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News and views about cars, bikes and motorsport. Covers new cars and motorcycles, auto industry news, motoring issues and motor racing.
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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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    With deliveries of its 2018 M5 due to begin next March, BMW has announced that a range of M Performance Parts is going to be available for the car.

    Chassis upgrades comprise motorsport-derived carbon-ceramic brakes and a coilover suspension set-up with adjustable spring plates.

    BMW M5 Saloon With M Performance Parts (2018) Front Side

    Many M Performance Parts customers will probably be more keen on visual embellishments, though. For them, there's a selection of carbon fibre components including front bumper attachments, side sill extensions, door mirror caps, a rear diffuser and two types of spoiler. Some fairly subtle tricolour stripes could appeal, too.

    Apart from a seemingly pointless carbon fibre cover extension kit, nothing is being offered to modify the 592 bhp (441 kW / 600 PS) 4.4 litre V8 engine. However, a sports exhaust with a titanium muffler and carbon fibre tailpipe trims has been developed exclusively for Canada and the USA.

    BMW M5 Saloon With M Performance Parts (2018) Engine Cover ExtensionBMW M5 Saloon With M Performance Parts (2018) Side Detail

    Dedicated track day enthusiasts (or anybody who enjoys boring their friends) might be interested in the M Performance Drive Analyser. This records all sorts of vehicle parameters, which can then be scrutinised via a dedicated smartphone app.

    While most of these retrofit accessories should be in stock when the new M5 arrives at dealers, a few won't be obtainable until July 2018.

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    Kia's Stinger GT Federation – which is being exhibited at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas – offers a glimpse of how owners could easily modify their cars.

    Indeed, apart from the vivid orange custom paintwork, most of the components are already available from aftermarket suppliers. They include a replacement air intake and a Borla exhaust system that raise engine output by 15 bhp (11 kW / 15 PS) to an estimated 380 bhp (283 kW / 385 PS).

    Kia Stinger GT Federation (2017) Front Side

    For sharper handling (and a lower ride height), Eibach springs and thicker anti-roll bars are fitted. What's more, grip levels should be enhanced courtesy of 20” TSW wheels shod with Falken tyres.

    A restrained body kit from Air Design USA finishes off the transformation. It comprises a front splitter, bonnet vents, a rear diffuser and a boot spoiler.

    Kia Stinger GT Federation (2017) Rear SideKia Stinger GT Federation (2017) Front

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    Over time, the WRX STI has become a brand icon for Subaru, so the decision to drop it from the range is audacious. However, the moribund model will apparently “inform future developments” (whatever that actually means).

    To commemorate the WRX STI's imminent demise, 150 examples of a special Final Edition version are being offered in the UK.

    Subaru WRX STI Final Edition (2017) Front Side

    Identifying features include a redesigned front bumper and steering-responsive LED headlights. Larger 19” wheels are fitted too, primarily to accommodate bigger Brembo brake discs and their yellow-painted calipers.

    Like the regular WRX STI, power is provided by a 2.5 litre turbocharged engine. This four-cylinder boxer unit sends 295 bhp (220 kW / 300 PS) and 407 Nm (300 lb/ft) of torque to all four wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. For the Final Edition, the Multi-Mode Driver's Control Centre Differential becomes fully electronic instead of mechanical and electronic.

    As well as a numbered badge, the interior gains heated seats, a DAB radio, a reversing camera system and a 5.9” infotainment display screen. Red stitching, red seatbelts and gloss black trim pieces have also been added to the specification.

    Available to order now, the WRX STI Final Edition costs £33,995.

    Subaru WRX STI Final Edition (2017) InteriorSubaru WRX STI Final Edition (2017) Rear Side

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    Suzuki has introduced some accessories for the GSX-R125, its recently-launched baby sports bike that combines a 14.7 bhp (11.0 kW / 15.0 PS) single-cylinder engine with a kerb weight of just 134 kg (295 lbs).

    The highlight of the range is a Sports Pack, which consists of a double-bubble screen, a fuel tank protector, heel plates and a pillion seat cover.

    Suzuki GSX-R125 With Sports Pack (2018) Front Side

    A standard GSX-R125 has an on-the-road price of £4,072. Ordering the Sports Pack will add £239 to the invoice (an amount that includes fitting). Alternatively, each part can be bought separately, but doing so would cost £72 more.

    Among the other available items are a small tank bag with fixing ring (£127), a graphics kit (£160) and a carbon-look fuel cap protector trim (£15).

