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  • 10/08/17--12:18: Top 10: UK car sales Q3 2017
  • As it's one of two plate-change months, September's figures are often used to gauge the state of the UK new car market. So, because last month's 426,170 registrations were 59,902 fewer than 2016's figure, should the industry begin to panic?

    Well no, not really, since the 2017 total needs to be viewed in context. A lot of demand shifted into the first quarter to avoid April's revised Vehicle Excise Duty rates, for example. Indeed, year-to-date registrations are down by only 84,084 units, which represents a meagre 3.9% reduction.

    Furthermore, the sales volumes seen in both September 2015 and September 2016 were abnormally high. Compared to 2005, 2006 and 2007 (i.e. before the global financial crisis) or 2014, the September 2017 number actually looks very similar.

    An alternative explanation is provided by Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. He said, “Business and political uncertainty is reducing buyer confidence, with consumers and businesses more likely to delay big ticket purchases.

    “The confusion surrounding air quality plans has not helped, but consumers should be reassured that all the new diesel and petrol models on the market will not face any bans or additional charges.”

    Whether or not concerns about future emissions legislation are affecting overall registrations is debatable. However, the shift in fuel preferences is clearly continuing.

    Cumulative UK Car Registrations Q3 2017 - By Fuel Type
    Fuel 2017 2016 Change Change %
    Diesel 883,574 1,023,767 -140,193 -13.7%
    Petrol 1,088,712 1,056,785 +31,927 +3.0%
    Alternative 94,125 69,943 +24,182 +34.6%
    Total 2,066,411 2,150,495 -84,084 -3.9%

    The top ten list stays virtually unchanged. In fact, apart from the Volkswagen Polo and Mercedes-Benz C-Class swapping places, the order is identical to the second quarter's league table.

    Ford Focus RS with Ford Performance Option Pack (2017) Front Side
    The Ford Focus still occupies the new car registrations
    runner-up position (but the Volkswagen Golf is close behind).

    Top 10: Cumulative UK Car Registrations Q3 2017 - By Model
    Position Model Registrations Market Share
    1 Ford Fiesta 75,814 3.7%
    2 Ford Focus 57,526 2.8%
    3 Volkswagen Golf 57,018 2.8%
    4 Nissan Qashqai 53,197 2.6%
    5 Vauxhall Corsa 46,600 2.3%
    6 Vauxhall Astra 41,250 2.0%
    7 Volkswagen Polo 40,455 2.0%
    8 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 39,055 1.9%
    9 Mini Hatch 36,784 1.8%
    10 Mercedes-Benz A-Class 34,547 1.7%

    Related posts:
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    Top 10: UK car sales Q1 2017
    Top 10: UK car sales 2016 - winners and losers

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    Launched in 1969, the Mini 1275 GT was essentially a slower but cheaper alternative to the contemporary Cooper S. In a partly similar vein, the new 1499 GT is a slower but dearer alternative to the current Cooper Hatch.

    This UK-exclusive special edition features a stiffer suspension set-up and 1275 GT-inspired body-side graphics. Available only in three-door guise, there's a choice of either Midnight Black or Pepper White paintwork.

    Mini 1499 GT 3-Door Hatch (2018) Front Side

    An enhanced specification also includes the John Cooper Works Sport Pack. It comprises a rear spoiler, side skirts, restyled bumpers, dark-tint windows, white indicator lenses and black 'Track Spoke' 17” alloy wheels.

    Inside, the theme continues thanks to JCW Sports seats, Dinamica and leather upholstery, Piano Black cabin trim pieces, an anthracite headlining and a multi-function JCW steering wheel.

    Mini 1499 GT 3-Door Hatch (2018) Dashboard

    The 1499 GT is the first Mini to be powered by a detuned version of the familiar 1.5 litre, three-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine. Like the outgoing 1.2 litre three-cylinder unit, output is rated at a fairly modest 101 bhp (75 kW / 102 PS).

    Consequently, the car looks a lot quicker than it actually is. The 0-60 mph (96 km/h) sprint takes 10.1 seconds, for example, so any drivers expecting high performance will be disappointed.

