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Driver Buddy automotive news

The latest news in the automotive industry

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JAGUAR: I-Pace gets faster charging and new tech

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-29 00:00

The Jaguar I-Pace has received a mid-life refresh bringing faster charging and upgraded technology to keep it competitive against rivals like the Mercedes-Benz EQC, Audi e-tron and Tesla Model X.

The updates include a spattering of new technology, faster charging capability and a few subtle styling upgrades. The car is available to order now, with prices starting at £65,195 – an increase of £600 on the outgoing model.

Jaguar

Inside, there’s the new Pivi Pro infotainment system (previously deployed in the new Land Rover Defender), with the ability to connect to two Bluetooth-equipped smartphones at the same time. Wireless phone charging with signal boosting is also offered, while the satnav learns your frequent routes and uses online data to find local charging stations – and advise their respective costs.

The new, standard-fit 11kW charging capability reduces the battery recharge time from nearly 13 hours to just over 8.5 hours.

Jaguar

Like many Jaguar Land Rover models, the I-Pace can now be specified with a ClearSight digital rear-view mirror. Using the rear-mounted camera, you get a clear view of what’s behind you, which is handy for when passengers or bulky cargo obscures the view. A 3D surround camera system is also now standard.

Jaguar has also introduced an upgraded air filtration system with an ioniser, which is said to capture ultra-fine particles and allergens. The system can filter the cabin air while the car is charging, ensuring it’s ready when you are.

Jaguar

Nineteen-inch alloy wheels replace the standard 18s on the range-entry model and additional paint colours are available. There’s a new ‘Bright Pack’ option with a handful of chrome and grey trim pieces, and another option package that adds black contrasting trim.


CITROEN: All-new C4 and e-C4 EV revealed

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-23 00:00

The 2020 Citroen C4 and e-C4 EV has been revealed. Gone are the librarian looks of the previous C4 – last updated in 2015 – as the all-new model has an eye-catching coupé-cum-SUV design, which is bang on trend in the current market. The internal combustion-engined C4 and its all-electric e-C4 will replace the C4 Cactus, which arrived on our shores in 2014.

Like the Cactus it replaces, it’s safe to say that the new Citroen C4 will certainly stand out, even against sharply styled rivals like the new Volkswagen Golf 8, Mazda’s new and sleek 3 and SEAT’s all-new Leon.

Citroen

At the front, the top rung of daytime running lights is slimmer than we’ve seen before. It also looks like there’s a second LED bar in the redesigned headlamp cluster, while the Citroen chevron badge continues into the grilles.

With the sculpted bonnet, razor-sharp body creases and a ‘floating’ roof, you could easily mistake the new C4 for a recently unveiled concept car. The eye-catching styling continues around the back; the tail-lights are joined by an LED light bar that connects to the spoiler mounted across the rear windscreen.

Electric Citroen e-C4 models are marked out by unique badging and blue accents on the front and sides. There are no exhaust pipes, and the charging port is located under the fuel filler cap.

Citroen

Inside, it’ll be luxurious rather than sparsely pared-back like the outgoing Cactus, with lots more soft-touch materials and proper door handles (as opposed to the fabric straps on the Cactus). There’s a new touchscreen with crisp graphics, a head-up display and a digital instrument cluster and it seems the climate control can now be changed using physical buttons as well as via the touchscreen. There also looks to be a wireless smartphone charger and a sunken rocker switch instead of a bulky gear lever for automatic models.

The new C4 will offer buyers the option of petrol, diesel and battery-electric power for the first time, making it a potential alternative to the new Volkswagen ID.3 hatchback, plus the ID.4 SUV and Peugeot e-2008.

Citroen

Citroen will reveal more details about the powertrains on 30 June but it may be safe to expect the e-C4 to come with the same 50kWh battery capacity as the Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Corsa-e. This should offer a range of just over 200 miles and 100kW rapid-charging capability, allowing 100 miles of range to be added in around 20 minutes. The Peugeot e-208 is fitted with a 134hp electric motor getting it from 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds.

Unlike the C4 Cactus that shared its PF1 platform with the Citroen C3 and C3 Aircross, Citroen said that the new C4 will ride on the smaller CMP platform already used for the Peugeot 2008 SUV and smaller Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa superminis. This is newer, more lightweight and flexible – and designed specifically to accommodate petrol, diesel and electric powertrains – all on the same production line.


MERCEDES-BENZ: EV charging service partners with BP Chargemaster’s POLAR network

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-16 00:00

Mercedes-Benz EQC all-electric SUV customers now have access to POLAR, the UK’s largest public electric vehicle charging network. Operated by BP Chargemaster, POLAR is now available along with other charging networks, through one optional subscription, via ‘Mercedes me Charge’.

A three-year subscription to ‘Mercedes me Charge’ comes as standard with the EQC, and due to the unique cooperation between Mercedes-Benz Cars UK and BP Chargemaster, ‘Mercedes me Charge’ customers in the UK can upgrade their basic plan to have access to a POLAR Plus membership (6 months subscription free). This membership provides the driver with a lower cost electricity tariff than on the basic option.

Mercedes

The EQC’s route-optimised navigation system calculates and directs drivers to their nearest ‘Mercedes me’ charge points, taking into account the remaining electric range. Customers can also use the voice-activated MBUX system to find charging locations, as well as their availability and electricity pricing.

Access to the charging stations is provided by the ‘Mercedes me Charge’ card, ‘Mercedes me App’ or via the vehicle's media display – and customers benefit from a payment function with billing managed through ‘Mercedes me’.

Jason Allbutt, Head of Product Management Mercedes-Benz Cars UK said “With the launch of our first EQ SUV, it was important to help consumers with public charging accessibility. With #Mercedes me Charge’, customers no longer need individual subscriptions to charging networks and can now access many charge points via the vehicle’s head unit or the ‘Mercedes me’ app.”

Mercedes

Matteo de Renzi, CEO of BP Chargemaster said “The POLAR network is the UK’s largest public charging network and is growing rapidly, with focus on providing a nationwide network of 150kW ultra-fast charging – all ideally suited to the EQC. BP Chargemaster’s partnership with Mercedes-Benz means customers can charge their EQCs via charging locations across the UK and at increasingly ultra-fast speeds. We continue to support EV drivers with their charging needs at home, at work and on the road, with all electricity usage on our public charging network certified as 100% renewable through REGOs.”

BP Chargemaster is also the Mercedes-Benz Cars UK preferred partner for customer home charging wall boxes, which are eligible for the government’s EV ‘Homecharge Scheme’ grant.


Volvo: Electric XC40 Recharge P8 now on sale

Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-04 00:00

The Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 is Volvo’s first battery electric vehicle (BEV) and will arrive in UK showrooms towards the end of this year. Initially only available in ‘R-Design’, more trim grades are expected to follow shortly after.

Its £53,155 OTR price means the Recharge just misses out on the £3,000 Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG), which now excludes cars that cost more than £50,000. First customer deliveries are expected to commence in early 2021.

Volvo

The all-electric XC40 becomes the second arrival from Volvo’s new sub-brand, called ‘Recharge’, after the recently launched XC40 T5 plug-in hybrid. All fully electric and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models will be positioned under the ‘Recharge’ name, separating them from conventional petrol and diesel models.

Sitting on Volvo’s Common Modular Architecture (CMA), which underpins all models in the XC40 range, the electric version has two electric motors, one on each axle making it four-wheel drive. It is powered by a 78kWh battery situated beneath the car’s floor. The claimed power output is rated at 402hp, giving a brisk 0-62mph time of 4.9 seconds.

The ‘P’ in the P8 designation refers to ‘Pure electric’ and the ‘8’ denotes a battery size of between 70 and 80kWh.

Volvo

Volvo claims the XC40 Recharge is capable of 249 miles on a single charge. Charging from an 11kW wallbox takes just under eight hours. A 150kW rapid charger, usually found at motorway service stations, gives a charge to 80% capacity in around 40 minutes.

Externally, the XC40 Recharge features subtle differences to the design of the petrol and diesel models with a blanked off front grille and ‘Recharge’ logos in the rearmost C-pillar. A new Sage Green metallic paint option is also available, bringing the colour palette up to eight choices alongside unique 19-inch and 20-inch alloy wheels options.

The lack of a conventional engine means Volvo has redesigned the XC40 Recharge to make it as safe as the conventional models. At the front, the crash structure has been completely redesigned and strengthened. The underpinnings at the rear have been revised, allowing Volvo to accommodate the electric motor without any loss of boot space. With no engine to package, Volvo has managed to create an additional 30-litre storage area under the bonnet – these days referred to as a ‘frunk’.

