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Latest car news from Park Lane

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.

18-Jul-2017: Jaguar E-Pace launched with record-breaking barrel roll

The new Jaguar E-Pace has rotated its way into the record books with a 270-degree, 15.3-metre flying barrel roll.

The stunt took place at the Excel centre in london, taking a 160 metre long run up to build up speed for the 15 metre jump. Stunt driver Terry Grant was behind the wheel for the trick, which was verified by Guinness World Records.

The stunt took inspiration from the famous barrel roll that takes place in James Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun. The E-pace was launched off a metal ramp one side, with a softer dirt bank on the other side cushioning the car's landing. Both ramps were computer designed, and the precise launch speed calculated to ensure both the car and Grant survived intact.

The car and driver set the record for the furthest barrel roll completed in a production vehicle, and months of testing was completed in order for the jump to run smoothly.

Grant was also behind the wheel for Jaguar's last world record stunt: a 19.08-metre-high loop the loop completed at the launch of the Jaguar F-Pace in 2015. That set the record as the tallest loop the loop completed in a production car. During that stunt, Grant experienced 6.5G, compared with the 5.5G he experienced during the barrel roll.

The E-Pace and F-Pace are expected to be joined by the all-electric I-Pace and a larger seven-seat SUV in coming years, and it seems likely both launched will be marked with a similar vehicular stunt.

12-Jul-2017: Aston Martin Valkyrie revealed in near-production form

Aston Martin has unveiled a near-production version of its Adrian Newey-inspired hypercar, the Valkyrie.

The essence of the £2.5 million, 1000bhp-plus two-seater's proportions have been known for many months but Newey, revered as the world's greatest creator of Formula 1 cars, is still finding ways of increasing its aerodynamic downforce as his colleagues finesse details such as headlights, stoplights, scoops and badges.

Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing expect to start making the planned run of 150 cars late next year.

"We're around 95% done," said chief designer Miles Nurnberger. "Much of what you see from outside is the actual structure of the car which had to be signed off quite early. Non-structural areas are still subject to evolution as Adrian continues finding improvements.

"Ordinarily, the last thing we'd want is to cut a hole in one of our surfaces, but these new vents work the front wings so much harder that we've found a significant gain in front downforce. They have their own functional beauty, but we've finessed them without harming the way they work. They also work as windows through which owners can view our fabulous wing-section front wishbones."

Despite their aerodynamic obsession, the Valkyrie's creators are at pains to point out that this car is comfortable and surprisingly spacious, accommodating "a wide range of shapes and sizes". Occupants must step over the lower aero structure to gain access through a pair of gullwing doors reminiscent of access to a le Mans racer, but with larger openings.

"It has been a tremendous challenge making the interior packaging work," said Aston designer Matt Hill. "We've embraced Red Bull's F1 ethos and come at things from a different angle. We've started from a position that seemed impossible and found a way to make it work, fighting for millimetres everywhere." The result of that work is comfortable accommodation for two fairly large adults.

Valkyrie owners will be able to have tailored seats made, if they desire, moulded directly to the car's carbonfibre tub. Aston is pleased with early reactions to the race-style feet-up driving position, which creates a sense of occasion and allows occupants to be reclined further than normal to create head room. A fourpoint harness is standard.

The Valkyrie's interior treatment reflects the keenness of Aston's designers to reduce driver distractions. The traditional exterior mirrors are replaced by rearfacing left- and right-hand cameras, whose reduced size also helps cut drag. The lack of a rear window means there's no need for a central mirror. All important switchgear is on the steering wheel, which is almost rectangular in shape and has a screen on its central boss showing all vital information. There's a supplementary central screen for minor functions, but 'minimalist ergonomics' is one of the design team's main objectives.

