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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What to look forward to in 2018

BMW 8 Series 1

So as 2017 draws to a close we start to look forward at what’s to come in 2018 we’ve already seen a lot of what’s on the way thanks to the numerous motor shows and unveilings companies have had over the past 12 months so here my list of the top five cars to look forward to in 2018.

BMW Z4 2018 15. BMW Z4

BMW revealed the long awaited new Z4 convertible at this years Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance, it received a lot of praise for its departure from the previous generations folding hardtop roof design and its visual similarities to the also recently revealed BMW 8 Series. The engines haven’t been officially released but are expected to be a 2.0 litre 4 cylinder and a 3.0 litre 6 cylinder, and possibly a 3.5 litre 6 cylinder for the M-Sport version. Sadly we are unlikely to see a Z4M due to low sales of the E85 M version. This is also likely to be the reason why we never saw an M version for the E89 Z4. The new Z4 is also expected to release during the summer months with a price tag of around £35,000.

Mercedes A class4. Mercedes A-Class

Things have been looking up for Mercedes since their revamp a few years back. When they unveiled the newly reworked A-Class as a sporty little hatchback in 2012 Mercedes finally had a hot hatch that could compete with the likes of the BMW 1M and the Ford Focus RS, and Mercedes have revealed a much more radical car to take on the world in 2018. Its much more angular than its predecessor leading many to believe the new A-Class could receive an even faster upgrade than the already mental A45 AMG.

Jaguar I-Pace 73. Jaguar I-Pace

The Jaguar I-Pace was revealed at the start of the year and follows on from Jaguars previous embarks into the SUV market with the F-Pace and E-Pace. The I-Pace will be the first of the Jaguar electric cars to take to the roads in 2018. Looking to take on the Tesla Model X the I-Pace is a high riding sleek cross-over vehicle expected in mid 2018. The I-Pace will be the first car Jaguar launches that uses technology from their recent trip into the world of Formula E. Whilst its unlikely the I-Pace will use much of the motorsports tech the electric motors and systems will be very much similar.

BMW Concept 8 Series2. BMW 8 Series/ M8

Another entry on this list for BMW. BMW’s next flagship GT car the 8 Series makes a welcome return from its 90’s heyday. The new 8 Series and its sister car the M8 are two of the most eagerly awaited cars of 2018. With tough competition in the form of the new Bentley Continental GT and Porsche 911 Turbo the M8 is expected to release with a tuned version of the previously mentioned G30 M5’s 4.4 litre V8 with horsepower numbers expected to stretch past the 600BHP mark. Available in both hardtop and convertible forms the new BMW 8 Series and M8 will be available towards the end of 2018.

Land Rover DC1001. Land Rover Defender

The Long awaited replacement for the Defender has been expected to land in 2018, although its not known if that will be in concept form or a full road going model. The Defender is one of the greatest cars in history and I don’t envy the designers trying to follow up with it. We haven’t seen any concepts for the new Defender since the DC100 from 2011 but both Range Rover and Land Rovers design language has changed significantly since that concept 7 seven years ago. There have been a number of spy shots of a shortened Evoque bodied car that many suspect is a development model for the new Defender but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Oh! and Merry Christmas.

What are you waiting for in 2018, 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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The Big three: Gran Turismo Sport vs Forza Motorsport 7 vs Project Cars 2

McLaren Ultimate Vision 8A lot of young peoples first entrance into the car world isn’t through a garage or a drag strip but through a computer screen. The virtual car world is as big if not bigger than the real one, and this year saw three new big titles come out and I’m about to tell you which ones best.

Forza Motorsport 7

Forza Motorsport 7 is an incredible looking game, its weather effects are second to none. Wind and rain battering down means the track not only visually changes but the way your car reacts changes, braking distances get longer, huge puddles cause you to aquaplane and you can’t put all your power down coming straight out of a corner. FM7 has the most diverse car list of the three games, with everything from a Ford hot rod to full on Lemans racers. But with that diversity comes issues, thanks to Forza Motorsports sister franchise, Forza Horizon a lot of off road vehicles are included in the game, but there are no dirt tracks, although a much smaller part of the game the other two franchises feature numerous dirt racing circuits (Project Cars 2 even has ice racing) Forza has the most off road racers but nowhere to drive them off road, very disappointing and something that seems to be overlooked. FM7’s drivatar system is fantastic, taking the job of AI drivers the system takes your driving characteristics and creates a profile which races for you online, not only earning you in game currency but creating an exciting competition far superior to the other franchises AI.

