Insight: the story behind the Mini Remastered

Insight: Mini Remastered

The Mini Remastered has the original’s dimensions…

Many firms have tried to reinvent the Mini, but David Brown Automotive’s take on the British icon is the most convincing yet

Well-known quotes from Hollywood blockbusters rarely get into car stories, but David Brown, the man behind Mini Remastered, produced one last week while explaining how he intends to cope with the unexpectedly high demand for his new family of modernised, customised classic Minis.

“Well,” he said, nicking Roy Scheider’s famous line from Jaws, “we’re gonna need a bigger boat…”

When the Remastered idea was revealed about six weeks ago, Brown and his small team talked about initial production of about 100 cars a year, a settle-down volume of about 250 and delivery of the first car this November. But by the end of the first day, serious enquiries – some from as far afield as Japan and Australia – had topped 650, and now the number has swelled beyond 2000. The phone rings all the time.

The company’s tiny sales team (comprising people who do other jobs but have had to learn a new skill) has started taking £2000 deposits so those with a particularly severe case of gotta-have-one disease can be on a waiting list. It’s not that the company really wants a waiting list at this stage; more that it’s a way of coping with relentless customer pressure. Brown calls the response “brilliant”, but also knows it’s going to force a re-think of his business model.

David Brown Automotive has long planned a move this month into new factory at Silverstone. The place was planned as home base for both the Mini project and Brown’s existing Speedback business: for several years DBA has been building an ultra-low volume £600,000 GT car with styling reminiscent of an Aston Martin DB5, based on the inner architecture of the all-aluminium Jaguar XK. But with orders already reaching into production years ahead, he knows he’ll have to think again – hence the “bigger boat” observation.

Any rethink will have to start with consultations with suppliers about their ability to deliver more components, Brown says: “In the meantime, our job is to make sure the cars are ready for production in every detail. We wouldn’t want to start and then find we had to make alterations.” He understands the requirements of production better than most people: one of his biggest businesses was a dump-truck manufacturing concern that started out making just one vehicle in its first year, but built up to produce 7.5 of these mammoth £300,000-plus vehicles every day – before his firm was bought by Caterpillar.

Why choose to remake Alec Issigonis’s famous little city car? “We’d been thinking about a new project for quite a while,” says Brown. “It had to be something with a bit of volume attached to it. Remastering and improving a famous British car seemed the most appealing idea. There were some obvious candidates such as the E-type, but the Mini appealed most of all.”

For the big Remastered announcement, Brown and DBA built three prototypes to show off potential themes: a luxurious Monte Carlo, a more basic Club Sport and a traditional Classic, ranging downward in price from £85,000 to £75,000 (before local taxes).

The prototypes may look rather like original Issigonis Minis (they have identical dimensions), but they are equipped and finished to far higher standards than those ever contemplated by Austin-Morris, BL, Leyland Cars, BLMC and the rest of the straggle of companies that built almost 5.4m Minis over 41 years.

Officially, DBA refurbishes Minis, rather than making new ones, which means it will never get into the copyright trouble that has dogged other revival schemes. It works with existing cars, obtaining new shells from British Motor Heritage (a legitimate form of restoration) then sets out on a long, labour-intensive job of preparing and de-seaming them, refitting as much of the original equipment as is relevant, equipping each car with a 1275cc engine and much, much more.

Every car has a redesigned dash that looks right for the car, yet houses niceties like air-con, sat-nav, Bluetooth capability, a starter button, a classy hifi, four dashboard eyeball vents, electric windows and a starter button on the dash. The wonder is that this stuff all fits, without appearing to be squeezed in. Brown and his designer, Mike Sampson, have taken great pains to make sure the interior – leather seats, Alcantara headlining – looks compactly, professionally designed. And it does.

Sampson has designed an elegant new grille that splits the difference between an original Mini shape and that of the Speedback. It’s pretty and appropriate. The Mini’s unsightly roof gutters are made far less prominent and the unsightly diagonal seam over the car’s rear flank is removed completely, along with other body crudities. The boot gets an electric catch and loses its handle. Under the skin are new rubber suspension units, carefully chosen from around 20 varieties on the market after an evaluation programme that involved buying various existing cars.

