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New intelligent sportiness

The new GTX product brand from Volkswagen is the first flagship model designed for more performance.

“The ID.4 GTX is our first all-electric high-performance model under the GTX label,” said Klaus Zellmer, board member for sales, marketing and aftersales at the Volkswagen brand.

“It offers practical good sense combined with driving pleasure. The ID.4 GTX is as sporty as a GTI, as comfortable as an SUV and as sustainable as the other members of the ID. family. And with the GTX we are once more accelerating our ‘Way to Zero’ – to make Volkswagen net carbon-neutral by 2050.”

In Europe, the high-performance models of the ID. family will bear the designation GTX in future. Like with GTI and GTE, this stands for an independent product brand. With GTX, Volkswagen is charging the world of electric mobility with new, intelligent sportiness that combines performance and sustainability.

The battery of the ID.4 GTX has a net energy content of 77 kWh, enough for a customer-oriented range of 340 to 480 kilometres. With a maximum charging capacity of 125kW, the battery can be recharged quickly. Two electric drive motors, one each on the front and rear axles, jointly deliver a maximum output of 220 kW (299 PS) and can work together as an electric all-wheel drive – a premiere for the models of the ID. family. The flagship model in the ID.4 product line accelerates from 0 to 60 km/h in 3.2 seconds and from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.2 seconds. The vehicle’s top speed is electronically limited to 180 km/h.

“The ID.4 GTX is our first all-electric high-performance model under the GTX label”

Klaus Zellmer, board member for sales, marketing and aftersales at the Volkswagen brand

The standard Vehicle Dynamics Manager connects the optional adaptive chassis control with the XDS electronic axle differential lock and manages their interaction with maximum precision. It also works closely with the all-wheel drive control as well as the braking control system. This ensures that driving dynamics and stability reach the best possible level in every situation.

The design of the ID.4 GTX underscores its extraordinary character, combining driving pleasure with a robust look. The familiar light strip at the front has been combined with powerful, dynamic elements – in particular, the three honeycomb elements that form the daytime running lights. They convey the vehicle’s sporty character even when it is stationary and establish a connection to the Golf GTI04. Alongside the newly designed bumpers, the eye-catching elements at the rear include the 3D LED tail light clusters with brake lights that form an X.

The new and streamlined structure for the equipment options also reflects these design characteristics: as the first member of the ID. family, the ID.4 GTX will be launched with a completely revamped structure for the optional equipment in the configurator. The customers first determine the appearance of the vehicle. This is then followed by a clearly organised selection of packages. Customers can choose between optional Design, Infotainment, Assistance, Comfort and Sport packages, all of which are available in both Standard and Plus variants. This new option structure will soon also be available for the other members of the ID. family, the ID.3 and the ID.4.

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To the power of 500

TONIO DARMANIN says the new Fiat 500e has all the makings of an icon.

The New Fiat 500, the first fully electric car from FCA, has made its debut. The new generation of the iconic city car has a range of up to 199 miles (WLTP) and receives 85kW fast charging as standard. Production of the New 500 returns to its birthplace of Turin, Italy where the original model was first created 63 years ago.

The New 500 takes inspiration from the generations before it. The first generation of 500 offered freedom and mobility, establishing itself as an icon. Revived in 2007, the second generation introduced style and charm to the iconic city car that went on to conquer the world. The third generation is more sustainable, connected and autonomous, adhering to increasingly stringent regulations and using its popularity to inspire change.

Range and charging times are two key considerations for customers. The lithium-ion batteries, with a capacity of 42kWh, give the New 500 a range of up to 199 miles in the WLTP cycle. To optimise charging time, the New 500 is equipped with an 85kW fast charge system. It takes only five minutes to build up a sufficient energy reserve to travel 30 miles, more than the average daily commute. Using a fast charger can also power the battery to 80 per cent in just 35 minutes. The Combo 2 socket, located on the rear right side panel of the car, has the ability to accept both AC and DC charging.

Home charging solutions are also available. The launch edition of the New 500 comes complete with an easyWallbox, a home charging system that can simply be connected to a normal home outlet. ENGIE EPS developed this solution exclusively for FCA. This simple, accessible “plug-and-charge” solution can be managed easily via Bluetooth. It can stabilise energy load by charging a 500 at home with up to 3kW of charging power, without the need for professional installation. The easyWallbox can be upgraded to 7.4kW, providing a full charge at home in just over six hours. The New 500 also comes with a Mode 3 cable for charging at up to 11kW from a public charge point.

