Wheels & Deals: Audi A3; VW electric; Alpine GT; BMW's Gran Coupe; Dacia growth; Toyota's GR Yaris

Declan Colley reports on the new A3 Sportback, a new VW electric model, the new Alpine GT, BMW's Gran Coupe, Dacia growth and looks ahead to the new Toyota GR Yaris

Wheels & Deals: Audi A3;  VW electric; Alpine GT; BMW's Gran Coupe; Dacia growth; Toyota's GR Yaris

The premium compact segment came into being with the Audi A3 back in 1996 and now the fourth generation of the hugely successful model is being introduced to the market and it is sportier, digitalised and fully connected.

According to Audi, the new A3 Sportback features compact proportions and a sporty design inside and out. On the outside, the single-frame grille and large air inlets at the front end accentuate the dynamic character of the premium compact car. The shoulder of the body extends in a smooth line from the headlights to the rear lights. The surface below is curved inward – a new element of Audi’s design that puts a stronger emphasis on the wheel arches.

The sporty theme continues in the interior with the new gear stick, aluminum or carbon inlays, striking door openers and an instrument panel with a black-panel look. Seat upholstery made of recycled PET bottles and adorned with stylish contrasting stitching are being used for the first time.

The cockpit is wholly focused on the driver and uses familiar elements from the brand’s full-size models. It is equipped with a 10.1-inch touch display as standard, which is integrated into the centre of the instrument panel. This recognises letters entered by hand, provides acoustic feedback and can be controlled using natural language.

The instrument cluster, which the driver operates via the multifunction steering wheel, is also digital as standard. The Audi virtual cockpit offers additional functions such as a large display of the navigation map. The plus version measures 12.3 inches and offers three different views, including graphics with a sporty look.

The MMI operating concept is powered by the new third-generation modular infotainment platform. Its computing power is ten times higher than that of its predecessor, it performs all tasks relating to connectivity, including telephony and the Audi connect services with LTE Advanced speed, and also has an integrated Wi-Fi hotspot.

The new A3 Sportback is being launched in Europe with a choice of two engine versions – a 1.5 TFSI with 110 kW (150 bhp) and a 2.0 TDI that delivers 85 kW (115 bhp)– both through the front wheels. Power will be transmitted by a six-speed manual transmission or the quick-shifting seven-speed S tronic, the selector lever of which is now designed as a compact shifter. The driver can push and pull this to control the basic functions of the automatic transmission.

Shortly after market launch, Audi says it will be gradually expanding the offer to include further engine versions, including an electrified drive system

The new A3 Sportback also offers more space and functionality combined with compact external dimensions. Measuring 4.34 metres in length and 1.82 metres in width without the mirrors, the premium compact car has grown by just over three centimetres compared with its predecessor. The height of 1.43 metres and the wheelbase of 2.64 metres remained unchanged. Depending on the position of the rear bench seat, the boot holds between 380 and 1,200 litres, and the loading floor can be inserted at different heights.

The car is due to launch in Ireland in late Spring 2020 with additional details to be announced closer to the time.

VW forged ahead with its electric mobility strategy

Volkswagen’s ID. CROZZ2 showcar has evolved into its series production version, and it will be called the ID.4.

VW is forging ahead with its electric mobility strategy and, after the Geneva Motor Show was cancelled last week, the company providing a detailed insight into the brand’s first all-electric SUV during a webcast.

The new ID.4 will be launched this year and, following in the tracks of the ID.33, the countdown has already begun for the second model based on the new modular electric drive matrix (MEB).

“Just like the ID.3, the ID.4 will also come onto the market as a carbon-neutral vehicle”, explains Ralf Brandstätter, Chief Operating Officer of the Volkswagen brand. “We will produce and sell the ID.4 in Europe, China and the US.”

The design of this zero-emission SUV is particularly aerodynamic and, according to Brandstätter, the outstanding aerodynamics reduce the drag coefficient, and it will boost the ID.4’s range to up to 500km, depending on the drive package.

He added that the ID.4 will initially be launched with rear-wheel drive, while an electric all-wheel drive version will be added to the portfolio at a later date. The high-voltage battery is positioned near the center of the underbody to create a low centre of gravity and an optimum in terms of driving dynamics, along with an extremely well-balanced axle load distribution.

Just like all other MEB models, the ID.4 offers plenty of interior space thanks to its compact, electric drive technology. The fully digital cockpit of the zero-emission SUV has been clearly structured.

It is operated primarily using touch surfaces and intelligent, intuitive voice control. For Volkswagen, the ID.4 and ID.3 represent important milestones in the brand’s bid to become entirely carbon-neutral by 2050 – in line with the Paris climate agreement.

Plans have been put in place to reduce the Volkswagen fleet’s CO2-emissions by a third by as early as 2025 and VW is currently investing one billion euro to electrify its model range while also offering an increasing number of hybrid vehicles.

