The best and worst things I’ve seen this week: 24 November 2017

Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG 004S

Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG 004S – I’m not a fan of Le Mans; I find the cars too little like anything you see on the road to be exciting. But the dome top of the 004S is more of a full point-and-shout to Le Mans than a nod, and in this instance that’s a very, very good thing.

Behind-the-scenes glimpses and other observations from the last seven days around the car industry

This week has been as packed with news as any other, so naturally there’s plenty of fodder to praise and scorn in this week’s roundup. 

Here are the best five and worst single thing I’ve seen this week. 

The best things I’ve seen all week 

Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG 004S

I’m not a fan of Le Mans; I find the cars too little like anything you see on the road to be exciting. But the dome top of the 004S is more of a full point-and-shout to Le Mans than a nod, and in this instance that’s a very, very good thing. 

The rear of the Aston Martin Vantage

If you’ve read many of these roundups, you’ll know I’m a fan of a rear light bar, and that on the back of the Vantage is no different. It twists the light bar – quite literally – to snake across the rear of the car, incorporating the lines of the spoiler. Lovely. 

Mercedes-Benz A-Class interior

I like the outside of the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Now I can say, I like the inside too. This will take the premium hatch segment up a considerable notch. 

Lamborghini Urus

In prototype form, the Urus nearly made the Worst of the Week a month ago or so; the camouflage Lamborghini used for development cars was not flattering. But its proportions work far, far better with proper, smooth colour on the bodywork, from what I can see in this fuzzy, leaked still. I stand corrected.

Dacia’s shop closed for Black Friday

It’s as fashionable to dislike Black Friday as it is for retailers – and now car makers – to stuff it down our throats, so bravo to Dacia for taking a stand against it by shutting its pop-up shop for the occasion, and using the opportunity to do some savvy marketing. Yes, it contributes to the Black Friday blabber, but it’s clever and oh so on-brand. 

… and the worst thing I’ve seen this week

How little the front of the Vantage looks like the DB10

Don’t get me wrong – the Vantage is a monstrously pretty car. But the DB10 was prettier, more cohesive and more Aston. Putting a DB10 clone into production would go back on Aston’s approach for the Bond-film-only car, but it would have made it a car I’d actually desire, rather than just admire. 



Source: Autocar Online

Jaguar launches Black Edition models with extra kit

Jaguar launches Black Edition models with boosted kit

XE, XF and F-Pace Black Edition models get black-themed options, including painted alloys, privacy glass and styling kit

Jaguar has launched Black Edition models for the best-sellers of its range, the XEXF and F-Pace, with optional extras included as standard. 

Black Edition trim adds black alloy wheels, a Black Pack exterior styling kit, parking sensors and a reversing camera, privacy glass and metallic paint.

R-Sport models also get a heated front windscreen, heated washer jets and heated front and rear seats, features that are usually part of the optional Cold Climate Pack.

The F-Pace R-Sport Black Edition also features a panoramic roof. Jaguar claims this takes the F-Pace R-Sport Black Edition’s savings to £2675 over a regular F-Pace R-Sport with the same options added.

Jaguar is offering the models as high-spec trim levels with reduced pricing; they are being offered at prices bolstered with half the value of the options fitted.

Confusingly, Black Edition cars are available not only in black, but also grey, red, white, and blue, with their name being a reference to the American tradition of ‘Black Friday’ discounting.

Although only available for a limited time, Black Edition models will remain on sale into 2018 and are not limited by number. There are no plans for an E-Pace Black Edition. 

Jaguar is later to the Black Edition game than many, with Audi, Honda, KTM, Nissan, Peugeot, Porsche, Skoda, Vauxhall and Volkswagen all having dallied with such cars in the past. 

During Jaguar’s Black Event, which takes place between 24 and 26 November, boosted PCP finance contributions of £6500 and £12,088 are available on the F-Type and XJ, as well as up to £5300 on the XE, up to £6400 on the XF and up to £3500 on the F-Pace.



Source: Autocar Online

Comment: Can Hipsters Save The Car Industry?

