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In the News ...

Lexus boss hints at electrified F performance models
Posted on Sunday July 15, 2018

John McIlroy 2018-07-15 06:59

The next stage in the development of the Lexus F performance brand could be electrification, says president Yoshihiro Sawa

Lexus LC - full front

Lexus may have to consider expanding its F performance sub-brand to include electrified powertrains as well as traditional petrol engines – and this could even extend to a bespoke F hybrid GT, the company’s president has revealed.

Yoshihiro Sawa admits that creating a stronger emotional connection with buyers could be the next step in building Lexus’s position as a true rival to German premium manufacturers. And he says motorsport activities, such as Lexus’s GT3 sports car programme, and its F sub-brand can play key roles in this.

Best performance cars to buy now

The F models to date – IS F, RC F and GS F – have all used petrol V8 power. But Sawa believes the division will have to embrace different powertrain choices in the coming years. And intriguingly, he suggested that one possible home for a hybrid F powertrain could be a standalone F GT.

“F is very important; with F we have to think of our own original way,” said Sawa, speaking during his first visit to the Goodwood Festival of Speed. “One solution could be a pure F GT car, which could be a hybrid with an electric motor and a strong engine, giving a different kind of drive feel. We don’t stick to V8, V10, twin-turbocharged; they’re important but we’re looking at the future. We’d like to find a way to connect to the next era.” 

“I think that now, we’re in a transitional period. At this moment people say EVs are trendy but three years later, who knows? People like the sound, the dynamics [of combustion engines]. I think we cannot stick to the one solution when it comes to providing emotion.”

Lexus’s latest creation, the urban-focused UX small SUV, could be considered a more natural candidate for a pure-electric version, Sawa admitted. But he added that this would be part of a range of powertrains, and said that Lexus is trying to work on. “We do think about it,” he said, “but Akio Toyoda [boss of Toyota] wants to provide the freedom of mobility everywhere – not just in the city but also in the jungle, or the desert. We can look to EV but also hybrid, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell and normal petrol engines also.”

“We will introduce an EV but on top of that we’re searching to decide which kind of EV will be lovable. It needs to have a luxury feeling too, because that is expected by our customers.”

Sawa said that Lexus’s ‘spindle grille’ front-end styling had helped to create more of an emotional response to the brand – even if that means splitting opinion. “Some people really love the spindle grille,” he said, “and some people don’t like it at all. That’s okay. The rate of our sales growth has gone up since we introduced the spindle grille so while we know that some potential buyers don’t like it, many more are coming into our brand.”

The next generation of Toyota Supra made its dynamic debut at Goodwood, but Sawa declined to say whether Lexus would have enough access to the project – a joint effort between Toyota and BMW – to consider using its underpinnings for a driver-focused model of its own. “I can’t speak about that,” he stated.

Take a look at our round-up of the best electric cars on sale now...

SUVs blamed for rising emissions
Posted on Saturday July 14, 2018

Hugo Griffiths 2018-07-14 17:35

SUVs emit more carbon dioxide than conventional cars and are partly responsible for rising CO2 emissions, says Government watchdog

Exhaust emissions

The ever-growing popularity of SUVs is partly responsible for rising emissions, according to the Government’s environmental watchdog.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says “the popularity of SUVs is cancelling out emissions savings from improvements in technology, with potentially serious implications for meeting the UK’s carbon budgets.” 

The CCC’s condemnation of SUVs comes in response to the Government’s recently-published Road to Zero strategy, which sets out how new cars sold in the UK from 2040 will become “effectively” zero emission. 

Best 4x4 and SUVs

While the CCC praises Road to Zero for its focus on ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) capable of emitting under 75 grams per kilometre (g/km) of carbon dioxide (CO2), it says the policy contains “an absence of measures to address the fast-growing market higher emitting vehicles, including Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs)”.

Figures previously released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show SUVs, which tend to be bigger and heavier than more established types of car, have average CO2 emissions of 141.3g/km. A typical small family car, such as the Volkswagen Golf, emits 115.8g/km, and an average executive car, such as the Mercedes C-Class, emits 121.6g/km. 

Chris Stark, the CCC’s chief executive, said: “We are buying more cars in the UK and a greater proportion of these are larger and more polluting”, adding: “there needs to be a rebalancing away from the highest polluting vehicles. So far, the market has not delivered this.”

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, defended SUVs, telling the Times the market was driven by consumer tastes: “SUVs are an increasingly popular choice, valued for their style, practicality, higher ride and commanding view of the road. 

Hawes added that SUVs have become cleaner in recent years, too, citing “massive investment into advanced engine and battery technology, lightweight materials and aero-dynamics”, which have seen “average CO2 emissions from new dual-purpose cars [the industry name for SUVs] cut by 20 per cent over the last five years — the biggest reduction of any segment.”

Do you agree? Do you think SUVs are responsible for rising emissions? Let us know below...

New Hyundai Kona diesel 2018 review
Posted on Friday July 13, 2018

Hyundai Kona diesel - front
14 Jul, 2018 10:00am James Brodie

Diesel Konas are available on special-order only, and while this CRDi is by no means poor, it’s by no means class leading

The new Kona Electric isn’t all that’s fresh about Hyundai’s junior SUV, because the Korean brand has also just added two diesel options to the engine line-up.

You’re unlikely to see them in showrooms, though, because they’re special-order only; this indicates how slim their share of this car’s overall sales will be. Indeed, even the all-electric version could prove more popular.

Best diesel cars 2018

Both diesels feature a 1.6-litre four-cylinder CRDi motor, developing either 113bhp or 134bhp, and the latter version is linked to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

EV aside, we’d recommend sticking with a petrol-powered Kona in almost every case, but if you’re going to do the miles to justify it, the lower-powered diesel option is probably the better bet.

The 113bhp power output doesn’t sound like much, but 280Nm of torque is plenty in a car of this size, so the milder diesel is still a reasonable performer, 0-62mph coming up in just over 10 seconds. It will get up to motorway speeds comfortably, and even though it lacks the responsiveness of the petrol-powered Konas it’s not bad nipping around town, either.

The six-speed manual gearbox shifts sweetly, though, making it easy to recommend over stumping up extra cash for the dual-clutch automatic.

Of course, the diesel is the Kona to pick if fuel economy is your primary concern as you munch through the miles. An official average economy figure of 67.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 112g/km are impressive, although these numbers are merely in the ballpark for a diesel SUV of this size, rather than class-leading.

As for refinement, the Kona diesel sits pretty much in the middle of the pack. There’s nothing particularly amiss about the level of engine noise seeping into the cabin, and there’s probably little between this car and a diesel SEAT Arona in this regard.

• Hyundai Kona Premium SE review

However, the ride still disappoints; it’s firm and shuddery. Admittedly, an Arona also struggles with comfort but it at least is much better to drive.

The Kona is a nice place to sit, however, even if the cabin isn’t quite as funky as the exterior. Still, it’s well built, uses plenty of nice materials, and the infotainment system on the Premium SE car is straightforward.

