like the Peugeot 2008 and Renault Captur, while even premium manufacturers have got in on the act with cars like the Audi Q2. Now though, Nissan is set to reveal an all-new version of the Juke, improving upon the current model in many areas so it can compete against its more modern rivals. The big news under the skin is the Juke’s switch to an all-new platform. Up to now, the car has been based on the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s elderly B0 architecture. It is, in effect, a stretched version of a chassis with origins that can be traced back to the 2002 Nissan Micra; and it’s believed to be both expensive and slow to produce. The new model will switch to the Alliance’s latest Common Module Family chassis technology, called CMF-B. It’s likely that the Juke will be the second car to use this platform, after the next generation of Micra. Well placed sources within Nissan point out that the car still sells over 100,000 examples a year globally. Nissan’s chief creative officer Shiro Nakamura has revealed the next generation will remain “edgy and less mainstream”, but acknowledged that it would still be recognisable as a Juke. That means the styling will retain key Juke cues, such as the high-mounted headlights and distinct wheelarch blisters. But it will also incorporate Nissan’s new ‘face’, as seen on the latest Qashqai. Plus there’ll be a slightly longer wheelbase, as Nissan aims to address one of the main criticisms of the current car: rear legroom. The Juke’s cabin is set for a major overhaul, as Nissan looks to improve perceived quality with a range of soft-touch plastics and higher-grade fabrics and materials. The overall design is likely to take its lead from the next Micra, which will have a more comprehensive central infotainment display across the range, complete with smartphone connectivity supporting both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, the Juke’s cabin will get a wider range of personalisation options, including different colours and finishes on the facia highlights. The move to CMF-B will open the Juke up to a new range of engines, including 0.9-litre three-cylinder turbo petrols. A 1.5-litre diesel will continue to be offered, alongside a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine that’s likely to be the range-topper, with an output of around 190 hp. Nissan sources have also hinted that the next Juke could also get a hybrid variant, using a range-extender powertrain that debuted on the sporty Gripz concept at last September’s Frankfurt Motor Show. When asked if the next Juke would feature some form of electrification, Nakamura told us: “It is very tough to meet our emissions requirements without hybrid. It is almost mandatory”. European versions of the next Juke will continue to be built at Nissan’s plant in Sunderland. The brand’s main focus for 2017 is the launch of the all-new Micra supermini – a model that has been fast-tracked after European buyers in particular reacted badly to the interior quality and refinement of the existing ‘global’ version of the car. The Juke is likely to follow soon after, though; we could see a concept within the next six months, ahead of a production car debut in autumn and sales starting before the end of 2017. +++

+++ PEUGEOT will return to India by 2020 in a joint venture with Indian conglomerate CK Birla Group, the PSA Group has announced. The French car maker has signed an agreement to produce and sell vehicles and components in the country following a 23-year absence from the Indian market. Peugeot originally announced a comeback in India in 2011, but financial struggles meant the plan was terminated. As part of the new agreement PSA Group will be the majority stakeholder in the joint-venture with Hindustan Motors Finance Corporation, which was acquired by CK Birla Group in 2014. The other part of the agreement will see a joint venture (with a 50% share) created between PSA Group and AVTEC Ltd (also owned by CK Birla Group) for the manufacturing and supply of powertrains. It’s expected that PSA Group will invest around 100 million euro in vehicle and powertrain manufacturing at a plant in the south-eastern state of Tamil Nadu, and aims to build around 10,000 vehicles a year. The move follows PSA Group’s ‘Push to Pass’ growth plan, according to chariman of PSA Group, Carlos Tavares. “Benefitting from the strong support of our Indian partner, the CK Birla Group, and a shared vision, this project is consistent with the strong execution of our ‘Push to Pass’ strategic plan and represents a major step in PSA Group’s worldwide profitable growth in key automotive markets”, Tavares said. +++

+++ Soon after unveiling the all-new Panamera, PORSCHE has shifted its focus towards finalizing the development of the latest-generation Cayenne and it will benefit from a much more stylish design. When the Cayenne launched in 2002, it adopted a seriously bloated and highly controversial design. Thankfully, that was rectified in the SUV’s second-generation, particularly in facelifted guise. As for the third-generation Cayenne, well, it can be expected to look even better. It is believed that the rear-end will be characterized by similarly thin, horizontal taillights and a light bar just like the one from the 2012 Panamera Sport Turismo concept and introduced into production with the new Panamera. This new rear fascia promises to give the latest Cayenne a much sportier exterior appearance. Elsewhere, the new Cayenne is expected to receive prominent C-shaped vents on both sides with bold creases stretching along the flanks. The front meanwhile will adopt a hood similar to the Macan and incorporate similar oval-shaped headlights to the current model. Beyond its design, we know that the new Cayenne will be built on Volkswagen’s MLB platform already used by the Bentley Bentayga and Audi Q7. Compared to today’s model, these new underpinnings will shed up to 200 kg depending on the version. In terms of engines, the 3.6-liter V6 and 4.2-liter V8s are expected to be replaced with forced-induction units. A debut is tipped before 2017 comes to an end, meaning the Frankfurt Motor Show in September is a likely candidate. +++

