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Latest car news from Park Lane

07-Aug-2017: Volkswagen T-Roc: new sketch shows Qashqai rival's details

Volkswagen has released its a new sketch of its T-Roc, a future rival to the Nissan Qashqai that's due to be revealed later this summer.

The latest image shows the chunky dimensions and unconventional design that have been incorporated into early sketches, but recent spy pictures of a pre-production car show that much of this will be toned down for the final model.

These 'in-the-metal' sightings confirmed that the car's styling takes clear inspiration from the Tiguan, albeit on a smaller, lower-riding body. The T-Roc also draws heavily from the next Polo, which was recently spotted.

Given the T-Roc's size, it's likely to share engines with the Polo and the Golf.

Diesel options will be 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre units, and four-wheel drive will be available as either an option or standard on higher-powered models. Six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG automatic gearboxes are expected, with the latter an optional extra.

A mild hybrid powertrain, which will be used soon in the Golf, may be carried across.

A plug-in hybrid T-Roc GTE and a fully electric e-T-Roc are also in the pipeline. Both variants will share powertrains with their Golf counterparts.

The car is expected to cost from around £19,000 and will go on sale in autumn after making its debut in July. Despite other names being previously floated, the T-Roc name is tipped to reach production.

It is aimed squarely at buyers who are less swayed by Volkswagen's traditional, practical approach but is in keeping with the manufacturer's more emotional ethos, where design and personality play a more forthright role in the brand's strategy.

06-Aug-2017: Mercedes-Maybach 6 convertible concept due at Pebble Beach

Mercedes is planning to reveal a convertible version of its Vision Maybach 6 concept at this month's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

The drop-top version of last year's Maybach 6 concept, a 738bhp four-wheel-drive 2+2 EV with gullwing doors, continues Mercedes' vision for a product to rival the Rolls-Royce Wraith and its convertible variant, the Dawn.

Insiders have suggested production versions of the Maybach 6 models could be assembled by a new bespoke coachbuilding operation to provide customers of its higher-end models with greater freedom in customising their cars.

Mercedes design boss Gorden Wagener hinted at the convertible concept's arrival in a new social media video posted onto his Instagram account (above), writing that something 'surprising' is due this summer, while showing sketches of the Maybach 6 concept and also the IAA Concept from 2015.

The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance takes place from the 17 August. BMW will also reveal the Z4 Concept at the event, which previews its own future drop-top model that has been co-developed with the upcoming Toyota Supra.

02-Aug-2017: Tesla Model 3 Performance version due in 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has revealed that a Model 3 Performance variant will be launched in the middle of next year, as long as the brand can cater for the high level of demand it has experienced for the new electric BMW 3 Series rival so far.

Musk confirmed that production for the Model 3 is already ramping up at Tesla's Gigafactory in Nevada, US. It expects to build 100 cars in August, before growing output to 1500 cars in September. The plant will reach maximum production from December, when it'll be able to produce 20,000 cars per month. However, production of right-hand-drive models won't begin until 2019. If Tesla hits its planned production of 500,000 cars a year from the factory, analysts predict that it will outsell BMW, Mercedes and lexus in the US.

Tesla recently injected $1 billion (around £800 million) of investment into the company, something Musk has previously said would help it to meet the high demand for the Model 3. To date, Tesla has had more than 500,000 pre-orders for the Model 3, with Musk saying that those cars should all be delivered before the end of 2018.

Tesla has raised capital to help production and ease the financial risk associated with the production run. This has led to a rise in its share price and has been further boosted by reports of its future model plans, including the Model Y compact SUV, according to New York financiers.

Musk also confirmed that two versions of the Model 3 will be offered from launch: standard and long Range models. The standard car costs from $35,000 (£26,650) and has a claimed range of 220 miles, hits 0-60mph in 5.6sec and has a top speed of 130mph. The long Range model costs from $44,000 (£33,500), delivering an official 310 miles of range, 0-60mph in 5.1sec and a 140mph top speed.

No details of UK pricing or delivery dates in 2019 have been revealed, but the entry-level price is expected to be just over £30,000 after the £4500 government grant for zero-emissions vehicles is applied. That will pitch it against the likes of the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Jaguar XE and Mercedes C-Class in terms of pricing and size.

