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  • 07/05/17--15:30: Top 10: UK car sales Q2 2017
  • Although total new car registrations for the first half of 2017 were broadly in line with last year, volumes during the second quarter were down by 10.3%. Such a decline was expected following the introduction of revised Vehicle Excise Duty rates at the beginning of April.

    Commenting on the figures, Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said, “As forecast, demand for new cars has started to cool following five consecutive years of solid growth but the numbers are still strong and the first half of the year is the second biggest on record.

    “Provided consumer and business confidence holds, we expect demand to remain at a similarly high level over the coming months.” In other words, the industry shouldn't panic just yet.

    It's clear that buyers are continuing to think very carefully about fuel type. Diesel's year-to-date market share has dropped from 47.9% in 2016 to 43.8% in 2017, for instance. Petrol accounts for most of the substitution, but the growing alternative category (i.e. hybrids and electric) now represents 4.2% of all registrations.

    Cumulative UK Car Registrations Q2 2017 - By Fuel Type
    Fuel 2017 2016 Change Change %
    Diesel 613,381 680,668 -67,287 -9.9%
    Petrol 729,773 693,963 +35,810 +5.2%
    Alternative 58,657 46,005 +12,652 +27.5%
    Total 1,401,811 1,420,636 -18,825 -1.3%

    Even with the inevitable supply disruption caused by the launch of an all-new Fiesta, Ford's supermini remains at the top of the model league table.

    However, the most popular car in the month of June was the Volkswagen Golf. That remarkable feat helped to relegate the Vauxhall Corsa to fifth place.

    Volkswagen Golf GTE Advance (2017) Front Side
    Up to third position: the Volkswagen Golf.

    Top 10: Cumulative UK Car Registrations Q2 2017 - By Model
    Position Model Registrations Market Share
    1 Ford Fiesta 59,380 4.2%
    2 Ford Focus 40,045 2.9%
    3 Volkswagen Golf 36,703 2.6%
    4 Nissan Qashqai 33,574 2.4%
    5 Vauxhall Corsa 33,560 2.4%
    6 Vauxhall Astra 32,408 2.3%
    7 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 27,386 2.0%
    8 Volkswagen Polo 27,205 1.9%
    9 Mini Hatch 25,582 1.8%
    10 Mercedes-Benz A-Class 22,944 1.6%

    Related posts:
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    Top 10: UK car sales 2016 - winners and losers

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    Contenders for 2018's North American Car of the Year, Truck of the Year and Utility Vehicle of the Year have been announced.

    These so-called long lists – which include all models that are either totally new or substantially changed – will later be whittled down by a team of jurors to determine the entries that can proceed to the next stage.

    2018 North American Car of the Year

    Remarkably, Tesla is the only American brand represented in this category.

    Kia Stinger (2018) Side
    2018 Kia Stinger

    2018 North American Truck of the Year

    By contrast, the Truck award is an all-domestic affair (although only three contestants have qualified).
    Lincoln Navigator (2018) Front Side
    2018 Lincoln Navigator

    2018 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year

    There's certainly no shortage of volume or variety in this class.
    • Audi Q5 / S5
    • Alfa Romeo Stelvio
    • BMW X3
    • Buick Enclave
    • Chevrolet Equinox
    • Chevrolet Traverse
    • GMC Terrain
    • Honda Odyssey
    • Jeep Compass
    • Kia Niro
    • Land Rover Discovery
    • Land Rover Range Rover Velar
    • Mazda CX-5
    • Nissan Rouge Sport
    • Subaru Crosstrek
    • Toyota CH-R
    • Volkswagen Atlas
    • Volkswagen Tiguan
    • Volvo XC60
    BMW X3 xDrive M40i (2018) Front Side
    2018 BMW X3

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    This has to be one of the strangest vehicles ever offered by BMW. The X2City, which is a kick-scooter fitted with an electric drive system, is primarily targeted at people who want a zero-emissions congestion-buster.

