News - October 14 2022

We have news on some exciting new Chinese automakers heading to the UK next year, details of the new BMW M2 and the latest reveal from Polestar.

Hey Nomi ! 

When the Chinese auto industry started, it was lambasted for copying other automakers’ designs. At the time there were warnings that we would be seeing Chinese cars everywhere but then they looked inwards at their own market of over a billion people and focused on that. Now they’re back and unlike those early attempts, Chinese automakers are now at the forefront of design and technology and looking to expand in markets like the UK and Europe.

The latest MG4 is a prime example but we reported recently on BYD coming to the UK after making inroads in Norway and now NIO has announced it will launch in the UK towards the end of 2023. According to NIO’s co-founder Lihong Qin, it’s a logical step because the company held its first production workshops in the UK in 2014 and has an advanced engineering facility outside Oxford. 

He also told us that the first models will be the ET5 and ET7 saloons which will take on the Tesla Model 3 and S among others. They look modern and upmarket in their design, even more so inside where there’s a real premium feel with great quality materials and an elegant layout. 

There’s also plenty of tech with digital screens and an intriguing artificial intelligence assistant called Nomi. Ask a question and a sphere on the top of the dash turns to face you and its digital face changes its expression. Gimmicky perhaps, but the kids will love it. 

Under the skin, there are likely to be a choice of 75kWh or 100kWh batteries, although Fei Shen, senior vice president of NIO Power told us they are working on a 150kWh battery that they are hoping to launch in 2023. What’s most interesting though is that NIO will provide battery swap stations and already has a few in Norway and over 1,000 in China. Here you can just rock up and swap out your batteries in fifteen minutes, even upgrade to a large one or choose a smaller one if you will be heading into the city. 

For now a general manager for the UK has been appointed and plans are being made for boutique showrooms, or NIO Houses with more details to come as the UK strategy rolls out. NIO is going to be one to watch we reckon. 


Another star is born 

While seen as a Swedish brand, Polestar is part of the massive Chinese Geely group and the models its models are currently built in China. The same is true for the new Polestar 3 revealed this week, it’s first SUV, but it will be built in both China and the US. It naturally follows the sporty Polestar 1 and the superb and popular Polestar 2, arriving in the UK in the fourth quarter of 2023 with even more models on the way.

It won’t be cheap with prices starting from £79,900 but for that you get a very unique looking EV with a 111kWh battery integrated into a 400V architecture. Range is claimed at up to 379 miles and it will have two motors front and rear producing 489hp and 840Nm in the entry-level. Fork out an extra £5,600 for the Performance Pack and you’ll get 517hp and 910Nm together with a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds. All models will also be packed with tech including advanced driver assistance systems, Dolby Atmos sound and Android Automotive. There will be plenty of sustainable materials too, all part of Polestar’s commitment to the environment. 


One for the drivers

BMW has revealed its new M2, a car which in its first generation was one of the best driver’s cars available. As with many modern BMWs, the design is controversial, although at least the new M2 avoids having the massive grille that has been inflicted on its big brothers, the M3 and M4. We’re assured it looks better in the metal than in the images you see here but it’s what’s underneath the bodywork that really counts. 

The M2 gets a slightly downtrend version of the three litre engine in the M3, a 460hp six-cylinder in-line unit that has 90hp more than the previous gen. The 550Nm of torque goes to the rear wheels and while the standard gearbox is an eight-speed M Steptronic auto, there’s the option of a six-speed manual. Performance headlines are a 0-62mph time of 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 155mph although the optional Driver’s Package raises this to 177mph. 

Inside it gets the interior basics of the 2 Series including the curved display, but there’s loads of M stuff, including shift lights, M Carbon bucket seats and plenty of Alcantara. Love or hate the looks, it should be fantastic to drive when it arrives in the UK in the second quarter of next year.


Maserati Gran Turismo charges up

That’s also true for the new Maserati Gran Turismo. The design is less adventurous than it could have been and certainly not the same as the Alfieri concept we expected to be the basis for the new model. That’s not a bad thing though, the GT is one of the best looking, GTs, in the game and it’s always delivered on comfort and performance. 

That should be true of the new one too, but as well as getting the new Nettuno V6 engine that debuted in the MC20, the GT will also be available as Maserati’s first all-electric model in the Gran Turismo Folgore. It features a 92.5kWh battery with a 560kW electric motor that translates into around 760hp at the rear wheels. 

Inside there’s more tech and more comfort, the latter one of the highlights of the previous generation together with the incredible soundtrack of the car. We’re not sure the V6 will be the same but we certainly hope it will come close.


In other news

Mercedes-Benz has released details of its new A and B-Class models, all of which get revised styling and updated interiors complete with dual-screen displays and more tech. There’s also new trim and interior details together with even more standard equipment. There’s more electrification too with mild hybrids and more power for the plug-in hybrid versions. 

Big news for my kids who judge every electric car by whether it has games in it like a Tesla, BMW has announced it has partnered with AirConsole to provide gaming on its in-car curved displays from next year. Players will use a smartphone to control the gameplay with the main aim being to give occupants something to do while charging their BMW EV at public chargepoints. No more “we’re bored” from the kids while charging then.

Finally something hot, well Hot Wheels. The winner of the Hot Wheels Legends UK Tour is a BMW-engined, supercharged Ford Anglia built by Michael Charalambous. It doesn’t bear much resemblance to an Anglia if we’re honest but it’s a hot rod so that’s ok. Now the owner will be hoping to copy last year’s winner, the Volvo Gasser ‘Ain’t no Saint’ which went on to take the global prize and be turned into a 1:64 scale model in the Hot Wheels catalogue.



Written by Mark Smyth