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Jeep has revealed details of a powerful plug-in hybrid version of the Renegade SUV, set to go on sale in June 2020. 

Revealing the Renegade PHEV in cutaway form, Jeep’s Head of Product Marketing Marco Pigozzi said the company intended for the new model ‘to sell in volume’ and, to that end, the Renegade PHEV would be priced ‘aggressively’.

The new car is substantially based on today’s Renegade, with the most major change being the addition of a 134bhp rear-mounted electric motor, mounted on a modified version of the AWD Renegade’s rear subframe. 

The battery - which will be good for an EV range of 31 miles at up to 81mph in ideal conditions - has been mounted in the floorpan’s centre tunnel and also takes up some space under the rear seat. The fuel tank - also under the rear seat - has been squeezed down to a capacity of 39-litres.

Under the bonnet, the 177bhp four-cylinder turbo petrol engine now drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic ‘box (in place of the standard nine-speed unit). The engine also gains a belt-activated generator, which recharges the battery when the car is braking or coasting. 

The car can run in pure EV mode with electric power sent to the rear wheels, in pure petrol mode with drive to the front wheels and as a petrol hybrid with the generator assisting the engine. In all-wheel drive mode, there’s a total of 237bhp shared between all four wheels, allowing it to achieve a 0-62mph time of around seven seconds. It will also be possible to put the battery on ‘hold’ so it can be used when arriving in city centres at the end of a journey.

Jeep is also promising a significant improvement in off-road ability because the rear electric motor offers a very precisely controlled 191 lb ft of torque that can be split between each rear wheel. There will also be a ‘TrailRated’ version of this Renegade that will be able to wade through water that's up to 60cm deep.

Pigozzi says that the intention was to create this plug-in version without compromising interior room and that no space has been lost in the rear cabin, while the boot floor did not need to be raised. The main change was the loss of 15 litres in the boot because some of the electronic control systems are mounted on the boot wall.

Interestingly, this PHEV only weighs 120kg more than the diesel Renegade, an important factory when considering high-speed economy. The Renegade PHEV will be launched in early 2020, with the electrified Compass due to follow that summer to coincide with its production switching from Mexico to Italy.



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News, 13 Dec 2019 16:40:58 +0000
Aston Martin confirms talks with potential investors Aston Martin badges Interest in British sports car firm is led by billionaire Lawrence Stroll but is also reported to have widened to investors in the Middle East, India and China

Aston Martin has confirmed it is in talks with potential investors in a statement to the stock exchange.

"The Company confirms that is reviewing its funding requirements and various funding options," the statement read. "It is also engaged in early stage discussions with potential strategic investors in relation to building longer term relationships which may or may not involve an equity investment. A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate."

The formal confirmation of talks comes after Autocar and first revealed interest in the firm from billionaire Lawrence Stroll last week. Earlier today the Financial Times also reported that investors - including rival car makers and firms based in the Middle East, India and China - were also interested in a stake in the firm.

Stroll, father of Formula 1 driver Lance and owner of the Racing Point F1 team, is estimated to be worth in excess of £2 billion, having made his money investing and building up brands including Pierre Cardin, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Asprey and Garrard.

He is also famed for his car collection, which is most notable for including what many regard as the most valuable collection of classic Ferraris in the world.

Both his business interests and car collection are reported to have given him the contacts to head a consortium looking to take control of Aston Martin, in the belief they can take advantage of its current low stock value and lower than expected sales prior to building the brand’s equity up again in future years, most notably by taking advantage of anticipated sales for the recently launched Aston Martin DBX SUV.  While pre-orders for the DBX are said to be exceeding expectations, deliveries do not begin until mid-2020.

Both the Racing Point F1 team and Aston Martin currently have bases at Silverstone, although Aston's headquarters are in Gaydon, Warwickshire.

Lawrence Stroll declined to comment on the report when contacted by

Aston’s share price is currently hovering at between £5 and £6 - up from a low of just above £4 but well down on its high of around £17. The majority of shares are currently held by the Kuwait-based Adeem/Primewagon group, while the Strategic European Investment Group, part of the Italian private equity group Investindustrial, currently holds around a one-third holding in the company. Mercedes parent Daimler also owns 4% of the firm - as well as supplying engines to the Racing Point F1 team owned by Stroll.

The firm has come under intense scrutiny since floating in 2018, with a valuation of around £5bn, and earlier this year had to issue a profit warning after substantially downgrading its sales forecasts in the face of slowing global demand for its products. In the first six months of 2019 it reported losses of nearly £80m.

Additional reporting by Dieter Rencken



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News, 13 Dec 2019 16:30:00 +0000
Mercedes EQA: 2020 electric crossover previewed in new image Mercedes EQA preview Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Kallenius previews upcoming all-electric compact model at launch of new GLA, ahead of full unveil next year

Mercedes-Benz's CEO officially confirmed earlier that a new entry-level EV, called the EQA, will be launched in 2020, and we've now got the best looks yet at its design. 

Speaking at the reveal of the second-generation GLA, boss Ola Källenius stood beside a preview image of the EQA, showing a bodystyle closely linked to that of the new crossover. "It's definitely a love child" he said, referencing the EV's resemblance to the GLA. 

Autocar first uncovered that the EQA would be a crossover, rather than a hatchback as originally expected, when a prototype was caught in an underground car park in Stuttgart, Germany, plugged into to an EV public charging unit. Since then, more electric prototypes have been spied undergoing winter testing with the same bodystyle.

The GLA makes a more suitable base than a hatchback for an all-electric model like the EQA because a higher roofline allows more space under the seats for battery cells to be housed without harming interior room. Mercedes' EQ EV division has also launched its first electric model, the EQC, as an SUV, with the GLB-based EQB soon to follow. 

Although the Concept EQA of the 2017 Frankfurt motor show was a three-door hatchback, a GLA-based production car could still take many of the show car's visual cues, including a blanked-off front grile and unique front fascia, along with bespoke front and rear lighting. 

Last year, Mercedes confirmed that it will build the EQA at its plant in Hambach, France, where the electric Smart models are currently made, following an investment of €500 million (about £438m).

The new entry point of the Mercedes EQ electric car sub-brand will go on sale in 2020. Set to offer a 249-mile range and be priced to directly rival the £34,075 BMW i3, the EQA will be part of a 10-car EQ line-up due in showrooms by 2022.

Before stepping down as Mercedes boss, Dieter Zetsche said: “The EQ line-up will cover different vehicles and one of them will be a compact car.”

Mercedes is pushing to enhance the productivity of its global plant network, with the Hambach site becoming specialised in EVs. This will help the brand to increase its EV production output without affecting the supply of petrol and diesel models.

Mercedes production chief Markus Schäfer said the Smart plant will grow to "become a part of our global compact car production network, with the lead plant in Rastatt, Germany". 

Britta Seeger, Mercedes sales and marketing boss, said: “This EQ will be the first Mercedes model ever built in France.”

Zetsche said last year that Mercedes's push for electrification is "gathering pace" and that "the EQA proves that we're serious about introducing electric mobility throughout the portfolio".

The starting point for the EQA is a new electric vehicle platform developed by Mercedes for use in all upcoming EQ models. Known internally by the codename EVA (electric vehicle architecture), it has been conceived to allow the new model to be built alongside Mercedes' conventional compact car models in the same factories that produce the A-Class, B-Class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake and GLA.

The flexible platform is planned to support either front-, rear- or four-wheel drive, with either one or two electric motors and a scalable battery mounted low down within its flat floor structure, operating on an 800V electrical system that can provide rapid charging.  


The Concept EQA holds clues to the final make-up of the production-spec model. As with the EQC concept, an illuminated black panel incorporating distinctively styled laser-fibre headlights is used up front, ensuring the Concept EQA instantly stands out from the existing range of compact Mercedes models.

The high-tech front end also acts as a virtual radiator grille. It is programmed to alter the appearance of the new car dependent on the driving mode. In Sport, it depicts what Mercedes describes as a flaming horizontal wing, with a blue hue extending out from an oversized three-pointed star emblem. In Sport Plus, the black panel changes its look to mimic the shape of the Panamericana grille of AMG models, complete with vertical louvres.

A similar black panel treatment is used at the rear, where it visually extends the depth of the rear window and serves to house the Concept EQA's full-width OLED tail-lights.

The blue hue of the grille is mirrored in a series of LED lights within the outer and lower sections of the front bumper, the side sills and rear bumper.

Conceptual in nature, the Concept EQA has a smooth aero-cheating look, including the loss of the windscreen wipers, the adoption of a remote opening function in place of conventional door handles and a darkened glass roof.

“With the Concept EQA, we have reinterpreted our design philosophy. We eliminated creases and lines. It is a bold statement for our EQ brand,” said Mercedes chief design officer Gorden Wagener.     

At 4285mm in length, 1810mm in width and 1428mm in height, the EQA concept is a scant 14mm shorter, 30mm wider and 6mm lower than the existing third-generation A-Class. It also uses a wheelbase that is 30mm longer than the entry-level Mercedes model at 2729mm.

Power for the second EQ concept car hails from a developmental driveline being readied for a range of EQ models. It uses two electric motors – one mounted up front underneath the bonnet and the other integrated within the rear axle assembly. The set-up, similar to that showcased on the EQC, delivers a combined 268bhp and more than 369lb ft of torque for a claimed 0-62mph time of “around 5.0sec”.

With a four-wheel drive system supporting variable torque distribution between the front and rear axles and a battery pack mounted low down within the floor structure, the concept suggests dynamic qualities for the production car that Mercedes has been quick to talk up, as well as hinting that it will offer different driving modes. In the Concept EQA, the driver can choose between Sport and Sport Plus to vary the torque distribution front to rear.  

The EQA has been conceived to run a 60kWh lithium ion battery to be produced by Mercedes sibling company Accumotive. It is claimed to endow the entry-level electric car with an overall range of “around 400km” (249 miles) and can be charged either via traditional plug-in or induction means, with officials claiming 10 minutes of charging is sufficient to produce an added 62 miles of range on a high-voltage system.    

Mercedes says its investment in US charging station provider ChargePoint will help its plans to roll out a range of EQ-branded models by allowing it to offer more charging solutions. At the unveiling of the Concept EQA, Mercedes announced plans to expand ChargePoint’s operations to Europe as part of efforts to expand the existing charging infrastructure.  

Related stories: 

New Mercedes EQB: electric compact SUV hits the road

New Mercedes GLA35 and GLA45 prototypes spotted

Mercedes-Benz GLC fuel-cell to enter production

News, 13 Dec 2019 14:40:00 +0000
Top 10 best super-luxury cars 2019 Rolls-Royce Phantom If money is no object, what's the very best limousine in the world? Here's our guide to the cream of the super-luxury crop

Autocar’s super-luxury chart takes in the best of the very best on four wheels: only the ultra-rare, ultra-expensive and ultra-luxurious get in.

Most of the contenders here are limousine saloons large enough to make the average three-bedroom semi-detached house look small, but one or two of the most demure and desirable SUVs in the world make the cut also.

If you want the very last word in opulence, sophistication, sense of occasion and conferred status from your choice of car, this is the niche you’ll be shopping in. There isn’t a car here that you can buy for less than a six-figure outlay, and one or two might even cost you seven figures. For regular super-luxury class clientele, after all, to be denied the opportunity to double the cost of your car in making it absolutely your own would be the ultimate turn-off. 

So, if you like the idea of being chauffeured around like Lord Sugar in a car special enough to make you feel ten feet tall and you can afford the very best life has to offer, well, lucky you. Here’s what your driver should be ordering.

Best super-luxury cars currently on sale

1. Rolls-Royce Phantom

The grandest and greatest luxury conveyance in motordom was replaced by Rolls-Royce in 2017 and given a glittering five-star road test welcome by our road testers shortly thereafter.

Owners will love it at least as much for the extravagant statement of wealth and status it endows and for the unmatched sense of occasion you enjoy when travelling in one. But, while many won’t ever know as much, the latest Phantom is also an utter joy and a rare pleasure to drive.

Its superbly comfortable and singularly isolating ride comfort can be sampled from the back seats, of course, and is like nothing else you’ll encounter in a car: gently loping and deliciously indulgent-feeling but also supremely quiet and smooth, despite Rolls-Royce's fitment of the latest run-flat tyre technology.

Yet the precision feel and perfect weight of the car’s large-rimmed steering wheel is remarkable, likewise the ease with which you can place such a huge car on the road; the tolerance it has for whatever rate of progress suits your trip; the supreme refinement and flexibility of its V12 engine; and the progressiveness of its throttle pedal on step-off.

Even though it’s a near three-tonne love song to splendid isolation, this car will accelerate from 0-100mph and from 30-70mph through the gears quicker than the last Ford Focus RS. The integrity of its engineering is simply breathtaking.

2. Bentley Flying Spur

Bentley’s four-door ‘Continental’-series limousine started off its modern life as the Continental Flying Spur in 2006, only dropping the nomenclative prefix that links it with Crewe’s current two-door GT with its biggest model overhaul yet in 2014

But the Flying Spur is now in its third generation – something that's not difficult to detect from the prouder, more muscular design, which borrows heavily from the most recent, attractive Continental GT coupe. Crewe's 'junior' saloon also benefits dramatically from a new platform, which was co-developed with Porsche and uses four-wheel steering and active anti-roll bars. It also better insulates the fantastically opulent cabin from the road, and provides the basis for genuinely good driving dynamics. Grip, balance and steering are all noticeable improved.

Of course, there is the same calling-card 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12, which makes 626bhp plus bottomless torque and fires the car to 62mph in comfortably less than four seconds and on to a top speed of more than 200mph. Versions of the Spur equipped with Bentley's lighter, more freely revving V8 and a six-cylinder hybrid powertrain are also due.

Never before has the Spur felt so complete, then, and so able to execute the role of supersonic, luxury drivers' car. And much of that is still down to the cabin. Even though it’s Bentley’s entry-level limousine, the Flying Spur offers an interior of genuinely luxurious ambience and feel, kitted out as it is with soft, beautifully stitched leathers, authentic, natural veneers, and eye-catching and tactile metal brightwork.

3. Mercedes-Maybach S650

The richest and most special car in what might be the most universally respected and admired limousine range in the world, the S650 is the modern standard-bearer for Daimler’s Maybach super-luxury brand.

To judge by appearances, you’d say it was at least as much S-Class as Maybach, and that’s the result of Daimler’s strategic decision, taken a few years ago, to broaden the reach of the Maybach marque by creating ‘halo’ Maybach models across some of its more normal Mercedes passenger car ranges. The ultra-rare, Simon Cowell-spec, Maybach-only 57 and 62 limousines were at the same time consigned to history.

And so that fact that this car is ‘only’ an S-Class may be at once its biggest strength and its key vulnerability. Compared to a Rolls-Royce or Bentley, an S-Class might not cut a lot of mustard for drool-worthy kerbside appeal; but being an S-Class also makes this car the recipient of the all those advanced active suspension and driver assistance technologies and helps to make it so brilliantly refined, rich and cosseting.

The S650's 621bhp, 737lb ft twin-turbocharged petrol V12 is barely audible, and its dedication to comfort and good manners is outstanding.

4. Bentley Mulsanne

A limousine that’s singularly aristocratic, whose presence announces itself from hundreds of yards away and whose agenda is all about serving the interests of the passenger first and the driver a definite second may sound appealing in theory. But if you suspect the reality of ownership of such a car might not appeal quite as much, don't worry, because the super-luxury class has something for you too: the Bentley Mulsanne.

Deliberately more modest and discreet in its appearance than a certain key British limousine rival, the Mulsanne is a top-level luxury four-door that’s grand with a small g. It feels less formal than the Rolls-Royce Phantom, and its interior ambience is more like that of the paneled smoking room of an old gentleman’s club than the Phantom’s chandeliered ballroom. The material quality, the lustre and natural appeal of its wood veneers and the tactile allure of so many of its fittings are second to none.

A good helping of driver appeal has always been part of this big Bentley’s motive character. And so while the Mulsanne doesn’t ride quite as serenely as some of its closest competition, it handles and responds with more vigour and verve, thanks not least to its torquey turbocharged petrol V8.

What results is a car that may not hit quite the same luxury high-notes as the very best cars in the class, but that you might end up using more often: not just for special occasions, but because it feels ready to enrich a wider range of journeys.

5. Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Goodwood’s Marmite addition to the super-luxury segment arrived in 2018, in response to a significant amount of Rolls-Royce customer feedback that a more daily-usable, all-surface-capable, family-practical model would be a very welcome way to augment the firm’s showroom range.

The Cullinan has been met by enough criticism of its design, from all quarters, to have set in aspic a sense that its maker has taken a significant risk in introducing a car that some have described as awkward and unlovely and others have slammed in even less sympathetic terms. But if Rolls-Royce's market research holds true, and a year’s worth of confirmed orders is a good sign that it will, the collective revulsion of those who wouldn’t have bought a Cullinan anyway will do little to prevent it from becoming a commercial success.

There is certainly as much to like about life onboard this car as there might be to dislike about either the idea or the appearance of it. This is a true Rolls-Royce, and among its dynamic strengths are outstanding mechanical refinement, unimpeachable ride comfort and excellent drivability.

Height-adjustable air suspension and BMW-derived four-wheel drive gives the Cullinan all the off-road capability that many owners are likely to require, and while towing capacity is currently capped at 2.6 tonnes, it’s due to increase to a more fulsome 3.5 tonnes before long. Which is probably enough for a speedboat considerably more expensive than the car.

6. Bentley Bentayga

The Bentayga has had an eventful passage through the Autocar road test evaluation process. Being the first in a barrage of £100,000-plus super-SUVs to come to market in 2016, we first rated it highly, with a caveat or two, in W12-engined form, and then rated it higher still when Bentley introduced an Audi-sourced 4.0-litre, 429bhp turbocharged diesel V8 in 2017, which made exactly as much torque as the twelve-cylinder petrol motor but at more accessible crankspeeds.

Then, in 2018, amid the spreading toxicity surround diesel engines, Bentley removed the Bentayga Diesel from sale in Europe, and with it removed from view what we considered the definitive version of the car. A V8 petrol model augmented the model range in the same year, while a plug-in hybrid arrived in 2019. There is now also the Speed – a 626bhp, £182,000 paean to excess.

The Bentayga’s wonderfully plush interior, its swell of torque-laden performance and its sense of imperious, singularly enveloping luxury make it stand out even in this class, and these qualities might even be potent enough to win over a cynic who started out opposed to the idea of life in a blue-blooded SUV.

It isn’t quite as comfortable-riding or isolating as the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, offering instead a slightly more sporting driving experience that comes at the expense of that final shade of ride comfort. But a shade is all the Bentayga gives up – an occasional suggestion of headtoss and the merest fidget of fussiness over certain lumps and bumps at speed. Even as a luxury car regular, there’s every chance that you simply wouldn’t know what you were missing.

7. Rolls-Royce Ghost

The Ghost was a line in the sand for Rolls-Royce when it appeared in 2009: the beginning of a transformation that took the company's annual production volume from hundreds of to several thousand cars per year.

Using mechanical underpinnings adapted from those of the BMW 7 Series, the Ghost made Rolls-Royce ownership more accessible – only slightly but significantly so. The management’s view now on the decision to use those BMW Group mechanicals may reasonably be imagined to differ somewhat from what it once was, since the next Ghost will move onto the same all-aluminium Rolls-Royce-only platform that the Phanton and Cullinan use.

While the Phantom is very much a car in which to be driven, the Ghost was intended as a car for the well-heeled driver, and its dynamic character reflects that. Slighter tauter-riding and more agile than the Phantom (partly by virtue of its more compact proportions), it lends itself more readily to the cut-and-thrust of daily motoring on traffic-clogged UK roads than its bigger brother.

In terms of interior space, luxury ambience and sheer material quality, the car is a rung below the Phantom, and perhaps not as clearly a cut above other large limousines as a result. Its rolling refinement, too, isn’t quite unmatched among cars of this ilk. But to admit either isn’t to dismiss this car’s impressive richness or esoteric charm.

8. Range Rover SVAutobiography

The top-rung, long-wheelbase Range Rover has come a long way as a luxury car since the genesis days of the famous SUV upon which it’s based. The modern SVAutobiography, hand-finished as it is by Land Rover at its Special Operations base near Coventry, is a car that’s now fully 5.2 metres long and 2.6 tonnes in weight at its heaviest. It was conceived to take full advantage of the embryonic market for super-expensive SUVs and the high regard some have for the Range Rover brand, and it does so quite effectively.

Offering a choice of a petrol V8, a diesel V8 or a four-cylinder petrol plug-in hybrid powertrain, the SVAutobiography is a strict four-seater with ‘lounge’ rear chairs, around each of which you can arrange a fold-out aluminium tray table, while a sliding panoramic sunroof contributes to the remarkable senses of light and space onboard. The interior materials are more tactile and expensive than those of the standard Range Rover, too.