DBA is fanatical about fit and finish: the whole assembly process takes 1400 hours (of which 400 are painting alone) and the finished car, though so familiar to look at, might have been made by Porsche. If someone in the US or Japan wants a car, DBA will import one from that market, do the work, and send it back.

Brown has his own associations with Mini, having owned one in his youth, and struggled like everyone else to modify it. Remastered, he feels, fits into that tradition of modified Minis, even if the price will stop many people. A stickler for detail, Brown admits it’s a special thrill to remanufacture a car that was never made well in the first place.

“I had two heroes in my life,” he says, “Roger Daltry and my Dad — Daltry because I love rock music; my father because he taught me everything. He’d talk a lot about the Mini. He reckoned it was a superbly engineered machine that was never made well. Maybe I’m compensating for that now.” 

Source: Autocar Online

Rolls-Royce evaluating options for more one-off 'coachbuilds'

Rolls Royce Sweptail 2017

The Rolls-Royce Sweptail one-off was unveiled at Villa d’Este in Italy

One-off projects ‘a logical path’ for British marque, but customer involvement likely to be more limited than ‘Sweptail’ commission

Rolls-Royce’s director of design says that company could make more one-off ‘coachbuild’ specials in the future – but says a customer is unlikely to ever again be as involved in the design of a car as they were with the bespoke Sweptail machine.

Revealed at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Esta in Lake Como, Italy on Saturday, Sweptail is a bespoke design based on a heavily reworked Phantom VII coupe. It was developed over the course of four years between an unnamed Rolls-Royce customer and the British firm’s design department – and Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Otvös believes it may be the most expensive new car ever sold.

Full story: Rolls-Royce reveals bespoke ‘Sweptail’ one-off

While Rolls-Royce has long offered a Bespoke service, Sweptail was the first time the firm had heavily reworked the exterior appearance of the car, as well as incorporating unique interior features.

The machine echoes back to the coachbuild Rolls-Royce machines of the 1940s, when bespoke cars were constructed on a base platform.

Asked whether the development process of Sweptail would be repeated Giles Taylor, Rolls-Royce’s director of design, told Autocar: “We will probably never repeat the level of involvement we had with a customer for this car ever again, not because we don’t want to, but because it’s always fraught with risk that someone may misinterpret the end goal. It’s a risk you might end up with something that doesn’t fit the brand, or suit the customer.

“We may pro-actively offer coachbuild cars in the future, where we create the project and then sell the one-off nature to a customer. That’s an idea, not a plan, but it’s something we could do.”

Opinion: why outlandish one-off concept could be the future of Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce looking at challaneges of coachbuild projects

Müller-Otvös said the firm would evaluate further coachbuild projects, but highlighted several challenges, including ensuring personalised cars meet safety laws and hiring extra staff that can hand-sculpt bodywork.

“We are currently investigating it, more in a case of what we can do and how we can do it,” he said. “We have learned a lot on this journey, and that needs a bit of thought now. It’s something we might continue, but there are no plans yet. But I wouldn’t be surprised to have a couple of my customers knocking on my door on Monday and saying ‘I want one’.

“I think the future for luxury in the long-term is to go even more bespoke, and for that reason it’s kind of a logic path, but it’s not yet understood in which dimension we will do it. There is a market, that’s for sure.”

New architecture could help coachbuilds

Müller-Otvös added that any Rolls-Royce’s new platform architecture could ease the way for more coachbuild projects.

“Our decision is to go to a spaceframe, aluminium-only architecture, and that technology, in principal, allows for us to do stuff like that,” he said. “But it needs a bit more investigation. I don’t want to over-promise to customers and under-deliver. Let’s put it like this: why not?

“Coachbuild projects are nothing that we would do regularly. It needs to be truly unique and exclusive.”

Rolls-Royce: luxury goods, not cars

The ultra-exclusive one-off nature of Sweptail contrasts sharply with other premium car brands, such as Bentley, which has increased volume in recent years with the Bentayga SUV.

While Rolls-Royce is developing its own SUV, Müller-Otvös insisted that the brand was not looking to increase volumne. “We are not talking about volume, we are not talking numbers that are detrimental to luxury,” he said. “It is our strategy that we are not interested in expanding the brand below Ghost, because that would be detrimental to luxury.

