Porsche is rolling out a new sixth-generation infotainment system to many of its core models as its cars become more connected.
The system, known as Porsche Communication Management (PCM) has been enhanced, with one of the main changes being the addition of full Spotify integration. Customers of the music streaming service can link their account to the car, and use Spotify as an additional media source without having to actually connect the phone to the car.
Elsewhere, the new system can be identified by the coloured shortcut buttons, which make it ‘easier to recognise’ for customers, while the upgraded voice control system is said to make it easier to access news and in-car music streaming. Wireless Android Auto is also now included.
The infotainment system is now featured as standard on new Porsche 911, Cayenne, Panamera and electric Taycan models. It will be particularly useful to drivers of the Taycan, as Porsche has enhanced its ‘Charging Planner’ service, with the firm saying the system is now able to ‘plan charging stops more efficiently’ by prioritising the quickest chargers. Drivers are able to filter electric car chargers by their output, too.
It can also now factor in how long it takes to start and end a charge when calculating routes. These changes are said to make a ‘much-improved charging service’, and let owners maximise the impressive rapid charging speeds that the Taycan is capable of.
Any of the aforementioned Porsche models that are newly configured on the firm’s website will feature this latest infotainment system, though the full scope of the features does depend on the car being configured.
Brands are going all-in on electric – here, we take a look at what Audi has to offer.
The electric vehicle revolution is in full swing as manufacturers race to build zero-emission models into their line-ups before petrol and diesel models are banned from sale.
The result is that there are a baffling array of new models on the scene, and it can take a bit of time to get used to this. With this in mind, we’re putting together a new series of features highlighting the electric models in various manufacturer line-ups.
First up is Audi, with the premium car maker’s ‘e-tron’ range under the spotlight. You won’t get any of the German firm’s regular models with an electric powertrain, instead all its zero-emission models fall under this separate banner.
Here’s everything you need to know about Audi e-tron…
The Audi e-tron was the first of these electric models to be introduced. It’s an SUV with blocky styling and a technologically advanced cabin, with its spacious interior making it an ideal family car. Haha
It’s offered in 50 and 55 model designation, which refer to the battery size and performance on offer. The 50 makes 309bhp and has a range of up to 198 miles depending on trim, while the 55 makes 402bhp and will go up to 254 miles.
It’s also available in a Sportback body style, which brings a sleek, coupe-like body style at the expense of some practicality, as well as a sporty S version. This latter model features three electric motors making 496bhp, and can travel up to 223 miles.
Audi Q4 e-tron
If you like the look of the e-tron but its starting price seems a little steep, the Q4 e-tron could be the model for you. It’s also an SUV, but it is cheaper, meaning you get just a little less performance, technology and practicality for a decent saving.
Here you get the choice between 35, 40 and 50 batteries, with the 35 getting 168bhp and a range of up to 208 miles, and the 40 making 201bhp with a range of up to 319 miles. Top of the range 50 cars get 295bhp and a range of up to 300 miles.
Like the larger e-tron, the Q4 is available in sleek Sportback form.
Audi e-tron GT
The flagship of the e-tron range is the GT model, which combines a gorgeous coupe body shape with four-door practicality. It’s easily the most technologically advanced model in the range, but it comes at a price. Both these trim levels will go a shade under 300 miles per charge, while the electric motors provide a healthy 462bhp.
However, if it’s performance you’re after, the e-tron GT is the first electric vehicle to wear an RS badge. RS models make 581bhp and take just three seconds to hit 60mph, but the price of this performance is a slightly lower range of about 285 miles.
KTM has announced plans to create road-going versions of its hugely successful X-Bow GT2 racing car.
The Austrian firm, which is better known for making motorcycles, has also been building the quirky-looking X-Bow sports car since 2008.
Now, it has developed the X-Bow with the motorsport experience it has gained over the years to create one of the most performance-focused versions of the model yet.
