Car Reviews

New Skoda Octavia vRS line-up completed as petrol and diesel models arrive

Skoda has unwrapped the complete Octavia line-up, which now offers a choice of petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid powertrains

Skoda has unveiled the fourth-generation Octavia vRS line-up in full. The range is due to go on sale in the UK this autumn and when it arrives, it’ll act as a more practical alternative to traditional hot hatchbacks such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Renaultsport Megane.

Buyers will be offered their pick of either a hatchback or estate, as well as a choice of three engines, which includes a petrol, a diesel and a plug-in hybrid powertrain – a first for the vRS. 

  • New 2020 Skoda Octavia vRS iV plugs in with 242bhp

The petrol engine is the Volkswagen Group’s familiar turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit, which is also found in the Golf GTI. It produces 242bhp and 370Nm of torque and it sends power to the front wheels via a seven-speed automatic gearbox – all of which offers a 0–62mph time of 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 155mph.

Skoda’s diesel Octavia vRS uses Volkswagen’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit, which develops 197bhp. The engine will be offered with a choice of either front- or four-wheel-drive and a seven-speed DSG transmission – although Skoda is yet to officially confirm the engine’s performance specs.

Finally, the plug-in hybrid Octavia vRS iV is powered by a 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and a 113bhp electric motor. It’s the same powertrain as the new Golf GTE, developing 242bhp and 400Nm, while CO2 emissions could be as low as 30g/km under WLTP rules.

As well as that CO2 figure, Skoda claims that this hot Octavia can go from 0–62mph in 7.3 seconds and reach a top speed of 139mph. And that’s all while being able to cover 37 miles on electric power only – just as long as you can regularly recharged the car’s 13kWh battery pack. Power is sent to the front axle only, via a six-speed DSG gearbox that can be controlled using paddle-shifters found behind the steering wheel.

Skoda has also fitted a range of chassis upgrades across the vRS line-up, including 15mm lower sports suspension, adaptive dampers, a unique steering profile and a limited-slip differential for the petrol-powered models. The TSI versions also feature 17-inch disc brakes all round, while the diesel gets 16-inch brake up front and 15-inch brakes at the rear.

Design and interior

Elsewhere, the latest Octavia vRS gets a sporty visual transformation. It has a body kit with new, aggressive cuts, and air vents with gloss-black surrounds, a new front bumper, rear diffuser and roof spoiler, while wheels of up to 19 inches can be specified. Gloss-black 18in wheels come as standard, along with full LED-matrix headlights and LED tail-lights.

Best hot hatchbacks on sale now

Inside, the Octavia vRS gets an Alcantara headlining and dashboard trim, Alcantara sports seats, aluminium pedals and a pair of 10-inch screens – one behind the steering wheel and one mounted in the centre of the dashboard. The new sports steering wheel is also a unique three-spoke unit, compared with the two-spoke wheel on the normal Octavia.

2020 Skoda Octavia vRS: pricing

Prices for the plug-in iV version are likely to start from £32,000, and it will be positioned as the most expensive version of the new Octavia vRS trio. UK specifications and standard equipment levels have not yet been finalised, however.

Do you like the look of the new Skoda Octavia vRS iV? Let us know your thoughts below…

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Car Reviews

Citroen Boss Expects Rise In Post-Pandemic EV Demand

He argues that there are several key factors that will prove him right.

Vincent Cobee is Citroen’s executive vice president and he believes the post COVID-19 pandemic world will be a more EV-friendly world. He argues that between governments’ new incentive plans meant to boost the sales of EVs and buyers’ newfound environmental awareness, more of them will find homes in the near future.

It has to be said, though, that we’re still not in a post-pandemic world quite yet, as many areas are still struggling with hundreds or even thousands of newly infected people every day. And that’s just in the places that do a lot of testing, so we can’t say when Cobee’s prediction will come into play.