The huge success of scrambler bikes show a way for car firms to connect with sought-after younger buyers

For better or for worse, I am part of generation Y. You know, the generation that apparently puts avocado sandwiches and flat whites ahead of car ownership and saving for a mortgage. But in all seriousness, for a generation seen as anti-automobile, plenty of us love writing about cars. A large proportion of the Haymarket Automotive team – including more than half of the Autocar news desk – is made up of writers that are under 30 years of age.

Which puts us in a unique position. When we’re not in the office assessing cars (that in reality, we can’t afford to buy), we’re on launches listening to PR’s telling us how they’ve finally solved the puzzle that’s been bewildering every automaker from Munich to Martorell – namely, how to sell cars to millennials like us.

Every manufacturer at one time or another thinks they have it cracked. Toyota tried it in America with Scion, offering buyers’ unique body styles and bold colours at a low price point. In the end it turned out that these easily modifiable econoboxes were more popular with retirees than young buyers. And the same cycle seems to be taking place in Europe. In its marketing materials, Citroën genuinely uses the words ‘fresh’ and ‘stance’ to describe its new C3 Aircross. Now, I’m not entirely sure when ‘fresh’ was last present in most people’s lexicons, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t in this decade.

And yet, manufacturers keep at it with their focus group based advertising and then scratch their heads when each new model fails to land. Oh, and for a bit of perspective here, on almost every launch Seat’s PR team can’t wait to wax lyrical about how the company has the youngest buyers in Europe and one of the highest conquest rates. Want to hazard a guess at the median age? Mid-twenties, early thirties? Ok, low forties? Nope, forty-two! Forty-two years of age. In the Victorian era you’d be considered a living miracle.

Which got me thinking. Perhaps car manufacturers could learn something from the bike industry? An industry that has recently been saved by the unlikeliest of automotive enthusiasts: motorcycle-riding hipsters. You know, those skinny-jean-wearing, craft-beer-sipping, beard-growing folk. And before you accuse me of going off the rails, let me explain.

Often viewed as the bane of the motorcycling scene, more likely to be found drinking a flat white at The Bike Shed than actually out on the open road, it’s these 21st century yuppies that are responsible for the resurgence of one of the greatest sub-genres in biking. The scrambler.

It was only a few years ago that the motorcycling sector was on its leather clad bottom. Bike sales were down massively, the average age of a rider was somewhere in the early hundreds and virtually zero teenagers were taking their bike test (I should know, I was one of the few). Until, that is, Triumph came in and revolutionised the market by reviving the scrambler name back in 2006.

Since then, the Scrambler and custom bike scene has rocketed, with younger riders eager to get in on the action (David Beckham’s Triumph backed Amazon adventure certainly helped give things a kick) and now almost every mainstream manufacturer has a bike that can fulfil your wildest Steve McQueen fantasies: BMW with its R nineT Scrambler, Triumph with the Street Scrambler, and Ducati with the inventively named ‘Icon Scrambler’, which is now Ducati’s bes- selling bike.

These bikes, which are relatively affordable, customisable and individualistic, have whole Instagram pages and magazines dedicated to them. There’s an entire lifestyle element associated with the trend, which doesn’t feel fabricated or forced. It’s no wonder that these bikes have inspired a wave of new younger riders as well as those returning to biking after a hiatus. 

Which brings us back to the four-wheeled world, and the age-old question of what do millennials want? Well, taking lessons learned from the bike sector, I would argue that manufacturers need to build something that we actually yearn to own. Something that is relatively affordable, timeless in design and yet modern and forward thinking. Something a bit like a four-wheeled Ducati Scrambler. And as of yet, only one manufacturer has got close. Honda.

Yep, I’m serious. Honda, a manufacturer renowned for its Japanese sensibilities, may well have stumbled upon gold when it penned the Urban EV Concept. Released at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the Urban EV Concept manages to strike that perfect balance between quirky retro style and modern motoring. I mean, who doesn’t like the idea of a modern electric powertrain wrapped up in the body of any 1970s Civic? It even has rear-hinged doors for crying out loud. It’s ruddy marvellous.

Honda has recently confirmed that a production version of the Urban EV Concept will be made in 2019 – with the first cars hitting the road in Europe before Japan. If the price is right, performance is somewhat Tesla-like, and Honda embraces the strong aftermarket scene, the big H may be the first manufacturer to conquer generation Y. I for one can’t wait to find out. 

