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Renault 4 revived as funky new compact electric SUV

The ‘4Ever Trophy’ show car marks the rebirth of iconic Renault.

Renault has revealed the 4Ever Trophy at the Paris Motor Show – a funky concept car that previews the revival of one of the French brand’s most iconic models.

Unveiled 30 years after the 4L was discontinued, the new show car is a bold makeover of the Renault 4, of which more than eight million were produced between 1961 and 1992.

To mark its revival, Renault has given the model a makeover, and marks the 25th anniversary of the 4L humanitarian rally. This new model retains many of the Renault 4’s original design features, including the same silhouette and small trapezoidal rear-three-quarter window.

The show car gets an adventure-ready body kit, including huge plastic cladding around the arches and lower bumpers, a roof rack equipped with a spare tyre and a shovel and sand ladders located on the boot.

Modern changes include a horizontal grille incorporating Matrix LED lights, along with the use of carbon-fibre for the roof, to help bring the weight down. Each wheel also features a compressor that can easily adjust the tyre pressures from inside the car, to help in a variety of terrains.

Photos: PA Media

This 4Ever Trophy is far from just a wild concept car, though, as it paves the way for a compact electric SUV production car, albeit one that’s unlikely to retain the rugged styling kit. Set to be built around Renault’s CMF-BEV platform, the firm says it will ‘guarantee the best performance in terms of range, acoustics, and on-road behaviour, without compromising on the design’.

The revival of the Renault 4 follows on from the Renault 5 Prototype, which is also set to enter production as the French firm looks to play on its heritage as it moves to produce more EVs. Renault says the new 4 will hold a similar position in the line-up as the current Captur crossover.

Luca de Meo, CEO of Renault, said: “The 4L is a legend. And legends never die! Today, it is this universal dimension of the 4L, a car that everyone can love, that we want to find through a modern and electric reinterpretation of the Renault 4.”

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Nissan’s X-Trail arrives with seven-seater versatility and hybrid tech

The new Nissan X-Trail arrives with a bold new look and a clever hybrid system. JACK EVANS Evans finds out what it’s like.

The Nissan X-Trail has historically been a more rugged, adventure-focused cousin to its more everyday, road-going Qashqai cousin. And, in the wake of the new Qashqai, we have a brand-new X-Trail. Arriving with a bold new look and a completely hybrid setup – as well as all-important seven-seater versatility, this fourth-generation X-Trail looks to pick up where its very successful predecessor left off.

With more than seven million X-Trails finding their way to homes over 20 years, it’s a very important car for Nissan. But is it any good? We’ve headed to Slovenia to find out.

Photos: PA Media

Underpinning the new X-Trail is a CMF-D platform, created by the wider Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi Alliance and is currently being used across a number of vehicles within its portfolio of brands. This lightweight platform promises improved refinement and ride comfort over the previous X-Trail which should, in theory, make it even easier to live with daily.

Elsewhere, we’ve got some of Nissan’s latest in-car technology, as well as an upgraded version of its ProPilot assistance technology designed to make the X-Trail as safe – and simple to drive – as possible.

The X-Trail that we’re driving today has been equipped with Nissan’s latest e-Power setup, which we’ve already seen in the Qashqai. It uses a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine – which effectively works as a generator – to power an electric motor on the front wheels. The X-Trail is available with a new e-4orce setup, which – aside from the slightly dubious name – adds a second electric motor to the rear axle, giving it four-wheel-drive. That engine is never used to directly power the wheels.

It’s designed to give a more EV-like feel to the driving experience, while a 0-60mph time of seven seconds means it’s more than punchy enough. Nissan claims that you should see CO2 emissions of between 143 and 148g/km for this four-wheel-drive version, while economy figures sit at 44.8mpg.

The X-Trail rides away in a typically silent manner, with the engine largely playing second fiddle to the electric motors. That continues throughout most types of driving, with even highway driving seeing the petrol engine remain mute in the background. Only during really heavy applications of throttle is it really called into play where it can be a little noisy. It’s very much the minority of the time, mind you.

Elsewhere, things are good. The X-Trail is a large car but it’s pleasantly resistant to roll and pitch through the bends. The ride can feel a little firm at times, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary for the segment. That e-4orce all-wheel-drive system, meanwhile, does give the X-Trail a healthy dose of traction and even taking it on some rutted, sweeping gravel tracks saw it remain settled.