The Citroen boss talked about this expected trend on the sidelines of the new C4 launch. The model is also available as the fully-electric e-C4, which is expected to account for up to 10 percent of all new C4 sales in Europe.

He said:

“The last four months have seen a transformation of society and one of the ways out is the transformation of regulations, with a push towards low-carbon vehicles. So we are expecting that the unexpected could happen and I wouldn’t be surprised if the market share of EVs moves towards 20% very, very rapidly, especially with a car like the C4.”

And added that even though EVs are more expensive to buy, their running and maintenance costs over time should prove lower. He thinks that once buyers become more aware of this fact, the shift towards EVs will be even greater.

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Car Reviews

Grizzl-E Vs ChargePoint Vs JuiceNet: EV Charging Stations Compared

Which brand of commercial EV charging station costs the least to own and operate? We check the numbers.

When we wrote about the new Grizzl-E Power Control and Payment Solution recently, many were skeptical such a system could ever turn a profit, let alone as quickly as Grizzl-E claims. The skepticism is warranted; commercial charging systems as we know them today do not make money. Businesses buy and operate them at a loss as an benefit for their customers, but are unlikely ever to recoup the cost of the hardware and ongoing fees they’re charged.

How are we going to electrify our entire fleet with that approach? Millions of commercial chargers will not be built without a financial incentive to do so. Grizzl-E’s solution is the first one to disrupt the existing paradigm and offer an actual return on investment. So let’s let the numbers tell the story and compare the costs of running a Grizzl-E commercial charging system versus similar systems from ChargePoint and JuiceNet.

ChargePoint CT4000

Initial Costs

It’s clear to see the initial cost of a Grizzl-E commercial charging system is significantly less than one from ChargePoint or JuiceNet. The reason why is Grizzl-E’s unique Power Control and Payment Hub (PCPH).

The Grizzl-E system consists of individual chargers, which cost $499 apiece, and the PCPH, which costs $2,000. The PCPH is a single smart control device that manages up to 42 individual chargers and does things like control power flow, accept payments, print receipts, and store the system’s data. 

Gallery: Grizzl-E Power Control and Payment Solution

13 Photos

The individual chargers, meanwhile, are much simpler devices, almost identical to Grizzl-E’s residential EV charging stations, but with added tech inside to communicate with the PCPH. So when building out a commercial charging station from Grizzl-E, you only need to buy one PCPH and as many individual chargers as you want. 

What about ChargePoint and JuiceNet? Neither offers a central smart controller, and their individual chargers are considerably more expensive – shockingly so. That’s because each individual charger sold by ChargePoint and JuiceNet is itself a smart control device; they all contain the equivalent of a Grizzl-E PCPH smart controller. Clearly, buying that expensive smart control hardware over and over adds up quickly when you’re building an EV charging station with dozens of individual chargers.

Ongoing Costs

There are at least two types of ongoing costs you pay when running a commercial EV charging station. The first are costs that would be the same no matter which company’s system you choose – things like the cost of electricity and, if applicable, the cost of internet via WiFi or cellular. The second are fees charged by the company that sold you the charging system. 

These latter fees are what can drastically increase the cost of one company’s system versus another. For instance, ChargePoint requires every individual charging station you buy to have a network service plan for 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 years that’s billed to you monthly. You also need to pay a monthly fee for ChargePoint Assure, another maintenance and management program on top of the service plan. Also, you’ll pay ChargePoint to install its system because the company uses its own installers. While every charging station will incur an installation cost, with ChargePoint, you don’t have the option to shop around for the best price from multiple electricians. 

Grizzl-E has zero fees. Aside from the cost of electricity and connecting to the internet, a Grizzl-E system will incur no ongoing costs.

JuiceNet isn’t quite as bad as ChargePoint in this regard. It only charges one fee: $60 per year for JuiceNet software that gives you cloud-based charging system control features and reporting. Unfortunately, that’s $60 per charger per year. For a charging station with 30 individual chargers, that adds up to another $1,800 per year in fees paid to JuiceNet.

