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1. Seat Tarraco name confirmed for future X-Trail rival21:01[−]
Seat Tarraco name confirmed for third SUV
This is a lightened version of the image Seat has released...
Seat's soon-to-arrive seven-seater, related to the Skoda Kodiaq, is named after UNESCO World Heritage Site

Seat has confirmed its forthcoming seven-seat SUV will be called the Tarraco - and the firm has released a single preview image to show its design.

The model, the third SUV from Seat following the Ateca and Arona, will be launched at the end of this year as a rival to the Nissan X-Trail. It'll be a sibling to the Skoda Kodiaq.

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.

Seats 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: Seats 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 Seats 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 Seats 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 isnt named after anywhere in Spain.

Rear more

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2. Vauxhall Insignia GSi Sports Tourer Biturbo 2018 review20:01[−]
Vauxhall Insignia GSi Sports Tourer
This is the Vauxhall Insignia GSi Sports Tourer
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 Vauxhalls 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 times absence.What is clear is that, whatever that time was, it wouldnt 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 its the slowest, heaviest version of the fastest, most exciting Insignia - but only by a small margin. On the flip side, its 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, dont you know). Theres 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 GSis 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%. Vauxhalls FlexRide adaptive damping has also been thrown into the mix, offering the choice of three driving modes: Standard, Sport and Tour.

3. Volkswagen ID Vizzion previews electric luxury saloon18:43[−]
Volkswagen ID Vizzion previews electric BMW 3 Series rival Volkswagens latest, Geneva-bound ID concept has been shown in official sketches and autonomous driving seems to take a top billing, since the car has no controls

Volkswagen has revealed the ID Vizzion in a series of sketches ahead of the cars official appearance at the Geneva motor show in March.

The saloon, a follow-up concept to the ID hatchback, ID Crozz SUV and ID Buzz Microbus concepts, shows another prong of VWs electric assault post-Dieselgate.

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 cars regenerative braking. Motors front and rear power all four wheels.

Its 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.

Its 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 its the first fully autonomous model VW has shown. A nod to those who cant drive, such as children, further confirms the cars 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, therell be more than 20 EVs in the VW line-up, with one million annual EV sales targeted.

Read more

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Volkswagen reveals revised ID Crozz

Volkswagen ID Buzz concept review

How Volkswagen plans to clean up after Dieselgate


4. Volvo XC40 gets three-cylinder powertrain; hybrid and EV versions to come17:24[−]
Volvo XC40 gets three-cylinder powertrain; hybrid and EV versions to come A raft of new powertrains are heading to Volvo's smallest SUV; full-electric model will have an expected 310-mile range

Volvo has introduced its first three-cylinder engine, which will arrive in the XC40 ahead of plug-in hybrid and full-electric variants.

The 1.5-litre unit, badged T3, follows the brands 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 companys Twin Engine branding for the electrified version, due at the end of the year.

The news coincides with Volvos confirmation that a full-electric version is coming. However, Volvos first EV will be a hatchback following the 40.2 concept of last year, meaning the XC40 EV will arrive some time afterwards as the marques second zero-emissions car.

Like the full-electric hatchback, the EV XC40 is expected to have a range of around 310 miles.

Read more

First electric Volvo to be an all-new hatchback due in 2019

New Cars 2018: What's coming soon?

Volvo and Lynk&Co plug-in hybrid tech to launch in 2018


5. Brabham Automotive car brand launched17:24[−]
Brabham Automotive launch hints at 2018 Formula 1 entry
Brabham Automotive has been launched
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.

As revealed by Autocar last year, a Brabham racing re-entry that followed the launch of a car brand would mirror a strategy employed by McLaren Automotive.

?The Brabham name has been synonymous with motorsport since 1955, when three-time F1 champion Sir Jack Brabham first went racing in F1.

Formula 1: what changes to expect from the pinnacle of motorsport

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.

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6. More powerful Renault Zoe R110 arrives with 107bhp16:01[−]
More powerful Renault Zoe R110 arrives with 107bhp 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 R90s because the R110 produces the same 166lb ft of instantly available torque. Its 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 cars 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 R110s higher power to edge its entry-level price close to ?20,000.

Alpine A110 Cup revealed ahead of 2018 racing season

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 Daimlers Smart Electric Drive models.

Renaults 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.

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7. Mercedes-Benz accused of equipping vehicles with emissions manipulation software14:32[−]
Mercedes-Benz C-Class
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.

Volkswagen engineer sentenced to prison for Dieselgate involvement

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.

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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.

Bosch created Volkswagen Dieselgate cheat software, study alleges

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.

Read more

Mercedes-Benz C-Class review

'Several hundred thousand' UK cars affected by Mercedes emissions software tweak

Mercedes-Benz S-Class review


8. National Grid plans 350kW EV charge point network14:21[−]
National Grid plans 350kW EV charge point network 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 UKs 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 neednt 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."

The Jaguar I-Pace, due in production form at the Geneva motor show next month, is claimed to reach 80% of its 310-mile capacity within 45 minutes, although no infrastructure capable of charging that quickly yet exists in the UK.

Chargemaster is currently working on the implementation of 150kW chargers for the UK, although these arent 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.

Read more

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9. 2019 Porsche 911: leaked image shows new rear design14:20[−]
Porsche 911
This is a leaked image of the next Porsche 911
Next 911 will be first available with hybrid powertrain, but Turbo models will retain combustion engines

The 2019 Porsche 911 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 todays 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.

Performance will, therefore, be scintillating. The current Turbo S's 0-62mph time of 2.9sec is expected to be beaten, while the new Turbo will duck beneath the three-second mark for the first time. Of the Porsche cars in production after the 992's launch, only the electric Mission E will be quicker off the line - although it won't join the family until 2020.

Evolved chassis

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.

Sam Sheehan and Greg Kable

Read more:

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10. 1287bhp Techrules Ren RS track-only supercar due at Geneva motor show14:10[−]
1287bhp Techrules Ren RS track car due at Geneva show
This is the first picture of the upcoming Techrules Ren RS
Chinese company has revealed a pared-back version of last years 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.

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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 cars 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 thats 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 cars canopy opening, but its single-seat layout allows for the use of a slimmer, more aerodynamic cover. Inside, theres a motorsport-specification rollcage, while the bodywork is carbonfibre.

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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. Theres 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'.

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11. Honda Civic Type R long-term review10:00[−]
Honda Civic Type R Its a warm welcome to this steaming hot hatch. But is it too fiery for Britains roads?

Why we're running it: To determine whether the most ferocious front-wheel-drive hot hatch on sale today is usable on a daily basis

Month 1 - Specs

Life with a Honda Civic Type R: Month 1

The 316bhp hatch doesnt 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 Im heading to a shoot I need space, and plenty of it, for my kit. I have to say that so far Im impressed by what Ive found in the Civic. Theres a surprising amount of room under that bespoilered rear hatch and its 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 Im often forced to remove them to free up additional space and have to find somewhere safe to stow them. Thats fine if youre blessed with your own garage in which to put such a cumbersome item, but considerably less fine if youre 20 minutes down the M1 before you remember youve left the flipping thing at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground.

So retractable luggage covers are the way forward, and what sets the Civics apart from many others is that it deploys from the side, so it doesnt act as a barrier across the width of the car when you need more space. Its one of those ideas that I can scarcely believe isnt 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, its a fairly common issue with this latest Civic. Our car has since been back to Hondas press garage, where the technicians skimmed the Brembo discs. That has alleviated the issue for the time being, but Ive been warned that it is likely to return.

Indeed, the owners manual (believe it or not, weve 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 cars performance intent, then, although in my opinion that doesnt satisfactorily explain why the Civic Type R makes it when many other performance cars do not.

Mileage: 2189

Welcoming the Type R to our fleet - 31st January 2018

Its less than two years since the previous-gen Civic Type R left our long-term fleet.