Volvo

The location of the battery pack under the cabin floor helps lower the car’s centre of gravity while improving handling and agility. Volvo’s new Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) safety suite is also featured, operating via a series of sensors located in the front grille.

Much of the interior cabin design of the XC40 Recharge is carried over from the regular XC40. A new Google Android operating system replaces the current infotainment setup and is the first time this system has been used in a Volvo model. It’ll install updates over the air, much like Tesla’s systems, so you’ll always have the latest software and up-to-date maps. The door linings and carpets are made from 97% recycled plastic bottles.

Volvo

Volvo’s latest version of its Pilot Assist technology will make its debut in the electric XC40. When turned on, the system takes over steering, acceleration and braking, and can be deployed on both motorways and in slow-moving traffic. With the new Google Android OS in place, the system uses Google Maps for speed limit and road layout information. There’s also a new Emergency Stop Assist function that warns the driver if they’re not holding the steering wheel. If several warnings go ignored, the car will slow down to a ‘safe stop’.

Volvo will offer financial incentives to encourage purchases from the Recharge model line-up. The Swedish brand is also tripling production capacity at its Belgian facility in Ghent, for an anticipated increase in demand for its BEV and PHEV models.


SKODA: Safety first in the all-new Octavia

Permalink - Posted on 2020-05-21 00:00

SKODA has revealed a range of safety features which are all set to make their debut in the fourth-generation Octavia, when it is released in UK showrooms this summer. The new technologies won’t just ensure safety for the driver of the vehicle but also other motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.

Turn Assist will be introduced for the first time in any SKODA and the Octavia is the first vehicle in its class to launch the innovative safety technology. Using the Octavia’s on-board cameras, the system monitors oncoming traffic when turning right at a junction as well as identify cyclists and pedestrians. If immediate danger is detected when executing a manoeuvre, the vehicle will be brought to a complete standstill, triggering the warning signal and preventing a possible collision.

Skoda

This advanced safety feature will be in standby mode every time the engine is switched on and is activated when the right indicator is on. While the indicator would demonstrate to other road users the intention of the driver, Turn Assist is able to ensure additional assistance so that any potential accident is avoided.

Another first to feature on a SKODA is the brand’s new Exit Warning technology, which is part of the Blind Spot Detection system and comes into effect when the car is parked up. Monitoring the rear and sides of the vehicle, the system warns the driver and other passengers when it may not be safe to open their door through the use of visual warning lights and sounding an alert, both of which will continue until the hazard has passed or if the doors remain open.

Skoda

Working on the front and rear doors, the alert will avoid passengers swinging their doors open and causing a possible collision with a cyclist – known as "dooring" – or any other road users.

The sophisticated cameras in the new Octavia are able to observe possible hazards to the rear of the vehicle up to a distance of 35 metres and at angle of approximately 120°, providing greater assurance for drivers and passengers on when it is safe to exit the car.

Complementary to both Turn Assist and Exit Warning is Collision Avoidance Assist. The front cameras of the vehicle are able to detect an impending accident and perform a controlled evasive manoeuvre around the hazard, be that other vehicles, a cyclist or a pedestrian. The system uses real-time data provided by the array of cameras and radars to calculate the most appropriate, and crucially the safest, trajectory around the potential danger. This calculation factors in the distance, width and position of the vehicle or obstacle ahead and the system will be able to perform this function at speeds of up to 90mph.

Skoda

Cyclists will further be protected by the Predictive Cycling Protection feature in the all-new Octavia which uses the front cameras and radar to trigger a cascade of warnings to the driver if a cyclist is detected ahead – and will even engage the emergency brakes if necessary to avoid any possible collision.


VOLVO : Next-gen Volvos to get Luminar LiDAR tech

Permalink - Posted on 2020-05-18 00:00

Volvo Cars has partnered with tech firm Luminar to provide their industry-leading LiDAR and perception technology for Volvo’s next generation cars.

The partnership is expected to deliver Volvo’s first fully self-driving technology for highways and paves the way for future active safety developments.

Volvo Cars’ next generation SPA 2 modular vehicle platform will be available as hardware-ready for autonomous drive from 2022 model production, with the Luminar LiDAR seamlessly integrated into the roof.

Volvo

Cars based on SPA 2 will receive over-the-air software updates and, if customers decide to opt for it, the Highway Pilot feature that enables fully autonomous highway driving will be activated once it is verified to be safe for individual geographic locations and conditions.

“Autonomous drive has the potential to be one of the most lifesaving technologies in history, if introduced responsibly and safely,” said Henrik Green, chief technology officer at Volvo Cars. “Providing our future cars with the vision they require to make safe decisions is an important step in that direction.”

In addition to the Highway Pilot feature, Volvo Cars and Luminar are also exploring LiDAR’s role in improving future advanced driver assistance systems, with the potential for equipping all future SPA 2-based cars with a LiDAR sensor as standard.

Luminar

Luminar’s technology is based on its high performance LiDAR sensors, which emit millions of pulses of laser light to accurately detect where objects are by scanning the environment in 3D, creating a temporary, real-time map without requiring internet connectivity.

LiDAR is key in creating cars that can navigate safely in autonomous mode, providing them with the reliable vision and perception that cameras and radar alone cannot provide. LiDAR is the ideal basis for safe decision-making in complex environments at high speeds.

To enable the Highway Pilot feature, Luminar’s perception technology will be combined with autonomous drive software and the cameras, radars and back-up systems for functions such as steering, braking and battery power installed on forthcoming Volvo cars equipped for self-driving. Put together, this gives Volvo users who want it access to a safe, fully self-driving feature for use on highways.

Luminar

“Soon, your Volvo will be able to drive autonomously on highways when the car determines it is safe to do so,” said Henrik Green. “At that point, your Volvo takes responsibility for the driving and you can relax, take your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel. Over time, updates over the air will expand the areas in which the car can drive itself. For us, a safe introduction of autonomy is a gradual introduction.”

As part of the announcement, Volvo Cars and Luminar are strengthening their collaboration to jointly ensure robust industrialisation and validation of Luminar’s LiDAR technology for series production. Volvo Cars has also signed an agreement to possibly increase its minority stake in Luminar.

For Silicon Valley-based Luminar, partnering with Volvo Cars represents the company’s first delivery of its technology into series production. This is a key step to achieving the economies of scale that are required to bring the technology to the wider automotive industry.

“Volvo is recognised as the pioneer of automotive safety, having driven standardisation across the industry for the most advanced life-saving technologies,” said Austin Russell, founder and CEO of Luminar. “The next era of safety lies within autonomous driving and once again, Volvo has taken the lead with a major industry milestone. We’ve solved the key cost, performance, and auto-grade challenges to make series production possible and alongside Volvo are making the technology available to the world,” he added.


POLESTAR 2: Matching performance with safety

Permalink - Posted on 2020-05-04 00:00

The Polestar 2 continues to spearhead the introduction and development of new technologies for the Volvo Car Group. It is the first fully-electric vehicle to be crash tested, the first to feature new Acoustic Vehicle Alert System (AVAS) technology and the first to be fitted with new front-inner-side airbags within the Group.

“Safety is of paramount importance for Polestar,” comments Thomas Ingenlath, Chief Executive Officer of Polestar. “We are directly linked to Volvo Cars and with that comes their famous reputation for outstanding safety technology. So of course, Polestar cars are designed to be amongst the safest in the world and we are really proud of that.”

Polestar

Protecting the battery pack in the event of a collision is crucial. Enclosed in an aluminium case for both protection and rigidity, the battery pack is fully housed within the floor structure of the CMA platform. This approach not only reduces the risk of damage and stiffens the body structure, but also protects occupants by keeping the battery intact in the event of a collision. The entire package has also been tuned to cancel certain vibrational frequencies, acting as a damper to reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).

In the event of a crash, the battery pack is automatically disconnected from the rest of the vehicle to ensure there is no live connection. Polestar 2 features the ‘SPOC block’ (Severe Partial Offset Crash) – a deflective solid aluminium block housed on the bottom edge of the front firewall on either side of the car, designed to minimise intrusion of the wheel and other objects into the cabin and towards the battery pack during partially offset frontal collisions. Increasing protection in the absence of an internal combustion engine, Polestar 2 also features a new Front Lower Load Path (FLLP) that protects occupants and the battery pack from more direct frontal impacts, for example with a pole.

To improve safety at slow speeds, Polestar 2 features unique and specially developed external sounds as part of its acoustic warning system. Designed to be recognisable, non-intrusive and natural-sounding, the Acoustic Vehicle Alert System (AVAS) has been engineered according to very specific parameters, with a pending patent.