The X-Trail has been given a chunkier, more off-road-ready look compared with many of the cars in the segment. There’s plastic wheelarch cladding, for instance, while the gap between arch and tyre has been increased for the X-Trail to help it with a more upright stance. The front end has been given a squared-off look, too, not by blunting off the ‘nose’, but by giving it upright air intakes that give the impression of a more angular appearance.

Around the back, there’s a similar blocky appearance, while the boot switch location – which isn’t in the traditional spot above the rear number plate – is a hark back to earlier X-Trail models.

In a market awash with options, the X-Trail does well to stand out. It’s just got a little more character than its Qashqai stablemate – bourne through its added practicality and versatility. The new e-Power setup works well in its application here too – as does the new e-4orce setup – though we’d argue that many drivers might naturally lean towards the two-wheel-drive version unless added capability is what you’re after.

The seven-seat option, though slightly limited in terms of outright spaciousness, adds another string to the X-Trail’s bow. All in all, it feels like a very credible family car and a welcome addition to the segment.

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Rolls-Royce Spectre revealed as firm’s first electric car

Elegant coupe heralds a new era for luxury British brand.

Rolls-Royce has revealed its first electric car with the Spectre – a sleek two-door coupe that represents ‘the start of a bold new chapter’.

Positioned as a spiritual successor to the Phantom Coupe, the Spectre was first announced last year, with Rolls-Royce covering more than 1.5 million test miles since then, which the firm says simulates more than 400 years of use for a Rolls-Royce.

Described as an ‘ultra-luxury electric super coupe’, the Spectre gets a particularly elegant silhouette, while the grille is the widest ever fitted to a Rolls-Royce, and is also ‘softly illuminated’ with 22 LEDs. At 5.5m in length and more than 2m in width, it’s huge, and can be equipped with 23-inch alloy wheels – the largest fitted to a modern Rolls-Royce.

Inside, the Spectre is available with ‘Starlight Doors’, which incorporate 4,796 LEDs that aim to give an impression of the night sky.

Photos: PA Media

Built around a specific ‘Architecture of Luxury’ platform, the Spectre is unrelated to parent company BMW’s electric cars, with the battery integrated into the structure of the car, enabling it to be 30 per cent stiffer than any previous Rolls-Royce.

A clever ‘planar suspension’ has also been developed to deliver the brand’s hallmark ‘magic carpet ride’. This includes decoupling anti-roll bars that help to keep the car flat and stable over bumps, which can then recouple and stiffen the dampers when a corner is identified.

Rolls-Royce says full technical details are ‘still being refined’, but the firm is expecting the Spectre to offer an electric range of 320 miles. The powertrain is also set to deliver 577bhp and 900Nm of torque, allowing for a 0-60mph time of 4.4 seconds – figures that are comparable with the brand’s current V12 models.

Torsten Müller-Ötvös, chief executive of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said: “This incredible motor car, conceived from the very beginning as our first fully electric model, is silent, powerful and demonstrates how perfectly Rolls-Royce is suited to electrification.

“Spectre’s all-electric powertrain will ensure the marque’s sustained success and relevance while dramatically increasing the definition of each characteristic that makes a Rolls-Royce a Rolls-Royce.

“This is the start of a bold new chapter for our marque, our extraordinary clients and the luxury industry. For this reason, I believe Spectre is the best product that Rolls-Royce has ever produced.”

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Porsche 911 Carrera T revealed as lighter, purer sports car

Model receives a range of mechanical and styling changes.

Porsche has revealed the new 911 Carrera T as the lightest and purest ‘Carrera’ version yet of this latest generation sports car.

Based on the ‘entry-level’ Carrera, the T – standing for ‘touring’ – is the more driver-focused choice, and follows on from a previous generation of Carrera T that was widely applauded.

On this new ‘T’, it gets the standard Carrera’s 380bhp 3.0-litre biturbo petrol engine, but – unlike the Carrera – it comes with a seven-speed manual gearbox, which makes it 35kg lighter than the standard car, weighing 1,470kg in total. A PDK automatic gearbox is offered, too. This engine is able to take the 911 from 0-60mph in 4.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 181mph.

The rear seats from the standard 911 are also removed, while there’s reduced noise insulation, lighter glass and a lightweight battery to keep the weight down.

Photos: PA Media

Other changes include a mechanical rear differential lock that is shared with the Carrera S, along with adaptive sports suspension that lowers the car by 10mm. The acclaimed Sport Chrono package is also fitted, which brings a dial on the steering wheel to adjust driving modes and analogue and digital stopwatches. Rear-axle steering wheel is also available as an option, unlike on the regular Carrera.

