Jump to content

The Motorists Guide

  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


The Motorists Guide last won the day on June 30

The Motorists Guide had the most liked content!

Community Reputation

44 Excellent

Recent Profile Visitors

2,010 profile views
  1. Seat's e-Scooter and e-Kickscooter Spanish firm's first electric motorcycle will go on sale in Spain in 2020 and might come to Britain later on Seat has expanded into two-wheeled transport with the reveal of its new e-Scooter – and the electric motorcycle is tipped to be sold in the UK. The new machine, based on a design by Spanish electric bike firm Silence, was unveiled at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona along with an e-Kickscooter concept. Seat has established a new business unit that will aim to develop such ‘urban mobility’ vehicles. The e-Scooter will go on sale next year in Spain, and the firm is considering offering it in the UK. A Seat UK spokesperson said: “We are very interested and favourable towards the idea of the Seat city electric scooter, but we need to look at the business case and then make a decision.” The reaction of the British public will influence the decision. “We’ve already had a lot of positive interest,” added the Seat UK spokesperson, “and that is really helping us with the decision.” A move into two-wheelers could change Seat’s brand, moving it closer to territory occupied by BMW, Honda and Suzuki as makers of both two and four-wheeled transport. The e-Scooter features a 7kW motor, which offers a peak rate of 11kW, mounted in the rear wheel. It offers power roughly equivalent to a 125cc petrol engine. A range of 71 miles and a top speed of 62mph are claimed, and the battery can be removed for recharging at home. The e-Scooter is seen as a match for Seat’s younger car owners; the average age of a Seat buyer is eight to 10 years lower than for other European brands. However, customers in their late teens and early 20s are increasingly looking to car sharing and ride hailing to satisfy their transport needs, rather than car ownership, especially in cities. With that in mind, Seat has also revealed a replacement for its kick Scooter, a rebadged Segway model. Together with the Minimo two-seat electric quadricycle shown in the spring, Seat has unveiled three urban mobility machines in the past nine months, while the order books for the new Seat Mii Electric have just opened. Seat boss Luca de Meo says the company’s aim is to “show how we can contribute to changes in urban mobility”. “Our micro-mobility vehicles are designed around short journeys, the ones where cars are probably not the ideal way to do it,” he said. De Meo has reorganised Seat’s mobility business units under the Urban Mobility banner and appointed Lucas Casanovas to run the operation. One of its first jobs is to develop a business case to put the Minimo into production. Casanovas says the intention remains to put the Minimo on sale in late 2021 or early 2022, but the project still awaits the green light. “It’s not a matter of the overall design but finding the right plastics for cleanliness and durability, the size of the battery, range and reliability, details like that,” he says. READ MORE Seat to launch electric scooter as urban mobility vehicle New Seat El-Born: 2020 electric hatchback begins testing Seat could rebrand as Cupra in upmarket push View the full article
  2. Interior upgrades aim to help sweet-handling saloon keep up with its fast-evolving rivals As one half of a two-pronged return to form, alongside the Stelvio SUV, the Giulia has helped re-establish Alfa Romeo as a purveyor of fine driving cars. But it hasn't been the sales success the brand was hoping for, losing out to rivals that may not be more dynamic but are certainly better equipped.That an improved infotainment system was the first bullet point on the press material for this facelifted version should indicate just how vocal customers and critics were over the Giulia’s shortcomings. Understandable, then, that this mid-life refresh seeks to add much-needed technology updates and overhaul interior fit and finish, rather than tweak an already stellar driving experience. So much so that beyond the handful of new paint options, the only exterior changes are to the trim level badges: silver lettering now signifies more mainstream models, black is reserved for sportier versions. The range has also been simplified to Super, Sprint, Lusso Ti and Veloce, with a new Business line dedicated to fleet sales in certain markets.The engine line-up also remains unchanged, with a 2.0-litre petrol and a 2.2-litre diesel (both turbocharged) available in several states of tune. The 276bhp of our Veloce Ti test car is the most potent until the refreshed Giulia Quadrifoglio comes on song next summer.View the full article
  3. Mild facelift for Alfa's engaging SUV targets perceived quality with cabin overhaul and greater focus on technology This is the latest version of Alfa Romeo’s strong-selling Stelvio, which can already claim to be one of the more dynamic SUVs on sale today. It has been largely responsible for turning around the marque’s recent fortunes, alongside the Giulia compact saloon, but Alfa itself admits there’s still room for improvement in what is a fiercely competitive category. It’ll come as little surprise, then, that this facelifted model focuses on improving the one area prospective customers have been most critical of: perceived quality. Indeed, when we road tested the Stelvio in 2017, the cabin stood out as “stylish enough to impress at a glance,” but was disappointing in terms of materials quality on closer inspection.Almost every other aspect of the car remains unchanged, including the line-up of 2.0-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel engines. Alfa Romeo falls behind other FCA brands in the running to receive electrified powertrains, and the fire-breathing 2.9-litre Quadrifoglio V6 won’t be updated until the middle of 2020. It is tested here as a top-spec oil burner, with 207bhp sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox and Alfa’s Q4 all-wheel drive.This refresh also sees the range simplified to Super, Sprint, Ti and Veloce models, with black badging to signify sportier trim levels and silver for more mainstream versions. Ti cars now get contrasting side skirts, wheel arches and a rear bumper meant to invoke the Alfa 164 of the 1980s, while Sprint and Veloce versions receive colour-matched mudguards.View the full article
