Newsflash: nieuwe Mazda MX-5 blijft lekker atmosferisch


+++ BMW is embarking on a bold new era led by design director Domagoj Dukec and while some of the carmaker’s most recent models have caused controversy, Dukec says the brand needs innovative designs. Dukec will play an instrumental role in BMW’s ongoing shift towards electrification and during a recent interview, used the recent i Vision Circular concept as an example of how the brand’s designs “must be bold and meaningful”. “You can do bold through many tricks. Everybody knows how to make a car attractive, but if it’s not meaningful, it’s empty”, he told. As BMW’s designs progress, Dukec said famous traits such as the kidney grilles and Hofmeister kink will be retained but will morph into areas of innovation. For example, the kidney grilles of the electric i4 and iX house the various forward-facing sensors of the cars. “In the past few years, there has been a lot of discussion about our kidney but it’s important we bring future customer generations and fans together”, Dukec said. “Fans aren’t always customers, but we want customers to become fans. You can’t just design to keep your icons alive: you have to create new ones. Why is the Neue Klasse iconic? Why do people love the Hofmeister kink? Because they were innovative”. As part of BMW’s transition to electromobility, it is reviving the Neue Klasse (New Class) name from the 1960s with a flexible platform that will replace the FAAR and CLAR architectures and will be used by a plethora of new models. “Neue Klasse will stand for electrification, digitalization and sustainability”, Dukec added. “We’re asking: ‘How can we make a car that’s sustainable and intelligent and do more with less?’ This is something that’s very authentic to BMW. As designers, it’s about rethinking and reducing. It’s how we treat materials – not using chrome, creating materials to use less leather. For us, electrification alone isn’t the sustainable path it is for others. They think they make electric cars and there, work done. But the problem is bigger”. +++

+++ ENVISION , the company that runs the United Kingdom’s only current EV battery factory, has outlined plans to massive expand its production capacity. The Sunderland factory currently has an annual production capacity of 1.7 GWh, which is set to rise to 11 GWh from 2024 when it’s expanded to supply batteries for the next-generation Nissan Leaf, which will be reinvented as a crossover. The Sunderland battery plant was opened in 2012 to make batteries for the Leaf that’s built at Nissan’s nearby car factory. Envision took ownership of the site when it bought Nissan’s battery business, AESC, in 2019. Envision CEO Lei Zhang told that battery production in Sunderland would eventually rise to 38 GWh. Envision is also partnering with Renault to build a new battery factory in Douai, France, and Zhang added that talks are ongoing with “global car makers” for a supply of batteries from the 2 sites. “The electric car has become the starting point for the green industrial revolution”, he told. Envision is based in Shanghai and is China’s largest producer of wind turbines. It also has battery factories in China, the US and Japan, and is poised to list its battery business on the stock market in the near future. +++

+++ The best-selling car in EUROPE was an Electric Vehicle for the first time ever in September, as the Tesla Model 3 surpassed the Volkswagen Golf. The saloon also became the first ever car from a manufacturer based outside of Europe to become the bestseller. A total of 24.600 units were registered in September, equivalent to a 2.6 % market share. Tesla’s strong performance in September continues a strong trend for the American firm, as the month on average has accounted for 68 % of its third quarter deliveries since 2018. Electrified vehicle ownership grew 44 % to 221.500 units, while the registrations of diesels decreased by 51 % to 167.000 units. “Dealers continue to face issues with the availability of new cars due to the chip shortage”, said automotive data firm Jato Dynamics. “As a result, unwilling to wait more than a year for a new car, many consumers have turned to the used car market”. Total new car registrations dropped overall by 25 %, as total volume decreased to 964.800 units, attributed to the shortage of new cars due to the chip crisis. “This year, the industry has responded well to the pandemic, but it’s now facing new supply chain challenges”, Jato Dynamics said. “The growing popularity of EVs is encouraging, but sales aren’t yet strong enough to offset the big declines seen across other segments”. Tesla’s success this month means the firm now leads the EV market with a share of 24 %. The Volkswagen Group has a 22 % market share, Stellantis a 13 % share and Hyundai-Kia almost 11 %. The Ford Kuga topped the standings for plug-in hybrids once again, with 3.385 units sold, followed closely by the BMW 3 Series. Here are the bestselling cars in Europe in September 2021: 1) Tesla Model 3 24.591, +58 %; ​2) Renault Clio 18.264, -23 %; 3) Dacia Sandero 17.988, -8 %; 4) Volkswagen Golf 17.507, -39 %; 5) Fiat 500 16.349, -3 %; 6) Opel/Vauxhall Corsa 15.502, -41 %; 7) Peugeot 2008 14.931, -16 %; 8) Hyundai Tucson 14.088, +40 %; 9) Peugeot 208 13.895, -31 %; 10) Renault Captur 13.715, -36 %. +++

