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  1. Brabham's latest preview image for the BT62 Track-focused £1m BT62 will get a huge rear wing and a power-to-weight ratio of 720bhp per tonne Brabham Automotive has released a new preview image of its upcoming BT62 hypercar, which is due to be revealed next week. The new picture is of the car's badge and follows another image that showed the rear LED lights and a large carbonfibre rear wing in darkness. Brabham describes its model as a "low-slung, race-inspired car". It will cost £1 million and be powered by a 5.4-litre V8 engine, with a power-to-weight ratio of 720bhp per tonne. The new company is led by former Formula 1 racer and Le Mans winner David Brabham (and son of three-time world champion Sir Jack). Brabham says the BT62, a track-focused hypercar, will have a dry weight of 972kg and be able to produce more than 1200kg of downforce. For comparison, the McLaren Senna GTR produces around 1000kg of downforce. Despite the fact that the BT62 has not been shown in public yet, Brabham is already taking orders for the machine, with first deliveries expected later this year. Owners will be given membership of a track-focused driver development programme. After the car is launched on 2 May following a "rigorous and extensive engineering programme", the public will be able to view it at a ticket-only event on 4-5 May that will also include a display of Brabham racing cars and memorabilia. Footage (below) released last month features a car at full throttle blasting along a pit straight, offering some insight into what the BT62 will be like. A screen grab of the moment the car passes the camera (above) appears to show a Le Mans-prototype-like silhouette, while the V8 engine revs hard like a racing car motor, with a tone not too dissimilar to that of the eight-cylinder unit used in Formula 2. The car is described by its maker as one "that has been built to set blistering lap times", suggesting it could be as focused as the McLaren Senna. "Unquestionably fast but about far more than outright speed, the Brabham BT62 is resolutely focused on uncompromising performance, handling and driver involvement," the company said. "Born from a unique and historic racing pedigree, Brabham Automotive’s first car has been designed and engineered to demand more from the driver and reward the limited few who will rise to its challenge." The BT62 name resumes a discontinued lineage of racing cars produced by the original Brabham brand. Brabham has been synonymous with motor racing since its founder, Sir Jack Brabham, first took to the F1 grid in 1955. David Brabham (below) said: “The Brabham philosophy has always seen drivers extract every ounce of available performance from their cars and themselves. That same spirit lives strong within Brabham Automotive today and its first project, the BT62, honours the legacy of the cars that have previously carried the iconic Brabham name." He launched the company in February, two years after the name was first registered at Companies House. He has long expressed a desire to return his family name to motorsport; last year, he told Autocar that he wanted “to see the name back on track”, suggesting the launch of the company could lead to a motorsport programme in the future. As revealed by Autocar last year, a racing re-entry that follows the launch of a car brand would mirror the strategy employed by McLaren Automotive. Formula 1 2018: everything you need to know A Brabham spokesman declined to comment on the return to racing, stating that the company has been “continually approached on various projects”. Brabham had been linked speculatively with the Force India F1 team, which, it was believed, could be taken over amid an ongoing legal case involving its owner, business tycoon Vijay Mallya. However, Force India is competing in this year's championship, quelling any possibility of an imminent takeover. More content: Sergio Marchionne: diesel may never recover Abarth 124 GT 2018 review View the full article
  2. The Fusion is the US version of the Mondeo Blue Oval focuses on strongest-selling models and electrification Ford will drop the Fiesta hatchback and Fusion saloon (the American version of the Mondeo) from its US line-up by 2020. The brand will also axe its larger Taurus saloon, meaning the only cars Ford will sell in its home market from the next decade will be the Mustang (below) and upcoming Focus Active crossover. Ford's remaining US range will be SUVs and pick-ups, although it might introduce new ‘white paper’ vehicles that the brand describes as combining “the best attributes of cars and utilities, such as higher ride height, space and versatility”. The changes come amid shifting consumer demand, which has seen sales of SUV models grow and demand for saloons falter. “We are committed to taking the appropriate actions to drive profitable growth and maximise the returns of our business over the long term,” said Ford CEO Jim Hackett. “Where we can raise the returns of underperforming parts of our business by making them more fit, we will. If appropriate returns are not on the horizon, we will shift that capital to where we can play and win.” Stephen Odell: the man who saved Ford in Europe Ford said in its 2018 first quarter statement that it would introduce hybrid-electric powertrains to “high-volume, profitable vehicles” such as the F-150 pick-up, Mustang and Explorer, Escape and Bronco SUVs. The company will bring its first battery electric model to market in 2020; a further 15 will follow by 2022. The brand also highlighted autonomous technology and the creation of a mobility platform as key business opportunities it will invest in. Ford said the changes will not require additional investment but will instead be enabled by freeing up $11.5 billion (about £10bn) from existing programmes. Ford now expects to spend $29bn (about £25.4bn) between 2019 and 2022; it says that is a $5bn (£4.4bn) reduction on previous estimates, thanks to cost-efficiency improvements. The company recorded a 7% increase in revenue and a 9% increase in net income to $1.7bn in the first quarter. It boosted revenue by 18% across Europe. More content: View the full article
