To sum up: Tesla's Cybertruck unleashed and the Aston DBX
Lots of new cars dropped this week at the LA motor show, with many new SUV's appearing and the usual plethora of EV's that we are becoming numb to, after so many releases in recent years. Undoubtedly the biggest news this week is the release of the long-awaited Tesla pickup, which promises to be the first utilitarian EV. Other new releases include the first Aston Martin SUV, the DBX, as well as VW's fully electric estate and the latest GP JCW Mini has finally been revealed. Ford meanwhile has taken a steaming turd on the legendary Mustang name, with an electric SUV no less.
Tesla from Tron?
Elon Musk has been shouting from the hills about the upcoming pickup model for months now and we can finally see the renders of the new vehicle, alongside the demo vehicle displayed in LA. The vehicle promises to be as usable as the diesel alternatives, but with EV performance and emissions benefits. As usual there is massive interest in the latest Tesla model, as the leading light within the EV landscape. Yet another model to feature in every YouTube drag race video for the next 6 months.
The pickup starts in an alternative fashion to most pickups by utilising a monocoque chassis design (rather than an old ladder frame design), with what appears to be unpainted steel panels. The pickup is set to have seating for six inside as well as a 1500kg payload capacity and over 2800 litres of space. These figures, along with a towing capacity of 6350kg means that it will easily match up to it's GM rivals in practical terms. The pickup is also available with bulletproof glass, hopefully not of the same batch of the ones on the demo car, as they broke apart on the stage, embarrassing.
As per Tesla's usual marketing structure, the Cybertruck will be available with multiple motor layouts, with one, two or three motors available. The most exciting (and the one that will fill your news feed for weeks) is obviously the tri-motor version as it packs the biggest punch, as well as the longest range. The top model is capable of 0-60mph in just 2.9 seconds, with a range of up to 500 miles, making it both; much faster and equally as usable as Ford, Dodge and GM rivals. The top model will cost from around $70,000 (£54,500), while the single motor base model will be available from just $39,000 (£31,000). The truck is set to go on sale from 2021 and 2022 for the top tri-motor model. Expect the UK prices to increase substantially over these amounts once they have been taxed to high heaven.
The Mini for the Track
Another long awaited model that has appeared this week, the third evolution of the JCW Mini GP. The new lighter, faster, more aggressive version of the latest Mini model features 302bhp and 332lb ft from it's 2-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged engine. All this power is sent to the front wheels alone via an eight-speed automatic gearbox and mechanical limited-slip differential (unfortunately no manual option is available). The power upgrades give impressive performance stats, with 0-62mph in just 5.2 seconds before hitting a 164mph top speed. Enough speed to take on any of the current hot hatchback contenders, while maybe not quite reaching the ridiculous levels of the Audi RS3 and Mercedes A45 AMG S.
The chassis has also undergone some major work, building on the standard JCW model with a wider track front and rear, by 40mm, alongside a 10mm drop in ride height. The suspension is outfitted with new dampers, springs and stiffer bushings, along with stiffer engine mounts and increased camber angle (all very race car). Another exciting upgrade is the 360mm front brakes discs, clamped by large four piston calipers. The car's weight has been reduced thanks to the removal of the rear seats and sound deadening, with bespoke GP seats and new steering wheel. Promising stuff, though the interior of the car is not quite as bare bones as it's predecessors, for better or for worse.
As you have probably noticed, the GP features some seriously cool carbon fibre spats above each wheel, speaking of wheels, the four-spoke items have been brought back again from previous GP models, though this time sized at 18" and of forged construction (more race car weight saving tactics). Body modifications are completed by the usual front splitter, diffuser and large rear spoiler. The 3000 car run (575 destined for the UK) will begin arriving at customers doors from March next year with prices starting at £33,895 ($43,500).
VW's EV Estate
Volkswagen latest ID model, the Vizzion shows their plans for a crossover-style electric estate. The estate and saloon version are set to go into production starting in 2021, at VW's Emden plant in Germany, with production also planned in America from 2022. The estate is set to be similar in size to the current A6 Avant, offering plenty of practicality that is generally lacking in their previous ID concept cars.
