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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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  • 01/08/18--05:37: Top 10: UK car sales 2017
  • In absolute terms, 2017 wasn’t a bad year for new car registrations in the UK. Sure, the overall total was down compared to 2015 and 2016, but that was almost bound to happen.

    As the graph below from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders illustrates, the downturn that followed the 2007-2008 financial crisis created a lot of pent-up demand which was largely satisfied over the past couple of years. Arguably, 2017’s figure of circa 2.5 million units can be regarded as a return to normal.

    SMMT New Car Registrations 2001 - 2017

    Trying to blame any reduction on public uncertainty about future diesel taxation or usage restrictions is rather misleading, too. The market contraction would have happened anyway.

    Nevertheless, consumer behaviour is altering radically.

    Diesel’s registration share dropped from 47.7% in 2016 to 42.0% in 2017, which undoubtedly reflects better purchasing decisions. While diesel cars remain entirely suitable for some motorists, for many others the available petrol, hybrid or pure electric alternatives will make more financial sense.

    Hopefully, people are no longer choosing a diesel engine without due consideration (especially those who drive modest mileages in mostly urban environments).

    Total UK Car Registrations 2017 - By Fuel Type
    Fuel 2017 2016 Change Change %
    Diesel 1,065,879 1,285,188 -219,309 -17.1%
    Petrol 1,354,917 1,318,707 +36,210 +2.7%
    Alternative 119,821 88,891 +30,930 +34.8%
    Total 2,540,617 2,692,786 -152,169 -5.7%

    Total UK Car Registrations 2017 - By Category
    Category 2017 2016 Change Change %
    Private 1,123,860 1,206,250 -82,390 -6.8%
    Fleet 1,319,193 1,380,750 -61,557 -4.5%
    Business 97,564 105,786 -8,222 -7.8%
    Total 2,540,617 2,692,786 -152,169 -5.7%
    Fleet + Business 1,416,757 1,486,536 -69,779 -4.7%

    Ford remains the UK’s most popular manufacturer, although its year-on-year market share slipped from 11.8% to 11.3%. Dieselgate has clearly been forgiven already, because Volkswagen managed to snatch the runner-up position from Vauxhall.

    Lower down the table, Mercedes-Benz leapfrogged BMW and Audi to finish in fourth place, removing any semblance of exclusivity from the brand in the process. Things didn’t go so well for Peugeot, as the French marque was replaced in the top ten by Kia.

    Top 10: Total UK Car Registrations 2017 - By Manufacturer
    Position 2017 Manufacturer Registrations Market Share Position 2016
    1 Ford 287,396 11.3% 1
    2 Volkswagen 208,462 8.2% 3
    3 Vauxhall 195,137 7.7% 2
    4 Mercedes-Benz 180,970 7.1% 6
    5 BMW 175,101 6.9% 4
    6 Audi 174,982 6.9% 5
    7 Nissan 151,156 5.9% 7
    8 Toyota 101,985 4.0% 9
    9 Hyundai 93,403 3.7% 10
    10 Kia 93,222 3.7% 11

    Of course, the Ford Fiesta continued to dominate the individual model chart. By contrast, the Vauxhall Corsa fell from second to fifth spot.

    Top 10: Total UK Car Registrations 2017 - By Model
    Position Model Registrations Market Share
    1 Ford Fiesta 94,533 3.7%
    2 Volkswagen Golf 74,605 2.9%
    3 Ford Focus 69,903 2.8%
    4 Nissan Qashqai 64,216 2.5%
    5 Vauxhall Corsa 52,772 2.1%
    6 Vauxhall Astra 49,370 1.9%
    7 Volkswagen Polo 47,855 1.9%
    8 Mini Hatch 47,669 1.9%
    9 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 45,912 1.8%
    10 Mercedes-Benz A-Class 43,717 1.7%

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

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    2017 saw 2,540,617 new cars registered in the UK, a 5.7% reduction compared to 2016. However, as in previous years, some manufacturers bucked the overall market trend, while others most definitely contributed to it.

    Most of the over-performing marques were decidedly low-volume players, so their small absolute unit increases resulted in large percentage gains.

    McLaren 570S Spider (2018) Front Side
    2017: A great year for McLaren.

