Bloodhound land speed project officially axed

Bloodhound SSC

The 1000mph project has been canned after administrators failed to secure a £25million cash injection

Bloodhound, the 1000mph land speed record project founded in 2007 by previous record holder Richard Noble and current holder Andy Green, has been shut down after administrators failed to find the cash needed to keep it running.

The bold project entered administration in October, citing a shortage of funds since running the car at 200mph on Newquay Airport a year ago.

At the time, team insiders say the project needed around £5 million to run the car at 500-600mph under jet power on its already-prepared 18km track in South Africa, around £15m to achieve 800mph and break the existing record, and around £25m to reach its ultimate goal of lifting the record to 1000mph.  

Andrew Sheridan, from administrator FRP Advisory, had been put in charge of securing the funding. While hopeful he could find the funding when interviewed by Autocar, he has now said that no purchaser could be found. 

“Despite overwhelming public support, and engagement with a wide range of potential and credible investors, it has not been possible to secure a purchaser for the business and assets,” Sheridan told the BBC.

“We will now work with the key stakeholders to return the third-party equipment and then sell the remaining assets of the company to maximise the return for creditors.”

The FRP Advisory team that took the helm was the same group that found new owners and a stable future for the Force India Formula 1 team. When he took over the project, joint administrator Sheridan described Bloodhound as “a truly ground-breaking project that has built a global audience and helped inspire a new generation of STEM [science, technology, engineering, maths] talent in the UK”.

Opinion: how Bloodhound could have survived 

At the time it entered administration, Bloodhound bosses had estimated the project would take about 10 months to get ready for its first South African runs, building the team up from the present five or six to around 15 people. For the full-on 1000mph record runs, they’d have needed closer to 40 people.

In an unusually bullish statement at the time, Sheridan said he believed administration provides the team with “breathing space” to identify new investors. “While not an insignificant amount,” he said, “the £25m Bloodhound requires to break the land speed record is a fraction of the cost of, for example, finishing last in an F1 season or running an America’s Cup team. 

Read more

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Bloodhound SSC: inside the factory building a 1000mph car

Bloodhound wants electric power for its 600bhp fuel pump

Source: Autocar Online

Suzuki Jimny

Suzuki Jimny 2018 road test review - hero front
Was Suzuki’s iconic miniature off-roader’s long-overdue overhaul worth the wait?

Revitalised utilitarian icons must be a bit like buses; only, rather than waiting minutes for one before several arrive in a rash, the gap is decades long.Already this year Mercedes has launched a painstaking new interpretation of the G-Class for the modern era. Meanwhile, prototypes for an all-new Land Rover Defender have also been seen roaming the Midlands. Jeep, too, has given the first freshened Wrangler for a fair old while, and then there is this: the tiny Jimny, which Suzuki hasn’t really touched for two decades.You might well wonder why it would. Built to adhere to pocket-size Japanese kei-car regulations, the formula Suzuki concocted for the original ‘Light Jeep 10’ of 1970 was simple but effective. That’s why this fourth-generation car remains usefully small, authentically gifted off-road and enviably inexpensive.With such a small footprint, it’s a veritable hard-hat on wheels, and you’d expect it to contribute powerfully to global Jimny sales already approaching three million. Especially given the warm reception for an unashamedly retro exterior design, which impertinently echoes that of the far more exclusive G-Class.But, ultimately, the job of the Jimny is more than that of a kitsch fashion accessory. These are working cars – tools that go almost anywhere and often change the lives of their owners for the better. It’s why, on a recent road-testing excursion to rural Wales – farming country – the little Suzuki attracted far more honest attention from locals than the 911 GT3 parked adjacent.It’s also why Suzuki is concerned its Kosai production lines cannot meet demand, such has been the level of interest since its launch at the Paris motor show.What, then, can those excited prospective customers expect? Let’s find out.