  4. Buy a nearly new Mini and you could save a cool £5500 AA Cars' new survey reveals 74% of recently bought vehicles are used ones. No wonder when there's so much choice Drivers are now three times as likely to buy a used car over a new model.’ I think we get told this every year, when in fact this section of Autocar reminds you every single week that the thinking car buyer always takes the used option. In this case, the non-revelation comes from a survey by AA Cars. Anyway, as our jumping-off point, let’s use this fascinating stat: 74% of drivers said their most recent vehicle purchase was of a used one. According to AA Cars, 29% of those surveyed had bought a ‘nearly new’ car most recently. Actually that is a pretty sensible buy, whatever your definition is – be it a dealer demo, a pre-registered or a fresh-off-the-hire-fleet special. There is a lot of choice around. We’ll look at 2019 vehicles, and I would be happy enough with 11,000 miles, which leads us to a Mini 1.5 Cooper Sport II. That costs £14,499, which is a saving of £5500 on the new price, plus it comes with over £500 worth of extras. This car was at a supermarket and they offer a three-month warranty, but you would still have the balance of the manufacturer’s one anyway. Then again, I love a dealer demo and I really love the look of the current Volkswagen Polo. So a 1.0 TSI 115 R Line with 1000 miles at £18,990 isn’t a giveaway, but it was parked at a VW dealer. Starts to sound like a lot for a Polo, but it should do 45mpg and, as I’ve said, it looks the part. Instead of a small hatch, why not a great big estate car for less than ex-demo Polo money? I’m back at a supermarket and looking at a Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 Turbo D SRi VX-line Nav estate. Blimey, names are long, but what a great-looking stuff-hauler. This one had 10,000 miles and everything you would ever need as standard, as well as quite cool black alloys. Plus 50mpg on average and a massive load bay. All that for £17,999. Back at the car buying survey, there’s a solid 25% who bought used cars that are more than five years old. Those wanting a Mini, and many do, would only have to pay £6900 for a 2013 1.2 One. It’s got 42,000 miles, has a full history, black alloy wheels and Bluetooth, so as good as the nearly new one. Or how about a 2013 Polo 1.2 TDI BlueMotion with 69,000 miles for £4400? It will do almost 60mpg and that seems like a more credible price for a VW supermini. No point listing 2013 Insignias – there are millions of them and they have six-figure mileages. But, hey, a 2.0 CDTi Ecoflex Design Sport Tourer with 107k miles is £3800. Here’s the proof, then, that used cars are brilliant: they give you a ton of alternatives and deliver value for money whether nearly new or five years old. What we almost bought this week Mazda RX-8: If you like checking your engine oil, an RX-8 could be the car of your dreams. The 1.3-litre rotary motor loves a drink so be prepared to top it up every 1000 miles or so with Dexelia 5W-30 or 10W-40 semi-synthetic. We found a 2005-reg with full service history and 70,000 miles for £975. A compression test would be a good idea. Tales from Ruppert's garage Porsche Cayenne – mileage 104,462: Here you go – the Flying Pig lives to spend yet another year climate-changing the planet with its marginal fuel consumption. It sailed through the MOT with zero advisories, which is what you want with a massively complicated car like this. I asked my garage to do a minor service, so that was just oil and filters, but including the roadworthiness check it still came to £200. Never mind, that’s Porsche life. Also part of that life is making a trip to a Porker main dealer for some recall work. It’s a half-day adventure for me and I’ll tell you about the Flying Pig’s progress very soon. Reader's ride Jaguar S-Type: Julian at Balance Motorsport has shared this astounding S-Type project with us: “Japanese car fans would be horrified at the home the Civic Type R seats have found themselves in. The V6 has an incredibly broad power range and will pull from 1000rpm right up to 7000rpm. Due to a modified exhaust and air intake, it sounds a bit like a Ferrari GTO when driven hard. The eventual aim is to add a light pressure turbo and some aero appendages. It weighs 1400kg and we have more weight reduction planned.” Readers' questions Question: How has Alvis made its ancient engines ULEZ compliant with just fuel injection and engine management (Autocar, 2 October)? Adam Tedder, via email Answer: Alvis would call it good engineering. The company hired a combustion expert who said the cylinder head was a perfect design in terms of flow and spark plug position. The changes made on his advice were to fit the fuel injection, a catalytic converter and an engine management system, as well as increasing the compression ratio. The DVSA monitored the development of the cars before testing them to ensure they satisfied the Individual Vehicle Approval regulations, although these are not relevant in proving ULEZ compliance. It was a lot of work and too expensive to repeat on any old pre-2000 engine. JE Question: I’m torn between a Mk1 Peugeot 107, Citroën C1 and Toyota Aygo for my daughter. Which is the most reliable? Ted Avery, Hastings Answer: Having run a 107 for 12 months without fault, I have no hesitation in recommending one – but not necessarily over its sister cars. Instead, condition, specification and service history, rather than badge, should be your guide. All three are city cars, so when you’re shopping around, check the clutch’s biting point (too high and it could be on the way out). The absence of a temperature gauge means it’s also a good idea to check the coolant level and the water pump and expansion bottle for leaks. Make sure the exhaust isn’t about to turn to dust, too. JE READ MORE Mazda to launch innovative diesel engine next year Electric Mazda MX-30 concept revealed early by Japanese media New Jaguar F-Type: 2020 restyling shown with less disguise View the full article
  5. Speth has done much to establish Warwick University's National Automotive Innovation Centre, the Bhattacharyya Building. Within its portals, the future of mobility is being created. The British firm hasn't had the smoothest of rides lately, but Speth is optimistic that the future looks bright Ralf Speth likes talking about the future. It’s no surprise, given the challenges he has faced in the recent past. It can’t be much fun for Jaguar Land Rover’s CEO to keep raking over the ashes of a recent £3.6 billion financial loss that triggered cuts of 4500 jobs, something he took very personally. From his early days, looking forward has always been an important part of Speth’s make-up. At BMW, where he began a 20-year engineering career in 1980, it was a given among his generation that you embraced new technology and watched it lift the brand image while generating impressive sales. BMW was a very happy place for a young engineer to be. Let it not be forgotten, either, that for most of his nine years at the top of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Speth’s penchant for keeping the company focused on growth and constant improvement met unprecedented success: the company remains this nation’s largest car maker and biggest spender on research and development. Still, it is more than a year since Speth first signalled that things were going seriously wrong at JLR. The company was abruptly hit by a perfect storm of difficulties, including a disastrous drop in demand for diesels, rising Brexit fears, a rapid weakening of the Chinese market and a consequent need for a downward revaluation of JLR’s entire business. Within months, Speth (now Sir Ralf, in recognition of recent British citizenship and ‘confirmation’ of a previously awarded honorary KBE) unveiled a £2.5bn plan called ‘Charge and Accelerate’ aimed at dramatically cutting costs and improving cash flows. Much has been done, but it is still a work in progress. When I meet Speth at Warwick University’s National Automotive Innovation Centre – a magnificent car creation facility mainly established through Speth’s own unstinting efforts – the logical first question is to