Car news: the biggest motoring stories 2021 - October to November

We take a look at the some of the best news stories featured on Auto Express throughout 2021...

October 

Audi A4 scoop

Auto Express found out that Audi would retain combustion-engined power when it launches its next-generation A4 compact executive saloon in 2023 with new petrol and diesel engines.

Audi’s head of technical development, Oliver Hoffman, said that Audi will “offer the A4 for a lot of years. Production of the last new model will begin in 2025 and its life cycle will end in 2033. But we will launch some models a lot earlier.”

New 2023 Audi A4 to stick with petrol and diesel power

Ford Focus Facelift revealed

Ford's Focus is one of Britain’s most important models, and with the latest version it’s a case of evolution not revolution. The Blue Oval optimised its family hatch, revising its design for a sharper look, adding more in-car tech and safety systems, and improving efficiency to reduce running costs, despite retaining the old engine line-up of petrol, diesel and mild-hybrid options. It’ll start from £22,465.

Will it remain as fun to drive as the current car? We’ll find out next year.

New Ford Focus unveiled with 2021 facelift and tech updates

Ade Adepitan backed our call for better chargepoint access for all

After being made aware of disabled EV drivers encountering accessibility issues with public chargers, Auto Express launched a new campaign to help raise the profile of a set of problems that could confront any one of us.

We kicked off our campaign by tagging along with charity Disabled Motoring UK when they conducted an audit of Brighton & Hove City Council’s publicEV chargers. The expedition revealed a variety of issues, such as parking bays that are too small for unloading wheelchairs, obstructed pavements with a lack of dropped kerbs and no provision for appropriate audio-visual signage.

A week later, our calls earned the support of environmental campaigner and wheelchair basketball paralympic gold medallist Ade Adepitan.

“It’s a great campaign, and Auto Express is to be congratulated for taking it on board,” Adepitan told us. “Am I surprised by your findings? Absolutely not. As someone with a disability, and like most people in the disability world, I’m just used to it.”

Having racked up more than 40,000 miles in his Tesla Model S, Adepitan is one of numerous EV drivers with a disability who is tired of feeling like an afterthought when it comes to charger design.

“I’m so lucky because I’m a really able disabled person, but there are so many chargepoints that are rubbish,” he continued. “If I get too close to the chargepoint, then I can’t open the door to get my chair out, and if I go further away then I’m too close to the car beside me. Other chargers are either too high and you can’t see the screen, or they’re in an awkward position for you to plug the cables in.”

The best way to drive change, Adepitan believes, is for as many disabled people as possible to get behind the wheel of an EV in order to create a large, vocal lobby of people demanding change. People without disabilities can also get on side, Adepitan added.

Ade Adepitan backs campaign to make electric cars accessible for all

Fifth-generation Range Rover revealed with a seven-seat option

In more than 50 years there had only been four generations of Range Rover until the arrival of this all-new Mk5 model, so it was a significant event in the calendar.

Land Rover announced that this new iteration – the first car from the brand on its new MLA Flex platform – would be available with plug-in hybrid power from launch. The two PHEVs – badged P440e and P510e – offer 434 and 503bhp respectively, and both have an electric range of 62 miles.

Mild-hybrid straight-six turbocharged petrol and diesel engines sit alongside a new twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 that churns out 523bhp for a 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds, making it the quickest option in the range.

A First Edition car made its debut at the launch, while ultra-luxurious SV variants were shown alongside it in both standard and long-wheelbase forms, the latter being available with seven seats for the first time, adding extra flexibility to the famous nameplate’s repertoire of talents.

The styling was just as newsworthy, with a gentle redesign up front and a reprofiled rear featuring the lights in a black panel.

New 2022 Range Rover arrives with plug-in hybrid power and seven seats

November

​​Toyota Aygo rose to challenge of city life

Many manufacturers are deserting the city-car segment, where it can be hard to generate a profit. But Toyota bucked the trend with its new Aygo X (pronounced “cross”), turning its model for the urban jungle into a city-car crossover. 

Petrol power is the only option, but that’s no bad thing, because it helps to keep prices affordable for buyers in this market, while there’s still enough on-board tech to keep them happy.

New 2022 Toyota Aygo X: crossover city car priced from £14,795

Glasgow played host to COP26

In November, world leaders gathered in Glasgow to discuss the planet’s future and the next steps in tackling climate change. One proposal was to end the sale of new non-zero-emission vehicles in leading markets by 2035 and globally by 2040. 