Source: Autocar Online

Pininfarina to launch electric super-SUV using Rivian tech

Automobili Pininfarina’s upcoming SUV could produce over 1000bhp and will use an 800V charging system

Automobili Pininfarina will follow its electric hypercar, the PF0, with three SUVs, of which the most powerful one – codenamed PF1 – will rival the Lamborghini Urus

As first reported by our sister site Autocar India, development work on the PF1 SUV has already begun back in the Mahindra-owned car maker’s headquarters in Munich. “Work has started on the PF1 and right now, we are in the process of finalising the design, which again is being done by Pininfarina,” said Pawan Goenka, MD of the Mahindra and Mahindra group. 

Pininfarina had previously confirmed that it will use powertrain and battery technology supplied by electric hypercar maker Rimac in the PF0. However, Autocar India has confirmed that Automobili Pininfarina will partner with Rivian, an electric vehicle maker and automotive technology company based in the US, for the underpinnings of its SUVs. Rivian Automotive will provide the ‘skateboard’ platform for the company’s all-electric SUV models that will follow the PF0.

Rivian, which has been making EV platforms for several years, recently launched its first production models at the LA motor show – the R1S SUV and R1T pick-up truck. Rivian officials at the show did not confirm the news about its partnership with Pininfarina but did state that the company had been in talks with Mahindra. 

The Rivian R1S and R1T are designed to be capable on- and off-road and develop around 750bhp from electric motors at each wheel. The company says the vehicles will be semi-autonomous and will be offered with three battery packs delivering differing driving ranges, with the maximum being around 640km. 

Rivian’s skateboard platform is developed to offer electric vehicle technology that combines brisk pace and long range along with off-road capability. The platform combines features such as Dynamic Roll Control and air suspension with a battery with maximised energy density. Both Rivian models will be capable of a 0-60mph (0-100kph) time of around 3sec.

While it is not known if PF1 SUV will have the same off-road credentials as the Rivian SUV, the Pininfarina model is being developed to be blisteringly quick. It will be equipped with a 135Kwh battery pack (larger than the PF0’s 120 Kwh) and will have an 800V system for fast charging. With 200kW at each wheel, the PF1 might weigh around 2,300-2,400kg and could produce up to 800kW – equivalent to 1,074bhp.

Founded in 2009 by RJ Scaringe, Rivian recently secured USD 200 million from Standard Chartered, bringing its overall financing to USD 450 million, having already secured funds from the investment arm of Saudi Arabia-based Abdul Latif Jameel and Sumitomo Corporation of Americas. 

Read more:

Why Rivian isn’t just another electric car start-up

Pininfarina: why the Italian design house is making an electric supercar

Source: Autocar Online

Jaguar Land Rover UK boss: buyers don’t want digital-only car sales

Jaguar Land rover dealership

Buyers want to complete most elements of car-buying online but not all of them, says boss

Consumers don’t want to buy a car totally online, according to Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) UK managing director Rawdon Glover.

“Less than 10% of customers want a completely digital experience,” he said. “Manufacturers that will win in this space will make the car-buying journey as easy as possible.”

JLR is one of a number of car makers that has introduced online car sales to some extent over the past two years.

Other brands embracing digital sales include Hyundai, Dacia, Peugeot, BMW, Ford and Tesla.

Glover identified 24 stages of the car-buying process, 19 of which can be done digitally through JLR.

“We are investing heavily in our website, for example, our configurators, to allow customers to get much further digitally. But then all fulfilment will be through dealerships,” he said.

“We are looking at how the physical and digital worlds can work together.”

He outlined the changing habits of car buying: “Customers want to do research at home. By the time they arrive at a retailer, they are so close to purchasing. The customer is much more informed.”

As a result, Glover doesn’t want interaction at a dealership to be “just transactional”. He added that he believes a dealer’s role is to build relationships and be part of the community. Such a move also ensures long-term business for retailers, as customers will be more likely to return for servicing and maintenance.

Jaguar first announced its online retail plans in 2016 when it launched a digital store in partnership with Rockar. It was the second brand to partner with Rockar, following the lead of Hyundai. The service offers customers the option of buying their car online accompanied by a dealership in a high-footfall location – in this case Westfield Stratford in London – where customers are greeted by “non-selling product experts” rather than commission-based salespeople.

Since then, Hyundai’s Rockar retail sites have been taken over by a more traditional dealer group as Hyundai launched its own click-to-buy platform, and it’s thought that JLR might go down the same route.

