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David vs Goliath: the Ford Puma ST races replica model

It’s David versus Goliath… but not as you know it. The all-new Puma ST – the first Ford Performance SUV in Europe – takes centre stage in an epic clash against a small but mighty version of itself in a thrilling new film released by Ford.

Puma ST vs. Puma RC pits the 200 PS Puma ST high performance compact SUV – driven by rally star Louise Cook – against a 1/10 scale radio-controlled (RC) replica – driven by professional RC racer Lee Martin – in a dramatic race against the clock.

Shot on location at the iconic Brands Hatch motor racing circuit in the UK, the unique face-off is the ultimate test of Puma ST agility. Using cornering abilities sharpened by sophisticated Sports Technologies, the full-size Puma ST can lap the 1.9-kilometre Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in a target time of around 60 seconds.

Meanwhile, the 1/10 scale Puma ST RC model must complete three laps of the 220-metre Brands Hatch kart track; a precise replica of the full-size Indy Circuit that mirrors its six challenging corners. With a target lap time of around 20 seconds for the scaled-down Puma ST, the contest demanded all-out performance from both cars and drivers – setting up a nail-biting finish.

Introducing acclaimed Ford Performance driving dynamics to the innovative Ford Puma SUV, the Puma ST is powered by a 200 PS 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine and accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 6.7 seconds.

Sports Technologies including a unique-in-segment limited-slip differential option, patented force vectoring springs and unique suspension and steering specifications combine for exceptional cornering responses. Selectable Drive Modes include Track mode that tunes vehicle dynamics features for the fastest possible lap times and the purest driving experience.

Giving the Puma ST the best possible chance of victory, British rally driver Louise Cook is a winner of the FIA Production Car Cup for 2WD as well as the British Rally Championship Ladies’ title.

A one-off, custom-built 1/10 scale model developed by UK-based Designworks specially for the race, the Puma ST RC car is based on an ARC R12FF platform and uses a 402 W electric motor to reach speeds of 80 km/h.

Carefully designed to mirror the full-size vehicle as accurately as possible, the Puma ST RC car is front-wheel drive just like the real thing. Its lightweight bodyshell was made from high impact polystyrene (HIPS) using digital engineering data taken from the real car and a computer-controlled milling machine.

Details including the replica wheels, door mirrors and windscreen wipers were 3D-printed in meticulous detail. Even the Mean Green exterior is identical to the production SUV, using the same acrylic water-based paint.

At the controls, Lee Martin is a professional RC racer with six European and 13 British championship titles to his name.

“This was no ordinary race, but the Puma ST is designed to offer performance and agility in a compact and practical package, whatever the conditions. Even when it is up against a purpose-built racing car and a champion driver, it has the ability to deliver,” said Stefan Muenzinger, manager Ford Performance, Europe.

“Driving the Puma ST for the first time was awesome. I don’t know what I expected but it did not feel like an SUV, it felt like a sporty hatchback and I had so much fun driving it around the Brands Hatch circuit. I am used to rallying Ford rally cars, so it was nice to feel that familiar fast and forgiving feeling in the Puma ST chassis,” added Louise Cook, WRC rally driver.

“This was a great opportunity to see how an RC car went up against a real car. The model was made to look as close to the real car as possible; it was front-wheel drive, it had an SUV body – and like the real thing, it handled really well. The race was brilliant fun. Maybe next time Louise and I can switch cars,” concluded Lee Martin, RC racer.

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Continental Cars Open Week

Continental Cars have launched an open week at their Ta’ Xbiex showroom.

Running from May 3 till May 8, this Open Week is an opportunity for anyone looking to buy a new car, to enjoy unbeatable offers and great financing on VW, Audi, Porsche, SEAT vehicles in stock and the newly launched Cupra. Moreover, 0% deposit and part-exchange are available.

Open all day between 9am and 6pm at Continental Cars, Ta’ Xbiex.

