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The Motorists Guide

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  1. Audi's V10-engined supercar could hit new heights in search of Nürburgring lap record A hardcore Green Hell version of the Audi R8 appears to be on the cards, following a recent trademark filing. Audi filed a European trademark filing for the R8 Green Hell name in early March, suggesting the arrival of a track-focused version of the four-wheel-drive supercar - one with possibly more power than the 602bhp R8 Performance. The model is expected to be a run-out special being readied for an attempt at the Nürburgring production car lap record. Fellow Volkswagen Group brand Lamborghini currently holds the record, having lapped an Aventador SVJ around the infamous German circuit in 6:44:97. Audi insiders had previously said they were fighting to keep the R8's naturally aspirated V10 engine alive for as long as possible, and an extreme version with more power could be the way to keep it relevant before the next-generation model makes the jump to an electric powertrain. The most powerful R8 currently in production is the R8 GT2 customer race car, which develops 640bhp from a modified version of the 5.2-litre V10. The racer, which was revealed at last year's Goodwood Festival of Speed, shares roughly 55% of its internal components with the roadgoing car. Audi used the Nordschleife extensively when developing the R8 and once held the electric car record with the limited-run R8 e-tron, so it's no stranger to the circuit. The lack of a similar trademark application in the US suggests the R8 Green Hell could be destined solely for Europe if it were to make production. However, it should be noted that it isn't uncommon for manufacturers to file trademarks for names without them ever appearing on a car. READ MORE Next Audi R8 to be hypercar-chasing EV 2019 Audi R8 revealed with tweaked design and more power Rear-driven Audi R8 made full-time member of range View the full article
  2. Range-topping hatchback and saloon will be among the most powerful models in their segments Following the recent unveiling of the new Audi A3 hatchback, our spy photographers have snapped the hardcore RS3 variant in saloon form. The range-topping model is set to take its power from the same turbocharged five-cylinder 2.5-litre petrol engine as the new RS Q3 performance SUV. The 394bhp output of this unit will make the RS3 one of the most powerful cars in its segment, just below the 416bhp Mercedes-AMG A45 S. The RS3 is likely to improve on the larger RS Q3’s 4.5sec 0-62mph time, potentially taking it below 4.0sec. It could also be capable of beating its 174mph top speed, although RS models are traditionally electronically limited to 155mph as standard. The prototype in these images wears extensive camouflage, but we can see the RS3 Saloon will feature a number of unique design elements aimed at differentiating itself from the standard model, which is due to arrive in dealerships in May. Its alloy wheels are considerably larger than those of the standard car and are wrapped in much lower-profile tyres. The RS3’s potential is further hinted at by large, ventilated brake discs and a pair of classic RS-style large-bore tailpipes. The front end features the latest iteration of Audi’s corporate grille design, with the aggressive lower air intake styling aping those of the new RS6 Avant flagship and recently facelifted RS4 Avant. Audi has yet to confirm a launch date for the RS3, but it can be expected to follow some way behind the regular A3 Saloon, which is set to enter production in September. Audi Sport’s line of RS performance models is as varied as it has ever been, with performance variants of the TT, A3, A4, A5, A6, A7, Q3 and Q3 Sportback currently on offer. The range is now headed up by the new RS Q8, which packs 592bhp from a twin-turbocharged mild-hybrid 4.0-litre petrol V8. Read more 2020 Audi RS Q8 arrives with mild hybrid V8 New Audi Sport RS Q3 boosted to 394bhp Audi updates RS4 Avant with more aggressive styling for 2020​ View the full article
  3. Autocar magazine 13 March 1996 We look back to 1996 for Formula 1’s exciting first visit to Albert Park in Australia Everything feels incredibly weird this week, doesn’t it? Now that we’re not even allowed out of the house, the fact that Formula 1 won’t start up again until mid-June or later actually seems quite minor. The 2020 season was supposed to start last weekend, with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. The long, boring winter being brought to an end at this part-street, part-permanent race track through Albert Park will feel to younger fans a tradition, perhaps even historic, given that it has been race one for every season bar two since its controversial renovation for 1996. The star of that first race was debutant Jacques Villeneuve. The 24-year-old Canadian had joined the leading Williams team in place of David Coulthard and wasn’t exactly an unknown quantity, having won the Indycar World Series (at the time known as CART) over in North America. The main weight of expectation, however, came of course from his surname. Jacques was the only son of Gilles Villeneuve, the mercurial genius of car control; go and watch his battle with Renault's René Arnoux at Dijon if you don’t know it already, as it’s probably the best bit of racing you will ever see in F1. Villeneuve Senior could have been World Champion in 1979 if he had ignored Ferrari team orders, and no doubt more opportunites were within his grasp, but was stolen away far too young in a horrendous crash at Zolder in 1982. Another only son of an F1 cult hero sat across from Villeneuve in the Williams garage for the 1996 season: Damon Hill, who already had four seasons under his belt and by all rights should have been crowned champion in 1994 but for Michael Schumacher using his Benetton as a battering ram. Jacques introduced himself to the world of F1 in the best possible way, by taking pole position by almost three-tenths of a second ahead of Hill. The FW18 was easily the fastest car that season, although its closest competitor would be the F310 pair of Schumacher and Northern Irishman Eddie Irvine. As Albert Park was finally christened by Goodyear rubber, Villeneuve streaked off into the lead. However, the race was red-flagged after just three corners, due to a “horrendous accident” that sent veteran Martin Brundle violently cartwheeling into the gravel trap but miraculously emerging unharmed and sprinting back to the pits to enter his team’s spare car – “the best possible advertisement for the constructional safety of the Jordan chassis,” Autocar said at the time. “There was a key moment that truly showed Jacques Villeneuve to be a chip off the old block,” we continued. “On lap 34, under mounting pressure from his ever-present team-mate, the Indy 500 winner slid into the rough. He would later admit it was his own mistake, and he thought he was a gonner. “But the front wheels told the story. As the FW18 crabbed sideways, they remained perfectly parallel without a touch of over-correction. It was a split-second that offered a fascinating insight into the talent and co-ordination of the man who oh-so-nearly drove into the record book with a win in his first GP. “Earlier, there had been the moment when he ran round the outside of Hill’s FW18 to retake the lead after the two cars had made their single refuelling stops – just after the Englishman had squeezed in front coming out of the pits. Epic stuff! “Apart from that on lap 34, Villeneuve never put a wheel wrong. Hill was a lucky winner, his oil-stained FW18 slipping ahead with only just over four laps to go, after Villeneuve was signalled to ease up. “An ominous blue haze from Villeneuve’s engine 19 laps before the end told the story. His oil pressure was fading fast and he could count himself lucky to scramble home in second.” The Williams duo were joined on the first Melbourne podium by Irvine after his German superior at Ferrari was forced to retire with brake problems. Emerging from his now-brown-and-blue FW18, Hill said: “Jacques showed today that he is a genuine racer. It was a real thriller. I feel on top of the world at the moment.” “Sure, it was disappointing to lead most of the race and then have to slow down,” said Villeneuve. But the whole race itself was fun and a good demonstration of the Williams’ capability.” Autocar concluded by writing “Hill had better make hay while the sun shines. This boy is going all the way. Indeed, the 1996 title fight did last all 16 races, ending in glory for Hill – as many will remember from an iconic piece of commentary from Murray Walker. But the Villeneuve name would finally enter the hall of champions, long overdue, the next season, as Jacques scored nearly twice as many points from new partner Heinz-Harald Frentzen and managed to dodge another attempt at cheating for the title from Schumacher (resulting this time in his total disqualification from the championship by the FIA). READ MORE New Formula 1 car regulations delayed until 2022 From the archive, 1992: The 20th century Renault Twizy From the archive, 1981: Soviet dream machines View the full article
  4. Production of Polestar’s Tesla Model 3 rival, which promises a 311-mile range, has started in China, ahead of deliveries this summer Production of Polestar's second production model, the 2, has begun in Luqiao, China ahead of first deliveries in summer. Priced from £49,900, the 2 is the more attainable sibling of the far pricier Polestar 1, the genesis of the electric performance brand that has been separated from Volvo. Following its European arrival, it will go on sale in China and North America. The Luqiao plant, south of Shanghai, is owned by Geely and operated by Volvo and already builds XC40s for the Chinese market as well as the Lynk & Co 01, all of which sit on Volvo’s Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform. The Polestar 2 is the first electric vehicle to be built at the facility. The new model, described as the “first electric car to compete in the marketplace around the Tesla Model 3”, is a five-door fastback that takes design inspiration from Volvo models such as the S90. It was first displayed at last year's Geneva motor show and subsequently at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Polestar will sell models online only. UK reservations are being taken on its website, with a £1000 fully refundable deposit. Firm orders can be placed now, with first deliveries expected in July. The £49,900 on-the-road price includes routine servicing and maintenance for three years, plus VAT. The first 12 months of production will be dedicated to a fully loaded launch edition. Polestar had previously indicated a cost of around £51,000 for that model and suggested subsequent base models would have a "guide price" of around £34,500, similar to the Model 3. It has two electric motors, mounted across both axles for four-wheel drive, and a 27-module, 78kWh battery pack integrated into the floor. Polestar claimed the pack contributes to chassis rigidity and helps reduce road noise by 3.7dB compared with a traditional chassis. The powertrain produces 402bhp and 487lb ft of torque, translating to a 0-62mph time of “less than five seconds”. It’s not clear yet if cheaper variants will receive a detuned version. The range "target" is quoted at 311 miles on the new, tougher WLTP cycle – a figure highly competitive alongside the Model 3 and Jaguar I-Pace. The interior also takes inspiration from current Volvo models, but it features bespoke technology, including a new Android-powered infotainment system. One of the first cars on sale with this operating system, the 2's Android set-up “provides a solid and adaptable digital environment for apps and vehicle functions to coexist”, according to Polestar. It brings with it a suite of Google services, including the Google Assistant, Google Maps with EV-specific features and the Google Play Store, all controlled via a new 11.0in touchscreen. Further tech, such as numerous connected services and the facility to use your smartphone as a car key, also features. As with Volvo's models, safety features such as Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving, LED matrix adaptive high-beam lights and automatic emergency braking are available. The 2 also follows the latest trend by having as standard a vegan interior, which, according to head of design Maximilian Missoni, has “progressive textiles that will appeal to the forward-thinking audience who will subscribe to Polestar 2”. Read more First Polestar 1 prototypes seen ahead of summer deliveries Safe in their hands: talking to Volvo's design team View the full article
