There has been a V8 under the Mustang’s bonnet for over half a century
The V8 engine – once commonplace, always loved – is a dying breed. We champion the normally aspirated V8 and soak up its appeal before it’s too late
Sometimes, certain things catch on not because they are insuperably better than anything else but because they just seem to make a little more sense. Hence the rise of the V8 engine – a baby bear’s porridge of an engine configuration if ever there were one.
For on paper, at least, there is nothing that readily explains why the V8 was so spectacularly popular that it effectively came to power an entire continent. There is no black magic here, no killer consequence to arranging two pairs of four conrods on a crankshaft, usually (but not always) at a 90-degree angle to each other.
The truth is somewhat simpler. Which is that when the V8 really started to catch on in America in the 1930s, it was because that was the cylinder count that provided what customers wanted in terms of power and smoothness without those things they did not, such as needless complexity, expense and inconvenient external dimensions. And it was on such a prosaic basis that what I would contend was the world’s favourite engine configuration was born.
Of course, we don’t think about V8s that way at all. When we think about V8s, we think about one thing above all others: that noise. We all know it when we hear it. There are actually some quite august treatises published in erudite engineering journals that seek to explain exactly what it is about that burble that we find so appealing. They talk about pulses, tones and phases, irregular firing intervals and so on. There doesn’t seem to be much they can agree on, though.
The only common thread apparently linking them all is that, ultimately, no one really seems to know. Or maybe I just don’t know how to read and interpret such lofty literature, and maybe I don’t need to: I have absolutely no idea why the sausages I buy from my local butcher taste better than sausages I buy anywhere else. I just know they do, and that, surely, is enough.
It certainly was earlier today as I was threading my way across rural Wales in the newly revised Ford Mustang, its 444bhp 5.0-litre V8 thrumbling away happily to itself. There is very little I don’t love about this car, but what strikes you most is how the entire car is configured as a support system to that engine.
Other cars aren’t like this: drive an Alpine A110 and you’ll realise within yards that its engine exists as a tool, an enabler you use to make the most of its exquisite chassis. The Mustang is the reverse because, although Ford offers a four-cylinder engine for those poor souls who merely want the image of driving a Mustang, it realised from the day the pony car was invented in 1964 that the V8 has been the key to its character. To drive one without a V8 is to defeat its point as completely as drinking alcohol-free beer or decaffeinated coffee.
And now the V8 is dying. You may look at all those V8-powered Audis, Bentleys, BMWs, Ferraris, Jaguars, Land Rovers, Maseratis, McLarens, Mercedes and Porsches and wonder what I think I’m talking about. And I guess what I mean when I say the V8 is dying, I mean the V8 in its natural and naturally aspirated state. Fitted to cars on sale in the UK, Ford has this one, Lexus has another, Maserati has a third – but only while its ancient Gran Turismo remains in production – and, of course, Chevrolet still uses V8s in the Corvette and Camaro. But that’s it. Time was when every single manufacturer named above (save McLaren, which didn’t exist) had normally aspirated V8s in volume production. They’ve all gone in the interest of the lower on-paper emissions, higher specific outputs and instant-gratification torque curves that turbocharged motors provide. By comparison, that noise is not much of a priority to most, any more than is the samurai-sword-sharp throttle response. You can have the power, torque and noise with supercharging, of course, and Jaguar Land Rover does, but not for very much longer.
Although we may not know why the V8 sounds so mellifluous to our ears, we know exactly what was done to it to make it that way. Just as Percy Spencer never intended to invent the microwave oven when he walked past a magnetron with a bar of chocolate in his pocket and had to change his strides, so those who first started designing cross-plane crankshafts for V8s did so for reasons that had nothing to do with creating that noise.
The truth is that V8s didn’t always sound that way, and some still don’t. Racing and ultra-high-performance V8s, such as those used by Ferrari and McLaren, have the same simple crankshaft layout as the very first V8s, conceived before World War I. The problem with their so-called flat-plane configuration is you get double the secondary vibration of a four-cylinder engine, because that’s essentially what they are: two four-cylinder engines sharing the same crankshaft. And in America between the wars, as engines grew bigger to provide the power required to do the enormous distances at reasonable speeds, so the problem just got worse.
