Geneva 2017: Alpine A110

Another update from the Geneva 2017 motorshow: the reincarnation of the Alpine-brand! Not to be confused with Alpina, the BMW-tuner specialized in modest improvements of well known Bimmers as the 3- and 5 series, Alpine was a small French sportscar brand which stopped production in 1995. It’s wholly owned by Renault, and that company decided it was about time we had a small affordable sportscar once again. And we couldn’t agree more.

Because right now, that particular segment of the car market does not really exist. Sure, we have the Mazda MX-5 (Miata), the Audi TT, and the Subaru BRZ. But those cars only go certain lengths to prove their sportiness. When you want something more hardcore, your only option is the Alfa Romeo 4C, a car that still costs around 60 grand (Euros) and is hard to buy due to limited production. The new Alpine, called A110, will battle to bring a sportier experience to more drivers, effectively lowering the bar to drive something really nice, which is a great idea.

So how does the ‘new’ Alpine change from the ‘old’? As far as we know from Geneva, not that much. The car will be built in the original Alpine factory in Dieppe, and sticks to its roots when it comes to important traits like total weight, driving experience, and price point. Design wise, it maintains its characteristic headlights and the quirky rear window, which makes it easy recognizable. Unfortunately, we don’t have adequate interior pictures as of now.

The A110 is powered by a newly developed 1.8 litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol plant, sporting 250hp and 320 Nm of torque. Due to its low weight at 1080 kg, acceleration from 0-100 kph is only 4.5 seconds, with a top speed of 250kph. These numbers resemble those of competitor Alfa 4C, which also sports a 1.8 litre turbocharged engine (officially named 1.75 TBi – TurboBenzina) and has similar acceleration.

Production will start later this year for a select group of countries (France as well). The first run will only exist of 1955 units, all in the Premiere Edition with extras as the blue paint job, 18 inch alloys, carbon accents in the interior, and a numbered plaque. There is a fixed price of €58.500 in France. We hope prices will drop to around 50k for mass production at a later point.

Of course, we from AutoExperience would love to visit Dieppe and drive with the A110 ourselves when the opportunity arises..

Geneva 2017: Audi RS5 Coupe

We at AutoExperience already dedicated some words to the new A4/A5 cars from the well known manufacturer based in Ingolstadt, Germany. But today things got more exciting, because Audi brought its RS (rennsport) version of the new A5 to Geneva.

(Are you a Dutch Audi dealership and interested in a review (including pictures) of the new A5/S5/RS5 by us, which will of course be published online, let us know!)

To start with our opinion on the cars design: we are impressed. Where the regular A5 and even the S5 were a bit tame and missed the brute presence of the previous A5, this RS model by Quattro GmbH does everything right by combining the beautiful timeless design of the regular A5 with some powerful extras. The black carbon front splitter, skirts, and smoked headlights are some of these. The extra ‘mini-intake’ left and right from the center grille is an attractive sporty extra with makes it easy identifiable as an RS5.

The interior gets similar treatment: Various carbon elements, beautiful quilted leather with a red / black theme, and a very tasty alcantara steering wheel which you want to grap just from the pictures only. Combine this with what already was the nicest interior in a D-segment car and the overall impression is very good.

Engine-wise, we have a 2.9 litre V6 with two turbo’s. The powerplant produces an impressive 450hp and 600Nm of torque. This is more than the 4.2 V8 which was present in earlier renditions of the RS4 and RS5. Acceleration to 100 kph is below 4 seconds and with the optional Performance package top speed is limited at 280 kph.

The car will probably available later this year (2H2017) and will cost roughly the same as competitors like the BMW M4 and the fresh Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio (90-120k, depending which country you live due to taxes).

 

 

Geneva 2017: McLaren 720S

The British car maker from Woking launched the first car of its all-new line-up, the 720S!

 

McLaren made huge progress since the introduction of the MP4-12C, which marked the relaunch of the brand earlier only known from the legendary McLaren F1. Since the 12C, they set out a strategy where their new cars would fall in different categories, namely the Sport series, GT series, Super series, and Hyper series. Sport series is entry level, with the 540C. Sport in this case being a relative term, because the 540C is comparable to other high volume supercars like Ferrari 488GTB and Lamborghini Huracan. The 570GT focuses more on luxury than raw performance and the 650S is the main model of the Super Series, and the predecessor of this new 720S. A step higher on the ladder is the 675 LT, also as Spider, which is more exclusive and even faster. Top of the line is a true hypercar to the likes of the LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder, called the McLaren P1. In all these segments, ranging from roughly 200.000 euros to more than a million for the P1, McLaren has proved to be very competitive.

