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Volkswagen reveals two Obi-Wan Kenobi-inspired ID. Buzz models

German car firm has collaborated with the new Star Wars television series.

Volkswagen has revealed two new special edition versions of the ID. Buzz, inspired by the new Obi-Wan Kenobi television series.

Keeping a Star Wars theme, the Light Side Edition and Dark Side Edition have been designed to appeal to the two sides of the force.

Each draws inspiration from Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader, with skins covering the models with designs coming from a collaboration between Volkswagen and Lucasfilm.

Looking first at the Light Side Edition, the lower section is beige like Kenobi’s tunic, while the shiny chrome on the upper section is a nod to the spaceships and droids of the Star Wars universe.

The jedi’s blue lightsaber is referenced through a thin blue line that goes down the side and onto the front of the car, while the underbody lighting and glass surfaces also have a blue hue.

Photos: PA Media

The side windows and the centrecaps of the 21-inch alloy wheels have the Rebel Alliance logo to complete the look.

The Dark Side Edition is made from the ID. Buzz Cargo van, wearing ominous black and red detailing. The lower section is shiny black while the upper section is matte black, while red is used as a highlight for various pieces of trim, as well as covering the windows and headlights. The logos of the Empire can also be found dotted around the vehicle.

Doug Chaing, Lucasfilm vice president and executive creative director, said: “The opportunity to explore how ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ and the Volkswagen brand could come together on a vehicle was pure fun.

“The themes of good and evil, light and dark aren’t necessarily concepts we apply to cars. The ID. Buzz collaboration offered an unique opportunity to have the cars become graphic reflections of two iconic characters.”

The two special editions were unveiled at the Star Wars Celebration event in Anaheim, California.

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Rolls-Royce has revealed the second coachbuilt Boat Tail

Rolls-Royce has revealed the second example of its coachbuilt Boat Tail series.

This example was commissioned by someone working in the pearl industry, with a selection of pearl shells from the owner’s collection providing inspiration for the exterior paint job.

The luxury car firm describes it as ‘one of the most complex Bespoke finishes ever created by Rolls-Royce’, with a combination of oyster and soft rose with large white and bronze flakes adding a pearlescent quality that changes under different light.

A contrasting cognac colour is used for the bonnet, while the lower sills have a rose gold weave within the material’s thread.

At the rear, the unique butterfly opening has a Royal Walnut veneer with rose gold-plated pinstripes. This wood was chosen as it will age over time to match the cognac-coloured bonnet.

Inside, there is a similar theme, with cognac and oyster colours used throughout, with the same wood veneer and a pearlescent leather upholstery.

Photos: PA Media

The timepiece in the centre of the dashboard is made from mother-of-pearl, chosen and supplied by the client from their collection. The same material is used for the switches and instrument dials as a nod to the family heritage.

Alex Innes, head of coachbuild design at Rolls-Royce, said: “Boat Tail is a step-change in ingenuity and creative liberty. Building a motor car by hand offers a new realm of exploration and possibility: we can accomplish things and resolve challenges that normal industrialised methods would prohibit.

“This is the tale of two worlds: a modern motor car of contemporary design, made possible by historical techniques and time-honoured craft. It is truly, one-of-a-kind.”

The first Boat Tail was revealed in May 2021 to promote the return of the firm’s bespoke coachbuilding service. This example debuted the rear hatch, which contains a luxury picnic set, complete with chairs and an umbrella.

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The first electric Moke has rolled off the production line

The first electric Moke has rolled off the production line, just in time for summer.

Moke International announced its relaunch in 2020 with a limited run of petrol-powered models built in the Midlands, but last year it confirmed that the iconic car would enter production as an EV.

As of January 1, 2022 it was no longer possible to order the petrol version, replaced by a 44bhp electric model. The Moke weighs just 800kg, so despite the low power it’s capable of hitting 34mph in about 4.5 seconds. The top speed is 62mph while the battery takes four hours to charge.

It has a range of about 75 miles, which the firm says is fit ‘for at least three round trips from Cap-Ferrat to Monaco’. Although it is road legal, the Moke is not intended for long journeys and is pitched as a model in which to cruise around the countryside and seaside towns in the height of summer.

With the first production models finished, Moke says that the first UK customers will receive their cars in June through the official UK distributor Hendy Group.

