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Welcome to nirvana for car enthusiasts. You have just entered the online home of the world's oldest car magazine, and the only place on the internet where you can find Autocar's unique mix of up-to-the-minute news, red hot car reviews, conclusive road tes



Published: Thu, 23 Nov 2017 02:00:00 +0000

Last Build Date: Thu, 23 Nov 2017 02:01:57 +0000

Copyright: (c) Haymarket Media Group 2014
 



Throwback Thursday: 1957 Messerschmitt KR200 first drive

Thu, 23 Nov 2017 02:00:00 +0000

Germany was banned from producing aircraft in the years after the Second World War, so its most well-known plane builder turned to this 10bhp micro-trike The name 'Messerschmitt' is synonymous with the Bf 109 fighter aircraft of the Second World War, the revolutionary German adversary to Britain's Supermarine Spitfire. This was the Messerschmitt company's magnum opus, which says a lot, seeing as near the end of the war it went on to produce the Me 262 Schwalbe, the first jet-powered plane to enter operational service. But, with the war lost, German industry still to a large degree in tatters and restrictions upon the country banning the production of aircraft until 1955, Deutschland's best-known Flugzeugwerke needed to find another way to keep going. So when it was approached in 1952 by former Luftwaffe engineer Fritz Fend with the idea of developing his Flitzer tricycle invalid carriage into a proper microcar – popular in Germany at the time due to a shortage of petrol – a deal was quickly struck. The first Messerschmitt 'car', then, was the KR175, christened Kabinenroller, meaning 'scooter with a cabin'. This was then developed into the KR200, which arrived in 1955. The 385lb three-wheeler, which looked suspiciously akin to a fighter aircraft's canopy, was powered by a 191cc, single-cylinder, two-stroke Fichtel & Sachs motor, giving a maximum of 10bhp at 5250rpm. This sent drive to the rear wheel through a four-speed sequential manual gearbox. The car was steered by a rotating bar control that required small, two-dimensional inputs. On 11 January 1957, Autocar clambered into the KR200 for a test drive. "The KR200 falls in its own class between two-wheeled scooters and miniature four-wheelers," we began. "If you have a motorcycle driving licence, you may not use it in reverse; if, on the other hand, you normally drive a car, then you may use all gears in reverse as well as forward. "We are licensed to drive four-wheeled vehicles and the observations which follow are from the viewpoint of a motorist who is using this enclosed three-wheeler as an extra petrol-saving runabout for himself and members of the family. "The KR200 has two and a half seats; the driver has a central one to himself and at the back there is a bench which will hold a small wife and child, or a larger wife and a shopping basket. Behind again there is a shelf for small parcels and the like. On a shopping excursion, more parcels can be placed about the floor of both cockpits without getting in the way. "With the transparent (perspex) enclosure hinged over to starboard, it is easy enough to step into the centre of the floor and sit down. The front seat raises some six inches up and back to facilitate the lowering of one's person onto it. The 'lid' closes quite easily and latches down firmly, but it is rather heavy to lift when one wants to get out again. "As for starting, one simply turns the petrol to main; pulls out the choke, if cold; turns the ignition key to switch on, and a little further to engage the electric dynamo-starter. Catch the engine on the accelerator pedal and let the choke slide in almost at once, or over-richness may stall it again. "Economy with reasonable performance will be the desire of most owners today. The KR200 cruises happily at 40mph with two up, and it is as quick off the mark as most small cars. It covers the standing quarter-mile in 29.7sec." It took 10.7sec to get from 0-30mph and 20.0sec to hit 40mph. "Driven solo, 45mph could be used all day without pressing the engine. The brakes proved quite adequate for all purposes and speeds during our test. "At no time is the engine noisy or obtrusive; rather, one notes its smooth willingness and flexibility. "With hard driving, the KR200's fuel economy fell to 62mpg. According to driving methods, 90mpg should be attainable and 75mpg might be normal for everyday use. "The controls, particularly when steering is included, are unique. The pedals, including foot dip-switch, are like those of a car. On the right is a fore-and-aft gearlever, moved by hand but ope[...]



Mercedes-Benz showcases new A-Class's 'luxury' interior

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 23:01:57 +0000

This is the interior of the new Mercedes A-Class First official images of fourth-generation compact car, due to be launched in 2018, highlight revamped interior Mercedes-Benz has released the first official images of the new A-Class. They showcase the interior of the firm’s compact car, which has been completely overhauled to give it a more premium feel. The current A-Class is the firm’s best-selling UK model, accounting for around 40,000 of the 168,000 cars Mercedes sold here last year. The new, fourth-generation model is due to be launched at the Geneva motor show next March, spearheading an expanded, eight-model compact car line-up. Revealed: tech details of the 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class The new A-Class features a completely redesigned interior, which draws on design and technology featured in larger models such as the new E-Class and S-Class. Mercedes believes the growing trend towards downsized cars and urban living means that there is increasing scope to add luxury features and design usually only featured in larger models. Christoph Eberlein, Mercedes’ compact cars product manager, told Autocar: “Some people want a small car because they live in a city or need to save space, but they still want to have all the luxury features and options. This is a luxury design for compact cars. Small doesn’t have to be non-premium.” The new A-Class will also feature a far greater level of in-car technology and options. Hartmut Sinkwitz, the brand’s director of interior design, says this was driven by average A-Class buyers being younger than those of other Mercedes models. “There is a general trend for people to spend more on interior options rather than, for example, spending money on a better engine. People spend more time in their cars and want comfort, so their willingness to pay for interior options is growing.” The revamped dashboard design features two horizontal sections, split by a ‘trench’ that features ambient lighting to create a greater sense of space. The upper section features Mercedes’ distinctive twin-screen widescreen cockpit. The entry-level trim will feature two 7.0in screens, but the car will also be available with 7.0in and 10.25in screens, or twin 10.25in screens. The dash design also includes five distinctive, turbine-style air vents, one of a number of elements designed to give the car a more ‘emotional’ feel. The air vents also feature adjustable ambient LED lighting, which is available with up to 64 colours and 10 mood programmes. The new A-Class features the three-spoke, multifunction steering wheel from the S-Class. Mercedes has also reworked the seats, which now feature optional seat heating and climate control for the first time in the model.  The car will be offered with three trim levels: entry-level Style, performance-themed AMG-Line and Progressive. The latter replaced the Urban trim on the previous A-Class and puts an emphasis on design and comfort. Eberlain said the trims, which are customisable with a range of exterior and interior trim and colour options, have moved away from strict price bands. “Style is the most affordable, and AMG-Line and Performance are more fancy, but they’re not directly in a hierarchy,” he said. “They take different inspirations of design depending on your appeal.” The boot of the A-Class, a weak point of the previous car, has increased by 29 litres to 370 litres, which is closer to its class rivals than previously. Mercedes also says the space has been made more useful by a 20cm wider loading aperture. The firm used CAD data to virtually test how easy it was to load more than 70 different items, including a pushchair, crates or drinks and a golf bag. Mercedes also says visibility has been improved by slimming down the A, B and C-pillars, with maximum head room in the front increased by 7mm to 1024mm. Mercedes has yet to set pricing for the new A-Class. It is likely to be near or above the existing model, with Eberlain suggesting the new focus on luxury would be balanced with affor[...]



Seat Leon wins What Car? Used Car of the Year

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 21:01:57 +0000

(image)
Seat Leon
Spanish family hatch tops awards handled by Autocar's sister title; Audi, Ford, BMW and Renault also win awards

Autocar sister title What Car? has crowned the Seat Leon as its Used Car of the Year.

The hatchback scored best for its mix of good driving dynamics, quality, safety and attractiveness.

It also won the family car category, where it beat the Kia Cee’d and Ford Focus to the top spot.

Although not an overall winner, Audi took three titles. The Q7 (pictured below) won best used luxury SUV, the TT was best used coupé and the R8 was the most recommended used sports car.

(image)

Ford and BMW each took three category wins, while the electric Renault Zoe secured the used green car crown.

In total, 15 What Car? Used Car of the Year winners have been announced. The criteria What Car?'s expert judges used to decide the results covered quality, reliability, value and the availability of desirable versions.

For the full list of results and verdicts, visit the What Car? Used Car Awards website here




Opinion: Why the new diesel tax rules are a farce

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 18:09:47 +0000

(image) Today’s Budget confirmed new taxation for diesel cars, but it has left the industry bewildered thanks to a lack of details

Today’s news of new taxation for diesel cars has left everyone utterly confused.

I’ve spoken to car manufacturers, hoping that they can help clarify what it means, but they are waiting, in a long line, to speak to the Treasury because they need clarification as much as the media do.

Autumn Budget: diesel tax hike confirmed 

The short of it: new diesel cars that don’t meet a certain standard by April next year will go up a car tax band for the first year of ownership. What is that new standard? The name is Real Driving Emissions, stage 2, which is a test under real-world emissions. The thing is, while stage 1 is underway having been introduced this summer, stage 2 isn’t due until at least 2020. 

Do any new cars on sale meet this RDE 2, then? Well that’s the thing. Even if they did, we wouldn’t know because certification for RDE 2 is not possible until 2020. Crazy, right? Hammond has announced a literally impossible task. So, this new tax will apply to every single new diesel car.

Opinion: The government is wrong to penalise drivers 

Diesel car sales have decreased by around 20% in recent months, thanks to the ongoing war on diesel, often based on incorrect and ill-advised advice. This move will mean one of two things: Firstly, that people will rush to buy diesel cars ahead of April to ensure they miss the next taxation or, secondly, that diesel’s demise just continues on its tragic trajectory. If sales are down 20% already, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re down by half come next April.

The likely result will not mean a massive increase in electric or hybrid cars. Instead, people will choose petrol. The same petrol which in many cases has no better NOx pollutant levels than current diesel models.

And, worst of all, this move to petrol will increase CO2 levels which, let’s remember, was the key focus in the first place. Global warming is happening and is every bit as important as air quality.

And, of course, all this new taxation doesn’t attack the very heart of the problem: older, more polluting diesel cars, which will continue to roam freely with no penalties whatsoever.

Related stories: 

Autumn Budget: diesel tax hike confirmed 

Opinion: diesel is dying, get over it 

Opinion: The government is wrong to penalise drivers 




Opinion: Diesel is dying - get over it

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 16:16:57 +0000

Are the days of diesel cars numbered? We hear the views of a reporter for The ENDS Report, the environmental business and policy journal I have been writing about the lethal impacts of poor air quality for a decade, so I am not going to mince my words. I did a little dance when chancellor Phillip Hammond said that £400 million would be invested in electric vehicle infrastructure, alongside an extra £100m for the plug-in car grant and £40m for research into charging. Charging a vehicle at work will also not be considered as a benefit-in-kind. Autumn budget: diesel tax hike confirmed  I was even more pleased to see that the Government is reversing its longstanding support for diesel cars and vans. The first year’s excise duty will go up by one band and company car tax will increase by 1% for diesels, except for those which meet the most modern emission standard. The cash will go towards a £220m fund for implementing much-needed local air quality measures. But my hope that tax would be going up on diesel – as had been rumoured – were dashed. Opinion: the Government is wrong to penalise diesel drivers Nevertheless, the budget of November 22 represents one of the first steps towards righting a historic wrong in backing diesel over petrol in the first place. In the days of New Labour, it was thought that the slightly lower CO2 emissions offered by diesel cars warranted support, while the tightening Euro emissions standards would deal with the pollution they left behind. Both assumptions were dreadfully mistaken. The notion that diesel is inherently better on climate change is old-fashioned at best. The reason is that the black carbon it puts out is a powerful ‘short-term climate forcer’, negating its CO2 benefits. There is now little difference between the amount of CO2 emitted from modern petrol and diesel cars, anyway. And with Mazda putting a petrol compression ignition engine into production, the historic situation may now be reversed. I barely need to rehearse the debacle of Dieselgate – which went far beyond the Volkswagen Group. Air quality experts knew there was something funny going on years before the scandal broke – I reported on it myself. There was simply far more nitrogen dioxide (NO2) at the roadside than there should have been. Greed, lies and deception - the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal laid bare And let’s not forget that modern diesels come with clog-prone particulate filters (DPFs), which has encouraged a small but significant part of the population to become actively criminal. A loophole in the law allows them to be removed – it’s just that you can’t drive the car away afterwards. I should mention that removing the filter also invalidates your insurance. And your MOT, for that matter. Just say no, OK? That said, enforcement has been laughable thus far. The first element of government to take action against filter removal was the Advertising Standards Authority, of all things. But there are signs that a crackdown could be afoot. Meanwhile, science has built an ever-growing library of diesel’s baleful influence on our health. Convincing links between poor air quality and diabetes, psychiatric disorders in children, worsening deaths in heatwaves, poor circulation in the lungs, not to mention stroke, pneumonia and dementia have all been made in the past year or two. While estimates vary, a figure of 30-40,000 deaths per year from poisoned air is about reasonable. And that’s just deaths – ignoring the burden of the ill health air pollution creates on society and the NHS. Yes, most of this is from particulates, with the effects of NO2 still subject to uncertainty; government advisors are still working on their final conclusions on the matter. But to some extent, the details of 'what pollutant does what' don’t matter a huge amount. Where you get NO2 (the active ingredient in NOx), you get particulates and vice versa. Some measures to control one can fend off the ot[...]