Ride comfort and isolation both also represent a step up from that car, although neither is quite in the league of the most refined cars in this niche; some sharper edges seem to test the structural limits of the car’s underbody, thudding through the ride composure slightly.  

9. Rolls-Royce Dawn

The super-luxury four-seat convertible is a rare type of car indeed. Mercedes offers an open-top four-seat S-Class, while Bentley has had its Azure drop-top and now Continental GTC. But Rolls-Royce has, at times, offered more than one four-seater super-cabriolet within its model range over the last decade. And while the convertible version of the current-generation Phantom has yet to materialize, its equivalent from the smaller Ghost/Wraith model strata – the Dawn – remains very much a part of Goodwood’s model mix.

The company used uncharacteristically racey terms to describe this car when it was launched in 2016, billing it as “the sexiest Rolls-Royce ever built”. Whether you agree or not, there’s no denying the car’s blue-blooded credentials: it uses the same platform and 6.6-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V12 as the Wraith coupé, producing 563bhp and 575lb ft of torque, which is down from 624bhp in Wraith tune but still enough to eclipse the vitals of the earlier Phantom Drophead Coupé.

This doesn’t feel like a Wraith convertible to drive, and nor was it intended to. A soft-riding boulevardier at its best at a laid back, open-air cruise, the Dawn begins to feel its size and weight when you edge faster on a typical British A-road. It rolls and lolls more than the Wraith, thus urging you, in the most discreet of terms, that if your windswept back-seat passengers won’t thank you for slowing down a bit, the car’s contact patches certainly will.

Stick to what Goodwood described as a ‘social’ pace, however, and the Dawn’s isolation and comfort levels are very impressive indeed.

10. Mercedes-AMG S65 L

The mechanical make-up of the top-of-the-range performance version of the Mercedes S-Class limousine hasn’t changed much in more than a decade. Since this car has a leviathan of a twin-turbocharged petrol V12 that produces 621bhp and 738lb ft of torque, you could argue it hasn’t needed to.

It’s an engine capable of sending a two-and-a-quarter-tonne, 5.3-metre-long, rear-driven limousine from 0-62mph in just 4.2sec – and that’s before it’s really settled down, found its legs and got going, don’t forget.

And yet the S65 is still a proper luxury car, with uncompromising ride comfort and refinement, which is why it gets a mention at the foot of our super-luxury class rankings. It offers onboard comfort unknown to anything else of quite the same performance level, and its huge reserves of torque make it so effortlessly potent to drive that it’s hard to believe how little you need to do to make something so large travel so quickly.

The S65 isn’t a super-saloon, though, and it chassis much prefers smooth, wide roads to testing narrower ones, the latter giving its air suspension and stability control a lot to think about. Even so, when in its element, very few cars in existence manage to seem at once so naughty and so wonderfully nice as this. 

News, 13 Dec 2019 14:38:49 +0000
New Mazda 2: prices and specs revealed for redesigned supermini Mazda's Ford Fiesta rival gains design updates, more refinement and a mild hybrid engine option, and is on sale from £15,795

The Mazda 2 is being updated for 2020 to bring it into line with newer rivals, and it's available to order now with the first examples landing in dealers. 

The entry level SE-L model will cost £15,795, and includes rear parking sensors, 15in alloy wheels and climate control. As well a more powerful engine, SE-L Nav models and above gain the Mazda Connect navigation system, which is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and driver assistance features including brake assist and lane-keeping assist. SE-L Nav models start from £16,610.

For £17,310, Sport Nav models add 16in alloy wheels, a gloss black grille, rear privacy glass, chrome exhausts and keyless entry.

The top-rung GT Sport Nav models feature a reversing camera, leather seats, a head-up display, and heated front seats and steering wheel. Such models start from £18,110 for manual models, and £19,370 with an automatic gearbox.

The Japanese firm’s Ford Fiesta and Hyundai i20 rival will retain the 1.5-litre Skyactiv-G petrol engine, but is now boosted by a belt-integrated starter/generator on all manual models. It will be offered in two stages of tune, with a 74bhp version on entry level SE-L models, and a 89bhp powertrain for SE-L Nav, Sport Nav and GT Sport Nav trims. The manual versions produce 94-95g/km of CO2, depending on trim level, with a WLTP-certified combined fuel economy of 53.4mpg.

Mazda cites a number of tweaks to improve the handling of its supermini, including a new urethane top mount in the rear dampers, revised power steering and the introduction of a G-Vectoring Control Plus system, which subtly uses the brakes to aid cornering stability and smoothen your chosen line. 

The design changes include a revised grille with a new design closer to the Mazda 3, a wider wing, new bumper and revised LED headlights. Inside, the dashboard trim, air vents and other features have been tweaked, with new-shape seats designed to offer more comfort.

Mazda also claims the use of new damping materials and the reduction in the gap around the B-pillar reduce noise and improve refinement for those inside. 

Read more

Autocar's Mazda 2 review

Mazda's first electric car to debut at Tokyo motor show

Patents suggest Mazda developing 'RX-9' sports car 

News, 13 Dec 2019 14:30:04 +0000
Vauxhall begins testing Corsa-e electric customer rally car Vauxhall Corsa-e rally car sliding Sub-£46,000 hardcore Corsa-e Rally is first EV customer rally car, set to take part in one-make German race series

Vauxhall has begun testing a rally variant of the new Corsa-e electric hatchback, making it the first manufacturer to offer customers an electric rally car. 

Called the Corsa-e Rally, the model will be available to buy from sister-brand Opel's motorsport division, with the German manufacturer claiming a sub-£46,000 price tag. 

The cost represents a near-£20,000 increase over the £26,490 starting price of the standard Corsa-e, with the rally model retaining the 50kWh battery and 134bhp, 192lb ft electric motor of the production variant.

“We have two objectives”, said Opel Motorsport Director, Jörg Schrott. “Both cars are covering as many miles as possible, in order to gather the maximum amount of data at an early stage. There is no experience of an electric rally car that we could turn to, so initially we had to rely on calculations and simulations. 

"These are being gradually replaced with real data. Other focuses are on loads and temperature management of the battery, as well as adapting the software. I am pleased to report that our programme is going smoothly.”

Rally-spec suspension has been fitted and the body made slightly wider and higher, with a 2mm-longer wheelbase. Few technical details have been revealed, but it’s also expected to be significantly lighter than the standard car.

In terms of design, the Corsa-e Rally bears a strong resemblance to its production counterpart, differentiated only by FIA-mandated towing straps, lightweight performance alloy wheels and a prominent decal package.

The Corsa-e Rally will compete in the 2020 ADAC Opel e-Rally Cup, a one-make electric race series that will host 15 young rally drivers.

Read more

New Vauxhall Corsa: UK pricing and spec details announced

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2019: Best of the Rally stage​

World's most unlikely rally cars​

News, 13 Dec 2019 12:40:31 +0000
Range Rover Velar D180 2019 UK review Land Rover Range Rover Velar 2019 UK first drive review - hero front New entry-level Velar brings affordable four-cylinder motoring to Land Rover’s most road-focused model When the Velar first arrived, Land Rover pitched it as a luxury mid-size SUV, and priced it as such. The firm’s most road-focused model to date then steadily expanded towards the more affordable end of the price spectrum, with its engine losing a few cylinders in the process.The D180 is hardly the only four-pot car in its class right now, with the BMW X4, Mercedes-Benz GLE and even the entry-grade Porsche Macan offering the same, though the latter drinks from the green pump rather than the black one.JLR’s Ingenium diesel engine does need to move a little over two tonnes of car, though, and has just 177bhp with which to do it. That combination was never going to make for pulse-raising straight line figures, the Velar barely squeaking in under nine seconds for the 0-62mph dash, but a healthy 317lb ft of torque ought to make up for it in everyday use. It’s partnered with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, with power naturally being sent to both axles.The D180 is driven here in S guise, which improves on the standard specification with 19in alloy wheels, upgraded LED headlights, a powered tailgate, power folding door mirrors, a Meridian sound system, and Navigation Pro infotainment with traffic sign recognition. The R Dynamic trim then further butches up what is already a very handsome car, with metal paddle shifters and pedals adding some sporting flair inside the cabin.First Drive, 13 Dec 2019 09:51:21 +0000MG ZS EV MG ZS EV 2019 road test review - hero front Latest MG makes electric family motoring more affordable – but exactly how well? As noble causes go, in the automotive world there are few nobler than the goal of making “hightech, zero-emission cars available to all”, as MG’s UK head of sales, Daniel Gregorious, puts it.Of course, frequently do we hear twee comments, made to similar effect, leaving the mouths of industry executives – but with MG and Gregorious, there is a sense that not only is the sentiment genuine but also achievable. As a brand, MG Motor UK Limited re-emerged in 2009 under the ownership of state-owned Chinese manufacturing giant SAIC Motor and has recently introduced the 3 supermini and ZS crossover, both of which have defied outsider expectations and sold well.The key has been aggressive pricing, good practicality and reasonable equipment levels, all of which have meant owners are happy to turn a blind eye to lower-quality plastics and the lack of certain amenities found in more expensive rivals. Admittedly, this isn’t for everyone, but one couldn’t wish for a more transparent philosophy.Which is all well and good for conventional vehicles, but electric ones are famously expensive to produce, with the costs passed on to the customer. Alongside a meagre public charging infrastructure, it’s high prices that have above all else hindered uptake, but this is where the new ZS EV warrants attention.Available from £24,995 – or even as low as £21,995 with MG’s limited-time offer to nearly match the government’s £3500 grant for zero-emission cars – this crossover is by far the most affordable electric car in its class, and puts MG on a more pioneering footing than many expected. Indeed, by 2021, MG will have introduced two more electrified mainstream models and even an electric sports car. It’s an ambitious and exciting plan for a brand attempting to re-establish itself in the UK.However, in the here and now, there are questions about the ZS EV’s driving range, and to achieve a road-test recommendation, it will need to offer its owner satisfaction beyond being cheap to buy and run. Could this prove a seminal model for the reincarnated British marque? Let’s find out.The MG ZS range at a glanceEven after the government’s plug-in car grant, there’s a sizable and conspicuous jump in price between the combustion-engined models and the electric version. Unsurprisingly, the latter comes in upper-middle and top-spec equipment levels only, the EV adding roof bars, leather-effect heated seats and some active safety kit.Price £26,995 (after £3500 government grant) Power 141bhp Torque 260lb ft 0-60mph 8.9sec 30-70mph in fourth na Fuel economy 2.7mpkWh CO2 emissions 0g/km 70-0mph 62.7m Car review, 13 Dec 2019 09:01:23 +0000Porsche and Lucasfilm create one-off Star Wars spaceship Porsche Star Wars spacecraft - front Stuttgart teams up with movie giant to design a fantasy fighter with sports car-derived design cues

Porsche has teamed up with Star Wars producer Lucasfilm to create a one-off spacecraft to promote the next instalment in the space-themed film franchise. 

Named Tri-Wing S-91 x Pegasus Starfighter, the starship will be presented as a five-foot-long scale model at the premiere of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on 16 December. 

The design process was undertaken by members of Porsche’s Weissach-based studio in conjunction with their counterparts at Lucasfilms San Francisco HQ. The result is an aircraft that bears a strong resemblance to iconic vehicles from the Star Wars franchise, while displaying a number of elements inspired by Porsche models. 

The vehicle’s front end references that of the new Taycan EV, with horizontally aligned headlight clusters that are flanked by prominent air intakes, while at the rear a 911-style louvred panel contains a centrally mounted third brake light. The brand’s trademark rear light bar also features. 

Inside, low-mounted sports seats are modelled on those in the 918 Spyder hypercar, while the instrument panel is said to be ‘clearly aligned with the driver’s axis’. 

Michael Mauer, Vice President of Porsche’s styling department, said: “The design of the spaceship is harmoniously integrated into the Star Wars film world, while at the same time demonstrating clear analogies with the characteristic Porsche styling and proportions.

“The basic shape of the cabin, which tapers towards the rear, and a highly distinctive topography from the cockpit flyline to the turbines establish visual parallels with the iconic design of the 911 and the Taycan.”

Porsche will look to emphasise the design link between the fictional aircraft and its new Taycan production model by displaying the two side-by-side at the Star Wars premiere later this month. 

Read more 

Porsche Taycan 4S 2020 review

Porsche 918 Spyder 2013-2015 review

Nissan showcases six Star Wars-themed concept cars​

News, 13 Dec 2019 08:00:00 +0000
Nio nets key Mobileye autonomous tech deal, but still needs cash Nio cars Chinese EV start-up is poised to make a car with level four autonomous technology from Israeli tech giant. However, funding is currently still a major obstacle

Chinese EV start-up Nio has secured a key deal to build an advanced self-driving car using technology developed by Intel’s Mobileye division – but the firm is still searching for new funding to meet its ambitious growth plans.

Nio, which currently offers a range of electric SUVs in China, has agreed to construct a new car featuring level four autonomous systems – which allow for hands-off driving – designed by Mobileye. The Israeli firm, which tech giant Intel bought for £11.8 billion in 2017, has developed a range of sensors, radar and software systems for self-driving cars.

Nio wants to use the Mobileye system in its next-generation battery-electric vehicle platform and has begun initial engineering work on the project – with crash simulation work being undertaken at Nio’s Oxford engineering centre.

But the firm is unlikely to be able to begin detailed design work and production engineering until it has secured new funding. Nio, founded in 2014 by Chinese entrepreneur William Li, is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In the run-up to flotation in mid-2018, Nio lost £385 million, and after a recall hit sales of the ES6 and ES8 SUVs this summer, it recorded a further £355m loss.

Its share price has fallen sharply this year – although it rose after the Mobileye deal was announced. A refinancing package earlier this year raised £154m in extra funding.

Speaking exclusively to Autocar, Nio’s Europe boss, Hui Zhang, said: “We definitely need more finance and we are still working on the new fundraising.”

Zhang believes the new platform – called NP 2.0 – could be key in securing Nio’s future. Although there are no specific technical details, it is set to feature motors, a battery pack and power electronics that are more efficient than those of the existing NP 1.0 architecture, along with Mobileye’s system.

Zang said: “The focus is on an advanced electrical powertrain system and ADAS [advanced driver assistance systems] and the motor will be definitely different.”

Although Zhang won’t commit to a launch date for the new NP 2.0 platform, it is likely to arrive around 2023/24, based on the 36-month development cycle of Nio’s first platform – but that date depends on the firm securing investment.

Nio’s financial problems led to it delaying the launch of the ET7 saloon, a Tesla Model S rival, that it showcased at the Shanghai motor show earlier this year.

The NP 1.0 platform features an induction motor on the rear axle and a more conventional electric motor at the front. It is likely to be used for a model Nio is planning to unveil in December. The model is likely to be a smaller SUV or a coupé version of the ES6.

If funding can be found, Zhang said Nio still has ambitions to expand to the UK and mainland Europe. He said: “We are working internally on market and execution strategies for the start of sales but it might be before the arrival of the new platform.”

Nio is expected to initially focus on countries where it believes buyers will pay a premium price – likely to be around £50,000 – for the ES6 and ES8. “You have wealthy customers in the UK, Germany, Austria and Switzerland who can afford our cars and are ready to go green,” said Zhang.

He added that Nio’s plans for Europe would be based on using contract manufacturing. In China, its cars are assembled by state-owned JAC at a bespoke Nio facility.


Bringing premium EVs to China: Behind the scenes at Nio 

Nio ET Preview hints at 2021 electric saloon 

New Nio ES6 unveiled: £41,000 electric rival to the Audi Q5

News, 13 Dec 2019 06:01:22 +0000
Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 13 December For just £4750 you could be riding high and spraying dirt in a mighty Toyota Landcruiser

Our round-up of 4x4s prepared for whatever winter can throw at them kicks off with this leggy Landcruiser. The 2004-reg motor has done 203,000 miles but it comes direct from its first owner and has a full service history. The timing belts were replaced at 119,000 miles (the official interval is 100,000) and the turbocharger three years ago. It got a new alternator last year.

So it’s worth a look, along with the other five or so 4x4s that experts say you should also check out. The thing is they know an old ’cruiser can be trouble, but to misty-eyed enthusiasts, the model can do no wrong.

If only that were true. For example, we’ve deliberately sought out a 2004-reg because this and earlier J120s – Toyota’s codename for this generation of 2003-09 Landcruiser – avoided the copper injector seal problems that blighted later models.

Corrosion can be an issue at all ages. The sills and floorpan fare worst but even brake lines can rust through. It’s a heavy vehicle so expect the suspension and steering bushes to be showing signs of strain.

Then there’s the combined engine and gearbox radiators, which can break down, allowing their fluids to mix, and on top-spec LC5 models, the possibility of the high-tech heater controls failing. Go for an LC4: it’s much more straightforward.

It all makes pretty grim reading but it’s best you know so you can avoid the worst and buy the best. Do that and you’ll be very pleased with your big ’cruiser. A cavernous cabin, tough ladder-frame chassis, diffs galore (the LC4 has hill-start assist control at the rear instead) and even air suspension on the LC5: it’s all here.

Mercedes-Benz GE300 3dr, £14,495: You could argue it’s all about the image with these old G-Class motors but let’s not forget their ancestor (the G-Wagen) was conceived as a military vehicle and it passed its toughness and ability on to all its descendants, including this 150k-mile, 1991 example.

Ssangyong Musso 2.9 TD GL, £1995: The Musso is, let’s face it, an ugly old thing, but under its bonnet is a bombproof 2.9-litre Mercedes diesel engine. It has off-road chops, too, being a Pharaohs Rally winner. This 2005 one has done 114,000 miles. Its kit includes alloy wheels and air-con.

Suzuki Jimny 1.3 JLX, £2390: Suzuki’s miniature 4x4 is a likeable, characterful motor and capable in challenging conditions. Our pick is a 2005-reg with 112,000 miles and full Suzuki service history. It’s the tin-top model. Don't buy the soft-top, which is cheaper but not as tough.

Ural-4320 6x6 diesel, £10,000: It’s hard to imagine getting stuck in this six-wheel-drive leviathan with locking diffs, but if you do, its seller is mid-way through fitting a sink, lavvy and bed. The diesel is rarer than the petrol and more economical and this one has done only 11,000 miles.

Auction watch

Vauxhall Cavalier SRI 130 5dr: In days of old, when reps were bold, they voted for a Cavalier SRi. Its 2.0-litre motor produced 128bhp, not much compared with today’s 1.0-litre three pots but respectable enough. In any case, the natty SRi graphic on the doors must have been worth another couple of horses.

What’s more, being front-wheel drive, it felt much more secure than its arch rival, the rear-drive Cortina, which not only bounced up and down but could also shimmy from side to side.

SRis are rare now but some lucky soul bagged this 1987-reg one with 79,000 miles for £2862 at auction.

Future classic

Audi TT 3.2 TFSI S tronic quattro, £4450: With the current TT likely to be the last, now might be a good time to snare a collectable example of one of its forebears before people get wind. The Mk2 3.2 TFSI S tronic of 2006 springs to mind. There’s power aplenty here – 247bhp plus 235lb ft torque – for 0-62mph in 5.7sec. Wider front and rear tracks mean it’s more stable than the Mk1 and a good one should feel taut and composed in corners. Our find is a 2006-reg with 94,000 miles but full Audi service history.

Clash of the classifieds

Brief: Find me the best-sounding car you can for £5000, please.

Alfa Romeo Brera 3.2 V6, £4532

Ford Focus ST, £4250

Max Adams: The tone of an engine is such a subjective matter, but we can all agree that the Italians know a thing or two about making a car sound great, which is why I’ve plumped for this Alfa Romeo Brera. Its 3.2-litre V6 is a mechanical tenor that’ll have you reaching for the window switches while you floor it through every tunnel.

Mark Pearson: The trouble with a car making a noise, whether it be a sonorous or purposeful or characterful one, is that when all is said and done, it is just a noise. However, I like a large-bore exhaust and this modded five-cylinder Focus ST looks eager enough for under £5k. It has 300bhp, too. Apparently, it burbles, backfires, pops and bangs, so enough to keep even the oldest adolescent happy.

MA: Some might prefer an engine with range, which my naturally aspirated Brera fortunately has. Your forced-induction Focus is a tad flat off boost, whereas mine will pull cleanly from a basso rumble and crescendo to a stunning 6700rpm climax.

MP: I’m afraid I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about. Have you been drinking?

MA: A crisp Italian wine, if you must know. Far better than your can of Stella.

MP: John, you’re a musical man. Sort this out…

Verdict: Brera – the Pavarotti of motors.


Toyota Corolla goes hybrid-only for 2020

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Toyota and Suzuki confirm details of new 'Alliance'

News, 13 Dec 2019 06:01:22 +0000
Opinion: Don't let Lando Norris's cheery exterior fool you... Sainz and Norris
Superstar-in-waiting Lando Norris, alongside teammate Carlos Sainz
... the young racer is a steely competitor as any, boding good things for British Formula 1

Lando Norris was mature enough to let Carlos Sainz (on a softer tyre) straight past him in the Brazilian GP, ultimately facilitating the Spaniard’s first F1 podium at the 101st time of asking.