But by spacing the firing intervals at 90 degrees rather than 180 degrees and creating a crankshaft shaped like a cross when looked at end-on, these issues all go away or, more accurately, are reduced to a point where they are no longer problematic. So why aren’t race engines designed this way? Because left unattended, a cross-plane V8 would rock itself right out of the engine bay and across the road at the first decent blip of the throttle. Happily, this tendency can be addressed by the use of counterbalance weights, but, weights being weights, they are heavy and add to an engine’s inertia. Which is why cross-plane V8s weigh more, are less willing to rev and generate less power than flat-plane V8s. But they do sound gorgeous…
Few more than this one. You see, a decent V8 is not just a sound: it is a constantly changing variation on a much-loved theme. The Mustang sounds one way when you blip the throttle to equalise the revs on a downchange and another when you do the same, but parked at the traffic lights, just because you can. It makes one glorious noise at 5000rpm with your foot hard down, quite another as it passes back through 5000rpm on the overrun and a third if you just hold it there, as you might when balancing the throttle mid-corner.
There’s something else, too, about the unadorned V8: it has a simple honesty to it, a blue-collar kind of class that’s not just charming but also effective. When Ford met Ferrari at Le Mans in 1966, the Scuderia brought its gorgeous P3 with its jewel-like light-alloy V12 engine with four overhead camshafts, six twin-choke carburettors and twin ignition. Ford? All it had was an old cast-iron pushrod V8 fed by a single Holley carb. But while the Ferrari engine was a svelte 4.0-litre motor, Ford waded into battle with 7.0 litres. And that was the kind of advantage all the cylinders, camshafts and carburettors in the world was never going to overcome. Ford came first, second and third, while all the factory Ferraris broke trying to keep up. Never did that American adage ‘There ain’t no replacement for displacement’ ring truer.
But they didn’t have turbochargers in 1966, and today turbos have proven a very effective replacement for the normally aspirated V8. Some turbo V8s – and I’m talking those with cross-plane cranks – are immensely effective and sound pretty wonderful, none more so than those made by Mercedes, and while these are objectively way better engines than they would have been without forced induction, you don’t need long in the Mustang to be reminded of what has been lost, too.
I expect that in 10 years, the only normally aspirated V8s left in production will exist for novelty value, if at all. And we’ll be walking down the street, hear that far-off thunder as some old crock with a bent eight breathing at atmospheric pressure rumbles past and we’ll mourn something else that has been lost from the joy of motoring in the interest of ‘progress’. For now, though, it’s all very well to read and write about proper V8s, but there’s nothing to compare with having one at your command. So if you’ll forgive me, and while I still can, I’m going to stop scribbling, fire up the ’Stang and go for one last blast.
Will a basic – and we do mean basic – Land Cruiser cut it as a daily family workhorse? Six months with one should be enough to find out
Why we’re running it: To see if a utility vehicle can also be an endearing everyday vehicle
Life with a Toyota Land Cruiser: Month 1
A 4×4 full of happy surprises over distance. Just watch out for pranksters in the back – 31st October 2018
When the Toyota Land Cruiser arrived at Autocar Towers it had barely 60 miles on its odometer, but now, eight weeks later, it has 6152. I’ve been away for at least three weeks and when I’m around it’s not the only car I drive. Maybe that’s why I’m tired.
The Land Cruiser is a short, rugged, body-on-frame bruiser with a live rear axle and low-range transfer gearbox. So naturally the vast majority of those miles have been on the motorway.
Where, to my surprise, the Land Cruiser is actually really pleasant. Yes, it’s high, at 1838mm tall, and at 4565mm quite short (about halfway between a Ford Focus hatch and estate length). But it’s still very stable, immune to crosswinds and its tyres cut through puddles securely. It rides quietly and relatively smoothly – albeit there’s some head-toss owing to the height and unsophisticated, heavy rear end.
It also has other characteristics you wouldn’t associate with making for relaxed long-distance cruising: manual air-conditioning, a manual gearbox, and an absence of DAB digital radio. But I seem to find the right temperature easily and the manual is smooth, if long of throw.