    One notable anomaly was Seat, which managed to grow by almost a fifth. To put that achievement into context, the Spanish firm delivered more cars than Honda, Citroën or Fiat.

    Top 10: Total UK Car Registrations 2017 - Winners
    Manufacturer 2017 2016 Change Change %
    McLaren 567 18 549 3,050.0%
    Chevrolet 70 4 66 1,650.0%
    Aston Martin 1,471 906 565 62.4%
    Infiniti 3,515 2,891 624 21.6%
    Maserati 1,701 1,435 266 18.5%
    Seat 56,130 47,456 8,674 18.3%
    Abarth 4,441 3,966 475 12.0%
    Porsche 14,051 13,097 954 7.3%
    Mercedes-Benz 180,970 169,828 11,142 6.6%
    MG 4,441 4,192 249 5.9%
    Total Market 2,540,617 2,692,786 -152,169 -5.7%

    The losers’ table tells a very different story. With a few exceptions, the worst performers were non-premium producers. That probably says a lot about customers’ changing tastes and their higher expectations.

    French-owned brands especially seem to have suffered, because Citroën, DS, Peugeot, Renault and Vauxhall all appear on the list. Indeed, Vauxhall – now a PSA subsidiary – accounted for a third of the industry’s total registrations decline by shifting 55,818 fewer vehicles.

    Vauxhall Insignia GSi (2018) Front Side
    2017: A dreadful year for Vauxhall.

    Top 10: Total UK Car Registrations 2017 - Losers
    Manufacturer 2017 2016 Change Change %
    Jeep 6,380 14,090 -7,710 -54.7%
    DS 9,082 15,898 -6,816 -42.9%
    Fiat 44,475 60,581 -16,106 -26.6%
    Subaru 2,679 3,612 -933 -25.8%
    Vauxhall 195,137 250,955 -55,818 -22.2%
    SsangYong 3,590 4,444 -854 -19.2%
    Renault 69,110 85,102 -15,992 -18.8%
    Citroën 51,455 62,991 -11,536 -18.3%
    Lotus 279 339 -60 -17.7%
    Peugeot 82,226 98,529 -16,303 -16.5%
    Total Market 2,540,617 2,692,786 -152,169 -5.7%

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

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    Electric cars equipped with hydrogen fuel cells will only become popular when an adequate refuelling infrastructure exists. In the UK, for example, there are currently just twelve hydrogen stations (and five of them are clustered around London).

    Unfortunately, that means the Hyundai Nexo might struggle to find customers in Britain. This new FCEV – which replaces the ix35 Fuel Cell – is going to be available soon in selected markets.

    Hyundai Nexo (2018) Side

    Nexo improves on its predecessor across a number of key areas. Many of them stem from the introduction of a dedicated vehicle architecture that’s lighter and allows for better packaging.

    A more compact fuel cell stack delivers energy to a 160 bhp (120 kW / 163 PS) electric motor. With 395 Nm (291 lb/ft) of torque, the 0-60 mph (96 km/h) sprint takes 9.5 seconds. By comparison, the 134 bhp (100 kW / 135 PS) ix35 Fuel Cell needs two extra seconds to reach the same speed.

    Hyundai Nexo (2018) Front Side

    Range is arguably not as critical as it would be for a plug-in electric vehicle (provided there are convenient hydrogen-refill facilities, of course).

    Nevertheless, Hyundai estimates that the Nexo could travel for 500 miles (805 kilometres) according to the New European Driving Cycle measure. The equivalent distance achievable by an ix35 Fuel Cell is 131 miles (210 kilometres) less.

    Hyundai Nexo (2018) Rear Side

    Cold-start capability, hot-weather running and high-altitude performance are all claimed to be enhanced, too.

    Nexo pricing has yet to be confirmed by Hyundai.

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    Ahead of its second season competing in the FIA World Rally Championship, the Yaris WRC has been slightly modified by Toyota Gazoo Racing.

    Toyota Yaris WRC 2018 Front

    Compared to the 2017 car, the changes are fairly minor. They centre on a redesigned front bumper assembly that’s intended to provide more aerodynamic downforce. The cooling system has received some attention too, primarily to help keep engine temperatures in check during hot-weather events.