Thats precious little time in the grand scheme of a manufacturers 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 Hondas go-faster wizards to instil the foundations of hot-hatch nuttiness from the outset, whereas this Type Rs forebear was developed long after the base model.

As much as this is a new car, though, the fundamental technical set-up isnt 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 cars, 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 theres 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 drivers seat to a location aft of the rear seats, enabling the driver to be seated lower, more in keeping with what youd expect from a hot hatch.

Another change thats 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, Im a little concerned at the effect they might have on the ride. As Autocars snapper-in-chief, I rack up a lot of miles per week and its fairly important to drive a car thats as forgiving to cruise in as much as it is engaging when I want it to be.

And heres 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 cars 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 osteopaths phone number on speed dial? Whats 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, were 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 weve 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 photographers weapon, Im fastidious about appearances and expect to spend quite a bit of time and effort keeping the bodywork clean.

Its 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, theres 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 well have to accept due to the Type Rs performance intent?

Well 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 nations best driving roads.

Second opinion

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 Im 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

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12. Kia Ceed GT hot hatch due next year with i30N 'agility and playfulness'05:01[−]
Kia Ceed GT hot hatch due next year with i30N 'agility and playfulness'
Kia revealed its new Ceed last week
Hyundai N chassis guru Albert Biermann is leading development of Kias 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.

All Hyundai Group models to benefit from N?rburgring development

"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, Kias 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 cant confirm what capacity the GTs 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.

Albert Biermann on why Hyundai and Kia are performance-car-ready

Expect the trend to continue into the car's design, ensuring a more restrained look than the i30N. Expect 18in wheels, a roof spoiler and new front grille to form the bulk of the GT's exterior parts.

The Ceed five-door hatch will be the first to gain a GT model, but the shooting brake, which was previewed by last year's Proceed shooting brake concept (pictured above) and is due later this year, is also expected to come in GT form. This car would indirectly fill the void left by the previous three-door Ceed GT.

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.

More content:

Kia Ceed 1.4 TDGI 2018 prototype review

Kia Sportage UK range drops 10 variants for 2018


13. Aston Martin DB11 Volante 2018 review03:06[−]
Aston Martin DB11 Volante
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?, Astons engineers have been tweaking and amending it youll read about what theyve done for the Vantage soon enough and theyve learned a thing or two along the way.Here theyve learned how to attach a soft-top to it, rather handsomely, Id say. The key is getting enough layers in it to insulate, but not so many that its heavily pronounced. Theyre proud of how little space it takes up behind the rear seats, and how much room it still leaves in the boot. Theres a sliding divider in there, but with the roof up, and the divider out of the way, theres 206 litres of boot space, 20% more than in a DB9 Volante.Other numbers? Despite stiffening in the sills, by increasing the metals 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.

14. 2018 Peugeot 508 leaks ahead of Geneva motor show debut., 18 .[−]
2018 Peugeot 508 leaks ahead of Geneva motor show debut Peugeot's new saloon gets a concept-inspired look and a Geneva show reveal; it's been outed early on social media, though

Peugeots new 508 flagship saloon will get rear styling inspired by the Instinct concept of last year. The new car's design has been shown in new pictures that have leaked out ahead of its official reveal at next month's Geneva motor show.

Posted on Peugeot fan site Peugeot H?ritage, the pictures show that the car will feature a stylistic rear light bar like the one on Peugeot's striking 2017 concept.

The images also show that the model, which has been spotted testing on multiple occasions and is due to go on sale in the UK this November, will retain its saloon body style, with a short boot lid with incorporated lip spoiler completing a swooping line from the top of the cars roof.

The car will gain Peugeots 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 its 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 brands 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 its 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.

Read more

New flagship Citroen saloon confirmed for production

Restyled Peugeot 508 due in 2018

Next Peugeot 508 to get fastback rear and second-gen i-Cockpit

First drive: Peugeot Instinct concept review


15. Video: Range Rover SVAutobiography vs Suzuki Jimny - off-road battle., 18 .[−]
Video: Range Rover SVAutobiography vs Suzuki Jimny - off-road battle 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.

More content:

Next Suzuki Jimny to get more rugged look to emphasise off-road abilities

Suzuki e-Survivor revealed as small SUV of the future


16. Used car buying guide: Vauxhall Monaro., 18 .[−]
Vauxhall Monaro
V8 will delight. The handling can, too, in an old-school way
Fancy a big, strong V8 engine powering, often overpowering, the rear wheels of an Aussie-born coupe?? We report on the no-nonsense Vauxhall Monaro

The closure of the Holden plant in Australia last year is a blow for not only the workers but also fans of the bonkers muscle cars that, via Holden Special Vehicles, emerged from it.

In recent weeks, the last of the UKs allocation of the Vauxhall VXR8 GTS-R saloon and VXR8 Maloo pick-up have been sold.

See Vauxhall Monaro for sale on PistonHeads

So where now is a lover of HSVs 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 dont 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 CV8s 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 CV8s 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 Monaros 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 theMonaros final year but sluggish sales meant that some cars werent registered until 2007.

Today, many Monaros have been through the hands of enthusiasts keen to sharpen their cars 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 youll pay for a nice Monaro. On the other hand, the Monaro is the prettier car.

How to get one in your garage:

An experts view - MARC WALE, FOUNDER, MW PERFORMANCE: Were 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 doesnt protect it from our wet and salty winters, either. And, lets be honest, the handling isnt 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.

Buyer beware

ENGINE - Generally trouble-free. Throttle bodies on some 6.0-litre cars are known to fail. The radiator is prone to leaking on the drivers 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 gearboxs front bearing.

The gearboxs 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 cars 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 dont slide during braking and acceleration.

Also worth knowing:

Bought the Monaro of your dreams? Right, get your wallet out again. Heres 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 hes open to offers.

John Evans

Read more

Vauxhall Corsa review

Vauxhall Astra review

Vauxhall VXR8 GTS-R review


17. Specialist independent garages of Britain: why they're here to stay., 18 .[−]
Specialist garages
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

Dont 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 todays 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?

Audi:

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 its ?549. As with all Fontain servicing, its carried out using a web-based diagnostic system that covers all the Volkswagen Group brands. But its not cheap to subscribe, a Toughbook digital service PC costs ?4000 and dialing into the system costs about ?22 a day.

It means Fontain isnt 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.

BMW:

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 theyre 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. Hes a subscriber to the BMW diagnostic system and notes that its not always the same cars having the same problems.

He admits theres 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 its 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.

Jaguar:

Kevin Brackley is Jaguar specialist Chiltern of Bovingdons aftersales director. Chiltern has sold, serviced and repaired used Jags for years, and Brackley has acquired a vast knowledge.

From around 2006, its 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 cars 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 cars 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. Theres little you can do without the equipment, says Brackley. So, like the other specialists featured here, Chiltern subscribes to a manufacturer technical website. Jaguars 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 theyre 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 UKs 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 Derbys Aaron Autos can rebuild for ?175 per side inclusive, comparedwith more than ?1000 for a Renault dealers 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.

Porsche:

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 its 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 theres 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 its 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 youre willing to gamble. If the engine blows you cant 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 Chilterns 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.

Read more

BMW 5 series review

Porsche 911 Turbo review

Audi RS6 review


18. Super estate showdown: Mercedes-AMG E63 S vs C63 S vs Audi RS6 vs RS4., 17 .[−]
Fast estates showdown
Hot estates are a perennial dream garage staple
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 worlds 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 magazines road testers in the mid-1990s but the first rapid estate car it was not. BMWs 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 its a face-off between Audi Sport and Mercedes-AMG. First, well pitch Neckarsulms brand new RS4 against Affalterbachs 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 RS4s 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 cars flanks. The visual muscle seen in photographs seems to have atrophied to nothing. In fact, looking at it in situ, its hard to be certain this is the range-topping RS model, but for that modest badge in the grille. The Mercedes-AMG C63 S thats 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 isnt the only thing thats a little baffling about the RS4, though. As well see, Audis 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 Mercs 4.0-litretwin-turbo V8 is comfortably more potent than the Audis V6 in fact, with 503bhp to 444bhp its 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.