Read more

Honda Urban EV confirmed for 2019

Honda Sport EV revealed at Tokyo motor show

Cropley: what’s the real reason young people don’t buy cars?

 



Source: Autocar Online

Jaguar F-Type 2.0

Jaguar F-Type 2.0
Downsizing reaches Jag’s svelte F-Type coupé — but it’s more appetising than it sounds

Since its arrival in 2013, two attributes have come to define the F-Type: its sublime aluminium bodywork and the way it sounds.Its appearance can’t be said to be in jeopardy, Jaguar’s coupé this year having received only a judicious nip and tuck to its much loved curves, but the soundtrack has changed immeasurably of late because you can now buy an F-Type with just four turbocharged cylinders.Yes, downsizing has claimed another unlikely victim, although not – as has been the case for Porsche’s most recent iterations of the Boxster and Cayman – at the expense of choice.Rest assured, you can still get an F-Type with a supercharged V6 or V8 motor.What this new Ingenium-engined model means, however, is that you can also get an F-Type that costs about £50,000 new, can surpass 40mpg at a cruise and – for better or worse – doesn’t wake the dead on a cold start.This delicately yet fundamentally alters the F-Type proposition. In four-cylinder guise, no longer can this be considered a dyed-in-the-wool grand tourer whose various dynamic shortfalls are to be forgiven on account of its effortless large-capacity gait and elegant demeanour.What it retains of those characteristics will stand this junior offering in good stead – a classically good-looking car with a classically sporting layout will always hold strong appeal – but agility and precision are the order of the day when all of a sudden your chief rivals are bona fide sports cars in the mould of the aforementioned Porsche duo and Audi’s TT RS.Ascertaining the extent to which Jaguar has succeeded in honing this lighter F-Type into a dynamic match for those cars is reason enough for it to be the subject of our gruelling road test.Prospective owners will also want to know where this car draws the line between the two automotive spheres it now straddles. 

Source: Autocar Online

Recorded vehicle offences at their highest since 2007

Recorded vehicle offences at their highest since 2007

Nearly 3.06 million vehicle offences were recorded in 2016; speeding offences have climbed steadily for a number of years

Vehicle offences hit a nine-year peak in 2016, with almost 3.06 million being recorded across the year – the highest since 3.33m were noted in 2007.

The peak was driven by a bumper year for speeding offences, with 2.15m recorded – 28,000 more than in 2015. Licence, insurance and record-keeping offences were also at their highest since 2011, increasing by 31,000 over 2015. 

Despite the higher figures, several areas of vehicular crime fell. Accident offences have fallen steadily since the early 2000s, while dangerous, careless and drunken driving offences have fallen by more than a quarter since 2009, with around 80,000 fewer offences recorded.

Thefts and unauthorised taking of vehicle offences are also at a new low, following plateauing results in 2013, 2014 and 2015. These offences are at around half of what they were in 2005. 

IAM Roadsmart’s director of policy and research, Neil Greig, said: “Unfortunately, these figures show that we still have a long way to go to make speeding as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving. 

“While some of the increase in the volume of speeding offences has been caused by a change in reporting methods, with those attending driver awareness courses – which have been shown to reduce reoffending – now included, there is no doubt that speeding remains a major safety concern.

“Resources are still needed for education and publicity campaigns to drive home the message that road safety is as much about taking personal responsibility as it is about new methods of enforcement.”

Critics have been quick to point out that with police numbers a topic of hot debate, these falling numbers may simply reflect a decrease in the number of offenders caught rather than a true fall in crimes being committed.

Prosecutions and convictions for those caught speeding are at their highest in a decade, however, according to the Ministry of Justice, with 183,000 people prosecuted and 168,000 convicted. 