The New 500 has three driving modes: Normal, Range and Sherpa, which can be selected to suit your driving style or requirements. Sherpa mode optimises the available resources to reduce fuel consumption to a minimum, enabling it to reach the destination set on the navigation system or the nearest charging station. Just like a Himalayan Sherpa, who is in charge of the whole expedition and is a guide to the destination, this driving mode adjusts various parameters: maximum speed is limited to 50mph; accelerator response is managed in order to reduce energy consumption; and deactivation of both the climate control system and heated seats (the driver has the option of activating them at any time).

‘Normal’ mode is as close as possible to driving a vehicle with a normal combustion engine, while ‘Range’ mode activates the one-pedal-drive function. By selecting this driving mode, the new 500 can be driven with the accelerator pedal alone. Releasing the accelerator causes much greater deceleration than with a normal combustion engine, almost as if the brake pedal was pushed. The brake pedal must be used to bring the car to a complete stop, however with daily use and a little experience, it is possible to drive using just the accelerator pedal.

The electric motor has an output of 87kW, providing a maximum speed of 93mph (self-limited) and acceleration from zero to 62mph in 9 seconds and zero to 31mph in 3.1 seconds.

The New 500 is the first FCA car to be equipped with the new UConnect 5 infotainment system, the connected platform designed for the future. Developed with the idea of providing customers with a completely new user experience, UConnect 5 is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto operating systems and can be used in wireless mode.

The 500 offers seamless integration with a smartphone, offering a 10.25-inch high-definition horizontal touchscreen with a 16:9 aspect ratio that fits perfectly into the car dashboard.

The UConnect 5 system works both inside and outside the car, allowing the driver to set the navigation route in advance, and to pre-condition the climate. Smartphones can be connected in just five seconds using wireless functionality.

In terms of style, the New 500 implements future mobility in an Italian way, bringing together the considerable legacy of the two previous generations. Integrating the classic and cool style of the 500 rooted in 63 years of history, the New 500 is still an iconic city car with the same stylistic proportions and clean design. During the design phase, the Fiat Centro Stile worked on clean lines and a consistent language to define the look of the third generation: crisp, advanced and compact, while being more graceful and elegant, shaped around a more proportioned approach to the chassis. This gives a perception of increased stability and dimensional presence.

Its form demonstrates the same creative spirit. The substance of the new platform has given the third-generation 500 an incredible presence: it is 6cm wider and 6cm longer, the wheelbase has been extended by 2cm, and the wheels are larger and further apart, giving it more determination and greater comfort, despite its length remaining under four meters.

Inside, the 500 is completely new, with clear references first generation. Centro Stile has furnished the interior by distributing the bulk efficiently to achieve simplicity, trim aesthetics and provide visual clarity. This is exemplified by the wide dashboard and the modular storage solutions between the two front seats where the gear lever was originally located. There is more leg and shoulder space for occupants, while the flat floor houses the lithium batteries without compromising the luggage compartment capacity, which remains unchanged. The result is a well thought out and cleaner interior, with fewer buttons and crisp, harmonious lines.

The New 500 is the first four-seater convertible with zero tailpipe emissions. As an icon of La Dolce Vita, another unique feature of the new city car is the Acoustic Vehicle Alert System (AVAS). This is an acoustic warning for pedestrians that is mandatory at speeds up to 12mph. The chosen sound is not a common acoustic signal, but rather the music of Amarcord by Nino Rota, in pure Dolce Vita style, an example of the most authentic Italian creativity.

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The classic ‘B’

This ‘B’ certainly deserved an ‘A’, says JULES CHRISTIAN.

The British car manufacturer MG has always been associated with performance cars, the letters MG standing for Morris Garages. The brand was later integrated into the British Motor Corporation in 1952.

Following the success of the 1950s MGA, aiming at the mid-level sports car market, in 1962 the company introduced the convertible MGB roadster, mainly in response to the demand for a more comfortable sports car version of the very basic MGA.

Competing in the marketplace with the likes of the Triumph TR4 and Sunbeam Alpine, the design in its day was ahead of its time. This included incorporating crumple zones to help protect driver and passenger in the event of an accident, and using monocoque construction as opposed to building the car on a chassis. This meant an altogether lighter car, which helped to make its performance quite impressive, despite using the old 1798cc, four-cylinder B-Series engine with twin SU carburettors, which had its origins as far back as 1947.

