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Remember how excruciatingly long it took for Toyota to finally unveil the new Supra? Well I definitely do. And it seems, so do the kids over at Toyota. The only difference is that they must have enjoyed every single second of it, because it does appear that they’re intent on keeping the hype train at full steam for a while yet. But if they’re going to do it by continually making slivers of pure excellence like this Supra GT4 concept, consider us completely and truly on board for the foreseeable future. Toyota’s official line that they released is that what you see here “is a design and engineering study that explores how the Supra sports car might be developed as a competitive machine for international GT4 racing.” Oh yes, Toyota’s referring to this as a concept at this stage, but we’re at the eye-narrowing stage on that one – there’s motorsport-spec fuel cells, diffs and driveshafts, as well as race-ready springs, shocks and anti-roll bars. These are not things that you slap on any old concept unless you’re ready to put Tip-Ex on the ‘concept’ bit and go racing. The total curb weight is only known by Toyota, but we’re guessing that the stripped interior, racing buckets and Lexan windows mean that the answer won’t be ‘inordinately heavier’. And we’re just going to say this now: simple 18-inch Oz Racing wheels are better than any overwrought, oversized alloys you care to mention. How about bring back big sidewalls, preferably with canary-yellow branding on the side. Or is that just me? As for the engine, Toyota says the straight-six is basically the same as the road car, barring a race-ready ECU and wiring loom. So it’s like you, if you actually went to the gym instead of watching your gym towel grow mold in the corner of your wardrobe. The GT4-spec front splitter and rear wing are easily the most substantial visual changes from the road car, and oh how they fill us with pure JDM-spec joy. It is also interesting that they are not carbon fiber. Toyota says both are made from a “natural fibre composite”, which probably means something along the lines of the Porsche Cayman GT4’s doors and rear wing. The reasoning behind this hemp and flax-based material is that it shares the strength of carbon-fibre without the energy-intensive – and therefore environmentally unsound – process for making carbon weave. And this is exactly the kind of environmentalism we can get on board with. Toyota says the standard Supra is the perfect base for a race car – well, they would – citing its “ideal 1.55 golden ratio” of wheelbase to track width, lightweight and “perfectly balanced chassis”. To give Toyota its due, though, it’s hard to think of a turbocharged straight-six, rear-drive, two-door coupe as a particularly bad choice for GT competition. It’s no obviously coincidence that companies like Toyota and Porsche are looking to GT4 – Toyota itself acknowledges it as “one of the world’s fastest-growing motorsports categories, with national and regional competitions in Europe, North America, Asia and Oceania”. The reason is that it’s actually a relatively decent value for money – so, still a hill of money, but not a Himalayan stack of cash needed for LMP1 or F1. And democratising racing is probably one of the hardest goals ever pursued in the history of motorsport. So, who else wants to see GT4-spec Caymans and Supras banging wheels around Spa, Bathurst and Laguna Seca? [gallery td_select_gallery_slide="slide" ids="1435,1436,1437,1438"]
Trying times at Nissan – the company has announced it is cutting a whopping 12,500 jobs and plans to reduce production capacity and the size of its line-up by 10 per cent each by the end of the 2022 financial year. The company employs around 139,000 people, about 8,000 of which are based in the UK. Nissan also announced a 94.5 per cent fall in net profits for the first quarter of 2019, and a 6 per cent fall in global sales. Chief executive Hiroto Saikawa said 6,400 of the 12,500 job cuts have already been made, and that cuts to the company’s model line-up would mainly affect less profitable models, such as “compact cars and its Datsun range”. No surprises there – the Nissan X-Trail ranks among the world’s best-selling SUVs, while the Qashqai is the fifth best-selling car in Britain so far this year. Earlier this year Nissan announced Infiniti will stop selling cars in Western Europe by 2020, and thus production of the Q30 and QX30 at its Sunderland factory would end. The company has also said the next X-Trail will be built in Japan, after previously saying it would be produced in the UK. We do not know if the Sunderland plant will be affected by the cuts, but it’s widely reported unions are hopeful it will be spared.