Polestar 2 also features inner-side airbags fitted to the front seats. These new airbags, which are standard fitment in all markets, add an extra layer of protection for the inner limbs of the front occupants who are now individually protected from both sides, as well as from the front.

The safety arsenal of Polestar 2 expands beyond crashworthiness and audio warnings and debuts a new generation of Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) technology, which will make its way into other products from the Volvo Car Group as well. Pilot Assist is an advanced driver assistance system which provides acceleration, braking and steering assistance up to 80mph.

In its latest guise, Pilot Assist features location-based enhancements which adjust the amount of assistance in acceleration based on the car’s actual position. Detection systems for other vehicles in front, behind and in the blind spots of the car, as well as pedestrians and cyclists ahead of the car, are all coupled to steering assistance and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) to help ensure that interactions between other road users and Polestar 2 are kept as safe as possible at all times.


LAND ROVER: Two new plug-in hybrids launched

Permalink - Posted on 2020-04-28 00:00

Land Rover launches Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque PHEVs promising up to 201.8mpg and priced similarly to the rest of their respective ranges.

New plug-in hybrid powertrains have been introduced for the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque, promising an all-electric range of 41 miles. Both are available to order now.

Range

The petrol-electric unit, which is the same in both models, uses a three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine combined with an electric motor that sits on the rear axle. They produce a combined 305hp and 540Nm of torque.

Badged P300e, it promises impressive economy and low running costs. The Evoque emits 32-38g/km of CO2 and is capable of up to 201.8mpg and the higher 41-mile all-electric range, while the Discovery Sport emits 32-38g/km, is said to achieve 143.5-175.5mpg and travel up to 38 miles on electric power.

Infotainment

Both will appeal to business users with the Evoque eligible for a 6% benefit-in-kind (BIK) rate in 2020/21, rising to 8% in 2022/23. The Discovery Sport has a BIK rate of 10% rising to 12% over the same period.

On the performance front, the Evoque achieves a 0-60mph time of 6.1 seconds while the Discovery Sport takes 6.6 seconds. Both are capable of travelling up to 84mph on electric-only power.

Each model offers three drive modes, the default of which is Hybrid. This setting automatically combines the electric and petrol power as necessary, with the ability to intelligently mix power for maximum efficiency if a destination has been put into the sat nav.

Land

There’s also an EV mode to run solely on electric power and Save, which prioritises the petrol engine to keep the battery charged. This is handy for those that travel into low emissions areas and can ‘bank’ electric power for that part of the journey.

Land Rover says the 15kWh battery has been placed between the rear seats so that it doesn’t affect interior space and can be charged to 80% within 30 minutes at a 32kW public charger, or just under 90 minutes using the supplied 7kW home charger.


COVID-19: Drivers given six-month emergency MOT extensions

Permalink - Posted on 2020-04-20 00:00

COVID-19: Drivers given six-month emergency MOT extensions

Recently, the government suspended MOT tests across the UK for six months due to the coronavirus pandemic, after motorists expressed concerns over the consequences of not having a pass certificate due to MOT testing centres shutting down.

The Department for Transport (DfT) announced that all vehicle owners were to be granted the special dispensation from Monday, 30th March. Prior to the announcement, road users expressed concern that failing to have a valid MOT would mean they could not legally drive their cars as they could not apply for car tax or insurance.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency had previously put a three month exemption in place for heavy goods vehicles and buses but faced calls to extend this to cars. The six month extension will mean cars and vans can continue to use the road even if their MOT has expired.

Car repair and maintenance garages will remain open to ensure all vehicles are “kept in a roadworthy condition, which drivers still have responsibility to ensure”, the government said. It will help key workers such as those working in healthcare and food supply service to keep going to work during the crisis.

In a statement, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We must ensure those on the frontline of helping the nation combat COVID19 are able to do so. Allowing this temporary exemption from vehicle testing will enable vital services such as deliveries to continue, frontline workers to get to work, and people get essential food and medicine.

“Safety is key, which is why garages will remain open for essential repair work,” he said.


Vauxhall’s new all-electric Corsa-e

Permalink - Posted on 2020-04-16 00:00

The all-new, all-electric Corsa-e features a range of up to 209 miles (WLTP) and is available to order right now. The Corsa-e is assembled on the same lines as petrol and diesel variants of the sixth-generation Corsa at the Zaragoza plant in Spain, where the Corsa has been built since the first generation was launched in 1982.

By 2024, Vauxhall will have an electrified version of every model in its vehicle range – with the Corsa-e the brand’s first-ever all-electric vehicle.

The all-new Corsa-e – like the regular Corsa – features IntelliLux LED matrix lights, while standard safety and driver assistance kit include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane keep assist and traffic sign recognition.

Available in two trim levels – SE and Elite – the Corsa-e comes standard with satellite navigation, automatic climate control, electric parking brake and keyless entry/go. Drivers also receive a seven-inch colour touchscreen and a digital cockpit as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Vauxhall

Prices for the Corsa-e start from £28,315 which gets you the 7.4kW SE. If you’re after the 11kW SE, then be prepared to pay an additional £850. Stepping up to the better-equipped 7.4kW Elite costs £30,960, while the larger battery of the 11kW Elite is priced at £31,810. All prices are ‘on-the-road’ after the government’s £3,000 plug-in grant.

With a range of up to 209 miles under WLTP testing, the 50kWh battery supports up to 100kW rapid charging, with an 80% charge taking just 30 minutes and is covered by an eight-year/100,000 mile warranty.

To optimise battery range, drivers can choose from three driving modes – Eco, Normal and Sport. Eco extracts the maximum range from the vehicle, extending it by up to 40%. Sport promotes responsiveness and driving dynamics with a subsequent range loss of around 10%. Normal mode offers the best solution for balanced, day-to-day driving.

Vauxhall

The 136hp electric motor provides nippy performance and 260Nm of seamless and instant torque, the all-new Corsa-e combines entertaining, emission-free driving. As is common with all fully-electric cars, the Corsa-e features regenerative braking to recover kinetic energy released under braking and deceleration.

The 50kWh battery supports domestic 3-pin plugs, a wall box and rapid-charging technologies and is guaranteed by an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty. For owners wishing to charge at home, a ‘Mode2 cable’ compatible with domestic 3-pin sockets can be purchased as an optional extra, capable of supplying up to 3.4kW.

Vauxhall

A 7.4kW ‘Mode3 cable’ which is supplied as standard, supports fast charging. With a length of six metres, the cables are long enough to enable connection with public charging stations that are not necessarily right next to the vehicle. Every Corsa-e also supports CCS rapid-charging at speeds up to 100kW – enabling an 80% charge in as little as 30 minutes. 

The ‘universal charger’, which is available to purchase as an accessory, combines the functions of ‘Mode2’ and ‘Mode3’ cables in a single device. With infrastructure-specific adapters, this allows charging at nearly all local plug sockets and public charging stations. The ‘universal charger’ is therefore ideal for customers who usually charge at home, but occasionally make longer journeys and need to recharge on the road.

Vauxhall

Corsa-e drivers can check the current state-of-charge, energy consumption and range via a separate menu displayed on the infotainment touchscreen. Customers also get a six month subscription to the Polar Plus charging network, after which a monthly charge of £7.85 is made.


CUPRA: 3D printing deployed for car development

Permalink - Posted on 2020-04-02 00:00

At CUPRA – the performance arm of Spanish automaker SEAT – a team of innovative engineers is transforming the way vehicles are developed by printing car parts.

CUPRA is using state-of-the-art, multi-jet fusion technology to fashion parts in a fast and efficient way. For its new Leon Competición racing car, engineers at CUPRA have 3D printed the model’s door mirrors, air intakes and cooling intakes.

Cupra

The technique enables the manufacturer to reduce the vehicle’s fuel consumption while also increasing stability, speed and safety – vital in both motorsport and road car applications.

The process of printing a mirror can take around 20 hours, but CUPRA can print six at a time, giving the team the ability to create different designs simultaneously. This means CUPRA can quickly test the varying prototypes in a wind tunnel to find out which is best for aerodynamics.

Cupra

When taken to this controlled environment, the printed parts are fitted to the car and face winds of more than 180mph while sensors study the impact on individual surfaces. The car's resistance data is displayed on screen where engineers and designers compare the results for the different printed parts.

As the smallest margins can make the difference in motorsport, it is crucial the 3D printed parts play their part in reducing fuel consumption while also increasing stability, speed and safety.

