SEAT has been putting the durability of its new Leon X-Perience to the test, across the extreme terrain of the Sahara desert. Travelling hundreds of miles across rocky ground and dunes, the rugged estate had to cope with huge temperature variations - from below zero at night to plus 50 degrees during the day. The Leon’s airtight passenger compartment held up well, ensuring that not even a micron of dust got into the car, even during sandstorms. The SEAT Leon X-Perience is on sale now, priced from just over £28k OTR.
Hyundai’s first high-performance model - the i30 'N' - is being put through extreme winter testing in Sweden. World Rally Championship driver Thierry Neuville got behind the wheel, powersliding through snow and ice over a frozen lake to get a feel for the new car’s performance and handling. Reporting back to the engineers, the aim is to fine tune the Electronic Stability Control, Limited Slip Differential, steering, suspension and tyres. The Hyundai i30 N is set to hit showrooms later this year.
The Audi RS 3 is being reintroduced in five-door, Sportback guise. Powered by a 400PS TFSI engine, 0-62mph takes 4.1-seconds and - with the optional dynamic package plus - the de-restricted top speed is 174mph. The RS 3 is 25mm lower than a regular A3, and has flared front arches to accommodate a wider front track and the standard fit 19-inch alloys. At the rear there’s an elongated RS roof spoiler, a rear diffuser and an RS exhaust system with large oval tailpipes.
Mercedes-AMG has unleashed the fastest estate car in its segment - the E 63 S 4MATIC+. Powered by a 612 bhp 4.0‑litre V8, the all-wheel drive sports wagon sprints from 0-62mph in just 3.5 seconds, yet at the same time the engine is now more efficient thanks to a cylinder deactivation system fitted as standard. New design details include a sporty front end with a coupé-like bonnet, wider arches and large AMG alloys. The new Mercedes-AMG E 63 S will debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March.
BMW has revealed its fifth generation 5 Series Touring. The new estate car is larger and more spacious than the outgoing model, but around 100kg lighter. It will be available with four engines, with stand out figures including a 0-62mph time of 5.1 seconds for the 3.0-litre 540i while the 520d offers up to 65.7 mpg. The boot capacity has increased and the now standard-fit Air suspension at the rear means the new car can carry loads of up to 730kg - 120kg more than its predecessor. The BMW 5 Series Touring will make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March.
The most powerful MINI Clubman yet has gone on sale, starting at £29,345 OTR. Receiving the full John Cooper Works treatment, the new Clubman features upgraded suspension, styling tweaks and an all-wheel drive system as standard for maximum traction when putting the hammer down, unleashing 231 bhp for a 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds. If you require an eight-speed sports Steptronic transmission, that’ll cost you an extra £1600 while a Chili pack - with heated seats and 19-inch alloys will set you back an extra £2,000.
Further details of the new Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain model have been revealed. With flared arches, large wheels, and 4MATIC all-wheel drive as standard - the latest E-Class also features a model-specific ‘All-Terrain’ mode which includes settings for off-road driving, and raises the car by an extra 20mm. Only the E 350 d model is expected to go on sale in the UK next year - with pricing to be set around the £50k mark.
The Volkswagen Golf has been updated with a focus on digital technology, becoming the first compact car to feature gesture control. Exterior changes are subtle with redesigned bumpers and restyled headlights with LED daytime running lights, while on the inside there’s a completely new generation of infotainment systems. Powertrain revisions include a new 150 PS, 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine plus a power boost for the GTI model up to 245 PS, while a new 7-speed DSG transmission which will gradually replace the old 6-speed box. UK pricing and specification for the new VW Golf has yet to be announced.
Skoda has facelifted its Octavia saloon and estate, with crisp lines, a new grille and new LED dual headlights. The rear has also been tweaked, while on the inside new features includes updated driver assistance technology and a choice of three new touch screen infotainment systems. Two petrol and two diesel engines will be available from launch when the revamped Skoda Octavia hits showrooms early next year.
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Mazda has refreshed its Saloon and Estate Mazda6 models. Highlights include technology updates, interior improvements and the introduction of G-Vectoring Control - which varies engine torque to each individual wheel, improving handling. As before, there are two petrol and two diesel engines on offer, although the 2.2 diesel unit now has reduced turbo lag and more torque. Prices are set to remain unchanged when the revamped Mazda6 goes on sale later this year.
Mercedes has revealed its new E‑Class estate and the more powerful AMG E 43 4MATIC version. Available with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, the new model features up to 1820 litres of boot space despite its new, sportier roof line. The AMG E 43 features plenty of sporty-styling, runs on 19-inch AMG alloys and is powered by a 3.0-litre V6, mated to 9-speed automatic gearbox for a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds on to a limited top speed of 155mph.
BMW has facelifted its new 3 Series Saloon and Touring models. Revised headlights now include optional LED units while under the bonnet the majority of engines are completely new. The 340i saloon features a new 3.0 litre six-cylinder engine producing 320 horsepower and 450 Nm of torque, while the new 330d Touring has a 0-62mph time of 5.6 seconds and returns 55mpg on the combined cycle. The new BMW 3 Series goes on sale in July with prices yet to be announced.
Audi has unveiled the third iteration of its prologue design concept - the allroad - at the Shanghai Auto show. The Estate variant features a raised body and a more rugged stance, with 22-inch wheels and flared arches. The hybrid show car is powered by a 4.0-litre TFSI V8 and an electric motor for a total system output of 734 bhp and 900 Nm of torque, which helps launch the allroad to 62mph in 3.5 seconds while returning up to 117mpg.
Order books have opened for a trio of Volkswagen Golf Estates. The Golf R and GTD Estates and the Golf Alltrack have like-for-like trims with their hatchback counterparts but bootspace is increased from 380 litres to up to 1,620 litres with the rear seats folded flat. On the road prices start at £26,790 for the Golf Alltrack, while the Golf GTD Estate comes in at £28,285,and the range-topping Golf R Estate starts from £33,585.
Audi has confirmed its all-new Q7 SUV will be priced from £50,340 OTR when it goes on sale in April. The SE launch model is powered by a 272PS V6 TDI, mated to an eight-speed tiptronic transmission, while a more frugal 3.0 TDI variant joins the line-up later in the year. The Q7 S line model costs £53,835 OTR and is fitted with all-weather LED headlights, 20-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass and S line styling enhancements. First customer deliveries are set for August.