Ministry of Justice opens flagship office in NOMA

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 14:23
The Ministry of Justice has taken space for its new flagship office in Manchester’s NOMA mixed-use neighbourhood.
Categories: Property

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E RWD First Test: A Very Cool Electric Pony

Motortrend News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 13:00

“How does it feel to drive the new Mustang Mach-E?” asked a passerby as I loaded my belongings into the rear seat of the four-door electric SUV. I paused for a few seconds while resting one hand on the door and summed it up in three words: It feels spectacular. “Oh yeah, how so?” he continued. The build quality, comfort, performance, technology, and styling are all impressive, I said. In due time, Ford is going to give Tesla a run for its money, I added. (Of course, it already has, in our extremely close recent comparison test between the two automakers.) The brief conversation took place in Palm Springs, an idyllic setting for an electric stallion in vibrant Rapid Red to roam the palm tree-lined streets emissions free. Just the night before, I had immersed myself in a thrilling night drive behind the wheel of our Mach-E test vehicle near the Port of Long Beach.

Previously, we tested an all-wheel-drive 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E equipped with the extended-range battery option. This test puts us in the driver’s seat of a rear-wheel-drive Mach-E with the Premium trim package. Our Mach-E has a standard-range 68-kWh battery pack that feeds power to a single electric motor mounted on the rear axle and a one-speed transmission that drives the rear wheels. This model generates 266 hp and 317 lb-ft and is good for an EPA-rated 230 miles of range on a charge.

About That Night in Long Beach…

Getting lucky on a Saturday night means escaping to an area where there are virtually no other cars. The surrounding roads, loops, overpasses, and a new bridge near the Long Beach harbor were the perfect proving grounds for test driving the Mach-E.

Naysayers can yammer on, but this electric Mustang is one hell of a sporty ride. When accelerating hard through turns, it’s easy to balance the car on the edge of a slide as you balance the accelerator and steering. Of the three available drive modes, Unbridled (which normal people would call “sport”) adds extra punch, so that was the default for the night. One-pedal driving takes some getting used to; nonetheless, the braking in this mode is outstanding. At slower speeds, there was no need to mash the brake pedal at stop signs or traffic lights. On curving roads, the Mach-E electric SUV reveals its precise steering and handling.

How did the rear-drive Mach-E perform during our instrumented testing? The team recorded a best 0–60-mph run of 6.0 seconds—1.2 seconds behind the dual-motor Mach-E 4x. On the figure-eight course, it logged a lap in 26.8 seconds at 0.65 average g, 0.6 second and 0.04g off the 4x’s pace. Stopping from 60 mph took 118 feet, 9 feet longer than the AWD version.

Compared to that 384-hp Model Y Dual Motor Long Range we previously tested, the 266-hp rear-drive Mach-E is 1.9 seconds slower to 60 mph—a closer result than you might expect given the all-wheel-drive Tesla’s traction and power advantages. Interestingly, both the Model Y and Mach-E RWD require the same stopping distance of 118 feet from 60 mph.

From L.A. to Palm Springs

The next task was to leave town to see about this perceived obstacle in the EV space known as range anxiety. The idea of driving an all-electric vehicle on a long trip could sound daunting at first but goes away when you stop thinking of battery-powered cars as alien technology.  The infrastructure may not be as common as gas stations, but it’s easier than ever to find a charging station—at least in California. And for those of us who can charge at home, driving an EV becomes even more practical.

Before heading to Palm Springs, we stopped at an EVgo fast-charging station and added approximately 17 kWh, which increased the battery pack’s state of charge from about 55 percent to 83 percent. Indicating 185 miles of range, the Mach-E made its way toward the desert resort city. Our vehicle settings were: one-pedal driving, Whisper (comfort) mode, air conditioning at the lowest fan speed, and all driver-assistance systems switched on. The goal was not to meet or beat an EPA rating but rather to drive the Mach-E as a gas-powered vehicle and treat it with some sense of normalcy.

The ride quality is as smooth as sliding across a marble floor in your socks. Forward visibility is impeccable, further enhanced by a high seating position afforded by the figure-hugging driver’s seat. Whenever we came upon a cluster of slower-moving cars on the highway, passing them offered us a chance to put the pedal to the metal. Hammering the accelerator sends the electric Mustang surging ahead in a very satisfying way. The suspension soaks up every road imperfection, and the steering has a comfortable heft.

The EV Charging Experience

After our 113-mile drive, which included a detour to the store, there were 75 miles of range when we arrived in Palm Springs. On the highway, our average speed was roughly 70 mph—and on occasion, higher. Conveniently, the Palm Springs Visitors Center has an EVgo fast-charging station. When we plugged in and completed the payment process, the message on the machine read “charge failed.” The issue led us to search for another charging station in the area. Finding one was not difficult using the Next EV Charge app on the Mach-E touchscreen infotainment system.

At the second location, the machine froze in the “processing payment” stage. We called EVgo customer service for assistance, and they immediately had a representative on the line. After we explained the issue, the rep was able to troubleshoot the charger and process the payment over the phone. She stated that had we called EVgo from the first station, they could’ve helped. The entire process took 15 minutes, and the Mach-E battery was now charging.

About an hour into charging, the session ended. It cost $16.20 to increase the battery’s state of charge from 30 percent to 83 percent. Following dinner, the time had come to return to Los Angeles. A Detroit-style playlist featuring AC/DC, ZZ Top, and Journey with a side of caffeine kept us awake all the way home.

Don’t Underestimate the Electric Pony

Charging and going on a long trip requires a bit more planning than filling at a gas station, but it’s not a huge inconvenience. For anyone thinking of making the transition to an electric-powered vehicle, you may want to consider the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E. The starting price is $43,995 before federal tax credits, state rebates, and available incentives.

