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European cars

Alpine A110 Ready To “Peak” Interest.

Automotive history is littered with names that have disappeared and then, to the joy of the hardcore, been resurrected. In rallying circles the name “Alpine” is synonymous with elegance and good looks, and the brand’s name has been given an injection here in Australia with the release of the Australian Premiere Edition Alpine A110. A recommended retail starting price of $97,000 comes along with it and for the money there’s a pack of standard kit.

An aluminuim chassis and a turbocharged 1.8L petrol engine, with 185kW and 320Nm of torque powering down through the rear wheels, plus double wishbone suspension, see a zero to one hundred time of 4.5 seconds and a 44:56 front to rear weight distribution take the new Alpine to levels surpassing its hey-day. The alloy chassis is bonded and riveted for structural rigidity, plus adds to the weight loss regime. Even more weight has been lost from using lightweight Sabelt sports seats at 13.1kg each, and Brembo brakes that incorporate the parking brake into the rear main calliper. This world first innovation saves another 2.5kg. All up, the Alpine A110 clocks the scales at just 1049 kilograms.

The proven double-wishbone suspension ensures that as the car moves and follows the road surface, the tyre’s contact patch remains consistently flat on the road. Kinetics sees the tyres press harder onto the road the harder the Alpine A110 corners. A conventional strut setup would have the tyre’s move to a position that offers less grip. Double wishbones means more suspension travel and due to the lightweight it means the actual suspension settings can be softer and more absorbent. That lightweight aids the handling further with the use of hollow anti-roll bars. This combination means that Alpine were able to specify rubber that initially looks small but in testing proved to be ideal. Michelin supply the Pilot Sport 4 and in a 205/40/18 & 235/40/18 front and rear combination on Otto Fuchs alloys.

Although it’s an inherently safe chassis, the Alpine A110 still comes with the essentials of electronic safety. Anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control are standard. There’s a smattering of luxury items in the forms of an active sports exhaust, a sound system from renowned French audio gurus Focal, carbon fibre interior trim, leather trim on the Sabelt seats, and brushed alloy pedals. The driver is looked after by a driver focused design ethic; the binnacle is small yet clearly laid out and easy to read, the steering wheel is of a suitable diameter and heft, and all round vision is engineered in to be high. Satnav and climate control are also standard as in smartphone mirroring.

Contact your Renault dealer for more details.

Peugeot Goes Touring With The 508.

Peugeot continues its renaissance with the announcement of the revamped 508 range and the addition of the Tourer variant. This is currently scheduled for a release in the second half of 2019. The Tourer will be released along with the “Fastback” and is based on a brand new from the wheels up design. Known as the EMP2, or Efficient Modular Platform 2, the design enables Peugeot to strip up to 70 kilograms from the mass of the Tourer. It also features a more compact design, a reduced height, yet without compromising interior packaging. There’s a sharper, edgier design, and the interior has also been given an update which will feature the third version of Peugeot’s i-Cockpit.

Motorvation will come from a new driveline combination; for Australia there’ll be a newly designed Aisin eight speed auto and will be paired with a 1.6L petrol engine producing 168kW. A slightly less powerful version, with 135kW, will also be available and paired with the same auto. This will be seen in the Fastback and sedan versions at launch. Built into a chassis that will be at around 1420kg, it means a better power to weight ratio than most of the competitors the vehicles will be up against. Variants fitted with the 169kW engine will boast an 8.41kg/kW power-to-weight ratio while 133kW variants will also be competitive with a 10.67kg/kW power-to-weight ratio.

Ben Farlow, Peugeot Australia Managing Director, said the all-new 508 range’s arrival signifies the complete reinvention of the Peugeot line-up and heralds a new focus for the marque in Australia.

“Over the past five-years, Peugeot has completely reinvented its product range and the all-new 508 will challenge segment norms, while delivering a vehicle that is not just enjoyable to drive, but great to look at. The Peugeot ‘5-series’ has always held a fond place in the hearts and minds of generations of Australian motorists and this all-new 508 is set to reignite the passion for Peugeots that stretches back almost 100 years locally.”

Full pricing and safety features are yet to be confirmed, but it’s expected that now common safety technology such as Autonomous Emergency Braking will be on board. For further information and to be in the mailing list for updates, contact peugeot.com.au

BMW Has Competition For The M2.