3
Game-changing all-electric version aside, the Hyundai Kona is a decidedly mid-pack car and the diesel does little to change this. By no means is the 113bhp 1.6 CRDi a poor performer, but petrol or electric power remain our pick.
  • Model: Hyundai Kona 1.6 CRDi 115 Premium SE
  • Price: £23,450
  • Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl diesel
  • Power/torque: 113bhp/280Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel-drive
  • 0-62mph: 10.7 seconds
  • Top speed: 114mph
  • Economy: 67.3mpg
  • CO2: 112g/km
  • On sale: Now

Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe ride review
Posted on Friday July 13, 2018

Mercedes-AMG GT four-door front
13 Jul, 2018 5:30pm James Batchelor

We get a passenger ride in Mercedes-AMG’s range-topping GT S on the famous Goodwood hillclimb

It goes without saying that the over the past 25 years the Goodwood Festival of Speed has grown in stature. And one feature that has really taken off is the chance to see the very latest and most exciting new metal on the road for the very first time.

Less than 12 hours after being the first in the world to drive McLaren’s new 600LT supercar, we were being strapped in the passenger seat of the new Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe alongside AMG factory driver Adam Christodoulou for a run up the Goodwood hill – the first global media to be in the sleek new Mercedes-AMG before we get behind the wheel ourselves in September.

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2018 - latest news

Nudging out of the Supercar Paddock and down to the start line the big AMG attracts as many as admiring glances as the most exotic supercar. A quick donut by Christodoulou at the bottom of the drive and it’s up to the line – all eyes and smartphones once again on us.

We’re in the range-topping version of next year’s 4-Door Coupe – the GT S. That means a whopping 630bhp is being pummeled through the 4Matic four-wheel drive system – it translates to frankly astonishing acceleration pace.

Before we know it, it’s turn one and then turn two and past Goodwood House. The bi-turbo 4.0-litre V8 is bellowing, angrily snapping through the gears. Under the bridge and into Molecomb – Christodoulou is very late on the brakes, but the GT 4dr hauls itself to a slower speed, jinks left and it’s back on the loud pedal.

Acceleration in third gear is mightily impressive and you really wouldn’t think you were in a two-tonne four-door coupe. The reaction from the engine, the noise and the overall body control is more akin to a two-door sportscar. It’s really only the Mercedes CLS-like dashboard being the giveaway that this is a more luxurious model, but the sharply raked centre console – which is home to a variety of controls – is very AMG.

• Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe: details and specs

We burst out of the trees for a second before plunging back into them and then across the chequered finish line. It’s a tantalising first taste of what’s bound to be one 2018’s star cars.

Some may think this is simply an AMG version of the Mercedes CLS thanks to some similar styling cues, but it’s far more than that. As the name suggests it’s a four-door version of the bonkers AMG GT supercar. From the passenger seat it’s clear AMG have managed to carry over the GT’s surefooted handling and sense of occasion while adding a nice dose of practicality - it’s rather spacious and has a tailgate. This ride has really whetted our appetite.

‘Will Volvo be the hottest car company of 2019? Probably’
Posted on Friday July 13, 2018

Mike Rutherford 2018-07-15 10:00

As Volvo scores two wins at the New Car Awards, it’s ideally placed to take on established premium brands, says Mike Rutherford

There’s no better place than the Auto Express awards to catch up with the great and the good from the global motor industry. And because I’m partly responsible for him entering the car business many years ago, I had a long chat with Volvo director Mike Johnstone at the ceremony last week.

He agrees his firm’s on a roll after winning Auto Express trophies, plus the World Car of the Year title a few months back. Although he’s too modest to admit it, Volvo isn’t unlike Audi was 20 years ago: taking on established premium firms, before matching or beating them. Volvo’s credentials are bolstered by the fact that, like Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar and Lexus, it has just picked up two Auto Express new car gongs, while Audi failed to win one!

Auto Express New Car Awards 2018 - the winners

Johnstone seems flattered by comparisons with the still-great company from Ingolstadt. Yet he insists Volvo is still warming up and there is much work to do. One area is convincing the public that Volvo is now a proper, fully-fledged premium outfit that deserves a place in the same league as Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus and Mercedes.

Some believe Volvo still isn’t quite there as a premium marque. Johnstone doesn’t dismiss the assertion, but he’s not agreeing with it, either. He reminds me that Mercedes has been leasing its high-end cars for hundreds of pounds per month, while charging around £150 a month for the A-Class. In that sense, the firm seems firmly ensconced in the premium and ‘pile ’em high, lease em ’cheap’ markets. Maybe that’s where it and Volvo need to be.

Volvo’s only one member of the giant Geely clan, which is to China what the VW Group is to Germany. Volvo has many new siblings, including the London Electric Vehicle Company, Lotus, Lynk & Co, Polestar, Proton and Terrafugia. Also, Geely owns a large and intriguing slice of the Daimler/Mercedes pie. So with all this in mind, could Geely’s strategy be to pitch Volvo as a mass-market brand (albeit a high-quality one) that’d be in the same mould as Volkswagen, rather than taking the final step of trying to turn it into a full-blown premium marque such as Audi? Possibly. We’ll see in the very near future.

And we’ll also be seeing how Volvo intends to educate and win over buyers who remain confused by cars powered in full or part by electricity. It’s started the ball rolling with the ‘Twin Engine’ tag it has slapped on its XC60 T8, which has a petrol-powered motor backed up by an electric unit. Much responsibility rests on the Swedish manufacturer’s corporate shoulders, because the brand has been more anti-diesel and pro-electric (or petrol-electric) than all of its obvious rivals. Volvo, the hottest car company on the planet in 2018? Probably.

Read why the Volvo XC40 won our Small Premium SUV of the Year award for 2018…

New McLaren 600LT driven at Goodwood FoS
Posted on Friday July 13, 2018

McLaren 600LT - front
13 Jul, 2018 10:15am James Batchelor

Auto Express becomes the first publication in the world to drive the new McLaren 600LT, taking on the Goodwood hillclimb

Goodwood is inextricably linked to McLaren’s story. The Bruce McLaren Racing Team used the motor circuit throughout the sixties to develop racing cars, and it was at the circuit where the Kiwi lost his life in June 1970. So driving a brand new McLaren, launched at Goodwood, is an extremely special experience.

This time it’s a road car though, and it’s not the Goodwood circuit but the notoriously tricky 1.16-mile hill climb course in the Duke of Richmond’s back garden – the Festival of Speed. The car in question is the new 600LT and Auto Express is the first in the world to drive it.

2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed: latest news

LT stands for ‘Longtail’ and it’s an evocative name in McLaren’s history. The first car to wear the badge was the F1 GTR in 1997 which was designed to conquer GT racing and the Le Mans 24 Hours, and the 600 is the third following on from the 675LT of 2015. It’s for this reason that the new one creates so much attention in the Festival of Speed’s Supercar Paddock.

While there’s a whole string of mad one-off supercars sitting in their garages, the 600LT has a distinctive look itself. The stretched bodywork is the most noticeable change and that fixed rear wing makes a 570S (the car on which the 600LT is based) look rather conventional.

Start up the engine, engage ‘D’ and we gently nose the car out of the paddock. With helmets on and the same carbon fibre racing seats as the mad McLaren Senna, the 600LT feels every bit like a racing car. Indeed, the seats totally transform the seating position from a 570S – you sit perfectly straight and upright, and you feel more connected to the car.

A thumbs-up from the marshal and it’s away down the famous avenue of trees. The engine sings with a more tuneful rasp thanks to a completely different exhaust system.

McLaren 600LT - full details

The 600LT uses the same 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 as the 570S but there’s an extra 30bhp and 20Nm of torque, and it’s very noticeable. We’re up to 62mph in what feels like a blink of an eye (it’s actually an incredible 2.8 seconds) before leaning on the brakes for the first corner. There’s the McLaren’s trademark brake feel and the almost telepathic steering, but in the LT it’s even crisper. It’s now a short squirt to the second corner before blasting past the Duke’s country pile. It’s here where we can open up the 600LT and let the crowd hear that fabulous engine note.

