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  2. The electric Vision iV concept recently shown at Geneva Czech car maker is readying for electrification onslaught this year after increasing deliveries by 4.4% last year Skoda will launch 30 new models by 2023, at least 10 of which will be electrified, the Czech brand has announced at its annual conference. Its electrification strategy will kick off this year with the launch of the Superb plug-in hybrid and the electric Citigo city car. Its first model on the MEB electric platform, which was developed by parent firm the Volkswagen Group, will arrive in 2020. The MEB-based electric SUV will be a production version of the Vision iV recently shown at Geneva motor show. Skoda has previously said it would have 10 electrified models by 2025, so this announcement suggests it has accelerated its plans to achieve this goal at least two years earlier. At that time, it was confirmed that six would be plug-in hybrids and four would be electric. More imminent arrivals in the broader model line-up include the recently revealed Scala hatchback and Kamiq SUV, as well as a heavily updated, not-yet-seen Octavia – Skoda’s biggest selling model - later this year. Skoda’s plans for the next three years were outlined at the event following news of another record year for the brand. The car maker delivered 1,253,700 vehicles last year, an increase of 4.4% over 2017. It has almost doubled sales from a decade ago; in 2009, Skoda sold 684,226 cars from five model lines. Skoda remains the third biggest brand in the VW Group, beaten by VW (6.2m sales) and Audi (1.8m) Sales revenue also increased by 4.4% to £14.8bn but operating profit fell by 14.6% year-on-year to £1.1bn. This is largely thanks to major outlays in 2018, including a £428m investment into improving its factories. Skoda said expenditure on research and development increased by 46.8%. Skoda CEO Bernhard Maier said: “The upfront expenditures on the coming years will ensure the long-term future of our company.” Skoda’s profit margin in 2018 was 8%, a fall from 2017’s 9.7% but still remarkably better than its sibling Volkswagen, which achieved a 3.7% profit margin last year. China remains, by far, Skoda’s biggest market with 341,000 deliveries last year, followed by Germany with 176,600. Third place went to its home of the Czech Republic trailed by the UK. Skoda delivered 74,500 vehicles here, slightly down on last year. Maier commented that 2018 was “a year of considerable challenge for Skoda”. “We assumed responsibility for several tasks within the Volkswagen Group: the regional management of India and Russia, the development and production of the Passat family at the Kvasiny site, and the expansion of production capacities at a multi-brand plant. He continued: “The transition to the new WLTP cycle and the trade dispute between the US and China created uncertainty and reluctance to buy in some markets. Negative exchange rate effects, as well as increased personnel costs and high upfront expenditure for the future, are also reflected in the result.” Maier predicted that 2019 would also be a challenging year, but added that despite the difficult global economic conditions, Skoda would still gain momentum. Skoda’s plans for digitalisation As well as the launch of its first electrified cars this year, described by Maier as “a very special moment in Skoda’s 124-year history”, the firm is also pursuing its plans to expand into new markets and focus on digitalisation. Last year, Skoda launched in Singapore, meaning it’s now present in 103 markets, and the firm said it was “pressing ahead with accessing new markets”. South Africa is expected to be next.Skoda said other key areas for progress included e-mobility, autonomous driving, connectivity and digitalisation, and added it “intends to increase its global vehicle sales by effectively implement these topics”. As part of this intention, Skoda has opened two so-called Digilabs in Prague and Tel Aviv, both of which work with start-ups to develop new solutions for transport in the future. The Digilabs are working on a number of vehicle-on-demand projects such as the private peer-to-peer car sharing app Hoppy Go and the student car-sharing platform Uniqway. The maker is also currently testing a delivery service, by which parcels are delivered directly to the boot of customers’ cars, similar to what Amazon and Volvo already offer in the States. VW Group’s growth in India Skoda is also ramping up its roll-out in India, where a small SUV will be unveiled next year. Since taking over management of the region for the VW Group in 2018, Skoda has opened a technology centre in Pune, India, which it describes “as the first major step in the implementation of the project”. It will localise 95% of production of the vehicles, which will be both Skoda and Volkswagen models. R&D boss Christian Strube said: “By opening the Technology Centre, we are underlining our determination to make the INDIA 2.0 project a success. “India has excellent universities and highly qualified staff; this state-of-the-art facility will help us to unlock that huge potential – especially with regard to design and development. Local development is the key to success.” Read more 2019 Skoda Scala UK pricing and specifications revealed​ New Skoda Kamiq crossover: Nissan Juke rival revealed​ Next Skoda Octavia vRS to go hybrid​ View the full article
  3. Suzuki-branded hybrid cars based on RAV4 and Corolla to launch in Europe as part of 'wide-ranging collaboration' Toyota and Suzuki have announced a new wide-ranging collaboration, which will involve Toyota producing Suzuki-badged hybrid vehicles based on the RAV4 and Corolla estate for the European market. The two Japanese firms signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a partnership in 2017, and have now agreed ‘concrete details’ of the deal. The two firms say the agreement will bring together “Toyota’s strength in electrification technologies and Suzuki’s strength in technologies for compact vehicles”. The agreement is also designed to help both firms “grow in new fields”, and will include joint collaboration in production and electrified vehicles. Toyota and Suzuki say they will “continue to fairly and freely compete against each other”. Both firms have given details on a number of specific projects in which they will collaborate, split into three strands. Toyota will supply its hybrid powertrain system to Suzuki at a global level, and will supply Suzuki with two new electrified vehicles based on the RAV4 and Corolla wagon for the European market. These two cars will be produced by “OEM supply”, meaning that Toyota will make them for Suzuki. Toyota will also adopt Suzuki’s newly developed compact vehicle engines in the European market. These engines will be manufactured at Toyota’s facility in Poland. The two firms will work to develop hybrid vehicles for the Indian market. Suzuki will also supply Toyota with two compact vehicles based on the Ciaz and Ertiga for the Indian market, and four vehicles in the African market. In addition, Toyota and Suzuki have agreed to collaborate on the development of a C-segment SUV for India, with Toyota taking on production of the Suzuki Vitara Brezza for that market. Toyota boss Akio Toyoda said: “We believe that the expansion of our business partnership with Suzuki - from the mutual supply of vehicles and powertrains to the domains of development and production - will help give us the competitive edge we need to survive this once-in-a-century period of profound transformation.” Suzuki boss Osamu Suzuki added: “We appreciate the kind offer from Toyota to let us make use of their hybrid technology.” Read more Toyota and Suzuki partner on green powertrain and developing markets (from 2018) Toyota RAV4 review View the full article
  4. Original Beetle is noisy, basic and thirsty, but surely the most recognisable, durable and enjoyable car on the road Is the Volkswagen Beetle your favourite automotive icon? Read what we think and cast your vote The Volkswagen Beetle is in the running to be this year’s Autocar Awards Readers’ Champion. Each day a different member of the Autocar team will champion one of the 17 cars, but only one can be the Icon of Icons and it’s up to you to decide - vote here. This isn’t a defence of the modern Beetle, or an attempt to argue it was misunderstood or under-appreciated. I’m not going to die on that hill, or even stub my toe against it. The Beetle’s second life is just an excuse to sing the praises of the original. Nor is it just the first car’s huge production run that brings it here (more than 21.5 million by the time production finally ended in Brazil in 2003), nor its cultish following, nor even the unarguable appeal of Herbie Goes Bananas. Nope, the Beetle has earned its place on top of the list for proving that cheap didn’t have to mean nasty. Drive a Beetle today and ‘modern’ is not one of the words you are likely to take away from the experience. There’s huge character, but no doubting the basic-ness of the car itself. The rear-mounted engine ticks like a demented sewing machine at idle, but there is a distinctly Porsche-like character to the soundtrack under harder use. Appropriately enough – the new 911 being the Beetle’s first cousin six times removed. Harder use is what a Beetle driven on modern roads tends to get – even the last European-market versions made do with 1182cc flat fours producing just 35bhp (Americans got a 1.6-litre version with a heady 59bhp). Driven with binary throttle inputs, a mid-1970s Beetle is quick enough to keep up with modern traffic, but not really up to the task of ever drawing ahead of it. But this doesn’t matter, because you are almost certain to be smiling. The Beetle isn’t a sports car – the official 0-60mph time was 36 seconds and the natural cruising pace is around 55mph – but the basics are overwhelmingly good. The gearshift is accurate and graunch-free, the clutch progressive and the low-geared steering has nice weight and delivers good responses. Taken to its limit, the swing-axle rear suspension could turn the car snappy, but driven at everyday pace it displays a tightness and positivity in stark contrast to the dynamic slop served up by most of its contemporaries. It’s the build quality that really impresses, though. A well-maintained Beetle still feels solid and tight; the doors close better if you lower the window a centimetre first, such is the efficiency of the seals. In an era when cars were often delivered to their first owners with major faults, and many suffered life-threatening corrosion before their fifth birthdays, Volkswagen’s quality came as a revelation. It was also a happy side effect of the fledgling company’s lack of funds when production was restarted after the war – initially at the behest of Ivan Hirst, a British army major – and without the funds to develop new models. The result was a truly evolutionary approach with iterative upgrades rather than generational changes throughout the Beetle’s long life. Spin-offs like the now-venerated Bus and Van used the same suspension and powertrains. The Beetle was inexpensive – one of the cheapest cars in the UK right up to its retirement here in 1978 – but its solid construction and dependability won it a middle-class following, one that undoubtedly served as the basis for VW’s modern successes. Icon is an overused expression; the Beetle is one of very few cars to have genuinely earned it. Click here for the Volkswagen Beetle to be named our 'icon of icons' Read more Saying goodbye to the Volkswagen Beetle​ 70 years on: the VW Beetle in America​ James Ruppert: why you need a Volkswagen Beetle​ View the full article
