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The Motorists Guide

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  1. Bespoke creation readied for wintry conditions with raised suspension, studded tyres and striking livery Bentley has unveiled a one-off ice racing version of its Continental GT, which will compete at the 2020 GP Ice Race in Zell am See, Austria. Bearing a distinctive blue and black livery that pays homage to the record-breaking Continental from last year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the Ice Race Continental GT has been specially adapted for the competition but is said to be “as close to production standard as possible”. The race car has been raised for enhanced ground clearance and sits atop a set of studded Pirelli Scorpion tyres for maximum grip on snow and ice. The wheelarches have been extended, as well, to make room for a 15mm increase in track width, while Slovenian firm Akrapovic has created a bespoke stainless steel exhaust system for the racer. Further modifications include the addition of a new roof rack, on which is mounted a set of Lazer spotlights and a pair of skis produced for Bentley by winter sports gear manufacturer Bomber. The competition car’s interior largely resembles that of the standard Continental, but that car's leather front seats have been swapped for a pair of purpose-built race items and harnesses. A rear roll cage and on-board fire suppression system also feature. Elsewhere, however, the Ice Race Continental GT remains mostly standard. It uses the same twin-turbocharged W12 motor as the range-topping production model, which produces an unchanged 626bhp and 664lb ft for a 0-62mph time of 3.7 seconds and 207mph top speed. The ice racer will be piloted by Junior World Rally Championship driver Catie Munnings, who said: “I spent some time on the ice in the car just before Christmas. At first I thought it would feel heavy, but I was amazed by how dynamic, nimble and responsive it is.” The GP Ice Race, first contested in 1937, was revived in 2019. It pits vehicles from of various ages and categories against eachother on a 600m track carved in the snow. This year’s event begins on 1 February. Read more Bentley Continental GT breaks Pikes Peak production record​ New Bentley Mulsanne 6.75 Edition is final outing for iconic V8​ Bentley plots £1.5m ultra-exclusive open-top sports tourer​ View the full article
  2. Eye-catching supermini arrives in the UK in range-topping form. Can it compete with the likes of Audi and Mini? There’s a clear family link between this new Peugeot 208 supermini – driven here in the UK for the very first time – and the larger 508 executive car. It’s most obvious in the exterior styling, which could fairly be described as radical for the supermini segment. With the same ‘lion claw’ daytime running lights, conspicous three-digit badge on the nose, chunky wheelarch claddings and gloss-black bar connecting its LED tail-lights, it really stands out from its contemporaries, which include the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo.Slightly cartoonish proportions and mustard-yellow paint heighten the effect to the extent that, with the two cars side by side, you would guess far that more than two decades seperate the 208 from its turn-of-the-century 206 ancestor.The ‘trickle-down effect’ continues inside. Whereas the previous 208 looked as normal as you like inside, the new model really is something else. The first thing you notice is how tiny the oblong steering wheel is. It sits below a new 3D version of Peugeot’s digital instrument display, whereon certain features – most notably speed and the arrow representing your position on the sat-nav map – often seem closer to your own nose than the background. This is the kind of thing that feels more expensive – premium, if we must – than it was to develop.To the left is a 10.0in infotainment touchscreen (7.0in on Active and Allure trims) that sits atop a helpful row of piano-key-style shortcut buttons. Well, one row of buttons in front of a row of flat touch-sensitive icons, which seems a very odd decision, because it means you can learn to operate by rote where only half the things are.The display itself is clear and crisp, and its software reacts to your inputs with little delay, although it must be said that the menu structure is confusing. You also have to adjust the air conditioning via the touchscreen, which proves an endless source of frustration.Most positively, however, the quality of the interior is very impressive. So fancy do the materials feel on all of the areas you touch regularly, whether plastic or faux leather, that perhaps the only fair comparison in the class is the Mini 5dr.View the full article
  3. Sketches suggest Ferrari could be plotting an electric successor to the 812 Superfast Drawings suggest that new model could be a GT-style electric successor to the 812 Superfast Details of Ferrari’s first production electric vehicle, arriving by 2025, appear to have been revealed in a series of patents leaked online. A series of sketches and accompanying data, first discovered by US site Taycan EV Forum, suggest that Maranello’s first electric car will be a low-riding GT that could rival the Porsche Taycan and upcoming Tesla Roadster. A plan view shows the EV is likely to feature a two-seat or 2+2 layout, a long bonnet and short overhangs, much like the firm’s 812 Superfast flagship. Also shown are details of the model’s four-wheel-drive powertrain, showing that an electric motor will be mounted to each wheel, and will apparently be capable of operating independently, perhaps allowing for the ability to rotate on the spot. Precise technical data and performance details remain unconfirmed. A Ferrari spokesperson was unable to comment on the patent applications. Ferrari’s first electric car is likely to use technology taken from the new SF90, which pairs