The idea failed to gain traction, though; just a handful of major car manufacturers signed up, with the very largest not among them, and countries such as the US and Germany also refused to commit.

What's the problem with electric cars? COP26 special

Sportier new Mercedes SL revealed

With the new SL roadster, Mercedes has turned its iconic cruiser into a rival for convertible sports cars like the Porsche 911 Cabriolet. 

Developed with AMG, the new SL is a more focused machine and comes with two V8 engine options, the most powerful of which makes 577bhp from a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 in the SL 63. An SL 55 is also available, while Mercedes confirmed a hybrid model will follow, too.

New 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL revealed as reboot of iconic sports car

Porsche powered up Cayman GT4 RS

​​Porsche revealed its Cayman GT4 RS, signalling the current Cayman could be close to the end of its life. 

The brand’s motorsport department fitted a 493bhp version of the 4.0-litre flat-six engine from the 911 GT3, while an aggressive aero kit and lots of carbon fibre ensured the GT4 RS delivered the downforce and low kerbweight a track-biased model like this needs. The price for all this performance? £108,730.

New hardcore Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS unveiled with 493bhp

Radical future for MINI mapped out

Auto Express uncovered plans for a new MINI model that will “meet the wishes of many customers”. 

The references to extra space, comfort and variability pointed to a production version of the brand’s Urbanaut compact MPV concept, while MINI also confirmed a compact electric SUV and a larger Countryman, which will arrive in 2023, the same year as a new three-door MINI. While some models will be built in China thanks to a tie-up with Great Wall, MINI also confirmed Oxford will remain “at the heart of production”.

MINI’s bold future to include small MPV based on Urbanaut concept

Hyundai and Kia wowed the LA Show with exciting seven-seat SUVs

The LA Motor Show was where Hyundai and Kia showed off the new all-electric seven-seat SUV concepts that preview new models in the brands’ respective Ioniq and EV full-electric line-ups.

The Hyundai SEVEN was more concept-like, with many elements hinting at the Ioniq 7 production SUV’s styling, including the front Parametric Pixel lights. However, the glass tailgate and lounge-like interior were more forward-thinking design to show what’s possible from future Hyundais, but maybe further ahead than 2024, when the Ioniq 7 will arrive.

However, the concept sat on the firm’s E-GMP architecture, which underpins the Ioniq 5 and will form the basis of the Ioniq 6 saloon due in 2023. This reinforced Hyundai’s production intent, and we spoke to the car’s designer, SangYup Lee, who said “I don’t do la-la-land concept – there’s always a meaning and stories tied into it, and this is actually a teaser for our Ioniq 7. This is the biggest car out of E-GMP and it questions what EV SUVs will be like.”

Despite its boxy shape, having no grilles and vents means the SEVEN concept should have good aerodynamics, something it shared with the Concept EV9 that was unveiled by Kia at the same show.

The EV9 is also based on E-GMP, and its cabin looked more production-ready. It still boasted a configurable seating layout, as well as a 27-inch widescreen display that dominates the dash.

As with the Hyundai, we spoke to the Concept EV9’s designer, Karim Habib, who told us, “It’s a concept, but it’s based on things that we have already, like the E-GMP platform. We’ve already said that we’re going to be doing seven new EVs [by 2027] and a large SUV like that is definitely something that we will do.”

With its Ioniq 5 and EV 6 models launching this year and proving the worth of the E-GMP tech, this pair of flagship concepts highlighted that the two Korean brands will have plenty of exciting new models arriving in the near future.

The best cars of the 2021 LA Auto Show

Wraps came off new Ocean, as Fisker confirmed its plans for UK base

We got the lowdown on an all-new electric SUV from Fisker when we spoke to the brand’s boss, Henrik Fisker, at the car’s unveiling in Los Angeles. He told us that the Ocean SUV would start from £32,490, with up to 340 miles of range from a battery that was “much bigger” than 80kWh. Fisker also confirmed that the top Extreme model will sprint from 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds, thanks to its 543bhp dual-motor powertrain. 

A 17.1-inch screen dominates the cabin. In Control mode the panel sits upright, rotating through 90 degrees into Hollywood mode when parked. It’s compatible with over-the-air software updates, too.

The UK will also have a hand in developing new Fisker models, after the firm announced it would set up its Magic Works engineering base in the UK, headed by former Aston Martin exec Dave King.

New Fisker Ocean details and pricing revealed at the LA Auto Show

Check out the rest of our 2021 round-up below...

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