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  2. New Precept concept will show how the Volvo sub-brand plans to evolve following the launch of the 1 and 2 Swedish manufacturer Polestar has previewed a new concept that’s expected to evolve into an all-electric successor to the firm’s 1 and 2 debut production models. Set to be unveiled ahead of the Geneva motor show at a dedicated event later this month, the concept is called the Precept, and “shows the direction that Polestar is heading in,” according to the brand. Details are light, and the official preview image shows only a darkened silhouette of the Precept from above, but we can see that it will feature Polestar’s trademark angled LED headlights and wraparound rear light bar. The brand has previously stated an ambition to cultivate its own styling language, separate from that of parent company Volvo, and this concept is likely to show off a bold new design direction. No technical details have been revealed, but any new model from the Volvo spin-off can be expected to sit atop the Volvo-developed Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform, and use an evolution of the 402bhp twin-motor powertrain featured in the 2, which will go on sale later this year. It’s not yet known what type of car Polestar is developing, but the brand says the Precept “shapes the future of Polestar’s look and feel”, so we can expect the production version to boast premium features, advanced technology and minimalist styling. Read more First drive: 2020 Polestar 2 prototype​ Volvo reveals XC40 Recharge as first full electric model​ View the full article
  3. Second-generation Peugeot 2008 is a classy contender in an at times derivative segment. We put the predicted best-seller to the test on UK roads They say that good things come in small packages. They also say that too much of a good thing can, well, sort of be a bad thing. I’ll go out on a limb and connect a few dots here, but does that mean that a large collection of small packages might be something we should be mildly concerned about? “They” (whoever that might be) doesn’t seem to have any pearls of wisdom to offer on the subject, which is probably a good thing if you’re in the compact SUV-making game. And these days, who isn’t? There are now so many that it seems like we’re writing about a new one each week.Which brings me to the new second-generation Peugeot 2008. It’s a car we’ve driven before out in France and rather liked, but now that it's landed in the UK we’ve got our first opportunity to see how it fares on our own, often not entirely smooth roads.You’ll likely know most of the headline stats by now. It’s a bit bigger than before (some 15cm longer); is built on the same CMP architecture that underpins the likes of the new DS 3 Crossback and Vauxhall Corsa; and is available with a choice of internal combustion and pure electric powertrains. That last bit is all part of Peugeot’s new ‘choose your car, then choose your powertrain’ philosophy, which seems to me like a rather sensible way of warming customers up to the idea of adopting electrified vehicles. For what it’s worth, Peugeot reckons some 15% of the 2008s it sells in the UK will be the all-electric e-2008 model.The remaining 85%, then, will be powered by petrol or diesel engines, with the former accounting for the lion’s share. And of those cars, it’s this particular 2008 is expected to be the best-seller. It’s the second-to-top GT Line model, equipped with a 129bhp three-pot motor that drives the front wheels via a six-speed manual ‘box. It’ll set you back £26,100, which is in the same ballpark as a similarly well-specced, 148bhp Volkswagen T-Roc SEL, but quite a bit more than a top-flight Nissan Juke - both of which fall into the ever-expanding B-SUV segment.View the full article
  4. Hybrid grant key to company expansion plans that include range-extender van due to go on sale in October The boss of taxi-maker LEVC has called for the UK government to retain the grant for plug-in vehicles, as he announced plans for a significant expansion of his company. Joerg Hofmann told Autocar that the grant is scheduled to expire in six weeks, but that it is vital in ramping up sales of plug-in vehicles. Buyers of LEVC’s range-extender taxi benefit from a grant of as much as £7500 when buying a top-of-the-range £59,000 TX5 cab. The grant is also seen as vital for LEVC’s expansion plans, which should see the Coventry factory’s output expand from 2500 units in 2019 to the plant's capacity of 20,000 units annually, by the end of 2022. Key to this huge expansion is the new LEVC range-extender van, which goes on sale in October. ‘We are transforming from a niche taxi builder to competing in the commercial vehicle market’ Hofmann told Autocar. ‘We will be competing in the 1 tonne van market, which is worth 600,000 sales across Europe annually, though this may rise to as many as 1 million over the coming years’ he said. ‘At the moment this market is 99% diesel, but our new van will be a viable low-emissions vehicle for the majority of logistics companies. We call this market “distribution to door”. Hofmann says conventional EV vans cannot compete in this market because they are so limited on range. The TX van, however, gets 80 miles from its 31kWh battery and has a three-cylinder petrol range extender for a total range of around 400 miles. Like the new London cab, it’s expected that users will employ the range-extender while travelling from logistics bases, deploying the battery when they reach the city centre. Hofmann also revealed that the new van should be ‘notably’ cheaper to buy than the TX cab. Using figures from existing TX cab owners, LEVC estimates a saving of at least £100 per week on fuel compared to a conventional diesel van, and says that a lease cost of around £180 per week is entirely feasible. The cab has an official CO2 rating of just 20g/km; LEVC claims the taxis it has sold so far (which have covered a total of 95 million miles to date) have allowed a reduction in CO2 of 30,000 tonnes over the equivalent diesel taxis, along with a 99.5% reduction in NOx emissions. When the TX van is in full production, it is expected to account for 14,000 of the annual 20,000-unit factory capacity. LEVC has also opened an export office in Frankfurt and says it has had interest from Japan, the Middle East, Australia and other global markets. The company is also set to recruit an extra 100 people this year. Hofmann also gave an insight into the difficulty of making a business case for plug-in vehicles. He told Autocar that the 31kWh battery - which is sourced from LG in Korea - amounts to nearly 30% of the cost of the whole vehicle. He hinted that LEVC profit margins were ‘very tight’ at the moment due to the cost of battery technology. However, it seems that the UK government is actively working on supporting a big expansion of battery design and manufacturing in the UK. The Coronavirus outbreak has not yet affected LEVC production, but Hofmann said that supplies from China were currently only certain for two weeks. The supply of components to the TX line can be split by value: 40% UK, 30% EU and 30% Rest of the World, Hofmann said. He also cautioned the Government that the UK automotive industry desperately needed a a trade deal with the EU that was tariff-free. ‘Without that we are in trouble, it’s a big problem for all the industry. An FTA [Free Trade Agreement] with no tariffs means we will be fine’. READ MORE LEVC reveals new taxi-based range-extender delivery van LEVC boss: “We will only survive if we move away from London niche” LEVC presents TX Shuttle as electrified mobility offering View the full article
  5. SUV gets all-new platform, bold look, posh interior and a raft of new tech and hybrid options Kia has revealed new details of the next-gen Sorento ahead of the large SUV’s debut at the Geneva show next month. The fourth-generation Skoda Kodiaq rival adopts a design distinctly different to that of its predecessor or any other Kia sold in Europe. This angular styling, which apes the larger Telluride, is likely to be a reflection of its greater sales status in the US than Europe. The Sorento sits atop an all-new monocoque chassis, and its proportions have been altered with the aim of making it look longer, by way of shorter front and rear overhangs and a 35mm-longer wheelbase. All other dimensions are only around 10mm greater, although space inside – especially for middle-row passengers – is said to be significantly enhanced, thanks to improved packaging. All UK models will be seven-seaters. Kia says added benefits of the overhaul include enhanced rolling refinement and satisfying handling. The only image of the interior released so far is of a Korean-spec car, but it’s unlikely to be changed much for Europe beyond the choice of trim colours. Highlights include a Mercedes-style panel that links a larger infotainment touchscreen to a new digital instrument display, while a separate climate control panel is flanked by central air vents. Technical firsts for Kia include improved cruise control that automatically readjusts limits according to corner gradients, a self-parking function accessed via the key fob, automatic braking if the car is about to hit something while parking and a blindspot monitoring system that uses cameras mounted on the door mirrors to project images of what’s alongside the car onto the dashboard. The Sorento will be launched this autumn with a 199bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine and a hybrid powertrain comprising a 1.6-litre petrol engine, a 59bhp electric motor and a 1.5kWh battery for combined outputs of 227bhp and 258lb ft. A plug-in hybrid will follow shortly after with 261bhp overall, an 89bhp motor and a 16.6kWh battery. Buyers will have the choice of front- or four-wheel drive except with the plug-in hybrid, which will exclusively be a 4x4. READ MORE EV to Edinburgh, take two: 700 miles in a Kia e-Niro Next Kia EV will be 'super-high-performance' halo model Hyundai and Kia seal platform deal with new EV firm View the full article