“We are not here in the car business, we are in the luxury goods business. Nobody needs our products to go from A to B. What customers love is to bring their own stories into our products, which is why Bespoke is so popular.

“Is it the opposite of what others are doing when it comes to mass manufacture? Yes, sure, because Rolls-Royce is all about uniqueness, and about very special objects of art.”

Customer experience key

Taylor added that the heavy involvement in the development process was part of the appeal for the customer: “He’s got his new car now, but I think he might be thinking ‘when can I do the next one’, because he enjoyed the experience so much. It’s like a Masterchef moment, when you’re in the kitchen learning tricks from the pros. For that moment, he was a car designer.”

Source: Autocar Online

BMW M8 confirmed for January 2018 Le Mans race debut

BMW M8 confirmed

Hot 8 Series has been confirmed, with an endurance racing GTE variant hitting the Daytona 24 Hours in the new year

The BMW M8 has been confirmed by the brand, as has its endurance racing counterpart – the M8 GTE.

It’ll sit above the recently confirmed 8 Series, which itself was previewed by the 8 Series Concept, revealed this week. 

It’s likely to get the 6.6-litre V12 from the M760Li, which with 601bhp is BMW’s fastest-accelerating model to date, reaching 62mph in 3.7sec. It is likely to surpass the M760Li, as the model will be considerably lighter than its extended-wheelbase 7 Series sibling.

The production car will have M’s signature quad exhaust pipes, larger brakes and uprated air intakes, BMW announced, although further details have not been given. 

M division president Frank van Meel said: “The conception and development of the standard BMW 8 Series and the M model run in parallel. The future BMW M8 will build on the genes of the 8 Series and augment its DNA with added track ability and generous extra portions of dynamic sharpness, precision and agility. It all flows into a driving experience that bears the familiar BMW M hallmarks and satisfies our customers’ most exacting requirements.”

The M8 GTE will be given its racing debut at the Daytona 24 Hours in January next year. The standard M8 is likely to be revealed ahead of this; the 8 Series goes on sale in the second half of next year, although no reveal date has yet been provided for either.

The M8 will carry a heavy premium over the standard 8 Series, so a starting price surpassing that of even the i8 supercar is certain; the Mercedes-AMG S63 kicks off at around £131,000, so the M8 should remain competitive with its Stuttgart competitor.

Source: Autocar Online

BMW M8 confirmed for 2018 twinned with M8 GTE-class racer

BMW M8 confirmed

Hot 8 Series has been confirmed, with an endurance racing GTE variant hitting the Daytona 24 Hours in the new year

The BMW M8 has been confirmed by the brand, as has its endurance racing counterpart – the M8 GTE.

It’ll sit above the recently confirmed 8 Series, which itself was previewed by the 8 Series Concept, revealed this week. It’s likely to be powered by a more highly stressed version of the next M5’s 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine and share the same ‘M xDrive’ four-wheel drive system. The production car will have M’s signature quad exhaust pipes, larger brakes and uprated air intakes, BMW announced, although further details have not been given. 

M division president Frank van Meel said: “The conception and development of the standard BMW 8 Series and the M model run in parallel. The future BMW M8 will build on the genes of the 8 Series and augment its DNA with added track ability and generous extra portions of dynamic sharpness, precision and agility. It all flows into a driving experience that bears the familiar BMW M hallmarks and satisfies our customers’ most exacting requirements.”

“We have been involved with the wider 8-series project from the very beginning,” van Meel told Autocar. “Our challenge as engineers was actually to ensure that the standard car wasn’t too sporty for its customers, because we wanted the M8 to feel like a proper step up. Also, because not all 8-series customers want an M car.”

Insiders suggest the 8-series and M8 will use the same platform as both the 7-series and 5-series, and that the big M-car will share much of the engine and drivetrain of the forthcoming four-wheel drive M5. “For now I can’t confirm that,” said van Meel, “except to say that we have watched the luxury sports coupe market closely, and we see lots of four-wheel drive cars within it already. We have also already proven that our ‘M xDrive’ four-wheel drive system doesn’t adversely affect the handling purity of the new M5, and some journalists have already had a chance to test that and to write as much. There’s nothing to fear from four-wheel drive.”