Read more

Online car-buying: which brands have one?

New Range Rover Evoque revealed

Jaguar considers transformation to EV-only brand


Source: Autocar Online

Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 7 December

Audi R8

You can pick up one of the first R8s for under £40,000, but make sure it’s not going to cost more down the line

The Audi R8 RWS in our recent Britain’s Best Driver’s Car super-test will have set some souls thinking about bagging themselves an early model

A poke around the classifieds turned up a few for about £30,000 – but that isn’t where you want to look. Instead, between £35k and £40k is where nice, early R8s hang out. By nice we mean, above all, full service history and definitely no insurance category status (we found a Cat D that wasn’t immediately declared as such). 

One tidy R8 that caught our eye was a 2008/58 V8 automatic with 44,000 miles and full Audi service history, for £37,995. It looked the business in Phantom Black with black leather (inset), and was being sold by a reputable specialist. 

Touch wood, it’s without fault, but all the same it and all used R8s can be a money pit if you get it wrong, so do your checks. 

The V8 engine is a reliable unit but beware cars that have had extended service intervals – an annual service is best. Listen for misfires caused by faulty coils, and for any engine grumbles suggesting imminent big-end failure. 

While you’re poking about, check the outer radiators for leaky seams. The clutch lasts around 20,000 miles so we’d pay particular attention to the one in the car we have our eye on. 

Get it on the ramp and inspect the suspension for steel and aluminium corrosion, leaky shocks and play in the lower rear wishbones. Brake discs are around £300 each so factor wear into your negotiations. Still with the car in the air, look for bodywork ripples, dents on the long doors and, again, possible galvanic corrosion where steel and aluminium meet.

Ford Ka, £795: The new EnduroKA race series will attract post-2002 Kas with the SOHC engine, like this 2004 example we found. The Luxury spec would have to go for racing, but at least it’s got the sporty white dials ready and waiting.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 43, £53,990: Fancy a GLE 43 4Matic like the one pictured for £11,635 less than when it was new? It’s a pre-registered car with nine miles on the clock and one previous keeper. There are few finer ways to go from 0-62mph in 5.7sec while looking down on the world. 

Talbot Sunbeam Lotus, £27,995: This model competed in the World Rally Championship from 1979 to 1983, winning the Lombard RAC Rally in 1980 with Henri Toivonen at the wheel and its maker the constructor’s title in 1981. Competition association is enough to hike prices of classics. 

Subaru Legacy 3.0R, £2500: It was almost as entertaining as an Impreza. We spotted this 2005- reg car with 144,000 miles and full service history. It’s the rare manual; a better set-up than the auto. The seller has just bought another Subaru estate. Now there’s confidence. 

Auction watch

Fiat Barchetta: Most examples of Fiat’s pretty left-hook convertible have succumbed to tin worm, but this 1997 P-reg car appears to have escaped its worst ravages to achieve £2640 on the hammer. Still, you can’t be too careful. 

We hope the lucky bidder had checked the wheel arches around the jacking points and sill edges, and poked at the underseal with a screwdriver (it traps water, causing the floor to rot). Were they allowed to start the engine, it would have been wise to listen for a noisy cam variator too – it sounds diesel-like.

Get it while you can

Range Rover Evoque eD4 SE, price new £31,505, price now £27,850: Now the facelifted version is here, it’s a good time to scour the forecourts and classifieds for a pre-reg, old-model Evoque and save yourself a few thousand in the process. 

We found one with 100 miles at a main dealer for £27,850. Granted, it’s the basic eD4 SE in orphan white but that’s still £3663 less than its then new price. Saying that, some sellers were actually doing brand-new ones with a saving of £3420, making that pre-reg look less tempting. Still, you could always haggle a discount on it.

Clash of the classifieds

Brief: Find me a family PHEV for short electric trips and long hauls, for £20k.

