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Archived news from Park Lane

31-May-2017: Subaru BRZ STI confirmed in preview image

The Subaru BRZ STI is coming, with carbonfibre aero parts and the possibility of more power from its boxer engine.

Subaru hinted at the car on social media, simply captioning a photo of the BRZ with STI-branded carbonfibre rear wing with 'Stay tuned...6/8/17. #STI'.

The first part of the text may hint at a higher state of tune for the BRZ's 2.0-litre naturally aspirated flat-four engine. Subaru's only other STI-badged model is the WRX STI, successor to the Impreza WRX STI.

The standard WRX sports saloon, which isn't available in the UK, produces 268bhp, where the WRX STI produces 305bhp; an increase of almost 14%, thanks to direct injection, turbocharging and Dual Active Valve Control.

The standard WRX's engine is a developed version of the BRZ's, so it's possible that the changes would be carried over to the BRZ STI, or alternatively, the WRX STI's 2.5-litre engine will be shared with the BRZ STI.

The standard BRZ weighs 1231kg, with 55% of its weight over the rear wheels and 45% over the fronts.

The BRZ costs from £25,040, so the STI model could well cost more than £30,000. In this price bracket, it would have the lotus Elise to contend with.

30-May-2017: Mclaren P1 lM smashes Nurburgring production car lap record

The Mclaren P1 lM, a road-legal version of the track-focused 986bhp P1 GTR, has set a new lap record for production cars at the Nurburgring.

lanzante, the car's maker that is renowned for its work on customer Mclaren F1s and F1 GTRs, clocked a 6min 43sec laptime at the Green Hell with its machine, which is 9sec quicker than the latest record holder, the lamborghini Huracan Performante.

To emphasise its road worthiness, lanzante said the car then drove off of the circuit and home to the UK.

The P1 lM is claimed to be the quickest, rarest and last of the P1 variants. Just five production models are being made.

lanzante says the biggest change from the P1 GTR is in the engine hardware, which now produces additional boost and hybrid power to keep the full 986bhp from the P1 GTR. It also gets gold-plated heat shielding in the engine bay, and the charge coolers have been tweaked to be more efficient at higher temperatures.

Other alterations include fully exposed carbonfibre for the roof and additional panels, as well as improved aerodynamics from a modified rear wing, a front splitter and dive planes that, lanzante claims, increase downforce over the P1 GTR by 40%.

Inside, the car gets exposed carbonfibre for the dashboard, instrument cowl, seat backs, roof, centre console and even floor mats. Air-con comes as standard.

Along with one grey experimental prototype, four production models will be produced in orange and one will be grey.

lanzante decided to undertake the conversion work following demand from customers who have bought the track-only version of the P1 GTR from the factory.

30-May-2017: BMW 8 Series to return in 2018

The BMW 8 Series will make a comeback next year after a 20-year break - and has been previewed by a bold Concept 8 Series design study.

The luxurious new two-plus-two coupe is planned to return to the BMW line-up in 2018 after an almost two decade hiatus as part of what company bosses describe as the biggest model offensive in the company's history.

Set to challenge the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe at the very top of BMW's current 12 model strong line-up, the reborn 8 Series will indirectly replace the existing third-generation 6 Series.

Design as much as engineering has played a key role in the development of the new 8 Series, which boasts a traditional two door layout and classically hinged boot at the rear. It flaunts a bold look that BMW says will heavily influence the appearance of the next generation models from the German car maker.

The Concept 8 Series, which is described by BMW as a taste of a forthcoming model, has been created to pave the way for the return of the new 8 Series, which is being developed under the internal codename G17.

A number of characteristic BMW concept car flourishes, such as the oversized kidney grille, thin line lazer projector touting headlamps, exaggerated air breather elements behind the front wheel arches and within the rear bumper and OlED imbued l-shaped tail lamps, have all be altered with a more conservative appearance for the production version of the new 8 Series, which is due to begin rolling from BMW's Dingolfing factory in Germany during the second-quarter of 2018.

Portrayed as the most advanced combustion engine road car yet developed by BMW, it also adopts the lightweight construction initiatives found on the existing 7 Series. BMW is holding back on details to the drivelines it plans to make available in the new 8 Series, though it is expected to feature up to three standard front, longitudinally mounted petrol units.

Recent trademark applications hint at a likely entry level 840i model running a turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six cylinder, a 850i with a turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 and M860i xDrive M Performance fitted with the same turbocharged 6.6-litre V12 that powers the M760li xDrive. Also under consideration is an 840e plug in hybrid model using the same petrol-electric powertrain seen in the 740e iPerformance.

All modes will feature a standard eight speed automatic, with the 840i and 850i likely to offer the choice of either standard rear- or optional four-wheel drive. The M760i xDrive is set to receive four-wheel drive as standard.

