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Special edition Aston Martin DB5 Junior celebrates arrival of new Bond film

A limited-edition version of The Little Car Company’s Aston Martin DB5 Junior has been created to commemorate the arrival of the new James Bond movie No Time To Die in cinemas.

Built in collaboration with EON Productions, the DB5 Junior incorporates all manner of accurate features, such as Smiths instruments, individually numbered chassis plates and iconic ‘Silver Birch’ paint.

Limited to just 125 cars, the accurate recreation was made thanks to a 3D scan of an original Aston Martin DB5, allowing for the scale model to be faithful to the full-size car. Some elements, however, were brought up to date for the Junior version; the fuel gauge, for instance, shows how much battery the electric powertrain has left, while the oil temperature now monitors the motor temperature. It features a range of up to 80 miles, too.

Though the DB5 used by James Bond is a hard top, the Junior has been designed as a convertible in order to allow adults and children to sit beside one another. The DB5 also features a quick-release steering wheel for easy entry and exit, while high-performance Brembo brakes provide plenty of stopping power. It also uses Bilstein dampers and coilover springs to ensure a smooth ride.

Photos: PA Media

However, any Bond car isn’t ready to go unless it has been fitted with gadgets. And, fittingly, the DB5 Junior has been kitted out with an array of features – all designed in miniature. Oscar-winning special effects supervisor Chris Corbould OBE – who has worked on 15 James Bond films since the 1980s – consulted with The Little Car Company on the creation of the car’s gadgets, which are all operated by control hidden in a secret panel in the passenger door.

A twin set of simulated Gatling guns – including imitation barrel blasts and flashes – can be activated at the push of a button, while a smoke screen can be deployed through the rear exhaust. A supplied tank provides an hour of safe smoke before requiring a top-up.

Though not road legal, the purchase of a DB5 Junior includes an automatic membership into the Aston Martin Owners Club. Existing Aston Martin DB5 Junior owners will be given first refusal of this Bond version, with the remaining build slots given on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Is the updated Dacia Duster still the budget crossover to beat?

Dacia is back with a renewed version of its popular Duster. TED WELFORD heads to Paris to see what it’s like.

It’s no understatement to say that the last six or so months have been a rather busy time for Dacia. The start of the year saw the introduction of a next-generation Sandero and its rugged Stepway twin, while more recently the Renault-owned firm has pulled the covers off its Jogger – a brand-new seven-seater.

But within that, Dacia hasn’t forgotten about its popular Duster, which gets a series of updates to prolong its appeal with value-conscious buyers. But is it worth considering?

Dacia hasn’t messed too much with the way the Duster looks as this model’s chunky styling is said to be a big draw to the buyers that have chosen a Duster since its launch in 2013.

Photos: PA Media

Instead, this update refines this model, with the interior getting the same new touchscreen as seen on the latest Sandero, along with revisions that improve the user-friendliness of the cabin.

Importantly, there’s also a new automatic model being introduced for the first time – something Dacia customers have been asking for for some time, the firm says.

It’s this new automatic model that we’re trying here, with a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox purely available on the range-topping ‘TCe 150’ model, which uses a 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol putting out 148bhp and 250Nm of torque.

Also available with a manual gearbox, it’s the most powerful engine in the range, and can manage 0-60mph in 10.2 seconds and hit a top speed of 123mph. The downside is that it’s the thirstiest too – its claimed 42.1mpg fuel economy figure of 152g/km not being anything to shout about.

A range of other options is available, including a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol that’s also available as a ‘Bi-Fuel’ version – which is able to run on both petrol and LPG gas – as well as a 1.5-litre diesel that you’ll want if you want four-wheel-drive. All other Duster versions send power purely to the front wheels.

The addition of the automatic will likely be a big draw to many buyers that have previously looked elsewhere, and it’s largely a good fit. Though it sometimes holds onto gears for a bit too long, it’s predominantly smooth and the engine itself also delivers more than enough poke for a car like this.

Elsewhere behind the wheel, it’s pretty much plain sailing – Dacia making no other revisions bar a recalibrated steering setup for greater high-speed stability. Considering the rather cheap price, it’s rather pleasant too, with a largely comfortable ride and decent handling considering its top-heavy stance.

As we’ve mentioned, Dacia hasn’t played too much with the Duster’s chunky and funky looks, though there are a number of tweaks to look out for.

Most prominent are its new LED lights, which get a Y-shaped signature in a similar fashion to the Sandero, and are certainly far more eye-catching than before. The grille also has a new 3D effect to make it stand out more, as does a new Arizona Orange colour that certainly looked good in the bright Parisian sunshine, though might not look quite so fetching when plastered in a layer of winter mud.

The main thing you’ll notice inside is the Duster’s new eight-inch touchscreen system, which is lifted directly from the Sandero, and a big step up from the previous unit. It might not have the crispest of graphics, but gets everything you need and is bang on the money for a car of this price.

