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SEAT and Volkswagen Group restore ecosystem of Ebro Delta Nature Park

SEAT and the Volkswagen Group are firmly committed to the environment and caring for the planet. As part of this mission, they have launched a project to restore and preserve the biodiversity of the Ebro Delta. The aim is to alleviate the effects caused by the storm Gloria at the beginning of 2020 and restore the most heavily affected areas of the most important wetland in the western Mediterranean. The initiative, which is being carried out in collaboration with the NGO SEO/BirdLife, has an investment of €1 million, and will last for two years.

One year ago, in January 2020, the storm Gloria devastated the Ebro Delta with extreme intensity, causing a significant environmental impact. The sea covered nearly 3,000 hectares of rice paddies and flooded entire beaches, endangering the 360 species of birds that make the Ebro Delta one of the most diverse nature reserves in Europe. The SEAT and the Volkswagen Group restoration project will help to improve the conservation status of the natural coastal habitats and activate prevention projects to secure the areas and prepare them for future extreme weather events. The rehabilitation of the area will also help to create green jobs and safeguard local economies in the area.

Edgar Costa, head of sustainability at SEAT, highlighted: “The storm Gloria has shown that the effects of climate change are a reality, so is the time to act. At SEAT we have already reduced our environmental impact from production by 43 per cent and we aim to achieve a zero footprint by 2050.

“Protecting biodiversity and recovering the ecosystem of the Ebro Delta is an additional step in our commitment to the environment, but also a sign of our responsibility to society and the environment in which we operate” he added.

Ralf Pfitzner, head of sustainability at the Volkswagen Group, added: “The Volkswagen Group wants to promote biodiversity, save CO2 and protect our natural resources. For this reason, we support ecological projects all over Europe. The project in the Ebro Delta is particularly impressive. First because of the breathtaking beauty of this unique European landscape. Secondly, because of the high level of expertise and passion with which SEO/BirdLife works on site.”

SEO/BirdLife executive director Asunción Ruiz said: “Climate change and the loss of biodiversity are an existential threat to humanity. Our health, our economy and the future of the next generations are at stake. Restoring the Ebro Delta’s sound ecological status, the most important wetland in the western Mediterranean, will contribute to the recovery of the ecosystem services of the Natura 2000 Network, valued at €200-300 billion per year. In the case of the Delta, these services represent a large source of food resources (rice, fish and bivalves), protection against storms by preventing marine encroachment and flooding, mitigation of climate change – as an important carbon sink – and an important tourist resource, among others. Restoring this wetland of international importance, with one of the largest private investments ever made in the Ebro Delta, will not only reduce potential future losses in the food, insurance, and tourism sectors, but will also generate high-quality green jobs for the inhabitants of the area and greater stability in their local economies after the storm Gloria.”

Protecting biodiversity and recovering the ecosystem of the Ebro Delta is an additional step in our commitment to the environment, but also a sign of our responsibility to society and the environment in which we operate

Edgar Costa, head of sustainability at SEAT

Specifically, the restoration project will focus on repairing the Riet Vell Bird Reserve, as well as some coastal areas threatened by rising sea levels. In these areas several measures will be activated to recover ecological functions and services, especially those related to curbing the effects of rising sea levels and recovering habitats that favour the channelling of water to the subsoil. In addition, the rehabilitation of the SEO Birdlife Volunteers’ Home in the Ebro Delta will also be carried out, as well as conservation campaigns and training programmes for all the volunteers who will work on the project, which will include the participation of SEAT employees. 

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New Models Comments (0) |

Jaguar brings special paint job to limited-run F-Type Reims Edition

Jaguar has released a new limited edition F-Type sports car, as part of an attempt to provide ‘the perfect antidote’ to Blue Monday – the most depressing day of the year.

Called the F-Type Reims Edition, it gets a stunning paint job, with this particular shade called French Racing Blue.

