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Special Report: The Mercedes-AMG G 63 Is The Ultimate All-Rounder

What do Britney Spears, Kylie Jenner, Sylvester Stallone, Bradley Cooper, Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and The Weeknd all have in common? Yes, they are all household names, but, they also all drive Mercedes-Benz G Wagons. The G was born back in 1979 and was an instant success. As I write this, Iran and the United States of Donald J Trump are locking horns and driving fuel prices through the roof. Thanks Iran, just what I needed to kick of my week with a G 63 AMG. In something of a coincidence, it was the Iranians that triggered the production of the G Class more than 40-years ago.

The Shah of Iran at the time suggested to the German manufacture that it would be interesting to see what a MB 4×4 would be like. Mercedes-Benz teamed up with Austrian military vehicle manufacturer, Steyr-Daimler-Puch, and started production of the “Geländewagen” (German for cross-country vehicle). This was not restricted to military use, but also civilian cruising.

The G Class was an instant hit, the price tag has always been as big as the boxy wheel arches and, as a result, the 4×4 has been an object of desire. The desire, price tag and power all grew to new levels in 1998 with the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz G 55 AMG, a V8 brute packing 358 horsepower. The foray into the AMG power for the G Class continued as the G 55 transitioned into the G 63. The on road handling continued to improve, but never to the detriment of the offroad capabilities. Every G Wagon model still has to pass the gruelling trail of conquering the Shöckl mountain in Austria.

As you would imagine, the G has been getting better with age, that being said, few generations have improved as much as the latest model that was updated in 2018. It won many awards including the GTspirit Car of The Year accolade. The engine is downsized to 4.0-litres but power and torque were significantly improved. Remarkably, the engineers were so confident in the improvements that they made to the chassis that they dropped a V8 closely related to that of the AMG GT R halo car into the 2.485 tonne brute. The power figure is identical, that’s right, 585 horsepower in a truck with a near vertical windscreen. Who said Germans don’t have a sense of humour?

I had a week to understand the G 63 in a plethora of different environments. I lived with it through the traffic plagued City of London and spent a weekend in the country to explore the AMG side of the G.

In the city the G looks monumental. London is a city that is home to exceptional wealth, G wagons, particularly 63s, are a common sight. That does not detract from how much presence they have. Against architecture, old and new, it looks imposing and modern, yet still harks back to Gs of old. Enough posing, what’s the G 63 AMG like to drive? Having driven every variant of the current model and almost all of the precious generation, I feel I am well placed to comment on just how vast the improvements are. It’s difficult to overstate just how much more dynamic and willing the latest offering is in comparison to its predecessors.

Having escaped the cities narrow streets and constricting speed limits at dawn, it was time to see what the G felt like when it could stretch its legs. Make no mistake, this is no Caterham or GT3 RS, the 63’s nose points to a sky under throttle like a cigarette racing boat with a sizeable bow wave. It leans in the corners, but the chassis can really handle the power. The steering is a revelation in comparison to the agricultural style system has been replaced by a modern, conventional rack and pinion and the difference could not be more significant. In conjunction with an independent suspension arrangement up front, there is a confidence that was absent in its predecessors that makes this an SUV that really can be driven enthusiastically. The trade-off is the suspension which is stiff, well engineered dampers take the edge off harsh bumps and holes, but it does not possess S Class rivalling levels of comfort.

In 63 guise, there is genuine speed mixed into the G Wagon recipe. The G 63 is a wonderful car, one that could be considered the ultimate all-rounder. I guarantee that any challengers will not be as iconic, capable in such a wide range of scenarios or cool to look at as the G 63. It is a living legend and one that laughs in the face of the endless new ‘SUVs’ that the markets are needlessly demanding. Don’t think about buying one, just do it.

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Liquid Carbon Ford GT Revealed with Full Exposed Carbon

Chicago – Following their invitation-only unveiling of the exposed carbon fiber GT supercar, Ford rolled it out onto the floor of the Chicago Auto Show to give everyone a better look. Still as stunning as it was when unveiled, the brighter spotlights highlighted the intricate carbon fiber weave and made it even better. The look, known as “Liquid Carbon”, is one of two new available decorative schemes, the other being an updated Gulf Racing Livery with the number “6” rather than the number “9” to acknowledge the other LeMans winning GT-40. The Liquid Silver exposed carbon fiber appearance will be limited to 12 cars per year as a result of the handbuilt effort that has to go into it, getting the weave to line up and match everywhere.

The 2020 GT features several engine improvements carried over from Ford’s GT Mk II program. New aerodynamics increase airflow through the intercoolers by 50%, allowing them to run much longer at peak power, and engine updates and modifications that broaden the torque curve, making it more responsive. These changes increase the horsepower level by 13hp to a total of 660hp.

Suspension changes increase body control during dynamic transitional changes when the car is in Dynamic mode.

The run of the updated GT’s will end in 2022.

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Bentley to Join 2020 GP Ice Race with Special Continental GT

Earlier this week, Bentley teased a photo of a modified Continental GT. The car sat on ice with multiple design additions and jacked suspension. Bentley has now released full details of its one-off Continental GT which has been prepared to compete at the famous GP Ice Race in Zell am See, Austria.

The special Bentley Continental GT will be piloted by Bentley’s first female racing driver, Catie Munnings. Bentley have a history on ice. The Continental GT set Ice Speed Records in 2007 and 2011. The Ice Race Continental GT hopes to emulate that success.

The livery reflects that of the Continental GT that broke the production car record at Pikes Peak in 2019. Underneath, the two cars are identical. They both share the 6.0 litre W12 engine with 635 hp and 900 Nm of torque. Both are capable of a 0-100 km/h time of 3.7 seconds (0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds) and a top speed of 333 km/h (207 mph).

Bentley have kept things pretty standard with a few choice upgrades. The Continental GT gets a rear roll cage, on-board fire suppression system, racing seats and harnesses. The Ice Race Continental GT also gets an increase to the nominal ride height to give greater ground clearance, arch extensions to accommodate a 15 mm increase in track width, studded Pirelli Scorpion Ice Zero2 tyres, a brace of Lazer high performance lights and a custom exhaust system from Akrapovic.

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CES Automobitive Highlights 2020

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020 is the first major show of the year for customer tech and a lot more. Since cars these days have more tech on board than your computer at home it is no surprise that more and more car manufacturers find their way to Las Vegas. We had a look at what the car manufacturers, suppliers and other tech companies had to offer in the automotive and picked our top highlights.

Sony wows the world with an electric car

The biggest news, by far, was that Sony had been working on autonomous car tech in relative secrecy. As you would expect, entertainment is firmly in the driving seat with this concept car. The Japanese behemoth isn’t expected to put the Vision S into production any time soon, but it is expected to offer its technology to the wider industry.

What Sony presented is a fully operational electric car, packed with technology. It is 5G-enabled and capable of over-the-air system updates. There are four main cameras around the outside of the vehicle – back, front and the two sides – all fitted with Sony’s high-end CMOS sensors and an in-car 360 Reality Audio system.

What’s most impressive though, is that a company with no history in the automotive segment (as a traditional manufacturer at least), can put together something so polished. The project is supported by automotive supplier Magna but even then we’re sure it had some of the traditional manufacturers scratching their heads.