Its 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. Thats aside from an odd, occasional whining noise under full load, as though theres 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 wouldnt make you laugh if it had just spent a week parked in Billy Connollys 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 doesnt chase its nose like RS4s of old, and if you over-commit to a corner youll 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, its more playful and agile and its 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 Audis 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.

Its 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 shouldnt be able to.

The RS6 Performance can also divert torque here and there with its rear axles 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 E63s engine is angrier and harder- edged. Both motors are grizzly bears, but the Audis has had its teeth and claws filed down. And as if all of that wasnt 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, its 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 Id take the Audi. Well, looks are important, arent 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 theres 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 neednt be considered the poor mans 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 RS4s 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 Germanys 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

Read more

Audi RS6 review

Mercedes-AMG E63 S Estate review

Mercedes-AMG C63 S Estate


19. Global new car sales: the key trends and what they mean for the future., 17 .[−]
Global new car sales 2017
Volvo XC90
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 Chinas new car market.

China overtook the US as the worlds biggest car market in 2010 and last year consolidated that position with 25.7 million cars sold thats 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 months 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 wont 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 Chinas 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 wasnt 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 UKs 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 JATOs numbers suggest this isnt 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 thats 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 Nissans 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 Teslas appeal.

Chinas 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, JATOs 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, its all down to price and volume.

BMW 7 Series - 55,990 - More food for thought: theres 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 Europes 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 couldnt be exported.

Second, the industry didnt 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 Mazdas fine-handling MX-5 (nearly 40,000 units), while Porsches 718 family was also on the up.

Abarths new 124 Spider had a strong first year of full sales, claiming 10th spot, and fell only just short of the well- established Mercedes SLC. Meanwhile, Toyotas GT86 found new support as it approaches run-out years.

But, overall, the segment suffered from a drop in demand for US muscle cars, led by the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Corvette, and, in Europe, the Audi TT.

EMERGING MARKETS:

Last year was a good one for the 12 countries considered to be emerging markets, which increased total sales by 7%.

India lifted sales by 400,000 cars and rose above Germany as the fourth-biggest global market.

Emerging markets have historically suffered from volatile economies, with new car sales falling dramatically in response, but JATO suggests this may be the in the past.

This year, the battle for brand leadership among emerging markets will be intriguing. CanVWand Toyota close on market leader Renault-Nissan?

US pick-ups and SUVs: a love affair that goes on and on and on:

Last year, US car sales fell by 1.9%, driven by drops in all car segments. The only two segments that posted an increase were the top two, SUVs (+5.8%) and pick-ups (+4.8%) according to JATO.

Both segments combined accounted for 57% of total US sales, an increase on 2016.

The reasons? Low petrol prices, bigger ranges of models and local production. JATOs analysts expect this trend to continue in the coming years.

Read more

Mercedes-Benz S-Class review

Audi A3 review

Audi TT review


20. BMW 640i xDrive M Sport Gran Turismo 2018 UK review., 16 .[−]
BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo front
The new BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo
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 BMWs 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.Weve 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 dont be fooled by BMWs 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.

21. Audi TT RS Coup? long-term review., 16 .[−]
Audi TT RS Coup? The Audi TT RS has the looks, a vociferous engine and the supercar-baiting performance, but is it too uncompromising to use as a daily driver?

Why we're running it: To see if the most hardcore TT is preferable to the cooking versions and a genuine alternative to a BMW M2

Month 1 - Month 2 - Month 3 - Specs?

Life with an Audi TT RS: Month 3

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 theres a chunk that could be saved from our cars ?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.

Mileage: 3116

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Life with an Audi TT RS: Month 2

The squeaky anchor rumours are true 31 January 2018

You might have heard that the TT RSs brakes squeal. The observation was made recently in a high-profile corner of the internet, although I am inclined to agree. It doesnt happen all the time and, if you are playing Sister Morphine loud enough, you wont hear it anyway. But it is there occasionally, distant and irksome. And thats unarguably too often.

Mileage: 2054

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Life with an Audi TT RS: Month 1

Fussing with the TTs Virtual Cockpit display 17 January 2018

Christmas ought to have been the ideal opportunity to get to know the TT RS a little better, but in recollection it feels like I spent most of the time fussing with settings and screens and other peripheral nonsense.

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 thats just the tip of the iceberg.

In the TT, Audis devotion to its Virtual Cockpit system is total. The decision to sacrifice the additional pop-up screen on the centre stack ( as youd find in the current RS3) is mostly about accommodating the swoopy dashboard and its trademark vents.

And as good as the instrument cluster-based 12.3in display is, it does take some getting used to especially if youve become accustomed to fiddling with the infotainment system by means of the dial that lives beneath your left elbow.

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 youre me) you rather obsess about whats 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 engines 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 Ive spent the last few weeks staring at a real-time graph of what my right foot is doing.

On top of all this, theres the inevitable tinkering with the cars drive modes to be indulged.

In the main, the preset Comfort setting is going to be shouldering most of the everyday burden partly because the five-pot is fiery no matter what, but mostly because the RS is easily taut enough to make its more aggressive suspensions setting all but redundant on UK roads.

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 youre in the mood.

Right now, Ive 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 thats what I think at the moment.

Mileage: 1658

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.

It was the second-generation model, already equipped with the 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine but based on the older, weightier, stuffier PQ35 platform.

It was fast, of course, and very well made and easy on the eye. Yet it was acutely unrewarding to drive or so we all thought ( and said so in the contemporary road test).

Steve, though, despite being endowed with the kind of God-given talent that had no earthly need for quattros help, loved it and repeatedly said so in print.

This was all mildly embarrassing at the time, and although it changed no ones mind about the car in question, it did always leaving me wondering what the quickest TT was actually like to live with over an extended period.

Now, half a decade later, Im about to find out.

Naturally, the RS in question is a generation removed from Sutters car; based on the MQB platform and endowed now with a preposterous output that qualifies it as a supercar-worrier.

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 horizons vanishing point.

Consequently, the most pressing question was not whether Id like the car in six months, but whether Id be sick of it within six minutes.

I neednt have worried. If theres one thing you can count on, its Ingolstadts gift for shrouding you in a haze of expensively wrought contentment.

I didnt spec our car we let Audi UKs experts do that for us but I cant imagine needing anything more from the cabin: the heated Super Sport seats are clad in leather and are excellent and there isnt a surface or switch in the RS that doesnt 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 Audis Virtual Cockpit system, which means theres 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 doesnt like Apple CarPlay and (as a lowly iPhone SE user) cant 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.

But it would be churlish to claim dismay at the RSs interior: its a perfectly wonderful place to spend half the year.

The exterior is admirable, too, although it would likely have been more so in a slightly more sympathetic colour, the Catalunya red metallic (?550) being slightly too scarlet for the TTs diminutive body.

Naturally, Audi has selected the largest possible alloy wheels: 20in seven-spoke rotor design in matt titanium-look diamond-cut finish, to be exact. Id 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 dont eat cereal at all any more (it contains too much sugar) and I dont 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 UKs 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 its fair to say that thus far its rather hard to fault the RS in any meaningful terms. That will come later. Surely.

Second opinion

The TT has the dual role of showing that RS models can be keen drivers cars rather than hot rods, and that the TT itself is not simply a case of style over substance.

A tough ask, one short blasts have yet to convince me of, but nothing a long-term test cant answer once and for all.

