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    A sporty upgrade package for the Vito makes a lot of sense. After all, it’s the type of van that’s often driven by people who seem to be in a hurry.

    Although there are no engine modifications, the new Vito Sport Line specification does include a stiffer suspension set-up and either 18” or 19” alloy wheels.

    Mercedes-Benz Vito Crew Van Sport Line (2018) Front

    A suitably purposeful look is provided by the addition of side skirts, graphics and (where applicable) rear privacy glass. Furthermore, a chrome-plated front grille is fitted and the bumpers are body-coloured.

    There’s chrome trim inside too, along with black artificial leather upholstery and velour floor mats.

    Mercedes-Benz Vito Crew Van Sport Line (2018) Front Side

    The Sport Line option will be available across Europe for all Vito body styles. UK pricing has yet to be announced, but in Germany the extra cost varies between €2,500 and €4,100 (roughly £2,200 and £3,600 at current exchange rates).

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    Ahead of a public début at next month’s Geneva Motor Show, Hyundai has released some images of its new Santa Fe.

    This mid-size SUV – which has grown in length by 70 mm (3”) to 4,770 mm (15’ 8”) – is claimed to offer class-leading interior space. Hyundai is also saying that the cabin is a “premium quality” environment.

    Hyundai Santa Fe (2019) Dashboard

    Outside, the front end is undoubtedly the fourth-generation Santa Fe’s most appealing aspect. Slim headlights, a bold chrome horizontal element and a ‘cascading’ grille combine to give a striking appearance while visually widening the vehicle’s stance.

    Hyundai Santa Fe (2019) Front Side

    Full specifications have yet to be disclosed, but numerous safety features will be available. They include Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (with automatic braking) and Safety Exit Assist (with automatic door locking).

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  • 02/06/18--15:10: 2018 Ford Ka+ revealed
  • Over three model generations, the Ford Ka has grown in size, acquired two extra doors, gained a ‘+’ suffix and become less interesting. Indeed, the current version (which was designed in Brazil and is built in India) essentially plays a ‘budget Fiesta’ role.

    However, the car’s image might be boosted by a just-announced mid-life refresh, especially as a crossover-inspired Active variant is being added to the range.

    Ford Ka+ Active (2018) Front Side

    An increased ride height, unique bumpers, 15” alloy wheels, arch protectors and roof rails identify the Ka+ Active. Although all-wheel drive isn’t fitted, there is a bespoke chassis set-up. This comprises a thicker front anti-roll bar, a wider track, revised power-assisted steering, Active Rollover Prevention and recalibrated dampers with hydraulic rebound stoppers.

    Ford has also taken the opportunity to enhance available equipment levels across all trim grades. Now included on the list are automatic lights and wipers, heated front seats, climate control and the Sync 3 touchscreen-controlled infotainment system.

    Ford Ka+ Active (2018) InteriorFord Ka+ Active (2018) Side

    Other major changes concern the powertrains. Replacing the old 1.2 litre four-cylinder Duratec petrol engine is a 1.2 litre three-cylinder Ti-VCT motor that can be specified with either 69 bhp (51 kW / 70 PS) or 83 bhp (62 kW / 85 PS).

    What’s more, a diesel alternative is being offered for the first time (a seemingly bizarre decision when buyers are deserting the fuel in their droves). The 93 bhp (69 kW / 95 PS) 1.5 litre TDCi unit is aimed predominantly at higher-mileage drivers.

    Ford Ka+ Ultimate (2018) Dashboard

    All three options come with a stop-start device and a five-speed manual transmission.

    Sales of the updated Ka+ are due to begin across Europe later this year. Prices in the UK will start at £10,550.

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    Mercedes-Benz Vans has unveiled the third-generation Sprinter. While this all-new model looks very similar to its predecessor, beneath the skin there are some significant changes.

    Here are ten things to know about the 2019 Sprinter:

    1. There’s a vast number of possible configurations

    Thanks to an almost bewildering array of body styles, body lengths, roof heights, wheelbases, powertrains, payloads and seating arrangements, customers have to decipher more than 1,700 different specification combinations.

    Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (2019) Range

    2. Front-wheel drive is available for the first time

    As before, there will be rear- and all-wheel drive versions of the Sprinter. For those platforms, gross vehicle weights of up to 5.5 tonnes (12,125 lbs) are possible and maximum towing capacity is 3.5 tonnes (7,716 lbs).

    Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Panel Van (2019) Front Side

    However, front-wheel drive is often preferable for certain applications, hence Mercedes-Benz’s decision to offer it as well. Key advantages are an extra 50 kg (110 lbs) of payload (compared to the equivalent rear-wheel drive van), a floor that’s lower by 80 mm (3.1”) and increased cargo space. GVWs are 3.0, 3.5 or 4.1 tonnes (6,614, 7,716 or 9,039 lbs).

