Cars, hyundai, Spyshots

SPIED: Hyundai 45 – angular production crossover


Remember the rather fantastical Hyundai 45 Concept from last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show? Well it turns out the car wasn’t so fantastical after all, because it looks like this minimalist crossover is headed to production, as these photos from our European spy photographers show.

The development prototype that you see here may be covered in copious amounts of camouflage, but that arrow-shaped front end, sharp creases and angular rear hatch mark it out as a car clearly inspired by the show car. The almost beak-like full-width front grille remains, but the headlights are more conventional than the concept’s cubic items, though that may just be for this test mule.

Shutlines have also been reduced thanks to a clamshell bonnet, while lower down, the bumper sports just a single air intake opening. Along the side, the outlandish quad sliding doors have been replaced by conventional portals and handles, and the side-view cameras have given way to rather basic-looking mirrors. The car will still get SUV-style body mouldings, however, based on the pressings on the front fenders.

The rear end is heavily disguised, but expect the production car to retain the concept’s heavily creased rump, albeit without some of the fancy pixelated lighting effects. Finishing off the look are the wheels, which may not be quite as intricate as those of the concept, but they still have a radical geometric design that almost has a Ferrari F40 look to it.

As the 45 Concept was designed as an all-electric vehicle, so should the production version. Currently, Hyundai’s most advanced electric powertrain can be found in the Kona Electric, which is powered by a 204 PS/395 Nm motor juiced by a 64 kWh lithium-ion battery, giving the similarly-sized crossover a range of 482 km on the WLTP cycle. It’s unclear if the 45 will get a more powerful setup, perhaps with all-wheel drive.

The 45 is inspired and named after Hyundai’s first ever concept car, the 45-year-old Pony Coupé Concept. It’s also so named because the exterior styling, exhibiting a unique version of the company’s Sensuous Sportiness design language, features 45-degree cuts at the front and rear, which is set to be a feature on Hyundai’s future EVs.

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Cars, Rolls-Royce, Spyshots

SPYSHOTS: 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost on road trials


The next-generation Rolls-Royce Ghost has been spotted out on test again, this time with its production bodywork visible and with just the camouflage foil applied, without the concealing shrouds of before.

Where previous iterations of the Ghost development vehicle sported a row of circular holes beneath the headlamps, we can now see that in these positions are what appear to be slim, horizontal intakes above a more sculpted mid-bumper section, beneath which are the intakes. The headlamps themselves feature a different arrangement, now bearing a closer resemblance to those on BMWs.

It appears that Rolls-Royce has been careful not to depart drastically from what its customers know and like, and the forthcoming Ghost’s interior appears to be of a similar layout that of the current model.

Click to enlarge

Detail changes over the current car’s interior include a revised layout for the buttons on the multi-function steering wheel, and the air-conditioning controls appear to be in a single unit rather than the current car’s separate ‘pods’ in between dashboard trim surrounds. For the driver, instrumentation now appears to be digital, as on the Phantom.

This forthcoming Ghost is underpinned by the firm’s ‘Architecture of Luxury’ which also forms the basis of the eighth-generation Phantom and the Cullinan, and its application for the latter means that all-wheel-drive is a possibility for the Ghost. Here, a development of the 6.75 litre biturbo V12 engine will most likely be employed, along with a GPS-aided eight-speed automatic transmission.

Our sources have also indicated that the purely internal-combustion V12-powered Ghost could be joined in the line-up by an all-electric version later on, as well as a plug-in hybrid variant. In the meantime, the next-generation Rolls-Royce Ghost is expected to debut in 2021.

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Cars, Ford, Spyshots

SPIED: Ford Puma ST caught completely undisguised


Occasionally, if our spy photographers are really lucky, they manage to capture forthcoming cars completely undisguised. That is indeed the case here, where the Ford Puma ST was caught without a shred of camouflage covering its blue body.

Enthusiasts have been up in arms over Ford recycling a name previously reserved for a coupé for yet another crossover, so a hotted-up version is perhaps the Blue Oval’s way to make amends. Not much can be gleaned externally at first glance, as this car sports a similar look to the ST Line version of the standard car, incorporating the same larger air intakes, deeper side skirts and body-coloured cladding and rear diffuser.

Look closely, however, and you’ll realise quite a bit is going on underneath. Up front, there’s a deep chin spoiler that adds a touch of purposeful sportiness, while a bigger intercooler appears to be wedged behind the centre inlet. Also appearing to be bigger are the front disc brakes that fill the 17-inch alloy wheels much better than the weedy standard items, while the rear end gets a pair of round tail pipes.