Specific equipment on the Carrera T includes 20- and 21-inch alloy wheels at the front and rear respectively, a GT sports steering wheel, a sports exhaust and electric sports seats. It also gets a range of Agate Grey styling elements, including the door mirrors, door logos and trim on the rear grille.

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Jeep announces further details about new electric Avenger SUV

Avenger arrives as Jeep’s first all-electric model.

Jeep has revealed its first EV – the Avenger – in full at the Paris Motor Show, with the brand announcing new details about the model.

Slotting underneath the Jeep Renegade, the Avenger will arrive in 2023 as the brand’s most compact model. Designed primarily for Europe, it is based on a platform called ‘e-CMP2’, and will be produced at a factory in Tychy, Poland, alongside a range of models from parent company Stellantis – including the Peugeot e-2008 and Vauxhall Mokka-e.

Its electric motor develops 154bhp and 260Nm of torque, and is paired with a 54kWh battery that allows for a range of 249 miles. It can also be rapid charged at up to 100kW, with a 20 to 80 per cent charge said to take just 24 minutes.

Photos: PA Media

The firm says it offers ‘Jeep brand capability’, but the Avenger will only be offered in a front-wheel-drive guise, not the brand’s trademark 4×4. That said, it will be equipped with a ‘Selec-Terrain’ mode, which includes specific settings for snow, mud and sand, along with hill descent control.

Short overhangs and large wheels also give it 20cm ground clearance, the most in the segment, with Jeep saying it’s the ‘benchmark’ in the class.

The Avenger keeps the American brand’s trademark seven-hole grille and bulging fenders, while gets cladding all around the exterior, helping to give it that chunky look that Jeeps are known for.

Inside, the Avenger gets a 10.25-inch touchscreen as standard that is said to offer ‘smartphone-like graphics’, and also includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Christian Meunier, Jeep brand CEO, said: “The new Jeep Avenger represents a key milestone for the brand as it is the first of a portfolio of all-new Jeep EVs to be introduced in Europe.

“It offers Jeep brand capability that is right sized for the European market and at the Paris Motor Show, we are showcasing why it is a great all-electric Jeep brand alternative to current players in the B-SUV segment.”

The Avenger will be followed by three further all-electric models in Europe by 2025 as the brand seeks to build its electrified line-up.

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Aston Martin Works marks 50 years of legendary V8

This year marks the golden jubilee of one of the most iconic bloodlines in British automotive history.

Aston Martin has released a series of special images to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its iconic AM V8.

Released in 1972, the model was the start of a legendary V8 bloodline for Aston Martin which went on to spawn countless classics over the years.

Although its predecessor, the DBS V8, was actually the first Aston Martin to use the famous engine, that was an existing model that was updated to use the unit.

The AM was Aston Martin’s first model to be released from new with a V8 and is now considered one of the most desirable cars of the 1970s.

First released following the takeover of Company Developments Ltd, the AM V8 introduced several design features that became a staple of all Aston Martins in the years that followed.

It was given a much more muscular look than what had gone before, which included a new nose, two seven-inch quartz iodine headlamps and a black mesh grille. It was also the first time the firm used its now iconic ‘Coke-bottle’ flanks.

Photos: PA Media

It was followed, in 1977, by the V8 Vantage, which was dubbed “Britain’s first supercar” and a true rival to the Italian Ferrari Daytona.

The model also spawned the V8 Volante, which achieved legendary status by appearing in Timothy Dalton’s first James Bond film, The Living Daylights, in 1987. The model also made an appearance in Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007, No Time To Die, in 2021.

To mark the special anniversary, Aston Martin Works – the firm’s Heritage division – has released a series of images taken at the Aston Martin Lagonda Heritage Centre in Oxfordshire.

Reflecting on the enduring appeal of the AM V8 in all its many forms over almost two decades, Aston Martin Works president, Paul Spires, said: “The 1970s were, in many ways, a testing time with social and economic unrest rife.

“Yet, through it all, we created the AM V8 which, today, is rightly seen as one of the jewels in our illustrious history. That so many of these big, brutish sports cars survive and thrive today is testament not only to their enduring appeal but also to the legion of owners, past and present, who have worked so hard with us to keep the cars running.

“As all things ‘70s seem, once again, to be back in fashion it’s only right that, today, we mark the 50th anniversary of one of our most desirable heritage models.”

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Lamborghini needs to totally embrace electrification and not just ‘greenwash’ it, says boss

Supercar firm will make sustainability a priority, despite the big challenge that it poses.

The boss of Lamborghini has spoken frankly about the need to become a more sustainable carmaker and not just “greenwash” it.

