Nearly-new buying guide: Maserati Ghibli

Diesels are by far the most common, using a 3.0-litre V6

Italian brand’s executive saloon makes sense as a premium-badged alternative to the 3 Series

If you’ve ever wanted to go to a Ferrari dealership for your next used car, then buy an approved used Ghibli. Many Maserati dealers share their premises with the fabled brand, so when you stroll onto a Maserati forecourt in search of a used Trident, you may find yourself rubbing shoulders with 488s and the like. 

Better still, the experience may cost you from as little as £25,000 – what one dealer is asking for a 2016- reg Ghibli V6 diesel with 26,000 miles. If that’s below your price range, how about the most expensive we found, a pre-registered 2019 Ghibli V6 GranSport for £66,457? That’s £1600 more expensive than the model’s current new price, but as you’ll find when you go Ghibli hunting, prices can be inflated by options packs costing up to £3000 and limited-edition packs costing up to £5500. 

Happily, like all options, they depreciate faster than the car they’re fitted to. And don’t avoid them, because some, such as the driver assistance packs, have useful driver and safety aids. 

The Ghibli was launched in 2013 and tasked with putting a rocket up the brand’s global sales. Key to the plan was the diesel version, powered by a 3.0-litre V6 making 271bhp. Today, this version dominates the used car classifieds, outnumbering the other engines – 345bhp, 404bhp and 424bhp twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 petrols – by around two to one. 

At this point it’s usual to recommend that high-mileage drivers go for a diesel over a petrol. And so we do in the case of the Ghibli V6d, pausing only to mention that in Autocar’s hands it typically returned an economy figure in the low 30s. Still, that’s better than the petrols, which manage around 10mpg less. 

However, the petrols suit the Ghibli’s image rather better, especially the more powerful 404bhp S version, which, following the model’s facelift in 2017, gained an extra 20bhp. Alas, it was dropped in 2018, so today only the standard 345bhp petrol is available new. 

Maserati claimed the facelifted Ghibli was 70% all new but, aside from the engine, the only obvious changes were more aggressive looks and a new infotainment system, plus the arrival of two new trim levels: GranSport and GranLusso. Dig down, though, and you’ll find the steering went from being hydraulic to a faster and lighter but more precise electric system. The car also gained a raft of new safety and driver assistance features, at least as options. 

Pre- and post-facelift, the Ghibli sends its power to the rear wheels via an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox. It can be controlled by steering wheel-mounted paddles on top-spec versions. These same versions also have Skyhook adaptive suspension. It’s an option on other trims and worth looking out for over the optional sports suspension. 

‘You’re not like everyone else’ is Maserati’s slogan for the new Ghibli. It applies just as much to a used one starting at half the price. 

Need to know

The Ghibli has been the subject of a number of safety recalls: possible short circuit in driver’s seat wiring, possible loss of vehicle control, risk of the throttle sticking, a fuel line leak and the possibility of the vehicle moving away after the driver has exited it. 

What might be regarded as essentials on a luxury car are only available as options on the Ghibli. They include a rear parking camera, a blind spot detector and a wi-fi hotspot. Look out for them on used cars. 

Options packs are popular with new buyers. Ones to look out for on used Ghiblis include the Premium Pack (powered steering column and front seats with memory) and Driver Assistance Pack Plus (with a surround view camera). 

Our pick

Ghibli V6 S (2017 on): The post-2017 S enjoys a 20bhp uplift over the earlier S, giving a power output of 424bhp and 0-62mph in 4.9sec. A pity it was later dropped from the range.

Ghibli V6D Gransport Nerissimo Edition: Pretty rare but worth the hunt for a bling-rich specification that includes Zegna fabric, polished silver brake calipers and Nero dashboard and carpets. Looks best in Bianco Alpi.