+++ HYUNDAI ’s electric sub-brand will follow up the impressive Ioniq 5 crossover with a low-slung electric four-door coupe in 2022. Badged Ioniq 6, it will rival cars such as the Tesla Model 3 and BMW i4, and will offer the most range of any Hyundai EV yet, thanks to continued development of the 800 volt E-GMP platform now used across the Hyundai Group’s various brands. The new car has been spied testing ahead of its anticipated unveiling next summer, and rumours suggest that Hyundai has pushed the car’s debut back for some key engineering tweaks, which are intended to increase the car’s range beyond the 480 km of the Ioniq 5. These late changes include revisions to the car’s design and its size, with a slightly longer body being mooted by corners of the South Korean automotive press. Hyundai will now equip the Ioniq 6 with a 77.4 kWh battery shared with the Kia EV6, rather than relying on the 73 kWh pack in the Ioniq 5. It’s a small difference on paper, but combined with the Ioniq 6’s aerodynamic design, which is closely informed by last year’s Prophecy concept, it means that the Ioniq 6 could achieve a range in excess of 500 km, while adopting the 5’s 306 hp all-wheel-drive dual-motor powertrain. I also expect the car to be offered with a smaller 58 kWh battery and single-motor set-up, making a Dutch starting price of below €53.000 plausible. With late-stage prototypes now being spied regularly on the roads, we have a better idea of what the Ioniq 6 will look like. The car will have proportions similar to those of the Ioniq hybrids, with a longer bonnet, a low-set glasshouse and bigger front and rear overhangs than the Prophecy. The 4-door coupe shape will be broken up with the addition of a rear spoiler set low on the bootlid for improved aerodynamics. The new car’s interior will take less inspiration from the Prophecy than it will from the Ioniq 5, with a similar dual-screen infotainment and instrumentation system expected. It will also come with a conventional centre console with a tunnel-like armrest running from the dashboard through the middle of the cabin. +++

+++ LAMBORGHINI has reported record sales for the first 9 months of the year, despite the semiconductor shortage and the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic in certain markets. For the period between January and September, Lamborghini managed to deliver 6.902 vehicles; a 23 % increase from the same period in 2020 which itself marked an increase of nearly 6 % from the first 3 quarters of 2019. The EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) region remains the largest for Lamborghini, accounting for 2.622 units, or a 17 % increase over last year. Following shortly behind EMEA is the Americas where sales jumped by 25 % to 2.407 units. The APAC (Asia-Pacific) region accounted for 1.873 sales; a 28 % increase over 2020. The Urus remains Lamborghini’s bestselling model and in the first 9 months of the year, no less than 4.085 units found new homes; a 25 % increase over last year. Sales of the Huracan also remain strong, despite it approaching the end of its lifecycle, with 2.136 units sold, a 28 % rise. A total of 681 Aventadors were sold over the same period, “in line with its planned lifecycle”, the automaker said in a statement. “The Lamborghini brand is in an extremely strong position, with a comprehensive and highly desirable model range across V10, V12 and the Urus Super SUV”, chairman and chief executive Stephan Winkelmann said in a statement. “The company not only weathered the difficult climate of the last 18 months but consistently maintained its volume growth, which is testament to the strength of our product portfolio, the marque’s continuing appeal worldwide and our business strategy and dealer network”. +++