That Interlagos podium was F1’s youngest yet, with Verstappen, Gasly and Sainz having an average age of 23 years, eight months and 23 days. Further evidence the next gen is truly on the way.

When Vettel won his first GP, at Monza in 2008, the average age of that podium (Vettel, Heikki Kovalainen and Kubica) was 23 years, 11 months and 15 days.

But don’t let Norris’s bonhomie mask his competitive nature. On the slowdown lap, his engineer, Will Joseph, came on the radio: “What you did with Carlos was massively helpful. And that’s noted from us all here.”

“Yes…” Norris replied, “but I mean… I don’t do it out of choice, I do it because I’m shit slow!”

Joseph: “Mate, you’re not shit slow. The hard is just a really tough tyre…” Confirmed, incidentally, by Leclerc, Bottas and Nico Hülkenberg.

As Nico Rosberg said, whenever Hamilton does hang up his helmet, British F1 interests are in good hands.

Timing is everything

I remember Jackie Stewart telling me a lot of years ago that the average Mercedes buyer was in God’s waiting room. F1, he said, would help build a younger customer base. But with six double championships, will Mercedes board chairman Ola Källenius feel that the only way is down? Or will he think that the marketing benefits are as valid as ever?

Renault interim CEO Clotilde Delbos, meanwhile, has said that with former CEO Carlos Ghosn’s ‘Drive the Future’ strategy under the microscope, everything is up for review, including the F1 programme. Not the best time to be struggling to hold off Toro Rosso in the constructors’ championship…

Honda, meanwhile, is only committed to F1 until the end of 2021 and has yet to clarify what it will do beyond that season. What better timing, then, for Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko to be flying to Japan, on the back of Honda’s first F1 one-two since the Japanese GP of 1991?


How Lando Norris became Britain's youngest-ever F1 star

New power generation: The young drivers making their mark on motorsport

Why Lewis Hamilton's greatness transcends just stats

Opinion, 13 Dec 2019 00:01:23 +0000
Matt Prior: The SUV is no fad... just so long as we don't fix our backs
The shape of things to come... until our back pains go away
With their smooth rides and higher seating positions, SUVs' ease of use means they're going to be around for a while

I had been thinking that it was just a trend. A protracted, rather strong trend, but a trend nonetheless. But now I’m not so sure. Like them or not – and I like some – SUVs, CUVs, crossovers, 4x4s, whatever, might just be here to stay. Certainly, there’s no sign of the increase in SUV sales letting up at the moment. Perhaps the ‘after-SUV’ won’t come after all.

Only recently we've had a first drive of the Peugeot 2008, including the e-2008, and a full road test of the MG ZS EV. Next week… well, next week’s road test is the Christmas special, so a very different kind of sport utility vehicle. In the weeks after that, though, there will be yet more. But peak high-peaked cars? We’re certainly not over it.

And yet, just 18 months ago, Peugeot CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato told us Peugeot was “trying to invent the after-SUV”. Now, at the launch of the 2008 SUV, he said he thought otherwise. Now that might be because last time around he was talking during the launch of the 508 – as pragmatic a family saloon and estate as you’ll never see – and this week it was at the launch of a compact crossover, but I don’t think so.

“I think [demand] will remain at this level,” Imparato says. But what of crossovers being heavier and having larger frontal areas, meaning they’re less efficient than lower cars and there being ever-stricter CO2 limits? That doesn’t matter so much, “because at the same time [as building more SUVs] we are electrifying the segment. So you don’t have to face the SUV-bashing”.

It could be that customer acceptance of electrification has shifted more quickly than Peugeot anticipated. Yes, the physics still count, and for the same battery size, an electric 208 supermini will travel 15 miles further than a 2008 crossover, but when both have zero tailpipe emissions, what does that matter?

“If you are doing your job properly, the EV version of your car will give the SUV segment the weapons to be, in the future, one of the most important segments in Europe. Outside, I don’t know. But in Europe it will be important,” Imparato says.

Clearly it isn’t just Europe. Last month, the International Energy Agency reported that there were more than 200 million SUVs in the world today, up from 35 million in 2010. They account for 40% of all cars sold at the moment, whereas that figure was less than 20% a decade ago. SUVs are responsible for all of the 3.3 million-barrels-a-day growth in oil demand for passengers cars over the past eight years.

For a car maker, the appeal is clear: SUVs generate higher profits because they’re more expensive to buy, but customers can afford them because they retain their value better so are barely more expensive every month.

For the customer, the appeal is clear too: tall cars on higher-profile tyres, like some SUVs and crossovers have, ride bad roads more easily, while a higher seating position is easier to slide our aching bodies out of, and they feel secure. And, soon, so many of them will emit no tailpipe emissions there’ll be no shame in owning one. So maybe we won’t reach peak SUV until we fix some potholes and get more chiropractic.


Peugeot opens UK order books for new 208 and e-208

Peugeot to make Le Mans return with new hypercar

New Peugeot 208 falls short of maximum Euro NCAP score

Opinion, 13 Dec 2019 00:01:23 +0000
VW to build range of hot electric GTX models VW GTX render
Autocar's impression of how the ID 5 GTX could look
Production Crozz slated to be among performance ID cars to wear new badge, complementing GTI and GTE

Volkswagen is set to use the GTX name on a range of electric-powered ID performance models, high-ranking sources at the German car maker have confirmed to Autocar.

The new nomenclature, already trademarked by Volkswagen, has been chosen for a number of ID models, including a production version of the Crozz coupé, which is likely to take the name ID 5 GTX in its most powerful guise.

The GTX title follows tradition at Volkswagen, which also uses the GTI, GTD and GTE names on performance-oriented petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid models respectively.

Volkswagen won’t confirm when the first GTX model is planned for launch, though Autocar has been told that development of a performance version of the ID 5 is ongoing at the company’s Braunschweig R&D centre in Germany and likely to be unveiled by early 2021.

As with existing GTI, GTD and GTE models, the GTX range will be differentiated from their standard ID siblings by a number of exterior and interior styling upgrades that aim to provide them with a more sporting flavour.

Further changes will be focused on electric drivelines. The X in the GTX name is claimed to denote four-wheel drive, suggesting upcoming performance-oriented ID models could use a twin-motor set-up, one motor powering the front wheels and a second the rear wheels.

The fastest ID powertrain currently detailed is the 201bhp version of the ID 3. Given that it makes its power from one rear-mounted motor, a GTX should gain a significant boost.

Although new to Volkswagen, the GTX name has been used regularly by General Motors and its subsidiaries, mainly on futuristic concept cars.

Volkswagen is also considering a hotter range of ID models under its R Performance arm.


Volkswagen ID 3: electric Nissan Leaf rival to be revealed today

Volkswagen ID 4: 2020 electric SUV shown in disguised form

Volkswagen ID Space Vizzion confirmed for 2021 production

News, 13 Dec 2019 00:01:23 +0000
Porsche Cayman GT4 v Renault Megane RS Trophy R review - which is fastest? Porsche Cayman GT4 vs Renault Megane RS Trophy-R Can a hatchback ever compete with a pure sports car? The Nurburgring record-breaking Megane RS Trophy-R stands a better chance than most

Today, we review the Porsche Cayman GT4 and the Renault Megane RS Trophy R. Matt Prior and James Disdale take both cars to Anglesey race circuit for a track test to find out which is quicker: the Porsche pure sports car or the Renault hot hatchback.

The 2019 Cayman GT4 picks up where the old GT4 left-off, with a 4.0-litre naturally aspirated flat six engine rather than the four-cylinder turbo of standard Caymans.

The 2019 Megane Trophy R also does what its predecessors did: it's a front-wheel drive master, with a powerful 2.0-litre four cylinder engine, no back seats and is so fast that it's the front-wheel drive Nurburgring lap record holder.

Join us, then, as we find out whether the Cayman GT4 or Megane Trophy R is quicker.


Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 review

Long read: What is the future of driving for fun?

Renault Megane RS Trophy-R review

Video, 12 Dec 2019 15:02:55 +0000
Top 10 Best Electric Cars 2019 Kia e-Niro - top 10 electric cars 2019 We run down the very best affordable electric city cars, superminis and famliy hatchbacks on sale in Britain today

Electric cars are more popular today than they have ever been. And why wouldn’t they be? An electric vehicle (EV) lets you travel in silence and produces zero emissions. You don't have to pay road tax, London dwellers don’t need to worry about the Congestion Charge, and the government will even give you a grant to buy one.

As the range between top-ups increases and the charging infrastructure improves, an EV is already a viable alternative to petrol- or diesel-fuelled models for a significant portion of British drivers. However, the EV market is still very much in its infancy, and choice is proving slow to grow.

Having first appeared around ten years ago, the market’s first EVs were cars with around 80 miles of usable range, priced at a 50 per cent premium over their petrol-fuelled counterparts. Today, in many cases, real-world range has more than doubled and that price premium has almost disappeared.

This is a list of our top ten affordable electric cars compiled considering factors such as range and usability, driving dynamics and value for money. Some are still subject to relatively high prices compared to combustion-engined cars, but their premiums can be offset against lower running costs.

Best Affordable Electric Cars 2019

1. Kia e-Niro

Along with its sister car, the Hyundai Kona Electric, the Kia e-Niro redefines how much real-world range we should now be expecting from an electric vehicle towards the more affordable end of the price spectrum. For around £35,000, the 64kWh battery pack common to both enables them to comfortably travel 230 miles on a single charge. A few years ago, that would be the sort of range you’d be expecting from something far pricier, and probably with a Tesla badge on its nose.

That genre-challenging relationship between range and affordability isn’t the sole reason why the e-Niro now crowns this list. Indeed if it was, the Hyundai Kona would be right up there, too. Where e-Niro pulls ahead, though, is that it also remains a thoroughly useable, pleasant-to-drive electric vehicle. It’s roomier than that of its relative, and it rides and handles with a greater level of sophistication and commitment. It may lack some of the accelerative potency of the Kona off the line, but as a well-rounded, truly usable affordable electric vehicle, the e-Niro is going to take some beating.

Save money on new e-Niro deals from What Car?

2. Volkswagen ID 3

As Volkswagen looks to move on from the fallout of Dieselgate, the ID 3 is set to take centre-stage as the marque’s environmentally friendly wunderkind. This Golf-sized hatchback also gets the new ‘ID’ sub-brand off the mark, and aims to do so with the kind of mass-market sophistication and class-leading useability for which Volkswagen is rightly famed.

Built on an entirely fresh platform, the ID 3 benefits from a long wheelbase, boosting cabin space, and is powered by a rear-mounted motor with 201bhp and 229lb ft. Initial impressions suggest it excels in terms of maneuverability and low-speed response, though not quite to the extent of the BMW i3, and would seem to hit the company’s high standards for ride sophistication.

Prices are yet to be confirmed, but the ID 3 is likely to sit at the upper end of the EV hatchback class, with the entry-level model (with the 58kWh) battery costing more than £30,000 and the 77kWh version, which ought to manage 300 miles range in the real-world, costing closer to £35,000.

3. Hyundai Kona Electric 64kWh

Until quite recently, an electric car good enough to combine a genuine 300-mile daily-use range with a sub-£30,000 price point seemed an awfully long way off. The Hyundai Kona Electric has made it a reality, however; quite a coup for its aspiring Korean maker.

By wielding what must be a sizeable competitive advantage on battery buying power, Hyundai has delivered this car to the road with 60 per cent more onboard electrical storage than either of the cars by which it’s bracketed in this list. That’s enough for more than 250 miles of range at typical UK motorway speeds, or more than 300 at a slightly slower clip or around town. And, in this car, it comes packaged with much stronger accelerative performance than its nearest rivals. The Kona Electric is quick enough, even, to live with some hot hatchbacks away from the traffic lights.

That the car’s slightly low-rent, restrictive interior doesn’t make it quite the match of a full-sized family hatchback on practicality is a bit of a disappointment. Also, there’s some frustration to be found in the car’s ride and handling, which both feel somewhat compromised by its weight and the low-friction tyres it uses.

Save money with new Kona deals from What Car?

4. Kia Soul EV

Kia’s boxy compact crossover is back for a third-generation, but this time around the Soul will be offered exclusively as an electric vehicle in European markets. While it’s yet to touch down in the UK, initial impressions are very promising indeed.

While not particularly sporty, it rides well and doesn’t make too much of a point of its 1682kg kerb weight. And because it makes use of the same powertrain as the slightly bigger e-Niro, it promises a WLTP-certified range of 280 miles when equipped with a 64kWh battery. It’s rather convenient, then, that this is the only battery Kia will offer here in Britain when it goes on sale next year.

We’re yet to have prices confirmed, but initial reports suggest it’ll still cost more than £30,000, and will only be a few thousand pounds cheaper than the e-Niro, which offers slightly more in the way of practicality. A UK drive could well see the Soul move further up this list. Watch this space.

Save money with new Soul deals from What Car?

5. Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf, in first-generation form, set the mould for the affordable electric car approaching a decade ago – and in new second-generation form, it’s back on the top of the pile of contenders who are following in its tread marks.

Having had a 25 per cent boost on battery capacity, the Nissan now leads many of its rivals with a WLTP-certified range of 168 miles. It’s also got significantly more power and torque than its direct predecessor; performs fairly keenly; feels like a more rounded car to drive generally; and has one of the strongest showings here on daily-use practicality for a small family.

A value proposition that’s also improved, and is now on a par with that of a mid-market, conventionally fuelled family hatchback once you take the government’s £3500 PiCG grant into account, cement the car’s market-leading position. It’s our default recommendation for anyone looking to simply replace their fossil-fuelled family hatchback with an electric one well-capable of doing the same job – and doing it well.

Save money with new Leaf deals from What Car?

6. Renault Zoe

The Renault Zoe was always an appealing short-hopper electric supermini, even when it was offered with a 22kWh battery and had only 80 miles of real-world range. The car’s usability was enhanced during a mid-life update, however, by a 41kWh battery option which, on a warm day, turns the car into one good for 150 miles of mixed real-world use.

Now there is a comprehensively updated version with a significantly refreshed design plus a 52kWh battery and up to 245 miles of range on the WLTP cycle. It still offers strong value for money against its competitors, with battery lease options making ownership that big more accessible and the UK government’s PiCG incentive bringing the car’s entry price down to a smidge above £20,000. It’s also still pleasing to drive: very nippy and fairly quiet – albeit with some leaden feel to the controls.

Renault’s battery hire option spreads out cost of ownership (although it has been blamed by some for doing more harm than good to the residual values of electric cars generally), and the car’s price includes installation of a fast-charge port at home.

Finally, whereas previously the Zoe couldn’t be rapid-charged at the motorway services quite as quickly as certain rivals, CCS fast charging is now an option, meaning the Zoe remains a fine entry point into EV ownership.

Save money with new Zoe deals from What Car?

7. BMW i3

The i3 has a rare quality for an electric car: multi-faceted appeal. You might want one because of the way it looks, or for the spritely, involving way it drives; and either way, you might not actually care much that it’s electric, such is the power of the car’s various lures.

While the i3’s short wheelbase can make it feel a touch nervous on motorways, its keen handling ensures it thrives in the urban environment for which it’s designed.

That’s helped by its innovative carbonfibre-reinforced plastic chassis, which ensures the car is remarkably light. The 168bhp electric motor (rising to 181bhp for the i3S) offers peak torque at zero revs; and so, although the car’s top speed is only 99mph, it has strong performance getting there which wouldn’t shame a warm hatchback.

Using that performance does impact on the car’s true electric range, although the addition of a 42.2kWh battery at the beginning of 2019 has finally taken the i3 through the 150-mile barrier on real-world range.

Until recently BMW offered a range-extender version with a backup petrol engine, but it discontinued the i3 REX in 2018.

Save money with new i3 deals from What Car?


Chinese-owned MG is enjoyed a small but noticeable renaissance as a maker of affordable, practical cars, and the electric ZS EV continues that trend, albeit not with compromise.

This crossover uses a water-cooled 44.5kWh battery to drive a 141bhp motor under the bonnet. Admittedly, the real-world driving range of around 165 miles is beaten by many rivals, but you’ll pay less than £25,000 for the basic ZS EV, which is an impressively spacious, easy-going car with an unexpectedly supple ride.

8. Hyundai Ioniq Electric

The Hyundai Ioniq is a bit of a rarity amongst family hatchbacks in that it’s available with choice of electricpetrol-electric hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertains.

The EV version does without the independent multi-link rear suspension of the others, in order to pack in a new 38Wh lithium ion battery pack that makes for a real-world range in the region of 190 miles.

Power is also up, and where the original Ioniq EV produced just 118bhp, the latest version makes a healthier 134bhp and 291lb ft. Driving dynamics aren’t bad, but won’t set your pulse racing: the steering has reasonable weight but is somewhat vague, and this is a car happiest being driven well within its limits.

As EVs go, the Ioniq is practical and good value with decent usable range, but doesn’t get our recommendation above other family-minded models – not least those in the Hyundai family.

Save money with new Ioniq deals from What Car?

10. Volkswagen e-Up

As with the e-Golf, Volkswagen has based this EV on its existing city car in order to drive down costs through shared parts.

And driving the e-Up will certainly feel familiar to those familiar with the conventional version: the 81bhp motor sits up front, and the additional weight of the 230kg, 18.7kWh battery pack doesn’t affect the ride too much, even if the steering lacks feel. Claimed range is 75-100 miles.

Mechanically well-executed, but the compact size makes it an expensive option that lacks usability compared with some.

Save money with new Up deals from What Car?

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News, 12 Dec 2019 13:26:41 +0000
Top 10 best crossover hatchbacks 2019 Seat Ateca Demand is high for compact SUV-shaped family vehicles, and no segment is more competitive than the crossover hatchback one. Which cars make our top ten?

Part of the reason SUV sales have been booming of late is the emergence of the crossover - a car that combines the taller driving position of larger 4x4s with the relatively compact dimensions of a regular family hatchback.

The Nissan Qashqai arguably kickstarted the market, and other manufacturers were soon to cotton on to the Japanese firm’s recipe for sales success.

These days, any car company worth its salt will have a contender in this segment, so consumers are spoilt for choice. But which models are worth the money? Here are our top 10 picks.

1. Seat Ateca

Seat’s first foray into the SUV corner of the market has been a hugely successful one. With the Ateca, the once floundering Spanish manufacturer now has a class-leader on its hands.

It ticks all the right boxes so far as affordability, looks, economy and practicality are concerned and manages to be engaging to drive as well - something that can’t be said of many cars in this segment.

It's not completely perfect, with a 1.6-litre diesel engine that isn’t as refined as the oil-burner in the Qashqai and stingy standard kit at the entry-level. That doesn’t stop the Ateca from scoring top honours in this class, though.

Save money with new Ateca deals from What Car?

2. Volkswagen T-Roc

Volkswagen’s first attempt at a crossover hatchback is a very impressive one. The T-Roc offers sharp, interesting styling, a well-made interior and handling characteristics that are more akin to those of a small hatchback than a proper SUV.

It’s not quite as good to drive as the Ateca and isn't quite as practical, but it wouldn’t be hard to recommend one.

The mid-spec model isn’t unreasonably priced, but like-for-like versions of the Skoda Karoq and Ateca are still slightly cheaper.

Save money with new T-Roc deals from What Car?

3. BMW X2

One of the more recent additions to BMW's X-branded range of cars – those models with greater practicality and a raised ride height – bears more hallmarks of a traditional hatchback than a crossover, and that's no bad thing. 

In fact, given Jaguar has missed the mark dynamically with the E-Pace, those who cherish driving should put the X2 at or close to the top of their wish-list. In both turbocharged petrol and turbodiesel forms, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines offer a muscular and refined power delivery. The steering is also enjoyably direct, while body control is excellent by the standards of the class. There are more practical alternatives, but perhaps none that are as dynamically convincing.

Save money with new X2 deals from What Car?

4. Nissan Qashqai

A mid-life refresh has helped to keep the Qashqai - the original and definitive crossover - incredibly close to the top of the pile.

It champions refinement, fuel efficiency and interior comfort but loses out to the Ateca as far as dynamic abilities are concerned, and to the T-Roc on style and desirability.

The Qashqai's steering is overly light in its regular setting, and noticeable body roll discourages properly spirited driving. Nissan's infotainment system is also starting to fall behind. On the whole, though, the Qashqai is still hugely competitive in this segment and thoroughly recommendable.

Save money with new Qashqai deals from What Car?

5. Toyota C-HR

Gone are the days of dull, boring-looking crossovers. Stylistically, the Toyota C-HR is a breath of fresh air in the segment. Even next to more athletic rivals such as the Ateca, it stands out. It has the handling to back those sporty looks up, too.

While the original, 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain is a bit gutless, the new 2.0-litre version with 182bhp is usefully brisk, if still not in any way rapid. And while that sloping roofline may look great, it eats into rear head room. Toyota's infotainment system is also left wanting when compared with rivals, though the facelifted version does get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity as standard.