MGB GT

The MGB with its steady handling, spritely performance and fuel economy made it an attractive alternative to the big gas guzzling cars in the US, where the majority of the overall half a million cars were sold. This was the opposite of the UK market, where the initial response from the sports car fraternity was rather lacklustre. You see, the MGB, even with its upgraded engine in 1967 was too sensible! The reliability was improved, the balance was good, the performance adequate, the handling totally predictable, but it did not have the hairy-chested character of the sports cars around at the time that most enthusiasts seemed to relish.  Remember, the second-hand marketplace was then abundant with the likes of the Austin Healey 3000, the Jaguar XK150, the E Type, Aston Martin DB4’s, Sunbeam Tiger V8’s etc., which were rather more exciting.

It was not until 1965 that the British market took an upturn with introduction of the 2+2 MGB GT. Designed by Pininfarina, it was probably the first use or the now common hatchback style and was an instant success. This classic model was to continue in production in the UK through till 1980.

MGB Limited Edition

In 1967, with the planned production-end of the aging Austin Healey 3000, MG replied to the hairy-chested brigade by producing the MGC, using the big straight-six engine from the Austin three-litre saloon. With suspension, floorpan and structural changes to accommodate the heavier engine, the enviable handling characteristics of the MGB Roadster were badly affected. In fact, one heard alarming tales of doors opening under hard braking from high speed on a corner! A succession bad reviews and lack of commitment for changes by the owning group BLMC, meant the MGC and the more civilised MGC GT were only produced until 1969. Today, however, with some modern adjustments, examples of the MGC with their distinctive bonnet bulge, can not only be made to handle properly, but have become highly collectable.

MGB Original Roadster

Now equipped with new Rostyle wheels and with the continuing demand for a more powerful version of the MGB, 1973–1976 saw the production of the MGB GT V8, regarded by many as the best version of all. Unfortunately not available  as a roadster, this MGB used the classic American Buick 3.5 litre V8 engine, already in use in the Rover P5 saloon. This proven V8 power plant was actually 18kg lighter than the original four-cylinder engine, increasing the power output from 95bhp to an exhilarating 137bhp. This gave the MGB GT V8 a healthy 0-60mph time of 7.7secs and a top speed of 125mph, and needing no structural changes, meant the car kept its traditional handling characteristics, if not improving on them.

MGB with rubber bumper

By 1975 US pollution and safety standards were becoming increasingly stringent. As the major market for the car was still the US, this resulted in the UK car losing its classic chrome bumpers in favour of rather ugly rubber safety versions.  The US headlight height ruling then required raising the suspension one inch, which radically affected the vehicle handling and further emission regulations diminished the car’s performance. In the UK, financial restructuring by the parent company, now British Leyland, meant the Abingdon factory, where the MGB was produced was to close in 1980, all contributing to its demise. The 1979/80 final runs of the MGB were “limited edition” models: black versions for the US, gold Roadsters [PIC5] and silver GT’s for the UK.

That’s not quite the final chapter. By the end of the seventies and during the 1980s, the demand for sports cars had diminished and hot hatches were the trend. It was not until 1989, when Mazda’s brave MX5 came on the scene to rejuvenate interest in convertible motoring, that the last vestiges of the B were seen in the guise of the MG RV8. Although not regarded by many as a true MGB, this was basically an ‘alike’ MGB V8 roadster, produced from 1993-1995. It was only a moderate success as much of the mechanical technology was now very antiquated and only 2000 were produced.

MGC Roadster

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A functioning economy

TONIO DARMANIN drives the new Sandero and Sandero Stepway.

Dacia is a leader when it comes to promoting a sensible form of car consumption and is now more than ever aligned with the real expectations of its customers. It offers simple, spacious, reliable and robust vehicles with no unnecessary frills, at the best price on the market.

Although a shift in mindset had already been under way for a few years, the unprecedented backdrop of the last few months has more than ever before encouraged drivers to consider more sustainable consumption and to turn their focus back to what is really essential, while still expressing their needs for mobility and freedom. More and more customers are returning to a more pragmatic approach when buying cars.