ask exactly how the recovery is proceeding. “We began our restructuring and transformation earlier than other companies in our kind of business because we are smaller than them,” Speth begins carefully, “which meant we struck problems earlier. We don’t have banks and insurance companies that let us spread difficulties as others can, so we were criticised early on. But others are now facing the same problems and ours are no longer a surprise. “Our advantage is we’re agile. We are on track to over-deliver on the short-term part of our programme, called Charge, to cut costs and improve cash flow.” JLR’s second-quarter results showed the truth of this, with a predicted upturn in fortunes – revenue up 8% year on year and a £156 million pre-tax profit – following impressive recent sales improvements, especially in China. Speth says: “The longer-term part of our plan, called Accelerate, aims to attack systemic issues like improving quality and time to market. That will take longer. We’ve asked our existing teams to meet and communicate better, and that’s also working. And a data analytics team of seasoned, experienced people I set up a couple of years ago has started paying off in a big way. “We’ve implemented our toughest decisions first. Do it any other way and you lose momentum…” Times have been tough, but it’s very telling that Speth (who turned 64 last month) continues firmly in the biggest job at JLR, unmolested by rumour mongers and financial denizens who have recently taken to giving other car industry leaders a hard time. “The task now is to prepare for new things,” says Speth, “to simplify our engine and model ranges as much as possible, and also to prepare some very go-ahead projects we have in the drawer.” “I’m so glad that during restructuring we haven’t had to reduce our investment much,” he says, reaching instinctively to the future. “I defend our big projects because they define segments and also earn salaries for our next generation. When this disturbance ends, we want to be ready.” Speth doesn’t seem to care much about what the car market will be like in a decade’s time, except to say that diesel and petrol cars will be around “for a long time”. He reckons maintaining a high degree of manufacturing flexibility holds the key – and already sees this policy, steadily maintained at JLR for years, starting to bear fruit. The centralisation of JLR engine manufacturing – production of modular triples, fours, sixes and EDUs (electric drive units) at the company’s Wolverhampton factory – is one huge move towards flexibility, allowing JLR to source conventional, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric powertrains from one site. The same goes for an embryo battery assembly operation at nearby Ham’s Hall, where a run of 7500-cell batteries even larger than that of the I-Pace (perhaps for the luxurious XJ saloon and its Land Rover sibling?) will be constructed by an automated process that involves 15,000 welding operations to be completed in just 11 minutes. However, Speth reserves special pride for the forthcoming Battery Industrialisation Centre (BIC), which is under construction on a huge site near Coventry Airport. There, the capabilities and innovations from universities all over the UK can be brought together in realistic manufacturing conditions – and also tested for re-use and recycling. Speth has long recognised the need for at least one UK battery gigafactory. Success for the BIC could lead directly to this – highly desirable provided the new place embraces next-gen technology and is run on a financially competitive basis. “This could be sensational for the UK,” says Speth, “but there’s no point in setting up a battery factory just to have one. It has to deliver great products at a competitive price.” The JLR chief may see his own company selling pure diesel and petrol vehicles for years to come, but his commitment to electrification and zero emissions – along with zero congestion and zero accidents – seems to be total. JLR’s factories are already carbon neutral. Speth is scathing about the fact that 1000 coal-fired power stations are currently under construction around the world – and critical of a German process that subsidises coal mining, sends the mined product to Poland for firing, then brings it back as clean fuel. “Does the environment know it’s clean?” he asks. Whatever the future, says the CEO, JLR must grow to be stable and successful. He’s optimistic about the prospects: “Of course, it’s not manufactured volume that matters: it’s cash in the pocket. But economies of scale are vital. To be competitive, you need advanced technologies and they’re expensive. If you’re VW and can divide your costs by 10 million, that helps. If you’re JLR and the figure is 600,000, it’s tougher.” I press for the ideal JLR annual production figure, admittedly without much hope. Speth is famous for not revealing targets. But maybe because it’s nearly Christmas, he relents. “A million is not out of reach,” he murmurs. “We have plans to expand our model range and we have some great designs in the drawer. But we must accompany any expansion with the very best sales and marketing techniques. But I believe we have the substance. Look at our cars in the high street: they are authentic, honest and they all have their own character. I am proud of that.” Speth is late for his next appointment so we really have to stop talking. Trouble is, I always find interviews with Speth turn into uplifting events and so I hang about to the last. This quietly spoken man has rare insight, quiet wit and a powerful ability to fill you with enthusiasm for the future. He is most definitely (we can say this now) a national treasure. It turns out that Speth likes quotes from great people, an enthusiasm I share, and I’m delighted to find that he recently used a favourite from Abraham Lincoln in a recent speech – as a way of inspiring others. “The best way to predict your future is to create it” was Lincoln’s killer line. Here and now in 2019, the person making best use of these words is a slim, moustachioed engineer from Munich, who nowadays lives in Leamington Spa. READ MORE 2020 Jaguar XJ: electric-only saloon teased at Frankfurt Jaguar could revive C-X75 concept as next-gen F-Type Why Jaguar Land Rover is back in profit View the full article