  5. This entry-level roadster charms as an all-rounder, but is it the dynamic showcase BMW says it is? As an entry-level roadster, the new Z4 sDrive20i should be among the sweetest-handling cars BMW builds, and therefore among the sweetest-handling cars full stop. No pressure, then.But as we’ve already learned, not least from spending time in a development prototype and subsequently during a drive of the top-billing M40i version, BMW has put its back into making the third-generation Z4 much better to drive than its tepid forebear.There are plenty of changes. The suspension has been re-engineered with a higher proportion of aluminium and there’s a new five-link set-up at the rear. The engine sits closer to the car’s centre of gravity, which is itself lower than before, and the front track is 98mm wider – a colossal increase. At the same time, the wheelbase has shortened 26mm in order to stiffen the aluminium-and-steel platform shared with the BMW 5 Series and the new Toyota GR Supra.Arguably of equal importance to all that is the fact BMW has done away with run-flat tyres, the new Z4 instead wearing Michelin’s truly excellent Pilot Super Sports. Too much grip? We'll come back to that, but this is fundamentally a promising layout: traditionally front-engined and rear-driven, with equal weight distribution and a driving position now closer the car’s mid-point.As it stands and will probably remain, with hybrid and proper M versions looking highly unlikely unless some BMW board member has a change of heart, there are three engine options, all petrol and turbocharged. The sDrive20i model tested here and the sDrive30i each get BMW’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit, respectively tuned to 194bhp and 255bhp for 0-62mph times of 6.6sec and 5.4sec. At the top of the range sits the Porsche 718 Boxster-rivalling M40i M Performance, which takes a 3.0-litre inline-six, mates it to the same ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox and duly drops the sprint time to 4.6sec.All cars are well equipped, but as a quick run-down, here's what spending a bit extra over the sDrive20i Sport's £37,000 list price can get you.Both Sport and M Sport cars are fitted with 18in alloy wheels touting an attractive degree of tyre sidewall, although the latter also gets M Sport suspension, an M leather steering wheel, a relatively restrained bodykit and, in the case of the sDrive30i, M Sport brakes. The M Sport Plus Pack – available on the sDrive30i but not the sDrive20i – adds the same adaptive M Suspension you'll find on the M40i. The other significant option is the Comfort Pack, which includes a heated steering wheel (crucial in our eyes), a useful wind deflector and through-load access from the boot. View the full article
  6. Yesterday
  7. Tweaked design, new safety systems and uprated interior technology for Mercedes' more stylish SUV Mercedes-Benz has given the GLC Coupe crossover SUV a mid-life facelift, adding mild-hybrid engines to the line-up and improving safety with new driver assistance systems. Expected to arrive later this year, the revised GLC Coupe has recieved design tweaks similar to those used on the recently-refreshed regular GLC. It gets more pronounced A-pillars, a revised rear diffuser and a diamond radiator grille, along with a distinctive swooping roofline and rounded rear window. It will launch with a range of new 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder petrol and Euro 6d-compliant diesel engines, ahead of the change in legislation due in 2020. The 207bhp GLC200 4Matic and 267bhp GLC300 4Matic include Mercedes' EQ Boost 48-volt starter-generator, which can assist with power delivery or energy recuperation for improved fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions. The trio of diesels that complete the initial line-up, the 161bhp 200d, 191bhp 220d and 242bhp 300d, are expected to make up the majority of UK sales. It also receives optional dynamic body control suspension with adaptive dampers. Mercedes has yet to quote any performance claims for the facelifted Coupe. Inside, the GLC Coupe features Mercedes' latest MBUX infotainment system, with 12.3in digital instrument display and a choice of 7.0in or 10.3in infotainment screen. A touchpad replaces the rotary dial found on the outgoing car, while voice recognition and gesture control is available for hands-free use. It also gains a new suite of driver assistance and safety functions, including door exit warnings, active distance and active steer assist adaptive cruise control, active brake assist and traffic jam detection. Trailer manoeuvring assist uses the 360-degree parking camera to help calculate angles when reversing with a trailer hitched. Pricing and availability have yet to be announced, but the facelifted car is expected to carry a small premium over the outgoing GLC Coupe's £42,390 starting price. READ MORE New Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 Coupe facelift spotted Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell 2018 first drive review Mercedes-AMG set to give all future models plug-in option View the full article
  8. Vaster than our road networks need, but undeniably capacious and finely furnished with it. Brisk and defter than most seven-seaters but no sports SUV This is probably the most regional car BMW has designed.Its big-grilled largeness is aimed at buyers in America, the Middle East, China and other Asian markets, and judging by the enthusiasm with which it was viewed by colleagues from Dubai, it looks as if BMW may have hit the target.These buyers are offered a version with a petrol V8 that we won’t get, its twin exhausting spitting dune-assaulting promise even at idle.European buyers, who will need to think hard about where they might park this seven-seater before committing, can choose between the 335bhp V6 xDrive 40i sampled here, a 192bhp xDrive30d or a 290bhp M50d.The X7 shares the recently renewed X5’s platform, but it’s substantially bigger than that car, occupying a footprint 5.15m long and 2.0m wide less door mirrors. The X5 shares the same width, but come in at 4.92m long and 1.75m high, the taller X7 topping 1.81m, which certainly contributes to the idea that you’re driving a gargantuan beast. So does looking over your shoulder towards the distant tailgate.View the full article
  9. Czech firm will open a new Volkswagen Group plant in Eastern Europe to boost supply of in-demand models Skoda will build a new Volkswagen Group factory to cope with demand for its growing SUV line-up and prepare for expansion into new markets. The Czech firm recently launched the Kamiq to sit beneath the Karoq and Kodiaq in its SUV range. It sold 150,000 Karoqs in 2018, the first full year the model was on sale, but company boss Bernhard Maier has admitted that figure was limited by a lack of supply. “We would have been able last year to sell nearly more than 100,000 vehicles more than we did because of a lack of production capacity,” he said. Skoda sold 1.2 million cars last year and has a goal of increasing that to two million by the middle of the next decade. Maier said the brand was moving “from being a straight volume manufacturer and expanding into a true global player”. He added: “With our new product line, if we fixed our production capacity, we’d be able to sell more than two million vehicles before the second half of the decade. We could sell more this year if we could build more. The problem is that product demand is bigger than our supply.” Skoda was short of body building and final assembly capacity at its two main plants in the Czech Republic, Mladá Boleslav and Kvasiny, where it assembles around 800,000 units a year. A third plant in neighbouring Slovakia makes the Citigo hatchback. Models affected include the Fabia, Scala, Octavia, Superb, Karoq and Kodiaq. The need to add capacity – which Maier notes is “a good problem to have” – has led to Skoda taking the lead in the construction of a new Volkswagen Group plant in Eastern Europe. The firm is currently considering four sites. “By the middle of this year, we have to decide whether to push the button,” said Maier. Which models the plant would build has yet to be decided, but Maier described it as “a completely different product line-up”. As with other manufacturers, Skoda also had to work around shortages of some petrol and diesel engines due to the difficulties of rehomologating for the new WLTP regulations, but Maier pins the bulk of the lost capacity on a shortage of body and final assembly. Additional reporting by James Attwood Read more New Skoda Kamiq: Nissan Juke rival revealed at Geneva Skoda Scala: full details of new Rapid replacement Volkswagen Group expands electric car plans View the full article