Grizzl-E has zero fees. Aside from the cost of electricity and connecting to the internet, a Grizzl-E system will incur no ongoing costs. The company has chosen a business model that doesn’t charge customers monthly fees for features that should only be paid for once and come standard with the cost of the hardware. You still get all those great features like access to reporting, energy management, user authorization, and more – they’re all built into the central PCPH module – you’re just not charged a monthly fee to access them. 

And as for service, Grizzl-E provides a standard three-year warranty on all of its systems. Like the features mentioned above, the warranty comes with the cost of the hardware for no extra charge. Remember what ChargePoint does? Requires you buy two separate service plans and bills you monthly for them.


A revolution in the commercial charging industry is coming, and it’s being led by Grizzl-E. The first generation of commercial chargers has been so expensive to buy and operate that, on a national scale, very few are built. That’s because business owners and investors know up front they’ll lose money installing a commercial EV charging station. Grizzl-E, though, is blowing up that model by charging reasonable prices for its hardware and not gouging its customers with never-ending monthly fees. 

And Grizzl-E’s not done. In the months ahead the company will be unveiling more products and new features for its existing products. Stay tuned!

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Car Reviews

The Tesla Model Y Is a Solid Crossover For Families: Find Out Why

No car is perfect, and this Tesla owner admits that. However, the Tesla Model Y may be perfect for some families.

Ben Sullins is a hardcore Tesla fan. In fact, he was one of the original Tesla YouTubers that joined the revolution that has now exploded into a multitude of Tesla owners producing video content about the brand. Since Sullins has had plenty of experience with Tesla vehicles, it has been interesting to get his take on the Model Y.

Like many Tesla owners, he has had positives and negatives to share, which is exactly what we expect. No car is perfect, though Sullins does go so far as to say that the all-new Tesla Model Y is the “Perfect Family Crossover.”

Would the Model Y be perfect for you? It’s not fair for us to answer that question or for Sullins to suggest that with absolute certainty. What’s perfect for him and his family may not work for you. However, he sits down with his wife Jennie to go over the Model Y’s family-friendly details.

What makes a car good for a family? Well, it depends on many details that only you are aware of. Do you have children? Are they still in car seats and strollers or are they adult-sized teens? How big is your family? Do you plan on transporting bikes or towing something?

The Model Y is a special vehicle in that it’s a sporty crossover with plenty of all-electric range, as well as lots of practicality. There really isn’t another vehicle on the market today that checks all these boxes, aside from the much more expensive Tesla Model X. If the Model Y is out of your price range ($53,000-$61,000), check out the Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia Niro EV, and Tesla Model 3. In addition, if you wait it out, the Model Y should come to market in cheaper versions in the future.

In the meantime, watch Sullins’ video and then leave us your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Car Reviews

Tesla Is Leading The Charge In A Battery Revolution

If you were looking to nominate a technology as the most influential of the early 21st century, batteries would be a logical choice.

This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX, which makes and sells aftermarket Tesla accessories. The opinions expressed therein are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs, nor have we been paid by EVANNEX to publish these articles. We find the company’s perspective as an aftermarket supplier of Tesla accessories interesting and are willing to share its content free of charge. Enjoy!

Posted on EVANNEX on July 03, 2020 by Charles Morris

Cheap, compact batteries made smartphones and mobile computing possible, and larger and more powerful batteries represent the enabling technology behind electric mobility, renewable energy and the smart grid. 

As is the case with any new technology, the applications of battery storage expand as its cost falls. Increasing demand leads to more production, which drives continuing cost reductions and performance improvements in a virtuous circle.

Over the past decade, battery costs have seen a dramatic drop—from over $1,000 per kilowatt-hour in 2010 to around $156 per kWh in 2019, according to BloombergNEF. That’s getting very close to the “magic number” of $100/kWh that many believe will bring EVs to price parity with legacy vehicles, and end the Oil Age. What factors have contributed to this rapid reduction in prices?