+++ The LEXUS GS has been voted the best secondhand car to own in the British 2021 Driver Power Used Car Survey. The premium saloon performed admirably across all categories, with notably impressive scores for its reliability, build quality, powertrains, ride quality and heating/airconditioning. Second and third places in the used car rankings went to the Skoda Superb and BMW 3 Series respectively, while Lexus took the overall crown in the brands lineup. Alongside the GS in the top 10 were 3 other models from the Japanese manufacturer: the RX Mk3, the CT and the RX Mk4, which took 4th, 6th and 7th places respectively. European brands also saw strong performances, with Renault, Skoda, BMW and Porsche landing cars in the top spots for various classes, while category wins were also dished out. The Driver Power Used Car Survey saw more than 30.000 respondents from around the United Kingdom rate their used cars across 35 criteria, including performance, comfort, economy, build quality, infotainment, connectivity and safety features. Reliability was also judged, with a separate ranking based on the number of faults reported. For every new car sold in the UK, around four used models change hands, indicating how vital the results of the UK’s most comprehensive used car survey are to buyers, while manufacturers can also learn from the data. Chris Rosamond, consumer and features editor, lauded the value of the granular detail provided by Driver Power. He commented: “The real value of Driver Power is the fully independent perspective it provides in a car market awash with competing claims from manufacturers. Such a rich source of insight from the real world gives car buyers a chance to really zero in on what matters most to them when they’re researching their next used car purchase. It’s especially valuable if you want to be sure that you’ll get on well with a feature that often varies widely in user perception, even among otherwise excellent cars, because Driver Power reveals essential details of the ownership experience available nowhere else. For example, if the car’s infotainment system is a priority to you, this year’s survey reveals that the one in BMW’s 3 Series Mk7 is rated best of all. But if the stereo matters more, you might consider the Skoda Superb Mk3. And if you’re EV-curious, the fact that the highest rated transmission of all is a car without one (the BMW i3) might just swing your decision”. +++

