Concept to tarmac: the Jaguar I-PACE

Jaguar I-PACE

One of the biggest problems with electric vehicles (EVs), I feel, is cosmetic, leaving aside range anxiety or the hassle of finding a free charging spot. Tesla’s Model S might be a gorgeous looking car, but you couldn’t say the same of the more popular and more affordable Nissan Leaf, the Renault Zoe or the Kia Soul EV. Though beauty may indeed lie in the eyes of the beholder, perhaps good looks simply come at a premium in this segment – the Model S starts at €81,086, the BMW i8 at €142,360, far outside the budgets of many motorists who buy with their eyes as much as their head.

Continue reading “Concept to tarmac: the Jaguar I-PACE”

A super concept from VW

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Meet the brand-spanking-new VW GTI Supersport Vision concept. Beneath that curved and flowing bonnet is a 3.0L 503hp VR6 turbocharged engine linked to a seven-speed dual clutch DSG gearbox that delivers power to all four wheels. Coupled with 665Nm of torque, the Supersport catapults from 0-100km/h in just 3.6 seconds, on a par with the Enzo Ferrari, with a top speed of over 300kph.

Meanwhile, a power-to-weight ration of just 2.5kg per horsepower means a likely kerb weight of around 1,257kg, while a rear spoiler and diffuser means the Supersport will hug the tarmac tightly.

Continue reading “A super concept from VW”

Aston Martin – the next generation

VuI_01-newsheroSeemingly taking its name from the Star Trek universe, but more suitably from the Roman god of volcano fire, meet the Aston Marin Vulcan, undoubtedly the next supercar to feature on the walls of children (young and old) the world over.

While there are hints of the current Aston Martin stable, it’s very much a more forward-looking design (possible contender for understatement of the year) with its carbon fibre body, sleek lines and sharp edges, massive spoiler and rear diffuser, not to mention those spiky rear lights (we really love those lights).

Sitting below that sculpted bonnet and the massive air vents is an 800bhp 7.0L V12 engine developed by Aston Martin Racing. Take a moment to let that sink in. And, drawing on the car manufacturer’s racing heritage, the Vulcan will also feature Brembo racing callipers working with carbon ceramic racing disk brakes, Michelin race tyres, a six-speed sequential gearbox and, of course, a rear wheel drivetrain.

Due to make its début next month during the 85th annual Geneva International Motor Show, it has been described by CEO Dr Andy Palmer as “a true sports car for true sports car lovers,” and one which “sets a whole new standard in the ultra-high luxury supercar class,” not hyping the Vulcan up by any means.

Unfortunately, as some of its specifications may have already hinted, you’ll never get the chance to see this particular model on a road near you; Aston Martin have dashed some dreams with the announcement that the Vulcan will be a track-only supercar. Prospective owners will be first invited to build their experience on a number of high performance Aston Martins, including the V12 Vantage S and One-77 road cars.

Considering only 24 Vulcans will be built, you can’t really blame Aston Martin for this – evidently simply sitting into the Vulcan and driving off for a lap of the track will end sooner than expected, probably in a ditch, or a wall. On a more positive note, however, the company did mention “a design language hinting at the next generation of Aston Martin sports cars,” so we may see a distant cousin hurtling around the roads some day.

The £1.5m price tag may prove to be something of a hurdle, but we can’t wait. For the moment, a look at the new DB10 would suffice.

Teaser video at the link.

The Roundup: An Audi A9, JCB’s GT and Land Rover’s unofficial twin

An Audi A9?

Audi prologueWe’ve driven Audi’s A8, which sits atop Audi’s regular car pile. But that could be about to change. Meet the Audi prologue, which we could easily see slotting into the Audi line up as a newly introduced A9. A two door coupe concept car, it’s a mixture of power, comfort and surprising efficiency.