    3. The camper van market is being seriously targeted

    Currently, the Fiat Ducato is the most popular basis for large camper van conversions and coachbuilt motorhomes. Mercedes-Benz reckons the aforementioned front-wheel drive Sprinter is in a strong position to challenge the Italian’s dominance in this sector.

    One key selling point is an interface module that digitally integrates vehicle and habitation functions, resulting in a more convenient experience. For example, heating and hot water settings could be adjusted via the dashboard infotainment screen or a dedicated app, rather than a separate dedicated control panel.

    Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (2019) Dashboard

    Other alterations enhance the Sprinter’s suitability, too. For instance, access rearwards from the cab is now much better because an electric handbrake is fitted, so a traditional lever between the seats isn’t required. A further innovation is Hibernation Mode, which minimises current draw from the battery during lay-up periods.

    4. A V6 diesel engine is unique

    Unlike any competitor vans, the Sprinter can be powered by a six-cylinder common-rail diesel engine. Although its 187 bhp (140 kW / 190 PS) might not seem very impressive, the real headline figure is 440 Nm (325 lb/ft) of peak torque that arrives between 1,600 and 2,600 rpm.

    5. Four-cylinder diesel engines will account for most sales

    Opting for rear- or all-wheel drive means the smaller 2.1 litre unit comes with 112 bhp (84 kW / 114 PS), 141 bhp (105 kW / 143 PS) or 160 bhp (120 kW / 163 PS). If a manual gearbox doesn’t appeal, then a 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission is the alternative.

    Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Chassis Cab (2019) Side

    Front-wheel drive customers get to pick an output of either 112 bhp or 141 bhp, although anybody purchasing a camper van or motorhome can upgrade to 174 bhp (130 kW / 177 PS) instead. The transmission line-up comprises a six-speed manual and a nine-speed automatic.

    As would be expected, a gasoline motor (of unknown capacity at this stage) is being readied for the USA and Canada. It’ll be paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission.

    6. A pure-electric Sprinter is coming

    Restrictions on diesel-fuelled vehicles in city centres are becoming increasingly punitive. Recognising the risks to urban deliveries, Mercedes-Benz has confirmed that the electric-powered eSprinter is going to join the range sometime during 2019. Important details such as range and recharge times have yet to be disclosed, though.

    Mercedes-Benz eSprinter Panel Van (2019) Front SideMercedes-Benz eSprinter Panel Van (2019) Rear Side

    7. Connectivity should prove useful to operators

    Mercedes PRO is a web-based fleet management tool consisting of eight modules. They cover aspects such as van usage, maintenance scheduling, dynamic route guidance, messaging and driver hours logging.

    Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Panel Van (2019) Interior

    In-cab access to Mercedes PRO is via the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) multimedia system. It can be interfaced using steering wheel buttons, voice commands or a 10.25” HD touchscreen.

    8. More driver aids have been introduced

    Some of the optional features devised for the Sprinter provide a degree of autonomy. Active Brake Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist are fairly self-explanatory, while Distronic is radar-based adaptive cruise control that maintains a safe following distance.

    Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Tourer (2019) Front Side

    Among the other assistance gadgets are Attention Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Traffic Sign Assist and a Parking Package with 360° camera coverage.

    9. Production is due to take place in several global locations

    In Germany, Sprinter manufacturing starts next month at the Düsseldorf and Ludwigsfelde plants. South American markets are to be supplied by the González Catán factory in Argentina.

    Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Panel Van (2019) Rear Side

    For North America, the North Charleston site in South Carolina has been promoted from kit assembly to full production facility. Its first vans will be built during the second half of this year.

    10. Orders are being accepted now

    Market launches across Europe are scheduled to begin this June.

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    Previously, the Raptor nameplate appeared only on the full-size F-150 pick-up sold across North America. Now that situation’s changing thanks to the introduction of the mid-size Ranger Raptor.

    The new truck, which will initially be built in Thailand exclusively for the Asia Pacific region, combines aggressive looks with enhanced off-road abilities.

    Ford Ranger Raptor Double Cab (2019) Front

    Key features include a stronger chassis engineered by Ford Performance to accommodate a unique suspension set-up. Among the upgrades are Fox Racing Shox dampers that incorporate Position Sensitive Damping and Internal Bypass technologies. Also fitted are a Watt’s linkage arrangement and coilovers for the solid rear axle.

    Consequently, ground clearance rises to 283 mm (11.1”) and the track measurement widens to 1,710 mm (67.3”). The crucial approach, ramp-over and departure angles meanwhile have been increased to 24.0°, 32.5° and 24.0° respectively.

    Ford Ranger Raptor Double Cab (2019) Front SideFord Ranger Raptor Double Cab (2019) Dashboard

    Driving modes are selected via the Terrain Management System. ‘Normal’ and ‘Sport’ cover on-road use, then for other surfaces there are ‘Grass / Gravel / Snow’, ‘Mud / Sand’, ‘Rock’ and ‘Baja’ settings.