    Mini 1499 GT 3-Door Hatch (2018) Rear Side

    Other potential customers might be put off by a relatively steep on-the-road price of £16,990. By comparison, the three-door 134 bhp (100 kW / 136 PS) Cooper costs £790 less.

    Exclusivity should be a plus point for the 1499 GT though, because just 1,499 examples are going to be built. Mini dealers are accepting orders now.

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    Vauxhall's Corsavan Limited Edition Nav certainly has a purposeful appearance.

    As well as a set of black 16” alloy wheels, this new addition to the line-up also comes with black body stripes, a 'Carbon Flash' grille bar and black door mirror caps. Furthermore, customers can order a unique paint shade called Persian Blue.

    Vauxhall Corsavan Limited Edition Nav (2017) Front Side

    However, there haven't been any mechanical upgrades, so don't expect any handling or performance improvements compared to a regular Corsavan.

    Inside, the highlight is a standard-fit Navi 4.0 IntelliLink infotainment system which is compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Controlled via a 7” colour touchscreen, it features satellite navigation with European maps, Eco Routing, Bluetooth, A2DP audio streaming and a DAB radio.

    Available to buy now, Corsavan Limited Edition Nav prices start at £15,515 excluding VAT.

    Vauxhall Corsavan Limited Edition Nav (2017) DashboardVauxhall Corsavan Limited Edition Nav (2017) Rear Side

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    A redesigned front grille, new LED rear light clusters and a modified rear bumper identify the 2018 Lexus CT 200h.

    Inside, the emphasis has been on improving cabin ambiance, plus there's a wider choice of upholsteries and colour schemes.

    Lexus CT 200h (2018) Front Side

    As well as making those fairly minor cosmetic revisions, Lexus has taken the opportunity to simplify the line-up.

    Trim grade On-the-road price
    SE £23,495
    SE Plus Pack £24,995
    Luxury £25,995
    F Sport £26,995
    F Sport Premier Pack £31,245
    Premier £30,495

    In terms of specification changes, the big news is that all variants (except the entry-level SE) now come with Lexus Safety System+ as standard. This technology suite includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert with lane keep assist, automatic high beam, road sign assist and pre-collision preparation.

    Lexus CT 200h (2018) InteriorLexus CT 200h (2018) Rear Side

    The petrol-electric hybrid powertrain remains unaltered, though. As before, it comprises a 1.8 litre four-cylinder Atkinson Cycle combustion engine, an electric motor / generator and a 6.5 Ah nickel-metal hydride battery pack.

    Total system output is rated at 134 bhp (100 kW / 136 PS), which delivers a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of 10.3 seconds. Officially, a CT 200h can achieve 74.3 mpg (3.8 l/100km) on the combined cycle while emitting 88 g/km of CO2.

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    One of the more outlandish exhibits at the upcoming 2017 Tokyo Motor Show will be the Yamaha Motoroid.

    This concept bike, which appears to be electric powered, is claimed to use artificial intelligence. Exactly what that means is unclear, but the Motoroid can apparently recognise its owner and interact “in other capacities like a living creature”.

    Yamaha Motoroid Concept (2017) Front Side

    As a result, riders should experience something called 'Kando'. In Japanese, the term conveys the “simultaneous feelings of deep satisfaction and intense excitement that we experience when we encounter something of exceptional value”.

    Related post:
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    Value-for-money devotees who are thinking of buying a compact SUV should be very interested in the new CR-V S Plus.

    It's based on the existing S Navi trim grade, so the standard specification already includes 17” alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, cruise control and the City Brake Active safety device. As the Navi suffix suggests, a Honda Connect infotainment system with Garmin navigation, a DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity is fitted too.

    For the S Plus, Honda has added a few extra items to that list. They comprise body-coloured front and rear aero bumpers, a tailgate spoiler, side running boards and a reversing camera. Furthermore, there's a choice of Crystal Black Pearl, Polished Metal Metallic, Passion Red Pearl or White Orchid Pearl paintwork.