And there’s a USB socket nestled behind a small panel – presumably sensibly placed to keep dust and grime out if you drive in that kind of environment rather than spending half of your week on the M40. Which means I’ve also discovered podcasts. I’m so down with the kids.
Worse, though, is that this 3dr Land Cruiser doesn’t get a spare wheel as standard. In fact, you can’t spec a 3dr with a full-size or even space saver at all, despite one being available in other countries, as an option, mounted to the tailgate.
I know the LC has big, knobbly, tyres, less prone to puncturing than a saloon’s, but there’s no excuse for not having a spare on a rufty-tufty 4×4. Even one that is great at cruising.
I can’t remember the last time I drove a car that offered such a variance in fuel consumption, at least not in normal driving. Usually, the Land Cruiser is returning around 31mpg, but it’s possible to take that to the mid-20s if you’re driving badly, while the other day I drove like my Dad and managed 45mpg on the way home, thanks to using hardly any throttle and a spot of light slipstreaming on the motorway.
Aside from that, the Land Cruiser has established itself as a very useful tool. I drove it to North Wales for our annual Britain’s Best Driver’s Car feature. It was nabbed by our video production team because it’s good for car-to-car filming and holding a considerable amount of kit.
The short 380-litre boot rises to 720 litres when you fold the 60/40 back seats down, a two-stage tumble process. The backs fold first, then you roll the whole thing forward, where they move towards the fronts and lock in place, leaving storage space in the rear footwell.
Rear seat space is surprisingly generous. Rear passengers can fold the front passenger seat out of the way by kicking a lever on it, which helps them reach the door. (Or if somebody’s sitting in said front passenger seat, kicking the lever drops the seat back at great speed, which my lad thinks is hilarious. Front seat passengers do not agree.)
At 5800 miles, the AdBlue warning light came on, saying I had to top up the additive tank within 1500 miles. I was about to stop anyway, so I bought 10 litres of AdBlue, of which it took about 9.5 litres, via a filler beneath the bonnet. Next time I’ll know to ignore the light for a bit in the hope that a whole 10 litres will fit, to save me having a container with half a litre of liquid sloshing in the boot. Either a more reluctant warning light or a marginally bigger tank would be dandy.
REAR VIEW FOR PARKING Door mirrors are huge, so placing the sides of the car in parking spaces is a doddle.
LEVER ERGONOMICS The fuel filler lever is right next to the bonnet release. I haven’t pulled the wrong one yet, but give it time.
Tailgate is practical – just like the rest of it – 10th October 2018
The Land Cruiser has a side-hinged tailgate on account of some versions carrying a spare wheel on the door – those variants don’t get an opening back window like this one. The main tailgate, though, has a gas strut which can be twisted to lock it in the fully open position, to prevent the door slamming closed in the wind or on a slope.
Welcoming the Land Cruiser to the fleet – 26th September 2018
Here is, I think it’s fair to say, a specification you don’t see every day. Unless you work for the United Nations, presumably. And even then, it’s probably a five-door.
I have small hunch, though, that this, the three-door Toyota Land Cruiser of the latest generation, will become a slightly more familiar sight on British roads than previously, owing to the demise of the Land Rover Defender.
I feel a bit bad comparing the two because, on even the quickest acquaintance, the Land Cruiser shows itself to be vastly superior to a Defender in terms of ride comfort, engine quietness, interior plushness, audio sound, fit and finish, control weight comfort, heating and ventilation, wind noise, turning circle, fuel consumption… well, look, just everything, basically. But I wonder if it’s a car of similar ethos.
Put it this way: when you drive a supercar, small boys and childish men like me stop and point at it. When you drive a Land Cruiser Utility, the people whose heads turn to follow it are usually driving a tractor or a pick-up.
Its basic integrity and functionality, then, is the reason that the UN buys more Land Cruisers than the UK. So when it came to running one, we decided we’d like to run one that was absolutely as basic as possible.