Now we’re under the bridge and down to the infamous Molecomb corner. It’s off-camber and always a strong test of a car’s balance, but this weekend it’s also quite dusty so is rather slippery. Again, hard on the brakes and it’s here where the LT feels completely different to the 570S because it brakes completely flat and true. Attack the same corner in the 570S or 570GT and the nose would dive a little and the car would shimmy when scrubbing off the speed.

Once straightened up it’s time for another blast past the crowd and then to Flint Wall, kink right, gently hold the throttle and back into the trees. The 600LT blasts out into daylight for a moment before dipping back into the woods. And then it’s the dash for the line, completing a very special drive in what’s set to easily be probably the finest driving car McLaren currently makes.

The new McLaren 600LT lives up to its Longtail name - not just in terms of body design but also in ability. It may be based on a 570S but the 600LT is a completely reworked, honed and polished product. It’s a total transformation and a longer drive when the car is launched in September, could prove this is the finest car McLaren currently makes.
  • Model: McLaren 600LT
  • Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8
  • Price: £185,500
  • Power: 592bhp
  • Torque: 620Nm
  • 0-62mph: 2.8 seconds
  • 0-124mph: 8.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 204mph

McLaren to release 18 new cars by 2025 under new Track25 plan
Posted on Thursday July 12, 2018

James Brodie 2018-07-12 17:54

McLaren's product offensive will see its entire line-up electrified and the arrival of a true P1 successor

McLaren production line

McLaren has revealed a new business plan at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed, with the British supercar firm promising it will launch 18 new models and derivatives by 2025 as part of a £1.2 billion investment. 

Called Track25, the new plan is an expansion of the already established Track22 plan revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in 2016. That original strategy did not include scope for an Ultimate Series successor to the P1 hypercar, but Track25 makes it perfectly clear that a new flagship will happen. 

Best supercars on sale 2018

It’ll use a hybrid powertrain – McLaren says that its entire sports car and supercar line-up will be electrified before 2025 – and the company claims it is currently developing a lightweight, superfast-charging, high-power battery system for high performance vehicles.

McLaren is also currently developing an all-electric hypercar. Two years ago, CEO Mike Flewitt declared to Auto Express that the model will be "the most exciting sports car we have ever made." A three-seat model codenamed BP23 is in the pipeline too.

The firm’s product roadmap will include replacements for Sports Series cars (570S, 570GT and 600LT) and Super Series (720S) models. All will be electrified with hybrid powertrains as standard. 

McLaren predicts that the product drive will lift production by almost 75 per cent, and the firm is targeting an output of 6,000 cars annually by the mid 2020s. McLaren will continue to produce all of its cars at its production centre in Woking.

Follow our live coverage of the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed here.

Fiat staff to strike over Cristiano Ronaldo’s £88 million Juventus move
Posted on Thursday July 12, 2018

Hugo Griffiths 2018-07-12 16:30

Fiat Chrysler’s Melfi plant is owned by same company as Juventus; staff are angry investment is going to footballer, not factory

Fiat workers in Italy are to strike over footballer Cristiano Ronaldo’s £88 million transfer from Real Madrid to Juventus.

Both Fiat’s Melfi plant and Juventus are part-owned by the wealthy Agnelli family and controlled through a holding company. That holding company, Exor, owns 64 per cent of Juventus, and 30 per cent of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).

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But while the club and the car company are separate corporate entities, individually managing their own operations and finances, the Italian USB Lavoro Privato union considers it “unacceptable” that such a large investment has gone into securing Ronaldo from the Galacticos.

A statement released by the union said: “It is unacceptable that while the [owners] ask workers of FCA... for huge economic sacrifices for years, the same decide to spend hundreds of millions of euros for the purchase of a player”. The union added: “The owners should invest in car models that guarantee the future of thousands of people rather than enriching only one,” the union said.

The USB Lavoro Privato union does not represent all workers at Melfi and the strike will be short, running from Sunday 15 July to Tuesday 17 July.

According to Reuters, “ thousands” of FCA staff have been on “state-sponsored temporary layoff schemes” for years due to lack of new models. That’s set to change with a future focus on electrified Maseratis, while Fiat is set to take a similar approach with its popular Panda and 500 models in coming years.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been approached for comment.

What do you think about the USB Lavoro Privato union’s decision to go on strike? Let us know in the comments… 

Maserati Levante GTS revealed at Goodwood with 542bhp
Posted on Thursday July 12, 2018

James Brodie 2018-07-14 17:40

Another V8 powered version of Maserati's Levante has landed, but again, we probably won't get it in Britain

Maserati has revealed a new version of its Levante SUV at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed called the Levante GTS.

It’s another V8 powered version of the Italian brand’s Porsche Macan rival, and a sister car to the Levante Trofeo revealed earlier this year at the New York Motor Show.

Best SUVs on sale 2018

Like that car it makes use of a 3.8-litre twin turbo eight cylinder motor, though it produces a little less power - 542bhp compared to the Trofeo’s 590bhp. Peak torque of 730Nm is delivered between 2,500rpm and 5,000rpm, and power is sent to FCA’s Q4 all-wheel-drive system through an eight-speed ZF gearbox.

From a performance perspective, Maserati claims that the Levante GTS will reel off the 0-62mph dash in 4.2 seconds, while top speed is pegged at 181mph. That means it can’t out accelerate its sister car – the V6 powered Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio – but that VMAX figure makes the Levante GTS comfortably one of the fastest SUVs on the planet.

Maserati’s designers have injected the Levante GTS with similar styling tweaks to the more powerful Trofeo. It sports a new, more aggressive and lower front end, while it sits on fresh alloy wheels too, 22-inches in size.

Tweaks in the cabin are subtler. The Levante GTS forgoes any individual interior design changes, but features sports pedals and full premium leather upholstery as standard, with a Harman Kardon premium stereo with 14 speakers on the options list.

The Trofeo is not available in the UK, and Maserati has not yet confirmed if the GTS will be sold in Britain either, despite the car’s Goodwood debut.

The arrival of the GTS headlines a slightly revised 2019 model year Levante. Adaptive LED matrix headlights are on the options list, while Maserati says it has updated the car’s infotainment too, with new graphics. It should feel different to drive as well, as Maserati has equipped with Levante with the Integrated Vehicle Control stability system used on the Ghibli.

Finally, the Levante is now available in 11 exterior colours, while there are five new alloy wheel designs too.

Read all the latest news from the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed

Bentley announces centenary Mulsanne W.O. Edition
Posted on Thursday July 12, 2018

2018-07-12 12:15

The limited edition Bentley Mulsanne W.O. Edition will mark 100 years of Bentley

Bentley Mulsanne special - front

Bentley will be marking its centenary next year by building the Mulsanne W.O. Edition, named after Bentley’s founder William Owen Bentley. Designed by Mulliner, only 100 cars will be built, which will each contain a slice of the original crankshaft taken from W.O. Bentley’s personal car.

Launched in 1930, the Bentley 8-litre was the last car to be designed by Bentley’s founder W.O. Bentley. It featured the most powerful engine of any car available in Britain at the time – a 7,983cc straight six. W.O. was forced to sell his own Bentley 8-litre a year later in 1931.

