Car review

Mercedes 2020 E class facelift

Mercedes-Benz E-Class has had one of the most comprehensive facelifts ever undertaken and will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show between 5th and 15th of March.

According to MB there are hundreds of detailed modifications to the fifth-generation model that first appeared in the showrooms in 2017.

The upgraded electrical system allows a number of new intelligent driver assistance systems with Level 2 capability and the latest in Car-to-X communications. This also provides the basis for an upgrade of the MBUX user interface used by the E-Class, bringing the latest in touch, speech and gesture controls together with a “Hey Mercedes” prompt that allows you to control various functions via conversational-style speech.

Changes to the interior of the facelifted E-Class include a new multi-function steering wheel, a new frameless rear-view mirror, revised trim applications and a touchpad infotainment.

Trim starts with Avantgarde as standard, with the more comprehensively equipped Executive and AMG lines as options.

You can opt for a four-wheel-drive E450 4Matic drivetrain with a turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder M256 petrol engine and a 48-volt electrical system and integrated starter motor to provide it with mild hybrid properties.

With 362bhp and 369lb ft of torque plus 21bhp and 132lb ft from an electric motor, the powerplant offers a very effective low to mid-range performance.

A new longitudinally mounted 2.0-litre engine will also be in the line up to conform to strict new EU7 emission regulations that are set to come into force by the middle of the decade. As well as being offered in standard form, it will also be offered in both mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid forms.

The diesel offering has more than 31-mile electric range using an upgraded version of the E300de with a larger lithium ion battery.

For the Chinese market, there is a long wheelbase version with a 31.2kWh battery from the GLE350de giving an electric range of more than 62 miles.

Suspension has been tuned to work better with the latest generation of Label A tyres, which helps with overall efficiency in terms of CO2 emissions.

Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Jacky Ickx Edition

Even beyond the realms of Porsche, Jacky Ickx is one of the greatest sports car drivers to have ever lived. But to the close-knit community of engineers and racers who worked with him in Weissach for the best part of a decade, he is a true icon.

To celebrate the Belgian maestro’s 75th birthday, and his invaluable contribution to Porsche’s sporting success through the Seventies and Eighties, the decision was taken to create a limited edition 911 in Ickx’s honour. The initiative for this came from the Belgian Porsche importer “D’ieteren”.

The idea took shape in 2018 with the arrival of the all-new 992. This would be the first special edition of the new model, turning to the talents of Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur to produce a unique creation that paid fitting homage to one of sportscar racing’s greatest talents. Experts from Style Porsche and the Belgian Porsche importer D’Ieteren also played a role in designing the latest Legend Edition.

The decision was made to base the design around Ickx’s trademark blue and white helmet. The car in a question, a 911 Carrera 4S, was therefore finished in a bespoke ‘X Blue’, making this the first 992 to receive Porsche’s coveted Paint To Sample. A badge showing the Belgian flag and Jacky Ickx’s signature on the driver-side B-pillar takes the driver designation already famous in the world of motorsport.

This unique colour has also made its way onto the 20/21inch Carrera Classic wheels. Offset by subtle white accents, they provide another reference to Ickx’s helmet, which traditionally features a fine white line around the visor. This detail required the use of advanced laser engraving by Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur.

The cabin is trimmed in black leather with Pebble Grey cross stitching on the dashboard, door panel and rear trim, all of which was painstakingly finished by hand. The ‘X’ shape of the stitching was chosen as another subtle reference to the man of the moment.

Other unique interior features include Pebble Grey piping on the 18-way Sports seats and ‘911’ lettering on the headrests, something that is not available on standard Carrera 4S models. The seat backs are also finished in leather – another unique detail of this new Legend Edition.

Other special design elements include a leather central armrest embossed with Ickx’s autograph and the ‘Belgian Legend Edition’ moniker on the car’s carbon door sill guards. Leaving no stone unturned, even the colour-matched key fob features the six-time Le Mans winner’s signature.

The Belgian Legend Edition is strictly limited to just 75 units, one for each year since Ickx’s birth, and will only be available in Belgium.

Porsche Taycan

The 2020 Porsche Taycan is the German maker’s sixth model line, its first-ever electric car, and remarkably expensive, starting at $152,250 for the Turbo and $186,350 for the Turbo S. Those are prices comparable to the similarly named models of the 911, its legendary sport coupe.

It rides on an entirely new platform, code-named J1, that will spawn both the Taycan Sport Turismo shooting-brake model and an Audi e-tron GT sedan. Those underpinnings carry over only a small number of existing Porsche components, including suspension pieces adapted from that of the Panamera large sedan.