    Suzuki GSX-R125 With Sports Pack (2018) Fuel Tank ProtectorSuzuki GSX-R125 With Sports Pack (2018) Pillion Seat Cover

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    California-based tuner DG-Spec has created the one-off Toyota C-HR R-Tuned, which could be the world's fastest crossover.

    To help achieve that distinction, the 2.4 litre four-cylinder engine has received reworked internals, upgraded valves and a Garrett turbocharger with around 23 psi of boost pressure. As a result, over 600 horsepower (approximately 450 kW) is delivered to the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission and an OS Giken limited-slip differential.

    Toyota C-HR R-Tuned (2017) Front SideToyota C-HR R-Tuned (2017) Rear Side

    Various chassis modifications allow the C-HR R-Tuned to use its huge output effectively. They include a set of Toyo Proxes RR tyres for the 18” wheels, larger Brembo brakes and motorsport-specification dampers. Furthermore, up to 136 kg (300 lbs) of aerodynamic downforce is provided by a jutting front splitter and a high-mounted rear wing.

    Performance figures haven't been realised. However, as an indicator of the car's potential, Toyota says this particular C-HR can lap the Willow Springs International Raceway quicker than the McLaren 650S Spyder, Nissan GT-R Nismo and Porsche 911 GT3.

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    Mercedes-Benz has launched a trio of G-Class Limited Edition models in Germany. They might be the last special releases based on the current W463-generation Geländewagen, which is due to be replaced next year.

    The first is the G 350 d Limited Edition. It comes with Designo Mocha Black metallic paint, titanium grey five-spoke AMG alloy wheels and privacy glass. An electric sunroof plus the exterior Chrome and Stainless Steel packages are part of the specification too.

    Mercedes-Benz G 350 d Limited Edition (2017) Front SideMercedes-Benz G 350 d Limited Edition (2017) Interior

    Inside, there's Saddle Brown Designo Nappa leather, a two-tone dashboard and piano black trim pieces. A Harman Kardon Logic 7 surround-sound system, the Exclusive package, Blind Spot Assist and the Parking package are among the other standard-fit items.

    Thanks to an Off-road package, a steel front bumper, protective grilles for the front indicators and a roof rack, the G 350 d Professional Limited Edition definitely has a purposeful appearance.

    Mercedes-Benz G 350 d Professional Limited Edition (2017) InteriorMercedes-Benz G 350 d Professional Limited Edition (2017) Rear Side

    This variant also features heated front seats, an auxiliary heater with remote control, a heated windscreen and satellite navigation. China Blue paintwork and retro-inspired check fabric upholstery comprise its colour scheme.

    Finally, the G 500 Limited Edition has a Designo Platinum Magno finish, privacy glass and the Sports package.

    Mercedes-Benz G 500 Limited Edition (2017) Front SideMercedes-Benz G 500 Limited Edition (2017) Interior

    Black Designo Nappa leather with contrasting white stitching, piano black lacquer trim, the Chrome package and the Exclusive package embellish the interior. A generous equipment list includes an auxiliary heater, Active Distance Assist Distronic, Blind Spot Assist, the Parking package, a Harman Kardon Logic 7 audio system and a TV tuner.

    Every Limited Edition additionally gets an embossed motif on the central armrest that depicts a G-Class test scene. A “Schöckl proved since 1979” inscription alludes to both the vehicle's longevity and the mountain location in Austria where so many of its abilities have been honed.

    Mercedes-Benz G 500 Limited Edition (2017) Centre Armrest

    Fittingly, 463 examples of each variant are being offered. VAT-inclusive prices in Germany are:
    • G 350 d Limited Edition – €122,918.67
    • G 350 d Professional Limited Edition – €103,940.55
    • G 500 Limited Edition – €140,164.15
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    A mid-size scooter is joining BMW Motorrad's line-up. Called C 400 X, the new arrival slots in beneath the existing C 650 GT and C 650 Sport maxi scooters.

    That name's actually rather misleading, because the C 400 X is powered by a 350 cc, single-cylinder, fuel-injected engine. It produces 34 bhp (25 kW / 34 PS) and 35 Nm (25 lb/ft) of torque, which is delivered via a continuously-variable transmission.

    BMW C 400 X (2018) Front Side

    Beneath the fairly minimal bodywork, things are very conventional. A tubular steel frame supports a telescopic fork at the front, two spring struts at the rear and a swing-arm with a vibration-reducing bearing.

    Standard equipment includes Automatic Stability Control, anti-lock brakes, LED lights and Flexcase under-seat storage. Among the notable options is a 6.5” TFT instrument display screen that can incorporate satellite navigation and support smartphone integration.

    C 400 X customers will have a choice of either Zenith Blue metallic or Alpine White non-metallic paint finishes. Prices and market launch dates have yet to be announced, though.