24-May-2017: Mercedes-Benz EQ breaks ground on £431 million EV battery factory

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has broken ground on a new £431 million (€500m) factory in Germany that is planned to assemble lithium ion battery packs for Mercedes-Benz's upcoming line-up of EQ-branded electric cars as well as its Smart Electric Drive models, new electric commercial vehicles and future hybrid models.

The new facility in Kamenz, Germany, is described as Europe's first true electric car battery making 'gigafactory' and marks the second stage in a broader €1 billion investment made by Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler in its Accumotive energy storage subsidiary as it prepares to enter the electric car ranks with its first unique styled EQ-badged model, previewed by the Generation EQ SUV, in 2019.

"The automotive industry is facing a fundamental transformation," said Mercedes-Benz chairman, Dieter Zetsche. "The battery factory in Kamenz is an important component in the implementation of our electric offensive. By 2022, we will have more than ten purely electric passenger cars. We also continue to drive forward the hybridisation of our fleet. Under the EQ brand, we are creating a holistic ecosystem for e-mobility."

Accumotive produces battery modules using individual cells supplied by a number of different companies, including Samsung SDI and lG. Earlier plans by Daimler to produce its own cells were shelved when it shuttered its litec battery development subsidiary in 2015.

As well as producing batteries for future Mercedes-Benz electric cars, Accumotive will also provide batteries for the company's new 48-volt equipped models, starting with the facelifted S-Class this summer.

Global battery production capacity is set to increase almost three-fold by 2021, according to electric car industry analysts, reaching 278GWh of capacity compared to some 103GWh today.

The first EQ model, the production version of the Generation EQ SUV, will roll off that line at Mercedes-Benz's plant in Bremen, Germany, in 2019. Additionally, the German car maker also confirmed luxury class EQ models will be produced at its plant in Sindelfingen, Germany.

Mercedes-Benz expects electric cars will make up between 15% and 25% of its total sales by 2025.

23-May-2017: Jaguar I-Pace racing influence proving crucial in fight with Model X

The head of Jaguar's Formula E motorsport programme says that the lessons being learned from racing are proving pivotal in ensuring its first electric model, the I-Pace, is able to fight with the Tesla Model X.

Speaking ahead of this weekend's Paris ePrix, Jaguar Racing director Craig Wilson said that engineers from the motorsport and automotive arms are actively sharing data, helping to increase the rate of development, despite Jaguar's lack of EV experience compared to Tesla.

"Clearly with Formula E we're racing so it's very competitive in all areas, but specifically there's a big crossover [with automotive] in thermal management," he said. "There's a lot that we can do with software and algorithms, and (in Formula E) we're learning a lot from braking regeneration and simulations."

Wilson added that information isn't just moving in one direction, and says development work on the I-Pace, which is due to launch in 2018, is also helping Jaguar's racing team improve its Formula E car. He said: "The automotive team are getting good information for protection systems around the high voltage electrics, to make sure that we don't cause any trips or component failures from a reliability point of view. This information is being given back to the racing team."

Alongside the technical benefits, Jaguar's entry in Formula E is expanding its market reach to people who are pro-electric transport, something that team director James Barclay believes is vital ahead of the launch of the I-Pace.

Barclay also thinks competing in Formula E will make Jaguar's electric models more desirable, because people will associate them with performance. He has said: "From a consumer point of view, to see technology that's developed in racing, it becomes clear that we're not just developing a car that's fantastic on range, it's also great to drive and you will be able to push in terms of performance.

"For us as Jaguar it's always been about producing a good driver's car. Formula E is not just pushing efficiency, it's also pushing us to maximise performance."

23-May-2017: Geely buys lotus, stake in Proton

Geely, the owner of Volvo, will take control of lotus and a 49.9% stake in Malaysian car maker Proton.

The Chinese company has agreed to buy the stake in the loss-making Proton from its parent company DRB-Hicom. As well as a controlling share of Proton, Geely will buy a 51% majority stake in British sports car firm lotus. DRB-Hicom will retain 50.1% of Proton and will look to sell its remaining stake in lotus. The definitive agreement is expected to be completed in July.

Proton has owned a majority stake in lotus, based near Norwich, since 1996. lotus turned a profit for the first time in its history late last year.

Donghui li, the executive vice-president of Geely Holding Group, said: "With Proton and lotus joining the Geely Group portfolio of brands we strengthen our global footprint and develop a beachhead in South East Asia."

Geely was founded in the Zhejiang province of China in 1986, originally as a refrigerator manufacturer. The firm's expansion into automotive products began with motorbikes before it started producing cars in 2002. Geely Automobiles has a major presence in the Chinese car market, with the firm expanding internationally after buying Volvo from Ford in 2010. Geely also purchased The london Taxi Company (lTC) in 2012.

