Earlier in the week we brought you news that Skoda’s vRS-ified Kodiak had set a record at the Nurburgring.

We didn’t have a time then, but we do now – 9:29.84. It’s the fastest seven-seater around the Nordschleife circuit thanks to the driving expertise of Sabine Schmidt.

Having driven more than 30,000 laps of the infamously gruelling circuit, Sabine was the ideal driver to get the best out of the Kodiak’s new 2.0-litre BiTDI engine and the 236bhp it produces. Torque is easily accessible from the unit – reserved especially for the Kodiak vRS – thanks to Dynamic Sound Boost, and adaptive chassis control and selectable driving modes helped Sabine achieve the record.

The lap was completed with the vRS still wearing its camouflage, with the global debut set for the Paris Motor Show in October.

If you were in the market for a solid, yet hooligan-esque SUV but felt you were lacking in options, Skoda may be about to answer your prayers.

They’ve released a teaser video of a Kodiaq vRS at the Nurburgring with a promise of a ‘record breaking lap’.

Sabine Schmidt was at the helm for the lap, which will be revealed tomorrow, 14th June. Keep your eyes peeled…

Details on the hot seven-seater are yet to be announced, but it is expected to hit the market later in the year.

Want one already?

Land Rover have revealed their CORTEX project will explore the future of autonomous all-terrain vehicles.

Using LIDAR technology that monitors light, acoustics, video, radar and distance sensing, CORTEX looks to develop vehicles that can handle themselves in all conditions – dirt, rain, ice, snow and fog. The result aims to be level 4 and 5 off-road autonomy.

‘It’s important that we develop our self-driving vehicles with the same capability and performance that our customers expect from all Land Rovers,’ said Chris Holmes, head of Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Research at JLR. ‘Self-driving is an inevitability for the automotive industry and ensuring that our autonomous offering is the most enjoyable, capable and safe is what drives us to explore the boundaries of innovation. CORTEX gives us the opportunity to work with some fantastic partners whose expertise will help us realise this vision in the near future.’

The CORTEX project will utilise algorithms, sensor optimisation and physical testing on off-road terrain in the UK, and will be conducted in conjunction with the University of Birmingham and Myrtle AI, leading experts in machine learning.

You wouldn’t have been alone if you scoffed when Rolls Royce announced their first SUV a few years ago. Nor when they attached the slogan ‘Effortless, Everywhere’ to it. However, if the Cullinan pulls off its ‘Final Challenge‘ before its launch, then may people may be forced to eat humble pie.

Along with celebrated explorer Cory Richards, the Cullinan will embark on a journey that sees it start in the highlands of Scotland and encounter the snow of Austria, Middle Eastern deserts and finally ‘the toughest terrain in the United States’. There will also be miles over tricky surfaces and numerous off-road challenges along the way.

The trip will be covered online by both Rolls Royce and National Geographic, when it kicks off tomorrow, 4th April. How rigorous the challenge is remains to be seen – but it may well change perceptions of the impending SUV.

 

Yep, you read it right. Honda have chopped the roof off the CR-V.

No, really, that’s what they’ve done. The CR-V roadster has no roof at all. This pigeon holes the vehicle into a summer-driver, and is estimated to have reduced the structural rigidity by 100% and the roadster will be in showrooms from April 1st. Oh, it’s an April Fools joke!

Credit for designing the rough concept goes to Honda’s ‘PR team and an angle grinder’, who removed both the B and C pillars, creating a ‘sleek flow from front to rear of jagged metal’ on a vehicle that ‘is completely useless for the two-day British summer’.

Eipurirufūru of Honda, whose name translates as April Fool in Japanese, said of the project in a press release:

“This is a bold new direction for the CR-V and opens up an entirely new non-existent market.  Our sales target is somewhat conservative to start with, at zero cars, but we are confident that once the minor glitches are ironed out, such as the lack of roof and the fact it is totally structurally unsound, the car will fly out of showrooms.”