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Lotus Evija honoured in BBC Top Gear Electric Awards

The Lotus Evija has been named as ‘The One to Watch’ in Top Gear’s second ever Electric Awards. The all-electric hypercar was recently tested by Top Gear magazine editor Jack Rix on the test track at Lotus HQ in Hethel, Norfolk, and his article is published over eight pages in the May issue.

Rix calls the Evija not just a halo car for Lotus – “a signpost for the future of the company” – but labels it “a flagbearer for really fast electric vehicles as a whole”.

The Evija, which will go into production later this year, is the world’s most powerful car. It has an output of more than 2,000 PS from its all-electric, all-wheel drive powertrain. Rix notes it can accelerate from 124mph to 186mph (200 km/h to 300 km/h) in just three seconds, half the time it takes a Bugatti Chiron to do the same.

Rix was driving an Evija prototype restricted to 1,600 PS. “It’s light on its feet, playful with the instant mash of acceleration even a naturally aspirated engine could only fantasise about.”

He was also full of praise for the work of the project development team, saying the core Lotus DNA is obvious right from the first corner.

“The steering is superb, light and darty around the dead-ahead, then loading up according to wheel angle and speed.” He concluded that “Lotus is on the brink of something special.”

Matt Windle, managing director, Lotus Cars, said: “Of all the EVs in development around the world, it’s an honour to be recognised by the Top Gear team as ‘The One to Watch’. Validation work on the car continues apace, and we resumed our world tour with the car last month. We look forward to showing it to more people in the physical world in the coming weeks.”

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Lambo museum reopens its doors with new exhibition

The MUDETEC, Automobili Lamborghini’s museum in Sant’Agata Bolognese, will reopen its doors to the public on May 3. Following the forced closure of the last months due to the pandemic, one of Lamborghini’s most iconic places comes back to life with the new exhibition “Future is our legacy”.

The title of the exhibition recalls the philosophy of Automobili Lamborghini: a company that constantly looks to the future, staying ahead of the times, without ever forgetting or celebrating its past. The exhibition coincides with two important events: the 20th anniversary of the MUDETEC and the 50th anniversary of the Countach.

In Lamborghini tradition, the exhibition – divided over two floors – perfectly synthesizes innovation and tradition: the two souls of the House of Sant’Agata. A tunnel at the entrance ignites visitors’ emotions with the unmistakable sound of the V12 engine, along with a video that celebrates the iconic V12 models. On the ground floor, the path is laid out so that visitors can discover the models produced from the ‘60s to the ‘90s, from the Miura to the Diablo, and then take a leap into the futuristic design of two recent visionary models: the Essenza SCV12 and the Vision GT.

Photos: Lamborghini

The undisputed protagonist of the second floor is the Countach, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary: a model that, in addition to being a bedroom poster for an entire generation and used in dozens of international films, helped make Lamborghini a legend. Placed on a platform, the Countach seems to look over the models produced since 2000, which inevitably took inspiration from it in terms of both design and technological solutions. The tour continues among limited edition models, such as the Reventón, Sesto Elemento, Veneno, Centenario, and the first Lamborghini with hybrid technology, the Sián.

The experience is also enriched by activities with extensive digital and innovative content, a trademark of Automobili Lamborghini. Engaging with Lamborghini fans to offer an exciting and interactive experience, a driving simulator includes a new feature: the “Social pass-by card”. By being positioned in front of the screens, visitors can take a photo next to a favorite Lamborghini, share it on social media, and take home the memory of a special day in a unique place. 

