Newsflash: Polestar gaat de strijd aan met Porsche

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+++ The newest ASTON MARTIN V12 Vantage cometh. Although I don’t know when it comes nor how many, we know what its front kind-of looks likeand there’s a glimpse of the rear end. Starting with that front aspect in the clouded image above, there will be an oversized grille like that on the Vantage F1 Edition with flanking intakes and a front lip spoiler. That lip will be aerodynamically entangled with some downforce-generating devices in back. The shaky-cam video tweet reveals a high wing with what look like serious endplates, and a double diffuser that would create additional ground-hugging suction over the standard car’s diffuser. If the prototypes spotted at the Nürburgring can be trusted, a central exhaust will replace the tips normally existing under the diffuser wings. The 2 previous V12 Vantages, parked behind the coming model in the photo above, have all been hardcore. This one, clearly, will go several leaps deeper into brutal territory. Considering CEO Tobias Moers’ time heading AMG, this feels like the company skipping a predictable V12 Vantage and going straight to a V12 Vantage Black Series. This being the third teaser this month for what will become the flagship Vantage in the range, we get the feeling a reveal won’t be more than a few weeks away. Rumors and whispers say we can expect the 5.5-liter twin-turbo V12 to produce somewhere around 670 hp, which would be 20 ponies down on the same engine in the Vantage-based Aston Martin Speedster unveiled last year, 40 ponies above the DB11 with the V12. All the body panels will be carbon fiber, and that there will be just 299 examples built, all using an 8-speed automatic transmission. Moers has said he plans 10 derivatives of existing models by 2023, the V12 Vantage’s tagline “Never Leave Quietly” leading us to believe this car will start the crescendo that announces the V12’s exit. The next Vantage and DB11 will go all-electric, the automaker pledging all its road cars will be battery-electric by 2030, with ICE builds reserved for track purposes. +++

+++ 2022 is going to be a busy year for BMW considering we already know the names of many high-performance vehicles that will debut. The M2, M4 CSL, XM, and iX M60 will all be introduced next year, but I’m honestly more excited to see the first-ever M3 Touring in production form. The revamped 7 Series is due next year as well and will come along with a fully electric i7 that should also have an M60 derivative. There might be even more to come in 2022 when the M division will celebrate its 50th anniversary. The M car will be extremely limited in numbers and quite unique, both in design and pricing point as well. It will apparently be joined by ’50 Jahre’ special editions for the M3 and M4, but the vibe I’m getting is a mysterious machine. So what could it be? Well, I wouldn’t go as far as to say it will be a true spiritual successor to the mid-engined M1, but we also expect something a bit spicier than just another special edition. There are shots of an interesting 8 Series Coupe spotted earlier this year at the Nürburgring, which may or may not be related. The peculiar prototype had bloodshot headlights, a red-tinged grille and vents built into the quarter windows. It’s unclear whether the odd prototype was a preview of a hotter 8er or a test mule for a different vehicle. For what it’s worth, BMW has already ruled out an M8 CSL, so it can’t be that. Here’s hoping the M division will mark half a century of existence with something other than an SUV since some of the enthusiasts are already disappointed the first bespoke M car after the M1 is a high-riding model. BMW has vowed to keep the inline-6 and V8 engines alive at least until the end of the decade as the engineers are finding ways to make the company’s largest combustion engines cleaner to meet increasingly tougher emissions regulations. That doesn’t necessarily mean the mysterious M car coming in 2022 will have an ICE, but I honestly hope that it will. Those tougher laws we mentioned have already killed the M760i and its V12, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that whatever BMW M is planning, it will feed on petrol. Regardless of the shape it will take, expect a high price tag and low production numbers, plus retro badges as all M and M Sport Package models will wear in 2022. +++

+++ New data reveals that topselling ELECTRIC CARS in various countries around the world. The publication concluded that Tesla is the top EV maker worldwide, and the Model 3 is the bestselling EV. Moreover, the Tesla midsize saloon is the topselling model in 4 more countries in 2021 than it was in 2020. Data from 61 countries was analysed, with Tesla taking the lead as the top manufacturer in a total of 24 countries. Nissan and Volkswagen snagged the second- and third-place positions, dominating the market in 10 and 7 countries, respectively. The brands’ top electric models are the Leaf and ID.4. Volkswagen has also added 2 new vehicles to the global EV top 5 list in 2021 alone, the ID.3 and ID.4. “The Tesla Model 3 continues to dominate the market and now in 4 additional countries. This may be due to the fact that it is the most affordable Tesla available on the market. It is also good to see other manufacturers gaining success in the EV market. Such as Volkswagen”, researcher Sarah Broomfield said. He confirms that Tesla dominates the EV market in more than one-third, or 39 percent, of the countries that were analysed in the study. The US-based electric automaker has seen its sales increase by 125 percent year-over-year thus far in 2021. She concluded: “Electric vehicles are often a lot cheaper to run than petrol or diesel cars, making them an affordable and efficient option. If you’re thinking about purchasing an electric vehicle it’s also important to consider the costs of charging it when weighing up your options as costs can vary depending on your energy tariff”. +++

