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Aston Martin DBX SUV expected to be named Varekai
Since the SUV's first announcement at the 2015 Geneva motor show, the model has been referred to as the DBX – the name of the concept that previewed it. It is due on roads in 2019 and the production model is currently under development. Its design was signed off late, last summer with intentions of drastically boosting the 105-year-old firm's sales volumes. Varekai looks set to adorn the final version, following the application of a new trademark for the moniker. It sticks to the brand's naming convention of names starting with a V – like the Vantage, Vanquish and Valkyrie. The British luxury carmaker declined to comment when contacted by our sister publication, Autocar UK. When the DBX production model arrives, it will rival the Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus, Maserati Levante and top-end Range Rovers and Porsche Cayennes in the luxury 4x4 segment. However, CEO Andy Palmer has previously stated that the DBX will stand apart from them “because it has not sacrificed any beauty to achieve its practicality or performance”. The SUV project was envisioned by Palmer before he took up his role at Aston Martin in 2014 and it was officially kick-started on his fourth day in the job. Palmer indicated that the final car will carry much of the DNA hinted at by the concept. “There are aspects of the car that have changed dramatically,” he said. “But in terms of the pure lines and the fundamental core principles of the car – you’ll recognise them.” Reichmann has suggested the roofline will have to be much higher than that of the concept in order to give the production car an extra layer of practicality. The DBX concept of Geneva 2015 was a two-door, four-seat model powered by electric motors mounted inboard of the wheels and powered by lithium-sulphur cells. The car featured several other high-tech concept flourishes – such as an F1-style kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) – in order to emphasise that it would be at the cutting edge of powertrain technology when it was launched. However, Marek Reichmann, Head of Design, and his team also made a point of highlighting some of the SUV's more practical elements such as cabin and load space. The DBX will be built on a new bonded and riveted aluminium architecture that is closely related in principle to that used by the DB11. There had been speculation that Aston would lean on part-owner Mercedes-Benz for its chassis technology, but Palmer said Aston preferred to make use of its own expertise – albeit turning to Mercedes for some sub-systems and V8 power – as it will do with all of its next-generation vehicles. The DBX will also be the first Aston to be sold with four-wheel drive, although it’s not clear if every model will have the function. The SUV's Range-topping power will come from Aston’s 5.2-litre V12, to be re-tuned from the 600bhp and 516lb ft unit found in the DB11. There will also be an AMG-sourced 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 that makes 503bhp and 498lb ft and, in time, an all-electric powertrain that will be developed as proprietary technology by Aston with the input of Williams Advanced Engineering. Palmer has ruled out diesel versions of the DBX. However, he confirmed that a hybrid version of the car will be developed sans plug-in hybrid technology, since research suggests that luxury car buyers do not consider the experience to be premium enough. This revelation raises the possibility of Aston using the high-performance powertrain from the Mercedes-AMG GT Concept that was revealed at the Geneva motor show, last year. Its hybrid unit combines AMG’s twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 with an electric motor to deliver a combined 800bhp. In the GT Concept, that figure equates to a 0-100kph time of less than 3sec; the DBX will be heavier, though. The battery is charged as the car is being driven – both, through brake energy recuperation as well as with the aid of the petrol engine. However, Palmer also highlighted the learnings the company had made while developing the hybrid KERS-style system with Red Bull Technologies for the Aston Martin Valkyrie hypercar, suggesting the firm could use a modified version of that instead of turning to Mercedes. In terms of ride and handling goals, Palmer highlighted the characteristics of the Porsche Macan. “It is probably dynamically the best car in the SUV category,” he said. The interior of the DBX is set to take a new approach, with the design team having to focus more than ever on practicality. Aston has created focus groups of existing customers to provide input, including the much-vaunted female focus group, which was instigated on Palmer’s suggestion as soon as the concept car was revealed after it emerged that just 3,500 of the firm’s lifetime sales of 70,000 cars were to women. “This is not an Aston Martin that is exclusive to any one type of buyer [...]
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Hyundai Creta facelift to get a sunroof
The refreshed Hyundai Creta has been on test in India for some time now, and latest spy pics reveal a crucial detail – the addition of a sunroof.  We expect a sunroof to be exclusive to top-spec versions of the updated SUV, and the inclusion is to meet the growing demand for the feature across car segments. A sunroof is a key differentiator on the Honda WR-V cross hatchback, for instance.    Going by the spy pics, the facelifted Creta for India is likely to get styling similar to the one sold in the South American markets. A test mule with its front and rear covered was recently spotted, wearing a colour scheme and alloy wheel design similar to the Creta Sport variant sold in South America. For those who may not know, Hyundai sells the Creta with three different looks for the Indian, South American and Chinese markets. The refreshed Creta for India will get a larger hexagonal grille with a thick chrome surround. The grille merges with the chunky new front bumper that sports creases and has separate housings for the fog lamps. Also new is a thick black chin that further enhances the SUV's muscular appearance.  At the rear, the new Creta will get a slightly redesigned bumper, and there are chances it'll come with mildly tweaked tail-lamps with LED inserts as well.  As far as engines go, Hyundai is likely to continue with the current set of engines including the 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre petrol and diesel units.     [...]
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New Nissan Z sportscar to create new V6 Nismo model
The Japanese carmaker is expected to be show the new sportscar in coupé guise before the end of next year, around 50 years after the original Z car arrived here. Nissan design boss Alfonso Albaisa said that he was in favour of a new Z car to replace the 370Z, in a conversation with our sister publication, Autocar UK, last year. He said the sports car market was a challenging one but was “personally advocating” a new Z car. The forthcoming model is known internally as the Z35 – a codename that continues a process started with the Z31 model launched in 1983. Senior officials from Nissan say that it has been paired with the next Infiniti Q60, with which it will share its rear-wheel-drive platform, engine line-up and electric system. Dimensionally, the new Z car is set to mirror the more upmarket Q60. At about 4,520mm long, 1,890mm wide and 1,240mm tall, it will be slightly larger than the 370Z. In addition to its coupé version, Nissan plans a successor to the 370Z Roadster – although this model is unlikely to arrive in showrooms until 2021. Power for the new coupé and convertible, which insiders suggest could be called the 400Z, is planned to come from Nissan’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine used in a number of existing models, including Infiniti's Q50 and Q60. In standard versions of the new Z car, the engine – which has a 60deg vee angle – is expected to run a similar state of tune to that of the Q60, which develops 405hp and 475Nm of torque. By comparison, the outgoing 370Z has a turbocharged 3.7-litre V6 powerplant that delivers 328hp and 364Nm. The highlight of the new Z-car line-up is set to be a four-wheel-drive Nismo version. Due to arrive in 2021, this is earmarked to run a powered-up version of the turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine with a claimed 482hp and 612Nm. It has been understood that Nissan intends to reveal the styling of the new Z car in concept form at the 2018 Tokyo motor show in October. The definitive production version is then planned to be unveiled at the 2019 Los Angeles motor show. Future generations of the Z model are understood to have been in doubt because of struggling profitability in the sports car segment. Honda has admitted a similar quandary about an S2000 replacement and Toyota and BMW have teamed up in order to cut costs in the creation of their respective forthcoming Supra and Z4 sports cars.   [...]
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Nissan Leaf SUV expected to breakthrough to the mainstream
In conversation with our sister publication, Autocar UK, Mamoru Aoki spoke about the Nissan Leaf. He says that the car will be the breakthrough model that makes battery-electric vehicles truly mainstream. Straight from Nissan’s design centre in London, Aoki said, “Of course, we have the new Leaf but I think the [production version of the] IMx concept will become a breakthrough model.” The IMx concept made its debut at the Tokyo show, last October. It promised a 612km range on a single charge and a dual-motor all-wheel-drive powertrain with a proposed 435hp and 700Nm of torque. Nissan also says that the IMx will feature the next generation of its autonomous ProPilot technology. “The IMx is not just a concept car. In a few years, it will appear [in production],” Aoki said, hinting that it could do for Nissan what the first Qashqai crossover did when it was launched in 2007. Aoiki pointed out that the overall cabin concept reflects Japanese architecture and interior design, because traditional Japanese houses are tiny and some rooms have to be multi-purpose in their usage. “The interior is notably bigger than with a conventional vehicle and there’s much more usable space thanks to the totally flat floor allowed by the [under-floor] battery pack," he goes on to say. "The dashboard is also pushed right back [towards the windscreen] because the HVAC [heating, ventilation and air-con] unit is under the bonnet.” Aoki was also keen to mention that the unusual interior trim in the IMx is an alternating laminate of wood and translucent plastic that can be illuminated from behind – a hint, perhaps, that this clever finish is heading for production. The Design Europe boss mentioned that the exterior of the IMx is meant to be a clear indicator of Nissan’s next-generation design language. The intention is to be closer to the company’s Japanese roots. He said the IMx does “not have a masculine look or a heavy appearance” of the type that is now commonly seen in the mainstream combustion-engine vehicles. “It has a light feel and sheer surfaces,” he said. “The exterior is very Japanese in its details – expressive but with purity and an expensive feeling.” Mamoru Aoki has been in charge of Nissan’s Paddington studio for only a few months. He joined Nissan in 1989 and oversaw the design of three Infiniti models, as well as the original 350Z sports car. The first car he was entirely responsible for in his career was the highly regarded Primera Mk1. Also see: Nissan IMx Kuro concept revealed 2018 Nissan Leaf review, test drive Nissan Terra details revealed [...]
