Kia Stonic 1.0 T-GDI 2 2017 UK review

Kia Stonic

Handsome entrant into the bulging small crossover market has a strong engine and agile handling, but isn’t as comfortable or complete as rivals

The Kia Stonic is a supermini-sized crossover here for the general delectation of a European car-buying public currently preoccupied with both compact SUVs and downsizing – and therefore arguably doubly ready to embrace it.Perhaps we should call it another supermini-sized crossover. This segment is expected to double in size from its 2016 level by 2020, and that’s why we’re seeing all-new models from Hyundai, Citroën, Seat and MG pile into it all of a sudden in addition to Kia. All of them are offering cars alongside the likes of the Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008, Nissan Juke, Mazda CX-3, Vauxhall Crossland X and Fiat 500X that are already on sale. The water in the shallow end of the junior soft-roader market’s swimming pool is evidently rather lovely at present. You wonder, frankly, how many more paddlers it can take.Sharing its platform with Kia’s Rio supermini, the Stonic has the same wheelbase as the Rio but it’s slightly wider and longer in the rear overhang, as well as having a slightly “jacked-up” ride height and an even higher-rising roofline. Still, the most meaningful differences between this car and a typical supermini are quite slight: 42mm on ground clearance and 70mm on overall height. A Dacia Sandero Stepway enjoys almost the same advantage over a regular Sandero in terms of ride height, while a bog-standard, dead-ordinary Nissan Pulsar family five-door is precisely as tall overall.Since there’s no option of four-wheel drive in the Stonic either and no engine more powerful than the 118bhp 1.0-litre turbo three-pot of our test car, this is a car that plainly wears its SUV garb quite loosely. But that’s increasingly common in cars of this class. Customers shopping for a ‘B-segment SUV’, we are told, aren’t necessarily after ruggedness or capability, but are looking instead for a ‘right-sized’ hatchback – having ruled out a Golf-sized conventional five-door as more car than they need. They want the convenience of a fairly high driver seat, and the improved visibility that grants, as well as a good-sized boot – in a package that’s still lighter and more economical than the average family hatchback. They also like the alternative design appeal of the modern crossover; or at least, they like the idea of not owning another ordinary five-door family hatchback exactly like their last car.

Source: Autocar Online

Volkswagen to make motorsport return with electric prototype

Volkswagen to make motorsport return with electric prototype

German brand will reveal a car with a large fixed rear wing, as shown by two preview pictures

Volkswagen is gearing up for a return to motorsport with a prototype competition car, as shown by two preview images released onto social media.

The German brand has shown the car’s dome-like roofline and large, fixed rear wing, suggesting it will be a bespoke racing machine rather than being based on a road model.

There are no intakes or grilles visible, hinting that the car could be electrically powered. This would certainly align with the Volkswagen Group’s latest motorsport movements, in which it has ramped up its investment in electric technology.

Alongside its push for electric in its road car division, group brands Audi and Porsche have both ceased their investment in the World Endurance Championship (WEC). The former upped its concentration on Formula E with a factory outfit this year, while the latter is due to enter the electric series from 2019.

Volkswagen departed the World Rally Championship (WRC) at the end of last year, leaving its motorsport arm without an entry in top-level motorsport.

Volkswagen’s increasingly electric focus comes after the brand’s image was left in tatters following the Dieselgate emissions cheating scandal. The brand has since shifted its resources to green technologies, with its ID hatchback, scheduled for launch in 2020, to be its first purpose-built electric model.

Source: Autocar Online

BTCC to host special 60-mile race at Snetterton in 2018

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will celebrate its 60th anniversary with extended double-points event at Norfolk track

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) will mark its 60th anniversary with a special double-length race at Snetterton next summer.

The third race at the Norfolk circuit on Sunday 29 July will be an extended 60-mile contest, with all cars competing without any success ballast and with double championship points on offer.

There will be a separate qualifying session on Saturday 28 July for this showpiece race, with all cars qualifying at their base weights. Qualifying for the other two races will take place separately, with success ballast applied to frontrunning competitors as normal.