    BMW C 400 X (2018) InstrumentsBMW C 400 X (2018) Rear Side

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    Following the launch of its next-generation Continental GT at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, Bentley has announced the arrival of a racing version.

    The Continental GT3, which has been developed in collaboration with M-Sport, is powered by an updated 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 that boasts dry-sump lubrication and Cosworth engine management. An output of approximately 550 bhp (410 kW / 557 PS) is delivered to the rear wheels via a Ricardo six-speed sequential transmission.

    Bentley Continental GT3 2018 Front SideBentley Continental GT3 2018 Side

    A bespoke suspension set-up comprises double wishbones front and rear, plus four-way adjustable dampers. Braking is taken care of by Alcon ventilated iron discs, six-piston front calipers, four-piston rear calipers and a Bosch anti-lock system.

    Perhaps the most surprising statistic concerns mass. Despite measuring 4,860 mm (15’ 11”) long and 2,045 mm (6’ 9”) wide, this physically large car weighs only 1,300 kg (2,866 lbs). Aluminium construction, carbon fibre body panels and, of course, a stripped-out interior are primarily responsible.

    Bentley Continental GT3 2018 Rear SideBentley Continental GT3 2018 Front

    Having won the 2017 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup teams' championship, Bentley Motorsport will defend its title in 2018. A return to the four-round Intercontinental GT Challenge is planned, too.

    However, privateers are going to have to wait a little longer, because the latest Continental GT3 won't be offered to them until June 2018.

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    Two years after its introduction, Honda has updated the CRF1000L Africa Twin and added an Adventure Sports version to the range.

    Both models are powered by a 998 cc parallel-twin engine that still produces 94 bhp (70 kW / 95 PS) with 99 Nm (73 lb/ft) of torque. As before, customers can specify either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed dual-clutch transmission.

    Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin (2018) Front Side

    There have been some significant changes, though.

    Chief among them is the adoption of throttle-by-wire technology which offers a choice of Tour, Urban, Gravel and User riding modes. Furthermore, a revised Honda Selectable Torque Control system now has eight settings (including 'off').

    Better mid-range response is promised by a redesigned intake airbox, a modified exhaust and a lighter balancer shaft. Switching to a lithium-ion battery has saved 2.3kg (5.1 lbs).

    The new Adventure Sports is intended for more serious rough terrain use. Accordingly, longer travel Showa suspension is fitted and ground clearance increases from 250 mm (9.8”) to 270 mm (10.6”).

    Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Adventure Sports (2018) Front Side

    In order to extend the bike's range to around 310 miles (500 kilometres), fuel tank capacity has been expanded from the usual 18.8 litres (4.1 gallons) to 24.2 litres (5.3 gallons).

    A bigger fairing, a windscreen that's taller by 80 mm (3.1”) and a flatter saddle should provide greater comfort over longer distances. However, compared to the regular Africa Twin, seat height has risen by 50 mm (2.0”) to either 900 mm (35.4”) or 920 mm (36.2”).

    Heated grips and a charging socket are standard equipment on the Adventure Sports, but a centre stand, a sump guard and panniers are among the numerous cost options.

    UK prices for the 2018 Africa Twin and Africa Twin Adventure Sports have yet to be revealed.

    Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin (2018) Rear SideHonda CRF1000L Africa Twin (2018) Side

    Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Adventure Sports (2018) TopHonda CRF1000L Africa Twin Adventure Sports (2018) Rear Side

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    It's a replacement for the Exige Cup 380 (a limited edition) that uses the supercharged 3.5 litre V6 engine from the Evora GT430 (another limited edition). However, Lotus says the Exige Cup 430 is a proper series-production model.

    This new member of the range – which lays claim to the title of most extreme Exige ever – boasts 430 bhp (320 kW / 436 PS) with 440 Nm (325 lb/ft) of peak torque. Combined with a kerb weight of 1,093 kg (2,410 lbs), the result is a 0-62 mph sprint time of just 3.3 seconds. The car's 180 mph (290 km/h) top speed is similarly impressive.

    Lotus Exige Cup 430 (2018) Front Side

    To cope with such performance potential, the suspension set-up consists of adjustable Eibach front and rear anti-roll bars, Nitron springs and Nitron three-way adjustable dampers. Drivers have a choice of four ESP modes, plus the traction control has six settings.

    The Cup 430's aerodynamics have received attention, too. A bespoke lightweight rear clam panel supports a large high-mounted wing, while the redesigned front clam gains wider intakes, a modified splitter and extra ducts. Consequently, up to 220 kg (485 lbs) of downforce is generated.