Based on the GT2, which was introduced to the racing scene in 2021, it uses the latest generation of the X-Bow as its base. The racing version has seen huge success over the past year, having won races and championships across the globe.
KTM says its road car developers will be working in tandem with the motorsport team to refine the design of the GT2 for road use. It says this includes ‘performance testing, crashing testing and initial road testing in Europe’.
One key focus is said to be its lightweight construction, with a particular emphasis on the use of components with optimised designs as well as carbon-fibre-reinforced polymer body work.
The safety cell that surrounds the driver and protects occupants in the event of a crash will be a carbon monocoque design with a reinforced canopy.
Performance comes from an Audi-sourced five-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which is mounted in the rear and comes with a seven-speed automatic transmission. It makes almost 600bhp, and it’s likely that this full performance capability will be offered in the road version, though there is no official confirmation.
Details are thin on the ground, with KTM only showing off some teaser images of the vehicle wearing camouflage. The firm will reveal the car’s launch date nearer the time
Aston Martin has shown off a new teaser image of a more powerful version of its DBX SUV.
The British brand has yet to confirm a name but it’s rumoured to be called the ‘DBX S’. It’s a similar naming strategy that’s been adopted on other models in recent years, such as the Vantage and Vanquish.
The teaser image, revealed on social media, doesn’t give too many clues away, but it looks like the racier DBX will sit lower than the standard car, while a new front splitter hints at its sportier intent. At the rear, the diffuser looks far larger than the regular DBX’s, while revised alloy wheels appear to be fitted too.
Aston Martin is keeping tight-lipped about the new model, though has reiterated that the new car will be ‘the most powerful luxury SUV’. That means it’s expected to get a big power hike, to put it ahead of Bentley’s Bentayga Speed, which uses a 6.0-litre W12 engine developing 626bhp.
The DBX’s current Mercedes-derived 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 puts out 542bhp, though Mercedes sells a heavily-tuned version of it with 630bhp, which is likely to be what Aston Martin uses for its new car.
After much delay, Aston Martin finally launched the DBX in 2020 as its first SUV, and it’s now the brand’s best-selling model, accounting for around half of its entire sales in 2021.
Aston Martin is set to reveal the new DBX derivative on February 1.
Porsche sold more electric Taycan models in 2021 than its iconic 911 sports car as the German firm resisted supply difficulties seen elsewhere in the industry.
The Taycan is the first of the firm’s next-generation electric vehicles and was introduced in 2019. In its first full year on sale about 20,000 units were shifted, but that more than doubled to 41,296 in 2021.
This meant that it sailed past sales of the 911, which were at their highest level ever with 38,464 deliveries.
These positive figures were reflected across the business, as Porsche’s sales increased 11 per cent on 2020, with 301,915 vehicles sold.
While 2020’s sales were hit by the pandemic, all car manufacturers have been struggling with supply issues surrounding semiconductor computer chips, with very few seeing sales increasing last year and many customers facing months of delay on new cars.
Detlev von Platen, board member for sales and marketing at Porsche, said: “Despite the challenges posed by the semiconductor shortage and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic we have been working hard to enable more customers than ever before to fulfil their dream of owning a Porsche.
“Demand remains high and our order books are looking very robust, so we start 2022 full of momentum and confidence in all regions of the world.”
Porsche says its sales increased in every market it operates, with growth particularly high in the US, where sales topped 70,000 units, up 22 per cent. However, China remains the largest market, with an increase of nine per cent taking deliveries over 95,000.
Demand in Europe was strong with an increase of seven per cent to 86,160. However, Porsche says this region is particularly interesting because of the amount of electrified models – 40 per cent of European sales were either electric or plug-in hybrid.
Detlev von Platen added: “The overall result is very promising and shows the strategy to further electrify our fleet is working and is in line with demand and the preferences of our customers. At the same time, unit sales are not the decisive factor for us. Rather, we want to stand for exclusive and unique customer experiences and will continue to expand these worldwide.”
Here are the electric cars making range anxiety a thing of the past.