  6. Flagship 911 snapped and posted on Instagram two weeks ahead of its public unveiling - standard Turbo model to also be shown What appears to be Porsche's flagship 911, the upcoming Turbo S, has leaked online in production form via a social media post. Published on the Instagram page of the Spanish website Cochespias.net, shots appear to have been taken on a phone and show the car, badged 911 Turbo S, totally undisguised in a car park. The Stuttgart brand is set to officially reveal both Turbo and Turbo S variants of the 992-generation 911 at the Geneva motor show next month. The Turbo models will retain the standard car’s 3.8-litre flat-six engine, but a pair of substantial turbochargers and additional hardware taken from Weissach’s GT2 RS flagship will boost output significantly - up to at least 620bhp in the Turbo S. The Turbo will receive the same forced-induction treatment but will produce around 50bhp less. Its expected 570bhp output represents a 30bhp increase over the outgoing 991 equivalent. It should be enough to push the Honda NSX rival from 0-62mph in less than three seconds and on to a top speed north of 200mph. Both models will be distinguished from the standard 911 by a downforce-enhancing bodywork package that includes widened rear wheel arches, a fixed rear spoiler, side air intakes and model-specific front and rear bumpers. They will likely also be available with unique wheel designs and paint scheme options. Although the 992's mixed-metal bodyshell is lighter than that of the 991, a heavier powertrain and mandatory petrol particulate filters mean the 911 Turbo is set to weigh slightly more than its predecessor overall. Porsche will confirm official pricing and specifications for the new model at its launch, but it’s likely that prices will start from around £130,000 for the Turbo coupé and rise to roughly £160,000 for the Turbo S in Cabriolet guise. Joining the 911 Turbo on Porsche’s Geneva stand will be the new six-cylinder GTS versions of the 718 Cayman and 718 Boxster. Read more Porsche 911 GT2 RS review Porsche 991 911 Turbo: the road test Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster GTS bring back six-cylinder power​ View the full article
  7. Global series plans to promote high performance of EVs over efficiency Plans have been revealed for the world’s first multi-brand all-electric touring car racing series, to be rolled out over the next three years – with an against-the-clock launch set to take place at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this summer. Pure ETCR promises to be a multi-brand series that will promote "real electric car racing" with an emphasis on high performance rather than energy-saving efficiency. The series will be created by the WSC Group run by Marcello Lotti, the founder of the TCR saloon car racing formula, and will be run by Eurosport Events, which also organises the World Touring Car Cup. Eurosport Events is part of the Discovery Group, which also has a stake in Formula E, the all-electric single-seater series. The formula will feature cars offering 65kWh of capacity from an 800-volt battery, pushing out 300kW of continuous power and 500kW of maximum power – the equivalent of around 680bhp. Batteries will be supplied by Williams Advanced Engineering, which is also a partner in Formula E. Recharging will come from hydrogen generators that will allow a 90% charge from 10% in just one hour, to ensure a quick turnaround for rapid-fire racing. The format promises to be a novel one. Teams and cars will be split into pools of four, running a series of ‘battles’ in which each driver – starting from a horse racing-style gate – will score points to qualify for A, B and C finals, with the overall winner crowned the ‘king/queen of the weekend’. Races should last for 21 minutes each, with drivers having four push-to-pass power boosts available to aid overtaking. Following the launch event at Goodwood, further promotional runs will take place at WTCR rounds, at the Copenhagen historic racing festival and an event yet to be confirmed in China in the autumn, culminating at the Daytona 24 Hours in January 2021. Then an eight-round series is planned for next year, rising to 10 events in 2022. While Jaguar has already introduced a one-make electric race series with its i-Pace eTrophy, Pure ETCR will be the first series to see multi-brand electric racing. The cars will run on single-spec Goodyear treaded all-weather tyres, which will contribute to a set of sustainability targets Pure ETCR will set in its long-term aim to be carbon neutral. “It’s the time to do this,” said Francois Ribeiro, head of Eurosport Events at a launch on Wednesday morning in Paris. “It’s no secret the way the automotive industry is moving. This is not an evolution; it’s a revolution. Change is coming and motorsport cannot ignore it. We have to follow the industry because we are part of it." Ribeiro added that Pure ETCR’s purpose is not to “save the planet” and, unlike Formula E, won’t exist to “promote technology, but instead promote product” for car makers. “Motorsport can play a role in changing perceptions,” he said. “We are a motorsport promoter, not an advertising agency.” READ MORE Hyundai launches Veloster N ETCR as first electric racer A ride in Cupra's 670bhp e-Racer electric touring car New Extreme E electric SUV racer launched at Goodwood View the full article
  8. Exclusive features of range-topping convertible include Double Diamond grille, bespoke wheels and interior Bentley has revealed the Continental GT Mulliner Convertible, described by the maker as the “luxury pinnacle” of the Continental GT family. Making its debut at Geneva motor show, the open-top model has exclusive features such as a Double Diamond front grille, a new Mulliner 22in wheel design and a bespoke Mulliner interior. Bentley said the model has been “created to appeal to those customers wanting an even greater focus on beautiful details”. The Double Diamond grille design echoes Bentley’s familiar diamond-in-diamond interior quilting, which appears on seats, door casings and, for the first time, the tonneau cover. The interior also offers eight custom-made three-colour combinations, while the central console gets a new, exclusive brushed silver Breitling timepiece. Customers of the model will receive a leather key in a Mulliner-branded hand-built box, which matches the three-colour interior of the car. The Continental GT Mulliner Convertible will be available with Bentley’s V8 or W12 powertrain, achieving 0-60mph in 4.0sec and 3.7sec respectively. Bentley is ramping up its Mulliner coachbuilding arm by launching special editions and continuation models as well as an all-new, ultra-exclusive model. The Bacalar open-top grand tourer will be revealed at Geneva, priced from £1.5 million and limited to 12 cars. READ MORE Bentley previews ultra-exclusive Bacalar Bentley Continental GT review View the full article
  9. French firm will showcase 'modular' concept that previews planned EV family Renault will unveil a new concept car called the Morphoz, which the firm says previews a planned family of electric vehicles, at this year’s Geneva motor show. The firm has also confirmed that it will unveil a new electric city car from its Dacia budget brand. Previewed by a single teaser image, the Morphoz is described as a “modular vehicle” that “adapts to the personal needs, desires and uses of each user”. Renault claims the machine will illustrate the firm’s vision of “tomorrow’s mobility”. While the Morphoz previews the future look of Renault’s electric models, its other reveals at Geneva will all reach showrooms in the coming years. The arrival of an electric Dacia within the next two years was confirmed during a recent Renault financial presentation, and the machine is expected to be based on the Chinese-market Renault City K-ZE. It is not clear yet if the Dacia EV will be offered in the UK. Renault is in the process of expanding its electric line-up beyond the long-running Zoe, and its Geneva stand will also feature a new left-hand-drive-only electric Twingo – which won’t be offered in the UK – and a plug-in hybrid Mégane estate. The firm is also set to launch an electric Kadjar-sized crossover model late this year. READ MORE New Renault Captur: UK prices and specs announced for 2020 crossover Renault details two new EVs due in 2020 New Renault Clio hybrid and Captur plug-in hybrid launched View the full article