Mark Tisshaw

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

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22. Range Rover Velar P300 2018 review., 16 .[−]
Range Rover Velar front quarter
The new Range Rover Velar P300 features a four-cylinder petrol engine
JLRs most powerful four-pot isnt the engine the Velar truly wants but perhaps the one that makes most sense You may have heard its 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 havent, heres 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, well admit, not as chic on your drive with change for 30,000 miles worth of diesel.Its enough to have you panning down the price list wondering which would be the least compelling engine you can get away with. And, frankly, theres 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. Its why wed steer clear of lesser diesel variants if possible and couldnt 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.

23. Carlos Ghosn remains Renault boss until 2022., 16 .[−]
Carlos Ghosn remains Renault boss until 2022 Ghosn will be at the helm of Renault for another four years; part of his duties will be to better integrate the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance

Groupe Renualt boss Carlos Ghosn has been tasked with making the Renault- Nissan- Mitsubishi Alliance "irreversible" by ensuring better integration, as the companys board of directors decided to renew his position for another four years.

Implementing Renaults Drive the future mid-term plan will be Ghosns main focus, with that plan ending in the same year as Ghosns 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 58.8 billion (?52bn), with an operating income of 3.8bn (?3.4bn) up 15.9%, or 523m (?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.

The proliferation of SUVs continued to help Renault, with the Captur remaining the top-selling B-segment SUV in Europe, with 212,768 registrations in 2017. The Koleos was the sixth-best-selling D-segment SUV in Europe, despite being a new entry, while the Kadjar also performed well. The Clio was the best seller in France, the Netherlands, Portugal and Slovenia, and among the best sellers in several other European countries.

Brexit found its way into Groupe Renaults 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%.

Read more

First drive: Renault Symbioz autonomous prototype

French government sells 14 million Renault shares

2017's most popular cars in Europe by country


24. New Audi A1 captured on video before 2018 launch., 16 .[−]
Next Audi A1 captured on video before 2018 launch Wholesale reinvention of Audis 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 companys 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 todays 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 brands 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 Ingolstadts supermini is the end of? the three-door bodystyle. The second-generation model, to be produced by Audis 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 A1s length to more than 4000mm and its width beyond the 1740mm of todays 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 Polos. 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 isnt expected to go on sale in the UK until the third quarter of 2018. It eschews the engine of todays 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 wont 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.?

Related stories:

Our Audi A1 review

New Audi Q3 captured before July arrival


25. Local governments to charge companies for digging up roads., 16 .[−]
Local governments to charge companies for digging up roads Lane rental schemes have been trialled in London and Kent, and are being rolled out elsewhere

Local councils could soon charge utility companies up to ?2500 a day for digging up busy roads at peak traffic hours.

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 RACs 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.

Read more

Intelligent traffic lights that cut congestion to be rolled out next year

The pothole in the Governments road repair plan

The road that charges your electric car


26. New Cars 2018: What's coming soon?., 16 .[−]
New cars 2018
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.

February 2018

March 2018

April 2018

May 2018

Summer 2018

Autumn 2018

Winter 2018

New Cars Coming in 2018:

February

Aston Martin Zagato Speedster

Retro-inspired Zagato creation will only get 28 units, and a price tag of just under ?1million apiece.

Audi RS4 Avant

Still 444bhp, but a 125bhp torque boost makes all the difference in everyday driving.

Audi A7

Tech and refinement upgrades inside, and a radical new look outside which is something of a departure for Audi.

BMW i3 facelift

Facelifted i3 has a range of between 146 and 158 miles as tested. There's a hot version too...

BMW i3S

...which gets sportier looks, a 10mm lowering and 181bhp.

DS 7 Crossback

The first premium French SUV will fight the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC. Hybrid coming the following year.

Ford Fiesta ST

Ford's handling hero returns, this time with a three-cylinder 1.5-litre engine matching the output of the previous ST200 range-topper.

Jeep Compass

Yes, another Nissan Qashqai rival. Jeep's effort aims to appease those with a greater desire to venture off-road.

Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster

Drop-top supercar now packs 730bhp with a top speed of 217mph. 3.0sec dead to 62mph.

Lexus CT facelift

Ageing BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class rival gets a refresh. Will be replaced by the UX small SUV.

Lexus NX update

Ride improvements and styling tweaks for Lexus' best-seller. Another rival to the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

A car at least partly charged with Mitsubishi's turnaround. Head-turning looks and pricing in line with rivals.

Subaru Impreza

High safety ratings and four-wheel drive for Subaru's latest Ford Focus rival. Four-cylinder boxer remains.

Volkswagen Up GTI

Volkswagen's pocket rocket harks back to the Lupo GTI and Mk1 Golf GTI. It's the final car in the GTI range.

March

Audi S7

Warm four-door coup? version of the A7.

Bentley Continental GT

Third-generation Conti gets a sharper drive and even more luxury.

BMW M5

Newly four-wheel drive, and with 592bhp on tap. It's now the quickest-accelerating BMW made yet.

BMW X2

Funky small SUV aims for younger buyers with style and C-pillar badges.

Ford Ecosport facelift

Ford aims to improve a chink in its armour with the model year 2018 Ecosport. Improved interior and new face mark it out from the previous cars.

Ford Mustang facelift

Comprehensively updated Mustang gets a boost in efficiency, and a cut in power for the four-cylinder model. Performance remains the same nonetheless.

Honda Civic diesel

Honda bucks the trend introducing a diesel in uncertain climes for oil-burners. Should prove one of the most frugal of the lot.

Honda Jazz facelift

Gets meaner styling and a 1.5-litre engine, which goes in the warm new Jazz Sport.

Lamborghini Urus

641bhp super-SUV takes just 3.6sec to reach 62mph, is the first of a new breed of mud-plugger.

Lister Thunder

208mph, 666bhp F-Type based sports car revealed in January has already accrued considerable number of orders.

Mercedes-AMG S63 Coup?/Cabriolet

Now a 4.0-litre V8 in place of a 5.5-litre, but with more power, and the same impeccable refinement.

MG 3 facelift

Supermini gets updated exterior, and an overhauled interior.

Subaru XV

Safety-conscious small-seller is built on an all-new Subaru platform.

Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport/Sport Tourer GSi

Range-topping Insignia VXR replacement will sell in relatively small numbers, but has pace on its side.

Volvo XC40

Volvo's Range Rover Evoque rival will be available to buy, or by subscription service. Already one of the best premium small SUVs on the market.

April

Audi A6

Prologue-inspired A6 will face ever stiffer competition from the executive car segment.

Citro?n C4 Cactus

Gets Citro?n's much-lauded Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension, but loses the characteristic Airbumps of the original.

Ferrari Portofino

Folding hard-top convertible is powered by a 3.9-litre, 592bhp, V8 engine that the Italian firm says can accelerate it from 0-62mph in 3.5sec.

Ferrari FXX-K Evo

More aero-honed FXX-K now produces 830kg total downforce at the cars top speed.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

697bhp and 645lb ft of torque at 4800rpm meets large SUV for all-American performance car.

Mitsubishi Shogun Sport

Huge mud-plugging SUV will be the only direct rival to the Toyota Land Cruiser.

Morgan Aero GT

8-unit run-out special to the Aero 8 will be revealed in Geneva.

Morgan Plus 8 50th Anniversary Edition

50-units complete the production run of the Plus 8, as the brand moves away from the 4.8-litre BMW V8 engine. Another to be revealed at Geneva.

Porsche Cayenne

Porsche's saviour SUV enters its third generation. Porsche says it's more like the 911 than ever.

Renault M?gane RS

276bhp appears to put Renault's world-beating hot hatch behind competitors, but rear-wheel steer should make up for it where it matters most.

Volkswagen Touareg

Still the daddy of Volkswagen's SUV range in markets where the Atlas is still something you look at in geography lessons. It'll get four-wheel drive as standard and greater efficiency.

