A real mix this week with the return of the Countach (sort of), a great performance Hyundai and the Nissan Z you want but can’t have.
The Countach is back - or is it?
Everyone’s super excited, the Lamborghini Countach is back, revealed at the exclusive Monterey Car Week in California and on the not-so-exclusive internet thing. But wait, look closer - is it really a new model? The answer to that is no, it’s basically a Sian and if you don’t know what that is then it’s an Aventador SVJ with a hybrid powertrain and some different design. The Countach LPI 800-4 is the Sian with another different design, one that has slim LED headlights to look like the famous LP400 original, hexagonal light surrounds at the back, a Periscopio profile on the roof and big side scoops in the doors and alongside the engine. It’s a sort of homage to the Countach in terms of design but not much else. Basically it’s a marketing thing, but even so, it’s the return of the Countach name and that’s cool.
Not to be outdone, Bugatti also has something to shout about in its new Bolide. When it revealed the project to make one of those hypercars for the road last year, it came across as a lockdown project, something the engineering team had put together in the midst of the pandemic while the rest of us were building lego. Well now Bugatti has decided to actually build a few of them for wealthy customers. It will use the company’s famous 8.0 litre W16 engine, will look like a Le Mans car and will go really, really fast.
Still with fast, expensive, shiny toys, Aston Martin has revealed the Valkyrie Spider. Just 85 will be built and it has a removable roof section so you can feel the wind in your hair at 205mph. It will cost lots of money, although probably less than the Bugatti, if that helps.
Nissan gives us the new Z and then says we can’t have it
Nissan revealed a prototype of the new N last year but now it’s shows us the real deal with the production version. It has great retro looks with cues from the classic Zs of the last century but the main thing that has excited is the increase in power, inclusion of a six-speed manual gearbox with launch assist and a big improvement in cornering performance. Power is up to 405hp, torque is up too and if you want to tap into this without the hassle of a clutch, there’s a nine-speed auto version with full launch control and a limited-slip diff. You want it don’t you? Well sadly you can’t because the UK emissions regulations mean it’s not coming here. Boo-hoo. There might be some hope though because it will be made in right-hand drive for Japan so expect those grey importers to be busy.
Hyundai crosses over to performance
Given the trend for SUVs and crossovers it makes sense that following the i30 N and i20 N, Hyundai has chosen the Kona as its latest N performance model. It makes for quite a nice contrast actual given that it also has the excellent Kona electric. Electrifying is a more apt description for the new Kona N, which we’ve driven in the UK in straight from production left-hand drive form. We didn’t have high expectations for it, after all, you can’t beat a low-down sports car or hot hatch for true performance, but it’s really good with 280hp, 392Nm and a 0-62mph time of 5.5 seconds. It sticks to the road, delivers the power instantly and even makes you laugh like an evil villain when you engage N-Grin mode. It’s even surprisingly good on a go-kart track, not that many owners will ever do that. If you’ve got £35,395 it could be a fun alternative to the usual crop of hot hatches.
Take your Morgan off-road
It seems Morgan also went a bit crazy during lockdown because the traditional sports car maker nestled in the Malvern Hills has created the CX-T. It’s a bonkers off-road rallying sort of a thing for those who want to have fun on gravel and bumpy tracks. We love it, although we aren’t so impressed with the £170,000 price tag. For that you get a Morgan Plus Six with raised suspension, off-road wheels and tyres, external luggage racks and a light bar. You also get BMW’s X-Drive electronic diff allowing you to switch into All-Terrain Extreme mode and go for it - in a Morgan. We can’t wait to drive this thing.
Mini has collaborated with fashion designer Paul Smith once again, although this time the theme is more sustainability than just style. Smith has stripped down a Mini to create the Mini Strip, which has a bare metal exterior, 3D parts made from recycled plastic, cork sections on the dashboard and door trims and knitted cloth seats. It also does away with the touchscreen infotainment which is replaced by a cradle for your smartphone. It’s just a project but we could see some elements in future models.
Now for some normal stuff
BMW has updated its iX3 electric SUV. It claims to have given it a few exterior styling cues from the upcoming iX but we can’t see them, which is a good thing because the iX is hideous. The iX3 on the other hand looks good and is a great option if you want an electric SUV.
Volkswagen’s ID 4 is the reigning World Car of the Year and now the brand has given it the coupe-like treatment to create the ID 5 GTX. The GTX name means it should be rather sporty in terms of performance and handling but we will have to wait until it arrives here early next year to find out. If you’re not ready to go fully electric just yet and you need space for up to seven then the Tiguan Allspace is now available as a plug-in hybrid. EVangelists hate them but we’r fans of plug-in hybrids and this seems like it should be practical choice for many families.
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