a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 with a trio of electric motors for a combined power output of 986bhp - making it Ferrari’s most powerful road car yet. At the SF90’s launch last year, Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri called it “the first step in a direction that Ferrari will enter in unwavering focus and confidence”. In August 2019, the firm’s chief technology officer Michael Leiters explained to Autocar that keeping weight down and ensuring a high top speed were priorities for any Ferrari EV. “Right now, the technology is not mature enough”, he said. “Look at customer requirements: the most important thing is sound. Today, there is also a problem on range, which for a sports car really is a problem. The range of an electric car is especially so if you accelerate or go with high speed.” Read more SF90 Stradale hybrid is most powerful Ferrari road car yet​ Ferrari tech boss on EVs, V12s and next LaFerrari​ View the full article
  4. Images on social media show new family hatch will take styling inspiration from the Tarraco SUV and El-Born SUV The new Seat Leon has been partially revealed in new images posted online ahead of its official unveiling today. The pictures were posted by Instagram user CochesPias, and show the front and rear ends of the Ford Focus rival fully unwrapped. Visible details include an angular front grille design mirroring that of the firm's large Tarraco SUV, and the horizontal rear light bar shown in official preview images released by Seat. Seat hasn’t been shy of dropping teasers of the new Leon ahead of its unveiling. In December it released a video showing details of the model, and recently gave us a look at the upcoming car’s rear in a new image. Seat insiders have called the new car the biggest step forward in the model's history, with a significant improvement in cabin technology and the introduction of variants with electrified powertrains. The all-new SEAT Leon will be unveiled on the 28th January 2020. Here's a sneak peek of it before then! pic.twitter.com/KiGZvN7fMd — SEAT UK Media (@SEAT_UK_media) December 18, 2019 The new car gains a full-length lighting strip across the tailgate that echoes that of Seat's El Born EV, a new design of rear name badge than on the outgoing car and the return of full LED headlights. The new Leon is also set to gain ambient lighting features in the cabin. Despite claims of a radical new design direction beginning with the Mk4 Leon, prototypes feature an evolutionary look. Seat is gradually moving away from straight edges and sharp angles for future models, and this mule's curvier front-end demonstrates that. The C-segment car will get a more advanced infotainment system - which can update maps, apps and functionality over the air - similar to that offered in the Mk8 Volkswagen Golf. Seat CEO Luca de Meo said: “For two years, we have been working on what will be the best infotainment system coming to market next year, starting with the Leon." Along with the new cabin tech, the fourth-generation Leon will also be available with Seat's first plug-in hybrid powertrain to offer improved fuel economy as well as limited zero-emissions running. The plug-in Leon is billed as the model to kick-start Seat’s electrification ambitions, which will gain pace when its first truly bespoke EV, the El Born, is launched in 2020. New Cupra Leon ST hot estate seen ahead of 2020 launch To signify its big stride forward, the upcoming Leon’s look has been described by brand design boss Alejandro Mesonero as taking “a bigger step” than the company has taken since the relaunch of the brand with the current Leon in 2012. “Sometimes you need to take a bigger step so as not to be obsolete. We’re ready very soon for the next, bolder step in design,” he said. Rabe has previously told Autocar that the design and packaging of the five-door car will “not be a typical hatch" and that “it will create some desire”. The next Leon will once again use the VW Group’s MQB platform, albeit a significantly updated version shared with the recently launched Mk8 Golf. The Leon will come in five-door hatch, estate and crossover forms. The latter, jacked-up version will sit below the Ateca SUV in the brand's range and be "more extreme" than the previous version of the Leon estate, according to Rabe. He added: “We talk about hatch and we talk about SUV. Why not make something in-between?” The range is expected to open with the familiar 1.0-litre TSI three-cylinder petrol engine, offering similar performance to today's model. Seat won’t drop diesels from the line-up, Rabe said, but the range will include one of the first mild-hybrid petrol options within the VW Group for those wanting levels of economy similar to those offered by oil-burning engines. This is likely to use the 48V system mated to a 1.5-litre TSI engine, as found in the Golf. There will also be a plug-in hybrid Leon, which the Spanish brand has already confirmed will offer a 31-mile all-electric range. Expectations are that the PHEV Leon will use the 201bhp petrol-electric system offered in the Golf, with a more powerful 242bhp plug-in powertrain reserved for the Cupra-branded performance version. READ MORE Cupra Leon ditches Seat badge and goes hybrid for 2020 New Cupra Formentor hits road ahead of 2020 debut Cupra Ateca 2019 long-term test review View the full article
