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Coup? and convertible receive a 542bhp twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre engine that's good for 198mph
The new Bentley Continental GT V8 has been revealed in both its coup? and convertible forms, with the firm claiming it will be the “most agile” example of the grand tourer produced to date.
The new model swaps the standard third-generation Continental GT’s 664bhp 6.0-litre W12 engine for a 523bhp twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8. This gives it a 42bhp power boost over the previous Continental GT V8.
The powertrain makes 568lb ft of torque, giving the coup? a 0-62mph time of 4.0sec and a top speed of 198mph. The convertible has a 0-62mph time of 4.1sec and an identical top speed. Both versions feature an eight-speed automatic gearbox, with quad sports exhausts that Bentley says produce a “characterful V8 burble”.
Bentley claims the new model, which is lighter than the W12 version launched last year, will be “lively and engaging” to drive and have a touring range of more than 500 miles. The ride and handling has been tweaked for the V8, with lightweight anti-roll bars at the front and rear. Bentley’s Dynamic Ride System adaptive chassis control is available as an option.
The model remains four-wheel-drive, with the system sending power to the rear wheels as standard for maximum efficiency.
The Continental GT V8 models are identifiable by quad exhausts and V8 badges on the front wings. The car sits on 20in wheels as standard, with optional items ranging up to 22in.
The interior features leather seats offered in a monotone colour split, a new walnut fascia – with other woods available as options – and a 10-speaker Bentley Audio system.
The Continental GT V8 will go on sale in the US later this year, with deliveries in the rest of the world, including the UK, starting in early 2020. Bentley has yet to confirm pricing for the new model, but it's likely to be cheaper than the ?159,100 starting price of the W12 model.
Fisker's SUV will slot into the same price and performance band as the recently revealed Tesla Model Y
American start-up company is due to launch futuristic model with near-300-mile range in 2021
American start-up company Fisker has released details of an electric SUV that's set to launch in the second half of 2021.
The announcement comes just four days after the unveiling of theTesla Model Y, a new seven-seat electric SUV with a range of up to 300 miles.
Like the Model Y, the as-yet-unnamed Fisker will be priced from less than $40,000 (?30,200) in the US. It features what the firm calls “captivating design touches that have been traditionally reserved for supercars in the past”.
Confirmed styling details include a front-mounted radar in place of a grille, a large front air intake, flared wheel arches and a futuristic headlight design.
Performance details haven't been revealed, but an 80kWh lithium ion battery pack is claimed to provide of a range of nearly 300 miles. The car will be available in four-wheel-drive form with an electric motor mounted on each axle.
Fisker hints at the presence of a targa-style removable roof section, stating that “with the touch of a button, an extended open-air atmosphere will be made possible without compromising the rugged and safe structural integrity of an SUV”.
It also claims the interior will offer class-leading space and feature a large head-up display and an intelligent user interface.
Henrik Fisker, company founder, said the new model will take the form of “a desirable, luxuriously rugged and green vehicle that’s accessible to people across the US and the world”.
It's not yet confirmed where the new model will be produced, but Fisker said prototype testing will begin before the end of this year.
Last year, Fisker unveiled its Emotion electric luxury saloon, claiming a top speed of 161mph, four-wheel drive and range of 400 miles, plus Level 4 autonomy.
The company is also at work on developing solid-state battery technology, which it says would allow its vehicles to gain 500 miles worth of charge in as little as one minute.
You name ’em, I’ve lived a life lucky enough to have got behind the wheel of ’em, with the slightly perplexing exception of a Lamborghini, the keys to which always elude me. I imagine your hearts are bleeding as you all reach for your violins.
But (and I write this in the full knowledge that your eyebrows are about to soar up your forehead, shortly to tumble again as you conclude that I’m clutching a large paper envelope stuffed full of fivers) the first slot in my dream garage is now reserved for the Peugeot 5008.
This is not a joke, nor some misguided attempt at humility, but in fact something I’ve been pondering for the past 7500 miles or so at the wheel. I am certain that I am right: the 5008 is – undisputedly – the most fundamentally capable, quietly joyous family transport that I’ve had the pleasure to run, buoyed both by its inherent capabilities and qualities and the fact that its badge carries no baggage.
I’ll admit that when Peugeot’s styling folk announced they were reinventing their largest MPV as an SUV, I rolled my eyes – it sounded like a recipe for a car that fell into a gap between two clearly defined slots, or the sort of marketing sleight that makes my blood boil. Then I started noticing more and more 5008s on the road. And I liked what I saw.
Design is, of course, subjective, but I reckon the 5008 is bestowed with a presence that makes it known without any need to be shouty. The details are many and varied, but if I had to pick one I think it would be the vertical slotted rear headlights, which are distinctive without veering into some of the blinking slot-machine kitschness that certain German marques mistake for looking premium (in my humble opinion).
Inside, Peugeot’s design team ups its game again. It’s slightly ironic that as brand stable-mate DS fights to establish its interpretation of an upmarket but non-German look, Peugeot seems to be showing it the way – combining traditional materials with neat, non-leather touches. It is amazing just how much flourishes such as the fabric inserts lift the interior ambience.
And what an interior it is in terms of flexibility and space too. The tape measure indicates that the Peugeot can be fractionally outpointed in some dimensions, but real life suggests that you never need more than it gives, even when we travelled either seven up, or stuck to four and threw everything we could lift into it. The individually sliding middle row of seats and floor bins below them stand out as clever touches.
Our engine choice was spot on, too, even if it did take time and experience for me to believe it. A three-cylinder, 1.2-litre petrol engine pulling a seven-seater sounds ridiculous – and passengers who I would drop that piece of information on while they were in the car (I know, I know, my sparkling conversation needs work) would usually pull a face equally as ridiculous. It is smooth, refined and powerful enough, and while 34mpg doesn’t sound too special, it was certainly harmed by the majority of my miles being in thick urban traffic.
It is, I think, the best small-capacity triple out there – and the auto ’box suited it too. Notably, I also think I’d choose this combination over what would have been a default diesel selection even as recently as a year ago. Yes, the latter would be considerably more economical, but the upfront price premium of around ?1500 depending on discount would take a lot of miles and a seriously punchy resale value to recoup. And that is before you evaluate your environmental priorities.
I’ll concede that the all-round driving experience is decent without being dazzling. Some enthusiasts might rail immediately at that, pointing out that no amount of positives should outweigh this humdrum verdict. I humbly remind them that this is a seven-seat SUV, and that there are plenty of supposedly sporty hatchbacks that fail to excite these days.
Yes, there are cars that are as capable (the Skoda Kodiaq I ran before the 5008, for instance) and there are cars whose design can also lift your mood (any Land Rover), but none combines both facets in a package that is as affordable and jaunty as this. There is no better Peugeot, and I struggle to think of any other vehicle – the supposedly ‘perfectly pitched’ Golf included – that nails the upper end of aspirational mainstream car ownership so well.
So, pole position in my dream garage? Why not? I’ve always believed that the first answer to that question should be a car that can do everything, so it gives you permission to buy others that merely do some things. The person who quickly responds by saying ‘ Ferrari 458 Speciale’ might be very wise indeed… right up until the point they take their family on holiday. You get my point, I’m sure – and, yes, my second car would be an Alpine A110. But there’s no need to fit life around the 5008, because it slots into it so perfectly.
Live with the 5008 for a bit and you soon get the sense that you’re going to miss it when it’s gone. It just makes life easy. So much so that I took this one round to a friend in need of such a car for a nose around. He promptly bought one.?
Has anyone lost a mouse? We think we might have found it - 13th February 2019
How much should you forgive a car? Or, perhaps more pertinent, how much should you forgive a car that’s just six months old?
I pose this question because the 5008 has developed a squeak – or maybe a subdued roar – between the steering wheel and the steering column. Wind on a lot of lock quickly and it makes a sound that is either like a mouse that’s got the cheese or the young offspring of Chewbacca learning to roar, depending on your point of view.
It kept us amused for a while, trying to think of how to describe the noise in print. Foolishly, a little bit of me hoped the fact that its arrival had coincided with the cold snap was somehow relevant, and that it would pass. I suppose it has been either cold or very cold these past few weeks, but alas even the balmiest of winter’s day has made no difference.
My mileage is just more than average, at nearly 7500 in six months, but I don’t see this as a valid excuse. So how annoyed should I be? I’ve bought white goods that have squeaked from day one and learned to ignore the issue. But, by the same token, I once bought an expensive washing machine whose makers were so determined to justify its premium that they were happy to send someone round to fix it for free nine years after it first arrived. That’s a lot of spin cycles, although I guess a steering wheel does more.
The answer may lie in working out just how significant an issue this is. Do I break out the WD40 and attempt a self-fix of what might be the most trivial of lubrication issues, or do I follow the letter of the law and take a few hours out to visit my nearest dealer lest something altogether more sinister be happening under the cowling?
Whatever I conclude, it is, of course, a great pity that anything has gone wrong, however minor. Peugeot’s reliability record was once the source of many a desperate, smacked hand on face, and the Reliability Survey of our sibling title What Car? offers few glimmers of hope. But what’s clear is that it has improved on the latest generation of models such as this.
It is occasions like this that remind me why Toyota sold so many cars even when its model line-up was so uninspiring (which is not the case now, may I stress before the phone rings). Car enthusiasts though we are, and thereby more likely to forgive the odd foible or overlook deficiencies, regarding them as characterful (an affliction that pretty much sums up all my love for the new Suzuki Jimny), there is nothing more infuriating for the average car owner than a reliability or quality issue.
The deal when you buy a new car is, not unreasonably, that it runs faultlessly for at least three years. That said, the car I drove before this, a Skoda Kodiaq, born from the Teutonic womb of the supposedly quality-obsessed Volkswagen Group, actually did leave me stranded, when the battery gave up the ghost after a succession of short journeys. Nor was that incident a one-off.
Back then, I’d have swapped a squeaky steering boss for having to catch the bus on a couple of cold, dark nights, that’s for sure. Stand by for an update: perhaps the fix can offer some perspective.
Inside Job If there’s a more characterful yet classy interior than this in the MPV world, drop me a line.
Shrunken glovebox Right-hand-drive conversion means a tiny glovebox. It’s an all too visible sign of cost saving.
The 5008 is an ergonomic delight… in most ways. The seats are supportive and it’s easy to get comfortable. All the switches are intuitive. I usually hate touchscreens but Peugeot’s is decent enough. But the placement of the USB socket at the back of a dark, cavernous cubby is beyond frustrating. It’s a small issue but a constant source of irritation.
If there’s one task guaranteed to needle you, this is it, even with a spacious SUV - 5 December 2018
Tis the season to be jolly. Tra-la-la-la-lah, deck the halls and raise a glass to my namesake (alas, not relative, given the royalties presumably pouring in right now) Noddy Holder, famed singer of 1970s supergroup Slade, notable for hits including Merry Xmas Everybody.
But for all this bonhomie, there is something that kills my Christmas cheer quicker than discovering someone has forgotten to put the nutmeg in the egg-nog: the potentially quite ruinous journey to collect the Christmas tree.
While your mind may be racing ahead and wondering what risks could possibly be involved in such a mundane task, it is only the journey to and from wherever we buy the tree to which I’m referring. The issues, of course, revolve around the needles. On reflection, there is a hint in their name as to their potential for jeopardy, although it is not only their propensity for jabbing you in the face that needs addressing.
For starters, collecting the tree tends to be a family event. So that’s both the front and two of the middle seats spoken for. Add in the tree and this brings its challenges, albeit ones that highlight once again that the Peugeot is a cut above a lot of the opposition.
Rearmost seats down, it has 822 litres of space, versus the Skoda Kodiaq’s 720. That’s a decent advantage – and above average for the class – but it’s still not enough for anything more than the most pathetic of trees, the likes of which are never going to be signed off once your overexcited kids realise they can put the angel in place simply by standing on their tiptoes.
What to do? Well, the 5008’s middle row of seats splits 40:20:40, leaving you with two options, the most practical of which is to drop the middle seat and substantially expand your load length. Yes, the kids will likely injure themselves on the aforementioned needles and rapidly become unruly as a result, but the threat of their displeasure turning into an argument is greatly reduced because of the spike-covered tree trunk that separates them.
But if you favour happiness over practicality, by far the best option is to tell your ‘other half’ to go shopping and catch the bus home when she’s done with buying socks. Not only is this better for her mood, but it also gives you a chance to shuffle the kids next to each other, drop one of the side seats in the middle row and fold the front passenger seat flat (a neat trick that is increasingly an option on cars with an eye on practicality).
Behold, the 10ft tree that you and the kids really wanted all along can be yours. Hooray for the commodious Peugeot and its clever seats.
However, as sure as a fun-packed Christmas lunch is followed by the Queen’s speech and a 20-year old Bond film, so there must be some words of caution in this homage to the 5008’s load-carrying capabilities – and again it relates to those needles.
Someone will write in and say that age and experience should have taught me what’s to come after you have had a Christmas tree in your car but, well, you do it only once a year and, yes, I have the memory of a goldfish.
As such, I never, ever remember to take a sheet or some-such on which to lie the tree. And, as a result, I always end up with a car full of needles, which will both pierce my trousers and litter the car for months to come.
The 5008 offers little protection, the boot covering being no more than a flimsy, carpet-covered folding base that lets itself down both by grabbing needles into its weave so they won’t vacuum up and by displacing easily from its covering duties so the needles fall into the underfloor storage area where the seats stow. Once there, they are nigh-on impossible to liberate from the nooks and crannies that lie below, remaining like the relative who won’t go home.
Three-pot marvel The 1.2-litre triple continues to be a revelation for how it delivers enough power in a smooth and refined manner.
Touchscreen bias I’m still in two minds about the effectiveness – and thereby safety – of predominantly touchscreenbased control systems.
Advancing technology is going to change the car more in the next 10 years than the past 100, we are told. But I defy the geeks to come up with something more effective than the old-world system Peugeot employs to raise and lower the boot-mounted rearmost seats. You tug on a fabric cord to raise the seat and pull on another one to lower it. Simple.
Pug doesn’t need colour to stand out - 7th November 2018
How do you find out if a car has stand-out design? Park it in a huge car park, forget to look at the helpful signs reminding you where you parked and then return a few hours later. You might think a brown SUV would blend in, but thanks to the chrome roof rails and lower door accents, finding it was the work of moments.
Can this accomplished SUV take the rough with the smooth? - 24th October 2018
Once upon a time, I clung on to the belief that it didn’t matter how an MPV drove, so long as it delivered men, women and children, plus the occasional dog or wardrobe, from point to point as easily as possible. Then I drove a Ford S-Max.
For while it’s true that how an MPV drives is less of a priority than for your regular hatchback buyer, it is amazing the difference being in a dynamically decent car makes. The mundane drive becomes enjoyable, challenging surfaces an aside and the very worst of our roads need raise no more than a quizzical eyebrow.
The difficulty is that you tend to get used to the positives, and set them as your minimum benchmark. What a car does well is taken for granted, and anything that aims at the same mindset but falls below that standard is a disappointment.
Now, as I move on to the Peugeot 5008, you might rush to remind me that it is definitely, absolutely not an MPV. Peugeot has gone to massive lengths to stress its metamorphosis from people carrier to sports utility vehicle. So, even though the term multiple-purpose vehicle (MPV) might well apply to either genre, Peugeot is absolutely certain that the 5008 is an on-trend SUV.
And so the pressure ramps up, because I’d argue that, in that philosophical shift, there’s an added imperative to make the car better to drive. The S of SUV stands for sports, after all, and while I’m (just about) clever enough to realise Lotus won’t be rushing to recalibrate the Evora after a spin in the 5008, that S-Max benchmark still looms large in my mind. To meet its brief, the 5008 has to be dynamically engaging.
Now, almost 4000 miles in, I’d say the 5008 delivers something that is satisfactory without ever bringing any of the sizzle that the very best drivers do, despite the best efforts of the smaller than average steering wheel delivering some directness to the experience. And – sound the klaxon – it is particularly key that you don’t upgrade your wheels to the 19in options if you want it to retain composure at all times.
On a smooth road surface it is absolutely at its best, delivering close body control and pliancy while satisfactorily insulating you and your friends from the worst effects of tyre roar and wind noise. For long motorway journeys that’s just perfect, but throw in some bigger bumps, an irregular road surface or a combination of corners and that composure is challenged.
That makes hustling the 5008 an unlikely pastime, even if it does grip surprisingly well for such a tall car. Nor does the Sport toggle add anything to the mix, offering no more than increased engine noise and perkier throttle response.
But does any of this leave me not wanting to recommend the 5008? Even in Autocar, home to the car enthusiast, no. There are better SUVs (and, hush, MPVs) to drive, but only marginally so. The shortcomings are there, but never strongly enough to unravel the compelling case built up by myriad positives for this car.
ROBUST FURNISHINGS The elegant, characterful interior is withstanding the worst that the kids are throwing at it, from crumbs to spillages.
NAVIGATING NAVIGATION The sat-nav is very good, but functions including postcode input could be more easily found.
I’ll accept the numbers do little to dispel the awkward glances and shuffling from toe to toe. Peaks of 131bhp and 170lb ft do not set the pulse racing. A 0-62mph time of 10.4sec might even lead you to wonder what this car is doing in Autocar.
The point being, of course, that the engine, diminutive though it may be, complements the car perfectly.
I write that with absolute confidence because, in the past month, I’ve driven the 5008 about 2500 miles. I’ve enjoyed everything from town commutes to seven-up 75-mile round trips to 250-mile runs fully laden with the family. All on a variety of motorway, A-road, B-road and whatever comes next in line down the food chain in the piddling lanes of Devon and Pembrokeshire.
Not once – not even fully laden and pulling out from a standstill with a large truck bearing down – have I wanted for performance, or had to modify my usual driving behaviour.
With shifts governed by the six-speed auto, it’s a slick, capable performer that mixes with the flow of traffic without any more compromise than a mild intrusion of noise on the rare occasions that you push it beyond about 2200rpm.
This is a truly special powertrain – and more than good enough to banish for ever the need to add the caveat “…for a three-cylinder” when talking about it. In this area at least, Peugeot ( and Citro?n) may well have developed a unit that is industry-leading, although the folk at Ford might quibble.
The one lingering concern I had when taking collection of the car was around fuel economy. As diesel has been demonised over the past year or so, it has become apparent that a large proportion of car buyers have gone on-trend and bought a petrol car, only to discover that what they bought doesn’t cover the number of miles to the gallon they hoped for. Which, of course, is both inevitable and why diesel makes so much sense in certain circumstances.
If I’m honest, not so long ago my default advice to any seven-seat SUV buyer planning to cover many out-of-town miles would have been to buy diesel. Now I’m not so sure – although the financial equation still hinges on just how many miles you cover (and the emotive one on which pollutant, NOx or CO2, you are most concerned about).
This 5008 is averaging 33.0mpg. I don’t have an equivalent diesel comparison (having not driven one as many miles, in the same way) but I do know that, over 12,000 miles in a diesel Skoda Kodiaq, I averaged 39.7mpg. Very roughly, that means that every mile in the 5008 is costing me around three pence more in fuel than Skoda’s diesel.
While that sounds like it could add up, a comparison of this petrol 5008 and the equivalent 1.5 HDi diesel list prices and discounts suggest a ?1500 premium for the latter – a difference that I’d need to drive 50,000 miles to pay off. The difference if you choose to lease, however, is much slighter, because there appear to be some very enticing offers on the diesel out there at the moment. That suggests there are dealers keen to offload the diesels in the current climate, or that there is a greater confidence in the resale values of diesel versions of the car. Given the uncertainty, it is also possible that both could apply.
The conclusion I’d draw is that it’s a fluctuating market, and that the answer may change at any given time. But on experience so far, if you plump for this petrol-engined 5008, you won’t be disappointed.
AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION Some say you should save money and opt for the manual. I reckon the auto makes the driving experience seamless.
EAR-PIERCING ALERTS Dare to step from the 5008 with the key still in the ignition and the ensuing audible alert is loud enough to wake the neighbours.
Struggling for storage space - 19th September 2018
Is there a smaller glovebox than the 5008’s? Presumably as a result of taking the path of least resistance for the conversion to right-hand drive, there is just enough room for the ownership manuals plus, maybe, an actual pair of gloves. The unusually deep and long central storage unit compensates. It’s also air-conditioned, so the salad in your sandwiches stays crisp.
I’m a big fan of underfloor storage in cars: it’s out of sight and therefore more secure, it is still accessible and oddments can be packed in so that they don’t rattle around. Full marks to the Peugeot 5008, which features several commodious hideaways and cubbies, living up to its carry-anything family brief.
And, before you write in, I know that sounds an odd thing to say about any car, let alone a Peugeot, but it is absolutely true. It is because this 5008’s cabin is a joy to be in and look at. Everything that you first see and touch is not only great in terms of perceived quality but interesting too.
