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Porsche’s new infotainment system now features full Spotify integration

Porsche is rolling out a new sixth-generation infotainment system to many of its core models as its cars become more connected.

The system, known as Porsche Communication Management (PCM) has been enhanced, with one of the main changes being the addition of full Spotify integration. Customers of the music streaming service can link their account to the car, and use Spotify as an additional media source without having to actually connect the phone to the car.

Elsewhere, the new system can be identified by the coloured shortcut buttons, which make it ‘easier to recognise’ for customers, while the upgraded voice control system is said to make it easier to access news and in-car music streaming. Wireless Android Auto is also now included.

Photos: PA Media

The infotainment system is now featured as standard on new Porsche 911, Cayenne, Panamera and electric Taycan models. It will be particularly useful to drivers of the Taycan, as Porsche has enhanced its ‘Charging Planner’ service, with the firm saying the system is now able to ‘plan charging stops more efficiently’ by prioritising the quickest chargers. Drivers are able to filter electric car chargers by their output, too.

It can also now factor in how long it takes to start and end a charge when calculating routes. These changes are said to make a ‘much-improved charging service’, and let owners maximise the impressive rapid charging speeds that the Taycan is capable of.

Any of the aforementioned Porsche models that are newly configured on the firm’s website will feature this latest infotainment system, though the full scope of the features does depend on the car being configured.

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Audi’s all-electric ‘e-tron’ range explained

Brands are going all-in on electric – here, we take a look at what Audi has to offer.

The electric vehicle revolution is in full swing as manufacturers race to build zero-emission models into their line-ups before petrol and diesel models are banned from sale.

The result is that there are a baffling array of new models on the scene, and it can take a bit of time to get used to this. With this in mind, we’re putting together a new series of features highlighting the electric models in various manufacturer line-ups.

First up is Audi, with the premium car maker’s ‘e-tron’ range under the spotlight. You won’t get any of the German firm’s regular models with an electric powertrain, instead all its zero-emission models fall under this separate banner.

Here’s everything you need to know about Audi e-tron…

Photos: PA Media

Audi e-tron

The Audi e-tron was the first of these electric models to be introduced. It’s an SUV with blocky styling and a technologically advanced cabin, with its spacious interior making it an ideal family car. Haha

It’s offered in 50 and 55 model designation, which refer to the battery size and performance on offer. The 50 makes 309bhp and has a range of up to 198 miles depending on trim, while the 55 makes 402bhp and will go up to 254 miles.

It’s also available in a Sportback body style, which brings a sleek, coupe-like body style at the expense of some practicality, as well as a sporty S version. This latter model features three electric motors making 496bhp, and can travel up to 223 miles.

Audi Q4 e-tron

If you like the look of the e-tron but its starting price seems a little steep, the Q4 e-tron could be the model for you. It’s also an SUV, but it is cheaper, meaning you get just a little less performance, technology and practicality for a decent saving.

Here you get the choice between 35, 40 and 50 batteries, with the 35 getting 168bhp and a range of up to 208 miles, and the 40 making 201bhp with a range of up to 319 miles. Top of the range 50 cars get 295bhp and a range of up to 300 miles.

Like the larger e-tron, the Q4 is available in sleek Sportback form.

Audi e-tron GT

The flagship of the e-tron range is the GT model, which combines a gorgeous coupe body shape with four-door practicality. It’s easily the most technologically advanced model in the range, but it comes at a price. Both these trim levels will go a shade under 300 miles per charge, while the electric motors provide a healthy 462bhp.

However, if it’s performance you’re after, the e-tron GT is the first electric vehicle to wear an RS badge. RS models make 581bhp and take just three seconds to hit 60mph, but the price of this performance is a slightly lower range of about 285 miles.

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KTM is planning road-going version of the 600bhp X-Bow GT2 race car

KTM has announced plans to create road-going versions of its hugely successful X-Bow GT2 racing car.

The Austrian firm, which is better known for making motorcycles, has also been building the quirky-looking X-Bow sports car since 2008.

Now, it has developed the X-Bow with the motorsport experience it has gained over the years to create one of the most performance-focused versions of the model yet.

Based on the GT2, which was introduced to the racing scene in 2021, it uses the latest generation of the X-Bow as its base. The racing version has seen huge success over the past year, having won races and championships across the globe.

