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Mini Countryman John Cooper Works revealed as sporty 296bhp crossover

Hot petrol SUV will sit alongside electric versions of the new Countryman

Mini has revealed the flagship version of its new Countryman SUV line-up – the John Cooper Works.

The new, third-generation Countryman was only revealed in September, with Mini offering petrol versions alongside new electric models that are capable of up to 287 miles from a charge.

In previous generations, the sporty John Cooper Works version has arrived late in the model’s lifetime, but that isn’t the case with this new car, which will arrive early in 2024 alongside the regular petrol and electric versions.

Powering the John Cooper Works is a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine developing 296bhp and 400Nm of torque, slightly down on the 302bhp the previous car offered. Mini claims a 0-60mph time of 5.2 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. It also comes as standard with all-wheel-drive, with an eight-speed automatic gearbox also being utilised.

Aside from the engine, the Countryman John Cooper Works boasts upgraded brakes with red callipers, along with a performance exhaust system with four pipes, which can have a ‘sound extension’ that pumps further noise into the cabin through the speakers. There’s also a bespoke suspension setup with stiffer springs and dampers to enhance the driving experience.

Photos: PA Media

To separate it from the standard Countryman, the John Cooper Works gets a unique look with the brand’s classic black, red and white colour scheme. There’s a specific lighting signature, while a sportier gloss black grille is used too. Red detailing on the C-pillar helps to separate the body colour from the contrasting roof too.

Inside, like the standard Countryman, there is a minimalist look, with an OLED touchscreen dominating the cabin, with sports seats and red detailing helping to give the model more of a dynamic feel.

The third-generation Countryman gets a bolder look than its predecessor, while also growing in size – being 6cm taller and 13cm longer than the old car – to help make room for a more compact Mini crossover, due in 2024, called the Aceman.

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Porsche showcases new Panamera’s interior ahead of upcoming reveal

New digital layout also has a separate passenger display.

Porsche has given a closer look at the interior of its new Panamera prior to the car’s full reveal on November 24.

The new generation of Panamera will take many cues from the current Taycan electric vehicle, which is being reflected in its interior. It has a far more digital-focused feel than the previous generation, with one of the key new features being larger screens. There’s now a 12.6-inch screen ahead of the driver, coupled with a 12.3-inch infotainment setup and a separate 10.9-inch touchscreen ahead of the passenger where they’ll be able to access media and nav functions.

The digital display itself also features a clearer layout than before, with all key elements ‘grouped together’ to make them easier to access. Porsche says that this ‘simplifies the operation of the Panamera’.

Photos: PA Media

Some additional space has been created by replacing the old gear stick with a new toggle-style control at the side of the steering wheel, while the old starter ‘key’ has been replaced by a more modern stop/start button. It means there’s now a larger storage area in between the driver and passenger with two large cupholders also available there.

Porsche has kitted the Panamera out with continuous ambient lighting along the entire centre dashboard while extra foam padding has been added to the seats to make them more comfortable. For the first time, Porsche will also be offering the Panamera with a leather-free upholstery option, combining animal-free materials such as Race-Tex and Pepita – with the latter incorporating Porsche’s classic houndstooth print.

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What to expect from the Tokyo Motor Show

There are set to be some big entries to this year’s event.

This year’s Japan Mobility Show – which is often referred to as the Tokyo Motor Show – looks set to deliver some very exciting new models. It’s usually a great event for wild and wacky concepts, but this year’s show also has some ‘core’ new additions which could be on our roads very soon.

But what are the key cars to look out for and what do you need to know about them? Let’s take a look.

Photos: PA Media

Honda Sustaina C

One of Honda’s main offerings at this year’s show is the dinky Sustaina C. It’s very close in design to the road-going Honda e, but has been used as a way of showing the future of sustainable materials.

As a result, it’s made from recyclable acrylic resin which would make reusing the car at the end of its life much easier than with a ‘normal’ car. There’s also the two-seater CI-MEV making its world premiere at this year’s show, with this model showcasing a future last-mile mobility option.

Mazda MX-5 Electric

Though we’ve yet to see it in full, there’s good information to suggest that Mazda will be previewing a future electric version of its ever-popular MX-5 roadster at this year’s show. It’ll represent a big move for Mazda which has, up until this point, resisted electrified powertrains for its sporty soft-top.

Expect a typically lightweight approach from Mazda but wrapped up in a very futuristic design.

Nissan Concepts

You might notice a trend at this year’s show – rather than single models, most manufacturers have released a series of concepts which give an indication of their future directions. Nissan is one such car maker and it has a number of cool-looking concepts heading to Tokyo.

There’s the go-anywhere Hyper Adventure Concept, the spacious Hyper Tourer Concept, the compact Hyper Urban and the striking Hyper Punk. Some will be shown in physical form and others via digital means.

Suzuki Concepts

Suzuki is also taking a multi-pronged approach to its appearance at the Tokyo Motor Show. There’s a very square EWX which has more than a hint of Nissan’s iconic Cube, and the electric eVX which has a 60kWh battery enabling a range of up to 342 miles.