The mid-engined car uses a normally aspirated 6.5-litre Cosworth V12, tipped to produce more than 900bhp, and the hybrid powertrain (conventional power is augmented by a kinetic energy recovery system) is understood to have delivered 1130bhp during testing. The V12's power reaches the centre-lock magnesium wheels through a seven-speed paddle-operated gearbox made by Ricardo (which also builds Bugatti's gearboxes and Mclaren's engines). It exhausts through the upper body, le Mans style.

little is known of the suspension design so far, except that it uses long, race-style wishbones at both ends. The obvious challenge is to create a system that can withstand huge downforce at top speed yet provide acceptable low-speed, roadcar comfort.

11-Jul-2017: 2017 Audi A8 revealed as brand's most high-tech model yet

The new fourth-generation Audi A8 has been unveiled in the run-up to the start of UK sales in October.

Hailed as the dawning of a new era for the German car maker, the new flagship saloon has been comprehensively re-engineered. Audi intends it to mount a successful challenge against upmarket rivals such as the BMW 7 Series, lexus lS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

The new A8, which is tipped to be priced from just under £70,000, draws on the latest evolution of Audi's MlB platform. It offers the same 48V electrical system used in the SQ7. There will also be a new hybrid drivetrain that offers an electric-only range of up to 31 miles and there is advanced road-scanning active suspension. Audi claims the new A8 is the first series production road car to have been developed expressly for what it describes as "highly automated driving".

Among the showcase features available from the new A8's long list of optional equipment is a so-called Traffic Jam Pilot system. Part of a suite of 41 individual driver assistant functions, it takes charge of driving in slow-moving traffic up to a speed of 31mph on motorways, where a physical barrier separates the two carriageways.

Inside, the new Audi has a clean and contemporary-looking dashboard, a redesigned multi-function steering wheel and touchscreen controls closely modelled on those first seen on the Prologue concept car.

The A8 will be offered with the choice of two turbocharged V6 engines from the outset of sales in October. One is a 3.0-litre petrol unit developing 335bhp in the 3.0 TFSI and the other a 3.0-litre diesel with 264bhp, 10bhp more than its predecessor, in the 3.0 TDI.

Both engines are allied to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and quattro four-wheel drive, which can be ordered with an optional sport differential.

The new standard-fit 48V electrical system offers a range of mild hybrid functions, including engine-off coasting, extended start/stop operation and kinetic energy recuperation under braking, via a belt-driven alternator.

In early 2018, a further diesel will join the line-up in the form of a turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 with 429bhp in the 4.0 TDI. That's 44bhp more than the old turbo 4.2-lite V8 engine that it replaces.

The biggest engine in the line-up will be a 6.0-litre petrol W12. This revised version of the Volkswagen Group's turbo W12 is 300cc smaller than its predecessor yet it delivers an added 85bhp, at 585bhp.

Although it has yet to be confirmed, a successor to today's S8 is set to run a powered-up version of the 4.0-litre turbo petrol unit used by the 4.0 TFSI.

An l e-tron variant is also planned. It will combine the 3.0-litre turbo petrol V6 with an electric motor for an overall system output of 443bhp.

Underpinning the A8 is new aluminium-intensive suspension, with double wishbones up front and a five-link set-up at the rear. Air springs are standard and allow four different ride heights.

A further development is the appearance of all-wheel steering on selected new A8 models. Already used by BMW on the latest 7 Series, this aims to heighten the responsiveness and overall dynamic character of the A8.

Together with the Traffic Jam Pilot, the suite of artificial intelligence autonomous driving functions available for the new A8 also includes a so-called Remote Parking Pilot and Remote Garage Pilot - both operable from outside the car using a smartphone.

11-Jul-2017: More powerful Zenos E10 due for launch this November

An updated and more powerful version of the Zenos E10 will be launched this November - the first new product from the British brand since it was saved from administration in March.

Under the leadership of its new owners, a consortium led by AC Cars and its boss Alan lubinsky, Zenos is responding to customer requests by developing an updated braking system and improved brake cooling, as well as a new intercooler and exhaust system.

