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The World Of Cars This Week


The world of cars this week

Cars don’t tend to have too much longevity these days, but the Aston Martin Vantage is one that does.

But the new one is finally here, 12 years after the outgoing model was launched.

There’s also a new Ford Transit – the legend that has been Britain’s best-selling van for five decades.

Plus a new SUV from Infiniti, Dacia says no to Black Friday and why more people are still caught speeding.

The new Aston Martin Vantage is here

To say that the Vantage was getting long in the tooth was probably an understatement – it lasted from 2005 until this year. But Aston won’t be rushed on these things and, finally, we have a new one.

Aston says it gets “an athletic, predatory stance, while the minimal front and rear overhangs, muscular flanks and broad haunches express the agility and dynamism inherent within the car”. It gets new head and tail lights to set it apart as the next generation Vantage.

Aerodynamically, the front splitter directs airflow underneath the car, where a system of fences channels cooling air where it is needed, and also ensures the rear diffuser is fed with clean airflow.

Together with the new side gills, which have been integrated into the body surface and bleed air pressure out from the front wheel arches, and the pronounced upswept rear deck lid, the Vantage generates a significant level of downforce - a rarity on any production car and a first for a core production Aston Martin model.

Inside, a high waist interior theme and lower driving position creates a more immersive driving experience, says Aston, and contributes to “significant gains” in occupant space and “significant improvement” in headroom compared with the outgoing Vantage.

But what you’re really interested in is what’s under the bonnet.

The new Vantage gets Aston Martin’s potent new alloy, 4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine.

Aston says it’s positioned for 50:50 weight distribution and develops 510ps. It’s good for 60mph in 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 195mph.

For the first time on an Aston Martin the new Vantage also features an Electronic Rear Differential (E-Diff). This differential is linked to the car’s electronic stability control system, so it can understand the car’s behaviour, and react accordingly to direct the engine’s power to the relevant wheel.

The chassis is an evolution of the latest generation bonded aluminium structure first seen on the DB11, though some 70 per cent of the structure’s components are new for Vantage.

Aston Martin president chief executive officer, Dr Andy Palmer, said: “It speaks volumes for the outgoing Vantage that it is the single most successful model in Aston Martin’s history. “Creating a worthy successor has been a challenge to relish and a huge source of motivation. “I’m enormously excited by what we’ve created: a new Vantage that’s more explicit in looks and intent, wrapping heart-pounding performance and dazzling dynamics into an everyday usable package.” It’ll cost from £120,900 in the UK when it goes on sale in the second quarter of 2018.

A new version of a legend

Ford has unveiled the new version of its legendary Transit van – know these days as the Transit Custom.

It’s gets a new exterior design, new interior and, for the first time, there will be a plug-in hybrid version.

Powered by Ford’s EcoBlue 2.0-litre diesel engine, the Transit Custom has been re-engineered to offer significant new features and capabilities including a new ECOnetic van variant delivering improved fuel efficiency and 148g/km CO2 emissions, says Ford.

It gets a completely new cabin and the latest SYNC 3 or MyFord Dock options for infotainment and connectivity.

Further technologies introduced to commercial vehicles for the first time include Intelligent Speed Assist. “Transit Custom has been a runaway success since it was introduced, and this new version raises the game once more,” said Hans Schep, general manager for commercial vehicles at Ford of Europe. “We have listened carefully to our customers, and delivered a one-tonne van that is even more stylish, even more productive, and packed with smart features.”

The new generation Transit Custom sets the scene for Ford’s next major commercial vehicle innovation, with the introduction of the zero-emission capable Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) derivative scheduled to begin volume production in 2019. The Transit Custom PHEV utilises an advanced hybrid system that targets a zero-emission range exceeding 30 miles and features the multi-award-winning Ford EcoBoost 1.0-litre petrol engine as a range extender. The hybrid electric van will begin trials with fleet customers in London from December this year.

The Transit has been the best-selling commercial vehicle in Britain since it was introduced in 1965.

Speeding offences are at a six-year high

More UK drivers are being caught speeding than ever before – prompting motoring charity IAM RoadSmart to claim that driving too fast is still “far beyond being socially unacceptable”.

The latest Department for Transport figures show that speeding offences are at a six-year high.

In 2011 there were 1.6 million prosecutions for speed limit offences, but by 2016 the figures have leapt to 2.1 million, a rise of more than 30%.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “Unfortunately these figures show that we still have a long way to go to make speeding as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving.

“While some of the increase in the volume of speeding offences has been caused by a change in reporting methods – with those attending driver awareness courses which have been shown to reduce reoffending now included – there is no doubt that speeding remains a major safety concern. “Resources are still needed for education and publicity campaigns to drive home the message that road safety is as much about taking personal responsibility as it is about new methods of enforcement.”

He added: “IAM RoadSmart calls on all road users to allow themselves a little more time for their journey. Speeding seldom saves much time but adds to stress, wear and tear and emissions.” In the same report from the DfT, serious offences such as dangerous driving and careless or drunken driving have fallen from 276,000 to 179,000 over the past six years.

Neil added: “This is a welcome fall, but we are concerned that this may be more about the reduction in traffic police numbers rather than any fundamental change in driver behaviour.”

All-new Infiniti to be unveiled at LA

Infiniti has revealed a first-look at its new QX50, due to be unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show, which begins on December 1.

A mid-size SUV, it’s based on a new platform and is the first production vehicle to feature an engine with variable compression, says the Japanese firm.

It says that the technology used in its new VC-Turbo petrol engine is the “next major step in optimising efficiency and emissions of the internal combustion engine”. The new platform has a front engine, front-wheel-drive layout, with an all-wheel-drive option. Infiniti is claiming “a new level of refinement, rigidity and interior space in the compact premium SUV segment”.

The vehicle also incorporates Infiniti’s pioneering ProPilot autonomous drive support technologies to assist the driver when accelerating, braking and steering during single-lane carriageway driving, whilst still allowing them to retain ultimate control over the car.

Dacia says no to Black Friday

While the retail world went mad for so-called Black Friday deals, Dacia said a firm ‘no’.

So strongly did it feel that it actually closed for the day. OK, not everywhere, but its first ever pop-up store at Westfield Stratford, one of the UK’s biggest shopping centres, closed its doors completely for the day as the rest of the mall went mad with offers.

Some 185,000 people were expected at Westfield on Black Friday, but Dacia said that 67 per cent of people believed that the day, an American import that has grown in popularity in the UK over the past few years, was a marketing gimmick.

A survey that it carried out of 2,000 adults also found that 60 per cent wouldn’t use the day to buy Christmas gifts. Dacia said that, for it at least, Black Friday was just another Friday and the store closure emphasised that good value should be every day.

The Renault subsidiary continues to offer its Sandero for £5,995, its Logan MCV from £7,295 and the Duster SUV from £9,495. The pop-up reopened the next day and is at the centre until December 3.

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