Car Reviews

New 2020 Volkswagen Golf R: prices, specs and launch date

Our spy photographers have snapped the new Volkswagen Golf R inside and out, ahead of its expected launch later this year

The next-generation Volkswagen Golf R hot hatch is being pushed through the final phases of its development programme. The German brand’s latest rival for the Mercedes-AMG A 35 and the Honda Civic Type R will make its official debut later this year – and we’ve spied it wearing minimal camouflage.

The new Volkswagen Golf R will be the third and final performance variant of the brand’s eighth-generation family hatchback, following the plug-in hybrid GTE and GTI hot hatchback. It’s also expected to be the most powerful R-badged Golf yet, with an expected output of 328bhp. Here’s everything we know so far.

  • Best hot hatchbacks 2020

New Volkswagen Golf R: design and interior

Our latest spy shots reveal the new Golf R’s exterior styling in full and, like its predecessors, it’ll remain one of the most understated hot hatchbacks on the market. The body kit looks broadly similar to the styling pack found on the regular Golf R-Line, with only a couple of telltale ducts – most of which allow for extra cooling for the car’s engine and brakes.

Updates include a tweaked front bumper with new diagonal struts, broader side skirts with protruding aero vanes and a subtly redesigned rear bumper with an uprated rear diffuser and a larger-bore quad-exit exhaust. Its ride height is also significantly lower than the standard Golf’s, while larger, R-branded discs and calipers hide behind the car’s alloy wheels.

Volkswagen will also fit the Golf R with a pair of unique headlights, which bear a fresh design signature compared to the lesser-specced hatchbacks – and which will also likely employ the brand’s Matrix LED lighting technology. Finally, at the rear, there’s a larger tailgate spoiler.

These new images also provide our first glimpse at the Golf R’s interior which, save for a new sports steering wheel and pair of R-branded bucket seats, will be identical to the Mk8 Golf’s. Buyers get the same 10-inch digital instrument binnacle and central infotainment screen – and the same capacitive controls for the heating and ventilation system.

New Volkswagen Golf R: engine and performance

Volkswagen’s latest Golf R will be powered by the same engine as the Golf GTI – a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol unit, codenamed “EA228” – although, it’ll have much more power than its lesser-badged sibling.

A recently leaked internal document suggested that the latest Golf R will have an output of 328bhp. As such, it’ll be the most powerful version yet, boasting an extra 32bhp over the previous-generation model. This output will also suitably distance the range-topping Golf R from the mid-range Golf GTI, which produces 242bhp.

Other technical details are yet to be confirmed, but we expect the Golf R will send its power to Volkswagen’s familiar 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system via a seven-speed DSG gearbox only – no manual version of the Golf R is anticipated this time. The 0–62mph sprint should take around 4.5 seconds, while top speed will be electronically limited to 155mph.

New Volkswagen Golf R: price and on-sale date

It’s likely that the Golf R will be revealed later this summer with UK sales likely to commence in early 2021. When it reaches Volkswagen showrooms, prices are likely to climb, given the extra power and new on-board technology. We anticipate a starting price of around £37,000.

What does the new Volkswagen Golf R have to beat? Check out our list of the best hot hatchbacks on sale now

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Car Reviews

New 2022 Volvo V40: prices, specs and on-sale date

The new Volvo V40 will bolster the brand’s range of small “40” models, evolving from a hatchback into a compact crossover

Volvo will soon launch a “pseudo-SUV” as an indirect successor to the discontinued V40 hatchback. The announcement was recently confirmed by the company’s European boss – and the crossover is expected to go on sale within the next two years.

When it eventually reaches the UK, the new Volvo V40 will go up against an ever-expanding range of premium compact crossovers. The segment is currently dominated by the Audi Q2, BMW X2 and Mercedes GLA – all of which act as a more expensive alternative to the class-founding Nissan Juke.

  • Volvo XC40 review

Volvo V40 crossover: platform and specs

Until its death in August 2019, the old V40 hatchback was the only model in Volvo’s line-up which hadn’t migrated to the brand’s larger SPA or CMA underpinnings. It was still based on an adapted version of the Ford C1 platform, which was acquired during Volvo’s stint under the American company’s control between 1999 and 2010.

