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Aston Martin DB12 Volante revealed as glamorous new convertible

New DB12 Volante makes its global debut at Monterey Car Week

Aston Martin has unveiled the DB12 Volante as a stunning convertible version of its new GT car.

Following the reveal of the DB12 in coupe form earlier in the year, the Volante arrives to provide a more glamorous, roof-down feel.

Making its debut at the Monterey Car Week in California, the DB12 is powered by a 671bhp 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine – significantly more than the 503bhp the previous DB11 Volante had at its launch in 2018.

That allows the new DB12 to accelerate from 0-60mph in 3.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 202mph.

The DB12 Volante uses a fabric soft-top, featuring eight layers of insulation. It takes just 16 seconds to close electronically and can work at speeds of up to 31mph. It can be opened using the key, too. The roof comes as standard in black, but red, blue and ‘black and silver’ colours are also available.

Photos: PA Media

Like the DB12 Coupe, this Volante model gets a significantly overhauled interior compared to the old DB11. This includes a new 10.25-inch touchscreen with advanced connected services and 3D satellite navigation mapping. The ‘What3Words’ navigation function is also integrated, along with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Aston Martin chief executive officer, Amedeo Felisa, said: “For many of our customers, roof-down driving is the greatest pleasure. Aston Martin Volantes have captured that emotion and expressed it in a unique style for more than six decades.

“With the new DB12 Volante we have changed the rules, creating a car that intensifies those feelings by preserving all the purity and exceptional sporting capabilities of the DB12 Coupe. A rare and true sporting convertible in every respect, this is a car to challenge preconceptions and find a new generation of Volante customer.”.

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Is Volkswagen’s updated ID.3 the new family EV hatch of choice?

Volkswagen has tweaked its ID.3 hatchback, but can it compete against newer rivals? Ted Welford finds out.

Volkswagen’s ID.3 was meant to signal the third era for this German firm. The first was the introduction of the original Beetle, and then the second was when the all-conquering Golf arrived.

But despite being built around specific EV underpinnings – and Volkswagen throwing all it could in terms of technology at it – the ID.3 received a bit of a lukewarm reception, both from the press and the public, with sales not being quite as high as VW predicted.

Volkswagen appointed a new CEO, Thomas Schafer, last year and one of his first missions was to fastrack an upgraded ID.3 into production. This car has now arrived ahead of schedule, but is it worth considering?

Photos: PA Media

Despite the ID.3 only being introduced recently, a facelifted model is already here. On looks alone, not a huge amount seems to have changed. We’ll explore more about the visual changes later, but Volkswagen’s aim was to make the ID.3 look more ‘grown up’.

Mechanically nothing has altered either, so it’s inside where the bulk of the differences occur. The touchscreen, a major bone of contention previously, is running new software, while VW has worked to improve the cabin quality with more soft-touch materials, too.

There are two versions of the ID.3 available – the Pro and the Pro S. The former uses a 58kWh battery allowing for a claimed range of 266 miles, while the latter gets a significantly bigger battery that Volkswagen claims an impressive 347 miles for.

We’re trying the Pro S here, but each uses the same 201bhp electric motor, sending drive to the rear wheels. Accelerating to 60mph takes 7.7 seconds, with the ID.3 maxing out at 99mph.

The ID.3 can also charge at up to 170kW, meaning an 80 per cent charge can theoretically take place in just half an hour with a quick enough charger. Efficiency is one of this Volkswagen’s strong points, too, and 300 miles should be achievable without too much effort.

Volkswagen hasn’t really changed anything about how the ID.3 drives, and we’re fine with that as this is a very accomplished model in this respect. Even on our test car’s large 20-inch alloy wheels, the ride was surprisingly compliant, though you might want to opt for the standard 18-inch rims where maximum comfort is concerned.

It handles well, too, staying planted to the road even when pushed. You can also feel that it’s rear-wheel-drive when pressing on, with the back end feeling ever so slightly playful. We think there’s definitely potential for a sportier ID.3 with a chassis as good as this. This Volkswagen lacks some of the immediacy of rivals like the MG4 while accelerating, but is more than fast enough in day-to-day driving.

You’d really have to see a new and old ID.3 parked next to each other to be able to spot the difference, but one of the most obvious changes is that the gloss black strip at the top of the bonnet is no longer there. There are new diagonal air inlets in the front bumper too, along with two new attractive colours – Dark Olivine Green and Costa Azule Blue.

Volkswagen says it’s tried to give the ID.3 a more grown-up finish; previously the front bumper and C-pillars above the rear wheels had a strange patterned texture, but both of these details have now been removed.

