Newsflash: nieuwe Volkswagen ID.4 komt ook in extra snelle GTX uitvoering


+++ Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll and investors have rescued ASTON MARTIN with a 500 million pound cash injection that analysts say will help stabilize the British carmaker whose first SUV is set to hit the road. Stroll agreed to buy up to 20 % of the 107-year-old company and will become executive chairman of James Bond’s automaker of choice, which has gone bankrupt 7 times in its chequered history. A consortium led by Stroll will invest 182 million pounds ($239 million), whilst major existing shareholders (primarily Italian and Kuwaiti private equity groups) will be part of a rights issue to raise 318 million pounds. “It likely gives them enough liquidity to tide them over for a couple of years”, said Charles Coldicott, Redburn equity research analyst. Outgoing chairwoman Penny Hughes, who will be replaced by Stroll, spelt out the degree of trouble the firm has been in after core sales fell last year. “The difficult trading performance in 2019 resulted in severe pressure on liquidity which has left the company with no alternative but to seek substantial additional equity financing”, she said. “Without this the balance sheet is not robust enough to support the operations of the group”. Now Aston Martin will need to turn the financial lifeline into part of a sustainable plan as it delays investment in electric vehicles and cuts its operating costs. A key future milestone includes around 1 billion pounds worth of debt due to mature in 2022. The company also suffers from lower gross margins than rival Ferrari, according to analysts at Jefferies, who have said scaling up is just as important as extra capital. Key to the company’s success is its first foray into the lucrative SUV market, a late entrant compared to many rivals such as Bentley and Rolls-Royce. Aston Martin has built a new factory in Wales to make the model, known as the DBX, which it hopes will attract more women to the brand and some buyers to purchase both it and a vehicle from its traditional line-up. With the DBX model not due to roll off the production line until the second quarter of this year, the firm has taken the cost with only some of the benefit so far. Based in central England, Aston said earlier this month that it already had around 2.000 orders for the car; a “materially better” rate than for any previous models. “When we were looking at the amount of money needed, we were thinking about deleveraging, creating the liquidity buffer that was missing and also be able to continue investing in some longer-term critical products including the mid-engine platform”, said Philippe Houchois, equity analyst at Jefferies. “All that works as long as DBX is successful so they have to deliver that”, he said. Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer gave his vision for how the next few years would pan out. “It’s a big moment for the company”, he told. “We’ve got what we need to deliver a luxury strategy”. Without the incoming investment, Palmer said, “We were in danger of having to draw down toxic notes at 15 % interest: that’s expensive! I don’t have to do that any more”. However, the new investment doesn’t come without difficulties, with redundancies likely at the company’s Gaydon HQ, although there’s likely to be a net gain in the workforce with new staff joining at the DBX factory in South Wales. There’s also been a shuffling at Aston Martin’s top table with Stroll as executive chairman, and promotions from within with Nick Lines becoming chief technical officer, Andy Haslem now chief sales officer and Peter Freedman new chief marketing officer. It’s also meant a shuffling of product priorities, notably the planned launch of all-electric Lagonda models. “Our Lagonda strategy is not dead, it’s just delayed”, Palmer told. It’s been shoved back beyond 2025, rather than the 2022 launch originally planned. The all-electric Rapide E project (in spite of deliveries being expected this year) has also been ‘paused’. The official line is that investment in electric vehicles will be delayed beyond 2025, although Palmer is still bullish about electrification in general: “All our vehicles will still feature some form of electrification by the middle of the decade”, he said. Palmer also confirmed that work on the new hybrid V6 powertrain that will feature in every one of Aston’s mainstream models will stay on target and the first model featuring that engine will be seen in 2022. That could be the DBX, which launches this year without any form of electrification, but the lightweight Valhalla supercar is also likely to feature that engine and will be revealed in production form in 2022. Following after Valhalla will be the Vanquish mid-engined Ferrari 488 rival; also slightly later than expected. The added investment guarantees production of the Valkyrie supercar for the second half of 2020, with the Valkyrie AMR Pro still scheduled for 2021. However, these are the last cars to benefit from Aston Martin’s relationship with Red Bull Racing, which finishes at the end of the 2020 F1 season. Palmer confirmed that Red Bull will not be involved with the Valhalla project. Aston Martin will also be relaunching its Vantage at the Geneva Motor Show in March with a roadster version, while a slowdown in production will reduce oversupply in the dealer network. “Discounts will diminish and we’ll spend more money on marketing”, said Palmer. Special models are also still on track with the recently announced V12 Speedster set to go on sale early in 2021, while deliveries of Goldfinger DB5 Continuation models will start this year to coincide with Aston’s involvement in the new Bond movie No Time To Die. “That movie will do us no harm at all”, Palmer said. He admitted to a tinge of sadness that his relationship with Red Bull Racing was drawing to a close. “When I walk through the Red Bull Hall of Fame and see many of the cars with Infiniti and then Aston Martin liveries, those cars mean a lot to me”, said Palmer. “I count Christian Horner as a friend, but this is business”. However, his commitment to F1 and excitement at a works Aston Martin F1 team from 2021 is clear and he’s vocal on the value that F1 can still bring. “Eyeballs count”, he said. “There are 600 million people watching every race: it’s like a Super Bowl every 2 weeks”. Stroll, as executive chairman, is also likely to be more involved in the business than previous Chairman Penny Hughes. “He’s not going to be a passive investor”, said Palmer, “He’s here to help. He shares my passion for the brand and his history is rooted in luxury. When I came here in 2014 my plan was to make Aston Martin a sustainable, luxury, British business. Nothing has changed”. +++ 