    Toyota Yaris WRC 2018 Rear SideToyota Yaris WRC 2018 Front Side

    This year’s three driver / co-driver crews will be Jari-Matti Latvala / Miika Anttilla, Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm and Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja.

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  • 01/13/18--15:02: Top 10: Irish car sales 2017
  • 131,335 new cars were registered in Ireland during 2017, according to statistics released by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry. That total represented a reduction of just over ten percent compared to 2016.

    While many other countries are experiencing a dramatic move away from diesel engines, plenty of Irish buyers are refusing to follow the trend.

    Admittedly, diesel’s share fell from 70.1% to 65.2%, but it’s undoubtedly still the most favoured fuel type. Significantly, ‘alternative’ vehicles (i.e. pure electrics and hybrids) experienced the highest growth rate, accounting for 4.1% of all deliveries.

    Irish Car Registrations 2017 - By Fuel Type
    Fuel 2017 2016 +/- % +/-
    Diesel 85,664 102,748 -17,084 -16.6%
    Petrol 40,288 40,641 -353 -0.9%
    Alternative 5,383 3,260 +2,123 +65.1%
    Total 131,335 146,649 -15,314 -10.4%
    Figures provided by SIMI Motorstats

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, the manufacturers listed in the top ten table are unchanged from 2016. Nevertheless, there were some notable position changes.

    After dropping to third last year, Volkswagen regained first place. Its market share remained unchanged at 10.5%, though.

    Volkswagen Golf GTE Advance (2017) Side
    The Golf constituted one third of all Volkswagen
    registrations in Ireland during 2017.

    Toyota slipped from leader to runner-up thanks to major declines across most models. Indeed, if the C-HR hadn’t achieved 1,965 registrations in 2017 (up from 229 in its launch year), then the brand’s overall performance would have been much worse.

    Hyundai posted one of the largest individual slumps, consequently falling from second to fourth. Almost three quarters of that decrease were due to fewer Tucson customers.

    Every marque in the top ten except Kia shifted a smaller volume in 2017. However, a few others lower down the league managed to do the opposite. Eleventh-placed Mercedes-Benz, for example, realised a 27.6% increase (helped by 1,600 additional E-Class sales), ending the year at 4,838 registrations. Similarly, Seat did 3,301 units, an 18.3% uplift.

    Top 10: Irish Car Registrations 2017 - By Manufacturer
    Position Manufacturer 2017 2016 +/- % +/-
    1 Volkswagen 13,830 15,411 -1,581 -10.3%
    2 Toyota 12,684 15,530 -2,846 -18.3%
    3 Ford 12,243 14,666 -2,423 -16.5%
    4 Hyundai 11,917 15,442 -3,525 -22.8%
    5 Nissan 10,348 11,878 -1,530 -12.9%
    6 Škoda 9,030 9,447 -417 -4.4%
    7 Renault 8,328 8,379 -51 -0.6%
    8 Kia 7,132 6,710 +422 +6.3%
    9 Opel 6,526 7,888 -1,362 -17.3%
    10 Audi 5,544 6,066 -522 -8.6%
    Figures provided by SIMI Motorstats

    Despite a substantial absolute reduction, the aforementioned Hyundai Tucson remained Ireland’s most popular car (although only just). Volkswagen’s Golf was still second, but the Ford Focus descended from third to fifth.

    Diminished Toyota Yaris and Corolla sales were primarily responsible for the Kia Sportage rising up from tenth to seventh spot. A new entry on the table was the Volkswagen Tiguan, which forced out the Passat.

    Combined, the top ten models generated 36,086 registrations, or 27.5% of the entire market.

    Top 10: Irish Car Registrations 2017 - By Model
    Position Model 2017 2016 +/- % +/-
    1 Hyundai Tucson 4,893 7,425 -2,532 -34.1%
    2 Volkswagen Golf 4,733 5,464 -731 -13.4%
    3 Nissan Qashqai 4,196 4,591 -395 -8.6%
    4 Škoda Octavia 3,980 4,660 -680 -14.6%
    5 Ford Focus 3,850 4,835 -985 -20.4%
    6 Ford Fiesta 3,217 3,827 -610 -15.9%
    7 Kia Sportage 3,066 2,871 +195 +6.8%
    8 Toyota Yaris 2,881 3,727 -846 -22.7%
    9 Toyota Corolla 2,790 3,751 -961 -25.6%
    10 Volkswagen Tiguan 2,480 1,632 +848 +52.0%
    Figures provided by SIMI Motorstats

    Related posts:
    Top 10: Irish car sales 2016
    Top 10: Irish car sales 2015

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  • 01/15/18--14:06: 2018 NACTOY winners
  • This year’s North American Car of the Year, Truck of the Year and Utility Vehicle of the Year have been named at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

    A jury made up of more than sixty motoring journalists from across Canada and the United States decided the results after three rounds of voting.