Ones we found

2014 Ghibli 3.0 TD, 65,000 miles, £17,499 

2015 Ghibli 3.0 TD, 29,000 miles, £22,300 

2016 Ghibli 3.0 V6, 39,000 miles, £27,000 

2018 Ghibli 3.0 V6, 5000 miles, £46,500

Read more

Maserati Ghibli review

Used car buying guide: Maserati Quattroporte

Maserati plans shake-up to combat sales slump​



Source: Autocar Online

Nissan Leaf e+ Tekna 2019 UK review

Nissan Leaf 62kWh 2019 UK first drive review - hero front

Range-topping electric hatch gets bigger battery for more range and more powerful motor. Is it worth the price jump?

When the original Nissan Leaf came out in 2010, owners were claiming a real-world range of little more than 70 miles. By the time the second-generation car came out last year, our sister publication What Car? was quoting a real-world range of about 130 miles. And now we’re reviewing a Leaf promising up to 239 miles on the seemingly realistic official WLTP test.But this new, 62kWh battery-equipped Leaf isn’t just about getting you pretty much exactly from London to Blackpool without rejuicing. Don’t be fooled by the rather dull trim name: this is as close to the Leaf Nismo as the UK is going to get, for now at least, because that bigger-capacity battery allows the motor’s power to be boosted from the 148bhp to a healthy 214bhp. Torque is up slightly, too.Also new is the Leaf e+’s ability to use the latest public rapid chargers; with its standard charging rate of 70kW, it can reach 80% in 40 minutes, just like the 50kW-limited regular Leaf. Other, less significant changes include a new front end design.

Source: Autocar Online

The Wolf of Wolfsburg: Autocar meets VW boss Herbert Diess

Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess talks to Autocar

Herbert Diess won the 2018 Autocar Editor’s Award

We speak to the people’s car’s people person to hear his thoughts on diesel, EVs, classic cars and VW’s future

Herbert Diess breaks the rules. We’re about to spend 60 minutes of his valuable time talking in his office – the hour has been strictly agreed with his minders – and given the exactness of the interval, plus the implied challenges and strictures of his massive job as head of the Volkswagen Group, I’m expecting him to be a serious, driven, time-poor and somewhat humourless individual. His predecessor, Matthias Mueller, nice guy though he was, was rather like that. 

So it’s quite a surprise to find that within a couple of minutes, Diess and I are chatting cheerily about the plus points of the classic Triumph TR6, a car he says he owned, loved and sold for too little money. He also had several Minis and Beetles and still has a small collection of “non-group cars I don’t talk about” that just happens to include a Land Rover Defender. Within seconds, I’ve gleaned that Diess is a proper car enthusiast. In a mind-flash I remember him from his four “very happy” years at Rover (1999 to 2003) where he was instrumental in launching the new Mini. We are going to be okay. 

We’ve been trying to organise this interview for a year, not least because Diess – who moved from BMW in 2015 to run VW just before its troubles became public – won one of our 2018 awards for brilliantly progressing a marque hamstrung by Dieselgate so that it hardly lost sales or market position. His non-arrival at last year’s awards event and limited availability since is the result of his rapid promotion to VW’s biggest job.

Diess works in a comfortable but unostentatious suite of offices atop a monolithic building in Wolfsburg, looking out on one of the world’s largest car-building operations. He is a slightly built man of 60 whose frame betrays no evidence of self-indulgence. I’d put him down as a golfer or tennis player, if he ever gets time. He smiles easily, speaks perfect colloquial English and has an Anglo-Saxon liking for conversational informality. 

I’ve heard a lot about Diess’s reputation for decisiveness, so I ask about a meeting early in his VW time for which he’s famous, just after the diesel thing broke. At this gathering, a plan for the bold, electric-specific MEB platform, which now looks ever more likely to win VW a large global advantage in electrification, was raised, discussed, formulated and agreed. 

“It was soon after I arrived, about a fortnight after diesel happened,” he says. “I called the team together for a two-day workshop and together we created the MEB toolkit. 

“We were in a very specific situation. We were strong in China and China is huge in electric cars. It seemed possible for us to be the first major company to create a specific electric architecture and use it across all our marques. Most people were using existing platforms for their electric cars because that needed less investment. It was a chance to overtake others.” 