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Next-gen BMW M130iX will be an AWD hot hatch
The third-generation BMW 1-series is set to be a turning point for the German carmaker and its launch signifies the company’s front-wheel drive push into high gear in 2019. However, the flagship M130iX M Performance model will be four-wheel drive. The M130iX hot hatch will be a crucial part of the overhaul to front-wheel drive as BMW tries to prove that it can offer a credible front-driven performance model alongside its traditionally successful rear-wheel-drive M cars. Currently in the early stages of development, the BMW M division’s future competitor to the Volkswagen Golf R, Audi S3 and upcoming Mercedes-AMG A35 is scheduled for launch in 2020. It will feature specially tuned version of BMW’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, developing around 304hp, together with a multi-plate-clutch xDrive four-wheel-drive system. BMW controversially halted a long tradition of rear-drive and four-wheel-drive models with the introduction of the 2-series Active Tourer in 2014 and the subsequent launch of the larger 2-series Gran Tourer in 2015. The carmaker now plans to bolster its front-wheel-drive line-up with the new 1-series, which forgoes the longitudinal engine mounting of today’s second-generation model for a space-saving transversely mounted engine. The move is set to provide the new 1-series with a lower kerb weight and improved packaging, together with simplified production processes and greater profitability than its rear-wheel-drive predecessor. The new rival to the Audi A3 is the first model to be based on BMW’s front-wheel-drive FAAR (Frontantriebsarchitektur) platform. According to BMW’s head of development, Klaus Fröhlich, this structure is a progression of the UKL platform that underpins the 2-series Active Tourer and 2-series Gran Tourer, as well as the existing Mini line-up, but with added modularity and the flexibility to support full-electric drivetrain and battery combinations. Despite the switch to BMW’s latest front-wheel-drive platform, the exterior styling of the new 1-series is set to retain the cab-back influences that have distinguished it from rivals since its addition to the BMW line-up in 2004. The new 1-series hatchback will be powered by updated versions of today’s turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder and turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engines. The more powerful versions are planned to adopt a particulate filter in an attempt to reduce CO2 emissions to a model-line-specific average of less than 120g/km, according to BMW engineering sources. BMW has future-proofed the new 1-series by providing it with at least one mild-hybrid drivetrain in the form of a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine fitted with an integrated starter motor and 48V electric system. BMW is also readying a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid variant of its new entry-level hatchback. [...]
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2018 Suzuki Intruder FI launched at Rs 1.07 lakh
Suzuki Motorcycle India Private Limited (SMIPL) has launched the fuel-injected (Fi) version of the Intruder in India. The Japanese two-wheeler giant had showcased the cruiser at the 2018 Auto Expo earlier this year. The new Suzuki Intruder Fi has been priced at Rs 1,06,896; the stock carburettor version retails for Rs 99,995 (both prices, ex-showroom, New Delhi). The new cruiser motorcycle from Suzuki will be offered in two colour options – metallic oort/metallic matt black, and glass sparkle black/metallic matt titanium silver. According to Suzuki, the new fuel-injection system consists of six sensors that calculate the optimum amount of fuel required for better combustion. This not only improves fuel consumption, but also offers better throttle response. Commenting on the launch, Sajeev Rajasekharan, executive vice president, sales and marketing, SMIPL said, “Since its launch, the Intruder has received an overwhelming demand with close to 15,000 units sold, overachieving our projected sales target by 25 percent. With a unique blend of premium appeal, coupled with futuristic features like ABS and now an efficient fuel injection technology, the Intruder is a premium offering in the cruiser segment, unlike any other.” The Suzuki Intruder is based on the Gixxer platform and is the first affordable cruiser from Suzuki for the Indian market. Styling of the new motorcycle is a bit in-your-face and it has received mixed reviews for its design language. It carries forward the same all-digital instrument console as seen on the Gixxer. Powering the Intruder Fi, is the same 155cc, single-cylinder motor as seen on the standard Intruder and, despite the addition of fuel-injection, power and torque figures remain identical at 14.6hp and 14Nm respectively. Transmission duties are handled by a five-speed gearbox. It gets a 41mm telescopic setup up front and a mid-mounted, preload-adjustable monoshock at the rear. The bike has been equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, which come shod with 100-section MRF Nylogrip Zapper up front and a 140-section Zapper at the rear. Anchorage is provided by disc brakes on both ends and single-channel ABS comes as standard. Given its price and positioning, the Suzuki Intruder doesn’t have any real competition in our two-wheeler space and the only motorcycle that comes close with respect to pricing is the Bajaj Avenger 220 series. [...]
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Volkswagen Ameo Cup Car experience: Pure Am(e)ore
Steve McQueen’s iconic line in the movie Le Mans goes, “Racing is life. Everything else is just waiting.” And I’d been waiting a long, long time. Sure, I’ve been part of the odd go-karting slugfest with the guys from the office, but nothing that required me to slip into a full-on race suit, strap on racing boots and sit through a session just on the type of flags used at a race track. I’m at the recently updated MMRT and I’m here to play pro racer for the weekend. Volkswagen is hosting an Ameo Cup round for the media, so the grid is full of familiar faces from our small fraternity. It’s a mixed bag when talking race experience though. Some are discussing racing lines, while others are figuring out the track layout. I’m part of the latter bunch. The Ameo Cup car is no toy. It’s a serious racing machine with a functional rear spoiler, racing slicks, and a track-spec suspension setup. And… it’s powered by a 205hp, 1.8-litre turbo-petrol that’s mated to a six-speed sequential gearbox. I can barely contort my way through the roll cage and I can’t say the racing seat is a match for the comfy chairs on the road-going Ameo either. Claustrophobia hits good and proper when the six-point harness is tightened. Thankfully, we are amidst the week-long winter in Chennai, so it’s more slow burn than blast furnace in the car. Race champ and VW Motorsport’s driver coach Rayomand Banajee advises us to use the Friday practice to get comfy with the car and learn the track layout. But as soon as I’m past the green light at the pit-lane exit, I feel like an energetic dog let off its leash, and just go for it. The car sounds hardcore, is nicely grippy in the bends and has some seriously good brakes on call, too. My gut tells me I’m doing alright. I finish Practice 1 in P2, just a tenth off Carwale’s (and ex-Autocar India’s) Ameya Dandekar’s time. I start wondering if it’s too late to take up racing professionally… I take more risks in Practice 2 and my cleanest laps net me a time half a second quicker than my Practice 1 best; but then it all starts going wrong. I’m penalised for missing the chequered flag that signals the end of the session (rookie mistake, I promise!), and coming in a lap too late. The penalty? I’m to miss the start of my qualifying session. Disaster! The only thing to do is to drive hard and try to make my way past whoever I can to get a proper hot lap in. I manage an overtake or two, but after trailing Top Gear’s Ashok George, impatience kicks in. I’m on the inside of C2, a slowish 90-degree right hander, and I think he’s gone wide – but mid-way through the manoeuvre, he turns in and there’s contact. His car spins on the grass and I know I’ve damaged my car’s steering. As I roll into the pit lane, I’m also informed I’ve been summoned by the stewards who are investigating my little adventure. I’m given the verbal equivalent of a rap on my knuckles and I’m let off with a warning. My best qualifying lap time is a full 4sec off my best in practice, putting me seventh on the grid. Abhik Das from Auto Today, Ameya and Anosh Khumbatta from Car India are the three fastest drivers of the day. Sunday is the big day – it’s race day; and everyone’s eyes tell the same story – everyone is in it to win it. Warm-up lap done with, it’s showtime. The five lights go out… aaand I’ve botched up my start. I’m a moment too late with my launch and I’ve already lost a position before the first corner. This is becoming embarrassing. Then, one car runs wide and I move up the order. Another car goes off a lap later and another position opens up. By lap 3 of 8, I’ve found my groove and make a lunge down the inside of a rival and get by. That thrill of an overtake… it’s a major endorphin release. I’m running in fifth position, now and chasing Ameya, who’s desperate to fight his way up the order after losing two positions following a short-but-costly off-track excursion, early on. He’s making uncharacteristic mistakes, allowing me to chip away at his lead. Soon enough, we also catch up with Anosh who is running third. I’m a prime spectator to the dogfight ahead and the action just intensifies on the last lap. On the third from last corner, the pressure gets to Anosh, he slips up and gifts P3 and P4 to Ameya and me – but it isn’t over, yet. Ameya bungles up the very last corner of the race allowing me to give it a last go. Unfortunately, I don’t have the room and finish just four-tenths behind him at the finish line. Abhik won the race by a massive margin from Ashok who had a quiet race to P2. I don’t have any silverware to show for the weekend but, still – what an experience! This sim [...]