    2018 North American Car of the Year

    All too often, the best candidate doesn’t win this kind of contest. Unfortunately, as the most interesting model ended up in second place, that’s been the case here.

    Winner: Honda Accord - 277 points
    Second: Kia Stinger - 246 points
    Third: Toyota Camry - 77 points

    Honda Accord (2018) Front Side
    Honda Accord: 2018 North American Car of the Year.

    2018 North American Truck of the Year

    When the only actual truck listed loses to an SUV, perhaps the organisers need to revise their eligibility criteria? Anyway, the outcome suggests that the final ballot split opinions fairly evenly.

    Winner: Lincoln Navigator - 212 points
    Second: Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 - 200 points
    Third: Ford Expedition - 188 points

    Lincoln Navigator (2018) Front Side
    Lincoln Navigator: 2018 North American Truck of the Year.

    2018 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year

    This category produced a clear-cut victor, which was particularly praised for its luxury appeal, great ride quality and value for money.

    Winner: Volvo XC60 - 246 points
    Second: Honda Odyssey - 182 points
    Third: Alfa Romeo Stelvio - 172 points

    Volvo XC60 (2018) Side
    Volvo XC60: 2018 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year.

    Related posts:
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    2017 NACTOY winners

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    After a seven-year absence, the Ford Ranger is set to return to North America. The new mid-size pick-up might look familiar, because it’s based on the Ranger T6 that was originally launched in Asia, Europe and other markets in 2011.

    Indeed, redesigned bumpers apart, the North American version appears to be virtually identical to the Ranger which is already sold elsewhere. However, there are some significant differences.

    Ford Ranger SuperCrew (2019 North American Spec) Front Side

    Chief among them is the powertrain. Every Ranger destined for Canada and the USA will have a 2.3 litre EcoBoost gasoline engine. Output remains a mystery, but this four-cylinder turbocharged unit is going to come mated to a segment-exclusive ten-speed automatic transmission. Ford isn’t currently intending to offer a manual gearbox alternative.

    SuperCab (small rear-hinged rear doors) and SuperCrew (conventional rear doors) configurations are planned. Surprisingly, a two-door regular cab variant – which would appeal particularly to work truck users – won’t be part of the line-up.

    Customers will have a choice of XL, XLT or Lariat trim grades and either rear- or four-wheel drive. Optional Chrome and Sport cosmetic upgrades have been confirmed, as have the FX2 and FX4 off-road packages.

    Production of the 2019 Ranger is due to begin in Michigan late this year.

    Ford Ranger SuperCrew (2019 North American Spec) InteriorFord Ranger SuperCrew (2019 North American Spec) Rear Side

    Ford Ranger SuperCrew (2019 North American Spec) SideFord Ranger SuperCrew (2019 North American Spec) Dashboard

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    Revised styling, more comfort and a better driving experience denote the 2018 Land Cruiser, according to Toyota.

    The changes start at the front end, where the bumper, headlights and grille have been redesigned. Also, the bonnet’s centre section has an altered profile to improve downward visibility, while the top sections of the flanking wings are now higher to aid vehicle placement.

    Toyota Land Cruiser Utility 3-Door (2018) Front Side

    In a similar vein, the rear light clusters, bumper and number plate surround are all modified. Altogether, the alterations have added 60 mm (2.3”) to the Land Cruiser’s overall length.

    Inside, the highlight is an updated dashboard layout that’s claimed to improve the ergonomics. A refreshed instrument binnacle gains a 4.2” TFT colour multi-information display, the switchgear has been rearranged and the centre console can be specified with an 8” colour touchscreen infotainment system. Other enhancements include front-seat ventilation, rear-seat heating and reverse-tilting door mirrors.

