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The Motorists Guide

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  1. XC40 first to join new scheme that will let web customers part-exchange their old car Volvo has launched what it claims is the “UK’s most comprehensive online new car buying service”. The initiative - live at www.volvocars.co.uk/order-online - allows buyers to configure their new car, part exchange their old one and, if necessary, sign a finance agreement online in less than 20 minutes, according to its creators. Volvos can be bought on factory order or from stock, with orders always linked to a retailer which will set pricing. Used Volvos could be offered at a future date. All sales will be subject to distance selling regulations, giving customers who choose to buy entirely online further consumer rights. Initially only the XC40 will be available through the Volvo configurator, but other models are available to buy online now and configuration will be rolled out from the 3rd of May. Buyers can purchase their car with cash, on a PCP or a PCH, however the latter will not be possible via an electronic signature until the second half of 2019. The configurator is set up to amend the monthly cost of leasing the car as a customer adds options, in order to give them a live quote. “Whether online or offline, the way people buy cars has changed. Customers now have much more control over the process, and Volvo Online helps them to take that one step further,” said Volvo UK managing director Jon Wakefield. “It makes life as easy as possible without compromising on choice or security, and lets customers drive the purchase process when it’s most convenient for them.” Other manufacturers, including Hyundai, Peugeot, Ford and Tesla, have unveiled similar online purchasing initiatives, although reports suggest that, to date, they have been more useful for gaining customer behaviour insight than profitability. “It is very clear that we are entering this space in order to learn,” said Wakefield. “By engaging in this way with our customers we will find out what they want. Our expectation is that a significant number will enjoy the process as part of the transaction, and as we learn we can adapt our service.” Volvo also faces strong opposition from intermediary sites that work with retailer groups to offer its cars, often at significant discounts. These include Autocar’s sister site What Car? which links buyers to retailers of cars at its Target Price - the most its mystery shoppers say you should pay for a new car - or below. However, Wakefield stressed that individual Volvo dealers will be able to set their pricing for the online initiative. “Our retailers will be free to set prices, but if you are wanting to buy on price alone then there are aggregators out there,” he said. “What we’re offering gives you a guiding hand, with a stress-free brand experience.” Volvo’s sales to date in the UK are up 39% year-on-year, driven by the ongoing success of the XC40 and new launches such as the upcoming S60. The UK recently overtook Sweden as Volvo’s third biggest market, behind China and the US. READ MORE Annual sales of Volvo XC40 set to double in 2019 Volvo primed to replace V40 with SUV-coupe UK hosts ‘world’s largest Volvo gathering’ View the full article
  2. Upgraded electric racer has undergone changes to prepare it for the Nordschleife, following its Pikes Peak victory last year Volkswagen has begun testing its ID R electric race car at the Nurburgring, ahead of an attempt to set a new lap record for electric vehicles. The 671bhp ID R, which broke the outright record at the Pikes Peak hill climb last year, has been heavily modified to cope with the 12.9-mile Nordschleife's long straights and fast corners. A new F1-inspired aerodynamics package includes a new rear wing, redesigned front splitter and drag reduction system (DRS) which, when deployed, reduces downforce by as much as 20%. Changes to the energy management system help the car reach its top speed faster, while using less energy from its twin lithium-ion battery packs. Driver Romain Dumas, who has won the Nurburgring 24-hour race four times, will be aiming to dethrone the Nio EP9 electric hypercar. It set the record for fastest EV around the 'Ring in 2017 with a time of 6:45.90. "The extent to which the ID. R has been continuously developed compared to 2018 is impressive," Dumas explained. "I can’t wait to finally drive the ID. R on the Nordschleife.” The modified car is aiming for an average speed of 112mph around the circuit, and should achieve top speeds of 168mph on the straights. That suggests it won't seek to challenge the 5min 19.545sec outright record set by the Porsche 919 Evo hybrid last year. Volkswagen has also teamed up with free-to-play racing simulator RaceRoom to let players digitally compete with its real-world record attempt. A virtual version of the ID R was created using data from the original car, with VW Motorsport engineers helping to create a realistic driving experience. “The ID. R’s mission to be the spearhead of the fully electric ID. product family from Volkswagen continues in full force,” Volkswagen's Motorsport Director Sven Smeets, said. “Once again, this time in 2019, the ID. R will demonstrate the great potential of electric drive, combining emissions-free technology with true emotion.” READ MORE How Volkswagen broke the Pikes Peak hillclimb all-time record Pikes Peak record holder Volkswagen ID R takes to Goodwood hill Volkswagen to bid for electric Nurburgring lap record View the full article
  3. Is living with a true hypercar any harder than living with a family hatchback? We're finding out Why we’re running it: We know the 720S is one of the world’s greatest driving machines. But is it an equally rewarding car with which to live? Month 2 - Month 1 - Specs Life with a McLaren 720S: Month 2 British hypercar meets Italian one - 3rd April 2019 Few cars make the 720S feel normal, but the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ that came to visit is one of them. It comes with an even greater sense of occasion and a much better noise. But the McLaren is massively easier to operate, puts you at ease and would be quicker point to point, at least with me at the wheel. It’s more than £100,000 cheaper too… Mileage: 2786 Back to the top Our car beat all-comers but still was upstaged at Silverstone - 20th March 2019 I hadn’t really planned to take the 720S on the track so soon, and for two reasons: the car was still running in and still fitted with mud and snow tyres. Normally, I’d not have gone anywhere near Silverstone that day. But this was no normal track day. Instead it was hosted by Mission Motorsport, a forces charity in which I have some small involvement. If you’re interested, they help former service personnel (and their families), many suffering from terrible physical injuries and many more bearing often even more disabling mental health problems. The mantra is ‘race, retrain, recover’ and, in the seven short years it has existed, the charity has found employment for nearly 150 beneficiaries, with over 1700 others finding work through its wide-ranging programmes. Promo over. Anyway, the order of the day was for those of us with interesting cars to give passenger rides to beneficiaries who might otherwise never hope to sit in something truly exotic. And they turned up in force: in one garage alone there was a Senna, a Porsche 918 Spyder and a new Ford GT, plus the head Ford of Europe’s product communications in a Raptor pick-up, which I thought showed some form. And at home I had the choice of the 720S or my daughter’s 1-litre Aygo. So I did what you’d have done. I didn’t have to wait for customers. One look at the 720S set beneficiaries running, hobbling or wheeling towards it. Once in, I then had to spoil it by explaining that the car was on rubber designed for snow, not Silverstone, and I’d not be able to use all the revs. Whereupon the 720S went out and, without doing more than 6000rpm, made mincemeat of everything out there. Part of the secret was those tyres: Silverstone was soaking and it was like having a set of wets while everyone else was struggling on slicks. The bloke with the Ford GT – a Le Mans standard racing driver – came over and said he simply couldn’t believe how quickly the McLaren had come past. And, idiot that I am, I told him about the tyres. Otherwise, I might now be his team-mate. But there was more to the car’s performance than that: even making reasonable allowance for its rubber, the confidence given by this mid-engine quasi-hypercar in atrocious conditions was ridiculous: even with all the electronics turned off, it never gave me an instant’s alarm. Yet the 720S was not what I remember most. It was meeting Laura Nuttall, the 19-year-old girl who dreamed of joining the navy, went for her medical and discovered she had inoperable brain cancer. She was cheerful, fun and laughed like a drain when we slid sideways through Stowe. She was not at Silverstone to be flung around a track by me, but to drive an HGV and tick it off her all-too-real bucket list. But I think we were able to provide a few moments of amusement in the meantime. I had to go before she drove the truck and I doubt she’s an Autocar reader but, if someone who is knows her, please tell her I hope it was all she ever wanted it to be. Heading home to Wales, it was with thoughts of her courage and dignity alone in my head. Cars are great and this one of the very greatest but, right there and then, I could have been in anything in the world. Love it: HOW USABLE IT IS Levels of comfort and quietness at a cruise are simply outstanding for a car of this potential. Loathe it: POOR DAB RECEPTION It can’t be easy as a carbonfibre tub and aluminium body probably doesn’t make the best aerial. Mileage: 1488 Back to the top The right tyres make all the difference - 6th March 2018 One point of having the 720S for an extended period is to see how it copes with all the stuff you don’t read about in road tests. Like deep snow. On