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Tarraco was chosen by the public via an online poll, which featured more than 146,000 votes and whittled down a total of 10,130 names, all taken from Spanish geography.
After Seat selected four finalists, Tarraco was voted for by 35.52% of voters. Tarraco is the ancient name of the Catalan city of Tarragona, and was the oldest Roman settlement on the Iberian Peninsula. The archaeological ensemble that remains, including a aqueduct, forum and a theatre, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
Seat’s names from Spain
Ronda: Produced from 1982 to 1986, this was the first Seat named after a town in Spain. Ronda is located in a mountainous area of the M?laga region.
M?laga: This saloon, built from 1985 to 1992, took the name of Spain's sixth-largest city.
Marbella: This was a rebadged Fiat Panda, named after a city on the Costa del Sol.
Ibiza: The long-running supermini shares its name with the party-friendly Balearic island.
C?rdoba: A bigger version of the Ibiza, named after the historic city in Andalusia.
Toledo: Small family car has the same name as a historic town that's a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Leon: Seat’s family car is named after a large city in the North-West of Spain.
Alhambra: This large MPV gets its name from a large palace in Granada.
Altea: The name of Seat’s discontinued small MPV was taken from a town on the Costa Blanca.
Ateca: The hugely popular SUV was named after a small town with a population of less than 2000 people in the province of Zaragoza.
Arona: A small port town on the island of Tenerife gives its name to Seat’s new small SUV.
Arosa: The small city car Seat produced from 1997 until 2004 referenced Vilagarc?a de Arousa in the Galicia province. Seat returned to the city car market in 2012 with the Mii, which of course isn’t named after anywhere in Spain.
The Insignia GSi is Vauxhall's new performance flagship. Can this diesel estate version offer both pace and practicality?
This is the replacement for the old Insignia VXR and will serve as Vauxhall’s new performance flagship.Following its reveal at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show, Vauxhall was keen to point out that this new model - now badged Insignia GSi - was not only developed at the N?rburgring but was 12 seconds faster around the circuit than its predecessor. No word was given on what that exact time was, but 12 seconds is 12 seconds. Make what you will of the official lap time’s absence.What is clear is that, whatever that time was, it wouldn’t have been set in the variant of Insignia GSi we have here. While that car would have been the petrol-powered Grand Sport hatch, this is the oil-burning estate - or Sports Tourer in Vauxhall speak.Explained in a rather unforgiving manner, this means it’s the slowest, heaviest version of the fastest, most exciting Insignia - but only by a small margin. On the flip side, it’s also the most practical and offers slightly better economy than its petrol-powered stablemates. So every cloud and all that.The engine is a 2.0-litre Biturbo four-cylinder diesel that develops 207bhp and 354lb ft of torque, sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission (the first to ever be fitted to a Vauxhall, don’t you know). There’s also a twin-clutch differential at the rear axle that allows more torque to be sent to the outside rear wheel during cornering.Although the Insignia GSi’s suspension architecture is shared with other Insignia models – that means lightweight MacPherson struts and coil springs up front, with a five-link axle and coil springs at the rear – it sits 10mm lower and spring rates have been stiffened by as much as 40%. Vauxhall’s FlexRide adaptive damping has also been thrown into the mix, offering the choice of three driving modes: Standard, Sport and Tour.
Power is claimed to be 297bhp and the car maxes out at 112mph. A 111kWh lithium-ion battery pack provides a range of up to 413 miles, combined with the effect of the car’s regenerative braking. Motors front and rear power all four wheels.
It’s around 5110mm long - it's the same length as a standard-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz S-Class, although VW bills the ID Vizzion as a premium saloon. This means that the eventual production car will be a follow-up to the ill-fated Phaeton, as previously reported.
It’s the first model in the ID range to go without driver controls – the interior has four seats, with no pedals, steering wheel or infotainment for the driver or front-seat passenger. This means it’s the first fully autonomous model VW has shown. A nod to those who can’t drive, such as children, further confirms the car’s Level 5 autonomy (ie. no driver input is required at any time).
Instead of a traditional infotainment set-up, the ID Vizzion has a voice and gesture-controlled ‘host’, presumably with displays incorporated into the windows rather than separate screens.
VW recently confirmed that the ID hatch will enter production in late 2019, while the ID Crozz will launch the following year. By 2025, there’ll be more than 20 EVs in the VW line-up, with one million annual EV sales targeted.
The 1.5-litre unit, badged T3, follows the brand’s four-cylinder Drive-E engines of recent years. It gets a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with an eight-speed automatic available from 2019. Volvo expects the T3 to make up around 10% of XC40 sales.
The first XC40 customers will receive their cars in March, while deliveries of the T3-engined vehicle start in the summer. T3-engined XC40s are priced from ?27,905. Performance, economy and emissions figures are yet to be released.
Volvo announced that the engine is the basis for its XC40 plug-in hybrid, which will bear the company’s Twin Engine branding for the electrified version, due at the end of the year.
Announcement of new British brand could signal motorsport interests for the future
A new car brand called Brabham Automotive has been launched by former Formula 1 driver and Le Mans winner David Brabham.
Headed by the son of three-time F1 World Champion Sir Jack Brabham, the company has been announced two years after the name was first registered with the UK's Companies House.
No details as to whether a car model is in the works have been revealed at this stage, but Brabham (pictured below) told Autocar last year that he wanted “to see the name back on track”, suggesting the launch of the car company could lead to a motorsport programme in the future.
A Brabham spokesman refrained from commenting on the idea of a return to racing, stating that the car company has been “continually approached on various projects” and that it “will reveal more about the [automotive] project and its intentions shortly”.
Although not confirmed, speculation last year suggested the Force India F1 Team could be bought by Brabham. It is the only F1 team yet to confirm the reveal date of its 2018 car, and the squad, which finished the 2017 season in fourth with its drivers seventh and eighth respectively in the drivers’ standings, is expected to be sold following an ongoing legal case for its owner, Indian business tycoon Vijay Mallya.
Mallya was arrested and released on bail in Britain last year following requests from India for his extradition. The 62-year-old faces charges of financial crimes, which include money laundering of around ?100 million related to one of his former businesses, Kingfisher Airlines. Mallya denies any wrongdoing.
New R110 motor enables better rolling acceleration with no expected impact on driving range
Renault has revealed a more powerful version of the Zoe. Called the R110, it gets 107bhp from its new electric motor.
As scooped by Autocar earlier this month, the model has 16bhp more than the existing R90. The R110 is claimed to provide better rolling acceleration, shaving 1.8sec from the R90's 12sec 80-120kph (49.7-74.5mph) time.
Off-the-line performance is said to be identical to the R90’s because the R110 produces the same 166lb ft of instantly available torque. It’s also expected to have the same range as its less potent sibling, although Renault is waiting until WLTP results are compiled before providing final numbers. The R90's quoted NEDC range is 250 miles, with a claimed real-world range of 190 miles.
Renault said the added grunt of the R110 comes thanks to “power electronics-related innovations” so it brings no weight or size penalties.
The R110 also now comes available with Android Auto smartphone mirroring, bringing Android-compatible apps such as Waze, Spotify and Skype to the car’s infotainment system.
In addition, Renault has added a new dark metallic Aconite shade to the Zoe's colour palette, as well as a new Purple Pack interior finish that adds violet upholstery and violet satin to the dashboard and interior trim.
Following a public debut at the Geneva motor show, orders for the R110 will be taken from the spring, with first customer deliveries scheduled for the summer. UK pricing is yet to be confirmed, but expect the R110’s higher power to edge its entry-level price close to ?20,000.
The new R110 motor brings Renault's tally of electric powerplants to five. Its other motors produce between 59bhp and 91bhp and are fitted to the Zoe, Kangoo ZE, Master ZE and Daimler’s Smart Electric Drive models.
Renault’s boosted Zoe comes at a time when the model, which was launched in 2012, continues to grow in popularity. European sales totalled 30,134 last year, which represented an increase of 8894 on the year before.
This mirrors a trend seen across the electric car segment. Sales of electric cars in Britain surged last year, with 13,500 EVs sold in 2017. Electrified cars, including hybrids, surged in demand by 34.8% from 2016.
An unspecified number of diesel models could be affected
The software programs allegedly used by Mercedes-Benz could be similar to those developed by Volkswagen
Mercedes-Benz has equipped various diesel models with software that may have helped them pass emission tests, according to a report published by German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
The report, citing information Bild am Sonntag says is contained in a US Department of Justice investigation, claims engineers from Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler developed various software programs that allowed unspecified diesel models to pass US emission tests through the manipulation of the engine and its selective catalytic reduction filter.
The software programs are alleged to have been tailored to the specific demands of various cycles in the US emission testing procedure, allowing the diesel engine of Mercedes-Benz models to run in an ultra-clean state, but only for limited periods of time, after which it was then switched to a so-called “dirty mode”.
The manipulation software programs allegedly used by Mercedes-Benz to allow its diesel models to pass the US tests could be similar to those developed by Volkswagen and threaten to drag it further into the Dieselgate scandal.
According to the information obtained by Bild am Sonntag, included among the software programs alleged to have been developed for diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz models is the “Bit 13” function. It sees the diesel engine switch to “dirty mode” once it emits 16 grams of NOx. This corresponds, it says, to the duration of the US highway test cycle.
Also suspected of being used is the “Bit 14” software function. It switches the engine to “dirty mode” under certain temperatures and preset periods of time. This function is allegedly particularly suited to allowing cars to pass the FTP-75 warm test cycle.
Another software function called “Bit 15” is claimed to have been used during the US06 test cycle. It is programmed to switch off the SCR exhaust gas after-treatment system after 16 miles.
Bild says US investigators have also uncovered a further suspicious software function within the control system of various Mercedes-Benz models. Called Slipguard, it reportedly detects when the car is being tested on a rolling road and is claimed to influence the dosage of urea-based AdBlue solution within the SCR exhaust gas after-treatment system.
The allegations come after news that the German ministry of transport is set to demand Mercedes-Benz issues a recall for diesel-engined versions of its Vito commercial van due to discrepancies.
According to sources, tests carried out on the Vito reveal its SCR filter is programmed to reduce the injection of AdBlue to allow it to be filled during service intervals - thus reducing its efficiency and leading to higher NOx values than those claimed by Mercedes-Benz.
Mercedes-Benz is not commenting on the allegations of diesel emission manipulation.
Chargers with up to 350kW charging capacity could be installed in 50 locations on UK motorways, providing easy access to 96% of UK citizens
The National Grid has pitched a network of 50 electric vehicle charging stations with a capacity of up to 350kW across England and Wales, along with a similar network in Scotland.
The Financial Times reports that the company, which runs the UK’s electric grid, has looked into the possibility and has found that strategic placement of the chargers on UK motorways would put 90% of drivers within 50 miles of a charger.
"We want to show that infrastructure needn’t be a barrier. This is not about National Grid charging vehicles, but National Grid enabling the charging to happen. Range anxiety is consistently given as a major reason as to what deters consumers from buying EVs and we have a solution that addresses this," said a National Grid spokesman.
The 350kW chargers could result in EVs being charged in as little as five minutes, depending on battery size. They could also match the demands of hungrier EVs that are on their way shortly; these can only achieve their headline-grabbing recharging times with higher-capacity chargers than those currently installed in the UK. 50 individual chargers are planned for each charging station, meaning 100 chargers when considering both directions of travel.
The chargers would be wired directly into the high-voltage electricity transmission network itself, rather than local grids, dispelling concerns of higher-capacity EV chargers leading to power shortages in more under-strain areas. There are no plans for the National Grid to run the chargers, so the price to charge at one of the points will be decided by the eventual owners of each station. It'll cost between ?500 million-?1 billion to install the network at current prices, however this is likely to come down as technology advances, said the Grid spokesman.
"If you overlay the motorway network over the transmission network, there is a synergy. The electricity transmission network runs close to motorway network and likely to be most efficient connection at many sites. In terms of how you space rapid chargers; 50 miles was used in the autonomous vehicles bill. When we mapped England and Wales with the grid, 90% of people using network would be within 50 miles of a rapid charger," said the spokesman. "We think the rollout of the charging points should be structured and co-ordinated. Rather than connecting one customer at a time and having a piecemeal approach, provide the infrastructure in a co-ordinated way. Our solution is about future proofing; not just for cars but for light goods vehicles and trucks in the future."
Chargemaster is currently working on the implementation of 150kW chargers for the UK, although these aren’t due until next year. As the Government ramps up plans to make EVs the go-to choice amid air quality and European Union CO2 targets, EV charge points will soon become mandatory at all large petrol stations and motorway services.
Matthew Trevaskis, head of electric vehicles at the Renewable Energy Association, said: “This is an important milestone for the development of a strategic, accessible, and reliable electric vehicle charging network in the UK. National Grid will play an increasingly crucial role in EV rollout and it is excellent to see some big-picture thinking from them on this issue. It is now up to Government and regulators to build on the excellent work done to date and to implement documents such as the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan.”
Next 911 will be first available with hybrid powertrain, but Turbo models will retain combustion engines
The 2019 Porsche911 has been leaked to the internet, showing the car's new rear design long before it is officially revealed.
A single image of the new model's back end was posted to Instagram but has since been removed. The image captures the new rear light bar, raised rear engine cover and vertical vent slats.
Porsche UK made no comment when Autocar asked about the image's authenticity, but the similarity in design and shape to spotted development cars suggests it is indeed genuine. The car isn't expected to be revealed until later this year.
When it arrives, the next-generation 911 range will be led by a 630bhp Turbo S. As shown by our spy pictures, the entire line-up will receive a more muscular look that takes influence from the iconic design of Speedster models from yesteryear.
The Turbo and Turbo S models will remain the most aggressive, with wide rear arches and a fixed rear wing signalling their potent performance (more on that later).
Much of their added muscle comes from the next-gen 911's haunched back, which resembles that of 2011's 997 Speedster (itself a model influenced by the original 356 Speedster from 1954).
The raised rear is likely to be a design feature rather than a technical requirement to fit a hybrid powertrain. Although the 992-generation 911 will be the first to be offered with hybrid technology, Autocar understands that this change will have no noticeable impact on the car's exterior design.
Engines and power outputs
The future 911 range, including the GT3, will exclusively use turbocharged six-cylinder engines, marking the end of naturally aspirated units for the line-up.
The GT3 will deliver more than 500bhp, while the standard models are set to get an extra 10-15bhp over today’s Carrera and Carrera S. The current Carrera and Carrera S deliver 364bhp and 414bhp respectively, so the 992-generation 911 will produce 375-429bhp.
The hybrid 911 model will be introduced in 2020. It will run the flat-six with an electric motor, providing limited all-electric and performance-boosting functions.
The electrified powertrain has provided engineers with a packaging challenge, but product line director Erhard M?ssle, now retired, previously told Autocar that "CO2 regulations in 2020" have spurred on the hybrid model's development.
The range-topping Turbo S will be powered by a ramped-up version of the current car's 3.8-litre flat-six to become a genuine threat to the Ferrari 488 GTB. Porsche engineers have decided against including hybrid technology on the variant in a bid to save weight.
The future flagship model will borrow engine hardware from the GT2 RS to ensure that its output jumps by 50bhp to 630bhp compared with today's Turbo S - edging it to within 30bhp of the 488 GTB.
The regular Turbo model that sits beneath the Turbo S is predicted to have 592bhp, which is 61bhp more than today's 991 version. Both the Turbo and Turbo S will be capable of more than 200mph.
The 992 911, which is the eighth generation of the sports car, will be built around an evolved MMB structure with a wider footprint than the current 991-gen range. The photographed test car above (spotted last year) wore wheel arch extensions - evidence of a wider track that will give the 992 improved high-speed stability and better space for rear passengers. The car's length will remain unchanged.
Modular design will enable the structure's use for next-generation versions of the Boxster and Cayman, while it could also influence the design and engineering of future Audi R8 and Lamborghini Hurac?n models. The updated structure will make more extensive use of high-strength steel and aluminium in order to cut weight.
Visible on the photographed cars is a full-width retractable rear wing. This will come as part of several active aerodynamic parts tasked with enhancing stability with downforce when additional grip is required. An active front spoiler is also a possibility, although this hasn't been seen on test cars so far.
Interior and dashboard
The latest Cayenne and Panamera offer the biggest clues as to what the 992 911's dashboard design will be like. Spotted development cars have featured a central rev counter that's flanked by two digital screens, located in a cluster that curves around the centre console touchscreen.
The technology mimics the wraparound design of Volkswagen Group stablemate Audi's Virtual Cockpit but keeps a more traditional layout, with revs remaining the main focus.
Like its forebears, the 992 911 will also be produced in Targa form, although this isn't expected to arrive until later.
This is the first picture of the upcoming Techrules Ren RS
Chinese company has revealed a pared-back version of last year’s diesel-turbine electric supercar with just one seat
A track-only version of the 1287bhp Techrules Ren diesel-turbine electric supercar has been previewed in a new official image ahead of its debut at the Geneva motor show.
The pared-back version of the Chinese company's 2017 supercar is called the Ren RS. It has been developed with weight-saving as a priority; all non-essential parts, including its passenger seat, have been ditched.
Techrules is yet to reveal how much weight has been saved, but the standard Ren (pictured below) weighed 1700kg, enough to give it a power-to-weight ratio of 757bhp per tonne. That's 26bhp per tonne more than the Bugatti Chiron, even in standard form.