  10. Limited-run two-door conversion from Niels van Roij Design will be priced from £275,000 London-based coachbuilder Niels van Roij Design has revealed its new Adventum Coupé, based on the current-generation Range Rover. It sports an extended two-door design that revives the concept of the recently axed Range Rover SV Coupé. Just 100 examples of the Adventum will be produced, priced from between £275,000 and £375,000 depending on the specification of the base vehicle chosen for modification. This means it will be at least £35,000 more expensive than the SV Coupé Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations division had intended to bring to market. The Adventum’s hand-built body is aluminium, while the customer can choose from a range of luxurious materials to upholster a custom-built interior. The company says no two Adventum Coupés will look the same, with work already underway on the first example. Company boss Niels van Roij said personalisation options for the Adventum Coupé include “highly polished woods, personalised tread plates, extraordinary one-off colour-coded leather hides in chic patterns” and even materials such as tweed. Aside from the lack of rear doors, the Adventum is marked out from the standard Range Rover by a horizontally slatted front grille and exterior badges displaying the name of its designer in place of the usual Range Rover branding. Van Roij said the Range Rover was chosen as the base model because it is “an exemplary work of industrial design”, the original having been displayed in the Louvre in 1970. Construction of each Adventum Coupé will take six months and will begin after the customer has paid a £50,000 deposit. In 2018, Niels van Roij Design revealed a coachbuilt Tesla Model S Shooting Brake, and previously contributed to the development of the new London taxi. Read more Range Rover SV Coupé axed​ Range Rover review Tesla Model S Shooting Brake to be coachbuilt by Dutch designer​ View the full article
  11. American EV manufacturer Karma will unveil a new concept in partnership with Pininfarina Your one-stop shop for up-to-date information on all the new cars that will appear at the event in China Now that the dust has settled from the 2019 Geneva motor show, it’s time to look ahead to the next round of large-scale motoring events. Arriving first is April’s Shanghai motor show, at which some of the biggest manufacturers you’ve never heard of will be displaying their newest models alongside Western brands keen to crack the world’s most lucrative automotive market. Long gone are the days when Shanghai was an exhibition of the most blatant copycat cars, and the impressive fit and finish of new Chinese cars is beginning to pose a very real threat to more established manufacturers. The 2019 edition is especially significant, with an increasing number of Chinese models being prepared for European launches and global manufacturers such as Volkswagen adding to their range of models adapted specifically for sale in China. Here, we take a look at what to expect from the show before the doors open on 16 April. Audi future electric concept Audi will unveil a concept car that previews the long-term future of its design. Like the radical Aicon and Elaine duo revealed in 2017, the concept will look ahead “10 or 15 years”, according to company design boss Marc Lichte. Details remain scarce, but Lichte confirmed the electric concept will explore “what an interior with or without a steering wheel can look like” and be followed by another futuristic concept at Frankfurt in September. Audi to unveil two futuristic concepts hinting at future design Audi Q2 L e-tron Audi’s China-only long-wheelbase Q2 L is the latest model to receive the e-tron treatment. Badged the Q2 L e-tron, the electric compact SUV will be built in Foshan, alongside Chinese variants of the A3 Sportback and A3 Saloon, by Volkswagen Group partner First Automotive Works (FAW). The model is the first of ten planned for launch by Audi and FAW in China by 2022 and the first electric Audi tailored specifically for the Chinese market. 2019 Audi E-tron Sportback previewed at Geneva Citroën ‘ultra-comfort’ concept Following the recently unveiled Ami One will be the second of two concepts that Citroën has built to celebrate its centenary year. Where the two-seater Ami One showed the brand’s vision for the future of urban mobility, the next concept will embody the idea of “ultra-comfort”. A preview image released by the brand shows very little, but what looks like a roof-mounted lidar unit suggests an emphasis on driverless technology. New flagship Citroën saloon confirmed for production Geely GE11 Volvo and Lotus owner Geely will show its GE11 electric saloon in Shanghai ahead of the model’s European launch later this year. To be sold under the newly formed Geely New Energy marque, the fastback-styled EV has been designed with aerodynamic efficiency in mind. The company states that the model’s environmentally conscious ethos doesn’t end with its zero-emissions powertrain; its interior is constructed largely of EU-certified eco-friendly materials. Geely Jia Ji Also on display in Shanghai will be Geely’s first MPV, the Jia Ji. Recently unveiled in Zhuhai, the seven-seater is offered with a range of hybrid and diesel powertrains, Level 2 autonomy, dynamic styling and a starting price of just RMB 99,800 (£11,200). Geely Xingyue Geely’s third Shanghai debut-maker will be the Xingyue SUV-coupé. Originally known as the FY11, the BMW X6 rival sits atop the same Compact Modular Architecture that underpins the Volvo XC40 and Lynk&Co 01. It will offer a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine – producing 235bhp and 258lb ft – and a range of plug-in and mild hybrid powertrains. Jetta Jetta is the new China-only budget brand being launched by Volkswagen this year, and the VS5 and VA3 will be among its first models. Taking the form of a conventional five-door SUV, the VS5 bears a heavy resemblance to the recently unveiled Skoda Kamiq, while the VA3 is a small saloon based on the Volkswagen Jetta currently sold in China. The brand aims to target younger buyers with a strong dealer network and online showrooms. Volkswagen turns Jetta into standalone brand for China Karma-Pininfarina concept Karma, born out of the 2014 collapse of Fisker Automotive, will unveil an as-yet-unnamed luxury model designed in association with Italian manufacturer Pininfarina. The American electric car maker is remaining tight-lipped about the model’s specifications and performance, but a recently released preview image shows off an angular, streamlined front end and a prominent lower grille like that of the original Fisker Karma. Karma teases Pininfarina-designed electric luxury car Karma Revero Joining the new Pininfarina-designed concept on Karma’s Shanghai stand will be the updated 2019 version of the brand’s Revero luxury saloon. The four-door range-extender electric car is tipped to receive styling revisions to the front and rear but retain an overarching resemblance to the original Fisker Karma on which it's based. Karma has plans to launch the new Revero in Europe as a competitor to the Polestar 1 performance hybrid. New Karma Revero plug-in hybrid saloon tests in Europe Karma Vision Rounding off Karma’s ‘Shanghai Big Three’ will be the Vision concept. Little is known about what form the Vision will take, but Karma said it will play a role in the brand’s transformation from a traditional car manufacturer into “an open-platform luxury high-tech automotive incubator”, like the Italdesign DaVinci electric supercar revealed earlier this year at the Geneva motor show. Volkswagen ID Lounge The fifth member of Volkswagen’s ID range of electric vehicles (after the hatchback, Buzz, Crozz and Vizzion), the ID Lounge will take the form of a luxurious seven-seater SUV, sitting atop the largest version of the company’s MEB platform. A pair of electric motors will give the Touareg-sized model 369bhp and four-wheel drive. Range is expected to be upwards of 370 miles, which would be a significant improvement over its primary rival, the Tesla Model X. Volkswagen ID Lounge: luxury SUV will lead electric line-up Read more Lynk&Co 01 PHEV review Karma partners with Pininfarina for product development Analysis: China car sales turmoil to end View the full article
  12. Key PSA Group shareholder says success of Vauxhall-Opel purchase makes it willing to explore further acquisitions The Peugeot family, one of the major shareholders in the PSA Group, is ‘ready’ to support an acquisition or merge with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, pointing to the success of the purchase of Vauxhall-Opel. The PSA Group comprises Citroën, DS, Peugeot and Vauxhall-Opel, and boss Carlos Tavares has already said he is interested in acquiring more brands. The FCA Group, whose brands include Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Maserati and Jeep, has frequently been cited as a potential target. The Peugeot family is a major shareholder in the PSA Group through its FFP holding company. In an interview with the Les Echos newspaper FFP chairman Robert Peugeot was asked about a potential merger with FCA, and said: “With them, as with others, the planets could be aligned.” The PSA Group is also reportedly interested in Jaguar Land Rover, which is owned by the Indian Tata group but has struggled recently. While he said there were no deals currently in place, Peugeot said that the “exceptional success” of PSA’s 2016 purchase of Vauxhall-Opel from GM made the family willing to back a similar move. “We supported the Opel project from the start,” he added. “If another opportunity comes up, we will not be braking.” PSA has long had an interest in a deal with FCA, with Tavares ruling out such a move in 2015 to focus on completing the Vauxhall-Opel deal. The two companies have already collaborated in the development of commercial vehicles, and PSA’s interest in FCA is understood to be in part due to the latter’s strong presence in North America, primarily through Jeep and Ram. PSA is currently preparing to re-launch Peugeot in the USA, and a deal with FCA would give it access to infrastructure for servicing and dealerships. FCA boss Mike Manley told Italian reporters at the Geneva motor show that he was “very open” to increased cooperation with other car firms, “whether it’s partnerships, joint ventures or deeper levels of equity cooperation that makes sense for us and whoever that is”. Read more Vauxhall boss on future plans and being comfortably British PSA Group growth plan includes range expansion, new markets Analysis: how PSA boss Tavares transformed the car group View the full article