The BTCC traditionally uses Snetterton’s 2.9689-mile ‘300’ circuit layout, so a 60-mile event would comprise approximately 20 laps, in contrast to the 12-lap contests that were scheduled at this year’s visit to the track.

The 2018 season will still comprise 30 races across ten weekends, with all other races following the regular format, as per recent seasons.

Snetterton – also well known for the BTCC night race in the 1990s and 2000s – has long been a staple of the summer calendar for race fans.

Alan Gow, BTCC Series Director, said: “We are delighted to confirm this special extended race as part of the BTCC’s diamond jubilee celebrations. There will also be a number of additional activitiesthroughout 2018 to celebrate our 60th anniversary, to be revealed over the next few months.

“We believe this 60-mile race, roughly double the distance of a normal BTCC encounter, will add a further sporting twist to what will be a fantastic and memorable season. I am sure our loyal teams, drivers, venues, officials, sponsors, partners, marshals and of course fans will share in this excitement, making the Snetterton race weekend an unmissable event in 2018.”

The BTCC – originally known as the British Saloon Car Championship – began in 1958. The inaugural title was won by Jack Sears in an Austin A105.

Snetterton, a former RAF airfield, was visited by BSCC competitors in the first season, albeit for a non-championship event held on a different circuit layout.


Source: Autocar Online

Hyundai Kona 1.0 T-GDi Premium SE 2017 review

Hyundai Kona

Hyundai’s funky-looking Kona crossover with a peppy three-cylinder engine makes all the right noises for the car to be a success in a crowded segment

Hyundai’s compact crossover – which has been a significant absentee from the brand’s range – will now provide a direct alternative to the Vauxhall Mokka X, Renault Captur, Nissan Juke and plenty of other rivals in this fast-populating segment, not least the Stonic from sister brand Kia.It rides on all-new platform architecture – unlike the Rio-based Stonic, curiously – provisioned for a full-time four-wheel-drive option and the underfloor space to accommodate a sizeable battery pack for an electric version. That motive force arrives next year, along with two brand new diesel units of 116bhp and 134bhp. The engine line-up for now runs to a 118bhp 1.0 turbo triple and a four-cylinder 175bhp 1.6 turbo, both petrol.The 1.0 litre will account for the bulk of UK sales and comes with a six-speed manual gearbox driving the front wheels. The 1.6 is limited to the higher trim levels and can be ordered with on-demand four-wheel drive, complete with differential lock and electronic hill-descent control; the 4×4 version comes with a seven-speed dual clutch automatic. This all-wheel-drive Kona also has a multi-link rear axle, the 1.0’s rear end suspended by a coil-sprung torsion-beam axle.Electronics and connectivity feature heavily on the Kona menu. There are 5.0in, 7.0in and 8.0in infotainment displays according to trim level, the base option including Bluetooth. The larger touchscreens provide a reversing camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while the 8in one has navigation and seven years’ free subscription to real-time traffic, weather and speed camera location updates.Other features include head-up display and LED headlight options, a Krell sound system, an inductive charge phone pad and two levels of electronic safety systems that include forward collision assist with pedestrian protection, lane-keeping assist, blindspot monitoring, rear cross-traffic assist and so on.More immediately obvious than these features is a colour palette far brighter than Hyundai’s usual offering, these shades set off by a contrast colour roof. Inside, the upholstery stitching and various decor elements complement the exterior hue, with this theme optionally – and a little startlingly – extending to the seatbelts.

Source: Autocar Online

Gran Turismo Sport’s high-end bonuses: HDR is incredible, but VR is not

Enlarge / Rest assured, the headlights and fireworks in this image look dramatically different on an HDR-rated display (which we can’t recreate via standard web browsers). (credit: Sony)

As Ars’s resident car guru Jonathan Gitlin tears through the racing nuts and bolts of this week’s new racing video game, Gran Turismo Sport, he has asked me to kill time by reviewing its higher-end elements. Namely, Jon owns neither a PlayStation VR headset nor a 4K HDR display, and both of those are specifically and uniquely supported by the latest Gran Turismo game (and first in the series for the PlayStation 4 Pro).

Basically, he wants to feel better about not buying either of those ridiculous gadgets. I have good news and bad news for him.