KTM says its road car developers will be working in tandem with the motorsport team to refine the design of the GT2 for road use. It says this includes ‘performance testing, crashing testing and initial road testing in Europe’.

Photos: PA Media

One key focus is said to be its lightweight construction, with a particular emphasis on the use of components with optimised designs as well as carbon-fibre-reinforced polymer body work.

The safety cell that surrounds the driver and protects occupants in the event of a crash will be a carbon monocoque design with a reinforced canopy.

Performance comes from an Audi-sourced five-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which is mounted in the rear and comes with a seven-speed automatic transmission. It makes almost 600bhp, and it’s likely that this full performance capability will be offered in the road version, though there is no official confirmation.

Details are thin on the ground, with KTM only showing off some teaser images of the vehicle wearing camouflage. The firm will reveal the car’s launch date nearer the time

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Aston Martin teases new higher-performance DBX SUV

Aston Martin has shown off a new teaser image of a more powerful version of its DBX SUV.

The British brand has yet to confirm a name but it’s rumoured to be called the ‘DBX S’. It’s a similar naming strategy that’s been adopted on other models in recent years, such as the Vantage and Vanquish.

The teaser image, revealed on social media, doesn’t give too many clues away, but it looks like the racier DBX will sit lower than the standard car, while a new front splitter hints at its sportier intent. At the rear, the diffuser looks far larger than the regular DBX’s, while revised alloy wheels appear to be fitted too.

Aston Martin is keeping tight-lipped about the new model, though has reiterated that the new car will be ‘the most powerful luxury SUV’. That means it’s expected to get a big power hike, to put it ahead of Bentley’s Bentayga Speed, which uses a 6.0-litre W12 engine developing 626bhp.

Photos: PA Media

The DBX’s current Mercedes-derived 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 puts out 542bhp, though Mercedes sells a heavily-tuned version of it with 630bhp, which is likely to be what Aston Martin uses for its new car.

After much delay, Aston Martin finally launched the DBX in 2020 as its first SUV, and it’s now the brand’s best-selling model, accounting for around half of its entire sales in 2021.

Aston Martin is set to reveal the new DBX derivative on February 1.

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Porsche sold more electric Taycans than 911 sports cars last year

Porsche sold more electric Taycan models in 2021 than its iconic 911 sports car as the German firm resisted supply difficulties seen elsewhere in the industry.

The Taycan is the first of the firm’s next-generation electric vehicles and was introduced in 2019. In its first full year on sale about 20,000 units were shifted, but that more than doubled to 41,296 in 2021.

This meant that it sailed past sales of the 911, which were at their highest level ever with 38,464 deliveries.

These positive figures were reflected across the business, as Porsche’s sales increased 11 per cent on 2020, with 301,915 vehicles sold.

While 2020’s sales were hit by the pandemic, all car manufacturers have been struggling with supply issues surrounding semiconductor computer chips, with very few seeing sales increasing last year and many customers facing months of delay on new cars.

Photos: PA Media

Detlev von Platen, board member for sales and marketing at Porsche, said: “Despite the challenges posed by the semiconductor shortage and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic we have been working hard to enable more customers than ever before to fulfil their dream of owning a Porsche.

“Demand remains high and our order books are looking very robust, so we start 2022 full of momentum and confidence in all regions of the world.”

Porsche says its sales increased in every market it operates, with growth particularly high in the US, where sales topped 70,000 units, up 22 per cent. However, China remains the largest market, with an increase of nine per cent taking deliveries over 95,000.

Demand in Europe was strong with an increase of seven per cent to 86,160. However, Porsche says this region is particularly interesting because of the amount of electrified models – 40 per cent of European sales were either electric or plug-in hybrid.

Detlev von Platen added: “The overall result is very promising and shows the strategy to further electrify our fleet is working and is in line with demand and the preferences of our customers. At the same time, unit sales are not the decisive factor for us. Rather, we want to stand for exclusive and unique customer experiences and will continue to expand these worldwide.”

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Here are some of the best Rolls-Royce Bespoke creations from 2021

Rolls-Royce already makes some of the most luxurious and exclusive cars in the world, but its Bespoke division gives its wealthiest customers the chance to have something even more unique.