Pirelli Sotto Zero mud and snow tyres, the answer is brilliantly. I roamed around the countryside with barely a slip. I then took out a four-wheel-drive SUV on normal tyres and scared myself significantly. Mileage: 1138 Back to the top Life with a McLaren 720S: Month 1 We’ve six – count ’em, six – months to see what real life with a supercar is actually like - 20th February 2019 It has been my very happy lot these 30 years or more to drive a large number of bona fide supercars and what we now call hypercars, and to have my impressions of them published on these pages. But these have all been necessarily fleeting engagements. Lacking the means to drop a substantial six-figure sum into a form of vehicular transport, I’ve always been aware that however well I might feel I’ve understood the way any one of these eclectic machines might behave on the road, I’ve not really had any experience of what one might be like to live with. Which is why there is now an Aurora Blue McLaren 720S parked outside my house. Over the next six months, I’m going to get to see the other side of the supercar. Sure, I’ll take it to the mountains and a track or two but, to be honest, I already have a good idea what those experiences will be like. They will coruscating and life-affirming, but also familiar to someone as lucky as me. I’m just as interested in the other stuff, of which I have little or no idea at present. How will I come to regard the attention it will inevitably attract? What will it be like in heavy traffic or after hours on the motorway, and where will I be happy to leave it? Will I stop worrying about its width and damaging those hideously expensive wheels? Most of all, I guess, is how much of its potential will I be able to use? Will I find its ability to overtake almost anything almost anywhere offset by the fact that it’ll never be long before it catches up with the next lot of traffic? Personally, I am excited beyond words by the prospect of spending so much time with such a car but, professionally, I think it’s going to be fascinating, too. In the meantime, allow me to show you around. Y27 MCL is brand new, with just 395 miles under its Pirelli Sotto Zero mud and snow tyres. Not being my car, I didn’t have much choice over the specification, but was able to give a general guide as to what I’d like (as well as choose the late Gilles Villeneuve’s race number for its personalised plate. He was my childhood hero and raced for McLaren in Formula 1, so it seemed apt). Which was a fairly discreet car with a modest list of options. The only thing I asked for was a front axle lift, because otherwise I’d have damaged it every time I drove it to my home down a bumpy lane in the Welsh borders. What turned up was a car with the Luxury Specification pack, which means leather extending over the dashboard and storage areas behind the seats. It also has heated, electrically adjustable seats, which I was pleased to see: McLaren’s racier carbonfibre buckets are excellent at keeping you rooted to the spot on the track but less suited to a large middle-aged driver on a long run. For a car like this, the options count is indeed somewhat restrained, although still not cheap. Over £10k went on forged wheels and a sports exhaust alone. Other than that, the paint added £1940, orange calipers a further £1140 and the nose lifter £2200. Then there’s the 360deg aerial view of the car when parking (£4720) and one last grand went on an Alcantara wheel and a car cover. Were I speccing it myself, I’d probably have the wheels, nose lift and Alcantara wheel although I must admit to a sneaking admiration for those orange calipers. All it lacks is the 12-speaker sound upgrade because the standard four-speaker system is adequate but not much more. But even as it is, £21,590 on options will be well below what most owners will spend. I collected it from Rybrook Specialist Cars, where McLaren has its Bristol dealership, and was given a comprehensive walk-around by general sales manager Ross Thorley. Little things stood out: there’s no fuel cap to unscrew, and no fiddly bonnet latch to worry about. Just press the button on the key or in the car and up it pops. The ergonomics and the way the displays work are so much better than in earlier McLarens and the controls for the active dynamics panel are at last of the quality you’d expect for a car like this. It’s also even easier to fall into and climb out of than not just any other McLaren but also the similarly carbonfibre-tubbed, dihedral-door BMW i8 I ran a couple of years ago. And that’s about it for now. I’ve driven it only briefly since, for the photographs you see here, and am diligently observing the running-in schedule, which calls for gentle operation for the first 625 miles. Even so, I can already feel the traction control holding the car back almost all the time: I’m sure the Sottos will be excellent should it snow, but the motor has so much torque that even merely moderate applications of throttle in quite high gears can set the little warning light flashing furiously. The Sottos stay for now, because I am driving it to Switzerland in early March, after which it will be fitted with some rubber altogether better suited to its hypercar potential. After which I expect I’ll need to get to know it all over again. At least I hope so. Second Opinion The potential for shattered dreams is considerable when running a supercar – firing up the engine often, coping with terrible weather and crap roads, with the car’s performance muzzled for more mundane trips. I have faith in the 720S, though. For ergonomics and visibility, it’s arguably the best of its breed, and the damping is eerily sympathetic for a car with cast-iron body control on the track. If a ‘daily driver’ can ever tout a mid-mounted V8, this is it. Richard Lane Back to the top McLaren 720S Luxury specification Specs: Price New £224,990 Price as tested £246,580 OptionsExterior special paint (Aurora Blue) £1940, sports exhaust £4900, 10-spoke super-lightweight forged alloy wheels £4520, Stealth wheel finish £1170, McLaren orange brake calipers £1140, steering wheel with carbon black Alcantara rim £520, 360deg parking assistance £4720, nose lifter £2200, car cover £480 Test Data: Engine V8, 3994cc, twin-turbo, petrol Power 710bhp at 7500rpm Torque 568lb ft at 5500rpm Kerb weight 1419kg Top speed 212mph 0-62mph 2.8sec Fuel economy 23.2mpg CO2 276g/km Faults None Expenses None Back to the top View the full article
  4. The Yeti's boxy looks gave it a distinct character Skoda’s characterful Yeti proved to be a minor masterstroke, as would buying one With the quirky Yeti crossover, Skoda proved something that many of us had come to doubt: that while the Volkswagen Group’s strategy of sharing platforms, engines, suspension systems and whatever else between the various models across its brands is clearly good for business, would any of them ever be able to produce a car with a discernible personality of its own? Then, in 2009, the Skoda Yeti arrived, with its unusual styling and a distinct character all of its own. The Yeti predated today’s seemingly unstoppable SUV-mania, and even now it doesn’t really sit comfortably in that category. It shared its underpinnings with the Volkswagen Golf, and although it is a little taller than a conventional hatchback, it doesn’t have so many of the unavoidable drawbacks of a high-riding SUV. In fact, its seating position and on-road manners are much more car than SUV-like, which means it can be fun to drive on the right road. That’s where the better part of its distinctive personality comes from. What the Yeti does borrow from today’s SUVs is flexibility, practicality and, if it’s a four-wheel drive model, real off-roading ability. The VarioFlex rear seat system – which allows you to slide the bench forwards and backwards, remove it entirely or pull out only the middle chair to create more second-row space for two – gives the Yeti a level of versatility few other cars can match. For all of those reasons, it is close to incomparable as an affordable family car a decade after its launch. The cheapest official Approved Used cars start at around £7000 and many of them have covered fewer than 50,000 miles. The 4x4 models start at £8000 and it’s worth paying that bit extra. Not only does a second driven axle make the Yeti better suited to winter driving (particularly when matched with winter tyres), but the four-wheel-drive cars also benefited from a more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension architecture. The 2.0-litre turbodiesel that you’ll find beneath the bonnet of the vast majority of these Yeti 4x4s is strong and torque-rich, whether it’s in the lower, 138bhp state of tune or the higher 168bhp specification. Upwards of 45mpg is well within reach, too. Approved Used Skodas come with a 12-month warranty and roadside assistance over the same term, although buyers have the option of upgrading to 24-month cover. What’s most agreeable about the Yeti, though, is that Skoda’s designers and engineers were able to peer into an enormous warehouse packed to the rafters with VW Group mechanical components, all of them very well used across the business and long since over-familiar, and yet they pulled down only the right parts and wrapped them up in a funky body to create not only an original concept but also a very charming car. With the Yeti having now been replaced by the Russian-doll Karoq, we’ll probably never see its like again. Need to know The Yeti’s slightly odd front styling won’t be to all tastes, not least due to its somewhat gawky foglights. Skoda updated the car with a more conventional front end in 2013 and these models aren’t much more expensive today. On top of the VarioFlex rear seat system, the front passenger seat can also be folded forward into a horizontal position. That means the Yeti can be used to transport very long objects, such as rolled-up carpets or, er, guttering. A number of owners have reported issues with hesitating engines. This can be fixed by the fitment of a shim beneath the turbo solenoid, which is a cheap and simple repair that should have been applied to an approved car. Our pick Skoda Yeti 2.0 TDI 4x4 170: A 4x4 Yeti with the more potent diesel engine is uniquely appealing: quick, good to drive and practical. On a set of mud and snow tyres, it’ll also go much farther into the woods than you might imagine. Wild card Skoda Yeti 1.2 TSI: Front-drive Yetis don’t have the 4x4’s low-grip traction and aren’t as fun to drive, but it’ll be more than adequate in most circumstances. The 1.2-litre petrol engine is cleaner, too. Ones we found 2012 Yeti 1.2 TSI, 40,000 miles, £7295 2014 Yeti 1.6 TDI Greenline, 52,000 miles, £7985 2012 Yeti 2.0 TDI 4x4 Elegance 140, 59,000 miles, £8000 2013 Yeti 2.0 TDI 4x4 Elegance 170, 56,000 miles, £9495 Read more Skoda Yeti: full road test Taking the Skoda Yeti on an epic journey through Bhutan​ Skoda to build new European factory to meet demand​ View the full article
