From Big Old Engines To An All Electric Promise

It’s been a week of contrast in the world of cars – but perhaps one that outlines the changing nature of the industry and its future.


On one hand we see the final iteration of a true monster – the Vauxhall VXR8 – and on the other we see a major manufacturer announce their intention to do away with internal combustion-only power. Inbetween the deaths and conceptions there are anniversaries and births to boot. 


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Monster Vauxhall gets more monstrous… 


There’s something to be said about the classics. In a world of ever-shrinking engines, Vauxhall’s mighty VXR8 sticks nicely to its massive supercharged beast under the bonnet. So this is the new VXR8 GTS-R. And, sadly, the last one.


In short, it means that the current GTS’ supercharged 6.2-litre V8 now pounds out 595PS – up from 576PS. It’s also good for 740Nm of torque. Needless to say, it’s Vauxhall’s most powerful car ever.


Production of the Holden Commodore model, on which the GTS-R is based, comes to an end in Australia this October, when Holden’s manufacturing plant finally closes.


Vauxhall – a sister brand to Holden in the GM family – has been importing the VXR8 in various forms since 2007. As befits its last-of-line status, the GTS-R is no ordinary VXR8 – and in this form it’s exclusive to the UK, too. 


Visually, the GTS-R has a fresh face, with a new front fascia, splitter, wings and carbon fibre vents, while at the rear there’s a new-look diffuser, spoiler with carbon fibre upper, lower panel and quad exhaust outlets with diamond-shaped exhaust tips. 


Inside, the diamond theme continues in the Alcantara and leather seat trim. The current supercharged LSA engine has been re-mapped and is fitted with a high-flow air filter to achieve its hike in power. Just 15 examples will come to the UK, priced at £74,500.


Skoda updates its little city car 

 Skoda has launched a new version of its Citigo. The close relation of the VW up! and SEAT Mii now has a redesigned bonnet, bumpers, fog lights and radiator grille.



Skoda is promising many new design, technology and equipment features, including light and rain sensors and is being launched with three or five doors.


The line-up will consist of S, SE, Colour Edition, SE L and Monte Carlo and process will start from a decidedly reasonable £8,635.

 And so does Fiat…

 Never ones to miss a retro trick, Fiat is bringing out a new version of its 500 model to mark its 60th birthday. Now, of course, the ‘new’ 500 has only been around since 2007, but we all know that the pioneering motor of mass ownership was first launched in Turin on July 4, 1957.


So, to that end, the Italians have launched the Fiat 500 Anniversario. It’s available as a hatchback or a convertible and “honours the 1957 Italian-made icon with a contemporary re-interpretation of the stylistic features that made it famous in the Dolce Vita years,” says Fiat.



This new series has a 1960s look that references some of the historic characteristics of the car, such as the two new exclusive colours, Sicilia Orange and Riviera Green, the chrome accents on the bonnet and door mirror caps, the vintage Fiat logos and the 16-inch vintage alloy wheels.


An alternative 16-inch diamond finish alloy wheel is also available, as a no cost option, offering a modern take on the spokes of classic car wheels. The vintage elegance of the car is completed by the cursive “Anniversario” logo sported on the boot.


It comes with the 1.2-litre 69hp petrol engine, returning 60.1mpg on the combined cycle, emitting 110g/km CO2, combined with the Dualogic gearbox this reduces to 105g/km CO2, while returning 62.8mpg. The Fiat 500 Anniversario is available to order priced from £14,265.

Volvo makes electric promise 

 In what is a truly landmark move, Volvo has announced that every car it launches from 2019 will have an electric motor, marking the historic end of cars that have only an internal combustion engine.


Volvo says that the announcement represents one of the most significant moves by any car maker to embrace electrification “and highlights how, over a century after the invention of the internal combustion engine, electrification is paving the way for a new chapter in automotive history”. 



“This is about the customer,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars. “People increasingly demand electrified cars, and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs. You can now pick and choose whichever electrified Volvo you wish.” 


Volvo plans to introduce a portfolio of electrified cars across its model range, embracing fully electric cars, plug-in hybrid cars and mild-hybrid cars. 


It will launch five fully electric cars between 2019 and 2021, three of which will be Volvo models and two of which will be high-performance electrified cars from Polestar, Volvo’s performance car arm.


These five cars will be supplemented by a range of petrol and diesel plug-in hybrid and mild-hybrid 48-volt options on all models. This means that there will in future be no Volvo cars without an electric motor, as pure internal combustion cars are gradually phased out and replaced by cars that are enhanced with electrified options. 

The new Ford Fiesta is hitting the road 

 The new version of Britain’s best-selling car is about to hit the road. The first new Fiesta to be unloaded was a five-door Titanium with premium B&O PLAY audio, 1.0-litre EcoBoost 100PS engine and eight-inch touch screen connectivity.


It was transported to a dealership in Birmingham, where most Fiestas are sold. Across the country, 1,000,000 Brits have ordered new Fiestas since 2008 and more than 4,500,000 since the car first arrived in 1976.



Of the 120,000 Fiestas registered in the past 12 months, 70 per cent were five-door models, 90 per cent petrol and 60 per cent Zetec, while 20 per cent chose the Titanium series.


Ford is billing the new Fiesta as the most technologically advanced small car on sale thanks to 15 high-tech features ensuring a safe and smooth journey such as Pre-Collision Assist featuring pedestrian detection, meaning that the driver is warned of people who are in or near the road ahead, automatic perpendicular parking, blind spot alert and auto high beam.


Andy Barratt, Ford of Britain chairman and managing director, said: “This year the eyes of the car world in our market are on new Fiesta as it takes over the reign as top seller.  


“Having seen all Fiesta models coming over the next nine months, I’m confident it will remain on top.”


Joining the Ford Fiesta’s core range of Zetec and Titanium in dealerships this month will be sporty ST-Line and luxurious Vignale models in early autumn, both offering the acclaimed 1.0 EcoBoost 140PS engine, followed by an all-new Active crossover and hot ST in spring next year.

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