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Automobili Pininfarina completes first high-speed tests for Battista electric hypercar at Nardò

Filed by Lucire staff/December 2, 2020/0.29

Mahindra & Mahindra, presently looking to offload loss-making Ssangyong, has much more glamorous cars in its sights, as the Pininfarina Battista electric hypercar nears production.
   The new car, testing at the Nardò track, aims to be the most powerful Italian sports’ car ever produced—quite a claim in a country where Maserati, Ferrari and Lamborghini were founded—with a 120 kWh battery powering four electric motors, one at each wheel, for a total of 1,900 PS and torque of 2,300 Nm. Range is expected to be 500 km.
   A fully developed prototype has completed its first high-speed test programme at Nardò under chief product and engineering officer Paolo Dellacha and test driver and vehicle dynamics’ engineer Georgios Syropoulos. This car has a complete luxury interior, and wears a disguise over its carbonfibre shell.
   The tests, on public roads and private facilities, will fine-tune and homologate the Battista.
   Syropoulos completed tests including sprints on the circular banking at Nardò’s 12·6 km ring and laps on the 6·2 km handling track.
   Dellacha said, ‘This test is an exciting moment for our clients and the team at Automobili Pininfarina as we complete another phase In the development of the most powerful Italian sports car ever made. We have undertaken extensive development using advanced simulation technology, and we can now fine-tune the calibration of Battista’s bespoke chassis and pioneering four-motor torque vectoring system on road and track.’
   Syropoulos added, ‘The phenomenal performance potential of the Battista is clear. Our clients will never have experienced acceleration like this before, yet giving them the opportunity to tailor their experience using a range of drive modes means this hypercar offers much more than just speed thrills. With a zero-emissions range of 500 km and sophisticated all-wheel-drive technology, every drive in Battista will be a pleasure.’
   The Battista features Brembo CCMR carbon–ceramic brakes, four-motor torque vectoring, an ultra-stiff carbonfibre monocoque, seamless global roaming, and over-the-air updates. Top speed will be in excess of 350 km/h with an expected 0–100 km/h time of under 2 s, faster than a current Formula 1 racing car. Automobili Pininfarina expects it will reach 300 km/h in less than 12 s. The company has also partnered with Chargepoint, giving customers complimentary charging with the firm.
   Mahindra & Mahindra licensed the Pininfarina brand name from the famed styling house, Pininfarina SpA, which will retain an ‘influential’ role over design and production. The Battista is named after Pininfarina’s founder, Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina.
   Dellacha is a veteran of Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo, while Syropoulos has focused on EVs at Lotus, Tesla and Faraday Future.
   Production at Cambiano, Italy is expected to be fewer than 150, with first deliveries in 2021.


Two ends of the spectrum: Citroën’s facelifted C3; GMSV releases Chevrolet Silverado in RHD

Filed by Jack Yan/November 11, 2020/11.41

Two motoring releases are taking place in New Zealand this week: the first was the facelifted Citroën C3, a B-segment car that we really rate. The C3, which was first released in 2016, gets a slightly more aggressive nose, tying it in with larger models in the Citroën range. We suspect it’ll drive largely the same, which means light steering, easy manœuvrability, and reasonably good visibility (especially given today’s trend of silo-like cabins). We enjoyed the 1·2-litre triple, which the C3 retains in petrol guise here. However, Citroën tells us that there are new Advanced Comfort seats with lumbar support padding and driver’s arm reset, and more safety gear.
   It’s a sensible car in uncertain times, especially with petrol continuing to hover around the NZ$2 per litre mark—for our US readers I recently converted it to over US$5 a gallon. Lucire had the pre-facelift C3 around Auckland not too long ago and it especially made sense in urban areas. Will it do well? That’s the catch: it should, but you have to wonder about buyers as yet another crossover, with all the fuel it will consume over a comparably sized car, leaves a dealer’s forecourt.
   I must be missing something as I don’t think five bucks a gallon is cheap, unlike those who have made the Ford Ranger the nation’s top selling vehicle. Or those who have made the Toyota Hilux our number two.
   In such an environment—and I used that noun intentionally—maybe GM Special Vehicles’ Chevrolet Silverado 1500 will make perfect sense to Kiwi buyers who believe trucks are the in thing, and size is king. If everyone else is finding petrol cheap, then who am I to argue?
   The biggest pick-up truck to be sold in the country, by what’s left of General Motors down here, will be just the ticket for those who like the sound of a 6·2-litre V8 hauling around 5,000 lb (2,268 kg). Sure, I know some of you will need the 4·5-tonne towing capacity, but I’m betting more will be swayed by all the chrome and a cabin that boasts the best-in-class front head- and legroom. GMSV points out there are 31 inches of displays: digital dash, infotainment, and head-up.
   A plus for Kiwis is the fact the Silverado is here with right-hand drive, converted in Australia by Walkinshaw Automotive Group.
   What’s the bet that a lot of these Silverados are going to be sparkling clean, barely going near a payload?
   We admit we enjoyed the Holden Trailblazer when it was on test with us, for being an honest workhorse, and maybe the Silverado falls into that category. Holden’s top model last year was the Colorado, the country’s sixth best seller, in a country where pick-ups are the second-biggest segment (after 4×4 mid-sized SUVs).
   However, it’s hard not to be a little cynical in the wake of GM’s withdrawal from our market despite having the most competitive range in years—only to tell us that they pin their future on a truck more than twice the weight of the C3. Maybe the Ranger posers will have something to aspire to, no matter how often this magazine leans toward sustainability. Find your dealer at—Jack Yan, Publisher


