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Porsche posts record-breaking sales in first half of 2021

Porsche has had its best ever start to a year, delivering 153,656 vehicles, a 31 per cent increase on last year.

The firm said the growth in demand crossed all models in its range and all of its global sales regions. Although the percentage increase on last year is significant because those sales were impacted by pandemic-related shutdowns, the figures show increased demand across the line-up.

For example, the electric Taycan shifted almost 20,000 units in six months, which is just shy of the number sold in the whole of 2020.

To give some context to its popularity, that’s about 1,000 units fewer than the number of 911s sold in the same period. Porsche’s halo sports car, meanwhile, saw a 22 per cent increase on sales to 20,611.

The most successful model was the Cayenne, the firm’s large SUV. It sold 44,050 examples, up 12 per cent on last year, and just ahead of the smaller Macan SUV, which sold 43,618 units, an increase of 27 per cent.

Finally, the 718 sports car models sold about 12,000 examples and the Panamera saw about 13,500 sales, up 33 and six per cent respectively.

Photos: PA Media

Detlev von Platen, board member for sales and marketing at Porsche, said: “We are extremely delighted with the high level of demand for our sports cars – the increase in deliveries in the first half of the year is above that of the overall market.

“The rate of electrification is growing in all regions. This development confirms the path that we have taken with our drive strategy. In Europe, around 40 per cent of the cars currently being delivered have an electric motor – whether they’re a purely electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid. Our highest priority continues to be to fulfil our customers’ dreams.”

When looking at sales regions, the largest growth was seen in the United States, where deliveries were up 50 per cent to 36,326. China remains the biggest market with 48,654 sales representing an increase of 23 per cent. Europe shifted 40,435 units, up 25 per cent, with Germany accounting for more than a quarter of this.

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Ford Mustang Mach-E sets electric vehicle efficiency record

Ford has claimed a new Guinness World Record as its Mustang Mach-E SUV achieved the lowest energy consumption in an electric car.

The record was achieved on a run along the length of mainland Great Britain, from John O’Groats in Scotland to Land’s End in England.

Independently verified data shows that the Mustang Mach-E travelled more than 6.5 miles per kilowatt hour (kWh) of energy used. With the car’s 88kWh battery capacity, that means it was capable of over 500 miles of range between charges.

Demonstrating the impressive effort from the drivers, that’s over 120 miles further than official figures suggest it can go.

For the record attempt, the SUV’s occupants left John O’Groats with a full charge and stopped twice to top up the batteries, in Wigan and Cullompton, being stationary for less than 45 minutes to complete the 820-mile trip.

Ford says that charging at the Mach-E’s maximum rate of 150kW adds about 73 miles of range in 10 minutes.

Photos: PA Media

The team completing the drive were Paul Clifton, BBC transport correspondent, and co-drivers Fergal McGrath and Kevin Booker, who already hold petrol and diesel economy records between them.

They said: “This record is about demonstrating that electric cars are now viable for everyone. Not just for short urban trips to work or the shops, or as a second car. But for real-world use on long cross-country journeys.

“We’ve proved that, with this car, the tipping-point has been reached.

“The Ford Mustang Mach-E’s range and efficiency make it an everyday car for tackling unpredictable journey patterns. We did a full day’s testing totalling 250 miles and still had 45 per cent battery charge on our return.”

Ford UK electrification manager Tim Nicklin, added: “The Mustang Mach-E’s efficiency minimised charging along Britain’s longest route and proved itself as a game changer.

“Ford’s own Go Electric report on consumer perceptions reveals that the average range which the public thinks a fully charged electric car can travel is under 150 miles. If the Mach-E can achieve well over three times that distance in the hands of professionals, it can easily deliver its official ‘miles per tank’ to owners – and dispense with any previous range anxiety.”

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Kia Ceed range gets new look and updated interior for 2021

Kia has revealed an array of upgrades for its popular Ceed hatchback, including updated styling, improved interiors and new powertrains.

The updates, which also apply to the Sportswagon estate and ProCeed shooting brake variants, are designed to breathe new life into the line-up.

The front end has been given a completely new look and incorporates Kia’s new logo onto the nose. Each trim level has also been given slight changes to make them more distinct from each other.

A gloss black grille has been introduced with chrome touches on the edges, while the rear has smoothed body panels to emphasise the new logo.

