French environment minister Ségolène Royal has hinted that emissions investigations could spread further than Renault, putting Citroën, DS and Peugeot under the spotlight
It is alleged that the car produced NOx emissions of 585mg/km, rather than the 80mg/km it was understood to produce, when tested on the roads in December by a research centre commissioned by the European Commission.
In addition, under laboratory conditions, outside of the normal test temperatures of 17-23deg celcius, three times the permitted NOx emissions were produced, claims the French newspaper.
It is reported that the PSA Group, parent company of Citroën, DS and Peugeot, has sent its vice-president, Christian Chapelle, to explain the results to the European Commission.
Lucia Caudet, Commission spokesperson for internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), said: “In the third quarter of 2016, the Commission’s in-house Joint Research Centre (JRC) took a number of emissions measurements on four cars in the laboratory and on the road. The JRC took measurements on three diesel cars and one petrol car. These cars were selected randomly and they were of different models, years, mileage and mostly rented, hence the measurements are not indicative of particular concerns nor representative of entire fleets.
“A discrepancy between NOx emissions measured in the laboratory and in real driving conditions is not necessarily indication of illegal behaviour. Under the current legal framework, it is for the national authority that type-approved or certified the car to determine whether illegal defeat devices were used.
“On 22 December, the Commission transmitted the information on these measurements to the relevant national authorities and to the EP Inquiry Committee on car emissions. It will be up to the national authorities to publish the results of their national investigations including fully representative and analysed information on entire car fleets.”
So far, French environment minister Ségolène Royal has not commented on the alleged findings. However, earlier this week, following reports that Renault is under investigation for emissions discrepancies, she suggested that Citroën, DS and Peugeot could all face scrutiny regarding their cars’ emissions from the French government.
Royal commened that “there could be other investigations,” and that “[Renault] far exceeded the permissible standards. This is also the case of other manufacturers, to a different extent.”
A PSA spokesman couldn’t add any response to the possibility of investigation, but did clarify that “PSA will continue to cooperate fully with the commission regarding all the results”.
Regarding the C4 Cactus’s emissions, PSA later said: “We are surprised by these results, which were not communicated to PSA and which protocol is unknown to us. Especially since similar vehicles with the same engine have been tested by the French authorities and highlighted consistent results, in particular regarding the real-world D3 test.”
Murky preview images show fragments of the Pagani Huayra Roadster; we’ll have to wait until the Geneva motor show to get our first full look
The new picture is of the right rear taillight, showing the back section of the drop-top’s re-designed engine cover. Two previous images showed small details including the centre section of the car’s nose.
The hardtop Huayra is powered by Pagani’s bespoke 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12, producing 730bhp and 738lb ft, and it’s very likely that the Huayra Roadster will share this engine in unaltered form.
Pagani’s previous Roadster, the Zonda Roadster, weighed five kilos more than its hard-top counterpart, so it’s very likely that the Huayra Roadster will closely match the weight of the coupé, at 1350kg.
Company boss Horacio Pagani said of the Huayra Roadster “This is the most complicated project we have ever undertaken”, suggesting the structure has been significantly modified to ensure rigidity.
Pagani released no details with the images, but the Huayra is built at a rate of just 40 per year, so it’s expected that the Huayra Roadster will be built in even smaller numbers, and that it will add to the Huayra’s £666,000 price tag.
The similar power and weight to the standard car means its 3.2sec 0-62mph sprint and 230mph top speed will also be closely matched.
Pagani’s last unveiling was the Huayra BC at last year’s Geneva motor show.
Four decades ago, we said the tiny Enfield 8000 wouldn’t make a great drag car. Jonny Smith tells us about his other ideas
Pasted on the transmission tunnel inside Jonny Smith’s Flux Capacitor is a clipping from the 1976 Autocar road test of the Enfield 8000 EV.
It reads: “Naturally, with a kerb weight of just a little under 1 ton and only 8bhp to propel it, the Enfield is no candidate for the drag strips.” Even the safest assumptions can be risky in this business.
On 16 July last year the 800bhp Flux Capacitor, named after the device that powers Dr Emmett Brown’s DeLorean time machine in Back to the Future, became the fastest street-legal electric vehicle in the world, covering Santa Pod Raceway’s quarter mile in 9.86sec with a terminal speed of 121mph.