Lamborghini is renowned for its wild cars, powerful engines and general ostentation. Its cars today all come with huge engines – there’s a V8 in the Urus SUV, a V10 in the Huracan supercar and V12 in the recently discontinued Aventador.

But 2022 marks the last time a Lamborghini will be launched without any electrification, as next year the as-yet-unnamed Aventador replacement will arrive with a plug-in hybrid, albeit one still featuring a V12, and then in 2024 the Urus will become hybrid-only.

At a similar time, the Huracan will be discontinued and replaced with a V8 plug-in hybrid model. It means that in just two years’ time, there won’t be a new Lamborghini on sale without electrification.

Photos: PA Media

In the words of Stephan Winkelmann, chairman and CEO of Lamborghini, that poses a “major challenge”.

Speaking at the launch of the new Urus Performante – a more driver-focused version of this super-SUV – Winkelmann told the PA news agency he didn’t want the move to electrification to be purely “greenwashing”.

The term “greenwashing” is used to describe when a company conveys the impression of helping the environment but doesn’t actually make any real sustainable efforts.

Winkelmann said: “I think it’s important we totally embrace it [electrification], as we have to be aware that the sustainable approach has to be credible and not greenwashing. I strongly believe that Lamborghini is much more visible than the size of the company, and this is something we have to keep as an important issue in the future.

“It’s easy to point a finger at us, so that’s what we have to avoid. It’s more important what my neighbour thinks about me driving the car than I think myself. We need to be in front of the wave, we don’t want to be crushed by the wave.”

Although hybridisation will be integral to Lamborghini, its first EV isn’t due until near the end of the decade. Winkelmann says this will be a “completely new car” and “not a super-sports car” like the Aventador and Huracan.

Instead, this EV will take the position of a Urus-sized “2+2 GT with more ground clearance”. While Winkelmann is excited about this, he acknowledges that the “emotional side” of an EV is a problem – particularly when it comes to the noise aspect. Asked what an electric Lamborghini will sound like, the former Bugatti boss said: “I’m not sure yet.”

The new electric crossover will mark the fourth Lamborghini in the line-up, but Winkelmann is clear he doesn’t want to expand the brand much more than that.

“Four models are a good way of looking into the future. We could do much more than that but we don’t want to, because balanced growth is paramount for our success in the future.”

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On track with Lamborghini’s Urus Performante

Lamborghini’s taking its super-SUV up another level with the new Urus Performante. Ted Welford tries it out on track.

Love them or hate them, SUVs are integral to the success of a car maker these days. It’s something Lamborghini quickly discovered since the launch of the Urus in 2018, with this self-branded ‘super SUV’ accounting for more than 21,000 sales to date.

Though you’d think a Lamborghini SUV would be pretty extreme already – and it is – there is always scope for more, or for the ‘bar to be raised’ as the firm puts it. That idea results in the Performante. It’s a more extreme, track-focused version of this SUV, using a nameplate we’ve seen before on the fire-breathing Huracan supercar. We’ve been getting a first taste of it on the Vallelunga race track near Rome.

Photos: PA Media

This is far more than Urus with a bit of extra power, as Lamborghini has been pretty extreme with the changes. The standard car’s more softly-focused air suspension setup has been replaced by stiffer steel springs, giving it more of a performance focus, while also sitting 20mm lower.

Even before its reveal in August, a disguised Urus Performante set the SUV record up the infamous Pikes Peak hillclimb in Colorado, with a signal of its sporting intent being that you can spec it with semi-slick Pirelli tyres – the first ever to be fitted to an SUV.

The Urus Performante retains the standard car’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, albeit with slightly more power – 657bhp compared to 641bhp. The torque figure remains the same at 850Nm.

However, thanks to a raft of weight-saving measures, it’s a touch quicker than the regular Urus – the Performante taking just 3.1 seconds to hit 0-60mph – three-tenths of a second faster. The top speed also stands at 190mph.

Drive is also sent to all four wheels, with an eight-speed automatic gearbox being adopted. There are a number of other measures at play too, including a clever electronically-controlled anti-roll bar, as well as rear-wheel steering that provides greater low speed manoeuvrability, and then stability at higher speeds.

Vallelunga is quite a challenging track, and one even used by F1 teams to test out their cars. In other words, it’s the last place you’d think to put an SUV. But the Performante is an astonishingly good effort. For a car weighing 2,150kg (43kg less than the standard car in its defence), it is remarkably agile.