Save money with new C-HR deals from What Car?

6. Renault Kadjar

While it doesn’t rank quite as highly as the Nissan Qashqai to which it is closely related, the Renault Kadjar is still a competent and likeable contender. 

It’s comparatively less expensive than its Nissan sibling across the range, and with plenty of interior space it’s well suited to family life. It rides comfortably, even if it’s not the most engaging steer.

A recent facelift has also freshened its exterior up somewhat, while a redesigned cabin adds a much needed dash of additional appeal - though it’s still not quite as good as those of its Volkswagen Group counterparts. The trim hierarchy has also been simplified, while a punchy new 1.3-litre petrol engine is a welcome addition to the range, too.

Save money with new Kadjar deals from What Car?

7. Kia Xceed

Given the success of the standard Ceed, the Xceed crossover, which follows a familiar recipe of raising the hatchback's ride-height and beefing up the looks but without really altering anything oily, was the model that Kia had to make.

It's sure to sell well, but that's more because of the devastating popularity of the segment than any exceptional appeal on the Xceed's part. Indeed, this is an attractive crossover with better-than-average driving control and a reasonably fluid ride, but there are more frugal and spacious cars among its peer, and in this class those are the attributes that count.

Save money with new Xceed deals from What Car?

8. Skoda Karoq

As is the case with all Skoda cars, the Karoq brings affordability, value for money and practicality to its market - all good things for family buyers.

It’s also a handsome looking thing, if a little hard to distinguish from its Spanish cousin, the Ateca. The Karoq is comfortable out on the open road, if a little unremarkable dynamically.

It’s a very competent replacement for the Yeti, although it lacks the character and flair of its predecessor – which is a bit of shame, really.

Save money with new Karoq deals from What Car?

9. Hyundai Tucson

This smart-looking South Korean crossover offers a great deal of space and standard kit and a solid five-year/unlimited-mile warranty for a reasonable outlay.

However, it falls down next to its more refined European rivals in the ride and handling departments. Hyundai's 2.0-litre diesel engine is decently refined but could do with a bit more punch. We also found its real-world economy to be a fair way off the claimed figure.

Plus, he interior materials are a bit pedestrian when compared with those found in the likes of the Karoq and Qashqai.

Save money with new Tucson deals from What Car?

10. Kia Sportage

Like the Tucson, the Kia Sportage majors on value for money, offering an excellent seven-year/100,000-mile warranty and lots of standard equipment.

However, while you might get a lot of bang for your buck as far as kit is concerned, the Sportage doesn’t quite drive as well as its European rivals, with a slightly firm, noisy ride and dull steering.

Despite a facelift, its relatively uninspiring appearance may not be to everyone’s tastes, either, particularly when compared with funky rivals such as the C-HR, T-Roc and Ateca. Still, it provides plenty of space inside - a trait that families will no doubt love.

Save money with new Sportage deals from What Car?

News, 12 Dec 2019 13:25:39 +0000
2020 Fisker Ocean can gain 200 miles of range in 30 minutes 2020 Fisker Ocean charging - side
Fisker's SUV will slot into the same price and performance band as the recently revealed Tesla Model Y
American start-up partners with Electrify America network to offer access to 3500 chargers by 2021

American start-up Fisker has announced a partnership with Electrify America that will give drivers of its 2020 Ocean SUV access to "the largest open fast charging network" in the US. 

Fisker claims that Electrify America's 350kW rapid chargers, which are compatible with all mainstream electric vehicles (EVs), are capable of delivering more than 200 miles of range in as little as 30 minutes. The network is currently under development, with plans to be operating in 45 of the 50 states by December 2021. 

The announcement comes as the company gears up to unwrap the futuristic Tesla Model Y rival at the CES exhibition in Las Vegas on 4 January 2020. 

The Ocean will be offered primarily to customers through a leasing programme, with prices starting from $379 (£295) per month, after a deposit of $2999 (£2335), for the cheapest of the five trim levels. Prospective customers can pay a fully refundable $250 (£194) deposit now via Fisker's smartphone app to secure a reservation.

Fisker says it will sell a "very limited" number of Oceans outright at the request of several global customers. 

The California-based company claims its first series production car is "the world’s most sustainable vehicle", with recycled, vegan and other natural products used throughout. A full-length solar roof is said to offer 1000 additional zero-emissions miles per year, while recycled fishing nets, t-shirts, bottles and tyres feature throughout the interior and exterior to lessen the model's well-to-wheel carbon footprint.

The Ocean is also claimed to offer "the highest five-star safety rating", with Fisker drawing attention to the prominent side impact protection beams. It's unclear, however, whether the SUV has yet been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which conducts crash tests in the US.

The Ocean rides high and has modern, utilitarian styling. Flared wheel arches hint at its performance potential, while narrow headlights and chrome detailing are a nod to the 2018 Fisker Emotion concept. It features what the firm calls “captivating design touches that have been traditionally reserved for supercars in the past”.

Prominent styling details include a front-mounted radar in place of a grille, a large front air intake, flared wheel arches and a futuristic headlight design. Fisker has also confirmed that the side indicators double as charging indicators, turning green when the battery is full. 

Also featured is a targa-style removable roof section which Fisker says offers the open-air benefits of a convertible "without compromising the rugged and safe structural integrity of an SUV".

The battery is claimed to provide a range of up to 300 miles. The Ocean will be available in four-wheel drive form, with an electric motor mounted on each axle. 

Fisker also claims that the SUV's interior will offer class-leading space, a large head-up display and an intelligent user interface.

The company is also at work on developing solid-state battery technology, which it says would allow future vehicles to gain 500 miles worth of charge in as little as one minute. 

Fisker Inc. was formed in 2016, succeeding the bankrupted Fisker Automotive company that launched the Karma range-extender luxury saloon – now re-engineered and on sale as the Karma Revero GT – in 2011.

Read more

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News, 12 Dec 2019 13:00:00 +0000
BMW 8 Series 840d xDrive Gran Coupe 2019 UK review BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe 2019 UK first drive review - hero right Four-door diesel version of BMW’s new flagship has abundant rational appeal and plenty of dynamism but isn’t as practical or as versatile as rivals This may very well be the particular version of the latest BMW 8 Series that’ll matter most to you. Equally, it could be the one in which you’re least interested of all the possible combinations of two-door-coupé, two-door-cabrio or four-door ‘coupoon’ bodies, and six-cylinder petrol, eight-cylinder petrol or six-pot diesel engines.This is captain sensible: the four-door 840d xDrive Gran Coupe, which sits towards the more affordable end of the showroom range on price and promises to deliver against the brief of a traditional big, desirable grand tourer with an extra dose of pragmatism thrown into the mix. The four-door body is expected by BMW to be the most popular of the three with 8 Series buyers, for what it’s worth, while the straight-six diesel will be trumped for sales mix dominance only by the ‘40i’ straight-six petrol (which is also the only rear-driven ‘8er’ you can buy).It was the two-door coupé equivalent of this car that underwent the full road test workout earlier this year, when we recorded plenty of praise for the efficiency, flexibility and cruising refinement of BMW’s multi-cylinder diesel motor and for the car’s smart, modern, restrained-yet-sophisticated cabin; while the steel sprung chassis left a little to be desired for GT-appropriate ride isolation but conjured more driver appeal than you might expect of a car so large.Like the coupé, the four-door Gran Coupe is offered to UK buyers in M Sport equipment level only (which means us Brits get 20in alloys and M Sport upgraded brakes as standard). Those who want to avoid runflat tyres can do so by optioning up the BMW’s M Sport Technic option package, which also includes a further brake upgrade and an active torque-vectoring rear differential – although our test car did without it.First Drive, 12 Dec 2019 11:00:27 +0000Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo: EV estate spied showing new details Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo front side Porsche's electric saloon will gain a crossover-inspired estate variant in 2021, and new spyshots give us the closest look yet

Porsche’s winter testing regime has extended to its second electric model, the high-riding Taycan Cross Turismo, seen again with new design details revealed. 

The rugged estate was first seen undergoing high-speed prototype testing at the Nürburgring, but is now being put to the test around the arctic circle. This new test mule gives us a glimpse at the rear windowline and rear end shape we've not had before. 

Set to join the German brand's line-up in 2021, the production version of the new model builds on the Mission E Cross Turismo concept revealed at the 2018 Geneva motor show.

Despite the prototype pictured here being disguised, it appears both the Taycan and Taycan Cross Turismo will share their front-end appearance through to the trailing edge of the front doors. From there on back, however, the Taycan Cross Turismo receives its own unique styling, as with the Panamera and Panamera Sport Turismo.

Among the styling elements differentiating the Taycan Cross Turismo from the four-door Taycan are a longer roof and a steeper-angled tailgate – both aimed at providing it with added practicality and greater load space. Also evident is the added ground clearance of the concept, intended to provide the car with moderate off-road ability in combination with four-wheel drive.

The Cross Turismo will likely receive a revised chassis with more of a focus on comfort and enhanced all-terrain ability, although it's unlikely to offer the ground clearance of the company's flagship SUV.

In all other respects it will be identical to the saloon, with the choice of three power outputs – and more likely to be on the way. The range will kick off with the 523bhp 4S, with a 671bhp Turbo and 751bhp Turbo S also offered. Expect a low four-figure price increase for the Cross Turismo.

In an industry first, Porsche’s Tesla Model S rival has been engineered to support an 800V charging system. An 80% recharge is therefore claimed to be possible in “less than 15 minutes”.

As with the Taycan saloon, the estate is being produced on a dedicated line being built at Porsche’s headquarters in Zuffenhausen, on the outskirts of Stuttgart, Germany.

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News, 12 Dec 2019 10:55:08 +0000
The 2019 UK general election: A motorist's view Traffic jam What will the election outcome mean for British roads? We outline some of the different parties' major car-related pledges

The UK will stage its third general election in four years today (Thursday, 12 December) – and the results could have a major impact on motorists and the car industry.

Brexit is a key issue in the election and Britain’s ongoing relationship with the European Union could greatly affect the motor industry in this country. And the leading parties have all unveiled other policies that are significant to car owners, including pledges to phase out the sales of combustion-engined cars and to cut carbon emissions.

These are the main car-related policies in the manifestos of the three main parties that have candidates standing across the UK.

Conservative Party

 Leave the EU by 31 January and keep the UK out of the EU single market and customs union. Negotiate a new EU trade deal but the implementation period won’t extend beyond December 2020.

 £38.8 billion investment in ‘strategic and local roads’.

 £1bn investment in a fast-charging network, with the aim for everyone to be within 30 miles of a rapid charging station.

 Reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

 Consult to determine the earliest date for phasing out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.

 Launch the biggest pothole filling programme yet.

Labour Party

 Secure a new Brexit agreement within six months, including ‘close alignment with the EU single market and UK-wide customs union’. It will then be voted on in a referendum.

 Invest in three automotive gigafactories and four metal reprocessing plants. Promote the development and manufacture of ultra-low-emission vehicles.

 Invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and in electric community car clubs.

 Target to cut deaths and serious injuries on UK roads to zero. Investment to make local roads ‘safer for everyday journeys’ and review all tolled crossings.

 Put the UK ‘on track’ for a net zero carbon energy system ‘within the 2030s’.

 Aim by 2030 to end sales of new combustion-engine vehicles.

 Establish a £400bn ‘national transformation fund’, with £250bn focused on renewable and low-carbon energy and transport.

 New Clean Air Act to include vehicle scrappage scheme.

Liberal Democrats

 Revoke article 50 and remain in the EU.

 Develop a national skills strategy and innovation centres to develop zero-carbon technologies, including batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.

 Cut VAT on EVs to 5%. Increase the rate of installation of on-street and ultra-fast EV charging points.

 Establish ultra-low-emission zones in 10 more towns and cities in England.

 Reduce the number of single-occupancy cars used for commuting. Push the development of car-sharing schemes and autonomous vehicles.

 Set a legally binding target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

 Ensure all new cars are electric by 2030.

 Green Investment Bank to increase funding in zero-carbon and environmental objectives.


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News, 12 Dec 2019 09:00:00 +0000
Opinion: Ogier-Citroen split suggests big drama for next season
Ogier won three rounds of the WRC in the C3 this season
With Ogier leaving Citroën and the French manufacturer leaving the WRC shortly after him, we look forward to an intriguing 2020

Back in 2016, when Volkswagen dramatically quit the World Rally Championship (a precursor to quitting the world of combustion-engined motorsport entirely, as it turns out) Sébastien Ogier tested all the World Rally Cars available to him as he worked out where to go for the following season.

As the undefeated world champion since 2013, the Frenchman could pretty much take his pick. In the end, he plumped for M-Sport and Ford, where he went on to win the driver’s titles in 2017 and 2018. Although he diplomatically didn’t deliver an official verdict on the other cars, he felt that the prototype Toyota Yaris WRC that he tried in Spain – yet to make its absolute debut on the WRC – was still a bit too unknown to be worthy of serious consideration.

Three years later, the situation is very different. Ogier has chosen to end his Citroën contract early and – if Citroën is to be believed – this decision then led to the manufacturer terminating its programme entirely, according to an extraordinarily bitter press release that laid the blame firmly at the six-time world champion’s door.

Ogier probably would have stayed, had an unexpected opportunity not presented itself at Toyota after its own world champion, Ott Tänak, decided to leave for Hyundai.

Ogier’s situation is a fascinating one, because he has always said that 2020 would be his last season. So he has just one year and 14 rallies to claim a seventh title, in an unfamiliar car that could make it three different manufacturers with which he has won the driver’s championship. If he succeeds, it’s a record he would share with Juha Kankkunen.

In the end, it was the lack of ongoing development at Citroën that prompted Ogier to move. Team principal Pierre Budar and Citroën management take a predictably different view, claiming that Ogier would have been in a position to win the title with them in 2020 had he stayed.

Ogier actually won three rallies with the C3 this year, a total bettered only by eventual champion Tänak, so maybe Budar has a point. We might get a clue if the C3 is fielded as a successful private entry next year.

But Ogier will be in a Toyota and his task will be much more straightforward, right?

It’s worth remembering, though, that the Yaris WRC has been honed on the flatout roads of Finland from its earliest days, developed by archetypally Scandinavian heroes used to taking a car by the scruff of its neck and flinging it into corners, relying on talent and horsepower to sort out any ensuing mess. Nobody more than current Toyota team boss Tommi Mäkinen typifies this mesmerising, uncompromising approach.

Up to now, the Yaris WRC has been driven exclusively by Nordics, the only exceptions being the UK’s Kris Meeke and Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta – both of whom, in the best possible way, are sufficiently bonkers to earn an honorary Finnish passport.

How will the Yaris get on with Ogier’s entirely different, silky smooth European style? That’s going to be one of the most fascinating questions of 2020.

Anthony Peacock


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Opinion, 12 Dec 2019 06:01:23 +0000
Nearly-new buying guide: Audi A3 Sportback
Black Edition adds black body addenda and privacy glass
Especially after its 2016 facelift, the Audi A3 is a handsome used buy. We survey your options

The Sportback is the five-door member of the A3 family and very popular it is, too, with around six times as many of them on the used car market as there are three-door models. The two extra doors make the Sportback’s appeal easy to understand, plus it has a bit more presence about it, being slightly longer and taller.

We’re talking about 2016-reg cars and newer, by the way. The year matters because that’s when this upmarket hatchback, launched in 2013, was facelifted.

The 2016 facelift brought new headlights, a more angular single-frame grille and restyled tail-lights and rear bumper. The engine range gained a couple of new petrol units: a 113bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder and a more conventional 187bhp 2.0-litre turbo. They joined the existing 148bhp 1.4 petrol turbo, which has cylinder-on-demand (CoD) tech for better economy, and two diesels: a 108bhp 1.6 TDI and 148bhp 2.0 TDI. Also carried over were the 296bhp S3 and extreme 395bhp RS3.

Trims range from entry-level SE (16in alloy wheels, standard suspension, xenon lights and the A3’s party trick, a retractable 7.0in infotainment display) through SE Technik (sat-nav, rear parking sensors) and Sport (17in alloys, dual-zone climate control) to S line (stiffer suspension, 18in alloys, a bodykit, LED headlights and sports seats). Oh, and one more: top-spec Black Edition, with black detailing and a premium sound system. Across the board, safety tech includes semi-autonomous traffic jam assist, a smarter lane assist system and a cross-traffic assist function.

Used Sportbacks are split 50:50 between petrol and diesel. Of the two diesel engines, the 1.6 TDI is more numerous but you’re better off with the 2.0 TDI, which is quicker and more relaxed at a cruise but almost as economical. It was more expensive new, of course, but thanks to diesel’s fall from grace, its premium has all but vanished. For example, we found 32,000-mile, 2016/66-reg examples of both engines priced at £12,500 apiece. It pays to shop around.

Of the petrols, the 2.0-litre is a rare bird and expensive. In any case, the 1.4 TFSI CoD (it was replaced by the more economical 1.5 TFSI COD in 2018) is the pick. It’s a punchy thing that produces its maximum torque from as low as 1400rpm all the way to 4000rpm. That’s a wider powerband than the 2.0-litre diesel. Add good fuel economy and uncanny refinement, and it’s the engine to have. A 2016/66-reg 1.4 Sport with 30,000 miles is around £11,500. The manual gearbox is more involving, but once you’ve spent time with the seven-speed S tronic auto, you won’t look back.

The 1.0 TFSI plugs into the fashion for small, hard-working three-pots and is perky and, if you’re careful, economical enough. However, used ones are at least as expensive as 1.4 TFSIs so we’d give it a miss.

Top spec pick

Black edition: On top of the bodykit, leather seats, sat-nav, tauter suspension and everything else the lower trims pile on, this spec adds purposeful-looking black exterior trim and darker windows.

Need to know

Newer A3s use a power rating system to identify them, rather than the traditional engine size. Audi’s argument is that in these downsized times, power output is a better indicator of performance than capacity. Numbers start at 30 (a power band from 110-130hp) and rise by increments of five.

The Sportback’s boot is only 15 litres larger than the three-door hatchback’s, although with the rear seats folded, there’s 120 litres more load space. Meanwhile, despite the Sportback’s wheelbase being 35mm longer, rear cabin space is barely any greater, either.

To avoid an unpleasant surprise after purchase, compare models with the standard suspension to those with firmer sports suspension (for example, S line).

Our pick

Audi A3 1.4 TFSI CoD S Line: This smooth, torquey and economical 148bhp 1.4 TFSI engine with cylinder-on-demand tech is a great all-rounder and ideal for the average-mileage driver. S line trim brings a sportier feel.

Wild card

Audi RS3 Quattro S Tronic: The 395bhp range-topper does 0-62mph in 4.1sec but it’s the ferocity, stability and quality that really impress. Just make sure yours is fitted with the optional magnetic dampers.

Ones we found

2016 A3 1.6 TDI 110 Sport, 125,000 miles, £6995

2017 A3 1.0 TFSI 116 SE, 30,000 miles, £10,995

2018 A3 30 TDI SE Technik, 15,000 miles, £15,495]

2019 A3 35 TDI SE Technik, 1000 miles, £20,000


Audi E-tron Sportback revealed as electric coupe SUV

New 2020 Audi RS3 to take fight to AMG with 394bhp

Former BMW executive named new Audi boss

News, 12 Dec 2019 06:01:23 +0000
Analysis: Can car makers really save the planet? VW Wolfsburg facilities
VW's Wolfsburg facilities are reducing their carbon footprint
After a history of chasing CO2-based profits, we assess whether the automotive industry can help the cause

Climate change has become an overarching global issue and the need to reduce CO2 emissions to halt global warming is now (largely) accepted as scientific fact. And there’s no escaping that the car industry is a major contributor to CO2 emissions. For example, the Volkswagen Group estimates that, through its operations and the cars it has made, it is responsible for around 1% of the world’s total carbon emissions.

It might sound audacious, even somewhat hypocritical, to hear industry bosses say they want to take the lead in cutting CO2 emissions. But that’s exactly what Volvo boss Håkan Samuelsson did at the recent launch of the XC40 Recharge, the firm’s first electric car.

“Despite decades of political climate summits and very bold emission targets, CO2 levels are still increasing,” said Samuelsson. “Something else is needed to turn this tide – and we believe the answer must be action from the business community.”

Similarly, Hyundai’s R&D chief, Albert Biermann, said recently: “The car industry needs to play a big role to find solutions to the issue of global warming. We want to be a big player on this planet, so we take it as our responsibility to come up with sustainable solutions.”

Undoubtedly, the current move to mass electrification by the car industry has been sparked primarily by increasingly tough emissions targets from the EU and other regulators. Those targets are largely a product of the 2016 Paris Agreement – signed by 195 nations – which aims to limit global warming to 1.5deg C above pre-industrial levels.