At 1725mm, the Enfield’s wheelbase is shorter than its owner stands tall, and the car looks like something out of a circus act. If the thought of multiplying the Enfield’s power output of 8bhp by a factor of 100 seems preposterous, that’s because it is. “Everyone said it would be undriveable,” says Smith, “but it has exceeded expectations.”
So why choose such an unlikely candidate? Smith’s idea first formed during a trip to Japan in 2009, where a drive in a prototype Nissan Leaf made an impression. “I made up my mind then to build a hot rod EV but didn’t want to convert a piston engine car,” he continues. “I wanted to do an old EV and found this. I liked it immediately because it was odd, British and unlikely.”
It took a year to track the rare car down and conversion work began in 2012. The 8bhp electric motor and Reliant rear axle were removed. Two 9.0in DC motors, rated at 2000A and producing a combined 800bhp and 1200lb ft, now fit in a cradle mounted inside the Enfield’s transmission tunnel. The axle has been replaced by a specially made Ford unit attached to the body by four trailing links.
There’s no gearbox, drive is direct through a 6.0in propshaft and 400V are supplied by four lithium ion battery packs. Three are mounted under the bonnet and one is in the rear, all assembled from a total of 188 military-grade pouch cells. It is fitting that the same batteries are used to power the Gatling guns in a Bell SuperCobra helicopter, because, in all honesty, the entire machine looks positively lethal.
Folding a 6ft frame into the tiny dragster’s JAZ bucket seat and fastening the six-point harness is hilarious but just about doable. Inside, things look more serious, with a full FIA roll cage, lots of switches and, of course, a Flux Capacitor box, which is actually a phone charger and just for fun. With a toggle switch set to ‘Valet’ rather than ‘Race’, we set off along the country lanes. The motors whirr noisily, but the soundtrack is dominated by the creaking noises from an aggressive limited-slip differential and a cacophony of clunks from the metal-bushed motorsport suspension.
Valet mode delivers ‘only’ around 1200A, but even so, the acceleration is strong and the response from the motors immediate. There’s no clutch and the Enfield has a two-pedal setup with an oddly positioned brake. It stops well, though, with front brakes that consist of specially made discs with Caterham calipers. Amazingly, despite the insanely short wheelbase and high-geared steering, the car tracks dead straight even on a bumpy surface. That’s partly due to the fourlink mounting of the axle, which ensures there’s no steering effect from the rear. It rides well, too.
Smith flicks the switch from Valet to Race and says: “Now give it a quick squirt.” The response to the accelerator is now neckwrenchingly brutal and the Flux Capacitor takes off at a pace normally reserved for something packing a big supercharged engine. In fact, launched from a standing start, it can hit 60mph in under three seconds.
The lack of a ferocious soundtrack is at odds with the rate of progress, and a slight smell of ozone wafts up the nostrils as we are whisked rapidly towards the space-time continuum. Thankfully, more judicious use of the accelerator prevents our transition back to the future, but it felt like a close-run thing.
In 10 months and 15,000 miles, Skoda’s bargain-priced wagon has proved to be much more than just a practical holdall
Now, I’m not about to suggest that they’re an extravagance, because they’re all lovely inside and everything, but you know what? At nearly twice the price of the Skoda Superb SE L Executive I’ve been running, they should be.
The Superb is one of those cars that makes a massive amount of sense. In any market segment there’s a standout model that nous suggests you should buy: a Volkswagen Up, a Ford Fiesta, a Volkswagen Golf R, a Porsche 718 Cayman. Well, for my money the Superb Estate is right up there with them.
For a start, it’s massive. If you want an estate car to be an estate car, look at the Skoda, which has 660 litres of load space with the seats up – about 100 more than any rival – and 1950 litres, again another 100 litres on anything else, with them down.
That’s without it being longer than a typical executive estate, too. In fact, it’s a few inches shorter than most executive cars, which must mean it’s more compactly packaged, because certainly there’s enough room in the cabin for a basketball player to sit behind another basketball player.
Perhaps there’s less soundproofing and carpet, or fewer infotainment and electronic bits and bobs. If so, that’s perfectly understandable, because this is a £26,320 car (or it was when we got it; today’s list is £26,785), rather than a £40k one plus options. The things you can get on a Superb are mostly of the ‘strictly useful’ rather than ‘frivolously pleasing’ variety: if you want to drop the seatbacks from outside the boot, the release costs £90 (spend it), a retractable parcel shelf is £120 (likewise) and a variable-height boot floor is £150 (I’d leave it). I’d also keep the fold-flat front passenger seat (£100), not only because I like to stand on it and take pictures out of the sunroof (£1150), but also because it makes the already cavernous Superb the king of DIY-store cars.