Model 3 owners will not get free access to the Tesla Supercharger high-speed charging system, with the company planning to charge for electricity as demand grows and it requires more investment to build up the network of chargers.

Tesla also says it aims to deliver a total of 47,000 to 50,000 Model Ss and Model Xs in the first half of this year, but it hasn't given a figure for Model 3 target sales.

It has, however, reaffirmed its pledge to deliver 500,000 vehicles in 2018 and one million in 2020, when the Gigafactory is expected to reach full capacity - a sharp rise from the 80,000 cars delivered in 2016.

01-Aug-2017: All Maserati models to use electrified drive from 2019

Every new Maserati will use some form of electric propulsion from 2019, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) CEO Sergio Marchionne has revealed.

During a conference call with investors, the boss of Maserati's parent company said the brand would now spearhead the wider group's push to electric, which will see more than half of FCA's range use some form of electric power by 2022.

FCA's brands, which also include Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler and Dodge, will all benefit from the new electric plan. Marchionne said Maserati will switch almost all of its investment in powertrains to electric after "it completes the development of its next two models".

The first new electrified Maserati is predicted to arrive in 2020 and will be based on the Alfieri concept that made its debut at the Geneva motor show in 2014. The all-electric model is a two-seater sports car that will use a new platform.

Before then, Maserati will hybridise several of its current models, with the levante SUV model most likely to introduce a plug-in hybrid drivetrain to the range.

Marchionne said that FCA has been hesitant to invest in electric until now due to uncertainty, stating: "We [FCA] have been reluctant to embrace that avenue until we saw clearer the path forward."

Despite being part of its planning process, Marchionne will not head FCA during this push to electric. The 65-year-old Italian-Canadian announced that he will retire at the end of 2019.

01-Aug-2017: Rolls-Royce Phantom revealed as eighth-generation luxury flagship

Rolls-Royce Phantom revealed as eighth-generation luxury flagship

The all-new Rolls-Royce Phantom arrives next year promising ride comfort and interior luxury of an unprecedented quality, as well as a greatly improved driving experience.

Unveiled in london, the eighth-generation Phantom is the second to be built under BMW ownership and has been completely redesigned and reengineered from the ground up. It has been in development for six years and is the first in a series of all-new Rolls-Royces built on a bespoke aluminium spaceframe architecture.

In 2019 the Phantom will be followed by the luxury car maker's first SUV, codenamed Project Cullinan, while replacements for the rest of the range will be built on the same underpinnings as part of the ever greater autonomy Rolls is receiving from BMW.

It is the Phantom that comes first for the new era of Rolls, with company boss Torsten Muller-Ötvös calling the fourdoor saloon "the pinnacle" of Rolls-Royce, the ultimate expression of the Rolls-Royce brand and the very top of the range, despite the growing popularity of SUVs.

Rolls engineering chief Philip Koehn said the new architecture, called Architecture of luxury, and the technology within it helps to create an "unprecedented blend" of ride comfort and stability. Power comes from a twin-turbocharged 6.75-litre V12 engine, while the car's design is one of "effortless elegance", according to styling boss Giles Taylor.

There are new front and rear axle designs and air suspension with greatly improved travel at each corner. Double wishbones are used up front, with a multilink axle at the rear. Koehn said the 'magic carpet' ride "has been taken to the next level" thanks to these new designs and the stiffer body-in-white.

The engine drives the Phantom's rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Muller-Ötvös said a V12 was a key part of the Phantom's appeal and that it "could not be a V8".

The stainless steel brightwork is all hand-polished, with the longest piece on the car being some three metres in length. There is also no shutline between the roof and pillars; instead, the area has been hand-welded and then handpolished and sanded by six people for a seamless join.

The opulent interior offers "a sense of calm and isolation", according to Taylor. Rolls-Royce has increased the amount of technology offered in the car but has ensured it can all be hidden. "Our customers like technology but they also love analogue," said Taylor. "The screens can all disappear." Rolls has fitted a head-up display as standard in order to reduce the amount of information needed to be displayed on the instrument binnacle and present a cleaner and less cluttered look.

Of most intrigue inside is a new glass fascia for the dashboard, marking the first time glass has been used for this part of a car. In time, Rolls is to allow customers to display specially commissioned pieces of artwork behind the glass on the passenger side of the car.