For more than 15 years, Dacia has met that need by offering drivers cars at a fair price. The new Sandero and the Sandero Stepway embody Dacia’s DNA. An iconic and a very popular model, the Sandero has been the best-selling car in Europe in the retail customer market since 2017 and the best-selling Dacia model with almost 2.1 million cars sold, representing 32 per cent of the carmaker’s sales since 2004. The Sandero Stepway, the more adventurous version, represents 65 per cent of all Sandero sales, with more than 1.3 million cars sold.

Dacia has revamped its offer in the city and versatile compact car segment with the Sandero and Sandero Stepway to meet all the needs of retail customers. While the carmaker has kept the same external dimensions, both models now offer more modernity, roominess and versatility with the fundamental simplicity and reliability that drivers have come to expect from Dacia.

With a new platform, they offer more features, increased active and passive safety, new engines and a new automatic transmission and an all-new six-speed manual transmission. With its shoulders and marked wheel arches, the Sandero exudes a strong personality and sturdiness. Nevertheless, the overall lines are smoother, with a more sloping windscreen, a lower roof and flowing roofline with the radio aerial at the end.

Ground clearance is unchanged, and yet the Sandero feels lower and more grounded with wider tracks and flush-mounted wheels. The front and rear lights unveil Dacia’s new Y-shaped LED light signature, giving the Sandero a strong identity. A horizontal line joins the two lights both at the front and rear and extends into their respective LED lines, giving the car a greater visual presence. The LED headlights, offered as a standard automatic feature at all trim levels.

The design of the door handles reveals a focus on quality and more ergonomic shape. Most versions now have electric boot release on the lower tailgate section, improving looks and practicality. The new shape of the doors and wing mirrors improves the car’s aerodynamics while reducing air noise for passengers. Inside, the dashboard features an insert wrapped in fabric while the air vents boast an all-new shape.

The Sandero Stepway is immediately recognisable at the front with its unique ribbed and

more domed bonnet, the chrome Stepway logo under the front grille and the curved fenders above the fog lights. The front and rear bumpers include a body-coloured metal skid plate designed to protect the original colour from everyday scratches.

The Stepway features the design codes of the crossovers with a 174mm raised ground clearance, roof bars featuring the logo, large fender flares and specifically textured reinforced door bottoms.

The Sandero Stepway’s roof bars may look as if they are quite simply an attractive visual feature, but they are also adjustable. Using a key located in the glove compartment, they can be easily dismantled in just a few seconds and turned into a roof rack with a load capacity of 80 kilos, which is the same as standard roof bars.

The interior upholstery is customised with the Stepway logo, while the door panels and dashboard have orange fabric inserts and edging.

The Sandero and the Stepway offer three back seats which can each accommodate three adults, a 1/3-2/3 split-fold rear bench seat (depending on the versions) and a family-sized boot. The boot of the Sandero has a 410-litre capacity and features a flat floor with adjustable height floor two positions depending on the versions. It meets the roominess standards of the upper segment of the market, especially as it offers best-in-class rear passenger legroom, with an additional 42mm for the Sandero.

At Dacia, they have always believed that modern cars should not be filled with non-essential features. Dacia has designed the new features of the Sandero and the Stepway in line with the development of customers’ main expectations. Standard features include a smartphone holder (removable depending on the version), an on-board computer screen, an automatic headlight activation, a steering wheel featuring speed limiter and cruise control on all trim levels.

New automatic air-conditioning with digital display, heated front seats, a handsfree card featuring remote boot release, electric parking brake, reverse camera, front and rear parking sensors and automatic windscreen wipers are all available as a standard feature or options depending on the market. In a first for Dacia, an electric glass sunroof will be available on the Sandero.

The new CMF modular platform used on the Sandero and Stepway combines greater resistance and rigidity with less weight. The recommended engine is the TCe 90 turbocharged one-litre three-cylinder unit paired with a six-speed manual transmission or CVT automatic transmission.

The new modular CMF platform of the new Sandero and Stepway enables three major improvements. The first is acoustic: with a lighter and stiffer cradle, front block and body structure, vibrations are reduced. The second concerns the ground connections: the widening of the tracks by 41 millimeters on the Sandero and 29 millimeters on the Sandero Stepway respectively improves handling and road behaviour. The last concerns passive and active safety, with the integration of the latest generation of driving driver-assistance systems.