Best luxury cars on sale

Bentley Motors reacquired the car in 2006, when it was then restored, replacing the original crankshaft. Slices of the original crankshaft will be set into the interior of each Mulsanne W.O. Edition.

The limited edition Mulsanne takes design inspiration from W.O.’s original 8-litre and includes a chrome bonnet strip and optional chrome radiator shell and grille, topped with the Flying B mascot. The car also comes with Onyx paintwork, although customers can select other colours from Bentley’s colour pallet. The Mulsanne also includes a W.O. Bentley signature badge on the lower bumper and self-levelling wheel centres and door treadplates, which both incorporate a specially designed centenary badge. 

Inside, the Bentley Mulsanne design is based around 1930s luxury living, with an illuminated cocktail cabinet which contains the piece of the original 8-litre’s crankshaft in a specially designed display window. An inscription sits just below this, detailing the significance of this piece of Bentley history.

The interior features a host of luxurious materials, including Bentley’s Fireglow hide, Beluga hide and blind stitching. Dark Stain Burr Walnut veneer panels are also used on the harder surfaces, harking back to the 1930s 8-litre.  The interior also includes Fireglow lambswool rugs, glass tumblers, privacy curtains and rear seat entertainment. 

There’s no word yet on how much you can expect to pay for one of these limited editions, but the Mulsanne W.O. Edition can be specified on any of the three Mulsannes in Bentley’s range. 

The Mulsanne W.O. Edition will make its debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in late August and customer deliveries will begin in 2019.  

Tell us what you think of the limited edition Mulsanne in the comments below…

Aston Martin V8 Cygnet unleashed at Goodwood with 430bhp
Posted on Wednesday July 11, 2018

James Brodie 2018-07-12 16:05

Unloved Cygnet city car gets Vantage makeover with V8 power and wider track, all for one Aston customer

Aston Martin Cygnet V8

Aston Martin will arrive at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed with not one, but two all-new cars set to take on the famous hillclimb.

Joining the all-new 715bhp DBS Superleggera flagship will be a one-off Cygnet commissioned though Aston’s Q customisation service, which the firm has dubbed ‘the ultimate city car’.

Latest news: Goodwood Festival of Speed 2018

Produced at the behest of one of Aston’s customers, the V8 Cygnet struggles to hide its new powertrain – a 4.7-litre, 430bhp V8 lifted from the previous-generation Vantage S.

The new engine is a full 3.4-litres larger than the four-cylinder unit equipped under the bonnet of the original Cygnet. Produced from 2011 to 2013, the Toyota iQ based city car was used by Aston to comply with European Union fleet emissions regulations, and produced just 97bhp.

With 333bhp extra on board, Aston Martin claims that the V8 Cygnet is capable of 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds – faster than the outgoing V8 Vantage S. Top speed has been clocked at 170mph.

To accommodate the new engine, both a new front bulkhead and transmission tunnel have been fabricated from sheet metal, while the subframes and suspension are partly shared with the previous generation Vantage too.

So too is the gearbox. It’s a seven-speed Sportshift II transmission, sending power to the rear wheels through a tiny torque tube. Throw in a full roll cage and a new twin-exit exhaust system, and the V8 Cygnet tips the scales at 1,375kg.

Elsewhere, the visibly wider track front and rear is bookended by new 19-inch alloy wheels, sitting over new 380mm brake discs at the front, and 330mm pieces at the rear.

In the cabin, fixed back carbon-fibre Recaro bucket seats are found, complete with four-point harnesses. A removable steering wheel makes the cut too, and sits in front of an instrument binnacle lifted from the Vantage.

Is the V8 Cygnet the best thing to hit the Goodwood Festival of Speed? Check out the other cars at this year’s show, and decide for yourself…

‘JLR doesn’t know if it can remain British after a hard Brexit’
Posted on Wednesday July 11, 2018

John McIlroy 2018-07-11 11:15

As Brexit forces JLR to question £80bn UK investment, they can’t be blamed for playing hardball, writes John McIlroy

The car industry has finally run out of patience with the UK Government on Brexit, it seems. After warnings last month from BMW and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Jaguar Land Rover boss Ralf Speth (above) finally broke his tactful silence on the subject last week, questioning whether the company would even be able to remain British at all if a hard Brexit were to occur.

That’s a firm that has spent more than £50billion in the UK over the past five years, and which supports more than 300,000 UK jobs, questioning whether it should stay committed to further investment of £80bn between now and 2022. And listening to some of the soundbites from politicians on how cars are really made, you can hardly blame JLR for playing hardball.

Best-selling cars in the UK 2018

Logistics, components and supply chains are one thing. But Speth also suggested that JLR is already struggling to attract international talent – the sort of brainpower that drives forward developments in battery technology, infotainment and build quality. Or, in the case of Speth himself, managerial skills.

Study this year’s Brit List and you’ll see how UK talent drives much of the car industry – be it running globally significant manufacturers and suppliers, or designing and engineering vehicles for customers in Britain, Europe and beyond. There are Brits in significant roles everywhere.

The Government is still deciding on how best to remove barriers to trade while sticking closely to the idea of previously impossible restrictions on the freedom of movement for people. More than two years after the Brexit vote, there’s increasing evidence that the second of these policies is a dangerous one indeed.

What does the UK car industry need from Brexit? The SMMT has set out its priorities for securing investment and protecting jobs

New Jaguar XE 300 Sport 2018 review
Posted on Wednesday July 11, 2018

Jaguar XE 300 Sport - front
11 Jul, 2018 11:15am Steve Sutcliffe

The Jaguar XE 300 Sport may fall short of being a full-blown BMW M3 rival, but it's a welcome addition at the top of the XE range

It’s no great secret that Jaguar’s XE has struggled commercially beside its more obvious rivals from Germany. And one of the explanations why is that there has never been a sporting halo model at the top of the ranks to sprinkle some magic across the rest of the range. Jaguar simply hasn’t had the time, or the money, to build such a car – let’s call it a full on M3 rival – and so the rest of the range, goes the theory, has lacked kerb appeal as a result. 

Enter the new £45,640 XE 300 Sport. Now with “just” 296bhp from its turbocharged, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine, the 300 Sport is never going to take it all the way to the M3, C 63 et al, and to be fair it isn’t meant to. But what it does do, reckons Jaguar, is go a long way towards plugging the gap, at the same time providing XE customers with a genuinely sporting new model to opt for which, in the real world, is a fair bit cheaper but not a whole lot slower than an M-car or an AMG.

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To help it achieve this “almost but more affordable” status, the 300 Sport boasts a four wheel-drive chassis, uprated suspension and brakes with Jaguar’s clever adaptive dampers as standard, and numerous other small tweaks beneath the skin to sharpen up its dynamic personality.

Torque from the turbocharged Ingenium engine rises to a fulsome 400Nm, delivered as a flat peak between 1,500-4,500rpm. It weighs a little bit less and looks quite a lot meaner than any other XE thanks to a subtle new black tail spoiler, black sills and big 19-inch wheels. There are also optional new black 20-inch wheels, fitted to the car we drove and which appears in the pictures. 

Performance is strong, if not exactly mind-blowing for a smallish sporting saloon; 0-62mph takes 5.7sec with a top speed limited to 155mph. And that’s mostly how the 300 Sport feels on the move. Quick but not in any way bombastic; rapid but not manic. Composed, with typically lovely steering, but not in any way edgy. 