The eighth-generation Phantom will be offered as a saloon only and is expected to far exceed the price of the current Phantom, at a mooted £400,000. With no coupe or convertible models planned, those roles will be taken by the Wraith and Dawn.

Peter Schwarzenbauer, Rolls-Royce chairman and BMW board member added "We're [BMW] quite happy to have this wonderful brand and develop it in future. This is not just launching a car, but setting a new standard for luxury overall".

26-Jul-2017: Subaru WRX STI Type RA NBR Special laps Nurburgring in 6min 57.5sec

The Subaru WRX STI Type RA NBR Special has set a Nurburgring lap time of 6min 57.5sec.

Subaru's attempt, which was quicker than the lamborghini Aventador SV but 0.5sec slower than the Porsche 918 Spyder, was achieved with heavy modifications to the road-going WRX STI; the Type RA NBR Special cannot be driven on public roads.

The car uses 9in-wide slick tyres, in addition to a full roll cage for added stiffness, and modifications to the car's engine give more than 592bhp.

The gearbox is a WRC unit with automatic clutch, which shifts, Subaru claims, in 20-25 milliseconds. Paddle shifters are fitted; the clutch had to be modified with hydraulics to allow this.

Top speed and road-holding are improved by a new aero package, which produces 295kg of downforce. The drag reduction wing uses similar technology to that on Formula 1 cars.

Stefan Bellof's 6min 11.13sec lap in his Rothmans Porsche 956 in 1983 remains the the fastest time recorded around the track.

25-Jul-2017: Next Bugatti Chiron set to be electrified

The next-generation Bugatti Chiron - still at least seven years from production - will have to be electrified to enhance its performance beyond the current car's record-breaking capabilities, CEO Wolfgang Durheimer said.

The Chiron can reach 62mph in less than 2.5sec, despite weighing 1995kg, and has a top speed of 261mph. At its heart is a quad-turbocharged 8.0-litre W16 configured petrol engine that develops 1479bhp at 6750rpm, giving the Chiron a power-to-weight ratio of 741bhp per tonne. Torque peaks at 1179lb ft from 2000rpm.

"Electrification will happen," said Durheimer. "The next car is a long way from being developed, but the way battery and electric motor technology is moving on - as well as regulations - it seems certain that the next car will be electrified in some way. It will still be too soon for a full electric car, I think - but electrification will happen."

Already, the Mclaren P1, laFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder have employed hybrid technology to deliver hypercar performance. For instance, the P1 is powered by a 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine and electric motors, together generating 903bhp. It accelerates from 0-62mph in 2.8sec, 0-124mph in 6.8sec and 0-186mph in 16.5sec.

Durheimer also hinted that ongoing plans to introduce a second Bugatti model to the firm's line-up could delay production of the next generation Chiron, as the firm would possibly switch to a strategy of alternating between new car launches. If that happens, a new Bugatti model could be launched around 2024 and the next Chiron not until 2032.

Durheimer declined to reference any bodystyles for such a vehicle. The Bugatti Galibier five-door fastback concept was shown in 2009 but did not get the go-ahead for production. However, the concept of a more practical but still standard-setting high-performance vehicle remains a potential target for Bugatti. To date, 280 of the planned 500 Chirons have been sold.

25-Jul-2017: Hot Jaguar XJR575 revealed as brand's most powerful production saloon

Jaguar has unveiled the XJR575, the most powerful version yet of its flagship saloon, in a bid to keep pace with rivals such as the Mercedes-AMG S63 and Audi S8.

First seen in camouflaged guise going up the hill at last month's Goodwood Festival of Speed, the XJR575 uses the F-Type SVR's 5.0-litre V8 supercharged engine with 567bhp, 25bhp more than the outgoing XJR, and 516lb ft.

That enables a 0-62mph time of 4.4sec, 0.2sec faster than its predecessor but 0.2sec slower than the S63. Its top speed is 186mph.

The hot saloon is part of the updates across the XJ range that come as a mid-life refresh, ahead of a new XJ in 2019. That model is widely rumoured to be pure electric. If true, Jaguar would beat its rivals to having a battery-powered flagship saloon and target core markets such as China.