Inside, the most notable change is the beefier Recaro seats, complementing the ST Line’s flat-bottomed steering wheel and unique gearknob. Since the Puma is based on the Fiesta, the ST should get the latter‘s 1.5 litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine that makes 200 PS and 290 Nm of torque, along with a six-speed manual gearbox. Expect the zero-to-100 km/h sprint to be slightly slower than the Fiesta’s 6.5 seconds.

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Cars, hyundai, Spyshots

SPIED: 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe facelift – new hybrid?


The Hyundai Santa Fe is arguably the automaker’s best-selling SUV globally, so it’s big news when our spy photographers managed to catch a facelifted unit undergoing tests just two years after the fourth-generation TM model debuted.

Apparently, the D-segment SUV will get a considerable exterior makeover, but more importantly Hyundai will introduce hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of it, too. According to the spy photographers, this particular prototype is of the hybrid, with the assumption being based off the wheel size and design.

On the design side of things, it’s said that the headlights will get a new T-shaped LED daytime running light design on each side, as well as a new Cascading Grille, front and rear bumpers, as well as new tail lights.

Currently, the Santa Fe is available with a total of six engines, starting with the entry-level 2.4 litre four-cylinder Theta II MPI engine (available in tunes of 170 hp and 185 hp), 2.0 litre T-GDI engine, 2.0 litre and 2.2 litre turbodiesel mills, as well as the top 3.5 litre V6 Lambda engine. Depending on the engine, the car can be had with either a six-speed manual, six-speed auto, or eight-speed automatic transmissions.

Whether or not the existing powertrains will continue to be offered remains to be seen. It’ll also be interesting to see how Hyundai plans to position the hybrid offerings.

Elsewhere, expect the cabin to get the same three-tiered dashboard design, but updated with the latest infotainment display and new trim materials. Interior space is one of the Santa Fe’s strong suits – Hyundai claims the lengthier wheelbase provides best-in-class legroom for the second row and improved headroom for the third row, but hybrid variants will likely lose out on third row seating (like the Nissan X-Trail Hybrid) to accommodate the battery pack.

GALLERY: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi Premium

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Cars, Kia, Spyshots

SPYSHOTS: 2020 Kia Picanto facelift seen in Sweden


It’s been three years since the third-generation Kia Picanto made its world debut, and while 36 months may seem like a short time in the grand scheme of things, this is when high volume city cars like the Picanto are due for an update.

With that, our spy photographers have managed to catch a prototype unit of the Picanto facelift for the first time. In northern Sweden, no less. It’s still fully clad with camouflage wrap and protective covers, but reports suggest that the production car will officially make its debut later this year, if not in early 2021.

There’s not much for us to go on regarding design changes, but expect a revised front face, new wheel designs, and perhaps small tweaks to its rear end. Similarly, the cabin will get subtle revisions, perhaps with updated tech such as a larger infotainment display (up from the current 7.0-inch unit) with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. It won’t likely get the Seltos‘ 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with split-screen functionality, though.

For powertrains, the existing range of engines will be carried over, including the range-topping 1.0 litre T-GDI three-potter which makes 100 PS and 172 Nm of torque. Other naturally-aspirated options are the 1.0 litre MPI unit making 67 PS and 96 Nm, as well as the familiar 1.25 litre MPI engine with 84 PS and 122 Nm of torque. Transmission choices include a five-speed manual or four-speed auto.

Expect no changes to boot space – the Picanto offers a decent size of 255 litres, along with a two-step boot floor which can be raised or lowered by 145 mm. The rear seats feature a 60:40 split-folding mechanism, which when folded provides 1,100 litres of space.

Lastly, expect Kia to up the ante with regards to safety. Currently, it has six airbags (front, front side and curtain airbags; knee airbag optional), ABS with EBD and brake assist, stability control, hill start assist, ISOFIX rear child seat anchors, tyre pressure monitoring system, autonomous emergency braking, and forward collision warning system.

Moving forward, Kia has plans to produce a pure electric version for all its models, including the Picanto. Kia Europe COO Emilio Herrera said while it is ‘a big challenge’, it will have to be done sooner or later. Could there be a pure electric version of the third-gen Picanto, then?

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Cars, EVs and Alternative Fuel, Hybrids, Mercedes-Benz, Spyshots

SPYSHOTS: Mercedes-Benz SL returns to fabric roof, to receive up to 800 hp in SL73 hybrid twin-turbo V8


The all-new, next-generation Mercedes-Benz SL has been spotted by our spy photographers, and the forthcoming roadster appears to be undergoing some key changes for its next iteration. Firstly, the next SL will mark a return to the fabric roof after preceding generations of the folding hard-top which the German brand started using with the first SLK, and this generation of SL will also feature rear seats.

This early development car is certainly wearing heavy disguise, which leaves still a considerable amount of the aesthetic to the imagination, though the move to a fabric roof construction will help offset any weight gain from additional equipment to come with the next-generation luxury roadster. This will share underpinnings with the next Mercedes-AMG GT, both of which will use the Modular Sports Architecture and save on development costs as a result.