17-May-2017: 2017 Jaguar XF Sportbrake confirmed for June launch

The Jaguar XF Sportbrake will be revealed on 14 June by British tennis star Andy Murray as a rival to the BMW 5 Series Touring and Mercedes E-Class Estate.

The car will introduce a full-length panoramic roof to the range and an exterior design that's identical to the saloon, barring its more practical boot, which will increase luggage space and rear headroom.

Jaguar claims that its new estate will be the "most dynamic premium estate car in the world", suggesting the chassis setup will use similar settings to the saloon rather than being adjusted to offer different handling characteristics.

The XF Sportbrake will be built upon the same aluminium architecture as the saloon, and it'll also share engines with its sibling, meaning a 2.0-litre diesel will be the base unit, with 3.0-litre V6 petrol and diesel engines sitting above this in the range.

A 2.0-litre petrol engine, as launched along with a new wave of Ingenium units, will also be included with both variants of the XF. Development Sportbrakes have been running with this unit, suggesting it will be available in the model from launch.

Power outputs for the engines range from 161bhp to 375bhp. Drive is sent to the rear wheels as standard through a six-speed manual gearbox in lower models, with an eight-speed automatic offered as an option or as standard on the most potent units.

The saloon's optional four-wheel drive system will likely also be offered on the estate. The range will be crowned by an XF S Sportbrake model.

Expect the XF Sportbrake to be slightly more expensive than the saloon, which costs from £32,300.

16-May-2017: Millionth Porsche 911 is a one-off special edition

The one millionth Porsche 911 to be produced is a one-off Carrera S model featuring a number of exclusive features that pay tribute to the original 911 of 1963.

The two-door model is a one-off celebration edition painted in Irish Green. It was produced at Porsche's Zuffenhausen factory in Stuttgart, Germany, where every 911 is currently made. Every two-door Porsche model is produced on a single production line.

The 911 sold 32,365 units in 2016. Remarkably, Porsche claims that more than 70% of the million 911 to have been built are still roadworthy today.

Porsche chairman Wolfgang Porsche said: "54 years ago, I was able to take my first trips over the Grossglockner High Alpine Road with my father. The feeling of being in a 911 is just as enjoyable now as it was then. That's because the 911 has ensured that the core values of our brand are as visionary today as they were in the first Porsche 356/1 from 1948."

The 911, 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman are all built at the Zuffenhausen plant in Stuttgart, and will be joined by the Mission E electric car when the model reaches production at the end of the decade.

The millionth 911 will be kept by Porsche, and will shortly embark on a world tour. Among other stops, the tour will include a road trip in the Scottish Highlands, lapping the Nurburgring, and visits to the USA and China. The car will eventually be placed in the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart.

last year, BMW celebrated three million Minis having been built at its Oxford plant, while the land Rover Discovery surpassed one million units back in 2012.

16-May-2017: BMW 8 Series to return in 2018

The BMW 8 Series name will be resurrected on a new flagship model in 2018, as part of moves to provide greater competition to long-time adversary Mercedes-Benz and its S-Class coupe, as well as the Bentley Continental GT.

BMW boss Harald Kruger confirmed the 8 Series will be launched in 2018 while talking at the firm's Annual General Meeting. A concept car will be revealed at the 2017 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este in Italy on May 26, before the production car goes on sale next year. This suggests the production car may be revealed at this year's Frankfurt motor show.

"The BMW 8 Series Coupe will build on our tradition of luxurious sports coupes and add a genuine dream car to our line-up - a slice of pure automotive fascination," said Kruger. "The 8 Series Coupe will underpin our claim to leadership in the luxury segment. I can tell you that this will be a true luxury sports coupe."

16-May-2017: Mercedes-AMG to remain exclusive despite growing sales, says boss

AMG will retain its exclusivity despite its flourishing sales, according to boss Tobias Moers.

With sales almost at 100,000 units in 2016, Moers said he doesn't believe there is a tipping point where AMG models become undesirable.

"It's all about the strategy," said Moers. "We have increased the number of 63 models and we can now exploit 43 models too."

He added that he could now track customer journeys at AMG: "For some customers, the C 63 is a little too much, so they start with the C 43 and then move up to the 63 - which also gives us the chance to give even more focus to the 63 models."

Mercedes sales and marketing boss Britta Seeger referenced the growth of the mainstream Mercedes family including the compact A-Class as an example of ongoing exclusivity despite more sales. "At the end of the day, I think opening the brand to more customer segments makes us more desirable.

"We are offering the A 43, which has fantastic driving performance for a driver not quite ready for a 63 model."

Moers is predicting double-digit growth in 2017, having grown by 44% in 2016 over the previous year. In 2016, it sold 98,235 AMG models.