Since then, however, Volvo’s ownership has been transferred to the Chinese automotive giant Geely – which means the next V40 will likely move to a larger, taller and more modern platform which offers support for electrification.

There’s the potential for the new V40 to use an adapted version of the CMA underpinnings found under the XC40. This would allow the newcomer to share the same line-up of three- and four-cylinder combustion engines, along with Volvo’s recently launched 1.5-litre plug-in hybrid and all-electric powertrains.

Lex Kerssemakers, Volvo’s Senior Vice President for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, recently told Auto Express how customer trends and growing need for hybrid drive has ruled out a conventional low-slung hatchback replacement for the V40.

We need to do something more creative,” he said. “That’s why we have decided to not just replace the V40 on a one-to-one basis. There’s two things you can’t exclude in the thinking process towards the next generation of V40. The high seating position is really an issue, and we see a lot of people moving from V40 into XC40.

“I was part of it and ran the project when we started the XC40 – that polarisation between high and low was much stronger five years ago. Now, you see even the die-hard low seating people moving to the higher seats. I personally think they may move back in a while, because it’s a different driving experience, but it’s a trend.”

  • Volvo recalls 2.2 million cars for seatbelt fault

Kerssemakers continued with the topic of electrification, adding: “You cannot offer a new car any more which is not equipped to be fully electrified. And to be fully electrified you need capacity to put the batteries in. If you try to achieve that through width and length then you’re instantly into the C/D segment, where we already have V60, S60 and XC60.

“So then you need to use height, so you’re going into an SUV. And that’s where you need creativity. Can we in some way satisfy the hatchback customers at the same time as satisfying the high ingress-egress people and the battery package? That’s the cocktail we’re playing around with now.”

When asked if this plan would deliver an XC40-related version of the V40 (similar to the relationship BMW has built between its “crossover” X2 and “SUV” X1), Kerssemakers said: “Potentially, yes. You see that we are not the first to realise this, of course; look at what our competition is doing. We’re not geniuses.

“I don’t want to talk too much about our competitors but the original [Mercedes] A-Class was a genius car when it was launched. It was just 15 years too early. It fulfilled all of the demands that I’ve just talked about. So we need to learn from the past as well as looking to the future.”

New Volvo V40 crossover: design and positioning

Over the last year or so, speculation has grown that the new V40 will look like Volvo’s 40.2 concept. It appeared alongside the Volvo 40.1 concept back in 2016, which eventually morphed into the production-ready XC40 SUV. However, Kerssemakers has quelled this speculation, stating: “We’ve given that car to Polestar now, in effect.”

Our exclusive images provide a good indication of how the production-ready Volvo V40 could look. The final car will likely feature elements of the XC40’s design – sharing a similar radiator grille and near identical headlamp units – but it’ll have a lower roofline, slightly lower suspension and a more rakish rear end.

Kerssemakers has also ruled out the notion that Volvo will build a smaller model to sit below its current entry-level 40 range, insisting that the company can achieve its goal of rising from around 650,000 to 800,000 global sales without additional models.

He said: “Of course we’ve looked at [a smaller model], but we’ve clearly decided that there’s probably room for another body style alongside the XC40 in the next two to three years, and that’s what we’re exploring. But that’s it then. Then we go into more depth – keeping our powertrains up, keeping the infotainment up to spec, and so forth.

“That means, indirectly, that we are not in the rat race of filling every niche. We have increased our coverage of the market from a product line-up perspective and that’s okay. If you talk about small cars it’d be a different type of car – fully electric, probably. So I can tell you right now that we have no plans to do so. We’ve no plans in the near future to extend our portfolio, other than through electrification [of existing models].”

Are you sad to hear that the Volvo V40 will be morphing into a compact crossover? Let us know your thoughts below…

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Car Reviews

See Tesla Model Y And Ford Mustang Mach-E Side By Side For First Time

At least these are the first pictures we’ve seen of these two EVs next to each other.