  6. Cooling down your motor with water injections increases power and combustion efficiency, as well as minimising harmful oxides One of the many technologies that’s still on the back burner but could contribute to lower fuel consumption and emissions while squeezing a tad more power from petrol engines is water injection. It stirred up a lot of interest back in 2016 when BMW introduced it on the fabulously excessive M4 GTS, but its use in recent years has been confined mainly to more extreme motorsports such as drag racing. Injecting water into the engine does a number of things. One is that it cools the combustion chamber as well as the incoming air, whereas an intercooler only does the latter. Reducing the temperature inside the combustion chamber reduces the threshold at which detonation (knock) occurs, so it’s possible to run higher boost and more advanced ignition timing before knock threatens. That in turn means more power and increased combustion efficiency. Another benefit is that cooling things down reduces the generation of the dreaded oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and this is what may drive the technology down the food chain and into more modest cars than the M4 GTS. NOx is created when the nitrogen in the air ingested into the engine is oxidised by the oxygen present in the high combustion temperatures. The same thing happens in both petrol and diesel engines, except the diesel produces more heat inside the combustion chamber because it runs lean (meaning more air) and at a higher compression ratio. Water injection doesn’t work so well for diesels, though, because it generates more soot. The M4 GTS system was developed by Bosch but is available to other manufacturers, and despite its use on the six-cylinder S55 M4 engine, Bosch says it’s ideal for three and four-cylinder engine applications. As things stand, virtually all turbocharged petrol cars exploit the cooling effect of injected petrol to help lower combustion chamber temperatures. As the fuel evaporates, the temperature drops (it’s called evaporative cooling). Water is more effective as it has a ‘high heat of vapourisation’, which means vapourising it consumes a lot of heat. As a result, injecting small amounts of water into the engine moments before injecting the fuel does a good job of cooling the incoming air – better than an intercooler alone can do. And the amount of water is small: Bosch says a few hundred millilitres will last over 60 miles. It does mean that the distilled water must be stored in a tank and replenished periodically, though. Bosch’s original figures show a 4% fuel consumption saving under Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Cycles (WLTC) protocols and 13% in real driving conditions. To keep it simple, the water is injected into the intake manifold’s plenum chamber rather than directly into the combustion chamber, making it easier to adapt for a wide range of engines. When Bosch offered its system to the wider market in 2016, it didn’t exactly have customers beating a path to the door, but as the screws tighten further on CO2 and toxic emissions, water injection may have a wider role to play. Why not use hydrogen? Running existing piston engines on hydrogen instead of petrol has been tried by many manufacturers but none has adopted the idea. Running the ideal (stoichiometric) air/fuel ratio creates a lot of NOx; double the amount of air and the NOx falls to nearly zero, but power is significantly reduced, too. So it’s a case of too much NOx or not enough power. READ MORE Under the skin: Why you can always count on ABS Under the skin: How Tesla is making cars think like humans Under the skin: How paint is improving EV batteries and autonomous cars View the full article
  7. Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up a week in gossip from across the automotive industry In this week's round-up of automotive gossip, we talk T-shirts with Ferrari, find out why Volkswagen feels "obligated" to reinvent old icons, chat hybrids with Toyota and more. Ferrari to a T The oft-made assertion that Ferrari makes more money selling branded hats and T-shirts than cars is “completely untrue”, according to a spokesman for the brand. Ferrari gets only a portion of the revenue from these products, with the rest going to the licensee. It has stated a new ambition to generate 10% of turnover from merchandise – a rise over today’s figure. VW's ID "obligation" Volkswagen has “an obligation” to make cars such as the ID Buzz (below) and ID Buggy – modern, electrified takes on the campervan and dune buggy – according to CEO Ralf Brandstätter, when asked if it was right to reinvent icons when VW is meant to be looking to the future. “These are cars only we could reinvent and demand from customers meant it was an obligation to do it,” he said. Mazda's sub plot Mazda is considering following brands such as Volvo by introducing a subscription service in the UK. MD Jeremy Thomson said: “Some customers, particularly millennials, demand a much simpler way of owning, driving, changing your car. It’s early thinking but we do see a place for it in the future.” Toyota's hybrid haven Toyota's hybrid-heavy sales mix allows it to continue producing models such as the Land Cruiser, Supra and GT86 beyond the introduction of tough fleet emissions targets in 2021, according to European vice-president, Matt Harrison. “Many manufacturers are rushing because they don’t have hybrids and are facing some pretty eye-watering penalties, but we don’t need to,” he said. READ MORE The man who buys the Ferraris you really shouldn't Volkswagen ID 3: vital EV revealed with up to 341-mile range Updated Toyota C-HR brings new hybrid engine, added kit View the full article
  8. We join the 1900bhp electric hypercar's preview programme, which puts would-be owners behind the wheel of a Formula E race car When was the last time you failed to wrap your head around an unbelievable performance statistic? Or, have you become so accustomed to reading silly numbers that it’s now rare for anything to make you stop and think? Personally, not since discovering that the McLaren F1 could hit 60mph in 3.2sec – a surreal time recorded by this magazine in 1994 – have I struggled for words. That was, at least, until a moment ago, when 37-year-old German engineer Réne Wollmann explained that the Battista – yet another eye-wateringly expensive entry on the rapidly lengthening ‘hypercar’ roster, with deliveries due in 2020 – will almost halve the legendary McLaren’s sprint time, courtesy of 1900bhp and 1700lb ft from four electric motors. Admittedly, an FIA World Rallycross Audi A1 will do the same, but this is where the truly mind-bending stat comes in. Here it is: stamp on the accelerator pedal at 80mph and the Battista will accumulate speed at the same rate as a Tesla Model S P100D does when launched from standstill. The American car, remember, reaches 60mph in 2.5 seconds. In fact, it’s so pulverisingly quick in ‘Ludicrous’ mode that footage of passengers attempting to suppress laughter, tears and possibly other bodily fluids has become a YouTube phenomenon. Presumably, the Battista will demolish it for straight-line pace, despite weighing more than two tonnes. It’s hard to imagine how that sort of paradigm-shifting acceleration will feel. Multi-millionaire collectors who nowadays don’t open their wallets for less than 700bhp won’t have experienced anything like it either, which is why – so the official line goes – Pininfarina is running pre-delivery workshops like the one Autocar is attending at the Circuit de Calafat. This a tight, technical track that sits on the Spanish coastline an hour’s drive south of Barcelona, and one that Mahindra Racing uses to develop its Formula E cars – Mahindra being the Indian car-making giant that bought a controlling stake in the world’s most famous coachbuilder in 2015. It is now refashioning Pininfarina as a maker of luxurious electric cars with a calling card of extraordinary speed. The product pipeline includes more practical vehicles, but similar to the strategy that Tesla initiated with the original Roadster in 2008, the brand is starting in the headline-grabbing, uppermost echelon of the sports car market. The Battista, which is to be constructed almost entirely of carbon fibre, and with cabin opulence comparable to a Bugatti, will cost around £2million. And, frankly, a