The Land Rover Defender is back, sort of

Land Rover Defender Works V8 2It was a sad day back in 2016 when Land Rover finally announced the death of the legendary Defender, a car that had been at the top of its league since 1945. The Defender was killed off due to emissions and safety concerns that made the Defender too expensive to continue making. Weirdly however Land Rover announced today the release of a new V8 Defender. Built to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Land Rover, the Land Rover Defender Works V8 is pretty much the same car that ceased production back in 2016, but this time comes with a 5.0 litre V8.

That big 5.0 litre V8 means that this defender is actually the fastest Defender ever, with a 0-62 time of just 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 106MPH, quick for what is essentially a shed on wheels. That modern V8 is teamed with an 8 speed automatic transmission with sport mode, another first for a Defender. The Defenders underpinnings have also been upgraded to cope with the abuse of that new engine, the Works Defender comes with uprated brakes, springs, dampers and anti roll bars.

Tim Hannig, Jaguar Land Rover Classics director said: “The Idea of reintroducing a V8 Defender was something we were discussing as far back as 2014, when we were still building the Defender in Solihull. We knew the demand was there for a powerful and fast Defender; the Land Rover authenticity is the ultimate finishing touch for discerning clients purchasing these collector’s edition Defenders.”

Whilst little has changed on the outside of the Works Defender V8 other than a new fuel filler cap and some shiny new aggressive alloys the interior has been swathed in leather and the seats have been replaced with sports style Recaro seats. Both 90 (short wheelbase) and 110 (long wheel base) versions of the Land Rover Defender Works V8 will be built with prices starting at £150,000 for the special edition 90.

What do you think of the new Land Rover Defender Works V8, let us know in the comments.

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Car of the year 2017

So 2017 is over and done with which means it’s time for me to name my car of the year. The overall theme of last year seems to have been one of surprises, many car companies changed their ways last year and brought out cars that were surprisingly good as is evidenced by this list. The competition has been one of the fiercest ever and it was a struggle to come up with just 5 cars to make the list but I persevered and here we go.

McLaren 720S

  1. McLaren 720S

The McLaren 720S is an amazing car that beats the world in its segment and even challenges cars in much higher areas. Better than the Ferrari 488 and the Lamborghini Huracan, the 720S manages to continue McLarens dominance of the super car market. But the 720S doesn’t reach higher on the list because it does exactly what McLaren has done since their return to the road car game. All previous McLaren road cars have been world-beaters, the MP4-12C beat the Ferrari 458, the 650S beat the 488 the McLaren 720S should beat the world because that’s exactly what it was built to do, but nowadays beating the world seems just to easy for McLaren.

Kia Stinger

  1. Kia Stinger

In my introduction I talked about surprises, one of the biggest surprises of the year was the rise of Kia, a company more commonly known by their reliable yet boring hatchbacks. The Kia Stinger is an off shoot for the Korean company and one many may have missed purely because of the relatively humdrum badge on the front. Whilst the Stinger may not be a match for the big boys of the super saloon world like the Audi RS4 and BMW M3 the little Stinger is easily a match for the lesser S4 and 330i. The little Stinger is a step in the right direction for Kia and has brought them to the forefront of the motoring world, 2018 will certainly be a year of growth for the company and its exciting to see what they’ll come up with next.

Bugatti Chiron

  1. Bugatti Chiron

When we talk about world-beaters there’s only really one name in the conversation. The Veyron was one of the greatest cars ever made and its sequel is certainly something to worry about. The Chiron is an incredible machine, faster than the Veyron and possibly even prettier. Other companies from around the world have beaten its top speed but many of those are just stripped out racers, the Chiron is one of the fastest cars in the world but also one of the most luxurious, leather and carbon fibre team to create on of the nicest interior I have ever seen. The Bugatti Chiron is special because it dominates in both luxury and speed, whilst the handling may be compromised by its incredible power, its presence cannot be understated

Hyundai i30 N

  1. Hyundai i30 N

Who would have ever thought a Hyundai would be higher on this list than a Bugatti? Well this Hyundai isn’t just any old Hyundai, it’s the greatest car the company has ever made. Hyundai’s first foray into the fiercely competitive hot hatch market is a successful one, whilst the little i30 N is unlikely to keep up with the likes of the Golf R and Civic Type R the i30 N is much more of a match for the lower grade Golf GTI, its power and handling are much better than expected from the budget brand. The i30 N is yet another example of Hyundai’s desperation to be accepted as a serious contender in the hot hatch market, it’s a step in the right direction certainly but the lacklustre interior falls far behind that of the Germans meaning it only reaches second on my list.