Other cabin tweaks include new seating upholstery and a more user-friendly sliding centre console with an integrated armrest that certainly makes the Duster easier to live with. It also gets new curved headrests borrowed from the latest Renaults, which not only are more comfortable but take up less room too – therefore improving visibility.

The Duster also remains a very practical choice, with its 478-litre boot being one of the largest in its class, and the Duster’s boxy shape allowing for a decent amount of rear space, even for adults.

Dacia used to offer the Duster in bargain-basement trims that didn’t even bring a radio or front electric windows, but as nobody apparently bought these, they’ve now been axed. It’s why the starting price might seem quite steep compared to what it was previously, though it still comfortably undercuts all key rivals.

Standard equipment on the Essential car also includes automatic LED lights, air conditioning, Bluetooth and cruise control, and therefore seems far from lacking. But the Comfort grade would be our pick of the range. Starting from £15,495, it adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel and the aforementioned eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

If you want all the luxuries you should choose the Prestige, which brings 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, surround-view cameras and even heated seats. It’s still impressive value for money too. If you want an automatic, though, you’ll have to splash out a bit more.

Dacia hasn’t gone to town with the revisions on its Duster, but has done everything needed to ensure this crossover remains as appealing as ever.

You still get its lovable, chunky styling and impressive levels of space, but you now get an interior that doesn’t feel quite so cheap, while the automatic gearbox will no doubt broaden its appeal. With the Duster retaining such low prices that undercut rivals, it remains the crossover to have if you’re on a budget.

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Suzuki unveils new GSX-S1000GT

Suzuki has introduced a new sports tourer motorcycle – the GSX-S1000GT.

Essentially a touring version of its recently updated GSX-S1000, the GT brings additional touring features which enable it to cover big distances in great comfort.

The riding position is more upright, for one, while a screen and extra bodywork over the regular S-1000 help to deflect the wind. The seat is well-cushioned and accompanied by a more comfortable pillion section, while optional hard luggage is capable of carrying two full-face helmets.

Also included is a five-mode traction control system that can adapt the bike’s settings depending on the conditions and whether the rider is alone or travelling with a passenger. The GT also includes a cruise control system, which allows riders to set their desired speed and let go of the throttle.

Photos: PA Media

A 6.5-inch TFT display showcases all key information such as speed and fuel levels, while the rider’s smartphone can be paired up to the system via Suzuki’s mySPIN app.

The bike’s design incorporates a pair of horizontally arranged LED headlights, a new mirror design and side-mounted indicators. It’s also available in one of three colours – Metallic Triton Blue, Metallic Reflective Blue and Glass Sparkle Black.

The GT gets KYB suspension and Brembo brakes alongside 43mm upside-down manually adjustable forks. Cast aluminium six-spoke wheels are included as well as Dunlop Roadsport 2 tyres.

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First Drive: BMW’s iX3 shows off firm’s electric intent

BMW hit the ground running when it came to electrified vehicles. You might remember the striking i8 which, although a hybrid and not a fully electric car, showcased what the future of the firm’s battery-assisted vehicles might look like, alongside the little i3 which has soldiered on for many years as BMW’s core EV.

But after that duo, things fell rather silent. Until now, that is, thanks to this – the iX3. It’s the first in a whole new wave of EVs for BMW, kicking off a fleet of battery-powered models for the company. Let’s check out what this new iX3 is all about.

Okay, we’ll admit that on the outside at least, this looks like a pretty regular X3. But look slightly closer and you’ll notice the closed-off front grille, the aerodynamic wheels and the subtle blue badging BMW reserves for its electrified models. It is, of course, completely silent too – only emitting that now-recognisable ‘hum’ when it passes.

Photos: PA Media

Famous composer Hans Zimmer has also had a hand in how the car sounds from the inside. In Sport modes and under acceleration, a somewhat other-worldly sound is emitted from the iX3’s speakers – different, for sure, but it’s actually really exciting.

The iX3 forms part of a four-pronged offering in the X3 range, which now brings a petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and – in this case – electric options. Here, we get an electric motor driving 282bhp and 400Nm of torque to the rear wheels alone. Linked up to an 80kWh battery – of which 74kWh is usable – this setup allows for a range of up to 285 miles according to BMW. The ability to charge at speeds of 150kW means that an 80 per cent charge can be conducted in as little as 34 minutes.

In terms of performance, the iX3 will manage 0-60mph in a respectable 6.6 seconds before heading onwards to a 112mph top speed. These are more than on-par for a conventional petrol engine, let alone an EV.

It’ll be a big plus for those who don’t want an EV to feel completely alien against a conventional combustion-engined car that the driving position and general feel of the iX3 are much the same as that in the regular X3. The gear selector is in the right place, the steering wheel lacks any EV-centric buttons and even the dials ahead of you are relatively straightforward.

