Geneva stars

The hot metal that sizzled at Switzerland’s premier motorshow

ASH WESTERMAN

Mercedes-AMG GT four-door

IT’S SURELY a sign of the times when a new Mercedes-AMG model arrives with 470kW and it’s not even the performance flagship. That’s the case with the GT four-door, very much an E-Class under the skin and effectively an upmarket replacement for the AMG CLS63.

The scale of AMG’s ambition with this model is evident in the range of engine choices. Opening the line-up is the GT 53 powered by the new turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six with an electric compressor, good for 320kW/520Nm.

Next rung up features the ubiquitous 4.0-litre V8 in base, non-S tune, making 430kW and 800Nm, which happen to be the outputs of the most hardcore of the current coupe line up, the GT R.

Topping this – for now – is the real heavy hitter, the GT 63 S, belting out a new personal best for the M178 engine: 470kW and 900Nm. All three models use the MCT 9G transmission and the 4matic all-wheel-drive system from the E63, making a clear mechanical distinction between this four-door and the Coupe models, the latter of which have ‘just’ seven ratios and are rear-drive only.

The advantages of AWD traction and extra gear ratios appear to be born out in the performance figures. The GT 63 S weighs 2045kg (a whopping 495kg more than the GT R coupe) yet allegedly gets to 100km/h 0.2sec faster than that car, in a claimed 3.2 seconds.

But as they say in the infomercials, wait, there’s more. We understand that a range-topping hybrid model will follow in 2019, using an electric motor on the rear axle to help produce a combined 590kW and offering an electric-only range of around 50km.

ASH WESTERMAN

France delivers the hang-up message

France has taken the lead on the world’s strictest mobile phone use laws, banning any contact with your mobile device until the vehicle is parked in a designated area or space with the engine off. The recent court ruling follows increasing fatalities on French roads, with the road toll peaking in 2016 with almost 3500 people losing their lives in cars.

In Australia, the rules regarding phone use behind the wheel are already almost as tough, though Aussie drivers can handle their phone if pulled over at idle on the side of the road.

Rangie’s Roller roller

It’s set to be Range Rover’s most premium offering ever — the SV Coupe, limited to just 999 hand-built units. Touted as a rival for the forthcoming Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV, the SV Coupe is shorter, lower and features a more aggressively raked roofline than the model on which it’s based. The interior, naturally, has been hit hard with the opulence stick. Four plush individual seats feature, with a fulllength wood-capped centre console extending from the dashboard to the rear of the cabin. Price? Around $500,000, we believe.

PEUGEOT 508

INSPIRED by Peugeot’s stunning Exalt (2014) and Instinct (2017) concept cars, this new-from-tip-to-tail 508 generation is a fusion of traditional sedan and coupe forms, and marks Peugeot’s acceptance that it needs to offer something different if it’s to compete with German premium brands. Now a liftback-sedan with exotic frameless doors, the new 508 looks dramatically different to the dowdy thing it will replace in Australia later this year. Riding on PSA’s lightweight EMP2 platform (for a 70kg weight saving), the new 508 is significantly shorter and lower than the old car, but 31mm wider. It also gets its ‘508’ model name mounted above the front grille, just like its 404 and 504 ancestors.

NP

BMW M8 Gran Coupe Concept

AFTER multiple false starts over the years, BMW is finally serious about taking on Mercedes-AMG at the top end of Sporty Town. The M8 Concept is a slightly more edgy, angular representation of the company’s performance flagship due late this year, and will provide a rival for the heavy-hitting AMG GT four door (left). BMW hasn’t revealed mechanical details, but we understand the M8 will run a higher-output version of the M5’s 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, torque-convertor auto, and switchable all-wheel drive.

As the for the rest of the 8 Series range, expect it to closely follow the powertrain line-up of the 7 Series: six-cylinder turbo-diesels and petrols to open, a hybrid, a V8, and an M-badged V12 option to lord over them all.

AW

JAGUAR I-PACE

BILLING itself as the world’s first premium electric SUV, ahead of Audi’s imminent e-tron (and ignoring Tesla’s MPV-esque Model X), the production Jaguar I-Pace differs little from the concept car unveiled at Geneva a year earlier. Featuring an electric motor on each axle for a combined 294kW/696Nm (and 0-100km/h in 4.8sec), the I-Pace can fastcharge its batteries to 80 percent within 40 minutes and has a maximum range of 480km. Priced from $119,000 when it goes on sale in Oz late this year, the I-Pace rejects Jaguar’s traditional long-nosed form for a daringly cab-forward stance, and fully exploits the packaging advantages of its electric drivetrain, including 656 litres of boot space.

NP

Volvo V60

IF WAGONS are all about versatility, the all-new V60 from Volvo scores early points against its three key German rivals. A 2872mm wheelbase – 96mm longer than its predecessor – helps deliver 841 litres of luggage space, considerably more than the BMW 3 Series Touring, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate and Audi A4 Avant. Two turbocharged petrol powertrains – T5 and T6 – will be available, alongside a pair of diesels in D3 and D4 guises. But in line with Volvo’s commitment to introduce electrified variants of all of its models by 2019, the V60 will offer two petrol-electric plug-in hybrid alternatives – a 253kW version in the T6 AWD and a range-topping 290kW T8 AWD. Expect them early next year.

AW