Formula E car, or anything else the sensible side of a Top Fuel dragster, wouldn’t see which way it went. So far roughly 50 six-figure deposits have been taken, securing one third of the total production run. Given that this car is something of a step into the unknown, both for manufacturer and buyers, that’s an encouraging figure. At Calafat, owners-to-be and others who are still sitting on the fence get to meet the engineers and designers, can have a closer look at a rolling chassis (due to receive its full 1900bhp running gear in March) and, of course, drive the Formula E car. It’s also a chance for us to catch up with a project that is a bellwether for the future of performance cars. So far, electric supercars have done little to dispel the notion that they exist as one-trick ponies that are obsessed with lung-crushing acceleration. The Battista would appear to be no different, but if such a historied brand, with engineers of the calibre that Automobili Pininfarina now has on its books, can’t make driving this thing simple fun – and engaging on a level removed from the thrill of naked speed – perhaps it really is time for us to start worrying. In the last year, Pininfarina’s new technical headquarters in Munich has swelled from just six to more than 100 personnel. The original premises in Cambiano, Turin, are still operational and the cars will be assembled in Italy, but Munich has been crucial for recruitment. How crucial? The last entry on chief engineer Wollmann’s curriculum vitae reads ‘Head of Mercedes-AMG Project One’, which is the road-legal incarnation of Lewis Hamilton’s F1 wheels. Senior technical advisor Peter Tutzer played an integral role in developing both the Pagani Zonda and Bugatti Veyron, while chief technical officer Christian Jung helped implement Porsche’s Mission E – the ambitious project that led to the electric Taycan. Chassis engineer Giulio Morsone then comes fresh from developing the Ferrari Portofino. What they and others have to work with is a carbon monocoque, to which the car's aluminium double-wishbone suspension is directly mounted. This, along with the four-wheel-drive powertrain, is supplied by the part Porsche-owned Croatian start-up Rimac, whose Concept_Two will bear a strong technical resemblance to its Pininfarina cousin, only with a more track-oriented setup. The Italian car is intended as a much more fluid-riding grand tourer, with softer spring rates and, per the latest simulations, a default torque split of 35:65 front to rear. Despite its mid-engined shape and frightening pace, there should be something aristocratic about the Battista, and on the subject of Nordschleife simulation laps, Wollman admits there have been some, “but only for performance reasons and cooling predictions; we don’t want to go into that game”. “We’re not going for a track weapon, this is clear,” says Nick Heidfeld, echoing Wollmann. The former F1 driver will advise on the dynamic development for the Battista and a brief chat with him inside one of Calafat’s pit garages yields encouraging snippets. “The best steering I’ve ever experienced was in a McLaren 570S,” he says, though he admits that aiming for such rich tactility and actually achieving it are two different things. Still, it’s an admirable goal. A dedicated rear-wheel-drive mode that takes the smaller electric motors on the front axle offline would add another dimension to the driving experience and still leave the car with an adequate 1200bhp, and is a feature that Heidfeld is extremely keen to implement. Wollmann, though, says that he cannot understand why, if you are not at full steering lock and there is traction left in the tyres, you wouldn’t use the additional power for even more acceleration and agility. It’s an intriguing insight, and, with the complexities of torque vectoring, regenerative braking and the overarching need to safely contain unprecedented road-car performance, there will be further ideological predicaments during the car’s development. We’ll find out first-hand whether the Battista is a mould-breaking electric drivers’ car or merely another statistical marvel some time next year. Driving a Mahindra Formula E racer It’s doubtful that Ferrari would even consider allowing deposit-holders for even the SF90 Stradale to drive an actual Scuderia F1 car, but Mahindra ownership means Pininfarina can offer something to similar effect. Admittedly, a generation-one Formula E car with the wick turned down to hot-hatch power levels poses somewhat less of a health-and-safety headache for event planners than a 900bhp hybrid F1 missile, but it’s still a rare opportunity to drive an FIA single-seater at the top of its particular tree. So how does it feel? Surprisingly pure, in short. There’s no power-steering, traction-control or anti-lock brakes, and with so little steering lock and road-spec tyres that are easily overwhelmed by the torque, the cars are primed to spin. It’s a characteristic that's exacerbated by the lack of powertrain noise. When the rear axle begins to slide in a combustion-engined car, there’s an immediate flare of revs as the tyres over-rotate. As an audible signal, this can be just as useful in communicating what’s happening beneath you as the synapses in your backside, but it’s missing in this 2018-spec Mahindra M4 Electro and every other Formula E car. Also, for our short stint at Calafat circuit, and as is the custom at any event in the series, there’s not a single tyre-warmer to be found in the pit-garage, so extra care is required. As for the link between Formula E and the Battista, beyond the marketing opportunities it’s tenuous, with battery management and aerodynamics the principle areas of crossover. Ultimately, the road car will be a far quicker, more complex and capable device. READ MORE Pininfarina Battista: 1900bhp EV hits the road in new images The greatest cars by Pininfarina Pininfarina teams up with engineering giants for new EV platform View the full article
  9. BMW i4 German firm claims 4 Series-based EV, due in 2021, will be a true performance saloon BMW has confirmed that its forthcoming i4 electric saloon will produce 523bhp, with the Tesla Model 3 rival featuring a top speed of around 125mph. The new model, due to go into production in 2021 following the forthcoming iX3, will be the German firm’s first electric saloon. Along with the regular 4 Series, the new EV was previewed by the bold 4 Series Gran Coupe concept at the Frankfurt motor show. BMW claims the i4 “heralds a new era of driving pleasure”, and will feature the firm’s “hallmark brand driving pleasure in a particularly concentrated form.” BMW has released new official shots of the i4 undergoing winter testing, and has confirmed that it will make use of its fifth-generation eDrive system, which will also be used on the iX3 – due in 2020 – and the advanced iNext, which is set for launch in in 2021. BMW claims the 523bhp motors will allow for a 0-62mph time of around four seconds. The firm says that output has been chosen to mirror the power of a V8 engine in current BMW models, and claims that it will offer “outstanding performance characteristics and exceptionally high efficiency”. The latest eDrive system is built around a modular system featuring the electric motor, transmission and power electronics in a single housing, which BMW says means