Jump to content

The Motorists Guide

Administrators
  • Content Count

    7,361
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    28

Posts posted by The Motorists Guide


  1. F1 2019 game official screenshot - 1 Covid-19 may have forced broadcasters’ hands, but the popularity of esports was exploding without TV’s help

    As the world of sport went into lockdown along with the rest of us, TV broadcasters understandably scrambled to fill the void left in their schedules. 

    Racing esports seemed the natural fit: the cars and tracks we all know, (some of) the drivers we recognise, and all possible without stepping outside. After all, a steering wheel and pedals are closer to real driving than moving an on-screen football player with a control pad.

    Formula 1 certainly tried to make an impression with its Bahrain Virtual Grand Prix, bringing in a handful of current drivers to lend its test broadcast some legitimacy to fans with no experience of digital racing. 

    Johnny Herbert gave us all a giggle with his first-corner antics, but connection issues led to the now infamous LandoBot running half the race in place of McLarens Lando Norris. The race was held with a handful of driver assists that neither the professional gamers nor the real-world drivers are allowed to use in regular competition, so wasn't even a fair representation of the official F1 esports series.

    It’s clearly being treated more as an entertaining distraction, with only five F1 drivers confirmed for the second race out of a field of 20. And a returning Johnny human missile Herbert, of course.

    f1_2019_game_2.jpg?itok=VDzsS-Km

    As someone who has watched virtual racing for years now, I wonder whether this halfway house approach will win over fans - and whether theyll stick around once restrictions lift, the motorsport calendar starts up again and the esports series goes back to online streaming.

    I hope they keep tuning in: the racecraft is the same, the overtaking opportunities take just as much timing and precision, and though it’s hard to believe, some of the drivers are even bigger characters than the ones youll find in the F1 paddock.

    Theres also just as much variety online as there is in reality. Even at nine o’clock on a weekday morning, a quick glance at the most popular games being broadcast live on Twitch – the streaming platform of choice usually dominated by popular shooters like Call of Duty and Fortnite – will show you that iRacing alone is being watched by thousands of viewers. The official F1 2019 game isn't far behind. Endurance racing fans have Assetto Corsa Competizione, the official game of the Blancpain GT championship. 

    The biggest races see hundreds of thousands tune in, and have been doing for years. The industry went from commentators streaming in their bedrooms to fully staffed studio sets. It’s why the F1 esports broadcasting team could make the transition from web to TV so smoothly - they’ve all had years of practice.

    It’s not like esports was some niche that the coronavirus pandemic propelled into the mainstream. And yet it still took Fox Sports by surprise when its eNascar invitational ‘trial run broadcast drew a million viewers. Sure, it had more real-world drivers taking part, but it wasnt watered down to appease a more mainstream audience either. The network will now cover an entire season of virtual races.

    iracing_nascar_2.jpg?itok=aU8aYl4b

    There are always going to be arguments over whether virtual racing is ‘proper racing and whether the sim drivers have as much talent as the ones that actually do it for real. Right now, its a moot point.

    Ill still be heading to Silverstone, Thruxton and Brands Hatch to watch my local BTCC rounds in person once the racing season begins - but Ill continue to tune in to all the online action as well.

    READ MORE

    How to win an F1 race without leaving home

    Racing lines: It's time to take F1 sims seriously​

    Opinion: Can virtual racing replace the real thing?​

    View the full article


  2. Nissan Micra K11
    Micra stood up well to the strain of 86 bumpy laps in three hours
    A three-hour marathon in a field? No sweat for our tough little budget banger. We scaled the motor racing heights to give it a perfect send-off

    As long as I live, I may never execute a more successful opening lap in a motorsport event. 

    Having picked my team’s grid position by pulling a number out of a hat, I started the three-hour grass-track event seventh out of 19 cars. The train of tired old hatchbacks and the odd knackered coupé completed two slow laps behind the safety car before the green flag was waved. Immediately after crossing the start/finish line, we squeezed one by one through the single-file chicane, then in the long right-hander that followed I was able to drive around the outside of the car ahead of me to climb into sixth position.

    A corner or two later, the BMW 3 Series coupé that had started from fifth position spun, allowing me to slip past. And then, towards the end of the opening lap, one of the leading cars pulled over with steam pouring from its bonnet. And so, for a brief but oh-so-sweet moment, car 17 was flying high in fourth position. Fourth! Eat my dust, Lewis. 

    dsc_5787.jpg?itok=pEMSUypd

    Allow me to bring you up to speed. A few weeks earlier I’d bought the cheapest used car I could find, which turned out to be this tatty 22 year-old, K11-generation Nissan Micra, to see if it was at all possible to buy a vehicle for peanuts and actually use the thing. By driving 500 miles in a single day and experiencing not one problem, I like to think we answered that question in emphatic fashion. Which rather begged the question: exactly how tough is a 1996 Nissan Micra? If it could survive three hours of being thrashed around a bumpy field, we would have our answer. 

    The Hearst Challenge, organised by Gloucestershire rally driver Dan Moss, is an annual endurance event that raises money for the local air ambulance. Over the years, it has donated tens of thousands of pounds to a very good cause. The only significant rules are each team must buy and prepare its car for no more than £500, and it must be two-wheel drive. Otherwise, it’s all fair game.

    dsc_5688.jpg?itok=PzU0tTkK

    Each team must be made up of three drivers. By simply recruiting two of my best mates, I inadvertently formed a kind of grass-track super-team. Rob Shipp is an amateur rally driver and by a clear margin the most gifted car mechanic I know, making him easily the most important member of the team. Adam Gould, meanwhile, is pretty handy on the tools himself and was for a while one of this country’s most promising young rally drivers. He has led rounds of the British Rally Championship and won many stages, and is able to do things in a car that people like me can only dream of. 

    Ah yes, and so we come to yours truly. I am no more handy with a spanner than I am with a clarinet, while my experience of driving competitively on the loose amounts to precisely nothing at all. But I would at least be supplying the car. 

    dsc_5569.jpg?itok=iFii75Sf

    Rob, Adam and I spent the day before the event preparing the Micra, which basically meant ripping out every unnecessary item, apparently to reduce weight. All the glass, other than the windscreen, came out (Rob delicately removed the rear screen by throwing a spanner through it: ‘Ah, so that’s what those things are for’, I thought). I made myself useful by applying our race numbers using duct tape. Cleverly, Rob also fitted an auxiliary radiator into the cabin because he knew the car’s original radiator would get filled with muck and quickly cease to function. He also replaced a couple of drive belts and fitted a proper racing seat, albeit a very old one, while Adam passed him tools and I helpfully checked Twitter. 

    Our tyre strategy was a very simple one: we would use the tyres that were already on the car. Many other teams would fit knobbly rally tyres but, apart from the small matter of not having any of those, we also reckoned they’d put far too much strain on the hubs and suspension. However, we were at least smart enough to take the spare, which was an unused winter tyre and therefore the best one we had, and fit it on the front left corner, where it would be put to best use around the clockwise circuit. That left us with a single spare, meaning two punctures would put us out of the race. The final job was to replace the very worn out clutch with a brand new one. 

    dsc_5566.jpg?itok=xy16DpPU

    When we arrived on the day, we immediately felt as though we’d brought a banana to a gun fight. Everybody else had clearly put in rather more preparatory work than us. We had no doubt the little Micra would break down soon enough, or that we’d pick up a couple of punctures within the first 30 minutes, so our pit stop strategy called for very short opening stints to ensure all three drivers got a go. 

    As described, my opening lap was a peach. But just as I was eyeing up the car in front for third position, a whole stream of much quicker cars came flying through from behind, dropping me right back down the order.

    The course was a little less than a mile long with a good mix of tight and twisty corners and a couple of much quicker sections. The car was fantastic to drive in the higher-speed stuff. With so little grip, you could really bung it in and feel the back end sweep around as you turned in towards the apex. I started off using first gear for the chicane, second for most of the lap and third in the quick sections, but I soon realised second gear would be perfectly adequate for the entire lap, as long as I held the engine on the limiter for a couple of seconds in two specific parts of the circuit. 

    That opening stint was enormous fun, but the hard, dry ground was like a washboard and the car rattled violently. I pulled in to the pits after 15 minutes, let Adam jump in and waited for the car to fail. 

    dsc_5602.jpg?itok=cKkxr0xg

    But it just kept on going. Rob drove a longer stint, then I got back in and carried on. The dust got everywhere. If you followed another car closely, you’d be completely blind for whole seconds at a time. We had no idea how we were getting on but, while other cars had to pit regularly with problems, our little Micra happily chugged away. This was going okay; maybe we were even in the top 10. 

    The other guys completed their second runs and I drove a short final stint, crossing the line after three trouble-free hours. The day was wrapped up with a prize-giving ceremony, led by Dan Moss. Starting from the bottom, each team was called out in order, along with their completed number of laps. When Dan reached 10th position and car 17 hadn’t yet been mentioned, I assumed we’d been forgotten. Then it emerged we had managed 86 laps, good enough for… fourth! 

    dsc_6300.jpg?itok=xCtEL_nI

    Had I walked away then, I would have done so a very happy man. But then we heard the team that finished ahead of us had completed just one more lap. A single lap. If it wasn’t for the completely unnecessary final driver change, we would have nicked a podium. Adam called it his greatest disappointment in motorsport and that – as anybody out there who is familiar with his competitive record will know – is saying something. 

    In the end, then, we considered P289 BUX’s motor racing debut as bittersweet. But make no mistake, the K11 Nissan Micra is a trooper. 

    Dan Prosser

    This article was originally published on 11 November 2018. We're revisiting some of Autocar's most popular features to provide engaging content in these challenging times. 

    Read more

    Nissan Micra review

    How to buy a banger

    A road trip in Britain's cheapest used car

    View the full article


  3. vw_20_0.jpg?itok=eV_udB2_ Nearly 90,000 Audi, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen car owners win ruling in British compensation case saying brands did use unlawful ‘defeat devices’

    Volkswagen has lost the first major ruling in a landmark High Court lawsuit by owners in England and Wales affected by the Dieselgate emissions scandal

    The class action lawsuit, which could be the largest consumer action in English legal history, involves almost 90,000 owners of AudiSeatSkoda and Volkswagen models. They are claiming for compensation over the installation of illegal ‘defeat devices’ to cheat European emissions standards. 

    Lawyers for the owners say Volkswagen knowingly “cheated” these rules put in place to “save lives”  by installing an unlawful device designed to detect a rolling road test and alter the combustion process to reduce nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions by up to 40 times.  

    The judge in the case, Mr Justice Waksman, ruled that “the software function in issue in this case is indeed a defeat device” under the classification defined by the European Union. The judge claimed he was “far from alone in this conclusion”, noting various courts and industry bodies that agree with the verdict.

    He called Volkswagen's defence “highly flawed” and “absurd”, adding: “A software function which enables a vehicle to pass the test because it operates the vehicle in a way which is bound to past the test and in which it does not operate own the road is a fundamental subversion of the test and the objective behind it."

    vw_12_0.jpg?itok=HvmdwHT9

    After the ruling, the head of group litigation at Slater and Gordon, which represents around 70,000 of the claimants, said in a statement: “This damning judgement confirms what our clients have known for a long time, but which Volkswagen has refused to accept: namely that Volkswagen fitted defeat devices into millions of vehicles in the UK in order to cheat emissions tests."

    Volkswagen responded that it is “disappointed” in today’s ruling but that the “judgement relates only to preliminary issues”. The company intends to appeal.

    “To be clear, today’s decision does not determine liability or any issues of causation or loss for any of the causes of action claimed," it said in a statement. "Volkswagen remains confident in our case that we are not liable to the claimants as alleged and the claimants did not suffer any loss.”

    The first hearing began in December 2019, looking at whether the company’s ‘EA189’ diesel engine (sold in 1.2-litre, 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre capacities) featured such a device.

    Despite today’s ruling, there are still further phases of the case, including determining 'causation' - i.e. whether or not the defeat device caused damage. These are due to play out at the end of this year or early 2021. If Volkswagen is ultimately found guilty, it could be ordered to pay hundreds of millions of pounds in compensation. 

    Volkswagen denied compensation to many UK owners, claiming the cars weren't fitted with a ‘defeat device’ under UK law. Previous rulings to the contrary in other countries, such as the US, carry no weight in the UK, hence the need for the class action proceedings.

    Read more: 

    Volkswagen Dieselgate damages: civil case to begin today

    Volkswagen reaches £698 million dieselgate settlement in Germany

    16% of Volkswagen's Dieselgate 'fix' cars suffer power loss, says UK court case

    View the full article


  4. Messerschmitt KR200 side-by-side with larger car We round up our hottest stories, pictures and videos for you to devour in your lunch break

    It’s everyone’s favourite part of the working day, lunchtime, and you’re no doubt craving a hefty dose of car-related content. 

    So we’ve revived our Autocar Lunchbox feature to bring you our favourite videos, stories, photos, quotes and more all in one place. Here are today’s picks:

    HOT NEWS

    AMG goes silent

    amg.jpg?itok=VlRYIeeL

    Porsche has the Taycan, Tesla the Model S and Jaguar the upcoming XJ, and now it’s Mercedes’ turn to dip a toe in the electric luxury saloon segment. Its EQS flagship swill arrive in standard form in 2022, but word has now reached us of a planned 600bhp AMG version that will spawn a series of new hot zero-emissions models. Expect a twin-motor set-up to deliver power and torque on a par with the existing S63.

    Mercedes EQS: electric luxury limo to spawn AMG version

    VIDEO OF THE DAY

    Learning from the best

    Think of the best Japanese sports cars of all time and it's a fair bet that the Honda NSX and Mazda MX-5 will be near, if not at, the top of the list. Question, then: how would the new Toyota GR Supra compare to these two greats? It’s coupé vs roadster vs supercar as we head to the track for the ultimate Japanese sports car showdown. 

    PHOTO OF THE DAY

    Good sports

    17-porsche-911-carrera-4s-2020-hero-rear

    Moody skies, an empty B-road and the rear ends of two of the best-looking sports cars money can buy: this was a good day.

    The Jaguar F-Type has been revamped for 2020 with a bold new front end, a new engine derivative and subtle chassis tweaks, and we had to find out if that was enough to keep it in contention for sports car supremacy. Enter the standard-bearing Porsche 911, then, and let battle commence. 

    V8 vs flat-six: Jaguar F-Type R battles Porsche 911

    QUOTE OF THE DAY

    Combust or bust

    “We take our CO2 targets very seriously and want to be a role model on CO2, but that doesn’t mean we will exclude the combustion engine.”

    golf_1.jpg?itok=7Hiqi73a

    Strong words there from Volkswagen technical chief Matthias Rabe, who has expressed his belief that combustion engines will survive, due to the development of environmentally friendly fuels. 