+++ The 8.0-liter quad-turbo W16 engine of the BUGATTI Veyron and Chiron is one of the most over-the-top powertrain’s ever developed but had things gone a little different, it may have never seen the light of day. In the late 1990s, Bugatti unveiled a trio of concept cars styled by Italdesign in the form of the EB118, EB218, and the Bugatti 18/3 Chiron. While none of these cars made it to the production line, all 3 featured a bizarre 6.3-liter naturally-aspirated W18 engine that consisted of 3 banks of 6 cylinders with a 60 degree offset between each cylinder bank. The Bugatti EB 18.4 that previewed the eventual Veyron featured the same engine. While this engine had 2 more cylinders than the eventual powertrain used by the Veyron, it had significantly less power, only churning out 547 hp and 649 Nm. Drivetribe notes that packaging issues were one of the reasons why the engine wasn’t used. You see, having 3 banks of cylinders meant that there had to be an intake right next to a red hot exhaust manifold, a setup that’s very poor for combustion and power. While selling a production car with a W18 engine would have been rather amazing, doing so simply didn’t make sense and this engine didn’t have the grunt Bugatti needed to set a new production car top speed record. +++ 

+++ The new CORONA VIRUS epidemic is likely to wreak havoc on China auto sales and production in the first quarter, but it is too early to push panic buttons as ground could be made up later in the year, industry executives said. Showroom traffic is expected to be sparse when extended Lunar New Year holidays end as much of the population is steering clear of public spaces, while output is set to plunge in the short-term. That is particularly true of Hubei province, the center of the outbreak and a major car manufacturing hub that accounts for nearly 9 % of China’s vehicle production. Dongfeng Motor Group and its partners Honda, Renault and PSA all have factories there. “We expect China vehicle production to decline 3 % for the full year, with production down 15 % in the first quarter, including the extended new year shutdown”, Joseph Massaro, chief financial officer for auto technology supplier Aptiv, told an earnings conference call. But he said delayed production could be made up in the second quarter. “We don’t view this as a full year issue at the moment”. Seeking to rein in the epidemic, which has killed more than 200 people, authorities have extended Lunar New Year holidays by three days to February 2 although many areas and companies are telling workers not to come back before February 10. Prior to the outbreak, forecasts for the world’s largest auto market this year had ranged from mild sales growth to small declines after 2 painful years of contraction due to a slowing economy, the U.S.-China trade war and the chaotic introduction of new emission rules. Cui Dongshu, secretary general at the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA), said his prediction for 1 % growth this year now seems “under some pressure”. The holiday extension has discouraged dealers from ordering cars at the end of the month as is their usual practice, virtually guaranteeing a decline in sales for January. “Although sales volumes in the first 3 weeks of January were okay, there was no ‘sales sprint’ at the end of the month. So it is inevitable that we will see a significant sales drop”, Cui said. The big unknown is, however, just how far the outbreak, which authorities expect to peak in February, will ravage Chinese consumer spending. Industry officials and analysts believe sales will be hit in the short-term but also say the impact might not be too bad over the whole year. The outbreak could even spur more Chinese consumers to embark on car ownership, given that many are suffering in areas where public transport has been suspended, said Yale Zhang, head of Shanghai-based consultancy AutoForesight. “Customers who do not have their own car might realize they need one which might help sales this year”, he said. China has an estimated 170 vehicles per 1.000 people compared to 800 per 1.000 in the United States. CPCA’s Cui also noted the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic had little long-term impact on China’s passenger car market which grew 70 % in 2003, albeit from a low base and helped by economic stimulus. Automakers with plants in Hubei, particularly in its capital Wuhan, where transport links have been cut to curb the virus, will have the most work to do in rejigging production plans. Delays can often be made up later with extra shifts on weekends and at night. Honda, which has three assembly plants in Wuhan with Dongfeng, said it was assessing how transport disruptions were affecting the supply of parts and that no decision had been made on when its factories will restart. Dongfeng, Renault and PSA also said no decision had been made on when production might resume. Other automakers with operations in Hubei include Nissan, which has a plant with Dongfeng, and General Motors, which has a venture with SAIC Motor. Outside Hubei, some automakers appeared more sanguine about their production schedules. Tesla, which started delivering cars built at its $2 billion car plant in Shanghai last month, has said it expects a delay of just one to one-and-a-half weeks in its ramp up of China-built Model 3s due to the shutdown. In a sign, however, that the virus impact was not just limited to China, Hyundai said it is suspending some SUV output in South Korea this weekend as parts supplies had been disrupted. +++ 