    As might be expected, there's a dearth of equipment. Nevertheless, ten-spoke alloy wheels (17” at the front / 18” at the rear), Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, a tyre pressure monitoring device, rear parking sensors and carbon fibre seats upholstered in Alcantara and perforated leather are all fitted as standard.

    Cost options include carpets, sound insulation, air conditioning and a two-speaker audio system. For dedicated track-day fanatics, an FIA-compliant roll cage, fire extinguisher controls and a non-airbag steering wheel are also available.

    Lotus dealers are accepting Exige Cup 430 orders now. UK prices start from £99,800.

    Lotus Exige Cup 430 (2018) InteriorLotus Exige Cup 430 (2018) Rear Side

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    As its name suggests, the new K 1600 Grand America should appeal mainly to riders in North America. This full-dress tourer, which is based on the existing K 1600 B, has been designed to cover long distances in relaxed comfort.

    In fact, there are only a few significant differences between the two bikes. Specifically, the Grand America version has a taller windscreen, the pillion seat has been lowered by 70 mm (2.8”) and a topbox is fitted that incorporates a backrest and an additional LED brake light.

    BMW K 1600 Grand America (2018) Side

    The regular paint colour is Blackstorm metallic. Alternatively, customers can choose the Style Package, which comprises a Blackstorm and Austin Yellow two-tone finish plus some extra chrome.

    Standard equipment includes cruise control, heated saddles and handlebar grips, electric Reverse Assist, a xenon headlight, Dynamic Traction Control and Dynamic ESA suspension with Road and Cruise damper settings. Shift Assistant Pro clutchless gear changing, Hill Start Control and Keyless Ride are among the available cost options.

    As per the K 1600 B, power comes from a 1,649 cc, six-cylinder engine that produces 157 bhp (118 kW / 160 PS) at 7,750 rpm and 175 Nm (129 lb/ft) of torque at 5,250 rpm. Interestingly, top speed is limited to 101 mph (162 km/h) to maintain stability.

    Pricing for the K 1600 Grand America has yet to be confirmed.

    BMW K 1600 Grand America (2018) Front SideBMW K 1600 Grand America (2018) Rear Side

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    Thanks to typical Vespa styling and a zero-emissions powertrain, the new Elettrica is a perfect blend of tradition and innovation.

    Its electric motor has continuous and peak outputs of 2 kW (2.6 bhp / 2.7 PS) and 4 kW (5.3 bhp / 5.4 PS) respectively. Combined with 200 Nm (147 lb/ft) of torque, Vespa reckons the result is better performance than a conventional 50 cc petrol-engined scooter.

    Vespa Elettrica (2018) Front Side

    A lithium-ion battery pack, which sits beneath the helmet storage compartment, takes four hours to fully recharge. Helping to attain the maximum range figure of 62 miles (100 kilometres) is a Kinetic Energy Recovery System that's activated when decelerating.

    The distances achievable by the Elettrica should be sufficient for most riders' daily needs. However, if anxiety sets in, switching the Riding Mode from Power to Eco limits speed to 18 mph (30 km/h) and subdues acceleration to eke out the remaining electricity.

    Anybody who regularly covers seriously high mileages might prefer the Elettrica X, though.

    This version is differentiated by an onboard petrol generator that's supplied by a 3.0-litre (0.7-gallon) fuel tank. Consequently, range doubles to 124 miles (200 kilometres), but there's a major drawback too: a smaller battery means the Elettrica X can travel for only 31 miles (50 kilometres) as a pure EV.

    Both models feature the Vespa Multimedia Platform to integrate smartphones via a dedicated Elettrica App and a 4.3” TFT screen. An LED headlight, alloy wheels, a USB socket and metallic chrome grey paintwork also come as standard.

    The Elettrica and Elettrica X will be available to order from spring 2018.

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    Infiniti has given its QX80 full-size SUV another facelift. The most obvious changes are at the front, where a raised headlight position, a larger grille and a flatter bonnet profile form a more imposing presence.

    Infiniti QX80 (2018) Front Side

    Inside, the focus has been on improving the luxury ambiance. Extra sound insulation and thicker carpets are now fitted, plus the padding on the doors and armrests is denser.

    Perforated and quilted leather or semi-aniline leather upholsteries are available, which come in an enhanced colour palette with contrasting piping, double stitching and a selection of ash wood veneers. The cabin can be specified with either seven or eight seats across three rows.

    Infiniti QX80 (2018) InteriorInfiniti QX80 (2018) Side

    For the 2018 model, Infiniti has introduced a broader range of driver-assistance technologies. Included are Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Blind Spot Warning and Intervention, Intelligent Cruise Control, Distance Control Assist, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Forward Emergency Braking and Backup Collision Intervention.