+++ The EUROPEAN PASSENGER CAR MARKET continues to struggle. In November, new registrations in Europe (25 European markets, monitored by JATO Dynamics) decreased 18 % year-over-year to 855.281, which is also down 29 % compared to November 2019. After 11-months, the year-to-date volume is just 0.4 % higher than a year earlier, mostly due to the lack of semiconductors. The only part of the market that enjoys growth appears to be the plug-in segment, which has expanded to about 26% of the total – 217,709 registrations (including a small number of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles). Diesel is already left behind so it’s the right time to see who is next to overtake petrol cars. “The strong growth for EVs is partly explained by increased interest from the public, alongside the significant shift from governments and OEMs towards lower emissions vehicles”. According to JATO Dynamics, the market share of plug-in vehicles is higher than ever. In terms of the most registered all-electric models, the first happens to be the Tesla Model 3. Its result of 10.739 was also enough to take the #12 place overall. The Model 3 registrations increased 119% year-over-year, from a lower base. The next 2 models are the Renault Zoé (8.658 and #21 overall, but down 12 % year-over-year) and the all-new Dacia Spring (5.746 and #39 overall), which proves that price matters a lot. The Tesla Model Y managed to secure the 4th spot (5.347 and #47 overall), ahead of Skoda Enyaq iV (5.041) and Volkswagen ID.4 (4.748). If Tesla notes over 16.000 units in the middle of the quarter, then what we will see in the final month? Volkswagen Group’s MEB-based EVs also note a strong combined volume, despite production constraints. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 improved in November to 3.884 and #13 position (from 3.286 in October), while the Ford Mustang Mach-E was #20 with 2.679. Among plug-in hybrids, the top 3 were the Peugeot 3008 HYbrid (3.855), the Volvo XC40 Recharge T (3.437) and the Ford Kuga PHEV (3.109). +++

+++ The FIAT 500 ELECTRIC offers also good safety, according to recent Euro NCAP tests. The 4-star overall safety rating was completed with a brief comment about “strong performances” and “commendable four-star rating”. The small size of an electric supermini and its relatively light weight of 1.328 kg will probably never allow it to be a particularly strong contender in crashes with other, bigger vehicles. Nonetheless, 4-stars is a good result. In 2020, the Honda E also received 4-stars (each year the requirements are slightly higher, so results can’t be compared directly). The Adult Occupant and Child Occupant safety stand at respectively: 76 % and 80 %. In the case of Vulnerable Road Users and Safety Assist – both results are at 67 %. The Fiat 500 Electric test results were: Adult Occupant – 76 percent, Child Occupant – 80 percent, Vulnerable Road Users – 67 percent and Safety Assist – 67 percent. +++

+++ The Tokyo Auto Salon taking place January 14-16 will be the venue where HONDA pulls the wraps off the new Civic Type R Prototype. Yes, we mean Prototype, not the final car. Unfortunately, we’ll need to wait until later in 2022 to see the final product. However, we suspect Honda will have a number of preliminary details to share about the new Type R that will be revealed with the Prototype. The car that we see on display in Tokyo will be wearing a special camouflage that Honda designed specifically for the new Type R. We suspect that’ll be the same camo that’s already been pictured in a number of official and unofficial spy shots. Even if it is, the ability to get up close and personal with the camo’d car will still provide far more insights into the new Type R’s design than we’ve been treated to thus far. In addition to the car itself being there, Honda says it will have a new “action-packed” video that will highlight Honda’s testing of the Type R to see what engineers have been doing with the car. And that is all Honda is saying for now. +++

