Car.co.uk Weekly News - September 30 2021

Rolls Royce Spectre

Electric vehicles are in the headlines this week as people consider whether they want to queue for petrol or to charge up and Seat has launched the latest version of its popular Ibiza

Not surprisingly, the totally unnecessary situation at fuel stations is grabbing headlines this week and while we all know there’s no cause for alarm in the longer term, many people are choosing to look more seriously at electric vehicles (EVs). Ironically, they come with their own share of ‘re-fuelling’ problems but we’re not going to get into that debate now for fear of being trolled by the militant wing of the EVangelists. 

The increase in interest in EVs comes when for the first time ever, electrified vehicles outsold diesel models in Europe during August. Then perhaps the biggest sign of a shift, Rolls-Royce has sort of revealed its first all-electric model, the Spectre. Due to go on sale in 2023 it sits on the same Architecture of Luxury platform that underpins the new Phantom and Ghost and will be a luxury coupé.

Still with electric, a consortium of four British design and tech companies have grouped together to create the Aura concept. Personally we’ve had enough of windscreen-less roadsters, but this one’s more about the clever tech beneath the design. This includes body panels made of recyclable natural fibres, tech systems that can predict the vehicle’s driving range to within 0.5 percent and a self-levelling digital info display in the centre of the steering wheel. Actually we’re not done with electric yet because the little Citroen Ami car we dove a few months back has been confirmed for sale in the UK. You will need a proper driving licence for it, which is probably a good thing, it will only be in left-hand drive and it will be cheap as chips, or should that be french fries. 

Something on a much larger scale is the new Jeep Grand Cherokee which was revealed this week. It includes electrification for the first time on the model, providing an electric driving range of 25 miles although it will mainly rely on its internal combustion engine. Its design looks a bit more Range Rover than Jeep from some angles but we’ve always been fans of the comfort, practicality and off-road ability of the big Jeep and expect the new one to be the same. 
 

Jeep Grand Cherokee 2021

What’s also a bit the same is the new Seat Ibiza and its crossover twin, the Arona. The facelifted versions of both are now on sale with prices starting from £16,790 and £19,600 respectively. On the outside the changes are not very radical, with the Ibiza getting new front and rear bumpers and a few other minor tweaks. The Arona looks more different than before with revised fog lamps and a slightly more adventure-lifestyle look overall. It’s inside where the biggest changes have happened. The top of the dashboard now has a thick soft plastic, there’s wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and air vents with LED lighting - ooooh. Plus both models can now be had with the digital cockpit instrument cluster and a choice of 8.25 or 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment with the screen now much more usefully placed towards the top of the dash. All models retain the same engines (petrol because diesel was dropped altogether from the range in 2020) and FR versions get sports suspension that’s 10mm lower and a title firmer. We drove the most popular of each and the Ibiza is a fun, practical hatch with more than enough style and tech to suit most. The same is true of the Arona which has a slightly more pliant ride and generally felt a little more comfortable and practical. Both suffer from some cheap, hard plastics, especially in the rear seats, but you get what you pay for and both these and the upcoming new Skoda Fabia are more into value for money. If you want higher levels of quality, you might want to wait for the new Volkswagen Polo which will be along shortly.

From the practical to the not so practical. Caterham has announced the new Seven 170, its lightest sports car to date with prices starting at £22,990. As with other Caterham models you can build it yourself at home or throw a bit more money Caterham’s way and have them build it for you. If you happen to be in Brighton this week you can even see one being built inside the British Airways i360 above the seafront. 

Then finally, you may or may not know that the famous old marque of Alvis is back. Its not back in the sense of having a new model though, instead it’s another of those continuation models, the really expensive recreations of originals that can’t actually be driven on a public road even though you’ve paid £323,000 for it. The first build is heading to Japan, presumably to someone who owns a road.