The biggest showdown between EVs in 2020 is undoubtedly that the Tesla Model Y and the Mustang Mach-E will perform when the Ford is finally for sale. No one has seen them side by side in the wild so far apart from Simon Wong. He owns a Model Y and was kind enough to share that sight with everyone through some tweets, including the Everything Tesla Model Y YouTube channel, which decided to make the video above based on Wong’s pictures.

According to the photographer, the cars were pictured charging in Waterloo, Ontario. The video tells us that this location is more precisely the outside of Ford’s Research and Development Center, where Level 3 charging is currently free for all-electric vehicles. Ford is probably testing its chargers that way.

The video and pictures offer a more precise idea of how the Model Y and the Mach-E compare in terms of size. The video also provides charts to compare them in more detail. They also present the ranges of both EVs. Just make sure you pause the video since the tables change very rapidly.

What the charts confirm is that the Mach-E is slightly smaller than the Model Y except in wheelbase. Ford’s is 3.2 in longer than Tesla’s, which could imply it will offer more legroom for the people on the back seat. Curiously, it doesn’t. Despite being narrower, the Mach-E offers more hip and shoulder room both in the front and back seats.

Tesla’s focus on efficiency also stands out with those charts. Despite being a heavier vehicle with a smaller battery pack – about 75 kWh – the Model Y has a longer range than the Mach-E and its bigger pack, which holds 98.8 kWh: 316 mi against 270 mi when AWD versions are compared. Will buyers be forgiving about that when pricing is on the table? Remember that Ford still makes the cut to have the federal tax incentive of $7,500.

Which other aspects of these cars would you want to compare if you could see them side by side like Wong? By the end of 2020, that will probably be a common situation. Until then, thank Wong and Everything Tesla Model Y for helping us see that.

Sources: Simon Wong and Everything Tesla Model Y

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Nick Heidfeld’s inside line on Formula E’s unique demands

Find out what it takes to be a true racer in the high-performance, all-electric world of Formula E in the latest episode of Mahindra Blueprints.

Since Formula E took the world stage by storm in 2014, its cast of city circuits and electric-powered cars posed an all-new challenge to the drivers who dared to enter.

Mahindra reserve and development driver and ex-Formula E driver Nick Heidfeld answers the most frequently asked questions about how to drive successfully in the championship.

He talks about how to best manage energy in the course of a race, and how Formula E’s demands are unique compared to other series.

Tune in to find out what makes a Formula E driver tick, and how it feels to tackle some of the world’s most recognisable circuits.

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Binder not ‘stressed’ at losing Espargaro’s KTM input

KTM MotoGP rider Brad Binder insists he isn’t worried about the Austrian manufacturer’s development stalling in 2021 owing to the defection of Pol Espargaro to Honda.

Although not yet confirmed, Espargaro is leaving KTM to join Marc Marquez at Honda next season, with Miguel Oliveira being promoted from Tech 3 to join Binder in the works team.

Binder is one of two KTM rookies for 2020 along with Tech 3’s Iker Lecuona, whose teammate next year will be outgoing factory Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci.

KTM’s RC16 has gained a reputation for being a difficult bike to adapt to for riders coming from other manufacturers, with Johann Zarco and Hafizh Syharin both struggling on the bike last year having made the transition from satellite Yamaha machinery.

However, Binder feels Petrucci’s experience will still prove vital, and noted test rider Dani Pedrosa’s input has already taken the KTM project forward.

When asked by if he was worried about the lack of experience in the KTM ranks for the 2021 season in light of Espargaro’s forthcoming departure, Binder replied: “Absolutely not, I’m really not stressed at all. 

“You have obviously Miguel and I who are new, which obviously we don’t have too much experience. But a guy coming in like Danilo is great in my opinion, because he’s been on the factory Ducati the last couple of years.

Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“The guy’s been on the podium a good few times and he is a race winner. So, I think his input is going to be amazing. At the same time we’ve got Dani Pedrosa, who everything he brings pretty much seems to work better and be an improvement for all of us.

“I think KTM is working in a great direction and the future is going to be bright.”

Binder will be reunited with former Moto3 and Moto2 teammate Oliveira next year, and the South African believes the pair pushing each other on will only be “good for the project”. 

