Fast lane

Turning over a new Leaf.
Turning over a new Leaf.
Cheaper Qashqai.
Cheaper Qashqai.
Powerful Picanto.
Powerful Picanto.
Mighty Mini.
Mighty Mini.
London police test hydrogen scooter.
London police test hydrogen scooter.
Personalise your Citroen.
Personalise your Citroen.PHOTOS: BURGMAN, CITROEN, HONDA, KIA, MINI, NISSAN, SAYER
Refreshed Nissan coupe.
Refreshed Nissan coupe.
Honda Type R lawn mower.
Honda Type R lawn mower.
A steering wheel that stores data.
A steering wheel that stores data.

Mighty Mini

If the sportiest Mini today is still not sporty enough for you, keep your fingers crossed that BMW Group will produce the Mini John Cooper Works GP concept. Inspired by the carmaker's legendary triumphs in the Monte Carlo Rally exactly 50 years ago, this concept looks to be as wild at the wheel as it does in pictures.

Boasting a significantly wider body than the Mini Cooper, the concept wears large front and rear aprons, side skirts and a prominent roof spoiler. The use of lightweight materials such as carbon-fibre optimises the car's power-to-weight ratio while balanced weight distribution ensures Mini's signature go- kart handling.

Mercedes-AMG supercar

The Mercedes-AMG Project One will be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week. The two-seater supercar brings the latest in Formula One hybrid technology to the road. This high-performance hybrid has an output of more than 1,000bhp and a top speed exceeding 350kmh. The showcar combines outstanding racetrack performance with day- to-day driveability. Even if it is produced, there is no certainty it will be available in right-hand-drive.

Reusing half-spent batteries

Renault and United Kingdom energy efficiency expert Connected Energy have installed two quick- charge stations that use a stationary energy-storage system at highway rest areas in Belgium and Germany.

The E-Stor system developed by Connected Energy uses half-spent batteries from Renault electric vehicles. The used lithium batteries are recharged at low power and the stored energy is then released at high power. It thus becomes possible to offer electric vehicle-charging services in locations where a high-voltage power grid is unavailable or costly to lay.

Cheaper Qashqai

Nissan's facelifted Qashqai has arrived and is priced at up to $5,000 less now because of Wednesday's drop in COE prices. The 1.2-litre version starts at $99,800, down from $104,800 last month, and the 2-litre starts at $121,800, versus $125,800.

Cutting out noise

BWI Group, an expert in advanced chassis technology, has come up with the second generation of its magneto-rheological engine mounts. These adaptive mounts are designed to cancel out noise and vibration frequencies associated with smaller and higher-compression engines, those with cylinder deactivation and stop-start, as well as high-performance engines.

The 2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 S is the first to use these mounts to enhance control of its 604bhp bi-turbo V8.

Turning over a new Leaf

Nissan has launched its second-generation electric Leaf, which comes with extended range and semi-autonomous functions. The car is more stylish than its predecessor and promises a range of 378km per full charge - more than double what the first Leaf was capable of. It has ProPilot advanced driver assistance and fully autonomous parking.

Unlike the first Leaf, which was not available for sale here, the second model is likely to be in showrooms by the second half of next year. It may well be more attractively priced than the BMW i3 and Tesla Model 3 (if Tesla returns, that is).

Powerful Picanto

Kia's new Picanto X-Line is an SUV-inspired pocket rocket with a 100bhp one-litre turbocharged direct injection engine. The most powerful Picanto yet, the subcompact sits 15mm higher off the tarmac and sports a rugged design.

Previously available only in the Kia Cee'd model family and new Rio, the new engine is lightweight and compact. With 172Nm available from 1,500rpm, the Picanto X-Line accelerates from zero to 100kmh in 10.1 seconds. It promises a fuel consumption of 4.5 litres/100km.

Kia hybrid coming?