Like all modern electric cars, the Porsche Taycan uses a thin battery pack under the floorpan that stretches the full width of the car almost from axle to axle. The four-door sedan on top of it is exceptionally low, so the engineers omitted cell modules under the rear-seat passengers’ legs to provide “foot garages” to give a more conventional riding position.

The Taycan Turbo and Turbo S models, the first variants to launch, both use a battery with 93 kilowatt-hours of capacity, slightly less than Tesla’s largest battery. It contains 33 modules of 12 LG Chem pouch cells apiece. The battery, motors, and power electronics are cooled by a pair of radiators at the front outboard corners of the car.

Porsche’s innovation has been to wire pairs of those cells in series, allowing the battery to discharge and charge at up to 800 volts—at the same current, enabling double the power versus the 400-volt packs used in all previous hybrids and electric cars. It’s derived in part from the company’s battery architecture for the 919 Hybrid endurance race car that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three years running.

Larger battery capacities will likely appear in future versions of the Taycan as the energy density of cells improves.

The Taycan Turbo and Turbo S models use two electric motors, one for each axle. The rear motor powers the wheels through a two-speed gearbox that uses a low ratio for maximum acceleration, and a higher ratio for more efficient high-speed cruising.

While Porsche uses the same front motor on both versions, its output is higher in the Turbo S due to use of a more powerful converter than the one used in the Turbo model.

The Taycan has three basic drive modes: Normal, Sport, and Range. The software for each varies the power delivery, rear-axle shift points, and use of regenerative braking to provide maximum performance (Sport) or greater distance capability (Range).

Porsche’s first electric car has two charge ports: a conventional 240-volt Level 2 port in the left front wing, plus a combined DC fast charging and Level 2 port on the right-front. (The arrangement is reversed for right-hand-drive markets.)

While 90 percent of Taycan charging will be done at home or work, one factor that separates the Taycan from other high-end battery-electric vehicles is the speed of its fast charging. The 800-volt battery architecture allows charging at up to 270 kilowatts on launch. Future Taycan models with larger batteries could charge at rates up to 400 or 500 kw, Porsche said, while 400-volt vehicles are limited to roughly the 250-kw peak rate.

Porsche notes that the Taycan can deliver its highest level of performance repeatedly, with no slowing down as the battery heats up and its capacity wanes. That’s something its competitors—which presently means Tesla—can’t promise.

Porsche pegs the Taycan Turbo at 616 horsepower—which rises to 670 hp with launch control—and 626 pound-feet of torque. The Taycan Turbo S also starts at 616 horsepower, but rises to 750 hp with launch control, and caps twist at 774 lb-ft of torque. Curb weight is substantial: 5,121 pounds for the Turbo, 5,132 pounds in Turbo S trim.

In terms of sheer acceleration, the Turbo will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds, and the Turbo S cuts that time to 2.6 seconds.

The Taycan shares a few suspension pieces with Porsche’s Panamera, but engineers had to adapt some of the front and rear suspension components because of the lower profile and added weight of the Taycan. The height of the front struts had to be reduced by a few centimeters. In the rear, a new subframe carries adapted Panamera control arms.

Rear-wheel steering adds 2.8 degrees of angle for tight turns at low speeds, and 0.1 to 0.2 degrees at high speeds to reduce wheel slip in turns.

An optional air suspension required a new three-chamber system with a separate pressure tank to fit under the low front end. Taycans with the air suspension lower themselves 10 millimeters at 90 km/h (56 mph) and another 12 mm at 180 km/h (112 mph). The driver can also raise the suspension 20 mm over rough surfaces.

The optional Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) system is adapted from that of the Panamera, but uses 48-volt actuation. It can reduce body roll under hard cornering to almost 0 degrees, as well as compensate for side-to-side body motion from surface irregularities.

Looked at for the first time, the Taycan could easily be the next-generation Panamera: a somewhat lower, sleeker, and wider sedan. Porsche notes it has the same width-to-height ratio as the iconic 911 sport coupe.

Absolutely nothing on the outside indicates that it’s powered by a battery rather than gasoline, save the two charge ports on the front wings and the absence of rear exhaust pipes.

But Porsche has worked extensively on its aerodynamics, putting thousands of hours into reducing wind drag to maximize the range of the 93-kwh battery. Smooth underbody panels run virtually the entire length of the car, for instance. A subtle depression running down the center of the roof shaves a millimeter or two off the car’s frontal area, and vertical vents in the front fenders direct air past the front wheels to reduce turbulence.