In 2021 the firm sold more cars than in any other year in its history, and its Bespoke division, which creates limited-edition cars as well as specially commissioned one-offs, was tasked with some ‘truly remarkable’ projects.

The West Sussex-based car maker has now highlighted some of the most special creations from the past 12 months.

Rolls-Royce Wraith Kryptos

The Kryptos is one of the more interesting automotive projects to come out of 2021. A year earlier, Rolls-Royce revealed that it would be building a collection of cars with a code that must be cracked.

There are hidden cyphers embedded into the design of the car. To the average onlooker they are simply aesthetic touches, but they contain a code that must be cracked.

Rolls-Royce says that despite the best efforts of code crackers worldwide, only some of the codes have been resolved, with the final resolution yet to be discovered.

Rolls-Royce Coachbuilding: Boat Tail

Rolls-Royce is bringing back coachbuilding, meaning it can create unique models beyond the existing line-up. To showcase this it built three Boat Tail models, which had an elongated rear with openings that contained items such as glasses and plates that made it ideal for picnics in the great outdoors.

Rolls-Royce Phantom Oribe

A Japanese entrepreneur commissioned this extravagantly designed Phantom, which was a collaboration between Rolls-Royce and luxury designer House of Hermes.

It has a bespoke two-tone exterior paint job inspired by the owner’s collection of ancient Japanese ceramics, and this paint was made available to be used on the client’s private jet.

Rolls-Royce Phantom Koa

Demonstrating the lengths that the firm will go to create unique cars, this model was commissioned by car collector Jack Boyd Smith Jr and his wife Laura. It features wood from the Koa tree, which is only found in Hawaii and is protected in State and National parks.

It can only be harvested from private agricultural land and finding an example of good enough quality to use is tricky – Rolls’ wood specialist said the find was a ‘one in a million chance’.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black and Bright

These examples of Rolls’ SUV are inspired by ‘the ambience of Moscow at night’ and can only be found at dealerships within the Russian capital.

There are five Black Badge Cullinans, each in a bold exterior colour, while the carbon-fibre inserts are given a matching colour design.

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The Toyota GR GT3 Concept firms up plan for motorsport-bred mainstream models

Toyota has revealed a bespoke GT3 race car concept that demonstrates it’s serious about making ‘ever-better cars, bred from motorsport’.

Despite selling more cars each year than any other manufacturer thanks to an appealing range of efficient mainstream models, Toyota is doubling down on its commitment to making performance cars, too.

The Japanese firm is putting a big focus on its motorsport programme, with this GR GT3 Concept demonstrating its ‘driver-first’ vehicle development for customer motorsport. The move is undoubtedly being pushed by Toyota president Akio Toyoda, who races competitively himself.

Typically, companies adapt road cars for motorsport, but Toyota plans to build motorsport-focused cars that can later be homologated for road use – this approach is more commonly associated with niche and exotic car makers.

Photos: PA Media

Technological advancements made while building these vehicles can then influence more mainstream models and make them better to drive, safer or more efficient.

Toyota’s factory motorsport division is called Gazoo Racing, and in recent years the firm’s road-going performance models have worn GR badges. The Yaris GRMN, a road-going homologation of a rally car that ultimately never saw competition, has won many awards from the motoring press.

Building on its reputation, a new limited-edition version is going on sale in Japan. Just 500 examples will be made, sporting a 20kg weight reduction, a 10mm increase in width to improve aerodynamic performance, and a 10mm drop in ride height to lower the centre of gravity.

Customers will be selected through a reservation lottery.

Finally, Toyota’s first bespoke electric vehicle has been given a GR makeover. The bZ4X GR Sport Concept gets larger-diameter tyres, sports seats and matte black exterior body panels.

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Lexus reveals NX Offroad and ROV concepts at Tokyo Auto show

Lexus has showcased a pair of off-road-ready concepts at the Tokyo Auto Show.

The first, called the NX PHEV Offroad, is a concept based on the NX 450h+, meaning that it uses a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine combined with an electric motor and battery. However, it has also been given lifted suspension and all-terrain tyres to help it tackle more difficult terrains. On top of this, a bronze and matt black paint finish ensures it stands out against the regular NX.

