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  • Autocar confidential: end in sight for combustion Cupras, SUVs no threat to S-Class and more
    on 21st September 2020

    Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up a week in gossip from across the automotive industry In this week's round-up of automotive gossip, we hear why SUVs aren't threatening the future of Mercedes' S-Class limo, why the Citroen Ami is the 2CV's spiritual successor and more. SUVs no threat to S-Class The success of Mercedes’ SUVs hasn’t put into question the future of the S-Class limo, according to CEO Ola Källenius. He said: “We’ve had unbelievable success with SUVs, but the upper-luxury limousine segment is very robust. We believe that with the new life cycle, we can grow volume again, despite the SUVs. The segment seems to be particularly resilient for us.” Mon 2CV Ami The new Citroen Ami can be seen as the 2CV’s spiritual successor, because it offers “market-changing innovation”, boss Vincent Cobée believes. It follows the 1948 model’s lead by “providing a unique answer to the problem of clean, practical and affordable inner-city mobility”. He added: “It doesn’t look like a 2CV and doesn’t replace it, but it’s exactly the same Citroën spirit.” No 4WD T-Roc Volkswagen has no plans to offer a four-wheel-drive version of its new T-Roc Cabriolet, because it just isn’t needed. Product marketing’s Jan-Ingo Theuner said: “We feel that we are very well prepared for the demands of the target market. There are more urban customers, so we have focused on design and individualisation. Demand for 4Motion in this customer segment is rather low.” ICE ends in 2026 for Cupra Cupra will launch its final internal-combustion-engined car in about 2026, reckons recently departed design boss Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos. “In 2026, we will have the last SOP [start of production] of a completely new ICE car,” he told Autocar before leaving Cupra and sister brand Seat for Renault. READ MORE 2021 Mercedes S-Class: luxury saloon reinvented with tech focus  Used car buying guide: Mercedes G-Class  New Mercedes E-Class: UK prices and specs announced

  • Mercedes CEO: Maybach S-Class to take brand to "the next level"
    on 21st September 2020

    Maybach's first SUV, the GLS Maybach, was launched last year Upcoming luxury limo promises to exploit the potential of the Maybach name Mercedes’ is fully committed to expanding its Maybach sub-brand, CEO Ola Kallenius has confirmed, despite the broader pressures of streamlining its wider line-up and ensuring profitability in a difficult marketplace. Maybach launched its first SUV, the GLS Maybach late last year and already offers a version of the S-Class. The new S-Class, launched today, will also receive a Maybach version in future, which Kallenius described as taking the sub-brand to “the next level”. When asked if he plans to leverage Maybach as a separate brand, Kallenius commented: “The short answer is yes. Maybach has potential and we’re intending to exploit that potential. It is our sub-brand for sophisticated luxury. Since we’ve reintroduced it, using the AMG playbook, focusing on sophisticated luxury rather than performance, we have had a great deal of success.” He continued: “We have just launched Maybach GLS and we have had a tremendous customer response - finally an SUV with S-Class captain seats in the back and all those bells and whistles for that sophisticated luxury rather than in-your-face luxury.” Alongside Maybach versions of its more mainstream models, there’s also the possibility that the sub-brand will consider even lower-volume, higher-margin variants in future. When asked if axing coupe and cabriolet versions of the S-Class gives an opportunity for more niche models to appear under the Maybach badge, Kallenius commented: “Whatever you do from a business point of view must hit the sweet spot between cutbacks and volume and returns. We are car lovers through and through but also have a very sharp pencil in our back pocket. "Depending on the architecture, depending on the derivative, or whether it’s a special edition of something, if it makes economical sense, then yes, we would do it.” READ MORE Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 arrives to rival Bentley Bentayga  2021 Mercedes S-Class: luxury saloon reinvented with tech focus First ride: 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class prototype

  • 2022 BMW X7: restyled front end shown in new images
    on 21st September 2020

    Munich gears up to usher in a new look for its luxury SUV flagship, but the bold front grille remains BMW has already begun development work on the updated version of its X7 luxury SUV, launched just two years ago, ahead of an anticipated launch in 2022.  The facelifted X7 will retain the current car's striking front grille, in line with the company's commitment to its radical but controversial new styling direction. Following the initial unveiling of the X7 and the updated 7 Series with which it shares its front end design, BMW design director Adrian van Hooydonk argued that the SUV's prominent air intakes were in proportion to the rest of the car, and in fact smaller than those of its main rivals. He said: "Yes, the X7’s grille is bigger than other BMW’s, but so is the X7 bigger than any BMW before it. That one is in proportion. “Don’t worry, I don’t want the brand to turn into an oversized kidney grille brand - but I believe we understand the reasons for what we have done with the 7 Series and that the issue will solve itself thanks to evolving tastes in the markets for which the grille was introduced.” It looks like the restyling will instead focus on the headlights, which have moved lower down the front end and adopted a more rectangular shape, similar to those worn by a recently spotted prototype for BMW's upcoming electric luxury saloon: the i7. There is also a reshaped lower bumper which appears to do away with the current car's prominent side air intakes. It's not clear if BMW's move to visually link the two models suggests the X7 will gain an electrified variant. Previously, BMW has stated that any hybrid version of the X7 would need to offer an electric-only range of more than 50 miles to comply with market regulations in China, a key market for the model. The plug-in X5 xDrive45e is officially capable of travelling 54 miles on electric power, but its powertrain would need to be uprated to provide a similar range in the heavier X7. Camouflage wrap makes any changes at the rear hard to spot, but the customary subtle tweaks to the bumper and light cluster designs can be expected. READ MORE New BMW X7 Dark Shadow edition is ultra-exclusive special  BMW to launch nine new electric cars by 2025  2020 BMW M3 to share radical front end with new M4

