Fast Lane: Mini turns hybrid

Mini’s first plug-in hybrid model
Mini’s first plug-in hybrid modelPHOTOS: BMW AG, DAIMLER AG, MINI, NEWSPRESS, PEUGEOT
Mercedes E43
The 1896 Arnold Benz Motor Carriage
Peugeot 308

Mini turns hybrid

Mini's first plug-in hybrid model will debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on June 29. The car is powered by a three-cylinder petrol engine as well as an electric motor combined to produce a total system output of 224bhp. With a six-speed autobox, it clocks a 0-to- 100kmh timing of 6.8 seconds and can go as fast as 125kmh in pure electric mode, with a range of 40km.

BMW's dream car

At an annual general meeting on Thursday, BMW chairman Harald Kruger announced a new concept car that could well become the next 8-series Coupe. It will be shown at this year's Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este on May 26 and is slated for production next year. The 8-series Coupe will succeed the previous 8-series, which was produced between 1989 and 1999. Mr Kruger described the new car as "a genuine dream car to our line-up - a slice of pure automotive fascination".

Renegade hits town

Jeep's first subcompact SUV, the Renegade, has finally landed. Equipped with a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine and based on the Fiat 500X, the car comes with features such as blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning - firsts for Jeep here.


Mercedes-AMG celebrates 50th year with four new models

Mercedes-Benz yesterday announced the introduction of four new models to its Mercedes-AMG line-up to mark AMG's 50th anniversary this year. The Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe is a sizzling C-class two-door with a 367bhp 3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 paired with a nine-speed autobox sending power to all four wheels. The E43 is the first performance variant of the latest E-class launched last July. It, too, has a 3-litre twin-turbo V6 and all-wheel-drive to go with its spacious and comfortable package. The remaining two are the GLC43 and GLC43 Coupe - dynamic mid-size crossovers with speed and better traction from all-wheel-drive.

Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox

First car to get a speeding ticket

The Concours of Elegance 2017 at Hampton Court Palace, England, will include among its exhibits the first car to receive a speeding ticket. The 1896 Arnold Benz Motor Carriage was travelling at four times the speed limit, at a heady 12.8kmh, before being pulled over by a policeman on a bicycle. The law at the time required all cars to stick to a limit of 3.2kmh and that they be led by a man on foot waving a red flag. But Walter Arnold, driving through Paddock Green in Kent, England, was doing neither. As a result, he was convicted of speeding and forced to pay a shilling fine plus costs. It was in late 1896, with the advent of the Locomotives Act, that the need for a red flag bearer was abolished and the speed limit raised to 22.4kmh.

High-tech Peugeot

Peugeot has revealed the latest generation of the 308 - its most high-tech model yet. With sharpened styling and the latest powertrains, the car is aimed at the hatchback crowd. Inside, it offers a touchscreen infotainment system with 3D satellite navigation and high connectivity to mobile devices. Its three-cylinder petrol engine has undergone a major upgrade and has a passive-regeneration petrol particle filter. A BlueHDi 180 turbodiesel variant is available with a new eight-speed automatic transmission, which has been developed by Japan's Aisin.

Volkswagen's Arteon prepared for rear hits

Volkswagen's new Arteon will be able to brace its occupants for rear collisions.

Its optional "Pre-Crash occupant protection system" is able to sense any vehicle approaching at too high a speed and a rear collision is imminent.

Within fractions of a second, the Arteon's hazard lights alert the other driver, and the car closes all windows (except for a narrow gap that improves the bracing effect of the front head airbags) and the sunroof. At the same time, the belt tensioners pull the front safety belts taut.

Expect rising demand for cars

Driverless technology will not result in lower demand for cars. Renault SA's head of electric cars Gilles Normand told Bloomberg that automakers can expect rising global demand in the coming decades, even if fewer people actually own their cars.

Advanced economies such as the United States and Europe may see sales dipping, but emerging economies will continue to see growth. India is close to overtaking Germany in terms of market size, he said. Car hailing and sharing, spurred by companies like Uber, are set to expand.

"It doesn't mean it will happen in every country at the same speed because obviously there are a lot of regulations," said Mr Normand. "You still need the same amount of cars, but you have fewer cars being used in parking lots and you can reduce parking spaces and you have more friendly space in cities, but this is going to be long term."

Christopher Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2017, with the headline 'Fast Lane'. Print Edition | Subscribe