BMW Australia has announced another model for their brilliant M2. Powered by a 302kW/550Nm straight six, the BMW M2 Competition starts at $99,900 (plus on-roads) with a M2 Competition Pure starting from $104,900 (plus on-roads). There’s a seven speed DCT, or dual clutch transmission that will take the M2 to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds. For those that prefer an old style manual, a six speed manual is offered as a no-cost option.That peak power is from 5,250 to 7000 rpm, with that V8 eating torque across nearly three thousand revs, at 2,350 to 5,200 rpm. This backs up the M2’s intent to be a track day weapon, as there is a 1.5 kilogram strut brace and it’s a similar design to that seen in the M3 and M4. The suspension has ball joints that are engineered to have zero excess movement, and elastomer bands that transmit lateral movement to the torque struts in the suspension.

BMW’s M-differential is on board, with the design and engineering allowing a “lock-up” with an amount of zero to one hundred percent allowing precise control through virtually every driving condition. Strength and rigidity comes from a new forged alloy which is employed for suspension components and parts of the five link suspension. Stopping isn’t an issue thanks to the 400mm front and 380mm rears with six pot callipers that are an option. Standard stoppers are 380mm and 370mm.

Rolling stock are 19 inches in diameter and are 9×19 up front, 10×19 for the rear. Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber wraps these, with 245/35/19 and 265/35/19 front and rear. These are super lightweight alloys and feature a Y shaped design coated in a light sheen or black. To take advantage of these there are three driving modes, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+, operated via a dial in the cabin. There’s settings available via a toggle switch on the leather bound steering wheel.An exterior update has been fitted with a deeper front skirt for better cooling and airflow. High gloss black coats the grilles and the quad exhaust is also painted black. Wing mirrors are a double arm design that aids in airflow, a M hallmark. And specifically for the Australian market the Competition Pure also gains M Sports seats with Illuminated Headrests and Lumbar Support, front Park Distance Control and the M Seatbelts over the predecessor model.

Compared to the M2 Competition, the Competition Pure rides on the 19-inch light alloy wheels familiar to the outgoing M2, though the Michelin Pilot Super Sports retain the same dimensions as the M2 Competition specification (245/35 R 19 front, 265/35 R 19 rear). The new design wheels are optionally available.Other specification adjustments include a HiFi Loudspeaker system, manually-adjustable M Sport Seats, Bi-LED Headlights and remote central locking (in place of Comfort Access).

BMW says the cars should be available from early 2019.

Mercedes A-Class Arrives For August

Mercedes-Benz have updated their A-Class range and they go on sale here in Australia in August. There’s been quite a few technical additions, a change to the motorvation, and repackaging to provide more room inside. The first model to be released will be the A200, with the A180 and A250 to come before Christmas.

Perhaps, however, the prime attraction is what’s called MBUX. The Mercedes-Benz User Experience is a voice activated and controlled natural language recognition system. The words “Hey Mercedes” are the starting point, and this will allow a driver to speak and enter a navigation destination, select music types or stations, make end end phone calls on the go, send texts, and operate vehicle functions. An AI system will modify the MBUX as it learns the vocal styles of the user/s. You can find out more about it hereA new engine foe the A-Class is the 1.33L, 120kW, 250Nm petrol fed four. That’s mated to a new seven speed auto which is good for a 5.7L/100 kilometre fuel economy (claimed,combined). This is inside a 4419mm length, up from 4299mm. The wheelbase goes to 2729mm, an increase of 30mm from the previous model. Extra width of 16mm and internal repackaging has 9mm and 22mm extra shoulder room front and rear, with 7mm and 8mm extra headroom as well.There’s been a twenty kilo weight reduction, part of which comes from a reduction of the window trimming. This aids visibility all around. Even the boot has been increased, with a new 370L capacity, up 29L.There’s new 18 inch “Aero” alloys, a pair of10.25 inch digital screens that tie in with the MBUX system, keyless start, wireless smartphone charging for compatible handsets, LED headlights, and NTG 6 MB Navigation. Safety levels are huge, with nine airbags on board (front, pelvis side and window bags for driver and front passenger, side bags for rear occupants and knee bag for driver. Mercedes-Benz also add in as standard Active Brake Assist with a semi-autonomous brake function. Active Lane Keep Assist, Active Park Assist with M-B’s Parktronic, and Blind Spot Assist, Traffic Sign Assist, and high quality reversing camera.