But then it isn’t meant to be a road burner, hence the surprisingly quiet but refined machinations of the engine and exhaust. Likewise the tyres, which despite being 265 wide at the back, emit almost no noise at all on the move, ditto the adaptive suspension. 

So although the 300 Sport is undeniably quick across the ground, and is genuinely engaging to drive, the fact that it’s so refined means the speed you can accrue in it is deceptive. And is delivered with extraordinary ease. It’s one of those cars that you categorically don’t need to take by the scruff and muscle around to have fun in. In everything it does, the 300 Sport is far more subtle than that, and is quietly impressive as a result. 

Elsewhere, there are various visual touches and “300 Sport” badging that distinguish the car, and elevate its appeal. The headrests, steering wheel, carpet mats, tread plates and door casings all get either yellow stitching or badging, or both. So while again such relatively subtle branding doesn’t make the 300 Sport feel like a full blown super saloon, inside or out, it’s enough to make a difference. And to make this model a lot more desirable than any other XE on sale. 

Just don’t mention the fact that BMW’s 340i M Sport costs a fair bit less (before options admittedly), has more power, is therefore quicker and has two more cylinders to its name…

4.5
Jaguar has been in dire need of a halo model to top the XE range, and the 300 Sport does a good job of trying to be that car, even if it falls some way short of being a full-blown M3 rival. As a fast, refined, competent and highly desirable sports saloon it is hard to argue against. Now all we need is a version with 400bhp plus to truly rival the big hitters from Germany.
  • Model: Jaguar XE 300 Sport
  • Price: £45,640
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol turbo
  • Transmission: Eight-speed auto, four wheel-drive
  • Power/torque: 296bhp/400Nm
  • 0-62mph: 5.7 seconds
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • Economy/CO2: 37.2mpg/173g/km
  • On sale: Now

New Ariel Atom 4 track car revealed with 320bhp
Posted on Wednesday July 11, 2018

James Brodie 2018-07-11 10:11

Ariel's latest Atom gets power from the current Honda Civic Type R and an all-new chassis

Ariel Aton 4

Ariel has revealed an all-new Atom for 2018, with the small British firm’s latest ultra-lightweight sports car gaining power from the latest Honda Civic Type R.

The Atom 4 arrives 19 years after the debut of the original Atom, and though the basic principle remains much the same as the original 1999 car – even down to the usage of Honda power – Ariel claims that the new Atom is fresh from the ground-up, and every panel is new compared to the Atom 3.5. 

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The car’s distinctive tubular chassis is new, and the main diagonal tubes are of a larger diameter than before. As such, Ariel claims a 15 per cent increase in rigidity. Ariel also says that the new chassis enables more interior space and legroom than previously, with an additional 50mm of cabin length and 20mm of width. The seats can be individually adjusted for the first time ever too. 

The bodywork is a refinement of the trademark Atom shape, with an emphasis on improved aerodynamic performance. Ariel claims that drag has been reduced in tandem with an increase in downforce, with the rate of air flowing to the radiator, intercooler and intakes increased too. The most noticeable design change is the removal of the central roll hoop, which is now integrated into the large air intake. There’s also a fresh nose cone, a new engine cover and a tweaked aero screen spanning the width of the dashboard. 

Behind the driver sits the turbocharged 2.0-litre VTEC four-cylinder used in the current Civic Type R. Codenamed K20C, in the Atom it develops 4bhp more than in the hot Civic, power reaching 320bhp thanks to revised exhaust and intercooler setups. Maximum torque of 420Nm is achieved at 3,000rpm. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed gearbox, and Ariel claims 0-60mph is reeled off in 2.8 seconds, with a top speed of 163mph achievable too.

In tandem with the new engine and extra power, the new Atom 4 sits on larger wheels than before – 16-inches at the front and 17-inches at the rear. Full carbon-fibre wheels are available too.

Sitting beneath the larger wheels are larger brakes. As standard the Atom 4 is equipped with 278mm vented discs at the front and 253mm pieces at the rear. An optional set provided by AP Racing sizes up at 290mm all round with 4 piston calipers. Brake bias can be adjusted through an optional toggle in the cockpit.

Elsewhere, the Atom gains LED indicators, stop and reversing lights and daytime running lights alongside automatic halogen headlights. The switchgear has been revised, and there’s new instrumentation too, with a full colour TFT screen setup.

Ariel will commence Atom 4 production towards the end of 2018, with the first cars set to be delivered in spring next year. The company plans to continue producing around 100 cars annually, with the new Atom 4 priced from £39,975.

Read our road test of the fastest Atom ever - the Atom V8.

New Toyota Camry prototype review
Posted on Wednesday July 11, 2018

New Toyota Camry header
11 Jul, 2018 12:30pm John McIlroy

It won’t trouble the BMW 3 Series, but the Toyota Camry coming to the UK is spacious, refined and comfortable

The Toyota Camry has not been seen in British dealers since 2004, when the rise of diesel caught the petrol-focused global saloon on the hop and the Japanese manufacturer elected to focus on the European-market Avensis instead. Now the Camry name is about to make a return to British dealers - thanks, ironically, to the current down-swing on diesel sales. And Auto Express has had an early taste of a prototype, ahead of sales starting in the first quarter of 2019.

The first thing you notice about the Camry is that it’s not at all a direct successor for the Avensis (production of which has officially ceased). Toyota’s British-built rival for the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia had stayed at roughly the same size throughout its life, but the Camry is an altogether bigger beast. Indeed, at 4,885mm, it’s longer than the already-huge Ford - a reflection of the fact that this model is a huge seller in the United States, where it needs to compete against other ‘mid-sized sedans’.

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The new model is based on the same Toyota New Global Architecture - in effect, a set of chassis components and common parts that we’ve already experienced in everything from the current Prius to the C-HR crossover. In basic terms, it means the new Camry is a front-wheel-drive saloon with MacPherson struts at the front end and a double-wishbone layout at the rear.

It’s also a hybrid - and only a hybrid, if you’re a European customer. American Camrys come with V6 or 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol power, but we’re only being offered the same 2.5 four-pot as part of an electrified set-up that produces 215bhp - enough, Toyota claims, for a 0-62mph time of 8.3 seconds and a top speed of 112mph.

The European Camry has had a nip and a tuck in the right places over its American cousins - a higher grade of cabin materials throughout, different settings for the power steering, and retuned suspension, including what the car’s chief engineer Masato Katsumata calls “a more expensive shock absorbers”.

Toyota believes that greater recognition of hybrid powertrains could lead more buyers to consider the Camry on efficiency grounds, and on paper at least, it should be in the ballpark for the class. Engineers are predicting official average consumption could be around 66mpg, with CO2 emissions of 100g/km - although this still needs to be subjected to the tougher WLTP economy tests.

The trade-off for this frugality in Toyota hybrids of old has tended to be a fairly sterile, binary driving experience, but the Camry is further proof that the firm is chipping away at this compromise. It is not the last word in driver involvement, but based on a short drive on mixed roads near Barcelona, the Camry is comfortable, refined cruising transport - and while its size and weight (around 1.7 tonnes) mean it’s not quite as light on its feet as, say, a punchy petrol 508, it is predictable enough for you to lean on it in corners.

The steering has a satisfying heft to it, and it responds in a quick, linear fashion as you move away from the straight ahead. And the body control is strong for a car that does such a good job of dialling out road imperfections; there’s not much roll to speak of in twistier sections of road.