    Volkswagen: Combustion engine has life in it yet

    FROM THE ARCHIVE

    From trouble to bubble

    mes3.jpg?itok=nz0MMhzy

    The name Messerschmitt conjures up images of snarling fighter planes zipping after Spitfires in the skies above southern Britain, but when the Second World War had ended, the Bf 109’s manufacturer had to find another way to keep afloat. Say hello to the KR200: a frugal three-wheeler with just 10bhp and, curiously, "two and a half seats". We clambered aboard in 1957 for our first drive.

    Throwback Thursday: 1957 Messerschmitt KR200 first drive​

    POPULAR OPINION

    1-goodwood-members-meeting_0.jpg?itok=AK

    With everything else that’s going on in the world at the moment, the temporary postponement of motorsport seems like a drop in the ocean, but it could be the death knell for Britain’s thriving national and historic fraternities. Including Formula 1, UK motorsport employees 40,000 people across 4500 firms, so the impact could be felt much wider than anticipated. 

    Opinion: Coronavirus ushers in dark times for motorsport​

    View the full article


  5. 1781128_kia_xceed_phev_1.jpg?itok=bvfhX7 Kia's new petrol-electric PHEVs start from £29,995 and promise up to 201mpg combined

    Kia has confirmed UK spec details of its first plug-in hybrid models, based on the Ceed Sportswagon and Xceed crossover. 

    Available to order now, the Sportswagon PHEV is priced at £29,995 in its sole 3 trim level, while the Xceed starts from £30,695 with a choice of 3 or First Edition trims.

    Deliveries were originally tipped to begin this month, but the mass disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic means Kia will now begin these at a later date. 

    The Xceed and Ceed Sportswagon are both powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to a 44.5kW electric motor and an 8.9kWh lithium-polymer battery pack. Combined outputs are 139bhp and 195lb ft of torque, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 10.5sec for the Ceed Sportswagon and 10.6sec for the Xceed.

    Both are mated to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox rather than the traditional continuously variable transmission (CVT) found in most hybrids. Kia claims this makes for reduced powertrain losses from energy conversion and offers a more enjoyable driving experience.

    1781081_kia_ceed_sportswagon_phev_8.jpg?

    Combining the above with regenerative braking that harvests kinetic energy that would otherwise be lost, Kia claims an all-electric range of 37 miles for the Sportswagon and 36 miles for the Xceed. Both can be charged in around 2hr 15min via a 3.3kW AC charger. 

    Official fuel economy and CO2 emissions for the Xceed plug-in are 201.8mpg and 32g/km. The Ceed Sportswagon fairs slightly worse with quoted figures of 188.3mpg and 33g/km.

    Both models get minor design tweaks to mark them out from other versions, including a closed-off version of Kia’s ‘tiger nose’ grille to aid aerodynamic efficiency. Unique wheel designs also feature, while the Sportswagon gets the more aero-friendly bumpers from the GT-Line spec. The charging port is integrated into the left front wing.

    Specific instruments, new infotainment features and a charging indicator on top of the dash are the main changes inside, but boot size is also reduced on both models. In the Sportswagon, it’s down from 600 to 437 litres when the rear seats are in use, while the Xceed drops from 426 to 291 litres. Both models have a dedicated space beneath the boot floor for the charging cable.

    Options include a Towing Pack – not often a feature of a hybrid car, although Kia doesn’t quote the towing capacity of either model.

    Although not officially confirmed, a PHEV version of the standard Ceed hatchback is also expected to arrive later in 2020.

    READ MORE

    New Kia Xceed crossover: UK prices and specs announced

    New 2020 Kia Sorento to get plug-in hybrid variant

    Kia previews future design with two new SUV concepts

    View the full article


  6. Jaguar Land Rover factory Coronavirus outbreak shuts factories and dealerships, causing steeper decline for car registrations than during the 2009 recession

    New car registrations in the UK plummeted 44.4% year-on-year last month as the coronavirus outbreak closed showrooms and kept customers at home

    The latest figures from the SMMT show that 254,684 new cars were registered in March – 203,370 fewer than in the same period last year. The organisation has now adjusted its market outlook for the year ahead, predicting that 2020 will end with a total of 1.73 million new car registrations in the UK. That's down 23% on the prediction it made in January. 

    The decline is steeper than that recorded during the 2009 financial crisis and represents the worst March since the UK adopted a bi-annual numberplate change system in the late 1990s. March is customarily a busy month for vehicle retail in the UK as buyers rush to buy a car with a new-reg plate. 

    While demand for petrol cars fell 40.4% and diesel cars fell 61.9%, the SMMT notes that registrations for battery electric vehicles surged by nearly 300% to 11,694 units, giving BEVs a 4.6% market share. Plug-in hybrid registrations jumped 38%, but traditional hybrid vehicles fell 7.1%. 

    Demand from private buyers fell by 40.4%, while fleet registrations dropped by 47.4%. 

    The Volkswagen Golf topped the best-sellers list, with 7103 units sold across the month. The Ford Fiesta followed close behind with 6687 units and the Mini hatchback was in third place with 6019. In terms of manufacturer performance, Smart was the worst hit of the mainstream car brands, registering an 85.91% drop in registrations last month. Lexus, meanwhile, saw only a 17.31% decline, while Lotus registered just 15.38% fewer cars.

    A Lexus spokesperson suggested that the recent arrival of the brand's new UX crossover, along with strong demand for hybrids, helped to dampen the sales impact of the shutdown but noted that "most of the cars delivered in March were sold in the months prior, so the deliveries were spread evenly throughout the month rather than back-weighted".

    The figures also reveal the impact that lockdown procedures have had on other countries’ new car markets. Spain dropped 69% year-on-year, France 72% and Italy, which was one of the first European countries to implement a general shutdown, 85%. 

    SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “With the country locked down in crisis mode for a large part of March, this decline will come as no surprise. Despite this being the lowest March since we moved to the bi-annual plate change system, it could have been worse had the significant advanced orders placed for the new 20 plate not been delivered in the early part of the month.

    “We should not, however, draw long-term conclusions from these figures, other than this being a stark realisation of what happens when economies grind to a halt.”

    It's not yet clear when production facilities and showrooms will be able to restart operations. Ferrari was the first European mainstream manufacturer to set a date for its return, but it remains unclear whether its Maranello factory will reopen its doors on 14 April as planned.

    Read more

    Coronavirus and the car industry

    Coronavirus: What motorists need to know​

    View the full article


  7. Airspeeder - taking off
    Alauda's flying electric cars can go up to 124mph
    The series, dubbed Airspeeder, has raised a seven-figure sum in its first funding round, which will help it begin its first head-to-head races

    A race series of electric flying cars has taken a “significant step” towards materialising after sourcing a seven-figure investment in an initial funding round.

    The Airspeeder series, founded by electric flying car company Alauda, is being created to “accelerate the development of electric flying cars” by pitting them against each other in the “close and intense sporting competition traditional motor sport fans crave”.

    The investment will help propel Alauda to its first head-to-head grand prix races. This process will begin with manned test-flights of its electric cars once coronavirus restrictions allow. Remote-controlled versions of the cars were tested in 2019.

    Alauda claims the Airspeeders, which will be tested at its recently established facility in Adelaide, Australia, are powered by the “latest electric powertrains”. These comprise interchangeable 500kWh battery packs and four 32bhp motors that can propel the cars to a top speed of 124mph. The vehicles are said to weigh 250kg, giving them a more potent power-to-weight ratio than a Formula 1 car.

    Andrea Gardiner, Jelix Ventures co-founder said: “Airspeeder’s founder, Matt Pearson, has an inspired vision of the future of 'clean-air' mobility. We are impressed with the early success of his route to early commercialisation through the creation of a flying car racing league. There is a clear global market for Airspeeder and Alauda, and the founder has an outstanding track record as a successful entrepreneur”.

    Firms investing in the series include Australian technology venture capital firms Saltwater Capital and Jelix, forex trading and money management firm Equals and German logistics company DHL.

    Alauda is one of several companies that are working on flying electric cars. Earlier this year, Hyundai and Uber revealed an electric flying taxi concept at CES in Las Vegas that's designed to reduce road congestion, while Porsche and Boeing are developing a similar concept.

    The flying car sector is predicted to be worth $1.5 trillion by 2035.

    READ MORE

    Porsche and Boeing to develop flying car concept 

    Hyundai and Uber unveil electric flying taxi concept 

    Ups & downs: the wild story of the flying car

    View the full article


  8. Audi RS4 - hero side
    £48,980: the price of the RS4 saloon when it was launched in 2005
    With a 414bhp naturally aspirated V8, a manual gearbox and four driven wheels, the B7-generation Audi RS4 saloon is an absolute bargain, as we explain

    Powered by a naturally aspirated 4.2-litre V8 producing 414bhp at a heady 7800rpm and 317lb ft of torque at 5500rpm (90% of it from 2250rpm to 7600rpm), the B7-generation Audi RS4 of 2005-08 made quite an impression – and that was before anyone even drove it.

    When they did, you could hear the cries of surprise emanating from the world’s motoring press, not least from Autocar, which judged the RS4 a landmark car for Audi and “really rather likeable” – even with a price of almost £50,000.

    Today, this really rather likeable car looks to be a future classic. Muscling in is a new breed of owner who takes maintenance rather more seriously than previous custodians and is prepared to pay top cash for the best. How about £30,000? Fortunately, you don’t have to pay that much. Prices start at around £10,000 for the saloon, with a couple of grand more bagging a decent, sub-100,000-mile example with a good history, while £15,000 will grant you admittance to a pool of not only very nice saloons but also estates and cabriolets.

    That’s correct: this RS4 came in all three bodystyles. Naturally, the saloon and estate are the stiffest, but even the cabriolet is commendably rigid, with just a trace of scuttle shake. Better still, lower the roof and you can hear that V8 in all its splendour. It cost close on £60,000 new but today is no pricier than the equivalent saloon. For the record, its roof should open or close in 21 seconds.

    3-audi-rs4-hero-front.jpg?itok=14hYDQOO

    Being heavier, the estate has slightly stiffer suspension than the saloon. It’s more practical, too, while its likeness to the original RS2 Avant – especially in blue – makes it possibly the most desirable of the trio.

    The RS4 was offered with a sixspeed manual gearbox only, which is just fine considering how highly prized manuals are over automatics when it comes to modern classics.

    Also on the menu was quattro four-wheel drive, biased to the rear and tuned to provide a modicum of tail-sliding enjoyment and adjustability in corners, and a trick suspension system that kept the whole plot stable and composed.

    It was possible to specify the Sport package for stiffer suspension and a reduced ride height plus side bolsters that grip you more tightly at the press of a button. These really do clamp you tight but, before you get too excited, know that the manual adjustment that came as standard is just fine.

    Being an Audi and so built like a battleship, the RS4 has stood the test of time remarkably well. Its all-aluminium engine slurps oil at an alarming rate, but keep it topped up and it appears to be bulletproof. Ditto the gearbox.

    Not so the trick suspension, while corrosion is beginning to take its toll on exposed pipes. There’s a lot of alloy in the car’s mechanicals and running gear, and corrosion can occur where it and steel contact each other, so get your prospective purchase on a ramp and have a good look around. It’ll be worth it to find that on-point motor.

    How to get one in your garage

    2-audi-rs4-hero-rear.jpg?itok=jHzufs2Q

    An expert's view

    David Stringer, workshop manager, ADS Automotive: “We’re seeing more RS4s through the workshop now as people cotton onto the model and realise it’s worth preserving. Of course, it’s getting on now and many RS4s have a long list of problems, mainly because they were owned by people who didn’t appreciate what they had and so didn’t have them maintained properly. A popular request is to replace the standard Dynamic Ride Control system with a coilover kit such as the Bilstein B14 or KW Street Comfort. KW’s V3 fully adjustable coilover kit is also popular. It’s personal preference how low you want the car to sit, but many people are choosing to run with the original ride height, which at least saves the sump from whacking speed humps.”

    Buyer beware...

    ■ Engine: Listen for misfires caused by tired coil packs and spark plugs that can damage the catalytic converter. Decarbonisation of the inlet valves is recommended every 50,000 miles. Check the oil cooler pipes (low down at the front) for rust and leaks. While there, scan the sump and alternator belt tensioner for grounding marks. And dip the oil; even a healthy RS4 will use up to three litres per 1000 miles.

    ■ Gearbox: No serious issues have been reported, save that early cars had a clutch hose problem that was covered by a recall. A clutch will last around 40,000 miles.

    ■ Steering, suspension and brakes: Check the power steering pipe from pump to rack, because corrosion is common. Listen for clonks and rattles, too. The bushes on the upper and lower suspension arms are prone to splitting. Worse, the upper arm pinch bolt can seize (it’s a steel component in an alloy wheel bearing housing); if it can’t be removed, you’re in for a new housing. Listen for the control arms knocking on full lock. Juddery brakes may just need surplus dust blowing away – or new discs, which are extremely pricey if you choose original equipment.

    4-audi-rs4-interior.jpg?itok=7seimBrA

    ■ Body and interior: Check the wheel arches for scrapes. Any rust is likely to be repair related, but a corroded battery compartment is a known condition. Check the condition of the driver’s seat bolsters. Also worth knowing The Dynamic Ride Control system hydraulically links diagonally opposing front and rear dampers to reduce pitch and roll in corners. It works; Autocar’s tester praised the car’s composure. Unfortunately, as with all such systems, preserving pressure is key. The seals grow tired and leak fluid after a time, allowing the shocks to depressurise. Repairs are expensive.

    How much to spend

    £10,000-£11,999: High-mileage saloons (100,000-plus), some with good service histories.

    £12,000-£13,999: Tidier saloons with good specifications but still around 100,000 on the clock.

    £14,000-£16,999: Saloons, estates and some cabriolets. Many in good condition and some with mileages down to around 80,000.

    £17,000-£21,999: Some excellent cars with low mileages.

    £22,000-£28,000: The cream of the crop, with mileages typically around 30,000.

    One we found

    1-audi-rs4-one-we-found-static-front.jpg

    Audi RS4, 2006/56, 99,000 miles, £12,989: A tidy RS4 saloon with full Audi service history. It was either this or a private-sale, 2006/06 with 92,000 miles and ‘service history’. In its favour were new Bilstein shocks, oil cooler pipes, a carbon clean and Pirelli P Zero tyres.

    READ MORE

    Audi A3 Sportback 35 TDI S tronic S line 2020 review 

    First drive: 2020 Audi S3 prototype 

    New Audi A3 revealed with styling overhaul and new interior 

    Audi Sport to go electric with RS-branded E-tron GT

    View the full article


  9. Volkswagen Golf 2020 - hero front
    New VW Golf hasn’t veered away from combustion power
    Despite imminent CO2 regs, green fuels such as those made from biomass will make combustion engines viable for a long time, says VW boss

    Volkswagen technical chief Matthias Rabe believes combustion engines still have a long future in the car industry despite increasing restrictions on CO2 emissions – because of the development of environmentally friendly fuels. 