  • Toyota GR Supra 2020 long-term review
    on 21st September 2020

    Toyota's long-awaited sporting flagship joins our fleet with cultural baggage and no shortage of flair Why we’re running it: To find out what sort of performance car the GR Supra really is, and whether it has the character to live up to the name Month 1 - Specs Life with a Toyota Supra: Month 1 Welcoming the Supra to the fleet - 9 September 2020 Let’s suppose we played car word association. If I said ‘996 GT2’, you might say ‘hedgerow’. If I said ‘Elise’, you might say ‘head gasket’. And if I said ‘Supra’, you would say? I’m certain the more mischievous among you would say ‘BMW’, and shortly we’ll address the reasons for that, but until very recently, most of us would probably have said ‘tuner’, or similar. And we can squarely blame the Mk4 A80 Supra for that. The Supra was born in 1978, when Toyota gave the Celica extra snout to make space for six cylinders. Yet more so than that original car, and more so even than the fact the A70 Supra was at one point an exotic Group A World Rally car, it was the curvaceous A80 Supra of the 1990s and an inventive Japanese domestic aftermarket scene fantastically corrupted with cash that made the name famous. Back then, if it could be imagined, it could be done, and one of the many dubious high-water marks for this feral corner of the car universe occurred not in Japan but in 1999, near Peterborough. Having shipped his gold-painted ‘Top Secret Co’ Supra and its 930bhp 5.0-litre V12 to Britain, Kazuhiko ‘Smokey’ Nagata nailed 198mph on the A1 M at four in the morning. To nobody’s surprise – not even his, you have to imagine – old Smokey was arrested, tried that very afternoon and deprived of his licence (although astonishingly, no custodial sentence was forthcoming). The press went wild: Max Power readers had a new hero, the tabloids had their ultimate villain and the A80 Supra was core to it all. That flat-out run is still the fastest and most unhinged speed ever recorded on this country’s roads. Back in Japan, the Castrol TOM’s Supra competing at the time in Super GT quickly became one of the most recognisable racing cars in the world. And then, two years after Nagata’s infamous run, the Mk4 Supra made a cult appearance in the Hollywood mega-hit The Fast and the Furious. In a scene that now has more than three million views on YouTube, Paul Walker’s Brian O’Connor out-drags an F355 Ferrari in his souped-up Toyota. The Italian supercar gets roasted in oh-so-satisfying fashion. It’s great. To watch the film is to fall for the Supra, and so the car’s legend as an illicit aftermarket delicacy was fermenting very well indeed. Of course, we know what happened next. Toyota let the trail go stone cold, seemingly forgetting how to build a serious performance coupé. Instead, it gave us the lively but too junior MR2, an inexplicably front-driven Celica and finally the excellent but wouldn’t-trouble-a-Golf-GTI GT86. It therefore isn’t hard to fathom why anticipation was at fever pitch when an A80 Supra successor was finally announced in 2018. And here we are, two years on and with our very own A90 ‘GR’ Supra. As a licence-less teen who fell for the old Supra back in its heyday, the mere arrival of this car already feels like the end of a journey. This juicy Prominence Red Supra comes in Pro specification, with extra leather, a JBL sound system, a head-up display and wireless phone charging. The asking price is £54,960. It drops the reborn Supra into a shark pond of competition. Think Alpine A110, BMW M2, Porsche 718 Cayman and, a little traitorously, BMW Z4 M40i. Because an A90 Supra could only ever come about on the condition that it would be profitable for Toyota almost from the start, an arrangement was made with BMW. Simply, the Z4 and Supra would be co-developed. The crux is that the two cars share their engines, chassis and electronics. They are indeed twins, although most of the core parts are from the German side of the family tree. To what extent and in what precise manner this influences the Supra’s character is one of the key questions we’ll answer. After all, nobody wants a Z4 in drag, and in fairness, our prior experience of the new Supra suggests that isn’t the case. At least, not entirely the case. First impressions? Frankly, the exterior design could hardly be less Germanic. In fact, being curvy like its predecessor but also rakish in the modern way, the new Supra could only be Japanese. It looks stunning after nightfall in London, with contours that interact with street lighting to produce an effect that photographer Olgun Kordal says he usually only sees in a studio setting. And, of course, though its rivals are numerous and talented, the Toyota isn’t exactly toothless. As a front-engined, cab-rear, two-seat coupé, it has classic GT kerb appeal before it even turns one of its 19in wheels. In terms of hardware, the single-turbo 3.0-litre straight six makes 335bhp, which is put to the road through an electronically controlled limited-slip differential between the rear wheels, which themselves are shod in Michelin’s excellent Pilot Super Sport tyres. The weight distribution is also said to be very near perfect and the wheelbase to track width ratio is almost identical to front-engined handling pin-ups such as the Ferrari 575 Maranello. The GR Supra is also sensibly sized. It’s the same length as the Cayman to the millimetre, and about the same width. The wheelbase is also shorter than that of the GT86, if you can believe it. It all points to a car that should not only be seriously appealing from the driver’s seat but also pretty broad-batted. What we’ll discover here is how well that appeal spreads itself across the spectrum of everyday use. That and whether Toyota was right to revive the name of arguably its most storied and desirable car. Second Opinion I really liked the new Supra when I first drove it, which would normally be a good thing. Problem is that I absolutely love its two strongest rivals: the Porsche 718 Cayman and Alpine A110. It would be very interesting to put it up against a facelifted Jaguar F-Type, though. The outcome of that might be too close to call. Andrew Frankel Back to the top Toyota GR Supra Pro specification Specs: Price New £54,340 Price as tested £54,960 Options Prominence Red paint £620 Test Data: Engine 6 cylinders, 2998cc, turbocharged petrol Power 335bhp at 5000-6500rpm Torque 368lb ft at 1600-4500rpm Kerb weight 1541kg Top speed 155mph 0-62mph 4.3sec Fuel economy 34.5mpg CO2 188g/km Faults None Expenses None Back to the top

