Toyota will ‘not give up’ on combustion sports cars Car News

Toyota’s GR performance division plans to use hydrogen to keep its combustion-engined sports cars on the road – but infrastructure shortcomings prevent it from being an immediate solution.

The GR division, which has its roots in Toyota’s Gazoo Racing motorsport operation, currently sells four cars: the GR Supra, the GR86, the GR Yaris, and, in the US, the GR Corolla, each of which is powered by a petrol engine.

Toyota recently revealed the FT-Se concept as a preview of GR’s first EV and has detailed a number of initiatives on which it’s working to ensure that electric sports cars are suitably engaging. However, it hasn’t put a timeframe on their arrival and has voiced no plans to phase out its petrol cars.

Now GR manager Masahito Watanabe has said that all-out electrification isn’t a priority for the sub-brand, pointing to Toyota’s highly publicised efforts in recent years to develop hydrogen-combustion technology as a potential lifeline for its piston engines.

“We still think the internal combustion engine has some potential and, as we do so, we will of course be trying to comply with all the applicable rules according to the regions in each country,” he said.

“But we don’t want to give up. It’s not over just yet, because if you look at the internal combustion engine, there’s still hydrogen combustion that can be a part of that zero-emission line-up, so I think that’s going to continue.

“As you see in the [FT-Se], we still see high possibility for battery EVs, but what we want to do is pursue the multi-pathway [approach] that we’ve been seeing in motorsports and sports cars in general.”

Toyota’s multi-pathway approach manifests in a product plan that includes 15 battery electric cars by 2026 but still leans heavily on hybrid technology in a bid to provide maximum choice for consumers. 

It also remains committed to hydrogen fuel cell technology, although is shifting its FCEV focus from passenger cars to heavy goods vehicles, as well as ships and power storage.

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This notice was published: 2023-12-04 12:54:23


Toyota reveals affordable urban crossover as smallest, cheapest EV Car News

He did however acknowledge that the Volvo EX30, for example, would be a natural rival, and that “Toyota isn’t detached from the market reality”, suggesting that a price of around £32,000 wouldn’t be unrealistic. 

In pursuit of a balance between affordability and usability, it will be offered with a choice of two battery options, the largest of which is expected to offer a range of around 250 miles, in line with the car’s city-slicking billing.  

It will also be offered with the choice of front- and four-wheel-drive powertrains, the latter of which Carlucci said will be a rare proposition “at the lower end of the market”, although no more precise details of its specification have been given. 

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This notice was published: 2023-12-03 23:01:45


Saab-engineered Nevs Emily GT saved by Canadian EV start-up Car News

In-wheel motors making 121bhp are mounted at each corner, giving the Emily GT 484bhp in total.

Each motor sandwiches a drive unit between the alloy wheel and the aluminium brake disc, reportedly giving finer control of torque vectoring.

Such was the extent of the vectoring that the car can turn without using the steering wheel.

An air suspension system with active dampers was utilised to counteract the negative effect on ride quality caused by the increase in unsprung weight from the in-wheel motors.

A high-performance variant of the Emily GT was also in the works, with planned outputs of 653bhp and 1623lb ft. This would cut its 0-62mph sprint time down from 4.6sec to 3.2sec.

It has yet to be announced whether EV Electra will change these specifications.

The striking styling – which bears a strong resemblance to the final Saab 9-3 and Saab 9-5 – is reported to have been penned by an unnamed Italian and refined by former Saab designers.

Nevs’ owner, the Evergrande Group, originally signed off a run of 20 prototypes. However, Evergrande – which made its fortune as one of China’s most prolific property developers – hit financial problems in 2020, and only six were built.

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This notice was published: 2023-12-01 18:00:00


Driving a Lunaz bin lorry: the UK’s biggest new EV Car News

Facing me is a digital screen, displaying a speedo, and readouts for battery range and efficiency, as well as the vital air pressure stats. (Air pressure controls everything from the brakes to the firmness of the driver’s seat.) Across the central dash are two 10.0in screens, one for infotainment and the other (not fully functional on this prototype) relaying views from the plethora of cameras around the lorry, which are so important for driver-to-crew visibility during collections.