    Honda CR-V S Plus (2017) Front Side

    Customers can order either a 153 bhp (114 kW / 155 PS) 2.0 litre i-VTEC petrol engine or a 118 bhp (88 kW / 120 PS) 1.6 litre i-DTEC diesel unit. Both options come with a six-speed manual gearbox and two-wheel drive.

    If the additional equipment isn't incentive enough, then keen pricing might be. Indeed, the S Plus variants are actually cheaper than their corresponding S Navi models.

    Trim grade S Navi S Plus
    Petrol £24,600 £23,500
    Diesel £24,800 £24,500

    Deliveries of the Honda CR-V S Plus are due to start at the beginning of November.

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    Artificial Intelligence, which seems to be the motor industry's latest obsession, is a key feature of the new e-Evolution Concept.

    Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept (2017) Side

    The system developed by Mitsubishi is primarily intended to enhance a driver's abilities. Accordingly, various sensors monitor road conditions and human inputs, then the AI provides control assistance as required. In addition, there's a coaching function that delivers (hopefully diplomatically) driving skills training.

    Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept (2017) Front Side

    Similarly cutting-edge is the all-electric, four-wheel drive powertrain. This consists of a single motor for the front axle, plus two motors and an electronically-controlled torque-vectoring Active Yaw Control unit for the rear axle.

    The Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept is due to make its public début at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month.

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    For this year's SEMA show, Hyundai has commissioned Blood Type Racing to build the one-off BTR Edition Elantra Sport Concept.

    Vivid orange paintwork, Diode Dynamics headlights, an Aerotek body kit and a huge APR GTC-200 GT rear wing give the car a purposeful appearance. Also adding to the looks are black SSR GTX01 19” wheels shod with Toyo T1 Sport tyres, which sit beneath subtle arch extensions.

    Hyundai BTR Edition Elantra Sport Concept (2017) Front Side

    The engine has received attention too, although output and performance figures haven't been released by Hyundai. While the undoubted highlight is Devil's Own water / methanol injection, other modifications include a Torcon CAI air intake, a recalibrated ECU and a Pierce Motorsports exhaust.

    Various chassis upgrades complete the transformation. As well as HSD coilover suspension, Pierce Motorsports anti-roll bars and braces are fitted to improve the handling. Last but certainly not least, stopping the BTR Edition is taken care of by a Fella Big Brake Kit.

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    Hydrogen fuel cells should be particularly suited to larger electric vehicles, because they eliminate the need for a huge array of heavy rechargeable batteries. That's the approach taken by Toyota for the new Sora bus concept.

    Its electricity is generated by a pair of solid polymer electrolyte fuel cell stacks, which are fed by ten high-pressure tanks that together hold 600 litres of hydrogen.

    Toyota Sora Concept (2017) Front Side

    Final drive is via two AC synchronous electric motors. They each deliver 152 bhp (113 kW / 154 PS), with 335 Nm (247 lb/ft) of torque. Any excess energy is stored in a nickel-metal hydride battery.

    As fuel cells potentially can be used as mobile power stations, an external supply system is also fitted. This is able to provide up to 235 kWh in emergency situations.

    An overall length of 10.5 metres (34’ 6”) allows the Sora to carry 22 seated and 56 standing passengers. Toyota is planning to launch a production version in Japan next year, but build volume will be limited to around 100 examples.

    Toyota Sora Concept (2017) InteriorToyota Sora Concept (2017) Rear Side

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    Although hydrogen fuel cells are arguably most appropriate for larger vehicles such as the Sora bus, Toyota hasn't given up on developing the technology for passenger cars.

    The latest result of that work is the strangely-named Fine-Comfort Ride concept. Scheduled to appear at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, it offers an inkling of what a future HFC-equipped premium saloon might look like.

    Toyota Fine-Comfort Ride Concept (2017) Front Side

    Packaging is one aspect that clearly benefits. In particular, using in-wheel electric drive motors has permitted a spacious cabin that can accommodate up to six people. Sliding rear doors and a lack of B-pillars should allow easy access, too.

