New BMW X2 SUV: teased at Milan Fashion Week ahead of 2018 launch

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We get another look at BMW’s new sporty X2 crossover’s shape before it hits the showrooms in 2018

The new BMW X2 has been shown-off again with a camouflaged car doing the rounds at Milan Fashion Week.

We’ve already seen plenty of spy shots of the forthcoming BMW X2with the most recent images revealing more of the roof line of the sporty new crossover. While the X2 will share its running gear with the X1, as well as the 2 Series Active Tourer and MINI Countryman, the newcomer will get a sportier look, with a swept-back windscreen and a smaller glass area than the more upright X1.

With a pared back diguise, it’s clear that the rear windows taper towards the back of the car, where the high-set tail-lights and small rear windscreen add to the sporty look.

Our spies also managed to get a glimpse of the interior, where BMW’s iDrive controller, a three-spoke steering wheel and the X1’s infotainment screen and climate controls were clearly visible, and it’s apparent that the X2’s interior won’t be a radical departure from the rest of the range.

The X2 is scheduled to appear in 2018, and it will slot into BMW’s crossover range between the X1 and X3. It will share its platform with the X1, so it will use the front-wheel-drive UKL structure also found under the 2 Series MPV and MINI Countryman. However, like top-spec versions of all these cars, xDrive four-wheel drive will be available.

These latest spy shots follow the leak earlier this year of renderings submitted to Japanese patent authorities that revealed the all-new member of BMW’s ‘X’ line-up of SUVs goes on sale in 2018.

Looking side on, the production X2 carries over a near identical profile, boasting the same lines and window openings – even the badge on the C-pillar will be carried over for production.

Changes at the rear are a bit more noticeable. The large, chunky bash plate of the concept, along with its two exhaust exits, has been changed. Instead a smaller skid plate is present, while basic models will get a modest single exhaust poking out of the rear. The taillights have also swollen in size.

The leaked renders complement the spy shots we’ve published of the X2, including pictures of this recent sighting at the Nurburgring. The race track location and sporty, low profile tyres strongly suggest that BMW is already hard at work prepping a performance variant of the X2.

The most basic versions of the new  X2 will share the X1’s petrol and diesel engines, which means all will be turbocharged and have four cylinders. While there may be a front-drive sDrive18d, most X2s will use xDrive four-wheel drive. 

The sportier M-developed high-performance version, which could be pictured here may be powered by an uprated version of the 2.0-litre petrol engine, and the car could carry the BMW M25i badge. 

We’ll see the finished X2 production car at the end of 2017, ahead of deliveries in 2018. Prices are expected to start at just under £30,000 to position the car between the current X1 and an all-new BMW X3, due for launch in mid-2017. 

The X2 will be the third Sports Activity Coupe to be launched by BMW, following on from the larger X6 and X4, although the Concept X2 does have a more practical look about it.

According to design boss Adrian van Hooydonk, the Concept X2 is designed as a vehicle that “combines enjoyment with practicality”, while Head of Design Karim Habib highlighted that the car “combines the fast-moving body languge and low-slung proportions of a coupe with the robust construction of an X model”.

Up front, there’s a large kidney grille flanked by slender headlights with a unique LED running light signature, while the big front bumper and silver lower trim give it a rugged SUV look. Further back, the low roof line and narrow windows are where the Concept X2 delivers on the coupe design cues, although it’s more like a hatch than sports car.

There are sharply angled C-pillars featuring BMW’s signature Hofmeister kink and a BMW roundel, which is a nod to sports cars such as the BMW CSL, which featured badges in the same place.

Wide wheelarches add some muscle, while the vast 21-inch wheels complete the car’s profile. At the back, the raked tailgate isn’t quite like the hatchback rear ends found on an X6 or X4, so the X2 should add more practicality despite its sleek styling.

From the rear, the Concept X2 features a centrally mounted BMW badge flanked by slender tail-lights, while the number plate is set into the bumper, similar in style to the BMW 1 Series hatch.

The Concept X2 is purely an exterior study with its blacked-out windows, but the production model is very likely to use the same cabin layout as the firm’s X1. The production version will be based on that car’s UKL2 platform that also underpins the firm’s 2 Series Active and Gran Tourer MPVs. This means that the X2 will be the fourth front-wheel drive BMW to join the line-up.

MOT exemption for cars over 40 years old arrives in May 2018

MOT exemption for cars over 40 years old arrives in May 2018

The Department for Transport has announced that classic cars more than 40 years old will be exempt from MOT testing, with owners voluntarily electing for an MOT if they feel their car needs one.