Mercedes-Benz are quoting $47,200 plus on roads and dealer delivery, with an expected on-sale date of August 10.

German Odds And Ends: VW Crafter Van & Audi TT

They’re the lifeblood of the small courier driver business, of the larger postal delivery services. LCVs or Light Commercial Vehicles come in various shapes and forms, including the van. There’s plenty to choose from and Volkswagen has just made that choice even more difficult.

The Crafter range offers a more car-like experience both inside and out. There’s the Medium wheelbase, Long wheelbase, Long wheelbase with Overhang, the cab chassis versions in both single and dual cab options and with single and dual rear wheel designs. All up a new Crafter comes in a minimum of 36 versions but with 4 body styles, 3 lengths, 3 heights there’s a total of 59 derivatives including front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, and 4MOTION all wheel drive. The starting price for the immense range is for the Crafter 35 TDI340 LWB (Long wheelbase) SCC (single cab chassis) 8 Speed with auto and FWD at $48,290. Just two hundred more sees you in the Crafter 35 TDI340 MWB (Medium Wheelbase) Van 6 Speed Man ‘RUNNER’ front wheel drive.

There’s different load capacities that are dependent on which drive configuration is chosen. Tick the front-wheel drive option and there’s a cargo capacity of up to 18.4 cubic metres and a maximum cargo space height of 2196 mm. Total permitted weight is between 3.55 to 4.0 tonnes. Load width between the wheel arches is 1380 mm and cargo space length is 4855 mm. Have the driven wheels at the other end and the permitted total weight ranges from 3.55 to 5.5 tonnes. The load width on the heavy vehicles with dual rear wheels has been increased in comparison to the previous model by 402mm, thus allowing it to be loaded using a wider range of standard carriers.Inside it’s a more comfortable workspace. LED lighting has been fitted, the base model has four way electric adjustment and there’s a higher level of comfort available. Called ergoActive, it’s part of a German health and safety campaign to help drivers look after their postures and driving positions. Central locking is standard, dual zone climate control is available, and the Trendline package offers extra features such as a second 12V socket, chromed highlights, and front fog and cornering lights.

Dimensions wise there’s the medium wheelbase 5986mm, a long wheelbase at 6386mm, and the overhang version with 7391mm. Engine wise there’s a 2.0L diesel that offers either 340Nm or 410Nm. More features and details will be released in coming months. Head to Volkswagen Australia for more information and to register for updates.

Audi‘s iconic TT coupe made its world debut in 1995 and was available for sale in 1998. The 2018/2019 update brings exterior and interior changes, and updates to the drivetrain. There’s a six speed manual, and a new seven speed DCT or dual clutch auto. The S Line package or magnetic ride drop the ride height by 10 millimetres and work with the progressive steering and four link rear suspension to further enhance the already fluid handling.Standard wheels are 17 inches in diameter, with 18, 19, and 20 as options. These complement the redesigned front and rear, with interior features accessing the Audi drive select dynamic handling system that’s available from the base model, a rain and light sensor, heated exterior mirrors, and the multi-function steering wheel plus This allows the infotainment and voice control system to be controlled entirely using the steering wheel. Also standard are the illuminated USB ports as well as Bluetooth for wireless pairing of devices. The front has a more assertive grille and is flanked by stylish air vents with the rear featuring a subtle work-over to the classic lines.The new TT is due for Australia in the first six months of 2019. Head to Audi Australia to register your interest.

A Lotto Win Away: Aston Martin DBS Superleggera.