Prices would hypothetically start at half of that for a hardtop CR-V, as customers are ‘getting half the car’.

Well played Honda, well played indeed.

Lexus have debuted their latest SUV in Geneva, the UX.

The new compact SUV offers is labelled as an ‘urban explorer’, and is the first Lexus to be made on the new GA-C platform.

Two powertrains are on offer, but four-wheel drive is only available with the hybrid setup. The 250h is a self charging hybrid system, that produces 176bhp, and in E-Four drives both axles. It consists of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine in conjunction with an electric motor powering the rear wheels.

Suspension at the front is a single strut setup, whilst the rear is a wishbone, and the UX gets Lexus’ latest EPS system.

The UX is optimised with the latest Lexus safety features. These include a pre-collision system, lane assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic headlights, road sign assist and a preemptive parking brake.

Interior leather is made using Sashiko – a traditional Japanese quilting technique, predominantly used in making judo and kendo martial arts gear. That’s not the only interesting internal patina, as the dashboard has been inspired by the grain of Japanese paper, or washi, but there is a leather option too.

There’s no information on prices, or release dates as of yet.

 

Land Rover have stopped teasing and revealed the limited-run Range Rover SV Coupé.

The two door edition of the full fat Rangey harks back to the original Range Rover, the vehicle that spawned the luxury SUV segment, and will be limited to 999 examples.

Driven by a 557bhp supercharged petrol V8, producing 516lbf.ft, 0-60mph in five seconds and a top speed of 165mph, it’s the fastest production Range Rover to date.

Unsurprisingly, luxury is at the forefront of the agenda with the SV Coupé. Hand assembled at the Land Rover Special Vehicles plant in Warwickshire, the SV Coupé remarkably shares only two body panels with its more doorsy sibling (the tailgate and the bonnet), and offers multiple new customisations options. Interiors comparable to ‘private jets and yachts’ have swathes of quilted leather options, front-to-rear contrast seating options and three wooden veneers to choose from. Semi-precious badging is obviously an option, too, and the SV Coupé is also the first Range Rover to get 23″ alloys.

More than a hundred paint colours are offered, but colour-matching is also available, ensuring the ability to create a truly unique Rangey.

The suspension have been lowered by 8mm as standard, but still maintains the ability to wade in water of up to 900mm, and can still tow up to 3.5tonnes.

All of this luxury does come at a premium, however, with SV Coupé prices starting at £240,000 and orders will open in the final quarter of year. Plenty of time to decide on the final specs, then.

Mercedes-Benz recently released the X-Class pickup, and not long afterwards a few adventure themed concepts. They’ve announced they are now updating the range with a new engine – and permanent all-wheel drive – and will debut the model next week at the Geneva Motor Show.

The X350d utilises a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo diesel, that’s good for 258bhp and 368lbf.ft, and does 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds. A seven-speed automatic gearbox comes as standard, with paddle controls behind the wheel, as does stop-start functionality. Off-road transmission mode is featured alongside comfort, eco, sport and manual gearbox settings.

The 4matic all-wheel drive system has a low-range box and a two-stage transfer case, and distributes the power with a 60:40 bias in favour of the rear axle.

The X350d will come with two trim options, including the range-topping Power No pricing has been announced for the UK yet, but is expected to follow after the debut in Switzerland, given that it will be available from the middle of 2018.

Despite the fact the Mecca of motoring doesn’t start until next week, manufacturers have been teasing a mix of pictures, specs and new releases already. Here’s a list of what to look out for.

Honda 

Honda will reveal the European spec of the next-gen CR-V in Switzerland, with styling updates accompanying optional sixth and seventh seats and a hybrid powertrain on the new model. Oh, and four-wheel drive variants with both petrol and hybrid drivetrains.

The first deliveries are expected in autumn this year, with hybrids coming next year.

 

Jaguar

The I-Pace will get it’s full public unveiling next week in Geneva, but there will be an online reveal before then.