Currently, only cars from before 1960 are exempt, which represents 197,000 cars on UK roads. The new rules will exempt a further 293,000 cars from MOTs.

The thinking behind the decision, according to the DfT, is that these cars are “usually maintained in good condition and used on few occasions”. The decision also eases concerns that garages may not be adequately testing cars over this age, as the modern MOT applies less to cars of this age.

The new date would also bring the age of cars exempt from MOTs in line with the exemption of road tax. The Government dismissed concerns that these cars pose a greater risk of failure than modern ones; cars registered in the interim period between the old exemption and the upcoming exemption have a substantially lower rate of failure than the national average.

“We consider the element of risk arising from taking vehicles over 40 years old out of the testing regime is small. The option for owners to submit their vehicles to a voluntary MOT test will remain and they will still, like all vehicle owners, need to ensure that they meet the legal requirement of keeping their vehicle in a roadworthy condition at all time.”

Of the 2217 respondents consulted for the proposal, more than half supported the suggested annual or biennial roadworthiness test for 40-year-old vehicles, checking the cars’ identity, brakes, steering, tyres and lights. The DfT has rejected this approach, saying: “Those owners who feel an annual check is needed will be able to submit their vehicles for a voluntary MOT.”

A stronger majority voted against exemption of vehicles aged 30 years or older from MOT tests; the DfT sided with the consultation on this proposal, citing accident data as well as the strong negative reaction from the public to this suggestion.

Ferrari sells for record $10 million at charity auction

A LaFerrari Aperta supercar just sold at a charity auction for a record €8.3 million ($10 million) — the most money ever fetched by a 21st century vehicle.

The sale was made at the Ferrari factory in Italy during a celebration for the automaker’s 70th anniversary.

The futuristic Aperta, which has yet to be assembled, sold Saturday for twice the amount auctioneers expected after a bidding war between at least 12 auction attendees, the auction house RM Sotheby’s said in a press release.

The buyer — whose identity was not revealed — saw nothing but a digital mockup of the finished product before making the purchase.

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Once completed, the Aperta will be sprayed with “one-of-a-kind stunning metallic” red paint. It’ll also sport two white racing stripes along its body, while the interior will be trimmed with black leather, red stitching and black carbon fiber paneling.

It’ll be the 210th and last La Ferrari Aperta ever made.

RM Sotheby’s said of the Ferrari, “There has never been another vehicle as eagerly anticipated or as technologically advanced” throughout the carmaker’s history.

The car’s entire $10 million sale price will be donated to Save the Children, an international youth education charity, RM Sotheby’s said.

While it is a record price tag for a car built after the year 2000, it should be noted that prices are typically higher when auction proceeds are intended for charity.

Car sales hit major speed bump in Brexit Britain

Car sales hit major speed bump in Brexit Britain

Is the British auto industry running out of gas?

Auto sales in the U.K. dropped by 9.3% in July compared to the previous year, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. It was the fourth consecutive monthly decline.

It’s a trend being driven by uncertainty over Brexit.

“The fall in consumer and business confidence is having a knock on effect on demand in the new car market and government must act quickly to provide concrete plans regarding Brexit,” said Mike Hawes, the industry group’s chief executive.

Britain started exit negotiations with the European Union in June, but there has been little clarity on what its future relationship with the bloc might look like.

Many businesses have delayed investments while they wait for more information. Consumers, meanwhile, are avoiding major purchases where they can.

The consumer spending slowdown has been fueled in large part by a sharp decline in the value of the pound, which has dropped 13% since the referendum in June 2016. Its weakness has made imported goods more expensive.

“This is consistent with the overall softness in consumer spending over the year so far, particularly a reluctance to make major buys,” said Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY ITEM Club.

Related: These countries want to ditch gas and diesel cars

mini car uk brexit

It’s not just auto sales that are suffering.

The number of cars produced in the U.K. fell by nearly 14% in June compared to the previous year, according to SMMT data released last week. It was the third consecutive month of lower output in row.

Britain’s auto industry, which is worth an estimated $100 billion, was at the forefront of Brexit fears even before sales and production numbers dropped.

Cars made in Britain get nearly 60% of their parts from outside the U.K. — mostly from the EU — and about 55% of those cars are sold back into the EU. Any new tariffs resulting from Brexit would seriously hurt the profitability of domestic automakers.