Mercedes-Benz teases organic battery

Mercedes-Benz had a concept car to release this year. Tied with the upcoming Avatar 2 film, the Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR previews the future of autonomous driving. There is no steering wheel, much like James Cameron’s characters, Mercedes-Benz believes that the vehicle will blend with the driver, recognising the human driver’s heartbeat and breath.

It gets a 110-kilowatt-hour electric motor that can produce 469 hp and a range of roughly 435 miles. But it is not the powertrain which makes this concept very interesting but the battery tech: The batteries are presented as a graphene-based concept. The organic material was discovered in 2004 and is currently the strongest material known to man. While no commercially available battery exists at this point, research has found that graphine batteries charge 12 times faster than lithium-ion batteries and can be produced and recycled in a very environmentally friendly manner. Perhaps this is the future?

Hyundai presents their vision of mobility with Uber

Hyundai and Uber’s joint vision for the future of the automotive looks suspiciously like an aeroplane. Developed under the title Uber Air Taxis, this concept is called the Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) model, S-A1.

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It has a cruising speed of up to 180 mph (290 km/h) at altitudes of roughly 300 to 600 metres above the ground. Trips will be limited to 60 miles on 100% electric propulsion. Each ‘car’ will seat four passengers.

Amazon sets aims to invade the automotive industry with Alexa and Fire TV

Amazon extended its Alexa and Fire TV offerings in the automotive industry. It announced new partnerships with Rivian and Lamborghini to bring Alexa into their vehicles. They join Ford, Audi, BMW, GM, and Toyota who had already announced partnerships. Even if you don’t buy one of these vehicles, the Echo Auto device will soon be available to make your car Alexa-ready.

Alexa gets new auto-specific skills including the ability to pay for gas at Exxon stations through the voice assistant. BMW and Fiat Chrysler add Fire TV systems to their vehicles too with the ability to stream TV shows through an onboard LTE connection.

ZF presents Level 2+ and Level 4 autonomous driving tech

ZF Level 2+ and Level Autonomous

ZF Automotive also presented new technology. The German giant is a market leader in autonomous driving technology. It presented an update on progress with its Level 2+ systems for consumer vehicles and Level 4 systems for commercial vehicles. The level 3 system hurdle which transfers responsibility in certain autonomous driving modes from the driver to the manufacturer is proving a big step to tackle with regulators around the world withholding manufacturers permission to homologate their systems. Level 2+ is a temporary solution that offers customers the most of the available tech with the restriction that the driver remains responsible at all time.

Its releases for the Level 2+ market focused on its coASSIST system, an affordable system which is expected to enjoy demand from a range of manufacturers. For a price of around $1,000 it offers feet-free and hands-free operation, automated lane change and overtaking, automated garage parking and route learning.

In the meantime ZF among others offers Level 4 systems for applications on non-public roads and private grounds like airports, factories and harbors. The demand for these full autonomous systems is stronger than ever and it is just a matter of time until we will see the first autonomous cars on the road.

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600hp for the New Mercedes-AMG A45 S by Renntech

Renntech recently announced its tuning measures for the Mercedes-AMG A 45. The three stage package is currently available in an initial first stage, however, plans are afoot for a Stage 3 package in the near future which will boost power to 600 hp. In a hot hatch!

The Florida-based tuning firm is renowned for its tuning packages, exclusive to AMG models. It’s latest package is available for the latest A 45 4MATIC or A 45 S 4MATIC models. It’s the first tuning package for the current generation 45 model which has only recently began deliveries.

Renntech Mercedes-AMG A45

The first stage package is designed to improve the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with an increase in output to 475 hp and 575 Nm. The software tweaks should be available by mid-January with the final stages of testing underway. Customers at this stage can also opt for a modified diverter valve which adds the crackles AMG became known for, but which regulations have restricted in recent years.

Once Stage 1 is complete, Renntech has 550 hp and 600 hp options in the works, to follow in the course of the first quarter of 2020. These changes will involve modified turbocharger systems, a suitable exhaust system and an optional downpipe with sports catalytic converter. These options should become available in Spring.

Renntech Mercedes-AMG A45 Rear

Other modifications include a set of Renntech-designed 19 or 20 inch rims, manufactured by US specialists Vossen. A lowering module should also follow.

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Special Report: One Last Drive – Bullitt Mustang

The word ‘icon’ is banded about a lot in the auto industry. In my mind, there are a few categories that are defined by the cars which have been sold for generations. Think SUV and Defender or G Wagon will, more likely than not, be projected in your mind. Supermini? Mini. Hot Hatch? Golf GTi. This is quickly morphing to a scenario not too dissimilar to laying flat on a red sofa in a psychiatrists office and being probed for the first word a blot of ink conjures. One more: Muscle Car? Ford Mustang.

Unlike the other aforementioned icons, I have never driven a Mustang. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, it took 52 years for the Mustang to be sold in the UK, 2016 was a big year for the ‘Stang. Secondly, I didn’t fancy a Mustang for one of my fly-and-drive visits to the States as I feared losing my Mustang v plates to a 4-cylinder which, like my first time losing other v plates, would have been all to brief and underwhelming. I needed to wait for the right time, place and specification to captivate me enough to take the dive. The final drive of the year is always a special one for me. Most sane human beings would rather curl up next to the fire with their loved ones watching mushy Christmas movies than ever consider going for a drive for anything more than another bag of sprouts. I, on the other hand, can think of nothing worse that sitting on a sofa for days on end eating my weight in mince pies. Instead, I packed the, self made, mince pies into a plastic box and jumped into a car, one that I have been waiting decades to drive.

Why decades? Because of a movie titled ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ that I watched as a 6-year-old at the turn of the millennium. The movie itself was nothing to write home about. There were two stand out scenes – one featured Angelina Jolie (I’m sure you can imagine why) and the other, more relevantly, focused on a 1967 Shelby Mustang called Elanor. It was the hero car of the movie and one that captivated six and 60-year-olds alike, I guess the same can be said for Angelina.

Bear with me, I’m not rambling aimlessly, movie cars really do capture the hearts and minds of viewers. For me it was Gone in 60 Seconds, for the generation of movie goers in 1968, it was Bullitt, the hero car was a Mustang. Much like Gone in 60 Seconds, the movie itself was never destined to win Oscars, but, there were a couple of scenes that have been viewed millions of times on YouTube (add to the tally by watching below).

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Enough of the old, what’s the deal with the movie talk? Well, the Mustang I’m buckling into is a tribute to the Bullitt car you see above. The link is obvious – the wheels, Highland Green paint, distinct lack of pony badges and cue ball gear shifter have all be copied and pasted onto the 2019 Mustang. It is available with a Mustang ordered with the 5.0-litre V8 (no EcoBoost silliness here) with the manual box and not as a convertible – the good stuff then. This was the perfect opportunity to drive my first Mustang. Back to the mince pies, they were secured on the lap of my copilot, an equally deranged human that suggested we compliment the mince pies with a drive to feed a reindeer herd a few hours drive out of London.