Despite majoring on practicalities, there are pleasing little touches, too. The boot has Velcro-bottomed load bay dividers, which you can stick where you want to prevent things from slipping around. And the easy-to-navigate but averagely designed infotainment system has a function that reminds you not to forget to take your phone with you when you stop, if you’ve had it connected via Bluetooth while driving. There’s an umbrella in each door, too (wouldn’t it be nice if, after you’ve been using the windscreen wipers, the car reminded you that they were there?).
In all, I’ve covered 15,000 miles in the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel Superb wagon and returned what I think is a pretty reasonable 46.5mpg, given that quite a lot of my journeys are either commuting in London or on the motorway. The Superb is nearly always fully laden and I’m quite often in a hurry. At 70mph in sixth, the engine is spinning at a fairly leisurely 1800rpm, which, combined with some excellent seats and a brilliantly adjustable driving position, means this is one of the most comfortable cars I’ve ever lived with.
The ride helps, too. In SE L Executive spec, the Superb runs on 18in alloys (in this case a nonstandard design that’s a no-cost option) and our car came with adaptive dampers, at £750. I’ve since driven Superbs without the adaptive suspension, or Dynamic Chassis Control in Skoda-speak, and neither rides better or worse than the other. At least, not in our car’s Normal mode, in which it is extremely comfortable. The ride is too jiggly for my liking in Sport mode, while in Comfort it’s softer, certainly, but body control is a bit loose, so I don’t actually find it any more relaxing.
But combine the gentle, supple ride with smooth, consistent steering and the kind of ergonomics and pedal weights that no one else seems to get quite as right as the Volkswagen Group does, and you’ve got a car that’s very easy to rub along with.
Nothing of note has gone wrong. A few thousand miles into the test I noticed that the nearside front passenger door wasn’t sitting quite flush with the body. It must be quite well sealed, because there wasn’t any extra wind noise, but on closer inspection the door latch, where it fixes to the B-pillar, looked to be working loose. So I tightened it myself and that was the end of that.
The Superb has variable oil service intervals, too – to a maximum of 20,000 miles. I topped up half a litre of oil during its time with us, but it would have wanted an oil change at 19,000, so I was planning to get both that and the full service done then.
However, I never quite got there. The Superb has been so good that we have decided to replace it with another one, in a rather different spec. It’s an undercover rozzer version: a hatch with a 276bhp petrol engine and four-wheel drive. I’m not running it, but give it a few months and I’ll bet I’ll still be prepared to say that this variant is one of the most sensible, appealing cars you can buy.
SKODA SUPERB ESTATE 2.0 TDI 150 SE L EXECUTIVE
TEST STARTED 8.1.16
Mileage at start 385 Mileage at end 15,194
List price then £26,320 List price now £26,785 Price as tested £29,400 Dealer value now £19,000 Private value now £21,000 Trade value now £23,000
Panoramic sunroof £1150, adaptive dampers £750, metallic paint £535, variable boot floor £150, retractable parcel shelf £120, ‘smart gate’ £100, fold-flat front passenger seat £100, rear backrest release from boot £90, colour trip computer £85, 18in alloy wheel change £0
FUEL CONSUMPTION AND RANGE
Claimed economy 67.3mpg (combined) Fuel tank 66 litres Test average 46.5mpg Test best 49.3mpg Test worst 42.5mpg Real-world range 675 miles
0-62mph 8.9sec Top speed 135mph Engine 4 cyls, 1968cc, diesel Max power 148bhp at 3500rpm Max torque 250lb ft at 1750rpm Transmission 6-spd manual Boot 660-1950 litres Wheels 9Jx18in Tyres 235/45 R18, Pirelli Cinturato Kerb weight 1430kg
SERVICE AND RUNNING COSTS
Contract hire rate £291.16 CO2 110g/km Service costs None Other costs Engine oil £10 Fuel costs £1708 Running costs inc fuel £1718 Cost per mile 12 pence Depreciation £8400 Cost per mile inc depreciation 68 pence Faults Loose door latch (DIY fix for free)
The Geneva motor show isn’t until 9 March, but we’ve already got a raft of confirmed entries. Get an early look here
The Geneva motor show is one of the largest and most prestigious in the motoring calendar, and often plays host to the debuts of the world’s finest supercars.
