How to prove your love? Buy her a new car: choosing the right wheels for your loved one

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“What to buy her for a birthday, wedding, or dating anniversary gift?” – This question bothers millions of men every single day. Some buy flowers, others choose new food processors, washing machines, or smartphones, but the best present one can come up with is a new car. But among hundreds of types and models, it’s hard to make the right choice.

Continue reading “How to prove your love? Buy her a new car: choosing the right wheels for your loved one”

Is KTM RC 390 Really Worth The Extra Money?

It’s going to be an interesting few months as motorcycle manufacturers scramble to make model year changes to remain in compliance with Euro IV norms that are set to kick in this April. Hero seems to have got a jump start on everyone with their last couple of launches and now KTM gets in on the act too. For now we are being introduced to the pair of RCs that are on sale in the country, the 390 and the 200. Continue reading “Is KTM RC 390 Really Worth The Extra Money?”

Future proof – NanoFlowcell Quantino

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We say: the CO2-neutral saltwater-powered car is here. We’ve driven it. Now can someone sell it, please?

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The Quantino comes in “Water Duster” Yellow

The Quantino is a 2+2-seat city car that handles like a lower, heavier BMW i3. I’m telling you this now because this bit of the mag is called “Drives”. And it’s the mind-melting science that actually powers the Quantino that needs properly picking apart, rather than the surprisingly agile way it slews around a corner.

Basically, it’s an electric car, but it’s not a charge-up battery job. The Quantino uses a flow cell to generate power on board. Instead of plugging it into the wall for a couple of hours, you fill its twin 159-litre on-board tanks with “two ionic liquids” via a roadside pump.

One batch of “bi-ion” fluid holds a positive charge, the other a negative charge. The car pumps these liquids through a membrane, where the interaction of the electrons generates an electrical charge. The liquid is vapourised and released harmlessly, we’re told, as “water dust”. This empties the tank so you can refill it. It also massively decreases the car’s weight as you drive – adaptive suspension stops the full 320kg fuel bloat knackering handling.

The Quantino is also the world’s first low-voltage electric car. Every other EV uses high voltage, and heavy, pricey cables. The Quantino’s are no thicker than a human finger.

Low voltage is usually used for low-speed stuff like golf carts and mobility scooters, but because the NanoFlowcell system produces high current at low-rated voltage, the company says it can get away with smaller wires without the heat build-up.

Meanwhile, the charge is stored in a supercapacitor, which is like a giant industrial-strength battery, more resistant to frequent charge-use-charge cycles than a regular battery, and can provide the bursts of power necessary for a car. It’s the size of a shoebox.

Because the fuel is essentially saltwater, it’s abundant and can be produced anywhere on Earth (the exact process is a closely guarded secret). It’s also not volatile as petrol is, so it’s easy to store and transport, makes crash safety easier and bi-ion doesn’t have a shelf-life.

quantinoThe whine of the drive system gets progressively louder as the speed rises, but it’s still perfectly easy to hold a conversation, and once the system has been refined and shrunk behind a bulkhead, it’ll be leagues quieter in the production version. If you could buy one. Which you can’t.

NanoFlowcell is adamant it is a tech company, not a carmaker. This is merely a demonstrator. Instead, the company is “in talks with a major automaker” to sell its propulsion concept on in 2017, and tapping up an aircraft manufacturer to provide alternative on-board power to lithium-ion batteries. Are you listening, Boeing?

Verdict: A genius principle. Now show us your working and see if the world’s fuel and transport giants are game to invest.

Paris Motor Show: the Knowledge

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Parisian information in condensed format

The Wows

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Renault Trezor

Renault Trezor. In the spirit of all good concept cars, Renault’s new Trezor hits all the bullseyes: daft name, impossibly low-slung and slinky bodywork, embarrassing mode of ingress, next-gen drivetrain. But it’s not the flight of fancy that it might first appear. OK, we’re not likely to see red glass making any kind of appearance on a new Clio anytime soon, but as design senior VP Laurens van den Acker says: “This concept prepares the way for trends we are likely to see in our upcoming vehicles”. So elements of the Trezor might have a future.

