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  1. Yesterday
  2. Seat's e-Scooter and e-Kickscooter Spanish firm's first electric motorcycle will go on sale in Spain in 2020 and might come to Britain later on Seat has expanded into two-wheeled transport with the reveal of its new e-Scooter – and the electric motorcycle is tipped to be sold in the UK. The new machine, based on a design by Spanish electric bike firm Silence, was unveiled at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona along with an e-Kickscooter concept. Seat has established a new business unit that will aim to develop such ‘urban mobility’ vehicles. The e-Scooter will go on sale next year in Spain, and the firm is considering offering it in the UK. A Seat UK spokesperson said: “We are very interested and favourable towards the idea of the Seat city electric scooter, but we need to look at the business case and then make a decision.” The reaction of the British public will influence the decision. “We’ve already had a lot of positive interest,” added the Seat UK spokesperson, “and that is really helping us with the decision.” A move into two-wheelers could change Seat’s brand, moving it closer to territory occupied by BMW, Honda and Suzuki as makers of both two and four-wheeled transport. The e-Scooter features a 7kW motor, which offers a peak rate of 11kW, mounted in the rear wheel. It offers power roughly equivalent to a 125cc petrol engine. A range of 71 miles and a top speed of 62mph are claimed, and the battery can be removed for recharging at home. The e-Scooter is seen as a match for Seat’s younger car owners; the average age of a Seat buyer is eight to 10 years lower than for other European brands. However, customers in their late teens and early 20s are increasingly looking to car sharing and ride hailing to satisfy their transport needs, rather than car ownership, especially in cities. With that in mind, Seat has also revealed a replacement for its kick Scooter, a rebadged Segway model. Together with the Minimo two-seat electric quadricycle shown in the spring, Seat has unveiled three urban mobility machines in the past nine months, while the order books for the new Seat Mii Electric have just opened. Seat boss Luca de Meo says the company’s aim is to “show how we can contribute to changes in urban mobility”. “Our micro-mobility vehicles are designed around short journeys, the ones where cars are probably not the ideal way to do it,” he said. De Meo has reorganised Seat’s mobility business units under the Urban Mobility banner and appointed Lucas Casanovas to run the operation. One of its first jobs is to develop a business case to put the Minimo into production. Casanovas says the intention remains to put the Minimo on sale in late 2021 or early 2022, but the project still awaits the green light. “It’s not a matter of the overall design but finding the right plastics for cleanliness and durability, the size of the battery, range and reliability, details like that,” he says. READ MORE Seat to launch electric scooter as urban mobility vehicle New Seat El-Born: 2020 electric hatchback begins testing Seat could rebrand as Cupra in upmarket push View the full article
  3. Interior upgrades aim to help sweet-handling saloon keep up with its fast-evolving rivals As one half of a two-pronged return to form, alongside the Stelvio SUV, the Giulia has helped re-establish Alfa Romeo as a purveyor of fine driving cars. But it hasn't been the sales success the brand was hoping for, losing out to rivals that may not be more dynamic but are certainly better equipped.That an improved infotainment system was the first bullet point on the press material for this facelifted version should indicate just how vocal customers and critics were over the Giulia’s shortcomings. Understandable, then, that this mid-life refresh seeks to add much-needed technology updates and overhaul interior fit and finish, rather than tweak an already stellar driving experience. So much so that beyond the handful of new paint options, the only exterior changes are to the trim level badges: silver lettering now signifies more mainstream models, black is reserved for sportier versions. The range has also been simplified to Super, Sprint, Lusso Ti and Veloce, with a new Business line dedicated to fleet sales in certain markets.The engine line-up also remains unchanged, with a 2.0-litre petrol and a 2.2-litre diesel (both turbocharged) available in several states of tune. The 276bhp of our Veloce Ti test car is the most potent until the refreshed Giulia Quadrifoglio comes on song next summer.View the full article
  4. Mild facelift for Alfa's engaging SUV targets perceived quality with cabin overhaul and greater focus on technology This is the latest version of Alfa Romeo’s strong-selling Stelvio, which can already claim to be one of the more dynamic SUVs on sale today. It has been largely responsible for turning around the marque’s recent fortunes, alongside the Giulia compact saloon, but Alfa itself admits there’s still room for improvement in what is a fiercely competitive category. It’ll come as little surprise, then, that this facelifted model focuses on improving the one area prospective customers have been most critical of: perceived quality. Indeed, when we road tested the Stelvio in 2017, the cabin stood out as “stylish enough to impress at a glance,” but was disappointing in terms of materials quality on closer inspection.Almost every other aspect of the car remains unchanged, including the line-up of 2.0-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel engines. Alfa Romeo falls behind other FCA brands in the running to receive electrified powertrains, and the fire-breathing 2.9-litre Quadrifoglio V6 won’t be updated until the middle of 2020. It is tested here as a top-spec oil burner, with 207bhp sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox and Alfa’s Q4 all-wheel drive.This refresh also sees the range simplified to Super, Sprint, Ti and Veloce models, with black badging to signify sportier trim levels and silver for more mainstream versions. Ti cars now get contrasting side skirts, wheel arches and a rear bumper meant to invoke the Alfa 164 of the 1980s, while Sprint and Veloce versions receive colour-matched mudguards.View the full article
  5. Buy a nearly new Mini and you could save a cool £5500 AA Cars' new survey reveals 74% of recently bought vehicles are used ones. No wonder when there's so much choice Drivers are now three times as likely to buy a used car over a new model.’ I think we get told this every year, when in fact this section of Autocar reminds you every single week that the thinking car buyer always takes the used option. In this case, the non-revelation comes from a survey by AA Cars. Anyway, as our jumping-off point, let’s use this fascinating stat: 74% of drivers said their most recent vehicle purchase was of a used one. According to AA Cars, 29% of those surveyed had bought a ‘nearly new’ car most recently. Actually that is a pretty sensible buy, whatever your definition is – be it a dealer demo, a pre-registered or a fresh-off-the-hire-fleet special. There is a lot of choice around. We’ll look at 2019 vehicles, and I would be happy enough with 11,000 miles, which leads us to a Mini 1.5 Cooper Sport II. That costs £14,499, which is a saving of £5500 on the new price, plus it comes with over £500 worth of extras. This car was at a supermarket and they offer a three-month warranty, but you would still have the balance of the manufacturer’s one anyway. Then again, I love a dealer demo and I really love the look of the current Volkswagen Polo. So a 1.0 TSI 115 R Line with 1000 miles at £18,990 isn’t a giveaway, but it was parked at a VW dealer. Starts to sound like a lot for a Polo, but it should do 45mpg and, as I’ve said, it looks the part. Instead of a small hatch, why not a great big estate car for less than ex-demo Polo money? I’m back at a supermarket and looking at a Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 Turbo D SRi VX-line Nav estate. Blimey, names are long, but what a great-looking stuff-hauler. This one had 10,000 miles and everything you would ever need as standard, as well as quite cool black alloys. Plus 50mpg on average and a massive load bay. All that for £17,999. Back at the car buying survey, there’s a solid 25% who bought used cars that are more than five years old. Those wanting a Mini, and many do, would only have to pay £6900 for a 2013 1.2 One. It’s got 42,000 miles, has a full history, black alloy wheels and Bluetooth, so as good as the nearly new one. Or how about a 2013 Polo 1.2 TDI BlueMotion with 69,000 miles for £4400? It will do almost 60mpg and that seems like a more credible price for a VW supermini. No point listing 2013 Insignias – there are millions of them and they have six-figure mileages. But, hey, a 2.0 CDTi Ecoflex Design Sport Tourer with 107k miles is £3800. Here’s the proof, then, that used cars are brilliant: they give you a ton of alternatives and deliver value for money whether nearly new or five years old. What we almost bought this week Mazda RX-8: If you like checking your engine oil, an RX-8 could be the car of your dreams. The 1.3-litre rotary motor loves a drink so be prepared to top it up every 1000 miles or so with Dexelia 5W-30 or 10W-40 semi-synthetic. We found a 2005-reg with full service history and 70,000 miles for £975. A compression test would be a good idea. Tales from Ruppert's garage Porsche Cayenne – mileage 104,462: Here you go – the Flying Pig lives to spend yet another year climate-changing the planet with its marginal fuel consumption. It sailed through the MOT with zero advisories, which is what you want with a massively complicated car like this. I asked my garage to do a minor service, so that was just oil and filters, but including the roadworthiness check it still came to £200. Never mind, that’s Porsche life. Also part of that life is making a trip to a Porker main dealer for some recall work. It’s a half-day adventure for me and I’ll tell you about the Flying Pig’s progress very soon. Reader's ride Jaguar S-Type: Julian at Balance Motorsport has shared this astounding S-Type project with us: “Japanese car fans would be horrified at the home the Civic Type R seats have found themselves in. The V6 has an incredibly broad power range and will pull from 1000rpm right up to 7000rpm. Due to a modified exhaust and air intake, it sounds a bit like a Ferrari GTO when driven hard. The eventual aim is to add a light pressure turbo and some aero appendages. It weighs 1400kg and we have more weight reduction planned.” Readers' questions Question: How has Alvis made its ancient engines ULEZ compliant with just fuel injection and engine management (Autocar, 2 October)? Adam Tedder, via email Answer: Alvis would call it good engineering. The company hired a combustion expert who said the cylinder head was a perfect design in terms of flow and spark plug position. The changes made on his advice were to fit the fuel injection, a catalytic converter and an engine management system, as well as increasing the compression ratio. The DVSA monitored the development of the cars before testing them to ensure they satisfied the Individual Vehicle Approval regulations, although these are not relevant in proving ULEZ compliance. It was a lot of work and too expensive to repeat on any old pre-2000 engine. JE Question: I’m torn between a Mk1 Peugeot 107, Citroën C1 and Toyota Aygo for my daughter. Which is the most reliable? Ted Avery, Hastings Answer: Having run a 107 for 12 months without fault, I have no hesitation in recommending one – but not necessarily over its sister cars. Instead, condition, specification and service history, rather than badge, should be your guide. All three are city cars, so when you’re shopping around, check the clutch’s biting point (too high and it could be on the way out). The absence of a temperature gauge means it’s also a good idea to check the coolant level and the water pump and expansion bottle for leaks. Make sure the exhaust isn’t about to turn to dust, too. JE READ MORE Mazda to launch innovative diesel engine next year Electric Mazda MX-30 concept revealed early by Japanese media New Jaguar F-Type: 2020 restyling shown with less disguise View the full article
