Monthly Archives: June 2018

Audi’s new flagship SUV has been revealed. The Q8 is a coupé version of the former range-topping Q7, and becomes the new face of the German marque’s growing SUV portfolio.

The new Singleframe grille, accentuated by the front spoiler and air inlets, provides a striking face for the luxury SUV, which is rounded off with contrasting door and wheel arch trims on a body that is shorter, longer and wider than the Q7.

Inside, the Q8 offers quilted leather seating, an elegant and smooth dash featuring two touchscreen control panels and optional contour lighting. The 10.1-inch touch screen on the dash controls the infotainment and navigation functions, whilst the 8.6-inch display below it covers the heating and air conditioning, convenience functions and text input, too. Usefully, this is designed to be operated whilst the driver’s wrist rests on the selector lever. Responsive voice control helps the driver, for example, if it hears a statement of hunger, it will respond by suggesting local eateries. Behind the wheel sits a third, 12.3-inch screen that shows the driver the usual info and stats, which can also be seen in the heads up display.

The infotainment system also works in conjunction with the MyAudi app, controlling the navigation system, music and transfer the smartphone’s calendar into the Q8.

Permanent four-wheel drive powers the Q8, courtesy of a mild hybrid system, with a 48-volt lithium ion battery and belt alternator starter working alongside a trio of combustion engines – initially a 3.0-litre 282bhp diesel V6, that will be followed by a 228bhp version and a 335bhp petrol. Regenerative braking can recover up to 12kW of power for the battery.

Adaptive air suspension has 3.5-inches of adjustability, and there are 10 inches of ground clearance on offer. Four wheel steering is optional, with five-degrees of added agility available from the rear wheels.

Driver assistance is plentiful on the Q8, with four driver assist packages. The Tour package includes adaptive cruise control and lane assist functions, and manages speed in corners and on roundabouts. It also has Emergency support, which detects within system limits whether the driver is active, if not it sends out an audible alert, and if required stops the vehicle in its lane and sends out an emergency call. These work alongside emergency safety systems that avoid collisions in traffic. Park package contains manoeuvring assistance, avoiding collision with steering input and automatic braking, plus kerb warning, automatic parking pilot and its close relative the remote garage pilot – controlled via the myAudi app. However, Park plus suite won’t be available upon initial launch.

The plus assist package will combine the tour, emergency and parking packages into one… package, plus assistance in steering with a hitched trailer.

No official information has been released regarding the price of the Q8, but the flagship SUV is set to go on sale in the summer.


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.

A Range Rover with a 2.0-litre petrol engine. Truly, we never thought we’d see the day.

Last time Land Rover put such a small petrol unit in a proper-sized vehicle, it was the first-generation Discovery MPi. And just look how well that worked out.

But there’s no cause for concern. The P400e is a million miles away from that bad old Disco. It’s petrol engine is part of a plug-in hybrid system – which dishes out a total of 404bhp and 472lbf.ft. The latter peaks from 1500rpm and most of it is there from standstill, electric motors being what they are, so the only resemblance between this vehicle and the wheezy, breathless MPi is a small, green, oval one.

Well, there’s also the fact that it’s built to be masterful off-road, albeit thanks now to a cornucopia of electronic sensors rather than any reliance on basic engineering. That’s just an inevitable by-product of Land Rover’s march to where it is now, however, so there’s no point being rooted in the past – and anyway, there was no off-road part to the brief test drive we had in the vehicle, though a set of back roads rougher than many a green lane proved that even with 21” wheels to cope with, the Range Rover’s air suspension is capable of smoothing out pattery corrugations and crashy pot holes alike.

But what we’re here for is to experience the effects of the hybrid powertrain. It has an EV mode, which allows you to glide around at low speeds with literally no mechanical noise to be heard, though the petrol engine does still kick in under enough load. In theory, you can do 31 miles on battery power, and with plug-in charging this means that under the right circumstances, you can get to and from school, work, Waitrose and so on without ever using a drop of petrol.

In the real world, where the electric motors simply assist the engine, the results are impressive to the point of being startling. You can build speed smoothly, quietly and with ridiculous ease – the engine doesn’t sound strained, and the electric side is impossible to detect in action.

That’s not the case when you’re pulling out at T-junctions, however. Twice on our brief drive, as we put out foot down the Range Rover eased out with an initial hesitancy followed by a sudden surge of torque that kicked out the back end  and brought the traction control rampaging in to keep us from going into a spin. Definitely not a very Range Roverly state of affairs.

Nonetheless, this is a sublime 4×4 whose smoothness and refinement are backed up by a claimed 101mpg. And at £95,500 as tested, it almost looks cheap by the standards of today’s luxury SUV market. Turns out a 2.0-litre petrol engine was a welcome addition to the Range Rover range after all.

FCA have this morning outlined their latest Five Year Plan, and it focuses on it’s best-selling marques. You may have guessed that Jeep is one of them, and it is set to have nine new or refreshed vehicles by 2022. The presentation pencilled in an exciting new DesertHawk badge for high-speed sand coverage due in a couple of years.

Plans for the brand outline a brand-new A-segment baby SUV, filling the presently vacant rung below the Renegade, which will be replaced by an all-new version.

C-segment vehicles will remain as the Wrangler and the Compass – the latter of which will be refreshed – whilst the D-segment will see a new Cherokee, plus new entrants of a 3-row SUV and the long anticipated truck.

Above them a two-row Grand Cherokee will sit alongside an E-seg three-row, and in the category above Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer models will return.

Each of the vehicles in the plan will come with plug-in hybrid as an option, and hybrid and electric power will replace diesel engines in Jeep vehicles by 2022. The brand intends to offer 10 PHEV models and four purely electric. Autonomous features will grow into the range over the next five years, with level 3 autonomy expected by 2021. European targets are set at nine PHEVs and five mild hybrids.

Only the latest JL Wrangler will remain as it is on the current European line-up.

It was also announced that FCA plan for the Ram Trucks brand to also grow, with a production Ram TRX off-road pick-up, a new mid-sized pick-up to compete with the Ford Ranger et al, plus new versions of the Ram 1500 and Heavy Duty models.