Despite the strength of this idea, Diess refuses to talk up its prospects because it has yet to deliver. “We hope it will work,” he says. “At present, we are still selling electrified models based on our MQB platform, but from next year, we may have an advantage.” 

Future winning designs will have what Diess calls “chocolate bar” chassis, known to others as ‘skateboards’ – with flat floors, long wheelbases and plenty of unimpeded space for batteries between the axles. Ride heights will lift cars by 100mm to 150mm, he says, although engineers at Porsche and Audi are already at work cutting that down. Despite the reality of higher-riding cars, Diess believes classic ‘tall’ SUVs won’t necessarily maintain popularity. Taming aerodynamic drag is becoming vital to preserve battery range. It’s one reason, Diess believes, why Tesla hasn’t sold nearly as many Model X SUVs as other models. 

What’s the shape of the future, I ask. Will electrified and conventional cars just fight it out? Will car makers try to force the market? 

There’ll be no forcing, Diess insists. Progress will be variable and depend heavily on government incentives. “Tesla couldn’t have made its way without the $7500-a-car US government incentive,” says Diess, “or in Norway without their tax credits. But ultimately, the company that can make electric cars with positive margins will win. That’s where I think we have some chances…” 

Talking future sales, Diess estimates that by 2021, between 5% and 6% of new European cars will be electric. That should expand to 20% by 2025, and between 30% and 40% by 2030. It’s an enormous change. How does it feel, I ask, knowing you’ll soon be shutting engine plants forever? “It’s true that in the next 10 years, we’re going to need to close about half our engine and gearbox plants,” he says, “but we’ll ramp up battery production enormously to compensate. We believe we’re covered for battery cell production until 2023 or 2024, but we will still need more capacity. That’s the big challenge. We have just launched the Audi E-tron and the constraint on delivery is the battery. We will see this for quite some time.” 

If engine plants are going, when will diesels disappear for good? “Not yet,” the chairman answers carefully. “They’re still the best answer for bigger cars that travel long distances at higher speeds. They’re also the most economical, cleanest and best for CO2. Remember, even in 2025, 80% of new cars will have combustion engines…” 

Like all his recent predecessors, Diess began talking about reorganising the VW Group within weeks of taking the big job. Is this, I wonder, because Porsche and Audi appear to make all the money? Again, the careful answer. 

“It’s very difficult to look at Porsche or Audi on their own,” he explains. “There’s huge interdependence these days. Many Porsches are made in VW plants. Other Porsches use Audi platforms. Audi makes its 17% to 18% margin with the help of the MQB platform, which is used in around 400,000 of its cars. And that platform supports about eight million of our total output, so the synergies are enormous.” 

Is size important? During the pre-diesel days of the Martin Winterkorn era, the VW Group stunned everyone by rapidly bumping Toyota off top spot as the world’s biggest car maker, a position it still narrowly holds. Does the target matter? Predictably, the answer is complex. 

“I think in many places we are big enough,” the chairman replies. “Of course, there are markets where we must improve. We have about 19% in China and 20% in Europe, but we are limping along at 4% in the US. That should improve. 

“Having said that, I do believe scale matters, and in the next decade, it will matter even more. In some ways, conventional economies are smaller in electric cars because material costs are so huge – about twice the cost of conventional cars – and the materials themselves are subject to market fluctuations. But a car is rapidly becoming a software product, a microprocessor, and in that game, size really matters. You have a one-time cost, a one-time expenditure spread over many products. But we think we are big enough to play that game, so we really don’t have to grow any more.”

Career in brief

Dr Herbert Diess, 60, Volkswagen Group chairman, was born in Austria and educated at Munich Technical University, where he attained a PhD in assembly automation in 1989 while working as an academic. He then joined Robert Bosch and moved to a Bosch plant in Spain as technical director before joining BMW in 1996. 

In 1999, he moved to the UK as part of BMW’s Rover management, concentrating on the launch of the new Mini, before returning to head BMW’s motorcycle division from 2003. He was promoted to the BMW board in 2007 and took several roles in purchasing and development before moving to head the VW marque in 2015. 

