The best new cars at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

The 2019 Geneva International Motor Show is underway, packed with the usual array of hot new cars, crazy concepts, extreme supercars and next-generation EVs. We’ve elbowed our way to the front of each stand, avoiding the wheeled flight bags, to bring you all the important cars from the 2019 show.

Pininfarina Battista

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

The Pininfarina Battista produces 1,900hp, is faster than a Formula 1 car from 0-60mph, and will travel almost 280 miles on a single charge. Only 150 will be built, each one carrying a rumoured £2 million price tag. And if that’s not all, this electric hypercar will hit 218mph, if you’re not too concerned about preserving that electric range. It’s a line in the sand for the automotive industry and without question one of the stars of Geneva 2019.

Morgan Plus Six

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

The Morgan Plus Six is a brand new car from the ground up, built on an advanced bonded aluminium platform called the Morgan CX generation. It weighs barely more than one tonne and is powered by the 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine found in the new BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra. Morgan is taking orders at the show – prices start from £77,995. We want one.

Honda E Prototype

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

You can keep your million-dollar supercars and Nurburgring-taming SUVs, because this is one of the stars of the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. It’s every bit as adorable as the 2017 Urban EV Concept and is set to become one of the most sought-after EVs on the market. Honda is promising a range of over 200km (124 miles) and a fast charge functionality of 80 percent battery charge in just 30 minutes. Production will begin later this year.

Bugatti La Voiture Noire

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

Meet the most expensive new car of all time: the Bugatti La Voiture Noire. And before you ask, somebody has already paid the €11 million (£9.45 million) before tax price tag. The one-off creation pays homage to the Type 57 SC Atlantic and is powered by an 8.0-litre 16-cylinder engine developing 1,500hp. “Our history is both a privilege and a responsibility – the responsibility for continuing the Bugatti heritage into the future. With ‘La Voiture Noire’, we are paying homage to our heritage and bringing speed, technology, luxury and aesthetics forward to a new era,” said Bugatti president Stephan Winkelmann.

Polestar 2

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

Perhaps it would be a little harsh to say that the Polestar 2 isn’t as visually alluring as the Polestar 1, but that’s how we feel. However, with an eventual price tag of €39,900 (£34,000), five doors, and right-hand-drive production, this electric fastback is more relevant than the one Polestar made earlier. The company is targeting a range of 500km (311 miles), with a 408hp powertrain delivering a 0-62mph time of five seconds.

Peugeot 208

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

In terms of pure sales, this is one of the most significant new cars at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. The Peugeot 208 range will include, from launch, an all-electric e-208 capable of a range of more than 200 miles. Three petrol engines and a diesel will be offered, with the 208 offering a premium interior with the now familiar i-Cockpit. The best supermini on the market? We think so.

Audi Q4 e-tron concept

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

The Q4 e-tron concept previews the fifth fully-electric model to join the Audi range and packs two electric motors to deliver 225kW of power. As a result, it’ll rush from zero to 62mph in 6.3 seconds before hitting a top speed of 111mph. Even more impressive is the WLTP range of 279 miles. In terms of size, if you imagine a slightly larger Audi Q3, you won’t be too far wide of the mark.

Skoda Vision iV

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

The Vision iV is the first Skoda to be based on Volkswagen Group’s MEB modular electric car platform and previews the company’s first production EV. The coupe-SUV features two electric motors – one on the front axle and one on the rear – to give the Vision iV all-wheel-drive. A total output of 306hp is distributed to the wheels depending on requirements, with the battery pack offering up to 310 miles of range.

Volkswagen I.D. Buggy

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

As if to prove that it will be possible to have fun in an electrified future, the Volkswagen Dune Buggy concept goes back to the future, paying homage to the dune buggies of the 60s and 70s. Like its forebears, the concept has no roof or doors, but it does have large wheels and off-road tyres. Crucially, it’s based on VW’s modular electric drive matrix (MEB) platform – there’s no Beetle chassis to be found here. Although the concept is a pure two-seater, it can also be converted to a 2+2-seater.

Ferrari F8 Tributo

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

The Ferrari F8 Tributo is powered by a 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine producing 710hp – matching the 488 Pista, but 50hp up on the 488 GTB. It’s also 49kg lighter than the 488 it replaces, with the new body improving aero efficiency by 10 percent. We love the louvred engine window at the rear – a possible nod to the F40.

Aston Martin Vanquish Vision Concept

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

Few were expecting Aston Martin to reveal a second concept at Geneva 2019, but the Vanquish Vision Concept is a big deal for the brand – not to mention a potential headache for the competition. The new Vanquish will be a “transformational moment for the brand… the car that will propel Aston Martin into a sector of the market traditionally seen as the heartland of luxury sports cars,” said president and CEO Andy Palmer. Make no mistake, the new Vanquish should lead to a few sleepless nights at McLaren and Ferrari.

Alfa Romeo Tonale

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

Alfa Romeo sprung a surprise when it unveiled the stylish Tonale SUV. Alfa’s first mid-size plug-in hybrid SUV is based on the same platform as the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X, and will enter the highly competitive compact SUV segment. There’s no word on specifications, but if the production version looks this good, it will shoot to the top of the class in the styling department.

Fiat Concept Centoventi

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

Say hello to the new Fiat Panda! Officially, the Concept Centoventi is a celebration of 120 years of Fiat, but it’s also one giant preview of the next-generation Panda. The highly customisable concept will offer 62 miles of electric range in its most basic form, but customers can purchase or rent additional batteries to increase this to 310 miles. Produced in just one colour, it can be ‘painted’ by the customer with a choice of four roofs, four bumpers, four-wheel covers and four external wrappings. Fiat claims it will be the least expensive battery electric car (BEV) on the market.