There’s the dark faux-denim cloth that breaks up the plastic surfaces. The digital dash display. The ‘piano keys’ that operate the infotainment functions. The gearlever for the auto ’box, which looks and feels designed, rather than just plonked in. I could go on.
It’s pleasing, too, that this Allure trim is just one step up the four-strong range, which starts with Active and ends with GT Line and GT. It is described by its maker as “the ultimate in understated luxury” and, while that statement is (inevitably) laden with a touch of marketing hyperbole, I’m struggling to think of a mainstream family car that looks better inside or out.
Styling features include tinted rear windows, trim enhancements and additional chrome flourishes. All of them look good. Throw in the extra kit it adds too, including a rear-view parking camera, upgraded sat-nav and various driver assistance systems, and it makes for a highly competitive proposition.
Even so, some context might be needed to fully explain my excited reaction. The Skoda Kodiaq from which I stepped was many great things, but its interior was as rigorously functional as the Peugeot’s is interesting. Both work in their own way, but inevitably my reaction was exaggerated by the contrast. Already, you’ll start to understand why the chance to live with these two seven-seaters back-to-back is going to be such a fascinating test.
Consequently, I’ll confront one of the prejudices that is flitting through your mind now (I know you’re thinking it because it popped into my head) – namely, that my joyous reaction to getting into the 5008 is going to be short-lived, because Peugeot means French, which means style over substance and flaky build quality. Skoda, meanwhile, means Volkswagen, which means German build quality.
Sorry, but I don’t buy it. Stereotypes are usually rooted in fact but also tend to last long beyond them being factually accurate. While the Skoda was largely trouble-free, I did have an issue with the battery that left me stranded more than once. Every Peugeot I’ve driven in the past five years – including a year spent in a 308 SW, which I found to be a very fine if not quite class-leading car – has been trouble-free.
Ownership surveys provide a more mixed view; in most, Skoda outperforms Peugeot. I am a sample size of one but, rather than leap to conclusions, let’s see how this test goes.
Nor is it just the cabin ambience that has won me over, although it is the standout surprise from my first few weeks in the car. As you might hope in a large SUV, the cabin is spacious and well laid out. The kids, so often hard to please, piped up without prompting how comfortable they are in both the rearmost and middle rows of seats. The tape measure suggests they are right.
The engine, too, is a surprise, although in the sense that it remains a critical point of interest. You don’t need to be that old to look at a seven-seat SUV powered by a 1.2-litre engine to think that it is a combination that will never work. The world has, of course, moved on, and what’s evident already in these first few hundred miles is that it works just fine: linked with the auto ’box, it’s smooth and capable enough, and the 10.4sec 0-62mph time isn’t so pedestrian as to be a nuisance.
The question marks are around what cost this has on fuel economy, occasionally refinement and the linearity of acceleration. Unladen and around town, 40mpg looks possible, but out on faster roads the concern is that it has quite a thirst. More testing will answer that particular question.
To drive, the 5008 has been decent, if not startling. The deliberately small steering wheel takes some getting used to but, thanks to my height, doesn’t obscure the dash (for normally proportioned people it could) and actually forces you to adopt an interesting, wristy steering style. In terms of engagement with the road, there’s little, but that’s the norm these days, while the ride seems mostly decent, only turning brittle and unsettled on the most broken of surfaces.
These are the chief criticisms that held it back from scoring more than a (still strong) 3.5 stars in its Autocar road test, but my suspicion is that when the destination is 200 miles away and the wife, kids and luggage are on board, it may not be my first priority. Again, we’ll see, because no Autocar reader is going to thank me for recommending a car for its ambience and practicality alone.
An intriguing six months lie ahead, then. The latest car launched by a marque should always be its best, but already I suspect this 5008 could be the firm’s very best in many years.
On first acquaintance – a 200-mile motorway and B-road drive – there was lots to love about the 5008. But I couldn’t help having half an eye on the fuel meter for this low-capacity petrol car. It was dropping at a faster rate than my diesel-dominated life has come to expect.
Fuel consumption and range: Claimed economy 54.3mpg Fuel tank 56 litres Test average 34.6mpg Test best 39.8mpg Test worst 30.1mpg Real-world range 426 miles
Tech highlights: 0-62mph 10.4sec Top speed 117mph Engine 3-cylinder, 1199cc, turbocharged petrol Max power 126bhp at 5500rpm Max torque 170lb ft at 1750rpm Transmission 6-speed automatic Boot capacity 780 litres Wheels 19in alloy Tyres 205/55 R19 Kerb weight 1430kg
Service and running costs: Contract hire rate ?350 pct CO2 120g/km Service costs None Other costs None Fuel costs ?1140 Running costs inc fuel ?1140 Cost per mile 15.2 pence Depreciation ?7024 Cost per mile inc depreciation ?1.08 Faults squeaky steering wheel
Porsche's first EV is expected to launch with a 310-mile range and 80% fast-charge time of just 15 minutes
Tesla rival will be revealed later this year; promises better performance and range than any other Volkswagen Group EV
Porsche has released new images that reveal more of the upcoming Taycan electric saloon ahead of the model's full unveiling at the SeptemberFrankfurt motor show.
Despite the prototype's heavy camouflage, its front end can be seen to bear a heavy resemblance to the current 718 Cayman and Boxster sports cars. The "soul, electrified" slogan featured on the windscreen and bonnet is representative of Porsche's intention to produce a competitive electric sports car without losing sight of the brand's heritage.
Test cars spotted last month showcase styling heavily influenced by the original Mission E concept, as well as a charging port in the car's right front wing. Details such as a retractable rear spoiler, advanced regenerative braking system and Tesla-style retracting door handles can also be seen.
Late last year, officials revealed the Tesla Model S rival had entered the second phase of prototype production at Porsche's headquarters in Zuffenhausen, on the outskirts of Stuttgart, Germany.
The Taycan is the first in an extended line-up of electric models being developed in a programme budgeted to cost up to ?5.3 billion through to the end of 2022. It marks a radical departure from Porsche’s traditional line-up, bringing zero-emissions running together with the promise of what the new car’s lead engineer, Stefan Weckbach, describes as a “typical Porsche driving experience”.
When it goes on sale in the UK, the Taycan will be positioned between the ?55,965 Cayenne SUV and ?67,898 Panamera five-door coup? in a move that will set the scene for the introduction of other new electric Porsches, including a mid-engined sports car in the mould of the existing 718 and an SUV similar in size to the Macan.
Autocar can confirm the Taycan will be offered in two bodystyles, with the standard saloon planned for right-hand-drive delivery in Britain in early 2020 and a higher-riding estate-cum-crossover model, previewed by the Mission E Cross Turismo concept, arriving in showrooms in 2022.
Among the key rivals for the new Porsche is the Tesla Model S, which was used as an initial benchmark during the early phases of the Taycan’s development. However, Weckbach acknowledges the model will also compete against a host of other upcoming electric offerings, including the E-tron GT from sister brand Audi and the Mercedes-Benz EQS.
As evidenced by the latest prototypes fitted with production-based bodywork, the styling of the Taycan draws heavily on the well-received Mission E concept shown at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show. Although every detail and body panel has been altered on the way to production, it remains faithful in appearance and overall visual character and detailing to the concept, whose design is credited to Porsche’s former head of exterior design Mitja Borkert, now head of design at Lamborghini.
Taking full advantage of the packaging advantages inherent in its drivetrain layout, the Taycan combines the fundamental short-nosed proportions of traditional Porsche models at the front with the stretched proportions of modern front-engined models towards the rear, providing clear design links to existing models.
One major departure from the earlier Mission E is the adoption of sturdy B-pillars and four front-hinged doors in a measure aimed at increasing body rigidity. At the rear, the Taycan also receives a short notchback-style boot lid housing a full-width light band that provides access to one of two luggage compartments. The other is under the bonnet and claimed to have a capacity of nearly 100 litres.
The Taycan is around 4850mm in length and 1990m in width, making it 199mm shorter but 53mm wider than the Panamera. By comparison, the Model S is 4975mm long and 1965mm wide.
More than one bodystyle due
The initial saloon and crossover are just two bodystyles created by Porsche designers for the Taycan. Others not yet revealed to the public include two-door coup? and cabriolet proposals, the likes of which insiders at the German car maker’s headquarters say could be added to the line-up, if demand warrants it, once production capacity is freed up.
The basis for the Taycan is the J1 platform, a high-strength steel, aluminium and carbonfibre structure designed to house battery modules of varying sizes as low as possible within the confines of a long wheelbase. This will also underpin the E-tron GT in a move aimed at increasing economies of scale.
Significantly, the platform has been conceived exclusively as a dedicated electric vehicle architecture, with Weckbach confirming it doesn't accept a combustion engine. It does, however, form the basis of a more versatile structure being developed in an engineering programme between Porsche and Audi called the Premium Platform Electric (PPE).
The interior of the Taycan is described as providing a typical 911-style driving position up front and two individual seats with adequate space in the rear. Prototype versions sighted by Autocar at Porsche’s Zuffenhausen factory reveal the otherwise entirely flat floorpan of the J1 structure features two sizeable foot wells to increase rear-seat accommodation.
The technology behind the Taycan
The Taycan is powered by an electric drivetrain with a permanent magnet synchronous motor housed within each axle, in a layout that provides it with four-wheel drive capability.
Porsche chose synchronous motors against the asynchronous motors favoured by Audi due to their ability to provide strong sustained performance at high energy density levels – characteristics it says are key to the car’s development aims.
The electric motors are similar in design to the unit employed on the petrol-electric hybrid driveline used by the Le Mans-winning 919 Hybrid, with a solenoid coil featuring rectangular, rather than round, wiring.
This has enabled Porsche to package the copper wires within the solenoid coil more tightly together to make the electric motors smaller than they would be using more conventional round wires. A similar solenoid design is being considered by BMW for the motors in the production version of its Vision iX3 concept car, which is due out in 2020.
In a move aimed at imbuing the Taycan with the sort of rear-biased handling traits that have characterised Porsche models through the years, the two electric motors have varying outputs, with the one at the rear more powerful than the one at the front. A torque vectoring function on both axles also regulates the amount of drive sent to each individual wheel.
A rear-wheel-drive version of the Taycan, featuring a single electric motor on the rear axle, is also currently undergoing production as part of a planned 200-strong fleet of prototypes and pre-production examples. Sighted by Autocar on the production line in Zuffenhausen, it's expected to be offered from the start of sales as part of a multi-tiered line-up similar to that of other Porsche models.
The channelling of drive is handled by a two-speed gearbox - a choice that also differs from the single-speed gearboxes used by most electric cars. This has been chosen for its ability to provide a second gear for sustained high-speed performance, which Porsche considers crucial if its new electric car is to make a mark on typical Porsche customers.
Porsche plans to offer the Taycan with a number of different power outputs in a strategy not dissimilar to that of Tesla with the Model S, which comes in 75D, 100D and P100D guises. Nothing is confirmed, but officials suggest variants with up to 402bhp, 469bhp, 536bhp and, at the top of the range, 603bhp are being developed, but it remains to be seen whether they will all be offered for sale over the car’s planned seven-year lifecycle.
In range-topping four-wheel-drive 603bhp guise, the Taycan is expected to eclipse the 3.5sec 0-62mph time announced at the unveiling of the Mission E, placing it on a similar performance plane to the 911 Turbo for acceleration. Although the top speed has yet to be announced, it's claimed to be “well over 200kmh [124mph]”.
One factor Porsche is pushing heavily in the lead-up to the launch of the Taycan is its ability to provide what it describes as reproducible performance.
“Drivers won’t need to worry about throttling performance,” said Weckbach. "The Mission E will offer reproducible performance and a top speed that can be maintained for long periods.”
Electrical energy used to run the electric motors is stored in a battery that uses cells supplied by Korean company LG. The capacity of the lithium ion unit has yet to be revealed, but Porsche is sticking to earlier claims that the Taycan will have a range of up to 311 miles.
The Taycan's charging set-up
A retractable body element located behind the Taycan's front wheel arch provides access to the charging port. Porsche is also working on inductive charging, although it won’t be drawn on whether it will be available as an option from the start of sales.
Porsche has developed an 800V charging system for the Taycan to fulfil an early pledge that its first electric model would be fast not only to drive but also to recharge.
"With the 800V technology, it can be recharged in just over 15 minutes for a range of around 400km [249 miles], so it only takes about half as long compared to today's systems," said Weckbach.
As well as providing fast charging, the 800V system allows the Taycan to use a lighter and more compact wiring loom than if it had chosen a more widely used 400V system – all apparently without any crucial safety concerns. Despite this, the car is still expected to tip the scales at more than 2000kg.
Even so, Porsche is convinced the Taycan will bring lofty new dynamic qualities to the electric car ranks.
“The underfloor battery gives the Taycan a very low centre of gravity – even lower than with the 911," said Weckbach. "It drives like a Porsche, looks like a Porsche and feels like a Porsche; it just happens to have a different type of drive”. Weckbach added that the saloon also has a 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution.
Although the Taycan isn’t expected to break the N?rburgring electric car lap record of 6min 45.0sec held by the ultra-low-volume 1341bhp Nio EP9 hypercar, a good deal of recent prototype testing has taken place there as Porsche continues to engineer the car to production maturity. Insiders say it should be good for a lap time at the legendary German circuit – still considered the ultimate test of any new car – of less than 8min.
As well as concentrating its engineering efforts on honing the Taycan to deliver the sort of steering feel and chassis characteristics of its more traditional combustion engine models, Weckbach said Porsche has also spent a lot of time on the programming the electric motors and brakes to deliver the response and feel it thinks buyers will expect of the car.
In a development brought over from Porsche’s more recent combustion engine models, the saloon will use four-wheel steering as a means of balancing low-speed manoeuvrability around town and high-speed stability out on the open road.
Weckbach said: "We’ve been testing the prototypes for quite a while now. The very first vehicles, in an early phase of development, were already showing the driving characteristics you’d expect of a Porsche. They felt right at home from the beginning. And a lot has happened since then.”
Production of the Taycan will take place on a dedicated ?617 million site established at Zuffenhausen – the same facility that has produced the 911 since 1963. Original sales estimates announced at the unveiling of the Mission E in 2015 expected it to sell at around 20,000 units per year, or roughly 8% of Porsche’s total annual sales, based on the 246,000 cars it sold in 2017.
Porsche confirmed production capacity for the Taycan is set for between 20,000 and 25,000 per year on a two-shift basis, but that volumes could be significantly increased if demand warrants it through the addition of a third shift and contingency plans that could lead to the Taycan being produced in other Volkswagen Group factories.
BMW to supply petrol and diesel engines for back to basics 4x4, the first official details of which have been confirmed by the company for the first time
Ineos Automotive has confirmed its Projekt Grenadier will use BMW-sourced petrol and diesel engines in the first of a series of upcoming announcements around its upcoming hardcore 4x4.
The new model, created by the Ineos chemical company owned by Britain’s richest man Jim Ratcliffe, will be revealed in 2020 before going on sale in mid-2021, the company has confirmed to Autocar.
A whole host of different variants, bodystyles and wheelbase lengths of the new model are planned, as part of its brief to fill the void of the original Land Rover Defender as a back to basics 4x4 that’s a spiritual successor to that car.
Around 25,000 units a year for the company is the ultimate production goal across its various derivatives, and Ineos believes it can be profitable at that level despite Land Rover not having a business case for the previous Defender which was just below those levels. Mark Tennant, Projekt Grenadier commercial director, said this was no vanity project for Ratcliffe, and that the project would be judged internally against the same profitability criteria as Ineos’s other businesses.
After the BMW powertrains, the exact specification of which are yet to be revealed, the next announcement is set to be around where the model will be manufactured, with a desire for the model to be built in Britain. Ineos isn’t ruling out using an existing site to build Projekt Grenadier, although Honda’s Swindon plant is considered too large and Ford’s Bridgend plant is not geared up for car production. It is ensuring it plant has greater capacity should its 25,000 sales target be exceeded, said Tennant.
Projekt Grenadier, the production name for which is due to be revealed this summer after a public competition to name it ends, will be built on an Ineos-designed and built steel ladder frame chassis, with aluminium body panels. Solid live front and rear axles will feature along with permanent all-wheel drive to help give the car its target of best in class off-road performance, while remaining as light as it can be and retaining credible on-road performance.
The engineering of the car has been outsourced to German engineering firm MBtech. Around 150-200 MBtech engineers are working full-time on it, with another 40-50 Ineos engineers embedded in the project. One mule has been built and has been testing around the Austrian Alps since last June.
Ineos will work with partners, including BMW, on some areas of the project, but will design, develop and build for itself in other areas, including with the chassis as there is not an off-the-shelf ladder frame that can meet the project’s requirements. Ineos also plans to build the manufacturer the car itself rather than use a contract manufacturing company, including developing its own tooling.
While the project may have been born out of a desire to fill Land Rover’s void, the project has evolved into a significant entity in its own right. The brief has evolved to trying to do what the original US Army Ordnance Spec Jeep could, in being tough off road and easy to repair. Rivals such as the Toyota Hilux and Jeep Wrangler are mentioned by Ineos, which hints at both the kinds of bodystyles it will offer and its pricing is likely to be in the high ?30,000s to low ?40,000s as a starting point.
Ratcliffe, an engineer by trade, has stated that the car must be capable and durable, with a good design, while remaining affordable.
As for its powertrains, Projekt Grenadier will not use electrified technology at first, but does have its eye on future EU7 emissions regulations. It will not use plug-in hybrid technology due to the unnecessary weight it adds, but is watching closely the development of fuel cells in particular. A diesel is still considered crucial in Europe initially as that’s where the market remains for such vehicles. An automatic transmission is likely due to its greater robustness but not yet confirmed.
Styling wise, Tennant said that it would “not be on trend as another jelly mould crossover SUV” and Ineos would “move away from the homogenised vehicles that ultimately give less choice”. The very nature of its narrow width, short wheelbase, wheel at each corner and flat glass design mean it will be a boxy 4x4 with real off-road purpose, but Ineos is still working hard on giving it a design character of its own with a face and lighting signature.
“It won’t be an alternative to an SUV, it’s putting the utility back into that,” said Tennant. He said it would be built for purpose with everything functional, and was designed to be a working tool with real credibility in markets such as Africa and Australia, and for use by non-government organisations. It would be designed with easy maintenance in mind, and to work on lower quality fuels that it might encounter in more remote places.
The interior will also be functional in its design, with drain plugs and hose down materials. Chunky rubber will feature inside, and leather will only be used if it’s the most durable and functional material. Cabin ergonomics will be greatly improved over the original Defender, too.
A whole series of aftermarket options are under consideration to give even greater customisation to the model, including removable body panels. The business model will be similar to FCA’s Mopar in this regard.
A full-size clay model exists and is currently being honed and finalised before being imminently signed off. Ineos has worked with an outside design company in Stuttgart on the look of Projekt Grenadier but has also consulted with a big-name major car designer, too.
The company will sell its models direct where it can, as with its global spread of sales across multiple variants, the actual amount of each model sold in each market will be quite small. Initially, Ineos plans a launch in Europe for its first new model, with other ‘rest of world’ markets, the likes of Africa and Australia, to follow. A US launch is further off due to the different regulatory requirements, while a Chinese launch is not being committed too for now due to the challenges of entering the market.
In the future, Tennant is not ruling out other cars or vans from Ineos, but the long-term focus would be on getting the Projekt Grenadier and its derivative each launched successfully around the world.
Event, taking place on 19 June, recognises 100 British women who are the rising stars of the motoring industry
Nominations have opened for the 2019 Autocar Great British Women in the Car Industry – Rising Stars event, which celebrates rising female stars in the automotive world.
The ground-breaking annual industry initiative, which is in its fourth year, will recognise prominent female rising stars at the Awards event taking place on Wednesday 19 June.
Run in partnership with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Autocar’s Great British Women in the Car Industry – Rising Stars event honours the achievements of future women leaders across the breadth of the automotive sector.
Autocar recognises the top 100 rising women in the industry from a host of categories (listed in full below) including Sales, Marketing, Manufacturing and Vehicle Development, with one overall winner taking home the top award.
New for 2019, the New Mobility and Digital Solutions category encourages nominees who work in a role which may not have existed 10 years ago, with a focus on jobs that are subject to change in the business, whether that be digital or technical innovation. Another category, for apprentices, celebrates women who are just starting their career in the industry.
Haymarket Automotive managing director Rachael Prasher will return to lead the judging panel for Autocar’s Great British Women in the Automotive Industry. She will be joined by a mix of industry experts including Jim Holder, Mark Tisshaw, Steve Cropley and Rachel Burgess from Autocar’s editorial team and the SMMT’s chief executive, Mike Hawes.
Haymarket’s Rachael Prasher said: “The buzz we managed to generate around last year’s Great British Women event stands as a testament to the spotlight that is being shone on the wider discussion around women in the workplace at the moment. Last year we saw a great list of hugely talented females lead the way on the ‘Great British Women’ list, and we expect to see just as high a calibre of ability among the names of those put forward for the 2019 Rising Stars edition of the Awards.