So what is it exactly? A rear-drive, carbon-heavy two-seat GT with the motor nicked from the Formula E Renault e.dams, giving 350bhp and 230lb ft and a 0-62mph time of under four seconds. Two battery packs are housed separately – meaning excellent weight distribution and low c of g – and there’s a cooling system on the ‘bonnet’ that features honeycomb air intakes that flicker depending on load. It looks a bit like a moving gill, apparently. Outside, it looks like a living Hot Wheels, all sensual curves and low, wide stance. The canopy glides up and forward – meaning you have to step over the side into cockpit filled with the usual connectivity-obsessed concept memes. A happy fantasy. With its own rose-tinted specs.

 

Mercedes – AMG GT C Roadster

mercedes-amgPossibly the worst-kept secret ever, the AMG GT C Roadster made its first official, in-the-metal appearance at Paris as decent competition for the F-Type R/R8 Spyder/911 et al. Actually there were two cars on show, a standard GT Roadster with a measly 469bhp and the slightly more monstrous GT C.

And it’s the GT C that’s really going to ruffle some quality toupees, featuring as it does not just a folding canvas drop-top, but a whole suite of suitably fast bits from the ‘Ring-slaying AMG GT R Coupe. That means 549bhp from the 4.0-litre dry-sumped twin-turbo V8, enough for a very respectable 0-62mph time of just 3.7 seconds and double-ton-scraping 196mph. That’s a not-inconsiderable 46bhp more than a GT S Coupe, by the way. It’s also got the GT R’s wider track, rear-wheel steer and active aero flops, which should help keep it all pointing in the right direction when the wind blast rips your forehead off.

Inevitably, the reinforcement necessary to mitigate chopping the roof off and replacing it with a three-layer folding convertible has meant upping the weight to 1,735kg, with the GT C weighing in at a fairly hefty 90kg more than the GT S Coupe, but hey, you can’t lower the roof on a Coupe in 11secs (at speeds up to around 30mph) and let the V8 noise soothe you. The good news is that the performance exhaust is standard fit. And it’s loud.

Prices haven’t been announced, but expect over a hundred grand for the standard roadster seeing as the GT Coupe lists at $120,000.

 

Mercedes Vision Van – Parcel Delivery Just Got Interestingmercedes-vision-van

Before Amazon’s drones take over the world, Mercedes is giving the van one last shot at delivery dominance. This one is electric, steered by joystick, has an automated cargo space, sorts its own logistics and carries two drones on the roof. Hopefully they are combat ready.

So, what else is new?

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Mazda 6 2.2 SkyActiv-Dmazda-6

What should I know? More tweaks for the Mazda6, including a new steering wheel, a quieter diesel engine and the first application of G-Vectoring Control. This last one is Mazda’s novel way of torque-vectoring to aid handling.

Should I care? Yes. As D-segment cars go, the latest Mazda6 remains striking to look at, nice to drive and well-equipped; we wonder why more people aren’t buying into them.

 

Tesla Model S 60Dtesla

What should I know? Meet the entry-level Tesla. Bored waiting for the Model 3? Us too. In the meantime, the Model S (now with a simmer fake-grille moustache) gets a 60kWh battery. It does 0-62 in 5.4 seconds.

Should I care? Yup. Ignore YouTube drag races: this is the smartest Model S. It’s still effortlessly rapid, and range is a realistic 253 miles. But besides the performance, the fact you can now put a Tesla on the drive ought to terrify Audi et al.

 

Jaguar XE AWDjaguar

What should I know? Jaguar is offering AWD on its XE and XF saloons. Clearly it fancies a slice of the quattro and xDrive pie.

Should I care? We’d argue not. The option price is good value tech-wise, buying you a rear-biased AWD system similar to an F-Type’s. But neither saloon has ever been anything less than adept and well balanced, and mpg falls 10 per cent. Decent winter tyres will serve you better when the snow storms come.

More Details About Nissan’s ProPILOT Drive Assist Tech Were Revealed

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Nissan’s new autonomous drive assist technology, ProPILOT, is likely to start out as a £1,500 option in the updated Qashqai next year, but bosses have told it won’t be a scalable system that could later be updated with more advanced autonomous technology.