The EU has mandated tough average fleet emissions targets for car manufacturers, starting with a 95g/km limit in 2021. For car manufacturers to meet those goals, they are essentially forced to produce – and sell – electrified cars.

But the CO2 produced by a car’s powertrain is only part of the story. Volvo says that such emissions account for only 59% of a car’s total lifetime CO2 footprint. Another 36% come from CO2 produced in the manufacturing supply chain, with the remaining 5% due to operations such as distribution and servicing.

So, many car firms are aiming to go further, planning to cut CO2 emissions across the entire production chain. For example, Volvo wants to become a climate-neutral company by 2040. It has set a series of goals to achieve this, including a 40% reduction in each car’s life-cycle CO2 footprint by 2025, at which time it is aiming for its global manufacturing network to be climate neutral.

For example, Volvo has said it will use blockchain data-sharing technology to trace the source of the cobalt that suppliers CATL and LG Chem use in its lithium ion batteries to ensure the raw materials are sourced responsibly. It will also show buyers an average lifetime carbon footprint for each future model.

Like Volvo, Volkswagen has set itself a CO2 -neutral target, but by 2050, and it has proudly advertised the ID 3 as its first carbon-neutral car, with the Zwickau factory, where it is produced, running entirely on renewable energy. Numerous other car firms have made changes so their plants run purely on renewable energy and are cutting emissions in other ways.

It’s not hard to see the contradiction of companies built on producing carbon-emitting cars now pushing to be seen as leaders in the move to reduce those emissions – especially in the case of Volkswagen, given its actions unearthed in the Dieselgate scandal.

Volkswagen’s argument is ‘who else can?’, a view rooted in that stat about it accounting for 1% of the world’s carbon emissions. Ralf Brandstätter, the firm’s chief operating officer, said recently: “Our big size means big responsibility.” And he insists that the push towards emissions-free mobility will become the “guidepost” of Volkswagen’s future action, adding: “It will be our compass in future. It’s our mindset.”

Samuelsson said Volvo is also making the reduction of emissions part of its core, comparing it with another driving force of the firm: “We made safety a part of our company and we should do the same with sustainability.”

Samuelsson added that the increasing public drive towards sustainability meant the car industry could suffer if it doesn’t respond.

He said: “Economic growth, new technology and competition is not necessarily bad. It should not be seen as part of the problem but as part of the solution for a really sustainable future.

“We believe the ability for people to move should not be seen as a negative. It should be seen as a positive. We should be careful about restricting freedom to move – but we should make it sustainable.”

That’s also key: although it will cost the car industry billions to achieve CO2-neutral production and motoring, the cost of not doing so could ultimately be vastly more.

According to Biermann, that desire to appeal to eco-conscious customers could begin to drive electrification faster than the legislation that has kicked it off: “Eco-friendliness has become a big area of competition with battery-electric cars and plug-in hybrids. In areas such as Europe, this will be a very enjoyable fight – and it will be good for the customers who will go for an electrified car.”


Volvo launches free electricity offer for UK PHEV buyers

Electric cars: how environmentally-friendly is emissions-free?

Volvo targets becoming electric-only firm within 20 years

News, 12 Dec 2019 00:01:23 +0000
Opinion: Never say never when it comes to a 'halo' Cupra Leon Cup racer
Cupra could still serve up a sports car long-term to exploit its motorsport heritage
Seat performance sub-brand may not be plotting a sports car right now, but we reckon it makes perfect strategic sense

Luca de Meo’s view that sports cars aren’t a Cupra priority makes sense financially, but it will likely frustrate those hoping the motorsport-linked sub-brand was using SUVs to help fund such a project.

The logic in the argument is clear. Even Audi struggles to make money from the venerable TT, so what hope does a relatively unknown sporting brand – itself linked heavily to a mass-market brand – have in delivering a positive result on the balance sheet?

Despite the financials, I can’t help thinking that a ‘halo’ sports car – even a high-margin, limited-volume one sharing a platform with the TT’s replacement – would go a fair way to legitimising Cupra as an entity in its own right. By using such a car as a marketing exercise rather than a short-term money-spinner, it could justify itself in the long run, building a reputation of a truly sporting entity with dynamism and style at its core that filters down to the cars it actually wants to sell. Wishful thinking? 

Seat itself has always struggled with its own identity. Attempts have been made over the years to pitch it as the VW Group's Alfa Romeo with limited success, perhaps adding fuel to the rumours that the Group might well just cut out the middle man and buy Alfa from FCA altogether. 

Despite de Meo’s strong statement, he hasn’t ruled them out indefinitely. We'll keep our fingers crossed that sales of its high-riding models give it the confidence and pull in the budget from the Group to get enthusiasts excited with something really special. 


Seat could rebrand as Cupra in upmarket push

New 2020 Cupra Leon to be part of seven-strong line-up

Small Seat EV to spawn Cupra model

News, 12 Dec 2019 00:01:23 +0000
Cupra boss: No bespoke sports cars for now Cupra Tavascan concept - side CEO of the Seat-owned performance brand is ruling them out on financial grounds, at least in the short term

Cupra is unlikely to build a bespoke sports car in the foreseeable future, with CEO Luca de Meo telling Autocar it will focus on SUVs.

“You want roadsters, two-seaters, cabrios? This is a typical perspective from your [British] market,” said de Meo. “We don’t get that question from other markets… sometimes from Germans.”

He elaborated by saying: “SUVs are called sports utility vehicles because they represent a new concept of sportiness. These kinds of things, SUVs with a coupé look, this is what for us was the two-door – an impractical coupé you could barely fit in, but it was fast, the handling was amazing because of a low centre of gravity etc. These things are gone.”

De Meo said the argument about building a sports car is an emotional one, not a rational one, for the time being.

“I cannot afford to drop a few hundred million on something where I sell 15,000 cars at a loss just for the sake of doing a sports car,” he said. “When I have some resources, I can tell you we have a lot of creativity, but right now this is not a priority. Seat sells 500,000 cars [annually]. I do not have the luxury to do that sort of thing, although I do like it.”

There have been three new Cupra models since the brand was spun off from Seat and all are SUVs: the Cupra Ateca, the Formentor and the Tavascan, a sporting electric SUV concept that’s likely to enter production in the next two years.

De Meo said the original idea for Cupra was far less ambitious: “I wanted to create a business around the motorsport division to protect it from my successor coming in and saying ‘Racing? We don’t need that’ and closing [it]. I wanted to create a business around motorsport that can finance its operations. That was the initial idea. Then it became much bigger.”


Seat could rebrand as Cupra in upmarket push

New 2020 Cupra Leon to be part of seven-strong line-up

Small Seat EV to spawn Cupra model

News, 12 Dec 2019 00:01:23 +0000
New Mercedes GLA receives more tech, space and comfort 2020 Mercedes GLA reveal - hero front Second-generation crossover sits between A-Class and seven-seat GLB; will go on sale in the spring

Mercedes-Benz has revealed the second-generation GLA, promising new technology and greater comfort to step up the pressure on the BMW X2 in the fast-growing compact crossover market.

The line-up at launch will include a hot AMG version, while plug-in hybrid and electric versions are planned for the future.

The original GLA was launched five years ago, and almost a million have been sold globally since then. As with its predecessor, the new model, due on sale in the UK in the second quarter of 2020, draws heavily on the closely related A-Class.

Its described by Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Kallenius as being "Better in every respect, with more convenience, more safety and more efficiency". 

The GLA will launch with the entry-level, front-wheel-drive GLA 200, using a 161bhp turbocharged 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, and the four-wheel-drive Mercedes-AMG GLA 35, powered by a 302bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre engine.

Further options will be introduced later in the year; Autocar understands these will include a 215bhp 1.3-litre petrol-electric plug-in hybrid badged the GLA 250e EQ Power. This will use the same 15.6kWh lithium ion battery as the A250e EQ Power, providing it with an official electric-only range of more than 40 miles.

Stylistically, the new GLA builds on the foundations of its predecessor, albeit with ground clearance raised by 9mm to 143mm. Design head Gordon Wagener claims it "combines muscular off-road genes with our philosophy of sensual purity". 

The exterior combines smoother surfacing with more rugged detailing than other compact Mercedes models, including plastic cladding on the wheel arches and bumpers. Larger wheelhouses accommodate wheels ranging from 17in to 20in.

The AMG model gains a number of bespoke design features, including a Panamericana grille, a new roof spoiler and different tailpipes.

The new GLA is 4410mm long, 2020mm wide and 1611mm high, making it 14mm shorter and 2mm narrower but 104mm higher than the old model. It's based on the second-generation version of Mercedes' MFA platform, with a transverse engine mounting, and has its wheelbase extended by 30mm to 2729mm and its track increased by 46mm front and rear.

Inside, the new GLA is similar to other recent Mercedes models, featuring a dashboard with a free-standing digital display panel. This contains two 7.0in screens for the instruments and infotainment functions as standard, with a widescreen version using two 10.3in screens optional. The displays are operated via Mercedes' MBUX operating system, which supports both touchpad and voice control. A colour head-up display is also available.

To emphasise the crossover nature of the GLA, the front seats are positioned 140mm higher than in the A-Class. There's 22mm more head room up front than in the original GLA, but rear head room has been reduced by 6mm.

As with the B-Class and recently introduced GLB, buyers can specify the GLA with a rear seat offering 140mm of fore-and-aft adjustment, giving up to 116mm more leg room than before.

Because the rear backrest can now be set at a steeper angle, boot capacity has increased by 14 litres to 435 litres. The width of the boot aperture has also increased by 85mm at 1272mm.

As with other recent Mk2 MFA-based compact models, the GLA has suspension with McPherson struts up front and either a torsion beam or multi-link arrangement at the rear. Variable damping control is optional.

Four-wheel drive models can also be ordered with an off-road package. While offering no increase in ride height, this adds an off-road headlight function and an additional off-road driving mode called Downhill Speed Regulation.

The GLA 200, with a standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, can do 0-62mph in 8.7sec, hit a top speed of 131mph and achieve combined fuel consumption of 50.4mpg while emitting 129g/km of CO2.


Mercedes-Benz GLB 200 2019 review

Mercedes-Benz GLS 400d 2019 review

New Mercedes EQA: first prototypes spotted sporting GLA bodystyle

News, 11 Dec 2019 13:16:24 +0000
Nissan Juke 2020 DIG-T N-Connecta UK review No longer the trail-blazer, but improved enough to beat away its numerous foes? It’s the second-generation Nissan Juke: bigger than before, more ‘mature’, and now driven on British roads for the first time.Fans of the oddball original (and with more than one million sold since 2010, there are a few) will already know a bit about this new model. In August, Autocar got an early taste with one of Nissan’s late-stage but imperfect prototypes at Millbrook Proving Ground. Two months later Matt Prior drove the finished article, though the glass-smooth roads around Barcelona can make even an Elise ride like an E-Class.So any test on British roads – including the comprehensive road-test proper that's yet to come – matters, and not only in terms of ride assessment but also because hiding behind its Japanese badge is a very British car. The latest Juke was designed at Nissan’s European Design Centre in Paddington, London, then developed at the brand’s hidden R&D hub in Cranfield and will be built in Sunderland, to the benefit of 34,000 jobs in assembly and through the supply chain.As far as buyers are concerned, the end product is refreshingly simple. For now, the Juke gets but one engine: a turbocharged 999cc petrol triple with direct injection and 115bhp. Diesel is out for good, but given that the car’s CMF-B platform is shared with the Renault Captur – its corporate cousin, and one already earmarked to receive hybrid power – some form of electrification is possible, if not yet probable.For the gearbox, there’s is a choice of either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch auto, the latter reducing driver effort but also slackening performance. The Juke is otherwise typical fare for the supermini segment – raised ride-height or not – with a torsion beam at the back and MacPherson struts up front. The suspension still uses passive dampers, though as we’ll discover, the setup has been noticeably retuned, and there are now smaller, secondary springs housed within the dampers themselves to cushion rebound strokes. The standard tyres are from Bridgestone, and are said to offer the same traction and grip as the wider rubber found on the old Juke Nismo.First Drive, 11 Dec 2019 11:48:46 +0000New Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe 4Matic on sale from £72,530 in UK 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe Refreshed GLE Coupe joins Mercedes’ SUV line-up as a rakish-looking sporty five-seater

Mercedes-Benz has announced UK pricing and specifications for the second generation of its GLE Coupé, ahead of the model's arrival in dealerships in spring 2020. 

Prices for the re-engineered BMW X6 rival start from £72,530 for the entry-level GLE 400 d 4Matic equipped with the AMG Line Premium Plus package, and rise to £80,615 for the AMG-tuned GLE 53 4Matic+ performance model. First customer deliveries are expected in summer 2020, with additional trim packages expected to be available nearer the time.

The standard car is equipped with a 3.0-litre straight-six diesel motor producing 325bhp and 516lb ft, with the firm's EQ Boost hybrid technology allowing for temporary boosts of 22bhp and 184lb ft. Fuel economy is quoted at up to 37.6mpg combined, with a certified emissions rating of 193g/km. The SUV can accelerate from 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 149mph. 

As standard, AMG Line Premium Plus trim brings a pair of 12.3in digital infortainment displays, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a Burmester surround sound system, 22in alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof and a range of advanced driver assistance programmes. An optional towing package - allowing for a towing capacity of 3500kg - is available for an additional £1150. 

The top-rung AMG model's straight-six engine is petrol-powered, bumping power up to 429bhp for a 0-62mph time of 5.3 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. Additional equipment over the standard car includes AMG's active ride control technology, AMG steering wheel controls and a smartphone app which analyses journey and performance data.

The newcomer raises the number of Mercedes SUV models to eight, indicating the significance to the brand of a sector that accounts for a third of its global sales. The GLE Coupé joins an ever-growing segment of style-focused variants of traditional high-riding models and can also count the Porsche Cayenne Coupé, Audi Q8 and Range Rover Velar as competitors. 

Despite sharing its underpinnings with the standard GLE, the GLE Coupé is 15mm longer and a substantial 63mm wider. Its wheelbase is 20mm longer than the previous version’s but is still 60mm shorter than the GLE’s. Mercedes claims this benefits handling and visual proportions. The roof height is 1722mm, 56mm lower than that of the standard model. Mercedes says aerodynamic efficiency has improved by 9% compared with its predecessor. 

From the bottom of the A-pillar forwards, the GLE Coupé looks nearly identical to the GLE, but from there back, it’s entirely different, with a steeper windscreen and rear window rake to account for that sloping roof, plus a bespoke rear-end shape. Wheels come in sizes from 19in to 22in, depending on the car’s spec. 

The interior of the GLE Coupé shares almost everything with its sibling, too, with the same dashboard layout dominated by two 12.3in screens and a raised centre console with integral grab handles. However, sports seats and a nappa leather sports steering wheel are standard fitments in the Coupé. Amazon Music streaming will also be available at launch. 

Mercedes claims the new car offers “tangibly more room” and a “significantly better sense of spaciousness” than its predecessor, thanks to the longer wheelbase and larger door openings. Storage capacity has increased, too. In seats-up form, the boot is only five litres larger than the old car’s, but with the 40/20/40 split folding rear bench down, that increase rises to 70 litres. The loading sill is lower than before, too, and the air suspension can drop the rear by a further 50mm at the press of a button. 

The chassis of the GLE Coupé is said to feature different tuning from its sibling, which is aimed at offering a “sportier and tauter” driving experience, with the air suspension fitted as standard on UK cars. The same 48V E-Active Body Control system is also available, which includes the ability to individually control spring and damper forces at each wheel. 

Read more

First-gen Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe review​

Mercedes-Benz GLE 2019 review

Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4Matic AMG Line 2019 UK review​

News, 11 Dec 2019 09:58:00 +0000
New Mercedes-Benz GLA to be revealed today 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA Recent spyshots show updated design for second-generation BMW X2 rival

The new Mercedes-Benz GLA will be officially revealed later today (11 December), with recent spyshots and a design sketch giving an early glimpse of the BMW X2 rival. 

Although still featuring some front and rear disguise, the recent shots show that the crossover's shape takes inspiraton from the A-Class hatchback it shares a platform with, while the headlights are slimmed down variants of those found on the new GLB SUV

Update: The new Mercedes GLA has been revealed - full story here

The car sits lower to the ground than its predecessor, but Mercedes has previously confirmed that the GLA's roofline is more than 10 centimetres higher off the ground, allowing for enhanced headroom and a more upright seating position in line with larger SUV models. Leg room is said to have been improved as well, despite the model being 1.5cm shorter overall than the outgoing car. 

Earlier this year, spy photographers captured the interior of the compact crossover for the first time. The image shows that the dashboard is also set to be very similar to that of the A-Class and Mercedes' other new compact models, featuring rounded air vents and the twin touchscreens of the MBUX system.

The new GLA will join Mercedes' MFA platform-based range alongside the A-Class hatchback, A-Class saloonCLA four-door coupé, CLA Shooting Brake estate and B-Class MPV.

It now sits below the GLB, the largest car on that platform and a new, fully fledged rival to the BMW X1 and Audi Q3. That leaves the GLA to compete with smaller compact crossovers such as the Audi Q2 and Ford Focus Active and is why it likely has a lower, more car-like profile.

Minimal technical details of the GLA have been released, but we know it will be closely linked to the A-Class in terms of interior design and technology, engines and gearboxes. That means it will adopt Mercedes' latest touchpad and voice-controlled MBUX infotainment system, alongside more advanced safety features and increased material quality.

The engine range will kick off with a 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol unit developed in conjunction with the Renault-Nissan Alliance. This will likely be available in two states of tune, while a 2.0-litre engine will top out the range for the time being. A 1.5-litre diesel will also be offered. 

Later on in the GLA’s lifespan, we will see a return of the AMG-tuned GLA 45, putting out anything up to 416bhp through a performance-focused four-wheel-drive system. Before that arrives, there will be a 302bhp 35 variant, as is now available in the A-Class

The GLA will be produced alongside the A-Class at Mercedes' factory in Rastatt, Germany. The A-Class will also serve as the basis of the EQA, an electric hatchback that's scheduled to arrive next year. 


First ride: 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA prototype​

New Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 and GLA 45 prototypes spotted

Mercedes EQA: first prototypes seen showing GLA bodywork​

News, 11 Dec 2019 09:53:24 +0000
Vauxhall Corsa SRI Nav 1.2 100 2019 UK review Vauxhall Corsa 2019 UK first drive review - hero front The Vauxhall Corsa has been one of Britain's best-selling cars for years. We get an all-important first steer of the new one on UK roads The first time we’ve driven the new, speedily-developed Vauxhall Corsa on British roads. And if there’s anywhere it’s worth testing the Corsa, it’s here, the supermini’s largest market even compared to parent brand Opel’s home, Germany.Vauxhall is keen to make mention of how important the Corsa is: not just to Vauxhall itself as by far and away its most popular model, but to the UK. Generally second only to the Fiesta in the supermini sales charts, it's a model that transcends age groups and classes. Almost everyone will have been in or driven a Corsa throughout their life. Anyway, you’d have been living in a cave (or perhaps not reading Autocar often enough) if you weren’t aware of the latest Corsa’s relationship with the new Peugeot 208. Opel was close to finishing a new Corsa under GM ownership, but when the PSA Group took the reigns in 2017 the project was started afresh with PSA’s modular CMP platform, for reasons explained eloquently by my colleague from the Corsa’s European launch.So, a mere two years from that point, we find ourselves on the roads around the sprawling Goodwood estate in a Vauxhall supermini that is unrecognisable from its predecessor. And that’s a good thing, we reckon: the old car had almost MPV-like proportions, whereas the new model has a full 48mm lopped off the roofline and 39mm added to the length. It’s actually a touch narrower, but it certainly doesn’t look it thanks to its squat, purposeful stance. The new Corsa’s range is, thankfully, greatly simplified over the old car. Instead of a baffling array of trims and engine there’s two petrol engines, one diesel and a new, all electric version (more on that early next year). These can be mated to six trim levels (each with a ‘Nav’ spec), with options grouped into packs. First Drive, 11 Dec 2019 09:47:19 +0000Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate E300de 2019 long-term review Mercedes E300de 2019 long-term review - hero front Long journeys on diesel, short ones on electric – what’s not to like? We have six months with Merc's hybrid estate to find out

Why we’re running it: To see if the near-perfect theory of a car with diesel power for long journeys and electric power for short trips can be matched by the reality

Month 1 - Specs

Life with an E-Class Estate: Month 2

Long-distance touring a speciality - 27th November 2019

There are many cars that could have done the five-hour journey home from Britain’s Best Driver’s Car 2019 as well as the Benz but, I expect, very few that would have been significantly better. After all that insanity, when you climb aboard it’s as if you can feel your blood pressure subsiding. And cars that can do that are both rare and special.

Mileage: 7117

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Our diesel-electric estate is currently one of a kind, with great powers of recuperation - 20th November 2019

Thanks to this car’s claim to fame – being fitted with the only diesel-hybrid powertrain on sale at the moment – it’s far too easy to spend all your time thinking about the strengths and weakness of the system and not enough focusing on the car beneath. But there is so much to talk about, so I hope I’ll be forgiven for making more observations about its daily operation.