And now for a revelation: the Lunaz bin lorry is a bit of a hoot to drive. Rotate the switch inside the right-hand column stalk to engage Drive in the two-speed ZF ’box, pull up a dash-mounted lever to release the airbrake and all 17 tonnes of Lunaz bin lorry glides down the road with barely a hum.

Given the sheer mass of the thing, riding on its 80-profile, 22.5in Continentals, there’s an unexpected precision to the steering, which is nicely weighted and quite high-geared – a real boon for those awkward manoeuvres down tight village lanes.

The ride is sublime, too, although I’d wager that, laden with 10 tonnes of garbage, there would be no room for heroics. Acceleration is hilariously brisk if you mash the throttle, but you feel it more at low speeds, which is, I guess, where it would benefit its users the most.

Unsurprisingly, Lunaz is talking to local authorities, all of which are under pressure to reduce carbon emissions in short order. By the end of this year, it is set to deliver 57 electric bin lorries, and a further 200-plus in 2024, some in partnership with waste management company Biffa.

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This notice was published: 2023-12-03 08:01:45


How many drive modes is too many? Car News

Hyundai executives can get defensive about criticism of the number of drive modes and options on performance cars like their i30 N.

That’s one of my favourite hot hatchbacks, but there’s no denying that it has a lot of adjustable things. 

On-board systems allow you to choose between various suspension stiffnesses, to change the steering weight, to tune the engine response and much more besides. Apparently there are nearly 2000 combinations.

Some say that’s too many – probably me included. But Hyundai’s driving attributes chief, Tyrone Johnson, says that if you don’t like having so many, don’t use them. There are a number of presets, including what Hyundai thinks is an optimal N mode, so just pick that.

That also seems like an entirely reasonable position. But until now, I didn’t absolutely know where I stood on it. I’ve sat in BMW M cars and Mercedes-AMGs in the past and once spent six months in an M5 without once feeling like I had entirely got to grips with everything it could offer.

There are shades of a cook-it-yourself restaurant about having this many choices. Somewhere in the background is a great chef who knows precisely what would be the best way to cook the ingredients presented to me yet is content to stand there while I make a complete hash of it.

So come on, you’re the expert: why don’t you get it right and just let me enjoy it? I rather like it when an expert does something, whether it’s the chargrilling of vegetables or the suspension tuning of a Toyota GR86.

Anyway, this situation is only going to get worse – or better, depending on your point of view – as driver’s cars become ever more electrified.

In the i30 N, there’s a mechanical limit to the things that could be changed. Drive can only ever go to the front wheels and there’s only so much bandwidth within which the engine can realistically respond. But, as you might have seen in last week’s first drive of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N, electric cars are something else again.

The Ioniq 5 N has no fewer than four preset and two customisable modes for regular driving. But even though you can in the adjustable modes change the damping, steering weight and motor and differential response and more, that barely touches the surface.

Other buttons activate maximum boost for 10 seconds, knock the power back a bit so that you can complete more laps of a circuit without it overheating, activate full braking effort if you lift off the throttle pedal, put the car into a specific low-speed drifty mode or, through 11 stages, allow the power to be differently apportioned between the front and rear.

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This notice was published: 2023-12-02 08:14:36


Showdown: New Ferrari Purosangue vs Aston Martin DBX 707 Car News

As for handling, the Purosangue’s balance and driveline generate deep, deep pedigree feel for a car of this type – or of any type, frankly. No, never does it feel dramatically lighter than it is, but its core handling personality is very much in the blue-blooded super-GT style. Shortish gearing also makes the V12’s 8250rpm redline reachable and the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is superb. The brake pedal is initially a bit sensitive, mind.

This most novel of Ferraris has four seats and a high-ish ride, but the driving experience is more layered than that of many bona fide sports cars. It’s tempting to say that it achieves the hitherto impossible task of bottling the best of the SUV and supercar realms. In a way, it really does do exactly this, although that’s also a bit simplistic.