  10. Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39 We detail all 10 new cars for the upcoming season as they're revealed – and what to look out for this year The 2020 Formula 1 season will begin on 15 March in Melbourne and the 10 teams that compete at the pinnacle of motorsport have now all revealed their new cars. Here, we round them up and tell you what to look out for from each in the coming year. Ferrari SF1000 Drivers: Sebastian Vettel (German) and Charles Leclerc (Monégasque). Car revealed: 11 Feb After yet another squandered opportunity at a first F1 championship title since 2008, the pressure must be reaching an all-time high at Ferrari. The fabled Italian scuderia's new racer is named for its 1000th F1 grand prix start, which is due to come in France at the end of June. Bright young thing Leclerc is perhaps best placed to finally put the brakes on the Mercedes/Hamilton steamroller, following a superb first season at Ferrari in which he consistently outshone four-time champion Vettel and by rights should have won more than two races. This will also be a crucial season for the German veteran, who appears past his best and is possibly in line for replacement by Hamilton next year. Haas Ferrari VF-20 Drivers: Romain Grosjean (French) and Kevin Magnussen (Danish). Car revealed: 11 Feb American outfit Haas suffered a torrid time last year, finishing a distant ninth, despite having been the 'best of the rest' in 2018. The VF-20 will have to be a whole lot better than the VF-19, which team boss Günther Steiner described as "the strangest machine I've ever worked with", as neither driver was able to generate sufficient heat in the tyres during races. Both Grosjean and Magnussen are retained, primarily due to their experience with chassis development. This might well be to the private annoyance of some other racers, given this pair's reputation for overly tough defending and a propensity for incidents, which even led to a number of clashes with one another last season. Very hard to predict, this one. Red Bull Honda RB16 Drivers: Max Verstappen (Dutch) and Alexander Albon (Thai). Car revealed: 12 Feb The second-best car last year was the Adrian Newey-penned Red Bull, particularly in the hands of Flying Dutchman Verstappen. The other car was initially filled by Gasly, but he struggled and was replaced by the promising Anglo-Thai Albon. The latter will have to step up his game a notch after being granted the drive full-time for 2020. The Honda hybrid powerplant has finally come good in the Milton Keynes cars after years of chugging around at the back of and breaking down with McLaren. Hamilton versus Leclerc versus Verstappen would be a fantastic title battle to witness if it happens. Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Power+ Drivers: Lewis Hamilton (British) and Valtteri Bottas (Finnish). Car revealed: 14 Feb Neutrals will be glad that the current era is in its final year, because it has been utterly dominated by Mercedes-AMG. Winning every team and driver championship since 2014, the squad is the most dominant in F1 history. It would be a fool who bets against yet another title for Hamilton, given how comfortably ahead the team was last season, although nothing is a given. Reports – denied by team boss Toto Wolff – suggest that Daimler may withdraw its works support rather than invest heavily in the new formula for 2021, which could make this one spectacular last hurrah for the Silver Arrows. Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39 Drivers: Kimi Räikkönen (Finnish) and Antonio Giovinazzi (Italian). Car revealed: 19 Feb The team formerly known as Sauber, now running as a works Alfa Romeo effort, will look to consolidate its strong showing from 2019 before going big on the new rules for 2021. Expect the Iceman, now 40 years old, to be as cool as ever – a podium might be within reach this season – while his young team-mate needs to do better if he's to retain his seat. Alpha Tauri Honda AT01 Drivers: Pierre Gasly (French) and Daniil Kvyat (Russian). Car revealed: 14 Feb Red Bull has changed the name of its junior F1 team – which traces its root back to 1985 as Minardi - from Toro Rosso to Alpha Tauri, after its fashion brand. It's a move likely to cause confusion with another Italian team... Toro Rosso had the best of its 14 seasons in 2019, finishing sixth in the rankings and scoring two podiums, one each for Kvyat and Gasly – a feel-good story for two drivers both dumped from the senior squad. Alpha Tauri will look to build on that unexpected success this year with the same pairing. McLaren Renault MCL35 Drivers: Lando Norris (British) and Carlos Sainz Jr. (Spanish). Car revealed: 13 Feb McLaren is at long last on an upward curve, following four highly embarassing seasons at the back of the grid. There might well be regrets about ditching Honda for Renault just as the Japanese powerplant hit form, but the chassis looked good in 2019 and the driver pairing is very strong. Sainz scored his first career podium - McLaren's first since the opening round of 2014 – at the tail end of last year and his young British team-mate looks on course to emulate that sooner rather than later. Racing Point BWT Mercedes RP20 Drivers: Sergio Pérez (Mexican) and Lance Stroll (Canadian). Car revealed: 17 Feb Racing Point – just the latest name for the team that started as Jordan – has continued to provide the best 'bang for buck' in Formula 1 since it emerged from the ashes of Force India partway through the 2018 season. Its future is now secure as an Aston Martin works effort from 2021, thanks to a new investment by billionaire owner Lawrence Stroll. His mercurial son continues alongside midfield maestro Pérez, who has long had a knack of sneaking unexpected podium finishes. Renault RS20 Drivers: Daniel Ricciardo (Australian) and Esteban Ocon (French). Car revealed: 19 Feb Since returning with a works team, Renault has invested a lot of money in F1 already but received very limited dividends. Everything is surely riding on it stealing a march when the new rules come in for 2021, so this year its target is simply "to regain confidence". The return of young Ocon to the grid after a year out is more than welcome and everyone will be hoping that Ricciardo – surely the most likeable man on the grid, as well as one of the most talented – can recapture the sparkling form that won him races at Red Bull. Williams Mercedes FW43 Drivers: Nicholas Latifi (Canadian) and George Russell (British). Car revealed: 17 Feb Oh, what to do with Williams? For decades among the strongest forces in the sport, the small British team once again found itself miles off the pace last year, despite using arguably the best powerplant. The best hope for 2020 will probably be just a first points finish for Russell, while the heroic but ultimately underwhelming return of Robert Kubica lasted just one year. In steps 24-year-old Latifi, who was (a distant) runner-up in Formula 2 last season and brings a considerable sponsorship package. View the full article
  11. Range-topping diesel 3 Series will produce 335bhp and feature a host of performance upgrades BMW has confirmed it will unveil a hot 335bhp M340d xDrive version of the seventh-generation 3 Series at this year’s Geneva motor show. The new variant of the popular executive car will be offered in both the saloon and Touring estate forms and will benefit from the input of the firm’s M performance division. The M340d will use a 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel engine with a 48V starter-generator that can add an extra 11bhp. As well as offering 335bhp, the mild-hybrid powertrain produces a maximum of 516lb ft of torque. This compares to the 369bhp and 369lb ft of the six-cylinder petrol M340i. BMW says the M340d can achieve a 0-62mph time of 4.6sec in saloon form and 4.8sec as an estate. Power is delivered to all four wheels as needed through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The 340d will also offer specially tuned M Sport suspension, brakes and differential as standard, along with a number of exterior design tweaks to aid aerodynamics. The mild-hybrid technology also allows for engine-off coasting, and BMW says it allows the diesel powertrain to operate in its most efficient load range as much as possible, boosting fuel consumption and efficiency. The model is claimed to achieve between 49 and 53mpg, with CO2 emissions ranging from 139-149g/km for the saloon and 143-153g/km for the estate. The new range-topping diesel model is part of an expanding 3 Series range that BMW will showcase at Geneva, including a new four-wheel-drive 330e Touring. READ MORE BMW launches four-wheel-drive 330e Touring Geneva motor show 2020: full list of cars confirmed so far BMW 3 Series M340i xDrive 2020 review View the full article