The parts are being developed and tested by Hethel Engineering in Norfolk. No performance figures are being released at this stage, but improvements to the output of the car's 2.0-litre Ford Ecoboost petrol engine, which originally produced 250bhp in the E10, are expected.

As part of efficiency-boosting business changes, production of the E10 will be moved from Zenos's original location in Norfolk to a facility in South Africa.

The first 25 examples of the updated E10 will be sold in bespoke, limited edition guise. The upgrades applied to the new model will also be available to current E10 owners, who will be able to purchase them through the Autokraft Performance brand.

05-Jul-2017: Rolls-Royce rules out hybrid powertrains before electric models

Rolls-Royce has ruled out producing hybrid cars in the future - with CEO Torsten Müller-Otvös saying the brand will only introduce battery technology when it's developed enough for an all-electric machine.

Müller-Otvös said he is convinced that electric powertrains are the future of motoring, but added that the luxury firm's customers would not accept the "compromise" of hybrid technology. He also said that Rolls-Royce will only launch an electric car when the technology has developed enough.

"Electrification is the way forward - and there will be no in between steps for us like hybridisation," said Müller-Otvös. "It is the propulsion system for the future, make no error. There is a time - nobody can predict when - when there will be no combustion engines. That will take a long, long time, but it will happen."

Explaining why Rolls-Royce would not invest in hybrid technology, Müller-Otvös added: "The Rolls-Royce brand is not, in a way, a game-changer when it comes to revolutionary technology. Our customers are doing so for reasons of utmost luxury, so there can be no imperfections.

"Compromises when it comes to technology, or operating our products, are unacceptable. People are more interested in highly reliably substance than to be a test field for new technology."

Müller-Otvös also noted that access to technology developed by BMW, Rolls-Royce's parent company, would be a great asset when it did start work on an electric powertrain.

last year, Rolls-Royce unveiled a Vision 100 concept, as part of the BMW Group's 100th anniversary. That was an all-electric machine with autonomous technology. But Müller-Otvös said that, while autonomous tech "will come" to Rolls-Royce cars, it was not a priority.

"For our customers it's not really a requirement because many have chauffeurs. So for that reason, it exists already. I haven't had a single customer say to me: 'Torsten, when is the autonomous Rolls-Royce comingIJ'"

04-Jul-2017: First Tesla Model 3 deliveries to start this month

The first customer Tesla Model 3s will be handed over on the 28 July, around six months before initial predictions, CEO Elon Musk has confirmed.

In series of Tweets, Musk said production of the all-electric four-door will then be ramped up exponentially, with 100 cars produced in August, more than 1500 produced in September and then 20,000 produced per month from December.

The Model 3 has an entry-level price of $35,000 (about £28,000) and has been ordered by around 500,000 customers, which is the maximum output possible at Tesla's new battery-producing Gigafactory in Nevada.

Production starts as Tesla injects $1 billion (around £800 million) of investment into the company, something Musk has previously said would help the company meet the high demand requirements of its newest model.

The manufacturer has raised capital to help production and ease the financial risk associated with the production run, which led to a rise in its share price that was also helped by reports of its future model plans, including the Model Y compact SUV, according to New York financiers.

Tesla has also said it aimed to deliver a combined total of 47,000 to 50,000 Model S and Model Xs in the first half of this year, but did not give 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 delivered in 2016.

04-Jul-2017: lexus prepares seven-seat Range Rover rival for Tokyo motor show

lexus is expected to take a seven-seat, extended version of the RX SUV, badged RX350l and RX450hl, to the Tokyo motor show later this year.

lexus is also looking to broaden its large SUV range with the seven-seat RX350l and RX450hl models. The niche is currently unexplored by lexus, so these variants on the RX large SUV will provide a rival to the Volvo XC90, Mercedes-Benz GlS and upcoming BMW X7. lexus filed trademarks for these badges earlier this year, and will appear at the show before going on sale in early 2018, according to Japanese car site, Excite.