“By selecting these rising stars in key sectors across the automotive industry, we are showcasing the future of the automotive world, which is constantly moving and developing. We are all really excited to see the candidates put forward for the 2019 Award and to find out more about the brilliance of their work in the industry.”
The SMMT’s Mike Hawes said: “It is a great privilege for SMMT to be so closely involved with Autocar once again for its Great British Women in the Automotive Industry – Rising Stars initiative. The automotive industry is rapidly evolving so manufacturers need to harness all the talent and ability they can get, inclusive of all diversities and genders.
“Recognising such talent, as we do through the Great British Women – Rising Stars programme, helps to highlight the progress the automotive industry is making in regards to technological advancements as well as workplace diversity.”
Since launching in 2016, Autocar has alternated its Great British Women event each year to recognise both the most influential women in the industry and rising stars.
Last year Citro?n Global CEO Linda Jackson was named as the most influential British woman in the automotive industry, ahead of a host of highly respected category winners including Jaguar Land Rover chief product engineer, Elizabeth Hill, and Helen Emsley, design director of General Motors-owned brands GMC and Buick.
Nominations for this year’s Awards must be registered by 23:59 on 17 April, and can be submitted by candidates themselves, or nominated by their peers.
The shortlisted winners will be revealed at the ceremony in central London on Wednesday 19 June. The afternoon ceremony will run from 1.30pm to 5.30pm and feature presentations from key industry figures (to be announced soon), a panel debate and networking session.
Space for the event is strictly limited, with priority given to winners and past winners. However, a limited number of tickets should be available. Anyone interested in attending the event should contact Autocar at email@example.com.
The latest LSDs have electronically activated clutches instead of mechanical ramps which compress the plates and lock the differential
We take a look inside the crucial component in any performance car's drivetrain
One of the great unsung heroes in any decent performance car is a limited-slip differential (LSD). Sometimes essential, a ‘slipper’ will almost always make a quick rear-wheel drive car more involving to drive. When Alfa Romeo launched the new driver-focused Giulia and Stelvio last year, there were two new limited-slip ‘diff’ options on offer: traditional mechanical or electronic with torque vectoring.
A differential is a mechanical analogue computer, an infernal machine both complex and simple at the same time, without which cars just couldn’t work at all. When a car rounds a bend, the outside wheel on each axle has to travel farther and spin faster. A differential allows that on each driven axle while still transmitting torque to both wheels – so no freewheeling. At its heart is a small cluster of conical-shaped bevel gears, and it’s these that allow the two sides of the axle to rotate at different speeds when they need to.
There’s an inherent weakness, though, and when driving hard a performance power struggle kicks off. Grip is never exactly equal at each wheel due to things such as weight distribution, road surface conditions and even tyre pressures. Despite apparently holding all the cards, the wheel with the most grip has the worst bargaining power, and torque takes the easy route to the wheel with least grip. If the grip on one side is poor enough, the wheel will spin and little or no drive torque will go to the other – and if it becomes airborne, all drive is lost.
To plug that loophole an arbitrator is needed to negotiate a more equitable torque split, and that’s where the limited-slip differential comes in. A traditional example has a clutch pack mounted either side of the internal gear cluster. When one wheel begins to rotate faster, a ramp mechanism compresses the clutch plates on both sides, progressively locking the two wheels together. In motorsport differentials, it works in both power-on and power-off situations, making the differential an essential tool for steering the car on the throttle. A variation on the theme is the Torsen – a contraction of ‘torque sensing’ – differential with a system of helical gears to do a similar job as the clutch plates.
In modern electronically controlled limited-slip differentials the clutch packs are controlled electro-hydraulically. The clutches can be controlled individually to vector torque from one side of the axle to the other, creating torque vectoring system.
A variation of that is the Twinster system, used in the Ford Focus RS, for example. In a Twinster rear axle, there’s no central gear cluster at all, just the clutch packs. The differential effect is controlled by slipping the clutch on the inside wheel, allowing it to rotate more slowly, and it can also decouple the wheels completely to improve fuel economy. It’s made possible by advances in materials and clutches that are claimed not to wear out. It’s clever stuff, even if it lacks the elegant appeal of the original, mechanical, infernal machine.
Quaife ATB for Fiesta ST
The Ford Fiesta ST can be optioned with a Quaife ATB – for ‘automatic torque biasing’ – diff, a Torsen-type LSD with clutch plates replaced by more gears. It’s smoother for road use and biases torque to the wheel with most grip. But it won’t lock the wheels 100%, and if one wheel becomes airborne, the locking effect is lost. Great for frontwheel-drive road cars as it helps tighten the line when powering out of a corner.
Like the Mini and the Beetle, Fiat's tiny 500 helped a nation back to its feet after the Second World War
Is the Fiat 500 your favourite automotive icon? Read what we think and cast your vote
The Fiat 500 is in the running to be this year’s Autocar Awards Readers’ Champion. Each day a different member of the Autocar team will champion one of the 17 cars, but only one can be the Icon of Icons and it’s up to you to decide - vote here.
Many of the candidates in our ‘icon of icons’ competition were brought into life not to be objects of desire, but to serve a practical, utilitarian purpose. The original Fiat 500 was no different.
Taking its name (Cinquecento in Italian, but you know that) from the 500 ‘Topolino’ of the 1930s, it was designed and built to be a simple, low-cost, usable people’s car for Italians, much like the Beetle was for Germans.
To that end, the 500’s cutesy, curvy looks made it a style icon by accident. The designer, Dante Giacosa, made it the shape it was in order to use as little sheet metal as possible because, in post-war Italy, steel was a costly material. Even the pop-off fabric roof was only really there because fabric was cheaper (and lighter) than steel.
Everyone cites the Austin Mini as being a packaging marvel, but the 500 was shorter and narrower than its British rival. The design brief was for it to be less than 10-feet long and still squeeze in four people, and it did just that – although the rear seats rivalled budget airlines for space. Still, there was an estate model, called the Giardiniera, with four inches added to the wheelbase and the motor cleverly mounted on its side under the boot.
It’s not overstating it to say the 500 played a huge part in mobilising Italy after the war. In 1949, there was roughly one car for every 96 of the country’s inhabitants, but an economic boom meant by 1963 it was one car for every 11. The 500’s affordability led to its prominence.
Everything was about making motoring as simple and accessible as possible. Widely regarded as one of the simplest cars to work on ever built, spares such as cambelts and spark plugs were even stocked in rural Italian grocery stores.
Despite the car’s cost constraints, this was no half-cocked engineering job. A monocoque construction and independent rear suspension featured, while the aluminium air-cooled two-cylinder motor was engineered by an Italian more used to designing Ferrari’s racing V12s.
The very first 479cc versions made just 13bhp, enough for a modest top speed of 53mph, but by 1958 that was upped to a dizzying 21.5bhp from a 499cc unit for (and I’m not joking) the Sport version.
Like today’s 500, Abarth also worked its magic on the diminutive city car to create the 595 and then the even rortier 695, its bored-out 690cc unit making 38bhp. Incredibly rare and sought after, the sporting models are perhaps the most famous example of Karl Abarth’s collaboration with Fiat.
The standard car gradually got faster and a bit less basic until production ceased in 1975 but always stayed true to its roots. Nearly four million were sold – around 1.4 million down on the Mini, a car that was in production for more than twice the time.
Examples of the durable little 500s soldiered on, and it became as synonymous with Italian culture as the Vespa scooter. Small wonder Fiat (like Mini) resurrected the name and design in 2007.
Intelligent on-demand 4WD system was optional from 2014
Even Land Rover didn’t expect the baby of the Range Rover line-up to be such a sales hit. Result: there are lots of used ones around today
The arrival of the all-new Range Rover Evoque will be a strange experience for the original, which, since its launch in 2012, has enjoyed all the attention. It looked spot on straight out of the box and has barely changed – crucial qualities in a used car market that punishes failure and facelifts.
Buyers of new cars flocked to this first-generation Evoque with the result that the classifieds are awash with used ones at all ages, mileages and specifications. All prices, too: they start from as low as ?8750 and don’t stop until they hit around ?47,000 for a late-plate low-miler.
The idea of an Evoque for less than ?10,000 may surprise those who thought the little Rangie way beyond their reach. In fact, only another three or four thousand takes you into the realm of tidy but high-mileage cars with decent histories and good specs. At all price points, diesel dominates, whether it be the 2.2-litre unit or JaguarLand Rover’s 2.0-litre Ingenium range introduced in 2015.
The 2.2 came in two power outputs. The 147bhp eD4 was offered with front-wheel drive and the 147bhp TD4 four-wheel drive. A 187bhp version, badged SD4, was four-wheel drive only. It’s punchy and about as economical as the 147bhp unit.
In the petrol corner was the 237bhp turbocharged Si4. It’s a thirsty old thing but smooth and, of course, free of the diesel particulate filter (DPF) issues that can affect the diesels. We saw a 2013/13-reg Evoque 2.0 Si4 Dynamic 3dr with 78,000 miles for ?17,970.
In 2014, the six-speed automatic available with the SD4 and petrol engines was replaced by a nine-speed one. It’s a slick-shifting affair that boosts economy while offering the benefits of a very low first gear that’s good for off-road and towing work.
In 2015, the 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel engine replaced the 2.2-litre. Offered in 147bhp (Td4) and 177bhp (Sd4) outputs, it’s torquier, more flexible and more economical than the earlier engines. In 2017, a third, producing 236bhp, joined the lineup. At the same time, the 237bhp Si4 petrol was joined by a 285bhp one.
Confused? Just remember that diesel is the sensible choice, and if your budget’s tight but you want four-wheel drive and a bit of muscle, go for the 2.2 SD4, and if you’re feeling richer, the later 177bhp 2.0-litre Sd4.
Trims? How long have you got? At least 10 were offered during the Evoque’s life but Pure Tech models were the most popular and are the best value. Kit includes cruise control, Trailer Stability Assist, an 8.0in infotainment screen, electric windows, parking sensors and automatic lights and wipers. Options can distort prices massively.
Make sure the one you’re interested in has full service history and is sold with a solid-gold warranty. It’s a great car, the Evoque, but a poor showing in the 2018 Reliability Survey of our sibling title What Car? means you should go over it with a fine-tooth comb. Just saying…
An expert’s view
James Holland, service advisor, Keith Gott: “I’m a former Land Rover main dealer technician and, apart from its well-documented problems with door latches, the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) cooler and the Haldex pump, I don’t recall any major, common problems with the Evoque. If you use an independent specialist for servicing, ensure they have the right diagnostic equipment. Also, check the garage is connected to JLR HQ for service records and technical bulletins.”
? Engine: Check for EGR coolant leaks. Inspect the turbo hoses for cracks and splits.
? Transmission: Check for a ‘traction reduced’ message indicating a fault with the Haldex oil pump, which can become blocked (budget around ?1000). Check effectiveness of 4x4 system by parking half on grass and half on Tarmac, accelerating and checking grass-side wheels don’t spin. Feel for lazy changes or shunting on the six-speed auto. If nine-speed auto thumps into Drive after a prolonged engine stop/start standstill, it could require a software update. If stop/start doesn’t function, battery level may be too low.
? Suspension: Listen for knocks and groans from tired bushes and dampers, and feel for looseness and knocking through the steering wheel. You may have to accept suspension clonks over speed humps.
? Warning lights: Ensure they all go out. Engine warning light could suggest problems with the emissions control systems, including the DPF. This is sensitive to repeated regeneration cycles, which can cause oil-in-fuel dilution, creating more soot.
? Body: Any rust is probably accident related. Check underside for off-roading graunches. Failure of door latches to operate on remote control is common.
? Interior: Make sure all comfort features, including the infotainment, work. Take a test drive over rough ground to check the integrity of trims and fittings. Don’t accept saggy leather seats.
? Recalls: Check all safety recalls have been actioned.
How much to spend
?8750-?10,999: Early diesels requiring a thorough inspection.
?11,000-?13,499: Early (2011-12) manual diesels, two- and four-wheel drive, with 100k miles.
?13,500-?15,999: Some 2013-reg cars and mileages down to around 75k.
?16,000-?19,499: Lots more 2013 plus some 2014-15 cars with under 55k miles.
?22,500-?25,499: The first 2017 and 2018 cars plus low-mileage 16-reg Ingeniums.
?25,500-?27,999: More 2017-18 cars with 20k mileages.
?28,000 and above: Dominated by low-mileage 2018 cars.
One we found
Range Rover Evoque 2.2 SD4 Pure Tech AWD 5dr, 2012/12-reg, 120K miles, ?13,250: Specialists reckon a high-mileage Evoque is a good buy as any problems will have been sorted. This black with cream leather example is a one-owner car with full Land Rover service history.
Welcome to the Bangernomics international motor show
Care for cheaper alternatives to all that pricey new metal that was on display in Switzerland? Welcome to our virtual show stand
Motor shows are brilliant, aren’t they? Where else can you see the very latest metal, get all excited and then realise that you can’t afford any of it?
Never mind that you now have sore feet, aching calves and indigestion from that burger, the main take away from the Geneva motor show is going to be that you can’t… Either the latest thing is going to cost a fortune or be filed under ‘interesting concept that will never get made’. There is an alternative: a people’s motor show that includes old models that have depreciated and other oddities. Step this way.
A is for Aston Martin and news that it will make a mid-engined supercar is, I suppose, par for the big-brand course. It hasn’t done that before, apart from the prototype DBR1. We would be inclined to buy a Virage: relatively affordable and head turning, and not DB derivative. Hand-built almost 30 years ago and in need of a rebuild now, 1992 examples can start at ?59,990.
That brand-new BMW 7 Series facelift: they’re not getting any prettier, are they? Instead, go for a proper 750 Sport from 2002-08 with 108,000 miles – ?6495 from a trade seller with a warranty and all depreciated out. Just check the electrics and suspension.
Goodness me, the Honda e prototype is so cute. Well, it was. Seems to be a five-door now and is all electric. We would stick with the cute hybrid that not enough people bought in the pocket-rocket shape of the CR-Z. One owner from 2010 with 55,000 miles is ?5890. A full history is all you need for reassurance.
Renault Clio? Sure, there is a new one with a high-tech interior, but there’s a slew of pre-registered cars in your local ‘showroom’. They’ve all got the big dog-bone grille and look like the new ones, but are cheaper. A 2018 1.2 Play with just over 1000 miles is ?8630 when previously it was ?13,950, so be prepared to feel smug.
The new Volkswagen Beach Buggy looks grim rather than fun and inevitably it is electric, but the whole point of the original was a buzzing air-cooled engine and wacky GRP bodykit. A 1978 GP long-wheelbase with a 1600cc engine can be just ?7495. Less than the battery lease. Otherwise, look for cracked bodywork and a rusty floorpan.
Not everyone seems to be a fan of the all-new Toyota Supra. Each to their own, of course, but the last time we officially imported one to the UK in the shape of the Mk4, it was reassuringly ‘out there’ with the pram-handle rear wing. These are ?9000-plus, with show and extreme cars at ?20,000-plus. The previous generation is cooler and cheaper from ?2500 with an MOT.
Will anyone actually care that the Skoda Superb has been facelifted? Probably not. Reason enough, then, to seek out a slightly used one. There are some nearly new cars available at money off, but better to get a 2011 3.6 DSG with four-wheel drive that sounds very useful. With 97,000 miles, that will be ?5750. It won’t have been used as a taxi.
A new 208 should liven up Peugeot, but better to shop for the previous model. A Puretech Allure 1.2 with just over 5000 miles can be bought from a main agent or car supermarket for ?9999.
There is only one serious sports car and it still makes sense, even if the roof is missing. A cabriolet really isn’t designed as a hard driving machine and if you want to pose then be honest, any Porsche 911 will do. A 2005 997 with 60,000 miles is ?23,995 at a specialist. Still looks very contemporary and all you have to worry about is scored cylinder bores and the old IMS (intermediate shaft bearing) issue.
Facelifts are coming at us faster and more furiously than ever. The Mercedes-Benz GLC is a case in point, so why bother upgrading to the latest SUV iteration when the current one still does a job? A 2015 220d 4Matic Sport with 48,000 miles is ?22,295. Just out of warranty and no real issues, apart from cosmetic ones.
Here’s the thing: Seat’s new electric hatchback can’t be bought until, well, at least next year. So you could get all excited about it but delay the gratification. Instead with ?10,000 to spend, get a 2014 Leon 2.0 TDI FR, which will do comfortably more than 70mpg. There will be 35,000 miles on the clock, but it delivers everything a buyer would need, including an FR bodykit.
Hanging around the supercar stands is going to be depressing. There is a new Pagani, Koenigsegg Agera RS successor and Lamborghini Hurac?n Evo. So how could we deal with that, or the fact that there isn’t the relaunched TVR to drool over? Answer: buy the best Sagaris you can find. It still looks incredible. Buy a 2006 with a full three-year engine warranty from a specialist and it is going to be at least ?70,000.
The Smart Forease+ has been a long time coming and an even more funky electric open-top could be the answer to an awful lot of environmentalists’ dreams. Well, one who wants a speedster-style Smart at least. However, rather than join any sort of waiting list or harbour reservations about the roof, there is an alternative. A third-generation Smart Fortwo Cabrio 55kW Electric from 2014 with 16,000 miles at ?10,000 has to be a possibility.
So all is not lost in Geneva, especially when you find a great value old-shape Ssangyong Korando. A 2017 2.0SE for ?10k.
Now that’s how you win at a major international motor show.
Evoque is the same size as before but with much more kit
We descend into JLR’s virtual-reality design cave and learn how its contortion artists defied the rules of geometry to package the next-generation Evoque
This is the challenge: redesign the Evoque to accommodate the electric motor, battery pack and control systems of a plugin hybrid drivetrain, meet stiffer crash regulations, carry more equipment and offer more rear-seat room and a bigger boot. And all this within the same footprint.
True, the first Range Rover Evoque is hardly the world’s smallest car, but that’s an awful lot of extra kit to find room for, never mind teasing out some extra space for back-benchers and luggage. So why stick to exactly the same dimensions and make the task harder?
Because Land Rover’s market research established that owners of the original Evoque were adamant that it should not get any bigger. In fact, the new Evoque doesn’t occupy exactly the same volume of space as the old (it’s 1mm longer at 4371mm, 10mm wider at 2100mm, 14mm taller at 1649mm and its wheelbase, which has no effect on the footprint, of course, is 21mm longer at 2681mm). But it’s very close.
How, then, did Land Rover set about finding the extra cubic centimetres to accommodate these requirements? The process starts, explains vehicle package manager Christophe Sacr?, with ‘a statement of intent’. Which is effectively a list of packaging wants majoring on visibility and internal space. They include preserving the driving position but lowering the steering column so that you’re arranged much as you would be in a Range Rover Sport, improving the visibility of the bonnet’s corners, parking the wipers out of sight, improving visibility around the door and interior mirrors, and maintaining or bettering visibility to the rear. In accommodation terms, the objectives were to preserve the original’s front seat space, increase rear room and enlarge the boot, which also had to look visibly bigger.
To understand how all this was achieved, we’re in Jaguar Land Rover’s cave. It’s disappointing as rocky undercrofts go – just an ordinary room in the Gaydon G-Dec technical centre with a large screen at one end, smaller screens to the side and an ageing Evoque seat mounted on a metal podium.
The magic has yet to come: it’s 3D and requires the wearing of special glasses or goggles. And goggle you will when you travel through the guts of an Evoque. You can see a sectional slice of its Ingenium engine as if a guillotine had opened it up, you can strip the car to a bare floorpan and swivel it every which way, you can inspect the lie of every hose, wiring conduit and fixing, and superimpose the new Evoque onto the old, in any area you like, to see how they compare spatially. Individual components are coloured, and with the expert pointing and shooting of an electronic gun, you can assemble or disassemble an Evoque piece by piece.
Smaller screens and pairs of goggles, meanwhile, provide a 3D view of the interior as if you were sitting in it, its realism complete enough that it’s easy to find yourself placing something on a virtual seat, letting go and hearing it drop to the floor.
So how do they accommodate the demands of that statement of intent? Engineers and designers still use computer-aided design to shape components within a given envelope of space, but when there’s a conflict over real estate, the cave is the place for solutions. “It’s more democratic,” says Sacr?. “We use it early on in the process, and we can see many things very quickly.”
These range from the big, such as the locations for battery packs, to the detail of switch placement. Battery pack location, a revised crash structure, improved rear room, the bigger boot and a new system of engine mountings were among the more challenging packaging tasks facing the new Evoque’s creators, as these illustrations demonstrate.
The original 2010 Evoque was based on Ford’s EUCD platform, shared with the Mondeo and Volvo XC60 in the days of the Premier Automotive Group. This forced some compromises that are absent from JLR’s new Premium Transverse Architecture (PTA), explains underfloor package manager Matt Eastough, allowing the release of much of the necessary extra space. “We’re using a new primary structure with a cast alloy front subframe that’s designed to crush,” he says. “Early on, we know we’ve got to fit a plug-in battery, and that influences the body design. Once we’ve found homes for these bigger bits, we can concentrate on different zones.”