Xavi Serra, head of technical development at CUPRA Racing, said: “For the new CUPRA Leon Competición, we modelled the steering wheel's centre control module, the bonnet air vents, door mirrors and the brake and water-cooling inlets.

Cupra

“The main goal is to have a lot of parts in a short time. We can quickly test a wide variety of designs and furthermore, this technology enables us to react swiftly to any changes in the design process.

“The bigger the variety of parts we can test in this facility, the better. It enables us to make much faster progress. The results were excellent and some were even surprising, because we were looking to push the material to its limits.

“This technology is and will continue to be key in countless fields to make the most complex ideas a reality.”

Cupra

The final development of the 3D printed parts was on a racing circuit, with CUPRA testing the Leon Competición on the Portimao track in Portugal.

So far, CUPRA has been printing parts for its Leon Competición – its 180mph 335hp, 2.0-litre touring car inspired by the new SEAT Leon family hatchback – and the e-Racer, an electric touring car which does 0-60mph in 3.2 seconds.


2020 road tax changes for cars, vans and motorcycles

Permalink - Posted on 2020-04-01 00:00

Car tax changes for 2020 come into effect today, Wednesday 1st April and will introduce a widespread package of updates to all vehicle owners.

At the top, the bottom line is that most new car owners will pay more tax from today 1st April, but electric car owners – both new and existing – pay zero, saving many around £1,600 over five years.

Tax rates are based on their CO2 emissions for the first 12 months on the road, after this the rate will remain as a flat annual fee. For petrol or diesel cars, this will be £150 per year. For hybrids and alternative fuel cars like liquid petroleum gas (LPG), this will be £140 per year. Fully-electric cars and cars like the hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai pay £0.

Road

Fossil-fuelled car tax – what are the changes? 

The Chancellor's recent budget confirmed car tax rates for non-electric vehicles will be increasing under the new updates. VED costs will increase from today, although heavy goods vehicles will be exempt to support the sector. 

The budget statement said: “The government will uprate VED rates for cars, vans and motorcycles in line with the Retail Price Index from 1st April 2020.”

Vehicle emissions will be calculated using the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) for the first time from 1st April, 2020. The WLTP service offers a more realistic reflection of overall emissions levels which is likely to reposition your vehicle into a higher tax band. 

Electric car tax – what’s the deal there?

Those with an all-electric car will receive further tax breaks which will remove all car tax charges for owners of zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) from 1st April. However, costs are set to rise for other vehicle owners as the government attempts to coerce drivers over to electric vehicles.

From 1 April an added charge paid by owners of expensive electric cars will be removed meaning there will be no car tax fees whatsoever for electric car owners. This final £320 charge was only paid if your vehicle was valued at over £50,000, but this has now been axed. 

The budget said: “From 1 April 2020, the government will exempt all ZEVs registered until 31 March 2025 from the VED ‘expensive car’ supplement. The measure will incentivise the uptake of ZEVs to support the phasing out of fossil-fuelled petrol and diesel vehicles.”

Zero

Company car tax has changed, too. What’s new? 

To further increase sales of fully-electric cars the government has decided to completely scrap benefit-in-kind rates for company cars with effect from 6th April, 2020. The updates mean car tax paid by business people through a salary sacrifice scheme will fall from 16 per cent to zero. 

These changes will see costs axed for popular EV’s such as the Tesla Model 3, Nissan Leaf and Renault ZOE, if they are purchased on finance deals. 

The elimination of benefit-in-kind tax is predicted to trigger an upsurge in company cars and boost electric vehicle sales in the UK. 

Does the electric plug-in grant still exist? 

The electric car plug-in grant remains but at a slightly lower price than from previous years and with a price cap introduced. Plug-in grants will now offer motorists just £3,000 (formerly £3,500) towards the price of a new fully-electric car and road users will be unable to claim the money if the car costs above £50,000.

However, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has previously warned the grant would not be around forever as he urged motorists to snap up the deal.

The switch from NEDC to WLTP

If you’re unfamiliar with how car tax is calculated: the amount of tax you pay is based the vehicle’s CO2 emissions. Bigger and more powerful engines tend to produce higher levels of CO2, and so you pay more tax on them. That will all remain the same; what’s changing is how those CO2 emissions are measured.

Increases in measurements of the CO2 that cars emit are the result of changes to the official test. Instead of the previous unrealistic (and much-maligned) ‘New European Driving Cycle’ (NEDC) ratings, the more pragmatic ‘Worldwide-Harmonised Light vehicles Test Procedure’ (WLTP) has been adopted. Here are the reasons why the change…

* NEDC CO2 values: The NEDC test didn’t strain the engine while undergoing testing and was open to a number of potential loopholes, including: The test is conducted with air conditioning, lights and heated windows off, thereby improving efficiency and reducing CO2.

There is a tolerance for the testing to be carried out at 1.2mph below the required speed, meaning less fuel is used. Roof rails, extra lights and even the door mirror on the passenger side are allowed to be removed. This makes the car lighter and, therefore, more fuel-efficient. As the car was not strained, and manufacturers were known to have used these loopholes (and many more) to get better fuel economy, it meant that official CO2 values were kept artificially low.

As first year tax is based on official CO2 rates, it means we have technically been paying more favourable rates than we should have done.

* WLTP CO2 values: New generations of cars released after 1st September 2017 are now tested using the WLTP system. All remaining new cars have had to go through the WLTP as of 1st September 2018. The WLTP closed all the known loopholes with the NEDC and is a much tougher cycle. This means that fuel economy and CO2 figures from this test are higher and more realistic.

Despite this new test being introduced in 2018 for all cars, the CO2 figures you see in car brochures and dealerships – and which are used to set first-year tax rates – are the WLTP CO2 figures converted to NEDC figures. That means we’ve continued to pay tax rates based on lower-than-realistic CO2 measurements. But that has now come to an end.

As of today, 1st April 2020, CO2 values displayed in brochures and used to set first-year tax rates for new cars will be the direct WLTP results.

Used car tax – the lowdown…

If you’re buying a used car – which could be anything from a month old to over 50 years old – what you pay depends on when the vehicle was first registered and which set of rules it falls into.

  • If your used car was registered after 1 April 2017: You will pay the ‘second-year’ rate – so £150 for petrol or diesel, £140 for alternatively-fuelled cars (include hybrids, bioethanol and liquid petroleum gas) and £0 for fully-electric. The £320 supplement for cars that cost over £40,000 will apply every year until the car is six-years-old.
  • If your used car was registered between 1 March 2001 and 31 March 2017: Car tax will be calculated solely on the vehicle’s CO2 emissions. 
  • If your used car was registered before 1 March 2001: Car tax in this category is refreshingly simple; you pay £165 for 12 months if the vehicle’s engine is 1,549cc or smaller, and cars over 1,549cc pay £270. Your vehicle handbook will tell you the exact capacity of your engine.


2020 Kia Sorento – UK engines and interior tech confirmed

Permalink - Posted on 2020-03-24 00:00

Fourth-generation Kia Sorento will get hybrid and diesel power with a plug-in hybrid following later this year.

Full details have been made available of the engines, interior tech and chassis of the forthcoming 2020 KIA Sorento, with the Korean manufacturer confirming that the latest iteration of its range-topping SUV will go on sale in autumn of this year.

This fourth-generation Sorento will initially be available with petrol-hybrid and diesel engines, with a plug-in hybrid powertrain joining the line-up in late autumn.

Kia

A turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor producing a combined 227hp make up the Sorento’s hybrid powertrain, sending power to one or both axles via a six-speed automatic gearbox. A new turbocharged 2.2-litre diesel engine – which KIA says is 19.5kg lighter than its predecessor – produces 199hp and features an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The Sorento can be ordered with four-wheel drive as an option and all models feature a new ‘Terrain Mode’ engineered to ensure the car can cope with light off-roading. Performance, fuel economy and emissions figures will be confirmed later nearer the car’s launch.

While full specs have yet to be confirmed for the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model that will join the line-up later in the year, it is likely to get a more powerful electric motor giving it an output of around 265hp. It will also get a larger battery pack, giving it an estimated pure-electric range of 35-40 miles.

Kia

The car’s design is significantly more chiselled than the previous model. The front gets a distinctive front grille, which is flanked by narrow LED headlights and LED daytime running lights and there are new LED rear lights too. Elsewhere, the bodywork has black cladding together with silver scuff guards on the lower front and rear bumpers.

Kia

Inside, the new Sorento features updated technology, including a new eight-inch infotainment screen powered by KIA’s UVO app interface and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, both of which are incorporated into one large trim piece. A larger 10.25-inch infotainment display is available on the options list. Wireless smartphone charging along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are standard on either-sized infotainment systems.