First, is the suspension truly natural-feeling? Not sure. I suppose part of its magic requires it to lack transparency. Still, the system is miraculous in many ways, suits this application and plays a pivotal role in the Purosangue nailing the DBX’s very capable air-sprung set-up in terms of ride and handling prowess. It is, in short, revelatory.

Equally, is the Purosangue actually usable enough to fulfil the SUV brief? Hmm. Nobody was expecting a Range Rover rival, and yet…Remove its rear seats from the equation and the sense of occasion that the Purosangue so effectively conjures isn’t far removed from that of an 812 Superfast – not what most of us crave on a day-to-day basis.

Ferrari Purosangue vs Aston Martin DBX: Practicality 

In town, the Ferrari often feels unwieldy – intimidating, in truth. And, just to be dull for a second, the woolly walking-speed pedal response and slightly unpredictable creep function can make parallel parking seem like an expensive guessing game. And yes, it has a decent boot, but it still doesn’t carry that much.

The DBX is no shopping cart, but it’s simpler to hop in and head anywhere you like. It’s more imperious, less objectively refined but somehow more relaxing and doesn’t attract anything like as much attention (positive or otherwise). It also has a more spacious back row, not to mention a Mercedes E-Class-sized boot. 

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This notice was published: 2023-12-02 08:15:39


UK-built electric Nissan Juke aims to be same price as petrol model Car News

The next-generation Nissan Juke will arrive in the second-half of the decade as an electric-only model with fresh styling based on the bold Hyper Punk concept.

Nissan is aiming for the next-generation Juke EV to cost around the same as the current petrol-powered model, which starts from around £21,000, when it goes on sale, although the firm has admitted that is a challenge.

The company has yet to give a timeline for the launch of the next Juke, allowing some flexibility due to the uneven adoption of electric cars and the differing speed of transition in various markets. 

The current model launched in 2019, so under a traditional lifecycle a successor would be expected around 2027.

It is built at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, and the firm is investing up to £1.19bn to design, engineer and build the next-generation EV versions of the Juke and Qashqai in the UK. The Nissan Leaf successor will also be built in Sunderland.

The Hyper Punk concept was first shown at this year’s Tokyo motor show, and is intended to preview the future design direction for Nissan’s future electric-only cars. It is described as “functional and styling”, blending virtual and physical features.

Technical details

Nissan has yet to reveal firm details about the machine, although all three future cars built in Sunderland are set to use the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance CMF-EV platform, a bespoke electric architecture designed for C- and D-segment machines.

That suggests the Juke could potentially grow in size slightly: the current machine uses the CMF-B platform designed for smaller B-segment cars. 

The Alliance does have a CMF-BEV platform that will underpin the next-generation Nissan Micra, although this will be built by in France alongside the Renault 4 and Renault 5.

Despite the Juke, Qashqai and Leaf all sharing a platform and being developed and built alongside each other, Nissan European research and development chief David Moss said that they would retain distinct characters, noting that they would feature different wheelbases. 


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This notice was published: 2023-12-01 21:35:06


From the archive: on this day in 1963 Car News

For 1961, these sections were extended to cover some 200 miles, and the high-speed, dramatic rallying that we know and love today came to Britain.

Sweden’s Erik Carlsson won in a Saab 96 again that year, then for a third time in 1962 (another 100 miles of special stages included), and looked a safe bet for 1963.

Sure enough, through almost ceaseless rain and ankle-deep mud on the rocky, rutted forest tracks, the Scandis’ skills shone again – but this time the win went to the Volvo PV444 of Tom Trana (seen left applying a nice bit of opposite lock).

He made Bournemouth from Blackpool with a 47-minute advantage over Harry Källström’s Volkswagen 1500 S and Carlsson’s 96 for an all-Swedish podium.

How American cars used to be more common in the UK

American cars used to be far more easily available in the UK than they are today, and many of them in right-hand drive, thanks to manufacturer-supported concessionaires.

In 1963, we surveyed all of Detroit’s offerings, from the Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Imperial, Lincoln, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, Pontiac, Rambler and Studebaker brands.