On looks alone, the ID.3’s cabin seems largely unchanged. But we’re pleased to report that a lot of the cheaper, low-rent plastics of the old car (such as on the dashboard and door panels) have been removed in favour of new soft-touch materials. It’s really helped to lift the interior and helped to make it feel more ‘VW’, though there’s lots of questionable use of gloss black in all the places it’s most likely to scratch.

Where the ID.3 can’t be faulted is when it comes to interior space. Despite having a broadly similar footprint to a Golf, there’s significantly more rear seat space inside, while the boot measures a useful 385 litres. Just be aware that if you have the Pro S model, the middle rear seat is removed to be able to accommodate the larger battery.

As standard, the ID.3 comes with plenty of equipment, including adaptive cruise control, ambient lighting, wireless phone charging and a 10-inch touchscreen. The latter previously gathered criticism for being slow, glitchy and difficult to use on the move. Though new shortcut menus make it significantly better to operate, Volkswagen says a completely new screen will arrive in 2024, and we can’t help but feel the firm should have waited until then to introduce this new ID.3.

This is a relatively small update for the ID.3, but it does go a long way in improving this hatchback. The higher-quality interior is certainly the best change, but with good driving dynamics and impressive practicality, this Volkswagen remains one of the finest electric hatchbacks available.

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Fiat creates ‘world’s smallest zero-emission gelateria’ in one-off 500e Convertible

Electric model incorporates two 15-litre freezers.

Fiat has created a zero-emissions ice cream van on a compact scale using its 500e Convertible.

Billed as the ‘world’s smallest, zero-emission gelateria’, the one-off concept is based on Fiat’s electric 500e Convertible and aims to provide a ‘greener’ alternative to the traditional ice cream van.

As well as its eye-catching two-tone exterior finish with frozen gelato display, the concept features two 15-litre freezers and can even play an ‘Italian orchestral alert’ to let passers-by know that it’s ready to serve. 

Fiat says that despite its compact size, the 500e Gelateria Edition can serve ice cream to approximately 300 people per day with ice cream. The passenger and rear seats have been removed entirely, freeing up space for the attendant to move around. Gelato is then handed over to customers via the rear of the vehicle.

Photos: PA Media

Frozen gelato trays are mounted above a bespoke cabinet where the battery-powered freezers are placed, while accessories such as cones, tubs and spoons are all kept here too. When the convertible fabric roof is down, a canopy can be raised above the vehicle to provide a bit of extra shade from the sun. The Gelateria Edition also features a cream dashboard finish and bronze badging.

To celebrate the concept, Fiat has also created a new gelato flavour – Bicerin – which takes its inspiration from a hot drink native to Fiat’s home in Turin. It consists of coffee, chocolate and oat milk ingredients.

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KTM’s 390 and 125 Duke models return with refreshed design and equipment

Both models gain a range of updated parts.

KTM has updated both its 390 and 125 Duke motorcycles with a range of new features and design touches.

The 390 Duke – which remains A2-compliant – uses a new 398.7cc engine which produces 44.8bhp and meets the latest Euro5+ emissions regulations. Striking Electronic Orange and Atlantic Blue exterior colours are available, while the longer tank spoilers with air intakes meet a newly designed LED headlight to give the whole bike an even more distinctive look than before.

The 390 also comes with a new five-inch TFT display which gives access to the different rider modes, with Street and Rain settings there to change the bike’s setup. A final Track mode – available on the 390 for the first time – introduces a larger rpm counter and launch control too.

Photos: PA Media

The 125, meanwhile, which acts as the entry point to the Duke range features the same colourway options as its more powerful stablemate, but incorporates a painted headlight surround housing around the LED unit. It gets the same five-inch display as the 390 Duke, too, while Track mode remains available. Cornering ABS comes as standard too. The indicators on the 125 Duke auto-cancel, too.

Up front, the 125 Duke features a 43 non-adjustable front fork for reliable suspension travel, while a separate piston shock absorber takes care of the rest of the motorcycle and incorporates tool-adjustable preload too.

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New Mercedes EQA arrives with upgraded design and more range

Electric model now has a claimed range of up to 347 miles.

Mercedes has revamped its electric EQA with the introduction of a bold new look and a much-improved range.

Sitting as the smallest electric vehicle in the Mercedes line-up, the EQA debuts a fresh new grille design with a star pattern integrated into it. The front end of the vehicle has been made smoother to aid efficiency, too, while as before there’s a full-width light bar connecting the headlights.

The rear lights have been refreshed in design, too, and they now incorporate a star-like design which helps to make them a little more eye-catching than before.

Photos: PA Media

Inside, the EQA has been updated with a new steering wheel with touch-sensitive control panels, improved materials and the latest generation of the Mercedes MBUX infotainment system. The look of the screens can be toggled through three display styles, too, while all cars get this feature as standard. As we’ve seen on the recently updated A-Class, the EQA also does away with its predecessor’s trackpad with the screen controlled through touch alone.

