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Bentley Flying Spur: dream machine

The Flying Spur W12 has been recognised in MotorWeek’s 2021 Drivers’ Choice Awards as the Best Dream Machine. Since 1981, MotorWeek judges the best in the automotive industry, looking at the buyer’s point of view and considering industry trends while looking towards the most innovative cars in the industry.

Now, with more than 40,000 examples sold since its launch in 2005, the Flying Spur continues to set the bar as the most successful luxury sports sedan in the world. Sporting details including industry-first three-dimensional leather, cutting edge Bentley Rotating Display, and a retractable, illuminated “Flying B”, each detail continues to be carefully created.
 
The bold exterior design of the Flying Spur is based on a new and modern vision that is unmistakably Bentley, using the latest technologies in aluminium extrusions and castings.

Longtime creator, host and senior executive producer of MotorWeek, John Davis, said: “The Bentley Flying Spur is a car that fully lives up to our lofty automotive dreams when it comes to luxury, and then far exceeds them when it comes to performance. It effortlessly races to 60 miles per hour in well under 4.0-seconds, which is truly not enough time to enjoy the meticulously hand-crafted embrace that is the Flying Spur’s cabin.”

Photos: Bentley

Seamlessly integrating the very best in British craftsmanship with cutting-edge, innovative technology, the third-generation Flying Spur has become the new Bentley flagship.
 
The bold exterior design of the Flying Spur is based on a new and modern vision that is unmistakably Bentley. The latest generation Flying Spur has increased road presence from stronger, more muscular styling, which is evident the full length of the car. 
 
The interior of the Flying Spur showcases Bentley’s expertise in creating a modern cabin of unrivalled luxury and innovation. Stylish and unique, featuring supremely comfortable seats with Bentley’s ‘Wing’ theme across the lower console and fascia.

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First images of Maserati SUV

Prototype of new Maserati Grecale SUV photographed

A prototype of the new Maserati Grecale SUV has been photographed outside the historic Maserati plant on Viale Ciro Menotti in Modena. The employees were the first to diffuse these images on the social networks.

Innovative by nature, Maserati decided to share the photos of the new model exclusively with the Maserati Family.

The prototype cars are currently undergoing a period of intensive road, circuit and off-road tests, in various conditions of use, to acquire vital data for the preparation of the new SUV’s final setup.

The Grecale will be built at Cassino (Italy), where an investment of about €800 million is planned.

The Maserati Grecale will receive its world premiere before the end of 2021.

Photos: Maserati

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Audi e-tron GT revealed as brand’s flagship electric car

Audi has unveiled its new e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT as the brand’s new pair of flagship EVs.

Joining the e-tron and e-tron Sportback SUVs in Audi’s electric range, the pair of new four-door GT models sit on the same platform as the Porsche Taycan and are said to be “pioneers that are shaping the future of the brand”.

Following on from the 2018 e-tron GT concept car and heavily-previewed prototype, the production car retains the concept’s sleek shape, wide stance and huge front grille – though the latter is primarily used here to hide the safety sensors, rather than be used for cooling. It’s also the first Audi to be available with a body-coloured grill. At the rear, the GT gets a full-length LED light bar, while a host of carbon-fibre extras are available.

When it comes to the cabin, Audi moves away from its twin touchscreen system to focus on one large touchscreen system instead and brings back traditional climate buttons too. It’s angled towards the driver, while a large digital cockpit is also included. The interior has an ‘eco’ element to it, with the GT available with a ‘leather-free’ package, along with recycled materials being used throughout the interior.

Photos: PA Media

The regular e-tron GT’s electric motor motors produce up to 523bhp and 630Nm of torque when Launch Control is activated and enables a 0-60mph time of 3.9 seconds. As for the flagship ‘RS’ model – which is the first electric car to bear the legendary name – this delivers up to 637bhp and 830Nm when launch control is activated, allowing for a 0-60mph time of just 3.1 seconds. Both versions come with quattro all-wheel-drive and have an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.

All GT’s feature an 86kWh battery (93kWh gross), which is placed between the axles to give a lower centre of gravity, with Audi also saying its weight distribution is ‘very close’ to the perfect 50:50 combination. As for range, no official figures based on the more realistic WLTP testing cycle have been given, though Audi claims on the old NEDC test, the e-tron GT can travel 303 miles on a single charge, and 293 miles for the RS model. Expect the actual figures to be reduced slightly.