Like the standard Ren, the Ren RS has Techrules’ Turbine-Recharging Electric Vehicle (TREV) powertrain to keep up to six electric motors spinning. Together, these produce the car’s 1287bhp headline figure, enabling a claimed 0-62mph sprint time of 3.0sec and a top speed of 205mph.
Techrules' patented TREV system places two motors at the front of the car and four at the rear, with power supplied by a 28kWh battery pack that’s kept energised by a diesel-fuelled turbine. This powertrain is said to allow a range of 727 miles from 80 litres of diesel.
Techrules is also offering the Ren RS in lighter four-motor configuration, offering 858bhp and 1150lb ft. The RS is not available with the lowest power two-motor set-up offered on the regular Ren.
The Ren's motors can be charged to 80% in 15 minutes using a DC fast charger. Techrules is targeting a battery lifespan of 100,000 cycles. Diesel is the most efficient fuel, but the Ren is also able to run on gaseous fuels, suggesting the Ren RS will be able to as well.
The Ren RS retains the regular car’s canopy opening, but its single-seat layout allows for the use of a slimmer, more aerodynamic cover. Inside, there’s a motorsport-specification rollcage, while the bodywork is carbonfibre.
The car sits on race-inspired in-board, horizontally mounted, three-way adjustable pushrod wishbones. Braking is handled by carbon-ceramic discs and six-piston AP racing calipers.
Techrules had the Ren designed by Italdesign founder Giorgetto Giugiaro and his son Fabrizio. The model was engineered by engineering and production specialist LM Gianetti and will be produced in Italy.
Techrules is yet to reveal pricing for the Ren RS, but a figure of around ?2.2 million is expected. There’s also no new word on production numbers, but last year the company said it was planning to produce 96 examples of its 'first track model'.
The 316bhp hatch doesn’t hide its roots as a practical family car - 7th February 2018
Performance car it may be, but the Civic Type R has to provide an element of practicality if it is to live up to the ‘daily driver’ brief demanded of it by a photographer.
If I’m heading to a shoot I need space, and plenty of it, for my kit. I have to say that so far I’m impressed by what I’ve found in the Civic. There’s a surprising amount of room under that bespoilered rear hatch and it’s certainly generous by the standards of this class. Officially, the Civic has 420 litres of boot space, increasing to 786 litres if you fold down all of the 60/40 split rear seat and pile your possessions as high as the bottom of the window line.
One idea that I like very much is the retractable luggage cover, which puts me in mind of either a roller blind or a Bacofoil dispenser. I find conventional solid parcel shelves rather ungainly, not least because I’m often forced to remove them to free up additional space and have to find somewhere safe to stow them. That’s fine if you’re blessed with your own garage in which to put such a cumbersome item, but considerably less fine if you’re 20 minutes down the M1 before you remember you’ve left the flipping thing at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground.
So retractable luggage covers are the way forward, and what sets the Civic’s apart from many others is that it deploys from the side, so it doesn’t act as a barrier across the width of the car when you need more space. It’s one of those ideas that I can scarcely believe isn’t implemented more often.
On a different note, in my previous report I mentioned the squealing brakes that were drawing unwanted attention to our Civic Type R during slow-speed, around-town driving.
If the Type R online forums are any guide, it’s a fairly common issue with this latest Civic. Our car has since been back to Honda’s press garage, where the technicians skimmed the Brembo discs. That has alleviated the issue for the time being, but I’ve been warned that it is likely to return.
Indeed, the owner’s manual (believe it or not, we’ve bothered to read it) states that “to satisfy the performance under a wide range of driving conditions, a high- performance braking system is equipped on your vehicle. You may hear the brake squeal under certain conditions, such as vehicle speed, deceleration, humidity and so on. This is not a malfunction.”
So the noise is an unfortunate by-product of the car’s performance intent, then, although in my opinion that doesn’t satisfactorily explain why the Civic Type R makes it when many other performance cars do not.
Welcoming the Type R to our fleet - 31st January 2018
It’s less than two years since the previous-gen Civic Type R left our long-term fleet.
That’s precious little time in the grand scheme of a manufacturer’s model development plans, but Honda had good reason to quickly usher its latest banzai-hatch to market.
Not only was it conceived as a way to mark the 25th anniversary of the Type R sub-brand, which fell in 2017, but it was also produced in parallel with the cooking Civic. This made it easier for Honda’s go-faster wizards to instil the foundations of hot-hatch nuttiness from the outset, whereas this Type R’s forebear was developed long after the base model.
As much as this is a new car, though, the fundamental technical set-up isn’t too far removed from the FK2-generation Civic Type R that preceded it, insomuch as the power is produced by a 2.0-litre turbocharged VTEC petrol engine, which is mounted transversely and mated to a six-speed manual gearbox that drives the front axle only, using a limited- slip differential to meter the power. The engine produces slightly more power than the old car’s, at 316bhp compared with 306bhp, but torque remains the same at 295lb ft.
Beneath the surface, though, there are more significant changes aimed at refining the handling. The car is based on a new platform that enables it to be lower, wider and stiffer than its forebear, and there’s a revised suspension set-up – most notably at the rear, where the torsion beam has been replaced by a multi-link configuration – and a new adaptive damping system.
The move to a new platform has had an effect on the interior too, because the fuel tank has been moved from its position beneath the driver’s seat to a location aft of the rear seats, enabling the driver to be seated lower, more in keeping with what you’d expect from a hot hatch.
Another change that’s been made possible by the new underpinnings is a move to 20in wheels and 245-section tyres; our previous car ran on 19in wheels and 235/35 tyres. As much as those bigger, widerhoops should convey some dynamic advantages, I’m a little concerned at the effect they might have on the ride. As Autocar’s snapper-in-chief, I rack up a lot of miles per week and it’s fairly important to drive a car that’s as forgiving to cruise in as much as it is engaging when I want it to be.
And here’s where one of the most significant changes between the old and new Civic Type Rs should come into play. In this new one, you get three selectable drive modes, whereas the old one simply hadtwo choices: standard or ‘R’. The latter, engaged via a red button on the dashboard, turned all of the old car’s mechanical settings up to 11. ‘R’ mode, however, often felt too harsh and uncomfortable for the majority of British highways and byways.
Honda clearly listened to feedback from the enthusiasts who buy its performance cars – and perhaps even took a long, hard look at what its hot-hatch rivals have been doing – because this new Civic Type R has an additional ‘Comfort’ mode. It can dial down the directness of the steering feel, damping, stability assist, traction control and throttle response. At the same time, the default (or ‘Sport’, as Honda names it) and full-bore ‘R’ settings – now accessed via a rocker switch near the gearlever – have been made more extreme.
What we expect to discover over the course of the coming months is a hot hatch with a broader spread of configurability. But can it really be capable of lapping at a supercar- bothering pace yet comfortable enough to cover vast swathes of motorway without me needing to keep my osteopath’s phone number on speed dial? What’s also similar to the last Civic Type R we ran is the specification because, like our 2016 version, this new car is in ‘GT’ trim. For an additional ?2000, you get a raft of comfort and safety features of the kind you might find useful on longer trips: blind-spot warning, parking sensors, front foglights, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and dual-zone climate control.
That extra kit comes with a weight penalty that means the GT-spec Civic Type R takes one-tenth of a second longer to sprint from 0-62mph. Based on our early impressions, we’re unlikely to quibble over 5.8sec rather than 5.7sec, though – so far, it has felt mightily quick to us.
Beyond opting for the bells-and- whistles GT trim, the only cost option we’ve added is pearlescent black paint. They do say black is the new white when it comes UK motorists’ favourite car colour – although, this being a photographer’s weapon, I’m fastidious about appearances and expect to spend quite a bit of time and effort keeping the bodywork clean.
It’s certainly an eye-catching car, but so far our Type R has also been turning heads for the wrong reasons. In the slow crawl of rush-hour traffic, there’s been a rather loud squeal from the Brembo brakes that draws glares from passing pedestrians. Could it be just a new-car issue, indicative of a deeper problem or something we’ll have to accept due to the Type R’s performance intent?
We’ll keep an eye (or, rather, an ear) on it, although we intend to waste as little time as possible plodding through traffic jams and more of it exploiting this hot hatch on some of the nation’s best driving roads.
I ran the previous Civic Type R on our fleet. On a specific road on a specific day when I was in a specific mood, I revelled in its raucous lack of manners, but it was a challenge to live with day to day, so I’m encouraged by talk of this one having a wider spread of ability. MB
Specs: Price new ?32,995; Price as tested ?33,520; Options Pearlescent paint ?525; Economy 24.9mpg; Faults None; Expenses None
Hyundai N chassis guru Albert Biermann is leading development of Kia’s hottest Ceed
Kia is developing a “more agile and playful” Ceed GT that will have some characteristics of its group sibling, the Hyundai i30N, to be launched in 2019.
Speaking at the reveal of the new Ceed (pictured above and below), Kia European marketing boss Artur Martins told Autocar that the GT model will be tested by a team led by Albert Biermann, the high performance guru who headed development of the i30N. The car will be part-developed at the N?rburgring, where Kia parent company the Hyundai Motor Group has a permanent test centre.
"With Albert's involvement you will see similar handling and balance, although not at that level [of performance],” he said. “It will be more fun than the old car, but it will not be as focused as the i30N.”
Although the rest of the Ceed range shares its engines with the i30 line-up, using petrol engines of between 1.0 and 1.4 litres and a 1.6 diesel, Kia’s hottest Ceed model isn't guaranteed to use the N-division-tuned 2.0-litre petrol engine, which produces up to 271bhp in the i30N.
Group powertrain boss Michael Winkler told Autocar that while he can’t confirm what capacity the GT’s engine will be at this stage, the GT will not be “as extreme” as the i30N. This suggests it could use a detuned version of the 2.0-litre four-pot, or even feature a performance-oriented version of the Ceed's upcoming 48v mild-hybrid powertrain. As such, output is likely to remain close to 200bhp.
While that would leave it trailing in the wake of hardcore hot hatches such as the 276bhp Renault Sport M?gane RS and soon to arrive Ford Focus ST, which will have about the same output, it suggests the top Ceed will be engineered with a more forgiving personality than its harder-edged Hyundai cousin. As such, it will have its sights set on the highly talented Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Kia has remained tight-lipped as to whether the Ceed estate that's due at the Geneva motor show will get a GT model. Given its more practical focus, the brand may choose to offer it with sporty-looking GT-Line trim but leave the chassis and powertrain unchanged. The following Ceed SUV may also follow the same path; this is the route taken by its larger SUV sibling, the Sportage, which has a GT-Line variant as its top model.
The DB11 Volante chassis' torsional rigidity is 22kN/deg, down from 34kN/deg on the coupe – but substantially more than the 14.7kN/deg of the DB9 Volante
The DB11 Volante is the first convertible variant of Aston Martin's new model generation. How does it compare to the likes of the new Ferrari Portofino?
This handsome thing is the Aston Martin DB11 Volante. Aston created a new architecture for the DB11, replacing the old aluminium VH platform that underpinned everything it made with a new aluminium one, which will eventually underpin most things it will make. And it was pretty good when it landed. Really good, in fact. Still, ever since that first introduction of it, in the DB11 V12 coup?, Aston’s engineers have been tweaking and amending it – you’ll read about what they’ve done for the Vantage soon enough – and they’ve learned a thing or two along the way.Here they’ve learned how to attach a soft-top to it, rather handsomely, I’d say. The key is getting enough layers in it to insulate, but not so many that it’s heavily pronounced. They’re proud of how little space it takes up behind the rear seats, and how much room it still leaves in the boot. There’s a sliding divider in there, but with the roof up, and the divider out of the way, there’s 206 litres of boot space, 20% more than in a DB9 Volante.Other numbers? Despite stiffening in the sills, by increasing the metal’s wall thickness, 45%-more-rigid bushes in the isolated rear subframe and redesigning what they colloquially call the ‘garden gate’ – a cross-member that runs across the car ahead of the engine and locates to the cast suspension mounts – the chassis’ torsional rigidity has fallen from 34kN/deg on the coup? to 22kN/deg here.That, though, is considerably more than the 14.7kN/deg of the DB9 Volante, and anything over 20kN/deg gives engineers something fairly rigid to work with. It adds a bit to the weight of this V8-only model, mind; 110kg over the DB11 V8 coup?, leaving it the same weight as the V12 coup?. The hood operates, quietly, at up to 31mph. It adds ?15k to the coup?’s price.
The car will gain Peugeot’s i-Cockpit system, with a digital dashboard replacing traditional dials and an 8in touchscreen infotainment system taking precedent on a de-cluttered dashboard.
The headlights also look similar in shape to those of the shooting brake concept, but it’s not yet known to what extent the front of the 508 will mirror the Instinct.
Engines are expected to be shared with larger Peugeot models, so the brand’s BlueHDi engine is due in 1.6 and 2.0-litre iterations, as is a 1.6-litre THP petrol engine, with 165bhp.
A Peugeot 5008 plug-in hybrid is due at the end of the year, so it’s likely that the 508 will use the same powertrain for a range-topping electrified model. The current 508 starts at ?25,340; a small rise in price is likely for the new model.
A Citro?n saloon, returning in 2019 after the C5 was axed in 2016, will likely share underpinnings with the 508.
We pit ?100,000 worth of heavyweight off-roader against a back-to-basics alternative that costs a sixth of the price. Which wins?
Question: which car will go farther off road?
Might it be a Range Rover? The epitome of luxury SUVs, tested here in ?100,000 SVAutobiography form and powered by a mammoth V8 diesel engine, is reputedly capable of going almost anywhere in the world.
Or could it be a ?15,000 Suzuki Jimny, an old-fashioned little 4x4 powered by an even tinier engine of just 1.3 litres and making just 84bhp.
We head to an old quarry - a very, very muddy old quarry - to put the pair of them to the ultimate off-road test.
So where now is a lover of HSV’s brand of back-to-basics, rear-drive brawn to get their kicks? A spankers 2009-reg VXR8 will set you back around ?33,000 but you don’t have to spend that. For just ?6500, you could be in its forebear, a 2005-reg Monaro 5.7i V8 coupe? (also called the CV8).
Admittedly, it has done almost 145k miles but it has full service history and, at least in photos, looks tidy. Its simple, all-alloy, small-block Chevrolet engine (codenamed LS1) should still be producing close to 328bhp and a still more impressive 343lb ft. You want more? Consider the rarer and more powerful VXR version with 376bhp and 376lb ft. Assuming you can keep the back wheels under control, it does 0-62mph in 5.4sec compared with the CV8’s 6.0sec.
Both models were launched in 2004. With their six-speed manual transmissions, simple suspension and, apart from traction control, absence of driver aids, they were an antidote to more sophisticated fare such as the Mercedes CLK 55 AMG and BMW M5. Fourteen years on, this simplicity is serving them well as used motors, although sourcing body panels and major bits is becoming harder. Fortunately, Monkfish Performance and other specialists such as LSX V8 (it breaks Monaros for spares too) should be able to supply that elusive component.
In 2005, a facelifted version of the Monaro arrived with air scoops in the bonnet, a more aggressive nose and twin tailpipes. The CV8’s power rose to 344bhp and the VXR dumped the 5.7 in favour of a 6.0 V8 (codenamed LS2). It was related to the LS1 but produced 397bhp and 390lb ft and the 0-62mph sprint fell to 5.1sec.
The following year, 2006, was the Monaro’s last, and to mark the occasion, a supercharger was added to the 6.0 VXR to create the limited-edition VXR500. It packed 479bhp and 500lb ft. It might have been theMonaro’s final year but sluggish sales meant that some cars weren’t registered until 2007.
Today, many Monaros have been through the hands of enthusiasts keen to sharpen their car’s responses. So long as the work has been expertly done, you should have no worries. Things to be more concerned about are transmission noise and rust: rusty suspension, rusty pipes, rusty chassis legs and rusty panels.
Inevitably, with only around 550 Monaros remaining and very few for sale at any one time, prices are being eased up by cries of ‘rare classic!’.
Be careful, since prices for the later VXR8 6.0 saloon of 2007 start at ?15,000, about what you’ll pay for a nice Monaro. On the other hand, the Monaro is the prettier car.
How to get one in your garage:
An expert’s view - MARC WALE, FOUNDER, MW PERFORMANCE: “We’re an independent Vauxhall VXR centre, so we see Monaros in all conditions. Rarity, ageless looks and that charismatic V8 are whatthe model has going for it. The all- aluminium pushrod engine is durable, reliable and easy to maintain. Bad points are the clunky transmission, increasing scarcity of new parts and the rising price of used bits.
What rustproofing there is doesn’t protect it from our wet and salty winters, either. And, let’s be honest, the handling isn’t the most sophisticated. It can be very tail-happy, so check for accident damage. All that said, find a good one at a reasonable price, look after it and watch its value climb.”
ENGINE - Generally trouble-free. Throttle bodies on some 6.0-litre cars are known to fail. The radiator is prone to leaking on the driver’s side. Fuel pipes rust badly. Service intervals are 10,000 miles.
TRANSMISSION - Check for noises, oil leaks and sticky operation. Spigot bearings at the rear of the crank can fail (listen for whirring), damaging the gearbox’s front bearing.
The gearbox’s main output shaft seal canleak. Failure of the clutch slave cylinder requires gearbox removal to replace. Centre propshaft rubber can fail. The diff pinion seal leaks if the oil breather pipe is kinked.
STEERING, BRAKES AND SUSPENSION - The power steering pump is prone to failure on high-mileage cars and its pipes corrode badly. The steering fluid cooler is easily damaged by road debris. The steering rack can leak fluid. Poorly protected rear brake pipes rust badly. The front dampers are prone to rapid wear. Alignment issues are common so check the tyre wear.