The powertrain still has the potential to send revs skyrocketing if you suddenly require it to get a move on - but even this is a less frequent occurrence than Toyota hybrids of old. At a steady 70mph, you’ll just notice the gauge on the left side of the instrument panel dropping down into ‘Eco’ to indicate that the petrol motor has been switched off - and the manner in which the system is able to kick it back in is impressively smooth. Even when the engine is running at motorway speeds, it’s not intrusive, and road noise is also nicely suppressed.

The Toyota’s wheelbase is 2,825mm - longer than the Insignia’s but 25mm down on a Mondeo’s. In practical terms there’s space for four six-footers to sit in reasonable comfort, with plenty of knee and headroom.

The boot is a decent size too, at 524 litres (a Mondeo hatch manages 541) - although it’s worth remembering that the Camry is a saloon, not a hatchback, so even if you do lower the rear seats, the size of item could well be limited by the aperture into the load bay. No estate version of the car is planned, incidentally; there aren’t enough potential sales to justify the development bill.

Toyota is still thrashing out final specifications but given the firm’s modest targets for Camry sales in the UK, we’d expect it to focus on higher-end editions. That’s likely to mean a similar interior finish to our test car, which had double-stitched, padded materials in almost all the right places and a logical, if slightly button-heavy layout in the middle of the facia. It feels a match for Mondeo or Insignia, although the likes of the VW Passat and the forthcoming Peugeot 508 may offer a slightly more upmarket feel.

The infotainment system in our car was undergoing fine-tuning but it looks to us like a crisp, responsive touchscreen that could be compromised by a glossy front coating that breeds reflections. It’ll be interesting to see, too, if this is finally a Toyota that at least offers the potential for the user to bypass the firm’s own systems and switch to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. There’s no sign of it just yet.

We’ll hold fire on a star rating until we try a production version but on the evidence of this late prototype, the Toyota Camry should find buyers when it lands in UK dealers. It’s spacious inside, practical enough, refined and comfortable, and assuming it delivers in the tougher WLTP efficiency tests, it should be competitive on company car tax as well. It’s not about to challenge the likes of the BMW 3 Series on driver thrills, but plenty of customers just want their family saloon to be a relaxed mile-cruncher. We see plenty of evidence that the Camry will be able to fulfil that brief.
  • Model: Toyota Camry 2.5 Hybrid
  • Price: £26,000 (est)
  • Engine: 2.5-litre, 4cyl, petrol and electric hybrid drive
  • Power: 215bhp (total system)
  • Transmission: CVT automatic, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 8.3 seconds
  • Top speed: 112mph
  • Economy/CO2: 66mpg (est)/100g/km (est)
  • On sale: Early 2019

New Honda CR-V 2018 review
Posted on Tuesday July 10, 2018

Honda CR-V - front
10 Jul, 2018 9:15pm James Brodie

The Honda CR-V has been around since the beginning of the SUV boom but can the new Mk5 version hold its own against fierce competition

Honda says that this new fifth-generation CR-V is the most important new car it will launch this year. As one of the top selling SUV badges globally, the CR-V is a huge source of business for the Japanese brand and accounted for very nearly a quarter of new cars leaving Honda showrooms across Europe in 2017.

Arguably, the biggest talking point with this all-new Honda CR-V is the lack of a diesel engine option. We can partly look to the current climate of fear surrounding diesel for the reason why Honda’s latest flagship SUV will arrive on sale in Britain this September with a turbocharged 1.5-litre VTEC petrol as the sole powertrain available. A hybrid will join the line-up in 2019 in a bid to deliver lower fleet CO2 emissions. 

Best SUVs to buy now

Front-wheel-drive and manual versions of the CR-V will be available, but the most popular option will be with a ‘Continuously Variable Transmission’ (CVT) sending power to an all-wheel-drive system. Honda anticipates that high spec cars will prove to be the better sellers as well, so the range topper from the European trim level line-up that we tried – more or less equivalent to what EX trim will be in Britain – is fairly representative of how most CR-Vs leaving showrooms here later this year will be equipped.

This new fifth-generation car broadly picks up where the old mk4 CR-V left off from a design point of view, with an evolutionary look and little change to the overall shape. The car itself is the same length, but the wheelbase has been extended by 30mm to free up additional legroom in the back seats. 

As such, the new car feels very spacious, building on one of the outgoing model’s strong points. Both five and seven-seat configurations will appear here, but cars with a third row will only account for a small amount of sales, partly because the extra seats are only really large enough for small children.

As a five-seat proposition the CR-V offers very generous room for legs and heads front and rear, plus a useable middle seat thanks to little intrusion from the transmission tunnel. You’ll certainly have little trouble transporting five adults. 

The interior takes a step up from a design and quality standpoint, too. The large and clear digital instrument panel from the Civic appears, while the plastics used on the redesigned dashboard and at arm’s height are fairly soft to the touch, with harder stuff relegated to the bottom halves of the dash and doors.

The seven-inch infotainment display is neatly integrated with a new touch sensitive side bar and a gloss black housing. It’s still Honda’s slightly fiddly user interface with dated graphics, however, and there are much slicker and sharper looking systems in similarly priced rivals. 

The boot space on offer is generous, but it comes with a caveat. The 561-litre space with all seats in place means the CR-V is right at the top of the class with the Peugeot 3008 the only real rival that can better it. The big ‘but’ here is that the new CR-V’s boot is actually smaller than the vast 589 litres offered in the old car. A cavernous 1,756 litres is what you’ll get if you fold the rear seats down though, and it’s still possible to make the load bay completely flat with an adjustable boot floor. Throw-in plenty of cubby spaces around the cabin, plus simple one-action straps and levers to fold everything flat, and this feels like a car families will get on very well with.

The new CR-V is better to drive than before as well. A new steering system means that the car no longer feels as vague, and delivers sharper, more linear and predictable responses. This CR-V has been on sale in the United States for around a year now, and in that time Honda made the decision to equip the European car with a tweaked suspension system featuring new dampers. 

We’ll have to see how the car copes with British roads to truly ascertain if Honda has nailed the CR-V’s ride, but it felt decently composed over every Austrian pothole we could find. It also refused to jolt and be caught out at lower speeds. 

With only one engine available from launch, all early customers will take on a car equipped with a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol. In the Civic this engine is a keen all-round performer, and one of the reasons why Honda’s hatchback is among the best driving family cars you can buy. 

Sadly, it’s not quite as convincing in the CR-V. It’s nice at a cruise, but with modest torque reserves the engine is called on more frequently, and once the CVT transmission has grabbed and held a handful of revs the cabin is no longer a truly quiet place to be. A brief spin in a front-wheel-drive, manual car proved to be an even louder experience too. 

It also means that until the arrival of the CR-V hybrid, 39.8mpg is as frugal as things get for the CR-V - that’s a figure achieved under less stringent and soon to be replaced NEDC standards too. All-wheel-drive rivals with diesel power will be cheaper to run, while slightly more compact, five-seat only competitors like the Skoda Karoq and Peugeot 3008 are available with downsized, more economical and cheaper petrol options.