Whether the Mach-E is a real Mustang or not is irrelevant. How confident do you feel driving it? Does it check all the boxes: safety, range, interior, styling, equipment, etc. These are the things that matter. Add its recent IIHS Top Safety Pick overall rating, and this midsize electric SUV is one not to be overlooked.

SPECIFICATIONS 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E BASE PRICE $43,995 PRICE AS TESTED $48,500 VEHICLE LAYOUT Rear-motor, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV MOTOR 266-hp/317-lb-ft AC Permanent magnet electric TRANSMISSION 1-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,394 lb (48/52%) WHEELBASE 117.5 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 185.6 x 74.1 x 64.0 in 0-60 MPH 6.0 sec QUARTER MILE 14.6 sec @ 94.8 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 118 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.84 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.8 sec @ 0.65 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 105/93/100 mpg-e ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 32/36 kWh/100 miles

The post 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E RWD First Test: A Very Cool Electric Pony appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Landlords lose legal challenge against Virgin Active

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 12:20
Landlords have been dealt a second major blow this week after Virgin Active won High Court approval for its controversial restructuring plan.
Categories: Property

2022 Mitsubishi Outlander First Test: Rogue Buyers, Listen Up

Motortrend News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 12:00

There’s a lot to say about the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander. The newly redesigned three-row SUV is Mitsubishi’s most competitive effort in over a decade, and now shares its underpinnings with the much-improved new Nissan Rogue.

We’ve already had the opportunity to talk about the context of the new Outlander and what it means for Mitsubishi in our First Drive. Now we’ve spent a week with the car for additional impressions and to run it on our test track, all to answer the question: Is it a smarter purchase than the Rogue with which it shares so much?


The Mitsubishi holds no advantage in performance. Candidly, the Outlander’s 2.5-liter naturally aspirated I-4 is barely up to the task of motivating this 3,845-pound SUV. At the test track, the Outlander needed 8.6 seconds to complete its 0–60 sprint. That puts the new Mitsubishi at the slower end of the segment, which translates to uninspired driving on the road. (A Nissan Rogue with an identical 181 hp and 181 lb-ft from the same engine and transmission hits 60 mph in 8.1 seconds, largely because it’s 200 pounds lighter.)

Scooting up to speed around town, acceleration is unimpressive but adequate as the CVT automatic holds the engine spinning around 2,500 rpm. The moan of the four-pot at constant revs is less than pleasant but usually not unduly loud. At higher speeds, though, accelerating up an on-ramp or matting the throttle to pass on the highway, we found ourselves yearning for more power and less noise.

Looking at the Outlander’s braking performance, its 60–0 mph stopping distance of 115 feet is impressive compared to compact SUVs that typically need another 10–15 feet. (The Rogue does the same stop in 114 feet.) That said, our test driver noticed a soft pedal and some nose dive in panic stop scenarios.

Driving Impressions

Living with the Outlander paints a nicer picture. Rarely did we find ourselves in situations that demanded full throttle or rapid acceleration, and the meager engine and drone-inducing CVT often faded into the background. At idle, noise and vibration from the powertrain is nearly imperceptible.

The steering is heavier than we’d expect for the segment—test editor Chris Walton called it “excessive”—but it is precise, and the Outlander holds a line well. When you’re not braking or cornering at the limit, body movements are kept to a minimum, and the vehicle rides comfortably over most impacts.

Once you get up to speed on the highway, the Outlander’s driver-assist features are mostly reliable and easy to use. The lane-centering function confidently positions the vehicle and can follow gentle curves. We appreciated steering wheel vibration as a lane departure alert in addition to the traditional auditory cue. Using the adaptive cruise control, the Outlander brakes with a human-like touch, although it can be sluggish to accelerate back up to speed. Active-safety functionality was displayed clearly on our test vehicle’s optional 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.8-inch head-up display.

Mitsubishi also provides a 360-degree camera system in addition to the industry-standard backup cam. That makes the Outlander much easier to park, and a dedicated camera button means you can instantly access it without searching through menus.

Interior layout and design are real strengths. Instead of capacitive touch buttons that lack feedback or overreliance on complicated touchscreen controls that take your eyes off the road, the Outlander has tactile, physical buttons for frequently used features, plus textured metallic knobs for volume, tuning, and HVAC controls.

The air vents are cleverly integrated in a continuous strip across the front cabin, and the available 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display is mounted high on the dash near the drivers’ line of sight. Interacting with the system is nearly seamless, with quick-enough responses and a logical layout.

Outlander SEL models feature real aluminum trim around the shifter, alongside a wide strip of glossy black plastic. In the wrong light, however, the black trim can reflect the sun directly into the driver’s eyes, and on multiple occasions we had to cover it with something less reflective to drive safely. On a happier note, we should mention the niceties of the SEL Touring package. This $2,700 option adds a heated steering wheel, a head-up display, a panoramic sunroof, rear window shades, a 10-speaker Bose premium audio system, and an impressive interior.

The Touring model gets quilted, semi-aniline leather upholstery in the first and second rows that feels thick and luxurious beyond what we’d expect from a compact SUV from a mainstream brand. The front seats are plush and supportive, and both the center and door-mounted armrests are soft and generously padded. (Armrest padding may seem like small praise, but it makes a noteworthy difference in long-haul comfort.) Quilted leatherette trim on the first- and second-row door panels classes things up, too.

Third-Class Third Row

Let’s talk about the rear seats. The second-row bench is comfortable enough and as nicely appointed as the front buckets, and our SEL test vehicle included automatic rear climate control. Seated behind a 6-foot-1 driver, we found enough legroom for a similarly sized passenger as long as the sliding second-row seats were positioned as far back as possible. One caveat, though: You lose 1.7 inches of headroom to the panoramic sunroof, and as a result, that 6-foot-1 head was up against the ceiling.