Gran Turismo Sport 

Gran Turismo Sport is by far the most disappointing of the trio, considering the amount of time its taken to come out I expected much more. Whilst looking fantastic when racing in the dry, its wet weather effects fall flat and seem to have no major effect on the driving characteristics of the track. GT Sport also has one of the most dull and boring car rosters ever seen in a racing game, there are no classics, very few entry level cars and seemingly hundreds of theoretical concept cars drawn up especially for the game. (The Vision McLaren I talked about a few weeks ago is one of these) The career mode is non-existent, taking you to an online only competition where you are easily out raced by competitors from around the world and the driving school appears to be the only other task to complete which veers from ridiculously simple (driving in a straight line) to stupidly hard Endurance competitions. The AI in Gran Turismo Sport is particularly bad, it has no life to it, seemingly driving a set line around a track making no active defence of positions or trying to overtake. This leads to the races becoming a dull and boring affair where you only need to avoid the AI drivers and drive a better line to win.

Project Cars 2

The first Project Cars game was well received by critics and fans alike and the sequel is continuing that success, it may not be quite as good looking as the other two games but it has nine tenths of the beauty. The car list whilst still not being as good as Forza has the diversity needed to create exciting racing, taking a McLaren 720S ice racing was a particular highlight. What sets Project Cars 2 apart from the competition is the real world racing rules, in the other games if a car was being particularly annoying you could simple punt him into a wall to get through. In Project Cars 2 however if you do such a thing you will be required to drop back behind the car (which will sometimes be many places down depending on the violence of the shunt) or face disqualification. This means you need real talent to get to the front of the pack and win rather than brute force. The AI in Project cars 2 is middle of the pack, whilst it provided a competitive high level opposition it can be a little dumb, barrelling into pile ups and flying all over the place for no obvious reason.

The Verdict

Overall the racing game enthusiast has a great opportunity this year, Forza has been the leading horse for many years purely because of its regularity, but now it has competition and its not really holding up against some. Gran Turismo Sport is a shambles and a shadow of its former self. And Project Cars 2 is a really good up and coming racing series that is showing real promise.

First I would tell you to avoid Gran Turimo Sport, its poor AI, lack of interesting cars and bad career mode have led one of the original innovators in the genre to become a poor excuse for a simulation racer and something that has been beaten by much better and much more enjoyable games. Secondly I would say that Forza Motorsport 7 is an amazing entry into the world of racing games, its incredible roster of car and ever-changing AI patterns have led it to be one of the truly great racing games. But its lack of dirt racing and easily available in game currency that leads to an irritatingly easy career mode that has put it in second place. Finally my number one, its racing is exciting, challenging and best of all realistic, which has led it to be one of the best racing games out there. FM7 is a great stepping-stone into racing games but Project Cars 2 is what a racing game should aim to be.

What do you think of the new racing game, 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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Ken Blocks Climbkhana: A return to form for Mr. Block

Ken Block has been very busy as of late it was only a month ago I was talking about my disappointment in his Terrakhana video. But already Ken is back with his new Climbkhana video. Taking place at the legendary Pikes Peak hill climb course Ken takes his 1400BHP Hoonicorn V2 Mustang up the course in a death defying display of drifting mastery. Block has become well known for his gymkhana videos over the years, it’s what has made him such a success. But his last few videos have failed to hit the spot with me.

Ken Block TerrakhanaI am happy to say though that his latest video Climbkhana is a return to form. Block’s choice in Pikes Peak for his latest creation is fantastic and much more visually stimulating than the dust bowls in his previous Terrakhana video. The car itself is also much more interesting, rather than being a run of the mill Fiesta rallycross car we see the legendary Hoonicorn in action. My personal highlight of the video was Block drifting the Mustang round the famous corner the locals call the ‘Devils Playground’ where back in 2012 Jeremy Foley rolled his Mitsubishi Evo in a horrifying crash. (See Here) But of course Block laughs in the face of danger, and with 1400BHP on tap who can blame him.

Ken BlockKen Block has managed to make the promotional video an art form, because that’s basically what all these videos are, just videos to forward his Hoonigan brand and bulk up his bank balance with more money from sponsors. But who can blame him, his videos are an internet sensation, Climbkhana has almost reached 4 million views in just two days online. The standard may have slipped in some peoples opinions but to others every single one of his videos is a must watch clip of driving perfection.

What do you think of Ken Block’s Climbkhana 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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Frankfurt Motor show 2017 round up

The Frankfurt motor show is going on right now in Germany, with the great and the good from around the car world coming together to give us a look at what the showrooms will look like in 2018 and beyond. There are far too many cars to go through to list them all so I thought I would list my highlights from Germany’s premier motor show.