Both versions also come with the ability to charge at up to 270kW, something Audi says allows a charge from five to 80 per cent of the battery’s capacity to take ‘less than’ 23 minutes.

Elsewhere, RS models come with adaptive suspension and a rear-axle differential lock that improves traction and stability.

Audi has also engineered a ‘sport sound’ to the GT, which generates a specific digital sound, which Audi says acts as an “acoustic expression of the progressive gran turismo character”.

The e-tron GT is Audi’s first EV to be produced in Germany and will roll out of the same factory as the brand’s flagship R8 supercar in Neckarsulm. The firm has also said the model has a carbon-neutral footprint.

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The new Jaguar F-Pace is up there with the best-in-class

What is it?

In the world of the premium car manufacturer, SUVs are king. Jaguar was better-placed than most to take advantage of this thanks to its sister company Land Rover being the king of SUVs, so it was no surprise when its first off-roader – the F-Pace – was brilliant straight out of the box.

It helped that it’s arguably the best-looking SUV out there and is great to drive, but with countless rivals popping up all the time making competition fierce, 2021 marks the dawn of an updated model that Jaguar will be hoping keeps the F-Pace fighting at the top of the pack.

What’s new?

Exterior changes might be fairly subtle to the untrained eye, but on the inside the old has been ripped out and replaced with something completely new. There’s a new look, new infotainment system and active road noise cancellation for a more serene driving experience.

The F-Pace also gets new engines, with mild hybrid (MHEV) options for the first time and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that will be particularly appealing to company car buyers.


What’s under the bonnet?

There are three diesel and three petrol engines available, all with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel-drive. All of the diesel models are mild-hybrids (MHEV) – two with 2.0-litre four-cylinder units and one six-cylinder, while there’s a standard 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder, an MHEV with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol, and a plug-in hybrid that uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol and electric motor.

We tested the P400, which is the 3.0-litre MHEV petrol. With 394bhp and 550Nm the engine is decidedly punchy as the 5.1-second 0-60mph time suggests. However, in such a large car it does feel like it’s working hard for little reward – a torquey diesel engine or the PHEV would likely be the better choice.

What’s it like to drive?

The F-Pace has long been heralded as one of the best driving SUVs in its segment, thanks to the fact that it handles well with plenty of grip. However, the previous generation did have a tendency to roll around in corners like a ship in a storm, something that has been tuned out for the latest model.

The result is an SUV that’s impressively free from roll in corners, feeling more like a high-riding car than a 4×4. That’s not at the sacrifice of ride quality either, as it’s perfectly comfortable in everyday driving, while the active road noise cancellation does wonders to create a relaxing atmosphere in the cabin.


How does it look?

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and the F-Pace’s styling certainly wasn’t broke. One of the best-looking SUVs has been mildly refined rather than given an all-new look, and the result is a sharper, classier appearance.

Changes include a new bonnet design, slim LED headlights with a double-L light signature, a new grille and new rear lights. Although there’s no denying the details are fantastic, the F-Pace does struggle to hide its considerable heft at the rear – this is a big SUV after all – but overall it’s a fantastic package.

What’s it like inside?

The cabin is where the most noticeable changes have occurred, and it’s amazing what a difference it makes having a high-quality interior around you. From the moment you climb behind the wheel, the interior ambience is clearly impressively elevated, with a slick, minimalist design and a high-quality tablet-like infotainment screen.

Our test car had red leather upholstery that looked fantastic, particularly with the sports seats, while the new Pivi Pro infotainment system has a fantastic, clean design and is very responsive.

Verdict

It would be fair to say that the premium market is dominated by the big German brands of Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, with Jaguar fighting valiantly to build compelling rivals. The F-Pace has long been the model that punches above its weight, and with the minor improvements to the driving experience and massive improvements to the cabin the gap has been well and truly closed.

There’s substance beneath the style, so if you’re looking for a spacious, premium family car, the Jaguar F-Pace should be one of the first on your shopping list.

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A highly bespoke Rolls-Royce arrives in Abu Dhabi

As creators of the most celebrated objects in the world, Rolls-Royce is the epitome of Bespoke. Each motoring masterpiece is a canvas for creativity, bringing unparalleled Bespoke capability to life.