Of all the Land Cruiser variants, there are two types that do well in the UK. The all-singing, all-dancing Invincible seven-seat five-door range-topper is usually the most popular (£52,855). At the other end of the scale is the Utility. We wanted as basic a car as we could bear, and we got pretty close. The only option on our three-door Utility is one of the few options available: metallic paint.
There are six other available options. They’re all different types of tow bar and wiring.
So what do you get? A 2.8-litre, four-cylinder diesel making a steady 175bhp and 310lb ft of torque from just 1400rpm. It drives all four wheels through a lazy but smooth six-speed manual gearbox, which would be good enough for 0-62mph in 12.8sec and go on to 108mph if I were inclined to try either. Which I haven’t been so far.
Of more importance is that it’s only 4.4m long, about the same as a Ford Focus, albeit a more substantial 1885mm wide, and has a fine 10.4m turning diameter. Less useful in daily driving but handy for the kind of thing we’ll ask the Land Cruiser to do are that it can tow three tonnes and has a low-range gearbox, a set of respectable approach, breakover and departure angles (31deg, 22deg and 26deg respectively) and a 700mm wade depth.
You can get a commercial van version of the Land Cruiser but ours has windows and rear seats and that will be essential for me because, as well as being a tool, it’ll be a daily family drive. Handy, too, then, will be an 87-litre fuel tank and the fact that, driven steadily, it seems easily capable of more than 30mpg. I’ll see what it can best do on a long, sedate cruise soon, during which the leggy gearing will let it spin over at barely beyond tickover. Just often recently, I’ve been in a hurry. Soz.
What’s it like? Lovely. The ride quality is really smooth, control weights easy and responsive, and it heats up or cools down quickly inside. It’s a very stable cruiser, too, despite the height and the shortness. I’ve been disinclined to try too much hard cornering, yet, but directly after writing this, I do have to take it off road. Goody.
Sure, it’s basic, by modern standards. There are no parking sensors, but it’s not that long and visibility is great. There’s no sat-nav, but I have a phone with a better system than any OEM one anyway. There’s no DAB radio, but there are aux and USB sockets and my phone has 4G. Problems all solved.
The only other quirk is that the rear tailgate swings open sideways, not from above. That means you can’t shelter under it while getting out of your wellies but also means you’ll see tailgates with a spare wheel tied to them.
It has a separate, top-hinging glass hatch, though, which has been the subject of the Land Cruiser’s only foible so far, and far from its own fault. My neighbour’s lawnmower pinged a stone up and straight through the Land Cruiser’s rear window on the car’s very first day outside my house. My local dealer, who looked after a Toyota GT86 well when I ran one of those, was able to source and would have replaced it within a week for £700 (although, in the end, the pictures you see here and in a twin test you’ll find on PistonHeads were needed in such a hurry that Toyota kindly did it at emergency notice).
It’s an unusual-looking car, the short Land Cruiser, in side profile particularly: big front overhang, cab well back in the short chassis. Like Wile E Coyote’s head in profile, one wag has suggested. And that’s just fine by me. It’s a function not form vehicle. One whose functions I’m particularly excited to discover over the coming months.
I love it, all scratchy plastic and softly, softly drive. It’s amusing at the national limit, too, because it’s so impervious to bumps and moves around so much that it feels ‘alive’ in a way that most modern SUVs don’t. It transfers the same attitude to off-road, where it feels like it could go anywhere, all day, for about 120 years.
Toyota Land Cruiser Utility 3dr specification
Specs: Price New £33,955 Price as tested: £34,655 Options: Metallic paint £700
Test Data: Engine 2755cc, 4-cylinder, in-line diesel Power 174bhp at 3400rpm Torque 310lb-ft at 1400-2600rpm Top speed 108 0-62mph 12.1 Claimed fuel economy 37.6mpg Test fuel economy 32.1 CO2 199g/km Faults None Expenses None
Volkswagen faces consumer lawsuit in Germany after new legislation was introduced
Newly-introduced German class-action legislation has allowed consumers in Germany to bring a lawsuit against Volkswagen in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal.
Reuters reports that vzbv, a Frankfurt-based consumer group, filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen with the aim of determining whether the car maker’s emissions-disguising software had intentionally harmed customers. An alleged 40,000 Volkswagen owners have registered an interest in joining the lawsuit, which Volkswagen claims has no legal basis.
