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Scuderia AlphaTauri launches 2021 challenger

On Thursday, February 18, Scuderia AlphaTauri unveiled its 2021 car – the AT02 – in an all-new matte blue and white livery, alongside its drivers Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda.

The launch – held at AlphaTauri’s new showroom in Salzburg, Austria, and presented digitally – saw Red Bull’s premium fashion brand model its Autumn/Winter 2021 collection together with the team’s new-look for the upcoming 2021 Formula 1 season.

Photos: Red Bull Content Pool

After a successful first season racing in the AlphaTauri colours, the Italian outfit is looking to challenge the top of the ultra-competitive midfield in 2021, putting its faith in the new pairing. Since debuting with the team in 2017, Gasly has earned two F1 podiums – including a spectacular maiden win at Monza in 2020 – meaning his experience with the team will allow him to step-up to a team leader role. Joining the Frenchman will be 20-year-old Tsunoda, the first Japanese driver to race in F1 since 2014. 

“The decision to go for Pierre and Yuki in 2021 was taken because Scuderia AlphaTauri’s philosophy is still to give talented young drivers from the Red Bull Junior Program the opportunity to step up to F1 and to educate them – this is why Yuki now gets his chance,” explained team principal, Franz Tost.

“With Pierre on Yuki’s side we have an experienced driver, who can help our Japanese rookie to develop faster, but at the same time we can aim for good results. I think this pair is the best possible scenario to achieve both our targets, and I’m also confident this will be a successful one.”

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McLaren unveil F1 challenger

Watch: Team ready to challenge for podium finishes

McLaren are aiming to “close the gap” to Mercedes when the new Formula 1 season begins with new driver Daniel Ricciardo looking to get back on the podium, the team announced at its 2021 presentation this week.

The Australian, 31, who has joined the outfit from Renault, will line up alongside 21-year-old Briton Lando Norris who scored a third-placed finish in last season’s Austrian Grand Prix which helped McLaren to finish third in the constructors’ championship.

“As I see it, most teams have a chance for a podium,” said Ricciardo at the digital launch. “Hopefully my experience and my motivation come out on top in whatever battle I am in. I certainly have ambition to be on the podium.

“McLaren has been on an awesome journey over the last few years, and I’m looking forward to helping the team maintain this positive momentum.”

Norris finished ninth in the 2020 drivers’ championship but his preparations for the new season were hampered in January by a spell of quarantine in Dubai after testing positive for COVID-19.

“I felt drained, tired for a couple of weeks, but I am now fully recovered,” he said. “I am altogether confident I can come into the season knowing what I really want.”

McLaren, entering their 54th season in Formula 1, finished last season well behind Mercedes, the seven-time defending champions for drivers’ and constructors’ championships, but hope that their new engines, supplied by Mercedes, will help them to fight for the titles. 

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80,000 individual examples of the Continental GT

The Home of Bentley in Crewe, UK has produced the 80,000th individual, made-to-order example of the Continental GT – the world’s definitive luxury grand tourer. The 80,000th car – a right-hand drive Continental GT V8 in Orange Flame – was handcrafted in the world’s first carbon neutral factory for luxury car production.

In 1952, the Bentley R-Type Continental made its debut – a Mulliner-bodied coupe with a top speed of just less than 120 mph. It was the fastest four-seater car in the world and very quickly earned a reputation as the ultimate in high-speed luxury.

In 2003, the Continental GT was launched – the first car of the modern Bentley era. Inspired by the R-Type, the first Continental GT established an entirely new market segment – the modern luxury Grand Tourer. Ever since, it has been the unchallenged benchmark for the sector that it founded, with an average of nearly 5,000 examples a year being delivered to customers around the world.

Today, 18 years later, Bentley’s skilled craftspeople – many of whom will have worked on the very first example of the Continental GT (still owned by Bentley) – have handcrafted the 80,000th car. Over this period the style, technology and engineering beneath the car has evolved significantly, seeing an increase of up to 27 per cent in peak power, whilst models within the range have also achieved a reduction over the original Continental GT of 48 per cent in CO2 emissions.

Bentley’s Chairman and Chief Executive, Adrian Hallmark, said: “At its launch in 2003, Bentley redefined the modern grand tourer with the revolutionary Continental GT. Now in 2021, the GT continues to be the ultimate luxury grand tourer, encompassing the latest technology, performance and style. This success is a testament to the skills of our designers, engineers and craftspeople here in Crewe.

“I had the pleasure of launching the original GT in 2003 in my first stint at Bentley, and being here for the launch of the latest generation – and the iterations that have followed – has been a source of great pride for me personally. It will continue to be the iconic backbone of the Bentley business for years to come, even as we transition to the world’s leading provider of sustainable luxury mobility.”