Recently Abu Dhabi Motors welcomed Rolls-Royce Phantom ‘Iridescent Opulence’, a fine example and testament to this statement. Featuring a Bespoke Gallery, which debuted as a concept in 2017 designed by Swiss-based Nature Squared, ‘Iridescent Opulence’ is a meaningful and substantive expression of art, design and engineering excellence.

An understanding that the marque’s patrons are increasingly collectors of fine and contemporary art led the Rolls-Royce Design Team to create a space in which to curate and to commission, to exhibit, admire and reflect. A space aptly named ‘The Gallery’, is an application of glass that runs uninterrupted across the fascia of Rolls-Royce Phantom, providing an unprecedented opportunity to present artwork within your car. Assembled in a highly technical clean room at the home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, England – a sterile environment within which delicate and highly Bespoke items can be assembled, from a simple application of wood or metal, to a more complex use of materials not normally viable in an automotive context –  ‘The Gallery’ extends the patron’s experience of curation with the marque to a new realm.



Designed by Swiss-based Nature Squared, an established materials specialist which creates astoundingly beautiful finishes using the latest technology to transform sustainable natural materials, their work can be found in the upper echelons of many industries where a desire to be surrounded by objects of outstanding natural beauty prevails. Echoing the views of Rolls-Royce, Nature Squared embraces artisanal skills which are the antithesis of mass production and for their Phantom Gallery commission, was inspired to work with items that have until now been impossible to incorporate into a motor car.

Feathers, which exude luxury, are a bold and progressive aesthetic to incorporate into an automotive context. Extensive research was carried out to identify a sustainable species of bird with a rich dense plumage which would provide an opulent interior to adorn Phantom’s Gallery. Over 3,000 tail feathers were selected for their iridescence, individually shaped to accentuate the sheen and rich hue of the natural feathers and hand-sewn onto an open pore fabric in a design that originates from the heart of ‘The Gallery’, the clock. Additive manufacturing as used to emulate the musculature of a natural wing to bring life to the creation, creating an atmospheric artwork that brings both movement and fragility to this Gallery. Additionally, the clock alone is a work to be revered. The centrepiece is inlaid with a Mother of Pearl surround, which emphasises the lustrous texture of the feathers.

Making the opportunity to exhibit works of art and design within a motor car itself a reality, patrons can immersive themselves in ‘Iridescent Opulence’ at Abu Dhabi Motors, a masterpiece through which the marque once again showcases its unique storytelling characteristics.

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The Toyota Hilux now available with rugged Arctic Trucks AT35 version

The new Toyota Hilux has been given a makeover by extreme engineering specialists Arctic Trucks.

The result is an all-new, Toyota-approved upgrade package called AT35, which sees the pickup truck getting extensive equipment to make it more capable off-road.

Key changes include re-engineering the vehicle’s frame, the fitment of 17-inch alloy wheels with 35-inch BFGoodrich KO2 All-Terrain tyres, and re-gearing of the front and rear differentials.

The AT35 also gets Bilstein performance suspension, with front springs and dampers, anti-roll bar adjustment and rear dampers with extended shackles.

Photos: PA Media

Its ground clearance has been increased by 65mm, which not only makes it traverse tough terrain more easily, but also increases the approach and departure angles by nine and three degrees respectively.

The driving position has also been raised, the front and rear tracks have been widened, and the chunkier tyres provide a ‘lighter’ footprint to improve driveability over soft terrain.

The AT35 uses the Hilux’s new 201bhp 2.8-litre diesel engine and a six-speed automatic transmission.

A range of Arctic Trucks upgrades are also available, with full underbody armour, Vision X grille-mounted light bar and Truxedo low-profile load cover. The tyres can be upgraded to BFGoodrich KM3 Mud-Terrain tyres, while an on-board inflation/deflation kit can be installed, powered from the 12V compressor mounted in the engine bay.

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Lotus confirms new sports car while Elise, Exige and Evora enter final year of production

Lotus will discontinue its Elise, Exige and Evora vehicles this year, giving way to a new sports car series.

Prototype production of the new vehicle – which will carry the ‘Type 131’ development name – is set to kick start this year at the firm’s manufacturing facility in Hethel, Norfolk.

The new manufacturing investment forms part of the firm’s Vision80 strategy, which will also see two Lotus sub-assembly facilities merged into one central operation in Hethel.

In addition to the £100-million-plus facility investment, Lotus will also be recruiting 250 new employees.