+++ SKODA ’s Yeti was a surprise hit for the Czech brand, earning it a whole host of awards. But the current car is getting old, and it’s due to be replaced with a new model. The new Skoda Yeti is set to debut a more traditional small crossover look for the brand, incorporating the design language set out by the new Kodiaq. The current car’s Tonka Toy looks are a distinctive feature of the Yeti, and have helped it achieve huge sales success, but the new model will feature more conventional crossover styling with a sleeker look. It will share much of its DNA with the latest Seat Ateca and the Volkswagen Tiguan, with all 3 cars riding on Volkswagen’s MQB platform and sharing engines and interior technology. A hybrid model is also on the way. Skoda boss Bernhard Maier told: “It is not a surprise that there will be a successor for the Yeti. This is already in development; it looks beautiful and perfectly fits to the brand”. We can expect the previously upright rear hatch to be replaced by a new, more raked version, giving the car a sleeker profile. Slim tail-lights feature Skoda’s signature light pattern and split as the tailgate is opened. A four-light headlamp arrangement and clamshell bonnet mean the Yeti shares its face with the Kodiaq, while slim LED headlights and a wide grille complete the look, with more than a hint of the new Superb in the design, too. Squared-off wheelarches, sculpted side panels and larger sills will give the car definition in profile. Inside, we expect a simple design with a focus on maximising space, but with the use of quality materials for a more upmarket feel. The new Yeti will be more practical than the current car as well, with a bigger boot and more space in the cabin for passengers. The Seat Ateca has a 510-litre load area, so expect an increase of over 100 litres on the current Yeti’s 416-litre capacity. We’d expect the engine range to be inherited from the rest of the Volkswagen Group – so expect to see a selection of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines. The range will likely kick off with the same 1.0-litre turbo petrol, with a 1.4-litre petrol sitting above that. The diesel range will consist of 1.6 and 2.0-litre units, as with most of the rest of the Volkswagen crossover range. Two and four-wheel drive models will be available, but don’t expect any real off-road prowess. While four-wheel drive on some models is likely to cut into load space, Skoda intends to make sure that future hybrid versions will retain the car’s pragmatic character. “Hybrids are something we are discussing for all of our product line-up”, Maier told. “Our engineers are working to find the best solution for Skoda for hybrid technology. Whatever Skoda brings we will stand to our core values, irrespective of the engine we are looking at”. The hybrid model is expected to share the Volkswagen Tiguan GTE’s powertrain, which means a 1.4-litre petrol engine paired with an electric motor, giving CO2 emissions of less than 50 gram/km. Along with four-wheel drive, a DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox will be available for the new Yeti. It’s likely that there will be more safety equipment than ever as well, including an auto braking system and a parking camera. It’s possible that Skoda will introduce a more rugged-looking Scout model and even a more aggressive Sportline version. We expect the new Yeti to be priced from around 24,000 euro, making it slightly cheaper than the current model. But don’t expect to see it in dealerships soon: the new model won’t arrive until well after the Kodiaq, meaning a launch date in 2018. +++

+++ TOYOTA will launch its 2018 Supra under the name of its newly launched road performance arm, Gazoo. The boss of Gazoo Racing, Koei Saga, told that producing such a halo hybrid model was a ‘dream’ of his. He also suggested that Gazoo’s road car team was already making use of the brand’s racing hybrid powertrain technology. Saga refrained from revealing what Gazoo’s range-topping model would be, but earlier inside information has suggested that the Supra was already planned to be launched under the Gazoo monker. Whether or not this will be as the Gazoo Supra or Toyota Supra Gazoo isn’t yet known. Saga suggested that more hybrid Gazoo models were on the cards in the future by emphasising the importance of hybrid powertrains to his division. He cited Gazoo Racing’s hybrid motorsport models, which include its World Endurance Championship LMP1 racer and hybrid-V8 Prius that competes in Japan’s Super GT 300 class. The first production Gazoo model to be sold in Europe will be a hot version of the Yaris hatchback. Set to be revealed at the Geneva motor show in March, it is expected to have a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine that’ll produce more than 210 hp. The car will be available as a three-door only. Saga hinted that a plan to launch more roadgoing Gazoo models in Europe after this was already in place. When asked if he wanted a full range of Gazoo models to be produced for the market, he said: “of course”. +++

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