Alpine Vision

  1. Alpine A110

When I first heard of the return of the long since forgotten Alpine brand I thought, “oh great another attempt to rekindle a brand nobody cares about that will eventually fail.” And when I heard about the new A110 sports car coming from the company I thought, “it’ll just be a badly built kit car with second hand Renault parts” but I’m glad to say I was wrong both times. The Alpine A110 is another of the retro remakes that we’ve seen in the likes of the VW Beetle and Fiat 500 but this is the first time we’ve seen a reimagined sports car. The A110 is going up against stiff competition in the form of the new 718 Cayman, and whilst being less powerful with only 249BHP compared to the 718’s 361BHP the Alpine weighs less meaning 0-60 times are similar of around 4.5 seconds. I didn’t want to like the Alpine I thought is was going to be a cheap money grab by Renault but the little A110 is a fantastically handling sports car that can take on the world which is why it has won my car of the year for 2017.

Congratulations Alpine

What were your highlights of 2017 let me know in the comments.

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Fiat Punto is the first car to get zero stars by Euro NCAP

Fiat Punto Euro NCAPThe Fiat Punto is getting on in years now, the current version of the Italian super mini has been on sale for 12 years. As time goes by technology improves and the motor industry is one of the fastest moving, when the Punto was originally released in 2005 it was the first car to achieve Euro NCAP’s highest rating of 5 stars. However standards have improved over the following 12 years resulting in the Punto becoming out dated and dangerous. When it was recently retested the Punto achieved 0 stars, making it the first to get 5 and 0 stars.

Fiat Punto Crash TestAn FCA spokesperson brushed aside the statistics to try to maintain focus on the Fiat Chrysler groups more current offerings: “Safety is of the utmost importance to the FCA group. When Punto was launched 12 years ago, it was the first 5* EURO NCAP car in its class.  The importance of safety to the FCA group is demonstrated by the number of new models achieving 5*, for example Alfa Romeo Giulia, Alfa Romeo Stelvio and the Jeep Compass.” Fiat are yet to comment on what measures the company will take to rectify the situation.

Fiat Punto Crash test 2To demonstrate the severity of the situation the Dacia Duster was also recently tested and achieved 3 stars, with a Dacia spokesperson claiming: Aiming for four or five stars would have meant equipping Duster with a range of recent driving aids and technology and that would have made the car more expensive and more complex to drive.” Meaning that the Fiat Punto is suffering from a severe case of out datedness. Euro NCAP secretary general said: “This is perhaps the strongest example of a manufacturer continuing to sell a product that is well past its best-before date at the expense of the unsuspecting car buyer. We would urge consumers to choose cars with the most up-to-date five-star ratings, many examples of which we have seen in 2017.”

MK4 Golf Euro NCAPResults such as this do make you question the safety of other old cars on the road. I for one am thinking about how safe my own MK4 VW Golf is, originally a 4 star car I suspect under the current safety regulations my Golf would also be a 0 star car as well if not worse.

What do you think about the Fiat Punto’s safety score let us know in the comments.

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BMW reveal the new i8 roadster and refreshed coupe

BMW i8 1Rumours have been swirling for years about the convertible i8, those rumours intensified when spy shots of early prototypes were spotted winter testing. But now finally BMW have unveiled the convertible BMW i8. The i8 has always been a fantastic looking car and the new i8 roadster is possibly even better looking. The i8 roadster also heralds a mid cycle refresh for the original coupe from 2014.

