New Jaguar XE SV Project 8: they're building it!

Jaguar XE SV Project 8

Jaguar has revealed a stunning 600hp 5.0-litre supercharged XE called the XE SV Project 8 – and confirmed it’s actually putting it into production in a limited 300-model run. The car will be the most powerful road legal Jaguar ever. 

Revealed here while undergoing testing at the Nürburgring, the new XE V8 will be the next low-volume project from JLR’s crack SVO department. That’s the division that previously created the 2014 F-Type Project 7; this will be only the second showroom-ready car it’s built. 

Jaguar F-Type Project 7: in pictures

At the moment, Jaguar’s not revealing too much about the car, ahead of its full debut at the 2017 Goodwood Festival of Speed on 30 June. But JLR SVO MD John Edwards does reckon “the time is right for SVO to produce the most extreme performance car in the history of Jaguar.

“Our clients worldwide were thrilled by the F-Type Project 7. The new XE SV Project 8 takes aerodynamics and performance engineering to another level – it is conceived for enthusiasts and the most discerning collectors. The price for such an extreme performance sports car available in strictly limited numbers will reflect that.”

Making this the first £100,000-plus Jaguar XE? 

Jaguar XE SV Project 8: in pictures

From what we can already see of the new super-saloon, it looks like the 600hp XE will pack the styling punch to go with that. Wheelarches are bulging, there’s a massive rear wing and the bonnet also receives a huge central air outlet to help cool that 5.0-litre V8 squeezed in below.

Jaguar’s talking of supercar performance, which these days means a 0-62mph time of around 3.5 seconds, and a top speed, if it’s being bold, of more than 200mph. Suspension, steering and brakes will all be fully upgraded accordingly, and the interior should get an almighty set of sports seats plus the sort of hand-crafted beauty we saw in the F-Type Project 7. 

Watch the video to learn more about the new XE SV Project 8, and get an earful of its V8 bellow. And get your order in now, collectors: this car is real, it’s coming to showrooms soon, and demand for it is going to be off the scale…

Video: Jaguar XE SV Project 8 teased

BMW Concept 8 Series previews new super-coupe

2017 BMW Concept 8 SeriesBMW has revealed a stunning Concept 8 Series preview of the all-new 8 Series Coupe that will reach production within the next year. Reviving a name first used back in 1989, the new BMW 8 Series replaces the 6 Series and is taking the brand’s top-line coupe upmarket to rival the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe.

The Concept 8 Series has been revealed at the 2017 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, a favourite location of BMW for launching fancy show cars. We’ve previously seem models such as the Mini Superleggera Vision and BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage; this time, it’s a more production-intent vehicle, with BMW happy to confirm the Concept 8 Series is “a taster of… the new BMW 8 Series Coupe, slated for launch in 2018”.

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“The number 8 has always represented the pinnacle of sports performance and exclusivity at BMW,” said chairman Harald Krüger. “This will be the next model in the expansion of our luxury car offering and will raise the benchmark for coupes in the segment… [and] will strengthen our claim to leadership in the luxury class.” He’s aiming high with it, in other words.

The BMW Concept 8 Series has been created under the direction of BMW design chief Adrian van Hooydonk. He’s calling it a “full-blooded high-end driving machine,” words that are music to our ears. “It is a luxurious sports car which embodies both unadulterated dynamics and modern luxury like arguably no other. For me, it’s a slice of pure automotive fascination.”

The ultimate driver’s BMW?

2017 BMW Concept 8 Series

What is the BMW Concept 8 Series? “In short, this is a driver’s car,” says van Hooydonk. It will “demonstrate that razor-sharp dynamics and modern luxury can go together,” says Kruger. Sounds like quite the car already.

Designer van Hooydonk reckons it has the stance of a driver’s car: long bonnet, low, flowing roofline and an upward kick at its rearmost end. (That tail, to our eyes, really does look the business.) The side profile is clean, dramatically styled around the outlets of the air curtains, and the rear arches have gloriously voluptuous flaring. BMW’s proud of the fluid-like surfacing it’s achieved with the panels, shown off to their fullest by a greyish-blue paint called Barcelona Grey Liquid that contains iridescent pigment.

