Suzuki Swift 1.0 Boosterjet SHVS 2017 review

Suzuki Swift

Fourth-generation supermini mixes charm with peppy economy. Fine looks, handling and reasonable ride quality, but truly bargain basement versions are a thing of the past

This is the latest generation of the Suzuki Swift supermini (third or fourth generation, depending on who’s counting), the blue-collar thinking man’s hatchback, which traces its genesis back to 1983 and a derivative of the weirdly-named Cultus.More than a million Swifts have found homes in Europe since 2005, with 127,000 of those in the UK, so there’s a lot running on this new version, which goes on sale on June 1. It was born out of Suzuki’s spiffy new model plan unveiled two years ago and new Swift shares its high-strength-steel-rich ‘Heartect’ lightweight underbody with the Baleno and Ignis. The platform is a claimed 30kg lighter and a good deal stiffer than its predecessor. The lightest Swift is a mere 890kg, with the 1.0-litre mild hybrid model driven here weighing 925kg and even the 1.2-litre 4×4 just 980kg.While visibly still a Swift, with its wrap-around windscreen, upright headlamps and smiling lower air intake, the new model is 10mm shorter, 15mm lower and 40mm wider than its predecessor and has had its wheelbase extended by 20mm.The interior is redesigned with more comfortable seats and a new dashboard, and there’s more space thanks to that longer wheelbase, with the driver/passenger hip points lowered by 20mm in the front and 45mm in the rear. The boot is 25% larger, and now has a much-improved storage capacity of 265 litres.There’s no three-door model anymore, though the five-door models hide their rearmost door handles in the C-pillar. Also deep-sixed is the old nuclear-winter-spec £9,000 SZ2 trim level, tbut that’s not to say the Swift has gone upmarket. The five-door range kicks off with the £11,000 SZ-T, which gets steel 15in alloys, rear drum brakes, a DAB radio, Bluetooth, a 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and air conditioning. The SZ-T trim introduces the three-cylinder turbocharged motor and is predicted to take around half of UK sales, offering 16in alloys, a rear parking camera and a smartphone link.Top-trim SZ5 has a 4.2-in colour information screen between its dials, all-round disc brakes, a central 3D infotainment touchscreen with sat-nav, and a new monocular camera/laser sensor system, which provides assisted and automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, as well as lane-departure warning and a weaving sensor which warns inattentive drivers. Prices for top models are expected to be knocking on the door of £14,000.The 89bhp 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol comes as a five-speed manual gearbox and offers four-wheel drive as an option. The 109bhp/125bhp, 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged unit comes with front-wheel drive, and offers a choice of a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox.Both engines have the option of a mild hybrid. This recoups lost energy in braking with a 0.37kWh lithium ion battery and a starter/generator. That starter spins the engine faster than a conventional system, which means quieter and more efficient stop/starting in traffic. It also helps the engine, with 2kW of power for a short period under hard acceleration. It reduces CO2 emissions by 7g/km, improves fuel economy by 4.3mpg and saves £20 on first-year VED tax, although on the larger Baleno, the same system costs an extra £700 or so.

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570bhp Jaguar F-Pace SVR spotted winter testing ahead of 2017 reveal

Jaguar F-Pace SVR

The brand’s hot SUV will go on sale in 2018; it will use the supercharged 5.0-litre V8 found in the F-Type SVR

The Jaguar F-Pace SVR, a super-hot version of Jaguar‘s first SUV model, has been spotted winter testing ahead of its anticipated 2017 reveal.

This second sighting is of a model wearing US-spec lights, and it comes close to six months after the first F-Pace SVR was seen high-speed testing at the Nürburgring.

Bodywork fitted to both of these cars suggests that Jaguar’s production Porsche Macan Turbo rival will get an aggressive front spoiler, along with two huge air intakes either side of the front numberplate.

The model also gets larger diameter wheels and wider tyres to signify its extra potency.

The F-Pace SVR will share its engine with the F-Type SVR, meaning there’s a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 under the bonnet with up to 567bhp and 516lb ft on tap.

A 0-62mph time of less than 4.0sec is likely, which would beat the Macan Turbo and its 4.4sec sprint. It’s therefore probable that the F-Pace SVR will be the quickest mid-sized SUV on the market.

The F-Pace SVR is expected to cost from about £60,000, which is almost double the price of the regular base model.

Audi RS3 Sportback 2017 review

Audi RS3 Sportback 2017

Faster, facelifted version of the already feverishly quick Audi RS3 Sportback continues to impress us with its sheer breadth of ability