BMW i8 2The worlds best selling hybrid sports car not only gains a visual update but is also on the receiving end of a technological upgrade, the electric motor gets a power increase of 12bhp bringing electrical power up to 143bhp. This is thanks to upgrades in battery technology, which means that the i8’s electrical range has also increased to 34 miles (33 For the roadster). That added horsepower means when combined with the 1.5 litre 3-cylinder petrol motor the i8 now has 374bhp and 320Nm of torque, powering the hybrid sports car to a top speed of 155MPH. That added boost in power also results in a quicker 0-62 time of just 4.4 seconds for the coupe and 4.6 for the roadster.

BMW i8 5A lightweight design was key in making sure the roadster version of the i8 was just as capable as its coupe brother. The i8 roadster comes with a whole host of carbon fibre upgrades to ensure the i8 roadster maintains its lightweight design ideals. The doors, windscreen frame, side skirts and sections of the body are all carbon fibre, this means that the i8 roadster has minimal weight gain of just 60KG more than the coupe, with a weight of 1595KG.

BMW i8 6The new i8s also receive a number of safety upgrades including cruise control with a braking function, and a driving assistant known as surround view, a system which comprises of a collision and pedestrian warning with a city braking function, park distance control, high beam assist and speed limit info with a no passing information display. The i8 also features new Laser headlights which BMW say are non-dazzling with a range of 600 metres, double that of BMW’s LED headlights featured on other models.

BMW i8 4Another new addition to the BMW i8 is an acoustic pedestrian warning system, this system projects a sound similar to that of a turbine up to 18MPH to make sure pedestrians hear the i8 coming when road or wind noise wouldn’t be sufficient. The system is an interesting addition and one that could be necessary in the future of silent electric cars and should be one that other manufactures consider implementing in their own vehicles to avoid the silent killer electric car headlines.

BMW i8 3The i8s mid cycle refresh and the introduction of the long awaited roadster have certainly gathered headlines for BMW, but I feel that the visual refresh could have been much more exaggerated, to bring the i8 up to date. Whilst the i8 doesn’t look old in any sense of the word, it is starting to look current. The introduction of new modern supercars such as the McLaren 720S and Ferrari 812 Superfast have resulted in the i8 looking modern rather than ahead of the curve like it was back in 2014. A much more aggressive restyling could have resulted in the i8 being coveted rather than being just another hybrid sports car.

The new i8 and i8 roadster will be available in January 2018 for a price tag of £112,730 for the coupe and £124,730 for the roadster

Tesla unveil the planned 2020 Roadster

Tesla Roadster 2Wow you take a weeks break and the whole car world goes insane. Tesla announced during a press conference for the reveal of their new truck that there would be a new Tesla Roadster in 2020. Whilst that’s a long way off Elon Musk was able to give us some stats for the new electric sports/ super car. 0-60 in 1.9 seconds and a top speed in excess of 250MPH. Not only that but Musk also announced that the new Tesla Roadster would have a range of 620 miles, better than any other electric car on the market today.

Tesla Roadster 3Now I’m not going to be the one to call Musk a liar but all of this does seem a bit farfetched. Especially as Tesla has been losing money year after year, the Model 3 production schedule is a mess and Musk has already talked of the existence of numerous new models coming in the next few years, we have the Model Y (a 4×4 SUV based on the Model 3) a truck, a minibus and a pickup. And that’s not including the Tesla Gigafactory, which is still being built (it started in 2014). The Gigafactory is supposedly meant to be up and running next year.

Tesla Roadster 1The new Roadster (if it ever happens) will go on sale at a price of £188,000, but Musk plans on taking preorders of £38,000 in the near future. The Roadsters fictional stats are faster than any Bugatti, but we’ve heard this from companies before. They announce the stats before even seeing if it’s possible. Tesla are at the forefront of the electric revolution, they need to be careful if they want to pull this off. The number of stories of problems with Tesla seems to be increasing and the industry is waiting for Tesla to make a mistake and to destroy the electric future.

What do you think of the upcoming Roadster, let us know in the comments.

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Lamborghini Terzo Mellennio revealed Coming soon?