Look at that front end. Mean and purposeful isn’t the word – it’s proper BMW attitude, all slim dual headlights and huge great kidney grilles. Like classic BMWs, the kidneys are set into a single frame, forming an unbroken element. You’d swear there were a monstrously powerful engine behind there. Perhaps there is: BMW’s not telling us anything about engines just yet.

The tail is perhaps the most sculptural element of the entire car. The Concept 8 Series is all about making itself seem as wide as possible – see how the tail lamps eat into the rear wheelarches, how the air breather outlets in the rear bumper are so radically exaggerated. BMW’s happy to reveal the Concept 8 Series is rear-wheel drive, as those rear arches “advertise” this; it also reckons the trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes also “point to the dynamic driving experience to come,” although personally we’ve never heard of keen drivers using exhaust shape as an indicator of steering feel and chassis balance. Maybe it’s just us.  

Inside, it’s properly driver-focused, says BMW. Although it hasn’t yet shown us what it is like inside, so we’ll just have to guess. Or wait for the updates when they come from Villa d’Este.

BMW promises the production 8 Series will launch “in a similar form” to this in the coming year. It will add “a genuine dream car” to its existing model line-up. The new car “will bring together razor-sharp dynamics and modern luxury, and set new benchmarks in the luxury coupe segment.” So what are your bets – Frankfurt Motor Show debut in the autumn, or the LA Auto Show in early December?

The original BMW 8 Series

Original BMW 8 Series

The original BMW 8 Series was first launched back in 1989, with UK deliveries beginning in 1990. It was an enormously sophisticated car for the time, with the price tag to match, serving as a proper top-end luxury coupe arguably before the market was quite ready for such a machine. These days, it’s a familiar concept: Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe, Bentley Continental GT, Aston Martin DB11. Back then, it was a little bit more of a leap.

Original BMW 8 Series

BMW spent a billion Deutschmarks on developing the 8 Series, which gives you an idea of how advanced it was. This was the first road car to have CAN bus multiplex wiring, boasted an ultra-slippery drag factor, a whopping great V12 engine option you could even pair to a six-speed manual gearbox. It was ludicrously complex… and launched straight into the global recession of the early 1990s. Drat.

In its decade on sale, BMW sold just over 31,000 8 Series, and didn’t even do the inevitable and launch an M8 version – it got as far as the prototype stage, but BMW realised the 8 Series was never going to be a big seller, so canned it in 1991. It’s taken until now for the hangover to lift, and for BMW to remember once again what a tremendous car the 8 Series was. Next year, it’s coming back at last. We can’t wait to find out just how wonderful this six-figure range-topping BMW is going to be.

BMW Concept 8 Series: in pictures

Volkswagen Up GTI revealed at Worthersee

Volkswagen Up GTI revealed at Worthersee

Volkswagen has revealed a near-production concept of its new junior hot hatch, the Up GTI, at the annual GTI festival at Worthersee, Austria.

Producing 115hp from its 1.0-litre three-pot turbo engine, the Up GTI might not sound like the hottest of hatches. VW’s keen to draw links with the original Mk1 Golf GTI, however, which packed 110hp and weighed just 810kg. The Up GTI is set to weigh 997kg.

The new baby GTI will hit 62mph in 8.8 seconds (0.2 seconds quicker than the original Golf GTI) and is good for a top speed of 122mph. Its ride height has been dropped by 15mm, while a spoiler has been fitted to increase downforce (and definitely not just for appearance…).

Cosmetically, it gets all the GTI treatment. So, there’s a red stripe beneath the honeycomb radiator grille, while the door mirrors are finished in black. The Up GTI sits on 17-inch alloys and will be available in a choice of red, white, silver and black colours – as well as a new shade of blue bespoke for the GTI.