Timothy B. Lee, writing in Ars Technica, points out that Tesla has played a major role, not only by bringing electric cars into the mainstream, but by focusing on the importance of battery tech from the start. “Tesla has been a battery company as much as it is a car company,” Lee writes. “Tesla recognized the potential scale of the battery market before most other companies, and has become a leading player in the market for grid storage.”

Tesla followed a classic tech-industry strategy of starting with a low-volume, high-cost product (the Roadster) and progressing to lower-cost mass-market offerings (Models 3 and Y). This iterative process was enabled in large part by falling battery costs. “Model S was designed and introduced about five years after the Roadster, and we saw improvements of around 40 percent on the battery technology, the fundamental chemistry, the packaging of the battery pack itself,” JB Straubel said in 2014. “That directly translated into how we can get close to 300 miles of range in a Model S, almost 85 kWh of energy storage in a pack that’s actually smaller than the Roadster pack.”

As more batteries get produced, economies of scale kick in, and companies learn how to streamline production processes and squeeze out costs. As Mr. Lee explains, economists measure this cost reduction in terms of the learning rate, defined as the percentage decrease in cost for every doubling of manufacturing output. BloombergNEF estimates that, in 2019, the learning rate for batteries was 18 percent. In other words, battery costs fall by 18 percent every time global battery output doubles.

Bloomberg believes that the industry will reach the portentous $100/kWh price point by 2023. Some industry observers suspect that Tesla is already close to achieving the Grail, and will make a historic announcement at Battery Day on September 15.

It isn’t just cars that are driving demand for batteries. Stationary storage for utility applications is a huge growth area—Elon Musk has said that Tesla’s battery business may someday outgrow its automotive angle.

Justin Rowlatt, writing for the BBC, agrees. “Gigantic batteries connected to our electricity grids are going to be central to the great renewable energy revolution,” he writes.

Professor Paul Shearing, a battery expert at University College London, told the BBC that the world is entering “a nearly exponential growth phase.” He points out that Tesla’s vaunted “million-mile battery,” expected to be revealed in September, will not only be good news for EV sales. Longer-lasting batteries are also essential in stationary storage applications.

Utility-scale storage systems use a lot of batteries. In 2017 Tesla installed the world’s largest lithium-ion battery system at the Hornsdale Wind Farm in Australia, with a storage capacity of 129 MWh—equivalent to 2,000 Model 3s or 10 million smartphones. This year, the site’s capacity was increased to 185 MWh. Even so, it will be dwarfed by the planned Manatee Energy Storage Center in Florida, which is supposed to have a capacity of 900 MWh and go online in late 2021. Clearly, more economies of scale, and corresponding price reductions, are coming.

Another avenue to lower cost would be reducing the costs of raw materials such as lithium. Despite the scare stories you may have seen, there’s no risk of a shortage—lithium is plentiful around the world. However, it could emerge as a bottleneck as demand mushrooms, because current methods of extracting lithium from salt deposits are slow and inefficient. Mr. Rowlatt writes that, at the Salar de Atacama in Chile, the evaporation process used to produce lithium salts takes months, and recovers only 30% of the available lithium.

Various companies are working to develop improved refining methods. The BBC reports that EnergyX is developing a new type of nanoparticle filter, which it hopes will be able to recover lithium from a salt solution at a 90% efficiency rate, while reducing the time required from months to days. Another innovator is Lilac Solutions, which is testing an ion-exchange process on the rich lithium deposits at California’s Salton Sea. Tesla, meanwhile, hopes to exploit a huge and easily exploitable trove of lithium in so-called Lithium Valley, just a couple hundred miles north of Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.

So, we see that Tesla is working on several fronts to keep battery costs coming down. As a recent article from Loup Ventures points out, other automakers are falling farther and farther behind. As Gene Munster writes, “We believe Tesla has a competitive advantage in batteries that is under-appreciated by investors. In the future, we expect that advantage to widen.”