  5. W16 produces 1479bhp in the firm's Chiron flagship Firm's CEO, Stephan Winkelmann, calls powertrain a "USP which is not diminishing in value" Bugatti’s quad-turbo W16 powertrain has life in it yet despite the broader trend for downsizing, according to Bugatti boss Stephan Winkelmann. He acknowledged that Bugatti could have a pool of other engine options to choose from within owner the Volkswagen’s Group arsenal, but said that the “mission for a Bugatti is a different one” to the group’s other brands. Talking about its hypercars, opposed to any potential second model, Winkelmann commented: “The W16 has, in my opinion, an opportunity for the future. It’s a USP which is not diminishing in value.” He added that Volkswagen Group boss Herbert Diess “knows the value of a W16 engine”. Talking more broadly about internal combustion engines, he said: “If it lasts another decade, ICE will be the last of a kind, and the last of a kind means it is collectible. “If there is hybridisation, the battery will be replaced but it won’t be original. The internal combustion engine is something that will grow in value. People are buying Bugattis because they want to enjoy the ultimate performance but also - and this is legitimate - because it’s an investment. “The EB110 is skyrocketing. And Veyrons are going up. I don’t have to be a wizard to forecast that this will happen to the Chiron and therefore, I’m committing to the fact that this is the way to go for the hyper sportscar in the next decade.” READ MORE Record 304mph Bugatti Chiron makes public debut Bugatti reveals two special-edition Chiron models Bugatti La Voiture Noire revealed as most expensive new car of all time View the full article
  6. Land Cruiser will do whatever you ask – and keep on doing it Toyota Land Cruisers and Mitsubishi Shoguns are among the hard-grafting off-roaders that get the job done, every time Weeks, if not months, of seemingly relentless rain have made it very wet and very muddy outside, and so thoughts inevitably turn to 4x4s. Reader John knows his stuff, having bought a Nissan Pathfinder brand new and put it to some serious hardcore use. As he told me: “The engine is and always was rough but the thing did the job and was robust and reliable, provided it was regularly serviced. The car has now accumulated 188k miles, having been put to all imaginable uses.” I still a struggle to recommend Land Rover products. I know people with good Discovery experiences, but I’m not one of them. The reliability stats, based on warranty claims, prove the point that apart from a Mk1 Disco and maybe a classic Range Rover that will in any case cost gazillions to sort, you are better off with the 4x4 workhorses of this world. My go-to hardest-working 4x4, based on real-life experience, has to be a Toyota Anything At All. Obviously, though, if like John you are replacing a Pathfinder, it would need to be a Land Cruiser. John will buy new on a PCP but, for fun, let’s look at what a decent amount of money – around £16k – will buy used. I was rather taken by a 2008 3.0 D-4D with 63k miles, a full Toyota history and a £15,800 price. That would be strong money for most 12-year-old 4x4s but is actually very good value for a Cruiser. Plus, this has eight seats so that makes it an MPV, but much more useful. Other comfy, last-forever 4x4s include the Mitsubishi Shogun and I had a decent experience over a year with one. Significantly, £15k gets you a very contemporary 2016 3.2 Di-D 4Work SG2. Okay, it is a van version, but it has 77k miles, leather and 18in alloy wheels. Mind you, a seven-leather-seat 2014 Di-D SG3 with 60,000 miles is just £15,250. Again, we have a proper service history, it’s a one-owner car and it has 18in alloys. A dealer is selling it so there is a proper warranty as well. I feel like digging up a Mercedes G-Wagen and you can pick up a 1991 3.0 GE 300d with over 100k miles and a measly 88bhp but in tidy condition for a bit over £15k. It won’t be very comfy, though. That sort of leads me to looking at Jeeps. I tell you what: a 2012 Grand Cherokee 3.0 V6 CRD Overland with 65k miles, for dead on £15k, seems like a not half bad way to travel if you plan on towing stuff, or just doing some hard work. It’s plasticky, but not too bad as a day-to-day prospect, and just the thing to get you through the winter crud. What we almost bought this week Ford Granada Scorpio 2.9 24V Cosworth: We were all set to snap up this bargain 201bhp Cossie, a 1994-reg with 103,000 miles, for £600 when some bright spark spotted it had no MOT. A rusty underside, apparently. Still, given that elsewhere someone is asking £8750 for a mint 1991-reg with 125,000 miles, it might make a rewarding project. Tales from Ruppert's garage Porsche Cayenne, mileage - 106,043: As I mentioned a fortnight ago, there was a crisis with the Flying Pig involving tyres and, in order to cope with a busy Christmas period, I had to get a set of tyres to keep the show on the road. One garage said they would not replace just the one damaged tyre but would have to replace the entire set. Their quote was £600, so I went off on a ‘who would do the best deal?’ quest. It turned out to be Kwik Fit, which quoted comfortably below £500 for some tyre I’d never heard of. Even so, I went for them. So far, we haven’t fallen off the road so they must be pretty good. Reader's ride Rover 75 2.5 V6 Contemporary SE: David Robertshaw decided to buy a car he’d admired but never driven, a Rover 75: “It had a bulging history file full of invoices. The first owner had spent a fortune on it. It also had a full MOT. I spent a weekend fixing various minor issues before putting it into daily service. “I’ve now covered around 3000 fault-free miles in the six months since buying it. I love the sound of that KV6 engine and the traditionally styled interior, although it is pretty heavy on fuel. My best is 37mpg on a run. However, it does drop below 20mpg on my commute!” Readers' questions Question: I am considering buying a used Mazda CX-5 but have heard that Mazdas get more rust more often than other makes. Is this a true issue with them? Mihail Iliev, Sofia, Bulgaria Answer: Ask enough people and you’re sure to hear stories of rusty Mazdas, and rusty Fords, and rusty Vauxhalls… Independent vehicle inspector Michael Ward says most makes rust eventually and it can break out in damp areas behind body cladding, bumpers and undertrays. Galvanised steel helps put the brakes on body