Sister car to the mechanically identical RS3 saloon in an extended and what is described as a more globally relevant line-up of models from Audi Sport, the much anticipated 2017-model-year hyperhatch receives a number of key mid-life upgrades that are claimed to both enhance its dynamic prowess and, more crucially, make it a more entertaining car to drive.The big news with the newly reworked four-wheel drive Mercedes-AMG A45 4Matic rival revolves around its turbocharged five-cylinder direct-injection petrol engine, which has been thoroughly re-engineered by Audi’s performance car division in a move that not only raises its output but has also reduced the weight of the 2.5-litre unit by a credible 26kg over its successor – in the process serving to improve the new Audi’s power-to-weight ratio and weight distribution.It is the same transversely mounted engine brought to the second-generation TT RS in 2016, so it is not entirely new. Changes cited by Audi Sport development boss, Stephen Riel, include the adoption of an aluminium crankcase in place of the iron one used by the old RS3 Sportback powerplant. There is also a new dual injection process and Audi’s patented valve lift system in a combination claimed to increase combustion efficiency as well as a revised exhaust system with a larger volume muffler and adjustable flaps for an even more determined exhaust note.With a larger volume turbocharger providing a relatively low 1.35 bar of boost pressure, the new five-cylinder kicks out an added 32bhp at 394bhp between 5850 and 7000rpm. Torque is also up, but only marginally, rising from a previous 343lb ft to 354lb ft on a 225bhp wider range of revs between 1700 and 5850rpm.This endows the new RS3 Sportback with 180bhp and a scant 4lb ft more than the smaller turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that powers the A45 4Martic. It is also 29bhp and 11lb ft more than that delivered by the larger turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine used by the BMW M2.The increased reserves are channelled through an updated version of the earlier RS3 Sportback’s standard seven-speed S-Tronic transmission. It receives changes to the drive element at the propeller shaft in a move claimed to reduce its weight by 2.0kg over the earlier evolution of the dual clutch unit. Offering the choice of either manual or automatic modes, it gets remote steering wheel mounted shift paddles and a launch control function.The subtly altered dual clutch gearbox is allied to a lightly revised version of Audi’s electro-hydraulically operated multi-plate clutch quattro four-wheel drive system featuring new software mapping. It is now capable of delivering between 50 and 100% of drive to the rear wheels.Underpinning the new RS3 Sportback is a reworked version of its predecessor’s suspension, with MacPherson struts up front and an independent four-link arrangement at the rear. It is lowered by 25mm over lesser A3 Sportback models and can be optioned with a so-called RS Sport Suspension Plus package that brings magnetically operated variable damping. The standard 19in wheels come shod with 235/35 R19 Pirelli P-Zero tyres. Audi’s Drive Select system offers the choice of four driving modes: Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Independent.You’ll never confuse the latest RS3 Sportback for any lesser A3 Sportback model. Among its more distinctive styling touches is a uniquely designed front bumper with larger air ducts, a traditional high gloss black grille sporting a honeycomb themed insert as well as RS and quattro identification, flared front wheel arches, black mirror housings and wider sills. At the rear it sports a larger spoiler atop the tailgate and a new bumper featuring an integrated diffuser element and signature oval tailpipes

2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback to rival Audi A3 Sportback

Hyundai i30 Fastback

New bodyshape will sit between the hatchback and estate in the new i30 range

The Hyundai i30 Fastback will go head to head with the Audi A3 Sportback and Seat Toledo when it’s launched at the start of 2018.

It will be the third i30 variant, joining the hatcback and estate, slotting between the two in the model line-up in terms of both pricing and interior space.

First sightings of a development car show that the Fastback is essentially the same as the hatchback at the front, but has a more gradually sloping roofline and a longer rear overhang.

Heavy cladding covers the car’s tail-lights, but it looks as though the design is the same as that of the hatchback and estate.

Powering the Fastback will be a choice of turbocharged engines shared with the other i30 models. The entry-level unit will most likely be a 1.0-litre T-GDI three-cylinder petrol that produces 118bhp, and above that will sit a 1.4-litre four-cylinder unit with 138bhp.

The diesel engine range comprises Hyundai’s 1.6-litre unit in different states of tune, producing up to 131bhp.

As standard, the i30 comes with adaptive cruise control that can brake or accelerate the vehicle at speeds of up to 112mph, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping assistance.

Also available is rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot detection and Hyundai’s first driver attention monitoring system, which can alert the driver to take a break.

The i30 range is Hyundai’s biggest assault on the European market and as such the company has focused its development and testing in Europe. The process is the same for the Fastback, which has been spotted testing on the continent.

After being revealed near the end of 2017, the i30 Fastback will arrive on UK roads next year. Pricing is expected to reflect the car’s positioning in the i30 range, so it should cost from around £18,000.

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Porsche SE to oust Ferdinand Piech from leading board role

Ferdinand Piëch

A source has said that the removal of Piëch could also signal the departure of Audi boss Rupert Stadler

Former Volkswagen Group chairman Ferdinand Piëch may be removed from his role as head of the Porsche SE supervisory board, possibly also triggering the removal of Audi boss Rupert Stadler.

According to German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, Porsche SE, which is the majority shareholder of the Volkswagen Group, has left Piëch off of the list of candidates shareholders can vote for in upcoming leadership elections.

A source told Autocar that his departure could lead to Stadler being removed from his leading position at Audi, because Piëch, who is the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, had been pushing back on moves to oust him.

Piëch assumed his current role following his departure from the top role in the Volkswagen Group in 2015. At the start of 2017, it was revealed that Volkswagen is considering taking legal action against Piëch after reports claimed he told then boss Martin Winterkorn about the dieselgate emissions scandal before it came to light in 2015.

Why Piëch left Volkswagen in 2015