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The PR Playground – pieces mostly unedited – all worthy of a read!

NEWS ➤ Toyota GR-4 Yaris to debut January

2020 Toyota GR-4 Yaris

The all-wheel drive Toyota GR-4 Yaris, an all-new, rally-inspired sports car, will make its world debut at the Tokyo Auto Salon on January 10th.

Plucked straight out of the World Rally Championships (WRC), the GR-4 Yaris has been slightly de-hooned to make it road legal, but still benefits from advanced technologies, knowledge and experienced acquired in the WRC under the Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) banner.

It will be the second pure sports car to be launched globally by TGR, following the return of the legendary Toyota GR Supra. The ‘4’ in the name denotes all-wheel drive.

For the Japanese market, an AWD version of the Yaris is already offered. It has a more sophisticated multi-link suspension than the front-wheel-drive European model. The teaser video above confirms the new model will have four-wheel drive; footage of a full-throttle launch showed all four wheels gripping the surface.

The GR-4 Yaris has completed its final development stage and a prototype was recently pushed to the limits by Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s global president, under his TGR Master Driver codename ‘Morizo’ (how cool is THAT?).

2020 Toyota GR-4 Yaris

In 2017, TGR returned to the FIA World Rally Championship with the Yaris WRC, going on to post five victories and secured the manufacturers’ title the following year. Its success has continued in 2019, with the team claiming both the drivers’ and co-drivers’ championships.

Further details of the new Toyota GR-4 Yaris will be announced in due course.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2019 in News

 

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NEWS ➤ Range Rover Velar Black edition

2020 Range Rover Velar Black edition

Land Rover UK has announced availability of a Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic Black edition, with only 500 units entering production and all for the UK.

Based on the popular Range Rover Velar D180 R-Dynamic SE, the limited Black edition features a ‘Black Exterior Pack’, privacy glass, panoramic roof, 21-inch gloss black alloys, heated steering wheel metallic paint and adaptive dynamics as standard. The special edition adds £4,885 worth of options for £1,125.

2020 Range Rover Velar Black edition

Two metallic exterior colour finishes are available to choose from; Santorini Black and Eiger Grey, while for the interior there is ebony grained leather furniture and black headlining.

The range-entry D180 diesel engine is the only engine available. It’s a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with 178hp and comes with a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive as standard.

2020 Range Rover Velar Black edition

Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 8.9 seconds, the car’s top speed is 120mph and up to 42mpg is possible. It’s a shame that the R-Dynamic Black isn’t available with the more powerful 237hp D240 engine, which knocks the 0-62mph time down to 7.4 seconds while still returning 41.1mpg.

Pricing for the Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic Black starts at £56,995 and is available to order now with first deliveries expected in early 2020 – WG.

2020 Range Rover Velar Black edition

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2019 in News

 

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NEWS ➤ Euro NCAP’s latest results

Tesla Model X

Last week, Euro NCAP released its latest round of crash-test results after a dozen vehicles were put to the test.

The Tesla Model X, Porsche Taycan, Audi Q7, Renault Captur, Subaru Forester, Skoda Octavia, Ford Mondeo and Ford Kuga all achieve the coveted five-star rating.

2020 Skoda Octavia

The all-new Peugeot 2008 was tested both with the optional safety pack and with standard safety equipment achieving five and four stars, respectively. The updated Volkswagen Sharan and twin sister SEAT Alhambra get a creditable four stars, while the facelifted Jeep Renegade claims only three.

Porsche Taycan

The stand-out performer of this round is undoubtedly Tesla’s Model X, scoring 94% for Safety Assist, the same percentage as its smaller Model 3 sibling scored earlier this year. This makes the two Teslas the best performers in this part of the assessment against Euro NCAP’s most recent protocols.  The recently-updated Model X also achieved an impressive 98% for adult occupant protection, making it strong contender for Best in Class this year.

2020 Peugeot 2008

 Another eye-catcher of this round is the Taycan, Porsche’s first battery electric vehicle (BEV), set to rival to the Tesla Model S and Jaguar I-PACE in the BEV saloon segment. While the Taycan is all about high-performance electric driving and primarily targets the premium end of the consumer market, it is reassuring that the car achieved the full five stars in safety testing.

2020 Subaru Forester

The Skoda Octavia, Renault Captur, the Ford Kuga and Audi Q7 all performed well in different size categories. The all-new Peugeot 2008 shares the same platform with other models of the PSA Group, such as the second generation DS 3 Crossback and the Vauxhall Corsa.

Like the DS 3, the Peugeot 2008 offers an optional ‘Safety Plus’ pack on all variants, that adds a radar sensor alongside the standard camera and gives the car enhanced AEB capabilities. Subaru’s new Forester also performed well all-round, showing off its family car credentials by scoring particularly well in child occupant protection. The Forester completes an all five-star model line-up for the Japanese manufacturer.