  5. It’s hard to find a tidy Polo for £2k, but it is possible What sensible cars exist for the cash-strapped newbie driver? Kias, Toyotas and Fords are the usual suspects First cars. This question never, ever gets old. It’s simply repeated frequently. As is the answer. It’s all about insurance. I may be asked for a first-time car with character, air conditioning or alloy wheels, but it always boils down to the quote, most likely from your friendly comparison site. Anyway, I was asked to point a buyer with £2000 and reliability at the top of their wish list in the right direction. Oh, and they wanted excitement. No chance of that. The usual suspects have to be from the Far East. I’d always recommend a five-door anything, because it will be easier to resell when car number two is on the horizon. Even so, a three-door Toyota Yaris is a harmless little thing that doesn’t break down. Best to spend £1500 so that there is money free for upsets and what’s left goes in the insurance pot. So a 2004 Yaris 1.3 T Spirit with a little over 60,000 miles, just one owner and a full year’s MOT at £1500 means you can’t go wrong. I also saw a 2007 Zinc special edition in similar condition, but the Zinc trim might put the insurance up. You could also look at the Kia Picanto. What a superb five-door city car that is: tiny, but all the doors and, best of all, they do tend to be looked after. Good to find a 2009 one with a full Kia history and 80,000 miles. I couldn’t believe that this very clean and tidy one-owner example was just £1500. You’re on less certain ground with the mass-market ones. I have a soft spot for Ford Fiestas because they are quite nice to drive and there are loads about, so it is possible to separate the terrible ones from the keepers. A 2007 1.25 Style Climate with 90,000 miles and two previous owners is also a safe way to get you inside a ULEZ. For just £1500. There are dreary and bland Nissan Micras, but my personal experience of Polos leads me to Volkswagen. A budget of £2000 doesn’t buy you anything that tidy and I’d avoid the overworked 1.2 three-cylinder. The best I could find was a 2007 1.4 Match with over 110,000 miles. I sold a similar one a few years ago for double that, so the price seems very reasonable and I know for a fact that it will, if the criteria are right, be a cheap insurance deal. That’s all very fascinating and slightly boring. Just say, though, that by ‘first car’, we actually mean the first private motor after a lifetime of company car hacks. In that case, £1500 is going to get you a 2002 BMW 325Ci Sport convertible that’s a dealer part-exchange looking for a new home. Now you’re talking. What we almost bought this week Lincoln Town Car: So, does a stretched Town Car ride better than a Mercedes S-Class, can it navigate a multi-storey car park and does the smell of old sick ever leave it? The answers to these and other questions await the purchaser of the 2004-reg example we found for £4450, easily recouped from a couple of hen nights and a school prom. Be our guest… Tales from Ruppert's garage Porsche Cayenne, mileage - 106,983: Here’s something that I could regret, but I’m going to do it anyway and get the Flying Pig’s stupid plastic coolant pipes swapped for aftermarket metal ones. It was never a recall issue, because it’s not a safety item, but it is a design fault and, after a year of dripping, it has become rather annoying. I spoke to a Porsche specialist, told them what needs to be done and they sent me a quote. £5000? £2000? Nah… £60. Actually, that was to put it on a ramp and plug it into a diagnostic system. I’ve made other arrangements and watched a couple of Russians on a video with spanners. More details soon. Reader's ride Vauxhall Vectra: David loves his Vauxhall Vectra (a C-generation one): “I never thought I’d hear myself saying that, either. But needing an emergency set of wheels, I paid £300 for a 1.8 2005 Vectra and discovered something of a hidden gem. Quiet, comfortable and huge, it quickly became an indispensable part of my life. Two MOTs later and now on 156,000 miles, it shows no sign of stopping. “Costs have been minimal, just regular servicing, and on a run I can squeeze 600 miles out of a tank! I love its quiet, safe character, which means long journeys are a breeze. Last year, I drove 25,000 assured, enjoyable miles in it. These are well-built cars of huge value and capabilities – and the Vectra C owners’ forum offers invaluable advice.” Readers' questions Question: I’m looking to buy a used VW Golf. After your story about advanced driver assistance systems not reporting faults, how can I tell if the adaptive cruise control is faulty? Do I have any redress? Simon Clarke, via email Answer: The Golf will display a warning message if there is a problem with its front-mounted radar. However, the message can suddenly vanish, only for it to return several weeks later. Problems with it are not covered by VW’s approved used warranty so check the front bumper and radar mount before buying and make it a condition of sale that any faults with it within a reasonable time are the dealer’s responsibility. JE Question: I had a Mazda Eunos years ago and am toying with the idea of buying another grey (private) import. Any tips? Kev Maudsley, via email Answer: Any import less than 10 years old needs to be examined by the DVSA and, if all is okay, given what’s called an IVA certificate. Cars over 10 years old are exempt. The internet has made sourcing cars easier. Try an auction service like JDM Auction Watch or dealer and auction service like Torque GT. We have no personal experience of either business so this is not a recommendation. JE READ MORE Toyota to suspend production at all European plants New Toyota Aygo to be designed, developed and built in Europe New Toyota GR Yaris: 257bhp hot hatch to cost £29,995 View the full article
  6. Aston details its new, in-house V6, set to be introduced in the mid-engined Valhalla in hybrid form from 2022, with plug-in hybrids also on the cards Aston Martin has detailed its new, in-house-designed hybrid V6 powertrain for the first time. Set to be deployed initially in the Valhalla mid-engined supercar from 2022, the engine has already undergone “extensive” dyno testing. It is codenamed TM01 after Tadek Marek, Aston's famed engineer of the 1950s and 1960s. The turbocharged 3.0-litre V6, the brand’s first all-in-house engine since 1968, will be mated to a “new range of hybrid systems” being developed alongside it, including both straight hybrid and plug-in hybrid applications. It's claimed to be the most powerful engine in Aston Martin's range. While that's as specific as it gets at this stage, we know it will produce more than the 715bhp of the DBS Superleggera in its raciest form. It features a a dry sump and a ‘hot V’ structure (where the turbo/turbos are mounted within the engine’s six cylinder heads) to ensure it's compact enough to squeeze in both front and mid-mounted applications and weighs less than 200kg. Aston claims power and torque levels will be “determined by the desired characteristics of each product it serves”, meaning other models will also receive the new unit. It is claimed to offer “the performance characteristics of a mid-engined sports car on an extreme level”, and meets the future Euro 7 emissions regulation. The engine is set to also make its way into the 2023 Vanquish. Although likely, it's not yet clear if it will be adapted for use in the promised future hybrid DBX. Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer said of the new engine: “Investing in your own powertrains is a tall order, but our team have risen to the challenge. Moving forward, this power unit will be integral to a lot of what we do and the first signs of what this engine will achieve are incredibly promising.” READ MORE Aston Martin Valkyrie: road testing begins ahead of deliveries Lawrence Stroll to take bigger stake in Aston Martin From Aston with love: driving James Bond's DB5 View the full article
  7. Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up a week in gossip from across the automotive industry In this week's round-up of automotive gossip, Peugeot ponders the death of the coupé, Vietnam's car company Vinfast could rescue Holden, Volkswagen commits to manual gearboxes and more. Geneva no longer a necessity for Bentley and Aston Car company bosses have expressed that the 2021 Geneva motor show might not be needed to unveil new models, since makers held their own events after the cancellation of this year’s show. Bentley boss Adrian Hallmark said it could be “not absolutely necessary to attend” in future if feedback is positive and Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer has echoed that sentiment. Why coupés are dying, according to Peugeot Coupés and convertibles are dying off in mainstream brands’ line-ups because there simply isn’t the spare investment capital needed to develop them, according to Peugeot boss Jean-Philippe Imparato. Electric cars, 5G connectivity and autonomous cars are huge, sequential investments that will dominate resources for a decade or more. “I love these cars,” said Imparato, “but today there are three other topics first.” Vinfast's Holden hold-on Vietnam's only global car company, Vinfast, could rescue Holden workers and facilities after the Australian brand was killed by General Motors. Reports from the region claim Vinfast is setting up an engineering hub that is currently being staffed by a number of ex-Holden employees and is interested in Holden’s proving ground. Volkswagen's manual commitment Good news for manual gearbox fans: not only does the new Volkswagen Golf GTI get one as standard, but its maker is committed to offering stick-shifts in the long term. VW tech chief Matthias Rabe said: “Some people enjoy going back to their roots and changing gear manually, and so long as there is a demand, we will continue to offer them.” READ MORE VW braces for “very difficult year” as pandemic shuts factories New Volkswagen Amarok teased with design sketch New Volkswagen Golf GTI gains power boost and more tech View the full article
  8. Peugeot boss Jean-Phillippe Imparato will target zero-emissions by 2030 if the UK's proposed 2032 restriction goes ahead, helped by early introduction of electric options Peugeot’s strategy of offering fully electric versions of models in the same range alongside traditional internal combustion engined variants will help it be ready for the UK’s proposed 2032 ban on the sale of non-electric cars. That’s according to boss Jean-Philippe Imparato, who says that such a deadline means you are “opening a race for the road to zero emissions far, far, far quicker than 2032” and in reality “it means 2030” if you are to be prepared and ready as a business to meet that deadline. The new 208 and 2008 have both launched with petrol, diesel and electric versions, and the larger 3008, 5008 and 508 with plug-in hybrid versions alongside internal combustion engined variants. This strategy, rather than offering bespoke electric cars, makes it “far easier and simpler for customers to explain electric cars to customers”. He added: “You choose the car and then you choose the powertrain.” The UK’s stance is much stricter than in the EU, which has presently mandated that CO2 levels must come down by a further 37.5% by 2030. But Imparato believes that with the current environmental climate “I bet you that will become 50%”. He added: “If it’s 50%, it will be the end of the story for the internal combustion engine and we must be prepared.” That will mean hybrids will be allowed to remain on sale in Europe but sale of fully electric cars will still dominate, making the EU and UK much more closely aligned than the UK’s headline 2032 ban figure might mean. “This means that the next generation 208 will be a fully EV, obviously,” said Imparato. “The new 208 allows me to prepare in a smooth, simple way to this situation. It would be very disruptive and brutal to cut full ICE cars now for both the customer and the network.” READ MORE Petrol and diesel car sales ban could come in 2032 New Peugeot 508 PSE to make production-ready debut Peugeot 208 wins 2020 European Car of the Year award Peugeot 508 SW 2020 long-term review View the full article
  9. Mercedes-Benz's performance division gives the mid-size GLC a makeover - and a healthy dose of extra power While Mercedes-AMG has had mixed form with its entry-level ’43’ performance models, we were impressed with the all-round balance of performance, luxury and comfort offered by the GLC version when we first tried it. And now, following a mid-life refresh for the whole GLC range, the AMG version of the mid-size SUV has been given a makeover.As with regular versions of the GLC, the revamped version of the performance SUV has been given a facelift including a new bespoke AMG grille and lights. But more significant is that it’s also been given more power, with fettling to the 3.0-litre V6 twin turbo lifting output to 385bhp from 362bhp previously.Alongside that, AMG’s engineers have done a spot of fiddling with the rear-biased all-wheel-drive system and the chassis dynamics, with aim to boost agility. So does that extra engine output and minor fettling add to the driving experience, or upset the all-round balance that we've praised in the GLC 43 until now? View the full article
  10. Check out our print and digital subscription offers to ensure you continue to receive Autocar every week With the latest government advice on the COVID-19 outbreak being to avoid leaving home apart from for essential travel, we appreciate it might become difficult to ensure you receive a copy of Autocar every week. With more need than ever for engaging, entertaining magazines, we plan to ensure that Autocar will continue to be published in print every Wednesday, to bring you the best news, reviews, features and opinion from the around the car world. You should still find copies in supermarkets and other shops each week, so you can grab the latest issue while doing your essential food shopping. We’ve also prepared some special offers for both print and digital subscriptions to Autocar, to ensure that you can continue to receive every issue without leaving your home. You can receive six print issues of Autocar for £6, or take a dual subscription giving you access to both print and digital editions for £8.50. Click here to access the offer. You’ll also find offers for subscriptions to our sister titles Classic & Sports Car and What Car?. We also have some great deals on longer-term print and digital subscriptions. For the latest print deals, click here, and for digital subscriptions, click here. Autocar is also available in digital form through Exact Editions. Find details by clicking here. Another option is a monthly subscription to Readly – the Netflix of magazine reading. For a single monthly fee, you gain access to Autocar and more than 4000 other magazines. Click here for more details, including a special offer. As we have been since 1895, we’re committed to bringing you the best motoring magazine every week, and aim to help keep you entertained in this difficult time. Autocar and Covid-19: A word from the editor View the full article