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The trendsetter: 25 years ago, the Mercedes-Benz SLK aroused the interest of enthusiasts

Twenty-five years ago, Mercedes-Benz surprised not only roadster fans with its revolutionary concept: thanks to its folding vario-roof, the new SLK (R 170 model series) could transform itself from an open-top car into a coupé with a fixed, noise-insulating steel roof in less than half a minute. And it also scored heavily with a range of additional innovations, in the field of safety, for example. The SLK performed impressively in all the relevant crash tests through to the rollover test. The lightweight construction concept using magnesium, among other materials, reduced the weight of the basic version of the SLK 200 to just 1,270 kilograms. By 2004, no less than 311,222 SLKs of the R 170 model series had been built at the Bremen plant. In a total of three generations covering the R 170, R 171 and R 172 model series, this compact open-top Mercedes-Benz roadster sold more than 710,000 units – from 2016 as the SLC. The first generation is already a popular recent classic and, as a result, is already into the second stage of its existence.

The roadster was given its name during the design phase, when engineers referred to it as the “SL kurz” (“compact”) in a tribute to the Mercedes-Benz SL. Indeed, the R 170 model series, with a body length of 3,995 millimetres, was around 500 millimetres shorter than the SL Roadsters of the then current R 129 model series.

The production version of the SLK was presented at the International Motor Show in Turin on 22 April 1996. This sports car was perfectly matched to its time: open two-seaters were then experiencing a strong renaissance. In Western Europe, the annual number of car registrations in this market segment rose from 11,300 in 1992 to 98,500 in 1995. The SLK contributed to the boom in open-top cars of the 1990s and 2000s. For some of that time, this Mercedes-Benz was the bestselling car with a metal folding roof in Germany. The SLK was of great importance to the brand because it appealed to a younger and lifestyle-orientated group of buyers. In retrospect, Jürgen Hubbert, a member of the Mercedes-Benz Board of Management at the time, said: “The SLK, CLK and the M-Class models have contributed a lot to a new image of Mercedes-Benz.”

Photos: Mercedes-Benz

A study that was also presented in Turin in April 1994 whetted the public’s appetite for the roadster. It was based on work by the designer Michael Mauer and came very close to the later production model. Mauer’s model with short overhangs at the front and rear in conjunction with a comparatively long wheelbase highlighted many design details, from the bonnet with its power domes to a striking airflow break-away edge at the rear. A second concept car presented in Paris in autumn 1994 not only showed the vario-roof, but also a unique interior design. From 1996 onwards, the SLK standard-production sports car attracted considerable attention due to its surprisingly colourful and varied interior combined with refreshing exterior colours.

The folding steel roof of the SLK as an alternative to the classic fabric top was an outstanding and much admired technical achievement of the roadster. The idea was not completely new to the automotive industry, but the few designs before it involved the entire roof being lowered into the boot, which took up a lot of space. Mercedes-Benz engineers revolutionised the concept with a process known internally as the “trick with the kink”: the roof made of steel and glass panels folded back under the boot lid, which opened in the direction of travel. This meant that the rear end of the body could be kept short, and even when the roof was open, there was still room for luggage in the boot.

An electrohydraulic system choreographed the opening and closing process with the help of five hydraulic cylinders. Before the start of series production, 30 prototypes had to undergo the opening and closing process 20,000 times each. Projected over ten years, this corresponded to opening and closing the roof six times a day. Operation was simple: pressing a switch on the centre console transformed the SLK from a coupé into a roadster – or vice versa – within 25 seconds.

The SLK’s safety philosophy, which set standards in its class at the time, was worthy of special note. One striking feature was the two sturdy roll bars to protect occupants in the event of a rollover. Tube-reinforced A-pillars made a further contribution to occupant protection. In addition, the SLK was equipped with airbags, belt tensioners and belt force limiters as standard. The newly developed ellipsoid bulkhead which was part of the front structure increased the front deformation area in the event of a head-on collision – this reduced the risk of the footwell becoming constricted. In crash tests, the SLK met Mercedes-Benz’s own standards, thereby exceeding the stipulated mandatory requirements.