it can be used for a range of different models and power outputs. The i4 will feature an 80kWh high-voltage battery pack that weighs around 550kg and gives a claimed range of around 373 miles. The battery can be charged at rates of up to 150kW. As shown in previous prototype shots, a clear visual link between the i4 and the latest 3 Series can be seen. The i4 will share much of its design with the upcoming second-generation 4 Series. However, a side-on view reveals that the new car appears higher off the ground (both in terms of roof height and ground clearance) than the current 4 Series, likely due to a raised floor to accommodate the sizeable long-range battery. Earlier this year, BMW revealed that the i4 had been tested at its cold weather facility in Arjeplog, Sweden, with the goal of determining the durability of the models' batteries, electric motors and suspension systems. The i4 is scheduled to be built on the same line as standard 3 Series models at BMW's factory in Munich, Germany. To ensure a smooth production process with existing petrol, diesel and hybrid models, the manufacturer is already running assembly tests with pre-production versions. The expansion of the i sub-brand follows a ruling by the EU to enforce a fleet average CO2 emission reduction of 35% by 2030. The ruling effectively spells an end to the combustion engine as a sole source of propulsion for high-volume cars sold in Europe by the end of the next decade. This was expected by BMW’s top management, who initiated the acceleration of development of both long-range plug-in hybrids and electric models in a board meeting held earlier this year. Speaking to Autocar at the 2018 Paris motor show, chairman Harald Krüger confirmed the altered i division plan, which aims to enable BMW to offer more electric cars than any rival premium brand in the short term. It calls for the introduction of up to five dedicated i models by the end of 2021, with tentative steps to expand to 12 electric models within the whole BMW Group, including Mini and Rolls-Royce, by 2025. Krüger has also given the green light for 25 new plug-in hybrid models to be introduced by 2025 in order to meet the 2030 target. Among the models at the centre of BMW’s electrification strategy are a further developed version of the continuously evolving i3, the Mini SE, the iX3 and the i4. BMW will follow that with a more advanced range of premium electric cars employing solid-state batteries and autonomous driving features, previewed on the recent iNext concept car. Talking about the i4, Krüger said: “The leading factors that will set it apart are fantastic design, which is very different to anything else on the road, and the fact that it is lighter and therefore more dynamic than anything we see on the market today, thanks to the materials we will use. Couple that with the connectivity technology we are constantly developing and we are confident it will lead the market.” BMW's electric revolution begins in the sales charts BMW’s sales of electrified models have increased rapidly in the past two years. In January 2017, it registered 5232 plug-in vehicles globally, but that figure had more than doubled to 13,271 by December. The company registered on average more than 10,000 electrified models per month in 2018. These registrations are more significant viewed as a percentage of BMW’s total sales figures. In January 2017, this was an unremarkable 3.2%, but in August 2018, it was 6.7%. Surprisingly, the most popular plug-in BMW Group model in 2017 was the i3 – a car that has been in showrooms since 2013 and failed to meet targets for many of its years on sale. A total of 31,482 were registered in 2017, nearly double the number in 2014. Despite this, BMW still has a long way to go to achieve its 2020 target of 500,000 electrified vehicles sold annually. READ MORE BMW iNext: high-tech electric SUV seen with less disguise 2019 BMW 3 Series review BMW i3 review View the full article
  10. Bloodhound LSR British machine will now focus on development and fund-raising ahead of land speed record bid in 2020 or 2021 The Bloodhound LSR reached a new top speed of 628mph as it wrapped up testing in South Africa ahead of a planned assault on the land speed record in around a year. The British machine, driven by current land speed record holder Andy Green, has completed a series of test runs of increasing speed on a specially prepared track on the Hakskeen Pan over the past month. Powered by a EJ200 Eurofighter Typhoon jet engine, Bloodhound completed its final test run with Green accelerating to 615mph before lifting off the throttle. The run was part of a test programme to evaluate how much drag Bloodhound generates at a variety of speeds, with data gathered from 192 sensors then compared with the figures previously calculated using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations. That data will determine the size and power of the Nammo-built rocket that will be fitted to Bloodhound for the final record bid. “The stability and confidence the car gives me as a driver is testament to the years of world class engineering that has been invested in her by team members past and present,” said Green. “With all the data generated by reaching 628mph [1010 km/h], we’re in a great position to focus on setting a new world land speed record in the next year or so.” Ian Warhurst, the British businessman who stepped in to save the project from administration, said hitting the speed was “a real milestone”. He added: “We will now move our focus to identifying new sponsors and the investment needed to bringing Bloodhound back out to Hakskeen Pan in the next 12 to 18 months’ time.” The current land speed record, set by Green in Thrust SSC in 1997, is 763.035mph. When Bloodhound was first launched, the ultimate target was to try and eclipse 1000mph. Read more Bloodhound LSR tops 500mph in high-speed testing Bloodhound saved as buyer is found for 1000mph project Inside the facotry building the 1000mph car View the full article
  11. 2.0R: As a more economical alternative to the 3.0R, it's worth checking out The understated yet potent Subaru Legacy 3.0R Spec B is the quintessential Q-car – and it also makes a great used buy The Subaru Impreza gets all the attention, but in the mid-noughties more mature enthusiasts, put off by that model’s hard-charging image, might have been tempted by the larger Legacy 3.0R Spec B, in saloon and estate forms, instead. It was launched in 2004 but here we’re interested in the facelifted version of 2006, because there are more for sale and they were usefully improved. Interior quality took a big leap, the optional five-speed automatic gained paddle shifts and a new drive mode system, called SI-Drive, was introduced. The grille and head and tail-lights were smartened up while the car gained a more purposeful, sophisticated look thanks to delicately bulging wheel arches, an inoffensive roof-mounted spoiler and indicators integrated into the door mirrors. Alloys became smart 18in, 10-spoke affairs that still look good. The already crisp suspension was retuned (it features inverted Bilstein STI-style front struts) and the steering made a touch meatier. What went unchanged was the standard-fit four-wheel-drive system with viscous centre differential and a limited-slip diff, and the 3.0-litre flat six continued to