Limited to just 150 units, it’s based on a choice of either P300 or P450 models with rear-wheel-drive.

As well as the paint job, the Reims Edition gets 20-inch alloy wheels and the black pack fitted as standard, which adds gloss black side vents, Jaguar logos and grille surround.

Inside it gets the ebony interior combination with the interior black pack fitted to complement the exterior, which sees various parts switched out for gloss black versions. It also gets the fixed panoramic roof, heated seats and the climate pack, which adds two-zone climate control, heated steering wheel and a heated windscreen.

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Kia will launch seven new electric vehicles by 2027

Kia has completed its brand overhaul by announcing its long-term plan for the future, which will include seven new electric vehicles going on sale by 2027.

The South Korean firm recently unveiled its new, modernised logo and has today confirmed its corporate arm will officially be known as ‘Kia’ – rather than ‘Kia Motors’ – going forward.

The name change is part of its plan to move away from a traditional manufacturing-driven business model to create ‘innovative mobility products and services to improve customers’ daily lives’.

Part of this is a focus on ‘popularising battery electric vehicles’, which will see it introduce seven electric models within the next six years. These will include passenger cars, SUVs and MPVs of various shapes and sizes, using Hyundai Motor Group’s new EV platform to provide a long range and fast charging.

The first of this new generation of EVs will be revealed soon, with a crossover body style and more than 300 miles of range.

Kia is also working on electric commercials with third-parties, including EV specialists Canoo and Arrival. The plan is to produce ‘skateboards’, which are essentially electric vehicle platforms that can have different body styles placed on top of them to create vehicles specific to a company’s needs. Kia points to logistics and delivery vehicles as key customers for this.

Ho Sung Song, Kia president, said: “Changing our corporate name and logo is not only a cosmetic improvement. It represents us expanding our horizons and establishing new and emerging businesses that meet and exceed the diverse needs of our customers worldwide. More importantly, it also means adapting our working culture, enabling the creativity of all our employees and establishing an inspiring work environment.”

Photos: PA Media

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Test Drives Comments (0) |

A reborn icon worthy of its name

The classically styled, the three-door Land Rover Defender 90 is here. Darren Cassey puts it through its paces – on road and off

The reinvention of the Land Rover Defender was a massive moment for the brand. One of its most iconic models has been reborn, but had to appeal to a new urban audience while also staying true to its roots.

Available in two body shapes – the short-wheelbase 90 and long-wheelbase 110 – we’ve already driven the latter, and it’s fair to say the brief has been nailed. It looks great, drives well on the road and can handle any terrain. Now, we’re trying the shorter, smaller version – does it have the same magic?

This is the three-door version of a totally updated model, with Land Rover claiming its platform is 95 per cent new compared with anything else in the range. It’s made from lightweight materials and has been upgraded to make it more capable off road.

With the latest version of Terrain Response, which adapts the car’s settings for the surface that’s being driven on, off-road pros can tweak settings to their own preference, while the new Pivi Pro infotainment system is also present.

There are currently two diesel and two petrol engines available, with today’s test-drive sampling both the petrols. The two diesels are 3.0-litre mild hybrid units that make about 200 and 250bhp each. Meanwhile the P300 petrol performed valiantly on the off road courses, with the 2.0-litre unit pulling the Defender up near-impossible terrain.

“It comes alive when you take it off the beaten track”

We only tested the P400 on the road. It’s a 3.0-litre six-cylinder unit making almost 400bhp and 550Nm of torque. With a 0-60mph time of 5.7 seconds it’s clearly no slouch, but it doesn’t feel particularly well-suited to the Defender driving experience. The lazier diesels feel much more appropriate.

With this being a short-wheelbase, tall-sided 4×4 that’s excellent off-road, it shouldn’t be particularly good on the road, but it is. Whether you’re on city streets or out on the motorway, the Defender is composed and comfortable. With the 90 being quite short, it’s pretty easy to thread through busy traffic, too.

