In our latest news round-up we have new models from Renault, Nio, Mercedes and McMurtry, plus we look ahead to Goodwood Festival of Speed and we’ve been hanging out with classics at Bicester Flywheel.
Renault Rafale blows in
Renault has pulled the covers off its new Rafale, which the company says means wind. Apparently the Rafale showcases Renault’s new design language that started with the Clio, but it looks like just another SUV, perhaps even a new Peugeot. It will be launched only as a hybrid and Renault is promising a focus on driving pleasure, not just for the driver but for the passengers too. It defines that as interior comfort, connectivity and equipment, all of which is contained in a coupe-like body style featuring more geometric lines than other Renault models.
Clever stuff includes a Solarbay panoramic glass roof with nine separate sections which can be cleared or darkened at the touch of a button or even by asking the Google Assistant. There’s a diamond theme to the lighting on the front of the car, sustainable materials inside such as cork and slate and we have to applaud Renault for really considering the back seat passengers and putting USB ports in the centre armrest together with foldout screen stands. The exterior design might not set new benchmarks, but the Rafale does appear to have quite a few aces up its sleeve.
What does excite us is the new Aehra Sedan. Just look at it, it’s gorgeous. Fully electric it has been designed by the Italian automaker’s chief designer, Filippo Perini, who used to be the head of design for Lamborghini. It follows the reveal of Aehra SUV last year which was also shown in the UK at Fully Charged Live a couple of months ago, hinting that there might be plans to sell it in the UK. There’s lots of time to plan, the Aehra Sedan is only due to go on sale in 2026.
2023 will see the arrival of a number of electric estate models and one of these looks set to include the new Nio ET5 Touring when the automaker enters the UK market later this year. Set to take on the new BMW i5 Touring, MG5 EV and Vauxhall Astra Sports Touring Electric, the estate will join the Nio saloon and offer sporty and elegant styling that has hints of a shooting brake about it, rather like the Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo.
Power will come from a 100kWh battery pack with a number of power outputs and a range of up to 347 miles, although a smaller 75kWh battery is on the cards with a range of 270 miles. Electric motors front and rear will give it all-wheel drive and inside it will get luxurious materials and the latest tech, including Nio’s Nomi virtual assistant.
Still with load luggers, after revealing the new E-Class a little while back, Mercedes-Benz has now debuted the estate version. 28mm wider than its predecessor with 22mm more in the wheelbase, Merc is promising even more interior space, especially for this in the back seats. Standard boot space is 615 litres, expandable up to 1,830 litres with the back seats down, although both numbers are reduced by about 200 litres in the plug-in hybrid versions. The rest is very much the same as the saloon, with the latest Mercedes infotainment screen, the option of air suspension and lots of luxury and tech.
Remember the McMurtry Speirling that smashed the Goodwood Festival of Speed hillclimb record last year? Well now you can have one of your own because the company will debut the Speirling Pure track car at Goodwood in a couple of weeks time. Like the original, the Pure will be a fan car, using a skirt fan to create maximum on-demand downforce that will enable cornering forces of up to 3g. Fully electric, its 60kWh batteries will be lighter than in the original and the powertrain will generate 986hp. It can be recharged in less than 20 minutes according to McMurtry and will be able to do ten laps of Silverstone before needing to be plugged in. Production will begin in 2025 and only 100 be built with a price tag of £850,000. Get your orders in now then because if you can afford it, the Speirling Pure is going to one heck of a thing.
Caterham recently revealed an electric version of its famous Lotus 7 styled two-seater sports car, but now it’s promising something more and it has a proper roof. The Caterham Project V will be unveiled at Goodwood and designed by Caterham’s new chief designer, Anthony Jannarelly. The company isn’t saying much more about it, except that it will be electric and will showcase a new design language for the brand. It all sounds rather exciting.
As we’re discussing Goodwood reveals, a number of car companies have been announcing what they will have at this year’s Festival of Speed next month. BMW will have its stunning 3.0 CSL homage on display as well as the new 5 Series, while its hydrogen pair of the 2004 H2R and latest iX5 will take to the hill along with the new M3 CS. Ineos is also showing some hydrogen tech with the fuel cell version of its Grenadier, while Polestar will show its Polestar 3 for the first time in the UK. We’re hoping that Hyundai will have its electric performance model, the i30 N on display and as the central feature of the festival, Porsche will celebrate its 75th anniversary with some new models, which could include the recently revealed Mission X concept. MG will show its Cyberster roadster and Genesis will show its GV80 coupe concept and X Convertible.
In other news, we popped along to Bicester Heritage for the return of its famous Flywheel event which combines the best of classic and modern cars with famous old planes. It was a fantastic gathering, with great cars, a large auto jumble, old funfair rides for the kids and lots to see on track including lots of very sideways classic rally cars.
It’s not an event that usual features reveals of new cars, but this year Hero-Era rallying and Prodrive combined their skills to create the Hero-Era 1. Admittedly it’s not a new car, but an original 1967 Ford Mustang has been completely rebuilt to take on the rigours of historic endurance rallying. It’s an impressive build and an unusual one for Prodrive which is more used to building modern rally cars. It almost seems a shame to get it dirty but it definitely will when it embarks on its first proper event in October, the 4,600 mile Badawi Trial across Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Try doing that in a Speirling.
Finally, a massive congratulations to Ferrari on winning the 100th anniversary race of the Le Mans 24 Hours. It looked unlikely early on in the race, but in its return to the famous event after fifty years, Ferrari AF Corse converted pole position for the new LMP1 499P to an overall win, ahead of Toyota Gazoo Racing and Cadillac Racing which scored a phenomenal debut podium.
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