Alpina B5 BiTurbo 2018 UK review

Alpina B5 BiTurbo saloon front

The B5 BiTurbo is an immensely covetable machine that trades the smallest amount of handling precision for greater overall ride comfort

There aren’t many cars that have road testers reaching more hurriedly for their diaries than a new Alpina, and that’s because these rarely seen Bavarian wonders marry character and usability in a way that never fails to generate significant levels of real-world appeal.In this case, that’s especially true, because the new B5 BiTurbo – a car we’ve driven before but not in this country, not on the road and not in saloon form – is perhaps the ultimate expression of what the company does best. Remarkably similar to an M5 on paper, it trades a small degree of handling precision for greater overall ride comfort that, of course, sounds very appealing for real-world driving.Even for those aware that Alpina is about more than deco pinstripes and decadent power, the specification of this new 205mph mega-saloon will make for invigorating reading. It starts life as a 456bhp M550i, which is a model never before offered in the UK but relatively popular Stateside.The 4.4-litre ‘N63TU2’ V8 is given a wider-bore intake and new twin-scroll turbos that operate in parallel. A new intercooler is subsequently fitted along with a brace of additional radiators, another oil cooler, as well as uprated pistons and spark plugs.Alpina then installs a lightweight exhaust – complete with a switchable valve – that reduces back pressure and results in a grand total of 600bhp at 5750rpm and 590lb ft at 3000rpm, although four-fifths of that colossal torque comes into play at just 2000rpm. It’s channelled through a paddleshift-operated eight-speed ZF torque-converter transmission, which has also been tweaked.The resulting performance figures – 0-62mph in 3.5sec and 0-124mph in 11.4sec, using the car’s launch mode – are all but indistinguishable from those of an M5 and nip at the heels of the mid-engined supercar fraternity.Yet, despite the supercar powertrain, it’s the chassis where Alpina really leaves its mark on BMW’s preliminary efforts. Shorter, stiffer springs have been fitted, and the Touring version’s rear axle is suspended pneumatically.The front axle also benefits from an entirely bespoke wishbone design that applies a degree more negative camber. If any one thing illustrates the lengths to which this company will go to engineer into the chassis a uncommon combination pliancy and dexterity – one that makes the cars seem almost indispensable to many owners – it’s this.The B5 BiTurbo is also the first time that Alpina’s take on a red-hot 5 Series uses either four-wheel drive or the active roll stabilisation currently favoured by manufacturers of quick SUVs. Even with all the extra hardware, the car is a touch lighter than the previous generation.

Source: Autocar Online

2018 Volkswagen Lavida: new version of China-only saloon launched

2018 Volkswagen Lavida targets segment domination in China

New version of the country’s best-selling three-box model sits on MQB underpinnings

Volkswagen has unveiled a new version of its China-only Lavida saloon with ambitions of maintaining its stronghold at the top of the country’s new car market.

The outgoing Lavida was the best selling three-box model in China last year, with 450,000 registrations. It represented one in seven cars sold by Volkswagen in China.

The four-door model, which is smaller than the Passat and Jetta, is built in China via Volkswagen’s joint venture with SAIC and uses MQB underpinnings.

Its design mixes familiar Volkswagen lines with market-specific features, such as a chrome strip across the nose.

The Lavida is being shown alongside the new CC – China’s version of the Arteon – as well as the new Touareg, which was recently revealed in Beijing ahead of the show.

China is Volkswagen’s biggest market; 3.2 million of its cars were sold there last year, almost double the number the brand achieved in Europe. As such, much of Volkswagen’s investment is now focused on China.

It will launch 12 China-only SUV models by 2020 and 10 electric models by 2023, with the intention to sell around 650,000 electric cars in the country annually by 2025. 

Volkswagen is also showing the recently revealed ID Vizzion electric saloon concept at the Beijing motor show.