Initially, the roadster was offered as an SLK 200 (100 kW/136 hp) and as an SLK 230 supercharged version (142 kW/193 hp). Following a facelift in 2000, the six-cylinder SLK 320 (160 kW/218 hp) and SLK 32 AMG (260 kW/354 hp) completed the range. The first SLK triggered a small but prestigious line of tradition: in January 2004, Mercedes-Benz presented the SLK of the R 171 model series. A highlight of that model was the optional AIRSCARF. This world first conveyed warm air between the seat backrest and head restraint to the neck area of the occupants and, in conjunction with the standard draught stop, enabled open-top driving even at low outside temperatures. The third SLK generation (R 172) was unveiled in 2010. In 2016, it was renamed the SLC and produced until 2020.

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Volvo Cars reports 40.8 per cent growth in the first quarter of 2021

Volvo Cars reported the best first quarter in its history as the company’s global sales increased by 40.8 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Total sales during the period amounted to 185,698 cars, up from 131,889 cars in the same period last year. In Europe and the US, the company managed to improve sales compared to the first quarter last year, while managing to cope with the ongoing effects of the pandemic. China has by now recovered from the impact of the pandemic, which was peaked in Q1 2020.

For the month of March, Volvo Cars sold 75,315 cars globally, up 62.3 per cent compared with the same month last year.

Volvo Cars’ Recharge line-up of chargeable models, with a fully electric or plug-in hybrid powertrain, remained strong and accounted for 26.0 per cent of all Volvo cars sold globally in March. In Europe, the share of Recharge cars of overall sales was 39.0 per cent.

Photo: Volvo

For the first quarter of 2021, Volvo Cars more than tripled its numbers of subscriptions sold online through its Care by Volvo offer, compared to the same period last year. It also saw a quarter-on-quarter growth of 22 per cent.

In China, sales increased by 117.7 per cent in the first three months of the year, compared with the first quarter the year before. With a continued strong demand for the locally produced S90, the company recovered and improved sales that were lost due to Covid-19 restrictions. Total first quarter sales reached 45,242 cars, increasing from 20,780 in the same period 2020.

In the January-March period, US sales for the company reached 27,239 cars. That is an increase of 39.8 per cent compared with the same period last year, which was affected by the pandemic as many states implemented stay-at-home orders.

In the first three months of 2021, the company’s European sales grew to 87,457 cars, up 24.0 per cent compared to the same period last year. The increase was mainly driven by markets that managed to cope with pandemic-related shutdowns, as well as a strong sales increase in Sweden and the UK.

In March, the XC40 was the top selling model with sales of 23,958 cars (12,462), followed by the XC60, with total sales of 21,186 cars (12,730 units), and the Volvo XC90 with 9,893 cars (5,758 units).

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Former Wheeler Dealers star is branching out on his own

Former Wheeler Dealers star Edd China is launching a new YouTube series, starting this week.

Called Edd China’s Workshop Diaries, it will see the popular engineer work on a wide variety of vehicles.

In a trailer that has been uploaded to his YouTube channel and shared on the MotorAuthority blog, China says he will be taking the viewer along as he learns new skills and interviews interesting people in the automotive space.

Part of the series will see China visit people who have project cars at home and are struggling to complete them, helping viewers overcome stumbling blocks with their own car builds.

This appears to be an evolution of a standalone series he had been planning for YouTube previously that was never launched.

Other features include visiting experts to showcase unique skills, demonstrating classic and future technology, and test driving quirky vehicles.

Although China is better known for working on classic vehicles, the presenter says that he has gained an interest in electric vehicle technology since leaving Wheeler Dealers, so this will feature in the show. Converting classic cars to electric is becoming a booming business, so it’s likely this will play a big part in China’s episodes.

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Lamborghini Urus sets high-speed record on the ice of Lake Baikal

Automobili Lamborghini took part for the first time in the Days of Speed on the ice of Lake Baikal, with the Lamborghini Urus Super SUV powering through extreme challenge to set the 1,000-meter record, at 114 km/h average speed from a standing start.