The result is a drag coefficient claimed to be a very low 0.22, though we should note different makers’ drag figures shouldn’t be directly compared since there’s no standard way to measure that statistic.

Nonetheless, the 2020 Porsche Taycan is extremely aerodynamic for a four-passenger sedan. It’s also fast, despite its weight, which is roughly 700 pounds higher than a Panamera of the same trim level (Turbo or Turbo S).

 

Bentley Mulsanne to end production

A flagship of the British car industry is to step down. After 10 years in its current version and 40 years in the history of the make, taking into account its first generation launched in 1980, the Bentley Mulsanne will disappear from the catalogue this Spring. The standard-bearer of the make and a unique interpretation of the luxury car of which only the British hold the secret, the Mulsanne will not be replaced, at least in the immediate future. The new Flying Spur, which is to be fitted with hybrid propulsion from 2023, is to take over the role of flagship.

Along with the Mulsanne, we must also bid farewell to its engine, the V8 6.75-litre Rolls-Royce-Bentley L-Series, in service since 1959. It too is a legend: in six decades, it has been upgraded umpteen times. In its latest incarnation, it develops 537 hp and 1100 Nm in the Mulsanne Speed, to shift this 5.58m-long 2.7 tonne cruise liner from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.1 seconds.

In order to fittingly celebrate this double retirement, Bentley is to create a special, and final, edition of the Mulsanne, the “6.75 Edition by Mulliner”. This last version will be based on the technical specifications of the Mulsanne Speed. Only 30 cars will leave the factory at Crewe from now until the end of production next Spring.

Aston Martin Valhalla

Adding to the firm’s line of ‘V-cars’ performance models, Valhalla is Aston Martin’s new mid-engined hypercar

Codename RB-003, the hybridised V6-powered road car takes its production name from the warriors’ paradise referred to in Norse mythology.

Aston Martin’s association with the letter V can be traced back to 1951, when the Vantage moniker was unofficially assigned to high-performance variants of the DB2 sports car. The tradition has been kept alive with subsequent Vantage, Virage, Vanquish and Valkyrie performance models.

The new model, is the second to be co-developed between Aston Martin and Red Bull Advanced Technologies in Milton Keynes and will bridge the sizeable gap in Aston’s fast-growing range of mid-engined models between the Valkyrie and the production Vanquish.

The Valhalla’s power and positioning – most likely with more than 1000bhp and the kind of performance that would threaten the Nürburgring lap record – would place it in contention with the new Ferrari SF90 Stradale and 250mph McLaren Speedtail.

The Valhalla will use Aston’s new twin-turbo V6 engine with electric assistance, and the car will be built around a carbonfibre architecture and carbonfibre bodywork. It will have the same principles as the Valkyrie with its all-carbonfibre tub but will be more usable.

The aerodynamics and tub construction filter down from the Valkyrie, and the new V6 powertrain from the Vanquish.

There is further technology transfer from the Valkyrie to the Valhalla through the active suspension and electronic systems, with Aston claiming the dynamic brief for the car is to be class-leading on both road and track.

The aerodynamics will not be as extreme as on the Valkyrie, but will in turn be more extreme than on the Vanquish. A high proportion of the aerodynamic work is done under the floor and through the large rear diffuser. The Valhalla also adopts aerospace aerodynamic morphing technology with a new variable airfoil called FlexFoil, which alters downforce without changing the physical angle as with an active rear wing, designed to improve aero performance and reduce wind noise, while also virtually eliminating turbulence and drag.

While the Valhalla adopts a look and ethos inspired by the Valkyrie, it does so while being more usable. The doors open out forwards and out of the roof, inspired by an LMP1 car, to improve ingress and egress. Unlike the Valkyrie, there is also luggage and storage space for oddments and a wider centre console to put more space between driver and passenger.

The cabin is unashamedly built around the driver and creating the perfect alignment between driver seat, steering wheel and pedals in what Aston calls ‘Apex Ergonomics’, with all major controls aligned for the driver and their eyeline. Instead of a traditional instrument binnacle, there is a small screen mounted directly on the steering column, with infotainment provided by what Aston calls ‘bring your own’, by simply mirroring a smartphone.

Aston has not quoted any key stats for the Valhalla beyond the engine configuration but, as with the Valkyrie and Vanquish, there has been an obsession with weight saving and optimised packaging. For example, all four headlights and tail-lights weigh less than one DB11 headlight, while 3D printing is used for parts big and small in the interior, including a centre console that weighs half of what it would using traditional construction methods.