Pushing the link with the original GTI, Volkswagen says the Up is similar in size inside to the Mk1 Golf. Indeed, VW’s city car is sharing a stage with a mint example of a Mk1 at Worthersee. The Up’s interior features a leather-trimmed sport steering wheel, a GTI gear knob and the iconic tartan cloth seat pattern.

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Buyers will be given a choice between three- and five-door models when the Up GTI goes on sale in 2018. Prices for the production version are yet to be confirmed, but expect it to come in at around £14,000.

'Crash risk' F1 poster returns to Monaco

F1 Monaco 2017 Martini posterBack in 2009, F1 bosses were forced to take down a poster advertising Martini because the drivers said it was distracting them. Lewis Hamilton actually crashed during qualifying on Saturday, just after passing the poster, which featured Californian model Jessiqa Pace.

“Every time you passed her, it was as though she was looking right at you,” said Jenson Button at the time. Other drivers insisted it be removed because they were unable to concentrate. 

F1 Monaco 2017 Martini poster

Pace was understanding. “Obviously it’s very flattering that I’m distracting the drivers so much, but I’d feel terrible if someone got hurt,” she said. So it was moved. 

But now, for 2017, the infamous billboard is back. Luckily, next to the Monaco circuit heliport, rather than just before the tunnel down at the Lowes Hairpin. Helicopter passengers will be distracted by it, rather than the drivers. 

Nothing like a bit of notoriety to help something go viral, huh? Martini’s even produced a video, in which it speaks with F1 racers such as Felipe Massa and Mark Webber about the banned billboard. And yes, Jessiqa Pace herself was back in Monaco to help reveal the poster, and once again soak up the satisfaction of being the lady who made Lewis Hamilton crash. 

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Paul Hollywood sent to Coventry with a BTCC car

Paul Hollywood to drive BTCC carGreat British Bake-Off judge Paul Hollywood is to drive a race-ready British Touring Car Championship Vauxhall Astra at Coventry Motofest next month, after agreeing a deal with crack racing team Power Maxed Racing.

Hollywood will drive the turbocharged BTCC car on the Motofest sprint circuit during the event, running on 3-4 June, sharing the car with team boss Adam Weaver. The car will come fresh from the 2017 BTCC circuit after already scoring points and fastest laps in the team’s debut season.

Indeed, the car scored a podium in the hands of regular driver Senna Proctor during the most recent BTCC round at Thruxton last weekend. Luckily, Hollywood is no beginner racer. He has actually raced in the British GT championship, and was formerly part of the title-winning Beechdean Aston Martin team. 

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“When Paul takes to the track, he will be following in the tyre tracks of our previous celebrity drivers which include Red Dwarf’s Robert Llewellyn and actor Rupert Grint’s rally driver brother James, all of whose participation shows the profile Coventry Motofest now enjoys as an event,” said festival director James Noble. 

He adds the channel-hopping Bake-Off star won’t be the only attraction at Motofest 2017, either. As ever, multiple pop-up showcases and demonstration events will be taking place in what organisers say is now the largest free motorsport festival and automotive fringe event in the UK.

Volvo owner Geely buys Proton and Lotus

Proton Gen2Under-pressure Malaysian car firm Proton’s future has finally been secured after Geely Holding agreed to buy a stake in the firm after pipping PSA Peugeot-Citroen to make the winning bid. The deal is good news for British sports car enthusiasts because Proton owner DRB-Hicom also controls Lotus Cars – and Geely’s completed a full takeover of it. 

The deal is expected to be finalised today (Wednesday 24 May); in advance of it, DRB-Hicom shares have been suspended on the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange. 

Proton sales have been under pressure for some time and the firm’s two Malaysian factories are currently operating well below their capacity of 400,000 cars. Insiders say Geely’s first priority will be re-establishing Proton in right-hand drive markets such as the UK, Australia, India and its home market of Malaysia. Platform and technology-sharing with Geely cars and SUVs is expected to accelerate this turnaround. 