Where the early cars since the relaunch like the 12C and 570S (650S predecessor) had relatively traditional design, this new 720S is a different story entirely. McLaren definitely wants to distinguish from Porsche and Ferrari with more futuristic design, which can be clearly observed from the otherworldly designed headlights / air intakes. The difference with Lamborghini is that McLarens make abundant use of curved lines, where the cars from Sant’Agata are known for their sharp lines and edges.

The picture above shows another proof of this futurism, with a door construction similar to both a Lamborghini’s take on the scissor door and the Falcon Wings on the Tesla Model X. The idea behind it is a more convenient entry for driver and passenger.

Engine wise, McLaren had the idea to never change a winning team. The V8 is slightly larger with 4 litres instead of 3.8, but still sports dual turbos for a whopping 720hp in total. This is more than the previous top model of the super series, the 675LT. These figures cause hypercar-like acceleration of 0-100 kph in 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 341 kph.

McLaren also decided to overhaul the interior, with a newly designed carbon fiber monocoque, new button layout, and better infotainment. Most interesting is a new ’tiltable’ instrument cluster, which can be used in dual mode. Restricted mode shows only a horizontal rev counter and digital speed, where the full mode shows a larger full color TFT with more extensive information in a more graphical way.

Pre-orders for the new 720S will probably start very soon, with deliveries expected from Q3 2017. Prices will be probably between the 650S and 675LT.

 

 

 

Geneva 2017: All New Volvo XC60

Our second highlight of the Geneva Motorshow is the all-new Volvo XC60. Building on the great reviews of the new 90-series (S90/V90/XC90) the XC60 will bring similar design and build quality to the 60-series, with the new S60 and V60 due for unveiling in 2H2017.

While unmistakably a little brother to the XC90, the new XC60 remains also traits of its predecessor, like the strong bodywork and the high tailgate. Released pictures show a different front for regular and R-Design models, with the latter having larger air intakes and a ‘dotted’ front grille (seen in the picture above).

Built on the same SPA-platform as the 90-series, the car’s dimensions look very mature for a premium D-segment SUV. When compared to the new Q5, the XC60 seems quite a bit larger. It has to been to what extent that also translates to decent space for back passengers (a weak point of current 60-series) and a large boot (a favourite among Volvo fans).

Seen at the blue model in the pictures below, the R-Design can be fitted with additional plastic accents on the front and rear, apart from a diffuser. The latest rendition of the Thors Hammer headlights differ a bit in the sense they now protrude the rest of the light units and connect with the grille, in a similar way the BMW 3-series does.

We’re also particularly satisfied with the interior. It bears large resemblance to the 90-series, like the use of modern wood, high quality leather, digital instrument clusters, and a large vertical entertainment system. But at the same time it takes things a step further, with the wood trim line flowing under the large screen, enclosing the metal air vents, giving the car a much more modern and sharpish look (when compared to the plump XC90), in line with earlier concept cars from Volvo (like the Concept Estate). The optional R-Design steering wheel also looks stronger, which is good (the standard wheel has something weak / soft over it, in our opinion).

Engine wise, there is less news. All the engines currently available on the 90-series will make it to the XC60. These are the T5 and T6 petrol variants, D4 and D5 diesel, and T8 plugin-hybrid. Cheaper options like a T4 petrol and D3 diesel are expected later this year. We at AutoExperience also hope a more affordable plugin-hybrid will make it to the line-up, since the T8 top model is out of range for a lot of consumers, and government tax credits for hybrid cars in more European countries being abolished. Prices are expected to start around 50 grand (in Euro) for T5 and D4 models.

Geneva 2017: ItalDesign Zerouno

It’s Volkswagen Group night in Swiss Geneva, which means we get to see which niceties the European concern has in store for us this year. There is a lot; and we from AutoExperience will bring you all the highlights. Starting with a very special car from the ItalDesign studio, usually only known from designing for other brands, but now having their real own car.