One of the biggest barriers to electric vehicle ownership is worrying about running out of charge.
While many people install chargers at home, this isn’t possible for everyone, so ‘range anxiety’ is a valid concern.
So, if you’re looking for an electric car but travelling long distances between charges is important, here are 10 cars to consider.
1. Mercedes-Benz EQS – 453 miles
It’s often said that get what you pay for and when it comes to electric vehicle range that’s very true, as the Mercedes-Benz EQS is currently the car with the longest range on sale.
It’s essentially the electric version of the firm’s S-Class model, which is famous for being one of the most luxurious and tech-heavy cars money can buy. This continues with the EQS, which has all the best equipment and technology that won’t feature on other models for years.
2. Tesla Model S – 405 miles
When it comes to electric vehicles, few companies have badge appeal as high as Tesla. And while it’s the smaller, more affordable Model 3 that’s making headlines as the second-best-selling car in the UK last year, it’s the Model S you want if range is key.
If you’re after the longest range, you’ll have to go for the dual-motor all-wheel-drive model, which can go from 0-60mph in 3.1 seconds. However, impressively, the ludicrously fast triple-motor Plaid model can still go 396 miles to a charge, still some way ahead of the third-placed car in this list.
3. BMW iX – 380 miles
BMW might have been a little slow to really get its electric ‘i’ brand off the ground, but with the iX as its flagship it has really hit its stride. Its looks are challenging but one thing you can’t deny is that it has a fantastic interior and wonderful driving experience.
4. Ford Mustang Mach-E – 379 miles
The first of the more affordable models in this list, the Mustang Mach-E might not be the best to drive but it’s stylish with a fantastic interior and has one of the best value cash-to-range ratios around.
To get this maximum range you’ll need to opt for the less powerful rear-wheel drive model with the Extended Range battery.
5. BMW i4 – 365 miles
Another BMW, but this time it’s a saloon rather than an SUV. Loosely based on the popular 4-Series, the i4 has familiar styling but with a big battery beneath.
Like the iX it offers an excellent driving experience with one of the most comfortable suspension systems of any electric vehicle. It’s not quite as practical as the iX, but it’s much less expensive.
6. Tesla Model 3 – 360 miles
The Tesla Model 3 broke all sorts of records for electric vehicles in the UK last year, with only the hugely popular Vauxhall Corsa outselling it. It’s the most affordable Tesla yet and brings the firm’s minimalist cabin and exciting driving experience to a wider market.
There are a few variants available but it’s the dual-motor Long Range model that gets you furthest between charges.
7. Tesla Model X – 348 miles
The third and final Tesla is the Model X. It’s the firm’s only SUV and is great as a family car, having seven seats and a frankly massive cabin.
Like the Model S it’s not entirely clear when you’d get your Model X if you placed a deposit right now, but once your car arrives you’re looking at about 348 miles from the battery.
8. Volkswagen ID.3 – 340 miles
Volkswagen has made what is arguably the best all-round family car in the Golf, and the ID.3 is the firm’s attempt at doing the same for the EV market. Looking at sales figures, it’s doing a decent job, too.
There are appealing entry level options with a smaller battery, but to get maximum range you need the Tour specification.
9. Skoda Enyaq – 336 miles
Although the ID.3 is a great seller, the Skoda Enyaq might just be the more appealing version. With Skoda being part of the VW Group it shares many parts, with the Enyaq and ID.3 sharing a platform.
However, the Skoda is nicer inside in many ways with excellent build quality and a stylish exterior. Opt for the 80 model to get maximum range for an almost identical price to the Volkswagen – it’s definitely worth a look.
10. Polestar 2 – 335 miles
Polestar is a newcomer to the car market, having previously been the performance arm of Volvo. Now it makes stylish electric cars based loosely on the Swedish car maker’s underpinnings.
The Polestar 2 has a unique appearance so it really stands out on the road, while also getting the best of Volvo’s minimalist interiors. If you fancy something a bit different from the norm, this model should be high up your list.
