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What does an electric future look like for these popular cars?

As we transition into an EV world, we look at the likelihood of popular cars continuing to exist.

Ford recently announced the shock news that it was going to stop making its best-selling Fiesta by the end of next year.

The news might seem baffling. However, Ford said it came as a result of the model ‘accelerating its efforts’ to go all-electric, with a Fiesta EV playing no part in its future as the firm abandons traditional nameplates – including the Focus and Mondeo.

It begs the question of whether a number of other, well-loved models will make it into an electrical age. Let’s take a look at their chances.

Photos: PA Media

Volkswagen Golf

The Volkswagen Golf will soon be turning 50 years old, with this popular hatchback spanning eight generations, with the most recent arriving in 2020. More than 35 million have been produced to date, and it’s historically been VW’s most popular car, though has more recently been overtaken by the Tiguan SUV.

While the firm did offer the electric e-Golf for a number of years, production ended in 2020 to make way for the ID.3 – Volkswagen’s bespoke EV hatchback, though occupying a similar footprint as the Golf. All of Volkswagen’s current and future focus appears to be on its bespoke electric ‘ID’ range of EVs, with the brand yet to confirm a new generation of Golf. It means a replacement electric model seems unlikely.

Range Rover

In the SUV segment, the Range Rover is an icon – a model with brand awareness and desirability that other car companies can only dream of. Land Rover has spun Range Rover off as its own sub-brand, reaping the benefits as a result.

But it’s the full-fat Range Rover that remains the one at the top of the pile, with the latest fifth-generation model only arriving in dealers earlier this year. The future of the Range Rover looks to be in safe hands, too. Not only is it already offered with a choice of hybrid powertrains, but an EV version has been confirmed for a 2024 launch, arriving as Land Rover’s first electric model.

Honda Civic

The Honda Civic might not be an icon in the same ilk as a Range Rover, but this popular hatchback remains a huge deal for this Japanese manufacturer and has now been around for an impressive 50 years and 11 generations.

The latest version only arrived earlier this year, but in Europe Honda introduced it purely as a hybrid model. However, other overseas markets can still get it as a conventional petrol. While the next generation of Civic is unlikely to arrive much before the end of the decade, the fact all of Honda’s EVs to date have been bespoke EVs doesn’t bode well for the future of the Civic.

Mini Hatch

Mini’s iconic hatchback is a model ripe for electrification, with the British brand introducing the ‘Electric’ in 2020. It’s gone on to account for a significant proportion of this brand’s sales, and though Mini might be increasingly looking at larger vehicles, this dinky model will remain a part of the brand for many years to come.

A new generation Mini Hatch is due to arrive in 2023, boasting smaller dimensions and a simplified dashboard – and the good news is that an electric model will be launched too. The bad news? Mini is set to move production of the EV models away from its factory near Oxford to China.

Vauxhall Astra

While the Astra might not sell in the droves it once did, this family hatchback remains an important model for both Vauxhall, and sibling company Opel. That was shown with the introduction of the latest generation earlier in the year, which brought a big uplift in terms of design and quality.

You can already get the new Vauxhall Astra with a choice of plug-in hybrid powertrain, but the British brand will go a step further in 2023 by introducing the Astra Electric. An estate version is also planned and helps to future-proof this important model.

Porsche 911

There’s not a more coveted sports car than the Porsche 911, which has been the star of this German brand’s line-up for almost 60 years, Porsche is currently committing heavily to electrification, as its Taycan EV is proving hugely successful, and an electric Macan is due in 2024 too.

While Porsche has so far not confirmed or denied an EV, the brand is already exploring what electric sports cars will look like. It may prove challenging in the 911, though, because the model is renowned for its rear-engined layout. But as the 911 remains so important for Porsche, we’d be highly surprised if it didn’t continue as an EV in the future. Just expect it to look quite different to how it does now.

BMW 3 Series

Arguably BMW’s best-known model, the 3 Series saloon and estate continue to be hugely successful models, even in the face of SUV popularity. You can buy the models with a choice of plug-in hybrid powertrains.