Tomorrow night the electric SUV will be uncovered live on the internet at 6pm. Jaguar say that the battery on the five seat SUV will charge from empty to 80% in 85 minutes, and full pricing and specifications are to be announced after the curtain drops.

 

Jeep

There will be three debutants from Jeep at this year’s show, with the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, the 2019 Cherokee and the most anticipated new model in the off-roading sphere, the fourth-gen Wrangler appearing in Europe for the first time.

Joining the new releases on their stand will be a Night Eagle special edition of the latest Compass and four Mopar kitted Jeeps, showing off the accessory brand’s latest ranges.

 

Land Rover

Land Rover have teased a limited run two-door Range Rover, harking back to the Classic. We know very little thus far, except that it’s a full-fat Range Rover minus the back doors, there will only be 999 of them and the interior looks funky.

The full reveal will be at the show on the 6th March.

 

Mitsubishi

Geneva will see two model debuts from Mitsubishi – the e-Evolution concept and the 2019 Outlander PHEV.

The all electric e-Evolution will be making its European debut at the show. The EV shows the ‘strategic directions’ of the Mitsubishi brand, combining a sharp exterior with an under-floor triple battery system. One battery drives the front axle, whilst to share responsibilities at the back, and this is paired with Mitsubishi’s all-wheel drive management setup.

A global debut awaits the 2019 Outlander PHEV at Geneva. The second-generation hybrid SUV has had its drivetrain redesigned, with the previous 2.0-litre petrol engine being upgraded to 2.4-litres. The outputs of the generator, rear motor, and the drive battery will be 10% higher than the current PHEV, whilst the drive battery’s capacity will be upped by 15%.

The Outlander’s 4WD system will also be getting more modes, including sport and snow settings.

Click here to visit Mitsubishi’s dedicated Geneva Motor Show website.

 

Skoda

Skoda have announced that they will reveal several model updates at Geneva, including the latest L&K and their latest concept.

The Kodiaq L&K will make its debut in the metal in Switzerland, as the SUV receives the top-spec treatment. A digital instrument panel will also be added to the Kodiaq lineup.

The Vision X concept looks forward to the future of the Skoda SUV family. The hybrid, ‘emotionally rich study’ operates a large touchscreen display and champions infotainment and connectivity. The powertrain in the Vision X is a four-cylinder turbo unit that runs on compressed natural gas and is enhanced by an electric motor.

 

SsangYong

SsangYong are doing well at the moment, and fresh from winning our 4×4 Of The Year Award with the Rexton, they’ve got a couple of reveals lined up for Geneva.

A new Musso will be revealed for the first time in Europe, alongside an electric offering. The e-SIV (which stands for electronic smart interface vehicle) is a concept SUV geared towards connectivity and autonomous driving, and has a slated range of 450km and can charge up to 80% in 50 minutes.

 

With more reveals certain over the duration of the show, we’ll keep you updated with everything 4×4.

Ineos have announced a partnership with MB Tech for their planned 4×4, the Projekt Grenadier.

In September last year, CEO of the chemical and energy company Jim Ratcliffe announced plans to manufacture the spiritual successor to the Land Rover Defender, thus INEOS Automotive was born. It has now been announced that Mercedes-Benz subsidiary MB Tech are going to be the engineering partners on the venture.

Head of Engineering at INEOS Automotive Alexander Quint is confident that signing with MB Tech was the correct choice for Projekt Grenadier.

“This agreement represents a great end to many months’ work securing the perfect partner for Projekt Grenadier’s development. We are working to create a very special car and it was essential for us to find the right partner. I believe MBtech’s reputation for quality, reliability and craftsmanship, alongside their long and proud history, make them the right choice. We have a supreme level of confidence in their engineering skills and know we have made the right decision.”

Work will begin on the ‘uncompromising’ off-roader this spring, with 200 engineers starting on the concept in Stuttgart, with more specifications earmarked for mid-2018.