Mercedes has launched its new E-Class, Shanghai Auto Show provided lots of new models heading our way and we even have a couple of vans. All this in the latest Car co uk news review.
It has been fairly quiet for a while but that was definitely the calm before the storm because we have seen a deluge of new models being revealed. Most of these were at the Shanghai Auto Show which is a major focus not just for Chinese brands, but for the global auto industry these days. We also had the Commercial Vehicle Show in the UK which saw a number of interesting new models on display, so let's get into it.
New E-Class flies in
First up is one that wasn’t at any show and that’s the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Revealed this week it is a mainstay of the executive saloon market, from Uber drivers to board directors. The new one has been extensively redesigned with interesting elements like grilles that are reminiscent of the electric EQ models and a slightly tacky new three-pointed star lighting signature for the rear lights.
The new E-Class has a 22mm longer wheelbase providing slightly more space for occupants and of course there’s more tech than ever before, with ambient lighting which can change with the music playing, a Digital Vehicle Key, passenger infotainment screen that can play video the driver cannot see and Merc has resurrected the days of the original Mazda 6 with electrically adjusting air vents.
Half the models at launch will be plug-in hybrids while others have mild hybrid technology through integrated starter generators. There will be the option of Airmatic air-suspension and rear-wheel steering and plenty of driver assistance systems. The new E-Class will be in the UK in the autumn.
Slightly less executive, Renault has revealed the next generation of its popular Clio hatchback, a model which has sold in the millions since it was first launched in 1990. The latest Clio is the first to feature a new design language for Renault and when it arrives in the UK it will only be available as a full hybrid. It looks slightly more premium and sporty, especially in the new Esprit Alpine trim with its motorsport-inspired aerodynamics.
Inside, there are more sustainable materials and more infotainment courtesy of a vertical 9.3-inch touchscreen and 10-inch driver display. There are more driver assistance systems, wireless smartphone connectivity and redesigned seats. The hybrid powertrain delivers 145hp and a minimum emissions level of 94g/km of CO2. In this era of crossovers and SUVs, the Clio still looks good but there will be many looking forward to the arrival of the all-electric Renault 5 instead.
They might also be keen on the new Volkswagen ID 2 but if that is too small and you need something electric to replace your VW Passat, the the new ID 7 has now been revealed. Like other ID models from VW like the ID 3, it’s not the most exciting thing design wise, but like the Passat there will also be an estate version.
At nearly five metres long it’s a spacious family model that will arrive later this year, promising a driving range of up to 435 miles on a charge while still delivering 286hp. It has coupe-like looks but VW says this doesn’tt compromise on space in the back seats and of course it has plenty of on-board tech and connectivity to keep everyone happy. This includes a 15-inch infotainment screen, augmented reality head-up display and Climatronic seats which not only provide heating and cooling, but have a drying function, although we aren’t entirely sure what that is for.
There are plenty of driver assistance systems, including Travel Assist which can perform lane changes on the motorway and it can remember the last 50m you drove in case you find something blocking the road and want the car to back up for you. Before you ask, no it won’t perform J-Turns, this isn’t Hollywood.
Still with the Volkswagen Group and it’s over to Cupra, which has revealed the production version of its Tavascan as its second EV after the Born. It’s the first all-electric SUV coupe from the brand and is based on the same platform as the Volkswagen ID 4 and Skoda Enyaq. There will be 286hp and 340hp versions available, both with much sportier looks than their VW Group counterparts. Sitting on 21-inch wheels, the Tavascan has a dynamic chassis and sport suspension to match its design. Inside is a mix of cloth and metallic surfaces, including copper accents to reflect the brand’s logo. Volkswagen’s electric family just got some attitude.
Before we head to the glitz of the Shanghai Auto Show, MG has revealed a facelift for its popular HS. This SUV is the brand’s best-selling model and it gets a fairly extensive design upgrade as well as more equipment. The refresh won’t be applied to the hybrid model though which will continue alongside the new version.
One of the most anticipated new models to debut at Shanghai was the new Porsche Cayenne. SUVs account for the majority of Porsche sales and the Cayenne is the one that started it all for the marque that traditionally was all about sports cars. The company says the new one is a complete redesign but honestly, it doesn’t look that much different to the previous generation, on the outside anyway. There are some changes with new headlights and a redesigned rear but not enough to get excited about.
Inside is a very different story though, with a brand new dashboard that hints at the legacy of 911 interiors of old. It looks classic and simple but combines this with the latest in technology including digital screens for driver and front passenger. Some of the powertrains have been upgraded, including the hybrid model which gets more power and the ability to travel up to 56 miles on electric power.