Kia

The revised dashboard features vertical chrome air vents and a new circular ‘rotary’ style gear shifter, and soft-touch leather covers the upper dash level and is complemented by the use of quilted leather trim in seat inserts. Leather-clad furniture will also feature, along with ambient mood lighting in the dashboard and door panels, and dual-zone climate control.

Depending on specification, the new Sorento offers various safety features, including autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with both pedestrian and cyclist detection. Other safety kit includes blind-spot detection/avoidance, surround view monitoring and intelligent speed limit monitoring. This system also scans for oncoming traffic when you turn out of a junction.

KIA’s smart active cruise control also features, along with lane following assist, which can accelerate, brake and steer to keep the car in lane via a series of bodywork mounted cameras and radar sensors.

Kia

The 2020 Sorento sits on an entirely new platform and gains around 10mm in length. The biggest difference is the car’s wheelbase, which has increased by 35mm. Legroom is improved in each row and the rearmost seats benefit from extra headroom. Seven-seat models offer a huge 821 litres of boot space, and it’s likely that any five-seat models will be even more generous. The plug-in hybrid will also be available as a seven-seater.

European spec cars will be available in a choice of 10 paint colours, with alloy wheel options ranging from 17 to 20-inches in size, but exact UK specifications will only be confirmed prior to launch later in the year.


BMW: Sleek, near production-ready i4 revealed

Permalink - Posted on 2020-03-18 00:00

The BMW Concept i4 previews the forthcoming 2021 BMW i4 and boasts a 523hp electric powertrain and a range of 373 miles.

BMW has taken the covers off the Concept i4, an all-electric coupe-style concept car with a range of 373 miles. It is effectively a preview of the ‘almost production-ready’ i4, BMW’s first four-door electric saloon scheduled to arrive in 2021.

BMW

The final production i4 model is likely to look very similar to this concept car, but the final design, price and specifications will be confirmed in due course but we already know that the i4 will slot in between the i8 supercar and the i3 hatchback in BMW’s electric model range.

The Concept i4 features the fifth-generation eDrive battery technology by BMW, with an 80kWh battery providing a claimed range of 373 miles. BMW says that the car’s battery features an ‘extremely slim’ design and weighs only 550kg. The car produces 523hp and is capable of 0-62mph in four seconds with a top speed of 124mph.

The Concept i4 shares its underpinnings with the forthcoming BMW 4 Series Coupe and features a number of styling tweaks hinting at its electric powertrain, including larger kidney grilles at the front, blanked-off air vents in the front bumper, narrow LED headlights and blue contrast detailing.

The interior features a large curved display housing the digital instrument cluster and infotainment screen. BMW has already confirmed that this setup will be used on the forthcoming electric iNEXT SUV as well as the i4.

BMW

As is the current norm, the touchscreen controls nearly all of the car’s functions, including the climate control, satnav and stereo. BMW’s iDrive rotary control dial is still present on the centre console, suggesting that owners will have the option to use physical controls if they prefer. BMW has also done away with a gear lever for the concept, replacing it with a toggle shifter. There’s also a start/stop button and drive mode buttons labelled ‘Efficient,’ ‘Core,’ and ‘Sport.’

BMW

The cabin features a four-seat layout, with seats trimmed in sustainably sourced materials, including microfibre and natural leather. Elsewhere, bronze detailing is dotted around the dashboard and door panels.


AUDI reveals S version ‘drive concepts’ of its E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback

Permalink - Posted on 2020-03-11 00:00

Audi has revealed two ‘drive concept’ cars that could essentially be more powerful versions of its E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback in the form of sportier and more performance-oriented ‘S’ models.

The regular E-Tron’s two-motor setup has been increased to three, with one powerful motor located on the front axle helped by two additional motors at the rear. Combined, they produce 496hp and 973Nm of torque when at full boost during eight-second periods when the driver pushes the accelerator past a certain point. During normal driving, the combined output of the motors is 429hp and 808Nm.

Audi

The S models are able to access 91% of on-board battery power, compared with 88% on the standard car. Though Audi hasn’t released official figures on battery mileage range, it’s likely that the added weight of the additional motor will have a slight effect on how far each of the cars can go on a single charge. The regular E-Tron offers a range of between 209 and 280 miles, depending on model.

The electric S models can be charged with up to 150kW of DC power, which translates to a charge time of just half an hour from five to 80%. Facilitating such a rapid charge rate is a thermal management system with a standard heat pump, which cools and heats the battery, the interior and the electric motors with four circuits. In addition, the Audi models will also be able to charge with up to 11kW of AC current.

Audi

The two E-Tron S models also benefit from retuned steering, a stiffer suspension setup with firmer bushings and wider tyres for enhanced grip and agility over the regular E-Tron models.

They also receive brake-based torque vectoring technology and larger six-pot brake calipers. The discs themselves have also been beefed-up to give better performance. Regenerative braking systems are incorporated too, capable of capturing up to 270kW of energy in a regeneration-only stop from 62mph.

Though Audi is calling these new cars ‘drive concepts’, there is a strong likelihood that they will enter production. However, no official release date for the cars has yet been forthcoming.


Virtual Geneva Motor Show Round-Up

Permalink - Posted on 2020-03-11 00:00

Despite the cancellation of the 2020 Geneva Motor Show, car manufacturers have still been busy unveiling their latest creations and sharing them online. Read on for Driver Buddy’s round-up of the newest models from Aston Martin, BMW, Honda and more.

CUPRA Formentor

CUPRA

The first stand-alone model from CUPRA is a four-wheel drive coupe-crossover. It is available with either a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine putting out 306bhp, or a plug-in hybrid powertrain producing 242bhp.

Morgan Plus Four

Morgan

In a first for Morgan, the Plus Four is powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The old model’s steel ladder chassis has been replaced by the bonded aluminium platform first used on the Plus Six, but the new car retains the narrower body associated with four-cylinder Morgans.

Skoda Octavia vRS iV

Skoda

The Octavia vRS iV is Skoda’s first plug-in hybrid performance car. With a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine and an 85kW electric motor providing 243lb ft of instant torque, the Octavia is capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds, yet also emits just 30g/km of CO2.

Audi A3 Sportback

Audi

Priced from £24,900, the fourth generation Audi A3 will initially be available with turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel engines, both producing 148bhp. Audi’s configurable digital instrument cluster, or ‘virtual cockpit,’ is fitted as standard, as is a 10.1-inch touchscreen display.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Mercedes-Benz

The face-lifted E-Class is available with a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine equipped with 48-volt ‘mild hybrid’ technology. An integrated starter-generator provides an additional 20bhp and 132lb ft of torque.

BMW Concept i4

BMW

The Concept i4 gives an insight into the production version of the BMW i4 due to be launched in 2021. The four-door Gran Coupe produces 523bhp from its electric motor and has a range of 373 miles.

Honda Jazz

Honda

The new Honda Jazz will be offered in Europe solely with a hybrid powertrain, consisting of two electric motors and a 1.5-litre petrol engine. A new ‘Crosstar’ variant brings SUV styling to Honda’s B segment hatchback.

Bentley Bacalar

Bentley

The Bacalar represents a return to coachbuilding for Bentley’s Mulliner division. The two-seat, open top ‘Barchetta’ uses sustainable materials in its construction, including a wraparound dashboard made from Riverwood that has been naturally preserved for over 5000 years.

Pininfarina Battista Anniversario

Pininfarina

As birthday presents go, a special edition of a 1874bhp electric hyper GT isn’t a bad one. Built to celebrate 90 years since Pininfarina was founded, the Anniverario has a new livery, more downforce and a higher 217mph top speed compared to the ‘regular’ Battista.

Lexus UX 300e

Lexus

The UX 300e is Lexus’s first fully electric car. The compact SUV is expected to have a range of more than 186 miles when it goes on sale in January 2021.

Hyundai Prophecy

Hyundai

It wouldn’t be a motor show, even a ‘virtual’ one, without a futuristic concept car with some unusual technology. As well as demonstrating Hyundai’s latest design language, the Prophecy is controlled with two joysticks located on the centre console and door trim.

Aston Martin V12 Speedster

Aston

Despite being developed in just over 12 months, the V12 Speedster has its own platform and a unique body that goes without a roof or windscreen. What it does borrow is the 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12 engine from the DBS and DB11, here with an estimated 705bhp.