    Of course, such electronic trickery would be ineffective without decent mechanical grip, so the Ranger Raptor benefits from 17” wheels shod with specially-developed BF Goodrich 285/70 R17 tyres.

    Ford Ranger Raptor Double Cab (2019) InteriorFord Ranger Raptor Double Cab (2019) Rear Side

    The F-150 Raptor currently utilises a 3.5 litre EcoBoost turbocharged petrol V6 with 450 bhp (335 kW / 456 PS) and 691 Nm (510 lb/ft) of torque, but the Ranger’s engine follows a very different formula.

    It’s a 2.0 litre bi-turbo diesel four-cylinder unit that produces 210 bhp (157 kW / 213 PS) and 500 Nm (368 lb/ft). Nevertheless, one important component is common to the two vehicles: they both have a ten-speed automatic transmission.

    Although availability in Europe has yet to be confirmed, Ford surely isn’t going to ignore the opportunity to add a halo model to the Ranger line-up? A similar situation exists for the USA and Canada, however a Ranger Raptor sold there would undoubtedly require a gasoline motor.

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    Although the Tipo isn’t an unattractive car, it is rather nondescript. Perhaps in recognition of such an image problem, Fiat has launched the more eye-catching S-Design trim grade.

    Added visual interest is provided by 18” diamond-cut alloy wheels that are complemented by a black finish for the grille and door mirror caps. Bi-xenon headlights, body-colour door handles and rear privacy glass are part of the enhanced specification too.

    Fiat Tipo S-Design (2018) Side

    Interior upgrades include Techno leather and Airtex fabric upholstery. Also fitted is a touchscreen-controlled Uconnect infotainment system which is compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

    The only engine being offered is the 1.4 litre T-Jet turbocharged petrol unit. Mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, output is rated at 118 bhp (88 kW / 120 PS). Performance isn’t exactly breathtaking – the 0-62 mph (100 km/h) sprint takes almost ten seconds – but 47.1 mpg (6.0 l/100km) on the combined cycle is respectable.

    UK on-the-road prices for the Tipo S-Design hatchback start at £18,145, while the estate version costs from £19,145. Deliveries are due to begin at the end of this month.

    Fiat Tipo S-Design (2018) Front SideFiat Tipo S-Design (2018) Rear Side

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    A vertical-bar front grille, huge wheels, arch extensions and side-exit exhaust pipes mark out the all-new Mercedes-AMG G 63.

    Beneath its bonnet sits a 3,982 cc V8 petrol engine that’s fed by a pair of twin-scroll turbochargers. The headline figures are 577 bhp (430 kW / 585 PS) and 850 Nm (626 lb/ft) of peak torque, which are delivered via an AMG Speedshift TCT 9G nine-speed automatic transmission and a rear-biased AMG Performance 4Matic all-wheel drive system.

    Mercedes-AMG G 63 (2019) Front Side

    Despite a kerb weight of 2,485 kg (5,478 lbs) and questionable aerodynamics, the G 63 is certainly rapid. Acceleration from rest to 62 mph (100 km/h) takes just 4.5 seconds, for instance. Top speed meanwhile is electronically limited to 136 mph (220 km/h) (or 149 mph (240 km/h) if the optional AMG Driver’s Package is fitted).

    Most customers probably won’t regard efficiency as a top priority. Nevertheless, for the record, this high-performance G-Class achieves 21.4 mpg (13.2 l/100 km) on the combined cycle with CO2 emissions of 299 g/km. It’s worth pointing out that things would be much worse without AMG Cylinder Management, a device that automatically shuts down four cylinders when under partial throttle loads.

    The separate ladder chassis features independent double-wishbone suspension at the front and a five-link arrangement for the rigid rear axle. As well as coil springs, the specification also includes AMG Ride Control electronic adaptive damping and – for the first time – electromechanical speed-sensitive power steering.

    Driving modes are set via the AMG Dynamic Select tool. For on-road use, the list comprises ‘Slippery’, ‘Comfort’, ‘Sport’, ‘Sport+’ and ‘Individual’. When traversing rougher terrain, ‘Sand’, ‘Trail’ and ‘Rock’ can be applied instead.

    A UK price for the Mercedes-AMG G 63 has yet to be announced, but expect it to be a big number. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in June.

    Mercedes-AMG G 63 (2019) DashboardMercedes-AMG G 63 (2019) Rear Side

    Mercedes-AMG G 63 (2019) SideMercedes-AMG G 63 (2019) Interior

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    With production of the current-generation Focus RS due to end in April, a special run-out model has been announced. The Heritage Edition – which is available only in the UK – officially commemorates the Ford Escort’s 50th anniversary.

    Outside, unique Deep Orange paintwork contrasts with a black finish on the forged alloy wheels, door mirror caps and rear spoiler. Inside, there are Recaro front seats, part-leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel and carbon fibre trim pieces.

    Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition (2018) Front Side

    The technical specifications have been improved, too.

    A particular highlight is the Mountune FPM375 tuning package that comprises a high-flow induction kit, an uprated turbo recirculating valve and a recalibrated management system. As the name suggests, this lifts overboost power by 25 bhp (18 kW / 25 PS) to 370 bhp (275 kW / 375 PS). Peak torque meanwhile rises from 470 Nm (346 lb/ft) to 510 Nm (376 lb/ft).

    Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition (2018) Rear Side

    Another key upgrade is a Quaife mechanical limited-slip differential for the front axle. It works with the car’s all-wheel drive and Torque Vectoring Control to maximise traction by combating wheelspin.

    Just fifty examples of the Focus RS Heritage Edition are going to be built. Each is priced at £39,895.

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    To celebrate the company’s ninetieth year, DAF has introduced a special version of its XF tractor unit.

    DAF XF 90th Anniversary Edition (2018) Front

    Offered in Super Space Cab guise only, customers have a choice of Anniversary Black, Jamaica Blue or Rouge Flamme paintwork with contrasting graphics and grille inserts. Other distinguishing features include air deflectors, LED headlights, air horns, Alcoa alloy wheels and a handmade retro DAF badge.

    DAF XF 90th Anniversary Edition (2018) Badge Detail

    That same logo makes several more appearances inside the truck. Based on the Exclusive trim grade, leather covers the seats, door panels, armrests and steering wheel. A microwave, a refrigerator, climate control and a roof-mounted parking cooler also help create a comfortable working environment.

    DAF XF 90th Anniversary Edition (2018) Dashboard

    Just 250 individually-numbered examples of the XF 90th Anniversary Edition are being built. For the UK and Ireland they’re in FTG 6x2 specification, while those destined for continental Europe are FT 4x2 models. All are powered by the 12.9 litre, six-cylinder, 523 bhp (390 kW / 530 PS) PACCAR MX-13 engine.

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    To coincide with the launch of its all-new C-segment hatchback, Kia has wisely dropped the superfluous apostrophe from the car’s inherited name. So the third-generation model – which will be officially unveiled at next month’s Geneva International Motor Show – is called Ceed rather than Cee’d.

    The styling is “mature and athletic” according to Kia. ‘Unremarkable and inoffensive’ could equally describe the rather plain design.

    Kia Ceed Hatchback (2018) Front Side

    Inside, the cabin is claimed to be more ergonomic than before, plus soft-touch materials are used extensively to create a better ambience. A particularly noticeable element is the ‘floating’ infotainment touchscreen that dominates the slimmed-down dashboard.

    As expected, there’s a selection of petrol and diesel engines with outputs ranging from 98 bhp (73 kW / 100 PS) to 138 bhp (103 kW / 140 PS). While all are paired with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, a couple of them can be ordered with an optional seven-speed dual-clutch transmission instead.

    Given the Ceed’s likely audience, the presence of Drive Mode Select is perhaps surprising. This device offers a choice of ‘Normal’ and ‘Sport’ settings that adjust the throttle response and steering feel.

    Other available technologies include Smart Parking Assist, a heated windscreen, wireless phone charging, heated seats front and rear, Smart Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist and Forward Collision Warning with Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist.

    However, the most intriguing innovation is undoubtedly Lane Following Assist. A ‘level two’ autonomous driving ability allows the system to control steering, acceleration and braking inputs to stay within road markings and maintain a safe following distance. Additionally, Lane Following Assist can identify when other traffic lanes are making quicker progress and then decide whether or not to move into them.

    Like its predecessors, the latest Ceed is going to be manufactured in Slovakia. Deliveries in left-hand-drive European markets are due to begin in June, but on-sale dates for the UK and Ireland have yet to be confirmed.

    Kia Ceed Hatchback (2018) DashboardKia Ceed Hatchback (2018) Side

    Kia Ceed Hatchback (2018) Rear SideKia Ceed Hatchback (2018) Interior

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    Toyota has collaborated with Yorkshire firm Wellhouse Leisure to create the new Lerina camper. Like two other manufacturer-endorsed conversions – namely the Volkswagen California and Mercedes-Benz V-Class Marco Polo– it features a traditional side-kitchen layout.

    The Lerina is based on a medium-length Proace Comfort that measures 4.96 metres (16’ 3”) from bumper to bumper. Power is supplied by a 2.0 litre turbocharged diesel engine, which produces either 118 bhp (88 kW / 120 PS) with a six-speed manual gearbox or 177 bhp (132 kW / 180 PS) with an automatic transmission. Standard cab equipment includes cruise control, satellite navigation, Bluetooth, a DAB radio and air conditioning.

    Toyota Proace Lerina (2018) Front Side - Roof Up

    In the habitation area, there’s a rail-mounted bench that can usefully slide fore and aft. During the day the unit provides a pair of belted travel seats, then at night it folds flat to become a double bed. Two additional removable seats are on the options list if the vehicle is also going to function as a people carrier.