New legislation to allow driverless cars on UK roads by 2021

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 15:09:25 +0000

Jaguar has started self-driving trials on public roads Government uses Autumn Budget to unveil plans to make the UK a world leader in self-driving adoption Self-driving cars without a human behind the wheel will be allowed to run freely on UK roads from 2021, the chancellor has announced in the Autumn Budget. The plans by Philip Hammond are one of a host of measures intended to boost the automotive and technology industries. A number of UK companies have recently ramped up testing of autonomous cars. Only last week, a partnership of Jaguar Land Rover, Ford and Tata Motors confirmed it had taken its self-driving trial to public roads for the first time. Greenwich in south London and Olympic Park in Stratford are also two key hubs for trials of autonomous cars. However, these current trials must have a human in the driving seat in case something goes wrong. The new rules, which will mean a change to the Road Traffic Act, will allow testing without a driver at the wheel. The plans will help the UK catch up with countries such as America and Singapore, both of which have been leading the way with self-driving research. In the US, Uber is running a self-driving taxi service in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but drivers have needed to take control to avoid an incident on a number of occasions. More notably, Google’s self-driving firm Waymo announced earlier this month that it will now offer a fully autonomous taxi service in a suburb of Pheonix, Arizona without a driver behind the wheel. By removing the current legal constraints, many of which still apply in mainland Europe and large parts of the US, Hammond will allow the UK to become a world leader in self-driving cars. The news follows transport secretary Chris Grayling’s announcement that car insurance policies will be overhauled to accommodate autonomous cars, one of the major issues surrounding their introduction. Talking about the Autumn Budget announcement, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “We support government’s measures to make the UK one of the best places in the world to develop, test and sell connected and autonomous vehicles. These vehicles will transform our roads and society, dramatically reducing accidents and saving thousands of lives every year, while adding billions of pounds to the economy. “We look forward to continuing industry’s collaboration with government to ensure the UK can be among the first to grasp the benefits of this exciting new technology.” Nissan GB managing director Alex Smith welcomed the changes to driverless legislation. He said: “Today’s statement is a clear sign that the UK is fully committed to embracing the potential of autonomous cars. As a technology still in its formative years, cross-sector support is invaluable. Nissan welcomes this announcement as we accelerate the development and deployment of autonomous cars, which are destined to play a significant role in the future of the automotive industry.” Other initiatives announced in the Autumn Budget include a £400m pot for electric car charging points and £100m for plug-in car grants. The war on diesel drivers has also continued, with Hammond increasing the tax for diesel vehicles that don't conform to the very latest real-world driving emissions test. Read more: Diesel drivers to be penalised in Budget New insurance plans for autonomous cars Waymo's new driverless taxi service [...]



Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo 2017 review

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 13:40:38 +0000

(image) Porsche bolsters its hybrid range with a 671bhp Panamera Sport Turismo flagship. Can it justify the premium over the Turbo? The Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo, to give this sleek four-door estate its full title, is the all-inclusive adventure holiday of the Porsche range.It’s difficult to conceive, from the specs at least, how it could possibly achieve, or its driver request, anything more. It’s as fast as all but the looniest 911s, pretty much as practical as the SUVs and just as luxurious as any other Panamera.The Turbo S E-Hybrid packs more of everything than has been seen in a Porsche before, and as such boasts some frightening numbers: 671bhp is just 20bhp short of the new GT2 RS, its 627lb ft crushes that mental 911 and 94mpg is unheard of in something this fast with a combustion engine. Oh, yes, and there’s the small matter of the £140,000 starting price for the car you see here, though that’s a point to return to...



Opinion: The Government is wrong to penalise diesel drivers

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 13:35:46 +0000

With the Government confirming new taxation for diesel cars, we discuss why the core focus should be elsewhere The Chancellor’s plan to force drivers and buyers of diesel cars to pay more to own, run and even park their cars – allegedly to reduce toxic pollution in city – must surely rank as one of the worst-targeted pieces of (proposed) legislation in many a long day.  Budget 2017: diesel tax hike confirmed The knee-jerk nature of Philip Hammond’s move, which will apply to diesel cars that don't meet the new RDE step 2 standards, is especially depressing. This man, whose judgement is supposed to be turned to our greater good, has caved into grievously ill-directed pressures. What he is proposing will have no effect on the problem; it will simply lower his level of earache. He will be seen – he – to have acted to reduce NOx, which “the experts” say “kills 7000 people a year”.  Fully autonomous cars to be on UK roads by 2021 Such statistics are deeply suspect, as any sensible person instinctively knows, and spouting them brings no benefit whatever. Yet there is a NOx problem: why not attack it in ways that will work?  First, ditch or upgrade the belching old buses and old taxis that contribute so much to the problem. Remember those days a year or two ago when strikes removed buses from Oxford Street and the place suddenly met EU pollution standards? What should we have learned from that? Second, encourage owners of older diesels either not to bring them to pollution-prone areas, or to give them powerful reasons to embrace cleaner models. (Naturally, with legislators on the case, the stick is being applied lustily while the carrot is nowhere to be seen). Third, give far less credence to society’s spoilers and truth-benders, whose instinctive joy is in attacking all cars, ignoring the fact that convenient personal mobility is a vital component of happy lives and of most successful (job-creating, tax-paying) businesses.  Fourth, attack the main sources of toxic pollution. How many times does it have to be stated that all road transport creates only about 30% of the problem and is outranked both by other transport forms (trains, planes)? Attack home heating, power generation and non-road transport and you’ll be aiming at more than 70% of the pollution. Fifth, acknowledge the truth about today’s Euro 6-standard diesels: that they’re now so clean that they simply aren’t a significant part of the problem. New testing regimes make this quite clear. Finally, find ways to praise and publicise the speed at which the motor industry is already embracing zero-emissions technology and hybridisation. It’s going further and faster than any governmental edict requires, but it needs the support of well-conceived infrastructure – fast chargers – if it is to attract buyers of new technology. If the forces of gloom worked to turn all this into the good news story it deserves to be, we’d all be going faster still. Related stories:  Autumn budget: report Is it time to give up on the diesel engine? The truth about the diesel engine [...]



Autumn Budget 2017: diesel tax hike confirmed

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 13:04:32 +0000

How the Budget will affect motorists: tax penalties for new diesel cars, plans to revamp autonomous driving laws, investment in electric vehicle infrastructure and more The UK Government has introduced a tax hike on new diesel cars in its Autumn Budget, as part of plans to reduce air pollution. Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed that diesel cars sold from April 1 2018 onwards will be pushed up a tax band unless they conform to next-generation Real Driving Emissions step 2 standards, which won't become a legal requirement until 2020. The company car tax rate for new diesel cars that don't comply to the RDE type 2 rules will be increased from 3% to 4%. Hammond had previously pledged to give at least three years of notice before changing company car tax rates. The tax band increases and company car rate changes won't apply to diesel vehicles currently on the road. Those cars will remain in their current tax bands. Opinion: The government is wrong to penalise diesel drivers The new RDE tests measure the pollution levels of car on the road, as opposed to in a laboratory as in the old NEDC testing system, and run alongside the lab-based Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedue (WLTP). The on-road RDE tests will be used to validate the results of the WLTP exams, with two steps set for how close the results of the two tests must be aligned on emissions output.  The new emissions tests are broader in scope than the older NEDC tests, and include a big focus on NOx emissions. The second step, which the government is using as the basis for its tax hike, gives cars a 'conformity factor' of 50%. To ensure cars meet this conformity level, they will have to ensure cars fall well below the currently allowed NOx limits. The process is more stringent than the old lab-based NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) system. Current diesel cars are only required by European law to conform to RDE step 1 standards, meaning the Budget's requirement for step 2 could affect even the very latest models. This essentially means the government will begin penalising models that don't conform to a 2020 regulation from April 2018. Opinion: Diesel is dying - get over it The UK's Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders boss Mike Hawes believes this is unfair, stating: "It's unrealistic to think that we can fast-track the introduction of the next generation of clean diesel technology which takes years to develop, in just four months. This budget will also do nothing to remove the oldest, most polluting vehicles from our roads in the coming years.” The new diesel tax hike, which Hammond said applies exclusively to cars, leaving van and lorry drivers unaffected, forms part of the government’s plans to fight Britain’s growing air quality problem, of which it labels diesel pollution a major contributor. New WLTP and RDE fuel economy and emissions tests explained Hammond said that the money raised from the raised diesel taxes, which the government claims will amount to £70 million in 2018 and £35m the year after, would be used to fund air quality improving projects. Referring to the changes to diesel company car tax, the AA's director of fleet and SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises), Stuart Thomas, said that the new Budget adjustments may be met with confusion. “Fleet managers are positively investigating alternative fuel sources, but our research shows they don’t feel they have enough information to take a strategic step forward," he said. "A number of industry roadmaps exist which plot the UK’s journey towards a low-carbon future but which are heavily jargoned and not easily understood by the SME sector." In his Budget response, Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn said the Autumn Budget adjustments will hurt "ordinary people". He added: "The reality test of this budget will be how it affects ordinary people[...]



Promoted: How the McLaren 720S earned its five-star Autocar award

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 12:50:00 +0000

(image) We explain why the latest supercar from McLaren’s state-of-the-art Woking factory was impressive enough to earn our most coveted accolade

McLaren's newest model – the 720S – is the latest supercar from Woking to get Autocar's five-star accolade, astonishing our team with its hypercar-baiting track performance, while surprising them with everyday levels of adaptability and usability that set new standards for the supercar class.

What’s really impressive is the fact the 720S is just the latest in a long line of McLarens to get Autocar’s five-star seal of approval – following a five-star road test for the 570S and a five-star first drive for the more refined 570GT

Autocar Editor Mark Tisshaw and Road Test Editor Matt Saunders take a look at the McLaren 720S and its predecessors to understand what makes them all so exceptional.

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/68FAdAwAGlM" width="560">

Learn more about the McLaren Automotive range at cars.mclaren.com




Lamborghini Urus: high-speed footage shows 48V active anti-roll system

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 12:03:46 +0000

Upcoming Urus is claimed to be the fastest and sharpest SUV yet; system reduces body roll by applying torque to the suspension Lamborghini wants its new Urus to be the market's fastest and sharpest SUV when it launches this December, and it has released a new video to demonstrate the car's dynamic abilities. Footage of the car being driven aggressively on circuit illustrates the car's 48V-powered active anti-roll suspension technology, which is most effective when the car is set to Corsa (track) mode. The system, which is related to the one fitted to the Bentley Bentayga (the Urus uses the same platform, as does the Audi Q7), reduces body roll by applying torque to the suspension to counter lean. It works with the car's torque vectoring technology and four-wheel steering to boost agility. Lamborghini is also keen to emphasise that its high-performance SUV can be driven off-road. The brand has previously released footage of the Urus making use of its traction-boosting driveline technology on low-grip surfaces. It features a traction control system with six separate settings: Strada (road), Sport, Corsa (track), Sabbia (sand), Terra (dirt), and Neve (snow). allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/DBQ85MVNCG4" width="560"> The Urus range will feature the brand's first plug-in hybrid powertrain, R&D chief Maurizio Reggiani confirmed. It will be the only hybrid in the Lamborghini line-up (until a PHEV Huracán arrives in 2022) and be offered alongside a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 Urus. Lamborghini has chosen not to use a naturally aspirated powertrain for its SUV, despite prioritising atmospheric induction in its supercars, because it believes SUVs need to have huge torque. “A super sports car is completely different; you need the responsiveness of the engine, to feel the spark of every cylinder," said Reggiani. "We will keep normally aspirated engines for our other models – they are still the best choice.” Lamborghini’s first SUV since the LM002 (1986-1993) will be revealed on 4 December before production begins at the brand's Sant’Agata Bolognese site in northern Italy. The site has recently undergone major construction work and the workforce is being expanded to prepare for an anticipated surge in demand. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/uos4yaeEuG8" width="560"> In the run-up to the car's reveal, Reggiani claimed that the Urus's design, although applied to an unfamiliar bodyshape, is "pure Lamborghini". He said the look "has evolved considerably since the [2015] concept and the finished car is much better inside and out". Reggiani said Lamborghini has concentrated its R&D efforts on power, weight and aerodynamics, because “handling is a function” of these. “We want to be a leader here and have a chance to change the rules of the game,” he added, alluding to new, as-yet-undisclosed developments that are now believed to be linked to the car's anti-roll system. Reggiani said he sees a strong distinction between the firm’s four-wheel-drive models and the growing number of rear-wheel-drive variants. A modern electronic chassis control system like that of the Huracán LP580-2 is no substitute for the ability of four-wheel drive to transfer power to the road, he explained. Lamborghini will therefore continue to offer both driveline systems.  allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yxqeG13Wv7o" width="560"> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1eELK109g0Q" width="560"> Additional reporting by Sam Sheehan [...]



Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI 2017 UK review

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 11:12:30 +0000

(image) Driven for the first time on British roads, Skoda's new compact SUV doesn't disappoint, with decent on-road manners and performance This is our first chance to sample Skoda’s new junior SUV on British roads - albeit as a Czech-registered left-hooker. The Karoq is the smaller sister to the seven-seat Kodiaq, sitting on the same familiar MQB platform that underpins (almost) all of VW Group’s mid-sized products. As such, it is also a first cousin to the Seat Ateca and Volkswagen T-Roc, with more staid design than the latter but also much more practicality.While the Karoq lacks the visual excitement of the T-Roc, it can offer both generous standard equipment and strong value for money. Our test car was in European ‘Style’ trim, but we’re told that this is almost identical to the top-spec British ‘Edition’. That means almost a full bingo card of kit as standard: leather trim, panoramic sunroof, power-operated tailgate, full LED lights and a power-operated driver’s seat. It also means Skoda’s full-spec Columbus infotainment system with a 9.0in touchscreen. The only difference between this car and a UK Edition is the wheels, our test car riding on 18s when the British car will have 19s as standard.The 1.5 TSI petrol engine sits in the middle of the range and is expected to be the biggest seller in the UK. As tends to be the case with modern crossovers, it’s front-wheel drive (only the top-spec diesel Karoq will come with AWD), with our test car also getting the optional seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox. As such, it’s set to cost a very competitive £28,410. 



Karma Revero headed to Europe with enhanced hybrid powertrain

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 10:50:41 +0000

Petrol-electric sports car is claimed to run with help from the sun’s energy; it's a four-door rival to the Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Karma is updating its Revero hybrid sports car with ambitions to export the model into Asia and Europe for the first time. New spy pictures show that the four-door coupé, a petrol-electric rival to the Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, will get adjustments to its front and rear but that its overall bodyshape will stay true to the Karma of defunct car maker Fisker, of which the Revero is essentially a successor. Karma chief revenue officer Jim Taylor has previously told Autocar that the Revero's delayed entry into Europe (including the UK) and Asia - it's been on sale in the US for 14 months - was always part of the business plan. Prices for the current car start at $130,000 (£98,124) in its domestic market. The current Revero uses solar panels located on its roof that can power the car's electrified powertrain. Solar panels can be seen on the roof of the spotted development car, so expect improvements to their efficiency with the facelifted model. "The energy collected from the solar panels is supplied directly to the car's high-voltage battery, which in turn powers the electric motors," Taylor explained when asked how they work on the current model. "Our solar panels are twice as powerful as the original [Fisker] ones." While no charge time for the solar roof was revealed, Taylor suggested that strong Californian sunshine would enable owners to leave their car parked outside all day and return to it with noticeably more charge. "We're still a long way off from being able to charge it up significantly in a few hours, but if you left your car parked in an airport car park for a couple of days, you'd see more energy," added Taylor. The input of the sun's energy is displayed on the Revero's infotainment system, so drivers can see when energy is being captured, even on the move. The current Revero uses a 260bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and twin electric motor set-up, with some parts supplied by BMW. It is claimed to be capable of running in full electric mode for up to 50 miles, but Karma is understood to be pushing for a raised EV range in the facelift in order to satisfy even more stringent real-world tests. As a hybrid model, the Karma Revero straddles the line between all-electric rivals such as the Tesla Model S and more conventional alternatives such as the Porsche Panamera. Porsche's future Mission E production model could also be an eventual rival, as could the recently revealed Polestar 1. Karma Automotive has been built upon the remains of Fisker Automotive, which closed for business in 2013 due to a lack of funding. With new Chinese owner Wanxiang Group providing a stronger financial backing to the renamed Karma, insiders are anticipating a more productive future for the American company. [...]



Autumn Budget: diesel tax due for British motorists

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:42:49 +0000

Diesel cars are expected to be hit with higher taxes The chancellor’s Autumn Budget will be revealed today with changes for diesel cars on the agenda Today's Autumn Budget looks set to introduce a raised tax on diesel cars as the government attempts to reduce the number of new models being purchased. Chancellor Philip Hammond’s penalty on black pump vehicles will be rolled out as part of aggressive government plans to fight air pollution. Cutting the emission of nitrogen oxide and particulates is a key focus due to their association with respiratory illnesses. The diesel tax hike is expected to come in the form of increased road tax for diesels, but could also be introduced with an increased tax on purchase prices. Alternatively, there could be a tax rise applied to diesel fuel itself. Uncertainty surrounding the impending budget has already had an impact on diesel registrations in Britain, with diesel sales dropping by 29.9% in October. Experts claim that motorists have held off on buying new models until the budget’s true impact is revealed. There are currently around 37 million diesel vehicles on Britain's roads. Despite growing pressure on diesel, particularly following the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal, independent research carried out by Autocar sister title What Car? has shown that while most petrol vehicles do produce less NOx and particulates than diesel equivalents, some of the market’s newest diesels can actually be cleaner than their petrol alternatives. What Car? tests showed that the new BMW 520d emits just 0.035g of NOx per kilometre, identical to the amount produced by the Volkswagen Passat GTE, a hybrid-petrol model. The tests showed that CO2 output for the 520d is 0.038g/km, while the Passat emits 0.174g/km – nearly five times the amount. Experts therefore associate the UK’s growing automotive air pollution problem with older diesel vehicles, rather than the latest Euro 6 models. Older diesels can lack the particulate filters of new cars and thus produce significantly higher levels of NOx and particulates. While the UK government has focused its efforts for air pollution on diesel vehicles, some local authorities have chosen to tackle high-polluting vehicles of any fuel type. London last month introduced the T-charge, which charges drivers of higher-polluting vehicles £10 to pass through certain zones, while Oxford City Council wants to go a step further with plans to ban petrol and diesel cars from its inner city streets from 2020. More content Variable pay-per-mile charge for London under consideration Hybrids exempt from Britain's petrol and diesel car ban Is it time to give up on the diesel engine? [...]



Ford Edge long-term test review: final report

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 07:00:00 +0000

Cabin comfort was exemplary; Lux pack enhanced it Ford’s large ‘global’ SUV didn’t shine when we first tested it, so has it grown on us after six months on our fleet? Last year Ford declared that we should ‘unlearn’ what we believe the Blue Oval stands for and embrace its new worldwide strategy. Three cars headed up this brave new venture: the Focus RS hot hatch, the GT supercar and this new Edge. Now, the low-numbers performance cars are probably safe bets, but the Edge? Ford hasn’t had the best track record of importing large SUV from the US. Remember the Explorer? Exactly. This time would be different, we were told. Forget the flabby, body- on-frame, petrol-only US ‘trucks’, because the Edge is a truly global model, a claim substantiated by the fact that UK cars weren’t even available with a petrol engine. In addition, suspension tuned for European roads, some new bits of trim and more technology, such as LED headlights, were designed to appeal to European buyers. And yet the Edge failed to impress our road test team when they got their hands on it last summer. Although they found it was well-equipped and refined, they said the Edge was “within touching distance of being the best large SUV the company could realistically have made” but it was “still a hard sell”. Damning with faint praise, indeed. Perhaps its qualities would grow on us. Six months on the road test fleet looked like a good way of getting properly acquainted. So we set about specifying our ideal ‘easy-to-live-with’ SUV. With the price of a 207bhp 2.0-litre diesel Edge in Titanium trim starting at a reasonable £34,495, we reckoned there was an opportunity to add some choice options. The additional equipment on our Ford added up to almost £5k, and while we suspected we might decide some of the extras were unnecessary in the long run, Ford was confident most Edge buyers would be opting for high-specification models. The biggest cost was the £2000 Lux Pack, which also required us to part with an extra £450 to get the Sony audio and nav system. The pack added a number of nice-to-have luxuries such as electrically adjustable, heated and cooled leather front seats, heated rear seats and a panoramic sunroof. We also went for metallic £545 Nautilus Blue paint. Our Edge came in just shy of £40k, but even with the extras, it didn’t feel in quite the same league as an Audi Q5 or BMW X3, both of which are swathed in soft-touch materials and feel better put together. That said, with the Edge measuring a touch longer than a Volkswagen Touareg, it has a larger cabin and load bay than both the Q5 and X3. It’s something I was quick to take advantage of. Not a day went by without the Edge being filled to the brim with people and camera gear. Be it awkwardly sized tripods or heavy lighting rigs, the Edge swallowed it all. Loading and unloading was a breeze: drop the rear seats and you’re presented with flat floor and virtually no load lip – features that bring unbridled joy to anyone whose lifestyle or profession requires them to cart around tonnes of gear everywhere they go. There was quite a bit of storage space elsewhere in the cabin. The glovebox and front door bins were a decent size and there was a small cubby beneath the heating and air-con controls. Most useful of all, however, was the pair of USB ports and 12V socket under the front armrest. They were perfect for charging phones, cameras and external flashes. As a workhorse, the Ford was top class. But what about this Ford’s tuned- for-Europe handling? Well, there’s no doubt that the Edge’s near two- tonne weight blunts the dynamics somewhat, and it’s certainly less happy to[...]



BMW confirms that hybrid M cars are in the pipeline

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 04:00:00 +0000

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Enthusiasts want cars like the M2 but hybrids are “inevitable”
Although current hybrid technology isn't ideal, BMW recognises its requirement to adapt

BMW’s M performance division is already testing prototype cars powered by hybrid powertrains, the firm’s vice president Dirk Hacker has confirmed. 

Although he declined to elaborate on the details of the powertrain BMW is working on, or which cars it could potentially be used in, he confirmed development work was under way and future M hybrid cars are “inevitable”. 

BMW M3 CS revealed 

“We cannot avoid the need for electrification and it is true that we are working on hybrid power already,” said Hacker. “For now, all I will say is that we are working on a very precise technical solution, but there is no final decision on how to deploy the concept.” 

Hacker said the potential weight gain from running a hybrid powertrain and the impact that would have on a car’s pace and agility were major concerns. 

“Adding mass to performance cars is never ideal,” he said. “But if we can use electrification to install more performance, then we start to have the answers. That might be more speed, or it might be the ability for a car to be driven on electric power in a city. It might also be the case that we need different answers to that question in different cities.” 

Hacker’s answer suggests that tighter emissions regulations could force BMW to electrify M cars in the short term if they are to retain their sales appeal of being usable every day. However, he also stressed that the latest generation of electric technology, set to be launched by BMW in 2021, offered engineers far more options than ever before. 

“The better the batteries and the more efficient the electric motors, the better the solutions will be for M,” he said. “We are working on always making better cars.” 

Hacker also confirmed BMW was committed to building combustion-engined M cars for as long as it was legislatively possible. “For some enthusiasts, they will always have advantages, and we have seen with the sales of the M2, which are well past expectations, that these are the kinds of cars many enthusiasts still want,” he said. 

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Aston Martin DB11 V8 2017 UK review

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 00:01:55 +0000

(image) Aston's decision to utilise AMG's 4.0-litre V8 struck us as an inspired one initially, but will a drive on UK roads change our minds? How, then, do you feel about an Aston Martin equipped with a Mercedes engine? Does it really matter? Should it matter, so long as it improves the product? After all, this ‘new’ eight-cylinder engine is a good one, with 503bhp and rampant torque. You may also have heard that this is no case of a straight engine swap, but perhaps you haven’t, so now that we’ve got the DB11 V8 on home Tarmac, let’s recap.  The DB11's ZF-sourced automatic gearbox remains entirely unchanged, sitting a fraction ahead of the rear axle complete with eight short ratios, while elsewhere, Aston Martin has made numerous amendments to the car in its attempt to best exploit a 115kg weight saving brought about by the loss of four cylinders.For one, the brake balance has been altered, with changes to the piston size at the front. Efforts have also been made to improve pedal feel and address complaints from owners who felt the system was a little grabby at low speeds. The electric power steering has been retuned for slightly greater resistance off-centre and a greater feeling of confidence.Spring rates are reduced all round, the anti-roll bars are stiffer and so too are the rear axle bushings, in order to mitigate the V12’s tendency for awkward diagonal weight transitions, so says chief engineer Matt Becker. There have also been detail changes to the suspension geometry, including a new lateral link in the multi-link rear.As for ‘Aston-ising’ the barrel-chested 4.0-litre AMG engine, the air intakes, exhaust system and ECU software are fresh, although the greatest difference is that unlike in the Mercedes-AMG GT, it has a wet sump. That’s not only to do with cost savings and packaging – the engineers at Gaydon also don’t anticipate their cars will experience the prolonged lateral loadings that would necessitate a going dry. This new-for-Aston V8 also sits on different mounts to the 5.2-litre V12 of its bigger brother, while the DB11's chassis gets improved weight distribution.



Autocar magazine 22 November – out now

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 00:01:55 +0000

This week: New Aston Martin Vantage, Jaguar E-Pace, Tesla Roadster and Lotus Exige Cup 430 This week’s issue of Autocar welcomes the all-new Aston Martin Vantage, analyses the Tesla Roadster and reveals Mercedes-AMG's hybrid plans. There's also a look at an even faster Aston Martin Valkyrie and we meet racing chassis maker Dallara's first road car. This week's full road test car is the Jaguar F-Type 2.0 R-Dynamic Coupé R, but our scribblers also get their hands on the Jaguar E-Pace, Aston Martin DB11 V8 and Lotus Exige Cup 430, to name a few. Also in this issue Did you know the Nissan GT-R is 10 years old? To celebrate, we let a new one blow the candles out.  Formula 1 is soon to go through some major changes, so we catch up with the sport's bigwigs to see what's in store. Talking of future plans, MG - the reborn British brand that's now running out of China - and its upcoming line-up are examined. Plus, we take a Citroën C1 racing in the slowest (but most fun) motorsport yet to grace our pages. Our cars Our beloved Subaru BRZ departs the fleet after a sideways of tail-happy fun. The Alfa Romeo Giulia QV takes a visit to the dealership and we consider why the Dacia Sandero LPG isn't on sale in Britain. Deals Seat's sporty beginnings are revisited and we tempt you to the classifieds with Porsche Boxsters priced from just £3k. Where to buy Never miss an issue – subscribe to Autocar magazine today. Autocar magazine is available through all good newsagents. You can also buy one-off copies of Autocar magazine from Newsstand, delivered to your door the morning after. Digital copies can be downloaded from Zinio and the Apple iTunes store. [...]