make a respectable 241bhp for 0-62mph in 6.7sec (autos take a yawning 1.2sec longer). A manual is clearly the pick but they’re rare. At least the auto’s paddle shifters help maximise what performance remains after the torque-converter ’box absorbed its share. It’s a real driver’s performance car but, should you push things too hard in the corners, Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) will step in to brake individual wheels and straighten the car out. Switching it off gives the Legacy a greater rear-drive bias for a more laugh-out-loud experience. The 3.0R Spec B is a Q-car, then, and no more so than in estate form when its huge boot provides an effective distraction to the main event – namely, surprising other people from the lights. Not that it or the saloon should stoop to such levels. Instead, it’s best treated as a civilised, all-weather cruiser with a touch of hooligan in reserve. Business car it was not, due to its poor economy and high CO2 figure. Brace yourself for those two, but at least there’s the three-mode SI-Drive system with its economy-minded Intelligent setting that makes this 3.0-litre Subaru feel like a dozy 2.0. It’s operated via a rotary controller and steering wheel-mounted buttons. Cars priced below £5000 tend to be UK-registered examples with high mileages. However, if their service histories and unmarked interiors (even the leather seats show little signs of distress) are a guide, they tend to attract caring owners. From around £8000, lower-mileage Japanese imports heave into view. They look bright enough and, assuming they’ve been prepped to satisfy UK regulations, are well worth considering as a less lairy but no less accomplished alternative to the ubiquitous Impreza. How to get one in your garage An owner's view Mark Harris: “I’ve had my Legacy 3.0R Spec B estate for nine years. My wife was against an Impreza so I bought the next best thing. It’s a 2006 auto and with 173,000 miles. It’s been extremely reliable. I’m fussy and change the oil every 7000 miles, and the gearbox and diff oils every two years. The engine is bulletproof. I was told Subaru turned down the power so the Impreza wasn’t overshadowed, so it’s fairly unstressed. I’m the one suffering stress: road tax is £500 and economy rarely goes above 25mpg.” Buyer beware... ■ Engine: Check for leaks from the front timing chain case and the lower part of the engine. Misfires may be due to the most inaccessible pair of spark plugs not having been replaced in years, so try to check their condition. Inspect the head gasket for leaks and inside the oil filler neck for emulsified water and oil. Check the external coolant pipes for corrosion, especially on higher-mileage cars. ■ Transmission: Generally reliable but in any case feel for worn synchros on manuals and hesitant changes on autos. Also on autos, check that paddle changes are instant. Drive a few cars to gauge normal levels of drivetrain noise, although driveshafts and centre shafts are fairly trouble-free. ■ Suspension: With the car on a ramp, inspect the condition of the front track control arm bushes. The model goes through the rear bushes on the front wishbones, so inspect those, too. At the back, the front bushes on the rear trailing arm can tear but may still pass an MOT. Subaru OE replacement bushes are perfectly good. ■ Brakes: The front, sliding calipers are prone to seizing. The rears tend to give little trouble. ■ Bodywork and chassis: Resists corrosion well so any you do find is probably repair related. ■ Interior: Check the SI-Drive system scrolls through its driving modes, and on the test drive feel for clear changes in character between each mode (Sport Sharp should be a world away from Intelligent mode). Also worth knowing All the specialists agree that the Legacy’s Achilles heel is the exhaust’s Y-shaped centre section, which rusts and starts blowing. A replacement section is expensive but, fortunately, if it’s not too far gone, it is repairable. How much to spend £2000-£3999: Choice of 2006-reg estates and saloons, including a very clean 92,000-mile automatic saloon with a fully documented service history for £3995. £4000-£6999: Lower-mileage cars, including a 2006-reg automatic saloon with 62,000 miles and full service history for £4990. Also some low-mileage but pre-facelift Japanese imports from around £5995. £7000-£10,000: More 2006-reg Japanese import estates with around 65,000 miles from £8000. Also includes a UK-spec 2008-reg automatic estate with 62,000 miles, full service history and black leather for £7990. One we found Subaru Legacy 3.0R Spec B, 2006/56, 92,000 miles, £3995: Nice 3.0R in the right colour and with full history, black leather trim and a tilt and slide glass sunroof. At this distance it looks to be a wonderful example of this highly underrated model. READ MORE Toyota and Subaru to develop new electric platform and SUV Subaru plots UK sales comeback New Subaru Outback SUV launched View the full article
  12. Mitsubishi Mirage Japanese city car is redesigned inside and out but will retain its 1.2-litre petrol engine for UK sale The Mitsubishi Mirage has been updated for 2020 with a refreshed look and new interior tech, although it's set to retain its current engine. The revamped version of the Hyundai i10 rival has been revealed ahead of its public debut at the Thailand motor show in Bangkok and is due to go on sale in the UK early next year. The Mirage has been given an exterior styling revamp to reflect Mitsubishi’s current Dynamic Shield design concept, featuring a redesigned grille and new LED headlights designed to make the car appear wider. The city car also gets a new-look rear bumper, new 15in alloy wheels and two new paint colours. Mitsubishi has revamped the interior in a bid to make it more user-friendly, including redesigning the front armrests. Upper trim levels feature a new-look fabric and synthetic leather upholstery, while the firm’s new Smartphone Display Audio infotainment system will be available as an option. That comes with a 7.0in touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The 79bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine will continue as the sole powerplant offered in the UK, with either a manual or CVT automatic gearbox. Full UK specifications and pricing are due to be revealed early next year. The Mirage will be displayed in Thailand alongside the Attrage, its saloon sibling, which isn’t sold in the UK. READ MORE Mitsubishi's journey from rally royalty to plug-in privateer Mitsubishi plans new SUV strategy Mitsubishi L200 pick-up review Autocar's top 10 city cars 2019 View the full article