It’s screen time. Here’s the dashboard of the Porsche Taycan. Yes, the endless tease of Stuttgart electro-saloon fact-ery continues. We’ll see the actual entire car next week, BTW. Top Gear has seen, stroked, caressed and generally fiddled about with this dash. It’s gonna take a bit of getting used to, but the potential is impressive. Most striking is the giant curved free-standing instrument display, nearly 17 inches across. Unlit, it’s just a black polished piece. It looks like the sort of thing you see laying on its back on a countertop in the brochure for a high-end kitchen, holding four artfully placed pink grapefruit. Once the ignition’s on, it shows facsimiles of Porsche’s traditional dials. The centre one covers speed and power, and it too is digital – unlike the real tach in the centre of a new 911’s panel. The outer two circles can be reconfigured in a vast array of options, including the usual infotainment, maps, trip computer and all. Porsche claims the anti-reflection coating means it doesn’t need a shading hood for sunny days. We saw it in a garage so can’t comment. Uniquely for an instrument panel, this screen has touch capability too, with some buttons on the left and right ends for headlights and chassis modes. The whizzo tick box is obviously going to be the optional passenger screen. The person sitting alongside you won’t be able to shut off the ESP, duh. But they can enter a navigation destination, sort out the entertainment and see car info. It goes black if a sensor says there’s no passenger. The lower of the pair of console panels mostly takes care of climate. It’s got haptic feedback to help guide your fingers. Hit a virtual button and it shakes; miss the button and it doesn’t. This screen also has a space for handwriting recognition. The same panel shows charge info when you’re stopped, but when you’re moving it doesn’t have other functions because it’s below eyeline so is supposed not to be a distraction. Like fiddling with the rest of the screens won’t be a distraction… Next up the main centre display, a 10.9-inch touch panel. Pretty routine by the standards of the rest of it. That’s got a home screen, then also a widget screen where you can set up your preferred shortcuts. Routine, but well advanced. Other options include a head-up display, screens in the back for entertainment and climate zones, and a major-league Burmester stereo. The system is prepared for over-the-air updates, for the infotainment at first, and later the deeper workings of the car itself. Oh, and the direction of air from the vents is controlled not by moving a knob on the vent. Oh no, it’s far less intuitive than that. As with a Tesla (and the current Panamera), you have to go into a menu, and then swipe a virtual knob which causes a heavy, expensive and complicated series of motors to move the vanes in the vent in the commensurate direction. Porsche says it’s more versatile, more configurable between drivers, allows a neater dash design. We couldn’t help laughing. [gallery td_select_gallery_slide="slide" td_gallery_title_input="Porsche Taycan Interior" ids="8239,8241,8243"]
Mercedes has released that it plans to launch eight cars off the new-generation A-Class. CEO Dieter Zetsche has noted that none of them will be smaller than the A. There will be no Mini rival from Stuttgart. So what should we expect? Well, the new A-Class itself, recently revealed and soon to be on sale. Then, says Zetsche, “we will further expand the SUVs. We need something more SUV than the GLA.” He’s talking about a boxy vehicle that Mercedes has been seen testing in disguise. It has the outline of a mini G-Wagen. It will, sources say, be called GLB and will have three rows of seats. “The new BMW X2 is basically like the [current] GLA,” Zetsche observes wryly. “And you will see a new GLA. As in other segments we’ll have two interpretations. So the GLA will be more in the SUV direction, and that will expand our scope. It gives us the possibility of doing something between the A-Class and the GLA.” So, three crossovers: GLA Coupe, GLA and GLB. “There will be a three-box [saloon], mostly for the USA and Asia,” he says. That’s been previewed by the Concept A Sedan at the Shanghai show last year. We have been told that there will also be a LWB version of that same sedan especially for China. Don’t confuse the A saloon with the CLA (that one has done