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Source: Autocar Online

2018 Volkswagen Lavida to capitalise on China's continuing love for saloons

2018 Volkswagen Lavida targets segment domination in China

New version of the country’s best-selling three-box model sits on MQB underpinnings

Volkswagen has unveiled a new version of its China-only Lavida saloon with ambitions of maintaining its stronghold at the top of the country’s new car market.

The outgoing Lavida was the best selling three-box model in China last year, with 450,000 registrations. It represented one in seven cars sold by Volkswagen in China.

The four-door model, which is smaller than the Passat and Jetta, is built in China via Volkswagen’s joint venture with SAIC and uses MQB underpinnings.

Its design mixes familiar Volkswagen lines with market-specific features, such as a chrome strip across the nose.

The Lavida is being shown alongside the new CC – China’s version of the Arteon – as well as the new Touareg, which was recently revealed in Beijing ahead of the show.

China is Volkswagen’s biggest market; 3.2 million of its cars were sold there last year, almost double the number the brand achieved in Europe. As such, much of Volkswagen’s investment is now focused on China.

It will launch 12 China-only SUV models by 2020 and 10 electric models by 2023, with the intention to sell around 650,000 electric cars in the country annually by 2025. 

Volkswagen is also showing the recently revealed ID Vizzion electric saloon concept at the Beijing motor show.

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Source: Autocar Online

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon unveiled as Audi A3 Saloon rival

Mercedes-Benz A-class saloon

The new Mercedes-Benz model is aimed squarely at the Audi A3 saloon

Saloon version of latest A-Class will arrive on roads in Britain later this year

Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the definitive production version of its A-Class Saloon at the 2018 Beijing motor show ahead of a UK launch for the new model later this year.

The sixth member of Mercedes-Benz’s compact car line-up, which goes under the internal codename Z177, draws heavily on the earlier Concept A saloon unveiled at last year’s Shanghai motor show with an appearance that combines the distinctive front-end styling of the recently introduced fourth-generation A-Class hatchback with a rear-end reminiscent of the latest third-generation CLS.

Although the A-Class Saloon sold in China, or the A-Class L Saloon as it is officially named, receives a 60mm longer wheelbase than that planned for sale in the UK, officials confirm the two variants of the new four-door boast the same styling.

“They’re the same model but in different lengths. The added length of the Chinese version is concentrated wholly within the rear door, which is longer than that of the A-Class Saloon to be sold in other world markets to ease entry to the rear,” Mercedes-Benz’s chief design officer, Gorden Wagener, revealed to Autocar.

The new Mercedes-Benz model is aimed squarely at the Audi A3 Saloon. It is one of eight new compact models planned by the German car maker, including the new A-Class hatchback as well as successors to the existing B-class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake and GLA, as well a new compact SUV likely to be named the GLB and an as yet to be confirmed model.

At 4609mm in length, 1796mm in width and 1460mm in height, the Chinese version of the A-Class Saloon is 77mm shorter, 14mm narrower and 18mm higher than the existing standard wheelbase C-Class Saloon, as sold in the UK.

It also rides on a wheelbase that is just 51mm shorter than the standard wheelbase C-Class at 2789mm, with wheels that vary in diameter between 16in and 19in. 

For other global markets, including the UK, the new four-door will receive a 60mm shorter wheelbase at 2729mm, reducing its length to 4549mm, making it 91mm longer than the Audi A3 Saloon.

For the Chinese version, boot capacity is put at 420 litres, 5 litres less than that offered by the A3 Saloon.

Inside, the new A-Class Saloon adopts the same high-quality dashboard and advanced infotainment functions as the new A-Class hatchback, including Mercedes-Benz’s new MBUX operating system that introduces touchscreen control, conversational speech recognition and the ability for two users to connect simultaneously.

In China, the A-Class Saloon will initially be sold with a turbocharged 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 134bhp in base form or 161bhp in a mildly higher state of tune. It will be joined shortly after the new four-door’s introduction by a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol unit with 188bhp.  

Both engines will be offered exclusively with a standard seven-speed dual clutch gearbox, with the case of the smaller-engined models getting a Getrag-produced gearbox.