This year’s show is no different, and despite being weeks away, we’ve got an early list of many of the star cars from the show. Take a look below to see what’s Geneva-bound this year.
Geneva motor show 2017 – the cars
Ferrari’s replacement for the F12, the F12 M, is the first of the supercars to be revealed at Geneva in March. We’ve only seen it testing under heavy disguise, so we’ll see the full visual of the car at the show. Power is expected to creep closer to the F12 tdf’s 769bhp.
Jaguar confirmed its XF Sportbrake estate at the Paris motor show with an image of the car in testing prototype guise. It’ll share engines with the standard XF, meaning a 2.0-litre diesel and 3.0-litre V6 petrol and diesel engines will make up the engine range. It’s unlikely to get an XF R Sportbrake variant to rival the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S estate, though.
We’ve already seen the Picanto; Kia revealed it ahead of even the Detroit motor show. The smallest Kia gets a fresh new look, more upmarket interior and updated technology and safety features. A sporty GT-Line trim also features, but a full-fat GT isn’t coming off the back of it.
Land Rover’s first new niche since the extended-wheelbase Range Rover, the coupé – as the name suggests – will take away some of the practicality of its standard SUV sibling in exchange for some visual drama. True to form, Land Rover officials are keeping the model under close wraps until Geneva.
Lamborghini’s lightweight Huracán variant – no longer called Superleggera if patent files are to be believed – will be at Geneva, and it’s believed to be making its appearance in both coupé and Spyder variants. The significant weight reduction should push the car’s top speed up, and its 0-62mph time down.
McLaren will show the replacement for the 650S – codenamed P14 – at Geneva. It’ll get an evolutionary new look and will likely get a great deal more power. McLaren titillated us by revealing the car’s carbonfibre monocoque ahead of the show, but it’s unlikely we’ll see any more of the car officially until then.
Pagani confirmed the Huayra Roadster’s place at the Geneva motor show this year with two preview images showing fragments of the car. The hardtop Huayra is powered by Pagani’s bespoke 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12, producing 730bhp and 738lb ft, and it’s very likely that the Huayra Roadster will share this engine in unaltered form. It’ll build on its £666,000 price tag, though.
It’s been spotted testing numerous times, but Geneva will be the show at which we finally officially see the 911 GT3 in facelifted form. The car will gain the option of a manual gearbox, but will retain the 3.8-litre engine of the current GT3, without the aid of turbocharging.
We’ll get our first full look at the eagerly awaited Seat Arona small SUV at the Geneva motor show, before it goes on sale in December. Seat says that the Arona is one of the most important models it’ll build, so is hoping that it’ll emulate the success of the Ateca. The Ibiza, on which the Arona is based, will arrive first, though.
Numerous leaks lead up to the Swift’s Japanese reveal at the end of 2016, but its motor show debut comes at Geneva, where the European-spec supermini will be revealed. A hybrid powertrain is amongst the options expected to make it to Europe.
Chinese EV company Techrules first previewed its innovative turbine-recharging EV at last year’s Geneva show, but the production-ready version will officially be revealed in March. The power output for the concept was mooted at 1030bhp, with 0-60mph coming in 2.5sec and a 217mph top speed. 93 miles of electric-only range was also claimed, as was the more impressive 1200 miles of total range.
The Yaris hot hatch hasn’t been named yet, but it’s rumoured to be named after Toyota’s Gazoo motorsport outfit. It’s been revealed already, but it’ll get the full Geneva motor show reveal treatment in March, before going on sale later this year. It’s already confirmed to have ‘more than 210bhp’, meaning it’ll take the small hot hatch segment up a few horsepower.
Volvo has withdrawn from all but three motor shows in the calendar, so the Geneva motor show is the most likely recipient of the new XC60 small SUV. We’ve spotted it testing, and the car’s new disguise is likely to draw quite heavily from its XC90 sibling, but Geneva will be the first time we see it in full – if Volvo doesn’t choose to reveal it beforehand.
Volkswagen’s replacement for the CC, moves another step away from its Passat variant roots with a new name but the same coupe-like styling, and since the death of the Phaeton, will be the most expensive saloon in the VW range. We’ve already driven an early prototype, and there are whisperings of a shooting brake variant too.