The primary reason Dacia have been so successful is that they recognised that there exists a substantial segment of customers who require attractive, reliable efficient and safe cars with no extra frills – they are happy with what is essential to ensure a pleasant and comfortable driving experience but without breaking the bank. And that is exactly what the new Sandero and Stepway offer customers.

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The new Polo GTI in the starting blocks

Just in time for the traditional GTI weekend meet on Lake Wörthersee, which is again unable to take place due to COVID-19, Volkswagen is offering a first peek at the new Polo GTI. The compact sports car is based on the new Polo that was recently presented, and will become the premium version of the product line. This GTI model also represents pure dynamism and expressive design – the success factors of the GTI concept. The official world premiere of the new Polo GTI will take place at the end of June 2021.

“Once a GTI, always a GTI” – that’s how fans of the sporty Volkswagen models with the “magic three letters” continually express their loyalty. GTI – pure fascination and excitement. The success story continues, with the new Polo GTI in the starting blocks. Traditionally, it is the sportiest model in the Polo series. With its high-torque front-wheel drive, dynamically tuned sports chassis and expressive design, it really stands out from the crowd. Moreover, it fulfils the promise of exceptional driving dynamics in combination with exceptional everyday usability.

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Alfa Romeo wins four awards at the Motor Klassik Awards

Alfa Romeo wins four awards at once at the “Motor Klassik Awards 2021”. The readers of the well-known classic car magazine elected the Alfa Romeo 1900C Super Sprint from the 1950s, the Alfa Romeo Spider, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT, and the Alfa Romeo Tonale as the winners in their respective categories. As in the competitions of previous years, the traditional Italian brand is once again right on top in the eyes of the readers of Motor Klassik.

In the category “Classic Coupés”, readers voted the Alfa Romeo 1900C Super Sprint into first place with a share of 25.4 per cent of the vote. The two-door car is based on the shortened chassis of the Alfa Romeo 1900 sedan. A two-litre four-cylinder engine with a brand-typical double camshaft and 85kW (115hp) of power provides sporty performance that remains significant today. As was customary in the 1950s, the great Italian designers bought the mechanized chassis from Alfa Romeo and completed it with a body designed and manufactured in-house. The greatest success was achieved by the Milan-based Touring company, whose version of the Alfa Romeo 1900C Super Sprint is still considered one of the most balanced and sophisticated coupés ever constructed by the Biscione brand. Between 1954 and 1955, close to 300 units were built.

A similar masterpiece is the first-generation Alfa Romeo Spider, known today as the “round-tail Spider” or “Duetto”. The convertible was produced by the Pininfarina workshops based on the shortened chassis of the Alfa Romeo Giulia. The model was presented at the 1966 Geneva International Motor Show. The Alfa Romeo Spider became a cinema star through its role alongside Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft in the Hollywood blockbuster The Graduate (1967). Powered by a 1.6-litre engine (80kW/109hp) at the market launch, the car was later offered with a 1.3-litre power unit (65kW/88hp) and a four-cylinder with around 1,750 cubic centimetres of displacement (87kW/119hp). In the “Motor Klassik Awards 2021”, the Alfa Romeo Spider received more than one-third of the reader votes (exactly 35.3 per cent) in the “Classic Convertibles” category.

As last year, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT won the “People’s Sports Car” category, with an equally impressive 31.9 per cent of the reader votes. Classic car fans abroad know the racy coupé as “Bertone”, a tribute to the renowned Turin bodyshop responsible for the timeless look. Between 1963 and 1976, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT was sold around 225,000 times in total with engines between 1.3 and 2.0 litres of displacement (from 65kW/88hp to 96 kW/131 hp). Even today, the Giulia Sprint GT is one of the most numerous representatives of Italian classic cars in Germany. The most famous sports version was the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA with aluminum bodywork and 1.6-litre engine with dual ignition. In various versions, the GTA won countless races and several European Touring Car Championship titles in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The Alfa Romeo Tonale has not been launched yet. But the readers of “Motor Klassik” have already voted the compact SUV their personal favourite among the current SUVs and off-road vehicles (27 per cent share of the vote). The design award-winning Alfa Romeo Tonale, named after a pass in the Italian Alps, will also be available with hybrid drive.

Motor Klassik magazine has been published since 1984. 14,778 readers took part in the latest edition of the annual “Motor Klassik Awards” competition. Due to the pandemic, the award ceremony was held online.

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Back to backwards

The backwards-slanted rear screen was one of the weirdest design trends ever, says JULES CHRISTIAN.