Chinese versions of the new A-class saloon will be produced at Beijing Benz Automotive – a joint-venture operation between Beijing Automotive Industry Corporation and Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler.

Read more 

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Source: Autocar Online

Lilium flying taxi to be designed by McLaren P1 designer

Lilium flying taxi

Renowned designer Frank Stephenson has been hired to work on a new electric flying car that’s due to go into service in 2025

Lilium, the German start-up developing an electric flying taxi, has hired renowned automotive designer Frank Stephenson to work on its first vehicle.

Stephenson, responsible for the design of cars such as the McLaren P1, Fiat 500 and Ferrari F430, has been tasked with mixing car and plane design in the flying taxi. The interior will be designed to resemble that of a car.

The flying taxi completed its first unmanned flight in April 2017. It is due to take to the skies with its first manned flight next year before becoming a fully fledged ride hailing service that uses a smartphone app (like Uber) from 2025.

The vehicle is being developed to use 36 electric jet engines that are attached to its wings and enable vertical take-off, negating the need for a runway. The taxi is claimed to be capable of speeds of up to 186mph or, if flown economically, a range of 186 miles to one charge.

Stephenson told Reuters: “What’s so incredibly exciting about this is we’re not talking about modifying a car to take to the skies, and we are not talking about modifying a helicopter to work in a better way.”

Lilium intends for its flying taxi to offer ride hailers a faster and more direct mode of transport, with commuters expected to be among the main benefiters. Air restrictions in most countries don’t always allow aircraft to travel ‘as the crow flies’, so adjustments to legislation might be required for the taxi to maximise its effectiveness.

Lilium is working to be among the very first to commercialise its electric flying taxi. Uber, the leading ride hailing taxi company, intends to put its own flying taxis into the air from 2020. It expects the charge customers around $1.32 per mile (about 95p).

Lilium is backed by Tencent, a Chinese internet giant that invested $90 million (about £64.5m) into the German start-up last year.

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Source: Autocar Online

This startup’s CEO wants to open-source self-driving car safety testing

Enlarge (credit: Voyage)

Uber’s fatal car crash last month continues to have repercussions, with self-driving taxi start-up Voyage announcing today that it will open-source its safety procedures, documents, and code in the hope of avoiding future deaths.

“I had to spend time after [the Uber crash] calming people down, telling folks at our deployments that it was an isolated incident,” says Voyage CEO Oliver Cameron in an exclusive interview with Ars Technica. “But the truth is that everyone in the industry is reinventing the technology and safety processes themselves, which is incredibly dangerous. Open source means more eyes, more diversity, and more feedback.”

Starting today, Voyage will begin to share safety requirements, test scenarios, metrics, tools, and code that it has developed for its own Level 4 self-driving taxis. Five Voyage cars are currently deployed carrying passengers within two retirement communities in California and Florida.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica

Opinion: Maybach's SUV concept reminds us how different Chinese tastes are

The new Maybach concept

China is the world’s biggest new car market, so it’s having a profound effect on the world of design

There hasn’t been wildly positive reactions to the new Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury concept in the Autocar office, unveiled in pictures today ahead of its debut at the Beijing motor show tomorrow.

It has been very firmly positioned as a concept for China – and no wonder.

Between the challenging rear, the rose gold flourishes and tea set inside, it certainly doesn’t cater for European tastes.

The car is also a stark contrast to the beautiful Maybach 6 Cabriolet concept shown at Pebble Beach last summer. Perhaps Mercedes design boss Gorden Wagener is just very clued up on his respective markets; the 6 Cabriolet perfectly suited Pebble Beach’s clientele and, presumably (hopefully), the Ultimate Luxury perfectly suits China’s.

More broadly speaking, these differing tastes are a constant challenge for car makers, many of which must create global cars rather than ones built for specific markets.

Citroën, for example, has what it calls ‘eight silhouettes’ on which its cars are based. That they are called silhouettes rather than cars, I think, is because each rears its head in different forms depending on the market. Whatever you call it, that makes sense in this day and age.