  13. Reborn 4x4 icon enters final testing stage on the Nordschleife ahead of 2019 reveal and 2020 on sale date The all-new Land Rover Defender has been spotted carrying out performance tests at the Nurbürgring in Germany in preparation for its planned launch later this year. The long-wheelbase prototype vehicle can be seen taking the famous 'Carousel' bend at speed, suggesting Land Rover engineers are making final adjustments to the model's suspension, brakes and steering set-up. Due to go into production early in 2020, the rugged 4x4 was previously spotted testing in North America. Engineers were said to be subjecting the Toyota Land Cruiser rival to "rigorous test extremes", including temperatures as low as minus 40deg Celcius and as high as 48 deg, as well as at altitudes up to 13,000ft. The first official 'spyshots' of the five-door '110' variant were followed last year by shots of the short-wheelbase three-door '90' model testing in disguise. An even longer-wheelbase '130' version is rumoured, too. A prototype has also been seen displaying a rear-mounted spare wheel. It's not clear yet if that's a feature that will make production, but it's likely given the car's off-road focus and the styling link to the old model. Celebrating the Land Rover Defender Previous pictures showed the new Defender in camo livery on the roads near the Jaguar Land Rover factory. Asked about the official images at the Paris motor show, Felix Bräutigam, Jaguar Land Rover's marketing chief, admitted they were of the first prototypes to leave Gaydon, and said more would follow in coming months as the ramp-up to production begins. “These are what we call Pilot build cars and testing will increase on public roads from now,” said Bräutigam. “The first four cars are ready, and now the line is running you can expect the number of test cars to grow exponentially. “In time, as you’d expect, the Defender will go through all the usual test routines, from cold weather testing in Arjeplog in Sweden to extreme hot weather testing in Death Valley in the USA. It’s exciting for us to be able to now be one step closer to bringing the car to market, of course. We are talking about the rebirth of an icon and not just as a single car, but as a whole family. “Our brand is about passion, and it is icons that drive that passion. The truth is the world doesn’t need another premium brand doing what all the others do. These icons are what separate us; at Land Rover we are rooted in our heritage and that’s what makes us different.” Bräutigam added that he felt the time taken between the Defender going off sale in 2016 and relaunching could be a positive for the new car, including the liklihood that it will be offered with electrified powertrains as well as petrol and diesel units. “If we had wanted to recreate the existing car then we could have moved quicker, but it is our view that for an icon to remain an icon it cannot only look backwards, but must move forwards too. The new Defender will move the game on again, and having the benefit for some perspective in order to achieve that should be to our advantage. “The one thing I can promise you is that the new Defender will do all that our customers expect of it, without being a copycat of what has gone before. It is a car for the modern world, and that means that it must move the game on if it is to be relevant.” According to the DVLA database, the vehicle registered with the numberplate seen in our spy shots is powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine. In one of the spy shots captured by our photographer, the window is wound down and a driver can be seen. It appears to be Nick Rogers, Jaguar Land Rover's executive director of product engineering, although the firm refused to comment. The reborn Defender is being developed in at least two forms: a short wheelbase 90-badged model, and a larger 110 version. Autocar has previously revealed that the two wheelbase sizes will allow the firm to develop a whole family of vehicles, ranging from basic utilitarian machines up to luxurious high-end models. With prototypes now having been seen on public roads, at the track and in extreme weather environments, test mules of the new Defender are likely to be a regular sight on public roads as Land Rover hones the vehicle. The aim for the new machine is to offer the “biggest breadth of capability of any model to wear the badge”, with prices tipped to range from over £45,000 to £70,000. The previous Defender went out of production in January 2016, and the firm has been working since then to develop a successor. The original Land Rover Series I, from which the Defender is derived, launched over 70 years ago in 1948. Read more New Land Rover Defender to expand into versatile family James Ruppert on how to buy a used Defender Land Rover Defender pick-up to rival Mercedes X-Class Picture special: Land Rover at 70 View the full article
  14. Want to know which model from BMW’s range of stylish and sporty SUVs is right for you? We’ve got the answer With one of the most comprehensive SUV line-ups on the market, the BMW X range has something for everyone – whether it’s coupé-inspired city-friendly crossovers, large family-sized SUVs with lots of space and off-road capability, or huge seven-seaters packed with premium style and tech. The BMW X range’s ability to blend style and space with the power and handling that you’d expect of a BMW has impressed our road test team no end, with all six models picking up four-star reviews. But, deciding what’s right for you from such a wide selection of vehicles with such a breadth of capabilities can be tough. Luckily, we’re here to help. We’ve delved into the BMW X range to put the key models Head-to-Head, making it easy for you to find the model that’s the perfect fit for your needs. Click here to visit our "BMW X Range: Head-To-Head" site Making things simple Picking your ideal vehicle from the BMW X range isn’t as hard as you might think, as the model line-up presents a couple of clear and easy choices. First of all, there are Sports Activity Vehicles (SAVs) – such as the X1, X3 and X5 – that offer a more conventional SUV body style with all the space and versatility that implies. Or, you can choose the more stylish Sports Activity Coupés (SACs) – such as the X2, X4 and X6 – which boast a swooping coupé-style roofline and even more sporty performance and handling. Then, all you have to do is decide the size of vehicle that you’re after: whether it’s something compact and city-friendly (the BMW X1 and X2), something that offers more space and capability (the BMW X3 and X4), or a large, stylish SUV (the BMW X5 and X6), with the BMW X5 offering up to seven seats. The compact, city-friendly BMW X1 & X2 With the BMW X1 and X2, picking a compact crossover doesn’t necessarily mean a compromise, as both models offer an all-round blend of style, space, comfort, performance and handling that makes them well suited to both urban and outdoor adventures. With a traditional SUV profile and city-friendly dimensions that belie its spacious interior, the BMW X1 offers from 505 litres to 1,550 litres of load volume. And, even though the BMW X2 offers an even more stylish take on the urban crossover formula with its sleek sloping profile, it still offers between 470 litres and 1,355 litres of room for all that life throws at you. On both the BMW X1 and X2 you get a wide choice of efficient and powerful petrol and diesel engines, with a chassis that has been designed to offer handling that can be sporty or refined – depending on your taste. Things get even more spicy with the BMW X2 M35i M Performance model, which boasts a two-litre TwinPower Turbo engine that boasts 306hp, 450Nm and a 0-62mph time of just 4.9 seconds. Click here to find out more about the BMW X1 and X2 The family-sized BMW X3 and X4 The BMW X3 and X4 take things up a notch, with spacious family-friendly interiors and ruggedly stylish looks, all allied to a chassis that blends sporty on-road performance and handling with true off-road capability. The more traditional BMW X3 offers between 550 and 1,600 litres of load space, while the even more stylish BMW X4 still offers between 525 and 1,430 litres – even with its standout coupé-style roofline. Inside, the luxury interior offers a high level of comfort and tech to keep both the driver and passengers relaxed and entertained on long journeys, while a range of powerful petrol and diesel engines and a chassis lets you choose between sporty handling and off-road capability. Things step up a notch with the potent M40d M Performance models – available on both the BMW X3 and the BMW X4 – that add an extra degree of driving thrills to the mix. Click here to find out more about the BMW X3 and X4 The spacious BMW X5 and X6 Need even more space? The BMW X5 and X6 offer huge stylish interiors that dial up the luxury factor and add the latest premium in-car technology. But adding ‘more’ doesn’t necessarily mean that these large SUVs are unwieldy – either in looks, or in driving engagement. The BMW X5’s sleek profile belies its capacious interior – with between 650 and 1,870 litres of luggage space. Alternatively, there’s the option to add a third row of seats for seven-seat capability. The BMW X6, on the other hand, adds a dramatic coupé-style swoop to its roofline, but doesn’t compromise on space – boasting between 580 litres and 1,525 litres of luggage volume. Both models take BMW’s reputation for forward-thinking interior style up a notch, with premium-quality trims and upholsteries and high-tech infotainment systems that deliver an incredibly cossetting and connected environment for driver and passengers alike. And, with a range of powerful petrol and diesel engines – including potent M50d M Performance models – allied to a chassis that has been optimised to deliver sporty handling that defies the BMW X5 and X6’s size, there’s plenty of driver appeal as well. So, whether you’re after more style, more space, more luxury or more technology, there’s something in the BMW X range for you. Click here to find out more about the BMW X5 and X6 View the full article