This Evoque is divided into three zones – “it can be more,” says Eastough – while the original was split into two. The housing of smaller novelties follows, such as the ventilation chimney for the battery pack, all the while accounting for the need to waterproof the car. Despite its greater electrical complexity, this Evoque will wade 100mm deeper, to 600mm.
Seeing out of thick-pillared, big-mirrored modern cars is a problem that’s been chipped away at here. Sitting in highly accurate, virtual-reality cockpits for Evoques old and new confirms that wipers really do park out of sight, that you can see more of the roadside through the bottom corners of the windscreen and that you can see (marginally) more of the outside world past the interior and exterior mirrors.
You can also turn around and see the rear of the cabin, the rather intrusive ‘D’ pillar confirming the usefulness of the optional video screen rear-view mirror, which ‘sees’ through pillars, headrests and heads to fill in the gaps. Sitting in this virtual cockpit “is very useful for the positioning of switches”, adds Sacr?.
Rear floor and rear seat
The rear footwell of a car might not seem a challenging area but, in the original Evoque, says Sacr?, “it was small, bucket-shaped and not flat”. The new car’s lengthened wheelbase has produced a larger, leveller footwell, less intrusive seat runners and “the rear seat cushion sits at more of an angle to increase knee room. We’re optimising empty space.”
A rather busier-looking area lies beneath the front seat, which contains the so-called chimney – this being an outlet duct for the fan-driven cooling of the plug-in hybrid’s battery pack. Sitting beside it is the subwoofer, which is now half the size of the previous bass-box.
Widening the boot, explains Sacr?, was achieved “by removing or optimising the size of brackets behind the side panels, fitting a smaller wiring harness and optimising the shape of the body-in-white structure”. The original Evoque carried Ford components that have also been redesigned. The result is a boot of 591 rather than 575 litres, and a between-the-arches width of 1301mm – a useful gain on 1000mm before.
There’s a bigger side pocket too.
Engine mountings, ancillaries
A new platform that doesn’t have to be shared with outside brands offers the chance to optimise other areas, such as the engine mounts. “The offside engine mount bolts to a longitudinal – a very solid part of the car – but it’s also a lump of mass in the crumple zone,” says Eastough, and has to be designed for crash compatibility. The new engine mounts noticeably improve ride and refinement. “Another struggle is the additional hardware for emissions – a bigger catalyst and sensors,” adds Eastough. “You’ve got to plan.”
Chief interior designer Paul Ray must furnish the bare interior of this reimagined Evoque and admits that, occasionally, his team fill in some of the nooks and crannies eked out by their engineer colleagues in order to produce more flowing lines. “We take space away to create the illusion of more space,” he says. “If you squeeze the carpet, it can look untidy if it literally follows the contours.” So every last cubic millimetre of space won in the rear footwell may not see daylight, but it’ll certainly look neat down there.
Like his engineer colleagues, Ray has to find space for more kit, such as massage and cooling seats. “It still has to feel roomy, and that’s difficult with a smaller car,” he says. Again, the cave helps. “It makes decisions quicker, and you feel more confident about those decisions,” concludes Ray.
Diesel is out of favour. But is petrol really better?
Sales of diesel-powered cars are falling, but does this mean petrol is really best?
The reason Porsche no longer offers diesel engines in any of its cars is that it was never a core power source for the brand, and now diesel is in decline it makes sense to focus on the petrol, hybrid and electric powertrains that are its future. At least that’s the official version. And I’m sure Porsche’s desire to distance itself from the Volkswagen Group’s latterly besmirched reputation for producing good, honest diesels had absolutely nothing to do with it.
Whatever the truth, Porsche’s decision to turn its back on diesel is an enormous gamble, at least in Europe. Certainly key to Porsche’s thought process is that diesel makes no impact at all on its biggest markets outside the continent – such as the US, China and Japan. But now that Porsche is predominately an SUV manufacturer (between them, the Macan and Cayenne accounted for more than 60% of Porsche sales last year), and SUV sales in Europe are still predominately diesel, you can see that cutting yourself off from such customers would be tough, even for Porsche.
But will it? What Porsche would like its diesel customers to do is simply accept their preferred fuel has had its day and, such are the advances in petrol technology, there is little to lose and much to gain by replacing, say, their old Macan Diesel S with a new 2.0-litre petrol Macan. Like this one.
We felt a need to put this theory to the test, hence the presence here of another new SUV, but one powered by the black pump. I’d say a diesel-powered SUV is no more true to Alfa Romeo heritage than it is to Porsche’s, but Alfa is sticking by diesel, for now at least.
On paper, the diesel Stelvio and petrol Macan make an interesting pairing. Similar in price, performance and engine size, the diesel Alfa leads as expected with a healthy chunk of additional torque, the Macan with a commensurate power advantage. But before we put theory into practice, a thought or two about what’s actually being fought over here. The first thing to say is that were it not for the fallout from Dieselgate, I have no doubt at all Porsche would still be selling not only diesel Macans, but Cayennes and Panameras too. Of course they would: if your car is large and heavy, diesel offers a suite of advantages over petrol many would regard as insuperable.
Most obviously they are more efficient, meaning they use less fuel – approximately 20% less or so, it is said, but my experience of big diesel burners is that their advantage over equivalent petrol cars can be greater still. In the case of these two and according to the latest WLTP measurements, the Alfa will return more than 40mpg, the Porsche less than 30mpg.
And whatever you save in fuel, you also save in CO2. If you look at tailpipe CO2 emissions, you can see that they fall year after year until the moment people got spooked by Dieselgate. And they’ve been rising ever since. Coincidence? I think not. But there’s far more to it than that: I’d have the diesel Stelvio’s torque over the petrol Macan’s power because with heavy cars – and the Macan is properly heavy – torque is more useful. Peak power can only be developed once in the entire rev range, peak torque can be maintained from little more than idle to little less than peak power. And as it is torque that you feel when you accelerate, it would be hard to overstate its importance.
Now consider that not only is the Stelvio more torquey than the Macan, it’s more than 200kg lighter too, so its crucial torque-to-weight ratio (probably the most important real-world determinant of performance potential despite the fact that hardly anyone uses it) is 209lb ft per tonne. The Macan? Just 146lb ft per tonne, a difference of more than 30%. And finally there’s range: the Stelvio has the potential to do more than 470 miles between fills even with its frankly pathetic 52-litre fuel tank. The Macan will take on board 65 litres of unleaded, but it will be a brave person who tries to stretch even that much fuel over 400 miles. Had the Stelvio the same-sized tank, it would get close to 600 miles.
So it’s clear then? Porsche’s decision to bin diesel is akin to it taking a 12-bore shotgun and discharging both barrels into its feet. Or is there perhaps more going on here?
Point one is that regardless of its considerable theoretical advantage, the Stelvio holds nothing like the additional performance over the Porsche you might think. The quoted acceleration figures suggest there’s little to choose between them and that’s the way it appears on the road too. So what’s going on? Two things in my view: first, I suspect far less of the Porsche’s power is getting lost in translation between flywheel and Tarmac. One eye-opening decision Porsche made when turning a previous-generation Audi Q5 into the Macan was to ditch its inexpensive, off-the-peg torque converter automatic gearbox for its own seven-speed DSG transmission. But here you can see why.
Second, despite having one less ratio, the Porsche gearbox is snappier than the Alfa’s and good at keeping the Macan’s motor percolating at the energetic speeds it needs to do its best work.
But is it desirable for a heavy SUV to require judicious use of the right foot to deliver its performance? The answer is an emphatic ‘no’. These are not supercars, they are large, family cars that should be effortless to drive and there’s no question the Alfa not only provides stronger low- and mid-range shove but requires less effort to do so. If it could do it without the accompanying diesel clatter, it could close its case with confidence.
In the event, however, the engine’s coarseness perpetuates a narrative that says the Stelvio is just not sophisticated enough in execution to cut it alongside the long-time best car in its class. I’m not going to stray too far from the petrol/diesel debate that lies at the core of this story, but that rattle from under the bonnet sits alongside the rubbish materials in the cabin, the clunky navigation and at times irritating ergonomics as different colours in the same picture. It is as well for Alfa that the Stelvio looks so good and handles so well, for as a result it remains a car with genuine appeal for those happy to overlook such shortcomings.
What we’re actually seeing here is the Macan beating the Stelvio despite and not because it is powered by petrol. The key difference between them is that the Porsche makes the most of petrol’s strength by having such a smooth engine and so responsive a gearbox, while the Alfa does not do enough to mitigate the drawbacks of diesel, principally its noise and harshness.
Which rather begs another question: were the old Macan Diesel S still on sale, how would it fare against this petrol version? Well, it would cost more but, in my opinion, it would be worth it. It would be quicker, more responsive, still use less fuel, go further on a tank and, because it had six rather than four cylinders, would suffer few if any of the refinement issues that dog the Stelvio.
There are wider inferences to draw here: although not everyone’s four-cylinder petrol engine is as smooth as the Macan’s, nor everyone’s four-cylinder diesel as challenging as the Stelvio’s, the truth is that diesel is inherently better suited to multi-cylinder applications. The smaller, lighter and cheaper a car is, the harder it is to make a case for diesel. At the other end of the spectrum, the V8 diesel is one of my favourite engine configurations, never bettered than when under the bonnet of the second-generation Porsche Panamera. What a shame it has been deleted, for it makes the V8 diesel also one of the most endangered configurations.
In conclusion, I should point out that while the Macan would win this test if it were a straightforward comparison, I would maintain that the right diesel engine is inherently better suited to such a car than even the most fluently engineered petrol-powered equivalent. It is only because it does so well with such limited resources that the Porsche is able to overwhelm the Alfa here. That said, if running costs, range and low-down throttle response matter more than refinement, there is still a case for the Stelvio.
So far as middling to large SUVs costing ?40,000 and up are concerned, were all other things equal diesel would be the preferable power source and by a significant margin. But they’re not. So while diesel beats petrol, Porsche still beats Alfa.
Driver turned radio pundit targets funding gaps between teams, quiet engines and bland circuit layouts
There are many things wrong for Formula 1 at present, few more so than the fact that if you want to enjoy live coverage for all 21 races or, indeed, any race save the British Grand Prix, you have two choices: pay Sky or listen to Radio 5 Live.
For those who can’t afford a Sky Sports subscription, the good news is that Jolyon Palmer will be back in the 5 Live commentary box this year. His time in F1 may have ended in 2017 after just two seasons for Renault, but his punchy, pithy punditry should ensure him a far longer-lasting career on air. So who better to point out the problems with the sport as it stands today and, more importantly, what might be done to put it right? We meet over cod and chips in a Battersea pub, and turn on the tapes.
“Actually, I think we’ve got quite a good season coming up, at least by recent standards,” says Palmer. “The only significant rule change is a new front wing designed to make cars easier to follow, but it’s not going to be a game-changer. What’s looking really interesting are the driver line-ups.”
We’ll get to that in a minute but, in the meantime, how does he perceive the issues in the sport as it stands?
“Money is the problem, and the difference in resources between the top three teams and the remaining seven,” he says. “It’s frustrating because what nobody sees is that, were the top three not there, what is currently the midfield is so closely packed you’d turn up to every grand prix without a clue to who was going to win it. It would be down to whoever did the best job on the day. But the fact is that unless someone goes in the wall or breaks down, if you’re not in a Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull, the best result you can hope for is seventh. It’s like there are two classes, and to me last year T LAT Jolyon’s dad Jonathan won ‘B’ class in ’87 Nico H?lkenberg was the F1 champion of the ‘B’ class.”
It put me in mind of the 1987 season, when F1 did indeed have a class system: there was the outright championship and, within it, a category for non-turbo cars that fought for the Jim Clark Trophy, won by none other than Jolyon’s dad, Jonathan.
“Right now, to go from being the fourth-best team on the grid to the third would require double the budget – at least,” continues Palmer. “The guys at the front are so much quicker. Take the French Grand Prix last year: Vettel and Bottas tangle on the first lap, both pit and rejoin absolutely at the back of the field. Within a few laps they’re back up the front again.”
He is, of course, correct. To me, the fact that shows the gulf most clearly and the desperate need for change is that when the cars line up on the grid at Melbourne, it will be exactly six years since any car other than a Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull won a race. Which is ludicrous.
“There are so many things that need doing and the first is to cap the budget,” says Palmer. “And what if teams like Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz that stand to lose most don’t like the idea and threaten to quit? Then let them go. You can’t have a sport governed by its competitors. If they won’t adhere to the regulations, then the sport is better off without them. And if you cut the budgets, more teams will join. There are plenty of Formula 2 teams that could do a good job in F1 but right now are put off by the costs. You could have grids of 30 cars and even prequalifying where it was needed.
“The FIA needs to come up with a set of regulations in conjunction with some technical delegates like Ross Brawn and Pat Symonds, and those are the rules. Take them or leave them. You can’t have teams making the rules because they all want different things.
“Next you need to cut downforce. At Spa, three of the world’s great corners – Eau Rouge, Blanchimont and Pouhon – can now be taken flat. So can Copse at Silverstone. Eau Rouge isn’t even a corner any more. And while being able to take Copse flat will please 20 people strapped into cars and maybe a few data boffins, you’re taking away the entertainment from everyone at home who just wants to watch a good grand prix. You don’t get the sensation of speed on the telly anyway.
“The truth is that you can have cars that are unbelievably quick through corners, or you can have great racing. But you can’t have both. Cutting downforce not only allows cars to follow each other but it also extends braking zones, and then you don’t need DRS, which was only ever a sticking plaster anyway.”
Palmer is not yet done.
“We also need to get the noisy engines back,” he continues. “I know it will be seen by some as a backwards step, but the V6 turbo engines have done F1 no favours. You lose so much of the essence of F1 and they are so expensive. And the inequality of engines between Mercedes and Ferrari on one side and Renault and Honda on the other means teams like Red Bull have one hand tied behind their backs from the off. Back in the V8 era you got what we had at the start of 2012, when the first seven races were won by seven different drivers from five different teams.
“And we need circuits with barriers and gravel, not vast concrete run-offs. If you make a mistake, there should be consequences.” Surprisingly, Palmer is adamant the drivers want this too, “but if you give them a run-off area, they’re going to use it. No one wants to see someone get hurt, but mistakes should be punished – it makes the driving better to watch and the racing more interesting because it introduces another variable.”
But before any of it happens, we have the 2019 season before us. Is it likely that anything other than a Mercedes-AMG, Ferrari or Red Bull will win a race? Frankly, no. But Palmer is quick to point out some interesting undercurrents.
“Yes, the championship is Lewis Hamilton’s to lose, but I would point out three things,” he says. “First, Ferrari had the best car for most of last season. In fact, I’d say there were only four races where Mercedes were clearly better. I don’t actually think there was much between them on strategy, either. It’s just that Ferrari and Vettel kept making mistakes. If they can sort that out, the title fight could be very interesting.
“Second, with its Red Bull partnership and for the first time since it returned to F1, Honda now has its engine in a car that can win races. Do not underestimate how that will motivate a company already on an upwards trajectory in F1.
“Third, no one knows how Charles Leclerc is going to affect Vettel. Kimi R?ikk?nen never pushed Seb, but Leclerc really could. I expect him to be on the pace from the outset. What will be the consequences of that? We saw last year that Seb is vulnerable to pressure, in which case how will Ferrari handle that? Or he could just raise his game and deliver Ferrari their first title since they won the Constructors’ in 2008.”
It should be fun watching.
Jolyon Palmer on…
Mercedes-AMG: “Lewis should be on anyone’s ‘greatest driver of all time’ shortlist, and he just seems to get better. Last year, he generally had the slower car yet took the title with space to spare. I feel sorry for Bottas because I expect his performances accurately reflect the true pace of the car, but he’s got the best in the world as his team-mate. He needs to produce something extraordinary or accept his role as wingman.”
Ferrari: “Ferrari will tell Leclerc to hold back and learn from Vettel, but he’ll be thinking ‘I want to win the title’. He’s a good choice for Ferrari, who usually prioritise experience. Seb is still really quick but he could find himself in the same situation with Ricciardo at Red Bull. He’d had it easy with Webber, then in 2014 Danny came in and beat him straight away. There’s probably no one with greater pressure on their shoulders going into the first round.”
Red Bull: “I hope Red Bull can fight from the start. Honda engines will be a huge change but it’s a good move. Toro Rosso did well with Honda last year, and Honda is on an upwards trajectory now. Verstappen, who was driving as well as Lewis towards the end of 2018, has the motivation of a car that could be a regular winner. Gasly is harder to judge. He had a good season last year but we only have Hartley to judge him against.”
McLaren: “McLaren was the biggest disappointment of last year, and now they’ve lost Alonso, who got the car more points than it deserved. Even so, they should make a big step just because last year’s car was so bad and they’ve got the money. Also Sainz on his day can be very strong and I expect Lando Norris to push him all the way.”
Renault: “They’ve got a hell of a driver line-up. We know how good Ricciardo is and H?lkenberg is the most underrated driver on the grid. Renault have a decent chassis and a bigger budget than the other midfielders, so they should be the best of the rest behind the big three. But they won’t get there without a good engine. I’m told this year’s engine looks strong, but I’ve heard that before only to see little real progress come race day.”
Haas: “With Mercedes, the only other team to retain their driver line-up [Grosjean, Magnussen]. Haas has done well since joining F1. Not only does it get its engine from elsewhere – Ferrari – but its chassis too, which is made by Dallara. So they can afford to run on a small budget. Renault thinks it’s unfair because the overlap with Ferrari is huge, bigger than that with Toro Rosso and Red Bull B-team. But, overall, Haas is good for F1.”
Racing Point (Formerly Force India): “Should have a stronger year because new ownership means they’ve now got money. Stroll would not be in F1 without the big backing he brings. He needs to step up, but if he can match Perez he’ll be doing well. Perez is underrated: if there’s a sniff of a podium, he’ll find a way to get on it. He made the most of his chances last year.”
Williams: “Unless they design a brilliant car, it’s hard to see anything but another tough season ahead. Kubica is a gamble: no one has been away from the sport for that long and come back strong, leaving aside the physical limitations of his injury. But it takes pressure off George Russell: he’ll either be quicker than Kubica or slower than someone who was once considered an F1 champ in the making.”
Alfa Romeo Racing (formerly Sauber): “Kimi is a good signing for them. He showed last year he can still win, and while I don’t think he’ll be troubling those up front, I expect he will still be quick and they will learn from him. Antonio Giovinazzi is good: he had two outings for the team at the start of the 2017 season but it’s not fair to judge him on that. On balance, I’d say he deserves his place in Formula 1.”
Toro Rosso: “Re-signing Daniil Kyvat was a real curve ball. The team already dropped him once, but he is quick on his day and let’s not forget he earned promotion to Red Bull. But still, it’s slightly bizarre. British-Thai driver Alexander Albon will be interesting too. He’s not spectacular but could be good.”
Lando Norris vs. George Russell: “This could be one of the season’s talking points. It’s great to see two talented young Brits coming through. They came first and second in F2 last year, and looking at the results you’d say George was the better driver [Russell won seven rounds, Norris one]. But I don’t see it that way: George is a young Button, quick and super-consistent; Lando is hugely talented, like a young Lewis. But both look the real deal.”
Himself: “I don’t miss racing. I’m entirely at peace with my racing career, so while I’d never say never, I’m not seeking a drive. But if something good came along – a strong team in Formula E, or a real chance to do well at Le Mans – I’d look at it. To be honest, 2017 sapped a lot of my enjoyment of F1. I was ready to walk away for good when the BBC made me an offer. I really enjoy commentating – it’s relaxed but you have to know your stuff.”
Women in F1: “At the moment, there isn’t a woman at the right level to do F1,” Palmer says. “If there was, she’d be in F1 because it would be a marketing department’s dream. But there’s a good reason why there are no women vying for drives, and it has nothing to do with strength, ability or anything like that. The problem is that, relative to men, there are so few women at the starting points of racing – karting when they’re kids, doing the junior series and so on. So if you’re one woman against 50 men, you have to beat them all to progress to the next series and then do it again and again and again, being the best at every stage. And for any driver, that’s tough. It says nothing about women per se, it’s a historical cultural issue. But society is changing and it is just a matter of time. It will definitely happen but I don’t think we’ll see a woman racing in F1 in the next five years.”
The American company has begun a voluntary separation programme for employees in the two countries as part of a major restructuring, which it says is designed to ‘transform’ its European business and return it to sustainable profitability by reducing costs and bureaucracy.
Ford said it expects to cut more than 5000 jobs in Germany, including temporary staff. It added that “the total number of positions in the UK is still to be determined”.
The company employs around 53,000 people in Europe, including 12,000 in the UK and 24,000 in Germany.