  6. Speth has done much to establish Warwick University's National Automotive Innovation Centre, the Bhattacharyya Building. Within its portals, the future of mobility is being created. The British firm hasn't had the smoothest of rides lately, but Speth is optimistic that the future looks bright Ralf Speth likes talking about the future. It’s no surprise, given the challenges he has faced in the recent past. It can’t be much fun for Jaguar Land Rover’s CEO to keep raking over the ashes of a recent £3.6 billion financial loss that triggered cuts of 4500 jobs, something he took very personally. From his early days, looking forward has always been an important part of Speth’s make-up. At BMW, where he began a 20-year engineering career in 1980, it was a given among his generation that you embraced new technology and watched it lift the brand image while generating impressive sales. BMW was a very happy place for a young engineer to be. Let it not be forgotten, either, that for most of his nine years at the top of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Speth’s penchant for keeping the company focused on growth and constant improvement met unprecedented success: the company remains this nation’s largest car maker and biggest spender on research and development. Still, it is more than a year since Speth first signalled that things were going seriously wrong at JLR. The company was abruptly hit by a perfect storm of difficulties, including a disastrous drop in demand for diesels, rising Brexit fears, a rapid weakening of the Chinese market and a consequent need for a downward revaluation of JLR’s entire business. Within months, Speth (now Sir Ralf, in recognition of recent British citizenship and ‘confirmation’ of a previously awarded honorary KBE) unveiled a £2.5bn plan called ‘Charge and Accelerate’ aimed at dramatically cutting costs and improving cash flows. Much has been done, but it is still a work in progress. When I meet Speth at Warwick University’s National Automotive Innovation Centre – a magnificent car creation facility mainly established through Speth’s own unstinting efforts – the logical first question is to ask exactly how the recovery is proceeding. “We began our restructuring and transformation earlier than other companies in our kind of business because we are smaller than them,” Speth begins carefully, “which meant we struck problems earlier. We don’t have banks and insurance companies that let us spread difficulties as others can, so we were criticised early on. But others are now facing the same problems and ours are no longer a surprise. “Our advantage is we’re agile. We are on track to over-deliver on the short-term part of our programme, called Charge, to cut costs and improve cash flow.” JLR’s second-quarter results showed the truth of this, with a predicted upturn in fortunes – revenue up 8% year on year and a £156 million pre-tax profit – following impressive recent sales improvements, especially in China. Speth says: “The longer-term part of our plan, called Accelerate, aims to attack systemic issues like improving quality and time to market. That will take longer. We’ve asked our existing teams to meet and communicate better, and that’s also working. And a data analytics team of seasoned, experienced people I set up a couple of years ago has started paying off in a big way. “We’ve implemented our toughest decisions first. Do it any other way and you lose momentum…” Times have been tough, but it’s very telling that Speth (who turned 64 last month) continues firmly in the biggest job at JLR, unmolested by rumour mongers and financial denizens who have recently taken to giving other car industry leaders a hard time. “The task now is to prepare for new things,” says Speth, “to simplify our engine and model ranges as much as possible, and also to prepare some very go-ahead projects we have in the drawer.” “I’m so glad that during restructuring we haven’t had to reduce our investment much,” he says, reaching instinctively to the future. “I defend our big projects because they define segments and also earn salaries for our next generation. When this disturbance ends, we want to be ready.” Speth doesn’t seem to care much about what the car market will be like in a decade’s time, except to say that diesel and petrol cars will be around “for a long time”. He reckons maintaining a high degree of manufacturing flexibility holds the key – and already sees this policy, steadily maintained at JLR for years, starting to bear fruit. The centralisation of JLR engine manufacturing – production of modular triples, fours, sixes and EDUs (electric drive units) at the company’s Wolverhampton factory – is one huge move towards flexibility, allowing JLR to source conventional, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric powertrains from one site. The same goes for an embryo battery assembly operation at nearby Ham’s Hall, where a run of 7500-cell batteries even larger than that of the I-Pace (perhaps for the luxurious XJ saloon and its Land Rover sibling?) will be constructed by an automated process that involves 15,000 welding operations to be completed in just 11 minutes. However, Speth reserves special pride for the forthcoming Battery Industrialisation Centre (BIC), which is under construction on a huge site near Coventry Airport. There, the capabilities and innovations from universities all over the UK can be brought together in realistic manufacturing conditions – and also tested for re-use and recycling. Speth has long recognised the need for at least one UK battery gigafactory. Success for the BIC could lead directly to this – highly desirable provided the new place embraces next-gen technology and is run on a financially competitive basis. “This could be sensational for the UK,” says Speth, “but there’s no point in setting up a battery factory just to have one. It has to deliver great products at a competitive price.” The JLR chief may see his own company selling pure diesel and petrol vehicles for years to come, but his commitment to electrification and zero emissions – along with zero congestion and zero accidents – seems to be total. JLR’s factories are already carbon neutral. Speth is scathing about the fact that 1000 coal-fired power stations are currently under construction around the world – and critical of a German process that subsidises coal mining, sends the mined product to Poland for firing, then brings it back as clean fuel. “Does the environment know it’s clean?” he asks. Whatever the future, says the CEO, JLR must grow to be stable and successful. He’s optimistic about the prospects: “Of course, it’s not manufactured volume that matters: it’s cash in the pocket. But economies of scale are vital. To be competitive, you need advanced technologies and they’re expensive. If you’re VW and can divide your costs by 10 million, that helps. If you’re JLR and the figure is 600,000, it’s tougher.” I press for the ideal JLR annual production figure, admittedly without much hope. Speth is famous for not revealing targets. But maybe because it’s nearly Christmas, he relents. “A million is not out of reach,” he murmurs. “We have plans to expand our model range and we have some great designs in the drawer. But we must accompany any expansion with the very best sales and marketing techniques. But I believe we have the substance. Look at our cars in the high street: they are authentic, honest and they all have their own character. I am proud of that.” Speth is late for his next appointment so we really have to stop talking. Trouble is, I always find interviews with Speth turn into uplifting events and so I hang about to the last. This quietly spoken man has rare insight, quiet wit and a powerful ability to fill you with enthusiasm for the future. He is most definitely (we can say this now) a national treasure. It turns out that Speth likes quotes from great people, an enthusiasm I share, and I’m delighted to find that he recently used a favourite from Abraham Lincoln in a recent speech – as a way of inspiring others. “The best way to predict your future is to create it” was Lincoln’s killer line. Here and now in 2019, the person making best use of these words is a slim, moustachioed engineer from Munich, who nowadays lives in Leamington Spa. READ MORE 2020 Jaguar XJ: electric-only saloon teased at Frankfurt Jaguar could revive C-X75 concept as next-gen F-Type Why Jaguar Land Rover is back in profit View the full article
  7. Cooling down your motor with water injections increases power and combustion efficiency, as well as minimising harmful oxides One of the many technologies that’s still on the back burner but could contribute to lower fuel consumption and emissions while squeezing a tad more power from petrol engines is water injection. It stirred up a lot of interest back in 2016 when BMW introduced it on the fabulously excessive M4 GTS, but its use in recent years has been confined mainly to more extreme motorsports such as drag racing. Injecting water into the engine does a number of things. One is that it cools the combustion chamber as well as the incoming air, whereas an intercooler only does the latter. Reducing the temperature inside the combustion chamber reduces the threshold at which detonation (knock) occurs, so it’s possible to run higher boost and more advanced ignition timing before knock threatens. That in turn means more power and increased combustion efficiency. Another benefit is that cooling things down reduces the generation of the dreaded oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and this is what may drive the technology down the food chain and into more modest cars than the M4 GTS. NOx is created when the nitrogen in the air ingested into the engine is oxidised by the oxygen present in the high combustion temperatures. The same thing happens in both petrol and diesel engines, except the diesel produces more heat inside the combustion chamber because it runs lean (meaning more air) and at a higher compression ratio. Water injection doesn’t work so well for diesels, though, because it generates more soot. The M4 GTS system was developed by Bosch but is available to other manufacturers, and despite its use on the six-cylinder S55 M4 engine, Bosch says it’s ideal for three and four-cylinder engine applications. As things stand, virtually all turbocharged petrol cars exploit the cooling effect of injected petrol to help lower combustion chamber temperatures. As the fuel evaporates, the temperature drops (it’s called evaporative cooling). Water is more effective as it has a ‘high heat of vapourisation’, which means vapourising it consumes a lot of heat. As a result, injecting small amounts of water into the engine moments before injecting the fuel does a good job of cooling the incoming air – better than an intercooler alone can do. And the amount of water is small: Bosch says a few hundred millilitres will last over 60 miles. It does mean that the distilled water must be stored in a tank and replenished periodically, though. Bosch’s original figures show a 4% fuel consumption saving under Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Cycles (WLTC) protocols and 13% in real driving conditions. To keep it simple, the water is injected into the intake manifold’s plenum chamber rather than directly into the combustion chamber, making it easier to adapt for a wide range of engines. When Bosch offered its system to the wider market in 2016, it didn’t exactly have customers beating a path to the door, but as the screws tighten further on CO2 and toxic emissions, water injection may have a wider role to play. Why not use hydrogen? Running existing piston engines on hydrogen instead of petrol has been tried by many manufacturers but none has adopted the idea. Running the ideal (stoichiometric) air/fuel ratio creates a lot of NOx; double the amount of air and the NOx falls to nearly zero, but power is significantly reduced, too. So it’s a case of too much NOx or not enough power. READ MORE Under the skin: Why you can always count on ABS Under the skin: How Tesla is making cars think like humans Under the skin: How paint is improving EV batteries and autonomous cars View the full article
  8. Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up a week in gossip from across the automotive industry In this week's round-up of automotive gossip, we talk T-shirts with Ferrari, find out why Volkswagen feels "obligated" to reinvent old icons, chat hybrids with Toyota and more. Ferrari to a T The oft-made assertion that Ferrari makes more money selling branded hats and T-shirts than cars is “completely untrue”, according to a spokesman for the brand. Ferrari gets only a portion of the revenue from these products, with the rest going to the licensee. It has stated a new ambition to generate 10% of turnover from merchandise – a rise over today’s figure. VW's ID "obligation" Volkswagen has “an obligation” to make cars such as the ID Buzz (below) and ID Buggy – modern, electrified takes on the campervan and dune buggy – according to CEO Ralf Brandstätter, when asked if it was right to reinvent icons when VW is meant to be looking to the future. “These are cars only we could reinvent and demand from customers meant it was an obligation to do it,” he said. Mazda's sub plot Mazda is considering following brands such as Volvo by introducing a subscription service in the UK. MD Jeremy Thomson said: “Some customers, particularly millennials, demand a much simpler way of owning, driving, changing your car. It’s early thinking but we do see a place for it in the future.” Toyota's hybrid haven Toyota's hybrid-heavy sales mix allows it to continue producing models such as the Land Cruiser, Supra and GT86 beyond the introduction of tough fleet emissions targets in 2021, according to European vice-president, Matt Harrison. “Many manufacturers are rushing because they don’t have hybrids and are facing some pretty eye-watering penalties, but we don’t need to,” he said. READ MORE The man who buys the Ferraris you really shouldn't Volkswagen ID 3: vital EV revealed with up to 341-mile range Updated Toyota C-HR brings new hybrid engine, added kit View the full article
  9. Last week