3.5
Honda’s CR-V has evolved into what could well be an enticing package for families when it arrives later in 2018. The compact SUV has a decently appointed and spacious cabin, plus what will probably translate to good ride quality on our pockmarked roads. Its appeal will be limited by the decision to offer the new car with just a single petrol engine for now though.
  • Model: Honda CR-V EX 1.5 VTEC Turbo AWD
  • Price: £35,000 (est)
  • Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
  • Power/Torque: 190bhp/243Nm
  • Transmission: Continuously variable transmission, all-wheel-drive
  • 0-60mph/Top speed: 10s/124mph
  • Economy/CO2: 39.8mpg/162g/km
  • On sale : September 2018

New Aston Martin DBS Superleggera prototype review
Posted on Tuesday July 10, 2018

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera prototype - front
11 Jul, 2018 9:00am Sean Carson

We drive a prototype version of the V12 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera, which blends performance with panache in a 211mph package

Aston Martin’s Second Century business plan continues apace. The recent DB11 AMR improved the DB11 launched in 2016, and the latest Vantage has earned plenty of praise.

Next up is this DBS Superleggera, which will join the line-up later this year. And Aston invited Auto Express to try it in final prototype form, getting the full briefing from its chief engineer, Matt Becker.

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“It’s the brute of the range,” Becker tells us. The DBS gets the 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12 carried over from the DB11. The engine uses the same hardware, but with more boost pressure from those turbos and a remap, the motor is making 715bhp and 900Nm of torque. There’s a new eight-speed auto gearbox, too. These ferocious figures mean the latest Aston covers the 0-62mph dash in 3.4 seconds, is good for 0-100mph in an astonishing 6.4 seconds and has a top speed of 211mph.

The figure that Becker is particularly proud of, though, is the time it takes the Superleggera to go from 50 to 100mph in fourth gear: just 4.2 seconds.

On the road, even in patchy, damp conditions, it feels explosively fast. Peak torque hits from just 1,800rpm and is sustained to 5,000rpm. Pull the right paddle and the engine drops right back into the heart of that torque and the onslaught of acceleration continues.

The V12’s character is fully present; it’s 10 decibels louder than the DB11, with some fairly overt rumbles and crackles on the overrun. Becker says: “I wanted usable performance from the engine and chassis. The car needs to be quick, obviously, but it needs to be accessible as well.”

It certainly feels it. The steering set-up has a nice weight and speed for a big GT car like this. In the softest GT chassis mode there’s plenty of compliance on 21-inch wheels and the front and rear axles’ damping feels well matched. There is a balance of control and compliance that lets the DBS flow and breathe with the road. You can make extremely rapid progress without compromising comfort.

In Sport and Sport + damper modes you feel an extra tautness; increased focus with a proportional decrease in roll. And this fits with where the DBS sits in the range, according to Becker. It’s 15 per cent stiffer and 15mm lower than a DB11, and only slightly less agile than the Vantage.

The ‘Superleggera’ tag pertains to the carbon-fibre front clamshell, bumpers and an optional carbon roof, but at 1,693kg dry, it’s still no featherweight. Aero improvements include new venturies and a new diffuser contributing to a total of 180kg of downforce. That’s a big gain over the DB11, which produces 50kg of lift at the front and just 20kg of downforce at the rear.

There are a few drawbacks, such as the gearbox. It’s unobtrusive and smooth in auto, but manual shifts in Sport + occasionally send a shudder through the structure. Remember, though, this is still a prototype and final calibration tweaks are still being applied.

  • Model: Aston Martin DBS Superleggera
  • Price: £225,000
  • Engine: 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12
  • Power/torque: 715bhp/900Nm
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 3.4 seconds
  • Top speed: 211mph
  • Economy/CO2: 23.0mpg/285g/km
  • On sale: Autumn

New Audi Sport Performance Parts R8 revealed
Posted on Tuesday July 10, 2018

Alex Ingram 2018-07-10 15:20

Motorsport-inspired R8 special based on the V10 Plus limited to just five units in the UK, priced from £176,560

Audi Sport Performance Parts R8 front

The Audi R8 has received a motorsports-inspired makeover in an ultra rare special edition. Known as the Audi Sport Performance Parts R8, the new model is based on the R8 V10 Plus and receives a mix of aerodynamic, weight saving and cosmetic upgrades.

The most obvious changes are the aero tweaks, all of which are finished in bare carbon fibre. At the front, a deep splitter sits between wider air intakes that feature fins to channel air into them, and canards to guide air around the car’s flanks.

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The flanks feature wider sill extensions, and at the back there’s a gaping rear diffuser and a huge fixed, top-mounted rear wing. The changes mean that at 205mph, the Performance Parts R8 generates 250kg of downforce - an increase of 100kg over the regular R8 Plus.

Audi Sport Performance Parts R8 rear

The standard car’s suspension setup has been replaced with a set of three-way adjustable coilovers, while a set of milled 20-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tyres help to reduce unsprung mass by 8kg. A set of titanium backing plates for the brakes shave a few more grammes, while the carbon ceramic discs are gripped by a pads constructed from a more fade-resistant material.

The new special edition uses the same mid-mounted V10 as the R8 V10 Plus. That means that the 5.2-litre unit makes 602bhp and 560Nm. The V10’s howl is helped to sound its most glorious thanks to the standard fitment of the Audi R8 sport exhaust.

Cosmetically, the Performance Parts R8 is only available in a Misano Red paint finish, while inside there’s an alcantara-trimmed steering wheel with a red 12 o’clock marker and nappa leather seats.

Build numbers for the Audi Sport Performance Parts R8 will be strictly limited: 44 examples will be produced, with just five coming to the UK in right-hand drive, each priced from £176,560.

Check out the Audi R8 Spyder V10 Plus

Skoda planning hot all-electric eRS models
Posted on Tuesday July 10, 2018

Steve Fowler 2018-07-10 13:25

The new 2020 Skoda Vision E-based SUV to wear hot eRS badge

Skoda Vision E

Skoda’s history of producing hot RS versions of its mainstream models will spread into its future electric models, Auto Express can reveal. 

The Czech firm’s first all-electric car will be a production version of the Vision E concept revealed at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show and due on sale at the end of 2020. It’ll be based on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB electric car platform alongside VW’s I.D. models.

Skoda Vision E concept review

Speaking to Auto Express, Alain Favey, Skoda’s board member for sales and marketing, confirmed: “There will be electric versions of vRS – eRS. The logic is the same – it’s not about performance as such. Our most powerful engine is 245bhp so by any stretch of imagination we’re not talking about Ferrari

“It’s about the experience and that’s something we can do very well in our future electric cars. Definitely we will have RS versions of our electric cars – it’s part of our brand. It’s about the look, it’s about the sporty feeling when you’re driving the car, it’s about the seats, it’s about the experience and I think that’s what our customers like.”

However, Favey confirmed that Skoda will only offer its EV with one battery output, hinting that the eRS version will focus on handling and cosmetic enhancements rather than increased performance. The unnamed production EV is expected to look very much like the Vision E concept, with Favey saying: “Vision E will give you a good idea of what our electric car will look like.” 

Favey also confirmed it will have a range of over 300 miles, saying: “If it doesn’t have a range of 300 miles we shouldn’t come to the market – it’ll be 300 miles plus.”  The new EV will also have a premium price, with Favey saying that he expected it to match up with the more expensive Kodiaq models, meaning a starting price around the £30,000 mark. 

Skoda’s dealers will be gearing up for the new EV’s launch with an all-electric version of the Citigo, due for launch late next year. “We have two years to improve the competence of our dealer network [in relation to EVs],” said Favey. He was also expecting dealers to offer customers high-speed charging, referring to that as a business opportunity for the network.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of life in the vRS brand, too, with Favey hinting that a vRS version of the next Fabia, due in 2021, is on the cards “We’re working on different options including a vRS,” he told us.