May

Alpine A110

Renault is gunning for the Porsche Cayenne with the Alpine A110. It's mid-engined, lightweight and promises handling verve by the bucketload.

Aston Martin DB11 Volante

Drop-top DB11 will be V8 only, to make it as keen-handling as possible.

Audi Q8

Very large, dramatically-styled SUV will sit atop the Audi SUV range, based on the Q7. SQ8 version to follow.

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer facelift

BMW's first ever MPV reaches midway through its first generation, in a segment all but wiped out by the SUV segment.

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer facelift

Slghtly larger Ultimate Driving MPV in receipt of a nip and tuck, following the rest of the 2 Series' tweaks.

BMW M3 CS

3.9-sec-to-62mph M3 is BMW's fastest fast small saloon yet; only 1200 will be built.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

The replacement for UK's best-selling premium hatchback will be revealed at the Geneva motor show. S-Class tech will trickle down, too.

MG 6

Mazda 6-like MG 6 has already been revealed in China with a ZS-like look and hugely improved interior.

Suzuki Swift Sport

Feathery 970kg kerb weight and 138bhp combine to keep the Swift Sport a cult-hit handling star.

Volkswagen Polo GTI

All of a sudden, the Polo GTI becomes a Ford Fiesta ST rival. More mini Golf than ever, and that's not a bad thing at all.

Summer 2018

Aston Martin Vantage

New baby Aston gets AMG 4.0-litre V8 power to the tune of 503bhp. One of a number of cars aimed at transforming Aston into a big-hitting luxury brand.

Audi Q3

Audi's X1 rival gets the new family face grafted on the front, more tech on the inside and an increase in size to differentiate it from the Q2.

Audi A6 Avant

Estates are a dying segment elsewhere in the market, but the A6 Avant - along with its rivals - will continue to outsell their saloon counterparts.

Bentley Bentayga PHEV

3.0-litre petrol-electric hybrid will be Bentley's first electrified model. Same powertrain will be shared with a Continental GT variant.

BMW X4

X3-based SUV-coup? shifts after just four years, with the advent of the new X3.

BMW i8 facelift

Updated hybrid supercar now gets 369bhp thanks to an upgraded electric engine. Get it while you can - there's no guarantee of a replacement.

BMW i8 Roadster

Facelifted i8 also brings a drop-top version. It's only 60kg heavier than the coup?, and ditches the rear two seats.

BMW M2 Competition

More hardcore M2 looks set to get the twin-turbo six-cylinder from the M3 and M4. Picks up where the legendary M3 CSL left off.

Dacia Duster

More grown up budget SUV gets an overhauled interior and updated exterior.

Ford Focus

Stalwart hatchback will be launched mid-year, with ST variants to follow.

Ford Mustang Bullitt

Bullitt's 50th anniversary has spawned the Mustang Bullitt - Ford's third attempt at a Bullitt-themed special edition, with 475bhp and throwback styling to Steve McQueen's famous hero car.

Honda CR-V

Newly turbocharged, and larger in every direction, Honda's largest SUV hopes to rack up more sales, akin to the successful US version.

Jaguar XE SV Project 8

Deliveries for the newly-crowned four-door 'Ring king begin in July 2018.

Jaguar I-Pace

It's a Geneva reveal for Jaguar's EV challenger, which will be with customers by the summer.

Jaguar F-Pace SVR

SVR's next will be the F-Pace, which gets a 5.0-litre V8 engine and potentially, 567bhp on tap.

Maserati Levante GTS

It's been a while since Maserati produced anything new and hardcore, but the Levante is set to be the next, with a 523bhp Ferrari V8 under the bonnet.

Mercedes-AMG E53 Coup?/Cabriolet

There's 429bhp on tap from Mercedes-AMG's first performance hybrids. They're also joined by an AMG CLS 53.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class facelift

S-Class tech trickles down into Mercedes' best-selling model, and the UK's best-selling saloon car, the C-Class.

Mercedes-Benz CLS

Newly revealed third-generation CLS does without the shooting brake this time around, but maintains the style of the original.

Mercedes-Benz G-Class facelift

The G-Wagen is getting an update, with a G63 kicking off the newly spruced up tough-mudding SUV. Aerodynamics, we already know, will not be a priority.

Mercedes-Maybach S-Class

Mercedes' flagship S-Class has been facelifted, and so, in turn, the Maybach variant will be too.

Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG 004S

Glickenhaus' Le Mans car for the road packs 650bhp from its 5.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8. The few that will make it to the UK will arrive from July.

Subaru Outback facelift

Interior tweaks will make the cabin of the facelifted Outback a much more interesting place to be. Minor exterior tweaks will keep the status quo.

Toyota Yaris GRMN

Toyota's first hot hatch in years arrives in very limited numbers in summer 2018. 209bhp from its 1.8-litre engine and 0-62mph in 6.3sec, since you asked.

Autumn 2018

Aston Martin Vanquish

Next-generation Vanquish will answer to the Ferrari 812 Superfast. Considerably more than 600bhp is mooted.

Audi E-Tron

In a thoroughly modern Clash of the Titans, Audi will take on Jaguar in the electric market, with the E-Tron going up against Jag's I-Pace.

BMW X3 M

The M brand is spreading, and it's now heading for small SUV territory, as the hot SUV market gears up for battle. The X3 M will have around 425bhp, and at least five rivals by the end of 2018.

Citro?n Berlingo Multispace

Citro?n's third-generation van-based MPV - its second-best seller worldwide - gets a new SUV-like look, new front-end underpinnings and a host of driver assistance systems.

Dallara Stradale

Motorsport outfit is to produce its first ever road car - it'll cost around ?163,000 for UK customers when the first examples arrive in October.

Isuzu D-Max facelift

Isuzu's workhorse will be refreshed for 2018, with styling, interior and technology tweaks. As the class heats up, Isuzu may have a fight on its hands.

Kia Ceed

The Ceed is germinating into a whole family of models including a shooting brake and SUV. The hatchback remains at the core of the range, though.

Mazda 6 facelift

Handsome saloon is updated with tweaked styling, handling and ride, while the interior has been given more upmarket tech.

Mercedes-AMG GT four-door saloon

600bhp launch version will eventually sit below a super-hybrid with 805bhp. We smell a 'Ring record attempt.

Porsche Macan facelift

SUV handling hero reaches its mid-life stage, and there are new turbo V6 engines on the way, as well as a tweaked interior.

BMW X5

Up to 600bhp in M-badged form, but entirely more conventional down the rest of the range. Gets a more X7-like look - could be divisive.

Hyundai i30 Fastback N

Hyundai's fast fastback is coming, with all the talents of the hatchback and a little more practicality.

Kia Niro EV

Soft launch for Kia's second EV, with the Niro EV going on sale as a powertrain option, rather than an all new model.

Land Rover Discovery SVX

Mud-plugging SVX promises go-anywhere ability with a 517bhp V8 engine thrown in for good measure.

Range Rover Velar SVR

Sister car to the Jaguar F-Pace gets a performance-focused SVR variant. 542bhp and 502lb ft of torque, in case you're wondering.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class saloon

A-Class saloon will fight the Audi RS3 saloon and ever-rumoured BMW 1 Series saloon, if the latter ever comes to Europe. AMG versions to follow.

Seat Cupra Ateca

The Cupra Ateca has been swirling around for a while now, but the performance SUV is coming, and just in time for things to get cold again. Likely to be the first Cupra spin-off-brand car.

Winter 2018

BMW 8 Series

BMW's new flagship with a not-so-new name. This version will actually get the supercar-baiting M8, though. Six and eight-cylinder petrols and diesels for the rest of the range, and a V12 coming later.

Jeep Wrangler

Jeep's old-school SUV is getting thoroughly modern with a hybrid variant and new tech.

Audi RS5 Sportback

Same 444bhp engine and 125lb ft hike, but five doors.