Lagonda All-Terrain Concept

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

We suspect Aston Martin will have great fun with its Lagonda brand, rolling out a succession of OTT electric and autonomous playthings. The All-Terrain Concept represents the shape of things to come – an ultra-stylish, fully electric emission-free vehicle that’s more shooting brake than SUV. Sadly, we’ll have to wait until 2022 before we can get our hands on Lagonda’s vision of the future.

Kia ‘Imagine by Kia’

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

The Kia ‘Imagine by Kia’ is an all-electric concept that is a “visual embodiment of Kia’s desire to move forward in the exciting world of electrification”. The ‘tiger nose grille’ has evolved into an illuminated ‘tiger mask’, which “could potentially be deployed as a unifying design element across Kia’s future electric vehicle range,” said Gregory Guillaume, vice president of design for Kia Motors Europe. The interior is wonderfully OTT, looking like something out of Flash Gordon. Cool thing, mind.

Nissan IMQ concept

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

Nissan hasn’t mentioned the Qashqai in the press material for the IMQ concept vehicle, but we reckon the Q is there to tip the hat to the hugely popular crossover. ‘IM’ stands for Intelligent Mobility – the brand’s vision for the future of automotive transportation. Which means the IMQ is 100 percent electric and equipped with an advanced version of Nissan’s Propilot driving assistance system, tweaked to offer autonomous driving capability. Ladies and gentlemen, your new Nissan Qashqai has arrived.

Aston Martin AM-RB 003

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

The Aston Martin Project 003 has a codename: AM-RB 003. Developed in partnership with Red Bull Racing, the ‘son of Valkyrie’ will be powered by a new hybrid turbocharged V6 engine and made fully from carbon fibre. Inside, the AM-RB 003 boasts ‘Apex Ergonomics’, which is said to perfectly align the centreline of the driver’s back with the steering wheel and pedals. If you fancy one, get your name down quick, because just 500 will be built.

SEAT Minimo

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

According to Seat, the Minimo could represent the future of shared mobility services. The quadricycle offers a claimed range of 62 miles, with Seat proposing a battery-swap system to reduce charging times. It’s a funky little thing, but there are only two names on the lips of everyone on the Seat stand – ‘Renault’ and ‘Twizy’.

Mercedes-Benz Concept EQV

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

Mercedes is billing the Concept EQV as the world’s first electric MPV and says that the concept in Geneva is close to production-ready. It’s based on the V-Class and can seat up to eight, with Mercedes promising a range of up to 249 miles. Crucially, a fast charger delivers 62 miles of range from just 15 minutes of charging.

Koenigsegg Jesko

Geneva Motor Show 2019 all the cars

If you’re still with us, thank you. As a reward, here’s the Koenigsegg Jesko, a hypercar named after Christian von Koenigsegg’s father. The Agera RS successor is powered by a redesigned 5.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine producing 1,280hp using standard petrol and 1,600hp on E85 biofuel. The figures are incredible: 1,000kg of downforce at 170mph and a kerbweight of just 1,420kg. As the top speed – Koenigsegg is targeting 300mph. Blimey.


New Bugatti La Voiture Noire is the most expensive new car ever

Bugatti La Voiture Noir

Few marques have licence to build and sell ‘the most expensive car in the world’. Of all, it is perhaps Bugatti you’d most expect to aim so high.

Now, at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, it’s done just that, with the one-off £12 million La Voiture Noire.

The story of La Voiture Noire

Bugatti La Voiture Noir

La Voiture Noire owes its name, and its existence, to a tale of lost treasures fit for an Indiana Jones movie.

This car pays tribute to the Type 57 SC Atlantic – a classic car that almost transcends monetary value. Unless you have many, many millions and the bargaining power to convince the likes of Ralph Lauren to give up the keys, you’re not getting one.

The new La Voiture Noire refers to a different Atlantic, however. Jean Bugatti’s personal car that was lost in the throes of World War Two, never to be found again. ‘The Black Car’ pays tribute to that legendary lost chassis.

A Chiron with a body kit?

Bugatti La Voiture Noir

If you were being crass, you could call it that. The basis is very much the Chiron, 1,500hp quad-turbo W16 included. The Noir appears to be extended by comparison, however, with that long sprawling nose aping the elegant Atlantic. At the front, there are more than a few hints of the track-prepared Bugatti Divo, too.

It’s at the back, however, where the Noir is truly distinctive. Six exhausts dominate an aggressive rear end, with ‘Bugatti’ emblazoned and glowing above. A distinctive light strip follows the line at the top, not looking entirely dissimilar to the McLaren P1.

Bugatti La Voiture Noir

On top, the open-engine setup of the Chiron is gone, with a smoother Atlantic-aping closed rear end. The engine cover is perforated to allow hot air to escape. The wheels are a distinctive new design and the cabin, unseen as yet, has likely gone through significant changes of its own.

As for who bought it? Company boss Stephen Winkelmann calls the buyer ‘a Bugatti enthusiast’. There have been rumours that it’s former VW head honcho, Ferdinand Piech.

However,  like the location of that lost Atlantic, we suspect the lucky custodian’s identity will remain the stuff of legend.

The Winkelmann factor

Bugatti La Voiture Noir

When he was the boss at Lamborghini, Stephen Winkelman made a point of pushing limited-run specialist cars.

Now he’s heading up Bugatti, we’re getting the same with the Divo and La Voiture Noir. We sincerely hope there are more to come…

Honda E Prototype: an iPhone moment for cars?