Development of the Valhalla is ongoing in Milton Keynes, where Aston has a team of 130 people based within the Red Bull Advanced Technologies campus. The site is the home of development for Aston’s mid-engined models.

Price is predicted to be in the region of £1m

 

VW ID Space Vizzion

Volkswagen has previewed its plans for a new electric-powered crossover-style estate with the unveiling of the ID Space Vizzion

The new car, with a claimed range of up to 367 miles on the WLTP test cycle, is the eighth ID-branded concept revealed by the German firm, which has already laid out plans to produce up to one million EVs per year by the end of 2022.

The ID Space Vizzion is set to go into production at Volkswagen’s Emden plant in Germany in 2021. VW confirmed a version of the Space Vizzion car will also be produced in the USA and sold there from 2022 onwards.

The latest ID concept updates the more conceptual lines revealed on last year’s ID Vizzion saloon with various styling elements that help to link it visually with the latest Passat estate, including the shape of its headlights.

But whereas the design of the Passat is restricted by the space dedicated to mounting a combustion engine within its front end, the ID Space Vizzion takes advantage of the inherent packaging advantages of its electric driveline by having a relatively short bonnet and a lengthy cabin.

Drawing on the versatility of Volkswagen’s MEB electric car platform, the ID Space Vizzion is of a similar size to the A6 Avant with a 4958mm length, 1897mm width and 1529mm height.

With short overhangs front and rear, and 22in wheels, it also receives a lengthy, 2965mm wheelbase, providing scope for either a four- or five-seat layout and up to 586 litres of luggage space behind the second row of seats.

Inside, the new Volkswagen concept sports a clean and uncluttered interior devoid of physical switches and buttons. All controls are concentrated within touchscreen panels and displays, including those of the steering wheel, whose design has been inspired by that used by past Volkswagen models.

Its maker says the ID Space Vizzion can support both rear- and four-wheel drive. In rear-wheel-drive guise, it uses a rear-mounted electric motor developing 275bhp and 405lb ft of torque. In four-wheel-drive form, it also has a front-mounted electric motor that provides an additional 101bhp and 111lb ft. The combined system output for the four-wheel-drive version is put at 335bhp and 486lb ft.

Volkswagen quotes a 0-62mph time of 5.4sec and a governed top speed of 109mph for the four-wheel-drive variant, which is expected to form the basis of an even more powerful ID 5 GTX performance estate that’s due in 2022.

Energy for the electric motors is provided by a 82kWh lithium ion battery mounted within the floor. It can be charged to 80% of its capacity within 30 minutes using a 150kW system.

 

Nissan Ariya Concept

The Ariya Concept is 4.6m long and 1.92m wide – a bit shorter but a good deal wider than Nissan’s current X-Trail – yet the roofline is a good 100mm lower than that car. The firm claims it is signalling “a dawn of a new era for Nissan as it embarks to redefine its brand philosophy for the next evolutionary phase of the automobile”.

Despite its future-pointing status, however, the firm acknowledges that the “bold styling and unconventional interior and exterior elements” are to make it into production in the near future. To that end, a production model is due imminently. The long-mooted ‘Leaf SUV’, in effect – and the fact that the concept has been shown with conventional door handles and wing mirrors is a giveaway for just how much production intent the concept has.

The concept car is built on an all-new electric-only vehicle architecture that will be rolled out across the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance for future models. The architecture is modular, and allows for vehicles of multiple shapes and sizes, with different amounts of motors and battery packs.

The Ariya shows a strong hint at the design of future EVs. Inside, you can easily see the freedom the new EVP platform has given us.”

The Ariya takes clear inspiration from Nissan’s previous electric crossover concepts, such as the IMx and IMs, but appears more production-ready. Thin LED lights blend into the grille, itself a unique adaptation of the firm’s ‘V-motion’ design with an illuminated logo and geometric pattern. It hides a number of sensors for the car’s autonomous systems.

A steeply raked C-pillar give the Ariya a coupé-SUV profile, while there’s a one-piece tail-light across the tailgate. Nissan claims the Suisei Blue paint appears matt-like from afar, but thanks to embedded glass flakes produces light refractions up close. Copper colour is also used for the roof and wheels – a detail that Nissan boasts will be used on its future EVs.