  11. Official image shows the T50's prominent rear-mounted fan Cosworth-designed three-cylinder motor has the highest power density of any road-going, naturally aspirated V12 Gordon Murray Automotive, which is set to unveil its new T50 hypercar in May, has released a video that shows the hypercar's three-cylinder motor revving to 12,100rpm. Developed by British engineering firm Cosworth, the normally aspirated 3.9-litre V12 produces around 650bhp and 332lb ft. Its 12,400rpm 'hard limit' makes it the highest revving road car engine ever built. For reference, the Aston Martin Valkyrie's V12 motor, also developed by Cosworth, tops out at 10,500rpm. Watch the video here The £2.3 million ‘analogue’ hypercar, to be built at Murray’s new Dunsfold factory, will move immediately after launch into a prototype build and development phase, before production build-up begins during 2021. Gordon Murray Automotive reveals the website for the new ‘T.50’: the purest, lightest, most driver-focused supercar ever - https://t.co/8s8KYDV0TH“We expect this to be the last and the greatest analogue supercar ever built.” – Gordon Murray CBE#FanCar #T50 #Supercar pic.twitter.com/pRq5NE9xd6 — Gordon Murray Design (@PlanetGMD) March 23, 2020 The first of the planned 125 cars – 100 road cars and 25 purely for the track – will reach its new owner at the beginning of 2022 and production will continue for a year. The mid-engined T50’s all-important aerodynamics package is being developed with the assistance of the Silverstone-based Racing Point Formula 1 team, formerly Force India. Access to the team’s moving-floor wind tunnel, plus the expertise of its F1-trained technicians, will allow Murray to use large-scale models to refine the T50’s revolutionary active aero package. A three-seater with a central driving position, the car combines the unique qualities of Murray’s two most iconic creations in a stellar 50-year, 50-car career: the seminal, ultra-light McLaren F1 three-seat supercar of 1992 and the Brabham BT46B grand prix ‘fan car’ of 1978, whose extraordinary levels of downforce briefly stood F1 on its head and took one race win before the team withdrew it in the face of opposition from rivals. The new T50’s most striking feature is a 400mm rear-mounted electric fan, designed to extract air rapidly from beneath the car, radically increasing downforce and grip. The aero set-up can be configured in six different modes, two of them automatic, the rest driver selectable. They vary from the super-slippery Streamline mode to the High Downforce setting, for use when exceptional stability and traction are needed. The first details of the T50 emerged last summer, when it became clear that it would use much of the packaging and technology of the F1, simply because, in Murray’s view, there isn’t a better way of doing it. The car has an all-new carbonfibre tub At the front of the engine, a 48V integrated starter/ generator connects directly with the crankshaft. It acts as a starter motor, then converts to a generator to produce the power needed to spin the lightweight fan at speeds of up to 8000rpm. The V12 is mounted very low in the T50’s all-carbonfibre tub, driving the rear wheels through a six-speed H-pattern manual gearbox built by Xtrac. Murray says most buyers are “relieved” by the presence of a proper stick shift, but he directs those who prefer paddles to the 25 late-build track cars, which will probably use them. In another nod to traditional driving, the T50 avoids hybrid technology: Murray says it would increase kerb weight far beyond the current figure of just 980kg, with many knock-on disadvantages. He wants the T50 to be seen as the spiritual successor to the F1 in its lightness, compactness and space efficiency, with those properties all enhanced by the use of modern materials and techniques. The T50 is just 30mm wider and 60mm longer than the F1, having about the same road footprint as a Volkswagen Golf. “No one else makes supercars our way,” said Murray. “I’m happy about that.” The car needs very little obvious upper-body aerodynamic addenda, allowing for a purer front-end shape. Although the frontal styling has yet to be revealed, Murray says its relationship to the F1 will be clear. Downforce is generated either by an active tail spoiler or via a large venturi beneath the body, a system of slots and ducts with the 400mm fan at its rearmost extremity. The feed of underbody airflow can be varied by the opening or closing of slots ahead of it. The T50’s two automatic aero modes are Auto (which optimises use of the fan, the rear spoiler and the underbody diffusers) and Brake (which opens the spoilers and runs the fan at high speed, sucking the car onto the road and increasing both stability and rolling resistance). The driver-select aero modes are High Downforce and Streamline, which cuts drag by about 10% by closing underbody vents and speeding the fan to create a ‘virtual longtail’. There’s also a Vmax mode, a kind of ‘push to pass’ setting that adds 30bhp for up to three minutes. Near the top speed, the ram effect of a roof-mounted induction air scoop (a Murray favourite) boosts power to about 700bhp. The final aero mode is Test, which allows an owner to demonstrate the functioning of the aero system when the car is stationary. Most T50s are already sold, although there are still “a few” opportunities for buyers. Murray said he is pleasantly surprised at the comparative youth of the latest crop of buyers: 40% are under 45 and three are buying their first-ever supercar. “People tell us the McLaren F1 was their poster car when they were growing up,” said Murray. “Now that they’ve built successful businesses, T50 has become their F1. We’re very happy with that.” Why the fan makes so much sense Aerodynamic downforce is a great thing to have when you need it, explains Gordon Murray, and that’s principally between 60mph and 100mph, the point at which your car benefits most from greatly enhanced cornering adhesion. It would be nice to have downforce that works lower down, too, but passive aero gadgetry doesn’t provide it. When going faster, you could often do with less aero effect. “Aerodynamic load rises as the square of speed,” Murray says, “and so does drag. Which means many cars with serious performance use up their suspension travel at high speed, which is about the last thing you need. You can reduce it with expensive, bulky variable-rate complexity, but who wants that?” All of which, in a nutshell, makes the case for the T50’s brand of variable, fan-based downforce. The system is tunable and delivers exactly as you want it to. You can use it to help stop your car from seriously high speeds. And you can adjust it for decent stability yet good ride quality while cruising autobahns at 150mph. In short, it looks like one of those things, once explained, that every serious future fast car will need. READ MORE Exclusive: Gordon Murray tells Autocar about his 2022 hypercar Gordon Murray receives CBE for 'services to motoring' New McLaren 620R revealed as limited-run, road-legal GT4 racer View the full article
  12. E-sports With the motorsport season on hold, e-sports racing is filling the void. We gave the spectacle a try The shutdown of motorsport is hardly the most serious consequence of the coronavirus outbreak – but it has denied people of a welcome dose of escapism and distraction at a time they need it most. Vast swathes of my weekends are often spent watching all varieties of racing and rallying. Now, its absence has left a big void, particularly while we should all be following advice and staying at home. But there is something to fill that void: virtual motorsport. Leading e-sports companies and major motorsport promoters have been rapidly organising online events, featuring a fascinating mix of ‘real-world’ racing drivers and e-sports stars. So can simulated racing replace the real thing? To find out, I gave it a try last weekend. My viewing included the official Formula 1 Virtual Grand Prix, shown live on Sky Sports F1 in the UK and, like the regular F1 e-sports championship, using the Codemasters F1 2019 game. I also watched action from the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series event (shown on TV channel Fox Sports 1 in the US), and Veloce Esports The Race All-Star E-Sports Battle (streamed live on YouTube). The first takeaway is that watching professional e-sports racing isn’t like watching your friends play console games. The graphics are amazingly realistic, and the production values high. At times you could easily mistake it for the real thing. Better yet, there were no annoying cutaways to random celebrities standing in the pits. It helped that all three events featured real-world commentators. Notably, BBC Radio Five Live F1 commentator Jack Phillips called both the Veloce Esports event – aided admirably by ex-F1 racer Jolyon Palmer – and the official F1 event. Meanwhile, the eNASCAR race was covered by Fox's Mike Joy and four-time champion Jeff Gordon. It all added hugely to the authenticity, and all did a great job explaining the similarities and differences between real and virtual racing. (Special bonus marks went to the eNASCAR broadcast, which featured all the regular pre-race ceremony, including someone singing the US national anthem in their garage...) That’s not to say the feeds were perfect. Incidents were missed in all the events, some of the ‘camera’ angles limited views and the delay in (and frequent lack of ) replays of key moments often left you uncertain exactly what was happening. And, frankly, watching virtual cars just doesn’t have the same visceral thrill. It misses the joy of watching a cutting-edge machine being pushed to the limit of its performance. The other major problems were the jarring moments that snapped you out of any sense of reality. Cars continued on after what would be massive race-stopping shunts, and virtual NASCAR pit stops didn’t feature virtual pit crews. And, worst of all were the various connection issues. In all three events, drivers would occasionally disappear when they lost the connection to the game server. The worst hit was the F1 event, which was delayed by nearly 30 minutes – and eventually halved in length – due to technical issues. When it started McLaren driver Lando Norris was unable to join, with his car computer-controlled for much of the race (or 'Landobot', as he called it). Notably, Landobot held its own and when the real Norris rejoined it was as part of a fun late-race scrap for fourth with YouTube racing star Jimmy Broadbent - that ended with a contentious final lap clash. Generally, the quality of racing was pretty high, though. Renault’s Guanyu Zhou won the F1 race comfortably, but did have to battle past Red Bull’s Philipp Eng, who started on pole. In the eNASCAR race Denny Hamlin edged Dale Earnhardt Jr in a genuinely thrilling final-lap battle. The high-profile driver line-ups helped, too. All three events featured a number of real-world drivers (while the F1 event also bizarrely featured golfer Ian Poulter and singer Liam Payne…), giving recognisable stars to root for. That said, because many were racing remotely, the star names weren’t actually seen or heard from on the broadcasts, except in some slightly stilted post-race interviews. To get their viewpoint, you had to look at social media – where many were streaming their in-car feeds and the likes of Norris provided numerous updates. That’s a major difference: drivers don’t usually have time to tweet during races… Ultimately, I don’t think e-sports will replace real motorsport soon. You can simulate the cars and racing, but you just can’t capture the drama, vibrancy and feel you get from watching real cars racing. But, at a time when watching real motorsport isn’t an option, e-sports does make a pretty decent alternative. READ MORE How to win an F1 race without leaving your home Autocar drives a virtual Ford GT endurance racer Virtual insanity: driving Aston Martin's Valkyrie simulator View the full article
  13. Arctic Trucks works its peculiar magic on the Isuzu D-Max to create the latest AT35 This is a slightly ridiculous vehicle. Arctic Trucks was working its particular blend of magic on pick-up trucks long before Ford came up with the Ranger Raptor, and here's the latest take on it: the Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35.The 35 is stands for the outer diameter of the Nokian Rotiiva off-road tyres, which sit on 17x10in black alloy wheels. They're the most notable part of a range of modifications that include a 50mm suspension lift and Bilstein dampers (AT used to fit Fox ones) that, with the new wheel-and-tyre combination, bring the total ride height increase to 125mm.Other changes for 2020 include remodelled side steps, new quilted leather seats, a new 9.0in infotainment touchscreen (with easy smartphone mirroring) and a front parking camera.Other than that, the AT35 remains as before and as other D-Max variants. There's a 2.5-litre four -cylinder diesel engine making 161bhp and 295lb ft and driving through a six-speed manual or (as tested here) five-speed automatic gearbox. It retains a 3500kg towing limit and, unlike the Ranger Raptor, its full tonne-plus payload, so remains classified as a commercial vehicle. There's a five-year/125,000 mile warranty, too.View the full article