corrosion but offers only sacrificial protection, with the zinc element corroding before the steel. Where you live also plays a part. For example, pine forests, such as those in Bulgaria, produce very acidic soil that washes onto roads and rusts cars. John Evans Question: I thought an electric car would make the ideal towing vehicle, given all its low-down torque, but it seems no one makes an EV that can tow. Why not? Colin Skinner, Harrogate Answer: In fact, there is an electric tow car but it’s an expensive one: the Tesla Model X. It has a generous braked towing limit of 2250kg but costs from £83,000. The reasons other EVs can’t tow are that they’re already heavy without a trailer to tow as well, concerns about what effect a heavy trailer would have on the car’s energy regeneration system and the effect towing would have on the car’s range. John Evans READ MORE Toyota to reveal new small SUV at Geneva motor show Toyota plots new Aygo to capitalise on city car demise Toyota to build prototype 'city of the future' View the full article
  7. Autocar's impression of the how the next-gen Qashqai might look Nissan is fast-tracking the new Qashqai and X-Trail for reveal this year, and lining up an all-new electric SUV Nissan will reinvigorate its ageing line-up by introducing three new models in the next 18 months. A new Qashqai and a new X-Trail are due to be revealed this year and an all-new electric SUV will take on Ford’s Mustang Mach-E in 2021. The significant product overhaul comes at a crucial time for the Japanese maker, which has recently suffered dwindling profits and job cuts and is still reeling from the fallout from the arrest of former CEO Carlos Ghosn. New CEO Makoto Uchida, himself barely a month into the job, is implementing a product plan with renewed vigour, ensuring the manufacturer’s global best-sellers are brought up to the class standard in good time. Following the recently launched, second-generation Juke, three more new SUVs are at the core of the plan to restore sales to their previously strong position. The new Qashqai will be the main European focus, chiefly because the current car remains the most popular Nissan here even in its sixth year on sale. A total of 230,000 Qashqais were sold across the continent in 2018. It was also the fifth-best-selling car in the UK last year, although its sales have declined in other markets. A number of newer rivals are catching up and stealing the Qashqai’s market share, a trend in the fast-growing SUV sector that’s only going to get worse as the current car ages. Now planned for a September 2020 unveiling – almost certainly at the Frankfurt motor show – the third-generation Qashqai will be subject to a bold exterior redesign inspired by the smaller Juke and recent concepts such as the IMQ. The interior is expected to undergo a radical revamp, too – as prototypes for its 2020 X-Trail sibling suggest – with overhauled infotainment and a new dashboard design. Autocar understands that the new Qashqai won’t move to a totally new platform. Instead, Nissan will adapt the CMF underpinnings found in today’s model. The biggest development – although it has yet to be officially confirmed – is that Nissan may not offer any diesel engines in the new model as it looks to put electrification at the forefront of its powertrain strategy. Instead, two new hybrid systems are set to make up the core line-up for the new Qashqai. One is the brand’s ePower system, which uses a petrol engine acting as a generator to charge the batteries and propel the car via electric motors. In Japan, 70% of Nissan Notes sold are fitted with this system. The other hybrid system is expected to be a plug-in setup, built using know-how from alliance partner Mitsubishi. Alongside this, small-output petrol engines mated to mild-hybrid technology to reduce emissions are expected. The Qashqai isn’t likely to be offered with pure-electric propulsion in its next generation, though. Instead, a new electric SUV is scheduled for 2021 and is due to be based heavily on the Ariya concept shown at last year’s Tokyo motor show. The Ariya’s production-previewing design should transfer over largely unchanged to the new model, which is expected to be significantly more expensive to buy than its combustion-engined SUV siblings. Reports from US dealers claimed to have seen the finished model suggest an electric range of about 300 miles and a 0-60mph target of under five seconds. The Ariya will also feature Nissan’s most advanced autonomous driving tech – ProPilot 2.0 – delivering motorway driving functions on a par with those of Tesla. X-Trail is Nissan's first priority Autocar understands the X-Trail will be prioritised for an unveiling before its smaller Qashqai sibling, possibly in the summer. Prototypes have been seen testing in the US, where the X-Trail and Qashqai are sold as the Rogue and Rogue Sport respectively. Nissan sells significantly more Rogues in the US than X-Trails in Europe. It’s also more popular than the smaller SUV in both the US and China, so Nissan will want it to be the centre of attention in these markets. The US test cars provide a clear glimpse of the upcoming X-Trail’s exterior styling. Spy shots also reveal a significantly overhauled dashboard design dominated by a large, free-standing central display that’s flanked by traditional knobs and shortcut buttons rather than touch-sensitive items. There is a separate, small screen for the climate functions, and a now fashionable digital dial display also features. READ MORE New Nissan Rogue hints at styling of next X-Trail Nissan accelerates plan to split with Renault, reports suggest Nissan adds tech-heavy trim for Qashqai, X-Trail and Micra View the full article