4K/HDR performance: A well-oiled machine

Let’s start with the high-end TV stuff. This applies specifically to TVs rated for both 4K resolution (a 3840×+2160 pixel count) and HDR-10 color gamut, and you’ll need a PlayStation 4 Pro to capitalize on the combination. All PlayStation 4 consoles are capable of pushing HDR-10 color, but its effects are far more dramatic with a higher pixel count, and you’ll need a PS4 Pro for that.

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Source: Ars Technica

McLaren P15 confirmed as the brand's most extreme supercar yet

The P15 should weigh 250kg less than the P1

Stripped-out, lightweight, track-focused Ultimate Series model due next summer

McLaren has confirmed that it will launch its most extreme, track-focused road car yet next year.

Referred to internally as the P15, the forthcoming Ultimate Series model, scooped by Autocar earlier this year, is being developed with a hard focus on track driving – so much so that the Woking-based manufacturer admits that it will sacrifice daily usability in order to maximise performance. 

McLaren hyper-GT three-seat development mule

The two-seater is due to make its public debut at the Geneva motor show in March, sporting what McLaren calls a “brutal” design representing the “purest expression” of its form-follows-function styling. 

Autocar understands the 675LT development car that has been spotted testing at the Nürburgring in recent weeks is a mule for the P15, offering insight into the advanced aerodynamic layout of the final production car.

The mule’s bodywork features large intakes on the nose that are designed to channel air out of openings on the bonnet and direct it around the car’s windscreen. Such a system will be employed by the P15, meaning it ditches a front boot in favour of aerodynamic efficiency. The mule also wears a large rear wing, held in place by two centrally mounted swan neck arms. A source revealed that the mounting arms will be fixed so the wing can’t fold away into the rear deck, but it was suggested that the wing itself could rotate in a similar way to the drag reduction system fitted to Formula 1 cars. 

It is understood that the P15 will forgo a hybrid drivetrain, as used by the P1, for a lighter, combustion engine-only set- up. The engine will be based on the M840T turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 used by the 720S but will feature upgraded internals and a bespoke turbocharger set-up to boost power far beyond the 710bhp offered by the 720S Super Series model. A mooted figure of around 789bhp would give the P15’s V8 a 62bhp advantage over the 3.8-litre combustion engine featured in the hybrid P1’s drivetrain. 

The P15 will be built around McLaren’s Monocage II one-piece carbonfibre tub and is set to be the company’s most pared-back road model to date. It will have a race-inspired interior with seats adapted from motorsport and little in the way of passenger comforts. The P15 is expected to weigh less than 1300kg – considerably lighter than the 1547kg P1 and enough to ensure that its power-to-weight ratio will eclipse that model’s figure of 647bhp per tonne. 

McLaren is expected to produce 500 examples of the P15, each of which has already been allocated for a price of around £840,000 in the UK. 

Customers will be invited to a private showing of the car before the end of this year. The name will also be confirmed in 2017. First deliveries are due in the summer of next year, close to when the next Ultimate Series model, the three-seater codenamed BP23, is due to be revealed.

Related content: 

McLaren P1 review

McLaren 720S review 

McLaren hyper-GT three-seat development mule

Source: Autocar Online

Life with a 1974 Lancia Fulvia 3 1.3S: driving this classic back from Italy

1974 Lancia Fulvia 3 1.3S

We travel to Naples to buy a pale blue classic Italian coupé and then drive it from the Netherlands to home in Edinburgh

I’d been pining after a classic, underpowered Italian coupé for some time.

But prices for decent UK cars were steadily rising out of reach, so I looked towards the Continent for more choice and better value, both being more important to me than right-hand drive. Yet even across the sea, prices for good Lancia Beta Volumexes (yes, some do exist), Alfa Romeo 105/115-series coupés and even tidy Alfa Romeo Alfasud Sprints were becoming unreasonable. But then an extremely handsome, pale blue Lancia Fulvia Coupé appeared in the classifieds, listed for sale not far from Naples. It was pictured glowing in the bright South Italian sunlight, framed by green grass and mountains – an exotic scene guaranteed to hypnotise a northern European enduring another watery September.

