Aston Martin Vantage
Car News 5 Mar 2024

February Car News Roundup

With the cold winter months hopefully on their way out and Spring just around the corner, the car news continued to arrive thick and fast throughout the month of February. Whilst most of the car news announcements for the year were obviously weighted in favour of electric cars, it was refreshing to see so many cars announced throughout February that feature combustion engines, and many, without an electric motor or battery pack in sight.

Here is our roundup of the most interesting car news announcements over the past month:

Audi RS6 GT

Audi RS6 Avant GT
Image courtesy of Audi

The C8 RS6 has been on sale now for almost 5 years and with the motoring landscape evolving faster than ever at the moment, it is almost time for an all new generation. But before that happens, Audi have decided to launch a limited production tribute to one of their most iconic racing cars of all time, the Audi 90 ISMA GTO from the early 1990’s. At least in terms of livery at least anyway.

Whether you like the flamboyant wrap or not, you cannot have it without it, you can change the colour of the car from White to Black or Grey, but the graphics remain either way. The good news is however that the 660 examples of the RS6 GT come with a lot of things you definitely will like. Surprisingly the power output stays the same, but at 621bhp from the RS6 Performance it definitely isn’t going to be disappointing.

The differentials have been recoded and suspension is now manually adjustable, the car also sits 10mm lower so the 22” ‘Avus’ wheels look even bigger in the arches, and ceramic brakes are standard. The bodywork now looks even more aggressive and features additional vents and the bonnet is carbon fibre, it now also comes with a roof spoiler inspired by the RS6 GTO concept. Inside a pair of Alcantara lined carbon fibre bucket seats ensure you are held in firmer now you can corner faster. The price for all this exclusivity? £177,000 in the UK.

Aston Martin Vantage

Aston Martin Vantage
Image courtesy of Aston Martin

After the launch of the stunning DB12 it was only a matter of time before Aston Martin refreshed the ageing Vantage, but rather than a mid-life revamp, they seem to have gone power crazy. The 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 AMG sourced engine from the ‘old’ Vantage produced a not so insignificant 503bhp, yet it now produces 656bhp, an increase of over 150bhp. Aston Martin seem to be on a mission to ensure their cars are the most powerful in their class across the range.

Aston Martin are now able to fettle the AMG sourced engine more than they were before so it now has bigger turbochargers, 50% more cooling, new camshafts and is coupled with new suspension, revised mapping, stronger steering mounts and a recalibrated differential. As well as the power hike the exterior has been given an overhaul too, it now looks more like the DB12 than the previous Vantage, and the whole car looks more purposeful in stance.

Inside is where the biggest difference was needed, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. The dated software from Mercedes and cluttered switchgear has been replaced by a mixture of touchscreens and buttons in line with the DB12’s sophisticated cabin. Aston Martin mean business with their next generation of cars and it certainly shows. The excellent DB12 is now joined by this all-new Vantage and it wont be long before the Valhalla is delivered to customers, we can’t wait to see what happens to the DBX.

Porsche Taycan

Porsche Taycan
Image courtesy of Porsche

When Porsche unveiled the Taycan it was a huge step forward for a manufacturer producing a ‘normal’ electric car that was actually fun and engaging to drive. The electric car game has moved on quite a bit over the past 5 years however and Porsche have responded with a raft of changes to their Taycan line up. Lighter, capable of greater range, quicker to charge when that range runs out and faster. But depending on the variant, a lot, lot faster.

The base Taycan is now over half a second quicker than the previous model from 0-62mph, now just 4.8 seconds, while the range topping Taycan Turbo S completes the same sprint in half that time, a more than impressive 2.4 seconds. Whilst power across the range is up from 430bhp in the base Taycan, 590bhp in the Taycan 4S and 872bhp in the non-turbocharged Turbo, the Turbo S now produces a colossal 940bhp, a Bugatti Veyron has just 60bhp more. But it isn’t just the speed and power that is significantly improved, thanks to the new Performance Battery Plus option, the rear-drive Taycan has a claimed range of 421 miles between charging, that is over 100 miles further than possible before.

As well as sharper exterior styling echoing the new Cayenne and Macan, the Taycan also gets the new look interior and better software, better heat management for the batteries, a new heat pump for more efficient motoring and updated recuperation from braking. Quicker charging capability also means that with the right equipment, a charge from 10-80% now takes less than half the time at 18 minutes as opposed to 37 minutes. With electric car demand and desirability taking a bit of a hit recently, the latest EV offerings from Porsche are at least helping to bring some of that desirability back.