  5. Geely's new electric-only brand makes its debut with an affordable, long-range saloon for China This is the first model from Geely's brand new electric vehicle (EV)-only brand, and a car that the Chinese giant says has been benchmarked against the Tesla Model 3.The Geometry A was officially unveiled at the recent Shanghai motor show, and we've already had a brief spin on a test track at Geely's research and development centre in the Hangzhou Bay area.Two statistics stand out, not least for their apparent contradiction with each other. The first is a range of up to 311 miles (500km) for the model fitted with the larger (61.9kWh) battery pack. The second is pricing in China that ranges from 210,000 RMB (£24,000 at current exchange rates) for the lesser (51.9kWh) version with a 255-mile range up to 250,000 RMB (£28,600) for the plushest long-range model. Factor in the current Chinese market EV subsidies and those fall to RMB 150,000 (£17,200) and RMB 190,000 (£21,700) respectively.But the A is far from being the sort of cheap and cheerless appliance those prices might suggest, having a very generous standard specification and an impressively upmarket finish. It sits on an electrified version of Geely's existing saloon platform - future EVs will use an architecture shared with Volvo - and uses a 161bhp motor to turn its front wheels. Geely claims a 0-62mph time of 8.8sec.View the full article
  6. What we think a two-door Panamera would look like More practical alternative to the 911 could be revealed as early as next year Porsche is understood to be developing two-door coupé and cabrio versions of the Panamera designed to rival the BMW 8 Series and Aston Martin Vantage. According to reports, which senior figures at the firm have not denied, Porsche is developing the two variants of its grand tourer for a planned unveiling next year. The cars are designed to offer enhanced practicality and space over the 911 but still be considered as 2+2s rather than outright four-seaters. Asked about the possibility of such cars, Porsche design boss Michael Mauer, who designed the original Panamera, said: “As a designer there are no limits to what I can conceive. I believe it is the design department’s role to sketch and consider every model it can for the future so that we are ready should anyone wish to pursue a project. “But if you are asking me to confirm if such projects are on the way then you are going to be disappointed. It is not my role to consider such things.” Reports in German media suggest plans for the cars are already well advanced and speculate that they will sit on shortened versions of the Panamera’s MSB platform. Were a version of the 2015 Bentley EXP10 Speed 6 concept to be given the go-ahead (unlikely, given recent reports), it is possible that this too could use the platform, bringing a further economy of scale. There is also a suggestion the cars will not carry the Panamera name, to fit a sportier, less practical end of the market. But powertrain options are expected to be taken from the Panamera range and include a plug-in hybrid option, given the need to reduce overall fleet emissions and the fact that more than half of European Panamera buyers opt for that set-up at present. Read more Used car buying guide: Porsche Panamera​ Porsche Panamera GTS 2018 review​ BMW 8 Series review View the full article
  7. Thed Björk claimed Lynk&Co’s first race win in Morocco European market newcomer Lynk&Co could establish a loyal following before its cars even hit the road The old ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ adage was always something of an oversimplification for car makers to go motor racing, but the ethos does still stand. Will BMW really sell more of its new 3 Series because Andrew Jordan scored a win first time out in the British Touring Car Championship? Unlikely. But it sure doesn’t hurt BMW’s cause to re-establish the model as the totem for saloon-car excellence. It’s heartening that motorsport is still of value to car makers in these fast-evolving times, and beyond the BTCC, there’s a great example on the global stage of a rising Chinese brand using racing to introduce itself to the world. We’ve yet to see Geely’s Lynk&Co on European roads, but that hasn’t stopped it showcasing the 03 TCR in the FIA World Touring Car Cup – and like BMW’s 3 Series in the UK, it’s already a winner. A four-car super-team has joined the burgeoning series, headed by a trio of drivers who share eight World Touring Car Championships between them: 49-year-old French legend Yvan Muller, Guernsey’s Andy Priaulx, who is making a tin-top return this year at the age of 44, and Sweden’s Thed Björk. Muller’s promising nephew, 22-year-old Yann Ehrlacher, is in the other 03. But the interest goes deeper than its stellar drivers, because Geely is offering the world a sneak preview of its cars before they are launched beyond its domestic market. “This is a global programme, meaning it has relevance for both China and the western market,” says Lynk&Co’s Johan Meissner. So why WTCR? “It’s a perfect match for us,” he says. “[The TCR rules] utilise standard road cars as a base, providing us with an opportunity to connect the race and road car development. The WTCR also has extremely close and competitive racing, with 2019 promising to be one of the toughest touring car seasons ever. Our target is to become world champions.” The Swedish-based Cyan Racing team has already made a splash. At the Marrakech street circuit earlier this month, Björk finished second on the 03 TCR’s debut, then took a historic win – the first for a Chinese car maker in an FIA event – in Race 3 after Muller retired from the lead. WTCR resumes this weekend in Hungary. It’s a great global series – a shame, then, that it lacks a round in Britain. Read more BTCC 2019: New BMW 3 Series takes first race win​ Lynk & Co reveals 493bhp concept car based on TCR race car​ BTCC 2019: why the sport is back to its best View the full article
  8. Merc's new BMW 3 Series rival will arrive early next year, sporting electrified powertrains and advancements in tech Mercedes-Benz is well into the development phase of its next-generation C-Class, and prototypes have now been seen testing on the Nurburgring. Seen on the infamous track in typical disguise ahead of an early 2020 debut, the compact exec has been given an evolutionary redevelopment to restore its competitive edge against the new BMW 3 Series. The bulk of the changes are focused more on under the skin advancements than a big external revamp. Key to the changes is a reworked platform, new hybrid drivetrains, a revised chassis and a much more advanced 48V electric architecture. Insiders suggest it will offer new autonomous driving functions, including hands-off driving at speeds of up to 81mph. Mercedes hasn’t departed greatly from the design lineage of the popular fourth-generation C-Class, but closer inspection of the prototypes reveals some detailed changes including a lower front end and a more heavily angled rear window that serves to shorten the length of the bootlid. The new C-Class has also undergone extensive aerodynamic development. Officials suggest it has a Cd of just 0.25, representing best in class for aerodynamic efficiency. These early prototypes of the new C-Class, codenamed W206, also reveal it will be close in size to its predecessor but adopt a slightly longer wheelbase. The model is based on a modified version of the current C-Class’s MRA platform, with new aluminium structural elements to boost rigidity, though sources say it won’t be much lighter. Inside, the new C-Class is set to adopt an interior similar to that used by the new EQ C, with a dual-screen infotainment and instrument panel and conversational gesture control. The next C-Class will launch with electrified drivetrains across the range. All petrol and diesel engines, including four-, six- and eight-cylinder powerplants that will continue in AMG performance models, are set to be combined with a 48V electric system and integrated starter motor. The system recuperates energy under acceleration, allows off-throttle coasting and could also offer a boost function for extra power in short bursts. Additionally, it will receive a number of plug-in hybrid drivelines in both petrol-electric and diesel-electric guises, all planned to offer an electric range of up to 50 miles in combination with a larger-capacity lithium ion battery than the 13.5kWh unit in use in today’s C300e. Read more Mercedes-Benz C-Class review Mercedes-Benz plots new driver-focused SL for 2020​ Mercedes pulls PHEVs from production to make way for third-gen tech​ View the full article