Industry executives are facing key decisions on investment and production in the U.K. They may feel compelled to make new models in the EU, rather than risk facing new tariffs on exports (and imported parts) after Brexit.

The industry has received one boost in recent weeks. BMW (BMWYY) announced in late July that it will produce new electric Minis at an existing factory in Oxford, England that employs 4,200 workers.

 

Ford will create new brand to make electric cars in China

Ford will create new brand to make electric cars in China

Ford wants to crack the world’s largest auto market with fully electric vehicles sold under a new brand.

The company announced plans on Tuesday to form a new joint venture with Anhui Zotye Automobile Co., a Chinese brand that specializes in all-electric vehicles.

Ford and Zotye are exploring a 50:50 partnership to produce a line of electric vehicles. Ford (F)said the cars would be sold under a new brand, but did not offer additional details.

The move coincides with a major push for more electric cars by the Chinese government, which is trying to reduce pollution in major cities. Beijing is offering incentives to encourage the sale of cleaner vehicles.

China already accounts for 40% of all electric cars sold worldwide, according to the International Energy Agency. Zotye, which does not produce gas or diesel cars, sold more than 16,000 electric vehicles through July this year — a 56% increase from the same period in 2016.

Bill Russo, managing director at Gao Feng Advisory Company, said Ford is the first global automaker to partner with a local firm that exclusively produces electric cars.

“Multinationals have been playing a bit of wait and see in China,” he said. “Now, Ford is convinced they need to be in the game.”

But Ford is not the only major international automaker trying to increase electric vehicle sales in China.

Earlier this month, General Motors (GM) started selling a tiny electric car in China that costs about $5,300 after national and local electric vehicle incentives.

The vehicle — the Baojun E100 — is made in China by a joint venture between GM and China’s SAIC and Wuling Motors.

In June, Volkswagen (VLKAF) finalized a joint venture with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile (JAC Motor) to produce electric vehicles.

GM is selling a $5,000 electric car in China

General Motors will start selling a tiny electric car in China this week that will cost about $5,300 after national and local electric vehicle incentives, according to GM.

For that sort of price, the Baojun E100 is no Cadillac, of course. The two-seat car’s wheelbase — the distance from the center of the front wheels to the center of the rear wheels — is just 63 inches. That’s about 10 inches shorter than Daimler’s (DDAIF) Smart ForTwo, a car that is already remarkable for its stubby proportions.

Prices for the car start at RMB 93,900, or about $14,000, before incentives.

The E100, which is Baojun’s first electric car, is powered by a single 39-horsepower electric motor and has a top speed of 62 miles an hour. The E100 can drive about 96 miles on a fully charged battery, according to GM (GM).

baojun 100
The Baojun E100 has a top speed of 100 kilometers an hour, or 62 miles an hour.

The E100 does offer some amenities, such as an entertainment system with a 7-inch screen and built-in WiFi. All versions of the car will have parking sensors and pedestrian alert systems among other safety features. High-end models are available with a touchpad and keyless entry.

India to sell only electric cars by 2030

Baojun is a mass-market car brand from General Motors’ SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture in China. It’s China’s eighth most popular car brand, according to data from LMC Automotive, ranking below brands like Volkswagen, Toyota (TM), Honda (HMC) and Buick.

baojun 100
The Baojun E100 is even smaller than a Smart ForTwo.

More than 5,000 people have already registered to buy the first 200 vehicles, according to GM. Another 500 vehicles will be made available this week, and buyers will be chosen on a first-come-first-served basis, a GM spokerson said. Sales will initially be limited to the Guanxi region of southern China, but GM plans to sell the car more widely in China. A GM spokesperson declined to say exactly how many it expects to sell.

China is the largest automotive market in the world, and its government is making a big push for electric cars. Already, China accounts for 40% of all electric cars sold worldwide, according to the International Energy Agency.

Renault car becomes part of your house

Someday, you might want to drive home from work and just hang out in your car once you get there. Not because you’re in trouble with your spouse, but because your car is actually designed to be part of the house.

In fact, you could lean back and relax before you even get home. Once you’re there, just keep on relaxing while the car takes you straight into your living room.

That’s the idea behind a concept car called the Symbioz, just revealed by French automaker Renault. The electric car provides both extra seating space and, if needed, feeds extra power from its batteries to the home at which it is parked.

The car and its house were both unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Batteries in the Symbioz are stored flat in its floor, maximizing interior space in the generally boxy concept car. It would be capable of driving itself and the front seats can fully rotate. That way all the occupants can interact face-to-face even when the car is out on the road.