  3. French brand demonstrates its vision for a driver-focused electric performance model Design elements of the DS X E-Tense concept will be seen in upcoming DS models, including the DS 3 Sportback that's due to be unveiled later this year. DS design boss Thierry Metroz said the X—shape signature, seen on the steering wheel and side profile near the front wheels (see pic below) will be seen in the next DS models. The front and rear light signature, which sees the lights go all the way across the front and rear, could also be possible, said Metroz. However, if these were to come to fruition, it would be 4 to 5 years away. “We are working with engineering to see if it's feasible,” he said. On display at the Beijing motor show, aside from demonstrating upcoming new design features, the concept is said to illustrate DS's vision for a performance car in 2035. The three-seater, which places the driver in the middle in a low-set position said to be inspired by motorsport, uses two electric motors. Each is located inboard of a front wheel and together they produce a combined 533bhp in standard form. In circuit mode, their combined output increases to 1341bhp. The X E-Tense is said to benefit from DS’s Formula E technology, and this is evident with its use of a carbonfibre chassis and suspension based on springs and torsion bars. Its striking design centres on its sleek bodyshape. The car features a pair of scissor doors. DS said it has created this concept as a contrast to the “characterless” mobility concepts that have become popular in recent months. The firm’s decision to reveal the concept in China might have been influenced by its recent downturn in sales in that market. Last year, DS sales in China were down 47.3%. DS fared better elsewhere, however, with overall sales excluding China up by 7.5%. The electric concept cements DS's intentions to produce electric vehicles. The brand is set to become the quickest adopter of electric power within its parent company, the PSA Group. It is planning to launch an electrified version of every model in its range. The new 7 Crossback SUV will be the first to start the trend when an E-Tense version arrives next year with 296bhp and an electric-only range of 60 miles. Another, smaller electrified SUV will arrive shortly after. Additional reporting by Rachel Burgess Read more Carlos Tavares: electric cars could be more problematic than people think Audi reveals new e-tron Vision Gran Turismo View the full article
  4. UK car manufacturing down by 13.3% in March

    Continued uncertainty and adverse weather conditions hindered output UK car manufacturing fell for the eighth consecutive month in March, driven by shrinking domestic demand amid continued economic uncertainty. Car production output in the UK totalled 147,471 units, with the number destined for UK customers 17.7% down on March 2017’s figure. Export demand fell by 11.9%, dwarfing the 0.8% decline seen in February as demand in several markets dropped. The latest results mean output for the first quarter of 2018 fell 6.3% compared with the same period in 2017. In total, 440,426 cars left UK production lines, with almost 80% of these exported. Exports for the first three months of the year were down 4% year on year, but this was dwarfed by the 14.1% decline in UK demand. Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) CEO Mike Hawes said this continued decrease in output is of “considerable concern”, but that it also highlighted the importance of ensuring more certainty about post-Brexit trading relationships. UK new car market suffers biggest decline in Europe “Maintaining free and frictionless trade is an absolute priority – it has been fundamental to our past success and is key to our future growth,” he said. Jaguar Land Rover has been the most active of Britain’s car makers in adapting to shrinking demand for new vehicles. It recently confirmed that 1000 agency staff members would not have their contracts renewed. The recent stormy weather was also labelled by the SMMT as a factor in output reduction, although the UK industry’s decline is not expected to slow any time soon. SMMT calculations show that the UK car industry represents 10% of the UK’s total gross domestic product. The organisation said that Britain’s vehicle and component manufacturers are responsible for 13% of the country’s exports. More content: New Bosch diesel tech to 'fix' NOx problem Volvo XC40 T5 Twin Engine revealed View the full article
  5. Porsche 911 GT3 RS 2018 review