DS 9

DS

A large saloon with a 2.9 metre wheelbase, plug-in hybrid powertrains and an active suspension system that responds to the road ahead, the DS 9 is the French brand’s new flagship model. It offers up to 31 miles of all-electric range.

Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport

Bugatti

The latest version of the Chiron has been designed to optimise the car’s handling. With a 50kg weight reduction, increased downforce, closer gear ratios, revised suspension setup and grippier tyres, on a winding road or racetrack the Pur Sport is likely to be the fastest Chiron yet. 

BAC Mono

BAC

The second generation of BAC’s single-seater road car features a turbocharged engine for the first time. Producing 332bhp in a car that weighs just 570kg, this gives the Mono a power to weight ratio of 582bhp-per-tonne. 

For more coverage from the ‘Virtual’ Geneva Motor Show, check out our article the ‘Virtual’ Geneva Motor Show big reveals, featuring new cars from the likes of Alfa Romeo, McLaren and Porsche.


'Virtual' Geneva Motor Show - The Big Reveals

Permalink - Posted on 2020-03-07 00:00

The cancellation of this year’s Geneva Motor Show following the coronavirus outbreak has given rise to a new phenomenon – the ‘virtual’ motor show. Rather than unveiling their latest models on a stand full of journalists, manufacturers streamed their own ‘digital’ press conferences to show off their new products. From this flurry of launches, Driver Buddy brings you ten of the big reveals…

Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA

Alfa

Alfa Romeo’s Giulia saloon was a long-awaited return to form for the Italian brand, so the prospect of a lighter, more powerful version is mouth-watering indeed. The Giulia GTA gets a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 that produces 533bhp, an increase of 30bhp over the Giulia Quadrifoglio, while a 100kg weight reduction has trimmed the GTA’s total mass to 1520kg. A stripped out GTAm version, with a roll bar replacing the rear seats and more extreme aerodynamics, is also available.

Dacia Spring Electric Concept

Dacia

The Spring Electric Concept previews what Dacia claims will be “Europe’s most affordable all-electric vehicle.” The production version will have a range of over 124 miles when it is launched in the first half of 2021. Not only will it be Dacia’s first electric car, it will also be the first city car in the Dacia range.

VW Golf GTI

VW

For hot hatch fans, the eighth generation Golf GTI was the big news from VW’s press conference. The new model is powered by a 242bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed manual gearbox or an optional seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Design highlights include an illuminated radiator grille and fog lights integrated into the honeycomb air intake. Also joining the Golf line-up are the hybrid GTE (with an identical power output to the GTI) and the diesel-powered GTD.

VW ID.4

VW

Traditionally, a new Golf GTI would be one of VW’s most important model launches. But given current market trends, arguably the company’s biggest announcement was that it will be launching its first electric SUV later this year. Called the ID.4, it is based on the same MEB platform as the electric ID.3 hatchback, and has a claimed range of up to 310 miles.

McLaren 765LT

McLaren

Extra power probably isn’t something the McLaren 720S needed, but that’s what this new ‘Longtail’ version gets. Its 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 now produces 755bhp and 590lb ft of torque, propelling the 765LT from 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds and 0-124mph in 7.2 seconds. It should make quite a noise, too, thanks to a quad-exit titanium exhaust system that contributes to an overall weight saving of 80kg. Despite these impressive numbers, McLaren’s chief test driver Kenny Brack claims the 765LT is “not all about performance,” with linear and predictable dynamics helping to create a “natural and seamless” feel to the way it drives.

Porsche 911 Turbo S

Porsche

The Porsche 911 Turbo S is known for its blend of performance and usability, and the latest 992 generation looks set to continue that trend. Available as a Coupe and Cabriolet, it has a 3.8-litre twin-turbo flat six generating 641bhp. With an eight speed PDK gearbox and all-wheel drive, the Turbo S should have no problem making the most of that power, as demonstrated by its 0-62mph time of 2.7 seconds.

Koenigsegg Gemera

Koenigsegg

Koenigsegg claims to have created the world’s first “Mega-GT” with its latest creation, the Gemera. It’s a genuine four-seater with – wait for it – 1700bhp and 2581lb ft of torque. Generating those enormous figures is a hybrid powertrain comprising a 2.0-litre twin-turbo three-cylinder engine and three electric motors. Yet the Gemera is also practical, with a range of 621 miles (including 31 miles on electric power alone) and space for four full-size carry-on suitcases. Not only that, the Gemera’s environmental credentials can match those of a full EV – when running on the right renewable fuel, it’s capable of being CO2 neutral.

Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut

Koenigsegg

According to Christian von Koenigsegg, founder of the company which bears his name, the Jesko Absolut is “the fastest Koenigsegg we will ever endeavour to make.” The company currently holds the official record for the fastest production car of all time with the Agera RS, which achieved an average speed of 277.9mph. Koenigsegg has not revealed exactly how fast he thinks the Jesko Absolut could go, only saying the car has the potential to reach “unheard-of speed in record-setting pace.”

Fiat 500

Fiat

Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s (FCA) first electric car is the third generation Fiat 500. Sold exclusively with electric propulsion, the new 500 has a range of 199 miles. Using an 85kW fast charger, the batteries can be replenished to 80% capacity in 35 minutes. The Fiat 500 is also the first car from FCA to feature the group’s new connected infotainment system, which Fiat brand President Olivier Francois says is “iPhone fast.”

AIWAYS U5

AIWAYS

AIWAYS will be the first Chinese brand to bring an electric vehicle to Europe when sales of its U5 SUV start in August. However, the company’s operating model is perhaps just as interesting as the car itself. They plan to adopt an online, direct-to-consumer approach for sales, and will establish a network of partners to take care of test drives, servicing and other customer-facing activities.


2020 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 S 4Matic+ The world’s most powerful T2.0-litre!

Permalink - Posted on 2020-03-04 00:00

The 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 S 4Matic+ that was due to be revealed at the cancelled Geneva Motor Show this week, has been revealed online instead. It goes on sale in the UK in April and first deliveries for the high-performance compact SUV are expected in summer with a price tag in the region of £53,000.

Delivering 415hp on full whack from its 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, the GLA 45 S will be one of the fastest SUVs ever built. Aided by its sophisticated 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system, it can reach 62mph from a dead start in just 4.3 seconds, topping out to an electronically limited 168mph – which should be scary enough for most drivers.

Mercedes-AMG

A lesser-powered 387hp Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 will be available in other countries, but not in the UK.

The engine in the GLA 45 S is currently the world's most powerful 2.0-litre and is also wedged into the Mercedes-AMG A45 S hatchback. An eight-speed automatic gearbox is fitted as standard. Interestingly, the engine has been turned around by 180-degrees, so the twin-scroll turbocharger is now at the back and the air intake towards the nose, improving efficiency and allowing for a lower-profiled bonnet. 'Two-stage' fuel injectors have been fitted to keep up with the engine's inevitable thirst for fuel in the higher rev range.

In addition to the omnipotent powerplant, the suspension, brakes and steering have also gone under AMG's knife. An adaptive suspension system dubbed ‘AMG Ride Control’ will be fitted with three settings aimed at comfort and fast driving. Six-piston front brakes should provide more stopping power and can be easily spotted thanks to red painted callipers and black AMG lettering, while the steering has settings for relaxed and ‘enthusiastic’ driving.

Using the infotainment screen, drivers will also be able to switch between different settings for the ESP system for the first time. Labelled 'Basic', 'Advanced', 'Pro' and 'Master', the extra layer of customisation will range from preventing skids in the Basic mode, to allowing some oversteer in Master, which is best left for track use.

Mercedes-AMG

Exterior changes include bloated wheel arches, 19-inch AMG alloy wheels, LED headlights and a motorsport-style rear bumper diffuser, while a large rear wing will be optional. Inside there's a Nappa leather sports steering wheel and sports seats with contrasting yellow stitching.


Jaguar Land Rover reveals its electric urban mobility concept – and plans pilot for 2021

Permalink - Posted on 2020-02-24 00:00

Shared transport services are expected to play a key role in mobility within large congested cities. Several automakers are preparing for this scenario and have started studying specific cars.

One such automaker is Jaguar Land Rover, which recently unveiled Project Vector as part of the company’s Destination Zero initiative, offering its vision of an autonomous, electric and connected future for urban mobility.

JLR’s Destination Zero mission is an ambition to develop safer and healthier societies and make the environment cleaner. Delivered through continuous innovation, the company’s focus is to achieve a future of zero emissions, zero accidents, and zero congestion, through its products and services in all its facilities.