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Six new BMW FWD models to watch out for
The upcoming BMW 1-series is the first of six upcoming models which have been due to switch to new front-wheel-drive underpinnings, called FAAR (Frontantriebsarchitektur). Each of these models will come with either two-wheel or all-wheel drive. We run through what to expect in the list below 1-series hatchback The 1-series hatch is the first model to benefit from the new FAAR platform. Insiders indicate that it will again be offered with the choice of three and five-door layouts. 2-series Gran Turismo Instead of the China-made front-driven 1-series sedan, BMW will offer Europe a FAAR-based model that's likely to be a sedan-cum-hatchback. 2-series Active Tourer BMW’s first dedicated front-wheel-drive model will switch from its existing UKL platform to the new FAAR architecture in 2021. 2-series Gran Tourer The successor to today’s 2-series Gran Tourer is due in 2021. Plans are being made for a more luxurious model with improved comfort and space. iX1 The FAAR platform will play a key role in BMW’s electric car line-up. Pencilled in for 2022 is a junior SUV model conceived as an i3 successor. X1 Having made the switch from rear-wheel drive to BMW’s UKL platform in 2016, it is no surprise that the next-gen X1 will use the FAAR platform. [...]
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Aston Martin-Red Bull F1 to develop mid-engined hypercar
Aston Martin and the Red Bull F1 team are working together to launch a LaFerrari- and McLaren P1-rivalling, mid-engined car. Known as the ‘brother of the Valkyrie’ by its development team, the car is aimed at establishing a new benchmark for hypercars in the £1m (approximately Rs 9 crore) price bracket in around 2021, ahead of any of the established players re-entering the market. Both the LaFerrari and McLaren P1 were launched in 2013 and, while production of both has ceased, such halo cars are typically replaced at extended intervals. The gap between the launch of the Enzo and the LaFerrari was 11 years and, were such a gap repeated, it would mean the Aston-Red Bull car stealing a march on them. While it is loosely termed a hypercar, its performance will be far in excess of any production car previously sold, putting it in a different league to the likes of the LaFerrari and McLaren P1 and even – its makers insist – newer special editions such as the McLaren Senna and potentially the Senna GTR. It is not clear how much the ‘brother of Valkyrie’ and Aston’s upcoming, more mainstream 488-rival – set to launch in 2021 – will share in common beyond their basic layout, but it is expected that the former will launch as a halo product to showcase Aston’s skills in the mid-engined supercar market. Consequently, the ‘brother of Valkyrie’ will likely be sold in extremely limited numbers, in order to add to its desirability. It is likely both cars will use an all-new chassis architecture using a new carbonfibre monocoque and similar aluminium sub-frames, created using the knowhow developed during the manufacture of the Valkyrie. Though Aston boss Andy Palmer declined to confirm on the likely powertrain that will be used by the ‘brother of Valkyrie’, there has been speculation that it could also be used as a halo project to showcase the electrified technology that Aston will bring to market around that time, albeit with a high-performance rather than efficiency focus. As such, collaboration with Mercedes’ AMG arm is possible, as is an extension of the working relationship with Cosworth, which is developing the 1,000+hp 6.5-litre V12 in the Valkyrie. Either way, it is likely to use a V8 configuration. [...]
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550hp Velar SVR to be the quickest Range Rover to date
The carmaker has created its quickest SVR model yet by squeezing in a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 into the Velar. The Velar SVR – as the car is expected to be named – will go on sale in October as a potential rival to the BMW X6 M. The newest SVR mixes Land Rover's off-road ability with savage performance. Sources at our sister publication, Autocar UK, confirm that this hot Velar test car is using a 5.0-litre V8. It's likely that us motor is Jaguar Land Rover's most prevalent supercharged motor in the same form as the Range Rover Sport SVR, producing 550hp and 680Nm of torque and giving the Velar SVR the ability to get from 0-100kph in around 4.2sec. Even though the Velar SVR – which has most recently been spotted testing at the Nürburgring – will be cheapest model so far, from JLR's Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) high-performance division, it is also likely to rank as the quickest, due to its smaller size and lighter weight. The aluminium-based Velar will receive a host of SVR weight-saving measures to bring its kerb weight down to about 1,800kg. Admittedly, that does not make it a featherweight but it would be a significant 465kg lighter than the X6 M and close to 500kg less than the Range Rover Sport SVR. SVO's engineers are still finalising the car's chassis set-up. This will include new performance settings for the air suspension – including a firmer, sportier mode designed for enthusiastic driving. Beneath the camouflage, the test car’s rear bumper looks to have gained a diffuser between two new exhaust exits and it also has new, lighter wheels. Along with the BMW X6 M, the Velar SVR has another rival (and a stable mate), which is due to arrive in June – the Jaguar F-Pace SVR. That car is expected to get the same V8 albeit in a more potent F-Type SVR specification, producing 575hp and an acceleration of 0-100kph in less than 4.0sec. Despite their similarities, the SVR F-Pace and Velar will each focus on slightly different areas of the market. The Jaguar will prioritise on-road performance and the Velar will retain more of its off-road ability. While there is no word on Land Rover bringing the Velar SVR to the country, the India-spec model is sold with a 184hp, 2.0-litre petrol, a 179hp, 2.0-litre diesel and a 300hp, 3.0-litre diesel engine. Prices range between Rs 78.873 lakh and Rs 1.37 crore (ex-showroom, India). Also see: 2018 Range Rover Velar India review, test drive 2018 Range Rover Velar video review [...]
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2018 TVS Apache RTR 160 4V vs rivals: Specifications comparison
The TVS Apache RTR 160 4V has just debuted with a number of impressive specifications. The Apache RTR 160 used to exist at the lower section of the 160 segment, but this update has made it a more premium machine. In this spec comparison, we’re going to compare the TVS with the two other latest entrants in the 160cc segment – the Honda X-Blade 160 and the Bajaj Pulsar NS 160. Here is how the three compare on paper. Design and style The RTR 160’s overall styling is heavily inspired from the RTR 200; it features a similar tank, headlight, tail-light, instrumentation and even turn-indicators. The RTR 160 also features a similar ‘shotgun’ exhaust design. On the other hand, Honda has positioned the X-Blade to attract youngsters and millennials, and for this purpose, it has adopted a very aggressive design language. The basic silhouette is reminiscent of the Honda CB Hornet 160R, but the company’s designers have given it sharper panels to increase its visual appeal. Like the X-Blade, the Bajaj Pulsar NS160 also shares the style of its bigger brother, the NS200, and that means handsome lines, an underslung exhaust and split grab rails. Honda’s X-blade however, is the only bike in its segment to feature an all-LED headlight. Engines and performance TVS didn’t shy awake from making it evident that its newest bike, the Apache RTR 160 4V has segment-leading power figures. The 159.7cc oil-cooled motor makes an impressive 16.8hp on the fuel-injected model (16.5hp on the carburettor model) and 14.8Nm of torque (on both models). This gives it a power to weight ratio of 115.38hp/tonne on the carburetted rear drum variant and 114.28hp/tonne on the heavier, fuel injected/ rear disc variant. This is where Honda’s new X-Blade 160 loses out the most; the Honda’s 162.7cc motor only produces 13.9hp and 13.9Nm of torque, resulting in the lowest power to weight ratio (99.28hp/tonne) of the three. The 15.5hp/14.6Nm NS160 fares quite well in this comparison; it manages to come in closely behind the RTR 160 4V with a power to weight ratio of 109.15hp/tonne. Of the three, the Honda gets only two valves per cylinder, while both the TVS and Bajaj feature four valves per cylinder.xx PowertrainTVS Apache RTR 160 4VHonda X-Blade 160Bajaj Pulsar NS160TypeOil-cooled, single-cylinderAir-cooled, single-cylinderOil-cooled, single cylinderDisplacement159.7cc162.7cc160.3ccValvetrain4-valve, SOHC2-valve, SOHC4-valve, SOHCFuellingCarburetor/Fuel-injectionCarburetorCarburetorPower16.5hp (16.8hp*) at 8000rpm13.9hp at 8500rpm15.5hp at 8500rpmTorque14.8Nm at 6500rpm13.9Nm at 6000rpm14.6Nm at 6500rpmPower to weight ratio115.38hp/tonne, 113.79hp/tonne#, 114.28hp/tonne*99.28hp/tonne109.15hp/tonne *Figures for fuel-injected variant #Figure for front and rear disc variant (carburetor) Chassis and brakes This is where all three motorcycles are quite similar; all three feature a conventional front fork and a monoshock at the rear. Handling braking duties on all three bikes is a disc up front and a drum at the rear, however, the RTR 160 can be optioned with a rear disc. All three motorcycles miss out on ABS. The similarities don’t end there; all three bikes have an identical fuel tank capacity of 12 litres. They are also very close in terms of weight; the X-Blade is the lightest at 140kg, followed by the NS160 at 142kg. The Apache RTR 160 is the heaviest at 143kg/145kg/147kg decided by the variant of choice. The Apache has the highest ground clearance of 180mm, which is closely followed by the NS160 at 176mm. The X-Blade sits considerably lower at 160mm. In an unusual twist, if you opt for an RTR 160 with a rear drum brake, you’ll get a slimmer 110/80-17 section tyre, whereas rear disc models come equipped with a 130/70-17 rear tyre.  DimensionsTVS Apache RTR 160 4VHonda X-Blade 160Bajaj Pulsar NS160Suspension (F/R)Telescopic fork/monoshockTelescopic fork/monoshockTelescopic fork/monoshockBrakes (F/R)Disc-drum/Disc-DiscDisc-drumDisc-drumTyres (F/R)90/90-17 / 110/80-17 or 130/70-17*#80/100-17 / 130/70-1780/100-17 / 110/80-17Fuel tank capacity12 litres12 litres12 litresKerb weight143kg/145kg#/147kg*140kg142kgWheelbase1357mm1347mm1363mm *Figures for fuel-injected variant #Figure for front and rear disc variant (carburetor) Pricing All three motorcycles are priced closely, within a few thousands of each other. The most affordable one here is the Honda X-Blade 160 at Rs 78,500. The Apache RTR 160 4V will set you back Rs 81,490 (carb with front disc) or Rs 84,490 (carb with front and rear disc) or Rs 89,990 (fuel-injected with front and rear disc). The Bajaj Pulsar NS160 is priced very closely to the base variant of the Apache at Rs 81,626 (all prices ex-showroom Delhi). Which one of these bikes presents the best deal? Let us know what you think in the comments below.  Also see: 2018 TVS Apache RTR 160 4V image gallery 2018 TVS&nb [...]