The drive involved long flowing sections of well paved ‘highway’ where the V8 could sing, and twisty country roads where the chassis balance and gearbox could be put to the test. The Bullitt package is not just cosmetic. Adding to the appeal are a plethora of parts that you cannot configure on any other Mustang. Power is up to 453bhp, part due to the intake manifold from the GT350 which has the added benefit of making the Mustang sound like a V8 NASCAR. Furthermore, ticking the Bullitt box adds the Ford’s GT Performance Package which, apparently, improves chassis control significantly courtesy of suspension springs that have been lowered and stiffened by another few degrees, beefed-up anti-roll bars, recalibrated dampers and a Torsen limited-slip differential. Tasty. Magnetorheological adaptive dampers are fitted to the car I am driving and a noticeable difference can be felt through the modes.

How did it feel on the road to visiting Rudolph and co? Refreshing, if you’re a regular reader you’ll know I’m that guy raving about how sublime Porsches are and how the feel and feedback of a McLaren is so delightful. Jumping into a naturally aspirated, manually operated American muscle car is a far cry from the usual for me and it was an unforgettable experience. There is a raw, old school feel. There is immense character and a connection that comes with less sophisticated cars.

The Bullitt Mustang is one of the best examples of that. The traction control seems to be too busy to stop you from pulling massive angles out of every junction. The cold and salt paved streets at this time of year mean you can feel the chassis shuffling underneath you and there is so much confidence in its abilities. The gearbox is fabulous, the cue ball is gorgeous and the rev-matched downshift bring a smile to your face and the revs yelp. The digital dash is tremendous and there a host of layouts to pick from. The Recaros hug you tight and are immensely comfortable and are almost good enough to make up for the questionable build quality, poor plastics and terrible infotainment system. Then again, the Mustang is a unique offering and I am just pleased to be able to drive a manual V8 free of turbochargers – the infotainment could be running Windows ’95 and I would still be grinning from ear-to-ear. The noise from the exhaust is bewitching in race mode and eggs you on to chase the redline.

The car does feel massive on tight British country lanes but the car still feels reasonably nimble. Big open motorways are where it really can be set free. The engine isn’t the most responsive below 3,000, you need to wind it up and it really is explosive in the mid-range. The gearbox, though physically great to shift, needs to be handled with patience. The engine does not like to be rushed, this is not a Cayman GT4 that relishes a lightening quick shift.

The Bullitt Mustang really is a unique proposition and like nothing I have ever driven before. It brims with character and presents endless joy. You’ll want to find any excuse to drive it down your favourite road at any time of day. It is a very special car, one that will make you feel better than cars that cost two or three times the price. It feels even better than it looks.

P.S. Ford, please make an Elanor edition, I’ll be ready with my deposit.

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Bugatti Chiron Noire is Bugatti’s Monochrome Limited Edition

A 20-strong special edition has been announced by Bugatti. The Bugatti Chiron Noire pays tribute to “La Voiture Noire”, a special Type 57 SC Atlantic created by Jean Bugatti. One of four, it is the only Atlantic which remains missing, a car which belonged to Jean Bugatti and was used in the company’s brochure, display, and as a test car.

The Chiron Noire will be available in two versions. The “Chiron Noire Sportive” will add sporting flair which the “Chiron Noire Élégance” will focus on elegance.

Bugatti Chiron Noire Rear

The Élégance model gets black exposed carbon fibre bodywork. The Bugatti “Macaron” emblem sits at the centre of the grille, made of solid silver and refined with black enamel. The callipers are also finished in black with Caractère wheels. The signature line is milled from solid metal with a matt polished aluminium finish. Both the rear-view mirror and engine cover are also finished in black carbon and polished aluminium.

Inside, the theme is dark black. Only the “Inner Signature Line” is finished in silk-matt aluminium to break the shadows. The inscription “Noire” appears on the door sills and on the outside of the centre console while a model designation badge is applied to the centre armrest.

The Chiron Noire Sportive gets a matt finish to its carbon bodywork. The exterior trim elements, the C-shaped Bugatti signature line, the wheels, front spoiler and radiator grille are all matt black. The exhaust tips are black and the engine cover too. Inside, everything is black including the inner C-line, switches, push-buttons and rotary knobs on the dashboard, steering wheel, centre console and door handles.

The 20 Chiron Noire’s will be available for the Chiron Sport at an extra charge of 100,000 euros.

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$6.05 Million Pagani Zonda Aether Leads RM Sotheby’s Abu Dhabi Auction

For the second weekend in a row, the car market is talking about the sale of a bespoke Pagani Zonda. This week, RM Sotheby’s took care of this week’s headlines, securing a $6.05 million hammer price for a Pagani Zonda Aether. Jumping from $4 million to $5 million, and eventually to $6 million, it took further offers before the gavel fell at $6.05 million.

The Pagani Zonda Aether had been given an estimate of $4.5 million – $5.5 million ahead of the auction. As a reference, it had the Pagani Zonda Riviera‘s sale at $5.5 million last weekend.

The Aether is fitted with the full ‘760’-specification 7.3-litre V-12 engine which delivers a full 749 bhp. The Aether’s biggest draw is the fact it is one of few Zonda Roadster’s, it also features a six-speed manual transmission. Other special features include the Zonda HP Barchetta/Huayra BC–style seats, deletion of interior door handles, replaced by leather pull straps, a large starter button in the centre console, LED rev counter, extra oil gauges, and a gear selection read-out.

Elsewhere, it was a mixed bag of results, RM secured the sale of a McLaren P1 GTR for $2.05 million, a little below its pre-auction estimate. At the other end of the spectrum, a McLaren Senna GTR, one of the first to leave the factory, hit the stoppers at $1.15 million, failing to reach its reserve and falling short of its $1.4 million sticker price.

The Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F2002 car hit the second-highest price of the day. Hammering at $5.9 million, the proceeds of sale go to a charitable cause. It exceeded its lower estimate by $400,000.

The list of no-sales included a Maserati MC12 at $2.4 million, a Diablo GT at $640,000, a Diablo 6.0 at $475,000, a Ferrari F40 at $1.3 million and Lamborghini Concept S at $1.1 million.

A Koenigsegg Agera R fell dramatically short of its $2 million lower estimate, struggling to get to its $1.2 million hammer price. It sold with no reserve.

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Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Concorde Edition Revealed – 10 Cars Only

In its centenary year, British Airways is also celebrating the 50th anniversary of one of its most iconic airplanes, the Concorde! Aston Martin appears keen to celebrate the groundbreaking, supersonic airplane too, revealing the special edition Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Concorde yesterday, 50 years after Concorde first took to the air.

For those few who haven’t heard of Concorde before. It flew between 1976 and 2003 as the first commercial supersonic passenger plane. It was operated exclusively by British Airways and Air France. It was developed and manufactured as a joint venture between Sud Aviation (later Aérospatiale) and the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC). It’s success was due to the fact that it cut travel times roughly in half, due to the fact that it could travel at supersonic speeds.

For its homage, Aston Martin’s Q by Aston Martin division has created 10 special edition versions of the DBS. It joins the Aston Martin Wings Series, following on from the Vanquish S Red Arrows Edition; Vantage Blades Edition; and the V12 Vantage S Spitfire 80. The commission comes via Aston Martin Bristol.