  15. Chequered Flag special edition also joins the expanded line-up, which gains uprated interior technology Jaguar has expanded its F-Pace SUV line-up with two special edition models for 2019, as well as uprated interior technology and lower emissions for the rest of the range. The F-Pace 300 Sport arrives with unique exterior styling, 22in alloy wheels and 300 Sport-branded yellow brake calipers to set it apart from existing F-Pace models, as well as bespoke front and rear badges. It can be optioned with either a 2.0-litre petrol engine capable of 62mph in 6.1 seconds and a 145mph top speed, or with a 3.0-litre V6 diesel good for 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds and a 150mph top speed. It also runs on ultra low-rolling resistance tyres, which have been included across the range to improve CO2 emissions. The yellow theme continues inside with contrasting stitching across the instrument panel, centre console and leather seats. The steering wheel and front seat headrests get embossed 300 Sport logos. Jaguar says the 300 Sport includes £8430 of extra kit included as standard, including Touch Pro navigation, a 12.3in digital instrument cluster, panoramic sunroof, electrically adjustable heated seats and a Meridian sound system. "The F-Pace line-up has something for everyone," Jaguar design director Ian Callum said. "The latest special editions build on this visual appeal by enhancing the model’s sporting character to each create something unique.” The F-Pace follows the XE saloon, which received a 300 Sport edition late last year. The sportier model is available to order now from £53,980. The Chequered Flag special edition is based on the existing R-Sport model, but includes a sports front bumper and black detailing on the grille, side vents and roof rails. It rides on 20in black alloy wheels and upgrades the interior with meshed aluminium and leather trim, Chequered Flag-branded treadplates, panoramic sunroof, 10-way electric front seats and Meridian Sound System as standard. It also includes the Touch Pro navigation system, 12.3-in digital instrument cluster and Touch Pro infotainment. All F-Pace models now include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. "With this latest raft of updates to the F-Pace, buyers have more choice, better value for money and the addition of the latest infotainment technology as standard," Rawdon Glover, Jaguar Land Rover's UK MD, said. "Rather than drastically alter what is already a very successful formula, we’ve simply made changes where it matters.” Chequered Flag edition cars are available to order now from £46,995, with a choice of 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines. READ MORE Jaguar F-Pace review 542bhp Jaguar F-Pace SVR squares up to Porsche Macan Turbo Jaguar considers transformation to EV-only brand View the full article
  16. The Xceed shares a platform with its hatchback counterpart, but adds rugged styling and raised suspension Volkswagen T-Roc rival will go on sale later this year with revolutionary styling and more space than the hatchback The Kia Ceed crossover, previewed here in a design sketch revealed by the Korean company, will become the fourth model in the expanded Ceed range, alongside the existing five-door hatchback, Sportswagon estate and Proceed shooting brake. Kia's Volkswagen T-Roc rival will sit between the smaller Stonic and the full-size Sportage SUV, aiming to help capitalise on the growing SUV and crossover segments. Sales are expected to start at the end of 2019. Gregory Guillame, vice president of design for Kia Motors Europe, said the new model "will play the role that's needed to make the Ceed range stronger and even more exciting, more appealing to European consumers. "The design will be nothing like you've seen in the Ceed family so far." The car was first spotted testing in November last year, and the most recent pictures showed it undergoing winter testing ahead of its reveal in March. During this test, it was benchmarked against a VW T-Roc. A Kia spokesperson confirmed the model will be revealed in full at a dedicated event in the coming weeks. Although disguised, the prototype revealed a number of stylistic similarities to its hatchback counterpart. The main differences come in the form of larger diameter wheels and tyres, raised suspension and what appears to be a bulkier tailgate design beneath the usual camouflage. Unique front and rear bumpers and prominent roof rails also feature. Aside from the differences in design, the Ceed and its crossover offshoot will share the same fundamental underpinnings and powertrains. As such, engine options will include Kia’s turbocharged 118bhp three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine and the 114bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged diesel. The utilitarian design elements are unlikely to translate into a four-wheel-drive system, however, as the larger, four-wheel-drive Sportage’s drivetrains are not currently offered in the Ceed. Kia could offer a drive mode selector in the Ceed crossover, which would allow drivers to choose an appropriate drive set-up for adverse weather or challenging terrain. Read more Kia Proceed review All Kia reviews Kia to reveal performance EV concept in Geneva​ View the full article
  17. Icon of Icons prize for most iconic car ever among trophies to be handed out during 14 May ceremony This year's Autocar Awards will celebrate the best in the automotive industry on 14 May at Silverstone. The annual awards ceremony celebrates the very best new and used cars, and pay tribute to the engineers, designers and innovators blazing a trail in the car industry. Autocar is calling on readers to vote for their Icon of Icons ahead of this year’s Awards. Readers can vote from a list of 17 icons here, and the winner will be crowned this year's Readers’ Champion Award. Our writers have picked the 17 most important, influential, desirable car names on the planet. The entry criteria is that they’ve had their name from birth and the car’s still in production. The vote closes at 11.59pm UK time on 31 March. The Readers’ Champion is just one of the many honours that will be handed out at Silverstone’s Wing Complex during the Autocar Awards ceremony. Other accolades include the Issigonis Trophy, presented to the individual who has contributed the most to the health, excellence and competitiveness of the European motor industry, and the Sturmey Award, named after Autocar’s founding editor, Henry Sturmey, which salutes innovation and achievement in the motor industry. Tickets for the Autocar Awards evening are available to purchase by clicking here. Read more Icon of icons: Autocar Awards Readers’ Champion - vote now!​ Autocar Awards 2018: Akio Toyoda wins Issigonis Trophy​ Nominations for rising stars in Autocar’s Great British Women Top 100 now open​ View the full article
  18. Famously lithe and frill-free, Lotus' lightweight two-seater lives on today in the form of the Caterham Seven Is the Lotus Seven your favourite automotive icon? Read what we think and cast your vote The Lotus Seven is in the running to be this year’s Autocar Awards Readers’ Champion. Each day a different member of the Autocar team will champion one of the 17 cars, but only one can be the Icon of Icons and it’s up to you to decide - vote here. In my book, an automotive icon is a venerable car that sets extraordinary standards, then retains them as time passes. The Defender, Beetle, Mini and E-Type would all qualify were they still being built in their original forms. This distinction points me unerringly to one supreme machine, the Lotus Seven, born in 1957 and then preserved after 1973 as the Caterham Seven when its inspired but restless creator, Colin Chapman, wanted to build more advanced road cars and make his way in Formula 1. In the entire car world, the Lotus Seven is the design I feel best embodies the elusive quality of automotive ‘rightness’. In 62 years, any upstart two-seater of similar size, weight and mechanical layout has looked like a Seven copy, simply because the original Lotus’s most memorable features – fuselage body, flat screen with triangular braces at the base, gloriously simple nosecone and integral grille, proud headlights tucked into the gap between body and wings – are so perfectly judged and gloriously gimmick-free that there wasn’t, and isn’t, a better way of doing them. The styling also perfectly describes the car. Even the dreariest non-driver can instantly tell that the Seven’s purpose is to make simple fun of any drive. In its seventh decade, the Seven has a series of unique abilities. It takes a collection of ordinary mechanicals and arranges them in a special way to make a car that is faster, especially on circuits, than high-born mid-engined supercars. While delivering all this capability, your Seven’s buying and running costs are low: light weight and simplicity mean it can tolerate hard use, and when renewal of key parts is needed, they’re more affordable and quicker to fit than the rest. The car’s big secret has always been its mechanical layout. A Seven has zero body overhangs, so every kilogram of weight is retained well inside the wheelbase. That makes it famously agile. Occupants look great in the car, sitting low but securely located in separate tubs immediately ahead of the back axle, sighting down the long nose. Any Seven driver will tell you how immediately you feel the most subtle yaw (aka cornering motion), a key advantage that lets you take early action. Sevens are famously easy to drift under power, and these factors (driving position, agility and ideal weight distribution) are the reasons. And there’s a bonus: occupants always look over alloy bonnets, past louvres, over shapely wings and past proud headlights – sights that never stop reminding you you’re at the wheel of something special. Over many years, Lotus and Caterham Sevens have won so many Autocar performance and handling competitions that we’ve become used to inventing special categories for them. Lumping them in with the rest simply emphasises unhappy performance disparities. The icons I named earlier all reached an unmistakable end of the road. Other cars became better; at the end, they were trading on their history. But the Seven shows no sign of running out of relevance, or capability. Or appeal to the rising generation of drivers. The reverse, actually. Rival sports car creators long ago learned how to best cope with the Seven: leave it to its own devices and make something different. Click here for the Lotus Seven to be named our 'icon of icons' Read more Caterham Seven review Used car buying guide: Caterham Seven Lotus at 70: the highs and lows​ View the full article
  19. Latest addition to Volkswagen's Touareg range carries the last engine of its kind Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up this week's gossip from across the automotive industry The Geneva motor show saw countless new cars revealed and a number of important announcements from the world's biggest car makers. What it also gave us is some suitably gossip-worthy snippets of motoring news, including the reasons behind Skoda's late arrival, the delay faced by EV buyers in the UK and more. VW’s final diesel V8 One hidden gem on Volkswagen’s Geneva motor show stand was a new V8 diesel-powered Touareg. It’s likely to be a swansong for V8 diesels in VWs, and sales and marketing boss Jürgen Stackmann hopes it’ll become as sought after as the old V10 diesel Touareg. The V10 was considered mighty when it was launched with 553lb ft. The new V8 gets 664lb ft and hardly an eyelid is batted. Nearly a Geneva no-show Skoda’s Vision iV electric SUV concept arrived very late to the show – for reasons you couldn’t make up. Czech sources say two separate trucks bringing the car from Skoda HQ broke down, the second one having gone to rescue the stricken concept from the first, before a third then got pulled and was held by the Swiss authorities. By which point it was too late to make it to the VW Group preview evening. You can bet on Brexit There was much muttering at Geneva from PR teams of UK-based makers about how many Brexit questions they and their chiefs would face. Rumour has it that one manufacturer even started a sweepstake on how many times the B-word was mentioned in interviews. EV buyers face long wait Want one of the latest EVs? Don’t count on it this year, as every EV sold in 2019 will count against makers from 2020 at crunch time for this round of CO2 reduction targets. Car makers will not be handed ‘super credits’ to stop financial penalties for cars sold over CO2 limits until next year. Hence you’ll struggle to get an Audi E-tron, for example, and why Hyundai’s Kona Electric is effectively off sale until 2020. Read more Skoda previews future electric models with Vision iV concept​ Used car buying guide: Volkswagen Touareg​ Hyundai Kona Electric review View the full article