Read more: 

Poor tyre maintenance is main cause for car accidents in UK

Larger cars blamed for rise in parking accidents

Speeding fines increase: April rules come into force

The waiting game is over: I’ve been caught speeding



Source: Autocar Online

Borgward BX7 2017 review

Borgward BX7

This is the Borgward BX7, a new SUV from the Chinese-owned brand

The return of the Borgward brand is spearheaded by the BX7 SUV, a worthy Chinese equivalent of the BMW X3 and Audi Q5

Some 50% of Germans still recall the name Borgward, claims the company that’s been reborn under Chinese ownership, although take the five off the front of the number and you’re likely closer to the amount who remember any of the brand’s cars, or its positioning.They’ll need to be told, then, that Borgward is now a maker of two SUVs: the Audi Q3-sized BX5 and the larger, Audi Q5-sized BX7 tested here. It’s the model that will spearhead its launch into Europe next year as the first of the new wave of Chinese car makers that plans to do so, starting with Germany in the first quarter of 2018, albeit as a plusher BX7 TS version that was revealed at the recent Guangzhou motor show.It’ll be the Geneva motor show in March before we get full details of the BX7 that’s bound for Europe, but tested in standard form here, the BX7 draws power from a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, driving all four wheels through a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Source: Autocar Online

Mercedes-Benz E-Class LWB 2017 review

Mercedes-Benz E-Class L

This is the Chinese-market extended wheelbase Mercedes E-Class L

Mercedes-Benz’s decision to extend the wheelbase of the E-Class for the Chinese market is an inspired one, judging by our brief test drive

Its great rival BMW might claim M is the most powerful letter in the world, but for Mercedes-Benz it’s L. That letter stands for long-wheelbase, and it is what’s new about the E-Class: it’s longer than the one sold elsewhere.That’s because Chinese customers like the extra space in rear as part of their desire for the car they buy to offer as much space and be as big as possible for the budget at their disposal.And Mercedes is having some quite extraordinary success with long-wheelbase versions of other models in its range, chiefly the C-Class. Indeed, it’s the success of that model in China, in among Mercedes’ rapid response to global demand for SUVs, that has helped propel it to the number one luxury car maker in the world.The E-Class is now built in China as part of a partnership with BAIC; it’s sold in the home market only and is not for export. So, if anything, what are we missing?

Source: Autocar Online

Comment: Autocar's links to the 1932 RAC Rally

1932 RAC Rally

Reader Niall has these from the 1932 RAC Rally

A blast from the past – the 1932 RAC Rally, to be exact – and Porsche production numbers top our tester’s notes for the week

A reader writes, which is always a joy, but even more so than usual today.

He’s read the story I wrote, about driving a Hyundai i30 N the length (plus a bit of Scotland) and breadth (a few times) of England (plus a bit of Wales), for a feature on the RAC Rally (‘Riviera’s return’).

The 1932 event was the very first, and what an event it was. Driving alone, competitors would have started from any number of locations around the UK, all finishing up in Torquay. The event has morphed into the Wales Rally GB today and it was, apparently, The Autocar’s idea, although the RAC did the hard work in the organisation.

Niall, kind reader, has dug out a plaque and badges from the original event’s activities in Torquay. They belonged to his relative Barry Appleby. Apparently, Barry and his wife, Dobs, wrote ‘The Gambols’ newspaper cartoon but Barry also wrote for Autocar; and his father was EJ Appleby, long-time editor of The Autocar around the war years. 

Niall’s not sure whether the trinkets belong to Barry or EJ, but I’m thrilled to see them. And know that we’re here, today, continuing The Autocar’s long tradition of enthusiasm, opinion and unerring accuracy.

I Ah. Er, anyway, well, an apology. Earlier this month I said there would be only 500 Porsche 911 GT2 RSs. I wrote it because I believed it because it said so in the notes I made on the day I drove the car but, alas, it says it nowhere else; certainly not in Porsche’s literature, because it isn’t true. It’s not a number I would make up and it’s one I wrote and reported in good faith, but here we are. Odd.

Anyway, apologies to Porsche, and to you.

The GT2 RS will actually be built in what’s slightly generously being termed ‘uncapped’ levels, which means they’ll put as many down the 911 line – having modified it in places so the GT2’s extraordinarily wide rear tyres will fit – as they realistically can before the 992-generation 911 comes on stream. We reckon that’ll be a year and a bit, during which time there’ll probably be around 2000 GT2s, with half of those in Europe.