Rolls-Royce already makes some of the most luxurious and exclusive cars in the world, but its Bespoke division gives its wealthiest customers the chance to have something even more unique.
In 2021 the firm sold more cars than in any other year in its history, and its Bespoke division, which creates limited-edition cars as well as specially commissioned one-offs, was tasked with some ‘truly remarkable’ projects.
The West Sussex-based car maker has now highlighted some of the most special creations from the past 12 months.
Rolls-Royce Wraith Kryptos
The Kryptos is one of the more interesting automotive projects to come out of 2021. A year earlier, Rolls-Royce revealed that it would be building a collection of cars with a code that must be cracked.
There are hidden cyphers embedded into the design of the car. To the average onlooker they are simply aesthetic touches, but they contain a code that must be cracked.
Rolls-Royce says that despite the best efforts of code crackers worldwide, only some of the codes have been resolved, with the final resolution yet to be discovered.
Rolls-Royce Coachbuilding: Boat Tail
Rolls-Royce is bringing back coachbuilding, meaning it can create unique models beyond the existing line-up. To showcase this it built three Boat Tail models, which had an elongated rear with openings that contained items such as glasses and plates that made it ideal for picnics in the great outdoors.
Rolls-Royce Phantom Oribe
A Japanese entrepreneur commissioned this extravagantly designed Phantom, which was a collaboration between Rolls-Royce and luxury designer House of Hermes.
It has a bespoke two-tone exterior paint job inspired by the owner’s collection of ancient Japanese ceramics, and this paint was made available to be used on the client’s private jet.
Rolls-Royce Phantom Koa
Demonstrating the lengths that the firm will go to create unique cars, this model was commissioned by car collector Jack Boyd Smith Jr and his wife Laura. It features wood from the Koa tree, which is only found in Hawaii and is protected in State and National parks.
It can only be harvested from private agricultural land and finding an example of good enough quality to use is tricky – Rolls’ wood specialist said the find was a ‘one in a million chance’.
Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black and Bright
These examples of Rolls’ SUV are inspired by ‘the ambience of Moscow at night’ and can only be found at dealerships within the Russian capital.
There are five Black Badge Cullinans, each in a bold exterior colour, while the carbon-fibre inserts are given a matching colour design.
Alpine has put a faster engine in its comfort-focused A110 chassis. DARREN CASSEY finds out if it’s as fun as it sounds.
When the Alpine A110 burst onto the scene in 2017, it felt like a breath of fresh air. Here was a small sports car with the optimal mid-engined, rear-wheel drive layout, sporting quirky styling and a focus on simple driving pleasure.
It won many plaudits for its simply fun approach, and has evolved over the years with more power and more focused driving dynamics. In 2022 it will get a mid-life refresh, but before that happens the French firm has introduced the Legende GT – limited to just 300 units in Europe, it could be the most desirable A110 recipe yet.
The premise of the Legende GT is simple. It takes the high performance engine from the A110 S, but pairs it with the more comfort focused chassis from the regular A110. This is exciting because the regular car’s USP was the fact it handled brilliantly despite not being too stiff, while the S engine’s power hike is always welcome.
As well as the engine, the Legende GT borrows the improved braking system from the S, as well as the sports exhaust to give it the soundtrack it deserves. It’s also available in two specifications, with one focused on technology and the other comfort and refinement, while a new matte silver paint job joins in addition to the signature Abyss Blue.
Mounted in the middle of the chassis sits a 1.8-litre turbocharged engine that makes 288bhp and 320Nm of torque. Sending power to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, it’s good for a 4.2-second 0-60mph time and a top speed of 155mph.
You might have noticed that the overall power output is not hugely impressive – top hot hatches have more – but as you can see from the acceleration figures, the A110 is quick thanks to its lightweight construction. Because of this combination, we even managed a hugely respectable 40mpg on more casual runs.