By all accounts, Tesla’s batteries are the best in the industry—but that’s not the only advantage the California company enjoys. Its battery supply chain is more mature and robust than that of other automakers. Munster points out that Tesla has strong relationships with battery suppliers. Most of the company’s battery cells are manufactured by long-time battery partner Panasonic at Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory. Loup Ventures believes that over 60% of Panasonic’s battery cell production is currently going to Tesla.

Above: A broad overview of battery electric vehicles using Tesla’s Model S as an example; Note: Since this video aired, Model S range has increased to over 400 miles of range (YouTube: Bloomberg Technology)

Recently, Tesla has also begun working with China’s CATL and South Korea’s LG Chem. As if that weren’t enough, the company is also widely believed to be working on its own battery cell design, which likely uses a new, proprietary chemistry. With its recent acquisitions of Maxwell Technologies and Hibar Systems, Tesla has secured access to cutting-edge battery tech that is sure to lead to further cost reductions. Maxwell’s “dry electrode” manufacturing process could allow Tesla to remake its battery production line, saving loads of money, time and factory space.


Written by: Charles Morris; Source: Ars Technica, BBC, Loup Ventures

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Car Reviews

Electric scooter rental: How to hire an electric scooter near me

Under the new rules, people will be allowed to rent electric scooters on British public roads legally for the first time from Saturday, July 4. Users will be allowed to ride their scooter along roads, cycle tracks and bike lanes – but not motorways and pavements. The Government will not force users to undergo a training course, but it does recommend users do so. Scooters will be limited to a top speed of 15.5mph, and helmets are recommended, but not mandatory for scooter users.

How can you hire an electric scooter near you?

Under the new rules, people will be allowed to rent electric scooters and use them on public roads for the first time.

Electric scooters will be trialled to assess their effectivity, and whether they can be used as a viable alternative to public transport.

Electric scooter trials were originally planned to be limited to four “future transport zones”, but it has since been significantly widened.

The scooters could be used in Portsmouth and Southampton, Derby and Nottingham, the West Midlands and the West of England Combined Authority – which included Bristol, Bath and the Northern Arc.


  • Electric scooters UK: Can you ride e scooters on the road in Britain?

The trials have now been broadened to include all local areas across the UK.

It remains, however, up to local authorities to start their own trials, so if you want to get involved, contact your local council to see what their plans are.

Authorities that choose to take part in the trials will receive support from the Department of Transport in terms of what controls need to be put in place, such as the number of vehicles allowed in the area.

Companies like Bird, Lime, Spin, Wind, Voi, Ginger and Dott are all expected to offer rental scooter services as soon as possible.


  • Electric scooters legal: Are e scooters legal in the UK?

Currently, owners of electric scooters can only use them on private land and with the permission of the landowner,

Rachel Maclean, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, said the Government was taking the opportunity to rebuild transport in a more environmentally friendly way.

Ms Maclean said: “As we emerge from lockdown, we have a unique opportunity in transport to build back in a greener, more sustainable way that could lead to cleaner air and healthier communities across Great Britain.

“E-scooters may offer the potential for convenient, clean and cost-effective travel that may also help ease the burden on the transport network, provide another green alternative to get around and allow for social distancing. The trials will allow us to test whether they do these things.”

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Director of UK policy and Government affairs at US scooter rental company Lime, Alan Clarke, welcomed the move to introduce scooters on a large scale.

Mr Clarke said: “Today’s announcement that the UK is embracing micro mobility, with trials of e-scooters now able to begin, presents a real opportunity for change.

“E-scooters have been commonplace on roads and cities across Europe for some time, and Lime users around the world have already taken more than 150million ride, saving more than 12,000 tonnes of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide), whilst helping to reduce congestion and air pollution.

“Over the coming days, weeks and months as trials start, we’re looking forward to building healthier, greener and safer cities across the UK.”