  12. New upgrade package includes power and torque boost for latest version of hot hatch Ford tuning specialist Mountune has developed its most powerful tuning upgrade yet for the Fiesta ST, raising the output of the hot hatch to 232bhp. The firm’s new m235 kit, which costs £575 including VAT, offers an extra 10bhp from the previous M225 upgrade and gives the 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine an extra 35bhp from unmodified versions. It also boosts the Fiesta’s peak torque to 258lb ft, compared with the official 214lb ft of the standard version. Alec Pell-Johnson, Mountune’s performance chief, claimed the kit “delivers both significant performance and driver enjoyment”. As well as upgrading the output of the Fiesta ST engine, the modifications include developments to boost usability and performance, while ensuring the car retains the feel of an official manufacturer model. No-limit shift optimisation is included as part of the kit calibration, which combines with the firm’s established enhanced exhaust overrun function. The m235 kit includes an extended durability cycle that monitors cylinder pressures when additional ignition is used, providing a "significant and usable" increase in power and torque throughout the rev range. The upgrade has been subjected to what Mountune calls a “rigorous testing and development process”. Customers will be able to use Mountune’s Smartflash app to install and control the calibration, allowing them to make changes to the performance of their vehicle as required. The m235 upgrade includes three calibrations, including a Performance setting with more aggressive launch control and enhances exhaust noise, and an Anti-Theft setting that fully immobilises the car. READ MORE Autocar's top ten hot hatchbacks 2020 Mountune adds Ford Focus RS tuning kit Ford Fiesta ST: Autocar road test Mountune launches new brand for VW car upgrades View the full article
  13. Styling for Munich's hot two-door will remain true to 2019's bold Concept 4 Series The new BMW M4, tipped for arrival later this year, will bear a close resemblance to the radically styled Concept 4 Series revealed at the 2019 Frankfurt motor show. New images of the coupé variant undergoing winter testing show that the Audi RS5 rival will gain a much more prominent front grille than its predecessor, and it looks to be vertically orientated, as was the case with the concept. BMW claims the new grille design, which is expected to make its production debut on the M4, is inspired by that of the iconic 328 sports car from the 1930s. The new generation of Munich's hardcore sports coupé can also be seen to sport more athletic body proportions, with bulky rear wheel arches that afford a more muscular stance, and a swooping rear deck like that of the brand's flagship M8. Differences between this and the standard 2020 4 Series are familiar, with the return of bigger intakes and quad exhaust tailpipes. We already know that the new BMW M3 and M4 will receive a significantly upgraded six-cylinder engine producing 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 below), the first time the four-door coupé has featured a full-fat M variant. The coupé and convertible will also return 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 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 X3 M and X4 M SUVs. 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 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 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 that is likely to appear in a successor to today’s 453bhp M4 CS. Secrecy surrounds the rest of the M4’s mechanical make-up. However, insiders suggest it is in line to abandon tradition by adopting a conventional eight-speed automatic gearbox 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 BMW plots major expansion of M performance range View the full article
  14. Development of WEC racing version of the Valkyrie hypercar "postponed" as Aston reconsiders prototype class entry Aston Martin has announced its withdrawal from the World Endurance Championship’s new hypercar class, in which it had planned to enter a racing version of the 1160bhp Valkyrie. In an official statement, the brand said it will now "pause" as it "considers whether to continue in any future prototype class". Development of a track-only Valkyrie has been cancelled as a result. The company cited uncertainty over the recent Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and International Motor Sport Association (IMSA) decision to combine the hypercar class with the World Endurance Championship's upcoming LMDh prototype category from 2021 and the American WeatherTech Sportscar Championship from 2022. "We entered the Valkyrie in the WEC and at Le Mans with the understanding that we would be competing with similar machinery and like-minded manufacturers," said Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer. "The situation has changed and it makes sense for us to pause and reconsider our options." In response, the FIA Endurance Commission and WEC called the decision "very regrettable but perhaps not unexpected", citing "persistent rumours over the last six months concerning the fragility of the brand’s exposure" and a decision to enter Formula 1 in 2021 as possible reasons for the exit. The Valkyrie racer was being readied as a competitor to the Toyota GR Super Sport, a new Peugeot hypercar and potentially entrants from Lamborghini and Porsche in the new top-rung endurance category, which replaces the LMP1 class. Aston’s exit from the hypercar category leaves reigning Le Mans champion Toyota as the sole manufacturer to have confirmed its entry for the 2020-2021 season. Peugeot has announced an intention to race in 2022, while American manufacturer Glickenhaus plans to compete with its new SCG007 racer from 2021 onwards. It remains to be seen if the FIA racing body, which oversees the World Endurance Championship, will reconsider the launch date for the new class. The racing Valkyrie’s cancellation comes amid a significant shake-up at Aston Martin. Last month, Lawrence Stroll, owner of the Racing Point Formula 1 team, took a 16.7% stake in the sports car manufacturer for £182 million, prompting the firm to radically overhaul its future product plan. Billionaire Stroll takes major stake in Aston Martin In the wake of the investment, Aston reaffirmed its commitment to launching the road-going Valkyrie this year and released images and video of prototypes being tested by F1 drivers Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon. Customer deliveries are still due to begin in the later half of 2020. The Valkyrie is the result of a joint venture between Aston Martin and Red Bull Advanced Technologies, which will be maintained “until Aston Martin Valkyrie is delivered”. It is unclear if the withdrawal from the WEC is linked to Stroll’s investment. Aston Martin will continue racing in other endurance categories with its Vantage GTE. Read more Aston Martin Valkyrie: F1 drivers test V12 hypercar prototypes​ Toyota Gazoo Racing tests Super Sport hypercar ahead of Le Mans debut Peugeot to make Le Mans return with new hypercar​ View the full article
  15. Yesterday
  16. The diesel-powered version of the 2 Series Gran Coupé tries – and ultimately fails – to hide the fact that it's front-wheel drive. But for the target audience, we suspect it won't be an issue It's not long since the idea of a front-wheel-drive BMW would have been regarded as heresy, not least within the company itself. But now the lower reaches of the family are rapidly filling out with models that pull rather than push.The 2 Series Gran Coupé follows on from the X1, X2 and 1 Series hatchback, sitting on the same FAAR natively front-wheel drive platform and powered by a range of transversely mounted four-cylinder engines, with the 220d set to be the sole diesel offering at launch.It slots in beneath the 3 Series as BMW's baby saloon for Europe, with a coupé-inspired rear end, four doors and more leg room than the 2 Series coupé, which stays on a rear-wheel drive platform.While the range-topping M235i delivers its 302hp through a part-time four-wheel drive system, the 220d and entry-level 218i will be front drive only. The 220d's engine is a transverse version of the twin-turbo engine that we've already seen in the 320d and 520d, making 187bhp and 295lb ft of torque. Here, it's able to manage 0-62mph in 7.6sec via an eight-speed automatic - the diesel's only gearbox option.View the full article
  17. The range-topping version of the 2 Series Gran Coupe has a transverse four-cylinder engine and part-time all-wheel drive. Behind strange looks is a well-engineered car, but a confusing one. There's an M badge on the back and a suitably weighty number next to it, but the M235i Gran Coupe is not what could be termed a traditionalist's choice.Like the M135i it has been switched to BMW's FAAR natively front-driven architecture with power coming from a four-cylinder engine in place of the sonorous straight-six that still propels the M240i Coupe. Which means lifting the bonnet produces the incongruous sight of a short engine sitting across the bay and mounted entirely ahead of the front axle line. It's a detail that will offend some, possibly to the point of rage, but it would be unfair to turn this first review into an ethical inquisition into the company's bold new direction. Mercedes has been making AMG versions of the similar-deal CLA saloon-coupe since 2013, with the recently launched CLA 35 being the M235i's most obvious competitor. Both make slightly over 300hp from heavily boosted 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbos, and send drive to all four corners through part-time all-wheel drive systems. On-paper performance is identical, both manufacturers claiming 4.9-second 0-62mph time and electronically limited 155mph top speeds. But given our recent disappointment with the way the CLA 35 drives, there does seem to be a poorly defended goal here.While the M135i is effectively replacing a rear-driven model, the Gran Coupe is entering a new bit of the market - one that BMW executives admit the constraints inherent in packaging an in-line engine and gearbox meant it couldn't consider building on the old platform. Like most coupe-saloons the four-door 2-Series has been designed to appeal more to