The 48 models spanned ‘sedans’, ‘station wagons’, convertibles and ‘coops’; enormous to enormouser; 85bhp straight six to 340bhp V8 (although almost all were V8s); and from £1569 (£27,385 in today’s money) to £4862 (£84,860).

Dartford crossing opens

We often complain that Britain takes too long to get things built nowadays, but the tunnel between Dartford and Thurrock took 25 years. There was a world war, mind… Work resumed in 1959 and was completed by 1963, at a cost of £13m (£227m today).

It was designed to take two million vehicles between Kent and Essex annually (at a toll of 2s 6d for a car, or £2.18 today). But by 1970 it was carrying four times this figure, leading to the opening of a second tunnel in 1980, before completion of the M25 led to a giant bridge being added in 1991.

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This notice was published: 2023-12-01 12:21:45


Porsche 911 GT3 RS Review (2023) Car News

Straight-line performance and character in the GT3 RS is nearly a mirror image of the GT3’s, meaning the power delivery has a divine linearity about it.

There is also pin-sharp throttle response and occupants are treated to that distinctive, intake-generated fizz-wail as this engine approaches about 7000rpm. Things only intensify through the head room that exists thereafter, the noise hardening into a clenched fist of screaming metallic song at 9000rpm. Letting an RS rip is never anything less than memorable.

And that’s just as well. With peak torque of 343lb ft arriving at 6300rpm and 518bhp available only at 8500rpm (100rpm higher than in the GT3), this is an engine that needs to be exercised, despite the marginally shorter final drive fitted to the RS. On an enjoyable road, any gear above third – which tops out at 105mph – slightly neuters proceedings, although this isn’t an issue on track, where the car thrives, feeling utterly at home. 

Porsche’s GT model-specific PDK ’box is by now familiar, shifting with an alacrity that leaves the flow of torque to the rear wheels essentially uninterrupted. It’s an unsung hero, rev matching with nothing less than sublime accuracy, and in Weissach trim it is controlled via magnesium shift paddles with new haptic magnetic elements derived from those in the 911 GT3 Cup race car. The action is meatily sprung yet clinical and accompanied by an emphatic click. It really does feel ‘motorsport’.    

Numbers? For a non-turbo car weighing 1476kg as tested (with a full tank), the GT3 RS is explosively quick. It sprinted to 60mph in 3.2sec and reached triple figures in 7.1sec. Granted, this is behind more powerful alternatives from Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren, but RS products have never been about straight-line pace alone and this is particularly true of the new GT3 RS, whose aero limits top speed to 184mph (versus the GT3’s 198mph).    

In any case, the Porsche has a secret weapon when it comes to shedding speed. Its braking performance is exceptional – particularly above 50mph, when all that downforce comes to bear. In dry but cool conditions, just 38.8m was required to come to a standstill from 70mph. This puts the Porsche in the realm of considerably lighter, even more uncompromising and equally aero-focused machines such as the Dallara Stradale and McLaren Senna.

On the road, this is of little relevance, but on the track? The ability of the GT3 RS to maintain stability while dive-bombing into corners on a forcible trailing brake can be mind-blowing.

Track Notes (Anglesey Circuit, International)

No road-legal Porsche 911 has had track driving so central to its remit. However, as a downforce car with deep configurability in its suspension and driveline, the RS isn’t as simple to hop aboard and start enjoying as the regular GT3.

You need to acclimatise to what the downforce can do in the fast corners, and the sometimes shocking amount of mid-corner throttle it permits even in slower corners. It’s the same with braking: from big speeds, you can hammer the pedal with what seems like impunity.