Honda e PrototypeKohei Hitomi, Honda E Prototype project leader, took a trip to Europe early in the development of the new electric car, which makes its public debut at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. He wanted to find out just what was required to crack the car’s target market.

He came back with instructions for the design team. It had to be short. It must have an incredibly tight turning circle. The battery should have enough range for urban use, but not too much, because that would hurt size and price.

Honda would make a small, city-focused EV, in a world where most rivals were focusing on bigger ones.

Honda e Prototype

Senior management took some convincing. “The biggest barrier to making a small EV was resistance inside Honda,” admits Hitomi-san. “It was a quite logical argument: the belief you need a bigger range leads to a bigger battery, and to a bigger car, and to a higher price, and higher profits.

“When I came with the idea of making a small car, everyone was opposed. It was the added value argument that convinced management.” His concept got the green light. And at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, the fruits of his winning argument have been revealed to the public.

Production-ready (almost)

The Honda E Prototype is, suggest Honda insiders, largely production-ready. It might differ in a few areas, but changes will be minimal. The production car will measure 3.9 metres – a little smaller than superminis such as the Honda Jazz – and seat four people.

Honda e Prototype

Unlike the Honda Urban EV concept, the E Prototype has five doors, rather than three. It was never going to be a three-door, said Hitomi-san. That would be marketing madness.

He also suggested the production car was designed before the concept, rather than the other way around – dispelling myths Honda toned down the concept for production. Rather, this model was toned up, to create a buzz. It certainly worked…

Hitomi-san is particularly proud the E Prototype uses a bespoke electric car platform. “It gave us more flexibility – we didn’t have to compromise.” The battery frame could be used as a core part of the car’s structure, rather than fitting into a layout created for a petrol engine.

Honda e Prototype

It also meant the little Honda could be rear-wheel drive. Having the motor out the way of the front wheels helps the turning circle. It also makes it better to drive. “Electric motors give lots of pulling power, immediately. Sending this to the rear wheels helps traction and driver confidence.”

Honda wouldn’t be drawn on speculation that this performance car layout is leading it to consider a drift series for the E Prototype.

Fully charged

Honda hasn’t released much technical information about the E Prototype yet. It will produce around 135hp, and a meaty 184lb ft of pulling power. This should be good for 0-60mph in around 8.0 seconds.

Honda e Prototype

Because of its size, the battery will be smaller than the norm. Around 30kWh is expected; the base Nissan Leaf has a 40kWh unit. This is expected to give the little Honda a range of around 125 miles – again, less than key rivals (the Kia e-Niro, which will probably sell for a similar price to the Honda, has a range of around 290 miles).

Honda isn’t worried (at least not openly). Hitomi-san stresses again, this is an urban EV (now you know why the concept was named so) in which people will cover tens of miles a day, rather than hundreds. And because the battery is smaller, it charges faster. Fixing the battery size is core to the car’s intelligent design and city-friendly performance.

Hands-on: Honda E Prototype

Designer Ken Sahara describes the design as simple, clean, “noiseless… cars are getting complex now. We wanted an ‘easy to see’ car, with the friendliness of models from the 60s and 70s. Modern cars need lots of sensors, but we focused on concealing them, to create something that looked familiar.”

Honda e Prototype

The front end is minimalist. The radar sensors are hidden behind the gloss black panel. At the side, surfaces are clean and clear. The profile of the Honda E Prototype is the focus, not the details within it.

It has sector-first details. Deployable doorhandles (like on a Jaguar F-Type) reduce clutter. There are cameras instead of door mirrors, feeding two HD screens within. And the interior is just as alluring.

Honda has successfully carried across the ‘lounge-like’ ambience of the concept. The screens on the dashboard are modelled on flat-screen TVs. Seats are like armchairs, particularly in the rear (and the upholstery is intentionally more ‘home furnishings’ than ‘automotive’).

Honda e Prototype

Quality is exceptionally high. This feels a premium product. The attention to detail is beyond mainstream superminis – it’s Audi-like within. There are some beautiful touches too, such as the leather strap that releases the front cupholder, and four ‘downlighter’ LEDs in the roof for rear passengers. “We could have just had two,” said Hitomi-san. “Having four made it feel more like a living room.”

It’s not a Tardis, though. It’s really easy to step in and out of the front seats, but it feels like a supermini-sized car. Rear-seat space is rather tight for adults, and it can only seat two, not three. The boot is tiny, due to the electrical gubbins below. Honda is crossing its corporate fingers that this won’t be an issue to the urbanites it’s targeting with the E Prototype.

How much will the Honda E Prototype cost?

Then there’s the small matter of the price. This, clearly, will not be a budget car. Speculation is around £30,000 to £35,000. If Elon Musk’s suggestion is right, that’s Tesla Model 3 money. But comparisons are not relevant, insists Hitomi-san. The E Prototype is a different sort of car, with a different target market.

Honda e Prototype

He draws an analogy with the Apple iPhone. “That is not a cheap product, but everyone still wants to have one. People will save to own one. It proves there can be strong demand for some something with added value and high quality.

“We have tried to go the same way, even if the price might look high at first glance.”

Verdict: Honda E Prototype

Only Honda could make a car like the E Prototype. It’s not me-too, it’s a thoughtful and clever piece of product design, and the company’s ambition for it to become the iPhone of electric cars is, while ambitious, also justified.

Honda e Prototype

Even Honda management’s initial reaction suggests it’s a bit of a gamble, but Hitomi-san and his team have delivered something that deserves to succeed. In time, the everyday electric Hondas will arrive; we will eventually buy an electric Honda Jazz.

For now, the Honda E Prototype is the warm-up act. Don’t be surprised if its irresistible allure helps cure urbanites of their range anxiety.