Which car's nameplate transcends all others? We make a case for 17 motoring legends. Now you must pick the winner
Welcome to the 2019 Autocar Readers’ Champion award, where we ask: what’s in a name?
Inspired by the arrival of a new Toyota Corolla, it struck us: the Corolla, as the biggest-selling nameplate in the world, is an icon. Now, ‘icon is an overused word’ is itself an overused phrase. But if a nameplate can be iconic, then Corolla’s certainly is. Across more than five decades and 45 million cars, it is a great survivor. But the greatest of all? That’s for you to say.
To help you choose your icon of icons, our writers have picked the 17 most important, influential, desirable car names on the planet. The entry criteria is that they’ve had their name from birth and the car’s still in production.
You’ll have to squint a bit to make the rules totally work. For a few – Mini, Jeep, Land Rover – what was just their model name has become their brand. The Volkswagen Beetle dies soon. The ‘Land Rover’ (now Defender) is out of production but it’ll restart soon – it still has skin in the game, basically. And we’ve limited entries to one per manufacturer. Some names have changed discreetly, but not entirely.
Because sometimes there’s no substitute for blind prejudice. Which is where you come in. Tell us who’s right and who’s wrong: the winner will be crowned at the Autocar Awards in May.
Securities and Exchange Commission claims the firm and its former chief executive misled investors; Volkswagen denies charges
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has sued Volkswagen and its former chief executive Martin Winterkorn, claiming it defrauded investors in relation to its handling of the Dieselgate scandal. The firm has said it will "vigorously" contest the charges.
According to the SEC, the charges relate to more than $13 billion (?9.8 billion) in bonds Volkswagen issued between April 2014 and May 2015. That was the time period between the publication of the initial study that found higher than claimed emission levels from VW Group diesel-engined cars and the firm’s admission it had installed ‘defeat devices’.
The SEC complaint alleges that Volkswagen made false and misleading statements to investors about its financial standing, vehicle quality and environmental compliance. It says that “by concealing the emissions scheme, Volkswagen reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in benefit by issuing the securities at more attractive rates for the company”.
Volkswagen issued a statement, saying that: “The SEC’s complaint is legally and factually flawed, and Volkswagen will contest it vigorously.”
The firm added that the securities were “sold only to sophisticated investors who were not harmed and received all payments of interest and principal in full and on time.
“The SEC does not charge that any person involved in the bond issuance knew that Volkswagen diesel vehicles did not comply with US emissions rules when these securities were sold, but simply repeats unproven claims about Volkswagen AG’s former CEO, who played no part in the sales.”
The SEC suit seeks to recover “ill-gotten gains” through civil penalties and fines, and also calls for Winterkorn to be barred from serving as a director of a US company.
Youthful styling on a Volvo technological base make this plug-in hybrid SUV a strong contender with limited competition
It’s no secret that Lynk&Co will arrive in Europe within the next twelve months, but until now we’ve only experienced the drivetrains unique to the Chinese market.However, while still a Chinese-market version, the car before you, the 01 SUV, will be the model Lynk&Co sells in Europe. It’s a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) utilising a three-cylinder petrol engine developed in collaboration with Volvo.While partnerships between Volvo and its Chinese owners Geely have very much been the genesis of this brand, the Lynk&Co team got a clean sheet of paper with no ‘brand heritage’ hang-ups. The result has a distinctly European feel about it but is certainly not merely a cheaper Volvo. Although it shares the CMA platform with the Swedish brand's XC40, it's bigger and has a distinct feel.Entering Europe with a PHEV is one way to navigate the crowded competition. The Mitsubishi Outlander has carved a niche for itself in this way and Lynk&Co hopes to gain sales as countries such as the UK and France push consumers towards electrified offerings.Despite the Chinese-market 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol version of this SUV being four-wheel-drive, the PHEV is strictly front-wheel-drive. Combined power from the 1.5-litre turbo petrol unit and electric motor comes in at a respectable 257bhp and is controlled through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
More practical sports car will beat new-era Elise, Exige and Evora models to market
Lotus will reveal an all-new sports car next year as its expansion under Geely ownership begins to bear fruit.
The model is part of a five-year plan that has been signed off by Geely, new Lotus Cars CEO Phil Popham has confirmed.
The new model will be based on a heavily revised existing Lotus architecture and will appear before the next-generation Elise, Exige and Evora models. They will begin to be launched in about three to four years once the new architecture that will underpin them has been developed.
Next year’s new model will retain Lotus’s famed driving dynamics while being more practical and usable every day than the existing models, with improved ingress, egress, ergonomics and infotainment, pointing to the Evora as its most likely base. It’s a bridge to the new era of Lotus sports cars, according to Popham. “There’s this one car, then the new platform,” he said.
Popham will then eventually expand Lotus’s product portfolio beyond the existing sports car range. The former Jaguar Land Rover executive and Sunseeker yachts boss has yet to decide on the specifics, but SUVs are the most likely outcome. Autocar also understands that a new seven-figure, electric-powered hypercar is in development as a limited-run ‘halo’ model for this new era of Lotus, codenamed Omega, although Popham has yet to confirm this.
All future Lotus models will eventually use electrification, said Popham, but in exactly what format has yet to be decided. “The focus for now is on replacing the products we’ve got today – the sports cars,” he said. “In a long time, Lotus has not had sight of what is required. You need a longterm plan, a product plan and a business plan locked down with investment. We have that plan locked in.”
Lotus will also look to leverage the “huge opportunity” it has from being part of such a large and well-resourced group as Geely, said Popham. This includes “design, engineering and manufacturing opportunities” and the potential for shared architectures for future models beyond sports cars, as well as investigating the future of its engine deal with Toyota, which continues harmoniously for now.
On the finances involved with Geely, Popham said: “We’re not talking tens or hundreds of millions, but billions.”
On the wider role Geely can play, he said: “All conceptual work and product planning management will sit at Lotus, but we can and will sub-contract packages back into Geely.
They have lots of technology capabilities, a design studio in Coventry, engineers in Sweden, Germany and China. We employed 150 engineers last year and will employ more this year while also using the resource in Geely.”
Early development work has now started on the new sports car architecture, which may not necessarily retain its current bonded and extruded aluminium base if a better option is available. It will be developed to meet regulations in China and North America from the beginning.
The Norfolk-based company is already expanding its Hethel headquarters, with plans approved for a new customer experience centre and museum. Lotus sold 1630 cars last year, but Popham said the capacity was around 5000. Hethel will remain the home of Lotus sports cars with associated investments to improve the facilities. The manufacture of future models, such as SUVs, will take place elsewhere.
Beyond sports cars, Popham said Lotus could enter “a number” of segments so long as all of its models retained the brand’s core DNA. He cited Porsche as a good example of how to grow. “Our DNA of driving dynamics, performance and lack of weight mean different things in different segments, but we’ll be renowned for them in the segments we’re in,” he said.
Popham added that future sports car models must take less time to make and be cheaper and more repeatable to produce as “the hours of build are too high”, while too many parts are used and their cost is also “too high”. This is the result of having architectures that have stayed in production for so long and a reason for Lotus’s inconsistent quality.
To that end, Lotus sports cars should remain accessible on price, believes Popham. He's not looking to expand the price point of its core sports car beyond today’s range.
Q&A: Phil Popham, Lotus Cars CEO
Are you looking to shift Lotus’s positioning?
“We will build cars in the future with the DNA of today. They’ll have the same performance and handling, but will appeal to a wider audience. Our barriers to entry now are the cars’ practicality, the ingress and egress, the day-to-day use like ergonomics and connectivity. They will improve, but absolutely retain the purity.”
How can you refocus Lotus and help it grow?
“We’re going to do a lot on brand positioning: what it is, what it has been, and what it will be. This will then drive everything we do in the business, and most importantly the engineering team. The driving experience is at the heart of that. We will create the most dynamic cars we can but remove the barriers to purchase.”
Will Lotus Engineering still play a role?
“There’s an intention to grow it. Right now it’s about 15% of the group. We have several areas of expertise, in engine testing, lightweighting and aerodynamics, and it complements the group. We’ll do stuff for Geely but can go outside the group. It’s a brand in its own right and adds credibility, while also allowing us to do stuff outside the industry.”
The Model Y didn't debut with any gimmicky features – but it didn't need them, and is a good sign for things to come from Tesla
The Model Y was the reason journalists and fans descended on Tesla's LA design studio last night (and I set my alarm clock for 2.45am GMT to tune into the live stream), but the car's unveiling only took up a small portion of the evening.
Elon Musk spent much of his time on stage focusing on how his company had got to this point, laughing with the crowd of gathered employees and owners over his cheeky model naming conventions (S-3-X-Y, what a giggle) and whether a Tesla would soon be driving on Mars. Unveiling the car itself almost felt like an afterthought.
It's now a given that electric cars are a viable alternative to combustion-engined ones, and Tesla produces some of the fastest, longest-range EVs in the industry. The Model Y looks set to continue that trend, so instead of becoming a poster child for even faster 0-60 times, the metal was allowed to speak for itself.
At a time when the appetite for family SUVs is continuing to skyrocket, that will likely be enough to ensure the Model Y quickly becomes Tesla's most popular model.
It also gave us a sign of Tesla's maturity as a car maker. When you consider this is a company that only started making cars 11 years ago, the Model Y looks like quite the achievement. As Musk himself puts it: "The idea of creating a car company was stupid. Making an electric car company was stupidity squared."
The only limiting factor will likely be whether it can avoid repeating the mistakes it made with the Model 3, and produce the car in large enough numbers to satisfy customer demand.
Range Rovers blend Rolls-Royce-rivalling luxury with Solihull's famed 'go anywhere' adaptability
Is the Range Rover your favourite automotive icon? Read what we think and cast your vote
The Range Rover is in the running to be this year’s Autocar Awards Readers’ Champion. Each day a different member of the Autocar team will champion one of the 17 cars, but only one can be the Icon of Icons and it’s up to you to decide - vote here.
It’s a good exercise, this. We should probably make it part of the interview test for a job at Autocar. Any motoring journo with a pulse could come up with an argument for the iconic status of any one of these cars with at least one compelling reason in it. Where the Range Rover is concerned, there are at least six by my count.
The influence of the modern Range Rover seems like the right place to start. How vastly different would the SUV-obsessed car market look today, after all, if Spen King and Gordon Bashford hadn’t decided that the time was right, in the late 1960s, for a well-mannered, easy-going, both on-road-and-off-road-intended Land Rover? If those early Range Rovers hadn’t shown the untapped potential of the emergent SUV as a luxury car and object of desire, would we now have a Seat Ateca, a Honda CR-V or a Rolls-Royce Cullinan? Would the showroom model ranges of the likes of BMW, Audi, Mercedes and Porsche look remotely like they do? Not a chance.
There are other cars in this exercise with a similar level of influence as the Range Rover, of course, but how many are as vitally important to the companies that make them? Mazda would survive just fine without the MX-5 these days; Fiat Chrysler Automobiles likewise without the Jeep Wrangler or the Fiat 500. For a company the size of BMW, no single model is too big to fail – Mini and 3 Series included.
But more than half of Land Rover’s model range is now made up of ‘Range Rovers’ – and between the latest Range Rover itself and its various subordinate descendants, the Range Rover brand now accounts for more than two-thirds of Land Rover’s European sales volume. The Range Rover brand has become absolutely vital for both Jaguar Land Rover and the British car industry – and there’s no brand without the big guy.
Which brings us neatly onto reasons number three and four: this car’s brilliance as a product, and its untouchable uniqueness in the market. The Range Rover might be UK manufacturing’s only world-class car – by which I mean undisputed king of its niche. Before the likes of Bentley and Rolls-Royce moved in to steal the Rangie’s lunch, it was probably the only SUV you would unflinchingly recognise as a true luxury car. That was the difference the third-generation L322 version made, and it remains BMW’s enduring gift to the Range Rover legend.
Authenticity is reason number five: because, despite the incredible richness and luxury that the Range Rover has taken on, it remains a true Land Rover on capability – and, for strategic reasons, so it must. It can wade in almost a metre of water, has up to 275mm of ground clearance, can tow up to three and a half tonnes, and none of its off-road clearance angles is below 27deg when it’s jacked up on its air springs. All of that, remember – plus S-Class-level good manners. Staggering stuff.
And finally – how many cars of this size and price, with this much ground to cover on sheer fitness for intended purpose, are also so decidedly likeable? You can start out as anti-SUV as you like, but a ride in a Range Rover will win you over. This car has, and does, everything you could possibly want from it – but it also has charm to spare.
The Range Rover is an absolutely remarkable car, by any measure you care to judge it by; and a Range Rover was also the first car I ever drove. I just love ’em. For me, at least, we could call ‘blind prejudice’ reason number seven.
Electric SUV is set to arrive in 2020, priced from $39,000; Performance model is capable of 0-60mph in 3.5sec
Tesla has officially revealed its Model Y compact SUV, which is set to arrive in 2020.
The company’s fourth mainstream model was unveiled at its Los Angeles design centre by CEO Elon Musk, who confirmed the electric SUV would have a range of around 300 miles in its highest specification.
The Model Y takes design cues from both the Model 3 saloon and Model X large SUV, with a glass panoramic roof and optional seven-seat layout. It doesn't retain the gullwing doors found on the more expensive Model X, instead using pillarless doors like the Model 3 and Model S.
The crossover is around 10% larger than the Model 3, with which it shares a plactform and as much as 75% of components, making it close to the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC in size. Musk said the Model Y had “the functionality of an SUV but rides like a sports car”, with a low centre of gravity and drag coefficient of 0.23Cd.
The first versions to arrive will be the Long Range, Dual Motor and Performance models, due in the autumn of 2020. The car is likely to arrive in the UK by 2022, based on previous Tesla model roll-outs globally.
The Long Range model will get 300 miles of range, a 130mph top speed and 5.5sec 0-60mph time, and it will be priced from $47,000 (around ?35,500). The Dual Motor will start from $51,000 (?38,500) and have a slightly lower range of 280 miles, a higher top speed, of 135mph, and a 4.8sec 0-60mph time.
The Performance model also gets 280 miles of range but increases top speed to 150mph and drops the 0-60mph sprint time to 3.5sec. It will go on sale for $60,000 around (?45,000).
A Standard Range version will follow later in Spring 2021 for $39,000 (roughly ?26,000) with a 230-mile range, a 120mph top speed and a 5.9sec 0-60mph time.
The Model Y is compatible with Tesla’s third-generation Superchargers, which are capable of 250kW charging. Cars will be able to recover 75 miles of range in five minutes and charge at rates of up to 1000mph. Tesla now has more than 12,000 Superchargers globally across 36 countries.
Inside, the Model Y has a similar interior layout to the Model 3, with a single 15.0in touchscreen interface containing all of the car’s controls and no traditional instrument cluster. It also includes the same self-driving hardware, including Autopilot, which can be unlocked for a fee and upgraded wirelessly as new features get approval from regulatory bodies.
Split-folding second-row seats and a front boot provide a maximum storage space of 1869 litres. A rear hatchback should prove more convenient for loading than the Model 3's tailgate.
Tesla has yet to confirm where the Model Y will be produced, with latest reports suggesting it could be built at the company’s Gigafactory facility in Reno, Nevada, US. Model 3 production is understood to remain at the company’s Fremont, California manufacturing plant. Chinese cars are expected to be built in Tesla’s Shanghai factory, which is under construction and projected to be completed by the end of 2019.
The Model Y will likely prove pivotal to Tesla, because the worldwide demand for SUVs is significantly higher than it is for saloons. Musk predicted Tesla would go on to sell more Model Ys than its other three models combined. The company opened pre-orders after revealing the car, with customers asked for a $2500 deposit. Model Ys with seven seats won't be available until 2021.
The company also faces new challenges from European car makers including Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, which are gearing up to launch their own premium SUVs. Similarly priced rivals such as the Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric offer less range. It recently announced a move to online-only sales and plans to close all its physical stores but changed its decision following customer and employee backlash.
Tesla will be hoping to avoid the manufacturing issues that plagued the Model 3, which bottlenecked production for months following the car’s North American launch. Tesla has since recovered from these early setbacks and is on course to achieve its factory target of 10,000 cars per week. It's now the world’s top-selling electric car, having sold more than 120,000 examples in the last year. Tesla aims to produce 2000 Model Ys per week by September 2020.
Hyundai’s US-market breakthrough SUV aims for greater European success
The Hyundai Santa Fe might seem to European eyes like something of a bit-part player in the SUV market, but it has a celebrated status within the car maker’s own internal company circles.This car’s introduction was a watershed moment in the development of Hyundai’s fortunes in the all-important North American car market. When the first-generation version was introduced in 2000, the Korean firm sold just shy of a quarter of a million cars in the US; but, by the time it was replaced, Hyundai’s US sales footprint had almost doubled. Buyers on the other side of the pond instantly warmed to the value, practicality, comfort and convenience of this car in a way that made its reception elsewhere in the world of much less import.So how do you update and change the Santa Fe in order to cash in on the global appetite for cars of its ilk without putting such established success at risk? It’s a question that must have been pondered more during the design and engineering process of this fourth-generation version than on either occasion when the Santa Fe has been replaced before. There are so many enlarged, seven-seat-adapted compact European SUVs encroaching on its patch, as well as a burgeoning set of premium-branded compact and mid-sized SUVs – therefore many more ways to spend a Santa Fe-sized budget on a family 4x4 than there was even five years ago.Hyundai’s answer, which the Autocar road test microscope is focused on this week, broadly seems to be ‘steady as she goes’. The fourth-generation Santa Fe gets smarter looks, a stiffer, lighter chassis, and new suspension and driveline systems. And, though we’re testing it with the familiar 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, it will also be the first car of its lineage to depart from diesel power, with Hyundai preparing to introduce petrol-electric hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions in the medium-term future.Price ?43,295 Power 197bhp Torque 325lb ft 0-60mph 9.3sec 30-70mph in fourth 9.8sec Fuel economy 37.5mpg CO2 emissions 164g/km 70-0mph 46.8m (damp)
Aston Martin stands to reinvent the supercar with the Vanquish Vision and AM-RB 003
Ferrari, Aston Martin, McLaren and Lamborghini are in the grip of an arms race, but is there a David to take on these Goliaths?
The complexity is intense. Last week, in a studio nosing around the duo of mid-engined models that Aston Martin brought to the Geneva motor show, the complexity is what I was reminded of.
The AM-RB 003 is a car two years away from production, one which doesn’t yet exist, and yet the extraordinary accuracy, complexity and detail of the full-sized model created to preview it, and to allow its designers and engineers (and potential customers) to understand it, is a work of thousands of hours and untold costs.
It was wheeled around, rotated on wheeled jacks, to the perfect spot under the lights by Aston design studio employees – one a full-time miller, one a full-time clay modeller – two of the firm’s 3000 workers.
Elsewhere, even as we filmed late into the night, others of the thousands would be night-time testing development cars, running the all-new twin-turbo hybridised V6 engine on test beds, digital or otherwise, and simulating, on computer or in reality, the life this car will lead.
And alongside 003 sat the Vanquish Vision; a year further away, a slightly simpler full-scale model, with no interior, but on the path to a production reality in 2022 as the series-production Vanquish.
It’s an extraordinary-looking car, an extraordinary departure for a company like Aston, whose previous architecture – the adaptable VH aluminium set-up – begat different models that both looked similar and did similar.
Not this time. The Vanquish will arrive as a new kind of Aston. Whereupon it’ll compete directly against mid-engined cars from Ferrari, McLaren and Lamborghini.
The rivals are all companies with, one way or another, billions of backing and decades of experience; each with thousands of people working millions of hours and spending billions of pounds in a race to compete for your affection and your money.
Even then, two blokes who work in a shed will come along and say they can do it better.
They won’t. Of course they won’t. Even if they make a car, it won’t be as good as the establishment’s, and as a result you won’t buy one.
But is it me, or do there seem to be fewer and fewer supercar start-ups these days? There was a time when they’d be dotted around the Geneva motor show or dropping into my inbox every few months but, in the past couple of years, seemingly not so much.
And while I’ve admired the optimism of such people, I’ve appreciated not having to read with growing disbelief about a new car that can do 300mph, constructed from a composite of crushed unicorn horn and the tears of fallen angels, developed by “engineers with decades of experience” and on sale in three weeks for the price of a Daihatsu Sirion.
To succeed without the billions, it strikes me you have to do something the establishment cannot do, or is not interested in doing.
And maybe that message is filtering out. Because it seems now the new start-ups are little companies gently tweaking existing designs, or offering resto-mods – fitting new mechanicals to old cars, with some wonderful bespoke craftsmanship on the way – or retro-fitting classics with electric drivetrains.
The lovely thing about these is that they show more imagination, they broaden the motoring landscape, give other ways for people to enjoy cars, while the main supercar game gets slugged out in the background.
S2000 could be a reliable and interesting alternative to a Porsche Boxster
At just 13 years old, this Honda S2000 is a tidy future classic with plenty more B-road blasts left in it
Honda S2000 2.0 i-VTEC GT, ?8995: As a classic in waiting, a Honda S2000 makes a great buy. Trouble is, there are lots of tatty examples out there.