    Technically, it's a 'pedelec 25'. That means the electric assistance cuts out above 25 km/h (15 mph) and riders don't need a helmet, insurance or a licence.

    BMW X2City (2018) Front Side

    Energy comes from a removable 408 Wh lithium-ion battery. BMW says expected range is between 25 and 35 kilometres (15 and 21 miles) and recharging via a domestic socket takes around 2.5 hours.

    After the brushless hub motor is activated at 6 km/h (3 mph) or above, there's a choice of five running speeds. At journey's end, a folding handlebar and a weight of 20 kg (44 lbs) are intended to make storage or transportation fairly easy.

    BMW X2City (2018) Rear Side

    The X2City has been developed in collaboration with ZEG, an owner of numerous bicycle and scooter brands. Indeed, when deliveries begin at the end of 2017, sales are going to be via an online store or selected ZEG outlets only; BMW Motorrad dealers won't be involved.

    It shouldn't be considered a child's toy, though (even if adult scooterists risk looking ridiculous). For starters, the minimum legal age for users is fourteen, then there's the issue of price.

    Although a final figure has yet to be announced, the cost “will be below €2,500” in Germany (roughly £2,200 at current exchange rates).

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    Ducati has officially revealed its 1299 Panigale R Final Edition. This new tri-colour bike essentially combines a Panigale R chassis set-up with an engine taken from the 1299 Superleggera.

    Ducati 1299 Panigale R Final Edition (2017) Front Side

    Each example will be individually numbered, but Ducati hasn't imposed a limit on production volumes. A price of £34,995 (plus on-the-road costs) should ensure the Final Edition's rarity, though.

    Ducati 1299 Panigale R Final Edition specifications
    Type Euro 4 compliant, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected Superquadro
    Configuration 1,285 cc, two cylinders, four valves per cylinder
    Special components Increased-lift camshafts, increased-diameter titanium intake and exhaust valves, two-segment pistons, lighter crankshaft with tungsten balancing pads
    Exhaust Titanium Akrapovič with high-mounted dual silencer
    Power 206 bhp (154 kW / 209 PS) at 11,000 rpm
    Torque 142 Nm (104 lb/ft) at 9,000 rpm
    Gearbox Six-speed with Ducati Quick Shift up / down
    Clutch Hydraulically-controlled slipper
    Frame Die-cast aluminium monocoque with engine acting as a stressed member
    Wheels Three-spoke lightweight forged alloy
    Front suspension Öhlins NIX30 adjustable 44 mm upside-down fork
    Rear suspension Öhlins TTX36 monoshock damper with titanium spring
    Front brakes Dual Brembo M50 four-piston monobloc calipers, 330 mm semi-floating discs
    Rear brake Two-piston caliper, 245 mm disc
    Rider aids Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit, Cornering ABS, Ducati Wheelie Control Evo, Ducati Traction Control Evo, Engine Brake Control, Öhlins adjustable steering damper, automatic tyre size calibration, Ducati Data Analysis+ GPS (records and displays lean angles)
    Riding modes Sport, Race, Wet
    Dry weight 168 kg (370 lbs) (no fuel, lubricants or coolants; battery removed)
    Wet weight 190 kg (418 lbs) (ready to ride with fuel tank 90% full)

    Ducati 1299 Panigale R Final Edition (2017) InstrumentsDucati 1299 Panigale R Final Edition (2017) Side

    Ducati 1299 Panigale R Final Edition (2017) TopDucati 1299 Panigale R Final Edition (2017) Rear Side

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    Creating a Black Edition has almost become the motor industry's standard course of action if a few extra sales are required. Honda is continuing its enthusiasm for this tactic by introducing the HR-V Black Edition.

    Honda HR-V Black Edition (2017) Front Side

    Based on the existing SE trim grade, blackened components include the 18” alloy wheels, door mirror caps, running boards, skid plates and front grille. Inside, the enhanced specification gains carpet mats and leather upholstery.