The big change to the EQA comes in the form of range, however. The previous-generation EQA brought a claimed range of 260 but, through aerodynamic upgrades and highly rolling-resistance-optimised tyres, the new EQA can travel for up to 347 miles on a single charge.

This exceeds the ranges offered by many of the EQA’s key rivals, which aren’t able to offer more than 300 miles. The BMW iX1, for example, can only travel for up to 271 miles on a single charge in comparison.

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BMW’s M2 storms back on the scene

The M2 made a big name for itself when it first arrived, so how does this latest version get on? Jack Evans finds out.

The original M2 was an absolute smash hit for BMW. Its success lay in its simplicity; this was a car with a powerful engine up front, drive to the rear wheels and not an awful lot of weight in the middle. It followed a time-honoured performance coupe recipe and, funnily enough, it struck a chord with buyers the world over.

But how do you go about repeating that success? Well, if you’re BMW, you try to finesse the formula without changing it up too much. We’re checking out how this new M2 tackles the road.

Photos: PA Media

There remains a distinct lack of hybridisation with this M2 and, in fact, it’s a departure from the wider BMW direction. From this point, we’re likely to see future M cars equipped with some form of electrification, so you could argue that this M2 is the last of the breed. Still, as a celebration, it works with the M2’s powertrain setup being ‘classic’ BMW and one which has featured in all manner of the firm’s most iconic sports cars.

It remains relatively compact, just as its predecessor was, but you could argue that BMW has seen fit to make the M2 a little more grown up than before through the use of higher-end materials. It’s still a dedicated coupe, mind you, and for now, you can’t get it in other specifications. The previous car famously came in Competition flavour shortly after it was initially released.

BMW has kept a similar setup in the engine department, too. There’s still a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six petrol under the bonnet, but you’re now getting 454bhp – considerably more than the 404bhp you’d get in the old M2 Competition. Torque remains the same, however, at 550Nm.

Purists will rejoice at the continuation of a six-speed manual gearbox option, though our test car came with the eight-speed automatic. Zero to 60mph comes in just 3.9 seconds and you’ll carry on to a top speed of 150mph – or 177mph if you pick the optional M Race Track package. Efficiency isn’t too bad for this type of vehicle, either, with BMW claiming up to 29.1mpg (we saw over 30mpg during our time with the car) alongside CO2 emissions of 220g/km.

This latest M2 does feel immediately more urgent than its predecessor. The power delivery is brawny and constant, while the accompanying exhaust note has a pleasantly metallic finish to it. We did find, however, that in its sportiest settings, the M2’s throttle does feel quite ‘snatchy’ – so you tend to leave it in more comfort-focused modes when you’re driving around town.

The grip levels are superb, however, and you can really lean on the M2 through the corners. There’s a good degree of road noise at speed – so motorway journeys are a little bit boomy – but the whole car overall feels more grown-up than the one it replaces. The reactions aren’t quite as immediate, but it is still huge fun.

The older M2 was a great example of how you can make something look purposeful without swelling its dimensions too much. The new M2, naturally, looks larger and a little chunkier, but it still gets plenty of attention out on the road. The kidney grilles aren’t as intricate as they are on the ‘regular’ M240i, but we do like the big, square arches that make the M2 quite chunky on the road.

However, it feels as though the M2 doesn’t quite have the same impact on the road as the M240i. We got a chance to see the two side-by-side and it felt as though the M240i’s design was just a little bit more finessed – but it’s all down to the individual, of course.

The cabin of the M2 is a really well-made place to be. For starters, the seating position is excellent – you can get the seat nice and low while there’s plenty of adjustability for the steering wheel too. It’s nice to see that there are plenty of high-quality materials, too, while the light-up ‘M’ colours in the door cards are a nice touch.

It’s a definite four-seater, too, but there’s actually a touch more room in the back than you might expect. The front seats are easy to fold forward and they slide automatically to make getting into the back a little easier. The 390-litre boot is also quite deep and square, so it’s got more than enough room for some weekend bags or shopping. It’ll even take a set of golf clubs.

This is a more grown-up M2 than before. Accomplished, that’s for sure, but it doesn’t feel quite as energetic – and almost youthful – as the car it replaces. However, that shouldn’t water down just how accomplished this car is, particularly when it comes to cornering ability.

A stronger engine makes the whole experience even better and you could argue that this will be a more useable everyday performance car as a result of the more mature driving style that it offers.

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Zenvo Aurora revealed to mark ‘new era’ of firm

The Aurora is powered by a 1,850bhp hybrid V12 engine

Danish hypercar maker Zenvo has unveiled its new Aurora supercar – a hybrid V12-powered model that is its most powerful and lightest car to date.