New Aston Martin Vantage GTE Le Mans challenger launched

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 20:00:00 +0000

(image) British firm’s 2018 World Endurance Championship racer was developed alongside new Vantage road car

Aston Martin Racing has unveiled the new Vantage GTE sports car that will compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours and World Endurance Championship (WEC) next season.

The GTE class machine was developed in parallel with the new Aston Martin Vantage road car, which was unveiled earlier today. It will replace the old Vantage GTE that has been run since 2012, taking 37 victories, including a pair of Le Mans class wins.

2018 Aston Martin Vantage revealed

The Vantage GTE has been developed by the Prodrive-run Aston Martin Racing squad, which has optimised the powertrain, chassis and aerodynamics of the new road car. Aston says key goals included making the car easier to control on the limit, to boost its usability for gentleman drivers in the GTE Am class, and refining the AMG-developed four-litre turbocharged V8 from the road car.

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The new Vantage GTE runs on Ohlins suspension, with bespoke Michelin tyres and a new braking system from Alcon. 

The team has already completed more than 8000 miles of testing, including a 30-hour test at the Navarra circuit in Spain. The test programme included British racer Darren Turner and Jonny Adam, who will stay with the team next year alongside Danish drivers Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen. Brit Alex Lynn, who has served as a development driver for Williams in Formula 1, will join the team.

The next World Endurance Championship is set to be a ‘super-season’ spanning 2018 and 2019, in order for the series to switch to a winter calendar format. The first race will be at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on 5 May. Next year’s Le Mans 24 Hours will be held on 16/17 June.

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Mini John Cooper Works Buggy targets Dakar Rally win with rear-drive layout

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 18:01:57 +0000

(image) New rear-wheel-drive Mini joins incumbent all-wheel-drive Mini John Cooper Works Rally

Mini has created a hardcore new rally vehicle, the John Cooper Works Buggy, which it has assigned the arduous task of competing in the 2018 Dakar Rally.

The all-new competition model, co-developed with longstanding Mini rally partner X-Raid, eschews the all-wheel-drive layout of the incumbent Mini John Cooper Works Rally (pictured bottom) for a rear-drive system.

Rear-wheel-drive cars, while sacrificing ultimate traction in some parts of the rally’s near-5500-mile route through South America, are allowed, according to the event’s regulations, to run with larger wheels and higher ground clearance.

These technical advantages, as well as the weight saving possible with a two-wheel-drive car, have convinced Mini to develop the new Buggy with the intention of winning the Dakar Rally, which takes place between the 6 and 20 January and tasks entrants with racing from Peru to Argentina.

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Like the JCW model, the Buggy uses a 3.9-litre straight-six diesel engine with BMW’s Twinpower Turbo technology. The unit delivers 335bhp and 590lb ft of torque to the wheels.

The Buggy uses a tubular steel frame with bodywork made from carbonfibre-reinforced plastic and Kevlar.

Mini and X-Raid have already tested the Buggy on varying off-road terrain in Hungary and Morocco, during which time team manager Sven Quandt said: “ the car never had to stop once due to a technical problem, which is really quite remarkable”.

Despite the Buggy’s target to win the event, Mini believes its all-wheel-drive JCW Rally still stands a chance. It finished sixth in this year’s race, but the 2018 model has received a new chassis and enhanced suspension travel.

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“There are tracks and types of terrain where an all-wheel-drive car has advantages,” added Quandt of the JCW Rally. “What's more, our car is extremely reliable.”

Mini last won the Dakar Rally in 2015, the last of a four-year winning streak for the brand. Peugeot won the 2017 event with the 3008 DKR, and the French brand will return for 2018 with nine-time World Rally Championship champion Sébastien Loeb in its line-up.

The 2018 event, the 40th Dakar Rally to be held, is expected to be Peugeot’s last. Loeb’s second place in 2017 marked his best finish at the rally to date.




Insight: Is it time to give up on the diesel engine?

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 17:30:19 +0000

Don't presume that all diesels are bad. The latest types, for reasons listed, can be much cleaner and safer Once we were all encouraged to buy diesel-engined cars, but now they are being ostracised because of health concerns. So, should we desert diesel? What should we do about diesels? Should we listen to the Government, which is lining up to introduce a diesel tax tomorrow, and buy fewer of them? Or should we continue buying diesels new in large numbers, as we have done over the past 30 years? Should we defend them, spurn them, ban them from big cities or remove them from the road altogether? Is their proven low CO2 output vital in our fight to reduce greenhouse gases, or are their particulates and nitrogen oxides (NOx) so harmful – as an increasing body of research seems to show – that they should be removed from sale altogether? Diesel scrappage scheme hinted amid £20 daily diesel 'toxin tax' controversy London Ultra Low Emission Zone start date announced Finding the correct answers to these burning questions seems to be clouding more and more car purchase decisions. There are supporters for each of the above courses of action – but the arguments for banning diesels are becoming ever more shrill, led notably by Sunday newspapers quoting doctors’ organisations and academic sources in support of their case, and diesel sales are falling as a result. Yet precious little guidance through the diesel minefield is forthcoming, either from government agencies or the car industry. The only certainties for diesel-owning motorists – roughly 40% of the 30 million or so car owners in the UK – is that they bought their cars in good faith and that tomorrow, come what may, they’ll need to get to their kids to school and themselves to work, mostly by car. Diesel engines: your questions answered The industry’s view is multi-faceted and complex. First, while carefully admitting ‘more can always be done’, its experts believe that when current, tough Euro 6 (EU6) emissions standards are combined with much more realistic and impartial test regimes that arrive this September (called WLTP or Worldwide harmonised Light vehicles Test Procedure), a modern car’s output of NOx will have been cut to tiny proportions. Diesels should be free to get right on with their job of contributing to lower CO2. Recent figures from the SMMT, the UK’s car manufacturers’ club, indicate that CO2 emissions have been reduced for the past 19 straight years and are now well over 30% lower (at an average for a new car of around 120g/km) than in 2000. UK car market hit record high in March Second, the automotive industry is understandably reluctant to criticise the cars it has already put on the road, on the grounds that they complied with the legislation of the time. UK car users have bought roughly a million diesels per year and there are an estimated 12m diesel cars and vans already on our roads. Penalising them would create havoc. Completely changing the car parc, if you started now, could take 20 years. Third, Europe’s motor industry needs to preserve its markets, viability and infrastructure to fund new, electrified cars planned along its ‘glidepath’ towards the 95g/km manufacturer fleet average that's required by 2020 – and onward towards a hoped-for zero-emissions future in 2050. (In the UK, Jaguar Land Rover has just opened a new diesel plant in Wolverhampton and Ford builds most of its world requirement for diesels in Dunton). Fourth, its bosses are extremely reluctant to wa[...]



New Infiniti with ‘class-leading space’ due at LA motor show

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 15:56:54 +0000

(image) Brand looks to boost sales with bold design and enhanced comfort for new car - likely the next QX50 SUV

Infiniti is aiming to boost its global sales with a new model that it claims will set new standards for interior space in its class.

The yet-to-be-revealed car, expected to be the next-generation QX50 SUV, a rival to the BMW X3 and Jaguar F-Pace, is due at this month’s LA motor show, with its covers to be pulled off on 28 November.

Infiniti's senior vice president for global design, Alfonso Albaisa, said the new car’s look has been tailored to strike a “balance between lust and logic”. A single preview picture shows the design of part of the car's front end.

Recently spotted development examples of the new QX50, as well as the prototype that Autocar recently drove, show a model with a sharper, sportier design in this style. 

The car also has shorter overhangs and tauter proportions than the outgoing QX50.

The new QX50 is due to be powered by a new variable compression engine, which is set to be the world’s first to make production. This new technology is claimed to make Infiniti’s VC-Turbo engine up to 25% more efficient.

The QX50 will launch in the US in 2018 before coming to Europe. It will come to the UK, but as to when is yet to be announced.




New McLaren 720S GT3 racer lands with major motorsport push

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 15:19:04 +0000

(image) Woking car maker is opening 10 retail locations for its racing machines and a new GT series

McLaren is using the reveal of its new 720S GT3 racing car as a catalyst for a major expansion in its global motorsport reach.

The Woking car maker’s new racer will begin track testing in 2018 before being eligible for competition with customer teams in 2019.

It will pick up from the 650S GT3, which has garnered four titles including the Australian GT Championship and Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup since it succeeded the 12C GT3, becoming McLaren Automotive’s top racing model.

Power will come from a race-prepared version of the road 720S’s M840T twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8, driving the rear wheels through a six-speed sequential gearbox.

Race-spec bodywork and adjustable dampers with coilover springs are bespoke to the racer, although the Monocage II structure is shared with the road model.

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The 720S GT3’s arrival also signals the launch of a new McLaren Automotive motorsport dealer network. McLaren Glasgow will be the first of 10 international retailers across Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific region offering the brand’s competition cars.

Alongside its new retailer network, McLaren Automotive is also following Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini by launching its own one-make racing series. The McLaren-GT racing series kicks off next year and will feature its 570S GT4.

These less highly strung competition models will compete on European circuits, with Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps the first to be confirmed for the calendar. The series will be operated in an ‘arrive and drive’ format.

Additionally, McLaren Automotive is investing in four drivers via its newly formed Driver Development Programme, which is tasked with finding and nurturing future GT racing talent. Young hopefuls Jordan Albert, Charlie Fagg, Michael O’Brien and Lewis Proctor will be mentored by Rob Bell, McLaren’s factory GT driver, and compete in 570S GT4 racers from next year.

McLaren’s racing expansion falls under its road car arm, McLaren Automotive, which recently became the McLaren Group’s largest division with 2100 employees. The company’s Formula 1 programme is handled by McLaren Racing.

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Volvo XC40 2018 review

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 15:00:00 +0000

(image) Volvo’s XC40 arrives in the premium compact SUV segment and hits the right note with design, practicality and driving style Another week, then, another compact crossover/4x4/SUV/whatever, this time the Volvo XC40.The third SUV in Volvo’s line-up completes the Volvo SUV range and it sits bang-on where you’d expect it to: it’s a 4.4-metre-long, high-twenties to 40-grand car that’ll go up against the Audi Q3, the BMW X1 and, now, the Jaguar E-Pace.The XC40 looks like it wants to do things slightly differently to those. Not in its mechanical make-up, necessarily, which is pretty straightforward (more on which in a moment), but at least in its design and ethos. It’s still a Volvo at heart but, whereas other cars are facsimiles of bigger models in their makers’ ranges, the Volvo you should think of as “a cousin, rather than a brother” to XCs 60 and 90.Not only is it smaller, then, it’s a bit chunkier on the outside, and a bit funkier on the inside, than the more elegant but understated 60 and 90 models, which is a theme you might expect to continue when smaller saloons and estates come on this platform too. The platform, or architecture, is new. CMA, or compact modular architecture, they call it, and it’s one of two that’ll underpin all Volvos (the 60 and 90 models are on a different one).Here it is, for the most part, pretty conventional. It’s a steel monocoque, with MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear, electrically assisted steering, and transverse, front-mounted engines driving front or four wheels. Initially, all XC40s coming to the UK are four-wheel drive and have automatic gearboxes. You’ll have a choice of a 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine (D4) or a 247bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol (T5). Here, we’ve driven both, you lucky devils.



Opinion: will the new Aston Martin Vantage justify its price?

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 12:00:00 +0000

Starting at £120k, we consider whether the new Aston Martin Vantage will be worth the cost The most obvious question that immediately presents itself about the new Vantage is to do with value for money. Given that you can still buy examples of the outgoing generation for little more than £90k, is £120k too much to expect people to pay?  2018 Aston Martin Vantage revealed It’s certainly a big leap for the Vantage to take. But, while I dare say some fans of the old car may be discouraged by the price of the new one, Aston Martin’s pricing is at least pretty competitive. If you want a Mercedes-AMG GT S with the same power as the Vantage instead, you’ll save less than £10,000. The cheapest Porsche 911 Turbo’s pricier still, as is the cheapest Audi R8 – while Ferrari’s new Portofino is likely to cost more than £150k.  Q&A with Aston Martin's chief technical officer on the new Vantage  First drive: Aston Martin Vantage prototype  The other factor likely to convince existing Vantage owners to sign on the dotted line is the huge and much- needed leap in performance. And there’s a lot more to come on that score. Aston insiders confirm that the firm’s twin-turbocharged V12 does just about fit under the Vantage’s bonnet – and that’s an engine that’ll be producing more than 700bhp and 650lb ft in some of its forthcoming applications, I hear. Even wound down to something closer to 600bhp, that ought to make the next V12 Vantage S an absolute monster.  How James Bond's DB10 contributed to the new Vantage  Knowing how well Aston has done dynamically with the DB11 V8, I just can’t wait to drive one – V8 or V12.  allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/DJ9FKXW6vJc?rel=0&controls=0" width="560"> Related stories:  Aston Martin DB10 review Aston Martin DB11 V8 review Aston Martin Vantage (2017) review  [...]