“We certainly want to make a statement with this car. It will sit at the very top of our model range, and for now we have no confirmed plans for any series production model above it, so we understand it must have a specification suiting its position in our hierarchy.” Expect more than the 615bhp expected of the next M5, therefore.

The M8 GTE racing car, also announced at the Nurburgring 24hr endurance race, will be given its racing debut at the Daytona 24 Hours in January next year before returing a factory BMW effort to the Le Mans 24hr endurance race in 2018 for the first time in six years. The standard M8 is likely to be revealed ahead of this; the 8 Series goes on sale in the second half of next year, although no reveal date has yet been provided for either.

The M8 will carry a heavy premium over the standard 8 Series, so a starting price surpassing that of even the i8 supercar is certain; the Mercedes-AMG S63 kicks off at around £131,000, so the M8 should remain competitive with its Stuttgart competitor.

Additional reporting by Matt Saunders

Source: Autocar Online

Worthersee Treffen 2017: the Golf gallery

Volkswagen Golf TCR Worthersee

VW’s Golf TCR racer was nearby, although away from the main hubbub of the show.

Most of the cars at this year’s Wörthersee Treffen were Volkswagen Golfs. Here are the best and worst: we’ll let you decide which is which…

The Wörthersee Treffen celebrates all things Volkswagen Group, with a particular focus upon GTI

Naturally, that means an overwhelming number of Golfs; after all, over 33 million have been built worldwide, making it the most successful European car in history; far outstripping the Beetle

The show’s focus may have been upon its new baby – the Up GTI – but fans turned up in their droves in Golfs of all shapes and types; including some rare editions which only come out for special occasions like this one. 

Our show report looked at some of the crazy machinery at the event that weren’t Golfs. So now it’s time to take a look at all the Golfs we spotted (well, as many as we could photograph). 

Take a look through our gallery to see which Golfs wowed at the meet, and which could have benefitted from a little more time in the workshop…

Source: Autocar Online

Indianapolis 500: Two Brits on the challenges of this legendary oval race

Indianapolis 500: Two Brits on the challenges of this legendary oval race

Jack Harvey

Jack Harvey and Max Chilton talk to Autocar ahead of this weekend’s race, where they’ll be averaging more than 220mph

The 101st Indy 500 will take place this weekend with Fernando Alonso among the starters. Never before has there been such an international buzz around the event.

McLaren driver Alonso has qualified fifth on the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway in what is his first oval race.

This is a fantastic feat, there’s no doubt about it, but it’s one that forms just a tiny portion of the challenge that lies ahead, as Brit IndyCar drivers Jack Harvey and Max Chilton tell me.

“There’s less to do in terms of corners in Indy [than conventional racing], but your concentration is so much higher,” explains Harvey, who has won at Indy before in the Indy Lights category. “The difference and the level of accuracy are taken to an absolute Nth degree.”

Mario Andretti on Fernando Alonso and the Indianapolis 500

Chilton (pictured above), who has won in Indy Lights and raced in Formula 1 in 2013 and 2014, admits that he still finds the speeds hard to comprehend when returning to the track. “When you first get into an IndyCar, all your mind wants you to do is lift. The speed is insane compared to F1 – they peak at 220-230mph but we’re doing that for 3 hours non stop!”

The speed is high, but it’s the wheel-to-wheel racing that really challenges. The field can be so tightly packed that drivers are often forced to run side by side at more than 220mph, in the dirty air of a car ahead and with another inches behind.

“The way you see a driver push on a qualifying lap [in regular racing] and talking about accuracy – that’s every lap on an oval,” emphasises Harvey (pictured below), who is teammate to Alonso at McLaren Honda Andretti. “When it goes wrong it’s usually because somebody chops across you and suddenly takes away the clean air. At that point it’s out of your control for how the car reacts.”

At such high speeds, you might be inclined to give the car extra grip and composure with higher downforce settings, but Chip Ganassi Racing driver Chilton says the opposite is needed to be competitive.