Not so this 2006/06-reg GT with removable hard-top. It has done 91,000 miles – nothing for an engine with a carbonfibre-lined block and forged pistons – and has full Honda service history, supported by tons of invoices.
Being a 2006 car, it benefits from the so-called AP1 facelift of 2004. This brought stiffer body bracing, retuned springs and anti-roll bars, fractionally slower steering and larger wheels (from 16in to 17in). Meanwhile, the gearbox gained much stronger carbonfibre synchros in place of the softer brass ones.
The interior of this one looks a little shabby. (The driver’s seat leather appears to be badly creased.) We can’t comment on the carpet but it’s known to get a little damp in S2000s from water getting in via tired seals between the hood and windscreen.
If we were to take it further, we’d pop the bonnet and have a listen. If the engine is ticking from cold, we’ll be thinking sticky hydraulic pins, which can be cured by blipping the throttle or letting the engine warm up. If it’s rattling when hot, it’s likely to be the timing chain tensioner.
Regarding the transmission, it’s likely to have had a new clutch (the paperwork should confirm this) because they can let go at 50,000 miles. Given the full Honda history, the suspension bolts and fixings should be well greased. If not, they can seize, meaning the geometry can’t be set up properly, leading to abnormal tyre wear and woolly handling. Rust? The underside can suffer but we’d also check the rear wheel arches.
Alfa Romeo 4C, ?36,980: Alfa may be reconsidering the 4C’s future in the wake of poor sales and type approval challenges but it’s a gorgeous thing with the ability to make you grin like a Cheshire cat. This one’s a 2016 one-owner car with 9000 miles and full Alfa service history.
Audi A2 1.4 TDI SE, ?1004: Audi thought its A2 so reliable that it made opening the bonnet a challenge worthy of Mensa. (Online guides show you how.) Anyway, this 2005 model with full service history looks a peach. It has done 164,000 miles, though, so we’d give the turbo a health check.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class 3.0 CDI Estate, ?6000: We must stop looking at high-milers. This one’s 290k miles: should be nothing to an E-Class, except that a recent report by warranty firm MotorEasy claimed diesels are less reliable and dearer to fix than petrols. On second thoughts, you have it.
BMW 840Ci Auto: You had to be there, when the 8 Series came out in 1989. It looked like nothing else, certainly nothing else in BMW’s line-up. It came first with a 296bhp 5.0-litre V12 and was called the 850i. In 1993, the BMW Motorsport-developed 850CSi arrived with a 375bhp 5.6. Today, this version commands the highest prices.
Not so the 840Ci of the same year. It was powered by a 282bhp 4.0-litre V8. Cheaper and less thirsty, it should have flourished in the mid-1990s recession but tales of worn Nikasil liners dogged it. This tidy and well-maintained 1996 N-reg example made ?6784.
Get it while you can
Jeep Cherokee 2.2 Multijet Longitude Plus 4x4 auto, price new - ?35,750, price now - ?25,451: Jeep UK can’t say exactly when the facelifted Cherokee will arrive this year but dealers are already knocking chunks off the prices of current new ones in anticipation – such as ?10,299 off this one. Of course, the dated and uncompetitive Chezza needs this kind of helping hand and you can be sure that if a hand can bite, it will do so at resale time. Still, this big saving makes the Cherokee reasonably attractive, especially given Longitude Plus’s generous spec.
Clash of the classifieds
Brief: Find me a car that’s relaxing on the motorway and fun on the twisties for ?10,000.
Jaguar XF 4.2 V8 Premium Luxury, ?8500: If you want something that’ll ease the monotony of the motorway yet still entertain you on the twisties, you really need a Jag – especially an XF with a 4.2 V8. That way, you can blitz almost anything in the outside lane while cocooned in a sea of leather-lined luxury in the comfort of the XF’s fabulous interior. Then, when you slink off to tackle some B-roads, simply stick the gearbox into Sport mode and enjoy the bark of that eager V8 and revel in the fine rear-wheel-drive handling for which this Jaguar is famous. Max Adams
Volkswagen Golf GTI, ?9995: Okay, so you want something that’ll cruise serenely down a motorway all day in comfort, something that’s easy on the pocket and pleasing to the eye, but then you also want something that’ll transform at the first sign of a corner into a humdinger of a sports car? Enter the iconic Golf GTI. Here’s a 2010 Mk6 model with a low mileage and in good nick. Big alloys. Five doors. DSG. There’s a reason it’s so highly regarded, as it’s the most complete all-rounder in the world. In fact, it’s probably the best car in the world. Probably. Mark Pearson
Verdict: A Mk6 GTI… Not so sure about that, but the XF reminds me that Jaguar knows exactly how to combine pace with grace in one desirable package.
i3 design marked a radical departure from BMW's design language. Now, it's setting the tone
Company design chief reveals how the styling of its electric vehicles is having an impact on mainstream models
The BMW i models have revolutionised design across the board at BMW and will continue to do so in the future, according to design chief Adrian van Hooydonk.
“When we launched i3 and i8, they were quite radical and far from the norm for BMW but now they’ve become an integral part of our brand,” he said.
“The design of the i3 and i8 opened doors for us that we didn’t even know were there for the design of our general cars, I think you see this in the 2018 models - the 3-Series, X5, 8-Series and so on. It’s a cleaner form language and that was all triggered by the first i cars.”
Von Hooydonk confirmed design of the i4, an electric equivalent to the 3-Series arriving in 2021, has been signed off. “It has to look cleaner [than the 3 Series] because it is clean, it has to look super modern. As part of the i brand it needs to be at forefront of what we are able to offer.”
He added that where there is big technological change in cars, BMW will mark it with bigger design changes. “Autonomous driving will be an even bigger trigger for design change than electric cars,” he said.
Talking about BMW’s design philosophy, Von Hooydonk said the brand no longer think in generations of cars. “BMW used to make bigger changes every 10 years. Now, we see every new vehicle as opportunity to change. Tempo has significantly increased in the industry so we need to step up the pace.”
British firm's boss has released an image its new sports car, a modern reimagining of its 1950s racing models
Lister boss Lawrence Whittaker has revealed that the company will build a new version of its classic Lister Jaguar Knobbly sports car.
Whittaker released a rendering of the new car, a modern reimagining of the 1958 racing machine, on social media, adding: “we will build it”. No technical details have been released, however.
The image shows the new Knobbly will be a two-seater maintaining a style close to the original, complete with the distinctive headlights, a long bonnet and a low air intake. Given the design, it seems to retain the front-engined, rear-wheel-drive format.
Lister began building continuation runs of the original Knobbly in 2014, of a track car and aroadgoing model. The latter offered a choice of two six-cylinder Jaguar engines: a 4.2-litre unit and a 3.8-litre race-spec example.
Brian Lister founded his eponymous company to produce sports cars in 1954. In 1957, it developed a machine based around a 3.4-litre Jaguar D-Type with a new aerodynamic aluminimum body. That car also formed the basis for a single-seater car, and they became known as Lister Knobblys due to their sculpted bodywork.
We can't be sure that the following 10 cars will go up in value, but prices are currently holding steady, and the experts at HPI predict they could be a sensible purchase for anyone looking to invest.
“We’ve identified 10 models that not only perform well but also represent excellent value for money,” senior valuations editor Jeremy Yea told us. That makes them “a hot prospect for motorists looking to gain a healthy return on their investment".
The cars from every segment most likely to rise in value
Ford Fiesta ST-200
The run-out version of Ford’s ever-popular Fiesta ST was only ever sold in limited numbers here in the UK, despite the regular ST proving so popular across Europe that more than 30,000 were sold. It commanded a ?5000 premium over the entry-level ST, but that didn't stop Ford from selling its entire allocation.
Prices start from ?13,000, but the fact that second-hand models are changing hands for as much as ?17,000, not a million miles off the retail price of a brand new third-generation Fiesta ST, gives an indication of how popular the ST200 is.
Seeing how it sells far fewer cars than the brand it specialises in, any Alpina-badged BMW will already carry a collector’s premium - but it’s the latest 5 Series-based models that are predicted to become a big hit in the future.
With 600bhp from a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, capable of 0-62mph in just 3.5 seconds, the B5 BiTurbo begins life as an M550i but gets treated to Alpina’s legendary suspension tweaks that make it such a relaxed Bahnstormer.
Fewer than 100 are expected to ever be produced, so finding one on the second-hand market will be challenging enough, and with barely a year since it first went into production prices are still likely to be close to retail, but if you can find one for between ?65,000 and ?80,000 it could still be worth the investment.
It’s a testament to Audi’s timeless design that the first-generation TT looks as fresh as it does today, 20 years after it first went on sale. There are hundreds available in the classifieds, but it’s the 3.2-litre V6 engine that stands to become most desirable in the future - limited-run Quattro Sport model withstanding.
Prices have remained stable for the past few years, so examples kept in good condition are likely to start rising in value. Expect to pay from ?3000, with the best cared for models reaching as high as ?16,000.
The curious city car sold in far fewer numbers than the comparatively-sized Smart FourTwo, making it something of a rarity on our roads. Models powered by the 1.33 Dual-VVT-i engine are the ones worth your attention, with 96bhp and the choice of a manual or CVT automatic gearbox.
Prices range from ?1500 to ?7000 for the very best examples, but one owner, low-mileage models can be had for around ?5000.
Volkswagen’s luxury saloon struggled to make an impact when it first arrived in the UK, despite considerable success abroad (most notably in China). The Phaeton weighed as much as a Range Rover and cost a whopping ?70,000, which meant it found few homes in right-hand-drive form.
Of the ones that do still exist, there’s a clear favourite among collectors: the W12, effectively a Bentley engine with a VW badge on the front. The 6.0-litre engine struggles to achieve fuel economy in the double digits, so you’ll need to set aside a significant amount for fuel, but second-hand prices are about as low as we’ve seen them right now.
The highest mileage models can be found at auction for as little as ?2000, while the latest-plate models command a ?7000 premium.
You’ll hear Land Rover’s supercharged Range Rover Sport SVR coming long before you see it, courtesy of a rip-snorting exhaust note that few rivals can hope to match.
The 524bhp super SUV stands out from the standard Range Rover Sport with unique styling and a luxury interior, but it’s the 5.8-litre V8 engine that justifies high premiums on the second-hand market, propelling the two-tonne luxury car to 60mph in under five seconds.
A true modern classic, the 1M Coup? is already something of a rare sight on Britain’s roads, with only 377 cars registered (including SORNed models most likely stored away in heated garages and liberated only on special occasions).
It might have looked expensive for a 1 Series, with BMW charging ?40,000 at dealerships eight years ago, but that price bought you a 335bhp twin-turbo straight-six engine that drove the 1495kg Coup? through its rear wheels and managed 60mph in less than five seconds. That electric combination arguably made it a bargain compared to the M3 of the day.
Right now, sub-30,000-mile examples are being sold for up to ?55,000, with no sign of that figure going down any time soon.
The only hybrid to make our list, the CR-Z was Honda’s attempt to make the petrol-electric powertrain desirable in a way the Toyota Prius could never hope to achieve.
It is small and nippy, despite a relatively mild 122bhp combined output, and with Honda’s renowned reliability the car has revealed few issues as it ages. Owners report a fuel economy that regularly returns more than 50mpg, and while the CR-Z was never as agile as a Mazda MX-5, with looks that were somewhat polarising at launch, it has aged well and has earned its fair share of fans.
Prices begin from as little as ?4000 for high-mileage examples and go as high as ?9000 for later registration models, but look hard enough and there are still clean cars out there in the ?5000 bracket.
Ferrari exists almost in isolation when it comes to depreciation these days, but there was a time when cars like the 348 weren’t exactly collector’s items. The F430 proved far more popular, but that hasn’t stopped prices from stabilising in recent years.
When it first launched in 2004 the F430 had up to a three-year waiting list and a ?150,000 asking price. Ferrari quickly followed it with a convertible and the Scuderia, a more focused version that now commands a high buyer’s premium on the second-hand market.
That means you can now buy examples of the original Coup? from ?80,000 - a major investment, but comparatively small change for a car with the prancing horse logo. Considering what a leap forward it was from its Ferrari 360 predecessor, it’s amazing the F430 doesn’t cost more than it does right now.
We're adapting our reviews, features and magazine data pages to give you the fairest and clearest efficiency ratings possible
It must be a challenging and confusing time to be shopping for a new car if you’re particularly keen to buy one that will save you a few quid at the petrol pumps and/or on company car tax.
Right now, most manufacturers have banished any vestige of the old NEDC-standard economy and CO2 emissions data from their brochures and websites, instead quoting NEDC Correlated numbers.
Oddly enough, these aren’t numbers generated by the old NEDC lab test at all; they're converted from new WLTP lab test results in order to represent something closer to the NEDC standard. It wouldn’t do, after all, if the car you were about to buy looked worse on fuel efficiency compared with the one you were giving up; and, to be fair, that probably wouldn’t represent its true performance on the road, either.
To make matters even more brain-addling, though, some manufacturers have already made the switch to properly identified WLTP statistics for fuel economy while sticking to NEDC Correlated CO2 numbers. That's because NEDC Correlated are the numbers relevant to both European manufacturer fleet emissions quotas and, for this year at least, company car tax liability.
So, in among all that, what strategy should Autocar take in order to try to deliver clarity amid the chaos? Well, we’ve been mulling it over. And we’ve decided the most sensible plan is to futureproof our reviews as much as possible by quoting only WLTP fuel economy and CO2 figures where possible; even if a manufacturer would prefer to give us NEDC Correlated data, we'll acquire data on the latest standard wherever we can.
So, in order to provide as fair and clear a basis for comparison as possible, you’ll only ever see WLTP combined fuel economy figures in Autocar’s first drive reviews, features and comparison tests, as well as the data pages of our magazine. These are the aggregated result of four lab tests carried out across as many different cruising speed ranges, although they’re sometimes expressed as a range rather than one specific figure in order to show the different results recorded by the various specifications of the car in question (including optional equipment).
In full road tests, you’ll also see our own independently produced real-world fuel economy test results referred to, of course, for comparison with the lab test claims. We produce an ‘average’, ‘track’ and ‘touring’ figure for each car we test, as often as possible, on a brim-to-brim basis. And while 'average’ represents the overall economy returned by a car over a full road test and ‘track’ is relevant only to intensive performance testing (the length and conditions of which can vary slightly), ‘touring’ gives the best guide to the kind of economy you'll get from a car at a steady 70mph UK motorway cruise.
We do real-world efficiency and range testing on electric cars, too, expressing the former in terms of miles per kWh, as manufacturers do increasingly widely by convention.
Our aim in all this is to preserve the relevance of the figures quoted within the reviews we publish now for comparison with those we’ll be publishing a year or so and thereafter, when the switch to WLTP has been made fully. The one downside is that if you’re buying a company car in 2019 and want to know exactly what it will cost you in terms of benefit-in-kind tax, you'll have to look up an NEDC Correlated CO2 figure on the relevant manufacturer website to be sure.
Suffice to say, we apologise for any inconvenience (cough, cough). Chances are, of course, that if a car has lower WLTP CO2 emissions than its rivals, its NEDC figures will follow suit.
Audi remains committed to producing 'icons' like the R8
E-tron GT is the first in a range of electric sports models; S and RS models to be reinvented
Audi’s performance cars “need to change”, but will continue to play an integral role in the company’s model line-up.
Speaking at the company’s 2019 press conference, board member HJ Rothenbieler said that although there are no immediate plans to consolidate the line-up, S and RS performance cars will be adapted to suit customer demand and stringent emissions regulations.
The recently revealed E-tron GT is the first step, said the brand, in the electrification of its range of performance vehicles.
Keen to maintain its “sporty DNA”, according to Rothenbieler, Audi will keep producing performance icons in the same vein as the Quattro and R8, and is actively considering retaining the TT sports car in some form.
Sales potential, however, will be a concern. CEO Bram Schot said: “We cannot afford to develop cars which do not respond to our customers’ wishes”.
Various S models are included in the brand’s future product strategy, although Audi plans for the E-tron GT to serve as a benchmark for upcoming sports models.
Rothenbieler said Audi Sport’s red logo reflected its performance ethos, but could be adapted to incorporate green as a sign of its electric potential.
The ‘emotional’ aspect of driving S and RS models will remain, said the panel, with electrified powertrains capable of much quicker acceleration than their conventionally fuelled counterparts, and associated steering and suspension technology allowing for greater driver control.
The firm's finance boss, Alexander Seitz, said at its 2019 press conference that it's better prepared for the second round of WLTP emissions legislation and aims to have a general operating permit for all of its powertrains by the end of 2019.
Along with simplifying its product portfolio, meeting the new regulations will allow Audi to reduce its fleet emissions, which Seitz says will help it distance itself from the long-lasting impact of the Volkswagen Group's Dieselgate scandal.
Environmental concerns and the need to meet ever-tightening CO2 emissions restrictions form an integral part of Audi's plan for the coming years. It has set goals of making all its plants CO2-neutral and introducing 30 new electric vehicles by 2025. This is part of a wider electrification programme within the Volkswagen Group, which will result in the launch of around 70 electric models across its various brands by 2030.
Asked whether now is the right time for such an investment in EV technologies, Audi CEO Bram Schot said that feedback from customers suggests "60-70% of drivers of electric cars are loyal to electrification" and that response to the brand's new E-Tron electric SUV has been overwhelmingly positive.
Seitz also said that an event such as Dieselgate “will never, ever happen again”. Audi has strengthened its multi-person checking system for each new vehicle and tightened its internal documentation process.
In the US, the brand has already bought back or fixed 85% of its vehicles affected by the emissions scandal and paid a fine of ?683 million to the German government.
Compact SUV will prove crucial for firm in fight against increasing number of EV rivals
Tesla will unveil its crucial Model Y SUV tonight (14 March) – and the company is hoping lessons learned from the Model 3’s “production hell” can help it capitalise on the “massive” opportunity presented by its most important new model yet.
The Model Y is due to go on sale in late 2020, with the company recently finalising production plans for the new car. Boss Elon Musk has confirmed the imminent launch of the model, having given an 'estimate' of 15 March on Twitter last year. Musk said that detailed pricing and specs would be revealed at the event, along with demo rides in prototype machines.
Musk said that, since the Model Y was around 10% bigger than the Model 3, it would cost about 10% more. If the Model Y is offered in a similar entry-level Standard model, that would suggest a starting price of around $38,500 (?29,000). That is before recent price rises for Tesla's range, barring the new $35,000 entry-level Model 3, were revealed.
Tesla sold more than 120,000 examples of its Model 3 last year, making it the world’s top-selling electric car. The Model 3 was also the best-selling saloon car in the US, although its sales were still dwarfed by those of pick-up trucks and SUVs. For comparison, Ford sold more than 900,000 of the F-Series truck and the Toyota RAV4 topped SUV charts with 427,170 sales.
The continued shift of the market from saloons to SUVs is why Musk says the Model Y presents “massive” growth opportunities for the firm. Tesla currently produces the Model X large SUV, but the high cost and complexity of that model limit its volume.
Musk recently told investors: “The demand for Model Y will be maybe 50% higher than Model 3; could be even double.”
The Model 3 has never suffered from a lack of demand: Tesla’s problems have been about supply, as it struggled to scale up production. It is currently producing around 1000 Model 3s a week and says it expects to be able to build 7000 a week on a sustained basis by the end of the year.
With that plant at overcapacity, the Model Y is set to be built at Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 site in Nevada, where it currently produces battery packs and electric motors. The firm has started tooling up the production line at the site with the aim to start volume production next year.
Ironically, the much publicised problems building the Model 3 could benefit the Model Y, as Tesla has demonstrated the ability to create a new production line far quicker than is standard in the car industry. Producing the car alongside its batteries and motors will also ease transport logistics.
With rivals such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz all in the process of launching their own premium SUVs, it will be vital for Tesla to ramp up production of the Model Y quickly. To aid that, it will be built on the same platform as the Model 3, with Tesla saying the two cars will share around 75% of their components, likely including powertrains.
The entry-level Model 3 features a single motor with a 130mph top speed and 0-60mph time of 5.6sec. It is also offered with a 145mph dual-motor system, which features in a Performance variant that boosts top speed to 162mph through an output of around 444bhp.
The long-range dual-motor model has a range of 338 miles on the WLTP test cycle, giving it the longest official range of any EV currently being sold in Europe. The Model Y will have a slightly shorter range – Musk says it is around 10% bigger than the Model 3 – but is still set to top 300 miles. That could give it a crucial edge over premium rivals and even smaller electric SUVs such as the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia e-Niro.
Basing the Model Y on the same platform as the Model 3 suggests that it will be a compact crossover and it is set to have sleek styling closer to the Model 3’s than the Model X’s.