On the outside, the unique touches include bespoke side strakes milled from solid aluminium; a bespoke livery comprising British Airways colours on the roof strake, aero blade and rear diffuser; black tinted carbon fibre roof with Concorde silhouette graphic; the famous British Airways ‘Speedmarque’ logo in chrome on the front wings; a Q by Aston Martin wing badge with black enamel infill; authentic jet black painted Civil Aviation Authority aircraft identifier numbers and bespoke inspection plaques signed by Aston Martin Lagonda President and Group CEO Andy Palmer and British Airways Chairman Álex Cruz.

The interior gets predominantly blue design features. It includes the Concorde logo on the front seat facings; a Mach Meter graphic embroidered on the driver’s side sun visor; a unique headliner featuring printed Alcantara displaying a ‘sonic boom’ graphic; paddle shifters made from titanium from Concorde compressor blades; floor mats in Terence Conran design pattern; seatbelt buckle badges milled from solid aluminium and bespoke sill plaques.

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Concorde Edition Interior

Aston Martin will handle the sale of the 50 unit production run. Parts of the proceeds from the sale of each individual car will be donated to the Air League Trust, a not-for-profit organisation that teaches under-privileged children how to fly, and offers support for them to work in engineering.

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Exclusive: V12 Will Return in Next Generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class in 2021

Good news for fans of the V12 engine. During an exclusive interview with GTspirit, today at the Guangzhou Auto Show 2019, Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius confirmed that the V12 engine will return in the next generation 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Doubts about the return of the V12 engine were raised when Mercedes-Benz released the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 earlier this week. 600 modes normally receive the iconic V12 power plant, yet the GLS features a V8 unit instead. It has now been confirmed that, in the S Class at least, the V12 will live on.

Official details for the V12 version of the Mercedes-Benz flagship limousine will be announced next year. It is likely that Mercedes-Benz will develop the current V12 engine, found in the S 600 and Mercedes-Maybach S 600, will be updated to comply with strict upcoming emission standards.

During our interview, we also spoke with We also spoke with Kallenius about the brand new Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 luxury SUV:

GTspirit: Exclusively available in China, the six-cylinder Mercedes-Maybach S 400 is the top selling Maybach model. Is there any chance we can expect a Maybach GLS with a six-cylinder any time soon?

Kallenius: “We launched the new Maybach GLS 600 with a V8 engine first but it is possible there will be a six-cylinder version of the GLS Maybach in due time. The AMG developed 4.0 liter V8 fits the GLS Maybach very well and was the obvious choice for launch of our first Maybach SUV.”

Asked about a possible Mercedes-Maybach GLS V12, the Daimler CEO is short and clear: “We have no plans for a Maybach GLS V12.”

Read more about the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600

Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600

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New Tesla Cybertruck Reinvents the Pickup Truck

At an event, away from the ongoing Los Angeles Auto Show 2019, Tesla unveiled its highly anticipated Cybertruck. The next stage in building a model range, the Cybertruck is Tesla’s most controversial design yet.

In true Silicon Valley style, Elon Musk took to the stage on Thursday to unveil his latest model. Things didn’t go entirely to plan though. During a part where Musk intended to demonstrate the “armour glass”, he invited Tesla’s head of design, Franz von Holzhausen, on stage to throw a metal ball at the side windows. The idea was that it would just bounce off, causing no damage. The Cybertruck is supposed to protect occupants against bullets and sledgehammers The armour wasn’t as strong as it perhaps should have been as the window cracked on impact.

Of course, the biggest story is the pickup truck itself. Tesla rips up the rule book, as you would expect. The design features lots of straight lines, seemingly inspired by Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works or the classic DeLorean than by any conventional pickup truck. It has proved controversial.

The exterior bodywork is milled from Ultra-Hard 30X Cold-Rolled stainless-steel using Tesla armour glass for the windows. This is said to make it extremely strong. The glass, which we suspect will be redesigned before the market launch, gets a polymer-layered composite skin for its strength.

The interior features 6 seats. 3 in the first row and 3 in the rear together with a 17 inch display. The passenger cell is separated from the rear bed. From the side, you wouldn’t guess that it was a pickup truck. The rear bed is hidden by a gently sloped rear panel. It’s 1.98 metre rear bed has a payload capacity of 1,580 kg and 2,830 litres of space.

Under the chassis sits Tesla’s battery system. In its highest specification, it should hit 60 mph in a blistering 2.9 seconds with 500 miles of range. Tesla will in fact offer the Cybertruck in three options. The single motor, rear wheel drive option will manage a 250 mile range with a 6.5 second 60 mph sprint. The dual motor, all wheel drive model cuts the sprint time to 4.5 seconds and increases range to 300 miles. It is the triple-Motor, all whee drive model that gets the blistering pace and huge range.

Tesla Cybertruck Interior

At all four corners, the Cybertruck uses air suspension. This allows Tesla to program some convenience features, including a program which drops the ride height for entry and exit.

The Cybertruck is available to order immediately with a $100 deposit. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2021 with tri-Motor versions to follow on 2022. A full self driving mode costs extra. Pricing of the range starts from $39,900 for the entry level, rising to $49,900 for the mid range and $69,900 for the top of the range model.

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Mini John Cooper Works GP Revealed in Los Angeles

A new range-topping, special edition Mini has been released at the Los Angeles Auto Show 2019, the Mini John Cooper Works GP. The GP has been teased for a long time with teaser runs up the Goodwood hill climb earlier this year and plenty of leaks.

The Mini John Cooper Works GP is the most extreme production Mini to date. It is set to give bigger hot hatches a run for their money!

Design

The Mini Cooper receives a variety of modifications to its design. The most noticeable is the wheel arch trim. Made from carbon fibre-reinforced plastic, it is the first time BMW has used this material. It is made using material recycled form he BMW i8 and BMW i3 production, making it highly efficient. It flares the wheel arch in a new and distinctive way.

Other changes include a new set of wheels and black painted trim pieces. At the rear is a massive rear spoiler, the biggest we’ve ever seen on a production Mini. The rear gets a redesigned rear diffuser and a smaller set of air outlets.

Powertrain

Under the bonnet sits a 2.0 litre, twin-turbocharged, 4-cylinder engine. Power is pushed up by 75 hp to 306 hp and 450 Nm of torque. It sits on a new engine mount with new tunnel bridges.

The power is achieved through a variety of changes. The turbocharger is also new. Fitted to the exhaust manifold, a divert-air valve helps it achieve better response times. The compression ratio is lower by 0.7, but the system has increased boost pressure. The intake air duct is all-new with enlarged inlet and flow cross-sections.

The injection system is revamped too. New multi-hole injectors are arranged centrally and push at increased flow rates with an injection pressure of up to 350 bar. The final modification is an all-new engine oil sump. The modifications to the engine mean that the Mini should be more responsive.

The reinforced crankshaft uses an enlarged main bearing diameter, specific pistons, bushless connecting rods and a torsional vibration damper with enhanced cooling.

The John Cooper GP Works hits 100 km/h in 5.2 seconds and a top speed of 265 km/h (with no limiter). Naturally, Mini have installed a new exhaust system with a fuller, more sonorous sound. The system is unique to the GP Works and with a straight pipe, large rear silencer and two 90 mm brushed aluminium stainless steel tailpipes.