E-scooters are currently considered illegal in the UK, except for when they are used on private land.

While the use of private electric scooters will remain banned, the Government said the trials would provide an opportunity to “create the evidence necessary to guide final decisions about whether and – if so – how to fully legalise e-scooters”.

Campaigners have described the road ban as “outdated” and claim the vehicles offer an environmentally friendly alternative to cars.

YouTube star and TV presenter Emily Hartridge became the first person to be killed while using an electric scooter when she was hit by a lorry in Battersea, south London, in July last year.

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Car Reviews

2020 Volvo V90 Cross Country: 6 Things We Like (and 4 Not So Much)

The 2020 Volvo V90 Cross Country is a big luxury wagon with a comfortable cabin, plenty of space for your stuff and styling that at least makes it seem like it’s good to go off-road. What makes the Cross Country different from a regular V90? That would be the illusion of off-road prowess — which is mostly rugged-looking plastic cladding when it comes down to it. All-wheel drive is also standard.

Related: 2020 Volvo V90 Cross Country Review: On-Road Luxe, Off-Road Looks

While you’ll probably keep this wagon’s four wheels on the pavement, that doesn’t mean it’s boring; the V90 CC is a luxurious family hauler that rivals some of Volvo’s taller SUVs. For editor’s Aaron Bragman’s comprehensive evaluation of the V90 CC, check out his full review via the related link above. If you want the quick rundown, here are six things we like (and four not so much) about the 2020 Volvo V90 Cross Country:

Things We Like

1. Sleek and Stylish Exterior

Scandanavian style looks classy on a wagon, especially one with such a sleek, long-roof shape. Volvo’s signature “Thor’s hammer” headlights are up front, and in the rear, the LED taillights climb up the D-pillars. The additional matte plastic cladding may or may not be for you, but it does add to the “off-road” feel. Inside, the dash is minimal and modern.

2. Responsive Acceleration

The V90 CC is powered by a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which puts out 316 horsepower and 295 pounds-feet of torque. When you tap into it, acceleration is immediate and powerful. The engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and the powertrain as a whole feels seamless and smooth.

3. Standard Safety 

The wagon comes with an arsenal of safety and driver assistance features. Blind spot warning with steering assist, rear cross-traffic alert with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control with pilot assist and forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking are just a few that come standard. Volvo also has a great track record when it comes to safety, though there are not yet crash-test evaluations for either V90 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

4. User-Friendly Multimedia and Tech

Volvo’s vertically oriented touchscreen looks good on the dash, and its multimedia interface is easy to use. It’s readable and responsive, and it can be reconfigured to your liking. While it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, it also provides controls at your fingertips for things like dropping the rear head restraints for better visibility out the rear window. Volvo’s Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system, an optional feature, is also configurable. The optional Advanced Package adds LED adaptive headlights with a cornering feature, headlight washer, 360-degree surround-view cameras and a head-up display for $2,450.

5. Spacious Interior 

Wagon fans know space is king, and that’s true for the V90 CC. Both front and rear seats are roomy, and three adults can sit relatively comfortably in the backseat. No third row makes for a lot of cargo space in the back — more room, even, than Volvo’s larger XC90 SUV.

6. Reasonably Priced

There’s some debate about whether Volvos fall in the same luxury category as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, or if they’re premium vehicles like Buick and Acura. The V90 CC might have a luxe interior that puts it with the upper echelon, but it has more of a premium price. Starting at $55,545 (including destination fee), the V90 CC is $10,000 less than the starting price of competing wagons like the Audi A6 Allroad or Jaguar XF Sportbrake.

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Things We Don’t

1. Gas Mileage

Fuel economy figures for the V90 CC are fair at best. It gets an EPA-estimated 20/30/24 mpg city/highway/combined. Bragman said he eked out 23.5 mpg over a week that included a lot of highway driving. However, the V90 CC does fare better in this area than its competitors. The Jaguar XF Sportbrake is rated 21/28/24 mpg and the Audi A6 Allroad is rated 20/26/22 mpg.