Volkswagen Golf GTE, £18,995: You can go 20% further on an electric charge with this Golf GTE than the car below. That’s right, 31 miles – earth-shattering! But a two- to three-hour charge from a 3.7kW charger would help cut fuel consumption, then the efficient 1.4-litre petrol engine we like in the normal Golf will take over, and should give you 45mpg all day long. Plus, being a hatchback, it’s considerably more practical than a booted Beemer. For £18,995 for this 2016 example, there’s no better family PHEV. Max Adams

BMW 330e, £18,495: Let’s face it, most plug-in hybrids have all the pizzazz of a tray of soil, and the only one that really stands out in our rush to petrol-electric nirvana is the magnificent 330e – a handsome, soft-riding, rear-wheel-drive, mega-handling four-door executive saloon of such competence, it can survive on electric power alone before its delightful 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine chips in. You get luxury, quality and great driving dynamics, as well as, in this example, a one-owner, 9000-mile car for less than £20k. If this is the future, bring it on. Mark Pearson

Verdict: Funny how that BMW badge melts even the steeliest resolve… I’ll take the 330e and live with its paltry 14-mile electric range. Sorry, Golf. John Evans

Read more

Audi R8 2007-2014 review​

2019 Audi R8 revealed with tweaked design and more power

Next Audi R8 to be hypercar-chasing EV​

Source: Autocar Online

Matt Prior: you don't have to own an Alfa to be an enthusiast

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

The old adage about Alfa Romeos and ‘true petrolheads’ doesn’t ring true for our road tester, but he does see sense in Twisted’s business strategy

I’ve read over the years that you can’t really say you’re into cars if you don’t like motor shows. That you don’t really like cars if you don’t like motor racing. Or that you’re no car enthusiast until you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo

And so, by that reckoning, if you don’t really like large warehouses, are busy at weekends and have owned a few nice sports cars like a Porsche 911 and a Caterham, then I’m sorry old friend, you’re just not one of us. 

Which is daft, right? These people must know it when they say it or write it. There are 60-odd million of us in Britain and yet you’ll know if you’ve tried to enjoy a car near most of them that they don’t like it: you’re too flashy, you’re too noisy, you’re too fast, you’re too dirty, you’re cluttering up the street with your rusty old spudder. 

And yet most adults have a car. There are more than 31 million cars on Britain’s roads, and some 45 million of us have a driving licence, so are presumably not averse on principle to the idea of travelling by car. 

People drive a lot: on average, each of those 31 million cars travels over 8200 miles a year. The average speed of them isn’t much more than 30mph, which means drivers on average spend 250 hours a year in a car. 

I don’t think there’s anything else I spend 250 hours a year doing that I wouldn’t consider myself pretty good at by now. There is a hive of people who spend a large portion of their waking days absorbed by cars and driving, and people want to tell them they don’t really like cars because they’ve never bought an Italian one? 

I don’t buy it. I don’t really care how you enjoy cars, I don’t care if you enjoy driving only because it lets you listen to a podcast and pick your nose. So long as you get the tiniest piece of enjoyment out of being behind the wheel, congratulations, or perhaps sorry, you are somebody who likes cars. 

Twisted: method in the madness

Fun to read my colleague Ricky Lane’s verdict on the latest Twisted Defender a few weeks ago. I like Land Rover Defenders despite their limitations and I like what Twisted does with them. And, yes, I know they’re expensive, but a lot of hours go into them and, at any price, a Defender is not exactly a rational purchase. 

Twisted’s decision to buy some, though, was a bit more rational: it spent £7.5 million stockpiling 240 of them before the car went out of production in January 2016, and it has 80 left. 

It’s divvying those up into two different series, dubbed ‘Make History’ and ‘Remake History’. The Remake ones, 44 of them, will be modified in a way that “pays homage to the history of the original”, including inspiration from early Series Land Rovers. They go into ‘production’, so to speak, on 29 January, three years to the day since series production stopped. And the remaining 36 Make History versions will go to existing customers with, presumably, ever more bonkers bespoke modifications. 

And then you can still take an existing Defender to Twisted for mods. Irrational? Sure, but like I said above: who are we to judge?

