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Back to the future

With its clean retro-futuristic styling and advanced technology, the Honda e demonstrates both the company’s capability to produce top products but also gives us a taste of things to come. With a credible 220km range and beautifully balanced RWD performance, it offers an awesome, unique experience. Tonio Darmanin drives the Honda e.

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Enter: the 2021 Yamaha TMAX 20th Anniversary

The powered two-wheel world changed forever when Yamaha launched the original TMAX back in 2001. By being the very first machine to offer motorcycle performance with scooter comfort and convenience, this dynamic Sport Scooter has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of TMAXers all over Europe.

As the best-selling Sport Scooter in Europe every single year since its launch, the TMAX has been on an incredible journey, and along the way has established a truly iconic status among its legions of fans. Two decades after the introduction of the very first TMAX, Yamaha has created a special edition model that marks the outstanding achievements of one of the most loved and revered designs in the company’s history.

Featuring a range of exclusive equipment and offered in a unique new colour, the TMAX 20th Anniversary celebrates the continuing success of the world’s most successful Sport Scooter, and gives TMAX lovers the opportunity to own the ultimate edition of this truly remarkable Yamaha.

Before TMAX, anyone looking for a fast, comfortable and enjoyable way to get to work had the choice of a smaller capacity scooter or a geared motorcycle. Both of these options were fine for many customers, but neither was the ideal solution for a discerning group of commuters and leisure riders who specifically wanted a machine that offered the simplicity of a “twist and go” automatic scooter together with the thrilling acceleration and high speed stability of a sports motorcycle.

Recognising the gap in the market, Yamaha’s designers embarked upon the project to build the world’s fastest scooter in the late 1990s. Nothing was ruled in or out, and in true Yamaha style the company ignored conventional thinking and created a totally new kind of hybrid two-wheeler that successfully combined the advanced engine and suspension technology from a motorcycle with user-friendly scooter features. Equipped with a step-through chassis and wind-beating bodywork – as well as automatic transmission, luxurious seating and a large underseat storage space – the radical TMAX was a huge gamble for Yamaha, but it was a gamble that was to forever change the face of long distance commuting.

Photos: Yamaha

The rest is history, and in 2001 this innovative and exciting high performance maxi scooter was launched into a vibrant European market that had never seen anything like it before. Its unique blend of motorcycle performance combined with scooter comfort and convenience made long and medium distance commuting quicker, easier and more fun than ever before.

In fact the original TMAX was so far ahead of its time that there wasn’t even a category for it, and so Yamaha created the Sport Scooter class which has since grown to become the most important segment in the scooter business.

TMAX has maintained its immense popularity and has been the best-selling Sport Scooter every year since its introduction 20 years ago. With almost 300,000 units sold to date in Europe, TMAX is by far and away the most successful Sport Scooter ever produced, and is one of the most important models in Yamaha’s line-up.

As a tribute to the outstanding success of the TMAX over the past two decades, Yamaha is introducing the new TMAX 20th Anniversary. Only 560 individually-numbered units will be manufactured, making it one of Yamaha’s most exclusive special editions that is sure to be appreciated by TMAX customers all over Europe.

The key feature on this new model is the forged carbon bodywork that gives every scooter its own “fingerprint”. Unlike traditional carbon fibre which has a uniform weave pattern, each of the forged carbon fibre components used on the TMAX 20th Anniversary has its own individual surface finish that makes every one of the 560 units unique.

The distinctive boomerang body panels as well as the front fender and muffler heat shield are all manufactured from this strong and lightweight carbon material, giving the TMAX 20th Anniversary an even more dynamic look and premium feel – and yellow highlights on the boomerangs and fender are a reminder of the original model’s bright yellow colour scheme.

Manufactured from premium grade materials, the exclusive heated seat features yellow stitching to match the accents on the boomerangs and front fender, and a 20th Anniversary logo confirms the scooter’s exclusive status. Heated grips are also standard, and these feature special end grips that enhance this iconic Sport Scooter’s specification.

Each TMAX 20th Anniversary will be fitted with a numbered badge that confirms its exclusivity as one of just 560 units that have been manufactured as a tribute to the industry’s most successful and iconic Sport Scooter. Together with the unique “fingerprint” of the forged carbon bodywork, the production number gives every individual model its own special identity.