A very important model at this year’s show is the latest generation of Swift, which is one of Suzuki’s most popular cars in the UK.

Toyota Concepts

Toyota has a number of innovative concepts being displayed at the Tokyo show, too. There’s the FT-Se, which could hint towards a future electric performance car from Toyota’s GR arm and is claimed to return up to 497 miles from a single charge.

The FT-3e, meanwhile, is a more conventional electric SUV while the new Land Cruiser Se points towards a future battery-powered version of the firm’s iconic off-roader.

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Toyota’s Hilux takes inspiration from Dakar Rally with new GR Sport II

Special version gets its own dedicated suspension setup and a host of other tweaks.

Toyota is aiming to push its Hilux pick-up truck ‘to new heights’ with the introduction of a new GR Sport II specification.

Drawing inspiration from the legendarily gruelling Dakar Rally, the Hilux GR Sport II has a number of tweaks and changes which should help to make it even more capable over difficult terrain.

Powered by a 201bhp 2.8-litre engine, the GR Sport II gains more ground clearance thanks to a bump in ride height of 20mm. The front and rear tracks have been widened by 140mm and 150mm respectively, while the approach angle has been improved as well. A new ‘air curtain’ structure also helps the Hilux to perform better in terms of aerodynamics, with a revised bumper and fog lamp bezel reducing drag overall.

Photos: PA Media

New monotube dampers replace the standard twin-tube versions for a more stable, confidence-inspiring ride while 17-inch wheels gain all-terrain tyres. Toyota has also beefed-up the Hilux’s brakes through larger front discs and new rear discs which replace the standard drums.

The exterior design has also been tweaked with a new mesh front grille which frames the Toyota name, while a number of GR Sport badges are fitted across the truck. Inside, there’s a black monochrome theme throughout contrasted by red accents in areas such as the seats, gearshift paddles and pedals. The sport seats are trimmed in a blend of synthetic suede and leather while in the middle of the dash sits a new eight-inch infotainment display which incorporates both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity systems.

Toyota has said that sales of the new Hilux GR Sport II will kick off in the first half of 2024, with prices announced closer to that time.

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Nissan kick-starts series of concept car reveals ahead of Tokyo Motor Show

Its first model, the Hyper Urban, puts a particular focus on sustainability

Nissan has revealed the first in a number of new concept car reveals that are being shown ahead of this month’s Tokyo Motor Show.

A particularly important event for Japanese carmakers, the Tokyo Motor Show is often used to show off a range of radical concepts. This year’s show will be no different, with Nissan revealing its first show car – the Hyper Urban concept.

Nissan says this model is targeted at ‘urban-based professionals’ and puts a particular focus on environmental sustainability. Equipped with technologies such as vehicle-to-home (V2H), which allows the car’s electricity to be used to power a home and take the pressure off the grid.

It also features a ‘vehicle-to-grid’ (V2G) function, whereby the car can contribute surplus power directly to the grid. This is all courtesy of a charging management system that can ‘autonomously charge vehicles and power buildings’.

The futuristic concept car is designed to be kept by its owner for a long period of time, and thanks to regular updates, allows for a ‘fresh ownership experience over many years’. Nissan says its interior can be refreshed with the latest technologies, while a new instrument panel can be fitted.

Photos: PA Media

Design highlights of the Hyper Urban include front and rear scissor doors (a typical concept car feature), while inside the front seats can ‘collapse’ and fold away into the back seats, to create a sofa-like seating area.

The Hyper Urban is one of four concept cars that will be shown ahead of the Tokyo Motor Show. Nissan says the concepts ‘embody the company’s unwavering dedication to enriching people’s lives and to revolutionise the electric vehicle landscape with transformative products and technologies’.

The Tokyo Motor Show kicks off on October 25, with all the concepts set to be shown together at the event. Further important reveals are expected from Honda and Suzuki too.

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Aston Martin DB12 Volante revealed as glamorous new convertible

New DB12 Volante makes its global debut at Monterey Car Week

Aston Martin has unveiled the DB12 Volante as a stunning convertible version of its new GT car.

Following the reveal of the DB12 in coupe form earlier in the year, the Volante arrives to provide a more glamorous, roof-down feel.

Making its debut at the Monterey Car Week in California, the DB12 is powered by a 671bhp 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine – significantly more than the 503bhp the previous DB11 Volante had at its launch in 2018.

That allows the new DB12 to accelerate from 0-60mph in 3.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 202mph.

The DB12 Volante uses a fabric soft-top, featuring eight layers of insulation. It takes just 16 seconds to close electronically and can work at speeds of up to 31mph. It can be opened using the key, too. The roof comes as standard in black, but red, blue and ‘black and silver’ colours are also available.

Photos: PA Media

Like the DB12 Coupe, this Volante model gets a significantly overhauled interior compared to the old DB11. This includes a new 10.25-inch touchscreen with advanced connected services and 3D satellite navigation mapping. The ‘What3Words’ navigation function is also integrated, along with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Aston Martin chief executive officer, Amedeo Felisa, said: “For many of our customers, roof-down driving is the greatest pleasure. Aston Martin Volantes have captured that emotion and expressed it in a unique style for more than six decades.