CHASSIS AND BODY - Front chassis legs, rear suspension and the leading underside edge of the bonnet rust but floorpans and sills are generally okay. The car’s long overhangs are prone to grounding. Poor body repairs are common and some panels are impossible to source.
INTERIOR - Check the carpets are dry (door seals can fail) and ensure the seats don’t slide during braking and acceleration.
Also worth knowing:
Bought the Monaro of your dreams? Right, get your wallet out again. Here’s what you need to do to it: undersealing (around ?700), LS7 clutch upgrade (?1000), lowering springs (?500 fitted), quick rack (?450 fitted), Ripshifter to overcome that sluggish change (?285 fitted), Polybushes to sharpen the suspension (?150 fitted).
How much to spend:
?6500-?9995 - From early high-mileage (circa 150k) 5.7i CV8s with service history, to tidy, facelifted 06-reg cars with 60k miles for ?9995.
?10,000 - ?13,995 - Low-mileage 2006-reg facelifted 5.7i CV8s. Also, a 2005-reg 6.0i VXR with 55k miles for ?12,950.
?14,000-?19,995 - Best 6.0i VXRs with full history, many with gearbox and suspension mods.
?20,000+ - Supercharged VXR500, if you can find one.
One we found:
VAUXHALL MONARO 6.0i VXR, 2005/55, 55K MILES, ?12,950 - This car has a full service history and recent work includes new drop links, water pump and fuel cable, and refurbished alloy wheels. It also has a variety of intelligent mods and the seller admits he’s open to offers.
We've been speaking to independent garages of Britain
As modern cars become ever more technologically advanced, are the days of the independent garage numbered? We visit some to find out
Don’t despair! These ‘ things can be fixed more easily than you might think.’ So says the website of one garage specialising in the maintenance and repair of modern and complex but ageing cars.
Cars are a lot more durable today than they were 30 years ago – rust rarely causes a premature death – and the greater rigidity of today’s crash-test-honed bodies ensures that cars feel robust and rattle-free for far longer than a Ford Escort or Rover 800 ever did. Modern cars are also pretty reliable (although there are a few exceptions), but the thought of taking on an out-of-warranty V10 Audi RS6 or Jaguar XKR-S, an ageing Porsche or even a well-used Renault Me?gane RS can be daunting.
So we decided to talk to a few of the specialists who cater for fast, interesting and complicated models. Do they have the equipment to interrogate these cars’ computer-controlled brains? Are these models actually reliable? And can you afford to service them?
Fontain Motors is a well-established Audi specialist in Buckinghamshire that sells, services and repairs the high-performance S and RS models, although it can work on any Audi, according to service manager Sunny Bhamra. Fontain offers menu pricing for them all, including the RS6 V10, for which a major service costs a not unreasonable ?679.
Its 5.2-litre engine “is okay if maintained correctly,” says Bhamra, but beware an RS6 that has been mapped to yield 700bhp rather than the standard 552bhp, because the gearbox struggles to cope. “The newer RS6 is fairly reliable,” he adds. “We see cars with 40,000 to 60,000 miles that have had no issues.”
The more desirable RS4 is also largely trouble-free, although it needs regular use to prevent the crankcase ventilation system gathering oil, which in turn can cause carbon build-up.
A major service for the R8 V8 is ?649, while for the B7 RS4 it’s ?549. As with all Fontain servicing, it’s carried out using a web-based diagnostic system that covers all the Volkswagen Group brands. But it’s not cheap to subscribe, a Toughbook digital service PC costs ?4000 and dialing into the system costs about ?22 a day.
It means Fontain isn’t vastly cheaper than a main dealer, but it does mean it has all the latest software updates and diagnostic tools, while offering what Bhamra says is a friendlier, more personal service.
Gary Woollatt has been running his one-man-band Autobahn Services for 25 years, and he worked at BMW garages for 14 years before that. The result is a huge knowledge of BMWs and a reputation that prompts some owners to bring their cars to him even if they’re still under warranty.
“All cars are going the same way with electronics,” Woollatt says. “A lot of them go to the dealer repeatedly with small issues.” Woollatt solves these with a methodical A-Z approach rather than jumping to conclusions. He’s a subscriber to the BMW diagnostic system and notes that “it’s not always the same cars having the same problems”.
He admits there’s now less of a price difference between a specialist and a main dealer because the parts discount is less. “It used to be 35-40% 15 years ago, now it’s 10%.” But what you get with Woollatt is the application of 39 years’ worth of experience applied directly to your car, and a more personal service.
“These days I prefer restoration,” he says, an original Alpina six-pot M3-bodied E30 on the ramp. “People can see something for their money compared with spending ?3000- 4000 on an M5 V10 with problems.”
Kevin Brackley is Jaguar specialist Chiltern of Bovingdon’s aftersales director. Chiltern has sold, serviced and repaired used Jags for years, and Brackley has acquired a vast knowledge.
“From around 2006, it’s very difficult to use second-hand electrical parts on Jaguars because they are particular to the car,” he says. “When you programme a new module into the car it will lock to the VIN number.”
That eliminates the possibility of using a second-hand part (although there are some people who can wipe the memory). The car’s mileage is also stored in every part, and a generalist garage he knows of used a second-hand module “causing 40,000 miles to be instantly added to the car’s odometer”. For these reasons Chiltern only uses new parts, and its technicians attend official training courses.
It has been doing this since the new Block Exemption Regulation ended the manufacturer and franchised dealer monopoly of specialist diagnostic equipment. “There’s little you can do without the equipment,” says Brackley. So, like the other specialists featured here, Chiltern subscribes to a manufacturer technical website. Jaguar’s costs around ?1500. “You pay around ?500 annually for updates,” says Brackley. “A lot of things are cured now by programming.” An example is the poor shift quality between first and second gears on the 2004 XK, which was sorted with new software.
And your specialist subject is...
For almost every car with a following, there will some kind of specialist, be it one man and a car lift or a well-staffed multi-bay garage — and they’re not limited to high-end machines. Dorset-based KTR started as a tuning company but now sells, services and repairs Renault Sport models, claiming to be the UK’s leading specialist. It has diagnostic equipment, factory-trained technicians and a rolling road. It also sells used RS cars.
RS Me?ganes are good for big mileages, although sometimes with minor issues. One is knocking or creaking front suspension, which Derby’s Aaron Autos can rebuild for ?175 per side inclusive, comparedwith more than ?1000 for a Renault dealer’s hub unit change.
Smart lovers, meanwhile, can head to Watford-based S2 Smarts, which has the latest diagnostic capability, years of experience and menu pricing — a service starts at ?99 — and provides free clutch adjustment for the Fortwo and Roadster. Smarts are notorious for water leaks, so S2 will do a check for ?25 (there are well- known pathways to your footwells), plus realignment of cabriolet roofs for ?30 and door handle replacement (a weakness) for ?55.
S2 also offers power-boosting remaps from as little as ?150. Their most expensive remap takes the Smart Roadster to 113bhp for ?245.
A useful thing to know about Porsches, says Robert Pickering, is that they can be electronically interrogated to reveal not only their mileage, but also whether they have been over-revved (crucial, not least because it affects their resale value) and what history of operating errors there has been. Pickering is showing us the way to the workshops of JZM Porsche, a specialist that retails some of the most desirable used models out there – 911 GT3s are a staple – as well as running a workshop with decades of collective Porsche experience.
JZM claims to be the only non-franchised garage in the UK equipped with the Porsche Integrated Workshop Information System, plus it has all the previous generations of official Porsche diagnostic tool and it’s also linked directly to the factory via an external network, enabling it to perform the latest reprogramming updates.
Senior technician Andy David has worked at JZM for 15 years and specialises in rebuilding engines, from regular flat sixes to RSR motors and even, quite recently, a 1968 2.2. “It takes about 40 or 50 hours to overhaul an engine,” he says. “I do one every two weeks, and have three or four on the go.”
David has worked on Porsches long enough to know what robust, high-quality machines the pre-996 911s were, to see the quality dip with the 1998-2004 models and climb again with the 997 and 991.
Of the infamous 996 intermediate shaft (IMS) bearing failures, his colleague Ricky Nash reckons “most have either gone or been repaired”. And there’s now a solution to the problem anyway. Cylinder bore scuffing is still a problem with 997s, but there are no problems with the latest engines. “Although it’s early days,” adds Nash.
Worth the risk?
??AUDI RS4 B7 2006-08 - Reliable but needs regular use to prevent the crankcase vent system gathering oil and coking up the heads. Quattro system and transmission are tough; DRC dampers are a weakness.
BMW M5 V10 2005-10 - Sadly one to avoid unless you’re willing to gamble. “If the engine blows you can’t really rebuild them,” says Gary Woollatt. “Great cars but can be troublesome.”
JAGUAR XK 2006-14 - The aluminium-bodied XK can suffer from a bit of blistering under the paint but no holes in the body. “Good, reliable cars,” says Chiltern’s Kevin Brackley.
PORSCHE 911 1994-98 - JZM technician Andy David reckons that, overall, the 993 911s are very strong and well- engineered. Valve guides are a common issue, though.
RENAULT MEGANE RS 2008-16 - Vastly more durable than Renaults of the late 1990. The creaky suspension issue is a good example of specialists making repairs more affordable.
If you feel the need to lug stuff about at speed, is a bit of driver involvement too much to ask? We round up four very potent estates to find out
The explosive Audi RS2, all 311bhp of it, is often reckoned to be the world’s first high-performance estate.
Certainly it was the first car to combine the practicality of a bigger- booted wagon body with the straight- line speed of a supercar. Thanks to its quattro four-wheel-drive system and punchy turbocharged engine, it was actually faster to 30mph than the mighty McLaren F1, as discovered by this magazine’s road testers in the mid-1990s – but the first rapid estate car it was not. BMW’s E34 M5 Touring had arrived two years before it, in 1992, albeit in left-hand- drive markets only.
Another two years before that, Subaru had endowed an estate car with more power than was strictly necessary by offering the Legacy with as much as 197bhp in its home market of Japan.
Whether it was Audi, BMW or Subaru that invented the fast estate is a matter for debate, then. But which manufacturer builds the best high- performance wagons in 2018? That we can answer for certain.
As the leading proponents of the breed it’s a face-off between Audi Sport and Mercedes-AMG. First, we’ll pitch Neckarsulm’s brand new RS4 against Affalterbach’s C63 S, before lining the RS6 up against the E63 S.
Only then will one of these German companies be crowned king of the crushingly fast estate car.
RS4 vs C63 S:
There is something about this RS4’s Misano Red paint, in direct sun at least, that does it a disservice. It seems to flatten the topography of the bodywork, those squared-off box arches getting lost in the car’s flanks. The visual muscle seen in photographs seems to have atrophied to nothing. In fact, looking at it in situ, it’s hard to be certain this is the range-topping RS model, but for that modest badge in the grille. The Mercedes-AMG C63 S that’s sitting alongside the RS4 looks pumped- up and purposeful by comparison, despite its demure (and confusingly named) Brilliant Blue paint.
But it must be a trick of the light, or that colour. In Daytona Grey or Navarra Blue the RS4 looks as tough and muscle bound as any mid-size estate has ever done. The hue of the bodywork isn’t the only thing that’s a little baffling about the RS4, though. As we’ll see, Audi’s latest high-speed load carrier is just one of those cars that leaves you feeling... unconvinced.
Beneath its bonnet the RS4 has come full circle. Between 2006 and 2015 the Mk2 and Mk3 RS4 were propelled by high-revving, normally aspirated V8s, the kind of engine that made you prod the throttle pedal not only for the surge in acceleration but also for the serrated edge to the power delivery and the dramatic, soaring soundtrack. This fourth-gen RS4 junks the 4.2-litre V8 in favour of a twin-turbo V6 – the sameconfiguration of motor that powered the first RS4 back in 1999.
Giving up a pair of cylinders and more than a litre of displacement to the AMG C63 S – which, admittedly, is almost ?8000 more expensive than the Audi – puts the RS4 at a disadvantage. The Merc’s 4.0-litretwin-turbo V8 is comfortably more potent than the Audi’s V6 – in fact, with 503bhp to 444bhp it’s not even close – and it feels it. Whereas the RS4 is simply very quick, the C63 S has the sort of unrelenting, runaway-train straight-line performance that makes your passengers panic. Sure, the four-wheel-drive RS4 is quicker off the line, but everywhere else the Mercedes emphatically hauls itself off into the distance. More important than its sheer performance advantage, however, is the manner with which the AMG delivers its power.
It’s a lunatic, walloping along on a tidal wave of torque, quad exhaust tips spewing forth a torrent of fire and fury, traction control fighting desperately to keep the two driven wheels from roasting the rubber wrapped around them. You put your foot down, hold on tight and – crucially – laugh like an idiot.
The RS4? Its engine is perhaps a little more responsive but it offers nothing like the thump to your back. The soundtrack is strained and bland even though this test car, like its counterpart, is fitted with the optional sports exhaust. That’s aside from an odd, occasional whining noise under full load, as though there’s a supercharger up front rather than a pair of turbos. The V6 spins quickly to the limiter, but with all four contact patches sharing a much-reduced load, the Audi simply punts along without a hint of a drama. Effective, then, but entirely forgettable. The RS4 wouldn’t make you laugh if it had just spent a week parked in Billy Connolly’s garage.
And yet in some important ways this RS4 is the best of the dynasty. It has balance for one thing, thanks to the new V6 weighing some 31kg less than the old V8 and sitting further back in the chassis. This RS4 doesn’t chase its nose like RS4s of old, and if you over-commit to a corner you’ll just as likely feel the rear end come round as sense the front pushing on. That is a deeply unusual – but brilliant – thing to feel in an Audi estate car. It means the car is less frustrating at the limit than its forebears. Out of a corner it feels positive and agile, too, the RS sport differential diverting drive to the outside rear corner to great effect.
The second huge step forward from old RS4 to new is the ride quality. Rolling on RS sport suspension (a ?2000 option), the latest model has a plushness to it over rough roads whereas the previous model was tight and unyielding.
But despite those very commendable steps forward, it is the C63 S that is the more involving and rewarding performance car. It steers more faithfully, it’s more playful and agile and it’s better balanced still. The ways in which its body moves and rolls in corners makes it easier to read and manipulate at the limit, too, and if you switch the stability systems off it can play the hooligan in the finest AMG tradition. The Mercedes is simply a lot more fun.
Does a performance estate really need to be fun to drive, or is fast and competent good enough? Perhaps it is, in which case the new RS4 is a very fine car indeed. But if you happen to think that a ?60,000-plus performance car should be in some way engaging to drive regardless of its body type, as we happen to, then the Mercedes-AMG is the clear victor.
RS6 vs E63 S:
There are two ways in which the Audi RS6 Performance is a better fast estate than the Mercedes-AMG E63 S. The first is that it looks a whole lot tougher, its steroidal arches, low-slung ride height and menacing smoked headlights making the AMG look fussy and generic. To these eyes, at least, the RS6 Performance might just be the best-looking estate yet.
The other ace it holds over the E63 S is its fluid, pliant ride quality. Both cars here sit on air suspension, but whereas the AMG always feels somewhat jittery – jarring, in fact, over very rough surfaces – the Audi is always comfortable and composed.
The way a car looks and the way it rides are certainly two of the biggies, but the reality is that in every other meaningful assessment the E63 is the better car by an order of magnitude. Until the AMG arrived, the RS6 was at the top of its game, but when the E63 appeared late last year, the game changed entirely.
Its steering, for one thing, is ultra crisp and precise, while the Audi’s is gloopy, vague and inconsistent. The Mercedes has a much more neutral handling balance, too, with the sort of resilient front end that you can really lean on – almost as though it belongs to a much smaller, far lighter car. The RS6 pushes on where the E63 S holds on.
It’s a similar story on the way out of bends. The Mercedes shuffles its power fore and aft to slingshot itself along the next straight like some kind of Nissan GT-R hearse. You can quite easily persuade the E63 to squirrel its way out of a corner in a faint powerslide, in fact, which is a type of behaviour no four-wheel-drive estate has ever had the chops to exhibit. Time and again, the AMG does things it really shouldn’t be able to.
The RS6 Performance can also divert torque here and there with its rear axle’s sport diff, but it never feels as freakishly agile or as malleable as the E63. Both are fantastically quick in a straight line and both have distinctly V8 soundtracks, but the E63’s engine is angrier and harder- edged. Both motors are grizzly bears, but the Audi’s has had its teeth and claws filed down. And as if all of that wasn’t enough, the Mercedes has far and away the better cabin. It feels the best part of a decade newer, which, of course, it is, the A6 this RS6 is based on having been launched right back in 2010. The new A6 is right around the corner; the next RS6 only a couple of years behind it.
In the end, then, it’s another comprehensive victory for AMG: two wins in as many contests. And yet, offer me six months in either the E63 S or the RS6 and I’d take the Audi. Well, looks are important, aren’t they?
The appeal of a fast estate:
Why do hot estates hold such appeal? Many of us reserve a space in our five-car dream garage for one, often in place of the saloon alternative. The broad range of ability is part of the draw: family bus or Ikea wagon one minute, 911 Turbo chaser the next.
But there’s the incongruity, too. An otherwise utilitarian car with 600bhp is brilliantly absurd. And while, say, super-SUVs are more incongruous still, fast estates manage to do it without being hopelessly daft.