Piloted by the 18-time Days of Speed Russian record-holder Andrey Leontyev, the maximum recorded speed of the Urus during the record-breaking sprint was an impressive 298 km/h, despite significant warming of the ice on the world’s deepest lake. During the practice runs, the SuperSUV had even reached a maximum speed of 302 km/h. Official data registered by the FIA and the RAF (Russian Automobile Federation) will be published in April.

The Lamborghini Urus demonstrated outstanding performance and exceptional maneuverability on the ice despite the challenges of slippery conditions causing reduced traction, and strong gusts of wind

“Lamborghini always sets ambitious and bold goals, reinforcing the unparalelled performance benchmarks we set for our products and endorsing the innate innovation and technical prowess of our super sports cars. This extreme challenge has once again proven that the Urus Super SUV delivers the inherent performance expected of a Lamborghini in terms of acceleration and top speed as well as handling, to unlock any road: be it a highway, off-road route or even ice. We are excited to see the Urus’ official results published,” commented Konstantin Sychev, head of Lamborghini Eastern Europe and CIS.

Photos: Lamborghini

The Lamborghini Urus features a 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo engine delivering 650 hp at 6,000 rpm (maximum 6,800 rpm), producing maximum torque of 850 Nm at 2,250 rpm. With 162.7 hp/l the Urus claims one of the highest specific power outputs in its class and the best weight-to-power ratio at 3,38 kg/hp. The Urus accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds, 0-200 km/h in 12,8 seconds and with a top speed of 305 km/h, it is one of the fastest super SUVs available.

The annual Days of Speed festival was held between March 10-13. Organised by LAV-racing company, this official sports event is dedicated to setting record speeds on ice. The event strictly adheres to all regulations of the FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) and RAF (Russian Automobile Federation).

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Land Rover and Royal Geographical Society launch 2021 Earth Photo Challenge

Land Rover is partnering with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) to launch the 2021 Earth Photo competition – inspiring people to get out into the landscape and appreciate their surroundings.

Earth Photo is an international photography competition that aims to promote environmental and geographical issues by revealing the stories behind the winning images and videos. Entries are now open, with exhibitions of winning and shortlisted images and videos in the summer and autumn.

Earth Photo 2021 breaks new ground in a long partnership. Land Rover has worked with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) on fieldwork and expeditions for more than 40 years, providing vehicles and expertise, and funding training and outreach projects.

Laura Wood, Head of Global PR Brand & Partnerships, Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Land Rover has always enabled people to make more of their world, so we are delighted to support the Royal Geographical Society’s Earth Photo competition. By going above and beyond to capture extraordinary images, professional and amateur photographers alike can help make a positive difference, enabling a wider vision of our world.”

Alasdair MacLeod, Head of Enterprise and Resources at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), said: “We believe photography and film have a profound international influence and that images and videos speak most powerfully to viewers and convey meaning and emotion beyond the barriers of language.

“Working with Land Rover marks a new chapter for this important international competition. Land Rover’s history of exploration and ability to tackle the toughest terrain makes it the ideal partner for Earth Photo.”

Amy Frascella, Land Rover’s Director of Colour and Materials, joins the judging panel for 2021. Amy said: “People are increasingly aware of their impact on the planet; from the things they buy to what they eat and how they live. Land Rover continues to develop more responsible, sustainable material options, such as premium alternatives to leather and recycled polymers for our interiors.

“The Royal Geographical Society’s Earth Photo competition is a powerful way to encourage debate and change and I’m excited to be joining the judging panel.”

Earth Photo has five award categories: People, Place, Nature, Changing Forests and A Climate of Change. Last year’s competition drew 2,600 entries from all over the world.

Entrants will be encouraged to take photographs and videos when it’s safe to do so, coronavirus restrictions permitting.

The annual competition and exhibitions are jointly developed and hosted by the Society with Land Rover and Forestry England and supported by leading visual arts consultancy Parker Harris. All details regarding how to enter the competition can be found here https://earthphoto.artopps.co.uk/.

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