Asian and American buyers than Europeans, a reality reflected in a slightly softer chassis tune than the M135i. While styling is an especially subjective subject in this part of the market, it's fair to say that the Gran Coupe's design struggles to deliver grandeur with the car's compact dimensions. The 2670mm wheelbase is identical to the 1-Series, as is the jowly front overhang, with the 207mm increase in length almost entirely in the boot. The result is a car that doesn't look quite long enough in the middle, something exacerbated by the heavily raked roofline. The rear lights also seem to have been designed for a considerably larger vehicle.The interior is better. The Gran Coupe shares the 1-Series's dashboard and most of its cabin architecture and materials feel suitably plush for the segment, with lots of switchgear and componentry familiar from higher up in the range. An 8.8-inch touchscreen is standard as is comprehensive talk-to-anything connectivity. The M235i gets semi-bucket seats, alcantara trim and the Live Cockpit digital instrument pack as standard. Front seat and steering wheel adjustment is generous, and although the rear is short on headroom thanks to the low roof space is sufficient for kids and squashier adults; it’s fair to say nobody shopping in this dinky segment is likely to be expecting more. The 430-litre boot is also respectably big, although access through the tailgate hatch is a little tight. View the full article
  18. Plug-in hybrid 3 Series is available in estate form for the first time; 330e can now be specified with xDrive BMW has expanded its 3 Series line-up with the addition of a Touring estate version of the plug-in hybrid 330e – a first for the model. Available to order from summer, the 330e Touring makes use of the same petrol-electric powertrain as the saloon variant, which pairs a 181bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with an electric motor integrated into the gearbox. The motor produces 67bhp in normal running mode and 111bhp in Sport mode for bursts of up to 10sec, giving the 330e peak combined outputs of 289bhp and 310lb ft. BMW claims this is enough to push the Touring from 0-62mph in 6.1sec – just 0.1sec slower than the saloon – and on to a top speed of 136mph. Both versions of the 330e can now be had with four-wheel drive as an alternative to the regular rear-wheel drive. The xDrive models can determine how much power to send to each axle depending on the driving situation. The option reduces the saloon’s 0-62mph time by 0.3sec and the estate’s by 0.1sec while ensuring “maximum traction and driving stability in all road and weather conditions”. Like the 330e saloon, the 330e Touring can run on electric power alone at speeds of up to 68mph in hybrid mode or at speeds of up to 87mph when eDrive mode is activated. Its 12kWh lithium ion battery offers an official electric-only range of 34 miles, which is on a par with what the rival Volkswagen Passat GTE can achieve. The 330e Touring is officially capable of 176-201mpg – although a figure nearer 50mpg can be expected from real-world use – and CO2 emissions of 32-37g/km. BMW claims a charging time from empty of 3.4 hours from a 7.4kW charger. Regenerative braking is included, sending charge to the battery under deceleration. BMW claims the battery, mounted under the boot floor, only marginally diminishes boot space, with the 330e Touring offering 1420 litres of space with the rear seats folded. Standard equipment on the 330e Touring includes pre-conditioning functionality, parking assistance, voice control, sat-nav and smartphone compatibility. An optional M Sport package brings adaptive sports suspension, variable steering settings and uprated brakes. Prices for the 330e Touring and new xDrive models are yet to be confirmed, but they're likely to command a premium over the current, rear-wheel-drive 330e saloon, which is available from £37,885. Read more BMW 3 Series 330e review​ BMW 3 Series Touring M340i xDrive 2020 review BMW introduces new mild hybrids in line-up reshuffle​ View the full article
  19. Supermini represents the beginning of a new era for Hyundai The all-new i20, revealed ahead of its public debut at next month’s Geneva motor show, represents the start of a “revolutionary and ambitious” new design language for Hyundai. The third-generation Vauxhall Corsa rival is set to go on sale in May and introduces what Hyundai describes as a theme of “sensuous sportiness” that will be applied across the rest of its line-up in due course. The latest i10 city car features a watered-down version of the i20’s angular look, while the facelifted i30 and new Tucson SUV for 2021 will adopt a similar design approach. Further to the adoption of distinctive creases and other styling details new to Hyundai, the latest i20 is proportionally different from its predecessor, being 30mm wider, 5mm longer and 24mm lower. Its wheelbase has been lengthened by 10mm to increase passenger space, too, while the boot is now slightly bigger, at 351 litres. Ten paint colours across a broad spectrum are available, as is the option of a two-tone scheme by way of a black roof. Although the interior of the new car has yet to be shown, Hyundai has published a detailed sketch that reveals a significant redesign. It has a sculptured look that continues from the front doors across the dashboard, itself dominated by an infotainment touchscreen (10.25in or 8.0in on lower trim levels) mounted at eyeline height. This sits next to a 10.25in digital instrument display and above an air vent panel whose horizontal ‘blades’ extend across the fascia. Ambient LED lighting is also present. Best-in-class connectivity is claimed for the supermini, with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto introduced to the sector for the first time and Hyundai’s Blue Link system offering a variety of services including a no-cost five-year subscription for TomTom-supplied live traffic data. Wireless phone charging also features, while the i20 is the first European Hyundai to offer a seven-speaker Bose premium sound system. Highlights among the huge provision of new safety kit include sat-nav-based adaptive cruise control, which can anticipate corners or straight stretches and lower or raise your speed appropriately, an intelligent speed limiter and lane-following assistance, a system that keeps the car centred within its lane. Other new features include parking collision avoidance, forward collision warning with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blindspot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic alert and even a system that warns you if the car in front has moved off and you haven’t. Despite adding all this new tech, Hyundai claims a 4% weight reduction over today’s i20. In theory, that should lead to improved performance and efficiency for the petrol-only engine range. This is topped by a 118bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged triple with a 48V mild-hybrid system – itself responsible for a 3-4% efficiency boost, according to Hyundai. Although efficiency figures aren’t yet official, we know it can do 0-62mph in 10.2sec with the six-speed manual gearbox or one-tenth slower with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. A 99bhp version of the same unit is offered with the same gearboxes. It’s likely the UK will get only the mild-hybrid version of this, too. The entry-level motor is a naturally aspirated 1.2-litre four-cylinder that puts 84bhp through a five-speed manual gearbox to complete the 0-62mph sprint in 13.1sec. Hyundai hasn’t revealed UK pricing, but expect an entry point of just over £15,000 and to pay more than £20,000 for the highest-spec variants. READ MORE New 2020 Hyundai i20 confirmed for unveiling in March Hyundai i20 N hot hatch tests at the Nürburgring New Hyundai i30 facelift teased ahead of Geneva reveal View the full article
  20. Porsche Cayenne Coupé rival gains mild-hybrid technology for reduced emissions and quicker acceleration Mercedes-AMG has unveiled the Coupé version of its new GLE 63, which utilises a mild-hybrid powertrain for enhanced efficiency and acceleration. Aside from the sharply styled roofline, the sports SUV is virtually identical to the GLE 63 that came out last November, pairing AMG’s 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V8 with a 48V starter-alternator. The mild-hybrid tech supplies an extra 22bhp and 184lb ft when required. The GLE 63 Coupé will be offered in 563bhp regular and 603bhp S forms. However, as with the standard GLE, only the S will be offered in the UK. British buyers will therefore be able to experience a 0-62mph time of 3.8sec and a top speed of 174mph – both identical to the regular SUV version. The Coupé also gets the same nine-speed automatic gearbox, 4Matic+ four-wheel drive, active air suspension, active roll stabilisation and six driving modes. A seventh, Race, is exclusive to the S. Official WLTP fuel economy is 24.5mpg, with corresponding CO2 emissions from 262g/km. AMG has given the GLE 63 Coupé a redesign in line with its square-rigged sibling, including a bespoke grille and a restyled front end with a large splitter and black air intakes. It’s marked out from the standard GLE Coupé by its chrome-finished ‘Panamerica’ grille and raised ‘powerdomes’ in the bonnet. The UK-bound S variant sits on 22in alloy wheels as standard. At the rear, the 63 gains a black performance-style rear diffuser, which houses a bespoke AMG twin-exit exhaust system. An optional Night Package turns the exhaust tips black, along with the side skirts, front splitter, mirror caps and window frames. Inside, the interior is visually identical to that of the regular GLE 63, with Nappa leather seats, a sports steering wheel, carbon-effect trim elements and AMG badging throughout. The S variant gains grey seatbelts and contrasting silver seat stitching, with adjustable ambient lighting equipped as standard. Pricing has yet to be disclosed but, as with the smaller GLC and GLC Coupé SUVs, expect Mercedes to charge a small premium over the standard GLE. UK order books will open in the spring. Read more New Mercedes-AMG GLE 63: V8 super-SUV gains hybrid tech​ Mercedes-AMG GT 4-door Coupe review Mercedes downplays 75% AMG range restriction claims​ View the full article