This model was a 1974 3 1.3S – so one of the later cars – and priced a little over budget, but still very reasonably for what looked like a smart example. I’d always fancied a Fulvia Coupé for its looks, engineering, interesting V4 engine and racing pedigree (it was rallying’s final front-wheel-drive world-beater), but had assumed good ones were too rare and too expensive. Desperate to be proved wrong, I made contact with the seller, a young-ish man named Cesare, via an Italian-speaking friend. Cesare didn’t speak English, and my single term of Italian at university didn’t cover the ins and outs of buying a second-hand car, so we proceeded by text message in Italian with Google Translate doing the heavy lifting.

Cesare sent snaps of documents old and new, including certification by Automotoclub Storico Italiano, the arbiter of classic car provenance in Italy. With some questions answered and a video tour of the car, a price was agreed subject to the Fulvia being as described and me taking a test drive. A few days later, I was on a plane.

I once travelled on a rattling Cross Country train to buy a filthy Ford Puma from what might once have been a slaughterhouse, just outside Blackburn. This trip wasn’t like that. A patchy flight schedule between home in Edinburgh and Naples left a couple of spare days before seeing the car, but the Amalfi Coast makes for an agreeable waiting room. Sights were seen, pizza and seafood eaten and la dolce vita generally lived. If the beauty and style of the locals hadn’t made me feel like a gammy crow crashing a fancy pigeon parade, I might just have stayed.

The big day dawned – or at least tried to, as a Biblical thunderstorm descended first thing and stayed all day. This wasn’t the near-invisible British rain that stealthily saturates you over several minutes, but the huge, grape-like Mediterranean rain that instantly soaks and then leaves you warm but mildly concussed.

We pressed inland regardless, driving about an hour east of Salerno. The rain kept coming, and so did the red flags. Cesare had already specified that he would accept cash only, and now rather than giving us an address, he wanted to meet on a motorway sliproad from where we’d drive in convoy to meet the Fulvia. With little choice, we agreed. Soon, an old green Volkswagen Bora waiting by the Autostrada pulled out and led us up hills and along lanes until we reached a secluded farmhouse.

We needn’t have worried – Cesare greeted us warmly, as did his father and an Italian-American relative of theirs, Gerry, who had been drafted in for translation duties. Gerry was a Chicagoan with a vintage accent and a sturdy yet cheery disposition that could have seen him deposited here as the Allies swept north in 1944.

The Fulvia was there, gleaming in the open garage between a Ferrari 208 GT4 and a Fiat Nuova 500 L, while a well-used Fiat Panda 4×4 Sisley and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Nuova Super project car sat across the courtyard. Evidently, these people were kindred spirits.

The Lancia’s Agnano Blue paintwork had been replenished 12 years earlier and was holding up very well, while the cream leather upholstery was tidy in the front and pristine in the back. The hazy instrument glasses would be easy enough to replace, while the wood-effect dashboard and some headliner tidying would be more involved. All common enough issues in old Fulvias, though, and none serious.

We scoured the bodywork for rust or repairs – outside, inside and underneath – and found no trace of either. The repaint had been exacting, while the underseal was ancient but seemed to have done its job. Despite the continuing downpour, a test drive threw up no surprises, either, so with smiles all-round, hands were shaken. The formalities could wait, though: we were ushered inside, where Cesare’s mum had laid on food, espresso and home-made limoncello, and we ate, drank and talked cars some more. It was an occasion more than a transaction – if only all used car purchases were so.

Quite sensibly, transfers of car ownership in Italy take place at privately run local agencies for the equivalent of the DVLA. Various fees were charged in the process, prompting Gerry to momentarily channel Jackie Mason: “They tax everything over here, you know – hey, you wanna make love, they tax you!” Perhaps an explanation at last for Italy’s enormous tax gap.

The agent counted my cash before passing it on, a receipt was issued and new ownership documents raised. Cesare’s sister nipped in to say goodbye to the car and his father made me promise to look after it. That much I could do.

