By Wayne Gorrett
Selected highlights from the auto industry’s news makers. This week, news from:
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VAUXHALL : New Mokka has the all-over X factor
Images of an overdue refresh for the Vauxhall/Opel Mokka crossover have been released. It also gets a new name – Mokka X. The ‘X’ designation will be used on all future Vauxhall/Opel SUV and crossover vehicles to emphasize ‘a more adventurous and rugged persona’.
The front end has received most of the design studio’s attention, with more subtle changes made to the rear of the car. Up front, its new look features a wing-shaped horizontal grille and more sculpted surfaces with less plastic inserts, while the LED daytime running lights sport a double wing signature.
Inside, the Mokka X comes with a new dashboard similar to that seen on the new Astra. The instrument panel features more horizontally shaped elements. The centre stack has been redesigned around the 7-inch display of the new-gen infotainment system, but now with less buttons as many of the functions can now be accessed via touchscreen.
Connectivity is well taken care of by Vauxhall’s IntelliLink system which adds both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, the most significant ‘bang-for-connectivity-buck’ is reserved for the new OnStar ‘personal connectivity and service assistant’, which offers a built-in 4G wireless hotspot, personal OnStar advisors available 24/7 to download destinations to the navigation system, bring roadside assistance to the vehicle’s location or even call the emergency services in the event of an accident.
The new Mokka X will undergo its world première at next month’s Geneva Motor Show and is expected in UK showrooms later this year.
MERCEDES-BENZ : Pricing announced for SL Roadster line-up
The four-model, all-petrol-engined Mercedes-Benz SL is now available to order and is priced from £73,805 for the SL 400 AMG-Line. The ‘starter’ SL wears a 4.0-litre V6 engine which produces 367 bhp, which is 34 bhp more than its predecessor, and has a 0-62 mph time of 4.9 seconds.
Next, the SL 500 features a 4.6-litre V8 motor with an output of 455 bhp, allowing it to reach 62 mph in 4.3 seconds. It is priced at £82,155.
An investment of £113,175 will secure the first of two AMG-engined SL models – the Mercedes-AMG SL 63. It features a 5.5-litre V8 engine delivering 585 bhp, which translates into just 4.1 seconds for the 0-62 mph stat.
Headlining the SL stage is the Mercedes-AMG SL 65 – armed with a 6.0-litre V12 engine which has an output of 630 bhp and a cornea-shifting 0-62 mph time of only four seconds. It will remove £172,140 from your bank account.
The new Mercedes-Benz 9G-Tronic Plus automatic gearbox is now standard on both the SL 400 and SL 500, replacing the 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission. The Mercedes-AMG SL 63 features the AMG SpeedShift MCT 7-speed automatic, while the Mercedes-AMG SL 65 comes with AMG SpeedShift Plus 7G-Tronic 7-speed automatic gearbox.
AUDI : The new 362 bhp AUDI RS Q3 Performance
There’s a new kid at the top of the Audi Q3 pile, bringing new power and equipment upgrades which leapfrog the former RS Q3 flagship sibling – the RS Q3 Performance. The RS Q3 Performance offers a monstrous 362 bhp and delivers 465 Nm of grunty torque, and now slots above the 335 bhp RS Q3.
Up front is a revised version of Audi’s award-winning, 2.5-litre TFSI, five-cylinder engine good for 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds and 167mph top speed. A panel of my peers recently named the power plant ‘International Engine of the Year in its category for the sixth consecutive year.
The cooling capacity of the main radiator has been increased and the fuel pump has been modified to liberate 27 bhp more power. Its peak torque of 465 Nm (343.0 lb‑ft) is available between 1,625 and 5,550 rpm, rocketing the compact SUV to break through the 62 mph barrier from rest in just 4.4 seconds (RS Q3 4.8) and to reach a top speed of 167mph. However, the result of the combined fuel consumption test is a respectable 32.8 mpg, which corresponds to 203 grams CO2 per km.
Orders are expected to open around early March with a base price of £49,175.
KIA : All-new Sportage – Range and Prices
Kia have announced its pricing and specification structure for its best-selling model in the UK, the all new fourth-generation Sportage, which went on sale last Friday.
There are no less than 18 variants with four engine choices and three transmission options across six trim grades in the new Sportage line-up. Prices start from £17,995 for the 1.6 GDi six-speed manual ‘1’, culminating in the 2.0 CRDi six-speed auto ‘First Edition’ at £31,645. High-spec GT-Line versions are introduced for the first time on the Sportage and prices for the four-model GT-Line range start at £24,350.