Audi A1

Audi's aiming squarely for Mini with the A1, which moves to MQB for greater refinement, handling and quietness.

Audi SQ8

Hot hybrid version of Audi's future flagship SUV.

Citro?n C5 Aircross

Citro?n's Nissan Qashqai rival arrives at the end of the year, with the brand's Progressive Hydraulic Cushions suspension. Another with a hybrid version to follow.

Honda CR-V hybrid

Honda's back on the hybrid hype after cutting the Insight some years ago with a petrol-electric CR-V.

Hyundai Nexo

Hyundai's second FCEV will be another SUV, but will be a stand-alone model rather than a Tucson variant this time. It's been previewed in concepts, but will likely be toned down for production.

Hyundai Kona-E

An EV version of the Kona will follow the standard versions in 2018, as Hyundai ramps up its charge into alternative fuels.

Hyundai Santa Fe

Fourth-generation large SUV puts a focus on technology, with a host of standard driver assistance, safety and convenience systems.

Infiniti QX50

The first car with a variable compression ratio engine, Infiniti promises all the talents of petrol with all the efficiency of diesel. Eureka.

Range Rover coup?

Super-luxury, SVO-built two-door coup? will hit UK shores by the end of 2018, as an eventual follow-up to the Range Stormer concept of 2004.

Mercedes-AMG GT facelift

A power hike is certain, although it'll likely not match the E63 S's 603bhp. Exterior tweaks will be ever so subtle.

Mercedes-Benz GLE

Mercedes' mid-sized SUV will arrive in time for Christmas. The 4.0-litre AMG 63 won't.

Morgan EV3

Morgan's three-wheeled, first full-electric series production car gets a range of 120 miles, and will be available to customers from late 2018.

Renault Alaskan

The Renault Alaskan has already been pushed back once, but Renault's first pick-up is penned in for a 2018 launch.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Another brand's 'first' SUV, although you can bet your Phantom that this'll be more expensive than any of those.

Seat seven-seat SUV

Seat's seven-seater has been coming for a while now, and it'll either be called Alboran, Aranda, Avila or Tarraco.

Skoda Fabia facelift

Skoda's supermini gets a new look, new tech, new interior and - gasp - no diesels.

Skoda Kodiaq vRS

Another entrant into the fast SUV market, this time it's Skoda throwing its name into the mix. A diesel engine with lots of torque is reported to be under the bonnet.

Subaru Forester facelift

Rock-solid SUV gets the same treatment as the Outback, with interior tweaks taking precedent over minor exterior changes.

Vauxhall Corsa GSi

Vauxhall's supermini gets the warm treatment in answer to the Ford Fiesta ST-Line. VXR isn't dead, insists Vauxhall, but there are no further models planned just yet.

Volkswagen Passat facelift

Venerable Volkswagen estate and saloon will be facelifted at the end of 2018. Expect the usual raft of efficiency, interior and exterior revisions.

Volkswagen T-Cross

Volkswagen's SUV offensive continues with the Polo-sized T-Cross. Nissan Juke and Renault Captur are in the T-Crosshairs.

Volvo XC40 Twin Engine

Volvo's plug-in hybrid small SUV is coming from the fourth quarter onwards, with the brand's 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine mated to a supplementary electric motor. An EV arrives in 2019.

What cars are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments section below


27. 2018 Ford Focus spotted completely uncovered ahead of spring reveal., 16 .[−]
2018 Ford Focus
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 Ford Focus 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 programmes similarity to the Fiestas is no surprise, since the project is now under the management of Fords small-car guru, Darren Palmer, whose team recently delivered the new Fiesta, Ka+ and a dramatically improved Ecosport B-segment SUV.

New cars 2018: what's coming soon?

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 cars 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 companys 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 companys 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 cars global credentials and pay homage to the firms hometown. However, the new Focus is expected to land after the Geneva motor show in late spring before sales commence.

More content:

Future Ford models to be more region specific


28. Opinion: why don't people have a phobia of cars?., 16 .[−]
Plane
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. Theres 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, Im surprisingly relaxed about this.

And then I wake up, as confused as hell. The aeroplanes whirr is still constant and were still cruising at 38,000 reassuring feet. A few minutes later, I doze off again and wouldnt you know it? were 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 thats dreams for you.

Why does the mind do that? Why does my unconscious self decide its 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 Ive even done it it doesnt.

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 its 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, Ill 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 worlds 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 killers 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, Id choose to drive somewhere myself than be flown there, even given the prevailing statistics, because when Im in a car, Im in control. Thats it. Thats the rationale: Im in charge. And thats bonkers, isnt 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?

Read more

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29. Next Porsche Cayman GT4 to stick with naturally aspirated flat six., 16 .[−]
Next Porsche Cayman GT4 to stick with naturally aspirated flat six
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 GT3s 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 Porsches 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 weve started with that strategy with the GT3, lets 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 wont 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.

2017 Porsche 911 GT3 video review


30. Vauxhall Corsa GSi confirmed for late 2018., 16 .[−]
Vauxhall Corsa VXR
The Vauxhall Corsa GSi will be less rorty than the Corsa VXR (pictured) for real-world performance
A warm Corsa is coming, with a GSI badge and more everyday levels of performance than the hardcore VXR model

Vauxhall will launch a warm, GSi-badged Corsa later this year to rival the Ford Fiesta ST-Line, as the Corsa celebrates its 25th birthday in the UK.

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.

Vauxhall has no plans for more VXR models, but says that it will use the badge again - GSi is not its replacement, but a warm version, with the relationship of the two similar to Audis S and RS-badged cars.

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 its 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.

First deliveries are expected in late 2018.

Read more

Vauxhall Corsa VXR review

Ford Fiesta ST-Line X 2017 review

252bhp Vauxhall Insignia GSi priced from ?33,375 in the UK

587bhp Vauxhall VXR8 GTS-R - full specs of brand's most powerful car


31. New Volvo V60 leaked ahead of Geneva motor show reveal., 15 .[−]
New Volvo V60 leaked ahead of Geneva motor show reveal
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.

The V60s design was clear to see through the heavy camouflage, with obvious reference to larger models in Volvos line-up which were styled by former Volvo head of design - now Polestar CEO - Thomas Ingenlath. An S60 saloon will arrive soon after and both will go on sale in early 2019.

The BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class rival is likely to share engines with the XC60 SUV and will be built on the same Scalable Product Architecture as the rest of Volvo's large model range.

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. Its 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, its 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.

Read more

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32. Vauxhall Corsa EV to be launched in 2019., 15 .[−]
Vauxhall Corsa EV to be launched by 2020 Vauxhall and Opel, now owned by PSA Group, will launch their first EV before the end of the decade a zero-emissions Corsa that shares a platform with other PSA superminis

An electric Corsa will be launched in 2019 alongside three other electrified models, Vauxhall and Opel have announced.

The two brands' first fully electric car is expected to be their top seller as they step up their electrification plans under new owner PSA Group.

The regular Corsa will enter production in the Zaragoza plant in Spain, according to Vauxhall and Opel, with the electric variant following closely behind.

The electric Corsa is part of Vauxhall and Opels wider electrification strategy, under which every model will be electrified in some way by 2024. A plug-in hybrid Grandland X is also planned.

The next Corsa will likely be built on the same architecture as the next Peugeot 208 and Citro?n C3. A product planning slide that surfaced last year showed PSAs intention to produce an all-electric 208 as its next zero-emissions model (its first being the Ion).

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 208s ranges comfortably above 200 miles.

The Corsa was previously Vauxhalls 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.

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33. Porsche champ secures top BTCC Honda drive for 2018., 15 .[−]
Dan Cammish BTCC
Dan Cammish will race a Honda Civic Type R in this year's BTCC
Double Carrera Cup GB title winner Dan Cammish will drive Team Dynamics Honda Civic Type R

Double Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion Dan Cammish will race for the Honda-backed Halfords Yuasa Racing team in this years Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

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 Dans standing to help the team challenge for overall honours this year, said Neal.