well for Mercedes in the US and will be replaced). But a new CLA Shooting Brake isn’t likely. The CLS Shooting Brake has also died, remember. So: a hatch, three four-doors, three SUVs. And finally, a replacement for the B-Class MPV. Right there is the eight cars you should expect to see in the future. Mercedes is also going to offer more powertrains. These include both petrol and diesel – Zetsche has made some very bold claims for the cleanliness of the new diesels – and of course a scorching AMG version. There’s also going to be a plug-in hybrid, sources say, which is why there’s a compact new torsion-beam suspension for the A-Class, to make space for the battery. For the launch, it’s fitted to a few low-powered petrol and diesel versions, while higher performance and AWD cars get multi-link. When talking about the A-Class, Zetsche also stated, “It has made the Mercedes brand younger and cooler. And it has sold 25 per cent more than the equivalent BMW and Audi, and made a significant contribution [to profits].” The original A-Class sold decently, but was mostly bought by older people. “It was a burden on the brand.” With the current one, “average age of buyers went down by ten years. That’s huge. And a high proportion are women.” He adds that most buyers were conquested from other brands, and yet then they have stayed with Mercedes, a high proportion then trading up into other even more profitable Mercedes’ such as a C-Class or GLC. [gallery td_select_gallery_slide="slide" ids="1489,1490"]
Hang on. Before we do anything else here – just look at the size of those wheels. Those are 24-inch jobs that German tuner SPOFEC has created in partnership with Vossen, and they apparently come in 72 different colours. Twenty-four! Seventy-two! Now we’ve got that out of the way, we can look at the car they’re attached to. It’s a hard one to miss too – this is a Rolls-Royce Phantom that has been worked over by the aforementioned SPOFEC. There’s a full body kit, of course, with a new front bumper that apparently reduces front-end lift at high speeds. There are also side skirts that, combined with a 40mm drop to the air suspension, make the Phantom sit extremely low. Definitely no need to worry about speed bumps or an errant crisp packet on the road. Thankfully, SPOFEC hasn’t touched that fantastic interior, but they have been playing with the 6.75-litre V12 under the bonnet. An ECU remap means power now stands at – wait for it – 676bhp and 744lb ft of torque. Crikey. Zero to 62mph can apparently be dispatched in five seconds flat, but top speed is still limited to 155mph. Come on then all you Phantom-owning TopGear.com readers – tell us in the comments below if you’d ever go for the SPOFEC look… [gallery td_gallery_title_input="Rolls-Royce Phantom SPOFEC" td_select_gallery_slide="slide" ids="18996,18998,19000,19002,19004,19006,19008,19010"]
A curiously specified Lamborghini Veneno Roadster has supposedly become the most expensive Lamborghini ever sold at auction, after an anonymous buyer paid £6,768,709 for it at a Bonhams auction in Switzerland. Not bad, given it was estimated to sell for ‘just’ £4.5million. The Veneno was one of 25 cars seized by Swiss authorities back in 2016 as part of an investigation into Teodoro Nguema Obiang (look closely and you’ll see his initials inscribed on the Lambo’s doors and bonnet) - Vice President of the impoverished but oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, and son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema. All 25 cars, including a Koenigsegg One:1 that sold for £3,760,394, a LaFerrari that sold for £1,786,187 and an Aston Martin One-77 that went for £1,269,133, were sold at last weekend’s auction. In all they earned a grand total of £21.9million, a significant portion of which will be used to fund social projects in Equatorial Guinea. Lamborghini built just nine Veneno Roadsters (as opposed to three coupes), based on the Aventador platform and using a tuned version of its 6.5-litre V12 giving 740bhp. It can do 0-62mph in less than three seconds and has a top speed of 220mph. New they cost €3.3million before tax. This one, number seven, has around 200 miles on the clock. [gallery td_gallery_title_input="Lamborghini Veneno Roadster" td_select_gallery_slide="slide" ids="11990,11992,11994,11996"]