Photos: PA media

Robin Kennedy, commercial director at Moke International, said: “Moke is all about country roads, beach excursions, the summer breeze in your hair and enjoying the journey, rather than hurrying from A to B.

“We’ve taken the original Mini Moke, created by Sir Alec Issigonis and reimagined it for today’s world – and tomorrow’s – as a fully electric vehicle.

“Our team has been working relentlessly for three years to engineer and manufacture a worthy, sustainable successor with the latest technologies. Made in Britain, the Electric Moke is now ready to inspire and delight a new generation.”

Moke International is building the electric Moke at a new facility in Northamptonshire. They are available in both right- and left-hand drive.

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Maserati’s MC20 Cielo makes global debut

Convertible weighs just 65kg more than the hardtop version.

Maserati has unveiled the convertible version of its MC20 supercar – called Cielo.

Powered by a 621bhp twin-turbocharged V6 engine, the Cielo manages to weigh just 65kg more than the hardtop version. It’ll also manage the 0-60mph sprint in just under three seconds.

Underpinned by a carbon-fibre platform – the same one that is used under the coupe and will be utilised by the upcoming electric version – the Cielo features an electric folding roof that can be opened or closed in 12 seconds. Launch versions of the car will also feature a new three-layer metallic colour called Acquamarina, which is also available as part of Maserati’s Fuoriserie customisation programme.

A clever electrochromatic window is also fitted to the Cielo and it can be changed from clear to opaque at the touch of the central screen. It uses polymer-dispersed liquid crystal technology to quickly change how much light is allowed to enter the cabin. The same butterfly doors as the coupe feature on the Cielo, too.

Photos: PA Media

A variety of safety systems have been fitted to the Cielo, including blind spot monitoring, autonomous emergency braking and traffic sign recognition. A new 360-degree parking camera is included, too.

There’s also the option to add a premium sound system from Sonus Faber. It has been specifically designed for this convertible version and incorporates 12 speakers to create a ‘natural sound’, according to Maserati.

Much like the hard-top, the Cielo incorporates a stripped-back interior but features high-definition screens giving access to a variety of functions.

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The performance cars you can still get with a manual gearbox

Is the manual gearbox potentially making a last-minute comeback?

It’s no secret that manual gearboxes have been dwindling in popularity in recent years, with many car buyers simply not interested in changing gear themselves.

And as no hybrid or electric car is likely to be offered with a traditional gearstick, the days of finding a manual gearbox in a new car are truly numbered. It’s true of performance cars, too, with very few actually being supplied with anything that isn’t an auto ‘box.

It’s not over just yet, though, with several manufacturers in recent months coming out to say their performance cars will still be offered with a stick shift. None more so than Toyota, which has revealed its GR Supra with a manual gearbox as the brand aims to cater more to the driving enthusiast market.

But what other new performance cars can you still get with a manual shifter? Let’s take a look.

Photos: PA Media

Toyota GR86

Toyota is really catering to the sports car market, with its GR Supra and GR Yaris getting the brand’s performance division off to an incredible start. But it’s the GR86 that really seems to have hit the nail on the head, with its pricing making it one of the most affordable sporting models on the market.

Ford Mustang

There are few better ways of enjoying the American lifestyle than with Ford’s Mustang. A true brutish muscle car, Ford has been officially importing them in right-hand-drive since 2015.

You might expect it, by default, to come with an automatic gearbox, but Ford actually offers it with a six-speed manual gearbox, which really lets you make the most of its raucous 444bhp 5.0-litre V8 engine.

Volkswagen Golf GTI

These days a DSG automatic gearbox is commonplace in pretty much every performance model from the Volkswagen Group, but for those that like a traditional manual ‘box, VW still caters with a six-speed manual on its legendary Golf GTI.

Now in its eighth generation this hot hatch is a seriously good option for those that want to use their performance car every day, with this latest Golf also getting a tech-laden interior and bolder styling than its predecessors.

Porsche 911 GT3

Buying a new manual supercar in 2022 is pretty much impossible, but one exception to that rule is the magnificent Porsche 911 GT3. Coming with a naturally-aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six engine, and the choice of manual or PDK automatic gearbox, if you really want to enjoy your GT3, the manual is by far the best option.