    The Volkswagen Group has set itself a target of net zero carbon emissions and made a huge investment in electric vehicle technology, spearheaded by Volkswagen's ID range of electric cars, to achieve that.

    Yet Rabe said combustion engines “will have a longer future than some people predict”, because of the likely widespread future adoption of synthetic fuels made from biomass or other materials. 

    Current unleaded petrol features a limited amound of ethanol produced from crops, but research has been ongoing on e-fuels, which are synthetically produced from natural materials and therefore emit no CO2 or other harmful emissions. E-fuels have long attracted the interest of the car industry, with Volkswagen and sister firm Bentley among those looking into the technology, but it is still some way from being production-ready.

    While the pressing CO2 emissions targets imposed on car firms by authorities such as the European Union has led to firms including Volkswagen focusing on EVs to reduce emissions, Rabe believes that the limitations of electric technology in other transport areas due to the weight and size of current batteries will help spur e-fuel development.

    “We will come to e-fuels,” he said. “If you look at the aviation industry, e-fuels are in high demand because [planes] won’t go electric, otherwise you won’t cross the Atlantic.

    “We take our CO2 targets very seriously and want to be a role model on CO2, but that doesn’t mean we will exclude the combustion engine.”

    Volkswagen is committed to “a broad field” of powertrain options for at least the next decade, Rabe added. The firm is also pushing ahead with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powertrains in some markets.

    READ MORE

    Volkswagen to launch 34 new models in 2020 

    New Volkswagen Golf GTI gains power boost and more tech 

    New 2020 Volkswagen Golf: first prices and specs announced

    View the full article


  10. Jaguar F-Pace 2018 - hero front A nearly new luxury SUV can now be yours for less than £20,000. The diesels make the most sense

    Who would have thought it: a Jaguar SUV? That buyers didn’t appear to be too fazed by the F-Pace’s arrival in 2016 says much about the way it met their expectations of what a Jaguar should look and feel like.

    However, four years is a long time, and it’s fair to say that the F-Pace has since been overtaken by newer rivals in buyers’ affections. No worries; that only means prices of used ones are a little softer than they once were, making this classy, stylish, roomy, well-equipped and, above all, funto-drive SUV even more attractive.

    There’s a version for most appetites and budgets, from an entry-level, rear-wheel-drive diesel to a full-on supercharged 5.0-litre V8 SVR.

    The diesels make the most sense, although they aren’t as economical as you might expect. Apart from the least powerful one, they have four-wheel drive, but the system runs in rear-wheel mode most of the time. The mid-range 178bhp unit is the most plentiful and, for its blend of value and performance, rightly so. However, if you want more of the latter, check out the 3.0 V6.

    Diesel versions of the F-Pace easily outnumber petrol ones, but if your mileage is on the low side and towing isn’t your thing, you might prefer one of the petrols. These range from a 248bhp 2.0-litre to the aforementioned 5.0-litre V8 that makes 542bhp. In between is a 375bhp supercharged 3.0-litre V6.

    The 2.0-litre engine is a sweet and responsive thing that, being lighter than the equivalent diesel units, doesn’t load up the car’s nose as much in corners. The 3.0-litre is a blast, but you’ll pay for it at the pumps.

    Expect the usual refinements on all versions, including climate control, leather and front and rear parking sensors. The alloy wheels, which are also standard, need careful choosing. Depending on the version, they’re as big as 22in, which can make the already-firm ride harsh as well.

    Trims are offered in a range of luxury and sporty flavours. Among the former, our pick is Prestige, since it has all most people could want and at a reasonable price. From the latter, we’d take R-Sport for its stylish bodykit, exterior detailing and modest 19in wheels.

    When appraising an F-Pace, be sure to check for dings and dents, since the aluminium body is tricky and expensive to repair. Also inspect the panel gaps and the paint finish, both of which have been criticised. Whether in standard or uprated guise, the infotainment is prone to glitches, so run through every feature and satisfy yourself all is well. Regarding diesels, check if the one you’re perusing has had oil dilution issues relating to its emissions system. On the test drive, listen for noises from the rear suspension.

    That is a bit of a list, but find a good F-Pace and you’ll enjoy the best of all Jaguar worlds.

    Need to know

    Cars with bigger alloys ride best with the optional Adaptive Dynamics Pack, which offers a good blend of comfort and agility. It will have cost around £1200.

    Another good option to look out for is the InControl Touch Pro Pack with the 12.3in infotainment screen and 380W Meridian sound system.

    Check there’s enough head room in the back in cars fitted with the optional panoramic sunroof.

    No F-Pace can tow more than 2400kg braked, and the entry-level version is restricted to 1600kg.

    The 2019 What Car? Reliability Survey ranks the F-Pace equal 14th with the Audi Q5 out of 23 comparable SUVs.

    Our pick

    Jaguar F-Pace 3.0D V6 S AWD: The 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine plugs the performance gaps in the 2.0-litre diesel, while standard adaptive suspension is a good fit with the 20in alloys that are also standard.

    Wild card

    Jaguar F-Pace 5.0 Supercharged V8 SVR: Searingly quick, beautifully composed at speed and remarkably refined, this performance SUV ranks among the best. Shame its 22in alloys spoil the low-speed ride.

    Ones we found

    2016 2.0d 180 Prestige RWD, 60,000 miles, £17,500

    2017 2.0d 240 R-Sport AWD auto, 48,000 miles, £26,950

    2018 2.0i 250 Portfolio AWD auto, 28,000 miles, £35,000

    2019 3.0d 300 V6 S AWD auto, 15,000 miles, £40,000

    READ MORE 

    Jaguar Land Rover to invest £1bn in three new UK-built EVs 

    Behind the scenes at Jaguar Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations 

    New 2020 Jaguar F-Pace facelift: hot SVR variant spotted

    View the full article


  11. Corvette C8 2020 - hero front
    Will the mid-engined layout of the C8 be a turn off for Corvette enthusiasts?
    Chevrolet broke with years of tradition when it ditched a front-engined drivetrain for its latest 'Vette. We source enthusiasts' reactions

    The logic in Chevrolet lifting the venerable small-block V8 out of the nose of the Corvette and dropping it behind the seats is easy to understand. The engineers had got as much out of the front-engined, rear-wheel-drive format as they could; if they wanted more performance, especially on the track and in racing, going mid-engined was the logical move.

    However, there’s also another reason, and a more important one at that. The front-engined sports car is old-fashioned. For those of us who grew up fantasising about owning a Jaguar E-Type, Aston Martin V8 Vantage or Ferrari Daytona, the format is still highly emotional. For younger enthusiasts, though, a sports car is mid-engined (unless it’s a Porsche 911). Not so much for its dynamics but for the way it looks.

    The Vanquish Vision concept shown at Geneva last year demonstrates that Aston Martin is thinking along similar lines. It is a risky move, though. The Corvette is mostly bought by baby boomers; what if this change to a mid-engined layout for the C8 puts them off? You can’t overnight change your customer base, even if your underlying theory is correct. So what do current Corvette fans think of the C8? Well, there’s only one way to know, and that’s to ask them.

    Welcome to the car park of the Bootleg Italian Bistro in Las Vegas, Nevada. Vegas is where Chevrolet is holding the international launch of the C8 Corvette Stingray; later today, we’ll be driving the cars on a road trip out to Lake Mead and the day after to the nearby Spring Mountain race circuit for some track driving. I’m beyond excited.

    18-corvette-c8-2020-engine.jpg?itok=20oG

    On this gorgeous sunny Sunday morning, we’re joined by a large group of enthusiastic members of the Las Vegas Corvettes Association. Last month, I got in touch with club president Benita Klaizner and asked her if she could get together a group of owners to have a butcher’s at the C8 and tell me what they thought of it.

    In the interests of science and for my own enjoyment, I asked Benita if she could manage an example of each Corvette from the formative C1 onwards. Benita is a girl who gets things done, and sure enough we have seven generations of Corvette here, plus a bright yellow C8 brought by the man from Chevrolet. “Is it okay if other members come along?” Benita had asked me. “Of course,” I’d answered. “The more the better.” And what a fantastic collection of cars we’ve ended up with here.

    I know from experience that the original Corvette isn’t particularly dynamic on the road. It would have been unwise back in the day to take on a Porsche or Jaguar in one, but there’s no doubting the fact that Dan Crochet’s 1958 model is one of the most stylish sports cars ever made.

    “I had a 1981 Corvette after I left college but bought this one 22 years ago,” says Dan. “I wanted a C2, but my wife loves C1s and twisted my arm. The ’58 is the only year that the car had this washboard bonnet and chrome boot straps. Critics at the time said the car was gaudy but, once I realised how special it was, I had to have one.

    “It’s powered by a 283-cubic-inch [4.6-litre] engine with twin fourbarrel carburettors and pushes out 245bhp. The car was restored in 1990, and I take it out at least once a month for a drive up into the mountains.”

    15-corvettes-gathered.jpg?itok=6xZsDnRG

    Dan is interested in the C8, but it’s pretty obvious that nothing could take the place of his ’58.

    Like most of the club members here, Slim Stephens has a long history of Corvette ownership. “I’ve owned this 1965 C2 Convertible for a couple of years,” he explains, “but I worked on it for 10 years when it was with its previous owner. It’s got a 327 [5.4-litre] engine with a new cam, a high-rise manifold that I’m about to swap for a Holley EFI system and a four-speed gearbox. I had a big-block ’64 coupé in the ’60s and then bought a new C3 in 1973.”

    Like several of the members, Slim is concerned that the C8 won’t be as practical as his car, due to its lack of luggage space. Actually, as Chevrolet dealers will no doubt demonstrate to potential owners, you can transfer a C7’s full luggage load straight into the C8’s front and rear boots.

    Originally from Canada, Benita Klaizner is a long-time Corvette owner. She’s married to Jim, who slipped the bounds of communist Czechoslovakia in 1972, and the couple own this 2013 C6 Grand Sport 60th Anniversary Convertible as well as a 2015 C7 Stingray that lives at their house in the Czech Republic. They’re currently having a 1972 C3 restored as well. “We’ve already ordered a C8,” says Benita, “and I can’t wait for it to arrive. Each Corvette that we’ve owned has been better than the last. I love the style of the new car, and I’m sure that it’s going to be a car to be reckoned with.”

    15-corvette-c8-2020-hero-rear.jpg?itok=W

    Scarlett and Gino Montoya (no relation to Juan Pablo) are here in their 2014 C7 Convertible. Actually, it’s Scarlett’s. “I was a school teacher, and this car was a retirement present to myself, bought new,” she explains. “We’ve had a C5 and a C6 in the past.”

    “And I had a ’57 fitted with a 409 [6.7-litre] engine that I used to drag race in the ’60s,” says her husband.

    The Montoyas are among those concerned about the luggage space of the C8 but, as discussed, I suspect it won’t take much of a salesperson to convert them. “The convertible might prove to be a temptation difficult to resist,” says Gino.

    You can sign up Carl Hastings for a C8 too, but he’ll be waiting for second-hand examples to fall within his reach. Meanwhile, he’s enjoying his 1990 C4. “I’ve had this car for 20 years, but I also had an early [1986] C4 before it,” he says. “I owned a 1964 327 [5.4-litre] convertible in 1967, but these C4s were the first Corvettes that could get good gas mileage.”

    If I were Ken Ackeret’s local Chevrolet dealer, I’d have him top of my list of potential customers for the C8. Ken’s here in his Targa Blue 1972 C3. “The C3 was the first Corvette that I was aware of when I was in high school,” he says. “I’ve owned this 350 [5.7-litre] four-speed car for five years. It has been in the club for most of its life and has been really well looked after.”

    Ken also has a C5 that he’s owned from new. “It’s a 2004 model, which makes it one of the last C5s made,” he explains. “I’ve done 216,000 miles in it, and it has been extremely reliable. My wife has a C5 too, and we’ve also got a 2019 Sebring Orange Grand Sport hard-top.”

    10-ken-ackeret.jpg?itok=aNu8pLqO

    Of all the classic Corvettes we have here this morning, it’s Ken’s C3 that appeals to me the most; the one I can imagine owning. As with him, this is the first model of Corvette that I was aware of. The C1 is the most beautiful but would be out of my budget.

    The last of our seven generations is Jim Gregorio’s C5. Jim has spent the past 42 years working on Corvettes, both at private specialists in Connecticut and for two Chevrolet dealers in Las Vegas. There isn’t much he doesn’t know about these cars. His own C5 is far from stock, as they say here, with a dry-sump engine and numerous suspension modifications.

    I’m rather impressed by his tyre choice: essentially a slick with one groove cut into it. “Er, yes,” he says. “They do have Department of Transportation stamps on them…” I suspect that they’re not entirely road legal, but then America is funny about things like that.

    While clearly looking forward to getting his hands on a C8, Jim’s dream Corvette is a 1967 model that has been given the restomod treatment. “That’s getting really popular here,” he explains. “An LS7 engine with Z06 suspension would give me the perfect combination of ’60s style with modern performance, reliability and handling.”

    Talking with all the owners of the seven model generations, as well as the other Las Vegas Corvettes Association members, it’s clear that the new and revolutionary C8 has already been taken to their bosoms. Some have already ordered theirs and others are either waiting for the launch of the convertible or the faster and more extreme versions that are likely to follow.

    13-corvette-c1-1958-static-rear.jpg?itok

    I’m not at all surprised by their willingness to accept the C8, because it’s not the first time that I’ve witnessed dedicated owners welcome in the new world. Look how readily Rolls-Royce enthusiasts ushered the BMW-produced Phantoms into their fold. Same with Bentley owners and Volkswagen-era cars and traditional Mini owners with the BMW product.

    As club president Benita herself proves, the passion for America’s sports car runs across many decades, and just because you own a 1972 model, it doesn’t mean that you won’t like a sixth-generation car or indeed the newcomer. I do suspect, however, that even these committed Corvette enthusiasts would draw the line at a four-cylinder hybrid powertrain…

    How the C8 drives

    Twenty years ago, I would have robbed a bank to have been able to buy myself this new Corvette. Today, though, I don’t see the point of owning a very high-performance car, and so I’d be more likely to spend my money on one of these classic Corvettes.

    The C8 is, however, pretty much my perfect mid-engined supercar. The small-block V8 has enormous character and is a much more emotive engine than Ford’s V8, due, I suspect, to its two-valve combustion chambers. The motor not only sounds fantastic but shakes slightly at tick-over and cranks over with the torque reaction as you hit the throttle.