Best used AMG Estates:
MERCEDES C43 AMG 1997-2000:
The C43, now 21 years old, is the cheapest way into a Mercedes- AMG estate car today, but with more than 300bhp it needn’t be considered the poor man’s choice. Price to pay: ?8000
MERCEDES E63 AMG 2010-2011:
In 2012 the E63 switched to a downsized 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8, but for a couple of glorious years from 2010 it used the same 6.2-litre lump as the SL63 AMG. Price to pay: ?23,000
MERCEDES C63 AMG 507 2013-2015:
A run-out special edition and Mercedes’ own farewell to its wonderful (but increasingly anachronistic) 6.2-litre normally aspirated V8, the 507 was the previous-generation C63 at its very finest. Price to pay: ?45,000
Best used Audi RS Estates:
AUDI RS2 - 1994-1995:
Co-developed with Porsche, the RS2 used a 311bhp five-pot motor and could launch itself to 62mph from rest in just 4.8sec. Price to pay: ?40,000
AUDI RS4 - 2006-2008:
The second-gen RS4’s centrepiece was its high-revving, naturally aspirated 4.2-litre V8. With 414bhp it was quick and the power delivery and soundtrack were to die for. Price to pay: ?15,000
AUDI RS6 - 2008-2010:
The ‘C6’ RS6 accelerated Germany’s horsepower war faster than any other car to date. Its Lambo-derived V10, with added turbos, made a monstrous 571bhp. Price to pay: ?22,000
The latest figures are in and they offer a fascinating insight for what's to come, as we reveal
In a world characterised by political uncertainties, the automotive industry provides one global constant – the onward march of China’s new car market.
China overtook the US as the world’s biggest car market in 2010 and last year consolidated that position with 25.7 million cars sold – that’s eight million more than the US. Chinese car buyers are flocking to SUVs and city cars, especially local market electric vehicles; while, at the other end of the affordability scale, demand for luxury models rocketed.
For China, however, last year was actually a modest one, with growth of just 2% compared with 2016, but the contrast with the US was stark. A total of 17.2 million units were sold in the US, 300,000 fewer than in 2016. This was the first time sales have tailed off there since the 2008 recession.
The damage to the US market was wrought in the summer when SUV and pick-up sales dipped.
All of the data featured below comes from automotive industry analyst JATO Dynamics. Most of the figures are actual year-end sales, but in some cases include December forecasts. This is because the final month’s official figures in some markets can take a while to filter through.
Luxury cars boom, sports cars decline:
Demand in China made the luxury car market the biggest-growing segment in the world last year. Cadillac and Lincoln were the major winners, alongside Porsche.
Car enthusiasts won’t be so pleased to see the sports car market take such a hit, but declining demand for the Chevrolet Corvette and Ford Mustang hit the segment hard.
People carriers and vans continued their respective slides in popularity, with a decline of up to 10% globally for MPVs being more than offset by the growth of SUVs, which swelled by nearly 12%.
About 27.6 million SUVs were sold in 2017, making up a quarter of all global sales.
The top ten nations: winners and losers in 2017:
We have already discussed China’s onward march as the biggest car market. In contrast, the UK went into retreat in 2017 with the biggest percentage drop of any global market, down 5.4% to 2,902,754 sales as a result of economic uncertainties and new motoring taxes.
The decline at least wasn’t sufficient to push the UK behind France, where 2,539,826 cars were sold, but a drop of 166,000 units repeated in 2018 alongside a rising French market would put the UK’s position under threat.
EV sales are up, but market share is tiny:
Much has been written about global electric vehicle sales accounting for 1% of the total global market in 2017, a significant indication of the growing acceptance of battery-powered vehicles. But JATO’s numbers suggest this isn’t quite the case.
“The final figures are still not confirmed,” says JATO global auto analyst Felipe Munoz, “but preliminary data shows 581,000 EV cars were sold – that’s about 0.8% of the global market.”
So close, but no cigar, to reaching the 1% considered the ‘tipping point’ for a technology to become permanent.
In its run-out year, the Nissan’s Leaf Mk1 lost its number-one crown the cheaper BAIC EC, a little-known Chinese EV with a 20kW battery and price tag starting at ?17,000. That the executive-priced Model S also outsold the Leaf is a testament to the power of Tesla’s appeal.
China’s ZD Zhidou was fourth, outselling the Renault Zoe and Tesla Model X.
?SUVs on the march to world domination:
“Yes, they are taking over the world, everywhere,” says Munoz. “It is a long-term trend that is now also impacting India, Brazil and south-east Asia.”?
Every SUV market segment is growing, with the biggest expansion coming from mid-size and large SUVs. In China, a number of 5+2 and full seven-seat SUVs were launched last year.
Which countries are buying the most electric vehicles?
With 332,994 EVs sold, China was the number-one market last year, well ahead of the US and Europe. “Demand also doubled in 2017 in China,” says Munoz, “while US interest was 14% lower.”
Supercars still make a bang:
The gold standard for loud and expensive fast cars remains the Porsche 911 with 30,700 examples sold last year, an increase of 4% compared with 2016. In fact, the 911 dominates its segment like no other model – the second best- seller is the Mercedes-Benz SL with 5800 units (down 14%).
Ferrari and Aston Martin enjoyed year-on-year sales growth of 10.1% and 58.1% respectively. Lexus made a remarkable jump up the charts. The LC (5700 sales) grabbed third spot from the Mercedes-AMG GT (5100 sales).
Total global volume was 75,400 units, a year-on-year rise of 5.3% – highly respectable given that this is a segment of cars with starting prices around ?80,000.
The demise of the three-box saloon:
The rise of SUVs has historically meant a corresponding slide in conventional saloons. And although isolating sales of four-door saloons from those of hatchback and estate body styles is not easy, JATO’s figures suggest that trend continued globally, with the exception of China.
Three of the four main saloon/hatchback/estate segments in China actually expanded last year: mid-size (10% year-on-year growth), executive (14%) and luxury (109%). Only the compact segment decreased (-5%).
The opposite is true in America, where all four segments posted declines, and Europe, where both mainstream and premium compact and mid-size segments fell.
Luxury is buoyant – all thanks to China:
Mercedes-Benz S-Class - 72,613 sales - The great secret success story of global luxury car sales is Cadillac. Invisible in Europe, the storied US brand has three models in the global luxury top ten best- sellers list.
The explanation, according to JATO Dynamics, is the rapid growth in the number of billionaires in China.
Cadillac XTS - 60,980 sales - Mercedes’ mighty S-Class takes top spot, as always, but its lead over the Cadillac XTS narrowed last year.
When Lincoln is included, there are two American brands in the top five. Where are Rolls-Royce and Bentley? Of course, it’s all down to price and volume.
BMW 7 Series - 55,990 - More food for thought: there’s a case for including the Range Rover in this list – it would feature in the top three if it did. Also consider Jaguar, as it readies a new XJ saloon, which is expected to be pure electric. It would need to find 25,000-plus units to enter the top five.
Europe recovers: Germany top, UK falls:
Growing sales in Italy, Spain, Poland, France and, to some extent, Germany and France put Europe’s new car market back on track. Germany was top, with 3,432,928 cars sold. SUVs became the biggest-selling segment in 23 of 29 Western European markets, according to JATO, largely at the expense of MPVs, which lost 11% of market share.
“Most of Europe is enjoying economic stability, which improves consumer confidence,” says Munoz. Even sales in Greece, where the economy was wrecked by the debt crisis, improved by 15%.
But there are some warning signs for 2018: Italian sales last year are suspected of being boosted by self-registrations.
5 global market trends that shrank in 2017:
This might sound like a nightmare football World Cup result, but not often does the UK new car market come unstuck to minnows such as Mexico and Puerto Rico. Due to the sales slide at home, the UK ended 2017 as the market with the third-biggest year- on-year percentage decline. The bow wave of Brexit and poor euro-sterling exchange rates hit Ireland even more acutely, with buyers choosing used imported cars over new ones. The US also suffered, with a 1.9% decline.
The death of a home-grown car industry:
Last year the sole remaining local production plant in Australia was closed. What went wrong? “Demand for Australian-built vehicles has been in a continuous decline since 2006,” says Munoz.
He lists three main reasons. First, plants pumped out saloons and pick-ups that catered specifically to the local market and couldn’t be exported.
Second, the industry didn’t switch to SUV production to match changing tastes. Just one local SUV, the Ford Territory, ever went into production, despite SUVs accounting to 45% of the Australian market.
Third, Munoz says poorly drawn free-trade agreements excluded the automotive sector – resulting, for example, in Thailand becoming a regional hub for pick-up exports.
Sports cars: demand in some areas dwindling:
Highlights of the sports car segment were continuing strong sales of Mazda’s fine-handling MX-5 (nearly 40,000 units), while Porsche’s 718 family was also on the up.
The top-of-the-line 6 Series Gran Turismo has arrived in the UK, but does a more potent engine increase its unusual appeal?
This is the biggest-hitting variation of BMW’s ungainly 6 Series Gran Turimso. As such, it's an intriguing proposition, even if it is unlikely to rack up vast sales figures here in Europe, back-seat loving China being the main target market for a class of car that also includes the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Audi A7 Sportback.We’ve covered the 6 Series GT in considerable depth before – not least by way of a full road test – but this is our first experience of the 640i on home soil. Because the chances of a M-division Gran Turismo are slim to non-existent, it's this model that tops the line-up, with a 335bhp twin-turbo straight-six petrol engine nesteld longitudinally under the bonnet.Beneath it in the range sits a limited selection of powerplants. And don’t be fooled by BMW’s model taxonomy – the 630i that serves as an entry point is now a four-cylinder petrol turbocharged to develop 255bhp (not a six-cylinder, as the '3' would historically have suggested). The solitary diesel option comes in the form of a turbocharged straight-six tuned to 261bhp and 457lb ft of torque. While the 640i also comes exclusively with BMW's full-time four-wheel-drive system – xDrive – you've got options with the suspension setup. As standard, the Grant Turismo is fitted with self-levelling air suspension at the rear axle. Adaptive suspension costs ?1670 and adds air suspension to the front axle; for your money the dampers will also now be adaptive, meaning the ride height can be dropped 10mm in Sport mode.For ?3340, the Executive Package includes all of the above and adds active roll bars and four-wheel steering, with the respective aims of improving body control and increasing agility.
Where you should - and shouldn't - save money – 14 February 2018
Speccing a modern car is baffling, and the TT RS is no different. I reckon there’s a chunk that could be saved from our car’s ?61,080 astested price. Keeping the standard wheels knocks off ?1300, while ditching electric seats and forgoing the OLED rear lights saves another ?1600. But the sports exhaust, at ?1000, is money very well spent.
The squeaky anchor rumours are true – 31 January 2018
You might have heard that the TT RS’s brakes squeal. The observation was made recently in a high-profile corner of the internet, although I am inclined to agree. It doesn’t happen all the time and, if you are playing Sister Morphine loud enough, you won’t hear it anyway. But it is there occasionally, distant and irksome. And that’s unarguably too often.
Some of this fumbling was inevitable, of course: like any other expensive German car, the RS is only slightly less adjustable than a Tempur mattress.
Long gone are the days when getting the seat and steering wheel in the right place was the bulk of the job. I spend about a million times longer simply concerning myself with whether I want the seat to default to either the first or second of its three heat settings. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I suspect the omnipresence of such controllers is the reason why Ingolstadt has retained one because it is almost redundant on the TT, the steering wheel-mounted buttons offering all the functionality you really need.
The upshot is that you very rarely find your eyeballs moving further south than the middle of the steering wheel, which is plainly to the benefit of your general road awareness.
It does, however, mean that (if you’re me) you rather obsess about what’s on the screen in front of you. Audi will let you choose between two basic displays: one that relegates the rev counter and speedometer in favour of the infotainment system and one that puts an oversized rev counter front and centre and sidelines any other media to the left-hand portion of the screen. The latter seems the more natural choice for the RS, but selecting it means putting up with two dials that incessantly chart the engine’s power and torque output as a roving percentage.
As ever, this is the kind of readout that makes interesting viewing for about a nanosecond, and thereafter serves only as a distraction. And unlike the left side, which allows you to scroll through the available options, the right is as immutable as a Teletext page.
The only solution is to have a destination constantly running on the sat-nav, which replaces both meters with on-screen directions – but when the destination is mostly my folks’ house on Christmas Day, this is far too tedious.
So instead I’ve spent the last few weeks staring at a real-time graph of what my right foot is doing.
On top of all this, there’s the inevitable tinkering with the car’s drive modes to be indulged.
The same reasoning rather takes the edge off the all-guns-blazing Dynamic mode, leading to an ongoing fuss over which bits best fit Individual for when you’re in the mood.
Right now, I’ve opted for Auto for the engine and gearbox (taking for granted that the powertrain recognises what sliding the latter into paddle-shifting manual means), kept the suspension in Comfort and gone with Dynamic for the steering, quattro system and sound.
As far as the steering is concerned, this was unexpected; Neckarsulm tending to over-egg the resistance when asked to try harder.
Not here, though: the mode only being slightly stickier than Comfort and therefore a marginally superior foil for the more stringent diff setting. Or at least that’s what I think at the moment.
Welcoming the TT RS Coup? to our fleet – 03 January 2018
Many moons ago, Steve Sutcliffe – our one-time editor-at-large – ran a TT RS.
Nevertheless, my early encounters with the model – on the international launch, in fact – have followed a familiar pattern: my respect for and appreciation of its extraordinary straight-line gusto are slowly superseded by indifference for what it does when not heading very quickly for the horizon’s vanishing point.
Consequently, the most pressing question was not whether I’d like the car in six months, but whether I’d be sick of it within six minutes.
I needn’t have worried. If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s Ingolstadt’s gift for shrouding you in a haze of expensively wrought contentment.
I didn’t spec our car – we let Audi UK’s experts do that for us – but I can’t imagine needing anything more from the cabin: the heated ‘Super Sport’ seats are clad in leather and are excellent and there isn’t a surface or switch in the RS that doesn’t groan with perceived quality.
The kit list is decent without being precisely generous, the standout feature being the standard inclusion of both MMI Navigation Plus and Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system, which means there’s no centre console screen to become distracted by at all.
Our benefactors have thrown in the smartphone interface (?250) and the wireless charger (?325), worthy additions but slightly wasted on someone who doesn’t like Apple CarPlay and (as a lowly iPhone SE user) can’t charge his device remotely.
Given the choice, I would likely have opted for the Comfort and Sound Package (?1295), which delivers the rear-view camera, the Bang & Olufsen sound system and keyless entry.
Naturally, Audi has selected the largest possible alloy wheels: 20in seven-spoke rotor design in matt titanium-look diamond-cut finish, to be exact. I’d have been no slower in shedding the stock (and suspiciously uninspiring) 19in rims, but only the bravest soul would regard the lack of tyre profile on the (?1695) replacement and not ponder the subsequent effect on ride quality.
I suspect this concern ranks higher for me with each passing year.
Once, the prospect of an unyielding and pimply chassis was about as consequential as the saturated fat content of my breakfast cereal. But times change. I don’t eat cereal at all any more (it contains too much sugar) and I don’t like to have my spine compressed by anything other than a qualified medical professional.
Consequently, the solitary spec-based question I asked of Audi before taking delivery of the car was: “Does it have Magnetic Ride?”. This is the ?995 tick that buys you adaptive dampers and, more important, access to a Comfort setting on the Drive Select system. This is desirable on any Audi, and all but essential on RS models, which are typically set up to jostle the wiring from a pacemaker.
Happily, this was also deemed the first thing on Audi UK’s list – along with the RS sport exhaust system (?1000) and matrix LED lights front (?945) and back (?800). It is the dampers, though, that have ensured my first week or so with the TT has been thoroughly agreeable.
Sure, it has been almost exclusively motorway miles thus far – but not testing your sanity between home and work is the bedrock upon which all long-term test cars stand or fall. And although those wheels make it fantastically noisy on the concrete section of M25 in Surrey, the ride is on the acceptably firm side of pliant.
Throw in the patently ferocious mid-range shove of a five-cylinder engine that makes overtaking an emphatic affair even allowing for the faint out-of-box tightness that comes from having covered less than 300 miles, and it’s fair to say that – thus far – it’s rather hard to fault the RS in any meaningful terms. That will come later. Surely.
A tough ask, one short blasts have yet to convince me of, but nothing a long-term test can’t answer once and for all.
Audi TT RS Coup? 2.5 TFSI quattro specification
Specs:Price New ?52,450; Price as tested ?61,080; Options 20in ‘7-spoke rotor’ alloy wheels in matt titanium-look diamond-cut finish (?1695), front RS logo red brake calipers (?325), RS Red Design Pack (?895), Matrix LED headlights and dynamic front and rear indicators (?945), Audi Smartphone Interface (?250), RS sport exhaust system (?1000), RS sport suspension with Audi Magnetic Ride (?995), Electrically adjustable front seats (?800), Matrix OLED tail-lights (?800), Audi Phone Box with wireless charging (?325), Catalunya red metallic paint (?550)
Test Data: Engine 5cyls, 2480cc, turbocharged petrol; Power 394bhp at 5850-7000rpm; Torque 354lb ft at 1700-5850rpm; Top speed 155mph; 0-62mph 3.7sec; Claimed fuel economy 33.6mpg; Test fuel economy 26.4mpg; CO2 192g/km; Faults None; Expenses None
The new Range Rover Velar P300 features a four-cylinder petrol engine
JLR’s most powerful four-pot isn’t the engine the Velar truly wants but perhaps the one that makes most sense
You may have heard it’s possible to spend rather a lot of money on a Range Rover Velar – the model that slots into the marque's range between the Evoque and the Sport.If you haven’t, here’s a reminder: the top-spec P380 costs more than ?70,000, which is enough to put a well-equipped Range Rover Sport SDV6 – more refined, more capable but, we’ll admit, not as chic – on your drive with change for 30,000 miles’ worth of diesel.It’s enough to have you panning down the price list wondering which would be the least compelling engine you can get away with. And, frankly, there’s nothing to stop you from saving ?25,000 and choosing the entry-level D180. Nothing, that is, except the fact that the overall appeal of the motorshow-concept-made-real Velar is unusually susceptible to what lurks beneath its long aluminium bonnet.Its aura of luxurious, long-legged athleticism – conjured by a formidably attractive design both inside and within – demands performance of a certain level and nature, and it should ideally be served with as little fanfare as possible. It’s why we’d steer clear of lesser diesel variants if possible and couldn’t bring ourselves to love even the moderately powerful D240 engine on its full road test.In short, the Velar has so far needed six cylinders to make a genuinely convincing case for itself and stand out in the competitive luxury SUV category. But that could change with the introduction of the four-cylinder petrol-engined P300 tested here.