Power is routed to the front wheels through an 8 speed Steptronic transmission as standard with an integrated differential lock. The mechanical differential distributes traction between the right and left wheels. It locks up to 31 per cent under load and the helps counteract any loss of traction.

Suspension

Changes have also been made to the suspension setup. The single-joint spring front suspension and rear multilink axle receive a completely new tune. The track width is wider and the body is lowered by 10 millimetres.

New swivel bearings are installed which increaser front wheel and rear wheel camber. Rigidity is enhanced through a stiffer rubber support bearings.

A special GP mode in the DSC settings allows increased stability intervention through the brakes to improve agility. Talking about brakes, those are completely new too. At the front, you have 4-piston units with a floating-calliper. At the rear, a single-piston, both made of aluminium. They are hidden by a set of 18 inch forged wheels.

Availability

The Mini John Cooper Works GP gets its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show 2019 this week.

It will be replicated 3,000 times with production set to get underway in March 2020. Pricing has been announced at 45,000 euros in Germany, £33,895 in the UK and $44,900 in the US.

Competition

Renault Megane R.S. Trophy R

The hot hatch market isn’t as buoyant as it has been in the past, yet the Mini Cooper GP Works has no shortage of competition.

The Renault Mégane RS Trophy is clearly Mini’s immediate benchmark. The British marque is keen to lap the Cooper GP Works around the Nurburgring faster than Renault’s 7 minutes 40.1 seconds earlier this year.

At this price tag, the Honda Civic Type R, Volkswagen Golf R and Ford Focus ST. Of course, all three are considerably larger than the dominative Mini Cooper.

Gallery

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Maserati Ends Production of the GranTurismo – Looks to the Future!

It is the end of an era at Maserati. The final Maserati GranTurismo has left the factory floor. The GranTurismo Zéda is a one-off, built to celebrate the extraordinarily long production run that the GranTurismo has enjoyed.

The GranTurismo Zéda is set for a world tour, promoting its replacement, due for a 2021 reveal. It has been designed by Centro Stile Maserati. The distinctive elements include the paintwork which moves from a satin finish to a burnished “metallurgic” effect, back to front. The colour begins at the front with Maserati’s traditional blue, blending towards the back into a light silver colour.

It’s difficult to believe that the GranTurismo has been around since 2007. It debuted at the Geneva International Motor Show 2007, a four-seat, two-door coupé, with Pininfarina design. It’s biggest draw was that 4.7 litre Ferrari V8 engine. It provides an epic soundtrack in every iteration.

The end of the GranTurismo’s production run also marks the beginning of renovations at Maserati’s Viale Ciro Menotti plant in Modena. The Italian company has announced that it will adapt the factory for a new generation electrification and autonomous driving.

The new GranTurismo and GranCabrio are set to be produced in Turin. As for the Modena factory, the press release confirms only that it will house a new “super sports model” slated for launch in 2020. Maserati’s press release promises a: “new era of electrification for the Maserati range of cars, constituting the first models to adopt 100% electric solutions in the history of the Brand.”

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Swaziland King Allegedly Purchases Rolls-Royce Fleet While Nation Deals with Widespread Poverty

Swaziland’s King, Mswati III, has been making headlines recently. Famed for his lavish spending, the African monarch is alleged to have purchased a new fleet of Rolls-Royce for the royal household. The fleet is alleged to extend to 15 Rolls-Royce Ghost and 1 Rolls-Royce Cullinan.

Alongside the Rolls-Royce shipments, King Mswati III has also taken delivery of no less than 79 brand new BMWs. The BMW shipment was said to extend to 12 trucks, loaded with the latest BMW X3 and BMW 540i.

Land-locked by South Africa and Mozambique, Swaziland has struggled historically with 39.7% of its 1.2 million population living below the poverty line. The country faces public health problems too, with 26% of the adult population HIV-positive and the 12th-lowest life expectancy in the world, at 58 years.

Of course, these problems are not instantly solved by reallocated the estimated $20 million value of the King’s new fleet. Yet there is no denying that the sheer volume of cars (which are alleged to be used by the King’s multiple wives) is an unnecessary drain on public resources.

It’s not clear whether King Mswati III’s new fleet was ordered direct from BMW and Rolls-Royce or whether it was ordered by an intermediary. When King Jong Un was pictured in a Mercedes-Maybach S600 recently, Mercedes-Benz was forced to confirm that the order had not been made directly with its dealership network.

King Mswati III joins names such as Teodorin Obiang Nguema and the Sultan of Brunei whose habit of spending public money on personal indulgences stands at odds with their countries domestic issues.

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Special Report: The McLaren 720S Spider is Britain’s Finest Export

Be warned, this tale features the B word, Brex*t. The title has been coined to address the colossal saga that is the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union and must be one of the most used words in international news in the past three years. There have been amendments, referendums, prorogations, high court rulings and even Queen’s Speeches. I shall not dwell, you’re not here for politics, but for automobiles.

Ever switch on the 10 o’clock news and see politicians being ferried from conference to conference in rather dull executive limousines? The best you can hope for is a Mercedes-Benz S Class, black on black, of course. This got me thinking, it was the night before the final European Union Summit that would be deliberating the latest iteration of the Brexit deal, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s first attempt. Tomorrow, news agencies from across the world would crowd and jostle outside Le Berlaymont to catch a word from the 27 EU leaders that would be reviewing the latest version of proposed deal.

What if BoJo didn’t arrive in a mundane, vanilla S Class or Jaguar XJ, but instead stunned the crowds by representing British business, an example of the very businesses that will be impacted so significantly by the outcome of this tumultuous series of events? I felt Boris needed a helping hand, I took matters into my own palms. The next morning I left home at 0630 on a mission to not only improve Boris’s image, but to showcase one of the finest exports that Britain produces. It is an example of why the UK is one of the worlds leading automotive manufacturing countries, and why trade deals with the UK should never be doubted, but encouraged.

The ambassador of choice was perfect. Bentley and Rolls-Royce are British brands, but are both now parts of Audi and BMW, respectively. Jaguar is Indian and Lotus Chinese. Caterham and Morgan are British, but neither are known internationally as representing the best of British, more cottage industry forerunners. There is only one brand suited to this endeavour – McLaren.

I recently was on the continent in a McLaren GT, a car that left me somewhat conflicted and confused. Having previously driven to Paris and back to London in a single day in a 720S, I was in no doubt that it doubled as both a track monster and a capable GT car. To reaffirm my thoughts, I had a 720S Spider for the ride to Brussels to see if the additional 49 kilograms for the roof mechanism would alter the driving characteristics and if the GT would make more sense for such a journey.

One thing that does not change, roof or no roof, is the fuel economy. It is abysmal, even when trundling towards the Channel Tunnel with the cruise control set to a smudge above the speed limit. Seeing anything above 23 miles per gallon was a rare treat. Boris’s refusal to take no deal off the table had sent the pound into a tizzy and fuel prices were through the roof, premium unleaded was emptying my wallet faster than the my ex girlfriend – just as thirsty too. Best not to worry about saving fuel and instead blow it to thy kingdom come with a smile on your face and bangs and cracks coming from the twin exhaust pipes.