The Model Y is expected to be slightly longer than the Model 3, which measures 4690mm, but a similar width (1930mm). That makes it a similar size to the Mercedes-Benz EQC and slightly shorter than an Audi E-tron.
Musk described 2018 as the “most pivotal year” in Tesla’s history and 2019 is set to be even more important – and not just because of the Model Y. The firm has started work on its first factory in Shanghai, which gives it far greater opportunities in the world’s largest EV market. Tesla is aiming to produce 3000 Model 3s a week there when it starts production later this year. Combined with the 7000 per week target for Fremont, that would give the firm the ability to produce 500,000 Model 3s a year by early 2020.
Tesla has also begun European deliveries of the Model 3 to left-hand-drive markets, with the first shipment arriving in Zeebrugge, Belgium, earlier this month. Only the dual-motor and Performance versions are available in Europe at the moment. Right-hand-drive deliveries to the UK are due to start later this year.
Tesla is working on a number of other new vehicles, including a new Roadster, Semi lorry and a pick-up. Musk also recently revealed the firm is developing a minibus that will be built on the Model X platform.
There are fewer compromises in the drop-top 911 than ever. It's imperious and competent, if rewarding only at full attack
Just as deliveries of the new, 992-generation 911 coup? are getting underway, Porsche has launched the drop-top model as well.For the time being, you can only order the 911 Cabriolet in Carrera S specification and with a dual-clutch (PDK) automatic gearbox, although Porsche will invite you to choose between two driven wheels and four. In due course, there will be a more affordable and slightly less powerful Carrera version and the option of a manual transmission.Apart from all the revisions and upgrades we’ve seen already on the fixed-roof model, such as a body structure that’s now two-thirds aluminium and the same width across the rear arches whatever the power output and driveshaft count, plus a front track that’s wider by 46mm and, of course, the more arresting exterior design, the updated Cabriolet boasts a number of small but significant features.The canvas hood, for instance, has a series of metal bows within it that maintain its shape whether the car is travelling at 189mph or not at all. As well as preventing the hood from ballooning inelegantly at speed, they also mean the Cabriolet almost perfectly mimics the roofline of the coup?. As recently as the the 997 generation, Porsche’s designers cheekily referred to the drop-top's disjointed roofline as the ‘hungry horse optic’, because when viewed side on, the canvas hood didn’t so much sweep gracefully from front to back as call to mind a malnourished pony, its thin skin hanging loosely from protruding bones.The new powered hood can be raised or lowered in only 12 seconds while the car is moving at speeds of up to 31mph. Run your hand across the underside when it’s raised and it feels solid, more like a fixed roof that’s upholstered in hardwearing canvas than a fabric covering that can be peeled away. In terms of refinement and insulation, it’s therefore not very different to the coup?’s metal roof, and that, combined with the improved profile, means the compromises one must accept when choosing the Cabriolet are slimmer than they’ve ever been. There’s a very effective windbreaker, too, while the roof now contorts itself into position more compactly and so takes up less space.There is still a weight penalty, however, and 70kg is hardly negligible. Like for like, the new 992 is around 55kg heavier than the 991 it replaces (which means the 911 Cabriolet Carrera 4S PDK now sits at the kerb more than 1700kg, with a driver). The rear-wheel-drive version tested here is lighter by 50kg.The 911 Cabriolet’s substantial weight seems less significant when you consider the 444bhp it has beneath its engine cover. The 3.0-litre flat-six has bigger turbochargers than before that are nonetheless faster to respond to throttle inputs, reducing lag. The PDK, meanwhile, now has eight forward ratios rather than seven.
Vincent Cobee, Mitsubishi’s head of product strategy, is also leaving the firm. Both moves will be effective from 1 April. Ashwani Gupta, previously head of the Renault-Nissan LCV Business Unit, has been appointed COO, with Nobuju Tsuji named new strategy boss.
Osamu Masuko continues as Mitsubishi’s CEO and chairman, having been appointed to those roles following Ghosn’s removal.
Mann started his career in the car industry working at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, becoming the firm’s head of UK manufacturing before taking on various roles at Nissan’s headquarters in Japan.
Company CEO refers to gaps in product range and ensuing shift cancellations as primary reasons for shortfall
Audi CEO Bram Schot has revealed that the company delivered 3.5% fewer vehicles to customers in 2018 than in 2017.
Speaking at the company’s annual press conference, Schot stated that the 1.812m Audi models sold in 2018 represented a drop of 65,000 compared with the previous 12 months.
In financial terms, this drop in sales translates to a ˆ1.2 billion decrease in profit margins, down to ˆ3.5 billion from ˆ4.7 billion.
The reason for the shortfall, Schot claimed, is a lack of preparation for the implementation of WLTP European emissions regulation.
Audi was forced to create gaps in its product portfolio as certain powertrains fell foul of increasingly stringent pollution-targeting legislation, which in turn led to shift cancellations at the company’s Ingolstadt production facility.
Chief financial officer Alexander Seitz said the profits achieved are "a clear reflection of [Audi's] failure to prepare for WLTP", and "do not reflect Audi's expectations".
Schot said the company is better prepared for WLTP in 2019, having reduced its range of possible engine/transmission combinations by 30% and implementing a new “consistently Audi” operating ethos.
Working on the principles of transparency and integrity, Schot said, will help Audi to “find its way back” to the strength it enjoyed at the beginning of the millennium.
1430-mile Carta rally will see four race-prepped Duster SUVs piloted by ex-military personnel
Dacia will support a fleet of veterans and ex-military service personnel to contest a series of cross-country rallies in Morocco and the UK as part of a partnership with the Future Terrain charity.
Future Terrain was established to help military veterans, particularly those with physical and mental injuries, to earn qualifications that will help them gain civilian employment.
Through the programme a Future Terrain team will compete in four Dacia Dusters in the 1430-mile Carta Rallye off-road event that starts in Morocco on 31 March, and the British National Cross-Country Championship.
The Dusters are competing in the GPS Cup section of the Carta Rally, which runs for largely standard-spec machine and mixes elements of a timed event with a navigation rally.
A number of veterans have been undergoing training in the Dusters on tank proving grounds at MOD Bovington in Dorset. Grant White, Future Terrain’s operations chief and a former Royal Marine who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident, said: “Even in standard form on road tyres the Dusters have been really capable.”
The Future Terrain charity has its roots in a previous initiative called Race2Recovery, which led to a team of service personnel competing in the Dakar Rally.
British firm to recall cars after tests discover they could produce more emissions than initially certified
JaguarLand Rover will recall more than 44,000 cars after regulators found that they may emit “excessive” levels of CO2 emission.
The recall will apply to 10 Jaguar and Land Rover models fitted with either a 2.0-litre petrol or 2.0-litre diesel engine, and which emit more CO2 than their initial certification.
It affects certain versions of the Jaguar E-Pace, F-Pace, F-Type, XE and XF, and the Land Rover Discovery, Discovery Sport, Range Sport Sport, Evoque and Velar. The vehicles were made between 2016 and 2019, and Jaguar Land Rover is contacting owners whose cars are affected.
The issue was discovered by Jaguar Land Rover during routine testing, who reported it to the UK Vehicle Certification Agency and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, which handles recalls. An alert was then issued via the European Commission’s rapid alert system.
The EU recall note says that the vehicles affected “may emit excessive levels of CO2 and may not conform with the certified condition”.
In a statement, Jaguar Land Rover said: “Affected vehicles are being rectified to ensure the correct CO2 performance is dependably achieved. The modifications made to affected vehicles will be made free of charge and every effort will be made to minimise inconvenience to the customer during the short time required for the work to be carried out.”
The 'Stang owes a great deal of success to the eight cylinders under its 'hood'
Is the Ford Mustang your favourite automotive icon? Read what we think and cast your vote
The Ford Mustang is in the running to be this year’s Autocar Awards Readers’ Champion. Each day a different member of the Autocar team will champion one of the 17 cars, but only one can be the Icon of Icons and it’s up to you to decide - vote here.
Here’s a fact: of the 7.5 billion or so people that reside on the rock we call Earth, only a minuscule number regard themselves as petrolheads.
And yet, even among the overwhelming majority of people who wouldn’t consider themselves versed in the language of automotive culture, who see the car as nothing more than a tool for getting from one place to another, there’s one nameplate I’d wager would elicit more of an emotional reaction than any other: Ford Mustang.
In the 55 years since the original ’Stang first rolled off the production lines in Dearborn, Michigan, Ford’s pony car hasn’t only gone on to become an icon within the confines of the car world, it’s firmly entwined itself within the very fabric of Western culture in its broadest sense. It’s been a muse for songwriters and lyricists for half a century, and has starred alongside Hollywood greats on the silver screen. In some cases, it was the Mustang that stole the show; the 1968 GT 390 Steve McQueen used to tear through the streets of San Francisco in Bullitt being a case in point.
The Mustang’s icon status is also backed up by cold, hard numbers. Ford expected to sell less than 100,000 examples within its first year of production but, after 18 months, more than one million had been built. Fast forward to the end of 2018, and more than 10 million had rolled off Ford’s US production lines. For perspective, it’s outsold the Porsche 911 ( that other long-standing, iconic sports car) by a factor of 10 to one.
Admittedly, there are some dodgy moments in Mustang history. By the time the first-generation model had gone out of production, the Mustang’s swelling proportions had morphed it into a completely different car from the timeless original, while the second- and third-generation models are probably best forgotten about entirely. But even after those years in the wilderness, the Mustang still commands a huge amount of gravitas even today.
A return to styling form in more recent times is arguably a big part of the reason why. So too is the fact that the sixth-generation Mustang was the first to be offered in right-hand drive. More than anything, though, I’d wager it’s what’s under the bonnet that’s elevated the Mustang to its icon status: the V8 engine.
Sure, there are plenty of cars that remain powered by V8 engines today, but tightening emissions regulations mean the vast majority are smaller-capacity, turbocharged affairs. The Mustang? Somehow, it’s managed to retain a V8 of the large-capacity, naturally aspirated variety – which makes it quite a rare thing. The Lexus LC is the only other car I can think of that you can buy new today with a naturally aspirated V8 at its nose.
So, the Ford Mustang is a bit of a dinosaur, then. A member of a dying breed. But the fact that it continues to be a champion of the old school is exactly why you should vote for it. Trust me, you’ll miss it when it’s gone.
More potent petrol engine shared with the Golf GTI gives Audi’s second-generation compact SUV welcome added pace
As refined and versatile as the new Audi Q3 was when we first drove it last year, its entry-grade petrol engine felt at odds with its newly gained premium ethos.Here was a car that had grown in size to make room in Audi’s burgeoning range for the Q2 and in the process gained a tech-focused interior partly distilled from the A8 limousine. And yet it was saddled with a 1.5-litre turbo four-pot that only just felt up to the task.The new 45 TFSI aims to set that right, with the same 2.0-litre turbo engine that powers a multitude of other Volkswagen Group models, including the venerable Volkswagen Golf GTI. Tuned here to deliver 227bhp and 258lb ft, it's partnered with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and quattro all-wheel drive. The combination should give the Q3 more of an edge over the increasing list of premium ‘soft-roader’ SUVs, which includes the Volvo XC40, BMW X2 and new Range Rover Evoque.The 45 TFSI is available in range-topping Vorsprung edition or the S line trim tested here, which gets you 19in alloy wheels, a sportier bodykit and lowered suspension, augmented in our test car by optional adaptive dampers. It retains the expansive and well-appointed interior of the base Q3, complete with digital instrument display and sizeable central infotainment screen.
Mercedes-AMG's CLS53 already features a mild hybrid powertrain
Performance sub-brand likely to use a tuned version of EQ range's hybrid system
Mercedes-AMG is likely to develop a plug-in hybrid version of every model in its line-up in the future, featuring a performance-tuned version of Mercedes-Benz’s EQ Power system.
The move is part of a major push of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) technology being undertaken by Mercedes as a key element of its ?9 billion electrification programme to dramatically reduce fleet CO2 emissions. As previously reported by Autocar, the first Mercedes-AMG PHEVs are expected in 2020.
Mercedes-AMG currently offers a number of mild-hybrid models, including the CLS 53 and E53. These feature the firm’s EQ Boost-branded 48V starter/generator, which can deliver an additional 22bhp and 184lb ft of torque. However, the need to meet increasingly tight EU fleet emissions targets means that these are likely to be an intermediary step.
Mercedes' head of external affairs for emissions, Frank Overmeyer, expressed his personal view that: "All the AMG vehicles will be available in the future with plug-in hybrids as an option. Mild hybrid is not the strategy of AMG, because the emissions savings are too small.” Overmeyer is not involved in the management or development of AMG models.
Mercedes-Benz currently offers PHEV variants of the C-Class, E-Class and S-Class under the EQ Power badge, with GLC and GLE versions coming soon. The firm will launch 20 PHEV variants by the end of 2020, with an A-Class using a new plug-in powertrain developed specifically for compact cars due imminently.
The models all feature the firm’s third-generation PHEV system. This uses an electric motor that produces 121bhp and 325lb ft and offers around 31 miles of electric-only range. Mercedes is working to extend that range with the next S-Class, due in 2020, which is expected to use a system that offers 62 miles of zero-emission power.
Future Mercedes PHEV performance models, including those in the Mercedes-AMG line-up, are likely to use a version of that system but branded EQ Power+ (matching the team’s Formula 1 car) and tuned for extra performance at the expense of some range.
“The battery itself and the application, including the electric motor, will be the same, and you can have a significant boost [in performance] that will reduce the range, but the experience will be better,” said Overmeyer. “Same battery, same drivetrain, different application. In an SUV, it might offer 100km [62 miles]. It might only be 60km or 70km [37-43 miles] in an AMG.”
Although the need to reduce average fleet emissions is pushing manufacturers towards electric and other highly efficient tech, Overmeyer said high-performance AMG models will remain a key part of the Mercedes line-up.
“They are the technical icons of our brand,” he said. “We should also never forget that the new world, these electric vehicles, need to be funded, and it’s being funded by our existing high-profit vehicles.”
Youngest champion of all time needs a great season under new boss at Ferrari
Good off-season, Herr Vettel? Only his kith and kin could tell you the truth. But from this distance, it’s easy to imagine Ferrari’s number one driver battling a demon or two during the bleak mid-winter.
The string of mistakes committed by Sebastian last season spiralled into a personal nightmare for the once imperious four-time world champion. Vettel didn’t suddenly become a poor racing driver. Indeed, victories in Melbourne, Bahrain, Montr?al, Silverstone and Spa were all straight from his already bulging top drawer. But in between he made some terrible blunders, skidding off from the lead at a damp Hockenheim in front of his home crowd surely the most cringe-inducing.
That’s why, at still only 31 years old, the man who became the youngest-ever world champion at just 23 could potentially be facing F1 oblivion. Right now, ahead of this term’s first race in Melbourne on Sunday, it’s the sport’s most diverting narrative thread: Vettel is driving for his career. How has it come to this?
The Ferrari factor is significant. After years of misfires, the team finally handed him the fastest car on the grid last year – but it lacked the nous to use it. Vettel cut a lonely figure at times, too often leading from the cockpit on crucial decisions that should have been called from leaders on the pit wall.
At least Maurizio Arrivabene – the divisive team boss who made Jos? Mourinho look sunny – has been sacked. Under respected Mattia Binotto, now promoted to the top job, Vettel should enjoy a Solskjaer-like boost in team energy. The trouble now, though, could be the guy in the other corner.
Instead of old mate Kimi R?ikk?nen, whom for most of their four years together Vettel had in his pocket, Seb faces 21-year-old Charles Leclerc, who planted Saubers in places he wasn’t supposed to during a brilliant rookie season last year. The last time Vettel faced such an intra-team threat was when Daniel Ricciardo pitched up at Red Bull in 2014, and it didn’t end well for him. Seb left for Ferrari.
Only a fool would write off such a man, especially in the wake of Ferrari’s promising testing form. He’s contracted until the end of 2020, but history shows at this team that’s little security. Vettel could well end the season as world champion – or with his fine career in tatters.
ANE quotes Volkswagen sales boss J?rgen Stackmann as saying: "We think it's better to come early next year with a full throttle offensive. It doesn't have anything to do with production. It's a sales decision since you don't try to put cars under the Christmas tree 9ie put the car on sale in December] when no one is paying attention."
VW had originally planned to launch the new Golf at the Frankfurt motor show. Instead Stackmann says the ID EV will be launched in Frankfurt. Stackmann also denied German media reports that the delay was a result of technical issues with the car's digital dashboard and infotainment architecture.
A VW UK spokesman added that the delay was unlikely to impact UK deliveries significantly, as they were always scheduled for early 2020.
Surprisingly, the news comes just a week after the new Golf was photographed undisguised during final testing.
The latest version of the Ford Focus rival has previously been spied without a camouflage livery, but the images – featuring several cars in a variety of colours – were the clearest yet. They showed how the eighth-generation version will maintain the familiar styling of the Golf, but that it will be sharpened and refined in line with the latest Volkswagen designs.
Volkswagen management have also begun offering some details about the latest version of the Golf, the most important machine in the firm's range.
Speaking at the Geneva motor show, Stackmann said the new Golf maintained the heritage of previous versions, but with the benefits of new technology.
"The new Golf will be everything people loved for years, but now made digital," said Stackmann. "People want a Golf – it's iconic – but now there's a huge leap forward in the digitisation inside it. It's still a Golf, but now digital. It's kept what people have loved and moved it to the next phase."
Stackmann also confirmed there will be no e-Golf in the next generation to avoid overlap with the ID hatch and the range will instead "end with the GTE" in terms of electrification, with all future electric VWs based on the firm's dedicated electric platform.
The GTI and R will be replaced, with the R again the range-topper. That means there will be no huge power boost for the hybrid GTE. Stackmann said there will be an announcement on the GTD, without confirming whether or not it will return.
The new Ford Focus rival was previously photographed by Volkswagen fan and Instagram user johannes.vag when it was passing through a McDonald's drive-thru in Germany with virtually no protective camouflage.
The car in the shots tallies with last year's official preview sketch and Autocar's previous renderings, with a typically evolutionary design approach for the firm's range mainstay and detailing adapted from the smaller Polo. A new grille and light design - previewed by the latest TouaregSUV - was hinted at in the sketch, but that family resemblance isn't as evident in this prototype - likely because some trim pieces are still covered.
The Mk8 Golf will have levels of fuel-saving technology, connectivity, autonomous driving capability and refinement that are intended to render the mainstream competition second best.
Its exterior styling will be an evolutionary design that again emphasises a wide, flowing C-pillar. There is expected to be a little more sharp-edged definition to the bodywork, following the template of the latest Polo. The GTI version will feature large corner air vents in its lower bumper, as previewed by the GTI TCR concept earlier this year.
Volkswagen will use the Mk8 Golf to introduce a powerful 48V mild-hybrid powertrain and a new range of micro-hybrids. There will also be versions powered by compressed natural gas, but there won’t be a new electric Golf, because Volkswagen will begin introducing its new ID range of electric cars shortly after the Mk8 is launched.
The model’s range will be simplified, with the three-door and estate bodystyles the most likely candidates for the axe. With consumers increasingly turning to SUVs and crossovers, and with makers of large mainstream cars under significant cost and profit pressures, insiders say the Golf Mk8 will attempt to lure buyers who are downsizing from larger cars and premium models such as the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, offering more cabin and luggage space than is normal in this segment, outstanding refinement and exceptional fuel economy.
The new Golf will have a noticeably wider track and even more room in the already spacious cabin, as well as a marginally longer wheelbase and a bigger boot than its hatchback rivals.
The car is also expected to have an interior that’s almost completely devoid of conventional switches, at least on the higher-end models. Volkswagen design boss Klaus Bischoff has been quoted as saying that the Mk8’s interior is a “total” digital environment, with the steering wheel the only conventional component. Touchscreens will replace the traditional instrument binnacle and the climate controls. Even the headlight switch could be replaced by a touchpad.
Update of Mk7 platform
The basis for the next Golf is an updated version of the versatile MQB platform used by today’s model. VW insiders suggest it will use a greater percentage of lightweight metal than the existing structure for a 50kg reduction in weight.
Planned modifications to the construction process are also said to provide more streamlined production and reduced build times as part of a strategy aimed at improving the economy of scale and profitability of VW’s best-selling model.
Although there is still some time to go before the new Golf’s introduction, VW says it has already locked in the car’s design, which has been developed under the guidance of the company’s latest design boss, Michael Mauer, who was responsible for the styling of the current Porsche line-up.
Those privy to the latest clay model mock-ups say the new Golf advances the classic hatchback look of its predecessors, with familiar proportions, reinterpreted details and simple surfacing to make it instantly recognisable as a Golf.
Key styling features described to Autocar include a thin horizontal grille bookmarked by smaller angular headlights than those in use today, with a distinctive LED daytime running light graphic. The new car is also said to have more pronounced wheel arches and a heavily defined side swage line, in combination with typically wide C-pillars and a relatively upright tailgate.
