News - November 25 2022

Porsche and BMW re-invent a pair of icons, Praga enters the hypercar game, Abarth reveals its first electric model and we have some of the stars of the LA Auto Show.

We all love a bit of retro, especially when it means the revival of not one, but two iconic models from the motoring world. First it was Porsche with its 911 Dakar, then BMW revealed its very limited edition modern interpretation of the famous 3.0 CSL. We’ll take both please and the new Ford E-Tourneo Custom Trail because we have to have something practical for everyday. 

An icon reborn

We’ll kick-off with the Porsche, because back in 2018 we spoke with a company exec who told us that a new 911 Safari would be interesting. We already suspected from the smile on his face that internal discussions were already underway and a couple of years later Porsche revealed a design study. Then this month at the LA Auto Show it finally debuted, the Porsche 911 Dakar, complete with the original Rothmans livery. Obviously it doesn’t have the tobacco company’s name on there though because you can’t do that these days, so instead it says Rough Roads and is being called the Rallye Design Package. 

Limited to 2,500 models at a cost of £173,000 the 911 Dakar has an extra 80mm of ground clearance with a lift-function chassis, Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain tyres and a bunch of accessories from a roof basket to spotlights. It is of course all-wheel drive, has approach and departure angles similar to many SUVs and has a Rallye driving mode for gravel or snow and a full off-road mode for when the going gets a bit tougher. It even has loose surface launch control.

Because Porsche actually wants you to take your 911 Dakar off-piste, it has a 12-volt power outlet in the roof for spotlights, lightweight glass to reduce overall weight, steel protective panels and red towing hooks, just in case you need them. The interior features Race-Tex material on the bucket seats and the rear seats have even removed, again to reduce weight. 

It’s powered by a three-litre biturbo engine producing 480hp and 570Nm and Porsche claims a 0-62mph time of 3.5 seconds. It’s all very cool and I might have to see how much I can sell a few spare organs for in order to get one.


BMW M celebrates 50th birthday with new Batmobile

If you prefer your performance more on-road then BMW has capped off its celebration of 50 years of M with the reveal of a new 3.0 CSL complete with an interpretation of the famous ‘Batmobile’ rear wing. 

The new CSL features rear-wheel drive and a manual gearbox like the original, although a slightly more modern six-speed version. These are connected to the most powerful straight-six engine ever in an M car, featuring 560hp and 550Nm, way more than the original’s 206hp. Unlike the original it also has a bunch of electronic systems, including an M Traction Control, an active differential, adaptive M suspension and M Servotronic steering. 

Like the classic version, reducing weight has been paramount and the new one features carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) body panels, glass fibre reinforced plastic for the roof spoiler and a titanium exhaust. 

Inside there’s more CFRP, carbon bucket seats, Alcantara material, contrasting stitching and a white gearknob, as well as unique badges.

Each model will take ten days to build with BMW selecting a specialist team to make them and it comes in the original Alpine white with the famous M stripes applied by hand. Yes, we want one of these too.


Another week, another hypercar

After all the excitement of the Porsche and BMW, you’d think we’d be excited about the latest hypercar too, but actually not really. Praga has been making race cars for ages and now it’s revealed its Bohema, a £1.1-million road legal machine weighing just 982kg. It uses Nissan’s 3.8 litre twin-turbo engine to produce a predicted 700hp and will be limited to just 89 units, most of which will probably go to collectors who will never actually drive it.


Something sporty but more practical

It was only matter of time before Fiat’s tuning division, Abarth, turned its hand to something electric and where better to start than the popular 500e. Fiat says the new Abarth 500e is better than its petrol versions with improved weight distribution, plenty of torque and a wider wheelbase for improved dynamics. It has even tried to recreate that Abarth noise with a sound generator, although we aren’t optimistic it will be a match for the real thing.

It has a 42kWh battery with an e-motor producing 155hp, allowing for a 0-62mph time of seven seconds. Driving modes include cool names like Turismo, Scorpion Street and Scorpion Track, which allow for more power and various levels of brake regeneration. 

The design includes a new Scorpion logo, updated body kit and a sporty interior, plus you can get it in stand-out colours like Acid Green or Poison Blue. There will also be a special launch edition, limited to 1,949 units to reflect the year Abarth was born. 


One for the electric family

Ford has unveiled its E-Tourneo Custom, providing not only space for eight but a driving range of up to 230 miles and 125kW DC fast charging. When it arrives here in the middle of 2023 it will be available in a rather premium looking version or a more active lifestyle model, for those who need to combine passenger space with room for mountain bikes or kayaks. 

It uses the same combination of a 74kWh battery and 160kW electric motor as the F-150 Lightning pickup in the US and even has a 2.3kW onboard socket for powering things like camping equipment. It also has a new track-mounted seating system which provides more versatility when it comes to adapting the interior seating to match your needs. In line with its premium appeal, it also has a B&O sound system, wireless charging pad and a host of digital stuff. Oh an if you aren’t ready to go all-electric just yet, the new model will also be available as a plug-in hybrid and- we’ll whisper this - a diesel. 


The best of LA

The 911 Dakar wasn’t the only star at the recent Los Angeles Auto Show, Toyota revealed its new Prius too. The stunning new design definitely silenced the rumours that the Prius might be reaching the end of its road. Instead Toyota’s design team have pulled a blinder, giving the fifth generation Prius incredible looks and a great interior. It will only be available as a plug-in hybrid and when we say available, we actually mean available to everyone else because the new Prius won’t be coming to the UK. That’s really disappointing, especially for anyone who is an Uber driver in London with Toyota saying they can have a Corolla Touring hybrid instead. 

We don’t even know if Genesis will build its X Convertible concept, but if they do then fingers crossed it comes to the UK because it is, frankly, gorgeous. The design evokes all those classic convertible lines of the middle of the last century but adds in a very modern flavour, complete with today’s essential, LED lighting designs. 

We aren’t entirely convinced about the cockpit style interior for the driver and hopefully some changes will be made there if it goes into production, but the rest of it is just beautiful. It is a full four-seater convertible with a folding hard-top roof and follows the X Concept and X Speedium concepts. Having driven a couple of the latest electric Genesis models lately, we are optimistic it will be as good as it looks, if Genesis build it.



Written by Mark Smyth