On the refreshed engine and transmission front, the new Sportage introduces a 1.6-litre T-GDi turbo unit and a 7-DCT (seven-speed dual-clutch automatic) gearbox, both of which will only be found sporting GT-Line badging. They join the re-engineered 1.6-litre GDi petrol and 1.7-litre and 2.0-litre turbodiesel power units with improved fuel efficiency and CO2 reductions of up to 29g/km, which for business drivers translates into low company car tax.
The six trim lines are badged 1, 2, 3, 4, GT-Line and First Edition. All versions powered by the 1.6-litre GDi and 1.7-litre CRDi engines are front-wheel drive, while those powered by the 1.6-litre T-GDi unit and the two 2.0-litre CRDi diesels have all-wheel drive – distinguishable by the ‘KX’ prefix in the model designation – except for GT-Line and First Edition versions.
JEEP : New Renegade ‘Night Eagle’ limited edition
Following in the tyre ruts of its larger sibling, the Cherokee Night Eagle, which was launched in the UK last November, Jeep has announced a new Renegade ‘Night Eagle’ limited edition which is similarly based on the mid-spec Renegade Longitude, but adds 17-inch black alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, satin grey Jeep badges and unique Night Eagle badging, coloured roof bars and side mirrors, and satin grey grille rings on a black front grille.
On sale now, there will only be 350 Renegade Night Eagles coming to the UK. Of those, just 160 will be available in the unique Volcano Sand matte paint finish, which complements the two other available colours: Carbon Black and Alpine White.
Inside, the Renegade Night Eagle is enhanced with exclusive seats in bark brown fabric with electric lumbar support for the driver, leather wrapped steering wheel, dual zone climate control, DAB UConnect radio with 5-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, satnav and cruise control. A limited number of options are available, including electric panoramic sunroof, heated front seats and steering wheel, and a regular size spare wheel.
There are two MultiJet II diesel engine choices, both coupled to a six-speed manual ‘box.
* 1.6-litre, 120 bhp, 2WD, 64 mpg (combined), £21,595.
* 2.0-litre, 140 bhp, 4WD, 55 mpg (combined), £24,095.
LAND ROVER : End of line Defenders are a smart investment
Fans of the iconic Land Rover Defender who rushed to buy a piece of history are proving to have made a smart investment decision as prices soar. Automotive valuation specialists CAP say good examples are demanding a huge premium over new list price.
CAP say a three-year-old Defender 90 hard top with 30,000 miles was valued at £11,600 average trade price last June and now the equivalent aged model is £12,300.
Dealers are demanding huge premiums for nearly new vehicles. Land Rover retailer Ross Munro, from LR Motors in North Yorkshire said: “Nearly new or pre-registered Defender models are selling for 20% over list price and we are seeing some owners asking more. With 75% of all Defenders ever built still on the road, they could prove to be a smart move for investors or enthusiasts.”
Defender has attracted a thriving aftermarket with specialist companies such as Twisted producing enhanced vehicles with prices up to £150,000. Twisted say they have seen enquiries jump by 30%, with interest coming from business people and celebrities around the world.
SMMT : UK market experiences the best January in 11 years.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reports that growth within the UK’s new car market continued unabated in January, with registrations climbing 2.9% compared with the same month in 2015 – an 11-year high of 169,678 units. January 2005 saw 181,474 new cars registered. Private registrations climbed 8.2% to 73,061 vehicles – the highest level since 2004.
In an interesting development, auto manufacturers will be equally heartened with the 6,075 alternatively-fuelled vehicles registered in January, up 32.1% to take a record 3.6% market share.
ROAD SAFETY : Road deaths increase by 3% since 2014
Road safety charity Brake is extremely disappointed that the latest estimated figures from the Department for Transport show that 1,780 people were killed on Britain’s roads in the 12 months to September last year.
An estimated 5,620 drink-drive crashes took place in Great Britain in 2014, that’s equivalent to just over 15 collisions every single day. These crashes resulted in 240 deaths and represent 14% of all deaths on the roads; there were 8,220 casualties.
Mr Gary Rae, campaigns director for Brake, said: “Behind the statistics, families are ripped apart by what is a violent and sudden death. I want to know what the government intends to do to stop these wholly preventable deaths. It’s time for them to take action: reintroduce casualty reduction targets; reduce the drink drive limit to 20mg per 100ml of blood, and introduce much tougher penalties for criminal drivers.”