    6-corvette-c8-2020-interior.jpg?itok=bnW

    At the launch event, Chevrolet displayed a cutaway C8 chassis that showed the layout as well as how well the car is put together. Put an Audi or Ferrari badge on the aluminium monocoque and nobody would know.

    The new Corvette has a definite Lotus feel to it in the way it both rides and handles. The Nevada roads were smooth but, even so, the C8 felt supple and compliant. On the track, there was a hint of confidence-inspiring understeer on turn-in that reminded me of the Esprit.

    About the only part of the C8 that I don’t like is the Allegro-style quartic steering wheel (the designers call it a ‘squircle’), but I’d get used to that.

    When it comes to the UK early next year, the C8 is likely to cost around £80,000 and will be fitted with the Z51 performance upgrade package that’s a $5000 (£3810) option on our test car. This is an awful lot of car and performance for such money. But it’s more than that: I’d rather have this more characterful car over a McLaren, regardless of price.

    The Pantera reborn?

    I’ve not heard of anyone suggesting this, but to me the new Corvette is the De Tomaso Pantera reincarnated. Think about it: an affordable, rock-solid American V8 with an abundance of horsepower that will be cheap to maintain. And even in the worst-case scenario of the engine spreading itself across the road, a replacement wouldn’t break the bank.

    12-corvette-hero-side.jpg?itok=22QR0pP8

    Plenty of owners had fun with the Pantera’s 351-cubic-inch [5.8-litre] Ford Cleveland V8 by fitting Weber downdraft carburettors or just giving it higher-compression pistons and a hotter cam. No doubt America’s huge speed shop community will offer a vast array of goodies for the C8.

    I loved the Pantera, but my passion waned slightly when I made the mistake of driving one, due to a terrible driving position, poor quality and the fact it isn’t particularly fast.

    Now it has a successor that follows the formula but executes it to 2020 standards.

    READ MORE

    Mid-engined Chevrolet Corvette C8 Stingray arrives with 495bhp V8 

    UK sales of Chevrolet Corvette and Camaro to end in August 

    New Chevrolet Corvette could get hybrid or electric versions

    View the full article


  12. Skai passenger drone - static side BMW’s Designworks spends 50% of its time working for non-BMW brands. We see how such designs feed back into the car side

    You’ve probably heard that car companies no longer wish to be known as car companies. These days, it is de rigueur to present yourself as a mobility company, unconstrained by the metaphorical straitjackets of four wheels and an engine.

    What you may not know is that many car companies, and especially design divisions, have long had the freedom to move outside established automotive circles – and few more so than Designworks, a California-based design consultancy set up in 1972 and bought by BMW in 1995 after it had built its reputation for forward thinking.

    In essence, it’s a subsidiary of BMW that is open for business to outsiders. So while its headline credits include early iterations of the BMW 3 and 8 Series and X5 and more recent work on the 5 Series, it is just as likely to be working on cabin designs for Singapore Airlines or a vision of the future of camping for The North Face.

    “We work to a 50:50 model of working for BMW Group brands and for outside brands,” says Designworks president Holger Hampf. “For BMW projects, we must compete internally to win the right to keep moving forward with designs, while for outside projects we operate with the aim of extending our learning but also of being a profit centre.

    “In that sense, we are about entrepreneurial design. We don’t want to work for anyone, but we do set ambitious financial targets that drive us into spaces of interest and allow us to provoke and learn in areas of mobility that perhaps the group wouldn’t have time or resource to look at otherwise.”

    So here is a selection of some of the eye-catching projects that it has worked on.

    Skai passenger drone

    6-skai-passenger-drone-static-side.jpg?i

    Clean, sustainable transport needs a radical rethink and this is Designworks’ interpretation: a five-passenger drone propelled by six hydrogen-powered rotors. The target flight time is four hours and – before your eyebrows rise too far – working prototypes are being readied.

    “Everyone wants to hear BMW’s interpretation of the future of the car, but that’s not what this is about,” says Hampf. “This is about immersing ourselves in another world so that we have thought leadership in getting from A to B by other means.”

    The biggest challenge, says Hampf, is getting the weight down so that the drones can lift the pod and passengers: “Battery electric would never have worked, but liquid hydrogen is interesting. There is some serious investment behind that technology.”

    Possible insights: Lightweight materials, hydrogen power, customer acceptance of new tech, ride-hailing insight, design reassurance.

    USOC Paralympic wheelchair

    5-usoc-paralympic-wheelchari-hero-side.j

    Sport is rarely just about physical endeavour: be it a swimming suit, running shoe or racing car, there are always variables that distort the balance. In most sports, that’s actively encouraged, including in Paralympic wheelchair racing.

    “We started as an Olympic sponsor in 2010 and started working with Team USA,” says Hampf. “From a design perspective, it was interesting to conceive everything from the perspective of function over form – but never to the abandonment of form.”

    Perhaps inevitably, that led initially to the wind tunnel and carbonfibre workshop, and then on to a chassis redesign and insights into making customised chairs for each athlete, designed following 3D body scans, to reduce drag and achieve perfect weight distribution.

    “The beauty was the passion of our clients,” says Hampf. “They wanted perfection and the outcome was very rewarding." 

    In 2012, Team USA won seven medals and set four Paralympian world records. Designworks continues to perfect the chairs today, as well as working on a bobsleigh design and improvements in prosthetics for athletes.

    Possible insights: Prototyping, lightweight materials, ergonomics, mobility challenges.

    Ionity charging station

    4-ionity-charging-station.jpg?itok=5M20U

    You are likely to have heard of Ionity, the firm initially set up by BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen to roll out fast-charging stations for electric cars and taking on new automotive partners all the time as its ambition gathers momentum.

    Given the competing brands, settling on a design for the charging stations could have been a political nightmare. Step forward Designworks. “The initial thought might be it’s a box in the ground, but think deeper and it is the touchpoint between our brand and our customers,” says Hampf. “So the brief was actually quite complex: it had to convey quality but be durable and deliver the easiest user experience possible.”

    The result is rolling out for all to see: a clean, futuristic design that incorporates a touchscreen and LED lights. Four hundred Ionity charging stations will be installed in Europe by the end of the year.

    Possible insights: Prototyping, industrial design themes, user interaction and experiences.

    The North Face Futurelight Camper

    2-the-north-face-futurelight-camper-stat

    The trend towards underlining just what a future-thinking car company you are by attending the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas each January began about a decade ago. But while many car companies made their point by getting senior leaders to give keynote addresses, Designworks and its clients have been displaying real concepts.

    Futurelight is currently used for high-end North Face clothing and billed as the world’s most advanced breathable waterproof outerwear. In other words, it can allow airflow in and out but keep water out. Designworks took the material and applied it to a camper concept, stretching the material over a dome that could provide protection in any environment – all of which were displayed in a virtual reality environment.

    Possible insights: Business strategy, industrial design, virtual design techniques.

    Singapore Airlines first class cabin

    3-singapore-airlines-first-class-cabin.j

    It makes sense that a firm rooted in a car company would know a thing or two about making luxurious cabins – especially one that owns Rolls-Royce and has been commissioned to recreate the first class experience.

    The restrictions were space and brand guidelines, the solution to create a theme that delivered the comfort and warmth of a living room through the use of colours, materials and especially lighting, with an added layer of hospitality, conveyed by the wraparound arms enveloping the seat.

    Possible insights: Materials and lighting in autonomous space, industrial design.

    BMW Vision Ride Helmet

    1-bmw-vision-ride-helmet.jpg?itok=ddtL_m

    One of the biggest causes of motorbike accidents is a rider taking his or her eyes off the road ahead to look at various dials and displays. It therefore sounds obvious enough to incorporate car-like head-up displays into helmets.

    The technical solution wasn’t so simple, of course, with cost-effective car units requiring more space than is available in a crash helmet. The end solution combines the best of the now-defunct Google Glasses concept but with an emphasis on ease of use while on the move.

    Possible insights: Prototyping, industrial design, user experience.

    READ MORE

    New BMW M2 to spearhead hotter junior M line-up 

    BMW continues to defend new styling direction 

    BMW i8 hybrid sports car to end production in April

    View the full article


  13. Lotus Elan M100 - hero front From a front-drive Lotus to a fast, entertaining big Volvo, we round up some of the biggest automotive breaks from tradition

    Chevrolet’s decision to relocate the Corvette’s engine has caused not a small amount of controversy. While the enthusiasts on the previous few pages seem accepting, others are loudly pondering whether the C8 can really be a ’Vette after abandoning seven decades of front-engined tradition. Yet the US firm isn’t the first to mess with a tried and tested formula in the pursuit of greater performance or profit – or both. Here are 10 examples that have travelled a similarly contentious path with varying levels of success.

    Lotus Elan (M100)

    12-lotus_-elan-m100-hero-front.jpg?itok=

    When a car maker revives a famous name, it usually does so with a healthy dose of respect for its history. Not so Lotus when it relaunched the Elan in 1989, 14 years after Colin Chapman’s lithe version last appeared. Out went the classic front-engined (naturally aspirated, obviously) and rear-wheel-drive layout and in came front-wheel drive and turbocharging. The new Elan was actually cracking to drive, but Lotus loyalists were less than impressed. Plus, there was the Mazda MX-5: launched at the same time, it was cheaper and, ironically, almost a carbon copy of the original Elan.

    Turbocharged Honda VTEC

    11-honda-civic-type-r-hero-front.jpg?ito

    Honda has long been a hard-line exponent of naturally aspirated engines, such as the VTEC units in a long line of Civic Type R hot hatches that stuck with natural aspiration long after competitors went turbocharged. Yet it wasn’t long before the Honda looked weak-kneed next to rivals, so the unthinkable happened in 2014 and the Civic’s VTEC gained forced induction. Performance gains were huge, but some of the magic was lost. Honda learns fast, though, and the latest blown Type R is the best yet.

    Porsche Cayenne

    10-porsche-cayenne-hero-front.jpg?itok=i

    Nearly a quarter of a century on, it’s easy to forget just how controversial the first Cayenne really was. Porsche was a dyed-in-the-wool sports car manufacturer and to even be thinking about the possibility of just maybe making an SUV was heresy, especially one that would go on to have a diesel engine. There was no precedent for this car and, allegedly, no appetite for it among zealots of Zuffenhausen’s usual offerings. Yet as we now know, the Cayenne was a massive sales hit, helping Porsche to ride the early SUV wave and on to previously unimagined profitability.

    Volkswagen K70

    0-volkswagen-k70-static-rear.jpg?itok=G9

    It can be hard to break free from design dogma and, for decades, VW stuck to its tried and tested formula of slinging an air-cooled engine behind the rear axle. By the late 1960s, however, VW was being left behind commercially and technically, so a revolution was needed. Step forward the K70. Based on the NSU Ro80, it ripped up the VW playbook by featuring front-wheel drive and a water-cooled inline engine. Rust issues and high prices meant it was short lived, but the Passat, Golf and Polo that followed used the same layout to dazzlingly successful effect.

    2WD Land Rovers

    6-land-rover-freelander-hero-front.jpg?i

    When your products are tightly entwined in four-wheel-drive folklore and your best remembered advertising tagline is the ‘Best 4x4 by far’, then going two-wheel drive should be a no-no. Yet that’s what Land Rover did with its Freelander 2 eD4 in 2011. Aimed at lowering emissions and running costs, it dispensed with the standard car’s propshaft and rear differential, yet it retained Terrain Response and mud and snow tyres, making it as effective off road as some of its all-wheel-drive rivals. It was so successful that it spawned similar Range Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport models.

    Ford

    8-ford-puma-hero-front.jpg?itok=1_2pBt7O

    Most of the examples here are of individual cars but, in the past year alone, Ford has played fast and loose with its heritage. First up was the Puma, which applied the name of a much loved 1990s coupé to a crossover. There was resistance from some quarters but, in many respects, the new car retains the fun-loving spirit of its predecessor. Likely more difficult to swallow will be the Mustang Mach-E, which is aiming to channel the essence of the firm’s famed muscle car into an all-electric SUV. Ford will be hoping it doesn’t make the same mistake as when it applied the RS1800 moniker from its rally-winning and bespoke-built Escort Mk2 to a tarted-up Fiesta.

    Front-wheel-drive BMWs

    5-bmw-m135i-2019-hero-side.jpg?itok=UhgA

    BMW believed you couldn’t claim to produce the ‘Ultimate driving machine’ unless you made your cars rear-wheel drive. For decades, even its smallest models sent power to the rear. Then in 2014, it launched the front-wheel-drive 2 Series Active Tourer, based on the same platform as the Mini. BMW fans were only mildly upset because, well, it was ‘just’ an MPV. Then came the bombshell in 2019 when the 1 Series turned from rear- to front-wheel drive. But despite howls of derision from some quarters, the switch hasn’t harmed the car’s engaging driving dynamics.

    Porsche 718

    1-porsche-718-static-rear.jpg?itok=6pM5H

    Porsche has the best part of 80 years of experience with four-cylinder engines but that didn’t stop purists getting extremely hot under the collar when the 718 Boxster and Cayman were launched in 2015. By ditching the howling flat sixes of previous generations for turbocharged flat fours, Porsche took a hit, both critically and commercially. Initially, the brand stuck to its guns but soon plans were in place to secure the return of the naturally aspirated six. The result was the Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder, which were swiftly followed this year by the GTS 4.0.

    Skoda Favorit

    4-skoda-favorit-static-front.jpg?itok=mw

    Like VW, Skoda seemed happily wedded to a rear-engined formula for decades. But with the Iron Curtain crumbling in the 1980s, the firm knew it needed a radical rethink if it was to tap into lucrative Western markets, and so the Favorit was born. Its five-door hatchback layout and front-wheel drive were revolutionary for the Czech brand but, thanks to some help from Porsche (yes, really), Bertone and British firm Ricardo, it proved to be a surprise hit. In fact, it was such a success that its fellow adherent to the rear-engined rules, VW, bought the company.

    Volvo 850

    2-volvo-850-t5-r-static-front.jpg?itok=n

    Volvo’s 700-series cars pretty much saved the company after they were launched in 1982, so you’d expect the Swedes to have stuck to the same sensible template for their replacement. But boxy styling aside, the 850 forged a bold new path for big Volvos. It was the first large model to get frontwheel drive and it had transverse five-cylinder engines that liked to spin and sing. Perhaps most shocking, it was genuinely fun to drive and the scorching T5s were enthusiast cars. It was a huge sales hit and shook off the brand’s staid image, paving the way for its current ice-cool machines.

    READ MORE

    All-new Lotus model due next year 

    New Lotus Evija sold out for 2020 

    Lotus Elan in frame as Boxster rival in revival plan 

    New V6 hybrid ‘Esprit’ to lead Lotus expansion plan

    View the full article


  14. Jaguar F-Type R 2020 - hero front Is the facelifted Jaguar F-Type spry enough (especially in amped-up R form) to compete with the fresh 992-generation 911 Carrera 4S?

