FOR all you rally fans out there, here is something to drool over. Audi Sport have developed an all-electric car for US rally driver Ken Block.
It instantly brings back memories of the legendary Audi Sport Quattro S1 that graced Irish roads in the 80s with legendary rally drivers Walter Rohrl and Michelle Mouton at the wheel. It  thrilled fans on the charge to the summit of the famous Pike’s Peak Hill-Climb event in the US, aka the ‘Race To The Clouds’, with Ken at the wheel.


“The S1 Hoonitron combines a lot of what Audi was already famous for in the eighties,” says Ken, whose enthusiasm for Audi’s rally cars was sparked at an early age. “For instance, the car’s spectacular aerodynamics have now been translated into a totally modern form. I think it’s cool that the Audi designers have been inspired by their own past and uniquely transferred the car’s technologies and appearance into the present.”


Two electric motors, all-wheel drive, power galore, a carbon fibre chassis and the full safety standards as prescribed by motorsport’s top governing body, the FIA – these are merely statistics. In November, the driver got to know the car for the first time.
 “Audi gave me the opportunity to test it for a few days in Germany,” says Ken.
“I’m familiar with a wide variety of cars using internal combustion engines and transmissions, but there were a lot of new things for me to learn here. Spinning into a doughnut at 100mph directly from a standstill – just using my right foot – is an all-new experience for me. Our work was focused on getting the car and I used to each other. My thanks go to the whole Audi Sport squad for their outstanding teamwork.”
Fans will soon be able to see the US star’s success with the project for themselves: under the working title Elektrikhana, Ken Block and his team are going to produce the next video of his famous Gymkhana series featuring the S1 Hoonitron.

 Mazda upping its EV game


THE new Mazda2 Hybrid (above) goes on sale throughout Europe in spring 2022 and brings self-charging full hybrid powertrain technology to the Mazda range for the first time. It’s a self-charging, full hybrid that combines a 1.5 litre petrol engine with a 59kW electric motor to produce 116bhp. The new hybrid will accelerate from 0 to 62mph in 9.7 seconds and returns a combined cycle fuel economy of between 70 and 74mpg.
When you start your journey the Mazda2 automatically runs in electric vehicle (EV) mode, offering smooth, seamless, and quiet running on electric motor power perfect in urban environments, with zero CO2, and particulate emissions. During normal driving, power allocation is adjusted between the petrol engine and electric motor for optimum performance and the best possible fuel efficiency. During deceleration and under braking, energy is recovered as electrical energy and stored in the high-performance battery.
Battery power level is constantly managed via an engine-driven generator to remove any need to recharge the system from an external source. Although it is a compact B-segment vehicle, the new Mazda2’s long 2,560 mm wheelbase offers comfortable accommodation for up to four adults, as well as 286 litres of boot space. It is available throughout Europe in a choice of three models, Pure, Agile and Select and has the maximum five-star Euro-NCAP crashworthiness rating.
The new car is the latest outcome of a long-standing collaboration between Mazda and Toyota which means that the Mazda2 will basically be a Toyota Yaris rebadged. The Hybrid will be sold alongside the recently launched conventional Mazda2, giving customers in the supermini segment the choice of two distinct models, depending on their needs.
The is a highly significant car for Mazda in the context of Mazda’s long-term vision for technological development. Specifically, its aim is to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030, by accelerating the electrification of its fleet, and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. The new Hybrid now joins the battery electric MX-30, the mild hybrid Mazda3, and the CX-30 in Mazda’s electrified range. Prices have not yet been announced, but its safe to assume it will be around £20,000.

MG makes big sales inroads as it looks forward to New Year


I HAVE been tempted for some time to write about the latest manifestation of the MG brand, and perhaps now is the right time. MG, the UK’s fastest-growing mainstream car brand, has broken another of its own records by surpassing 30,000 new registrations in 2021.
The 30,000th new MG of 2021 was registered last weekend as the company is on target to smash all its previous records. In 2020, it sold a total of 18,415 cars, putting 2021 registrations ahead already by 11,585 cars. To put this into perspective, MG restarted production in China in 2006 and started selling cars in our market in 2011, so breaking records when starting from zero is less impressive. However, in November, the brand saw an astonishing 383.1 per cent year-on-year sales increase in the same month. The MG ZS was the UK’s sixth best-selling model across the entire car market, the first time that MG has featured in the top 10 sellers’ charts.
Much of the success was driven by the brand’s plug-in models, with MG having the highest battery-electric mix of any manufacturer selling a mix of traditional and alternative fuel cars. Another key part of the sales success was the performance of MG’s dealer network, which is growing rapidly with over 40 new sales sites being appointed since the beginning of 2021.
These sales levels show just how much demand there is for MG’s great value, well-equipped and high-quality cars, especially the electric vehicle models which currently account for almost half the total sales. MG currently offers six models in the UK including three plug-in cars – the New MG ZS EV, the New MG5 EV and MG HS Plug-in Hybrid - all backed up by MG’s comprehensive manufacturer’s 7-year warranty and rapidly developing dealer network. The current MG range runs from £12,495 for the MG3 to £30,095 for the MG HS plugin Hybrid.