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2018 Audi A6: 5 things you need to know
Officially revealed towards the end of last month, the all-new Audi A6 made its global debut at the 2018 Geneva motor show. A key model in Audi's line-up, there's plenty that has changed on the new A6. Here are the five most important things you need to know about it: It's all-new Don't be deceived by the new A6's appearance. While it may not be much of a departure from its predecessor design-wise, this really is an all-new car. The face is dominated by the Matrix LED headlamps, Audi's trademark Singleframe grille and enlarged air intakes. Now in its eighth-generation, the A6 has also grown in size. It's 7mm longer at 4,939mm, 12mm wider at 1,886mm, and 2mm taller at 1,457mm than the outgoing A6, and to that effect, also has more interior space. Audi claims there is more headroom, shoulder room and rear leg room than before. And though boot space stays the same at 530 litres, the carmaker says the boot has a wider aperture and can accommodate two golf bags horizontally.  It's loaded with tech You'd expect an Audi to be loaded with the latest in the world of in-car technology and the A6 promises to not disappoint on that front. The interior borrows heavily from the new A8's, and Audi is positioning its infotainment system as a key selling point for the A6, describing it as a “futuristic operating concept.” There are two central touchscreens, both 8.6-inches as standard, with a 10.1-inch upper screen available as an option. The system, known as MMI, allows vehicle functions, shortcuts and favourite buttons to be dragged and dropped, akin to a smartphone. The new navigation includes a self-learning function based on driven routes, which generates intelligent search suggestions. For example, the system knows your daily route to work and will suggest another way if it knows there has been an accident. The navigation system also uses vehicle-to-vehicle technology with other Audis for traffic and hazard information. It has autonomous driving capabilities, but... With self-driving cars becoming all the rage globally, Audi has equipped the new A6 with autonomous driving functionality. Among the 37 driving assistance systems, there is the Level 3 autonomous driving system introduced on last year’s A8, but there's a catch. Although the technology is available, the A6 faces the same issue as the A8: the legislation is not yet in place to allow the use of Level 3 autonomous systems on a public road unless it is for manufacturer testing. The likelihood of this feature making it to India isn't high. It'll have a set of mild-hybrid powertrains Globally, Audi will offer the new A6 with mild-hybrid engines only – much like the recently launched A7 – and is likely to later offer a plug-in hybrid as ‘bridge technology’ to pure electric. For now, the new A6 will be offered with four engine options that include a 3.0-litre V6 TFSI petrol and three diesels – a 2.0-litre TDI and a 3.0-litre TDI in two states of tune. The 3.0 TFSI and 2.0-litre TDI use a 48V electrical system, which has a lithium ion battery positioned in the rear axle and a starter/generator at the front of the car. This mild-hybrid system switches off the engine and cruises between speeds of 55kph and 160kph. When decelerating, it switches off the engine between 6kph and 22kph. The two 3.0-litre TDI powertrains use a 12V electrical system that does not offer these features. It's coming to India The outgoing A6 has been left far behind by its rivals-in-chief, the Mercedes-Benz E-class and BMW 5-series, and so, Audi will bring in the new one early in 2019. While a diesel engine will be on offer, we expect the focus to be on the petrol-powered variants, in keeping with Audi's new powertrain strategy. [...]
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2018 Volkswagen Polo vs rivals: Specifications comparison
The Volkswagen Polo has been around for a long time, and now, in a bid to make it appeal more to efficiency-oriented buyers, VW has equipped its hatchback with a smaller, 1.0-litre MPI petrol engine. As before, Polo buyers also have the option of a DSG gearbox-equipped 1.2-litre turbo-petrol version as well as a 1.5 diesel model. Time to see how it sizes up against its rivals - the Maruti Suzuki Swift and the Hyundai Grand i10 - on paper. Exteriors At 3,971mm, the Polo is the longest of the three, but the new Swift is both wider and taller. With kerb weight pegged at 1,015kg for the base petrol all the way up to 1,163kg for the top-spec diesel, the Polo is heavier than the Grand i10, and significantly heavier than the Swift, which weighs between 855kg and 985kg. Also, now just two years away from completing a full decade in India, the Polo, while still a smart-looking car, is now starting to show its age in the face of newer competition. DimensionsVolkswagen PoloMaruti SwiftHyundai Grand i10Length3971mm3840mm3765mmWidth1682mm1735mm1660mmHeight1469mm1530mm1520mmWheelbase2469mm2450mm2425mmTyre size175/70 R14, 185/60 R15165/80 R14, 185/65 R15165/65 R14Boot space294 litres268 litres256 litresKerb weight1015-1163kg855-985kg1066-1093kgFuel tank capacity45 litres37 litres45 litres Interiors The VW and Hyundai get black and beige interiors, while the Maruti's insides are done up entirely in black. Despite being the longest car (and the one with the biggest wheelbase) here, the Polo doesn't exactly excel at interior space, and it is the Swift that is the most spacious of the lot. That said, the Polo has the biggest boot, at 294 litres. Like the Swift, the Polo gets ABS and two airbags as standard on even the base variant. The Grand i10, meanwhile, gets ABS only in its top two trims. Engine, gearbox and performance Volkswagen has replaced the Polo's 1.2-litre MPI petrol engine with a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder example making 76hp (1hp more than the 1.2) and 95Nm of torque, which is 15Nm less than the 1.2. In comparison, the Grand i10 and Swift both come with a 1.2-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, with the Grand i10's making 83hp and 114Nm, and the Swift's developing 83hp and 115Nm. The Polo's smaller engine is 18kg lighter than the 1.2, and at a claimed 18.78kpl, more efficient as well. However, it's still not close to the Grand i10 (19.7kpl) and the Swift (22kpl). Bearing in mind the heft of the Polo, the drop in torque may negatively impact its performance. When it comes to the diesels, the Polo's 1.5-litre, four-cylinder unit is the biggest, most powerful here: it makes 90hp and 230Nm of torque, beating the Swift's 1.3-litre diesel (75hp, 190Nm) and the Grand i10's 1.2-litre, three-cylinder engine (75hp, 190Nm). All three models are offered with automatic transmissions, though only the Swift is available with the option in both petrol and diesel form, albeit a relatively basic but efficient AMT setup. The Hyundai Grand i10 petrol comes with the option of a torque converter while the automatic version of the Polo uses a 105hp, 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine mated to a sophisticated seven-speed dual clutch transmission. PowertrainVolkswagen PoloMaruti SwiftHyundai Grand i10Engines3-cyl petrol, 4-cyl turbo-petrol/ 4-cyl diesel4-cyl petrol/ 4-cyl diesel4-cyl petrol/ 3-cyl dieselDisplacement999cc, 1197cc/1498cc1197cc/1248cc1197cc/1120ccTransmissions5-speed manual, 7-speed DSG/5-speed manual5-speed manual, 5-speed AMT5-speed manual, 4-speed auto/ 5-speed manualPower76hp/90hp83hp/75hp83hp/75hpTorque95Nm/230Nm115Nm/190Nm114Nm/190NmARAI fuel efficiency18.78kpl/20.14kpl22kpl/28.4kpl19.7kpl/23kpl Pricing Despite introducing a smaller engine, Volkswagen hasn't cut the Polo's price, so it still starts at Rs 5.41 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), which is about Rs 41,000 more than the base Swift petrol, and close to Rs 70,000 more than the entry-level Grand i10 petrol. The Polo 1.0 petrol-manual range closes out at Rs 7.24 lakh for the Highline Plus, a mere Rs 5,000 less than the fully-loaded Swift ZXi+, and Rs 71,000 more than the top-spec Grand i10 Asta. The hot GT petrol version of the Polo, the TSI, is priced at Rs 9.19 lakh. The gap widens when you bring diesel into the picture. At Rs 6.92 lakh, the base Polo diesel is almost a lakh more expensive than the others. At Rs 8.78 lakh, the top-of-the-line Polo Highline Plus is nearly Rs 50,000 dearer than the Swift ZDi+, and Rs 1.27 lakh more than the Grand i10 Asta CRDi. With the more powerful GT TDI, the gap widens even further, as it costs Rs 9.33 lakh. (All prices ex-showroom, Delhi) [...]