Honda E Prototype: in pictures

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New Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake is a ‘sports car with load space’

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake

Mercedes-Benz has revealed the sleek estate version of its CLA at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show and it looks… pretty great.

Since when is a fanfare made for a new estate car anymore? They’re going the way of the Dodo what with the SUV onslaught, right? For Mercedes, however, the wagon is alive and well.

‘A sports car with load space’

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake

The Shooting Brake version of the CLA continues the saloon’s ethos of minimal lines and bold shapes. Its swooping roofline is perhaps the boldest since the original CLS ‘four-door coupe’ debuted in 2004. 

There’s genuine muscularity about the CLA SB, without it looking overly aggressive. That styling is functional, too, with an impressive 0.26 drag coefficient.

Inside the 2019 CLA Shooting Brake

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake

The cabin is almost a direct carryover from the saloon, and that’s no bad thing. Mercedes is on a roll at the moment with its excellent MBUX operating system. When you’re not looking at a screen, you’re looking at a cabin that could pass for something twice as expensive.

Mercedes is also very proud of the new Shooting Brake’s practical credentials. The boot opening is 236mm wider (at 871mm) than that of its predecessor. Boot capacity is improved by 10 litres, to 505 litres, while passengers gain head, leg, shoulder and elbow space.

Class-leading driver assistance and safety

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake

The CLA Shooting Brake combines Distance Assist Distronic, Active Steer Assist, Active Lane Change Assist, Active Park Assist, upgraded cameras and improved radar to be (almost) able to drive itself.

It can scan the road up to 500m ahead and ‘drive partially autonomously in certain situations’.

AMG versions coming soon

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake

A familiar range of petrol and diesel engines will be available by the CLA Shooting Brake’s market launch in September 2019. Topping the range is the CLA 250, with a 225hp four-cylinder turbocharged unit, driving via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

What about the AMG versions? Well, you can expect a CLA 35 and CLA 45 to be along soon afterwards. The latter should boast well over 400hp.

Aston Martin Vanquish Vision Concept

Aston Martin Vanquish Vision: a genuine Geneva 2019 surprise

Aston Martin Vanquish Vision ConceptAston Martin has wowed Geneva 2019 show-goers by revealing yet another mid-engined car, the Vanquish Vision Concept. The supercar alternative to the extreme AM-RB 003 hypercar, it confirms the next Vanquish will switch to a mid-engine layout – and directly take on the McLaren 720S.

This is a big deal for Aston. Up to now, all of its high-end sports cars have been front-engined. Switching to a mid-engined layout jumps it up a level. Now, it will go head-to-head with McLaren, Ferrari and Lamborghini.

The fact Aston Martin is showcasing the concept alongside the AM-RB 003 hypercar encourages us to make the link: the Vanquish Vision Concept is the Red Bull Racing of supercars, and the competition therefore needs to watch out.

Aston Martin Vanquish Vision Concept

Aston president and CEO Andy Palmer admits this hotly-contested sector has traditionally been defined by Italian marques. But the new Vanquish will be “a transformational moment for the brand… the car that will propel Aston Martin into a sector of the market traditionally seen as the heartland of luxury sports cars”.

Styling the Vanquish Vision Concept

Design director Miles Nurnberger happily makes the link to the Aston Martin Valkyrie and AM-RB 003. Its appearance is “more seductive and less technical… but it’s still extreme in terms of visual gestures”.

Take the front clamshell, around the front wheel: it has openings so you can see through onto the tyre. Designers will understand when he says “there’s less of the negative space that defines the look of the Valkyrie and AM-RB 003. “It’s a prettier car, and purposely so, as if it’s been designed to thrive in a less extreme performance envelope.”

Aston Martin Vanquish Vision Concept

Nurnberger says it is “less provocative and more classical in its look”. The aggression of the Red Bull-infused hypercars is dialled back, in favour of “more flowing and sensuous forms”. It’s still athletic and modern, though, he reckons: “critical qualities” for Aston’s first mid-engined supercar.

Aston Martin Vanquish Vision: technical highlights

Aston is telling us little about what’s underneath. For now, it’s simply confirming a version of the new in-house V6 used by the AM-RB 003 will be used. In that car, it is seen in hybrid turbo form: there’s no news on how it will be configured in the Vanquish.

It also won’t be made entirely from carbon fibre. That’s far too exotic for a supercar. Instead, it will use a bonded aluminium chassis, to best balance “cost, speed of production and weight vs. strength”

Aston Martin Vanquish Vision Concept.Chief technical officer Max Szwaj will oversee the project. “The Vanquish Vision Concept is the point when the things we have learned during the Aston Martin Valkyrie and AM-RB 003 programmes reach the series production models. Creating a car like this for Aston Martin is a challenge I have relished since joining back in 2017.

“Although it takes Aston Martin into new territory, it does so with the benefit of hard-won knowledge, ground-breaking ideas and an uncompromising mindset.

“The full engineering story of this car is yet to be told, but what you see here should tell you this car will not only compete at the highest level, but it will do so in a manner and style unique to Aston Martin.”

Aston Martin Vanquish Vision Concept

Stay tuned, because what we’re watching unfold is the remarkable expansion of Bond’s favourite GT brand into a bona fide supercar and hypercar maker.

If the next Aston Martin Vanquish turns out to be a genuine Ferrari and McLaren rival, that really will give the automotive world (and the financial markets) something to celebrate.

Aston Martin Vanquish Vision: in pictures

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AM-RB 003

AM-RB 003: Aston Martin’s ‘Senna’ revealed in Geneva

AM-RB 003Aston Martin is wowing Geneva with an F1-infused mid-engined hypercar co-developed with Red Bull Advanced Technologies. Previously known as Project 003, it now has a codename: AM-RB 003. The Geneva 2019 design concept is our first taste of how it may look.