With the next SL to be engineered alongside the next AMG GT, the luxury roadster can be expected to be ‘far sportier’ than the current model, said AMG chief Tobias Moers, though it will still have the “perfect compromise between driving dynamics and comfort” in order to fulfil the cruiser brief, Moers said, adding that this forthcoming SL will be made exclusively as a roadster, which means there will no longer be a hardtop.

It is very much early days in terms of determining the next SL’s engine line-up, however this is rumoured to comprise a 435 hp inline-six, a 522 hp biturbo V8 and the obligatory Mercedes-AMG SL63 version with around 612 hp. This generation may also mark the return of the SL73 AMG badge, the larger numbers denoting not a 7.3 litre V12 but rather an electrified petrol V8 powertrain. This is expected to be a 204 hp motor for a total output of 800 hp and 1,000 Nm of torque, our sources say.

We can expect plenty more development car appearances in the coming months by the next SL which could debut in 2021 at the soonest, and the next-generation AMG GT sports car sibling that shares its platform is set to follow a year after as a 2022 model. Until then, what do you think of the SL’s return to the fabric roof?

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Cars, EVs and Alternative Fuel, Hybrids, Jaguar, Spyshots

SPYSHOTS: Next-gen Jaguar XJ goes fully electric


The next Jaguar XJ flagship sedan will become fully electric, which will be followed by the next-generation Range Rover that will share its MLA platform. This development mule photographed here wears a modified Jaguar XF exterior, though a camouflaged front end and taller side sills mark this out as something different underneath.

The MLA platform’s ‘skateboard’ architecture means that the next XJ – the group’s first to use the platform – and by extension, the next Range Rover won’t be confined to just a fully electric drivetrain, as the platform will accommodate diesel, petrol, hybrid as well as fully electric powertrain layouts, Jaguar Land Rover said, and is said to be even lighter than the outgoing D-series platform.

The Tesla Model S is the obvious contender in the premium electric sedan segment, though this, along with the fully electric Jaguar XJ will be joined by EV models from the traditional luxury establishment, namely the Mercedes-Benz EQS, fully electric BMW 7 Series, Porsche Taycan and the Audi e-tron GT.

Powertrain details for the next Jaguar XJ are still scant, though for comparison Autocar reported that the Mercedes-Benz EQS is expected to use a 90 kWh battery pack for an estimated range of ‘between 400 km to 500 km’. An 80kWh battery gives the 402 hp/765 Nm EQC crossover a range of 417 km, while the base Porsche Taycan 4S with the standard 79.2kWh battery offers 407 km of range and a peak output of 530 PS.

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BMW, Cars, EVs and Alternative Fuel, Hybrids, Spyshots

SPIED: Fully electric G20 BMW 3 Series seen testing


BMW is well and truly in the realm of electrified vehicles, with the likes of the i3 and the mid-engined i8; it also currently has the iX3 in development that’s due to debut this year. Its bread and butter model, the 3 Series has included a plug-in hybrid in its ranks, though without a fully electric version – until now.

Here, our spy photographers have spotted a G20 development unit with ‘Electric Test Vehicle’ stickers along its sides. The front end of the electric 3 Series bears the most exterior visual changes, where the kidney grille here is closed off to improve airflow efficiency as the EV powertrain dispenses with the cooling needs of internal combustion engines.

Further downwards, the front bumper is also concealed, though the centre section appears to take after that of the G20 330e, and the outboard sections also hint at similar shapes as applied to those on the plug-in G20. Viewed in profile, the electric mule here appears to be G20 business as usual, though rolling stock on the eventual production car will feature unique items.

Around to the back, the electric 3 Series wears a unique rear bumper as there is no need for exhaust outlets and its cutouts, while the rest of the G20 sedan’s exterior bodywork appears unchanged. If the proportions appear slightly unusual, that’s because this is likely a long-wheelbase version of the G20 3 Series, which historically means that the use of this particular chassis could turn out to mean a China-specific model.

The stretched body also means there will be additional room for larger battery packs and therefore greater charge capacity, which could then mean the introduction of a longer 3 Series chassis for the rest of the world. The iX3 crossover will be BMW’s first to adopt its fifth-generation eDrive technology, which helps the motor in the iX3 deliver 286 hp and 400 Nm of torque; outputs which are close to the 330e’s 252 hp and 420 Nm.

Should this electric powertrain be used for the EV 3 Series, its outputs will almost match those of its PHEV and pure petrol siblings. Depending on the battery pack’s capacity, the EV 3 Series could feature a range that matches – or at least comes close to – the iX3’s estimated range of over 400 km.

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