  9. The key to Flipping Bangers' success is the relationship between presenters Gus Gregory (left) and Will Trickett (right) A new show on BLAZE® celebrates the art of restoring classic cars on a strict budget and timescale. Here are the episodes you can’t miss Anyone who has restored, or even just tinkered with, a classic car will know that things rarely run smoothly. Not great when you’re the one with oil and an expensive repair bill on your hands, but there’s a certain vicarious thrill in watching other people face the pain – and pleasure – of turning rust into gold. Say hello to Flipping Bangers on free-to-air channel BLAZE®, in which a pair of passionate petrol-heads buy and restore down-at-heel classics with their own money, then have to sell them for double the money in to turn a modest profit. And don’t think they’ve got all the time in the world to fettle their budding pride and joy with tender loving care. The second the car enters their workshop they’re up against it, as it is placed on an internet auction. Let’s badger the bodgers The secret to the show is the stripped back reality and the genuine chemistry between designer, engineer and boat builder Will Trickett (the one with the mad sideburns), and respected car and travel photographer Gus Gregory. “The hook is, it’s real,” says Gus. “There’s no background army doing the cars up. Will and I do the job properly, and there are definitely moments where you can spend a long time doing something before you know if it’s working.” As Will adds: “It’s very seat of the pants. When it goes wrong, it goes wrong – and we’re the ones who have to sort it out.” The relationship between the pair can be likened to experienced expert and enthusiastic amateur. “Will is a trained engineer,” points out Gus. “So, I’m sure he rolls his eyes when I’m looking something up on the internet.” But both share a passion for turning maligned cars into something special. “The thing that drives us both is the determination to do the best job we can,” says Will. Will and Gus lament how modern cars lack scope for tinkering. “The Audi A2 was the first car I remember with a plastic cover on the engine and holes for oil and water,” says Gus. “Today’s manufacturers don’t want you looking under the bonnet. There’s no gain in getting people into car maintenance” But Flipping Bangers isn’t only for experienced enthusiasts. “There’s always going to be a diehard audience,” says Will. “The key is bringing on youngsters or newbies – the sort of people who don’t realise their 1980s Ford Escort is a classic, and probably think it’s just a pile of junk. But old cars are still cool.” After a successful first outing, Flipping Bangers is back for a second 10-episode run – starting this Friday 26th April at 9pm on BLAZE®. So we asked Will and Gus to pick their must-watch moments from series two. Episode 1 - MGB (26th April): Things start with a bang. Will and Gus spot a good-looking car, but soon spot problems that require a major rethink. “The classic tale of a classic car,” says Gus. “It looks like a bargain. Once you start poking round, it’s a world of pain. Apart from the engine and gearbox, everything was wrong with it.” Episode 3 – Austin Maestro MG (10th May): Gus and Will want a classic British sportscar, but settle for something more modest. The end results are something to see. “The Maestro was a much maligned car by the motoring press and the public,” says Gus. “But I think they’re great cars, and this turned out to be something special.” Episode 4 – Suzuki SJ (17th May): Will and Gus head off the beaten track with a budget 4x4. Off-road means ‘mud’, and a major clean of the Suzuki exposes a host of other issues, but the results live up to the ambition. “With the Suzuki, we managed to do exactly what we’d planned,” says Will. “And we had a great day off-roading in it.” Episode 5 – Morris Minor (24th May): Like the MGB, Will and Gus face a world of welding woes and a race against the clock, budget and enthusiasm with this iconic classic. “Welding saps time, but it also saps you of energy,” says Gus. “It can be exhausting cutting and grinding.” The Morris may be a trial of love, but the results are worth seeing. Episode 6 – Skoda Estelle (31st May): “I love Skodas,” says Will. “When I was young, everyone took the mickey out of them, but we managed to find a good example.” The build isn’t without its problems – thanks to some ‘Eastern Bloc’ fuel issues. But some innovative thinking on the exterior gives it a new lease of life. Episode 8 – Volkswagen Beetle (14th June): As you’d expect with a motoring icon, good cheap examples are hard to find. Gus and Will find a project car at a budget-friendly £1000, but it hasn’t been well maintained. “The VW Beetle was difficult,” says Will. “We had one plan with great intentions, and then had to change it.” The question is, will they be forced to sell it as spare parts, or be able to pull off something spectacular? Episode 10 – SAAB 99 (28th June): The perfect car for the perfect finale – a classic bit of Scandi-car. “The Saab was very difficult to know what to do with, because it was at the end of its days,” says Gus. “But we genuinely gave that car a new lease of life.” Episodes of Flipping Bangers air at 9pm every Friday on free-to-air channel BLAZE®, starting on 26th April. BLAZE® is available on Freeview 63, Freesat 162, Sky 565 and Virgin Media 216. Find out more at www.blaze.tv View the full article
  10. Rivian's R1S electric SUV made its debut last year Strategic partnership will lead to Ford using Rivian's skateboard architecture for a new battery electric model Ford has agreed a deal with Rivian to develop a new model on the fast-rising electric vehicle (EV) maker's platform - and take a minority stake in the firm. Rivian is currently developing its R1T pick-up truck and R1S seat-seat SUV, which will both be built on a bespoke 'skateboard’ chassis that was designed to be modular, so it can be used for a wide range of machines. The new strategic partnership, in which Ford has taken around $500 million (£386 million) equity investment in Rivian, will result in engineers from the two American companies working together to develop a battery EV for Ford. There are no details yet on the type of vehicle the firms will work on, although it will be “all-new”. In the US, Ford has shifted its focus to pick-ups and SUVs, and it's currently developing an electric version of its hugely popular F-150. Ford boss Jim Hackett said the partnership with Rivian “brings a fresh approach” to Ford's development of EVs and that the fledgling firm “can benefit from Ford’s industrial expertise and resources”. Rivian founder RJ Scaringe called the deal a “key milestone in our drive to accelerate the transition to sustainable mobility”. Rivian will remain an independent company. Ford is just the latest major investor the firm has secured; it had already raised £894.5m, including £544 million from online retailing giant Amazon, announced at the Los Angeles motor show. The deal is also the latest in a number of partnerships that Ford has secured as part of its global restructuring. It recently agreed a deal to work with Volkswagen to develop a range of vehicles, including vans and mid-size pick-ups, and has talked about building vehicles using the German conglomerate's MEB platform for EVs. Read more Amazon leads £544 million investment in EV start-up Rivian​ "How I started my own car firm" - the story of Rivian​ EV manufacturer Rivian plans rally-style performance car​ View the full article
  11. Mercedes' all-new SL drop-top is due in 2020 with AMG chassis development, and shortened mules testing new platform have been seen Novel-looking Mercedes-Benz prototypes, believed to be chassis mules for the next-generation SL, have been spotted - a week after AMG boss Tobias Moers told Autocar that SL prototype would hit the roads this year. The prototypes show an E-Class saloon with a significant chunk removed from the wheelbase and body. The length and detailing of this chopped mule strongly suggests it is a test bed for the new shared sports car platform. Moers confirmed last week that the SL, which will launch by 2021, will be “aligned” with the next AMG GT. Both cars will share a new aluminium-intensive platform, known internally as the Modular Sports Architecture (MSA), in an attempt to increase the economies of scale and overall profitability of two of Mercedes’ most exclusive model lines. Autocar first scooped the new SL last October, but only recently has Moers gone on the record to confirm AMG's development of the new model. “We’re bringing back the historic DNA of the SL," he said. "It's far sportier [this time round]. It will have a perfect compromise between driving dynamics and comfort because it’s still kind of a cruiser too.” This is the first time AMG has overseen development of any SL across its previous seven generations. Moers said: “Handing over SL to AMG as the performance and sports car brand is great. There’s lots of responsibility behind that, and I’m really honoured.” He also confirmed that the eighth-generation SL would be offered only as a roadster, like its predecessor. Autocar has previously reported that the model will receive a traditional fabric hood in place of the folding hard-top arrangement that has been used for the past two SL incarnations. Overall, the SL will be revived as a lighter, faster and more engaging model, which is why AMG has been tasked with heading up the project. SL and GT sharing As well as sharing a common platform structure, the two upmarket Mercedes sports cars are expected to share axle assemblies, suspension, steering systems, 48V electric architecture and hybrid drivetrains, among other components, in a move to cut costs and boost production efficiency. The new SL and GT will be built alongside each other at Mercedes’ plant in Sindelfingen, Germany. Early plans to base a successor to today’s smaller SLC off the same underpinnings have been abandoned following a recent decision not to replace the junior Mercedes roadster due to dwindling sales. Early prototypes of the new SL were spied testing on track with the new platform underneath a shortened S-Class Coupé body. They give away little about the car’s mechanical set-up, which is rumoured to run a transaxle arrangement with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox integrated within the rear axle assembly, like on the GT. However, the overall dimensions of the engineering mules suggest the production version will