And now on to the third row. This is not a true seven-seat competitor to cars like the Honda Pilot or Kia Telluride, but rather a compact 5+2–seater more like a Volkswagen Tiguan. With the second-row bench slid fully rearward, there is zero space between the second-row seatback and the third-row seat cushion. For a full-size adult, achieving any modicum of comfort in the way-back row requires pushing the middle seats up against the front seatbacks.

Third-row headroom measures just 34.5 inches—4.6 inches less than the already cramped second row—which means theoretical 6-foot passengers have to crane their necks at a right angle or slouch to a point at which their legs no longer fit. Add to that claustrophobic tiny rear windows. We understand the third row is intended more for children than adults, but it’s hard to imagine any kid who has outgrown a child seat being able to comfortably spend time back there.

The Verdict

The new 2022 Outlander is an obvious improvement over its predecessor, and the co-engineering with Nissan clearly benefits the driving experience and interior quality. This is a smooth-riding, generously appointed, modern Mitsubishi. But why choose an Outlander instead of the mechanically similar Nissan Rogue? Unless you’ve fallen in love with the Mitsubishi’s flashy styling or its third row outweighs the slight disadvantage in usable cargo room, the main reason would be the longer warranty.

Whereas the Rogue offers a three-year/36,000-mile basic and five-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty, the Outlander has a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and powertrain coverage for 10 years/100,000 miles. Mitsubishi’s basic warranty also adds two more years of roadside assistance to Nissan’s. Considering that the Outlander is similar in almost every other measure, Rogue buyers would be foolish not to consider it.

2022 Mitsubishi Outlander Specifications BASE PRICE $34,940 PRICE AS TESTED $37,995 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 2.5L/181-hp/181-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4 TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,845 lb (57/43%) WHEELBASE 106.5 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 185.4 x 74.7 x 68.8 in 0-60 MPH 8.6 sec QUARTER MILE 16.5 sec @ 84.8 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 115 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.87 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.4 sec @ 0.61 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 24/30/26 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 140/112 kWh/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.74 lb/mile

The post 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander First Test: Rogue Buyers, Listen Up appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Avison Young promotes Maguire to valuation consultancy director

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 11:54
Avison Young has promoted Kerry Maguire to director in the firm’s valuation consultancy team.
Categories: Property

US furniture giant snaps up stately home for £20m as part of UK expansion

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 11:50
Luxury American furniture retailer RH has acquired a 46,000 sq ft stately home in Banbury for one of its UK retail galleries.
Categories: Property

2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 First Test: GT4 Goodness at a Deep Discount

Motortrend News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 11:00

Despite the gains in engine output and highway fuel economy, Porsche-philes were in an uproar when the mid-engine Cayman (and Boxster) turned away from the stalwart flat-six engines in favor of two new turbocharged flat-fours in 2017. Even the Cayman GTS came with one. The only way to get a naturally aspirated six-cylinder Cayman was with the pricey Cayman GT4. The GT4 was and is widely praised for its track-focused demeanor and trick bits—but also has diminished livability and limited availability. Add to that a modicum of conspiracy theorizing that Porsche wouldn’t allow any Cayman to outperform its halo car, the 911 Carrera. The theory went that the GT4’s “artificially” lower engine output, manual-only transmission (then), and too-tall gears were how Porsche hid the true potential of the Cayman. It came close but never did make the numbers of a base 911.

With the recent addition of the benchmark PDK dual-clutch automated manual, that performance delta has flipped the other way with the Cayman GT4 slightly ahead of a current base Carrera (but still trailing the Carrera S). Still, the Cayman GT4, boasting some suspension components from the even more racy 911 GT3, remains a track-oriented car with resulting tire noise roar and a busy ride on the street.

Enter the 2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS

The Cayman GTS recipe: Take the GT4’s 4.0-liter flat-six that effortlessly revs to 7,800 rpm, de-tuned to a mere 394 horsepower (a 20 hp loss) but with an additional 8 lb-ft of twisting force. Add to this active engine mounts, a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (a $3,730 option), standard Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), Sport Chrono package, and a torque-vectoring limited-slip differential, and voilà. But is the GTS really a GT4 at a $13,400 discount (base price to base price)?

Our evaluation loop with uneven pavement, peaks, valleys, a serpentine hill climb, city streets, and a highway blast was a true revelation of the breadth of talent the Cayman GTS has. No matter the situation, easily switching among driving modes with the thumbwheel on the steering wheel was second nature. The dampers seemed to read the pavement, the steering was telepathic, and the brakes unflappable. The hard knocks and jitters of the GT4 were banished, and the classic crescendo of a high-revving Porsche flat-six remained. The inherent balance of the mid-engine layout was on full display. The car always felt settled and confident, relaxed and ready. This version of the Cayman is so livable and simultaneously so thrilling that it really does approach the greatness of the eminently talented 911. The GTS is lovely, simply a pleasure to drive.

Testing the Cayman GTS

We were curious if the Cayman GTS would disappoint—compared to the GT4—when we hooked up our test gear. Compared to the last GT4 we tested, the GTS is down on power but is also 36 pounds lighter. Whereas the GT4 comes with super sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, the GTS rides on more streetable Pilot Sport 4S tires. The GT4 boasts carbon-ceramic discs to the GTS’s cast iron rotors. How do they compare?

From his notes, associate road test editor Erick Ayapana was impressed: “Launch control holds revs at 6,000 rpm! This car seems to really ride the clutch longer than recent PDKs we’ve tested. But it works, delivering consistent launches and times, run after run.” The GTS’s best 0–60 time of 3.4 seconds exactly matches that of the GT4. An 11.8-second quarter-mile time is also a dead heat, and at 118.6 mph, the GTS was going 1.1 mph faster than the GT4 as it crossed the finish line. Ayapana continued, “Brakes give me loads of confidence. Great pedal feel, feedback, and bite. The tires like some heat and my last run was 100–0 mph. Still very consistent. Stopping distances from 60 mph: 108, 107, 100, 101, 100, 101, 98, 101, 98, and 106 feet.” The best we could manage from the GT4 was 100 feet. Is this really happening?