    The new Porsche 911 GT3 RS This intoxicating farewell to the current 911 generation redefines just how brilliant a driver's Porsche can be Details, details, details. Yes, there’s a new Porsche 911 GT3 RS and that means there are lots of them. This is how GT Porsches go.Is there a more consistent, more progressively evolutionary range of sports cars? GT comes, GT goes, probably a 3, maybe a 2, sometimes an RS, another GT arrives: all towards the latter end of a particular 911’s model cycle. All with minor but significant upgrades over the last. And, usually, redefining just how lovely you thought a driver’s Porsche could be.The latest evolution comes the form of the ultimate naturally-aspirated ‘991.2’ generation 911, if you like these codes (and they seem to be the only way to keep up, sometimes), which will remain on sale until this generation of 911 goes out of production next year.So, of 991 types of 911, there was 991 1st generation GT3 and GT3 RS, then 991 2nd generation GT3, then turbocharged GT2 RS, and now GT3 RS, the 911 with “the closest link to motorsport we have ever had”, says GT boss Andreus Preuninger.That’s saying something, given the first ever GT3 RS, the 996 (do keep up), was created solely because Porsche needed to homologate two suspension uprights for its race cars. The engineers thought they might sell 700 and ended up shifting a couple of thousand. So these days marketing people as much as engineers drive the GT models forward.This generation GT3 RS is not limited in volume, per se, but even at £141,346 there won’t be enough for everyone. They can only make so many alongside the regular 911s people also buy, and impending emissions regulations will also limit the numbers that can be registered in the EU – 1000 by this September, more next year, while Porsche works out supply deals and then seems generally surprised how many people want these specials: magnesium wheels, for example, mean that until 2019 you won’t be able to specify a ‘Weissach Package’ GT3 RS, which sheds 28kg on top of an already lightweight build, because the magnesium wheels – of exactly the size and design apart from the inscription on them – are all needed for GT2 RS models, on which everybody is specifying the Weissach option, again to Porsche’s surprise.But I’m getting slightly ahead of myself. Easily done with a car like this: you start talking about one thing, and get lost into the web of details that takes you to.For example: the NACA ducts on the bonnet. Just two small inlets. They suck air inwards and force it down to the brakes, but from there we can talk brakes or drag or downforce. Brake-wise: you can get standard steel discs or upgrade to carbon-ceramics, which are lighter but considerably more expensive; so if you’re spending loads of time on track it’s worth keeping the steels, perhaps counter-intuitively.Drag? Those NACA ducts shove cool air into the wheelarch, but high pressure air in the wheelarch is a bunch of air you don’t want, so the wheel spokes are designed like rotors to fan air outwards, sucking it out of the arches. That reduces not just drag but also lift, as does the fact that, thanks to those bonnet ducts, vents in the front bumper that would have been used for brake cooling can instead direct fast moving air to the underbody, and fast moving air is good because it creates a low pressure area which aids the creation of downforce. The wider sills create a larger underfloor area for the same purpose, as does a rear diffuser.And so it goes on: every detail leads to a hundred other things, all of which offer tiny percentage improvements of performance and handling, and added together they represent a step-change over the models they compliment or replace. It’s hard to know where to begin and end.In short, though? The GT3 RS is a 4.0-litre, naturally-aspirated 911 whose 513bhp engine is a lot like the 911 Cup race car’s. There is rose-jointed suspension like a GT2 RS (and Cup car), spring rates close to the 911 Cup’s and almost as much downforce as a Cup car.You’ve had to do a bit more than remove the registration number and fit a race number, but to convert from road car to race car is closer here than in anything this side of a Caterham. (Bar a Citroen C1, perhaps.)View the full article
  6. BMW says the new 8 Series will mix sports car thrills and GT luxuries. We took an early drive to find out if that’s true When the new BMW 8 Series goes into production towards the end of this year, there’ll be an M850i xDrive Coupé version that will be thumped along by a powerful twin-turbocharged V8 engine. The 4.4-litre motor in it will develop much more than 500bhp and it’ll drive all four wheels. What you need to know about the car is that it’s every bit as accelerative as that horsepower figure suggests, and it’s also nimble and athletic. But what’s most remarkable about the pre-production 8 Series I drove for a few hours on the best roads in North Wales, though, is that it won’t even be the fastest model. That honour will belong to the full-fat M8. We don’t yet know when the M8 will arrive or exactly how much power it’ll have, but you can bet your house on it being even faster and even more potent than the 592bhp M5. It will sit right at the head of BMW’s model line-up, like a navy’s flagship. The M850i, which you can see here in camo-wrapped pre-production form? It’s just the warm-up act. “This is as close as we’ve ever got to a full M car with an M Performance model,” says 8 Series line director Markus Flasch. I won’t disagree. How BMW has honed the new 8 Series In the