    Honda HR-V Black Edition (2017) Rear Side

    On-the-road prices vary according to the engine and transmission selected. However, they don't seem to represent great value, as all are £3,805 more than their equivalent SE variant.
    • 128 bhp (96 kW / 130 PS) 1.5 i-VTEC petrol manual – £25,000
    • 128 bhp (96 kW / 130 PS) 1.5 i-VTEC petrol CVT automatic – £26,210
    • 118 bhp (88 kW / 120 PS) 1.6 i-DTEC diesel manual – £26,820
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    A five-door coupé might be an unexpected addition to Hyundai's i30 range, but that's exactly what the new Fastback is.

    As well as a sleeker profile, distinguishing styling elements include LED headlights, a shallower grille, widened wheel arches and a prominent rear spoiler. Compared to the recently-launched i30 hatchback, the Fastback version is 30 mm (1.2”) lower and 115 mm (4.5”) longer.

    Hyundai i30 Fastback (2018) Rear Side

    To complement the sportier looks, the suspension is 15% stiffer (although Hyundai says that ride quality hasn't suffered too much).

    The initial engine line-up comprises 118 bhp (88 kW / 120 PS) 1.0 litre, three-cylinder and 138 bhp (103 kW / 140 PS) 1.4 litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol units. Both come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission can be specified instead for the larger displacement motor.

    Alternatively, a turbocharged 1.6 litre four-cylinder diesel-burner is due to arrive at a later date. Customers will have a choice of either 108 bhp (80 kW / 110 PS) or 134 bhp (100 kW / 136 PS) outputs, which can be combined with the aforementioned manual or dual-clutch transmissions.

    There are plenty of driver aids on the available equipment list. Among them are Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Assist System, Rear-Cross Traffic Alert and Driver Attention Alert.

    Hyundai is planning to begin i30 Fastback sales across Europe at the start of 2018. Prices have yet to be confirmed.

    Hyundai i30 Fastback (2018) DashboardHyundai i30 Fastback (2018) Front Side

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    Five years after being launched, the Ford Transit Custom is getting a mid-life refresh. The updates are mainly cosmetic, but the engine line-up gains another member too.

    Externally, the most obvious changes are at the front. A large single three-bar grille replaces the previous split arrangement, plus the headlights and bumper have been restyled. All of those elements combine to create a bolder, less fussy look than before.

    Ford Transit Custom Panel Van (2018) Front

    An enhanced interior promises higher comfort levels. New seats are claimed to provide better support, the upholstery fabrics are more durable and the completely redesigned dashboard majors on practicality and storage.

    As a minimum, all variants feature the MyFord Dock that mounts and recharges smartphones, MP3 players and other devices. Also available is Sync 3, a touchscreen-controlled infotainment system which is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

    Additional in-cab technologies are intended to help drivers stay legal and avoid accidents. For example, the Intelligent Speed Limiter uses traffic sign recognition, while the Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert improves situational awareness.

    Power comes from the familiar 2.0 litre EcoBlue diesel unit that'll be offered in 103 bhp (77 kW / 105 PS), 128 bhp (95 kW / 130 PS) and 167 bhp (125 kW / 170 PS) guises.

    However, the big drivetrain news is the arrival of a short-wheelbase ECOnetic version. This takes a specially-tuned 103 bhp engine and adds low rolling resistance tyres, a stop-start system, Acceleration Control and a 62 mph (100 km/h) speed limiter. The results are 49.6 mpg (5.7 l/100km) and carbon dioxide emissions of 148 g/km.

    Deliveries of the revised Transit Custom are due to commence during the early part of 2018.

    Ford Transit Custom Panel Van (2018) Rear SideFord Transit Custom Panel Van (2018) Interior

    Ford Transit Custom Panel Van (2018) DashboardFord Transit Custom Panel Van (2018) Front Side

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    Various concept cars and involvement in the World Rally Championship have helped Hyundai to build awareness of its nascent 'N' performance sub-brand. Now the time has come to launch a showroom model.