    Toyota Land Cruiser Invincible 5-Door (2018) Dashboard

    Perhaps the most significant development is the introduction of an entry-level Utility trim grade. Available in three- and five-door guises, it comes with 17” steel wheels and a decent level of equipment. Air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth, a USB port, a CD player, front fog lights and automatic headlights are all standard. Buyers should choose plain white paintwork to achieve a proper ‘disaster relief NGO’ look.

    However, anybody requiring serious off-road ability might have to consider the Land Cruiser Invincible instead. That’s because this range-topping variant boasts Multi-Terrain Select, Multi-Terrain Monitor, Crawl Control, an under-vehicle camera, a locking Torsen rear differential and the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System.

    As before, power comes from a turbocharged 2.8 litre diesel engine which delivers 175 bhp (130 kW/ 176 PS) with 370 Nm (272 lb/ft) of peak torque.

    2018 Toyota Land Cruiser – UK on-the-road prices
    Trim grade Body style Transmission OTR price
    Utility 3-door / 5 seats 6-speed manual £32,795
    Utility 5-door / 5 seats 6-speed manual £34,095
    Utility 5-door / 5 seats 6-speed automatic £35,795
    Active 5-door / 5 seats 6-speed automatic £39,095
    Active 5-door / 7 seats 6-speed automatic £39,700
    Icon 5-door / 7 seats 6-speed automatic £47,495
    Invincible 5-door / 7 seats 6-speed automatic £52,295

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    This year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship begins at the weekend with the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The event will see the début of the BMW M8 GTE, run by BMW Team RLL.

    BMW M8 GTE 2018 Front

    Unusually, the race car’s corresponding road-going model – the 8 Series Coupé – has still to be launched, which presented some difficulties for the project. According to Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport Director, “Right from the word go, we worked with our colleagues in production development to synchronise the individual steps as closely as possible.

    “It was a challenge. When we needed the first chassis of the production car, there simply wasn’t one yet. We were, however, able to work with special prototype chassis from production development. We progressed step by step in that manner. Furthermore, at the start of our development, there were still minor changes to the production model. To a certain degree, we were dealing with a moving target.”

    BMW M8 GTE 2018 Top

    Measuring 4,980 mm (196.1”) long (excluding the rear wing) by 2,046 mm (80.6”) wide (excluding the door mirrors), the M8 GTE is certainly large. However, thanks to the extensive use of composites and carbon fibre, it weighs just 1,220 kg (2,690 lbs).

    Power comes from a turbocharged 4.0 litre V8 with a cylinder block and a cylinder head that are both derived from the production engine’s. An output of over 500 horsepower (around 370 kW) is delivered through a six-speed sequential transmission.

    BMW M8 GTE 2018 Front Side

    Two cars are going to compete at Daytona. The #24 M8 GTE is being driven by John Edwards, Jesse Krohn, Nick Catsburg and Augusto Farfus, while Alexander Sims, Connor De Phillippi, Bill Auberlen and Philipp Eng are sharing the #25 entry.

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    Another Kia model will soon be available in GT-Line guise. The latest candidate is the five-door Rio supermini, which is due to arrive at dealers after appearing at March’s Geneva Motor Show.

    The GT-Line trim grade typically appeals to customers who want sporty looks without particularly sporty performance (and the associated higher insurance costs). Accordingly, the Rio version features LED front fog lights, a unique grille treatment, 17” alloy wheels, sill accents, twin exhaust tips and a black roof spoiler.

    Kia Rio GT-Line (2018) Front Side

    There’s black faux leather upholstery inside, as well as a flat-bottom leather-covered steering wheel and a fake carbon fibre dashboard finish.

    Initially, the sole engine being offered is a 1.0 litre, three-cylinder, turbocharged petrol unit. Producing 118 bhp (88 kW / 120 PS) with 171 Nm (126 lb/ft) of peak torque, it’s mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. If that combination isn’t tempting enough, then Kia is planning to add 1.25 and 1.4 litre petrol alternatives (and a seven-speed double-clutch transmission) later this year.

    UK pricing and final specifications for the Rio GT-Line have yet to be announced.