The mid-mounted engine is a surprise as well: it’s a brand-new hybrid turbo V6, designed in-house by Aston Martin for the first time in years.
The third mid-engined Aston Martin – after the Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro – the AM-RB 003 may be known as ‘son of Valkyrie’, but design director Miles Nurnberger insists it’s very different. It is “a distillation of Aston Martin Valkyrie and not a dilution.

“The design isn’t as extreme in some areas, but it pushes just as hard in others, and is even taking certain ideas and concepts a step further.”
Key to this is what’s described as ‘next-generation aircraft morphing technology’. Using something called FlexFoil, the mind-boggling feature creates a variable aerofoil across the width of the rear wing.

AM-RB 003

NASA has validated the technology works, apparently, and Aston Martin is the first automotive brand to use it. In a nutshell, it allows the level of downforce to be altered without changing the physical angle of the entire wing. It’s much better than current “state of the art” active wing designs, opines Aston (*cough* McLaren Senna), as turbulence and drag are also reduced. Indeed, it’s so effective the production wing will operate virtually in real-time as the car’s pitch and attitude alter.

The upper body aerodynamics, front keel and large rear diffuser all resemble the Valkyrie, but new light graphics give a different appearance despite the ultra-lightweight lamps being borrowed directly from the flagship hypercar Valkyrie (the four units together still weigh less than one DB11 headlamp).

The AM-RB 003 is made fully from carbon fibre, both the structure and the bodywork. Red Bull has honed the materials, and also the active suspension and electronics, further underlining the F1 link. And while it won’t be quite as rare as the Valkyrie, it’s still hardly mainstream: only 500 will be sold.

Inside the AM-RB 003

AM-RB 003

A new buzzword describes the interior: ‘Apex Ergonomics’. This is said to perfectly align the centreline of the driver’s back with the steering wheel and pedals. Other controls within the clutter-free cockpit are also carefully located to help the driver focus.

The instrument display is actually mounted on the steering column itself, so it won’t be blocked by the wheel rim. The infotainment system isn’t overburdened with branded solutions nobody will use, either. Aston calls it ‘bring-your-own’ technology, masterminded through the owner’s smartphone.

Note the wraparound band that follows the curve of the windscreen, too. Through this, audio, ventilation and ambient lighting are fed, helping further declutter the interior and focus attention on the screen in front of the driver. We also like the start/stop button built into the base of the F1-shaped steering wheel.

AM-RB 003

Compared with the Valkyrie, there’s much more space and comfort inside the AM-RB 003. LMP1-style racing car doors make it easier to step in and out, and a wider centre console gives more space between front passengers. There’s even a makeshift boot: a shelf behind the seats. Aston Martin promises there will be stowage slots for wallets or mobile phones. Hopefully both.

The team behind AM-RB 003

Two Brits are responsible for making sure the AM-RB 003 drives as well as it looks: chief engineer Matt Becker and high-performance test driver Chris Goodwin. They’re currently running exhaustive tests – not on the road, though, but in Red Bull’s ultra-advanced simulator. Only later will the first prototypes take to the road. Another example of how Aston is working closely with Red Bull.

AM-RB 003

As these projects enter an incredibly exciting phase with the commissioning of the first running development prototypes, it gives me tremendous satisfaction to confirm that this exceptional partnership is continuing with the AM-RB 003 – a hypercar that not only draws from the ethos and DNA of Aston Martin Valkyrie, but will in turn influence Aston Martin’s first series production mid-engined supercar”.

Andy Palmer, Aston Martin Lagonda president and CEO, said: “When Aston Martin secured the services of Red Bull Advanced Technologies to embark on the extraordinary journey that became Aston Martin Valkyrie and Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro, it was always my hope that it would lead to a long-term collaboration.

Aston Martin AM-RB 003: in pictures

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Aston Martin reveals radical Lagonda All-Terrain: ‘the future of the luxury SUV’

Lagonda All-Terrain Concept

As if two new supercars (not to mention the spine-tingling 11,000rpm Valkyrie) weren’t enough, Aston Martin has revealed an electric luxury SUV at the Geneva Motor Show. Meet the Lagonda All-Terrain Concept.

At a stroke, the makes the Bentley Bentayga and Rolls-Royce Cullinan look like knackered old P38 Range Rovers. It’s all forward-thinking: a futuristic design that makes the current crop of luxury SUVs seem archaic.

A ‘super yacht’ for the road

Lagonda All-Terrain Concept

Lagonda doesn’t have a generic SUV platform over which to drape a tight-fitting and stately English suit. As such, this doesn’t resemble a Volkswagen Touareg or BMW X7 in drag. It takes inspiration from existing Aston Martins, as well as the Lagonda Vision Concept of last year. There’s even a whiff of the Taraf saloon in the nose. 

It’s more traditional in its jacked-up estate-car proportions, albeit broader of hip and slighter of shoulder. We can see how it alludes to the design of superyachts. A hint of Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake? No bad thing at all, sir.

Aston Martin says the ‘forms and shapes… look like they have been created by the huge, planetary forces of gravity fields’. So now you know.

A luxury brand that’s exclusively electric

Lagonda All-Terrain Concept

More revolutionary is what’s going on underneath. Aston Martin made it clear last year that when Lagonda arrives as a standalone marque, it will be exclusively electric. Indeed, it will ‘confound traditional thinking and take full advantage of the latest advances in both electrification and autonomous driving technologies, which amount to the biggest revolution in land-bound transportation since the invention of the car’. 