Jaguar

The Project Vector prototype shows an advanced, versatile, and multi-purpose electric vehicle designed to offer maximum space and comfort for passengers. The sliding doors facilitate easy boarding and the cabin is quite spacious thanks to the vehicle’s boxy profile.

The compact and flexible prototype shown in the images measures only four meters in length and is designed for the city, with all its battery and transmission components located under the floor. The interior space of the cabin allows seat configurations for private or shared use and even the option of commercial uses, such as urban deliveries.

As evidenced by the presence of the steering wheel, there is no autonomous driving initially, but JLR has prepared the Project Vector vehicle to accommodate sensors and cameras as soon as it is ready. The concept has been developed at the National Automotive Innovation Centre in Coventry.

Jaguar

While initially a development concept, Project Vector was never meant to stay on paper. The company says it will work together with the Coventry City Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority to deploy a pilot mobility service using the Vector, commencing as early as late 2021, which it says will act as a ‘living laboratory for future mobility on the streets of Coventry’.


E.ON and VW co-develop new solution for ultra-fast charging EVs

Permalink - Posted on 2020-02-14 00:00

Cooperation between E.ON and Volkswagen Group Components contributes to establishing an ultra-fast charging infrastructure.

The provision of an expansive public network of ultra-fast EV charging stations can be attained quicker than previously thought possible. E.ON and Volkswagen Group Components (VGC) are giving the realisation new impetus with the prototype of a new, flexible ultra-fast charging station that will be presented and trialled in Essen, western Germany.

By integrating a battery system, it will be possible to install ultra-fast charging stations almost anywhere and at significantly lower cost without civil engineering or mains connection.

According to E.ON and VGC, the new technology paves the way for a larger number of ultra-fast charging points to be installed where they are needed. E.ON is seeing demand for this solution from municipal utilities and local authorities as well as from filling stations and service areas. In addition, the concept is tailored to the electrification of retail parking lots and logistics companies such as parcel services.

E.ON

The stations are installed according to the plug & play principle – simply put them down, connect them and configure them online. The quick charging system can charge two e-cars with up to 150 kilowatts of power at the same time, thus providing an additional range of around 120 miles on average in just 15 minutes.

To ensure that the battery installed in the charging station always has sufficient capacity, it is permanently fed by a conventional 16 to 63 ampere power connection. E.ON will operate the rapid chargers exclusively with green electricity. Updates, remote maintenance and billing of the charging points will be carried out via E.ON's central software platform. The technology meets all the requirements for financial support under both the EU and the German directive and complies with the requirements of calibration law.

E.ON

The business model was developed jointly by E.ON and VGC. The hardware component is an innovation of the automotive company combined with E.ON's proven operator system and market knowledge. VGC will start series production this year.

In the second half of the year, E.ON will intensively test the new charging points at six motorway filling stations and then launch them on the German market under the name E.ON Drive Booster.


All-New 2020 Audi A3 Goes Quattro Testing in the Azores

Permalink - Posted on 2020-02-10 00:00

Audi has been testing camouflaged versions of the incoming fourth-generation A3 hatchback, demonstrating the latest quattro system as well as other technological advancements.

Tackling roads which snake around the island of Sao Miguel in Portugal’s Azores archipelago, the new quattro all-wheel drive is said to maximize stability, grip and driving pleasure as well as efficiency. With support from the adaptive suspension and the progressive steering, this helps the car offer “composed, surefooted and incisive driving characteristics,” says Audi.

Audi’s engineers have tailored the electronic torque distribution control specifically to suit the new A3. During normal driving, the majority of that power is sent to the front axles, but when reduced traction is detected, up to 100% of drive torque may be transmitted to the rear.

Electronic Stabilization Control (ESC) further improves the driving characteristics of the sporty hatch. When the car enters a corner at high speed, the program applies the brakes slightly to the two wheels on the inside, allowing it to turn into the bend and follow the steering angle. This makes the handling even more agile, fluid, and safe.

Audi

This feature can be manually adjusted via three settings: ESC On (safe and stable acceleration), Sport (allows drifting in a controlled, safe manner) and ESC Off (the amount of wheel slip is unlimited).

This new quattro system will be optional on some variants of the 2020 A3 and will come as standard on future performance models such as the S3 and RS3 hot hatch.

The all-new Audi A3 is expected to be one of the star premieres at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show next month.


Fiat 500 and Panda Mild-Hybrids Now Available

Permalink - Posted on 2020-02-05 00:00

UK pricing and specifications for the new Fiat 500 mild hybrid and Panda mild hybrid have been announced, arriving in UK showrooms mid-February and March, respectively.

The ubiquitous Fiat 500 and the diminutive Panda are two iconic models in the current Fiat product range. They represent and perhaps, even define urban mobility with combined annual sales of over 400,000 units throughout the EU and the UK.

With the introduction of mild hybrid technology, the 500 and the Panda provide all the benefits of efficient, compact, lightweight and accessible hybrid driving.

Fiat

Fiat has confirmed that the new Fiat 500 mild hybrid and Fiat Panda mild hybrid will start from £12,655 and £13,855 respectively.

Both models mark the electrification of the brand and are the first steps towards more sustainable urban driving. That journey continues later in 2020 when production commences of the new 500e in its spiritual home of Turin. Being fully electric, the model will play a key role in the FCA e-Mobility strategy. The new 500e is expected to debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month.

Mild hybrid drivetrain

Both models will be available with a new petrol mild hybrid drivetrain that combines the latest 3-cylinder FireFly 1.0-litre engine with a 12-volt belt-integrated starter-generator (BSG) electric motor and a lithium battery. Combined output is 70hp.

Fiat

Compared to the outgoing 1.2-litre 69hp petrol engine, the mild hybrid version improves fuel efficiency, reducing CO2 emissions by up to 30 per cent without impeding performance. The 500 mild hybrid has CO2 emissions as low as 88g/km with the Panda at 89g/km. Fuel economy for the 500 is said to be 53.3mpg, while the Panda returns 49.6mpg (both WLTP Combined).

The BSG system also ensures a very high standard of driving comfort, allowing for a quiet, vibration-free restart of the internal combustion engine in Stop-Start mode. The system is mounted directly on the engine and is operated by the belt that also drives the auxiliaries.

The mild hybrid drivetrain is paired with a six-speed manual gearbox sending drive to the front wheels only. It is said to improve fuel economy during out-of-town driving, thanks to new low-friction bearings and gaskets and the use of a specific high-efficiency lubricant. The new system also involves lowering the entire power unit by 45mm so the car behaves better on the road thanks to the lower centre of gravity.

Special Fiat 500 Mild Hybrid and Panda Mild Hybrid launch editions

When they arrive in showrooms, the mild-hybrid 500 and Panda models will be available in a Launch Edition trim. These models will be presented in model-exclusive ‘Dew Green’ paint, with seats trimmed in a fabric manufactured from recycled plastic waste.

Fiat

The Launch Edition models start from £16,795 for the 500 and £14,385 for the Panda. Each mild hybrid Launch Edition will be recognised by a rear-mounted ‘Hybrid’ badge and an exclusive ‘H’ logo (formed by two dew drops) mounted at the base of the B-pillar.


New Mercedes-Benz eVito: Specs, Techs and Pricing

Permalink - Posted on 2020-01-29 00:00

More details have been released on the highly-anticipated Mercedes-Benz eVito, which offers 112hp of power, 300Nm of torque, a 92-mile average range and a six-hour charging time.

The front-wheel drive eVito has joined the current Vito range and offers a standard specification that mirrors the ‘Pure’ model line of the regular Vito, including a height and rake adjustable steering wheel, hill start assist, electrically adjustable heated exterior mirrors, sliding doors on both sides of the vehicle, wood flooring and an adaptive brake light.

Mercedes-Benz

In addition to the Pure specification, the eVito exclusively offers Mercedes ProConnect, heated driver’s seat, air conditioning, a charging cable and a CanTrack vehicle tracker, all as standard too. A sound generator produces an audible signal at speeds up to 20mph, which means the silent eVito can be detected by pedestrians, cyclists and other road users at low speed.

Available in two lengths and priced from £39,895 (ex VAT) for the eVito Pure L2 and £40,415 (ex VAT) for the eVito Pure L3, the van is also eligible for the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) Grant. This means that customers can benefit from a 20% reduction on the vehicle purchase price, up to a maximum of £8,000.

The L2 model offers 6.0m3 of cargo volume, a kerb weight of 2,277kg, a GVW of 3,200kg and a payload of 923kg. The longer L3 offers 6.6m3 cargo volume, a 2,302kg kerb weight, a 3,200kg GVW and a payload of 898kg.