  10. We join the 1900bhp electric hypercar's preview programme, which puts would-be owners behind the wheel of a Formula E race car When was the last time you failed to wrap your head around an unbelievable performance statistic? Or, have you become so accustomed to reading silly numbers that it’s now rare for anything to make you stop and think? Personally, not since discovering that the McLaren F1 could hit 60mph in 3.2sec – a surreal time recorded by this magazine in 1994 – have I struggled for words. That was, at least, until a moment ago, when 37-year-old German engineer Réne Wollmann explained that the Battista – yet another eye-wateringly expensive entry on the rapidly lengthening ‘hypercar’ roster, with deliveries due in 2020 – will almost halve the legendary McLaren’s sprint time, courtesy of 1900bhp and 1700lb ft from four electric motors. Admittedly, an FIA World Rallycross Audi A1 will do the same, but this is where the truly mind-bending stat comes in. Here it is: stamp on the accelerator pedal at 80mph and the Battista will accumulate speed at the same rate as a Tesla Model S P100D does when launched from standstill. The American car, remember, reaches 60mph in 2.5 seconds. In fact, it’s so pulverisingly quick in ‘Ludicrous’ mode that footage of passengers attempting to suppress laughter, tears and possibly other bodily fluids has become a YouTube phenomenon. Presumably, the Battista will demolish it for straight-line pace, despite weighing more than two tonnes. It’s hard to imagine how that sort of paradigm-shifting acceleration will feel. Multi-millionaire collectors who nowadays don’t open their wallets for less than 700bhp won’t have experienced anything like it either, which is why – so the official line goes – Pininfarina is running pre-delivery workshops like the one Autocar is attending at the Circuit de Calafat. This a tight, technical track that sits on the Spanish coastline an hour’s drive south of Barcelona, and one that Mahindra Racing uses to develop its Formula E cars – Mahindra being the Indian car-making giant that bought a controlling stake in the world’s most famous coachbuilder in 2015. It is now refashioning Pininfarina as a maker of luxurious electric cars with a calling card of extraordinary speed. The product pipeline includes more practical vehicles, but similar to the strategy that Tesla initiated with the original Roadster in 2008, the brand is starting in the headline-grabbing, uppermost echelon of the sports car market. The Battista, which is to be constructed almost entirely of carbon fibre, and with cabin opulence comparable to a Bugatti, will cost around £2million. And, frankly, a Formula E car, or anything else the sensible side of a Top Fuel dragster, wouldn’t see which way it went. So far roughly 50 six-figure deposits have been taken, securing one third of the total production run. Given that this car is something of a step into the unknown, both for manufacturer and buyers, that’s an encouraging figure. At Calafat, owners-to-be and others who are still sitting on the fence get to meet the engineers and designers, can have a closer look at a rolling chassis (due to receive its full 1900bhp running gear in March) and, of course, drive the Formula E car. It’s also a chance for us to catch up with a project that is a bellwether for the future of performance cars. So far, electric supercars have done little to dispel the notion that they exist as one-trick ponies that are obsessed with lung-crushing acceleration. The Battista would appear to be no different, but if such a historied brand, with engineers of the calibre that Automobili Pininfarina now has on its books, can’t make driving this thing simple fun – and engaging on a level removed from the thrill of naked speed – perhaps it really is time for us to start worrying. In the last year, Pininfarina’s new technical headquarters in Munich has swelled from just six to more than 100 personnel. The original premises in Cambiano, Turin, are still operational and the cars will be assembled in Italy, but Munich has been crucial for recruitment. How crucial? The last entry on chief engineer Wollmann’s curriculum vitae reads ‘Head of Mercedes-AMG Project One’, which is the road-legal incarnation of Lewis Hamilton’s F1 wheels. Senior technical advisor Peter Tutzer played an integral role in developing both the Pagani Zonda and Bugatti Veyron, while chief technical officer Christian Jung helped implement Porsche’s Mission E – the ambitious project that led to the electric Taycan. Chassis engineer Giulio Morsone then comes fresh from developing the Ferrari Portofino. What they and others have to work with is a carbon monocoque, to which the car's aluminium double-wishbone suspension is directly mounted. This, along with the four-wheel-drive powertrain, is supplied by the part Porsche-owned Croatian start-up Rimac, whose Concept_Two will bear a strong technical resemblance to its Pininfarina cousin, only with a more track-oriented setup. The Italian car is intended as a much more fluid-riding grand tourer, with softer spring rates and, per the latest simulations, a default torque split of 35:65 front to rear. Despite its mid-engined shape and frightening pace, there should be something aristocratic about the Battista, and on the subject of Nordschleife simulation laps, Wollman admits there have been some, “but only for performance reasons and cooling predictions; we don’t want to go into that game”. “We’re not going for a track weapon, this is clear,” says Nick Heidfeld, echoing Wollmann. The former F1 driver will advise on the dynamic development for the Battista and a brief chat with him inside one of Calafat’s pit garages yields encouraging snippets. “The best steering I’ve ever experienced was in a McLaren 570S,” he says, though he admits that aiming for such rich tactility and actually achieving it are two different things. Still, it’s an admirable goal. A dedicated rear-wheel-drive mode that takes the smaller electric motors on the front axle offline would add another dimension to the driving experience and still leave the car with an adequate 1200bhp, and is a feature that Heidfeld is extremely keen to implement. Wollmann, though, says that he cannot understand why, if you are not at full steering lock and there is traction left in the tyres, you wouldn’t use the additional power for even more acceleration and agility. It’s an intriguing insight, and, with the complexities of torque vectoring, regenerative braking and the overarching need to safely contain unprecedented road-car performance, there will be further ideological predicaments during the car’s development. We’ll find out first-hand whether the Battista is a mould-breaking electric drivers’ car or merely another statistical marvel some time next year. Driving a Mahindra Formula E racer It’s doubtful that Ferrari would even consider allowing deposit-holders for even the SF90 Stradale to drive an actual Scuderia F1 car, but Mahindra ownership means Pininfarina can offer something to similar effect. Admittedly, a generation-one Formula E car with the wick turned down to hot-hatch power levels poses somewhat less of a health-and-safety headache for event planners than a 900bhp hybrid F1 missile, but it’s still a rare opportunity to drive an FIA single-seater at the top of its particular tree. So how does it feel? Surprisingly pure, in short. There’s no power-steering, traction-control or anti-lock brakes, and with so little steering lock and road-spec tyres that are easily overwhelmed by the torque, the cars are primed to spin. It’s a characteristic that's exacerbated by the lack of powertrain noise. When the rear axle begins to slide in a combustion-engined car, there’s an immediate flare of revs as the tyres over-rotate. As an audible signal, this can be just as useful in communicating what’s happening beneath you as the synapses in your backside, but it’s missing in this 2018-spec Mahindra M4 Electro and every other Formula E car. Also, for our short stint at Calafat circuit, and as is the custom at any event in the series, there’s not a single tyre-warmer to be found in the pit-garage, so extra care is required. As for the link between Formula E and the Battista, beyond the marketing opportunities it’s tenuous, with battery management and aerodynamics the principle areas of crossover. Ultimately, the road car will be a far quicker, more complex and capable device. READ MORE Pininfarina Battista: 1900bhp EV hits the road in new images The greatest cars by Pininfarina Pininfarina teams up with engineering giants for new EV platform View the full article
  11. BMW i4 German firm claims 4 Series-based EV, due in 2021, will be a true performance saloon BMW has confirmed that its forthcoming i4 electric saloon will produce 523bhp, with the Tesla Model 3 rival featuring a top speed of around 125mph. The new model, due to go into production in 2021 following the forthcoming iX3, will be the German firm’s first electric saloon. Along with the regular 4 Series, the new EV was previewed by the bold 4 Series Gran Coupe concept at the Frankfurt motor show. BMW claims the i4 “heralds a new era of driving pleasure”, and will feature the firm’s “hallmark brand driving pleasure in a particularly concentrated form.” BMW has released new official shots of the i4 undergoing winter testing, and has confirmed that it will make use of its fifth-generation eDrive system, which will also be used on the iX3 – due in 2020 – and the advanced iNext, which is set for launch in in 2021. BMW claims the 523bhp motors will allow for a 0-62mph time of around four seconds. The firm says that output has been chosen to mirror the power of a V8 engine in current BMW models, and claims that it will offer “outstanding performance characteristics and exceptionally high efficiency”. The latest eDrive system is built around a modular system featuring the electric motor, transmission and power electronics in a single housing, which BMW says means it can be used for a range of different models and power outputs. The i4 will feature an 80kWh high-voltage battery pack that weighs around 550kg and gives a claimed range of around 373 miles. The battery can be charged at rates of up to 150kW. As shown in previous prototype shots, a clear visual link between the i4 and the latest 3 Series can be seen. The i4 will share much of its design with the upcoming second-generation 4 Series. However, a side-on view reveals that the new car appears higher off the ground (both in terms of roof height and ground clearance) than the current 4 Series, likely due to a raised floor to accommodate the sizeable long-range battery. Earlier this year, BMW revealed that the i4 had been tested at its cold weather facility in Arjeplog, Sweden, with the goal of determining the durability of the models' batteries, electric motors and suspension systems. The i4 is scheduled to be built on the same line as standard 3 Series models at BMW's factory in Munich, Germany. To ensure a smooth production process with existing petrol, diesel and hybrid models, the manufacturer is already running assembly tests with pre-production versions. The expansion of the i sub-brand follows a ruling by the EU to enforce a fleet average CO2 emission reduction of 35% by 2030. The ruling effectively spells an end to the combustion engine as a sole source of propulsion for high-volume cars sold in Europe by the end of the next decade. This was expected by BMW’s top management, who initiated the acceleration of development of both long-range plug-in hybrids and electric models in a board meeting held earlier this year. Speaking to Autocar at the 2018 Paris motor show, chairman Harald Krüger confirmed the altered i division plan, which aims to enable BMW to offer more electric cars than any rival premium brand in the short term. It calls for the introduction of up to five dedicated i models by the end of 2021, with tentative steps to expand to 12 electric models within the whole BMW Group, including Mini and Rolls-Royce, by 2025. Krüger has also given the green light for 25 new plug-in hybrid models to be introduced by 2025 in order to meet the 2030 target. Among the models at the centre of BMW’s electrification strategy are a further developed version of the continuously evolving i3, the Mini SE, the iX3 and the i4. BMW will follow that with a more advanced range of premium electric cars employing solid-state batteries and autonomous driving features, previewed on the recent iNext concept car. Talking about the i4, Krüger said: “The leading factors that will set it apart are fantastic design, which is very different to anything else on the road, and the fact that it is lighter and therefore more dynamic than anything we see on the market today, thanks to the materials we will use. Couple that with the connectivity technology we are constantly developing and we are confident it will lead the market.” BMW's electric revolution begins in the sales charts BMW’s sales of electrified models have increased rapidly in the past two years. In January 2017, it registered 5232 plug-in vehicles globally, but that figure had more than doubled to 13,271 by December. The company registered on average more than 10,000 electrified models per month in 2018. These registrations are more significant viewed as a percentage of BMW’s total sales figures. In January 2017, this was an unremarkable 3.2%, but in August 2018, it was 6.7%. Surprisingly, the most popular plug-in BMW Group model in 2017 was the i3 – a car that has been in showrooms since 2013 and failed to meet targets for many of its years on sale. A total of 31,482 were registered in 2017, nearly double the number in 2014. Despite this, BMW still has a long way to go to achieve its 2020 target of 500,000 electrified vehicles sold annually. READ MORE BMW iNext: high-tech electric SUV seen with less disguise 2019 BMW 3 Series review BMW i3 review View the full article
  12. Bloodhound LSR British machine will now focus on development and fund-raising ahead of land speed record bid in 2020 or 2021 The Bloodhound LSR reached a new top speed of 628mph as it wrapped up testing in South Africa ahead of a planned assault on the land speed record in around a year. The British machine, driven by current land speed record holder Andy Green, has completed a series of test runs of increasing speed on a specially prepared track on the Hakskeen Pan over the past month. Powered by a EJ200 Eurofighter Typhoon jet engine, Bloodhound completed its final test run with Green accelerating to 615mph before lifting off the throttle. The run was part of a test programme to evaluate how much drag Bloodhound generates at a variety of speeds, with data gathered from 192 sensors then compared with the figures previously calculated using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations. That data will determine the size and power of the Nammo-built rocket that will be fitted to Bloodhound for the final record bid. “The stability and confidence the car gives me as a driver is testament to the years of world class engineering that has been invested in her by team members past and present,” said Green. “With all the data generated by reaching 628mph [1010 km/h], we’re in a great position to focus on setting a new world land speed record in the next year or so.” Ian Warhurst, the British businessman who stepped in to save the project from administration, said hitting the speed was “a real milestone”. He added: “We will now move our focus to identifying new sponsors and the investment needed to bringing Bloodhound back out to Hakskeen Pan in the next 12 to 18 months’ time.” The current land speed record, set by Green in Thrust SSC in 1997, is 763.035mph. When Bloodhound was first launched, the ultimate target was to try and eclipse 1000mph. Read more Bloodhound LSR tops 500mph in high-speed testing Bloodhound saved as buyer is found for 1000mph project Inside the facotry building the 1000mph car View the full article