The Alpine A110 S will cost £56,810. That is ten thousand pounds more expensive than a regular Alpine A110, and ten thousand pounds is a rather large sum of money. For that additional £10k, you do get more. More power, for starters. Alpine has juiced up that 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine to 288bhp, which is considerably punchier than the regular car’s 248bhp, thanks to a bigger turbo. There’s more – as in better – acceleration, too, because 0-62mph now takes just 4.4secs, a tenth quicker compared to the £10k cheaper standard A110. There’s more stiffness courtesy of 50 per cent firmer springs, and 100 per cent stiffer anti roll bars. It’s been lowered by 4mm, gets wider, stickier Michelin tyres, big Brembo brakes as standard and an active sports exhaust. Heck, even the ESC’s been retuned for “greater handling accuracy and improved grip”. A couple of options are available that give you less: an optional carbon fibre roof panel for £2,208 which saves 1.6kg of weight, and £1,656 carbon fibre backed Sabelt bucket seats, which also save some weight. Option both of those, and you’re looking at £60k. For £60k you can have a lot of power – something like a four-door BMW M3, or an Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio (nearly). But then, the Alpine’s charms have always been rather more finessed, and nuanced, no? [gallery td_gallery_title_input="Alpine A110S" td_select_gallery_slide="slide" ids="6636,6647,6644,6640,6642,6638"]
It seems like we can't get through a single week without TESLA NEWS, and this week’s TESLA NEWS is that the Model 3 has officially been declared the fastest charging electric car in the world. Naturally with conditions, of course. A firmware update – rolling out this weekend – for European Model 3s with the Long Range battery option will allow them to charge at 200kW when using specific ‘ultrafast’ chargers. Simply speaking, 200kW equates to 850 miles for each hour of charging. Given the Long Range version quotes at 329 miles on a full battery, your stops at service stations might be about to get a whole lot snappier. Tesla has told us that this is only the beginning of such convenience. “When our own V3 Supercharger technology is introduced, these cars will be able to charge even faster at 250kW peak charge rates.” [gallery td_select_gallery_slide="slide" ids="1526,1527"]
This is the new Porsche Macan Turbo and here are the headlines: a new full-width light bar at the back. Only joking. There’s a bit more to it than just LED silliness. Porsche has actually found a replacement for displacement: German cleverness. See, the Macan Turbo has lost its 3.6-litre twin-turbo V6 engine, and swapped in a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6. It’s the same hot-vee engine with turbos inside the cylinder blocks for better throttle response that lives in the Panamera, Cayenne, and the Audi RS4. So, same engine layout, and over half a litre less capacity. And yet, power has climbed from just under 400bhp to 434bhp. So, 0-62mph is done and dusted 0.3sec earlier, in 4.3 seconds, with a little help from launch control and the optional Sport Chrono pack. Of course it’s an optional extra. This is a Porsche, people. What’s standard are better, prettier brakes. ‘Better’ because they’re steel rotors coated with tungsten carbide which reduces wear, improves stopping distances and apparently reduces brake dust significantly, to keep your posh alloys looking smart. And ‘prettier’? Yup, thanks to the coating giving the discs an uncanny mirror-finish sheen. Macanspotters, if such people exist, can also spot the new ultimate version by looking out for the redesigned front air intakes and a double roof spoiler, which is rather tamer than its Pimp My Ride name suggests. Boo. Inside, there are multi-adjustable electric seats, a better touchscreen (as per the rest of the updated Macan family) and space for five, as per usual. Being the entry-level Porsche SUV, the Macan Turbo is the cheapest way to get yourself into a ‘Turbo’ range-topping Porsche. It’s £68,530, which makes it a lump cheaper than TG’s favourite fast’n’small SUV, the Merc-AMG GLC 63 S. Then again, the AMG is a whopping 60bhp more powerful, and makes a noise like a thunderstorm treading on some Lego barefoot. Can you put a price on that? So, which would you have? [gallery td_select_gallery_slide="slide" td_gallery_title_input="Porsche Macan Turbo 2020" ids="8509,8507,8511,8505"]