be slightly larger than the existing SL, which is 4630mm long, 1870mm wide and 1310mm tall. The adoption of the MSA platform is claimed to have had a positive effect on the styling of the new SL, whose proportions are said to be more in keeping with earlier incarnations of the classic roadster than the current model, which shares a platform with saloon models such as the C-Class, E-Class, CLS and S-Class. A Mercedes source told Autocar that the new SL receives a longer bonnet and more rearward-positioned cabin. “The new platform has given us more freedom,” the source said. “There’s more distance between the front axle and the front firewall. This gives it more traditional proportions.” The decision to replace the folding hard-top of today’s SL with a more compact fabric hood is also said to have provided greater scope in the styling of the rear of the new model. “It’s much more shapely, especially at the rear, because it is no longer dictated in height and width for the packaging of the hard-top roof,” the source added. In a further departure from today’s model, it is also expected that Mercedes will provide the 2020 SL with a 2+2 seating layout. Autocar has been told that AMG is keen to give the new SL the same sort of practicality as the Porsche 911, with a set of rear seats capable of accommodating adults for short journeys or, alternatively, luggage as an extension of its boot. SL to get hybrid line-up Mercedes plans to offer the SL with a limited range of hybridised in-line six-cylinder and V8 petrol engines in a line-up that’s likely to include both standard and AMG models. The range is understood to start with an SL450 EQ Boost model running a turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder developing around 365bhp, along with an added 22bhp in combination with an integrated starter motor. Further up will be the SL53, which will run a more powerful AMG-tuned version of the SL450 EQ Boost’s mild-hybrid drivetrain with around 430bhp and added 22bhp through electric assistance. Among the V8-powered models will be the SL500 EQ Boost. It is due to receive a turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 with a similar power output to the SL53, but significantly more torque. Topping the range will be the SL63. It is likely to be offered in two states of tune, with the most powerful model running a turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 capable of in excess of 600bhp and more than 30bhp of electric boost. It is unclear if Mercedes will continue with the V12-powered SL, although, given the potential output of the SL63, it would seem unlikely. All engines for the new SL will come as standard with Mercedes’ nine-speed automatic gearbox, with the AMG variants set to adopt the Speedshift electronics package for faster shift times. Suggestions are that Mercedes could offer 4Matic four-wheel drive alongside standard rear-wheel drive, although this has yet to be confirmed. Despite the SL’s market repositioning, it won’t completely abandon the luxury focus, so expect the interior to be almost as opulent as Mercedes’ other high-end models. It will be more driver-focused than cars such as the S-Class Coupé, but there could still be plenty of the brand’s latest driver assist systems drafted in, including its semi-autonomous Drive Pilot function. Additional reporting by Rachel Burgess Read more Mercedes-Benz SL review New Mercedes-Benz SQC: all-electric SUV revealed Mercedes-AMG SL 63 review View the full article
  12. More efficient drive unit, faster charging and chassis upgrades for largest Teslas, entering production this week Tesla has announced a series of upgrades for its Model S saloon and Model X SUV, including a range improvement of more than 10% for Long Range models. The American EV maker claims to have substantially upgraded the drive unit fitted to both cars, introducing the “optimised permanent magnet synchronous reluctance motor” from the Model 3, and using silicon carbide in the unit’s electronics. Redesigned gearing, new bearings and improved cooling and lubrication boost all-round motor efficiency. The secret tech behind the Tesla Model 3 The result is a claimed EPA cycle range of 370 miles for the top-spec Model S and 325 miles for the equivalent Model X. This is apparently achieved without any changes to the 100kWh battery pack in both cars. At the same time, Tesla claims to have improved power and torque “significantly” without quoting specific figures. Charging times have come down, too, with both cars capable of achieving 200kW on the latest ‘V3’ Superchargers and 145kW on the more common ‘V2’ Superchargers. The upgrades extend beyond the powertrain, however, with both cars receiving a fully adaptive damping system for the air suspension. Developed in-house, it’s claimed to constantly adapt to the road surface and driver behaviour, while bringing the cars lower to the ground when cruising to optimise aerodynamics. More minor changes include new wheel bearings and new tyre designs for certain variants claimed to boost steering feel, ride quality and range. By way of recompense to those who purchased a Model S or X before the updates, the firm is offering a free Ludicrous Mode upgrade to existing owners buying a new Performance model. In an unusual move, the company has backtracked on its relatively recent decision to axe Standard Range variants by reintroducing them on both models. The updated Teslas are entering production at the firm’s factory in Fremont, California, this week, with online ordering open now. A Tesla UK spokesperson claimed that any of the new models ordered would be subject to a similar delivery wait time as the outgoing variants. Read more Elon Musk claims Tesla will have robotaxis on roads by 2020 Analysis: why FCA Group is paying Tesla Tesla Model S review View the full article
  13. High-riding version of Britain's cheapest car is still a relative bargain, even with extra equipment – if not quite the steal of models lower down the range In recent years, Dacia’s design team have admitted their surprise at having to create an ever-growing range of optional extras in order to keep up with demand from customers keen to add a few luxurious touches to their budget-conscious buys.That’s now being reflected in the model line-up: this new range-topping Sandero Stepway Techroad is effectively what happens when you tick all the options boxes on the high-riding version of Dacia’s supermini.It comes equipped with a rear parking camera, 7in touchscreen with smartphone syncing, LED headlights, electric windows and door mirrors, a raft of safety systems and a number of other shiny extras.It’s all wrapped up with new exterior and interior design flourishes, which include Techroad decals and new paint colours.It’s the most expensive version of Britain’s cheapest car. But is it worth the money?View the full article
  14. The FCA Group’s CO2 fleet average for 2018 was 125.3g/km Pooling its line-up with Tesla is allowing FCA to cut its EU fleet-average CO2 liability Tesla boss Elon Musk has admitted that making money from selling electric cars is tough. But in the past few years Tesla has made millions by getting rival car firms to pay it for a surprisingly valuable commodity: nothing. In the US, several states require car firms to produce a certain number of zero-emission cars, or face fines. But firms can buy EV ‘credits’ from other car makers, and because Tesla only makes electric cars, it has a huge number of those credits. In one financial quarter last year it made more than $190 million (£164 million) – more than two-thirds of its profit in that quarter – selling such credits to rivals. Tesla has now found a way to turn nothing into profit with its European arm, through a new deal with the FCA Group, which owns Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Jeep and Maserati. In this case, the ‘nothing’ FCA is paying “hundreds of millions” of pounds to access is the 0g/km of CO2 emitted by Tesla’s EVs. By 2021, the EU will require the average CO2 emissions of a manufacturer’s new car fleet to be 95g/km or under (adjusted for each firm based on average fleet weight and some credits earned), down from the previous 130g/km fleet-average target. The penalties for failing to hit those targets are fines of €95 (£82) per vehicle per g/km over the 95g/km limit. FCA and Tesla have agreed to group their European fleets together in a ‘pool’, which the EU counts as a single entity when determining the average emissions of their new car fleet. FCA is in effect buying the right to use Tesla’s EVs to reduce its average CO2 emissions. According to industry analysts Jato Dynamics, FCA sold 961,000 units in the EU last year, with a fleet average of 125.3g/km. Assuming no change in those figures, FCA’s 2021 target will be 89.8g/km, meaning the firm faces a potential fine of £2.8 billion. Tesla only sold 29,000 units in the EU last year, but because cars that emit under 50g/km are rewarded with extra ‘super credits’, it’s enough to reduce the combined FCA/Tesla fleet average to 121.6g/km. While their 2021 target would rise to 91.6g/km (because of a higher average fleet weight), the potential penalty is reduced to £2.25 billion – a saving of more than £500m. Felipe Munoz, an automotive industry analyst at Jato, notes that a lot depends on how much FCA is paying Tesla – and he adds that the 2018 figures don’t account for “the big impact” the Model 3 is having on Tesla’s position in Europe. “As it sells more cars, it will have a bigger impact in any pool,” he says. By 2021 the Tesla deal is likely to save FCA even more money. FCA has also begun an electrification programme, with Jeep and Alfa Romeo plug-in hybrids and an electric Fiat 500 due next year. This deal will help to bridge the gap until those models are selling. Munoz notes that FCA isn’t the only one facing massive EU CO2 emissions fines, saying many “are not prepared” for the 2021 targets. Jato cites both the PSA and Volkswagen Groups as being particularly at risk of massive fines. Meanwhile, Toyota and Mazda have also agreed to pool their fleets, as have PSA’s brands. He adds: “By the time EVs become a real alternative to the internal combustion engine, it might be too late for the car makers, and many of them will have to look for solutions such as the FCA-Tesla pool.” Munoz does note that while the deal works for FCA now, “they are at the end feeding a competitor, making it stronger and more threatening.” Read more Government's approach to emissions is counter-productive​ FCA and Tesla agree deal to beat EU emissions regulations​ Elon Musk claims Tesla will have robotaxis on roads by 2020 View the full article