  14. AMG's flagship estate will benefit from same raft of tweaks as standard E-Class, with reveal due later this year Mercedes-AMG is soon to unveil an E63 with revisions that surfaced in the recently revealed E-Class facelift, and a thinly disguised prototype estate has been caught on the road. With only light application of the usual body camouflage to trick the eye, we can clearly make out the updated headlight design and reconfigured grille and bumper of the updated E-Class. Fewer changes are evident at the rear, although it looks as if the Mercedes-AMG version will use a more distinct, square tipped quad exhaust design and a new diffuser-style bumper. There's no sighting of the interior in these new images, but it's safe to assume the changes will be identical to those adopted by the standard car. That means a redesigned infotainment system that uses the latest MBUX user interface, with a touchpad controller to replace the previous rotary dial setup. A new steering wheel design, and revised trim details will also feature. Don't expect much in the way of mechanical changes for the E63's twin-turbocharged V8 engine, which puts out 603bhp and 627lb ft in top spec 'S' form. However, Mercedes-AMG may see fit to draft in a mild-hybrid system to slightly boost efficiency. Minor detail changes to the chassis could also feature, but the standard car's suspension changes aren't dramatic. There's no word yet on when the brand will pull the covers off the new E63. With the New York motor show postponed and launch events effectively put on ice due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it could be a few months before it is unveiled. READ MORE Facelifted Mercedes E-Class gains new engines and interior tech New 2021 Mercedes-AMG C53 to ditch six-cylinder power 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series set to make 680bhp Next-gen Mercedes-AMG GT to be four-wheel-drive hybrid View the full article
  15. 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 JLR ramps up EV drive By the end of 2021, Jaguar Land Rover will be producing three brand-new EVs at its Solihull and Castle Bromwich factories. The company's new MLA electric vehicle architecture will underpin the all-electric XJ saloon, the bold J-Pace SUV and a compact new 'Road Rover', as the company invests £1bn in preparing for the electric era. Jaguar Land Rover to invest £1bn in three new UK-built EVs​ VIDEO OF THE DAY Nissan bloodline Who doesn't love the R34-generation Nissan Skyline? Driving enthusiasts of all ages will be familiar with its circular tail-lights and blocky profile, and many will even have driven it - thanks to its inclusion in the hugely successful Gran Turismo video-game series. But how does it compare with its descendant, the R35 GT-R? In this episode of Autocar Heroes, we hit the twisties to ponder the virtues of a screaming straight six, and consider what an R36 might look like... Nissan R34 Skyline meets Litchfield R35 GT-R | Autocar Heroes​ PHOTO OF THE DAY What goes around... Another Japanese motoring legend here, this time from Mazda. The original RX-7 was a sporty coupé with attractive styling, tight handling and one of the strangest motors of its era: the rotary engine. Now that the firm is plotting a revival of the Wankel, we're looking back at what made the RX-7 so great, and seeing if a well-used 1983 example has stood the test of time. Mazda RX-7 revisited - driving the rotary-engined king of spin QUOTE OF THE DAY An eclectic mix "As well as his 420 cars, Rodger also has around 65 motorcycles in his collection. Some are rare and some are less so - and then there's this unique 48-cylinder Kawasaki." That pretty much somes up businessman Rodger Dudding's approach to vehicle ownership. This vast private collection houses some of the rarest and most coveted vehicles money can buy, as well as many it cannot. We went for a virtual tour and highlighted some of the most jaw-dropping inclusions. Virtual Tour: inside a 400-car personal collection​ FROM THE ARCHIVE Autocar's slowest triple test In November 1990, our road testers undertook what was, although they didn't know it, one of the last 'commie car' group tests. Before the disintegration of the Soviet Union had fully taken place, we rounded up the Skoda Favorit, Lada Samara and Yugo Sana to see which represented the best value-for-money and, dare we say it, most dynamically pleasing package. "None of these cars will be bought for its performance," we said, "but all will provide adequate mobility for the family and none can be considered underpowered." Throwback Thursday 1990: Skoda Favorit vs Lada Samara vs Yugo Sana POPULAR OPINION Rover over You might not know about the so-called 'Phoenix Four', but these were the men credited with saving, then destroying, the storied Rover marque. Steve Cropley considers the British brand's lengthy and predictable demise. Remembering the infamous Phoenix Four View the full article
  16. Every debut and new model due to arrive over the next twelve months, all in one place Keeping track of every new car and knowing when they’re due to go on sale can be tough, especially if you’re only interested in EVs. There are so many due to arrive over the next twelve months, so it’s worth learning how long you’ll be waiting for the one you want to go on sale. 2019 saw new entrants to the category from the likes of Audi, Mercedes and MG, with major launches from well-known electric pioneers such as Tesla, Nissan and Renault all set to follow. The second half of 2020 looks to be even more stacked, as manufacturers work hard to meet increasingly tough emissions rules with the introduction of more all-electric models. New Cars 2020: what's coming this year and when?​ Here is our comprehensive list of what EVs are coming when in the car industry. March Kia Soul EV An updated design and upgraded interior aren’t the only changes for the second-generation Soul EV - it also borrows a powertrain from the e-Niro crossover. With Europe not getting any kind of combustion engined-model, the sole Soul is now electric, with a 201bhp power output from a 64kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack. Known as the e-Soul in other markets, but changed for the UK for obvious reasons, the Soul EV's range matches the 279 miles quoted for the e-Niro. A 10.25in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto improves things inside the cabin, too. Mini Electric A potential watershed moment for EVs, the upcoming Mini could become the very first electric hot hatchback. It is set to arrive with a powertrain influenced by the one found in the BMW i3, and will be built on an adapted version of the platform currently being used by the Mini hatchback. Near-instant torque and a 0-62mph time of less than seven seconds mean it should earn its Cooper branding in other markets. Here in the UK it will be sold as the Mini Electric. Range has been WLTP-tested to be between 120 and 140 miles, which may be lower than its immediate rivals, but handling is promised to be a lot closer to the original 60’s-era Mini - which sounds like a recipe for success to us. Peugeot e-208 After being on sale for six years, only the 208 GTi has managed to truly impressed us, so rumours that its replacement will appear in pure-electric form should be guaranteed to get hot hatchback fans excited. The standard 208 got its first electric version, courtesy of the CMP platform which allows for multiple powertrains, when the e-208 arrived in dealerships in March. It doesn't get a bespoke design, instead sharing its looks with the petrol and diesel versions, but delivers 138bhp from its electric motor for a promised 8.1sec sprint to 62mph. Range is 211 miles under the WLTP protocol. Seat Mii Electric It has taken far longer to arrive than the Volkswagen e-Up with which it shares a platform, but Seat’s electric city car finally went on sale in early 2020. With prices starting from £19,800 including government grant, it is one of the UK's most affordable EVs. A 36.8kWh battery pack promises a WLTP-certified range of 162 miles - 79 miles more than the first-generation VW e-Up. Smart EQ Fortwo and EQ Forfour The Smart brand went electric only when the revamped ForTwo city car arrived, complete with EQ branding. It retains the same 80bhp electric powertrain and 17.6kWh battery as the outgoing ForTwo Electric Drive, so will only offer a range of less than 100 miles. The coupé version was quickly followed by the Fortwo Cabrio, still the smallest convertible on sale in the UK, and the five-door Forfour. Uniti One This British-engineered compact EV is purpose-built for city driving, with a three-seat layout and McLaren F1-style central driving position. A modest powertrain will be capable of 75mph, but should achieve close to 180 miles of range between charges, thanks to an ultralight 600kg kerb weight. At £15,000, it will be one of the more affordable EVs when it arrives. Volkswagen e-Up! The original e-Up was starting to look a little long in the tooth, with its 118 miles of range far off the pace of newer electric city cars and superminis, so a revised version makes a lot of sense. Revealed at the 2019 Frankfurt motor show, the second-generation e-Up arrives with a more powerful 81bhp electric motor and a bigger 32.3kWh battery that promises 161 miles of range on the WLTP protocol. April Audi E-tron Sportback Deliveries for Audi's second electric SUV are set to begin at the end of Spring, with the sloped-roof E-tron Sportback joining the standard E-tron in dealerships. It will carry a £9000 premium over the regular car, but promises improved range thanks to a reduced drag coefficient and several mechanical improvements including the ability to decouple the front and rear axles so the car can be driven in rear-wheel drive. Customers can expect around 278 miles of range, according to the WLTP test cycle. Power comes from twin electric motors that deliver up to 402bhp and 490lb ft in boot mode, allowing for a 0-62mph sprint in 5.7secs. Peugeot e-2008 Peugeot's second fully-electric model will closely follow the arrival of the e-208 supermini with which it shares a platform. The new-look 2008 grows in size over the outgoing car, with more crossover-inspired looks and a choice of petrol and electric powertrains. The e-2008 is set to use the same 138bhp electric motor as the e-208, while a 50kWh battery should provide around 192 miles on the WLTP test procedure. It will arrive in UK dealerships towards the end of the Spring. June DS 3 Crossback E-Tense Set to share its CMP platform with the Vauxhall Corsa and Peugeot 208, the 3 Crossback will be the first electric DS model. Designed as a direct rival for the Volvo XC40 and Audi Q2, the Crossback will focus on comfortable, high-end interiors, distinctive exterior styling inspired by the 7 Crossback, and an electric range of around 180 miles from a 50kWh lithium-ion battery. 0-62mph performance is estimated at 8.7 seconds, with a top speed of 93mph. Order books are already open, but customers will need to wait until early summer to see the first cars on the road. Honda e It might arrive as a five-door, rather than the three-door layout previewed by the well-received concept shown at 2017’s Frankfurt motor show, but the production version of Honda’s compact electric city car promises to retain its retro-inspired looks. The company even went back to the drawing board after the reveal to make sure the real thing stayed as true to the concept as possible. The Urban EV will arrive on a unique new platform and deliver 136 miles of range. It will be available in two performance variants, the base car delivering 134bhp and the more potent Advance variant having 152bhp. It will arrive in the Summer as the brand's first European electric car, with dimensions smaller than the Jazz, and prices starting from £26,560 including government grant. Skoda Vision E Set to arrive in SUV and coupe bodystyles in a similar approach to the Kodiaq and China-only Kodiaq GT coupé, Skoda’s first dedicated electric car isn’t expected to go on sale until 2021, but a production version should be revealed in 2020. Both versions will be based on the VW Group’s MEB platform, which is being used across all the company’s brands for electric vehicles. Range has been estimated at at least 300 miles, and pricing will be comparable to an upper-range Kodiaq, meaning roughly £30,000. Summer 2020 Seat el-Born The first non-VW model to launch on the MEB platform, the el-Born will have a very similar powertrain and engineering to the ID hatchback, but opts for sportier styling and a more engaging driving experience. Range is predicted to be around 260 miles between charges, while the 201bhp electric motor shown in the concept version promises a 0-62mph sprint of around 7.5 seconds. It has already been seen in concept guise, and camouflaged test mules have been spotted on the roads, but a final production version isn't set to appear until later in 2020. It is likely to only go on sale once the VW ID 3 has arrived in showrooms. Polestar 2 Volvo’s electric sub-brand introduced its first pure EV in 2019, but customer deliveries won't begin until the middle of 2020 at the earliest. The Polestar 2 is a mid-sized saloon-cum-SUV priced from £49,900 incuding government plug-in grant, and promises 311 miles of WLTP-tested range. Limited to fully-loaded launch editions initially, with 402bhp from twin electric motors, it's yet to be revealed whether more attainable variants using one motor or a smaller battery will be introduced later down the line. Volkswagen ID 3 Designed and built as a pure electric car, the ID hatchback will be a crucial launch for VW. It will closely match the Golf hatchback in size, and the company is anticipating a price starting from £27,000 - or close to that of a Golf diesel, making it a more affordable EV than existing models. It will be built on the modular MEB platform, and offer a variety of battery options for a range of between 249 and 373 miles between charges. The final design largely remains true to the original concept, which was first revealed in 2016 and went on to inspire several other ID models, which are all due to launch over the next five years. Autumn 2020 BMW iX3 An electric version of BMW’s X3 SUV, the iX3 will arrive with a new four-wheel drive powertrain comprised of two electric motors - one for the front axle and another for the rear. It will closely resemble the petrol-powered X3, rather than take any design inspiration from the more radical i3 and i8, to become only the