Read more

2016 Twisted T40s review​

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio review​

Should a true car enthusiast like all cars?​

Source: Autocar Online

Renault Kadjar 2018 review


Renault has facelifted its answer to the Nissan Qashqai – the Kadjar. We drive the range-topping model in Sardinia

You might have a hard time actually noticing it, but this is actually a new Renault Kadjar. So far as facelifts go, it’s definitely one of the harder-to-spot ones. At least from what you can actually see by standing a metre or two away, anyway.But I don’t think Renault’s conservatism on this front should be battered too much. Next to the Nissan Qashqai, with which the Kadjar effectively shares everything, the Renault was always the more handsome of the two. The minor tweaks wrought upon its exterior – the new grille design, redone foglight housings, altered front and rear skid plates, for example – simply ensure this remains the case. At least they do in my eyes, anyway.Of more significance than those slight visual adjustments, though, is the reshuffling that’s occured within the Kadjar’s powertrain department, where there are now two engines to choose from. Well, two engines and a handful of tranmission and power output combinations, to be precise; but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll just go with two engines. The first of which is is a 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol that – surprise, surprise – is also available in recently updated Nissan Qashqai. Here, it’ll make either 138bhp or 157bhp. And if that doesn’t float your boat, there’s  a 1.5-litre diesel with 114bhp or 148bhp, too. And just when you think you couldn’t get any more spoilt for choice, you can also have four-wheel drive – but only if you opt for the top-spec diesel model.Speaking of which, the Kadjar’s trim heirarchy has also been tweaked. As with the smaller Clio and Captur models, Play now represents the basic offering, Iconic the mid-grade and GT Line the flagship. Unlike those smaller models, there’s a fourth trim – S-Edition – which slots between Iconic and GT Line. And as for the cabin? Well that’s been treated to a much-needed overhaul as well, as the previous model was beginning to look especially tired on the inside. The main change is to the dash fascia, which now features three rotary dials for the HVAC system, each of which contain digital displays for thing like temperature and fan speed a la Jaguar I-Pace. Sort of. There’s a new 7in touchscreen, too. While not exactly changing the game for Kadjar, it’s a welcome remodelling.

Source: Autocar Online

Lexus RC F Track Edition: spyshots and first official image

Lexus will debut its most hardcore model since the LFA at Detroit motor show in January

Lexus has released the first official image of its new RC F Track Edition, as well as confirming the model will debut at the 2019 Detroit motor show.

The image, although not revealing much, shows the BMW M4 CS rival features a large fixed rear wing that appears to be made out of carbon fibre. Recent spyshots, which show the Track Edition testing at the Nurburgring, also reveal alterations to the standard RC F’s front and rear bumper designs.

Little is known about the extent of the Track Edition’s upgrades, but the 2016 RC F GT concept showcased an extensive weight saving programme. It’s unlikely that Lexus will be able to shave off the same 360kg for production, but expect a significant kerbweight reduction nonetheless.

We should also see upgrades to the chassis and suspension to give the RC F more of a bias towards handling over road comfort. Whether or not more power will be squeezed from the 470bhp naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8 engine remains to be seen. We can expect more details prior to the car’s Detroit reveal in January. 

Read more:

Lexus LC review

Facelifted Lexus LC: prices and specs announced



Source: Autocar Online

Opinion: Tech focus shows Skoda is ready to lead instead of follow

Skoda Scala

Scala’s debut proves Skoda is more than one of the VW Group’s ‘budget’ brands

Why launch a family hatchback in Tel Aviv?

For Skoda, choosing Israel’s second city as the debut location for the all-new Scala makes a lot of sense: the area is home to more than 6,500 technology startups, placing it second only to Silicon Valley as the largest global startup scene. 

Two of the Scala’s biggest plays to attract a younger, more connected audience are its new technology and an upgraded infotainment system, so it fits right in. But more importantly, all this new-to-the-Volkswagen Group hardware is appearing on a Skoda first.

The Volkswagen Group tends to shuffle which brands get to introduce new metal and platforms in various market segments on a regular basis, but it’s unusual for Skoda to be given first dibs on new technology. Normally Volkswagen would lead the charge itself, but the group’s third-generation infotainment system makes its debut here instead.