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The first version of ProPILOT, Traffic Jam Pilot, is to be featured in the new, 2017 Qashqai, and will be able to control the car’s acceleration, braking and steering in single-lane traffic and highway use. Takashi Shirakawa, senior vice president of Nissan’s European Technical Centre, told us: “In Japan the option [sold on the Nissan Serena] is around 200,000Yen; it could sell for around £1,500 in the UK.”

The next versions of ProPILOT, called Highway Pilot and Intercity Pilot, are due in 2018 and 2020. The former will allow vehicles to automatically switch lanes and overtake on motorways, while the third version will be able to drive autonomously in certain urban environments.

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New Qashqai – hinted at by the Premium Concept at the Geneva show in March – will bring self-drive tech. But buyers won’t be able to upgrade this.

However, early adopters of Nissan cars with the first iteration of ProPILOT won’t be able to upgrade to more advanced autonomous technology in the coming years, as they can with set-ups from other manufacturers such as Tesla. “The second and third generations will use different kinds of sensors,” Shirakawa added.

3008 is Carbuyer Car of the Year

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The Carbuyer Magazine has named Peugeot’s new 3008 as its Car of the Year 2017. The model also took top honours in the Best SUV category.

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Carbuyer editor Stuart Milne said: “Repositioning the 3008 as a conventional SUV was a masterstoke, meaning Peugeot has introduced a brilliant car at a time when the market is booming. There’s so much for new 3008 owners to enjoy, from a gorgeous interior to a smooth drive and the clever i-Cockpit digital display.”

Also honoured were the Skoda Citigo (Best first car) and Ford Ka+ (Best car for under £10,000).

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Skoda Citigo

 

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Ford Ka +

The New Volkswagen Arteon Will Rise and Shine At Geneva Motor Show 2017

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Volkswagen has revealed what will will be its star at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show in March – a sleek new four-door coupe saloon called the Arteon.

VW bosses say it’s a “totally new model” that will sit above the Passat saloon in the manufacturer’s range and replace the current CC, although they’re also keen to stress that the Arteon is a step up in class and isn’t a direct replacement.

VW Arteon will be pitched as a rival to the BMW4 Series Gran Coupe and will hit showrooms next summer, with prices from around £30,000. As well as boasting sleek coupe styling, the Arteon will introduce a new “horizontally accentuated” brand look.

“The sketches reveal that the design stays true to the Sport Coupe Concept GTE unveiled last year”

The large grille with horizontal slats extends into the 3D-styled headlamps, while LED exterior lights will emphasise the car’s premium image.

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VW Sport Coupe Concept GTE

The sketches also reveal that the design stays true to the Sport Coupe Concept GTE unveiled at last year’s Geneva Motor Show, which previewed the production model.

In addition, VW has confirmed that the Arteon will feature frameless windows, as well as a maximum 1,700-litre load area with the rear row of seats folded flat.

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Sketch shows Arteon signals launch of new corporate look for brand, with large grille and horizontal slats

No images of or details about the interior have been revealed but, given the coupe’s position in the range, we’re expecting an emphasis on technology. Features such as Volkswagen’s Active Info Screen cockpit display should come as standard, while gesture control from the facelifted Golf could also find its way into the newcomer.

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Arteon will replace CC, but represents step up in class and will rival BMW’s 4 Series Gran Coupe

The Arteon’s engine range is likely to mirror the Passat’s, which means it will get four-cylinder turbo petrols and diesels. But the Sport Coupe Concept GTE debuted a 374bhp 3.0-litre petrol-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain, which could eventually make it into showrooms in an Arteon GTE. That powertrain claimed fuel economy of 118mpg and CO2 emissions of 46g/km.

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Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV Had Another Mysterious Appearance

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Rolls-Royce has released the first official images of its new Project Cullinan SUV ahead of its showroom launch in 2018.

It shows the Bentley Bentayga rival wearing its production body for the first time, albeit with a heavy disguise. Despite that, the test mule gives away the overall shape and size; previously, we’d only seen the SUV wearing a Phantom body, but these shots show a much taller and more imposing vehicle.