Over on our figure-eight course, we wrung its neck and came back awestruck. “Another masterpiece from Porsche. The way that you wear this car instead of driving it is so encouraging. The way a driver can easily find the car’s limits, dangle it over and back again, commanding either under- or over-steer with confidence is very rewarding. Steering weight and precision are ‘Porsche perfect.’ And the way I can go very hard on the brakes and stay out of the ABS while I trail them deep into the skid pad is another hallmark of Porsche. Overall, this might be the sportiest AND most livable Porsche I can remember.”

The results? A 23.6-second lap time and a two-way average maximum lateral-acceleration figure of 1.03 g. That’s a 0.5 second and 0.02 g deficit to the hardcore GT4. You know what, we’ll take that in favor of all the other advantages the GTS enjoys. The 2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 really is a discounted GT4 with the ragged edges refined and polished to near perfection.

SPECIFICATIONS 2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 BASE PRICE $88,150 PRICE AS TESTED $94,200 VEHICLE LAYOUT Mid-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe ENGINE 4.0L/394-hp/317-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve flat-6 TRANSMISSION 7-speed twin-clutch auto CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,211 lb (43/57%) WHEELBASE 97.4 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 173.4 x 70.9 x 50.2 in 0-60 MPH 3.4 sec QUARTER MILE 11.8 sec @ 118.6 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 98 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 1.03 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 23.6 sec @ 0.85 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 19/24/21 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 177/140 kWh/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.93 lb/mile

The post 2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 First Test: GT4 Goodness at a Deep Discount appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Homes England and LendInvest join forces for £90m Ashford scheme

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 10:08
LendInvest and Homes England have joined forces to finance a £90m housing scheme in Kent, to be developed by SME housebuilder Kings Crescent Homes, Property Week can reveal.
Categories: Property

JLL and BNP Paribas capital markets pros launch new firm

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 10:05
Two investment specialists formerly from JLL and BNP Paribas have joined together to start a new advisory firm focusing on alternative real estate.
Categories: Property

Akers set to take up chair at Redrow

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 08:46
Former Landsec director Richard Akers has been appointed non‐executive chairman of housebuilder Redrow.
Categories: Property

Covid hits PHP acquisitions programme in first quarter

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 08:30
Primary Health Properties (PHP) has told investors the first quarter of the year was “characterised by a lack of suitable product” which led to only one acquisition.
Categories: Property

LXi buys Costa drive-thrus and industrial unit for £36m

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 08:05
LXi REIT has struck a forward funding deal to buy a portfolio of Costa Coffee drive-thrus and an industrial asset for £36m.
Categories: Property

Life After AMG: How CEO Tobias Moers Is Re-Energizing Aston Martin

Motortrend News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 00:01

Having worked for Daimler AG for 26 years, seven of them as the successful CEO of the company’s in-house hot-rod shop, Mercedes-AMG, it’s fair to say that running storied British sports car brand Aston Martin was not a career move Tobias Moers had ever considered. But when billionaire Canadian businessman Lawrence Stroll—who was assembling a consortium to buy the 16.7 percent stake in the troubled automaker that would make him executive chairman—called Moers in January 2020 to discuss the idea, the German was intrigued.

“How many brands are there that are still independent, where you can create something more sustainable, build something better?” says Moers of Aston Martin, which despite struggling in the aftermath of an unsuccessful IPO in 2017, was still producing fast, good-looking cars with unique character and charisma. “And I thought,‘Yeah, why not?’ ” 

Moers arrived at Aston headquarters in Gaydon, England, in August of last year. Nine months later, he’s still working 16-hour days—commuting home to Germany on the weekends—to refocus, reinvigorate, and reimagine a company that appeared to have lost its way. He’s strengthened a technology agreement with five-percent shareholder Mercedes-Benz, axed costly plans to internally develop an electric-vehicle platform, put Lagonda’s comeback on ice, and changed the company’s entire manufacturing process to help drive 35 to 45 percent gains in efficiency.

There’s a sharper focus on the cars Aston Martin will be building over the next five to 10 years, too. The two new mid-engine sports cars announced in 2019 are still in the mix, while the DBX SUV lineup will be expanded with the addition of a mild hybrid model later this year and a Lamborghini Urus–fighting high-performance model with at least 650 hp in 2022. By the end of the decade, Aston will also be building high-performance electric vehicles using an EV skateboard architecture sourced from Mercedes. Moers won’t comment, but given the enhanced technical cooperation with Mercedes, it’s likely the Aston EVs will be built using the performance EV platform AMG is rumored to have under development.

The Valkyrie, a multimillion-dollar road rocket with a Cosworth-built V-12 engine that revs to 11,100 rpm and ground effects aerodynamics honed by genius Red Bull F1 designer Adrian Newey, is two years late, but Moers insists the first customer car will be delivered in the second half of this year. The Valkyrie was to have been built in a separate, 90,000-square-foot factory, but Moers, who says the facility was simply too big, says the car will now be built at Gaydon.

Moers tries to spend every Friday at Aston’s test and development shop at Silverstone, 30 miles southeast of Gaydon, and has driven Valkyrie prototypes both there and on the road. And? He laughs. “It’s so cool! And different from anything I’ve driven. It’s a two-seat F1 car.” This from the man who at AMG kickstarted the Project One, a car powered by a genuine F1 engine. 

Work proceeds apace on the two mid-engine Aston Martin sports cars—Valhalla and Vanquish—but with one key change: The internal-combustion-engine component of both cars’ hybrid powertrains will not be the turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 Aston announced it was developing early in 2020 (pictured below). Instead, each car will have a different variant of AMG’s potent and versatile twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8, versions of which are currently used in the DB11, Vantage, and DBX. 