First ride: Aston Martin Vantage prototype

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 12:00:00 +0000

Under the DB11-based body was the Vantage’s structure and V8 Earlier this year, we rode in a prototype of the new Vantage. Here's what it was like Among numerous test facilities that dot the European tip of the Arctic Circle, those surrounding the small Swedish town of Arvidsjaur are justly famous. It can drop to -40deg C here and it snows frequently. Perfect conditions, then, for freezing lakes, and keeping them frozen for the business of car and tyre testing.  2018 Aston Martin Vantage revealed Aston Martin is here with the new Vantage because Continental is here. Buying an ESP system from the German tyre giant also buys you test time on its winter facility – not for cold weather stuff specifically (Aston does that in Finland) but rather to fine-tune the stability control software so that it delivers a dynamic experience that is suitably ‘Vantage’.  At this point in development, early in 2017, the Vantage in question is barely worthy of the description. The mule’s body is a mongrelised version of the DB11, and you’d have to lever it off to know that the chassis and Mercedes-AMG 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 are all present and correct.  How James Bond's DB10 contributed to the new Vantage  In the driver’s seat is Mark Barron – project engineer, stability control systems, and the lead figure in a small team from Aston that has already been in Sweden for a fortnight. It’s Barron’s job to liaise with the Continental engineers and adjust the software’s default parameters as Aston sees fit. Although this involves tracing thousands of signals and calculations, he confirms the assessment itself is pleasingly subjective – and the results impressively immediate.  Opinion: will the new Aston Martin Vantage justify its price?  “Usually within a couple of hours, we get another piece of software to flash into the ESP, and then we do the same thing again,” he says. “That’s why we use these test tracks: they give us a very repeatable and consistent environment.”  Q&A with Aston Martin's Chief Technical Officer on the new Vantage  That Barron relays this while drifting effortlessly around a track not much wider than a double garage speaks not only to the level of expertise that Aston deploys to far-flung test locations, but also the degree of roundedness already apparent in the half-breed test mule. Barron says the V8’s gruff engine note still needs work – along with umpteen other facets of the car’s personality, no doubt. But with more than a year to go before a journalist sits in the finished product, the Vantage’s docile, throttle-adjustable and apparently endlessly biddable back axle already seems a long way from the drawing board in the Arvidsjaur snow. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/DJ9FKXW6vJc?rel=0&controls=0" width="560"> Related stories:  Aston Martin DB10 review Aston Martin DB11 V8 review Aston Martin Vantage (2017) review  [...]



Aston Martin Vantage: a technical lowdown from the brand’s tech boss

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 12:00:00 +0000

Szwaj: “Body and structure is only 30% common with DB11” To find out more about the process behind the creation of the new Vantage, we spoke with CTO Max Szwaj After months of anticipation, the all-new Aston Martin Vantage is finally here. To get the technical lowdown on the new V8 model, we speak to Aston Martin chief technical officer Max Szwaj. 2018 Aston Martin Vantage revealed How did you balance form and function with the Vantage’s styling? “The aerodynamics of the Vantage were totally developed with the design. The vehicle has no active aero. The balance is achieved by the low front end, the spoiler and the airflow with the flat underbody.” How James Bond's DB10 contributed to the new Vantage  What does this car take from the DB11? “The body and structure of the car is only 30% common with DB11. We utilise some things, such as the firewalls. But there are only a couple of bodywork parts that are common – the door handles and the badges.” What splits the Mercedes- AMG-built V8 engines in the new Vantage and the DB11?  “They come from the same family and are built specially for us, and we’ve increased the torque for the Vantage by 10Nm [7lb ft]. That might not sound like much but, with the transmission mapping, you get a really sharp throttle response.”  First drive: Aston Martin Vantage prototype  How much emphasis did you put on achieving a 50/50 fore-aft weight balance? “You can’t cheat physics. Physics is physics, and when you sort that out and the main components and architecture is done correctly, the rest is tuning. Sorting the physics to support the architecture is the bread and butter of what we do.”  Opinion: will the new Aston Martin Vantage justify its price?  allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/DJ9FKXW6vJc?rel=0&controls=0" width="560"> Related stories:  Aston Martin DB10 review Aston Martin DB11 V8 review Aston Martin Vantage (2017) review  [...]



How Bond's car, the DB10, contributed to the new Vantage

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 12:00:00 +0000

Bond’s DB1- started out as a sketch idea for the new Vantage With design cues from the James Bond car seen in Spectre, we take a look at the relationship the two cars have Key styling elements of the new Aston Martin Vantage will look familiar to anyone who has admired James Bond’s DB10 in the film Spectre. That’s because the design of the film’s one-off was inspired by and inspired the newest Aston.  2018 Aston Martin Vantage revealed “When the Bond producers came to talk to us, we were starting really early work on the Vantage,” said designer Sam Holgate. “They saw one of my sketches on the wall and said: ‘We want that.’ At the time, I was just starting on a full-size clay model of Vantage but things were moving in big volumes. That design spiralled into the DB10.”  Q&A with Aston Martin's Chief Technical Officer on the new Vantage  The resultant one-off was, somewhat controversially, given a full 'DB' model name. But although it took its own form, the shared DNA with the Vantage gave Aston Martin’s design team some invaluable insights that fed back into the production car. In particular, an opening shot showing the partly illuminated outline of the car helped put the focus on the clear front and rear form.  First drive: Aston Martin Vantage prototype  “The DB10 was a unique opportunity, something that never normally happens,” said Holgate. “Part-way through the design process for Vantage, we got to see the language and form we were working on driving around outside in different environments and see how people reacted to it. While it was a side alley to Vantage, we could really take stock of what was good and bad.  Opinion: will the new Aston Martin Vantage justify its price?  There’s DNA in the DB10 with the purity of the original Vantage. When we came back to this, we really wanted to turn up the volume on the athlete side of things.”  allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/DJ9FKXW6vJc?rel=0&controls=0" width="560"> Related stories:  Aston Martin DB10 review Aston Martin DB11 V8 review Aston Martin Vantage (2017) review  [...]



2018 Aston Martin Vantage unveiled

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 12:00:00 +0000

Hardcore look, Mercedes-AMG-built 503bhp turbocharged V8 and all-new platform show the Vantage’s intent The new 503bhp V8-engined Aston Martin Vantage is a “statement car” that showcases how the brand’s future models will become more individual and confident, according to its designer.  The new two-seater follows the DB11 as the second product of the British firm’s ‘second-century plan’, under which it will launch seven new cars in seven years. To ensure sufficient separation between the models, Aston is taking a bolder approach for each design.  How James Bond's DB10 contributed to the new Vantage  The firm has revamped its entry-level model with an “analogue” approach that puts the focus on providing a direct, engaging drive, and that is reflected in the car’s exterior and interior design.  “The design team is trying to push a lot more and show the character of each car,” designer Sam Holgate told Autocar. “The Vantage is about being the hunter. It’s a car you want to get in and chase down a Lamborghini Huracán or a Porsche 911.”  Q&A with Aston Martin's Chief Technical Officer on the new Vantage  The new Vantage’s front end is dominated by the lowest-sited functioning grille to have been used on a mainstream production Aston Martin.  The bonnet is a single clamshell design, with minimal shut lines. The turbocharged V8 engine doesn’t require air vents cut into the bonnet,  although a slight bulge has been employed to link the car to the old V12 Vantage design and to create room for under-bonnet airflow to the turbo.  The flanks of the new Vantage have large side-cut features just behind the front wheels, which reflect the firm’s traditional side strakes and reduce pressure on the front tyres to cut drag.  First drive: Aston Martin Vantage prototype  The most dramatic styling is at the rear of the car, which is dominated by a large, downforce-generating diffuser, another first for a mainstream production Aston. Holgate called the diffuser a signature of the Vantage. “If you see this car overtaking you, you’ll know it’s an Aston Martin,” he said.  The new Vantage has no active aerodynamics but instead generates all its downforce through the low front, small rear boot lip, flat underbody and diffuser.  The heightened styling of the Vantage echoes some of the flourishes seen on recent Aston Martin specials, such as the Vulcan and Vantage GT12. Holgate said: “With the special projects, we can push our DNA a lot further than we originally thought, and that’s given us the confidence to not be so precious about features on the production cars. When you do that, it can snowball into something that’s quite special – but still an Aston Martin.”  Opinion: will the new Aston Martin Vantage justify its price?  The Vantage has been designed around the Mercedes-AMG-built 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine used in the DB11. It’s tuned to produce 505lb ft of torque at 2000-5000rpm, a small increase on the DB11.  The Vantage can achieve 0-62mph in 3.6sec, with a top speed of 195mph. Aston Martin claims estimated fuel economy of 26.8mpg on the combined cycle.  Notably, the Vantage has been developed specifically for the V8 engine, with a V12 version likely to follow. The firm currently has no plans to produc[...]



Tesla Semi: UK truckers “don’t care about performance”

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 10:59:03 +0000

(image) The UK’s leading haulage association says that performance is irrelevant and that viable use of electric lorries is 20 years away

The announcement of the Tesla Semi electric lorry included some grand figures, not least a 0-60mph time of 5.0sec. But how relevant are performance figures in an industry so heavily led by cost and business efficiency?

Not very, according to the UK's Road Haulage Association (RHA). “Hauliers don’t care about these claimed figures,” the RHA’s policy advisor, Rod McKenzie, told Autocar. “They’re not relevant to us. We’re not looking for performance, not least because lorries’ speed is limited to 56mph.”

McKenzie added that while the RHA thinks electric lorries are the way forward, they will not be in the short term. “My gut feeling is that they are 20 years away,” he said.

Tesla Semi revealed 

McKenzie named cost, range and cargo capacity as the main reasons why he reckons electric lorry uptake will not arrive for some time.

“I’m worried about the price point," he said. "The Tesla Semi is likely to cost more than £200,000, which is beyond the budget of hauliers in the UK. A lorry here costs £85,000. And with the industry making margins of 2-3%, we can’t afford that extra cost. 

He continued: “The Tesla Semi has a reported range of 500 miles. That’s quite a lot less than a diesel lorry. It means charging. First of all, where are the charging points? There aren't many around. And lorries can be filled up with diesel very quickly. Musk said there would be quick-charging in 30 minutes but I think we need to see charging times in real terms. Any loss of time greatly reduces our operational efficiency.”

When asked how lorry drivers have reacted to the Semi, McKenzie said: “I’ve spoken to a few of them and most have laughed. Tesla has a lot to prove. Hauliers are not risk-taking people and will need to be convinced.”

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Video: 2018 Jaguar E-Pace review | Small Jaguar SUV driven

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 10:49:47 +0000

(image)
Jaguar E-Pace
Jaguar says that the E-Pace is meant to drive like an XE. But can a tall, predominantly front-drive SUV really drive like a Jaguar saloon?

The all-new Jaguar E-Pace is Jaguar’s first attempt at a compact SUV: the kind of car that will rival the Audi Q2 and Q3, and BMW’s X1 and, a bit, the X3.

At 4.4m long it’s a pretty compact car, and one based on Land Rover’s Evoque and Discovery Sport architecture. Which means it’s the first Jaguar that can be had with front-wheel drive since the X-Type.

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Our test E-Pace is not front-drive: it’s a 296bhp (300hp) range-topper, driving all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission and a four-wheel drive system that shares a fair amount with the one in a Ford Focus RS. But all of that means that it costs close to £50,000 in this specification.

Jaguar says that the E-Pace is meant to drive like an XE. But can a tall, predominantly front-drive SUV really drive like a Jaguar saloon? And even if it can, is it worth the money that Jaguar is asking for this top-spec version?

Related stories: 

Jaguar E-Pace review 

Jaguar F-Pace review 




2018 Aston Martin Vantage GTE to be revealed this evening

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 09:54:54 +0000

First official footage of AMG V8-powered British racer released; it will compete in next year’s World Endurance Championship Aston Martin will reveal its new Vantage GTE tonight at 8pm GMT, with a target for the all-new racer to compete at the sharp end of its class in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) from the off. The British brand wrapped up the GTE Am championship with the outgoing Vantage GTE over the weekend, setting the bar high for its successor, which is due to make its WEC debut at the season opener in May 2018. 2018 Aston Martin Vantage revealed Utilising the same 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 as its roadgoing sibling, which will be revealed earlier tomorrow, the GTE will be Aston Martin's first racing model to use AMG power. The new Vantage road car is predicted to have 500bhp, but the racer’s output may differ due to technical regulations that enforce the balancing of performance between rival models. allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fautocarofficial%2Fvideos%2F10155358475004023%2F&show_text=0&width=560" width="560"> The Vantage GTE will go up against the likes of the Ferrari 488 GTE, Ford GT GTE and fellow new arrival, the BMW M8 GTE in the WEC, of which the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the crowning round. The next season is being hailed as a 'super season' due to its extended calendar that stretches from mid-2018 into early 2019, featuring two 24 Hours of Le Mans races as a result. Aston Martin has issued a preview image for its future racing model that shows its blurry silhouette alongside the outgoing model. However, earlier spy pictures and videos offer a better insight into how it'll look. The Vantage road car will also eventually be made available with Aston Martin’s new turbocharged V12 engine, produced in-house and first used in the DB11, but the Vantage GTE racer will stick with the lighter V8 engine for competition. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/SEoT6dpgtqk" width="560"> More content: Next-generation Aston Martin Vantage details allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/sASxmNcQNVg" width="560"> [...]