Kia's plug-in hybrid Niro might arrive next year. The Korean carmaker is also offering plug-in hybrid versions of the Optima and Optima Sportswagon. With a CO2 emission of just 29g/km, the Niro PHEV is Kia's most efficient car with a combustion engine. It will be available with the latest connectivity and driver-assistance features.

Use phone to update car's software

In the near future, car owners will be able to update their car's software with their phone. Bosch is working on a system that allows drivers to do this by simply swiping their smartphone. The cloud-based system allows over-the-air updates and does away with having to send the car to a workshop.

Make cashless payment with car key

DS Automobiles, Citroen's premium sub-brand, has unveiled the United Kingdom's first integrated contactless payment car key, exclusively available on the new DS 3 Connected Chic. Powered by bPay, the device uses RFID technology to act as both a car key and a contactless cashless payment mode. The two-in-one device is the first of its kind in production.

London police test hydrogen scooter

The London Metropolitan Police Service are testing a fleet of Suzuki Burgman hydrogen-powered scooters. The seven "Burgman Fuel Cell", zero emission scooters will be used by the department for 18 months, allowing the police to assess if they are suitable for long-term deployment. The trial is being run at no cost to the Met, with the loan of the vehicles from Suzuki Motor.

Personalise your Citroen

Citroen will unveil a new compact SUV at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week. Its unique exterior design aside, the car offers potential for personalisation – a first for its segment. The C3 Aircross promises a high level of comfort and up to 12 driver assistance systems and four connectivity options, including wireless phone charging. It will have Grip Control, which optimises grip on various terrain, as well as Hill Decent Assist.

The car should arrive in time for the next Singapore Motorshow on Jan 11 next year.

Refreshed Nissan coupe

The Nissan 370Z coupe has been refreshed with minor cosmetic tweaks to its exterior. More importantly, it gets a new Exedyhigh-performance clutch for more precise and effortless downshifts in the manual version. A Nissan Connect Premium infotainment system, featuring a seven-inch touchscreen with navigation, DVD player and rear-view camera, is standard fare on the GT variant as well as the 370Z Nismo.

The 370Z remains the only car in the segment to offer Syncro Rev Control – the world’s first fully synchronised down/up shift rev control system on a manual transmission. Unfortunately, the 370Z is no longer sold in Singapore.

Honda Type R lawn mower

Want a performance lawn mower? Try the Type R or Fireblade special edition versions of Honda’s Miimo autonomous lawn mower. Painted in Type R or Fireblade  (motorbike version of the Type R) colours, the two Miimo mowers also feature “aerodynamic” devices. The Miimo Type R’s spoiler is a complex shape requiring a malleable and waterproof material. Its centre section is wrapped in carbon-fibre vinyl to match the Type R look. The Miimo Fireblade features 45 working LED head and taillights, with Miimo Type R using 40.

A steering wheel that stores data

Jaguar Land Rover displayed a futuristic steering wheel it dubbed Sayer at Tech Fest on Thursday. In this concept, the steering wheel – which may not even steer in the  traditional sense of the word – is the only part of the car that a motorist owns in a world of shared autonomous vehicles.

It is more like a personal tablet, which stores all the driver’s travel patterns and more. It is detachable and the driver carries it along with him.

Looks a tad cumbersome, really.

Funding for personal-car rental start-up Turo

German Automotive group Daimler and South Korean conglomerate SK Holdings is leading a US$92 million (S$124 million) investment in Turo Inc, a start-up that lets people
rent out their personal cars.

The funding could help the new business withstand incursions from traditional car-rental companies, Bloomberg reported.

More than four million people use Turo’s marketplace to swop cars for a daily fee. Owners list their vehicles on the site for renters hunting for a discount or a specific model to drive. The San Francisco-based company takes a 25 per cent cut of transactions.

The new funds will go towards growth in Germany, where Turo will take control of Daimler’s struggling Mercedes auto-sharing service Croove, and throughout Asia.

The investment values the nine-year-old company at about US$700 million.

Will Singapore welcome it as warmly as it has Uber and Grab?

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2017, with the headline 'Fast lane'. Print Edition | Subscribe