    The new i30 N – which is due to arrive at Hyundai's European dealers before the end of this year – certainly boasts an impressive specification. Standard equipment includes a rev matching device for smoother downshifts, launch control and electronically-controlled variable damping.

    Hyundai i30 N (2018) Front Side

    Furthermore, there's a choice of Normal, Sport, Eco, N and Custom driving modes. These determine numerous settings such as steering feel, throttle response and electronic stability control intervention.

    Power is provided by a 2.0 litre, four-cylinder, Theta T-GDI turbocharged petrol engine that'll be offered with two different outputs. Just like the Volkswagen Golf GTI, in other words.

    Indeed, judging by the data below, Hyundai appears to have used the well established (and recently updated) German hot hatch as a benchmark for the i30 N.

    Model Hyundai i30 N Volkswagen Golf GTI
    Engine 2.0 litre turbo petrol 2.0 litre turbo petrol
    Transmission 6-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel drive 6-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel drive
    Power 246 bhp (184 kW / 250 PS) 226 bhp (169 kW / 230 PS)
    Torque 353 Nm (260 lb/ft) 350 Nm (258 lb/ft)
    0-62 mph 6.4 secs 6.4 secs
    Top speed 155 mph (250 km/h) 155 mph (250 km/h)

    Model Hyundai i30 N with Performance Package Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance
    Engine 2.0 litre turbo petrol 2.0 litre turbo petrol
    Transmission 6-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel drive, electronic limited-slip differential 6-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel drive, mechanical limited-slip differential
    Power 271 bhp (202 kW / 275 PS) 241 bhp (180 kW / 245 PS)
    Torque 353 Nm (260 lb/ft) 370 Nm (273 lb/ft)
    0-62 mph 6.1 secs 6.2 secs
    Top speed 155 mph (250 km/h) 155 mph (250 km/h)

    Hyundai i30 N (2018) InteriorHyundai i30 N (2018) Rear Side

    Hyundai i30 N (2018) SideHyundai i30 N (2018) Dashboard

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    While the cosmetic changes are subtle, Yamaha has actually completely redesigned its X-MAX 400 scooter.

    Yamaha X-MAX 400 (2018) Front Side

    The specification is enhanced for 2018, too. In particular, traction control is now fitted as standard, plus the front end has gained a 'motorcycle-style' fork that's claimed to deliver better comfort and high-speed stability.

    Other notable features include a parking brake, the Smart Key keyless ignition system and an adjustable windscreen.

    Yamaha X-MAX 400 (2018) Rear Side

    As before, power comes from an EU4-compliant, single-cylinder, four-stroke, fuel-injected, 395 cc engine that's mated to an automatic transmission.

    Output and torque are still 32.8 bhp (24.5 kW / 33.3 PS) and 36.0 Nm (26.5 lb/ft) respectively, but average efficiency has improved very slightly from 67.2 mpg (4.20 l/100km) to 67.5 mpg (4.18 l/100km).

    Yamaha X-MAX 400 (2018) Side

    One potential downside for some shorter riders is an increase in seat height from 785 mm (30.9”) to 800 mm (31.5”). However, they'll appreciate a lower 'wet' weight of 210 kg (463 lbs), which represents a 5 kg (11 lbs) reduction. Yamaha partly achieved this by shrinking the petrol tank's capacity from 14 to 13 litres (3.0 to 2.8 gallons).

    A UK price for the 2018 X-MAX 400 has yet to be announced.

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    Apparently, Scout owners like to give their bikes a custom bobber look, so Indian has decided to create an official factory version.

    As well as numerous black components, unique Scout Bobber features include tracker handlebars, shortened mudguards, 16” cast wheels shod with larger tyres, vented exhaust shields, a two-tone leather-covered saddle and special tank badges.