“I was reluctant to move,” he says, “because I was very happy in my BMW job. But I was fit and healthy, I have always had a special regard for Volkswagen, and I realised I could work longer at VW than BMW, where retirement is compulsory at 60. So I made the move and it has been successful – so far…”

Diess on…

China’s influence on design: “We are running a 14% market share and our nearest European competitor has 6%, so I think we should be cautious about changing the look of our cars. When you have a strong market position, you have a chance to influence people.

Bentley’s progress: “I’m very happy and optimistic. They have made a huge step forward in profitability. They have a pretty high burden of depreciation because they have spent so much on new models, but we have a very good and dedicated team working at Crewe and the company has a lot of potential.”

Dieselgate: “I think it will be around for some time. We still have court cases in the UK, in Australia, all over. But I believe the worst is behind us. The biggest thing was in the US, where we bought many cars back and fixed many others. But it will still take years.”

Becoming chairman: “I knew it was one of the most challenging jobs in the industry, because of the changes coming and how they would affect our brands. But I was well prepared. I’d done a lot of varied jobs over 30 years. And I love Volkswagen. So I thought: why not?”

British cars he’s owned: “I owned many, some with flaws but some that were really great. I had three or four Minis, including an Innocenti. I still drive lots cars. The automotive business is different. Many colleagues are really into cars. It’s one of the brighter sides of the job.”

Sourcing battery materials: “Cobalt is the most conflicted. Cars will double the demand, but the proportion in batteries is coming down. Tesla’s are virtually cobalt free. Nickel is all over the place. Lithium might be a problem, but we’re discovering ways to recover it for re-use.”

Read more

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Volkswagen’s currywurst factory: motoring’s strangest production line​

All-electric VW ID estate on the cards for future launch​



Source: Autocar Online

Racing lines: How to survive the Nurburgring 24 Hours

Second of Europe’s best-known endurance races takes place this weekend

Racer Peter Dumbreck discusses the perils of a crowded track and getting used to lapping the Green Hell in anger

From Le Mans focus switches straight to the Nürburgring this weekend for the second of Europe’s ‘Big three’ 24-hour races, the other being at Spa later in the summer. The fearsome twists and undulations of the 12.17-mile Nordschleife contrasts starkly to the flat-out blasts and sweeps of the 8.4-mile Circuit de la Sarthe. Each has its own demands.

Peter Dumbreck knows a thing or two about both. Twenty years ago, the Scot survived one of Le Mans’ most infamous accidents when his Mercedes-Benz CLR took off and flipped over the barriers. He returned and finished third in GTE with Aston Martin in 2013, but it is the Nordschleife with which he is now more synonymous. 

Following his first Nürburgring 24 Hours in 2003, Dumbreck has only missed one since and is a renowned circuit specialist, who until a couple of weeks ago held the electric car lap record in the Nio EP9. Since 2007 he has raced for Falken Tyres, for whom he also races in the VLN, the series dedicated solely to the Nordschleife. “I don’t know how many laps I’ve done around there, but it’s well in the thousands,” says Peter.

So what’s it like having the Nürburgring as your local circuit? “Strange,” he admits. “It’s one of a kind. It’s hard to compare to Le Mans or anywhere else. I haven’t driven Bathurst, but I think it’s the most challenging circuit in the world.”

Famously dubbed ‘The Green Hell’ by Jackie Stewart, the Nordschleife is tough enough without the high volume of race traffic Dumbreck and his rivals live with. “The cars are getting quicker, the speed differences between the slowest and us in the fastest GT3s are extreme, and accidents happen,” Peter says. “In the VLN you’re looking at 200 cars, and in the 24 Hours 130-150. You rarely get a clean lap.”

Like the Indianapolis 500, the Nürburgring has its own rookie orientation before drivers can race in the 24 Hours. “It doesn’t matter who you are,” Peter explains. “You could be Lewis Hamilton, you still need a permit and do two VLN races in a lower powered car to be assessed. That’s good, but they don’t differentiate who can apply. 