Implementing Renault’s ‘Drive the future’ mid-term plan will be Ghosn’s main focus, with that plan ending in the same year as Ghosn’s extended tenure comes to a close. His job title continues as chairman and chief executive officer of Renault as well as the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.
The Renault brand had a bumper 2017. Registrations increased by 8.5% over 2016 to 3.76 million vehicles. Across Groupe Renault, revenues reached ˆ58.8 billion (?52bn), with an operating income of ˆ3.8bn (?3.4bn) – up 15.9%, or ˆ523m (?464 million), over 2016.
Renault was the second-best-selling brand in Europe last year, growing 4% to deliver 1.1 million cars – that's almost 100,000 more than Ford, but 550,000 behind Volkswagen. With 30,000 Zoes sold, however, Renault was the top brand in Europe for electric vehicles last year.
Brexit found its way into Groupe Renault’s financial announcement - the devaluation of the pound, as well as the Argentine peso and US dollar, collectively cost the company around ?266 million across 2017. The French government recently announced that it will reduce its stake in Renault to 15%.
Wholesale reinvention of Audi’s supermini will take on Mini with high-tech cabin
The new second-generation Audi A1 has been captured on video during testing before it arrives on roads later this year.
Audi's entry-level model will be more dynamic and more comfortable than its predecessor, according to insiders at the company’s Ingolstadt headquarters in Germany. The aim, they say, is to eclipse the latest Mini for overall competence.
Audi plans to achieve this by using a new platform structure, a heavily reworked suspension system that features optional adaptive damping control, a new range of engines and updated gearboxes.
The new A1 is due to be launched during the first half of 2018 and arrive on UK roads before the year's close with a starting price expected to remain close ?to the ?15,560 of today’s model.
The entry-level Audi has grown in size and receives a brand-new look to make it feel more upmarket and dovetail more seamlessly with the rest of the brand’s line-up.
Among the styling changes seen on prototype versions are a wider grille and a flatter bonnet with three distinctive vents as a nod to earlier Audi competition cars.
A big change for Ingolstadt’s supermini is the end of? the three-door bodystyle. The second-generation model, to be produced by Audi’s fellow Volkswagen Group brand Seat at its plant in Martorell, Spain, will come in five-door Sportback form only.
The move is part of a consolidation of Audi models intended to make savings that will be channelled into the development of electric cars.
The starting point for the new A1 is a new platform. The old PQ25 structure, dating back to 2001, has been replaced ?by a more contemporary? MQB AO architecture, which incorporates engineering solutions already used by the A3 for greater amortisation of production costs.
The new platform employs a combination of aluminium and hot-formed steel within the floorpan. Its adoption ?for the new A1 provides the scope for an increase in external dimensions, with the wheelbase alone up by 94mm to 2564mm.
Ingolstadt officials confirm that the new A1 has grown slightly, reflecting the shift of the latest Polo, with which the A1 shares a significant part ?of its mechanical package.? The new structure is also claimed to bring a considerable increase in torsional stiffness — a development that is said to lead to a noteworthy improvement in overall refinement.
“There is a maturity to the new model. The differences are instantly recognisable when you drive it,” said a source involved in recent durability testing of the new A1.
The increase in external dimensions has extended the A1’s length to more than 4000mm and its width beyond the 1740mm of today’s model. As a result, the new A1 is claimed to offer more interior space and luggage-carrying capacity than its predecessor. Much of the added space is dedicated to the rear, which is said to offer greater leg, head and shoulder room.
Inside, there is a new dashboard modelled along the lines of that already seen in the larger A3.
Considerable efforts are being made to ensure that the new model attracts younger car buyers through what Audi describes as class-leading infotainment and connectivity features.
These include the optional Virtual Cockpit digital display and embedded 4G LTE in combination with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay or MirrorLink. Driving assistance functions include Front Assist, City Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Monitoring systems, as well as a tyre pressure monitoring feature and a speed limiter.
The engine line-up for the new A1 largely mirrors the new Polo’s. On the petrol side, a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder TFSI engine delivering up to 113bhp will remain the entry engine.
Further up the line-up, a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 148bhp slots in as a successor to the old turbo 1.4-litre four-cylinder motor.
Topping the initial range will be the S1, although it isn’t expected to go on sale in the UK until the third quarter of 2018. It eschews the engine of today’s model for a newer turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine kicking out up to 250bhp.
The new A1 was originally planned to be launched? with a carried-over turbo 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel engine with up to 95bhp in combination with a standard selective catalytic reduction filter as standard. However, Audi bosses are said to be reconsidering this in light of the significant drop in sales of diesel-engined small cars.
However, the A1 will receive a natural gas option, in combination with a specially adapted version of the turbo 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. It won’t be sold in the UK.
Alongside a standard six-speed manual gearbox, buyers will also be able to choose an optional seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic transmission with an automatic shift function.
Whereas the first-generation A1 had four-wheel drive on only the range-topping S1, the new A1 will offer a Haldex-style electro-hydraulic multi-plate-clutch quattro system with a wider range of engines.?
Lane rental schemes, which have been trialled in Kent and London, will be rolled out across the country, giving local governments the power to charge companies for digging up roads, in an effort to cut congestion.
The scheme encourages collaboration between companies to reduce the number of individual roadworks. Recorded collaborations in London increased six-fold after lane rental was introduced in London in 2015.
Under the lane rental schemes, companies will be penalised for digging up roads during peak times, with incentives offered for choosing quieter roads and disrupting traffic only outside of peak hours.
Although the first lane rental schemes outside of the trials are as far off as late 2019, the Department for Transport will be assisting local governments in implementing them.
The DfT claims that 2.5 million roadworks take place every year on UK roads, at a cost to the economy of ?4 billion.
Nicholas Lyes, the RAC’s head of roads policy, said: “Trials showed that some of the worst congestion caused by planned utility works in London was reduced by half on roads where lane rental was in operation, so rolling this out will extend the benefits nationwide.
“RAC research suggests congestion on our roads and journey time reliability are growing concerns for motorists so introducing lane rental should encourage better planning and coordination of roadworks, and mean utility works are completed in a swifter, more efficient manner.”
Welcome to Autocar's run-down of all the new cars heading this way in 2018
Autocar's new cars list gives you all the information on 2018's new arrivals, rounding up all the new models going on sale in the UK
Thought 2017 was a busy year for cars? There's a whole raft of exciting new models coming throughout 2018, with entrants into every major segment, and an ever-growing flock of SUVs ready to hit the market.
Here is your one-stop shop for keeping up-to-date with what's coming when in the car industry.
Hungarian website Vezess posted this image of an uncovered Focus
Overall dimensions appear unchanged but a longer wheelbase should provide more rear leg room. It'll come with three and four-cylinder engines
The upcoming FordFocus isn't due on UK roads until July - but it's already been seen completely uncovered, thanks to this latest spy picture.
Posted on Hungarian website Vezess, the image, which appears to capture the car as it is filmed for an advert, shows that the future Focus will take influence from the smaller Fiesta.
Like the Fiesta, the new Focus will be launched in multiple variants to create a staggered line-up arrival. The Focus programme’s similarity to the Fiesta’s is no surprise, since the project is now under the management of Ford’s small-car guru, Darren Palmer, whose team recently delivered the new Fiesta, Ka+ and a dramatically improved Ecosport B-segment SUV.
The Focus, a rival to the Vauxhall Astra, will be built on Ford's global C-class platform, which is also shared with the Fiesta. It will be a five-door hatch only; Ford is keeping its development funds for making more SUVs, which European president Jim Farley believes are turning into “preferred family cars”.
Although unlikely to grow in length or width, the new Focus is tipped to have about 50mm more in the wheelbase to match its rivals for rear leg room. It will also deliver weight savings of around 50kg, model for model, although precise figures are still being calculated. Efficiency will be high on the agenda; Ford will undoubtedly improve on the current car’s aerodynamics. It will also launch a new all-electric version as one of a dozen electric cars promised last year by Farley. The company has also been experimenting with hybrid models, which are already successful in its US line-up, but there are no sure signs yet of a Focus hybrid.
The Focus's engine range will centre heavily on the successful 1.0-litre Ecoboost three-cylinder petrol engine — available in 99bhp, 123bhp and 138bhp versions — and there are also likely to be 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre petrol units in several power outputs (with up to 275bhp) for the ST-Line and 'full fat' ST versions. The staple diesel will again be the 1.5 TDCi, although a 2.0-litre diesel may still be offered for ST performance models. Ford is likely, for the time being at least, to stick with its six-speed Powershift twin-clutch gearbox as the European automatic option.
One certainty is that Ford will launch a high-riding Focus Active, along the lines of the recently revealed Fiesta Active, in order to take advantage of burgeoning demand for 'lifestyle' cars. There will be several models; base cars will have a regular front-wheel drive system, but there is likely to be a four-wheel drive option utilising hardware from the existing Kuga SUV.
Suggestions that there would be no replacement for the current Focus RS appear wide of the mark; Ford sources suggest there may be “at least one more” version of the highly rated 165mph sports hatch in the company’s armoury. Farley is known to be keen on such models, which he says do much to boost the image and desirability of the wider Ford range.
Inside, the new Focus will be more carefully packaged than ever to offer enhanced passenger space in key areas, even though it is no bigger externally. As shown below, the decor will be simpler and more stylish; the company’s designers privately admit that they "over-delivered” on dashboard complexity in the previous Fiesta and Focus. The fascia, in particular, will be simpler and less claustrophobic, with more functions activated via a prominent central touchscreen.
The overall look, fit and finish has been previewed by the latest Fiesta, which has been noted for its vast improvements and quick-responding infotainment system. The Fiesta is available with a 10-speaker B&O Play sound system as part of its entertainment features; expect a similar technical list in the new Focus.
Ford has a habit of revealing cars ahead of their expected arrivals. It showed the third-generation model, earmarked for a 2011 launch, at the 2010 Detroit motor show at the beginning of that year, evidently to stress the car’s global credentials and pay homage to the firm’s hometown. However, the new Focus is expected to land after the Geneva motor show in late spring before sales commence.
Flying in a jet airliner is a really safe way to travel
Travelling along the ground in a car at 30mph, or travelling through the sky in a plane at over ten times that speed - Matt Prior puzzles over why we're not more afraid of cars
This aeroplane is crashing. There’s no doubt about it. As I look out of the window, I can see snow, trees, both far closer than they ought to be.
We seem to be descending parallel to a chair lift because our pilot is, apparently, attempting a wheels-up emergency landing on a ski slope. Although my knuckles tighten on the armrest and I brace for the impact, I’m surprisingly relaxed about this.
And then I wake up, as confused as hell. The aeroplane’s whirr is still constant and we’re still cruising at 38,000 reassuring feet. A few minutes later, I doze off again and – wouldn’t you know it? – we’re sinking again, inescapably, unavoidably earthbound... until the airliner becomes an absurdly agile train, skipping between wooden stepping stones where the tracks have run out, because that’s dreams for you.
Why does the mind do that? Why does my unconscious self decide it’s going to throw a situation into my head so unlikely that the chances of it happening might as well be nil, yet for rather more likely situations like, say, crashing a car – something so likely that I’ve even done it – it doesn’t.
I live on a road that is so fast and long and dangerous that barely a month goes by without an accident on it. Afterwards, unless it’s taken away quickly under a tarpaulin, a car will sit on the verge for a few days, ‘Police Aware’ sticker in the window, usually on its wheels and usually having ploughed through some mud, perhaps a road sign or, one time, the house I live in. And yet I never fear driving down my road.
And even though I quite like flying, I’ll be more apprehensive about a turbulent landing than I am about, say, driving in snow, despite planes tending not to fall off of runways and ample evidence of cars falling off of snowy roads.
We are all way, way more likely to have a car shunt than an aeroplane shunt, but who has a phobia of Ford Mondeos? In the UK alone, 1700 people die every year on the road. Globally, that number is 1.25m, making the car one of the world’s most prolific killers.
But nobody died in a jet airliner accident last year. Not a single person in something like 40m flights. In 2017, you were statistically as likely to die from being fired from a cannon into the sun, or murdered by one of The Flumps (Pootle has a killer’s eyes), as you were in an airliner. A fear of flying, then – even an apprehension – is as baffling as the fact that nobody has a Teasmade any more.
Or is it? Part of an aversion to flying is, I think, entirely rational: the consequences of a breakdown or knocking into an oncoming object are generally more serious from 30,000ft than 00,000ft.
But the rest of it is absurd: assuming the hassle and journey time were the same either way, I’d choose to drive somewhere myself than be flown there, even given the prevailing statistics, because when I’m in a car, I’m in control. That’s it. That’s the rationale: I’m in charge. And that’s bonkers, isn’t it? In 100 years’ time, when road deaths are, hopefully, as rare as airline deaths, maybe that position will sound as stupid as it almost certainly is. But today, would you, honestly, pick otherwise?
Spies have caught the 2019 Cayman GT4 winter testing
The new Cayman GT4 is expected to be powerful enough to wear the RS badge; manual and automatic gearbox options mooted
The forthcoming successor to the original Cayman GT4 will stick with a naturally aspirated flat six engine despite the arrival of a turbocharged flat four in the Porsche 718 Cayman.
The engine is expected to be a detuned version of the new 911 GT3’s 4.0-litre flat six, although power is expected to increase over the previous generation's 380bhp. 400bhp-plus is expected.
“Natural aspiration is one of our main USPs,” said Andreas Preuninger, head of GT car development at Porsche.
“At Motorsport, we think we can achieve throttle response and immediacy a little bit better with an atmospheric highrevving engine than any kind of turbo.” He also confirmed there are no plans to create any four-cylinder GT cars.
The bolstered performance means the car's 0-62mph time will be cut from the previous-generation car's 4.4sec, while its 183mph top speed is also likely to rise slightly. Just like the previous car, the 2019 GT4 isn't expected to weigh any more than the Cayman GTS, so Porsche will likely keep the car's weight below 1450kg.
2015's Cayman GT4 raided Porsche GT's parts bin for components to make the car more focused, and it'll be no different for the 2019 model, as Porsche seeks to increase the focus of its sports car lineup with variants like the 911 Carrera T and the 911 GT3 Touring Package.
Autocar has speculated that the next Cayman GT4 will be powerful enough to wear the RS badge, reserved for Porsche’s most hardcore models, and Preuninger dropped a broad hint that it will come with both manual and PDK gearbox options.
“The aim is to always have the choice,” he said. “Now we’ve started with that strategy with the GT3, let’s hope that it pays off.”
Preuninger also said Porsche will crack down on speculators who buy GT cars to flip for a profit rather than to drive. “If you do it, you won’t get the next car,” he said.
The previous Cayman GT4 was priced from ?64,451 - around ?10,000 more than the Cayman GTS. If a similar pricing strategy is employed this time around, it'll cost just shy of ?70,000.
The Corsa GSi is expected to have around 150bhp; the same as 1.4T-engined Corsas and well down on the 202bhp Corsa VXR at the top of the range. Its bodywork will be more aggressively styled along the lines of the Insignia GSi, although toned down from the racier VXR.
Following the reintroduction of the GSi badge in 2017 on the Insignia GSi, Vauxhall is planning to extend the warm badge to its smaller cars, starting with the Corsa but also moving to the Astra. Vauxhall has a long history with hot Corsas, with the GSi badge being launched on the Vauxhall Nova GSi in 1987, formerly bearing the GTE badge.
Vauxhall clarified that GSi does not replace the more hardcore VXR sub-brand, which is now only carried on the hot Corsa, since the brand discontinued the VXR8 with the swansong GTS-R.
The Corsa GSi, unlike the four-wheel drive Insignia, will be front-wheel drive only. The Insignia GSi commands a premium of around 15% over the next-most expensive Insignia variant, although it’s likely to be a smaller price gap for the Corsa, given the VXR is only ?670 more than the next-most-expensive 1.0-litre Elite model. Vauxhall said that the GSi would not come alongside spec simplifications across the range, though.
The Volvo V60 will reach the UK in 2019 after a Geneva motor show reveal
Russian doll styling means the Volvo V60 looks like a downsized V90; several previews have also been released
The Volvo V60 has been leaked ahead of its official Geneva motor show launch, showing the car's side-on and rear-end styling.
As can be seen in previous spy shots of the car, the V60 gets the Volvo family face, while the side and rear styling is similar to that of the V90. Volvo has also revealed glimpses of the car in a promotional video and preview shots. The leaked images first appeared on Bosnian site AutoMotoSvijet.
