In this week’s news round-up we have plenty of luxury and performance as well as some sound safety news. We’ve even got a wealthy ghost for you.
The end of October saw some big new model reveals, none of which are what we would call your average budget or family car, although there are some new Citroen C3 models if you’re interested.
The biggest news is probably the reveal of the new Range Rover. Now in its fifth generation it has a brand new body shell, evolutionary design, loads of luxury and tech and some interesting new powertrains. First up the design, which includes subtle changes up front, a higher and cleaner side profile with flatter graphics behind the front wheel arches and then big changes at the rear. Here the black arch houses some very clever lighting tricks, with LEDs that face into the car where their light bounces of mirrors that magnify it enough for it to penetrate the black plastic. These lights contain some of the 125 patents registered for components in the own Range Rover and meet all legislation so you don’t get pulled over and appear in one of those traffic police TV shows.
Inside things are all a bit more simple with less lines and less clutter, all elements of what design boss, Massimo Frascella told us is part of the new reductionist strategy at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR). There’s the option of super-luxurious business class seats in the rear of the four-seater version, together with a full length centre console containing a cool table that rises gracefully at the push of a button and an infotainment tablet. Five seat short and long-wheelbase versions are available and in the latter, for the first time in the model’s history you can have seven seats. You can even have fancy Tailgate Event seating that allows you to sit in comfort on the lower tailgate and watch the salmon leaping in the river on your Scottish Highlands estate, or for the rest of us that don’t own an estate, just watch the kids playing cricket.
Then there are the powertrains. There’s a new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) version that uses a petrol engine and an electric motor. The headline is that this model can do up to 62 miles in electric mode, more than rivals like the Bentley Bentayga hybrid and Porsche Cayenne hybrid and easily enough to glide around within the London ULEZ without having to pay a penny.
If you’re after a big, brawny V8 then there’s big news here too because the 5.0-litre supercharged has gone, replaced by, wait for it, the BMW 4.4-litre TwinPower turbo V8. Yes, the rumour that Land Rover has been working with its rival BMW on this engine are all true and having received plenty of attention from JLR engineering director Nick Rogers and his team, it’s making its first appearance in the new Range Rover. No doubt we will see it in others again too.
If all the luxury of a Range Rover is still not enough for you then how about the latest Rolls-Royce, the Black Badge Ghost. It’s the latest in a range of Black Badge models that started back in 2016 and now account for 27% of all new Rollers sold around the world. Their darkened chrome, mildly sportier looks and more urban attitude have clearly struck a chord with the wealthy, especially the the younger wealthy we suspect because the average age of a Rolls-Royce buyer these days is just 43. That’s the youngest of any BMW Group brand including Mini, who’d have thought it.
The new Black Badge Ghost uses the traditional 6.75-litre V12 engine and we put it to the test at the Turweston airfield near Silverstone, in the dark, because Black Badge, Ghost, you get the idea. Also, we drove it before it had been revealed and Rolls didn’t want anyone to see it, though if you happened to be in Soho you might have seen us sneaking in a few weeks ago, although the famous Spirit of Ecstasy was hiding away in the pantheon grille so it could have been any big saloon really.
The luxury is a given, but there are some touches which designer Henry Cloke told us makes the Black Badge Ghost more “streetwise”. These include the dark grille, wheels featuring 22 layers of carbon fibre and a seriously cool new interior trim element made from wood, resin, carbon fibre and metal. It must take ages to make and have taken months, years even to develop, but this is Rolls-Royce.
Another big launch over the past week is also a four seater, the new Mercedes-AMG SL that arrives in the UK early in 2022. Granted, its not a proper four-seater, rather a 2+2 with space for adults in the back up to 1.5m tall, but it’s the first time the SL has ever been available with four seats as standard. It’s also the first SL developed from the start by Mercedes’ performance AMG division, hence it being a Mercedes-AMG rather than a Mercedes-Benz.
The design looks less SL and more AMG GT if you ask us, but then again that could well hark back to the original SL which was based on a race car and had more of a sporty coupe look about it. Over the decades it changed and we’ve become used to the SL looking more like a long, elegant, convertible tourer so the new design, as much as it might have heritage, won’t appeal to all SL fans. It’s also ditched the folding hard-top and gone back to a classic fabric roof, which reduces weight although not by enough to significantly reduce the overall weight of nearly two tonnes. Seriously, two tonnes for a sporty convertible and that’s before the performance hybrid comes along let alone anything that might be fully electric. Still, there’s a stonking hand-built V8 under the bonnet generating 476hp in the SL55 4Matic+ and 585hp in the SL63 4Matic+ so you’re not going to be short on power. Handling that power and weight will also be helped by the first inclusion of all-wheel drive on the SL plus it gets rear axle steering.
Inside it has a similar look to the latest S-Class with a large infotainment screen that rises from the centre console and a sporty-looking digital instrument cluster with a range of themes and settings. Dials on the steering wheel allow you to flick through driver settings and there’s more ambient lighting than in a Soho gin bar. Is it still the cross-continental luxury cruiser we are used to with the SL? We haven’t driven it yet, but when we do, we’ll let you know. We’re looking forward to driving it and finding out just how sporty the new SL really is.
Now let’s get back to some more normal things. If you have safety and electrification at the top of your list of priorities for your next car, then you’ll be interested in the latest crash test results from Euro NCAP. The new Ford Mustang Mach-E scored top marks with five stars to add to the same number of stars it recently received in the new Green NCAP rating. The Ford wasn’t the only electric vehicle to score well, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 also achieved five stars, although the Ford was slightly better on adult occupant protection. The non-electric Hyundai Tucson SUV is also a five-star car when it comes to safety and so too is the new Toyota Yaris Cross.
We’ll end this week with a bit of a tease because Ford has given us another glimpse of its new Ranger pick-up and more importantly confirmed the date for its reveal. If you’ve been waiting as excitedly for this one as we have, then you’ll want to put November 24 in your diary, although of course we’ll bring you all the news on it here, because that’s what we do.
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