“Joe Bloggs has done well at work and wants to go and race. He only wants to drive the Nürburgring, he’s never driven anywhere else and he’s let loose. I wonder why he wants to be around us. Why would you want to put yourself in that situation where you have a line of GT3 cars coming at double your speed? Terrifying.”

For specialists such as Dumbreck, circuit knowledge isn’t a problem, but he is vigilant against complacency. “You can know every inch and every bump, and I do,” he says. “But the variable you can’t know is the weather, which can change around the circuit on a single lap. Then you can come round a corner and be on a trail of oil. You look up and see a flag, but it’s too late and you’re in the wall. I’ve had that before.

“In the cockpit, it’s busy! But like anything in life, the more you do it the easier it becomes. Go and stick your road car at 100mph (on the autobahn of course…) and in the beginning it feels fast, but after a while it doesn’t. Bring your car down to 70mph and you feel like you are creeping along. It’s that perception. Once you get used to it and know what to expect and get into a rhythm, time does slow down. 

“But you also have to be careful not to lapse and think this is all going well. You have all kinds of thoughts in the car and you have to keep your mind on the job, because all of a sudden it can bite you. Modern-day circuits, you’ve got run-off and can make a mistake. But there, one mistake and the tendency is you’re going into the wall. At best you’ve got a few feet of grass until you hit something…”

When Dumbreck first raced in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, in an Opel DTM car, it was very much the ‘forgotten classic’ of long-distance racing, little more than a glorified club race. That has changed dramatically in the past 15 years thanks largely to the growth of GT3. Bragging rights, particularly among the premium German brands, is now a powerful incentive.

Driving for a tyre brand like Falken offers its own challenges. “There are pluses and minuses,” he says. “The big plus is that you want to drive for a manufacturer, either of cars or tyres, because that’s how you make a living. With a tyre make, you have the benefit of having brand new tyres being thrown at you all the time, but it can maybe detract from the car set-up. 

“Our team is focused on constantly improving the tyres. Go to series such as British GT, ADAC GT, Blancpain GT and everyone is on a spec tyre. You don’t have any choice. The VLN is one of the few places left where the tyres are open, and you have seven or eight tyre manufacturers supplying the grid. It means we have a tyre war going on, so we drive on confidential tyres offering much more grip. It’s cool to be involved in that because your lap times are quicker and that means it’s more fun to drive.”

Come Saturday, Falken’s BMW M6 GT3 will once again dive into The Green Hell. As Dumbreck knows only too well, anything can happen – and probably will.

Read more

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Toyota wins Le Mans again despite late drama



Source: Autocar Online

Great British Women: Judy Murray on her success

Peugeot ambassador and tennis coach addresses rising stars at Autocar event

Judy Murray has spoken on the challenges women face to reach the top of their chosen field at Autocar’s Great British Women in the Car Industry event.

Murray, a Peugeot UK ambassador, tennis coach, and Britain’s former Fed Cup captain, believes that “for women to get to the top, they have to be truly excellent. For men, that’s not always true”.

She added: “Women need to stick together – we need numbers. It’s like snowflakes – we work alone we melt away. If we work together we can create snowballs, and snowballs can do a lot of damage.”

Murray first came to prominence in 2005 after her son Andy Murray’s first Wimbledon appearance, but had built a successful career as a tennis coach before then. However, she became known for being the mother of Andy and doubles player Jamie Murray and found the media attention that brought “the hardest thing to deal with”.

“I was the mother of two sons at the elite level, and I was pulled out by the media in a way you wouldn’t in any other sport. Wimbledon on BBC TV has no ad breaks, so the commentators and cameras have to go somewhere, so they go to the player box. I was always seen roaring and people thought I was demented and aggressive…”

She also spoke of how the negative attention affected her. “People wrote nasty columns and opinions don’t know you. So you put blinkers on and develop a thick skin. When Andy won Wimbledon though they forgave me for everything…”

She recalled one newspaper headline after Andy had lost his fourth Grand Slam title without success. “‘Ditch your mum Andy or you’ll never win a slam – Boris’ was the headline,” she said. “I’d never even met Boris…when he went bankrupt, it didn’t smile at all.”