  15. Aston's new convertible DBS manages the same top speed as the hard-top, making it the fastest soft-top Aston ever Aston Martin has pulled the wraps off the fastest convertible in its history: the new DBS Superleggera Volante. Capable of hitting 211mph – identical to the hard-top DBS – the British firm’s newest addition is available to order now, priced from £247,500. That headline figure is £22,500 more than the coupé, but Aston claims the “extra level of sensory overload that only an open-top super-GT can deliver” justifies the premium. The roof itself is the most advanced soft-top the firm has ever produced, with eight layers of insulation and the ability to fully open it in 14sec – from inside the car or externally via the remote. The mechanism is said to have been put through more than 100,000 cycles in development in everywhere from Nevada’s Death Valley to the Arctic Circle. The roof compresses to a claimed class-leading height of 26cm in the boot, maximising available luggage space. The soft-top itself is available in eight exterior colours, with six interior headliners available to order. Despite the identical top speed, DBS Superleggera Volante weighs a not inconsiderable 170kg more than the coupé, at 1863kg, which marginally affects acceleration. Aston claims a 0-62mph time two-tenths slower (3.6sec) and a 0-100mph time three-tenths slower (6.7sec) than the coupé’s. The twin-turbocharged 5.2-litre V12 produces an identical 715bhp and 664lb ft of torque to the coupé, too. Official fuel economy is reduced from the 22.9mpg of the coupé to 20.1mpg under the new WLTP testing regime. Aside from the roof, the rest of the Volante’s exterior is broadly identical to the coupé’s. However, Aston has revised the car’s rear profile – in particular the rear diffuser – to compensate for any aerodynamic losses from the soft-top. As a result, it produces 177kg of downforce at its peak – a mere 3kg less than the coupé. Read more Aston Martin DBS Superleggera review All-electric Aston Martin Rapide E revealed with more than 600bhp Virtual insanity: Driving Aston Martin's Valkyrie simulator​ View the full article
  16. Firm will unveil a new electric concept car next month; it's set to feature autonomous and artificial intelligence technology Citroën has confirmed that it will unveil a new future-thinking concept car next month. Marking 100 years of the French firm's existence, the as-yet-unnamed model will follow the Ami One, shown at last month’s Geneva motor show. While that previewed a low-cost, quadricycle-class city car, the new concept is expected to be full-sized. It will be unveiled in the coming weeks, just ahead of its public debut at an innovation event in Paris called VivaTech on 16 May. Few details have been released, but Citroën calls it a “100% electric and autonomous object featuring artificial intelligence”. It also claims the concept “symbolises ultra-comfort and offers a unique travelling experience on board". Expect a more outlandish exterior look as a preview of the firm’s future, too, with the promise of “exceptional styling”. Citroën also intends to use VivaTech to showcase PSA’s mobility brand, Free2Move, which explores transport solutions both inside and outside cities. The Ami One will also reappear as Citroën uses every opportunity it can to showcase a century of its innovation. Read more: New Citroën Ami One could be driven without a licence PSA Group boss "open" to Jaguar Land Rover acquisition PSA chairman Carlos Tavares on the group's next steps View the full article
  17. Electric vehicle start-up Siticars' new Me is an ultralight, compact two-seater for urban drivers London-based EV start-up Siticars has unveiled a two-seater microcar aimed at drivers living in the new Ultra Low Emission Zone. The Me, available in pick up, box van and passenger car forms, boasts a top speed of 48.5mph and claimed range of 93 miles from its 10bhp 72V electric motor. It is not dissimilar to the Reva G-Wiz, an electric vehicle on sale during the noughties, which was widely criticised for poor safety. This is, in part, to the fact that quadricycles - of which both the G-Wiz and Me are defined - are not liable to the same stringent EuroNCAP tests as heavier, more powerful cars. Siticars says that, although the Me is “fully approved for use on UK roads by DVLA and has full EU certificates of compliance”, it is ineligible to be driven on motorways due to its top speed. While the G-Wiz was on sale during the early days of electric vehicles, there are now a plethora of zero-emission cars on sale, all of which are exempt from new charges favouring low-emission vehicles, such as London’s Congestion Charge and the recently introduced Ultra Low Emissions Zone. Siticars said the benefit of the 518kg Me over such cars includes its ability to park “in less than half of the space required for traditional cars”. A company spokesperson said that parking 90 degrees to the kerb would allow up to three to park in one space. The similarly sized Renault Twizy is cheaper, starting at £6,690, but features a tandem-style two-seat layout, as opposed to the Me’s side-by-side format, and does not include batteries, which have to be leased from the company. The Me can be ordered online from May for between £7999 and £12,000 according to specified battery choice and bodystyle. The Me, measuring just 2245mm x 1290mmm, can be equipped with 10kWh lithium batteries that can be charged from a domestic 13amp 3-pin wall socket in 4-6 hours. A less expensive lead acid battery option yields a charging time of between 6-8 hours. An optional portable charger is available with the Me, enabling overnight charging for users with no off-street parking. The company says it is currently shipping 50 units per month, but is capable of producing 20 times that number. The Me is available only in the UK, with air conditioning, LED running lights, a rear parking camera, electrically assisted rear door, Bluetooth and panoramic roof fitted at standard. Read more James Ruppert: the best ULEZ-beaters for urban families London's Ultra Low Emission Zone: what you need to know​ James Ruppert: second-hand cars that get you into the ULEZ zone​ View the full article
  18. CEO also predicts the American EV maker will be selling cars with no steering wheel or pedals by 2021 Tesla CEO Elon Musk yesterday laid out another series of ambitious targets while hosting a Tesla Autonomy Investor Day. These included more details of a plan to profitability for the American electric vehicle (EV) maker during a period of additional financial turmoil. There is concern within Wall Street that demand for Teslas has slowed after an initial global rush this year, while short-term problems such as arranging successful deliveries globally has proved to be a sticking point. Musk forecasted that the company will become “extremely cashflow-positive” once it has established a network of “autonomous robotaxis”, beginning next year. He admitted that Tesla “won’t have regulatory approval everywhere” to run such a network but said he was “confident we will have at least regulatory approval somewhere, literally next year”. Acknowledging criticism of Tesla sometimes failing to deliver on its promises, Musk said: “All these things, I said we’d do them. We did it. We’re going to do the robotaxi things too. The only criticism – it’s a fair one – sometimes they’re not on time”. The reference may be to Musk’s frequent optimism for the advent of full autonomy, which appears to have been pushed back. Last month, Tesla started shipping cars that are said to be capable of fully autonomous driving, thanks to new hardware designed in-house. By the end of 2019, Tesla will reportedly have a wireless software update for that system ready, with a target to ensure the system is “safe” by the middle of 2020. Musk promised analysts back in January that the Full Self-Driving system would be granted for permission towards the end of this year. He added yesterday: "probably two years from now, we will make a car with no steering wheel or pedals". If regulators can be successfully convinced of the system’s safety, permission to launch an autonomous taxi service could be granted for the end of 2020. The taxi fleet will be largely made up of customers cars, with Tesla aiming to rent them out to users of a ride-hailing smartphone app. However, it’s expected that a number of new models will need to be brought in if the platform increases in scale during that time. During yesterday's event, Musk also said that Tesla plans in the near future to allow an “aggressive mode” for the Autopilot system that will introduce a “slight chance of a fender bender”, claiming this is "the only way to navigate Los Angeles traffic". Read more: FCA and Tesla agree deal to beat EU emissions regulations Tesla prices changes again as Standard Range model S axed Saloon showdown: 2019 Tesla Model 3 vw new BMW 3 Series View the full article