    The Jaguar F-Type is back, with a fresh look and an assortment of new bells and whistles. They have, thankfully, resisted the urge to treat it to a new pair of beige slacks and a matching M&S cardigan, although that must have been tough. Alright, there’s a bit more to the update than the above would imply (a modest engine power hike, a new engine derivative, some new suspension componentry and some digital instruments) but perhaps not as much as you might imagine would be necessary to keep a current sports car up to date in what is now – wait for it – its eighth year in production.

    Is it entirely fair, then, you may wonder, to pitch the ‘new’, range-topping R version of this car into a head-to-head contest with the only-a-year-old 992-generation Porsche 911? Knowing what we already do about the latter – it’s a group test winner already and was highly commended at Britain’s Best Driver’s Car shootout, don’t forget – is that a contest the plucky Brit can possibly win?

    Well, it’s certainly a curious notional position for the fresh meat in one of these twin tests to occupy. Usually it’s the most recently launched car that comes in with all the advantages, yet the Jaguar holds nothing over the lighter, faster and fundamentally newer Porsche that might give it an on-paper head start here – save, perhaps, the peak outputs of its supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine.

    But here is the truth you’ll discover having driven these cars extensively and one after another: there are some things the new Jaguar F-Type R P575 AWD does every bit as well as a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S; there are a handful of things it does even better, actually. I must add for the sake of balance that there are also plenty of ways in which the German is quite plainly the Brummie’s superior. And yet what you’re about to read is a contest, trust me, not a pushover. The Jaguar, for all of the long-toothedness that the new styling and interior smartening seek to disguise, has its shout, and for some – maybe even for you – it will be the better car.

    16-jaguar-f-type-r-2020-hero-side.jpg?it

    Did someone say ‘shout’? My ears are still ringing, as it happens. The first thing I’m happy to confirm is that a range-topping Jaguar sports car with a Welsh-made supercharged V8 engine could out-shout just about any 911 road car it happened to be within a few hundred metres of.

    There’s mention of a ‘quiet’ mode in the car’s press material, and naturally you assume – having heard the thing snarling through the middle of its rev range at full load like a band of bloodthirsty sousaphone players – it might be a misprint. In fact, it’s a convenience feature that Jaguar would seem to have appropriated from close rival Aston Martin: it allows you to start the car’s engine discreetly on an early weekday morning so as not to upset the neighbours. Or the neighbour’s neighbours. Or, for that matter, the night-shift staff at your local early-warning earthquake monitoring station.

    In actuality, ‘quiet start mode’ is nothing more or less than the car’s normal running setting; if you want noisy, you simply select Dynamic mode or the active exhaust’s loud setting before turning over the engine (and then, presumably, you just move house). So it’s not even a new button in an otherwise pretty familiar cabin that, but for some new trim materials (nice matt black door handles, by the way, folks) and the new digital instruments and infotainment system, could perhaps have done with more of a material lift.

    The Porsche would have been my bet to get its nose in front when these cars were compared as stationary, daily use ownership prospects, no question. But for every blow the 911 lands, the F-Type lands one right back.

    You’re a little more squeezed into the Jaguar, it’s true, but the seat it offers to your backside is softer and more comfortable than the 911’s and barely any less adjustable or supportive. It also needs slightly less of a bend-and-stoop manoeuvre to slide into.

    The Porsche offers more room for your extremities, along with those occasional back seats for your clobber, better visibility, a better driving position, significantly more sophisticated and usable on-board display and infotainment technology, and significantly better perceived quality. The neat look and substantial feel of its switchgear is a cut above and then some.

    17-porsche-911-carrera-4s-2020-hero-rear

    But the Jaguar conjures a warmer and more inviting feel: its palette of decorative materials is wider and more imaginative, its ambience richer and a shade more luxurious. Sure, it doesn’t have back seats, but that sizeable boot is usefully bigger than any one storage space the 911 has.

    And so if you had to pick one of these cars just to use as personal transport for an undefined period of time, without a thought given to how much fun you might have in the process, I’m not totally convinced the Porsche would be the automatic choice. It has been executed with typical German precision and attention to detail, so the sat-nav is easier to programme and more reliable and it’s easier to find the instrumentation mode that suits you best. By contrast, on one occasion when I pressed the button that I imagined would activate the voice recognition on the Jaguar’s navigation system, all it did was mute the radio. So much for the British technological avant-garde.

    But it’s the Jaguar that does better for refinement and rolling comfort – and that means it would double up better as the grand touring part-timer. The Porsche’s ride is noisier than the Jaguar’s (on those optional mixed-sized RS Spyder Design 20/21in alloys and optional PASM lowered sports suspension, admittedly), and it lacks a little bit of the supple dexterity that typically characterises mid-range 911 variants. It reads just that little bit too much information from the road surface for ideal daily driven comfort, you’d say. The Jaguar, by contrast, can get feisty and reactive over an uneven surface, but it’s quieter and better isolated on most others. The Porsche, being a rear-engined 911, is also less naturally stable at high speeds than the Jaguar and more easily disturbed by camber and crosswind, both of which have a part to play in defining how wearing it might be to use.

    Not that a 911 is ever likely to wander quite as far off course – as some might say the narrative thread of this test already has. Hands up, you got me: not many people buy sports cars for their refinement levels or the rich luxury feel of their interiors. It’s just possible that I’ve been finding reasons, thus far, to award extra credit to a charismatic and likeable British alternative that – you’ve guessed it – can’t quite match even a pretty sub-optimally equipped 911 for driver appeal. That’s a shame and not exactly a shock, but if you don’t do these things properly, you never really know.

    There’s just a bit too much of the F-Type R to allow it to hit the same dynamic heights as the Porsche or to impress its driver quite as clearly at both low speeds and high. It has too much power, too much weight and, at least for this tester, at times a shade too much mechanical grip, traction and lateral stiffness necessary to harness the aforementioned and to move it all around to be good for the car’s wider sporting appeal. It might have newly configured suspension and better rear axle location, but the F-Type R remains the burly, surly hotrod that you guide with plenty of concentration and a slightly wary hand.

    16-jaguar-f-type-r-2020-engine.jpg?itok=

    By way of contrast, the 911 is at once more communicative and can be coaxed more precisely and instinctively than the F-Type. It’s easier to drive quickly and feels more special when driven slowly – although, it must be said, the enticing rumble of the Jaguar’s engine is pretty special also.

    And what an engine. If only it came with drivability the equal of its audible drama. Some Porsche flat sixes might be able to compete with a great V8 like the F-Type’s for audible character (and the one in the car in our little twin test below gets pretty close, by the way), but a modern twin-turbocharged one doesn’t. The Bridgend 5.0-litre is never better than when gargling majestically from 3500rpm to 5000rpm at full throttle, and then crackling after a lift as if the music has just stopped at a fireworks display.

    But before you’ve learned to keep the Jaguar’s gearbox in manual mode in order to prevent it from needing to shuffle ratios before it can respond meaningfully to any lug of power, you’ll find it’s the Porsche’s combination of twin-turbo flat six and eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that’s more likely to be in the right gear and ready to go, whenever you might need it to be. The Jaguar’s engine is a wonderful treat when at its very best, but it’s less consistently brilliant than that of the Porsche.

    Precisely the same observation could be made about the respective chassis of these cars. The Jaguar gets into a lovely fluent stride when conditions suit it, when the bends are faster and smoother and there’s a bit of room to give the engine its head and feel the rear axle gently squirm with the workload. It begins to sit heavily on its dampers when the surface gets tougher, though, and particularly so in its Dynamic mode.

    Meanwhile, the sense of slightly muted elasticity and tactile compliance evident in the steering, which doesn’t bother you so much when you’re arcing more gently around curves, increasingly becomes an obstacle when you’re continually turning this way and that.

    The Porsche steers superbly; you feel as if you can adjust the car’s course by the millimetre and as if you know the instant the front sidewalls load up every time you turn the rim. It doesn’t do fast and fluent quite like the Jaguar but, instead, from both powertrain and chassis, it produces this super-responsive yet entirely progressive sense of poise. It’s fit for any road or track and would make you guess its weight advantage over its rival was greater than it really is.

    14-jaguar-f-type-r-2020-hero-front.jpg?i

    And it always involves. This may be a well-worn road test cliché, but while the Jaguar feels at times like it’s launching you into conflict with the surface underneath you and the physics acting upon it, the Porsche engages you in a fascinating, instructive conversation with both. Want to go faster? Here’s how, it seems to say. Fancy a different line and way around that bend of yours? Take your pick.

    It must be a fearsomely disheartening task for any car maker to beat a driver’s car as dynamically versatile and accomplished as the current 911. For all of its little victories, the F-Type R fell some way short in the final reckoning. There was one car we had along for the ride that didn’t – not that Weissach need worry because, as it happened, it took a Porsche to beat a Porsche.

    And Weissach wouldn’t for one moment worry anyway, of course, because as much as the F-Type feels like its race is pretty much run, we all know that the 992 is only just getting started. It’s Turbo soon and GT3 not so long after that, so they say. Yes very much please, would be my reply.

    718 vs 911: should you go little or large?

    Critics of the latest Porsche 911 claim that it has become too wide, too soft, too heavy and too complex to work quite as perfectly as the any-occasion sports car its best predecessors have been. At times, I’ve agreed with some of what I’ve read on that score – albeit only because I know how great some of those predecessors were. So, is the 911’s status as the defining Porsche driver’s car ripe for inheritance by the smaller 718, with its returning six-cylinder engines?

    13-porsche-718-2020-hero-front.jpg?itok=

    I thought so. But then the Cayman GT4 we had at Best Driver’s Car 2019 failed to entertain at Anglesey Circuit nearly as well as the 992-generation 911 Carrera S. Matter settled, then? Not for me, I’m afraid. It’s still lingering like a bad smell.

    Leaving track driving out of the equation, if only for the sake of argument, can a six-cylinder 718 Spyder beat a 911 Carrera 4S now for mixed on-road appeal? It’s a less weighty question than the one I had intended to answer, but right now I’d say the best 718 is the better driver’s car, defined strictly in those on-road terms.

    There are all the obvious reasons: at the moment, you can’t buy a 911 with a manual gearbox and there is as yet no extraspecial, normally aspirated flat six that has been signed off for it by the GT division. The 718 Spyder is all the reminder you need of what the 911 is missing in both respects: its engine is fantastic (although it has curiously long gear ratios to wade through), it sounds incredible as it passes 5500rpm and it has a crispness and linearity to its delivery that turbochargers just can’t replicate.

    12-porsche-718-2020-hero-rear.jpg?itok=A

    The 718’s ride and handling don’t quite match those of the 911 for complexity and character. Driving them back to back is a bit like comparing Heath Ledger’s Joker with that of Joaquin Phoenix: the 911, like Phoenix, simply has more going on. But it’s a close enough thing to give the smaller car the nod, albeit in an incomplete and unfair exercise. Right now it’s the 718 I’d have. Which, I’m afraid, settles precisely nothing.

    Previously owned powerhouses for the price of a new 911 or F-Type

    3-ferrari-ff-hero-side.jpg?itok=MPj9JU2o

    Ferrari FF: The FF made the notion of a four-seat, four-wheel-drive Ferrari acceptable and paved the way for the mightily impressive GTC4 Lusso. Wonderful 651bhp V12, 208mph and 0-60mph in 3.7sec mean it’s no slouch. Also has a hatchback and folding rear seats, so a must for Courchevel. Buy from around £100k.

    2-lamborghini-gallardo-hero-front.jpg?it

    Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4: True, the LP560-4 will feel antiquated next to an ultra-modern 911, but the Gallardo just has that added sense of drama that the evergreen but continually updated Porsche simply can’t muster. Despite a new price of roughly £200k, you can now pick up this V10-powered Italian monster for just £90k.

    1-honda-nsx-hero-front.jpg?itok=ZDIX2BMU

    Honda NSX: Soon even the supercar won’t be immune from electrification. The clever people at Honda know this, which is why the current NSX is a hybrid marvel with three electric motors assisting the twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6, giving an output of 573bhp. Expect to pay £90k for a 2017 example with minimal mileage.

    READ MORE

    Jaguar Land Rover to invest £1bn in three new UK-built EVs 

    Behind the scenes at Jaguar Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations 

    2020 Jaguar XJ: latest images reveal electric luxury car's look

    View the full article


  15. Volvo badge Volvo’s ‘Hack the Crisis’ hackathon will bring around 200 global Volvo developers and engineers together to help save lives and businesses

    Volvo will join the long list of car makers looking to help global efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic with a ‘hackathon'-style collaboration of senior engineers and developers. 

    The ‘Hack the Crisis’ initiative, involving around 200 Volvo employees from Sweden, the US and China, will be conducted completely online over this weekend. The brand also has the Swedish government, alongside hackathon experts, as partners for the event, which aims to “come up with solutions in three specific areas: to help save lives, communities and companies”.

    Coronavirus and the car world: round-up of industry response

    Autocar spoke to Volvo’s lead technical designer and lead organiser of the event, Paul Aston, who said the innovations that will emerge will “probably exceed expectations”.

    He said: “We’re in this horrible situation where everything’s out of our control around the world, and the thing with the guys I work with is they’re always in doing or making mode. They can’t channel that energy into normal work, so we are letting them use their powers for good, get behind this initiative and get their teeth into it. 

    “We were thinking about these sponsorship deals that brands are doing and, to be honest, it felt kind of meaningless in a situation like this.” Aston said. “But we’ve got this incredible base of people. We have engineers, developers, user-experience designers, service designers –  people who’ve gone into a slowdown with working hours cut down to 60%. They’ve got into a sense of disempowerment and feeling like you want to do something but don’t know what."

    Aston stressed that this is about real, tangible solutions to problems facing the world during this crisis, with a hope that Volvo can innovate beyond current manufacturer efforts to build ventilators, respirators and masks. While admitting that it’s “hard to tell” what will come out of it yet, he claimed there are “insane amounts of enthusiasm and engagement” from his teams. 

    The hackathon will continue throughout the weekend as members process ideas, with the final judging due on Sunday evening. It is hoped that any ideas can become practical realities in a relatively short time.

    Read more:

    Volvo ditches petrol and diesel engines on S90, goes hybrid-only

    From dependable to disruptive: the reinvention of Volvo

    Coronavirus: what motorists need to know

    View the full article


  16. Ford stand at Beijing 2018 Originally scheduled for late April, China's biggest motoring event will now begin on 26 September 2020

    The Beijing motor show is now scheduled to take place from 26 September - 5 October 2020, following its postponement last month. 

    The event had been scheduled to open its doors on 21 April, but, like many other motor shows - including Geneva, Detroit and Paris - was pushed back by the outbreak of the coronavirus.