The Scala is also the first with wireless Android Auto and Apple Carplay (admittedly as an option rather than as standard), which means no more having to remember to pack a cable if you want to connect your phone to your car. It will be always-connected, too, so you’ll be able to remotely lock the doors or check where you parked using your smartphone, before you will on any VW or Seat. Even the humble USB port is dead, as far as the Scala’s cockpit is concerned: it’s the ultra-modern USB-C all the way (don’t worry, adaptors are available).

Letting what was traditionally seen as a budget brand pioneer this kind of equipment is a bold move – but it’s also a smart way to make Skoda appeal to a more mainstream market. After all, the company wants to sell twice as many Scala across Europe as it did the Rapid, and achieving that will mean competing with giants like the Ford Focus and VW’s own Golf. Giving it some standout tech helps it stand out in ways a Simply Clever ice scraper hidden in the fuel filler cap simply can’t.

Right now, Skoda won’t be your first thought as the maker of high-tech interiors, electric powertrains and autonomous cars. But that should change by 2020, when the company is plotting to have nine electric models on sale. A volume seller like the Scala seems as good a place as any to start turning that perception around.

Read more

2019 Skoda Scala: all-new family hatchback revealed

Skoda to push bolder design ahead of first electric cars

Skoda Scala 2019 prototype: first drive review

Source: Autocar Online

2019 Skoda Scala: all-new family hatchback revealed

Skoda Scala 2019 official reveal - studio hero front

Upmarket family hatch debuts brand’s new design language and overhauled interior

Skoda has revealed the new Scala, with which it plans to take on the recently overhauled Ford Focus in the competitive family hatchback market – and considers it to be “the best chance” of redefining the segment for the brand.

The Scala, which replaces the Rapid in Skoda’s line-up, will only be available as a hatchback, and is the first Skoda to be built on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB A0 platform, which is already used on models such as the Seat Ibiza and VW T-Roc.

It marks the debut of what Skoda is calling a “more emotional” design language, and takes styling cues from the Vision RS concept shown at the Paris motor show earlier this year.

That includes the optional all-glass rear window, which replaces a more traditional tailgate and features the word ‘Skoda’ written out in place of a logo (the manufacturer’s first car to do so) in an effort to distinguish the brand in markets where it is less well known, such as China.

The Scala also features an all-new interior, with new materials throughout including microfibre fabric for the seats and soft foam surfaces for the dashboard trim. The freestanding touchscreen infotainment system can be paired with an optional 10.25in virtual cockpit display in place of traditional instruments. The main touchscreen sits on a ‘shelf’ for people to brace their hands while operating it.

The five-seat Scala is 4362mm long, making it marginally longer than the outgoing Rapid Spaceback, with larger 2649mm wheelbase allows for increased legroom. At 467 litres, Skoda also says the Scala has the largest boot in the segment. An optional electric tailgate also features.

Other trademark Skoda touches, including an umbrella compartment in the driver’s door and ice scraper in the fuel filler cap that doubles as a tyre tread depth gauge, make a return.

In the UK, four engines will be offered at launch: two 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrols with 94bhp or 113bhp, a 1.5-litre, 148bhp four-cylinder petrol and a 1.6-litre, 114bhp diesel. All will be powered through five- or six-speed manuals, or a seven-speed DSG automatic. There are currently no plans to introduce the plug-in hybrid powertrain previewed by the Vision RS concept.

An optional sport chassis will ride 15mm lower than the standard car and include four user-adjustable drive modes for a more responsive throttle and steering.

Three different trim levels – S, SE and SE L – will be offered in the UK. All will include a number of driver assist systems as standard, including autonomous emergency braking and lane keep assist. Adaptive cruise control, rear-view camera and automatic park assist are available as options.

Exact specifications have yet to be confirmed for the UK, but higher-end models will receive options such as keyless entry, wireless smartphone charging and remote door unlocking via a mobile app.

Scala is a Latin word that means ‘ladder’, and represents Skoda’s ‘next step forward in the compact segment’ according to company boss Bernhard Maier.

The Scala will go on sale in the UK in mid-2019. Prices are likely to start from around £16,500.


Skoda Scala 2019 prototype review: first drive of new hatchback

Why car firms are swapping logos for letters on bootlids

Skoda to push bolder design ahead of first electric cars

Source: Autocar Online

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