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Ford’s Focus ST gains new Track Pack option

Ford has given buyers of its Focus ST the opportunity to sharpen the driving experience even further with a new Track Pack.

Developed by Ford Performance and tested at the famous Nurburgring in Germany, the Track Pack will be available exclusively for five-door, six-speed manual Focus ST variants.

The new Track Pack fine-tunes the Focus ST through the fitment of KW Automotive adjustable suspension that works in conjunction with lighter alloy wheels to help bring even more responsiveness. This setup can be adjusted by the owner in order to tailor the car’s setup to a specific circuit or surface. They offer 12-step adjustment for upward response and 16-step adjustment for rebound.

Photos: PA Media

Ford has also enhanced the ST’s braking with the Track Pack through the fitment of front discs that are 10 per cent larger in diameter than those fitted to the standard ST. These are then combined with four-piston Brembo callipers to help improve braking performance.

Stefan Muenzinger, manager, Ford Performance, Europe, said: “Our new Focus ST Track Pack combines high-end technical components to make the hot-hatch truly track-capable for enthusiasts.

“Adjustable suspension, huge brakes and grippy tyres help optimise performance, body control and track durability for maximum fun – and that’s what this car is all about.”

Cars fitted with the Track Pack also get a tweaked exterior design, with the front upper grille, roof and door mirror caps of these models finished in high gloss black. A similar finish is applied to the alloy wheels, too.

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Upcoming Lamborghini Urus sets new fastest time for SUV on Pikes Peak hill climb

Lamborghini has set a new fastest time for an SUV tackling the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with an updated version of its Urus.

Arriving in 2018, the Urus was Lamborghini’s first modern-day SUV and has been a huge success – accounting for more than 60 per cent of the Italian supercar firm’s sales in the first half of 2022.

Lamborghini is now readying an updated model, and ahead of its unveiling later this month it has showcased its capabilities up the famous Pikes Peak hill climb in the Rocky Mountains near Colorado Springs. The road that the hill climb ascends, which starts from an altitude of 2,862m and goes up to 4,302m, was closed for the run.

Still wearing camouflage, the Urus managed the 12.42-mile hill climb in just 10 minutes 32 seconds, with Pirelli test driver Simone Faggioli at the wheel. Although Lamborghini says the car wasn’t entered into the official race, it added that the time was recorded by official timekeepers of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

The previous SUV record was achieved in 2018 by a Bentley Bentayga, which set a race day record of 10 minutes 50 seconds with Rhys Millen at the wheel.

Photos: PA Media

Rouven Mohr, Automobili Lamborghini chief technical officer, said: “The decision to test ourselves at Pikes Peak reflects the Lamborghini spirit of ‘expect the unexpected’.

“Pikes Peak is the most famous hill climb event in the world, as well as being extremely challenging for the car. The uneven track layout tests the chassis’ balance, the significant altitude differences stress the powertrain, and the weather conditions can change very rapidly between start and finish.”

Lamborghini says the Urus was equipped with the standard twin-turbo V8 engine, which produces 632bhp in the current car, but may increase as part of the update. To comply with the safety regulations of the hill climb, it was modified to include a roll cage, a race seat with six-point harness and a fire extinguishing system.

The 22-inch wheels were also shod in new Pirelli Zero Trefeo R tyres – semi-slicks, and the first to be developed for an SUV.

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Aston Martin DBR22 revealed as V12-powered speedster

Concept will turn into production reality by Aston Martin’s ‘Q’ division.

Aston Martin has unveiled the DBR22 – a carbon-fibre two-seat speedster as it marks 10 years of its special ‘Q’ division.

Making its debut at this year’s Monterey Car Week in California, the DBR22 celebrates the firm’s previous open-cockpit racing models, including the DBR1 and DB3S – two of the brand’s most valuable models. Clear links can also be seen to the more recent V12 Speedster.