  20. The best used Alfas, 159s included, come from enthusiasts Bargains are everywhere, but it’s wise to look in as many places as possible to find the best The thing about buying a used car is that ideally you should sell the really old one first. That’s the way it’s supposed to work anyway. But flogging old cars is a huge faff. Here’s the proof from reader Gerry, who got in touch. “I am now seeking to dispose of my 2004 black Lexus IS 300 SportCross. It has a full service history and has completed 123,000 miles. I tried to dispose of it as a part-exchange when I bought a new car, but the garage would not touch it and advised me to sell it privately.” They are correct, of course, if you can be faffed. To me, it sounds like the perfect no-brainer practical buy, with a luxury twist. We’re all interested in that, surely. The thing is, these sorts of cars are all around us: you just have to keep looking. Gerry simply has to put his Lexus in the right place, wherever that is. Actually, it is as many places as possible. If you want something cheap and local, then it has to be the regional freebies. With, say, £500, what runaround could I get with a year’s MOT? I narrowed it down to a straightforward Ford Fiesta and found a 2005 1.4 at £425 with 120,000 miles, almost a year’s ticket and what seemed to be an honest, few-owner specimen. Some of the social media sites have cars like these but the descriptions are often terrible, although at least it makes you go and see the vehicles. Moving up to something a bit larger and dependable that could lap up a long journey, let’s spend £5000 on a Mazda 6. I like those. Indeed, a 2010 2.2D Sport with 75,000 miles had at least been pre-repaired because some big jobs had been done, which is one approach to buying wisely. Look for the big bills, and if you are selling, always advertise what you’ve spent. In this case, clutch, flywheel, timing chain, so at least it should do another 100,000 miles with only consumables to worry about. The asking price was £4000. When it comes to something a lot more interesting , you can get lucky with a private seller. However, the ratio of private ads in the paid-for ads is falling off exponentially, which is a shame. You can find so many owners who have fabulously well-documented cars like an Alfa Romeo 159 2.0 JTDM with 91,000 miles of full service history and two enthusiast owners. That was up for £5000 and the signs were that this was a proper Alfisti with more than one in the stable. That’s the perfect car and seller. Great used cars, especially private ones, are out there – provided the pricing is realistic and allows for the fact that you may have to spend £500 on an independent warranty. If Gerry still wants to sell, get in touch. What we almost bought this week Chrysler 300C Estate: Some folk called the saloon version the baby Bentley, to the extent that they even fitted a Crewe grille to it. Not such an effective ploy with the estate but what a looker. This 3.0 CRD is a 2005/56-reg with 110,000 miles for £2995. Oil leaks, loss of power, worn front bushes and air-con gremlins are among the things to look for. Tales from Ruppert’s garage Mini Cooper, mileage - 102,487: Yes, the Cooper returns. After many months away, it is back in the garage. I don’t have the full breakdown of the bill yet. I think they liked taking it for test drives, which is fine by me. They have done a spectacular job. It runs better than ever and the reason why this happened is lost in the midst of the original rebuild. When I first drove it after a long lay-off years ago, the temperature gauge suggested it was running hot. So the best explanation is that the original rebuild could have been better. Now I can get on with driving it again. Reader’s ride Ford Mondeo: Liam Cawley is a good friend of this page and has just picked up a Mondeo 1.8 LX Mistral. “I bought it to transport three lurchers,” he says. “It has done 120k miles with two previous owners and a full, if slightly lapsed, service history. It came with six months’ MOT. “The chain-driven petrol engine still pulls strongly and all the oily bits are in good order. The interior still looks modern and has worn very well. “It has replaced a PCP-funded car for the price of two monthly payments. I can see it lasting a fair few years.” Readers’ questions Question: I want a fun, emissions-free-capable, automatic hatch that’s cheap to insure and costs up to £20,000. What do you suggest? Jonathan Cox, via email Answer: The Hyundai Ioniq 1.6 GDI Hybrid will give you up to 30 miles of emissions-free motoring, is fun to drive and, in Premium spec, well equipped. More are coming to the used market and £16,000 will bag you a 2017/66- reg model with 10,000 miles. John Evans Question: I’m worried about having my catalytic converter stolen. How can I protect it? Bob Wright, Chorley Answer: Park your car in a well-lit place where it can be seen by you or your neighbours and fit a Thatcham-approved tilt alarm. If your car is an MPV or large SUV, fit a protection device such as the CatClamp Economy (£120). John Evans Question: I’ve just found a year-old road tax refund cheque I forgot to cash. Am I too late? Susan Tomes, Tetbury Answer: Six months is the limit for the cheque to be valid but send it to Refunds, DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AR and they’ll issue a replacement. Don’t forget to cash it… John Evans Read more Ford Mondeo review Company car tax: what you need to know Future classics: the 10 cars most likely to make you money​ View the full article
  21. The 2020 BMW M4 Gran Coupé as imagined by Autocar Munich squares up to rivals with jacked-up straight-six powerplant in next-generation M3 and M4 models The next-generation BMW M3 and M4 due in 2020 will receive a significantly upgraded six-cylinder engine capable of more than 500bhp in its top form. The flagship model to use this new engine will be a new M4 Gran Coupé (imagined by Autocar above), the first time the four-door coupé has featured a full-fat M variant. It will be joined once again by two-door coupé and cabriolet variants, beside the M3 saloon. The 3.0-litre powerplant, which carries the internal codename S58, is a development of the firm’s standard B58 unit, as used in the existing 440i and other BMW models. But as M division officials have revealed to Autocar, “it is for all intents and purposes an all-new drivetrain with significant changes to the base engine that allow it to rev beyond 7000rpm and deliver a much higher specific output” than today’s S55 engine. As well as being earmarked for the next M4 Coupé and the first-ever M4 Gran Coupé, the new twin-turbocharged straight six is also planned to propel a new M4 Convertible, the upcoming sixth-generation M3 and, in a lesser-powered form, the second-generation M2. It will be launched in the new X3M and X4M. An increase in power provides the new S58 engine with a higher specific output in Competition guise than the old S55 with water injection, a set-up used by the 493bhp M4 GTS. That unit provides the outgoing M4 Coupé with 425bhp in standard guise and 444bhp in Competition form. BMW’s M division engineers have managed to raise power by more than 11% in the standard M4 and 13% in the M4 Coupé Competition, with claimed outputs of 473bhp and 502bhp respectively. These figures appear set to place the new model in direct competition with the 444bhp Audi RS5 and 503bhp Mercedes-Benz C63S Coupé. Torque is also increased by 37lb ft, with the new S58 engine delivering 442lb ft on a band of revs between 2600rpm and 5600rpm. Despite the increase in performance, the S58 engine has been developed to meet strict new emission regulations to potentially provide the standard M4 with a CO2 figure of less than 200g/km, thanks in part to the adoption of twin Otto particulate filters. Key among the changes over the S55 engine is the adoption of a longer stroke, at 90mm. The bore measurement remains 84mm, but BMW M claims the altered internal measurements help to boost torque potential. Also included are two mono-scroll turbochargers in place of the single twin-scroll unit used on the B58 engine, as well as BMW M’s latest Valvetronic variable valve timing and ‘Double Vanos’ variable camshaft profile. The compression ratio has also been reduced, from 10.2:1 for the S55 to 9.3:1. Although the new engine goes without water injection, officials say it may appear on a further-developed version of the S58 unit likely to appear in a successor to today’s 453bhp M4 CS. Secrecy surrounds the rest of the M4’s mechanical makeup. However, insiders suggest it is in line to abandon tradition by adopting an eight-speed torque converter-equipped automatic transmission and a similar xDrive four-wheel drive system to the latest M5 (with an M-Dynamic mode apportioning power to the rear wheels) in at least one version. It is also suggested a cheaper and lower-powered entry-level model could potentially be offered, with a manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive. Read more New BMW X3M and X4M get 503bhp Competition version BMW M4 review 2019 BMW M3 to kick-start 26-car M division expansion View the full article