company’s second pure electric car. Each motor should develop around 270bhp from a 70kWh battery, and be capable of around 249 miles of WLTP-certified range. Ford Mustang Mach-E Ford's upcoming pony car caused controversy for several reasons. It will be the first electric car to wear the Mustang badge, and it has a crossover bodystyle. At launch, the range-topping version promises 332bhp and a 0-60 time in the mid 5-seconds, but a full GT model is expected at a later date with 459bhp and a sprint time in the threes. UK deliveries are scheduled for the third quarter of 2020, and while prices have yet to be made official, it is expected to cost from around £42,000 for an entry-level model, rising to over £60,000 for the top-end version. Maserati MC20 Having first been previewed as the Alfieri concept back in 2014, Maserati will finally reveal a prototype version of its first electric car alongside a major brand relaunch in September, after the 2020 Geneva motor show was cancelled. Expected in a range of powertrains, the final production car won't arrive until late 2021, but it will serve to highlight the brand's push towards electrification. Few specific details are known about the sports car, which is expected to also be made available as a plug-in hybrid. The EV could use a tri-motor, four-wheel drive system with torque vectoring and 800V battery technology. Tesla Model Y Revealed in March 2019, but not expected to go on sale in the US for at least eighteen months after and the UK even longer, the sister car to the Model 3 will arrive as a much-in-demand compact SUV with the option to add a third row - which could make it the go-to EV for large families. It share a platform and powertrain with the Model 3 saloon, which will hopefully speed up Tesla's ability to deliver cars on time. A more advanced version of the company’s ‘supercomputer’ semi-autonomous driving system is also predicted, as is a more potent Performance variant. Volvo XC40 Recharge The company’s very first electric vehicle, the XC40 Recharge is the first of what will quickly become an entire range of EV-adapted versions, rather than brand new ones built around batteries and electric motors. That means an electric XC90 will follow. Hardware will be shared with Polestar 2, which will arrive first, with customers having to wait until the tail-end of 2020 to see XC40 Recharge models on the roads. When it does, it will deliver 402bhp from twin electric motors, and promises 248 miles of range. Pricing was revealed at £53,000 - nudging the Recharge over the government's updated plug-in car grant maximum cost. Winter 2020 Audi Q4 e-tron The concept version of Audi's upcoming mainstream electric SUV was revealed at 2019's Geneva motor show, but a production version isn't set to arrive until 2020 as the firm's fifth electric model. It borrows styling from the e-tron, and will slot in beneath the Q5 in terms of size. It will use the VW Group's MEB platform, rather than the adapted MQ platform used by the larger e-tron. Twin motors will provide Quattro all-wheel drive and up to 302bhp - around 100bhp less than the full-size e-tron but 100 more than MEB-based hatchbacks like the VW ID. Pininfarina Battista Only 150 Battista hypercars are set to be produced, but with individual motors for each wheel producing a total 1900bhp, it promises to be powerful in the extreme. Lucky customers will see deliveries towards the end of 2020 from the design house-turned-manufacturer, which has partnered with Rimac for the underlying powertrain. Tesla Roadster A flagship sports car to replace the original, Lotus-based Roadster that announced Tesla to the world, the next-generation Roadster has been previewed extensively ahead of an official debut. Tesla claims a top speed in excess of 250mph, a 0-60mph time of 1.9 seconds, and a range of 620 miles thanks to a 200kWh battery pack - the biggest in a production EV. Prices are expected to start at around £189,000 for the first 1000 cars, which will be badged as Founders Edition models. Following that, prices should be around £151,000 when general sales begin in mid-2020. Rivian R1T A surprise announcement at 2018's Los Angeles motor show, despite the company behind it having been first formed in 2009, the Rivian R1T is a pick-up truck reimagined for an EV generation. It has clever packaging that makes the most of available space, while the underlying powertrain promises to deliver as much as 754bhp and a 0-60mph time of under three seconds. It is set to go into production in late 2020, which might be enough time to beat Tesla's upcoming pick-up to the punch. Spring 2021 Fiat 500 The new electric Fiat 500 shares much of its styling with the current petrol-powered model, but underneath it is entirely new, with a bespoke architecture, 117bhp electric motor and 42kWh lithium iojn battery pack. Range is quoted at 199 miles on the WLTP test cycle, giving it an edge over the Mini Electric and Honda E. Revealed online following the cancellation of the Geneva motor show in March, the electric Fiat 500 will go on sale in the first quarter of 2021. Prices will start from £29,500 at launch for a top-spec La Prima edition convertible, with hard-top models set to follow later. READ MORE Complete list of new cars in 2020 Top 10 best electric cars 2020 View the full article
  17. As Mazda plots the revival of its legendary rotary wankel motor, we try out one it made earlier If we had a pound for every time we had cause to write that Mazda was going to bring a new, rotary-engined sports car into production, we’d have, well, about six or seven quid. It has now been so long since it had a rotary car in its range – since anyone had a rotary car in their range – that it’s worth reminding yourself what one is like. We could have borrowed a recent car, perhaps an RX-8, but I like the purity of an earlier rotary. So we’ve opted to try the first of the RX-7s – or near to it. This is a late first-generation car, so post mid-life upgrades, but an original RX-7 in the scheme of things. Mechanically, it’s sound and, er, it’s ‘honest’ of body – brushed touch-ups here and there, but straight and solid. And cute. It’s not as dinky as you’d think for a car from 1983. It sold well in the US and they don’t do tiny cars, so at nearly 4.3 metres long it’s a touch longer even than today’s Toyota GT86. Like the Toyota, it’s a 2+2 (although American cars were two-seaters, hence the rear chairs are pretty hopeless), but the Mazda is much narrower than a car of today, at only 1675mm wide. That much is obvious when you slip inside the carpeted, veloured interior, whose colour and finish tell you quite a lot about when this car was built. Driver and passenger are seated fairly close, but it’s the proximity of the exterior and the glass area that show the car’s age – that make you think you probably don’t want to have an accident in it. The A-pillars are tiny, so visibility forwards is exceptional, as it is to the rear. The big glass rear hatch means that the entire rear-view mirror, bar a tiny amount of head-restraint intrusion at each corner, is given over to the view behind. No modern car gives you such a good outlook. There’s not much wrong with the driving position, either. The seat is a little higher than in today’s coupés and the steering column is not adjustable, but the pedals are well spaced and the steering wheel is a pleasing size. The whole thing, though, is starting to feel like a ‘classic’. At least, most of it is. But how about that engine? Throw open the bonnet and you get a good view of it. Mazda set it back behind the front axle, to give nigh on a 50/50 weight distribution, and it’s a two-rotor unit that runs on a carburettor rather than being fuel injected. Each chamber is diddy, at 573cc. That technically gives a capacity of 1146cc, but because a rotary completes an entire combustion cycle per revolution – whereas a reciprocating engine wants two revs per cycle – it has the equivalent of 2292cc. Back in the day, that was good for 105bhp and 105lb ft – not a huge amount, even though the kerb weight is 1024kg. But still, sprightly enough; Autocar tested the RX-7 at 120mph flat out and completed 0-60mph in 8.9sec when it was new, figures that each new generation made quicker as the power output grew. Today, though, it’s not the performance that’s startling but the engine’s smoothness – and the slickness of the gearshift. Quite often, today, low-powered manual cars have the sweetest gearshifts because the ’box doesn’t have to be so beefy to cope with the modest torque output. I don’t know if that’s what’s behind the RX-7’s shift, but it’s as good as anything currently on sale. It needs to be, too, because you’ll want to use it to exploit the engine to its fullest. It’s tractable enough at low revs, but this is a unit that likes to spin. Throttle response is crisp and it has a lovely, sonorous sound that is impossibly smooth. There’s no increase in harshness as revs rise and it gets no angrier and no more vibratey. It just hums, wasp-like, with a delicate, hollow rasp to the exhaust. While much of the RX-7 feels like a classic experience, the engine doesn’t. It’s no wonder there’s an audible warning from around 6000rpm that the 7000rpm redline is approaching. Keep the throttle pinned and the engine sails up to and indeed (because it has a carburettor, not electronic injection) beyond it if you don’t change up again. The rest of the RX-7 experience is more of its time. The steering is unassisted, so anything between 3.5 and four turns lock to lock, depending on how heftily you’re prepared to challenge its soft limits. And although, later in life, the RX-7 was – still is – popular with drifters, given the number of turns between locks, that’s something I’m disinclined to try with this one. Instead, the RX is best enjoyed in the classic coupé style. It rides on 185/70 R13 tyres and has a loping, docile ride quality that makes it an easy companion, and it steers naturally and rolls up to a modest cornering limit. It’ll hold a motorway cruise with ease and, as classics go, it’s remarkably usable and, from less than £5000, not expensive – if you can find one. Do so and you’ll have a car that feels at home enough in modern traffic conditions and has bags of mid-to-late 20th century character, but with an engine that feels every inch at home in the second decade of the 21st century. Now we’ve just got to hope that Mazda will assemble a car whose entirety is fit for today, and tomorrow. Start putting the pounds to one side. You never know when they might finally push the button. This article was first published on 27 October 2015. We're revisiting some of Autocar's most popular features to provide entertaining content during these difficult times.​ Read more Mazda RX-9 hopes boosted by new rotary-engine technology​ Why a buzzer in the Mazda RX-7 meant imminent doom​ The glorious history of rotary-engined Mazdas​ View the full article
  18. The Celica’s 1.8 VVTL-i engine, codenamed 2ZZ-GE, also powers versions of the Lotus Elise and Exige The Toyota Celica T Sport and GT had a variable valve timing engine that gave them a revvy nature that still appeals today. We find out more Even in 2005 when things like disproportionately large rear spoilers were all the rage, Autocar’s tester thought the then new Celica GT a bit OTT. “Buy one if you want to be looked at,” he wrote. However, he also said the model had sweet handling, a reasonable ride, a slick gearbox and, beyond 6000rpm, a great engine. The GT was based on the more restrained-looking T Sport and powered by the same 1.8 VVTL-i engine but with 188bhp. The letters stand for ‘variable valve timing and lift control with intelligence’, a variation on the standard car’s VVT-i system that increases the intake and exhaust lift between 6200rpm and the 8000rpm redline to boost power. It really works, although below 6250rpm the engine feels no livelier than the 143bhp VVT-i. For that reason, if you find a good VVT-i for a fair price, you should think twice about paying top dollar for a higher-mileage VVTL-i. For example, a tidy 2004 1.8 VVT-i with 67,000 miles and full history costs around £1950 from a dealer. The same money will buy a T Sport VVTL-i of about the same age but with at least twice the mileage. You can add another £1000 for a 1.8 VVTL-i GT. These two are expensive, but in their favour is relative scarcity and that screamer of an engine. Say what you like about the GT’s questionable aesthetics but it’s a future classic in the making. This seventh-generation Celica, or Celica T230 to use Toyota’s codename, was launched in the UK in 2000 in VVT-i form. It’s a compact 2+2 coupé with a low-slung driving position, light controls, crisp steering, a quick gearchange and sharp handling. It was regarded as one of the best-handling front-drive cars of its time, at least by some. The VVT-i is well equipped, having air-con, ABS, alloys and electric front windows. The optional Premium Pack added the leather and climate control that the more powerful T Sport VVTL-i, which arrived towards the end of 2000, had as standard. The facelift came in 2003, bringing improved brakes and trim as well as aerodynamic tweaks, albeit some of them of the Max Power variety. The GT landed in 2005, just 12 months before the Celica was dropped. Today, prices start from as little as £500 for a VVT-i with around 120,000 miles. The example we’ve seen is a 2004-reg but, in truth, and despite the facelift, condition is more important than year. Prices top out at around £5500 for the last VVTL-i GTs with around 80,000 miles. Being a Toyota, the Celica is a reliable thing, but there are one or two issues to watch for. They include, on the VVTL-i, sticky valve lifters, and on the VVT-i, excessive oil consumption. Elsewhere, check the condition and alignment of the front spoiler and for rust on the underside of the car and the rear subframe. Despite its noble lineage (the Celica GT-Four ST205 of the