All Ceed models get new headlights that incorporate full LED technology on GT Line S and GT trim levels, while there are now six alloy wheel designs that range from 16 to 18 inches in size, depending on specification.

Photos: PA Media

The sporty GT models get red design accents on the exterior, redesigned bumpers, dual exhaust tips and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Four new interior upholstery finishes bring the total options to nine, while a new leather gear knob choice is available for automatic cars. GT-Line S models get a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.25-inch infotainment screen.

A good variety of powertrains are on offer, including mild hybrid and regular petrol and diesel options, with manual and automatic transmission choices. Top-spec GT models use a 201bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine with drive modes that alter its response for more sporty and eco-focused driving.

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Gemballa Marsien is modern-day interpretation of a Porsche rally icon

A new Porsche-based off-road supercar has been launched, inspired by the German firm’s iconic Dakar rally racers of the past.

It is being built by Marc Philip Gemballa (MPG), a company named after its founder, the 27-year-old son of the late Uwe Gemballa, who founded vehicle tuning company Gemballa, best-known for providing aftermarket parts for Porsches since the 1980s.

The new model being launched by MPG – in no way associated with the original Gemballa company – is called Marsien and has been inspired by the iconic Porsche 959 rally car that won the Paris-Dakar rally in the 1980s.

The Marsien is based on a 992-series Porsche 911 Turbo S, but gets a twin-turbocharged flat-six engine that has been modified by iconic Porsche tuner RUF. At its base level, the engine makes 740bhp and 930Nm of torque, but this can be upgraded to 818bhp on request.

Photos: PA Media

Extensive modifications have been made, including a redesign of the engine cooling system and a specialist air filter that will keep the engine working even in hot and dusty deserts. Porsche’s automatic gearbox has also been worked on to deliver the increased power consistently to all four wheels.

MPG partnered with KW Automotive, one of the leading suspension and chassis technology companies in the world. The result is a bespoke suspension system for the Marsien. It has an adjustable ride height, so the driver can use the regular suspension level when driving on the road or increase it to 250mm off the ground to improve clearance when heading off-road.

For those who want the ultimate off-road experience, though, there’s an off-road package that comprises a rally-specification Reiger Suspension setup with upgraded dampers that increase suspension travel and provide a fixed ride height.

Inside, there’s a full overhaul, with a choice of leather or Alcantara upholstery, carbon-fibre parts, and a metal plaque denoting the vehicle’s production number.

Just 40 examples will be made.

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The Cupra Leon Estate is a thrilling yet practical performance car

Cupra is a company on a roll. Since it split apart from parent firm Seat, it has created the Formentor – its first ground-up model – and soon it’ll be bringing the Born to market as its first fully electric model.

But it still likes to tinker with Seat’s model from time to time. There’s the Cupra Ateca, of course, and now this – the Cupra Leon. It’s based on Seat’s latest Leon model, but Cupra has ensured it includes a wide variety of changes for its own version. Let’s find out what it’s like.

As this is a Cupra model based entirely on a Seat car, the exterior look isn’t as dramatic as on the Formentor. That said, you’ve still got a variety of Cupra’s own touches and – particularly on our estate model – they add up to create a car which does stand out against the regular Leon.

Photos: PA Media

You have, of course, got all manner of mechanical upgrades to ensure that the Leon ties in with Cupra’s performance-oriented take on things.

The Cupra Leon packs a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine with 306bhp and 400Nm of torque. It’s a much-used engine across the wider Volkswagen Group, but you can understand why given its flexibility and – at up to 34.4mpg – its reasonable efficiency. With power sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed automatic gearbox, the Cupra Leon will crack 0-60mph in just 4.7 seconds before carrying on to a top speed of 155mph.

You can also opt for lower-powered versions of the Cupra Leon with 296bhp, while a plug-in hybrid variant is available too. This most-potent engine can only be specified on the estate, however, rather than the hatch.

The Cupra Leon feels quick, safe and secure while thanks to optional dynamic chassis control (DCC) it can be made comfortable too. It’s that final point that is the most important here, as it means you can set the Leon to glide over bumps and imperfections rather than thudding into them when put in its firmest mode. If you’re thinking of going for a Cupra Leon, then we’d make sure that this is included.