In addition to the Pure trim grade, the eVito Progressive will also be available and includes the following additions; colour coded bumpers, full wheel covers, front fog lights, headlight assist, 75mph speed limiter, Audio 15, lumbar support and electrically foldable mirrors – all as standard. The eVito Progressive L2 will be available from £41,600 (ex VAT) and £42,120 (ex VAT) for the longer L3 variant.

Mercedes-Benz

For both specification levels, Mercedes ProConnect comes as standard and is subscription-free for the first three years, with benefits including remote access, digital driver’s log, drive style monitoring, real-time variable servicing monitoring, parking time monitor and geo-fence options. In addition for the eVito, the vehicle benefits from pre-conditioning of the heaters and highlights vehicle charging options nearby.

The capacity of the underfloor battery is 41kWh and can be charged from 0 to 100% in approximately 6 hours, via a wall-box or at a charging station using the appropriate cable.

Thanks to the spiral shape of the four-metre charging cable provided, it is easy to handle when distances are different between the vehicle and a wall-box or charging station. The cable comes with a handy zipped bag to store it between uses.

In addition to the three driving modes on the new eVito, there are four energy-recovery levels to optimise the power consumption.

Mercedes-Benz Vans UK is committed to offering battery electric vehicles (BEVs) alongside conventional fuel types across the entire product range, starting with the eVito and continuing with the all-electric eSprinter panel van later in 2020.


Electric or Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle Sold Every Seven Minutes

Permalink - Posted on 2020-01-22 00:00

Plug-ins on the rampage as one is sold every seven minutes

The UK EV market grew by 21% in 2019 with more than 72,000 new plug-in cars registered in the UK – that’s one registered every seven minutes.

UK electric car registrations continue to set records, as latest figures place the total number of new 100% electric and plug-in hybrid cars registered last year at 72,834, making 2019 the most successful year for electric cars to date. That equates to one new electric car registration every seven minutes in the UK. The total also means the market grew by 21% compared to 2018.

The end-of-year figure marks a continued trend, which saw consumers and businesses switch to ultra-low emission vehicles. The fourth quarter of 2019 saw a further 24,722 plug-in cars registered between October and December.

Audi

For the first time, fully electric cars accounted for more than half of the plug-in market, with 52% of sales. This takes the number of 100% electric and plug-in hybrid cars registered in the UK to date to 271,524.

From a regional perspective, the South East saw the highest demand across the nation, with 26,136 vehicles registered – a 22% increase on 2018. Other leading regions include the West Midlands (11,623), South West (8,128), Yorkshire and the Humber (7,566) and East Anglia (5,373), making up the top five British regions for electric car uptake this year.

2019 marked the eighth consecutive year of growth for the electric car market. This has in part been driven by an increase in the models available, with over 50 for consumers and businesses to choose from.

2020 has the potential to be another strong year for registrations as a host of models are set to be introduced, including the Peugeot e-208, Volkswagen ID.3, Mercedes-Benz EQC, Vauxhall Corsa-e, Skoda Citigo E, and MINI Electric just some of the new cars due to hit the roads.

The continued growth of the EV market has also been accompanied by new charge points being installed in response to the increased demand. There are now over 29,000 public charging connectors in the UK, making it one of Europe’s largest charging networks.

These numbers are set to rise thanks to continued Government funding and investment from the private sector. In September, the Government committed a further £35 million worth of investment into the UK’s rapid charge network, which combined with a matching £35 million from the private sector, will result in the delivery of a further 3,000 rapid chargers by 2024.


Safest cars revealed by Euro NCAP - Best of the Best in class 2019

Permalink - Posted on 2020-01-13 00:00

Each year, Euro NCAP publishes a list of those cars that have performed best in their respective categories during the past 12 months.  
Euro NCAP last week published its annual Best in Class for 2019. Fifty-five cars were assessed, of which forty-one achieved the top accolade of a full five stars, which makes 2019 one of the most impressive years on record since Euro NCAP started to evaluate consumer safety of cars on the European market.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz regained its crown in the best performing Small Family Car category – this time with the CLA – a sporty alternative to the A-Class Sedan, which won last year’s Best in Class. The CLA achieved a score of more than 90% in three of the four areas of safety and delivered the best overall rating of the year. Mercedes-Benz went on to launch five more five-star vehicles in 2019, all with outstanding crash protection and driver assistance technology.

Tesla also made a strong appearance during 2019 with its Model X declared the winner in the Large Off-Road category, followed by the SEAT Tarraco in second place. The Tesla Model 3 topped the Electric and Hybrid vehicle class and, together with BMW’s 3 Series, shares top spot in the ‘Large Family’ category. The two cars concluded their respective tests with identical overall scores, with the BMW scoring better in pedestrian protection, and the Tesla edging it in Safety Assist. Skoda’s new Octavia was the runner-up in this category.

In the combined Small Off-road/Small MPV class, Subaru won with the new Forester, with excellent all-round performance during testing. Mazda’s new CX-30 and Volkswagen’s T-Cross were close followers in the category. Despite missing out on the top spot, Mazda had a good year, with the new Mazda 3 turning in a creditable performance in adult occupant protection and pipped to second place by the Mercedes-Benz CLA in the ‘Small Family Car’ category.

There was a tie in the Supermini class with the sporty Audi A1 and top-selling Renault Clio, both of which have been among Europe’s most popular and desirable hatchbacks for years. Their latest generations arrived in 2019 and fared equally well in testing. Newcomer Ford Puma was the runner-up in the category. The Supermini segment continues to be the most competitive in the market and the winners deserve credit for their uncompromising stance on safety.

Finally, a special mention went to BMW’s Z4, the only roadster tested in 2019, but set a new safety benchmark for the segment.

Awards

Best Large Off-Road: Tesla Model X

Tesla

Best Small Family Car: Mercedes-Benz CLA

Mercedes-Benz

Best Large Family Car Hybrid and Electric: Tesla Model 3

Tesla

Read our exclusive review of the Tesla Model 3!

Best Large Family Car: BMW 3 Series

BMW

Best Small Off-Road / MPV: Subaru Forester

Subaru

Best Supermini: Audi A1

Audi

Best Supermini: Renault Clio

Renault


Sony Vision-S All-Electric Concept Car

Permalink - Posted on 2020-01-08 00:00

SONY stuns with all-electric car at CES Las Vegas

The Sony Vision-S concept car has been unveiled at CES to showcase the firm’s latest vehicle safety and infotainment innovations.

Sony

If you thought that SONY was just going to announce the new PlayStation 5 at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas…you’d be right, along with millions of others.

What no-one expected was SONY’s reveal of its concept Vision S prototype car, built to showcase what SONY can do for the cars of tomorrow. 

The electronics brand has dipped its toes in everything from cameras to 8K televisions and everything in between, so it actually isn’t all that surprising that they would decide to use CES to jump into the auto industry.

Looking remarkably similar to the Tesla Model 3 with hints of Porsche in the front, the four-door Vision S rolled silently onto the stage. The Vision S packs 33 sensors, including radar, LiDAR and cameras, but SONY says its real innovation is infusing the data collected from all those things to produce cleaner data with fewer errors.

Although it’s not widely known, SONY isn’t entirely new to this game: Its CMOS sensors, like those used in its cameras, are already used in vehicles like the Toyota Corolla and Lexus NX.

SONY’s foray into LiDAR — the ‘eyes’ of an autonomous car that allow it to sense how far it is from obstacles around it – comes as a bigger surprise. The race to build cheaper, more reliable LiDAR has become one of the hottest contests in automotive technology and SONY will face upstarts like Quanergy and LeddarTech, along with established players like Velodyne and Bosch.

Inside, the Vision S looks like what you would expect from a company that built its reputation on televisions, with a massive panoramic dash screen that stretches below the entire windshield. The rear seats both have screens of their own and SONY says the car provides a 360-degree panoramic audio experience.

Sony

“We believe that the evolution of mobility will also redefine cars as a new entertainment space,” said Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida.

The EV chassis the car rides on was built by Magna Steyr, a Canadian manufacturer that also supplies GM, Ford, Mercedes and yes, Tesla. Not surprisingly, SONY had help from a number of other partners, including Qualcomm, Continental, and Nvidia.

Few technical details of the prototype were made available at the reveal, but we know it’s powered by a pair of 268hp electric motors (one per axle), which give it a 0-62mph time of 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 149mph.

SONY will show the Vision S concept at its CES 2020 booth, but don’t expect SONY dealerships to spring up anytime soon – it’s merely a demonstration to get other automakers interested in Sony’s automotive-related technologies.