  13. 2.0R: As a more economical alternative to the 3.0R, it's worth checking out The understated yet potent Subaru Legacy 3.0R Spec B is the quintessential Q-car – and it also makes a great used buy The Subaru Impreza gets all the attention, but in the mid-noughties more mature enthusiasts, put off by that model’s hard-charging image, might have been tempted by the larger Legacy 3.0R Spec B, in saloon and estate forms, instead. It was launched in 2004 but here we’re interested in the facelifted version of 2006, because there are more for sale and they were usefully improved. Interior quality took a big leap, the optional five-speed automatic gained paddle shifts and a new drive mode system, called SI-Drive, was introduced. The grille and head and tail-lights were smartened up while the car gained a more purposeful, sophisticated look thanks to delicately bulging wheel arches, an inoffensive roof-mounted spoiler and indicators integrated into the door mirrors. Alloys became smart 18in, 10-spoke affairs that still look good. The already crisp suspension was retuned (it features inverted Bilstein STI-style front struts) and the steering made a touch meatier. What went unchanged was the standard-fit four-wheel-drive system with viscous centre differential and a limited-slip diff, and the 3.0-litre flat six continued to make a respectable 241bhp for 0-62mph in 6.7sec (autos take a yawning 1.2sec longer). A manual is clearly the pick but they’re rare. At least the auto’s paddle shifters help maximise what performance remains after the torque-converter ’box absorbed its share. It’s a real driver’s performance car but, should you push things too hard in the corners, Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) will step in to brake individual wheels and straighten the car out. Switching it off gives the Legacy a greater rear-drive bias for a more laugh-out-loud experience. The 3.0R Spec B is a Q-car, then, and no more so than in estate form when its huge boot provides an effective distraction to the main event – namely, surprising other people from the lights. Not that it or the saloon should stoop to such levels. Instead, it’s best treated as a civilised, all-weather cruiser with a touch of hooligan in reserve. Business car it was not, due to its poor economy and high CO2 figure. Brace yourself for those two, but at least there’s the three-mode SI-Drive system with its economy-minded Intelligent setting that makes this 3.0-litre Subaru feel like a dozy 2.0. It’s operated via a rotary controller and steering wheel-mounted buttons. Cars priced below £5000 tend to be UK-registered examples with high mileages. However, if their service histories and unmarked interiors (even the leather seats show little signs of distress) are a guide, they tend to attract caring owners. From around £8000, lower-mileage Japanese imports heave into view. They look bright enough and, assuming they’ve been prepped to satisfy UK regulations, are well worth considering as a less lairy but no less accomplished alternative to the ubiquitous Impreza. How to get one in your garage An owner's view Mark Harris: “I’ve had my Legacy 3.0R Spec B estate for nine years. My wife was against an Impreza so I bought the next best thing. It’s a 2006 auto and with 173,000 miles. It’s been extremely reliable. I’m fussy and change the oil every 7000 miles, and the gearbox and diff oils every two years. The engine is bulletproof. I was told Subaru turned down the power so the Impreza wasn’t overshadowed, so it’s fairly unstressed. I’m the one suffering stress: road tax is £500 and economy rarely goes above 25mpg.” Buyer beware... ■ Engine: Check for leaks from the front timing chain case and the lower part of the engine. Misfires may be due to the most inaccessible pair of spark plugs not having been replaced in years, so try to check their condition. Inspect the head gasket for leaks and inside the oil filler neck for emulsified water and oil. Check the external coolant pipes for corrosion, especially on higher-mileage cars. ■ Transmission: Generally reliable but in any case feel for worn synchros on manuals and hesitant changes on autos. Also on autos, check that paddle changes are instant. Drive a few cars to gauge normal levels of drivetrain noise, although driveshafts and centre shafts are fairly trouble-free. ■ Suspension: With the car on a ramp, inspect the condition of the front track control arm bushes. The model goes through the rear bushes on the front wishbones, so inspect those, too. At the back, the front bushes on the rear trailing arm can tear but may still pass an MOT. Subaru OE replacement bushes are perfectly good. ■ Brakes: The front, sliding calipers are prone to seizing. The rears tend to give little trouble. ■ Bodywork and chassis: Resists corrosion well so any you do find is probably repair related. ■ Interior: Check the SI-Drive system scrolls through its driving modes, and on the test drive feel for clear changes in character between each mode (Sport Sharp should be a world away from Intelligent mode). Also worth knowing All the specialists agree that the Legacy’s Achilles heel is the exhaust’s Y-shaped centre section, which rusts and starts blowing. A replacement section is expensive but, fortunately, if it’s not too far gone, it is repairable. How much to spend £2000-£3999: Choice of 2006-reg estates and saloons, including a very clean 92,000-mile automatic saloon with a fully documented service history for £3995. £4000-£6999: Lower-mileage cars, including a 2006-reg automatic saloon with 62,000 miles and full service history for £4990. Also some low-mileage but pre-facelift Japanese imports from around £5995. £7000-£10,000: More 2006-reg Japanese import estates with around 65,000 miles from £8000. Also includes a UK-spec 2008-reg automatic estate with 62,000 miles, full service history and black leather for £7990. One we found Subaru Legacy 3.0R Spec B, 2006/56, 92,000 miles, £3995: Nice 3.0R in the right colour and with full history, black leather trim and a tilt and slide glass sunroof. At this distance it looks to be a wonderful example of this highly underrated model. READ MORE Toyota and Subaru to develop new electric platform and SUV Subaru plots UK sales comeback New Subaru Outback SUV launched View the full article
  14. Mitsubishi Mirage Japanese city car is redesigned inside and out but will retain its 1.2-litre petrol engine for UK sale The Mitsubishi Mirage has been updated for 2020 with a refreshed look and new interior tech, although it's set to retain its current engine. The revamped version of the Hyundai i10 rival has been revealed ahead of its public debut at the Thailand motor show in Bangkok and is due to go on sale in the UK early next year. The Mirage has been given an exterior styling revamp to reflect Mitsubishi’s current Dynamic Shield design concept, featuring a redesigned grille and new LED headlights designed to make the car appear wider. The city car also gets a new-look rear bumper, new 15in alloy wheels and two new paint colours. Mitsubishi has revamped the interior in a bid to make it more user-friendly, including redesigning the front armrests. Upper trim levels feature a new-look fabric and synthetic leather upholstery, while the firm’s new Smartphone Display Audio infotainment system will be available as an option. That comes with a 7.0in touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The 79bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine will continue as the sole powerplant offered in the UK, with either a manual or CVT automatic gearbox. Full UK specifications and pricing are due to be revealed early next year. The Mirage will be displayed in Thailand alongside the Attrage, its saloon sibling, which isn’t sold in the UK. READ MORE Mitsubishi's journey from rally royalty to plug-in privateer Mitsubishi plans new SUV strategy Mitsubishi L200 pick-up review Autocar's top 10 city cars 2019 View the full article
  15. The famous pony badge has been applied to an electric SUV - and could be used elsewhere in the future Ford is considering launching further new Mustang-badged models in the future – raising the possibility of the muscle car nameplate effectively becoming a performance sub-brand. The long-running name and pony badge logo is being used on the new Mustang Mach-E electric SUV, Ford’s first bespoke EV. It will be the first time in the 55-year history of the Mustang that the name has been applied to an entirely new model type. The development team originally started work on a different EV project, but the project underwent substantial changes when it was decided to apply the Mustang name. Murat Gueler, Ford’s European design chief, said that decision could lead to more new Mustang models. “The Mach-E is our step into the future, without ignoring history,” Gueler told Autocar. “There’s a lot of emotion with the Mustang, and it’s time to progress that and make it spread wider.” Notably, to match the style of the Mustang, the Mach-E uses a reworked version of the model’s pony badge, rather than the Ford Blue Oval logo. Gueler said that decision was both to strength then Mustang links and “communicate the new-ness of this”, adding that: “We’ve talked about building a family.” He added: “The latest Mustang in Europe has gained another level of popularity, so we have a bigger base for the Mustang brand. The Mustang and the Porsche 911 are the most famous sports cars on the planet. Mustang is a big nameplate and it’s about time we applied electrification to it. “People now understand we can do different things to different nameplates quite successfully.” Ford is also working on new EV projects to follow the Mach-E, but Gueler added that they wouldn’t simply produce new Mustang-inspired EV models of different sizes. “We don’t want to take a Russian doll approach, where you can’t tell them apart other than the size of the car, but we want a family feel where a Ford EV starts to build off this concept,” he said. “But we’d never do a smaller version of this - if we did a smaller vehicle it would have different proportions.” Q&A: Murat Gueler, Ford of Europe design chief Question: How did you approach the design of a Mustang-inspired EV? Answer: “It’s not literal, just inspired by. It’s about doing it in the right way so it’s not too banal and people go ‘oh, they just tried to copy a Mustang’. We wanted some of that cool design. You can look at this and see it’s not a normal combustion-engined car, but it has some of that Mustang flavour.” Question: Was the plan always to make your electric SUV a Mustang? Answer: “This started as another project in around 2014, and about two years ago it switched to this. The design had a big influence: the whole structure changed, the technology inside changed. We rebooted the whole programme. The designers came up with this concept and everyone went ‘oh, this is good’.” Question: While it uses the Mustang logo, there isn’t a single Blue Oval on the car. Why do that for such an important car for Ford? Answer: “We did our research and customers are totally okay with this. It’s the same on the Mustang itself, and it communicates how unique this car is.” READ MORE Mustang reborn as Model Y rival Opinion: Why Ford has gambled on calling its electric EV a Mustang Exclusive: the future of Ford, according to its bosses Ford to launch three new model names by 2024 in Europe View the full article
  16. The Mustang badge brings upmarket appeal to the brand, but success will ultimately depend on the car On a recent trip to the United States, I met a Mustang-owning Texan who didn’t much like electric cars, but “I hear there’s an electric Mustang coming, so maybe I’ll like that.” I fear he may be disappointed by the new Mustang Mach-E: there’s a big difference between an electric Mustang and an electric SUV ‘inspired’ by the muscle car. Still, the Mustang Mach-E shows promise. To my eyes – and I should say I reckon it looks better in the metal than it does in images – it echoes the muscle car’s style without resorting to pastiche, managing to look relatively sleek for a large electric SUV. It’s certainly more desirable than, say, a Kuga EV would be – and that’s exactly what Ford is counting on. The huge success of the latest Mustang has shown the value and heritage built up in the nameplate and badge – which is arguably stronger than Ford’s own Blue Oval. There’s a reason the Mustang survived the cull of Ford’s non-SUV and pick-up models in the USA, and it’s also proving increasingly popular in Europe. Such is the value of the pony badge that the Mustang also appeals to a level of customer that other Ford models can’t: how many of the firm’s other models can legitimately be called Porsche rivals? Ford spent years searching for premium brands, such as Jaguar and Aston Martin, to buy in order to broaden its market reach. It now seems to realise that, with Mustang, it’s had one all along – and the Mach-E appears the first step in expanding the nameplate from a single model to a full sub-brand. How successful that it will depend on how successful the Mustang Mach-E is. And that will involve convincing current Mustang fans to accept the nameplate can be applied to something that’s very definitely not a muscle car. Still, a Ford-badged EV could never battle with a Tesla on badge appeal among EV owners, but a Mustang-based EV might succeed in doing so – assuming expectations among current Mustang owners, in Texas and beyond, are kept somewhat in check. READ MORE Mustang reborn as Model Y rival Ford could expand Mustang line-up further in future Ford Capri could still be revived, says design boss Ford to launch three new model names by 2024 in Europe View the full article