When it arrives at the owner’s home — in this case, a color-coordinated concept house — the car just drives right in, becoming part of the living room. It can then be lifted up in an elevator to become a second-floor lounge area with a view of the stars through its panoramic sunroof.

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When the Renault Symbioz pulls into the owner’s home, it functions as part of the house.

“No longer can we think of car design in isolation from the ecosystem surrounding us,” Renault’s lead designer Laurens van den Acker, said in a statement. “Renault Symbioz truly is a unique project that allowed us to work with planners, designers, engineers and architects. “

The car’s batteries can be charged by plugging into the house’s electrical system. During a blackout, or during times of peak electrical demand, the car can also act as a back-up battery, feeding electricity back into the home. That’s something that can be done with electric cars today.

renault symbioz 3
Lifted up to the second floor, the Symbioz could provide a comfortable enclosed observation deck.

For now, the Symbioz is just a concept car — and a concept house designed to work with it. But Renault promises that a drivable car, with many of the elements seen in the Symbioz, will be ready for testing before the end of this year.

The car represents Renault’s “mid-term vision” and includes various technology features that will be available to customers in the next few years, the automaker says. Those include an improved version of Renault’s Multi-Sense for customizable interior lighting and driving as well as new assisted driving features.

Volkswagen needs batteries that would fill 4 Gigafactories

Volkswagen wants to buy the world’s batteries.

The German automaker said it will spend more than €50 billion ($60 billion) on battery cells as it pushes to electrify all 300 models in its range by 2030.

Volkswagen described the purchase as “one of the largest procurement” programs in automotive history, signaling it is accelerating the shift to electrified vehicles after its diesel emissions scandal.

“We have got the message and we will deliver. This is not some vague declaration of intent,” said CEO Matthias Müller. “The transformation in our industry is unstoppable.”

Volkswagen (VLKAY), which owns the Audi, Skoda, SEAT and Porsche brands, will continue to invest in improving its gas and diesel engines while bringing 80 new electrified models to market by 2025, including 50 purely battery-powered vehicles.

It estimates that around 25% of its new vehicles — up to 3 million a year depending on market developments — could be purely battery-powered in 2025.

Achieving that will require a huge number of batteries.

The German firm estimates it will need more than 150 gigawatt hours of battery capacity annually by 2025.

That’s more than four times larger than the annual output of the enormous battery production “Gigafactory” that Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk has built in the Nevada desert.

Volkswagen admitted in 2015 that it had been cheating on diesel emissions tests after its vehicles in the U.S. were found to be emitting up to 40 times the legal limit on nitrogen oxide. Since then, the company has faced intense pressure to offer cleaner vehicles.

China, the world’s largest car market, announced this week that it intends to ban the production and sale of vehicles powered only by fossil fuels. India, France, Britain and Norway also want to ditch gas and diesel cars.

In Germany, where the auto industry employs 800,000 people, Chancellor Angela Merkel has hinted that it’s only a matter of time before the government sets its own expiration date.

What's the difference between electric and electrified cars?
What’s the difference between electric and electrified cars?

Related: These countries want to ditch gas and diesel cars

Volkswagen said its new investments would set the scene for “e-mobility’s final breakthrough.”

“Then it is up to customers to decide how fast it will gain widespread acceptance,” said Müller

Mercedes-AMG E63 S Estate 4Matic+ 2017 review

What is it?

The Mercedes-AMG E63 S Estate might well be the car to dethrone the Audi RS6 as the quintessential modern-day super-wagon.

The Audi’s appeal lies in its handsome styling, massive grip, faultless stability and enormous straight-line performance. If the AMG can add some level of agility and on-the-limit precision to that set of attributes, it’ll swiftly unseat the Ingolstadt charger and assume the role of king of the super-estates.

The booted Merc uses the same drivetrain and underpinnings as the E63 S Saloon, which is probably, all things considered, the fastest and most dynamically competent four-door there has ever been. The engine is basically the same 4-litre twin-turbo ‘hot-vee’ V8 that powers great swathes of the AMG line-up these days – although not the dry-sump unit that’s found in the AMG GT sports car – offered here in 604bhp and 627lb ft guise. Mercedes quotes a frankly absurd 0-62mph time of 3.5sec.

The E63 is four-wheel drive now, of course, but it’ll still bonfire its rear boots in three-and-a-half seconds flat if you activate Drift mode, which simply decouples the front axle and disables the driver aids. The gearbox is a nine-speed automatic, rather than a twin-clutch, but the gearshifts are every bit as quick as you need them to be, given that this is a fast estate and not a dedicated sports car. The advantage of the E63’s transmission over a twin-clutch item is that it’s smoother in auto mode and much lighter too.