  19. A V8 Jag S-Type would be a fine part of any multi-car garage The best car collections are built on a budget, and include an option for all circumstances Received a very nice question from Gus about how to run a multi-car garage. There are a lot of Autocar contributors and readers who are bonkers enough to entertain all the fun and games involved when looking after more than one motor. After all, you can only drive one at a time, but then again, it’s always handy to have a spare. This isn’t a flippant answer situation. There is plenty to be said when it comes to multiple motors – except I don’t want to bore you with all the procedural bits. Let’s have fun trying to buy something small, something medium, something large and something sporty. The beauty of this is that it’s your garage and you can have whatever you please between the walls, or on the drive. Let’s set a realistic budget of £5000, which, because there are no other pressing bills, your other half says you can blow on your four-wheeled dreams. Okay, small. A characterful one for bobbing about and doing hardly any miles to the gallon. A Daihatsu Charade would be a hoot. A little cube of joy with a raucous 1.0-litre engine. A 2004 example, which is still £30 to tax and has air-con that isn’t a sunroof, is yours for £795. Plus it delivers 58.9mpg. If everything else goes askew, here’s your daily driver. Medium-size mile-muncher? The great thing is that a middle-order executive with a posh badge would work, even if a Ford Mondeo is the obvious answer. Instead, how about a Jaguar S-Type with the V8 engine and, even more convincingly, a full MOT and an outrageously reasonable mileage? Really well looked after and all for just £695. A 4x4 can be an inappropriate buy but, in our case, it counts as large. Best go for a square slab of wonderfulness that isn’t a Defender. No, a 1990s Jeep Cherokee is a tackily constructed expression of the original SUV culture. The great thing is that you can get a 1995 2.5 TD Sport for under £1000 now. Not all of them are in great nick, but one of your vehicles always turns into a project anyway. How about one car that doesn’t need to pay that pesky car tax? It might even go up in value. A Lada Vaz 2101 from 1972 rather took my eye. Needs a bit of meddling (but not that much) and it’s £1200. Seemed tidy enough and suddenly I’ve only spent £3690, not bought a real sports car and I already have two that need some attention. Well, that didn’t go quite as I planned it, but do you know what? That is mostly how car collections, even the modest ones, come about. What we almost bought this week Ford Cortina 1.6 L: Could you resist a mint Cortina Mk5 from a time when saloons ruled the roost and SUVs were things Americans drove? It’s the base L spec, the staple of 1980s sales reps and in 1981, when this one was registered, Britain’s best-selling new car. We love its orange paint and contrasting beige cloth interior. It’s got a new MOT with no advisories. Tales from Ruppert’s garage Mini Cooper, mileage - 102,618: The Mini Cooper is a fully functioning, small noisy car from more than half a century ago. When I remind myself of this, or just drive the thing like it’s the last time I will be allowed to, I don’t mind paying out £824.62 to make it better. That included a lot of small parts, from hoses to studs and clips, plus a colossal amount of labour. Oh, and rather a lot of petrol, as well as all the usual fluids. Totally worth it. Reader’s ride Volkswagen Golf 1.9 TDI: Robert Carr invites us to take a closer look at what he describes as his cheap ride. “I needed a five-door runaround for driving around town, going to the tip, taking the parents out,” he says. “Bought this Golf 1.9 diesel from a friend’s sister in July last year. It came with full VW history, a recent service, 12 months’ MOT, 130,000 miles and two mature owners. I lobbed some second-hand winter tyres on the steels that came with the car, then bought these alloys for £40 from a friendly breaker. Bought a set of Bosch wiper blades to see properly. Cost £700 in all. I’ve done 5000 trouble-free miles since.” Readers’ questions Question: My wife’s choice of new car is between a Mini Countryman Cooper Sport auto and a Mercedes-Benz GLA Urban Edition auto. The Mercedes is bigger but has no sat-nav, which the Mini has. Advice, please. James Wilson, Devon Answer: The GLA will be replaced next year by an all-new model, while the Countryman is relatively fresh (it was launched in 2017). Don’t worry about the GLA’s lack of integrated sat-nav – it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so you can run your phone’s maps on it. The GLA is quicker than the Mini but not as fun to drive. Both aren’t especially comfortable but the Mini is roomier and more practical. It gets our vote. John Evans Question: Is it worth paying to have my nearly new car’s paint protected with a sealer? The car salesman is very insistent. Karen Pitchford, via email Answer: If properly applied, it probably is. That’s a big ‘if’, though, since you’ll never know for sure. It doesn’t help that the stuff is insanely expensive and thrust at customers by salesmen on a commission. Suspicions aroused, we assume it’s quack medicine and wave it away. Without it, our advice is to avoid parking under trees, remove bird droppings when they land and wash and polish the car from time to time. John Evans Read more Opinion: What's the best three car garage?​ Preserving the paint on a Ferrari F40​ Matt Prior: Are cars becoming less practical?​ View the full article
  20. "The new hybrid powertrains are developments of those already engineered for the 911" Stuttgart is plotting a full range of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure-electric 718 models Porsche is developing a fully electric 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman that will be launched by 2022 – and is considering offering them alongside mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the current cars. The next generations of the two-door roadster and coupé sports cars have for some time been thought to be among a range of future pure-electric models set to be spearheaded by the upcoming four-door Taycan and the Taycan Sports Turismo. However, Porsche chairman Oliver Blume has indicated that hybrid powertrains are also being considered. “We have prototypes of the 718 running in electric now, and a hybrid prototype is being built,” he said. “If you look to the next generation of those cars it is possible, although it is not yet clear whether it would be plug-in hybrid or hybrid.” The decision to pursue both hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the 718 Boxster and Cayman alongside the forthcoming electric models is understood to have been taken after an internal engineering study revealed that lithium ion battery technology is not yet sufficiently advanced to enable pure-electric versions to offer more than 186 miles of range without significant changes to the existing mid-engine platform architecture. Porsche is now pursuing a plan that could see pure-electric Boxster and Cayman variants using the company’s new PPE architecture offered alongside updated versions of today’s models featuring hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivetrains. The plan would mirror the move taken by Porsche with the next-generation Macan, which will continue to be produced on its existing MLB platform with new hybrid drivetrains while offering the choice of a pure-electric variant based on the PPE architecture. Speaking about Porsche’s plan for the second-generation Macan, Blume said: “For at least two to three years we will have both. At that point, we can decide whether to upgrade the combustion engines to the new Euro 7 standard or go full electric. The pace that countries are changing is different – China wants electric now, Russia is in less of a hurry, for instance.” The new mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivetrains intended for the 718 models are developments of those already engineered for the larger 911, according to sources. The electrification measures are among changes designed to allow Porsche’s existing combustion engines to meet the upcoming EU7 emissions standards. However, while the hybrid systems scheduled to appear on the facelifted version of the eighth-generation 911 early next decade are based around Porsche’s horizontally opposed six-cylinder petrol engine, those being earmarked for the new 718 Boxster and Cayman are set to use the smaller-capacity flat four engine introduced by Porsche in 2016. Both units feature a 48V electrical system and disc-shaped electric motor integrated into a modified version of the existing Boxster and Cayman’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The mild-hybrid system has been conceived to provide an electric boost to the petrol engine for added performance potential and increased efficiency, albeit without the ability to provide an electric-only driving mode. The plug-in hybrid also provides electric boosting but has been built around a battery of sufficient capacity to offer extended pure-electric running. Porsche’s plan to give the 718 Boxster and its fixed-roof Cayman sibling electric power originated from the 2011 Boxster E project. That machine featured a 121bhp electric motor with a range of 106 miles, although EV technology has moved on substantially since then. More recently in 2017, Porsche developed the one-off Cayman e-volution. It had a claimed 0-62mph acceleration time of 3.3sec, a 120mph top speed and a range of 120 miles on a 38kWh lithium ion battery. Despite the impressive performance credentials of the Cayman e-volution, concerns about its limited range led Porsche to pursue the development of solid-state batteries – both for future pure-electric versions of the 718 Boxster and Cayman as well as for an electric hypercar that is expected to appear in 2025 as a spiritual successor to the 918 Spyder. Porsche insiders citing studies carried out by parent company Volkswagen say they anticipate a rapid evolution of lithium ion cells for an improved energy-to-weight ratio in the next generation of batteries. Estimates are that cell energy density both by volume and weight will increase by 25% from 2019 to 2025. By 2025 they also expect the adoption of solid-state batteries to bring a further increase of 25%. This would allow Porsche to pack more energy in the same space with no additional weight penalty. A £76 million investment by Volkswagen in QuantumScape has given Porsche access to the latest developments in solid-state battery technology. Read more Volkswagen aims for solid-state battery production by 2025​ Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo: new EV estate hits the 'Ring​ 2019 Porsche Taycan: new official pics and details​ View the full article