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ID.3 starts series production: Dresden factory to become home of Volkswagen ID

The Transparent Factory in Dresden has begun series production of the fully electric ID.3. This makes it the second production site for the ID.3 and already the fourth site in the world producing Volkswagen models based on the Modular Electric Drive Toolkit (MEB). At the same time, Volkswagen is opening a new chapter in the Saxon capital: Over the coming years, the former “Center of Future Mobility” will steadily transform into the “Home of the ID.”

The central goal: To act as a beacon for Volkswagen in Germany, offering customers, visitors and guests a holistic experience of the ID. family – from initial advice and test drives, to production visits, co-constructing the ID.3 and modern event formats, up to the handover of electric vehicles. An additional focus of the strategic realignment is the development of a research and innovation site that drives innovative projects on a pilot scale for later use in large capacity sites at Volkswagen.

Thomas Ulbrich, member of the board of management for electric mobility at Volkswagen, said: “Volkswagen is continuing to pursue its electric offensive. In addition to new electric models, this also includes the transformation of the global production network. At Dresden we are already converting the fourth Volkswagen site to the new ID. family and the MEB. At the same time we are ramping up volume production in the Zwickau electric car plant and in our two Chinese MEB plants every week. In doing so we reaffirm our ambitions to take on a role as global leaders in electric mobility.”

Danny Auerswald, site manager of the Transparent Factory, said: “The Transparent Factory plays an important role within the Volkswagen brand: Here, visitors, customers and guests come into direct contact with the mobility of tomorrow. We are a production plant, tourist attraction, event location, test lab and delivery centre – all in one. With the start of the production of the ID.3, we are giving the green light for our strategic realignment.”

Thomas Aehlig, chairman of the Works Council of the Transparent Factory, added: “In 2017 we were the first site to completely transform in the direction of electric mobility. As the works council, it was – and is – very important to continue to secure employment here in Dresden. We guarantee added value for the brand and the Group from the new areas of business. From a technical standpoint, we are now capable of producing additional MEB models in the Transparent Factory.”

The Transparent Factory is already the fourth site in the world producing Volkswagen electric cars based on the Modular Electric Drive Toolkit. The first site, the Zwickau plant, kicked off MEB production. At the end of 2020, the Chinese sites in Anting and Foshan also started production of MEB vehicles. Together, these four plants have a maximum production capacity of more than 900,000 vehicles a year. The next sites in Emden, Hanover and Chattanooga (USA) are also preparing for MEB production.

In addition to production, this will create new or expanded areas of business. There are currently 380 employees working at Volkswagen’s Dresden site.

In future, significantly more vehicles will be handed over to customers in the Transparent Factory. To that end, a second delivery point was recently set up in the factory – which is unique in the automobile industry. The number of vehicle handovers to customers is expected to increase from 1,301 in 2019 and 3,296 in 2020 to more than 5,000 vehicles in 2021. The goal is around 9,700 deliveries a year by 2022.

The launch of the e-Golf also marked the strategic realignment of the company into a Centre of Future Mobility. Innovative business areas such as the Future Mobility Incubator, Volkswagen’s start-up program, and the Future Mobility Campus, a learning laboratory for training and further education, the expansion of vehicle delivery and as a test field for Production 4.0, have made the location fit for the future. This successful transformation will continue at full speed with the series production of the ID.3 and the strategic realignment to the ‘Home of ID.’

The Transparent Factory Dresden. Photo: PA Media

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Flamboyant style with supercar performance

The Lamborghini Urus might be the ultimate all-rounder, says Darren Cassey

The car market is awash with SUVs these days, and they’re proving so popular that even companies you wouldn’t expect to build them are getting in on the act. In recent years we’ve seen the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, Bentley Bentayga, and soon the Ferrari Purosangue.

There’s another unexpected name in the mix, too: Lamborghini. Although it has built an off-roader in the past – the utterly bonkers LM002 – it’s better known for its ultra-focused supercars.

However, the luxury SUV market is incredibly lucrative, which is why the Italian firm now sells the Urus, a high-performance SUV that increased the company’s sales almost 50 per cent in 2019 and required a massive upgrade to its factory to cope with demand.

For Lamborghini, the Urus is a whole new thing, though it shares a lot in common with the Audi RSQ8. (Both companies are part of the Volkswagen Group). So it has a modified version of that car’s V8 engine and very similar infotainment screens inside.