Powered by a 4.0L V8 TFSI engine, the prologue produces 605hp and 750Nm of torque, propelling it to 100km/h in just 3.7 seconds. Better get used to the scenery passing by in a blur. Interestingly it also has all-wheel steering – the back wheels can turn up to five degrees, which means piloting the behemoth gets a little easier. If this is the prologue, we can’t wait for the full story.

Digging for gold

It’s official – JCB have the fastest digger in the world. Built inThe iconic JCB 3CX backhoe loader Staffordshire, the specially-modified JCB GT vehicle broke the record at Bathurst, near Sydney, Australia, confirmed by Guinness World Records as 72.58mph. That’s quite impressive when you think about it – we’ve driven cars which had trouble getting past 60. JCB invented the popular machine in 1953, and sold more than half a million over the past 61 years.

JCB’s demonstration driver, 43 year old Matthew Lucas, was behind the wheel of the modified version, which was designed to perform high-speed wheelies at racing events. That’s not a typo. Just don’t expect to see a repeat performance next time you drive past a building site.

Imitation isn’t always flattery

Range Rover Evoque (2)Jaguar Land Rover were understandably a little peeved when they discovered that a Chinese company had produced a carbon copy of the Range Rover Evoque and displayed it at the Guangzhou Motor Show 2014. At which Land Rover was also displaying their first Chinese-built Evoque. You have to at least admire their brass neck.

While a genuine Evoque will cost £40,000, the LandWind X7 is the equivalent of only £14,000. China is JLR’s biggest market, and sold more than 90,000 vehicles there last year. We’d be a little angry too.

This piece first appeared in the Q4 edition of Business Ireland magazine.

The Juke’s competition

downloadIt’s been a week for concept cars, and Toyota have added another entry into the ring. Also due to be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show next month, the C-HR concept is a compact hybrid crossover. A much sportier model than the RAV4, it looks like Toyota will be going head-to-head with the similar Nissan Juke.

There weren’t any specifications included with the photos, but the C-HR does include a hybrid drivetrain, what appears to be keyless entry, muscled wheel arches and a sleek profile.

We’ll reserve judgement (it’s not mindblowing).

The customisable U2

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This is Toyota’s latest concept car, which has just made its world debut in New York. We’re not really sure how to describe it. For now it’s known as the U2, and was conceived by Toyota’s design studio in California.

Built with urban utility in mind, it has a few nifty features like a retractable utility bar for holding equipment, or your shopping, customisable side panels, tough bodywork, and a drop-down tailgate which can serve as a loading ramp. It’s as small as a compact car, but has the space of a van, and can serve as a pickup truck too.

Although it’s designed with Americans in mind, it’d be interesting to see a few pottering around on Irish roads.

Peugeot’s Quartz concept

QUARTZ_1409STYP001Meet the Peugeot Quartz Concept – due to be unveiled to the world at the upcoming Paris Motor Show in October – a four wheel drive, hybrid crossover with 500bhp on tap. Following a line of some very tasty Peugeot concepts, including the Exalt, Onyx and the fantastic Dakar racer, the Quartz sounds a little conflicted about what it wants to be.

It’s powered by a 1.6L petrol engine with 270bhp, which drives the front wheels via a six speed automatic gearbox. There’s also a pair of electric motors on board – one on the front axle and one on the rear. You might be wondering where the full force of 500bhp comes into the picture. The Quartz has three drive modes; full EV (which will get you approximately 50km of travel), Road mode (only the front axle is engaged) and finally Race mode. When you select the Race setting, the Quartz harnesses the combined power of the petrol engine and the electric motors.

It’s quite the looker too, all sleek lines and curves, sitting on 23-inch alloy wheels. There’s an electronically retractable step for easy access and two rear spoilers which flow from the roof, not to mention the scissor doors. Inspired by basalt – a strong and light rock formed when magma cools – you’ll find a range of materials inside including digitally woven textile, black leather and red-tinged door frames milled from a composite material. Four bucket seats means there’s a little extra room to play with, while the driver’s ‘i-Cockpit’ includes a head-up display.

We like it already.