  17. The Mustang badge brings upmarket appeal to the brand, but success will ultimately depend on the car On a recent trip to the United States, I met a Mustang-owning Texan who didn’t much like electric cars, but “I hear there’s an electric Mustang coming, so maybe I’ll like that.” I fear he may be disappointed by the new Mustang Mach-E: there’s a big difference between an electric Mustang and an electric SUV ‘inspired’ by the muscle car. Still, the Mustang Mach-E shows promise. To my eyes – and I should say I reckon it looks better in the metal than it does in images – it echoes the muscle car’s style without resorting to pastiche, managing to look relatively sleek for a large electric SUV. It’s certainly more desirable than, say, a Kuga EV would be – and that’s exactly what Ford is counting on. The huge success of the latest Mustang has shown the value and heritage built up in the nameplate and badge – which is arguably stronger than Ford’s own Blue Oval. There’s a reason the Mustang survived the cull of Ford’s non-SUV and pick-up models in the USA, and it’s also proving increasingly popular in Europe. Such is the value of the pony badge that the Mustang also appeals to a level of customer that other Ford models can’t: how many of the firm’s other models can legitimately be called Porsche rivals? Ford spent years searching for premium brands, such as Jaguar and Aston Martin, to buy in order to broaden its market reach. It now seems to realise that, with Mustang, it’s had one all along – and the Mach-E appears the first step in expanding the nameplate from a single model to a full sub-brand. How successful that it will depend on how successful the Mustang Mach-E is. And that will involve convincing current Mustang fans to accept the nameplate can be applied to something that’s very definitely not a muscle car. Still, a Ford-badged EV could never battle with a Tesla on badge appeal among EV owners, but a Mustang-based EV might succeed in doing so – assuming expectations among current Mustang owners, in Texas and beyond, are kept somewhat in check. READ MORE Mustang reborn as Model Y rival Ford could expand Mustang line-up further in future Ford Capri could still be revived, says design boss Ford to launch three new model names by 2024 in Europe View the full article
  18. Ford unveils muscle car-inspired electric SUV; due here next year, priced from £40k Ford has revealed the Mustang Mach-E, the firm’s first bespoke electrically powered SUV, with styling and – its maker claims – performance inspired by the muscle car. The Tesla Model Y rival is the first production car to emerge from Ford’s Team Edison, a 70-strong Detroit group tasked with designing the firm’s next-generation EVs. At launch the range-topping version will produce 332bhp, with a full GT model making around 459bhp due at a later date. Murat Gueler, Ford’s European design chief, said the aim was to create “something special that stands out from the crowd”, describing the new machine as “an EV with soul”. The new electric car has taken the Mustang title as the first step in expanding the nameplate into a full model line. The Mach-E moniker is inspired by the Mach 1 variant of the first-gen Mustang. The styling strongly links the EV to the regular Mustang, reflected in features such as the badge and front and rear lights, as well as several lines along the bodywork. Gueler said: “The approach was to put this car in a unique spot: only Ford can do Mustang. In the next few years there will be hundreds of EV nameplates, but with Mustang we can load up with emotion and drama.” The car lacks conventional door handles, instead featuring buttons that pop open the doors and small holds protruding from the front doors. Owners can use their smartphones as keys, or use a keypad built into the B-pillar. The Mustang Mach-E sports a more radical interior, with a wide dashboard featuring a Mustang ‘double cowl’ and built-in soundbar. The dash is dominated by a Tesla-style vertically mounted 15.5in touchscreen with a rotary dial fixed onto it using special glue. Many of the car’s systems are controlled through the screen, which uses a new Sync 4 operating system that can accept over-the-air updates. There is also a 10.2in digital cluster for the driver, while the steering wheel retains a number of physical controls. The Mustang Mach-E sits on a new Ford EV platform called Global Electrified 2, or GE2 – an extensively reworked version of the C2 architecture used for the latest Focus and Kuga. Gueler said designers had input into setting the platform’s dimensions, both to set the wheelbase and to enable the extended bonnet, which is long for an EV but which was considered an iconic Mustang design feature. The model will initially be launched with two battery pack sizes and three power outputs. The entry-level version will feature a single motor driving the rear wheels, with either a 75kWh battery and 254bhp motor or a 99kWh battery and 285bhp motor. Both produce 307lb ft, with a claimed 0-62mph time of under eight seconds and WLTP range of around 280 and 370 miles respectively. The twin-motor all-wheel-drive version is offered with a 75kWh battery and 254bhp, or 99kWh and 332bhp. Both versions provide 429lb ft and a sub-seven-second 0-62mph time, with estimated ranges of 260 and 335 miles. Charging is available through an AC home charger or via DC fast chargers at up to 150kW. The car is 4712mm long, 1881mm wide and 1597mm high, placing it between the Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes-Benz EQC. Kerb weights range from 1993kg to more than 2218kg, while all models will have a limited top speed of 111mph. Claimed boot volume is 402 litres, and there’s a 100-litre waterproof front luggage bay. Ford hasn’t given a full range of performance figures yet, but Team Edison’s Dorit Haas said it was “meant to be like a sports car”. She added: “This is a performance EV. Not just in a straight line, but in terms of handling and agility – the ride is very important.” The rear-wheel-drive models will sit on 18in wheels, with 19in wheels for all-wheel-drive versions. Twin-motor machines gain adaptive LED headlights and red brake calipers, while limited-edition First Edition models also get a panoramic roof. The Mustang Mach-E is being built in Mexico and is available to order now and will be sold exclusively online, with first deliveries expected around October next year. Prices are not yet confirmed but will start at around £40,000, rising to about £60,000 for the First Edition. READ MORE Opinion: Why Ford has gambled on calling its electric EV a Mustang Ford could expand Mustang line-up further in future Ford Capri could still be revived, says design boss Ford to launch three new model names by 2024 in Europe View the full article
  19. We ride shotgun in Ford's debut electric car to find out if it does more than share a name with the most famous pony car in the world It is fair to say that there was considerable debate as to whether to call Ford’s first full EV a Mustang. Actually, I understand there was something closer to a massive punch up over the issue, figuratively if not literally speaking. And you can see why: here is a high and heavy five door electric SUV. And they choose this as the first Mustang to depart from the two door sports coupe script in the 55 year history of the original pony car. The calculation is clear: while the ‘proper’ Mustang continues in the production it is Ford’s estimate that the number of additional EV early adopters who will be seduced by the name will be greater than the number of die-hard traditionalists who’ll spit their coffee over their cornflakes while reading this and vow never to buy another Ford again. So what can I tell you after a very short ride in its passenger seat? In the way of such things, nothing like as much as I would wish. But some things are clear, nevertheless. The car feels like a real departure for Ford, and not just because it lacks an internal combustion engine. It has a sense of genuine quality and clearly quite enormous efforts have been made creating a state of the art interior, especially so far as the massive and rather Tesla-like central infotainment screen is concerned. It works really well. The car is exceptionally spacious too: four six footers could easily go on holiday together, there’s a decent boot and a quite brilliant ‘frunk’ (front trunk) lined in hard plastic with drain holes. The idea is you can fill it with ice and beer, transport anything from raw fish to hot curry without the smell reaching the cabin and, of course, dump the kids’ filthy games gear and then just hose it out afterwards. There’s a standard and long range battery, rear or four wheel drive and choice of 254 or 332bhp power outputs, and that’s before the 465bhp ‘GT’ version comes along some time after sales begin in around a year’s time. Prices will range from somewhere around £40,000 to £65,000 for a fully loaded ‘First Edition’. The GT will cost over £70k. With the big battery its WLTP range is up to an impressive 370 miles. There are three drive modes, ‘whisper, the default ‘engage’ and ‘unbridled’ (because this is a pony car, geddit?). In the last of these a rather unconvincing cod-V8 rumble is played through the speakers though, to be fair, you can turn it off. From the passenger seat, the First Edition model I travelled in felt quick enough to make me wonder whether I’d even want the GT. Ford says it’s mid 5secs to 60mph which feels about right. The GT is mid threes. It seemed composed through a slalom course for a two tonne SUV – thank the ultra-low centre of gravity for that and on entirely untaxing Los Angeles boulevards, rode plausibly well. But none of that even starts to answer the fundamental question. There’s nothing I saw or experienced to suggest Ford has built anything other than a very capable and likeable electric SUV, but nor was there also anything to suggest it is in any way a credible addition to the Mustang stable – pun entirely intended. I’m not saying it’s not, only that to even begin to make that judgement will require not a short ride but a long drive. And for that I’m afraid is going to be many months from now. Ford Mustang Mach-E First Edition specification Where Los Angeles, USA Price £65,000 (estimated) On sale October 2020 Engine Twin electric motors Power 332bhp Torque 351lb ft Gearbox single-speed automatic Kerb weight 2100kg (approximate) Top speed TBC 0-62mph 5.5sec Battery 75kWh (99kWh with extended range) Range 370 miles (WLTP) CO2 0g/km Rivals Jaguar I-Pace, Audi E-tron READ MORE Electric Ford Mustang Mach-E is Model Y rival Exclusive: the future of Ford, according to its bosses Ford to electrify European range with fleet of hybrids and EVs View the full article
  20. New F1 cars will rely on more mechanical grip from 2021 Begin your week with the news in brief, as our reporters lift the bonnet on all-things motorsport In this week's round-up of motorsport news and gossip, F1 chiefs rip up the rulebook, Ott Tänak jumps ship to Hyundai, BTCC adds a qualifying shootout and Roger Penske makes an unusual purchase: the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We also name the week's rising star, and highlight some of the greatest machinery ever to enter a motor race. F1 rules overhaul Formula 1 bosses have finally unveiled new technical rules for 2021, with cars getting a new look designed to reduce aerodynamic grip. Combined with an increase in mechanical grip, F1 chiefs believe the rules will lead to cars that can follow each other more closely, enhancing the quality of the racing. The current 1.6-litre turbo-hybrid engines will continue to power F1, albeit with new regulations to limit the use of expensive materials and cut costs. F1 chiefs have also overhauled the off-track regulations, increasing the number of races allowed on the calendar to 25 and introducing a cost cap of $175 million (£135m). That cap, which will vary in size depending on the number of races run in a season, is designed to curb the advantage of the big teams, although it does exclude items such as driver salaries, year-end bonuses and the wages of the three highest-paid staff. Ott a shock Newly crowned World Rally Champion Ott Tänak will make a surprise switch from Toyota to Hyundai for next season. The Estonian has signed a two-year deal to drive an i20 WRC for the Korean firm. Sébastien Ogier, whose six-year title reign Tanak ended, is in the running to replace him at Toyota, as is Welshman and former Wales Rally GB winner Elfyn Evans. BTCC to stage qualifying shootout The British Touring Car Championship has made a number of tweaks to next year’s regulations, including an increase in success ballast for race winners. There will also be a new qualifying system trialled at Snetterton, with the 10 fastest drivers battling for pole in a 10-minute shootout. “We’re always looking at ways our regs can be improved,” said BTCC boss Alan Gow. Penske buys Indianapolis and Indycar racing Not content with his four-car team dominating in Indycars, legendary US team owner Roger Penske has now bought the series – and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Penske Entertainment Corp has made the double purchase at the end of a year when two of ‘The Captain’s’ drivers, Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden, won the Indy 500 and Indycar series respectively. Rising star Jonathan Hoggard: The 19-year-old from Spalding has flown in British Formula 3 this year, after finishing third in British Formula 4 in 2018. He scored seven wins this season with Fortec, the most of any driver, but missed out on the title due to the consistency of Carlin’s champion, Clement Novalak. But a place as one of four nominees for the prestigious Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year award will have boosted his value on the single-seater market. As ever with drivers at this stage, his next step will be crucial to maintain a promising career momentum. Great racing cars Williams FW11 (1986-1987): Nigel Mansell might have won his F1 world title with the FW14B of 1992, but arguably this is the car he’s most synonymous with. Beating team-mate and nemesis Nelson Piquet at Brands Hatch in ’86, the famous tyre blow-out in Adelaide that cost him the title, the incredible ‘dummy’ on Piquet into Stowe that won him his greatest victory at Silverstone in ’87 – and the clumsy crash at Suzuka that ended another title dream… It was never dull (much like FW11’s mish-mash of a livery). A total of 18 wins over two seasons and a drivers’ title for Piquet was some return – even if it didn’t stop Honda ditching Williams for McLaren in ’88… READ MORE Racing lines: why car makers still can't resist motorsport How Delta Motorsport has reinvented the test mule Aston Martin launches new one-make racing series View the full article