latter stages of 8 Series development, BMW has deployed a team of powertrain and chassis engineers, plus a small fleet of 8 Series development cars, to the UK. Over the course of a week or so, those engineers will pound around North Wales to make sure the chassis tuning and the engine and gearbox calibration actually work on our roads. “The UK is an important market for the 8 Series,” says vehicle dynamics engineer Jos van As. “Your roads are often very narrow, sometimes only a bit wider than the car. That means you need the steering to be really precise. The roads are also bumpy and very undulating, so we need to make sure the chassis can deal with them.” Dutchman van As is ultimately responsible for the way the M850i drives. Encouragingly, his car-guy credentials are as impeccable as they come. Having rallied an Autobianchi Abarth while at university, he now owns an Ariel Atom, which he has fiddled with to improve its ride and handling. He also drives an E30-generation 325e and laughs like a schoolboy when he describes the car’s tail-happy handling. The new 8 Series, he says, is a sports car and a grand tourer in one. It should slot into the sizeable gap between the Porsche 911 and Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupé – a niche that has been curiously unoccupied for several years. It’s important to note, though, that the 8 Series isn’t merely a 7 Series with a rakish two-door bodyshell. Its multi-link rear suspension actually has more in common with the smaller 5 Series and it sits on coil rather than air springs. The new model is shorter than the outgoing 6 Series, both in terms of overall length and wheelbase. It is slightly wider, though, and sits much further up the sports carfood chain. Van As doesn’t want you to think of it as a direct replacement for the 6 Series. What should we make of his claim that the M850i is both a sports car and a GT, though? We’re so used to marketing departments trotting out exactly that sort of unlikely declaration that we’re immune to it now. However, when it comes not from a clean-cut office type in a slim-fit suit and pointy shoes but from a straight-talking engineer in a zip-up raincoat, it might just be time to sit up and take notice. The M850i is so loaded up with intelligent control systems and cutting-edge chassis technologies that it could well be the cleverest car BMW has produced. It has adaptive dampers, of course, but also rear-wheel steering, an electronically controlled limited-slip differential in the rear axle and a four-wheel drive system that can intuit exactly where power is needed and divert it there in double-quick time. It’s also available with active anti-roll bars – the only one of the various bits of chassis technology that won’t be standard fit – that can tweak the roll resistance at either end of the car in real time to make it more agile or more stable. It’s all about reducing the compromise between long-distance comfort and back-road agility. Only with these various control systems can BMW possibly build a car that’s cosseting and refined one moment, then sharp and responsive the next. It isn’t enough just to bolt on lots of sophisticated hardware, though. More than anything else, the M850i is an exercise in integration; in making sure all of the systems complement one another and work together towards the same goal. It’s the seamlessness of this integration of which van As and his team are most proud. In fact, the new 8 Series is a matter of enormous pride to BMW’s engineers. This is Flasch, van As and the rest of their colleagues showing the world exactly what they’re capable of. Early impressions of the BMW M850i Having driven a development car as quickly as I dared along the spectacular B4501, I can tell you they are capable of remarkable things. There is still a little fine-tuning and refinement work to be done, but the M850i already feels expertly judged. The ride quality is very good, even over rough patches of road, striking a fine balance between pliancy and composure. There is actually enough control and precision in Comfort suspension mode that you can whip the M850i along a winding Snowdonia road at huge speed and have fun doing it; but by switching into Sport+, you get tighter control and sharper responses. The firmest damper mode has been tuned to work on the road as well as the racetrack, so it isn’t hopelessly stiff. The very top of the brake pedal is unnecessarily sharp right now and the electronically assisted steering is perhaps not the most intuitive right away, but it does at least allow you to position the car on the road precisely where you want it. The four-wheel drive system, however, is a triumph. At road speeds, you simply aren’t aware that the M850i drives both axles. It feels like a rear-driven car with infinite traction. The 523bhp V8, meanwhile, is enormously strong and sounds purposeful without being obnoxiously loud. There is no doubt that a 911 is sharper and more engaging still and the S63 Coupé is even more luxurious. I am certain the M850i is more broadly capable than both, though. If BMW’s M division doesn’t pull out all the stops with the M8 – if it doesn’t produce a car of once-in-a-generation quality – it is in very real danger of being beaten at its own game. Read more BMW 6 Series review BMW 5 Series review BMW M6 review View the full article
  7. New Bosch diesel tech to ‘fix’ NOx problem