When it comes to automotive design, it is a world of extremes, ranging from the exotic and the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini to the stately, such as Rolls Royce to the practical and affordable of the mass production companies.

As a general rule, the more dramatic the look, the more you pay, which today means that once a large manufacturer hits upon a successful shape the others play safe and follow the trend or revamp a classic in a modern way.

This was not always the case. In past years there have been some crazy trends. Just look at the wacky fashion for fins in the US in the 1950s, which actually crossed over to Europe in the shape of the Morris Oxford and Austin Cambridge, among others.

Ford Consul 315

But to me one of the weirdest ones was the backwards-slanted rear screen.

If you think someone needs to be blamed for this, it was Ford in the US with their 1957 Mercury Breezeway. “Breeze” gives you a clue as to the idea, as the backwards-slanting rear window actually had a wind-down electric centre section to air the vehicle’s interior in the years before air-conditioning was to become common in most American cars.

Worldwide, Ford thought they would try their weird window in the UK, and in 1959 introduced the Anglia 105E. The advertising claims of the day were that the backwards window gave the owner a rain- and snow-free rear view. Whether it was the unconventional styling or not, the Anglia took a long time to catch on with its best sales year not until 1967, when it was already being over shadowed by a new Cortina model.

Less well known was the Consul 315, targeted at a more upmarket buyer and featured the same rear window design, which was more easily accepted by the time it came out in 1961. The car was not a great success and was only in production for a couple of years, with buyers choosing the more luxurious versions of Ford’s Cortina, which was much the same size.

Lotus Europa Special

It was not just saloon cars that got the treatment. Lotus tried it – well sort of – in their 1970s Lotus Europa. It was a very small rear window, which being a mid-engined sports car, was actually half way up the car, but it definitely had a backwards slant.

In those days, if you wanted something different, there were always the French. Citroen, renowned for their innovation and eccentricity were not to be outdone. In 1961, they brought out the Citroen Ami 6, which was built along the same utilitarian principles of their hugely successful 2CV. Although harangued in the motoring press for its design, it did have many improvements on the 2CV, including the first oval-shaped headlamps which worldwide had always been round until then, and despite its unlikely appearance, it did survive in production in various forms for a further 8 years.

Unfortunately, in the beginning, it wasn’t just the rear window that went backwards. In its first year, so did sales, selling nearly 60,000 fewer units than the model it was planned to replace.

Mercury Monterey Breezeway

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The new Hyundai i20 is all grown up

While in the past, consumers would buy the Hyundai i20 primarily for its reliability and practicality, today one would seriously consider it also on an emotional level.

The new i20 looks gorgeous. It has received a major upgrade on the inside offering higher levels of connectivity, quality, safety and comfort than one would expect in this segment. Its mild hybrid system enhances its performance while enabling it to achieve impressive levels of efficiency.

Tonio Darmanin test-drives the new i20.

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An all-rounder

The Cupra Formentor heralds a situation where the electrified option offers a better deal than the traditional power trains, says TONIO DARMANIN.

Cupra is to Seat what Abarth is to Fiat. This is part of legacy left behind by Luca De Meo who was responsible for reviving both these high performance, motorsport subsidiary brands. Cupra was created in 2018 and took over the functions of Seat Special Vehicles Department responsible for numerous successes both in the World Rally Championship as well as the World Touring Car Championship.

In the product range we already have the Cupra Ateca and the Cupra Leon, but what I recently drove is the is the first car designed specifically for this brand.

The Cupra Formentor is a coupe SUV available as petrol, diesel and the PHEV version that I drove. There are also the even sportier variants, namely the Formentor VZ range (Veloz – Spanish word for fast), with a PHEV developing 245bhp, as well as a 310bhp (four-wheel drive) petrol option, but more about that later.

As is the tradition with this company, the name is tied to a locality – Formentor is a locality on the Spanish island of Majorca.

The dynamic proportions of the CUPRA Formentor are heightened by the visual emphasis placed towards the rear of the vehicle which accentuates the length of the bonnet. And the side profile of the high-performance crossover coupe alludes to the power found under the bonnet and the overall dynamism of the vehicle.

The body tone is reminiscent of a robust all-terrain vehicle, but the Formentor uses this design technique to lighten the vehicle, giving it a more svelte appearance, one that reflects the performance it delivers. This attribute is continued thanks to its compact and sporty aesthetics, closer to that of a hatchback, but in a coupe crossover, and its merging of all-terrain attributes expected from a traditional SUV.