For example, the C4 Aircross, to be revealed at the show, will be for China only and is that country’s answer to the C3 Aircross, which is built on the same platform. But there are some notable differences. The C4 Aircross has a different front-end design, a skid plate and twin tailpipe at the rear and is 12cm longer to accommodate more rear space.

That last feature encapsulates perhaps the biggest difference between China and the rest of the world.

We know that the Chinese lifestyle means it’s far more common to carry passengers in the rear. That’s not just at the high end of the market, where affluent businesspeople are chauffeured around, but also in smaller cars. So much so that volume manufacturers of compact cars – such as the C4 Aircross – adapt their products to suit China. We’ve also spoken to plenty of car makers in a similar market space that make the rear of Chinese models better equipped for passengers, who are often elderly parents.

The long-wheelbase variants at Beijing don’t stop there. Audi is launching not only its new A8 L at the show but also the Q5 L, the first long-wheelbase SUV from the German brand.

We mustn’t forget the elephant in the room, either. The C word. Chrome. We know, from buying trends and speaking to plenty of car designers, that Chinese car buyers love chrome. The rest of the world does not.

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Source: Autocar Online

Opinion: Copycats like the BJ80 6×6 hurt China's car industry

BJ80 6×6

The BJ80 6×6. Looks familiar… (Image from carnewschina.com)

With another copycat car on the horizon, we discuss where China’s heading

We need to talk about the Beijing Auto BJ80. Sigh. You’d have seen it; it’s China’s unwelcome answer to the old Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6.

It’s a wholly unnecessary clone that will make for one of the talking points of the Beijing motor show, and not because there’s little to nothing Mercedes-Benz can do about it since Beijing Auto is a joint venture partner of Mercedes and that apple cart will not want to be rocked.

Why it’s disappointing is because it feels like such a backward step for the Chinese car industry. In the Autocar still on sale this week in print, and in an article soon to appear online, Greg Kable runs us through the complete A-Z of the Chinese car industry.

What’s revealed is an industry of huge progression and now innovation, particularly in the field of electrification, with more than one eye on leading the global car industry, not merely imitating and catching up with it.

So such copycat designs – those made famous through the likes of Landwind’s Range Rover Evoque rip-off and Zoyte’s Porsche Macan clone – already feel like they are from a bygone era.

Half a dozen years ago, Chinese cars all felt like Honda Civics from the 1980s.

In the past couple of years, it’s only the dynamics, branding and perceived quality of vehicles that China has to catch up with, such is its industry’s progress. 

At the most recent Chinese show in Guangzhou, the talk was all of European launches with new dedicated brands built around SUVs and electric cars. I’d expect even more progress to have been made in the six months since my last visit to China.

Yet at Guangzhou, there were not cars like the BJ80. Beijing, the biggest biennial show in China (rotating with Shanghai), seems to signal an unwelcome showcase for this tiring side of the Chinese motor industry.

Shame. Because for the mainstream media that might only write one story from the show, it’s the likes of the ‘look at how silly it is’ BJ80 that might steal the headlines, rather than the progress China is making towards being a huge export player in the global car market.

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Source: Autocar Online

2018 Audi Q8 previewed with new image ahead of summer launch

2018 Audi Q8 previewed with new image ahead of summer reveal

Audi has issued its first preview image of the new Q8

Audi will take on the BMW X6 with a plush, high-tech five-seater that will top an eight-model SUV line-up

Audi has issued a first preview image of its upcoming Q8 SUV that confirms it’ll have a sleek roofline to make it a natural rival to the BMW X6.

Although the new picture arrives in the week of the Beijing motor show, Autocar understands the Q8 won’t be shown there but rather is due for launch in the summer.

The car has been spotted on multiple occasions in recent months, providing an even clearer glimpse of how it’ll look on the road. Much of its design has stayed true to that of the Q8 concept, from which the car takes influence. It retains an SUV-coupé roofline, LED headlights and tail-lights, as well as a broad, eight-corner, single-frame grille up front.