  8. Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up a week in gossip from across the automotive industry In this week's round-up of automotive gossip, we tap Mercedes' brain on the future of China, quiz Audi Sport on the prospect of an electric R8, hear why Renault is focusing on design and more. Mercedes' China prediction Mercedes predicts that China’s car market will recover over the next five to ten years, despite it dropping significantly in the past 18 months. “It remains the place we see the biggest growth potential,” said CEO Ola Källenius. “We haven’t experienced a large fall, but for everyone I still see potential for expansion there.” Audi Sport keeps R8 options open Audi Sport isn't yet saying whether the next-gen R8 will go electric. Joint MD Julius Seebach said all options were open. For now, it has a strong future in its current generation, not only as a road car but also as a base for the R8 GT3 customer racer that is the most commercially successful GT3 car in the racing world. This makes the future of the R8 a more complex consideration than simply as a flagship road car. Renault's design emphasis Renault must emphasise the design of its cars and their high level of technical innovations in order to grow sales, according to Vincent Tourette, who has led the firm’s UK arm since 2018. Tourette said Renault’s approach had “been a bit hectic” over the past 15 years and that his goal is to create a sustainable future for the firm and its dealer network. Toyota's Prius commitment Toyota says the Prius has a strong future even as the industry shifts to full EVs. “We’re planning our fifth and sixth-generation hybrid systems and I can see the Prius continuing,” said European vice president Matt Harrison. Don’t expect the Prius name to morph onto an EV, either; Harrison says it’s synonymous with hybrid technology. READ MORE Mercedes downplays 75% AMG range restriction claims Matt Saunders' car of the decade: Mercedes-Benz C-Class New Mercedes GLA receives more tech, space and comfort View the full article
  9. The first PHEV to wear the Griffin badge delivers hot hatch pace - but can it match premium competition for ride refinement and interior finish? Meet one half of Vauxhall’s two-step journey towards electrifying its entire passenger car line-up by 2024 - a journey set to make its other significant stride forward in just a few months with the arrival of the Corsa-e electric supermini.The Grandland X Hybrid4 is the first ever plug-in hybrid to wear a Vauxhall badge, 2012’s Ampera being, strictly speaking, a range-extender electric car rather than a PHEV. With a 13.2kW battery, it can deliver as much as 35 miles of zero-emissions range - enough, says Vauxhall, for 80% of customers to do the majority of their driving on electricity alone. A 7.2kW wall box can then recharge it in under two hours, though only if you pay £500 for the option.Of more interest to the average Autocar reader? That this is also the most powerful production Vauxhall on sale today, a pair of electric motors and PSA’s familiar 1.6-litre turbocharged four-pot petrol engine sending 296bhp to all four wheels. 0-60 takes a claimed 5.9 seconds, or enough to raise the eyebrow of the average hot hatchback owner.In the UK, the all-wheel drive Hybrid4 starts with with the well-equipped SRi Nav trim, at £41,500. Our test car, a top-spec Ultimate Nav which adds niceties such as advanced park assist, premium audio and bespoke LED headlights, was an altogether more ambitious £46,650. That isn't too far removed from premium plug-ins from Audi, BMW and Volvo. Fleet customers may be more tempted by the Business Edition at roughly £37,000, but private buyers may want to wait for the less pricey, front-drive only variant set to follow later in the year, with an equally attractive benefit-in-kind tax rate.View the full article
  10. Korean media reports suggest Kia's largest SUV will be shown at a dedicated event on 17 February, with a plug-in hybrid variant on the cards Kia will move its oldest model, the Sorento, into a new generation this year, and now reports from the company's home market suggest it will be revealed in a few weeks' time. A report from The Korean Car Blog states strongly that the reveal, set to take place in South Korea, is planned for 17 February. This is also the date that domestic-market order books will open for the new car, the publication claims. It could mean that the Sorento's European premiere would be the Geneva motor show in early March, although Autocar is awaiting confirmation of this from Kia UK. The new large SUV, which will rival the Skoda Kodiaq, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Nissan X-Trail, shares much of its platform, mechanicals and technology with the latest Hyundai Santa Fe. Recent spy shots revealed that it has a more square-edged design than its curvy predecessor, with the brand’s tiger nose grille visible within a new front-end profile. Kia also appears to be benchmarking the new SUV alongside the pricier BMW X5, showing the Korean firm's ambition for the model. The latest Santa Fe is actually slightly smaller than today’s Sorento, at 4.77m long and 1.89m wide. Whether Kia has slightly shortened the Sorento or extended the existing platform to suit remains to be seen. Either way, it should remain one of the more spacious seven-seat SUVs. The new Sorento is expected to initially use a 2.2-litre diesel engine mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and, on higher-end models, four-wheel drive. But Kia has confirmed that, as part of its electrification plans, there will be a plug-in hybrid version in due course. That will make use of a four-cylinder petrol engine – likely a turbocharged version of the Kia Niro's 1.6-litre unit – and an electric motor mounted on the rear axle to give electric all-wheel drive. Read more: Kia Xceed crossover: first official image released New Kia Soul EV makes European debut at Geneva Kia Sorento review View the full article