  22. The next-gen BMW M3 makes substantial power increases over its predecessor BMW's M cars are tipped to receive more potent powertrains from 2020, which threatens their position as performance family cars With looming emissions legislation and the blanketing of speed cameras on our roads, who would have thought the old German horsepower war would still be going on in 2019? The M3 and M4’s 500bhp-plus figure shouldn’t be too surprising, given Mercedes-AMG has been selling the C63 with 503bhp for a few years now. But this is no longer a race between BMW, Audi and Mercedes, thanks to Alfa Romeo bursting onto the scene with the wonderful 503bhp Giulia Quadrifoglio. But, yet again, I find myself questioning where it will all end. Many will call me a cynic, but I feel like we are already in a situation where super-saloons are becoming less fun because they’re too powerful. For me, nothing beats the thrill of nailing a corner apex, running up to the redline and rattling through the gears on the straight. The current M3 is already at the point where you can do that for a precious few seconds before flirting with a court appearance. With more than 500bhp and the stability of four-wheel drive, the business of spirited driving could become sanitised. Perhaps, then, a base model, with not much more power than today’s M3 and M4, rear-wheel drive and the involvement of a manual gearbox could be the sweetest spot in the range. Read more 2020 BMW M division models to receive new 500bhp engine Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio review​ McLaren Senna vs. Alpine A110: can less be more?​ View the full article
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  24. Coupé and convertible receive a 542bhp twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre engine that's good for 198mph The new Bentley Continental GT V8 has been revealed in both its coupé and convertible forms, with the firm claiming it will be the “most agile” example of the grand tourer produced to date. The new model swaps the standard third-generation Continental GT’s 664bhp 6.0-litre W12 engine for a 523bhp twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8. This gives it a 42bhp power boost over the previous Continental GT V8. The powertrain makes 568lb ft of torque, giving the coupé a 0-62mph time of 4.0sec and a top speed of 198mph. The convertible has a 0-62mph time of 4.1sec and an identical top speed. Both versions feature an eight-speed automatic gearbox, with quad sports exhausts that Bentley says produce a “characterful V8 burble”. Bentley claims the new model, which is lighter than the W12 version launched last year, will be “lively and engaging” to drive and have a touring range of more than 500 miles. The ride and handling has been tweaked for the V8, with lightweight anti-roll bars at the front and rear. Bentley’s Dynamic Ride System adaptive chassis control is available as an option. The model remains four-wheel-drive, with the system sending power to the rear wheels as standard for maximum efficiency. The Continental GT V8 models are identifiable by quad exhausts and V8 badges on the front wings. The car sits on 20in wheels as standard, with optional items ranging up to 22in. The interior features leather seats offered in a monotone colour split, a new walnut fascia – with other woods available as options – and a 10-speaker Bentley Audio system. The Continental GT V8 will go on sale in the US later this year, with deliveries in the rest of the world, including the UK, starting in early 2020. Bentley has yet to confirm pricing for the new model, but it's likely to be cheaper than the £159,100 starting price of the W12 model. Read more Bentley Continental GT review​ 15 countries in 24 hours with a Bentley Continental GT Bentley marks 100th anniversary with Continental GT Number 9 Edition View the full article
  25. Fisker's SUV will slot into the same price and performance band as the recently revealed Tesla Model Y American start-up company is due to launch futuristic model with near-300-mile range in 2021 American start-up company Fisker has released details of an electric SUV that's set to launch in the second half of 2021. The announcement comes just four days after the unveiling of the Tesla Model Y, a new seven-seat electric SUV with a range of up to 300 miles. Like the Model Y, the as-yet-unnamed Fisker will be priced from less than $40,000 (£30,200) in the US. It features what the firm calls “captivating design touches that have been traditionally reserved for supercars in the past”. Confirmed styling details include a front-mounted radar in place of a grille, a large front air intake, flared wheel arches and a futuristic headlight design. Performance details haven't been revealed, but an 80kWh lithium ion battery pack is claimed to provide of a range of nearly 300 miles. The car will be available in four-wheel-drive form with an electric motor mounted on each axle. Fisker hints at the presence of a targa-style removable roof section, stating that “with the touch of a button, an extended open-air atmosphere will be made possible without compromising the rugged and safe structural integrity of an SUV”. It also claims the interior will offer class-leading space and feature a large head-up display and an intelligent user interface. Henrik Fisker, company founder, said the new model will take the form of “a desirable, luxuriously rugged and green vehicle that’s accessible to people across the US and the world”. It's not yet confirmed where the new model will be produced, but Fisker said prototype testing will begin before the end of this year. Last year, Fisker unveiled its Emotion electric luxury saloon, claiming a top speed of 161mph, four-wheel drive and range of 400 miles, plus Level 4 autonomy. The company is also at work on developing solid-state battery technology, which it says would allow its vehicles to gain 500 miles worth of charge in as little as one minute. Fisker Inc. was formed in 2016, succeeding the bankrupted Fisker Automotive company that launched the Karma range-extender electric luxury saloon – now re-engineered and on sale as the Karma Revero – in 2011. Read more Fisker Emotion revealed at CES with 400-mile range Insight: could Fisker become the next Tesla?​ Fisker Orbit autonomous electric shuttle to use in-wheel motors​ View the full article
  26. The name badge of the new 4x4 BMW to supply petrol and diesel engines for back to basics 4x4, the first official details of which have been confirmed by the company for the first time Ineos Automotive has confirmed its Projekt Grenadier will use BMW-sourced petrol and diesel engines in the first of a series of upcoming announcements around its upcoming hardcore 4x4. The new model, created by the Ineos chemical company owned by Britain’s richest man Jim Ratcliffe, will be revealed in 2020 before going on sale in mid-2021, the company has confirmed to Autocar. A whole host of different variants, bodystyles and wheelbase lengths of the new model are planned, as part of its brief to fill the void of the original Land Rover Defender as a back to basics 4x4 that’s a spiritual successor to that car. Around 25,000 units a year for the company is the ultimate production goal across its various derivatives, and Ineos believes it can be profitable at that level despite Land Rover not having a business case for the previous Defender which was just below those levels. Mark Tennant, Projekt Grenadier commercial director, said this was no vanity project for Ratcliffe, and that the project would be judged internally against the same profitability criteria as Ineos’s other businesses. After the BMW powertrains, the exact specification of which are yet to be revealed, the next announcement is set to be around where the model will be manufactured, with a desire for the model to be built in Britain. Ineos isn’t ruling out using an existing site to build Projekt Grenadier, although Honda’s Swindon plant is considered too large and Ford’s Bridgend plant is not geared up for car production. It is ensuring it plant has greater capacity should its 25,000 sales target be exceeded, said Tennant. Projekt Grenadier, the production name for which is due to be revealed this summer after a public competition to name it ends, will be built on an Ineos-designed and built steel ladder frame chassis, with aluminium body panels. Solid live front and rear axles will feature along with permanent all-wheel drive to help give the car its target of best in class off-road performance, while remaining as light as it can be and retaining credible on-road performance. The engineering of the car has been outsourced to German engineering firm MBtech. Around 150-200 MBtech engineers are working full-time on it, with another 40-50 Ineos engineers embedded in the project. One mule has been built and has been testing around the Austrian Alps since last June. Ineos will work with partners, including BMW, on some areas of the project, but will design, develop and build for itself in other areas, including with the chassis as there is not an off-the-shelf ladder frame that can meet the project’s requirements. Ineos also plans to build the manufacturer the car itself rather than use a contract manufacturing company, including developing its own tooling. While the project may have been born out of a desire to fill Land Rover’s void, the project has evolved into a significant entity in its own right. The brief has evolved to trying to do what the original US Army Ordnance Spec Jeep could, in being tough off road and easy to repair. Rivals such as the Toyota Hilux and Jeep Wrangler are mentioned by Ineos, which hints at both the kinds of bodystyles it will offer and its pricing is likely to be in the high £30,000s to low £40,000s as a starting point. Ratcliffe, an engineer by trade, has stated that the car must be capable and durable, with a good design, while remaining affordable. As for its powertrains, Projekt Grenadier will not use electrified technology at first, but does have its eye on future EU7 emissions regulations. It will not use plug-in hybrid technology due to the unnecessary weight it adds, but is watching closely the development of fuel cells in particular. A diesel is still considered crucial in Europe initially as that’s where the market remains for such vehicles. An automatic transmission is likely due to its greater robustness but not yet confirmed. Styling wise, Tennant said that it would “not be on trend as another jelly mould crossover SUV” and Ineos would “move away from the homogenised vehicles that ultimately give less choice”. The very nature of its narrow width, short wheelbase, wheel at each corner and flat glass design mean it will be a boxy 4x4 with real off-road purpose, but Ineos is still working hard on giving it a design character of its own with a face and lighting signature. “It won’t be an alternative to an SUV, it’s putting the utility back into that,” said Tennant. He said it would be built for purpose with everything functional, and was designed to be a working tool with real credibility in