“You’re basically trying to set the car up with as low downforce as possible on oval configurations,” he explains. “It makes it very hard to run side by side. If you’re going to pass someone you’ve got to commit to the inside; you can only really overtake on the outside if they have much older tyres than you.”

As Sébastien Bourdais’ horrific crash during qualifying earlier this week showed, IndyCar is one of the world’s most dangerous sports. Bourdais, who is an experienced Indy racer and former F1 driver, was lucky to escape his 200mph impact into the wall with just a broken pelvis. Things are much more dangerous when 33 cars are running together.

“I hate to say it but when the F1 boys mention speed an danger, I think you guys need to have a go at IndyCar,” sys Chilton. “It’s proper speed and you’re right on the limit of the car all the time.”

Chilton and Harvey line up 15th and 27th respectively for today’s race start. While that may seem far down the order, the rate of attrition in 500-mile Indy races combined with their unpredictability, means the race really is anyone’s to win.

Engines start today at 5:14pm BST.

The race start positions are as follows:

Row 1

1. 9, Scott Dixon, Honda, Ganassi, 232.164 mph

2. 20, Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, Carpenter, 231.664

3. 98, Alexander Rossi, Honda, Andretti Herta, 231.487

Row 2

4. 26, Takuma Sato, Honda, Andretti, 231.365

5. 29, Fernando Alonso, Honda, Andretti McLaren, 231.300

6. 21, JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, Carpenter, 230.889

Row 3

7. 10, Tony Kanaan, Honda, Ganassi, 230.828 

8. 27, Marco Andretti, Honda, Andretti, 230.474

9. 12, Will Power, Chevrolet, Penske, 230.200

Row 4

10. 28, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, Andretti, 231.442

11. 19, Ed Jones, Honda, Coyne, 230.578

12. 16, Orio Servia, Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, 230.309

Row 5 

13. 7, Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, Schmidt Peterson, 230.271

14. 15, Graham Rahal, Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, 230.253

15. 8, Max Chilton, Honda, Ganassi, 230.068

Row 6

16. 83, Charlie Kimball, Honda, Ganassi, 229.956

17. 5, James Hinchcliffe, Honda, Schmidt Peterson, 229.860

18. 22, Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, Penske, 229.565

Row 7

19. 3, Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, Penske, 229.515

20. 77,  Jay Howard, Honda, Schmidt Peterson, 229.414

21. 24, Sage Karam, Chevrolet, Dreyer & Reinbold, 229.380

Row 8

22. 2, Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, Penske, 228.501

23. 1, Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, Penske, 228.093

24. 14, Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, Foyt, 227.921 

Row 9

25. 88, Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, Harding, 226.921

26. 4, Conor Daly, Chevrolet, Foyt, 226.439

27. 50, Jack Harvey, Honda, Shank Andretti, 225.742 

Row 10

28. 63, Pippa Mann, Honda, Coyne, 225.008

29. 11, Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, Juncos,  224.052

30. 44, Buddy Lazier, Chevrolet, Lazier,  223.417

Row 11

31. 17, Sebastian Saavedra, Chevrolet, Juncos, 221.142

32. 40, Zach Veach, Chevrolet, Foyt, 221.081

33. 18, James Davison, Honda, Coyne, no speed

Source: Autocar Online

Rallycross supercar test: driving a 600bhp monster at Lydden Hill


Matt Prior drove a Citroen C4 supercar currently used in the British Rallycross Championship

How Matt Prior fared when he attempted to tame a mighty Citroen C4 supercar at the home of rallycross

Look, you just don’t diss rallying, OK? I get that. It’s a great sport, all right? And I genuinely do think so too, but people get very upset if you slag it off. So I won’t. 

But can we agree it has some issues? The World Rally Championship has tried to address some of them in the past. That it takes place over a long way is kinda the point of rallying in the first place, because it’s a gruelling test of people and machines, but that makes it hard to manage spectators, hard to film and photograph to get public exposure. 

Q&A: Petter Solberg on the World Rallycross Championship and Lydden Hill

So the WRC introduced things like single service parks, scrapped events like the gruelling Safari Rally, made shorter stages that were based around one area, created ‘arena’ stages, and rather undermining what made it rallying in the first place and rather more like what you see here.

