Car.co.uk Weekly News - July 16 2021

Aston Martin Valhalla Supercar

Another week, another Aston supercar, but don’t worry, the new Vauxhall Astra balances things out and you can now plug in with the new Defender

By the power of Valhalla

Yes we know it should be “by the power of Grayskull” but He-Man’s catchphrase sounds perfect for the new Aston Martin Valhalla revealed this week. It’s one of those models we feel like we’ve seen already, having been first shown back in 2018 as the RB-003 due it being co-developed with Red Bull Racing. A few con-cepts and camo’d development models later and here’s the real deal, complete with 950hp from its twin-turbo V8 and two electric motors. Total torque of 1,000Nm helps launch the Valhalla to 62mph in just 2.5 seconds and it can go on to a top speed of 217mph. As is the norm, there’s a target Nurburgring lap time and Aston is confident it can crack 6:30 on the famous track. For many though it will just be another super-car, with Aston also having the Valkyrie in final development and it recently launched the whatever-its-called with no windscreen. It’s easy to wonder why they’re bothering but combine all these super and hypercars with the £700,000 asking price for the Valhalla and you realise that they all help to fund the other, more regu-lar stuff. And a Formula One team. 

Another supercar is so boring so instead let’s look at….woah, what’s this? Marc Phlipp Gemballa, son of the late Uwe Gemballa has revealed the Marsien, a modern take on the classic Porsche 959 Dakar Rally rac-er. It’s not really a supercar so that’s ok. What it is is a collaboration between Gemballa, RUF Automobile, KW Automotive and Akrapovic to create something that looks fantastic and goes like an off-road capable Porsche 992 Turbo S, which is what it’s based on. Each one will be completely bespoke and start at around £425,000.

Enough with the really expensive stuff now

We’re getting to the normal stuff, don’t worry, but first Mercedes-AMG has revealed the interior of the com-ing new SL, which it says “transforms the iconic tradition of the first 300 SL Roadster into the modern era.” To say that’s a marketing stretch is a bit of an understatement. The new SL looks like a tablet screen with a roadster built around it. Granted that might appeal to many, so horses for courses and all that. We’ll wait until we see it in the metal before deciding. What is good to see is the return of the 2+2 configuration for the first time since the R129 series of 1989. Not surprisingly it’s all luxury mixed with technology and given that the SL has often been a forerunner of new Mercedes gadgetry, we are expecting some cool stuff. 

Right, back down to earth and after teasing us for weeks, Vauxhall has finally revealed the new Astra, which we have to say looks very nice. It’s the eight generation of the popular model which first hit our streets over 40 years ago. The new model goes all electrified with plug-in hybrid petrol versions for the first time, alt-hough no sign of a fully electric one just yet. New six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic gearboxes are available and there will be tech, loads of tech. This includes a fully digital panel incorporating instrumen-tation and infotainment, a head-up display and semi-automated Intelli-Drive driver assistance systems. If you want one, you’re going to have to wait a bit, orders open in the Autumn with first deliveries early next year.

We’ve been driving this week

That might sound a little obvious because we are all about cars, but it’s been rather a busy one. Five minutes after leaving Goodwood we were driving the new Porsche 911 GT3 Touring, the slightly more subtle GT3 without the massive rear wing. We found some fantastic dry roads to play on and after our rather damp experience with the winged model, we really got to know the Touring. Performance is the same as the racier version, as is the price, but it’s just a little more discreet and no less fun to drive. In fact, it’s fantastic - sell your house, sell a kidney, whatever you need to do, just get one. I’ve just sold this website - just kidding boss. 

We’ve also driven the new Land Rover Defender V8, even putting its 525hp to the test on a rally stage in a field. We can’t tell you anything more until next week though, so instead how about the new Defender plug-in hybrid? Don’t walk away, it’s not only a very competent thing off-road, but with a small electric motor to supplement the four-cylinder Ingenium petrol engine, the 404hp and 640Nm of torque gives it a 0-62mph sprint time of just 5.6 seconds, only two tenths more than the V8 - that got your attention. Plus this massive 2.5 tonne thing can drive silently and free of charge through ultra low emission zones because it has an EV mode capable of up to 27 miles of travel. Now we really have your attention. Apart from the fact that you lose a little bit of boot space it’s possibly the pick of the Defender range.