  13. The famous pony badge has been applied to an electric SUV - and could be used elsewhere in the future Ford is considering launching further new Mustang-badged models in the future – raising the possibility of the muscle car nameplate effectively becoming a performance sub-brand. The long-running name and pony badge logo is being used on the new Mustang Mach-E electric SUV, Ford’s first bespoke EV. It will be the first time in the 55-year history of the Mustang that the name has been applied to an entirely new model type. The development team originally started work on a different EV project, but the project underwent substantial changes when it was decided to apply the Mustang name. Murat Gueler, Ford’s European design chief, said that decision could lead to more new Mustang models. “The Mach-E is our step into the future, without ignoring history,” Gueler told Autocar. “There’s a lot of emotion with the Mustang, and it’s time to progress that and make it spread wider.” Notably, to match the style of the Mustang, the Mach-E uses a reworked version of the model’s pony badge, rather than the Ford Blue Oval logo. Gueler said that decision was both to strength then Mustang links and “communicate the new-ness of this”, adding that: “We’ve talked about building a family.” He added: “The latest Mustang in Europe has gained another level of popularity, so we have a bigger base for the Mustang brand. The Mustang and the Porsche 911 are the most famous sports cars on the planet. Mustang is a big nameplate and it’s about time we applied electrification to it. “People now understand we can do different things to different nameplates quite successfully.” Ford is also working on new EV projects to follow the Mach-E, but Gueler added that they wouldn’t simply produce new Mustang-inspired EV models of different sizes. “We don’t want to take a Russian doll approach, where you can’t tell them apart other than the size of the car, but we want a family feel where a Ford EV starts to build off this concept,” he said. “But we’d never do a smaller version of this - if we did a smaller vehicle it would have different proportions.” Q&A: Murat Gueler, Ford of Europe design chief Question: How did you approach the design of a Mustang-inspired EV? Answer: “It’s not literal, just inspired by. It’s about doing it in the right way so it’s not too banal and people go ‘oh, they just tried to copy a Mustang’. We wanted some of that cool design. You can look at this and see it’s not a normal combustion-engined car, but it has some of that Mustang flavour.” Question: Was the plan always to make your electric SUV a Mustang? Answer: “This started as another project in around 2014, and about two years ago it switched to this. The design had a big influence: the whole structure changed, the technology inside changed. We rebooted the whole programme. The designers came up with this concept and everyone went ‘oh, this is good’.” Question: While it uses the Mustang logo, there isn’t a single Blue Oval on the car. Why do that for such an important car for Ford? Answer: “We did our research and customers are totally okay with this. It’s the same on the Mustang itself, and it communicates how unique this car is.” READ MORE Mustang reborn as Model Y rival Opinion: Why Ford has gambled on calling its electric EV a Mustang Exclusive: the future of Ford, according to its bosses Ford to launch three new model names by 2024 in Europe View the full article
  14. The Mustang badge brings upmarket appeal to the brand, but success will ultimately depend on the car On a recent trip to the United States, I met a Mustang-owning Texan who didn’t much like electric cars, but “I hear there’s an electric Mustang coming, so maybe I’ll like that.” I fear he may be disappointed by the new Mustang Mach-E: there’s a big difference between an electric Mustang and an electric SUV ‘inspired’ by the muscle car. Still, the Mustang Mach-E shows promise. To my eyes – and I should say I reckon it looks better in the metal than it does in images – it echoes the muscle car’s style without resorting to pastiche, managing to look relatively sleek for a large electric SUV. It’s certainly more desirable than, say, a Kuga EV would be – and that’s exactly what Ford is counting on. The huge success of the latest Mustang has shown the value and heritage built up in the nameplate and badge – which is arguably stronger than Ford’s own Blue Oval. There’s a reason the Mustang survived the cull of Ford’s non-SUV and pick-up models in the USA, and it’s also proving increasingly popular in Europe. Such is the value of the pony badge that the Mustang also appeals to a level of customer that other Ford models can’t: how many of the firm’s other models can legitimately be called Porsche rivals? Ford spent years searching for premium brands, such as Jaguar and Aston Martin, to buy in order to broaden its market reach. It now seems to realise that, with Mustang, it’s had one all along – and the Mach-E appears the first step in expanding the nameplate from a single model to a full sub-brand. How successful that it will depend on how successful the Mustang Mach-E is. And that will involve convincing current Mustang fans to accept the nameplate can be applied to something that’s very definitely not a muscle car. Still, a Ford-badged EV could never battle with a Tesla on badge appeal among EV owners, but a Mustang-based EV might succeed in doing so – assuming expectations among current Mustang owners, in Texas and beyond, are kept somewhat in check. READ MORE Mustang reborn as Model Y rival Ford could expand Mustang line-up further in future Ford Capri could still be revived, says design boss Ford to launch three new model names by 2024 in Europe View the full article
  15. The Mustang badge brings upmarket appeal to the brand, but success will ultimately depend on the car On a recent trip to the United States, I met a Mustang-owning Texan who didn’t much like electric cars, but “I hear there’s an electric Mustang coming, so maybe I’ll like that.” I fear he may be disappointed by the new Mustang Mach-E: there’s a big difference between an electric Mustang and an electric SUV ‘inspired’ by the muscle car. Still, the Mustang Mach-E shows promise. To my eyes – and I should say I reckon it looks better in the metal than it does in images – it echoes the muscle car’s style without resorting to pastiche, managing to look relatively sleek for a large electric SUV. It’s certainly more desirable than, say, a Kuga EV would be – and that’s exactly what Ford is counting on. The huge success of the latest Mustang has shown the value and heritage built up in the nameplate and badge – which is arguably stronger than Ford’s own Blue Oval. There’s a reason the Mustang survived the cull of Ford’s non-SUV and pick-up models in the USA, and it’s also proving increasingly popular in Europe. Such is the value of the pony badge that the Mustang also appeals to a level of customer that other Ford models can’t: how many of the firm’s other models can legitimately be called Porsche rivals? Ford spent years searching for premium brands, such as Jaguar and Aston Martin, to buy in order to broaden its market reach. It now seems to realise that, with Mustang, it’s had one all along – and the Mach-E appears the first step in expanding the nameplate from a single model to a full sub-brand. How successful that it will depend on how successful the Mustang Mach-E is. And that will involve convincing current Mustang fans to accept the nameplate can be applied to something that’s very definitely not a muscle car. Still, a Ford-badged EV could never battle with a Tesla on badge appeal among EV owners, but a Mustang-based EV might succeed in doing so – assuming expectations among current Mustang owners, in Texas and beyond, are kept somewhat in check. READ MORE Mustang reborn as Model Y rival Ford could expand Mustang line-up further in future Ford Capri could still be revived, says design boss Ford to launch three new model names by 2024 in Europe View the full article
  • Create New...