The GT3 offers fierce performance and a fiery, analogue character that you don’t get from modern performance cars. But with a steep starting price, the GT3 certainly isn’t a car many will be able to enjoy.

Lotus Emira

Lotus has been rather bold with its electrification strategy, as after the launch of the new Emira sports car later this year, every car this British brand launches in the future will be an EV. That makes the Emira even more sacred, and undoubtedly a future classic.

Using the investment from Chinese automotive giant Geely (which owns Lotus), the Emira is the firm’s first brand-new model in more than a decade, and represents a significant step forward where technology and quality are concerned. Yet, purists will be pleased that Lotus will still sell you an Emira with a traditional gearstick.

Mazda MX-5

New performance cars don’t get much more affordable than the MX-5, and this two-seat roadster is hugely entertaining to drive, and guaranteed to bring a smile to your face whatever the weather.

The vast bulk of MX-5s sold today also come with a manual gearbox, making it a fantastic choice for those that still like to change gear the traditional way. With generous equipment levels and low running costs, there’s a lot to like about this little Mazda.

Hyundai i30 N

Like Toyota, Hyundai has quickly established itself as a performance car brand to be reckoned with, and it was the i30 N that got this firm’s sporty arm off to a brilliant start. Based on what is usually quite a mundane hatchback, it’s truly transformed when the brand’s ‘N’ division gets its hands on it.

Though Hyundai recently introduced an automatic gearbox option as part of a mid-life update, a conventional six-speed manual remains available, and is the version to go for if you want to make the most of this hot hatch.

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The best convertibles to enjoy the summer sun

Malta is one of the best countries to drive around in a convertible, soaking up the summer sun or enjoying a light evening breeze. Here is a list of the best convertibles on sale today, accounting for a wide range of budgets.

Photos: PA Media

Mazda MX-5

If you’re looking for an affordable sports car, the Mazda MX-5 should be at the top of the list. The latest generation offers one of the purest driving experiences in the new car market, thanks to its simple layout and lightweight construction.

It looks great, has an interior with a hint of premium appeal (particularly in higher specifications) and a roof you can throw down in seconds. You can also pay extra to get a folding hardtop version, should that be more appealing.

Fiat 500 Convertible

If style is your preference over driving thrills, why not take a look at the Fiat 500 Convertible? The dinky Italian supermini is now only available with an electric powertrain, which suits it perfectly.

This does make it a bit pricier than before, but Fiat has given it a fantastic design update and decent equipment levels to make up for it. It has an impressive range of almost 200 miles, too, making it surprisingly adept at longer distance drives.

Audi A5 Cabriolet

Stepping up a level now, we have the Audi A5 Cabriolet. This is fairly large and practical for a convertible, focusing more on style and comfort than being particularly sporty. If you want the high-performance RS5 it’s sadly not available as a drop-top.

That’s not a big problem, though, as the A5 Cabriolet brings one of the best cabins in the business as well as genuinely usable rear seats. With the roof up it’s so quiet you’d never know it’s not the coupe, either.

Ford Mustang Convertible

You’ll have to dive deeper into your pockets to get yourself a Ford Mustang but if it’s a performance convertible you want it offers so much more than the Audi.

While it lacks the A5’s interior class and quality, it makes up for it by having a glorious V8 engine under the bonnet. And there’s no better way to enjoy the sound of the 444bhp on offer than with the roof down. It’s available with a manual gearbox, too, for that old school purity.

Porsche 718 Boxster

The Boxster used to have a bit of a reputation as the Porsche you bought because you couldn’t afford a 911. However, it has now carved itself out as a genuinely fantastic option for those who want a sports car that’s open to the elements.

If it’s within budget, the best option is the Boxster GTS 4.0, with its 395bhp 4.0-litre engine and countless mechanical upgrades that make it one of the best handling cars on sale.

Lexus LC Convertible

The Lexus LC Convertible is not cheap, but it does provide an ownership experience few rivals can match up to. For a start, it looks fantastic, with genuine concept car styling making it stand out whatever the paint job.

There’s also a brilliant V8 engine under the bonnet that makes revving out to the red line addictive. Finally, the cabin is worthy of the price tag, with high quality materials and a cool design.