    German engineering firm pushes emissions far below required levels using existing hardware Bosch has revealed details of new technology that it claims can drastically reduce nitrogen oxide levels in diesel cars, essentially fixing the problem that has caused their recent downturn. Diesel sales have tumbled in recent months as regulators aim to lower output of NOx, which is associated with respiratory problems in humans in urban environments. Bosch claims that it has developed a solution that not only reduces NOx output in diesel engines but practically eliminates it so it falls to a point that’s almost a tenth of the next-generation limits. “We call our system active thermal management because it keeps the most important part of the diesel exhaust, the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system, running at its optimal temperature,” Bosch diesel division development boss Michael Krüger told Autocar. EGRs work best when they are heated by waste gases to more than 200deg C, but Krüger said this temperature is rarely reached when cars are driven at low revs through urban environments. 'Diesel saving' technology could make it to market in two years “If you were to coast or not touch the accelerator, the EGR would cool far below its optimum temperature, so NOx levels are higher,” he said. "With our system, the point is to minimise all temperature losses by packaging the EGR as close to the engine as possible.” By pushing the EGR closer to the engine, the part can be kept closer to 200deg C Celsius for longer, thanks to the heat soak surrounding the engine bay. Bosch’s new system also intelligently manages the movements of gases to ensure only hot gases travel through the EGR. These processes, which are said to use existing hardware already equipped on modern diesel vehicles, are claimed to trim NOx output to as low as 13mg/km in real-world driving scenarios. This not only far undercuts the current limit of 168mg/km, it also easily beats the next-generation limit of 120mg/km, which comes into force in 2020. Krüger said this development could prove pivotal in ensuring that car manufacturers meet future CO2 targets. Diesel’s downturn has seen petrol sales increase, in turn driving up average CO2 outputs. He said that diesel therefore remains extremely important as electrification begins to grow. “We are really taking care of finding the best overall compromise,” he said. While Bosch doesn’t comment on its customers, it is well known that the firm supplies a large number of the world’s biggest manufacturers, including the Volkswagen Group and Mercedes-Benz – emphasising the impact this new system could have. More content: UK new car market suffers biggest decline in Europe Lotus SUV will put brand in 'more luxury' market View the full article
  8. MS-RT R-Spec Transit Custom 2018 UK review

    Racing-inspired Transit is a fresh take on Ford's most popular van The MS-RT R-Spec Transit Custom is certainly unlike any other Transit we’ve ever come across.Based on Ford’s regular Transit Custom - the best-selling van so far in 2018 - the R-Spec takes that winning formula of car-like handling, a punchy diesel engine and serious load-lugging capacity and, erm, adds to it. Rather significantly.Before we delve into those additions, though, let’s talk about the company responsible for bringing the R-Spec Transit Custom into existence. Based in south Wales, MS-RT is a collaboration between Van-Sport and motorsport icon Malcolm Wilson that specialises in turning regular Ford commercial vehicles - Rangers and Transits in particular - into something else entirely.That something else, in the case of the R-Spec, is a van that resembles the sort of vehicle Darth Vader might use to move house. MS-RT has fitted it with an extreme bodykit it says is inspired by those fixed to the cars run by Wilson’s Ford-backed M-Sport rally team, as well as 20in OZ Racing alloys shod in 255/40-section Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S rubber. It’s a menacing-looking thing, particularly when finished in black.That’s not to say the changes made to the R-Spec are purely cosmetic. Eibach springs lower its ride height, while the standard 2.0-litre four-cylinder Ecoblue diesel engine has been tuned to produce 205bhp and 359lb ft of torque. MS-RT has also equipped the R-Spec with uprated brakes, as well cosseting bucket seats up front. There’s a twin sports-exhaust system, too, to ensure you’ll hear the R-Spec coming long before you see it. It really is that loud.View the full article
  9. British demand fell 12.4% in the first quarter of 2018 The UK experienced the fastest rate of decline in the European new car market in the first quarter of 2018. Figures provided by industry analysis company JATO show that Britain’s new car sales totalled 718,489, equating to a 12.4% fall on the first quarter of last year. The UK ranked bottom, below Norway and Ireland, which saw year-on-year sales decreases of 11.3% and 5.3% respectively. The UK drop heavily contrasts with the 0.7% increase in demand experienced by the wider European region. Growth was driven by rapid increases in demand for cars within countries such as Spain, Hungary and the Netherlands, which saw sales surge by a respective 11.9%, 29.9% and 13.9%. European demand was actually down in the month of March by 5.2%, but January and February demand proved so strong that it ensured an overall gain in the quarter compared with the first three months of 