Autocar confidential: Bentley on a 911 rival, Nissan 370Z replacement and more

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 06:00:00 +0000

Nissan 370Z Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up this week's gossip from across the automotive industry This week's snippets of automotive news include the chances of a Bentley rival to the Porsche 911, Nissan's 370Z replacement, Mazda's renewable fuel and Skoda's alternative car ownership schemes. No Bentley 911 rival to come: Bentley has no interest in creating a Porsche 911 rival, company boss Wolfgang Dürheimer has stated. Although Bentley’s Continental GT3 competes against the 911 GT3 R in race series such as the Blancpain GT Series to “underline that we do performance”, Dürheimer added that its model focus is elsewhere: “We don’t see any reason to create a 911 fighter. That would not be a good move for us.” Nissan 370Z replacement: Nissan design boss Alfonso Albaisa is all for a new Z car in the brand’s line-up to replace the 370Z. He admitted the sports car market was a challenging one, but said he was “personally advocating” a new Z car. “We haven’t given up on it,” he added. Mazda's micro-algae fuel:  Mazda is working with the Tokyo Institute of Technology to develop a renewable liquid fuel made out of micro-algae, which could provide a sustainable and environmentally friendly fuel course. Kiyoshi Fujiwara, Mazda’s research boss, said they hoped to have a working fuel by around 2035-40. “Especially for the UK government,” he added. Skoda alternate car ownership schemes: Skoda is targeting younger customers who have little interest in actually owning a car with different user schemes, according to Jarmila Plachá, head of the Czech brand’s digital innovation facility. “Many youngsters do not even want to own a car – we want to make their lives easier and more friendly,” she said. Ride sharing and car-sharing schemes are seen as possible solutions to young customers less focused on ownership. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xKC6S2SAbQo?rel=0&controls=0" width="560"> Related stories:  Bentley Continental GT review Nissan 370Z review  Skoda Superb review [...]



Porsche 718 Boxster Spyder to use 911 GT3 flat six

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 03:01:55 +0000

Featherweight drop-top will swap turbo four power for the high-revving unit of its sibling Porsche is developing the most driver-focused version of its current 718 Boxster with the naturally aspirated, flat six engine of the latest 911 GT3. The next Boxster Spyder, which will be heavily related to the 718 Cayman GT4, will use a 4.0-litre engine in place of the current hottest 718’s turbocharged 2.5-litre flat four. Porsche Motorsport has stuck to the formula applied to the car’s predecessors, which have cemented themselves as the driver’s Boxster model since 2009, giving the car a more responsive drivetrain that will make it the most involving Boxster on sale. “Natural aspiration is one of our main USPs,” Andreas Preuninger, head of GT car development at Porsche told Autocar earlier this year. “At Motorsport, we think we can achieve throttle response and immediacy a little bit better with an atmospheric high-revving engine than any kind of turbo.” Output for the 4.0-litre unit is rated at 493bhp at 8250rpm in the 911 GT3, but the Boxster Spyder’s power may be slightly down on this in order to leave breathing space for its more expensive sibling. The previous Spyder used a 3.8-litre flat six taken from the 911 Carrera of the time that was good for 370bhp. The recently launched Boxster GTS and related Cayman GTS use highly-strung four-pot engines with 361bhp, so the new Spyder will need to produce more power to cement itself as the top Boxster. An output of around 425bhp seems likely. To signify its driver focus, the car will be offered with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but those after maximum on track performance will be able to select the option of a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission. The Spyder will also go on a hefty diet, ditching cabin insulation and even a radio and air conditioning. The 718 Boxster’s electric folding soft top will also go, in its place a manually removable ‘tent top’. These weight savings will combine with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber to make the car the sharpest handling production Boxster yet produced. Much of the design treatment applied the Boxster Spyder will mirror those featured on the GTS. The Cayman GT4 will likely get the same adjustments, along with a more prominent rear wing to signify its even harder status. No arrival date for the Boxster Spyder has been set, but the recent reveal of the GTS suggests it could follow in the first half of 2018. [...]



Audi SQ7 long-term test review: a road-trip to France

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 03:00:00 +0000

Our road-trip to France tests the SQ7's ability to haul luggage and people You know you’ve got a road trip on your hands when you’re forced to attach a roof box to a car the size of the SQ7. It’s a bit like NASA deciding to build an outhouse on the side of its Vehicle Assembly Building. But even for a car of the Audi’s size, a snowboarding trip presents a challenge – especially when there are going to be five of you. Driving 12 hours with three a breast in the back means footwells have to be for feet, hence the aerodynamic hindrance attached to the SQ7’s roof. Other sacrifices had to be made, too. The rear seat entertainment tablets had to come out (there was nowhere to put them when not in use, and anyway, conversation would have likely stopped dead). Plus we had to rotate the middle seat incumbent in the interests of fairness (even in the SQ7, the transmission tunnel limits leg room). With the boot full to bursting, we had to rely on the reversing camera for backing up – although the 360deg view on the car is so good that this becomes second nature almost by default. Nevertheless, even with it stuffed like an après ski dessert bowl, the big Audi has a knack of letting you stretch out inside. None of us is under 6ft tall, and yet save for the poor chap whose turn it was to knock the transmission tunnel cubbyhole to bits with his size 11s, we all felt there was sufficient room for us not to feel hobbled by journey’s end. To ensure the car wasn’t hobbled, Audi had previously fitted a set of winter tyres, which had the effect of making the SQ7 feel invulnerable in the way a Panzer tank driver must have felt fairly invincible. Sadly, France (in historically apt fashion) barely bothered to throw down the gauntlet, and unseasonably warm weather ensured that we had to go looking for the snow that adorns the photographs. Not the car’s fault, of course; its only blemish was the smell of warm brakes on a decline filled with hairpins. And for that, I think, we can forgive it. LUC LACEY PREVIOUS RERORTS:  Imagine my horror when I realised my first experience of this big SUV was going to be driving it down from the top floor of a tight multi-storey car park. But it was a doddle, aided by its all-wheel steering system, which tightens the car’s turning circle. As a £1100 extra, it’s a smart addition if you’re likely to spend a fair bit of time in narrow city streets.  PREVIOUS REPORTS:  The past few weeks with the Audi SQ7 have been mostly about fluids. The windscreen washer fluid warning light was illuminated for more than a fortnight before I got round to sorting it, at which point it still hadn’t actually run dry despite heavy use. With a 7.0-litre washer fluid tank, at least it shouldn’t need refilling too often.  Around the same time, the AdBlue warning light came on, also with a healthy notice period of 1500 miles before the car would run out of the emissions-reducing exhaust additive completely and refuse to start.  I had never filled an AdBlue tank before, but I had been told that the urea-based fluid can damage paintwork if you spill any on it, so I invested in a funnel an[...]



New Jeep Compass SUV priced from £22,995

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 00:30:22 +0000

Jeep’s all-important entry into the booming C-SUV market will take on best-sellers like the Nissan Qashqai from February 2018 The new Jeep Compass, the brand’s all-important rival to the Renault Kadjar, Skoda Karoq and Vauxhall Grandland X, costs from £22,995, with the first right-hand-drive cars due in the UK in February 2018. At 4.4 metres in length, the Compass slots into Jeep’s range between the 4.2m Renegade and 4.6m Cherokee. Company chiefs state it is a key addition to the range, giving Jeep a presence in the growing compact SUV market that is expected to account for two million vehicle sales in Europe by 2020. This new model replaces the previous-generation Compass, a mediocre offering that was withdrawn from sale here in 2015. Read our first drive review of the Jeep Compass in Portugal The £22,995 starting price buys a Sport 1.6 MultiJet II 120hp 4x2, which is a front-wheel-drive variant powered by a 1598cc turbodiesel engine producing 118bhp and mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. A 2.0 diesel engine is also available in two states of tune - 138bhp and 168bhp - and only with four-wheel-drive. A choice of a six-speed manual or a nine-speed automatic transmission is offered, depending on trim level. The petrol offerings comprise a 1.4-litre MultiAir II Turbo engine with either 138bhp or 168bhp. Four trim levels are available: Sport, Longitude, Limited and Trailhawk, although the latter won’t be available until the summer of next year. The most basic Sport trim’s standard equipment includes 16in alloy wheels, LED tail lights, a leather steering wheel with audio controls, aircon, cruise control, forward collision warning and a 60/40 rear seat split. Jeep bosses expect Longitude to be the most popular trim level with customers. It gets 17in alloys and builds on the Sport variant’s kit with front fog lamps, Parkview reverse camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, an 8.4in infotainment screen, electric lumbar support, dual zone climate control and keyless entry and go. The Limited spec adds 18in alloys (with 19in wheels as an option), halogen projector headlamps, silver roof rails, privacy glass, leather power and heated seats, windscreen wiper de-icer, heated steering wheel, rain sensitive wipers, Parkview reverse camera, Parksense front and rear park assist system, blind spot and cross path detection, and parallel and perpendicular park assist.   Trailhawk is intended to sit alongside Limited as the top spec, albeit with a greater emphasis on off-road appointments. Its equipment includes halogen projector headlamps, front and rear off-road bumpers, raised off-road suspension, front and rear skid plates, 60/40 folding rear seat with boot pass-through, heated steering wheel, all-season floor mats, hill descent and an additional pre-set mode, Rock, on the SelecTerrain transmission select system. The Compass Trailhawk will be powered with the 168bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine equipped with a low-range mode and will top the range at a price of £35,595. Higher-spec versions of the Compass are offered with the latest iteration of Jeep’s Uconnect infot[...]



Volvo to supply 24,000 self-driving XC90s to Uber

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 15:39:15 +0000

Volvo's largest SUV will be used by car-sharing firm Uber from 2019 for a large-scale self-driving taxi service Volvo will supply 24,000 XC90s adapted for self-driving technology to car-sharing firm Uber from 2019 to 2021. The Swedish car maker also confirmed that its largest SUV will be used for developing an autonomous car of its own, which is due on sale in 2021. Uber vs London cab vs Sat-nav: which is best? The non-exclusive agreement between Volvo and Uber follows last year’s announcement of a strategic partnership between the two firms, which resulted in 100 autonomous XC90s being used by Uber in a driverless taxi trial in Pittsburgh, US. This latest move is a result of engineers from both companies developing the self-driving XC90 models that will be supplied to Uber. Volvo said the vehicles “incorporate all the necessary safety, redundancy and core autonomous driving technologies that are required for Uber to add its own self-driving technology”. Volvo boss Håkan Samuelsson said its aim is "to be the supplier of choice for autonomous-driving, ride-sharing service providers globally. Today’s agreement with Uber is a primary example of that strategic direction.” Uber partnerships chief Jeff Miller added: “This new agreement puts us on a path towards mass-produced self-driving vehicles at scale.” Car makers teaming up with car-sharing firms are becoming more and more commonplace. Manufacturers are trying to position themselves at the forefront of a new era of getting around, rather than just focusing on traditional car-buying models. It is also a good opportunity to rack up autonomous miles in their respective vehicles. Ford announced earlier this year it is working with Uber rival Lyft on a driverless car trial programme, while Chrysler is supplying Pacific hybrids to Google’s self-driving arm Waymo for its self-driving taxis trial. Meanwhile, Volvo is independently testing the waters of car-sharing with its new subscription service Care by Volvo which will be offered on the XC40 as well as the Polestar 1 coupé, the first car from its new performance sub-brand. Users of the subscription service, who will pay a set fee each month for the car, will be able to share the car via an app with a handful of friends or family.  Volvo digital boss Atif Rafiq told Autocar earlier this year: “You can imagine lending to a stranger. We need to develop the network, for example, by having a car fleet that we own. “If you’re a car company and you’re not thinking about car sharing, there’s a problem." allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/mNwbM0nT-ZA?rel=0&controls=0" width="560"> Related stories:  Volvo S90 review  Volvo XC60 review Volvo XC90 review  [...]



Polestar breaks ground at first Chinese plant

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 12:53:05 +0000

Construction of Volvo division’s Chengdu factory has begun; it’s due to be completed in mid-2018 ahead of the Polestar 1's arrival Ground has broken at the Polestar Production Centre in Chengdu, China, where construction workers have been tasked with completing the site by mid-2018. The aggressive turnaround time is required to enable the swift commencing of pre-production testing and development of the Polestar 1, the brand’s freshly revealed hybrid model. Polestar, the former Volvo performance arm that has heavy links to China through the brands' parent company Geely, is building the site to be the country’s most ‘environmentally responsible’ car factory. It has sourced Norwegian architect company Snöhetta to design the facility, where up to 500 Polestar 1s are planned for production per year. The site will also feature a customer experience centre, as well as a customer test track constructed within the grounds to allow prospective buyers a chance to test vehicles at pace before making their decision. Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said of the new site: “We are building a Production Centre that is a reflection of our brand. A facility that is modern, progressive, technically advanced and environmentally responsible. The Polestar Production Centre will be an embodiment of the Polestar brand.” Polestar made waves when it announced that its 1 (pictured above), the car that launched the brand as a standalone performance division, will be sold exclusively via a subscription service. This unconventional method does away with conventional dealerships, removes the links to Volvo and works by offering customers two- or three-year contracts. The two-door Polestar 1, inspired by the Volvo Concept Coupé of 2012, is a hybrid model with two electric motors that drive the rear wheels, producing a combined 215bhp with the support of an integrated starter-generator. The car will have a range of around 93 miles in pure-electric, rear-wheel-drive mode, giving it the largest EV range of any hybrid currently in production. The electric drive system will be mated to a Volvo Drive-E 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which sends around 377bhp to the front wheels. When combined in Power mode, the hybrid system can produce 737lb ft of torque. The first 1s are due to make production in mid-2019, less than one year after the Polestar plant is completed. 2 and 3 models will follow the 1, but these will ditch combustion engine power and rely solely on battery-electric propulsion, making the brand an electric car maker rival to Tesla. More content allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/O0Bm_Nct7Vc" width="560"> [...]