    While specification details are sparse, Toyota reckons that the Fine-Comfort Ride would have a cruising range of more than 600 miles (approximately 965 kilometres).

    Toyota Fine-Comfort Ride Concept (2017) DashboardToyota Fine-Comfort Ride Concept (2017) Side

    Toyota Fine-Comfort Ride Concept (2017) Rear SideToyota Fine-Comfort Ride Concept (2017) Interior

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    Chevrolet is hoping to expand the appeal of its 2018 Colorado ZR2 pick-up by introducing the Midnight Edition and Dusk Edition.

    The ZR2 Midnight Edition, which is only being offered with black paintwork, gains several black-finish embellishments. They comprise a set of 17” five-spoke wheels, bespoke 'bowtie' badges and a sport bar with off-road LED lights attached.

    Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Midnight Edition Crew Cab (2018 North American Spec) Front Side

    Despite having a different name, the ZR2 Dusk Edition's enhanced specification is identical. Admittedly, customers can order this version in any of the usual ZR2 body colours, but that's the sole difference versus the ZR2 Midnight Edition.

    Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Dusk Edition Extended Cab (2018 North American Spec) Front Side

    In the United States, opting for either of the new upgrade packages will cost an additional $3,425. Both are going to be on display at the upcoming SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

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    Images © General Motors.

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    Next year's Pikes Peak International Hill Climb – which will take place on the 24th of June – is going to have a special Volkswagen on its entry list.

    While the prototype's name and full technical details have yet to be revealed, a pure-electric powertrain and all-wheel drive are already confirmed.

    Volkswagen PPIHC Electric Prototype 2018 Front

    This project has two primary objectives for Volkswagen.

    Firstly, PPIHC participation should help the brand to become known as a leading electric vehicle manufacturer (don't mention dieselgate...). Secondly, the new car has to cover the 12.42 miles (19.99 kilometres) course in less than 8 minutes 57.118 seconds in order to beat the current class record.

    According to Dr Frank Welsch, who's the Volkswagen board member with responsibility for Development, “The Pikes Peak hill climb is one of the world's most renowned car races. It poses an enormous challenge and is therefore excellently suited to proving the capabilities of upcoming technologies.

    “Our electric race car will be equipped with innovative battery and drive technology. The extreme stress test on Pikes Peak will give us important findings that will benefit future development, and it will showcase our products and their technologies.”

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    Only thirty examples of the Elise Cup 260 are going to be built. However, with a price tag of £59,500, there probably won't be long queues of prospective customers at Lotus dealers.

    For anybody willing and able to spend such an exorbitant amount on an Elise, the reward is an extreme motorsport-inspired car that's based on the current Elise Cup 250.

    One of the more obvious changes is an advanced aerodynamics package. Consisting of a redesigned front splitter, unique vents above the front wheels and a huge rear wing, it's claimed to generate up to 180 kg (396 lbs) of downforce.

    Lotus Elise Cup 260 (2017) Front Side

    Also fitted are numerous carbon fibre components, including the front access panel, engine cover, roll hoop cover and side sill covers. Combined with special two-piece brake discs and a polycarbonate rear window, the result is a serious diet. Indeed, compared to a regular Cup 250, the Cup 260's kerb weight has dropped from 931 kg (2,052 lbs) to just 895 kg (1,973 lbs).

    The 1.8 litre, four-cylinder, supercharged engine has received attention too. Thanks to a modified induction system and revised calibration, output is up to 246 bhp (183 kW / 250 PS) with 265 Nm (195 lb/ft) of peak torque.

    Although those figures indicate that 'Cup 260' is a misnomer, the Cup 250's 0-62 mph time of 4.3 seconds is reduced slightly to 4.2 seconds. Conversely, the achievable top speed actually decreases from 154 mph (248 km/h) to 151 mph (243 km/h), probably because of the extra drag caused by the enlarged rear aerofoil.

    Wider Yokohama Advan Neova AD08R tyres and fully-adjustable Nitron dampers complete the list of Cup 260 upgrades.

    Lotus Elise Cup 260 (2017) InteriorLotus Elise Cup 260 (2017) Rear Side

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    Ford has introduced the Performance Pack Level 2 option, which is available to order now for the 2018 Mustang GT.