Pininfarina at 90: creating the future with connectivity, data and AI

Filed by Lucire staff/May 15, 2020/11.54

No doubt many of us have been forced into virtual environments with COVID-19, for those lucky enough to have benefited from the technological innovations of the last several decades. And companies like Pininfarina, the design house that has penned some of history’s greatest Ferrari cars, as well as more humble fare from mass-market manufacturers, recognize that the future isn’t just about the hand-crafted work that the company’s founders once knew, but about user experiences.
   As it celebrates its 90th anniversary, the Torino-based firm is offering automotive customers everything from concept and design to user experience through its responsive, multi-sensorial, on-board-experience demonstrator, AutonoMIA.
   Pininfarina envisages that AutonoMIA will help it explore how new technologies—AI, 5G, displays, haptics, sensors, natural interfaces, and, in the future, augmented reality, holographic displays and autonomous driving—can ‘re-enchant’ the driving experience.
   It has collaborated with ART of Umbria, which created the infotainment platform for AutonoMIA, along with the hardware and middleware. The application layer was designed with Siili Auto, a leading Finnish automotive software developer. ARAS supplied the seats and padded parts. The company will build on AutonoMIA with its partner WayRay with its holographic head-up display technology and new applications for autonomous driving, urban mobility and infotainment.
   ‘AutonoMIA shows how Pininfarina may combine experience design with creative technology, reinventing the on-board experience at a time when digitalization, connectivity, data and artificial intelligence are substantially redefining mobility. With its experience-design team and Partners, Pininfarina today helps its customers through mobility experiences which are getting more and more digital,’ said Silvio Pietro Angori, CEO of Pininfarina.


Audi launches new A3, with high-tech features and Quattro-inspired looks

Filed by Lucire staff/April 21, 2020/12.25

Audi has announced a new-generation A3 saloon. Not wanting to tamper with a winning formula, the Ingolstadt company has kept the body immediately recognizable, with a taut, sporting stance, but has instead treated it to more sculpted bodywork, giving it a more muscular look.
   In line with Audi’s design language, the sculpting is geometric, but this time, it comes in the form of geometric blisters, recalling the design of the ground-breaking 1980 Quattro.
   The new model is longer, though its wheelbase has not changed, confirming the fact it rests on the MQB platform as its predecessor. Audi has also increased the A3’s width by 2 cm (1·82 m wide) and its height by 1 cm (now 1·43 m tall). There is no increase in luggage space. Audi says the changes have allowed for a 2 cm increase in front headroom with the change in the driver’s seat positioning.
   In other words, it’s slightly roomier but the packaging isn’t hugely different—the sort of incremental changes that were seen on the Audi A3’s sister car, the Volkswagen Golf VIII, last year.
   However, the A3 saloon is more aerodynamic, with its drag coefficient coming in at 0,25—an improvement of 0,04 points over its predecessor.
   As with other brands, Audi is using technologies typically reserved for classes above and bringing them into the compact sector. The new A3 has a fully digital cockpit with Audi’s MMI Touch tech, and mild-hybrid drivetrains.
   Inside, there’s digital instrumentation in a a 10¼-inch screen in front of the driver, complemented by a 10·1-inch MMI Touch screen that includes all media, navigation and internet-based functions. The Edition 1 and Vorsprung models see the instrument cluster upgraded to the Audi virtual cockpit, with a wider 12·3-inch screen featuring three views. There is also a head-up display in the Vorsprung model. The car uses swarm intelligence to warn of hazards in the immediate area.
   Passengers can enjoy internet access with an onboard wifi hotspot, and Amazon Alexa will be introduced later in the year.
   At launch in the UK market, the A3 comes with one of two 1·5 turbo petrol engines or one 2·0 turbodiesel. Prices begin at £26,870, with deliveries commencing in the summer.