  21. Supersonic Swedish estate with world-class suspension takes aim at the Germans You might wonder what ‘Polestar’ really stands for these days.Admittedly, it’s not obvious. On one hand, Polestar is a stand-alone subsidiary brand of Volvo – one currently readying itself to release the 600bhp 500-off Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid, with its three electric motors and an exterior design that seems to combine elements of art deco and Bauhaus, only remixed from the future. We’ve driven the prototypes and they are phenomenally desirable, as you would well expect for the £140,000 asking price.You can ignore that Polestar, though, because on the other hand, there’s ‘Polestar Engineered’. This is a trim level that made its debut last year as an even more serious take on the range-topping T8 Twin Engine version of the US-built S60 saloon – and it's now available on the V60 estate and the XC60 crossover. ‘Trim level’ is putting it lightly, in truth. Software tweaks might liberate only 20bhp or so from the 380bhp plug-in hybrid powertrain (transverse 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo for the front axle, with an independent electric motor for the rear), but there are more appreciable changes elsewhere.The brakes, recognisable by grooved discs and deep-gold calipers, are from Brembo on the S60 and V60 models and Akebono (which also supplied those for the McLaren P1) on the XC60, the largest Polestar Engineered model available so far. There’s also now an aluminium strut brace in the engine bay, to stiffen the nose and hone the steering response, and the Aisin eight-speed automatic gearbox has been tweaked for quicker upshifts.These cars also get glossy black exterior trim, dark chrome exhaust tips, alloy wheels that look as though they could cut you, and gold seatbelts. And in the flesh, the V60 Polestar Engineered is duly one of the cars that simultaneously blends in while absolutely standing out. It's another knockout from the company whose CEO was formerly head of design.But the headline additions are the adjustable dual-flow-valve dampers brought in from Swedish suspension superstars Ohlins. And it’s important to make the distinction between ‘adaptive’ and ‘adjustable’. The characteristics of the former are usually altered at the touch of a button handily positioned on the transmission tunnel. On the Polestar Engineered V60 tested here, however, softening the damping characteristics involves opening the bonnet and twisting a pair of gold dials sprouting from the strut towers. And that’s the easy bit: to get at those for the rear axle, you’ll need to jack the car up and remove the protective rubber covers. Talk about esoteric appeal.View the full article
  22. Our man kerbs his Alpine A110. In a good way We enter the new one-make race series for everyone’s favourite mid-engined French sports car The organisers think it’s too exclusively French, but I rather liked the vibe of the Alpine Elf Cup, a one-make race series for Alpine A110s. It turns a little bit of whatever race circuit it visits into a part of France. By the end of a weekend at Silverstone, I’d remembered how to shrug resignedly and say “j’ai fini douzième” in a convincing accent. Practically a native. Maybe this is how it feels to be French during Le Mans, only with nobody throwing a bottle of piss into a passing TVR because its driver wouldn’t do a burn-out. But the organisers of this pan-European race series would like more entrants from different parts of Europe. A British team, a German or a Spanish or Italian team, perhaps, to match the fact that, of the six places the series goes, there are rounds in Spain, Belgium, Germany and Britain along with two in France. At the moment, all 18 cars on the grid are entered by French teams and are driven mostly by French drivers. There’s one Swiss and one Belgian and usually a hired interloper who, on this occasion, is me. The cars are the A110s that we know and love, but more racy. While ‘my’ car is up on its air jacks with its wheels off, I ask the series’ technical director what are the differences in suspension between a road car and a race car. It’s easier to say the things that are the same, he tells me: it’s the uprights and the wishbones. With only a few changes, the race A110 – stanced, isn’t it? – is fit to become a GT4 race series car, too. The A110 makes an interesting GT4 endurance racer, with its small engine and tiny frontal area meaning it’s down on power but much more aerodynamically efficient than the supercars it competes against, so it’s as close as you’ll get to a classic series where Minis take on Ford Galaxies. The differences between the two race series specifications are small enough that you could swap the same Alpine back and forth between the Alpine Cup and a GT4, but nobody does: I guess GT4 would feel like the next step up. So this race should be a doddle, I’m led to believe. Just a bunch of old rich blokes nobbing about in a car they can’t drive very well on a circuit they’ve never been to. Hmm. No. As it turns out, of the 18 drivers, there are a few young hot-shoes who want to make it as GT drivers and some older blokes who used to race in the Renault Clio Cup – the kind of madcap series that births touring car drivers. Laurent Hurgon, the Renault Sport engineer who sets all of the Nürburgring lap times in hot RS models, is competing in the series but by no means a guaranteed top-six finisher. Plus this lot know the cars. And they’ve been to Silverstone before. And I don’t speak loads of French, the team don’t speak loads of English, so when setting it up, we’re just winging it. And one of my team-mates wants the limited-slip differential out of my car between races because it’s more aggressive than the one in his; which is fair enough, because he’s paying to be there and I get to see how this changes the handling. Anyway, that’s the excuses mostly out of the way for two races – one Saturday, one Sunday – which each last 25 minutes plus a lap and have a rolling start. Silverstone is a big circuit but when your last race here was in a Citroën C1, it feels shorter than normal. The race A110, with 266bhp and at 1135kg, is a nice fit for it on Michelin slicks that provide a fairly mega amount of lateral grip. Those, plus a proper sequential gearbox in place of the road car’s dual-clutch, plus all of the safety accoutrements, mean the A110 feels like a terrific race car. But there are elements of the road car’s character intact. It’s very agile, happy to move around as you lift and turn-in, though because of the limited-slip differential that is absent from the road car, it hooks up under acceleration more easily – albeit with more grip and traction than power now, with heavier steering that has bags of feel. With a less aggressive differential, there’s less initial hook-up under acceleration and a more pendulous swing into oversteer later. With all cars making the same power and having the same aerodynamics, passing is hard, so there seems to be the time-honoured Clio Cup passing technique of sticking your car in the way of somebody else’s and letting them avoid you. Getting to grips with it, I finish 12th out of 18 in race one and 13th in race two with all body panels intact, which, at £90,000 for the car and another £90k or so to race it for a year, is just as well. If I had the wherewithal, I’d be back. Road to race Race-spec Alpine A110s get a pretty thorough going over. The engine is internally the same as the road car’s 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo but a new intake and exhaust lift its power by 18bhp. More importantly, the rear subframe is re-fabricated to accommodate a firewall between the cabin and the engine bay, to brace the area and to allow fitment of the sequential race box and pneumatic shifter. At the front there’s a new fuel tank, while all round the bespoke suspension with adjustable springs and dampers drops the car’s overall height by 62mm. Stripped inside, the cars could weigh as little as 1050kg, but the minimum race weight is 1125kg (the road car is 1098kg at its lightest). READ MORE Hardcore Alpine A110S makes public debut at Tokyo Rhapsody in blue: Life with an Alpine A110 Alpine A110 S 2019 review View the full article
  23. Three of the best restomods around: Alfaholics GTA-R 290, JIA Jensen Interceptor R and Tuthill Porsche 911 Today’s fashion for ‘restomodded’ cars reborn as performance takes on much-loved classics is now a thriving scene. We drive three of the best I’d like to pretend there’s an elegant reason why we’ve selected these three old cars with new or upgraded components – modernised classics, restomods, call them what you will – but the simple truth is that the concept is intriguing and we’d heard good things about these ones. They’re a new kind of performance car, if you like; all that modern supercars are not. They bring performance down to approachable levels but keep the craftsmanship and desirability sky high. At least, that’s how I imagined it. So here we are, at Llandow Circuit, south Wales, with three of the best of them. The idea is to have a track drive today and a road blast tomorrow, with some boring everyday driving in between. All three cars do things differently. The smallest here is branded GTA-R by its specialist builder, Alfaholics. It’s a GTA-aping Alfa Romeo that can be based on any 105/115-series coupé – this one started as a 1967 1300 GT Junior. Alfaholics can simply restore one of those for you but, if you tick the full gamut of GTA-R options, you’ll spend the best part of £300,000 and have the kind of car you see here, with a 12-point roll-cage, seam-welded monocoque, titanium suspension bits, Alfaholics gearbox internals and a twin-cam, twin-spark four-cylinder engine originally from a 75, bored and stroked to 2.3 litres, fitted with lightweight internals and making 240bhp. The car weighs just 830kg. Alongside it is a Porsche from specialists Tuthill, who do brilliant things with old 911s, including rallying them, racing them and ice-driving in them, which I’m told is the most fun you can have in a car. This is a bespoke customer build, a 1973 2.4-litre E-series 911, with a wide body. It’s more road car than track car but lovely nonetheless. The engine is still a period 911 2.4-litre, and the car is prepped to usable, fast road spec. Next to that is a Jensen Interceptor, modified by Jensen International Automotive with a novel twist: a supercharged 6.2-litre Chevrolet LSA V8 making 556bhp. So quite a lot of novel twist. JIA takes an Interceptor, tidies the shell, fits Jaguar-influenced independent rear suspension and installs the mighty motor. Subtle it is not. A track car it isn’t, either, but that’s fine – its time will come on the road. For pictures and video, though, we run it around Llandow and, by gum, does it ever have an engine. The reardrive Interceptor R Supercharged is ferociously fast in a straight line, driving through a six-speed auto here. You can spec a manual, but the auto suits the Interceptor’s demeanour. This is a softly sprung, comfortable car, with a shell that lives without the stiffening of the Alfa so it feels more ‘classic’. Still, it steers with slow slickness, and while the brake pedal is soft to the extent you might think it’s here in an advisory capacity only, in fact retardation is good. There’s more to enjoy on circuit in the Tuthill-modified 911, although you suspect one of its 2.0-litre ‘Cup’ race cars would be more engaging still. But the 2.4 E’s steering is lovely and the balance is good, albeit erring towards understeer thanks to a wide rear track and balloon tyres. The engine is lustful and the gearshift positive, and whatever Tuthill has done to the bushes and control weights, it feels terrifically solid. On narrower tyres and more track-focused suspension, I imagine you could swap some track focus for road focus. Tuthill will build you one however you want. After a day on track, I took the 911 on a motorway and then some back roads and loved it – and I’ve never felt cooler than getting out of it at the end. More on that when Saunders and Disdale take up the story. Meanwhile, the GTA-R is an utter joy on track. It rides on relatively skinny 195-section tyres but still generates masses of grip. Its heavy steering is full of reward and its engine, while revving to 7500rpm, is as gutsy and tuneful as any road-going four-cylinder in existence. The long-throw five-speed ’box is more accurate than anything with a lever that long has any right to be, and the brake pedal is brilliantly weighted. Everything is unassisted. But it’s the handling that makes it. Before I drove the GTA-R, the man from Alfaholics said it was more rewarding than a Ferrari 430 Scuderia, which I humoured with a ‘well, he would say that’ sort of nod. Yet its balance is so good that I think he’s right. Going into a corner there’s a touch of understeer, which you can trail brake through, or you can just turn in slightly too fast, get on the gas and power through, with the GTA-R telegraphing perfectly that it’s about to slide, foursquare but slightly rear biased, through any turn you like. It might just be one of the 10 most enjoyable cars I’ve ever driven. On track, at least. On the road? Over to my colleagues. Matt Prior The daily grind A long day of full-on track driving has passed by the windscreens of our three restomods, and the closest we’ve come to trouble in any of them has been some hot, smelly brakes. What can you say to that – except ‘bravo’? It proves beyond a doubt that the major mechanical renovation of cars like these isn’t just for show; it achieves pretty remarkable results. Now for some tough testing of a different kind. Our digs for tonight are 50 miles west, near Carmarthen. But before we can head for them, Disdale and I have a two-car