• Ford’s Mobility Challenge

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    Let’s start with the most practical idea, the eChair. If you’ve ever been in a wheelchair or accompanied someone who uses one, you know that the world is not very accommodating. This is particularly true if the wheelchair user is alone and needs to use a car. The process of transferring out of the chair into the driver’s seat, then stowing the chair and perhaps crutches or a walker, can become a major hassle. The eChair pretty much eliminates all that fumbling around. Once a person is seated inside the vehicle, he or she can use a smartphone app or controls built into the car’s infotainment unit to tell the chair to drive itself to the trunk and automatically store itself. Three engineers from Ford’s Belgium proving grounds came up with eChair. It’s actually shocking something this logical hasn’t been invented already. It could make a lot of people’s lives much easier.

    Another finalist is the TriCiti, which is literally just a folding electric tricycle that can also be used as a golf-bag cart or a shopping companion or to transport heavy items. The TriCiti, dreamed up by three vehicle-architecture employees from Ford of Europe, has a 19-mile range and a 12-mph top speed. This is not a bad idea, if you can imagine it could be built at low enough cost to make it something more than a toy for the Sharper Image catalog.

  • 2016 Los Angeles auto show

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    Details are still thin on the ground for Alfa’s first SUV but its launch has now finally been confirmed for the Los Angeles show. Riding on the same platform used by the impressive new Giulia saloon, it should use similar engines, from 2-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel units to the likely inclusion of the Quadrifoglio’s 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6. It’ll be all-wheel drive too, and should be significant in Alfa’s push to become a volume seller – particularly in markets like the US and China.

    While some of those will be for cars not sold outside the domestic market, several more cars will be making their public debuts in Los Angeles.

    What is immediately apparent, but not surprising given the North American market’s taste for such vehicles, is that LA will be particularly SUV-heavy – with debuts from Alfa Romeo, Mazda, Mini and Volkswagen, all touting crossovers and SUVs.

    Recently revealed, the Audi A5 and S5 Cabriolets are surely ideally suited to LA boulevard cruising. In Europe they’ll be available with a selection of 2-litre and 3-litre petrol and diesel units, but it’s fair to assume diesel will not be available in the States thanks to the Volkswagen Group’s high-profile faux pas. The new Cabriolet models join the existing coupe and Sportback A5 and S5s.

    The Los Angeles auto show is once again upon us and the show’s organisers are claiming up to 20 world debuts at this year’s event, which takes place from Novemer 18-27.

    Here’s one car that won’t, for the time being at least, be available in the European market – but given American Civics are now built in Swindon with the rest of the world’s Civic models, there’s a probability that the Si could slot between the 1.5-litre turbocharged models set to be offered in the UK, and the range-topping Type R – think Focus ST to the Type R’s Focus RS. Somewhere between 200-250bhp is likely.

    Mazda CX-5

    If there’s such thing as an “evo” family crossover, then Mazda’s offerings tend to get closest thanks to agile handling and engaging petrol and diesel powerplants. The latest CX-5 is more of a facelift than an all-new model, so expect the same mix of 2-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel powerplants – the former naturally-aspirated, rather than turbocharged. It’ll be joined on Mazda’s stand by the MX-5 RF, and Mazda’s SEMA concepts are also likely to make an appearance.

    Mercedes-AMG E63

    The most potent S versions of Mercedes-AMG’s new E63 will develop 603bhp, but all models will be all-wheel drive as standard. Fret not though, for AMG’s rowdy character will be retained by the inclusion of a drift mode, that locks the drivetrain in rear-wheel drive, thanks to a new 4Matic system that can fully vary torque between the axles.

    Mini Countryman

    Yet another crossover, but like Mazda’s offerings the Countryman should at least be good to drive. It looks better than the car it replaces too, with slightly chunkier styling (have we got over the fact that Minis aren’t “Mini” yet?) and until a John Cooper Works model arrives, the quickest option will be the new plug-in hybrid – a first for Mini.

    Joining the Countryman will be the Mini John Cooper Works Clubman. This model was officially unveiled at the Paris motor show but will make its US debut in LA. It makes 228bhp from its 2-litre turbocharged powerplant and starts from £29,345. Quite a hefty sum for a Mini, but sure to attract a few buyers out of their optioned-up Golf GTIs.

    Porsche Panamera Executive

    Porsche will introduce two new variants of the Panamera luxury saloon at the Los Angeles show. The first is a new entry-level engine that will sit under the bonnet of the Panamera and Panamera 4 models – a 3-litre turbocharged V6 with 325bhp.

    The second is the Panamera Executive, a long-wheelbase model boasting 150mm of extra metal between the arches and available in Panamera 4, Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, Panamera 4S and Panamera Turbo variants. All get more equipment and add approximately £6600 to the price of the standard wheelbase equivalents.

    Volkswagen Atlas

    We’re not expecting to see the VW Atlas appearing in Europe, at least initially, but for the US market it should be quite an important car. It’s massive for a start, with seven proper seats, and offers a choice of a 238bhp 2-litre turbocharged petrol and a 280bhp, 3.6-litre VR6.

  • Mazda3

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    Mazda CX-3 is a compact SUV that was designed to turn heads. Combining stylish KODO: Soul of Motion design with our award-winning SKYACTIV Technology the car offers a no compromise driving experience whether negotiating inner city roads or touring the countryside.

    Mazda CX-3 was designed with you in mind. Innovative MZD-Connect, our advanced infotainment system gives you easy, fingertip control over all your music, phone, navigation and vehicle settings and even provides internet app integration*. With outstanding practicality and adaptability, Mazda CX-3 truly defies convention, creating a new standard in its class.

    Combining fun-to-drive personality and intelligent performance

    SKYACTIV Technology lets you experience the fun side of Mazda CX-3 while offering control, comfort and fuel efficiency. So wherever you go, you’re free to enjoy nimble, responsive handling and superior driving dynamics.

    And with intelligent advanced safety features, you’ll have the security, protection and peace of mind to drive with confidence.

    Sporty dynamic styling built around you

    Mazda CX-3’s forward-thinking KODO design design is evident both inside and out. From the interior’s premium hand-crafted quality to the innovative technology features, you’ll feel that everything is ergonomically designed around you – giving you a Jinba Ittai oneness with car.
    Driver-centric cockpit
    Everything is ergonomically designed around you with aesthetic appeal. From the curved contours of the instrument panel to the optimally positioned meter dials, displays and Multimedia Commander control, it all feels like an extension of your body.

    Even the elevated seating gives you an ideal driving position from where you can enjoy enhanced visibility and comfort

    We’ve refined the exterior’s progressive body design with pure, simple KODO lines and energy-suggestive contours. It conveys a mix of power and stylish charm that is sure to capture hearts.

    mazda cx-3 boot with bose speaker

    Flexible cargo board
    You can position the flexible cargo board at either of two heights, enabling you to store outdoor or sports equipment under the cargo board with easy access to other luggage on top.