2017. The UK has been in decline for several months, with March seeing a 15.7% fall in sales. The downward trend is expected to continue in April. Much of the fall has been associated with diesel’s damaged image and the UK Government’s recent diesel tax hike. It is thought to have discouraged people from buying new diesel models, which, up until recently, consistently represented more than 40% of the new car market but now account for 33.5%. This diesel decline has been felt across the whole of Europe, too, with diesel cars now accounting for 38% of overall sales in the first three months of 2018, down from 46% in the same period last year. Land Rover was hit hardest by diesel’s woes, with sales for the Coventry car maker down by 21% in the first quarter. The company recently confirmed it wouldn’t be renewing 1000 agency staff contracts amid falling demand. Another British brand, Vauxhall (and its continental equivalent, Opel) was the next worst off, with sales down by 16%. Both of those brands have also confirmed that they will be reducing the number of franchised dealers in order to boost efficiency of the sales network. Volkswagen remained Europe’s top brand and achieved 2% growth in the first three months of the year. Sales of the Golf hatchback reached 54,060, keeping it ahead of the Ford Fiesta – which suffered from a 15% decline in demand – to take the top spot in Europe by 14,164 units. More content: Lotus SUV will put brand in 'more luxury' market Alpina B5 BiTurbo 2018 UK review View the full article
  10. Lotus SUV, as imagined by Autocar Geely's design boss says the sports car firm's first planned SUV will appeal to new buyers The forthcoming Lotus SUV is set to position the Norfolk-based sports car brand as a more luxury car maker than previously - and could be the first in a series of crossover machines from the firm. The project was one of the first signed off by Chinese company Geely afer it bought the British firm last year. As previously revealed by Autocar, the machine will use Volvo underpinnings, with Lotus boss Jean-Marc Gales promising "class-leading handling". Speaking at the Beijing motor show, Peter Horbury, Geely's design boss, said: “The question is where Lotus can be positioned in the market, where it is today and where the competition might be. China is a huge market for more luxury, more expensive cars, so that’s a possibility. “SUVs were never on the agenda at Porsche until someone dared to suggest to the board it might be a good idea. Where would they be today if they hadn’t?" Lotus SUV to use Volvo underpinnings and have class-leading handling Horbury, who has previously headed up design at Ford and Volvo, was coy on details on the upcoming SUV but said: "It’s never going to be as light as an Evora. But I’m sure if you’re calling it a Lotus, it has to be the lightest it can be of that genre.” He also hinted that there is more than one SUV coming from Lotus: “We’ve already mentioned SUVs are coming and we need a lot of resources in a fairly swift amount of time." Beijing motor show 2018 - full coverage That resource is coming from a new Coventry-based Geely design centre, of which new Lotus models, including the SUVs, will be a focus. All Lotus design remains under the remit of Lotus chief designer Russell Carr, who reports to Horbury. While Carr remains focused on sports cars at Lotus’ home in Hethel, Norfolk, the Coventry studio will facilitate the brand’s forthcoming SUVs. “It’s an ambitious plan [for Lotus]," Horbury explained. "Russell is stretched doing the sports cars he is creating with his team in Hethel and so this new design centre allows Lotus to use Geely resources.” While a facility in Coventry was already on the cards before Geely acquired Lotus, Horbury said the purchase cemented that decision. “I could have expanded Gothenburg or Shanghai studios. When Lotus came along, I thought it was wise to maintain the creative work of Lotus in England. If we couldn’t expand Hethel with enough people to do all the projects, we’d better stay in England within reasonable distance.” He added that Coventry has a lot of automotive expertise, not only in design but also in model-making and tool-making. The city is also the base for Geely-owned London Electric Vehicle Company, which makes the new TX taxi. Lotus design is good at differentiating from rivals, according to Horbury: “We’ve looked at the design signatures of Lotus and I think they’re very good at keeping Lotus separated from other brands. Simple things like the visor look of the windows is terrific. We might want to say that’s got to be there. “We’re looking hard at what Lotus can be. There’s a good track record at Geely for letting brands develop. Volvo is a great example. “The ambitions for Lotus are greater than before Geely came along. There is the possibility of building a whole group of vehicles which carry the Lotus name into areas that Lotus hasn’t been before.” Read more Lotus Exige review Lotus SUV to use Volvo underpinnings and have class-leading handling Lotus 3-Eleven review View the full article