Iconic British car maker Aston Martin has unveiled their hotly anticipated Ferrari 812 competitor. It’s called the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. Priced at US$305,995 it packs a supercharged 5.2 litre V12, punching out 533kW and a tree-stump pulling 900 Nm of torque across a mesa flat rev range of 1800 to 5000 rpm. Based on the DB11 AMR, that’s 63kW and 200Nm more than the donor block.
The car has a dry weight of 1693 kilograms and rolls on gorgeous black paint alloys at 21 inches of diameter. Pirelli P-Zero tires are the chosen rubber. The drivetrain has been uprated and provides a 0-100kph time of 3.4 seconds and will see the ton three seconds later.
Aston Martin has delved into the books of history with the name. DBS hasn’t been used since 2012 and Superleggera, Italian for “light weight”, goes back to the 1960s. To that end, Aston Martin have eradicated  121 kilograms of mass. It also, until 2012, sidelines the evocative Vanquish nameplate.
One of the design briefs was to visually spread the gap between AM’s model range. To that end, the DBS Superleggera has a more assertive grille and angrier looking headlights complete with angular LED driving lights. The grille is in a nosecone designed to increase down-force before combining with an extensively modified floorpan and rear diffuser to add up to a total of 180 kilos of down-force. Drag wasn’t sacrificed, with the same drag coefficient as the lesser down-force endowed DB11. There’s just 70kg here.
The profile is low, sensual, and definably Aston Martin is some elements. What’s new are the airvents leading from behind the trailing edge of the front wheels and edging back into the leading edge of the doors. The bootlid no longer displays the iconic Aston Martin emblem, it now proudly says the company name and sits between super slimline LED tail lights. This sits above a retuned exhaust, said to offer an extra ten decibels of what chief engineer Matt Becker says is “quality noise”.
There’ll be plenty of that on demand, with the traction control system being reprogrammed to cope with the extra torque and its delivery to the tarmac. Becker says of the reprogramming: “If you slide the car and you know how to drive, it gives you all of the information you’ll need about when to put your foot on or lift from the throttle.”
Aston Martin is targeting both its own existing Vanquish customers, but more specifically owners of the Prancing Horse. This car is part of Aston Martin’s “Second Century” plan, where a new model per year for seven years is released. This includes a convertible version of the DBS Superleggera due for 2019. Aston Martin expects to start deliveries before Christmas of 2018.

Aston Martin Rapide AMR

Aston Martin is perhaps best known for a glittering range of two door hard top and convertible cars. Under the radar is the four door contribution to the super saloon family. The Rapide is a subtle four door design and has recently been upgraded to AMR (Aston Martin Racing) specifications. Powered by a naturally aspirated V12 with 433kW and 630Nm and transmitting that to the tarmac via an eight speed auto, the AMR will come with three trim levels. Standard, Silhouette, and Signature will roll on 21 inch diameter wheels clad in Michelin Super Sport rubber, a first for the iconic brand. Tyre sizes are 245/35 up front and 295/ at the rear.
The five metre long Rapide AMR asserts itself with a large grille that evokes the track weapon Vantage AMR-Pro. Subtle aero hints come courtesy of the carbon fibre tail spoiler, front splitter, sill panels, and rear diffuser. Weight reduction is also further enhanced by fitting a carbon fibre bonnet, complete with engine bay exhaust vents.

The engine has been massaged by fitting larger inlet manifolds that pack tuned length intake runners, with the kilowatts breathing out via a new quad exhaust system. Stopping efficiency is enhanced by modified brake ducts, dust shields, and utilise the spoked design of the 21 inch alloys to funnel cooling air onto the 400mm six piston carbon ceramic front brakes. These are backed up by 360mm four piston rears.
Being based on a racing design, the AMR Rapide sits 10mm lower courtesy of reworked suspension components. Aston Martin have gone over the front and rear double wishbones, fitted with stage three adaptive dampers, with plenty of Nurburgring evaluative work. To make sure the AMR looks the goods there’s a choice of four colours for the Standard and Silhouette. Mariana Blue, Scintilla Silver, Lightning Silver, and Onyx Black are complemented by AMR Lime Green highlights on the Standard’s sills, splitter, and diffuser, with the other gaining a China Grey or Clubsport White stripe.

The Signature goes one step closer to a racing look with Stirling Green paint, Lime accents and stripe, backed by a combination of AMR Lime or Galena Silver stitching for all three versions. Driver, front passenger, and each rear seat passenger are cossetted in Alcantara seats which will have discrete AMR logos in Galena Silver stitched in, and there’s extra glamour with a full length carbon fibre centre console. Apart from visiting Aston Martin’s bespoke “Q Store” a buyer can specify the optional One-77 steering wheel as well. Digital radio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto will be standard, as will 700 watts of audio power.