In the US, Volkswagen was forced to compensate all owners of vehicles with the software fitted.
The move comes as owners of vehicles fitted with the EA 189 diesel motor lament the rapid depreciation of their cars, and the limitations posed by new governmental regulations tackling the emission of noxious gases. Vzbv claims that the cars in question are more pollutive, and less efficient, than was advertised at the point of sale.
A Volkswagen spokesperson, however, pointed out that “plaintiffs will be under an obligation to prove that they have suffered actual loss or damage.” This means that length of ownership and vehicle condition will be influential factors with regard to informing a payout decision.
The spokesperson also stated that, despite the new class action laws, any successful case brought against Volkswagen depends on consumers being prepared to “institute individual proceedings claiming a specific amount of damages at their own cost and their own risk”.
While it has become easier to form group lawsuits in Germany, the statute of limitations for claiming damages in this instance will expire this year. A subsequent lawsuit will determine what, if any, damages Volkswagen will have to pay.
Track-only version of Senna gets 814bhp and makes 1000kg of downforce; all 75 examples have already been sold
McLaren has confirmed more technical details of its track-only Senna GTR, as well as releasing a sketch of the 2019 production car.
Previewed at March’s Geneva motor show, the Senna GTR is described as the fastest machine to roll out of Woking this side of a Formula 1 car. It’s priced at £1.1 million plus local taxes, and production is capped at 75 examples. All have already been sold, with deliveries due to commence next September.
The standard Senna‘s 4.0-litre V8 is uprated in the GTR to produce 814bhp, up from 789bhp, while torque is unchanged, at 590lb ft. No kerb weight figure has been released yet, but McLaren claims that the GTR’s power-to-weight ratio will ‘comfortably exceed’ that of the standard Senna.
The final bodywork, previewed in a new design sketch, is based around a chassis with a wider front track. Made almost exclusively from carbonfibre, it features wider front wings, a larger front splitter, a bespoke rear diffuser and repositioned active rear wing. The result is a full 1000kg of downforce, up 200kg over the existing Senna. Under braking, the car is also capable of 3g of decelerative force – 20% more than the Senna.
Autocar’s Matt Prior has taken an up-close look at the Senna GTR concept. Check out this video:
McLaren says the Senna GTR concept will out-accelerate a standard Senna but it has yet to confirm straight-line performance figures. The regular Senna can charge from 0-62mph in 2.8sec and takes a total of 6.8sec to reach 124mph.
With no road regulations or pedestrian safety tests to worry about, McLaren’s aerodynamicists have extracted a further 200kg of potential downforce from the Senna’s body. They’ve gently resculpted its panels, added an enormous front splitter and bolted on a rear diffuser that shames those used by Le Mans GTE racers. Add the Senna’s active rear wing and downforce now peaks at 1000kg – 400kg more than the P1 GTR’s.
To handle these enormous high-speed loads, the Senna GTR uses revised double wishbone suspension and Pirelli slick tyres. A carbonfibre Monocage III skeleton remains at the car’s core, but the GTR is expected to be around 50kg lighter than the 1198kg Senna when dry, because it can do away with road-specific kit such as airbags, a handbrake and an exhaust muffler, and make use of lightweight materials such as plexiglass.
This means the GTR concept produces more than 596bhp per tonne – 108bhp fewer than the hybrid P1 GTR. However, the Senna GTR is a more track-focused package that its makers say can lap McLaren’s test circuit quicker than anything else it has built with a roof. McLaren says only its F1 cars can clock a quicker time.
McLaren Automotive design engineering boss Dan Parry-Williams said this level of pace was possible because the Senna was designed “with the full spectrum of road and track requirements in mind” from the outset.
“The McLaren Senna GTR concept unveiled in Geneva is not the finished article but it does give a clear indication of our thinking for the car, which promises to be the most extreme and exciting McLaren to drive for many years, if not ever,” he said.
The GTR is the latest in a lineage that started with the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning F1 GTR. It will be and hand-built at McLaren’s Production Centre.
All 500 examples of the regular Senna were also allocated before it was revealed. That model started at £750,000.