Ford Puma

The Volkswagen Sharan and its SEAT twin, the Alhambra, have been around for several years, but the VW Group has done a fine job in keeping them up-to-date in terms of safety, with the addition of autonomous emergency braking and rear seatbelt load-limiters. The outcome is a still-competitive four-star rating, and the cars are amongst the few to offer i-Size compatibility in all rear seats and integrated child restraints as an option in the second row. This continues to make them ideal transport for a growing family.

The venerable Ford Mondeo has also been updated with AEB, and rear pre-tensioners and load-limiters, and offers safety to rival many newer vehicles.

Jeep Renegade

However, on the recently facelifted Jeep Renegade, AEB is not standard and oddly remains on the options list. As a result, it becomes the only car so far this year to achieve a rating of less than four stars.

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Michiel van Ratingen, Euro NCAP’s Secretary General:

“Well done to Tesla and the other 5 stars performers for not only bringing best in class performance in testing but also making safety systems accessible and standard across the European market. It is also good to see manufacturers – Ford and Volkswagen in this case – standardising AEB and keeping safety up-to-date even for older cars, to the benefit of their customers.

It’s a pity that not everyone follows this example and, by prioritising looks over substance, Jeep ended up at the bottom of the list of this year’s rated cars. Fortunately, consumers face a greater choice than ever to find a safer alternative.”

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2019 in News

 

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NEWS ➤ 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Commercial Reflex Plus

Mitsubishi Motors in the UK has expanded its plug-in hybrid commercial vehicle range with the addition of a new, high-specification Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Reflex Plus Commercial.

Based on the already well-equipped Outlander PHEV Commercial Reflex, the ‘Plus’ adds 18-inch alloy wheels, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone connectivity, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a reversing camera.

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Commercial Reflex Plus

All Outlander PHEV Commercial vehicles are equipped with advanced four-wheel-drive, a rear spoiler, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, heated front seats, DAB radio, keyless operation and dual-zone climate control (which can be programmed to warm or cool the van in advance of a journey) and a full load bay bulkhead. It also offers a flat load area measuring 1.65m x 1m with a maximum payload of 500kg.

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Commercial Reflex Plus

Being classed as an Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) means the ‘Plus’ is eligible for the UK government’s plug-in van grant, so businesses benefit from a saving of £7,905.16 resulting in an on-the-road CV price of just £25,131.33. The entry-level Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Commercial Reflex is priced from £24,298 on the road.

Thanks to its low emissions (NEDC 40g/km, WLTP 46g/km) the Outlander PHEV is also permitted to make deliveries in ULEV zones while also offering the ability to cover longer distances non-stop when required (406 miles total range, 139.7mpg WLTP) – WG.

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Commercial Reflex Plus

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2019 in News

 

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NEWS ➤ Volkswagen T-Roc cabriolet production begins

Volkswagen T-Roc cabriolet

Production of Volkswagen’s two-door, convertible crossover, the T-Roc Cabriolet, began this week at VW Group’s Osnabrück plant, where the Porsche Cayman is also built.

The T-Roc Cabriolet is the soft-top variant of the successful T-Roc crossover, which was added to the Volkswagen brand product portfolio in November 2017. The new convertible with SUV genes offers a striking design, elevated seating position and high level of functionality. Open-air enjoyment starts at the press of a button, with the soft top opening in just nine seconds, at speeds up to 19mph.

Volkswagen T-Roc cabriolet

Volkswagen T-Roc cabriolet

With the hard roof absent, passenger protection is taken care of by an extendable rollover protection system that deploys behind the rear headrests if the car senses that it’s about to tip over.

Exact specs have yet to be announced, but VW says that the T-Roc Cabriolet will have the option of a new infotainment system that’s permanently connected to the internet, accessible through an infotainment screen up to 8.0 inches in size. There’ll also be the option of an 11.7-inch digital instrument panel, in place of traditional dials.

Volkswagen T-Roc cabriolet

Two trim levels are promised – the Style and the R-Line – offering a design-focused look or something a bit sportier in terms of exterior look, as well as sports-tuned suspension, fog lights and a different steering system. Despite the raised ground clearance, the T-Roc Cabriolet isn’t designed for off-roading, so comes only as front-wheel drive.

Power will come from a choice of two turbocharged petrol engines. A three-cylinder, 1.0-litre unit has 115hp, while a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder engine has 150hp. The former engine comes with a manual six-speed gearbox, while the latter has the option of a seven-speed, DSG gearbox – WG.