    The show was the first international motoring event of its type to be postponed, before Geneva was cancelled at the last minute. At the time Beijing being regularly treated with chemicals in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus, so the decision made sense.

    The show's postponement is a blow to a Chinese car industry that's struggling to recover from two successive market drops in 2018 and 2019.

    China remains the world’s biggest market for new cars, with 22.3 million registered last year. Until 2018, it had enjoyed 20 years of unparalled growth since the last decline in 1997.

    The Beijing and Shanghai motor shows have both expanded to become internationally significant, and they alternate on the calendar. Beijing receives around 800,000 visitors each year – about 5500 of them from overseas – and hosts some 1200 exhibitors from 14 regions.

    READ MORE

    Coronavirus: Chinese GP postponed as impact on car industry grows

    Jaguar Land Rover warns of global coronavirus impact

    Hyundai closes South Korean factories amid coronavirus outbreak

    View the full article


  17. 2018 Silverstone Grand Prix - Lewis Hamilton Home of the British GP could fill in for various cancelled grands prix in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic

    British GP host circuit Silverstone could be called upon to host multiple races this year to make up for those cancelled as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. 

    Track bosses will decide before the end of April whether the 2020 British Grand Prix will go ahead as planned on 19 July and have said they are open to the idea of hosting more than one grand prix.

    The first eight rounds of the 2020 Formula 1 season have been cancelled or postponed, but F1 bosses still hope that "between 15 and 18 races" will still take place. 

    Silverstone MD Stuart Pringle told Sky Sports News that the track could feasibly be considered for multiple events, citing its proximity to several teams’ HQs and range of layout options. 

    He said: “All I've done is say to Formula 1 we are willing to work with them in any way, shape or form that they think is in the best interests of the championship.

    silverstone_action_0.jpg?itok=uHCTUNJj

    "The majority of the teams are within a stone's throw of the circuit, so operationally it would be pretty straightforward.

    "We've got the fixed infrastructure, the staff could go home to their own beds of an evening in large parts, so if that's how we can help, then I'd be delighted to do that."

    F1 bosses have said the 2020 season will differ "significantly" from the original calendar and is likely to extend beyond the traditional November end date. 

    Some of the postponed races, including the Bahrain and Spanish GPs, could still go ahead, but others have been cancelled entirely. The Monaco GP, for example, will take place “under no circumstances”.

    Read more

    Silverstone to host British Grand Prix until at least 2024

    Brabham BT62: 691bhp track weapon takes on Silverstone

    View the full article


  18. Volkswagen Tiguan PHEV - launched in China
    Chinese-market Tiguan L GTE was launched there in 2019
    Plug-in hybrid SUV and saloon will join other low-emission GTE models by end of 2020

    Volkswagen has confirmed plans to introduce GTE-badged plug-in hybrid versions of the Tiguan SUV and Arteon to its European line-up by the end of 2020.

    The two new petrol-electric models are set to join the recently unveiled Golf GTE, upgraded Passat GTE and forthcoming Touareg R in an expanded five-strong line-up of plug-in hybrid VW models.

    A Tiguan GTE was shown in concept form back in 2015 and was expected to enter production. However, despite a Tiguan GTE being offered in China, where it is sold in long-wheelbase guise, VW prioritised other models in Europe.

    The European-spec Tiguan GTE is expected to adopt the same drivetrain as the most powerful of the two new Golf GTE models.

    It combines a turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine developing 148bhp and 184lb ft torque with an electric motor that produces up to 136bhp and 147lb ft. All up, it is claimed to produce a total system output of 242bhp and up to 295lb ft.

    The Chinese-market Tiguan GTE, on sale since mid-2019, uses a slightly less heavily tuned version of the same drivetrain. It has a combined 207bhp and the same 295lb ft, which gives it a claimed 0-62mph time of 8.1sec and an electronically governed 124mph top speed.

    A series of developments, including more direct gearing and a more advanced power electronics system, is expected to provide the European Tiguan GTE with added performance potential on a par with that of the existing Tiguan 2.0 TSI, which has a 0-62mph time of 6.3sec and 143mph top speed.

    A 13.0kWh lithium ion battery mounted within the floor of the luggage compartment will provide the new Tiguan model with a zero-emission range of up to 40 miles at speeds up to 87mph.

    With new cell technology, the battery is claimed to be smaller in size than that used by the earlier, first-generation Golf GTE, indicating that any intrusion into the Tiguan’s 615-litre boot should be minimal.

    Volkswagen is yet to provide official technical details, although insiders from its Wolfsburg headquarters in Germany (now home-working due to coronavirus restrictions) suggest the planned Arteon GTE will receive the same plug-in hybrid drivetrain as the upcoming Tiguan GTE in both saloon and Shooting Brake guises.

    READ MORE

    Four-wheel drive 'key' to hot Volkswagen ID 4 GTX EV 

    Volkswagen ID 3 delays continue as software problems pile up 

    Volkswagen to launch 34 new models in 2020

    View the full article


  19. McLaren Elva official reveal - static front Range-topping V8 two-seater made 'more exclusive' as Woking slashes production run by 150 units

    McLaren has announced that it will produce just 249 examples of the ultra-exclusive Elva speedster, down from a planned 399 units. 

    The decision, confirmed by CEO Mike Flewitt in an interview with The Australian Financial Review, is said to have been taken as a means of enhancing the car's rarity value. "The feedback from our customers is that they think the car should be more exclusive than that, so we’ve capped it at 249," he said. 

    Autocar's sources suggest, however, that McLaren over-estimated market demand for the model, hence the decision to reduce production numbers. The similarly conceived Aston Martin Speedster is limited to 88 examples, while Ferrari will build just 250 examples each of its SP1 and SP2 Monza roadsters. 

    The new machine, which was first revealed by Autocar last summer, joins the P1, Senna and Speedtail in McLaren's range-topping Ultimate Series model line, and is priced from £1,425,000 (including UK VAT).

    McLaren claims the rear-wheel-drive Elva is the lightest road car it has ever produced. Powered by the firm’s 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, it is able to reach 62mph in “under three seconds” and has a claimed 0-124mph time of 6.7sec – faster than the track-focused Senna.

    The Elva name is taken from the East Sussex constructor whose chassis was used as the basis for McLaren’s M1A, M1B and M1C two-seat sports cars in the 1960s, which serve as spiritual predecessors to the new road car. McLaren has acquired the rights to the Elva name.

    McLaren boss Mike Flewitt says the Elva is “a uniquely modern car that delivers the ultimate connection between driver, car and the elements”. It features a bespoke, lightweight carbonfibre chassis, with no roof, windscreen or side windows.

    98-mclaren-elva-official-press-hero-rear

    To shield occupants from the elements, McLaren has developed an Active Air Management System (AAMS). Automatically activated at speed, this guides air through a large inlet in the splitter at the front of the Elva’s distinctive low nose and out of a clamshell ahead of the cabin. As a result, the air is channelled up and over the occupants to create a ‘bubble’ of calm. A small carbonfibre deflector rises from the front of the bonnet when the AAMS is active to direct the air, which is deflected through a number of carbonfibre vanes across the bonnet.

    When not active at low speeds, the air flow is diverted into two low-temperature radiators to boost their efficiency. McLaren claims the radiators boost the output of the engine by cooling the oil in the seven-speed transmission. The firm says the AAMS tech means helmets are not required but can be worn if preferred, while a fixed windscreen will be offered as a factory option.

    As well as the open front, McLaren has made the cabin as open to the elements as possible with low sides and by minimising the size of the twin rear buttresses by the use of an automatically deploying roll-over protection system.

    The car has a number of features designed to maximise aerodynamic efficiency, including air intakes on the rear buttresses and an active rear spoiler. The latter works in conjunction with an extreme rear diffuser, which features vertical fences designed to accelerate air out from under the Elva’s flat floor.

    McLaren’s traditional V8 engine has been tweaked for improved power output with a revamped exhaust system, while the car’s chassis has been optimised to “maximise agility and driver engagement and feedback”, with electrohydraulic steering and unique software settings and springs.

    McLaren has yet to cite a weight for the car, but says that, as well as the open-top design, it has been minimised where possible through the extensive use of carbonfibre. The front clamshell is 1.2mm thick and is formed from a one-piece panel, while the large side panels are also single pieces. The small gullwing doors are carbonfibre too, mounted via a single hinge.

    95-mclaren-elva-official-press-cabin.jpg

    The sintered carbonceramic brakes measure 390mm, and McLaren claims they are the most advanced to be fitted to one of its road cars, with increased thermal conductivity that allows for reduced brake duct cooling.

    McLaren has used a “blurred boundaries” design principle for the interior, with a carbonfibre element flowing from the rear buttresses into the cabin to serve as the central armrest between the driver and passenger.

    The dashboard has been designed for a clean ‘pebble-like’ feel, with the only instrument cluster moving with the steering wheel to ensure optimum visibility.

    The Active Dynamics controls are mounted on that instrument cluster for the first time in a McLaren. A central 8in touchscreen is used for many of the car’s functions, including a track telemetry system.

    The interior features lightweight carbonfibre seats and is offered without an audio system as standard. The floor is exposed carbonfibre, with lightweight non-slip mats as standard. With the cockpit open to the elements, the Elva is offered with a range of trims designed to cope with exposure to rain, sunlight and other intrusions.

    A small storage compartment, designed to house helmets, is located beneath the rear tonneau.

    The Elva is available to order now, with customer deliveries due to begin later this year after the production run of the Speedtail is completed.

    92-mclaren-elva-official-press-old-meets

    The story behind the name

    The tiny Bexhill-based Elva Equipe (the name comes from the French phrase ‘ella va’, meaning ‘she goes’) played a key role in McLaren’s early sports racing cars, which the new Elva takes inspiration from.

    Bruce McLaren established his eponymous team in 1963, developing the M1A sports car, powered by a mid-mounted 340bhp 4.5-litre V8, to race in both Europe and North America.

    The car was quick, setting a number of lap records, and attracted much interest from potential customer teams. With his staff limited, McLaren teamed up with Elva to outsource production.

    That led to the McLaren-Elva M1A, M1B and M1C, developed between 1964 and 1967. By that time, McLaren had developed the M6A, which the founder and team-mate Denny Hulme used to dominate the 1967 Can-Am Championship.

    READ MORE

    Flat out in McLaren's ultimate trio: F1 vs P1 vs Senna

    McLaren 720S 2019 long-term review

    View the full article


  20. Bentley Mulliner Bacalar 2020 - hero rear Just 12 examples of the open-cockpit grand tourer will be made and are already allocated to customers

    The Bentley Mulliner Bacalar spearheads a new era for the British car maker’s coachbuilding division, which will launch an ultra-exclusive model as often as every two years.

    The £1.5 million Bacalar, an open-cockpit grand tourer, is limited to just 12 units, all of which have already been allocated to loyal customers.

    The two-seat design is heavily inspired by the EXP 100 GT concept, which was revealed for Bentley’s centenary last year, with the two cars having been designed side by side.

    Features echoing that concept include the single front lights, rather than the twin arrangement found on current-generation Bentley models, and the dark bronze brightwork. The strongest similarity is the dramatic rear end, including the blade design of the tail-lights.

    The Bacalar was first revealed in early March, but Bentley has now released a set of six Bacalar specifications created by its design team to show the many possibilties available for the coach-built two-seater. 

    Bentley head of colour and trim Maria Mulder said: "The six example specifications we have created each have their own personality and purpose, but what they share in common is that only Bacalar can reflect this level of personalisation and attention to detail."

    The six are named: The Clerkenwell, the Menlo (pictured below), the Fulton, the Greenwich, the Brickell and the Randwick. (Scroll through the above gallery to see the rest.)

    10-bentley-bacalar-menlo-2020-static-rea

    Talking more broadly about design, head of exterior design JP Gregory said: “This is the first modern coachbuilt Bentley Mulliner. A [coachbuilt] product is something that Bentley is quite famous for.

    “The character of the Bacalar is inspired by the future of luxury mobility. We’re already starting to deliver on the vision we showed on the EXP 100 GT.”

    “The barchetta design throws the visual weight backwards. There’s a seamless flow between the interior and exterior.”

    The interior references the Birkin Blower racing car of 1929, said Darren Day, head of interior design: “We were heavily focused on a wraparound cockpit, including behind the seats. This was designed from scratch: every little detail from the speakers to the knurling. I wanted to see something you couldn’t produce in a production car.”

    Owners of the Bacalar can request a bespoke luggage set to fit behind the seats.

    The only features carried over from more mainstream Bentleys are the door handles, because of the keyless entry, and the cap of the steering wheel, because of airbag functionality. Interior shapes familiar from other Bentley models include the dashboard and centre console buttons, but entirely new materials are used to set them apart.

    These include 5500-year-old riverwood, naturally felled in Cambridge, and wool and tweed from the Scottish Borders. The dials and clock have a dark blue surface, intended to reflect the lake after which the car is named: Lake Bacalar in Mexico.

    Bentley design director Stefan Sielaff said: “When we started to develop the Bacalar, we were still working on the EXP 100 GT. It’s a good experiment to do things differently. We almost don’t see any chrome or traditional materials. It’s a big step forward in a modern interpretation of what Bentley can be.”

    The Bacalar uses Bentley’s famed 6.0-litre W12 powertrain to produce 650bhp. That’s 41bhp more than the standard W12 and peak torque is raised to 664lb ft. The car can achieve 0-60mph in 3.5sec and has a top speed of more than 200mph.

    The Bacalar marks the beginning of a major drive for Mulliner, with the division’s boss, Tim Hannig, describing it as “one of the biggest untapped opportunities to satisfy customers”.

    bentley_mulliner_bacalar_-_2.jpg?itok=_5

    Hannig identifies three pillars of Mulliner: Mulliner Classic, Mulliner Collections and Mulliner Coachbuilt.

    Mulliner Classic was kick-started last year with a 1939 Bentley Corniche recreation and news of a continuation series of the Birkin Blower. Mulliner Collections includes models such as the recently revealed Continental GT Mulliner Convertible. And Mulliner Coachbuilt includes the Bacalar, with more to come.

    Hannig said: “We have started to do coachbuilt models. Traditionally, Mulliner was always that. The Bacalar and the Blower are a pilot for us. There’s a real appetite [for these cars]. People say: ‘Why didn’t you do something like this earlier?’”

    Of future coachbuilt models, Hannig said: “We will make sure we can maintain or increase the workforce. The Bacalar is about the sensation of driving. We might, at some point, do something which is about ultimate comfort. We didn’t want to be vulgar, and it’s not about being the fastest car out there.”

    Sielaff added: “You can see the Bacalar on the road much quicker than a big production project. This will be the first of more to come. A modern coachbuild could happen frequently, but it will change depending on the number we build. If a customer wants one or two cars, the price would be higher, but we can do it. But 10 or 12 cars is the limit in terms of being able to do everything by hand, like with the Bacalar.”