Currently shown as a ‘design concept’, Aston Martin says it will ‘become production reality’ and be ‘ultra-exclusive’. Revealed to celebrate 10 years of the firm’s ‘Q’ division, which creates one-off or very limited numbers of bespoke cars, Aston Martin says the DBR22 shows Q’s ‘limitless potential’.

Boasting a new body, the DBR22 gets a new grille that takes inspiration from the DBR1 and DB3S, it receives lightweight 22-inch alloy wheels and is finished in an unnamed Paint to Sample green colour.

Under the bonnet sits a 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12 engine, putting out 705bhp and 753Nm of torque, allowing a 0-60mph time of 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 198mph.

Photos: PA Media

Aston Martin has also altered the chassis to increase torsional rigidity, and fitted bespoke dampers.

Moving inside, the speedster uses a new dashboard and infotainment display, with leather and exposed carbon fibre being used extensively throughout. There’s no windscreen or roof, either, with the car’s design channelling the air over the cockpit.

Roberto Fedeli, Aston Martin chief technical officer, said “The DBR22 showcases Aston Martin’s unique capabilities, with world-class design combined with an agile, intelligent approach to engineering and production. For a car that was designed to celebrate the ultimate bespoke customisation service, the engineering developments mean DBR22 truly has the dynamic theatre to match, ensuring the drive is just as addictive as its looks.”

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New Volkswagen Amarok revealed in full

New truck shares a platform with Ford’s Ranger.

Volkswagen has finally revealed its Amarok pick-up after several weeks of teasers.

The new truck, which shares its underpinnings with the latest Ford Ranger, arrives with a bold new exterior design and a far more technology-focused interior than its predecessor. It’s also longer than before, measuring in at 5,350mm.

Expected to go on sale at the end of the year, the new Amarok has a host of engine options as well as a range-topping 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel with 247bhp. This is joined by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine available with either 148bhp and 168bhp, though twin-turbocharged versions will also be included, bringing either 201 or 206bhp.

A 2.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 298bhp will also be part of the Amarok’s powertrain options when it arrives later this year. A six-speed manual gearbox option will be available alongside six- and 10-speed automatics.

Photos: PA Media

As before, the Amarok uses Volkswagen 4Motion four-wheel-drive system to provide added traction over difficult terrain,

Inside, the Amarok utilises Volkswagen’s Virtual Cockpit digital dials, as well as a large central touchscreen that is much the same as the one in the Ranger. The steering wheel, meanwhile, will be familiar to those who have been in some of Volkswagen’s latest passenger vehicles.

The new Amarok has been rated to accept a payload of 1.16 tonnes, as well as a 3.5-tonne towing capacity. Alongside a conventional five-seat double-cab layout, the Amarok will also be offered as a single cab model with a longer load bed.

Volkswagen has significantly boosted the level of assistance technology on board the Amarok too, with 20 new systems included on the new truck. These include road sign recognition and front monitoring with pedestrian detection.

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This is what Volkswagen’s Phaeton successor would have looked like

Second-generation car was very close to entering production.

Volkswagen entered the luxury saloon segment back in 2002 with its Phaeton.

The brainchild of Volkswagen’s then-chairman Ferdinand Piëch, the Phaeton measured in at just over five metres long and just under two metres wide and was seen as the firm’s new flagship model. It was famously available with a 5.0-litre V10 diesel engine with 309bhp and 750Nm of torque.

Engineered to a completely new level for the brand, the Phaeton was never replaced with a successor, with Volkswagen stating that it chose to focus on electric cars instead rather than pursuing another luxury model.

However, on the 20th anniversary of the Phaeton’s release, Volkswagen has revealed a driveable prototype of a replacement for the original. With the project name ‘Phaeton D2’, the prototype showcases a vehicle that appears to be very close to production-ready.

Photos: PA Media

It sits on top of Volkswagen’s MLB platform – which has been used by Audi’s A8 and the Porsche Macan – and features a design which is a definite evolution of the original. Inside, it incorporates a large screen similar to one found in the latest Touareg, while digital dials are fitted behind the steering wheel.