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Morgan Aero GT revealed at Geneva motor show
British carmaker Morgan has revealed its Aero GT model at the Geneva motor show. The sportscar will be the company’s final Aero model and only eight units of the special GT variant will be built. It will also be the last car to use BMW’s long-standing N62 V8 engine. Having powered Morgan’s Aero since it launched in 2000, the naturally aspirated 4.8-litre unit, which hasn’t been used in a BMW since 2010, will also bow out in its most potent form. Producing 372hp and 490Nm of torque, the V8 is linked to a BMW six-speed manual gearbox that delivers drive to the rear wheels. It can accelerate the 1,182kg Aero GT to 100kph in 4.5sec and a top speed of 273kph. The bespoke variant gets aggressive aerodynamic features inspired by Morgan’s 2009 GT3 racing car. Most noticeable of which is the larger rear diffuser that’s said to lower pressure at the rear to push the car into the ground at speed. There are also several other smaller aerodynamic parts, including a pair of canards on the nose and extra louvre vents, that help to reduce air pressure over the body. Every panel is sculpted by hand. The car retains the Aero 8’s aluminium chassis and adjustable suspension, but gains the option of a carbonfibre hard top in place of the standard soft top. This covers a hand-finished interior featuring painted stitching and pinstriping along with wood trim made from wood. Also see: 2018 Geneva motor show image gallery [...]
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2018 F1 test two: Raikkonen quickest on final day
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen ended the final day of Barcelona Formula 1 testing with the fastest time. Raikkonen's morning effort of 1m17.221s was not threatened in the final afternoon of pre-season running, although a spate of late runs in the final hour did shake up the order behind the Finn. Daniel Ricciardo was the first to make a big move with 45 minutes of the session to go, jumping up to second in the Red Bull on supersofts, before he was usurped by both Carlos Sainz Jr and Fernando Alonso. Sainz did not get his day going properly until around two hours were left, after Renault had to replace his RS18's gearbox, but went second fastest with 30 minutes to run, on hypersofts. But the Spaniard was beaten to the runner-up spot before the end of the day by compatriot Alonso, who was making up for lost time after a turbo issue caused the McLaren to stop on track in the morning and lose over five hours while its Renault power unit was changed. Using hypersofts, Alonso posted a 1m17.981s to go second and then improved to a 1m17.784s to end the day 0.563 seconds slower than Raikkonen. Alonso did briefly jump to the top of the times in the final 10 minutes, but had his lap deleted for cutting the final chicane. He ended the day with a total of 93 laps to his name. Romain Grosjean was the day's most productive runner for Haas with a tally of 181 laps, the best of which was good enough for fifth-fastest behind Ricciardo using ultrasofts. Valtteri Bottas took over testing duties from Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the afternoon, going sixth fastest on mediums and giving the champion outfit a combined session-topping total of 201 laps. After his morning spin, Charles Leclerc used hypersofts to move up to ninth in the Sauber behind Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso) and Force India's Esteban Ocon. Sergey Sirotkin (Williams) completed the top 10 after handing over to Lance Stroll for the final few hours, with the Canadian again setting the slowest of the day behind Hamilton using softs. Test two, day four times POS DRIVER CAR TIME GAP LAPS 1 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m17.221s - 157 2 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m17.784s 0.563s 93 3 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m18.092s 0.871s 45 4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m18.327s 1.106s 92 5 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m18.412s 1.191s 181 6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m18.825s 1.604s 104 7 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1m18.949s 1.728s 156 8 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m18.967s 1.746s 163 9 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m19.118s 1.897s 75 10 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m19.189s 1.968s 105 11 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m19.464s 2.243s 97 12 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m19.954s 2.733s 27   [...]
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Budget impact: Volvo to hike prices by up to 5 percent
Swedish carmaker Volvo, today, announced that it will hike prices for all its models in India by up to 5 percent. The move follows the government's decision to increase the customs duty on completely knocked-down (CKD) kits and fully-imported vehicles in the Union Budget 2018. In a media release today, the carmaker said it will be unable to absorb the higher costs and the price hike, to be effective from this month, will be applicable on new stock yet to be cleared by customs.  In the Union Budget announced on Feb 1, 2018, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed a customs duty hike on imported engine components from 7.5/10 percent to 15 percent, and an increase in the duty on the vehicle parts that are an element of the CKD kits – from 10 percent to 15 percent. Additionally, he proposed a rate hike on one section of customs duty on Completely Built Unit (CBU) from 20 percent to 25 percent. Volvo India currently assembles only the XC90 SUV locally at Volvo Trucks’ plant near Bengaluru. The rest of the vehicles in its model range are sold as CBUs or full imports. Charles Frump, MD, Volvo Car India said the increase in duty came as a surprise and will have a short term impact on the automobile industry. He further called for subsidies on hybrids as they act as a stepping stone in the transition to full electrics. “What I would have liked to see is a much needed incentive for hybrids and plug-in hybrids as these solutions have an immediate impact on the environment. Volvo Cars' vision is aligned with the Indian government’s vision of going full electric but till we get to full electric, the interim is hybrids," Frump said in a company statement. In a similar move, Czech brand Skoda had recently announced an increase in prices across its product range in India, from March 2018. Also see: Volvo CEO teases next-gen S60 Volvo XC40 debuts new three-cylinder engine 2017 Volvo XC40 video review [...]
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2018 TVS Apache RTR 160 to debut on March 14
TVS is expected to launch the thoroughly updated 2018 Apache RTR 160 on March 14. As the spy images suggest, the new RTR 160 will feature styling that is more in line with the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V. The bike will also get a considerable amount of mechanical changes. The RTR 160 has received consecutive cosmetic updates since its launch over a decade ago, but the bike has never been thoroughly updated. This new version, which will launch in less than a week’s time, is expected to change that. With an overall styling heavily inspired from the RTR 200, it features a similar tank, headlight, tail-light, instrumentation and even turn indicators. The RTR 160 will also feature a similar ‘shotgun’ exhaust design as on the RTR 200. However, the RTR 160 does feature a different centre panel and a single-piece seat, unlike the split unit seen on the RTR 200. The bike was also spotted riding on differently designed alloy wheels. The RTR 160 will also use a new frame that will be paired to a mono-shock for the first time, replacing the outgoing twin shock absorbers. The images also reveal that the new bike's air-cooled engine also gets oil cooling for better heat management. We expect the new engine to be significantly more refined than the previous 159.7cc unit, with a bump in power and torque also expected over the outgoing 15.1hp and 13Nm. Unlike the Apache RTR 200, which has a slightly sporty riding position owing to the clip-on handlebars, the upcoming RTR 160 will feature a conventional handlebar for a more comfortable riding position. The bike spotted testing was also equipped with a disc brake at the front and a drum brake at the rear. However, like the current-gen model, we expect TVS to offer a rear disc brake as an option. We expect this upcoming 2018 RTR 160 to be priced slightly higher than the outgoing models that currently retail for Rs 78,215 (front disc and rear drum) and Rs 80,544 (front and rear disc) (both prices, ex-showroom, Delhi). In terms of rivals, the motorcycle is a direct competitor to the soon-to-be-launched Honda X-Blade, the Yamaha SZ-RR and the Hero Xtreme Sports. [...]
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Hyundai Le Fil Rouge concept revealed at Geneva motor show
Hyundai revealed its Le Fil Rouge concept car at the Geneva motor show as the blueprint for the brand's future design direction. The new theme, named Sensuous Sportiness and was first applied to the Kona, Nexo and Santa Fe SUVs which came with 'cascading' grilles and wide bonnets. The design theme is claimed to exhibit harmonised proportion, architecture, styling, and technology. “Our goal is to build Hyundai into a beloved brand by creating vehicles with heightened emotional value," said the company's head of styling, Sang Yup Lee. Le Fil Rouge translates from French to 'common thread' and the concept's design is said to reflect Hyundai’s belief that the brand’s past, present and future designs are all connected. "The concept is a reinterpretation of Hyundai’s design DNA that originated from the Coupé concept of 1974,” said Luc Donckerwolke, head of design. This wedge-shaped car was penned by Italdesign and previewed Hyundai's first-ever model, the Pony. The integrated pillars and swept look of the Le Fil Rouge, along with the long wheelbase and short overhangs, are said to imbue the five-door coupé with a 'dynamic' look. Hyundai describes the frame of the interior as a 'tube architecture' that reflects the exterior profile of the car. The company claims the car's four-seat cabin is designed to give a calm, spacious and comfortable travel environment, with ample legroom for passengers, and a driver's seat that's optimised for ergonomics. Features on the concept include an aviation-inspired two-way air- conditioning system and trims made from revitalised wood. Infotainment duties are handled by a panoramic display with haptic feedback for the driver, while rear passengers each get a touchscreen. The interior is divided by a 'floating' wrap-around central console that extends from the dashboard back to the rear seat bench, like in the new Range Rover SV Coupé. Hyundai's Sensuous Sportiness theme takes over from Fluid Sculpture, which was introduced with the Sonata sedan in 2009. Also see: 2018 Geneva motor show image gallery [...]