mid-1990s is sought after) the Celica T230 is a sleeper, but that only means it’s top value – for now. How to get one in your garage An expert's view Ishrat 'Ray' Rehman, Celica Collector: “I love the Celica GT for its quality, reliability and sporty character. You have to let the Yamaha-designed VVTL-i engine warm up before it will let you rev it to the full. A recurring problem is damaged chin spoilers, which careless drivers whack on speed humps. Prices are holding for the best cars with low mileage. I sold one with 30,000 miles for £5000 last year and now it’s advertised for £7000. It shows confidence in the model. Conversely, higher-mileage cars can hang around. I’ve had a 2006 VVTL-i with 83,000 miles on sale since Christmas without a bite. I’m sure it’ll go by spring.” Buyer beware... ■ Engine: All engines have timing chains. On the VVTL-i, over-revving or oil starvation can damage the oil pump. Check that from around 60deg C and at 6200rpm its cam lifters work. Pre-2003 facelift versions had weaker lift bolts that prevent the lifters operating properly. If the bolts aren’t broken, the problem may lie with blocked lift filters. Inspect the sump for corrosion and leaks. Check the oil level – the VVT-i can consume up to a litre every 600 miles. ■ Wheels and brakes: A humming from the rear could be a wheel bearing but you need to buy the complete hub at around £150. Branded wheel centre caps fade; the only source is eBay. Inspect the brake master cylinder for leaks and the disc’s inner faces for corrosion and pitting. ■ Body: The front lower lip can sag and may need to be refitted and reinforced. Surface corrosion underneath is common and treatable but a badly rusted rear subframe is an MOT fail. Make sure the bootlid struts haven’t failed. Check the spare wheel well for water ingress. Expect the headlights to have misted up at least slightly and the nose and bonnet to be chipped. ■ Interior: Worn seat stitching is common but repairable. Check you can switch off the traction control via the button to the right of the steering wheel. Make sure you have both ignition keys and that their casings aren’t cracked. Also worth knowing UK registered cars were manual only so an automatic will be a grey import. Not surprisingly, given the engine’s fondness for revving, such cars are rare, but if you’re tempted, check it conforms to UK regs. Rumours are that they’re not so well protected from rust but, generally speaking, Japanese imports arrive free of corrosion to begin with. How much to spend £500-£999: Early, high-mileage VVT-is with part service history. £1000-£1999: Tidier VVT-is still around 100,000 miles. Includes a 2003-reg with a full Toyota service history and 91,000 miles for £1945. £2000-£2999: Decent VVT-i cars below 100,000 miles including a 2003-reg with 35,000 miles and one owner for £2799. £3000-£5495: More VVTL-i cars with up to 100,000 miles but in good condition and with solid service histories, including a 2006-reg GT with 77,000 miles advertised for £5000. One we found Toyota Celica 1.8 VVT-i, 2004/04, 66k miles, £3850: Not the rarer and more powerful VVTL-i, but the VVT-i is as quick in the real world and this is a one-owner car with a full Toyota service history. Finished in Crystal Silver rather than the ubiquitous Thunder Grey, too. READ MORE New Toyota Aygo to be designed, developed and built in Europe New Toyota small SUV gets all-wheel drive and hybrid powertrain New Toyota GR Yaris: 257bhp hot hatch to cost £29,995 View the full article
  19. Plants absorb CO2 when growing which counteracts combustion emissions - at least, in theory Talk to just about any emissions expert in the car industry and they’ll all agree on one thing. The quickest way to reduce CO2 emissions across a national or even global fleet of vehicles is to switch to a ‘cleaner’ fuel such as petrol blended with ethanol (ethyl alcohol). Because the plant material used to make the ethanol absorbed CO2 when it was growing, the combustion of ethanol is carbon neutral. At least, that’s the theory. To be fully carbon neutral, so must the entire life cycle of the ethanol, including the growing of crops as a feedstock, harvesting, production and delivery. The UK is to switch from E5 (5% ethanol in petrol) to E10 (10%) and that may have an impact on drivers of old bangers. Higher concentrations of ethanol have been used in Europe and elsewhere since 2011, and in the UK new cars since 2011 have been compatible with it. The rule-of-thumb advice given by motoring organisations is that if a car was made in 2002 or earlier, steer clear of E10. Ethanol is hygroscopic (absorbs water from the atmosphere) and that can cause corrosion in the fuel system if fuel is left for long periods. But then, so is hydraulic brake fluid and we manage with that. Ethanol also has a corrosive effect on seals made of natural, neoprene or silicone rubber, but there are usually ethanol-proof alternatives available. In a 2009 study, classic car insurers Hagerty in the US found the effects of E10 on classic car fuel systems to be minimal. Like most other more sustainable fuels, including hydrogen, E10 hasn’t caught on in the UK until now. But according to the RAC, 17% of German drivers, 32% of French drivers and a whopping 63% of Finnish drivers fill up with it. E25 has been mandatory in Brazil since 2007, while E10 and E15 are available in other parts of the world. In the US, E85 is also on sale for flex-fuel vehicles with engines configured for the high concentration of ethanol. The use of food crops like wheat to make ethanol is controversial and, in global volumes, may not be feasible. But these are labelled ‘first-generation’ biofuels and the future is expected to lie with second-generation advanced ‘cellulosic’ biofuel made from plant and wood waste and pretty much anything that grows. Other alternatives to improving the emissions from liquid fuels include synthetic fuels. Audi has been collaborating with partners for several years on a research project to make e-benzin, which is said to be almost CO2 neutral. A synthetic e-diesel project has yielded production volumes of around 400,000 litres per year using sustainable hydroelectric power as the only energy source. Blending ethanol with petrol doesn’t make engines free of toxic emissions or help with air quality in urban areas in the same way as electric vehicles can. But it can help reduce CO2 emissions, so long as producing the stuff doesn’t emit almost as much greenhouse gas as it saves. A super-sub for Cobalt Cobalt, the scarce and controversial ingredient of lithium ion batteries, is also used in engines for things like turbocharger wastegates. Component supplier Tenneco has come up with a substitute: a new type of sintered steel that, it says, makes it possible to reduce the cobalt content of components significantly. Battery and EV manufacturers are also pushing to reduce the amount of cobalt used in cathodes to improve battery life and safety. READ MORE Under the skin: Fuel-saving predictive tech previews autonomy Under the skin: How next-gen tech is turning car cabins into speakers Under the skin: Koenigsegg's ingenious transmission solutions View the full article
  20. Jaguar sold 161,601 cars last year, much less than 2018 The British brand sold 10.6% less models than last year, but upcoming electric XJ, new J-Pace and refreshed F-Pace could inject new life According to Jaguar Land Rover’s latest official figures, Jaguar sold 161,601 cars globally last year and produced a further 6251 at its joint venture in China. That excluding-China figure is 10.6% down on 2018’s total of 180,833 cars, and 161,000 sales across six model lines remain a marginal proposition. The biggest loser was the XF, which fell 50% to 15,628 units in 2019. That was followed by the XE, which was down 15% to 25,951 units. Although it was on run-out, the XJ managed to clock up 4017 sales. Jaguar’s biggest seller was the F-Pace but, even so, that was down 14% from 56,563 units in 2018 to 48,484 last year. The E-Pace managed to edge up 2% to 42,939 units. Although 2019 was the first full sales year for the I-Pace, its sales of 17,355 were described by one of the suppliers for the car last month as “rather less” than had been planned for. Finally, F-Type sales slipped by 9% to 7227 units in 2019. Including the XJ, Jaguar sold 45,596 saloons and 108,778 SUVs in 2019, each across three model lines. The remaining was 7227 F-Type sports cars. Clearly, Jaguar remains a very small brand by global standards, but by the end of next year it will have the electric XJ, the new J-Pace flagship and a thoroughly refreshed F-Pace and E-Pace, all of which is significant investment. Perhaps there’s now a pause on decisions relating to the XE, XF and F-Type while bosses monitor a new-car market that’s in the middle of huge politically driven changes. READ MORE New Jaguar F-Pace facelift seen alongside current SUV 2020 Jaguar XJ: prototype previews electric saloon's design From ink to I-Pace: How Jaguar designs an electric car View the full article
  21. "The J-Pace will have a luxurious interior and avant-garde styling" New XJ, J-Pace SUV and ‘Road Rover’ will be fruits of £1 billion investment into Midlands plant as specialist electric production centre Jaguar Land Rover is set to establish itself as one of the world’s leading makers of electric vehicles by converting its historic Castle Bromwich plant into a specialist EV production centre. According to sources, three new pure-electric models will be rolling off the production lines by the end of next year to join the existing electric Jaguar I-Pace in showrooms. The move is part of a major £1 billion investment in both Castle Bromwich and JLR’s factory in Solihull. Both are set to be massively overhauled in preparation for the British manufacturer’s new Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA) platform. Despite relatively poor sales last year (the company sold 161,601 units, down 10% on the 2018), Jaguar is also getting a significant boost in the form of two new flagship models. JLR has already confirmed that the replacement for the Jaguar XJ luxury saloon will be a battery-electric model. However, it’s understood that Castle Bromwich will also produce two more vehicles, both crossovers. Land Rover’s upcoming ‘Road Rover’ will be sold as a pure EV, while the new Jaguar J-Pace flagship will also be built at the plant as an EV. All three new models are based on the MLA platform, which can be configured with three different types of drivetrain: battery-electric, plug-in hybrid and conventional internal combustion engine. Insiders say the I-Pace will continue to be built on its unique platform in Austria and have a “normal lifespan”. The MLA underpinnings will also be used for the next-generation Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, as well as the Discovery 6. It’s expected the majority of each of those models will be sold as plug-in hybrids as increasingly stringent global CO2 regulations continue to bite. The new XJ’s production design is expected to be unveiled towards the end of this year, before the first examples roll out of Castle Bromwich in spring 2021. Julian Thomson, Jaguar’s new director of design, revealed earlier this year that the car wouldn’t be benchmarked against established luxury saloons. He described it as a “fabulous-looking thing” while admitting the styling is unconventional. “It will be a beautiful car, with an engaging drive and luxurious interior… a cabin ambience that’s calm and refreshing,” he said, implying that Jaguar is planning on the electric XJ being more of a car for driving than being driven in. Rather less is known about the upcoming J-Pace and the Land Rover model known only by its ‘Road Rover’ nickname, which won’t be used in production. Both will be sold as EVs, so it’s expected that they will be in the mould of low-riding crossovers rather than conventionally bluff SUVs. With battery range all-important, smaller frontal areas will be a key element of these new-generation models. The J-Pace will be distinguished from the existing F-Pace (which will undergo a thorough facelift for the 2021 model year) by having a much more luxurious interior and more avant-garde styling, although it’s not expected to mirror the I-Pace too closely. It’s also understood that the J-Pace will eventually be available with a conventional internal combustion engine powertrain. However, this variant is more likely to be built at Solihull alongside its new Range Rover sister vehicles, which will also use the MLA structure. This ICE version of the J-Pace will benefit from a new range of hybrid options, including the straight-six petrol unit already seen in the facelifted Range Rover Sport. Given the success of the E-Pace and F-Pace, which easily outsell their XF and XE saloon siblings, the addition of the J-Pace family to the line-up will make Jaguar an SUV-led brand, reflecting Porsche and Volvo. While the new XJ is around the corner, well-placed sources say the future of the XE, XF and F-Type aren’t yet set in stone. The F-Type is said to be “quietly profitable” for the Jaguar brand, and the nameplate will live on, but the final form of its replacement hasn’t yet been signed off. It’s believed that the shape of the new F-Type is far from being decided. Even though Jaguar’s design studio is said to have some very strong ideas, sources say other departments within the company have other plans for the model. Jaguar sold 7227 examples of the F-Type globally last year. The 9% drop in sales that figure represents is nonetheless impressive for a car that was about to be facelifted, but part of the F-Type’s profitability comes from the fact that it was loosely based on the structure of the old XK, which reduced development costs. It’s unlikely that a sports car could be spun off the MLA platform, but a more bespoke architecture is possible for a small-run vehicle, as JLR has shown with the I-Pace and the new Land Rover Defender, both of which use structures that have been heavily modified from their base architectures. Perhaps of greater concern to Jaguar is the fate of the XE and XF. Despite a mid-life facelift, only around 3550 examples of the XE were sold in the US and around 8000 in the EU last year. The residual sales of 14,000 were partly in China and otherwise spread thinly across the rest of the world. Insiders say there have been discussions within Jaguar about replacing both the XE and XF with a crossover model of some description, but things haven’t advanced beyond that. With the SUV segment hitting 38% of overall sales in the EU last year, making it the region’s biggest single segment and well ahead of superminis (which took 19%), it’s unsurprising that another crossover model has appeared on Jaguar’s radar. In contrast, the executive car segment accounted for just 2.3% of sales in the EU last year. With the XE and XF’s current Castle Bromwich home set to be converted to all-EV production, uncertainty also surrounds where production will move to. A likely annual sales volume of around 40,000 leaves questions over the viability of continued production as JLR switches over to the MLA platform. Becoming fully electric is another option. READ MORE Jaguar Land Rover warns of global coronavirus impact The future of Jaguar Land Rover, according to CEO Ralf Speth Jaguar Land Rover opens giant Advanced Production Creation Centre View the full article