This is based on the fact that, just like electric powertrains, new mild and plug-in hybrid drives in large-scale product lines such as the all-conquering Golf will significantly help to reduce fleet emissions in the future.

This is why the company’s focus during the webcast is not only on ID. models, but also on new Volkswagen models with hybrid drive.

These include the new Touareg R4 . As a result, the most powerful Volkswagen model will in future also be powered by an efficient plug-in hybrid system. The alliance between an electric drive motor generating 100 kW (136 bhp) and a V6 turbocharged petrol engine (TSI) with an output of 250 kW (340 bhp) develops a system output of 340 kW (462 bhp).

The battery capacity of the Touareg R with a top speed of 140 kph in all-electric E-MODE has been designed so that most average daily commuting distances can be covered with zero emissions.

The same applies to the new Golf GTE5 – its plug-in hybrid drive has been geared towards performance and consists of an electric drive motor with 85 kW (115 bhp) and a four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine (TSI) generating 110 kW (150 bhp).

Further Volkswagen highlights include the new Golf GTD6, which generates significantly lower nitrogen oxide emissions compared with its predecessor thanks to innovative twin dosing technology, plus the eighth generation of the Golf GTI7, produced more than 2.3 million times.

The most recent version is powered by a 180 kW (245 bhp) 2.0-L turbocharged direct-injection engine. The maximum torque is 370 Nm. The four-cylinder engine is coupled with a 6-speed manual gearbox as standard. A 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox (DSG) is optionally available for the new GTI.

Alpine's A110 Légende GT is most refined A110 to date

Alpine has revealed the new limited-edition A110 Légende GT, the most refined interpretation of the A110 to date, alongside the A110 Colour Edition 2020 and the new Atelier Alpine personalisation programme.

Limited to 400 examples worldwide, the A110 Légende GT takes the existing A110 Légende and adds bespoke design elements both inside and out, raising the A110 Légende’s elegant persona further.

A110 Colour Edition 2020 is a new annual programme which introduces a new limited series to the Alpine model range. For 2020, A110 Colour Edition is based on the A110S finished exclusively in Sunflower Yellow and will be offered for sale between now and the end of 2020. After this period, the paint finish will be retired from Alpine’s colour palette.

Finally, Atelier Alpine is the French sports car manufacturer’s personalisation programme. Along with 29 new exterior paint options which take inspiration from heritage colours from Alpine’s past, it also offers various wheel finishes and brake caliper colours.

The combination of the 249 bhp 1.8-litre turbocharged engine, minimal weight and dual-clutch transmission help A110 Légende GT accelerate from zero to 62mph in 4.5 seconds and allow for a top speed of 156 mph. The car comes with several features as standard: an active sports exhaust, uprated Brembo brakes, parking sensors, a reversing camera and Focal stereo lend A110 Légende GT exacting driving dynamics as well as effortless everyday usability.

Alpine design director Antony Villain comments: “With A110 Légende GT we have stretched the sophistication and grand touring aspects of the A110 – showing that as well as being a thrilling sports car, an Alpine can equally be a refined GT as well. It is the most elegant Alpine so far, designed to appeal to buyers who value lasting quality and timeless design, be it in the watch they wear, the clothes they choose or the sports car they drive.

“The three colour options we have made available for A110 Légende GT reinforce the car's subtle and refined character. The pale gold elements and translucent taillights clearly identify the most sophisticated car in the Alpine range. The amber leather upholstery within the cabin and carbon fibre pieces with a warm copper weave, meanwhile, deliver our most inviting interior yet. A110 Légende GT is the perfect sports car for that well-earned weekend getaway.”

The A110 Légende GT is available from €69,300.

Like the A110S, A110 Colour Edition 2020 features high-end Dinamica upholstery across the cabin and the new model has the same high specification as the A110S, as well as the same 292PS powertrain and focused chassis tune for a 0-62mph time of just 4.4 seconds, while the top speed is 162mph.

Alpine Design Director Antony Villain comments: “The new A110 Colour Edition programme gives us the opportunity to really enhance the characteristics of different versions of the A110. For 2020, we have recreated the Sunflower Yellow colour from Alpine’s past, here with a solid finish to really complement the sporty, intense persona of the A110S. For me, Sunflower Yellow and the A110S make for a perfect combination.”

The A110 Colour Edition 2020 is available at €71,000.

BMW new departure with pure-electric Gran Coupe

BMW is opening a new chapter in its history with the unveiling of a pure-electric Gran Coupe.

The BMW Concept i4 takes electric drive to the core of the BMW brand and heralds a new era for the manufacturer.

The BMW Concept i4 represents a look ahead to the BMW i4, slated to enter production in 2021 as the BMW Group’s first all-electric model in the premium midsize class.

We are told that production of the i4 will start next year and characteristics will include a range of 600 km (WLTP), output of up to 530 bhp, 0 – 100 kph acceleration of approximately 4.0 seconds and a top speed in excess of 200 kph.