The interior makes the most of a layout dominated by the lack of an internal combustion engine and flat floor above the battery pack. There’s a minimalist dash layout, with buttons only used for the climate control and keyless start, alongside a rotary dial for the 12.3in display. Thin frame seats boost visibility and space, while the rear seats are positioned to ensure a great view for all passengers.

Nissan is also showcasing its latest semi-autonomous systems with the Ariya. Rather than promising full autonomy well before it’s deliverable, the crossover’s ProPilot 2.0 tech allows “hands off single-lane driving capabilities” and hands-off cruising in a given lane, while it can judge the appropriate place to overtake based on navigation data.

Further technology includes the ability to sync with the driver’s schedule to pre-heat or cool the car ready for anticipated journeys, a Virtual Personal Assistant, a video chat function and over-the-air updates. It supports Nissan Energy, a function that would allow the car to power homes or even sell battery energy back to the grid when required.

Nissan hasn’t detailed the car’s electric powertrain beyond calling it a “high-performance, 100% electric drive system”. It uses dual motors, one mounted across each axle, to deliver all-wheel drive and power “equal to or better than many premium sports cars”. The firm also promises “excellent cornering performance and traction on slippery surfaces”.

The Ariya is expected to go on sale in early 2021.

 

Mercedes AMG One

Mercedes-AMG One is an upcoming hybrid hypercar powered by a 1.6-liter V6 hybrid engine with an eight-speed semi-automatic transmission. The car will have 1,021 horsepower, all-wheel drive, and two-person seating capacity.

The car uses its electric motors to spin the engine’s turbos, which helps eliminate turbo lag and increase acceleration. As a result, the car it will achieve a 0-60 mph time of 2.7 seconds, which is slightly slower than the Bugatti Chiron but faster than the McLaren Senna. AMG One’s top speed is said to be 217 mph.

Electric-only mode, will allow it to be driven on battery power only for up to 15 miles before gas engines need to engage.

Release has been delayed to because of Mercedes-Benz’s difficulties in adapting its Formula One-derived engine for road use. The 1.6-liter engine typically idles at 5,000 rpm for race use, but needs to be closer to 1,200 rpm for road use and needs to meet emissions regulations as well. Its projected price is expected to exceed $2.5 million.

Mercedes Maybach GLS

Mercedes-Benz has extended its Maybach line-up with a new 550bhp flagship version of the third-generation GLS.

Lining up alongside the S-Class-based Maybach saloon, the top-flight SUV is planned for UK delivery this year as a rival to the Bentley Bentayga and Range Rover, featuring a series of unique styling cues, a mild-hybrid drivetrain and an upgraded interior.

The new model invokes many of the styling elements seen on the S-Class Maybach to help distinguish it from the standard third-generation GLS.

Included is a distinctive chrome grille featuring vertical louvres, chrome highlights within the side window surrounds and along the sills, standard 22in (and optional 23in) wheels, an optional two-tone exterior paint scheme in eight different colour combinations, electrically extending running boards and chromed tail-pipes with a signature cross-rib.

Inside, the 5202mm-long Mercedes-Maybach GLS is an upgraded interior with nappa leather upholstery and unique trim elements. Among the long list of options for UK customers are reclining rear seats with a massage function and a fixed centre console with folding tables and a refrigerator in a four-seat layout that can be further enhanced with a panoramic sunroof. Boot capacity below the cargo blind at the rear is 520 litres. Reflecting its upper luxury positioning, the latest Maybach model also receives a long list of standard driving aids.

Mercedes-Benz’s most luxurious SUV will be offered from the outset of sales with just one drivetrain in the GLS 600 4Matic. The mild-hybrid unit combines a turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine with a 48V integrated starter motor to provide an overall output of 550bhp at 6000rpm and 538lb ft of torque from 2500-5000rpm. The electrically boosted reserves are channelled through a nine-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox and 4Matic all-wheel drive.

Mercedes-Benz claims a 0-62mph time for the 2710kg Maybach GLS 600 4Matic of 4.9sec. Top speed is limited to 155mph. Combined fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are put at 24.1mpg and 266g/km respectively on the WLTP cycle.

Underpinning the new top-of-the-line GLS model is a specially tuned version of Mercedes-Benz’s E-Active Body control suspension. Also included is a curve inclination function that allows the big new SUV to lean into corners to reduce the lateral forces acting on the occupants.

Ford Mustang

Mustang Mach-E is a practical family SUV offering 1,420 litres of boot space with the seats down – and 402 with them up, plus a handy front boot with a drainage system so you can hose out muddy boots and sandy beach gear (if it fits in the 100-litre space). It’s got the kind of performance original Mustang buyers could only dream about, with a 5.0-litre V8 and tuned versions available.

