Car News Roundup – January
The beginning of a new year is always a busy time in the automotive industry. With the majority of people still finding their feet after a Christmas break, it is a great time to be the first to announce a new model, the brand’s plans for the year ahead or a success story from the year before. This year has been no exception with car news arriving thick and fast throughout January.
Here is our roundup of the most notable car news over the past month:
The unveiling of the new Porsche Macan has been teased for a couple of years now, with test mules being driven and the interior shown off early, but that did nothing to detract from the launch itself. Although the current model will be on sale in the EU until the 1st July, and UK for the rest of the year, the Macan has become an electric powered model only. To say that’s a bold move is an understatement.
At launch two models are available, the Macan 4 and the Turbo, both with dual motors, all wheel drive and the same 100kWh batteries for up to 380 miles of range. They also use the new 800-volt Premium Platform Electric (or PPE) underpinnings, meaning 10-80% of charge is possible in just over 20 minutes with a 270kW DC charger. The Macan 4 offers just over 400bhp whilst the Turbo a possible 630bhp so neither will be slow off the mark. The full range of assist systems and dynamic tricks have been included to ensure the Macan’s legendary handling hasn’t been affected too much by the obvious increase in weight.
The styling looks like a more modern version of the Taycan styling, shrunk to fit the proportions of the Macan, whilst the interior borrows much of its appearance from the screen-heavy interior first shown on the latest Cayenne. The exterior proportions have grown, but this has been fully taken advantage of in order to increase the interior space too. Prices for the Macan 4 will start at just under £70,000, while the Turbo base price will be a hefty £95,000.
Stellantis’ New EV Platform
You may or may not have heard of Stellantis, but for those that haven’t they are the parent company of Peugeot, Citroen, Opel, Chrysler, Dodge, Maserati, Fiat, Jeep, Alfa Romeo and more. Basically, the fourth largest car maker formed by the merger of the PSA Group and Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles. With so many companies under their umbrella they have a lot of influence across a lot of brands and have the budget to research and develop some game-changing technologies.
As such they have recently announced their ‘STLA Large’ platform that they have claimed can offer up to 500 miles of range, offer 270kW rapid charging, operate 400- or 800-volt architecture and has the potential to accelerate a vehicle from 0-62mph in less than 2 seconds. In short, a flexible and adjustable platform that can accommodate everything from saloons to SUV’s and everything in between whilst offering class leading range, performance and charging capability.
The technology will also create a range of STLA Small, STLA Medium and STLA Frame platforms to underpin everything from superminis and hatchbacks to pickup trucks and commercial vehicles. The new platform is expected to be first used for new Dodge and Jeep products this year, with a further 8 models from Alfa Romeo, Chrysler and Maserati using the platform over the next 2 years.
Porsche Taycan Nürburgring Record
Due to January feeling like the longest month on record for most, this seemed like it happened at the start of December never mind January. Nevertheless, the fact that the Porsche Taycan set a blistering lap time round the Nürburgring might not seem like such a big deal, but it does give more than a hint that there is a new model on its way. There has long been rumours of an even quicker Taycan than the Turbo S and this quicker lap time all but confirms the existence of a Turbo GT model arriving at some point in the near future.
What is also impressive about the 7 minutes 7 seconds lap time is that it is just 2 seconds off the outright electric record, set by Rimac and their Nevera hypercar, and that produces 1,888bhp from its quad-motor set up. It was also 26 seconds quicker than the current Taycan Turbo S’s time, which equates to crossing the line with the Turbo S still 0.8 miles away. So when we do see the production version of the Turbo GT, you can be sure it will be a very impressive prospect indeed.
Audi’s Historic Dakar Rally Win
Audi have attempted to win the Dakar two times before yet so far had not quite managed it. This year they had rally legend Carlos Sainz (senior) at the helm and sent out their latest RS Q e-tron to try make it third time lucky. After 8,000km of racing, 11 punctured tyres, 2 nights sleeping in a tent in the desert and competing against 777 other drivers, they bowed out of the world’s most gruelling motorsport race with overall victory.
Consistency was the key as despite not winning an overall stage throughout the whole race, Sainz took the victory for the Audi Sport team with a margin of 1 hour and 20 minutes over the rest of the field. The 671bhp purpose-built vehicle is the first vehicle to win the Dakar rally using an electrified powertrain and is mission complete for the brand in what was always likely to be their final attempt, with their focus switching to Formula 1 in time for the 2026 season. For Sainz it was his fourth victory with 4 different manufacturers, after previously winning with Peugeot, Mini and Volkswagen, and with Ford looking to join for 2025, you wouldn’t bet against him featuring for them to make it 5.
Audi Q8 E-Tron Dakar Edition
Before the Dakar had even started, Audi had released details of a special edition to celebrate their participation in the iconic and historic race. Rather than a performance focused homologation special based upon their RS Q e-tron racing car, the special edition in question is based on their existing Q8 55 e-tron quattro. The powertrain with 106kWh battery and twin electric motors produce the same 402bhp to propel the SUV from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds, whilst the range has fallen from over 300 to a maximum of 280 miles.