“The elegant yet strong design continues at the rear”

The front of the Formentor is strong and determined, but elegant and refined with the large front grille home to the famous CUPRA copper badge and book marked by the full LED front headlights that use the signature design.

The elegant yet strong design continues at the rear with the integration of rear dynamic blinkers as well as a rear coast-to-coast light with a welcome ceremony that creates a visual width to the vehicle and gives not only a now signature look, but also helps the vehicle standout.

At 4450mm long and 1839mm wide and a height of 1,511mm it provides excellent headroom for all the passengers while the wheelbase of 2,680mm offers significant legroom for rear occupants and a boot capacity of up to 450 litres (420l for the 4Drive version and 345l for plug-in hybrid versions) it is also a practical option.

Inside, the cabin instantly communicates the character of the car, with a sophisticated, sporty design. The sports bucket seats are mounted low in the cabin to maximise space and are designed to allow for a more ergonomic seating position, giving a sense of the dynamic performance.

The digital cockpit was developed specifically for Cupra models, a sport view mode is also available, offering more focused display including RPM, torque, power, turbo pressure and G-acceleration .

In the interior, the leather dashboard with copper stitching appears to float, an impression created by the horizontal full-LED wraparound ambient lighting which runs the width of the dashboard and in both front doors. This light is not only an aesthetic feature, but also provides safety functions too linked to the onboard driver’s assistant systems; flashing orange when exit assist is activated or red when the door is open for instance.

The centrepiece of the interior is the 12-inch infotainment touchscreen which provides the functionality and connectivity to all occupants and reduces button count. The system combines the Wireless Full Link system making it compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The simplicity and elegance of the interior is achieved in part thanks to the inclusion of the shift-by-wire DSG transmission technology, which helps declutter the interior, creating greater space.

When users are away from their vehicle, they can access vehicle information including driving data, parking information, vehicle status and set up speed alerts using the Cupra Connect app.

“The Formentor is loaded with the latest technology both in terms of comfort and connectivity as well as for safety”

For the plug-in hybrid versions, there are additional features too. Drivers can manage the charging process and control the Climatronic remotely as well as manage departure times, all from their fingertips.

Included in the lower power variants of the range, are the diesel Formentor 2.0 TDI 150PS (110kW), petrol Formentor 1.5 TSI 150PS (110kW) both available with either manual or DSG automatic transmissions, Formentor 2.0 TSI 190PS (140kW) DSG 4Drive and the plug-in hybrid CUPRA Formentor e-Hybrid 1.4 TSI 204PS (150kW), again with a DSG transmission.

With the step up in power, the VZ name finds its way onto the Formentor VZ 2.0 TSI 245PS (180kW) DSG front-wheel-drive first, and is joined by the plug-in hybrid Formentor VZ e-Hybrid 1.4 TSI 245PS (180kW) DSG front-wheel-drive and the Formentor VZ 2.0 TSI 310PS (228kW) DSG 4Drive finishing the line-up.

The car I drove is the Formentor e-Hybrid developing a combined 204hp and 350Nm of torque. Acceleration to 100km/h takes 7.9 seconds and the car reaches a maximum speed of 205km/hr. Emissions are calculated at just 33g/km of CO2, while economy of up to 188.3mpg is possible, as long as you plug it in regularly. The electric range is 59km on a single charge of the 12.8kWh (usable capacity) battery.

The Formentor is loaded with the latest technology both in terms of comfort and connectivity as well as for safety. The seating position is set middle way between an SUV and a normal saloon, making it easy to enter and exit and at the same time still enhances the car’s overall sporty attitude.

The DSG shifts smoothly, suspension on the 18inch alloys is comfortable in most circumstances and the steering is precise and gives adequate feedback. The car handles well, with massive grip and negligible bode roll.

As I anticipated when I tested the Seat Leon PHEV, this was the brand fastest approaching the situation where the electrified option will offer a better deal than the traditional power trains. Well here it is. The very well-equipped car I tested offering 204bhp and impressive economy costs €25,500 net of the Govt grant and scrappage or €26,500 if you do not have an older vehicle to scrap. The basic 1.5 TSI (150bhp) petrol version with a manual gearbox costs €32,500. Which one would you go for?

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