Fast Lane

PHOTOS: BMW, HARLEY-DAVIDSON, MARC PHILIPP, MERCEDES, OPEL
PHOTOS: BMW, HARLEY-DAVIDSON, MARC PHILIPP, MERCEDES, OPEL
PHOTOS: BMW, HARLEY-DAVIDSON, MARC PHILIPP, MERCEDES, OPEL
PHOTOS: BMW, HARLEY-DAVIDSON, MARC PHILIPP, MERCEDES, OPEL
PHOTOS: BMW, HARLEY-DAVIDSON, MARC PHILIPP, MERCEDES, OPEL

BMW iX3 an affordable premium electric car

BMW's electric iX3 is here. The first China-made BMW packs 210kW and 400Nm, and sprints from 0 to 100kmh in 6.8 seconds. This puts it on equal footing with the petrol-powered BMW X3 xDrive30i. Top speed is electronically limited to 180kmh. The rear-wheel-drive has wheel-slip mitigation and a 80kWh battery offering a claimed range of 459km.

It is also the least expensive X3 at $252,888, thanks largely to tax incentives it qualifies for and emission surcharges its petrol siblings attract.

Opel's roomier new Astra available as plug-in hybrid

Opel's new Astra is available as a plug-in hybrid at two performance levels. The compact will have an eight-speed automatic transmission, LED headlights and ergonomically certified seats.

The rival to the VW Golf will launch as a five-door measuring 4,374mm long and 1,860mm wide. At 2,675mm, its wheelbase is 13mm longer than the previous model's, promising more room inside. Boot capacity is 422 litres.

The German brand, now part of the Stellantis alliance, will make only electric cars from 2028.

Nissan to probe brain of its Formula E drivers

Nissan Motor has launched a programme focused on brain function and anatomy research, training and development for its Formula E drivers, Sebastien Buemi and Oliver Rowland.

It uses advanced brain imaging and analysis to determine the anatomical specifics of professional racers to develop optimised training.

The first stage involves detailed analysis and testing of the racers' brain functions, compared with a control group of non-racing drivers.

All drivers will perform a range of tasks on state-of-the-art driving simulators while their brain activity is monitored and recorded.

Based on the results, a training programme involving electrical brain stimulation will be developed with the aim of improving driver performance.

Jaguar Land Rover's new regional head

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has appointed Mr Alistair Scott as its new Asia-Pacific managing director.

Mr Scott, who will manage 16 markets out of Singapore, has more than 25 years of experience in the automotive industry, and has worked in various Asian locations including South Korea, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

He has worked for auto companies such as SsangYong Motor, Subaru, Fiat and Honda before joining JLR in 2013.

Harley's 228kg 121hp Sportster S

Harley-Davidson has unveiled the Sportster S, a 121hp V-twin performance bike with a lightweight chassis.

With its 11.8-litre fuel tank topped off, the bike weighs 228kg - light for a Harley. A high-mounted exhaust is designed to produce a pleasing low-frequency tone.

Harley has no information on pricing.

Porsche invests in Israeli start-up

Porsche has taken a minority stake in Griiip.

The Israeli start-up has developed a cloud-based data platform which enables the transmission of motorsport data directly from the racing car to drivers, teams and fans.

Its personalised digital media platform, Ramp (Racing Media Platform), offers a unique approach to fan engagement in motorsport to attract younger audiences seeking more immersive viewing experiences. The solution includes direct access of raw data from the vehicle's electronic units through a hardware component called the "Red Box".

Son of slain German tuner to make all-terrain sports car

Mr Marc Philipp Gemballa, the 27-year-old son of Mr Uwe Gemballa, who founded the German tuning company which bears his name, has revealed an off-road supercar named Marsien.

His company, Marc Philipp Gemballa GmbH (not associated with Gemballa GmbH), will use the Porsche 992 Turbo S as the base vehicle for the all-terrain racer.

It will be manufactured in Germany, tested in the sand dunes of the Arabian desert and available to clients worldwide. Production is limited to just 40 units, with more than half already spoken for.

The late Mr Uwe Gemballa was found murdered in South Africa in 2010. The police believe his death was tied to an illegal money-laundering scheme with convicted Czech crime boss Radovan Krejcir.

Merc SL to be 2+2 again

The new Mercedes-AMG SL roadster will once again be a 2+2 seater (the first time since 1989), with the second row able to accommodate passengers up to 1.5m tall.

The interior comes in either single-or dual-tone Nappa leather. A symmetrical instrument panel is designed as a sculptural, powerful wing, flanked by four galvanised turbine nozzles.

Their surfaces merge into the instrument panel in the form of powerful power domes.

The instrument cluster's high-resolution 12.3-inch LCD screen is not designed to be free-standing, but integrated into a high-tech visor. This prevents reflections caused by sunlight.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2021, with the headline 'Fast Lane'. Subscribe