  21. Fully self-driving pods are in advanced development stages; will be trialled in Coventry next year Jaguar Land Rover has shocked the world of future motoring by unveiling an entirely new, fully engineered electric car platform that's capable of supporting a wide variety of autonomous, shared and private vehicle configurations. Work on the project, which is entirely separate from JLR’s current or near-future production car range, is already so far advanced that a multi-use autonomy-ready vehicle, claimed to offer unparalleled interior space and flexibility, will begin road trials in Coventry late next year. City and West Midlands authorities have already agreed to cooperate, viewing the project as “a living laboratory for future mobility”. Called Project Vector, the vehicle’s all-new “skateboard” platform was launched earlier today at Warwick University’s National Automotive Innovation Centre (NAIC) by JLR CEO Sir Ralf Speth, who revealed that it had been in secret development there for several years. He cited Vector as the latest and biggest move yet towards “Destination Zero”, JLR’s ambition to achieve a future of zero emissions, zero accidents and zero congestion. “Jaguar Land Rover understands the trends shaping modern societies,” said Speth. “Through this project we are collaborating with the brightest minds in academia, our supply chain and digital services to create connected, integrated mobility systems, the fundamental building blocks for Destination Zero. Vector is precisely the brave and innovative leap forward needed to deliver on our mission.” The vehicle being readied for the Coventry trials is just four metres long and designed for life in the city, with its battery and drivetrain components packed into a flat floor, allowing maximum design flexibility for the body above. The experimental car’s cabin space allows seating configurations for private or shared use, or for commercial use, such as last-mile deliveries. Project Vector is being developed at NAIC, Speth explained, to give it the advantages of a start-up project, in particular agility and easy collaboration with academic and outside partners. The project’s director is Dr Tim Leverton, an eminent engineer and researcher who was previously chief engineer at Tata Motors and has worked on projects as diverse as the JCB Dieselmax record car and BMW’s original Rolls-Royce Phantom. The project has been financed by Jaguar Land Rover, but has been structured as a start-up company which plans to seek outside investment. “The megatrends of urbanisation make connected urban mobility systems necessary and inevitable,” said Leverton. “Shared and private vehicles will share spaces with and be connected to public transit networks, so you can travel on-demand and autonomously. Future urban travel will be a composite of owned and shared vehicles, as well as public transport. Our vision shows the vehicle as a flexible part of the urban mobility network that can be adapted for different purposes.” READ MORE The future of Jaguar Land Rover, according to CEO Ralf Speth Aston boss: cost of autonomy will force mass car firm mergers Bosch says it could launch an autonomous car tomorrow View the full article
  22. Seat's version of the Volkswagen ID 3 electric hatchback spotted in updated prototype form, with styling more in line with the Geneva show concept The Seat El-Born has been pictured undergoing testing, revealing more of the brand's first electric vehicle ahead of its official launch. The model, named after a fashionable Barcelona neighbourhood, has been updated from prior spy shots with less disguise and a redesigned rear bumper, which more closely matches the dimensions and details seen on the original Geneva motor show concept (below). It also appears to gain separate rear light clusters, in place of the full-width strip seen on earlier prototypes, and aerodynamic alloy wheels. Autocar was told last year that the Geneva concept was 95% production ready, with only a few minor changes coming ahead of production, and that appears to be the case. The El-Born will be the second EV built on the VW Group’s MEB electric architecture to go on sale when it is launched this year, after the Volkswagen ID 3 hatchback. The engineering and powertrain of the two compact models are expected to be closely aligned, with a range of power outputs offered. The El-Born concept featured a 62kWh battery mounted in the skateboard chassis, with an electric motor making 201bhp. Seat claims it will achieve 0-62mph in 7.5sec. It will be compatible with 100kW DC rapid charging, allowing the battery to be filled from empty to 80% in 47 minutes. The total range is quoted at 261 miles for this concept. It will also feature a thermal management system to maximise range in hot weather. The El-Born features a similar hatchback profile to the ID 3 and styling that showcases what Seat design chief Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos calls “the ultimate translation of our emotional design language into the new world of electrical vehicles”. He added that “we have to make customers fall in love with the idea” of an EV. The design features several streamlined areas to boost aerodynamic efficiency, including the Seat logo positioned flush on the front bodywork of the car, above small intakes that provide cooling air to the battery pack. The A-pillars of the car have been pushed forward to maximise internal space, with the sharp side lines creating an air curtain. The rear of the concept featured an LED light strip across the full width of the tailgate, with a double-layer spoiler contributing to the car's aerodynamic efficiency. The interior features a digital instrument display and a 10.0in infotainment touchscreen in a dashboard design that, Seat says, is driver-oriented. Seat also says the El-Born will feature "state-of-the-art" driver assistance systems capable of level two autonomy, meaning it can control steering, acceleration and deceleration. A large central bag compartment is located where the transmission tunnel would sit in a regular combustion-engined car. The El-Born will be built alongside the ID 3 at Volkswagen’s plant in Zwickau, Germany. The first bespoke electric car from Skoda, Seat's VW Group sibling, will be based on the Vision E concept and also use the MEB platform and similar underpinnings. Read more Volkswagen ID: vital EV revealed with up to 341-mile range Cupra Tavascan: emotive electric SUV shown at Frankfurt First drive: 2020 Skoda Vision iV prototype View the full article
  23. Last week
  24. After Polestar’s limited-run, debutant 1 comes, logically, the 2 – its mass-market, make or break EV. We drive a pre-production car Hällered proving ground sits an hour’s drive east of Gothenburg and seems an exemplary place to experience a Polestar 2 for the very first time. Sets of quiet, remote test tracks wind among the forest and chime with the car’s environmental brief. Unlike the plug-in hybrid Polestar 1, the 2 is entirely electric, with a WLTP range of 311 miles and nothing less than the Tesla Model 3 in its sights. This place also has space enough to properly exploit the performance on offer. Which is lucky because, with a dedicated electric motor for each axle, the 2 makes 487lb ft – more even than the Nissan GT-R – and does so almost instantly. But Hällered also feels an odd place to become better acquainted with the 2, which at £49,900 will cut the cost of entry to the Polestar owners club by almost two-thirds and will exist as a big-volume model next to the hand-built, 1500-off £139,000 Polestar 1 grand tourer. These smaller cars will be assembled in the Luqiao facility of Polestar parent company Geely in China and the battery modules are from LG Chem in South Korea. Siemens in Germany builds the motors and the brand recently opened a 120-strong R&D facility in Coventry. It’s an amazingly global product whose muscularly attractive design will ensure that it draws eyeballs and graces the streets in fashionable places around the world. Yet here we are, standing in the Swedish bush. But this is where the magic happens. “The first thing the driver gets from the chassis is how the steering feels,” says Joakim Rydholm, the lead chassis engineer and someone not only with a clear mission sense but also softly voiced but nevertheless Italianate levels of passion. “Then the rest of the suspension should work in harmony with the steering,” he says, revealing that the chassis is set up for slight oversteer. He says the manually adjustable Ohlins dampers alone were