The Lotus Exige will be discontinued. Video: YouTube

This year will be hugely significant for Lotus with new facilities coming on stream, a new sports car entering production and new levels of efficiency and quality that only a new car design and factory can deliver

The announcement brings the discontinuation of the famous Elise, which has been a core part of the Lotus line-up since 1995. At the time, it broke the mould for lightweight, low-volume sports cars, bringing a bonded aluminium and composite layout which were revolutionary for the period.

The Exige was then launched in 2000, bringing a hardened, more driver-focused experience which was orientated towards the circuit. The Evora – introduced in 2008 – arrived as a slightly more comfortable option but one which retained Lotus’ famous driver involvement. The trio brings combined sales of around 55,000 vehicles.

Phil Popham, CEO, Lotus Cars, said: “This year will be hugely significant for Lotus with new facilities coming on stream, a new sports car entering production and new levels of efficiency and quality that only a new car design and factory can deliver. Despite the continuing global challenges, Lotus has emerged from 2020 strong and on track in the delivery of our Vision80 business plan.”

He added: “As our Vision80 strategy illustrates, Lotus is all about looking forward, and our future is full of continuous innovation. In 2021, however, we will be reflecting on the legacy of our current range, starting with the Elise, a sports car that genuinely revolutionised the automotive industry, not only because it is a legend-in-its-own-lifetime but also for its impact on car design and technology.”

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ABT gives Cupra’s Formentor a performance and visual boost

Bavaria-based tuner ABT has turned its attention to Cupra’s Formentor, adding more power and a range of exterior tweaks to the firm’s latest performance SUV.

ABT is well-known for its work with Audi models, having developed higher-power versions of the firm’s S3 and RSQ8.

The Cupra’s Formentor. Photos: PA Motoring

Chief among the changes comes as a result of the fitment of ABT’s engine control system, which helps to boost both outright power and torque. Power rises by 59bhp over the regular Formentor to 365bhp, while torque goes up by 50Nm to 400Nm.

Those power gains for the car’s 2.0-litre turbocharged engine result in a 0-60mph time of 4.3 seconds over the regular car’s 4.6 seconds. In order to give the Formentor even more performance credentials, ABT offers an optional four-pipe exhaust system with matt black stainless steel endpipes.

Revised suspension springs are also available for the active suspension which drop the Formentor by 35mm over the regular car. ABT also offer a range of alloy wheels designs for the Formentor, including the 20-inch ABT Sport GR wheel with its diamond-machined surface or the smaller 19-inch ABT DR.

The Formentor arrived as Cupra’s first standalone model since breaking away from Seat. As well as a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol, the Formentor is available with lower-powered powertrains as well as a new plug-in hybrid setup.

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BMW unveils the hardcore M5 CS

The new M5 CS has arrived, taking the title as the fastest and most powerful BMW M production car ever. The latest car to wear the Clubsport nameplate – which is also used on the smaller M2 – the M5 CS boasts a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine with 626bhp – 9bhp more than the M5 Competition.

It means that the performance saloon will go from 0-60mph in under three seconds and hit 124mph from a dead stop in just 10.4 seconds. Flat out, the CS will achieve an electronically limited top speed of 189mph.

A redesigned oil pan and indirect charge air cooling add to the list of mechanical upgrades, while revised spring ratings for the engine mounts help to ensure that the delivery of power to the wheels is as smooth as possible.

It’s the fastest BMW M production car ever

New shock absorbers originally developed for the M8 Gran Coupe Competition drop the M5 CS’ ride height by 7mm over the M5 Competition, while new 20-inch wheels shod in sticky Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres should help to give the CS impressive grip levels.

New carbon-ceramic brakes are fitted as standard too, bringing lower weight over traditional steel units. The weight-saving measures are taken further thanks to the extensive use of carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) parts. The front splitter and exterior mirror caps, for instance, are crafted from this lightweight material, as is the rear spoiler and rear diffuser. They combine to offer a ‘near 70kg’ weight saving over the M5 Competition.

When it comes to the exterior, bronze accents help the CS to stand out, while the Laserlight headlights come with a unique yellow tone which is displayed when low or high beam is activated. Three individual paint finishes – grey metallic, a matt deep green metallic and a matt grey shade – are available too.

Inside, the CS boasts carbon front seats with integrated head restraints and illuminated M5 logos. An Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel takes pride of place in the cabin too, while behind it sit carbon fibre gearshift paddles.

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