+++ Japan’s Nidec plans to more than treble its revenue over the 5 five years by focusing on ELECTRIC VEHICLE powertrains and buying specialists in motor technologies, 2 people familiar with the matter told. The world’s leading maker of precision motors which supplies parts for Apple’s iPhones is expected to detail its plans soon when it will name former Nissan executive Jun Seki as president, the sources said. The new strategy shows how the Kyoto-based company wants to play a bigger role in the auto industry as electric vehicle (EV) production takes off, after slowdowns in demand for motors in markets such as cellphones have weighed on its sales. “The EV motor system is key to our growth strategy”. said one of the sources, a Nidec insider, referring to integrated EV powertrain systems commonly known as e-axles: technology that incorporates motors, power electronics and transmissions. “The e-axle market is going to be big, but it is only one half of our twin-pillar growth strategy”, the person said. “The other big key to growth is in mergers and acquisitions of other motor-related technologies”. Nidec’s plan is to boost annual revenue to 5 trillion yen ($46 billion) by 2025, the sources said, from 1.55 trillion yen forecast for its financial year ending in March. Founder and CEO Shigenobu Nagamori has in the past alluded to a company vision of 10 trillion yen in revenue by 2030 but has not mapped out specific steps to achieve such a target. Seki, who told in December he was leaving Nissan for Nidec, is expected to help Nagamori lead the revenue push. Nidec has long been synonymous with Nagamori, who started out in 1973 with three workers in a Kyoto shed and built a global powerhouse with more than 100.000 employees, making motors for “everything that spins and moves”. Nidec already supplies e-axles to automakers such as China’s GAC Motor and France’s PSA. Rival e-axle makers include Germany’s Bosch and ZF Friedrichshafen and Toyota affiliate BluE Nexus, among others. Nidec wants to significantly improve the quality and performance of its e-axles so they become “more efficient, smaller and thus cheaper”, one of the sources said. To meet its growth targets, though, it will have to boost sales of motors beyond those used in EVs and is looking for mergers and acquisitions (M&A), the sources said. From home appliances to cellphones to laptops to other devices, “Nidec will continue to be active in M&A and gobble up attractive tech labs and startups and companies, even if they are small”, one of the sources said. Nagamori told reporters this month that Nidec could spend 500 billion yen on its growth strategy, including technology acquisitions. It may use the money to acquire new e-axle technology and know-how to improve its existing products, the sources said, adding that the EV focus was fuelled by a belief more and more automakers will replace gasoline vehicles with electric cars. While pure battery-powered vehicles are just a sliver of global production now, they are expected to make up 5.6 % of total production by 2026, according to AutoForecast Solutions. The research firm estimated production of all EVs, including gasoline hybrids, will reach 13.3 million in 2026 and account for 13.6 % of total global car production of 98.1 million. Industry officials and experts say a key challenge facing Nidec and rival e-axle producers will be to get costs down to roughly $1,500 or below from the roughly $2,000 they cost now. Nidec’s confidence in the business stems from a view that automakers will behave more like smartphone or laptop producers as they phase out their reliance on the combustion engine. It believes that EVs (like laptops and smartphones) will be designed with key components that are “as commoditised as Intel chips for laptops”, one of the sources said. +++ 