A grey drive to Folkestone, quick Starbucks and a deep breathe in to squeeze onto the train later, it was time to cruise across the Continent. Well, part of it at least. It is always surprising how quickly the French autoroute gives way to terrible Belgian tarmac. With the active panel engaged and the handling and drivetrain toggles in comfort, the 720S cruises quietly and somewhat comfortably. The hydraulic suspension is fabulous and plaint. It is upset by bigger holes and cracks in the road, but it is a tradeoff worth making for the terrific handling through the bends on more engaging roads. One element that, still, cannot be faulted is the steering. It remains hydraulically assisted and a pleasure to work with.

The mighty torque is impressive too. The gearshifts are as great as you would expect from a McLaren dual clutch, but when touring you need not be pulling the left carbon paddle for downshifts as you can ride the torque in the upper gears. This is, of course, when the revs are above 2,500rpm, there is a world of lag below this threshold. As the kilometres trickled by, the weather worsened and the chances of experiencing the 720S Spider with the roof down diminished. A special mention, once again, to the awesome rear window that can be lowered or raised regardless of the roof being up or down. It is a great way to enjoy both fresh air and that hard edged engine tone, even when it is raining.

This car featured a clever and very expensive option, an electrochromic glass roof panel. This meant that the panoramic glass was able to go from fully clear to dark in a couple of seconds. It is cool and strangely satisfying to press the button and watch the glass ceiling change from ‘shade mode’ to ‘full sunlight’.

Other interior highlights included the luxurious Cognac leather in this ‘Luxury’ spec 720S. The 720Ss I had previously driven were all configured in ‘Performance’ trim meaning there was far more Alcantara and less leather to be found. The quality of the leather is great, as is the colour, my opinion of course. The infotainment is a generation behind the updated McLaren GT system, but I was not a huge fan of the update and the older system felt no less capable as it also lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems.

As Brussels neared, the rain relented and there was time to relish precious minutes with the roof down. Heated seats work brilliantly to negate wind chill and the car looks utterly spectacular in shop front reflections. Say what you like about the eye-socket headlamp design, few will argue that the 720S does not look like a missile from its side profile. The well behaved demeanour from the motorway cruise continues in the congestion of Brussels. The Start-Stop system decided to go on strike, other than that the 720S Spider was flawless around town. Visibility was good, the ride supple and the turning circle…acceptable. Things are a little scarier when squeezing through narrow gaps or high kerbed car parks, more a case of driver fear and being unfamiliar with the supercars dimensions.

As the infamous Berlaymont building neared, Theresa May had been collected, riding shotgun and Boris Johnson jumped in behind the wheel. The time had come to change the bumbling Prime Ministers image once and for all. Passers by gasped and laughed in equal measure. Camera phones flashed and selfies were taken. It seemed that it was mission accomplished, a hypothesis that was all but confirmed later that day when Boris Johnson announced that Jean Claude Juncker had accepted his governments proposed deal. I’m not saying that it had anything to do with the McLaren or my mission…but maybe, just maybe, it did.

In another bizarre ‘coincidence’, McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt confirmed that McLaren Automotive will keep production entirely UK based despite Brexit in an interview to CNBC on the same day. He continued saying that the firm is ‘born and bred’ in the UK. The brand is one that is proudly British and one that should be celebrated. The McLaren F1 is, arguably, the greatest car ever and when the 12C rolled off the production line in 2011 a new era was born. McLaren seemingly came out of the blue and shattered any complacency that the likes of Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini had, pushing performance to new levels.

Almost 9 years on, McLaren continues to push it rivals to the extent that it is difficult to compare its offerings to that of the aforementioned rivals. The 720S is pitched against cars like the Porsche GT2 RS, Ferrari 488 Pista and Lamborghini Huracan Performante – hardcore special edition models that are stripped out track animals. The 720S obliterated the trio in a number of tests and it is the ‘standard’ car complete with creature comforts and touring credentials that make it just as usable as the McLaren GT. The LT model is expected to demolish its European rivals. McLaren Automotive represents the best, not only of British, but supercars produced anywhere in the world. Brexit or not, deal or no deal, McLaren will continue to be a flag bearer of British innovation and technology for years to come.

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Porsche Taycan Turbo S Review

This is a big deal and perhaps the most significant car I have ever written about in my short, prepubescent life as an editor writing about cars. I am also a sceptic of electric cars, I am just not a fan, this is a chance for Porsche to change my views. Some 350 journalists have been driving the Taycan before me, specifically the Turbo and Turbo S models, on a mega road trip starting in Oslo. Nineteen days later, the convoy would reach the spiritual home of Porsche, Stuttgart and I had the honour of driving the final leg of the journey from Berlin.

Stepping into the Taycan is quite an overwhelming experience for me. Knowing that I would be able to finally drive a car I have sat in on multiple occasions before and even been a passenger in when in pre production form, it was my time to drive one of the most eagerly anticipated and important cars in a decade.

When I jump behind the wheel the first thought is that there is a wall of screens to comprehend. There are a lot of screens, four in this car (including optional passenger screen). That being said, it all is very clear and logical, futuristic but still familiar in a typical Porsche way. If you have not previously sat in a Taycan you may need a second to: a) know whether or not is is on, b) find the gear selector (it is hidden to the right of the wheel like it was in a 918 Spyder).

Orientation completed, what is it like to drive? Crawling around the congested streets of Berlin in a Taycan is a quiet and tranquil experience. Then you find yourself in the left turning lane but you need to take a right. Sport Plus engaged…red, red, red. GREEN. I am pinned to the seat and crossing four lanes and feeling like a naughty school child. The feeling of speed is intensified by the synthesised spaceship noise the accompanies the neck snapping acceleration, the noise can be turned on or off at the touch of a button. So it goes like a Porsche, a very fast one at that. The Taycan Turbo S will do 0-100 in a blistering 2.8 seconds, that GT2 RS quick, in a family saloon that will fit four adults and has two boots. As I am sure you would have seen, the Taycan Turbo S recently set the fastest Nurburgring lap time for a four door EV with a sterling time of 7min42, a time that was seemingly set on very ordinary tires, bring out the Cup 2 Rs and watch Tesla cry.

Out onto the country roads of rural Germany the Taycan can stretch its legs, and boy, it has legs. The acceleration from standstill is potent, instant and and honestly, takes your breath away. When you’re up to speed you can focus on placing the car fabulously using the brilliant steering, typical Porsche. Thread it through a corner and the acceleration out of the bend dominates again. Into the next one and it dawns upon me that I am chucking a 2.4 tonne car through the corners like a car that weighs a tonne less. The weight is all down in the floor, the Taycan has a lower centre of a 911 and it shows. There is little to no body roll, there is supreme control and composure. The only time the illusion wears thin is under heavy braking, you can’t cheat physics forever. It stops well and hard using the giant carbon ceramics, but the inertia can be felt.

So it is a revelation for electric cars in the way it drives, it has a futuristic interior and it looks the part. The car is fabulous, but then we come to the other side of the coin: the infrastructure.