Thanks to the all-electric powertrain, it has 337hp and 565Nm on tap, and it’s rear-wheel drive as standard; yet Ford’s also targeting a 370 mile range from the largest 98.8kWh battery. A high performance model, the Mach-E GT, aims to reach 62mph in less than five seconds and deliver 465hp and an immense 830Nm.

Even though the Mach-E is a thoroughly practical electric car, Ford hasn’t neglected design, and claims to have retained strong links to the Mustang’s core identity. Taut, muscular flanks with distinct rear haunches and a series of power bulges on the bonnet retain some instantly-recognisable cues from current Mustang coupes, without sacrificing modern aerodynamic efficiency; the unusual door handles are particularly distinctive.

Clever optics mask the height needed to provide that capacious boot and ample rear seat space, literally drawing a fastback coupe profile onto a five-door shape. Two-tone finishes may be vital for this to work effectively, and on the road most people will probably miss the true shape of the rear roof and window.

Big on the outside means big on the inside, of course – and Ford has blended the futuristic vision of electric cars with some key elements of Mustang DNA to create an airy, but still sporty interior.

Mustang’s traditional dual-cowl dashboard is reduced to the barest of lines, allowing the large 15.5-inch touchscreen of Ford’s latest Sync infotainment to dominate the cabin, including the discrete, sound-bar like installation of B&O audio above the airvents.

Sync’s upgrades include cloud-based driver assistance, such as learning routines and routes, and Car-to-X communication for smart traffic updates. Simplifying the interface, there’s a conversational voice recognition system made possible by more than doubling the processing power.

An optional full-length panoramic glass roof makes the most of the minimalist dashboard and spacious rear seats, while providing improved solar insulation and sound suppression than previous tech.

Although novel for Ford, a lot of the connected technology featured on the Mustang Mach-E is what we have come to expect from premium electric cars. Smartphone integration including the ability to use the smartphone as a key, 150kW charging capacity and advanced driver assistance are all available, ensuring the Mach E is competitive with key rivals.

Ford’s partnership with Ionity yields a healthy number of FordPass connected chargers, Home charging will benefit from dedicated Ford Connected wallboxes, but there’s a domestic power cable included as well – giving 9 miles per hour of charging, vs 38 minutes for an 80% charge (around 250 miles) on a DC fast charger.

The Mach-E is a very different breed of the Mustang – it’s got a low centre of gravity, thanks in part to the substantial battery in the floor, and adaptive suspension using Ford’s MagneRide technology. Combined with Mach-E 4 all-wheel drive and Brembo Flexira braking, this electric Mustang should deliver surefooted performance on the best-equipped models.

Lotus Evija

The new Lotus Evija, an all-electric hypercar claimed to be “the most powerful production car in the world”, has entered its initial build phase at the company’s facility in Norfolk, UK.

An output of 1973bhp is promised, which is more than the 1888bhp Pininfarina Battista and Rimac C_Two, and the 1479bhp internally combusted Bugatti Chiron currently in production.

No more than 130 of the two-seat hypercars will be built, each priced at £2.04 million. “Target specifications” include four-wheel drive, 1254lb ft and torque vectoring, giving it a 0-62mph time of less than three seconds, a 0-186mph time of less than nine seconds and a top speed of 200mph-plus.

The Evija will be Lotus’s first new-model launch under Geely ownership, and is the maker’s first all-new model for more than a decade. It will be made at the company’s traditional home in Hethel, Norfolk, and will act “as a ‘halo’ for the rest of the Lotus range” both now and for “new Lotus performance cars to come”.

Codenamed Type 130, the Evija is low and broad, at 4.59m long, 2.0m wide and 1.12m high. According to Lotus, it “marks the beginning of a contemporary new Lotus design language”.

Around the overall design simplicity come some advanced aerodynamics which direct air flow over, under and through the car, creating a complex body shape with vast scoops running through the rear three-quarters, and exiting at the back.

Lotus hasn’t yet revealed how many electric motors the car will have or where they’ll be positioned, but its partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering – which is, among other things, the supplier of batteries to the Formula E grid – will be key to the Evija’s performance.

Lotus said the Evija will have a 70kWh battery, capable of being charged at up to 350kW, enabling an 18-minute charge with a WLTP range of around 250 miles. The charge port is at the rear of the car.