+++ The current HONDA NSX is an absolute weapon and while it may no longer receive the attention and love that some of its European rivals do, it is not to be underestimated. Perhaps in an effort to remind us all of what makes the NSX such an impressive car, the Japanese manufacturer has shared a video discussing what goes into making each and every NSX engine. In a segment of the auto industry that has long been dominated by large capacity and high-revving engines, Honda adopted a radically different approach when developing the NSX. Found in the heart of the car is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine that alone pumps out 500 hp and 549 Nm. Coupled to this engine are a pair of 2 electric motors delivering 36 hp and 73 Nm each that drive the front wheels while a third electric motor / generator is sandwiched between the engine and the nine-speed dual-clutch transmission. This motor adds 47 hp and 147 Nm. Only the most experienced craftsman assemble the NSX’s engine in a specialized facility within the marque’s Anna Engine Plant in Ohio. “It’s here at the Anna Engine Plant, where the heart of the NSX gets to beat for the very first time”, former engine quality project leader for production of the NSX engine Jim Mankin says. “The NSX engine room is staffed with the best-of-the best talent from our assembly department who hand-build the engine that powers Honda’s American-made super car and who help the NSX make its mark on the world of manufacturing”. +++ 

+++ HUMMER is back, albeit as a sub-brand of GMC, not a standalone brand within General Motors. Don’t call it a gas guzzler, either, because the 2022 GMC Hummer is a zero-emissions electric pickup. With an unveil date of May 20, 2020, and production set for GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant, the GMC Hummer EV likely arrives in dealers in mid-to-late 2021. While GM isn’t saying much about the model’s technical details, the company did announce the EV will have 1.000 horsepower and hit 100 kph in 3.0 seconds. Given the high torque figure of more than 1.500 NM, I suspect GM will fit the Hummer with an individual electric motor at each drive wheel, for four total. Regardless of how the Hummer pushes its electric power to the ground, expect the truck to offer the off-road capability long associated with the brand. It’ll also sport classic Hummer design cues, such as a relatively upright windshield, a wide maw, and short overhangs. LED headlights that span the width of the vehicle, however, clearly mark this as a different breed of Hummer. I anticipate it’ll wear a rather high price tag, too, possibly breaking the 6-figure barrier when optioned out. GM retired the Hummer line of vehicles nearly a decade ago after expanding the brand’s lineup to include the H2 and H3 SUVs and trucks. While the new Hummer enters the market as a GMC, there’s always the possibility that GM will once again break the brand out on its own. Hey, stranger things have happened. And I hear a Hummer-badged electric SUV also is in the works. +++ 