The chuntering V8s of the old William Towns-penned Lagonda will be long gone by the time 2022 rolls around, then, as too will the rippling tones of the (Rapide-based) Taraf V12.

As with last year’s Lagonda Vision Concept, there’s also a very real focus on autonomous driving. 

Lagonda All-Terrain Concept

While it ‘gives us a glimpse of the first production model from the luxury brand’, there isn’t anything as concrete as range numbers or horsepower figures yet. Suffice to say, the SUV size and body style lends itself to being stuffed full of batteries. By the time it’s out, we’re anticipating around 500 miles of range and serious quick-charge capability.

What there is an emphasis on, is the ‘utility’ side of a sports utility vehicle: ‘The Lagonda All-Terrain Concept is an ultra-stylish, supremely luxurious, fully electric emission-free vehicle that can transport its occupants to remote and spectacular locations.’

Enticing indeed, although we can’t quite see Colombian drug lords abandoning their G-Wagens and conquering the rainforest in a Lagonda just yet.

A levitating key… yes, really

Lagonda All-Terrain Concept

Don’t let its size fool you, this is no Discovery-rivalling three-row wagon. The back is a place to spread out and relax in those stunning reclining chairs. The luxury begins before you even get in,  with the rear-hinged back doors giving you a ‘red carpet moment’.

Up front, there’s more pleasing minimalism. Well-judged lines combine an airy feeling with the intimacy of an Aston cockpit. The wheel is predictably futuristic – note the ‘Autonomous’ display we mentioned above – but it’s not intimidating.

That swirling centre console design spewing out from the levitating key is truly bewitching, as is the liberal use of bronze and gold metals. The key levitates using electromagnets. Why keep a key in a world where you can unlock your car with an app? “While the technology exists in this day and age to allow the key to be removed altogether, Lagonda believes that it remains an important point of contact between the driver and the vehicle,” says Aston Martin’s chief stylist, Marek Reichman. 

“It’s not about wood and leather”

Lagonda All-Terrain Concept

“The Lagonda brand is unconstrained by the traditional values of current luxury products, it is not about wood and leather,” follows Reichman.

“We tried to design the interior to feel very calm and quiet, with soft, natural materials like Cashmere. Lagonda reflects a future that is full of unique materials that are not set in the past.

“We wanted the technology in the Lagonda All-Terrain Concept to bring a sense of personality to the vehicle. Just as with the materials and the exterior design, the technology should be warm and involving rather than cold and impersonal. This is the future and it should be something that people are inspired and delighted by rather than perplexed and frightened by.”

When can I have one?

Lagonda All-Terrain Concept

Well, not until 2022 at least, and the finished product will no doubt be toned down somewhat. We hope some of the essential cleanliness and clarity of the design of the All-Terrain Concept makes it to production in St Athan, though.

Real luxury is a clarity of vision and a lack of fuss, as well as capability and quality. And Aston Martin Lagonda looks set to deliver.

New Kia Imagine: an electric car that defies categorisation

Kia Imagine conceptKia has unveiled its ground-breaking Imagine concept at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.

It’s an electric car, but not like we’ve seen before from the Korean marque. Not that the Soul EV or e-Niro are particularly derivative – but the Imagine deliberately breaks the mould.

A category buster

Just look at it. Is it a crossover? Is it a saloon? Is it an SUV? Much like the Polestar 2 EV,  the Imagine borrows the handsome, chiselled proportions of a sporting car for an SUV-addicted audience.

Kia Imagine concept

“It’s a large C-segment car – the vehicle size that’s incredibly popular in Europe – but the only things it holds on to are Kia’s brand values,” explains Gregory Guillaume, vice president of design for Kia Europe.

“It hints at something familiar, but is something entirely new. I think of it as a category-buster, and a disruptor – it’s familiar and understood but at the same time progressive and new.”

A category buster, you say? Sounds good to us. if you’re re-inventing powertrains, why not reinvent cars altogether? The Imagine could potentially re-invent Kia, too. The styling at the front including the ‘suspended lights’ and ‘tiger mask’ are the possible future corporate face for the marque’s electric cars.

Kia Imagine concept

“The inspiration for the ‘tiger mask’ was to create the look and feel of the headlamps being suspended within a transparent block of glass,” explains Guillaume. “This identifiable lighting signature could potentially be deployed as a unifying design element across Kia’s future electric vehicle range.”

Underneath the distinctive skin is a ‘low-mounted induction-charged battery pack, powering a compact drivetrain’. There’s no word yet on what range that provides, but suffice to say it’ll top the current e-Niro’s 300-plus miles.

Helping the Imagine on its way is a smooth, aerodynamic design. “The front air curtain, the way the double-skin bonnet channels air through the nose, up and over the front screen and roof, the double skinned C-pillar that creates an air spoiler, the completely enclosed underbody, the wind-cheating ‘wingcams’ and the hard-edged break-away around the car’s rear – all these features collectively boost aerodynamic efficiency and reduce turbulence and drag,” Guillaume says.

Kia Imagine concept

Completing the look on the outside are standard-issue concept car wheels – a massive 22 inches in diameter.

A cabin with “a twinkle in its eye”

Inside, Kia wanted this concept to have a sense of humour: a “twinkle in its eye”.

That wrap-around wall of displays for instance, is Kia biting its thumb at the stuffy attitude the industry has to screens, and how they’ve more or less remained stubbornly fixed to centre consoles for 20 years or more.

Kia Imagine concept

“These 21 incredibly thin screens are a humorous and irreverent riposte to the ongoing competition between some automotive manufacturers to see who can produce the car with the biggest screen,” said Ralph Kluge, Kia Motors Europe’s general manager of interior design.