Volkswagen’s small SUV has been a long time coming – the Nissan Juke has been around since 2010, so Volkswagen has had seven years to get its offering into the segment right. It’ll be revealed In Geneva, and is most likely to draw inspiration from the T-Roc concept first seen at the Geneva show back in 2014. A lot has changed since then, so the car may be quite different to its concept precursor.
Japanese car brand will allow regulators and government officials to sample its Autopilot driverless tech
Nissan will start autonomous vehicle demonstrations in Britain next month, inviting people to sample its Autopilot technology first hand in order to show the system’s capabilities.
The Japanese car maker will first allow leading names in the industry, including government officials and technical and safety experts, to ride in autonomous versions of its Leaf electric car in London next month. It hopes this will help to increase support for the technology.
Nissan says these will be the first demonstrations of its autonomous drive technology on public roads in Europe. They come as part of its wider Intelligent Mobility plans.
Nissan Europe chairman Paul Willcox said “Innovation and ingenuity is at the heart of the Nissan brand and its people. With future models secured and cutting-edge innovation being developed right here in the UK, we’re looking forward to a strong future of designing, engineering and manufacturing in the country for customers right across the world.”
The UK’s business and energy secretary Greg Clark added: “Government and industry are working together to build on our world class reputation for excellence as a leading location for automotive R&D and manufacturing. We want to see centres, like Nissan’s here in Cranfield, continue to develop, making us a world leader in the development and testing of auto technology so we can anchor the next generation of vehicle manufacturing and its supply chain here in the UK.”
Nissan will launch a facelifted Qashqai with its latest Propilot technology this year, and the next-generation Leaf will arrive in 2018 with its own Propilot system.
The Qashqai’s system was previewed in a Japanese model called the Serena late last year, which uses Propilot technology that can control the accelerator, brakes and steering using data obtained through a mono camera, which is more sensitive than a normal colour camera. The camera can see lane markings and other vehicles in three-dimensional depth.
Audi has revealed prices and specs for the new Q5; first deliveries are expected in April
Three specs are available; SE, Sport and S line, with prices starting from £37,170 for the 2.0-litre diesel in SE form, rising to £38,270 for the same car in Sport trim, and £40,220 for S line. The 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine costs around £800 more across the board. First deliveries are expected for April.
Key to that weight loss is the adoption of VW Group’s MLB platform – already used by the A4 and the larger Q7. The new Q5 is close to the old model in size, but incorporates better packaging to improve interior space. The new Q5 is also one of the most aerodnamic cars in this class, and Audi is promising ‘exceptionally’ low wind noise and very little vibrations in the cabin.
The exterior of the Q5 has been given a more rugged appearance than the current car, in order to amplify the car’s off-road credentials. Clear influences from the Q7 and smaller Q2 can be seen, particularly around the front of the car. Its headlights come as either LED or high-resolution Matrix LED depending on specification, and Audi’s dynamic turn signals also feature.
Inside the five-seat cabin, buyers will be able to opt for Audi’s 12.3in Virtual Cockpit display – already in use on a wide variety of models – as well as two different infotainment screens. A 7.0in free-standing screen will feature on the standard car, while range-topping models will get a larger 8.3in screen. The system is controlled via a rotary dial and touch pad. Top-end versions also include haptic feedback. A newly developed head-up display is on the options list, and can project relevant information directly onto the windscreen.
The new Q5 will come with a range of four-cylinder and V6 petrol and diesel options, with most engines carried over from the A4. The V6 motors are part of a new generation of enignes jointly developed between Audi and Porsche. Also planned is a plug-in hybrid version of the Q5, to satisfy the growing demand for hybrid SUVs. That model will feature a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine working in combination with an electric motor – it’s said to have an all-electric range of up to 31 miles, as previewed by the Audi Allroad Shooting Brake concept car.
At launch, two options are available; a 2.0-litre TDI diesel in 187bhp form, and a 2.0-litre petrol with 249bhp – which is claimed by Audi to return 40.9mpg and emit 157g/km. A 3.0-litre V6 diesel with 282bhp will come later.
Audi also wants to offer buyers more performance-oriented options. Both SQ5 and RS Q5 versions of the car will be made, with the former getting 349bhp from its 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine, and the latter getting close to 500bhp from a twin-turbocharged version of the same engine. Some versions can be specified with Audi’s ‘ultra’ technology, which disengages the rear axle when it’s not needed, boosting efficiency. Torque vectoring features in all versions of the Q5, while a sports differential can be optioned for the V6 diesel.