2. Not So Quiet Cabin

The roof rack on the top of the wagon creates a rushing sound at the top of the windshield and through the moonroof. Coupled with existing road and wind noise, the cabin can be a bit loud.

3. Too Big for the City

The turning radius of the V90 CC is rather wide, which makes it clunky and difficult to maneuver in small, city spaces. That said, it’s a good size for the suburbs.

4. Tall Beltline

For those who drive or ride with an elbow up on the windowsill, the tall beltline in this wagon makes for an awkward and uncomfortable riding position.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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Car Reviews

Red Bull Ring F3: Beckmann tops first practice of 2020

Trident driver David Beckmann topped the opening practice session of the 2020 FIA Formula 3 season on a drying Red Bull Ring.

The 45-minute session began on a wet track after morning rain at the Austrian Grand Prix venue, kicking off track action for this weekend’s long-awaited Formula 1 return. It also marked F3’s first competitive running since last September’s Sochi finale.

Red Bull-backed Kiwi Liam Lawson (Hitech), F3 veteran Jake Hughes (HWA) and new Prema recruit Logan Sargeant were among those to feature at the top of the timesheets in the early stages, before Beckmann moved to the fore with a 1m30.458s.

The German, who was a last-minute replacement at Trident for Devlin DeFrancesco, then became the first driver to break the 90-second barrier with a 1m29.686s with 20 minutes left.

That was beaten soon after by Matteo Nannini (Jenzer), the nephew of former grand prix ace Alessandro, who held the top spot while the field transitioned from wet to slick tyres.

Another famous racing nephew, David Schumacher (Charouz), kicked off a flurry of improvements with eight minutes left on the clock. 

Schumacher was also the first to dip beneath the 1m25s mark with six minutes to go, before Sebastian Fernandez (ART), Alex Peroni (Campos), Lawson and Clement Novalak (Carlin) all enjoyed brief stints at the top of the times.

Prema’s Oscar Piastri then went quickest on a 1m21.377s with two minutes left, and improved to a 1m20.516s less than a minute before the chequered flag.

Beckmann however managed to best the Australian driver by just 0.079s as he registered a 1m20.434s to end the first session of 2020 on top.

Behind Piastri, 16-year-old Roman Stanek, whose place at Charouz was only announced on Thursday, was third-quickest on a 1m20.963s, followed by Schumacher and Macau Grand Prix winner Richard Verschoor (MP Motorsport).

Formula Regional European champion Frederik Vesti was second-best of the Prema drivers in sixth, followed by Hughes, Igor Fraga (Charouz), Fernandez and Lawson. American driver Sargeant ended up 12th-fastest in the third of the Prema-run cars.

In her first competitive FIA F3 session, Campos driver Sophia Floersch was 18th-fastest, 1.3s off the pace and one place behind teammate Peroni, who this weekend is set to race for the first time since his horrifying aerial crash at Monza last year.

Of the other famous names, Nannini was 19th-fastest, Jack Doohan – son of motorcycle racing legend Mick – was 23rd for HWA and Enzo Fittipaldi, the grandson of two-time Formula 1 champion Emerson, was 29th for the same team.

Session results (top 10):

Cla # Driver Team Time Gap
1 11 David Beckmann Trident 1’20.434  
2 1 Oscar Piastri Prema Powerteam 1’20.513 0.079
3 23 Roman Staněk Charouz Racing System 1’20.963 0.529
4 25 David Schumacher Charouz Racing System 1’21.053 0.619
5 17 Richard Verschoor MP Motorsport 1’21.129 0.695
6 2 Frederik Vesti Prema Powerteam 1’21.207 0.773
7 15 Jake Hughes HWA AG 1’21.211 0.777
8 24 Igor Fraga Charouz Racing System 1’21.218 0.784
9 9 Sebastian Fernandez ART Grand Prix 1’21.235 0.801
10 5 Liam Lawson HitechGP 1’21.281 0.847

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Car Reviews

T32 Nissan X-Trail Tuned by Impul debuts in Malaysia – SUV gets four variants, priced from RM140k to RM168k –

Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM) has introduced the Nissan X-Trail Tuned by Impul, which as its name suggests, kits up the third-gen SUV with a number of Impul enhancement items. The pack contains elements seen on the Impul X-Trail showcased at the 2019 Tokyo Auto Salon.