Volkswagen T-Roc cabriolet

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2019 in News

 

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NEWS ➤ All-hybrid Toyota Corolla for 2020

2020 Toyota Corolla GR hatch

*    Now an all-hybrid line-up with 1.8 and 2.0-litre powertrains.
*    New GR Sport and TREK estate versions introduced.
*    Apple Car Play and Android Auto now standard on all models.

The new, British-built Toyota Corolla has sold over 13,000 units to UK motorists since its launch in March this year. The hatchback, estate and saloon have been enriched with a series of early upgrades and new model versions for 2020.

In 2020, the Corolla becomes a full hybrid range following the discontinuation of the 1.2T turbo petrol engine. The new line-up carries forward Toyota’s improved 120hp 1.8-litre system and the new, 181hp 2.0-litre hybrid which made its debut with the model.

New Corolla GR Sport hatch

Corolla is the latest model to benefit from the influence of Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s championship-winning motorsport arm, with the introduction of new GR Sport models. These feature design and specification details that give the car a wider, more planted and powerful look and a sportier cabin.

Outside, there’s a sharper design for the lower centre bumper section, a wide honeycomb mesh pattern for the front grille and piano black surrounds for the grille and fog lights. There is a black insert in the rocker panels and the new 18-inch black alloy wheels have a contrasting bright machined finish to the tips of each spoke and red GR centre caps. At the rear, there is a silver insert in the lower bumper, creating the look of twin tailpipes and a diffuser. The GR Sport is adorned with official GR (Gazoo Racing) badging and a new ‘Ash Grey’ paint finish is an option.

Inside, the GR theme continues with sports front seats upholstered in fabric with a dedicated pinstripe pattern and with seatback and cushion bolsters finished in black and grey synthetic leather. It is also equipped with Toyota’s latest multimedia package, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functions.

2020 Toyota Corolla GR hatch

The equipment specification matches the mid-spec Corolla Design grade, but adds a new seven-inch colour TFT multi-information screen with 3D-effect graphics along with a colour head-up display. Other standard features include Toyota Safety Sense, LED headlights, smart entry, rear privacy glass, automatic wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and power-adjustable door mirrors with an auto-folding function.

The new head-up display presents data clearly in the driver’s line of sight, even in bright light conditions. Brightness and the position of the display can be adjusted using controls on the steering wheel.

Corolla TREK estate

The new Corolla TREK estate celebrates a partnership between Toyota and the internationally renowned bicycle manufacturer TREK. The suspension has been raised by 20mm and special exterior styling details have been added, including black edging for the front and rear bumpers, silver-finished front and rear under-runs, black wheel arch mouldings and black rocker panels with silver inserts.

There’s a new black contrast design for the 17-inch alloy wheels and TREK badging on the tailgate, plus rear privacy glass, a honeycomb-pattern grille and LED headlights.

2020 Toyota Corolla TREK estate

The interior features further special detailing, including TREK-branded door sill scuff plates, a special two-tone fabric upholstery and subtle wood-finish trim on the dashboard. The specification matches the mid-spec Corolla Design grade, with the addition of a power tailgate with kick sensor. It also adopts the new Toyota multimedia system from the GR Sport detailed above.

Enhancements to Excel trim grade

For 2020, the Corolla Excel grade has been enhanced with sports seats upholstered in black leather with red accents. The Excel estate further adds the convenience of a hands-free power tailgate that can be opened using a kick sensor below the rear bumper.

Corolla saloon

The Corolla saloon matches its hatchback and estate stablemates by introducing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone functions as standard on all versions. It’s also available with a new ‘Scarlet Flare’ paint finish option. Only the improved 1.8-litre hybrid system is available on the Corolla saloon.

2020 Corolla range

The new-look Corolla range is available in Icon, Icon Tech, Design, Excel and GR Sport grade for the hatchback and TREK trim on the estate. The Corolla saloon, powered by the 1.8-litre hybrid system, is offered in Icon, Icon Tech and Design specifications.

*    The new line-up is on sale and available for delivery now; GR Sport and TREK model deliveries will commence in January 2020.

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2019 in News

 

Maserati ‘mules’ head out for engine testing

The first ‘mule’ for the development of the new Maserati powertrain was driven out of the Viale Ciro Menotti gates, in Modena today.

The ‘mules’ (as test vehicles are known in the automotive industry) of a new Maserati model have a special wrap that echoes the ‘Save the Date’ teaser ahead of the full reveal event scheduled for May, 2020.

The experimental vehicles are equipped with a new powertrain entirely developed and built in Maserati and will pre-empt a new family of engines integrated exclusively on the vehicles of the marque.

The data acquired through the many thousands of miles covered by the mules will be integrated with the experience gathered in the Maserati Innovation Lab driving simulators, the most advanced in the world. This working methodology will then be used to fine-tune and develop the prototypes with final bodywork and mechanics.

More info to follow when available…

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2019 in News

 

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