The ROV (recreational off-road vehicle), meanwhile, is akin to a usual go-anywhere buggy but uses a hydrogen-powered engine for super clean running. Compressed hydrogen is stored in a tank and introduced to the engine via direct injection. By using this process, you get the ultra-clean performance that hydrogen power brings but with the true sound and feel of a combustion engine.

In fact, Lexus says that thanks to a minimal amount of oil consumption, the ROV produces ‘virtually no CO2 emissions’ when being used.

Photos: PA Media

The ROV concept uses a pipe frame and a protection cage to protect those inside. The front wings deflect stones and rocks, while inside there’s a simple layout to ensure that the driver can focus on the task at hand.

The seats are finished in synthetic leather, though real leather is used on the steering wheel and gear shifter. A sequential transmission has been fitted, ensuring quick gear changes via the wheel-mounted paddles. There’s also the option of selecting either two- or all-wheel-drive. A locking differential has been included too.

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These are some of the safest cars on sale today

Recent Euro NCAP tests have showcased the best cars in terms of outright safety.

Outright safety is a key consideration for many people when buying a new car. Ensuring that your car provides plenty of protection in the event of an incident is crucial while making sure that a vehicle boasts pedestrian-friendly safety measures is good to know too.

Thanks to recent safety tests from Euro NCAP, we’ve got a good idea about some of the safest cars on sale today – so let’s check them out.

Photos: PA Media

BMW iX

BMW’s new flagship electric car – the iX – scored a full five stars in recent Euro NCAP safety tests. It scored particularly well for adult occupant protection – returning a 91 per cent score for this – while its child occupant safety score of 87 per cent was also good.

It was also praised for its numerous safety assist systems, including an active bonnet that can cushion the blow for a pedestrian in the instance of a collision and its comprehensive automatic emergency braking system.

Mercedes-Benz EQS

It wasn’t just BMW’s flagship EV that did well in recent safety tests. Mercedes-Benz’s range-topping EQS also scored a full five stars under examination recently. The luxury saloon returned an adult occupant safety rating of 96 per cent, while child occupant safety was also excellent with a score of 91 per cent.

A full suite of assistance systems helped it to gain an 80 per cent score for safety assist, while its protection against vulnerable road users was rated at 76 per cent.

Skoda Fabia

It wasn’t just high-end electric cars that scored well recently. Skoda has a good reputation for safety and its latest Fabia only extended this further with its five-star rating. Marks of 85 per cent and 81 per cent were recorded for adult occupant and child occupant protection respectively, showing that this compact car could easily compete with the bigger cars here.

It also scored an impressive 70 per cent for vulnerable road user protection. It missed out on the safety assist top marks as it lacks active bonnet technology or emergency braking when in reverse.

Genesis G70

Genesis might be a relative newcomer, but it is already making great strides through its steady stream of new models which – according to recent tests – are very safe too. The new G70 scored a full five stars, too – impressive given that it’s not based on a brand-new platform.

Euro NCAP awarded it 89 per cent for adult occupant protection as well as 87 per cent for child occupant protection. It did particularly well in terms of safety assistance technology, too, receiving a score of 88 per cent.

Volkswagen Caddy

The award of five stars to Volkswagen’s Caddy shows that it’s not just conventionally shaped cars that can do well in terms of safety. The MPV Caddy might have spaciousness and practicality on its side, but recent tests show it to be a very safe option, too.

In fact, it scored 84 per cent for adult occupant protection and 82 per cent for child occupant protection. Tests also revealed that the Caddy offered good protection to children sitting in a variety of different car seats across all three rows of seats.

Ford Mustang Mach-e

Ford’s Mustang Mach-e was yet another large EV to return a full five stars in recent tests. It received a 92 per cent score for adult occupant protection alongside 86 per cent for child occupant safety.

Tests revealed that the passenger compartment of the Mach-e ‘remained stable’ when the car was subjected to a front offset impact test, with dummies showcasing the car’s good protection of occupants’ knees.

Toyota Yaris Cross

Toyota’s quirky Yaris Cross did impressively well in recent tests. It’s particularly note-worthy because of the car’s compact size and relatively diminutive footprint on the road. But this didn’t stop it from scoring 86 per cent for adult occupant safety and 84 per cent for child occupant safety.

It also scored full points for rescue and extrication thanks to its multi-collision brake system and eCall technology which can automatically inform the emergency services if the vehicle is involved in an incident.

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