The Valhalla, described internally at Aston Martin as ‘Son of Valkyrie’, will share some technologies and engineering features with that car, and will be built in limited numbers. It will also be much less expensive. Moers doesn’t spell out details, but the Valhalla is likely to be a rear-drive hybrid, with an electric motor between the engine and transmission, much like the Ferrari SF90 Stradale, as the front venturis of the car’s Valkyrie-inspired aerodynamics make packaging motors on the front axle difficult.

Moers says the mid-engine Vanquish will be a “broadband mid-engine sports car” aimed squarely at the McLaren Artura in terms of performance and price, which, among other things, means there’s likely to be a convertible version in the future. There is also likely to be an all-wheel-drive version of the Vanquish, with electric motors driving the front wheels.

What happened to the in-house V-6? “I found that was just a concept when I arrived,” says Moers bluntly, adding that bringing it to production would have cost tens of millions of dollars. “If the engine had been ready, then for sure I would have moved on it. But it was not.”

The new technical agreement with Mercedes means Aston Martin now has access to not only the AMG V-8 engine, but also the coding that defines the key performance and efficiency parameters, something Moers says Aston hadn’t previously asked for. This will allow the company to carefully tune the engine for a wide variety of applications. 

But there’s another reason for sticking with the V-8, Moers insists: The proposed EU7 emissions regulations, which are scheduled to come into force in four or five years’ time, will make it very difficult for smaller-displacement engines to deliver big power, even with turbochargers. Aston will work with Mercedes to ensure the V-8 meets EU7, thus keeping it a viable engine for both companies for longer than expected. Moers is already looking for engineers who can work for Aston in the Stuttgart area.

What Moers calls Aston’s “traditional sports cars”—the front-engine DBS, DB11, and Vantage models—all will be refreshed over the next few years. The money saved from not doing the V-6 engine is being spent on a new infotainment system with a unique Aston Martin user interface and a unique Aston Martin back end that will debut with each model’s refresh. “It’s expensive,” Moers admits, “double-digit millions for sure, but it’s an investment in the brand.” As Moers points out, it’s difficult to call yourself a bespoke brand when you’re using someone else’s technology.

Moers wants to hang on to the turbocharged V-12 used in the DBS and DB11 “as long as possible,” but concedes the engine is unlikely to survive the switch to EU7. In the interim, he’s had it tweaked to give a more linear power delivery. With a lot of torque at low revs and then a slight flat spot until power started to build, the engine was, Moers found, tricky to handle through Silverstone’s fabled Stowe corner on a cold day with the traction nannies switched off. “There were a lot of things to do,” he laughs, “and you had to be quick on the steering wheel…” The first car to get the revised engine is the V12 Speedster, which launches in a few weeks.

Moers expects the expanded DBX lineup to account for 50 percent of Aston Martin sales, with the traditional sports cars accounting for 30 percent and the mid-engine sports cars 20 percent. He thinks a total production of 10,000 to 12,000 vehicles a year is the sweet spot for the company: “You can run a proper business with that.”

It’s been quite the career change for Tobias Moers. Is he having fun? “Not every day and not every moment, but I am having fun. It felt sometimes in the last few years with Mercedes like clay, that I couldn’t move as fast as I’d like to move. But it’s not about me. It’s about the people here at Aston Martin. To get their belief back.”

The post Life After AMG: How CEO Tobias Moers Is Re-Energizing Aston Martin appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Porsche Sonderwunsch: Your Source for Factory Quality One-Offs and Restorations

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 23:01

You may be familiar with Porsche’s Exclusive Manufaktur personalization program, or its Classic setup that provides parts and restoration support to classic Porsche models. Meet the zenith of these two services: Porsche Sonderwunsch. If you’re thinking that sounds like the word “sandwich” in German, rest easy—”sandwich” is the same in German as it is in English. “Sonderwunsch,” on the other hand, translates from German as “special request,” and applied here is shorthand for a new one-off custom car and total refurbishment service being launched to cater to Porsche’s most discerning customers.

Want Porsche to build you a complete one-off sports car? Done; Porsche calls that branch of the program Factory One-Off. Need your classic Porsche brought up to date and freshened? Also done. Feel like combining the engine from a modern 911 with your classic 911? The Sonderwunsch program is all ears. We’re told the only two limitations on what the new program can pull off are that Porsche won’t touch a limited-production model, nor will it copy parts or design from another brand.

Beyond those two no-nos, Porsche Sonderwunsch will hear you out. That part, of course, costs money and is surprisingly involved. Consultations on potential projects can last over one year, we’re told, and include feasibility tests such as whether a chosen interior material works with onboard safety equipment (such as airbags, which punch through special perforations in leather, plastics, and the like) and whether certain engine swaps are physically workable. For these reasons, the exploratory phase for a Sonderwunsch project will cost 100,000 euros, or about $121,500 at current exchange rates.

Naturally, when given the opportunity to interview Porsche employees about the new Factory One-Off program, we peppered them with a number of fantastical, possibly idiotic project ideas, hoping to probe the limits of what is possible from Sonderwunsch.

How about a 718 Boxster convertible converted into a coupe—so, essentially, a 718 Cayman but custom-built? Or what about a Cayman with the roof cut off to make it into a roadster? Could we install an air-cooled 356 engine in a modern Porsche Macan crossover? For the most part, Porsche representatives demurred, stating only that they’d look into things were a customer to ask them and, unlike us, pay them six figures to do so. We were told that a customer approached the company about installing a Porsche airplane engine—yes, Porsche made one, called the Porsche-Flugmotoren—in a car. The company passed on that customer’s, um, interesting concept.