BMW is already offering an electric 3 Series (called the i3), but currently, it’s produced and sold exclusively in China. However, a new i3 for Europe is on the way, though it likely won’t be until the next generation model launches in 2025 or 2026. It’s likely to use a bespoke platform developed under what BMW calls ‘Neue Klasse’, which will essentially be its next-generation EVs.

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BMW’s 3.0 CSL celebrates 50 years of M

New car is ‘the most exclusive’ that the company has ever made.

BMW M is bringing its 50-year anniversary celebrations to a close with a new limited-edition model – the 3.0 CSL.

Limited to just 50 units, the 3.0 CSL harks back to the legendary 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’ of the 1970s. The most recent incarnation uses the most powerful straight-six ever used in a BMW road car, with the 3.0-litre engine kicking out 552bhp and 550Nm of torque, driven to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.

It’s underpinned by specially tuned Adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled shock absorbers, while carbon ceramic brakes are fitted too. Sitting in front of the brakes are central-locking wheels finished in gold, with 20-inch alloys up front and 21-inch versions at the rear. Specially-developed Michelin tyres bear the number ‘50’ on the sidewalls, too.

The entire exterior design of the 3.0 CSL pays homage to the original. The kidney grille is more upright, for instance, while the recesses in the front apron are like the air intakes of the 1970s version. The BMW Laser Light headlights are yellow, too, linking the 3.0 CSL to other racers from the firm.

Photos: PA Media

In true reference to the ‘Batmobile’, the new 3.0 CSL also has a striking rear wing which both makes a big visual impact and also generates additional downforce over the rear axle. Underneath, there are four exhaust tailpipes positioned in an arrow shape, while the rear lights use laser ‘threads’ that appear to float within the lights.

There are numbers on the doors and roof of the car, too, in another nod to early racing cars, while the BMW logo is included on the C-pillar as another reference to 1970s cars.

Much of the 3.0 CSL’s body has been made with carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP), including areas such as the roof, bonnet and boot lid, while the titanium rear silencer is around 4.3kg lighter than a conventional steel version.

Inside, the rear seats have been removed and replaced with two integrated helmet storage compartments and up front there are two carbon bucket seats. Black Alcantara is used through much of the cabin while each car gets its own numbered plaque corresponding to its build slot.

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Abarth goes electric with new 500e

Small hot hatch promises big on the fun factor

Abarth has revealed its first electric model with the new 500e – a hotter version of Fiat’s 500 EV.

Set to be sold alongside petrol versions of the Abarth 595, this 500e signals a new era for the brand and is its first new model in more than half a decade.

Based on the electric Fiat 500, the 500e ‘performs better than petrol’ thanks to improved weight distribution, better torque and a wider wheelbase, says Fiat. Power increases from 116bhp on the Fiat to 153bhp here, although the 42kWh battery remains. No range figure has been given, but expect slightly less than the 199 miles that Fiat claims for its electric 500.

Accelerating from 0-60mph takes 6.8 seconds, with Abarth saying it can pick up speed faster around town and can overtake more quickly than petrol versions.

Photos: PA Media

There are three driving modes depending on how you want to get around – Turismo, Scorpion Street and Scorpion Track – while Abarth says it has engineered an ‘immersive sound experience for those who want to drive electric without giving up on the famous and unmistakable Abarth roar’.

Known as a ‘Sound Generator’, it aims to replicate the noise of a petrol engine, but it can be turned off if drivers don’t want it.

Abarth has also given the model a much more aggressive design than the standard Fiat 500, including dedicated bumpers, side skirts and a rear diffuser insert. Bespoke alloy wheels are also fitted, along with a new Abarth logo.

Like existing models from the Italian firm, the 500e will be offered as a hatchback and a convertible, with Abarth creating a launch edition model known as the ‘Scorpionissima’.

Limited to 1,949 units to mark the year the firm was founded, the model is available in Acid Green or Poison Blue paint. It also comes with exclusive 18-inch alloy wheels, a fixed glass roof and rear privacy glass. Alcantara is used for the seats, dashboard and steering wheel, while the standard equipment includes a 10.25-inch touchscreen with wireless smartphone mirroring, heated front seats and a JBL sound system.

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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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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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