  11. Stuttgart's track-ready 911 could be revealed in the coming weeks as it's shown briefly without any disguise in Porsche's Superbowl ad Porsche's upcoming 992-generation 911 GT3 has been seen without disguise - and the brand itself is responsible for its early sneak preview. The track-focused sports car can briefly be seen in the background of Porsche's 2020 Superbowl advert, released online over the weekend. Though only quickly visible, tell-tale GT3 styling cues are clear to see, including the large fixed rear wing, splitter and diffuser, and the classic GT3 centre-locking wheels. The sighting adds fuel to rumours that the car could be a surprise unveiling at the 2020 Geneva motor show in March, alongside the new 911 Turbo which will be confirmed in the coming weeks. Further details are yet to be revealed, but we do know the 911 Speedster’s heavily revised 4.0-litre flat-six engine will be carried over to future GT models as Porsche’s GT division persists with naturally aspirated engines. GT boss Andreas Preuninger said: “We’ve invested in the future with this engine. I can’t comment on future projects but we would be stupid not to re-use this engine somewhere. “Our philosophy in GT cars is to stay naturally aspirated. We want to keep that engine for the future and that’s why we’ve made such a tremendous effort to get the engine right without taking emotion and performance away.” Preuninger declined to reveal which models would use the updated engine, but a strong likelihood is the next-generation GT3. Recently spied prototypes at the Nürburgring Nordschleife emitted the telltale wail of a high-revving engine free from turbocharging, adding further weight to the speculation. The Speedster, a swansong for the 991 generation of the 911 priced from £211,599, uses the same powertrain as the outgoing GT3 but receives a host of updates. Chief among the updates, and in order to extend the regulatory life of this big-capacity direct-injection flat six, Porsche has fitted two sizeable petrol particulate filters – one integrated into the exhaust tract that exits each side of the block. And yet owing to the use of thinner steel, nickel and soldering techniques rather than welding, the exhaust system now weighs 10kg less than before, despite the additional hardware. Power has also increased, from 493bhp to 503bhp, and continues to arrive at 8400rpm. To achieve this with an engine that is not only cleaner but also suffers from an increase in exhaust back-pressure owing to the new filters is no mean feat. The fuel-injection system now operates at 250bar rather than 200 for improved propagation, and each of the engine’s six cylinders now gets a dedicated throttle-body. The combined effect – but particularly due to the new throttle-bodies – is even sharper throttle response, says Porsche. Rachel Burgess and Richard Lane Read more 2019 Porsche 911 Speedster: UK prices and specs revealed​ Porsche 911 GT3 review Porsche 911 Carrera 4S 2019 UK review​ View the full article
  12. More lay-bys and radar detection expected to be rolled out in the coming years The UK government has revealed that 38 people have been killed in crashes on smart motorways in the last five years. The announcement came in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from the BBC’s Panorama programme. It is the first time Highways England, which manages the country’s road infrastructure, has reported the total number of deaths. Smart motorways have come under heavy criticism in the five years since they were first trialled in the West Midlands in 2006. The removal of the hard shoulder to improve traffic flow means broken-down vehicles unable to reach a refuge area are forced to remain stationary in ‘live’ lanes, with no protection against oncoming traffic. The Panorama report also revealed that one section of the M25 motorway has seen a 20-fold increase in near-misses (incidents with “the potential to cause injury or ill health”) since it became a stretch of smart motorway in April 2014. In the five years prior to its reconfiguration, there were 72 near misses. In the five years after, there were 1485. It has also emerged that a warning sign on the same section of the M25 had been out of action for 336 days. Smart motorways are deployed across approximately 200 miles of the UK’s 2,200-mile network. Transport secretary Grant Schapps told Panorama that smart motorways should be “as safe or safer than regular motorways or we shouldn’t have them at all”. It is expected that a government review of smart motorways, set to conclude imminently, will suggest ways the new type of road can be improved. The BBC reports that a radar-based car detection system will be rolled out across all smart motorways over the next three years, automatically detecting stationary vehicles and triggering warning signs to alert drivers behind. There are also calls from figures such as AA President Edmund King to substantially increase the number of refuge areas on roads. Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy for the RAC, welcomed reports of an impending reform: “A commitment to install stopped vehicle detection technology on the whole smart motorway network would be a welcome step and something the RAC has called for consistently in recent years. “RAC research suggests that more than two-thirds of drivers believe that permanently removing the hard shoulder compromises safety in the event of a breakdown. Simply ploughing on with the status quo regardless isn’t an option anymore.” Read more How Autocar writers would fix Britain's roads and transport​ Tory government pledges £25bn for road improvement​ View the full article