LA motor show 2017 – preview

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 12:49:32 +0000

The last motor show of the year is almost upon us, so let's take a look at what to expect this time around. Doors open to the public on 1 December The Los Angeles motor show is the last motor show of the year and often offers something different; it’s usually not to the same scale as Detroit, Geneva or Frankfurt, but each year it holds the premieres of some of the most interesting and important cars of the future.  This year is no different. So with only a days to go before the show opens its doors, take a look at what’s coming to LA later this month. Los Angeles motor show: the cars Aria FXE California-based engineering company Aria will reveal a high-performance concept model in LA, as shown by a single preview image. The picture reveals little other than that the car will have a fixed rear wing and intakes over the rear, suggesting it will be mid-engined. BMW i8 Roadster The drop-top version of BMW’s hybrid supercar has been spotted testing and hinted at a few times now, so a reveal in sunny, eco-friendly Los Angeles would fit the model perfectly. It’ll spearhead the facelifted i8 range, following the facelift of its smaller i3 sibling. Genesis G70 Genesis pulled the wraps off of its rear-wheel-drive G70 saloon in September, but the car will make its public debut at the LA motor show. Despite its imminent arrival in the US, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class rival isn't due to make it to Britain until 2021. Infiniti QX50  Yes, it's another SUV, but they are the voiture du jour. Infiniti’s QX50 - a rival to the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC - will be a close follow-up to the QX50 concept that was revealed at the Detroit motor show less than a year ago.  Jeep Wrangler Despite being leaked earlier this year, we’ll get our first proper look at the most rugged Jeep in the brand’s stable at LA next month. Expect ferocious go-anywhere ability, throwback looks and a smaller entry-level engine – a 2.0-litre rather than the current car’s 2.8-litre.  Range Rover and Range Rover Sport facelifts Mild refreshes to the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport have brought a more Velar-inspired front end to each, as well as a hybrid powertrain. They’re two more cars that have been given the big pre-show reveal long ago, but the first in-depth, in-the-metal look we get will be at the show.  Lexus RX L Lexus' largest SUV, the RX, is about to get even bigger, with the introduction of a three-row version at LA. It'll be available in 350L and 450hL versions, meaning there will be a choice between petrol-only and hybrid powertrains. Rivals include the Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz GLS, as well as the upcoming BMW X7.  Mazda 6 facelift Mazda's handsome saloon is reaching the mid-point of its life cycle, so it's getting a nip and tuck to keep it competitive with rivals such as the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat. Mazda has already shown most of the car's front-end styling in a preview image, so it's clear where the tweaks are. There's also a new 2.5-litre petrol engine added to the[...]



650bhp Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG 004S revealed with Le Mans ambitions

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 11:45:06 +0000

New hypercar will help American brand to ‘scale up’ production in a bid to enter the iconic endurance race Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus (SCG) has revealed a new hypercar, the SCG 004S, with ambitions for the 650bhp three-seater to race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The model is powered by a 5.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 that produces 531lb ft of torque. The unit redlines at 8200rpm and sends drive rearwards through a six-speed manual gearbox. A paddle-shift automatic gearbox is offered as an option. The SCG 004S car has a carbonfibre chassis and weighs just 1179kg. It seats the driver in the middle ahead of two passengers, in the same layout as the McLaren F1. SCG was recently granted legal permission to produce its cars in the US (production was previously handled in Italy) with Low Volume Manufacture approval. The brand can now build up to 325 cars annually and expects SCG 004S production to reach 250 units per year from 2020. Such an output is required for SCG to enter endurance racing competitions such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in which it would compete in the GTE class. The company, which is headed by James Glickenhaus, an American film director and financier, already provides a 003C (the GT3 racing version of its existing 003S) to race at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, where it has achieved two class wins. SCG is now planning to offer GT3, GTE and GTLM competition versions of the SCG 004 while continuing to support the 003C. Prototypes of the 004S will commence on-road testing in mid-2018, with the first customer examples due to be delivered before the end of the year. The first 25 cars will be special Founders Edition models. Prices for the SCG 004S will start at $400,000 (about £301,640), with deposits of $40,000 being taken to reserve a build slot. More content: Nürburgring lap time record competition proposed by James Glickenhaus allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/OiCqc7jULO8" width="560"> [...]



Next Mercedes-Benz CLS previewed in first official picture

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 10:01:06 +0000

Four-door will be based on E-Class underpinnings; range is likely to be topped by a hybrid six-cylinder AMG version Mercedes-Benz has offered a first official glimpse of what the next-generation CLS will look like when it is revealed at the LA motor show next week. A new image shows that the upcoming Audi A7 and Porsche Panamera rival's design has taken an evolutionary approach, with new light signatures and a slightly sharper look applied to a familiar, swept-back bodyshape. Here's what we know so far: Mercedes CLS styling We’re told the CLS has grown beyond the 4940mm length, 1880mm width and 1420mm height of the outgoing second-generation CLS, which has been on sale since 2010.   CLS Project Leader Michael Kelz has recently divulged to Autocar during a prototype CLS drive that the third-generation model boasts a drag coefficient of 0.27. This is somewhat short of the 0.23 of the latest E-class, though it is said to be achieved with near-to-zero lift without the necessity to equip the new model with an active spoiler like that used by Audi on its new second-generation A7. "The big challenge is the sloping rear end, which remains a key styling characteristic. It hinders efforts to create downforce. To provide a suitable balance between stability and drag, we’ve incorporated some special aerodynamic solutions within the undertray,” he said. In the interests of weight saving, the outer body is made predominately from aluminium, including the bonnet, fenders and boot lid. As with the E-class, though, the four doors are all fashioned from steel. Mercedes-Benz claims the frameless design of the doors, a design element brought over from the previous two generations of the CLS, brings advantages in refinement, with the rubber sealing around the top of the windows said to offer more aerodynamic properties than that of framed doors. “They’re quieter at speed than the doors we use on the E-class,” said Kelz. “The difference is not great, but our tests have shown there is less buffeting with the frameless design, especially at highway speeds.” Mercedes CLS interior The CLS is no longer as uniquely styled nor quite as eye-catching as those found in previous incarnations of the German saloon, which boasted their own uniquely styled facia.  In a bid to provide the new model with additional economies of scale with other Mercedes-Benz models in a bid to lower development, component sourcing and production costs, it also receives a lightly reworked version of the latest E-class’s dashboard, complete with a so-called Widescreen Cockpit with twin 12.3-inch displays for the instruments and infotainment system. There’s also a new multi-function steering wheel borrowed from the facelifted S-class. The new turbine air vents from the recently introduced E-class coupe are also adopted, but in a first for the CLS they glow either blue or red depending on the temperature at which the air conditioning is set. Kelz said: “We have provided it wi[...]



Tesla Roadster: Elon Musk confirms faster version is due

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 09:45:48 +0000

Company CEO says new sports car 'is base model'; it can hit 60mph in 1.9sec Tesla CEO Elon Musk has revealed that the new Roadster is a "base model", so faster versions are due. On the weekend that followed the Roadster's surprise reveal, the company boss said via his Twitter account that the successor to Tesla's first production car will be offered with a special upgrade package. However, Musk hinted that producing a faster version of a car that is already claimed to be capable of accelerating from zero to 60mph in 1.9sec may cause some safety concerns. "[An upgrade is] just a question of safety," Musk said. "Rocket tech applied to a car opens up revolutionary possibilities." Musk last week revealed that the 2+2 sports car, which was a surprise debutant during the launch event for the new Tesla Semi lorry in California, has 10,000nm of torque (7376lb ft) from its three motors. It can hit 60mph half-a-second quicker than the current fastest-accelerating Tesla, the Model S P100D. He said the successor to Tesla’s first production car, which went off sale five years ago, can also accelerate from zero to 100mph in 4.2sec and complete a quarter-mile sprint in 8.9sec. "This will the first time that any production car has broken nine seconds in the quarter mile," he said at the reveal event, where the Roadster was driven out of the Semi’s trailer without prior warning. Tesla Semi lorry revealed with 5sec 0-60mph time It is also claimed that the Roadster, which has a removable glass lid and wraparound rear section to give it a look similar to the Mazda MX-5 RF, will have a top speed of more than 250mph. Musk revealed that the car’s 200kWh battery pack enables it to have a 620-mile range, which is another new record for production electric vehicles. The previous highest-capacity battery produced by Tesla is the 100kWh pack with a maximum range of 341 miles in the Model S P100D, according to the American EPA test. "The point of doing this is to give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars,” continued Musk. “Driving a gasoline sports car is going to feel like a steam engine with a side of quiche.” The Tesla Roadster is pegged to arrive on roads in 2020, initially priced from $250,000 (about £188,808) for the first 1000 cars, with $50,000 (£37,842) deposits now being taken. Subsequent units will be priced from $200,000 (£151,020). Like the rest of Tesla’s range, the Roadster will be equipped with the brand’s latest autonomous driving technology. Since the last quarter of 2016, all Tesla cars have been equipped with eight surround cameras to provide 360-degree visibility around the car up to 250 metres away. There are also 12 ultrasonic sensors, allowing for detection of both hard and soft objects, as well as a forward-facing radar that can see through heavy rain, fog, dust and even underneath the car ahead. Porsche Mission E due with high-power electric drivetrain The Roadster will be updateable via [...]



Porsche CEO Oliver Blume on the brand's electrified future

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 06:00:00 +0000

The Mission E is on course for launch in 2020 We interview Blume to discuss the future of the Stuttgart firm as it readies the Mission E for launch As Porsche readies its all-electric Mission E for a 2020 launch, Autocar speaks to the brand's CEO, Oliver Blume, about its ambitions for electrification. Does Porsche need to continue to grow? “The growth of sales is not so important to Porsche. We had good growth in the last few years, but the number of cars is less important than the needs of customers. Healthy growth would be 5% a year, but Porsche will never be a volume brand. “[For future model expansion], we analyse different segments where the needs from customers are. We had Macan. Now we have a car in a new segment with a pure EV. That will be the next step for a new segment for Porsche.” Who will buy your electric cars? “It will be a mixture of customers – early adopters and people from the Porsche community that look to the future. The volumes will be 20,000 a year at the start and we have the opportunity to produce more at the Zuffenhausen facility as it is flexible.” Click here to read about how electrification will affect Porsche design When will there be an electric 911? “With the 911, for the next 10 to 15 years, we will still have a combustion engine. We have combustion engines, then plug-ins as intermediaries, then full EV later on. The future concept of 911 will have plug-in built in, but it’s not decided yet if we offer it: 911 is a core business and we need it to be a pure sports car. When customers want it to be electric, we can be ready.” Will you offer more plug-in hybrids? “We have very good feedback on Panamera plug-in. We have 700hp, eight cylinders: the feedback and sales are good and much better than expected. It shows we’re in the right direction to offer very sporty and high- performing Porsches. We won Le Mans three times in a row with plug-in hybrids, so we can use it in series production and have high credibility.” allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/o30WyTCVy4w?rel=0&controls=0" width="560"> Related stories:  Porsche Mission E concept revealed  Porsche 911 GT3 review  Porsche Panamera review [...]



How to design an electric car, according to Porsche design boss

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 06:00:00 +0000

Porsche's Michael Mauer talks about the challenges of designing an electric car over a conventional one The perceived wisdom goes that electric cars provide a blank canvas when it comes to car design, given that there’s no engine to define the whole packaging set-up. Not so, according to Porsche design boss Michael Mauer. “It is the packaging that defines the architecture of a car,” he said. “Passengers, luggage space, legal requirements – this defines the architecture of the car by as much as 70%,” leaving 30% for the designer’s pen. When entering new sectors with the Panamera, Cayenne and Macan, Porsche has unashamedly looked to the 911 when it comes to design inspiration. The Mission E concept showed another way, particularly at the front end, although from the side profile and rear, it looked every bit the futuristic four-seat, four-door 911. Mission E primed for 2020 launch  How far to push the styling, then, with an electric car? “With pure styling, you have to give an answer to how far you go with the design language to visualise the technology,” said Mauer. “It would be nice to have a crystal ball to see what customers expect... When designing a Cayenne or a 911, you need people to see it’s a new model but still a Porsche. With an EV, you should see it’s new technology but you do steps with the change of design. Customers should have the opportunity to digest the new elements. “Go too far and you lose them. They’re used to a design for 20, 30 years. You see on the market, one company went very far [BMW], others less so. Customers love the product, but it’s all about the brand. People will buy an EV Porsche as it’s beautiful but also because it has a Porsche badge. It needs to be recognisable as a Porsche but have electric elements. It’s a balance.” allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/o30WyTCVy4w?rel=0&controls=0" width="560"> Related stories:  Q&A with Porsche boss Oliver Blume Porsche Mission E concept revealed  Porsche 911 GT3 review  Porsche Panamera review [...]