Dress-up bits consist of an Impul Aerokit, which introduces dual tone front and rear aero bumper aprons as well as side skirts. The front grille also gets gloss black cladding, and a split mounted rear spoiler, also finished in gloss black, makes its way on.

The Tuned by Impul T32 facelift rides on 18-inch Impul Aura SX-50 multispoke wheels, which are fitted with 235/55 profile Continental ContiMaxContact MC6 tyres. The only mechanical change comes in the form of an Impul Sports Spring set to improve handling response. Apart from the expressive exterior and performance parts, the variant gets new Maroon Nappa leather upholstery for the interior.

The new Nissan X-Trail Tuned by IMPUL package is available for the 2.0L Hybrid, 2.5L 4WD, 2.0L 2WD MID and 2.0L 2WD versions of the SUV, the set adding RM11,000 to the cost. The sales tax exempt, on-the-road prices (without insurance, Peninsular Malaysia) of the Tuned by Impul versions are:

  • 2.0L 2WD – RM139,630
  • 2.0L 2WD MID – RM150,643
  • 2.5L 4WD – RM157,731
  • 2.0L Hybrid – RM168,451

The kit on the new Nissan X-Trail Tuned by Impul is factory fitted, and the vehicle comes standard with a five-year unlimited mileage warranty, whereas the accessories come with a three-year or 100,000 km warranty (whichever comes first).

Additionally, ETCM has announced that X-Trail owners who are interested in adding on the Impul package can do so, the items being available individually at the following prices:

  • Impul Aerokit (front and rear bumper spoilers, and side skirts) – RM5,600
  • Impul 18-inch Aura SX-50 wheels (set of four) – RM5,800
  • Continental ContiMaxContact MC6 tyres (235/55 R18, set of four) – RM2,800
  • Impul Sports Springs – RM1,100
  • Gloss black split mounted rear spoiler – RM800
  • Gloss black Front grille cladding – RM700

The new variant will make its appearance at selected Nissan showrooms in the upcoming Nissan X-Trail Tuned by Impul carnival, from July 18.

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Car Reviews

FIRST LOOK: 2020 Range Rover Evoque, from RM427k –

The new Range Rover Evoque was launched last week, and since then we’ve taken a closer look at the fashion-forward SUV. You’ve seen our live photos; now, you can watch our walkaround video to know more about the second-generation L551 model.

Available in two variants, the new Evoque is priced at RM426,828 for the base P200, while the P250 R-Dynamic you see here retails at RM475,398. Both prices include the 50% reduction in sales and service tax (SST) and exclude registration, road tax and insurance.

Design-wise, the Evoque retains its distinctive look but borrows key styling cues from the larger Velar, including flush door handles. Inside, the car features the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system with twin ten-inch touchscreens in the centre console. A longer wheelbase has increased rear legroom and freed up an extra 10% of boot space, the latter listed at 591 litres.

Power comes from a 2.0 litre Ingenium turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine in two outputs, with the variant names roughly corresponding to the amount of horsepower on tap. The P200 makes 200 PS and 320 Nm of torque, whereas the P250 gets 249 PS and 365 Nm. A nine-speed ZF gearbox comes as standard, as does a part-time all-wheel-drive system.

Want to know more about the local specs as well as some of the main features of the new Evoque? Watch the video above as we take you through the highlights of this handsome British SUV. You can also read our review here, and check out the full list of specifications and equipment on

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