  22. "The J-Pace will have a luxurious interior and avant-garde styling" New XJ, J-Pace SUV and ‘Road Rover’ will be fruits of investment into Castle Bromwich plant as specialist electric production centre Jaguar Land Rover is set to establish itself as one of the world’s leading makers of electric vehicles by converting its historic Castle Bromwich plant into a specialist EV production centre. According to sources, three new pure-electric models will be rolling off the production lines by the end of next year to join the existing electric Jaguar I-Pace in showrooms. The move is part of a major £1 billion investment in both Castle Bromwich and JLR’s factory in Solihull. Both are set to be massively overhauled in preparation for the British manufacturer’s new Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA) platform. Despite relatively poor sales last year (the company sold 161,601 units, down 10% on the 2018), Jaguar is also getting a significant boost in the form of two new flagship models. JLR has already confirmed that the replacement for the Jaguar XJ luxury saloon will be a battery-electric model. However, it’s understood that Castle Bromwich will also produce two more vehicles, both crossovers. Land Rover’s upcoming ‘Road Rover’ will be sold as a pure EV, while the new Jaguar J-Pace flagship will also be built at the plant as an EV. All three new models are based on the MLA platform, which can be configured with three different types of drivetrain: battery-electric, plug-in hybrid and conventional internal combustion engine. Insiders say the I-Pace will continue to be built on its unique platform in Austria and have a “normal lifespan”. The MLA underpinnings will also be used for the next-generation Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, as well as the Discovery 6. It’s expected the majority of each of those models will be sold as plug-in hybrids as increasingly stringent global CO2 regulations continue to bite. The new XJ’s production design is expected to be unveiled towards the end of this year, before the first examples roll out of Castle Bromwich in spring 2021. Julian Thomson, Jaguar’s new director of design, revealed earlier this year that the car wouldn’t be benchmarked against established luxury saloons. He described it as a “fabulous-looking thing” while admitting the styling is unconventional. “It will be a beautiful car, with an engaging drive and luxurious interior… a cabin ambience that’s calm and refreshing,” he said, implying that Jaguar is planning on the electric XJ being more of a car for driving than being driven in. Rather less is known about the upcoming J-Pace and the Land Rover model known only by its ‘Road Rover’ nickname, which won’t be used in production. Both will be sold as EVs, so it’s expected that they will be in the mould of low-riding crossovers rather than conventionally bluff SUVs. With battery range all-important, smaller frontal areas will be a key element of these new-generation models. The J-Pace will be distinguished from the existing F-Pace (which will undergo a thorough facelift for the 2021 model year) by having a much more luxurious interior and more avant-garde styling, although it’s not expected to mirror the I-Pace too closely. It’s also understood that the J-Pace will eventually be available with a conventional internal combustion engine powertrain. However, this variant is more likely to be built at Solihull alongside its new Range Rover sister vehicles, which will also use the MLA structure. This ICE version of the J-Pace will benefit from a new range of hybrid options, including the straight-six petrol unit already seen in the facelifted Range Rover Sport. Given the success of the E-Pace and F-Pace, which easily outsell their XF and XE saloon siblings, the addition of the J-Pace family to the line-up will make Jaguar an SUV-led brand, reflecting Porsche and Volvo. While the new XJ is around the corner, well-placed sources say the future of the XE, XF and F-Type aren’t yet set in stone. The F-Type is said to be “quietly profitable” for the Jaguar brand, and the nameplate will live on, but the final form of its replacement hasn’t yet been signed off. It’s believed that the shape of the new F-Type is far from being decided. Even though Jaguar’s design studio is said to have some very strong ideas, sources say other departments within the company have other plans for the model. Jaguar sold 7227 examples of the F-Type globally last year. The 9% drop in sales that figure represents is nonetheless impressive for a car that was about to be facelifted, but part of the F-Type’s profitability comes from the fact that it was loosely based on the structure of the old XK, which reduced development costs. It’s unlikely that a sports car could be spun off the MLA platform, but a more bespoke architecture is possible for a small-run vehicle, as JLR has shown with the I-Pace and the new Land Rover Defender, both of which use structures that have been heavily modified from their base architectures. Perhaps of greater concern to Jaguar is the fate of the XE and XF. Despite a mid-life facelift, only around 3550 examples of the XE were sold in the US and around 8000 in the EU last year. The residual sales of 14,000 were partly in China and otherwise spread thinly across the rest of the world. Insiders say there have been discussions within Jaguar about replacing both the XE and XF with a crossover model of some description, but things haven’t advanced beyond that. With the SUV segment hitting 38% of overall sales in the EU last year, making it the region’s biggest single segment and well ahead of superminis (which took 19%), it’s unsurprising that another crossover model has appeared on Jaguar’s radar. In contrast, the executive car segment accounted for just 2.3% of sales in the EU last year. With the XE and XF’s current Castle Bromwich home set to be converted to all-EV production, uncertainty also surrounds where production will move to. A likely annual sales volume of around 40,000 leaves questions over the viability of continued production as JLR switches over to the MLA platform. Becoming fully electric is another option. READ MORE Jaguar Land Rover warns of global coronavirus impact The future of Jaguar Land Rover, according to CEO Ralf Speth Jaguar Land Rover opens giant Advanced Production Creation Centre View the full article
  23. As the manual gearbox enters its autumn years, we celebrate its finest hours by picking 10 of the greats where manual labour is a labour of love In the US, where everyone has a cause, it’s possible to buy a fairly complete wardrobe bearing the ‘Save the stick’ slogan. Stickers, too, are available to those who want to take up the cause. One wag came up with ‘Anti-theft device: this vehicle is equipped with a manual transmission’. It’s a gently amusing line with, perhaps, an unintentionally serious point. The car industry is phasing out the manual gearbox, often claiming it is helping drivers by removing distraction when actually the truth is that economies of scale and emissions legislation are reducing choice, and sports cars in particular are becoming so powerful that the average driver would probably ruin their car’s clutch or transmission faster than they could dial the number for the maker’s roadside assistance. And actually, setting aside the pleasure that is to be derived from driving a manual, operating one rather than letting an automatic do the work makes for a more attentive driver. All four limbs get involved in the physical act of driving, so there’s less temptation to handle a smartphone, more focus on the act of managing the machine and – assuming it’s a good gearbox – more pleasure to be had from perfecting all those upshifts, downshifts and heel-and-toe moments. Obviously, it’s almost too late to do anything about it. Electric cars spell the end for the stick shift. So if you want to continue to revel in the simple act of changing gear, set aside a car that will continue to offer you the interaction. Here are 10 that will get you engaged. Caterham Seven It’s hard to overstate what a transformation the six-speed gearbox made to the Seven when it was introduced in 1993. The close-ratio unit made the lightweight roadster even more invigorating to drive, keeping the sweet-revving Rover K-Series engine singing away at the top of its rev range, with barely any discernible let-up between each gear. It had, and still has, one of the shortest throws of any manual gearbox and remains the highlight of the range after nearly three decades of service. Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 The final version of the 997-generation 911 GT3 RS featured an engine block that was shared with the 911 RSR race car and was able to summon more than 490bhp from its four naturally aspirated litres. Happily, the extra power and wider spread of torque over the regular RS meant the tall gear ratios worked better, while the gearshift remained a delight. But with only 600 of them made, prices have shot up faster than the engine’s rev counter. They’re now around £400,000, compared with less than £130,000 when new. Honda S2000 With a 2.0 engine that could rev to 9000rpm and didn’t deliver all its torque until 7500rpm – beyond the rev limit of most of its contemporary rivals – Honda’s S2000 would have been nothing without a masterpiece of a gearbox. Happily, the six-speeder was a gem – one of the greatest of all time. Honda Civic Type R For two Hondas to feature in this list tells you all you need to know about the Japanese car maker’s pedigree when it comes to gearboxes. The current Civic Type R has the best gearchange of any hot hatch on sale today and is all the better for shunning the dual-clutch automatics of certain competitors. Audi R8 With its low-slung body gently enveloping the mid-engined aluminium monocoque and quattro four-wheel drive system, the original Audi R8 – designed by Frank Lamberty and Julian Hönig – is ageing far better than its angular successor. And there was something about the way the first R8 drove that made it feel less like a product of Audi (even Quattro GmbH) and more visceral, as though Porsche’s GT division had had a hand in its creation. It was a high point under the watch of Stephan Reil, former technical director at Audi’s sports car division. Both the V8 and V10 models were offered with a six-speed manual gearbox. And both gave a nod to Ferrari, with an aluminium gate celebrating the goodness of a stick shift. Mazda MX-5 Although the latest, fourth-generation MX-5 runs it close, the Mk1 MX-5 will always be the original and best when it comes to the drivetrain. To appreciate why, read what Autocar’s testers had to say in 1990: “The real ace up the MX-5’s sleeve is its gearbox. Rising no more than a couple of inches from the transmission tunnel, the well-weighted gearlever snaps through its tiny throws with millimetric precision. The whole driveline encourages you to drive as precisely as it operates. Co-ordinate the light, quick clutch with that rifle bolt of a gearchange and combine the two with the split-second reactions of the engine and you will be rewarded with a rare degree of driver satisfaction.” Peugeot 306 GTI-6 Somehow, the 306 GTi-6 never seemed to earn the acclaim it deserved. After all, in 1996, this was the first hot hatch to feature a six-speed gearbox, and with almost 170bhp, it was more powerful than most of its rivals. The close-ratio gearbox helped keep the 2.0-litre 16-valve engine on the boil – a good thing, too, as it liked to rev – and the steering feel and poise of the chassis could teach most modern hot hatches a thing or two. These days, you’ll need to source an example that has been well cared for, or it may prove a money pit. Ferrari F430 The F430 isn’t the very last road-going Ferrari to feature a manual gearbox, but it’s one of the last and most accessible for anyone considering ownership of their first Italian sports car. With the exposed aluminium gate standing proud on the leather-trimmed transmission tunnel and the drama of an alloy ball-topped lever, it represents decades of theatre from Italy’s greatest showmen. Ford Puma Is there anything more satisfying than sliding behind the wheel of an affordable small car, setting off down the road and finding yourself grinning from ear to ear within the first mile? Ford was at the top of its game when the Puma arrived in 1997. Led by Richard Parry-Jones, the firm’s engineering development chief, Ford effectively over-engineered its cars, investing in the ingredients that would make them feel good to drive. The Puma was a case in point: small, agile and perfectly happy to be taken by the scruff of the neck. The best examples had a zesty 1.7-litre Yamaha engine and a short-throw gearlever topped by an alloy cap. Land Rover Defender When it comes to a rough-and-ready, hands-on feel, you’d have to reach inside a gearbox to get a more mechanical sensation than changing gear in a Land Rover Defender. Unlike most cars on this list, which carry sporting pretensions, the Defender is all about unhurried shifts, an appreciation for the components at work and the hope that it won’t spring an oil leak out in the middle of nowhere. James Mills READ MORE Caterham Seven: old vs new Caterham Seven at 60: a time-warp road trip in the Seven Sprint Behind the wheel of the ultimate Caterham track car View the full article