markets such as Africa and Australia, and for use by non-government organisations. It would be designed with easy maintenance in mind, and to work on lower quality fuels that it might encounter in more remote places. The interior will also be functional in its design, with drain plugs and hose down materials. Chunky rubber will feature inside, and leather will only be used if it’s the most durable and functional material. Cabin ergonomics will be greatly improved over the original Defender, too. A whole series of aftermarket options are under consideration to give even greater customisation to the model, including removable body panels. The business model will be similar to FCA’s Mopar in this regard. A full-size clay model exists and is currently being honed and finalised before being imminently signed off. Ineos has worked with an outside design company in Stuttgart on the look of Projekt Grenadier but has also consulted with a big-name major car designer, too. The company will sell its models direct where it can, as with its global spread of sales across multiple variants, the actual amount of each model sold in each market will be quite small. Initially, Ineos plans a launch in Europe for its first new model, with other ‘rest of world’ markets, the likes of Africa and Australia, to follow. A US launch is further off due to the different regulatory requirements, while a Chinese launch is not being committed too for now due to the challenges of entering the market. In the future, Tennant is not ruling out other cars or vans from Ineos, but the long-term focus would be on getting the Projekt Grenadier and its derivative each launched successfully around the world. Read more Ineos considers Bridgend factory for new SUV Ineos vs Land Rover takes to the high seas Ineos Grenadier: why a chemical firm is creating a 'serious' off-roader View the full article
  27. Event, taking place on 19 June, recognises 100 British women who are the rising stars of the motoring industry Nominations have opened for the 2019 Autocar Great British Women in the Car Industry – Rising Stars event, which celebrates rising female stars in the automotive world. The ground-breaking annual industry initiative, which is in its fourth year, will recognise prominent female rising stars at the Awards event taking place on Wednesday 19 June. Run in partnership with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Autocar’s Great British Women in the Car Industry – Rising Stars event honours the achievements of future women leaders across the breadth of the automotive sector. Autocar recognises the top 100 rising women in the industry from a host of categories (listed in full below) including Sales, Marketing, Manufacturing and Vehicle Development, with one overall winner taking home the top award. New for 2019, the New Mobility and Digital Solutions category encourages nominees who work in a role which may not have existed 10 years ago, with a focus on jobs that are subject to change in the business, whether that be digital or technical innovation. Another category, for apprentices, celebrates women who are just starting their career in the industry. Haymarket Automotive managing director Rachael Prasher will return to lead the judging panel for Autocar’s Great British Women in the Automotive Industry. She will be joined by a mix of industry experts including Jim Holder, Mark Tisshaw, Steve Cropley and Rachel Burgess from Autocar’s editorial team and the SMMT’s chief executive, Mike Hawes. Haymarket’s Rachael Prasher said: “The buzz we managed to generate around last year’s Great British Women event stands as a testament to the spotlight that is being shone on the wider discussion around women in the workplace at the moment. Last year we saw a great list of hugely talented females lead the way on the ‘Great British Women’ list, and we expect to see just as high a calibre of ability among the names of those put forward for the 2019 Rising Stars edition of the Awards. “By selecting these rising stars in key sectors across the automotive industry, we are showcasing the future of the automotive world, which is constantly moving and developing. We are all really excited to see the candidates put forward for the 2019 Award and to find out more about the brilliance of their work in the industry.” The SMMT’s Mike Hawes said: “It is a great privilege for SMMT to be so closely involved with Autocar once again for its Great British Women in the Automotive Industry – Rising Stars initiative. The automotive industry is rapidly evolving so manufacturers need to harness all the talent and ability they can get, inclusive of all diversities and genders. “Recognising such talent, as we do through the Great British Women – Rising Stars programme, helps to highlight the progress the automotive industry is making in regards to technological advancements as well as workplace diversity.” Since launching in 2016, Autocar has alternated its Great British Women event each year to recognise both the most influential women in the industry and rising stars. In 2017, Jaguar Land Rover research engineer Amy Rimmer was named as the leading rising star for her focused ambition on becoming a leading expert on autonomous vehicles. Rimmer’s work included the progression of Jaguar Land Rover’s autonomous vehicle technology, taking a lead in demonstrating the brand’s developments in the field for the UK Government. Last year Citroën Global CEO Linda Jackson was named as the most influential British woman in the automotive industry, ahead of a host of highly respected category winners including Jaguar Land Rover chief product engineer, Elizabeth Hill, and Helen Emsley, design director of General Motors-owned brands GMC and Buick. Nominations for this year’s Awards must be registered by 23:59 on 17 April, and can be submitted by candidates themselves, or nominated by their peers. Please click here to enter. The shortlisted winners will be revealed at the ceremony in central London on Wednesday 19 June. The afternoon ceremony will run from 1.30pm to 5.30pm and feature presentations from key industry figures (to be announced soon), a panel debate and networking session. Space for the event is strictly limited, with priority given to winners and past winners. However, a limited number of tickets should be available. Anyone interested in attending the event should contact Autocar at autocar.events@haymarket.com. More details of the 2019 Autocar Great British Women in the Car Industry initiative can be found here. Read more Why Citroen CEO Linda Jackson won Autocar's Great British Women Award​ Citroen boss Linda Jackson calls for more diversity in car industry​ Autocar's 100 inspirational British women 2018 View the full article
  28. The latest LSDs have electronically activated clutches instead of mechanical ramps which compress the plates and lock the differential We take a look inside the crucial component in any performance car's drivetrain One of the great unsung heroes in any decent performance car is a limited-slip differential (LSD). Sometimes essential, a ‘slipper’ will almost always make a quick rear-wheel drive car more involving to drive. When Alfa Romeo launched the new driver-focused Giulia and Stelvio last year, there were two new limited-slip ‘diff’ options on offer: traditional mechanical or electronic with torque vectoring. A differential is a mechanical analogue computer, an infernal machine both complex and simple at the same time, without which cars just couldn’t work at all. When a car rounds a bend, the outside wheel on each axle has to travel farther and spin faster. A differential allows that on each driven axle while still transmitting torque to both wheels – so no freewheeling. At its heart is a small cluster of conical-shaped bevel gears, and it’s these that allow the two sides of the axle to rotate at different speeds when they need to. There’s an inherent weakness, though, and when driving hard a performance power struggle kicks off. Grip is never exactly equal at each wheel due to things such as weight distribution, road surface conditions and even tyre pressures. Despite apparently holding all the cards, the wheel with the most grip has the worst bargaining power, and torque takes the easy route to the wheel with least grip. If the grip on one side is poor enough, the wheel will spin and little or no drive torque will go to the other – and if it becomes airborne, all drive is lost. To plug that loophole an arbitrator is needed to negotiate a more equitable torque split, and that’s where the limited-slip differential comes in. A traditional example has a clutch pack mounted either side of the internal gear cluster. When one wheel begins to rotate faster, a ramp mechanism compresses the clutch plates on both sides, progressively locking the two wheels together. In motorsport differentials, it works in both power-on and power-off situations, making the differential an essential tool for steering the car on the throttle. A variation on the theme is the Torsen – a contraction of ‘torque sensing’ – differential with a system of helical gears to do a similar job as the clutch plates. In modern electronically controlled limited-slip differentials the clutch packs are controlled electro-hydraulically. The clutches can be controlled individually to vector torque from one side of the axle to the other, creating torque vectoring system. A variation of that is the Twinster system, used in the Ford Focus RS, for example. In a Twinster rear axle, there’s no central gear cluster at all, just the clutch packs. The differential effect is controlled by slipping the clutch on the inside wheel, allowing it to rotate more slowly, and it can also decouple the wheels completely to improve fuel economy. It’s made possible by advances in materials and clutches that are claimed not to wear out. It’s clever stuff, even if it lacks the elegant appeal of the original, mechanical, infernal machine. Quaife ATB for Fiesta ST The Ford Fiesta ST can be optioned with a Quaife ATB – for ‘automatic torque biasing’ – diff, a Torsen-type LSD with clutch plates replaced by more gears. It’s smoother for road use and biases torque to the wheel with most grip. But it won’t lock the wheels 100%, and if one wheel becomes airborne, the locking effect is lost. Great for frontwheel-drive road cars as it helps tighten the line when powering out of a corner. Read more The story behind Alfa Romeo’s handling reinvention​ Ford Focus RS review Ford Focus RS Edition on sale now with traction-boosting Quaife LSD​ View the full article
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