But push away and it’s the refinement and quiet that really strikes you. The lack of a petrol or diesel engine ahead of you brings a whole new, more calming element to the X3 experience, while the acceleration on offer is genuinely impressive. The decent range also means that plug-ins are few and far between, but the ability to charge at speeds of up to 150kW means that – when you do find an appropriately quick charger – you’re not hanging around for too long at all.

Like we’ve already mentioned, the iX3 looks pretty much identical to the latest X3, save for a choice few EV parts. If you’re not after an electric car that shouts about its battery powertrain, then this really is the car for you. It’s worth mentioning that since our drive of the car, BMW has already refreshed the look of the iX3, leaving alone its underpinnings.

Though subtle, the changes reflect those made to the facelifted X3. They bring larger front grilles and sharper, more distinguished headlights. The rear lights have been given a redesign too, though it’s still a very understated change over the car we’re testing here.

Step into the cabin of the iX3 and you’re met with a fine array of materials all pulled together with great attention to build quality. Everything feels solid and well-made, while the blue accents dotted around the interior do help to remind you that you’re in an electrified model. We’ve had some reservations about BMW’s new driver display design, but the readouts are reasonably clear and all of your key information – such as battery levels and charge time – is easy to find.

Because the iX3 has been based on the conventional X3 – rather than a bespoke EV platform – the cabin doesn’t have the same level of space that you might expect from a car without an engine, but there’s a good amount of rear legroom. There’s also a useful 510 litres of boot space which can be expanded to 1,560 litres by folding down the rear seats. A handy under-floor storage area tidies away the cables, too.

As part of that update we mentioned, BMW has transformed the specifications available on the iX3. Gone are Premier Edition and Premier Edition Pro, replaced by more familiar M Sport and M Sport Pro grades. We got behind the wheel of the Premier Edition Pro – equivalent to the new M Sport Pro setup. Here, you get a head-up display and a 10.25-inch central infotainment system which is both slick to use and easy to read.

It also incorporates BMW’s gesture control, which allows you to change aspects of the car’s system – such as the volume or track – simply by ‘waving’ your hand in front of the screen. It sounds odd in theory but actually works really well in practice.

The iX3 is a really polished EV from BMW. The real groundwork is put in by its powertrain, which offers a decent range and, most importantly, a great rate of charge. But because it’s been placed in a package that has already gone through generations of development, there are very few rough edges to speak of.

As an electric car that’ll dovetail into everyday life without an issue, the iX3 makes a solid case for itself. Given that it’s only the start of what is to come from BMW EVs, we’re excited to see what’s up next.

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Maserati MC20 wins 2021 Product Design of the Year

The Maserati MC20 has taken the overall win in the European Product Design Award 2021, being crowned Product Design of the Year.

The Italian supercar also took top honours in the Transportation/Auto/Truck/Mobile Home and Transportation/Other Transportation Design categories.

Sporting a sleek silhouette with sweeping curves from front to rear, coupled with sharper lines up front in the lower bumper, where air flow is directed through the car to cool mechanical parts.

At the rear it has narrow tail lights that extend past the edges of the car and a prominent rear diffuser. Its party piece is the butterfly door design that commands attention whenever opened, but is also said to be functional as it allows for more cabin space.

The awards receive thousands of submissions with a jury panel selecting ‘the most aesthetically exciting, functional, and innovative products’.

Photos: PA Media

Klaus Busse, Maserati head of design, said: “Our mission was to design a car that would be remembered in the future as the model that launched the Maserati New Era. And I think we’ve achieved our goal with MC20.

“We are honoured to receive this coveted accolade, which recognises the work of an entire team, who have made a whole-hearted commitment to this unique project.”

The MC20 is powered by a V6 engine that makes 621bhp and can catapult the car from 0-60mph in about 2.7 seconds and on to a top speed of over 200mph.

There is a huge number of categories in the European Product Design Awards, with other winners this year including the Waldwiesel, the world’s first 3D-printed e-bike, a machine that improves the efficiency of solar panel parks, and a communication device for ‘locked-in patients’ that lets them convert eye movements to voice.

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The big winners at the Bonhams Goodwood Revival classic car sale

Over the weekend, Goodwood Revival made a comeback, with visitors from all over the world descending on the Sussex motor circuit in period-correct clothing to watch race cars from the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s do battle on track.

But the action was just as thrilling off the track, with the Bonhams Goodwood Revival Sale seeing some of the most sought after classic cars go under the hammer.

One of the big surprises of the show was a 1971 Iso Grifo, which sold for £345,000. Not only is that considerably higher than its £250,000 estimate, it’s above valuations expert Hagerty’s ‘concours condition’ price guide.