    Q&A: Stefan Sielaff, design director, Bentley

    31-stefan-sielaff.jpg?itok=e2Ul9sX7

    Why did you decide on this bodystyle for your first modern coachbuilt Mulliner?

    “We could do anything: a shooting brake, a coupé… We wanted it to relate to the Blower as a typical British sports car. Have you ever seen a Blower with a roof? There’s something classically British about it: people drive here in summer and winter without a roof.”

    What would you like to carry over to series production?

    “The strong reduction [of lines] on the body and not having too many details on the exterior. Also, the treatment of material: making it more sustainable. And craftsmanship; that makes Bentley so special.”

    Do your younger customers want something different from more traditional buyers?

    “Younger customers have a completely different mindset. The attitude of status symbol isn’t so focused on bling bling. It’s a more modest way, in saying ‘we know what we have and we don’t need to show what we have’.”

    This is the first time you’ve done a bronze Bentley badge…

    “Yes, it’s always a risk to change the badge. It might upset some. But [at this level] if a customer wants chrome or black instead, that’s fine.”

    READ MORE

    Limited-run Bentley Continental GT celebrates Pikes Peak win 

    Bentley S2 meets Mulsanne: Driving Crewe's first and last V8 engines 

    New Bentley Mulsanne 6.75 Edition is final outing for iconic V8

    View the full article


  21. Hyundai Kona Electric lead UPDATED: Range estimates are exactly that - estimates. We show you what you can expect from an EV in the real-world

    Battery technology and charging infrastructure is constantly improving, quickly turning EVs from niche vehicles to a viable replacements to combustion-engined cars. But how far you can drive between top-ups is still a valid concern.

    Manufacturer range estimates vary wildly, and aren’t always achievable in everyday driving conditions - so how far can you really go on a single charge? Our sister site What Car? puts every electric car through a range test, measuring exactly what kind of distance you can achieve in the real world.

    The ten cars listed here have the longest range capability of all the electric cars we have tested to date.

    1. Hyundai Kona Electric, 259 miles

    Our current long-distance champion for electric range isn’t the car with the biggest battery, and nor is it the most expensive. That it comes from a mainstream brand rather than a luxury one and can be had for under £35,000 speaks volumes for EV adoption.

    When we road tested the Kona Electric last year, we said it offered “the most compelling blend of usability and affordability yet seen in an EV,” and with a real-world range of over 250 miles from a 64kWh battery, it bests premium names like Tesla, Jaguar and Audi.

    In fact, its combination of price, performance and popular compact crossover bodystyle have proved so in demand that Hyundai is struggling to meet demand.

    Read the full Hyundai Kona Electric review here

    30-hyundai-kona-electric-2018-rt-otr-fro

    =2. Jaguar I-Pace, 253 miles

    As the first European carmaker to release a premium model to challenge the likes of Tesla, Jaguar beat its closest rivals to the punch, while also setting a high bar for them to follow. It is a true driver’s car that happens to be powered by electricity, with impressive amounts of acceleration and the kind of handling you expect from the brand.

    With a 90kWh battery powering its twin electric motors, the I-Pace achieves a real-world range of 253 miles. That narrowly puts it into second place behind the Kona Electric, but with support for faster DC rapid charging, it may spend less time plugged into a compatible charging point to regain any lost range.

    Read the full Jaguar I-Pace review here

    1-jaguar-i-pace-2018-rt-hero-front_2.jpg

    =2. Kia e-Niro, 253 miles

    Sharing the second row of the podium with the I-Pace, the Kia e-Niro also manages 253 miles of range - despite having a significantly smaller battery than the Jaguar. It shares its powertrain with the Hyundai Kona Electric, but has a slight weight penalty on account of its larger body.

    When we road tested the e-Niro, we decided the slight reduction in total range was worth the gains in usability, refinement and ride quality, earning it a higher overall score.

    Read the full Kia e-Niro review here

    1-kia-e-niro-2019-rt-hero-front_0.jpg?it

    4. Tesla Model 3, 239 miles

    The long-awaited mainstream Tesla model only recently arrived in the UK, after a year of massive sales success in the USA. The Model 3 is available in Standard Range Plus specification, or with BMW M3-baiting power and acceleration in Performance guise, managing the 0-60mph sprint in 32 seconds and a 162mph top speed thanks to an electric motor on each axle. It was this version we tested, with the optional performance pack adding larger 20in wheels over the standard, aero-optimised 18in alloys.

    In our tests, the Model 3 Performance achieved 239 miles of real-world driving. That puts it beyond the longest range Model X, which costs significantly more, and comfortably ahead of the Audi E-tron electric SUV.

    Read the full Tesla Model 3 review here

    1-tesla-model-3-performance-2019-uk-fd-h

    5. Tesla Model X, 233 miles

    The second Tesla car to make it to the UK in volume numbers, the Model X combines seven seat practicality with attention-stealing gullwing doors and near-supercar levels of acceleration once the optional Ludicrous Performance mode has been added. It also demands a near £100,000 asking price, making it one of the most expensive EVs on Britain’s roads.

    When we tested the X in P100D guise, before the company shook up its model naming conventions, it managed a competitive 233 miles of range. While this puts it below the very best, Tesla’s supercharger network promises some of the fastest destination charging times currently available in the UK.

    Read the full Tesla Model X review here

    tesla-model-x_0_1.jpg?itok=ZPSAOAOG

    6. Nissan Leaf e+, 217 miles

    The first generation Nissan Leaf was among the first affordable electric cars, but it wasn't a distance champion. The second-generation model made gains, but it was the e+ version that made the biggest leap, thanks to a 62kWh battery. Compared to the 40kWh battery seen in the regular car, it allows for an extra 90 miles of real-world driving.

    The e+ also has more power than the regular leaf, with 214bhp making it much more responsive. It does, however, suffer from a less refined ride than the standard car, so using that extra power through the corners isn't quite as entertaining as it perhaps could be.

    Read the full Nissan Leaf e+ review here

    1-nissan-leaf-64kw-2019-uk-fd-hero-front

    7. Mercedes-Benz EQC, 208 miles

    Experiments with electric Smart cars and a battery powered AMG SLS sports car aside, the EQC is Mercedes’ first production EV. It’s a premium SUV with familiar yet different styling, so it doesn’t stand out too dramatically from the rest of the Mercedes line-up, and delivers the kind of interior we’ve come to expect from the marque. 

    An 80kWh battery pack has to power two motors, one for each axle and producing a combined 402bhp and 561lb ft of torque, giving it more accelerative thrust than either of its two mainstream rivals, the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi E-tron. It may have more power than the Jaguar, but it depletes it battery faster too: used for everyday driving, you can expect to see a typical real world range of more than 200 miles, narrowly besting the similarly-priced Audi.

    Read the full Mercedes-Benz EQC review here

    1-mercedes-eqc-400-2019-uk-fd-hero-front

    8. Tesla Model S 75kWh, 204 miles

    The original electric luxury saloon, the Model S proved that Tesla could turn its hand to volume production and set new standards for the distance an EV could travel on a single charge when it first made its debut back in 2012.

    It is now available in a choice of different battery capacities, with the current entry-level 75kWh model managing 204 miles of real-world range. That no longer puts it at the top of the list, but with access to a plentiful network of Superchargers, owners may find themselves spending less time recharging than they might in a rival EV.

    Read the full Tesla Model S review here

    2-tesla-model-s-75d-2018-fd-hero-rear_1.

    9. Audi e-tron, 196 miles

    Audi had experimented with electric versions of its existing models before, but the e-tron is the first of a new generation, and potentially one of the brand’s most important cars for years.

    It’s a luxury SUV first and an electric one second, but with styling that doesn’t set it far apart from combustion-powered models. It is heavy, however, and even though it has a large 95kWh battery pack, drivers can expect a real-world range of around 196 miles. On the plus side, support for 150kW charging (when it arrives in greater numbers) should speed up any downtime.

    Read the full Audi e-tron review here

    1-audi-e-tron-uk-fd-2019-hero_0.jpg?itok

    10. Renault Zoe R135, 192 miles

    The new generation Zoe arrived with a more powerful powertrain than the original car, which remains in the line-up as a new entry-level model. Exterior styling hasn't changed dramatically, but Renault has made real gains inside the cabin, with elements shared with the new Clio greatly raising perceived quality.

    The Zoe's 52kWh battery is officially capable of 238 miles on the WLTP test cycle, but our real-world testing showed the car is really capable of 192 miles in regular use. That puts it among cars costing significantly more, but falls behind the likes of Kia and Hyundai.

    Read the full Renault Zoe R135 review here

    1-renault-zoe-2020-uk-fd-hero-front.jpg?

    11. Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus, 181 miles

    Tesla’s most attainable model had already proven itself a capable electric tourer in more powerful Performance guise, but this Standard Range Plus model is capable of fewer files between charges. It has one motor powering the rear wheels only, rather than the two found in the Performance version, and it has a smaller battery pack, but it still landed in the upper echelons of distance-driving EVs under our Real Range tests. 

    Our testing produced a real-world range of 181 miles, putting it ahead of the similarly-priced BMW i3, but behind the capable Hyundai Kona EV and Kia E-Niro.

    Read the full Audi E-tron review here

    1-tesla-model-3-standard-range-2019-fd-h

    12. BMW i3 120Ah, 165 miles

    The i3 was one of the first modern electric cars, and a demonstration from BMW that they didn’t need to follow the same formula as the combustion vehicles they are expected to replace. An unusual design, minimal interior and the kind of handling expected of the brand helped earn the i3 a five star road test verdict when it first arrived back in 2013.

    A mid-life facelift and a higher density battery pack have helped keep the i3 relevant today as a premium compact EV, but a real-world range of 165 miles may rule it out of intercity journeys without also factoring in a charging stop along the way.

    Read the full BMW i3 review here

    bmw-i3s-rt-2018-2586_1.jpg?itok=3TV5DTO8

    READ MORE

    New electric cars 2019/2020: What’s coming and when?

    Analysis: Just how green are electric vehicles?

    Top 10 Best Electric Cars 2019

    View the full article


  22. 2020 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer prototype - front BMW will renew its Mercedes B-Class rival after revealing new two-door and four-door 2 Series coupé models

    The next-generation BMW 2 Series Active Tourer has been photographed in prototype form ahead of its expected unveiling later this year. 

    The Mercedes-Benz B-Class rival has been spotted winter testing out in the open, giving us a better look at its evolved styling than when we last saw it on the back of trailer outside a BMW facility in Germany. 

    The MPV's design looks to be closely aligned with the new 1 Series, upon which it's based. It also appears to have shorter overhangs than the current model, suggesting BMW has worked to improve interior space and packaging. 

    Expect the range of engines to include a base 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol and 2.0-litre four-cylinder tubo petrol, available in a number of different power outputs. A full range of diesels ranging from 118bhp to 188bhp will also feature. The expectation is that a plug-in hybrid variant will again be offered, given the necessity of such cars to reduce fleet average CO2 emissions, but nothing has yet been confirmed. 

    Don't expect to see an M-tuned variant any time soon, because it would be far from the firm's core market. However, a 302bhp 35i version would be technically possible, given the 2 Series Active Tourer's close relationship to the 1 Series. 

    The Active Tourer will join the newly revamped 2 Series line-up after the unveiling of the new four-door Gran Coupé late this year and the traditional two-door coupé early next year. BMW sources have suggested to Autocar that the seven-seat 2 Series Gran Tourer won't return, however, due to a lack of buyer interest in larger MPVs. 

    Read more

    Mini to revive Traveller name for BMW i3-based MPV

    Facelifted BMW 5 Series spied in saloon and estate forms​

    BMW 3 Series 330e 2020 long-term review​

    View the full article


  23. superbike vs rally car We round up our hottest stories, pictures and videos for you to devour in your lunch break

    It’s everyone’s favourite part of the working day, lunchtime, and you’re no doubt craving a hefty dose of car-related content. 

    So we’ve revived our Autocar Lunchbox feature to bring you our favourite videos, stories, photos, quotes and more all in one place. Here are today’s picks:

    HOT NEWS

    Son of P1

    1-mclaren-phev-render-static-front.jpg?i

    McLaren will launch its first mainstream hybrid car later this year, with sources suggesting it will sit towards the lower end of the British sports car maker’s three-tier model range in terms of power and performance. It’ll eschew Woking’s traditional twin-turbo V8 set-up in favour of an electrified V6 and should be capable of 20 electric-only miles per charge. 

    First mainstream McLaren hybrid due later this year

    VIDEO OF THE DAY

    CSL - SMG = Gr8?

    The BMW M3 CSL (the 2003 E46 3 Series, codename fans) is widely regarded as one of the greatest BMW M cars of all time and couldn’t possibly be improved… or could it? We took a trip to Oxfordshire’s Everything M3s to drive their version, with a manual gearbox replacing the usual SMG ’box, to see if you should mess with a legend.

    PHOTO OF THE DAY

    On yer bike!

    drag.jpg?itok=3g66BqaV

    We don’t feature a lot of motorbikes here at Autocar, so you know that any that make the cut are pretty darn special. This is RC Express Racing’s Kawasaki ZX-10R - a superbike that weighs the same as a couple of burly rugby players and packs more power than a 2.0-litre Mazda MX-5. Is it a match for a 1200bhp Nissan GT-R or a Rallycross racer? We found out in our ultimate drag race showdown. 

    Ultimate drag race showdown: BMW, Porsche, Ferrari and more

    QUOTE OF THE DAY

    Things can only get better

    “The contrast between the Puma and the EcoSport is so stark you wonder if the latter wasn’t actually a canny bit of strategic product planning. A great car is made to seem even better by immediate comparison to a really awful one.”

    puma.jpg?itok=1BcSKR7t

    The Ford Puma has already established itself as an immediate class leader in the burgeoning compact SUV segment, but can it achieve a coveted five-star verdict in the arduous Autocar road test? Matt Saunders thinks it’s off to a good start, mainly because of the shortcomings of its predecessor.

    2020 Ford Puma road test

    FROM THE ARCHIVE

    Clear as Glas

    gt1_2.jpg?itok=8e7OjVpp

    One of BMW's main factories today is Dingolfing, where the 5, 6, 7 and 8 Series are built. It employs 18,000 people and puts out 1600 cars per day. But while Munich is the brand's spiritual home, the other Bavarian plant was purchased in 1967 from Glas – a name that will be unknown to most nowadays. We look back at the success of that firm’s Goggomobile microcar. 