The original plan had been to drive the Fulvia home, but time constraints and logistical hurdles had made that untenable. As luck would have it, a large car-transportation company was located nearby, and we agreed a price to move the car to IJmuiden port near Amsterdam, where I would collect it in a few weeks. We left the Fulvia’s keys with the transporters, Gerry said his farewells then confidently strode off and got into the wrong car, and after a couple of sodden snaps with me next to the Lancia, Cesare gave it a final, loving tap and all was done.

After what felt like three weeks’ worth of Christmas Eves, the transporter driver called to say he’d be delivering the car the following day. Following a last-minute flight from Glasgow to Amsterdam (the novelty of booking a one-way ticket endures as one of the great joys of buying a used car), I found myself in the surprisingly plush Hotel Augusta in IJmuiden, yards from the DFDS ferry terminal for Newcastle. The transporter eventually arrived at 2am, and in the thick, dark haar, my little Fulvia was unloaded and parked up under the hotel’s glowing canopy. It was all very surreal – had Carlos the Jackal appeared from the shadows, he wouldn’t have seemed out of place.

The Newcastle ferry was fully booked for three days, but an early-morning call to DFDS blessedly turned up a last-minute cancellation on the 478-cabin Princess Seaways for that afternoon. I then spent a while with the hotel’s owners, who’d taken an interest in the Lancia and showed me their own eclectic collection of motors: a Nuova 500, Triumph TR4, Toyota FJ Cruiser, US-spec Volvo 244 GL saloon and an evocative, coachbuilt Beardmore taxi.

The Fulvia was running fine, but a temperamental lock left my passport stranded in the boot as the columns of cars slid past me and onto the ferry. There’s a knack, of course, as I inevitably discovered, but I’d have preferred that discovery to have been made more quickly and in less fraught circumstances.

The ferry was a revelation to me – a large, comfortable hotel in which you lay your head down in one country and wake up in another, and your car comes, too. Obvious, perhaps, but experiencing such as easy link between northern Britain and continental Europe has led to the plotting of future trips already.

The morning arrival in Newcastle brought sunshine and a chance, at last, to drive the Fulvia properly. First, to Tynemouth for breakfast by the sea, then inland, across the border at Carter Bar and a stop-off in my hometown of Hawick on the way to Edinburgh. It’s a great route in even the dreariest of cars, so I’d been looking forward to it.

The Fulvia behaved impeccably. I knew of the intense engineering in these cars and the mechanical quality that made them so expensive when new – the car duly delivered and I was hammering along the back roads in no time. The gearing is very short and you’re in fifth before you know it, but with 1298cc making just 90.7 metric horsepower at 6000rpm, I’ve no complaints about that. The 13deg V4 is loud and perhaps not running as sweetly as it should, but the timing and twin Solex carburettors will be seen to in due course. In the meantime, throttle response is still good and drivetrain vibration limited. The long-throw, dogleg gearbox is sweet and the all-round disc brakes almost shockingly effective for such an old car.

Once on the move, the unassisted steering is fingertip-light; you guide the Fulvia through corners with the same delicacy and restraint as you would a period Lotus Elan. Unsurprisingly, the 84lb ft being channelled to the front wheels doesn’t trouble steering purity, either. The 15in Melber alloys look great, but their tyres have some age-related cracks and their extra width means the arches rub during compressions with two aboard, so I might revert to the painted steel 14-inches that also came as part of the deal and put some new rubber on them. As far as I pushed the elderly tyres, though, cornering grip was good. And there’s a happy combination of body control and ride comfort on offer, despite the incongruously old-hat leaf springs and live rear axle – the car weighs just 970kg unladen, after all.

I dare say a chastised Renault Kangoo could be driven almost as quickly, but the rally-bred Fulvia was designed for these helter-skelter back roads and comes alive here. It’s willing where many modern cars would be either passive or reluctant, and its noise, controls and all-round mechanical transparency fully occupy your senses where others would isolate them.

I reached home in Edinburgh in fading light, and after a continent’s worth of grime was removed with a wash, the Fulvia was back to its elegant best before being put away. The likes of thee and me are lucky to find delight in cars, and I count myself even luckier to have found this one. I hope the ownership proves as much fun as the purchase.