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  1. Kia Proceed

Not to sound like a school report but Kia have improved greatly over the last decade, their growth has been impressive and turned them into one of the companies to look out for in the future along with Hyundai and Skoda. The Proceed is yet another amazingly designed concept car that follows the likes of the Stinger and Novo cars from previous years. The striking sweeping rear end follows the likes of the Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake in its aggressive approach to an estate car.

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  1. Honda Urban EV

Whilst the Honda Urban EV is clearly a concept at the moment its inclusion on this list is purely because of the attention it drew at the show. The Honda Urban EV is a future electric car expected in 2019, whilst no specs have been revealed people are amazed by the way it looks both modern and retro at the same time. The looks have been compared to everything from a VW Golf MK1, to a Peugeot 205 and I even see a little Nissan Cube creeping in at the front there.

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  1. BMW X7

This thing is big, like really big. The X7 is an upcoming luxury SUV for BMW expected in 2018. The BMW X5 is a big car already but the X7 is even bigger at 5 metres long. BMW are trying to take on the giants in America from Lincoln Cadillac and Ford. But on European roads the X7 will dwarf just about anything.

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  1. Borgward Isabella

Back in 2015 Borgward returned with the BX7 an SUV designed to take on the Mercedes M class and BMW X5, and they pretty much faded away after that. But now they have returned again to Frankfurt to unveil the concept for their prestigious Isabella. Named after their car from back in the 50’s the Isabella is a 4 door electric car, and whilst no new specs have been revealed Borgward did say they wanted it to be one of their flagship models. Its unlikely this new Borgward adventure will succeed as they are fairly forgettable and have a silly name, but prove me wrong Borgward.

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  1. Mercedes AMG Project One

The star of the show that drew all the eyes and stares from all around the arena was the Project One. The Formula 1 powered hybrid monster is set to take to the roads in early 2019. This new Mercedes monster looks like a combination of the McLaren F1 and Mercedes CLK GTR (and even looks a bit like a Spyker from above). The Project One is going to be up against tough competition in the Aston Martin Valkyrie in the hyper car battle to end all battles. This 1000BHP monster hybrid uses the engine from Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 car to take it to a top speed of more than 218MPH and from 0-124MPH in 6.0 seconds, certainly an amazing machine set to take the world by storm.

What were your highlights from the 2017 Frankfurt motor show, let us know in the comments.

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Bentley unveil the new Continental GT

Bentley Continental GT 10The Bentley Continental GT has always been a bit of a problem car for me, whilst the first generation was fast (it had a top speed of 197MPH) it always looked too large to be a believable performance car. Its large frame and boring at best/ ugly at worst styling put a lot of people off, apart from the footballers of the world who flocked to the Bentley dealerships just begging to spend their money. The second generation although improved still had quite lazy styling and a bit of a weight problem weighing in at over 2.3 tonnes.

Bentley Continental GT 13Now however Bentley may be on to a winner, the new Continental GT finally looks good, taking some of its styling cues from the EXP 10 Speed 6 we saw at the Geneva Motor show the new Continental GT is a much lower sportier looking car, similar to an Aston Martin Vanquish or the Mercedes SLS AMG. Bentley have managed to retain some of the ideas of the original GT but brought in new ideas to modernise the car to compete with modern standards.

Bentley Continental GT 20During the second generation of Continental GT Bentley slowly began moving to a more environmentally friendly engine in the 4.0 litre twin turbo V8 rather than the 6.0 twin turbo W12 we had seen in the first generation (although the W12 was still available as an option. In the new version of the Continental GT we see a return for the big W12. The heavily revised version of the W12 produces 626BHP and 664lb-ft of torque, the power goes through a duel clutch eight speed gearbox to a new version of Bentley’s all wheel drive system. Whilst the Continental GT will launch with the W12 a new version of the 4.0 litre V8 is likely to be available down the line.

Bentley Continental GT 19The Continental has certainly gained my interest now, more so than in previous years. Bentley says they are going after customers who would normally buy a Porsche, which should tell you that the new Continental GT won’t be that bad in the corners. The new GT boasts better weight distribution than its predecessors being 53:47 rather than the last ones 56:44 the GT’s handling will also be improved by its weight reduction, weighing in at 2.25 tonnes rather than the last ones 2.32 tonnes.

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The Continental GT is looking to take over the Grand Touring world, do you think it can manage it, let us know in the comments.

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