+++ The MERCEDES-BENZ EQB has received the maximum 5-star overall safety rating from Euro NCAP, with pretty good scores in all categories. Euro NCAP has rated the EQB using data for the Mercedes-Benz GLB, which has a “practically identical” structure plus the data from additional crash tests of the EQB itself. This is why the rating is for “2019” despite it being a new model. “The Mercedes-EQ EQB is a partner model to GLB and their structure is practically identical. Euro NCAP compared both vehicles to verify that the Mercedes-Benz GLB results can be applied to EQB and performed additional tests where necessary. The footage includes video of the Mercedes-Benz GLB 2019 and additional EQB 2021 tests”. My attention was caught by very high results in the Adult Occupant and Child Occupant categories: respectively 95 % and 91 %. The Mercedes-Benz EQS recently received 96 % and 91 %, which is almost identical. The Vulnerable Road Users result at 78 % and Safety Assist at 74 % are not bad either, compared to 76 % and 80 % respectively in the EQS. It’s great to see that the less expensive Mercedes-Benz cars are also very safe. +++

+++ Even though many EV aficionados are not really on-board with the idea of putting a gearbox in an electric car, it looks like manufacturers are still doing it. Right now only the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-Tron GT have a gearbox and they are 2 much-loved EVs, but the same cannot be said of their transmissions. On that note, I find it quite interesting that other automakers are also working on similar solutions, in spite of their unpopularity. POLESTAR will develop its own powerful in-house electric motor, as well as a 2-speed gearbox that doesn’t sound too dissimilar to Porsche and Audi’s. The motor is reportedly codenamed P10 and it’s being developed in Sweden. It’s around 50 percent more powerful than a Porsche Taycan motor, with a targeted output of 650 hp. It also sounds like the motor and 2-speed transmission will be a single unit, so when equipping all-wheel drive vehicles, each axle could get its own cog swapping action. This new motor and gearbox combo will be exclusive to Polestar, not shared with Volvo or Geely or any other manufacturer it has connections with. It won’t be shared with Lotus either, although the sports car maker (under Geely’s umbrella since 2017) has its own EV offensive planned to start unfolding in the next few years. I don’t know is which new Polestar model will get this motor, but the source also quotes Gregor Hembrough, head of Polestar Americas, who said: “There’s no reason the Polestar 2 and Polestar 3 will be talked about in the same sentence. Polestar wants to be a Porsche competitor, in design, performance, and innovation”. In other words, this to me sounds like they are creating this new powerful motor that has a 2-speed gearbox attached, just like a Porsche, in order to go after the Porsche Taycan with a direct rival. And he’s probably thinking of what will become the Polestar 5, the production version of the Precept concept. With a theoretical combined 1.300 hp from 2 of these new P10 electric motors from Polestar, the electric saloon they power would be among the quickest in the world, right next to the Tesla Model S Plaid or the Lucid Air Dream Edition and other vehicles that can accelerate to 100 km/h in the low 2 seconds. The new motor will most likely be used for the first time in vehicles built on the new 800 Volt architecture that is being developed by Volvo, Lotus and Polestar and it will be shared among the three brands. It will feature a 103 kWh battery pack with charging up to 80 percent in 20 minutes and V2X (vehicle-to-everything) capability. +++

+++ SUBARU is showing some fun stuff at Tokyo Auto Salon this year. The big news will be the concept it’s teasing, shown above, which will apparently be electrified. It also will be showing some of its sporty models with new STI accessories, including the recently launched WRX. The concept that Subaru has teased looks quite interesting, even if we can’t see it clearly. The nose looks low, with a low and wide grille a bit like a BRZ, but clearly it’s something unique and original. It has angular, angry headlights like on the WRX. We can make out some air extracting vents in the hood, too. Subaru also provided a name: the STI E-RA concept. The E is definitely a nod to the electrification. The RA is a letter designation seen on past Subarus, and most recently the letters stood for “record attempt” on special edition WRX STIs. So whatever it is, it’s serious and probably quite fast. The only car shown so far with STI parts is the WRX, and fortunately it’s shown clearly. The standout parts are the body additions. All around the lower section are lip spoilers and side skirts, and they’re in STI’s signature “cherry red,” which we would definitely call pink. If they weren’t bright pink, they’d actually be quite subtle additions. They’re matched by equally pink mirror caps. They work pretty well with the gray paint, but we suspect the pink would clash a bit with some colors, such as orange. At the back is a huge carbon fiber wing. Subaru says there’s a more aggressive-sounding muffler, too, though obviously pictures don’t do much for us on that subject. Availability isn’t mentioned, but we bet these parts will be offered in Japan, and some may even make the journey to the States. Even if they don’t come officially, we bet there will be some people willing to export them to intrepid buyers. As for the BRZ and Levorg models, they should be similar to the WRX shown above. They’ll probably be showcases for upcoming STI accessories that will go on sale in the near future. So stay tuned for info on those and the E-RA concept in January. +++

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