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4-Focus – New innovations from Suzuki, Bentley, Mazda and Vauxhall

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IAIN ROBERTSON TAKES A LOOK AT NEW INNOVATIONS

SUZUKI – LEANS ON TOYOTA FOR PLUG-IN HYBRID TECH

Arising from its need to broaden its range profile, Suzuki reveals its badge engineered version of Toyota’s RAV4, the Across. The RAV4 is a particularly good hybrid SUV. For a brief period of time, Suzuki will have the advantage of a plug-in version, which boasts an excellent 22g/km CO2 exhaust emissions and an EV driving range of around 42-miles. Apart from the plug in development, which Toyota will feature itself in due course, the core engineering is identical. The engine is an Atkinson cycle 2.5-litre, four cylinder unit that drives all four wheels through an e-CVT (constantly variable transmission), developing a slightly confusing 136kWrpm, which equates to around 186bhp.

Actually, it works in conjunction with the front electric motor, which draws its energy from an 18.1kWh lithium-ion battery pack located beneath the cabin floor. The engine provides extra power, when it is called into action, but most of the time it ensures that the battery is topped-up. The drive priority is always electric, although four selectable settings allow the driver some control over how the system operates. Four-wheel drive is provided by an additional rear- located electric motor (40kW) that is electronically managed to vary between 100% front to 80% rearward torque bias, dependent on road surface and weighting conditions. Improvements are felt in traction and handling balance is optimised. Known as AWD Integrated Management, it works without driver intervention to maximise stability. Across is Suzuki’s first plug-in hybrid.

BENTLEY – HIGH-END BENTAYGA SUV RECEIVES HIGH-END MAKEOVER…

Possessing a title as ‘the world’s fastest SUV’, a 4.0-litre V8 bi-turbo petrol engine, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, delivers a whopping 542bhp punch, to which is factored in 568lbs ft of torque. In ‘regular’ form, this potency entitles a top whack of 180mph, after despatching the 0-60mph sprint in an immodest 4.4s. However, it needs its cylinder decoupling technology (four of them can be cut-off during light throttle cruising) to return 21.2mpg (official combined), while emitting 302g/km CO2 allied to the price tag that will mean several thousand Pounds’ worth of road tax dues. Although it is unavailable for the moment, the 6.0-litre W12 engine is being retained for the more focused Speed model (unavailable in the UK, or Europe), which will top 190mph, glug fuel like an Oliver Reed tribute act and ensure that the performance flag flies high at Crewe.

A plug-in hybrid version will also be available to soften the eco-blow. Bentayga offers the most comprehensive range of four on-road and four off-road driving modes and, thanks to a 20mm increase in rear track width, greater stability, better steering responses and enhanced grip levels are dialled into the chassis dynamics program. Despite having just two headlamps on the new Bentayga’s more upright nose, their range and flexibility are among the most advanced of any, with 82 adaptive LEDs within each unit. The wipers are also a bit special, featuring 22 heated washer jets in each arm that clean the screen most efficiently. Prices start at £140,000, rising to almost £240,000 for the W12 Mulliner Speed model. 20,000 examples of the original Bentayga have been sold.

MAZDA – COMBINES EV WITH SUV AND RX8 STYLE ‘SUICIDE’ REAR CABIN DOORS…

Mazda’s all-new MX-30 features an all-electric drivetrain. Known as e-Skyactiv, at its core is a water-cooled, AC synchronous electric motor driven by a 35.5kWh lithium-ion battery pack that sits in the middle of the platform to provide a lower centre of gravity, which aids the dynamic balance of the front-wheel drive car. It develops the equivalent of 142bhp and almost 200lbs ft of instant torque. However, it is not thunderously potent, which means a 0-60mph time of 9.4s and a governed top speed of 87mph. Could this be a crack in Mazda’s firmament? A measured approach has dictated a more compact battery pack as an essential part of the CO2 reducing package (kerbweight: 1,645kgs). Its total range is stated as only 124-miles, which Mazda justifies by referring to the oft-quoted European average commute of a mere 30 miles. Yet, as EVs are expensive and may be the only mode of transport available to most purchasers, longer trips will need to be planned carefully to avoid range anxiety. Mazda promises significant improvements in efficiency and recharging the battery pack from 20 to 80% will take three hours on an AC charger, or 36 minutes using a DC charger…which could equate to lots of coffee stops. MX-30 can be driven using just one pedal, accompanied by a pair of steering wheel paddles for finer progress control and a sonorous and relatable performance tone played into the cabin through the Bose hi- fi system. Although a brake pedal exists, 99% of driving needs will be catered for by the active throttle pedal and the driver’s use of it.

VAUXHALL – CLEVER DESIGN TOUCHES ENSURE NEW MOKKA-E IS NOT A MOCKERY…

The new Mokka-e is fronted by the Vauxhall Vizor headlamp display, containing 14-element, Intellilux, non-glare LED mains, a styling feature that will be applied to future Vauxhalls, to differentiate them from their PSA Group stablemates. Also unique is an innovative Pure Panel dashboard development. Thanks to a siamesed-pair of electronic ‘flat-screen’ displays that are not unlike the more complex versions employed by Mercedes-Benz in its cars but are significantly easier and more logical to use, Vauxhall will redeploy the hardware for its future model developments. Beneath the Mokka-e lies its electric drivetrain, laid out to ensure a lower centre of gravity by spreading the components more evenly between the front and rear axle-lines. It is worth noting that both frontal and rear body overhangs are minimised as much as possible, which emphasises the containing effect.

Boasting only a single, electric drive motor and 50kWh battery pack, rated at 136bhp and a healthy 191lbs ft of instant torque, the Mokka’s acceleration is competitively brisk, even though its top speed is restricted to a mere 93mph. Mind you, as this has a beneficial impact on its potential range (c. 200 miles), it is a fair trade-off. The driver has a choice of three selectable modes, Normal, Eco and Sport, while Mokka-e’s recharging capability means that, using a 100kW DC plug-in post, up to 80% charge can be provided within 30 minutes. Naturally, it can be slow-charged domestically, slightly speedier and more economically using a dedicated wallbox, and all necessary cabling is provided. The battery is covered by an eight years warranty.

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