Lamborghini Terzo Mellenio 18The first of the big names has revealed their vision for a fully electric super car. Lamborghini unveiled the Terzo Mellenio, a fully electric super car built to look at the future of what the super car can be. The Terzo Mellenio is just a concept and not built for production any time soon, but Lamborghini say the Terzo Mellenio is built to investigate the technologies that they may use in the future including energy storage systems, innovative materials, propulsion system, visionary design, and emotion. So whilst the future Lambo super cars wont look like this it may feature some of the tech we see on it.

So whats so special about the Terzo Mellenio, well the Terzo Mellenio features a unique power storage system. Rather than the conventional batteries we see in the likes of Teslas the Terzo Mellenio is designed to use super capacitors a new innovation in the car world, Lamborghini first started developing super capacitors on the Aventador. The Terzo Mellenio also saw the announcement of a partnership between Lamborghini and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) to develop future power sources and materials needed to further the super car world.

Lamborghini are also working on a way to create a carbon fibre body capable of storing energy, essentially turning the whole car into an energy storage device. Lamborghini’s work with MIT is their attempt to protect their future, they are trying to innovate further into the future than anyone else, they are going beyond batteries to develop an electric car capable of beating the world, but also capable of changing the world.

The Lamborghini Terzo Mellenio is nothing but a concept, we will never see anything like it approach production for a long time, while it looks awesome and the technology behind it is incredible it is merely an idea of what Lamborghini are headed towards. The Terzo Mellenio is similar to the BMW concepts released showing their new 100 years plan, Lamborghini could be planning something much further away though, especially as Terzo Mellenio translates to third millennium.

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Honda Sports EV concept unveiled at Tokyo motor show

Honda Sports EV 1

Honda unveiled the surprisingly likable Urban EV at the recent Frankfurt motor show, and its looking like it was the first of a series of concepts as at this years Tokyo motor show Honda unveiled the Sports EV, a sleek coupe with similar styling accents to the little Urban EV. The Sports EV is an electric sports car designed to show where Honda is looking to go in the future.

Honda Sports EV 3The Urban EV was also announced to be going into production in 2019, the quick turnaround is a sign that the Sports EV could be expected as early as 2020, to head up Honda’s electric division. The Sports EV shares the same white paint scheme as the Urban and also carries over the simple design of the head and taillights. The Sports EV is similar in size to the Mazda MX5 leading people to believe it will be in a similar performance bracket rather than more powerful cars like the Mercedes SLC and the Jaguar XK.

Honda Sports EV 2Whilst no performance specs have been released for the Sports EV, Honda insiders have talked of a 150 mile range for the Urban so a similar spec is expected for the little sports car. The Sports EV joins Honda’s range of sports cars with the likes of the NSX and S660. The little electric sports car is a sign of where Honda is headed to, the increased pressure to release electric cars is threatening all car manufacturers and the Sports EV is what we should come to expect to see in the future.

Honda Sports EV 4On the whole I like the little Sports EV, just as I liked the Urban EV. Its styling takes much less inspiration from cars and more from things like the iPod with its smooth white finish with no aggressive styling or aerodynamic attachments, maybe Honda could learn a thing or to and transfer these ideas to the current Civic Type R.

What do you think of the Honda’s family of electric vehicles, let us know in the comments.

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Mini take inspiration from the 1275 GT in the 1499GT

Mini 1499 GT 9Mini have shown off the newest addition to the range, the 1499 GT. The new model is designed to celebrate the 1275 GT model from the original range. The new 1499 GT uses a turbocharged 1.5 litre 3 cylinder engine producing 101BHP, the same engine as the rest of the base Mini range. The 1499 GT 0-62 time is the same as the rest of the base level Minis, 10.1 seconds.

Mini 1499 GT 4So what’s different about the new Mini then, well the new 1499 GT is only available in two colours, white or black. The Black model features exclusive decals in gold, whilst the white version gets the same decals in black. The Mini 1499 GT also gets the front and rear bumpers and the spoiler from the top end JCW Mini. The key part of the Mini 1499GT is the JCW Mini suspension it gets. Making this Mini more than just a visual upgrade.