    Indian Scout Bobber (2018) Side 1

    What's more, the riding experience should be fairly different. That's because the foot pegs have been moved 38 mm (1.5”) aft, the rear suspension is 25 mm (1.0”) lower and a cartridge-type front fork is fitted.

    Like a regular Scout, the Bobber is powered by a 1,133 cc, fuel-injected, V-twin engine. This delivers 92 bhp (70 kW / 94 PS) and 98 Nm (72 lb/ft) of torque via a six-speed transmission.

    When European sales of the Scout Bobber begin towards the end of 2017, customers will have a choice of Thunder Black, Thunder Black Smoke, Bronze Smoke, Indian Motorcycle Red or Star Silver Smoke paintwork.

    UK pricing starts at £11,299.

    Indian Scout Bobber (2018) Side 2Indian Scout Bobber (2018) Side 3

    Indian Scout Bobber (2018) Side 4Indian Scout Bobber (2018) Side 5

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    Vauxhall's new high-performance Insignia won't be named VXR, nor will the Opel version be wearing OPC badges. Instead, both brands have decided to resurrect the GSi moniker.

    The 2018 Insignia GSi is powered by a 2.0 litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine which develops 256 bhp (191 kW / 260 PS) with 400 Nm (295 lb/ft) of peak torque.

    Vauxhall Insignia GSi (2018) Front Side

    That output is sent to an all-wheel drive system via an eight-speed automatic transmission. A manual gearbox alternative isn't going to be offered.

    Strangely, acceleration and top speed figures have yet to be released, but Vauxhall has confirmed that the Insignia GSi can achieve 32.8mpg (8.6 l/100km) on the combined cycle while emitting 197g/km of CO2. It's not particularly efficient, then.

    Chassis upgrades include torque vectoring for the rear axle, FlexRide adaptive steering and damping, a lowered suspension set-up, Brembo brakes and 18” wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres. Furthermore, there's a choice of Standard, Tour, Sport and Competition driving modes.

    Although market launch dates haven't been announced, the Insignia GSi's public unveiling is due to take place at the Frankfurt International Motor Show in September.

    Vauxhall Insignia GSi (2018) InteriorOpel Insignia GSi (2018) Rear Side

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    Images © General Motors.

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    Lotus has announced another special edition. The Evora GT430 is available to order now, but only sixty examples are being built.

    However, a UK starting price of £112,500 should help match demand to supply (even if this is the company's most powerful street-legal car ever).

    Lotus Evora GT430 (2017) Front Side

    Output from the supercharged 3.5 litre V6 engine has risen to 430 bhp (320 kW / 436 PS) at 7,000 rpm, while peak torque becomes 440 Nm (325 lb/ft) at 4,500 rpm. Among the various enhancements are an air-to-liquid cooler for the six-speed manual gearbox and a titanium exhaust.

    Those higher figures allow the Evora GT430 to accelerate from standstill to 62 mph (100 km/h) in just 3.8 seconds. By comparison, an Evora Sport 410 completes the same sprint in 4.2 seconds, with both models achieving an identical 190 mph (305 km/h) top speed.

    To complement the mechanical upgrades, dry weight has been reduced from 1,280 kg (2,822 lbs) to 1,258 kg (2,773 lbs). Bespoke carbon fibre body panels and bumper sections contributed to the diet, as did Öhlins TTX two-way adjustable dampers, Eibach springs, a polycarbonate rear screen and a thinner aluminium undertray.

    Furthermore, unique components such as the front splitter, wheel arch vents, rear diffuser and massive rear wing are intended to refine and improve the aerodynamics. Indeed, Lotus claims that up to 250 kg (551 lbs) of downforce can now be generated.

    The Evora GT430 is being offered in two-seat form only.

    Lotus Evora GT430 (2017) InteriorLotus Evora GT430 (2017) Rear Side

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    Following a preview last December, the Mercedes-AMG GT4 is almost ready to go racing.