mission to Magor services 50 miles to the east, to deposit a car that someone will eventually need for onward transport. Sounds like a simple trip, but much of it will be done in the dark and cold, in rush-hour traffic. These will be the sort of miles that modern cars make so easy but old ones generally don’t. I already know what kind of time Prior’s going to be having as he pedals the Porsche westwards – because, after a dark, spluttering 6am start, I brought it from the Midlands to south Wales this morning myself. But for some heavy controls and a particularly noisy set of pipes, though, our 47-year-old 911 is pretty easy to drive. The brakes are brilliant. The headlights and wipers are first-class. In many ways, it doesn’t feel like an old car at all. The car has lowered torsion bar suspension, which makes for a ride that feels a bit wooden over sharper bumps, and for a steering rack that needs plenty of heft to get it beyond a quarter-turn. If you took exception to either characteristic, though, you’d just commission the good people at Tuthill Porsche to configure the car differently. You can have what you want, after all; old 911s, they say, are supremely adaptable things. The carburetted engine is smooth, torquey, characterful and potent enough, with only the occasional tendency to stall when slowing down from a long cruise. It demands some care when you’re accelerating from low revs so as not to over-fuel it, while the notchy gearbox likes a deliberate, well-timed shift and the odd double-dab of clutch. You soon get used to both, though. Other than that, you just need to be careful not to put petrol in the oil tank by mistake (an exterior oil filler just behind the driver’s door was one of the curios of the E-series 911). The Alfa? That’d take a bit more getting used to, as I find out when Disdale moves over for our return leg from Magor. Crumbs, it’s really noisy when working; less so, mercifully, at a cruise – but it’s still the sort of car in which, like the Porsche, you’d want to wear earplugs for a long drive. The roll-cage, deeply sculpted seats and four-point belts make it the trickiest of the three to board by some margin – and there’s less room in front of the controls than the other two have. But, Lordy, what rewards there are once you’re getting stuck in. It sounds utterly rampant above 4500rpm and goes like stink. Handles sublimely, too, with more lightness and immediacy than the Porsche and better balance. Wherever you are, wherever you’re going, you’re very unlikely not to be enjoying yourself. I certainly am – until the dusk around wherever we are descends to total darkness and I discover that the Alfa’s LED headlights have a regrettable tendency to switch themselves off completely now and again. Only for a few seconds at a time – but long enough to focus the mind on an unlit motorway. Sometimes it will happen when you indicate or turn the heater on, at other times entirely without warning. Very Italian. Last time I checked, though, it’s not something that 10-year-old Fiats do any more. Still, at least the Alfa’s headlights work 99.5% of the time. As we get back to the Jensen for the last leg of our evening motoring, the mood of our trip takes a turn and the less palatable side of restomod ownership is revealed as we discover that the Interceptor’s sidelights work fine, as do its main beams – but its dipped beams don’t work at all. Ah. A call to JIA suggests we check the wiring to the footwell-mounted dip switch, and then the fuse box, but neither yields any luck. All we can do is limp in convoy to the nearest garage, buy some electrical tape and blank off the car’s headlights as much as possible. It’s either that or let a blown fuse bring this whole test to a premature end. It’s a comfy car, the Interceptor – and much more so than either of the other two here, it should be noted – but not nearly comfortable enough to stand in for a proper bed and a cooked breakfast for a road tester who’s had a 16-hour day. Matt Saunders On the open road I’m sweating here, and it’s not just because the Alfaholics GTA-R 290 doesn’t have air conditioning, or that with its four-point harness pulled tight you can’t reach the window winders. No, the reason perspiration is forming on the brow is that for something so flyweight the Alfa requires a fair bit of muscle to hustle. It’s a crisp and bright morning after the night before and last night’s headlight woes are forgotten. We’ve wound our way from the hotel near Pendine (leaving the car park took longer than expected, as vehicles such as these attract the right sort of attention everywhere you go), to some twisting roads in the Black Mountains – the sort that should ideally suit these sorts of cars, where driving for the hell of it is what it’s all about. Yet with their serpentine switchbacks, your arms and legs are working twice as hard as in a modern, and that comes as a shock to limbs pampered by power assistance. Yet like all things in life, the harder you work, the larger the rewards – and in the case of the GTA-R, the rewards are very large indeed. The compact and quick Alfa is perfect for roads like these, dancing into and out of corners with dizzying agility (watching the boat-like Jensen in my rear-view mirror lurching hilariously from port to starboard as Prior tries gamely to keep in touch further highlights the GTA-R’s nimbleness). There’s just the right balance of grip and slip, while the steering is hefty but it’s quick and precise and delivers real feedback – not as much as the Porsche, but not far off. The stiff and short-travel suspension is occasionally ruffled by sudden, sharp imperfections, but otherwise the GTA-R corners fast and flat, riding the bumps with aplomb. And, of course, there’s that glorious engine. Yes, it’ll spin to the heavens, but on HM’s highway you can short-shift and ride the wave of tractable, digitally managed torque. Even then it’s still fast and physical, feeling closer to a Caterham than anything else here. That’s not something you can say about the Jensen, although we all agree it feels more at home here in the hills than at the track. Of course, it’s bigger and heavier, while its focus on cruising comfort means it’s more of a point-and-squirt device than the maximum-momentum Alfa Romeo and Porsche. Surprisingly, traction is good, and there’s not much call for the RaceLogic traction control, while the power-assisted steering is easiest to manage here, even delivering some decent feedback. It’s only when you really press on that the Interceptor starts to feel its age, quick changes of direction resulting in those nautical lurches. Of course, if you want a sharper drive, then the adjustable dampers can be firmed up, plus there’s the option of an anti-roll bar at the rear. But when the long drive home from Wales beckons, it’s the Jensen’s long-striding cruising gait and wall-to-wall leather-lined and air-conditioned interior that I end up wangling my way into. Falling between the two in terms of down-the-road dynamism is the 911. The aim for this example has clearly been to make it as benign and as usable as possible (the interior is exquisite), but that doesn’t mean it’s dull. The balloon tyres and wider track mean it never feels anything but secure, but in classic 911 style the nose bobs around in rhythm with the road and the steering constantly writhes in your hands, gently keeping you in touch with the Tarmac. Like the Alfa, it feels delightfully compact, allowing you to pick from a choice of lines and yet stay resolutely in your lane, the front end going just where you place it thanks to strong bite and steering that ramps up the weight gently. Most surprisingly, there’s no unruliness if you change your mind mid-corner; instead, the Porsche simply tucks neatly in. And the brakes are cracking, the firm pedal and progressive response bettering even the GTA-R’s. If there’s a let-down, it’s the engine. It sounds glorious as it wails away into your slipstream but, with less than 200bhp, it feels a little limp. It’s not such a hardship on the track where you can keep it singing happily away near the redline, but out here the low-speed response isn’t as strong, while those carbs occasionally cause some coughing and spluttering, allowing the Alfa and Jensen to pull effortlessly away out of the hairpins. Naturally, you can upgrade the engine, adding both muscle and tractability, which is precisely what’s happening to this particular car next. And therein lies the appeal of restomods like these. They are essentially blank canvases limited only by your imagination, taste and (significant) budget. You want a sharper Jensen? No problem. A quicker and more mobile-feeling 911? But of course. An Alfa with air conditioning? That’d be nice. James Disdale The devil in the detail JIA Jensen Interceptor Donor car: 1973 Jensen Interceptor Donor car cost: na Restomodification cost: £320,000 Total cost: £320,000 The Jensen’s shell is shot blasted, then any necessary welding is undertaken and replacement panels are added. The interior is stripped and fully retrimmed in Bridge of Weir leather and fitted with a bespoke dashboard, and switchgear plus an infotainment upgrade and new Smiths instruments. Front suspension is rebuilt and rebushed and its geometry altered. Independent rear suspension is fitted in place of the live axle, with uprated springs and adjustable dampers. Cast alloy wheels or three-spoke JIA rims are offered. Engine is replaced with either a normally aspirated LS3 or supercharged LSA Chevrolet V8 and six-speed automatic transmission (new cars get an eight-speed transmission), RaceLogic traction control system and AP brakes with ABS. Total man-hours: 3000 Alfaholics GTA-R Donor car: Alfa Romeo 105-series coupe Donor car cost: £10,000-£30,000 Restomodifcation cost: £310,000 Total cost: £320,000-£340,000 Alfaholics like to start with an original car or one that hasn’t been restored for ages. The shell’s seam is welded, it gets a 12-point roll-cage and carbonfibre doors, bonnet and bootlid. The aluminium twin-cam engine from a 75 is bored and stroked to 2.3 litres and uses Motec engine management. There’s still a live rear axle but the close-ratio ’box and limited-slip diff get Alfaholics internals. Titanium top front wishbones, adjustable gas shocks and lightweight springs are also used. Power steering is an option. Total man-hours: 3000 Tuthill Porsche 911 2.4E Donor car: 1973 Porsche 911 2.4E (E-series) Cost of donor car: £90,000 (est) Restomodification cost: £150,000 (est) Total cost: £250,000 (est) Shell treated and resealed, exterior rechromed, repainted and upgraded with widened body. Interior, boot and engine bay remodelled and retrimmed Competition pedal box, shift mechanism and steering wheel fitted; electronic air conditioning added. Engine reconfigured for carburettors and new exhaust fitted. Lowered and stiffened torsion bar suspension fitted along with new damper struts and wider wheels. Competition-grade brake upgrade with new master cylinder added. Total man-hours: 1500 Best of the read... omods Eagle E-Type: Arguably the most famous restomod there is, based on one of the most recognised cars in the world. Available in E-Type, Speedster, Low Drag GT and Spyder GT guises, all are exquisitely finished, fearsomely expensive and fantastic to drive. MG LE50: It looked the part but the MGB was never great to drive. Not so the LE50, developed by Frontline Developments. It features a fettled 210bhp Mazda 2.0-litre, six-speed manual ’box and fully adjustable suspension. Decent value at £65,000, too. Lancia Delta Futurista: Could the 1980s be ripe for a restomod revolution? If so, this 330bhp aluminium and carbonfibre three-door Integrale by Italian coachbuilder Automobili Amos could be the car to start it. Just 20 will be made, each at £270,000. READ MORE EV conversions slammed by classic car experts The best cars from the classic rebuild industry Silverstone start-up Lunaz to electrify British classic cars View the full article
  24. Familiar big beasts still roam the Formula 1 grid, but a new herd of young, hungry talent is on a stampede in 2019 Five world champions in the past 12 years. That says much about how the elite dominate in Formula 1 and how hard it is to break through to the topper-most of the popper-most. Of that quintet of champions, two – Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg – are already retired and the other three will be aware, to varying degrees, just how loudly the clock is ticking. Kimi Räikkönen, champion in 2007, is the oldest, having just turned 40; Lewis Hamilton, champion for the first time in 2008, is 34; Sebastian Vettel, who won four consecutive titles between 2010 and 2013, is 32 but is increasingly looking older after a fraught couple of years at Ferrari. What is certain is that all are closer to the end than the beginning. That’s true even of Hamilton, despite still appearing at the height of his powers. But he will recognise that a changing of the generations – as inevitable as taxes – is upon F1. How can he not, after a 2019 season in which a clutch of fresh talent has risen to challenge the status quo, with all the glorious precociousness and cocksure self-belief of youth? F1’s new power generation are not just the future. They’re right here, right now, and ready to grab at opportunities, whenever and wherever they come. Charles Leclerc, age 22, team Ferrari Monaco’s new favourite son stepped up to Ferrari this year and wasted little time in proving that the usually conservative team had made the right call in signing him. The near-miss in Bahrain, a race he would have won convincingly without an engine problem, also foreshadowed the growing problem Ferrari team-mate Vettel now has on his hands. Leclerc is increasingly proving tough to live with and at this rate could even shorten the four-time world champion’s career. Like Max Verstappen, there are creases in Leclerc’s driving to be ironed out – but unlike Verstappen, he’s only in season two. The mistakes, especially in one who is so openly and refreshingly self-critical, will surely dwindle as experience grows. The back-to-back victories at Spa and