However, it comes alive when you take it off the beaten track. During our test drive, we journeyed through some pretty gnarly off-road tracks that had been made all the more treacherous by a week of rain. The Defender barely hesitated, with the only troubles generally caused by its inept driver.

The fact it was just as happy cruising down the motorway as it was clawing itself out of a muddy plunge pool is mighty impressive.

While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we don’t think many will disagree that the Land Rover has got the Defender’s styling spot on. It evokes memories of the old one while looking fresh and new. SUVs generally struggle to stand out from one another but this one has genuine character.

There are also packs available that can alter the exterior to make it better-suited to city life or give you accessories for off-roading. For example, the Explorer Pack adds a roof rack, side panniers and a raised air intake.

And while the five-door 110 might be more practical for family life, the three-door 90 has a real charm that comes from being a tall but short 4×4. In an age of identikit crossovers, it’s certainly welcome.

While the driving experience gives little concession to its off-road prowess, there are some on the inside. For the most part, there are high-quality materials and it feels brilliantly put together, while the newest Pivi Pro infotainment system is great to use.

The overall ambience is one of simplicity, though, because it’s also supposed to appeal to those who’ll get it muddy, meaning it’s not quite on the same level of design as similarly-priced rivals from Audi or BMW.

The 90 specifically is slightly smaller inside on account of that shorter wheelbase. The main concern here is the fact that the 110 has a five-plus-two seating arrangement, while the 90 can seat six.

We were big fans of the 110 at launch, and unsurprisingly, the 90 is no different. It’s fantastically comfortable on the road and ridiculously capable off road. It’s a little less practical than the 110, but if you’re not always popping kids in the back seats the extra charm of the three-door’s styling could make it a winner. Despite the easy-to-clean mats and surfaces, it feels a little too posh to be a true workhorse, but if you’re in the market for a car that feels like it can do everything while you sit in comfort, the Defender 90’s a winner.

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Bikes Comments (0) |

Right on track

Aston Martin teams up with Brough Superior on new limited-edition, track-only bike

Aston Martin has revealed its first-ever motorcycle, created in partnership with Brough Superior.

Called the AMB 001, the bike is a track-only special limited to just 100 units – with each costing €108,000.

At its heart sits a turbocharged engine with 180bhp. It’s the same as the one found in the rest of Brough Superior’s current range but produces more power.

It uses a machine titanium backbone frame, with a double-wishbone front fork. The subframe at the rear, meanwhile, is crafted from carbon-fibre – and most of the bodywork is made from the lightweight material too.

It uses a machine titanium backbone frame, with a double-wishbone front fork

There’s a carbon-fibre fin running the whole length of the bike, and applied to this is Aston Martin’s logo. However, rather than being paint or a sticker, it’s a nine-micron-thick, laser-cut piece of stainless steel applied under the lacquer.

Video: YouTube

The front-end of the motorcycle may be familiar to those clued-up on Aston Martin’s vehicles. The winglets, which help increase downforce, have taken their shape from the S-shaped curves found at the front of the firm’s passenger cars. Each bike will be handbuilt at Brough Superior’s Toulouse headquarters and are expected to be delivered at the end of 2020

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Intense experience: the new Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Standard

Harley-Davidson has revealed a new stripped-back version of its Electra Glide – the Standard. Created, according to Harley, for the ‘traditional touring customer’, the Electra Glide Standard does away with some of the features found on the standard bike to provide a more visceral, involving riding experience.

It’s only available in one colour – Vivid Black – and doesn’t feature a screen of any type, limiting the amount of distractions for the rider. The aim is to intensify the riding experience, but the lack of equipment also helps to keep the price down.

It’s powered by Harley’s Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine, and features 49mm front forks with Brembo brakes and ABS. To help make longer journeys more comfortable the Standard also has a cruise control system is fitted.