The Grifo was not in concours condition, requiring ‘a significant amount of recommissioning’. However, it did have an interesting history, being one of just three built in right-hand-drive specification and one of only a handful with a 7.4-litre Can-Am engine from the factory.

Another highlight was a 1931 Bentley 4-Litre, fitted with a two-seater body and an 8.0-litre engine. Its extensive competition history contributed to keen interest in the car, which sold for £603,000 – more than double its low estimate.

Photos: PA Media

It wasn’t just classic and vintage models making waves at the Revival. A 1993 Jaguar XJ220 with just 400 miles on the clock sold for £460,000, which Hagerty believes is a record for this model.

However, these unexpected hits contrasted with some unexpected lows. The auction’s cover stars – a group of four works 2-Litre low-chassis Lagondas – didn’t draw much interest, with only one selling for £178,250.

The others didn’t hit their reserve, while the most interesting – a Le Mans competitor with an estimate of up to £400,000 – only saw bids up to £190,000.

The Bonhams Goodwood Revival Sale saw total sales just shy of £10 million, with the average price of a vehicle being £172,134. That made it outsell the last auction in 2019, which hit £8.6m.

However, it marks a downwards trend in overall sales in recent years, being only the second time the total has been below £10m since 2012.

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Lotus confirms specs for Emira V6 First Edition

The Lotus Emira First Edition showcases the new model in one of its most potent forms.

It uses a supercharged 3.5-litre V7 engine with 397bhp, driven through a standard-fit six-speed manual gearbox or an optional six-speed automatic. The Emira is capable of going from 0-60mph in 4.3 seconds before reaching a top speed of 180mph.

First Edition cars also boast a high level of standard equipment, including 20-inch forged alloy wheels with a diamond-cut finish and two-piece brake discs with branded calipers. A range of exterior colours – from ‘Seneca Blue’ to ‘Nimbus Grey’ – are there to choose from as well, though more will be made available next year, according to Lotus.

Matt Windle, managing director, Lotus Cars, commented: “The Emira is the most accomplished Lotus we’ve ever made, and to celebrate and reward our keenest early customers, we want to make the first cars extra special to own. The features have been carefully selected by our design team to make for a truly special and distinct First Edition.”

Inside, the Emira boasts a central 10.25-inch display with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, backed by a secondary 12.3-inch driver’s display.

Production of the V6-powered First Edition is expected to start in the spring, with a four-cylinder version – utilising a Mercedes-AMG-sourced 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine – expected to arrive in the autumn.

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Fiat introduces soft-top 500X

Fiat has revealed the 500X Dolcevita – a soft-top version of the firm’s compact crossover.

The 500X Dolcevita incorporates a canvas soft top that can open in 15 seconds at speeds of up to 62mph. The canvas is available in black, grey and red, too, while there are ten exterior body colours to choose from as well.

The 500X was updated earlier this year, bringing three distinct trim levels with different levels of equipment and features.

The Connect trim brings a seven-inch infotainment system with DAB radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as 17-inch alloys and blacked-out windows.

Photos: PA Media

The Cross trim, meanwhile, has more of an off-road style appearance, with new seats finished with a camouflage-patterned centre section, while the exterior boasts 19-inch wheels. Automatic air conditioning and parking sensors are both included as standard, too.

Sport sits at the top of the 500X’s trims and brings black 19-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and black fabric sports seats. Automatic air conditioning and a matte titanium dashboard are included too. 

There are two petrol engines available – a 1.0-litre and a larger 1.3-litre.

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The Fering Pioneer is a British-designed electrified off-roader

A British company has created an off-road vehicle designed for ‘the most extreme adventures’.

Fering has designed the Pioneer for use by adventurers, explorers and emergency services and, as a result, it’s being built to be able to tackle even the most treacherous of conditions.

Despite being no larger in any direction than a conventional delivery van – and shorter than a Ford Mondeo Estate – the Pioneer can carry up to 1,500kg thanks to an aluminium spaceframe with composite elements. The exterior panels are made from tough fabric which as well as helping to lower the car’s weight, are easily replaceable if damaged.

Photos: PA Media

It uses an electrified powertrain, too. Two electric motors – one on each axle – deliver up to 600Nm of torque to the wheels, while the car’s battery provides an electric-only range of 50 miles. However, a range-extender biodiesel-powered generator is then called into action once the battery is depleted and even when the batteries are out of charge the Pioneer is expected to deliver up to 50mpg. It can also be fitted with long-range fuel tanks, giving the car a range of up to 5,000km (3,106 miles) of range, according to Fering.

The Pioneer can be adapted to suit a variety of different uses too. Larger batteries can be fitted, for instance, or different range extenders can be used in order for the car to run on different types of fuel.

The brainchild of ex-Ferrari and McLaren engineer Ben Scott-Geddes, the Pioneer is currently undergoing testing and assessment by early customers and organisations.

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