Revealed during Monterey Car Week, it is said to mark the ‘start of a new era’ for the brand. Named after the Northern Lights, the Aurora is an all-new model for Zenvo too, following on from the ST1 and TSR that have served the firm for the last 16 years.

Using a carbon monocoque structure, it will be available in two guises – the more ‘aggressively styled’ Aurora Agil and the ‘beautifully elegant’ Aurora Tur. The Agil is a more flamboyant choice designed more for track use, while the Tur does without big wings and instead puts the emphasis on aerodynamics and sleeker looks.

Though Zenvo says its targets were never to ‘chase numbers’ or ‘focus on outright performance’, it’s ended up with a car that could win most games of Top Trumps. Featuring 6.6-litre quad-turbocharged V12 engine, developed in the UK by Mahle Powertrain, on its own this puts out 1,250bhp. However, it’s joined by an electric motor system that generates up to an additional 600bhp, depending on version, meaning the Aurora is capable of producing 1,850bhp – the most of any Zenvo to date.

Photos: PA Motoring

A hybridised seven-speed automatic gearbox is also used. The transmission is tailored depending on model, too, with the Agil said to offer more ‘mechanical gearchanges’, while the Tur has ‘much smoother transitions’ between gears. It can be had with rear- or all-wheel-drive, too.

The combined effort allows the Aurora to accelerate from 0-60mph in as little as 2.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 280mph. Thanks to the lightweight carbon structure, the Aurora can tip the scales at as little as 1,300kg in its lightest form – less than than a new Ford Focus.

The Aurora is reported to start from €3.6m and just 100 examples will be built, split equally across the two versions, with production not due to commence until 2025.

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Toyota’s Supra gains new special edition to celebrate customer racing milestone

New GT4 100th Edition Tribute has a range of motorsport-inspired touches.

Toyota is celebrating a significant milestone in its customer racing series with a new special edition of its GR Supra.

Earlier in the year Toyota reached 100 production units of its GR Supra GT4, a model which has been designed specifically for customers to use in motorsport events worldwide.

To commemorate the milestone, Toyota has created a new GT4 100th Edition Tribute, which incorporates a range of features and upgrades that take inspiration from motorsport.

It’s finished in an exclusive Plasma Orange exterior colour, contrasted by 19-inch matte black lightweight alloy wheels and GR-branded black brake calipers. There’s also the option to add a rear spoiler, which takes that motorsport-influenced design one step further.

Inside, there are ‘suede-like’ coverings for the seats, while there’s also a suede finish for the gear selector. The exterior colour is also matched by orange stitching.

Photos: PA Media

The special-edition model is limited to just 100 units worldwide, with all getting a carbon fibre panel on the dashboard which features a GT4 100th Edition Tribute graphic, while a panel on the driver’s side of the dash showcases this limited-edition nature even further.

The GT4 100th Edition Tribute is based around the existing 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol-engined Supra, which drives power to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. Toyota also made changes to the audio system and seat design to shed further weight over the automatic Supra, so this manual version comes in 38.3kg lighter.

Launched in 2020, the track-going Toyota GR Supra GT4 was developed in Cologne, Germany by the firm’s Gazoo Racing Europe team. It’s designed specifically for entry into the GT4 class of racing, which allows both amateurs and professionals to enter.

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Fiat stops producing grey cars as it wants customers to be more colourful

Italian firm says it wants to be known as the ‘brand of colours’

Fiat has taken the unusual step of stopping production of grey-coloured cars as it wants to make customers choose more colourful shades.

Fiat is keen to change that as it wants to be more ‘distinctive’. It says Italy is known as ‘the land of colours’, and it wants Fiat to be recognised as the ‘brand of colours’ as a result.

Olivier Francois, chief executive officer at Fiat, said: “We’ve broken the rules: and decided to stop the production of Fiat grey cars. This is challenging and disruptive and it is aimed to further reinforce Fiat’s leadership as the brand of joy, colours, and optimism. Italy is the country of colours and, starting from today, our cars too.”

To mark the announcement, Fiat’s CEO took the seat in an example of the firm’s new 600e crossover, painted grey, before it was craned into a vat of orange paint. In the video, Francois can be seen putting the window of the car up before it’s lowered fully into a huge pot of paint, only to be lifted out once again covered completely in orange.

Photos: PA Media

Though Fiat isn’t going all the way by phasing out white and black paint colours, it does offer a particularly colourful palette, including Sicilian Orange, Italia Blue and Passion Red.

Fiat isn’t the only car firm that is trying to persuade customers to choose more interesting colours. Kia and Peugeot, for example, each offer bright shades – including red, yellow and greens – as the free, no-cost colours, therefore making customers spend extra if they want to have their cars painted in a less interesting shade.

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