The Vizzion will be available in both rear-motor RWD guise as well as an all-wheel drive model with an additional front mounted motor. The dual-motor model (the one everyone will want) will pack 335bhp and 486lb ft, which will give impressive performance, 0-62 in 5.4 seconds and a limited 109mph top speed. Power will be provided via an 82kWh lithium ion battery to give an estimated 367 miles of range on the WLTP cycle, impressive compared to current similar sized offerings.
The styling of the new concept follows similar lines to all previous VW ID vehicles, also following the same interior cues with a spacious and modern style to the interior. This is complemented by a large centrally mounted touchscreen and the typical lack of buttons and switches, as we are used to with the latest crop of EV vehicles. The Vizzion is also displaying a new style of steering wheel with integrated touch displays as part of its design. The Vizzion is yet another piece of the expanding VW ID puzzle, with plans to be selling over one million electric cars per year by the end of 2022.
Ford Brings Shame to the Mustang Name
It's taken over 50 years but Ford has finally slapped the Mustang nameplate on an SUV, clearly a pure sales tactic, though one drags the legendary name through the mud in the process. Though the Mustang coupe will still remain on sale (don't panic), the new model will arrive next year in the electric SUV form as pictured above.
As with most electric models, multiple motor and drive layouts are open to the buyer. Both RWD and AWD is available, along with two different battery pack sizes. Ford is set to release the model with a top 'GT' specification, packing the most power and most impressive performance. The range topper is slated to provide 458bhp and 612lb ft, with a sub 5 second 0-62mph time despite the hefty 2200+kg kerbweight. The most impressive range meanwhile is available from the base single-motor RWD model and larger battery pack, giving an estimated 370 miles between charges (which is better than all rivals in it's class including the current Tesla Model X).
The car's styling is instantly familiar with it's namesake, the current Mustang coupe, with a similar front end and muscular haunches. The familiar front grille sets the car apart from rivals SUVs, while the B-post rearwards shows familiar lines with other SUV coupes currently on the market. Inside it's the usual EV story, lack of buttons and switches with all functions assigned to a large central touchscreen. The base model will start at £40,270 ($43,895 in the US), with the range topping First Edition models starting at £58,000 ($59,900 for US customers), expect the first cars to hit the road next year, with UK deliveries starting at the latter end of the year. As you can see from the prices, the UK is as-per being punished with large import taxes compared to our American cousins.
The SUV to Save Aston Martin
Struggling for sales, massive debt for the development of new models and Brexit looming, now is not the best time financially for Aston Martin. The DBX SUV, the car to save the company, has been released this week after a barrage teaser images and videos over the past couple of months. It's 4.0-litre AMG V8 packs a huge 542bhp punch, allowing for 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, meaning the car will accelerate even faster than Aston's stock prices have been falling. The car will go on to 181mph, not quite the levels of the Lamborghini Urus or Bentley Bentayga but still massively impressive for a high-rise vehicle.
The car's weight of 2245kg is just a hair more than it's Lamborghini rival, while being over 150kg lighter than the aforementioned Bentayga (option dependent). The car has been built from the ground-up on an entirely new platform, as such it is said to be offering handling as good as the company's sports models, while the styling also takes inspiration from it's smaller siblings. The car is said to have impressive off-road capabilities thanks to raise-able air suspension, four wheel drive and the nine-speed auto 'box from their friends at Mercedes.
The interior has been upgraded to offer more luxury even than the DB11 GT models, with expensive materials alongside a new touchscreen and MMI system to offer more usability than the Vantage and DB11 models. You would expect a nice interior though, for the amount you will be spending is even more impressive than the car's performance stats. The DBX starts at a heady £158,000 (that's over $200,000), before you start browsing the extensive options catalogue. This is competitive when lined up against rivals from Lamborghini and Bentley but is much more expensive than Porsche, Mercedes and BMW offerings. Can the DBX be the car to save Aston Martin? SUVs are popular right now but the DBX is entering an already saturated market, against some seriously accomplished rivals.