Petrol and diesel engines
The new Golf Mk8 will get a range of 12V mild-hybrid engines for the entry-level and mid-range variants. The 1.5-litre TSI ACT petrol unit will be carried over from today’s Golf Mk7 but this will be joined by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol motor and an all-new 1.5-litre diesel, which is also likely to be sold as a 12V mild hybrid. Autocar understands that the assistance of the mild-hybrid system’s starter/ generator lessens the load on the engine and reduces the spikes of NOx emissions from the diesel’s exhaust.
One of the more intriguing rumours is that the 1.0-litre petrol engines might not be turbocharged at all, but could instead rely solely on direct assistance from a belt-driven starter/generator motor (SGM). The thinking is that the SGM will provide enough extra power and torque for the base engines, allowing the turbocharger, intercooler and associated piping and control systems to be dropped.
The Golf Mk8’s diesel line-up will include the new 2.0 TDI (codenamed EA288 Evo) engine. VW says the base version of this unit has been significantly re-engineered to reduce exhaust pollution. There is a more efficient and responsive turbocharger and the engine is lighter, loses less heat and has reduced internal friction.
More important, the engine’s particulate filter and catalyst have been resized for improved performance, particularly over time. VW claimed the engine offers an average of 9% more torque and power together with an average 10g/km decrease in CO2 emissions. The firm said the new diesel unit will come in versions ranging from 135bhp to 201bhp and will be seen in Audi models before being installed in the Golf Mk8 next year.
VW has already released details of the Golf’s 1.5-litre TGI Evo natural gas engine, production of which starts this year. Based on the 1.5-litre TSI engine, the TGI unit uses the same Miller cycle valve timing and a variable geometry turbocharger. It develops 129bhp and 148lb ft from 1400rpm when installed in the Golf Mk7. VW claims that this engine emits about 93g/km of CO2 on the NEDC cycle when it is hooked up to the standard- issue dual-clutch gearbox. Natural gas engines are also lower in NOx and particulate emissions than diesel and cars can be refilled from the gas mains network via small wall-mounted compressors. However, the lack of a natural gas infrastructure in the UK means this variant is unlikely to reach these shores.
The new or upgraded powertrains will be offered in combination with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, depending on their configuration. Alongside front-wheel drive, VW also plans to offer optional four-wheel drive (which it calls 4Motion) in selected models, like it has done in the previous four generations of its perennial best seller.
Two kinds of mild hybrid
The big surprise for the Golf Mk8 drivetrains is that VW says it will be investing in both 12V and 48V mild-hybrid systems after the company re-engineered the Golf family MQB electrical architecture (one of the more expensive component systems in a car) to accommodate a 48V system. Until now, 48V mild hybrids have only been used in premium VW Group cars such as the Bentley Bentayga and Audi SQ7.
Frank Welsch, VW’s technical development boss, has already revealed the firm’s new ‘affordable’ 48V system, which uses a belt-integrated starter/ generator/alternator to assist the engine by providing extra power and torque directly to the engine’s crankshaft.
The key to adopting 48V in a mass-market car was VW and its suppliers developing a less expensive and more compact set-up, which uses a small DC-to-DC converter and small lithium ion battery.
Welsch said the 48V set-up allows much greater amounts of energy to be recuperated than with 12V systems, which means significantly improved fuel economy. These new mild-hybrid engines can also start and stop extremely quickly, which will allow the Golf Mk8 to switch in and out of coasting mode when driving, making further fuel savings.
Connected tech takes precedence
VW sources have already promised that the next Golf will be ‘always connected’. Using the same eSIM card that has already appeared in the new Touareg, the Golf Mk8 will be permanently connected to the internet. This will allow the car to tap into 3D satellite mapping, hybrid radio (where the audio system finds the strongest signal for a station, whether analogue or digital) and the option of live information such as the latest pricing at nearby fuel stations.
The permanent connectivity opens the way for these future models to ‘read’ the topography of the road from 3D mapping, for example, and switch to coasting when heading downhill, or approaching a junction.
Autonomous driving will be a key feature of VW's best-seller in its eighth generation, as the brand will shoehorn even more advanced autonomous technology into the new model, as well as ensuring that it is the most connected car in the company's history, ahead of the all-electric ID hatchback that's also due in late 2019.
Head of VW's compact series, Karlheinz Hell, revealed: "The next Golf will take Volkswagen into the era of fully connected vehicles with extended autonomous driving functions. It will have more software on board than ever before. It will always be online and its digital cockpit and assistance systems will be the benchmark in terms of connectivity and safety."
The current Golf benefits from VW's semi-autonomous Traffic Jam Assist system, which controls the steering, acceleration and braking of the car under 37mph, so it's certain that the Mk8 model will take a leap in advancement over this. Elsewhere, the Audi A8 is the first car in the wider VW Group to achieve level three autonomy where permitted.
Golf to set VW design agenda
While the new Golf will be an evolutionary take on the outgoing car, it will feature new design elements that design chief Klaus Bischoff described being “more fluid, more sporty with a very unique face”.
It’s part of a new VW strategy to differentiate its standard model range from the new ID family of electric cars, said Bischoff: “[ID is] a new world of proportions and totally new bodystyles which are more emotional. As we go through the ceiling design- wise on ID cars, we need to echo that with ICE cars, so these will have more sporty proportions [and] a more progressive, clean design.”
Bischoff said future cars will remain faithful to VW’s traditional design cues: “We are looking to our origins so no ‘me too’ products. They will all remain as very individual VWs.
“If you look at front- of-car designs, nearly everybody is copying Audi. VW will go down its own road to stay true to the brand, and not look over the fence to others.”
Volkswagen reaps MQB’s rewards
Volkswagen’s MQB architecture underpins its best-selling model, the Golf, of which 968,284 were sold in 2017.
The modular toolkit is used for most of the firm’s most successful models. In total, five MQB models currently account for 3.8 million global sales.
The firm’s second-bestseller last year was the Jetta/Sagitar (the latter is a Chinese-market compact saloon), with 883,346 units sold. The seventh-generation Jetta, which went on sale this year, is now based on MQB, as are the firm’s two next best-sellers: the Tiguan SUV (769,870 sold), in both short- and long-wheelbase forms, and the Polo.
The Lavida, a Jetta-sized MQB saloon sold only in China, is the firm’s sixth best-selling model, with 507,000 made in 2017. That leaves the Passat/Magotan family, which is sold in Europe, the US and China. Current European versions of this model are built on MQB, with the US and Chinese versions switching to the architecture in 2019, adding another 660,000 or so MQB cars to the sales total.
Those figures are simply for Volkswagen itself: the MQB toolkit is also used widely across the group’s other brands.
Practical Leon ST gains 4WD, and nearly 300bhp. Is this the car that should have launched the Cupra brand?
This is not, I repeat not, a Cupra Leon R ST. Never mind the aggressive styling, quad tailpipes or shouty alloys - just ignore all of that. What this grey and copper-coated thug of a fast estate is, is a Seat: the Seat Leon Cupra R ST, to be exact, and only 150 of them are coming to the UK.It seems a bit of a backwards step in terms of naming strategy, doesn’t it? Especially when you remember how militant Martorell was in its insistence that the Cupra Ateca was, you know, a Cupra and definitely not a Seat. Establishing a dedicated performance arm and then not naming your latest - and potentially most appealing - performance machine accordingly seems odd to me, but I’m no branding whizz. Seat says that as this generation of Leon was Cupra-ised before the sub-brand split, it will continue to call it a Seat until the next-generation Leon comes along. So it’ll be 2020 before we see a genuine Cupra Leon, then.In the meantime, Seat Leon Cupra R ST will have to do. And, head-scratcher of a naming strategy aside, it bears all the hallmarks of a proper road weapon. As with the Leon Cupra R hatchback, the Volkswagen Group’s ubiquitous EA888 engine sits at its nose, where it develops 296bhp and 295lb ft. But while the hatch is a front-driven manual, the estate’s power is distributed to all four wheels via a seven-speed DSG. Such a set-up will no doubt be familiar (think Audi SQ2, Volkswagen Golf R et al), but here it carries a bit more significance: Seat claims this is its first car capable of hitting 62mph from a standstill in less than five seconds. Admittedly, 4.9sec is only a touch below that mark, but the novelty of being able to do it in a practical wagon with a 482-litre boot and enough room in the back for two taller adults will take some time to wear thin.Elsewhere, the Leon Cupra R ST gets new suspension uprights to increase negative camber at both axles to two degrees; adaptive dampers for even tighter body control; 340mm Brembo front brakes; super-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres; and an Alcantara-clad interior. How very sporty.
Range-topping electric saloon's two motors, fed by a 75kWh battery, send 444bhp to all four wheels, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 3.4sec and a WLTP range of 330 miles
We're driving one of the very first examples of the Tesla Model 3 to hit European roads. Some said it would never make it here, others that it would never live up to the hype if it did. Experience teaches that you’re either with or against the ever-controversial Elon Musk and his world-leading electric car manufacturer.And if you’re with him, you may very well be angrily shouting things at your keyboard right now, as I imagine fully paid-up members of the Teslarati habitually do when defending the company’s honour on social media. You may be shouting things about how Musk really does keep his promises and that we should know better than to question him. Hmm. About how despite early difficulties with the production volumes associated with the Model 3, Tesla has already smashed its 5000-cars-per-week factory target and is now aiming for 10,000. About how, having promised a $35,000 version of the car back at launch, Tesla has just delivered North American customers exactly that.Let’s give the man some well-earned credit, then. Musk is, slowly but surely, realising a project considered by many so ambitious as to be way beyond his company’s abilities when it was first mooted. If the Model 3 succeeds, it will undoubtedly be the car that transforms Tesla from bit-part player to global player – although the recently announced downsizing of its global dealer network might suggest that outcome is still not guaranteed.At any rate, the haters can clearly suck tailpipe on one score; while the Model 3 is still several months from becoming available in the UK and in right-hand drive form, deliveres have now commenced in Europe – albeit only in its richer and more expensive forms. And it’s the first Tesla to come here with a CCS charging port, so it’s compatible not only with Tesla’s own proprietary Supercharger network but also the majority of other public rapid chargers: another significant score on everyday usability.Both versions that Europeans can now order have two electric motors and the biggest-available 75kWh battery pack. The Dual Motor Long Range is rated for a WLTP-accredited 338 miles of range, makes a combined 346bhp and will hit 62mph from rest in 4.7sec. The Performance we’re testing gives up a smidgeon of that range but counters with a combined 444bhp and a claimed 0-62mph time of 3.4sec.The Performance, however, is likely to come to the UK pricelist with a five-figure price tag beginning in a six. But if you bought into the big sell about the everyman Tesla, don’t fear: there will be several lesser versions, the cheapest of which, the Standard Range, should be sold (50kWh battery, one motor, circa-220-mile range, sub-6.0sec 0-62mph time) in the UK at around ?35,000.But we’ll have to wait for another day to report on that. For now, it’s the range-topping Performance we’re getting acquainted with.
Optional Abt upgrade boosts estate version of range-topping hot hatch to 365bhp
The limited-run Leon Cupra R ST has officially become Seat's fastest production car yet, with an optional, factory-approved Abt tuning package increasing the hot estate's power output from 296bhp to 365bhp.
The Cupra R ST is based on the recent range-topping Leon Cupra R hatch and uses the same 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and seven-speed DSG gearbox. It has a top speed of 155mph and achieves a claimed 0-62mph time of 4.9 seconds.
The Abt tuning package, which adds ?500 to the car's ?37,945 list price, brings that sprint time down to 4.5 seconds. Abt detailing on the rear badge separates it from the standard car. A total of 150 cars will be coming to the UK.
Where the Cupra R hatchback was front-wheel drive only, the ST estate uses a four-wheel-drive system, with subtle tweaks to the wheel camber on both axles aimed at improving ride quality and cornering speed.
As with the hatch version, the R ST is marked out from the rest of the Leon range by copper exterior trim and use of carbonfibre on the front splitter, mirrors, side skirts and rear diffuser. Brembo performance brakes sit behind 19in alloy wheels, while the four exhaust tips hint at the model’s performance potential.
Inside, the door panels are finished in a carbonfibre-style pattern, while the vent surrounds, steering wheel badge and stitching are finished in the same copper colour as the exterior trim.
An 8in touchscreen, Alcantara steering wheel and gearshift, keyless entry and rear-view camera are also fitted as standard.
The driver and front passenger sit in sports-style bucket seats, which Seat says encourage an enthusiastic driving style, while maintaining comfort on longer journeys.
Antonino Labate, director of strategy, business development and operations for Cupra, said the new Cupra R ST is “the amalgamation of the brand’s experience in motor racing and the ability of our design and engineering teams to seamlessly mix performance and functionality”.
The company also predicts that 80% of all its vehicles globally will be based on the MQB platform, which was first used in 2012.
Volkswagen says it wants to be the world’s "number one brand in e-mobility" and expects to be building 1 million battery electric vehicles (BEVs) by 2025. The company claims that its new BEV production plant in Zwickau, Germany will ensure that the entire ID production process is CO2-neutral.
It says the battery cells will be manufactured with "green electricity" and that Zwickau will also use this to manufacture the ID itself, while all ID models will be recycled at the end of their working lives.
Zwickau, which has received a ˆ1.2 billion (?1.0bn) investment, will have a capacity of 350,000 cars a year by 2021 and eventually produce six different models for the Volkswagen, Skoda and Audi brands.
The entry-level ID will cost just under ˆ30,000 (?25,800 today). A version with a range of 340 miles will also be offered, but Volkswagen hasn’t yet stated a price for this model.
Pre-orders for the ID will begin on 8 May and shipments will start at the end of the year. It and the new Golf will be connected to Volkswagen's new We network ecosystem, wherein all vehicles will be given a registered identity, allowing Volkswagen to have direct contact with individual drivers.
These drivers will also have increasing access to live information such as traffic, weather and parking availability, as wireless software updates and contact with service departments.
Company bosses say that over the next few years, the connected cars will have around a billion lines of software code – around 100 times more than a smartphone.
Volkswagen also revealed that it expects to dramatically bring down its fleet CO2 emissions by the beginning of 2020, from around 125g/km to around 95g/km. It says it suffered from a shortage of petrol engines in 2018 as the shift away from diesel in Europe was more marked than expected.
Next 30 years will see a reduction in bottlenecks with the addition of more dual carriageways
A ?30 billion roads plan to improve transport links in northern England over the next 30 years has been rubber-stamped by the government, with a fully dual-carriageway A66 from Scotch Corner to Penrith a priority.
The 50-mile road is an infamous bottleneck and top of the list of road projects being pushed by Transport for the North (TfN).
The A66 dualling is tipped to go into the next Highways England Road Investment Strategy (RIS2), which will be finalised later this year and run for five years at a cost of ?30 billion.
“We could possibly make a start on the A66 in RIS2,” said TfN’s road director, Peter Molyneux. “The north only has one east-west dual carriageway and we really need to improve links across the region.”
Post-Brexit strategic thinking suggests that Britain will need much better road and rail links to the ports to reduce time lost to traffic jams, if only to compensate for custom delays. Speedier transit times across the Pennines would also benefit trade with Scottish ports, which could become more important after Brexit.
The AA’s president, Edmund King, is broadly supportive of road improvements like the A66, but he questions whether TfN yet has enough push with the government, especially because strategic roadbuilding budgets are controlled by Highways England.
“It is certainly important to get local MPs, trade unions and residents together to build a political consensus,” said King.
Outline business cases for TfN’s two other major road projects in the north are also scheduled to be completed soon. This summer, Molyneux expects to have the business case for the Trans-Pennine Tunnel between Manchester and Sheffield completed. In broad terms, each ?1 spent on any road project has to return at least ?1.50 in economic improvements.
Current plans would place the Trans-Pennine Tunnel on the route of the A628, north of Sheffield, where it would also relieve traffic from the Peak District National Park. Junctions and access points for the park are being planned to make the area more accessible for tourists, benefiting the local economy.
TfN’s third major roads project is called the Manchester North West Quadrant – a project to improve the M60, M62, M61 and M66 motorways. The M60 circles Manchester and the M62 links it with Leeds. TfN’s business case for this project is scheduled to be completed in autumn 2020.
Easy to park and cheap to run, these six subcompacts can be leased for less than ?155 a month
Leasing can be an affordable, practical route into having your own private car, but it's not always easy to tell the good deals from the duds.
The experts at our sister magazine What Car? work hard to find you the best pay-monthly schemes, taking into account mileage allowance, montly outlay, contract length and initial deposit. We'll be bringing you the best deals they find from a different segment each week.
This week, it's city cars:
1. Kia Picanto 1.0
?121 per month, ?727 deposit, 48 months, 8000 miles per year
In a highly competitive class, the Kia Picanto is a strong contender. This model’s three-pot engine is well suited to town driving but, for longer journeys, the more powerful four-cylinder is preferable.
?122 per month, ?734 deposit, 48 months, 8000 miles per year
Having first arrived in 2007, the Fiat 500 is due to be replaced later this year, so there are tempting lease deals to be had. Despite its advancing years, the 500 remains one of the most popular city cars on sale.
?129 per month, ?772 deposit, 48 months, 10,000 miles per year
The previous i10 used to be our favourite city car but the sector is more competitive than ever now. This new model is perfectly adequate, but with a bland cabin and unengaging handling, it’s no class leader.
?129 per month, ?772 deposit, 48 months, 10,000 miles per year
Not as good to drive as some of its rivals and cramped in the back, even for a city car, the Adam majors instead on personalisation. There are 12 body colours to choose from, plus contrast roofs and decal packs.
?151 per month, ?910 deposit, 36 months, 8000 miles per year
The Seat Mii – along with the Volkswagen Up and Skoda Citigo that are indistinguishable beneath the skin – is the best city car on sale right now. It combines grown-up motorway manners with lively handling.
?153 per month, ?919 deposit, 36 months, 10,000 miles per year
With chunky mini-SUV styling, the Ignis is one of the more distinctive city cars of the moment. Even entry-level SZ3 trim has air-con, electric windows and Bluetooth. Good but not exceptional to drive.
Movie star, race track hero and video game weapon of choice - Nissan's Skyline holds the same poster appeal as any Ferrari or Lamborghini
Is the Nissan Skyline GTR your favourite automotive icon? Read what we think and cast your vote
The Nissan Skyline is in the running to be this year’s Autocar Awards Readers’ Champion. Each day a different member of the Autocar team will champion one of the 17 cars, but only one can be the Icon of Icons and it’s up to you to decide - vote here.
There is room for only one technologically over-saturated smack around the chops for the supercar fraternity and it’s called the Skyline GT-R. The name is legendary: synonymous with turbocharged Japanese muscle, endless traction and an overflowing homologation catalogue. As the brand’s flagship performance car, Nissan once even entered the GT-R into the Le Mans 24 Hours, where it was beaten by another GTR: the McLaren F1. Judge a car by the company it keeps, and all that…
So why is the GT-R an icon? It didn’t save its maker from financial ruin – nothing so noble as that. And you certainly can’t pretend it changed for the better the lives of millions, like the Mini or Land Rover. Unlike the Jeep, it hasn’t won any wars and neither has it helped rebuild an entire economy, as the Volkswagen Beetle did. No, the importance of the Nissan – always GT-R, but without ‘Skyline’ since the introduction of the current R35 – is more specific to Autocar readers than that. Simply, every generation has been a powerful demonstration of how you engineer in the latest, greatest, most breathtaking vehicle technologies without removing the driver from the process. And what could be more pertinent in 2019?
Anybody who has driven an R35 knows this, and therefore understands the injustice this car suffers – accusations of video-game dynamics, a turn of pace entirely reliant on computer programming and anodyne controls. Dross. It’s almost a relief to slide into a GT-R these days, to fire it up and hear the mechanical differentials and gearbox hardware clunking and whirring until the oil temperature has risen sufficiently. You have to bide your time, acclimatise to the sturdy steering and mentally steel yourself for the task of guiding what remains arguably the quickest car of this size and weight.
Gone are the days when a Porsche 911 would slurp up your attention in this manner before the driving proper had even commenced. Conversely, the GT-R has always delivered its high-tech wares with a dose of gritty engrossment. It is, in short, an event.
So, again, why is the GT-R an icon? Well, all of the above. Plus it has a rich, complex history that stretches back to 1969, when the gorgeous PGC10 was born. Twenty years later, the model evolved to become more recognisably ‘Skyline GT-R’ as we now know it. That was the R32 – conceived for Group A racing and which duly tore the Japanese Touring Car Championship apart in the late 1980s with 29 wins from 29 starts. Its R33 successor was the first production car to dip below eight minutes in the incipient N?rburgring wars, and the R34 simply needs no introduction. For a time, millions of young petrolheads dreamed of one day owning and cherishing a Bayside Blue brute – a near-mythical device of exotic origin, space-age engineering and bewildering pace.
Fact is, most of them still do. That a humble Nissan could be more coveted than a Ferrari or Lamborghini seems absurd, but true icons can do that.