Two twin-turbo V8s, a diesel straight six, and two four-cylinders – one turbocharged and with more than 300bhp, and the other naturally aspirated and attached to, of all things, a four-speed dog ’box and paired with an electric motor. Yes, September’s road test section (at the bottom of this webpage) put on an interesting spread of powertrain technologies, although with none of the five cars involved managing to score more than four stars come verdict time, we can hardly describe it as a vintage month.
The Aston was fun, demonstrating an amusing sled-like propensity for power oversteer on the Dunlop handling circuit at MIRA, but it’s still too blunt compared with much of the opposition and the interior is properly starting to feel its age. The Alpina was mighty, lavish, freakishly quick without making much fuss about it and in general had many of the hallmarks of an all-conquering ’bahnstormer, but there’s no doubt Mercedes-AMG’s GT 63 4-Door Coupé shades it for involvement and personality. Further down the order, the box-fresh Genesis was inoffensive but unlovable, the Leon phenomenally versatile but similarly unlovable, and the Mégane? The novel drivetrain concept was fascinating, but the rest of the car felt a generation old, mostly because it is.
There were bigger fireworks in the news pages. We reported that Land Rover was assessing the idea of turning the Defender nameplate into a model range in its own right, which would bring not least an unashamedly luxurious version (aren’t they all luxurious these days?) based on Range Rover underpinnings. Hydrogen power, a pick-up and an SVR version were also on the cards. Later in the month, we learned that Mercedes’ answer to the BMW i4 is due next year, with a 750bhp AMG derivative possible. At the Munich motor show, Volkswagen revealed the ID Life concept – its manifesto for a little electric crossover set to go on sale in 2025 for an exceptionally tempting price. We referred to it as the “real people’s EV” and VW hopes it will do for them what the Mini has done for BMW in the post-millennium era.
However, the really big news involved Porsche, whose new ‘e-core’ battery, we reported, was intended to give the upcoming electric 718 models true mid-engined handling balance. The cars’ dimensions would remain largely unchanged from the current ICE Cayman and Boxster, and the fine driving position would be retained, but the centre of gravity would sit considerably lower, and the styling would be strongly influenced by the Mission R racer concept, also shown in September. But the most important element would be that battery pack, positioned where the mid-mounted engine would usually sit.