    It's recognisable by a prominent front splitter, a comparatively understated rear spoiler and unique 19” 'Dark Tarnish' ten-spoke wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.

    Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2 (2018) Side

    Not all of the changes are immediately obvious, though. For instance, a revised suspension set-up benefits from specially-tuned MagneRide dampers, stiffer springs and more rigid anti-roll bars. A lower ride height and sharper handling are the results.

    Performance Pack Level 2 incorporates all of the Level 1 components too. They include a Torsen rear differential with a 3.73 axle ratio, bigger front brake discs with Brembo six-piston calipers, a larger radiator and a strut tower brace. In addition, Level 1 also involves recalibrating the stability control, electric power steering and anti-lock braking systems.

    Deliveries are due to begin in North America next spring, but only cars equipped with a manual transmission can have the Performance Pack Level 2 fitted.

    Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2 (2018) DashboardFord Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2 (2018) Front Side

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    Choosing an original customisation theme for a vehicle that's going to be displayed at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas can't be easy. However, Chevrolet might have come up with one for the Traverse SUP.

    Its specification includes a Thule Stand Up Paddleboard Carrier plus a Riviera Paddlesurf paddleboard, which explains the SUP suffix. Unique and eye-catching 'Blue Wave' graphics continue the aquatic vibe.

    Chevrolet Traverse SUP Concept (2018) Front SideChevrolet Traverse SUP Concept (2018) Rear Side

    Some visual contrast is provided by the black finishes used on the 20” alloy wheels, fog light bezels and front grille. In addition, the wheel arch lips and lower body elements are dark grey.

    Disappointingly, the interior has been left virtually standard. Compared to a regular 2018 Traverse, the only extra items fitted inside the SUP are all-weather floor liners, a cargo liner, embroidered headrests and illuminated front-door sill plates.

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    Images © General Motors.

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    Although it carries a 'concept' tag, the Nissan Leaf Nismo appears to be practically ready for production.

    As befits a Nismo model, a more aggressive look is provided by revised bumpers, side skirt extensions and larger alloy wheels. While they enhance the car's image, such modifications also serve other purposes.

    Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept (2018) Front Side

    For instance, Nissan reckons that the bodywork changes reduce aerodynamic lift (without adversely affecting the Leaf's drag coefficient), plus a tyre upgrade results in more mechanical grip. Sportier suspension settings complement those improvements.

    However, details about performance are fairly vague. A “custom-tuned computer” is claimed to deliver better acceleration, but the rest of the pure-electric powertrain seems to have been left as standard.

    Nissan is currently exhibiting the Leaf Nismo Concept at the Tokyo Motor Show.

    Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept (2018) InteriorNissan Leaf Nismo Concept (2018) Rear Side

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    Elegant styling and neat proportions define the Sports EV Concept, which has appeared in public for the first time at the Tokyo Motor Show.

    Honda Sports EV Concept (2017) Side

    According to Honda, it combines electric vehicle performance with artificial intelligence, but the car's technical specifications remain a mystery. Likewise, indicative performance and range figures haven't been provided.

    Honda Sports EV Concept (2017) Rear SideHonda Sports EV Concept (2017) Front Side

    There's no word either on the prospect of a production version. The chances of one arriving in the next few years are arguably very high, though.

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    One of Tamiya's most enduring kits is the Toyota Bruiser. Introduced in 1985, then updated in 2012, this 1/10 scale radio-controlled model is still available to buy today.

    In recognition of that popularity, Toyota has created a unique full-size tribute based on the current Hilux Extra Cab pick-up. The transformation starts with an Arctic Trucks AT35 conversion, which includes larger wheels and tyres, arch extensions, a modified suspension set-up and revised differential ratios.

    Toyota Hilux Bruiser (2017) Front Side

    Thick tubular stainless steel bumper bars and sill-mounted rock sliders are also fitted to the Hilux Bruiser, while a two-dimensional print of louvres on the cab's rear window creates a clever optical illusion.