This means that a 401bhp T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid - as seen in the leaked images with quad rectangular exhausts - will top the range as a softer rival to the Audi S4 and Mercedes-AMG C43, while two 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engines and one petrol unit will also feature. It’s possible that a smaller hybrid using a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine will arrive later, shared with the XC40 small SUV.
Specs will mirror that of the XC60, with Momentum spec at the entry level and R-Design Pro at the top. Inscription will be in the middle.
Safety kit will also match that of the XC60, meaning that when it hits the market in early 2019, it’s likely to be the safest car in the class. The XC60 was declared the safest car ever tested by Euro NCAP last year, achieving a 95% overall score. It is equipped with safety systems that are more advanced than Euro NCAP currently tests on cars.
Prices are expected to start from ?28,000 for the V60 - ?8000 less than the XC60 in entry-level 2.0 D4 Momentum spec. This is an increase of more than ?3000 over the previous car, but Volvo's move upmarket and the previous V60's long production run account for the jump. By comparison, the XC90 is more than ?13,000 more expensive than the entry-level V90.
With Volvo introducing subscription plans, named Care by Volvo for its models, starting with the XC40, it's likely that this will also be rolled out across the rest of the range, including the V60.
PSA aims to have Vauxhall and Opel back in profit by 2020; the brands posted losses of ?190 million in the second quarter of 2017. The Zaragoza plant has built Corsas since 1982 and also currently produces the Mokka X, Crossland X and Citro?n C3 Aircross.
No details have been given about ranges, but that of rivals such as the Renault Zoe, Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Kona Electric - at 250 miles, 235 miles and 292 miles respectively - should put the electric Corsa and 208’s ranges comfortably above 200 miles.
The Corsa was previously Vauxhall’s top seller in the UK, but has slipped in recent months to eighth place. It has been outsold heavily so far in 2018 by the newer Mokka X (2587 Corsas versus 3767 Mokkas) and sales were down 30% across 2017. The Corsa has been on sale in the UK in its current form since 2014.
Vauxhall had a tough 2017, with market share shrinking to 7.61% last year compared with 9.32% in 2016.
The 28-year-old from Leeds will replace triple BTCC champion Gordon Shedden in the Team Dynamics-run squad, which fields a pair of Honda Civic Type Rs. Scotsman Shedden has left the BTCC and will race an Audi Sport-backed Team WRT Audi RS3 LMS in the FIA World Touring Car Cup.
Cammish will line up alongside triple BTCC title winner and Team Dynamics director Matt Neal. “We needed someone with Dan’s standing to help the team challenge for overall honours this year,” said Neal.
“Dan has been successful in every championship he has competed in over the years. He’s incredibly difficult to pass and knows how to defend a position," Neil added.
Cammish made his name in the 2013 British Formula Ford Championship, winning all 24 races he contested. After a season in British GT, he moved into the Carrera Cup, which runs on the BTCC support package, claiming back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016.
He drove in both the Formula 1-supporting Porsche Supercup last year (finishing fourth in the points) and the Carrera Cup GB. He won eight races in the latter and finished third in the points due to missing two races as a result of Supercup commitments.
BTCC 2018 takes shape
Cammish’s signing means most of the top seats on this year’s BTCC grid have been filled. Reigning champion Ash Sutton (pictured below) will return in a Team BMR Subaru Levorg and will be joined in the squad by double title winner Jason Plato.
WSR will again field a trio of BMWs for Rob Collard, Andrew Jordan and double champ and 2017 runner-up Colin Turkington. Tom Ingram, who took third in the 2017 standings, will again drive a Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis.
Sam Tordoff, who finished second in the 2016 standings behind Shedden, returns to the BTCC after a year out, driving for a Ford Focus for Motorbase Performance. He’ll be joined by race winner Tom Chilton.
The smaller SUV, which would be priced lower than the FF91 and will likely sell in higher volumes, has styling disctinct from its larger sibling, with a more angular look and aggressive bodywork.
The announcement comes after an Faraday Future source revealed to Business Insider that the beleaguered EV brand will benefit from $1.5 billion of investment from a Hong Kong-based backer. Around a third of this is already provided up front, and the rest is promised once certain targets have been met. The aim is to have the FF91 on the market by the end of 2018.
The brand’s ultra-aggressive attempt at bringing the FF91 to market, including the construction of an all-new Nevada-based factory to deliver production targets, have led the company, led by founder Jia Yueting into financial troubles, casting doubts over whether the FF91 would ever make it onto roads.
The FF91 has a 130kWh battery pack giving more than 435 miles of range, although it’s likely that the smaller car will have a shorter range, with its more compact dimensions cutting down on space for batteries.
Dag Reckhorn, Faraday Future’s global manufacturing boss updated a room of 200 supplier representatives on the brand’s factory progress: ”Our Hanford factory project is developing according to our planned schedule, and we appreciate the support give to us by the City of Hanford.”
“We will move forward on construction and equipment by the end of the quarter. We remain on an aggressive, yet workable timeline of year-end delivery for the FF91.”
The Mitsubishi Outlander diesel is available with five or seven seats
The Outlander isn't just available as a PHEV: how does the diesel version compare to seven-seat rivals such as the Nissan X-Trail and Skoda Kodiaq?
The Mitsubishi Outlander diesel is the lesser-known sibling to the Outlander PHEV. Whereas the latter stands out as one of the few mainstream plug-in hybrid SUVs available, the oil-burning version finds itself in a much more crowded - not to mention competitive - part of the market.As with the PHEV version, the diesel Outlander was lightly refreshed for the 2017 model year. Its MacPherson front strut and multi-link rear suspension was fettled to lend it a greater degree of surefootedness on the road, and greater attention was paid to reducing noise in the cabin.Where the PHEV and the diesel start to differ, though (past the obvious point of their powertrains), is in the practicality stakes: the former is offered strictly as a five-seater, while the latter can seat up to seven.Then there’s the question of price. You’ll part with ?25,955 for the entry-level version of the Outlander diesel (or ?28,769 for the cheapest seven-seater). We drove the seven-seat 4 Diesel Auto 4WD version, which costs ?34,055. By comparison, the PHEV range starts at ?35,330 – although that excludes Government grants available for plug-ins, and doesn’t take into account cheaper company tax rates.The PHEV model might offer the ability to travel 33 miles on electricity alone, but the 145bhp, 266lb ft 2.2-litre diesel engine isn’t uneconomical, either. Combined with four-wheel drive and an automatic transmission - as our test vehicle was - it’ll manage a claimed 48.7mpg on the combined cycle. A comparable Nissan X-Trail will do 47.9mpg, while a Skoda Kodiaq is good for 49.6mpg. The Outlander, then, is by no means outstanding, but it is par for the course.
With a new BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class on the scene, the Audi A6 is the oldest of the ‘big three’ executive saloons. The brand has already confirmed that the new A6 will make its debut at Geneva, and it’s likely to follow in the Prologue-like look of the A8.
It’s a race between Jaguar and Audi to see who can get their electric SUV on sale first, but they’ll both be revealed in production form at the Geneva show. We’ve already seen both in concept form and neither is due to stray far from their concept’s flavour.
Bentley has already revealed the Bentayga V8 away from a motor show, but its first in-the-metal appearance will be at Geneva. It will sit alongside the brand's first electrified model, a plug-in hybrid version of the Bentayga that uses the same 3.0-litre hybrid powertrain as the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid.
BMW's 600bhp flagship doesn't arrive until 2019, but BMW will show a concept precursor to the Aston Martin DB11 and Mercedes-AMG S63 rival at Geneva this year. With various leaks of the 8 Series, we know what it'll be based upon, but the M-honed version will add a layer of performance on top of the luxury coup?.
The first-generation X4 has only been around since 2014, but the overhaul of the X3 means that the closely related X4 will be dragged into its next generation as well. First deliveries for UK customers are planned for August. A hot M40i variant of the X3 is coming as well.
David Brown's at it again - following the Aston Martin DB4-inspired Speedback GT and the Mini Remastered, the Silverstone-based low-volume car maker is producing a high-performance model, but has as yet only revealed the badge.
Ford has only just revealed the facelifted Edge to the American market at the Detroit motor show, but the European version is coming, with a reveal set for the Geneva motor show. We'll only get diesels in Europe, and unlike the US, who get a V6-powered Edge ST, ST-Line is the sportiest version we'll get of the large SUV.
Ford's littlest model has been given a facelift for 2018, and a rufty-tufty SUV makeover as part of it. The facelifted Ka+ and Ka+ Active will go on sale later in 2018, alongside a Fiesta Active and a Focus Active, as Ford SUV-ifies its lineup for the industry's latest craze.
Honda's new Nissan Qashqai rival will head to Geneva, with styling mirroring that of the rest of the range. There's a new hybrid version on its way, too - Honda's first since dropping the Insight name from the UK market.
Not content with an entry into one of the fastest-growing segments in the industry with the Nissan Juke-rivalling Kona, Hyundai is bringing an electric variant to market as well. A range of around 240 miles is mooted - be afraid, Nissan Leaf.
The Hyundai Santa Fe is to enter its fourth generation, which will be revealed at the Geneva motor show. It's updated with a new look akin to the Kona above, as well as the brand's latest emergency braking technology - for reverse manoeuvres.
Italdesign celebrates 50 years this year, and is celebrating in style with a Zerouno convertible. So far, only a revealing preview shot has been revealed, but it's almost certain to have the same V10 engine and similar performance statistics to the coup?. It'll also likely share the coup?'s seven-figure price tag.
If 2017 was the year of the SUV, 2018 is the year of the electric SUV. Jaguar will show the production version of the I-Pace at Geneva; it’s set to be the first direct rival to the Tesla Model X in the UK, but it won’t be on the market alone for long, with the Audi E-tron arriving imminently afterwards.
It's been nearly eight years since the Stratos was first revealed in 2010, but it's finally going into production - a 25-unit production run, with each car costing ?487,000, plus the donor car, which is a Ferrari F430.
The UK's best-selling saloon has been revealed in facelifted form ahead of a Geneva debut. It's now got more hybrids in the range, including diesel-electric powertrains, as well as the subtlest of styling refreshes.
Mercedes' ultimate S-Class has been given its mid-life refresh following the rest of the luxury limo's range. It now gets a two-tone paint job, more distinct front-end styling and new wheels - all of which take inspiration from the recent Maybach 6 concept.
Peugeot's replacement for the slow-selling 508 is due in Geneva, with dramatic new styling, which we've already caught a glimpse of in our spy shots. The brand is keeping tight-lipped on the finer details, but with a tide of SUVs beating the saloon market into submission, radical change is expected to keep the 508 going for another generation.
We’ve already seen the Senna – it was revealed at an event for customers at the brand’s Composite Technology Centre in Sheffield – but the Geneva motor show will be the car’s first public display. It has 660bhp, weighs 1198kg and is claimed to be the quickest-lapping production McLaren yet.
The cooking G-Class was revealed at Detroit motor show, so it follows that the brand will bring its mad, 577bhp AMG G63 to Geneva. Outside, little changes over the outgoing G63, but the brick-like quick G-Wagen's acceleration to 62mph from a standstill has been chopped to 4.5sec.
Mercedes has achieved a lot with the A-Class - it’s in the top ten best-sellers in the UK and is the best-selling premium hatchback. The model is now entering its fourth generation and will adopt Mercedes' new family face, first shown on the third-generation CLS.
The 4.8-litre BMW V8 engine dies with the Plus 8 50th Anniversary edition, which also serves as a run-out special to the Plus 8. Morgan is keeping tight-lipped on whether the Plus 8 will be replaced and any details on the 50th Anniversary edition. Expect it to cost well in excess of the regular Plus 8’s ?85,461 starting price, though.
Rimac’s second model, following the electric Concept One, will be even more luxurious, faster and more exclusive. It won’t be called Concept Two. It has been described by the brand as "a true game-changer".
It’s been a while since we first spied the Cupra Ateca, but Seat's first fast SUV will finally arrive at the Geneva motor show as the first prong of Cupra as a fully-fledged sub-brand – something that's also expected to be announced at Geneva.
Subaru is continuing its Viziv concept campaign in Geneva, with the Viziv Tourer concept - essentially an estate version of the Viziv Performance concept that's thought to preview the next-generation WRX.
It's as-yet-unnamed, but with a not-so-subtle reference to the return of a legendary sports car accompanying the single murky image, there's no two guesses as to what Toyota is hinting at with its upcoming concept. The Supra has been in development for over a year, so this concept is likely to be more than a slight clue as to what to expect.
Zenvo has announced that it will take a new hypercar to Geneva - but that's it. It's yet to tell us how powerful, what it'll be powered by, or where it sits in relation to its other cars. The amount of exposed carbon fibre suggests it'll be the most hardcore model the brand has made yet, though...
Ford’s two iconic hot hatchbacks may be separated by 20 years, but they share a philosophy for Ford Performance that spans the decades
There’s an intrinsic quality to the DNA of a Ford Performance car that spans the years. The Focus RS and the Escort RS Cosworth may look like they’re a generation apart. However, both cars offer a similarly intoxicating dose of turbocharged power, delivered through rally-bred four-wheel-drive.
The biggest changes have come under the skin. The modern Focus RS offers over 100bhp more than the Escort RS Cosworth from its high-tech 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine, while advanced driving modes, stability control and adjustable dampers offer an even greater degree of control and customisation, with a more engaging drive and a more refined ride.
As former rally driver and World Rallycross presenter Andrew Coley explains, though, these two hot hatch legends are clearly both part of the same successful Ford Performance bloodline.
Although now outsold by the Sportage and Sorento SUVs in Britain, the Ceed remains a key contributor to Kia’s growing European market share, which last year reached 3% - a level that has doubled since the first Ceed launched in 2006. This year, Kia is aiming to surpass 500,000 car sales in Europe for the first time.
Talking at the new model's reveal in Munich, European marketing boss Artur Martins told Autocar that the Ceed can hold its own in a market gradually shifting towards SUVs. He said that the Ceed “will continue to grow” in demand at the same time as new Kia SUV models, such as the Stonic, “reach new customers”. He said the Ceed ""attracts a different sort of buyer" to its higher-riding siblings.
The new five-door has been given a more mature look with straighter lines and less clutter than its predecessor. At the back, oval tail-lights share some lines with those fitted to Kia's top model, the Stinger, while the car’s new LED day running lights mimic those fitted to higher-spec GT models. The Ceed comes with wheels of 15in, 16in or 17in in diameter – the latter of which are the two-tone diamond-cut aluminium ones pictured here.
Built on Kia’s latest K2 platform and developed at the brand’s European base in Frankfurt, the latest model offers improved interior space and a 15-litre increase in boot capacity (at 395 litres), as a result of tighter packaging and a 20mm wider footprint than its predecessor. The new Ceed also promises to be more agile, thanks to the platform's lower centre of gravity, with the car 23mm shorter and sitting on fully independent suspension that’s been honed on European roads, including some tuning in Britain.
Power for the new Ceed comes from a choice of two petrol engines and one diesel, which are shared with the model's twin from sister brand Hyundai, the i30. The smallest petrol is an updated version of a 1.0-litre T-GDi unit that produces 118bhp, while a 1.4-litre T-GDi engine replaces the old car’s 1.6 petrol and comes in 99bhp and 138bhp forms. Just one 1.6-litre diesel CRDi is offered but it's new and comes in 113bhp and 134bhp guises. Kia expects the cleanest version of the oil-burner to produce less than 110g/km of CO2, thanks to a new selective catalytic reduction system.
Drive is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed manual as standard, with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox available as an option on the 1.4 petrol and 1.6 diesel.
A 48v mild hybrid version will be added to the range next year – the same year Ford introduces a 48v mild hybrid version of its rival, the Focus – while Martins told Autocar that a plug-in hybrid version is “under consideration”. Martins said a fully electric version is also possible but unlikely because the K2 platform would need modifying, which could “impact interior space”.
Two drive modes, Normal and Sport, are available via the Ceed’s Drive Mode Select system. The former maximises fuel efficiency, while the latter sharpens throttle response and adds weight to the steering. An optional Eco pack adds an active air flap to the car’s front grille, which closes to reduce drag and opens to enhance engine cooling. The pack also includes an underbody cover and lowered suspension to smooth airflow beneath the car, as well as lower rolling resistance Michelin tyres.
Inside, the car comes with a new infotainment display of 5.0in or 7.0in in size, depending on the specification, or an 8.0in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in top models. The Ceed gets Bluetooth smartphone integration, automatic lights and keyless entry as standard, while buyers are offered options such as a JBL premium sound system, wireless phone charger and heated windscreen.
The Ceed has a new Level 2 autonomous system called Lane Following Assist, which can take control of the car’s steering, throttle and brakes in traffic and even suggest the changing of lanes to maintain progress in heavy congestion. Also available is adaptive cruise control that can bring the car to a stop, blindspot and rear cross-traffic warning, as well as a parking assist function and pedestrian recognition technology that works with the car's forward collision avoidance technology.
The car will enter production in May in left-hand-drive form, with right-hand-drive cars following later in the summer ahead of first deliveries in the autumn. Prices for the new model are expected to slightly increase on the outgoing Ceed's ?15,365 starting figure. The estate will mirror the hatchback's launch and production schedule but the shooting brake, which will be inspired by the striking Proceed concept of 2017, isn’t expected to arrive on roads until early next year, following its anticipated reveal in the second half of 2018. That car will also likely be the most expensive.