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Registrations open for 2018 Women's One Make Championship
TVS has announced the training and selection for the 2018 TVS Women’s One Make championship. The qualifiers will be held across two rounds in Bengaluru and Mumbai, respectively, later this month. The Bengaluru round will be held at Meco Kartopia on March 17, while the Mumbai round will be held at a makeshift track to be set-up in the parking lot of Carnival Cinemas, Wadala on March 25. Entries for the training and selection will be free of cost and the only required document will be a riding license. However, riders are required to carry their own DOT and ECE-certified full-face helmets with double-D ring belt buckles. TVS will provide limited racing suits and gear on first come basis. There is no age limit. Harry Sylvester, K Jagan Kumar, K Y Ahmed, S Kannan and Aishwarya Pissay will comprise of the trainers there to help the participants out. Results will be announced immediately and the 10 fastest riders from each city will then face off at a final selection round which will be held at a later date at the Madras Motor Race Track, in Chennai. The 2018 National Motorcycle Racing season commences in June and is scheduled to feature five rounds of racing. Interested candidates can register here Also see: TVS Apache RTR 200 4V Race Edition 2.0 launched at Rs 95,185   [...]
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New BMW Concept M8 Gran Coupe showcased at Geneva
BMW has previewed the bold styling of a new luxurious four-door 8-series at the Geneva motor show. The new concept is set to sit at the top of the company's line-up from the latter half of 2019. Now called the Concept M8 Gran Coupe, the car has been planned to merge both two-door coupé and convertible designs in a three-model strong 8-series line-up. The upcoming production version of the BMW's new car aims to be the British carmaker's entry into the same exclusive market segment occupied by the likes of Aston Martin with the DB11, Bentley with the Continental GT and Mercedes-AMG with its new GT four-door Coupe. BMW’s decision to resurrect the 8-series comes after an announcement by Chairman Harald Krüger to position the brand further upmarket, giving it a more luxurious slant to its current premium positioning. “The 8-series will be the next model in the expansion of our luxury car offering and will raise the benchmark in the segment,” said Krüger. “It will demonstrate that sharp dynamics and modern luxury go hand in hand, in a process strengthening our claim to leadership in the class.” The arrival of the Concept M8 Gran Coupe follows the unveiling of the Concept 8-series Coupe at last year’s Villa D’Este concours d’elegance in Como, Italy; as well as the unleashing of an M8 Coupe prototype during a promotional event at the 2017 Nürburgring 24-hour endurance race in Germany. Together with the yet-to-be-revealed concept of the 8-series Cabriolet, the production versions of the three new 8-series models are planned to be sold with a range of petrol engines – including a base turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder as well as standard and M division derivatives of the German car maker’s turbocharged 4.4-litre V8. At the very top of the range, there will be a twin-turbocharged 6.6-litre V12 unit, which already does duty in the plush M760i xDrive. Setting the scene for the arrival of the successor to today’s 6-series Gran Coupe, the Concept M8 Gran Coupe previews the dramatic look the future four-door range-topping BMW model will take into showrooms. Although billed as a concept, BMW officials have revealed to our sister publication, Autocar UK, that the new car is closer to production readiness than the earlier Concept 8-series. It receives a bold-looking front end featuring a prominent front bumper assembly with a trio of sizeable air ducts, a new interpretation of BMW’s traditional kidney grille that is joined in the middle. It also features upturned outer edges similar in treatment to the recently introduced X2, angular headlights with distinctive LED graphics and a long, flowing bonnet. Further back, the Concept M8 Gran Coupe adopts the same detailing and surfacing treatment unveiled on its two-door concept car sibling. The so-called air breather is positioned behind the front wheel houses, the lower part of the doors gets a deep undercut and the car also gets a prominent sill treatment. The cabin of the new BMW is set well back, within the wheelbase and receives a heavily rounded roofline and a fixed B-pillar as part of a shallow six-window glasshouse that tapers back towards the rear. The heavily concaved doors are frameless, with rear doors extending generously over the rear wheel houses for ease of entry into the back seat. At the rear, the Concept M8 Gran Coupe has a flowing C-pillar, a heavily sloping rear screen and a high-set boot deck that will feature on the production version of the 8-series Gran Coupe. Also included is an aggressive-looking bumper and quad-exhaust pipe treatment which is planned to be adopted by the performance-oriented M8 version of the new four-door luxury model. Domagoj Dukec, Vice President of BMW M design said, “The Concept M8 Gran Coupe is designed to stir things up, to polarise. With this car, we want to reach people who are looking to stand out from the crowd.”   [...]
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Mercedes-AMG GT 4-door Coupe revealed at Geneva
Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance car division has lifted the veil on its latest production model: the GT 4-door Coupé.   The top-of-the-line GT63 S 4Matic+ pictured here is powered by a 639hp twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine, which is capable of propelling the car to 100kph from rest in just 3.2sec and on to a top speed of 315kph.   The GT 4-door Coupé follows the SLS Coupé and Roadster and the GT Coupé and Roadster as the fifth dedicated model from Mercedes-AMG.   The ‘4-door Coupé’ component of its name suggests that it is a saloon-cum-coupé model in the mould of the mechanically similar Mercedes CLS. However, it does in fact take inspiration from the existing GT Coupé by featuring a fastback-style tailgate. That design is integral to providing the new AMG model with the sort of practicality that the company’s chairman, Tobias Moers, says allows it to deliver a “high level of day-to-day suitability”.   The GT 4-door Coupé will be offered with the choice of two petrol engines from the outset. One is Mercedes’ new 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder unit with a mild-hybrid system in the GT53 4Matic+. The other is AMG’s 4.0-litre V8 which, in line with other AMG models, will be available in two separate states of tune in the GT63 4Matic+ and GT63 S 4Matic+.   As their names suggest, all three models in the line-up feature as standard a fully variable four-wheel- drive system, as revealed on the latest E63 4Matic+, along with a nine-speed automatic gearbox.   The basis for the first ever four-door fastback from AMG is Mercedes-Benz’s MRA platform. A large proportion of its underpinnings, including its chassis, as well as its electrical architecture, is shared directly with the recently unveiled third-generation CLS and the latest E-Class.   Despite the GT 4-door Coupé’s mechanical similarities to the CLS and E-Class, AMG has brought its own unique touches to it. For instance, it has a longer front end with a larger engine bay to house a range of different powerplants, including the company’s signature V8 petrol unit, which has been denied the new CLS due to what AMG’s engineers cite as packaging reasons.   In the GT53 4Matic+, the new model receives a 48V electrical system. This is used to operate an electric motor that recovers kinetic energy under braking and during periods of off-throttle coasting as part of a range of so-called EQ Boost powertrains.   The recuperated energy is stored in a lithium ion battery and can be used to enhance performance through an electric boost function, as on the CLS53 4Matic. However, unlike the more advanced plug-in hybrid EQ Power system recently introduced to the S560e, it cannot propel the new AMG model on electric power alone.   The well-received styling of the GT 4-door concept car revealed at last year’s Geneva motor show has been brought over to the production version of the new GT 4-door Coupé with only minor changes.   Certain cues are borrowed from the GT Coupé and Roadster in order to establish an AMG family look, most notably around the front and rear ends. However, the body of the new car is described as being unique, sharing no panel or element with any another existing Mercedes-AMG model.   Design boss Gordon Wagener said: “The GT 4-door Coupé embodies the most extreme expression of our design idiom and underlines the autonomous profile of AMG as a performance brand.”   The car’s silhouette is dominated by a long bonnet that’s set low and extends well aft of prominent front wheel housings in what Wagner calls the “most aggressive dashboard-to-wheel” treatment yet seen on a four-seat Mercedes model.   In a reflection of their common platform and similar underpinnings, the GT 4-door Coupé and CLS share the same 2939mm wheelbase. However, the new AMG model is longer, lower and wider than the CLS.   The interior has its own unique styling touches and four-seat layout. Among its main features is a new interpretation of Mercedes’ Widescreen Cockpit, with dual high-definition displays for the instruments and infotainment functions housed within a single panel set in a high- positioned dashboard.   In a move that provides clear links to the GT Coupé and Roadster, the GT 4-door Coupé also receives a wide centre console and high-set central tunnel that runs back through its luxuriously trimmed cabin.   Occupants in the front sit on heavily padded sport seats similar to those used by the E63 but set significantly lower for a sportier feel. The low rear seats, meanwhile, are claimed to offer greater head room than the E63’s.   The entry point to the new line-up is the GT53 4Matic+. It runs the s [...]