When setting off from the start line in Berlin the navigation was set and the car displayed an estimated battery change percentage upon arrival. It read 12% to the lunch stop where the car would be charged at one of the Ionity 800watt chargers. 12% is a reasonable level and my passengers and I felt confident that we could arrive without giving the range much thought. Remember that quick lane change in the city that I mentioned earlier?

That switch into Sport Plus and the pedal to the metal acceleration cost 1% of that 12% estimate. A few amusing accelerations from standstill to the speed limit cost a further 5%. A short 3km autobahn blast to the vmax of 260km/h and the estimated battery upon arrival is at 1%. With more than 100kms to go, the famed range anxiety set in. I shift into Range mode to try and earn back some precious power. This is where things get a little dull, there are some stunning roads coming up, but I cannot push or my passengers and I will be stranded on the side of the street playing I Spy.

Some careful driving and arduous steady kilometres later we are close to the destination with around 4% charge remaining. Into sport plus I hope to make the most of the remaining power, only to find the car is warning me to preserve the remaining charge and it has limited the max speed. Killjoy.

Throw in a short unexpected detour, such as dropping a friend to a train station a few kms off the route and you will not make it to your final destination without having to visit another charger on the way, make sure it supports 800watts or you’ll be sat around for far too long staring at the percentage of charge in a service station memorising the Burger King menu.

The Taycan is a fabulous machine, one that has, without a doubt, changed perceptions and the expectations of electric cars. I cannot help but question how the concept of electric cars can be considered feasible in a world where the infrastructure is not yet ready to alleviate the woes of range anxiety. We are so accustomed to the convenience of having endless access to petrol stations where we can brim our tanks with fossil juice in seconds. Until we can charge our batteries in less than the time it takes to do a shot of espresso and chomp down a Snickers bar, there will always be sceptics of the need to build in 20-30 minute stops to recharge a battery. For day-to-day short commutes in congested towns and cities like London, the efforts of the BMW i3s or Renault Zoe are far more compelling. A week of commuting can be completed on a single charge overnight on the weekend, a real alternative to combustion motoring. Why claim that electricity is ready to replace fossil fuels in all scenarios?

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BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe – BMW Reveals Front-Wheel-Drive Sedan

BMW has today announced that it will offer a BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe for the first time. The Gran Coupe model follows from the recent release of the BMW 1 Series. Interestingly, it precedes the expected release of an updated BMW 2 Series Coupe.

The 2 Series Gran Coupe is also the first front-wheel-drive BMW sedan in recent memory (aside from a 1 Series Sedan – sold exclusively in China). With the development of BMW’s xDrive platform permeating higher up in BMW’s model range, traditionalists might want to look away now!

Design

We’ve seen BMW’s Gran Coupe concept time and time before. The format is similar for the 2 Series Gran Coupe. BMW stretches the silhouette of the BMW 1 series, adding four-doors with frameless side windows and full-LED headlights as standard.

The side taper of the C-pillar is clear, accentuating the shoulders of the car. Other design elements include the contoured kidney grille bars with a different mesh design for the flagship M235i xDrive. The rear lights are completely new too, stretching further into the back until they reach a gloss black band.

The Gran Coupe measures 4.5 metres in length, 1.8 metres in width and 1.4 metres in height. Interior space has been a driving factor behind the project, BMW claims a 430-litre load space, 40 litres more than the Coupe version.

Drivetrain & Performance

The 2 Series Gran Coupe uses the FAAR platform which debuted this year in the 1 Series. The Gran Coupe is front-wheel drive predominantly; the first BMW sedan to use this configuration. Performance versions use the xDrive system in preference to BMW’s usually preferred rear-wheel-drive setup.

The 2 Series Gran Coupe also carried over the near-actuator wheel slip limitation system. A slip controller is positioned in the engine control unit rather than in the DSC system. It works together with the DSC system, to reduce the time it takes to relay information, operating ten times faster than a conventional system. Additional bracing in the engine bay and struts linking the rear sub-frame to the body improve stability.

One diesel engine and two petrol engines will be available straight away. The BMW 218i uses a three-cylinder petrol engine with 140 hp, a four-cylinder model, with 190 hp, will be available in the BMW 220d. Finally, the range-topping BMW M235i xDrive will use a 306 hp, four-cylinder engine. The US market will get an additional 231 hp BMW 228i xDrive model with the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine.

In terms of performance, the 218i hits 100 km/h in 8.7 seconds, the M235i xDrive in 4.9 seconds and the 220d in 7.5 seconds.

The power is relayed with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is an option while the eight-speed transmission is reserved for the diesel and the M235i xDrive.

The BMW M235i xDrive adds a mechanical Torsen limited-slip differential, M Sport steering and M Sport brakes. Three different suspension setups are on offer, tailored to each model. M Sport suspension reduces the ride height by 10 mm while the Adaptive suspension option includes variable damper controls.

All models will be available with a Lane Departure Warning, active lane return and collision and pedestrian warning with city braking function. Active Cruise Control, the Driving Assistant including Lane Change Warning, rear collision warning and crossing traffic warning, plus the reversing assistant are all available as options. 

Interior

Five trim levels are available; Basic, Advantage, Sport Line, Luxury Line and M Sport. Six colours will be available from launch.

Space is generous too. the 2 Series Gran Coupe offers 33 mm of extra legroom over the existing 2 Series Coupe with a seating position 12 mm higher. The rear seats split 40/20/40 to add more space.

The BMW Operating System 7.0 is installed onto the two large screens. The BMW Live Cockpit Professional increases the size of the centre screen to 10.25 inches with the further option of a 9.2-inch head-up display.

As always, iDrive Controller, touch, vice and gesture options combine for easy input of information into the infotainment system.

Competition

The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe slots into the marketplace alongside the 1 Series. The 2 Series badge has always been reserved for a coupe version of the 1 Series, the Gran Coupe adds a Sedan body-style to the lower end of the range. BMW’s target is the young professional, clearly.

This makes BMW’s competition, the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CLA Class and the Audi A3 Sedan. Both fill niches but have sold well, marketed towards younger buyers who want something small, practical, but with a certain amount of style.

Whether you prefer one to the other likely comes down to personal choice. In terms of the 2 Series Gran Coupe’s defining features, it carries less luggage than the Mercedes-Benz but more than the A3 Sedan. Infotainment is also likely to factor in any buying decision.

Availability

The 2 Series Gran Coupe will make its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show 2019 which takes place towards the end of November.

Afterwards, expect a market launch in March 2020 with sales to begin soon after

Pricing in Germany will start at €31.950 for the BMW 218i, with the range-topping BMW M235i xDrive commanding €51,900.

Photo Gallery

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Volkswagen Golf 8 Teased: Preview Changes Over Outgoing Model

Volkswagen is gearing up for the release of a new generation Golf. The Volkswagen Golf is one of the most important Volkswagen models, the German behemoth sells millions of the hatchback models each year. The eighth generation Golf is set to debut next week, before then, we have a teaser sketch.

The sketch reveals a few details about the design. As you would expect, it will be an evolution of the existing Golf. It looks sleeker and wider than before, with smaller headlights which give the effect of spanning the entire front fascia.

Golf 8 Interior

An interior photo shows a central display which blends into the instrument panel. Very few buttons are visible, in fact, we could only spot the electronic parking brake button, gone are the controls for the air conditioning.