Murray believes that competitiveness in women is still met with suspicion and not embraced, and after leaving her Fed Cup role in 2016 has made it her job to be “the female coach to stand up for women”.

Murray believes that while there is equality in tennis at the elite level on the male and female professional tours, the administrative and grassroots side is a long way behind.

She said only about 15% of coaches were women but almost none were at the elite level, even on the women’s tour.

“Coaching is the ability to make people feel good about themselves. Then you can influence and change behaviour.”

READ MORE

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Source: Autocar Online

How do you improve a great racing game? Just add Lego bricks

It’s not a secret that I like cars. I left a career in science policy to come to Ars to write about them, after all. But long before I fell in love with the automobile, there was Lego. I got sucked back into the world of the plastic brick on the eve of the millennium thanks to the first Lego Star Wars sets, but these days I’ve mostly been building little minifig-scale sports cars, particularly when writer’s block strikes. So imagine how excited I was to find out that those Lego Speed Champions cars were coming to the rather excellent Forza Horizon 4.

Expansion packs are no new thing to the Horizon series. Nor are cameos or guest appearances from other franchises—The Fast and the Furious has shown up previously, and the most recent game includes a brief Halo crossover. But this is certainly the most left-field of them, transporting you from Britain to the Lego Valley, a magical place where most everything is built from bricks, and the humans are all now minifigs.

There are some Lego-specific tweaks—as well as in-game currency and reputation points you also need to earn bricks to build yourself a Lego house. But by and large the gameplay remains identical: drive around wherever you want, entering races and challenges as you go, listening to the radio while you do it. (Sadly, or perhaps happily, that catchy number so beloved by Emmett in The Lego Movie is absent from the soundtrack.) There’s still dynamic weather, day turns into night, and each week the in-game season changes.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica

Maserati confirms UK prices for hardcore Levante GTS and Trofeo

Both variants of new super-SUV to arrive in autumn packing a 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8; Launch Edition priced at £160,000

Maserati has confirmed the new GTS and Trofeo variants of its Levante SUV will be coming to the UK, with prices starting from £104,900.

Both models share a Ferrari-derived 3.8-litre V8 with the Quattroporte GTS performance saloon, in a state of tune that produces 542bhp in the GTS and 582bhp in the hardcore Trofeo. 

The GTS receives Maserati’s Q4 four-wheel-drive system, allowing a 0-62mph time of 4.2sec and a top speed of 181mph, 5mph less than the Trofeo range-topper. The latter will be available in limited Launch Edition trim, just 50 examples of which have been set aside for the European market out of a total of 100.  

Both models are now available to order, ahead of the Trofeo’s UK dynamic debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed next month. Prices rise from £104,900 for the GTS to £124,900 for entry-level Trofeo models. Launch Edition models are priced from £159,900. 

Maserati claims 20.9mpg and 313g/km of CO2 emissions for the GTS, but has released no efficiency figures for the Trofeo. 

Both models receive sportier styling than the regular, V6-powered Levante, although Maserati says the GTS is more sophisticated. New alloy wheels are fitted to mark out the models. 

Inside, the GTS features a premium audio system and upgraded leather upholstery, while the gear selector has been redesigned. The GTS is also the first Levante to get full LED headlights – a feature that is likely to now be rolled out across the rest of the range. 

Read more

Maserati Levante Trofeo lands with 582bhp Ferrari V8​

Maserati’s Geneva stand places emphasis on Italian spirit​

Maserati Levante V6 road test

 



Source: Autocar Online

Skoda Kodiaq to receive styling tweaks and new tech for 2020

2020 Skoda Kodiaq spy shots

Prototype of flagship seven-seater spotted with redesigned front end and test rig for new powertrain

Skoda is set to update its Kodiaq large SUV after nearly three years on sale, and a camouflaged prototype has been spotted testing ahead of an anticipated reveal later this year.

Following in the footsteps of the recently updated Superb flagship, the Nissan X-Trail rival is set to receive similarly subtle styling tweaks and an interior technology upgrade. 