What’s it like?

With the rear seats folded flat, the E63 S Estate presents a ballroom-like 1820 litres of storage space, but it doesn’t come for free; all of that extra metal and glass add more than 100kg to the kerb weight. You have to punt the car especially hard down a narrow, winding road to identify the extra flab, but in the way the Estate takes a split second longer to haul itself from full roll in one direction to full roll the other, you can sense a degree of laziness that you don’t get in the Saloon.

But even so, high-performance estates haven’t ever been as agile or as downright fast along a twisting road as this before. There’s enough sheer grip, body control, steering precision and traction that you really can cover ground at sports car baiting speeds in the E63 S Estate, but crucially it also has a level of poise and even adjustability that the RS6 doesn’t offer.

Despite its standard-fit air suspension, the AMG never rides calmly or fluidly, though. There’s a constant secondary jiggle, a busy patter than never settles. Perhaps that’s just the inevitable trade-off on a car that weighs more than two tonnes and handles as capably as this one does. It isn’t the fidgety ride that raises doubts over the Mercedes’ long-distance comfort, however, but the unyielding seats. Winged and bolstered, they look as though they’ve been lifted directly out of the GT. They’re very supportive, but they’re also very firm and, after a couple of hours, your back will almost certainly start to complain.

Those are just about the only criticisms you can level at the E63 S Estate, though. At very high speeds on a sodden German autobahn, it was indomitable and utterly sure-footed, which makes its poise and agility on a back road all the more impressive. The engine, too, is responsive, enormously powerful and eager to rev out, while the £1000 sports exhaust teases some welcome character out of the V8.

Should I buy one?

With the £2595 premium package – which includes keyless-go, a glass roof, uprated stereo and ‘intelligent’ LED lights – and a handful of other goodies, our test car came in at a little under £100,000. Which, regardless of the performance and handling ability the car has, is a staggering sum of money.

Amazingly, though, it’s par for the course in this sector these days. The Mercedes-AMG E63 S Estate might well be the king of the high-performance load luggers, but you’ll need to be somewhere in line to the throne to afford one.

Mercedes-AMG E63 S Estate 4Matic+

Location Lydd, Kent On sale Now Price £90,490 Price as tested£96,930 Engine Twin-turbo V8, 3982cc, petrol Power 604bhp at 5750-6500rpm Torque 627lb ft at 2500-4500rpm Gearbox Nine-speed automatic Kerb weight 2060kg Top speed 155mph (limited) 0-62mph 3.5sec Economy 30.1mpg CO2 214g/km Rival Audi RS6

VW T-Roc gets racy in Frankfurt with new R-Line trim

Volkswagen’s R-Line packages grant a certain aggression to cars that might otherwise seem pretty sedate. Not long after its debut, the R-Line package has made its way to the subcompact 2018 VW T-Roc.

As with other R-Line packages, the T-Roc’s kit affects the aesthetics alone. Outside, you get a sportier rear diffuser, dark red LED taillights and a black lower air intake. Both bumpers are a bit angrier, and along with some door trim, all that good stuff is painted in the same color as the rest of the body. 18- or 19-inch alloy wheels are available, both of which are painted on the darker side.

This thing would look gnarly with a GTI or R treatment, too.

Volkswagen

There are R-Line badges scattered about, as well, because there always is. There’s a badge in the grille and badges on both front fenders. Somewhat strangely, there isn’t an R-Line badge out back.

The interior makes up for the seemingly small number of R-Line logos outside. There are badges on the doorsill trim, the infotainment’s welcome screen, the R-Line-specific steering wheel and the cloth-and-microfiber front seats. The headliner is black, and there’s decorative stitching on the floor mats, gearshift boot, seats and center armrest. Capping off the look is a set of stainless steel pedals with a matching footrest.

Everything else is the same as the standard T-Roc. European buyers get six different engine choices — three diesel, and three gas. Front-wheel drive is standard, but AWD is available, as is a six-speed manual transmission. Safety systems abound, including standard autonomous emergency braking and lane-keep assist.

Sadly, I wouldn’t count on the T-Roc coming to the US. Volkswagen will undoubtedly seek to capitalize on the US subcompact crossover market, but we’ve been told that the T-Roc doesn’t fit the bill. It’ll launch in Europe in November.