Aston Martin launches DBX, its first SUV

Filed by Lucire staff/November 20, 2019/12.31

Aston Martin has finally revealed its DBX SUV, after teasing its existence for some years, and releasing images of disguised prototypes.
   Aston Martin began the DBX development programme in 2015, with a clean-sheet design. As Aston Martin had no vehicles that could act as a donor, the platform is unique to this model. This also allowed each department to innovate where it could.
   The Aston Martin design language is present, with a familiar grille and feature lines, door handles that are flush with the bodywork, and a rear spoiler in the tailgate reminiscent of the Vantage’s rear. The daytime running lights have a duct which channels air through the front wheel arches, cooling the brakes, before moving down the sides, reducing drag and lift. Its aerodynamics allow the rear window to self-clean while the car moves.
   The engine—a four-litre V8—is the one item that is familiar, adapted from the unit found in the DB11 and Vantage. It develops 550 PS and 700 Nm of torque. The DBX reaches 100 km/h in 4·5 s, with a top speed of 291 km/h (181 mph). It has cylinder deactivation to aid fuel economy. Transmission is through a nine-speed gearbox, and the all-wheel drive system has active differentials and an electronic rear limited slip differential.
   Like Aston Martin’s sport models, the DBX uses bonded aluminium, keeping the kerb weight low (2,245 kg) while maintaining a strong structure.
   Adaptive air suspension is mated to a 48 V electric anti-roll control system and electronic adaptive dampers. The DBX’s spring stiffness can vary, thanks to the air suspension’s triple chambers, making the vehicle a capable driver’s car with limited body roll.
   The DBX’s ride height can be raised by 45 mm or lowered by 50 mm, allowing it to cope with different terrain, and entry, exit and loading requirements.
   Enter through the DBX’s frameless doors and the cabin reveals full-grain leather sourced from Bridge of Weir. Headlining and the roof blind are available in Alcantara, while the DBX features a full-length panoramic roof. The centre console is “bridged”, giving space below for storage. The central screen is 10¼ in, while the driver has a 12·3-inch screen in the dashboard. Boot space is a healthy 632 l, while its rear seat can be split 40–20–40.
   As Aston Martin’s first SUV, various luxury packages are on offer. The Pet package has a portable washer—one wouldn’t want a dirty animal spoiling the interior. The Snow package features boot warmers.
   The DBX will be built at a new plant in St Athan, Wales. The first 500 owners will receive a 1913 Package, featuring a commemorative plaque, among other features, to signal their early adoption. They will also receive a build book signed by Aston Martin CEO Dr Andy Palmer and chief creative officer Marek Reichman, and an invitation to a regional Waldorf-Astoria cocktail party.
   Prices begin at £158,000 in the UK, €193,500 in Germany, and US$189,900 in the US. Deliveries begin in the second quarter of 2020.
   Aston Martin is the latest in a line of sports’ car manufacturers who have released SUVs, in recognition of the popularity of the segment. Porsche, Maserati and Lamborghini have been among those who have launched luxury sporting SUVs this century.


New Land Rover Defender unveiled: an icon reinvented

Filed by Lucire staff/September 10, 2019/8.36

Land Rover has finally unveiled its new Defender, replacing the first generation that could trace its origins back to 1948.
   One of the company’s most anticipated models, the new Defender has a familiar silhouette, with short overhangs and a tough, capable appearance, though the details themselves are modern.
   The models are still called 90 and 110, though they don’t reflect the actual inch measurements of the wheelbase as they did for their predecessors.
   Gerry McGovern, Land Rover’s chief design officer, said, ‘The new Defender is respectful of its past but is not harnessed by it. This is a new Defender for a New Age. Its unique personality is accentuated by its distinctive silhouette and optimum proportions, which make it both highly desirable and seriously capable—a visually compelling 4 × 4 that wears its design and engineering integrity with uncompromised commitment.’
   Land Rover says the Defender’s D7x architecture is 95 per cent new, and is based on a lightweight aluminium monocoque construction, stiffer than the body-on-frame set-up.
   Inside, the Defender has a modular, constructivist approach, but as a 21st-century design, it features a touchscreen, Jaguar Land Rover’s Pivi Pro infotainment system, and 5G-ready software-over-the-air updates. By mounting the automatic gearshift high up, just below the screen, there is an option of a centre seat, so three people can sit across the front row.
   Pioneered with earlier Land Rover products, the Defender comes with the Activity Key watch, which allows users to unlock the vehicle from their wrists, while the tech includes Clearsight Ground View, providing 3-D visualization of the terrain below. A head-up display is also available.
   Two diesels, a petrol, and a mild hybrid petrol are available, and a plug-in hybrid is expected to join the range.
   Independent air suspension is standard on the 110s, though the 90s, available later, will feature coils, other than the flagship trim. All Defenders have four-wheel drive.
   Land Rover says Defender prototypes have covered 1·2 million km in the desert, the Arctic, and to 10,000 ft in the Rockies.
   Ground clearance is 291 mm, and the Defenders can wade up to 900 mm.
   Not noted in Land Rover’s information is where the new British-developed Defender is built. It is believed it will be made at Jaguar Land Rover’s new plant in Nitra, Slovakia, which already builds the Discovery model.


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