    Standing headroom when parked comes courtesy of an SCA elevating roof. Incidentally, in its lowered position the Lerina’s overall height is 1.98 metres (6’ 6”), so car park access shouldn’t be an issue. A second double bed is available for ‘upstairs’, but unfortunately this costs extra.

    Toyota Proace Lerina (2018) Interior - KitchenToyota Proace Lerina (2018) Interior - Bench Seat

    The rest of the specification holds few surprises. Swivelling front seats, a gas hob, a sink and a fridge are all present, plus a 2.2 kW heater is fitted to warm the interior. An electric hook-up keeps the dedicated leisure battery charged, although off-grid camping is possible too thanks to a 100 W solar panel.

    Production will begin soon and the intention is to offer the Lerina across Europe. In the UK, twelve Toyota dealers (as well as selected Wellhouse Leisure vendors) have been signed up already to accept customer orders.

    Toyota Proace Lerina (2018) Interior - Double BedToyota Proace Lerina (2018) Front Side - Roof Down

    Prices start at £42,000. By comparison, the equivalent California Ocean and Marco Polo models currently retail at £53,227 and £54,740 respectively.

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    With Vauxhall and Opel now owned by Groupe PSA, it’s unsurprising that the next-generation Combo van is essentially a rebadged version of the all-new Citroën Berlingo / Peugeot Partner.

    The first variant to be unveiled is the people-carrying Combo Life ‘leisure activity vehicle’. Based on the EMP2 platform (which already underpins numerous models such as the Peugeot 5008 and Vauxhall Grandland X), it’s going to be offered with a choice of 4.40 metre (14’ 5”) or 4.75 metre (15’ 7”) body lengths.

    Vauxhall Combo Life (2019) Front Side

    Both sizes feature two rear sliding doors and they can be specified with either five or seven seats. Luggage capacity varies between 597 litres and 2,693 litres.

    Despite the obvious commercial vehicle origins, an impressive equipment array has been developed for the Combo Life. Available technologies include Automatic Cruise Control, Forward Collision Alert with Automatic Emergency Braking, Driver Drowsiness Alert, a head-up display, Advanced Park Assist and Flank Guard (a low-speed collision detection system).

    Engine details have yet to be confirmed. However, a range of turbocharged petrol and diesel units is promised, along with five-speed manual, six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmissions.

    Combo Life production will take place in Vigo, Spain and Mangualde, Portugal. Deliveries are due to begin late this year.

    Opel Combo Life (2019) Rear SideOpel Combo Life (2019) Interior

    Vauxhall Combo Life (2019) DashboardOpel Combo Life (2019) Front Side

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    Renault will soon be offering its pure-electric Zoe hatchback with a better R110 motor.

    Compared to the existing R90 unit, power is up from 91 bhp (68 kW / 92 PS) to 107 bhp (80 kW / 108 PS). Peak torque meanwhile has been increased by a modest 5 Nm (3 lb/ft) to 225 Nm (165 lb/ft).

    Renault Zoe (2018) Front Side

    According to Renault, mid-range acceleration is the main beneficiary. The time needed to complete the 50-75 mph (80-120 km/h) increment is down by almost two seconds, for example. Acceleration from rest to 62 mph (100 km/h) takes 11.4 seconds and the car’s top speed is 83 mph (135 km/h).

    As before, energy is supplied by a 41 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Therefore, if the extra performance potential is exploited, then range is bound to suffer. Nevertheless, claimed real-world driving distances on a full charge are 186 miles (300 kilometres) in the summer and 124 miles (200 kilometres) in the winter.

    Renault Zoe (2018) Interior

    UK deliveries of the R110-equipped Zoe are due to begin in the summer. Renault has yet to confirm prices.

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    Alongside production versions of its all-new Rifter van-based MPV, Peugeot will display the rugged-looking Rifter 4x4 Concept at next month’s Geneva Motor Show.

    This unique edition has been engineered to cope with rough terrain. Accordingly, a Dangel part-time all-wheel drive system is fitted (a cost option for the showroom model, incidentally), the ride height is 80 mm (3.1”) higher and the 16” wheels are shod with BF Goodrich off-road tyres.

    Peugeot Rifter 4x4 Concept (2018) Front Side 1

    Two other features that add to the adventure vibe are found atop the vehicle. At the front there’s a 300W light strip containing 100 LEDs, while the roof bars support an Autohome Overland folding tent.

    Another useful piece of equipment is a Peugeot eM02 FS Powertube, an electric mountain bike which is carried on a towball-mounted rack. Not having a pair of them seems like an omission, though.

    Inside the Rifter, dark grey fabric and black alcantara upholstery incorporates bright yellow stitching to give some contrast. Brushed aluminium trim pieces on the centre console and door panels further help relieve an otherwise rather sombre ambience.