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For Lotus, the news will be excellent: the Norfolk firm will be looking positively at what Geely stewardship has done for Volvo Cars. After the downfall of Dany Bahar, current boss Jean-Marc Gales has stabilised the company, returned it to profitability and even begun development of an all-new Lotus Elise for 2020. Extra investment from Geely can only be a good thing here. 

Might Lotus finally become the genuine British sports car alternative to Porsche, maybe even Ferrari, that was Bahar’s vision all those years ago? We shall watch with great interest. 

Oh, and keep our fingers crossed for a new Volvo-themed Lotus performance special…

Hybrid Volkswagen Golf GTI at Worthersee 2017

Volkswagen hits Lake Worthersee with hybrid Golf GTI

If this hybrid Golf is anything to go by, performance fans needn’t be worried about the future of the GTI brand in an era of post-Dieselgate cost cutting. Making its debut at the GTI fest that is Worthersee 2017, the Golf GTI First Decade combines a 410hp petrol engine with a 12kW electric motor.

It’s the work of 18 to 23-year-old apprentices at Volkswagen and is the latest of 10 show cars revealed at the Austrian lake-side extravaganza since 2008.

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The First Decade’s clever hybrid system can be operated in three different ways. Drivers can opt for rear-drive electric-only mode, or switch to front-wheel-drive petrol running. For ultimate traction (and performance), the two powertrains can work together as a four-wheel-drive hybrid. Interestingly, the different modes can be selected remotely using an app or via the car’s infotainment display.

Even by the vee-dub-crazy standards of Worthersee, the First Decade is sure to stand out – with Atlantic Blue paintwork and large patches of dark blue foil. A Clubsport rear spoiler completes the bold look, along with 20-inch alloy wheels.

Inside, there are just two seats. Both of these can be moved using a phone app, along with clever massage functions. Replacing the rear seats is, why, a high-end 1,690-watt 11-speaker sound system.

If one quirky concept wasn’t enough for this modified car show, Volkswagen is taking a second concept to Worthersee. The GTE estate Impulse is the work of 14 apprentices from the Zwickau vehicle plant, and uses a prototype battery with an impressive 16.8 kWh capacity.

Volkswagen hits Lake Worthersee with hybrid Golf GTI

Competing for attention with the GTI First Decade on VW’s stand, the Impulse features a five-tone matt paint scheme made up of a variety of colours. Inside, animated lighting can be controlled using a mobile phone app.

We’ll be seeing both Volkswagen concepts at Worthersee 2017 over the coming days, where Motoring Research will be reporting live with all the GTI news and latest pictures.

The Ford Mustang is the most popular sports car in the world

The Ford Mustang is the most popular sports car in the world

It’s long been North America’s favourite sports car, but the Ford Mustang’s launch in Europe means it’s now the best-selling sports car in the world.

That’s according to analysis of global new vehicle registration data by IHS Market, which revealed that more than 150,000 Mustangs were sold around the world in 2016, putting it in the number one position ahead of the likes of the Mazda MX-5 and Porsche 911. The firm found that global Mustang sales increased by 6% in 2016, with non-US market growth up 101%. Almost 45,000 Mustangs were sold outside of North America last year.

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More than 4,500 Mustangs have been sold in the UK since it was launched late in 2015, with 3,250 sold during its first full year on sale. That makes it ‘comfortably’ the most popular sports cars with more than 250hp, says Ford.

“From the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean, the Ford Mustang has topped the sports car sales charts in markets across Europe,” said Roelant de Waard, Ford of Europe’s vice president, marketing, sales & service. “European customers continue to play a significant role in the global success of Mustang. The iconic sports car’s popularity with drivers of all ages and backgrounds shows no sign of waning – we sold 3,600 Mustangs in the region during the first three months of 2017.”

The firm says outside of the UK, the Mustang is proving popular in new markets such as Germany and China.

European buyers get a choice of a 421hp 5.0-litre V8 or 317hp 2.3‑litre EcoBoost engine, and six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. Soon after the Mustang’s launch, Ford revealed that around 70% of UK sales were the larger V8 engine.