BTCC 2017: driving Honda's 360bhp Civic Type R racer

Dan has been successful in every championship he has competed in over the years. Hes 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

Cammishs signing means most of the top seats on this years 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. Hell be joined by race winner Tom Chilton.

Another addition to this years grid will be an Alfa Romeo Giulietta, which will be fielded by HMS Racing and driven by race winner Rob Austin.

The 2018 season begins at Brands Hatch in Kent on 8 April.

Read more

New Alfa Romeo Giulietta BTCC racer unveiled

2018 BTCC calendar released

Brands Hatch 2017: Subaru's Sutton wins title

BTCC 2017: driving Honda's 360bhp Civic Type R racer


34. Faraday Future previews smaller electric SUV., 15 .[−]
Faraday Future previews smaller electric SUV The FF91 is the brands flagship, so the new model will sit below it. The troubled company will benefit from $1.5 billion investment

Faraday Future has previewed another electric SUV, which will sit below its flagship FF91.

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 brands 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 its likely that the smaller car will have a shorter range, with its more compact dimensions cutting down on space for batteries.

Dag Reckhorn, Faraday Futures global manufacturing boss updated a room of 200 supplier representatives on the brands 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.

Read more

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35. Mitsubishi Outlander diesel 2018 review., 15 .[−]
Mitsubishi Outlander diesel
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 theres the question of price. Youll 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 doesnt 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 isnt uneconomical, either. Combined with four-wheel drive and an automatic transmission - as our test vehicle was - itll 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.

36. 2018 Geneva motor show preview., 15 .[−]
2018 Geneva motor show preview The biggest motor show of the year is almost here. Take an early look at whats on the way

The Geneva motor show is the largest event on the motoring calendar by a long way.

This year will be no different as the worlds car industry and media prepare to descend upon Switzerland from 8-18 March to see the latest supercars and mass-market models.

More and more cars are confirmed for Geneva every week, so heres what we know is coming so far:

Geneva motor show 2018 - the cars

Audi A6

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 its likely to follow in the Prologue-like look of the A8.

Audi E-tron

Its a race between Jaguar and Audi to see who can get their electric SUV on sale first, but theyll both be revealed in production form at the Geneva show. Weve already seen both in concept form and neither is due to stray far from their concepts flavour.

Bentley Bentayga PHEV and Bentayga V8

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 M8 concept

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?.

BMW X4

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 Automotive high performance GT

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.

Ferrari 488 'GTO'

Ferrari's tight-lipped on any details about the new, more hardcore version of the 488 GTB, but rumours of it being badged GTO and Speciale have been circling. The timing of the latest leak, of the car at a dealer event, all but confirms its appearance at Geneva.

Ford Edge

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 Ka+ facelift, Ka+ Active

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 CR-V

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.

Honda Urban EV, Sports EV

Honda's duo of retro-styled EVs are heading for Geneva, with the Urban EV planned for production next year and the Sports EV coming the year after.

Hyundai Kona Electric

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.

Hyundai Santa Fe

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 Zerouno convertible

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.

Kia Cee'd

We got a pretty good idea of what the next-generation Cee'd will look like from the Forte saloon that was revealed in Detroit. Kia's all-new Focus rival will be revealed in five-door hatchback and estate forms at Geneva, with shooting brake and SUV variants due to arrive later.

Jaguar I-Pace

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; its set to be the first direct rival to the Tesla Model X in the UK, but it wont be on the market alone for long, with the Audi E-tron arriving imminently afterwards.

MAT Stratos

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.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class facelift

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-Maybach S-Class

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 508

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.

Polestar 1

Polestar's first model, the Polestar 1, will be on show at the Geneva motor show as the car begins its publicity tour of the world.

Range Rover SV coup?

Remember the Range Stormer concept of 2004? Probably not, but it was basically a three-door Range Rover Sport that never made it out of the concept stage. Its back, though, having been confirmed by the brand with an interior preview shot, as an SVO project with a quarter-million-pound price tag. The brand has now

Lexus UX

Weve been waiting for the production version of Lexus first small SUV since the brand revealed its UX concept at the Paris motor show two years ago. It looks like Lexus will finally show its Jaguar E-Pace rival at this years Geneva show as the luxury small SUV segment explodes.

McLaren Senna

Weve already seen the Senna it was revealed at an event for customers at the brands Composite Technology Centre in Sheffield but the Geneva motor show will be the cars first public display. It has 660bhp, weighs 1198kg and is claimed to be the quickest-lapping production McLaren yet.

Mercedes-AMG G63

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-AMG GT four-door

Mercedes-AMGs answer to the Porsche Panamera is almost upon us, a year after the GT concept was revealed. Well be seeing the production car at this years Geneva show with a 604bhp V8 under its bonnet. An 805bhp petrol-electric hybrid powertrain will come later.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Mercedes has achieved a lot with the A-Class - its 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.

Morgan Aero GT

The Aero 8 is being discontinued, and the Aero GT, a motorsport-inspired version of the retro-styled sports car, will make up the final eight units in its production run. The aerodynamic bodywork additions are described by the company as drastic.

Morgan Plus 8 50th Anniversary

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 8s ?85,461 starting price, though.

Pal-V Liberty

The self-proclaimed 'world's first commercial flying car' will make an appearance at Geneva, as the brand continues its publicity assault on the automotive industry. The ?425,000 flying vehicle will be delivered to first customers at the end of the year.

Rimac Concept Two

Rimacs second model, following the electric Concept One, will be even more luxurious, faster and more exclusive. It wont be called Concept Two. It has been described by the brand as "a true game-changer".

Seat Cupra Ateca

Its 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.

Skoda Fabia facelift

Skoda's facelifting the Fabia after four years on sale, with a design overhaul promised. It's got a new look, new tech from larger models, and not a single diesel engine in the lineup.

Skoda Vision X

A 2019 small SUV is previewed in the lurid green-coloured Vision X concept, which also features a hybrid powertrain ahead of the brand's imminent adoption of hybrids. It's likely to remain largely unchanged for production, akin to other recent Skoda concepts.

Subaru Viziv Tourer concept

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.

Toyota's race car concept

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.

Volvo V60

One year after the XC60 was revealed, its estate sibling, the V60, will be revealed. It's the first glimpse we'll get at Volvo's new 60 series of cars, which will be completed by the S60 saloon, following the V60 a few months from its reveal. Both will go on sale in the UK in early 2019.

Zenvo's new hypercar

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...


37. Promoted: Ford Focus RS vs Escort RS Cosworth., 15 .[−]
Fords two iconic hot hatchbacks may be separated by 20 years, but they share a philosophy for Ford Performance that spans the decades

Theres 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 theyre 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.

Learn more about the Ford Performance range at https://www.ford.co.uk/fordperformance


38. 2018 Kia Ceed revealed: revamped hatch takes aim at Golf., 15 .[−]
2018 Kia Ceed revealed ahead of Geneva motor show unveiling
The new Kia Ceed
Kias rival to the Golf and Focus is due at Geneva motor show alongside an estate version; a shooting brake is expected later this year

Kia is taking a direct aim at the Volkswagen Golf with the new Ceed, which it claims will be the most high-tech car in its class when UK sales commence this autumn.

Revealed ahead of a public debut at the Geneva motor show next month, the five-door hatchback is the first from a new family of Ceed models that will also include an estate, which is expected to be shown alongside the new hatchback in Geneva, and a shooting brake that's due in 2019. Beyond that, an SUV is due to complete the line-up.

Autocar has already driven a prototype 2018 Ceed. Click here to read the review

Although now outsold by the Sportage and Sorento SUVs in Britain, the Ceed remains a key contributor to Kias 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 cars 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.