Tomasz Bachorski, responsible for the interior of the Phaeton D2, said: “The fact that the Phaeton D2 was ahead of its time can be seen today in features such as the curved display, which was planned for the Phaeton successor and which was launched on the market in 2018 in the Touareg’s Innovision Cockpit.”

As on the original Phaeton, the concept incorporates many high-end materials throughout the cabin, while rear-seat passengers have plenty of legroom as well as access to screens mounted to the back of the front seats.

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Ferrari announces big electrification push

Italian brand also confirmed 15 new launches between 2023 and 2026.

Ferrari has announced its plans for 2026 as part of its Capital Markets Day, with the brand gearing up to launch a range of new electrified models.

The Italian supercar brand is lining up to expand its portfolio as part of its principle ‘different Ferrari for different Ferraristi’, with the arrival of the new Purosangue SUV said to be key to this. This eagerly-awaited model, which will rival the likes of the Aston Martin DBX and Lamborghini Urus, will be revealed in September 2022, with the brand confirming it will use a pure V12 engine.

Despite expectations for the Purosangue to rapidly increase Ferrari’s annual sales, the brand is looking to maintain exclusivity and says it will ‘remain below 20 per cent’ of its average yearly deliveries. There will also be 15 new model launches between 2023 and 2026, with Ferrari also adding that its ‘highly awaited new supercar will arrive within the plan period’.

Ferrari has also laid bare its electrification plans, with sixty per cent of new models by 2026 set to be hybrid or electric. The firm already offers four hybrid supercars in its line-up – including the SF90 and 296, and their convertible equivalents – and has said its first full electric Ferrari will be unveiled in 2025.

Photos: PA Media

Using in-house developed and assembled batteries, Ferrari says its first EV will ‘draw from broader technical expertise to further enhance driving thrills’. Despite this, the brand has said it will ‘continue to push the internal combustion engine evolution’.

Elsewhere, Ferrari is committing to carbon neutrality by 2030, while it said it will limit the autonomous driving capabilities of its cars as the brand wants to ‘preserve all the extraordinary emotions reserved for the driver’.

John Elkann, Ferrari chairman, said: “Our brand fuels the dreams of millions. It has been built up over 75 years of thrilling, memorable experiences, through success on the track and sheer driving pleasure on the road.

“It has created an inclusive, close-knit community that encompasses diverse people, countries and even industries. As long as we preserve its heritage and values, it will lay a solid foundation for our future strategic plans.”

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Bentley takes luxury to a new level with Continental GT Mulliner

Bentley has created what it calls ‘the fastest, most dynamic and most luxurious’ Continental GT to date.

Called the Continental GT Mulliner, it combines the high performance and advanced chassis setup of the ‘Speed’ version, but with the comfort of the recently-introduced Azure model.

Underneath the bonnet sits a 6.0-litre turbocharged W12 engine with 650bhp and 900Nm of torque, enabling a 0-60mph time of 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 208mph. It also incorporates electronic all-wheel-steering for improved agility at lower speeds but dependable stability at greater ones.

The exterior incorporates a number of elements that separate the Mulliner from the rest of the Continental GT range. There’s a new matrix grille at the front which is matched to front air vents incorporating the same silver and black design. Open the door and there are Mulliner-branded welcome lights, too, as well as illuminated sills.

Photos: PA Media

Inside, there’s a new ‘colour split’ which is exclusive to the Mulliner, utilising a new combination of primary and secondary materials linked by a third colour that is used for a central ‘design line’.

Eight new three-colour combinations have been suggested by Mulliner, while a choice of 88 piano wood finishers are also available. There is also ‘Diamond in Diamond’ stitching applied to the seats, door trims and rear quarter panels, with Bentley saying that this process includes almost 400,000 stitches.

The new Continental GT Mulliner now sits at the very top of the Continental range, above Azure, S and Speed variants.