Buyers will be able to choose between front and four-wheel drive, and between six-speed manual, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and eight-speed torque-converter automatic gearboxes.
The new Q5 is underpinned by new five-link front and rear suspension, with steel springs and adjustable dampers, in a setup largely borrowed from the A4. Optional air suspension will also be offered – including a self-leveling feature borrowed from the Q7 – in a bid to improve its ride and enhance its towing ability. As standard, drivers can choose from seven different driving modes via Audi’s Drive Select system, with two new modes for offroad driving.
Buyers will be able to choose from 14 exterior colours, and five new trim levels – sport, design, S line, design selection an S line exterior package. Those packages also include elements to distinguish the car’s exterior, such as contrasting grey elements to empahises the car’s rugged nature on design line models. Standard equipment includes a new multi-function steering wheel, while the options list includes a heated wheel, and massage functions for the seats. Optional ambient lighting can light the car with 30 different colours. The standard car sits on 17in alloy wheels, but alloys of up to 21in can be offered.
While the previous Audi Q5 was already praised for its big boot, Audi has inceased space in the new model to a maximum of 610 litres with all five seats in place, and 1550 litres with them folded away. Loading heavy items is helped by a sensor-activated boot, and the car’s air suspension can be lowered.
A powered tailgate is standard across the range, as is Audi’s parking system, three-zone climate control and heated front seats.
In terms of safety technology, Audi customers can opt for three packages, dubbed Tour, City and Parking. Functions include adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assistance, lane assistance, cross traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking and parking assistance.
Speaking at the new car’s debut in Paris, Audi boss Rupert Stadler said: “The first Audi Q5 was for many years the world’s best-selling SUV in this class. It was no easy task to design its successor, but that is precisely why it is so exciting.
“With the new Q5, we are setting the bar a notch higher. Among the great innovations are the quattro drive system with ultra technology, highly efficient engines, the air suspension with damper control and a comprehensive line-up of infotainment and assistance systems.”
The Q5 will be built at Audi’s newly constructed factory in Mexico.
Kit car manufacturer Marlin spins off Avatar brand, with affordable but exclusive track motoring in mind
The Avatar Roadster has been revealed in production form at the Autosport International show with claims it can produce up to 500bhp/ton.
The Devon-based manufacturer is an offshoot of kit-car maker Marlin, but its first model comes fully built. It is available with 2.0 or 2.3-litre Ford Ecoboost engines, much like those used by the Zenos E10 S and E10 R (although in the Avatar they are mounted longitudinally), and is priced from £39,990.
The 2.0-litre Avatar Roadster produces 250bhp, resulting in a top speed of 145mph and a 0-60mph time of 4sec, while the 2.3-litre model produces 350bhp, and can reach 60mph in 3.6sec and tops out at 165mph. Both variants weigh 695kg, meaning the more potent version produces 500bhp/ton.
The Roadster’s light kerb weight largely comes thanks to its use of a stiff tubular spaceframe chassis with fibreglass body panels. A near-central seating position, as well as carefully positioned fuel tank and lightweight five-speed gearbox sourced from the Porsche Boxster, maintain a ‘near-perfect’ weight distribution, according to Avatar director and designer Dylan Popovic.
Avatar has made over 100 changes to the model since it was first shown at last year’s Autosport show. The main focus has been to improve practicality.
“After showing the prototype we realised that our customers wanted more,” Popovic said. “We listened and have responded to our customers who loved the superb performance and fine handling but wanted more refinement and features so they could use the car for more than just track days. We’ve smoothed the raw edges to create a much more rounded package. We’ve changed the suspension geometry, adjusted the steering rack ratios and improved the ergonomics in the cabin with intuitive switchgear as well as developed features that make the car a delight on the road and track.”
A racing version of the Avatar Roadster has already competed at Castle Combe circuit, ahead of production of the road-going model. The racing model used an Audi-sourced 2.7-litre twin-turbo engine producing 450bhp. Avatar’s focus since has been to develop a road-friendly track car which can be driven home from track-days.
Avatar aims for eventual production capacity of 25-30 units annually, although a lower figure of one car per month is currently in place. A Roadster with a longer wheelbase and Chevrolet-sourced LS3 V8 engine is in the pipeline, pending the success of the current line-up.