Monza, the latter automatically elevating him to god-like status in the eyes of the Tifosi, offer the evidence to indicate just how special this driver could be. In both races, he faced the physical and psychological challenge of a looming Hamilton in his mirrors. Like Ayrton Senna 30 years ago, Hamilton strikes fear into the heart of the best in such circumstances – Vettel, even if he wouldn’t admit it – but Leclerc refused to be rattled. Hardened perhaps by coming off second in combat with Verstappen in the closing stages in Austria, he delivered the kind of composed performances that marked out Hamilton in his rookie year at McLaren in 2007. The parallels have not escaped Hamilton, either. Lando Norris, age 19, team McLaren For all of Verstappen and Leclerc’s impressive form in race-winning cars this year, has Britain’s Norris actually been the best of the new generation? There’s a case to be made, considering the state McLaren was in when it first signed the teenager. Matching and beating team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr is impressive enough – the Spaniard is a fine grand prix driver – but it’s the composure, confidence and qualifying pace this young man consistently displays that has really struck F1 insiders. With this pairing, no wonder McLaren doesn’t want Fernando Alonso back. Norris has long been anointed special from his earliest progression through the junior ranks, even if he was faintly disappointing in Formula 2 given the height of expectations. But his rookie F1 season has confirmed that he’s best placed to follow Hamilton and become Britain’s 11th F1 world champion – if he makes the right calls on his career. Will McLaren, seemingly consigned to the status of an independent customer team, really be the destination for Norris to deliver on his obvious potential – or is it just a stop along the way? Once unthinkable, that’s the reality of McLaren’s fall from grace in the past decade, despite the impressive fourth-best-team-in-F1 resurrection this year under new boss Andreas Seidl. The progress is great set in context, and in time Norris might win the odd grand prix at McLaren – but a championship? He may well need a move to achieve that. Like Verstappen, the next big decision – whenever it comes – will prove vital. Max Verstappen, age 22, team Red Bull Racing The Dutchman stands out from our new generation, but only because he’s already so well established. That’ll be something to do with him making his F1 debut as a youngest-ever 17-year-old and now already being in his sixth season. What was that old motor racing cliché again? Something about ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough’… At this rate, Verstappen has the time to top a whole load of career records set first by Vettel and currently being beaten again by Hamilton. He also has what it takes to win multiple world titles, but that might rely more heavily on his choice of career path than purely his driving ability. His contract with Red Bull runs out at the end of 2020, coincidentally at the same time as Hamilton’s does at Mercedes, so a storm of speculation about their futures is on the near horizon. Verstappen will be at the epicentre of the F1 merry-go-round. He has been linked before to Mercedes and in some respects the move makes sense for both parties. For Verstappen, he’d be joining what is fast becoming the most successful F1 team in history, while Mercedes would gain a clear and obvious top-line successor to Hamilton – although the prospect of both bulls playing in the same field for a few seasons is too delicious, for everyone perhaps bar team boss Toto Wolff, who’d have the almost impossible task of keeping them apart. And that’s the big question mark over Verstappen: is he too strong a flavour for a team that already has Hamilton? Also, even if Hamilton does welcome the challenge that Verstappen clearly represents, does Mercedes need him with so much other talent already on its books (see Esteban Ocon and George Russell later in this article)? Then again, the temptation of Verstappen’s explosive force might be too much for Wolff to resist, especially as the signs are that strong flavour is starting to mature. On the other hand, Verstappen could make a call that, rather than switch to a Mercedes team that might already be at its peak, he’d be better off sticking with Red Bull, which appears to be back on the path to greatness in harness with Honda. If there is a decision to be made, it will surely be an agonising one – and potentially career defining. Alexander Albon, age 23, team Red Bull Racing The London-born Thai driver is one of the best stories of the season. He had been expecting to race for Nissan in Formula E this year, before the surprise call came in that he’d been handed a Toro Rosso chance in F1. Placed alongside Daniil Kvyat, the quick Russian with plenty to prove himself, Albon might have been expected to become the latest young talent to be chewed up and spat out by the ruthless Red Bull driver programme. He might still be, of course… but so far, Albon hasn’t been that guy. Instead, when Pierre Gasly was unable to unplug himself from a mire of mediocrity, Albon became the choice on merit to replace him at the Red Bull A-team mid-season. Since then, he has scored the points the team had targeted, and while challenging Verstappen at this stage seems one step beyond, that’s hardly anything to be ashamed of. So has he done enough to convince his boss, Christian Horner, that he deserves the seat full-time for next year? As I write, that remains to be seen. But Albon has come a long way in a short time and the best could be yet to come. George Russell, age 21, team Williams It’s hard to judge the reigning Formula 2 champion, who beat both Norris and Albon to claim his crown. The reason? Williams is undergoing the most depressing slump in its long history – and that includes the era when Frank Williams ran second-hand customer cars on a shoestring back in the 1970s. Even a comparison with team-mate Robert Kubica means little given the Pole’s unique situation of returning to F1 against all odds after almost losing an arm in a rally crash. Even in the worst car on the grid, there’s no hiding that Kubica isn’t – and couldn’t be – the driver he was. So how has Russell performed in his rookie season? In such circumstances, he’s done everything that has been asked of him. Like Ocon, he’s on Mercedes’ books, but at this stage, he wasn’t even considered for Valtteri Bottas’s drive for 2020. Long term, a seat at the Silver Arrows team has to be his aim. He’s lower in the pecking order than Ocon right now, and there’s the Verstappen factor to consider, too – but all he can hope for is some semblance of team revival during his second season at Williams, in 2020. At 21, he’s got time – but in an era when racing drivers are like policemen and seem to be getting younger, Russell won’t have long. He will be impatient for his next move. Esteban Ocon, age 23, team Renault Currently consigned to reserve driver status at Mercedes, the Frenchman returns to the F1 grid next year with the team that agreed to take him for 2019 but then changed its mind when Daniel Ricciardo made himself available. Ocon has it all to prove at Renault. A seat at a proper manufacturer team is a big deal, but how hard will it be for Ocon to push the thought to the back of his mind that he might have been in a Mercedes? Wolff, Ocon’s manager as well as Merc’s team boss, made it clear he had a simple choice over the summer: sign Ocon to join Hamilton for 2020 or retain Bottas. He retained Bottas, despite a less than impressive string of performances following his strong start to the season. Nevertheless, Bottas doesn’t look like a potential world champion, which is surely what the best team in F1 should be signing. So what does that say about Ocon? Wolff said he was concerned about damaging his driver’s career by putting him up against Hamilton too soon. But if this new generation proves anything, it’s that opportunities can’t come soon enough. That old cliché springs to mind again: if you’re good enough… Ocon first needs Renault to give him a competitive car next season and then he needs to use it to outpace Ricciardo to earn a Merc call-up. That has to be his (admittedly tall) target. READ MORE F1 bosses unveil new 2021 rules to boost racing How to fix Formula 1, according to Autocar Racing Lines: the trouble with Renault in F1 View the full article
  25. Markus Duesmann Markus Duesmann appointed CEO of German firm, with Bram Schot out after less than two years Former BMW executive Markus Duesmann has been appointed the new boss of Audi, with current chief Bram Schot leaving “by mutual agreement” after less than two years in charge. Duesmann will take over from Schot as Audi CEO on 1 April 2020, after the appointment was confirmed by the German firm’s board today (Friday). The 50-year-old has worked in the automotive industry since 1992. He initially worked for Mercedes-Benz as a diesel engineer and had a spell working in Formula 1 as the head of development for the BMW Sauber team. He joined BMW’s executive team in 2016, most recently serving as head of purchasing. He left in July this year and has been strongly linked to the Audi role since then. Herbert Diess, the Volkswagen Group boss who chairs the Audi board, said: “As an excellent engineer, Markus Duesmann will do everything in his power to leverage the great potential of the Audi brand and will once again demonstrate the power of Vorsprung durch Technik.” Schot, 58, had served as Audi’s sales boss until he was vaulted into the CEO role after Rupert Stadler was arrested in relation to the Dieselgate emissions cheating scandal. He had started a programme of trying to simplify Audi’s line-up – with the company badly hit by delays in testing cars until the recently introduced WLTP test cycle – and increasing its focus on electrification. Audi’s deputy chairman, Peter Mosch, said that Schot had been “the right man at Audi at the right time," adding: “He started a cultural transformation towards fewer hierarchies, a clear value system and more openness.” READ MORE The world according to Audi boss Bram Schot Volkswagen Group to invest in further EV and hybrid expansion View the full article
  26. Refreshed British-built hatchback will arrive next year with a new grille The refreshed Honda Civic, arriving early next year, has a restyled front end, an upgraded interior and new colour options. There's an additional lower grille section around the foglights, while the main grille has been simplified in a move designed to give the front profile “a cleaner, more aerodynamic design”. Full LED headlights are also available for the first time, accompanied by a minor redesign of the daytime running lights and honeycomb inserts, the latter of which are the result of customer feedback. The exterior changes are capped off by a new Obsidian Blue paint in addition to existing colours. The facelifted Civic can be specified with a new design of 16in alloy wheels for the entry-level model. The mid and top-range versions can be optioned with 17in wheels, available in an exclusive grey coat. Inside, there's a new, textured panel over the glovebox on the passenger side. An electric eight-way adjustable driver's seat has been added to the range-topping model. All models benefit from a revamped infotainment system, now with buttons and dials in response to customer demand. The three engine options, a 1.0-litre petrol, 1.5-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel, are unchanged. The updated Civic is £400 more expensive, with new prices beginning at £18,845. Deliveries will commence in January next year. READ MORE Honda to electrify European line-up by 2022, not 2025 Honda e: UK pricing confirmed from £26,160 Honda to ditch diesel in Europe by 2021 View the full article
  27. Firm to invest more than £50 billion to launch 75 EVs and 60 hybrids in the next decade The Volkswagen Group has further expanded its electrification plans, with a commitment to spend more than £50 billion on the development of electric and hybrid technology in the next five years. The investment plan for 2020 to 2024 – involving around £28 billion to be spent on electric models and £23 on hybrid and digital tech – has been approved by the VW Group Supervisory Board at a Planning Round meeting. The VW Group says that represents an increase in research spending of around 10 percentage points from the previous investment plan. As part of the plan, VW Group chiefs have further expanded the planned roll-out of electrified models for the next ten years across its brands, which include Audi, Bentley, Porsche, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen. It aims to launch up to 75 all-electric models – five more than previous plans outlined earlier this year – and around 60 hybrids. The VW Group now plans to produce around 26 million fully electric cars and nearly six million hybrids by the end of 2029. Notably, of the 26 million full EVs, it expects around 20 million to be based on its bespoke MEB platform, which is being introduced with the Volkswagen ID 3, with “most of” the remaining six million to use the high-performance PPE platform that's being developed by Porsche and Audi. That six million car target for the PPE platform is the clearest indicator yet that it will be widely used throughout the VW Group, and not just by Audi and Porsche. The architecture is designed for full-size luxury cars and SUVs, and features an 800V system that's capable of 350kW fast-charging. VW Group boss Herbert Diess said the plans show that the firm would “step up the pace again in the coming years with our investments.” He added: “Hybridisation, electrification and digitalisation of our fleet are becoming an increasingly important area of focus. We intend to take advantage of economies of scale and achieve maximum synergies.” READ MORE Audi previews A5-sized luxury coupe as early PPE model VW Group targets 70 electric models by 2030 Volkswagen ID 3 revealed with up to 341-mile range View the full article
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