+++ Ralph Speth presided over the longest profit streak in JAGUAR LAND ROVER ‘s history, but he also pushed an aggressive growth plan that in hindsight dangerously overstretched the company just as it was hit by unprecedented global headwinds. When Speth took over in 2010, Jaguar Land Rover was fresh from its purchase by Tata Motors from Ford in 2008. Outward confidence was not matched internally. JLR was “more or less bankrupt” when Tata took over, Speth said in a speech in 2014. Speth, who will retire as CEO in September, was the most high profile of a number of executives Tata hired from BMW to work at JLR. With Land Rover’s SUVs and Jaguar’s sporty sedans, Speth was able to capitalize on two trends: global demand for off-road capable models and China’s fast-rising car market. At one point, JLR was making 60,000 pounds ($78,662) of profit on each of its luxury Range Rover SUVs sold in China, Max Warburton, an analyst at Bernstein Research, estimated. Annual profits were the envy of the industry. Margins hit 11 % in 2011 and only fell below double figures in 2016. JLR’s success convinced Speth it could be repeated at a much greater scale. Speth is outwardly reserved, but his ambitions for JLR displayed an inward confidence. The company quickly formulated plans to produce its own range of engines in place of Ford-sourced units. It plotted global manufacturing expansion, first in China and then Slovakia. It even set-up a Brazil CKD operation to bypass tough import taxes. Under plans to revive the Jaguar brand, Speth approved a new rear-wheel drive aluminum platform with the goal of finally matching BMW sedans for dynamics. It achieved that, but customers for XE and XF models proved hard to come by. In another expensive investment for Jaguar, Speth gave the go ahead for the I-Pace full-electric crossover with its unique platform. Against all odds Jaguar managed to launch it ahead of rivals from the German premium brands. But when the Chinese profit engine sputtered in 2018, Speth’s expansion plan left JLR vulnerable. Capacity constraints quickly moved to overcapacity, right about the time Austrian contract manufacturer Magna Steyr started to build the I-Pace and E-Pace. It was not just China. JLR’s reliance on SUVs hurt sales after the sudden collapse of diesel in Europe. Around the same time the Brexit vote and the subsequent political uncertainty shook consumer confidence in the UK, further damaging sales. In the financial year ending March 2019, JLR’s winning streak ended in spectacular fashion after the company posted a 3.6 billion pounds full-year loss following a 3.3 billion pounds writedown on investments. Was this Speth’s fault? He would have needed a powerful crystal ball to predict all the global headwinds that hit JLR. Arguably JLR’s biggest mistake was investing in its own range of not just 4-cylinder but also 6-cylinder engines just as electrification was about to render powertrain differentiation obsolete. Analysts warned JLR about that at the time. But Speth’s greatest legacy could be the write-down and the months that followed it. The bitter pill swallowed, he then helped secure a partnership with BMW on engines and electric powertrains. He cut costs beyond the tough targets he set and took painful decisions to reduce China volumes and focus only on profitable sales. He also pinned the company’s model strategy on one platform with the flexibility to accept any powertrain. It looks to be working. JLR yesterday posted a pretax profit of 318 million pounds ($417 million) in the 3 months ended December 31 compared with a 273-million-pound loss in the same quarter of 2018. The company said its Project Charge turnaround plan resulted in cost and cash flow improvements of 2.9 billion pounds, exceeding the 2.5 billion pounds target three months ahead of schedule. The company is still saddled by expensive decisions made in the boom times, but Speth might have just secured the company’s future as it moves into the costly world of electrification. +++ 

+++ MERCEDES-BENZ has confirmed it will end production of its X-Class premium pick-up in May, citing low global demand. The Ford Ranger rival has been in production for just 2 years, but rumours of its demise began to circulate in 2019 as the company embarked on a wide-reaching cost-cutting drive. Mercedes said: “It has been decided that from the end of May 2020, we will no longer produce this relatively young model”. It added that the model is a ‘niche product’, that “plays a great role in a few markets, including Australia and South Africa”. In February last year, the company axed plans to put the truck into production in Argentina, claiming “the price expectations of the Latin American customers have not been economically viable”. The X-Class shares its underpinnings with the less expensive Nissan Navara, alongside which it is built in Barcelona. It was never offered in the US, despite that being the biggest global market for pick-ups. Mercedes sold just 15.300 X-Class units in 2019, while Nissan sold 66.000 Navaras in the first half of the year alone. The X-Class remains available to order on Mercedes’ website, but from May will remain on sale only while stocks last. +++ 

+++ MITSUBISHI posted a surprise operating loss in the third quarter, its worst quarterly performance in more than 3 years, hurt by falling sales in China, Japan and Southeast Asia, as well as a stronger yen. The carmaker posted an operating loss of 6.6 billion yen ($60.2 million) for the October-December quarter, missing an average forecast for a profit of 11.6 billion yen, based on analyst estimates. It was the firm’s biggest loss since the July-September 2016 quarter, when a mileage cheating scandal sapped profits. However, Mitsubishi stuck to an earlier forecast for a 73 % drop in full-year operating profit to 30 billion yen in the year to March. The automaker’s net loss for the quarter just ended came in at 14.4 billion yen. The fall in quarterly sales was worst in China and at home, while sales also slipped in ASEAN countries, traditionally a stronghold, leading to a 16 % fall in global vehicle sales to 320,000 units. The automaker also said it would keep some of its offices in China closed through February 9, as a new coronavirus spreads throughout the country and beyond. The alliance of Mitsubishi, Renault and Nissan yesterday said they had “no other option” but to drastically improve their joint operations to remain competitive in the fast-changing global auto industry. +++ 