    Kia Rio GT-Line (2018) DashboardKia Rio GT-Line (2018) Rear Side

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    Taking its inspiration from the McLaren 570S GT4 racer, the MSO X is a street-legal car that should be equally suited to hard track use. The project, which was commissioned by USA dealer McLaren Newport Beach, resulted in ten examples being built by McLaren Special Operations.

    McLaren MSO X (2018) Front Side

    Compared to a regular 570S Coupé, there are various exterior modifications that are intended to optimise the aerodynamics. They include the addition of front dive planes, custom bonnet air intakes, a functional roof-mounted induction snorkel and a bespoke rear bumper.

    Furthermore, a very conspicuous pylon-mounted rear wing generates an extra 100 kg (220 lbs) of downforce. An MSO Titanium Super Sports Exhaust and a set of Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres are also part of the enhanced specification.

    Like the exterior, the cockpit features plenty of exposed carbon fibre. Other distinguishing elements comprise six-point harnesses (as well as normal three-point seatbelts), a raised centre console, a helmet storage space in the bulkhead and a telemetry system.

    As a finishing touch, each MSO X wears a unique motorsport-derived livery. All have been sold already.

    McLaren MSO X (2018) SideMcLaren MSO X (2018) Dashboard

    McLaren MSO X (2018) InteriorMcLaren MSO X (2018) Rear Side

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    Ram’s all-new 2019 1500 pick-up range is going to include the upmarket Laramie Longhorn Edition. Its interior boasts a distinctly luxury ambience courtesy of full-grain leather, real wood accents, satin chrome trim pieces and mood lighting.

    Identifying features on the outside include a chrome billet grille, LED headlights with the Adaptive Front-lighting System, side steps and unique 20” or 22” wheels. What’s more, two-tone paint finishes are available to give the truck a particularly swanky look.

    Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Edition Crew Cab (2019) Front Side

    Compared to the previous model, the 2019 Ram 1500 is lighter by 102 kg (225 lbs) and maximum payload has been increased to 1,043 kg (2,300 lbs). Those better figures are mainly the result of a completely redesigned chassis that’s primarily made from high-strength steel. Also contributing to the weight savings is the use of aluminium for components such as the bonnet and tailgate.

    The engine line-up consists of a 305 bhp (227 kW / 309 PS) 3.6 litre Pentastar V6 and a 395 bhp (294 kW / 400 PS) 5.7 litre Hemi V8. The only transmission being offered is a TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic.

    Both powertrain options come with the innovative eTorque mild hybrid system, which replaces an alternator with a belt-driven motor-generator unit and a 48 volt lithium-ion battery pack. This set-up is responsible for brake energy recuperation and a start-stop function, plus it can deliver additional torque for short periods.

    Other devices further benefit economy too. For instance, there’s an improved deceleration fuel shut-off mechanism and electric power steering is fitted for the first time.

    Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Edition Crew Cab (2019) Dashboard 1Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Edition Crew Cab (2019) Seat Detail

    Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Edition Crew Cab (2019) Door Card DetailRam 1500 Laramie Longhorn Edition Crew Cab (2019) Dashboard 2

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    A jury of more than eighty international motoring journalists has decided the 2018 World Car Awards finalists.

    2018 World Car of the Year

    Significantly, some high-profile models have failed to progress to the next stage. Among the casualties are the Ford Fiesta, Honda Accord, Vauxhall Insignia / Opel Insignia / Buick Regal and Volkswagen Polo.

    Of the remaining candidates, the Nissan Leaf and Kia Stinger should be favourites to ultimately win this category.

    • Alfa Romeo Giulia
    • BMW X3
    • Kia Stinger
    • Land Rover Discovery
    • Land Rover Range Rover Velar
    • Mazda CX-5
    • Nissan Leaf
    • Toyota Camry
    • Volkswagen T-Roc
    • Volvo XC60
    Kia Stinger (2018) Side
    Kia Stinger

    2018 World Luxury Car

    There were only ever five contenders for this prize. Might the sole Japanese representative manage to beat its four German rivals?
    • Audi A8
    • BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo
    • Lexus LS
    • Porsche Cayenne
    • Porsche Panamera
    Lexus LS 500h (2018) Side
    Lexus LS