+++ MAZDA ’s commitment to internal combustion will extend to the next-generation MX-5, which is set to receive the Japanese manufacturer’s newest and most advanced petrol-engine technology rather than a plug-in hybrid or battery-electric powertrain. Mazda last year launched its first Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV), the MX-30 crossover, but just a year before that ushered in its innovative Skyactiv-X petrol engine technology, which uses spark-controlled compression ignition (SPCCI) to improve efficiency and performance. This could enable some petrol-powered Mazdas to remain on sale as their respective rivals go electric. The MX-5 in particular is a likely candidate, given that its relatively low sales volumes have a negligible impact on Mazda’s European fleet- average CO2 emissions. The manufacturer has previously confirmed that a Skyactiv-X engine will be used only in all-new models that have been designed around it and its associated mild-hybrid hardware. The first cars to gain a Skyactiv-X engine were the 3 family hatchback and its CX-30 sibling, and Mazda has previewed a new straight six that could appear in the next generation 6 executive car. Skyactiv-X technology is now offered in various European-market models without a turbocharger (the 3 is available in the US with a 2.5-litre turbo engine), making it highly likely that the MX-5 can stay trueto its naturally aspirated roots in its fifth generation. A small supercharger does feature as part of a Skyactiv-X engine, but only as a means of pressurising the air inside when it’s running on spark- controlled ignition (in so doing avoiding the accelerative lag caused by a turbocharger). Upgrading to the latest iteration of Mazda’s petrol-burning technology could make the next-generation MX-5 a substantially more potent proposition, as the firm claims that the 2.0-litre four-cylinder Skyactiv-X engine produces some 30 % more torque than the same-sized Skyactiv-G unit (used by the current, top-rung MX-5). This would take output from 205 Nm to nearer 260 Nm and most likely bring the 0-100 kph time below 6.0 seconds. The most recent version of the 3 packs only a touch more power with this unit (184 hp, compared with the 2.0-litre MX-5’s 181 hp), but a low kerb weight and usable performance have always been higher priorities than outright power for Mazda’s roadster. Notably, Mazda has yet to create a Skyactiv-X engine with a capacity lower than 2.0 litres, raising questions over the future of the entry-level 1.5-litre MX-5. Should the model be re-engineered from the ground up to accommodate Skyactiv-X tech, it is doubtful that Mazda would continue to offer any version of the Skyactiv-G engine. As such, it is likely that the next MX-5 will be offered with one powerplant in different states of tune. A manual gearbox will no doubt remain an option, however, in line with the car’s enthusiast focus. Although new, cleaner fuel-burning technology could extend the pure-petrol MX-5’s lifespan, the latest Skyactiv-X engines are equipped with a belt-driven mild-hybrid system, which slightly reduces CO2 emissions without incurring the weight penalty of a more cumbersome electric motor. Mazda design boss Ikuo Maeda has previously outlined the dilemma the firm faces in future-proofing the MX-5: “We want to look at the best powertrain to keep the vehicle lightweight, but because of the diversifying requirements and preference, we need to explore various options”. Crucially, he added, the next MX-5 must be a car that “people can own without worrying that they aren’t being eco-friendly”. The packaging constraints and lightweight focus of a diminutive sports car such as the MX-5 make extensive electrification largely unviable with the technology that’s on offer today. Even according to Mazda’s philosophy of using exclusively small batteries for EVs in order to minimise emissions from production, an electric MX-5 adopting today’s battery-cell technology would still be a much heavier car than the current model. For context, the MX-30 employs a relatively tiny 35.5 kWh battery pack yet still weighs some 500 kg more than the current MX-5 convertible. Outside the engine bay, the MX-5 is tipped to draw on the “less is more” design language previewed by Mazda’s striking Vision Coupé concept, which was revealed two years after today’s MX-5 was launched and has since influenced the looks of the 3, CX-30 and MX-30. Therefore angular LED headlights and a new-shape front grille are on the cards, although Mazda will no doubt steer away from its overtly aggressive design cues so as not to confuse the MX-5’s accessible positioning. The overhaul will be extended to the cabin, where the roadster will be brought into line with its newer contemporaries, benefiting from Mazda’s visibly more upmarket new-age dashboard design, complete with updated infotainment, digital dials and sleeker switchgear. Official details will be released closer to the model’s unveiling. Mazda has given no official indication of a launch date. However, based on the lengthy life cycles of previous MX-5s, it can be expected to go on sale in 2024. +++