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This notice was published: 2023-12-01 07:00:00


Mercedes EQE SUV Car News

Stuttgart continues to expand its family of luxury electric cars with another big SUV

There’s something reassuringly, quintessentially Mercedes-Benz about the name of the company’s latest electric car. It’s an SUV version of the Mercedes EQE saloon, so it has been called the EQE SUV – natürlich.Its mechanical specification is equally rational. Like the Mercedes EQE and the Mercedes EQS duo, it’s based on Mercedes’ Electric Vehicle Architecture, and it offers familiar motive machinery. A trio of dual-motor, four-wheel-drive models have been confirmed for the UK, making 288bhp (EQE 350 4Matic), 402bhp (EQE 500 4Matic) and 469bhp (AMG EQE 43 4Matic). Nothing is unusual about its smooth, rounded design, either. In fact, with a drag coefficient of 0.25, it’s Mercedes’ most aerodynamically efficient SUV to date. New wind-cheating developments include patented elements within the front wheelhouses and a flat belly with various tuning vanes. And along with the standard look, there are of course two sporty AMG Line packages, plus a wide array of alloy wheels, ranging from 19in to 22in.It perhaps goes without saying that the EQE SUV is roughly the same length as the combustion-engined GLE, at 4863mm, with a similarly long wheelbase, but it’s also significantly narrower, at 1849mm, and lower, at 1686mm. And you will not be surprised to learn that the cabin is similar in style to that of the EQE saloon, with most of its materials fittingly upmarket in feel, quality and ambience. As standard, you get a 12.3in digital instrument display and a 12.8in portrait infotainment touchscreen; or for £7995 you can have three screens blended into the dash-spanning 56.0in Hyperscreen. The flat floor combines with the long wheelbase to give a good deal of accommodation, particularly in the rear, with passengers enjoying lots of leg, head and shoulder room.  At 520 litres, the boot is 90 litres down on the EQS SUV’s, although an adjustable rear backrest can be set more upright to liberate an extra 60 litres. It’s a broad and flat space, although it has a high loading lip, because one of the two electric motors is mounted at the rear axle.The entry-level 350 represents the sweet spot in the EQE SUV line-up. With a kerb weight of 2580kg, performance is strong but hardly overwhelming. Its 564lb ft of instant torque does result in abrupt initial acceleration, but it tails off quite markedly as rolling forces build. The drivetrain is terrifically refined, exceptionally smooth and vibration-free. The car’s slippery shape also ensures wind noise and buffeting around the mirrors stay at a minimum even on the motorway. The EQE SUV is the first Mercedes EV to receive a disconnect unit, which at low speeds in Comfort and Eco driving modes disconnects the front motor from the drive process (could you guess?), minimising mechanical drag losses for a 6% reduction in energy consumption. As we now expect of any premium EV, the EQE SUV also receives a heat pump in place of a regular air-con unit, bringing another 10% drop in consumption in cooler weather. With official economy of 2.8-3.4 miles per kWh, the EQE 350 SUV’s 89kWh battery offers up to 342 miles of range. It can be charged at 22kW by an AC wallbox or 170kW by a DC rapid charger – rather lacking when Kia’s latest EVs can handle 350kW.A double-wishbone front and multi-link rear steel-sprung standard suspension is mated with stroke-dependent dampers, while the optional Airmatic air suspension uses single-chamber plungers to give adjustable ride height and constant self-levelling.Fitted with the latter set-up, the EQE SUV is agreeably comfortable, with a generally absorbent ride in Eco, Comfort and Normal modes.  With precise, lightly weighted steering, the EQE SUV proves undemanding in everyday urban driving. Here, the extra benefits of the optional rear-wheel steering system become apparent also: impressive manoeuvrability and a tight (10.5-metre) turning circle for such a sizeable machine.Selecting Sport mode adds weight to the steering and an underlying firmness to the ride, ramping up the interaction and body control. There’s substantial mass at play, but the EQE SUV is nevertheless quite agile, with reasonable amounts of grip and excellent traction. It also suppresses vertical movements well over winding and undulating country roads.  Less well resolved is braking action. The pedal desperately lacks in feel, and there’s an odd movement to it as the brakes are pre-tensioned and ultimately triggered by the energy-regeneration function. Although the EQE SUV’s towing capacity won’t woo any countryside dwellers, at just 1800kg, its off-road capability just might. Its 169mm of ground clearance can be increased by 25mm with an optional Off-Road pack on Airmatic cars, plus there’s an optional ‘transparent bonnet’ function that displays the terrain beneath you on the touchscreen.So, the EQE SUV would be a very likeable and easy car…

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This notice was published: 2023-12-01 12:00:00