    2018 World Performance Car

    Hot hatch aficionados will be disappointed to learn that the Hyundai i30N and the Volkswagen Polo GTI have been eliminated. Surprisingly, the Alpine A110 and the Ferrari Portofino didn’t receive enough support to proceed either.
    • Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
    • Audi RS 3 Saloon
    • BMW M5
    • Honda Civic Type R
    • Lexus LC 500
    BMW M5 Saloon (2018) Front Side 1
    BMW M5

    2018 World Urban Car

    This rather unnecessary accolade seems to be focussed on size as a criterion. A higher driving position is in the Hyundai’s favour, but otherwise all of the qualifying cars seem equally suited to a purely urban environment.
    • Ford Fiesta
    • Hyundai Kona
    • Nissan Micra
    • Suzuki Swift
    • Volkswagen Polo
    Suzuki Swift Sport (2018) Front Side
    Suzuki Swift

    2018 World Green Car

    If the pure-electric Nissan Leaf doesn’t defeat its combustion-engined opposition, then there is something seriously wrong with how the best ‘green’ vehicle is determined.
    • BMW 530e iPerformance
    • Chevrolet Cruze Diesel
    • Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
    • Nissan Leaf
    Nissan Leaf (2018) Front Side
    Nissan Leaf

    2018 World Car Design of the Year

    The methodology here is notably different. All eligible cars from the other five awards were automatically entered, then the shortlist below was agreed by a panel of seven design experts from around the globe.
    • Alpine A110
    • Citroën C3 Aircross
    • Land Rover Range Rover Velar
    • Lexus LC 500
    • Volvo XC60
    Volvo XC60 (2018) Side
    Volvo XC60

    Ahead of a 13th of February deadline, the jurors must now test drive the finalists again before taking part in a last ballot. Following that, the top three finalists for each trophy are going to be announced at the Geneva Motor Show on the 6th of March.

    The winners are then due to be revealed at the New York International Auto Show on the 28th of March.

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    Cambridgeshire-based Lister has had a long association with Jaguar. Lawrence Whittaker, CEO of the company, wants the connection to continue via a new collection of modified cars.

    Indeed, he has clearly signalled his aspirations by saying, “Like Brabus and AMG with Mercedes and Alpina with BMW, we are hoping to become synonymous once again with tuning Jaguar vehicles, giving customers new enhanced, bespoke performance and design alternatives to Jaguar’s acclaimed model programme.”

    That strategy’s first manifestation is the Lister Thunder, which will be unveiled at the Historic Motorsport International event in London later this month. Essentially, it’s a Jaguar F-Type with a comprehensive set of upgrades.

    Jaguar F-Type Coupé (Lister Thunder) (2018) Front Side

    Full specifications have yet to be disclosed, but output from the supercharged 5.0 litre V8 engine has been increased from the regular F-Type SVR’s 567 bhp (423 kW / 575 PS) to 666 bhp (496 kW / 675 PS).

    Consequently, the 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time is down from the usual 3.7 seconds to “just over” three seconds. Top speed meanwhile is up by 8 mph (13 km/h) to 208 mph (335 km/h).

    Identifying features include a larger front splitter, additional bonnet vents, unique carbon fibre bumpers and numerous special badges. Inside, there’s a complete re-trim using nappa leather.

    Lister is intending to limit Thunder production to just 99 examples, with prices starting at £139,950. By comparison, an F-Type SVR currently costs from £112,680, so the premium doesn’t appear to be too unreasonable.

    Jaguar F-Type Coupé (Lister Thunder) (2018) InteriorJaguar F-Type Coupé (Lister Thunder) (2018) Rear Side

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    Following the recent unveiling of its 2018 GSX-RR MotoGP bike, Suzuki has confirmed that a replica colour scheme will soon be available for the road-going GSX-R1000 and GSX-R1000R.

    As per previous seasons, the paintwork is predominantly Triton Blue metallic with yellow accents. One notable change for this year is the addition of some subtle black elements.

    Suzuki GSX-R1000R MotoGP Replica (2018) Side

    Suzuki isn’t charging anything extra for the latest MotoGP replicas. Therefore, the GSX-R1000 version has a recommended retail price of £13,599, while the GSX-R1000R alternative costs £16,099.

    Deliveries are due to begin in March.

    Suzuki GSX-RR 2018 Front SideSuzuki GSX-R1000R MotoGP Replica (2018) Front Side

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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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