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BMW M2 hits the track ahead of October reveal

BMW has revealed new camouflaged pictures of its new M2 sports car, ahead of its reveal later in the year.

The previous generation M2 went down as one of BMW’s best performance cars to date, and there are high hopes resting on this upcoming model. Shown being through its paces at the Salzburgring track in Austria, the M2 gets a more muscular look than the 2 Series Coupe it’s based on.

With its widened wheel arches and quad-exit exhaust system, it clearly shows its performance intent. However, BMW is being very tight-lipped about details of the new M2 – simply saying it ‘boasts a similar performance level to the M2 CS’, which produced 444bhp. BMW will also want to give it a noticeable power boost over the 369bhp M240i.

Retaining the previous car’s rear-wheel-drive layout, the new M2 will be offered with a choice of a six-speed manual or eight-speed M Steptronic automatic, and BMW says the gearboxes ‘guarantee that the power is applied extremely dynamically, redefining sheer driving pleasure’. A bespoke M chassis is also fitted, while its brakes and engine are both derived from the more expensive M3 and M4 models.

Photos: PA Media

This year is rather busy for BMW’s M division as it celebrates 50 years. The firm is showing off a whole range of models to mark the occasion, including the lightweight M4 CSL revealed recently, while the first ever M3 Touring will be showcased at this month’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. A new M2 will also play an important role in the celebrations.

BMW has confirmed the new M2 will be unveiled in October, with its market launch following in April 2023.

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What is the new BMW M3 Touring going up against?

Firm’s new performance estate car has a variety of rivals.

BMW has revealed its new M3 Touring, bringing a performance estate into its ranks for the very first time. It hasn’t weighed into battle underprepared, mind you, with a twin-turbocharged straight-six engine and four-wheel-drive ensuring that the Touring will be ultra capable in all areas.

But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be plain sailing. There are a number of rivals that the Touring will need to contend with and we’re checking them out below.

Photos: PA Media

Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate

The Mercedes-AMG C63 has always been well-known for its adoption of a V8 engine, but it looks likely that the new version – due to arrive later this year – will use a hybrid setup instead, centred around a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine.

Though details are scarce, it’s thought that the new C63 could develop as much as 670bhp from its petrol and electric combination.

Audi RS4

Often seen as the go-to everyday choice, the RS4 is one of Audi’s core performance models. With a turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 engine it’s got plenty of performance, but Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system means that this power can be deployed no matter the conditions.

It’s also very practical and has a solid and well-built interior that’ll put up with daily driving duties.

Alpina B3 Estate

Another key rival for the M3 Touring comes from within BMW’s stable – the Alpina B3 Touring. Similar in mechanical layout to the M3, the B3 utilises the same engine setup but uses an overall design that leans more towards comfort than outright sportiness.

Inside, it’s got Alpina’s usual attention to detail, while a well-judged suspension setup means that the B3 is superbly comfortable in the UK.

Volkswagen Golf R Estate

Though Volkswagen’s Golf R might cost considerably less than the £80,550 M3 Touring, it really punches above its weight in terms of performance. A turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine pushes out 316bhp, equating to a 0-60mph time of just 4.7 seconds.

It’s also practical and spacious, while a four-exit exhaust gives the Golf R a distinctive noise, too.

Cupra Leon Estate

Similar in design to the Golf R Estate is the Cupra Leon Estate. The newly-formed brand has really been gaining traction in recent years and the Leon Estate is one of its most potent models to date.

It uses the same 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine as the Golf, but features some of the standout design touches that Cupra has become known for.

Mercedes-AMG CLA45 Shooting Brake

Finally, we have another entry from Mercedes-AMG in the form of the CLA45 Shooting Brake. It can’t match the M3 for outright spaciousness, but thanks to a 415bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine it’ll manage the 0-60mph sprint in under four seconds.

It also features a clever 4Matic all-wheel-drive system to provide excellent traction in even very slippery conditions.

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