Then there’s the performance on offer, which is more than enough for daily driving. Because of the all-wheel-drive system you can deploy the car’s power no matter the conditions, ensuring quick and easy progress at all times. It’s accompanied by a somewhat artificial engine nose, but it does make for more exciting acceleration. We’d also like wider shift paddles to be fitted behind the wheel; as a performance brand, you expect each part of the driver’s interaction with the car to be spot on. The paddles let it down.

The regular Leon is already a handsome car, so the additions made to it by Cupra have only strengthened its visual appeal. The estate model is particularly appealing, with loads of cuts and angles ensuring that it stands out on the road. At the rear, you’ve got the standard-fit quad exhaust pipes that you’ll find on all manner of Volkswagen Group performance cars, but they do give a hint towards what the Cupra Leon can offer.

Additional Cupra touches include blackened trim pieces and the large Cupra badges both front and rear, while the copper-coloured elements that have decked out previous models from the brand have been kept to a minimum on the Leon. Altogether, it’s a classy but relatively understated-looking affair.

The latest Leon has benefitted from some of the latest in-car tech, which is why the interior of this Cupra feels particularly high-end. The material quality is good, with plenty of soft-touch surfaces used throughout the Leon’s cabin. It helps to generate a feeling of robustness, as if it’ll stand up to plenty of use.

Rear-seat space is good – there’s room for five in the Leon – though middle passengers might struggle for foot room. When it comes to boot space, there’s an impressive 620 litres on offer which can be extended by folding the rear seats down. In terms of practicality, the Cupra Leon more than delivers. Particularly for those who want to have a car that’s exciting to drive without sacrificing space, it’ll prove quite tempting.

Our test car came in VZ3 specification, bringing a whole range of standard features. Highlights include 19-inch alloy wheels, wireless phone charging and heated seats, as well as wireless phone charging and a panoramic sunroof – a welcome addition to brighten up the otherwise quite dark cabin.

The main infotainment system is centred around a 10-inch central display. It’s a touch fiddly to operate, with icons and graphics which are ever-so-slightly too small to use on the move. There are no real physical buttons to speak of either, so you have to use the screen in order to access various functions.

The Cupra Leon feels like it could be the perfect daily performance car. It’s got the combination of space and practicality, but it’s got that ever-present turn of pace to add some real excitement to your daily drive. We particularly like the larger boot that you get with this estate version.

It’s cars like the Leon that are working to cement Cupra as a manufacturer proper. Though this might be a Seat-based vehicle, the added premium touches and enhanced performance that this Cupra brings will no doubt attract a lot of fans.

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Bono’s Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL set to go under the hammer at auction

A 1980 Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL formerly owned by U2 frontman Bono is set to be auctioned off this week with an estimate of €17.5k.

The classic model incorporates a variety of modifications introduced by the singer, who bought the vehicle to celebrate the success of U2’s first album, Boy.

It has an interior that has been entirely retrimmed in a cowhide pattern, with the eye-catching material used on all areas including the parcel shelf and door cards. However, one of the standout features is the Alpine sound system, which was fitted by Bono at a cost of €14k– around €80k today.

Photos: PA Media

Consisting of several amps and a variety of speakers, it was so powerful that Bono kept a fire extinguisher in the car at all times in case it set on fire.

The exterior of the car is finished in grey paint, while the wheels benefit from new tyres. Recently serviced and given a new starter motor and battery, the Mercedes has covered 163,000 miles since new. It does, however, require a few areas of attention with some corrosion appearing on the underside of the car and a handful of rust spots on the edge of the bonnet.

Bono auctioned the car off in 2000 when it was purchased by Pepsi as a way of raising money for Ethiopian aid projects.

The Mercedes is being sold online by Car & Classic.

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New Aston Martin Valhalla brings 937bhp of hybrid power

Aston Martin has lifted the covers off its striking new hybrid supercar – the Valhalla.

Built with a variety of learnings made through Aston Martin’s involvement in Formula One, the Valhalla incorporates several intricate and technologically advanced features which help to ensure that it delivers the best possible performance.

It’s powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 which is linked up to a 150kW hybrid system with a pair of electric motors – one mounted on each axle. Combined, the engine and electric system produce 937bhp. When driven in electric-only mode, the power from the batteries is directed to the front axle alone, while in other driving modes it’s split between the front and rear axles. This allows the car to tailor the power delivery depending on the situation.