  11. Chinese brand’s new flagship uses same electrified 1.5-litre powertrain as XC40 T5 Geely has revealed a new flagship version of its Bo Rui saloon called the GE, which uses a 1.5-litre plug-in hybrid powertrain co-developed by Volvo. The system mixes a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine with an electric motor. It’s the same system as that in the just-launched XC40 T5 Twin Engine. In the Geely model, it sends drive through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox (also developed by Volvo) and is said to be good for 176.5mpg combined. The Bo Rui is also available with a mild hybrid powertrain that mixes the same three-pot engine with an integrated battery starter generator. This variant is claimed to capable of 48.7mpg. Geely’s new hybrid model features a dominating front grille said to be inspired by the universe. The interior has a dashboard with a widescreen touchscreen integrated into its front face. The company has used the Beijing motor show to emphasise its electric ambitions. Alongside the launch of the Bo Rui GE and XC40 T5, it announced that its Lynk&Co brand would sell only electrified models in Europe. More content: Polestar 1 to cost from €155,000 Volkswagen Golf GTI long-term review View the full article
  12. New PHEV mixes 1.5-litre engine with electric motor Volvo has introduced a plug-in hybrid version of the XC40 called the T5 Twin Engine. The model mixes the 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine of the T3 with an electric motor. Volvo has yet to reveal outputs, but reports suggest the petrol unit provides 178bhp while the electric motor adds 74bhp. Together, they offer a combined 247bhp and 295lb ft of torque. The new powertrain is capable of pure-electric running, although Volvo hasn’t disclosed its range yet. The powertrain has been co-developed by Volvo’s parent company, Geely, and it’s also set to be used in that firm’s Lynk&Co models, the 01 and 02. Geely has also used the powertrain in its new flagship saloon for China, the Bo Rui GE. No further details for the XC40 PHEV have been announced, but the Geely saloon is claimed to be good for 176.5mpg, suggesting a similar number could be possible in the XC40, likely during urban driving when pure electric power can be utilised. Three main drive modes will be available with the T5 model: Hybrid, Power and Pure. The first will work to most efficiently combine both parts of the powertrain, while power will maximise the output of both. The final will harness only the electric motor. Individual and Off road modes are also featured, with the former allowing customisation of how the powertrain works and the latter focused on providing maximum traction in low-grip scenarios. Volvo’s new XC40 model is part of the brand's wider plans to offer an electrified variant of every car in its range by 2019. Beyond this, Volvo intends for 50% of its new car sales to be fully electric vehicles from 2025. Its first fully electric car is due on roads next year in the form of an all-new hatchback. The Swedish company said it won’t produce any other totally new models until every remaining model in its line-up has an electrified option. More content: Polestar 1 hybrid coupe to cost from €155,000 in Europe Honda's Everus brand arrives with new EV concept View the full article
  13. The first Polestar 1 prototype has completed a shakedown test in the Arctic Circle Company boss says electrified machine is true 'driver's car' The Polestar 1 hybrid coupé will cost from €155,000 (about £135,500 at current rates) in Europe when it goes on sale in the middle of 2019, although customers will purchase the car through a monthly subscription. Polestar said it had revealed the total price to illustrate where the car sits in the marketplace. That figure makes its around £8000 more expensive than the Tesla Model S P100D. The car is on display at the Beijing motor show in the week following confirmation that a prototype has completed its maiden dynamic shakedown test in the Arctic Circle. The 592bhp machine from Volvo's performance arm completed around two weeks of testing, with a focus on its drivetrain, batteries and torque vectoring system. Polestar conducted the tests in the Arctic Circle to place the hybrid system under pressure in temperatures that reached -28deg. Polestar boss Thomas Ingenlath said the torque vectoring system enhanced the 1's cornering responsiveness and accuracy, adding: "This is a driver's car." The Polestar 1 is already available to order now for a deposit of €2500, equating to around £2184. It will initially be sold in 18 countries, including Britain. Most of the markets fall in north, west and southern Europe but China, the US and Canada are also included. Polestar chose to increase the availability of the model at launch from 12 countries to 18 due to high popularity. The car made its European debut at the Geneva motor show in February and is going on a brand-building world tour before its public launch. Once productions begins, only 500 examples of the 1 are due to be sold each year. Before the opening of order books, Polestar said that more than 6000 potential customers had expressed an interest in the car, which will cost around £116,000. According to Ingenlath, who also remains Volvo’s design director, Polestar will become Volvo’s “technological spearhead” that, after the 1 hits the market, will make only all-electric performance cars. The company is preparing for an early 2020 launch of the all-electric Polestar 2 crossover saloon, which bears a very close relationship to Ingenlath’s Concept 40.2 that has already been seen at motor shows. A full-sized Polestar 3 SUV will arrive after that. The 1 coupé has an all-carbonfibre body based on a shortened S90 platform. It will produce 