Porsche actually expects most Factory One-Off and classic car refurbishments to be fairly tame—paint color changes, interior material swaps, new trim, that sort of thing, along with perhaps mechanical and chassis modernization and upgrades. Interestingly, the company will not electrify classic or otherwise traditionally gas-powered models—its goal, even with one-off projects is to achieve a factory level of fit, finish, and performance. While such a conversion is possible from an engineering standpoint, the company admits, it wouldn’t live up to the program’s standards.

If you’re balking at the price of merely exploring an ambitious Factory One-Off Porsche or a classic refurb, consider this: Porsche puts customers at the center of their very own development team, staffed with designers, materials experts, and engineers. Being part of the process is a big part of the thrill, but it also means exacting control over your dream. Meetings will be hosted virtually, if the customer desires, and can be kick-started at Porsche Experience Centers here in the U.S. or at the home office in Zuffenhausen, Germany.

Porsche isn’t the only player in the bespoke space. Other luxury automakers, like Aston Martin’s Q division, Bentley’s Mulliner, and Ferrari’s Atelier, have broadly similar customization programs. And given the resources required, Porsche is only taking on three to five Factory One-Off projects each year, along with an equal number of classic refurbishments. If you have the means and a burning desire to do something entirely individual with your Porsche new or old, and want to see if Porsche can make it happen with a factory level of execution, get ready to make a Sonderwunsch.

The post Porsche Sonderwunsch: Your Source for Factory Quality One-Offs and Restorations appeared first on MotorTrend.

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2022 Volkswagen Tiguan First Look: A Sleeker Compact SUV

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 23:01

Volkswagen enthusiasts might not want to hear this, but the glory days of the Golf are long gone. The Tiguan compact SUV has been a major sales success both here and abroad—VW sells over a million units per year worldwide. That’s why it’s important for VW to keep the Tiguan looking fresh and full of desirable features. A few years after it was unveiled at the 2017 North American International Auto Show, we got a first look at the revised U.S.-spec version of the long-wheelbase Tiguan in a studio setting. Last year, you might remember, we were given a from-a-distance preview of these changes in the form of the updated European-market Tiguan.

Fresh Looks All Around

The biggest changes for the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan apply to the exterior and interior with a significant overhaul that bumps the crossover a smidge toward the premium direction. LED head- and taillights are standard, and VW equipped the Tiguan with new wheels across the board. An LED “light line” that crosses the widened and lowered front bodywork is also available as an option. To keep the model aligned with the rest of the Volkswagen lineup, the 2022 Tiguan has a centered nameplate below the VW badge on the rear.

The bodywork has been smartly freshened up, which makes the Tiguan look more muscular and modern—with some lines reminiscent of the burly Touareg that used to be sold on our shores. Volkswagen is offering two new paint colors, Kings Red Metallic and Onyx White.

On the inside, the Tiguan gets contrast stitching and an optional color: Noisette. Buyers can opt for VW’s new steering wheel with capacitive-touch buttons and haptic feedback. From the SE trim upward, the climate control user interface has touch controls, as well, but Volkswagen designed these with grooved inlays for a more intuitive and easy-to-learn layout. The buttons seemed responsive and quick when we sat in the model on display in the studio.

Volkswagen also overhauled the trim structure, eliminating the SEL trim in order to make the lineup easier to understand and to offer better value across the board. The S is the Tiguan’s base model, followed by SE, SE R-Line Black, and the range-topping SEL R-Line at the top.

Tiguans equipped at the SE R-Line Black level get blacked-out trim, 19-inch wheels, and sportier bodywork. On the inside, the R-Line touch-control steering wheel becomes standard, as does 15-color ambient lighting which can be configured via the infotainment display. A panoramic sunroof also is included.

The SEL R-Line trim gets 20-inch wheels and all of the SE R-Line Black’s black trim becomes chrome. VW rounds out the interior equipment with Fender Premium Audio, a heated steering wheel, power driver and passenger seats, real leather seats, ventilated seats, and more safety tech like park assist, area view, and Dynamic Road Sign Recognition.

No Changes Under the Hood

Volkswagen opted to not totally overhaul the Tiguan’s drivetrain, which is a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine making 184 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This was one of the weak points we called out during our first test of the second-generation crossover.

Even though Volkswagen didn’t do anything to improve the power figures, its product team told us that the drivetrain has been retuned for a much more refined driving experience and assured us that the changes would be notable once we get a chance to drive it. In standard guise, the Tiguan is front-wheel-drive, but all-wheel-drive is available on every trim level. The top-spec SEL R-Line receives AWD as standard.

Safety and Technology

VW’s IQ.Drive driver assistance system is available on every trim at the SE level and upward. This suite includes Active Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, travel assist, and emergency assist. VW also offers high beam light assist, park assist, and Dynamic Road Sign Recognition. Keyless entry and a multifunctional steering wheel are standard on the S trim level and a power tailgate and leatherette seats, become standard on the SE model.

From the base model upward, Volkswagen includes a version of its Digital Cockpit instrument cluster display. An 8-inch screen is standard, but a 10-inch screen is available and is standard on the SEL R-Line trim. VW also included the faster MIB3 modular infotainment console and offers standard wireless CarPlay and Android Auto at the SE trim and up.

We don’t have word on pricing just yet, but Volkswagen suggested that the Tiguan will offer strong value given the density of included equipment across the trim range, especially as it begins to serve that volume-selling role once occupied by smaller cars like the Golf and Jetta. The current Tiguan starts at $25,965, so expect the 2022 model to start a little higher than that. The 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan will go on sale fall 2021.

The post 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan First Look: A Sleeker Compact SUV appeared first on MotorTrend.