“With the new DB12 Volante we have changed the rules, creating a car that intensifies those feelings by preserving all the purity and exceptional sporting capabilities of the DB12 Coupe. A rare and true sporting convertible in every respect, this is a car to challenge preconceptions and find a new generation of Volante customer.”.

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Fiat creates ‘world’s smallest zero-emission gelateria’ in one-off 500e Convertible

Electric model incorporates two 15-litre freezers.

Fiat has created a zero-emissions ice cream van on a compact scale using its 500e Convertible.

Billed as the ‘world’s smallest, zero-emission gelateria’, the one-off concept is based on Fiat’s electric 500e Convertible and aims to provide a ‘greener’ alternative to the traditional ice cream van.

As well as its eye-catching two-tone exterior finish with frozen gelato display, the concept features two 15-litre freezers and can even play an ‘Italian orchestral alert’ to let passers-by know that it’s ready to serve. 

Fiat says that despite its compact size, the 500e Gelateria Edition can serve ice cream to approximately 300 people per day with ice cream. The passenger and rear seats have been removed entirely, freeing up space for the attendant to move around. Gelato is then handed over to customers via the rear of the vehicle.

Photos: PA Media

Frozen gelato trays are mounted above a bespoke cabinet where the battery-powered freezers are placed, while accessories such as cones, tubs and spoons are all kept here too. When the convertible fabric roof is down, a canopy can be raised above the vehicle to provide a bit of extra shade from the sun. The Gelateria Edition also features a cream dashboard finish and bronze badging.

To celebrate the concept, Fiat has also created a new gelato flavour – Bicerin – which takes its inspiration from a hot drink native to Fiat’s home in Turin. It consists of coffee, chocolate and oat milk ingredients.

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New Mercedes EQA arrives with upgraded design and more range

Electric model now has a claimed range of up to 347 miles.

Mercedes has revamped its electric EQA with the introduction of a bold new look and a much-improved range.

Sitting as the smallest electric vehicle in the Mercedes line-up, the EQA debuts a fresh new grille design with a star pattern integrated into it. The front end of the vehicle has been made smoother to aid efficiency, too, while as before there’s a full-width light bar connecting the headlights.

The rear lights have been refreshed in design, too, and they now incorporate a star-like design which helps to make them a little more eye-catching than before.

Photos: PA Media

Inside, the EQA has been updated with a new steering wheel with touch-sensitive control panels, improved materials and the latest generation of the Mercedes MBUX infotainment system. The look of the screens can be toggled through three display styles, too, while all cars get this feature as standard. As we’ve seen on the recently updated A-Class, the EQA also does away with its predecessor’s trackpad with the screen controlled through touch alone.

The big change to the EQA comes in the form of range, however. The previous-generation EQA brought a claimed range of 260 but, through aerodynamic upgrades and highly rolling-resistance-optimised tyres, the new EQA can travel for up to 347 miles on a single charge.

This exceeds the ranges offered by many of the EQA’s key rivals, which aren’t able to offer more than 300 miles. The BMW iX1, for example, can only travel for up to 271 miles on a single charge in comparison.

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Zenvo Aurora revealed to mark ‘new era’ of firm

The Aurora is powered by a 1,850bhp hybrid V12 engine

Danish hypercar maker Zenvo has unveiled its new Aurora supercar – a hybrid V12-powered model that is its most powerful and lightest car to date.

Revealed during Monterey Car Week, it is said to mark the ‘start of a new era’ for the brand. Named after the Northern Lights, the Aurora is an all-new model for Zenvo too, following on from the ST1 and TSR that have served the firm for the last 16 years.

Using a carbon monocoque structure, it will be available in two guises – the more ‘aggressively styled’ Aurora Agil and the ‘beautifully elegant’ Aurora Tur. The Agil is a more flamboyant choice designed more for track use, while the Tur does without big wings and instead puts the emphasis on aerodynamics and sleeker looks.

Though Zenvo says its targets were never to ‘chase numbers’ or ‘focus on outright performance’, it’s ended up with a car that could win most games of Top Trumps. Featuring 6.6-litre quad-turbocharged V12 engine, developed in the UK by Mahle Powertrain, on its own this puts out 1,250bhp. However, it’s joined by an electric motor system that generates up to an additional 600bhp, depending on version, meaning the Aurora is capable of producing 1,850bhp – the most of any Zenvo to date.

Photos: PA Motoring

A hybridised seven-speed automatic gearbox is also used. The transmission is tailored depending on model, too, with the Agil said to offer more ‘mechanical gearchanges’, while the Tur has ‘much smoother transitions’ between gears. It can be had with rear- or all-wheel-drive, too.

The combined effort allows the Aurora to accelerate from 0-60mph in as little as 2.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 280mph. Thanks to the lightweight carbon structure, the Aurora can tip the scales at as little as 1,300kg in its lightest form – less than than a new Ford Focus.

The Aurora is reported to start from €3.6m and just 100 examples will be built, split equally across the two versions, with production not due to commence until 2025.

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