Are you excited about Skoda's electric future? Let us know your thoughts below...

Bugatti Divo hypercar teased ahead of August reveal
Posted on Tuesday July 10, 2018

Alex Ingram 2018-07-10 13:20

New €5 million Bugatti Divo hypercar to focus on handling and cornering by shedding weight and adding downforce

Bugatti has teased the new Divo: a limited-run hypercar which, when launched, will be priced from €5 million.

Details about the new model remain scarce for now, but the marque claims a focus of less weight and high downforce are the priority for the Divo, making this a Bugatti that, unlike the Chiron and the Veyron before it, will be less about the straights and more about the corners.

New Bugatti Chiron review

Considering it’s expected to share the Chiron’s 8.0-litre quad-turbo W16 engine, outright performance shouldn’t be lacking though. Maximum power should be somewhere in the region of 1,479bhp and torque at 1600Nm, enough for a top speed which, despite the Divo’s increased downforce relative to the Chiron, should still be well north of 230mph. Acceleration figures should be a match for the Chiron too, so a circa-2.5 second 0-62mph time is likely.


Like the engine, the Divo’s carbon tub will be borrowed from the Chiron. However, Bugatti makes reference to reviving the coachbuilding tradition of its early years, so expect a unique appearance from the outside.

It remains to be seen how the Divo will shed the pounds relative to the Chiron. The Chiron’s more hardcore variant, the Chiron Sport, took measures including thinner glass and a carbon fibre windscreen wiper to save weight.

In an official statement, Bugatti president Stephan Winkelmann that with the Divo, the brand aims to “thrill people throughout the world,” and that it gives Bugatti the chance to “interpret the brand DNA in terms of agile, nimble handling in a significantly more performance-oriented way.”

Limited to just 40 units, the name is a reference to Albert Divo, a French racing driver who piloted a Bugatti Type 35 to a pair of Targa Florio victories in 1928 and 1929.

The Divo is due to be unveiled at ‘The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering’ in Monterey, California on 24 August.

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1994 DODGE DAKOTA Prothane Leaf Spring Eye/Shackle Bushing Kit 1993 DODGE DAKOTA Prothane Leaf Spring Eye/Shackle Bushing Kit 1992 DODGE DAKOTA Prothane Leaf Spring Eye/Shackle Bushing Kit 1991 DODGE DAKOTA Prothane Leaf Spring Eye/Shackle Bushing Kit 1997 DODGE RAM 1500 Prothane Leaf Spring Eye/Shackle Bushing Kit 1998 DODGE RAM 1500 Prothane Leaf Spring Eye/Shackle Bushing Kit 1999 DODGE RAM 1500 Prothane Leaf Spring Eye/Shackle Bushing Kit 1995 DODGE RAM 3500 Prothane Leaf Spring Eye/Shackle Bushing Kit 1996 DODGE RAM 2500 Prothane Leaf Spring Eye/Shackle Bushing Kit 1997 DODGE RAM 1500 Prothane Leaf Spring Eye/Shackle Bushing Kit 1998 DODGE RAM 1500 Prothane Leaf Spring Eye/Shackle Bushing Kit 1999 DODGE RAM 1500 Prothane Leaf Spring Eye/Shackle Bushing Kit 1995 DODGE RAM 3500 Prothane Leaf Spring Eye/Shackle Bushing Kit 1996 DODGE RAM 2500 Prothane Leaf Spring Eye/Shackle Bushing Kit 2010 JEEP WRANGLER (JK) Smittybilt XRC M.O.D. Option - Full Width End Plates 2013 JEEP WRANGLER (JK) Smittybilt XRC M.O.D. Option - Full Width End Plates 2011 JEEP WRANGLER (JK) Smittybilt XRC M.O.D. Option - Full Width End Plates 2014 JEEP WRANGLER (JK) Smittybilt XRC M.O.D. Option - Full Width End Plates 2015 JEEP WRANGLER (JK) Smittybilt XRC M.O.D. Option - Full Width End Plates 2010 JEEP WRANGLER (JK) Smittybilt XRC M.O.D. Option - Bull Bar 2013 JEEP WRANGLER (JK) Smittybilt XRC M.O.D. Option - Bull Bar 2011 JEEP WRANGLER (JK) Smittybilt XRC M.O.D. Option - Bull Bar 2014 JEEP WRANGLER (JK) Smittybilt XRC M.O.D. Option - Bull Bar 2015 JEEP WRANGLER (JK) Smittybilt XRC M.O.D. Option - Bull Bar 1980 JEEP CHEROKEE (SJ) Omix-Ada Exhaust Manifold Gasket 1980 JEEP CJ5 Omix-Ada Exhaust Manifold Gasket 1980 JEEP CJ7 Omix-Ada Exhaust Manifold Gasket 1980 JEEP WAGONEER Omix-Ada Exhaust Manifold Gasket 1979 JEEP CHEROKEE (SJ) Omix-Ada Exhaust Manifold Gasket 2008 JEEP COMMANDER Omix-Ada Exhaust Gasket 2008 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE (WK) Omix-Ada Exhaust Gasket 2007 JEEP COMMANDER Omix-Ada Exhaust Gasket 2007 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE (WK) Omix-Ada Exhaust Gasket 2006 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE (WK) Omix-Ada Exhaust Gasket 1986 JEEP COMANCHE Omix-Ada Exhaust Manifold Gasket 2002 JEEP LIBERTY Omix-Ada Exhaust Manifold Gasket Set 2003 JEEP WRANGLER (TJ) Omix-Ada Exhaust Manifold Gasket Set 2004 JEEP WRANGLER (TJ) Omix-Ada Exhaust Manifold Gasket Set 2005 JEEP WRANGLER (TJ) Omix-Ada Exhaust Manifold Gasket Set 2006 JEEP WRANGLER (TJ) Omix-Ada Exhaust Manifold Gasket Set 1999 CHEVROLET S10 BLAZER Street Scene Street Scene Speed Grille Main Grille Insert 2000 CHEVROLET S10 BLAZER Street Scene Street Scene Speed Grille Main Grille Insert 2001 CHEVROLET S10 BLAZER Street Scene Street Scene Speed Grille Main Grille Insert 1998 CHEVROLET S10 PICKUP Street Scene Street Scene Speed Grille Main Grille Insert 2003 CHEVROLET S10 PICKUP Street Scene Street Scene Speed Grille Main Grille Insert 2000 GMC S15 JIMMY Street Scene Street Scene Speed Grille Main Grille Insert 2002 GMC SONOMA Street Scene Street Scene Speed Grille Main Grille Insert 2001 GMC SONOMA Street Scene Street Scene Speed Grille Main Grille Insert 2003 GMC SONOMA Street Scene Street Scene Speed Grille Main Grille Insert 2001 GMC S15 JIMMY Street Scene Street Scene Speed Grille Main Grille Insert 2010 JEEP WRANGLER (JK) Go Rhino BRJ40 Front Bumper with Rockline Light Bar Mount and Full End Caps 2013 JEEP WRANGLER (JK) Go Rhino BRJ40 Front Bumper with Rockline Light Bar Mount and Full End Caps 2011 JEEP WRANGLER (JK) Go Rhino BRJ40 Front Bumper with Rockline Light Bar Mount and Full End Caps 2014 JEEP WRANGLER (JK) Go Rhino BRJ40 Front Bumper with Rockline Light Bar Mount and Full End Caps

 

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