Imagine is clearly an important car for Kia, with those responsible for bringing it to life being proud of their leftfield creation. It’s a statement of intent, that the marque intends to diversify the EV marketplace with a strong, appealing and quirky range of cars in the coming years.

2019 Ford Mustang wins on Supercar debut

Ford Performance Mustang Supercar takes a double win on Australian debut

2019 Ford Mustang wins on Supercar debutThe box-fresh Ford Mustang racer scored an incredible double victory at the weekend, making its debut in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship a major success.

After more than 18 months of work and development, the efforts paid off for the latest Ford Performance creation.

Any worries about whether the move to the Mustang would cause a problem evaporated early in the weekend, when Shell V-Power Racing driver Fabian Coulthard took pole position with his Mustang in the qualifying session.

It set the scene for an impressive opening weekend for the new race car, which marked the first time a Mustang has celebrated Australian Touring Car Championship victory since 1972.

2019 Ford Mustang wins on Supercar debutAlthough some manufacturers might usually expect to start out slowly with a new car, last year’s champion driver Scott McLaughlin seemed happy to ignore the rulebook.

Starting from third on the grid for the opening race, 25-year-old McLaughlin took the lead from the start and held onto it throughout the 78 laps.

Even the searing Adelaide heat were not enough to punish the new Mustang, with McLaughin remarking that “but the cooling and all that stuff was really good for us” as he celebrated the first win for the new ‘Stang.

2019 Ford Mustang wins on Supercar debutProving that the success on Saturday was not just a case of beginner’s luck for the Mustang, McLaughlin delivered the same result again in Sunday’s race two.

Snatching the lead by the third lap of the race, McLaughlin would go on to take another victory with dominant ease.

Underlining the fact Ford’s pace was not just down to McLaughlin’s driving skills, Tickford Racing’s Chaz Mostert took fastest lap in race two.

2019 Ford Mustang wins on Supercar debutKay Hart, Ford Australia and New Zealand President and CEO, summed up the weekend as “a fairy tale start for our Ford Performance Mustang,” whilst Ford Performance Global Director, Motorsports, Mark Rushbrook, said “the Mustang Supercars’ results are beyond expectation”.

The next outing for the Ford Performance Mustangs will be on the Melbourne street circuit, taking part in the 2019 Rolex Australian Formula One Grand Prix weekend on March 13 to 17.

Automobili Pininfarina Battista

Pininfarina Battista: ‘Guilt-free’ 1,900hp EV hypercar revealed at Geneva 2019

Automobili Pininfarina BattistaThe Pininfarina Battista is a glamorous new entrant into the global hypercar market, one targeting Ferrari, Aston Martin and the ultra-exotic Pagani and Koenigsegg brands with a mix of incredible power and all-electric allure. Producing 1,900 horsepower and faster than a Formula 1 car from 0-60mph, it will also travel almost 280 miles on a single charge.

Only 150 will be built, all in Italy, carrying a rumoured £2 million price tag. Deliveries begin in 2020.

Revealed in an event on the eve of the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, an all-star team was on hand to launch the Battista. Pininfarina says key members have previously worked on launching the Bugatti Veyron and Chiron, Ferrari Sergio, Lamborghini Urus, McLaren P1, Mercedes-AMG Project One, Pagani Zonda and Porsche Mission E. The Battista is a car that’s more than a measure for them, says the bullish team behind the project…

Why, hello there, Automobili Pininfarina!

Battista Pinin Farina in 1963

The Battista is the storied Pininfarina firm’s very first road car: up to now, the Italian styling house has designed cars for other brands (it is credited with creating more than 60 Ferraris, for starters). That’s why it’s called Battista, after the Pininfarina founder, who started the company 90 years ago. Paolo Pininfarina, his grandson, says its launch is “a dream come true… my grandfather always had the vision that one day there would be a standalone range of Pininfarina-branded cars.”

It’s the first of many Automobili Pininfarina cars, vows the firm – all of them “purely electric, zero-emissions, luxury cars solely branded Pininfarina”.

For those who like brands with stories, Automobili Pininfarina CEO Michael Perschke says “this is the most authentic and exciting automotive story imaginable. We aim for Battista to be a future classic and automotive icon, writing its own page in automotive history books.”

Why go electric with the first Pininfarina?

Automobili Pininfarina Battista

Electric was a no-brainer for the Pininfarina team, they say. “Electrification unlocks the door to a new level of performance and a zero-emissions future,” said Perschke. It’s the first electric ‘poster car’ and described as “a pivotal moment in time for the new automotive environment”.

How fast is the Pininfarina Battista?

The Battista launches with exceptional Top Trumps credentials. Its 1,900 horsepower is combined with almost 1,700lb ft of torque to give a 0-62mph time of less than two seconds. It will accelerate from 0 to 186mph in less than 12 seconds. Top speed? Up to 218mph – yet if you don’t drive quite so fast, it will deliver a range of up to 279 miles.

That’s a monstrous 0-62mph time. Surely Pininfarina’s going to sing it from the rooftops?

Interestingly, Pininfarina reckons the 0-62mph time isn’t actually all that. Electric cars are always quick against the clock. “ICE (internal combustion engine) cars are easily comparable with each other, but we have no benchmark to compare and we have to define the electric hypercar experience,” said chief technical officer Christian Jung. “Agility and manoeuvrability will be more defining than 0-100km/h [0-62mph], I suspect.”

I guess the electric motor is pretty beefy?