Construction is from carbonfibre, both for the chassis and the body. Light weight is core to all Lotus models and the Evija weighs several hundred kilos less than the Battista and C_Two are reported to be, although they have more battery capacity. Even so, at 1680kg, the Evija is likely to become the heaviest Lotus ever. Despite this, Lotus boldly claims it will “set a new standard for Lotus driving performance” and be “the most dynamically accomplished road car in the history of Lotus”.

Inside, the carbonfibre construction remains visible in what’s a relatively spacious cockpit. The start point is a floating beam, this open instrument panel you can place your hand right through. The inspiration came from classic racing cars, from the 1950s and ’60s, in which you can see the structure. In those days it would have been tubular, but on Evija it’s carbonfibre.

Maserati Alfieri

Maserati will launch its long-awaited Alfieri sports car at the 2020 Geneva motor show,

The model was first previewed as a concept car back in 2014 and the big gap means radical changes: it will come with a choice of three different electrified powertrains as Maserati looks to position itself as both a high-tech performance car maker and the technology leader in the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) group.

However, the production version of the two-seater will not follow until 2021/22. The time will be taken in the meantime to launch updated versions of the Ghibli, Quattroporte and Levante.

They, too, will then be replaced with new versions by the end of 2022 and those new versions will also each come with a fully electrified powertrain option alongside mild- and plug-in hybrids.

The powertrain options on the Alfieri will include an electric version, which will use a tri-motor, four-wheel drive system with torque vectoring and 800V battery technology, and a plug-in hybrid.

Maserati believes that it is one of a few brands that can make a commercial success of electrified drivetrains in the medium term.

Audi e-tron GT

The Audi e-tron GT, sister car to the Porsche Taycan, will be the third of Audi’s stand-alone electric models, following the E-tron and the E-tron Sportback.

The sleek, A7-sized model will be the flagship of Audi’s electric line-up, falling under the custody of the brand’s Audi Sport performance arm.

It will offer 248 miles of range on the WLTP cycle and, most notably, be capable of charging at 350kW. This will dramatically reduce charging times, meaning that an 80% fast charge will be achievable in under 20 minutes. Currently, a similar level charge takes more than double that time.

For at-home charging, as well as using a traditional cable, Audi will offer a wireless charging option via an induction plate.

The GT concept’s two synchronous motors, one at the front and one at the rear, produce a collective 582bhp power output, enabling it to accelerate from 0-62mph in 3.5sec with a top speed of 149mph. Torque is transferred to the wheels via the quattro permanent all-wheel drive with torque vectoring.

The GT’s 96kWh battery takes up the entire underfloor area between the front and rear axles, giving the car a centre of gravity comparable to the R8.

There is also all-wheel steering, all of which creates a sports car-like agility and precision. The 96kWh battery is the perfect combination for performance, charging time and range.

The E-tron GT is set to use the same J1 platform as the recently unveiled Porsche Taycan, which employs a flat battery, suitable for a low-sitting performance car.

The body is made from a mixture of aluminum, high-strength steel and carbonfibre.

Inside, the GT has a 3D dashboard, which has a touchscreen integrated, so if it’s not being used, it blends into the dash. The steering wheel is flat at the top and bottom; while a flat-bottom wheel is in existing RS models, the feature at the top and bottom will only appear in future electric RS cars.

The model also uses vegan materials as an alternative to leather. There is synthetic leather on seats, fabrics from recycled fibres on seat cushions, and the floor mats are made from used fishing nets.

There are two storage compartments, a 450-litre boot (equivalent to an Audi A4) and another 100 litres under the bonnet.

The model will be built at Böllinger Höfe, Germany, where the R8 is currently made. Pricing is expected to come close to £100,000.

Koenigsegg Gemera

Koenigsegg has never been shy in its ambitions and now the company claims to have created an entirely new category of car. The Koenigsegg Gemera is billed as the world’s first Mega-GT, a car for four people and their luggage with well in excess of 1,000bhp and better environmental credentials than a pure EV when its internal combustion engine is run on biofuel. Koenigsegg does come up with some wacky creations.

The Gemera is powered by the company’s camshaft-less 2.0-litre, three-cylinder twin-turbo Freevalve engine, nicknamed the TFG or ‘Tiny Friendly Giant’. This alone produces 600bhp and 600Nm (442lb ft) of torque. Three electric motors – one for each rear wheel and another on the engine’s crankshaft – take total outputs to 1,700bhp and 3,500Nm (2,580lb ft).