BMW 5 Series Touring

BMW 5-Series Touring
Image courtesy of BMW

Fresh off the back of the news that BMW intend to bring back the M5 Touring, they have released the new version of the ‘standard’ 5-Series Touring on which it will be based. In order to progress towards the all-electric future the engine options are now start with the 530e plug-in hybrid, expected to offer at least 50 miles of all electric driving and 300bhp when combined with its petrol combustion engine. With the other options being the i5 eDrive40, with 340bhp and up to 350 miles of range, and the i5 M60, with just over 600bhp and around 300 miles of range. For performance car fans, 0-62mph for the latter should be just under 4 seconds for your extra £30k it is expected to cost over the i5 eDrive40.

Obviously, the design is more than similar to the recent 5-Series saloon but thanks to clever packaging in its estate bodystyle, the Touring now offers 1,700 litres of space with the seats down. It also features not just the latest technology but vegan friendly materials throughout the cabin, a clutter free central console with glass dials to control everything on the wraparound digital display, and even the potential to park the car from up to 200m away using just your smartphone. Prices start at just under £70k and rise to over £100k for the top of the range electric variety, the M5 Touring may even be north of £160k or even £180k.

Ineos Fusilier

Ineos Fusilier
Image courtesy of Ineos

Following on from the Defender ‘inspired’ Grenadier yet with modern BMW engines and running gear, chemical company turned automotive manufacturer Ineos, have unveiled a smaller off-roader in the form of the Fusilier. Launched as an all-electric SUV, the Fusilier takes styling from its bigger brother and shrinks it down to produce a great looking compact SUV with utilitarian and rugged appearance. If it works for the forthcoming G-Class EV, there’s no reason why it won’t for something slightly more affordable too. Especially when the Fusilier is to be built by the same company as the G-Class in Austria.

Despite the range at launch offering electric power only, company founder Sir Jim Radcliffe seems to have a more realistic approach when it comes to the requirements of his potential customers, and the EV line-up will soon be offered with a combustion engine range extender. Rather than commit to fully electric without compromise, it is refreshing to see a car company that realises that isn’t an option suitable for everyone just now. No pricing information has been released just yet the Fusilier could be the perfect solution for those looking for genuine off road capability, yet in an eco-conscious way.

McLaren Artura Spider

McLaren Artura Spider
Image courtesy of McLaren

McLaren’s latest supercar offering has offered something for the much anticipated ‘better weather’ that Spring and Summer will hopefully bring in the form of the Artura Spider. But rather than just chopping the roof off their newest creation they have also added more power to the tune of 20bhp, something that will also now be passed on to the Coupe too. But what if you have already taken delivery of your Artura? McLaren will remap your car free so you can take advantage of the power increase too.

In fact, many changes necessary to create the Spider have been passed on to the coupe too, a mild facelift in terms of performance can never be a bad thing. This includes, making enhancements to the engine mounts, the carbon fibre chassis and improvements to engine cooling whilst they were assessing buffeting with the roof down. Not only that, but the damping rate has been improved, the cooling of the carbon ceramic brakes has been made more effective and the gear changes have been sped up by 25%.

All this to a car that McLaren have claimed is the most efficient convertible supercar they’ve ever made, probably not something buyers will have taken into consideration. But with a claimed 60mpg possible and an all-electric range of 21 miles, it is impressive for a 3.0-litre V6 car with 690bhp and a possible 0-62mph time of just 3 seconds. The Artura is the start of the next generation of supercars for McLaren, and their impressive dynamic abilities just got that bit better.

Range Rover Overfinch

Range Rover Overfinch Dragon Edition
Image courtesy of Overfinch

The new generation of Range Rover has taken the model’s usual blend of luxury, refinement and style and taken it even further than ever before. The result is one of the most lavish ways to travel on four wheels, whether on the road or negotiating some of the toughest terrain you fancy. But what if you are looking to make your Range Rover stand out from the crowd, but in an understated and sophisticated way, for that you head to Overfinch.