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Built on Kias latest K2 platform and developed at the brands 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 thats been honed on European roads, including some tuning in Britain.

Albert Biermann, the boss of vehicle testing at Kia's parent company Hyundai Motor Group and the man behind the new Hyundai i30N hot hatch, said to "expect a good step up for driving fun, precision, agility and so on compared with the previous Ceed" during a conversation with Autocar late last year.

Autocar has already driven a prototype 2018 Ceed. Click here to read the review

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 cars 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 Ceeds 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 cars 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 cars 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, isnt 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.

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39. 2019 Toyota Supra statistics leaked: 1496kg, 335bhp, 0-62mph in 3.8sec., 15 .[−]
2019 Toyota Supra statistics leaked: 1496kg, 335bhp, 0-62mph in 3.8sec
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.

Also shown is rendered styling of Toyotas forthcoming sports car model, which is returning after an absence of 16 years. The images of the Best Car pages first appeared on fan site SupraMkV.com. The best hints we've had of the car's styling come from a preview image of a Geneva-bound, motorsport-themed concept, as well as images of the car in development.

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. Its 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.

Its 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 Toyotas 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.

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40. BMW 'confident' it can win solid state battery race., 15 .[−]
BMW i3
BMW's electric i3 has recently been updated; it has an NEDC range of 186 miles
BMWs 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 BMWs 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.

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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.

Toyota and Panasonic look into automotive battery business

Im confident with where we are at, Robertson said. Solid state batteries are already working in the lab, but bringing them to production is proving incredibly difficult.

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41. New Citroen Berlingo Multispace gets SUV influence, extended variant., 15 .[−]
New Citro?n Berlingo gets SUV influence, extended variant Citro?ns second-best-seller worldwide has been revealed ahead of the Geneva motor show, with new engines and a new front-end platform

The 2018 Citro?n Berlingo Multispace has been revealed ahead of its debut at the Geneva motor show next month.

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 brands SUV offerings.

The Berlingo Multispace, which is the brands 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 wont 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 Berlingos 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. Theres 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 PSAs Grip Control two-wheel drive traction control system.

No considerable price change is expected, although the cars ?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.

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42. 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class tests in production bodywork for the first time., 15 .[−]
2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class tests in production bodywork for the first time 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 cars 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.

Mercedes driver assistance systems boss Christoph von Hugo told Autocar earlier this year that 2020 would see some Mercedes cars be able to handle critical situations, such as urban streets and junctions. The S-Classs role as the brands most luxurious model leaves it as the top candidate to get this tech first.

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-Classs 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.

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43. Throwback Thursday: 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL road test., 15 .[−]
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL front
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.


44. Mercedes-AMG GT four-door: official test pics reveal more styling., 14 .[−]
New Mercedes-AMG sports car
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 Moers will 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 todays 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 AMGs 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-Benzs entry into the electric Formula E championship in 2018/19 will boost AMGs development of hybrid and electric powertrains for the future, according to the company's development boss, Drummond Jacoy.

The firms 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 well align with the Formula E project, said Jacoy. The entry is very recent, very now, and weve not sorted out exactly how its going to work but there will be a close link to us as AMG.

Read more


45. Ineos Grenadier: prototypes due in 2018 under new engineering deal., 14 .[−]
Ineos Projekt Grenadier
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. Wed 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.

Weve gone into this decision with eyes wide open, Crotty said when asked about Brexit's impact. It really doesnt 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 were 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.

Were 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. Were looking at everything and havent closed anything off. Id be very surprised if a diesel option wasnt part of that."

Crotty also confirmed that the SUV will have a traditional chassis, rather than a monocoque, and it will be relatively low-tech, unlike Land Rovers forthcoming Defender replacement, which is due on sale in 2019.

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 wont be a lookalike. It wont 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 worlds 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 were crazy because were not in the car industry, he said. Theres risk in everything you do, but we can manage that risk. We are manufacturers; we know what were 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 companys move to make its own model.

This is a fantastically exciting project, Ratcliffe said. We want to build the worlds 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 JLRs 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 JLRs response was neutral. There have been no great fallings out just sensible conversation, he said.

Were not out to produce a copy; were out to produce a new vehicle that is filling a space that the Defender used to fill.

Rachel Burgess and Doug Revolta

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46. Why won't some car firms call an SUV an SUV?., 14 .[−]
Rolls-Royce Cullinan
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.

Theres no shame in that; a firm making cars that the public wants to buy isnt just good business practice, its 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 cant drive over the Severn Bridge during high winds.

Meanwhile, Ferrari has spent ages denying it was making an SUV despite everyone pretty much knowing it is. And that's apparently because the company's going to label the model an FUV. Thats a Ferrari utility vehicle because, well, because.

Lamborghini at least admits that its new Urus is an SUV, although it insists on calling it a super sports utility vehicle a moniker that the somewhat bonkers design helps it pull off.

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, its 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 Maseratis marketing line for the Levante: the Maserati of SUVs. Genius. It basically says: its an SUV, but its also a Maserati, so its okay.

Lets face it: if people are in the market for a premium, ultra-luxury SUV, wouldnt 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?

Read more

Rolls-Royce confirms Cullinan name for new SUV

Autocar's top 10 luxury SUVs

Opinion: why the Lamborghini Urus SUV makes perfect sense


47. 370bhp Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition lands as hardcore swansong., 14 .[−]
370bhp Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition lands as hardcore swansong 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 Ovals current all-wheel-drive mega-hatch, which goes out of production on 6 April.

The Focus RS Heritage Edition comes equipped with the models 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 cars 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 engines 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 RSs 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 brands 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.

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Ford Focus RS driven at Spa-Francorchamps


48. Used car market remains strong as uncertainty looms., 14 .[−]
2017 UK used car market declines 1.1% despite instability
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.

Read more

Used car buying guides

Autumn Budget 2017: diesel tax hike confirmed

The death of diesel? Not if commonsense can prevail

Ten affordable future classics on the used car market right now


49. Subaru Viziv Tourer concept to preview future WRX estate., 14 .[−]
Subaru Viziv Tourer concept to preview WRX estate
This is the first picture of the Viziv Tourer
Big-boot version of Viziv concept will be revealed at the Geneva motor show

Subaru has released an image of a new concept called the Viziv Tourer that will be revealed at next months Geneva motor show.

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 Tourers 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 Subarus 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 Subarus 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 Subarus intention to make WRX driver-centric will negate the fitment of fully autonomous functions in this models line-up.

Power for top-end variants of the WRX, previewed by the recent Viziv Performance STI concept, will likely come from turbocharged boxer engines, used for their lower centre of gravity and the benefits that brings to handling. This also draws obvious links to Subarus iconic models from yesteryear.

However, other versions of the WRX family could use more conventional in-line four-cylinder engines, as hinted by company design chief Mamoru Ishii to Autocar late last year. He suggested boxer engines were not essential ingredients for many Subaru customers, while also hinting that electrification could play a part in hybrid variants.

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50. Dyson plans three-car EV range., 14 .[−]
Dyson plans three-car EV range Second and third cars will follow a low-volume first model, as the brand looks to penetrate the car industry from 2019

Dyson is planning second and third EVs beyond its first model, with the models being planned for higher-volume production than the first car.

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 brands solid-state battery executive, Ann Marie Sastry, left the company in late 2017. Its unconfirmed if the two decisions are linked.

Rival EV maker Tesla has faced great difficulty in keeping up with deliveries of the Model 3, its mass-market-oriented and cheapest model.

Battery executive departs firm

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.

Insight: why is Dyson launching an electric car?

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, well make the car; thats 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.

"Weve 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. Im 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.

Read more:

Insight: why is Dyson launching an electric car?

Flashback: Sir James Dyson on what cars really need

Dyson car: former Aston Martin product development director joins Dyson

Dyson denies electric car rumours

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