Deliveries are scheduled to start from October 2018 worldwide. Contact Aston Martin Australia for details including pricing.

Build Your Own Bentley.

Wander into a car dealership and you’re presented with a range of automobiles that are an example of what is available. Mostly they’ll cover colors, perhaps some seat trims, and some options like roof racks, or wheels.
Iconic British car maker, Bentley, are at the other end of the spectrum. Their large limousine, the Mulsanne, offers via their Car Configurator, an almost endless list of combinations to ensure that Sir and Madam have a car tailored to their own exquisite tastes. There’s three versions of the Mulsanne: the Extended Wheelbase, Mulsanne Speed, and the Mulsanne itself.
The exterior has a basic choice of five single colors and one two-tone black and aqua-marine known as Velvetine. Click the “Colors” tab and this opens up an eight further options covering Blacks, Greens, Golds/Oranges/Browns, Blues, Reds & Purples, Silvers, Yellows and Whites, and Duo-Tones. A click on Silvers alone brought up a choice of thirteen distinct shades. Bentley’s own “Mulliner” branding is applied here and through the other very comprehensive options list.The choice of wheels is somewhat more restrained, with five available. There’s one twenty inch, two twenty one inch, and two Mulliner Specification.
Heading inside, the Hide tab has Colour Split and then Main Hide and Secondary Hide. Sixteen Main Hide and fifteen Secondary Hide options are listed including Highland Hare and Fireglow. Naturally these coverings are sourced from the most pristine of donors, especially checked for markings and flaws before Bentley takes delivery, where they’re further rechecked.
A standout of any classic British brand has been the wood veneer fitted. Bentley has a list of ten utterly gorgeous real wood veneers, including the classic Dark Stained Burr Walnut. Naturally there’s a choice of location for these veneers. Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus for the Gear Lever? Of course, Sir.Which sort of stitching would Sir like to complement that? Contrast, Contrast Hand Stitching, or perhaps Contrast Piping? If a subtle look is being aimed for, there is non-contrast stitching and piping as well.
Of course the fabulous Bentley logo is included, with Blind and Contrast stitching. The steering wheel is given a choice of five coverings, and both the seat belts and carpets can be tailored to match the hides selected.
But of course Mulsanne owners like to let the world know that it’s their car they’re driving. Or more likely being chauffeured in. That’s why Bentley’s Car Configurator has grille options, glass tint options, and yes, even options for the famous “Flying Spur.”
Cost, as the saying goes, is “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”

Rolls-Royce Cullinan: One For The (Rich) Masses.

As often happens in Hollywood, two movies are released that have similar themes. And it is in the uber-luxury world with Mercedes-Maybach releasing a high end SUV, and now the British icon of Rolls-Royce has countered with the Cullinan.Immediately there’s a special kind of appeal for the Rolls-Royce Cullinan compared to the Maybach. It LOOKS like an SUV and ones with hints of historic British marques. A rear quarter view evokes Range Rover, for example, the front is pure “Roller”, whilst others have said there’s flashes of the iconic London taxi.

However it’s seen, it’s the first Rolls-Royce car of its type and nothing has been overlooked to ensure it embodies what R-R stands for. A clue to this can be picked from the name. In January of 1905 a diamond was mined in Cullinan, South Africa. At just under 3107 carats before being cut and polished, it’s still the largest gem quality rough diamond ever found. The two main Cullinan diamonds, incidentally, are part of the British Crown Jewels.

Motorvation is the famous 6.75 litre V12 which delivers 563 bhp (420 kW) and a orbit stopping 627 lb-ft (850Nm at just 1650 rpm) that’s connected to all four corners. Said four corners are also steerable. The drivetrain was engineered and refined through thousands of miles worth of testing in terrain as diverse as the sandy deserts of Arabia to the chill of the Scottish Highlands. Top speed is an electronically governed 155 mph or 250 km/h.