Of course, these photos appear to be conceptual sketches. This could mean that the true Golf, when released, does not share the same characteristics, or that items are added.

When the new Volkswagen Golf debuts, it is expected to be made available in European markets first. US markets are unlikely to get quite the same range, however, the popular GTI and R models, which will inevitably follow, should be released stateside in due course.

Outgoing Model

2019 Volkswagen Golf

2019 Volkswagen Golf Interior

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BMW 530 MLE Fully Restored: First M Model Unofficially

At the start of the year, we brought you a story about how BMW South Africa had located one of 110 Type 1 530 MLE. The MLE is an important part of BMW Motorsport history. Built to homologate a BMW race car, it was the first road-going BMW built by BMW Motorsport and the first ‘M-car’.

The restoration is finally complete with the restored BMW 530 MLE unveiled at the “Home of BMW Legends”, BMW Group Plant Rosslyn. The grand unveiling of the MLE took place in front of four BMW Group South Africa employees who were on hand to build the original more than four decades ago.

The BMW 530 Motorsport Limited Edition was produced on the southern tip of Africa as part of a limited production run. BMW were keen to compete in the flagship Modified Production Series in South Africa. Starting in 1976, BMW South Africa ran a car in the Series, achieving fifteen wins from 15 consecutive starts and 3 championship titles in three consecutive years. BMW eventually retired the 530 MLE in 1985 as the most successful racing BMW 5 Series in history.

In order to compete in the series, it was necessary for BMW to homologate the 530 MLE. 110 units of the Type 1 530 MLE were produced in 1976, with a further 117 versions of the Type 2 530 MLE built on the production line at the BMW Group Plant, Rosslyn in 1977. Very few of these cars are still on the road.

The car is quite special in its own right. It has a 3.0 litre straight six which originally produced around 197 bhp together with 277 Nm of torque, a 208 km/h top speed and a 0 – 100 km/h sprint time of 9.3 seconds. In the context of modern performance, this might not seem a huge amount of pace, in the mid-1970’s it would have been class-leading! The BMW 530 Motorsport Limited Edition also featured weight-reduction measures that included bodywork and pedals drilled by hand, manual windows with no air conditioning, and Mahle wheels.

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2019 BMW M8 Competition Coupe and Convertible Review

The BMW M8 Competition is a difficult car to place. The replacement of the M6 is tagged by BMW as being a luxury GT car, but one that packs 625 horsepower and 750Nm of torque. Those aren’t numbers that are used to waft from the country estate to the golf course, something I learnt when I went to The Algarve to put the most powerful series production M car in BMW’s history to the test.

After an evening of being inundated with stats and filled with the finest prawns I’ve ever eaten, it was time to see how the figures felt in the real world. Exploiting 625 horsepower on the street isn’t exactly easy, the infamous Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, colloquially referred to as Portimao, had been booked out for us to put the M8 Competition through its paces (the base M8 was not on offer to test on this occasion). Boy, oh boy there was pace. BMW claims 0-100km/h in 3.3 and it feels every bit as fast. 3.3 isn’t a number typically attributable to a wafty GT car, and neither is the way the M8 Competition handles itself around what is one of the most testing tracks in Europe. Stability and control were a focus for the M division and can be directly linked to three innovations that have been created with sharp handling characteristics in mind: M xDrive, Active M Differential and M-specific Adaptive suspension. They each do what they say on the tin and each element takes the poise of the M850i and turns it up a notch to far more serious, track usable levels.

Yes, the car still feels all of two tonnes when you really start to hustle it into bends and quick direction changes, but you’ve got to be forcing it into such a scenario. I suspect 98%, if not more, of owners will never venture onto a track with their M8, but it’s spectacular to know how capable the car can be. The xDrive system deserves a special mention as it allows you to apply power extremely early after an apex, you feel it dragging the car out with terrific grip and speed. That’s not to say that there isn’t fun to be had, with the traction and stability systems in MDM, the rear end comes in to play and is easily adjustable on the throttle.

The 4.4-litre V8 revs to 7,200 but peak power is done at 6,000. The 750Nms come courtesy of two turbochargers that are nestled between the two cylinder banks for a sharper response and less lag. This unit teams up with an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission which is as good as any dual clutch setup on sale today, you are never left helplessly tugging at paddles for downshifts multiple times before they are delivered.

Braking performance is often a point of criticism on BMW M cars, even the carbon ceramic setups of the past have been known to find themselves in a spot of smokey bother after a couple of intense laps on track, not in the M8. Thanks to cutting-edge technology, the brake activation, brake booster and braking control functions are brought together within a compact module. The brake pressure required is triggered by an electric actuator, which means it can be generated more dynamically, pedal feel is optimised and the interventions from the stability control system are significantly faster and more precise. The driver can choose between two pedal feel settings: one more comfort-oriented and the other a particularly direct, instantaneous setting. I can report that the feel remains remarkably consistent even after a pounding on the track.

As I said, I can never imagine myself seeing an M8 on track except for in special circumstances such as a motoGP safety car. The road is where M8s will be used and that’s where the real world consumer testing needs to be done.

Weighing in at 2.1 tonnes, the convertible M8 Competition is around 100 kilograms more than the Coupe and is the variant assigned for the road testing element of the test. It is 0.1 seconds slower to 100 (3.4 seconds) but with the roof retracted the sensation of speed is heightened.

With every new car review I write, I seem to drone on and on about the crippling OPF that has restrained the exhaust noises that enthusiasts so crave. The story is the same here and the soundtrack is not what you would traditionally associate with a 4.4 V8. That being said, M have worked hard to give the M8 some serious bass. It’s not great, it’s acceptable.

On the billiard table smooth tarmac of the track the steering felt numb, there is more weight in the sportier modes, but the feel is absent. The same can be said for the steering on the road. So not very good then? Hold your horses, the M8 really surprised me on the deserted, tight and twisty roads away from the circuit. The coupe was great on track, the convertible continued to exceed expectations on the street. The xDrive system means you can use the power and mammoth torque without fearing for your life, the systems mentioned before, particularly the suspension and diff shine and come together to make the M8 not only savagely fast, but also very easy to drive at speed.

Then you slow down to admire the scenery and stick everything into comfort and the character of the car completely changes – it demonstrates an impressive breadth of ability. The cabin is comfortable, the seats could be a little more supportive but are well suited to long drives. The back seats are usable for adults too, perhaps not for longer journeys but certainly suitable for children. The infotainment system remains one of the best in the business and there are new M displays to separate this from the rest of the 8 family. Gone is the questionable crystal gear selector from lesser 8 series models.

This brings me back to my opening statement: the M8 is a difficult car to place. Is it a 911 competitor? I feel it’s not sporty enough and lacks feel in comparison to the Porsche. Maybe the Bentley Continental GT or DB11? I feel the M8 is not premium enough. The Aston Martin Vantage or AMG GT could be in the sights of the M8, but neither of those can demonstrate the soft, supple cruising abilities of the M8 Competition. Regardless, the M8 Competition stands tall and proud as the current head of the BMW M table with the ability to cruise quietly or attack a road with seemingly endless torque and power. A mighty fine M car.

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