Next up is a trip to former Fulvia rallyist and renowned Lancia-whisperer Neil Jeffrey at Car Craft in Broxburn to prepare the car for its first MOT and for a tutorial in tuning a single-head, narrow-angle V4.

More content:

Source: Autocar Online

LEVC TX London black cab now testing on capital's roads

LEVC TX London black cab now testing on capital's roads

90% of buyers expected to opt for £177 per week finance deal; range-extender black cab is capable of zero emissions running

The LEVC TX, a taxi capable of zero emissions and produced by the company formerly known as the London Taxi Company, is now being tested on the capital’s roads where final a validation of its setup will be made.

The model is already available for order, priced from £55,599. First deliveries are due before the end of the year.

LEVC, which is owned by Geely, the Chinese parent of Volvo, is also offering its latest model with a finance plan that charges drivers £177 per week over a five-year period. It says the outgoing TX4 model cost £167 per week over a four-year period.

LEVC claims that its new model will cost drivers about £50 per week in fuel, if they do an average of about 115 miles per working day, which is £100 less than the outgoing 2.7-litre diesel engine-powered TX4 could manage.

The new electric taxi arrives ahead of 2018 legislation from Transport for London (TfL) that dictates all new cabs must have a ‘zero-emission capable’ range of at least 30 miles. The car is powered by an advanced battery electric powertrain with a 1.3-litre petrol generator, a system that its maker calls eCity.

This range-extender technology gives the TX a range of more than 400 miles and it can run for more than 70 miles on electric power only. Although full technical specifications will be revealed at a later date, it can charge from empty to almost full in 20 minutes on a rapid charger, in two hours with a fast charger and in eight to 10 hours on a trickle charge.

LEVC will service the taxis for free during the first three years or 90,000 miles of their lives. It will also provide a full manufacturer warranty and free roadside assistance for the first three years or 120,000 miles.

LEVC commercial director Richard Gordon said: “I am delighted to announce such a competitive package for the new electric TX. Market leading in every way, this is a truly outstanding new vehicle that will revolutionise the taxi trade in London from an emissions perspective, for passenger comfort, experience and enjoyment, and importantly for the drivers.”

Exclusive: first ride in new London Black Cab up Goodwood hill

A disguised TX prototype ran at the recent Goodwood Festival of Speed, with the production car still undergoing testing, including exposure to extreme hot and cold weather in Arizona, US, and the Arctic Circle respectively. The official pictures revealed the lengths Geely’s design team has gone to to incorporate the iconic London black cab look, most notably from the FX4 and TX4.

“The biggest gulp moment of my career was being asked to redesign the Volvo sportswagon – it was like taking care of the Swedish crown jewels – but this job is right up there,” said Geely’s executive vice-president of design, Peter Horbury. “You know criticism will come on projects like that – and this is another one in the same vein.

“The starting point was to meet the requirements of such a vehicle – the turning circle, the powertrain, the driver’s space and then carrying capacity. In truth, what we were then left with was a square box. To get the shape, we then required to meet our aesthetic goals was always going to be a challenge, but we pulled and pushed the engineers and gradually we were able to create a car that is a modern interpretation of what has gone before. My take on retro design is that you shouldn’t repeat what has gone before but you can offer up nods that remind people of it. That’s what we’ve done.

“You also have to remember that this is a vehicle that will typically have a 15 to 20-year life. It doesn’t get replaced after seven years like a conventional car, so we had to avoid creating something that would age quickly. If you look at some of the extreme car designs today, ones that grab and shock you, they don’t tend to age well. We wanted a look that will stand the test of time and, if that has meant toning it down at times, then that’s what we’ve done. This car must look relevant 20 years down the line.”

The TX is made using aluminium bonding, which LEVC says reduces the weight of the car to the point that it offsets the weight of the battery while maintaining vehicle strength. No overall vehicle weight has been given, however.

Inside, LEVC says that the TX has a more premium feel than its predecessor, with less vibration and noise in the passenger area, plus charging points for mobile phones and wi-fi. There is seating for six passengers. A retractable integrated ramp also makes access for passengers in wheelchairs quicker and easier in a new forward-facing position.