Electric Porsche Mission E readies for 2020 launch

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 06:00:00 +0000

Autocar image of the Mission E The first tests of Porsche's first pure electric car are complete; the four-door sports car will be Porsche's fifth model line Porsche has conducted the first successful tests of full prototype versions of its new four-door electric sports-car-cum-saloon, which is due in production by the end of the decade. The car, codenamed J1, was closely previewed as the Porsche Mission E concept at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show. It will be Porsche’s first bespoke electric car and launched as a fifth model line. Although many other car makers are choosing SUVs as their first electric cars for packaging reasons, Porsche has opted for a more low-slung model to showcase that its electric car technology is as much about performance as it is about reducing emissions. Porsche R&D boss Michael Steiner confirmed that design work on the model is now complete and very close to the well-received Mission E concept. Development mules have completed testing and Porsche has begun tests of full-body prototype versions of the production car. The finished product will be revealed in 2019, with first deliveries in 2020, and priced at approximately £100,000. That pitches the car in between the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid (£81,141) and Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid (£137,140). The Mission E has yet to be given an official name for production but it will not take the name of the concept car, according to Porsche boss Oliver Blume. It is pitched as halfway between a 911 and a Panamera in concept. Indeed, Porsche insiders refer to it as a “four-door sports car”, with Porsche keen to use electric technology on a completely new type of model to bring the brand to more customers. Steiner said the brief is “a really sporty sports car, a four-seater that’s low on the road, with a low centre of gravity. A car that’s typically Porsche but electric.” The Mission E is the first step towards Porsche electrifying its entire range as part of a Volkswagen Group target of 2030 to have an electrified version of every model offered. Porsche has no plans to create an electric version of the 911 because the only way to store enough batteries for a viable range would be in the floor. That would mean having to raise the vehicle, rendering it no longer a sports car in the firm’s eyes. However, the next-generation 911, targeted for launch in 2018, is being readied with the availability of plug-in hybrid technology. But, although it is compatible with plug-in hybrid tech, Porsche has yet to decide when to offer a plug-in hybrid 911 to market, if at all. The Mission E’s launch is likely to come first. Steiner said the more an electric car has to perform as a sports car, the more weight comes into the equation. “The Mission E is the sweet spot of sports car performance that size-wise provides enough space for significant battery packages,” he said. Th[...]



Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate long-term test review: a test of toughness

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 03:00:00 +0000

Hauling building materials is no issue for the Passat GTE, however charging whilst house work went on proved difficult The Passat has been busy recently, mostly because I’ve moved house. This means the way I use the VW has changed in the short term. The most significant difference is that there’s no way I’m plugging an EV into the dodgy electrics in my new place. One mains socket melted when I was using a vacuum cleaner to clean out the Passat and another blew up my microwave, so for now I have a strict ‘one on, one off’ policy with appliances – and I’m not charging the car. The upshot is that I’ve gone from doing around 65% of driving on battery power to barely 25%. I’ve also reversed what was becoming a rapid de gentrification of the interior. Following the move,the VW took on the role of builder’s van/skip, which didn’t bode well for its residual value. So I spent a couple of hours cleaning it out, which, apart from almost setting fire to my kitchen when I was vacuuming, highlighted just how robust the trim is. Most impressive was how easy it was to vacuum dust and bits out of the plush carpets. You’ll often find footwells lined with a scratchy, cheap material that holds dirt like Velcro, but not here. It came up like new – which, of course, it nearly is. One feature that came in handy was the Dynamic Chassis Control suspension. I’ve long maintained that the firm Sport setting on these systems serves more use as a way of compensating for a heavy load, and so it proved with the boot loaded with 1125kg bags of sand and cement. At the press of a button, the ‘slow motion accident’ body control and wallowy suspension were restored to a semblance of normality. Another handy extra has been a set of roof bars. They’re VW-branded so they’re not cheap (£206), but they were a doddle to fit and are brilliant for carrying ladders, scaffolding planks and, soon, sheets of old asbestos. I’ll keep the sunroof closed for that trip to the dump. VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT GTE ADVANCE DSG ESTATE Price £39,770 (after £2500 gov’t grant) Price as tested £42,360 (after grant) Options Driver’s Assistance Pack Plus (including emergency assist intervention, dynamic light assist, lane assist, predictive pedestrian protection and traffic jam assist) £1225, Dynamic Chassis Control £725, metallic paint £595, rubber boot mat £45 Economy 60.9mpg Faults None Expenses None PREVIOUS REPORTS: I’m starting to think our Passat’s ‘St Tropez’ cream trim wasn’t such a bright idea. Keeping it clean is a full-time job, aided by a supply of Huggies baby wipes in the glovebox. Shoe scrapes on the door cubbies and finger marks on the door pulls are the biggest offenders. Hopefully I won’t have to deal with a five-year- old’s Ribena sick on the rear seat.    PREVIOUS REPORTS: Interesting ca[...]



Jaguar E-Pace D180 AWD R-Dynamic 2017 review

Sun, 19 Nov 2017 00:01:57 +0000

(image) Not the driver’s car many would hope from any car wearing the Jaguar badge, but the E-Pace is an attractive and interesting addition to the compact premium SUV ranks This is likely to be the best-selling Jaguar of modern times. The F-Pace already shifts more units all by itself than did Jaguar in its entirety just six years ago, and the E-Pace is likely to eclipse the F-Pace in the same way as the Porsche Macan eclipsed the Cayenne. This mid-spec diesel will be the best-selling E-Pace of them all, at least in the UK and at least until the politicians and tabloid press have succeeded in their campaign to cleanse the roads of diesel-powered cars.Powered by a 177bhp specification version of JLR’s ubiquitous ‘Ingenium’ motor, it offers the same fuel consumption and CO2 emissions as its 148bhp sister when similarly configured with automatic gears and four-wheel drive. Front drive is available with only the lower-powered engine although, in reality, even this car is front-wheel drive until slip is detected at the rear.Otherwise it is as per every other E-Pace – a car derived from the Land Rover Discovery Sport which itself was a highly developed evolution of the old Freelander whose architectural roots could be traced back to the platform developed by Ford for the Mondeo among others. It’s built by Magna Steyr in Austria because all of JLR’s UK SUV plants are already running at triple shift, 24/7 capacity.



Jaguar E-Pace P300 HSE 2017 review

Sun, 19 Nov 2017 00:01:57 +0000

Jaguar’s second SUV faces up to the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. Tough task, so is the E-Pace up to it? This is the first transverse-engined, front-driven Jaguar since the X-Type. Only quite a lot seems to have happened since that car.Back then, it was a saloon designed with more than a gentle nod to the past.Today, the E-Pace arrives looking every bit as fresh as the rest of the Jaguar range and sits squarely in an ever-growing market.This whole SUV thing doesn’t look like ending, either. Around half a decade ago, Jaguar was selling 60,000 cars a year. Now it reaches that figure with the F-Pace alone.The E-Pace sits below the F-Pace, then, as the XE sits below the XF, so although ‘E’ implies electric in most other people’s ranges, it ain’t here. So, here we are: a compact SUV is a departure for Jaguar, but man cannot live on elegant saloons and sports cars alone. And so we get a natural, Callum-lite design touch applied to a 4.4m-long SUV.Which looks? Well, you decide. I think if you grabbed each wheel and pulled it outwards a bit, you’d have a rather elegant car. Place a hand over the lower half of it in pictures and the roofline is as graceful and flowing as you’d hope. But, down to its compact length and 1.65m height, it looks like a stress-ball version of an F-Pace. F-Pace in caricature.The architecture is interesting. The E-Pace is based on the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque’s platform, but there are key differences. From a practical consideration, it won’t be built at Halewood, Merseyside, because those plants are at capacity.This one, then, will be built by Magna in Austria plus, later, by Jaguar Land Rover in China.But there’s more of significance than that. This mostly steel monocoque, with a transverse front engine, is designed for mostly front-drive cars, rather than rear-drive cars like Jaguars of old. Our test car is four-wheel drive, but front-drivers will be available at launch, too.There are, still, key differences from an Evoque. The front suspension subframe is rigidly mounted – at least, in places – to the chassis, to improve steering precision. At the back, there is Jaguar’s integral link set-up.But making a car with this kind of ground clearance and body height, and with a mostly steel monocoque, means the resulting car is heavy, despite the use of some light materials. At 1894kg in this trim, the E-Pace is more than 100kg heavier than an equivalently engined, 1770kg F-Pace.Engineers will work to accomplish remarkable feats, though. But by gum, we’re asking them to here, aren’t we? Create a tall Jaguar but make it behave like an XE, please. The constant goals are to make cars faster, more efficient and more comfortable, and then we throw at car makers the challenges of making [...]



Life at BMW: marketing boss Ian Robertson on a 38-year career

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 07:00:00 +0000

Robertson is often called the most powerful Brit in the global car industry. He tells us the secret of his success as his retirement approaches Ian Robertson, the highest-placed Brit at BMW, reckons the secret of having a big job in the car industry is not worrying too much about losing it. And he should know. He has held a variety of mega-senior positions at Rover, Land Rover, Rolls-Royce, Mini and BMW during a 38-year career in the car industry. Yet in all that time, he has never left the company he joined as a graduate in 1978, instead shaping his career around new opportunities presented by changing owners. Next year, he will retire from the board of BMW.  He steps down (or perhaps across, given, as we’ll learn, how different his vision of retirement is to most) described by observers as “the most powerful Briton in the global car industry”, by colleagues as “brilliant, driven, always hard, always fair” and by himself as “engaged, passionate, optimistic – someone who relishes making informed decisions”.  By anyone’s standards, it has been quite a journey from growing up in Oswestry, Shropshire, as a car-loving teenager who rebuilt the engine in his first car, a Singer Chamois, to becoming the first member of his family to attend university, where he read maritime studies, to standing at the summit of the global car industry. His passion for the subject may have been tested by a relentless routine of 15-hour-plus working days but it is, he says, undimmed.  “I always say to my guys: ‘When a car goes onto a transporter, off to a customer, who by the way pays our wages, you need to feel an excitement and a passion for that product’,” says Robertson. “It’s a tough, complex place to work, the car industry, but I love the product and I’ve been driven by a desire to see that product get better every single day. When I left university, I had offers to work on oil rigs in Kuwait. Good money, tax free and six weeks on, two weeks off. But I loved cars. So that’s where I headed.”  Joining the British car industry in the late 1970s wouldn’t have been many people’s idea of fun. Production had peaked in 1972 and unrest was on the brink of turning into turmoil. Robertson, however, relished the opportunities presented by both the internal power struggles and the disruption of Japanese competitors setting up in Europe. A love of disruption was to become another career hallmark.  “There were British cars you were proud to own – I had a Triumph TR7 and Rover SD1, even a Spitfire, which I loved because it was so easy to work on – and perhaps some you weren’t so quick to shout about, like the Allegro, Maxi and others,” he says. “But when I joined Rover, Michael Edwardes was there, taking char[...]



Kia Stinger GT-S vs BMW 440i and Jaguar XE S - can it handle the heat?

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 07:00:00 +0000

Stinger’s interior trim feels a tad flimsy in parts, and material quality falls short of the others... A BMW, a Jag and... a Kia? That’s the kind of company the Korean brand is aiming to keep with its new £40k performance saloon Even from the cabin of the BMW, handsome Estoril Blue, the attention slathered on the leader of our small convoy isn’t difficult to see. It could be that car’s own rich hue, which is suspiciously similar to Alfa’s Competizione Red, or the strangely discreet quad exhausts, or the fact that its prominent haunches flow rearwards to meet a tapering fastback and form an eye-pleasing Kamm-tail of sorts. All warrant a closer look. Or those enjoying the delights of the M4 westbound on this overcast weekday morn could simply be leaning over to make sure they’ve read the badge on the boot-lid correctly. So we’re all on the same page, it says ‘Kia’.  By now you’ll be aware of the Stinger, seen here in top-spec, establishment-bating, eyebrow-raising GT-S trim. You may have also heard that it’s better than expected, with plenty of go and a chassis that’s, not to beat around the bush, rather lively. But good enough to be regarded as a proper driver’s car, one that might be considered an alternative to the likes of BMW’s 440i M Sport and the Jaguar XE S? Surely not.  It pays to be open-minded, though, and a short while later the Stinger’s respectably heavy key fob is in hand. Climb aboard and it isn’t the elegant expanse of its interior that surprises most. Neither is it the high, wide transmission tunnel, with its Audi-style gearlever, nor the porthole-style air vents (Mercedes) or the dash-top infotainment system (BMW). It’s actually the driving position, which sinks deep enough for your eye-line to skim the top of the wraparound dash. Plenty of adjustability in the steering column then allows you to set the firmly padded steering wheel, with its satisfying narrow girth, close to your chest, in turn extending an invitation for your legs to stretch out and greet the pedals. All this comes as revelation because the relationship between a car’s principal controls is an ergonomic maze in which experienced marques still get lost from time to time. That Kia has more or less nailed it straight off the bat bodes very well indeed.  As does the Stinger’s spec-sheet, underscored as it is by one very attractive number: £40,495. Okay, there will be those for whom that seems a disturbingly substantial wedge to hand to a brand best known for its seven-year warranty, but just consider what it gets you. Nestled within the Stinger’s vaguely piggish snout is a 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 whose 365bhp is delivered to the rear wheels through a paddleshift-operated eigh[...]