    It's being aimed primarily at customer teams. Based on the road-going Mercedes-AMG GT R, the GT4 version features an aluminium space frame chassis, numerous composite body panels and some unique aerodynamic appendages.

    Mercedes-AMG GT4 2018 Front Side

    Up to 503 bhp (375 kW / 510 PS) with 600 Nm (442 lb/ft) of torque is provided by a front-mounted 4.0 litre biturbo V8 engine. That output is sent to the rear wheels via a sequential six-speed gearbox which is incorporated into the back axle.

    Combined with a weight of approximately 1,390 kg (3,064 lbs) – and depending on any 'balance of performance' restrictions – the results are a sub-four seconds 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time and a top speed in excess of 155 mph (250 km/h).

    Mercedes-AMG GT4 2018 Interior

    The Mercedes-AMG GT4 is priced at €198,850 excluding VAT (roughly £177,730 or US$232,720 at current exchange rates).

    Deliveries are due to begin towards the end of this year. In the meantime, the continuing test and development work is going to include selected race entries in partnership with HWA AG.

    Mercedes-AMG GT4 2018 Side

    Commenting on the new car, Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH, said: “The GT4 segment is getting more and more popular. The production-based concept is an important factor, especially when you want to get started in motorsport as a team or as a driver. For some teams, the GT4 category also serves as a sensible addition to their existing involvement in GT3, for instance to support young drivers.

    “For us as a manufacturer, GT4 competition is a logical next step to extend our Customer Racing Programme. After the achievements in GT3 racing, the Mercedes-AMG GT4 is opening another valuable platform for us to prove our competence as a globally successful sports car and performance brand.”

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  • 07/27/17--15:32: Global NSX GT3 sales begin
  • Motorsport teams can now place their orders for the Honda (Acura in North America) NSX GT3. The Customer Racing Programme launch follows a preliminary two-car entry in the GT Daytona class of this year's WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

    Initially, twelve examples of the NSX GT3 are going to be built at Acura's Ohio facility in time for the 2018 race season. JAS Motorsport will then provide user support across Europe, Asia and South America, while M-TEC and HPD are going to perform similar roles for Japan and North America respectively.

    Honda NSX GT3 2018 Front SideHonda NSX GT3 2018 Side

    Honda NSX GT3 2018 InteriorHonda NSX GT3 2018 Rear Side

    Like the road-going NSX, the GT3 version is powered by a mid-mounted, twin-turbocharged, 3.5 litre V6 engine. However, homologation regulations don't allow hybrid or all-wheel drive systems, so the NSX GT3 is rear-wheel drive only.

    In a similar vein, the standard NSX's nine-speed dual-clutch transmission has been swapped for a six-speed, semi-automatic, sequential-shift gearbox.

    For Europe, the starting price for a Honda NSX GT3 is €465,000. That's approximately £415,600 at current exchange rates.

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    Bentley and Plymouth-based Princess Yachts have collaborated to create a special Continental GT V8 Convertible. The Galene Edition by Mulliner, which is named after the Greek goddess of calm seas, has a distinctly nautical theme.

    Glacier White paintwork evokes a boat's hull, while a Sequin Blue finish for the accent strips creates the impression of a waterline. Further adding to the elegant look are 21” 'Propeller' polished wheels and a dark blue fabric roof.

    Bentley Continental GT V8 Convertible Galene Edition by Mulliner (2017) Front SideBentley Continental GT V8 Convertible Galene Edition by Mulliner (2017) Side

    The interior features two-tone leather upholstery in shades that Bentley calls Linen and Portland. It's complemented by Pinstripe Walnut, a bespoke wood for this car which appears on the centre console, door-sill tread plates and boot floor.

    Bentley Continental GT V8 Convertible Galene Edition by Mulliner (2017) InteriorBentley Continental GT V8 Convertible Galene Edition by Mulliner (2017) Luggage Compartment

    As a finishing touch, a hand-painted yacht illustration by Spanish artist Jaume Vilardell can be applied to the Glacier White dashboard panel.