Audi Q8 Sport Concept previews range-topping large SUV

Much of the Q8’s mechanical package will be shared with the smaller Q7. The difference in size between the two models is best illustrated in pictures (see gallery) of the cars testing alongside one another. The Q8 appears near identical in width and length, but its more swept-back roofline makes it slightly lower.

Due to arrive with an entry-level price of around £55,000, the Q8 will sit alongside the A8 at the top of the firm’s range and therefore offer similar levels of luxury.

“I could imagine an executive being driven to work every day in their A8 and then spending the weekend driving themselves in their Q8,” Audi boss Rupert Stadler previously told Autocar. “The Q8 will have global appeal in all of the major markets – Europe, China, the US, Russia and more, so we are very excited about it.”

The Q8 is one of seven new SUV models currently under development at Audi and scheduled for launch before the end of the decade. It joins the Q2 and renewed Q3 and Q5, plus a new Q1 and Q4, as well as the electric E-tron, which has recently been previewed with the announcement of its technical specifications.

Audi’s intensive focus on SUVs follows worldwide sales figures that revealed every third car sold by the brand hails from its line-up of ‘Q’ models.  

The new flagship Q8 will come with an extended range of petrol, diesel and hybrid powertrains. At the entry level will be a 3.0-litre TDI. The bulk of the range is made up of new V6 and V8 petrol and diesels, while at the top of the range will be a secret new petrol-electric plug-in hybrid system. The electrified powertrain is being developed in partnership with Porsche and is claimed to give the Q8 an electric-only range of up to 31 miles.

High-tech options

Among the new Audi’s arsenal of options will be many of the advanced systems developed for the latest A8, such as a 48V electric system, OLED high-definition digital displays and the very latest in autonomous driving functions.

Audi design boss Marc Lichte has championed the Q8’s sportier design, having revealed plans for a more dramatic design as early as 2016. He told Autocar earlier this year that the Q8 would be a new example of Audi’s departure from ‘Russian Doll’ design, although it is still instantly recognisable as an Audi.

As with the upcoming Q4 and Q6, the Q8 has a five-door layout, with four conventional front-hinged doors and a large liftback-style tailgate for access to its boot.

Although it features a more rakish rear than the Q7 that cuts into boots pace, Lichte believes the storage capacity of the Q8 will still eclipse rivals because the roof line drops dramatically around the C-pillar, meaning space is reduced only at the very end of the car.

The Q8 is said to be 5050mm long and 1970mm wide. By comparison, the Mercedes-Benz GLE is 4900mm long, 2000mm wide and 1700mm tall, while the Range Rover Sport has respective dimensions of 4850mm, 1985mm and 1780mm – and the sportier Range Rover Velar is even smaller than that.

Lightweight platform

As with the Q7, the Q8 is based on the latest version of Audi’s MLB platform, here with a 2990mm wheelbase.

Reflecting the Q8’s more sporting brief, Audi insiders said it is also in line to receive track widths that extend beyond the Q7’s, which are 1680mm at the front and 1690mm at the rear.

As with the Q7, the body structure of the Q8 is set to make extensive use of aluminium in a bid to push lower-end models below the 2000kg mark.

Further weight-saving measures include the selected used of carbonfibre in non-load-bearing structures, as seen on the R8 supercar.

The Q8’s new V6 and V8 engines come from a joint venture between Audi and Porsche that carries the internal codename KoVoMo. They are also to be used by Bentley and Volkswagen.

The units are based around a shared 90deg architecture and will feature a common 500cc individual cylinder capacity, making for capacities of 3.0 and 4.0-litres. The new engines feature gas-driven turbochargers in the first stage of production.

Hybrid powertrains

Audi insiders have hinted that electric turbocharging, supported by the Q8’s 48V electrical system, may also be introduced at a later date.