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2022 Volkswagen Tiguan freshens up with new styling, technology, and touch controls

The Car Connection News Feed - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 23:01
The 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan launched Tuesday gets a standard sort of refresh that updates the compact SUV’s technology and styling but leaves the bones of the vehicle alone. What you see and touch will look a little bit different, but the Tiguan’s mechanical parts and spaciousness remain the same. Though Volkswagen will tell you that...
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2022 Volkswagen Tiguan preview

The Car Connection News Feed - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 23:01
What kind of vehicle is the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan? What does it compare to? The refreshed 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan fights in the most hotly contested automotive segment right now: compact SUVs. That puts it up against popular vehicles like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Hyundai Tucson. Is the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan a good SUV? We’ll wait...
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The 2021 Ford Bronco’s Fuel Economy Is Not Good, Trails Even the Thirsty Wrangler

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 22:40

The Ford Bronco will wear a few hats: reviving an iconic model, tussling with the Wrangler for off-road-oriented SUV supremacy, headlining a new sub-brand that includes the smaller Bronco Sport. No one expected that brief to include miserly fuel economy, and with the official EPA fuel economy numbers spilling out a little earlier than expected (by way of Bronco Nation, which has a full breakdown of the economy numbers for all trims), that’s definitely proven out.

The question remains as to whether what mpg the Bronco manages to eke out will be sufficient for buyers squaring it up with the Wrangler, which is offered in plug-in hybrid 4XE formsomething Ford has no answer for, yet.

Before getting into the numbers, we spoke to a Ford representative, who confirmed the numbers are accurate and are expected to hit the EPA website in the near future. Ford released this statement regarding the fuel economy release:

Bronco brand customers demand the highest-levels of off-road capability and performance. With off-road competition-proven EcoBoost engines and class-exclusive transmission offerings, our all-new Bronco two-door and four-door models deliver the best four-cylinder horsepower and torque, and the best available six-cylinder gasoline horsepower and torque in its class.”

The 2021 Bronco with the best gas mileage comes equipped with the entry-level 2.3-liter engine with either 10-speed automatic or manual in Base, Big Bend, or Outer Banks trim. It manages 20 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined. The most efficient Bronco with the available 2.7-liter V-6 sees mileage fall to 18 city, 20 highway, and 19 combined. The least efficient Bronco variant overall is any 2.7-liter equipped model with the Sasquatch package, which nets an even 17 mpg across the board.

2021 Ford Bronco Fuel Economy (city/hwy/combined)
  • Bronco 2.3L I-4: 16–20/17–22/17–21 mpg
  • Bronco 2.7L V-6: 17–18/17–20/17–19 mpg

The comparison to the Jeep Wrangler, with a plethora of engine options to choose from, isn’t particularly kind to the Bronco. Using four-door, non-hybrid Wranglers as a comparison, to be as generous as possible to the Bronco, the Wrangler is ahead in every category until you get to the 392 V-8—no surprise there. Until now, no one has ever held the Wrangler in much esteem when it comes to fuel economy, what with its porky curb weight and atrocious aerodynamics.

A 2021 Jeep Wrangler four-door EcoDiesel is the mileage champ, with 22 city, 29 highway, and 25 combined. The run-of-the-mill 2.0-liter turbo four-door comes in at 21 city, 24 highway, and 22 combined—beating Ford’s 2.3L numbers by 1, 2, and 1 mpg respectively. The 3.6-liter V-6 beats the Ford’s (admittedly much more powerful) 2.7, too, returning 20 city, 24 highway, and 21 combined.

It’s not entirely apples-to-apples, as the Ford engines are more powerful than their closest equivalents in the Jeep. We just found out that the Bronco’s engines make more power than originally estimated. The 2.3-liter now officially makes 300 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, handily beating the Jeep 2.0’s 270 hp and 295 lb-ft (as well as the 3.6-liter V-6) and making the fuel economy delta a little easier to understand.

Meanwhile, the Jeep’s 3.6-liter, naturally-aspirated Pentastar V-6 (285 hp, 260 lb-ft) can’t come close to either the 2.3-liter or the 2.7-liter twin-turbo Ford EcoBoost’s output of 330 hp and 415 lb-ft.

The bottom line is that Ford has taken a different tack with the Bronco, offering more powerful engine offerings that suffer a bit at the pump. In that, it’s a bit like its smaller sibling, the Bronco Sport, managing less impressive fuel economy numbers but more capability and power. Consumers will vote with their dollars about whether Ford’s strategy is superior to Jeep’s—and it’s just another area for us to analyze when we finally get our hands on a Bronco for real-world testing.

The post The 2021 Ford Bronco’s Fuel Economy Is Not Good, Trails Even the Thirsty Wrangler appeared first on MotorTrend.

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Ford CEO Promises Electric Versions of “Iconic Vehicles,” Hints at Bronco

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 21:01

Ford is doubling down on its  commitment to electric vehicles, spending $22 billion over five years on electric SUVs, trucks, and vans for retail and commercial customers. We talked to Jim Farley, who  became Ford CEO on October. 1, 2020, for an update on the Blue Oval’s efforts to become a dominant e-mobility player, including how it plans to electrify key models.

Ford is coming up with more aggressive electrification plans. How is it shaping up? 

Farley: We’re into the second inning of the e-mobility transformation. It’s early days. Allocating capital to some extent is the easiest thing. Our industry is littered with companies making announcements of nameplates they changed, added, or launched this year. And it didn’t really have material impact. The proof is in how the customer experience changes and how our brand comes to life in the battery electric space. There are things that aren’t changing. We will not be in the commodity transportation business with our second-inning vehicles.

We want to electrify our most iconic vehicles. Our [Mustang] Mach-E is on sale now. Our E-Transit will be on sale later this year, and the F-150 [Lightning!] gets electrified halfway through next year. We made these decisions a long time ago. The acceleration and spending from 2023 and beyond is where we’ll see a real acceleration in nameplates. We have to spend more as we secure our own battery supply and invest in key areas. The most powerful part is the digital experience, a different model of interacting with the customer. 

