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Lagonda name to return
Extreme luxury saloon – for Middle East only | By Andrew Frankel

It has been a busy month for Aston Martin, which has finally decided what it is going to do with its long dormant Lagonda nameplate. It last surfaced on a vast 2009 SUV concept car, it being fair to say that the gasps it attracted at the time were not all in admiration. Thereafter its recently departed CEO Dr Ulrich Bez told Motor Sport his plan was to have Lagonda as a standalone model rather than a marque, to bring back to life the Aston Martin Lagonda, in SUV form.

But now, in another change of plan, Lagonda is to be reborn as an ultimate saloon car sold, initially at first, in the Middle East alone. Teaser pictures reveal little about the car save that it seems to have an ultra-long wheelbase, distinguishing it from the extant Rapide saloon and its extremely compact rear quarters. Aston talks of design cues being taken from William Towns’ iconoclastic 1976 Aston Martin Lagonda and the exhumation of Lagonda’s ‘finest of fast cars’ ethos.

It is known that the car will be built around an elongated version of Aston Martin’s versatile V/H platform architecture and it is safe to assume a version of its V12 engine will be under the bonnet, though whether that is the 6-litre motor used in the DB9, Vanquish and Rapide or the 7-litre engine developed for the One-77 has not been disclosed. However we do know it will be built in the space recently vacated by the £1 million hypercar, that favoured clients alone will be invited to buy one and that its price will reflect ‘the car’s exclusivity, quality and luxurious nature’. Aston Martin says the car will be offered ‘exclusively’ in the Middle East, though that would not preclude subtly different versions being offered in Aston’s largest export markets, such as the US and China, were there demand.

In the meantime Aston Martin has also finally found a way of incorporating ZF’s eight-speed gearbox into the transaxle design of the Vanquish and Rapide S. On paper the effects are transformative, increasing the Vanquish’s top speed from 183mph to 201mph while the Rapide now does 203mph, making it the fastest Aston Martin in production. Closer gearing and shorter shift times contrive to cut the 0-62mph time of the Vanquish to 3.8sec and the Rapide to 4.2sec, both now healthily competitive times for their respective sectors. In addition, fuel consumption is improved by more than 10 per cent, with a corresponding fall in CO2 emissions and a welcome extension of range. Motor Sport will be reviewing both these new models next month.

New Rolls ready to roll

Rolls-Royce has announced a new model to join its existing Wraith, Ghost and Phantom ranges. Due on sale in the middle of 2016, Rolls is saying nothing about the car save that it will deliver ‘effortless open-top touring’, but you don’t need to be an industry analyst to twig that with saloon, coupé and convertible versions of the Phantom already on sale, but only saloon and coupé Ghosts, the new car is a convertible Ghost.

It is not yet known whether it will retain the Ghost name or, more likely, be named after the two-door Wraith upon which it is based. Rolls also has a considerable arsenal of currently unused names to draw upon, including Cloud and Dawn, though if a new label is to be used, it is thought most likely to be Corniche. Like the Wraith and Ghost, it will use Rolls-Royce’s 6.6-litre BMW-derived V12 twin-turbo motor and sit on a steel structure heavily evolved from that of the BMW 7-series.

Mini Jag breaks cover

Jaguar has released the best image yet of its XE small saloon, the car aimed to transform the sales of the company and provide the platform from which a new, compact Jaguar SUV will in time be developed. The nose of the car has a strong and distinctive face as well as clear family resemblance to the XF and XJ saloons it joins.

Jaguar has also released some very interesting data concerning the structure of the car and the brand-new home-grown Ingenium diesel engine that will power the best-selling versions. Unlike any other car in its class, up to 75 per cent of the XE’s monocoque will be made from aluminium, an achievement Jaguar describes as a milestone in body engineering. Until now aluminium has been too expensive to use in high volume, relatively low-cost production.

The new Ingenium engine will be available in petrol and diesel form and based around a thermodynamically optimal 500cc cylinder capacity. Jaguar says that in the XE the diesel will be capable of 75-plus mpg and less than 100g/km of CO2. In this class, currently, no rival BMW, Mercedes, Audi or any other conventionally powered saloon can touch the XE in either regard.

The XE will be unveiled to the world in London on September 8.

A 286mph Bugatti?

Details of the Bugatti Veyron replacement have been widely reported in the motoring press this month. If the stories are to be believed, and they sound plausible enough, the new car will go on sale in 2016 powered by a 1500hp version of the current 8-litre W16 motor, an output reached by a combination of conventional means and hybrid assistance. It is said this will be sufficient to push the new car through the air at 286mph or 460kph.

The new car is believed to be testing now and will feature a lighter carbon-fibre structure to offset the additional weight of its bespoke hybrid system. It remains to be seen whether that system will be fully integrated and automated like that of a LaFerrari, or capable of operating independently so the car can drive on electric power alone like a McLaren P1.

Boris and diesels: the truth

You will have noticed more than a little hysteria concerning the Mayor of London’s plan to charge drivers of diesel cars an additional £10 levy for driving within the congestion zone. Now it has died down a little, perhaps the news can be seen with a sense of perspective.

First, if it happens, it won’t be introduced until 2020 and will apply only to diesels that cannot meet Euro 6 emissions standards, with which many diesels already comply, so will only affect diesels that at the time of introduction are five years old or more. Second, what is near enough guaranteed is that come 2020 Boris won’t be in his current job. True, his plan to stand for Parliament next year could put him in Downing Street by the turn of the decade, but that is getting a little ahead of ourselves.

Actually I think the plan, while somewhat ham-fisted, has a little merit insofar as we should all be encouraged by both carrot and stick not to drive into major conurbations. Of course the inconsistency is that all around Europe diesel is seen as being kinder to the environment than petrol, because of its lower CO2 emissions, and is priced accordingly. But technically CO2 is not toxic and therefore not officially a pollutant…

The real issue the plan fails to address is the emissions of lorries, coaches and taxis powered by old engines with little or no pollution control measures that are often left running at the side of the road. There is a proposal to fine people caught doing this, one

I wholeheartedly support.

Rapid Caparo evolves

Caparo has released a drawing and some details of its latest take on the infamous T1, probably the fastest road car ever conceived but with an unfortunate habit of breaking down and catching fire with television presenters on board.

The new T1, called the T1 Evolution, is promised to be far more powerful still, with 700bhp from a ‘bespoke’ powertrain, a rise of 175bhp. If weight remains at around 500kg it is likely to offer a power-to-weight ratio not far removed from a modern F1 car. To go with that Caparo promises improved suspension, aerodynamics, driver aids and telemetry. No price information has been provided, but Caparo says interested parties can order one now.

*Land Rover has announced that its latest Range Rover Sport SVR has lapped the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife northern loop in 8min 14sec, a time that would have put it in the top half of the grid for the last ever 1000Kms race held on the circuit, though Stefan Bellof’s 6min 11sec pole position lap still seems a little way off…

*After October there will no longer be any requirement for you to display a paper tax disc in your car and thereafter no more will be issued. Cars will still need to be taxed in the usual way, but enforcement will be provided by cameras with number plate recognition technology. The other significant change is that outstanding tax will no longer be transferable between owners: when DVLA is notified of a change of ownership, the proportion of unused tax will be refunded to the owner while the new keeper must retax the car afresh.

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