+++ The new all-electric MERCEDES EQE SUV is being prepared for release next year, and our spies have captured a pre-production model testing in Germany. The heavy camouflage conceals much of the car’s styling details, but it’s evident that the EQE SUV will draw from the design language of Mercedes’ other EV offerings – in particular the EQC SUV and EQS saloon. We can pick out that the front facia is rounded and smooth, featuring a swooping grille design and integrated headlight arrangement similar to other EQ models. The front grille will house radars and sensors for the EQE SUV’s driver assistance technologies, with cooling airflow provided by a shallow vent below the main grille. The catest car we’ve spotted has a set of low-drag wheels with a diamond-cut finish and the steeply-raked windscreen should also aid aerodynamic performance in a bid to maximize the EQE SUV’s range on a full charge. The EQE forms part of Mercedes’s ambition to expand its range of fully electric EQ-badged vehicles so that it has an EV in every segment it serves by 2025. It won’t be the largest Mercedes electric SUV we’ll see in the coming years, but it will be positioned towards the top end of the company’s EV line-up, sitting above the EQC and the smaller EQA and EQB SUVs. The EQE will sit on the same EVA2 underpinnings as the EQS and EQE saloons. It also marks a shift away from the conventions set by the EQC, which uses a modified version of the GLC’s platform rather than dedicated electric architecture. The EVA2 platform is highly modular, and Mercedes is expected to launch a broad range of powertrains and battery options across the EQE range. In fact, the German brand has already filed trademarks for a whole host of badges, including AMG monikers from EQE 43 to EQE 63, suggesting that high-performance variants are in the works. Mercedes has already revealed powertrain details for the car’s saloon relative in EQE 350 guise. This will use a 90 kWh (usable) battery to power a motor on the rear axle, which produces 292 hp and 530 Nm of torque. Performance figures for the EQE 350 haven’t been detailed, but Mercedes quotes a range of up to 410 miles from a full charge. With 170 kW DC charging capability, a full battery top-up takes 32 minutes, or 8 hours and 25 minutes from an 11 kW AC charge point or wallbox. Mercedes also offers an optional 22kW AC on-board charger, reducing this time to just over four hours. The firm has also partnered with providers such as Ionity and Shell Recharge to give its future EV drivers convenient access to rapid charging stations. The EQE saloon can be specified with the MBUX Hypercreen infotainment system that debuted on the EQS, which we also expect to be available on the EQE SUV. This comprises a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, a 12.3-inch touchscreen for the passenger and a 17.7-inch central display. Speaking about the company’s future, Mercedes CEO Ola Kellenius, said: “At Mercedes, we are going from EV-first to EV-only for our new architectures and cars. On a global level, the pace of change in the markets will vary, of course. A little faster here, a little slower there. But the transformation to battery electric cars is unstoppable. And it will pick up speed everywhere. We are accelerating our ramp-up in R&D activities to serve an all-electric era. Investments in new technologies will be significantly increased and pulled forward. This includes expanded activities in battery cells and systems”. Looking to the future, Mercedes will launch a range-topping EQS SUV next year, which will eventually spawn its own Maybach variant. The G-Class will go also all-electric in 2024 with a model called EQG confirmed and, in 2025, the firm will launch its next-generation MB.AE platform as it shifts towards becoming a pure-electric manufacturer. +++

+++ Horacio PAGANI revealed this week that his company’s next car will feature an AMG-sourced V12 as well as a manual transmission. He said that although a name has been chosen for the upcoming hypercar, the company is not ready to reveal it yet. In the meantime, they are using the codename C10. Pagani said that the new hypercar will be offered with Mercedes’ 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 and with either a new sequential gearbox or a manual transmission. “There are customers who didn’t buy the Huayra because we didn’t offer a manual. My audience wants to feel emotions when driving: they don’t care about pure performance”. That was a theme throughout Pagani’s conversation, who said that development was more focused on dropping weight than adding horsepower. The C10 won’t add more than 30-40 hp over the Huayra and certainly won’t go over 900 hp. Although that’s certainly plenty of power, it’s less than electric hypercars offer. Pagani is aware of that, but not particularly concerned about it. “Look at Gordon Murray’s T.50: it sold out even though it only has 650 hp”, he said. “It is very light, has a manual gearbox and a V12 that runs very high. You don’t need 2.000 hp to excite the driver”. Indeed, he says that the weight of EVs concerns him, especially as someone who puts his own name on his cars. “An ordinary person driving an electric car can accelerate in the middle of the city from one traffic light to another and reach monstrous speeds,” says Pagani. “And even if we talk about torque vectoring and the like, when a car weighs more than 1.500 kilograms, the management of the grip limit becomes very dangerous: no matter how much electronics you can have, you can not go against the laws of physics”. Although Pagani has an interest in electrified powertrains, he’s not sure he can make a business case for one yet. For now, he’s satisfied with internal combustion and said the twin-turbo V12 powering the C10 will meet regulatory requirements without any form of electrification until 2026: “For the time being, we have not asked for concessions and we hope to continue like this. But if one day we have to switch to hybrid, we will”. We’ll have to wait a bit more before learning the new car’s official name, never mind seeing how it looks, as Pagani says he plans to unveil his latest creation, of which between 280 and 300 examples will be made, in 2022. +++

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