Aston Martin’s executive chairman Lawrence Stroll said: “Aston Martin’s first series production mid-engined supercar, Valhalla is a truly transformational moment for this ultra-luxury brand. The launch of Valhalla demonstrates our commitment to building a range of exceptional mid-engined driver focused cars, a crucial next stage in the expansion of our product line-up.”

Photos: PA Media

Set to arrive in 2023, the Valhalla will be able to run for eight miles on electric power yet manage the 0-60mph sprint in 2.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 217mph. Aston Martin also claims that it’ll emit less than 200g/km of CO2.

Built around a lightweight carbon fibre tub, the Valhalla also incorporates a new eight-speed DCT automatic transmission. This also brings a new e-reverse feature, which uses the electric motors for reversing and saves weight by removing the need for a conventional reverse gear.

Aston Martin has yet to reveal how much the Valhalla will cost, though this is likely to be announced to the car’s introduction in 2023.

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Prince test-drives hydrogen-powered eco-car

The Prince of Wales took a spin in a hydrogen-powered car as he visited an eco-vehicle firm.

Heir to the throne Charles got behind wheel of the lightweight green-coloured Rasa when he visited Riversimple in Llandrindod Wells last week.

Taking the two-seater car for a test-drive, Charles heard how the Rasa emits nothing but pure water vapour and is designed to minimise the particulates from tyres and brakes with its low weight, skinny tyres and high regenerative braking.

It has a range of 300 miles and is billed as being “light to handle, responsive and fun to drive” with a “nippy 0-60mph in 9.7 seconds”.

The prince, known for his green credentials, was pictured grinning as he emerged from the aerodynamic car after the opening of its sleek hi-tech butterfly doors.

Photos: PA Media

Riversimple is building Rasas for trials with the general public, both in Monmouthshire, where they have installed a refueller in the town centre of Abergavenny, and in Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire.

It is the first in a range of vehicles, including a light commercial van and a family vehicle, that the firm plans to offer to customers on a subscription basis.

Charles was carrying out his annual summer week-long tour to Wales.

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Peugeot reveals exciting new Hypercar project that’s destined for Le Mans

Peugeot has finally revealed the Hypercar racer that will be competing in the World Endurance Championship from next season.

Called 9X8, it is considered a direct successor to the 905, which won the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1992 and 1993, and the 908, which won in 2009.

Despite providing the inspiration for the new car, the 9X8 is a world away from its predecessors mechanically. It has a hybrid powertrain, combining a rear-mounted 2.6-litre V6 petrol engine making 661bhp to an electric motor producing 264bhp.

Peugeot says the battery is still in development but will be a ‘technologically sophisticated’ unit with a 900v output – the highest currently seen in an electric road car is the Porsche Taycan’s 800v system.

One interesting quirk that has not been explained in depth yet is the lack of a rear wing. Performance cars tend to use spoilers and wings to manipulate the air travelling over the car and push it into the ground to improve grip.

However, the 9X8 has a clean rear end, with the message ‘We didn’t want a rear wing” in subtle lettering. Although these wings help to improve cornering speeds, they also create drag, which lowers the car’s top speed, making their design a balancing act.

Photos: PA Media

Jean-Marc Finot, motorsport director for Peugeot’s parent company Stellantis, said the team has “achieved a degree of aerodynamic efficiency that allows us to do away with this feature,” and joked that people shouldn’t ask how they achieved this.

However, it’s likely related to ground effects, which involves manipulating the air travelling beneath the car to create downforce while minimising drag.

Linda Jackson, Peugeot CEO, said: “There’s more to Peugeot’s involvement in endurance racing than the sporting aspect.

“Endurance racing is a form of motorsport that provides us with an extreme laboratory, which explains why our association with Le Mans is so strong. More significant perhaps than the results we obtain on the racetrack are the opportunities it provides to prove our technology and the fruit of our research work in a race that throws extreme conditions at you for 24 hours.

“Le Mans gives us a competitive environment to validate the hybrid systems and technologies we are currently developing to reduce the fuel consumption – and therefore CO2 emissions – of our road cars. The teams at Peugeot Sport are proud when they see their research carried over to our production models. For our customers, Le Mans is a laboratory that testifies to the quality of our cars.”

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