The KoVoMo engine is claimed to be at the centre of a secret new plug-in petrol-electric hybrid system tipped for introduction on the Q8 and the third-generation Porsche Cayenne, which is due in showrooms this April.

It is likely to be one of two hybrid systems offered on the new Audi, joining the diesel-electric system already announced for the Q7.

Of greater importance to the UK market will be the diesel engine range. Included among the launch line-up will be at least two variants of Audi’s familiar 3.0-litre V6 unit.

A potent SQ8 model with the advanced triple-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 diesel recently revealed in the SQ7 is also expected.

Inside, the Q8 will receive a reworked version of the Q7’s high tec cockpit, featuring a more driver-oriented centre console. Unlike the seven-seat Q7, though, the Q8 will be available with a five-seat layout only.

As part of a comprehensive connectivity package, Audi is working on providing over-the-air updates for future incarnations of its MMI (Multi Media Interface) infotainment system.

These include real-time sat-nav updates via the Here system being developed in a joint venture with BMW and Mercedes-Benz’s parent company, Daimler.

The Q8 is scheduled to be built at Volkswagen’s Bratislava plant in Slovakia alongside the current Q7, new Porsche Cayenne and new Volkswagen Touareg, which was recently revealed.

Additional reporting by Jim Holder

BMW iX3: first preview pictures of upcoming electric SUV

Mercedes-Maybach Vision Ultimate Luxury electric SUV concept revealed



Source: Autocar Online

Mercedes-Maybach Vision Ultimate Luxury electric SUV concept revealed

Mercedes-Maybach Vision Ultimate Luxury

The new Mercedes-Maybach concept has been conceived to run an electric powertrain

New 740bhp concept SUV provides an insight into the future for Mercedes’ luxury sub-brand

Mercedes’ Maybach luxury sub-brand has shown its intention to add a new SUV to its range with the unveiling of the Vision Ultimate Luxury at the 2018 Beijing motor show.

The new concept car, which Mercedes’ chief design officer Gorden Wagener says has been conceived to underscore the position of Maybach as an “ultimate luxury brand”, combines the high-riding characteristics of an SUV with the silhouette of a traditional saloon to create a roomy and luxurious four-seater that features a combination of Western and Eastern design flourishes.  

While the smooth-surfaced Vision Ultimate Luxury is unlikely to reach production in its unconventional three-box form with distinctive split-window treatment, various elements of its exterior design, including its bold chromed grille, are expected to be used on a new Mercedes-Maybach production car based on the forthcoming third-generation GLS. This model will be a rival to the Bentley Bentayga and Rolls-Royce Cullinan.

At 5260mm long, 2110mm wide and 1764mm tall, the latest in a trio of Maybach concepts is 130mm longer, 180mm wider and 86mm lower than today’s second-generation Mercedes-Benz GLS. For comparison, the Bentayga is 5140mm long, 2000mm wide and 1740mm tall.

These dimensions are claimed to mirror those of the production Mercedes-Maybach GLS, which is due in 2019.

Inside, the Vision Ultimate Luxury is furnished with fine leather, wood and rose gold.   

The concept, which rides on towering 24in wheels, runs an electric powertrain. In a set-up similar to that of the Mercedes-Benz SLS Electric Drive of 2013, it uses a quartet of motors, with one acting on each wheel to provide fully variable four-wheel drive. Combined output is 740bhp and top speed is electronically limited to 155mph.

Energy is stored in a battery housed within the concept’s flat floor structure. With a capacity around 80kWh, it’s claimed to provide a range of more than 310 miles.

The Vision Ultimate Luxury is charged with a DC system that allows a capacity of up to 350kW. Mercedes-Maybach claims five minutes of charging provides sufficient power for 62 miles of range. Alternatively, the concept can be charged at public charging stations, from conventional mains power and inductively, through a contactless plate.

Although Mercedes officials refused to be drawn on the plans for the new powertrain, it’s suggested that it could form the basis of the EQ S saloon, which is due to enter production in 2020 as part of a family of EQ-badged electric models.  

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Source: Autocar Online

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