Heavy camouflaging to the front and rear ends suggests the most obvious visual changes will come in the form of redesigned bumpers and light units, with Skoda’s trademark grille design carried over from the outgoing model.

New features for the 2020 Kodiaq are likely to include the matrix LED headlights already seen on the new Superb, along with advanced driver aids such as predictive cruise control. 

The prototype spotted appears to be towing a dynamometer, suggesting it’s running a new powertrain. The refreshed Superb was revealed last month and will be available for the first time with a plug-in hybrid option. That system is also expected to make its way into the Kodiaq in due course. 

With a 154bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine mated to a 114bhp electric motor, PHEV variants of the new Superb are capable of 34 miles of pure electric range and a likely 7.4sec 0-62mph time. The Kodiaq would not be able to match these figures due to its extra weight, but it shouldn’t be too far off.

More likely in this prototype’s instance, and given the lack of a grille-mounted charging port, is that it is running the revised 2.0 TDI Evo diesel engine first seen fitted to the new Volkswagen Passat

This new unit offers improved fuel economy courtesy of a high-efficiency crank, steel pistons and reduced friction throughout. 

Read more

2019 Skoda Superb revealed with plug-in hybrid option​

Revised Volkswagen Passat revealed with more technology​

First drive: Skoda Mountiaq pick-up concept​



Source: Autocar Online

New Mercedes-Benz GLA: 2020 Audi Q2 rival hits the road

Crossover version of the A-Class is seen in less disguise sporting an evolutionary look ahead of debut in September

Mercedes-Benz will add yet another model to its compact car line-up in the form of the new GLA, which has been seen in lighter disguise ahead of a mooted debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

The latest spy shots give us the clearest view yet of the new crossover. Sharing styling details with the A-Class upon which it’s based, it appears lower to the ground than the old GLA, but the swollen rear haunches and profile unique to its siblings remain. 

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

It also now sits below the GLB, the largest car on that platform and a new, fully fledged rival to the BMW X1 and Audi Q3. That leaves the GLA to compete with smaller compact crossovers such as the Audi Q2 and Ford Focus Active.

Although no technical details of the GLA have been released yet, we know it will be closely linked to the A-Class in terms of interior design and technology, engines and gearboxes. That means it will adopt Mercedes’ latest touchpad and voice-controlled MBUX infotainment system, alongside more advanced safety features and increased material quality.

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

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

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

Read more: 

First ride: Mercedes-Benz GLB 2019 prototype

Mercedes-Benz GLA review

New Mercedes CLA to be sportiest compact yet in range



Source: Autocar Online

Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate 2019 review

Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate 2019 first drive review - hero front

Plug-in hybrid Passat gets extra electric range and a lower price. Retains plenty of performance, with a multi-faceted, grown-up character that should suit a broad church.

The eighth-generation VW Passat isn’t dead, and isn’t about to be killed off by the mercurial rise of the family SUV either, Volkswagen assures. It’s just been away for a bit, at least in some forms. And now that it’s back, its mid-life facelift coincides with the return of the version that must represent one of Wolfsburg’s better chances of commercial success in a business car market increasingly concerned with emissions reduction.The Passat GTE plug-in hybrid was taken off sale last summer, when changing European emissions regulations rendered it obsolete. Now it’s returned with a bigger drive battery and 30 per cent more zero-emissions range, as well as some new driving mode functionality. It also benefits from the highlights of Wolfsburg’s wider update for the Passat range, which brings a new touchscreen infotainment system, some new engines and a few styling tweaks besides.A five per-cent price slash is the sweetener expected to complete the hike in sales profile for the petrol-electric, ultra-low emissions derivative; the GTE accounted for only ten per cent of pre-facelift UK Passat sales at its height but should make up 25 per cent now. That won’t be enough to make it the UK’s biggest-selling Passat derivative: a couple of diesel-engined models will likely still outsell it, at least according to VW’s expectations – but that’s mainly because the Passat remains a car very popular with company car drivers who haven’t abandoned diesel in quite the same way that private buyers have.

Source: Autocar Online

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