Which, ultimately, I’m not sure has helped rallying’s cause in the long run, because it has revived public attention on this sport. And I’ll tell you something: you ain’t going to compete with rallycross. Rallycross is on a roll like at no time since the 1980s. Cars compete against each other, not just the clock, in short stages, part rough, part smooth, based often in natural amphitheatres so spectators can see almost the entire circuit. And the cars are special, too: wildly powerful, looking enough like cars you can buy off the street, four wheel drive, long on suspension travel and big on going sideways.

In short, rallycross rocks.

In the UK nobody does rallycross quite like the Dorans. Father Pat, and son Liam. Both have won the lot either as drivers or team managers. The Citroen C4 you see in the video below was driven by Pat in the World Rallycross Championship, then mothballed for a while. But in 2017 Liam is running several cars in the British Rallycross Championship as team manager, following a stint driving in the World Rallycrosss Championship himself in a Citroen DS3. For the foreseeable, though, he says he’d rather have the biggest team in British RX than the smallest team in World RX. So the C4 has been resurrected and will be run by Nathan Heathcote. Turns out he’s quite good, and that this car is still rather competitive, because he won the championship’s opening round the other weekend.

It runs to what are known as supercar regulations. There was a time when that meant the 2.0-litre engine had to come from the carmaker’s group, but didn’t necessarily have to be fitted to that car. And it can be, er, ‘modified’. So although the C4 is petrol powered, it uses a PSA 2.0-litre diesel block because that’s stronger than a petrol one; and that’s important because this C4 is running a turbocharger that is even bigger, it looks to me, than the ones they fit to the Bugatti Chiron

Thus equipped, the C4 revs to 8000rpm, near which it makes 600bhp, but that’s not important because you don’t need to take the revs that far. Because it also makes 900lb ft of torque between 4000 and 6000rpm. No, that isn’t a typo. It drives through all four wheels – slightly rear-biased, with limited-slip differentials front and rear – via a six-speed sequential gearbox. Normally with these once you’re under way you can forget about the clutch, but the technician for Heathcote’s C4 advises me that isn’t the case on the loose around the Lydden Hill circuit in Kent. The resultant wheel slip could well lunch the transmission. As can botched use of the brutal launch control starts which makes these cars capable of hitting 60mph from rest in under two seconds. So, basically, go easy, Prior. Sometimes I quite like instructions like that.

Either way, this is not a complicated car to sit in. Visibility is good, you sit relatively high – in racing car terms – and there are three pedals, the gearlever, a steering wheel and a large bar for the handbrake. I won’t be needing that, either. Shift lights, a gear indicator, and that’s all you need to know.

Some race cars have very tricky clutches and stall easily. A car with 900lb ft isn’t one of them. It also has a ride you would describe as compliant. Pat has already driven me around the Lydden Hill circuit – it’s one of those lovely amphitheatre ones that will host two rounds of the British Rallycross Championship, and the only UK round of the World Rallycross Championship – in a Range Rover Sport in which, um you ‘felt’ the bumps a bit.

“You can be flat through here; you’ll be in fourth through there,” says Pat with the nonchalance of a man who is used to a 700bhp Ford RS200. So I’m not and I’m not, but I will say something, the C4 is a ridiculously easy car to drive briskly. And when you do give it the lot. My oh my. It’s not unlike a Chiron, only lighter, more able, more agile, and you could drive it across a ploughed field. The suspension control is utterly extraordinary, the steering wonderfully communicative and unfazed by bumps, and the handling thoroughly approachable. It’s a bit like an off-the scale Ariel Nomad.

Just one is a spectacle. Imagine several of them, then, side by side into the first turn. Only you don’t have to imagine. It’s on the telly on, and at a rallycross track near you, soon. The World RX returns to Lydden for the final time this weekend.

Source: Autocar Online

Mercedes-AMG to launch new entry A 45, CLA 45 and GLA 45 models

Mercedes-AMG A45 Autocar rendering

The next AMG A45, imagined by Autocar

AMG boss Tobias Moers reveals plans for extended compact car line-up on a visit to the Nürburgring 24 Hours

Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance division will extend its compact car line-up with the introduction of a second range of models positioned beneath its existing A 45, CLA 45 and GLA 45 lines.