LEVC CEO Chris Gubbey said: “From our heritage as the manufacturer of the iconic London taxi, we have unparalleled insight into the needs of commercial operators. Drawing on the best of British design and engineering, as well as technical expertise from our sister company Volvo, our products will help transform city living and provide taxi drivers with an average weekly fuel saving of £100 compared with our outgoing diesel model.”

The rebranding of the firm from the London Taxi Company to the London Electric Vehicle Company is motivated by the firm’s desire to expand its sales beyond the UK and its portfolio beyond taxis. To that end, an order for more than 250 TXs has been taken for the Netherlands and an electric light commercial vehicle is already in development.

By the end of 2020, TfL wants to have 9000 taxis on the city’s streets that are capable of zero emissions. By law, all new taxis sold from 2018 onwards must have the means of electrical propulsion and LEVC is hoping that this will encourage local councils to invest in improved charging infrastructure.

LEVC says it has focused on weekly lease costs rather than an outright purchase price because that is how 94% of taxi drivers fund their vehicles. The TX will be sold with its battery so that no additional lease charges are incurred. Insiders expect ownership costs to be an improvement on today’s, buoyed by what LEVC says will be an average saving of £100 a week on fuel.

New LEVC TX taxi – key design points with David Ancona, Design director and general manager at Geely Design Barcelona

“I actually learnt to drive in an FX3 taxi – it was in the family – so a little bit of this project is in my blood. We started on the project in 2013 and the biggest challenges were to meet all of the requirements – from interior space to packaging the powertrain to the turning circle – without ending up with a box on wheels.

“By pushing the engineers for a few millimetres here and there, we managed to achieve that; it is amazing how pulling in some bodywork 5mm and pushing some other sections out by the same amount can make such a difference.

“Externally, the face of the car was probably the hardest part. Partly, that was because it is an all-new vehicle and the requirements kept changing as other parts of the project developed. You’d settle on a bonnet angle, for instance, and then the engineers would find a very good reason to repackage the powertrain.

“But we also wanted to ensure we had a contemporary look to the car – one with plenty of character but which wouldn’t date quickly. It’s relatively easy to do aggressive or cute or whatever, but getting the balance right here was very tricky. You’ll see the nods to our past in the round lights, the grille design and the placement of the badging, but nothing too much. The goal was to create a car that conveys it is serious, reliable and friendly. No doubt the world will let us know if we’ve done that.

“There are some key features that helped resolve the design. The round headlights at the front, with the circular LEDs running around the exterior that also act as the indicator flasher, are a nice touch. There are very strong horizontal lines down the side to reduce the visual height of the vehicle and then the continuous glass structure which serves to stretch the car out. The panoramic roof is a very nice touch as well – what a great way to take in the views.

“Just as important were the practicality aspects of the design. The rear-hinged rear door, for instance, puts an end to that ridiculous dance you had to do from telling the driver where you wanted to go to getting in – or when you tried to pay when you got out. They open 90deg, of course, which is a huge practicality benefit, and the onboard ramp aids access.

“Nor is it just about the passengers – although creating space for six of them was challenging enough when we knew we couldn’t widen the vehicle width with mirrors. We’ve spent a lot of time making more room and a better space for the driver. It’s their office, and for long amounts of time, so that was just as important.”

Source: Autocar Online

Toyota reveals hydrogen-powered Mercedes S-Class rival

Toyota Fine-Comfort Ride shows how a zero-emissions luxury car of the future could look

Toyota Fine-Comfort Ride shows how a zero-emissions luxury car of the future could look

Toyota Fine-Comfort Ride shows how a zero-emissions luxury car of the future could look

A new six-seater hydrogen-powered Toyota concept will be revealed at the Tokyo motor show.

Called the Toyota Fine-Comfort Ride, it is said to propose “a new form of the premium saloon in a low-carbon society”.

To that end, it’s wheelbase is 30cm longer than that of a Mercedes S-Class, despite the fact that its overall length is around 40cm shorter. 