Kia has dropped the apostrophe in car's name (the previous model was called Cee'd) to emphasise its European focus. Kia said the letters in the name stand for ‘car of Europe, with European design’. The model is only sold in Europe; it has surpassed 1.28 million units through two previous generations.
335bhp and 0-62mph in 3.8sec are claimed for the new Toyota Supra
Statistics of upcoming sports car appear to have been leaked by Japanese media; Toyota won't confirm if they're legitimate
The 2019 Toyota Supra will have 335bhp, 332lb ft and a 0-62mph time of 3.8sec, according to leaked statistics from Japanese magazine Best Car.
If the leak is to be believed, the new Supra will be 4380mm long, 1855mm wide, 1290mm tall and will have a wheelbase of 2470mm. This is 140mm shorter, 45mm wider, 15mm taller and 80mm shorter than the previous Supra of 1993. At 1496kg, the new car is 14kg lighter than the previous Supra and 250kg heavier than the Toyota GT86.
The Supra's engine, a 3.0-litre, six-cylinder dual overhead cam unit, produces 335bhp at 5500rpm and 332lb ft of torque at 1380-5200rpm. It’s thought that an eight-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox will be used - both engine and gearbox are derived from BMW units, shared with the 2019 BMW Z4, with which the Supra was co-developed. Both cars sit on the same carbonfibre architecture.
It’s not yet known what the top speed of the Supra is. The reported 3.8sec 0-62mph time puts it in league with the PDK-equipped Porsche 911 Carrera S; the Toyota is 14kg lighter and has 85bhp less than the Porsche.
The car's styling is already known to take considerable influence from Toyota's FT-1 concept revealed at the 2014 Detroit motor show, with large air intakes dominating the front end and outlets at the rear flanking slimline tail-lights and a ducktail spoiler. The double-bubble roof, which can be seen in the preview image of Toyota’s upcoming concept, is also visible in the renders.
Toyota would not comment on the leak, neither confirming the legitimacy of the statistics nor dismissing them as false.
BMW's electric i3 has recently been updated; it has an NEDC range of 186 miles
BMW’s Ian Robertson says that firms are searching for next-generation battery and electric systems that can provide a competitive advantage
Car makers are in a race against time to develop next-generation battery and electrical systems that can deliver a competitive advantage, according to BMW’s outgoing head of marketing Ian Robertson.
At present, the electric cars on sale deliver broadly the same range and performance, with pricing being affected by other aspects of the vehicle. However, Robertson believes some car makers are on the cusp of making breakthroughs that could shift the capabilities and earn them the edge over rivals. “We believe that the next few steps in development will turn batteries from a commodity into something delivering more of a technical advantage,” said Robertson.
“Ultimately, that advantage will probably even out again, but there will be a period where the battery capability will become a defining factor in choice.
“Today, car buyers will choose an engine based on different factors – its power, its economy, its refinement. Some are better than others, and there will be a period where customers will have a choice of batteryperformance in a similar way.” BMW has a long-standing partnership with Toyota in developing battery and hydrogen technology, the latter having revealed its plans to sell solid state batteries by around 2025. Solid state batteries have the potential to deliver greater performance than lithium ion ones, while being smaller and potentially cheaper in time.
For the first time, the van-based-MPV gets an extended wheelbase version among the comprehensive updates, as well as new front-end underpinnings and a front end inspired by the brand’s SUV offerings.
The Berlingo Multispace, which is the brand’s top-seller in 27 countries and its second best-seller worldwide after the C3, will be sold in M and XL variants from the second half of 2018. First cars won’t reach the UK until winter.
Both variants are seven-seaters, although the seats are removable in both. Standard M form is around 4400mm long, while the XL variant is around 350mm longer, with a wheelbase extended over the M by 190mm to around 2970mm, and an extra 350mm of overall length.
At the front, the Berlingo uses the same EMP2 platform as a variety of PSA Group models, including the C4 Picasso models, Vauxhall Grandland X, Peugeot 3008 and 5008 and the DS 7 Crossback. This allows electric power steering and a tighter turning circle, while at the rear, the platform is an upgrade of the Berlingo’s current architecture.
There are two 1.2-litre Puretech petrols, one 109bhp and the other 128bhp, and four 1.5-litre BlueHDi diesels available from launch, ranging in power from 74bhp to 128bhp. Eight-speed automatic gearboxes are available on both 128bhp units.
Load space has grown by 100 litres over the outgoing model - 775 litres in total for the M, and 1050 litres for the XL, both with five seats in place. Rear access is also improved - the rear windscreen can be opened independently of the tailgate.
In addition to the added bootspace, there are no fewer than 28 storage cubbies around the cabin, contributing to an additional 186 litres of storage space. There’s also a ceiling-mounted storage space called Modutop, providing 92 litres of storage.
A host of driver assistance systems are also available on the new Berlingo, including adaptive cruise control, park assist, a lane departure warning system and automatic emergency braking, as well as PSA’s Grip Control two-wheel drive traction control system.
No considerable price change is expected, although the car’s ?16,795 entry point may increase a little, as is customary for new cars.
The Berlingo is a big-seller in the van-based MPV market, selling 343 units less than the segment best-seller and PSA cousin, the Peugeot Partner Teepee, at 2644 UK sales across 2017. It's third overall, but is only 18 sales behind the Ford Tourneo Connect.
Luxury saloon is still two years off, but incremental changes in the car's self-driving technology, drivetrains and interior tech are all expected
Mercedes-Benz has begun on-road testing for its all-new S-Class, due in 2020, with production bodywork. It's expected that the model will get level 3 autonomy on par with the Audi A8, and is likely to make its debut at the Frankfurt motor show.
Benchmark testing alongside one of its closest rivals - a BMW 7 Series - the next S-Class is expected to make advances in every area for its next generation, although the biggest change will be in styling. Through the camouflage, the car's production bodywork can be seen, and the car appears to feature a development of the A-Class and CLS's 'predator' front-end styling.
A mule dressed in the modified body of the recently facelifted S-Class was previously spotted running with wide-arch extensions, likely as part of early chassis development. Its enlarged tracks confirmed that the next S-Class, which is expected to arrive in 2020, will be larger and therefore more spacious inside. It's likely to benefit from the MBUX infotainment system first installed on the recently revealed A-Class, alongside a host of other technological updates.
The future flagship saloon will also be vastly more autonomous-capable, advancing the current car’s so-called Distronic Active Proximity Control and Active Steer Assist systems. The current car can achieve Level 2 autonomy but is expected to eventually be upgraded again with Drive Pilot capabilities, which links to GPS satellites and is featured on the new E-Class. The new 2020 model is therefore expected to introduce near-fully autonomous capabilities.
The next S-Class will also increase its use of electrification, boosting the performance and range offered with the current top hybrid S-Class, the S 560e. That car combines a turbocharged V6 engine and electric motor, offering up to 31 miles of electric range, which is vital to ensuring the car can be driven in cities that may soon enforce zero emissions.
Trends suggest an all-electric version of the S-Class is inevitable at some stage, although sources do not think battery technology will be at an advanced enough state to make it viable at the next S-Class’s 2020 launch. Autocar understands that the room required for batteries presents a major challenge for an electric vehicle (EV) variant, with Mercedes not wanting to hamper cabin space and luxury as a result. It's highly plausible that the next-gen car will feature an EV variant later in its production life, however.
The S-Class is a pivotal car in Mercedes' lineup, regularly being the first model to introduce new technologies which then trickle down to the rest of the range. In 2017, the Maybach variant alone sold 25,000 units, with two thirds of these going to China. The brand was the biggest-selling premium brand across 2017, beating BMW and Audi to the title, thanks to 2,289,344 sales across the year. Mercedes' 7.04% market share in the UK also bested those of Audi and BMW, which achieved 6.88 and 6.77% respectively across the year.
The W198 used a lightweight welded aluminium spaceframe chassis, which supported the engine, transmission and axles. This, along with a steel body, gave the car a kerb weight of just 1251kg
This beautifully designed and 'most astonishing' grand tourer was based on a Le Mans winner and a candidate for the first true supercar, being able to hit 0-100mph in just 21.0sec
Much has been written about the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, invariably describing it as one of the best-looking cars of all time and/or one of the best sports cars of its era. At the least, it was certainly the fastest.
Even if you aren't taken in by the automotive deification of the 'Gullwing' of 1954, it's nearly impossible – upon looking at the car and reading reports about it – to refute either assertation.
The 300 SL was created at the suggestion of one Maximilian Hoffman, an importer of European luxury cars into the US in the postwar years, to whom we also have to thank for the creation of the Porsche 356 Speedster and Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider.
The grand tourer, carrying the internal designation W198, was essentially a road-going version of the W196 300 SL of 1952. This oddly bloated little creation, of which just 10 were built, was the first racing exploit that Mercedes-Benz had engaged in this side of the war.
Expectations were high, given the Silver Arrows' domination of grand prix racing throughout the 1930s. And the W196 lived up to them in fantastic style, taking a string of wins in its debut season that included Le Mans 24 Hours, the N?rburgring Eifelrennen and Mexico's terrifying Carrera Panamericana (victors Karl Kling and Hans Klenk are pictured below).
The W198 used the W196's lightweight welded aluminium spaceframe chassis – the implementation of which forced the use of innovative gullwing doors – that supported the engine, transmission and axles, and clad it in a stunning, streamlined steel body. This gave the car a kerb weight of just 1251kg.
The engine was a 3.0-litre petrol straight-six borrowed from the four-door 300 introduced in 1951. This engine was tuned, however, with a new head that allowed for larger intake and exhaust valves, and mechanical direct fuel injection in place of carburettors.
This application, one of the earliest of its kind, made the W198 significantly more powerful than the W196, with 240bhp and 217lb ft.
Suspension at the front was by coil springs and double wishbones, while the rear had an independent set-up of coil springs and swinging half-axles.
On 25 March 1955, Autocar got behind the wheel of this "most astonishing" car. We began: "This coup? is in full production for sale to those who have the ability to handle and the means to purchase such a car. As is well known, the two essentials do not often go together."
After completing the awkward ingress over the very high sills, we found the 300 SL's driving position offered "an extremely good view", with the sloping bonnet "allowing the driver to see the road close up to the car", the driving position adjustable enough for most and the steering wheel "placed at an ideal angle".
We continued: "The 300 SL is docile and tractable in dense city traffic, but there is no doubt whatsoever that its true place is outside built-up areas, where it can be allowed to come into its own.
"After it has trickled along in third and top gears, the time eventually arrives when second gear can be selected, so that the car really comes to life.
"For a passenger who has not travelled in the 300 SL before, the effect is electrifying. The occupant receives at first a mild pressing back into the seat and then, as the power comes in between 3500rpm and 400rpm, he feels as though he is being rocketed through space. Up to 70mph is available in second gear, and then comes a quick movement into third. The rev counter needle drops back for a second or two and, again at 4000rpm, the effect of being urged forward by some irresistible force is felt.
"There is a somewhat harsh note from the engine, but little exhaust and wind noise.
"The acceleration is truly remarkable. The effect up to 60mph is not so noticeable as higher up when, with over 80mph showing, the rev counter needle swinging round rapidly towards the limit mark and third gear still engaged, the car fairly rockets forward.
"Press the accelerator well down even at over 100mph in top gear and, again, there is the feeling of being on the end of a rope that is being pulled hard from in front of the car. The way the 300 SL does it all with so little fuss is almost uncanny."
Our recorded acceleration figures were 0-60mph in 8.8sec and 0-100mph in 21.0sec. A top speed of 135mph was achieved.
"The 300 SL's cruising speed is limited not by mechanical factors, but by the road and traffic conditions," we wrote. "It's one of the least tiring cars to drive, in the manner of all high-performance cars except those which are very noisy.
"The acceleration capabilities of the car enable the driver more frequently to overtake slower-moving traffic in safety and so cut the time for a known route by a very considerable margin and with no feeling of having misbehaved by upsetting other road users. Admittedly, they may have wondered what it was that passed them but, by that time, the 300 SL is over the hills and far away!"
Of course, a car such as this must have the ability to handle and stop as proficiently as it can hurtle. Thankfully, the 300 SL did so, and this we considered "part of the character of the car".
"The ride is by no means harsh," we said. "In fact, on one 400-mile journey, a small child was able to sleep curled up on what is essentially the luggage space behind the seats.
"When cornering at the speed of other traffic, the 300 SL goes round firmly on the proverbial rails, taken close to the chosen line and with hardly a movement of the steering wheel."
Indeed, due to lock-to-lock being just two turns, our driver found himself hardly conscious of turning the wheel in order to corner, reminding him "of a fast motorcycle" that "is steered more by leaning the body than by actual movement of the handlebars".
There was a useful amount of kickback from the front wheels and apparent oversteer; "any inclination to ease the throttle round a corner and the rear of the car will tend to swing round". When driving the car round bends, "no trace of misbehaviour" was noted.
We elaborated: "When taking open, very fast swerves, the driver can start to guide the car round just before he enters the corner and then, using the throttle, make the 300 SL come out on the straight in a beautiful movement.
"There is the typical Mercedes-Benz feeling of the swing axles working. On wet roads, the car slides slightly but, with judicious handling, there is no tail breakway. This is a car that teaches its lessons sharply and thus demands respect."
The brakes, meanwhile, were vacuum-servo-assisted and "fully capable of dealing with the high performance of the car". We found, even when used repeatedly on a rapid descent and when taking performance figures, "there wasn't the slightest sign of fade or unevenness", while the pressure required was "comparatively light".
And that other crucial component, the gearbox, had a pleasant gearshift and a smooth clutch that had no slip.
Clearly, Autocar's testers were stunned at this car – after all, it was the fastest production car at a time when traffic would have consisted of Austin Sevens and Morris Minors. Looking back now, it's easy to see why the 300 SL is often billed as the "first ever supercar" and now sells for more than ?1 million (rather than the ?4392 demanded in 1955).
Wonder what our chaps back then would have thought of the car's "spiritual successor", the much uglier but much faster SLS AMG of 2010.
Mercedes-AMG has released the first official pictures of its new four-door sports car testing in disguised form
Due at the Geneva motor show before going on sale in September, AMG's new GT will launch with 604bhp V8, with more powerful petrol-electric drivetrains to come in 2019
Mercedes-AMG has released the more official testing pictures of its upcoming GT four-door model, which is due to be revealed in full at the Geneva motor show in March.
The new images, which include close-ups of the car with production bodywork undergoing wind tunnel testing, come shortly after the firm released three images of a disguised car. Both are part of a fleet that has been running "all over the world", but has given no further details about the machine, aside from its claimed aerodynamic prowess.
Autocar has previously revealed that engineers from Mercedes' performance arm are already working on an even harder version of the model, with sources predicting the variant will have in excess of 800bhp from a hybrid V8 powertrain.
The official images follow previous spy pictures of a car wearing a fixed rear wing. That suggests that the 'standard' GT four-door, which AMG boss Tobias Moerswill soon be followed by a more focused model that has extra power and produces higher levels of downforce to rival the market's very fastest four-doors.
Fixed rear wings are normally reserved for AMG's most extreme models, such as Black Series or R variants. At this stage it appears the latter is more likely to be used on the GT four-door, so as not to steal the limelight from the upcoming Black Series version of the regular two-door GT.
AMG's decision to start development on a hotter GT four-door even before the regular car is revealed comes as part of its new product plan to launch variants sooner into each model's life cycle. In Detroit, where AMG recently launched its new hybrid 53 range, Moers told Autocar that AMG "never stops with engineering development", suggesting that harder versions are worked on as soon as development on the car they're based on is completed.
He added that his personal opinion was that the four-door AMG model will be more successful than the company anticipates.
Previewed by the GT concept of 2017, the AMG GT four-door models will come with a range of EQ Power-branded petrol-electric hybrid drivelines featuring differing battery capacities, outputs and electric ranges.
The new Mercedes-AMG model has been conceived as an upmarket replacement for today’s CLS 63 and a rival to the Porsche Panamera. Sales for the production model are scheduled to begin in September 2018.
The car will be launched with the same 604bhp twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre petrol V8, nine-speed automatic gearbox and fully variable four-wheel drive system as the latest E63 S 4Matic, upon which it is largely based. However, Mercedes officials have said there are also concrete plans for it to be sold with hybrid drivelines from 2019 onwards - suggesting the spotted harder version could arrive as part of that line-up.
The decision to develop the car's new hybrid driveline with three differing battery capacities will allow Mercedes-AMG to offer the car with varying power outputs and ranges.
Although the finer details are still under wraps, Autocar has been told that the range-topping hybrid model is set to produce the same 805bhp and offer a similar 31-mile electric range as the GT Concept (pictured above and below).
The other versions under development are said to include a base hybrid driveline with 671bhp and a 19-mile range and a mid-range variant with 738bhp and a 25-mile range.
Sources suggest these units' modular nature will allow them to feature in other AMG models, including the successors to the GT Coupe? and Roadster.
The hybrid driveline for the production version of the GT Concept uses AMG’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine, mounted longitudinally up front, in combination with an electric motor sited within the rear axle. The engine can send power to all four wheels, while the motor delivers power exclusively to the rear wheels.
AMG says the motor is networked with a combination of extremely light batteries. These have been developed in partnership with High Performance Powertrains, the British-based AMG sister company behind the 1000bhp petrol-electric driveline of the upcoming Project One hypercar.
The operation of the new petrol-electric powerplant has been derived from the hybrid unit used by the Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 team, with the battery charged while the car is being driven through brake energy recuperation and the aid of the petrol engine.
