Five innovative arrivals: Audi offers luxury comfort, VW extends eGolf’s commuting range and Hyundai’s new i30 yearns for the open road

Many drivers have lost interest in electric vehicles since the Hong Kong government increased taxes on them on April Fools’ Day – but here’s five new cars with innovative tech to tempt

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 July, 2017, 4:29pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 July, 2017, 10:05pm

The new Audi A8 “should be here next year”, Audi Hong Kong spokeswoman Katty Chu says this week, but the actual dates and prices are unknown.

The marque unveiled its new, even comfier “flagship” luxury saloon in Barcelona on July 11, and its first deliveries are expected in Europe “in late 2017”, Audi says.

The A8 range is topped by a six-litre W12, and with an eight-cylinder, four-litre diesel version due later.

However, Hongkongers might be happy with the three-litre V6 turbo TFSI with 340ps – or hang on for a subsequent three-litre A8 L e-tron quattro hybrid with 449ps and 700Nm.

Audi’s “flagship” model should delight, with new design, touchscreen upgrades, and all-wheel steering and active suspension innovations.

“The Audi A8 is also the first production car to have been developed for highly automated driving,” the marque says.

“From 2018, Audi will gradually be putting piloted driving functions such as parking pilot, garage pilot and traffic jam pilot into production.”

Such technology may be a problem in Hong Kong, where transport officials take long, hard looks at self-driving electronics on crowded roads, and the latest 7-Series was sold here without BMW’s self-parking key.

Even so, the quattro, 5.17-metre new A8 should show the marque’s advances in lights, first with the HD Matrix LED headlights with Audi laser lighting and also with an LED light strip and OLED technology at the rear that “produce unique light animations as the driver approaches and leaves the car”. The A8 L stretch version will have a 13cm longer wheelbase and should be the better seller in Hong Kong.

Volvo’s XC60 arrives in Hong Kong this month in three variants: the XC60 T5 (HK$499,800, or US$63,890), the Momentum (HK$529,00) and the Inscription (HK$549,00), and with HK$20,000 “early bird discounts”.

The 4.69-metre models reveal how Volvo now uses 90 and 60 series parts, a stronger lightweight build and also upgrades the marque’s City Safety with steering support, blind-spot and oncoming lane-mitigation systems. Other highlights include a nine-inch touchscreen, air purifying and lots of connectivity.

Many drivers have lost interest in electric vehicles since the Hong Kong government increased taxes on them on April Fools’ Day. Tesla, Renault and even BMW’s local dealers seem rather quiet about their fine plug-ins, but Volkswagen Hong Kong’s electric-vehicle energy is far from flat.

No wonder, because the lithium-ion battery of its second-generation e-Golf has been increased from 24.2 kilowatt-hours to 35.8kWh, delivering 136ps instead of 115ps, and with a range boost from 190km to 300km. The latest e-Golf now also reaches 100km/h in 9.6 seconds, 0.8 of a second faster than its predecessor, and still runs at 12.7kWh per 100km, and with 20Nm more torque at 270Nm.

Volkswagen also says the model can be charged at a 7.2kW charging station in “about five hours 20 minutes”, or 45 minutes for an 80 per cent charge at a Combined Charging System station at 40kW. The latest e-Golf also has a new eight-inch Discover Media “infotainment” system “that supports navigation with a Hong Kong map”, the marque says, adding “for the first time, the e-Golf is also being offered with the Active Info digital cockpit”. The new plug-in costs “from HK$449,980”.

In Canada, it reportedly costs C$35,995 (US$28,560), but provincial rebates can cut its sticker price by C$14,000 in Ontario, C$8,500 in Quebec and C$5,000 in British Columbia, according to The Globe and Mail. Hong Kong’s electric-vehicle tax seems sillier every week.

Jaguar has also released further details of its E-Pace, (main picture) a new five-seat compact performance sport utility vehicle packed with the marque’s latest Ingenium engines and “the latest connectivity and practicality solutions for busy families” on 21-inch wheels.

The marque says the 4.4-metre E-Pace’s 4G Wi-Fi hotspot can enable up to eight devices to stream content and a Touch Pro infotainment system connects customers to their favourite apps on the move. The model also has a 577-litre boot, 12.3-inch screen, head-up display, voice-control technology and configurable dynamics technology that lets drivers set their own throttle, steering and transmission preferences. Look out for the 249ps and 300ps petrol versions, the latter promising 100km/h in about 6.4 seconds, with lightweight suspension, all-wheel-drive and more torque-inducing electronics. The model will be produced at Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria, and “exclusively for the Chinese market” at Chery Jaguar Land Rover’s Changsha plant. Sales over the border are expected “in 2018”, the marque says. Hongkongers may have to wait longer.

The new Hyundai i30 N looks exciting too. “Born in Namyang, honed at Nurburgring”, it seems built for speeding tickets on Hong Kong’s winding back roads at night. Its two-litre T-GDI turbo engine produces about 275ps and 353Nm torque and is packed with an electronic limited slip differential, electronic-controlled suspension, high-performance tyres, lap timer, sports seats and more on 18-inch Michelin or 19-inch Pirelli high-performance Hyundai N tyres.

A rev-matching function “supports smooth gear shifting”, while the overboost function increases torque and acceleration by about 8 per cent and 6 per cent respectively, Hyundai says.

The N’s electronic suspension can be set for commutes or racing, and its instrument cluster has a G-Force meter for live performance tracking. Inspired by Alzenau, Germany-based Hyundai Motorsport’s World Rally Championship participation since 2014, the i30 N is Hyundai Motor’s first “N” high-performance car. Produced at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Czech in Nošovice, the New Generation i30 was designed to “deliver maximum driving fun”, Hyundai says.