Anniversary edition XJ is as soothingly swift as ever, but could do more to stand out from the rest of the range
It’s surprising how few car models make a half century, but this limited edition Jaguar is a celebration of one of them. It’s the XJ50, and the clue is very obviously in the name, the first XJ6 debuting to considerable acclaim in 1968.Were Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons still alive he might be surprised to discover that a) the XJ model line was still in production b) that this version of it is a diesel and c) that the XJ has become so big. But then, so has everything else.For the record, among those few half-century survivors are the Mini, the Porsche 911, the Chevrolet Corvette and the Toyota Corolla, the last of these a phenomenally successful multi-generational family of models, but not one with the charisma of all the others.So, what does an XJ50 bring you? Well, like plenty of limited editions, it takes a committed inspection of the standard features list to understand what your £74,280 brings you. The XJ50 is based on the £66,360 Premium Luxury XJ, which is the second model up the hierarchy, sandwiched by the base £62,360 Luxury and the not basic at all £72,580 Portfolio, this model also slightly cheaper than the XJ50.Compared to the Premium Luxury version, then, you get adaptive headlights, 20in Venom alloys, 18-way heated and cooled front seat, quilted soft leather, soft grain leather to the upper dashboard, suedecloth headlining, gloss shadow and piano black décor, privacy glass, electric rear window sunblinds, rear reading lights, alloy pedals, illuminated XJ50 treadplates, an 825 Watt Meridian surround sound system rather than 380 Watt sounds, a digital TV, a 360deg parking aid, blind spot and reverse traffic warnings and park assist.Items special to the XJ50 itself are 20in two-tone alloys, bumpers from the Portfolio version, a black grille, a palette of four exterior colours (though all of these are normally available) and subtle additional badging. Inside, leapers and logos adorn the headrestraints, the illuminated sill tread plates and the centre armrest, while the paddle shifters are anodized, and the pedals are alloy.In case you’re wondering, the £1700 cheaper Portfolio actually comes with some things that the XJ50 doesn’t, such as massage front seats, oval exhaust finishers, superior leather to the steering wheel, illuminated rear vanity mirrors and rear side window sunblinds, while most of the items it does without, including alloys an inch smaller, a 360-degree parking aid, park assist, rear reading lights and a rear window sunblind you can probably overlook. That said, the XJ50 is marginally better value, as limited editions often are.Now, you’ll be forgiven if you haven’t trawled all the way through these lists of kit, but they’re presented exhaustively because kit is the essence of the XJ50, the rest of the car as per your usual XJ. Which provides a 296bhp 3.0 V6 diesel and an eight-speed automatic that drive the rear wheels.
Has Europe’s family car market gone full circle? How long will it be, given the premium-brand-centric, SUV-mad phase in which we find ourselves, before a well-designed, mid-sized, mid-market saloon starts to look like the smart, desirable option again?The arrival of cars such as the Volkswagen Arteon and Kia Stinger suggests the idea might have appeared a while ago in one or two of the industry’s product-planning crystal balls – and it’s now becoming manifest.This week’s road test subject is a case in point. The second-generation Peugeot 508 comes from a European brand with plenty of pedigree for fine-handling, mid-sized, midmarket saloons. The 405 and 406 delivered alternative French design appeal and critically acclaimed dynamics, while the earlier and larger 504 and 505 were often given ‘world-class’ billing among saloons of a similar price.Peugeot wouldn’t be Peugeot if hadn’t come back to a car like this, having turned its hand to SUVs, crossovers and commercial vehicles these past few years.When the covers came off the 508 at Geneva this year, it became evident that the conservative design of its predecessor wasn’t being repeated. Like many rivals, Peugeot has seen the way the wind has blown for modern saloon design and has stirred a welcome dose of eye-catching, curvaceous style into the 508’s recipe. And having always offered three-box saloons with conventional boots, it has acknowledged modern preferences in another way by switching to a hatchback bodystyle.