Formula E tie-up will help AMG
Mercedes-Benz’s entry into the electric Formula E championship in 2018/19 will boost AMG’s development of hybrid and electric powertrains for the future, according to the company's development boss, Drummond Jacoy.
The firm’s recent Project One concept uses a powertrain similar to the hybrid employed by Mercedes in Formula 1.
“We work with Mercedes High Performance Engines who build the F1 engines, and now we’ll align with the Formula E project,” said Jacoy. “The entry is very recent, very now, and we’ve not sorted out exactly how it’s going to work – but there will be a close link to us as AMG.”
Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe with the Land Rover Defender
German firm MBtech, part-owned by Mercedes-Benz, to help develop 'uncompromising' 4x4 that reflects the Defender's philosophy
German engineering firm MBtech, which is part-owned by Mercedes-Benz, has signed a deal with Ineos Automotive to engineer its Land Rover Defender-inspired Projekt Grenadier SUV.
The technical tie-up will involve MBtech allocating 200 full-time engineers to the project from its Stuttgart base. According to Ineos Automotive CEO Dirk Heilmann, the deal will: "bring together German engineering and British design and entrepreneurship".
Projekt Grenadier will produce a rugged SUV that's in the spirit of – but not diretly related to – the original Defender.
Ineos Automotive, the car brand established by Jim Ratcliffe, CEO and founder of multinational chemicals company Ineos, intends to reveal early sketches of the car later this year. It is aiming to finalise the car's specifications by mid-2018, with MBtech producing the first "mule vehicles" soon after, with proper prototypes following later this year. MBtech will be tasked with "working up" the exact specifications of the vehicle to ensure that it is a "truly rugged, reliable and uncompromising 4x4."
Ineos Automotive's plans for the Grenadier to go into proper production next year, with finished cars on the roads in 2020.
MBtech was founded in 1995 as Mercedes-Benz Technologies, although the car giant sold a 65% share of the firm to AKKA Technologies in 2012. MBtech continues to work on multiple projects for Mercedes-Benz, and also works with other car firms. Under the deal with Ineos, it will take the lead on overall vehicle development of the Grenadier, overseeing all components.
Ineos turned over ?43 billion in 2017, making a ?3.8 billion profit. It has plans to invest around ?700 million in a chosen site for Projekt Grenadier. Prior to the announcement of the MBtech deal – which only mentions production of the test mules and protoypes - an Ineos spokesman told Autocar that an announcement for where production will take place is due later this year.
The company has previouly stated that it's open to a number of possible solutions; it could share a facility with another company, convert a used plant or build a new one. “We’d originally said our desire is to build it in the UK, and that remains the case,” Ineos director Tom Crotty told Autocar last year. But the company has also received a number of offers from European sites.
Ineos is still keen to start production in the UK, despite uncertainty over the automotive industry in the country following the Brexit vote.
“We’ve gone into this decision with eyes wide open,” Crotty said when asked about Brexit's impact. “It really doesn’t have an impact. We think this is a project for the UK that would be hugely beneficial post-Brexit because we would be exporting 70-80% of the cars we would make."
Ineos is targeting sales of around 25,000 units per year. The company has previously outlined its vision for the 4x4 to be sold globally, but particularly targeting the US, sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. Prices are set to stick closely to those of the outgoing Defender, which was priced from ?25,000.
The car has been dubbed Projekt Grenadier, which references the Grenadier pub in Knightsbridge that's close to the Ineos office and where plans for this Defender-inspired model were first discussed, according to Crotty. The German spelling of 'project' is a nod to the nationality of Heilmann.
“We want the best-quality engineering under the skin of this vehicle, hence the nod in this direction,” Crotty said. “We want to remind everyone that what we’re trying to do is make an uncompromising 4x4 with high levels of engineering.”
Much of the design and powertrain options are still to be decided, but Crotty told Autocar last year that it's likely to have a diesel option, while hybrid and electric technology is being explored.
“We’re looking at a range of options for powertrains,” he said. “Hybrid technology could well be on the cards, especially because it would help with emissions management, but we would want it to retain its off-road values.
“Pure EV is also a possibility. We’re looking at everything and haven’t closed anything off. I’d be very surprised if a diesel option wasn’t part of that."
“It will be extremely high-quality and extremely reliable,” Crotty added.
As for styling, Crotty said the SUV will have the “spirit of the Defender” but it won’t be a lookalike. “It won’t be a modern SUV,” he explained. “It will be much more like an old-style, very rugged off-roader.”
Ineos claims to be one of the world’s largest manufacturers, but this will be the first time that it has produced a vehicle.
Crotty accepted that the project is a risk, but maintained that it had the full backing of the company and the team was determined to make the car a profitable success.
“People probably think we’re crazy because we’re not in the car industry,” he said. “There’s risk in everything you do, but we can manage that risk. We are manufacturers; we know what we’re doing and we know we need high quality from the people in the industry.”
Ratcliffe is a big fan of the Defender and was behind the company’s move to make its own model.
“This is a fantastically exciting project,” Ratcliffe said. “We want to build the world’s purest 4x4 and are aiming it at explorers, farmers and off-road enthusiasts across the globe.”
Ineos said it “is determined that the vehicle will not only fill a gap in the market vacated by the Defender but also provide a step-change improvement in build quality and reliability”.
Ratcliffe added: “I am a great admirer of the old Defender and have enormous respect for its off-road capability, and our new 4x4 has been inspired by it. But while our off-roader might share its spirit, our new car will be a major improvement on previous models.”
Jaguar Land Rover is fiercely protective of its Defender. In 2016, it prevented a Canadian company from using the name Defender for an all-terrain vehicle.
At the time, JLR legal boss Keith Benjamin said: “The Defender is an iconic vehicle that is part of JLR’s past, present and future. The success of our business is based on unique design and engineering attributes, and we intend to protect the brand robustly around the world.”
Ineos has informed JLR of its plans. Crotty said there was no conflict between the two parties and that JLR’s response was “neutral”. “There have been no great fallings out – just sensible conversation,” he said.
“We’re not out to produce a copy; we’re out to produce a new vehicle that is filling a space that the Defender used to fill.”
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan. It's not an SUV; it's a high-bodied vehicle, apparently
SUVs are hugely popular with buyers, yet some car makers seem afraid to use this label
There are perhaps no letters more fashionable in the car industry right now than SUV. Car buyers love them and so, predictably, manufacturers are racing to build them.
There’s no shame in that; a firm making cars that the public wants to buy isn’t just good business practice, it’s plain common sense. Except some firms are tripping over themselves to avoid using the term SUV.
An example: in a press release confirming its first SUV would be called the Cullinan, Rolls-Royce referred to the machine as a ‘high-sided vehicle’. This was subsequently tweaked to ‘high-bodied vehicle’, presumably because ‘high-sided vehicle’ sounds like the sort of thing you can’t drive over the Severn Bridge during high winds.
Now, I can see why Rolls-Royce and Ferrari might be reluctant to use any term that could make one of their cars sound even vaguely related to a Nissan Qashqai or Ford Kuga.
And, granted, the SUV market is still developing, as are the terms that divide the many sizes and levels of cars within this segment, from compact crossovers to sports SUVs. But, really, nobody is going to mistake a Cullinan for a Qashqai, even if they're both broadly labelled SUVs.
Does a ‘high-bodied vehicle’ really convey any extra sense of luxury than an SUV? Are Ferrari buyers any more likely to snap up an FUV than an SUV? I'm not convinced in either case.
Frankly, I don't see the point of any brand making a car that walks and talks like an SUV and then not labelling it an SUV. Given their popularity, it’s not like the car-buying public is put off by SUVs (unlike MPVs or estates, which manufacturers perform lyrical gymnastics to avoid). So why not call a proverbial SUV spade a spade?
I reckon both Rolls-Royce and Ferrari could take a lead from Maserati’s marketing line for the Levante: the Maserati of SUVs. Genius. It basically says: it’s an SUV, but it’s also a Maserati, so it’s okay.
Let’s face it: if people are in the market for a premium, ultra-luxury SUV, wouldn’t it be easier to sell them the 'Rolls-Royce of SUVs' rather than a 'Rolls-Royce high-bodied vehicle'?
So what do you think - is there any shame in calling an SUV what it is?
The run-out version of current Ford Focus RS features a Quaife locking differential at the front and Mountune power upgrade
This Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition, is the last hurrah for the Blue Oval’s current all-wheel-drive mega-hatch, which goes out of production on 6 April.
The Focus RS Heritage Edition comes equipped with the model’s most performance-focused optional equipment – including a higher-specification drivetrain and a power upgrade to 370bhp – to make it the fastest variant of a Focus RS yet produced.
Located between the car's front driveshafts is a Quaife mechanical locking differential – the same kind that was added to the recent RS Edition – to juggle torque between the wheels more effectively and enhance traction under heavy throttle loads.
No changes have been made to the car’s GKN-supplied driveline technology at the rear, so Drift Mode is still able to send up to 100% of torque to each rear wheel to enable the car to perform powerslides and drifts.
The Heritage Edition gets the FPM375 Mountune power upgrade as standard. The overhaul increases output by 25bhp and torque by 30lb ft, bringing the 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine’s maximum to 376lb ft. This is achieved via the fitment of a high-flow induction kit, an uprated turbo re-circulating valve and an ECU remap to make the most of the new hardware.
As a nod to the RS’s spiritual forebears, which stretch back 50 years to the first Escort RS, the car comes painted in a classic Ford colour, Tief Orange. This shade of paint was a popular colour on classic models such as the Escort Mexico.
Also added to the Heritage Edition are RS Edition finishes, including grey brake calipers and black forged alloy wheels, as well as black door mirrors and a black rear spoiler. Inside, there are part-leather Recaro seats and a heated steering wheel, while a sunroof and rear parking sensors are fitted as standard.
Just 50 examples of the Heritage Edition are being produced, each priced from ?39,895. This is ?3600 more than the Red Race RS Edition that arrived in December with the same Quaife hardware but without the Mountune upgrade, and was produced in 300 units.
Autocar understands Ford is already working on the next-generation Focus RS, despite rumours it could be canned. The brand’s boss, Jim Farley, has previously stated his support for high-performance models due to their ability to boost the image of a company.
The next Focus RS is predicted to follow suit of its predecessors and arrive one year after the latest version of the regular car. The first versions of the next-generation Focus are due on roads later this year, but the Focus RS will be based on a more powerful version that's due in 2019. This means the unveiling of the next RS will most likely take place in the first quarter of 2020.
The UK used car market declined 1.1% last year, making it the second-best year on record for used cars. Scroll through for the used-car top 10
Used sales in 2017 were down just 1.1% year on year and more diesels changed hands, but fourth quarter declined by 5.1%
The UK used car market remained buoyant in 2017, with a decline of just 1.1% across the year and 8.1 million cars changing hands.
The apparent stability across the year was marred by a sharp 5.1% decline in the fourth quarter, in line with the 5.7% decline in new car sales across the year.
The fourth-quarter results could be a forecast of things to come; the used car market is usually a few months behind the new market in responding to trends and changes. Automotive analyst Cap HPI recorded a drop in used car values of 1.1% in December, indicating greater stability in the market; values declined by 1.6% the previous December.
Cap HPI Black Book senior editor James Dower said: “Historically, used car activity starts to improve after the Christmas period and values begin to strengthen. The used car market is likely to increase in volume due to the historic levels of new car registrations but, with the decline in new car volume, this should have a stabilising effect.”
Used car transactions involving diesels rose 3.3% over 2016, indicating both a keenness of owners to shift them, but also a prevalence of buyers willing to take them on.
Used electric vehicle sales passed 10,000 for the first time - a 77.1% increase on 2016, while the alternatively fuelled vehicle market grew by 21.3% overall.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes warned that things might not remain so buoyant without the correct steps from authorities. “While such healthy demand is reassuring, to keep it that way and accelerate renewal throughout the fleet – the fastest way to improve air quality – government must now restore confidence to the new car sector,” he said.
“Given the recent economic and fiscal uncertainty, particularly over diesel, consumers and businesses need clarity to encourage them to move out of their older vehicles and into newer, lower-emissions cars – whatever their fuel type.”
Despite the uncertainty, these figures are the second-best annual results recorded for the used car market, with 2016 marking the high point on record. Hatchbacks maintained their dominance, with the Ford Fiesta mirroring its top-selling new car position on the used market, while the Ford Focus was second and the Vauxhall Corsa third. Six of the top 10 best-selling used cars of last year were superminis.
Also mirroring the new car market, SUVs were a fast-growing segment, with a 9.5% jump in demand for the models. Executive cars remained stable year on year, while all other segments declined.
The model offers direct insight into the look of a future WRX estate, which is due to be launched alongside a WRX saloon – the latter of which was first previewed in concept form in autumn last year (and is pictured below).
Only the Viziv Tourer’s tail-lights and bootlid are visible in the picture, but they show that the car will have similar design details to the saloon. This suggests the front end will be near-identical and sport the same slim light design as the regular Viziv concept.
The Viziv Tourer is also likely to have a similar footprint to its saloon sibling, which measured 4630mm long and 1950mm wide, with a 2730mm wheelbase – all increases on the current WRX.
The production WRX models that follow these Viziv concepts will be built on Subaru’s latest Global Platform, which was first introduced on the current Impreza and brings vast improvements in structural rigidity and refinement.
The platform also enables the fitment of Subaru’s EyeSight technology, its suite of driver assist systems that enable functions such as autonomous emergency braking, an advanced form of side impact alert and driver fatigue detection.
The systems were recently rolled out on the latest XV, which Autocar drove earlier this year, but will appear in even more active forms when the next WRX models make production in 2020.
Expect the hardware to lend itself to more advanced semi-autonomous functions, although Subaru’s intention to make WRX driver-centric will negate the fitment of fully autonomous functions in this model’s line-up.
The Financial Times reports that the first car, due before 2020, will show the company how to make a vehicle and establish relationships with suppliers, while the second and third cars will enter the market with higher production volumes to further establish the brand among mass-market competition. More EVs could come later from the brand following the initial three.
Unnamed Dyson sources say the first model will have a production run of fewer than 10,000 units. Company founder Sir James Dyson has already confirmed that the car will carry a premium price tag but will not be a sports car.
Another source claimed that the company has chosen not to use solid-state batteries for its first model, as previously planned, instead saving the technology on the second and third models in its line-up.
Initial reports stated that solid-state batteries were planned for the first car, although the brand’s solid-state battery executive, Ann Marie Sastry, left the company in late 2017. It’s unconfirmed if the two decisions are linked.
Dyson confirmed to Autocar that the executive behind its solid-state battery technology has left the company.
A spokesman said "Ann Marie Sastry is no longer with Dyson" but refrained from explaining why, stating that the company doesn't "get into specifics on personnel matters". Sastry joined Dyson when it purchased her battery company, Sakti3, for $90 million (?67.4 million) three years ago.
Although the technology Dyson is developing remains shrouded in secrecy, Sastry previously suggested that the company was close to bringing solid-state batteries to production - a feat that could give Dyson an advantage in the global race for more efficient EVs.
Solid-state battery packs have a higher energy density and are quicker to charge than liquid cells, cooler while operating and potentially more powerful. Toyota is the only manufacturer with firm plans to introduce the technology in the coming decade, while Porsche has hinted that solid-state EVs are in its product plans. BMW has also partnered with a solid-state battery company in its effort to adopt the technology.
It is not yet known how Sastry's departure will impact on the progress of Dyson's car, which marks a leap for a brand that is best known for making household goods such as vacuum cleaners and hair dryers.
Dyson's first EV plans unveiled
The first car's development will be funded by ?2 billion from Dyson and the project has received support from the British Government. A team of 400 people is working on the project at Dyson's Wiltshire headquarters.
Dyson is keeping specific details such as performance and range secret, but the first model won't be a mass-market car like the Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf; instead, it will be aimed at a more tech-oriented market. Dyson's existing household goods tend to be more expensive than the competition, suggesting that the car's market position will be firmly in the premium segment, similar to that of Tesla.
There's no definitive word yet on where the car will be built, but Sir James recently revealed to Reuters: "Wherever we make the battery, we’ll make the car; that’s logical. So we want to be near our suppliers; we want to be in a place that welcomes us and is friendly to us, and where it is logistically most sensible. And we see a very large market for this car in the Far East.”
Dyson has a large market presence in the Far East, so Chinese production isn't an unrealistic prediction, although the car is being developed in the UK.
In the announcement of Dyson's electric car plan, Sir James took swipes at governments' push for diesels and the Dieselgate emissions scandal. "Governments around the world have encouraged the adoption of oxymoronically designated ‘clean diesel’ engines through subsidies and grants," he said. "Major auto manufacturers have circumvented and duped clean air regulations. As a result, developed and developing cities are full of smog-belching cars, lorries and buses. It is a problem that others are ignoring."
He revealed that a major aim is to reduce air pollution from cars "at the source", saying: "I committed the company to develop new battery technologies. I believed that electrically powered vehicles would solve the vehicle pollution problem. Dyson carried on innovating. At this moment, we finally have the opportunity to bring all our technologies together into a single product.
"We’ve started building an exceptional team that combines top Dyson engineers with talented individuals from the automotive industry. The team is already over 400 strong and we are recruiting aggressively. I’m committed to investing ?2bn on this endeavour."
Dyson's car will be Dyson-badged, unlike Google's Waymo project and Apple's autonomous car efforts, which are focusing on components for other cars. Dyson is not planning to seek help from other manufacturers to bring the car to production.