The two-tier compacy car strategy, which mirrors moves taken further up the AMG line-up, will lead to the launch of a new range of turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder models introduced to the German car maker’s range over the next two years when successor models to the current A-Class, CLA, GLA go on sale

In announcing the new entry level AMG compact car line-up on the sidelines of the Nürburgring 24 Hours in Germany on Saturday, AMG boss Tobias Moers said: “We will compliment our successful 45 models with two versions like we do with our larger cars.”

2019 Mercedes-AMG A 45 to get 400bhp

In a further boost to AMG’s compact car line-up, Moers also confirmed that the production version of the Concept A-Class saloon revealed at the Shanghai motor show would form the basis for two new models as part of the new two tier approach.  

Next Mercedes A-Class to get S-Class tech

“The Compact A sedan has typical AMG features so you can expect that from AMG as well,” said Moers.

The AMG boss also confirmed the successor to the M133 engine used by today’s 45 models will be assembled on site at AMG. “Future four-cylinder performance engines will also be built [at AMG’s engineering headquarters] in Affalterbach,” said Moers.

Hyundai i30N to race at Nürburgring 24 Hours

Source: Autocar Online

Rolls-Royce reveals bespoke 'Sweptail' one-off

Rolls-Royce Sweptail

The Rolls-Royce ‘Sweptail’ is a one-off, bespoke commission

British firm open to more custom designs after revealing stunning customised ‘coachbuild’ machine

This is the Rolls-Royce ‘Sweptail’ – a one-off, bespoke commission that the British marque has hinted could lead to more personalised creations in future.

The highly personalised two-seater, which has been built on the aluminium spaceframe architecture of the Phantom VII Coupe, was commissioned by an unnamed Rolls-Royce customer and unveiled at the Concorso d’Eleganza historic car show, held at Villa d’Esta on Lake Como, Italy.

The owner of Sweptail worked directly with Rolls-Royce’s design department in its creation, over a period of around four years. The car, powered by the Phantom VII’s 6.75-litre V12 engine, features several unique design features, including a system that deploys a bottle of champagne at the touch of a button.

Rolls-Royce Phantom: bidding farewell to a luxury legend

The exterior styling has been crafted with design cues to both vintage Rolls-Royce machines and luxury yachts. The Sweptail name refers to the swept-tail design of 1930s Rolls-Royce motors.

While Sweptail is a one-off design, it harks back to Rollys-Royce’s ‘coachbuild’ past – when it made bespoke luxury cars off a base platform – and could be followed by more unique creations.

Torsten Müller-Otvös, the CEO of Rolls-Royce, said: “Sweptail is proof that Rolls-Royce is at the pinnacle of coachbuilding. We are listening carefully to our most special customers and assessing their interest in investing in similar, completely exclusive coachbuilt masterpieces.

“At the same time we are looking into the resources which will allow us to offer this unique service to these discerning patrons of luxury.”

How Rolls-Royce Sweptail was designed

Rolls-Royce was approached by one of its regular customers, described as a “connoisseur and collector of distinctive one-off items including super-yachts and private aircraft”, in 2013 about building a one-off luxury car.

That customer worked directly with the firm’s design department, which is led by Giles Taylor, the brand’s director of design.

“Sweptail is the automotive equivalent of Haute Couture,” said Taylor. “It is a Rolls-Royce designed and hand-tailored to fit a specific customer.”

The price of Sweptail was not disclosed (perhaps predictably).

Three things that only Rolls-Royce owners do

Rolls-Royce Sweptail exterior design

The front of Sweptail features the traditional Rolls-Royce front grille, although it is the largest version ever constructed. The grille is milled from solid aluminium and polished by hand to a mirror finish.

The rear of the car is tapered with a raked stern, a design nod intended to evoke racing yachts. The rear brake light is housed in a ‘bullet-tip’.

At the side, the bodywork has been designed to wrap under the car with no visible boundary, which is designed to mimic the hull of a yacht.