The all new Zerouno looks like a combination of the rarest Lamborghini’s (Veneno, Centenario) and something that originated in the multiplayer of Grand Theft Auto V. Still, it’s a real car with real specs and an unreal price.

The idea behind the ItalDesign cars is that are to be very exclusive in numbers, only a few of this particular one will be build. However, they use components also seen on other VAG products. The Zerouno makes heavy use of carbon fibre, as expected, and uses the well known 5.2 litre V10 also seen in the Lambo Huracan and Audi R8.

Performance wise, the car is not designed to be a contender to the Bugatti Chiron, but it will be definitely be more rare, with only 5 cars planned for now. Prices are unknown yet, but are expected to lie between 500.000 and one million dollars.

 

 

 

A Most Ridiculous Cabrio

In a world where every single Facebook user gets spammed by commercials of Supercells ‘award-winning’ mobile game, Clash Royale, there also seems to be enough quirkyness in entirely different areas of the market, like the automotive industry.

And therefore.. Meet the *leaked* Mercedes Benz G650 Cabriolet LWB. Packing extravagant looks and a gas-guzzling V12 with at least 500hp, 800Nm, and nature-defying acceleration. You say; Mercedes had convertible variants of the G-wagon before? True, but those were all based on the short wheel based version (SWB). An example is the G500 Cabriolet Final Edition from 2013, which we conveniently left below.

And in a world where Mercedes seems to have fun launching all kinds of ridiculous variants of the G-Class like the 4×4^2 and the 6×6 (also as G63 AMG), a really monstrous cabrio was dearly missed. Or so it seems.

Video: http://www.autojunk.nl/2017/02/mercedes-maybach-g-650-cabriolet

There still seems to be some discussion about the final name of the product, since Maybach badges are apparently present on the car. Therefore, it could be called something like Mercedes-Maybach G650 Cabriolet, which is in line with Stuttgart’s naming conventions. We also noted that the behemoth borrowed some parts of the 4×4^2, which causes it to have even more ground clearance than a standard G. Speaking about that particular car, which looks like a standard G500 tried to have babies with a Unimog, we found this really nic pic of it:

Unfortunately no official information from Mercedes as of yet.

 

BMW 5-series Touring (G31)

Last week, Bavarian carmaker BMW announced the estate version of its new E-segment car, the 5 series. Along with the new variant came additional engines to the line-up, including some more powerful options.

In general; BMW likes to receive a €2500 premium for the estate over the regular sedan version. In exchange, you get up to 1700 liters of boot space, which is more than competitors like the Audi A6 and Volvo V90 offer. It is also possible to get the rear window to open separately from the rest of the trunk door for added practicality.

Design-wise, we are very happy with the job BMW’s designers did on the new rear end. It looks very strong and muscular (especially with the optional M package shown above) without becoming too arrogant and lumpish.

Engine-wise, BMW is kicking things off with the 520d 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel plant, sporting 190 hp and theoretically very nice mpg at 3.9l per 100km. MSRP will be around 55-60 grand, depending on the country you live in. If you demand a cheaper petrol powered variant, there is the 520i (4-cyl, 190hp) for roughly the same price.

One step higher comes BMWs hybrid option, the 530e iPerformance. It has the same powertrain as the 330e (4-cyl petrol + electric) and a combined power output of 252hp. It will start at 60-65k. It is also possible to get that same power figure from a non-hybrid engine in the form of the 530i (4-cyl turbocharged petrol) for a comparable price.

Opting for a good ol’ six-cylinder (BMW still has them, fortunately) is possible with the 540i and 530d. First one has 340hp and sets you back at least 67k, the diesel option manages 265hp and will need around 75k. It’s more expensive because of the standard xDrive AWD system (which can also be had with most other engine options for a premium of around 5 grand).

Top of the line until the arrival of the M5 is the M550i xDrive, boasting a real turbocharged V8 with 462hp and 650Nm of torque. It is faster than the M5 of the F10 generation with acceleration from 0-100 kph just below 4 seconds. Because of carbon taxes, prices will differ a lot per country, but are expected to be in the range of 85-120 thousand Euro.

A little extra for interested buyers; BMW decided to bring in automatic transmissions (Steptronic) standard on all models apart from the 520i. The former optional Executive package is also stock on the new G30/31 generation.