This means four people, each with heated and cooled cupholders, in-car internet, front and rear infotainment, wireless phone charging and memory foam seats can be shot to 62mph in 1.9 seconds on the way to 248mph. Zero to sixty-two in one point nine seconds. All-wheel-drive, torque vectoring and rear-wheel-steering are all on hand to rein in and direct the surfeit of power.

Recognisably a Koenigsegg from the fighter-pilot style wraparound windscreen, floating roof and general air of otherworldliness. Koenigsegg’s trademark doors are also present but are extra-long in order to provide access to the back seat and dubbed Koenigsegg Automated Twisted Synchrohelix Actuation Doors (KATSAD).

Just 300 Koenigsegg Gemeras will be built. Surely there can’t be a more economical and faster way of propelling you and your family towards the horizon?

 

McLaren 720S

The McClaren 720S becomes the first car to replace a model in McLaren’s line-up and it’s the first of 15 new-generation models.

With bold sales targets and a new £50 million UK chassis factory recently unveiled to help realise McLaren’s ambitions, there is a huge weight of expectation on the 720S.

The mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive supercar – codenamed P14 – was actually conceived alongside the development of the 650S and promises to encapsulate the very best elements from McLaren’s illustrious line-up: the usability of the 570GT, the thrills of the 675LT and, perhaps, the pace of the P1 hypercar.

The 650S – itself a glorious mutation of (but not a replacement for) the admirable but imperfect MP4-12C – has been comprehensively reworked, including a complete rethink of the structure of the car, to create the 720S.

The new carbon fibre chassis, dubbed Monocage II, now incorporates an upper structure and chassis surround, making the car stronger and lighter than the 650S, and aerodynamic efficiency is double that of its predecessor.

The revised suspension – Proactive Chassis Control II – gets improved sensors and a more conventional set-up with a hydraulically connected damper system that means there’s no need for anti-roll bars. It should also offer some sideways thrills, thanks to the debut of McLaren’s Variable Drift Control.

As for the engine, the 3.8-litre lump from the 650S is now a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8, made from a host of new components and producing 710bhp (720PS) and 568lb ft of torque.

In this modern era of breath-taking supercars, the 720S is priced against the ferociously entertaining and currently class-leading Ferrari 488 GTB.

However, its performance figures suggest that it should compete in another price bracket entirely. No directly comparable track time figures have been officially released, but there’s every chance that all of these upgrades could make the 650S’s successor as quick as a McLaren P1.

Pininfarina Battista

The Pininfarina Battista is the most powerful road-legal car ever to come out of Italy. Thanks to a 120 kWh lithium ion battery pack, the Pininfarina Battista produces approximately 1,900bhp and 1,696 torques. And because of the unique properties of e-motion, it’s enough to give Formula One car-style acceleration. Zero to 62mph takes sub-two seconds, 186mph in less than 12.

Founded in 1928, Pininfarina is Italy’s most famous automotive design house, creator of cars for Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia to name but a few. Its first post-war creation, 1946’s Cistitalia 202, is one of only nine cars to live in the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Automobili Pininfarina is hoping to benefit from the company’s history into a standalone success. It’s a new company, located in Munich, that sits parallel to the established Pininfarina SpA based in Cambiano, near Turin. The project follows the company’s 2015 acquisition by Indian industrial giant Mahindra, which paid around £125m. The plan is to build a total of 150 Battistas at a cost of approximately £2m each, and it sees itself ‘as a pioneer in the luxury EV space’.

The car itself uses a carbon fibre monocoque, with the batteries housed behind the occupants and along the sides in a T format. The electrical architecture is being co-developed with Rimac (itself 10 per cent owned by Porsche, and a supplier to Aston Martin, Renault, and others). It’s still heavy, of course but Pininfarina insists the layout delivers the optimum weight distribution: with four motors feeding power and torque to each wheel, it also features torque vectoring, though 1,900bhp is a challenge. Ex-F1 driver Nick Heidfeld is currently grappling with that one, along with former Porsche, Pagani and Bugatti chassis guru Dr Peter Tutzer. Braking is by carbon ceramic discs and six-piston calipers, 390mm diameter at the front, 380mm at the rear. Its range is likely to be around 300 miles, 80 per cent of which can be replenished in 40 minutes on a rapid charger.

The cockpit features a ‘vanishing point’ aspect to the main display and a futuristically driver-centric layout. The interior is covered in the finest materials, although expect to see fashionable recycleable materials rather than leather. Each car can be personalised to whatever degree the client seeks to achieve.