A key design feature that stands out in this Cullinan is the inclusion of “suicide doors” as seen in the sedan range. And being a Rolls-Royce, inside is a three box design, being front seats, rear seats, and rear cargo section that can be separated from the rest of the interior via a partition wall made of glass.Being the company’s first SUV, there’s the first opening tailgate and has its own name. “The Clasp” opens up to display a cargo space not unlike the style seen when luggage was carried on the exterior of cars.
Forward of this is perhaps the signature Roll-Royce seating layout. Sir and Madam can choose either Lounge Seats or Individual Seats which when fitted are located higher in what R-R calls Pavilion Seating. The Lounge will seat three and in yet another first for the iconic brand, the seats will fold at the touch of a button. Rolls-Royce don’t overlook detail here either with the headrests set to fold as well. Why? To avoid a headrest imprint on the seat’s leather. Full loading length is 2245 mm and offers 1930L of space.

Should the Individual option be ticked, a Fixed Rear Seat Console is installed and features bespoke whisky glasses and decanter. The glass wall has an extra benefit here. Should the rear seat passengers wish to be travelling in isolated comfort after raising the partition, when the cargo area is opened the interior temperature stays as chosen.The airbag suspension enables the Cullinan to not only waft along, it will lower the car by 40 mm and with the wide aperture doors open enables unparalleled entry and egress. Once inside there’s access to high tech features such as Night Vision and Vision Assist including daytime and night-time Wildlife & Pedestrian warning; Alertness Assistant; a 4-Camera system with Panoramic View, all-round visibility and helicopter view. Camera users can recharge from the five USB ports installed and smartphones are wirelessly charged.

Aluminuim was extensively employed in the sub-frame to ensure both lightness and rigidity met the standards expected by Rolls-Royce customers. It brings along future proofing as well as part of the proprietary “Architecture of Luxury”. There’s a new double wishbone front suspension and five link rear that holds the four wheel drive and suspension system which is in constant contact with a drive monitoring computer that calculates millions of times per seconds.

Cullinan brings with it one final surprise. The key fob has a button that when pressed accesses what R-R calls “The Everywhere Button”. It activates the Cullinan’s drive system and allows peerless finessing of the suspension for the drive ahead.The Cullinan. “Effortless, Everywhere”.

BMW’s EV Wireless Charging

BMW’s Wireless Charging

The new BMW 5-Series iPerformance models boast some very cool ‘world-first’ technology.  Available factory-fitted with a fully integrated inductive charging facility means that you can arrive home, park over a ground pad (the inductive charging facility/station) and hey-presto your car charges up, ready for your next trip away.

BMW’s Wireless Charging consists of the GroundPad (an inductive charging station), that can be installed either in a garage or outdoors, and the CarPad, which is fixed to the underside of the vehicle will connect to the GroundPad once parked appropriately.  This technology is available as an option on the new BMW 530e iPerformance model.  The GroundPad generates a magnetic field that induces an electric current in the CarPad, which then charges the battery in the car.

BMW’s 530e iPerformance model has the parking systems that help the driver to manoeuvre into the correct parking position over the GroundPad using a WiFi connection between the charging station and the vehicle.  Once the connection has been made, an overhead view of the car and its surroundings then appears in the car’s display screen with coloured lines that help guide the driver into position.  An icon shows up on the screen when the correct parking position is reached for the process of inductive charging.  BMW say the position for parking over the top of the GroundPad isn’t difficult to locate as the position can deviate by up to 7 cm longitudinally and up to 14 cm laterally – so it has plenty of buffering for getting a good connection.  To easy!

We already are becoming familiar with the wireless charging systems inside many new cars from different manufacturers where mobile phones and electric toothbrushes can be wirelessly charged inside the car.  BMW says its wireless charging uses the same inductive charging technology already widely used for supplying power to devices such as these.

BMW has unveiled a wireless charging system that will be available in Germany, followed shortly by the UK, the US, Japan and China.  It’s nice to be able to boast this technology and do away with cords and manual contraptions for charging your hybrid.  Germany and Europe seem to be leading the way with cutting edge EV technology, and this inductive charging system, created by BMW, will set the ball rolling for other manufacturers to follow suit.

I can imagine, like BMW, a world where you just pull up to your car park in the city, and the wireless inductive charging facility that’s set in place, in the road, underneath your EV will charge up your car while you duck into the café for a coffee or buy the necessary office equipment for your business.  This is all pretty cool technology!