First, I have now sorted out home charging and persuaded my phone to talk to the charger – and any public Pod Point charger I might use in future – so I now know exactly what my electricity is costing me. And on my domestic tariff, 10kWh of energy costs around £1.55. Where I live, there are little or no urban miles to do but that charge will still take me around 24 miles on rural roads at sensible speeds, which would require around half a gallon of diesel on the same road at the same speed, which would cost around £2.95 if I bought it locally.

This means my domestic electricity supply nearly halves the fuel costs on short journeys, but you’d have to make a hell of a lot of short journeys to make up the £5000 extra Mercedes-Benz charges for the hybrid system. Then again, there are tax breaks for hybrids to consider, not to mention a very welcome additional slug of performance. Let’s not forget that this 2140kg estate car will still hit 62mph in 6.0sec, compared with 7.7sec for the same car without the hybrid. So it really is a completely different level of performance.

That’s the macro stuff. I find the micro just as interesting, largely because I’m a geek. I have noticed, for instance, that this car misses no opportunity to claw some ions back through brake regeneration, especially if you run the car in its Eco setting, which I usually do. Obviously, you’d expect this to happen while you’re actually braking, but it’s way, way cleverer than that.

For instance, it always knows where you are, and if it knows there’s a speed limit coming up and you’re off the throttle, it’ll just brake a little more to reduce your speed consistently until you reach the limit, rather than you approaching too fast and having to use the actual brakes rather than the electrics to slow the car. If it sees a tight turn coming up, it’ll slow for that, too, or a junction. You’re aware that it’s always there, chiselling away, recovering every mote of what would otherwise be lost power.

I could find that infuriating, but I don’t, and for two reasons. First, you can stop it whenever you want by changing modes. Second, you only need to coast down one long steep hill and see the projected electric range actually rise to realise this really is free energy it’s finding. So, in fact, the actual saving made by the car is measurable not just in cheap electricity pumped into its battery by my charger but also the free electricity recovered from the road. Which, I guess, is why on a 360-mile journey last week, it still returned over 60mpg despite no more than 25 of them coming from electricity I’d put into the car at home.

But, of course, there’s the not so good stuff. The fact that the battery pack takes up a third of the seat-up boot space is not great, but it’s the huge lump it puts into the loading floor that troubles me more. You lose both space and convenience. And you have to remember that when you drive 25 miles on electricity and then the engine cuts in, the diesel motor is both noisier and thirstier than it can be on account of being stone cold.

That’s it for now. Next time, I’ll try to talk about anything other than the hybrid system. Promise.

Love it:

Energy efficiency The way it is constantly looking to save energy, even when the on-board supply of electricity is entirely depleted.

Loathe it:

space-hogging battery The enormous lump in the boot floor is difficult to negotiate when you have large items of luggage to house.

Mileage: 6221

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Life with an E-Class Estate: Month 1

Up and running as intended - 30th October 2019

For those of you who’ve not slept for wondering whether the 300de’s inability to accept the full 7kW capacity of my new Pod Point home charger was the fault of car, charger, installer or me, the answer is none of the above. As suspected, it was the cable. Benz has now supplied the correct cable and it’s blazing away at 7kW. Well, 6.6kW to be precise.

Mileage: 4444

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Time to install a charging point at home. Should be easy, right? - 23rd October 2019

It’s a bullet I’ve been meaning to bite for a while now but actually it was another Mercedes-Benz that, if you’ll forgive the appalling melange of metaphors, finally persuaded me to take the plunge. After adding a grand total of 44 miles to the range of an all-electric EQ C overnight, I realised I needed to make the change. And what better excuse to sort it out than having a plug-in on the premises for a few months?

Living in the middle of nowhere, I have off-muddy lane parking, but until now, my charging has come courtesy of a three pin plug by the back door and it is frankly a miracle no one has tripped over the cable and brained themselves on the cobbles. Why are charging cables black – ie as difficult as possible to see at night?

Mercedes-Benz told me BP was its charging partner so I dropped BP a line back in August, and by the time October came around without a reply, I asked a mate who’d just had a dedicated car charger installed at home. His had been done by a company called Pod Point and he could not recommend them more highly. Knowing less than I should about such things, Pod Point’s website informs me that the company has sold and installed “over 40,000 charging points and developed one of the UK’s largest public networks”.

The only delay was caused by me deciding where I wanted the charger to go and then getting an electrician out to drill a hole through the wall of the house from the fuse box, dig a trench across the drive in which to sink the cable, and then route it underground around an old stone wall to where I wanted the point to be sited. Someone contracted by Pod Point then came out, and within a couple of hours, my dedicated charging station was installed.

Pod Point does two types of charger: one with a universal socket, enabling any car to be charged, and one with a fractionally more convenient but less versatile permanent cable. In any event, you’ll pay £779 for one that charges at 3.6kW (which isn’t that much better than a three-pin plug) and £859 for one that charges almost twice as fast, at 7kW. In both cases, so long as both you and the car are eligible for the OLEV grant (which the 300de is), the price comes down by £500 and Pod Point will apply for the grant on your behalf.

So far so good? Well, very nearly. I can’t fault Pod Point or the ease and speed with which the installation process took place. The only problem is that it’s charging at only 3.6kW, which almost but not entirely defeats the object. Pod Point has been back and triple checked its records and is adamant it installed a 7kW charger. One thought was that some plug-in hybrids won’t accept a charge greater than 3.6kW, but the Benz is not among them.

My bet (and that of Pod Point and Mercedes) is that the car has been inadvertently supplied with the wrong cable. By the time of my next report, it will have been swapped, I hope to be charging at 7kW and I should have my head around the Pod Point app, which, among other things, should tell me how much each charge has cost.

Love it:

Electric-only travel Just how quiet and comfortable it is when cruising in electric only, and the decent available performance, too.

Loathe it:

UK’s charging points Just starting to get my head around just how hopeless is the UK’s charging infrastructure. Thank heavens, I don’t need it.

Mileage: 3884

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Welcoming the E-Class Estate to the fleet - 9th October 2019

If there is something I regard as most extraordinary about this Mercedes-Benz E300de, it is that it and its C-Class sister are, at the time of writing, the only cars of their kind on sale. What makes the E300de unique is of the fact that not only is it powered by a diesel engine, but also an electric hybrid drive. All other plug-in hybrid electric vehicles use petrol for their internal combustion engines.

This proposition really would seem to offer the best of both worlds. We know that plug-in hybrids when they are out of town and on the motorway end up carrying a large lump of electric architecture around while it is doing nothing to help the car progress, so you find yourself not only in a heavy vehicle but one that is being powered by petrol. The Mercedes approach means that while you still have to carry that load, at least it is an efficient diesel engine doing the carrying. And when you get to the city limits, which is where people become concerned rightly or wrongly about the particulate emissions of diesel engines, you just switch to electrical power and waft around on a wave of electrons like everybody else with a plug-in.

As theories go, it really does seem pretty flawless – at least until we can figure out a way of providing cars that not only use very little fuel but are also capable of travelling long distances before either refuelling or recharging.

Of course, what works so well on paper rarely translates into practice without a few drawbacks, and quite clearly there are flaws in the plan. Two problems in particular are not difficult to discern: the first is that additional weight I referred to. In this case, Mercedes is asking you to carry around another 265kg of batteries and electric motor.

According to official claims, this makes the car capable of travelling up to 27 miles on electric power alone and at speeds of up to 70mph. But if you are driving on the motorway, there is no way you can expect the 2.0-litre diesel to be as frugal in this car as it would be in another E-Class estate without the hybrid drive, so the car is best for those who will do not only long journeys with diesel power but also many much shorter ones, which it can complete entirely on electric power.

The other issue which might prove particularly troublesome for a car like this with a world-class reputation for its ability to carry luggage is that the battery pack takes up a sizeable chunk of space in the boot. In fact, with the seats up, you lose about a quarter of your carrying capacity. That said, if you really want to carry vast amounts of stuff with the seats down, the load area is still enormous and only about 10% smaller than that found in a conventional E-Class.

Finally, there is the price: the same E-Class without the hybrid drive will cost £5000 less than this one, and you would have to travel a very large number of miles using electric power only to recoup the deficit.

Of course, what such hard facts fail to reveal is that the E-Class when powered only by electricity is a fabulously quiet and comfortable way of going about your business. Compared with Mercedes’ previous diesel, the motor under this bonnet is actually fairly refined, but so quiet is the car in electric mode that it still comes as something of a shock when the conventional engine cuts in.

Moreover, you find yourself trying to drive as frugally as possible to extend the electric range as far as you can. So far I have managed to cover 24 miles on a single charge, which is the most the car has indicated when I have climbed aboard.

The other positive side effect of the hybrid drive is that it turns this four-cylinder diesel estate into an unlikely performer. This is not the kind of car you expect to go burning up the road in but, with the combined efforts of both the electric motor and the internal combustion engine, it is capable of a genuinely surprisingly turn of speed, especially considering its mass.

There is much that will be learned over the months to come but, as a person lucky to have off-street parking and who does many small journeys and many long journeys, if anyone can prove the point of this car, I expect it will be someone like me. The early signs are good and I look forward to each journey, particularly if I think I have a chance of completing it all on electricity alone. I have also become a zealous home charger: if your battery pack is not kept charged, it becomes worse than useless – and in the most literal sense.

I’ve only had to fill the car once so far, which revealed it sipped diesel at 68.8mpg, a figure we calculated based on the fuel I’ve put in, not taken from the trip computer. If it can maintain or improve on that, this Mercedes-Benz E300de will start to make its case on the number of journeys it can complete between filling stations alone.

Second Opinion

Despite diesel’s bad press and falling sales of oil-burners over recent years, Mercedes-Benz’s CEO claims sales of its diesel cars are recovering again. So the E300de could have been launched at the right moment. Aside from the mpg and tax benefits for company cars, the E300de also appeals because, with some charge in the battery, it’s smoother, quieter and kinder to the local environmentin town driving than a standard oilburner. The performance benefits are welcome, too, and it’s noticeably punchier than an E220d.

Lawrence Allan

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Mercedes-Benz E300DE EQ Power SE Estate specification

Specs: Price New £49,700 Price as tested £58,115 Options Cavansite Blue metallic paint £685, privacy glass £345, premium equipment pack £2395, Driving Assistance Plus pack £1695, comfort pack £3295

Test Data: Engine 1950cc, 4cyls, turbo, diesel, plus electric motor Power 302bhp at 3800rpm Torque 516lb ft at 1200-2800rpm Kerb weight 2060kg Top speed 155mph 0-62mph 5.9sec Fuel economy 201.8mpg CO2 no WLTP data Faults None Expenses None

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Long-Term Review, 11 Dec 2019 09:01:24 +0000
Rally-bred Toyota GR Yaris hot hatch set for January reveal Toyota GR Yaris
Toyota GR Yaris
New high-performance Yaris variant will draw on Toyota's World Rally Championship experience

Toyota will unveil its GR Yaris hot hatchback next month, promising that the new car will incorporate technology developed from the firm's World Rally Championship experience.

The new model will be shown for the first time at the Tokyo Auto Salon on 10-12 January, and will be the second model in the firm's Gazoo Racing-branded GR sports car line, after the GR Supra. The GR Yaris was due to be unveiled at Rally Australia earlier this month, but the reveal was shelved after devastating wildfires caused the event's cancellation. 

Toyota has yet to release any technical information about the GR Yaris, but says it "incorporates all the technologies, knowledge and experience learned" from the team's title-winning WRC campaign with the Yaris WRC. 

The model is currently undergoing testing sporting a camouflage livery that features the code 'GR-4', an indication that the car could follow the WRC version in featuring four-wheel drive.

A video released by Toyota has shown the GR Yaris undergoing testing and driven by the firm's CEO, Akio Toyoda, who is also the brand's Master Driver operating under the pseudonym 'Morizo'. The prototype car will also feature at the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival in Japan on 15 December.

The machine will effectively succeed the previous generation’s limited-run Yaris GRMN as the range-topping version of the small hatch. While likely to be offered in greater numbers than the GRMN, it is possible that the new car will serve as a ‘homologation special’, forming the basis for the next-generation Yaris WRC.

Feature: tracing the 2019 Rally GB route in a Yaris GRMN

The new preview shows that its styling is familiar from the existing Yaris, but with the addition of far wider rear wheel arches and an aggressive bodykit to fit the car’s likely high-performance brief. In a further nod to the car’s intent, it sports the camouflage livery used by most recent hot Toyota models of recent years, including the recently revived Supra.

At the launch of the revamped Yaris recently, Toyota’s executive vice-president, Matt Harrison, told Autocar that a performance version of the model would likely be launched to strengthen the link between Toyota’s road cars and its Gazoo Racing motorsport arm.

Toyota has applied various levels of branding under the Gazoo Racing theme in order to develop a model structure for its high-performance models. These include the hardcore limited-run GRMN versions that are positioned above models that carry the GR badge, which represents an ‘authentic sports model’. The firm also offers a GR Sport trim level that offers a more aggressive look while retaining an unchanged mechanical package.

Toyota secured the 2018 World Rally Championship manufacturers’ title with the Yaris WRC, with Ott Tänak claiming this year’s drivers title.


New Toyota Yaris revealed for 2020 with ground-up redesign

Hot Toyota Yaris on the cards to strengthen motorsport links

Opinion: What the heck is a Gazoo anyway?

Feature: Tracing the 2019 Rally GB route in a Yaris GRMN

News, 11 Dec 2019 08:20:30 +0000
Autocar meets... Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen already has five F1 seasons behind him
Max Verstappen was only 17 when he debuted in Formula 1. Now he’s ready to win a world championship. We sit down with the Dutchman

It’s a hectic time for Max Verstappen, the brightest emerging superstar in Formula 1. He has just completed his first century of grands prix – almost unbelievably, given that he only recently turned 22 – and when we meet is preparing to fly out to Brazil, where he will deliver an unexpected and impressive pole-to-victory performance. All this while assisting the experts working away at the ultra-modern, super-slick Red Bull Racing factory in Milton Keynes on plans for the 2020 season, when the de facto Honda works squad will look to take its first championship since the end of the V8 era back in 2013.

Speaking to Autocar to announce a sponsorship deal with CarNext, a Europe-wide digital marketplace for used cars (there’s no better marketing tool for any Dutch company right now than the country’s first-ever F1 race winner), could understandably be seen by Verstappen as a distraction. But he strolls in right on time and immediately starts laughing and joking. As seriously as he takes motorsport (he quickly confesses that he’s never bought a car online, instead mostly placing orders for additions to his simulator set-up at home), Verstappen is very amicable away from the track and more than happy to answer questions with a wry smile or a wisecrack – and is open and honest (maybe) in sharing his opinions his ambitions.

Have you achieved what you wanted to this year?

“I want to win championships, of course, so in that respect, probably no. But you also have to look at the circumstances, and I think it has been a good, exciting season. Especially at the beginning, when we had a really good run, with consistent results – top fives for a long time, some nice victories, some nice podiums. So I’m definitely happy. Every year so far, I can say to myself that I improved and became better. I always want to set the bar high, so I always want to improve; even a victory can be done in a better way. A lot of people would celebrate a victory, like it cannot be better than this, but I always try to find things that I can do better. My dad has been a big part of that; he would say: ‘Yeah, we won, but we could have won better, there were a few mistakes.’ He’s always been quite hard on me, and now because of that, I do it myself. Back in the day, I would disagree with it, but I now I think that it’s a big help.”

Where do you draw the line between respect for other drivers and achieving results?

“Sometimes you have to be aggressive, sometimes not. You have to adapt to the situation, so over time you make mistakes; everybody makes mistakes, otherwise it’s better to put a robot in the car. It’s good to make mistakes as well, because you learn from it. And in racing especially, when you’re on the limit, on the edge, it’s easy to make a mistake.”

Are you honest when you speak to the media?

“I’m probably too honest and too straightforward. I’m not a robot outside the car, and I’m happy about that; it’s just the way I was brought up. Sometimes it can work against you, but I see the positives of it.”

How deep is your rivalry with Charles Leclerc?

“It’s no different to anyone else. I’ve known him longer than other people, and I’ve raced him for a longer time. He’s a great driver, a big talent, and for him it’s a big opportunity to be in Ferrari, and I expect to fight him still for a very long time, because we are still very young. It’s good for the sport as well to have the young guys coming up and hopefully taking over, because it’s getting a bit boring seeing Lewis win; we have to try and change that with all the young guys!”

Do you get the sense of being at the end of an era? That you and Charles Leclerc are at the right point in history, and that Lewis Hamilton’s reign could end quite soon?

“I mean, Lewis is getting older; he’s [approaching] 35 now, so [his reign] will stop at one point. But it’s just going to depend on the team, to be honest. It’s not going to depend on Lewis. Because if Mercedes keeps building really dominant cars, then for sure he’s going to win. So we have to just make sure as a team that we can beat them. In Formula 1, you’re very dependent on your car.”

There are rumours that you could replace Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes, and that Sebastian Vettel could rejoin Red Bull in the future. Would you like to drive with Sebastian, or are you tempted by Mercedes?

“I’m really happy where I am at the moment, and I really want to win with Red Bull. They brought me into Formula 1, so there was this kind of loyalty to them. I think we’re over that phase, but still I’m really happy where I am. I really enjoy working with them; it’s a great group of people. I feel at home, which is also really important for a driver, that you feel appreciated. Everybody is really motivated so, for me, I don’t want to change.”

What are your opinions on the new rules that have been announced for 2021?

“Probably the cars will be quite a lot slower – four or five seconds [per lap]. For me, it’s probably a bit too slow, because at the moment I think the cars are great to drive. But if it will help overtaking and excitement in general, for us it’s a lot better, because some races are just not great; you’re just following. Also, the looks [of the cars] I don’t really care about, as long as we have good racing.”

And it’s an opportunity for Red Bull to leapfrog Mercedes and Ferrari?

“First we’ll try to do that with these regulations for the final year [in 2020], and of course then you set your sights to the new rules. Hopefully things will change.”

What’s your opinion on the future possibility of having 25 races per season?

“Too busy. I love racing, but it’s just too much. I think it’s much better to focus on the best races out there, to have 20 really good races rather than 25, with perhaps 18 really good ones and seven that are not so popular.”

How about your home grand prix at Zandvoort, which returns to the calendar next year for the first time since 1985? Do you think it will be too cramped for F1?

“I think there will be a lot of orange! It will be a very busy weekend, but in a way it’s great. Some Dutch people have never really had a chance to go to Formula 1, so when it’s that close by, it’s a great opportunity. And Formula 1 has been away for a really long time in the Netherlands, so hopefully it’ll also help others to come along, so that in maybe 10 or 15 years’ time there’s another Dutch driver, when I’m getting old, so that I can retire and somebody else can take over.”

What do you think about the absence of Hockenheim from the calendar next year now that the German GP has been dropped?

“I do miss it. I think it would have been really nice to have a race in Germany; there’s so much history there as well, and so many car brands. I have good memories from racing there as a junior as well. It’s a really big loss for Formula 1.”

Last year, you said that Lewis is nothing special…

“No, I didn’t say it like that. He is special. For sure.”

…Okay, but how do you see in general Lewis, Charles and Sebastian Vettel?

“All three are great drivers, but in a different way. Everybody has their own style, and I didn’t say that Lewis is nothing special. He’s definitely one of the best drivers ever in Formula 1. But, like I said before, you are very dependent on your car, so for example if Fernando [Alonso] was in that car, he also would have won championships. Sometimes, you’re lucky in a way, because you join a team and then suddenly they become so dominant, and you win your championships. But sometimes, like unfortunately with Fernando, you go to teams at the wrong time and you don’t win, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a good driver. With Fernando, I feel he is one of the best also.”

Have you made peace with Lewis [they collided at Turn 1 in Mexico]?

“Well, I never really had problems. We talked on the grid [at the following US Grand Prix]. I respect Lewis, of course, but we’re hard racers, and sometimes it can be a bit tough. But yeah, we talked and it’s all good.”

Do you have a lot of confidence for 2020?

“We are very confident, but of course we have to work hard, and we know that we have to improve. That’s why you see me here in the factory; I have my simulator day, but I was also going over a lot of things to bring new ideas to the team.”

And what do you expect next year from Red Bull’s engine partner, Honda?

“More power! The reliability has been really good this year, we’ve never retired because of a problem from their side. So for them, I think this season has been a breakthrough. Of course we had some victories already; they were really happy with that, I think it was a big boost for the whole company, and they’re very motivated. I think we’re on the right path, and when you see the engine power compared to Mercedes and Renault, we’re very close to Mercedes now, so that’s of course very promising for next year.”