“We have been teammates since 2015 for the first time, and I’ve found that we always worked well together,” Binder said. “The first years I’ve always been a step behind him, but I’ve always got to the same level as him and we’ve always fought quite a lot. 

“I think it’s great because we really push each other on a lot and I think it can be good for the project as well.

“We’ve been KTM boys from the beginning and now we’re in MotoGP. So, it’s really cool to see and we’re part of the KTM family and that’s where we plan on staying, I imagine.”

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Car Reviews

BMW Group Plug-In Car Sales: Down In Q2, But Up In H1 2020

Last quarter, sales went down by almost 5%, but the first half of the year was actually positive.

BMW Group has noted a significant 25.3% year-over-year decrease in vehicle sales in the second quarter of 2020 (23.2% in the case of BMW brand and 38.2% in the case of MINI brand), although plug-in car sales were not affected that much.

The total plug-in car sales (globally) amounted to 31,095, which is 4.9% less than a year ago or 6.4% of the total volume of BMW and MINI cars.

BMW and MINI plug-in car sales worldwide – Q2 2020

The small decrease during the COVID-19-related lockdown is not a bad result, especially since the company soon will start its all-electric car offensive with the BMW iX3, followed by BMW i4 and BMW iNEXT next year.

BMW notes also that the upcoming stronger incentivization of electrified vehicles in Germany will also help to sell more plug-ins.

During the first six months of 2020, BMW sold 61,652 plug-in cars, which is 3.4% more than a year ago, thanks to decent Q1.

Pieter Nota, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Customer, Brands and Sales said:

“We are following the development of global demand very closely and continue to plan for various scenarios so we can respond quickly as regions around the globe recover from the coronavirus pandemic at different speeds. We are seeing a positive development in China, where our second-quarter sales were once again higher than in the previous year,” underlined Nota. “Demand for our electrified vehicles also outperformed the market trend in the first half of the year. Our wide range of plug-in hybrid models and the new fully-electric MINI are in high demand among our customers,”.


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Car Reviews

Portland Speedway Grand Re-Opening

Grand Re-Opening at Portland Speedway By Derrick Shannon Portland, Or. July 23. It has been just over two weeks since the curtain fell on the asphalt era of racing at the historic Portland Speedway and the transformation is almost complete, as …

Grand Re-Opening at Portland Speedway
By Derrick Shannon

Portland, Or. July 23. It has been just over two weeks since the curtain fell on the asphalt era of racing at the historic Portland Speedway and the transformation is almost complete, as the staff readies for the new era of dirt racing that will begin on Friday August 4. Five thousand cubic yards of clay have been hauled in and now lays where the asphalt of yesterday once sat. Constructions crews have been working non-stop in preparation for the Grand Re-Opening presented by Baxter Auto Parts/Auto Value featuring the Hy-Per-Lube Northern Sprint Tour.

The Hy-Per-Lube Northern Sprint Tour boasts a roster of 50 drivers from all over the Northwest piloting winged 360 sprint cars who skillfully pitch their cars sideways through the corners lap after lap, this type of racing action is what makes dirt racing some of the most exciting in all of motorsports. The inaugural Portland race is stop number 15 on the 21 race tour, which travels throughout Oregon, Washington, and into Montana. Two time and defending series champion, Shawna Wilskey, will vie for the initial trophy on the new half-mile clay oval. These cars will reach speeds in excess of 120 mph on the straights, which will surely add excitement as the drivers negotiate the new track. Joining the NST will be the Pro-Four West Modifieds, these cars are similar to IMCA and Grand American Modifieds that race at many tracks across the country. The Pro-Four West is a touring series that competes on tracks throughout the Northwest, and will add side by side, wheel rubbin’ excitement to the evening of racing.

Gates for the Grand Re-Opening will open at 5pm, with racing screaming of the line at 7pm. Tickets for this event can be purchased at any G.I. Joes Ticketmaster locations or by logging onto This is only the beginning of dirt racing at Portland Speedway, coming August 25,26, the Greatest show on dirt, the Pennzoil World of Outlaws, and in 2001, a whole new Friday Night program that is sure to knock your socks off. See you at the races!

