Monday 27 February 2017

Wave of new cars as MINI, Alfa Romeo, Audi and Mercedes flesh out their model ranges

Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

The Mercedes X Class
The Mercedes X Class
Largest yet: the Mini Countryman crossover
Alpha Romeo Giulia
The Audi A5 Coupé

We've had a wave of new-car announcements and arrivals over the past week, so here are some details.

* MINI's new Countryman crossover (below) will go on sale next February and there will be a hybrid - a first from the marque - in late June. Reports suggest it will have a 40km range on one electric charge.

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Based on the same platform as the BMW 2-series and X1 crossover, this will be the largest MINI so far - it is a substantial 20cm longer and extends to 4.3m. It is also 3cm wider and has an extra 7.5cm on the wheelbase, which benefits rear-seat passengers in particular.

Such a significant shift means a re-focusing of its position in the market place, so MINI now say rivals include the likes of the Audi Q3 and Volkswagen Golf.

It sounds obvious, but they have beefed it up considerably and I think it is quite a step away from the car they rolled out six years ago. We're even promised large silver roof bars to make sure people regard it as a crossover.

Sadly, they have retained the Big Ben central display; thankfully, the rest of the cabin follows MINI layout and design. And, as is the case everywhere now, you will be able to personalise the car to your heart's content.

Among the more practical options is a rear-bench seat that slides 13cm. There is a 470-litre boot - many other small-family car makers would be happy with that.

Engines include the 1.5-litre 3cyl petrol Cooper (136bhp) while the Cooper S has a 2-litre 192bhp 4cyl. The diesels include a 2-litre diesel (150bhp and 190bhp). Their revised 4WD system, called All4, will be an option.

The hybrid will be interesting because it will inherently have all-wheel-drive as the 3cyl petrol engine (6spd auto transmission) will drive the front wheels and an 88bhp electric motor will power the rear ones (2spd box) from the back axle. That gives a combined hybrid power of 224bhp.

The lithium ion battery takes 3hr 15min to charge from a wall plug; 2hr 15min with a special wall box.

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* AUDI (above) meanwhile just announced pricing and specs for their new A5 Coupé. Prices start at €47,510 for the 2.0 TFSI 190bhp SE. Diesels start at €50,100 for the 2.0 TDI 190bhp SE.

There are two trim levels: SE and S-Line. SE includes adaptive cruise control, MMI sat nav with 7ins display, smartphone interface for iOS and Android devices, xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights. S line includes LED headlights, leather-upholstered seats, sports suspension and 18ins alloys. The brand's virtual cockpit is an option on both trim lines.

* ALFA ROMEO revealed that the much-awaited new Giulia compact executive (above) will cost from €39,995 here. The front-engine/rear-wheel drive Giulia has four engines and five trim levels.

The engines are paired with an 8spd automatic gearbox. They include a 2.2 litre diesel (150hp or 180hp), 2-litre petrol (200hp) and a 2.9-litre V6 petrol with a bi-turbo 510hp in the top-of-range Quadrifoglio, which can hit 100kmh in just 3.9 seconds. This 'super saloon' costs from €99,945.

Standard across the range are cruise control, Forward Collision Warning (FCW) with Autonomous Emergency Brake (AEB) and pedestrian recognition, and Lane Departure Warning (LDW), 17ins alloys, LED rear lights, a Uconnect 6.5ins infotainment display system with rotary pad control, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, automatic light/rain sensors etc.

* MERCEDES showed off their upcoming mid-sized double cab pick-up, the X-Class (there will also be a more rugged Adventurer version).

The car was developed as part of a joint venture with Renault-Nissan and will be made alongside the Renault Alaskan and Nissan Navara.

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