Some of the technical highlights include a four-wheel-drive system with active torque vectoring and four-wheel steering to improve grip and handling, carbon-ceramic brakes to reign the Urus in from high speeds, and adaptive air suspension that allows it to be more performance- or comfort-focused at the press of a button.

That V8 engine is a 4.0-litre twin-turbo petrol unit, which makes a hearty 632bhp and 850Nm of torque – considerably more than it makes in the Audi thanks to a little Lambo magic. The result is a 0-60mph time of 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 190mph.

Lamborghini Urus. Photos: PA Media

Despite all that power, the size and weight of the Urus means it doesn’t feel quite as violently rapid as the numbers might imply, but given this is a big, luxury SUV, its accelerative abilities are quite astonishing. Couple this with the glorious bark of the engine in the sportier drive modes and it’s an incredibly rewarding car to drive quickly.

However, looking at the numbers, this is no surprise. Where the Urus really delights is in how well it settles down. In strada (road) mode, the engine and exhaust are relegated to a subtle yet pleasant growl, and the suspension softens up so the ride is generally very comfortable.

Inner-city driving can be a little intimidating at first because the Urus’ footprint is huge, but you soon dial into where the extremities lie. Then, enjoying the space, comfort and performance on offer makes it the go-to choice whether your journey is through tight urban traffic or a wide open B-road.

Arguably the Urus’ most controversial aspect is its styling. Lamborghini has applied its traditionally bold design language to the SUV body style, and it works surprisingly well in-person. The front end in particular can look a bit awkward and fussy in pictures, but after two weeks of driving the car it’s become easy to see past that and enjoy the unique styling that gives the car fantastic road presence.

Lamborghinis tend to work best in bright colours because their sharp, angular designs are complemented by brighter shades, but with the Urus’ position as an everyday car, our bright yellow ‘giallo auge solid’ paint job felt a little too obnoxious; a subtler colour would be welcomed.

The interior is more than capable of living up to the hype provided by the exterior styling and performance on offer. It has nothing but the highest quality materials on all surfaces, with extremely comfortable seats and sleek twin infotainment screens in the dashboard.

At first, the elaborate startup sequence is great fun and the perfect theatre to accompany starting a supercar, but by the end of our time using the Urus every day, flicking the red switch up every time you want to turn the engine on or off became a touch annoying. A minor gripe, though…

The Lamborghini Urus is the firm’s least expensive car and, given its breadth of practicality and performance, arguably good value for money. Standard equipment includes the twin infotainment screens, digital instrument binnacle, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, carbon ceramic brakes, adaptive air suspension and four drive modes.

It’s no surprise that the Urus has seen Lamborghini’s sales skyrocket. It’s a fantastic all-rounder, bringing the theatrical styling and extreme performance the Italian firm is known for to a package you could genuinely drive every day.

It might not completely hide its luxury SUV roots when you’re pressing on down a country road, but the compromise is an extremely comfortable ride when you’re not. There are performance SUVs that arguably handle better, but the Urus is up there with the best of them while also packing a genuinely luxurious interior.

The fact that, when compared with the rest of Lamborghini’s range, you could also make a value for money argument against it, simply seals the deal.

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Intelligent, innovative and sustainable

With the ID.3 a new era of mobility at Volkswagen has started – intelligent, innovative and sustainable. The radically new design involves pioneering technologies. The ID.3 combines all the strengths of the modular electric drive matrix in a vehicle length of a just 4.26 metres – it offers plenty of space in the vehicle interior and the operating concept is intuitively simple. The high-voltage battery has been installed low down in the underbody, ensuring agile and nimble handling.

The interior is also revolutionary. The long wheelbase of the modular electric drive matrix layout and the very short overhangs result in a strikingly large vehicle interior.

Video: Paqpaq

Digital displays and controls make it easy to get your bearings behind the wheel. The ID. Light – an LED strip in the cockpit – visually communicates with passengers. The ID.3 is almost exclusively operated using touch-sensitive buttons and surfaces or the intelligent natural voice control.

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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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Jaguar collaborates with DJ producer MK to curate soundtrack for new F-Pace launch

American DJ producer MK has released his newest track Lies by featuring the new song across the latest F-Pace campaign. The producer features in one of the films himself and has also curated an exclusive Spotify playlist inspired by the performance SUV.

MK’s appearance in the new F-Pace campaign marks the start of a new ongoing Jaguar partnership collaboration with Sony Music UK’s 4th Floor Creative that aims to showcase emerging and established talent and the importance of creativity.

Photo: Jaguar

The new F-Pace campaign features a series of artists from music and entertainment to photography and fashion showcasing the brand’s commitment to supporting the creative industries.

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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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