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Mini’s Pacesetter arrives as new Formula E safety car

Mini has pushed its regular Electric hatchback to the extreme to create the Pacesetter – Formula E’s latest safety car.

Powered by the same battery and motor setup as you’ll find in the road-going Mini Electric, the Pacesetter kicks out 181bhp. However, extensive weight-saving measures have shaved the car’s acceleration times down by over half a second, meaning that it’ll now go from 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds.

The most striking changes have been made across the car’s exterior, though. It features extended wheel arches, a deep front splitter and a huge rear wing. Since the electric motor requires far less cooling than a conventional engine, the front end is largely smoothed off to make it as aerodynamically efficient as possible – though the area below the grille and squared-off apertures either side push air through and on to the brakes, cooling them down.

Photos: PA Media


The 18-inch alloy wheels have been finished in orange to match the car’s overall livery, while three-way adjustable racing coilover suspension combines with grippy Michelin Pilot Sport tyres – the same as those fitted to the front wheels of Formula E racing cars – to provide plenty of traction.

Much of the standard car’s weight has been stripped for the Pacesetter, with elements such as the infotainment system and the rear seats ditched in the quest for lightness. In total, the Pacesetter weighs 130kg less than the road-going Mini Electric.

The Pacesetter will make its Formula E debut at the Rome E-Prix which commences on April 10.

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A Ceed with roots

Now in its third generation, the new Kia Ceed – designed, developed, engineered and built in Europe – strengthens Kia’s presence in the European C-segment with a mature and athletic new design, innovative new technologies, and a more engaging drive. Here, Tonio Darmanin drives Kia’s bestseller.

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British music producer remixes Lotus engine note

Lotus is working with a renowned British music producer, inspired by the engine note of the iconic Type 49, to develop a range of sounds for the all-electric Evija hypercar.

Patrick Patrikios has written and produced for Olly Murs, Sia, Britney Spears, Pixie Lott and numerous other world-famous stars. He was Brit Award-nominated in 2018 for his collaboration with Little Mix, and the tracks he’s worked on have been streamed more than a billion times.

“We wanted to create a soundscape for the Evija that was recognisably and distinctively Lotus,” he said. “I sat with the development team at Hethel and discussed what that should be. We wanted something intrinsically connected to Lotus so we could set an audio blueprint for its future electric cars.”

Patrikios loved the idea of using a famous Lotus as a starting point, and what better example than the Type 49 – one of the most iconic race cars of all time. He explained: “There’s a purity to that V8, a raw edge and an emotion that stirs something in your soul, just like the best songs.”

The process began with the recording of a Type 49, which Patrick fed into his computer. In digitally manipulating the sound he and the Lotus team realised that slowing the engine note down created a similar frequency to the natural driving sound produced by the Evija’s advanced all-electric drivetrain.

“I adjusted the replay speeds and digital filtering of the Type 49 to generate a soundscape for the Evija – it was a very organic process,” said Patrick. “We all wanted something to spark an emotional connection between car and driver. Sound is hugely influential when it comes to creating and forming emotions, to enrich that bond that’s such a critical part of the Lotus experience.”

Patrikios concluded: “I love that the sound from one of the most iconic Lotus race cars of all time has been the inspiration for its newest. There’s a symmetry to it which is beautiful.”

Welshman Patrikios has been a Lotus fan since childhood thanks to his car-loving father. An Evora driver, he splits his time between Los Angeles and the UK. His body of work includes Hollywood movie soundtracks as well as songs from internationally renowned recording artists.

His primary task was to craft the Evija’s external noise as it begins to deliver its immense ‘0-186mph (300km/h) in under nine seconds’ acceleration. However, using the Evija soundscape he created, he has also developed chimes and tones for everything from the activation of the indicators to the seatbelt warning.

Few race cars from any motorsport brand are as celebrated as the Lotus Type 49. It won on its first Formula 1 outing, the 1967 Dutch Grand Prix, with legendary driver Jim Clark at the wheel, and a Type 49 was on pole position at every race for the rest of the season. The following year Graham Hill won the F1 Drivers’ Championship in a Type 49.