    A Smart Rear View Mirror is another addition to the equipment list. If vision through the back window is obscured, then pressing a button instantly converts the conventional mirror into a display for a rearwards-facing camera.

    Infiniti QX80 (2018) Rear SideInfiniti QX80 (2018) Dashboard

    As before, the QX80 features a naturally-aspirated 5.6 litre V8 petrol engine that has direct injection and variable valve timing. 400 bhp (298 kW / 405 PS) and 560 Nm (413 lb/ft) of torque are delivered via a seven-speed automatic transmission, resulting in a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of 7.5 seconds and a 130 mph (210 km/h) top speed. Customers still have a choice of either rear- or all-wheel drive.

    Given such a powertrain, Infiniti's policy of not offering the QX80 in Europe is understandable. Conversely, markets across Asia, North America and the Middle East are due to receive the latest version later this year.

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    Fiat has added the stylish S-Design trim grade to its 500X range. This new special edition, which has been on display at the Dubai Motor Show, has a “young, metropolitan public” target market.

    Fiat 500X S-Design (2017) Front Side

    On the outside, a dark finish called Myron appears on the alloy wheels, door mirror caps, side mouldings, handles and rear light bezels. Xenon headlights and rear privacy glass are also part of the standard specification.

    Fiat 500X S-Design (2017) DashboardFiat 500X S-Design (2017) Rear Side

    The theme continues inside, where unique Castiglio chevron-pattern fabric upholstery is complemented by a textured matte black dashboard panel and a copper-coloured '500' logo.

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    Kymco is hoping that its latest offering will appeal to customers who want a scooter for both leisure use and daily commuting. Accordingly, the new Xciting S 400 is claimed to have decent high-speed stability and manoeuvrability, thanks to features such as a more rigid double-braced front fork and a stronger rear hanger axle.

    Kymco Xciting S 400 (2018) Side

    A manually-adjustable windscreen and a larger backrest should provide good comfort levels, plus the under-seat storage compartment has a unique two-stage opening mechanism to enhance practicality. However, a 810 mm (31.9”) saddle height is combined with a dry weight of 189 kg (416 lbs), so some smaller riders might be rather daunted.

    The standard specification includes daytime running lights, LED headlights, an LED rear light cluster, alloy wheels, disc brakes and a Bosch 9.1 anti-lock system. Noodoe Navigation will also be available.

    Kymco Xciting S 400 (2018) Front and Rear

    Power comes from a single-cylinder, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, 400 cc engine. This fuel-injected unit produces 35.3 bhp (26.5 kW / 36.0 PS) at 7,500 rpm, while peak torque of 37.7 Nm (27.8 lb/ft) arrives at 6,000 rpm.

    Kymco has yet to announce UK pricing and an on-sale date for the Xciting S 400.

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    With a growing number of cities threatening to penalise or even ban combustion-engine vehicles, more urban deliveries will have to be completed using zero-emissions alternatives.

    In response to that situation, Mercedes-Benz has announced the electrification of its van range. The new eVito, which should arrive during the second half of 2018, can be ordered now in Germany. An eSprinter (based on the next-generation model) is promised for 2019, then the eCitan is due to complete the line-up.

    Mercedes-Benz eVito Panel Van (2018) Front Side

    Prices for the eVito start from €39,990 (excluding VAT). Clearly a regular diesel Vito is cheaper in terms of initial outlay, but an eVito will incur less spend on maintenance and fuel. Indeed, Mercedes-Benz reckons that overall running costs are likely to be broadly similar, especially after tax savings are taken into account.

    Customers can choose either long-wheelbase or extra-long-wheelbase versions. A maximum gross vehicle weight of 3,200 kg (7,054 lbs) permits a payload of up to 1,073 kg (2,365 lbs), while the usable load volume is unaffected by the conversion to electric power.

    Mercedes-Benz eVito Panel Van (2018) Rear Side

    However, the battery pack has a fairly modest 41.4 kWh capacity. Consequently, range is expected to be around 93 miles (150 kilometres) in normal running, or just 62 miles (100 kilometres) under adverse conditions such as very cold weather. Recharge time is approximately six hours – another figure that might limit the eVito's appeal.

    An electric motor delivers 112 bhp (84 kW / 114 PS) with 300 Nm (221 lb/ft) of torque, so at least performance won't be lacking. Incidentally, top speed can be set to either 50 mph (80 km/h) or 75 mph (120 km/h), depending on how important conserving energy is.

    UK availability has yet to be confirmed.

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