So, what is ‘Dakar’ about this model? Well for starters the car is sporting 18-inch wheels and chunky off-road tyres, the suspension has also been raised meaning the Edition Dakar has 65mm more ground clearance than the standard model. Also to the outside is the addition of a roof rack which can hold up to 40kg of shovels, ropes, petrol cans, spare wheels and other off-road equipment should you feel the need to go full utilitarian adventure. The S-Line interior is less rugged however and aside from a tilt angle graphic, a desert themed background and some floor mats you’d be hard pushed to tell the difference. The bad news is it isn’t cheap at over £100,000, it will only come in Black, White or Grey and even the graphics are optional extras, and they’re only making 99 examples.
Red Bull RB17
For those looking for something that little bit different and to exploit their driving talents, Red Bull have confirmed that their RB17 hypercar will be revealed during 2024. A rival to the Red Bull developed Aston Martin Valkyrie, the RB17 has been created in-house by their Advanced Technologies division and is aimed primarily for the track, however will have the potential to be converted to on-road use. A limited production run of 50 cars is slated at a rate of 15 per year and the price is expected to be around the £5m mark.
The RB17 has been described by Red Bull Racing CEO Christian Horner as ‘Adrian Newey unleashed’ and the 1,250bhp on offer from the V8 Hybrid is surely just the start. The Valkyrie was a project Red Bull and Chief Technical Officer Newey and had always wanted to produce and Aston Martin gave them that opportunity. The RB17 is a showcase of what they have learned since the Valkyrie was initially designed and with their experience at the very pinnacle of the sport, you can rest assured it will be a very impressive feat of engineering.
1958 Ferrari 250TR To Go Under The Hammer
One of the most iconic Ferraris of all time is to go under the hammer at an upcoming RM Sotheby’s auction towards the end of February, the 1958 250 Testa Rossa. One of just 19 cars built by renowned Italian coachbuilder Sergio Scaglietti, this particular example has almost 20 period races and 4 overall victories in its 10 years of competition racing. Its Red Book Ferrari Classiche certification shows that it is one of the few remaining examples to retain its matching engine and gearbox and benefits from a recent full restoration programme.
With the interest in iconic racing Ferrari models hitting a wider audience thanks to the recent Ferrari biopic, the current American collector has perhaps picked the perfect time to end his decade long ownership of this legendary vehicle. From victories at the Mille Miglia, Le Mans, 12 Hours of Sebring and the Targa Florio, the 250 Testa Rossa is one of the most iconic racing cars of them all, with a competition record far better than the revered 250 GTO. Those in the know have stated this example could break in to the top 5 most expensive cars ever sold at auction, meaning £40million plus isn’t out of the question.
Toyota GR Yaris
The Toyota GR Yaris is everything that makes cars fun. A homologation special that is necessary to allow the brand to compete in the world of rallying, but rather than the rally car having to be affected by a road car, tailored for exactly that purpose. Compared to the existing Yaris line up, the GR has a new body style, a bespoke roofline, a custom four-wheel drive system, a new engine, adapted bodywork and even a reworked dashboard. This kind of development for a specific model just doesn’t happen with car manufacturers these days.
But it most definitely paid off. The GR Yaris has been a sales phenomenon and Toyota have given the car a mid-life refresh by making it even more race focused than it was before. There’s more power, a stiffer chassis, revised suspension, a new race-inspired 8-speed automatic gearbox, lowered seating position, a lowered dashboard and even a redesigned cockpit more in line with the rally car. These enhancements make the GR Yaris even more appealing than it already was, so expect demand to be extremely high when the order books open in the summer.
Lamborghini Break Sales Record
Lamborghini announced that for the first time in their history they sold more than 10,000 cars over a 12-month period in 2023. Despite the rising costs and the high interest rates, demand for the exotic brand continued to rise and the landmark figure was broken through. Their Urus model continues to extend its lead as the biggest selling model of all time, selling more than 6,000 examples during 2023, whilst the Huracan, a car soon to be replaced by an all-new model, still managed to sell almost 4,000 units. With the Aventador ceasing production to make way for the Revuelto, this included the final 12 examples, as well as 51 cars with very limited production numbers for their most loyal of customers.
Of those 10,000 cars, America was the biggest buyers of Lamborghinis with almost a third heading for the US market. The next largest market was Germany with almost 1,000 units, China with 845 and the UK with just over 800 examples. Their strong sales look set to continue with order books for the new Revuelto model full until 2026, whilst they are set to announce a replacement for their Huracan this year and introduce a Hybrid powered version of their popular Urus. With so much demand for Italy’s most outlandish brand, it looks to go from strength to strength.
Land Rover Defender 90 Convertible
The popularity of the previous generation, continued by the current Defender, means that it is inevitable that there are bespoke creations aplenty going to appear on the market. Some offer bodywork enhancements or customised interior trim, or both, whereas others go that little bit further. Dutch coachbuilder, Heritage Customs, have unveiled a limited production version of their ‘Valiance Convertible’ concept with, you guessed it, a convertible roof on a Defender 90 body style.
A semi-electric roof teamed with an FIA approved roll-cage means that for the first time you can enjoy top-down driving whilst you conquer terrain is thrown at you. But it isn’t all about the roof, the Valiance features bespoke 22-inch forged wheels, extended Black pack exterior styling and a vibrant Sunbeam Yellow paint finish. Inside features quilted leather in abundance, turned aluminium to the dashboard and bright yellow accents to match the exterior.
The very limited production is currently just 5 examples, all of which have been sold at the not so inconsiderable price of £76,000 – plus the donor car. But it does give hope to those looking for a truly bespoke creation to make their Defender stand out from the crowd.
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