iterated through 120 different tunes, with removal and hardware changes required each time: “There are no shortcuts: it’s hard work behind the steering wheel to get a good car. The human is sensitive and you cannot calculate that.” All of which should be music to our ears because, as always, it comes down to priorities. Polestar will not operate dealerships but chic ‘spaces’; the cars can be ordered online only; it will make a splash among the general public, with cutting-edge looks and zero-emission powertrains; and it is a subsidiary of a marque that recently announced an intention to limit its cars to 112mph and, bluntly, has never given us a world-class driver’s car. It would have been so very easy for driver appeal to descend so far down the 2 to-do list as to become irrelevant, but that has not at all been the case. No point beating around the bush: the Polestar 2 is good to drive. It may never set your synapses on fire but the natural steering response is well matched to what the suspension is doing, and on Hällered’s quick, flowing handling course, the Ohlins dampers – hydraulically textured in their movements – only ever need one bite of the cherry to get the body under control. Given the powertrain layout, it is no surprise that the car’s balance is good and one can’t fail to notice how high the limits of grip are compared with, say, an XC40. It can be teased into neatly rotating on the brakes, but snow and ice are required to get the car expressing itself under power. On the more challenging rough-road tracks (there are surfaces resembling LA freeways and Perthshire B-roads), the ride is on the firm side but remains genuinely compliant. Gut feel says this car ought to cope well with UK surfaces, although the softer setup of non-Performance Pack versions might be best for daily driving. We know the 2 sits on the same CMA platform as the XC40, but it also features a unique front subframe for crash protection (combustion engines being more absorbent than electric motors), has modifications at the rear and supports a battery whose shape leaves good rear footwell space, which is rare in an electric car. In fact, barring the small boot and poor rearward visibility, the 2’s cabin is superbly conceived. Where the Model 3 goes for an expansive, minimalist ambience, this is more classically enveloping. The window line is high and the glasshouse vaguely pillbox, and the standard panoramic roof is a game-changer because, without it, the high ‘transmission’ tunnel, abrupt 11.0in display and blade-shaped dashboard might have made the place feel too confined. As it is, the cockpit feels safe, secure and involving, and even in this early-stage verification prototype, the fabric and wood trims hit high notes for perceived quality. Soft but supportive seats – a modern Volvo speciality – complete the surprisingly lavish picture. Back with the not-so-oily bits, Olle Fast (powertrain expert, naturally) explains that the torque split is variable between 60:40 and 40:60 and Rydholm adds that steering angle is used to inform the split and help the car rotate. Drive smoothly and it looks for grip; get punchy and it will begin to favour the rear. Fast also says that for more power, they’d need a better-flowing battery rather than stronger motors, although so rapid is the pace of development that improvements are being made “more or less on a daily basis”. For now, it’s 402bhp whether or not you go for the Performance Pack, which brings 20in wheels with Continental SportContact 6 tyres, the Ohlins dampers and gold-calipered Brembo brakes. For an electric mass-market family car, the Performance Pack is overkill. And, in truth, so is the surging performance of the 2. But there’s appeal in the way this machine concurrently feels both highly rational and slightly illogical, and at a time when so many automotive pleasures come with guilt attached, that’s exciting. That the people behind this electric car are what we might still describe as ‘petrolheads’ is even more so. Polestar 2 specifications Price £49,900 Motor Two, AC synchronous, permanent magnet Power 402bhp (total output) Torque 487lb ft (total output) Gearbox 1-spd (dual) Kerb weight 2020kg (approx) Top speed 140mph (est) 0-62mph 4.7sec Range 311 miles (WLTP) Battery 78kWh, lithium ion READ MORE New Polestar 2: 402bhp EV to cost £49,900 Polestar 1 review Polestar 2 gets handling-focused Performance package View the full article
  25. Its road manners feel better the more you drive it Triumph’s V8-powered 2+2 classic makes a fun GT. We tell you the best way to bag one Michelotti styling: tick. James Bond cameo: tick. Things were looking up for Triumph’s four-seat convertible when it was launched in 1970. And then rumours began to circulate about its bespoke but unreliable 3.0-litre V8 engine. Cooling problems, an under-sized water pump located in the wrong place, head gasket and timing chain failures, warped cylinder heads, internal casting sand deposits… Just a few of the issues that plagued it then, to which, today, you can add rust – lots of it. That so many survive (around 8000 in the UK) is testament to the Stag’s enduring appeal. Triumph from adversity you might say, if you enjoy a bad pun. What’s to like? Those looks, for a start, and that bellowy V8. It’s a genuinely roomy car and practical, too. There’s a supportive owners’ club and an active spares and repairs scene. To cap it all, it’s the Stag’s 50th anniversary this year so expect to encounter convoys of the things in the summer, perhaps on their way to the Stag Owners Club’s main birthday event at the Silverstone Classic on 2 August. So the Stag is very much alive and kicking and more so because many of the better cars – prices for these start at around £10,000 – have been overhauled and fitted with modern parts. Their owners are enthusiasts who know how to care for them, too. At its simplest, this means they use the correct coolant with anticorrosion inhibitor, whereas when the car was launched, owners and even garages didn’t know to. As a result, the alloy head and iron block didn’t rub along too well and before long the radiator started to fill with gunk, causing the engine to overheat and the head gasket to go south. For these and other reasons, you’ll find a few Stags have had their original 3.0-litre V8 replaced with a Triumph 2.5, Rover V8 (it’s too heavy and spoils the car’s balance) or Ford V6. You’re better off finding one with the real thing but properly refurbished and fitted with an electric cooling fan and electronic ignition. The 3.0-litre V8 produces 145bhp and 170lb ft of torque. It was fitted as standard with a four-speed manual gearbox with overdrive. Today, this is the most sought-after variant. A three-speed BorgWarner auto was optional but may at some time have been swapped for a better four-speed ZF unit. Suspension was independent all round, brakes and steering were servo assisted, the windows were electrically powered and it had a rollover hoop (for stiffening purposes more than anything). So the Stag was technically advanced, as it had to be if it was going to compete with cars such as the Mercedes-Benz SL. A Mk2 version was launched in 1973 with a few visual tweaks that needn’t detain us here and a higher engine compression. Sales picked up but soon fell back and the plug was pulled in 1977. No matter: today, a well-sorted Stag is a seductive classic that will put a smile, rather than a frown, on your face. An expert’s view Kevin Fathers, founder, Faversham Classics: “A good Stag can hold its own in modern traffic, plus it’ll seat four comfortably and carry their luggage. The exhaust note is like no other. Cynics say it distracts you from the car’s poor performance but the Stag is a GT that will happily cruise all day at the legal maximum. Prices have been rising in recent years so that decent ones start at £10,000. The Stag has a reputation for unreliability that dates from when it was new but today many have been fitted with more reliable parts. For example, modern head gaskets are made from much better materials and don’t give any trouble.” Buyer beware… ■ Body: Check for rust on the sills, wheel arches, door bottoms, bootlid edges and boot floor. In fact, the whole car. ■ Engine: If the engine has been overhauled or replaced, check who did it. Assuming it’s the original Triumph unit, while it’s cold check there’s coolant at the top of the radiator. Now start the engine. If it hasn’t been fired up for some time, the starter motor solenoid or fuel pump can play up. Listen for the timing chains rattling before the hydraulic tensioner takes up the slack. It needs new chains every 30,000 miles. Check the whole radiator is warming up. On the test drive, watch the temperature and oil pressure. On return, look for oil leaks and ensure the fan works. ■ Transmission: Make sure overdrive works on third and fourth gears. The clutch may feel heavy (it can be corrected) and second-gear synchro can wear. ■ Suspension: See if the driveshafts have been upgraded to prevent the locking problem that causes the car to lurch in corners when you lift off. If you can shake the wheels when braked, suspect failing bushes. ■ Electrics: Okay but can suffer from a bad earth, often traced to a rear bulb holder. ■ Hood: Fragile. Ham-fisted use bends the frame. ■ Interior: If the seat foam looks like a mouse has eaten it, it needs replacing. Check the condition of the dashboard veneer. Also worth knowing The Stag Owners Club is a good place to begin your relationship with the model. Stag history, cars for sale, parts suppliers and workshops – it’s all here. There’s even an owners tooling fund to ensure parts can still be produced. How much to spend Up to £5999: Project cars and some runners, such as a 1972 car with Triumph 2.5 for £3995. £6000-£8999: More converted cars, such as a £6995 1971-reg with Ford engine and gearbox. £9000-£11,999: Good choice of tidy ‘plug ’n’ play’ Stags at this money, many with the 3.0 V8. £12,000-£14,999: Cars with no-expense-spared maintenance and refurb histories. £15,000-£19,995: Choice includes an immaculate 1977-reg with rebuilt V8 for £18,000. One we found Triumph Stag Mk2 3.0, 1973-reg, 48,000 miles, £12,000: “Whoever buys this car will not be disappointed,” claims the private seller. It certainly sounds good: no rust, unmarked interior, smooth gearbox, original V8 in “excellent” condition, full rear seatbelts. Too good to be true? Read more Our favourite video of 2019: Ariel Nomad vs Triumph Scrambler​ Used car buying guide: MG Midget​ Silverstone start-up Lunaz to electrify British classic cars​ View the full article