Curious about which “iconic vehicles” are due for electrification next? Farley recently engaged in this twitter interaction about an electric Bronco (a plug-in hybrid version was long ago confirmed)…

Jim. What I don’t understand is if Ford which I am a shareholder is truly committed to EV in the future, why don’t we have an EV opinion on the new product like the Bronco?

— Powered by Tesla (@gendyn01) May 10, 2021

… answering with: “Why do you think we dont?”

Why do you think we dont?

— Jim Farley (@jimfarley98) May 10, 2021

Will truck customers embrace an electric F-150?

Farley: The revenue pool is enormous. Within that are customers with a duty cycle perfect for electrification. There are two extremes. [The first is] commercial customers with regular fixed routes, happy with depot charging, who need a vehicle with low cost of ownership and 100 percent uptime, as well as features. The second is retail customers with plenty of vehicles for long trips, and they want to drive a pickup that’s electrified with software functionality you can’t get in a non-electrified vehicle. It is a fully digital vehicle, built Ford tough. We’ve seen strange designs of fully electric pickup trucks. Soon as they get dirt in them, it’s not going to be good. 

Do you need more than one dedicated electric platform?

Farley: Yes. We have multiple platforms. The center point for our businesses is two- and three-row crossovers, pickup trucks, and vans. All have distinct requirements that require a different ground-up battery electric solution. Those vehicles are the next wave. The Mustang Mach-E is the first on our utility platform, but we have more coming, and the platform will continue to evolve.

Are we at a tipping point where EVs are no longer a niche offering?

Farley: The tipping point in China and Europe has been reached in terms of consideration. In the U.S., half the customers are interested in considering a battery electric vehicle, but when it comes down to intention to buy, we are not at the tipping point. The French, German, and Dutch governments got behind incentives, which made it easier for customers. It also depends on the segment. We have not reached a tipping point in authentic off-roaders because there’s really no supply yet. To be a tipping point for intention, the economics have to change.

Is that why Ford will stop selling vehicles with combustion engines after 2030 in Europe but has not set an expiration date in North America?

Farley: We have a lot more work to do in North America around battery supply. We have legacy issues like labor to resolve. So, allocate the capital to get the product and digital experience out there to make us competitive and attractive, especially on our most iconic vehicles. The rest will follow. We have work to do before we come out with some all-singing-and-dancing commitment in North America. And we don’t want it to be an aspiration. We want it to be part of our plan.

Infrastructure is another area that needs to be improved?

Farley: Yeah. It feels like it’s out of our control, but when we launched the Mach-E, we made sure we had the largest charging network. It wasn’t easy because we had to put a lot of pieces together—Charge America and other ecosystems. We did partnership deals and wrote our app so when you buy the Mach-E, it shows the 16,000 chargers. It is up to the brand to make it work because [infrastructure] isn’t sufficient, but it is on the other side of the invisible line of being just enough. We have to build up the commercial side.

The post Ford CEO Promises Electric Versions of “Iconic Vehicles,” Hints at Bronco appeared first on MotorTrend.

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The 2022 Honda Civic Looks Great Lowered and on Iconic Tuner Wheels

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 19:30

Moments after the official images of the upcoming 11th generation Honda Civic sedan hit the airwaves, the enthusiast community began pitching potential changes. Some want a complete “do over,” while others appreciate the 2022 Civic’s design departure from its older sibling’s rather aggressive nature. Regardless of what side of the fence you’re viewing things from, most will agree that a tasteful set of wheels and tires, along with the elimination of at least a portion of that often dreaded factory tire-to-fender distance, is the easiest way to make the biggest visual impact.

Factory Wheel Woes

Having some time to mull over the various angles of the latest version of Honda’s golden child, it just seems like the factory wheels miss the mark.  The rollers on the Touring sedan are complex and a little messy, with the main five-spoke face broken up by another five-spoke that piggybacks, then splits in two directions as it meets the wheel’s lip. They don’t seem to flow with the new sedan’s blunt styling.

With the Sport model, the black wheels are perhaps too simple, and do little to add any real attitude to what’s supposed to represent a slightly hotter version of the entry-level sedan. Since a wheel and tire package and bringing the car a little closer to earth are by far the most popular first mods for any new car, we took a look at a couple of popular, iconic options.

TE37 All the Things!

For this Touring model, a simple and bold six-spoke style, like that found on these lightweight Volk Racing TE37, just makes sense. This design, through its many micro-adjustments and spin-off models, has been around for over 20 years and has long served as one of the most sought-after options. The TE37 simply looks good on just about everything—this Civic included. This particular version, with its unique Pressed Graphite color and bright red spoke sticker, comes from the SL series and pairs nicely with the Civic’s red paint.

We wanted to see what a bright white wheel would look like against the Aegean Blue Metallic paint. Once again avoiding complex styles, we picked these iconic Regamaster Evos. The thick, five-spoke wheel with its nicely sized lip helps give the sedan a more aggressive touch without going overboard. The original Regamaster wheels were produced in Russia and included a matte black version in 15- and-16-inch options that were built in collaboration with Spoon Sports.

Today, the lightweight, forged Regamaster Evo II is once again in production and now manufactured in Japan by Formula One wheel supplier Taneisya. Available in larger sizes, 10th generation Civic owners, especially the Type R crowd, latched on to the design and it certainly suits the 11th-gen chassis as well.

Walk Before Running

In both cases, the profile of the Civic is sleeker and a bit leaner with the lower stance and rolling stock. The front fascia, which feels heavily toned down when compared to the outgoing model, appears more aggressive with a little more tire and less real estate between it and the pavement.

While both wheel styles may not be your particular cup of tea, at least you get a solid indication of just how much of a difference these minor mods can make, even before the 10-foot rear wing and mass of stickers start accumulating.


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