Mini 1499 GT 7The Mini 1499 GT is on sale now for £16,990 and Mini are expecting the 1499 examples to sell out quickly. But is it worth it? Not really the handling of the standard Mini is exceptional, is the JCW better yes but it’s not life changing. The 1499 GT is designed to celebrate the 1275 GT, my personal favourite Mini. What was special about the 1275 GT was the bigger engine than the standard 998CC. To keep the base model engine in this supposedly special edition gives the view that this is just an on paper upgrade and has no real significant value to the Mini brand. Nothing is new on the 1499 GT its just a new combination from existing Mini parts.

What do you think of the Mini 1499GT, let us know in the comments.

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Dyson to build an electric car

James DysonWell known vacuum cleaner maker Dyson is looking to get into the car making business.  Inventor and company founder Sir James Dyson revealed the plans late last month with the car to go on sale in 2020. Dyson says its intensions are to reduce air pollution from the source: “I committed the company to develop new battery technologies. I believed that electrically powered vehicles would solve the vehicle pollution problem.”

electric-chargineThe new comer to the car market has stated they aim to use solid-state batteries, an improvement over the commonly used Lithium ion batteries in most electric cars today. The advantage of the solid-state batteries is that they are quicker to charge and have a higher energy density. They also run cooler and could potentially produce more power.

Tesla Model SDyson say that rather than a mass-market vehicle they aim to produce a car similar to its other products aimed at the technologically minded, ie: a premium market car similar to Tesla and Porsche. Dyson is not the first tech builder to go into the car market, both Apple and Google are in the race to build an electric car. Dyson has slowly been building up his car making team with a combination of car-maker executives and Dyson engineers, his team is said to have reached almost 400 people.

SmogNo stats of the car or even any design plans have been revealed as of yet but Dyson has said that the car will be built close to battery suppliers to limit costs. During the announcement Sir James Dyson took numerous shots at the UK government and other car manufactuers over the numerous ‘clean diesel’ claims they have made in the past, all of which led up to the emissions scandal: “Governments around the world have encouraged the adoption of oxymoronically designated ‘clean diesel’ engines through subsidies and grants. Major auto manufacturers have circumvented and duped clean air regulations. As a result, developed and developing cities are full of smog-belching cars, lorries and buses. It is a problem that others are ignoring.”

Google carPersonally I don’t see this project reaching anywhere, many tech companies have tried to get into the car business even going back to before the electric car was on everyone’s mind. None have been able to compete with the might of the car industry, Tesla is one of the few to break through because its sole intention was to make a car, rather than spreading their assets around making phones, search engines or vacuum cleaners.

What do you think of the Dyson making a car, will it suck (sorry I had to) let us know in the comments.

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The McLaren Ultimate vision to appear in Gran Turismo Sport

 

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Gran Turismo is one of the best selling and most loved racing games ever, its continued innovation and development of the genre has seen many manufactures join its roster of cars (This year Porsche join the crew). Some special car makers have also seen revolutionary concepts made exclusively for the game, companies such as Bugatti, Volkswagen, Red Bull, Lexus and even Alpine have all seen amazing video game based racing concepts, some are even recreated in the real world. The next in line for the Vision Gran Turismo treatment is McLaren, who will see their ultimate vision of a racing car come to fruition in the upcoming Gran Turismo Sport.

 

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Whilst the McLaren Ultimate Vision will sadly remain on a TV screen it is said to be a look at what McLaren could produce beyond 2030. The virtual McLaren concept features a unique driving position more similar to a bike than that of a car, it sees you leaning forwards as close to the front wheels as possible. Of course in the virtual world anything is possible so McLaren’s Ultimate Vision comes with over 1100BHP and 1275Nm of torque all from a 4.0 litre V8 teamed with an electric motor, and it weighs a mere 1000KG. The McLaren Ultimate Vision is also all wheel drive.

 

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“More than anything though, the McLaren Ultimate Vision Gran Turismo is a stunning looking car. The design form communicates exactly what the car’s mission is and what its intentions are: it’s the ultimate expression of the McLaren design pillars and principles we have already established.” – McLaren Design director Rob Melville

Gran Turismo Sport is to launch on October 17th and I will be doing a full on head to head between it and Forza Motorsport 7.

What do you think of the McLarens Virtual Ultimate Vision concept car, let us know in the comments.

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