Left in the most extreme ‘Corsa’ drive mode, the way the Urus can comfortably and safely carry speed through the bends is astonishing. The grip from the Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres means you can get on the accelerator hard out the other side of a corner without it feeling unsettled, too. The plentiful pace is also joined by a new titanium Akrapovic exhaust system, which makes a delightfully menacing and anti-social noise on full chat; crackling when you ease off.

Combined with ceramic brakes, it’s a remarkable take on an SUV. Our driving was limited to the track, so we can’t give a full verdict. However, the steel suspension is likely to prove particularly firm on a day-to-day basis next to the standard car’s air setup.

Lamborghini knows its audience and the Urus Performante is as bold and obnoxious as SUVs come. Though the standard car is hardly a shrinking violet, the Performante is a far more menacing-looking brute.

Lamborghini is proud of the fact that the Performante possesses the most carbon fibre of any SUV on the market (it’s the little wins, right?), and it’s prominently there on the wheelarch surrounds and lower sills and bumpers to make it separate from the regular Urus. A carbon bonnet is a standard feature to lower the weight, though you can option it to come in an exposed finish, and a carbon roof can be fitted as well. That new rear spoiler also helps to generate 38 per cent more downforce.

Alcantara is a material widely associated with sportiness in a car and Lamborghini has certainly made the most with this suede-like interior. It’s absolutely everywhere, from the seats to the dashboard – even the parcel shelf is trimmed in it. Though you can choose to have a contrasting colour on the side of the seat, the majority of the Performante’s interior is black Alcantara. It’s a slight shame customers don’t have such a wide variety of colour options as the rest of the Urus line-up.

Aside from this, though, much of the interior is the same as the standard car. That means you’ve got the cool drive mode selector on and a switch you have to flick up to press the engine start button on the central ‘Tamburo’. It’s elements like this that add to the special feel of the Urus. Though this SUV might be based on the Audi Q8 deep down, Lamborghini does a great job of disguising it.

On the equipment front, the highlights of the Urus are its performance parts. There’s all that carbon fibre which isn’t cheap, along with the titanium Akrapovic exhaust system and Black Alcantara interior.

All Urus models also come with a fantastic digital instrument cluster, which gets specific Performante graphics here, along with a dual touchscreen setup – one looking after the traditional media settings, and another handling the climate menu.

Performance SUVs often fall a little short of the mark – usually being quick but lacking that agility that comes from smaller models, and often come with the caveat ‘they’re not bad for an SUV’.

But the Urus Performante doesn’t seem to need that caveat. The way it can go around corners while remaining flat and poised is nothing short of staggering for something weighing in excess of 2.1 tonnes, while the Performante only amplifies the visual and audible drama that has helped to make the Urus such a hit.

We’ll need to wait to try it on the road first to see if it’s capable of toppling the mightily impressive Porsche Cayenne Coupe Turbo GT and Aston Martin DBX707, but the bar has truly been raised.

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Ineos begins production of Grenadier 4×4

Rugged vehicle that aims to plug gap left by Land Rover Defender is now being produced in France.

Ineos has started production of its Grenadier – a rugged 4×4 that aims to fill the vacant gap left by the Land Rover Defender.

It’s the idea of Sir Jim Ratcliffe, one of the UK’s richest men, who decided to take his petrochemicals business Ineos into the automotive industry to create the ‘world’s best and most uncompromising SUV’.

Revealed in 2020, the Grenadier’s production was due to start in July 2022 but was delayed by supply chain issues that have been affecting car firms globally.

Now the first Grenadiers – named after Ratcliffe’s favourite pub in London – have rolled off the production line in Hambach, eastern France, close to the German border.

Mark Tennant, Ineos Automotive commercial director, said: “We’ve come a long way since the project kicked off in 2017 and this is a landmark moment for Ineos Automotive as a vehicle manufacturer.

Photo: PA Media

“To get to this point is testament to the resilience and hard work of the entire Ineos Automotive team, our development partners and our suppliers – for which we thank them all as we now look forward to making our first deliveries to customers.”

Full manufacturing isn’t expected to happen until December, however, with first customer deliveries likely to be delayed until early 2023, with the initial cars likely to be used as demonstrator vehicles by the firm.

Ineos originally planned on producing the Grenadier in Bridgend, Wales, but changed its mind in December 2020 – announcing instead that it had bought the Smart car factory in Hambach from Mercedes-Benz. Ineos still produces the iconic Smart models on behalf of the German firm in the same plant.

The Grenadier promises supreme off-road capability, and uses BMW-sourced engines for its powertrains. It’s available in a commercial vehicle guise, along with a station wagon model.

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