    Powering the 4x4 Concept is a 1.5 litre BlueHDi diesel engine. It delivers 128 bhp (95 kW / 130 PS) and 300 Nm (221 lb/ft) of peak torque via a six-speed manual transmission.

    Peugeot Rifter 4x4 Concept (2018) Rear Side 1Peugeot Rifter 4x4 Concept (2018) Front Side 2

    Peugeot Rifter 4x4 Concept (2018) DashboardPeugeot Rifter 4x4 Concept (2018) Rear Side 2

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    Colour schemes seemingly inspired by the Mercedes-AMG Formula One team’s livery, an illuminated three-pointed star on the grille, bi-xenon headlights, LED rear lights, roof-mounted air horns and Alcoa Dura-Bright alloy wheels with painted hubs identify the Actros1.

    This special version of the Actros tractor unit – which is being aimed primarily at owner-operators – comes in 6x2 guise with a GigaSpace cab.

    Mercedes-Benz Actros1 (2018) Front Side 1

    The standard equipment list includes leather upholstery, massage seats, a Premium Comfort mattress and an upgraded infotainment system. An electric sunroof, a microwave, a fridge and the Safety Pack are fitted too.

    There’s a choice of two powertrains. The 2553LS variant features a 12.8 litre six-cylinder OM471 engine that develops 523 bhp (390 kW / 530 PS), while the 2563LS alternative boasts 616 bhp (460 kW / 625 PS) thanks to a 15.6 litre six-cylinder OM473 motor.

    Sales are due to begin next month, but Actros1 production will be limited to just 100 examples.

    Mercedes-Benz Actros1 (2018) DashboardMercedes-Benz Actros1 (2018) Front Side 2

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  • 02/28/18--16:30: 2018 Nissan Terra first view
  • Nissan's recipe for the Terra is very simple: take the NP300 Navara pick-up, then replace its cargo area with five-door SUV bodywork.

    Nissan Terra (2018) Front Side

    Full details about this new model aren’t going to be released until April. However, the technical specifications – including the four-cylinder engine line-up – are expected to duplicate the truck version’s.

    Nissan Terra (2018) InteriorNissan Terra (2018) Rear Side Detail

    After being launched first in China during spring 2018, sales are due to begin in other Asian markets. Whether or not Nissan intends to bring the Terra to Europe is unknown at this stage.

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    As Hyundai points out, the new Kona Electric should be extremely trendy for two reasons: it’s a B-segment SUV without an internal combustion engine.

    Hyundai Kona Electric (2019) Front Side

    Compared to a regular Kona, the Electric can be identified by a vestigial front grille (which incorporates the recharging socket). Inside, a central 7” screen displays the infotainment and vehicle monitoring functions, while paddles behind the steering wheel control the regenerative braking system’s severity.

    Hyundai Kona Electric (2019) InteriorHyundai Kona Electric (2019) Rear Side

    Hyundai will offer two versions of the Kona Electric. However, unless there’s a huge price difference, surely most customers are going to choose the more practical Long Range option?

    2019 Hyundai Kona Electric specifications
    Variant Short Range Long Range
    Battery capacity 39.2 kWh 64.0 kWh
    Range* 186 miles
    (300 kilometres)
    292 miles
    (470 kilometres)
    AC recharge time 6 hrs 10 mins 9 hrs 40 mins
    DC quick-charge time 54 mins to 80%
    Power 133 bhp
    (99 kW / 135 PS)
    201 bhp
    (150 kW / 204 PS)
    Torque 395 Nm
    (291 lb/ft)
    0-62 mph (100 km/h) 9.3 secs 7.6 secs
    Top speed 104 mph (167 km/h)
    *Internal targets based on the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP).

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    2018 Hyundai Kona first view

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    It’d be intriguing to question members of the World Car Awards jury about their voting rationale, because some of 2018’s top three finalists seem nonsensical.

    2018 World Car of the Year

    When the shortlist was revealed in January, the Nissan Leaf and Kia Stinger stood out as being innovative cars that had the potential to shake up their respective sectors. However, both have been eliminated, leaving a trio of crossovers.

    • Land Rover Range Rover Velar
    • Mazda CX-5
    • Volvo XC60
    Volvo XC60 (2018) Side
    Volvo XC60

    2018 World Luxury Car

    This category is now a guaranteed win for the Volkswagen Group, after the BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo and Lexus LS failed to attract sufficient support.
    • Audi A8
    • Porsche Cayenne
    • Porsche Panamera
    Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo (2018) Front Side
    Porsche Panamera

    2018 World Performance Car

    While the Giulia Quadrifoglio might represent a resurgence for Alfa Romeo, the Italian saloon was clearly not considered good enough by the judging panel. What’s left is a ‘David versus two Goliaths’ contest: can a £30,995 Honda defeat a £89,640 BMW and a £76,595 Lexus?
    • BMW M5
    • Honda Civic Type R
    • Lexus LC 500
    BMW M5 Saloon (2018) Front Side 1
    BMW M5