Chrome accents have been applied to many areas of the bike, while polished metal features on a variety of components. These contrast a selection of blacked-out elements applied to the bike. The Standard also incorporates the same Batwing fairing, saddle bags and cast aluminium wheels that you’d find on existing Electra Glide models.

Photos: PA Media

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Does this Leon roar?

Seat has rebooted the Leon, claiming it will be the firm’s most advanced vehicle ever

Seat has revealed its new Leon family car, which it claims will be the ‘most advanced vehicle’ ever made by the firm, thanks to advanced on-board technology, safety systems, and electrified powertrains.

It will continue to be offered in hatchback and estate forms, now with a wider choice of powertrain options that include petrol, diesel, mild hybrid, and plug-in hybrid. Manual and automatic gearbox options are available depending on engine choice, while FR and FR Sport trim levels also get three driving mode presets: Evo, Normal and Sport.

Electrified powertrains include a mild hybrid option for the 109bhp 1.0-litre and 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol units, using a small electric motor and battery to allow for engine-off coasting to save fuel.

“Giving the car the ability to constantly monitor its surroundings to react to dangerous situations”

Meanwhile, a full plug-in hybrid will also be on offer, using a 1.4-litre petrol engine that works with an electric motor, which is powered by a 13kWh battery pack. The combined output is 201bhp, with an impressive electric-only range of up to 38 miles.

The exterior has been redesigned with a focus on improving overall efficiency through improved aerodynamics. It also incorporates the new LED headlights and full width taillights, though the design is more evolution than revolution, looking very similar to its predecessor.

The new Leon is longer than before, which Seat says has resulted in improved legroom for passengers in the back. Elsewhere in the cabin, there’s a new ‘floating’ dashboard design, Seat’s digital cockpit, and improved lighting.

Impressive technology levels are included as standard, including LED headlights. In the cabin, owners can utilise a new voice recognition system that can understand natural language, benefit from real-time data through connections to the cloud, and plug-in hybrid owners can manage charging from an app.

Seat says it has also fitted its most advanced safety systems, too, including giving the car the ability to constantly monitor its surroundings to react to dangerous situations.

Wayne Griffiths, Seat executive vice-president for sales and marketing, said: “The Seat Leon has been improving generation after generation being able to conquer new customers. “We have now created the best Leon ever. The new Leon has been designed keeping the ‘created in Barcelona’ spirit and at the same time being the safest, most connected and with the widest range of engines the brand has ever seen. We believe we have all the ingredients to make of the new Leon a great choice not only for private customers but also for corporate fleets.”

Seat Leon. Photos: PA Media

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Standout supermini

The Peugeot 208 returns with more tech, a new look and three all-new powertrains. But is it any good? Jack Healy finds out

Peugeot has been making models with standout design for the last few years, and that has been continued with the new-look 208. The supermini is sharper and more modern-looking than before – and we’re not just talking about the outside.

But this is also the first 208 to come with an electric powertrain alternative. As part of the French firm’s ‘Power of Choice’, customers can choose from petrol, diesel or electric power – all on the same platform and without compromise for practicality. But does it work? We find out…

The 2020 208 sits on PSA Group’s CMP platform – allowing for combustion and battery-powered powertrains. But on top of that comes a body with a reworked design and a cabin filled with the latest equipment on offer, including the new version of the i-Cockpit setup.

Peugeot has also made this version of the 208 slightly bigger than before, allowing for a more spacious interior. The main new offering with the 208 though is the electric powertrain, which offers up to 211 miles of charge. Peugeot also expects customers to plum for a wallbox with the model as well, so they’ve made the three-pin plug cable an optional extra.

What’s under the bonnet? Here we tested what Peugeot expects to be the most popular engine and gearbox combination – the 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol paired to a six-speed manual transmission. Developing 99bhp and 205Nm of torque, it has enough poke to get from 0-60mph in under 10 seconds and can reach a top speed of 117mph.