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BMW M3 and M4 ‘50 Jahre’ editions celebrate half a century of BMW M

BMW has revealed special editions of the M3 and M4 to celebrate 50 years of BMW M.

The two models wear ‘50 Jahre’ badging, which translates to ‘50 years’. The German car maker says the editions mean ‘M enthusiasts around the globe can express both their passion for racing and their awareness of tradition’.

Based on the current generation of M3 and M4, both come with a straight-six-cylinder engine that makes 503bhp, fed to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

There will be a ‘strictly limited’ number of each version, with different global markets getting different configurations and the selection of historic paint colours from BMW M history.

For Europe, there is an exclusive M4 offered in Carbon Black, Macao Blue, Brands Hatch Grey, Imola Red and San Marino Blue. There are 19-inch forged alloy wheels up front with 20-inch wheels at the rear, offered for the first time in grey and gold/bronze matte.

Photos: PA Media

In China, the M4 has Fire Orange and Stratus Grey paint options, as a nod to the fact this is the Year of the Tiger.

Inside, ‘Edition 50 Jahre BMW M’ letting is placed on the sill plates, with similar wording on a plaque on the centre console and the headrests of the front seats.

The M3 version was designed specifically for the USA and Canada, with five paint choices called Cinnabar Red, Techno Violet, Interlagos Blue, Fire Orange and Limerock Grey.

Various M Performance Parts are available to upgrade each edition model, including a carbon-fibre front splitter and rear spoiler, and a carbon/titanium tailpipe trim.

These models get similar door sill lettering and plaques, as well as M stripes in the upholstery and an exclusive seam pattern.

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Fisker’s Ronin aims at ‘longest range for a production EV’

The upcoming Fisker Ronin electric sports car plans to deliver the longest range of any EV on sale.

The US-based firm has developed the Ronin – named after the film of the same title that is renowned for its car chases – to follow on from its Ocean SUV and Pear models. The four-seater convertible will definitely be a new sight in the EV segment, arriving as the first of its type. However, this bodystyle will be backed by ‘active aerodynamic technologies and an innovative battery design’ with the battery pack itself integrated into the structure of the vehicle.

“The aim is to achieve the world’s longest range for a production EV, combined with extremely high levels of performance,” CEO Henrik Fisker said. “Project Ronin will be a showcase for our internal engineering, powertrain, and software capabilities.”

Fisker says that the Ronin will feature ‘unique’ doors that will make getting in and out of the vehicle easier, while sustainable vegan materials will be used throughout the interior.

A teaser image has been released, showcasing the Ronin with its roof stowed away. The car’s long bonnet can easily be seen, as can a distinct nose section.

Currently, the Mercedes EQS has the longest range of any production EV, and is capable of delivering up to 453 miles between charges. It can also charge at speeds of up to 200kW, resulting in an 80 per cent top-up being conducted in 31 minutes. The Fisker Ronin would therefore have to exceed this in order to take the top spot in terms of electric-only range.

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Abarth 695 Tributo 131 Rally pays tributes to firm’s racing history

Abarth is harking back to its rallying days with a new special edition version of its 695.

Called the 695 Tributo 131 Rally, it’s limited to just 695 units worldwide and, of those coming to the UK, each will cost from £32,325. It pays homage to the Abarth 131 Rally, which made its debut in 1976 in Group 4.

Equipped with a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 178bhp and 250Nm of torque, the 131 Rally will hit 60mph in 6.5 seconds and carry on to a top speed of 140mph. Plus, it also receives Koni FSD shock absorbers alongside Brembo brake calipers for high levels of stopping performance. These include 305mm and 240mm ventilated discs on the front and rear of the car respectively.

Photos: PA Media

All cars get 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels and a ‘Record Monza Sovrapposto’ exhaust system with quad outlets. The rear spoiler can also be adjusted into one of 12 different positions, allowing it to bring added downforce when travelling at greater speeds. Inside, there are Sabelt fabric seats with blue contrast stitching.

The 131 Rally’s exterior design pays tribute to its rally predecessors with its bicolour three-layer ‘Blue Rally’ livery, while inside a variety of ‘Easter Eggs’ – where designers hide certain elements – have been incorporated, with highlights including the silhouette of the 131 Rally being engraved on the lower part of the car door.

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