 

 

2016’s LEAST sold supercars

When reading up on the many automotive statistics that generally surface around the end of the calendar year, one specific list came to our attention. It contains a table with the LEAST sold supercars in the Netherlands in 2016.

Actually, it is even possible to divide between supercars that were bought by only a few, and supercars that were bought by NONE. In this last category, we find:

  • Aston Martin Rapide & Aston Martin V12 Vantage
  • Ferrari’s 458 Italia and FF
  • Maserati GranTurismo
  • Porsche 918 Spyder

The Porker 918 being unsold is not so much of a surprise; the car is very exclusive and is only being produced and sold in very low numbers. However, we don’t really agree with the Aston V12 Vantage and the Ferrari FF, since we think they are great. Therefore, let’s at least honor them with a nice photographical mentioning:

Then, there are the supercars being only sold once or twice. These include:

  • Audi RS7
  • Lexus RC-F
  • Lotus Elise / Exige (2 and 1)
  • Morgan Aero8
  • Nissan GT-R
  • Bentley Mulsanne
  • Corvette

Particularly surprised were we by the low numbers of relatively common or cheaper sportscars, like the Audi RS7 (a blast among professional soccer players), the Lotus duo (cheap in the Netherlands because four cylinder engines), and the Nissan GT-R (not that rare on the Dutch streets). These number imply that cars like the Lamborghini Huracan and Aventador were sold MORE. Same for ALL the Rolls Royces except the Phantom. Even the McLaren 675LT was sold FIVE times in the Netherlands in 2016. Strange numbers indeed.

At last, a pic of the epic Morgan Aero 8 (supersports edition):

credits for Autoblog.nl for publishing the list (http://www.autoblog.nl/nieuws/dit-zijn-de-minst-verkochte-supercars-van-2016-94585)

 

 

Volvo 960: Youngtimer of the Week

New series on AutoExperience: Every week one of our editors picks a car not older than 30 or newer than 10 years and publishes stats and some nice pictures.

Volvo is kicking things off with its very characterstic 960:

  • Built from 1990 to 1998
  • Successor of the 740 and upmarket brother of the 940
  • In the last two production years sold as the S90 and V90 (depending on saloon or estate)
  • Signature-smooth 3.0 Inline-Six 24V DOHC engine with 204 hp / 270 Nm
  • Curb weight at least 1560kg
  • 0-100 in 9.1s / limited top speed of 210 km/h
  • Base price from $34.000 for MY96

Upcoming: Seat Ateca Review

We at AutoExperience are very happy with the absolute surge in view numbers for our latest test / review article with the all-new Citroen C3. Since you as a reader seem to appreciate content like that; we are already preparing more.

ateca1

For our next test, we are planning to drive the new Seat Ateca. the Ateca is very important car for the (originally) Spanisch carmakers since it’s their first real SUV. It operates in the same segment as the Volkswagen Tiguan, with which it also shares quite some parts and engines. In order to get you prepared for the things to come; we went through the online configurator (http://configurator.seat.nl/ateca) and assembled the following setup.

ateca2.PNG

Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI (150) Style – €31.235 (Dutch MSRP)

  • ‘Samoa Orange’ (metallic) €650
  • 17″ ‘Bicolour Dynamic’ alloys €390
  • Top speed 205 kp/h
  • 0-100 in 8.5 sec
  • 250Nm of torque
  • Six speed manual
  • Consumption 1:18.8

Style included options:

  • Cruise controle
  • Electronic differentials (XDS)
  • Leather wrapped steering wheel
  • Front fog lights
  • Climate controle
  • Infotainment ‘Colour Plus’ (7″ touchscreen)
  • PDC rear
  • Alu accents front and rear bumpers

ateca3.PNG

Extra options:

  • ‘Style’ Alcantara sports seats €450
  • ‘Upgrade Professional 1’ (8″ satnav / light+rain sensors / auto dimming mirror / rearview camera / privacy glass) €690
  • ‘Upgrade Technology 1’ (ACC / LDWS / AHB / RSI) €650
  • ‘Upgrade Sound’ (10 speakers incl. subwoofer) €390
  • ‘Upgrade Winter’ (heated front seats + mirrors + headlights) €390
  • Seat ‘Drive Profile’ €190
  • Heated Windscreen €190

€34.535