The Porsche 911 GT2 RS has taken the Nürburgring lap record back from Lamborghini
The Porsche 911 GT2 RS has reclaimed the title of fastest road-legal car around the Nordschleife
The Porsche 911 GT2 RS has posted a lap time of 6:40:30 at the Nürburgring, Porsche claims, beating the previous road-legal lap record of 6:44:97 set by the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ earlier this year.
The GT2 RS’s chassis and suspension were modified specifically for the 12.9-mile Nordschleife circuit by a team of engineers from Porsche and the US-based Manthey-Racing, which fields 911 RSR race variants in the World Endurance Championship and manufactures aftermarket parts for Porsches in the US.
Porsche said that, despite the modifications, “the technicians focused on suitability for on-road driving at all times”. The GT2 RS’s 700bhp 3.8-litre engine remained untouched from that in customer cars.
Porsche affirmed that the only modification between the record-breaking car and the track day-prepped GT2 RS MR sold by Manthey-Racing in the US is the installation of a racing bucket seat. The German manufacturer pointed out that this was carried out in line with Nürburgring safety recommendations and offered no weight benefits.
Despite the modifications, the GT2 RS remains suitable for off-track use in Europe, rendering it eligible for the road-legal lap time record.
The overall Nürburgring lap record is also held by Porsche; its 919 Hybrid Evo race car went around in 5:19:55 earlier this year.
With changes limited to cosmetics, technology and new nomenclature, can the facelifted F-Type still compete with less expensive, younger rivals?
This handsome devil? Why it’s the 2019 model year update of the Jaguar F-Type. And if you’re thinking that it looks remarkably similar to the last F-Type you came across – bar the very fetching (and very expensive, at £3,500) new Madagascar Orange paint – then you’d be absolutely right.Because, cosmetically, this F-Type is unchanged from previously. If it ain’t broke, after all…Instead, the latest revision to Jag’s sports car focuses elsewhere; the styling has been bob on since day dot, with some other areas less convincing. So for 2019 the F-Type now receives JLR’s latest 10-inch InControl Touch Pro infotainment system, a new range of colours and wheel designs, standard torque vectoring for all models and a refresh of the naming structure: the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder car is now the P300, the entry-level V6 the P340 and the car that was the V6 S – and as tested here – is now to be referred to as P380.It was tested in R-Dynamic guise, the only derivative of more powerful V6 on offer, though there is the choice between coupe and convertible bodystyles, manual or automatic gearboxes, plus rear- or four-wheel drive powertrains.
Mercedes-Benz will launch successors to the CLA and CLA Shooting Brake alongside a whole host of new models for 2019
Mercedes-Benz has confirmed for the first time that it will launch successors to the CLA and CLA Shooting Brake as well as an eighth compact model in the form of the GLB SUV in 2019 with the issuing of a so-called official product roadmap graphic.
The graphic, part of a presentation announcing the German car maker’s 2018 sales up to the end of September, pinpoints six yet to be revealed Mercedes-Benz cars set to be unveiled next year.
Other new Mercedes-Benz models confirmed for sale in 2019 include the fourth-generation GLE (formerly M-class), the third-generation B-class and the first model from Mercedes-Benz’s EQ electric car division, the EQ C – all of which have already been revealed.
The exact timing of the unveiling of the CLA and CLA Shooting Brake is yet to be revealed though Autocar understands the former is likely to make an appearance at the upcoming 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, with the latter expected to underpin the German car maker’s stand at the Geneva motor show next March.
Details to the four-door CLA remain scarce, though recent prototypes caught it with a distinctly more sporting appearance than the recently unveiled A-class saloon, alongside which it is planned to be produced at Mercedes-Benz’s factory in Kecskemet Hungary, with greater tapering to its front end, a more heavily angled windscreen, greater curvature to its roofline, a shallower glasshouse with frameless doors and a more shapely rear end.
The new look is a further evolution of Mercedes-Benz so-called sensual purity design lineage with smoother and fuller forms set to replace the taught surfacing treatment and heavily etched swage lines of the first-generation CLA.
At this stage it is not known whether the new model will manage to match the outstanding aerodynamic efficiency of the first generation CLA, which holds the distinction of being the most aerodynamically efficient car ever placed into larger scale production with a drag co-efficient of just 0.22 in CLA180 BlueEfficiency guise.