    Production of the Galene Edition by Mulliner is being limited to just thirty examples.

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    Jeep dealers in the UK are now taking customer orders for the Wrangler Rubicon Recon special edition. Based on the existing Rubicon trim grade, it's available in both two- and four-door guises.

    Identifying features include a vented 'Power Dome' bonnet with unique Rubicon decals, low-gloss granite-coloured 18” wheels, a black rigid spare wheel cover and the Dual Top roof package that comprises a 'Freedom' modular hard top and a 'Sunrider' soft top.

    Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Recon 2 Door (2017) Front Side

    Inside, a usually optional touchscreen-controlled Uconnect infotainment and navigation system is fitted as standard. Some contrast for the black leather upholstery is provided by the stitching, seatbelts and storage nets, which are all red.

    The Rubicon Recon isn't just about cosmetic and equipment upgrades, though. Off-road ability will be better too, thanks to a stronger front axle, a heavy-duty cast rear differential cover and tougher rock rails.

    Compared to the regular Rubicon variants, prices are £4,300 higher. Consequently, the Rubicon Recon two-door costs £40,505 and the four-door sells for £42,175.

    Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Recon 2 Door (2017) InteriorJeep Wrangler Rubicon Recon 4 Door (2017) Rear Side

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    Mercedes-Benz has a long history of building commercial vehicles, so a pick-up is a logical (and perhaps overdue) addition to the company's range. The new X-Class – which shares its underpinnings with the Nissan NP300 Navara and Renault Alaskan – should appeal to a broad customer base courtesy of three distinctive trim grades.

    Firstly, 'Pure' is intended to be a workhorse. Users of this X-Class are likely to appreciate a load bed that measures 1,587 mm (62.5”) long by 1,560 mm (61.4”) wide, a 1,042 kg (2,297 lbs) maximum payload and a towing capability of up to 3,500 kg (7,716 lbs).

    Next is 'Progressive'. Body-colour bumpers instead of black plastic items denote some added luxuries for this mid-market version.

    Mercedes-Benz X-Class Progressive (2018) Front Side

    Finally, 'Power' is unashamedly aimed at lifestyle customers who merely intend to haul mountain bikes or other leisure paraphernalia. Accordingly, the exterior gains extra chrome, while the interior boasts electrically-adjustable front seats plus Artico faux leather and Dinamica microfibre upholstery. For a further outlay, black or brown genuine leather can be specified instead.

    The initial powertrain choice is set to comprise X 220 d and X 250 d variants that share a 2.3 litre, four-cylinder, diesel engine and a six-speed manual gearbox. Outputs are 160 bhp (120 kW / 163 PS) and 187 bhp (140 kW / 190 PS) respectively.

    Both can be equipped with either rear-wheel drive or selectable 4Matic all-wheel drive. For rough terrain driving, the latter also benefits from low-range gearing and Downhill Speed Regulation as standard, but a rear-axle differential lock remains on the options list.

    Later on, the X 350 d will cater to anybody requiring better performance. Its diesel V6 delivers 254 bhp (190 kW / 258 PS) with 550 Nm (405 lb/ft) of peak torque via a 7G-Tronic Plus seven-speed automatic transmission and a permanent 4Matic system.

    A petrol model is planned, too. However, the 162 bhp (122 kW / 165 PS) X 200 is only going to be made in left-hand drive form with rear-wheel drive for specific countries such as Dubai and Morocco.

    Like the more sophisticated members of Nissan's NP300 Navara line-up, every X-Class features coil spring suspension on both axles (there are no old-fashioned rear leaf springs here).

    European sales begin during November 2017, while launches in Australia and South Africa are scheduled for early 2018. X-Class production for those territories is to be sourced from the Nissan factory in Barcelona, Spain.

    The Renault plant in Cordoba, Argentina is due to become the second X-Class manufacturing location in 2019. It will supply Brazil and Argentina.