If you want to go further on electric then BMW used the Shanghai show to debut it’s fastest electric vehicle yet and it’s not a sports car, but a large boardroom executive saloon. The i7 M70 has all the interesting styling of the 7 Series and will even be available in a Maybach-like two tone colour scheme, but the big headline is the performance numbers. This vast limo can launch to 62mph in just 3.7 seconds thanks to electric motors on each axle that generate 660hp and 1,100Nm of torque. As with other 7 Series models you can spec it to the hilt with everything from Executive Lounge seats in the back to a drop-down cinema screen. It might be quick, but this is one for relaxing in.
Another model with two-tone paintwork revealed in Shanghai is the Mercedes-Maybach EQS. It too is very much a lounge on wheels with luxurious reclining rear seats and the highest quality materials. It’s the first electric Maybach SUV and while it is based on the Mercedes EQS, it’s a whole lot more luxurious. It also has some unique characteristics, like touches of rose gold and and the Maybach Mode which adjusts the appearance of the instrumentation display to reflect the speed the vehicle is travelling at.
More interesting to us was the reveal of the new Polestar 4, a coupe-like SUV based on the Polestar 3. The big talking point will be the lack of a rear window, which has been replaced by a camera that provides a display in the rear-view mirror. Great it you aren’t one of those who feels nauseous using this sort of system but not so great if you are. Not that this detracts from the superb design and great features of the new model, which promises to combine comfort with performance handling like other models in the Polestar range.
Speaking of promises, MG promised us a roadster and here it is, the Cyberster. Granted it’s a bit of a silly name but when everyone else is releasing electric SUVs and hatchbacks, it’s great to see Chinese-owned MG give us something different, something that looks fun. Let’s face it, the Tesla Roadster isn’t coming along anytime soon so this is looking like the next best option for an electric roadster.
Due to arrive in the UK in time for summer 2024, it has distinctive scissor doors within a sporty profile and a classic fabric roof. The interior in its dark read echoes traditional two-seater sports cars of old but there’s plenty of modern tech to match the new era of MG. The company hasn’t released any information on the powertrain or performance numbers so we’ll have to wait a while longer to find out whether it has the go to match the show.
Smart has announced pricing for its #1 which will start from £35,950, but in Shanghai it revealed its next model, the #3. We can only assume it didn’t want to launch a #2 in case people called it a “number 2” which could be awkward. Anyway, the #3 is another electric crossover with coupe-like looks and will arrive in the UK early in 2024.
Our last one from Shanghai is from Lexus, but it’s not the usual premium saloon or SUV you might expect. Instead, Toyota’s posh division has confirmed that the LM MPV revealed at the show will be heading to the UK. Look past the massive grille and you’ll find a luxury people mover aimed at chauffeur companies who want all that Lexus luxury in a vehicle with up to seven seats. Alternatively you can go full business class with a four-seater version that has airline-style seats than even fold flat. The LM has a 48-inch HD television, fridge and a bespoke Mark Levinson audio system and of course, it’s a hybrid. Expect the LM to seen in wealthy London suburbs in the autumn.
The Commercial Vehicle Show took place at the NEC recently and there were plenty of new models that could be working on our roads soon. Isuzu launched the mildly facelifted KB pick-up which gets a restyled grille, new wheel designs and some new colours. Ford debuted the new Transit Courier including a battery-electric version, while Nissan used the show to launch its new Townstar which is available as an electric model with a range of up to 269 miles.
Maxus always has something new at the show and this year it was the eDeliver 7, an all-electric van that has a payload of 1,135kg. The design is good and interestingly features what appears to be a grille made of DPD logos, but we imagine that’s just a coincidence and not a sales pitch to the delivery company.
One of the most interesting new models was the Watt eCV1. With its centrally located driver’s position, it’s like a McLaren F1 van, although without the performance and aerodynamics. Okay, it’s not like the famous McLaren at all really, but a few weeks ago the Cornwall-based company had a chassis cab. Now thanks to a partnership with Etrux, it has a full-on electric delivery van that looks really cool. Could we see this dropping off on our streets soon? Well the company told us it only plans to start production in two years, so you’ll have to wait a little longer for that parcel.
If all of that isn’t enough, then Skoda has announced it will make six new battery-electric models by 2026. It’s only shown what it calls sculptures at this stage, but we do know there will be a small, compact, estate and a large seven-seater model, as well as updated versions of the Enyaq.
We did say things have been busy and that doesn’t even include the new models actually launched and on sale in the UK in recent days. This includes the Hyundai Ioniq 6, the updated Suzuki Swace, facelifted versions of the Mercedes A-Class and Jaguar I-Pace and Mazda has added a diesel engine, yes diesel is still around, to its large CX-60 SUV. Plenty to think about while enjoying the upcoming bank holidays then.
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