If the prototypes being tested by Mercedes-Benz are any guide, however, the 2019-model-year CLA will be quite a bit larger than its predecessor, with a longer wheelbase set to provide added length to the rear door apertures in a move aimed to ease entry to the rear along with improved rear legroom.
Even less clear is the look set to be adopted by the second-generation CLA Shooting Brake. Like its predecessor, though, it is rumoured to receive a heavily stylised appearance with a sloping roofline and heavily angled tailgate set to prioritise good looks ahead of ultimate load carrying capacity.
The new CLA and CLA Shooting Brake will be the fifth and sixth models to use Mercedes-Benz’s MFA2 platform, following on from the A-class, A-class saloon, A-class saloon long wheelbase and recently unveiled B-class. It supports both front- and four-wheel drive and is engineered to accommodate either a torsion beam or multi-link rear suspension.
Together, the two models they form part of a future eight-model-strong compact car line-up that will also include the new BMW X1 and Audi Q3 rivalling GLB SUV, which the Mercedes-Benz roadmap hints will be unveiled during the latter half of 2019, as well as a successor to the GLA set to be launched in 2020.
Power for the new will come from a range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, including a powered up version of Mercedes-Benz’s latest M260 petrol unit in a new four-wheel drive CLA35 4Matic and CLA35 4Matic Shooting Brake models from AMG.
A more highly tuned version of the M260 engine with over 400bhp will also be used to power range-topping CLA45 and CLA45 Shooting Brake models, according to Mercedes-AMG officials.
Buyers will snub EVs until charging network improves
This week Matt Prior questions if ambitious government targets for EV adoption are in any way realistic
Members of the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee have many and varied backgrounds: as well as career politicians, there’s a barrister, someone who sailed with the merchant navy, people who ran estates and farms or worked mines or sat on the board of an electrical company.
But can any of them operate a calculator? I ask because they’ve called the government’s Road to Zero plan, which will require all cars sold in the UK by 2040 to have a worthwhile electric range, “vague and unambitious”. Plus, they’ve suggested – in that ‘zero-means-zero’ way that’s so popular these days – that all cars sold in the UK should be all-electric by 2032. They’d like to be a bit more serious about vans and lorries too.
Which is certainly ambitious, because the government is currently canning incentives to buy part-electric vehicles, while the infrastructure to provide electric power has been left to local authorities and private businesses.
As the BEIS Committee notes, in a release that contains some noble intentions, these things seem at odds with government hopes that EVs will enter mass roll-out. It thinks incentives should be kept or introduced to make EVs the same price as comparative internally combusted alternatives. Which sounds laudable, if expensive.
It also thinks central government should “recognise its responsibility” in the role of creating a national charging infrastructure. And if we really want EVs to be the way we travel, it’s right. Vehicle range isn’t good enough and charge points aren’t widely available enough and the cars aren’t cheap enough to make battery EVs the cars people routinely look to buy right now. They suit certain drivers, but will need tosuit us all. If they did, we’d all already want one.
I wonder, though, if the committee has quite grasped how big such an infrastructure would need to be – unless the fuel cell/another on-board power source makes an unlikely, though perhaps desirable, comeback.
Anyway, EV charge points are currently being added at around the same rate as plug-in vehicles. Most at the moment are at people’s houses, because the vast majority of EV charges take place at home overnight. But more than 40% of Britain’s homes don’t have the capacity for that. So publicly available chargers, or chargers on the street dedicated to residents who don’t have off-street parking, will have to see a massive rise in proportion.
Is it reasonable to assume that ultimately we’ll want just as many charge points as there are cars? I suspect, ideally, you’d want more plug sockets than vehicles, so that there’s enough redundancy for ease of use. But let’s assume the one-to-one ratio is desirable. There are 31 million cars in the UK and the average car on British roads is eight years old.
So, roughly, on BEIS timescales, the UK would be looking to install a little under 31 million chargers by 2040, to cover the fact that most cars would be battery EVs by then. Plus there’s the distribution network to support them. That’s 4100 chargers being installed every single day from today.
A good time to be an electrician. Or a fantasist.