    Throwback Thursday 1964: the excellent Glas 1700 and its maker's story

     

    POPULAR OPINION

    The show(manship) must go on 

    gt_0.jpg?itok=opOm1iDi

    At this time of international hardship, taking a McLaren GT out on the road doesn’t exactly scream ‘essential travel’, but Matt Prior was pleasantly surprised at the public reaction when he recently took Woking’s DB11 rival for a (pre-lockdown) spin. Perhaps even flamboyance has a place in times of crisis. 

    Matt Prior: What will become of the GT - and the man-bun?​

    View the full article


  24. Ford Mustang Mach E front Mustang-inspired electric crossover is Ford's flagship and priced from just over £40,000, with first deliveries in late 2020

    Ford has revealed final UK prices for its new Mustang Mach-E electric crossover and first deliveries will start towards the end of the year. 

    The entry-level standard-range rear-wheel drive model is priced from £40,270. It promises a "target range" of 280 miles from its 76kWh battery and puts out 254bhp. The extended-range version is £9730 extra and has a 99kWh battery pack for a 370-mile quoted range and a power output of 281bhp.

    That price places this extended-range Mach-E just below the £50k threshold necessary to qualify for the £3000 government plug-in car grant. 

    The all-wheel-drive model starts from £46,750. With the 76kWh battery, its quoted range is reduced to 260 miles. The extended-range four-wheel-drive version starts from £56,950, with a 335-mile quoted rnge and a power boost to 332bhp. Pre-orders are being taken now, with a recommended deposit of £1000. 

    2_mustang_e.jpg?itok=H-mgW96F

    The Mach-E is Ford’s first volume-production battery electric vehicle and the flagship for the launch of 18 mild- and full-hybrid new models scheduled for launch by the end of 2021.

    The Tesla Model Y rival is the first production car to emerge from Ford’s Team Edison, a 70-strong Detroit group tasked with designing the firm’s next-generation EVs. At launch. the range-topping version will produce 332bhp, with a full GT model making around 459bhp due at a later date.

    Murat Gueler, Ford’s Europe design chief, said the aim was to create “something special that stands out from the crowd”, describing the new machine as “an EV with soul”.

    The new electric car has taken the Mustang title as the first step in expanding the nameplate into a full model line. The Mach-E moniker is inspired by the Mach 1 variant of the first-gen Mustang.

    The Mach-E UK order book is understood to be “healthy” and buyers who have expressed an interest will be locked into deals this summer, with many expected to be on the list for the high-spec First Edition models, limited to 10,000 units globally.

    7_mustnag_e.jpg?itok=-5BQZDqp

    Ford's electrification drive includes Fiesta, Puma and Focus Ecoboost hybrid models, plus Kuga, Transit Custom and Tourneo Custom Ecoblue models. Most efficient is the Kuga plug-in hybrid, claimed to emit 26g/km of CO2 on the outgoing NEDC cycle.

    By electrifying its volume-selling Fiesta, Focus and Kuga models, Ford estimates that it could save European motorists around £28 million a year in fuel costs. Ford is also promising to open 1000 charging stations at Ford "facilities" across Europe to speed the introduction of plug-ins and battery electric models.

    “Infrastructure is critical to helping consumers have the confidence to go electric, but we can’t do it on our own,” said Ford Europe president Stuart Rowley.

    Ford Mustang Mach-E: design, platform and powertrain

    The styling strongly links the EV to the regular Mustang, reflected in features such as the badge and front and rear lights, as well as several lines along the bodywork. Gueler said: “The approach was to put this car in a unique spot: only Ford can do Mustang. In the next few years, there will be hundreds of EV nameplates, but with Mustang, we can load up with emotion and drama.”

    The car lacks conventional door handles, instead featuring buttons that pop open the doors and small holds protruding from the front doors. Owners can use their smartphones as keys, or use a keypad built into the B-pillar.

    The Mustang Mach-E sports a more radical interior, with a wide dashboard featuring a Mustang ‘double cowl’ and built-in soundbar. The dash is dominated by a Tesla-style vertically mounted 15.5in touchscreen with a rotary dial fixed onto it using special glue. Many of the car’s systems are controlled through the screen, which uses a new Sync 4 operating system that can accept over-the-air updates. There is also a 10.2in digital cluster for the driver, while the steering wheel retains a number of physical controls.

    3_mustang_e.jpg?itok=OMibYXyf

    The Mustang Mach-E sits on a new Ford EV platform called Global Electrified 2, or GE2 – an extensively reworked version of the C2 architecture used for the latest Focus and Kuga. Gueler said designers had input into setting the platform’s dimensions, both to set the wheelbase and to enable the extended bonnet, which is long for an EV but considered an iconic Mustang design feature.

    The model will initially be launched with two battery pack sizes and three power outputs. The entry-level version will feature a single motor driving the rear wheels, with either a 75kWh battery and 254bhp motor or a 99kWh battery and 285bhp motor. Both produce 307lb ft, with a claimed 0-62mph time of under eight seconds and WLTP range of around 280 and 370 miles respectively.

    The twin-motor all-wheel-drive version is offered with a 75kWh battery and 254bhp, or 99kWh and 332bhp. Both versions provide 429lb ft and a sub-seven-second 0-62mph time, with estimated ranges of 260 and 335 miles. Charging is available through an AC home charger or via DC fast chargers at up to 150kW.

    The car is 4712mm long, 1881mm wide and 1597mm high, placing it between the Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes-Benz EQC. Kerb weights range from 1993kg to more than 2218kg and all models will have a governed top speed of 111mph.

    Claimed boot volume is 402 litres and there’s a 100-litre waterproof front luggage bay.

    Ford hasn’t given a full range of performance figures yet, but Team Edison’s Dorit Haas said it was “meant to be like a sports car”. She added: “This is a performance EV. Not just in a straight line, but in terms of handling and agility – the ride is very important.”

    The rear-wheel-drive models will sit on 18in wheels, with 19in wheels for all-wheel-drive versions. Twin-motor machines gain adaptive LED headlights and red brake calipers, while limited-edition First Edition models also get a panoramic roof.

    The Mustang Mach-E is being built in Mexico and is available to order now and will be sold exclusively online.

    READ MORE

    Opinion: Why Ford has gambled on calling its electric EV a Mustang

    Ford could expand Mustang line-up further in future

    Ford Capri could still be revived, says design boss

    Ford to launch three new model names by 2024 in Europe

    View the full article


  25. Porsche Cayman GT4, BMW M4, BMW i8 A variety of seriously quick machines, including racing lorries and superbikes, fight it out on the runway

    Pirates of the Caribbean didn’t start life as a huge film franchise, as you might know.

    At first, it was just a Disneyland theme park ride – a few-minute thrill whose name and vague theme, decades after its launch, someone concocted a plot around and threw Johnny Depp into.

    Similarly, this story didn’t start out as a magazine feature at all. Instead, it began life as a series of drag races that we videoed. Then someone said: “You know, we should probably tell people a bit more about this.” And thus the audio-visual few-minute thrill has become the feature you see here.

    The idea behind it was straightforward enough, though: take some quick road cars, superbikes and other wild cards and put them up against each other in a series of drag races, hopefully matching vehicles of similar accelerative ability. We’d line them up and, a quarter of a mile later, see if we were right.

    In many cases, we were able to put our GPS data-logging hardware on the machines, but sometimes we were not. Where we have data, we’ve published it.

    Race one - Litchfield Nissan GT-R versus race bike

    As car vs bike challenges go, this is a pretty senior one. Litchfield Imports has spent nearly 20 years importing, modifying and tuning mostly Japanese cars, and the Nissan GT-Rs that it modifies can run more than 1200bhp.

    The RC Express Racing Kawazaki ZX-10R of Ivan Lintin, meanwhile, is a sub-200kg road-racing superbike that makes a bit over 200bhp.

    Lintin is in charge of his own getaway. There’s no traction control, so he must feed out the clutch and keep the front wheel on the deck as best he can, but he can give it full throttle from second gear.

    Litchfield’s gaffer, Iain Litchfield, has to worry less about wheelies and more about the drivetrain. On his first go, the ECU, it turns out, is set up to give more turbo boost the longer you hold launch control and, after a too-long pause for the lights to change, it lunches a driveshaft. Litchfield thought it might, so he has brought a spare.

    Half an hour later he has swapped it and is ready to go again.

    With the GT-R’s torque limited to save the transmission, the bike gets away narrowly ahead, but when the car shifts into fourth gear, torque becomes unlimited and it spins up all four wheels. Which is quite a sight, although not one Lintin sees, because he’s still ahead. At the quarter mile, the bike nips it, but the GT-R - 10.3sec at around 170mph for the standing quarter - is gaining.

    Race two - Ferrari 458 Speciale versus Nissan GT-R and McLaren 650S

    Two unusual things here: we found a standard Nissan GT- R and an owner of a Ferrari 458 Speciale who was prepared to give it the absolute beans down a runway. All three cars have launch control and, by gum, all three were prepared to take advantage of it.

    On paper, the 641bhp McLaren should have the measure of both the 542bhp GT-R and the 597bhp Speciale, but it’s the Nissan that gets off the line first — probably no surprise, given that it has four-wheel drive and the others, despite their engines being in the middle, do not.

    Of the supercars, the McLaren gets away better, thanks to some turbocharged oomph, and it stays that way. In fact, it doesn’t just get away better than the Ferrari; the McLaren quickly overhauls the GT-R, too.

    At the line, which the McLaren crosses 10.8sec after getting away, it’s holding a half-second advantage over the other two, which finish more or less together, both at a little over 11sec. The GT-R is a touch ahead and travelling at 124mph, but just another few yards and the Speciale would have had second.

    Race three - Ariel Atom 3.5 R versus Rallycross Citroën DS3 and race bike

    This is one of those that only ended up going one way. We enlisted ‘Big Jim’ from upstairs at work, who has recently spent some savings and a PPI payout on going motor racing on a 1998 Yamaha R1 superbike. He hopes to take it to the TT within a couple of years.

    Trouble is, it isn’t set up for standing starts, and an Ariel Atom 3.5R, with a supercharged Honda engine making over 300bhp and a sequential gearbox with pneumatic shifts, pretty much is. It’ll do 0-60mph in around 3.0sec dead on RAF Alconbury’s concrete runway.

    Even that, next to Liam Doran’s FIA World Rallycross car, is tardy. His Citroën DS3 - with the best part of 600bhp, four-wheel drive and launch control - hits 60mph in less than 2.0sec.

    The explosive start gives Doran an advantage that the other two - Ariel second and Big Jim third - can’t quite overhaul. But Jim is having the time of his life anyway.

    Race four - Porsche 911 Turbo S versus Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and Nissan GT-R

    With 707bhp and 650lb ft, the Dodge Challenger Hellcat ought to be quite a thing - even though this one, sourced from an early UK adopter, runs an automatic transmission.

    No apologies, then, for putting it up against two of the most accelerative production cars we could think of: the Porsche 911 Turbo S (which can hit 60mph in around 3.0sec and a standing quarter mile in 11.0sec, even on a poorly surfaced runway) and that standard GT-R again, partly because putting a GT-R into a video increases the number of people who’ll watch it by about 50%.

    The 911 and GT-R - identical on power - are the more competitive pair. The 911 gets away better, because it’s lighter, because of where its engine is and because it has the most spectacular launch control system known to motordom. It’s an advantage that it never gives up, but the GT-R is only a couple of tenths behind.

    In fairness, the Hellcat - despite its whopping power advantage - doesn’t stand much of a chance. Yes, it has launch control, but it can’t get its power down cleanly enough to match the four-wheel-drive vehicles, and it never makes back the disadvantage. However, a 12.2sec standing quarter mile time on this surface is pretty good going for a rear-drive V8 brute.

    Race five - Porsche Cayman GT4 versus BMW M4, BMW i8 and Lexus RC F

    Another front-engined, rear-drive brute here in the form of the BMW M4, and another slightly foregone conclusion on that front. If you want the fastest-accelerating BMW sports car of the moment, look instead to the i8.

    On paper, the M4 should be a 12.3sec car over the standing quarter mile and the i8 a 13.3sec car. But those are in the optimum conditions and surface of our road tests. Out there on the concrete, the M4 can’t compete with the four-wheel-drive i8, which can match its 0-60mph time of 4.5sec every time (until its batteries run out), whereas the M4 can’t get near its 4.1sec time.

    Advantage, then, to the i8, which also retains a tiny advantage over Lexus’s rear-wheel-drive RC F. The Lexus doesn’t have launch control but, driven skilfully by our tame racing driver, makes an extremely good fist of things.

    But the Porsche Cayman GT4 is barely capable of being beaten in any arena and, despite having no launch control, takes advantage of its engine’s behind-driver location to make the best of what traction it has. It’s a 4.6sec-to-60mph car in ideal conditions and just about is here, too, nipping through the standing quarter mile in 13.0sec - just ahead of the i8, from the Lexus, from the M4.

    Race six - Range Rover Sport SVR versus race truck

    Dave Jenkins’ current racing truck makes around 1150bhp and weighs 5.5 tonnes. And like the Litchfield GT-R, the first time he tries to get it off the line quickly - which is not something it’s set up for because race trucks have rolling starts - something breaks on it.

    Jenkins doesn’t have a replacement part, so he opts for the next best thing: a supertruck from about a decade ago, when race trucks were bigger of budget and rortier of engine. It weighs only five tonnes and has a full 1500bhp. Game on.

    We put it up against the trickiest thing we could find: a Range Rover Sport SVR, which makes 542bhp and tipped our scales at 2335kg when we weighed it. In terms of power to weight, then, the supertruck ought to have it.

    However, the Range Rover just gets away better, because it weighs less than half as much as the truck, so even though the truck can do a 13.6sec standing quarter mile, the car can do the same in 12.8sec.

    A narrow advantage, then, to the car, but the sight of Jenkins drifting the truck around at the end of the quarter mile is one that’ll live with us for a long time.

    Race seven - BMW X5 versus Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT 8 and Porsche Cayenne Turbo

    Yet more truckness, of a fashion. BMW’s X5 M plays the Jeep Cherokee SRT-8 and a Porsche Cayenne Turbo.

    My money is on the Porsche because, well, it’s a Porsche, but the power outputs suggest otherwise: that the Grand Cherokee, with its 470bhp 6.4-litre V8, will be behind the 542bhp Cayenne, which will be behind the 567bhp X5.

    I’ll be honest: this one goes to form. The Jeep, for all of its noise and goodness, is slowest off the line and stays that way. The Porsche puts up a better fight against the BMW, but the X5 gets away slightly faster and then holds its advantage. If you want the fastest SUV off the lights, the X5 M is it. 

    This article was originally published on 4 January 2016. We're revisiting some of Autocar's most popular features to provide engaging content in these challenging times. 

    Read more

    Drag race: McLaren 720S Spider vs BMW S1000RR vs Ariel Atom 4​

    Drag Race: BMW M5 vs Diesel Seat Arosa - Which is faster?​

    View the full article

×
×
  • Create New...