The 911 R, apparently, which, you’ll remember, was limited to 991 units, was that way because the realistic limit was 1000 cars, at the end of the first-generation 991-series cars. Something to do with how much coolant fluid they had left, or something. So they made it 991 rather than ‘about 1000’.

The beef I usually have with deliberate limited-run cars – that they’re cynical and elitist and that your money was plenty good enough for these companies when they were in harder times – still stands. But I’ve always felt that you can’t think badly of Porsche for deciding it’d make 918 918s, because you know it had to work pretty darned hard to find every single one of them a home. Apparently, there are kicking on for 5000 of the most recent GT3 RS models, too, and between you and me, if you really want the rarest Cayman, it ain’t the GT4. So, happily, my limited-volume beef doesn’t tend to apply here.

Related stories: 

Porsche GT2 RS review 

Hyundai i30 N review



Source: Autocar Online

New Infiniti QX50 revealed with world’s first production variable compression ratio engine

Infiniti QX50 revealed with world’s first variable compression engine

New large SUV’s groundbreaking petrol powertrain promises diesel-like fuel efficiency; public debut will come at the LA motor show

The new Infiniti QX50 has been revealed, with confirmation that it will use the world’s first production variable compression ratio engine.

The large SUV, which is also built on an all-new platform, has a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine called VC-Turbo that can adjust its compression ratio from 8:1 (for performance) to 14:1 (for fuel economy).

Autocar has already driven the QX50 prototype. Click here to read the review

It produces up to 268bhp and 280lb ft, while offering up to 35% efficiency improvements over the previous QX50’s V6 engine. The new QX50 uses a CVT gearbox and is most efficient in front-wheel-drive form, although all-wheel-drive variants still offer a 30% improvement.

Flat out, the QX50 is claimed to be capable of accelerating from 0-60mph in 6.3sec and reaching a top speed of 143mph.

The car’s new platform enables tighter packaging, which, Infiniti claims, gives its Audi Q5 and BMW X3 rival best-in-class interior space. Boot space has grown to 895 litres with the rear seats in place and 1048 litres with them folded down.

Infiniti claims that the structure has also enabled a 23% improvement in torsional rigidity, reducing flex and vibrations, thus improving refinement. The QX50’s sleeker new shape is also said to help with this, due to its 6% improvement in aerodynamic efficiency.

The QX50 also features a raft of new driver assistance technology, utilising the ProPilot Assist system developed by parent company Nissan. This can assist with the accelerator, brakes and steering to keep the car safely within a motorway lane, although Infiniti says it hasn’t equipped the car with a fully autonomous mode because its customers “have stated their desire to remain a key element in driving”.

The QX50 will make its public debut at this month’s LA motor show, at which time more images and technical details will be released. The car is due on sale in the US in 2018, but when it’ll reach the UK is yet to be confirmed.

Infiniti’s presence in the UK has slowly grown, partly thanks to its lack of diesel offerings, but remains small. The QX50’s new bold claims for efficiency and the UK’s changing attitude to diesel in view of the Government’s upcoming tax hikes could put the Japanese brand in a better place. 



Source: Autocar Online

Video: Volvo XC40 2018 review | Can Volvo SUV match Audi Q3 or BMW X1?

Smaller than the XC60 and XC90, the XC40 sits on brand new architecture and is designed to rival other small SUVs like the Audi Q3 and BMW X1 – how does it compare to its rivals?

The Volvo XC40 is Volvo’s latest SUV/4×4/crossover/call it what you will. Smaller than the XC60 and XC90, sits on a brand new Volvo compact architecture and is designed to rival other small SUVs like the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Jaguar E-Pace.

How does it go about it? By not being a complete facsimile of larger Volvos. It’s blockier, funkier, and bolder in design both inside and out. And it doesn’t follow the norm when it comes to driving, either, as we discover. Instead of trying to make it sporty, Volvo has chilled and given the XC40 a relaxed driving style all of its own.

Where does that leave it in its compact SUV class? Join the Autocar car team as we take to the road in an XC40 2.0 D4.

Read our written Volvo XC40 review here



Source: Autocar Online

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