Only 12 examples were ever made, and the car will be forever associated with two world debuts. The Type 49 was the first to use the all-new Lotus-developed Cosworth-Ford DFV engine that would dominate the Formula 1 grid for more than a decade, and it also marked the first appearance of the iconic red, white and gold colours of Lotus sponsor Gold Leaf, one of the most recognisable motorsport liveries of all time.

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Test-drive: Car of the Year

The all-new Toyota Yaris has been named as The Car of the Year 2021. Selected by a jury of 59 automotive journalists from across Europe, the fourth generation Yaris receives the award 21 years after the innovative first generation was named The Car of the Year in 2000, a first for Toyota. The Yaris has also consistently been recognised by The Car of the Year jury with every generation of the model making the award’s shortlist.

Here, Tonio Darmanin test-drives the winner.

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Sebastian Vettel’s new journey

It’s a new adventure and a new beginning for Sebastian Vettel, the two-time Formula 1 world champion who after years with Ferrari, will this season be driving Aston Martin Cognizant’s new AMR21 challenger. In this stunning video by Aston Martin, the German driver sits behind the wheel of a DBX and outlines his life philosophy.

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Five surprising facts about the new Lamborghini Huracán STO

The latest Lamborghini to be announced, with deliveries starting later in 2021, is the Huracán STO (Super Trofeo Omologata), a road-homologated super sports car inspired by Lamborghini race cars: the Huracán EVO Super Trofeo developed by Lamborghini Squadra Corsa for Lamborghini’s own race series, as well as the Huracán EVO GT3, three-time winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona and two-time winner of the 12 Hours of Sebring.

With its 640 HP (470 kW) naturally-aspirated V10 engine generating 565 Nm at 6,500 rpm, the rear-wheel drive Huracán STO delivers exhilarating acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.0 seconds, from 0 to 200 km/h in 9.0 seconds, and a top speed of 310 km/h. Its heart beats with the emotion of a racing car. Superior aerodynamic efficiency, extensive use of lightweight materials, unfettered steering and first-class braking performance enable the Huracán STO to bring the emotion of a track experience to the road.

Underlying the innovative technical solutions that make this extraordinary performance possible are five facts not widely known.

1. COFANGO, a “Made in Lamborghini” design solution

The term Cofango derives from the fusion of two Italian words: cofano (hood) and parafango (fender), coined by Automobili Lamborghini to describe the design solution in which the hood, fenders and front bumper are integrated into a single component. This innovative system created by Lamborghini engineers is inspired by the Lamborghini Miura and the more recent Sesto Elemento, and on the STO is made entirely of very light carbon fibre. The key for opening the fastenings on the STO’s Cofango is unique: it was developed in-house by the R&D team and made using an innovative 3D printing technique.

2. Dynamic pit stop in just three seconds

There is not much that can be changed in three seconds, but the set-up of the Huracán STO is one. Three new driving modes – STO (normal driving), Trofeo (race mode) and Pioggia (raining or wet) – adapt the set-up of the car to match high-performance driving environments. The Huracán STO allows the driver to experience a dynamic pit stop, as if a team of mechanics were right there!

The Huracán STO’s key. Photo: Lamborghini

3. Three times around the world in simulator tests

Lamborghini’s R&D team drove a distance equivalent to three times around the world in simulator tests before starting the Huracán STO’s road tests. State-of-the-art simulator technology allowed Lamborghini engineers to save time on quality control, lead times, and emissions by verifying that every part of the car fully complied with standards during different stages of the STO’s development, certifying and testing.

4. 2,750 components to make an STO

“Do you want to build a Huracán STO 1:1?”. It will take a lot of patience, because there are over 2,750 components needed to build the latest car from Sant’Agata.

5. Connected telemetry thanks to 25,000 lines of code

The Huracán STO introduces an advanced connected telemetry system where the link between car – on-board cameras Connected Cloud Lamborghini and the App Lamborghini UNICA allows, thanks to an intuitive data analysis system and videos enriched with dedicated widgets, to transform the exclusive App dedicated to Lamborghini customers into a real track engineer. The development of this technology on the Lamborghini UNICA App required more than 25,000 lines of code.

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Smartly efficient

MG says that its new ZS EV is the first truly-affordable, new, electric family SUV that makes no concessions in terms of style, comfort or room. TONIO DARMANIN puts these claims to the test.

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