This is possible, Toyota says, because of the cars hydrogen fuel cell powertrain, which has allowed it to push the cabin dimensions across the full length and width of the vehicle, with the wheels close to each corner,each containing an electric motor. At its widest, the car is around two metres in width – around 11cm more than the S-Class.

The Fine-Comfort Ride’s body is shaped to be aerodynamically efficient, and it runs with a unique cover along its underside to dampen any noise from the road or tyres. On the Japanese test cycle, the car is said by Toyota to be rated to a range of 620 miles (1000km) between refills.

Inside, as the car’s name suggests, the focus is on comfort. The seats can be adjusted according to posture – including a fully reclined sleeping position – the numerous digital displays and projection screens are built around occupants and the seat layout can be adjusted to aid conversation or create personal spaces. Notably, the rearmost seats are in a sofa-like bench configuration, while the front two rows are made up of individual seats.

As with current hydrogen powered vehicles, including the Toyota Mirai, Toyota says the Fine-Comfort Ride can be refuelled in around three minutes.

Source: Autocar Online

New Jaguar XK: design boss wants 2+2 GT to return

New four-seat sports GT would be based on the F-Type platform

Ian Callum wants Jaguar to develop a new model to sit alongside next-generation F-Type, and confirms design work has begun

Jaguar 2+2 GT is back on the cards, and would sit alongside the brand’s next-generation F-Type if it makes production. 

Jaguar design director Ian Callum told Autocar at Pebble Beach: “I want a two-seater [the F-Type] and a 2+2. We’re working on something now. There’s nothing approved, but we instigate in design – that’s what we do.” 

Discussing the idea further at the Frankfurt motor show last month, Callum said he believed Jaguar could add an XK-like model to its range and would “like to get back to both”. To that end, Callum has some “quite different ideas… as to how to carry four people quickly around the world” with their luggage, suggesting if the XK were reborn, it would be as a true four-seat sporting grand tourer. The XK was discontinued in 2014 due to flagging sales. “The XK being dropped was much to my frustration,” said Callum. 

If a new 2+2 gets the go-ahead, it would be built alongside the next-generation F-Type at Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich plant. The car would use an updated version of the F-Type platform (which itself is a modified version of the original XK platform) and adopt Jaguar’s Ingenium engines. These would include the entry-level four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol unit with 296bhp and the upcoming straight-six powertrains in various states of tune. The latter engines would replace the Ford-sourced V6s, as found in the current F-Type. 

The model, which would not be introduced until at least 2021, would get hot iterations including an R and the range- topping SVR. The F-Type SVR uses a 5.0-litre V8 with 572bhp that hits 0-62mph in 3.7sec, although the extra weight of a four-seater would increase this time slightly. 

Development of the second- generation F-Type, expected in 2019, is also under way, confirmed Callum. 

He described the sports car market as “a fickle one” and said: “On the whole, market share is dropping all the time. That’s why we keep to the high end with our sports cars.” 

When asked whether Jaguar would consider a partnership to make its sports cars more viable, in a similar way to BMW and Toyota with its respective Z4 and Supra models, Callum said: “I had a few ideas about partnerships but they didn’t happen. Partnerships are the answer, I think. But we will be doing our own thing with the F-Type.” 

Callum added that the F-Type is fundamental to Jaguar. “It’s the heart of the brand. I regularly have the conversation about how Jag needs a sports car. I mean, if it wasn’t making money – and it does, by the way – it’s what it’s doing for the brand that matters. It’s aspirational.” While Callum’s hopes for an XK replacement continue, Jaguar did in fact design a next-generation XK that would be on sale now – had the success of the F-Type in the eyes of the marketing department not killed it. 

Callum confirmed that having both an F-Type and an XK in the Jaguar range was “always the plan”. He added: “The F-Type was never meant to kill the XK.” 

However, with design work on the XK complete, and the F-Type launched in 2013, Callum said marketers at Jaguar believed the XK was no longer needed. The F-Type, they thought, filled the role of a sporting, performance Jaguar in the range and engineering work on the XK never commenced.

Related stories: 

Jaguar XK review 

Jaguar F-Type SVR review 

Jaguar F-Type V6 review 

Source: Autocar Online

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