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Farfus replaces Turner at Aston Martin for final WEC races

BMW factory driver Augusto Farfus will make a return to the FIA World Endurance Championship with Aston Martin for the final rounds of the 2019/20 season, replacing Darren Turner.

Farfus, who contested the bulk of the 2018/19 WEC superseason for BMW, including both of that campaign’s two Le Mans 24 Hours, has been recruited to drive the British manufacturer’s factory-run GTE Am entry by car owner Paul Dalla Lana.

The Brazilian will share the #98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE with Dalla Lana and Ross Gunn at Spa in August, Le Mans in September and then the Bahrain finale in November. 

He is replacing long-time Aston Martin Racing driver Turner, who will focus on development of the marque’s Valkyrie road car over the remainder of this year.

Farfus will also contest the second round of the European Le Mans Series at Spa on August 9, a week before the WEC event at the Belgian track, alongside Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda, who drove the #98 car in the WEC in 2015-2018/19. 

Dalla Lana, 2017 WEC GTE Am champion with Lauda and Pedro Lamy, said: “I’ve been friends with Augusto for a long time, and we’ve wanted to race together for a while, but it’s only now that a break in his programme has allowed us to do this.”

John Gaw, managing director of Aston Martin Racing, added: “Paul has chosen to recruit Augusto Farfus to race with him and we look forward to welcoming him to the team.”

A long-time BMW driver in the DTM, Farfus’s main programme with the German manufacturer this season is with the Walkenhorst team in the Intercontinental GT Challenge.

Le Mans this year will be his fifth assault on the French race, but his first not driving a BMW and also his first in the GTE Am ranks.

Aston will also contest the Paul Ricard ELMS opener this month as well as the following race at Spa, marking its first foray into the series as a factory entrant.

Dalla Lana, who will contest the first round at Paul Ricard on July 19 with Gunn and Lauda, said: “I’ve really missed competing on the track, and getting the opportunity to put in extra competitive miles in the ELMS is really exciting.

“The ELMS presents a tough challenge, and the races are long enough to test our skills and our systems as we prepare to return to WEC.”

Aston has stressed that three-time Le Mans class winner Turner will make a full-time return to the race track in 2021.

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Vettel challenges Ferrari claims over contract decision

Sebastian Vettel has challenged Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto’s claim that the COVID-19 crisis was the trigger for the change of philosophy that led to his contract not being renewed.

Binotto said ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix that while Vettel’s was Ferrari’s first choice, the pandemic led the Maranello squad to change its preferences.

“I think the virus and pandemic situation, which changed the entire world, not only our motorsport, our F1,” he said.

“The budget cap has been changed by quite a lot, and is a lot more strict, the regulations have been postponed from ’21 to ’22, which somehow was something important for us.

“So during the shutdown as Ferrari we had to eventually reconsider our position.” 

When questioned for the first time on Ferrari’s decision to drop him for 2021, Vettel revealed last week that the news came in a “surprise” phone call from Binotto.

“Yes, that’s what I said,” Vettel told ServusTV when asked to clarify. “I think that the last five years haven’t brought what I think was the goal from both sides. Still, I think that it would have been an option to continue and work on the goal in any case.

“And that had been communicated in the same way. I was told that we want to continue. Until I got a phone call out of nowhere, when I was told that there would be no offer, that there would be no future.

“That surprised me at first. The conditions with corona and so on – I don’t want to harp on it now, but I don’t think they’ll be that decisive.

“There were also some reports that we could not agree on the financial aspects. So that was not an issue at all and would not have been an issue.

“If you have been in Formula 1 for so long and you’ve been lucky enough to be so successful and on the other hand gain a certain independence, that would certainly not have been an obstacle, which is why it was surprising.

“But well, the decision as it is, I don’t have a problem with it and I accept it as it is, but I’m still trying to do my job this year and do a better job than yesterday and do the best for the team to bring this to a good end.”

Vettel insisted that his future remain plans remain open, but he made it clear that he wants to continue to race in the right environment.