  26. New immersive audio tech makes cars lighter and sounds better Most premium car makers have used some sort of active sound technology to get rid of unwanted resonance, either by sending noise-cancelling signals through speakers or by using active engine mounts to quell vibrations – especially on models using cylinder deactivation technology. At the Consumer Electronics Show, Continental AG showed off a Speakerless Immersive Sound system it has developed in collaboration with premium sound specialist Sennheiser. While not a sound cancellation system, ‘Ac2ated’, as it’s called, takes an unusual approach to broadcasting audio sound inside the cabin of a car. Instead of conventional speakers, the system turns the car’s internal trim panels into speaker surfaces. Continental likens the tech to the way the wooden body of a musical string instrument, such as a violin or cello, acts as a resonance chamber to project sound as it’s played. In this case, selected surface areas within the car vibrate like the diaphragm of a speaker in order to produce the sound. Small actuators, attached to the back of the panels and out of sight, excite the surfaces exposed to the cabin to generate the sound. The frequency ranges usually handled by specific sizes and types of speaker are produced by vibrating different-sized surfaces, such as the A-pillar trim, door trim, roof lining and rear parcel shelf. Sennheiser’s Ambeo 3D audio technology, which produces immersive sound, has been integrated with the Ac2ated technology. On a strictly practical level, using activated surfaces saves space and weight. Continental says a conventional audio system can weigh as much as 40kg, but by using existing surfaces it can reduce that by between 75% and 90%. Weight reduction in cars is crucial in order to reduce fuel consumption or increase the range of an EV, and it comes at a cost. Aluminium, carbonfibre, magnesium and lightweight steels all cost more. Being able to slice over 30kg from one of the features most customers want and ending up with a more desirable product at the same time is a win-win for manufacturers. Perhaps even more radical is Harman’s Individual Sound Zones (ISZ) system, which allows each occupant of the car to listen to their own audio without wearing headphones. Two small micro-speakers, mounted in each headrest, interact with sound waves from standard audio speakers to modify what each person hears. As well as that, Electro Dynamic Planar Loudspeakers (EDPL), one in the headlining above each passenger, project directional sound downwards, like a spotlight, so only the individual can hear it. The system lets occupants listen to their own audio without hearing the others, and only the driver has to listen to driving-related commands, such as navigation instructions or other alerts from the car. The system also enables passengers to take a phone call and patch it through to someone else in the car. Even if two people are listening to the same audio channel, they can set the volume individually and even turn it right down if they want. ISZ: A long gestation Harman’s ISZ has its roots back in 2000 when Mercedes co-developed its ‘Audio Spotlight’ concept. Speakers made up of ultrasonic transducers, a bit like parking sensors, were mounted in the headlining and projected a beam of sound to the person below. The high frequency would be naturally modified by the surrounding air to an audible frequency. A demo system worked convincingly well. READ MORE Over-the-air audio tuning coming to car stereos From the archive: The arrival of the compact disc player Analysis: Why everyone could have to pay for Apple CarPlay in future View the full article
  27. New Sorento takes cues from larger Telluride SUV gets bold look, posh interior, raft of new tech and hybrid options Kia has revealed its new Sorento ahead of the large SUV’s debut at the Geneva show next month. The fourth-generation Skoda Kodiaq rival adopts a design distinctly different to that of its predecessor or any other Kia sold in Europe. This angular styling, which apes the larger Telluride, is likely to be a reflection of its greater sales status in the US than Europe. The Sorento’s proportions have been altered with the aim of making it look longer, by way of shorter front and rear overhangs and a 35mm-longer wheelbase. All other dimensions are only around 10mm greater, although space inside – especially for middle-row passengers – is said to be significantly enhanced, thanks to improved packaging. All UK models will be seven-seaters. The only image of the interior released so far is of a Korean-spec car, but it’s unlikely to be changed much for Europe beyond the choice of trim colours. Highlights include a Mercedes-style panel that links a larger infotainment touchscreen to a new digital instrument display, while a separate climate control panel is flanked by central air vents. Technical firsts for Kia include improved cruise control that automatically readjusts limits according to corner gradients, a self-parking function accessed via the key fob, automatic braking if the car is about to hit something while parking and a blindspot monitoring system that uses cameras mounted on the door mirrors to project images of what’s alongside the car onto the dashboard. The Sorento will be launched this autumn with a 199bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine and a 227bhp hybrid powertrain comprising a 1.6-litre petrol engine, a 59bhp electric motor and a 1.5kWh battery. A plug-in hybrid will follow shortly after with 261bhp overall, an 89bhp motor and a 16.6kWh battery. Buyers will have the choice of front- or four-wheel drive except with the plug-in hybrid, which will exclusively be a 4x4. READ MORE EV to Edinburgh, take two: 700 miles in a Kia e-Niro Next Kia EV will be 'super-high-performance' halo model Hyundai and Kia seal platform deal with new EV firm View the full article
  28. Porsche has shoehorned the fabulous 4.0-litre flat-six from the Cayman GT4 into its beautifully rounded GTS models. Could this be a match made in heaven? It’s the new 718 Boxster GTS and it essentially marks the return of a naturally aspirated flat-six to the more mainstream versions of Porsche’s mid-engined models. Porsche hasn’t totally abandoned its four-cylinder philosophy (the turbocharged units remain in the standard and S versions), but after developing a bespoke flat-six motor for the Boxster Spyder and Cayman GT4 it was felt that it would be a shame to restrict its use to just these limited run specials. So now we have that 4.0-litre in the Boxster and Cayman GTS, the models that have traditionally danced the delicate line between hardcore driving fun and everday usability to brilliant effect. But first, that engine. What’s important here is that this isn’t some decontented version of the Motorsport unit, but is instead exactly the same unit. The rev limit has been lowered to 7,700rpm, reducing maximum power to 395bhp (19bhp less than the GT4), but that’s about it. It delivers the same 310lb ft at 5,000rpm and exhales through the same twin exit exhaust system. Even the six-speed manual gearbox is the same, although it has a slightly longer throw for easier day-to-day use. A seven-speed PDK will also be made available, but not until late 2020 at the earliest.There’s less carry over in the chassis, but then the Motorsport cars had fewer bespoke parts than you’d think. The GTS does without rose-joints and some stiffening components, while its less steamroller-section rubber (235 front and 265 rear) results in a fractionally narrower track. Oh, and it’s got smaller brakes, with 350mm front discs compared to 380mm for the motorsport car. What remains are the active engine mounts, adaptive dampers and torque vectoring limited slip differential.Elsewhere it’s much as before. There are some subtle visual tweaks, the most obvious being the addition of GTS 4.0 badges to the bottoms of the doors, but that’s about it. Inside there’s a smattering of Alcantara, plus some more GTS logos. The standard seats don’t look as all-embracing as the optional fixed-back buckets, but they’re supportive enough and more comfortable day to day. View the full article
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