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CBU motorcycles will not get cheaper by 25 percent
More affordable CBU bikes! Three weeks ago, the government made a shock announcement that it was reducing import customs on motorcycles above 800cc by up to 25 percent. This effectively lowered the rate from 75 percent to 50 percent. Naturally, this came as exceptionally good news to enthusiasts whose dreams of owning a proper big bike had been swept aside for years on account of the government’s crippling tax structure. Suddenly everyone’s cerebral calculator was whirring away, as a neat 25 percent was carved away from those constant mental forecasts of down-payments and loans. Wait, shouldn’t they be even cheaper? Soon after, BMW Motorrad was the first to announce price cuts across its range on account of the new tax structure. The price drops varied from model to model, but the maximum offered was about a 10 percent reduction. Harley-Davidson followed suit a few days later, and a few quick stabs at the keys of that trusty mental calculator revealed that, here too, the drops were between 7 and 11.8 percent. This led to feedback from many of our readers, stating they were unhappy with the fact that the manufacturers were seemingly not fully sharing the rewards with customers. But here’s the thing. More manufacturers will reveal their updated prices in a few days and almost all of them will be in the same ballpark. The reason for this is that the tax structure on imported vehicles in India is such that customs duty only forms a part. What we’ve got below are two tables showing the tax structure that would apply to a motorcycle being imported into India as a CBU under the previous tax structure and the new one. Let’s crunch some numbers For this calculation, we have assumed a motorcycle with an assessable price tag of Rs 5 lakh. This is the hypothetical price of the bike abroad and all applicable duties, taxes, surcharges and cesses will be applied on this number. Now, in the tables below, you will also notice that there are different cess and surcharges under the old and new structures. That’s because the government used to charge a 2 percent 'Educational Cess' and a 1 percent 'Secondary and Higher Education Cess', Both of which were charged on the Basic Custom Duty amount (the amount of duty charged on the assessable price). So, in the first table, at the previous rate of 75 percent, the Basic Custom Duty charge on a motorcycle costing Rs 5 lakh was Rs 3.75 lakh. The collective 3 percent of both the cesses was charged on this amount of Rs 3.75 lakh. However, in the recent 2018 budget, the government abolished the previous two educational cesses and replaced them with a new 'Social Welfare Surcharge' that was pegged at a much higher 10 percent. Removing 3 percent and adding 10 percent means you now have an additional 7 percent surcharge on the Basic Customs Duty. But that’s not all. A huge hike in the price comes from IGST, or Integrated GST, which is charged at 28 percent on the combined value of the original assessable value (Rs 5 lakh) as well as the Base Customs Duty that applies on the assessable value and even all applicable cesses and surcharges.  With that out of the way, let’s have a look at those tables: Previous CBU tax structureTax*PercentageAmountAssessible value5,00,000Basic Customs Duty: (Ass. Value)* BCD %75%3,75,000 Customs Educational CESS: (BCD)* Cess %2%7,500Cus Sec & High Edu. CESS:(BCD)* Cess %1%3,750IGST Duty: (Ass. Value+BCD+SWS)* IGST %28%2,48,150 Total tax6,34,400 Landed cost11,34,400 New CBU tax structureTax*PercentageAmountAssessible value5,00,000Basic Customs Duty: (Ass. Value)* BCD %50%2,50,000 Social Welfare Surcharge: (BCD)* SWS %10%25,000 IGST Duty: (Ass. Value+BCD+SWS)* IGST %28%2,17,000Total tax4,92,000 Landed cost9,92,000 Difference in landed cost1,42,400 (13%) *HS Code 8711 A quick study of the tables reveals that the landed cost of the CBU motorcycle in India now works out to be about 13 percent lower. Naturally, the final cost to customers will vary a little from manufacturer to manufacturer. This could depend on a number of factors, including how the manufacturers plan to spread the cuts across their range. They could also use this price change as an opportunity to adjust for rising costs in terms of transport, etc that may have occurred over time but haven’t been accounted in the motorcycle’s price. In conclusion, that’s essentially how the numbers add up to show that a 25 percent reduction in import duty only results in a 10 percent or thereabouts decrease in price for the customer. Still, we aren’t complaining and we welcome more such reforms with open arms! Also see: Import duties on performance bikes reduced Budget 2018 impact: Locally assembled bikes to become dearer Hot new bikes for 2018 [...]
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Skoda Vision X SUV concept revealed ahead of Geneva debut
After a series of teasers, Skoda has taken the wraps off the Vision X SUV ahead of its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show 2018. Based on the same version of the Volkswagen Group MQB platform as the Seat Arona and Volkswagen T-Roc, the new production model will be the third in Skoda’s SUV line, underneath the India-bound Karoq and the already-on-sale Kodiaq. The Geneva concept’s innovative powertrain is designed to bring focus to the way increasingly tightening regulations on CO2 emissions in the European Union are set. At the moment, CO2 emissions of a car are determined purely by its exhaust output; this doesn’t take into account ‘well to wheel’ calculations of CO2 created during the production of energy. The CNG hybrid system in the Vision X features a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine that runs on CNG and drives the front axle with 127hp and 249Nm of torque. The engine is supported by two electric motors: a belt-driven starter-generator that also powers the front axle, with a second 26.6hp electric motor on the rear axle. The system is front-wheel drive as standard and offers four-wheel drive when needed, using the rear electric motor for acceleration or traction. It is also capable of running for around 2km in electric-only rear-wheel drive. The powertrain has a 0-100kph time of 9.3sec, with a top speed of 200kph and a claimed CO2 output of 89g/km. The CNG is housed in two tanks, one under the rear seat and one behind the rear axle. The electric motor is powered by a 48V, 1.5kWh lithium-ion battery – recharged under braking – that Skoda says was chosen to balance extra weight and energy storage. There is also a reserve petrol tank, largely to ensure the powertrain will start in very cold weather, that gives the concept a total range of around 644km. The system has already been tested in a converted Karoq. Martin Hrdlicka, Skoda’s head of powertrains, said the decision to use the CNG hybrid system on the Vision X was, in part, to showcase a way to effectively bring four-wheel drive to smaller vehicles. “Four-wheel-drive machines make up 10% of Skoda sales. There’s no 4WD in the entry-level A segment, so this can help us offer a car of that size with four-wheel drive. Skoda Vision X design While officially a design study for an 'urban' compact crossover, the exterior of the Vision X gives heavy hints at what the production version of Skoda’s upcoming compact crossover will look like. The front of the car – in particular the grille (although on the Vision X it is made from a single piece of glass) and ‘power dome’ on the bonnet – echoes the Karoq and Kodiaq. But there are some design features new to Skoda. The lights have been raised, with thin daytime running lights and indicators above the main headlights. At the rear, the Vision X features L-shaped tail-lights that line up with a similarly shaped bumper reflector. Notably, the rear bootlid of the concept doesn’t feature a Skoda logo, with the brand name spelt out instead. While based on the same platform as the T-Roc and Arona, at 4250mm the Vision X is longer than both (the T-Roc is 4234mm long, the Arona 4138mm). It is also lower than those cars at 1500mm high, while it sits between the 1780mm Arona and 1819 T-Roc at 1800mm wide. The Vision X also has a substantially longer wheelbase of 2645mm, compared with 2590mm in the T-Roc and 2566mm in the Arona. The interior of the Vision X features elements likely to be adopted by future production Skoda models. The wide dashboard contains a large, centrally located touchscreen that sits above a small ‘wing’ designed for resting a hand on while using the screen. There are also some design concepts that are unlikely to be seen on production models, including a 2+2 seating layout and the inclusion in the boot of long boards (and a drone) – Skoda’s concept of a ‘last-mile mobility’ solution to aid urban commuters. Expect Skoda to unveil a production version based on this concept later this year.   [...]
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Fiat Abarth 124 GT revealed with removable carbon-fibre hard-top
Abarth has revealed the 124 GT ahead of its official unveiling at the Geneva motor show.  The GT gets a removable carbon-fibre hard-top roof that weighs 16kg and is lined on the inside. It, however, has to be stored separately when not in use, unlike the Mazda MX-5 RF’s folding hard-top.  The hard-top roof adds rigidity to the car’s chassis, although Abarth hasn’t specified by how much. The carbon-fibre construction is a market first. The 124GT is equipped with demisters in the rear window, insulation, and soundproofing as well.  It also gets a tweaked styling and exclusive parts like lightweight OZ alloys. Performance is unchanged - the same 1.4-litre turbocharged engine gives 170hp and 249Nm of torque, equating to unchanged acceleration to 100kph in 6.8sec and a top speed of 230kph. In terms of weight, the standard 124 weighs 1,060kg, while the GT is at 1,073kg. Abarth is expected to commence sales of the 124 GT in the UK market before the end of the year. It’s likely to command a small premium over the standard 124. Also see: Fiat Abarth Punto long term review, second report Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to abandon diesels by 2022 2017 Baleno RS vs Polo GT TSI vs Abarth Punto comparison video [...]