Your career has progressed so quickly…

“Yes, looking back at my debut with Toro Rosso, it’s almost as if I don’t really remember those first test days, you know? It has all been really quick, but luckily in a positive way; I’m still 22 and in my fifth year in Formula 1, on 100 races, so I can’t complain. But of course you get used to the situation, and now I just want more, to do more races, but also I want to win, and I want to win championships. Honestly, I don’t really think about [the past] any more. But when you look back on it, there are nice memories. I’m almost an old-timer at 22!”

What’s the best advice you ever received from your father [ex-F1 driver Jos Verstappen]?

“He gave me a lot of tips – good and bad! Always stay with two feet on the ground, be yourself. Yeah, that is the most important: be yourself, don’t change. Obviously you get older and naturally do change a little bit, but always remember who your real friends are. That was good advice. Be careful, too. But we love racing, you know, and racing can still be a lot safer than driving through the city.”

Casualties of Red Bull

Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Mark Webber… they all soared on Red Bull’s Formula 1 wings. But the roster of those who plummeted after racing for the energy drinks brand is longer. Remember these names?

Christian Klien: The Austrian drove for Jaguar before Red Bull bought and renamed the team. Scored 11 points in two seasons (2005-06) before losing his seat.

Vitantonio Liuzzi: Highly rated Formula 3000 champion who raced for both Red Bull in 2005 and sister Toro Rosso team in 2006-07, but shone more for Force India in 2010.

Scott Speed: A rare American in F1, but he failed to live up to his great name in 2006 and ’07 at Toro Rosso. Replaced mid-season by some chap called Vettel.

Sebastien Bourdais: Four-time Indycar champion who deserves to be better remembered in F1 terms. The trouble was he found himself teamed with that man Vettel at Toro Rosso.

Jaime Alguersuari: Replaced Bourdais mid-2009 to become F1’s youngest GP starter (until Max Verstappen came along). Lasted three seasons at Toro Rosso, then left motor racing to become a DJ…

Sebastien Buemi: Team-mate to Alguersuari and another to fall through the cracks. Has since turned his significant talents to Le Mans success with Toyota and Formula E in which he won the title in 2015-16.

Jean-Eric Vergne: Like Buemi, deserved better from F1. After Toro Rosso, he’s reinvented himself in sports car racing and is Formula E’s current double champion with DS Techeetah.


Has Max Verstappen grown too big for his boots?

New power generation: The young drivers making their mark on motorsport

Why Leclerc must be prioritised at Ferrari

News, 11 Dec 2019 06:01:22 +0000
Morgan ditches traditional ladder chassis for next-gen frame
The old and the new: the CX platform sitting alongside the long-used steel chassis
British maker will build cars on a light CX-generation chassis, after using time-honoured ladder ones for 83 years

Morgan will next year end production of its models built on a simple steel ladder-frame chassis, a system it introduced 83 years ago with its first four-wheeled model, called the 4/4.

In recognition of modern customers’ need for greater road ability, even in traditional sports cars, the company plans to replace the outgoing models – the 4/4, Plus 4 and Roadster – with “a range of models” that will utilise versions of the light and rigid CX-generation chassis it introduced with the Plus Six early this year.

“We recognise a need for a more resolved core product that meets both our customers’ needs and future legislative requirements,” said Morgan CEO Steve Morris. “The advanced engineering of the new platform is a vital underpinning for the next generation of Morgan sports cars.”

The chassis decision is part of a suite of changes and improvements that follow the purchase of the Malvern Link sports car company by Investindustrial, an Italian private equity firm that is also a major shareholder in Aston Martin.

Developments include the opening in a few weeks of a modern and extremely spacious engineering and development centre (dubbed M-DEC, for Morgan Design and Engineering Centre) on a new site close to its Pickersleigh Road base.

“We need space to work on new projects,” said chief designer Jon Wells. “It has to be away from the suppliers and visitors who visit us nearly every day,” added Morris. “So we’ve made it close, but separate.”

Work is also about to begin on a major refurbishment of the Pickersleigh Road visitors’ centre, which annually greets 30,000 people, each of whom pays £24 for an expertly guided two-hour tour. Tours will stop between now and March, but the new, improved centre will be back in action by spring next year.

For now, Morgan is extremely secretive about the exact specification of its forthcoming new models, though it is believed most will maintain Morgan’s classic look. More details are likely to be available next March at the Geneva motor show, which the company traditionally attends.

Next year’s offerings are understood to include a model priced below the Plus Six’s £77,995, powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged engine – whose supplier is still secret – and mated to a manual gearbox. Company insiders confirm that the new car will be launched next year, though they won’t yet specify date, name or price range.

The performance and all-round capability of the Plus Six has proved so good that Morgan bosses regard it as a spiritual successor for the potent Plus 8 of former times, rather than the V6 Roadster.

Morgan says it won’t immediately abandon its traditional ladder chassis, however. Next year marks the 70th anniversary of the Plus 4, currently the company’s biggest seller, and designers are already laying plans for a small-run special edition.

“We’ll take the opportunity to mark the significance of the outgoing traditional steel chassis and its contribution to the marque,” said Morris. “It has been an integral part of the Morgan story and we look forward to celebrating its significance during the year.”


Morgan Plus Six is marque's first all-new model in 19 year

Morgan plots range expansion after major investment

Morgan boss on how investment will boost company

News, 11 Dec 2019 00:01:24 +0000
Limited-run Jaguar XE Reims Edition revealed Jaguar XE Reims Edition Special edition of Jaguar's smallest saloon will be limited to 200 units

The limited-run Jaguar XE Reims Edition is the first in a series of so-called ‘Jaguar Factory Specials’ which will each feature bespoke details.

The XE Reims Edition is named in celebration of the Jaguar D-Type’s maiden victory in 1954 at the 12-hours of Reims and uses the maker’s French Racing Blue paint, previously only used on extreme models such as the limited XKR-S and XFR-S.

Offered exclusively with the P250 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol engine in R-Dynamic S guise, the XE Reims Edition will feature, alongside the blue paint, a black roof, black mirror caps, black sill inserts and 19in gloss black alloys.

Other standard features include privacy glass, badge deletion, heated seats and Cold Climate pack that includes heated windscreen, heated steering wheel, and headlight washers.

The 200-unit limited edition follows the launch of the updated standard XE in February. The refresh included a tweaked design, better-equipped interior and a package of driver-oriented instruments, controls and technology originally brought to market by Jaguar’s I-Pace.

The Jaguar XE Reims Edition is priced at £38,295, £3740 more than the XE’s starting price.

Jaguar will be hoping the XE Reims Edition bolsters sales across the board for its smallest saloon, which has been struggling in recent years. In 2016, 24,461 units were sold in Europe, while in 2018, only 10,877 units were sold. By comparison, there were 106.991 BMW 3 Series sold in Europe last year.

The Jaguar D-Type’s maiden victory in 1954 at the 12-hours of Reims was piloted by Ken Wharton and Peter Whitehead completing over 2,000km at an average speed of 105mph. 


Updated Jaguar I-Pace gets range and battery capacity boost

Two new compact Jaguar SUVs on the cards, tipped to use BMW platform

2020 Jaguar F-Type revealed with revised looks, no V6 engine

News, 11 Dec 2019 00:01:24 +0000
Best lease deals of the week: Fast saloons Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio - fast saloons Want a sharp, swift drive? Check out these rapid saloons

Leasing can be an affordable, practical route into having your own private car, but it's not always easy to tell the good deals from the duds. 

The experts at our sister magazine What Car? work hard to find you the best pay-monthly schemes, taking into account mileage allowance, montly outlay, contract length and initial deposit. We'll be bringing you the best deals they find from a different segment each week.

This week, it's fast saloons: 

1. Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.9 V6 Quadrifoglio

£4373 deposit, £729 per month, 48 months, 8000 miles per year​

Not as vocal as a Merc-AMG or as sharp through turns as a BMW M4, but this is the one we’d take – while turning a blind eye to its cheap-feeling interior.

More Alfa Romeo lease deals

2. Mercedes-AMG E63 Premium

£7919 deposit, £1320 per month, 48 months, 8000 miles per year​

More power than you could possibly need, but then it wouldn’t sound so heroic and nor would it go so fast (where permitted). It’s a big saloon but you’ll be surprised by its agility. Its quality is less surprising.

More Mercedes lease deals

3. Mercedes-AMG C63 S

£6252 deposit, £1042 per month, 48 months, 8000 miles per year

Here that AMG engine note is the soundtrack to an easy-to-drive super-saloon with sublime steering and a perfectly balanced chassis. Likes going sideways, too, as visitors to Mercedes Brooklands will know.

More Mercedes lease deals

4. BMW M5

£5071 deposit, £845 per month, 48 months, 8000 miles per year

What it lacks in aural drama the M5 makes up for with astonishing all-weather traction, incredible straight-line performance and impeccable build quality. And for all its power, it’s as easy to drive as a regular 5 Series.

More BMW lease deals

5. Audi RS3 TFSI Quattro 

£3484 deposit, £581 per month, 48 months, 8000 miles per year 

Audi’s charismatic five-pot, grippy four-wheel drive and peerless build quality combine to create a sports saloon of real distinction. It’s not the most fun you can have on four wheels but it’s not far off it.

More Audi lease deals

6. Audi S4 TDI Quattro

£3066 deposit, £511 per month, 48 months, 8000 miles per year

The S4’s hearty diesel is a perfect fit, while four-wheel drive keeps everything pointing the right way. The gearbox could be sharper, but cabin quality is all you’d expect. Just go easy on the options.

More Audi lease deals

For more great personal & business lease deals visit What Car? leasing


Top 10 best super saloons 2019

A picture history of fast Audi estates

Are we now in the age of the hyper-saloon?

News, 11 Dec 2019 00:00:01 +0000
Autocar magazine 11 December Christmas double issue - on sale now Autocar magazine 11 December - on sale now In this week’s bumper double issue: Audi Sport goes electric, Mercedes-Benz GLE driven, Christmas cars of the year road trip and much more

An exclusive story leads this week’s news section: Audi Sport is set to finally embrace electrification, with its first ever electric model, the E-tron GT RS, expected to debut next year.

With roots in the E-tron GT concept unveiled at last year’s LA motor show, the sister car to the Porsche Taycan could be joined by as many as three electrified RS models in the future. Find out which ones in the bumper double issue, on sale from today.


Audi isn’t the only brand plotting a new performance model: McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray is preparing a production version of his revolutionary T50 hypercar concept. Featuring a pathbreaking giant fan to improve downforce, the T50 promises to revolutionise the hypercar landscape, and looking mightily attractive while doing it when it arrives in 2021. We’ve got the technical details.

Morgan has chosen innovation over tradition, swapping its traditional ladder-frame chassis for an all-new platform after 83 years, and BMW has reaffirmed its commitment to a controversial recent style shift. We also broke the news that billionaire Lawrence Stroll is eying a major stake in Aston Martin.


Two high-riding Mercedes-Benz SUVs are the stars of this week’s first drives section. The GLE 350de Coupe was a late entrant to an increasingly competitive class, but an eye-catching design and strong electric-only range mean that it has plenty to make rivals think about. Those wanting power will want to read our first impressions of the AMG GLE 53 Coupé.

We also drive the diesel version of the eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf, which benefits from new technology and a welter of TDI torque, then get sporty with Audi’s RS Q3 Sportback, finding a lithe-handling crossover that more than justifies its RS credentials.


It’s an extra thick festive issue this week, which means doing things a little differently for the traditional Christmas road test. This year’s unusual test subject? The world’s fastest tractor. The JCB Fastrac is big, yellow and does 150mph.

But that’s just the starter of a bumper feast of features. We got the party started with… the road tester’s Christmas party. Our festive testers are reunited with their favourite cars of the year, before arguing who brought the best one over a decadent table of grub. Then, James Ruppert goes in search of the perfect Yuletide used car - anything goes as long as it’s good value and has a sizeable engine.

While our resident Bangernomics guru is scouting out the market, Colin Goodwin has been granted a day of leave. Editor Mark Tisshaw gives Goodwin 24 hours to go wherever and drive whatever he wants: join Colin in a Chevrolet Camaro for his grand day out.

Not to be outdone by Goodwin’s travels, Richard Webber plots an odyssey of his own. Charged with building an alternative Christmas hamper, our man tours his 5 Series from Edinburgh to London in search of the perfect spread.

Elsewhere, Rachel Burgess and Ben Summerell-Youde team up to design Santa a car-themed sleigh, while Jesse Crosse also samples a different style of driving - he’s profiling the cult of Tamiya, legendary makers of remote-controlled cars.

Also in this issue: we drive a tank, make glasswork with Volvo, round up our snappers’ favourite photos from 2019 and a whole lot more.


Steve Cropley rounds up another year spent on the automotive frontline, counting through his stars of 2019. Aston CEO Andy Palmer, entrepreneur Mate Rimac and fellow hack Andrew Frankel all make an appearance, not to mention his loyal readers. Elsewhere, Matt Prior tips his hat to the latest Fast & Furious film, but can’t resist a moan about the durability (or lack of) of modern tyres.


When not hunting for big-engined performance thrills for his Christmas special, James Ruppert has been turning his gaze to hybrids, which are gaining in popularity on the used market. Saloons woo his attention in particular, with the S-Class and 5 Series the pick of the bunch. In our nearly-new guide, it’s the turn of the stylish and spacious Renault Captur. Okay, so it’s no driver’s car, but the French SUV makes a strong good as new buy. Meanwhile, we sniff out a 993-generation Porsche 911 in our used guide. A serviceable 933 is a grand prize, but be sure to do your homework before buying.

Where to buy

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Autocar magazine is available through all good newsagents. You can also buy one-off copies of Autocar magazine from Newsstand, delivered to your door the morning after.

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News, 11 Dec 2019 00:00:00 +0000
Porsche Taycan 4S 2020 review A Taycan for the very well off rather than the unfeasibly wealthy, yet which in almost all normal usage is as good as a Turbo, if not better If you’re interested in buying a Porsche Taycan, it is the one you should look at first. And then ask yourself a very serious question: what is the extra £32,000 or £55,000 required to upgrade this Taycan 4S to a Turbo or Turbo S actually buying you? If the answer is a slug more power you may never use, a load of equipment you might never spec and a boot badge for which you give not two hoots, do yourself a favour and spare yourself the money. I would suggest that for most prospects, or at least those who can stomach the opprobrium of friends and colleagues when they see – oh the shame of it – that it’s not the top model, this Taycan 4S is for now the Taycan au choix. The one you should buy. And the only non-neg option should be the performance plus battery at £4613. That buys you a 93.4kWh battery compared to a 79.2kWh unit, which not only provides additional range, but faster charging and better performance. So it’s a win, win, win.And even this (for now) entry-level Taycan will still hit 62mph in four seconds flat, and because electric cars deliver their torque instantly, even that can be quite an uncomfortably rapid experience. It will do rest to 100mph in 8.5sec, for goodness sake, and I’m old enough to remember when that was a perfectly passable 0-60mph time.Put it this way: in all remotely normal use, this poverty-spec Taycan will still accelerate you from any speed you’re at to any speed you could want at any rate you might choose.Like the Turbo and Turbo S, it comes with an electric motor at either end of the car and four-wheel drive as a result. Unlike all other EVs, it shares their 800V electric infrastructure. It even sits on triple-chamber air springs at each corner and has Porsche’s PASM adaptive dampers as standard.Such similarities might lead you to suspect that a Taycan 4S powertrain is, in reality, that of a Turbo or even a Turbo S with only a line of pesky software holding it back: crack the code and a 740bhp Taycan 4S can be yours. Sadly not: The 4S has a smaller rear motor than either of the Turbo twins, and before you start thinking you could still turn a Turbo into a Turbo S, think again: the Turbo has the same 300-amp front inverter as the 4S, while the Turbo S has a 600-amp inverter. So now you know.First Drive, 10 Dec 2019 23:01:23 +00002020 Audi RS5 gains refreshed design and new tech 2020 Audi RS5
'Implied' air intakes hark back to the legendary Audi Quattro
BMW M4 rival is final RS model to be facelifted with overhauled infotainment and more aggressive styling

Audi has updated the RS5 Sportback and coupé with tweaked styling and an overhauled infotainment system, just six months after the current model first arrived in UK dealerships.

The BMW M4 rival follows in the footsteps of its RS4 and RS7 siblings in gaining a revised front end, which features reshaped air intakes and an enlarged grille for a more aggressive look. Audi says that the three implied air vents above the grille - similar to the current A1 supermini - are inspired by the 1984 Audi UR Quattro.

As with other recently refreshed RS models from Audi, the RS5’s wheel arches have been extended by 40mm, while optional darkened headlight bezels further differentiate the performance model from the standard A5. The rear end has been subtly updated, as well, featuring a reshaped diffuser which can be specified in a range of contrasting colours. 

As well as the styling changes, the RS5 also gains two new colour options for 2020 - Turbo Blue and Tango Red - with three new sets of 20in wheels available in black or bronze. 

The two-door coupé variant now features a carbonfibre roof panel which, Audi says, brings the model’s kerb weight down by roughly 4kg. 

Inside, the outgoing RS5’s rotary infotainment controller has been replaced by a free-standing 10.1in touchscreen, equipped with Audi’s new MMI acoustic response technology and tilted towards the driver for ease of use. An optional ‘navigation plus’ package brings an additional RS-specific monitor which displays live temperature, acceleration and tyre pressure data. 

The RS5’s 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 is unchanged, and still sends 444bhp and 443lb ft to all four wheels. Audi claims a 0-62mph time of 3.9 seconds and a top speed of up to 174mph for both bodystyles. 

UK pricing for the new RS5 will be announced in the new year, but a starting price in Germany of €83,500 suggests we’re likely to see a slight increase over the model’s current £68,985 price tag. 

Read more

Audi updates RS4 Avant with more aggressive styling for 2020​

Audi RS7 Sportback 2019 review​

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News, 10 Dec 2019 15:23:02 +0000
Opinion: The T50 is special; it needs special owners, too T50 render
How Gordan Murray's T50 could look, according to Autocar
McLaren F1-inspired hypercar offers a radically different experience from mainstream rivals. Owners must understand its unique charms

Gordon Murray’s T50 is one of those special supercars that will need owners who take the trouble to understand it.

It’s quite different from most rivals in performance and price: you’ll search in vain for a touchscreen and the same goes for 'driver aids'. This is an unashamedly analogue car and, according to its creator, all the better for that. Which is why he’s keen to get to know his owners as individuals: they’ll be buying an experience quite different from that offered by the bigger, more complex breed of modern hypercars.

The dividend cited by Murray, who masterminded the McLaren F1, is efficiency in all its forms: great packaging efficiency, superior aerodynamics and lightness. When you build a car that undercuts the featherweight McLaren F1 by 120kg, you get towering performance for the available power, plus great agility and great braking – all of it on sensibly sized tyres. And all of it in a package that offers great visibility and that fits easily on the road.

What you don’t get is power everything. Or next-generation infotainment. Or godawful synthesised engine noises piped through a hi-fi so powerful it could shout your house down. Neither do you get exaggerated air-collecting ducts and scoops all over the body. The T50 just doesn’t need them.

Instead, you get purity in a traditional shape. You get logic and functionality. You get efficiency at the top of the scale. The T50, for all its stupendous performance, might strike some people as just too sensible. Even so, Murray is rightly confident that many more than the 125 well-heeled owners he seeks will know authenticity when they see it.


McLaren F1 successor T50 set for 2020 debut

Under the skin: How Gordon Murray's T50 V12 will peak at 12,000rpm

Gordon Murray to launch McLaren F1 successor in 2022

Exclusive: Gordon Murray tells Autocar about his 2022 hypercar

Opinion, 10 Dec 2019 15:01:25 +0000
Gordon Murray's McLaren F1 successor set for 2020 debut Gordon Murray Design T.50 rear official render
Official image shows the T50's prominent rear-mounted fan
Named T50, the radical £2.3m three-seat ‘fan car’ with a 12,400rpm V12 will be launched next May

Gordon Murray plans to unveil a production-spec version of his revolutionary T50 ground-effect ‘fan car’ in May.

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.

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.

Under a deal just announced, the 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 and is powered by a bespoke mid-mounted normally aspirated 4.0-litre V12, built by Cosworth, producing around 650bhp.

The engine revs to 12,100rpm, with a 12,400rpm hard limit, which will make it the highest-revving road car engine yet built. Experimental versions are running at full speed on the dynamometer and said to be producing exhaust notes whose quality very much matches the high output.

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.