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Under the skin, the Project Cullinan sits on all-new aluminium architecture that will eventually be used for the next-generation Phantom. A new suspension system is also being tested that promises to deliverthe brand’s “famous magic-carpet ride on a variety of surfaces”.

The production model is expected to use the Cullinan name, while Rolls-Royce promises we will see the model testing around the Arctic Circle and the Middle East next year. Expect to see plenty more spy shots in the coming months, then.

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Official teaser images show Rolls SUV on test in camouflage. It will sit on an all-aluminium architecture

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Ford Fiesta ‘Active’ Version Was Unveiled

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Ford has revealed it will introduce more rugged-looking ‘Active’ versions of its cars. Joseph Bakaj, vice president for product development at Ford of Europe, confirmed the news after the unveiling of the Fiesta Active, due to arrive in 2017.

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The Active edition appeared as one of four ‘styles’ of the new Fiesta at the car’s debut in Cologne, alongside ST-Line, Titanium and Vignale. Active brings raised ride height and extra body cladding, giving the car the look of an SUV without any real prospect of additional off-road ability.

Ford’s European boss Jim Farley said he does not expect the Fiesta Active to impact sales of the firm’s Nissan Juke rival, the EcoSport, explaining. “I don’t envisage there being any real crossover between Fiesta Active customers and EcoSport buyers.”

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Rugged-looking version of latest Fiesta to lead new family of Active-spec Fords

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Schnitzer ACS3 Sport – Who Ordered the Canard?

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Weirdly, the carbonfibre aero flicks share their name with French ducks. Less weirdly, look what BM’s sainted tuner has done to the M3

schnitzerThis ACS3 Sport is Schnitzer’s rolling showroom, kitted out with the Aachen-based tuner’s key suspension, engine, exhaust, alloy wheels, tyres and styling packages.

The simple menu structure that Schnitzer offers makes choosing specific upgrades much easier, and the company says it will work with customers to deliver packages tailored to budg­ets and requirements.

Styling is subjective, so let’s not argue over the ACS3 Sport’s looks. If carbonfibre wings, splitters, canards (that’s the posh term for those front-bumper flicks) and diffusers are your thing, then Schnitzer can indulge you to your wallet’s content. Ditto the set of lightweight forged AC1 alloy wheels. Personally, it’s all a bit Fast and Furious for me, but then I wear cufflinks and suede brogues, so what do I know?

Arguably of more interest are the perfor­mance and dynamic packages. The hard­ware power upgrade boosts output by 58bhp and 70lb ft over the Comp Pack to a formidable 503bhp and 4761b ft. It comes with an inclusive two-year warranty – cost extendable to three – and BMW’s warranty remains intact. This is complemented by the RS Adjustable Suspension pack and the sports exhaust.

Collectively, these packages lift the Comp Pack on to an altogether more visceral level. That performance boost means the BMW now hurls itself down the road at a rate that instantly dries your mouth and dampens your hands. Above 3000rpm there are great big dollops of neck-straining acceleration to be had, brutal enough to have the traction light sparkling like a discoball on an exuberant ’70s night. It’s viciously quick.

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A front splitter like this features in the nightmares of most small, slow-moving mammals

The suspension is nigh-cm per­fectly judged – sure, it’s very firm but it’s never jagged or brittle, and there’s less of the fast-moving anvil experience of the standard M4 and a welcome sense of agility. It feels far more biddable and friskier, as if a little helium has been injected into the chassis. A pity then, that the manually adjustable suspension does away with the push-button versatility of the M4’s adjustable set-up.

And that sports exhaust sounds, well, just glorious. Where the M4 Comp Pack sounds like a flatulent diesel generator, the Schnitzer roars, howls, spits and wails just the way you’d want a 500bhp supercoupe to – as long as you don’t live next door to it. Outstanding.

So, if you’re a current or poten­tial M4 or M3 owner looking for a dash more dynamic and visual aggression, then Schnitzer’s range of upgrades are well worthy of your consideration. Just go easy on those carbon canards.