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BMW iX3 to debut fifth-gen EV tech in 2020
BMW will introduce its most advanced electric powertrain technology yet to the road in 2020 when a new version of the X3 is launched. Set to be called the iX3, it’ll arrive as part of the fourth-generation X3 range and be the first car to get all-new zero-emission underpinnings that are being developed for use in all of BMW’s next generation of electric vehicles. An iX3 test mule has been spotted in Scandinavia – where the range of its battery pack is being evaluated in conditions that dip below -10deg Celsius, on a regular basis. The electric powertrain of this mule – based on the third-generation X3 – is evident from the lack of water vapour from tail-pipes, as it drives away. In these sub zero conditions, combustion engine tail-pipes almost always produce vapour. The sighting of an EV X3 so early into the future car's development cycle indicates that the platform of the future line-up is being engineered to adopt an electric powertrain from the get-go. This is essential for effective packaging to ensure cabin space is not compromised by the placement of batteries in the car’s floor. The iX3's structure will be a development of BMW’s CLAR structure, which underpins the X3, as well as the latest 5-series and 7-series models and will be used in the 2019 BMW 3-series. Although the iX3 will probably feature a grille-free nose to reduce drag, its overall design is unlikely to differ drastically from that of its combustion engine sibling. The BMW Group’s latest stance on EV design is to be more discreet; Mini brand boss Sebastian Mackensen told Autocar recently that the marque “doesn’t need to make a big statement” about EVs. The electric architecture beneath the iX3 will be the most advanced put into production by BMW. The iX3 will use two electric motors – one mounted up front, driving the front wheels and a second at the rear, within the axle assembly to drive the rear wheels. This setup will enable torque vectoring to enhance traction. The electric layout will come as part of BMW's fifth-generation EV platform and will be used in 11 more electric BMWs, due to arrive by 2025. Not all of those cars will adapt the twin-motor setup employed by the iX3, however. Models less concerned with all-wheel-drive traction could adopt a simpler layout, which uses a front-mounted electric motor in combination with a fixed-ratio gearbox and so-called electric propeller shaft to channel drive to the rear wheels. Each of BMW's new electric models will gain an 'i' at the start of its name to signify its status. BMW recently patented a list of nine names spanning from iX1 to iX9, although not all will necessarily be used because most will be aligned with current models in the line-up. The largest confirmed model for BMW’s future range is the X7. The brand will also produce an electric version of the future 4-series GT, called the i4, in 2020 and an i5, which was previewed by the i Vision Dynamics concept and is due in 2021. The company patented the i1 to i9 names back in 2010, before the i3 and i8 arrived. Also see: Upcoming BMW X3 showcased at Auto Expo 2018 BMW i3S electric hatch showcased at Auto Expo 2018 [...]
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McLaren reveals MSO Senna Carbon Theme
The hypercar has been customised by the McLaren Special Operations (MSO) division. The show car features bare carbon-fibre bodywork, with flashes of yellow and green across the exterior and interior, paying tribute to the car’s namesake, Ayrton Senna. Senna’s racing helmet was finished in yellow, green and black. No performance upgrades have been applied to the 800hp, 800Nm hypercar by MSO. The Carbon Theme pack is one of five available from MSO for the Senna and adds seven-spoke carbon-fibre and aluminium wheels that weigh 10 percent lesser than the standard wheels and are now available across all Sennas. The wheels also have different-coloured wheel nuts for left and right wheels. The carmaker remains tight-lipped on the other four themes for the Senna. The MSO personalisation requires 250 man-hours for just the yellow detailing on the sills, wing and front bodywork, alone. The brake calipers are finished in a Laurel Green. Inside, there's black Alcantara upholstery for the seats, but the colour flourishes continue, with the seat stitching, speakers and steering wheel centre strip finished in yellow, while the door gas strut matches the brake calipers' green shade. MSO boss Ansar Ali said: “With the car having generated so much interest since its unveiling, in December, we knew we needed to produce something very special in order to showcase the unique talents of MSO. I would not be at all surprised to see a rise in expressions of interest for MSO Visual carbon-fibre cars similar to this one.” Also see: 800hp track-focused McLaren Senna hypercar revealed McLaren Senna hypercar image gallery McLaren 570GT Sport Pack unveiled [...]
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Volvo CEO teases next-gen S60
Volvo boss Håkan Samuelsson has provided a glimpse of the all-new S60 by revealing an image of the camouflaged sedan undergoing testing in Norway. Samuelsson confirmed the S60 will go into production later this year at the company’s new factory in South Carolina, US. The plant, which has a maximum capacity of 100,000 cars per year, has been under development since January 2016. The next XC90 will also be built there. Unlike the V60, the S60 will not appear at the Geneva motor show, but will be shown at a later date. Volvo remains tight-lipped on exactly when, but it's likely to be revealed in a few months, given the heavy camouflage in the pictured development car. It'll be built on the same Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) as Volvo's other larger cars, as well as the V60. The V60, the 'Versatile' estate version of the S60 was leaked ahead of its official Geneva motor show launch, showing the car's side-on and rear-end styling. The front styling of the S60 and V60 will likely be identical. In shots of the development car, the V60’s design was clear to see through the heavy camouflage, with obvious reference to larger models in Volvo’s line-up which were styled by former Volvo head of design - now Polestar CEO - Thomas Ingenlath. Specs of the new S60 will mirror that of the XC60, with Momentum spec at the entry level and R-Design Pro at the top. Inscription will be in the middle. Engines will match those of the V60 - 158hp and 190hp D3 and D4 units, as well as a 245hp T5 petrol, while the range will be topped by a 340hp T6 Twin Engine plug-in, and a T4 petrol later in the car's life cycle. Safety kit will also match that of the XC60, meaning that when it hits the market in early 2019, it’s likely to be the safest car in the class. The XC60 was declared the safest car ever tested by Euro NCAP last year, achieving a 95 percent overall score. It is equipped with safety systems that are more advanced than Euro NCAP currently tests on cars. JIMI BECKWITH ALSO READ  Next-gen Volvo S60 spied [...]
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2018 F1: Hamilton sets pace on final day of first pre-testing
Lewis Hamilton topped the final day of the opening 2018 Formula 1 pre-season test at Barcelona for Mercedes. The world champion used medium tyres to demote McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne from the top of the order, the Belgian having set the pace with a sequence of runs on hypersofts shortly after the track dried. Hamilton had briefly moved ahead of Vandoorne earlier in the afternoon, but he had that lap taken away for missing the final chicane and finally took over at the head of the order 45 minutes later. Vandoorne's time on the softest tyre, set following a flurry of activity as everybody switched to slicks, was good enough to hold on for second on the day, half a second down on Hamilton. Sebastian Vettel was third fastest with a lap on soft tyres - the compound he used for most of the dry running - while Kevin Magnussen put Haas fourth with a series of runs on the supersoft tyre. After completing 110 laps Vandoorne handed over the McLaren to Fernando Alonso for the final few hours, and the Spaniard added another 51 laps to the 62 he had completed prior to the final day and rounded out the top five. In total, 15 of F1's 20 drivers were in action at some point during the day, with Renault, Williams, Mercedes and Sauber all joining McLaren in giving track time to both of their drivers. That was because the weather was much improved, despite a wet start. Temperatures were much higher - around 13-15C for most of the day - allowing teams to begin the process of making up for the time lost to the cold weather on the first three days of this test. One team not able to add significant mileage was Red Bull. Max Verstappen spent most of the morning in the garage. He completed 35 laps, mostly on the medium tyre, and shortly after switching to the soft compound and setting two personal best sectors, he brought out the red flags with a trip into the gravel at Turn 12. The car was returned to the Red Bull garage, with mechanics carefully trying to hide its floor from the view of cameras, but Verstappen did not return to action before the chequered flag and ended the day with him as the ninth quickest. Williams' timing of its driver change meant Sergey Sirotkin was the only driver not to set a time on slick tyres, leaving him adrift at the bottom of the order behind the two Saubers. F1 teams now have a four-day break from track action before the final pre-season test starts at the same venue on March 6. Day 4 test times POS DRIVER CAR TIME GAP LAPS 1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m19.333s - 69 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m19.854s 0.521s 110 3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m20.241s 0.908s 120 4 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m20.317s 0.984s 96 5 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m20.929s 1.596s 51 6 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m20.940s 1.607s 60 7 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m21.142s 1.809s 54 8 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m21.973s 2.640s 65 9 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m22.058s 2.725s 35 10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m22.134s 2.801s 147 11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m22.507s 3.174s 49 12 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m22.789s 3.456s 60 13 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m22.808s 3.475s 59 14 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m23.825s 4.492s 79 15 Sergey Sirotkin [...]
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