+++ Volkswagen has kept its lead as the world’s largest automaker after TOYOTA announced it sold fewer vehicles last year. Toyota said it sold 10.74 million vehicles around the world in 2019, trailing Volkswagen’s record annual sales of 10.97 million vehicles. In 2018, Volkswagen sold 10.83 million vehicles, edging out Toyota for the No. 1 crown. Toyota said 2019 marked the 4th consecutive year of rising global vehicles sales. It marked a 1.4% rise from the previous year. Both Toyota and Volkswagen say they do not see being the global leader as their priority but are focusing on delivering on products and results. The sales tallies are still a solid indicator for a manufacturer’s success in a globalized, intensely competitive industry. General Motors Co held the title of top automaker for more than 7 decades before losing it to Toyota in 2008, and no longer has a shot at the top spot. Also falling out of contention was the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance. Global sales for the alliance among Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi totaled about 10 million vehicles last year. Sales for the alliance suffered after the arrest in November 2018 of Carlos Ghosn, a former chief executive and chairman of Nissan, who now faces financial misconduct allegations in Japan. +++ 

+++ Volkswagen Group’s TRATON truck and bus unit has made a $2.9 billion bid to acquire all of the remaining shares in U.S. truck maker Navistar International Corporation, formerly International Harvester Company. Traton offered a price of $35 per share; a 45 % premium over Navistar’s closing share price of $24.11 on January 29 and a 19 % premium over Navistar’s 90-day volume weighted average price of $29.40. Volkswagen Group’s heavy-truck unit currently owns 16.8 % of Navistar’s outstanding common shares, acquired in September 2016. Since 2017, Traton and Navistar have benefitted from a strategic alliance that has enabled both companies to increase their purchasing power and integrate new technologies. “As the global commercial vehicle industry continues to evolve, Traton believes that the proposed transaction is a logical next step and would result in even greater benefits”, reads VW Group’s statement. If Navistar accepts the offer, it will give VW a bridgehead in the U.S. heavy-truck market, allowing it to better compete with global rivals Daimler and Volvo. Navistar builds trucks, school buses, defense vehicles and engines under its International brand. Taking control of Navistar will also enable Traton to reduce its reliance on Europe and South America. Traton is currently made up of 4 brands: MAN, Scania, Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus and RIO. “The proposed transaction would create a leader in commercial vehicles with global scale and a strong portfolio of leading brands and cutting-edge products, technologies and services while delivering immediate and substantial value to Navistar stockholders”, said Traton CEO Andreas Renschler. VW’s heavy-truck unit expects that the proposed transaction could be closed by the end of 2020. The success of Traton’s bid depends on billionaire investors Carl Icahn, Navistar’s biggest holder, and Mark Rachesky, who is the the company’s third-largest owner thanks to a 16 % stake held by his company MHR Fund Management. +++ 

+++ VOLKSWAGEN ‘s first hot electric car will arrive later this year, it has confirmed. The inaugural use of GTX (the electric equivalent of the GTI sub-brand) is most likely to come on the range-topping version of the first electric Volkswagen SUV, which was previewed by the ID Crozz concept of 2017. There will be 2 versions of the ID SUV: a standard model and a coupé, which are expected to be named the ID.4 and the ID.5. While both models will receive the GTX badge, it’s most likely to appear on the ID 4 first. While the ID.3 hatchback is an obvious contender for the GTX treatment, given Volkswagen’s hot hatch heritage, it’s thought that a fast ID.4 is more appealing to key markets, including the US and China, and capable of achieving better profit margins in the short term. A performance version of the ID.3 is planned to be produced later, however. The ID.4 will be revealed at the New York motor show in April, becoming the second ID production model after the ID.3. The ID 4 is based on MEB, the Volkswagen Group’s bespoke architecture for EVs. In concept form, it used two electric motors for a combined output of 306 hp and 450 Nm, and promised a range of 500 kilometres, thanks to an 83 kWh battery pack. Expect more power from the GTX version but potentially a slightly shorter range, given the demands of a performance model. This will be a bumper year for hot Volkswagen models, beginning with the unveiling of the new Golf GTI and GTD at the Geneva motor show in March before the new Golf R is shown in the summer. +++

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