The most notable exterior feature is the large panoramic glass roof, which Rolls-Royce says is one of the largest and most complex ever produced for a car.

Inside the Rolls-Royce Sweptail

The interior is Sweptail was designed to be clean and minimalist. The customer chose a two-seater, according to Rolls-Royce, to exude “the romance of travel for its own sake”, and place the car “in the grand pantheon of the world’s great intercontinental tourers.”

Rolls-Royce has kept controls to a minimum on the dashboard, with only control on the dashboard. The clock is embedded into the fascia, with the hour marks for that, along with the faces, numbers and hands on the instrument dials, machined from titanium.

Much of the interior trim is crafted from Macassar Ebony and Paldao wood, with Moccassin and Dark Spice leather trim on the seats, armrests and dashboard top.

In place of the rear seats is a vast expanse of wood that has been crafted into a mid-shelf with an illuminated glass lip. There is also a hat shelf, which sits under the rear opening backlight.

Hidden features of the Rolls-Royce Sweptail

Not all of the custom design touches of Sweptail are visible.

Concealed on either side of the car are two identical panniers, which house bespoke-made attaché leather-wrapped carbon-fibre cases (sized to exactly house the owner’s laptop).

Those cases match a luggage set produced by Rolls-Royce Bespoke, which fits in the car’s wood-clad trunk.

Perhaps the most outlandish feature of Sweptail is concealed in the centre console: a mechanism that reveals a bottle of champagne along with two crystal flutes. The sytem is designed to deploy the bottle – which is the client’s favourite vintage, the year of his birth – to the “perfect position” for him to pick up.

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Source: Autocar Online

McLaren P1 LM smashes Nurburgring production car lap record

McLaren P1 LM

Hampshire-based specialist Lanzante has converted the track-specific 986bhp McLaren to road-going spec

The McLaren P1 LM, a road-legal version of the track-focused 986bhp P1 GTR, has set a new lap record for production cars at the Nürburgring.

Lanzante, the car’s maker that is renowned for its work on customer McLaren F1s and F1 GTRs, clocked a 6min 43sec laptime at the Green Hell with its machine, which is 9sec quicker than the latest record holder, the Lamborghini Huracán Performante.

To emphasise its road worthiness, Lanzante said the car then drove off of the circuit and home to the UK.

The fastest even Nürburgring lap times

The P1 LM is claimed to be the quickest, rarest and last of the P1 variants. Just five production models are being made.

Video: McLaren P1 LM smashes Goodwood road car record

Lanzante says the biggest change from the P1 GTR is in the engine hardware, which now produces additional boost and hybrid power to keep the full 986bhp from the P1 GTR. It also gets gold-plated heat shielding in the engine bay, and the charge coolers have been tweaked to be more efficient at higher temperatures.

The P1 LM is 60kg lighter than the P1 GTR thanks to a number of weight-saving measures. The exhaust headers and catalytic convertor pipes are made from Inconel, saving 4.5kg, and race parts like the air jack system have been removed and lightweight seats from the F1 GTR are used.

Other alterations include fully exposed carbonfibre for the roof and additional panels, as well as improved aerodynamics from a modified rear wing, a front splitter and dive planes that, Lanzante claims, increase downforce over the P1 GTR by 40%.

Inside, the car gets exposed carbonfibre for the dashboard, instrument cowl, seat backs, roof, centre console and even floor mats. Air-con comes as standard.

Just one grey experimental prototype has been produced so far. In total, four production models will be orange and one will be grey.

McLaren test driver Kenny Bräck drove the car up the hill this weekend. He will also drive it around the Nürburgring to tweak the final set-up of the production versions.

Lanzante decided to undertake the conversion work following demand from customers who have bought the track-only version of the P1 GTR from the factory.

More than 40 £1.98 million P1 GTRs were sold, with the cars being offered to existing P1 road car owners only. The track car has a kerb weight of 1440kg, giving it around 685bhp per tonne.

Neither the McLaren factory nor its MSO division has been directly involved but McLaren is believed to have given the project its blessing. “I wouldn’t do anything to damage our relationship with McLaren, which we’ve built up over 20 years through our work on the F1,” said Lanzante boss Dean Lanzante.

Source: Autocar Online

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