The lexus UX is also on its way as a production car within this timeframe, patent files have shown. This may come later, due to a full production model's longer development time, however.

A new entry-level SUV based on the Paris motor show's UX concept, which will share the same name, will replace the CT hatchback in the lexus range, with a small SUV which will sit underneath the RX and NX SUVs.

Patents have been filed for a range of variants under the UX name, including the UX200, UX250 and UX250h. The small numbers signify the nature of the engine, and are of a similar range to the CT200h.

The styling of the production UX is expected to be less extreme than the concept, but will still maintain the spindle grille and angular styling which lexus has adopted with its current generation of cars. like the concept, the engine range suggests both traditional internal combustion engines as well as a range-topping hybrid.

04-Jul-2017: Mclaren 570S Spider

The Mclaren 570S Spider uses an electrically operated, two-part folding roof mechanism that's similar to the one fitted to the 650S and 675lT Spiders. The lid takes 15sec to open or close and can be operated when the car is moving at up to 25mph.

Built around the Woking car maker's ubiquitous Monocell II carbonfibre tub, the third Sports Series model adds 46kg to the 570S's 1452kg kerb weight. Mclaren claims it retains the same structural rigidity as the coupé.

The roof folds beneath a tonneau cover, which features the car's most significant design change compared with the coupé version: a pair of buttresses that also support a retractable wind deflector.

The car also has a rear spoiler that sits 12mm higher than the coupé's to counter the lift generated by the Spider's different roof design. As such, Mclaren claims the Spider has identical aerodynamic performance to the coupé. The rest of the 570S Spider's design is identical to the coupé, including the dihedral doors.

Using the same M838TE 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 and seven-speed transmission as the coupé, the 570S Spider produces 562bhp at 7400rpm and 443lb ft between 5000rpm and 6500rpm. The car has a power-to-weight ratio of 375bhp per tonne. This falls short of the coupé by 12bhp per tonne but eclipses rivals such as the Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet, which produces 328bhp per tonne.

The 570S Spider can sprint from 0-62mph in 3.2sec and has a maximum speed of 204mph. Its performance is near-identical to the coupé's. The Spider can cover 0-124mph in 9.6sec, which is 0.1sec slower than its fixed-head sibling. It has a claimed combined fuel economy of 26.6mpg and emits 249g/km of CO2 - the same as the coupé.

The 570S Spider uses Mclaren's brake steer technology, which can reduce understeer by braking the inside rear wheel, helping to tighten the car's trajectory.

It also has configurable electronic chassis and drivetrain control systems, including the Active Dynamics Panel, which offers three drive modes: Normal, Sport and Track. Drivers can also adjust the level of the car's stability controls, with a Dynamic mode reducing the amount of intervention. It can also be switched off altogether.

The 570S Spider's cabin is identical to the coupe's, so it has Mclaren's centre console-mounted 7.0in touchscreen, which houses the infotainment system and can control features such as cabin climate settings and the audio system.

Six-way adjustable sports seats are standard, but eight-way electric seats with a memory function are available as an option. The seats can be upholstered in optional nappa leather or Alcantara. Buyers wanting the lightest specification car can opt for Mclaren's carbonfibreshelled sports seats, which are the same as those fitted to the P1 hypercar.

Three new body colours are being added to the list of choices for the Spider, with Curacao Blur, Vega Blue and Sicilian Yellow taking the total colours offered to 20. Cars can be finished with a dark grey contrast finish on the roof, A-pillars and buttresses.

The 570S Spider is on sale now, priced from £164,750 - a £19,445 premium over the coupé. This positions the car above the 911 Turbo S Cabriolet, which costs £154,614, but undercuts the similarly paced lamborghini Huracan Spyder, which starts at £198,876.

The first 400 cars to be ordered by customers will be produced in a special launch-edition guise.