592bhp from a front-mounted 2.0-litre turbo engine, plus twin electric motors on the rear axle, and is very much a halo car. In Geneva, the 1 was shown to a group of more than 100 potential customers who were then invited to confirm their interest by submitting a deposit. The car will make more European appearances — possibly including a public driving debut at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed — before heading to the US and then China, where a special manufacturing facility capable of handling carbonfibre structures is already under construction close to Volvo’s existing plant at Chengdu. The 2 (imagined by Autocar below), an all-steel hatchback saloon that shares Volvo’s smaller CMA platform, will go into production late next year. It will be made in both left and right-hand drive. Ingenlath won’t say where the car will be built but is keen to point out its suitability as a rival to Tesla’s Model 3. Polestar is understood to still be deciding on details of its powertrain design, although two electric motors (one front, one rear) are suggested. The car should cost “from €40,000” and have a practical driving range of about 200 miles. The 3 (imagined by Autocar above), a radically styled, low-roof SUV that will use the next generation of Volvo’s SPA big-car platform and have a mixed aluminium and steel body construction, is understood to be heading for a 2022 launch and is likely to be made at the Chengdu factory. When all three models are selling as anticipated, Polestar volume could reach 80,000-90,000 cars annually (with the 1 accounting for 500 and the 2 for around 50,000). Ingenlath says further models are being considered in areas that wouldn’t be mainstream enough to suit Volvo. As well as developing its rule-breaking new models, Polestar is working on a bespoke marketing set-up aimed at increasing convenience for owners and moving beyond the traditionally adversarial customer-dealer relationship. Cars will be paid for by a monthly 'subscription' that includes insurance, servicing and possibly customer hire days (in case they need a van or fancy a sports car for a few days, for instance). Cars will be picked up from customers’ homes or workplaces and delivered back after servicing. Polestar commercial director Jon Goodman expects to choose about 80 Polestar 'spaces' around the world to sell its cars, with an expected eight in the UK. Read more Polestar to take on Tesla with Model 3 rival and SUV by 2019 Will Polestar's subscription system work? View the full article
  14. Audi A8 L arrives as 5.3m luxury saloon

    Longer version of flagship car is on show in Beijing Audi’s new A8 is available in 5.3-metre L form, with most of the demand expected to come from China. As a result, the extended model is on show in Beijing, where the public can view the additional rear leg room on offer from a car that’s been stretched by 130mm. The A8 L comes with the same long list of advanced driver assist features as the regular car, which currently stands as Audi’s most high-tech model yet. Among the technology list is an autonomous driving mode that enables the car to drive itself at up to 31mph in motorway traffic jams. There is also highly advanced road-scanning active suspension to improve ride quality. Power for the long-wheelbase car comes from a choice of two engines. The first is a six-cylinder 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine producing 282bhp, while the second is a new mild-hybrid based on a petrol six-pot unit with 48V architecture that offers 335bhp. The 4.2-litre V8 diesel offered in the regular A8 is not available with the A8 L. Although Audi’s long-wheelbase models, which also include the A6L and Q5L, are focused on the Chinese market, the A8 L is on sale in Britain. It costs from £73,095 here – that's £8220 more than the entry-level version of the standard car. More content: Honda's Everus brand arrives with new EV concept Hyundai i30 N long-term review View the full article
  15. Japanese firm will introduce compact SUV to Chinese market later this year Honda has become the latest car maker to launch an electric brand through China with the Everus EV concept. Although simply a demonstration of what’s to come, it publicises a project that Honda and its Chinese venture partner, GAC, have been working on. The first model to come from the new brand will take influence from this concept and be available both for private purchase and via car-sharing platform Reachstar, a Chinese company Honda is investing in. The concept’s design mixes existing Honda features, such as a strip that connects the front headlights and strong bodyline along the side, with new ones. The front grille features cascading openings and there are blue flashes on the nose and side sills. No technical details for the concept have been released, but it's part of Honda’s wider plans to put 20 electrified vehicles into production by 2020, suggesting hardware will be shared with other models. The Everus EV will remain a China-only model, but Honda will introduce its well-received Urban EV hatchback to the UK next year. That car will use a high-density lightweight battery pack, integrated heat management and energy transfer functions both to and from the vehicle. More content: Hypercar-baiting next-generation Honda NSX could be fully electric Audi Q5L revealed in China View the full article
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