Admittedly it isn’t the fastest petrol option you can go for – with the 129bhp version offering more kick – but this unit suits the 208 well. It’s characterful and works well alongside the slick manual, which has short shifts for quicker changes.

Going for this powertrain also means good economy – with Peugeot claiming this can get up to 53mpg with the manual gearbox and emit less than 100g/km CO2. Of course if you’re after better emissions and frugalness, then go for the BlueHDi diesel, but that’s expected to only attract fleet customers.

“There are few small cars that look better”

As you’d expect from a car of this size, urban roads are where it feels most at home. The route we were on didn’t showcase that enough, but when we were in town it felt easy to manoeuvre thanks to its light steering and the fact it doesn’t feel too big either.

On twistier roads, the 208 doesn’t get flustered. It feels well-balanced and controls its weight well. When cruising, the 208 is rather pleasant. The engine is very refined and hushed at higher speeds, while wind and road noise doesn’t penetrate into the cabin too much either.

In our eyes, there are few small cars that look better. We said the design was a key selling point for the model when we tested it last year, and that feeling hasn’t changed in the last few months. It looks fantastic, especially in a brighter colour, and the new face is sharp, sporty and instantly recognisable – thanks to the ‘three-claw’ headlights.

Peugeot 208. Photos: PA Media

Contrasting black body pieces offset the bright colours, while the gloss black B-pillar helps the side windows look sleeker. The 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels suited the Vertigo Blue body colour too, although our favourite colour choice is the cost-free Faro Yellow.

In terms of looks, the 208 has one of the best cabins in the segment. The 3D i-Cockpit is really cool to look at, with the main readouts looking holographic, and the driver is able to configure what is shown on there too. The switch gear is similar to before, with the piano key panel home to most of the infotainment’s menu controls.

In terms of storage, the 311-litre boot space is well-sized for a supermini, while folding the split rear seats down increases that to 1,106 litres.

We tried what is expected to be the most sought-after trim. The mid-spec Allure version comes with a handsome amount of equipment and doesn’t cost the Earth either. This 208 comes with a seven-inch touchscreen with the 3D i-Cockpit setup, automatic air conditioning, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, a leather steering wheel and a series of driver assists. The supermini market will always be a competitive one, and Peugeot may be near the apex now with its latest effort. The 208 looks great inside and out, has a fleet of tech features any driver would want and it drives well.

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Sound to the ground

Ford GT upgraded with more power and tweaked vocal cords

Ford has introduced a raft of upgrades for its GT hypercar, with headline changes including more power and a new standard-fit exhaust system.

Its 3.5-litre V6 engine has seen power upped to 660bhp from 647bhp thanks to a number of mechanical changes directly derived from the track-only GT Mk II, while Ford says the car’s torque band has also been widened.

Cooling of the engine has also said to have been improved thanks to new ducts that apparently increase air flow by 50 per cent, while suspension tweaks in track mode have been made in a bid to improve high-speed control.

Linked up to the revised engine is a new standard-fit Akrapovic exhaust system said to bring an ‘unmistakable’ sound to the car.

Alongside mechanical upgrades, Ford has also introduced two new paint schemes for the GT. First up is Liquid Carbon which sees the car’s carbon fibre bodywork exposed, save for a layer of clear coat to keep it protected from damage.

Carbon fibre wheels come as standard for this configuration, while coloured centre stripes can be added as an optional extra.

There’s also a new take on the Gulf heritage livery available for the previous model. Though retaining the iconic blue and orange colour scheme, it takes on a more modern-looking number design — now a ‘6’ as well instead of ‘9’ — and standard-fit carbon fibre wheels. There’s no word on pricing for the updated Ford GT. You also can’t just waltz into a Ford dealer asking for one either, with the firm notorious for being incredibly selective in who can buy one — meaning you’re unlikely to get on the list if you’re not already there.

Ford GT Mk II. Photos: PA Media

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