Fast lane

McLaren Senna race car (above).
McLaren Senna race car (above).PHOTOS: HONDA, MCLAREN, VOLKSWAGEN

McLaren honours Formula One legend Ayrton Senna

McLaren has unveiled a new Ultimate Series car named after legendary Formula One driver Ayrton Senna. Legalised for road use, the McLaren Senna race car weighs only 1,198kg, making it the lightest McLaren road car since the McLaren F1.

With a 4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 tuned to make 800hp and 800Nm, it has a power-to-weight ratio of 668hp a tonne. The mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive car is priced at £750,000 (S$1.36 million) including taxes in Britain. Production is limited to 500 units and deliveries are slated to begin in the third quarter of next year.

Toyota and Panasonic explore new tech

Toyota Motor has deepened its partnership with battery producer Panasonic as it accelerates efforts to make its presence felt in electric cars.

Bloomberg reported that the two are exploring the development of prismatic cells and the collaboration will include solid-state batteries. Toyota plans to introduce electric models by 2020 in China and India.

Renault buys stake in media company

Renault is buying a stake in a media company as chief executive Carlos Ghosn plans to stretch the carmaker's suite of products to entertaining passengers in future driverless vehicles. Bloomberg reported that Renault will purchase a 40 per cent stake in Challenges Group, publisher of a weekly economic magazine as well as four monthly science and history journals.

Renault unveils new turbocharged engine

Renault has introduced a new petrol engine co-developed with Nissan, Mitsubishi and Daimler. The new petrol engine is available on the Scenic and Grand Scenic with a choice of three power outputs: the Energy TCe 115 in manual transmission, the Energy TCe 140 and Energy TCe 160 in manual or automatic transmission.

It will be progressively introduced in other Renault models. Compared with the Energy TCe 130, the new Energy TCe 140 delivers 35Nm additional peak torque, which is available across a broader rev band. The Energy TCe 160 offers up to 270Nm from 1,750rpm.

Fiat Punto gets zero-star rating

The latest European New Car Assessment Programme has revealed the worst and best crash-test performers of the year.

The relaunched Fiat Punto scored an unprecedented zero-star rating. The Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Dacia Duster, Ford C-Max/Grand C-Max, Vauxhall Karl, DS3 and MG ZS achieved three-star ratings. But the Hyundai Kona, Jaguar F-Pace, Kia Stinger, BMW 6-series GT and Toyota Yaris garnered the maximium five stars.

The 10 safest cars of the year are the Honda Civic (above), Mercedes-Benz X-class (basically a rebadged Nissan truck), Subaru Impreza, Subaru XV, Toyota C-HR, Vauxhall (Opel) Insignia, Volvo S90/V90, Volvo XC60, Volkswagen Arteon and Volkswagen T-Roc (below).

Volvo tests autonomous cars with members of public

Volvo Cars will start developing its autonomous cars with help from Swedish families who will test its vehicles on the public roads of Gothenburg.

The first two families, the Hains and the Simonovskis from the Gothenburg area, have received the Volvo XC90 sport utility vehicles with which they will support the Drive Me project. Three more families will follow early next year and, over the next four years, up to 100 people will be involved in Drive Me.

Volvo Cars plans to have a fully autonomous car commercially available by 2021 and the data derived from Drive Me will play a crucial role in development.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2017, with the headline 'Fast lane'. Print Edition | Subscribe