    Replication of the truck's famous livery has been achieved by applying decals and stripes over a metallic blue vinyl wrap. A dummy on-off switch in the load bed, a prominent antenna and some fake bonnet clips are among the whimsical additions that complete the changes.

    Toyota Hilux Bruiser (2017) Rear SideToyota Hilux Bruiser (2017) Rear Window

    Toyota Hilux Bruiser (2017) Side 1Toyota Hilux Bruiser (2017) Side 2

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    Honda has unveiled the all-new 2018 GL1800 Gold Wing, which is up to 48 kg (105 lbs) lighter than its predecessor. Such a dramatic diet is intended to broaden the bike's appeal.

    Measures to reduce this flagship tourer's bulk started with the revised die-cast aluminium twin-beam frame. Nevertheless, a kerb weight of at least 365 kg (804 lbs) could still be an intimidating prospect for some people, even with a seat height of just 745 mm (29.3”).

    Honda GL1800 Gold Wing (2018) Front Side

    As before, power is provided by a six-cylinder engine. However, the latest 1,833 cc version is more compact than before, while enhancements include the adoption of four valves per cylinder and throttle-by-wire technology. Output and peak torque are rated at 124 bhp (93 kW / 126 PS) and 170 Nm (125 lb/ft) respectively.

    On regular models, a six-speed manual gearbox is fitted. Alternatively, the Tour variant – recognisable by its capacious top box – can be ordered with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission instead. Both options have a leg-saving reversing facility.

    Honda GL1800 Gold Wing Tour (2018) SideHonda GL1800 Gold Wing Tour (2018) Top

    Idling Stop (DCT versions only), Honda Selectable Torque Control and Hill Start Assist are among the standard rider aids, plus there's now a choice of Tour, Sport, Econ or Rain riding modes. Damping and rear spring pre-load are electrically adjustable.

    Unsurprisingly, the Gold Wing boasts plenty of convenience features. A powered windscreen (notably smaller than previously), cruise control, satellite navigation, a 7” TFT infotainment display, Apple CarPlay (but oddly not Android Auto), Bluetooth connectivity and a smart key all appear on the extensive list.

    Honda GL1800 Gold Wing Tour (2018) DashboardHonda GL1800 Gold Wing (2018) Rear Side

    In the UK, the Gold Wing and Gold Wing Tour are only going to be available with Candy Argent Red paintwork. Buyers of the Gold Wing Tour DCT will get to specify either Darkness Black or Candy Argent Red / Darkness Black two-tone finishes.

    Honda has yet to announce prices.

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    Acura and Arizona-based ScienceofSpeed have teamed up to produce a modified NSX for this year's SEMA show in Las Vegas.

    Named Dream Project, it gains a carbon fibre aero kit consisting of front strakes, door sill panels, a rear diffuser and a prominent spoiler. Although those components certainly enhance the car's appearance, their primary purpose is to increase downforce.

    Acura NSX Dream Project (2017) Front Side

    Extra mechanical grip is provided by a set of Advan GT five-spoke forged wheels that are shod with Pirelli Trofeo R tyres. Carbon ceramic brakes and gold powder-coated Brembo calipers sit behind the rims.

    Lowered suspension also helps to deliver a more dynamic driving experience. However, such a set-up could lead to splitter damage when negotiating speed bumps or other steep slopes, so an automatic iLIFT system is fitted. When sensors detect an obstacle, this device pneumatically raises the NSX's nose by a couple of inches to avoid any scrapes.

    The 3.5 litre V6 twin-turbo engine has received attention too. Thanks to the addition of liquid-injected intercooling, high-flow downpipes and a lighter stainless steel exhaust, power has risen to 610 bhp (454 kW / 618 PS) and peak torque becomes 687 Nm (507 lb/ft).

    On the outside, Nouvelle Blue paintwork and a contrasting gloss black roof complete the conversion. The interior meanwhile features matching part-leather upholstery, Recaro Pole Position seats and a gaugeART OLED multi-function display.

    Acura NSX Dream Project (2017) InteriorAcura NSX Dream Project (2017) Rear Side

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