For decades Overfinch have been enhancing and customising Range Rover products and turning them into some of the most sought after vehicles money can buy. Their latest take on the Range Rover is certainly no exception, but for even more exclusivity they have launched the ‘Year of the Dragon’ special edition. From commemorative dragon symbols around the car, to hand made graphics for the special veneers, and custom colourways and embroidery to the seating, it is a special car indeed. To the outside, 24” Vortex wheels sit amongst the bespoke lips to the front and rear bumpers and the additional side skirts.

The Year of the Dragon edition might not be to everyone’s tastes, but you can’t deny it is a very special creation that is sure to stand out from the crowd of other Range Rovers. The attention to detail and design of the bespoke elements are enough to even make Range Rover’s own Special Vehicle Operations look slightly ordinary. The price for all this exclusivity is a shade under £200,000 and production is limited to 8 units worldwide, so if there are any left you better be quick.

Brabus Rocket 1000

Brabus Rocket 1000
Image courtesy of Brabus

Brabus are synonymous with creating extreme variants of production variants of cars, to such an extent that the performance, engineering and often appearance are radically different to the original car. It isn’t uncommon for a Brabus variant to produce up to 50% more power than the ‘standard’ production model on which it is based, resulting in some very special cars indeed.

Their latest creation is no exception, an even more extreme take on the already impressive AMG GT Saloon, although this time they’ve taken it further than ever before. The Brabus Rocket 1000 is based on the AMG GT 63 S E Performance, but with modifications to the combustion engine part, whilst leaving the electric motor alone, results in a 4-door saloon that has 1,000 PS (986bhp).

By increasing the engine size from 4.0-litres to 4.5, uprating the twin-turbochargers, fitting a new exhaust system as well as much of the engine components being replaced, the resulting car certainly lives up to its ‘Rocket’ naming. A new ECU is a necessary addition to ensure that the torque generated by the immense power is somewhat ‘reined in’ mainly to protect the drivetrain and gearbox. Even so, 0-62mph takes just 2.6 seconds and top speed is now 196mph. Just 25 examples of the Brabus Rocket 1000 will be built and no price details have been announced as yet. But, if you have to ask…

Renault 5 / Alpine A290

Alpine A290
Image courtesy of Alpine

Most car makers present a concept car that wows its audience yet when it comes to the final product the design has been toned down to such an extent, they may as well have not shown us the concept at all. Very few car makers follow through with their initial vision, but thankfully there are a few cars that slip through relatively unchanged. One of those cars thankfully was the new Renault 5.

The design of the all-electric replacement featured the same retro style influences and boxy stance as the 80’s icon yet with a thoroughly modern makeover. With details such as the external battery meter, the comparatively large wheels pushed as far into each corner as they will go, and the prices to apparently start at a little over £25,000, the new Renault 5 seems like exactly what the flailing electric car industry need.

But that’s not all. The introduction of the new Renault 5 means that there will undoubtedly be an Alpine performance version on the way soon enough too. Expected to be called the A290, the model will be something that is sadly lacking in the current electric car landscape, with the exception of the Abarth 500e, and that is a small, exciting performance minded hot hatchback. With a primary focus on ‘driving precision and agility’ according to Alpine’s CEO, the A290 should prove to be an electric car highlight when it arrives in the summer.

Bugatti Chiron SS Hommage T50S

Bugatti Chiron SS Hommage T50S
Image courtesy of Top Gear

Another month and another one-off interpretation of the Bugatti Chiron. Undoubtedly Bugatti’s ‘regular’ customers are very wealthy individuals, however the ones who commission one-off examples of their multi-million pound car are definitely not checking the price tag when they order theirs. Following December’s Super Sport ‘One of One’ creation is the SS Hommage T50S, a tribute to another legendary Bugatti of yesteryear.

The SS Hommage T50S is a modified version of a ‘standard’ Super Sport that takes inspiration from the 1931 Bugatti Type 50S that took part at Le Mans. The original racing car was all black with light grey wheels and trim. The Hommage version features not only the same all-black colour scheme, but with light grey accents and grille rather than wheels, and also comes with the grey number 5 to the doors as the original.

The attention to detail continues inside with the famous Le Mans Circuit de la Sarthe to the underside of the huge spoiler as well as etchings on the glass roof, a recreation of the original car to the interior door panels, turned aluminium veneers and embroidered logo to the seat headrests. The SS Hommage T50S is a fantastic tribute to the original racing car and a money-no-object one of creation for its privileged new owners.

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