  • Detroit auto show moves to fall 2021
    by Michael Martinez on 21st September 2020

    The change comes weeks after organizers for the Los Angeles show said they would move the 2020 event from November to May 2021, wedging itself in between the New York and Detroit shows.  

  • Global market bounced back quickly from COVID crisis, analyst firm says
    by Peter Sigal on 21st September 2020

    Factors such as pent-up demand, incentives and government stimulus programs led to a "classic V-shaped" recovery in recent months, but the pandemic's impact will be felt for years to come.

  • Report: Government to ban new petrol and diesel car sales in 2030
    on 21st September 2020

    Report suggests government will speed up EV adoption in UK by advancing internal-combustion ban Reports suggest the UK government will advance its ban on the sale of new combustion-engined cars from 2040 to 2030 in an effort to speed up widespread electric vehicle (EV) adoption. As first reported by The Guardian, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to officially announce the move in autumn as part of a wider, post-pandemic economic recovery plan. The newspaper cites sources as saying the plans were set to be publicised this week, but a recent rise in coronavirus cases has pushed it back until later this year.  A proposal to end sales of petrol and diesel-fuelled cars (including hybrids and plug-in hybrids) by 2040 was first announced in 2018 as part of the government’s strategy to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, before transport secretary Grant Shapps said earlier this year that such action could be taken by 2035 or even as early as 2032 if possible.  Members of the public were offered the chance to submit their views in an online consultation process that closed at the end of July this year. Criticism of the planned ban tends to centre around the limited state of the UK’s public charging network, which is widely thought to be incapable with accommodating an influx of EVs. The Guardian reports that the government’s ambitious new plan comes in response to assurances from unnamed sources that the infrastructure will be ready by 2030.  In May last year, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) voiced concern that the original 2040 date wasn't soon enough to meet the net-zero target, calling upon the government to “continue to support strengthening of the charging infrastructure, including for drivers without access to off-street parking”. In response, the government doubled its EV charger fund allocation to £10 million in an effort to encourage EV uptake in urban areas in January this year. It also suggested that some of the money could be used to develop a publicly accessible charger monitoring platform, which could then be integrated into sat-navs and route-planners.  It remains unclear what effect the pandemic has had on the government’s bold infrastructure improvement programme, which included the installation of 3600 new streetside charging points this year.  In a letter sent to Grant Shapps last week, three Labour shadow ministers called on the government to bring the combustion ban forward to 2030. Matthew Pennycook, Kerry McCarthy and Alan Whitehead said 2030 would be “an ambitious and an achievable phase-out date for new ICE vehicles”. Pennycook added: “2030 is an ambitious but achievable date by which to phase out the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles, one that would give a new lease of life to the UK car industry whilst combatting climate breakdown and cleaning up the air that dangerously pollutes so many of our towns and cities. “But as well as accelerating the phase-out, the government must also set out a credible plan to get there – one that backs the low-carbon jobs and industries of the future and ensures that workers and communities are properly supported in the transition to a fairer and cleaner economy. “It’s time for ministers to seize this opportunity as part of a world-leading green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, creating good jobs across the country and generating real momentum for next year’s COP26 climate summit.” READ MORE Petrol and diesel car sales ban could come in 2032  Is an ICE ban really the will of the people?  Autocar's manifesto: Why Government must rethink the 2035 combustion ban

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