Automobili Pininfarina Battista

There’s not just one electric motor here – there are four of them, which independently deliver drive to each wheel. Because there’s so much torque, or pulling power, Pininfarina says torque vectoring – distributing the amount of output each motor puts out according to driving conditions – will play a pivotal role in how it drives. After all, it does have more than twice the torque owners of conventional hypercars are used to…

So Pininfarina’s turning the dial up to 11?

Pininfarina admits it might actually have to ease back on how much surge the Battista delivers, so bountiful is its pulling power. “We are trying to go to the extreme that neither Tesla nor the other major OEMs are targeting,” said chief technical officer Christian Jung. “Electrification allows us to support hypercar development with instant torque… we might even have to dial it down, as its reaction time is up to 20 times faster than an ICE (internal combustion engine)!”

How big is the battery in the Pininfarina Battista?

Pininfarina Battista

The battery packs a 120kWh output. That’s bigger than any Tesla battery to date, and it’s a T-shaped battery that’s located to optimise weight distribution. The battery, along with the motors plus both software and hardware, are all provided by start-up electric supercar firm Rimac. Richard Hammond famously crashed one of its cars; with Pininfarina, it’s seeking fame for the right reasons…

Won’t Pininfarina Battista owners want to travel a little further on a single charge?

The batteries could have been bigger, but they would have affected the car’s dynamics. Nearly 280 miles “will cover virtually all possible drives, especially as 90 percent of owners are estimated to charge where the car is garaged”. And the 10 percent who want to go further? DC fast charging capability is built in and “by 2021, using app-based charging networks will be normal for many owners”.

What is the Pininfarina Battista made from?

Automobili Pininfarina Battista

No hypercar worth its salt is made from anything other than carbon fibre. The Battista has a carbon chassis and a carbon body. The rear subframe is made from carbon fibre, the roof is made from carbon fibre, even the crash structures are made from carbon fibre. The only thing we don’t yet know is the weight, and by how much the mass of the batteries have been offset by all this carbon.

What about the noise?

Electric cars are near-silent. But part of the appeal of hypercars is the noise they make, surely? Quite: that’s why Pininfarina will allow drivers to choose a bespoke sound, from literal near silence, to some bespoke sounds that it promises will not be artificially amplified. It’s not yet defined, but it will draw from key factors including the electric motors, air flow, heater system and even the resonance of the carbon fibre monocoque. Keep an ear out…

It’s quick, then. What’s slowing it down?

Automobili Pininfarina Battista

Monstrous 390mm (15.3-inch) carbon ceramic 6-piston front brakes are backed up by almost-as-large 380mm (15-inch) rear brakes. These massive anchors provide “hugely effective brake regeneration to the battery”. There’s also an active rear wing with air brake functionality.

And the Battista’s suspension?

Unlike conventional hypercars, Pininfarina isn’t going big on the Battista’s suspension at this stage. It simply says it will be thrilling, engaging yet comfortable, and be fully adjustable with a range of modes for various driving types.

Who’s setting up how the Battista drives?

Because no Battista owner will ever have driven a 1900 horsepower electric car, Pininfarina’s recruited someone who’s used to driving the elite of racing cars – F1 and Formula E racer Nick Heidfeld. He will work with former Porsche, Pagani and Bugatti engineer Dr Peter Tutzer to make sure the Battista serves up a memorable driving experience.

Do they hint at how Pininfarina’s hypercar may drive?

Automobili Pininfarina Battista

The Battista will be focused on the track but also comfortable on the road, we’re promised. The torque vectoring systems will “put far more control in the hands of the driver than in a traditional internal combustion engine performance car”. Heidfeld backed this up, comparing Formula E racers to the Battista in the fact “there is no delay at all on the throttle… even in a Formula 1 car we feel a delay”.

Not only is it faster than an F1 car, then, it’s also more responsive. How truly incredible does this car sound?

Pininfarina has been a styling house for 90 years. What does the first car it’s designed for itself say?

Pininfarina SpA

The Battista serves up “classic Pininfarina design cues,” says the firm, paying homage to some of its most famous cars: Cisitalia 202, Ferrari Dino Berlinetta Speciale, Ferrari Modula and the Sinesti concept car.

It doesn’t much look like an electric car, does it?

The Battista is a “beautiful, pure performance car”. Pininfarina has avoided designing in any overt features that mark it out as an EV. The most overt hint is the Pininfarina Blue colour of one of the three cars at Geneva – it’s “more electric in tone than Pininfarina’s traditional blue, reflecting the technological innovation within”. The firm’s created it by spraying on multiple layers of paint to give it shimmering depth.

What are the design highlights?

Automobili Pininfarina Battista

Pininfarina is proud that most of its designs can be described in two lines. The same is true for the Battista, which is the work of Luca Borgogno. It has a teardrop cabin shape sitting on sculpted and “sensuous” body sides, a floating wing look at the front and an “iconic” design of rear wing. It’s simple, elegant and, insists Borgogno, “beautiful”. He also adds it has the same sort of functional harmony seen in another iconic Pininfarina hypercar – the Ferrari F40.

What’s the story inside?

Because the Battista serves up such phenomenal performance, Pininfarina has paired back the interior, so it’s distraction-free – and all the vital interfaces directly face the driver alone. Traditional dials have been binned for HD screens, and to this framework, there’s almost endless personalisation.

Verdict: Pininfarina Battista

Automobili Pininfarina Battista

Hypercar world, meet your newest entrant. ‘Pininfarina’ is going to become a name as revered as Pagani and Ferrari, and will become so whilst also being truly sustainable. That one of the world’s mightiest ever cars is also a zero-emissions all-electric one is quite the statement of intent. It’s an ecologically on-message poster car that rightly is one of the stars of the 2019 Geneva show. Believe the hype.