In the meantime, this new XJR575, available in standard wheelbase only, has tailor-made exterior details, including a rear spoiler, side sills, front bumper and lower air intakes with gloss black surrounds. XJR575 badging and twin bonnet louvres plus 20in gloss black wheels with red brake calipers distinguish the car from its standard XJ siblings. Inside, the model has embossed tread plates, 575 branding and diamond quilted seating in two colour options.

Across the broader range, the XJ gets full lED headlights and so-called 'J-blade signature' daytime running lights as well as technology updates to bring the saloon in line with the broader Jaguar range. These include the latest Touch Pro infotainment system using a 10.0in central touchscreen and 4G wi-fi connectivity. New safety systems include lane Keep Assist, Driver Condition Monitor and Autonomous Emergency Braking.

On sale in November, the revised XJ will start from £59,995, a rise of just over £1000 on the current model. The XJR575 will cost £93,170, £500 more than its predecessor.

19-Jul-2017: Mercedes-Benz reveals plush X-Class pick-up

Mercedes has revealed its much anticipated new premium pick-up, the X-Class.

The model is a five-seat, four-door crew cab pick-up with a separate chassis, four engine options, a choice of selectable or permanent four-wheel drive and six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission options. It goes on sale at the end of this year at prices starting from £34,500, inclusive of £5600 VAT.

The company claims that the X-Class can be used as both a rugged, off-road-capable pick-up, as well as a vehicle for urban families. Mercedes is aiming to meet the rising demand for pick-up trucks with the refinement and convenience features of a conventional car.

X-Class engines include a 161bhp diesel X220d and 187bhp X250d as well as a 163bhp petrol engine in some markets. A 255bhp, 542lb ft V6 diesel will be released in mid-2018. The X220d and X250d 4Matic provide selectable four-wheel drive, while the six-cylinder unit has permanent four-wheel drive. All versions have low-range gearing; a locking rear axle differential is optional.

Mercedes claims excellent off- and on-road performance, the X-Class's suspension consisting of coil-sprung double wishbones at the front and a coil-sprung, five-link live axle at the rear. long spring travel, good articulation and precise wheel control are features, along with 'a high level of driving dynamics and ride comfort on the road'. The X-Class's driving character can be altered via Dynamic Select option providing comfort, ECO, sport, manual and off-road choices.

load securing points are also standard, these becoming load-securing rails on higher trim levels. Typical pick-up options include a styled body-colour rear canopy, a plastic load-bed liner, a bed-divider system, soft and hard tonneau covers, an aluminium roll-top cover, a 156-litre storage box, running boards, a roll-over hoop and a three-piece detachable stainless steel underguard.

less typical of a pick-up are Active Brake Assist, lane Keeping Assist and Traffic Sign Assist, along with a connectivity app that enables users to remotely locate the vehicle, check its fuel level and navigate from door-to-door via a smartphone. Also unusual is a higher standard of in-cab finish than typically found aboard pick-up trucks. Mercedes' Comand infotainment and 360-degree cameras are also options.

18-Jul-2017: Rolls-Royce Phantom leaks ahead of July reveal

This is the most comprehensive look yet at the eighth-generation Rolls-Royce Phantom, which goes on sale in 2018 after a reveal this summer.

The images, reportedly from an online brochure and leaked to Chinese media, show the extended-wheelbase version of the car's exterior styling and confirms the design we saw in spy shots of the car undergoing testing earlier in its development.

Its aesthetic is largely similar to the current-generation Phantom, although minor tweaks to the front end, such as a different headlight shape and altered bumper design, are present. The second, lower lights at the front are no more.

Inside, the interior appears as high-end as you would expect, with dark wood, textured panelling and cream leather among the materials used, and with Rolls-Royce's retro touches across the dashboard carried over.

The full design will be unveiled on 27 July, at an event celebrating the Phantom's history.

We already know that the eighth-generation Phantom is likely to share aluminium architecture with its Cullinan-codenamed SUV sibling and feature either an evolved version of the brand's 6.75-litre V12 engine or the Dawn's 6.6-litre V12.

The Cullinan will be the brand's first all-wheel-drive model, meaning that, if the Phantom adopts four-wheel drive, it will be after the launch of the Cullinan. However, it is likely that Rolls-Royce will keep this exclusive to its 'all-terrain, high-sided vehicle' sibling.