    Significantly, Mercedes-Benz is not intending to offer the X-Class across North America. That decision was undoubtedly determined by the 'chicken tax', a punitive and protectionist import tariff imposed by the United States on light trucks.

    In Germany, the X-Class costs from €37,294 (including 19% VAT). UK prices have yet to be announced.

    Mercedes-Benz X-Class Progressive (2018) Interior 1Mercedes-Benz X-Class Progressive (2018) Interior 2

    Mercedes-Benz X-Class Progressive (2018) Rear SideMercedes-Benz X-Class Progressive (2018) Side

    Mercedes-Benz X-Class Power (2018) Front Side 1Mercedes-Benz X-Class Power (2018) Rear Side

    Mercedes-Benz X-Class Power (2018) DashboardMercedes-Benz X-Class Power (2018) Front Side 2

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    Volkswagen's decision to offer Transporter buyers an alternative to diesel power is a real sign of the times.

    Two new four-cylinder, turbocharged TSI petrol engines – which both have a displacement of 2.0 litres – are available now for all variants including the California camper van and Caravelle Executive.

    Volkswagen Transporter Highline Panel Van (2017) Front Side

    They're differentiated by their outputs and transmissions. The first version, with 148 bhp (110 kW / 150 PS) and 280 Nm (206 lb/ft) of peak torque, comes mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive.

    If those figures don't seem high enough, then the second option boasts 201 bhp (150 kW / 204 PS) and 350 Nm (258 lb/ft). It's combined with a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission and a choice of either front-wheel drive or 4Motion all-wheel drive.

    Increasing threats of emissions taxes and city-centre diesel bans mean the petrol models could appeal particularly to urban operators.

    Transporter TSI list prices (they start from £22,625 excluding VAT) are cheaper than their diesel equivalents, so low-mileage users are another target market. For them, a reduced initial outlay is going to more than offset the higher costs caused by petrol's inherently worse fuel economy.

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    An aluminium frame taken from the CRF450R and an engine swap head the extensive list of modifications applied to Honda's CRF250R MX2-class motocross bike for 2018.

    The new fuel-injected, four-stroke, single-cylinder motor still has a 249 cc displacement and output remains at 39.4 bhp (29.4 kW / 40.0 PS). However, thanks primarily to the adoption of double overhead camshafts and larger valves, the way in which that power is delivered has changed.

    Honda CRF250R (2018) Front Side

    Honda says that more grunt is now available higher up the rev range, plus the redline limit has been raised by 900 rpm. Consequently, acceleration is much stronger.

    As before, there's a choice of Standard, Smooth and Aggressive engine maps that can be selected via a handlebar-mounted button. An electric starter becomes a standard feature for 2018.

    Honda CRF250R (2018) Rear Side

    Wet weight with fuel is up from 105.6 kg (232.8 lbs) to 108.1 kg (238.3 lbs), but a slightly lower centre of gravity should benefit traction. Furthermore, a lighter extruded aluminium rear subframe helps to achieve better mass centralisation.

    The front suspension is different, too. While the previous model had a Showa SFF-TAC-Air set-up, the updated version is equipped with the same Showa 49 mm, steel-sprung, fully-adjustable, upside-down fork already used on the CRF450R. It's complemented by a Showa monoshock and Honda's Pro-Link system at the rear.

    A UK price for the 2018 CRF250R has yet to be disclosed.

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    Ahead of its first public appearance at next month's Frankfurt Motor Show, Suzuki has released some images of the new Swift Sport.

    Suzuki Swift Sport (2018) Front Side

    Identifying features include black alloy wheels, dual exhaust pipes and restyled bumpers. In other words, a fairly standard approach that struggles to improve the Swift's somewhat dumpy looks.

    Suzuki Swift Sport (2018) Dashboard

    Unfortunately, Suzuki has yet to publish any technical specifications, so for now at least the car's performance potential remains a mystery.

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