  24. Zafira will be going to a different yard, but equally deathly What happens when a car eventually reaches the end of its life? We drive a Vauxhall Zafira to the crusher and wince at its last moments As an Autocar reader, you’ll understand how it felt to be the last person to turn off the Zafira’s engine for the final time. I thought of the countless occasions it had been turned off over the past 99,000 miles and 18 or so years but always with the certainty of being restarted. Turned off after taking the kids to the theme park, on holidays, to the shops, to Grandad and Grandma’s at the weekend. Turned off after the drive to work each day, to the airport from time to time and to the garage for routine, and not so routine, work. And now turned off for the very last time here at a vehicle recycling centre, where a car goes to be stripped, crushed and recycled but with no previous keepers present to pay tribute to its faithful service. Instead, that duty fell to me. I’d grown quite fond of it over the past 20 or so miles when, in the company of lensman Luc, I drove it from ASM Auto Recycling, which lent it to us, and coaxed it around south Oxfordshire, mindful of its engine and low fuel warning lights blazing away. It reminded me of the Y-reg Zafira 1.8 Comfort auto I’d owned years ago. That car was a faithful and much loved family chariot. My wife cried when, eventually, we part-exchanged it for a Zafira 2.2 Design auto. I cried, too, when, some years later, the 2.2’s timing chain tensioner failed to the tune of £2000. Back to today’s Zafira and Luc and I were looking for a graveyard. It’s was Luc’s idea. He thought the old Vauxhall framed by tombstones would make a great shot. Eventually, we found the perfect spot – a huge, 20,000-plot cemetery with good sight lines. It was in Cowley, a mile or so from the Mini plant. It being the first working day of a post-Brexit Britain, we tried not to read too much into their proximity… The Zafira was registered on Jersey plates so has had an MOT test only once in its life, when the island introduced it last year. That being so, the engine warning light could only have come on since. An oxygen sensor issue, perhaps? The car’s rumbly drop links – a Zafira/Astra weak spot – must have escaped the tester’s attention since the bushes had clearly perished years before. Otherwise, it bowled along without complaint, causing us to reflect yet again on the pleasures of banger ownership, at least until the thing goes pop and you wish, instead, you’d put down what it cost as a deposit on a PCP. Pics taken, I started the Zafira for the last time and we headed out of the graveyard to its final destination: ASM Auto Recycling, near Thame. ASM is one of the country’s busiest and most advanced vehicle recyclers, processing hundreds of end-of-life vehicles every week, auctioning write-offs to the repair industry and stripping, checking and reselling used parts to the trade and the public. On arrival, our first stop was the company’s prepping centre. Here, cars are cleared of personal effects and anything that might cause a fire. ASM’s prep team showed me a van whose floor was littered with spent nitrous-oxide cartridges… Less dangerous personal effects are bagged up and held for six months awaiting possible collection by their owners. They filled one wall of the prepping centre. Among them were child car seats and buggies. The Zafira’s personal effects extended only to a novelty strawberry dangling from the rear-view mirror, so the prep team waved it through to the next stage – but not under its own steam. Instead, a forklift approached it from the side, picked it up and carried it down the hall to Paul, who set about lowering its windows for the final time – “so the glass doesn’t explode when it’s grabbed outside” – and removing the fuel cap, wheels and battery. Behind him were bins full of wheel nuts, alternators, air-con compressors, space-saver spares and even jump leads, all harvested from scrapped vehicles. Now the Zafira was ready for its date with Simon, elsewhere in the prep centre, who attached its vitals to a large suction pump that drained them of all fluids. To empty the fuel tank, he perforated it with what looked like a large, hollow drill and the fuel was sucked out through a hose attached to its side. Finally, he tapped off the brake discs and the Zafira was ready for the crusher. Outside, a pair of mechanical grabbers, each controlled by a skilled operative, were flinging end-of-life cars around as if they were Corgi models they’d grown tired of. We watched, appalled, as our Zafira was offered to them. The first swooped on it, picked it up, dropped it and nudged it over. The car was by now almost unrecognisable and ready for the attentions of the second, which plunged its snout through the roof and ripped out the dashboard complete with trailing wiring loom. Then it turned the car over and tore off the back axle. Flipping the car around, it now spied the engine. Its pincers deftly snipped through the mountings and hoses and lifted it out, depositing it on a pile in the corner of the yard. The other grabber now took over, picking up the car by an A-pillar before raising its steel stabilisers and rolling over to the crusher into which it placed the Zafira’s battered carcass. The crusher’s huge doors closed and, 30 seconds later, opened to allow the grabber to retrieve the former MPV, now a tangled bale of compressed steel, seats and interior trim. During the course of a single day, this trio of mechanical manglers rips, tears and crushes its way through 125 cars. And that was our Zafira, reduced from a once-faithful family servant to a 6ft x 3ft metal cube. At least it was quick. Some end-of-lifers are given to the fire service to practise on. It doesn’t bear thinking about. Why we should use more dead cars as 'organ donors' As its name implies, ASM Auto Recycling doesn’t just crush cars: it recycles them, too. With the rest of the salvage industry, it’s encouraging insurers and garages to favour the parts it recovers (and inspects, tests and guarantees) from cars over new ones when repairing vehicles. Doing so would bring the UK into line with France, where the use of recycled parts is now mandatory, and the US, where the practice has been widespread for decades. The industry reckons increasing the use of recycled parts by 10% could save almost 190,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year produced from the manufacture of new parts and, if insurers can be persuaded to use them, help avoid write-offs and perhaps even lower the cost of insurance premiums and excesses. To encourage customers to make the switch, the Vehicle Recyclers’ Association, a trade body, is developing a certification scheme for vehicle recyclers to ensure greater consistency and reliability of service, including the quality and description of parts, and to allow buyers to distinguish professional sellers from ‘all the rest’. READ MORE Vauxhall launches new strategy aimed at promoting its 'Britishness' Next-gen Corsa will be all-electric, says Vauxhall boss Vauxhall to bring back VXR sub-brand as all-electric range View the full article
  25. Black and gold, green and yellow, red, white and gold – if it’s in the Lotus racing back catalogue, chances are you’ll find it in the Evija configurator A UK animations company has built a state-of-the-art simulation to help Lotus customers spec their ideal hypercar. We try it out I was about to write that you wouldn’t believe how good the computer-generated animations made by a small company called Realtime are – but the fact is you would. That’s the point of them. “Good CG is like a good sports referee,” says Paul McSweeney, Realtime’s client services director. “You don’t notice it. You have to believe it straight away.” Realtime is one of those small companies that keep the big industrial wheels turning, specialists whose name rarely gets attached to finished products because they supply, often confidentially, work that slips seamlessly into somebody else’s. Realtime’s work – CGI animation and visual effects predominantly for TV and film, gaming and the car industry – is so immersive that, having watched it online, I showed up to Realtime’s converted barns, surrounded by farmland, a few miles from Blackpool, and wondered if this could really be where it all happens. The banks of computers inside – big screens, gentle heat, lots of whirring – tell you it is. This is a place with a lot of processing and brain power. And if you’re not watching Realtime’s stuff on the BBC’s War of the Worlds or in games your kids know if you don’t (Grid, Everwild, Game of Thrones and Jurassic World franchises), and you happen to have two million quid to drop on a car, Realtime will help Lotus sell you one. Not that you’d know. Realtime has made the world’s most advanced car configurator but the idea is that a bod from Lotus shows up with a hugely powerful laptop – the sort that runs games with ease – to “a table, office, or wherever high-networth individuals hang out”, says Alan Holroyd, Lotus’s digital marketing manager, and talks them through specifying an Evija electric hypercar. The Evija is not the kind of car Lotus has made before. Not just because of the price, but also because its electric 1973bhp will make it the most powerful production car in the world when builds start in a few months. Between now and the last of 130 Evijas being constructed, perhaps half a dozen computers running Realtime’s configurator will tour the world. “The car should be configured in a convenient environment, almost definitely not a dealer environment,” says McSweeney. “It needed to be portable and touchscreen,” agrees Holroyd, “and show the Evija appropriately – and represent the technological leap.” It looks, on a high-resolution screen in front of me, like it does. The virtual Evija is sitting in a virtual studio, a digital recreation of Lotus’s own design studio in Hethel, Norfolk. “Why not go behind the secret curtain at Hethel?” says McSweeney. “This is the studio environment. But while every company will invest in a configurator, it shows one environment in most cases. We want to show how different a yellow can look in the desert, or in western Europe, or in a studio, so a customer doesn’t take delivery and say ‘this is not the colour I ordered’ – which does happen.” A couple of swipes of the screen, then, and the car is sitting next to some palm trees and sand with warm sunshine on it, while a couple more prods later, it’s in the sort of spot Autocar would shoot a car in the autumn – and its body colour looks a bit different each time. “The change between specifying a car in a studio and taking delivery of it can be quite dramatic,” says Tony Prosser, Realtime’s managing director. So while this stuff is all very fancy and impresses casual browsers like me, the fact is that it helps customers get the precise car they wanted. So does how comprehensive the configurator is, how much you can personalise on the car, and how easily. “Some configurators are too complicated – and that affects the bottom line of the company,” says McSweeney. The Evija is a doddle to use. You can open doors, extend wings, look inside and freely roam an environment so complex that even the shoulder of the tyre changes profile depending on whether you’ve chosen Pirelli P Zero or Trofeo rubber. And while most online configurators are pre-programmed 2D renderings, this one renders it in 3D as it goes. It uses – and this is where, dear reader, I tried to keep up but my limits were being challenged like a 386 processor running Doom (ask your dad) – Epic Games’ Unreal Engine (v4), which looks hyper-realistic to me. “The beauty of a game engine is that you can make changes very quickly,” says McSweeney. That gives it a use beyond showing it to customers, too: Lotus execs can look at different materials and colours and see if they fly. “It’s tremendous in that respect,” says Holroyd. “You can show anyone in the company, deliver all of the colours and all of the materials quickly. In a way, it competes with the live-action photo shoot.” Next to me, a photographer shuffles nervously. Evija: our specs Well. Where do you begin? “Where I might start is with some design editions,” says Alan Holroyd. Lotus, like Aston Martin and others, has a few base ideas to get people’s creative juices going. There are general themes such as Origin, Launch, Heritage, Formula, Cup Yellow and Neon, or designs with dual-colour highlights that replicate some of Lotus’s famous racing colours, and some it would rather you didn’t see yet. I go with yellow, subtle inside, with discreet wheel and brake caliper colour. Those and more can be changed – and little break-out boxes let customers write specific bespoke instructions, too. To be honest, I’d still be there now. READ MORE New Lotus Evija sold out for 2020 New V6 hybrid ‘Esprit’ to lead Lotus expansion plan Lotus Elan in frame as Boxster rival in revival plan View the full article
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