Production will commence in the spring.
2017 Mercedes-Benz GLA facelift launched in Detroit
Updated crossover gets a new 220 petrol engine and lightly tweaked styling; it now starts from £25,880
The Mercedes-Benz GLA prices and specs have been revealed; the facelifted model now starts at £25,880 – an increase of £620 over the outgoing car.
Entry-level GLA 200 SE spec cars kick off the range, and is one of three petrol variants; the other two being the GLA 250 4Matic and the hot Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 4Matic. The diesels on offer are both all-wheel drive offerings; the GLA 200d 4Matic and new-to-the-range GLA 220d 4Matic. The former is the most frugal in the GLA range, giving claimed fuel economy of 67.3mpg and 108g/km CO2.
The three trim levels; SE, Sport and AMG Line trims remain, while the AMG GLA 45 is more stand-alone, at the top of the range at £46,875. Mercedes has made keyless start standard, as well as Apple Carplay. A reversing camera is now available, at £330, providing the customer opts for the £1695 Premium or £2995 Premium Plus packs.
Two special editions sit at opposite ends of the range; the £31,600 Whiteart Edition, which is based on the AMG Line GLA 200, and the Yellow Night Edition of the GLA 45, which tops the range at £53,135; this adds the yellow exterior trim seen on the Detroit motor show display car, amongst its upgrades.
The GLA has received an extra petrol engine option and new range-topping trim level as part of its 2017 facelift.
The refreshed car wears tweaked bumpers, a newly designed grille and different alloys. The old car’s optional bi-xenon headlights have been replaced by LED items.
New standard springs place the body 30mm higher than the outgoing car, giving it a more rugged look.
Added to the car’s engine range is a 220 petrol unit that produces 181bhp and 221lb ft of torque. It comes exclusively with 4Matic four-wheel drive and slots between the two existing petrol units, the 154bhp 200 and 211bhp 250, which remain unchanged in the facelifted car.
The diesel line-up is the same as before and contains 200d and 220d 4Matic options with 134bhp and 175bhp respectively, and up to 67.3mpg on offer.
As before, the cabin features an 8-inch infotainment system but there are new dials and needles behind the steering wheel. There’s also a chrome finish for the electric seat controls and centre console stowage compartment surround.
The GLA gains a new range-topper called Yellow Night Edition, which gets more standard kit than the previous top model, the AMG Line Premium Plus. Available on every variant of the 2017 GLA, Yellow Night Edition cars are painted in black with yellow highlights and sit on alloy wheels wearing the same colour scheme.
Artico leather and Dinamica microfiber material wrap the seats of Yellow Night Edition cars and are joined by an AMG Performance steering wheel in the cabin. Door sills, floor mats and air outlets are also finished with yellow highlights.
Elsewhere in the range, keyless entry and a 360-degree camera are new options. The most potent model, the AMG GLA 45, gets similar visual updates and retains its turbocharged 2.0-litre engine with 376bhp and 350lb ft of torque on offer. There are, however, shorter gear ratios for the car’s seven-speed dual clutch gearbox in gears three to seven.
UK pricing is yet to be revealed, but an increase of around £500 is expected on most models. That would bring the starting price for the 2017 GLA up to about £28,050. The AMG GLA 45 would start at about £46,050.
First deliveries of facelifted cars in the UK are expected to begin in April.
Renault was also investigated last year
Car maker’s share prices have fallen by 4.3% following allegations
The allegations have sent the French car maker’s share prices tumbling by 4.3%. They come a year after the car maker’s headquarters were raided following earlier emissions claims.
A statement released by Renault says: “Groupe Renault acknowledges the opening of judicial investigations on the ground of ”deceit on essential qualities and inspections conducted, these facts having led to the products being dangerous for the health of humans or animals”.
“Groupe Renault, which intends to protect its rights, reminds its constant position: Renault complies with French and European regulations. Renault vehicles are all and have always been homologated in accordance with the laws and regulations.”
“They are compliant with the applicable standards. Renault vehicles are not equipped with cheating software affecting anti-pollution systems. The States, European Commission, Regulation Authorities and automotive manufacturers all share the opinion that the requirements of the applicable regulations need to be strengthened. This is the purpose of the future Euro6d Regulation.”
Yesterday, reports said Fiat Chrysler was also being investigated in the US following similar accusations regarding its own diesel units.