  13. El Born-inspired tailgate lighting strip and angular profile suggest edgy new look for upcoming hatch Seat hasn’t been shy of dropping teasers of the new Leon ahead of its unveiling tomorrow. In December it released a video showing details of the model, and recently gave us a look at the upcoming car’s rear in a new image. The fourth-generation of the Spanish brand's Ford Focus rival will be revealed at a dedicated event on 28 January. Seat insiders have called the new car the biggest step forward in the model's history, with a significant improvement in cabin technology and the introduction of variants with electrified powertrains. The all-new SEAT Leon will be unveiled on the 28th January 2020. Here's a sneak peek of it before then! pic.twitter.com/KiGZvN7fMd — SEAT UK Media (@SEAT_UK_media) December 18, 2019 The latest picture expands on the fleeting view of the Leon’s back shown in the above video. It shows the new car gains a full-length lighting strip across the tailgate that echoes that of Seat's El Born EV. We can also see a new design of rear name badge than on the outgoing car, while at the front, the video showed the return of full LED headlights. The new Leon is also set to gain ambient lighting features in the cabin. Despite claims of a radical new design direction beginning with the Mk4 Leon, the test mule shows an evolutionary look. Seat is gradually moving away from straight edges and sharp angles for future models, and this mule's curvier front-end demonstrates that. The C-segment car will get a more advanced infotainment system - which can update maps, apps and functionality over the air - similar to that offered in the Mk8 Volkswagen Golf. Seat CEO Luca de Meo said: “For two years, we have been working on what will be the best infotainment system coming to market next year, starting with the Leon." Along with the new cabin tech, the fourth-generation Leon will also be available with Seat's first plug-in hybrid powertrain to offer improved fuel economy as well as limited zero-emissions running. The plug-in Leon is billed as the model to kick-start Seat’s electrification ambitions, which will gain pace when its first truly bespoke EV, the El Born, is launched in 2020. New Cupra Leon ST hot estate seen ahead of 2020 launch To signify its big stride forward, the upcoming Leon’s look has been described by brand design boss Alejandro Mesonero as taking “a bigger step” than the company has taken since the relaunch of the brand with the current Leon in 2012. “Sometimes you need to take a bigger step so as not to be obsolete. We’re ready very soon for the next, bolder step in design,” he said. Rabe has previously told Autocar that the design and packaging of the five-door car will “not be a typical hatch" and that “it will create some desire”. The next Leon will once again use the VW Group’s MQB platform, albeit a significantly updated version shared with the recently launched Mk8 Golf. The Leon will come in five-door hatch, estate and crossover forms. The latter, jacked-up version will sit below the Ateca SUV in the brand's range and be "more extreme" than the previous version of the Leon estate, according to Rabe. He added: “We talk about hatch and we talk about SUV. Why not make something in-between?” The range is expected to open with the familiar 1.0-litre TSI three-cylinder petrol engine, offering similar performance to today's model. Seat won’t drop diesels from the line-up, Rabe said, but the range will include one of the first mild-hybrid petrol options within the VW Group for those wanting levels of economy similar to those offered by oil-burning engines. This is likely to use the 48V system mated to a 1.5-litre TSI engine, as found in the Golf. There will also be a plug-in hybrid Leon, which the Spanish brand has already confirmed will offer a 31-mile all-electric range. Expectations are that the PHEV Leon will use the 201bhp petrol-electric system offered in the Golf, with a more powerful 242bhp plug-in powertrain reserved for the Cupra-branded performance version. READ MORE Cupra Leon ditches Seat badge and goes hybrid for 2020 New Cupra Formentor hits road ahead of 2020 debut Cupra Ateca 2019 long-term test review View the full article
  14. An eminently likeable and capable small car with good dynamics but a limited range and an ambitious price A theme common to many electric cars is that their weight and architecture lead to them feeling lead-footed and brittle. The Honda E has circumnavigated that issue. So, whatever else comes of this sub-supermini hatchback, attractive but not quite as pretty as the concept that preceded it, one of its plus points will be the way it drives.Its new platform provides allround independent suspension with a MacPherson strut at each corner; dynamically, Honda has targeted much larger cars. For rolling comfort, smoothness and refinement, the E succeeds where others have not.There is a catch, of course. This is a compact car – 3.9m long – that can be so only because it has a small energy store. While almost every manufacturer strives to fit a capacity of 60kWh or more (the Nissan Leaf e+ has 62kWh), the E has a liquid-cooled battery pack of just 35.5kWh between its axles. Resulting range, in 151bhp form, is a WLTP-certified 125 miles on 17in wheels or 137 miles on 16in wheels. And on our cold test day, it managed even less than that.The E comes in two flavours: the regular 134bhp model and the 151bhp Advance tested here, which respectively cost a not-insignificant £26,160 and £28,660 after the plugin grant. Both can be slow-charged at a rate of up to 6.6kW or DC rapid-charged at up to 100kW, although a 50kW fill will be almost as quick – 31 minutes from 0-80%, rather than 30. It’s like flying from Birmingham to Newcastle: no sooner than you’re up to speed, it’s time to wind down again.View the full article