“Honestly, I haven’t made a decision yet, and I don’t know yet for myself either. What’s important, of course, is to find an environment that fits. I have enjoyed the last five years very much in many respects, but the last five years have also taken a lot of energy.

“The goal at that time was to rebuild the team. And certainly both sides have tried everything. But at the end of the day we failed on both sides, because the title didn’t come. That was the big goal. Now this is a new situation for me. It will be important for me to find something that is good for me and fun. I think that is a very important thing.

“As I mentioned earlier, the financial aspect is not at all in the foreground. And of course I am still very ambitious, motorsport is my life. I don’t know any other way, except the last three months it’s been a little different.

“But I wouldn’t really want to miss it. With the right job and the right place I would still feel very much at home in a Formula 1 car. I think the next few weeks, months, will shed light – also for myself – on what is possible, and what I want to do.”

Vettel said that he made contact with Red Bull’s Helmut Marko immediately after he received the call from Binotto.

“I called him right after the decision, but not to ask, ‘Helmut, do you have a place?’, but because I get along very well with him and he has been a confidant for years.

“I asked him for advice. I described the situation to him as it is. He’s known for putting his heart on his sleeve. And then I spoke to him. What will come out in the end remains to be seen. The talks in this regard are of my own making.”

Asked about the option of Mercedes, he suggested that it was unlikely that the Brackley team would have a seat for him.

“I think that the team, as it is currently driving, is very happy and is doing very well. The last few years prove that right. I can understand that they want to stick with it. No decision has been made in this respect yet. In theory, both places are still free. But is clear that Lewis can stay if he wants to. And the same goes, after yesterday, for Valtteri.”

He conceded that there were three options, namely to find a seat for 2021, take a year out and return in 2022, or stop for good.

“I think you have to – at least that’s how my head works – I think if you make the decision to close the door, you shouldn’t make it in such a way that you have the hope to open it again. Unless it is clear from the outset.

“I believe that you must then be ready for yourself to be ready to keep the door closed. In other words: if it does not open, for whatever reason, then one should not regret the decision.”


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Motocrew cuts down BMW Motorrad's K100RS –

At its essence, a motorcycle is two wheels, engine and a frame, with suspension which is pretty much what German outfit Motocrew has reduced BMW Motorrad’s K100RS sports-tourer down to. For those who might not know, the K100RS was BMW Motorrad’s first foray outside its traditional boxer-twin layout.

When released in 1984, BMW Motorrad fans were… divided. The purists, much like the Harley-Davidson fans when the VRSC with its Porsche developed DOCH, liquid-cooled Revolution V-twin was released, howled and bayed for blood, saying the “character” of the brand was diminished.

Needless to say, due to the machinations of the stubborn and unyielding, Harley-Davidson was left in a technological vacuum for 25 years. BMW Motorrad, however, didn’t, doing well with it’s inline four cylinder as installed in the S-series motorcycles, while also having in its motorcycle engine range an inline-six, parallel-twin, single-cylinder and retaining its best selling boxer-twin.

Coming back to the K100RS molested by Motocrew, the team felt the K100RS, because of its sport-touring origins, was a little portly in the back, reports To that end, the rear sub-frame was hacked off, replaced with a cafe racer tail, tying the frame line, painted in white, to the bottom of the fuel tank.

A pair of vanes, also in white, fill in the gap at the front end of the tank, a function formerly performed by the K100RS’ front fairing. Adopting the cafe racer design style, the headlight is a single, round, LED unit, in keeping with the overall retro theme.

The longitudinal inline-four, resting on its side and dubbed the “Flying Brick” by aficionados, is not coated a satin black, as are all components below the fuel. The original K100RS airbag was dumped in favour of a diminutive DNA air filter while new exhaust headers lead into a SC Project CR-T exhaust.

If you’re looking for the front turn signals, they’re there and practically invisible. Motocrew relocated the turn signals to the bar ends, where the wing mirrors are located while the rear turn signals are located inside the frame rails.

MotoGadget supplies the minimalist speedometer and bluetooth-enabled mo.unit blue controller allowing for keyless start of the Motocrew K100RS. Tokico brake callipers axial-mounted on upside-down forks completes the K100RS build.

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