    2018 World Urban Car

    An increased ride height for better driver visibility, longer-travel suspension to cope with decaying road surfaces and extra body cladding to protect against scrapes are three attributes needed by an ideal urban car. On that basis, the Fiesta becomes the obvious front-runner here (but only in Active guise).
    • Ford Fiesta
    • Suzuki Swift
    • Volkswagen Polo
    Ford Fiesta Active 5-Door (2017) Front Side
    Ford Fiesta

    2018 World Green Car

    If the pure-electric Nissan Leaf doesn’t beat the BMW and Chrysler hybrids, then there is something very wrong with how the best ‘green’ vehicle is determined.
    • BMW 530e iPerformance
    • Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
    • Nissan Leaf
    Nissan Leaf (2018) Front Side
    Nissan Leaf

    2018 World Car Design of the Year

    Given such a subjective topic and the strange ballot results seen thus far, trying to predict which contender is deemed most attractive would be fairly pointless.
    • Land Rover Range Rover Velar
    • Lexus LC 500
    • Volvo XC60
    Land Rover Range Rover Velar (2018) Front Side
    Land Rover Range Rover Velar

    All six winners are going to be announced at the New York International Auto Show on the 28th of March.

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    An international panel of sixty motoring journalists has decided that the Volvo XC40 is 2018’s European Car of the Year.

    Each juror had twenty-five points to apportion across the seven nominees (with a maximum permitted allocation of ten points per car). The Swedish compact SUV managed to attract 21.7% of the total, so it achieved an emphatic victory.

    Volvo XC40 (2018) Front SideVolvo XC40 (2018) Rear Side

    Perhaps surprisingly, the Seat Ibiza ended up in second place, while BMW’s 5 Series occupied the third podium position.

    2018 European Car of the Year - Final Results
    1 Volvo XC40 325 points (21.7%)
    2 Seat Ibiza 242 points (16.1%)
    3 BMW 5 Series 226 points (15.1%)
    4 Kia Stinger 204 points (13.6%)
    5 Citroën C3 Aircross 171 points (11.4%)
    6 Audi A8 169 points (11.3%)
    7 Alfa Romeo Stelvio 163 points (10.9%)

    The voting again exhibited some national biases. For instance, the six representatives from Germany gave 29.3% of their available marks to the BMW. In a similar vein, the Alfa Romeo and Citroën scored extremely well with the Italians and French respectively.

    Sweden almost bucked the trend, though. That country’s three delegates did bestow a large 24.0% points share upon the Volvo, but bizarrely they also allotted 30.7% to the relatively unpopular Audi.

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    SsangYong has unveiled the next-generation Musso pick-up truck. Available in crew cab guise only, it has a one-tonne payload and a maximum towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes.

    Like the recently-launched Rexton, Musso is built on a ‘Quad-Frame’ separate chassis. The 2.2 litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged, e-XDi 220 diesel engine and part-time four-wheel drive system are carried over too.

    SsangYong Musso (2018) Rear Side 1

    Power output is rated at 178 bhp (133 kW / 181 PS), while peak torque is either 400 Nm (295 lb/ft) with a six-speed manual gearbox or 420 Nm (310 lb/ft) with an Aisin six-speed automatic transmission.

    Final UK specifications and prices have yet to be confirmed, but three trim levels are planned.

    Standard equipment on the entry-level version is set to include a 12V / 120W power outlet in the cargo bed, Bluetooth connectivity and a DAB radio. By contrast, the top-grade Musso will feature luxuries such as an 8” infotainment screen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, heated front seats, Nappa leather upholstery and 20” wheels.

    Deliveries are expected to begin during the summer.

    SsangYong Musso (2018) Front SideSsangYong Musso (2018) Dashboard

    SsangYong Musso (2018) SideSsangYong Musso (2018) Rear Side 2

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  • 03/11/18--12:31: 2019 Toyota Auris first view
  • Toyota could’ve quite easily used Brexit as an excuse to shift Auris production out of the UK. However, despite uncertainties surrounding future trading arrangements with the rest of Europe, the company has confirmed that the third-generation model will be built at the Burnaston plant in Derbyshire.

    The new Auris is also significant for two other reasons.

    Firstly, it’s based on the Toyota New Global Architecture platform. While this benefits both the engineering and manufacturing processes, driving dynamics are claimed to be better too thanks to a more rigid body, a lower centre of gravity and a multi-link rear suspension set-up.

    Toyota Auris Hybrid (2019) Front Side 1

    Secondly, Toyota has adopted a radical powertrain strategy (which doesn’t include a diesel option). Although a conventional 1.2 litre turbocharged petrol engine is going to be offered, a pair of petrol-electric hybrid systems is expected to account for the majority of sales.