  21. Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up this week's gossip from across the automotive industry In this week's round up of automotive gossip, we take a look at BMW's plans for future electric models, Jaguar's subtle interior ethos and more. BMW’s theory of EV-olution The BMW i3 could spawn multiple successors rather than a single new car, says product management boss Peter Henrich. “Do we need one specific successor to bring the i3’s spirit and technology into multiple other vehicles?” Henrich said. “That is what we will be thinking about.” Volkwagen’s coal goal Volkswagen says it will convert its two power stations in Wolfsburg – which supply five factories and the local town – from coal to gas over the next three years. The £350 million scheme will use ‘combined-cycle’ gas and steam turbines to create electricity and heat, reducing CO2 by about 60%. Jag keeps it simple Jaguar’s interior design will never stray into flamboyance, according to design boss Ian Callum. “Everything should be there for a purpose,” he said at the recent launch of the revised XE. “Some of the flourishes adorning the cabins of our rivals go too far – at least for a Jaguar. Beauty is about something being easy on the eye. It’s about good taste.” Power paradox Seat CEO Luca de Meo sees the current state of public electric car charging as a chicken and egg situation, but is confident governments and automakers will align eventually. “The infrastructure leaders are waiting for us to prove electric cars work, and we are saying we don’t have the infrastructure we can’t sell enough cars. We know there will be a market for them, we will sell cars that need to be charged.” Read more Bolder looks, classier cabin, more tech for 2019 Jaguar XE​ Updated BMW i3 gets longer range​ Seat to add six electrified models by 2021 after record 2018​ View the full article
  22. Jaguar’s new performance SUV is a gutsy, gregarious giggle, but knows how to be grown up when the need arises. A very well-judged fast family car. “An unspecified component supply problem” is the bone offered up to the historical record to explain the near year-long delay of the third ‘SVR’-branded performance car from Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Operations division: the Jaguar F-Pace SVR.This hot SUV was just weeks from its launch to the press in July 2018 when, as a result of a batch of components delivered for production which apparently weren’t as Jaguar ordered them, the decision was taken to cancel the launch and delay the car until the problem could be fixed.That’s the official reason, at any rate: a component supply issue that took nine months to resolve. Hmm. Not sure we’re getting the whole truth there. And it just so happens that SVO has had a new boss, at least one cancelled project (that we know about), and the ripples and repercussions of JLR’s declining corporate fortunes with which to contend during the intervening period between the hot F-Pace’s original introduction timing and now, should you feel inclined towards supposition about other potential explanations for the delay. Plenty clearly do, judging by the rumours I’ve heard.For what it’s worth, though, I don’t buy the theory that new broom Michael van der Sande (formerly of Alpine) could have sent this car back for significant overhaul as one of his first orders of business. A nine-month delay might seem like a long one to us, but in the car industry it’s about enough time to re-engineer a pair of wiper arms and a boot light.View the full article
  23. US firm Vonnen has created a plug-and-play hybrid system for existing 911s, and we've had some time behind the wheel Porsche’s own hybrid 911 is in the works, though a good while off yet. But the engineering might of Stuttgart has been beaten to the punch by Vonnen, a firm based in California’s Silicone Valley turning its hand to electrifying 911s. Chuck Moreland, CEO of Vonnen, says about the idea: “it was a case of us sitting around talking amongst ourselves and thought, hey, wouldn't it be great if... And then we started exploring different ideas of how you might hybridise an existing 911 platform.” That was three years ago, a proof of concept using a 996 as a basis underlined that it was possible. Moreland expands: “This is a C2, and what we did was we took a C4 transaxle, which has a yoke to drive the front, we put a motor in the tunnel and instead of taking torque out, we drove torque back into the transaxle to drive the rear wheels. It worked.” That might have proved it would work, but there was more to come. The proof of concept motor didn’t take advantage of the gear reduction capabilities, so they took a second look. Moreland said: “Okay, cost be damned, what if we wanted to make this thing rip? What would we do?" And so we went back to the drawing board and this is what we dreamed up.” The result is the Vonnen Shadow Drive, a performance hybrid system that adds performance to any 911. To achieve that it squeezes an electric Motor Generator Unit between the flat-six engine and the gearbox, much like Porsche will eventually do with its 992. It replaces the flywheel, that electric motor also removing the need for the starter motor. It’s a tight fit, being around 25mm in depth, shifting the gearbox forward by the same amount - and requiring a 25mm shorter prop to the front if it’s fitted to a Carrera 4 or Turbo model. The batteries powering it are placed under the boot floor, and while Vonnen is currently quiet about the capacity and chemistry, it’s enough for the motor generator unit to deliver a 148bhp and 150lb.ft boost to the car’s overall output depending on the driving mode selected. There’s additional cooling circuits for the motor generator unit and the inverter supplying it, independent of the internal combustion engine’s cooling as they all operate at different temperatures. The system’s weight is around 95kg, but net it’s around 77kg due to the removal of the flywheel and the starter motor. The electronic control of the flat-six is completely unchanged, too, the Vonnen Shadow Drive’s control unit only reading CAN bus data regarding the throttle position, to allow it to add its electric boost when required. The PDK here gets a re-flash, to counter the slippage from the clutches would otherwise occur but otherwise the car doesn’t know the Vonnen Shadow Drive is there. The system can be entirely off, with no electrical assistance at all, while the Street mode adds 90lb.ft of torgue when the accelerator is between 40-60%. Sport mode adds 80lb.ft between 65-95% throttle and an Overboost mode adds the full 150lb.ft at the same rate as in Sport mode. The system is hugely flexible, too, Moreland says that it can conceivably be fitted to any 911, manual or PDK, standard or tuned, naturally aspirated or turbocharged right back to 1965, though earlier cars would need some additional microswitches and sensors to monitor inputs. It’ll fit in the Boxster and Cayman, too. Along with the 991 PDK 3.4 Carrera it’s fitted in here, Vonnen is currently applying it to a GT3 for further development. The cost presently is $75,000, which is huge, but it’s pioneering tech, which adds big performance without having any detrimental effect on emissions. Here, in California, and, increasingly, worldwide, that’s hugely significant. Driving Vonnen’s Porsche 911 hybrid Forget hybrid tech for economy or brief electric-only urban motoring, the Vonnen Shadow Drive is for performance. There’s nothing inside to highlight it’s fitted - if you ignore the power inverter located under the rear window, Vonnen saying it could be positioned out of sight if customers prefer. There’s a smartphone attached to the dash, too, which is nothing unusual today, only it’s running an app showing the status of the batteries, motor and the boost it’s delivering. Switched to off the system does almost nothing, save starting the standard 350hp 3.4-litre flat-six engine and operating the stop-start system in traffic. Switch to Street and the changes are subtle at first, the need for the 40% and above throttle meaning you can drive around it. Where it really aids is flexibility in bigger gears, allowing you to be lazy with the gearbox, the motor generator unit adding that 90lb.ft at low revs, increasing tractability in traffic. On faster roads it’s more apparent, yet the electrically charged performance seems subtly applied. That is, until you glance at the speedometer. It’s deceptively quick, it so linear and progressive in its delivery that you’ll find yourself carrying way more speed than you think. Near silent, too; there’s only a slight, not unwelcome, electronic pitch audible above the ordinary sounds you’d associate with the 911’s boxer engine. In Sport and Overboost modes the greater performance is more obvious, though there remains subtlety to the way it operates that’s counter to usual performance upgrade compromises. With the electric motor working it’s supplemental. The Shadow Drive moniker is an apt description, enhancing without taking away from the standard car’s engagement, there being no obvious regeneration, the engine braking remaining all but identical. It’s clever, arguably a bit too clever at times; it might benefit from an earlier electrical application in Street mode to allow you’d feel the motor’s effect earlier. The development is ongoing though, and Vonnen admits there’s opportunity for changes, it all in the system coding and application. What’s undeniable is the potential, something this Silicon Valley firm has been quick to realise in leaving Porsche to play catch-up. Read more: New 992-series Porsche 911: mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions detailed Porsche 911 2019 review View the full article
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