  15. Tuscan Vulcan: late Mk3 Tuscan was revived by Str8six as a 505bhp V8-powered special The TVR Tuscan is a practical but brutish two-seater that’s a joy to drive – when it works. We explore the pleasures and pitfalls of buying a used one One well-respected TVR dealer advises its customers to imagine they’re a brain surgeon. As someone who might be required to perform life-saving surgery at any time of the day or night, they must have a car they can depend on to get them to the hospital. A TVR Tuscan, says the dealer, is not that car. Instead, it’s a second or third motor for weekends when the sun is shining and when a roadside breakdown isn’t a matter of life or death. Not the most encouraging way to begin a buying guide but it’s best you know now that, like all TVRs, the Tuscan is a model that demands regular care and attention from its owner, and not a little tolerance. It wasn’t meant to be like this. With a removable, all-weather hard-top and large boot, the two-seat Tuscan was, said TVR, the company’s most usable creation to date. On paper, certainly, but then, as ever, TVR left much of the car’s development to its test engineers – the firm’s customers. It’s why, today, you’ll struggle to find a TVR in original condition. Not that you’d want to. Instead, most have been upgraded and are probably running either a rebuilt or refurbished engine and transmission along with uprated brakes, suspension and ancillaries. Bodies are likely to have been repainted, too. Not that this is a bad thing; far from it, in fact. Just make sure you have sight of all workshop bills so you can see what’s been done, when and by whom. Multiple previous owners? Not necessarily a bad thing either, since for each one of them, owning a Tuscan has been their life’s ambition and they’ll have spoiled it rotten. It was launched in 1999, powered by a superb straight-six engine designed by Al Melling, built by TVR and called the Speed Six. There was a 3.6-litre producing 350bhp and a torquier 4.0-litre version with 360bhp. There was also a so-called Red Rose 4.0 with 380bhp, but the one that attracts a premium today is the 390bhp 4.0 S. The two-seater body was made of glassfibre (it was a quality job with even shutlines and the option of a ‘flip’ paint finish) and mounted on a tubular steel chassis with outriggers. The bonnet was a two-piece affair with three vertically stacked lights at each corner. Until 2003, the Tuscan was offered only in Targa-style form (the big boot was ideal for storing the roof and back window). The Mk2 was launched in 2004, the most notable change being the adoption of twin headlights. A convertible became available, too (it’s also sought after today), while the power output of the 4.0 S increased to 400bhp. By this time TVR had been bought by Nikolay Smolensky, a Russian businessman. Under his ownership quality improved and, for Mk3 models, the Tuscan’s exotic dashboard was given a makeover and dubbed the ‘wavy dash’. Without a doubt, a good Tuscan is a joy. If, and when, TVR production recommences, values may rise higher. Buy now before they do. How to get one in your garage An expert's view James Agger, James Agger Autosport: “For a long time the buying advice was the later the better, but now forget age, colour and engine – how it’s been maintained and who has done what are all you should care about. All parts are available and everything is repairable. The Tuscan S and the convertible are the most sought after. You can get a reasonable Tuscan for £25,000 but most are around £30,000. The best are between £38,000 and £52,000.” Buyer beware... ■ Engine: Avoid engines with oil and coolant leaks, mechanical noises and misfires – repairs can cost thousands. High underbonnet temperatures cook rubber hoses, electrics and ancillaries, which all sit alongside the engine block. Check annual servicing has run to more than just an oil and filter change. Favour specialists over general workshops. A major 12k-mile service with tappet adjustment is about £650. ■ Gearbox: A healthy gearbox action is heavy but precise; an obstructive change may require a rebuild. Clutches last around 35,000 miles at most. ■ Chassis: Check the chassis for rust (outriggers are vulnerable). Engine heat blisters the protective coating. ■ Brakes, suspension, steering and wheels: Most suspension systems have been upgraded so check the quality of the work and the components. Original cars were firm but never harsh, so over-enthusiastic modifications can upset the Tuscan’s delicate balance. Brakes should be powerful but progressive. Brake lines will probably have been upgraded by now. ■ Body: Shutlines should be reasonably consistent. Check the front splitter for grounding damage. On the coupé, check the removable Perspex screen for scratches and that the useless original securing clips have been upgraded. ■ Interior: Check the rev limiter, shift lights and main LCD display. Electric windows and door locks can be troublesome; damp is often the cause. Roof seals were poor from day one. Heater controls can have a mind of their own. Also worth knowing Engine going west? Consider a rebuild by a specialist such as Power Performance. It costs around £5500 and comes with a three-year warranty. Sounds a lot but you’ll get some of it back in the car’s increased value. How much to spend £15,000-£16,500: Few cars at this money. We saw a refurbed 2001 Cat C write-off for £16k. £20,000-£24,999: Straight cars in good condition, including an 80,000-mile, 2001-reg 4.0, now a 3.6, with sensible upgrades. £25,000-£29,999: Lots more choice. Mostly 2001-03 cars with around 50,000 miles. £30,000-£34,999: Some nice cars, like a 2003 with 28,000 miles and a full TVR service history for £32,995. £35,000-£44,999: Mainly low-mileage Mk2s. £45,000-£55,000: More late-plate cars (2006-07), most with around 30,000 miles. One we found TVR Tuscan 4.0, 2001, 42,000 miles, £26,995: On sale at respected TVR dealer Mole Valley, this example has history from day one. It’s a sensible price, too. If you’re new to TVR, buying from a local specialist is the best plan. READ MORE TVR says work to start soon on new Welsh factory TVR factory construction delayed by EU rules 500bhp TVR Griffith to be displayed at London motor show View the full article
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