Exclusive: Gordon Murray tells Autocar about his 2022 hypercar

Gordon Murray receives CBE for 'services to motoring'

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News, 10 Dec 2019 15:01:25 +0000
Mercedes-Benz GLS 400d 2019 review Mercedes-Benz GLS 400d 2019 UK first drive review - hero front S-Class of SUVs packs a wonderfully refined and powerful diesel powertrain, but ride foibles undermine its appeal somewhat This big beast is the third-generation version of the Mercedes-Benz GLS, née GL. Mercedes likes to think of it as the S-Class of its SUV range, and in terms of the sheer size of the thing, it would seem Stuttgart hasn’t skimped on the brief. At 5.21 metres, it may not be quite as long as, well, a real S-Class, but it’s easily the largest SUV to wear the three-pointed star, full-on G-Class (a comparatively tiny 4.6m) included.Earlier this year, we drove the new GLS for the first time in Utah, where its fairly ginormous footprint was, understandably, not much of a problem. Now, though, the flagship SUV has touched down in the UK, and its chances of blending in to its surroundings have been significantly reduced. Still, with the Range Rover, Audi Q7 and (to a lesser extent) BMW X7 now a fairly common sight on our cramped roads, the GLS won’t exactly be alone in its endeavours. This particular GLS is the 400d, which, in the grand scheme of obnoxiously large SUVs, at least uses a reasonably sensible engine. It’s a 2.9-litre six-cylinder diesel, paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission to deliver its 326bhp and 516lb ft to the road via all four wheels. Slightly less sensible options will arrive next year in the form of a six-cylinder petrol and an AMG GLS 63. No doubt the latter will cost roughly the same to run as a stately home.Unlike the GLS 580 we drove in the States, UK versions of the GLS miss out on Mercedes’ trick E-Active body control system, opting instead for standard adaptive air suspension. Prices start at £75,040 for the AMG Line Premium model and move up £91,540 for the AMG Line Premium Plus Executive.First Drive, 10 Dec 2019 13:01:22 +0000Mercedes-AMG GT R Roadster 2020 UK review Mercedes-AMG GT R Roadster 2019 UK first drive review - hero front Combining AMG’s more focused dynamic set-up with the lesser capable of two bodystyles makes for compromises Onwards, friends, leaving no niche unturned, just as much in the super-sports car category as Mercedes is doing in the small family car segment. This is the Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster in ‘R’ form and it takes the GT’s total number of derivatives to 16, across the two-door sports car’s coupé and roadster derivatives.The R Roadster is one of the weirder ones in the line-up because if you imagine a Porsche 911 GT3 RS Convertible, that’s kind of where we are. The R Roadster has the second-most-focused GT chassis set-up (behind only the GT R Pro) and is meant to be a Nürburgring monster, but here comes with a soft-top body, which, you’ll know, usually means some dynamic compromises.The aerodynamic, mechanical and dynamic specifications of the R Coupé and Roadster, then, are similar. There’s a big fixed wing (which looks a bit odd on the roadster), a 577bhp/516lb ft tune for the 4.0-litre V8, adjustable dampers, active rear steer and a wider track than on the GT C, the next model down in the range. The R’s roof and body strengthening are the same as other GT roadsters, meaning a three-layer fabric hood and a kerb weight some 80kg heavier than the R coupé’s, leaving it at 1710kg. That is the first reason why this is a curious derivative: if you want the best driver’s variant of a car, adding 80kg to it is not usually how you’d go about it.Reason two is that in removing the fixed roof, there’s always some compromise in body stiffness. Unless, say, you have a carbonfibre tub like McLaren does, and which this Mercedes doesn’t.First Drive, 10 Dec 2019 11:17:23 +0000Promoted | The CUPRA Ateca: in one lap We asked a pro driver to describe what it’s like to drive CUPRA’s performance SUV. The twist: he had just one lap of Anglesey to tell us. Cue the action…

The CUPRA Ateca has re-defined the style, comfort and pace you can expect from a performance SUV. We’ve already found out what it’s like to drive the CUPRA on one of Britain’s most scenic and demanding roads. We’ve also got the verdict of our Autocar and What Car? readers.

But what is the story of the technology that underpins the CUPRA Ateca’s stunning acceleration and grip? We gave former rally driver Andrew Coley the keys to the CUPRA Ateca and an empty Anglesey circuit on which to show us. But, with a lot to say, and just one hot lap in which to say it, he knew he’d have to talk fast…

To learn more about the CUPRA Ateca, head to

Fast off the line

It all starts with stunning acceleration off the line. The CUPRA Ateca’s advanced 2.0-litre TSI turbo petrol engine delivers 300PS and 400Nm of powerful torque. Working with a dedicated launch control mode, it helps the CUPRA Ateca reach 62mph from a standstill in just 4.9 seconds – even in the atrocious wet weather of Anglesey. 

It’s challenging conditions like these where the CUPRA Ateca’s advanced 4Drive (all-wheel-drive) delivers real confidence – analysing the road in real-time and diverting power to the wheels that need it most, even as the CUPRA’s LED headlights carve our path through the Welsh gloom.

Add in a seven-speed DSG gearbox that has been engineered for faster, smoother and sportier precision shifts on the way to a top speed of 152mph, and it’s only a few seconds before we’re approaching the first turn – the tight Banking Hairpin.

Sharp into corners

Large Brembo brakes provide powerfully precise and accurate stopping power into this challenging turn, while the independent front suspension with MacPherson struts and the multi-link rear suspension offer crisp levels of grip for a more confident turn-in.

Through the bend, adaptive Dynamic Chassis Control delivers enhanced stability and response as the CUPRA Ateca’s weight shifts from front to rear, with 4Drive enhancing the grip under acceleration out towards Church Corner.

A brief lift through Church, and we’re onto the School Straight with just a few seconds to admire the view and appreciate the sporty rumble echoing from the CUPRA’s quad exhaust before another big brake into the Rocket Hairpins.

Responsive handling

The double-switchback of Rocket provides another challenging test for the CUPRA Ateca’s brakes, suspension and handling – a hard stop into a tight left, followed by an immediate switch to a fast right.

But, with the drive mode switched to the performance-focused CUPRA mode – Comfort, Sport, Snow, Off-Road and a customisable Individual mode are also available – we’ve got the confidence of a sharper throttle response and more responsive handling. And that raucous exhaust note to keep a smile on our face.

Through the twists of Peel and Corkscrew, and we’re onto the Tom Pryce Straight. There’s finally time to enjoy the cossetting surroundings of the CUPRA Ateca’s stylish interior. 

Stylish and comfortable

There’s that large panoramic sunroof that brings extra light into the cabin – even on an overcast day like today – and the copper-stitched Alcantara sports seats that offer firm support in the bends and cossetting comfort on the straights. Gloss black and carbon fibre effect surfacing completes the premium feel. 

In front of you, a large crisp customisable high-res digital dashboard and the advanced 9.3-inch central touchscreen for the media system work together to let you blend 3D navigation with music and apps from compatible Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphones. 

Alternatively, you can pick more performance-focused dials, such as a prominent rev counter or a G-force meter – perfect for measuring the braking and cornering forces through the sharp hairpin that takes you back down the run to Bus Stop.

Just a few more seconds to appreciate that stunningly precise and powerful braking, the confident grip through the final turn, and the burst of acceleration onto the final turn – all accompanied by the burble of the quad exhaust – before our lap is done, and the story of the CUPRA Ateca is told.

To learn more about the CUPRA Ateca, head to

News, 10 Dec 2019 11:15:49 +0000
Volvo V90 and S90 range to be updated with mild-hybrid tech Volvo V90 facelift spyshots front Swedish brand's flagship saloon and estate will join XC90 with a raft of revisions, including more electrified variants

Volvo is planning a mid-life refresh of its S90 and V90 large saloon and estate ranges, and winter testing shots show the models with minimal disguise.

We can see that external changes will be subtle, given the development team hasn’t really bothered to disguise these prototypes. If you look closely you can see tape obscuring the lower grille and bumper details, suggesting small cosmetic tweaks, but otherwise it appears that the S90 and V90’s design won’t be altered greatly. 

There will be more significant revisions under the skin, however. Chief among which will be the adoption of 48V mild-hybrid technology, already found in the refreshed XC90 and XC60, across most of the line-up. 

The system combines a 48V battery with an integrated starter/generator and energy recovery system, capturing kinetic energy during braking or coasting and using it to boost overall efficiency. It’s expected that, instead of the ‘T’ and ‘D’ badges to signify petrol and diesel variants, both fuel types will be badged ‘B’, with B4, B5 and B6 variants found in the XC60. 

Further changes are likely to be incremental, with equipment upgrades across the line-up and small revisions to the car’s infotainment software. The T8 plug-in hybrid is expected to carry on unaltered, but Volvo could introduce a more sportily tuned ‘Polestar Engineered’ model to top out the range. 

Given the timeline of the facelifted XC90, first launched in 2015, expect the three-year-old S90 and V90 to be updated in the middle of 2020 and go on sale towards the end of the year.


Volvo XC90 B5 R-Design 2019 review

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News, 10 Dec 2019 07:01:24 +0000
Opinion: F1's young guns have Hamilton in their crosshairs
Verstappen and Leclerc: the biggest threats to Hamilton
Which of the generation Z talents will make Hamilton generation ex?

As Lewis Hamilton moves inexorably towards Michael Schumacher’s seven world titles and 91 grand prix victories, where is the next-gen challenge coming from? Is Ferrari the biggest threat to Hamilton and Mercedes? Or is it Red Bull-Honda?

In Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, both teams have outstanding young talents. You’d have to favour Verstappen simply because of the intra-team situation. There’s no doubting where Red Bull’s effort will go, no disrespect to Alex Albon.

Verstappen, at 22, is blindingly quick. Five years into his Formula 1 career, it’s now three-and-a-half seasons since he won his first GP. He’s ready. And on the evidence of the season’s final grands prix, so too is Honda.

At Ferrari, there’s a problem. Leclerc is quicker than Sebastian Vettel. But there’s not much in it. Going to the final round, Leclerc had seven pole positions to Vettel’s two, but his average qualifying pace advantage was just 0.07sec. At Mercedes, Hamilton has qualified 0.18sec quicker than Valtteri Bottas over the season. At Red Bull, Verstappen had 0.57sec in hand over the demoted Pierre Gasly and 0.4sec advantage since Albon arrived.

F1 history is littered with examples of two number ones in the same team winning most battles but losing the war. In 1973, Ronnie Peterson and Emerson Fittipaldi won seven races for Lotus, shared four to three, but let in Tyrrell’s Jackie Stewart to win the championship with five.

In 1986, Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet shared nine wins, five to four, for Williams-Honda, but when Mansell’s tyre blew in that memorable Adelaide finale, Alain Prost retained his world title for McLaren, with four. A bit more recently, a warring Vettel and Mark Webber at Red Bull would have conceded the 2010 championship to Fernando Alonso but for a Ferrari strategy cock-up in the final round.

Hamilton and Mercedes very rarely drop the ball. If Ferrari is going to compete, it probably needs to prioritise Leclerc. But how does Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto explain that to a 53-race-winning four-time world champion?

At ‘Next Gen 2’ level, some have waxed lyrical about the 2019 rookies (Albon, Lando Norris, George Russell and Antonio Giovinazzi) being the best crop ever.

That’s stretching things a bit. The more geriatric among you will be yelling: hang on, what about Jim Clark and John Surtees in 1960? The slightly sprightlier will be pointing out that Michael Schumacher and Mika Häkkinen, who arrived in 1991, can boast nine championships between them. And even that record was knocked over this year by the class of 2007, Hamilton and Vettel, now with 10.

But there’s no denying the quality of the season’s debutants. Russell is the hardest to judge because his Williams has been woefully uncompetitive. It badly lacks downforce, so for Russell to miss out on Q2 by five-hundredths at twisty Hungary of all places, and lap quicker than both Racing Points and a Renault, was a standout effort.

He has white-washed Robert Kubica in qualifying by the biggest margin between team-mates across the grid. I struggle writing that because Kubica’s F1 comeback, eight years after his awful rallying accident, was truly gutsy. The late Niki Lauda, who saw Russell’s testing performances in the Mercedes, had him down as a future world champion.

Although an average qualifying deficit of just over half a second to Russell might not look great, we may end up looking back on it as far better than appreciated. After all, Senna/Prost was billed as one of sport’s greatest rivalries, yet Prost’s average qualifying deficit over two seasons at McLaren was bigger, at 0.67sec…

At Red Bull, Albon raised eyebrows, not least Verstappen’s, when he went to Suzuka for the first time and equalled Verstappen’s qualifying time down to the last thousandth. You can’t do things like that without real talent.

Over at McLaren, Norris’s early-season form was so impressive that McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown snapped him up for a three-year contract extension in early July.

Carlos Sainz, a man who pushed Verstappen when they were Toro Rosso teammates, has been an average of just 0.03sec quicker than Norris in qualifying – the tightest margin across the whole grid. The pair have forged the closest thing you’ll get to a friendship in an F1 paddock.


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Opinion, 10 Dec 2019 06:01:24 +0000
James Ruppert: Creativity is king for eye-catching used car ads
This kind of shot is far more enticing than on a driveway
Advertisers need to channel their inner Mad Men if they want their handiwork to stand out in the classifieds

Selling a car, as you frequently tell me, is a complete and utter faff. Not only do you have to cope with the great unwashed coming round to your gaff, kicking the tyres and probably slagging the car off, but they don’t want to pay your asking price, either.

Oddly enough, I was talking about all this the other day and what’s missing from most adverts is presentation. A car, even a nominally interesting one, needs to have a twist. Plus it needs to be properly presented and realistically priced. So let’s see if there are any particular private ads out there that catch our interest.

I only have to rewind to the previous week where I spotted an otherwise unremarkable 2006 Ford Fiesta ST at £2500: the presentation was uniformly excellent. First, the seller had taken loads of pictures, to a decent quality, and it was expertly posed to the extent that it could have been an Autocar feature star. The icing on the ST cake was refurbished alloy wheels. Your eye was drawn to that detail. Feeding the Fiesta inner geek was an extensive description that included ‘Mountune exhaust upgrade’. Excellent.

The Range Rover Evoque, meanwhile, is a vehicle that is bought for style rather than purpose. Yet 99% of the adverts I looked at had them parked in their natural habitat, the suburban executive home estate drive. I looked twice at a 110,000-mile 2013 2.2 SD4 Pure Tech, though. That was partly because it was on grass and some point stone. Yes, it had strayed off Tarmac. The background was trees. Lovely. The ad also mentioned alloys, 22in ones. They had been kerbed, but there was a ton of detail, which I liked. No doubt about the damage at all, plus some bodywork nicks were highlighted. Maximum points for accuracy. The actual description was a bit sparse but, hey, pictures tell you more than boring old words.

Convertibles should never be tucked up in a garage or on a drive. That’s why the seller of a 2011 80,000-mile Mini Cooper SD Convertible had not only cleaned it thoroughly but also made a trip into the countryside to take uncluttered, decent-quality pictures in the wild. What’s more, the description was both comprehensive and enthusiastic. The seller channelled their inner road tester, actually describing it as a fun drive and I quote: “The Mini has been a dream car for the past couple of years and makes me smile every time I drive it.” That’s how you do it, folks.

How not to do a car advert is absolutely everywhere. Simply avoid doing what everyone else is doing on that Faceache Marketplace thing or Flea Bay site. Good luck.

What we almost bought this week

Peugeot 406 2.0 HDI SE Estate: One owner, full service history and a recent cambelt change – what’s not to like about this 120,000-mile, 2003-reg 406 wagon, described as being in good condition? Agreed, a same-age Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Vectra have bigger business ends but the 406’s lower loading height and wide-opening tailgate let you make better use of what space there is.

Tales from Ruppert's garage

Land Rover Series 3: The Lorry is back with a fresh MOT and some new parts. Up front, there are new hubs, so at least it won’t keep dripping on the drive. It has been a bad year for the Lorry dripping on the drive and brake fluid was just as bad as the petrol. Being a British Leyland product from the early 1980s, oil leaks are a given.

The Lorry is back to work because I’ve gutted a bathroom and getting rid of the evidence at the local tip has been a doddle. Another year of work, rest and not much play lies ahead.

Reader's ride

Audi A2: Steve is back after showing us his Audi A4. “I’ve been after this A2 for about a year and the owner eventually agreed to sell. I’ve always fancied an A2 because of the heritage and the space inside and the fact that Audi lost money on each one. My A2 was not much money but has a few bits broken, which means searching eBay etc. All part of the fun. And £30 tax is surprising. Also, some parts from Audi are cheaper than online.

“The car is a 2004 TDI 90 with 115,000 miles. I bought it from someone who has owned it for the past five years. There are a few issues, such as a broken rear light, a bonnet that needs respraying, various broken trim pieces, a chipped windscreen and cracked oil filler pipe. All will be fixed.”

Readers' questions

Question: I’m in the market for a new VW Golf 1.5 petrol. Should I wait for the all-new model or buy a current Mk7 now? Molly Clarke, Tonbridge

Answer: I suspect that if you’re buying new, you want the latest model or else why bother? So the Mk8 it must be. It has pretty much the same engine, chassis and dimensions as the Mk7 but more technology and an updated look. However, if you suspected that there’s money to be saved by buying a Mk7 over a Mk8, you’d be right. We’ll assume you’re financing it on a PCP, in which case VW is offering a £1500 deposit contribution and finance at 3.8%, plus discounts of around £2700. Push hard and you’ll get a Match Edition with Winter pack, heated seats, LED headlights and dual-zone air-con for the same price as a Match. JE

Question: What’s the safest thing to do if you break down on a smart motorway? Rob Parkin, via email

Answer: Highways England (HE) says that if you aren’t in a refuge area, you should get out of your car and wait behind the safety barrier, if there is one, and well clear of the car. But it also says that if there is no barrier, you should stay in your vehicle with your seatbelt on and dial 999. HE says it monitors motorways constantly and would close the lane and direct help to you. But an HE report admitted it takes on average 17min for the agency to identify a broken-down vehicle in a live lane. You better buckle up securely. JE


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Range Rover Velar gains R-Dynamic Black Limited Edition Range Rover Velar Black Edition Land Rover will release 500 Black Edition cars, which have dark gloss and interior enhancements

Land Rover has launched an R-Dynamic Black Limited Edition of its Range Rover Velar SUV, introducing an extensive black finish and interior add-ons to the standard car.

The limited-edition variant, of which only 500 will be produced, is based on Land Rover’s D180 R-Dynamic SE Velar.

As well as the black look, the model is also available in metallic grey. Other exterior features include tinted windows and a panoramic glass roof.

The Black Limited Edition rolls on 21in gloss black alloy wheels. Adaptive Dynamics suspension, optional for the entry-level Velar, comes as standard on the dark-set car.

Inside, the interior is decked out in ebony-coloured leather, complemented by an ebony headlining and a heated steering wheel.

The new Velar retains the 2.0-litre diesel powertrain of the D180 R-Dynamic SE. It produces 177bhp, which is delivered through an automatic gearbox to all four wheels. The benchmark sprint of 0-62mph is achieved in 8.4sec and the top speed is 125mph.

Jaguar Land Rover UK managing director Rawdon Glover said: “The Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic Black builds on Velar’s sophisticated design package, enhancing it for a customer who is looking for an element of differentiation. We look forward to delivering the first limited editions in early 2020.”

Pricing for the Velar R-Dynamic Black Limited Edition, which can be ordered now, starts at £56,995 or £499 per month over a 48-month contract.


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News, 10 Dec 2019 00:01:23 +0000
Autocar confidential: Volvo's XC40 prophecy, Audi's favourite E-tron and more Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up a week in gossip from across the automotive industry

In this week's round-up of automotive gossip, we chat plug-ins with Nissan and hear from Audi's design boss on E-trons, Mercedes commits to Renault and friends and more. 

PHEV Juke nuked

Despite the second-gen Renault Captur offering a plug-in hybrid, the same can’t be said for the new Nissan Juke, which is built on the same platform thanks to the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. Nissan bosses refused to confirm a plug-in hybrid variant, questioning whether Juke customers would be willing to pay for the technology. The car is engineered to accept electrification, so a parallel hybrid system could be brought in from Japan.

Lichte picks Sportback; snubs E-tron

Audi design boss Marc Lichte would pick the E-tron Sportback over the E-tron. He said: “I have a big respect for BMW for coming up with the idea to combine a coupé with an SUV but, honestly, I don’t like it. We thought ‘how can we do this in a very attractive way?’ and you will see the E-tron Sportback [is the result]. I love it. We took the bottom part of the E-tron, cut the roofline and add the A7 roof. Very simple.”

In demand (probably): Volvo's XC40 Recharge

Henrik Green, Volvo's technical chief, “would not be surprised” if demand for the new XC40 Recharge EV exceeds the firm’s battery supply capacity “even though we have sourced more than we could dream about three years ago”. Green said Volvo has a production plan to meet its target of 50% of sales being EVs by 2025.

Mercedes dumps Twingo but won't go

Mercedes remains committed to its alliance with Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi. Its decision to sell a stake in Smart to Geely has signalled an eventual end of the joint venture to develop Smart cars and the Renault Twingo. But CEO Ola Källenius said: “The plan remains to co-operate wherever we see win-win situations for both sides.”


Nissan reveals electric IMk city car concept

Nissan 'to review future' of Sunderland plant in case of no-deal Brexit

Nissan Ariya concept previews crossover EV

News, 10 Dec 2019 00:01:23 +0000