“The BMW Concept i4 brings electrification to the core of the BMW brand,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “The design is dynamic, clean and elegant. In short: a perfect BMW that happens to be zero emission.”

The drivetrain’s standout numbers include a range of 600 km (373 miles/ WLTP), output of up to 530 bhp, 0 – 100 kph acceleration of approximately 4.0 seconds, but BMW says that the driving qualities of the BMW Concept i4 cannot be expressed in figures alone. The virtually silent delivery of power creates an entirely new sensation of dynamism.

“The design of the BMW Concept i4 shows fantastic proportions, a powerfully expressive character and, of course, a lot of attention to detail,” adds Domagoj Dukec, Head of BMW Design. “With the BMW Curved Display, we have redefined BMW’s signature driver focus in an extremely elegant way. At the same time, the BMW Concept i4 transports a feeling of sustainable driving pleasure.” As part of the package, the Concept i4 includes several exterior and interior design elements which will make an appearance in both the BMW i4 and other electrically-powered production vehicles.

The BMW Concept i4 is not only characterised by its individual design, but also by its own visionary and unique sound. It was developed under the brand name of BMW IconicSounds Electric by world renowned composer Hans Zimmer together with BMW Sound Designer Renzo Vitale. BMW IconicSounds Electric aims to emotionalise BMW's electric vehicles and make them audible using individual sound worlds.

The sound of the BMW Concept i4 achieves this to perfection – it combines BMW’s past and future. It gives the driver the feeling that there are no limits of expression. The sound is manifold, surprising and it provides a sense of lightness and transparency. The sound worlds of the BMW Concept i4 range from the driving sounds in "Core" mode to the more intense and pronounced sounds of "Sport" mode.

Also included are the sounds of the door opening and the starting scenario.

Fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology is a defining feature of the BMW i4 and therefore also of future electric mobility. The BMW iX3 due to go into production in 2020 will lead the way in the application of the new tech, which will be introduced in a number of electrically powered BMW vehicles – such as the BMW iNEXT and BMW i4.

The electric motor, power electronics, charging unit and high-voltage battery using fifth-generation eDrive technology are all-new developments enabling the BMW Group to take another significant step forward in the field of electrified drive systems.

The electric motor developed for the BMW i4 is said to rank alongside a current BMW V8 combustion engine.

The company is investing a total of around 200 million euros in Plant Munich to bring series production of the BMW i4 to fruition.

True to its reputation as an automotive game-changer, Dacia has revealed the next part in its product offensive with the Spring Electric: a concept car previewing its first all-electric model as it joins the zero-emission revolution.

Dacia's remarkable tale of sales growth

In just 15 years Dacia has grown to more 6.5 million customers worldwide across the Logan, Sandero and Duster models.

The next step of the company’s development will centre on a new model called the ‘Spring Electric’ and it is said to showcase the next step in its success story as it continues to change with the times while staying true to its original values of creating vehicles which are simple, modern, reliable and affordable.

Dacia is utilising Groupe Renault’s 10-year experience as a pioneer and leader in electric mobility, whose vision is to provide affordable and sustainable mobility accessible to all.

The Spring Electric is in line with this vision, while reinforcing the values and philosophy of the Dacia brand.

The 100% all-electric city car focuses on the essentials, combining simplicity, reliability, and accessibility. The production version of the Dacia Spring Electric will be available in the first half of 2021, with a range of more than 124 miles (based on WLTP test procedure) which is perfect for urban and suburban use.

With its all-electric powertrain and battery adapted for everyday use, the Dacia Spring Electric meets the practical needs of urban and suburban mobility. It is a robust vehicle which gives private and fleet owners the full range of benefits of electric vehicles: low running costs, ease of driving, silent operation, zero-emissions, simple to charge and easy to maintain.

The production version of all-new Dacia Spring Electric will be available from early 2021 in selected markets.

Excitement builds ahead of arrival of new Toyota GR Yaris

The countdown to the arrival of the new Toyota GR Yaris continues with the launch of an advance reservation service for sports car enthusiasts who want to be among the first to own the rally-bred performance hatchback.

Pre-sales will commence from 10:00 CET on March 5. Customers in selected European markets will be able to register their interest via an online platform, offline contact methods and by contacting their local Toyota retailer. Those who sign up will be given priority access to purchase a car, with first deliveries expected towards the end of 2020.

Developed by Toyota Gazoo Racing in partnership with Tommi Mäkinen Racing, the GR Yaris is the performance flagship of the all-new Yaris range. Powered by a 261 DIN hp 1.6-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine it is expected to offer 0-100 km/h acceleration in less than 5.5 seconds. Its performance, lightweight construction, dynamic balance and new GR-FOUR intelligent all-wheel drive system are key to its role as the road-going basis of a future Toyota World Rally Championship competition car.

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