The Alpine’s ethos is to provide a pure driving experience, and it’s fair to say it nails that brief. It’s small but visibility is surprisingly good all round, while the steering offers excellent feedback and the pedal weights are perfectly judged.
It’s easy to get into a rhythm on a country lane because the Legende GT is just so intuitive to drive. The boosty engine feels punchier than its power output suggests and it makes a great noise – not particularly refined but deep and gravelly.
Without the track-focused suspension from the S, it feels much more in tune with the road surface. It’s less likely to become unsettled by bumps, which gives you the confidence to enjoy its capabilities. It’s genuinely more fun than some cars twice the price.
The A110 has some awkward details but the overall combination works really well to provide a characterful style that’s genuinely interesting and like nothing else on the road. Up front you have the quad headlight design that’s a nod to the classic car of the same name.
The rear is slightly less coherent with the roofline and boot merging together into a subtle spoiler, beneath which slim rear lights sit and a single, central-exit exhaust system. Intricate alloy wheels complete the picture with its dinky frame giving off a smart, purposeful design.
One of the few downsides to the driver-focused approach is that interior quality is lower on the agenda. The driving position is great, but there’s not as much steering wheel adjustment as you get in rivals like the Porsche Cayman, meaning some compromise will be needed for taller drivers. That being said, the Sabelt sport seats are very comfortable and supportive.
Generally the materials used in the cabin are pleasant but not particularly premium, while the infotainment system feels ancient, struggling with smartphone connectivity. Fortunately, the facelifted version coming next year has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which will go a long way to address this.
The Legende GT is available in the trademark Abyss Blue as well as the matte Mercury SIlver that our test car was finished in – it looked fantastic. It gets 18-inch alloy wheels with gold brake callipers, which are matched to the gold Alpine monograms, while translucent LED rear lights further differentiate this from other A110 models.
Inside, you can specify the six-way adjustable Sabelt Comfort leather seats in either amber or black with matching leather door panels. There’s also a Dinamica headliner and glossy carbon-fibre elements within the dashboard. Beneath the centre console sits a plaque with the vehicle’s build number on it.
On paper, the Alpine A110 Legende GT should be a fantastic sports car, and in reality it absolutely delivers. It’s genuinely one of the purest sports car driving experiences on the market, and coupling the higher performance engine with the less aggressive chassis makes for a near-perfect road driving combination.
It might lack the cabin sparkle and badge appeal of some rivals, but if that sort of thing doesn’t bother you then this little French wonder should be top of your shopping list.
Toyota has revealed a bespoke GT3 race car concept that demonstrates it’s serious about making ‘ever-better cars, bred from motorsport’.
Despite selling more cars each year than any other manufacturer thanks to an appealing range of efficient mainstream models, Toyota is doubling down on its commitment to making performance cars, too.
The Japanese firm is putting a big focus on its motorsport programme, with this GR GT3 Concept demonstrating its ‘driver-first’ vehicle development for customer motorsport. The move is undoubtedly being pushed by Toyota president Akio Toyoda, who races competitively himself.
Typically, companies adapt road cars for motorsport, but Toyota plans to build motorsport-focused cars that can later be homologated for road use – this approach is more commonly associated with niche and exotic car makers.
Technological advancements made while building these vehicles can then influence more mainstream models and make them better to drive, safer or more efficient.
Toyota’s factory motorsport division is called Gazoo Racing, and in recent years the firm’s road-going performance models have worn GR badges. The Yaris GRMN, a road-going homologation of a rally car that ultimately never saw competition, has won many awards from the motoring press.
Building on its reputation, a new limited-edition version is going on sale in Japan. Just 500 examples will be made, sporting a 20kg weight reduction, a 10mm increase in width to improve aerodynamic performance, and a 10mm drop in ride height to lower the centre of gravity.
Customers will be selected through a reservation lottery.
Finally, Toyota’s first bespoke electric vehicle has been given a GR makeover. The bZ4X GR Sport Concept gets larger-diameter tyres, sports seats and matte black exterior body panels.