    Full specifications have yet to be announced, but the 1.8 litre version has an output of 120 bhp (90 kW / 122 PS). Upgrading to the 2.0 litre alternative sees that figure rise to 177 bhp (132 kW / 180 PS). Perhaps surprisingly, neither has an external recharging facility, so they won’t be eligible for the current Plug-in Car Grant.

    Deliveries of the 2019 Auris are due to begin early next year.

    Toyota Auris Hybrid (2019) Rear SideToyota Auris Hybrid (2019) Front Side 2

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    Revised styling, narrower bodywork, a redesigned tubular steel frame and a larger 14” rear wheel are the key traits of Honda’s latest Forza 300.

    Other new features include Honda Selectable Torque Control (a traction control system), an electrically-adjustable windscreen, better instruments and full LED lighting. Decent practicality is promised too, because a lockable fairing pocket contains a 12V charging socket, the under-seat storage compartment accommodates two full-face helmets and Smart Key functionality can (for the first time) be used on an optional top box.

    Honda Forza 300 (2018) Front Side 1

    Some shorter riders might be unhappy about the increase in saddle height from 718 mm (28.3”) to 780 mm (30.7”), though. However, wet weight has fallen by 12 kg (26 lbs) to 182 kg (401 lbs), which should make the scooter a bit easier to manage.

    Power is provided by a 279 cc, four-stroke, four-valve, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine that’s mated to a V-Matic continuously-variable transmission. With output and torque rated at 24.8 bhp (18.5 kW / 25.1 PS) and 27.2 Nm (20.0 lb/ft) respectively, top speed is 80 mph (129 km/h) and the World Motorcycle Test Cycle fuel economy figure becomes 87.5 mpg (3.3 l/100km).

    Forza 300 customers will have a choice of Pearl Nightstar Black, Crescent Blue Metallic, Matt Cynos Grey Metallic or Matt Pearl Cool White paintwork. UK pricing hasn’t been announced yet.

    Honda Forza 300 (2018) InstrumentsHonda Forza 300 (2018) Side 1

    Honda Forza 300 (2018) Side 2Honda Forza 300 (2018) Rear Side

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    Fifty years years after the original version was produced, Ford has confirmed the return of the California Special appearance package. It’s going to be available for the 2019 Mustang GT coupé and convertible.

    Exterior elements include a Mustang Performance Pack Level 1 front splitter, a black grille, two-tone five-spoke wheels, side stripes and a unique rear-mounted California Special badge.

    Ford Mustang GT California Special Convertible (2019) Front Side

    Inside, a GT/CS motif can be found on the bespoke floor mats and front seats. Part-suede black upholstery and contrasting red stitching complete the look.

    2019 Mustang sales are due to begin in the summer. Whether or not the California Special will be offered outside of North America remains to be seen, though.

    Ford Mustang GT California Special Convertible (2019) InteriorFord Mustang GT California Special Convertible (2019) Rear Side

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    Since 1999, BMW has supplied the official course vehicles for MotoGP. That tradition continues this year.

    Star of the 2018 fleet is an M5 Safety Car. Being based on the latest showroom model, it features a 4.4 litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine that’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and – for the first time – an xDrive part-time all-wheel drive system.

    BMW M5 MotoGP Safety Car (2018) Side

    Back-up will be provided by an M6 Gran Coupé Safety Car, a pair of M4 Coupé Safety Cars, an M3 Safety Car and an M2 Safety Car. Furthermore, the Medical Car is an X5 M and two S 1000 RR Safety Bikes are going to be on duty too.

    The 2018 MotoGP season begins with the Grand Prix of Qatar on the 18th of March.

    BMW M5 MotoGP Safety Car (2018) Front SideBMW M5 MotoGP Safety Car (2018) Rear Side

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    McLaren Special Operations has created the 570GT MSO Black Collection. As that name indicates, this new limited edition follows an all-black theme.

    Carbon Black paintwork is complemented by an MSO Defined Black Pack which encompasses the front splitter, air intakes, side skirts and rear diffuser. What’s more, black brake calipers sit behind gloss black diamond-cut forged alloy wheels.

    McLaren 570GT MSO Black Collection (2018) Front Side

    Inside, black semi-aniline leather covers the power-adjustable and heated seats, plus the MSO logo is embroidered onto the head restraints. Black Alcantara is used to trim various other cabin pieces, including the headlining, central tunnel and steering wheel. Sensibly, a tinted glass panoramic roof is fitted as standard to prevent the ambiance becoming too gloomy.

    The specification changes aren’t just cosmetic, though. Among the equipment gains are a titanium MSO SuperSports exhaust (with black end-pipes, of course), the handling-enhancing Sport Pack, the GT Upgrade Pack and carbon-ceramic brake discs.

    Production of the 570GT MSO Black Collection is being restricted to 100 examples. In the UK, pricing starts at £179,950.

    McLaren 570GT MSO Black Collection (2018) InteriorMcLaren 570GT MSO Black Collection (2018) Rear Side

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